April 20, 2024

Sunrise — 6:03, 6:08.



Much as he hates to side with conservatives, Bill Maher worries about the sexualization of children in schools and entertainment media.

Watch the whole thing to see what I mean:

"Elephants learn crucial social and behavioral skills from their mothers and other relatives, with whom they share intense emotional bonds."

"Instead of experiencing all this in their natural homes, elephants used in circuses are exploited—made to do meaningless circus tricks on the road."

A statement from PETA, quoted in "Elephant escapes circus, roams streets of Montana" (WaPo).

People are finding this amusing...

... but it isn't, really.

"There is chaos that is happening."

Said Laura Coates, quoted in "A history of CNN’s Laura Coates, who calmly narrated a self-immolation/She’s a lawyer-turned-journalist who captivated viewers by reporting calmly on a tragedy unfolding before her eyes" (WaPo)(free access link).
“We have seen an arm that has been visible that has been engulfed in total flames,” she said, two fingers on an earpiece that connected her to CNN’s control room. “We are watching multiple fires breaking out around his body and person.”

Powered off.

According to Mr. Dennett, the human mind is no more than a brain operating as a series of algorithmic functions, akin to a computer. To believe otherwise is “profoundly naïve and anti-scientific,” he told The Times.

For Mr. Dennett, random chance played a greater role in decision-making than did motives, passions, reasoning, character or values. Free will is a fantasy, but a necessary one to gain people’s acceptance of rules that govern society, he said.

Do you take offense at my post title? 

"Of the so-called Big Six Romantics, he’s the hardest to place. The hikers and the introverts read Wordsworth..."

"... the hippies love Blake, Keats is for the purists, Shelley for the political dreamers … and Byron? In spite of his fame, he lacks brand recognition. That’s partly because, halfway through his career, he decided to change the brand. 'If I am sincere with myself,' he once wrote, '(but I fear one lies more to one’s self than to any one else), every page should confute, refute and utterly abjure its predecessor.'"

From "Lord Byron Was Hard to Pin Down. That’s What Made Him Great. Two hundred years after his death, this Romantic poet is still worth reading" (WaP0).

"They’re spread from south-east Asia to the Korean peninsula and Europe. What is [Biden] implying? All 79,000 that were never found were eaten?"

Said Michael Kabuni, a lecturer in political science at the University of Papua New Guinea, quoted in "'Lost for words’: Joe Biden’s tale about cannibals bemuses Papua New Guinea residents/President’s suggestion that his ‘Uncle Bosie’ was eaten by cannibals harms US efforts to build Pacific ties, say local experts" (The Guardian).

79,000 U.S. soldiers were never accounted for after World War II.

"The presidency is really hard, people age during the presidency. Maybe he’s just what a lot of 80 year olds would be like if you made them work that hard."

Texted my son Chris, in a discussion about some recent Biden videos — the one about cannibalism, the one about little kids in the west giving him the finger, and the one where he has trouble closing a box: Chris had asked, "Do you think he really has dementia? To me he’s always seemed like he had a screw loose. Even in What It Takes" (commission earned link)("What It Takes" is a book about the 1988 presidential campaign, which Chris just read and I am rereading).

I said: "Maybe he’s faking it.... Faking it and having a little dementia mixed in." 

He said: "To me he seems extremely low energy. The presidency is really hard, people age during the presidency. Maybe he’s just what a lot of 80 year olds would be like if you made them work that hard."

The idea of driving 80 year olds to work extremely hard, under 24/7 high stress, is quite disturbing. Who can imagine a torturous work camp like that? Of course, we aren't making Joe do it. He's insisting on it for himself.

"The Natural Law Party was founded in 1992 on a platform that included promotion of transcendental meditation, responsible gun use, flat taxes and organic farming...."

"For 22 years, [Doug] Dern, a bankruptcy lawyer with a small practice outside Detroit, has almost single-handedly kept the Natural Law Party on Michigan’s ballot."Each cycle, the party runs a handful of candidates in obscure state races to meet Michigan’s minimum polling requirements for minor parties. 'Keep that ballot access,' Mr. Dern, 62, said in an interview on Friday. 'Because someday, a candidate is going to come along who’s going to be perfect for it. Someday, the third parties are going to be hot.'... "

I'm reading "How R.F.K. Jr. Got on the Michigan Ballot, With Only Two Votes/The independent candidate persuaded a tiny party to give him its line on the ballot in a key 2024 battleground state, sparing him a costly, arduous organizing effort" (NYT).

"Mr. Kennedy was formally nominated at a brief convention held Wednesday morning in Mr. Dern’s law office. The only two attendees were Mr. Dern and the party’s secretary.... Mr. Dern... has worked as a stage magician and also has a law practice for drunken-driving arrests.... 'I’ve just been plugging away, year after year, making sure there are people on the ballot,' he said."

Nothing goes together like transcendental meditation, drunk driving, and magic.

Thanks to Doug Dern for keeping the Natural Law fire burning, lending a hand to Bobby, and throwing a monkey wrench into the 2-party system.

"It’s clear to me that [university authorities] haven’t transgressed here. You can debate who you ought to be sympathetic with..."

"... but in my own mind, I am confident that the students have no First Amendment claim to stay in that space."

Said Columbia lawprof Vincent A. Blasi, "who has spent decades studying civil liberties issues, said the university had articulated a 'reasonable' policy to govern protests and had every right to punish students who violate it," quoted in "Faculty Group at Columbia Says It Has ‘Lost Confidence’ in the President/The campus chapter of a faculty organization said it would 'fight to reclaim our university.' Students were undeterred by the crackdown on their protest" (NYT).

Of course, the university doesn't have to do everything within its power.

What the man who burned himself to death outside the courthouse symbolizes.

This is what he symbolizes to me and also what I think he ought to symbolize: People have grown far too emotional about politics.

Calm down, everyone. Observe. Think. Don't throw away your humanity. Don't throw away your life. The anguish — the fever pitch — is not helping. 

Where the Trump jurors say they get their news.

A helpful graphic from "Where Jurors in Trump Hush-Money Trial Say They Get Their News" (NYT):

Juror #2 is the only one who gets the news from X and also the only one who gets news from Truth Social. This person has no other news source. (Of course, it's possible that the jurors weren't accurate/truthful about their news sources.)

There are 2 jurors, #5 and #6, who get news from TikTok, but #5 also looks at Google and #6 looks at Facebook, Google, and the NYT. Juror #4 is the odd/wise person who identified no news source at all.

Interesting that only one juror reads the NY Post and that's also the only juror who listens to public radio. This person also reads the NYT and the Wall Street Journal.

Anyway, seeing those dots so widely scattered across this grid, do you feel reasonably good about this jury?

April 19, 2024

At the Friday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(Photo taken at 6:17 yesterday morning. The forest floor is carpeted with trout lilies.)

"It happens all the time" — "in a rural town, in the west" — The signs say "F Biden" and little kids give him the finger.

"In a city where many feel ready to snap, dogs have become easy targets for a bubbling undercurrent of rage."

"Now, strangers will just tell my dog he’s an asshole. On three separate occasions, a woman in my building, who doesn’t know I work from home and who doesn’t live on my floor, has come downstairs to stand right in front of my door until Milo starts barking, then yells at him gleefully. Walking to the corner store the other day, Milo made a little woof while crossing the street. 'Shut up, dog,' a man told him, staring at me. The woman next to him started laughing. 'Yeah, shut up dog!'..."

Writes Bindu Bansinath, in "Why Does Everyone Hate My Dog? In a city bubbling over with rage, pets — and their owners — are enemy No. 1" (The Cut).

"A young man set himself on fire on Friday afternoon near the Lower Manhattan courthouse where jury selection continued in the criminal trial of former President Donald J. Trump."

"The man doused himself with a liquid around 1:35 p.m. in Collect Pond Park, across the street from the courthouse.... It was unclear what motivated his action. People rushed over to try to extinguish the fire, but the intensity of the heat could be felt several hundred feet away. After a few minutes, dozens of police officers rushed over and tried to smother the flames. The man, who appeared to be alive, was loaded into an ambulance and rushed away."

The NYT reports.

"The ugly shoe conversation reminds me of..."

"... the stylist Allison Bornstein’s 'wrong shoe' theory: the idea that you can really make an outfit sing — or make a boring outfit interesting — with a shoe that contradicts the rest of the look.... I think there’s also concern around being a 'fashion victim' not just by wearing an ugly shoe, but by wearing a shoe that will be everywhere. I like the non-ugly Bode Nike Astro Grabbers, for example — especially the cream style with colorful shoelace charms. But even if I’m able to nab a pair when they’re released on May 1, do I want to be wearing the same sneaker as every other joker on Orchard Street?"

This gets my "paradox" tag: the wrongness is the rightness.

Sitting within good information.

I like the plants in the background, because she really is visualizing the people as plants. Watch for her snarky snicker when she knows she's characterizing NPR's news as manure for us to take root in and grow in the direction that pleases her.

"In 1877 a British philosopher and mathematician named William Kingdon Clifford published an essay called 'The Ethics of Belief.'"

"In it he argued that if a shipowner ignored evidence that his craft had problems and sent the ship to sea having convinced himself it was safe, then of course we would blame him if the ship went down and all aboard were lost. To have a belief is to bear responsibility, and one thus has a moral responsibility to dig arduously into the evidence, avoid ideological thinking and take into account self-serving biases. 'It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence,' Clifford wrote. A belief, he continued, is a public possession. If too many people believe things without evidence, 'the danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing things and inquiring into them; for then it must sink back into savagery.'"

From "The Courage to Follow the Evidence on Transgender Care" by David Brooks (NYT).

Here's the essay "The Ethics of Belief."

And here's Hilary Cass's study (discussed in the Brooks column), "Independent Review of Gender Identity Services for Children and Young People."

"When your community no longer reflects morals and values, it might be time to move."

 Says the website Conservative Move, quoted in "Sick of Your Blue State? These Real Estate Agents Have Just the Place for You. Agents in South Carolina, the fastest growing state in the country last year, say that many newcomers are Republicans eager to leave the Northeast and West Coast" (NYT).

Yana Ghannam, a recent client of [a Conservative Move real estate agent], said that she had moved to Greenville from Livermore, Calif., because she wanted to make friends who wouldn’t criticize her for voting Republican or for being anti-union. “It was very much, ‘Oh you have to do this to fit in, you have to do that,’” Ms. Ghannam said of her life in Livermore.

There's a big difference between: 1. Wanting to live where everyone thinks like you, and 2. Wanting to be free of rejection for failing to think like everyone else.

Reason #1 is anti-diversity. Reason #2 is pro-diversity. Don't mix up the 2 mindsets! A conservative might want to leave a blue state because Democrats are treating them with hostility. That is, Democrats are in mindset #1, seeking uniformity. 

What are you supposed to do if you want good social interaction among people who enjoy a diverse marketplace of ideas? I'm afraid the only option — even if your motivation is to flee hostility (Reason #2) — is to go to the place where people agree with you (which would be Reason #1 if it were your motivation).

Why is Trump doing so well in the polls?

I'm reading "As Trial Begins, Was Trump Benefiting From Being Out of the News? His liabilities weren’t dominating the conversation the way they once did, perhaps helping his polling" by Nate Cohn.
Donald J. Trump appears to be a stronger candidate than he was four years ago, polling suggests, and not just because a notable number of voters look back on his presidency as a time of relative peace and prosperity. It’s also because his political liabilities, like his penchant to offend and his legal woes, don’t dominate the news the way they once did....

Really? I think he seems to dominate the news. But of course, he isn't President. The actual President does necessarily claim some space. In Biden's case, it's the least space I've ever seen claimed by a President. Because of all the prosecutions, Trump's first presidency is still immensely important daily news. And Trump also gets attention as the leading contender to be the next President. Biden is overwhelmed. What do we hear of Biden? He said something weird about cannibalism. He didn't wear a bow tie with his dinner jacket.

Nevertheless, Cohn seems to have convinced himself that Trump is lower profile in the news these days:

"News aggregation and analysis accounts like Mx. Spehar’s are shaping the discourse about current events in the United States, especially among young people."

"They’re a modern version of old-school bloggers — users respond to the personal tone, and the editorializing. (Some creators have even built followings simply by reading print news articles to their followers.) Pew Research Center has found that about one-third of 18- to 29-year-olds say they get news regularly on the platform, far outpacing people in other age groups."

From "Love, Hate or Fear It, TikTok Has Changed America" (NYT). That's a free-access link. The article has a wide scope. I excerpted what was interesting to me, an old-school blogger, a living relic of the pre-modern period.

"Mx. Spehar posts to more than three million followers from the handle @UnderTheDeskNews and films many clips lying on the floor, a gimmick that began as an effort to differentiate from the authoritative tone of traditional television news anchors. The style of communication has resonated enough to make Mx. Spehar a regular at White House briefings with social media influencers."

If you, like one-third of 18- to 29-year-olds, were getting your news from Spehar, here's what you'd be seeing this morning. Just guess how a TikToker would present the news that Israel retaliated against Iran. Now compare that to what Spehar actually did:

"Biden’s Catholic faith should make him a natural middle-grounder..."

"... but his personal qualms about abortion have zero policy substance since he abandoned his support for the Hyde Amendment, and he’s planted himself to the left of secular Europe on transgender issues.... Biden is only now considering a Trump-like executive order on border crossings....  [T]he White House is reluctant to put any clear distance between itself and climate activists.... 'If you like your gas-powered car, you can keep your car' is a simple, politically effective formulation. Yet somehow the Biden administration has ended up with 'If you like your gas-powered car, you’re a clueless antiquarian' instead. One explanation for this pattern is that Biden’s White House is staffed by progressive ideologues.... The greater freedom that Trump enjoys has roots in some dark places — cynicism, conservative tribalism, a populist indifference to policy detail...."

Writes Ross Douthat in "Why Can’t Biden Triangulate Like Trump?" 

I clicked on that headline as soon as I saw it, so I'm surprised to see it's dated April 13th. Since I scan the front-page headlines at the NYT every day, I have to think Biden's failure to "triangulate" is something the editors wanted buried. By the way, "triangulate like Trump" is funny, considering that Bill Clinton was the original triangulator. No mention of Clinton in Douthat's column.

April 18, 2024

Sunrise — 5:59, 5:59, 6:00, 6:20.





"Behind the scenes, Trump’s defense team is scrambling to find and review potential jurors’ social media accounts..."

"... and when they find ones critical of the former president and presumptive GOP presidential nominee, they are racing to show them to the judge to try to get those people dismissed. The turnaround time for such work is tight — lawyers on the case have been given lists of names of potential jurors, some of whom they have to start questioning in a matter of hours.... To fight back against what he says is an inherently unfair jury pool, Trump’s defense team hired a jury consulting firm that is analyzing all posts from jurors.... So far, the judge has been mostly skeptical of the defense claims of dangerous bias exhibited by old social media posts. Jurors questioned in court about their old social media posts were often defensive and dismissive of the suggestion that the old posts revealed anything important about their views or ability to be fair...."

"Since Donald J. Trump’s election in 2016, many campuses have become especially volatile places, seeing an increase..."

"... in angry demonstrations over conservative speakers, some of whom have been disinvited out of fear for their safety. The Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel has sparked another wave of protests.... In interviews, they described encountering students who were unwilling to engage with administrators when invited to do so, quick to use aggressive and sometimes physical forms of expression, and often wore masks to conceal their identities..... 'When I talk to my fellow university presidents, everybody has the same experience,' said Daniel Diermeier, the chancellor of Vanderbilt.... 'They’re not interested in dialogue. When they are invited for dialogue, they do not participate,' Dr. Diermeier said. 'They’re interested in protesting, disruption. That’s different... This has nothing to do with free speech. That’s a red herring'...."

From "Colleges Warn Student Demonstrators: Enough/After years of tolerating unruly protests, some schools are starting to suspend and expel students, raising questions about where they should draw the line" (NYT).

Meanwhile: "Live Updates: Police Arresting Pro-Palestinian Protesters at Columbia/Officers began arresting students on Thursday, a day after university officials testified about antisemitism before Congress" (NYT)("The arrests, which drew a new crowd of students to support the protesters, came the day after university leaders pledged to Congress that they would crack down on unauthorized student protests tied to the war in Gaza").

"'I think that, like, boys’ rooms as a concept is interesting,' said Mr. Isaacson, who is a full-time comedian."

"'It’s just very fun to see myself and these other, you know, contestants, for lack of a better word, in their natural habitat.' Mr. Isaacson’s apartment tour included a large amount of clothes spread across the floor; a dresser filled with gray wigs (for his sketch comedy, he says); and a desk that was given to him by his grandmother. 'I think of the clutter as, like, if you’re crossing a creek,' said Mr. Isaacson, who has since cleaned his apartment in response to some of the comments. 'There are sort of steppingstones that you use to avoid the water. And I think in a good messy boy’s room, there are steppingstones of floor.'"

Here's the "Boy Room" tour of Chris's room. More of "Boy Room," here, at Instagram.

I came away from the experience wanting to paraphrase Leo Tolstoy: Messy boy rooms are all alike; every neat rooms is neat in its own way. 

Now, it's the negative that's all alike, so I've reversed Tolstoy's idea —  Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. And that makes me want to examine the possibility that unhappy families are all alike and every happy family is happy in its own way. I mean, why not? Who has done the research here?

We're talking about chaos and order. It's chaos that is always the same. There are so many possibilities for order.

Men in stores.

Trump later proclaimed, "That was great action at the bodega," and there was an instant campaign ad.

"Furry is a fandom. We don’t think that we’re animals. I really like the idea of animals that walk and talk, so I’m going to dress up as one, as kind of a fun sort of cosplay thing."

Said a student named Strudel, quoted in "Students walk out of Utah middle school to protest ‘furries’" (abc4). Strudel explained that people who think they actually are a nonhuman animal are called "therians."

The student protesters object to the school's tolerance of the furries. There is a dress code banning things that "draw undue attention, distract, disrupt, or otherwise interfere with the learning atmosphere." You can see from the video of the protest, below, that signs say things like "Compelled speech is not free speech" and "I will not comply," so there seems to be more going on than a simple failure to enforce the dress code against the furries. I haven't watched much of the video, but I'm guessing the non-furry students are compelled to acknowledge the furries' professed identity in some prescribed way. And the article says the protesting students accuse the furries of "biting, scratching, spraying air freshener on, barking at and chasing other students." I'm guessing they are claiming a privilege to manifest behavior in line with their professed identity. How would that explain spraying air freshener? Perhaps that's a mellow substitute for a spray bottle of urine.

I'm not sure this isn't a hoax. There's plenty of video though:

"Donald Trump, who relentlessly undermined the justice system while in office and since, is enjoying the same protections and guarantees of fairness and due process before the law that he sought to deny to others during his term."

So says the Editorial Board of the New York Times, in "Donald Trump and American Justice."

That's a free access link, in case you want to search for details about that relentless undermining. 

I got there via Mickey Kaus, who tweeted, "@NYTopinion gives zero (0) examples of Trump denying due process to others during his term."

According to the Editorial Board:
[Trump] portrays himself as a victim of an unfair and politically motivated prosecution. That defense is built on lies. Mr. Trump is no victim. He is fortunate to live in a country where the rule of law guarantees a presumption of innocence and robust rights for defendants.

I don't like how the Board is conflating the prosecution and the court and the rule of law. The rule of law is an abstraction. Rights exist within the abstraction, but rights can be violated. The abstraction doesn't guarantee the rights. People exercising power must ensure that those rights are protected, and they may deviously hide behind the abstraction... perhaps with the help of elite onlookers who make abstract pronouncements in print. 

April 17, 2024

At the Trout Lily Café (formerly the Bloodroot Café)...


... you can talk all night.



[I]f she has a vision of a shared future that doesn’t resonate with you... exaggerating your feelings in order to preserve the status quo would amount to “breadcrumbing”: leading her on, and preventing her from moving along with her life. The prototype breadcrumber is the manipulative cad who just wants to keep all options open on a Friday night. More typical breadcrumbers, I suspect, are driven not by cynicism but by uncertainty, and by a desire to avoid conflict....

Breadcrumbs. I tend to think of Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs to mark a path that leads back out of the forest. But breadcrumbs fail as path markers because the birds eat them. But there's also the idea of feeding a person mere crumbs. Isn't that usually seen from the point of view of the person offered the crumbs? You're just giving me crumbs! I don't think I've seen it from the perspective of the person hoping to get what they want by only giving crumbs. So I don't think this is a good buzzword — not unless it's used by the person who's rejecting the offer of crumbs.

Googling, I see that it is, in fact, a well-established term for manipulating someone. Why are people letting themselves be manipulated by metaphorical crumbs? I'm blaming the victim here.

"No one’s been harder on Trump than me. But I get it, and I’m bored with it. And there’s a different way to do this...."

"Not to defend Trump, but to defend the people who still vote for him. Because what they see on the other side, to them, is even more dangerous. Because it’s closer to home: 'My kid is coming home from school and he thinks he’s a racist? He’s five, what have you been telling him? My son thinks maybe he’s not a boy.' And maybe that’s true, that happens. Those kind of things are what they say. 'That’s why I’m voting for Trump.'"

Said Bill Maher, criticizing the mainstream commentators who endlessly express negativity toward Trump, quoted in "Bill Maher Defends Trump Voters in Contentious Katie Couric Sit-Down" (Daily Beast)(video at the link).

Maher is right. The media pundits should not be aiming disrespect and contempt at the millions of Americans who support Trump. They are voters, and they are human beings. The self-important experts ought at least to pretend to care about understanding and reaching them.

"Having rarely missed a Morning Edition or All Things Considered every day every week for every year between 1984 and 2013, by 2014 NPR became less and less tolerable to this centrist..."

"... until by 2020 I just stopped caring and certainly stopped listening. I doubt I am alone in having concluded NPR had become something of a joke. And a really sad one."

That's the second highest-rated comment on the NYT article, "NPR Editor Who Accused Broadcaster of Liberal Bias Resigns/Uri Berliner, who has worked at NPR for 25 years, said in an essay last week that the nonprofit had allowed progressive bias to taint its coverage."

Highest rated: "Kudos to Berliner for having the backbone to write the essay he did. Weren’t we all thinking it anyway and he just voiced the reason many of us stopped listening to NPR on a regular basis?"

Third-highest: "Mr. Berliner was on suspension not for working for outside organizations but for truthfully criticizing NPR's bias."

Fourth: "I've been listening to NPR my entire life. Things took wild turn after 2016. And now I am finding myself disjoint from almost all conversation happening on NPR.

Remember, these are NYT readers. These are most likely liberals who are put off by the left-wing slant. I was going to write What happened in 2016? I had to laugh at myself.

"My husband...’s a frat bro who loves sports, and I’m a radical alien witch academic nerd."

"In the beginning, we did all the typical stuff. Read the books on nonmonogamy, did the relationship check-ins. We’d sit down, take notes. We did every exercise in the books, listened to every podcast. We learned a strategy from the Multiamory podcast called 'agile scrum,' which was adapted from business-meeting models. We utilized that format. We did that for a year and a half, at least once a month, sometimes six to 10 hours of hard poly-processing. That gave us great communication tactics."

Said a woman named Ann, quoted in "Lessons From a 20-Person Polycule/How they set boundaries, navigate jealousy, wingman their spouses and foster community" (NYT)(free access link).

My head spins. Who could listen to every podcast? Exhausting, and I'm barely picturing what "hard poly-processing" must mean!

Anyway, what does Ann's husband think? He seems quite a bit less jaunty and managerial about the whole thing. This is actually pretty sad, so I will put it after the jump, for your protection:

"I don’t think the obvious thing needs to be stated out loud, which is that when Russia blocks YouTube, they’ll justify it with precisely this decision of the United States."

Said the Russian opposition blogger, Aleksandr Gorbunov, quoted in "What a TikTok Ban Would Mean for the U.S. Defense of an Open Internet/Global digital rights advocates are watching to see if Congress acts, worried that other countries could follow suit with app bans of their own" (NYT).
By targeting TikTok... the United States may undermine its decades-long efforts to promote an open and free internet governed by international organizations, not individual countries, digital rights advocates said. The web in recent years has fragmented as authoritarian governments in China and Russia increasingly encroach on their citizens’ internet access.... 

"Many people with obesity... have fat deposits in the tongue and in the back of the throat. The neck gets larger with fat that narrows the airway..."

"... and the tongue gets larger in all directions, 'like blowing up a balloon'... During sleep, the tongue obstructs the flow of oxygen, repeatedly waking the person repeatedly.”

Writes Gina Kolata, in "Sleep Apnea Reduced in People Who Took Weight-Loss Drug, Eli Lilly Reports/The company reported results of clinical trials involving Zepbound, an obesity drug in the same class as Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy" (NYT).

That's good news, and I hope this drug helps with sleep apnea, which must be a terrible problem, but I'm blogging this because I was cheered up by the phrase "repeatedly waking the person repeatedly."

"Many younger women, for instance, shaped in part by the #MeToo movement, are engaging in intentional abstinence."

"There are trends on TikTok about going 'boysober'... 'Platonic life partners,' meanwhile — friends who commit to owning a home and even raising children together — insist that sex and romance are not necessary to lifelong unions. The sex educator and researcher Emily Nagoski is resistant to the idea that frequent sex should be a chief component of every committed relationship. Nagoski — who has been open about her own hiatus from marital sex — doesn’t endorse obligatory sex, nor does she encourage aiming for any sexual base line in terms of regularity or behavior. Drawing on the work of the Canadian sexologist Peggy Kleinplatz, Nagoski believes that low desire can sometimes be evidence of good judgment. 'It’s not dysfunctional not to want sex you don’t like,' Nagoski says.... For couples measuring themselves against what Nagoski calls the 'fictions' of sex, or for those worried that their relationship is on the line whenever they enter the bedroom or don’t meet some monthly number, there may be too much pressure for sex to be enjoyable. It’s more important that couples establish what kind of sex is worth having...."

Writes Amanda Montei, in "Can a Sexless Marriage Be a Happy One? Experts and couples are challenging the conventional wisdom that sex is essential to relationships" (NYT).

My excerpt deprives you of a lot of anecdotes, so I'll just give you one as an example... an absurd example:

"If a belligerent state launched 186 explosive drones, 36 cruise missiles, and 110 surface-to-surface missiles from three fronts against civilian targets within the United States..."

"... would Joe Biden call it a 'win'? Would the president tell us that the best thing we can do now is show 'restraint'? What if that same terror state’s proxy armies had recently helped murder, rape, and kidnap more than 1,000 American men, women, and children? What if this terror state were trying to obtain nuclear weapons so it could continue to agitate without any consequences?"

Asks David Harsanyi, in "The World Is Paying A Deadly Price For Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy" (The Federalist).

"I spent most of Mr. Trump’s speech not far from the stage, sandwiched between two exceptionally kind older guys clad in camo..."

"... one with a matching hat that read 'Ultra MAGA warrior.' One of them rustled me up a chair, offered to serve as a wind shield and even tried to lend me his gloves so my fingers wouldn’t freeze. I was comfortable enough, but after nearly an hour of listening to Mr. Trump’s usual ravings, I decided to call it a night."

Writes Michelle Cottle, in "What I Found Inside the MAGAverse on the Eve of Trump’s Trial" (NYT). That's a free access link, so you can find more of Cottle's experience among the deplorables and her seeming surprise at finding them happy, not angry, and pretty nice.

"There was a vibe of unity, common purpose, faith and joy. I didn’t run across anyone sweating the trial. But I spoke with plenty of folks like Lauren Herzog — who was rocking pigtails, a MAGA hat and an American-flag pajama onesie — with her husband and a bunch of their friends, who were happy to field my questions about whether they were concerned that Mr. Trump would soon be in court. There was much laughter and even more cross talk, but the bottom-line ruling from the group was, 'Nah.'"

"Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote qualify for 20 years in federal prison?"

From yesterday's argument in Fischer v. United States, the case about charging January 6th defendants with violating a federal statute that arose out of the Enron scandal and was aimed at the destruction of documents.

What fits the statute under the government's interpretation?
JUSTICE GORSUCH: Would a sit-in that disrupts a trial or access to a federal courthouse qualify? Would a heckler in today's audience qualify, or at the state of the union address? Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote qualify for 20 years in federal prison?

The fire alarm scenario must allude to the Jamaal Bowman incident, but of course, the Solicitor General proceeds smoothly and professionally, and calls it a "hypothetical":

GENERAL PRELOGAR: There are multiple elements of the statute that I think might not be satisfied by those hypotheticals, and it relates to the point I was going to make to the Chief Justice about the breadth of this statute. The -- the kind of built-in limitations or the things that I think would potentially suggest that many of those things wouldn't be something the government could charge or prove

"When Peter first showed me some restored images of the film, one was of a couple of the Beatles from the back, and..."

"... their hair in the original looked very clumped. Then he said, 'Now let me show you what we’ve been working on.' It was the same shot, but you could see the individual strands of hair. The new version is a 21st century version of a 20th century movie. It is certainly brighter and livelier than what ended up on videotape. It looks now like it was intended to look in 1969 or 1970, although at my request, Peter did give it a more filmic look than 'Get Back,' which had a slightly more modern and digital look.... [M]ost people who saw Peter’s picture as a corrective to mine haven’t seen mine, because no one was able to see it for 50 years. So unless they were children when they saw it in theaters, the only way most people would have seen it was on VHS or bootlegs, which changed the original aspect ratio and had dark and gloomy pictures and bad sound."

Said Michael Lindsay-Hogg, quoted in "Long Dismissed, the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’ Film Returns After 54 Years Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s unloved — or misinterpreted? — 1970 documentary, the source for Peter Jackson’s 'Get Back,' will stream on Disney+" (NYT).

I saw "Let It Be" in the theater when it came out in 1970, when I was a "child" of 19. I guess I'll have to subscribe to Disney again to see this digitally restored version. If we can now see the individual strands of the famous hair....

When I get older, losing my hair... it will be digitally possible to restore your hair, to individualize the strands so that they pulsate and coruscate as never before. I was once 19, in a movie theater, gazing upon the film "Let It Be," trying to see the reason why Beatles were breaking up — couldn't Paul please lead more subtly? couldn't George tone down the sarcasm? — and now, at 73, I can strap Vision Pro goggles to my face, lie in bed, and marvel at the individuality of the hairs in the once seemingly clumpy moptops. It's getting so much better all the time.

April 16, 2024

Sunrise — 5:56, 6:14, 6:18.



IMG_5971 (1)

"A first in the jury selection process: a man who says he read 'The Art of the Deal' and..."

"... two other books published by Trump. Trump responds with a chuckle and an approving nod."

"The Supreme Court seemed wary... of letting prosecutors use a federal obstruction law to charge hundreds of rioters involved in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021...."

"Mr. Trump’s case did not come up at the argument, which was largely focused on trying to make sense of a statute that all concerned agreed was not a model of clarity. But the justices’ questions also considered the gravity of the assault and whether prosecutors have been stretching the law to reach members of the mob responsible for the attack. Justice Clarence Thomas, who returned to the bench after an unexplained absence on Monday, asked whether the government was engaging in a kind of selective prosecution. 'There have been many violent protests that have interfered with proceedings,' he said. 'Has the government applied this provision to other protests?'..."

Adam Liptak reports in the NYT.

"NPR has formally punished Uri Berliner, the senior editor who publicly argued a week ago that the network had 'lost America's trust' by..."

"... approaching news stories with a rigidly progressive mindset. Berliner's five-day suspension without pay, which began last Friday, has not been previously reported. Yet the public radio network is grappling in other ways with the fallout from Berliner's essay for the online news site The Free Press.... In an interview...."

The shocking realization that Jack and Diane voted for Trump.

ADDED: I question whether Mellencamp was talking about Biden. Something bothered him and made him vindictive against the whole crowd:

Well, it's obvious why but I doubt if David Frum comes out and says it.

I was halfway through the headline when I wrote the post title.

The second half of the headline confirms my suspicion.

We're not supposed to read Biden's refusal to debate to mean that he lacks the mental capacity to debate. Frum and others will instruct us, repeatedly, in articles repeating the talking point.

"Park officials can’t patch up the fallen rocks and perch them back on their original site. Once people intervene..."

"... the attraction is no longer a product made by Mother Nature. 'If you restore it, then it becomes anthropogenic. It is art rather than something natural,' said Elizabeth Cottrell, a geologist at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 'That doesn’t invoke the same wonder and awe of nature.'"

From "Lake Mead visitors caught on video destroying ancient rock formations/National Park Service rangers are looking for information on two male suspects in the vandalism incident" (WaPo).

Could the story "Fire consumes Copenhagen’s 400-year-old stock market building" have anything to do with Trump?

Not really, but after I read that Washington Post article, I opened the comments section fully expecting to find someone connecting it to Trump.

I was not disappointed. The 3rd most-liked comment is: "I know the cause: They started trading trumpy’s Truth Social, and the trash caught fire."

"The Supreme Court will hear arguments [today] in a case that could eliminate some of the federal charges against former President Donald J. Trump..."

"... in the case accusing him of plotting to subvert the 2020 election and could disrupt the prosecutions of hundreds of rioters involved in the Capitol attack. The question the justices will consider is whether a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, enacted in the wake of the collapse of the energy giant Enron, covers the conduct of a former police officer, Joseph W. Fischer, who participated in the Capitol assault, on Jan. 6, 2021. The law figures in two of the federal charges against Mr. Trump in his election subversion case, and more than 350 people who stormed the Capitol have been prosecuted under it.... The law, signed in 2002, was prompted by accounting fraud and the destruction of documents, but the provision is written in broad terms. Still, in an earlier case involving a different provision of the law, the Supreme Court said it should be tethered to its original purpose...."

A text sent by Fischer: "they should storm the capital and drag all the democrates into the street and have a mob trial."

Listen to the oral argument live, here, at 10 EDT.

A conversation about Tom Cotton and Bob Dylan.

Texting at 6 in the morning. I'm out for the sunrise, and Meade is on the internet, thinking about the government...

Later, I expand on "yikes":

It's Bob Dylan's get out of the way song.

And here's the link to Tom Cotton's tweet.


April 15, 2024

Sunrise — 6:18.


"According to FIRE Campus Advocacy Rights Director Alex Morey, under the First Amendment, Chemerinsky’s 3L dinner is considered a limited public forum..."

"... in which the government, or individual or group in charge of the forum, can open up the forum for speech in any way they decide. Morey said Chemerinsky and his wife, Catherine Fisk, opened up a forum and were able to determine its limits in the case of the 3L dinner.... 'This is a situation where students have to recognize that yes, they have First Amendment rights, but they also know those rights come with certain specific limitations,' Morey said... 'Schools should exact some kind of punishment on students who engage in misconduct, but I think that some level of understanding can be given when students are trying to exercise their First Amendment rights in good faith but are still learning how to do so,' Morey said. 'It’s a delicate balance, but we hope Berkeley can figure out the right way to find that balance.'"

From "FIRE calls Chemerinsky 3L dinner limited public forum, says free speech has limitations" (The Daily Californian/Berkeley's News)

"The black-clad man, stabbing wildly, had 27 seconds alone with him. That is long enough, Rushdie points out, to read one of Shakespeare’s sonnets..."

"... including his favorite, No. 130.... Rushdie is initially held together by staples. His ruined eye bulged out of its socket and hung down his face 'like a large soft-boiled egg.' He spends time on ventilators.... No one will permit him to look in a mirror. Mentally, he tortures himself. Why had he not defended himself? Was it that he was 75 and his attacker 24? 'On some days I’m embarrassed, even ashamed, by my failure to try to fight back,' he writes. 'On other days I tell myself not to be stupid, what do I imagine I could have done? This is as close to understanding my inaction as I’ve been able to get: The targets of violence experience a crisis in their understanding of the real.'..."

Writes Dwight Garner, in "Salman Rushdie Reflects on His Stabbing in a New Memoir/'Knife' is an account of the writer’s brush with death in 2022, and the long recovery that followed" (NYT).

"Right now, Steinglass, the prosecutor, is doing a lengthy recounting of Trump's comments on the infamous Access Hollywood tape."

"There is no new information there, but Trump is listening as his own words about grabbing women’s genitals are recounted.... Trump, listening to a tape of himself from fall 2016 in which he says no one has more respect for women than he, mouths: 'True.'"

I'm following "Live Updates: Trump Trial Poised to Begin, a Criminal Case Without Precedent/Jury selection is set to start as Donald J. Trump faces charges he faked business records to cover up a sex scandal before winning the presidency. The judge declined Mr. Trump’s request to recuse himself" (NYT).

They chant it before they know what it means. Then someone asks what it means. And they chant it again when they know what it means.

The linked Free Press article is "American Anti-War Activists Cheer for Iran’s War/At a left-wing conference in Chicago, activists believe Iran is 'part of the arc of resistance because the enemies are Israel and the USA.'"

"Unlike nearly every other state, New York does not allow cameras in the courtroom and also prohibits audio recordings..."

"... of witness testimony and other proceedings.... In an era when even the U.S. Supreme Court streams live audio of oral arguments, New York is way behind the times; the official court rules for coverage of People v. Trump allows for about 60 journalists (including two sketch artists) to witness the proceedings with 'no video, no photographs, no audio recording.'... In New Yor​​k — again, in a departure from the federal system and every other state — official rules state that transcripts of what gets said in court must be purchased from the court stenographers who have the job of recording, on a specialized keyboard, every word, action, and ruling in criminal cases." 

From "Free the Trump Trial Transcripts/The New York court system’s maddening lack of transparency is about to be a national embarrassment" (New York Magazine).

"Trainers are good for one thing only: running in the forest or perhaps on a beach."

"If you must wear them, you should wear old-fashioned tennis shoes or topsiders. Anyway, I am thrilled people will stop wearing them all the time — visually I find them clumpy and heavy.... The feet should be light and beautifully dressed, not burdened with these visually heavy trainers. Lightness and comfort have always been essential in my design process. My shoes have old-fashioned values that are not impacted by the constant moves in fashion. I can’t wait to see a new era of well-dressed men."

Said the shoemaker Manolo Blahnik, quoted in "How Instagram made brogues fashionable again/The classic leather shoe is making a comeback, aided by social media and vintage resale sites" (London Times).

Do you think these kids today are returning to non-sneaker shoes?

Do you know why the British call sneakers "trainers," and why Americans call sneakers "sneakers"? If it's that the British are more about athletic training and the Americans are more about not making noise — sneaking up on people — then why is that? Americans attempted to shift from "sneakers" to "running shoes," but that failed, didn't it? We've established our preference for sneakiness over athletics.

April 14, 2024

Sunrise — 6:14, 6:19, 6:19, 6:23.





"Maleness did not appeal to me at all, with its acrid musk, its stubble, its needful dangling genitalia, its oafishness and clumsiness, its sense of mission and conquest, its resemblance to the aspects of myself I most despised."

Writes Lucy Sante, formerly Luc Sante, quoted in "How Lucy Sante Became the Person She Feared/In her memoir of transitioning in her sixties, the writer assesses the cost of suppressing her identity for decades" (The New Yorker).

Also: "I created a male persona that was saturnine, cerebral, a bit remote, a bit owlish, possibly ‘quirky,’ coming close to asexual despite my best intentions."

The article is by Emily Witt, who says:

"Me, as a New Yorker I can’t judge him for who he is. Basically, I can only judge him by the way he carries himself, especially in the White House."

"I liked the way he handled himself in the White House, and I think he brung America back to its feet. … I like him. I agree in everything that he has said, because what he said is true. It has to be true. It can’t be false, because if it’s false and he can be brung up on charges."

That was a 64-year-old hospital worker who lives in East Harlem.

By contrast, a 71-year-old retired woman, asked if she could be impartial if she were a juror, said "Listen, I can’t stand Donald Trump, so I guess the answer is no. I mean, he’s as crooked as you can find in a person."

Cartoon life.

"The Biden administration, hoping to avoid a wider war in the Middle East, is advising Israel that it does not necessarily need to fire back at Iran..."

"... U.S. officials said. They said that its successful defense proved Israel’s ability to protect itself along with its American allies. As people gathered in Tehran to celebrate, Iran’s mission to the United Nations said that the attack was a direct response to the April 1 strike, and that 'the matter can be deemed concluded.' But it said that if Israel struck back, 'Iran’s response will be considerably more severe.'..."

The NYT reports.

So, the only response to an attack should be the defense against the attack. Where is the deterrent? Just in the humiliation of showing that, so far, the attacking has failed? The message would seem to be: Attack all you want, but your attacks will be ineffective. Is that a desirable stasis?

"Even 30-mile-an-hour wind gusts whipping down from the nearby Poconos couldn’t move the bubble of Donald Trump-scented awe and alternative reality ..."

"... that descended on this hilltop village for about eight hours on Saturday.... This Schnecksville extravaganza was the fourth Trump rally in the Mid-Atlantic that I’d attended since 2016. I go largely because I think the media still fails to understand America’s most important story of the last 10 years. U.S. democracy is staring out into the abyss not so much because of the narcissistic bluster of one alleged billionaire ex-president, but because of the people with fleece hoodies over their MAGA hats who spent hours in an April windstorm to see him.... So who are these people? A new best-selling book blames Trump’s unshakable popularity on 'White Rural Rage' and that is something you might expect to see here in Schnecksville, where the urbane Eastern Seaboard melts into live-bait shops, Baptist churches and red-brick 19th-century homes. The only problem is that almost everyone I met scoffed at their Green Acres stereotype...."

Writes Will Bunch, in "'Trumpstock' brings peace, unity and a ton of disinformation to Schnecksville/Fierce mountain winds in Lehigh County couldn't move the bubble of misinformation surrounding the throng at a Trump rally" (Philadelphia Inquirer). 

Here's video of that Trump's rally:


Trump: "This is a hell of a rally. I just heard there are 42,000. You know we expected maybe — because it's freezing, right, it's freezing. I'm freezing my ass off up here. At least they could have given me a little bit of a heater underneath this. They gave me nothing! See, they take advantage — my own people take advantage of me. They gave me nothing. But... you know we expected maybe 10,000 people. We have 42,000 people tonight. 42,000. As far as the eye can see. I wish the I wish the fake news media would turn those camera look at all those cameras. Wow wow wow wow...."

"Record-level migration has brought record-breaking death to Maverick County, a border community that is ground zero..."

"... in the feud between Texas and the Biden administration over migration. Whereas in a typical month years ago, officials here might have recovered one or two bodies from the river, more recently they have handled that amount in a single day.... First responders have run out of body bags and burial plots.... On certain days the turbid water is only knee-deep. But a dam upriver periodically releases water, changing the depth. Smooth rocks beneath the surface make it hard to find a grip. And a powerful undercurrent can drown even the strongest. Videos on social media showing migrants easily crossing lure many into a false sense of comfort....."

From "'WHERE DO WE PUT THE BODIES?’/Migration’s human toll overwhelms a border county in Texas" (WaPo).

Can't we use the torture devices in the best order?

"Why did this seamy Trump trial have to be the first?" Ruth Marcus complains, in The Washington Post.

Can't we conduct this persecution in a sequence most effective in shaping the emotions of the electorate?

Don't you hate when you're using the courts to destroy a man and the courts interpose their own ways of doing things and interfere with efficient destruction?

"When he was first running, I was, like, what is this guy even yapping about? Like, what is he even saying?"

"Like, he’s saying all the wrong things. But to be honest, if you look deep into his personality, he actually cares about the country. You know at first I didn’t like it. But sometimes we need that type of person in our lives."

Said a 23-year-old self-described former "Trump hater" named Maya Garcia, quoted in "Four Years Out, Some Voters Look Back at Trump’s Presidency More Positively/A new poll by The New York Times and Siena College finds that voters think highly of the former president’s record on the economy, but memories of his divisiveness largely remain intact" (NYT)

I'm giving this my "Trump derangement syndrome" tag because of the Trump hating that existed in the past and may be healing to the point of not being derangement anymore. Even if you think it was never derangement, it is still the topic under discussion, and that's my tag for the topic.

By the way, this is one of the many articles about Trump that uses the shibboleth "chaotic." The second sentence begins, "While the memories of Mr. Trump’s tumultuous and chaotic administration have not significantly faded...."

Another article I read this morning, at CNN, began: "While many Democrats still consider former President Donald Trump to be about pure chaotic improvisation and impulse, they should consider that his campaign team has put together a very clear roadmap as to how they intend to work different institutions to their advantage...."

Much of what Trump offers to do is about restoring order. Those of us who care about order are warned away from him. He embodies chaos. That's a longstanding message. See, e.g., "Donald Trump: Chaotic and Wrong." His antagonists rely on it heavily, but what they don't do is demonstrate that they can deliver order.