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."

"A 12-year-old Sydney boy stole his parents’ credit card, tricked his grandmother into giving him his passport and flew to Bali on his own after a family argument."

The Guardian reports.
Telling his family he was going to school, he rode his razor scooter to his local train station, from where he travelled to the airport and, using a self-service check-in terminal, boarded a flight for Perth, then another for Indonesia....

Discovering he was in Bali, his mother, Emma, flew there to collect him. Emma said the boy doesn’t like hearing the word “no”. “Shocked, disgusted, there’s no emotion to feel what we felt when we found he left overseas,” she told...
There’s no emotion to feel what we felt....

How could such a smart boy have such a stupid mother? I hypothesize that intelligence is not hereditary, and the condition of having a stupid mother encourages the development of one's own ideas, schemes, and skills.

"12 Rules sets out an interesting and complex model for humanity, and it really has nothing to do with petting a cat or taking your tablets or being kind to lobsters."

"It is about strength, courage, responsibility, and suffering, but it is deep and difficult, and it is not easy to pigeonhole. In a sense, 12 Rules contains a number of hidden structures and hidden processes, and confusingly, these are not always made explicit in the text. The first of these is Deep Time. We are biological creatures, evolved beings who can only be truly understood through a model that encapsulates the notion of geological time.... Quite apart from the immensity of Deep Time, our story must take into account indescribable spans of historical time... His message is far from a 'Christian' one: it is a Jungian one...  Like Jung, Peterson senses a secret unrest that gnaws at the roots of our being, because we have forgotten too much from our long and dangerous journey. We must listen to our myths, understand them, and learn from them.... This leads to a second hidden concept: the Unconscious. Here Peterson recaptures ground that’s become unfashionable in modern psychology. His model is heavily influenced by Freud and Jung. 'You don’t know yourself,' he says. We are not who we thought we were. We carry secret, shameful knowledge that’s scarcely accessible to conscious exploration (Freud). We also carry elements of a Collective Unconscious (Jung) that’s glimpsed via our myths and creation narratives. If you think you are an atheist you are wrong, says Peterson, because your mind has been bent and shaped and molded by a god-fearing past stretching back into the unfathomable abysm of time."

From "Jordan Peterson and the Return of the Stoics/His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it" by Tim Rogers in The American Conservative.

You can buy the book at Amazon, here.

And here's Jordan Peterson doing a nice job on Bill Maher's show last Friday:

An art collector has paid $6.4 million over the years for a Jeff Koons sculpture called “Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels (Magenta)" that may not even be in the process of getting made.

Now, he's suing, saying things like "'Ponzi meets The Producers" in the complaint, reports Courthouse News Service.
“Defendants’ enterprise of ostensible civil corruption bleeds collectors of deposits and payments, drawing on their funding without supplying a product in exchange therefor,” the complaint states. “While the design, manufacture and completion of the so-called Jeff Koons sculptures wallow at best and are continually and fraudulently postponed by a factor of years and contracted collectors wait interminably for delivery, Larry Gagosian and Jeff Koons live extravagant lifestyles financed in part by inappropriate and highly questionable practices underwritten by plaintiff and other collectors.”

Tananbaum says the refusal of Gagosian and Koons to identify the foundry that is purportedly manufacturing the sculptures keeps collectors in the dark as they manufacture false hope. Meantime the money Gagosian and Koons leech from collectors through “brutal payment plans” is used to fulfill a host of other obligations including “the manufacture of sculptures or other contracted “artistic” obligations commissioned at an earlier date by similarly duped collectors and/or to line the pockets of defendants.”

“The ‘estimated completion dates’ supplied by defendants to the collectors are a sham from the very outset,” the complaint states. “Defendants have and had no intention of completing the sculptures according to a completion and delivery schedule. At heart, this interest-free loan system – unbeknownst to the collectors – is less about creating timeless works of art and more about creating an ouroboros by which defendants maintain a never-depleting source of funds at the expense of eager and trusting collectors.”
My questions are: What were the terms of the contract you signed, you rich knucklehead? And: Is the complaint a work of art? And: Why can I never remember what an ouroboros is and have to look it up every damned time?

In China, the questionable aesthetics of "refining" cities and getting rid of whatever is zangluancha.

By Zhou Wang (assistant professor at Nankai University’s Zhou Enlai School of Government) in Sixth Tone:
First, municipal officials have embraced the need to “refine” the country’s cities. From vast metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to thousands of smaller Chinese cities, the same government-sponsored buzzwords appear: “high-end,” “aesthetically pleasing,” “cosmopolitan.” Chinese urban planners strive to realize socially positive notions of “modern” and “green” cities, and the most successful are recognized by government ministries in a series of competitions. Cities are also eager to earn national awards for being exceptionally clean or “civilized.”

Municipal officials define “refinement” in remarkably similar ways. Typically, it involves inviting a renowned international architect to design a capital-intensive landmark building — say, Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House or Meinhard von Gerkan’s Chongqing Grand Theater. Officials may also clear huge public squares in front of municipal government buildings, construct avant-garde statues largely devoid of any local cultural or historical significance, and erect “central business districts” that resemble cut-and-pasted copies of the Manhattan skyline. The natural result of this is cities that are indistinguishable from one another, something that continues to be a source of public complaint.

“Refinement” also means clean urban environments, a sense of order, and standards for the appearance of residences and street advertisements... Urban managers don’t want their cities referred to as zangluancha — a colloquial term used for anything substandard that comprises the characters for “dirty,” “messy,” and “inferior.”...
ADDED: There's a link on zangluancha that goes to "My Mission to Clean Up China’s Atrocious Public Toilets" by the founder of an organization devoted to that mission:

"Travis Reinking, the suspected Waffle House shooter, feared pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him in his Illinois hometown..."

"... and hacking his phone and Netflix account, according to fits of delusions detailed in police reports," the NY Daily News reports.
When confronted by cops in a parking lot near Peoria during the 2016 incident, Tazewell County Sheriff's Office deputies said Reinking was convinced the singer... was following him. He believed she wanted to meet him at a nearby Dairy Queen.

He tried meeting Swift at the fast food joint but she yelled at him from across the street and bolted, according to his version of events. He gave chase "in an attempt to get her to stop harassing him," the police report read.

"Taylor climbed up the side of a building and Travis followed. However, when he reached the rooftop, Taylor was gone," according to the report.
Reinking is still on the loose, as of this 8:30 AM report:
Reinking, a 29-year-old Illinois native, was last seen wearing black pants as he ran away from his Antioch, Tenn., apartment complex early Sunday.

He previously stormed into the Waffle House wearing nothing but a green jacket, wielding an AR-15-style rifle, at about 3:25 a.m. local time.

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 2012 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.