April 25, 2018

At Amy's Café...


... it's time to talk about anything (and to buy anything through the Althouse Portal to Amazon).

"Oh, I'm surprised at that," says George Stephanopoulos when Ronan Farrow tells him that Hillary Clinton cancelled an interview with him...

... after "her folks" heard he was "working on a big story" — "the Weinstein stuff."

Reported at Mediaite, with video that allowed me to transcribe the "Oh, I'm surprised at that," which I find funny, and Mediaite left out.

I find it funny — and I believe this is why Mediaite left it out — because I read Stephanopoulos to be lying. He knows why Hillary Clinton wouldn't want to be interviewed by someone who's digging into the Harvey Weinstein story.

1. Hillary was part of what the New York Times called Weinstein's "complicity machine":
In late September [2016], emails show, he was discussing a documentary television show he was working on with Hillary Clinton. He had long raised campaign cash for her, and her feminist credentials helped burnish his image — even though Tina Brown, the magazine editor, and Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, each say they had cautioned Mrs. Clinton’s aides about his treatment of women....

Over the years, Mr. Weinstein provided [theClintons] with campaign cash and Hollywood star power, inviting Mrs. Clinton to glittery premieres and offering to send her films. After Mr. Clinton faced impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he donated $10,000 to Mr. Clinton’s legal defense fund. Mr. Weinstein was a fund-raiser and informal adviser during Mrs. Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, a guest in her hotel suite when she won and a host of an A-list victory party. He was an early backer of both her presidential bids.
2. Hillary was vulnerable to questioning about her protection of Bill Clinton over the years, and Ronan Farrow was emerging as the one who was fighting to take sexual harassment and rape seriously. Hillary's people were right to worry that he would have the nerve to really push her on questions about her behavior toward the women whose voice Farrow was about to amplify.

Stephanopoulos obviously knows this. He looked ludicrous playing the naif.

The plot against Scott Adams.

I like the discussion under that tweet:

"In much of the world, the concept of basic income retains appeal as a potential way to more justly spread the bounty of global capitalism while cushioning workers against the threat of robots and artificial intelligence taking their jobs."

"But the Finnish government’s decision to halt the experiment at the end of 2018 highlights a challenge to basic income’s very conception. Many people in Finland — and in other lands — chafe at the idea of handing out cash without requiring that people work," the NYT reports. "The basic income trial, which started at the beginning of 2017 and will continue until the end of this year, has given monthly stipends of 560 euros ($685) to a random sample of 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58. Recipients have been free to do as they wished — create start-ups, pursue alternate jobs, take classes — secure in the knowledge that the stipends would continue regardless."
“There is a problem with young people lacking secondary education, and reports of those guys not seeking work,” said Heikki Hiilamo, a professor of social policy at the University of Helsinki. “There is a fear that with basic income they would just stay at home and play computer games.”...

The Finnish government was keen to see what people would do under such circumstances. The data is expected to be released next year, giving academics a chance to analyze what has come of the experiment....

"Over the last several months, I’ve spent evenings watching my fiancée, Lara, inject herself with smaller and smaller doses of estrogen."

"I’ve watched her stand in front of a mirror, singeing each hair out of her face with a secondhand electrolysis machine. The return of her testosterone hasn’t resulted in just the resurgence of facial hair; her pants now fit differently, too. My own skin has been plagued by acne since I got off the pill six months ago, and my default states are angry, hungry or sleeping. Such are the perils of trying to have a child the way Lara and I are trying, without in vitro fertilization, or cryogenically frozen sperm. The way fertile cisgender people do: They simply couple up, and boom — a child is born. For many young trans people, the question of having babies is likely the last thing on their minds. Who could blame them? Like all young people, they’re figuring out their future.... But unlike all young people, young trans people are often making choices that have long-term consequences for their fertility. Which is part of how I, a 32-year-old cisgender lesbian, and Lara, my 33-year-old trans fiancée, came to be in the situation we’re in today: trying to conceive a child, even though Lara transitioned four years ago."

From "Adventures in Transgender Fertility" by Joanne Spataro, "a New York-based writer who is engaged to a transgender woman" (NYT).

The comments at the NYT are surprisingly hostile. Here is the second-highest rated one:
Here is how I understand this story: a woman who is not sexually attracted to men met a man who says he was supposed to be a woman and took hormones to suppress his maleness. The woman fell in love with the man and was sexually attracted to him because now he seems like a woman. But the woman wanted to get pregnant, and so the man who now seems like a woman stopped taking the hormones that make him seem like a woman, in order to once again produce testosterone to be used to impregnate the woman.
A lot of the comments express hostility to the term "cisgender." On the topic of language, I'll just say I hate the vogue use of the interjection "boom" (as in "They simply couple up, and boom — a child is born").

"Will the 'blue wave' continue with Arizona special election?"

Yesterday, on MSNBC (video at link):
Today’s special election in Arizona’s eighth district is being watched closely to see if Democrats can continue flipping seats held by Republicans. Dr. Hiral Tipirnen, the Democratic candidate in the race, joins Katy Tur to discuss today’s election.
Answer, in yesterday's special election: NO.

Let's see how MSNBC reports the story: "Republican Debbie Lesko scores tight win in Arizona special election, NBC News projects/Lesko's lead might have kept a conservative congressional district in Republican hands — but the margin might be too close for comfort."

How tight?
Lesko held a 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent lead over Tiperneni, or 91,390 votes to 82,316 — an Republican advantage of 9,072 votes, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Arizona secretary of state's office.
Doesn't seem tight to me.
That margin may concern Republicans. President Donald Trump carried the district in the conservative Western Phoenix suburbs by 21 percentage points, and its previous occupant, Trent Franks, a Republican, ran unopposed.
The blue wave. It's there even when it's not there.

Are we to be impressed that the Toronto police did not shoot ?

Here's the video presented by the NYT as evidence of police showing how to defuse a dangerous situation:

Here's the NYT article, "When Toronto Suspect Said ‘Kill Me,’ an Officer Put Away His Gun."
“This is going to be a great training video in the future,” said Ronal Serpas, who led police departments in New Orleans and Nashville and is now a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. “It almost gives you chills how well he handled himself.”...

“Clearly the guy driving the van was on the edge; he knows what he just did. But by the way the officer handled himself, he ends up becoming docile and submits to an arrest,” said Mr. Serpas, the former New Orleans police chief. “It was a great outcome in a horrible situation.”
Obviously, I'm no expert, but I find it hard to believe that a police officer is supposed to take this much personal risk. The man, Alek Minassian, has just mowed down 10 people with his car, he's not responding to multiple commands, and he seems to be pointing a gun aggressively at the cosmically cool Constable Ken Lam.

"A hat is a celebration of oneself. It is about presenting one’s most adorned, spit-shined, upright self to God, social media or, in this case, the history books."

Writes Robin Givhan (at WaPo) about the hat Melania wore yesterday at the greeting ceremony for French President Macron. These days, hats are not "about fashion," but "more of an affectation, whether it be the religiosity of Sunday church service or the self-conscious flamboyance of the Kentucky Derby."

The hat was a "magnificent halo of pure white light perched atop first lady Melania Trump’s perfectly groomed head."
Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else.

That hat, broad-brimmed with a high, blocked crown, announced the first lady’s presence as boldly and theatrically as a brigade of trumpeters. It was the bright white hat of a gladiator worn on an overcast day, a kind of glamorous public shield when sunglasses would not do at all. That hat was a force field that kept folks, the wrong folks, from getting too close.

It was a diva crown. A grand gesture of independence. A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen.
So, I'm seeing 3 things the hat does: 1. Showing off (yay, me, trumpets!!!), 2. Creating a religious aura (looks like a halo, like a lady in church), and 3. Keeping everyone away (force field!).

As to #3, the first thing I think of is the kissing. I saw Macron and Trump kissing. This was the greeting ceremony. Was none of that cheek kissing to be aimed at Melania?

But Givhan emphasizes independence from Trump: "A grand gesture of independence." And she combines #2 and #3 by continuing: "A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen."

Remember, according to Givhan, the hat says everything: "Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else."

Silent, stoic, statuesque Melania cries out to the Lord. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — the White House, with my satanic president-husband — I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

ADDED: Of course, hats were huge in Trump's campaign. No one ever made as much headway through a hat as Trump. And when Hillary wore a hat, Rihanna wore a picture of it — Hillary + hat — on a T-shirt. And Hillary very famously wore a hat — a big blue hat (presaging a blue dress?) — at the first Bill Clinton inauguration.

ALSO: Is that first line quoted in the post title an intentional reference to Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"?
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
But Melania could not have felt at ease on the grass at that tree-planting ceremony (where Brigitte Macron grasped Trump's shovel shaft). She along with Madame Macron was wearing stilettos. In order not to sink completely into the sod and get stuck, they were both tasked to walk and stand entirely on their toes.

April 24, 2018

"I just want to lead with love. I want to be about love.... I love Donald Trump."

Said Kanye West.

IN THE COMMENTS: Kevin said:
Love Trumps Hate

What did it mean? Scott Adams wrote in "Win Bigly":
One of the more notable persuasion failures from the Clinton campaign involved the slogan Love Trumps Hate. The first two thirds of the slogan is literally “Love Trump.” Again, human brains put more weight on the first part of a sentence than the end. On a rational level, the sentence makes perfect sense, and it says what Trump’s critics wanted it to say. But in the 3-D world of persuasion, this slogan simply told the world to either love Trump or love the things he hates, such as terrorism and bad trade deals.
Just one more thing Scott Adams got right.

AND: Here's something Ted Rall got wrong:

Turned out we didn't get that 4 to 8 years of stupid — not that particular form of stupid, anyway (the stupid of getting called "sexist" every time you criticized the President).

"They're all saying what a great relationship we have, and they're actually correct. It's not fake news. Finally, it's not fake news."

"So, it's a great honor, a great honor that you're here. But we do have a very special relationship. In fact, I'll get that little piece of dandruff off, that little piece. We have to make him perfect. He is perfect. So it's really great to be with you, and you are a special friend. Thank you. Thank you."


At the Inappropriate President Café...


... talk about what you like and buy what you want through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Typically the leadership of the opposing party is invited to a state dinner, but the Trumps threw out that tradition as they also shunned journalists..."

"... who in previous administrations received a handful of invitations — not surprising for a president who derides the 'fake news' media."

From "Trumps Throw Out Tradition for Their First State Dinner" (NYT).

I would have written not surprising for a president who knows they hate him.

"There will be subtle hints at bipartisanship in the décor: Along with 1,200 Obama-inspired cherry blossom branches to decorate the Cross Hall, Mrs. Trump will use china from the Clinton White House," the article continues, and the most-liked comment is:
So we can have a "nod to bipartisanship" in the dishes used - but no actual human beings who don't fawn at the feet of our dear leader?

Donald Trump representing the United States of America at a state dinner is an embarrassment to our country.
The Daily Mail has lots of juicy photographs of the tablescapes with the gold-encrusted dishes that could have been mocked as evidence of Trump's horribly narcissistic taste if they weren't the Clintons'.

The Daily Mail also has a great picture of Trump man-kissing Macron.

Why it seems like the NYT knows everyone is always angry at me.

Something about the selections in the sidebar at the NYT is making me paranoid. There's what's recommended for me:
And then there's what's "most emailed" and "most viewed":

That article at #3 for me, "Why It Seems Like Everyone Is Always Angry With You," is nowhere on those other 2 lists (even below the part I captured).

I've recovered from paranoia. I attribute the difference to the fact that something has to be around for awhile to rank as "most viewed" or "most emailed," but the "recommended" list is a place to promote the newest things. The "for you" business seems curated for me, but I don't know if that's based on invading my privacy or just some bullshit stab at niceness.

The "Why It Seems Like Everyone Is Always Angry With You" did just go up this morning, but I do — more than most? — suffer from the feeling that other people are angry at me. The article turns out to be about the skill in reading other people's faces. Last paragraph:
So what do you do if you’re an adult who often thinks friends and colleagues are upset with you? Dr. Schermerhorn advised trying to remember that just because a face is not brimming with positivity, it does not mean that it is conveying something negative. Also remember that what you’re picking up on might just be a person’s eyebrows. Low brows and brows that slope in like a V have a tendency to telegraph anger, researchers have found, even when none is present.
And let me add that if you're an adult who actually is angry at friends and colleagues but don't what them to realize it, get your eyebrows lifted.

ADDED: Remember Uncle Leo's eyebrows on "Seinfeld"? They got singed off and Elaine drew them in but in the angry position:

"American Idol is shedding contestants like an Agatha Christie whodunit. There goes Effie Passero through a trap door."

"A suit of armor fell on Ron Bultongez. Amelia Hammer Harris took a hard fall off the Orient Express. And now we’re at the top 14 with the shivering, terrified survivors who just want Ryan Seacrest to lower his monocle and solve this whole thing for everyone. But we’ve got five episodes left to deduce which contestant deserves the crown, and I have a sneaking suspicion it could be anybody. Let’s roll through these 14 contenders, comment on the eliminations, and wonder if Lionel Richie knows his sparkly blazer would look smashing on Vicki Lawrence."

Louis Virtel is doing a fabulous job of recapping "American Idol" at Vulture, with snappy sentences and full, commercial-free, clips of every performance. That link goes to the recap of last night's results show, where my favorite, Maddie Poppe, sang "Walk Like an Egyptian":

And here's the link to the Sunday episode recap, with each performance ranked by Virtel, including #1, Maddie Poppe, doing "Homeward Bound":

ADDED: Here's what Virtel wrote about that "Walk Like an Egyptian" performance:
I’m all for Maddie Poppe’s calmed-down, twee’d-up renditions of songs... “Homeward Bound”? Sure. “Brand New Key”? Absolutely. But after Ryan Seacrest announced she was safely in the top ten, Maddie gave her first baffling performance of the season: an undanceable take on “Walk Like an Egyptian.” It’s as if she wanted us to pay attention to the Bangles’ lyrics, which are … well, they’re stupid. Let’s talk a look at “Foreign types with the hookah pipes say / Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh / Walk like an Egyptian.” That’s offensive, senseless, and then back to offensive. And she didn’t even throw us the saucy Susanna Hoffs side-eye to soften the embarrassment! I’m worried now. Soon, Maddie with perform “Kokomo” as a piano ballad or add marimba to “Tears in Heaven”! Here’s hoping she’s back on track with an angora-warm version of “You’ve Got a Friend” or something next week.
Ha ha. Ask Meade if I didn't say out loud, "The lyrics to this song are actually pretty offensive."

AND: Here's the old Bangles video featuring the ancient mystery of Susanna Hoffs's inability to position her irises in the center of her eyeballs. As for the idea of "the Bangles' lyrics," I've got to object. They didn't write the song. It was written by music producer Liam Sternberg, who, Wikipedia tells us, "wrote the song after seeing people on a ferry walking awkwardly to keep their balance." The only connection to Egypt is that Sternberg thought the people looked like the figures in the ancient Egyptian paintings.

Is the song offensive? It's one of the songs Clear Channel banned after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It's got that casual, silly attitude toward ethnicity found in many old songs — "Ahab the Arab" ("There he saw Fatima layin' on a zebra skin rug with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes and a bone in her nose ho, ho"), "The Sheik of Araby" ("At night when you're asleep/Into your tent I'll creep"), "Midnight at the Oasis" ("You won't need no camel/When I take you for a ride"). I'm just naming ones about Arabs that spring immediately to mind. There's also Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs...

You wouldn't do that today. Domingo "Sam" Samudio was Mexican American, and he just enjoyed Yul Brenner as Pharaoh in "The Ten Commandments." As for Yul Brenner, he was a combination of Swiss-German, Russian, and Buryat, but it was accepted back then that he could play an ancient Egyptian. And he also got to play the King of Siam.

I'd branch out to other ethnicities, but I'll just say "Turning Japanese," and I'll leave it to you to come up with some other silly songs that would steam people up if they came out today (but maybe we can still love because they are old).

"Turning Japanese" was just a way of saying I feel like a foreigner in my own culture. The lyrics had nothing to do with Japanese people:
No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women
No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark
Everyone around me is a total stranger
Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger
But the video (and that musical riff)... just comically leaned into Japanese stereotypes (back in 1980, when not letting anything offend you was kind of the culture):

"When the owner of a thriving Hong Kong bookstore disappeared, questions swirled. What happened? And what did the Chinese government have to do with it?"

Please listen to today's episode of the NYT "Daily" podcast.

That podcast caused me to find a very important NYT Magazine article from April 3 (which I'd missed), "The Case of Hong Kong’s Missing Booksellers/As China’s Xi Jinping consolidates power, owners of Hong Kong bookstores trafficking in banned books find themselves playing a very dangerous game."

I won't pull out a large enough excerpt to make the story clear to you, only to give you as sense of the drama:
The morning after his interrogation, [Lam Wing-kee] was blindfolded, handcuffed and put on a train for an unknown destination. His captors didn’t say a word. When the train came to a halt 13 hours later, Lam’s escorts shoved him into a car and drove him to a nearby building, where they removed his hat, blindfold and glasses. He took stock of his situation: He was in an unknown location in an unknown city, being held by officers whose identity and affiliation he could not ascertain....

In January 2016, more than two months after he began counting the length of his detention, Lam was informed of the charge against him: “illegal sales of books.”...

Lam was transferred to a new city for the next phase of his detention. There, he was told he would be permitted to return to Hong Kong, but only on the condition that, upon arrival, he report immediately to a police station and tell them his disappearance was all a misunderstanding. He would then go to the home of Lee Bo and pick up a computer containing information on the publisher’s clients and authors, which he would deliver to China....

That night, alone in his hotel room, Lam violated the conditions of his limited release, using his phone to search for news about his case... He saw his name and the names of his Mighty Current colleagues appear again and again...  Lam saw photos of thousands of protesters marching through the streets, holding posters of the missing booksellers and demanding their release; Lam’s shuttered shop had become a site of pilgrimage...

On the morning he was expected back on the mainland, Lam arrived at the train station with the company computer in his backpack. He paused to smoke a cigarette, then another. Other Mighty Current employees had friends, family or wives on the mainland. “Among all of us,” Lam told me, “I carried the smallest burden.” He thought of a short poem by Shu Xiangcheng that he read when he was young:
I have never seen
a knelt reading desk
though I’ve seen
men of knowledge on their knees

Signs of a pet anti-vaxxer movement and the crazy new fear of "canine autism."

The answer to the question what we're calling the generation after the millennials has been determined.

It's "Generation Z," which shortens to "Gen-Z" (which is pronounced to rhyme with "frenzy").

Back in January, the NYT invited readers to tell it what to call the post-millennials. (That's what I was saying, by the way, post-millennials.) The Times reported on its effort at crowd-sourcing the answer:
There was plenty of support for widely publicized names already coined for the generation born, roughly, between 1995 and 2015: Generation Z, Homeland Generation, Post-Millennials and iGeneration.

A significant minority had grown comfortable with “Generation Z,” including Raquel Glassner, 22, of Olympia, Wash.

“I’ve never heard iGeneration before, but that is really horrendous,” she said. “Our whole generation shouldn’t be branded by Apple. Gen Z is the final generation of the 1900s, and a generational title using the last letter in the alphabet seems fitting.”...

The youngest respondent I tracked down was Mari Sobota, 8, a third-grader in Madison, Wis., who wrote in to say that her generation would be known for “girl power!”

Mari, 8, could identify an obvious generational difference between her and her 12-year-old sister Cassandra, and their mother, Carousel Bayrd. “We both like cotton candy, and my mom hates that,” she said.
And yesterday, Time had this:
This post-Millennial generation still has several moniker [sic], but has been most commonly called Generation Z or the iGeneration. They are widely considered to be young people born in the mid-1990s, and by 2020 they will account for one-third of the U.S. population. Gen-Z is also the most diverse in American history, and the first made up people who don’t know a world without the Internet or smartphones....
Blah blah blah. How vile to be thought of as the people who always had smartphones in their hands. Will these people not rebel? Here's Time's video, which is too candy-fluff for me to listen to the whole thing, but I did learn that that pronunciation, which surprised me, because we always said "gen-X," not "GEN-x" (which sounds like the name of a new drug).

Adding tags for this post, I see I already have one for Generation Z.

ADDED, on publishing this post: I see I had one other post with this tag, going all the way back to September 2015, and it was about the NYT pushing the term...

... so the NYT got its way, even as it later made it seem like the readers sent in the idea.

How did the millennials escape the fate of getting called Generation Y? It seems unfair to Generation Z, getting stuck with being an afterthought of the famous Generation X, which was itself a quasi-rebellious retort to the truly famous Baby Boomers. And clearly the post-Gen-Z generation won't get stuck with the next letter, there being no next letter. If I were a Z, I'd be very annoyed, but I'm saying that as a Baby Boomer, and we had a rebellious spirit, borne of the seemingly complacent 1950s and the desperately discordant next phase — assassination, riots, drugs, rock and roll, and the threat of a draft into a war that made no earthly sense.

April 23, 2018

At the Green Pool Café...


... you can bask in the sun.

And shop through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"I have dwarfism. I was 13 when Verne Troyer hit our screens as Mini-Me in Austin Powers sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me."

"The character was a compound of stereotypes of people with dwarfism. He was hypersexual, unintelligent and aggressive. He was not even a character in his own right but a replica of another, average height role. Like dwarf performers in circuses of days past, his character only existed in contrast to others.... Throughout the series he serves as Dr Evil’s biddable pet. I imagine few who watched it know that in the past aristocrats and monarchs often 'kept' dwarf people like this – abusing, ridiculing, and, sometimes, even killing them... Troyer died on Saturday. He was just 49 years old. A statement on his Facebook page, said he had struggled with 'his own battles' but that 'unfortunately, this time was too much.'... Even in death, his body marks him as a target for ridicule. Ignorant still but much less malicious were comments that he was 'bigger than [insert height here],' 'a small guy but had a big heart,' or 'a big man in a tiny package,' and so on. Such remarks, commonly used by the media, propagate assumptions that dwarfism is something negative for which we have to compensate through our achievements or character.... [I]t is often in death that average height and able-bodied people easily erase an individual’s disability or difference – as demonstrated by the recent passing of Professor Stephen Hawking – to claim they were 'larger than life' or are 'finally free from their disability.'"

From "Verne Troyer’s tragic death underlines the harm Mini-Me caused people with dwarfism/The role of the aggressive, biddable pet in the Austin Powers films did huge damage to the dwarfism community and our struggle for respect" by Eugene Grant (in The Guardian).

This continues the discussion we were having last month when Hawking died, here, after the actress Gal Gadot, surely believing she was being nice, said "Now you’re free of any physical constraints."

And here's the Wikipedia article on "Court dwarfs" ("Court dwarfs enjoyed specific placement right next to the king or queen in a royal court during public appearances and ceremonies, because they were so small, the king appeared much larger and visually enhanced his powerful position").

There's some interesting artwork, such as this, by Velasquez (c. 1645):

"Why are the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas and Melania smiling so broadly at a funeral?"

Asks a columnist at The Guardian.
The picture is not sombre, even though this is a funeral. Obama and Bill Clinton are smiling broadly; W has that lopsided grin that suggests he’s cracked one of his fratboy jokes. They seem relaxed. And the source of that relaxation? Could it possibly be their collective relief that Trump is not there?
Oh! The snark never ends. Consider the possibility that these people are smiling because they believe in their professed religion.

At the funeral, Jeb Bush said that the last time he saw his mother, she said, "Jeb, I believe in Jesus and he is my savior. I don't want to leave your dad but I know I'll be in a beautiful place."