February 3, 2018

"I stand as both a person who was subjected to it and a person who was then also part of the cloud cover, so that’s a super weird split to have."

Said Uma Thurman, quoted in "This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry/The actress is finally ready to talk about Harvey Weinstein" by Maureen Dowd in the NYT.
"The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was,” she told me one recent night, looking anguished in her elegant apartment in River House on Manhattan’s East Side, as she vaped tobacco, sipped white wine and fed empty pizza boxes into the fireplace.

“I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of ‘Kill Bill,’ a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do.”
Much more at the link. Don't miss the strange story about the car crash.

On the frozen Weeping Rock Trail.



At Blue Mound State Park today, we walked over the narrow bridge, along icy path, and across a frozen waterfall.


ADDED: Meade's view of the waterfall:


Trump leverages the anti-Trump press.

That's my theory, as I read — at Politico — "Trump escalates his war with U.S. law enforcement after memo release/The president hinted openly that he might yet fire senior officials over claims of bias against him."

What did Trump say that "hinted openly that he might yet fire senior officials"?

A reporter asked him if he's "likely to fire Rosenstein" and if he still had "confidence in" someone whose name I couldn't catch (maybe Rosenstein). And Trump just said "You figure that one out."

So the press takes that no-comment comment and runs with it, basically reporting on The Future. What might Trump do?

I was laughing about this last night as I tried to watch CNN. The Nunes memo had just come out, and the night before the memo came out, the talk had been about what might be in the memo, i.e., News of The Future. Once the memo was out, it was old news, because we'd already talked about what was in it, back when it was News of the Future. So the subject had to be who Trump will/will not fire in the coming Saturday Night Massacre.

Trump doesn't need to move a muscle. The media throw his weight around for him.

Like the men who prefer robot women, Nigel the Gannet wanted only the concrete bird.

Articles about Nigel — like this one at The Guardian — stress his popularity with humans as he seemed to embody loneliness. There were 80 concrete decoy gannets on the New Zealand island of Mana, and for years Nigel was the only live gannet. Nigel had his one decoy love. He groomed "her." He built nests for her for years. This was deemed tragic.

Then 3 other real gannets came to Mana.
But [Nigel] never showed any interest in the real-life birds, said [Department of Conservation ranger Chris Bell], instead remaining “aloof”, chattering to his concrete mate while the real-life birds got on with business in a different part of the colony.
Within 3 weeks, Nigel died. Bell found his body in the midst of the concrete birds.

Now, what lesson do we learn? If this were a children's book story, it would be saying something about human beings, but what?

1. True love is what really matters. Nigel loved. He loved when he needed love, and no matter how little love he received in return, he remained loyal to the end.

2. Some individuals commit so hard to a mistake that they'd rather die than admit they are wrong.

3. Some individuals are oriented toward things that you cannot understand. Maybe you should respect their difference rather than deploring their inability to get with the crowd.

4. If you allow yourself to become fixated on something that is not a real fellow creature, you will lose your capacity to see real fellow creatures and you will die in your ignorance. Tragic!

"Someone who survived the Holocaust and who says 'I was in a Nazi concentration camp because a Pole delivered me to the Germans' could be subject to criminal prosecution" in Poland...

... under a bill proposed by the Polish government, described in "Poland reckons with unintended consequences as Holocaust bill kicks up a storm" (WaPo).
“The government achieved exactly the opposite of what it wanted,” said Piotr Buras, head of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The unintended consequences and the international damage have been huge."...

Having already alienated much of Europe with a law limiting the independence of the Polish judiciary, the Holocaust bill drew an especially stern rebuke from Washington — where President Trump had been considered sympathetic to Warsaw’s defiant brand of right-wing populism....

“The government is in a trap,” Buras said. “They don’t want to ruin their relationship with the United States. At the same time, if they back down now, they would ruin their relationship with the party’s base. And in Poland, this second factor is more important.”
The right-wing in the United States is actually (usually) pro-free-speech.

"I've been meaning to phone you but from Minnesota/Hell it's been a very long time...."

I'm watching this at 6 in the morning not because I'm thinking of Minnesota — à propos of the Super Bowl in Minnesota tomorrow — but because the line "you wear it well" came up in the comments on Tom & Lorenzo's discussion of "Friday Leftovers for the Week of January 28th, 2018": "As for SJP - yea, love it. I feel like she's worn this before, but she wears it well." SJP — Sarah Jessica Parker — is dressed like this.

Speaking of fashion, I love the fashion in that video. Rod seems to be really enjoying his yellow satin pants — to the point of laugh-out-loud comedy. And who has ever done nipples as satirically as Rod in 1975?

How to resolve the discrepancy of opinion over the Nunes memo.

I'm reading "Justice Dept. told court of source’s political influence in request to wiretap ex-Trump campaign aide, officials say" by Ellen Nakashima in The Washington Post:
The court that approved surveillance of a former campaign adviser to President Trump was aware that some of the information underpinning the warrant request was paid for by a political entity, although the application did not specifically name the Democratic National Committee or the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter....

The Justice Department made “ample disclosure of relevant, material facts” to the court that revealed “the research was being paid for by a political entity,” said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

“No thinking person who read any of these applications would come to any other conclusion but that” the work was being undertaken “at the behest of people with a partisan aim and that it was being done in opposition to Trump,” the official said....
So, it seems, the question is whether it was significantly deceptive to give the FISA court enough information to make it possible for the court to infer that the information came from people who were biased against Trump but to withhold the known and specific information that it was paid for by the Democratic National Committee or the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

Can we say that very clearly and ask fair-minded people if withholding the specific information and including only general information was the the way the Justice Department should interact with the FISA court?

Secondly, exactly how was this general information phrased? The unnamed official in the WaPo article says there was "ample disclosure" — but how much disclosure was there? WaPo is reporting that the application "did not specifically name the Democratic National Committee or the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign," which is to say that the application did not name the Democratic National Committee or the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. It did something else that's supposedly just as good or almost as good or not good enough at all.

I want to know exactly what the language was and how deceptive it may have been, and I'd like to see the opinion of some named experts who have been expressing themselves over a long period of time about the role of the FISA court. I don't want Trump-specific opinions. I want to hear from experts whose opinion of working with FISA extends back into the Bush administration.

Meanwhile, listen to Glenn Greenwald calling on his fellow lefties to remember their conscience:

IN THE COMMENTS: exhelodrvr1 said:
So is it normal to not give the FISA court the entire picture? If so, that would mean that the FISA court is aware of that, which is really scary.
Great question, because if the argument is what was done is fine because it's normal, we need to talk about the problem with FISA normal.

And it's an old exercise, and I hate to trot out clichés, but imagine if the Bush Justice Department had used the FISA court to get a warrant to surveil people on Barack Obama's presidential campaign by using evidence that came from someone paid by the RNC and the John McCain campaign and the application for the warrant had omitted naming the RNC and the John McCain campaign.

February 2, 2018

At the Photofree Cafe....

... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And you can buy what you want at Amazon by using The Althouse Portal.)

"A trainload of Republicans on their way to a pricey retreat hit a garbage truck. My friend Russ calls that karma...."

"Of COURSE sorry the truck driver died.... A rather thoughtless tweet from me concerning the train-truck crash, for which I apologize (if one is necessary). It should be pointed out, too, that those Republican politicians, who can be heartless when they vote, immediately got out to help."

Stephen King tweets and then tries to right himself with an apology "if one is necessary," which perhaps it's not, since word is the truck driver did not die, but is merely injured.

Words used in a presidential joint address to Congress for the first time this year include "spine," "legend," "motto," "unaccustomed."

Also "booby" (in "booby-trapped") and "crutches," "respiration," "tormentors," and "timelines." Trump was also the first President since Andrew Jackson to use "weep." Last year, Trump was the first President to say "vile" and "lawn."

I'm reading an article in The Washington Post that lists Trump's new words — along with the corresponding words by Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton.

Obama was first to say "swipe," "antsy," obesity," "laundry," "bump," "bone," and "freak."

Bush was the first to say "waitress," "dripping," "daddy," "mom," "incoherent," "Muslim," and "hotel."

Bill Clinton was first to say "horrendous," "bunch," "mohair," "toys," "punchline," "gay," "baseball," and "heartbroken."

"The House Intelligence Committee has released its controversial memo outlining alleged abuses of secret surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department in the Trump-Russia investigation."

Says Byron York (Washington Examiner), summarizing it, without quoting any text or linking to any text.

ADDED: York asserts that the memo (which I haven't seen) says:
* The Steele dossier formed an essential part of the initial and all three renewal FISA applications against Carter Page.

* Andrew McCabe confirmed that no FISA warrant would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information.

* The political origins of the Steele dossier were known to senior DOJ and FBI officials, but excluded from the FISA applications.

* DOJ official Bruce Ohr met with Steele beginning in the summer of 2016 and relayed to DOJ information about Steele's bias. Steele told Ohr that he, Steele, was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected president and was passionate about him not becoming president.
AND: Now, you can read it for yourself: Here.

ALSO: I'm reading the memo, which is, basically, a list of 5 omissions from what was submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). According to the memo, the court, in order to protect "the rights of Americans" needs to see "information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application" where the government knows this information, as it did for all 5 of these things:

1. The initial application (and the renewal applications) did not disclose the role of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in paying $160,000 to Christopher Steel to compile "the dossier." Nor did it show that Steele was working for Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson, who was paid by the law firm that represented the DNC, or that "Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign."

2. The application made a Yahoo News article (by Michael Isikoff) look like it corroborated the Steele dossier, when it just had material that came from Steele. The application "incorrectly" asserts that the Yahoo News material didn't come from Steele. Steele was later terminated as an FBI source for leaking to Mother Jones in October, but he should have been terminated for these leaks to Yahoo News back in September, which was before the first application to the FISC.

3. Before Steele was terminated as an FBI source, Steele told then-Associate Deputy General Bruce Ohr (who worked closely with Yates and Rosenstein) that he "was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president." That's presumably a quote from Ohr, not Steele, given the "was" (as opposed to an "am"). At the time, Ohr's wife worked for Fusion GPS, doing oppo research on Trump, and this info was presented to the FISC without specifying its origin.

4. This point doesn't specify an additional omission. It talks about internal opinion at the FBI about the inadequacy of the Steele dossier.

5. The application refers to Papadopoulos, and the Papadopoulos investigation was opened in July 2016 by Pete Strzok, who had to be reassigned because of his "demonstrated clear bias against Trump."

MORE: Here's the response from the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. It calls the majority's memo "a shameful effort to discredit" the Department of Justice and the FBI and "a transparent effort to suppress the full truth," so what I'm looking for as I read this is something terribly important that's missing from the majority's memo.

"There is nothing sexual about it... There could be a backlash from this. But if people decide physical therapists should not do this work..."

"... a lot of women will suffer with pain and a markedly compromised quality of life," said physical therapist, Rhonda Kotarinos, quote in "Pelvic Massage Can Be Legitimate, but Not in Larry Nassar’s Hands" (NYT).
Some patients who come to a physical therapist will say they aren’t comfortable with transvaginal manipulation, and therapists say they utilize it only if the patient both understands what’s involved and freely consents....

Though many women develop pelvic problems after childbirth or later in life, [said Dr. Sangeeta Mahajan, an obstetrician-gynecologist and division chief for Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center], gymnasts are prone to pelvic floor problems because they land hard and slam on to the floor repeatedly. She said it was “not inconceivable” the therapy might be appropriate for them under certain circumstances..

“I use this every day in my own practice,” Dr. Mahajan said....
ADDED: Should little girls be training in an activity that involves slamming their pelvic region into the floor hard and repeatedly in a way that causes pelvic problems otherwise seen after childbirth or later in life? Not all abuse is sexual.

AND: I don’t think I should have written “into the floor.” “Slam on to the floor” most likely means that  the pelvic floor is slammed into equipment such as the uneven parallel bars and the balance beam.

"The view from 'Vera Rubin Ridge' looks back over buttes, dunes and other features along the route...."

Etymology question of the day.

Is the word "effete" related to "fetus"?

ADDED: Perhaps you, like me, first notice this word when Vice President Spiro Agnew read these remarks in Houston, Texas in May 1970. These words (written by William Safire) are interestingly relevant today, so I'll print this out in full:
Sometimes it appears that we're reaching a period when our senses and our minds will no longer respond to moderate stimulation. We seem to be reaching an age of the gross, persuasion through speeches and books is too often discarded for disruptive demonstrations aimed at bludgeoning the unconvinced into action. The young--and by this I'd don't mean any stretch of the imagination all the young, but I'm talking about those who claim to speak for the young--at the zenith of physical power and sensitivity, overwhelm themselves with drugs and artificial stimulants. Subtlety is lost, and fine distinctions based on acute reasoning are carelessly ignored in a headlong jump to a predetermined conclusion. Life is visceral rather than intellectual. And the most visceral practitioners of life are those who characterize themselves as intellectuals. Truth is to them revealed rather than logically proved. And the principal infatuations of today revolve around the social sciences, those subjects which can accommodate any opinion, and about which the most reckless conjecture cannot be discredited. Education is being redefined at the demand of the uneducated to suit the ideas of the uneducated. The student now goes to college to proclaim, rather than to learn. The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated, and a contemporary antagonism known as "The Generation Gap." A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.
ALSO: I cut and pasted that text from The Pacifica Radio/UC Berkeley Social Activism Sound Recording Project, where "corps" was transcribed as "core," perhaps under the misimpression (recently displayed by President Obama) that "corps" is pronounced "corpse."

AND: I came across this topic reading a David Foster Wallace essay, "Twenty-Four Word Notes" (in this collection):
Effete — Here’s a word on which some dictionaries and usage authorities haven’t quite caught up with the realities of literate usage. Yes, the traditional meaning of effete is “depleted of vitality, washed out, exhausted”— and in a college paper for an older prof. you’d probably want to use it in only that way. But a great many educated people accept effete now also as a pejorative synonym for elite or elitist, one with an added suggestion of effeminacy, over-refinement, pretension, and/ or decadence; and in this writer’s opinion it is not a boner to use effete this way, since no other word has quite its connotative flavor. Traditionalists who see the extended definition as an error often blame Spiro Agnew’s characterization of some liberal group or other as an “effete corps of impudent snobs,” but there are deeper reasons for the extension, such as that effete derives from the Latin effetus, which meant “worn out from bearing children” and thus had an obvious feminine connotation. Or that historically effete was often used to describe artistic movements that had exhausted their vitality, and one of the main characteristics of a kind of art’s exhaustion was its descent into excessive refinement or foppery or decadence.

My personal blog-survival challenge seems to involve lettuce.

Here's the Instapundit post. If you're not using AdBlock, perhaps you will get a different personal challenge.

Don't know much about football...

Just so you don't think you need to tell me.

6 more weeks of winter.

"American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up."

I agree. In the long run... etc. etc.

But living in the middle of a short run — and the quote is from a James Comey tweet yesterday — we have to always wonder: Who among us are the weasels? And: Am I really one of the good people? Do the good people know they are the good people or is thinking you're a good person one of the characteristics of a weasel?

The tweet is reported here in the NYT, which also says:
Comey has also used language about "weasels" before, most notably in a September 2016 congressional hearing when he defended the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

"You can call us wrong, but don't call us weasels," Comey said. "We're not weasels."
Don't call us weasels. We're not weasels had a Trumpian ring to it. I was moved to search Donald Trump's twitter feed for the word and look what I found (note the date):

MEANWHILE: Here's Trump's new tweet, showing 2 can play who's-the-weasel:

"In 1961, triplet brothers Robert Shafran, Eddy Gallan and David Kellman were separated at birth and adopted by three different families for a controversial experiment...."

"[W]hen Shafran enrolled in Upstate New York's Sullivan County Community College. He was met with an overwhelmingly warm reception by people who were friends with — and who mistook him for — his brother, Gallan."

The Daily News Reports (on the occasion of a new documentary film).

Random Trump encounter.

I was mindlessly channel-surfing last night and happened to drop in on the old Ben Stiller movie "Zoolander." Had forgotten Trump is in it:

Look, without Donald Trump, American presidenting wouldn’t be what it is today.

I guess Ben Stiller feels some responsibility for the embedding of Donald Trump in the fabric of America. Here's Ben trying to unravel the damage by reading Trump tweets in his Zoolander voice:

ADDED: What an elaborate, devious plan The Donald executed:

"That the FBI has grave concerns should give one pause but should not be dispositive. The important thing is we want the Congress to be able to challenge executive branch determinations that things not be made public."

Said Morton Halperin, who — as the Washington director of the American Civil Liberties Union — helped draft Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He's quoted in "Nunes memo centers on a 40-year-old law written to prevent surveillance abuses" (WaPo). The abuses of 40 years ago included the FBI's warrantless surveillance of American civil rights activists and Vietnam War protesters.
Halperin, who is no supporter of the House GOP, lauded the effort to use the provision, and said Congress should use it more often.

On Monday, the House panel voted along party lines to release the memo. In another vote, the Republican majority essentially blocked the public release of a Democratic memo that seeks to counter the GOP document.
Essentially blocked.... What does that mean?

I have trouble understanding why the Democrats have staked so much on resisting transparency. If I understand it correctly, the argument they offer us is: 1. There is a political motivation to release the formation, 2. The information might not be that accurate or complete, and 3. We should preserve and rely on the good reputation of the FBI.

There's the unstated argument — implicit in all 3 stated arguments — that Democrats have a political motivation to suppress the information.

As to stated argument #1: There's political motivation on both sides. The entire dispute is political. I don't see why this should make me lean toward getting less information. By the way, why hasn't this memo already leaked to the press? Or has it leaked to the press but the press only publishes leaked information that helps Democrats?

Stated argument #2 isn't a reason not to want to see the memo. If it is inaccurate or missing things, it will create pressure to correct and refine it. One thing is necessarily true: What's in the memo is what's in the memo. And that's a truth we need to look at and think and talk about. When X lies, we don't say, we don't need to know what X said, because it's a lie. We say I want to decide for myself how much of a liar X is. I want the truth about the lie.

Argument #3 is perverse. Trust the FBI? I remember the abuses of 40 years ago. If the FBI is trustworthy, the memo and the follow-on corrections and supplements to the memo will bolster our trust. If the FBI is not trustworthy, we should want to find out. Why isn't the Democratic Party on this side of the analysis as it was 40 years ago?

Whatever is in that "essentially blocked" Democratic Party memo, I assume it will come out in the discussion of the Nunes memo. Surely, the mainstream press will have that information and print it up for us.

"A truck driver inexplicably plowed over a 2,000-year-old site in Peru, damaging the designs."

This damage to one of the "greatest enigmas" in the world has not been explained, but in 2014 the site was damaged for reasons that are not a puzzle at all:
Greenpeace activists left a line in the rainless desert that the government said would last “hundreds or thousands” of years during a stunt to place a message calling for renewable energy and their logo next to the geoglyph of a hummingbird.
The article (with photographs) is in The Washington Post. I invite you to guess what troubles WaPo readers more, the seemingly crazy destruction by a lone truck driver or the deliberate destruction by an activist organization.

Trick question! The top-rated comment is: "And the despicable republican party murders our public lands, our national treasures by opening them for exploitation by the fossil fuel, mining, lumber, cattle interests."

"Fidel Castro’s eldest son, a bookish nuclear scientist, commits suicide."

WaPo reports.
The product of his father’s first marriage, to Mirta Diaz-Balart, Fidelito was a symbol of the complexities of the Cuban experience after the revolution. After an acrimonious divorce from Fidelito’s mother, his famous father kidnapped his young son while he was visiting him in Mexico, and after the boy’s mother had taken him to the land of Yankee imperialism – the United States.

"I refuse even to think that my son may sleep a single night under the same roof sheltering my most repulsive enemies and receive on his innocent cheeks the kisses of those miserable Judases,” the late Cuban leader wrote in a letter to his sister....

Fidelito was never viewed, experts say, as a potential replacement [for Fidel Castro].
According to one expert on Cuban government, Fidelito "had some physical resemblance to Fidel, but that was it.... He was never associated with the charisma that his father had."

February 1, 2018

At the Lakequake Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And you can buy many of the things you want at Amazon, perhaps by kindly using The Althouse Portal.)

Has fearing the memo given way to pre-minimizing the memo?

From Axios:
Inside the Trump administration, sources who've been briefed on the Nunes memo expect it will be underwhelming and not the "slam dunk" document it's been hyped up to be.

What we're hearing: There is much more skepticism inside the administration than has been previously reported about the value of releasing the memo, according to sources familiar with the administration discussions.

"A wry disgruntlement will forever unite those of us who were children during the height of the nineteen-seventies natural-foods movement."

"It was a time that we recall not for its principles—yes to organics, no to preservatives—but for its endless assaults on our tender young palates. There was brown rice that scoured our molars as we chewed, shedding gritty flecks of bran. There was watery homemade yogurt that resisted all attempts to mitigate its tartness. And, at the pinnacle of our dietary suffering, worse even than sprout sandwiches or fruit leather or whole-wheat scones, there was carob, the chocolate substitute that never could.In the nineteen-seventies, carob infiltrated food co-ops and baking books as if it had been sent on a COINTELPRO mission to alienate the left’s next generation...."

So begins "How Carob Traumatized a Generation" by Jonathan Kauffman (The New Yorker).

50 years ago today: The execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém becomes a powerful photograph.

The unforgettable image of the moment of death shapes opinion about the Vietnam War.
On the second day of the Tet Offensive... Around 4:30 A.M., Lém led a sabotage unit to attack the Armor Camp in Gò Vấp. After communist troops took control of the base, Lém arrested Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan with his family and forced him to show them how to drive tanks. When Lieutenant Colonel Tuan refused to cooperate, Lém killed Tuan, his wife and six children and his 80-year-old mother by cutting their throats. There was only one survivor, a seriously injured 10-year-old boy. Lém was captured near a mass grave with 34 civilian bodies. Lém admitted that he was proud to carry out his unit leader's order to kill these people. When Lém was captured and brought to him, General Loan summarily executed him using his sidearm, a .38 Special Smith & Wesson Bodyguard revolver, in front of AP photographer Eddie Adams and NBC News television cameraman Vo Suu. The photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement; Adams won a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his photograph.

"I think that the people who have done the deep and conceptual thinking about brain death are people with high I.Q.s, who tremendously value their cognitive abilities...."

From “What Does It Mean to Die?/When Jahi McMath was declared brain-dead by the hospital, her family disagreed. Her case challenges the very nature of existence” by Rachel Aviv (The New Yorker):
According to New Jersey’s 1991 statute on death, insurance providers can’t deny coverage because of "personal religious beliefs regarding the application of neurological criteria for declaring death." Alan Weisbard, the executive director of the bioethics commission that drafted the law, told me, “I thought our position should be one of humility, rather than certainty.”

Weisbard had previously served as the assistant legal director for the President’s Commission on death and, like Wikler, he felt uneasy about the result. He said, “I think that the people who have done the deep and conceptual thinking about brain death are people with high I.Q.s, who tremendously value their cognitive abilities—people who believe that the ability to think, to plan, and to act in the world are what make for meaningful lives. But there is a different tradition that looks much more to the body.” The notion of brain death has been rejected by some Native Americans, Muslims, and evangelical Protestants, in addition to Orthodox Jews. The concept is also treated with skepticism in Japan, owing in part to distrust of medical authority. Japan’s first heart transplant, in 1968, became a national scandal—it was unclear that the donor was beyond recovery, or that the recipient (who died shortly after the transplant) needed a new heart—and, afterward, the country never adopted a comprehensive law equating brain death with the death of a human being. Weisbard, a religious Jew, said that he didn’t think “minority communities should be forced into a definition of death that violates their belief structures and practices and their primary senses.”

I wonder if I'm the only one who thought this Instapundit post was about AbFab.

"DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Inside Edina’s attempt to turn their school into a social justice factory."

Melania's white pantsuit — at the SOTU — "seemed to be about as subtle a slap in the face as could be contained in a garment."

According to Vanessa Friedman at the NYT in "Melania Trump and the Case of the White Pantsuit."

The theory is that Hillary Clinton somehow owns the symbolism of the white pantsuit and that it is "sartorial shorthand for both the suffragists and contemporary women’s empowerment and something of an anti-Trump uniform" and it was just worn at the Grammys by "the women gathered behind Kesha."

When I first read this I thought the unsubtle slap was to the face of liberal women, but I now I see that it was unsubtle in the other direction! That's some subtle unsubtlety. Friedman reads Melania's pantsuit as symbolic violence against Trump, for his true/fake consorting with a porn star.

But even Friedman doubts the clear meaning of the symbolism. Maybe Melania just wanted to do the opposite of what the Democratic Party women were doing on SOTU — wearing black. They were copying the protest motif of the actresses at the Golden Globes (even though last year, they'd worn white to Trump's address to a joint session of Congress).

I'd say the white looked great. Melania stood out, and it expressed optimism and cheer — especially effective when Democrats were wearing black and going out of their way to look grumpy.

Melania in an Aflac commercial from 2005.

Featured at The Daily Mail today, after Donald Trump himself brought it up as he was meeting with a representative of the insurance company yesterday: "Your chairman I know very well, and he's done a fantastic job... He actually, a long time ago, hired my wife to do a big commercial. You know that, right? An Aflac commercial. And I think it was a successful commercial, too."


What a weird world we live in!

Mika kicks Michael Wolff off the show.

"You might be having a fun time playing a little game dancing around this, but you're slurring a woman... It's disgraceful," she says as he fudges and bullshits. Mika gets irritated, in her subtle, I'll-just-move-one-sheet-of-paper-from-here-to-there style, and comes out with: "If you don't get it – and you don't get what we're talking about – I’m sorry. This is awkward. You're here on the set with us, but you're done."

UPDATE: Afterwards, Wolff "went on Twitter, and, as if determined to prove correct anyone who doubted his judgments about the way men speak about women, wrote, 'My bad, the President is right about Mika.' President Trump has called her 'low I.Q. Crazy Mika' and 'dumb as a rock Mika,' and claimed to have seen her 'bleeding badly from a face-lift.' If being criticized for a couple of minutes can persuade Wolff to sign on to all that, then his book deserves more skepticism than it has already earned." (From The New Yorker.)

"[Woody] Allen’s speech at the AFI tribute to Diane Keaton was an example of stealth misogyny."

"He engineered things so that at the climax of the award ceremony, when everyone thought they were applauding Keaton, they were actually applauding him for demeaning her. Allen was the very last speaker; he was to present the award in the next moment. So he knew that, no matter what he said, at the end of his speech everyone would jump up and cheer. By dropping the word fellatrix into the list of Keaton’s professional accomplishments, though, Allen completely undercut everything he seemed to be saying. And by giving it an unconventional pronunciation, he made it unlikely that anyone would understand or be sure what he’d said."

From "Why We Applaud Woody Allen’s Misogyny" by Mimi Kramer (in New York Magazine).

Here's the video. It's very funny, done in the "roast" comic style, and you can see Keaton laughing throughout:

You can hear that everyone in the audience misses the "fellatrix" joke — the highlight of the speech — because Woody Allen pronounces it with a short "a," making it more remininscent of philately than fellatio.

More from Kramer:
Just recently, I learned a new word and had another idea about Woody Allen at the AFI tribute to Diane Keaton. I decided that he was “negging” her — like guys in bars who try to discombobulate women they regard as out of their league by walking up to them and insulting them with statements that sound superficially like compliments.
That does make Kramer sound dangerously out of the loop. "Negging" has been a general-interest topic for at least 10 years. Look, the NYT had a letter in 2004 that assumes the word is pretty well known:
As a happily married old codger not looking to pick up women, I read your article ''He Aims! He Shoots! Yes!!'' with interest. Great pickup strategies are probably timeless. An earlier treatise from the late 1940's is in Richard P. Feynman's ''Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman'' in the chapter ''You Just Ask Them?'' Mr. Feynman is taught how to pick up women at bars, including use of the the strategic slight known as the ''neg,'' Per his report, it worked on bar girls, as well as the sister of one of his graduate students. But alas, he didn't enjoy this pickup strategy and ''never really used it after that.''
Kramer's indictment of Allen resists the idea that the comedy was — as I thought — in the "roast" mode:
Fellatrix was no roast. In a roast you pause for the laugh, and he hadn’t paused for the laugh.
So it can't be classified as a roast unless the comic sticks to what this writer — no expert at comedy, I'm guessing — considers to be the properly conventional timing?

It would make more sense to say that roasting wasn't appropriate in this situation. Or even that only men can be roasted or men cannot roast women (cf. men can't punch women, discussed in the first post of the day). Here's where I'm reminded to use my Era of That's Not Funny tag. Don't neg women, don't tease women, don't roast women, don't even compliment women for the wrong things (even if you love those things). Enjoy the future!

Why I went outside at 6:55 a.m. in just a sweater when it's 9°.

The internet cut out on me, so I looked up from my computer screen and saw the moon.


"You take no shit. None. Not a bit. In your 40s you want to say you take no shit, but you still do."

"In your 60s you take none. There’s both a quickening and a calming—there’s a sense that you don’t have as much time on earth as you once did. For me, there’s also a sense of calming about that."

Said Oprah, about being in her 60s.

I'm sure I'll get a Google AdSense "Dear Publisher" letter informing me of "recent activity related to violations found on specific pages of [my] websites" because I've got the word "shit" in a post title. But Oprah said it. Oprah said it. And I'm in my 60s and I am taking no shit.

I got offered that shit — but didn't take it — when I blogged about "shithole." But the President of the United States said it. The President of the fucking United States. Or so I'd heard.

UPDATE: From my email just now:


Why is this just a question for men? I answered this poll before noticing I was excluded.

Take the poll before being influenced by my answer, revealed after the jump.

Here's the Jordan Peterson interview with Camille Paglia, in case you want to hear him explain his point before jumping to say it's "Totally nuts."

January 31, 2018

At the Fans-Heaters-Tarps Café...


... we've got just about everything you need.

(But if you can't get out to the real store, please consider using Amazon through The Althouse Portal.)

Does the word "Caucasity" — used in the NYT today — express the idea of whiteness as a problem?

I don't remember ever seeing this word until I read "The Unabashed Beauty of Jason Brown on Ice" by Patricia Lockwood (in the NYT today):
The elasticity of his Russian splits belongs to ballet; his flexibility is less like rubber bands than ribbons. His spins are so beautiful that they look as if they might at any moment exit his body completely and go floating off like the flowers in “Fantasia.” And running alongside the joy is something grave, which seems to me to be respect for the gift.

The audience begins to clap as well as its overwhelming Caucasity will allow. “He’s got ’em,” the longtime commentator and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton exclaims as the fiddle picks up. At other points, onlookers burst into the spontaneous laughter of babies. I love that laughter....
Notice the pairing of "Caucasity" with "overwhelming," reminiscent of the phrase "overwhelmingly white," which I feel I've seen many times, such as in "In Ferguson, Black Town, White Power" (NYT, August 17, 2014): "The North County Labor Club, whose overwhelmingly white constituent unions...."

"Caucasity" has appeared in the NYT one other time, last July in a food article illustrated with a photograph of watermelon soup:
Can we acknowledge that Labrador retrievers are awesome? Also, that this dude doing recaps of the Phish shows this week at Madison Square Garden is awesome as well? (Here’s the start of the set he’s talking about, if you’d like to get a sense of what this noodly-noodly caucasity is all about.)
I see that there's a Twitter hashtag, #caucasity. That's a mixed bag. I'll let you check it out. Some of it seems powerfully aggrieved ("Spawn of the devils who did THIS to #EmittTill are now actually trying to tell you that they 'care' about BLACK PEOPLE.. They still refer to you as childlike 'slaves' on some plantation. Just wow.. file under #caucasity" (with a photograph of the dead Emmett Till)), some of it seems sort of playful ("#caucasity RT @chungswag: Honestly it STILL blows my mind that people out here have NO LIPS. like I can't even wrap my mind around it" (with a photo of what seems to be Amy Schumer's lips)).

I see that Urban Dictionary defined the word back in 2015: "Mad wack things only white people would do. The term originates from the Bodega Boys podcast starring Desus Nice and the Kid Mero which chronicles all the caucacity in modern pop culture and society/Person 1: I saw some lady attach a leash to her toddler./Person 2: Damn that's some caucacity right there."

That makes it sound like what the old blog "Stuff White People Like" was about. And, indeed, I see "caucasity" in the Washington Post in 2015: "'[T]he first graduating class of Internet books... includes Stuff White People Like (a satirical, self-loathing look at caucasity)...."

A harsher definition is coming in second in the voting at Urban Dictionary: "Something done with the audacity of white privilege. An act showing little compassion towards people of color."

So... it's an interesting word. To my ear it conveys humor, but humor can be hateful, and white people are too numerous to be laughed off as some kind of joke, but that's why there seems to be a privilege to laugh at them (us). I'd call that "white privilege," but the term is already taken.

Perhaps you will share my sense of humor.

I have been laughing about this — often quite hysterically and to the point of physical pain — for 2 days.

Here's a screen capture from a segment of Tucker Carlson that aired a couple days ago:

Meade seriously believed the professor's name was "Suing Nyu" and he was trying to pronounce it.

A wider view of the image shows that the professor's name is Michael Rectenwald, but it's a split screen with the real name under the image on the left:

Obviously, that's Tucker Carlson on the left, but that's why you might ignore the name "Michael Rectenwald." It's under the guy you know, and you're trying to figure out who the other guy is. Right under him are 3 words, beginning with "Professor," which looks like the start of his name.

And in this world of celebrating diversity, we no longer expect names to look like John Smith and Tom Jones. Isn't "Sung" a Korean name, so why not "Suing"?

I see that the most-nominated woman at the Grammys was SZA. I'm told it's pronounced "sizza," and you're making a mistake if you just try saying the letters S-Z-A.

So "NYU"... you can say that can't you? Don't say N-Y-U. Say "nyew."

Do I have to read this? The hand gesture seems to say it all.

That's her "like with a cloth?" gesture. (It's a photo from December, not a picture of her making this new statement.)

Here's the link to the article. Maybe you'll read the details. Ugh! Okay. I'll force myself:
“I’ve been given second chances and I have given them to others,” she explained. “But sometimes they’re squandered...."
Now, that is funny. It was a horrible mistake to give her that "second chance" to run for President. She was an awful candidate who somehow got treated — twice — as if she was entitled to the Democratic Party nomination. And she squandered it.
"Would he have done better ― been better if I had fired him? Would he have gotten that next job? There is no way I can go back 10 years and know the answers. But you can bet I’m asking myself these questions right now...."
Would Bill Clinton have done better if you had divorced him? Would you?
“Over the past year, a seismic shift has occurred in the way we approach and respond to sexual harassment, both as a society and as individuals,” Clinton said. “This shift was long overdue. It occurred thanks to women across industries who stood up and spoke out, from Hollywood to sports to farm workers to the very woman who worked for me.”
The shift was long overdue in large part because you worked to minimize the problem of sexual harassment in pursuit of your own political power, power leveraged by a husband to whom you subordinated yourself.

Maybe you want to talk about the "drool" flowing from the corners of Joe Kennedy's mouth as he delivered the Democratic response to Trump's SOTU.

I'd like to know who thought it was a good idea to pose a Kennedy in front of a car in a place called Fall River?

I know it's a vocational high school where the students work on cars, but the hood up on a car is a roadside signal of distress, and the words "fall" and "river" had us thinking about Mary Jo Kopechne.

As for the "drool," I think it's obvious that Kennedy overlubricated his mouth, perhaps out of fear that he'd make the devastating Rubio mistake and experience an overwhelming need for water as he gave the response to the SOTU. To me the "drool" is a symbol for what's bad about partisan politics. One party has its problem — too dry!! — and then the other party comes in and instead of correcting to a moderate position goes too far the other way — too wet!!!

And speaking of too wet... if you drive your car badly in Fall River and fall in the river, you'll get too wet and you might drown. And no matter how much the Democratic Party thinks we might love another Kennedy — another Clinton not good enough for you? we got another Kennedy! — the Kennedy brand is badly tainted by Chappaquiddick. And Chappaquiddick is due for further examination in this time of #MeToo and The Reckoning. Let's go through all of the story of the Kennedy dynasty from the point of view of enlightened women today.

Democratic Party, you need to process your Kennedy material into the present day, where we do not accept the subordination of women anymore. And when you're done with all that, you can roll out your new Kennedy. The Kennedy brand, right now, is a broken down car with its hood open, signaling distress.

ADDED: The first time the NYT ever noticed this blog was on October 13, 2004, when I was liveblogging the presidential debate:
"Just after 10 p.m., the Democratic Web blogger Ann Althouse wrote . . . : 'A glob of foam forms on the right side of [George Bush's] mouth! Yikes! That's really going to lose the women's vote.' "
I was all:
Oh, I'm blogging as a Democrat? Well, I read it in the New York Times, so it's probably true. Did Rutenberg read enough of my blog to see that I'm voting for Bush, or is he just concluding from the fact that I don't mind saying that I observed spittle in the corner of Bush's mouth that I must be opposed to him? Maybe Rutenberg is assuming that these bloggers are all so partisan that if they say one thing against a candidate, they must say everything against that candidate.

Was Trump's SOTU theme "nationalism"? Was it devoid of values?

Every weekday morning I listen to the NYT podcast, "The Daily," which goes up around 5 a.m., so it's usually there when I'm making my first cup of coffee. They don't give us a transcript, so if I want to blog about it, which I almost always do, I'd have to find the point in the recording and transcribe it myself or simply go on my memory of what I believe I heard. The first approach is workable when there's one specific line I want to talk about, but not when I want to convey the whole theme of the show, what the podcasters are trying to tell us, and whether they've really supported that position.

The State of the Union Address is the topic of today's show, and like the State of the Union, the whole thing washes over you and you're left with various feelings and impressions, and it's virtually impossible — without the transcript or careful relistening — to remember exactly what they said and what you contributed as you absorbed all that. But that's life. That's what it means to be human, and if we weren't human, the speech and the entire subject matter of the speech would not exist.

So I'm going to tell you what I believe I heard in the NYT podcast this morning. I think the host Michael Barbaro and his guest Mark Landler (a NYT White House correspondent) said that Trump's SOTU address was deliberately written to minimize Trump and put the spotlight on individual Americans (and one North Korean) who acted heroically, displayed feisty entrepreneurship, or suffered tragically. Trump, the divider, removed himself from the center of things, and filled the screen with vivid stories of people, heightening the effect by repeatedly talking about the importance of individuals. Though Trump didn't talk that much about what government can or should do, the stories created support for things Trump does want to do, because they generate, on a deep emotional level, the sense that foreigners are evil and dangerous. The speech was thus profoundly "nationalist." Trump's idea of America is a crude us-versus-them vision, with no other content, no values.

This is what I feel they were saying, as they expressed what they purportedly felt about what Trump said. Please listen to the podcast and see if you agree. Offer corrections or alternative interpretations. It's a great podcast, carefully composed, and full of audio clips from Trump's speech, so the argument is elegantly developed. There is even music which is, I think, designed to massage your thought processes. At one point, the music is obtrusive, but perhaps where I was annoyed and distracted, a Trump-o-phobic person might have felt powerfully moved because the music would feel like their own heartbeat.

Let me make a few points:

1. Barbaro/Landler seemed critical of Trump's minimizing himself, as if that's a tricky device, but Trump — who is so often denounced as narcissistic — should get at least some credit for performing the absence of narcissism.

2. Individualism is a value, and the whole speech was expressive of the value of individualism. But it was a show-don't-tell statement. The word "individualism" never appeared, and "individual" only came up in a reference to the Obamacare "individual mandate." (You can check the transcript.)

3. Freedom is a value. Trump spoke of it in connection with our kinship with freedom-loving people in foreign countries: We "stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom," and we love Ji Seong-ho who "traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom" and "is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom." Freedom is a universal value that we share with good people all over the world and that "gave birth to a special place called America."

4. Self-government is a value. The "yearning... to live in freedom" led to "a revolutionary idea: that [Americans] could rule themselves." By instituting a system of self-government, Americans "light up the world."

January 30, 2018

Watching the State of the Union.

I'm settling in for the big show. Let's talk!

1. The NYT has some advance excerpts, including: "This is our New American Moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream."

2. Supreme Court Justices present: Roberts, Breyer, Kagan, Gorsuch.

3. Melania enters, smiling warmly, wearing a white pantsuit and white satin blouse.

4. Trump begins by talking about various heroes and pointing to individuals in the gallery. This is what has in the past always come at the end of the SOTU.

5. "The Legend from Louisiana, Representative Steve Scalise." Trump is warming the place up.

6.  Pelosi looks steamed.

7. "If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it...."

8. "The state of the union is strong, because our people are strong."

9.  Lots of talk about God, the flag, "... and why we proudly stand for the National Anthem."

10. "Judges who will interpret the Constitution as written...."

11. $1.5 trillion for infrastructure... which the American people deserve. "Together we can reclaim our great building heritage."

12. "Americans are dreamers too." A sharp line within a discussion of immigration law enforcement.

13. Several immensely affecting stories introducing individuals in the gallery. Trump does an excellent job of dramatizing these stories — parents whose daughters were murdered by M-13, a soldier who saved a fellow soldier, the parents of Otto Warmbier, a North Korean man who suffered terribly before escaping.

14. "It's the people who are making America great again."

15. An excellent speech, extremely well delivered, I think.

"I am absolutely convinced that wives shouldn’t be assigned to govern their husbands’ behavior."

"That’s a kind of buck-passing that excuses their spouses from having functional consciences and limited self-control. And marriage is a special kind of relationship, one where we make unusual commitments to love and support the other person that we might not extend to others. That devotion inevitably interferes with objectivity. If Hillary Clinton, or any other woman, is privately angry at or blinkered about another woman who comes forward to say that she had an affair with Bill Clinton, or that Bill Clinton sexually harassed her, I’m willing to allow Hillary Clinton that private fallibility and cruelty, that momentary lack of solidarity. We should all hope we find such forgiveness in moments when we’re faced with astonishing personal pain and respond in ways that demonstrate the limits of our strength.... I respect Clinton’s personal religious faith and the depth of her belief in forgiveness. What I can’t accept is the idea that forgiving [Burns] Strider means minimizing the consequences he faced for his behavior, especially when doing so put him in a position to offend again. Other women bore the cost when Clinton tried to focus on redeeming a man who worked for her rather than protecting the woman who did."

From "Hillary Clinton and I are done" by WaPo "pop culture" writer Alyssa Rosenberg.

I'd never noticed the big "forgiveness" theme in the story of Hillary Clinton, but I have heard people justify her behavior as a special "wife" privilege. It's good to hear one of her proponents say now she's gone too far, but I think that's only happening because Hillary missed in her grasp at the presidency, so there's no partisan drive to defend her and because the #MeToo movement is so strong right now that it's just embarrassing to try to work out an exception for her. I see nothing but politics here.

"They did exactly what they should have done, which was treat me like anybody else... Next time, I’ll be more observant about getting stuff out of my briefcase."

Haley Barbour, the ex-Governor of Mississippi, goes to the airport with a handgun in his briefcase. Gets arrested. 

The top 100 Althouse cities.

According to Google Analytics, these are the cities that sent the most readers to this blog in the last day:
1. Dnipro (I'm still trying to figure out what's up with Dnipro!)
2. New York (should be first, but something's up with Dnipro?)
3. "not set" (people who know how to hide, but don't choose to pretend to be from Dnipro?)
4. Chicago
5. Washington
6. Houston
7. Los Angeles
8. Dallas
9. Atlanta
10. Seattle
11. Boston
12. Austin
13. San Francisco
14. Madison

Metaphorical thinking about the secret House memo.

I'm reading Axios. Boldface added:
The coming release of a secret House memo, hotly sought by conservatives, will intensify the great muddying of the Russia investigation in the public's mind.

Why the memo matters: Trump's allies are betting that when all is said and done — and when special counsel Bob Mueller has completed his report — the American people will be so thoroughly disgusted with everyone that the political outcome is a wash.

I have been flooded with email from conservatives who have been ignited by the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign that has flourished online, fed by Fox News.

That smoldering fire ignited yesterday after the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release the memo, with the final decision up to President Trump....

Last night, I saw how hot the House was burning when I interviewed Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee's top Democrat....
The first metaphor is "muddying." The memo isn't making anything clear, just part of a strategy to disorient and confuse.

The second metaphor is water. There's a "flood" and maybe all the confusing mud will just be resolved by declaring the whole thing "a wash."

Third, there is fire, and that's just political fervor. The water could take care of the fire as well as the mud.

When did we start using "wash" like that, to mean "A balanced outcome; a situation or result which is of no net gain or loss"? The OED has that meaning only as a draft addition. It calls it "U.S. colloq." with the first usage in 1976:
1976 National Observer (U.S.) 10 Apr. 5/4 If Humphrey were the more Democratic nominee, it would be more or less of a wash, because Humphrey is an old Washington hand too, and he carries many of the same scars as Ford.
By the way, did you know the word "wash" can refer to a measure for oysters and whelks? "Each smack takes about 40 wash of whelks with her for the voyage" (1879). What's a "smack"? Some kind of woman? No, the "her" is for a ship — "A single-masted sailing-vessel, fore-and-aft rigged like a sloop or cutter, and usually of light burden, chiefly employed as a coaster or for fishing, and formerly as a tender to a ship of war."

Oh, the things we are learning today. I'm so glad I have existing tags for "mud" and "mollusks."

"The investor Mark Cuban called for a real-name policy on services like Twitter, arguing that 'there needs to be a single human behind every individual account.'"

"That’s a terrible idea... it would endanger marginalized people without improving trust. But Cuban’s reform does square with the Times’ take on virtue and wickedness at Twitter. Just shine light upon the shadows of the black market to put an end to the corruption. Then ordinary folk can be freed from the lust for fame that would rob them of their true selves. But this is a fairy-tale story about the internet. Fraud is not the ultimate problem with fake social-media activity. The hustle itself is the blight. It produces the racket that sucks so many into its orbit.... There is a pride in having built a platform for attention, and there is also a shame in feeling pride for it. To boast that one’s followers are all 'real,' or to call for a near future in which that state of affairs is insured, is just to affirm the virtue of the system. This is the back that must be broken for anyone to feel free on social media."

From "All Followers Are Fake Followers/A New York Times exposé of a 'black market' for online fame diagnoses the symptom of social-media despair, but misses its cause" by Ian Bogost (in The Atlantic).

6 years ago today: "Meade rescued a lost dog and managed to coax him into the house. (It's 20° out.)"

"He's got a collar, but we haven't won his trust to the point where we can read it."

No, it wasn't Zeus. It was Soleil.
UPDATE: We were able to read the tag, called the owner, and now Soleil is gone. The sun has set on our bedogged life here in Madison, and so we must go on, dogless.
Ha. Robert said:
"...and so we must go on, dogless."

An intentionally false statement, Professor.

You are missing out on one of the best parts of life.
I responded:
I must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.

Waiting for Dogot.
Our life is too good for the hubristic overreaching that would be involved in an effort to change it "for the better."
Speaking of hubris... and since I've been showing you the Pieter Bruegel the Elder depictions of sin... here's pride:

(Click to enlarge and see all the details.)

"The lifestyle shift was especially pronounced among 18- to 24-year-olds, who spent an extra 14 days at home and roughly four days less in travel."

"The findings represent a significant change in lifestyle in less than 10 years. Those fewer travel days are particularly important when it comes to saving energy. 'Energy intensity when you’re traveling is actually 20 times per minute [more] than when spent at home,' said Ashok Sekar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author on [a study that 'found that, on average, Americans spent 7.8 more days at home in 2012, compared to 2003. They calculated that this reduced national energy demand by 1,700 trillion BTUs in 2012, or 1.8 percent of the nation’s total energy use']."

From "Americans Are Staying Home More. That’s Saving Energy" (NYT).

Some of the staying home more is due to working from home instead of commuting to work, but there is also a turn away from travel among younger people. The importance of travel is one of my longtime interests on this blog. I've been questioning why and whether people feel they should travel — the psychology of travel — as well as the ethics and philosophy of travel, so I'm very interested in how these things change over time and with new generations.

The NYT article begins with the idea that people who don't get away from home are exhibiting laziness: "Despite what you may have learned as a child, sloth isn’t always a sin." But I'm interested in the sin-talk, because the gluttonous consumption of energy is also a sin, and apparently people traveling tend to use 20 times as much energy as those who stay home.

Compare your sins. (Click to enlarge.) Gluttony:


"Now all the authorities/They just stand around and boast/ How they blackmailed the sergeant-at-arms/Into leaving his post..."

A line from Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues."

Which is what I thought of when I read (at CNN)...
A typo on some of the tickets issued for President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday provided invitees a welcome to the "State of the Uniom." The tickets, which are issued by the Office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, are provided for spouses and guests of members of Congress and give access to seats in the gallery.....
But some comedians are making jokes like....

... as if the tickets came from the executive branch. So who needs remedial education?

Surrealistic Breakfast.


The photo — with the post title — feels (retroactively) inspired by the famous "Object" by Meret Oppenheim:

"Hasn't the NYT effectively declassified an awful lot of secret info over the years?"

ADDED: This makes me wonder why the memo had not already leaked to the press. Considering all the leaks we've seen, don't you think this should have leaked? Another why to look at this question is: What was true about all the things that have leaked that was not true about this memo?

Found in the jury room after a guilty verdict: copies of a booklet titled "Behind Closed Doors: A Guide for Jury Deliberations."

This was something one of the jurors downloaded from the American Judicature Society after the first day of deliberations, which she'd found "chaotic." We know this because the judge, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Mark Sanders, had to hold a hearing to determine whether to order a new trial.

But jurors told the judge "they only glanced at or skimmed the pamphlet or didn't read it at all because it seemed to cover things they'd already done, such as picking a foreman and holding a preliminary vote." The jurors had been instructed not to bring in any "outside information," but they didn't think about the pamphlet that way and it was so inconsequential that they didn't think they needed to tell the judge about it.

The judge decided that the jurors had all violated their oath, but the violation was not prejudicial, so no new trial.

The defendant, Brittany Baier, 29, faces life in prison after shooting her boyfriend — Terrance J. Tucker, 27 — to death. Baier presented a "battered woman" defense:
At her trial in October, an expert testified that based on eight hours of interviews, plus several psychological tests, he felt Baier met the definition of a battered woman. He told jurors victims often feel embarrassed to be in such relationships, don't tell friends and family and can react violently when they finally reach a point where they feel their life is threatened and there's no other out.

Baier testified that she fired in desperation after hours of physical and emotional abuse, at gunpoint, prompted by an argument over her accidentally ruining some of the couple's marijuana plants. But Baier didn't call the police. She tried to clean the crime scene and move Tucker's body, reported him missing, then claimed an intruder had killed him and beaten her before finally admitting to the crime.

Court file photo of Baier and Tucker

"I too love it when I get up at 4:30 in the morning and find you here, drinking your first cup of coffee and cooking breakfast."

I said at the end of last night's post, which was mostly a comment from a reader who said, among other things, " I love it when she gets up about 4:30 in the morning and starts posting and I already have something to read while I am drinking my first cup of coffee and cooking my breakfast."

So I should have at least gotten up at 4:30 this morning, but it's 6:30 now as I'm writing my first post.

I don't write posts and then schedule them to go up later. I write and hit the publish button. And I don't set an alarm to wake up. I just wake up when I happen to wake up. If I look at the clock and it's after 4, that's late enough for me and I get up. But this was one of those mornings when I looked at the clock and it was after 5.

But spontaneity and lack of structure are what make this blog what it is. There is no other Althouse. So if you like Althouse — Althouse, the blog, I mean — that's what you like. And that's what I love, as another day begins and I hurl myself into the unknown one more time.

January 29, 2018

"I have wondered sometime how people - particularly all the 'regulars' - find time to comment on here."

"I don't comment all that often, but I can claim to have read every single post on Althouse since Glenn first pointed me to it in early 2004. That was during over 12 years of work (2004-2016) and now 2 years in retirement. Every. Single. Post. Doesn't mean I always got to them that day; I used to travel a lot and sometimes I would have a couple of days I would have to catch up on. But when I got to wireless or a cell phone signal it is usually the first thing I'd check. I found that whatever was trending in the news Althouse would have a link, some comments of her own, then all the commenters on here get on it. I have read Althouse in airports and hotels all over the world - all across the US and Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Dubai, India, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and a number of Caribbean isles, even flying over the Pacific. I love it when she gets up about 4:30 in the morning and starts posting and I already have something to read while I am drinking my first cup of coffee and cooking my breakfast. First page I check every morning."

Thanks, MountainMan! I too love it when I get up at 4:30 in the morning and find you here, drinking your first cup of coffee and cooking breakfast.

What's happening, Dnipro???

If you're wondering why I'm Google-Street-Viewing around Dnipro, read the next post.

What's up with Dnipro?

This is kind of freaking me out. Click to enlarge. This is what Google Analytics shows for the audience for my blog today, shown at the city level:

If I display the demographics of my audience at the country level, for today, 75.52% is from the United States and 17.51% is from Ukraine. The next highest country is Canada with 2.05%.

What could possibly account for this? Are these real readers? I assume not. Are there readers who make it look like they're in Ukraine? Are they robots?

UPDATE: I've narrowed it down and can see that the traffic from Ukraine began on January 26th. That was the day Trump spoke at Davos. There were a couple posts about that. The Ukraine traffic peaked on the 27th, with 21.55% of the readers coming from Dnipro that day.

"Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, apparently disregarding Justice Department warnings that their actions would be 'extraordinarily reckless'... "

"... voted Monday evening to release a contentious secret memorandum said to accuse the department and the F.B.I. of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on a former Trump campaign associate. The vote threw fuel an already fiery partisan conflict over the investigations into Russia’s brazen meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans invoked a power never before used by the secretive committee to effectively declassify the memo that they had compiled. Democrats called the three-and-a half-page document a dangerous effort to build a narrative to undercut the department’s ongoing Russia investigation, using cherry-picked facts assembled with little or no context."

So reports the NYT, sounding rather terrified, don't you think? "Russia’s brazen meddling"... "a power never before used"... "a dangerous effort to build a narrative"... "cherry-picked facts assembled with little or no context"...

What's really the problem with “a dangerous effort to build a narrative" and "cherry-picked facts assembled with little or no context"? Isn't that what we face every day when we read the newspaper?

If the Republicans really have simply built a "narrative" with "cherry-picked facts" and "little or no context," the memo will be savaged as others supply the context and the non-cherry facts and demonstrate an alternative narrative, and the Republicans will lose credibility and be horrifically vulnerable in the fall elections.

At long last, the Cleveland Indians give up on their "Chief Wahoo" logo.

The NYT reports:
Citing a goal of diversity and inclusion, [the commissioner of baseball, Rob] Manfred said in a statement provided to The New York Times that the Indians organization “ultimately agreed with my position that the logo is no longer appropriate for on-field use in Major League Baseball, and I appreciate [the acknowledgment by Cleveland’s chairman and chief executive, Paul Dolan] that removing it from the on-field uniform by the start of the 2019 season is the right course.”...

Although the Indians will stop using the logo on their uniforms, they will not relinquish the trademark and still will be able to profit off sales of merchandise bearing the logo at the stadium and in the Cleveland area. But by maintaining the trademark, the team, with the supervision of M.L.B., retains control of the proliferation of the logo. If it relinquished the trademark, or announced an intention never to claim its protections, another party could legally assume control of it and use the logo in other ways.

"Andrew G. McCabe abruptly stepped down on Monday as the F.B.I.’s deputy director after months of withering criticism from President Trump..."

"... telling friends he felt pressure from head of the bureau to leave, according to two people close to Mr. McCabe. Though Mr. McCabe’s retirement had been widely expected soon, his departure was nevertheless sudden. As recently as last week, Mr. McCabe had told people he hoped to stay until he was eligible to retire in mid-March.... In a recent conversation, Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, raised concerns about a forthcoming inspector general report examining the actions of Mr. McCabe and other senior F.B.I. officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, when the bureau was investigating both Hillary Clinton’s email use and the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia. In that discussion, according to one former law enforcement official close to Mr. McCabe, Mr. Wray suggested moving Mr. McCabe into another job, which would have been a demotion. Instead... Mr. McCabe chose to leave...."

The NYT reports.

UPDATE: "President Trump reportedly told then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe that he should ask his wife, who had lost a bid for political office in Virginia, how it felt to be a loser.... Trump made the remarks in a phone call to McCabe the day he fired FBI Director James Comey that was placed to demand why Comey was allowed to fly on a FBI plane from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., after being fired" (The Hill).

It's January and snowing in Wisconsin, and you want to go out to a café — what do you wear on your feet?


Q: Is retiring early a good way to live longer?

A: Only if it causes you to do more of the what's good for your health and less of what's bad for your health (and you already know what those things are).


"Experts and recent surveys describe a profound shift in attitudes in South Korea, where reuniting the peninsula, and the Korean people, was long held as a sacrosanct goal."

"These days, younger South Koreans in particular are far more likely to see the idea of reintegrating their prosperous capitalist democracy with the impoverished, totalitarian North as unrealistic and undesirable. 'I personally wouldn’t welcome reunification because it would create a burden for us, as we would have to help rebuild the North Korean economy,' said Park Min-cheol, 22, a college student. Young Koreans say they are more concerned about pressing domestic issues — like unemployment, and whether they can live as well as their parents did — than the enormously costly, complex and hypothetical task of reunifying with the North. The reunification of Germany in 1990 serves to some as an example of how arduous, and expensive, rejoining two very different societies can be, and the economic gap between the two Koreas today is much wider than it was between East and West Germany. In polls, fewer respond to the old appeals to common ethnic heritage...."

From "Olympic Dreams of a United Korea? Many in South Say, ‘No, Thanks'" (NYT).

Death and the dyslexic furniture maker.

I'm reading 2 obituaries in the NYT this morning. The 2 men — both in the furniture business — are very different, but both were dyslexic.

1."Wendell Castle, the whimsical designer who coaxed wood into weird, mind-bending shapes that blurred the boundary between serviceable furniture and fine art, died on Jan. 20 at his home in Scottsville, N.Y., near Rochester. He was 85."
His sinuous, biomorphic chairs, tables, desks, pianos, clocks and vanities, which resembled giant teeth, a human tongue, elephants’ feet and human forms, started as freestyle drawings on rag paper. They morphed into urethane foam models that were laser-scanned by computer, sculpted in slices by a 5,000-pound room-size robot and finished by hand with chisels, sanders and other tools.

“Wood, I realized, could be shaped and formed and carved in ways limited only by my imagination,” Mr. Castle once said....

Wendell, who was dyslexic, struggled in school. “I was not good at anything,” he said. “The only exceptions were drawing and daydreaming, neither of which were valued.”...

“If there was any continuity and logic in there, I wanted to throw that out of whack,” he told City Newspaper of Rochester in 2016. “There is no reason.”
2. "Ingvar Kamprad, a Swedish entrepreneur who hid his fascist past and became one of the world’s richest men by turning simply-designed, low-cost furniture into the global Ikea empire, died on Saturday at his home in Smaland, Sweden. He was 91."
He grew up on a farm in the lake-dotted province of Smaland, in southern Sweden, a dyslexic boy who milked cows and found it hard to concentrate in school. His family was poor, and he earned money selling matches and pencils in villages. At 17, he registered his mail-order business in household goods, calling it Ikea, formed of his initials and those of his farm, Elmtaryd, and village, Agunnaryd....

All his life, Mr. Kamprad practiced thrift and diligence, and he portrayed those traits as the basis for Ikea’s success....

He sought to control his work force, too. In 1976, he wrote a manifesto, “The Testament of a Furniture Dealer,” with biblical-style commandments listing simplicity as a virtue and waste as a sin. Employees were expected to absorb “the Ikea spirit,” to be humble, clean-cut and courteous, not just knowledgeable about Ikea’s products but enthusiastic about its corporate ideology — principles to work and live by....

While he lived mostly in seclusion, he traveled to Ikea stores around the world, sometimes strolling in anonymously and questioning employees as if he were a customer, and customers as if he were a solicitous employee....