May 4, 2024

Sunrise — 5:17, 5:40, 5:42.

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The arb blooms at noon.

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"Who among the protesters really thought that Columbia’s president, Minouche Shafik, and the board of trustees would view the occupation of Hamilton Hall..."

"... and say, 'Oh, if the students feel that strongly, then let’s divest from Israel immediately'? The point seemed less to make change than to manifest anger for its own sake, with the encampment having become old news. The initial protest was an effective way to show how fervently a great many people oppose the war, but the time had come for another phase: slow, steady suasion. This is not capitulation but a change in tactics.... We recall [Martin Luther] King most vividly in protests, including being imprisoned for his participation. However, his daily life as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was about endless and often frustrating negotiations with people in power, which eventually bore fruit. In this, as much as in marches, he and his comrades created the America we know today. Smoking hot orations about Black Power might have instilled some pride but created little beyond that...."

Writes John McWhorter, in "The Columbia Protests Made the Same Mistake the Civil Rights Movement Did" (NYT).

"Some senior-care homes say they don’t have the ability to lift fallen residents."

"Many have adopted 'no lift' policies to avoid the risk of back injuries for staff and other potential liabilities.... A nurse who worked at an assisted-living facility in Greensboro, N.C. ... said her company required caretakers to call 911 even if a resident had just slid harmlessly out of a chair. 'If you’re on the floor, period, you’d have to call'.... She said residents were often embarrassed by the lift-assist calls. Some begged her not to dial 911. She said she had no choice. Fire officials point out they bring no special skill to such situations — it’s just a matter of who’s doing the work...."

From "Senior homes refuse to pick up fallen residents, dial 911. ‘Why are they calling us?’ Frustrated cities and states have begun fining facilities for nonemergency calls, but some just keep calling" (WaPo).

ADDED: May I recommend that residents be trained in the methods of avoiding falls and in getting yourself back up if you do fall down. Here's a useful video on getting up off the floor.

"Special counsel Jack Smith’s team acknowledged Friday that some evidence in the prosecution of former President Donald Trump for hoarding classified documents at his Florida home..."

"... may not be in the same sequence FBI agents found it when they swept into the Mar-a-Lago compound with a search warrant in August 2022. The concession from prosecutors in a court filing Friday afternoon came after attorneys for one of Trump’s co-defendants asked for a delay in the case because the defense lawyers were having trouble determining precisely where particular documents had come from in the 33 boxes the FBI seized almost two years ago. In their filing, prosecutors acknowledged the government had previously — and incorrectly — told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that the boxes remained 'in their original, intact form as seized'.... In a post on his Trump Social site Friday, Trump [said]... Smith 'and his team committed blatant Evidence Tampering by mishandling the very Boxes they used as a pretext to bring this Fake Case'...."

From "Prosecutors: Docs in boxes seized from Mar-a-Lago were inadvertently jumbled/Special counsel Jack Smith’s team acknowledged mischaracterizing the issue at a recent hearing in the Trump classified documents case, but said the reordering was not significant" (Politico).

"Look, think about it. Why is China stalling so badly economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia? Why is India? Because they're xenophobic. They don't want immigrants."

Said Joe Biden, quoted in "Japan disappointed by Biden's 'xenophobic' comments" (Kyodo News).

Did he just blurt that out or is there political wisdom in saying that? It appeals to certain Americans and it might be a deliberate nudge to China and Japan.

"Writing about one’s own children has always been a delicate matter. It’s itchy and complicated..."

"... and there is no right way to do it. As a child who was often a subject of the writing of my mother, Erica Jong... I have very mixed feelings about the phenomenon. I like to think I truly hated being written about, but who can remember? Later, I found it gave me a profound lack of shame and no expectation of privacy, which helped me pursue a public-facing career I might otherwise not have...."

Writes Molly Jong-Fast, in "When Your Mom Is Famous for Hating Motherhood/In Heidi Reimer’s novel, 'The Mother Act,' a daughter grapples with being parented (or not) by an actress who happily mines her life for material" (NYT).

"Personally, I have found that there is no solution for having a parent who uses your life for content. There is no salve for the resentment it produces. Would I have been normal had my mom not written about me?... Am I uncomfortable on this planet because I always knew my mom was squirreled away working on a novel in which I would figure prominently, once as twins?"

By the way, Erica Jong is still alive — she's 82 — and Molly Jong-Fast has children of her own — 3 of them.

What was your mom doing when she was squirreled away? Did it make you "uncomfortable on this planet"? Or are we all, always, residents of our mother's planet? In which case, why are you not comfortable in the world you were born into — born out of?

"Mr. Musk’s decision to lay off the 500-member team responsible for installing charging stations, and to sharply slow investment in new stations, baffled the industry..."

"... and raised doubts about whether the number of public chargers would grow fast enough to keep pace with sales of battery-powered cars....  As the owner of the largest charging network in the United States, Tesla has a powerful effect on people’s views of electric cars.... Tesla does not disclose the financial performance of its charging business, but analysts say it requires capital that Mr. Musk would rather invest in artificial intelligence and robotics.... 'My guess is that the electricity and infrastructure costs of running the network far exceed the fees provided by Tesla and other drivers thus far,' Ben Rose, president of Battle Road Research, said..."

From "Tesla Pullback Puts Onus on Others to Build Electric Vehicle Chargers/The automaker led by Elon Musk is no longer planning to take the lead in expanding the number of places to fuel electric vehicles. It’s not clear how quickly other companies will fill the gap" (NYT).

It's a disaster, isn't it?

"Who is Bobby Kennedy?"

I like the way this begins with Bobby reading out mainstream media insults against him — he is nuts and clearly disturbed....

The NYT looks into the "outside agitator" rhetoric.

Yesterday, I noted the NYPD report that "More than a quarter of protesters arrested Tuesday at Columbia and 60 percent at the City College of New York had no connections to the schools." I asked: "But who are the outside agitators? If they are not students, who are they? How about some details? Lots of them were arrested. Why isn't there a torrent of detail about what sort of people they are?"

This morning I see the NYT doing something that seems to be answering my question. The headline is "The Mayor Called Them Outside Agitators. Many of Them Beg to Differ. City officials have blamed 'external actors' for escalating demonstrations at Columbia University and elsewhere, but student protesters reject the claim."

This article set off my bullshit detector:

1. I want to know who the non-students actually are, not — as the headline has it — that they "beg to differ" and "reject the claim." Of course, they wouldn't like their antagonists' effective rhetoric.

2. The article has 5 authors.

3. The article begins with 3 paragraphs cherry-picking 3 particularly nice non-students — a saxophonist, and gardener, and a nanny!

But let's look at the substance:

May 3, 2024

The woods at 6:01 a.m.


Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"Then, when Mr. Trump’s lawyer began his cross-examination, Ms. Hicks started to cry."

"Her tears were prompted by a series of seemingly innocuous questions about her time working alongside the Trump family.... Here was a fiercely loyal former aide, whose young life was utterly transformed by her proximity to Mr. Trump....  For his part, Mr. Trump seemed to appreciate the drama of what was unfolding before him. Although he has appeared to nod off several times throughout the trial, on Friday his eyes were, for awhile at least, glued on his one-time confidante...."

From "Hope Hicks Reluctantly Confronts the Man She ‘Totally Understands’ in Court/The dramatic appearance of Ms. Hicks, once one of Donald J. Trump’s closest aides, riveted the audience. During her testimony, she blinked back tears" (NYT).

"For Isabel Marie Barbosa, a transgender and trans-disciplinary artist, queer food tastes like tart lime and fatty cream."

"In their session, they brought two pillowy Key lime pies made from a recipe in the 'Get Fat, Don’t Die!' column of Diseased Pariah News, Beowulf Thorne’s darkly comic, H.I.V./AIDS-themed zine.... Mx. Barbosa... also brought along a 'sleazy wine cake,' made with Marsala and coconut, and a pecan buttercrunch — recipes from the zine that they tested and ate with a friend who was recovering from top surgery...."

We're told that the conference "considered food (pie, seaweed), food culture (potlucks, cookbooks) and food spaces (a co-op, clambakes) through queer, Marxist, feminist and anti-colonialist perspectives." And: "The goal of the event was to reclaim histories and imagine futures, not of a cuisine — queer food has no set taste profiles or geographic origins — but of food that 'challenges binaries and any kind of normativity....'"

It's like an episode of "Portlandia." 

"Jesus Christ, can you [expletive] believe I’m not going to Washington, after everything I’ve done for that [expletive] guy? I’ve saved the guy’s ass so many times. That guy [Trump] is not even paying me the $130,000 back."

Said Michael Cohen, according to the witness Keith Davidson, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels, quoted in "The Tawdry Tabloid World in Which Trump Lived" (NYT).

"Fathers of aborted fetuses can sue for wrongful death in states with abortion bans, even if the abortion occurs out-of-state."

"They can sue anyone who paid for the abortion, anyone who aided or abetted the travel, and anyone involved in the manufacture or distribution of abortion drugs."

Wrote Jonathan Mitchell, a prominent antiabortion attorney, quoted in "Texas man files legal action to probe ex-partner’s out-of-state abortion/The previously unreported petition reflects a potential new antiabortion strategy to block women from ending their pregnancies in states where abortion is legal" (WaPo).

Mitchell is the lawyer for Collin Davis, the man who is not suing his ex.

"I cried when they shot Medgar Evers/Tears ran down my spine..."

This morning, I'm reading the lyrics to the 1966 Phil Ochs song "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," because I see, here in The Washington Post, that President Biden is giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Medgar Evers.

Evers was killed in 1963. Why did no President think of doing this before? And what does Biden hope to achieve by slotting the old fallen hero in with such characters as Mike Bloomberg, Katie Ledecky, and Phil Donahue?

In any case, study the argument in Phil Ochs's song. It has resonance today. It's the argument that convinces the student protesters to turn to violence and put their personal future on the line.

To be a mere liberal is despicable. You do all the well-behaved things and disapprove of all that is right wing, "But don't talk about revolution/That's going a little bit too far." You "vote for the Democratic Party" and "I'll send all the money" that's asked for, "but don't ask me to come on along," and for that you demand love, but you don't deserve it... in the logic of the song:

"More than a quarter of protesters arrested Tuesday at Columbia and 60 percent at the City College of New York had no connections to the schools, the NYPD said."

WaPo reports.

Rebecca Weiner, the police department’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said on Tuesday that officers observed an escalation in tactics at Columbia on Monday night, including people scaling buildings, creating barricades with furniture and destroying cameras.

“We think these tactics are a result of guidance that’s being given to students from some of these external actors,” she said.... 
Columbia history professor Mae Ngai told Al Jazeera that protests at the university were led by students and that politicians were the outside agitators....

Student protesters who spoke at a news conference Wednesday outside CCNY called the involvement of outside agitators a “myth.”

ADDED: But who are the outside agitators? If they are not students, who are they? How about some details? Lots of them were arrested. Why isn't there a torrent of detail about what sort of people they are? 

"Trump defense suggests he was shakedown target, not hush money schemer/During contentious questioning of Stormy Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson, Donald Trump’s lawyers portray their client as the victim in the case."

 A headline at The Washington Post.

In the most contentious testimony yet in the criminal trial, Los Angeles lawyer Keith Davidson denied accusations that he flirted with extortion when he negotiated settlements with celebrities to keep potentially damaging stories out of the public eye.

By accusing him, Trump’s lawyers displayed a key element of their defense strategy: getting jurors to focus on the lawyers and middlemen....

Trump’s lawyers... tried to use Davidson to show that he was well versed in squeezing money out of celebrities, and that Daniels thought her chances of getting paid for her story would vanish after the 2016 presidential election, which she expected Trump to lose.

Fortunately, something of Trump's side of the story is coming out, but I do not trust mainstream media to tell us the story straight. We're not able to watch the trial, and we don't even get a transcript, just whatever the media see fit to report. And yet there seems to be this idea — among the Trump antagonists — that we the voters will allow this trial to substantially manipulate our opinion of the man. The case was brought to manipulate us. The presidential election is at stake. Give us a transcript. 

[CORRECTION: Even though I read the news every day, I had not noticed that the New York court system announced, back on April 22, that it would provide transcripts: "The court system is taking the novel step of posting the daily transcripts of the trial proceedings on its public website.... 'With current law restricting the broadcasting of trial proceedings and courtroom space for public spectators very limited, the release of the daily transcripts on the court system’s website is the best way to provide the public a direct view of the proceedings in this historic trial,' said Chief Administrative Judge Zayas."]

Back to the WaPo account of Trump's lawyer, Emil Bove, cross-examining Davidson:

May 2, 2024

Sunrise — 5:45, 5:49, 5:51, 5:56.





"Keith Davidson, the former lawyer for the porn star Stormy Daniels, faced a blistering cross-examination... with defense lawyers casting him as a serial extortionist of celebrities."

The NYT reports.
Mr. Trump said he hated the deal with Ms. Daniels.... Prosecutors played the recording for the jury, letting them hear Mr. Cohen tell Mr. Davidson that Mr. Trump hated “the fact that we did it,” referring to the hush-money payment to Ms. Daniels....

They shouldn't write "Mr. Trump said he hated the deal with Ms. Daniels" when the evidence is only that Cohen said he hated "the fact that we did it."

Quite aside from whether the fact that they did the deal is different from the deal, all we know is that Cohen said Trump hated it.  They should have to write something like Cohen said that Trump said he hated making the deal. Cohen could have been lying.

"The backlash against the left was a key part of the 1968 presidential race. Richard Nixon famously ran a campaign on 'law and order'..."

"One commercial featured scenes of protest, as Nixon argued that 'in a system of government that provides for peaceful change, there is no cause that justifies a resort to violence.' Alabama Gov. George Wallace was a lot more direct that year in his third-party bid. While racism was at the heart of his message, he also denounced student protesters as 'silver spoon brats' who advocated 'treason' and said of protesters, 'Some of ’em lie down in front of my automobile, it’ll be the last thing they’ll ever wanna lie down in front of.' The scenes of violence in Chicago outside the Democrats’ 1968 presidential convention, meanwhile, further contributed to the notion that left-wing lawlessness had gotten out of control. It was a nightmare event for Hubert Humphrey’s beleaguered presidential campaign, one where the public overwhelmingly sided with the Chicago police, not the demonstrators. (And, of course, guess where Democrats are holding their 2024 convention: Chicago.)... [I]n November of 1968, Nixon and Wallace combined for 57 percent of the vote...."

"We all need a mom.... We really all need a tremendous hug in the world right now. But in our country, we need you to be 'Momala' of the country."

Says Drew Barrymore to Kamala Harris. This comes just after Barrymore begins the interview by trying to draw out Harris about her relationship to her 2 step-children. This sequence of topics and the redeployment of the family name "Momala" into the political sphere seems carefully planned, and it is an effort to tap Barrymore's immense warmth for the benefit of the Democratic Party vice presidential candidate, who is, I would say, insufficiently warm and puzzlingly fake:

Kamala's response is to nod and smile and murmur a "yeah" that sounds rather dubious.

What — if anything — is she thinking? I'll guess: 

"Despite a violent clash with police in Madison on Wednesday, pro-Palestinian encampments continued Thursday..."

"... at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at UW-Milwaukee.... Pro-Palestinian demonstrators have vowed to remain for as long as it takes until schools meet their demands. University leaders are balancing students’ right to protest with a desire to minimize disruptions to their campuses and enforce a state rule banning encampments."

Here's the statement put out yesterday by the UW-Madison chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin. It's painstakingly balanced. Excerpt:

Apple's iPhone alarm stopped working and caused some unknown number of human beings around the world to be late for work.

The London Times reports.

The company said it was working to fix an issue with the smartphone’s alarm...
Some users have suggested that turning off the iPhone’s “attention aware features” has helped them solve the issue. This was introduced in the latest iOS 17 operating system and is designed to turn down the volume of alerts or alarms if it detects the user is looking at or using the phone. It can be changed by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Attention-Aware Features....

What happens when everyone hates Joe Biden?

At The University of Alabama, the pro-Israel and anti-Israel demonstrators were both chanting "Fuck Joe Biden": Meanwhile, yesterday in Freeland, Michigan:

A once-avoided topic is suddenly everywhere: the problem of women's hormones.

Right now, on the front page of The Washington Post, there are 3 separate headlines:

“Women in early menopause with bothersome symptoms should not be afraid to take hormone therapy to treat them, and clinicians should not be afraid to prescribe them,” said JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the paper’s first author.

2. "'Menopause brain' is real. Here’s how women’s brains change in midlife. Brain imaging studies of women — conducted before and after menopause — reveal physical changes in structure, connectivity and energy metabolism."

For decades, some doctors have told women that the brain fog, insomnia and mood swings they experience in midlife are “all in their heads.” Now, emerging brain research shows they’re right....

 3. "Senators, Halle Berry to unveil $275 million bill to boost menopause care"

Congressional leaders will unveil Thursday a $275 million bill to boost federal research, physician training and public awareness about menopause, a campaign led by prominent female lawmakers and boosted by the star power of actor Halle Berry.

"Actor Halle Berry" — that's how we're supposed to talk now. Wouldn't want to call attention to her womanhood. She's just endorsing and promoting supplementing and fine-tuning women's hormones.

"Last August, a woman in Chicago opened her Too Good to Go bag and found seven pounds of smashed cake..."

"... (which she and her friend, the friend confessed, gobbled down). Someone who goes by Cassie Danger on Reddit reported receiving a 'corn sandwich' from a Choc O Pain in the Hoboken/Jersey City area, that is, a roll containing a handful of canned corn niblets topped with a couple of lettuce leaves."

Writes Patricia Marx in "Spoiler Alert: Leftovers for Dinner/How to host a dinner party for nine using a pre-trash haul from Too Good to Go and other food-waste apps. Carb-averse guests, beware" (The New Yorker).

Marx's 9 guests arrived and dumped out the "surprise bags" they'd ordered from the app Too Good to Go (which packages food left over from 6,987 NYC stores and restaurants):

May 1, 2024

Sunrise — 5:34, 5:54, 5:55.




Tulsi Gabbard on the new episode of Joe Rogan.

And you can watch the whole thing free now. No need for a Spotify subscription.

"President Biden cannot statistically win this election. Our campaign’s Director of Content, Jonathan Hiller, explains why."

Tweets RFK Jr., with this video:

Trump just finished a rally in Waukesha (Wisconsin).

I'm just seeing that. I'll post the full video and then watch it and comment if I have anything to say:

Mick Jagger warms up.

At the top of The Washington Post website: "Police detain a demonstrator at University of Wisconsin-Madison."


The headline to the left of that photo goes to the article "Tension between protesters, police continues on campuses across U.S." Excerpt:

"Young men are not as troubled by the chaotic and divisive style of Trump, while young women want people to be respected including themselves, want stability..."

"... and are very concerned about division and the potential for violence. Young women think Trump’s style is an embarrassment abroad, a poor role model for their children, and dangerous for the country. Younger men especially blue collar have a grudging respect for his strength and 'tell it like it is' attitude."

Wrote the Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, quoted by Thomas B. Edsall, in "A Huge Gender Gap Is Emerging Among Young Voters" (NYT).

"Federal Money Is All Over Milwaukee. Biden Hopes Voters Will Notice."

Headline at the NYT.

Across Milwaukee, residents can see evidence of federal money from laws passed under the Biden administration, if they know where to look.... [O]f the more than $1 billion for Milwaukee County in the American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act... much is harder to see.... That presents both an opportunity and a challenge to Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign as it seeks to show Americans how federal investments have improved their lives. Doing so is difficult because the laws delegated many spending decisions to state and local officials, obscuring the money’s source....

"No need to fear menopause hormone drugs, finds major women’s health study."

"A landmark women’s health study scared women and doctors away from menopause hormone treatments. A 20-year follow-up found that fears were largely overblown," WaPo reports (free access link).
The [2002] results disrupted medical care for millions of women who had been taking hormones....  Now, more than 20 years later, a long-term follow-up of the women in the WHI suggests the drugs are a relatively safe option for the short-term treatment of menopause symptoms in women under 60....

"The mountain exploded. Wow, it was horrible. There were rains of rocks. Twice. The second one was really heavy, even the houses far away were also hit."

Said a 95-year-old woman in Tagulandang.

The false narrative.

"interviewer asks Columbia student to comment on the forcible takeover of the university building & the young woman says, 'I think it's a false narrative.' he asks her to comment on custodial staff being held captive by the occupiers of Hamilton Hall & she says, 'I think that's a false narrative.' He asks her if she is saying that the custodian is lying & she says, 'I think that's a false narrative.' He asks about Oct. 7 & she says, 'Get out of my face' & walks away."

At some point, you've got to be able to articulate what you think is true. Otherwise, you're trying to beat something with nothing. But you can always walk away.

ADDED: If the students of today don't know how to think about and articulate what they feel is wrong, the teachers and the parents bear responsibility. Young people feel that something is terribly wrong — to the point where they feel called to act out — and they're not accepting the pushback that says you are anti-Semitic if you don't support whatever Israel decides to do. 

The anti-Israel protesters are finding themselves on the receiving end of the cancel culture methodology they know how to wield. They know how to call you "racist" if you oppose affirmative action or say "All lives matter." They know how to call you "transphobic" is you're horrified by puberty blockers and "sexist" if you question abortion on demand. They've seen how that has worked to control speech and to control minds, and good for them if they decline to take what they've dished out.

Yes, the hypocrisy is glaring and the chaos is painful. And I'm not expressing optimism. I'm just saying I can see an opportunity to move to a higher ground. 

AND: Here's the interview.

There's no bees in baseball!

Grok tries to help me analyze the "ethicality" of attaching a camera to your baby's head and deviously distracts me with the question of gluing hair onto the head of one's 3-year-old.

Here's my screen shot (and I'll tell you in a minute why I was asking this question):

I don't know why Jim Gaffigan had his question, but I had my question because I was reading the NYT article "From Baby Talk to Baby A.I./Could a better understanding of how infants acquire language help us build smarter A.I. models?" 

We read about a 20-month-old girl who wears "a soft pink hat" with a "lightweight GoPro-type camera... attached to the front." This particular child is only wearing the camera once a week for one month, but scientists are asking...

"He eschewed computers, often writing by fountain pen in his beloved notebooks."

"'Keyboards have always intimidated me,' he told The Paris Review in 2003. 'A pen is a much more primitive instrument,' he said. 'You feel that the words are coming out of your body, and then you dig the words into the page. Writing has always had that tactile quality for me. It’s a physical experience.' He would then turn to his vintage Olympia typewriter to type his handwritten manuscripts. He immortalized the trusty machine in his 2002 book 'The Story of My Typewriter'.... Such antiquarian methods did nothing to slow Mr. Auster’s breathless output. Writing six hours a day, often seven days a week, he pumped out a new book nearly annually for years...."

From "Paul Auster, the Patron Saint of Literary Brooklyn, Dies at 77/With critically lauded works like 'The New York Trilogy,' the charismatic author drew inspiration from his adopted borough and won worldwide acclaim" (NYT).

You can see by the headline that the obituary stresses the place — Brooklyn (even though Auster was born in New Jersey).  It quotes the author and poet Meghan O’Rourke:

"And is it wrong to say that I may not belong to one sect or the other but am, instead, whatever the nail equivalent of bi(coastal) is?"

"I love each expression precisely because of how different it can make me feel, taking me from a beacon of old-school femininity (with a twist) to something more practical but equally delicate. If the short nail is Audrey Hepburn, the long one is Sophia Loren. In modern terms, let’s say my Natalie Portman sun is facing off against my powerful Cardi B rising. And don’t we all contain multitudes?"

Writes Lena Dunham in Vogue in "The Long and the Short of It: Lena Dunham on Her Nail Journey."

Found because I was wondering what Lena Dunham was doing these days.

April 30, 2024

Sunrise — 5:49, 5: 52.



"If you want to be an apologist for Donald Trump, that may be your role, but it ain't mine."

"Your job is to be clever and agile enough that wherever they put the gates, I'm gonna make the gate."

That's where Seinfeld ends up, but not until after he decries "the extreme left and PC crap" which makes comedy writers need to "worry so much about offending other people."

"If you break it down, there’s actually so many steps that are involved with showering...."

"A single shower might include undressing, turning on the water, lathering, hair-washing, shaving, rinsing, drying off and choosing what to wear. For someone without depression... moving through those steps might feel seamless, like watching a flip book animation in which the transitions are nearly invisible. But for someone with depression, the same process may feel like flipping one page at a time, with each additional step making the undertaking seem increasingly daunting.... The subsequent inability to shower can reinforce the belief that you can’t do anything right.... That can cause a feedback loop where poor hygiene actually exacerbates the underlying symptoms that prevented the shower in the first place."

From "Why Is It So Hard to Shower When I’m Depressed? Issues with hygiene are common symptoms of depression. Here’s why, and how to make bathing a little easier" (NYT).

"There is a long and honorable history of civil disobedience in the United States, but true civil disobedience ultimately honors and respects the rule of law."

"In a 1965 appearance on 'Meet the Press,' the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described the principle perfectly: 'When one breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust, he must do it openly, he must do it cheerfully, he must do it lovingly, he must do it civilly — not uncivilly — and he must do it with a willingness to accept the penalty.' But what we’re seeing on a number of campuses isn’t free expression, nor is it civil disobedience. It’s outright lawlessness. No matter the frustration of campus activists or their desire to be heard, true civil disobedience shouldn’t violate the rights of others. Indefinitely occupying a quad violates the rights of other speakers to use the same space. Relentless, loud protest violates the rights of students to sleep or study in peace. And when protests become truly threatening or intimidating, they can violate the civil rights of other students, especially if those students are targeted on the basis of their race, sex, color or national origin."

Writes David French, in "Colleges Have Gone off the Deep End. There Is a Way Out" (NYT).

Reading poetry out loud "can induce peak emotional responses... that might include goose bumps or chills. "

"It can help you locate an emotion within yourself, which is important to health as a form of emotional processing. Poetry also contains complex, unexpected elements, like when Shakespeare uses god as a verb in Coriolanus: 'This last old man … godded me.' In an fMRI study... such literary surprise was shown to be stimulating to the brain... [Literature] can cause us to recall our most complex experiences and derive meaning from them. A poem or story read aloud is particularly enthralling... because it becomes a live presence in the room, with a more direct and penetrative quality, akin to live music.... Discussing the literature that you read aloud can be particularly valuable.... [D]oing so helps penetrate rigid thinking and can dislodge dysfunctional thought patterns.... [It may] expand[] emotional vocabulary... perhaps even more so than cognitive behavioral therapy...."

Writes Alexandra Moe, in "We’re All Reading Wrong/To access the full benefits of literature, you have to share it out loud" (The Atlantic).

This essay talks about reading out loud to another person and reading aloud when you are alone. There is some discussion of the benefit of listening to another person read to you. You might adopt the practice of taking turns reading aloud with your spouse. There's a brief mention of audiobooks, in the context of saying that you'll remember more of a book if you read it out loud.

April 29, 2024

Sunrise — 6:05.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit holds that that state health-care plans must cover transgender surgery.

WaPo reports.
Judge Roger Gregory, writing for the majority, called the restrictions “obviously discriminatory” based on both sex and gender.... 
[The] states insisted that there was no bias in their coverage limitations, only cost concerns; trans patients, they argued, were entitled only to the same health treatments as everyone else but not specialized care....

The court [wrote that] cost-cutting could not justify covering the same treatments for health concerns other than gender dysphoria. For example, the court noted, the contested plans covered mastectomies for cancer patients but not for trans women....

Mastectomies for cancer patients but not for trans women? Don't they mean mastectomies for cancer patients but not for trans men?! The Washington Post is having trouble keeping up, just like the people it looks down on.

ADDED: The article now has a correction: "An earlier version of this story reported that the contested insurance plans covered mastectomies for cancer patients but not for trans women. The plans covered mastectomies for all cancer patients, but did not cover the procedure for trans men who wanted their breasts removed to treat gender dysphoria."

New York Magazine offers what it says are the top 3 reasons why Kristi Noem is telling us that she killed her dog.

Here's the article, which I wanted to read because I have 3 theories. Let's see if mine are in this "top 3."

No! They are not. The NY Magazine top 3 list is:

Theory No. 1: Kristi Noem is an incredibly bad politician.... 
Theory No. 2: Kristi Noem is trying to impress Trump, and he hates dogs.... 
Theory No. 3: Kristi Noem wants off Trump’s VP shortlist....

Ugh! Poorly done! 

My 3 reasons are all so much better: 

Althouse Theory No. 1: There were witnesses, so the story would almost surely come out in some form eventually, and Noem chose to control the narrative, telling it in her own words, in her book. 

Althouse Theory No. 2: It was a trap to lure coastal-elite people into displaying their arrogance and ignorance. After they have their say, she's predicting, lots of working class people will step up and make fools out of them for failing to understand difficult, down-to-earth farm work and bird hunting.

Althouse Theory No. 3: Noem wanted to counter a stereotype about women, that we are too empathetic and indecisive, and she thought the anecdote about shooting the chicken-killing, person-biting dog showed her fitness to serve as Commander in Chief. 

"Over and over throughout the conference, anxieties over the drop in birth rates — the issue that brought the speakers and audience together..."

"... gave way to fears that certain populations were out-breeding their betters.... I talk with Malcolm and Simone Collins, the husband-and-wife founder of [They] present themselves as rationalists, techies trying to solve the looming depopulation crisis by any means necessary.... The couple is committed to fighting the 'urban monoculture' that they claim has tricked a generation of young Americans into spending their most fertile years chasing professional achievements and personal fulfillment at the expense of building a family. 'The monoculture is not an evil thing,' Malcolm... but, he continues, it’s built on false promises. 'It promises people, if you join us, you can do whatever makes you happy, so long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s quality of life, and you can be affirmed for whoever you want to be.' In reality, though, they become casualties of an elitist scam. The urban monoculture, Malcolm explains, breeds childlessness and therefore must poach other people’s children to survive. It lures them out of small towns and into large cities, encourages them to eschew their religious upbringings in favor of hedonistic secularism, and then leaves them to die alone...."

From "The Far Right’s Campaign to Explode the Population/Behind the scenes at the first Natal Conference, where a motley alliance is throwing out the idea of winning converts to their cause and trying to make their own instead" (Politico).

The federal government has taken sides in the war between the owls.

I'm reading "They Shoot Owls in California, Don’t They? An audacious federal plan to protect the spotted owl would eradicate hundreds of thousands of barred owls in the coming years" (NYT).
In a last-ditch effort to rescue the northern spotted owl from oblivion and protect the California spotted owl population, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed culling a staggering number of barred owls across a swath of 11 to 14 million acres in Washington, Oregon and Northern California....

The idea is to take up shotguns and night scopes against half a million of these "invasive" owls.

"What really worries me about this case is that, if Trump isn’t convicted, it is going to turbocharge his campaign."

"Trump will be able to say, with some credibility, that the Deep State really was out to get him."

Says Bret Stephens, in a conversation with Gail Collins, titled "Some Concrete Reasons Not to Be Totally Panicked" (NYT).

The Deep State should have thought about that before going out to get him.

Also, if you think it's credible that the Deep State is out to get him and that's a reason for you to hope he's convicted, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

"President Trump and President Biden are very different in their temperaments... extremely different... but the issues that they differ on are in a very very narrow band."

"They're mainly culture war issues —  abortion... guns, the border... woke ideology... transgenders... The border is the only one that I would say is even vaguely existential. But the big issues... that are exis.tential to our country, that really threaten all of us... neither of them has even taken positions on. The debt, for example. They're both equally bad on the debt. The debt is the the most important issue. $34 trillion. The service on that debt is now larger than our defense budget.... President Trump and President Biden are largely responsible individually for the that debt.... Within 10 years 100% of every dollar collected in taxes will go to servicing the debt. This is really an existential crisis for our country and you don't hear President Biden or President Trump ever talk about it and they have no solutions.... You can vote for Trump and Biden but you're going to get more of this same... They... both had four years in there and... they're not able to avert these this train that's coming at us.... They won't even talk about it because those policies are the products of a corrupt system, and I have the capacity to fix that system...."

Said RFK Jr., in this excellent interview with Ben Shapiro:

Watch the whole interview, and you may decide to presume you will vote for RFK. Trump/Biden can rebut the presumption by sitting down like this for an hour and a half with Ben Shapiro. Biden did an interview with Howard Stern. Do a real interview, Joe. 

April 28, 2024

Sunrise — 5:42.


"I’ve been reading a lot of Marcus Aurelius’s 'Meditations' book... And the funny thing about that book is..."

"... he talks a lot about the fallacy of even thinking of leaving a legacy—thinking your life is important, thinking anything’s important. The ego and fallacy of it, the vanity of it. And his book, of course, disproves all of it, because he wrote this thing for himself, and it lived on centuries beyond his life, affecting other people. So he defeats his own argument in the quality of this book.... I really have adopted the Marcus Aurelius philosophy, which is that everything I’ve done means nothing. I don’t think for a second that it will ever mean anything to anyone ten days after I’m dead...."

That movie about inventing the Pop-Tart was not sponsored by the company that makes Pop-Tarts, so it's not like the Barbie movie. I was glad to see that, so let me show you the trailer:

Nice effort at setting things in 1963 — including a scene in the Oval Office with JFK — so why use the David Bowie recording of "Rebel, Rebel," which came out in 1974? Is everything on the top 100 for 1963 not Pop-Tarty enough? Couldn't get the rights for "My Boyfriend's Back" or "Walk Like a Man" or "Easier Said Than Done" or "Da Doo Ron Ron"?

"So Bragg would use one dead misdemeanor to trigger a second dead misdemeanor to create a felony..."

"... on the simple notations used to describe payments for a completely legal nondisclosure agreement. This circular reasoning is already incredibly creative, but the actual evidence... is even wackier. Bragg decided to start with a witness to discuss an affair that is not part of the indictment. David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid, had supposedly been paid to kill a story of a Trump affair with a different woman, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model.... On cross examination, Pecker admitted that had Trump told him that he knew nothing about any reimbursement to Cohen for any hush money, that he had killed or raised such stories with Trump for decades before he ever announced for president...."

Writes Jonathan Turley, in "On Alvin Bragg and the art of not taking the law too seriously" (The Hill).

"We were always taught that we were the best, and so we couldn’t do anything but the best."

Said Duke Ellington's sister Ruth, quoted in "Duke Ellington would be 125. Washington still dances to his tune" (WaPo).
Today, this might sound myopic and perhaps naive, but at the time it was the credo of America’s best-known Black educator, Booker T. Washington. He argued that rather than try to topple an entrenched Jim Crow system, Black people could battle back more effectively through economic improvement, self-help and focused teaching. That is precisely what the D.C. schools were doing in the early 1900s, offering a large dose of Black history and prideful learning to students like Duke Ellington. He remembered his eighth-grade English instructor’s dictum: “Everywhere you go, you’re representing the race. And you command respect. You don’t ask for it. … You command respect with your behavior.” Ellington took that message to heart, the more so since it was reinforced at home. He believed that Black is beautiful and made it a principle to live by, long before it became the mantra of Black activists.

"When I work with younger writers, I am frequently amazed by how quickly peer feedback sessions turn into a process of identifying which characters did or said insensitive things."

"Sometimes the writers rush to defend the character, but often they apologize shamefacedly for their own blind spot, and the discussion swerves into how to fix the morals of the piece. The suggestion that the values of a character can be neither the values of the writer nor the entire point of the piece seems more and more surprising — and apt to trigger discomfort. While I typically share the progressive political views of my students, I’m troubled by their concern for righteousness over complexity. They do not want to be seen representing any values they do not personally hold.... I can’t blame younger writers for believing that it is their job to convey a strenuously correct public morality...."

From "Art Isn’t Supposed to Make You Comfortable" by the writer Jen Silverman, in the NYT.

Can't blame them? I say blame them. They're already feeling bad about not doing everything possible to promote prescribed morality. Make them feel bad about making bad art. You've got to leverage the bad feeling. 

Pick a Dakota governor. With the governor of the south in the doghouse, the governor of the north comes down the chimney.

Axios reports:
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is quickly moving up former President Trump's list of possible vice presidential picks because Trump's team believes he would be a safe choice who could attract moderate voters, four people familiar with the situation tell Axios....

Two sources familiar with the Trump's thinking [sic] said he likes Burgum's measured demeanor and his gubernatorial experience — and sees Burgum as reliable and low-drama. Those are similar to the traits Trump cited in 2016, when he tapped Mike Pence....
They share one personal touch point, which the sources said occasionally comes up in conversation between Trump and Burgum: Kathryn Burgum is recovering from alcoholism, an addiction that Trump's late brother Fred Trump Jr. also struggled with....

ADDED: We talked about the Kristi Noem dog story yesterday, here, and I took a little poll. The results:

"First they came for the attendees of the White House Correspondents Dinner, and I said nothing...."

"In 2023, the United States experienced its lowest birth rate since 1979, with a total fertility rate of 1.62 births per woman..."

"... well below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman. This decline, attributed to factors such as financial concerns, unstable work hours, and lack of paid leave, has resulted in approximately 3.6 million births, marking a 2 percent decrease from the previous year. Experts and public figures, including Elon Musk, have expressed concern over the long-term implications of this trend on the country's demographic and economic future."

A Grok news summary at X (that comes with the warning "Grok can make mistakes, verify its outputs").

Elon Musk, not content to be mentioned by his robot Grok, adds a tweet of his own (responding to a video from a woman propounding the "Great Replacement Theory"). Musk writes:

You're not dressing like Cary Grant.

Read the whole detailed thread. Quite aside from the fantasy of dressing like men did in 1548, Guy shows it's also a fantasy to believe that men in suits these days are dressing like Cary Grant in 1948.

I was especially interested in Guy's attention to the problem of a collar gap, because I was troubled to see that Biden was allowed to go on close-up camera last night at the Correspondents' Dinner with a giant gap between his shirt and his neck:


It's reminiscent of a ventriloquist dummy, notably Charlie McCarthy, who dressed in white tie:

"When frightened men take to social media they risk descending into vitriol, which makes them sound unhinged."

"President Trump's rant against me is a barely coherent barrage of wild and inaccurate claims that should best be resolved in the American tradition of presidential debate. President Trump, who has proven himself the most adept debater in modern American political history, should not be panicked to meet me on that stage."

Tweets RFK Jr., responding to Trump's tweet, which we discussed here yesterday.

RFK continues, previewing the arguments he would make in a debate to "show how President Trump betrayed the hopes of his most sincere followers":