July 25, 2017

At the Ugly Lily Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like while I go out for a walk on this nicely cool July morning in Madison, Wisconsin, where there are way too many lilies in far too many grotesque colors.

And you can shop about whatever you like through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Many of today’s couples are planning their elopements more closely than ever..."

"... some plotting secret ceremonies several months in advance and spending $15,000 or more for their dream weddings — without a hundred of their closest family and friends," the NYT reports.
They search for stunning exotic backdrops for their ceremonies, shop in secret for the perfect dress, hire florists to arrange a Pinterest-worthy bouquet, hire photographers, even order specialty cakes. But in lieu of the invitations, friends learn about the wedding afterward in a cheeky Facebook or Instagram post, a photo announcing, “We Eloped.”...

Of course, there’s a downside to eloping. Family members are often stung when they get the news — parents’ dreams of seeing their son at the altar or their daughter walking down the aisle crushed, since they’ll never share with their child one of life’s greatest traditional rites of passage....
Well, if you make a big fancy thing out of it, you give people more reason to feel left out. Maybe for some people, that is what they want to say.

ALSO: There's a difference between the surprise "We eloped" announcement and going off and getting married on your own when everyone knows that's what you are doing (as Meade and I did). There are many other important variables here: Is it a financial decision — a preference for a big honeymoon rather than a big wedding? Are you under the impression that people don't really want to attend your wedding? Is this a second wedding? Have you already been living together? Is a sincere religious ceremony part of the wedding?

AND: Maybe what's happening is that for many people, social media is more important than in-person social relationships. Doing things so they'll look great in social media may make sense. Everyone can see it. The photographers don't get in anyone's way. No one needs to spend money to travel see an elaborately staged event or take any real time out of their day. They get an immediate intimate look at something lovely and heart-warming and they power on through their day. Meanwhile the couple doesn't have to worry about tending to all the logistics and catering to the feelings of so many people who've troubled themselves to arrive at an event that might not really be that much fun for them. It may be better for almost everyone.

"Psychiatry group tells members they can defy ‘Goldwater rule’ and comment on Trump’s mental health."

The executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association emailed its 3,500 members, STAT reports.
The impetus for the email was “belief in the value of psychoanalytic knowledge in explaining human behavior,” said psychoanalytic association past president Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, a psychiatrist in Chicago. “We don’t want to prohibit our members from using their knowledge responsibly.”

That responsibility is especially great today, she told STAT, “since Trump’s behavior is so different from anything we’ve seen before” in a commander in chief.

An increasing number of psychologists and psychiatrists have denounced the restriction as a “gag rule” and flouted it, with some arguing they have a “duty to warn” the public about what they see as Trump’s narcissism, impulsivity, poor attention span, paranoia, and other traits that, they believe, impair his ability to lead....

“In the case of Donald Trump, there is an extraordinary abundance of speech and behavior on which one could form a judgment,” [said Dr. Leonard Glass, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School]. “It’s not definitive, it’s an informed hypothesis, and one we should be able to offer rather than the stunning silence demanded by the Goldwater rule.”
Let them speak, and then the rest of us will speak about whether they are professionals deserving of deference or human beings like the rest of us who can't keep our political preferences from skewing whatever it is we might think about some pressing issue of the day.

Go ahead, expose yourselves. Let us see all narcissism, impulsivity, poor attention span, paranoia, and other traits that impair your ability to lead.

IN THE COMMENTS: David said:
The percentage of hacks, cranks and fools in the mental health "profession" is stunningly high. And many of them are in a position to make individual lives worse.
And Michael K (who is a surgeon) said:
I personally know several who went into Psychiatry to deal with their own mental health problems. One guy was a former surgery resident who went full psychotic and started to be treated by the chief of Psychiatry at a university medial center. That chief of Psychiatry then accepted him into the residency which he finished. He was brilliant but as crazy as anyone I've ever seen.

How to get employees to volunteer to have company microchips implanted in their hands.

It's happening at Three Square Market, a technology company here in Wisconsin, the NYT reports:
“It was pretty much 100 percent yes right from the get-go for me,” said Sam Bengtson, a software engineer. “In the next five to 10 years, this is going to be something that isn’t scoffed at so much, or is more normal. So I like to jump on the bandwagon with these kind of things early, just to say that I have it.”...

“Because it’s new, I don’t know enough about it yet,” [Melissa Timmins, the company’s sales director]. “I’m a little nervous about implanting something into my body.... I think it’s pretty exciting to be part of something new like this... I know down the road, it’s going to be the next big thing, and we’re on the cutting edge of it.”...

“We are a technology company, when all is said and done, and they’re excited about it,” [said Dewey Wahlin, general manager of Three Square.] “They see this as the future.”
What future do you have in a technology company that is about the future if you don't want the technology of the future?

How can you be the nervous person who says no, when the other employees are openly enthusing about liking to "jump on the bandwagon"?

The jumping-on-the-bandwagon metaphor has traditionally been a way of disparaging people who are acting unthinkingly out of a fear of getting left behind. Making it seems as though there's a bandwagon is a way to get people to go along without serious contemplation.

In the OED, we see the development of "bandwagon" as a metaphor:
855 P. T. Barnum Life 205 At Vicksburg we sold all our land conveyances excepting four horses and the ‘band wagon’.
1893 Congress. Rec. 25 Aug. 897/1 It is a lamentable fact that.. our commercial enemy..should come along with a band wagon loaded with hobgoblins.
1899 T. Roosevelt Let. 28 Apr. (1951) II. 999 When I once became sure of one majority they tumbled over each other to get aboard the band wagon....
1933 Amer. Speech 8 i. 22/2 The socialists climbed on the alliteration band-wagon with Sail safely and surely with Socialism....
1958 Times Lit. Suppl. 15 Aug. p. xxxii/1 The whipping-up of public emotions has been made the excuse for the cult of band-waggon personalities.

"I Don’t Want to Watch Slavery Fan Fiction."

Writes Roxane Gay (in the NYT) on the occasion of the announcement that HBO will be doing a series called "Confederate," an alternative history story based on the interesting if obvious premise that the South pulled off its secession from the Union and kept slavery going.
When I first read about “Confederate,” however, I felt exhausted, simply because I have long been exhausted by slavery narratives...

This show’s premise highlights the limits of the imagination in a world where oppression thrives. These creators can imagine a world where the Confederacy won the Civil War and black people are still enslaved, but they can’t or aren’t interested in imagining a world where, say, things went in a completely different direction after the Civil War and, say, white people are enslaved. Or a world where slavery never happened at all. What would happen in a show where American Indians won the conflicts in which they were embroiled as the British and French and other European nations colonized this country? What would happen if Mexicans won the Mexican-American War and Texas and California were still part of Mexico?

It is curious that time and again, when people create alternate histories, they are largely replicating a history we already know, and intimately. They are replicating histories where whiteness thrives and people of color remain oppressed....

We do not make art in a vacuum isolated from sociopolitical context. We live in a starkly divided country with a president who is shamefully ill equipped to bridge that divide. I cannot help worrying that there are people, emboldened by this administration, who will watch a show like “Confederate” and see it as inspiration, rather than a cautionary tale.

"Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly."

I'm not a fan of recent Washington Post headlines, but that one expresses how I've been feeling.
Sessions’s tight relationship with Trump and the White House has unraveled since he recused himself in March from the Russia probe. The president had privately complained about that decision for weeks, and in an interview with the New York Times last week he said he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general had he known that Sessions would do such a thing....

Among the names being floated as possible Sessions replacements are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to people familiar with the conversations....
I am not comfortable with the way Sessions is being treated, even though I get why Trump is bitterly disappointed in him. Must this be done in public? It's so awkward, so... unpresidential.

Or is this what we've been told to see as MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL?

Look at how cute he thinks he is:

Oh, I don't know, maybe Obama and Bill Clinton and the Bush I & II and Ronald Reagan all answered reporters with wordless facial expressions like that. You can tell how much you hate or love the President by how much this sort of thing works on you.

How did you react to Trump's expression in that clip? Pick what's closest to your response:
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Headline — "School racism row: Parents don’t want a black principal" — doesn't mean what I thought.

It's news from Johnannesburg, South Africa:
School Governing Body member Henry Charles said... “During the process we were asked what criteria are we going to use with race. I stood up and said I would score five for coloureds and I’ll score four for black people... They said coloureds and blacks are the same and I said but this is a coloured area and they said I am being racist. We want a coloured principal because this is a coloured area”....

The department spokesman Oupa Bodibe said: “The department has learnt the disturbing news that the community in Klipspruit West has rejected the principal because of skin colour. This action is strongly condemned, as it runs against the non-racial principles of our society. Educators are appointed on the basis of qualification and experience.”
IN THE COMMENTS: Paco Wové asks:
So, why are you getting news from South African school districts? Do you have some kind of Racial Grievance Aggregator news feed software running?
I answer:
I have a Google alert set up for Robin Givhan, whose writing I enjoy. Her name appeared in an article in IOL (which I'd never heard of) called "Why Serena was victorious in her nakedness," which I clicked on but wasn't interested in blogging. There was a 5-item "most read" list on the page:

1. News of son's death kills dad
2. Man breaks car's window, tries to snatch girl from dad
3. School racism row: Parents don’t want a black principal
4. Fears of ‘Ramaphosa camp’ purge
5. Kushe ucansi emcimbini kamaskandi eMabhida

Tempting as #5 is, I chose #3.
On a more serious note, surfed said...
The predominately black inner city high schools schools in my city get black principals EVERYTIME and have for decades upon decades upon decades. The thought of a white principal at these schools is laughable - call it what you will. I know, because I spent 37 years as a teacher there for immigrant and refugees there. There's much more I could elaborate on but won't. It is what it is.

July 24, 2017

"Richard Dawkins' Berkeley event cancelled for 'Islamophobia.'"

BBC reports.
[KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California], which is not affiliated with the University of California, said in a letter - which Mr Dawkins published online - that it does not support "hurtful" or "abusive speech."...

[Dawkins] said harsh statements he has made in the past have been directed at "IslamISM" - apparently referring to those who use the religion for political objectives - and not adherents of the faith.

"I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief," Professor Dawkins writes. He also pointed out that he has been a "frequent critic of Christianity but have never been de-platformed for that"...

"It is entirely possible that our intelligence agencies know Russia interfered with our elections."

"But they packaged it exactly like a bunch of lying weasels who are simply hoping they are right. I hope that’s just bad brand management and nothing worse."

Writes Scott Adams in "How 'Confident' are Intelligence Agencies that Russia Interfered with the Election?" ("Confident" is the word you'd use when you were not certain.)

"Rep. Blake Farenthold on Monday blamed 'some female senators from the Northeast' for hampering Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare..."

"... telling a local radio station that he might challenge them to a duel if the allegedly obstructive lawmakers were men."

What a loser. His attempt at posing as manly is so lame he doesn't even get the ethic of dueling right.

"The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department..."

"...even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments."
Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton's husband, and sought to meet the former U.S. president in person the following year to present him the check, according to an email from a foundation official to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. The email, among thousands hacked from Podesta's account, was published last month by WikiLeaks.
ADDED: I read that as new news, but I see it's from just before the election. I didn't remember.

AND: Someone at Facebook was highlighting the story. I need to learn to double-check dates before I assume that what looks like news to me is actually new. Presumably, this Facebook friend is making some sort of point about proportionality and Trump's perceived misdoings.

"Prominent French academic and author, Anne Dufourmantelle, who wrote about the importance of taking risks, died Friday while trying to rescue a drowning child."

Anne Dufourmantelle, 53, suffered a heart attack trying to reach a 10-year-old boy in high waves at a beach in Saint-Tropez.

Here's something she said a couple years ago:
"The idea of absolute security — like 'zero risk' — is a fantasy. ... Being alive is a risk.... When there really is a danger that must be faced in order to survive, as for example during the Blitz in London, there is a strong incentive for action, dedication, and surpassing oneself."

2 clouds with the same number.

I'm watching those right now as a consequence of a conversation I started on Facebook, which began:
I'm thinking of the old Rolling Stones song "Get Off of My Cloud," because I'm aware of my own instinct to step on the clouds of others. Even though you can't step on a cloud. I'm cynical re clouds. Joni Mitchell sang "Clouds got in my way." No, they didn't. But if you'd like to say I need to stop thinking about all those songs from the 1960s, get off of my cloud.
Pick a cloud.
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"Impeachment is an outlet for anger and frustration, which I share, but politics ain't therapy. [The President] would much rather debate impeachment than...."

Just a quote from Barney Frank from 2006 that I happened to run across and thought might be helpful to people these days.

The words at the ellipsis were "the disastrous war in Iraq." The President at the time was, of course, George Bush, and a motion had been filed in the House to investigate and perhaps impeach him.

50 years ago today: Day 2 of the 12th Street Riot.

ADDED: From the Wikipedia article on the riots:
The violence escalated throughout [the second day], resulting in some 483 fires, 231 incidents reported per hour, and 1,800 arrests. Looting and arson were widespread. Black-owned businesses were not spared. One of the first stores looted in Detroit was Hardy's drug store, owned by blacks and known for filling prescriptions on credit. Detroit's leading black-owned women's clothing store was burned, as was one of the city's best-loved black restaurants. In the wake of the riots, a black merchant said, "you were going to get looted no matter what color you were."Firefighters of the Detroit Fire Department who were attempting to fight the fires were shot at by rioters. During the riots, 2,498 rifles and 38 handguns were stolen from local stores. It was obvious that the Detroit, County, and Michigan forces were unable to restore order.
The city police were overwhelmed, and the Michigan State Police and the Wayne County Sheriff's Department came in. The Michigan National Guardsmen arrived but were "not authorized to arrest people." The governor, George Romney, wanted President Lyndon B. Johnson to send in federal troops, and Johnson too the position that Romney needed first to declare a "state of insurrection." Johnson pointed at the Insurrection Act, but it was also about the upcoming presidential election:
George Romney was expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, and President Johnson, a Democrat, did not want to commit troops solely on Romney's direction. 
Romney also had trouble with the mayor:
Added to this was Mayor Jerome Cavanagh's own political and personal clash with Romney. Cavanagh, a young Irish Catholic Democrat who had cultivated harmonious relations with black leaders, both inside and outside the city, was initially reluctant to ask Romney, a Republican, for assistance.
And John Conyers — then as now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives — opposed federal troops and thought he could help by "driving along 12th Street with a loudspeaker asking people to return to their homes."
Reportedly, Conyers stood on the hood of the car and shouted through a bullhorn, "We're with you! But, please! This is not the way to do things! Please go back to your homes!" But the crowd refused to listen. Conyers' car was pelted with rocks and bottles.
Conyers joined the House of Representatives in 1965, and he is now the Dean of the United States House of Representatives, which means he's the longest-serving member of the house. He's been there 52 years, and he's 88.

"Our son is an absolute warrior and we will miss him terribly. One little boy has brought the world together."

"His body, heart and soul may soon be gone but his spirit will live on indefinitely and he will make a difference for years to come. We are now going to spend our most precious moments with Charlie who will not make it to his first birthday. We now ask for privacy. Mum and dad love you so much. We always have and always will and we say sorry we didn't save you. We had a chance and we were not allowed. Sleep tight baby boy Charlie Matthew William Gard. Our little hero. Thank you."

The parents of Charlie Gard end their legal battle. We're told that new tests have convinced them that the damage the baby has already suffered is irreversible and that further treatment would inflict pain (which is what the doctors seem to have believed throughout the legal proceedings).

"Some 12.2 million people live within the 70-mile-wide band where the eclipse will be total — and millions more are expected to travel to witness it firsthand."

"From Oregon to South Carolina, hotel bookings have skyrocketed. Charleston, SC (where totality will be visible for more than a minute), is almost at capacity, with some lodgings having sold out two months ago. In Oregon, cases of motels dropping reservations and then attempting to resell them for up to $1,000 a night have gotten so bad that the state’s attorney general has opened an investigation.... Two-thirds of America lives within a day’s drive of the path of totality, and highways could turn into the Great American Traffic Jam. For a New Yorker, the fastest route to totality is a 10-hour drive down I-95 to the vicinity of Santee, SC. The problem is that that’s also the 'fastest' route to the eclipse zone for 74.4 million other people along the Eastern Corridor. As [retired NASA astrophysicist Fred] Espenak put it: 'Surfaces are gonna be stressed.'"

From "This August 2017 date could paralyze America" (in the NY Post).

ADDED: Can some of you experts advise us on what kind of equipment we'll need to look at the eclipse? Is something like this good enough? Should we spring for these?

AND: These look excellent.

"It’s hard to appreciate how little Warhol’s art was worth at the time. Twenty-five hundred was the going rate at the time. Why would Andy give him a fake?"

"He had plenty of electric chairs. They were not an easy sell. They weren’t decorative in the conventional sense. It’s a brutal image."

He = Alice Cooper, who "says he remembers having a conversation with Warhol about the picture. He thinks the conversation was real, but he couldn’t put his hand on a Bible and say that it was."

"Little Electric Chair" (from the "Death and Disaster" series) was found rolled up in a tube in storage.
Never stretched on a frame, it sat in storage alongside touring artefacts including an electric chair that Cooper used in the early 70s as part of his ghoulish stage show.
I saw that show, actually. I remember the electric chair. It must have been July 28, 1971 in Wildwood, New Jersey. That was the "Love It to Death" tour:
The Love It to Death tour featured an elaborate shock rock live show: during "Ballad of Dwight Fry"—about an inmate in an insane asylum—Cooper would be dragged offstage and return in a straitjacket, and the show climaxed with Cooper's mock execution in a prop electric chair during "Black Juju."
Let's see if Alice Cooper is mentioned in "The Andy Warhol Diaries." Yes! Exactly once:
Bianca took us to On the Rox, owned by Lou Adler. When we got there it was Ringo Starr and Alice Cooper. I’m not saying they were the only celebrities there— they were the only people there, and they were in the john. Whoever is there is in the john taking coke. Bianca introduced me to Ringo. Alice came over to say hello. Bianca left because she was staying out in Malibu and Mick was coming in and then leaving town the next day so she wanted to get home early to see him.
Those were the days.

And here's what Alice Cooper said last August about the 2016 election:
[The election is] funny in a Kurt Vonnegut kind of way. It's also funny and kind of seriously demented that nobody wants to vote for a candidate; they want to vote against the other candidate. I can't think of anybody that's going, "I really like Hillary. I'm going to vote for her." No, it's: "I'm voting for Hillary 'cause I hate Trump." Or it's: "I hate Trump, but I hate her worse." Nobody's actually for anybody.... I honestly cannot in my head look at either candidate and say, "Oh, yeah. I'm behind that." So it's weird. I'm going to vote, but it's really going to be one of those last-minute decisions going."
Ha ha. Me too. That's exactly what happened to me. I decided which one I would vote for as I walked to the poll. (That's all I'll say about how I voted.)

In Myanmar, after heavy rains, the Thiri Yadana Pyilone Chantha Pagoda slid into the Ayeyarwaddy River.

Beastly graphics.

The Daily Beast is going for a distinctive graphic style. Here's how the top of the front page looks right now:

Red and yellow predominate, but notice the streaks of magenta in the red background and the intense blue of Melania's shoulder (and also dotted around around her jacket).

Like the colors, gender is heightened and highly contrasted. 2 of the 4 rectangles are feminine, 2 are masculine. The males are: 1. In shadows, 2. Brutally violent, 3. Not individuals. The females are: 1. Specific individuals, 2. Distinguished from each other through color and style, 3. Distinguished morally: One is depicted as a saint, the other as complicated, mysterious, and dangerous.

Here's "Inside the Cult of Melania Trump/Does the first lady of the United States have something she’s afraid to confront in the little city where she grew up?" It's really just an article about Melania's home town:
Today, [Melania's] family has a modern two-floor white house in the center of the modern part of Sevnica. It has a built-in garage, a mansard floor, a balcony, and a small satellite dish on the roof. While not grandiose, it is still far from the modest apartment where Melania and her sister Ines grew up.
What's a mansard floor? That's a mistake, no?
The house is not far from a statue of an enormous boot, a monument installed at the entrance to the city in honor of local Kopitarna shoe factory. (Last year Kopitarna sent Ms. Trump “White House” slippers as a present.)...
That's comically dull. Meanwhile, we hear of Bojan Pozar, who's writing (or has written) a book about Melania and who "interviewed several local men who claimed that they had once been Melania’s boyfriends" and said she was "cold" — which either means Melania was (and maybe is) cold or that these guys never really attained the elevated status that we in the United States call "boyfriend."

Also in the article, the way some Slovenians would like to hear Melania speak Slovenian and would like her to wear Slovenian clothes. So... basically, this is a completely inconsequential puff piece about Melania, and it contains absolutely nothing that's religion-like or cultish about anybody's interest in her. Nor is there anything to justify the subtitle, nothing about Melania's fear of anything back home.

But it's a fascinating graphic. It made me think of another article about an American First Lady, one that really did work on the idea religion — "Saint Hillary," a cover story by Michael Kelly in the NYT Magazine in 1993 (previously blogged here). Sample text:
Driven by the increasingly common view that something is terribly awry with modern life, Mrs. Clinton is searching for not merely programmatic answers but for The Answer. Something in the Meaning of It All line, something that would inform everything from her imminent and all-encompassing health care proposal to ways in which the state might encourage parents not to let their children wander all hours of the night in shopping malls.

When it is suggested that she sounds as though she's trying to come up with a sort of unified-field theory of life, she says, excitedly, "That's right, that's exactly right!"
The 1993 cover image of Hillary makes a nice contrast to the graphics that sear the Daily Beast today. The color idea here was white white white: