April 23, 2018

Too many Democrats vying for the chance to challenge Governor Scott Walker.

And the primary isn't until August. I don't see how the Democrat has a chance. Here's the left-liberal Capital Times, "Large field of governor candidates worries some Wisconsin Democrats, emboldens others":
As the candidates in an already large field search for ways to separate themselves from the pack four months ahead of the August primary, some Democratic insiders aren't pleased by the latest developments — but others say the continued interest in running is just a sign of strong tailwinds for Democrats going into November....
There are 11 candidates at this point. The newest one is Mike Crute ("co-host of the political Devil's Advocates radio show, owner of WRRD "Resistance Radio" and a Madison-area property manager"):
Crute, 47, said he's getting in because none of the candidates already in the field — which has been growing since last summer — are demonstrating the "boldness of candidacy" it would take for a Democrat to beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a skilled politician with a strong campaign infrastructure.

"It’s not that there are not people I admire in the field. They’re all really nice people," Crute said. "But Scott Walker, in my opinion, is an S.O.B. and if you are not willing to at least act that part when necessary, then you probably cannot beat him in a head-to-head matchup."
Ha ha, very funny. That's one way to stand out in a crowd. Ask Donald Trump.
"Mike Crute, doing what he is doing, makes this look like a circus. It is not serious," the insider said. "This field is naturally winnowing itself out and he is crowding it to serve his own ego. It’s a stunt, and it is bad for the race."
But it is a circus. So why not be a first-rate clown. Again: it worked for Trump.
Prior to Crute's announcement, 38-year-old corporate attorney Josh Pade announced his own plans to join the field... Shortly after Pade and Crute joined the race, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was considering another run.
Now, that's funny. Barrett is the one Walker beat in 2010, when he first became governor, and then beat again in 2010 when he was subjected to a recall.
But [a] Dem strategist — who voted for Barrett in 2010 and 2012 — feared a Barrett campaign would harm the party's chances. "He offers neither a fresh face nor fresh ideas," the strategist said.
Do any of the 11 already in the race have "fresh ideas"? Really, I'm just asking. Please, tell me in the comments: What are the "fresh ideas" offered by any Democrats in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race? If there aren't any, why not be out and proud? Your face is an unfresh face, and we should love that old face. Old faces are lovable too. And if you're destined to lose to Scott Walker — which I think you are — why not go down gracefully with the man who's got the most experience losing to Scott Walker?

Shania Twain "would have voted for [Trump] because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest... Do you want straight or polite?"

"Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bull—-. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”

That's what the Canadian pop star — who was just on "RuPaul's Drag Race" last week — said in an interview The Guardian published yesterday morning, WaPo reports. Social media got right on her case with a hashtag, #ShaniaTwainCancelled, and by evening poor Shania — the erstwhile lover of no bullshit — had apologized.

Here's the 4 tweetsworth of apology/"apology":
I would like to apologise to anybody I have offended...
She begins with classic nonapology words.
... in a recent interview with the Guardian relating to the American President. The question caught me off guard.
She blurted out that she likes the way Trump seems to speak his mind, his spontaneous transparency, but her own following of his model, just saying what she thinks straight out is something to regret and bemoan. She didn't have time to think it all through and plan it all out, so she hopes what she said won't count against her, as she retreats into the opaque, evasive world that she'd just decried.
As a Canadian, I regret answering this unexpected question without giving my response more context (1/4)
What's it like to regret as a Canadian? Is it a special sort of regret? I'm not picking up the applicable stereotype. Is she trying to say I don't vote in your elections so I should not have joined the debate about your leader? Or does she mean Canadians are supposed to be especially circumspect and polite — she who just said "Do you want straight or polite?" I guess you got your answer, at least from the "hundreds" of tweeters who jumped on that hashtag. They want polite — more than polite. They want silence, unless you're anti-Trump.
I am passionately against discrimination of any kind and hope it’s clear from the choices I have made, and the people I stand with, that I do not hold any common moral beliefs with the current President (2/4)
She won't get in trouble for that ridiculous absolute statement about moral beliefs.
I was trying to explain, in response to a question about the election, that my limited understanding was that the President talked to a portion of America like an accessible person they could relate to, as he was NOT a politician (3/4)
Oh! Here come the deplorables again — that "portion of America" — those dopes. Shania sees that those people could relate to that man who's so horrible she can't share one moral belief with him.
My answer was awkward, but certainly should not be taken as representative of my values nor does it mean I endorse him.
But you said you'd have voted for him. Do you mean you loathed Hillary? Because that would make sense of these remarks. Not that I need any sense to be made other than you got disciplined by the Trump haters and you caved. Why speak out at all if you're so vulnerable to push back?
I make music to bring people together. My path will always be one of inclusivity, as my history shows. (4/4)
Were those hashtagging tweeters fans of your music who know your history or just Trump haters ready to jump on any entertainment figure who fails to maintain the required hostility?

April 22, 2018

At the First Lady Café...


... you can talk all night.

And use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The Waffle House hero says "I did that completely out of a selfish act. I was completely doing it just to save myself."

"I don't want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that. I figured if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it."

That charming speech makes James Shaw Jr., 29, even more of a hero. The man with what CNN calls an assault rifle had already killed 4 persons, and — as the police spokesman put it — Shaw "decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away, tossed it over the counter."

"[I]n California... the state’s nonpartisan primaries present a unique hazard: State law requires all candidates to compete in the same preliminary election, with the top two finishers advancing to November."

"In a crowded field, if Democrats spread their votes across too many candidates, two Republicans could come out on top and advance together to the general election. There are at least four races in California where Democrats fear such a lockout, including the 39th Congressional District, where in addition to Mr. Cisneros and Ms. Tran there are two other Democrats running: Sam Jammal, a youthful former congressional aide, and Andy Thorburn, a wealthy health insurance executive who is backed by allies of Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont. The district is among the most coveted for Democrats nationwide — a seat left open by the retirement of Representative Ed Royce, a popular Republican, in an area Hillary Clinton won by about 8 percentage points."

From "Fearing Chaos, National Democrats Plunge Into Midterm Primary Fights" (NYT).

Great dialogue on ABC's "This Week" this morning on the subject, "Will Michael Cohen flip?"

From the transcript, with George Stephanopoulos and lawprof/defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, legal analyst Dan Abrams, and former prosecutor Mimi Rocah:
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Oh, it's a very serious threat [that Cohen will flip on Trump]. This is an epic battle for the soul and cooperation of Michael Cohen. And prosecutors have enormous weapons at their disposal. They can threaten essentially with life imprisonment. They can threaten his parents. They can threaten his spouse. They have these enormous abilities to really put pressure and coerce a witness. On the other hand, the president has a unique weapon that no other criminal defendant or suspect ever has, he has the pardon power. And go back to Christmas 1992 when President Bush exercised that pardon power and pardoned Caspar Weinberger, precluding him from pointing the finger at him....

"Once, in Hong Kong, I smiled so much that the woman I was talking to recoiled and stepped away."

"My European and Latin American friends agree that Americans smile far more than people do in their home countries."

From "An American Woman Quits Smiling" by the novelist Lisa Ko (NYT).

If someone recoiled from me and stepped away — especially in a foreign country — I would not presume to know why. But Ko is a novelist, and it's the novelist's superpower to feel she knows what is in the mind of others.

"An 11-year-old boy in El Paso died on Friday after getting hit by a pickup truck while his school held a walkout to protest gun violence."

The NYT reports.
The boy, Jonathan Benko, and a group of about 12 to 15 other students from Parkland Middle School in El Paso decided not to participate in the walkout, and instead left the campus to visit a park on the other side of Loop 375, a busy highway that surrounds parts of the city, officials said.

Jonathan, a sixth grader and the last one to try to cross, was struck by a Ford F-150 pickup truck, Officer Darrel Petry, a spokesman for the El Paso Police Department, said on Saturday.

"Associating hate with [Sam] Harris is bizarre. I’ve grown fond of his preternaturally composed, hyper-rational style..."

"... on the Waking Up podcast. But when he talks about [Ezra] Klein, he is not quite himself. He can’t disguise his bewilderment. He sounds like Spock discovering his shorts are on fire. 'Captain, I have detected . . . flames and singed flesh . . . in the vicinity of . . . my perineum.'"

I'm trying to read "Ezra Klein’s Intellectual Demagoguery" by Kyle Smith at The National Review, but I've run into an atrocious men-in-shorts/Star Trek smash up and my heart cries out I don't belong here.

And I've got to say, if you wanted to be a racist — or any kind of evil devil in this world — the best approach would be to adopt a demeanor that is preternaturally composed and hyper-rational.

But I've started this post, so let me soldier on. I've avoided the Sam Harris/Ezra Klein discord for quite a while, but something made me feel that I could catch up by reading Kyle Smith:
[Harris's] tone remains steady...
Ugh... tone...
... but the words are uncharacteristically pointed. During the debate, as Klein keeps delivering lectures to Harris on the history of racist injustice and repeatedly accuses him of having a “blind spot,” you can hear Harris sighing. Does Harris — does any intelligent person — really need to be told that blacks have been victimized by racism? Of course they have been. It’s a different conversation from the one about what we do and don’t know about IQ scores.

Harris, who has to his credit a philosophy degree from Stanford, a Ph.D. from UCLA in cognitive neuroscience, and several well-reviewed books, has described himself as on the left on virtually every issue. How disorienting it must have been to find himself reclassified as a neo-Mengele and besieged by the social-media mob because he spoke with ["Bell Curve" author Charles] Murray....
If Harris is as educated and sophisticated as all that, he shouldn't have been "disorient[ed]." He should have been prepared for Klein's utterly predictable attack. Was Harris so lost in self-love — thinking he's one of the good people — that he didn't see how mean his seeming friends would be if he questioned one of the Good People's Articles of Faith?

What is the largest number of pitches thrown in a single at bat that ended in a home run?

I'm trying to find the answer to that question after last night's walk-off home run by Jesus Aguilar::
Jesus Aguilar's epic at-bat leading off the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday was so long, Brewers manager Craig Counsell almost forgot it began with two strikes.

And it was so good, with Aguilar flicking seven two-strike fouls before crushing the 13th pitch from Marlins reliever Junichi Tazawa for a walk-off home run and a 6-5 Brewers win at Miller Park, that Aguilar could proudly say he'd never had a better at-bat.
I can see that the most pitches for a single at bat is 20:
[Ricky] Gutiérrez holds the modern-day MLB record for seeing the most pitches (20) in a single at bat. On June 26, 1998 at Jacobs Field, Gutiérrez, then a member of the Astros, squared off against Cleveland Indians pitcher Bartolo Colón to open the top of the eighth inning. Colón's first two pitches were strikes, but over the next 17, Gutiérrez took three balls and hit 14 fouls. With the 20th pitch of the at bat, Gutiérrez struck out. This single match up accounted for 18% of the pitches that Colón threw in the game.
But Gutiérrez struck out. Is 13 the record for an at bat that ends in a home run?

In my so-far futile search, I did find this (at Athlon), answering the question "What is the record for most foul balls hit in a single at-bat?"
There are no records kept for foul balls during particular at-bats, but there is one unusual record in this category that is likely to never be broken. Philadelphia outfielder Richie Ashburn, who played from 1948-62, was known for his ability to prolong at-bats by fouling off pitches. During one such at-bat in Philadelphia, he fouled off 14 pitches. One of them struck a woman who was sitting in the stands, breaking her nose. While she was being carried off on a stretcher, she was hit by a second foul ball from Ashburn during the same at-bat.
Now, that is amazing. And I remember Richie Ashburn (because my father and grandfather — in Delaware — watched the Phillies in those days). But it doesn't answer my question other than to suggest that there is no way of knowing.

IN THE COMMENTS: Curious George was able to find an 18-pitch at bat that ended in a home run, here. It's Alex Cora (a Dodger) against Cubs pitcher Matt Clement in 2004. But it's not a walk-off home run, so maybe Aguilar has the record for most pitches in a single at bat that ends in a walk-off home run.

UPDATE: Just today — in an amazing coincidence — the 20-year old Gutiérrez record was broken:
With an epic 21-pitch at-bat in the top half of the first inning against Angels rookie Jaime Barria, [Giants first baseman Brandon] Belt broke the Major League record for the most pitches seen in an at-bat.
The pitcher won that battle. Belt hit a fly ball caught by right fielder Kole Calhoun.

Maybe Aguilar's amazing at bat last night gave Belt the idea to specialize in hitting a lot of foul balls.

"Twitter reportedly blocked a British pro-life activist with Down Syndrome for more than 24 hours after she posted pro-life pictures."

"Charlotte 'Charlie' Fien rebuked the social media giant with a trenchantly worded tweet once her account was restored Tuesday," reports Life Site.
“Funny how Twitter allows paedophiles and other scum. Funny how Twitter doesn’t like my Pro Life pics and blocks them,” she tweeted....

[Fien gave a speech to United Nations delegates in Geneva last March in which s]he likened the growing genocide of Down’s babies to the Nazi euthanasia programs of the 1930s.

“I am not suffering,” she told delegates. “I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down’s syndrome are suffering either. We live happy lives. We just have an extra chromosome... We are still human beings. We are not monsters. Don’t be afraid of us. … Please don’t try to kill us all off.”

"Dignity and stuff like that" — Ivana Trump gives a great interview.

At Page Six. I'm seeing a lot of highlighting of one thing she said:

But all she said was — when asked — “I’ll tell you something, I don’t think it’s necessary... He has a good life and he has everything. Donald is going to be 74, 73 for the next [election] and maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune." That's such an inconsequential thing to say. It's only highlighted, I think, because a lot of people obsess about what will make Donald Trump go away.

But I note that Ivana's reason why he might not run would have just as well applied to his 2016 decision to run, and it's an idea that Donald Trump himself has expressed many time: He doesn't need it, he could live a very pleasant life without all this. But he did run in 2016, so why wouldn't he run in 2020? You could say, he's already proved he can be elected President. Yeah, but he hasn't yet proved he can be re-elected. And if you take him at his word — a concept that will annoy the hell out of his haters — he didn't do it to magnify himself but because he really thought he knew what the country needs and believed that only he can provide it.

Ivana also talked about her son Don Jr's impending divorce. She sees her boy as the winner and the mother of her grandchildren as the loser:

"Apparently, this is something the public needs to hear in 2016: Please stop drinking hand sanitizer."

"The common disinfectant is typically used on, well, hands. But a recent anecdote from a former Wells Fargo banker in an article in The New York Times, who claimed to drink it as a stress reliever, brought the issue into the national spotlight, the newspaper also reports. And earlier this month, it was parodied on 'Saturday Night Live,' when Emily Blunt's character needs to have her stomach pumped after downing hand sanitizer. Perplexing as it may seem, drinking the alcohol-based sanitizer appears to be a growing problem..." (U.S. News).

What's perplexing?! It's alcohol!

Remember when Kitty Dukakis drank rubbing alcohol? Here's the NYT, November 9, 1989 (a year after Kitty's husband Michael lost the presidential election):
Kitty Dukakis's doctor said today that she was hospitalized after drinking a small amount of rubbing alcohol....

''Kitty has suffered from chemical dependency and struggled with depression for many years,'' the statement said. ''These two problems are often related. Autumn has been a particularly bad season for her.''

Dr. Plotkin said Mrs. Dukakis was now ''completely out of danger,'' and was moved out of intensive care and into a private room today.
A "small amount"... "intensive care"...
The statement did not say how much rubbing alcohol Mrs. Dukakis had consumed. Dr. Plotkin, reached by telephone tonight, declined to elaborate on his statement and refused to say what her motive might have been....

Rubbing alcohol differs in its chemical structure and reactions from ethanol, which is the form of alcohol contained in standard beverages. Rubbing, or isopropyl, alcohol is also contained in after-shave and hand lotions and many other products. Isopropyl alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines, and ingesting three to four ounces of it can cause severe symptoms like bloody vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. A relatively small amount of isopropyl alcohol can produce an extreme hangover. It can also produce changes in the blood similar to those produced by severe diabetes or starvation.
So is hand sanitizer made with ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol? Don't take my word for it, but Wikipedia says Purell is ethyl alcohol and "Purell purposely adds an unpleasant bitter taste to its product to make it undesirable to drink and to discourage ingestion."

"[P]eople choose friends who resemble themselves, right down to the moment-to-moment pattern of blood flow in the brain."

"The tendency toward homophily, toward flocking together with birds of your inner and outer feather, gives rise to a harmonious sense of belonging and shared purpose, to easy laughter and volumes of subtext mutually, wordlessly, joyfully understood. But homophily, researchers said, is also the basis of tribalism, xenophobia and racism, the urge to 'otherize' those who differ from you and your beloved friends in one or more ways... One recent study from the University of Michigan had subjects stand outside on a cold winter day and read a brief story about a hiker who was described as either a 'left-wing, pro-gay-rights Democrat' or a 'right-wing, anti-gay-rights Republican.' When asked whether the hypothetical hiker might feel chilly as well, participants were far more likely to say yes if the protagonist’s political affiliation agreed with their own. But a political adversary — does that person even have skin, let alone a working set of thermal sensors? 'Why must it be the case that we love our own and hate the other?' Nicholas Christakis of Yale University said. 'I have struggled with this, and read and studied a tremendous amount, and I have mostly dispiriting news. It’s awful. Xenophobia and in-group bias go hand-in-hand.... In order to band together, we need a common enemy'...."

From "Friendship’s Dark Side:'We Need a Common Enemy'" by Natalie Angier (NYT).

This is important and useful, but watch out for the idiots who will seek to ban friendship. We're already seeing some efforts in schools to break up "best friends." This is from a column in U.S. News last January, by the psychologis Barbara Greenberg:
I am a huge fan of social inclusion. The phrase best friend is inherently exclusionary... A focus on having best friends certainly indicates there's an unspoken ranking system; and where there is a ranking system, there are problems. I see kids who are never labeled best friends, and sadly, they sit alone at lunch tables and often in their homes while others are with their best friends.

My hope is that if we encourage our kids to broaden their social circles, they will be more inclusive and less judgmental. The word "best" encourages judgment and promotes exclusion....

April 21, 2018

"Members of the Tennessee Air National Guard have been removed from their posts after using a dinosaur puppet in a re-enlistment ceremony."

Contemplating the shrine to the mid-60s.


Detail of the display, from the LBJ library,  under the 1964-1966 sign:


The model on the cover of Playboy looks kind of like Ann Margret, but it's Venita Wolf, She was a minor actress who lived from 1945 to 2014 — not too minor to have a Wikipedia article:
Venita Wolf... appeared in the Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos" (1967) as Yeoman Teresa Ross.

Other than that, she had only a short stint on popular television from 1966 to 1969, including guest roles in The Flying Nun, The Monkees, Gunsmoke and The Beverly Hillbillies, among others. She appeared unbilled in The Oscar (1966) but her only feature film credit was a supporting role in the beach movie Catalina Caper (1967)...
"Arabesque" was a 1966 movie. It was, like "Charade," one of those Hitchcock movies not by Hitchcock but by Stanley Donen.

"The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby" is a Tom Wolfe book from 1965. Here's its Wikipedia article:
Many versions of the book are headed by an incomplete quotation from Kurt Vonnegut: "Verdict: Excellent book by a genius." Vonnegut's full quotation was "Verdict: Excellent book by a genius who will do anything to get attention." 
Speaking of orangeness, there's Tang. And that grand triad of mid-60s fun: the Spirograph, the Frisbee, and Operation.

John Lennon didn't depict himself as Hitler.

I'm reading "Portraits by John Lennon depicting himself as Hitler going for $54K" (NY Post), which speaks of a "crude sketch" — from Lennon's art college days — that "shows Lennon on a podium with his hand raised in a Nazi salute and the words 'Heil John' repeated several times, as if being chanted by an audience below."

I had to look elsewhere to find the image:

That's not John as Hitler. That's John as John, getting the response from the crowd that Hitler got. Perhaps he simply longed for vast and unquestioning admiration.

I see that John wanted Hitler as one of the faces on the Sgt. Pepper album cover.

This NY Post cover seems not to be taking this "sex cult" — with "a perv" and "a slave" — very seriously.

But it caught my attention because I'm having my own trouble understanding what's wrong with a sex cult. People are allowed to enter into voluntary relationships in which they adopt a slave role, aren't they? The crimes are, we're told, sex trafficking and forced labor. The Post article doesn't work terribly hard at framing this as a crime (other than using the word "forced" and "made" (and note that what is "forced" is labor, not sex):
The actress first lured the women into the secret society within Nxivm known as “The Vow” — and cajoled them into providing “collateral” like embarrassing photos and statements to use as blackmail, federal prosecutors allege. She then allegedly groomed the slaves for sex with [Keith] Raniere — ordering them to adhere to extremely restrictive diets, refrain from removing their pubic hair, and to stay celibate, according to court documents. She also forced them to pose naked for photos — “including on one occasion close-up pictures of their vaginas” — which were given to Raniere and also used as collateral, the feds charge. Mack and other slave “masters” allegedly made their slaves participate in “readiness” drills, requiring them to respond to requests at any time of the day or night so they were “seriously sleep-deprived.”...
I'm switching to the Washington Post article:
Raniere is the founder of NXIVM, which bills itself as a self-help and empowerment organization, but is described by authorities as a cultlike group whose members recruited women to be sex slaves, and branded their pubic regions with Raniere’s initials.... Mack, 35, is alleged by prosecutors to have recruited slaves for pay...
I think that means Mack got paid, not that the slaves were paid. Terrible writing.
... forcing the women to have sex with Raniere, and using explicit photos and damaging information to ensure their compliance.... “Mack and other … masters recruited … slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses the NVIVM curriculum taught were common in women,” prosecutors said. But “the victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor to the defendants’ benefit,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.
So the women voluntarily joined a female empowerment group and were persuaded to think that having sex with Raniere would eradicate their weakness?

I'm not approving of the Post cover or brushing off the significance of sex crimes. I'd just like to see the law explained. Was fraud charged? Rape?

"For as long as Kim Jong-un has been North Korea’s leader, he has called for the simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic growth with the aim of making the nation a 'great socialist nuclear power.'"

"On Saturday, however, Mr. Kim abruptly announced he was retiring his signature policy, known as byungjin, or 'parallel advance.' The strategy has been at the center of his government’s propaganda and is enshrined in the charter of the governing Workers’ Party. But Mr. Kim said it was now time to adopt a 'new strategic line' and focus the nation’s resources on rebuilding its economy."

So begins "Will Kim Jong-un Trade His Nuclear Arsenal to Rebuild Economy?" (NYT).

Out on Picnic Point today...

... just taking a walk...


... what?


There's this:


At the Pedernales Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And think of buying a little something for yourself through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The photo was taken on April 14th at Pedernales State Park in Texas, where people seem to love walking on those rocks, which could suddenly turn into a killer waterfall, we were warned.

"The problem is that cities have been shocked to discover that thousands of electric scooters have been dropped onto their sidewalks seemingly overnight."

"Often, the companies ignored all the usual avenues of getting city approval to set up shop. And since the scooters are dockless, riders can just grab one, go a few blocks and leave it wherever they want, causing a commotion on sidewalks and scenes of scooters strewn across wheelchair ramps and in doorways. So officials in cities like San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif., have been sending cease-and-desist notices and holding emergency meetings. Some even filed charges against the scooter companies. 'They just appeared,' said Mohammed Nuru, director of the San Francisco Public Works, which has been confiscating the scooters. 'I don’t know who comes up with these ideas or where these people come from.'"

From "Electric Scooters Are Causing Havoc. This Man Is Shrugging It Off" in the NYT. "This man" is Travis VanderZanden, the CEO of the electric scooter company Bird Rides.

We saw lots of Bird Rides scooters in Austin, Texas when we were there last week. It made me feel sorry for B-Cycles, which require a docking station to secure the bikes and human muscle power to make them go. Because the scooters are electrically powered, they are essentially self-locking. To make them go, you use your phone app.

"Michael Cohen... famously said I'll take a bullet for Donald Trump. Well, now that he's looking at prison time, we'll see if he'll take a dick."

That's Bill Maher's homophobic rape joke, which I transcribed from the recording of last night's episode of "Real Time."

Here, you can watch it.

I cannot believe prison rape remains a stock comic subject. Quite aside from the general problem of casual joking about rape, the prison rape topic is not only very stale — I've heard these jokes for 50 years — but it shows enthusiasm for punishing human beings convicted of crimes in a manner that extends beyond the legal sentence. It's laughing at the torture of persons held in captivity. When I hear Maher tell that joke, I picture him standing alongside Lynndie England and Charles Graner, grinning toothily and giving the thumbs-up sign.

I remember when it became clear that Hillary Clinton was going to win the 2016 election.

I'm reading "It’s becoming clear that Trump won’t run in 2020" by Joe Scarborough. I mean, I'm reading the headline and laughing. It's on the most-read list at The Washington Post. It's what people want to read, and isn't that what fake news is all about, giving the people what they want (and getting them to want what you want them to want)?

Okay, now I've read the article for you. Isn't that what blogging is all about? I'll give you what I think is the most substantive paragraph in support of the proposition in the headline:
Now, even Trump’s most steadfast allies are quietly admitting that the Southern District of New York’s investigation poses an existential threat to his future, both politically and legally. Trump allies are telling the president his “fixer” could flip for the feds, just like Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. In Washington and across the country, Republicans are sensing the president is a wounded political figure, leading them to withhold their future support or — in one high-profile case — to challenge the president directly.
Allies are quietly admitting... Republicans are sensing... and Joe Scarborough is picking up the message. It seems to me Trump has faced vicious opposition all along, and he keeps winning in spite of/because of it. I remember believing — back in October 2016 — that Trump would drop out. I had a tag, Trump drops out....

Listening to music through earphones has been the norm for a long time, so why do we still play the television out loud?

I remember the days of annoying music-playing. I was a horrible offender myself when I was a teenager living with my parents. But headphones became the norm, and I wonder if people today even realize how much annoyance we are spared.

And yet TV rages on, filling the sound space of our homes and leaking out onto the neighbors. Where are the headphones? I know you can rig something up, and I have an old Roku with a headphone jack, but it's not the norm.

Here at Meadhouse, we have exactly one television and it's right next to where I work on my desktop computer. All of this is by choice. We could have more TVs, and I have another desktop computer in a distant room and a perfectly good laptop computer and many comfortable rooms where I could blog.

I'm not complaining, but I did have the occasion to wonder aloud this morning about why TVs don't have headphones. This led to a discussion of the Dylan line "You should be made to wear earphones," from the 7th (and last) verse of "Ballad of a Thin Man":

"Over time, the obsession with terrariums faded, but it returned in the 1960s and ’70s..."

"... when the environmental movement—and hippies—burst onto the scene in America and the U.K. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962, revealed the toll of pollution on the environment and laid the groundwork for a movement that coalesced into the establishment of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Terrariums were the physical embodiment of that movement: little shrines encapsulating the fragility of nature. These terrariums were mostly homemade, using a fishbowl or another sort of container that would have otherwise been discarded (a perfect example of what has come to be known as upcycling). Of course, terrariums were commodified, too. A company called Tiara Casa mass-produced a DIY terrarium kit—consisting of a large plastic globe atop a tall white stand—that became a fixture in many 1970s living rooms.... [T]he 1970s terrarium was a political statement."

From "Terrariums Let Anyone Create a 'Perfect World' in Their Own Apartment" (Artsy), which is mostly about a present-day artist who works in the terrarium form.

Ugh! Remember those awful terrariums on a white pedestal? Here, you can buy one at Ebay:

That was emphatically not hippie style or "political statement" style. That was the kind of thing that made us hippies hate the modern look and want to take refuge in everything really old-fashioned looking (e.g., heavy dark oak furniture). The classic hippie terrarium would be made from the old aquarium where you used to try to keep your neon tetras and angelfish from dying.

"The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with..."

"... are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will 'flip.' They use.... ....non-existent 'sources' and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if.... ....it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!"

3 tweets by Trump this morning — here, here, and here.

Who is "the drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael"?

2 men and 2 women encounter the 1964-1966 display at the LBJ Library.



I took these 2 photos on April 13th, when we were in Austin, Texas.

This is not a café post/open thread. I want to discuss the aspects of the 1960s on display here, the aura of creepy entombment, etc.

"Remember that kid in school—every school has at least one—who everyone tolerated but never really liked, who was more concerned with adhering to and obeying the rules than understanding the reasons for them..."

"... and who self-righteously prided themselves on reporting everything to the nearest teacher they could every time? The kids who always seemed to end up 'in charge' of small-authority things like the A/V equipment, hall monitors, or street crossings, who immediately lorded their 'authority' when doing their 'jobs,' who invariably ended up wearing their 'uniforms' (vests or badges or whatever) literally everywhere they went, and who started virtually every sentence with, 'Well, as a hall monitor, I think...' If they never grow out of that attitude, they grow up to be James Comey."

That's the top-rated comment at a Jezebel article by Ellie Shechet titled "On James Comey's Book Tour, America's Daddy Complex Gets a Pacifier." Shechet herself has this line:
Comey, whom Trump recently dubbed the “worst FBI director in history,” is a center-right believer in the innate goodness of America’s law enforcement institutions, and possesses the affable demeanor of a little league coach, or a generic provider-type leaning casually over a barbeque in an Old Navy commercial. If I were to write a script for a movie about the life of James Comey, which I would find unpleasant, it would include wholesome lines like “These brussels sprouts are delicious, Patrice,” and “Say hi to your mom and dad for me, kiddo.”
Shecet's point (of course) is that Trump is so awful that this kind of bland mediocrity seems attractive now, and that is very different from what the commenter expressed. The commenter's attitude is closer to mine, perhaps because I've been instinctively resisting anti-Trump hysteria. And also the idea that Comey "possesses [an] affable demeanor" does not resonate with me at all. I think he seems hostile and cranky but capable of maintaining a robotically calm game face.

"Each winter, for close to a century now, hundreds of Amish and Mennonite families have travelled from their homes in icy quarters of the U.S. and Canada to Pinecraft, a small, sunny neighborhood in Sarasota, Florida."

"Arriving on chartered buses specializing in the transportation of 'Plain people' from areas such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, they rent modest bungalows and stay for weeks, or sometimes months, at a time. It’s vacation.... [W]ithout barns to raise or cows to milk or scrapple to prepare, the typically stringent rules of Anabaptist life are somewhat suspended in Pinecraft.... Earrings, usually forbidden, can be seen glittering from beneath white bonnets, and houses are outfitted with satellite dishes. Horses and buggies are nowhere to be seen, but adult-sized tricycles abound. Swimming, volleyball, and shuffleboard are encouraged; ice-cream cones are a nightly ritual."

"Where the Amish Go on Vacation" is a colorful photo essay at The New Yorker.

I'm interested in:

1. The Amish, who seem to have pared down their lives to the essentials, still maintain a need to travel. Is it because travel is essential (in a way that applies to all or us) or because their lives are so restricted that they have a special need for periodic variation?

2. How do people who keep horses and cows ever leave their farm? Is it easier for the Amish, because there's a system of covering for each other when they take these Amish vacations? When I consider getting just one dog, I think of it making travel much more difficult (but perhaps that's because I'm pretty averse to travel, and I need to worry that if I added a strong anti-travel factor to my life, I'd never leave home).

3. The New Yorker doesn't seem to be looking down (or up) at the Amish. Maybe you'll disagree (assuming you can get to the photographs at this mostly subscription site). It's seems to be just a subject for photography. Look, this exists. Our camera is pointed at something you're not looking at. But maybe that's my subjectivity, looking at The New Yorker.

4. One of the benefits of limiting your life is that you preserve the potential to get great pleasure from things as simple adult-sized tricycles, swimming, volleyball, shuffleboard, and ice-cream cones.

April 20, 2018

What Clinton loyalist Philippe Reines said to NYT reporter Amy Chozick: "I didn’t know I had to say it was off the record when I was inside you."

That line — which Chozick called "grossly gynecological" — is from the movie “Thank You for Smoking," and it came up in a discussion of whether a prior conversation was off the record. Chozick didn't reveal Reines's name in her new book — "Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling" — but the WaPo reviewer (Carlos Lozada) revealed it, and Reines confirms, as he gives his riposte to Jezebel:
Amy deserves credit for confessing. Because anyone who’s seen “Thank You for Smoking” knows the problem isn’t Aaron Eckhart’s language or behavior, it’s Katie Holmes’s ethics and tactics. I said it then, I’d say it again today. Oh, one more thing: she and [New York Times assistant managing editor Carolyn] Ryan should know this about my own book I’m currently writing: there are tapes. And unlike some, I don’t bluff.
I'm not someone who's seen "Thank You for Smoking," but I can understand Reines's defense and its limits. He used a line that, he wants us to see, expressed the idea: I thought we had a close relationship, and you're a bad person if you use our closeness in a way that hurts me.

The limits:

1. The movie reference would only work if he knew she was quite familiar with the movie. I don't know the answer to that. Maybe he did!

2. He's bringing up sexual intercourse metaphorically. That suggests a level of familiarity that might have existed. It might be used to intimidate a woman, but it might suggest that the woman was included in the group, more like a man, that she was in the "locker room" where sexual metaphor is freely used. It's possible that Chozick is repeating intimate talk to outsiders who don't understand the style of repartee, and her ew, gross is really quite unfair to Reines.

3. Why would the analogy work? She was a NYT reporter and he was a campaign aide. Even if Chozick achieved phenomenal access to the campaign, how could it possibly equate to his getting "inside" her? Does Reines mean to say that she tricked him into believing that she was a lover and not a real journalist and now it's wrong of her to reveal herself as someone who never really loved him?

4. How could Reines possibly have been so naive? Anyone halfway sophisticated knows what Janet Malcolm famously wrote in "The Journalist and the Murderer":
Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. ...

The catastrophe suffered by the subject is no simple matter of an unflattering likeness or a misrepresentation of his views; what pains him, what rankles and sometimes drives him to extremes of vengefulness, is the deception that has been practiced on him. On reading the article or book in question, he has to face the fact that the journalist—who seemed so friendly and sympathetic, so keen to understand him fully, so remarkably attuned to his vision of things—never had the slightest intention of collaborating with him on his story but always intended to write a story of his own. The disparity between what seems to be the intention of an interview as it is taking place and what it actually turns out to have been in aid of always comes as a shock to the subject.
5. I'm just going to guess that Reines is bullshitting, playing the faux naif today, even though back at the time he meant to flummox Chozick. As for Chozick, I think she's making a power move too. She must know how devastating it is in these #MeToo times to accuse a man of sexual harassment in the workplace, which is more or less what she is doing. I think Reines is scared, but he's trying to act tough — There are tapes! I don’t bluff! She's unethical! Like Katie Holmes!

6. I love the utter tininess of this dispute. It's so Friday. Such a relief from all the Comeosity.

"The Democratic Party on Friday sued President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, the Russian government and the Wikileaks group, claiming a broad illegal conspiracy to help Trump win the 2016 election."

"The multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court says that 'In the Trump campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort' to mount 'a brazen attack on American Democracy,' which included Russian infiltration of the Democratic Party computer network... The suit alleges claims that include conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, misappropriation of trade secrets, trespass and other violations of the law."

CNBC Reports.

Now that there's a lawsuit, it's time to think about counterclaims. I'd like to see what the defendants would come up with using an equally aggressive, far-reaching approach to using the courts to promote your political cause.

"Orthodox and other dox."

The word "dox" came up in the comments, here, so I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, which was useless in defining the present-day verb, but amusing on the subject of the old noun (click to enlarge):

At the Bobblehead Café...


... you can say what you want.

And use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Free advice for any pol who has to visit the Holocaust Museum to prove he's not anti-Semitic: Just assume the Nazis are the bad guys in all the exhibits."

Jonathan Chait, quoted in "Anti-semitic 'Jews control the weather' DC lawmaker makes a disastrous 'conciliatory' visit to the Holocaust museum which sees him DEFEND the Nazis and then leave early" (Daily Mail).

"First Congregational Church of Oakland... has joined a small handful of like-minded congregations with a radical goal: to stop calling the police."

"Not for mental health crises, not for graffiti on their buildings, not even for acts of violence. These churches believe the American police system, criticized for its impact especially on people of color, is such a problem that they should wash their hands of it entirely," The Mercury News Reports.
“Can this actually be reformed, when it was actually created for the unjust distribution of resources or to police black and brown bodies?” [volunteer leader Nichola] Torbett asked. For her and for her fellow church members, the answer is no – the police don’t just need reform. The police need to be abandoned altogether.

The churches call their drastic approach “divesting” from policing... The project of divesting is organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a nationwide organization that tries to get white Americans working on behalf of racial justice....

“It’s a challenging ask,” acknowledged the Rev. Anne Dunlap, a United Church of Christ minister who leads SURJ’s outreach to faith communities. “It’s a big ask to invite us, as white folks, to think differently about what safety means. Who do we rely on? What is safe? For whom? Should our safety be predicated on violence for other communities? And if not, what do we do if we’re confronted with a situation, because we are, as congregations? . . . How do we handle it if there’s a burglary? How do we handle it if there’s a situation of violence or abuse in the congregation?... In the case of interpersonal violence, for the survivors as well as the perpetrators, we want to look at transformative justice... Would a punitive police and legal system actually bring us the desired outcome for everyone involved? What are our actual values? What do our traditions teach us about redemption?”
No mention of the #MeToo movement, which seems to be on a collision course. In this light, notice Torbett's rhetoric about policing "black and brown bodies." Why "bodies"? It seems that women are being called to subordinate their bodies to the even more vulnerable bodies of men — more vulnerable because the violence they encounter comes from the government. And yet it is women who are quoted in the article — Nichola Torbett and Anne Dunlap. For many many years, women were discouraged from calling the police on their men. Are we circling back to that position? How can that be, given the intensity of #MeToo?

One answer to my question "Why 'bodies'?" is that it's the rhetoric of Ta-Nehisi Coates. (Do a search the page for "body"/"bodies" on his Atlantic article "Letter to My Son/'Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage'" and you'll see what I mean.) But that simply restates the question.

What he did for love: "Maybe Trump did it all for Melania..."

Here's a far-out theory, designed to test the credulity of nearly everyone, by Martha Ross in The Mercury News.

What if Donald Trump just quite simply loves Melania?
Perhaps the 71-year-old Trump was worried his wife Melania would hear these stories and think he had cheated on her.... At least that’s the story Trump reportedly tried to tell Comey in their now heavily scrutinized conversations... With regard to the “pee tape,” Comey wrote in his book: “It bothered (Trump) if there was ‘even a one-percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true.”...

During a February 8, 2017 conversation in the Oval Office, Comey recounted in one of his memos, Trump said that Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that his country “had some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.”

But Trump also said that the “hookers thing is nonsense” and repeatedly told Comey he wanted the FBI to debunk the pee tape claim. His reason? Yes, Trump told Comey in a March 30, 2017 phone conversation that he was concerned that the “golden showers thing” would cast a “cloud” over his presidency. Trump insisted the claim wasn’t true, asking Comey: “Can you imagine me, hookers?”

Comey then writes in his book: “In an apparent play for my sympathy, (Trump) added that he has a beautiful wife and the whole thing has been very painful for her. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’ ”...
Other evidence marshaled at the link, but I won't try your patience. Here, let's just have a quick vote:

Was it love for Melania that brought on Trump's troubles?
pollcode.com free polls

Rescue tortoise.

The 90-pound beast was found in San Diego County after it fell off a wall — "escaping a dog." The county spent $4,000 repairing its broken shell (with "screws, zip ties and denture material").

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral argument on the case of the Marquette polisci prof who was suspended for something he wrote on his blog.

WPR reports:
Marquette suspended [John] McAdams after he wrote a blog attacking Cheryl Abbate, a graduate student and philosophy instructor, for telling students that everybody agrees with gay rights, and there was no reason to discuss it.

Abbate was confronted after class by a student who disagreed, and in a conversation he recorded, Abbate said the student didn't have a right to make homophobic comments in her class. The student then shared the recording with McAdams, who blogged about the exchange.

McAdams included a clickable link to her contact information and personal website, and Abbate began receiving negative, threatening emails. She has since left the university.

"This is not a case about free speech, it's about safety," Marquette attorney Ralph Weber told reporters after arguments. "You don't paint a target on the back of a student — put her out in front of a hostile audience so that she can receive vile and horrific threats — and claim that that is somehow consistent with your obligations as a professional."
McAdams was represented by Rick Esenberg, of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty President, who based his argument on academic freedom: "If academic freedom means anything at all, it has to mean that he can't be fired for writing that blog post." McAdams told what was apparently an accurate story and did not threaten Abbate. You can see that Marquette's lawyer is forced to talk about how the blog post could inspire others to threaten Abbate.

After the argument, McAdams said: "Well, three justices completely savaged Marquette's lawyer... However, I need more than three votes." And McAdams says he wants to return to teaching at Marquette: "Because while I have essentially zero respect for the people who are running the place, the students are pretty good." he said.
Marquette's attorney noted that McAdams was suspended by a unanimous vote of seven of his peers on the Marquette faculty. McAdams said a process like that would always work against conservatives like him because most professors are liberal.

"Images showed cash laying out in the open, on desks, drawers, as well as wads of money stuffed in envelopes and brown bags..."

From "Newly released images show glimpse of life inside Prince's Paisley Park" at CNN Entertainment, which is too shoddy an operation to bother with the laying/lying distinction:

The investigation into Prince's death has ended — there will be no criminal charges — and the file became public, including 100s of photographs of the strange enclave where he lived, worked, and died. The photographs, not lit for publicity purposes, make the place look very sad.

ADDED: Under the "wads of money," there's a CD, "The Best of Missing Persons." This is a band I don't remember, but Wikipedia says it was an L.A. band that combined new wave and hard rock. The singer (Dale Bozzio) was married to the drummer (Terry Bozzio) and they met while working with Frank Zappa in the 1970s.
Dale's quirky voice and heavy makeup made the band a favorite on MTV in the early 1980s. Her revealing outfits played a pivotal role in moving the culture of music videos towards that of overt sexual exhibitionism.
Let's listen (and look):

AND: The other CD — harder to read, because it's upside down — is The Chambers Brothers, "The Time Has Come." And the time had come for Prince. Lyrics:
Now the time has come (Time)
There's no place to run (Time)
I might get burned up by the sun (Time)
But I had my fun (Time)
I've been loved and put aside (Time)
I've been crushed by tumbling tide (Time)
And my soul has been psychedelicized (Time)
I've heard "The Time Has Come" many times. I even saw The Chambers Brothers in concert (in 1969), but never before googling the phrase just now had I associated it with Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter":
'The time has come,' the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.'

"President Trump spoke in intimate and candid terms to the former F.B.I. director James Comey about some of the most sensitive matters before the agency..."

"... including the salacious dossier detailing Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia and the investigation into Michael T. Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser, according to Mr. Comey’s closely guarded memos. The redacted and declassified memos — running 15 pages in total, and sent to Congress from the Justice Department on Thursday night — detail a series of phone calls and encounters between the two men in the months leading up to Mr. Comey’s firing.... The memos are exacting in their specificity, including details about who was sitting where, the precise times that conversations began and their durations. In some cases, Mr. Comey shared his accounts with others immediately afterward. These details add credibility to Mr. Comey’s account of events. Mr. Trump has disputed some parts, including asking Mr. Comey to shut down an investigation into Mr. Flynn....  The three Republican chairmen... issued a joint statement Thursday night [saying that w]hile Mr. Comey 'went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation'..."

Comey Memos Provide Intimate Look Into Trump Presidency" (NYT). And here's the link to PDFs of the 15 pages of memo.

There's also an interview with Comey on the NYT "Daily" podcast, which begins with Comey openly confessing to egomania (and stressing his conscious efforts to keep it under control). From Michael Barbaro's description of the interview:
I started the interview where Mr. Comey begins his book — actually before he begins his book, in the author’s note, with a strikingly candid observation about his own personality. “All people have flaws and I have many,” he wrote. “Some of mine, as you’ll discover in this book, are that I can be stubborn, prideful, overconfident and driven by ego.”

It seemed like his decision to itemize his own shortcomings before recounting his role in the investigation of Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump over the past two years might be an acknowledgment that those flaws help explain his conduct. But Mr. Comey quickly rejected the idea that his ego had played a role in how he managed the investigation into Mr. Trump....

Mr. Comey said his ritual of writing memos about conversations with Mr. Trump began after a meeting inside Trump Tower on Jan. 6, 2017 — but not because Mr. Trump, then president-elect, had said something especially alarming. Instead, Mr. Comey said, from the very first moments of their relationship, he believed Mr. Trump could not be trusted.

"I knew it. I knew this would happen to me. They were never going to let me be president."

Said Hillary Clinton, on election night, "a couple of inches" from the face of Robbie Mook, who'd just informed her she'd lost the election, quoted in "Hillary Clinton On Election Night: ‘They Were Never Going to Let Me Be President’/A new book from Amy Chozick has revelations and rumors about a doomed campaign" (The Daily Beast).

From early on, the Clinton camp saw Trump as an enemy to encourage, Chozick writes.... “An agenda for an upcoming campaign meeting sent by [Campaign Manager] Robby Mook’s office asked, ‘How do we maximize Trump?’” Chozick writes, describing a time when the GOP primary was still crowded.

Even as Trump surged in the polls, the Clinton camp still saw him as a danger to stronger candidates rather than such a candidate in his own right, Chozick reports, so that in August 2015, “when the main GOP debate came on, everyone pushed their pizza crust aside and stared transfixed at the TV set… [Campaign Manager] Robby [Mook] salivated when the debate came back on and Trump started to speak. ‘Shhhhh,’ Robby said, practically pressing his nose up to the TV. ‘I’ve gahtz to get me some Trump.’ Robby thought Rubio would be the nominee. Podesta was bullish on Kasich. Bill and Hillary, still stuck in the 1990s, feared the Bush surname most of all.”...

April 19, 2018

"Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”

Said Chuck Schumer, who is introducing a bill to decriminalize marijuana, as reported in Vice, which doesn't mention Trump's recent statements in support of getting the federal government out of the marijuana control business.

And here's a new article in The Atlantic by Reihan Salam, "Is It Too Late to Stop the Rise of Marijuana, Inc.?/America is on the path to legalization, but as pot becomes a big business, lawmakers aren't yet wrestling with how to regulate it effectively."

A sequence of museum rooms.




Photos from the Blanton Art Museum on the University of Texas Austin campus. The picture at the right in the first photo is Andy Warhol's portrait of Farrah Fawcett. In the second and third photo, the "Blue Woman in Black Chair" is by George Segal. The brownish squares on the right of the bottom photo is "Synecdoche" by Byron Kim. The painting all the way in the back in the first photo is "Painter and Loid Struggle for Soul Control" by Trenton Doyle Hancock.

IN THE COMMENTS: FWBuff said, "Isn't that the Farrah Fawcett portrait that Ryan O'Neal fought UT for?" Ah, yes! Thanks for reminding me. Blogged on October 22, 2013:

At the Whispering Wind Café...


... can you hear the wind blow?

Whatever you're buying, try to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Apparently, it's right-wing to find the "Hotep Jesus" Starbucks reparations video hilarious.

I had no idea that I was evincing right-wingery by laughing, but now I am learning, reading "Right-Wing Media Promote An Anti-Semitic Extremist To Mock Starbucks Controversy" (at Right Wing Watch).

I thought it was kind of a Saul Alinsky/Yippie move, but I guess nothing is supposed to be funny anymore. Oh, yeah, I'm remembering I have a tag for these times — the Era of That's Not Funny.

Here's the original video — high-level comedy:

Brilliant! So much to talk about. It's really a Borat-style stunt. I assume the barista isn't playing a role but spontaneously responding to Hotep Jesus's demand for "reparations" and embodying all the empathy she's learned to show, even as she's videoed doing something that must be a firing offense, handing out free coffee.

Yes, there is something wrong with making light of reparations, but that's what makes it funny. It's transgressive. I'll group this with the story of Randa Jarrar, who extracted dark humor from the death of Barbara Bush. Oh, no! Death is super-serious. Don't laugh at death!

These are the very things we should be laughing about — death, racism — not because they aren't serious but because they are.

Help me, Randa.

"Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India. The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching..."

"... Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females — the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex. China’s official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015, was a huge factor in creating this imbalance, as millions of couples were determined that their child should be a son.... Among men, loneliness and depression are widespread. Villages are emptying out. Men are learning to cook and perform other chores long relegated to women.... Bachelors are furiously building houses in China to attract wives, and prices are soaring. But otherwise they are not spending, and that in turn fuels China’s huge trade surplus. In India, there is the opposite effect: Because brides are scarce, families are under less pressure to save for expensive dowries... Trafficking of brides is on the rise. Foreign women are being recruited and lured to China, effectively creating similar imbalances in China’s neighbors... With the increase in men has come a surge in sexual crime in India and concerns about a rise in other crimes in both countries. Harassment of schoolgirls in India has in some towns sparked an effort to push back — but at a cost of restricting them to more protected lives...."

From "Too Many Men" (WaPo).

"Trump's 'great man' play on North Korea."

I just like the graphic. That and the fact that the writer (at Axios) has a name that is also a bird — Jonathan Livingston Seagull... I mean, Jonathan Swan.

One thing we learned from that Southwest Airlines blown-engine incident...

People don't know how to use the oxygen mask!

"Who’s Afraid of the Female Nude? Paintings of naked women, usually by clothed men, are suddenly sitting very uncomfortably on gallery walls."

By Michael Slenske and Molly Langmuir (New York Magazine)(interesting artwork at the link — warning: nudes!!):
While feminist art critics have for decades pointed out the shortcomings of the “male gaze,” the post-#MeToo reckoning with the art world’s systemic sexism, its finger-on-the-scale preference for male genius, has given that critique a newly powerful force. And the question of the moment has become: Is it still an artistically justifiable pursuit for a man to paint a naked woman?...

For emerging artists, there is the fear of a possibly career-derailing gestalt fail. “I’ve been in conversations with other [male artists], and they were just like, ‘I quit working with the figure. I’m only doing abstract work, because I don’t want to touch it,’ ” says Marty Schnapf while walking me through his recent solo show “Fissures in the Fold” at Wilding Cran Gallery in Los Angeles. He thinks we could be living through “a new Victorian age”....
IN THE COMMENTS: JPS said: "Who knew John Ashcroft was so woke?"

Randa Jarrar, the California State University at Fresno professor who mouthed off about Barbara Bush and got suddenly famous.

We're just looking for trouble these days, it seems. I was taught as a child not to react to attention-seekers because you'll only encourage them, and Jarrar's tweeted remarks on the death of Barbara Bush were, to me, the perfect example of the sort of thing you really ought to ignore. I ignored it yesterday, but I'm not going to ignore the failure to ignore, which I'm reading about in here, in WaPo.

Jarrar, whose area of expertise is creative writing, popped off a couple edgy tweets:
“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal”...

“I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.”
People got mad and actually incited the university to "review" Jarrar, who is a tenured professor. Lame. Jarrar apparently doesn't feel threatened, or so she tweets — "I will never be fired" and:
“You should tag my president @JosephlCastro. What I love about being an American professor is my right to free speech, and what I love about Fresno State is that I always feel protected and at home here,” Jarrar wrote. “GO BULLDOGS!”

On Wednesday, Castro told the Bee that Jarrar’s comments were “beyond free speech. This was disrespectful.”
What?! Freedom of speech excludes disrespect!??
“A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish,” he said. “We are all held accountable for our actions.”...

As the controversy swirled, Fresno City College said Jarrar had dropped out as the featured reader at an upcoming literary festival. Jarrar had been scheduled to headline Lit Hop on Saturday, but informed organizers this week that she was withdrawing, the college said.

“While we respect the right to free speech, even objectionable speech, Jarrar’s statements are her own and do not reflect the values of LitHop or Fresno City College,” the statement said. “We acknowledge the severity of her statements and take very seriously the concerns expressed throughout the community. The safety of each individual, including Jarrar’s, and all members of the LitHop and Fresno City College community is our paramount concern. We do not support violence or threats on social media or elsewhere; rather, we value civil discourse and look forward to the necessary healing ahead.”
Absolutely pathetic. It's really a wonder we've kept the idea of freedom of speech.

"The husband was sitting on the sofa in the living room, totally nude, clearly in a sexual position."

From an "Ask Amy" letter (WaPo) by a woman who was flummoxed by the lack of blinds on her neighbors windows. The comments focus on that one sentence:
What is a sitting sexual position on a sofa? Could he just have been watching the playoffs?
I do find amusing the indication that he was "sitting on the sofa in a sexual position." what could that even mean? Was he in "downward dog mode, or sporting a major erection? I wonder if they look over and wave when they see LW looking at them. Perhaps they are just into nudism. LW does not say they are having sex, just the husband watching TV naked.

The WaPo columnist and the WaPo commenters talk about the Starbucks incident in completely different ways.

The columnist, Karen Attiah, uses the incident as a jumping off point for challenging, big ideas:
What the Starbucks incident has in common with the lynchings of the past — as well as the police brutality and mass incarceration of the present — is the basic fact that black people in America can be physically eliminated at any time, in any place, for little reason — whether that means being kicked out of stores, suspended from school, priced out of their neighborhoods, locked up in jail or put in the grave....

Starbucks will do what it needs to do to protect its brand. But what is America doing to protect its own citizens of color?... And how can we up the social and legal costs for people who make life-threatening decisions by calling the police on peaceful black people?
There are over 900 comments, and I haven't read them all, but I have put them in the order of "most liked" and read a lot of them, and nobody seems even to acknowledge Attiah's idea. They're all back at the original Starbucks incident, picking into the merits of whether people can sit in the café without ordering anything. One of the most-liked comments is:
Oh my lord, give me a break already. Nobody has a right to plant themselves in a private establishment without even paying for a cup of coffee. The managers character has been unfairly denigrated, and by extension every Starbucks employee, and the cowardly response of ceo is to virtue signal. Want to hang around? Buy a bloody muffin. Stop blaming others for consequences of your actions.
The most-liked item responds to that:
For everyone flogging the “you don’t have the right to loiter” line, STARBUCKS says we do and these guys did. Starbucks says they routinely allow - even encourage - people to hang out at their stores. It’s part of their brand.

So STARBUCKS says these guys did nothing wrong and the manager inappropriately called the police. Why are you people so invested in blaming the black guys when the establishment whose side you’re taking IS NOT ON YOUR SIDE??
And the comments go on and on over this debate. I haven't encountered anyone dealing with what Attiah called "the basic fact that black people in America can be physically eliminated at any time" — that there's an insidious, pervasive system encompassing everything from murder to expensive real estate.

I reordered the comments to put the newest one first, and I did get something addressing Attiah's big reach. Somebody called all-comments-matter quotes Attiah's "What the Starbucks incident has in common with the lynchings of the past" for the purpose of decisively rejecting it:
Think rationally for a moment about the 2 things that Attiah is attempting to connect on some equivalent level...and tell me, honestly with a straight face, that you can take this seriously.

April 18, 2018






The interior view, with more explanation is here.

"Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo’s newly disclosed trip to North Korea to lay the groundwork for denuclearization talks is earning him grudging praise..."

"... from senators opposed to his bid to be the nation’s top diplomat — a potentially important development as Pompeo tries to shore up at least some Democratic support for his confirmation vote," reports WaPo.
“I’m glad that there’s some preparatory work happening for this potential summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday morning on MSNBC. “I’m very worried that this summit is going to go very badly . . . but I think we should all admit that it’s good, not bad, that the Trump administration is trying to do some work ahead of this meeting, perhaps setting the stage for success rather than failure.”

“The preparation, certainly, is welcome — there’s no way that Donald Trump should go into that meeting without a lot of groundwork being laid,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, also speaking on MSNBC. But, he added, as the current CIA director, “Pompeo is the wrong person to be engaging in diplomacy.”
"Grudging" is the right word. The OED defines it as "unwilling, reluctant; resentful, envying."

How to build a church on a state university campus.

It's Ellsworth Kelly's "Austin" at the University of Texas, explained here. Here are some of my photographs of the interior:






Here's some discussion of the religious content, in Texas Monthly:
Kelly, who died in 2015 at age 92, was a master of geometry and color.... Kelly’s rainbow-bright Austin sanctuary contains elements familiar to a religious building, but its creator took some liberties. Three sets of geometric stained-glass windows splash color across the building’s cruciform layout. A totemic sculpture stands roughly where the altar ought to be. On the walls, fourteen black-and-white marble panels depict abstract interpretations of Christ’s road to Golgotha. Austin, according to [Carter Foster, the deputy director for curatorial affairs at the Blanton Museum of Art], is a study in devotional architecture that, like its creator, avoids specific religious commitment. “It’s a chapel in form but not in function,” Foster explains. “He’s referring to art history as much as any ideology.”...

[T]he artist set specific requirements for the building... it would be considered a work of art, not a religious building.... UT has no religious affiliation...

To see the exterior, go here.

"A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)! "

Tweets Trump about the artist's rendering of the man who Stormy Daniels says threatened her years ago.

Look, if she were just making up a face, why would she make him absurdly, cartoonishly good looking? It seems like a schoolgirl's dream of the boy I'd like to meet. That makes it inherently implausible. Why would the handsomest guy in the world take on the work of being a random thug?And why would a rich man send out a really cute guy to scare a woman? Shouldn't he look more thuggish? But see, that's evidence that this is the real thing: You wouldn't make this up. Would you?

ADDED: Here at Meadhouse, we think we have a match:


(Photo previously blogged here.)

"There. I said it."

"De Blasio’s rat-killing demonstration is a complete disaster."

NY Post reports:
Like a scene from “Tom and Jerry,” workers fruitlessly tried to stomp on the agile rodent when it scurried from a hole in which dry ice had been dropped in an effort to control the furry pests. One worker even swung a shovel at the plucky rat in a comical whack-a-mole routine. But no one could lay a hand on the tiny animal, which dodged all the would-be rat-slayers at the Bushwick Houses and scampered to safety at a playground on Humboldt Street....
ADDED: I'm giving this the animal cruelty tag. The tone of the article is that it's just very funny, but bashing an animal with a shovel isn't a joke.

Why male faculty should object to being called by their first names.

In my 30+ years of teaching law students, I think a student called me by my first name once or twice. It's not something I ever talked about, what to call me. I don't particularly know what the other professors did, but it was never an issue for me.

"Mercifully, rock has been displaced by hip-hop, with its daring formal innovations, its blistering polemics and its vital role as a sounding board for powerful social movements."

"A genre aggressively committed to singles, as opposed to the creaky album-and-tour model that rock stubbornly insists upon even at the indie level, hip-hop provides a running commentary on the culture as it happens — a musical newsfeed in real time. There’s a practical reason for this: While other musicians were whining about their paltry Spotify royalty checks and trying to monetize their fading careers, hip-hop artists gamed the Web in the 2010s and made it their bullhorn and promotional tool. For them, the Internet isn’t a distribution system, or worse, an evil force siphoning money from musicians; it’s their primary medium for artistic expression."

From "Sorry, rock fans. Hip-hop is the only genre that matters right now." by Marc Weingarten (WaPo)(on the occasion of a Pulitzer Prize for Kendrick Lamar’s “Damn”). Weingarten makes a number of arguments, but the #1 thing I'm seeing here is that what matters is social media, not music, and rap is social media.