Althouse | category: shoes



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"Here we have hot springs with really hot water; we have active volcanoes; we have sneaker waves on beaches..."

"... we have strong winds. We somehow think that we’re invincible when we’re on vacation, but we still have to use our common sense."

She's trying, politely, to deal with Iceland's problem of too many tourists. They get 2 million a year, and they only have 388,000 actual residents.

But what's a "sneaker wave"? It made me think of the mystery of the sneakers containing severed feet that were washing up on the coast of the Salish Sea. Remember that news story from 2021? It started happening after 2007 because of a change in sneaker design that made them more buoyant. There have always been corpses in the sea — from misadventures and suicides and so forth — and the sea creatures have been feeding on them all along — with special attention to the tender, delectable ankles — so submerged severed feet inside shoes was nothing new. They just weren't floating up on shore in the pre-buoyancy days.

But that's not what going on in Iceland. "Sneaker waves" have nothing to do with footwear or severed feet. They're just sneaky waves: 
The waves here are so sneaky, they come creeping up on you and suck you in if you are standing too close - nothing can be done to save people if this happens - so please be extremely careful if you visit these beaches, and never turn your back to the sea and the waves....

The staff at Svarta fjaran - the Black Beach restaurant by Reynisfjara, say that they often go down to the beach to warn people against playing in the waves, only to be sneered at and scolded for trying to ruin the holiday of these people! 
I'd never heard the term "sneaker wave" and thought maybe it's because we use another expression, specifically, "rogue wave"? But these are usually considered different phenomena:
One American oceanographer distinguishes "rogue waves" as occurring on the ocean and "sneaker waves" as occurring at the shore, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration loosely defines rogue waves as offshore waves that are at least twice the height of surrounding waves and sneaker waves as waves near shore that are unexpectedly and significantly larger than other waves reaching shore at the time. Scientists do not yet understand what causes sneaker waves, and their relationship to rogue waves, if any, has not been established.

"Mr. DeRuvo initially decided to forgo shoes because of agonizing bunions, but he has stayed barefoot for reasons that transcend physical comfort."

"In that time, he has become a litmus test of people’s forbearance and their willingness to tolerate a stranger’s unconventional lifestyle and perhaps even try to understand it. There are questions he is asked frequently that he is always happy to answer. How does he manage snow and ice? Doesn’t he get sharp objects stuck in his thick calluses? But that’s the simple stuff. 'Navigating the terrain is easy,' Mr. DeRuvo said. 'Navigating people is tricky.; When asked to leave a shop or a restaurant, he normally does so without protest, said Mr. DeRuvo’s wife, Lini Ecker, a shoe-wearer who serves as a bridge between her husband and a world that generally asks for conformity. 'When someone has put on their "I’m in charge personae,"' she said, 'once they start, they can never change their minds.' On occasion, Mr. DeRuvo pushes back. 'If I’m feeling feisty,' he said...."

He has a job that works with barefootedness: Pilates instructor.

We're told he has other quirks: He prefers to use chopsticks and "He needs reggae music to play in the background at almost all times."

His wife must love him. I mean: reggae music playing in the background at all times! Well: "almost." Who knows what percentage of her time is free of reggae and whether her preferred music genre is ever the score to their time together?

By the way, I think bare feet track less filth indoors than shod feet. You're far more likely to know you've got something on your feet and to quickly get it off than you are to know there's something on your shoes. Ideally, we'd all take our shoes off when we go indoors, but that's not happening in shops and restaurants and other places of business. 

I remember when I was a teenager and sought the freedom to go barefoot at school. I still remember the name of the teacher — was he a science teacher? — who exclaimed "You'll get ringworm!"

ADDED: Wikipedia has an article, "Barefoot." One subheading is "Inquisition and witch trials":

During the era of the Catholic Inquisition it was a conviction that women allegedly practicing witchcraft had their ability to use their "sinister powers" largely impaired if they were barefoot. Arrested women first had their footwear taken away and it was ensured that they remained barefoot at all times. Due to interpretations of the Malleus Maleficarum it was believed that in case an accused witch was not strictly kept with bare feet she could cast a spell on people by only looking at them. As the prosecutors wanted to avoid any risks, it was ensured that the bare feet of the women remained visible throughout. During questioning or in court, the accused women often had to stand within the boundaries of a consecrated spot with the soles of their bare feet constantly being in contact with the sanctified section of the ground.... To further ensure safety they were often led in walking backwards for their court sessions. They were not allowed to turn around until their bare feet were visibly placed within the bounded spot....

"North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has given the clearest signal yet that he is positioning his middle-school-aged daughter as his successor..."

"...  analysts say, after a raft of official photos showed the girl holding center stage in a banquet hall full of military top brass.... The photos show Ju Ae, who is believed to be about 10 or 11 years old, in the middle of all the photos — a spot usually reserved for the leader himself. The girl’s hair is styled to look like the do worn by her stylish mother, first lady Ri Sol Ju, and she wears a no-nonsense black skirt suit and sensible shoes. As they walk into the banquet hall, military leaders, their jackets bedecked with medals, stand to applaud. At the table, top generals stand behind the first family, beaming with wide smiles."

Good thing we have analysts who know the significance of sensible shoes.

If you'd asked me, I'd have said those were the only possible shoes she could have worn. If she were not the intended successor, could she have worn stilettos? Something pink? Loafers? I can't picture any other shoes, in any circumstances. Maybe something without the Mary Jane strap, like the mother's shoes? No: She's 10. (Or 11.) But I am not a professional analyst of the politics of children's footwear.

"Sam literally said to me, ‘The only people I think I’d wear long pants for are Congress.'"

Said Andy Croghan — a colleague of Sam Bankman-Fried's — quoted in a May 2022 NYT article, "A Crypto Emperor’s Vision: No Pants, His Rules/Sam Bankman-Fried is a studiously disheveled billionaire who made a fortune overseeing trades that are too risky for the U.S. market. Now he wants Washington to follow his lead" (NYT).

Croghan was trying to get SBF to look more conventionally presentable. He says he said, "Sam, you’ve got to cut your hair, dude — it looks ridiculous." SBF retorted: "I honestly think it’s negative EV for me to cut my hair. I think it’s important for people to think I look crazy." 

When SBF did testify before Congress, he wore long pants and was more subtly weird by doing his shoe laces like this:


That article from last May is by David Yaffe-Bellany, who was on yesterday's episode of the NYT Daily podcast, which I highly recommend. Yaffe-Bellany talks about how SBF tried "to create a mystique for himself as a kind of nerd genius," affecting a "disheveled appearance" that was "all very calculated." Don't miss the voice of Bill Clinton at 16:20.

"It’s negative EV for me to cut my hair" — What's "EV"? From the May article:

Before making any kind of business decision, Mr. Bankman-Fried weighs the options in quantitative terms. “What’s the expected value?” he often asks co-workers, before assigning numbers to each possible outcome: A good result has positive EV; a bad one, negative EV. Once, while a few colleagues were cracking crypto-themed sex jokes in the office, he whirled around in his chair. Was there positive EV, he wondered, in distributing condoms with jokes on them at an upcoming conference? (The answer was yes: “Never breaks,” one of the FTX-branded wrappers read, “even during large liquidations.”)

ADDED: In the comments to yesterday's post John Borell — obviously aware of my longstanding critique of men in shorts — wrote "all SBF posts should have a 'men in shorts' tag." 

I responded:

He owned his personal style and it was a good message if people knew how to understand it. Which they didn't. Because they were listening to their own (greedy) hopes 'n' dreams.

Let them now enjoy their own stupid genius-god in short pants. I think it's very funny.

"Of course, leaning into ugliness — or at least less obvious curation — is still an aesthetic choice, intended to signify an irreverence or a rejection of norms...."

"As Alicia Kennedy writes: '"Bad" photos are in, but the thing about them is that they’re not really bad or even insouciant: They’re just a different approach, less big bright lighting, a little grainy, still beautifully plated.'... This trend toward DIY-looking food also opens up the door to greater inclusivity... For disabled and neurodivergent people who have trouble with fine-tuned decoration or people with disabilities who live with inaccessible kitchens where it’s hard to cook, much less stage a meal, 'the shift to DIY helps with the pressure'.... [S]eeing other people... unafraid to make work that looks amateur, imperfect, and unprofessional has given me a sense that it’s okay to do the same.... The pressure of showing the 'right' thing on Instagram isn’t entirely alleviated, but I’ve found a space where it’s okay to have realistic ambitions...."

From "The Great Food Instagram Vibe Shift/The food blogger aesthetic has given way to something more realistic and DIY: Laissez-faire Instagram food is here" (Eater).

It's nice to see social media trending toward what is comfortable and doable rather than strainingly aspirational. This article is about food and photography, but I think it's a more general trend, reminiscent of the late 60s, early 70s, when naturalness and ease felt like the essence of beauty and meticulous striving looked awful.

I mean, just to poke around at Eater, here's "Best Dressed/What Are We Wearing to Restaurants Now, Paris? At Folderol, a combination natural wine bar and ice cream shop in Paris, neighborhood block party vibes feel distinctly Parisian." 

A French woman — complimented for looking "quite put together" — says "The cap was brought from the U.S. by a friend of mine, which is why I like it so much. These are my new Nikes and they are the most comfortable sneakers on earth; I feel like I have a marshmallow on each foot."

Remember when Americans were told that we stand out as obvious Americans in France because we wear sneakers? There are many photos at that link and most of the Parisians are wearing sneakers. And none are wearing try-hard shoes. I'm seeing Doc Martens and Birkenstock clogs.

"North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has given the clearest signal yet that he is positioning his middle-school-aged daughter as his successor...""Sam literally said to me, ‘The only people I think I’d wear long pants for are Congress.'"Like the woman who asked Bob Dylan "Is there something I can send you from across the sea?," I asked Meade...

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