May 18, 2024

"And now, 35 years after Mr. Kirk’s skeletal remains were found, a search for how he ended up dead in a chimney can begin."

The NYT covers a Madison, Wisconsin story, in "35 Years Later, the Remains Known as ‘Chimney Doe’ Have a Name and a Face/A skeleton found in the chimney of a Wisconsin music store in 1989 has been identified, relaunching a police investigation that had been dormant for decades" (free access link).

The skeleton — a 5'7" male with a broken pelvis— wore "a faded, paisley dress and pointed heels." After 35 years, searching DNA databases led to Ronnie Joe Kirk. The police have brought in the Trans Doe Task Force, which works on "cold cases involving L.G.B.T.Q. victims and victims of suspected gender-based violence."

"I think he’s praying. But if he is sleeping, you know, he certainly looks pretty while he sleeps."

Said Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, reacting to Congressman Robert Garcia, who'd had some reason to point out that Trump seems to be sleeping some of the time at his criminal trial, reported at Mediaite.

This exchange took place at the same House Oversight Committee meeting where Marjorie Taylor Greene sneered at Jasmine Crockett's false eyelashes and Crockett shot back with a butch-phobic remark about MTG's body.

The most outré quotes come from the Oversight Committee.

Consider "D.C.’s 'first activist hotel,' the Eaton, which features a 'Radical Library' in its lobby and has hosted protest song performances in its rooftop bar."

"And the city’s feminist-inflected Hotel Zena, where you will encounter a huge portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg made of tampons."

I'm reading "The world’s coolest hotels want to tell you a story/The latest design-driven hotels aim to immerse guests in a story or social movement, or transport them to another time" (WaPo).

That link on "feminist-inflected" goes to a 2020 Architectural Digest article about the hotel, where it says, "The larger-than-life homage to Justice Ginsburg has been constructed using 20,000 hand-painted tampons, arranged on a pegboard to create a pointillist portrait (complete with the justice’s signature lace collar and her 'Notorious' moniker). A 20-foot-long curving wall in the hotel’s restaurant evokes a glittering gown, adorned with 12,000 protest buttons from decades of feminist marches and events.... And a hanging installation of painted folding chairs honors Chisholm’s famous advice: 'If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.'"

I looked at Hotel Zena's website. It costs about $400 a night to stay there. I was sad to see that some of the rooms had a "king" bed. That's so wrong. I want to be drenched in activism when battling insomnia at the feminist hotel. They need to curate every detail or it's insufficiently immersive. Also what's with bringing your own folding chair? I thought we were kicking the fucking door down?

May 17, 2024

Sunrise — 5:36, 5:44, 5:45.

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"If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody’s bleach blond, bad-built butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?"

Said Representative Jasmine Crockett, during a meeting of the House Oversight Committee, referring to Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had just said to her "I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading."

I've seen the video, and now I'm reading the NYT article, "The Ugly Effect of Physical Insults/A recent congressional meeting devolved into a back-and-forth that reflects a changing norm in politics — one that rarely makes anybody look good."


I don't approve of the unprofessionalism, but if we're just comparing insults and taking into account that Crockett didn't start it, I want to say "bleach blond, bad-built butch body" is impressive — with 6 B's in a row and the unforgettable "butch body." And can we analyze the extent to which "bad-built butch body" violates the norms of progressive speech. It's not just body shaming, it's expressing contempt for a woman's failure to have a body in the stereotypical female form. That's transphobic (in the broad sense).

Lawrence O'Donnell does an excellent professional job of clearly and concisely presenting what happened to Michael Cohen yesterday.

TikTok so it's after the jump:

"Bimbo feminism is the celebration of woman as a dumb, hot object. Woman as an absolute idiot."

"To hell with girlbosses and equality in the boardroom. New feminism—bimboism—is about celebrating the vacant, sexual woman, the dumb woman, the hole. Being smart is capitalism. 'No more Instagrams about rising and grinding,' an opinion writer at The New York Times told us one day in describing the trend. 'No more The Wing. No more straining to be smarter than the boys. Bimboism offers an opposing and, to some, refreshing premise: Value me, look at me, not because I’m smart and diligent but for the fact that I’m not. It’s anticapitalist, even antiwork.'...The first wave [of feminism] was the suffragettes from the late 1800s who fought for a woman’s right to be seen as an autonomous individual and to vote. By the 1960s and ’70s, the second wave was about equal rights for women at work and the little things, like being able to own credit cards and decide when you have your own children. The 1990s saw a third wave focused on sexual liberation and expanding the conversation beyond wealthy white women.... And now, in the 2020s, there’s the fourth wave. The fourth turning. The trans revolution and the bimbo feminist.""


That opinion writer at The New York Times was Sophie Haigney. Here's her piece "Meet the Self-Described ‘Bimbos’ of TikTok." And here's where I blogged it back in 2022. When I ran across "bimbo feminism" listening to Bowles book this morning, I felt like that's something new, I ought to blog that. But now I see, not only did I blog the article Bowles was talking about, I had the same feeling I was seeing it for the first time:

"Activities and experiences have long been part of luxury hotel offerings. But many current offerings come with extra cachet...."

"That could mean an invitation to an artist’s private studio to learn about their process ($7,500) or mastering fish butchery and handcrafted sushi ($750)....  'When you get to the top of the mountain, you’re talking to God,' said [one hotel] manager.... 'I’ll send you up there with a bottle of Champagne and say, "Just sit down and have a chat."'... Hotel experts say that the arms race for bigger, bolder, more creative experiences will continue. 'Guests are starved for something new because everything around them has been turned into an algorithm,' said [one concierge team supervisor], who is constantly digging deeper to come up with the novel...."

From "Looking for ‘a Different Kind of Wow’: Next Level Hotel Experiences/From cooking with a Michelin-star chef to taking a chauffeured shopping spree in Singapore, hotels and resorts are offering ever-more-lavish activities for guests" (NYT).

The word "experience" appears 10 times in the article. You travel somewhere and the hotel has packaged what they call an "experience" that you can buy. Some of it is frankly bullshit — "talking to God" — and some of it is frankly off-putting — "fish butchery" — and some of it feels socially awful — intruding on an artist and "their process." Who is taken in by this sort of thing?

"In order to return to the university, some students would be required to complete a 49-page set of reading and tasks — 'modules' — known as the Ethos Integrity Series..."

"... geared at helping participants 'make gains' in 'moral reasoning' and 'ethical decision making.'... Some students would be assigned a 'reflection paper'... address[ing] several questions, among them: What are your values? Did the decision you made align with your personal values? What have you done or need still to do to make things right? Explicitly instructed not to 'justify' their actions, the students were told to turn their papers in by May 29 in '12-point Times New Roman or similar font.'..."

Writes Ginia Bellafante, in "Why Is N.Y.U. Forcing Protesters to Write Apology Letters?/The university calls it a 'restorative practice'; the students call it a coerced confession" (NYT).

A university spokesman characterized the assignment as consistent with what are called "restorative practices." Bellafante writes:
In this instance, though, the exercise cannibalizes the mission, favoring a will to dishonesty — inviting a charade of guilt. Anyone driven to protest is marching and chanting precisely as an expression of a certain set of fiercely held moral beliefs and values — not in deviation from them....
In this instance... what about other instances? Is this instance so special? I'd like to see more depth on this topic of "restorative practices" and the horrors of forced speech and compulsory insincerity. 

I liked this comment over there, from Jeremy:

"I’m somewhat sympathetic to those who find protests uncomfortable. They’re always disruptive..."

"... as they’re supposed to be. And big loud crowds make me nervous now in a way that they didn’t when I was 22 and a big loud crowd was fun and meant I was at a club with oontz-oontz-oontz music and 73 of my closest friends. I now prefer political participation that is less hard on the knees. But I am exhilarated to see students using protest for exactly the reasons it’s protected by the First Amendment. It allows them to stand up for their values, invest in what’s happening in the world and hold decision makers accountable, even if it means putting themselves at risk. And most compellingly, it’s getting the attention of the president and other lawmakers who can effect change far beyond the walls of any university campus."

Writes Elizabeth Spiers in "What Hillary Clinton Got Wrong About Student Protesters" (NYT).

What did Hillary say that Spiers deemed wrong? She dismissed young people as ignorant of "the history of the Middle East or frankly about history in many areas of the world, including in our own country."

By the way, I had to look up "oontz-oontz-oontz music." I found this:

"Across the battleground, Biden is losing to Trump among working-class voters by 16 points."

"That compares to Biden’s national working-class deficit of just 4 points in 2020.... In Michigan, Biden’s working-class deficit against Trump is 24 points. In 2020, that deficit was just 6 points.... In Pennsylvania, it’s Trump over Biden by 19 points among working-class voters. That’s a sharp drop from Biden’s 9 point deficit among these voters in 2020 (States of Change data). This is a state that Biden won by only a single point last election. In Wisconsin, Biden is behind Trump by 6 points among working-class voters. That doesn’t sound so great but is actually 6 points better than Biden did in 2020, when he lost these voters by 12 points. This is the only state of the six surveyed by the Times where Biden is running better among these voters today than in 2020...."

Writes Ruy Teixeira, in "The Working Class-Sized Hole in Democratic Support Widens/This is a big, big problem" (Liberal Patriot). He's looking at the recent NYT poll of voters in the battleground states.

Seems like the key for Biden is understanding Wisconsin. What's happening here that isn't happening in Michigan and Pennsylvania?

Teixeira ends his column with the idea presented in Blueprint, which he quotes:

"People are thinking...." Which people?

I'm trying to understand Trump's new post (at Truth Social):

People are thinking that Soros backed D.A., Alvin Bragg, who never wanted to bring the Witch Hunt against me in the first place, is going to drop this ridiculous and very unpatriotic “CASE” in order to save lots of money, and also the self respect of his once revered Office. He would then be able to focus on Violent Crime, which is running rampant and totally out of control in New York. The dilemma is, and always has been, the Trump Hating (APPOINTED IN 2009 & STILL ACTING!) Judge, Juan Merchan, who would be confronted with the problem of how he would explain this TRUMP loss, to the Radical Left Democrats, to whom he owes so much? Bring back “Justice in America.” ELECTION INTERFERENCE!!!

Which people are thinking this? He's writing in the present tense. He uses this crazed shorthand, expects us to get what "election interference" refers to, and that I get. But who thinks that at this point Bragg would drop the case? There are always people thinking things, but why post? You could post any idea you want to waft and append "People are thinking." Just by reading that, I'm "thinking" about it. That's what reading is. It's easy to translate into a wish: Bragg ought to drop the case.

Oh! It's "risible Robin DiAngelo" now!

I'm reading Michelle Goldberg's new NYT column about the Nellie Bowles book, which I'm almost done reading. 

There is much about that febrile moment worth satirizing, including the white-lady struggle sessions inspired by the risible Robin DiAngelo and the inevitable implosion of Seattle’s anarchist Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Bowles dissects both in the book's best sections.... But “Morning After the Revolution” is undermined by Bowles’s lazy mockery and insupportable generalizations.... 

I note that Goldberg doesn't provide any support for calling Robin DiAngelo "risible." Is that not also lazy mockery? What did Robin DiAngelo — once vaunted in the New York Times — do to deserve this casual brush-off? She was everywhere and now she's... what? Worthless?

There's also this from Goldberg:

May 16, 2024

Sunrise: 5:34, 5:37, 5:39.

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"The perpetrator was not a member of any radicalized group.... He was not left or right — he was interested in politics, that’s all."

"The only group he was a member of was the association of Slovak writers," according to Interior Minister Matus Sutaj-Estok, who said that "the suspect had expressed antigovernment sentiments, including attending protests over the last year, but had been 'radicalized recently, after the presidential election.'"

From "Slovak officials call the shooting suspect a ‘lone wolf’ who had recently been radicalized" in "Suspect Is Charged in Attempted Killing of Slovakia’s Leader/The authorities did not identify the suspect in the shooting of Prime Minister Robert Fico but described him as a 'lone wolf.' Politicians called for calm as Mr. Fico’s condition appeared to stabilize" (NYT).

We're told the suspect was a "71-year-old amateur poet" and he "did not 'agree with current politics.'" But what were the current politics that the suspect did not agree with?

"We’re not judging you for the soap that you use. But, collectively, that can add up as billions of people wash their hands or bathe..."

"... hundreds or thousands of times a year. If you’re so inclined, it makes sense to switch to a more eco-friendly product. Just understand that there may be a trade-off between sustainability and comfort. 'The consumer has to decide: Are they serious about where their soap comes from, whether it’s synthetic or natural?...'"

From "Bar soap or body wash: Which is best for your skin and the planet? Depending on its ingredients and packaging, your soap could cut as much as a third of the carbon emissions from your next shower" (WaPo).

So: Don't feel judged, but feel judged. "We’re not judging you"... but you — you conscientious people — need to step up and judge yourself.

That reminds me. I'm reading a book — "Morning After the Revolution" by Nellie Bowles (commission earned) — and here's how the chapter "The Most Important White Woman in the World" begins:

"Michael Cohen’s voice sounded truly bizarre in that podcast clip celebrating Trump's indictment on March 30 last year. "

"Giddy, high-pitched, and he was speaking so fast that if you didn’t know better you’d think the tape had been artificially sped up. It also offered jurors a completely different version of the Cohen they are seeing on the witness stand, where he has remained calm and deliberate with every word. [Trump's lawyer] Todd Blanche plays a second clip of Michael Cohen from his podcast, in which he says he hopes 'that this man ends up in prison,' and 'revenge is a dish best served cold,' and 'you better believe I want this man to go down and rot inside for what he did to me and my family.' Cohen's New York accent — he is from the Five Towns, on Long Island — is very pronounced in the podcast clips...."

From the NYT live coverage of the Trump trial. Here's a free-access link.

This gets my rarely used "revenge" tag.

I delved into the topic most deeply back in July 2011, here. Quoting Wikipedia:

"All across America, millions of people in so-called ‘Blue States’ are joining our movement based on LOVE, INTELLIGENCE, and, above all, COMMON SENSE."

Said Trump, in a statement, quoted in "Struggling in the Sunbelt and the West, Biden Tries to Fortify Blue Wall/‘The Blue Wall is the path of least resistance to 270’ electoral votes, one Democrat says" (Wall Street Journal)(no paywall (I think)).

The only path that offers Biden hope seems to be winning Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. He needs all three. Trump only needs one, as long as it's either Michigan or Pennsylvania. (Here's an interactive map to check whether I'm right about that. And here's the "no toss ups" map for reference.)

Here's what the article has to say about Biden's chances in those 3 states: "Michigan Democrats warn that the continuing war in Gaza has galvanized the state’s large Arab-American community and young voters against the president. Despite repeated trips to Pennsylvania, Biden is still in a tough fight in a place where he was once called the state’s 'third senator,' as voters cite concerns about the economy and prices. And in Wisconsin, known for its Democratic organizing prowess, Rep. Mark Pocan said there is work to do. 'The president certainly is showing up a lot,' said Pocan, a progressive Democrat whose district includes Madison, Wis., and some surrounding areas. But he said there are “still some headwinds around cost of living. There’s some specific headwinds around the war in the Middle East, specifically, on conditions in Gaza.'"

Some people are depending on the crazy NY trial to save Joe Biden. For example, Paul Campos, at Lawyers Guns Money: "So everything hinges on the current New York state criminal trial. If Trump is convicted, my confidence that he is going to lose in November goes to pretty much 100% (It may be absurd, but every poll indicates this would have a massively negative effect on his chances, because it’s the kind of information that actually penetrates the skulls of 'low information voters.'). If it’s a hung jury, I really have no sense of how that cuts. An acquittal would be a devastating development, but I think the chances of that are very slim."

"We made a mistake. Our ads referencing celibacy were an attempt to lean into a community frustrated by modern dating..."

"... and instead of bringing joy and humor, we unintentionally did the opposite. Some of the perspectives we heard were: from those who shared that celibacy is the only answer when reproductive rights are continuously restricted; from others for whom celibacy is a choice, one that we respect; and from the asexual community, for whom celibacy can have a particular meaning and importance, which should not be diminished. We are also aware that for many, celibacy may be brought on by harm or trauma."

Said the dating app company Bumble, apologizing for its ad campaign with the slogan "A vow of celibacy is not the answer/Introducing the new Bumble."

I'm reading about this in "Bumble to Users: You Need Sex. Users to Bumble: Get Lost. A new advertising campaign from the dating app set off a firestorm of criticism, prompting the company to apologize" (NYT).  From the article, which is by Gina Cherelus, who says, "Framing celibacy and abstinence from sex as a negative isn’t all that different from framing promiscuity and sexual freedom as shameful."

May 15, 2024

Sunrise — 5:38.

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"President Biden said in a statement that he has received, and accepted, an invitation from CNN for a debate on June 27."

"'Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place,' he wrote. Mr. Trump told Fox News Digital that he 'will be there' and is 'looking forward to being in beautiful Atlanta.' CNN confirmed the date in a statement and said the debate would be hosted in its Atlanta studios, in a crucial swing state, with no audience. Moderators will be announced later."


That's brand-new breaking news. It came out just as I was about to put up this TikTok of President Biden challenging Trump to a debate (as if Trump hadn't been saying — for months — "anywhere, any time, any place" to Biden).

Let's talk about the unusually red portrait of King Charles and whether his flinch, as he unveiled it, revealed a horror of the thing.


I like this longer clip. I'd seen the short clips on Twitter, which make it seem as though Charles was seeing it for the first time and giving an unfiltered negative reaction. But here, you get to see him interacting with the artist, Jonathan Yeo, and there's discussion of slight differences since the last time Charles saw it. "You fiddled away, didn't you, up here, somewhere," Charles says, wiggling his fingers toward the head area.

I love that little smile she gets when she sees the opening and how many openings she sees.

"Eight TikTok creators sued the U.S. government Tuesday to block the recently passed law..."

"In the filing... the group says that the law... 'promises to shutter a discrete medium of communication that has become part of American life, prohibiting Petitioners from creating and disseminating expressive material with their chosen editor and publisher,' the lawsuit says.... One of the creators on the most recent suit is Brian Firebaugh, a rancher in Texas. According to the filing, Firebaugh earns income from the TikTok Creator Fund and from selling products promoted on the app. 'Without access to TikTok, Firebaugh would need to get a different job and pay for daycare instead of raising his son at home,' the lawsuit says. 'If you ban TikTok, you ban my way of life'...."


Here are Firebaugh's TikTok videos. Here's his new video, saying, while running, "I don't do this. I never get political on my account" — then, interrupting himself and singsonging — "I'm suing Biden."

"She acknowledges being the beneficiary of a previous generation’s progressivism... It’s the crazy activism she’s against — you know, the 'fringe' stuff."

"By fringe, she means trans. She’s peeved that some trans women are trying to redefine feminism in ways that seem to her to be anti-woman, resents that lesbians risk being erased by trendy all-purpose queerness and fears that as a married lesbian mother she will have her own rights swept away by anti-trans backlash.... I was, of course, eager to read good gossip about The Times. The best nugget: After Bowles started dating... Bari Weiss... she says an editor [exclaimed]... 'She’s a Nazi.'... Her most serious charge is that the editor thought her story ideas weren’t as good after that. The obvious question is whether her heterodox turn has conferred much benefit when it comes to ideas. The ones on display here seem pretty shopworn. I recall admiring a sharp-elbowed profile of the psychologist and anti-identity politics commentator Jordan Peterson that Bowles wrote early in her Times tenure. Nothing in this book hits that level.... [T]he book’s central fallacy is that idiocy on the left requires moving to the right. It doesn’t...."

Writes Laura Kipnis, in The New York Times. She's reviewing the new book by Nellie Bowles, "Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches From the Wrong Side of History" (commission earned).

Should I read this book? It's 7 hours by audiobook. I'll try. Kipnis warns me that Bowles is trying to be the new Tom Wolfe, but she's not as good as Wolfe (and neither is Kipnis): "where Wolfe was a precision-guided stiletto, Bowles is more of a dull blade, ridiculing her former colleagues by saddling them with laughably vacuous thoughts and dreams — their 'beautiful vision of the role of journalism for such a beautiful time,' for instance."

What about in that "sharp-elbowed profile" of Peterson? Was she closer to Wolfe back then? I blogged it at the time — here, in 2018. Bowles wrote:

"Perhaps Judge Juan Merchan has been sobered by the defense mistrial motion he prompted last week."

"The judge foolishly allowed Manhattan prosecutors to elicit graphic testimony from porn star Stormy Daniels about a 2006 sexual encounter she claims to have had with Donald Trump. That testimony was irrelevant to the sole question in the trial, which is whether Trump fraudulently falsified his financial records in 2017. On that matter, Daniels has no knowledge; thus, her testimony was offered solely to inflame the jury against the defendant. Whatever the reason, the latest ploy by District Attorney Alvin Bragg was too much, even for the complaisant Merchan...."

Writes Andrew C. McCarthy in "Alvin Bragg again tries an underhanded tactic against Trump" (NY Post).

IN THE COMMENTS: Wince writes: "I still think Merchan is apt to surprise everyone by granting a directed verdict that extricates himself and the state from this unethical debacle, while avoiding an increasingly likely hung jury or outright defense verdict in Trump’s favor."

I've been wondering, which of the following 2 options is better for Trump and his supporters, going forward: Merchan grants a directed verdict, or the jury acquits. Again, consider only those 2 option and not others, and now tell me which is preferable for Trump opponents.

I'm not suggesting those are the 2 most likely options. I'm just asking who benefits politically from a directed verdict for Trump. Of course, at the point of deciding whether to grant a directed verdict, the judge doesn't know what the jury will do, and the judge should not take into account who will benefit politically (or whether he will be accused of doing so). 

Will people feel more confident in the judicial system if the judge grants a directed verdict or if the case goes to the jury? 

AND: Also in the comments: Mr Wibble answers my question: "His opponents benefit more from a directed verdict than from an acquittal. The former allows them to continue to claim that he's guilty but was only let go because of technical errors, with Bragg taking the brunt of the blame, whereas the latter would be seen as a repudiation by the public."

May 14, 2024

At the Tuesday Night Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you like.

"How do we in New York reconcile the decisions of law by members of our highest court that seem disconnected with the factual realities around rape and power differentials..."

"... that lead to sexual abuse in the workplace? After this Weinstein decision, how do we give faith to victims that the system can work to hold sexual abusers like Weinstein accountable?"

Asks Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in "What It Takes to Keep Harvey Weinstein, and Men Like Him, Behind Bars" (NYT)(free access link). Vance was the Manhattan D.A. who prosecuted Weinstein.

"Michael Cohen is now explicitly testifying that the invoices he was sending, which he has sought to tie to Trump, were false documents."

"He is going over the monthly invoices he created, which described him as having been paid for 'services rendered,' and testifying that they were false records. He stresses they weren’t valid legal fees, but 'reimbursements.' Michael Cohen confirms that in response to the false invoices, he received 11 checks in 2017 totaling $420,000...."

Here's a gift link to the NYT's live coverage of the Trump trial.

"[V]arious ax-grinders want to use Biden’s struggles to push the party toward their positions. Critics of Israel have fixated..."

"... on the problems created by encampments at elite universities. And it is true that the news media’s intense coverage of an issue that splits the Democratic coalition and unites the Republican coalition hurts Biden and helps Trump. But that does not accurately reflect the nature of Biden’s polling deficit. The Harvard youth poll found Israel-Palestine at the bottom of young voters’ concerns.... Overall, the public continues to sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians by a margin of 41 percent to 22 percent.... [S]iding with the unpopular protesters would not address the source of Biden’s unpopularity. Another, more traditional form of ax-grinding came recently from Mark Penn in a Times op-ed. Penn... a key strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign... [has a] long-standing fixation... [on moving] to the center across the board.... In reality, taxing the rich and corporations is Biden’s most popular issue.... The economy is still healthy, and the anti-Israel protests might — might — die down. But the trajectory remains grim...."

Writes Jonathan Chait, in "No, Your Pet Issue Is Not Making Biden Lose/It’s inflation, not Israel or class warfare" (New York Magazine).

"This is all so unbelievable. It seems like a big joke. But the damage being done to America is a tragedy."

Writes Juan Williams in "Get ready to see Trump go to jail" (The Hill).

Nice use of the passive voice! Who's doing the damaging??!!

"Researchers are unsure... but theories include that it is a playful manifestation of the mammals’ curiosity, a social fad or..."

"... the intentional targeting of what they perceive as competitors for their favourite prey, the local bluefin tuna."

From "Yacht sinks after latest incident involving orcas in strait of Gibraltar/Vessel measuring 15 metres in length sank after encounter with the animals, Spain’s maritime rescue service reports" (The Guardian). 

Also: "Experts believe them to involve a subpopulation of about 15 individuals given the designation 'Gladis.'"

From last year in The Guardian: "The orca uprising: whales are ramming boats – but are they inspired by revenge, grief or memory?" That's a much more interesting article....

Kamala Harris says sometimes "You need to kick that fucking door down."

Here's the whole context, "Vice President Harris Remarks at APAICS Summit Vice President Kamala Harris sat down for a conversation with comedian and actor Jimmy O. Yang during the National Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies leadership summit in Washington, DC. She spoke about breaking down barriers and the importance of democracy. The vice president also spoke on women’s reproductive rights and gun control."

It's a bland occasion and the topics are routine, so the occurrence of "fucking" comes as a surprise. It gets attention. But it made me think of 3 things, in this order:

At this point, they're only asking you to suffer physically for the sake of the environment.

But you really ought to take that shower in "warm or room-temperature water — or even cold water"

I'm reading, "Why you should embrace using cold water, almost all the time/Heating water gobbles energy, leading to higher utility bills and more planet-warming emissions" in The Washington Post.

If I keep the house at 62° or lower all winter, may I still take the hot bath I think need to restore heat to my inner core? Or will the failure to take cold showers count as a sin henceforward? 

Look at the backhanded treatment of baths:
Instead of taking long hot showers or baths that can dehydrate your skin, dermatologists recommend showers of no more than 10 minutes, using warm or room-temperature water — or even cold water — which is less drying to skin.

They can't time limit a bath. Unlike a shower, the water usage is complete at the point when you get in (unless you stay in so long you need to reheat it with new water). But maybe you know the number of minutes it takes to fill your bath, so you could take a "10 minute" bath. Would that fill your bathtub? I ask Siri to set my timer to 15 minutes, and of course, I use hot water. Maybe I should only fill the bath 2/3 of the way — with room-temperature water — for the planet. I'd rather take a 3-minute shower and have it hot.

Taking away our hot showers and baths? It feels as if you want to deprive us of the most basic pleasures of living in the modern world.

May 13, 2024

Sunrise — 5:35, 5:40, 5:41, 5:46.

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Write about whatever you like in the comments, but yes, those are insects in the last photo.

"Worth going to see? I can well believe it. Worth seeing? Mneh!"

Wrote W.H. Auden in the poem "Moon Landing," published in The New Yorker September 6, 1969. Here's the facsimile page for subscribers. But anyone can read it here.

I ran across it just now because, writing about a perfectly healthy woman who'd undergone assisted suicide, I'd stumbled across a 2011 piece in The New Yorker that brought up the word "meh," which naturally sent me to the OED. 

According to its etymology page, "meh" probably came from the Yiddish word "me" — which means "be it as it may, so-so" — and, we're told, "It is unclear whether there is any direct connection with (earlier) mneh."

The OED's quote for "mneh" was what you see in the post title, W.H. Auden, in 1969, poetically dumping on the trip to the moon.

"The procedure, or the appointment — none of us seem to want to say the word death — has been moved from Thursday morning to the early afternoon."

"Another lifetime of waiting. By 9 a.m., the clouds have broken, and my mother is already dressed, her hair in curlers. She is sitting on the bed, looking at her computer. My sister and I suggest a walk. My mother declines: 'I’m doing emails. Just unsubscribing from Politico.' 'Mom!' We splutter. 'We can do that! It’s your last day on earth!' Which it is, and so we desist. Around noon, we go down to the hotel bar. My mother orders a whiskey-soda, ice cream, and a glass of Barolo. She enjoys the wine so much that I suggest she could just not go through with it and stay in this exact hotel and drink herself into oblivion for the rest of her life. Like Bartleby, she’d prefer not to."

From "The Last Thing My Mother Wanted/Healthy at age 74, she decided there was nothing on earth still keeping her here, not even us" (NY Magazine)(the mother opts for assisted suicide, available in Switzerland)("She had a three-pronged rationale... The world was going to hell, and she did not want to see more; she did not get joy out of the everyday pleasures of life or her relationships; and she did not want to face the degradations of aging").

I don't think I'd ever seen Bartleby used in the context of suicide, but here's a 2011 New Yorker column by Ian Crouch, "Bartleby and Social Media: I Would Prefer Not To":

"Commit great poems to heart, starting with those by Gerard Manley Hopkins and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Recite them aloud on solitary walks."

"Recite them aloud on solitary walks. Compose dirty limericks in your head. Read more for pleasure, less for purpose. Read, immediately, Marguerite Yourcenar’s 'Memoirs of Hadrian.' Imitate the writers or artists you most admire; you’ll find your own voice and style in all the ways your imitation falls short. Don’t post self-indulgent glam shots of yourself on Instagram, and please stop photographing your damn meals... Make only enough money so that you don’t have to think about it much.... Never join a cause if you aren’t fully familiar with the argument against it. Heed the words of Rabbi Hillel: 'Where there are no men, be thou a man.' Or woman...."

Says Bret Stephens, recounting what he said in a commencement address, in a conversation with Gail Collins, in the NYT.

Collins reacts: "That’s pretty damn good.... But I’m not going to go so far as to suggest student protesting is a bad or silly idea." Yeah, I guess students are never fully familiar with the argument against their cause.

"[T]he voyeuristic new 'Portal' street exhibit in the Flatiron District connecting New York City and Dublin with a 24/7 live video feed has already caused chaos..."

"... with mischief-makers on Ireland’s side flashing everything from their bare bums to swastikas and a photo of the Twin Towers in flames on 9/11.... [The] earnest utopian vision proved no match for the pub-lined Dublin thoroughfare, whose Guinness-glugging patrons were quickly drawn to the futuristic-looking exhibit like moths to a flame in videos circulating online. Within hours of the Dublin portal going live, a 'very drunk' woman in her 40s was led away by cops and arrested after 'grinding' her backside against the screen... Adam Nunan, a cruise ship audio engineer originally from Dublin and in New York while the ship is docked here, said, 'That doesn’t represent Ireland very well when you do that. That was everyone’s thoughts back home, there was a lot of people who didn’t want the portal to be built for that reason, that Americans might look at Irish people in the portal doing weird stuff....'"

From "NYC-Dublin live video art installation already bringing out the worst in people with lewd displays" (NY Post).

Earnest utopian vision? Why was this invitation to exhibitionism able to be promoted as utopian? And on what basis does the NY Post present the "utopian vision" as earnest? And why does the headline say "bringing out the worst in people" when the article is all about what's happening on the Irish end of the portal? 

Large rock the size of a small rock.

A TikTok video:

"While [Michael] Cohen is not under a gag order like Trump, it’s generally not beneficial for the prosecution to have a chatty witness publicly discussing ongoing proceedings."

"'Trump 2024? More like Trump 20 to 24 years,' Cohen said on a recent stream.... While it’s not disclosed how much money Cohen earns on these streams, the longer and more frequently he goes live, the more potential earning opportunity he has. It’s possible that Cohen sees his platform as an opportunity for character redemption. Once a Trump confidant, he now tells his audience to 'vote blue down-ballot.'"

From "The weird world of Michael Cohen’s live TikTok streaming/The former Trump fixer, now a critic, is expected to take the stand this week in Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial. Meanwhile, he is live wearing cowboy hat filters, receiving calls from Rosie O’Donnell and sharing his feelings on TikTok" (WaPo)(free access link, so you can view a bunch of clips without going to TikTok looking for Cohen's account).

Cohen is the prosecution's star witness, and he's taking the stand today. 

"Mr. Trump fares especially well among those who believe that the political and economic systems ought to be torn down, a group that represents about 15 percent..."

"... of registered voters. He leads among these anti-system voters by 32 points, and the tear-it-down voters are especially likely to have defected from the president. In contrast, Mr. Biden retains nearly all of his 2020 supporters who believe only minor changes are necessary. These change voters are not necessarily demanding a more ideologically progressive agenda.... Instead, Mr. Biden’s losses are concentrated among moderate and conservative Democratic-leaning voters, who nonetheless think that the system needs major changes or to be torn down altogether."

From "Trump Leads in 5 Key States, as Young and Nonwhite Voters Express Discontent With Biden/A new set of Times/Siena polls, including one with The Philadelphia Inquirer, reveal an erosion of support for the president among young and nonwhite voters upset about the economy and Gaza" (NYT)(free access link/useful charts and details).

Also: "Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden are essentially tied among 18-to-29-year-olds and Hispanic voters, even though each group gave Mr. Biden more than 60 percent of their vote in 2020. Mr. Trump also wins more than 20 percent of Black voters — a tally that would be the highest level of Black support for any Republican presidential candidate since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The polls suggest that Mr. Trump’s strength among young and nonwhite voters has at least temporarily upended the electoral map, with Mr. Trump surging to a significant lead in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — relatively diverse Sun Belt states where Black and Hispanic voters propelled Mr. Biden to signature victories in the 2020 election."

"The phrase cold lava is a translation of the term 'lahar' in Indonesian and Tagalog. Temperatures range between 0°C and 100°C..."

"... according to how they are formed, but are typically below 50°C [122°F], according to several academic reports on the phenomenon. A moving lahar resembles a 'roiling slurry of wet concrete' that can grow in volume as it incorporates other debris in its path, said the US Geological Survey."

From "'Cold lava' sweeps villages near volcano, killing 41" (BBC)("I heard the thunder and the sound similar to boiling water. It was the sound of big rocks falling from Mount Marapi").

May 12, 2024

Sunrise 5:34, 5:40.

IMG_6430

IMG_6436

"So we embarked on a new era — no longer Papa and Daddy but now Mommy and Daddy."

Writes Richard Just, in "Our daughter wanted a mommy, so she picked one of her dads/Are women really the only people who can be maternal?" (WaPo).
At first, I thought it might turn out to be a quickly forgotten phase, but our daughter... made it clear she was digging in: Any time I slipped up and referred to him as Papa, she swiftly corrected me. Pretty soon, she began to police my husband’s pronouns as well. Initially, I had tried to pair his new Mommy title with the male pronouns that he uses — a small concession to reality, I guess — but it wasn’t long before our daughter began to insist that he be referred to as she and her....  “She!” she would gruffly instruct me, as I unthinkingly mis-mis-gendered the man I had been married to for 10 years. “Why do you say ‘he’?”...

The daughter is 3 1/2. 

In the end, I’ve come to believe our daughter has been telling us something beautiful and profound: that she has everything she needs — including those attributes that society has normally treated as the provenance of mothers — right here in her two-dad family....

"He returned to Stanford when the war ended, graduating in 1947 with a degree in industrial engineering. But after working for just four days..."

"... as an electrical engineer, he quit engineering forever. He was hired as a messenger at 20th Century Fox for $32.50 a week and eventually rose to story reader. But, he wrote in his memoir, 'I knew I was going to be a writer, producer or director of motion pictures, and I needed more background in the arts of the 20th century.' He enrolled at the University of Oxford on the G.I. Bill to study the work of T.S. Eliot and D.H. Lawrence. After six months at Oxford and six months in Paris, he came home and sold a chase-across-the-desert script to Allied Artists for $3,500. He was so unhappy with the finished film, 'Highway Dragnet'... that he decided to become his own producer. With the $3,500, a borrowed one-man submarine and $6,500 raised from a dozen friends, he was almost ready to film 'Monster From the Ocean Floor'..."

From "Roger Corman, 98, Dies; Prolific Master of Low-Budget Cinema/He had hundreds of horror, science fiction and crime films to his credit. He also helped start the careers of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and many others" (NYT)(free access link — read the whole amazing story).

I love monster movies, and the cheaper they are, the better they are.... I wanted to embed this but Blogger won't let me, so here: Frank Zappa — Cheepnis (Original Roxy Footage).

"I travel to see nursing homes to meet people, go to schools, I do my show and tell, this is a horse. You know, a lot of people have never seen a horse."

Said Lee Crafton, quoted in "Montana man, 63, who has no family spends his life traveling back and forth across US on horse-drawn carriage at 3mph and has just started his fifth trip" (Daily Mail).

The baseball turtle.

ADDED: That's a fast turtle. Now, where was it that I saw a fast turtle? Ah! I remember:

Ethan Hawke and his daughter Maya pick out movies together.

And here's the trailer for the movie they made together, about Flannery O'Connor:


"We're all fat," said Trump, last night, in his big — really big — big fat rally in Wildwood, New Jersey.

New Jersey! He came to New Jersey. They capture him in the courtroom 4 days out of the week, and they seem to be hoping he'll barely be able to campaign, but there he was, expanding his scope beyond the battleground states and into one of Biden's supposedly safe states, New Jersey.


Anyway, I watched the whole thing, and I heard the "vulgar jabs." I just wanted to quote this:
You look at the Afghanistan disaster. You look at the border. You look at the real economy, not the fake economy. Everything they touch turns to what?

The thousands cry out "Shit!" He teasingly chides:

You shouldn't use that kind of language. Look, you can't use the word "shit," okay? 

"'Ultimately, no coherent case could be made that apostrophes help with clarity,' said [John] McWhorter..."

"They are merely 'a kind of decoration,' he added. Dr. McWhorter said apostrophes were the 'fish forks' of punctuation. 'They sit there, you’re not quite sure how to use them; you’re almost sure to use them wrong.' Apostrophes crept into written English for arbitrary reasons, Dr. McWhorter said. 'It’s one more way to look down on people who never quite mastered "its" and "it’s" when really we should be thinking about how effectively they get their message across.' Debates about grammar usage elicit strong feelings because language is an important part of identity, said Ellie Rye, an English lecturer at the University of York in England. Still, in the history of the English language, apostrophes are 'quite modern,' she said. They were not used to mark possession until the 16th century...."

From "An English Town Drops Apostrophes From Street Signs. Some Aren’t Happy. The move has prompted some resistance, with someone writing an apostrophe on a sign for St. Mary’s Walk. 'What’s next?' one North Yorkshire resident asked. 'Commas?'"

"Debates about grammar usage elicit strong feelings...." Okay, then, let me express a strong feeling about that phrase "grammar usage." First, apostrophes are punctuation, and punctuation is not grammar. Second, usage is something else too. It is to be distinguished from grammar. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are separate topics. To say "grammar usage" when you're talking about punctuation is an annoying error — an annoying usage error.

"I never used to talk to myself. Now I do it constantly."

"When I asked my middle-aged friends if they did it, too, the confessions flooded in. One said that when she texts people, she says the message out loud when she’s typing, even in public. 'I just looked in my cabinet and said aloud, "Please, god, let there be vanilla extract,"' said another. Do middle-aged people talk to themselves all day, every day? And is this a problem? I consulted some experts."


Unfortunately, the experts — there are experts on what's "called private speech or external self-talk" — hadn't studied the phenomenon of talking to yourself more as you age. So the author didn't get the reassurance she seems to have sought: It's a very common development in middle age.

I see that more than one commenter over there says I talk to myself, but I'm not really talking to myself, I'm talking to my cat/dog. Now, this is one reason I don't want a dog. I'm pretty sure it would cause me to talk to it all the time, and I think that would change my pattern of thoughts into things one says to a dog. 

Actually, I think the practice of speaking aloud would change what I'm thinking. Even if there is no listener to make me ask is this intelligible? is this boring?, putting things into speakable words absorbs my attention. I would imagine a listener. 

But the external self-talk discussed in the article sounds like speaking you would limit to yourself because it would annoy another person: expressing anxiety, encouraging yourself, asking where you put various items, narrating squirrel antics. And it's no wonder such spoken-aloud thoughts make you worry you're slipping into an unwholesome version of old age. You're fussing endlessly over trifles. That's something you can do silently, but when you do it out loud, you get a bit of distance on yourself: you hear that person and you think she's turning into that stereotype of an old person I've always worried I'd become.