March 2, 2024

Sunrise — 6:33, 6:34, 6:36, 6:39.

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"A boy mom would seem to be just that: a mother to a male child. Online, however..."

"... the term has been taken to represent a mother who takes special enjoyment in raising a son... 'You’ll be his first kiss, his first love, his first friend,' goes a popular audio track that many boy moms have used in videos of their child. 'You are his mom, and he is your whole world.'... Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart, a communication studies professor at the University of Iowa who focuses on family dynamics... called the #boymom trend 'toxic,' saying it could lead to family tensions between mothers who call themselves boy moms and their sons’ romantic partners...."

From "Is This Motherly Love or Something ‘Toxic’?/Are you a 'boy mom'? A parental debate heats up" (NYT).

There are any number of screwy things about this, but I'll just point out one that's not in the article. The mother styling herself as a "boy mom" seems to be feeding on the generic idea of maleness. It's too heavily gendered and too much about her idea of herself. Your children are individuals, not gender stereotypes. Let them be free. And why do you want to be a stereotype, especially a stereotype defined by the gender that you are not? 

What hashtags are calling you?

By the way, I don't agree that the word combination "boy mom" suggests "mother to a male child." The more natural meaning, to a native English speaker, is a mom who is a boy. Robin, the "Boy Wonder" is a wonder who is a boy. King Tut, the "Boy King," was a king who was a boy. In that light, I could imagine an especially warm and engaged father calling himself a "boy mom."

"The legal arguments of Mr. Trump and his allies were advanced by a lineup of veteran defense lawyers who seemed quite at ease..."

"... while [Adam Abbate, a prosecutor in District Attorney Fani Willis’s office] had a more halting, and at times fumbling, presentation, relying more on his recitation of precedent and case law. Regardless, Judge McAfee will be more interested in the substance of the legal questions, rather than the delivery style. He said after the arguments that he would rule within two weeks...."

From "Trump Lawyer Argues ‘Appearance of Impropriety’ Is Enough to Disqualify Prosecutor/Lawyers argued about whether the prosecutor Fani Willis has an untenable conflict of interest in the Georgia election case; her side called the disqualification effort 'desperate'" (NYT).

The Trump side argued both that appearance of impropriety is enough, but it also argued that it had proven actual grounds for disqualification — 6 of them.

C-Span video of the arguments: Part 1, Part 2.

"Voters Doubt Biden’s Leadership and Favor Trump, Times/Siena Poll Finds."


That's what greets NYT readers this morning. 

"The big obstacle, for Smith, Biden, and the Democratic Party, is that Smith’s case involves 'novel applications of criminal laws to unprecedented circumstances'..."

"... in the words of a New York Times analysis....The defendant has a right to question the legality of the unprecedented charges against him.... But Smith is in an enormous hurry. He has tried everything he can think of to cut corners and bypass procedures to get to trial quickly. The Supreme Court, even though it agreed to expedite the case, has not given him the quick go-ahead he wanted.... He can’t admit why he is moving so fast. It’s obvious to everyone that he is racing to try Trump before the election. But Justice Department guidelines very clearly say federal prosecutors 'may never select the timing of any action, including investigative steps, criminal charges, or statements, for the purpose of affecting any election.' That is what Smith is doing. He can’t admit his true motivation without admitting that he is violating long-held Justice Department rules against interference in an election. That did not keep some Biden allies from expressing profound disappointment with the Supreme Court move that will delay the 2020 trial. The crew at MSNBC — the network’s big stars, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell — held an on-air therapy session to vent their frustration and dismay....."

Writes Byron York, in "Democrats’ double freakout" (Washington Examiner).

It's so ignorant to openly advocate interfering with an election. Have Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell not heard of the long-held Justice Department rules? It's ironic too, since the Jack Smith case is about Trump's purported interference with the election.

The "double freakout" refers to the response to new developments: 1. Polls showing Trump ahead in every swing state, 2. The Supreme Court granted cert on the immunity question in the Jack Smith case.

"Unlike other presidents, Biden is not an avid reader of books, consumer of pop culture or follower of professional sports."

"Aides and friends say he is likely to hear about sports scores from his wife, an enthusiastic fan of Philadelphia’s teams, rather than by watching a game himself. That makes personal conversation one of his only unofficial sources of information. 'Biden is not a recreational reader,' said Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff. 'He’s a voracious reader of briefings.'"

From "The private chats and chance encounters that shape Joe Biden’s thinking/After conversations with his grandchildren, fellow churchgoers and Delaware neighbors, the president brings their worries to the Oval Office" (WaPo).

ADDED: Imagine how this article would be written if it were a Republican President who didn't read books and confined himself to official briefings.

I know it's a puff piece, but I want to quote the first 2 paragraphs of this WaPo article about Joe Biden.

From "The private chats and chance encounters that shape Joe Biden’s thinking/After conversations with his grandchildren, fellow churchgoers and Delaware neighbors, the president brings their worries to the Oval Office" (WaPo):
In the early months of his presidency, as the pandemic dragged on with its stifling restrictions, President Biden often delivered a favorite monologue to aides: He was worried about young people’s mental health, he said. High school seniors were missing prom and graduation. He wanted to know how college students went on dates.

Specifically, Biden wondered how young people could “make love” under the circumstances, according to two aides who heard the president use that phrase multiple times during his first year in office. Biden’s fixation on loneliness among young people, the aides said, grew out of his near-daily conversations with his grandchildren.
Biden had a "favorite monologue" about teenagers "making love."

March 1, 2024

Sunrise — 6:28, 6:36.

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"He helped transform the Republican Party into a cult, worshiping at the altar of authoritarianism."

"He’s damaged our country in ways that may take a generation to undo. No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. The politician I'm referring to is Mitch McConnell.... He’s been a truly awful public official. McConnell has always put party above America. Remember when he said his most important goal as Senate leader was to make Barack Obama a one-term president? The fact that he hasn’t always kissed Trump’s backside has infuriated the former furor-in-chief. Despite his opposition to Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election — admitting publicly that Trump 'provoked' the attack on the U.S. Capitol — McConnell voted to acquit Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection on January 6, 2021...."

Writes Robert Reich, in "Goodbye, Mitch: You were the worst/But the Republicans might find someone even worse to replace you" (Substack).

I'm not agreeing with this, just calling attention to it for its harsh language and for Reich's drawing of Mitch McConnell, which is quite nice.

And then there's "furor-in-chief." Did he mean Führer-in-chief? "Führer," which means leader, is strongly associated with Hitler. "Furor" refers to an emotional state, not to a person. It means "fury, rage, madness, anger, mania" (OED). Maybe saying Trump was the "furor-in-chief" is like calling Aguirre the "Wrath of God"...

"If Ms. Willis is disqualified from the case, her entire office would be, too, and the case would probably be turned over to a district attorney from another jurisdiction."

"The new prosecutor could choose to continue the case as planned, modify the charges or drop them.... There is already some precedent within the Trump case for disqualification. In July 2022, a judge blocked Ms. Willis from developing a case against Burt Jones, a fake Trump elector in Georgia in 2020, because Ms. Willis had hosted a fund-raiser for one of Mr. Jones’s political rivals. A year and a half after the disqualification, no replacement prosecutor has yet been named to continue investigating Mr. Jones, who is now Georgia’s lieutenant governor. Pete Skandalakis, the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, said in a recent interview that the current situation was different from the one involving Mr. Jones and suggested that it could move more quickly because an indictment has already been handed up...."

The arguments begin at 1 Eastern Time.

ADDED: Watch live:

Richard Lewis on "Candid Camera."

Via Reddit.

What is the word in the 1964 movie "Mary Poppins" that has caused the British Board of Film Classification to change the rating to "Parental Guidance”?

I'm reading "‘Mary Poppins’ gets higher age rating as U.K. reckons with racism in classics" (WaPo).

"The Court does not reach this result lightly. It recognizes the paramount importance of a free press in our society and the critical role that confidential sources play..."

"... in the work of investigative journalists like Herridge. Yet the Court also has its own role to play in upholding the law and safeguarding judicial authority."

Said U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper, quoted in "Journalist Catherine Herridge held in contempt for not revealing source/The veteran correspondent for CBS and Fox News was ordered to pay $800 a day in a case that had triggered alarm for press advocates" (WaPo).

"So much of our culture today, with young people, is centered around their feelings... Feelings are indicators, they’re not facts...."

"Parents teaching their kids about safe spaces, and 'I feel uncomfortable'... It’s, like, You know what? The world is not a safe space. You have to find the comfort. It’s mostly uncomfortable.... I don’t like kids."

Said RuPaul, quoted by Ronan Farrow, in "RuPaul Doesn’t See How That’s Any of Your Business/The drag star brought the form mainstream, and made an empire out of queer expression. Now he fears 'the absolute worst'" (The New Yorker).

Later, RuPaul seemed to want to revise that "I don't like kids" remark. He's quoted as saying that he'd "be a great parent" and that he "fucking love[s]" the "white noise of joy" of kids playing outside in the schoolyard near his cottage.

Farrow tells us RuPaul is "a proponent of psychedelics": 

February 29, 2024

At the Thursday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

One psychology professor "said he knows of several visual artists who literally dream up their next creations by imagining an art gallery..."

"... with those creations behind a closed door before opening it. When they awoke, the artists would reconstruct what they saw."

From "The science of lucid dreams — and how to have them" (WaPo).

I know what it's like to want ideas for paintings and not to be able to think of any, and at first, this lucid dreaming idea seems fantastic. But then I thought I wouldn't like it at all, because my waking self, who would do all the work of brushing the paint on the canvas, would be a slave to the dreamer. The dreamer — admittedly, also me — would have effortlessly seen the finished work, seen it as if somebody else had done it. That would leave me, the real-life, hard-working painter, two steps removed from the deep and meaningful creative work.

Which episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" have the best Richard Lewis scenes?

I watched Season 5, Episode 10 last night — the one where Richard needs Larry's kidney but won't let Larry use his golf club.

I see here, at Consequence, that I can watch 5 great scenes with Richard Lewis, including this ("Congratulations on the intercourse"):

But I'd like a list of whole episodes with a strong Richard Lewis presence.

The Ford experience.

Meade texts from the service waiting room:

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"The car project’s demise was a testament to the way Apple has struggled to develop new products in the years since Steve Jobs’s death in 2011."

"The effort had four different leaders and conducted multiple rounds of layoffs. But it festered and ultimately fizzled in large part because developing the software and algorithms for a car with autonomous driving features proved too difficult.... If it ever came to market, an Apple car was likely to cost at least $100,000 and still generate razor-thin profit compared with smartphones and earbuds. It would also arrive years after Tesla had dominated the market. The company held some discussions with Elon Musk about acquiring Tesla.... But ultimately, it decided that building its own car made more sense...."

From "Behind Apple’s Doomed Car Project: False Starts and Wrong Turns/Internal disagreements over the direction of the Apple car led the effort to sputter for years before it was canceled this week" (NYT).

"You’re sitting in the office, and on the desk there’s the old-style intercom. The operator takes an incoming call, and then it’s like: 'Michael Nash, David Bowie on Line 4.'"

Said Michael Nash, describing something that happened to him in 1992, a year after he became director of Criterion, quoted "Sure, It Won an Oscar. But Is It Criterion?/How the Criterion Collection became the film world’s arbiter of taste" (NYT). Much more at the link.

"Donald J. Trump and President Biden will be at the border on Thursday in a split-screen moment previewing a key issue that will animate their likely rematch for the White House."

Caption under a photo at "The Politics Behind Trump and Biden’s Dueling Border Stops/In separate events along the border in Texas on Thursday, President Biden and Donald Trump will present contrasting goals, and clashing messages" (NYT).

For Mr. Trump, the border is a familiar backdrop and represents almost the background music of his candidacy, as he warns of a nation slipping out of reach and an “invasion” he promises to stop. For Mr. Biden, immigration represents a top vulnerability.... But Biden allies believe the recent decision by Republican congressional leaders — at Mr. Trump’s urging — to abandon a potential bipartisan border deal has provided the party a rare opening.... “If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now,” he said last month. Congressional Republicans have called on Mr. Biden to do so through executive powers.

Why are they there — Trump in Eagle Pass and Biden in Brownsville — on the same day? Obviously, one is deliberately stepping on the other's photo op.
Mr. Trump had announced his trip first and Mr. Biden followed, though the president said on Monday he was unaware his predecessor would be there. “What I didn’t know is my good friend, apparently, is going,” he said.

I considered calling Biden a liar, but:

"Why Did the Supreme Court Wait So Long to Decide to Set the Trump Criminal Immunity Case for Full Hearing and Argument?"

"It Likely Means No Trial for Trump on Election Subversion Before the Election."

Rick Hasen asks and speculates at Election Law Blog.

Hasen quotes the Supreme Court's order:
The Special Counsel’s request to treat the stay application as a petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, and that petition is granted limited to the following question: Whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office. Without expressing a view on the merits, this Court directs the Court of Appeals to continue withholding issuance of the mandate until the sending down of the judgment of this Court. The application for a stay is dismissed as moot.
The new episode of the Advisory Opinions podcast begins with a discussion of the cert grant, and co-host David French observes that the motion for a stay would have required the Court to opine on the likelihood of success on the merits. The Court avoided that by granting cert. 

The request to treat the stay application as a petition for a writ of certiorari came from Special Counsel and reflects the interest in speeding things up. The Court granted that request, but those who want speed wanted the cert grant denied. Now that cert is granted, the speed demons criticize any taking of time. The Court should be neutral and at least has self-interest in appearing neutral. It shouldn't be for or against speed — rushing or dragging its heels.

IN THE COMMENTS: Kevin surprises me with "Rushing or dragging? That cannot be allowed":


"To me, you express your age the way you express it. Look at Bob Dylan..."

"'Rough and Rowdy Ways' felt so bitchy and cool, whereas when he was young he was being such a little poet."

Said Jack Antonoff, quoted in "Jack Antonoff, pop music’s production king, on Taylor Swift, his new album and the genre that’s 'about to blow'" (LA Times).

How about you, in your age? Have you attained bitchy coolness, perhaps not at the Bob Dylan level, but somehow, in your own way, your rough and rowdy way? And think back, when you were young, were you such a little poet? Even Bob Dylan was a little poet, as Antonoff has it. But he was such a little poet — "such" suggesting a large dimension, even as "little" is small. We know what Antonoff means.

The destruction of New York State.

Trump on Truth Social last night:
I did nothing wrong, except build a successful and very liquid company, owning some of the Greatest Properties in the World, and defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Democrats in the 2016 Presidential Election, an Election which a Republican was not expected to win. I am now the Presumptive Republican Nominee, and likewise, dominating Joe Biden, the Democrat Nominee, in the Polls. This is a Weaponized Attack on Joe Biden’s Political Opponent, unlike anything that has happened in the History of the United States. This is a Political Witch Hunt, and will lead to the destruction of New York State, with businesses and people fleeing by the thousands, while criminals continue to roam the streets. We will continue to appeal until Justice prevails!

February 28, 2024

At the Cold Winter’s Night Café…

 … you can write about whatever you want.

Goodbye to Richard Lewis.

The brilliant comedian was 76.

And he was just talking about his will!

"The Supreme Court will review Donald Trump’s unprecedented claim that he is shielded from prosecution for actions taken while in office...."

"The justices set argument for the week of April 22 to consider a unanimous ruling from a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.... Trump’s pretrial proceedings in D.C. will remain on hold until a ruling is issued, putting the Supreme Court in the politically fraught position of influencing the timing of a federal election-obstruction trial for the leading Republican presidential candidate...."

"Trump unites Republicans to a much greater degree than Biden unites Democrats."

"Trump, for example, wins the support of 90 percent of Republican voters, among whom only 5 percent say they will vote for Biden. At the same time, Biden wins just 82 percent of Democratic voters, and 12 percent say they will vote for Trump. It appears that Trump’s lead over Biden is based in large part upon his ability to unite Republicans, and then to attract a fair number of Democrats to his side. Trump, surprisingly, is now the consensus candidate and Biden the divisive one."

I'm reading "Is Trump the new consensus candidate?/On Trump’s widening lead in the polls" by James Piereson (The New Criterion).

Piereson is looking at a new Harvard-Harris poll that has Trump over Biden 48% to 42%. And Trump leads Biden 42% to 39% among independent voters.

A stunning acknowledgment?

I'm reading "Trump Says He Might Have to Sell Properties to Pay $454 Million Penalty/The ex-president, who is appealing the penalty in his civil fraud case, offered a bond of only $100 million to pause the judgment" (NYT):

"Garner" of the day.

I was going to tag this onto the first post of the day — it's the same topic — but I'm savoring the presentation, replete with "garner":
Tens of thousands of Michiganders on Tuesday cast their ballots for “uncommitted,” putting them on track to garner more than 10 percent of the vote statewide. That figure seemed likely to exceed past levels of “uncommitted” votes in Michigan Democratic primaries, though fall short of sparking a political earthquake.

Democrats were divided over how to treat the outcome, noting that Biden continued to dominate the primary in ways similar to, or even exceeding, past incumbents but also wary that significant pockets of discontent in the party could prove fatal in the general election....

Uncommitted didn't just get 10% of the vote. It garnered it. Take that, Joe Biden. The garnerers are hot on your trail. And they are significant. You've got to be wary. Those significant pockets of discontent could prove fatal! You've always got to be on the lookout for fatal pockets.

Speaking of fatal pockets, did you know that a baby sleeping on its stomach with its face against a pillow "may build up fatal pockets of Carbon Dioxide they can't escape"? And beware of the karst landscape.

"'Following my therapist’s advice, I’m taking a day off tomorrow to recharge my energies to continue giving the best in my sessions. Can we reschedule?'"

"So messaged my 26-year-old spin instructor. When I expressed mild frustration to a twentysomething colleague that our class had been cancelled, she seemed surprised. 'Have you been therapised?' she asked. No, I haven’t, but Gen Z increasingly have. They know how to gatekeep their time, creating boundaries and promoting self-care and are triggered when their feelings have been invalidated or they aren’t given time to heal from toxic relationships...."

Writes Alice Thompson, in "Gen Z need life lessons more than therapy/A sense of purpose and decent careers advice would help youngsters stressed out by global uncertainty and war" (London Times).

She's reading "Bad Therapy: Why The Kids Aren’t Growing Up," a new book by Abigail Shrier (commission earned).

Yesterday, I blogged an excerpt from that book, and I also listened to the Bari Weiss podcast interview with Shrier and am in the middle of Joe Rogan's new episode with Shrier. Here's a excerpt of that:


Shrier is on the move this week, not exactly trashing therapy, but trying awfully hard to cut it down to size. What is the right size though? How much of a role is appropriate? It's not just a matter of the quality of the therapists, for Shrier. She favors working out your own problems, the old-fashioned way, and only resorting to therapy for substantial mental illness.

"The easiest way to explain why antisemitism is still with us is to blame religion."

"Scholars agree that what we call antisemitism today has its historical origins in a strain of anti-Jewish thought that grew out of early Christianity.... By failing to become Christians, Jews implicitly challenged the narrative of inevitable Christian triumph.... The problem with blaming religion is that antisemitism today is no longer driven primarily by Christianity..... Nor does antisemitism among Muslims primarily reflect the classical Islamic claims made against the Jews, such as the accusation that the Jews (and Christians) distorted Scripture.... The tropes of modern Europe’s antisemitism—of Jews’ power and avarice—mostly came to the Middle East late, through Nazi influence. Even the prevalence of antisemitism among Islamist groups like Hamas isn’t primarily driven by religion. Rather, it is part of their politically motivated effort to turn a struggle between two national groups for the same piece of land into a holy war. It emerges that far from being an unchanging set of ideas derived from ancient faiths, antisemitism is actually a shape-shifting, protean, creative force. Antisemitism has managed to reinvent itself multiple times throughout history, each time keeping some of the old tropes around, while simultaneously creating new ones adapted to present circumstances...."

Writes lawprof Noah Feldman, in "The New Antisemitism" (Time).

Much more at the link.

"The Bradley testimony was grinding but telling.... Repeating 'I speculated' was an inartful and unconvincing evasion."

"What remains is his text, which was sent before he was under all of this coercive pressure. What is clear is that the county attorneys were clearly wrong in accusing opposing counsel of filing a baseless and unethical motion. There was obviously a good-faith basis to have raised the allegation. The question remains how the judge uses his record on the issue of disqualification. Once again, I fail to understand why these two prosecutors have not removed themselves, particularly Wade. These are hits below the waterline. I do not see how this is helping them, let alone their case or their office."

Tweets Jonathan Turley.

"[Authentic] is a brand ownership firm that buys the intellectual property of celebrities dead and alive — including Elvis, Shaquille O’Neal and David Beckham..."

"... and then collects royalties from their use. Authentic launched a production studio that was involved in 'Elvis' the movie and Beckham’s Netflix docuseries. It bought O’Neal’s brand rights and owns approximately 50 percent of his future lifetime earnings.... The other pillar of Authentic’s business is buying fashion brands such as Brooks Brothers and Quiksilver, sometimes out of bankruptcy, and creating licenses that clothesmakers and retailers can purchase if they want to make or sell that brand. At the [Sports Illustrated] party, Authentic’s 'activations,' as they call them, were on display next to the pool: Nine West shoes and apparel from Reebok, which Authentic bought for $2.5 billion from Adidas. Authentic is doing $30 billion in retail sales worldwide, the company says. Its largest shareholders are private equity firms and O’Neal...."

From "As Sports Illustrated sputters, its owners throw a party for 'the brand'" (WaPo).

Authentic owns Sports Illustrated and has fired nearly the entire staff, but it held a big "Sports Illustrated" party. The CEO, Jamie Salter, had this to say to the 80 remaining staffers:

"This is a resounding victory for our country’s pro-Palestinian, antiwar movement."

Said Abbas Alawieh, a spokesperson for Listen to Michigan, a group that advocated voting for "uncommitted" in Michigan primary.

Quoted in "Michigan Primary: Biden Confronts Protest Votes as He and Trump Win Easily/President Biden faced his most significant challenge in Michigan from those opposed to his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Republican infighting in the state did not involve Donald J. Trump, who coasted to victory" (NYT).

But what percentage of the Democratic vote did "uncommitted" need to seriously wound President Biden? The NYT article downplays the percentage. I'm still looking for it! I am seeing discussion of the number of votes:

February 27, 2024

Sunrise — 6:32, 6:42, 6:46.

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"[A] homegrown campaign to persuade Michiganders to vote 'uncommitted' will measure the resistance [Biden] faces among Arab Americans, young voters, progressives and other Democrats over his stance on the war in Gaza."

"A high number of 'uncommitted' votes would send a warning to his campaign nationally and set off alarms in Michigan, which he won in 2020 but where polls show weakness against former President Donald J. Trump. A low number, by contrast, would give Mr. Biden and his Democratic allies renewed faith that he can weather the tensions and focus on campaign priorities like the economy and abortion rights.... The leaders of the movement insist they do not want to hurt Mr. Biden in the general election, but hope to persuade him that his position on Israel will hurt him politically in time for him to correct himself...."

From "Biden Faces 'Uncommitted' Vote in Michigan’s Primary. Here’s What to Watch. A protest vote against President Biden’s policies on Israel will show the extent of Democratic divisions, while Donald Trump is favored to win again as Nikki Haley presses on" (NYT).

"Terrence Bradley, Nathan Wade’s former law partner and divorce lawyer, is claiming something quite extraordinary in court this afternoon..."

".... that he has no direct knowledge of when Wade’s relationship with Fani T. Willis began. Since he was the primary source for the defense lawyer seeking to remove Willis from the case, the key question going forward will be whether Judge Scott McAfee believes him. But if he doesn’t, that could cut two ways. If Bradley is an unreliable witness, then his prior statements claiming knowledge that the romance began before Willis hired Wade could be seen as just as unreliable as what he is saying in court today. Remember, the burden is on the defense to prove that Willis faced a conflict of interest when she hired Wade because they were already dating. And it’s also their burden to prove that either Willis or Wade lied on the stand two weeks ago."

Sunrise — 6:19.

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Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"Ever since her school adopted social-emotional learning in 2021, Ms. Julie routinely began the day by directing her Salt Lake City fifth graders..."

"... to sit in one of the plastic chairs she’d arranged in a circle. 'How is each of you feeling this morning?' she would ask.... One day, she cut to the chase: 'What is something that is making you really sad right now?'... [O]ne boy began mumbling.... 'All of a sudden, he just started bawling. And he was like, "I think that my dad hates me. And he yells at me all the time"'.... Another girl announced that her parents had divorced and burst into tears. Another said she was worried about the man her mother was dating. Within minutes, half of the kids were sobbing. It was time for the math lesson, but no one wanted to do it. It was just so sad, thinking that the boy’s dad hated him. What if their dads hated them, too?.... A second mom at the school confirmed to me that word spread throughout the school about the AA meeting–style breakdown. Except this AA meeting featured elementary school kids who then ran to tell their friends what everyone else had shared...."

Writes Abigail Shrier, in "How Bad Therapy Hijacked Our Nation’s Schools/Forget the Pledge of Allegiance. Today’s teachers are more likely to start the school day with an ‘emotions check-in.’ Abigail Shrier on the rise of ‘trauma-informed’ education" (The Free Press).

"[T]oo many Americans, too many young adults especially, are either explicitly or implicitly assuming that life is about education, money and especially work...."

"We’ve also seen the falling fortunes of men.... About one in four men in their prime, 25 to 54, are not working.... [T]he rise of expressive individualism since the late ’60s and early ’70s has kind of changed what Americans expect from love and marriage and made them less formalistic in their orientation.... I was talking to a graduate student recently. He had a very clear sense of his plan for schooling and work, and then I said, what’s your plan about marriage and dating? And there was silence.... [P]eople are not being intentional enough about seeking opportunities to meet, date and marry young adults in their world.... And I’ve spoken to a number of working-class women who kind of express concern about their partners or husband’s lack of full-time employment, and his lack of assistance on the home front — just kind of the male malaise, we might call it, is more likely to be expressed in many working class and poor communities...."

Said University of Virginia professor Brad Wilcox, author of "Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization," quoted in "I Said, What’s Your Plan About Marriage and Dating? And There Was Silence" (NYT).

"'There was a long period of time when there was this specific look people were after — white, with inset Shaker cabinets, an island, soapstone or marble countertop...'"


"'... stainless-steel appliances. Everyone wanted it,' says Mary Mendez, director of acquisitions at Renovation Angel, a charity that refurbishes and resells high-end kitchens.... 'We would get traditional kitchens and refinish them, and people could have a kitchen that looked new and save $50,000.' But now, Mendez says, the model is wobbling. The 'in' kitchen is white, minimalist, and German — think Poggenpohl — an impossible design to fashion out of an older, traditional kitchen, Mendez says. In a few years, she expects that they’ll get some second-hand ones in, though by then, tastes will have likely moved on. 'The attention span for style and color is far shorter than it was even two years ago,' she says. (All of this is, of course, terrible for the environment.)"

From "The Immediately Outdated Renovation" (NY Magazine).

It seems to me that once you start thinking in terms of what's "dated," everything is already dated or on the verge of being dated. Any recognizable style must be already out of style in the eyes of those who know better than you. I recommend not even trying, which — let me add, of course — is great for the environment.

In search of support, Joe Biden goes on the Seth Meyers talk show.

Last night:

"I often found myself asking questions like 'Doesn’t all of this talk of "voter suppression": on the left sound similar to charges of "voter fraud" on the right?' only to realize..."

".... how unwelcome such questions were. By asking, I’d revealed that I wasn’t on the same team as my colleagues, that I didn’t accept as an article of faith the liberal premise that voter suppression was a grave threat to liberal democracy while voter fraud was entirely fake news. Or take the Hunter Biden laptop story: Was it truly 'unsubstantiated,' as the paper kept saying? At the time, it had been substantiated, however unusually, by Rudy Giuliani. Many of my colleagues were clearly worried that lending credence to the laptop story could hurt the electoral prospects of Joe Biden and the Democrats. But starting from a place of party politics and assessing how a particular story could affect an election isn’t journalism. Nor is a vague unease with difficult subjects. 'The state of Israel makes me very uncomfortable,' a colleague once told me. This was something I was used to hearing from young progressives on college campuses, but not at work...."

Writes Adam Rubenstein, in "I Was a Heretic at The New York Times/I did what I was hired to do, and I paid for it" (The Atlantic).

Rubenstein was the primary editor of the Tom Cotton op-ed that caused an uproar in 2020. This long article is mostly about that experience, which, he says, "was never about safety, or the facts, or the editing, or even the argument, but control of the paper and who had it."

"He sent the friend a copy of his will on Sunday. In it, he gave his cat to his neighbor and a fridge full of root beers to the friend."

"Twelve minutes later, Bushnell, who was a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, doused himself with a liquid and set himself on fire. He had posted a video online saying he did not want to be 'complicit in genocide.' He shouted 'Free Palestine' as he burned. Secret Service officers extinguished the blaze. Bushnell died seven hours later at a hospital."


Aaron Bushnell was 25.

The "religious compound" was a "charismatic sect" called the Community of Jesus, located on Cape Cod.

February 26, 2024

Sunrise — 6:40, 6:42, 6:43.

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"It is not clear if or how the fight contributed to Nex’s death.... [A]n early autopsy finding Wednesday showed they did not die as a result of trauma...."


"... according to police. Toxicology results and other test results are pending, authorities added.... [In police body camera video,] Nex tells the officer they poured water from their water bottle on the students and that’s when things escalated. They came at Nex and grabbed at their hair, Nex says. Nex was then able to grab one of the girls and threw her into a paper towel dispenser, they say. Nex eventually got thrown onto the ground and the other students proceeded to beat them up, Nex says in the video.... The officer then advises Nex and Sue Benedict that the courts could view throwing liquid on someone as assault and as the action that started the altercation. Police on Friday also released surveillance video that shows a group of students who make their way from the high school cafeteria to a restroom. Nex is seen on the video filling up a bottle at a water fountain outside the restroom, the video shows, then enters the restroom with two other students and eventually, all walk out of the restroom...."


This is the first time I'm blogging about Nex Benedict. If you've been following the news, you know that this version of the story is very different from what was originally reported.

"Precisely how much cash Trump has is not known. He claimed to have '400-plus' million dollars during an April deposition..."

"... in the fraud case. In an August financial disclosure filed with the Office of Government Ethics, he listed hundreds of bank and investment accounts with a total value of between $252 million and $924 million.... Trump has to keep some cash on hand to operate his properties, such as his golf courses and hotels, as maintenance or investment needs require, according to banking experts. Freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars more would almost certainly require Trump to borrow against or sell some of his real estate.... A surety company might accept Trump’s properties as collateral, but that carries its own risks. Experts in issuing bonds may not be equipped to do their own investigations into Trump’s property values, and they may not know what his assets are really worth...."

From "Clock is ticking for Trump to post bonds worth half a billion dollars/Experts say a cash crunch in coming weeks could thrust the former president’s business into greater uncertainty than it has seen in decades" (WaPo).

"they may not know what his assets are really worth" — Ironically, that is what the case itself was about. 

I wonder if Trump's claim that he has "400-plus" million dollars influenced the judge to come up with $355 million penalty (plus interest) as the penalty in the case.

"She talks about everything. Every pimple she has on her face, every rash she gets on her arm. So why hasn’t she mentioned this?"/"She completely altered her body, and she won’t cop to it."

Complaints of followers of a newly thin Instagrammer, quoted in "They Promoted Body Positivity. Then They Lost Weight. Do plus-size influencers owe their followers an explanation when their bodies change?" (NYT).

"What’s your plan for the apocalypse? I’ll tell you what mine is: death."

"I am not really built for battle.... Plus, even if I was hardier – who wants to live a few extra months in a completely destroyed world?"

Writes Arwa Mahdawi, in "The latest billionaire trend? Doomsday bunkers with a flammable moat" (The Guardian).

If you don't want to spend much money/time on apocalypse, death is a simple Plan B. 

But Mark Zuckerberg seems to be spending $270 million — chump change, for him — on a place he's got to fortify somehow. Even if he can get to it, how does he prevent other people from barging in... or his servants from rising up and slaughtering him for dinner?

"We reject the platforms’ attempt to extract a freewheeling censorship right from the Constitution’s free speech guarantee."

The Supreme Court blocked the Texas law in 2022 while the case moved forward by a 5-to-4 vote.... Justice Alito wrote... that he was skeptical of the argument that the social media companies have editorial discretion protected by the First Amendment the way newspapers and other traditional publishers do.

“It is not at all obvious,” he wrote, “how our existing precedents, which predate the age of the internet, should apply to large social media companies.”

ADDED at 9 a.m.: Listen to the oral argument here

"If Donald Trump is at the top of the Republican ticket, the risk of one-party rule by a Democratic Party captured by the progressive left is severe."

Wrote Emily Seidel, the chief executive of the Koch political network (Americans for Prosperity Action).


Trump's response:


ADDED: Trump flaunted his status as a man of the people by deploying the grocer's apostrophe.

February 25, 2024

Sunrise — 6:40.

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"The habitat was constructed as future Mars dwellings will be constructed: by 3-D printer."

"For 'ink,' Martian colonies will use Martian regolith. Because NASA does not possess sufficient quantities of Martian rock, CHAPEA used a proprietary, airtight cement-based material called Lavacrete.... At one end of the rectangular habitat, four identical 6-by-11-foot cells serve as bedrooms. In the middle lies the 'lounge,' a small room with a television and four reclining chairs. The other end is occupied by several desks with computer monitors, a medical station and a crop garden. The vegetables are not intended for subsistence but for mental health: Growing plants... may 'provide psychological benefits for astronauts living in isolated, confined environments away from Earth.' Rooms have different ceiling heights, in order, according to its builder, to 'avoid spatial monotony and crew member fatigue.' A hatch opens to a Martian backyard: a tented sandbox of reddish sand and two treadmills, to be used for 'spacewalks' by virtual-reality-goggled crew members. The walls of the backyard are painted with a mural of Martian cliffs. There are no windows...."

Sunrise — 6:27, 6:31.

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"'Joe may have tamped down his public bedroom declarations winning the presidency, but he has joked to aides that ‘good sex’ is the key to a lasting and happy marriage...'"

"'... much to his wife’s chagrin.'... [I]n 2004 when Biden was considering getting into the race to challenge John Kerry[, d]uring a meeting when aides were begging him to jump in, Jill walked into the room wearing a halter top with the word 'No' scrawled on her stomach. Biden followed that sexy veto.... Some — including Jill — might find the 81-year-old Golden President’s frisky comments about the first lady cringey. But at least he is celebrating sensuality. Conservatives seem determined to stamp it out."

Writes Maureen Dowd, in "Sex and the Capital City" (NYT). She's quoting and drawing on a book by New York Times White House correspondent Katie Rogers, "American Woman: The Transformation of the Modern First Lady, From Hillary Clinton to Jill Biden."

There's doing and there's talking. Do, but you needn't talk about it, and you certainly don't need to get high-profile columnists to celebrate you for "celebrating sensuality"... whatever that is. Does it include that hair-smelling stuff?

"The way I experience love seems to be very different from the so-called neurotypical experience."

"My experience of love seems less emotional. If I had to explain what love feels like to me, I would say symbiotic. So, a relationship that’s beneficial to both people involved. Not transactional, not possessive, not ego-driven. Mutual homeostasis. It’s not that I’m unable to access emotions or empathy. It’s that my experience of those emotions is different...."

Says Patric Gagne, author of the memoir "Sociopath," in the interview "What It’s Like to Be a Sociopath" (NYT)(free access link).

Gavin Newsom is enjoying Nikki Haley and wishes her luck.

Newsom's speech is layered with sincerity and sarcasm that feels really funny and slimy to me (and I like when Jake Tapper jumps in to say that polls suggest Nikki would "clean Biden's clock"):


Language note:

Trump sneakers inspire "Saturday Night Live" to excellence.

February 24, 2024

Listening to ice melt.


Today, in the late afternoon, the ice on Lake Mendota was melting and flowing noisily.

(Write about anything you want in the comments.)

"Kristi Noem and Vivek Ramaswamy Are CPAC’s Choices for Trump’s Running Mate."

 The NYT reports.

Of course, Trump won the straw poll for President. It was 95% to 5%.

I watched most of Trump's speech to CPAC. You can watch here (start at 1:59:00):


UPDATE, 6:48 pm CST: Trump is about to make his victory speech in South Carolina.

"During an evening ostensibly aimed at promoting Kennedy at the expense of both his major-party opponents, [Adam] Carolla..."

".... acknowledged the fact that Biden had been the main target. 'I guess we should throw in a couple of Trump jokes while we’re here,' he said. The media and justice system, Carolla said, are 'turning Trump into a martyr … but not a traditional martyr' — not 'skinny guys in bathrobes' like Gandhi and Jesus. 'You don’t think about fat guys eating KFC on a private jet and banging Eurotrash.'"

From "RFK Jr.’s comedy night: Barbs for Biden, but the joke may be on Trump/The L.A. fundraiser featuring Adam Carolla, Jeremy Piven and others seemed to appeal to Kennedy-curious voters who might otherwise support the Republican" (WaPo).

"If Wendy was of sound mind when she was filming, she would have never allowed for them to tape her like that. She never allowed to be seen without her hair."

From "'SHE DIDN'T KNOW'/Wendy Williams ‘did not realize she was filming a documentary’ in dementia struggle as Lifetime show preps for release/'Wendy would not have allowed herself to be seen sans wig'" (The Sun).

"Scientific papers are like someone’s dating profile on an app."

"They’re picking what pictures to show you and what stories to tell you. You don’t get to see the whole library of photos on their phone. Researchers are only presenting a sliver of what they’ve actually done. And just like a dating app on your phone, everything is inaccurate."

From "We’re Not Curing Cancer Here, Guys/Are leading scientists just making stuff up? Vinay Prasad breaks down the cancer research scandal" (The Free Press).

"Evangelical tradition has built a public identity around being pro-family and pro-children, and many adherents are inclined to see I.V.F. positively..."

"... because it creates more children.... But the Alabama decision 'is a very morally honest opinion,' said Andrew T. Walker, associate professor of Christian ethics and public theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The ruling, he said, shows the direct line of reasoning between belief that life begins at conception, and opposition to abortion and I.V.F. 'It’s going to force conservative Christians to reckon with potentially their own complicity in the in vitro fertilization industry,' he said. The Roman Catholic Church is perhaps the largest institution in the world that opposes I.V.F. Nearly all modern fertility interventions are morally forbidden. The I.V.F. process typically includes many elements that the Catholic Church opposes. There’s masturbation — an 'offense against chastity,' according to the catechism, or teaching — often required to collect sperm. There’s the fertilization of an egg and sperm outside a woman’s body — outside the sacramental 'conjugal act' of sex between a husband and wife. And there is the creation of multiple embryos that are often destroyed or not implanted — an 'abortive practice.'..."

From "What Christian Traditions Say About I.V.F. Treatments/While Catholic teaching expressly forbids in vitro fertilization, Protestants tend to be more open" (NYT).

"Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced plans late Thursday for approval of 3,000 new settlement homes..."

"... after Israeli police said Palestinian gunmen opened fire near the existing Maale Adumim settlement, killing one Israeli and wounding five. The expansion plans, he said, were part of 'deepening our eternal grip on the entire Land of Israel.' 'This is outrageous' after all the U.S. backing the Israeli government has received in the past several months, a former Biden official said. 'For Smotrich to go and do this is just basically an F-you.'"

"I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time, and a lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me..."

"... because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against. I’m being indicted for you, the American people. I’m being indicted for you, the Black population. I am being indicted for a lot of different groups by sick people, these are sick sick people.... Some of the greatest evils in our nation's history have come from corrupt systems that try to target and subjugate others to deny them their freedom and to deny them their rights. I think that's why the Black people are so much on my side now because they see what's happening to me happens to them.... My mug shot — we’ve all seen the mug shot, and you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The Black population. You see Black people walking around with my mug shot, you know, they do shirts and they sell them for $19 apiece. It’s pretty amazing — millions by the way."

Said Donald Trump, yesterday in South Carolina, as he received the "Champion of Black America" award from the Black Conservative Federation. He was quoted in "Trump says 'the Black people' like him because he's been 'discriminated against' in the legal system/In a speech to a group of Black conservatives, he also said Black Americans "embraced" his mug shot more than anyone else" (NBC News).

The tone of voice may affect how you interpret that:

He also called Joe Biden a racist: "Joe Biden really has proven to be a very nasty and vicious racist. He's been a racist. Whether you like it or don't like it. I happen not to like it. Joe Biden really has proven to be a very nasty and vicious racist. He's been a racist. Whether you like it or don't like it. I happen not to like it.... Biden spent years palling around with notorious segregationist you know that." I don't know what that refers to — some Senator who got elected and therefore received the conventional collegiality of the Senate? If that's all it is, the missing name is Strom Thurmond. Other than that "palling around" reference, I'm just seeing the repeated blunt assertion that Joe Biden has been a racist. Adding "nasty and vicious" or "very nasty and vicious" explains nothing.

And here's some edgy racial humor. I think it's a reversal of the old (and stupid) observation that black people are hard to see in the dark: White people are hard to see in the light.... ADDED: At the same event, Trump does a pretty funny imitation of Biden:

February 23, 2024

Sunrise — 6:27, 6:43, 6:46, 6:47.

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"[W]hat often starts as a parent’s effort to jump-start a child’s modeling career, or win favors from clothing brands, can quickly descend..."

"... into a dark underworld dominated by adult men, many of whom openly admit on other platforms to being sexually attracted to children, an investigation by The New York Times found.... Some parents are the driving force behind the sale of photos, exclusive chat sessions and even the girls’ worn leotards and cheer outfits to mostly unknown followers. The most devoted customers spend thousands of dollars nurturing the underage relationships.... 'I really don’t want my child exploited on the internet,' said Kaelyn, a mother in Melbourne, Australia... 'But she’s been doing this so long now.... Her numbers are so big. What do we do? Just stop it and walk away?'"

"I’m glad that Google overplayed their hand with their AI image generation, as it made their insane racist, anti-civilizational programming clear to all."

Tweeted Elon Musk... and I didn't understand that and was about to Google for an answer before noticing the irony, so I decided to blog about it, here on my Google-owned blogging platform.

Let's see: Business Insider has "Elon Musk is accusing Google of running 'insane racist, anti-civilizational programming' with its AI":

"The kind of folks that were Tea Party in 2010 are part of the MAGA movement in 2024. We owe all this to the Tea Party."

Said Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University polisci professor, quoted in "How Did Haley’s South Carolina Become Trump Country? Ask the Tea Party. Veterans of the conservative, grass-roots movement see the state’s presidential primary as a fight between a 'crazy uncle' and a 'snowflake niece.' They’ve made their choice" (NYT).
Mr. Trump... made few gestures toward the libertarian economics championed by the Tea Party.... Instead, he had won attention from Tea Partiers by fanning the flames of conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate and the construction of an Islamic cultural center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan.

Some national Tea Party organizers had labored to keep such preoccupations on the fringes of the movement, but they remained persistent among its rank-and-file supporters and local activists.

“It was an ethnonationalist passion about a changing America,” said Theda Skocpol, a Harvard University professor of government and sociology who has studied the Tea Party movement. “And that is something that Trump ended up picking up on.”...

Kid Rock explains his relationship to Bud Light.

Here's the whole episode. If you want to hear him talk about Trump, start at 1:15:11:

February 22, 2024

Sunrise — 6:47, 6:51, 6:52, 7:09.

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"Shabbat is one of the most radical things you could do. One of the reasons we have a climate crisis right now is a product of disconnection..."

"... the result of undervaluing life, especially nonhuman life. Shabbat is a time of remembering we’re not machines; we get to be human with all other life. That kind of connection is what powers environmental and climate movements."

Says Rabbi Laura Bellows of Dayenu, "an organization mobilizing the United States’ Jewish community to confront the climate crisis," quoted in "Why reviving a 2,600-year-old spiritual practice made my life better" (WaPo).

This essay, by Michael J. Coren, begins with a focus on his own psychological wellbeing, as the essay title suggests, but it quickly devolves into a discussion of climate change, replete with suggestions of compulsory observance of the Sabbath:

"Children at a Brooklyn public elementary school are being taught revolutionary politics and communist terms from a Black Lives Matter coloring book..."

"Last week, teachers at PS 321—the kindergarten through fifth grade school in Park Slope—supplied students with the coloring book, What We Believe, as part of a lesson for Black History Month.Lessons in the coloring book tell children to reflect on Black Lives Matter’s 13 principles. Some of the exercises, parents said, appear innocuous; a page about 'Restorative Justice,' for example, asks students: 'Why is it important to offer to forgive someone?' But another, entitled 'Transgender Affirming,' instructs students to read the book When Aidan Became a Brother about a girl who transitions to a boy, and then answer questions on a worksheet like, 'How do you feel when someone tells you what you can or can’t do based on your gender?'"

"Kids Get Schooled on Radical Politics/Students at a public elementary school in Brooklyn are learning revolutionary theory from a Black Lives Matter coloring book."

I don't see "transgender affirming" ideology in the question "How do you feel when someone tells you what you can or can’t do based on your gender?" The question strongly implies that you can do what you want regardless of gender and that it is ignorant to associate preferences and interests with gender. That undercuts those who think that that they have an inward gender that is different from their physical bodily sex. It seems to me that it is encouraging kids to see themselves and others as individuals with whatever feelings and behavior they happen to have. It seems to be attacking the motivation to take the transgender route. 

Resigning, a UK transgender judge writes, "Rosa Parks’ choice of seat was political because of the colour of her skin. More prosaically, for me..."


"... I am now political every time I choose where to pee. Less prosaically, the judiciary by continuing to let me be a judge is now at risk of being political.”

From "UK’s only trans judge quits over risk of ‘politicising the judiciary'/Victoria McCloud said she had become a target and was forced to be political every time she chose ‘where to pee'" (London Times).
McCloud kept her trans identity out of the public eye for much of her time as a judge until her status was revealed by a national newspaper in 2016....

"Joe Biden’s dog Commander bit Secret Service agents 24 times."

The London Times reports.
[N]ewly released documents... only cover a nine-month period and members of the Secret Service, rather than all presidential staff, the true number of incidents could be much higher than the documents reveal. Previous reports had put the number of biting incidents at 11....

February 21, 2024

Sunrise — 6:30, 6:44.

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"... Harvard interim president Alan M. Garber... said the cartoon depicted a hand labeled with a Star of David with a dollar sign in the middle holding nooses that were tied around the necks of an Arab man and a Black man."

"Screenshots of the cartoon appeared to show that the men were boxer and antiwar activist Muhammad Ali and former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. [The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African American Resistance Organization] have since taken down the image and apologized...."

From "Harvard condemns ‘flagrantly antisemitic’ cartoon posted by student groups" (WaPo).

"What teenagers today are offered... is a hyperactive landscape of so-called aesthetics... including everything from the infamous cottagecore to, these days, prep."

"These are more like cultural atmospheres, performed mainly online, with names and looks and hashtags, an easy visual pablum.... They have much content but little context — a lot to look at but a very thin relationship to any 'real life' anything.... On one end, even a distinctly in-the-world subculture (like, say, grunge) can be reduced to a vibe packet of anodyne references (cigarettes, grimy things); on the other, a mere mood tone can be elevated to something offered as lifestyle (there are girls who enjoy the color red and a certain Euro effortlessness, and they are called Tomato Girls, while others who prefer white are called Vanilla Girls). If two dozen things on a Pinterest page feel as if they go together, chances are someone, even just as a lark or experiment, is calling it an aesthetic.... Kids are not failing by wanting to be cottagecore or meatcore or this new preppy. It’s the culture available to them that is failing.... Kids... need more, deserve more...."

Writes Mireille Silcoff, in "Teen Subcultures Are Fading. Pity the Poor Kids. Gorgeous, abundant visuals are just pale imitations of what young people used to have: an actual scene" (NYT)(free access link).

"The latest U.S. defense of Israel on the global stage came at the International Court of Justice in The Hague..."

"... where Richard C. Visek, the acting legal adviser at the U.S. State Department, urged a 15-judge panel not to call for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory.... On Wednesday, Mr. Visek asked the court to uphold the 'established framework' for peace that he said U.N. bodies have agreed to — one that is contingent on a 'broader end to belligerence' against Israel — rather than heed calls by other nations for Israel’s 'unilateral and unconditional withdrawal' from occupied territories....  On Tuesday, South Africa forcefully condemned Israel’s policies against Palestinians, calling them 'a more extreme form of apartheid' the race-based system of laws that deprived Black South Africans for decades.... The United States has remained Israel’s staunchest defender internationally. But the Biden administration, under increasing pressure from parts of the Democratic Party, has also shown signs of impatience with Israel’s conduct of the war...."

The NYT reports.

"Even before birth, all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory."

Wrote Chief Justice Tom Parker, in a concurring opinion, quoted in "Alabama Rules Frozen Embryos Are Children, Raising Questions About Fertility Care/The ruling raises worrisome legal issues for would-be parents far beyond Alabama whose hopes for children may depend on in vitro fertilization" (NYT).
It has become standard medical protocol during in vitro fertilization to extract as many eggs as possible from a woman, then to fertilize them to create embryos before freezing them. Generally, only one embryo is transferred at a time into the uterus in order to maximize the chances of successful implantation and a full-term pregnancy.

“But what if we can’t freeze them?” [asked the head of a group that represents the interests of infertility patients]. “Will we hold people criminally liable because you can’t freeze a ‘person’? This opens up so many questions.”...

I'm seeing the idea that the economics of the infertility treatment business have been radically transformed (at least in Alabama). 

"Cats and dogs have an outsize carbon footprint, mostly because of their carnivorous diet."

"If the pet food industry, which mainly feeds dogs and cats, were a country, it would rank as the 60th-highest greenhouse gas emitter, equivalent to the Philippines. Rabbits, by contrast, leave a minimal pawprint. They eat small amounts of hay and otherwise discarded vegetables. Their waste can be used as fertilizer in gardens...."

From "Why you should consider bunnies as your next pet/'It’s like having a vegan cat'" (WaPo).

From the comments, from someone who said she had a rabbit as a pet:

February 20, 2024

Sunrise — 6:40, 6:52.

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"All Washington does is divide us and talk about who’s to blame.... That’s not the country I know and love. I believe we need to come together and find common sense solutions to restore America."

Says Eric Hovde, quoted in "Eric Hovde launches Wisconsin Senate bid, handing GOP a boost" (The Hill).

Hovde seeks the Republican nomination for the Senate seat held by Democrat Tammy Baldwin.

Nate Silver poses "A simple challenge to the White House" to prove Biden's fitness as a candidate.

At Substack:
Over the course of the next several weeks, Biden should do four lengthy sitdown interviews with “non-friendly” sources....
For instance, Biden could pick... • A lengthy sitdown interview with the Washington bureaus of the New York Times or Washington Post. • An interview with 60 Minutes.... • An interview with some sort of center-right print or digital outlet... say the Wall Street Journal op-ed page.... • Wild card.... Go on Ezra Klein's podcast? Go on Rogan? Just kidding, I think. But Bernie Sanders did it....
This really isn't too much to ask.

Yeah, of course, it's not too much to ask, but I think we all know in our heart it is too much for him to do. It's hard to picture him even doing 2 of these things. Or one

And the timing is urgent because he and his inner circle have to make sure that he's really up for a second term and that this is the best option for Democrats.

Why is it suddenly "urgent"? It's a chronic problem and Democrats have been plodding slowly into it for over a year. I think at this point, the best path is to silently endure his collection of delegates. After that, Democrats have until the August convention to devise a nomination for the best candidate. Biden can gracefully withdraw at the best time. There's no reason to put him to the test and degrade or humiliate him. Treat him with respect and replace him at the optimal time. May I presume this is in the works? 

"A quiet, introspective bachelor, who wore a signet ring with the Latin word for 'caution,' he hated conflict..."

"... and had the courtly manners of his Iberian ancestry. But his virtuous life only made religious believers even more furious: How could a Godless man be morally irreproachable? Here, then, was a clash which we can still recognize today, between those who believe that moral behavior can only come from religious belief, and those who think it can emanate from reason...."

Writes Ian Buruma, in "The 17th-Century Heretic We Could Really Use Now" (NYT).

Reginald presents a dramatic reading of "Fast Car."

It's TikTok, so I will honor your sensibilities with this page break:

"I guess, as the famous saying goes, Democracy Dies in Discussion."

Says Jon Stewart, on "The Daily Show" last night, responding to critics who accused him of "bothsidesism" for aiming some of his humor at Biden:


The test is whether Stewart can stand up to these critics or whether he will take direction from them. He makes a joke of apologizing to them and offering them a fresh slab of the kind of comedy they demand — he goes after Tucker Carlson. Fine. That was well done. But I don't want Stewart cowed by his critics, and I hope as last night's show proceeded, he made fun of some Democrats too. I can't tell you whether he did or not, because they didn't put the whole show on YouTube as they did last week, and I don't currently have the Paramount streaming service. I was considering subscribing just to get this show. I still am. I want what's going to make Democrats get haughtily indignant and say "bothsidesism."

February 19, 2024

Sunrise — 6:33, 6:37, 6:39, 6:40, 6:45, 6:56.

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"A lot of pro-Palestine stuff in Barcelona."

Chris texts me from Spain, with 4 photographs:

Photo by Chris in Barcelona, Spain

"[Democratic Governor Tony] Evers signed the bill despite pressure from powerful Democrats in the state to veto it."

"When the bill made its way through the legislature, Democratic lawmakers opposed it nearly uniformly, citing concerns... about possible future legal challenges to the legislative maps and general distrust of the Republican legislators who agreed to the law’s passage. 'If you believe that WI Republicans are planning to run on Gov. Evers’ maps in November, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you,' wrote Democratic state senator LaTonya Johnson on the social media site X. But it’s not clear exactly what those legal challenges would look like. 'I am extremely skeptical of this idea that there is a good basis for challenging the law, really on any grounds,' said Quinn Yeargain, a legal scholar who focuses on state constitutional law. 'I’m as much of a partisan Democrat and progressive as anybody else is, but being intellectually honest about what’s going on here is also important.'... The maps were heralded by anti-gerrymandering activists in Wisconsin as a win...."

From "Wisconsin adopts new legislative maps, giving Democrats chance to win state/Governor’s signature marks end of long fight over legislative lines and greatly reduces the Republican bias baked into current maps" (The Guardian).

How to be 14th best.

"Biden’s most important achievements may be that he rescued the presidency from Trump, resumed a more traditional style of presidential leadership and is gearing up to keep the office out of his predecessor’s hands this fall."

Wrote Justin Vaughn and Brandon Rottinghaus, who are responsible for the survey reported at "Poll Ranks Biden as 14th-Best President, With Trump Last/President Biden may owe his place in the top third to his predecessor: Mr. Biden’s signature accomplishment, according to the historians, was evicting Donald J. Trump from the Oval Office" (NYT).

"I think that this is really an extraordinary, unusual circumstance that the law-abiding and rule-following New Yorkers who are business people have nothing to worry about, because they’re very different than Donald Trump and his behavior."

Said Governor Kathy Hochul, quoted in "Hochul tells NY businesses not to fear about Trump verdict: 'Nothing to worry about'" (The Hill).

What is the "extraordinary, unusual circumstance"? 

Being Donald Trump? If so, she's revealing that she believes the prosecutors went after the man, not the crime, an abhorrent abuse of power.

So, whatever she thinks, she can't mean to be saying that. What else is there?

There's the classic unbelievable assurance that if you don't break the law, you've got nothing to worry about. If you're "law-abiding and rule-following," then you're not in the category with Donald Trump.  Trump did something "extraordinary" and "unusual." Or did the prosecution do something "extraordinary" and "unusual"?

It's not reassuring.

ADDED: This post got me reading the Wikipedia article "Give me the man and I will give you the case against him":

"Game on, Don."

"Mr. Navalny was able to send hundreds of handwritten letters, thanks to the curious digitalization of the Russian prison system..."

"... a relic of a brief burst of liberal reform in the middle of Mr. Putin’s 24-year rule. Through a website, people could write to him for 40 cents a page and receive scans of his responses.... In a letter... Mr. Navalny explained that he preferred to be reading 10 books simultaneously and 'switch between them.'... Describing prison life... he recommended nine books on the subject, including a 1,012-page, three-volume set by the Soviet dissident Anatoly Marchenko. Mr. Navalny added in that letter that he had reread 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich'.... the searing Alexander Solzhenitsyn novel about Stalin’s gulag.... 'Everyone usually thinks that I really need pathetic and heartbreaking words,' he wrote... 'But I really miss the daily grind — news about life, food, salaries, gossip'.... 'I really like your letters,' Mr. Navalny wrote in the last message that [his friend, the Russian photographer Evgeny Feldman, received. 'They’ve got everything I like to discuss: food, politics, elections, scandalous topics and ethnicity issues.'"


Why is Matthew Perry in the headline? We're told that Navalny had never watched "Friends" — a show with plenty of food, gossip, and scandalous topics — but he'd read the actor's obituary in The Economist, "Matthew Perry changed the way America spoke" ("[I]n the audition it was he who had nailed it, reading the words in that unexpected way, 'hitting emphases that no one else had hit'; making everyone laugh. It was less that he, Matthew Perry, could play Chandler than that he was Chandler. He changed the part—and then the part changed him").

The NYT piece tells us that that Navalny's prison library had the classics — Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky or Chekhov — and “Who could’ve told me that Chekhov is the most depressing Russian writer?”

There's also some material here about Trump, but it's a little hard to understand. Perhaps it was enigmatic in the original. There's "Mr. Navalny confided that the electoral agenda of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump looked 'really scary.'" Not the man, the "electoral agenda"? And then he went on to say "Please name one current politician you admire."

February 18, 2024