June 25, 2024

"I know the excruciating pressure of walking onto that stage and that it is nearly impossible to focus on substance when Mr. Trump is involved...."

"It is a waste of time to try to refute Mr. Trump’s arguments like in a normal debate. It’s nearly impossible... to identify what his arguments even are. He starts with nonsense and then digresses into blather. This has gotten only worse in the years since we debated.... Mr. Trump may rant and rave in part because he wants to avoid giving straight answers about his unpopular positions.... He interrupts and bullies... because he wants to appear dominant and throw his opponent off balance.... In 90-minute mock debates on an identical stage, I practiced keeping my cool in the face of hard questions and outright lies about my record and character.... Unfortunately, Mr. Biden starts from a disadvantage because there’s no way he can spend as much time preparing as I did eight years ago.... Mr. Biden is one of the most empathetic leaders we’ve ever had. Listen to how sincerely he talks.... Mr. Trump can’t do that because he cares only about himself.... ... Mr. Biden is a wise and decent man...."

Writes Hillary Clinton, in "Opinion | Hillary Clinton: I’ve Debated Trump and Biden. Here’s What I’m Watching For" (NYT).

It's actually not hard to understand Trump. He does switch in different topics, and that could throw his opponent off balance, but it's not hard for the home audience to follow. His rally crowds get him, easily. If you hate him, it may indeed be "nearly impossible to focus on substance," and then you won't understand him. That's a plus for him as a debater. He gets to communicate fluently with the voters, at least the ones who aren't dead-set against him, and flummox his opponent, who, apparently, is supposed to dump endless time into practicing not losing his cool. Meanwhile, is Trump even practicing at all? I don't think he is. He may be brushing up on the facts and the policies, but his debate style is instinctive, and his opponents don't even know if he's going to do the acting-presidential routine or unleash some chaotic force-of-nature attack.

"No music, no streaming, no snacking, no sleep."

"'Raw-dogging' has become the buzziest travel trend of the summer, seeing stealth plane passengers forgo the modern comforts of flying to stare at either the in-flight map or nothing at all during lengthy trips."


This gets my "meditation" tag.

Fungus of the Day.

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Ben Shapiro is disgusted by what may or may not be humor.

 "I don't know whether that's parody or whether that's real," says Ben after watching a TikTok. "Either way, it's the end of our civilization, because some of what this person is saying is absolutely true. Do you think that Gen Z is qualified to defend the country in any serious way — mentally, physically, emotionally? I don't either."

Here's Ben, watching the TikTok:

"Among causes of deaths, birth defects showed a 23% increase, compared to a decrease of about 3% in the rest of the U.S."

"The Texas law blocks abortions after the detection of cardiac activity, usually five or six weeks into pregnancy, well before tests are done to detect fetal abnormalities."

From "Infant mortality rate rose 8% in wake of Texas abortion ban, study shows" (AP).

When I first saw that headline, I thought people who didn't want their babies were murdering them, but it seems to be about babies with "defects" that are called "birth defects" when the babies — who might have been aborted for "fetal abnormalities" — are born.

The article quotes Suzanne Bell, a fertility researcher: "I think these findings make clear the potentially devastating consequences that abortion bans can have." It's not clear to me what the "devastating consequences" are. Isn't it devastating to lose a baby that you want, whether it is lost before birth or shortly after? Bell must mean that it is devastating to be forced to continue with pregnancy and childbirth when you know your child is doomed, even though that is what some women do.

"We tell the Ukrainians, 'You've got to come to the table, and if you don't come to the table, support from the United States will dry up.'"

"And you tell Putin, 'He's got to come to the table and if you don't come to the table, then we'll give Ukrainians everything they need to kill you in the field.'"

Said retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, one of Trump's national security advisers, quoted in "Exclusive: Trump handed plan to halt US military aid to Kyiv unless it talks peace with Moscow" (Reuters)("The core elements of the plan were outlined in a publicly available research paper published by the America First Policy Institute, a Trump-friendly think tank....").

"Regardless of the views that people have about Julian Assange and his activities, the case has dragged on for too long..."

"... there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration and we want him brought home to Australia."

Said Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, quoted in "Julian Assange leaves UK after striking deal with US justice department/It is anticipated the WikiLeaks founder will plead guilty to violating US espionage law at a hearing in Saipan and will be allowed to return to Australia" (The Guardian).
Under the deal, which must be approved by a judge, Assange is likely to be credited for the five years he has already served and face no new jail time....

"Passing AI images off as real ones for the sake of commercial or political gain should be prosecuted as fraud."

"The severity of the penalties should match the level of risk that disseminating these images poses to our society; i.e., they should be extreme."

That is the top-rated comment — by a lot — at "A.I. Is Getting Better Fast. Can You Tell What’s Real Now?" (NYT)(free access link)(take the test/I got 7 out of 10).

How terribly punitive and repressive, and yet, isn't it what you've come to expect from the segment of America that reads the New York Times?

Notice the aggression mixed with passivity. The comment-writer doesn't want to face the challenge of becoming more perceptive and skeptical dealing with the onslaught of A.I. images. They want the government to do the dirty work and do it good and hard.

The comment gets a response from someone who at least says the words "First Amendment": "the first amendment protects even speech that is a lie. If these images should be prosecuted as fraud, so should Donald Trump's outright lies." There's already selective prosecution of Donald Trump — and civil suits costing him hundreds of millions — and this commenter wants even more of it. And I suspect that the first commenter envisioned their political enemies getting the worst of those "extreme" penalties that "match the level of risk."

June 24, 2024

Sunrise — 5:13, 5:21.

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"Cycling when it's raining and cold doesn't always make you want to cycle, so I said to myself why not put a roof on the bike and, as we thought about it, we arrived at this concept."

Says the inventor of the Karbike, quoted in "Meet the Karbike: not just an e-bike, but not quite a car/And the French see a role for it in the mobility landscape" (autoblog). 

Does this belong in the bike lane? It's what you want in the bike lane if you're driving a car and in the car lane if you're riding a bike.


I like the video because the music is so inappropriate.

The panic shows.

"CNN abruptly takes Trump campaign spokeswoman off the air mid-interview as network is set to host first presidential debate" (NY Post)(video at link).
CNN abruptly cut Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt from the air Monday morning.... Anchor Kasie Hunt pulled the plug just minutes after the interview got underway after asking Leavitt what former President Donald Trump’s strategy was for when he takes to the stage in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday.... 
The spokeswoman... noted the debate stage would likely be a “hostile environment” for her boss – and accused CNN’s debate moderators, co-hosts Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, of biased coverage of him in the past....
In overreacting to the mention of CNN bias, CNN's Hunt showed bias. Now, we're all looking at this clip, and I doubt if much of anyone was watching whatever little CNN show that was. I had to look it up: "CNN This Morning with Kasie Hunt." But maybe that helps CNN. I believe the show has about 50,000 viewers, and there are sure to be Trump haters who love this plug-pull.

"Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Tennessee Law Banning Transition Care for Minors."

The NYT reports.

The Biden administration had asked the justices to take up the case, United States v. Skrmetti, arguing that the measure outlaws treatment for gender dysphoria in youths and “frames that prohibition in explicitly sex-based terms.”

In the government’s petition to the court, Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar wrote that the law bans transgender medical care but that it “leaves the same treatments entirely unrestricted if they are prescribed for any other purpose.”...

"As I applied the nightly serum, I remembered the description, by philosopher Clare Chambers in her book, Intact: A Defence of the Unmodified Body, of 'shametenance'..."

"... all the things we do (like applying 'natural makeup') that contribute to the idea that our unmodified bodies are shameful, that even our ageing eyelids must be fixed.... And then one night I had a terrible dream that my eyelashes had grown too long. They were like a dark black fringe, blinding me, and I woke in a sweat. Shortly after this, I started to read about experts warning of potential side-effects linked to eyelash growth serums, including 'a permanent change in eye colour,' dark circles under the eyes and 'a sunken effect.' At this point my lashes had grown longer, definitely longer, but also spidery and fine...."

From "All of a flutter: how eyelashes became beauty’s biggest business/The eyelash business is worth $1.66bn – and is predicted to grow from there. Why are we so obsessed with our lashes? Eva Wiseman reports on their history and significance" (The Guardian).

That article continues with various other eyelash treatments, so I go looking for more on Clare Chambers and "shametenance." I find this from last year: "A Defense of the Unmodified Body: Clare Chambers Interview/We spoke to the acclaimed Cambridge philosopher Clare Chambers about her new book, Intact, which examines and critiques the urge to alter or ‘perfect’ our bodies." Excerpt:

"Fat Beach Day... is being held to coincide with Pride month at Jacob Riis Beach in New York, a location deeply ensconced in the city’s activism space..."

I'm reading "New York’s Fat Beach Day gives plus-size people a space to be themselves/Jacob Riis Beach hosts the day of body positivity and fun, in the city at the heart of the fat acceptance movement" (The Guardian).

I didn't know that fat acceptance was part of what Pride month is about or that New York had something it wanted to call its "activism space." 
... New York has, for decades, been at the heart of the fat acceptance movement. In the 1960s, about 500 protesters held a “fat-in” in Central Park, burning diet books and photographs of the supermodel Twiggy, to publicly encourage body positivity and liberation.... 
Jacob Riis Beach is named after Jacob Riis, the "Danish-American social reformer, 'muckraking' journalist, and social documentary photographer" (Wikipedia). There is some criticism of Riis, you know. This doesn't have to do with fatness. The people in Riis's photographs were skinny — poor people living in tenements.

"I go up a canyon, down a canyon to the next waterfall and sit down by the waterfall and drink water out of my boot."

Said Lukas McClish, 34, quoted in "Calif. hiker missing in Santa Cruz mountains for 10 days drank a gallon of water out of boot daily to survive" (NY Post).

We're told he "didn’t even put on a shirt when he began his hike on June 11 that was supposed to last only three hours before he quickly couldn’t find his way and was reported missing six days later when he didn’t show up for a Father’s Day dinner."

Does this story make sense? Why a gallon of water? Why was he trekking up and down canyons? 

Fungus of the Day.

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I think this is Trametes versicolor, AKA turkey tail.