April 27, 2024

Sunrise — 6:00.


"In the weeks since his rowdy State of the Union speech... President Biden has shown a looser, more comfortable version of himself..."

"... cranking out memorable wisecracks, heartfelt moments and cringe-worthy gaffes in equal measure. He has needled his Republican rival, former President Donald J. Trump, with increasing frequency, presented his softer side on talk radio and repeatedly spun tall tales about driving an 18-wheeler truck, being arrested at a civil rights rally and having an uncle who might have been eaten by cannibals. In one memorable episode this week, Mr. Biden read aloud his teleprompter instructions, asking a crowd to imagine what he could do with 'four more years … pause.' The annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night could be another opportunity for Mr. Biden to be in the moment, in what might be the perfect setting for him to continue roasting Mr. Trump.... And on Friday, Mr. Biden made a surprise visit to 'The Howard Stern Show'... showing an emotionally vulnerable side to Mr. Stern’s large audience of middle-class Americans...."

Writes Chris Cameron, in the NYT.

It's a puff piece. What can you say? I'll just say I wouldn't have written "continue roasting Mr. Trump" so close to "eaten by cannibals."

Also: If you'd asked me what kind of people listen to Howard Stern, I wouldn't have thought of saying middle-class Americans. From yesterday's NYT article about Biden's Howard Stern interview: "Mr. Stern’s listeners are mostly white, mostly male and mostly comfortably middle class, according to figures shared by the Howard Stern Radio Network...." "Middle class" looked odd to me, perhaps mostly because it floated free of those other 2 characteristics: white and male. 

"[Ralph] Nader told us that his longtime favorite pens, Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens Medium Point (0.7 mm), had started drying out too quickly."

"He wanted to know why. Nader needed answers. Well, we didn’t have any. And neither did Paper Mate—Nader said the company waved away his concerns with a standard corporate non-answer about standing behind the pens’ quality.... 'For years I’ve been using felt pens, mostly red and black but sometimes purple, to mark up The New York Times,' Nader told me in a phone interview last year. 'I go through every page of the Times, and I mark up different articles and send them to different people. And I do that with The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.' When Nader says years, he means years. We found a black-and-white photo of him using what appears to be a Paper Mate Flair in 1972...."

From "We Sent Ralph Nader Some of Our Favorite Pens. He Dismissed Them All" (NYT).

1972! Why, I remember when Flair pens first came out. It was 1966. Before that, there were no felt-tipped writing pens. There were markers — specifically, the Marks-a-Lot — with thick points and permanent ink that were great for making posters on oak tag, but would bleed through writing paper and had a strong smell. So the Flairs, with their sharp points and dark but not overpowering ink, seemed miraculous. I felt very lucky to get my hands on a Flair back in 1966. And if you had multiple colors — purple! — you were a celebrity.

"More than six months into the war in Gaza and with dimming hopes for a cease-fire deal, Palestinians there are growing more critical of Hamas..."

"... which some of them blame for the months-long conflict that has destroyed the territory — and their lives.... In interviews with more than a dozen residents of Gaza, people said they resent Hamas for the attacks in Israel and — war-weary and desperate to fulfill their basic needs — just want to see peace as soon as possible. If Hamas wanted to start a war, 'they should have secured people first — secured a place of refuge for them, not thrown them into suffering that no one can bear,' said Salma El-Qadomi, 33, a freelance journalist.... 'Hamas... don’t be upset with us and try to understand us correctly,' Rami Haroon, a 45-year-old dentist and father of five, wrote on Facebook on April 20. 'We have been suffocated by you for a long time.... Your ship will sink and you will drown us with you.'... According to [Mkhaimar Abusada, associate professor of political science], people 'care about Palestine and resistance and freedom and independence. But first of all, they want to live as humans, to be able to eat and sleep. That’s why the criticism is much more vocal now and much more public now.... Israel really sent us to the Stone Age.'"

From "In war-battered Gaza, residents grow angry with Hamas" (WaPo).

"'I was a star; I had leading roles,' she said, solemnly shaking her head."

"She had parked in the town square for a takeout lunch — chicken salad, quiche and sweetened iced coffee, finished off with a drag of a Parliament. She lowered her voice. 'People think it’s just aging, but it’s not. It’s violence.' Prompted to explain 'violence,' Ms. Duvall responded with a question: 'How would you feel if people were really nice, and then, suddenly, on a dime' — she snapped her fingers — 'they turn on you? You would never believe it unless it happens to you. That’s why you get hurt, because you can’t really believe it’s true.'"

I'm blogging this because of the striking, strange use of the word "violence." Just 2 weeks ago, on this blog, I got involved in the meaning of that word.

Here's the post, "Another look at that Berkeley dinner party violence." Excerpt: "'Violence' can also mean 'Vehemence or intensity of emotion, behaviour, or language.'"

"Even if we had held the dinner in the law-school building, no one would have had a constitutional right to disrupt the event...."

Writes Erwin Chemerinsky, in "No One Has a Right to Protest in My Home/The difference between a private yard and a public forum," an Atlantic article, illustrated with a drawing of a conventional suburban house.

Is it about the sanctity of the home or not?
The dinner, which was meant to celebrate graduating students, was obviously disrupted.

The private family home is an emotionally compelling topic, but as you can see, it's not crucial to Chemerinsky's power to shut down the student who wanted to deliver a speech.

Some commentators have criticized my wife for trying to get hold of the microphone. Some have said that I just should have let the student speak for as long as she wanted. But in all of the dinners we have held over more than 15 years, not once has anyone attempted to give a speech. We had no reason to change the terms of the dinner to accommodate someone from an organization that put up anti-Semitic images of me....

Is he suggesting that he might have accommodated a speaker with a more pleasing viewpoint? 

Scoop: A man walks.

I'm reading "Scoop: Biden changes walking routine to Marine One" (Axios).
With aides walking between Biden and journalists' camera position outside the White House, the visual effect is to draw less attention to the 81-year-old's halting and stiff gait.... Some Biden advisers have told Axios they're concerned that videos of Biden walking and shuffling alone — especially across the grass — have highlighted his age.

"RFK Jr. is a Democrat 'Plant,' a Radical Left Liberal who’s been put in place in order to help Crooked Joe Biden..."

"... the Worst President in the History of the United States, get Re-Elected. A Vote for Junior’ would essentially be a WASTED PROTEST VOTE, that could swing either way, but would only swing against the Democrats if Republicans knew the true story about him. Junior’ is totally Anti-Gun, an Extreme Environmentalist who makes the Green New Scammers look Conservative, a Big Time Taxer and Open Border Advocate, and Anti-Military/Vet…."

Blasts Donald Trump, from Truth Social.

What's with the apostrophe after "Junior"? He did it twice, so he must think it belongs.

Anyway, what I'm hearing him say is that he wants Republicans but not Democrats to know better than to "waste" their vote on an independent candidate. If RFK Jr. can be painted as far left, then Trump will have what he wants.

Trump continues with 2 more posts:

Can Kristi Noem survive — politically survive — the killing of her dog?

She tweets: "We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm. Sadly, we just had to put down 3 horses a few weeks ago that had been in our family for 25 years. If you want more real, honest, and politically INcorrect stories that’ll have the media gasping, preorder 'No Going Back'..."

"No Going Back" is her book, which you can't read yet, but you can read the snippet about her whippet... I mean her wirehair pointer... in this Guardian article, which she shows a screenshot of but I had to look up. Here:

"The 'money shot' of food being inserted into mouth, usually to a soundtrack of proto-sexual groans..."

"... has long been a key element of food TV. But lately, online food culture has entered an 'oral' era that puts the fleshy, wettened mouth — at once destructive and violated in the act of ingestion — at the center of the spectacle. There seems to be a growing emphasis, among popular food accounts, on the messiness of the overflowing orifice as individual eaters shovel food down their throats; online, the mouth has become a canvas for thick spacklings of various juices, pastes, condiments and whips. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider a recent post from @sanaaeats, in which the popular culinary influencer (1.6 million followers across TikTok and Instagram) feeds herself fingers of chicken, Texas toast and crinkle-cut fries drowned in a jumbo cup of Raising Cane’s sauce — the camera lingering on each bite just long enough to reveal the viscous splatter around her mouth...."

From "The Mixed Martial Artist Who Became the King of Tidy Eating/Rapturously messy food reviews are all over the internet. Keith Lee’s discreet eating style rises above them all" (NYT)(free access link, so you can learn about this man who is getting a NYT article about his fastidiousness and see more descriptions of on-camera sloppy eating).

"He... compared Zionists to white supremacists and Nazis. 'These are all the same people' he said."

"'The existence of them and the projects they have built, i.e. Israel, it’s all antithetical to peace. It’s all antithetical to peace. And so, yes, I feel very comfortable, very comfortable, calling for those people to die.' And, Mr. James said, 'Be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists.'..."

From "Columbia Bars Student Protester Who Said ‘Zionists Don’t Deserve to Live'/After video surfaced on social media, the student, Khymani James, said on Friday that his comments were wrong" (NYT).

"[I]n an interview earlier in the week, Mr. James drew a distinction between the ideas of anti-Zionism, which describes opposition to the Jewish state of Israel, and antisemitism. 'There is a difference,' he said. 'We’ve always had Jewish people as part of our community where they have expressed themselves, they feel safe, and they feel loved. And we want all people to feel safe in this encampment. We are a multiracial, multigenerational group of people.'"

April 26, 2024

Sunrise — 5:35, 5:38, 5:42, 5:44, 5:46, 5:48, 5:54.



"Concern for posture, as a matter of etiquette, has been around since the Enlightenment, if not earlier, but poor posture did not become a scientific and medical obsession..."

"... until after the publication of Darwin’s 'On the Origin of Species' in 1859. He posited that humans evolved through natural selection, and that the first thing to develop was bipedalism; in other words, standing upright preceded brain development. This idea was controversial because convention taught that higher intellect distinguished humans from nonhuman animals, and now it appeared that only a mere physical difference, located in the spine and feet, separated humankind from the apes.... With the rise of eugenics in the early 20th century, certain scientists began to worry that slouching among 'civilized' peoples could lead to degeneration, a backward slide in human progress. Posture correction became part of 'race betterment' projects, especially for white Anglo-Saxon men but also for middle-class women and Black people who were trying to gain political rights and equity. Poor posture became stigmatized and defined as a disability. As I show in my book, people with postural 'defects' were regularly discriminated against in the American workplace, educational settings and immigration offices..."

From "Beth Linker Is Turning Good Posture on Its Head/A historian and sociologist of science re-examines the 'posture panic' of the last century. You’ll want to sit down for this" (NYT).

This made me think about the way, back in the 1950s, we girls were encouraged to train ourselves in good posture by walking with a book on one's head. I see there's an entry at TV Tropes, "Book on the Head."

And here's a random poster (from 1946):

"Biden, asked if he’s planning to debate Trump, says 'I am happy to'" — asked by Howard Stern.

The NYT reports.

Mr. Biden’s announcement, made in response to a question from the radio host Howard Stern, comes after pressure from television networks and Mr. Trump’s campaign for the president to agree to participate in debates.

Hey, I'm surprised he submitted to an interview... and irked and amused that the interviewer his people chose was Howard Stern. 

When Mr. Stern asked Mr. Biden if he would debate Mr. Trump, the president replied: “I am, somewhere, I don’t know when, but I am happy to debate him.”

That should be his motto: "I am, somewhere, I don’t know when, but I am happy." 

Mr. Biden’s remarks appeared to be off the cuff, rather than a planned announcement of a shift in his campaign’s strategy, according to a top Democratic official familiar with its thinking...

Oh? Let's see how they weasel out of it. It was a gaffe, right? Somehow it will be impossible to get the conditions right. 

"What Harvey Weinstein’s Overturned Conviction Means for Donald Trump’s Trial."

A good title. It's something I was trying to parse on my own yesterday.

The article is at The New Yorker, written by Ronan Farrow. Subheadline: "The legal issue behind Weinstein’s successful appeal is also at the heart of the former President’s hush-money case." The subheadline in my head was: Big man brought down by sex. Or should it be: Pile everything together and the monster will be visible?

Consider this: Farrow's book about Weinstein was called "Catch and Kill" (commission earned), and in Trump's trial, David Pecker has been testifying about the National Enquirer’s "catch and kill" scheme. 

From a CBS News story about Trump's lawyer's cross-examination of Pecker:

Pecker said he first gave Trump a heads up about a story in 1998.... [Trump's lawyer Emil] Bove had Pecker walk through negative stories that he had killed about other figures, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tiger Woods.

"The days when Democrats could get away with thinking of Hispanics as one of 'their' minority groups are, or should be, over."

Writes Ruy Teixeira, in "Postcard from the Hispanic Working Class/Education polarization comes to America’s Latinos"  (The Liberal Patriot).
In terms of voting intentions, Biden leads by just one point among working-class Hispanics but by 39 points among their college-educated counterparts. Interestingly, this 38-point reverse class gap is actually larger than the class gap in this poll among whites (30 points).... And here’s something that should concentrate their mind when considering the working-class Hispanics problem and how seriously to take it. The simple fact of the matter is that there are far, far more working-class than college-educated Hispanics. According to States of Change data, Hispanic eligible voters nationwide are 78 percent working class. And working-class levels among Latinos are even higher in critical states like Arizona (82 percent) and Nevada (85 percent).

I'm giving this post my "Biden's racial nightmare" tag, though I can't remember what made me invent that tag and will need to publish this post and click on it to find out. 

UPDATE, right after posting: I now see why I created the tag. It's a pretty different topic, but I want to go back into it. It was August 13, 2020:

"If it is felony 'election interference' for a candidate to try to keep private the details of a seamy relationship, what other candidate concealments — of a lawful and entirely personal nature — must be reported?"

"Must the out-of-pocket settlement for that fender-bender be disclosed, since it conceals a candidate's bad driving skills? How about plastic surgery, since it masks the true ravages of age or health?... The Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 paid an opposition-research firm to produce a bogus dossier that accused Mr. Trump of collusion with Russia. They fed it to the FBI and leaked it to the public prior to the 2016 election. The DNC and Mrs. Clinton's campaign reported the expenditures to the Federal Election Commission but concealed their true nature by describing the payments as 'legal' services, as Mr. Trump did with his NDA. The FEC fined them for the deception, but under Mr. Bragg's theory it should count as criminal election interference."

Writes Kimberley A. Strassel, in "Alvin Bragg and Democrats' 'Election Interference'/His theory in New York state’s Trump case is crazier than you think" (Wall Street Journal).

Dear Dan Rather: Are you trying to allude to a Beatles title?

I don't really want to read what Dan Rather — or "Dan Rather and Team Steady" — has to say about the Supreme Court. (Sample text: "More Republican-led state houses should take note of a plethora of unintended consequences that have come from the reversal of Roe.")

I just want to talk about the headline — over at Steady — "Dear SCOTUS, Look What You Have Done/The unintended consequences that could affect the election."

Pardon me for fussing over a headline when the country is collapsing into chaos.

"Who is going to buy TikTok?"

Writes Charlie Warzel in "Welcome to the TikTok Meltdown/The ban is a disaster, even if you support it" (The Atlantic)(also noting that courts might find the ban unconstitutional and that China may block selling the algorithm).
At the heart of the government’s case...  is that TikTok is the beating heart of a social-media industrial complex that mines our data and uses them to manipulate our behavior....why, if the government believes this is true, should anyone have access to these tools?... 
One analysis of TikTok’s U.S. market values the app at $100 billion—a sum that rather quickly narrows down the field of buyers.... 
[A]s we’ve seen from Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, putting the fate of a social-media platform into the hands of a few highly motivated individuals can quickly turn into a nightmare.

April 25, 2024

Sunrise — 5:48, 5:57, 5:59, 6:01, 6:04.



6 quotes from today's oral argument in Trump v. United States.

I listened live and took some handwritten notes, so I could find various things in the transcript. Here are the 6 quotes that made the cut for me. All but one are from the Justices.

1. Trump's lawyer, D. John Sauer, encourages the Court to see far beyond Trump to the true horror of criminally prosecuting ex-Presidents:
The implications of the Court's decision here extend far beyond the facts of this case. Could President George W. Bush have been sent to prison for... allegedly lying to Congress to induce war in Iraq? Could President Obama be charged with murder for killing U.S. citizens abroad by drone strike? Could President Biden someday be charged with unlawfully inducing immigrants to enter the country illegally for his border policies?
2. In a similar vein, from Justice Alito:
So what about President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to intern Japanese Americans during World War II? Couldn't that have been charged under 18 U.S.C. 241, conspiracy against civil rights?

3. Justice Gorsuch makes a brilliant suggestion. If Presidents didn't have immunity from prosecution, they could give themselves the equivalent by pardoning themselves on the way out. And note the reminder that Obama could be on the hook for those drone strike murders:

Listen to the live oral argument in Trump's immunity case.


ADDED: I've listened to the whole argument and have notes, but I need the transcript to write the things I have in mind, so please carry on the discussion without me.

AND: Here's what Adam Liptak wrote in the NYT:

"New York’s highest court on Thursday overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction on felony sex crime charges.""

 The NYT reports. Free access link.

In a 4-3 decision, the New York Court of Appeals found that the trial judge who presided over Mr. Weinstein’s case had made a crucial mistake, allowing prosecutors to call as witnesses a series of women who said Mr. Weinstein had assaulted them — but whose accusations were not part of the charges against him.

Citing that decision and others it identified as errors, the appeals court determined that Mr. Weinstein... had not received a fair trial....

Now it will be up to the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg — already in the midst of a trial against former President Donald J. Trump — to decide whether to seek a retrial of Mr. Weinstein....

If he is not retried, he still faces a 16-year sentence in California, where he was convicted of rape.

Here's the opinion. Excerpt:

"[T]ensions between the White House and the [New York] Times... had been bubbling beneath the surface for at least the last five years."

"Biden’s closest aides had come to see the Times as arrogant, intent on setting its own rules and unwilling to give Biden his due. Inside the paper’s D.C. bureau, the punitive response seemed to typify a press operation that was overly sensitive and determined to control coverage of the president.... Although the president’s communications teams bristle at coverage from dozens of outlets, the frustration, and obsession, with the Times is unique, reflecting the resentment of a president with a working-class sense of himself and his team toward a news organization catering to an elite audience — and a deep desire for its affirmation of their work. On the other side, the newspaper carries its own singular obsession with the president, aggrieved over his refusal to give the paper a sit-down interview that Publisher AG Sulzberger and other top editors believe to be its birthright."

Writes Eli Stokols, in "Inside the NYT-White House Feud" (Politico).

I read the NYT every day and have closely followed presidential campaign news for the last 20 years. I want the NYT to hold to the highest journalistic standards, and — without question — any deviation from that has been in favor of Biden.

"Please don’t speculate on who any of the real-life people could be. That’s not the point of our show."

Said Richard Gadd, whose brilliant Netflix series "Baby Reindeer" is a fictionalized version of his own true story, quoted in "Baby Reindeer creator asks fans to stop speculating about stalker/Richard Gadd says his real-life friends are being unfairly targeted as viewers try to guess the identity of characters in his Netflix series" (London Times).

So the point of the show is not to focus viewers on the question of what really happened and whether there are free-roaming individuals who deserve punishment or public shaming. What then is the point? Having watched the whole series, I'd say it is to open up thinking about the cyclical cause-and-effect of sexual abuse.

I encourage discussion in the comments from people who have seen the show, so I am not asking you to avoid spoilers. If you haven't seen the show, I'd recommend avoiding reading spoilers. Here's the trailer, which spoils a little, so it would be better to just start watching, unless you're wary of a show on this subject and need some encouragement.

"I hate that my tattoos are such a defining factor for me getting a job or not. Just because I have tattoos doesn’t mean I’m not going to be a good worker."

 Said Ash Putnam, quoted in "Tattooed applicant claims she was denied TJ Maxx job over her ink, confronts store employees: ‘It’s so annoying’" (NY Post).

There's a big satanic tattoo on her throat and so much more.

Here's Putnam deadpanning in her hilarious TikTok:

"Out of control New York University protesters swarmed and berated an NYPD chief and his officers – calling them 'f–king fascists'..."

"... after they cuffed one of the demonstrators at an anti-Israel rally, wild new video shows. The viral video... shows NYPD Assistant Chief James McCarthy and his officers being chased and surrounded by protestors on Monday night while trying to get inside the NYU Catholic Center after arresting one of them. 'F–k you! F–k you, pigs,' the crowd could be heard shouting as they harassed the officers and demanded they release the woman in custody."

From "NYPD chief swarmed by anti-Israel protesters and berated while seeking shelter in NYU building" (NY Post)(video at link).

From the top comment at the Post: "I don't believe this ever would have been allowed to take place when Giuliani and Bratton were in charge. There was law and order in those days. Sadly, not sure we will ever see anything like that again."

Meanwhile, Giuliani just got indicted, for something that happened back in 2020.

"We think it may be to reduce competition and intimidation in the kinds of close-cooperation, within and between sexes, that’s required to make our complex, highly cooperative societies function."

Said University of New South Wales professor Rob Brooks, puzzling out why men shave given that facial hair is a "sign of dominance."

April 24, 2024

Sunrise — 5:58, 6:00, 6:02.




"Biden and his supporters are intent on making Trump the Nelson Mandela of America."

Said Trump pollster John McLaughlin, quoted in "How 'The Nelson Mandela of America' Is Making Bank Off of His Criminal Trial/'I’m catching up on my fucking sleep ’cause I’m bored,' Trump told one source" (The Bulwark).

Wow, that caught my eye, and not just because "I’m catching up on my fucking sleep ’cause I’m bored" is hilarious. Just this morning — and before reading that — I was saying, in conversation, that if Trump goes to jail the Trump movement will gain energy and "He'll become Nelson Mandela."

"We heard from employees who, because of noncompetes, were stuck in abusive workplaces."

"One person noted when an employer merged with an organization whose religious principles conflicted with their own, a noncompete kept the worker locked in place and unable to freely switch to a job that didn't conflict with their religious practices."

Said FTC Chair Lina Khan, quoted in "U.S. bans noncompete agreements for nearly all jobs" (NPR).
The vote was 3 to 2 along party lines.... [The U.S. Chamber of Commerce] has vigorously opposed the ban, saying that noncompetes are vital to companies, by allowing them to better guard trade secrets, and employees, by giving employers greater incentive to invest in workforce training and development.

"I said: 'This is a terrible, toxic relationship, you and Trump. And you’ve got to break up.'"

Said Tom Arnold, "the actor and comedian best known for his role on the 1990s sitcom starring Arnold’s ex-wife, Roseanne Barr." 

Arnold was quoting himself advising Michael Cohen.

"National Enquirer made up the story about Ted Cruz's father and Lee Harvey Oswald, former publisher says."

NBC News reports.

The paper had published a photo allegedly showing Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963, not long before Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy....

"What I do know is that even the most peaceful of protests would be treated as outrages if they were interpreted as, say, anti-Black..."

"... even if the message were coded, as in a bunch of people quietly holding up MAGA signs or wearing T-shirts saying 'All Lives Matter.' And besides, calling all this peaceful stretches the use of the word rather implausibly. It’s an odd kind of peace when a local rabbi urges Jewish students to go home as soon as possible, when an Arab-Israeli activist is roughed up on Broadway, when the angry chanting becomes so constant that you almost start not to hear it and it starts to feel normal to see posters and clothing portraying Hamas as heroes. The other night I watched a dad coming from the protest with his little girl, giving a good hard few final snaps on the drum he was carrying, nodding at her in crisp salute, percussing his perspective into her little mind. This is not peaceful..."

April 23, 2024

Sunrise — 5:42.


"This hearing, ostensibly about violations of a gag order, doubled as a complete onslaught on the Trump ethos. "

"Justice Merchan clarified that politics infused everything that the former president does and insisted on hearing good faith arguments, and the truth, wherever possible. We knew this was going to be a big moment; it was even more revealing than expected."

Writes Jonah Bromwich, covering the Trump trial at the NYT.

Some of us are worried that politics infuses everything that the judge and the prosecutors do. I insist on hearing good faith arguments — and the truth — wherever possible.

It seems to me, we are talking about gagging a presidential candidate, whose prosecution might be political persecution, and that's inescapably political. It's not something to be brushed off as some sort of "ethos" of Trump's that deserves "a complete onslaught." 

Jon Stewart's view of the Trump trial: It's a test of the media's fairness and accuracy.

"If the media tries to make us feel like the most mundane bullshit is earth shattering, we won't believe you when it's really interesting. It's your classic boy who cried Wolf Blitzer."

"After listening to Monday’s opening statement by prosecutors, I still think the Manhattan D.A. has made a historic mistake."

"Their vague allegation about 'a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election' has me more concerned than ever about their unprecedented use of state law and their persistent avoidance of specifying an election crime or a valid theory of fraud.... Both the misdemeanor and felony charges require that the defendant made the false record with 'intent to defraud.'... Instead of a theory of defrauding state regulators, Mr. Bragg has adopted a weak theory of 'election interference,' and Justice Juan Merchan described the case, in his summary of it during jury selection, as an allegation of falsifying business records 'to conceal an agreement with others to unlawfully influence the 2016 election.' As a reality check, it is legal for a candidate to pay for a nondisclosure agreement. Hush money is unseemly, but it is legal.... In Monday’s opening argument, the prosecutor Matthew Colangelo still evaded specifics about what was illegal about influencing an election, but then he claimed, 'It was election fraud, pure and simple.'... Calling it 'election fraud' is a legal and strategic mistake, exaggerating the case and setting up the jury with high expectations that the prosecutors cannot meet...."

Writes Boston University lawprof Jed Handelsman Shugerman, in "The Bragg Case Against Trump Is a Historic Mistake" (NYT)(that's a free access link because there is good detail there that I haven't quoted).

"'There’s just one question on voting day. Do you want an Islamized Europe or a European Europe?'"

"This stark choice was posed by Marion Maréchal, a rising star of the French far right, at the launch of her party’s campaign for the European elections in June.... While Ms. Maréchal’s Reconquest party sulfurously accuses elites of orchestrating a Great Replacement of Christians by Muslims, it seeks its own place in the corridors of power. Across the continent, the aim of far-right parties like hers is not to exit the bloc but, increasingly, to take it over. In this project, they have a model: Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy....  Ms. Meloni’s group, dominated by her Brothers of Italy party and Poland’s Law and Justice, isn’t the only European home for far-right forces. There’s also the Identity and Democracy group, which houses France’s National Rally and Italy’s League party.... Far from seeking to break up the European Union, these far-right groups are now bidding to put their own stamp on it — to create what Ms. Maréchal calls a 'civilizational Europe' rather than the technocratic 'commission’s version of Europe.' Ms. Meloni, for her part, seems convinced the two can go together."

Writes David Broder, in "The Far Right Wants to Take Over Europe, and She’s Leading the Way" (NYT).

This David Broder is the author of a 2023 book titled "Mussolini’s Grandchildren: Fascism in Contemporary Italy." Don't confuse him with David S. Broder, the Washington Post journalist, who died in 2011 at the age of 81. I accidentally used my David Broder tag for this post, but have removed it.

"I’m seeking out clients that are also neurodivergent, disabled and autistic so I don’t need to mask or hide my disabilities..."

"Especially on your wedding day, when there’s so much pressure on it being just right. Why would they hire me when they could just hire somebody who’s nondisabled?... I’ve marketed myself as a queer, awkward, anxious photographer who hopefully makes others feel more comfortable in front of the lens, so I tend to organically attract those same people.... I wear earplugs to reduce the noise level. I’ve learned to take breaks, to ask for what I need, to not take calls at night and communicate transparently upfront so I don’t have to work with people who are not going to be a good fit. I used to mask or camouflage my disabilities at weddings, but because I work with so many autistic and neurodiverse people, I feel free to be myself, and I feel understood by the people I’m photographing, who in turn feel understood by me. It creates a more authentic relationship and unmasks all of us so that I get photos other photographers wouldn’t be able to get otherwise...."

Said Shannon Collins, quoted in "Capturing Special Moments, While Creating Inclusive Weddings/Shannon Collins, a 'queer, awkward, anxious photographer,' wants to change the way disabled people are viewed, one picture at a time" (NYT).

Here's her Instagram account, and here's an example (where she's discussing the problem of telling photographic subjects to "relax"):

Here's a long interview with RFK Jr. and someone I hadn't thought about in a long time — Glenn Beck.

The nothing that happened.

ADDED: I suspect that the person who posted the video actually wanted to show that the protesters were not accosting those they identified as Jews. In that light, here's a NYT article: "A Night Different From Others as Campus Protests Break for Seder/Pro-Palestinian protesters, many of whom are Jewish, prepared Seder dinners at college protest encampments, even as other Jewish students sought community in more traditional settings":

"Do you think that someone who is a drug addict is absolutely incapable of -- that all people who are drug addicts are absolutely incapable of refraining from using drugs?..."

"All right. Then compare that with a person who absolutely has no place to sleep in a particular jurisdiction. Does that person have any alternative other than sleeping outside?... They have... none. They have absolutely none. There's not a single place where they can sleep.... So the point is that the connection between drug addiction and drug usage is more tenuous than the connection between absolute homelessness and sleeping outside."

Said Justice Alito, in yesterday's oral argument in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson. There's a precedent, Robinson v. California, that found it to be cruel and unusual punishment to make a crime of the "status" of drug addiction. The 9th Circuit said that the city — by prohibiting sleeping outdoors — had made a crime out of the status of homelessness.

Roseanne's political comedy: "Joe Biden raped me."

Is this good satire?

"Joe Biden. He raped me right here. In the shoe department of Bergdorf Goodman... I need to sue."

I get the point: You can't trust women who say they've recovered a memory of a rape from the distant past. That's not funny as an idea. Does it become funny when a comedienne enacts it? Theoretically, it could. I don't think this did. To me, it works more as a declaration that E. Jean Carroll should not have won her case against Trump.

Does comedy need to be funny? There is some debate these days on that questioning the centrality of funniness in the performances of some artists who are categorized as comedy. For example, "Does comedy have to be funny?," by the sophomore Monika Narain, last year in the Duke student newspaper. Excerpt:

"Lola DeAscentiis, a sophomore, zeroed in on the song 'But Daddy I Love Him,' comparing it to the Sylvia Plath poem 'Daddy.'"

"She plans to explore the link in her final paper. 'I hesitate to say that the song was anywhere near the genius of Sylvia Plath — no offense to Taylor Swift — but I can definitely see some similarities in the themes, like sadness, depression and mental health,' Ms. DeAscentiis, 20, said.... 'The way that Taylor overlays her relationship with the significant other that she’s talking about in the song with the relationship that she has with her father — I think that was very Plath,' she added."

I'm reading the NYT article "Harvard’s Taylor Swift Scholars Have Thoughts on 'Tortured Poets'/The students taking Harvard University’s class on the singer are studying up. Their final papers are due at the end of the month."

In the Harvard undergrad course called "Taylor Swift and Her World" student compare Taylor  Swift song lyrics to the work of poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.

April 22, 2024

The nesting crane.



(Write about whatever you want in the comments.)

"He stuck his finger in the mouth to see if he might wiggle the piece loose. 'And my finger came back wet,' he said."

"'I thought about it for a half-second longer and said, "Oh my God, my finger is wet,"' he recalled. 'I got my flashlight out and shined it in there, and the thing is completely full of liquid,' he said. He summoned colleagues. They were stunned. Here was 'an out-of-the-box, next level, spectacular find,' said Jason Boroughs, Mount Vernon’s principal archaeologist.... 'There are whole, recognizable cherries,' said Boroughs. 'It actually smelled like cherry blossoms when we got to the bottom.'"

From "Centuries-old bottles of cherries unearthed at George Washington’s home/The two, rare intact bottles, about 250 years old, were discovered by archaeologists working in the Mount Vernon basement" (WaPo).

I would have thought they'd have cleaned out the basement by now. This is a feel-good story on so many levels.

A puzzling criticism — in the NYT — of Trump's lawyer's building Trump up instead of "blasting" him.

I'm reading Jonah Bromwich, in "Live Updates: Jurors in Trump Criminal Case Told That He Lied ‘Over and Over and Over’/Donald J. Trump is charged with falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to derail his 2016 campaign. A lawyer for Mr. Trump insisted that the former president “did not commit any crimes" (NYT)(free access link).
This is the third time that I’ve heard lawyers for Trump talk in a New York courtroom about how successful the Trump Organization, his business, has been. It’s another way of pacifying their client — and it again shows the way that Trump’s lawyers are hemmed in by his personal preferences. Instead of blasting Trump but seeking to appeal to the jury’s fairness, they’re compelled to build him up.

The assumption appears to be that it would be a better strategy to tear Trump down and only Trump's narcissism is preventing his lawyers from taking that approach.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I would think it's better to portray Trump as a great benefactor of New York City, someone who has attracted political enemies who are bent on bringing him down. 

"Dogs in large cities are essentially settler-colonial—a way for their owners to move into and occupy more of the urban space than they are allotted while making it everyone else’s problem."

That's a tweet quoted in "Dogs slammed as ‘settler-colonial’ as pooches and owners blamed for ‘gentrifying’ NYC by woke activists" (NY Post).

"Identifiably Jewish students found themselves surrounded and cornered by protest mobs."

"Sahar Tartak, a sophomore who has written for these pages, was poked in the eye with a flagpole and needed hospital treatment. On Friday night the mob cheered as students ripped down the American flag in front of a memorial for fallen soldiers and tried to burn it. Students called Yale trustees and senior administrators 'terrorists.' Their chants included 'There is only one solution, intifada revolution' and 'From the river to the sea, Palestine is almost free.' They cornered a man at the plaza for wearing a T-shirt that read 'F--- Hamas.' This protest is in clear violation of Yale's code of conduct, which explicitly forbids protesters from obstructing building entrances or blocking students' ability to observe an event. But the administration sat on its hands.... For the police to step in, the Yale administration has to give them the green light, according to the [Yale police] officers. Some officers expressed frustration that Yale wouldn't allow them to intervene...."

Writes Gabriel Diamond, a Yale senior, in "Protests Turn Violent At Yale" (Wall Street Journal).


"He hadn’t read more than 'a couple pages' of my work, but he had seen me lecturing on YouTube, and concluded that I was 'disingenuous.'"

"'I don’t like people who are disingenuous like that,' he said, somewhat opaquely. Disingenuous like what? He did not elaborate. 'I wanted to murder him because he was disingenuous' would be an unconvincing motive if one were to use it in crime fiction, and my strongest feeling, after reading his remarks, was that his decision to kill me seemed undermotivated."

Writes Salman Rushdie near the beginning of his new book, "Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder" (commission earned).

"For Sole-Smith, 'diet culture' has come to symbolize all the crushing expectations under which American women live."

"In her Substack newsletter and podcast, Burnt Toast, she muses on whether hewing to a household budget, gardening only with native plants, or limiting kids’ screen time can be regarded as diets."

"Did you hear Trump's take on the JFK assassination? Why he didn't release the files?"

"He said that if you knew what I know, you wouldn't tell people either. Which is crazy. What does that mean?"

Joe Rogan asked Tucker Carlson, toward the end of a 3-hour conversation.

Carlson answered:

"[T]he type of perfectionism with the steepest rise — socially prescribed perfectionism — was rooted in the belief that others expect you to be perfect...."

"There could be a number of causes for the uptick: increasing parental expectations, school pressures, the ubiquity of social media influencers and advertising...."

I'm reading "Perfectionism Is a Trap. Here’s How to Escape. Perfectionism among young people has skyrocketed, but experts say there are ways to quiet your inner critic" (NYT).

The article is what the headline says, tips on overcoming any sort of perfectionism. I'd like to see another article about the problem of socially prescribed perfectionism. It's so clearly delusional. Other people don't expect you to be perfect. Why is there a steep rise in this particular sort of perfectionism? I'm skeptical about the notion that it's "socially prescribed." If you desire perfection for social success (or social media) success, it's not prescribed by society. You're writing your own prescription.

"Supreme Court to Consider How Far Cities Can Police Homelessness/A group of homeless people in a small Oregon city challenged local laws banning sleeping in public."

NYT article about a case up for oral argument today.
The plaintiffs’ argument rests in part on a 1962 case, Robinson v. California, in which the Supreme Court held that laws imposing penalties on people for narcotics addiction violated the Eighth Amendment because they punished a state of being, not a specific action, like drug possession or sale. 
In a similar fashion, the plaintiffs contend, Grants Pass is punishing people for being involuntarily homeless, not for specific actions.

April 21, 2024

Sunrise at 6:09 and flowers at 1:30.



Trout lilies:





Things I talked about with Meade this morning.

1. How Tucker Carlson told Joe Rogan that Bari Weiss is a fraud and not honest at all. She called Tulsi Gabbard a "toady" and she didn't know what "toady" meant.

2. The similarities and differences between the Bob Dylan song "You Got to Serve Somebody" and the Band song "Unfaithful Servant."

3. The use of the tuba in popular music recorded in the last 60 years and why it matters if they had an actual tuba player in the studio as opposed to a digitalized tuba sound.

4. "Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole."

5. Whether flags of foreign countries should be waved by members of Congress and how the use of the flag may mean different things to different people.

6. It was Richard Nixon who originated the wearing of a flag lapel pin and how everyone followed along and now they can't stop.

7. The way some people these days are calling their loved one "my person." I heard it in Salman Rushdie's new book "Knife" and I opened The New Yorker at random and saw it in a Roz Chast cartoon.

8. Some people call a dog's owner the dog's "person," and that seems related to the old joke "Are you walking him or is he walking you"?

9. Bill Maher asked why people want drag queens reading to children and said it would be better to have disabled people reading, but drag queens are entertainers and disabled people are not. 

10. How little children shouldn't be exposed to overly exciting entertainment and even peekaboo can be too intense for young minds.

11. How it's already too late to go south for warmer weather and we are better off here in the north, where there was frost on the grass this morning.

12. How fluent and funny Tucker Carlson was describing his boss at the New York Post who had a hairy back that he would rub against the door jamb while he talked to Tucker and the 5 or 6 ways that Tucker could have known that the man had a hairy back.

13. What a big part of life hairiness is — for the lower animals and for us, the humans. 

14. Was the hairy-backed man John Podhoretz? Carlson mutters the name.

15. The annoyingness of Carlson's laugh and how hard you have to commit to do a good enough imitation of it.

16. The energy Joe and Tucker had. Doesn't Tucker wear a hairpiece and Joe just shaved off all his hair.

17. Meeting for coffee and not an entire meal so you're free to leave whenever you want and how some people have trouble getting out of small-talk conversations and this one simple trick that's all you need.

18. The perception that a conversation can't end until both participants want it to end and the way some people keep adding new topics as if keeping a conversation going is a game.

19. The very low level of tennis playing that has you just trying to keep the ball in play as long as possible.

20. How all this talk is taking the place of writing on the blog, but I could just make a blog post out of all the topics that didn't make it onto the blog because I was talking about everything with Meade.