Video: NASA successfully smashes spacecraft into asteroid 7 million miles from Earth!


Dear Commons Community,

In an historic trial run yesterday, that could lay the groundwork for saving life on Earth, NASA successfully crashed a spacecraft into a small asteroid to alter its orbit.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, or DART, collided with Dimorphos, a small asteroid measuring 525 feet in diameter that is located roughly 7 million miles from Earth, at 7:14 p.m. ET on Monday. Impact was confirmed when the video signal that had recorded Dimorphos as DART drew near dramatically cut off (see video above).  As reported by USA Today and Yahoo News. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called the mission “a successful completion of the first part of the world’s first planetary defense test.”

“I believe it’s going to teach us how, one day, to protect our own planet from an incoming asteroid,” Nelson said in a video statement following impact.

The DART craft launched on Nov. 24, 2021, and the mission had an estimated cost of $324.5 million. DART was traveling at 14,000 miles per hour at the time of impact, with the last 4 miles of its journey lasting just one second, NASA said.

Neither Dimorphos nor Didymos, the larger asteroid that it orbits, posed a threat to Earth, either before the impact from DART or afterward. The asteroid was chosen by NASA so as to test the accuracy of rocket guidance systems that might be used in case larger asteroids threaten Earth in the future.

The crash, which NASA broadcast live, is believed to have altered Dimorphos’s trajectory. Exactly how much remains to be determined and will depend on whether Dimorphos is found through further investigation to be solid or a gravitationally held-together clump of rocks.

Nancy Chabot, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and project scientist for the DART mission, explained on NASA’s live broadcast how scientists would determine the extent of how the test had changed the trajectory of the asteroid.

“This is a double asteroid system. All we’ve done here actually is change slightly how Dimorphos goes around Didymos, right? The telescopes on the Earth have studied this for years, so we knew that it [the time it takes Dimorphos to orbit Didymos] used to be 11 hours and 55 minutes, so what is it going to be now? The telescopes are going to measure that period change.”

An illustration of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft prior to impact at the Didymos binary asteroid system. (NASA/Johns Hopkins/handout via Reuters)

The footage of the head-on collision was captured by a camera embedded on DART, but the impact will also be studied by telescopes on Earth and on satellites.

A computer aboard DART was programmed to self-navigate the spacecraft, which traveled at approximately 3.7 miles per second. As DART neared Dimorphos, the guidance system fired off steering bursts that kept its target on track as it grew steadily bigger in the center of the camera viewfinder.

Though DART was about the size of a golf cart, and the asteroid is as wide as the Washington Monument is tall, its speed should be sufficient to successfully alter the orbit of Dimorphos, NASA said.

Impressive!  Let’s hope we never have to use a DART!



Trump’s Embrace of QAnon Is Heartless and Cruel!

Dear Commons Community,

Michelle Goldberg has a piece in today’s New York Times commenting that Donald Trump’s embrace of QAnon is both heartless and cruel to its followers.  She opens up by documenting several acts of violence and murder on the part of QAnon members, much of it directed to family members and innocents.   All of the men who perpetrated these acts appear to have been mentally ill, but QAnon played a role in shaping and reinforcing their delusions. She quotes Mike Rothschild, author of The Storm Is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything as saying that what Trump is doing on Truth Social is a massive escalation of his involvement and support of QAnon positions. Here is an excerpt.  

“On Friday, an Iowa man named Doug Jensen became the latest QAnon follower to be convicted in connection to his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.  [Jensen urged a crowd of rioters in chasing a U.S. Capitol police officer up a staircase and accosting other officers guarding the Senate, in what was one of the most harrowing scenes of the mob’s attack that day.]

Which is why Trump’s embrace of the movement is not just dangerous, but cruel.

Trump has long played footsie with QAnon, whose adherents prophesy an apotheosis, or “storm,” in which Trump is returned to power and his enemies rounded up and executed. “I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” Trump said in 2020. When he was still on Twitter, he regularly retweeted QAnon followers.

But in recent weeks, as Trump’s legal troubles have mounted, his endorsement of QAnon has become more forthright. On Sept. 12, he reposted an image of himself wearing a Q lapel pin and the words “The Storm Is Coming” on his social media platform, Truth Social. An Associated Press analysis, published on Sept. 16, found that of nearly 75 accounts Trump has reposted on Truth Social in the past month, more than a third have promoted QAnon.

“What he’s doing on Truth Social is a massive escalation,” said Mike Rothschild, author of “The Storm Is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything.”

At a rally on Sept. 17, Trump spoke over mournful music that was, as The New York Times reported, “all but identical” to a QAnon theme song; many in the audience raised a pointed finger in the air, a QAnon salute. On Friday, the former president reposted a video full of QAnon memes on Truth Social. (Some around Trump may believe it’s unhelpful for him to openly court an apocalyptic cult; at a rally on Friday, staff reportedly made people giving the QAnon salute lower their arms.)

Many have speculated about why Trump is moving closer to QAnon. My own guess is that he’s deepening his connection with his most fanatical fans to more easily whip up a vigilante mob if he’s indicted on any of the many charges he appears to be facing. What’s clear, though, is how little he thinks of those fans, whom he is blithely encouraging down a ruinous path.

“We tend to see the danger that these movements represent, but we don’t talk about the people who are in them,” Rothschild told me. It’s easy to write off QAnon followers, he said, many of whom have reprehensible beliefs. But “this movement, and this philosophy, it finds an audience because it tells people things that they want to hear, and it creates a world for them that is much safer and makes a lot more sense than the world that we’re in now.”

It is deeply comforting for people to feel that they’re part of an epochal battle between good and evil in which good is destined to triumph. The world of QAnon, said Rothschild, “becomes the only meaningful thing to them.”

Trump is making it much harder for people to leave that world, because the man they admire most is endorsing all their wild, violently millenarian fantasies. “It blows away the doubt,” said Rothschild. Much was made in 2016 of Hillary Clinton calling Trump supporters “deplorables.” But few have demonstrated as much contempt for the people who love Trump as Trump has himself.

Trump is a menace to our society and should be completely repudiated by his enablers in the Republican Party.


Giorgia Meloni looks set to become Italy’s first woman prime minister as the head of a right-wing government!

Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni closing in as next prime minister of Italy

Giorgia Meloni

Dear Commons Community,

Giorgia Meloni looks set to become Italy’s first woman prime minister as the head of the most right-wing government since World War II after leading a conservative alliance to triumph in  yesterday’s election.

Near final results showed the rightist bloc should have a solid majority in both houses of parliament, potentially giving Italy a rare chance of political stability after years of upheaval and fragile coalitions.  As reported by Reuters.

“Giorgia Meloni has won”, Italy’s biggest-circulation daily, Corriere della Sera, splashed on its frontpage, while the right-leaning Il Tempo ran with “It’s Giorgia’s turn”.

Meloni and her allies face a daunting list of challenges, including soaring energy prices, war in Ukraine and renewed slowdown in the euro zone’s third largest economy.

“We must remember that we are not at the end point, we are at the starting point. It is from tomorrow that we must prove our worth,” the 45-year-old Meloni told cheering supporters of her nationalist Brothers of Italy party early Monday morning.

Meloni plays down her party’s post-fascist roots and portrays it as a mainstream group like Britain’s Conservatives. She has pledged to back Western policy on Ukraine and not take risks with Italy’s fragile finances.

European capitals and financial markets will carefully scrutinize her early moves, given her eurosceptic past and her allies’ ambivalent position on Russia.

In her victory speech, Meloni struck a conciliatory tone.

“If we are called on to govern this nation we will do it for all the Italians, with the aim of uniting the people and focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us,” she said. “This is a time for being responsible.”

With results counted in more than 90% of polling stations, the Brothers of Italy led with more than 26%, up from just 4% in the last national election in 2018, as voters opted for a largely untried figure to sort out the nation’s many problems.

By contrast, her main ally suffered a disastrous night, with Matteo Salvini’s League picking up around 9% of the vote, down from more than 17% four years ago, and being overtaken by Meloni in all its traditional fiefdoms in the north.

The other major conservative party, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, scored around 8%.

Although Meloni’s alliance is forecast to hold comfortable majorities in the upper and lower houses, its members have divergent positions on several issues which might be difficult to reconcile.

Salvini, for example, questions the West’s sanctions against Russia and both he and Berlusconi have often expressed their admiration of its leader Vladimir Putin.

They also have differing views on how to deal with surging energy bills and have laid out a raft of promises, including tax cuts and pension reform, that Italy will struggle to afford.

Sarah Carlson, senior vice president of Moody’s credit ratings agency, said the next Italian government will have to manage a debt burden “that is vulnerable to negative growth, funding cost, and inflation developments”.

Meloni will take over from Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, who pushed Rome to the center of EU policy-making during his 18-month stint in office, forging close ties with Paris and Berlin.

In Europe, the first to hail her victory were hard-right opposition parties in Spain and France, and Poland and Hungary’s national conservative governments which both have strained relations with Brussels.

Despite its clearcut result, the vote was not a ringing endorsement for the conservative alliance. Turnout was just 64% against 73% four years ago — a record low in a country that has historically had strong voter participation.

The right took full advantage of Italy’s electoral law, which benefits parties that forge pre-ballot alliances. Center-left and centrist parties failed to hook up and even though they won more votes than the conservatives, they ended up with far fewer seats.

The center-left Democratic Party (PD) took some 19%, while the left-leaning, unaligned 5-Star Movement scored around 15%, a result above expectations. The centrist “Action” group was on just over 7%.

“This is a sad evening for the country,” said Debora Serracchiani, a senior PD lawmaker. “(The right) has the majority in parliament, but not in the country.”

Cosi sia!


Liz Cheney says she would campaign for Democrats!

Liz Cheney is just getting started

Liz Cheney

Dear Commons Community,

Republican Representative Liz Cheney said Saturday that she would be willing to campaign for Democrats as she criticized her party’s acceptance of candidates who deny the results of the 2020 election.

“Yes,” Cheney, of Wyoming, said simply when asked whether she’d be willing to stump for Democrats — the first time she has said so explicitly.  As reported by NBC News.

Cheney made the remark in a discussion at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin while talking about Arizona gubernatorial candidate and election denier Kari Lake.

Cheney, who has been a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump, said “partisanship has to have a limit” and mentioned Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has said he will campaign for Lake.

“He’s demonstrated that he’s somebody who has not bought into the toxin of Donald Trump — but he campaigned recently for Kari Lake, who’s an election denier, who is dangerous,” Cheney said.

“That’s the kind of thing we cannot see in our party. We cannot see an accommodation like that, and I think it’s very important that we be clear about that,” Cheney said.

Asked specifically whether she would campaign for Katie Hobbs — Lake’s Democratic opponent — Cheney said, “I am going to do everything I can to make sure that Kari Lake is not elected.”

Cheney is on her way out of Congress after she lost the Republican primary to a Trump-backed challenger in August.

Youngkin defended campaigning for Lake at the Texas Tribune Festival on Friday. “I am comfortable supporting Republican candidates,” he said. “And we don’t agree on everything. I have said that I firmly believe that Joe Biden was elected president.”

Cheney declined Saturday to offer many details about her own plans, including whether she will run for president.

She also did not disclose much about plans of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, of which she is one of two Republican members.

The House committee is set to return Wednesday for its latest hearing.

Cheney did say that she does not think the committee’s hearings will conclude this week.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said last week that unless something else develops it will be the last, “but it’s not in stone, because things happen.”

“We don’t anticipate that it will be the last hearing,” Cheney said.

Cheney is putting principle above politics.  We need more like her in government!


Hemingway Lovers: A Trove of Material and Artifacts Left in Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West 80 Years Ago!

After Hemingway’s death, his fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway (left), went through the material he had left at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Fla., packed up what she wanted, and gave the rest to longtime friends, Betty and Toby Bruce.

Credit…The Toby and Betty Bruce collection of Ernest Hemingway in the Penn State Special Collections Library

Dear Commons Community,

A trove of items left in a Key West bar by Ernest Hemingway, are now part of a new archive at Penn State.  It includes four unpublished short stories, drafts of manuscripts and boxes of personal effects.

Below is an article by Robert Elder describing some of the material found.



The New York Times

What Hemingway Left in Sloppy Joe’s Bar 80 Years Ago!

By Robert K. Elder

(Robert K. Elder is the author or editor of four books about Hemingway including the forthcoming “Mythbusting Hemingway” with Thomas Bevilacqua).

Sept. 21, 2022

In an untitled, three-page short story, Ernest Hemingway casts F. Scott Fitzgerald as a scrappy boxer who leaves the ring battered and disfigured but ultimately victorious.

He sketches out a novel he’ll never write, “A New Slain Knight,” calling it a “picaresque novel for America” that will follow his protagonist through a prison escape, a bank robbery and noirish double-crosses.

Wearing his American Red Cross uniform and smiling at the camera, an 18-year-old Hemingway huddles in a trench with Italian soldiers during World War I, just days before he was wounded by a mortar shell and machine-gun fire, an experience that inspired him to write “A Farewell to Arms.”

And in a notebook entry from 1926, there is a three-page meditation on death and suicide — 35 years before he took his own life.

The items, part of the most significant cache of Hemingway materials uncovered in 60 years, are in a new archive recently opened to scholars and the public at Penn State University. Called the Toby and Betty Bruce Collection of Ernest Hemingway, the material includes four unpublished short stories, drafts of manuscripts, hundreds of photographs, bundles of correspondence and boxes of personal effects that experts say are bound to reshape public and scholarly perception of an artist whose life and work defined an era.

Carl Eby, the president of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and Society, said he was “truly floored” by the bounty of material from an artist best known for the taut, understated writing of works like “The Sun Also Rises” and “The Old Man and the Sea,” dispatches from World War II and the Spanish Civil War and his larger-than-life persona as a hard-drinking, hard-working outdoorsman.

“Hemingway reinvented modern American prose and the short story. His best work is deeply moving and rich in meaning and psychological complexity,” Eby, who is a professor of English at Appalachian State University, said. “He seemed to live on an epic scale, in fascinating times, in fascinating places, and because he was mythologized during his own lifetime, his public image to this day — for better or worse — retains all the allure and power of the mythic. There’s enough new material here to generate new biographical and interpretive insights for years to come.”

For years, most Hemingway scholars could only salivate about the Bruce collection, uncertain of its exact contents or even location. What they did know was that in 1939, after his second marriage crumbled, Hemingway, a notorious pack rat, left his belongings in the storeroom of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, his favorite watering hole in Key West, Fla. He never returned to collect them.

After Hemingway’s death, his fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, went through the material, packed up what she wanted, and gave the rest to longtime friends, Betty and Telly Otto Bruce, known to his friends as Toby. Toby Bruce was part of Hemingway’s inner circle for years, not only as his right-hand man, but also as his contractor, mechanic and sometime chauffeur.

The trove of materials spent decades uncataloged in cardboard boxes and ammo storage containers, surviving hurricanes and floods. Years ago, Betty and Toby’s son, Benjamin Bruce (known as Dink) and a local historian, Brewster Chamberlin, began creating an inventory of the haul in consultation with the Hemingway scholar Sandra Spanier. It was here, amid bullfighting tickets, checks, newspaper clippings and letters from his lawyer, family members and friends like the writer John Dos Passos and artists Joan Miró and Waldo Peirce, that they discovered a stained brown notebook. Inside was Hemingway’s first known short story, about a fictional trip to Ireland, written when he was 10 years old.

After Hemingway’s death, his fourth wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway (left), went through the material he had left at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Fla., packed up what she wanted, and gave the rest to longtime friends, Betty and Toby Bruce.Credit…The Toby and Betty Bruce collection of Ernest Hemingway in the Penn State Special Collections Library

When that find was revealed in 2017, Dink Bruce told The New York Times that he hoped his family’s collection would find a permanent archival home. Spanier, the general editor of the Hemingway Letters Project and an English professor at Penn State, thought so too. For the next five years, she worked to bring the archive to the university, which purchased it in October 2021 for an undisclosed sum.

“I did have a sense of responsibility to make this happen, both as someone who had incredible affection and respect for Dink and Brewster, but also as a scholar,” Spanier said. “This is a gold mine for a scholar.”

The archive spans Hemingway’s life and even stretches past his death. In one box, labeled “Ernest’s baby treasures” in his mother’s handwriting, is a lock of his hair, his leather baby bootees and the head of his favorite toy, “Doggie,” which he slept with until age 6 and a half. In another folder, a telegram asks Toby Bruce to be a pallbearer at the author’s funeral. There is also Hemingway’s American Red Cross uniform — the one he wasn’t wearing when wounded — which rests in a box meant for a wedding dress.

“In terms of just being a fan, it gives me chills to touch his WWI uniform or to page through his letters,” said Spanier. “Just to touch the paper, there’s an electric connection that you get there personally, as well as intellectually as a scholar.”

In one newly discovered letter from the summer of 1945, Hemingway writes to Bruce about his son Jack, nicknamed Bumby, who had recently been released from a German prisoner of war camp during World War II.

“He is in o.k. shape. The wounds were plenty bad. One in the shoulder you could put your fist into. Another through fore-arm and another through shoulder,” Hemingway wrote. “He had six months of nothing but soup and a hell of a time all around.”

The most haunting piece of the archive comes from a notebook dated March 6, 1926.

“When I feel low I like to think about death and the various ways of dying and I think probably the best way, unless you could arrange to die some way while asleep, would be to go off a liner at night,” wrote Hemingway, then 26 and just seven months away from publishing his blockbuster novel “The Sun Also Rises.” While the scholar Carlos Baker quoted this section in his 1969 biography, “Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story,” the notebook itself was hidden away for years. What Baker didn’t include in his book is just as revealing.

Hemingway, in his tight penmanship, explores various means of death for three pages, writing: “For so many years I was afraid of death and it is very comfortable to be without that fear. Of course it may return again at any time.”

All of it is tempered, perhaps, by a pencil notation that Hemingway wrote later: “This is [expletive].”

Hemingway wrote these passages two years before his father killed himself, suggesting that the author’s own suicidal ideation started earlier and was perhaps deeper than scholars previously knew. In 1961, the Pulitzer- and Nobel-Prize-winning writer killed himself with a shotgun at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, just weeks before his 62nd birthday.

The collection isn’t all darkness.

In a series of photos from February 1936, Hemingway referees sweaty teenagers in a boxing match during a good will exhibition between Cubans and Americans for Key West’s “Week of Joy” commemorating Cuban independence. In another, he grins in a candid shot with fellow author Sinclair Lewis ( “Babbitt,” “Elmer Gantry”) during a chance meeting in 1940. He can be seen beaming in the negatives from his wedding to his first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, on Sept. 3, 1921, in Horton Bay, Mich.

The collection not only allows access to things Hemingway wrote and touched and wore — it also allows scholars to see through his eyes.

There are dozens of tiny, two-by-three-inch snapshots that Hemingway took on his 1933-34 safari in British East Africa (now Kenya) and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). With his Graflex camera, Hemingway captured giraffes on the African plains, a pair of wary-looking elephants in the brush and an unguarded shot of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, surveying the landscape with their guides. Hemingway chronicled the trip in a series of articles for Esquire magazine, and it served as the basis for his 1935 nonfiction book “Green Hills of Africa.”

“It’s a little flash of time travel. History comes alive for a minute,” Spanier says. “You can see exactly what he was experiencing on a given day.”

One of the most amusing finds is the short story about Fitzgerald as a fictional pugilist. The upstart Kid Fitz wins his match and “appeared in good condition after his grueling battle,” Hemingway writes. “His only marks were a strangulated hernia, a missing nose and two black eyes.”

Famously, Hemingway and Fitzgerald had a relationship that could be euphemistically described as “complicated.” The pair met in Paris in 1925 just after Fitzgerald published his masterpiece, “The Great Gatsby.” A more experienced and connected writer, Fitzgerald championed Hemingway’s work while offering him career and editing advice. He introduced Hemingway to his editor, Maxwell Perkins at Charles Scribner’s Sons, which ended up publishing his most important works.

The friendship soured, however, as Fitzgerald’s star waned and Hemingway took potshots at him in print. Fitzgerald also suffered the indignity of dying first, and Hemingway wrote in his memoir, “A Moveable Feast,” that Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, criticized the size of his manhood. Hemingway, according to his telling, had to reassure Fitzgerald that he was perfectly normal.

But this boxing story is playful and affectionate, though still biting. Hemingway casts Fitzgerald as a young boxing star who “deserves to rank” with other “boxers” including Battling Milton (John Milton), K.O. Keats (John Keats), Spike Shelley (Percy Shelley) and Wild Cat Wordsworth (William Wordsworth), among others.

“It’s making fun of Fitzgerald’s ineptitude in physical matters,” said Kirk Curnutt, a professor and chair of English at Troy University in Alabama, who also serves as the executive director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.

“Hemingway clearly felt he’d surpassed Fitzgerald both in literary and physical virility,” he added. “But in a way, it’s an odd admission of delusion. Later in life, Hemingway would claim he could take world-renowned writers in the ring with the same sort of obliviousness he’s attributing to Kid Fitz here as he gets his nose knocked off.”

Because the story is undated, it’s difficult to fix its place in their relationship, although Curnutt thinks it might be related to a famous bone of contention between the two.

In 1929, Fitzgerald was the timekeeper in a sparring match between Hemingway and the Canadian novelist Morley Callaghan, who years earlier served on the staff at The Toronto Star with Hemingway. The match turned bloody, however, and took on a more serious tone when Callaghan landed several punches. Hemingway, who considered himself something of a boxer, claimed that he was battered during an extra minute in the round because Fitzgerald lost track of time.

“Hemingway never quite got over that extra minute,” said Curnutt. “He later stretched it out to 13 minutes.”

Two other Hemingway story fragments are “Alice in Wonderland”-style tales — actually featuring Alice, Tweedledee and Tweedledum — that savagely lampoon President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The 10 pages of disconnected tales make fun of F.D.R.’s economic policy as Alice tries to make sense of the “Oddity Dollar” based on a loan she never applied for. These pages are new segments of an existing Alice story already housed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, home of the largest collection of Hemingway materials.

“The ‘Alice’ portions remind us not only of how opposed Hemingway was to the New Deal but just how much fun he could have with wordplay,” Curnutt said.

The archive is opening during a moment when Hemingway is enjoying a bit of a cultural renaissance. Last year, he was the subject of a lavish, three-part documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and Simon & Schuster has been releasing expanded library editions of his work. Hemingway continues to inspire movies, comic books, podcasts and TV shows. His last unfilmed novel, “Across the River and into the Trees,” was shot in Venice during the height of the Covid pandemic and stars Liev Schreiber. And Robert Zemeckis, the director of films including “Forrest Gump” and “Cast Away,” has agreed to direct a limited television series based on Hemingway’s life that is being shopped to studios and streamers.

As more of Hemingway’s early work comes into the public domain and his exposure to new readers increases, these materials will undoubtedly add to Hemingway’s legacy. They could help flesh out a figure who fell victim to his own masculine mythmaking. Part of that myth points to a darker side of Hemingway — malignant competitiveness, callous anti-Semitism, and a volcanic temper — that often overshadows his work and makes him the poster boy for toxic masculinity. It can also obscure a fuller understanding of Hemingway’s life that includes a generational struggle with depression, brain trauma and the author’s own gender identity — all facets of Hemingway detailed in recent scholarship. (He explored gender reversals with all four of his wives and referred to himself as Mary’s “girl” during their marriage and periodically called himself “Catherine” or “Kathrine.”)

“The Hemingway that you know from high school is not the Hemingway we know today,” Eby, the president of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and Society, said. “The hyper-machismo was real, but it was less than half the picture. Hemingway’s sexuality and gender identity were much more fluid and complex than the general public realizes. The man was a thousand times more interesting and nuanced than the myth would suggest.”

While future scholars will mine the archive to discover secrets and insights, even a cursory review of the materials is impressive. Spanier, the Hemingway scholar at Penn State, said the process of annotating and dating items “has been just like an Easter egg hunt.”

There’s a check for $10 to Arnold Gingrich, the co-founder of Esquire magazine, to settle a boxing bet. Hemingway’s entire fishing log from 1934-35 — which includes what he was doing, what he saw, and who he was with — is here, too. The archive includes two partial typescripts for his 1932 nonfiction work about bullfighting, “Death in the Afternoon.” In an excised passage, Hemingway imagines a reader who questions if it’s appropriate to write about an amusement like bullfighting with the threat of civil war in Spain, when other writers were turning their attention to politics.

It’s all enough to keep scholars and the Hemingway-fascinated busy for decades.

“It fleshes out his genius as an artist, but also his everyday life,” Spanier said. “Usually, he’s a one-dimensional character in pop culture, but this archive adds a depth and nuance and complexity to our knowledge of Hemingway, so he’s not such a cartoon character. The artifacts all illuminate each other. Every object tells a story.”

Hemingway in Key West in early 1931, several months after breaking his arm in a car accident in Montana.

Credit…The Toby and Betty Bruce collection of Ernest Hemingway in the Penn State Special Collections Library

Maureen Dowd: Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost!

Dear Commons Community,

Maureen Dowd has a scathing column this morning in The New York Times that focuses on the maniacal personalities of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Here is an excerpt:

“Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, long entwined, continue on vile parallel paths: They would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost.

They have each created a scrim of lies to justify lunatic personal ambition. And while it should be easy to see through these lies, both cult-of-personality leaders are able to con and bully enough people to remain puissant.

As our ancestors did, the Ukrainians are fighting an abusive overlord, against all odds, for democracy. It’s especially inspiring as a split screen with Trump and his MAGA forces trying to bulldoze democracy … The Ukrainians are battling for a luminous ideal — unlike Trump and Putin, who are smashing a luminous ideal for their own benefit, driven by their dread of being called losers.

Both thugs are getting boxed in, Trump by a bouquet of investigations into his chicanery and Putin by an angry public pushback against his bloody vanity war….

It would be poetic justice to think the walls were closing in on Putin and Trump at the same time, because at some point, all this will become unsustainable. Losers, refusing to admit defeat.”

Must reading!

The entire column is below.



The New York Times

Solo Soulless Saboteurs

Sept. 24, 2022

By Maureen Dowd

Opinion Columnist

WASHINGTON — In the internet age, it’s almost impossible to get away with anything. (See: Adam Levine.)

And yet, some people still manage to pull off solo flights of destruction worthy of a megalomaniacal supervillain.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, long entwined, continue on vile parallel paths: They would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost.

They have each created a scrim of lies to justify lunatic personal ambition. And while it should be easy to see through these lies, both cult-of-personality leaders are able to con and bully enough people to remain puissant.

As our ancestors did, the Ukrainians are fighting an abusive overlord, against all odds, for democracy. It’s especially inspiring as a split screen with Trump and his MAGA forces trying to bulldoze democracy and rip away women’s rights. The Ukrainians are battling for a luminous ideal — unlike Trump and Putin, who are smashing a luminous ideal for their own benefit, driven by their dread of being called losers.

Both thugs are getting boxed in, Trump by a bouquet of investigations into his chicanery and Putin by an angry public pushback against his bloody vanity war.

America has its own history of lying itself into wars, in Vietnam and Iraq, for example, and then prolonging the killing of young soldiers as a sop to male politicians’ egos. Now it’s Russia’s turn.

Putin has doubled down on his unprovoked invasion of a neighbor — red-washed as a “special military operation” by the Kremlin. Now he has conscripted 300,000 men to join the front lines, commandeering school buses to drag the men to training camps — a move that sent draft-age men fleeing across the border and flocking to airports, amid tears and howls from women and children.

As Ian Bremmer noted on Twitter, Google searches in Russia for “How to break your arm” have skyrocketed.

The Washington Post said that 1,300 people were arrested at protests across Russia on Wednesday and Thursday. The Times reported that anti-draft protesters blocked a highway during a protest in Dagestan in southern Russia.

“When we fought in 1941 to 1945, that was a war,” a man yelled in a video that went viral. “And now it’s not war, it’s politics.”

Pressured by allies and humiliated by his awful judgment in thinking that swallowing Ukraine would be a cakewalk, Putin seems ever more unhinged. The bodies of critics and oligarchs dying in “accidents” and “suicides” are piling up around him, like a scene in “Goodfellas.” He is ruining countless lives in concentric circles, from former friends, to Russian citizens yanked into a war they don’t believe in, to Ukrainians willing to die for freedom.

George W. Bush thought he could see into Pootie-Poot’s soul, and Hillary Clinton thought she could have a reset with him. But no one can deal with someone so inhumane.

On Friday, Russia began sham referendums in Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine to decide whether the territories want to be incorporated into the Russian state.

Ominous in balaclavas and hoisting guns, Russian soldiers forcing reluctant Ukrainians to vote stood next to election workers in Ukraine in what The Times called “a legally bogus pretext to gobble up their country,” recalling staged votes in 2014 in Crimea.

Of course, the United Nations, where world leaders gathered this past week for the General Assembly, has been toothless as Russia has pursued an illegal war reeking with criminal actions. But the United States has sent repeated warnings to Russia about severe consequences if it uses nuclear weapons.

“As we assemble here,” Secretary of State Tony Blinken told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, “Ukrainian and international investigators continue to exhume bodies outside of Izyum, a city Russian forces controlled for six months before they were driven out by a Ukrainian counteroffensive. One site contains some 440 unmarked graves. A number of the bodies unearthed there so far reportedly show signs of torture, including one victim with broken arms and a rope around his neck.”

Both Putin and Trump are famous for accusing everyone else of their own sins.

Speaking at the U.N. on Thursday, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said, “We have no doubt that Ukraine has finally turned into a Nazi-style totalitarian state where standards of international humanitarian law are trampled underfoot with impunity.”

Trump also constantly projects. And now he’s using telepathy. He told Fox’s Sean Hannity that he did not stash any classified papers at Mar-a-Lago because he merely had to think about declassifying them and it would be done. The Wizard of Id.

Just when you thought he couldn’t go lower, Trump said “Hold my Diet Coke.” He shared an image of himself sporting a “Q” pin, for QAnon, and has been reposting more QAnon garbage on his store-brand social media site.

It would be poetic justice to think the walls were closing in on Putin and Trump at the same time, because at some point, all this will become unsustainable. Losers, refusing to admit defeat.

Elon Musk and Tesla ramping up hiring for developing ‘thousands of humanoid robots’

The Tesla Bot, also called Optimus, is expected to be deployed in factories and households. (Photo: Tesla)

The Tesla Bot, also called Optimus, is expected to be deployed in factories and households. (Photo: Tesla)

Dear Commons Community,

Reuters is reporting that Tesla  is ramping up ambitious plans to develop the Tesla Bot, also known as Optimus, with internal meetings and hiring for about 20 positions including software and firmware engineers, deep learning scientists, actuator technicians, and internships.

“Tesla is on a path to build humanoid bi-pedal robots at scale to automate repetitive and boring tasks,” one job posting for a mechatronics technician stated. “Most importantly, you will see your work repeatedly shipped to and utilized by thousands of Humanoid Robots within our factories.”  (see video below)

Tesla posted most of the jobs under its Autopilot division, which is simultaneously working to deploy full self-driving capabilities for vehicles.

Elon Musk tweeted the Autopilot team has “end of month deadlines” for both the Tesla Bot and Autopark projects. Earlier in the summer, Musk teased that a prototype of the robot could be unveiled at Tesla’s AI Day on Sept. 30.

Musk’s vision for the five-foot-eight, 125-pound Optimus extends beyond the production lines of Tesla factories. He ultimately sees an army of robots tasked with household chores and care work in millions of households (see video below).

“This, I think, has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time,” Musk said on an earnings call in January.

Some on Wall Street, however, are skeptical.

Investors and Tesla enthusiasts are still waiting on the Cybertruck, due out in 2023 after several delays, as well as the company’s promise of fully autonomous vehicles. The EV maker expanded its Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta pilot to 160,000 Tesla owners as it scales its autonomous software program, though some have said the current $15,000 price tag isn’t worth its current capabilities.

Musk has also touted an automated robotaxi concept, which is slated to be announced in 2023

And with deploying robots at scale, there are other challenges in the way of deployment.

A number of companies have sought to develop humanoid robots — Hyundai’s Boston Dynamics, Honda, GM and NASA, Ford, Softbank, and others — though few projects have gotten off the ground.

According to Reuters, the robots have had trouble overcoming unexpected situations and completing unscripted tasks, much like self-driving cars.

Musk has a history of success.  I don’t think it is a question of whether he will deliver Optimus but when?  Maybe we will see on September 30th!


Video: QAnon follower Douglas Jensen convicted of charges that he led a crowd of rioters on January 6th!

Dear Commons Community,

Douglas Jensen was convicted yesterday of charges that he led a crowd of rioters in chasing a U.S. Capitol police officer up a staircase and accosting other officers guarding the Senate on January 6th, 2021.

A federal jury deliberated for roughly four hours before convicting Jensen of felony charges that he obstructed Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021, and that he assaulted or interfered with police officers during the siege.

Jensen was convicted on all counts, including a charge that he engaged in disorderly conduct inside the Capitol while carrying a folding knife in his pocket.  As reported by the Associated Press.

During the trial’s closing arguments, a prosecutor accused Jensen of “weaponizing” rioters by taking the lead in chasing Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman up a staircase. A reporter’s video of the confrontation went viral (see above).

“The defendant wasn’t just leading the mob. He was weaponizing it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Mirell told jurors. “He knew he had the numbers, and he was willing to use them.”

Jensen, a construction worker from Des Moines, Iowa, was wearing a T-shirt with a large “Q” expressing his adherence to the QAnon conspiracy theory. One of the most memorable images from the Jan. 6 attack captured Jensen with his arms extended as he confronted a line of police officers near the Senate chambers.

“Go arrest the vice president,” Jensen told one of the officers, according to prosecutors.

QAnon has centered on the baseless belief that former President Donald Trump was secretly fighting a Satan-worshipping cabal of “deep state” enemies, prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites. Jensen believed the conspiracy theory’s apocalyptic prophesy that “The Storm” was coming and would usher in mass arrests and executions of Trump’s foes, including Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence was presiding over the Senate on Jan. 6 as a joint session of Congress was convened to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. Before the riot, Trump and his allies spread the falsehood that Pence somehow could have overturned the election results.

After scaling the outer walls of the Capitol, Jensen climbed through a broken window to enter the building. Prosecutors said Jensen learned from a friend’s text message that Pence was about to certify the election results.

“That’s all about to change,” Jensen replied.

Jensen didn’t testify at his trial, which started Tuesday. Goodman was a key witness for prosecutors.

Before running upstairs, Goodman approached Jensen and other rioters with his hand on his gun. Fearing for his life, Goodman retreated upstairs and found backup from other officers guarding an entrance to the Senate, where senators were being evacuated, according to prosecutors.

At least 880 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. About 400 of them have pleaded guilty. Juries have convicted eight Capitol riot defendants after trials. None of the defendants who had jury trials was acquitted of any charges.

Justice is being served with this conviction!