August 22, 2015

The issue that could break the trance Trump has on some conservatives.

Eminent domain.

IN THE COMMENTS: AJ Lynch had written:
In the last 20-30 some years, the fed govt has not fixed even one big thing. Not one. Simplifying the tax code, securing the borders, infrastructure, longterm national defense plan, reforming the 80 year old bankrupt social security system, the economy and jobs, a consensus & sensible foreign policy. Those are big things I consider as needing fixing. Yet not a one has been fixed in 20-30 years. I think the voters feel Trump will fix at least one big thing and that is what counts. Voters won't care about this eminent domain case or any other crap MSM libs dig up unless the voter is just looking for an excuse to vote for the same old same old Dem BS [is that perhaps you Althouse?]
My response was:
Fixing one big thing... sounds like what Obama did.
Reading the rest of the comments this morning (Sunday, 6 a.m.), I realize that AJ Lynch and many others didn't understand the point in the post, and I feel that almost no one understood my response to AJ Lynch.

First, the post was not about caring about "this eminent domain case," but the way Trump's use of eminent domain should undercut the belief that Trump is a conservative. Trump's favorite words include "big" and "love." You're going love the big things he's going to do. It's gonna be great. Trust him! If that pumps you up, you are not conservative. Or it's not the conservative part of you that is responding to Trump. So what is it? Illegal immigrants?

Second, this idea of fixing one big thing. That's what Obama did with health care. He focused on one big problem that needed fixing, and he devoted his presidency to that one great reform. Oh, but you don't like that fix, perhaps. What makes you think you're going to like Trump's big fix? He's mostly threatening to fix illegal immigration, and sure, that, like health care, is a huge problem. How do you think Trump's ideas about that are going to work in practice? You think that will be less of a clusterfuck than Obamacare? It will be more. Much, much more. Anyone who's leaning back and enjoying the idea of Trump "fixing" things for us is juvenile, dreaming of magic big government. Again: not a conservative. Hopey-changey.

The Madison Mini-Marathon came right through our neighborhood today.

It was about Mile 10 when we saw them:

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Notice all the green:

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It's school colors. These kids came over from Memorial High School to cheer and hand out water.

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"Run like you stole something."

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"Run faster... I just farted."

ADDED: A few blocks up, there was a group of little girls who were offering the runners bacon.

"Jurors on Friday night awarded Michael Jordan $8.9 million..."

"... in his lawsuit against Dominick’s over the unauthorized use of his name in a congratulatory advertisement."
“This... shows that I will protect my name to the fullest, in the United States and all over the world, you know? It is my name. I worked hard for it for 30-something years, and I’m not just going to let someone take it. I will fight till the end,” said Jordan.
He attempted some court/court word play but got a little wordy:
“This is not one of the courts or type of court that I like to win at, you know? Obviously, I’m so used to playing on a different court, but unfortunately it ended up in this court and I’m very happy with the results.”
The money is going to charity, by the way.

"It's the same way as saying we meet with the tea party. Who is the tea party? There's hundreds of thousands of people."

Said Scott Walker, asked about whether he'd meet with Black Lives Matter activists.

The headline meme is that he "stumbled."

"The two American service members who tackled a suspected terrorist on a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris rushed him even though he was fully armed..."

"... then grabbed him by the neck and beat him over the head with his own automatic rifle until he was unconscious, one of them said in television interviews here on Saturday."
The suspect entered the train car carrying an AK-47 and a handgun, and “I looked over at Spencer and said, ‘Let’s go,’” said Alek Skarlatos, identified as an Oregon National Guardsman returning from Afghanistan. “And he jumped, I followed behind him by about three seconds. Spencer got the guy first, grabbed the guy by the neck, I grabbed the handgun,” said Mr. Skarlatos, referring to Spencer Stone, a friend and member of the Air Force.
The link goes to the NYT. Highest-rated comment:
500 people were on that train...and two unarmed heroes prevented a bloodbath without thought to their own safety. True courage.
Second highest:
It's ironic that what could have been a really nasty attack was stopped in a country that has very restrictive gun laws by people without guns. Seems that maybe there are better ways of safety than everyone runnng around with guns. The idea of a whole bunch of armed people on a packed train would be a nightmare as bad as the one that just happend. Here in the U.S. the gun crowd would be pushing more guns to keep the evil shooters away.

"I am going to make this country bigger and stronger and better and you’re going to love it and you’re going to love your president and we’re going to turn this place around and you’re going to be so proud."

Did you watch the extravaganza last night?



I did. I calmly consumed the entire thing, fell asleep early, and woke up anguished. This man is spending his own money, and he can easily blow a billion dollars on this fabulous ego trip. Who can match him? The others are fading and withering away.

ADDED: All who have supported campaign finance restrictions should be squirming now, as Trump's competitors are hamstrung.

ALSO ADDED: Consider whether Trump is revealing something that has long been true about the American presidency, that he is not such a great outlier. And I'm not just talking about Obama. I'm thinking about all the Presidents I remember in my lifetime. It's a trajectory, and if you plot it out, you'd see that Trump is next. Trump is next, we are idiots, and we are screwed.

"The carousel is spinning magnificently but one of the horses cannot be ridden by the children lining up to have a go..."

"... because it’s hanging by its back legs above the blood-spattered model of a slaughterman who is clutching a machete."

"Did you ever tell Owen Labrie that if you were laughing during this encounter, it doesn’t mean what the rest of the world thinks laughing means?"

A question on cross-examination in the St. Paul's rape case.
The girl, having already been advised by [defense attorney J. W. Carney Jr.] to answer with only a yes or no, resisted. “I’m sorry, again,” she said, “a yes or no answer would not do that question justice.”

Mr. Carney then read from the girl’s interview with the police, quoting her saying: “He couldn’t know that I was uncomfortable because I was laughing,” and “I was trying to be cool.”

August 21, 2015

At the Prairie Café...

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... let's take a closer look...

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... at insect politics.

"Do people even know who he is? Wow. He will do anything to show his body."

Said Claire McCaskill about Scott Brown.
"It was so surreal, all of the women in the Senate used to talk about how he would figure out some way, every time he had a conversation, to work in something about his body. Like, 'I was on the treadmill in the gym this morning and I saw you on MSNBC,' or 'You know, I was running at lunch today and' — and he did it to all of us! We all compared notes."

"Why Can't All Ashley Madison Hacking Victims Be Josh Duggar?" is the wrong title for this piece by Amanda Marcotte.

Because this is the core of it:
But cheating is about violating a deeply personal agreement between two people. If the person you’re with doesn’t care if you sleep with other people, it’s not cheating. It’s all about an agreement that you decide between yourselves, and like all such agreements, the only people who should care what you do are people who your behavior directly affects. It’s not the business of the world at large.
That's the second-to-the-last paragraph, the serious point. The final paragraph serves up some cheap political amusement:
Unless you’re Josh Duggar, of course. Or anyone else who fights publicly to use government interference to mess with the private sexual choices of consenting adults. If you fight for the government to limit or ban gay people’s marriages or women’s reproductive choices, then your sex life is our business. If only there were a way to do a targeted search of Ashley Madison data for that, while leaving everyone else alone.
I sort of agree with that observation, even though I'm a big proponent of equal justice and think it's an important test of any rules we have that we want them to apply to people we like just as much as to those we despise. But the Ashley Madison data dump isn't a rule we've adopted as a group. It's something a small bunch of hackers inflicted on us, and, like a car accident or a falling meteoroid, we can, without hypocrisy, hope that it hits someone we didn't like anyway. And, speaking of hypocrisy, there is something special about exposing the hypocrites. Anyone who's made a public show of disparaging the sexual morality of others had better uphold high standards privately, because there will be little sympathy if we catch them sinning (which seems to happen so often that I always assume public perseveration about sexual morality is motivated by guilt about sexual sin).

I've almost talked myself out of my original premise that the second-to-the-last paragraph is more significant. It is what I started this post to talk about. I want to take issue with the idea that "cheating is about violating a deeply personal agreement between two people," that "It’s all about an agreement that you decide between yourselves," that "the only people who should care what you do are people who your behavior directly affects," and "It’s not the business of the world at large." Hello?! We're talking about marriage. Why was same-sex marriage recognized as a constitutional right? It wasn't — I've read the opinion — so that couples could get access to the economic benefits of marriage. It was because same-sex couples deserved equal respect from society as a group. If it were just a "deeply personal agreement between two people," then the legal status of marriage would not have mattered.

Obviously, married couples can and do work out their own relationship in private, and they may have understandings about sex with outsiders to the marriage. Sometimes it's because — in Marcotte's crude language — "the person you’re with doesn’t care if you sleep with other people," and sometimes it's because "the person you’re with" — that is, your husband or wife — has pressured or talked you into accepting nonexclusivity. Sometimes it's because you blind yourself to something that, confronted, would destroy what you want to keep.

But when you take on the legal status of marriage, you are including the rest of the world. You may have the idea — perhaps based on enlightened self-interest and choice — that marriage for you isn't exactly what marriage is for the general public. It may be a festival of polyamory for you and your spouse. But it is not a thoroughly private arrangement. You invited the world in. You interacted with the government and acquired a status of "recognition, stability, and predictability." And that made it the public's business. Flooding into your personal life came all these outsiders' ideas about what marriage means.

IN THE COMMENTS: Jane the Actuary said: "So Ann Althouse is publicly coming out as saying that marriage, by definition, requires sexual exclusivity? Good!" And I said:
How do you figure I said that?

I said that when you marry, you deliberately take on a status that is about public recognition of your relationship, and that closes off your argument that what you are doing is purely private. You've invited public judgment.

You could still say: 1. The public are jerks to express judgment especially where they don't know the details of our relationship. 2. I'll ignore what people say and do what I want and the govt still can't take away my marital status unless we seek divorce, and 3. Marriage ought to be understood to include the privately arrived at relationship between the spouses, including greater sexual freedom.

The Ashley Madison problem has to do with one's public reputation, which is based on the public's idea of what is good, and which tends to be that married couples should be sexually faithful. So, it's going to hurt your reputation to look like an adulterer. That doesn't say thing about what marriage is "by definition."

Analogy: It hurts your reputation (in present day America) to be known to be an atheist, but that doesn't establish that God exists. 

"So if I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers' lounges, where they sit together and worry about, 'Woe is us.'"

Said Governor Kasich, inanely.

Shaun King — the Black Lives Matter activist — responds to those who are saying he's been faking his blackness.

"I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now..."
... but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man. My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment. This has been my lived reality for nearly 30 of my 35 years on earth. I am not ashamed of it, or of who I am—never that—but I was advised by my pastor nearly 20 years ago that this was not a mess of my doing and it was not my responsibility to fix it. All of my siblings and I have different parents. I'm actually not even sure how many siblings I have. It is horrifying to me that my most personal information, for the most nefarious reasons, has been forced out into the open and that my private past and pain have been used as jokes and fodder to discredit me and the greater movement for justice in America. I resent that lies have been reported as truth and that the obviously racist intentions of these attacks have been consistently downplayed at my expense and that of my family....
ADDED: What does King really know? Assuming he's being scrupulously honest here — and he has a very strong motive to lie — he is relaying what is only hearsay. His mother could have lied to him. If his current story is true, then she lied to the authorities and caused a lie to appear on the birth certificate. She had a motive to tell that lie, we might observe, and less of a motive to lie when she — assuming he's telling the truth — told him about that "a light-skinned black man."

King's current writing conveys great outrage — "horrifying," "nefarious,""obviously racist" — but that outrage is not inconsistent with lying. He's trying to push back those who would discredit him, and perhaps we should take a big step much further back and wonder why a man should ever need or care about whether or not he had a "light-skinned black" father? But King has made progress in the world through his self-presentation as a black man, though that light-skinned black father was only a story — true or false — told by his mother.

The Black Lives Matter movement calls us to become more race conscious as we perceive and think about great social and political issues. It is possible to go that direction without getting into the details about the authenticity of particular individuals. I mean it is possible for particular individuals to stick to the general patterns and issues. You're not going to get everyone to do that. So we end up with the strategy of calling those who question the authenticity of individuals as "horrifying," "nefarious,"and "obviously racist."

August 20, 2015

Bad Lip Reading does the GOP debate.

"Google’s search algorithm can easily shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more..."

"... up to 80 percent in some demographic groups—with virtually no one knowing they are being manipulated, according to experiments I conducted recently with Ronald E. Robertson."
Given that many elections are won by small margins, this gives Google the power, right now, to flip upwards of 25 percent of the national elections worldwide. In the United States, half of our presidential elections have been won by margins under 7.6 percent, and the 2012 election was won by a margin of only 3.9 percent—well within Google’s control.

"Sheriff’s investigators are expected to offer evidence to prosecutors that could lead a manslaughter charge against Caitlyn Jenner..."

"... for her role in a fatal car crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Calif., in February."
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, Nicole Nishida, said Thursday that investigators had found that Ms. Jenner was driving in a manner “unsafe for the prevailing road conditions” when her sport utility vehicle rear-ended a Lexus, pushing it into oncoming traffic....

The crash occurred months before Ms. Jenner’s gender transition.... In early June, Ms. Jenner revealed her new identity on the cover of Vanity Fair and became a sensation on social media when the magazine posted the article online.

On the subway in St. Petersburg, "there is no trash, no litter, no graffiti. It is clean down there."

"Remarkably tidy for a nation that doesn't have the reputation for being pristine. And no, I did not see a cleaning squad attending to human slovenliness. I saw an occasional (but rare) guard, that's all," writes my colleague Nina, with excellent photographs.
And I saw a populace that is proud. Too proud to deface what is regarded as uniquely grand, uniquely theirs.

Which brings me to the final point: the metro was built in the years just before and after the death of Stalin. The stations are a work of art. Soviet art. There isn't a better place to come face to face with it than at the metro stations.

Times have changed since the days of Lenin or Stalin. We're back to Russia now, as opposed to the Soviet Union. And Saint Petersburg, as opposed to Leningrad. But although the city name has changed and the commercial face of Russia has surely changed too, moving further and further from the post-revolution communist rhetoric of its leaders, here -- unlike in Poland [where Nina grew up] -- the monuments to those leaders have, for the most part remained in place...

Perhaps this is true to some extent in most countries: we, too, have trouble letting go of glorified images of generals and leaders whose period of governance did not exactly embrace all the values we claim to hold dear. But in Poland, the erasure of a communist past has proceeded rapidly following the return to market capitalism. The changing of Warsaw street names is a prime example of this. Not so here....

On the Valley of Fire Highway...

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... you can go wherever you want.

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"And then I was alone. Naked, scrubbed clean, wounds lubed, facing the little white entryway that led to the Ocean Float Tank."

"It looked like the door to a kiln, or a wood-fire oven. I wondered: What awaited me on the other side during my hour of floating? What would I discover when stripped of all sensory information?"
Initially, what I discovered was where exactly all my unhealed cuts were: Nothing like a thousand pounds of Epsom salt mixed into ten inches of water to remind you of that blister on the back of your foot....

Before entering my Ocean Float Room, I had been told that the experience would heighten my senses: The world would seem more vibrant, so I should think carefully about what I wanted to see, feel, hear, taste, and feel immediately after leaving. If I had it my way, I’d have eaten pizza and had sex, but sadly, it was a workday. I biked off into Brooklyn, which smelled extra like pee.

Gov. Scott Walker is still talking about a teacher who's said she does "not enjoy being associated with Walker's political campaign."

She's made it clear that Walker does "not have permission from me to use my story in this manner, and he still does not have my permission."

The woman is Megan Sampson, who won an award as Outstanding First-Year Teacher but then got laid off:
The anecdote is often used by Walker to explain why he believed his 2011 legislation to curb collective bargaining rights for most public employees was needed. Under the district's union contract's seniority rules, a good teacher was laid off because she was recently hired, he has said....

"My opinions about the union have changed over the past eight months, and I am hurt that this story is being used to make me the poster child for this political agenda," Sampson told the Journal Sentinel. "Bottom line: I am trying to do my job and all this attention is interference and stress for me."
It's not surprising that a young woman making her way in the teaching profession in Wisconsin would feel stressed having her name associated with Walker's.

Interesting locution: "My opinions about the union have changed over the past eight months...."

Why did her opinions about the union change? Where is the stress coming from? Walker?

"The father of a 20-year-old woman let her drown in Dubai rather than let lifeguards rescue her."

"Two rescue men were at the beach and they rushed to help the girl. However, [the father] considered that if these men touched his daughter, then this would dishonor her. It cost him the life of his daughter. The father was a strong and tall man. He started pulling and preventing the rescue men and got violent with them. He told them that he prefers his daughter being dead than being touched by a strange man."

The father was arrested.

"Radio hosts tell woman live on air her husband had Ashley Madison account."

"We’re putting him into this website right now and his details have revealed that he’s actually on the website, Jo."

The most interesting sentence in the NYT inquiry into whether MFA writing programs are worth it.

"You might undertake an M.F.A. because it offers you some grant money and time, or because it gives you a student visa and an opportunity to escape."

"Trump waxed on almost poetically about the wall that could bear his name on the Southwest border."

Writes Noah Bierman, awkwardly, in the L.A. Times.
“I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they're going to call it the Trump wall,” he said.
I don't know what's poetic or almost poetic about that, but one doesn't wax on poetically. One waxes poetic.

The verb "wax" means to grow, increase, or become. You become an adjective, not an adverb. From the OED draft additions of 2006:
intr. To speak or write (increasingly) in the manner specified; esp. in to wax lyrical, to wax eloquent...
Historical examples in the OED: "he gallant colonel then gallantly waxed eloquent in praise of women" (1842), "He had the genius of taste except at certain moments when the Massenet slumbering in the heart of every Frenchman awoke and waxed lyrical" (1911).

My favorite "wax" quote is from the Marx Brothers ("Horse Feathers"):
Wagstaff's Receptionist: Oh, Professor, the Dean of Science wants to know how soon you can see him. He says he's tired of cooling his heels out here.

Professor Wagstaff: Tell him I'm cooling a couple of heels in here....

Wagstaff's Receptionist: The Dean is furious! He's waxing wroth!

Professor Wagstaff: Is Roth out there, too? Tell Roth to wax the Dean for a while.

"Vice President Joseph Biden, who is spending his time in seclusion, contemplating whether to take on Secretary Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries for president, has some new information to consider."

"In head-to-head matchups against the three leading contenders for the Republican nomination, he runs as well or slightly better than she does."

A new Quinnipiac poll. PDF.

The September GOP debate might not include Carly Fiorina.

It's another top-10 debate and...
The CNN debate methodology, released earlier this year, weighs polls from July 16 to Sept. 10....

The network also has other qualifications it is considering, including a candidate having paid staff in two of the four early-voting states.

Based on calculations for the 11 qualifying polls that have been conducted since July 16 — two of which were conducted since the Fox News debate — the main debate stage would look the same as it did earlier this month.

As with the Fox News debate, Govs. John Kasich (Ohio) and Chris Christie (N.J.) are tied for the last two spots, with 3.3 percent.

At 1.6 percent, Fiorina would need to average 5 percent, her best performance to date, for 11 straight polls to rise above the two governors, as long as their percentages did not rise as well.

"Martin O'Malley is trying to catch fire in California."

Headline at the L.A. Times.

Why not? Everything else is on fire in California, and there's no water to put it out.

ADDED: "California Wildfires: Can Burning Marijuana Fields Get You High?"

High enough to get excited about Martin O'Malley?

"I’m Sorry I Didn’t Respond to Your Email, My Husband Coughed to Death Two Years Ago."

This is a great piece of writing, by Rachel Ward.

Via Metafilter.

August 19, 2015

It's so easy for a rat to climb-swim up into your toilet.

"He was very connected to his city and to the antiquities, and he was old. Where would he want to go at that age?"

"He said that whatever was going to happen to the people would happen to him."

The beheading of "Mr. Palmyra."

In the Valley of Fire.

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Up there, a man kowtows to a woman.

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"The video is visceral and raw: Hillary Rodham Clinton... in a tense, awkward, unscripted moment."

"A Black Lives Matter activist demands, at great length, that Mrs. Clinton acknowledge her culpability for supporting criminal justice policies put in place by her husband’s administration that wound up harming black Americans — and say how she would change 'hearts and minds' to address what he calls a virulent strain of 'anti-blackness' that reaches all the way back to slavery."

ADDED: I didn't experience the encounter as "tense" and "awkward." I thought the "Black Lives Matter" man was gentle and reasonable, and Hillary Clinton may have nodded a bit too robotically as he spoke, but when she got her chance to speak, she spoke like what she is, a politician. She advised the group to come up with specific goals that could be fought for and achieved. She let it show that she didn't think much about the idea of changing everyone's "heart," but I thought that was fine. If a politician could do much to change hearts, Obama would have done it. That's not Hillary's style.

A video promoting a University of Alabama sorority has been taken down because it was perceived as blindingly blonde.

"The university was quick to disavow the video. A statement from the school’s associate vice president for university relations, Deborah Lane, said that the video 'is not reflective of UA’s expectations for student organizations to be responsible digital citizens.'"

"Blindingly blonde" is my expression. I was going to say "insufficiently diverse," but that didn't really convey the problem. Here, see and judge for yourself:



ADDED: For context, here's a Buzzfeed article from last year titled "University Of Alabama’s Sororities Still Resist Integrating/Seven months after allegations of racism were raised, little has changed. 'There is a strong sense of ‘There’s nothing you can do about it.'" Excerpt:
UA sophomore Khortlan Patterson, a black woman from Houston, was offered multiple bids to join Alabama’s traditionally white Panhellenic sororities but turned them down. “I don’t want to pay $6,000 a year to get criticized and ostracized,” Patterson said. “I don’t want to pay money to be a part of that.”

Instead, Patterson pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first historically African-American sorority. She considered joining a Panhellenic chapter in order to push change from the inside, but ultimately, Patterson decided it would have been more of a trial than an opportunity.

“No one’s going to say flat out, ‘You can’t hang out with us because we don’t consider you to be our sister.’ But I think that in their actions it would probably be communicated in that way.”

"A Liberal Who Wants America to Win... An Anarchist Who Revels in Destruction... I Just Want to Watch the Chaos..."

"... a Corrective to American Culture’s Pathologies... the Rage of the White Middle Class... a Gamble Worth Taking... Bizarro Obama...  the Picture of American Greatness... the Lead in a Fabulous Mockumentary... Make the Speech Police Go Away...."

From 30 answers to the question of what Donald Trump supporters see in him.

If you had to redo your kitchen to look like the kitchen on a TV show, what show would you pick?

"The Simpsons"?! It's an insane color scheme — and where do you even get corn-cob fabric for the curtains? — but one Canadian couple is doing it and claiming to find comfort.

"As video killed the radio star, technology has finished off clubs."

"It was never about the music. It was about meeting people. Why go to the trouble of preening yourself and making a huge effort when it’s easier to meet someone on Tinder?"
Attracting a mate was once a type of performance art. To stand out from the crowd you needed exceptional clothes or super dance moves. To seal the deal, smooth chatter helped. Naturally this favored the gregarious. Shrinking violets got stuck on the shelf....

Music is suffering too. It needs clubs. In an era where only idiots like me pay for music, without nighttime gigs, musicians and DJs simply cannot make a living.

Future generations will probably react with horror when we regale them with our - highly censored - nightclub stories. I'll remember the glory days....

August 18, 2015

"Shark!"

"The cover of the Post was a photograph of a slightly sinister man, looking like a dealer, in a top hat and face paint—an evil Pied Piper."

"That photograph was what the Diggers meant by 'media poisoning.'"



The Diggers refused to talk to Joan Didion as she tried to gather material in 1967 for the essay that became the famous "Slouching Towards Bethlehem." They discerned (correctly) that she was part of the mainstream media's agenda, demonizing the hippie counterculture, according to Louis Menand in his New Yorker article, "Out of Bethlehem/The radicalization of Joan Didion."
Didion presented her article as an investigation into what she called “social hemorrhaging.” She suggested that what was going on in Haight-Ashbury was the symptom of some sort of national unravelling. But she knew that, at the level of “getting the story,” her piece was a failure. She could see, with the X-ray clarity she appears to have been born with, what was happening on the street; she could make her readers see it; but she couldn’t explain it....

Didion came from a family of Republicans.... [I]n 1960, she began contributing to The National Review, William F. Buckley’s conservative weekly. She wrote pieces about John Wayne, her favorite movie star, and, in the 1964 Presidential election, she voted for Barry Goldwater. She adored Goldwater. It was hardly a surprise that she found Haight-Ashbury repugnant. Her editors at the Post understood perfectly how she would react. They designed the cover before she handed in the piece....

"Denied legal access to pornography, China’s 649 million web users have often afforded unusually high status to low-grade footage of amateur sexual activity."

"If the ensuing fuss over the Uniqlo tape — numerous memes, T-shirts, and tattoos — seemed a little much, the heavy-handed response, which included arrests and reprimands, was undoubtedly so. Vowing to completely purge the Internet of all such content, Beijing managed to place an otherwise unremarkable video along the fault lines of free speech: between a twitchy, humorless bureaucracy and a shrinking public space in which feminist activists, rights lawyers, and student exhibitionists are all squeezed."

From "Why Is China So Fascinated by Amateur Porn?/Beijing's unwillingness to acknowledge a sexual revolution has helped boring sex tapes go wildly viral" in Foreign Policy.

"I seriously had no idea it would be that lovely... the artifacts that you begin to see —  mushroom clouds and little rivulets of gases forming on flame fronts of pressure waves!"

"I'm not sure that many people in the world have even looked at... It's just really cool."

#HeidiTrumpsTrump.



(This is a response to Trump having said that Klum is "no longer a 10.")

"We need to find ways of genuinely enjoying, not just respecting, each other’s company again."

"That doesn’t require that everyone do the same thing in common—a giant left sing-along.  It does require that we build into our organizational plans some explicit space for quiet, for informal get-togethers, for family activities and parties (sedate and rowdy), for discussion groups, rock bands, street theater, softball teams.  We should be much more inviting.  Come on in, let’s take the country back, this is going to be a kick—that should be the message people get, along with no apologies for the extreme seriousness of what we’re about.  We’re fighting now for democracy, for the dignity of our own lives.  And we are losing.  To win, we need to get serious, come together, and get moving."

Spoken 20 years ago.

Shows we saw in Las Vegas.

1. Murray Sawchuck:

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2. Cirque du Soleil, "Love":

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#2 is the entrance area. That's just some lady posing for someone else's picture, not a Cirque du Soleil performer. You can't take pictures inside that show, and how incredibly annoying people would be if you could. But at Murray's show, we were encouraged to take photographs. The small shows, I take it, are hoping for a social media lift. We saw a third small show, Gordie Brown, and you could take pictures but I never felt moved to do so. Murray's small-time stage seemed deliberately sadly bad, and I got a pleasurable Neil-Hamburger-ish vibe from the thing. Even though the magic tricks worked, the patter tended to circle around the idea that the audience wasn't paying attention and might be asleep or dumb. That's something comedians in small clubs have done forever. As for Gordie Brown, he tended to mock himself when we didn't laugh enough. Maybe it was because he was doing impersonations of celebrities from long ago — Katharine Hepburn, Sammy Davis Jr., The Bee Gees — and he genuinely worried that the audience was too young to know them. Maybe he felt sheepish about the empty seats in the audience. All the seats were filled at Murray's show, including the 4 seats my group filled for free, having scored tickets through a seat-filling scheme that local residents like my brother can tap into.

ADDED: I was going to say there was nothing special about the visual experience of Gordie Brown's show, and that's why I don't have a photograph. But there was. It was just too hard to capture. He was excellent at making his face look like the person he was imitating. This was one reason he spent so much time on Sammy Davis. He really nailed that blind-in-one-eye look.

"There is a great deal of scripture that sanctions slavery."

"You can argue that it is no longer relevant and has fallen into abeyance. ISIS would argue that these institutions need to be revived, because that is what the Prophet and his companions did."

Said Cole Bunzel, a scholar of Islamic theology at Princeton University, quoted in "ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape/Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool."

Also: "They laughed and jeered at us, saying ‘You are our sabaya [slave]'... He told us that Taus Malik [one of seven angels to whom the Yazidis pray] is not God. He said that Taus Malik is the devil and that because you worship the devil, you belong to us. We can sell you and use you as we see fit."

"Rod Stewart left to pay huge bar tab after offering fans in Celtic kits a 'free beer' following Vegas residency."

Unlike The Independent, which reports this "news," Stewart used the word "shirt," so Americans understood what he was tweeting about.

"You need to repent from all the reasons – which are caused by this treacherous Satan and his friends – that bother you."

"Those who believe fight on the way of God, while disbelievers fight on the way of Satan."

"Satan" = Turkey's President Recep Erdoğan.

"Here’s the problem: Those numbers [Carly Fiorina] is referencing aren’t Hewlett-Packard’s profit. They are the company’s revenue."

"And if you make enough acquisitions — especially one the size of Compaq — you can inflate your revenue figures. You can also buy growth. When a Washington Post columnist looked at her business record and suggested the numbers Mrs. Fiorina cited were misleading, her team attacked him in a point-by-point rebuttal, showing facts and figures from securities filings to back her assertions. The problem isn’t that the numbers aren’t accurate — they are; it is that the company’s expansion was a function of an aggressive acquisition strategy. The trick to real business success is increasing profitability. That’s where her explanation of her firing — 'I was fired in a boardroom brawl,' she says — is only half right. It was a brawl, but the company was unquestionably damaged."

From "Carly Fiorina’s Business Record: Not So Sterling."

"It is not too early to identify the sleeper case of the last Supreme Court term."

"In an otherwise minor decision about a municipal sign ordinance, the court in June transformed the First Amendment."
Though just two months old, [Reed v. Town of Gilbert] has already required lower courts to strike down laws barring panhandling, automated phone calls and “ballot selfies.”

The ordinance in the Reed case discriminated against signs announcing church services in favor of ones promoting political candidates....

The key move in Justice Thomas’s opinion was the vast expansion of what counts as content-based [and thus subject to strict scrutiny]. The court used to say laws were content-based if they were adopted to suppress speech with which the government disagreed.

Justice Thomas took a different approach. Any law that singles out a topic for regulation, he said, discriminates based on content and is therefore presumptively unconstitutional.

Securities regulation is a topic. Drug labeling is a topic. Consumer protection is a topic....

August 17, 2015

Signs of Las Vegas.

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(I'm back in Madison. These are pictures taken last week.)

"She almost grabbed her crotch when she said that. Did you notice?"

I said, watching this video of Carly Fiorina.

But the important thing is she didn't. Also, she had on a nice "farm girl" costume, suitable for the location, the Iowa State Fair.

"New post alert."/"I hope it's Scott Walker, unintimidated."/"I already rejected that. I am not intimidated by Scott Walker's unintimidated."

 Overheard at Meadhouse, just now.

"The Islamic State has proved adept at appealing to different female profiles, using girl-to-girl recruitment strategies, gendered imagery and iconic memes."

"As Muslims, the girls would be treated very differently from women and girls of the Yazidi minority, who are taken by the Islamic State as slaves and raped with the justification that they are unbelievers. The group runs a 'marriage bureau' for single Western women. This year, the media wing of Al Khanssaa Brigade, an all-female morality militia, published a manifesto stipulating that women complete their formal education at age 15 and that they can be married as young as 9, but also praising their existence in the Islamic State as 'hallowed.'... Social media has allowed the group’s followers to directly target young women, reaching them in the privacy of their bedrooms with propaganda that borrows from Western pop culture — images of jihadists in the sunset and messages of empowerment. A recent post linked to an Islamic State account paraphrased a popular L’Oréal makeup ad next to the image of a girl in a head scarf: 'COVERed GIRL. Because I’m worth it.'"

From  "Jihad and Girl Power: How ISIS Lured 3 London Teenagers" (in the NYT).

It will never be possible to upload your mind — your consciousness — into a computer.

"Celebrity Hampers Clinton’s Effort to Connect With Iowans."

Front-page teaser in The New York Times for an article titled "Hillary Clinton Seeks to Connect With Iowans, but Celebrity Gets in Way."

I read the teaser out loud and Meade said "Celebrity and criminality...."

The article, by Amy Chozick, quotes former Senator Tom Harkin saying "She just needs to come out and meet Iowans, and the rest will fall into place" and then tries to show why that's so hard for Hillary to do. She's surrounded by "a dozen Secret Service agents, state troopers and staff members, as well as a horde of reporters, photographers and videographers." So "Iowans could hardly get close enough to take photographs of the former secretary of state, much less talk to her."
As Mrs. Clinton went along the route that had been mapped out for her at the fair, she posed for 42 pictures. She raved about being a grandmother (“It’s the best!”), examined a Monopoly-themed sculpture made of butter (“I love it!”), asked if Iowa had any zoning programs to help out small farms (it does) and gave an evasive “Sounds good!” to a fairgoer who asked if she would attend a tailgate party sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

All the while, Mrs. Clinton’s celebrity had a way of encroaching on her efforts to show she can be just like everybody else. Only the reality TV star-turned-Republican candidate Donald J. Trump attracted more attention.
Well, does Trump's celebrity keep him from connecting to Iowans?

If Hillary wanted to get close to the common people, she would. I'm just not buying those headlines and that spin, and I don't think the NYT readers are buying it either. Here's the top-rated comment there now:
Celebrity gets in the way? I don't think that's the issue. Connection between people involves some level of trust. Mrs. Clinton trusts nobody, and a dwindling minority of voters trusts Mrs. Clinton. That mutual distrust prevents any hope of "connection," not her celebrity.
ADDED: Celebrity hampers are a good place to hide your dirty laundry, and Hillary has a lot of it.

"From the time I was 11, it was, 'You're a pop star!' That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair..."

"... and you have to put on some glittery tight thing.' Meanwhile, I'm this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. It was like Toddlers & Tiaras. I had fucking flippers.... I was told for so long what a girl is supposed to be from being on that show. I was made to look like someone that I wasn't, which probably caused some body dysmorphia because I had been made pretty every day for so long, and then when I wasn't on that show, it was like, Who the fuck am I?

Said Miley Cyrus.

What does "I had fucking flippers" mean? Flippers like people who redo homes and sell them? Flippers like the children with birth defects? Flippers like faster than lightning... a world full of wonder... under the sea?



Hey, I wonder how Luke Halpin is doing. Was he told you're a pop star, that means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair and and you have to put on some glittery tight thing?

"I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in/I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in..."

I had to look up the lyric to what I'm reading is "the bizarre second verse" of "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," which Kenny Rogers sang at his (apparently terrible) show at the Wisconsin State Fair last night.
His voice was flat and thin for much of the 21-song, 80-minute set, giving out a few times, and when he aimed to hit an exuberant high note, like on "It's a Beautiful Life" and "Through the Years," his voice crashed and burned, exploding into a sour squawk....

But I did appreciate Rogers reciting the bizarre second verse a cappella, sounding like William Shatner performing spoken-word poetry, to emphasize how "screwed up" people were in the '60s.
ADDED: I pushed my soul into the deep dark hole of this blog's archive to retrospectively add the Kenny Rogers tag. I don't particularly follow the doings of Kenny Rogers, but:

November 19, 2007: "Althouse on Mancow": "I'm going to be on... talking about — of all things — plastic surgery.... Well, I was on for a little over a minute, much of which had Mancow naming celebrities I hadn't looked at recently. Kenny Rogers? What does he look like now? I have no idea...."

April 4, 2006: An episode of "American Idol": "Country week, and worse, the guest star is Kenny Rogers (who is bizarrely unrecognizable). We see the 'kids' acting like they're having a fine old time singing 'The Gambler.' You've got to know when this is bullshit."

April 5, 2006: The follow-on episode of "American Idol": "Kenny Rogers sings a song. I TiVo ahead."

August 21, 2004: "a very touching appearance by Brian Wilson on The Larry King Show last night":
He says that he doesn't listen to the old Beach Boys records.

B. WILSON: No, we don't wallow in the mire over the Beach Boys. I used to listen to Andy Williams and Kenny Rogers and stuff like that. Perry Como and Nat King Cole, of course, that was our song, "When I Fall in Love" was our song. "When I fall in love, it will be forever" -- you know, that song....

"How doctors want to die is different than most people."

More death-panelistic propaganda. This one's from CNN.

Don't have a cat door!



There's nothing about a cat door that restricts it to cats.

August 16, 2015

"We can now name the winner of the GOP debate: Ben Carson."

Says Philip Bump, graphing the polls.

"This painting by Wojciech Fangor is one of the most canonical works of Polish socialist realism."



"In the canvas, there are two women."
The one of the left hand side is the antagonist: slim, in a fitted, fashionable dress, patterned with English writing (Miami, New York, Wall Street, London, Coca-cola). Her manicured hands, which surely haven’t been calloused by hard labour, hold an elegant green bag....

[The woman on the right] is proud, relaxed, resting one of her hands on her hip, and the other – on a shovel’s handle. She is strong, self-assured, and natural. Under the rolled up sleeves of her jumpsuit we see well-built forearms....

In the background, we see a symbolic representation of the effects of these two positions. On the left hand side, there are ruins.... while on the right, behind the workers, we see a freshly constructed, multi-storey building with rows of windows divided by simple architectonic elements, in a typical socialist realist style. Even the weather in the painting is meaningful. The clear blue sky on the right side of the composition seems to be threatened by the clouds approaching from above the ruins....
What I love about this picture is that for all the heavy nudging to feel revulsion toward the woman in white, she's really rather fabulous. Love the sunglasses. Love the writing on the dress. And I really love the way painted propaganda backfires. The fact that the man is looking askance at her while he maintains a possessive grip on the shoulder of jumpsuit lady transforms the woman we were supposed to hate into a feminist icon. It's no longer obvious that she's not working. She could be working in the tech industry. She's getting on with her pursuits, not wasting energy disapproving of other people. Yes, she's keeping a grip on her handbag, but I would too. Those surly disapprovers look ready to expropriate it.

"Asked to plot themselves on a 'sexuality scale,' 23% of British people choose something other than 100% heterosexual..."

"... and the figure rises to 49% among 18-24 year olds."

"The Trigger Warning Myth/Coddled students aren't the cause of a mental health crisis on campus. They're just pawns in the culture wars."

A piece in The New Republic by Aaron R. Hanlon reacting to that Atlantic article "The Coddling of the American Mind" by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

Hanlon says:
I write this as a professor.... Here’s a brief and by no means exhaustive list of things I’ve carefully selected for college syllabi and deliberately taught in college courses: a pair of poems about impotence and premature ejaculation; a satire about slaughtering human infants and feeding them to the poor; a poem that uses the c-word twice in a mere 33 lines, and describes King Charles II in coitus with his mistress with the phrase “his dull, graceless bollocks hang an arse”; a novel in which a wealthy man gets his maid to marry him by kidnapping her and continually cornering her with unwanted sexual advances; a graphic history of the torture methods and other cruelties done to African slaves leading up to the Haitian Revolution; a poem written in the voice of a male domestic servant and attempted rapist contacting his victim from prison....

"I probably identify more as a farmer [than a football player]... Around here, I'm just the farm kid that they have always known."

Said Jordy Nelson.

Great pics at the link. Farmboy beefcake.

"Who do you talk to for your military advice?" "Well, I watch the shows..."

Donald Trump, answering a question from Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" just now.

This was after he laid out his plan for dealing with ISIS, which is to go in and take their money, take over the oil fields and use that money to take care of the wounded veterans and their families.

This is a real, in-person interview, not a phone-in.

"But I think you can’t be with the person if it’s not love, if they don’t satisfy you."

"You can’t hug a beautiful apartment. You can’t hug an airplane. You can’t talk to them."

Says Melania Trump, to whom the press has been, in her opinion, "mean."

And, by the way: "We have incredible sex at least once a day... Sometimes even more."

Rolling.

A man in a "High Roller" T-shirt and a woman holding one of those tall glasses wait for a vicious truck to pass:

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"Kick Me in the Nuts" gets attention...

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... and I'm sure he gets more handouts — for nothing (you're not going to pay $20 to kick him) — than most of the sign-holders of Las Vegas.

A dog sizzles on hot pavement next to a sign that says "Fish [something] Asshole":

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Headless Minnie Mouse drinks a Coke:

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The Ellen slot machines.

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Photographed Friday night in Las Vegas, U.S.A.

Goodbye to Julian Bond.

"Julian Bond, a former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a charismatic figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, a lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and a lifelong champion of equal rights for minorities, died on Saturday night, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was 75."

I remember when I believed the next 3 Presidents would be Bobby Kennedy, John Lindsay, and Julian Bond.

I remember when Julian Bond was nominated for the office of Vice President — video here — at the 1968 Democratic Convention. This was done by the Wisconsin delegation for the symbolism and in protest. "It may be a symbolic nomination tonight, but it may not be symbolic 4 years hence."

Julian Bond was only 28, far too young to meet the constitutional minimum. Even "4 years hence," he would be too young.

ADDED: Here's Julian Bond, many years later, interviewing Clarence Thomas:

"Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed... They said, 'You're still our teammate. You're still our brother."

"'We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You're still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don't treat you any different. We've got your back.' That was a giant relief for me... I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality."

David Denson, the Milwaukee Brewer and the first openly gay baseball player.

EMD called attention to that in the previous comments thread. I didn't realize none of the baseball players had identified themselves as gay yet.

Oh, wait a minute. He's not even a major league player! I don't even know why this is news. A minor league player is openly gay? Good lord, the lack of social progress surprises me sometimes. Haven't we done this already? Wake me up when the many gay major leaguers break their silence. That Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article is long. For a minor leaguer!

At the Jet Lag Café...

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... I'm still on Pacific Time, but I'll be fully back soon. Watching the Sunday morning shows with Meade. Meanwhile, carry on. Talk about whatever you like.

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