May 31, 2016

Does Simon Cowell see Donald Trump as a reality TV show judge?

The NYT asks a great question:
You basically created the role of the blunt-speaking judge on competition shows. A couple of years after you did it, Donald Trump did it on “The Apprentice” on NBC. When you see him campaigning, do you see a reality TV show judge?
He gives an answer, but it's not quite an answer to the question asked:
People are always drawn to people who speak bluntly. Whether you agree or disagree, you listen. You see the same thing with Bernie Sanders. The guy’s in his early 70s and every teenage kid is listening to him. I think Donald Trump understood when you’re on TV you have a tremendous platform. We all recognized that years ago... I always understood the significance — and still do now — the power of television. Nothing can compete with that.
Cowell is implicitly saying that his work on "American Idol" proved something that Trump either picked up and used or proved for himself. We learned that Americans are drawn to blunt speech. But is Trump campaigning in the persona of reality TV show judge? That was the question.

The answer was more: Blunt speech works — perhaps in many different situations, one of which is reality show judge and another one is running for office. It all happens on TV and TV is powerful, but it blunt speech especially effective on television? Does the effectiveness of blunt speech on television signify that it's entertainment and a person using it should be looked upon as an entertainer?

Another way of looking at this is: Why do some people avoid blunt speech? What's their motivation and can avoidance of bluntness be effective in some other way — a way that works on TV?

This gets my "clear speech" tag — possibly my favorite tag.

Number of slaves in the world today: 45.8 million.

 According to the Walk Free Foundation. The number is up 28% in the last 2 years.
Unlike historical definitions of slavery in which people were held as legal property, a practice that has been universally outlawed, modern slavery is generally defined as human trafficking, forced labor, bondage from indebtedness, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation.
According to this definition, even the United States has slaves — 57,700 (0.02% of the population).
[In the United States,] the most reported venues/industries for labour trafficking included domestic work, agriculture, traveling sales crews, restaurants/food service, and health and beauty services. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.

Anti-vegan protesters throw hunks of meat at patrons of the bohemian Kiwi Café in Tbilisi, Georgia.

"Witnesses writing on social media said that customers at the cafe, who were watching an animated science fiction sitcom called 'Rick and Morty,' felt intimidated by the men, who refused to leave. The cafe referred to the attackers, some of whom wore sausages around their necks, as anti-vegan 'extremists.”

The NYT reports, noting that "[t]hroughout Europe, vegan cafes have become synonymous with the counterculture."

From the café's Facebook page: “They pulled out some grilled meat, sausages, fish and started eating them and throwing them at us, and finally they started to smoke... They were just trying to provoke our friends and disrespect us.”

At the Hitting-the-Wall Café...


... what were you doing 500 million years ago?


"If Clinton wants to become the president of the United States, she needs to explain how she could make such a reckless decision."

Say the editors of USA Today, after detailing the 4 separate warnings Hillary ignored that her home-based email system was threat to national security.

I don't really understand what explanation is possible. She's already said it was a mistake. What we can see now is that she had to know she was doing something that threatened national security and yet she continued to do it. What explanation could make the facts appear any better? I can only think of explanations that would make it worse. So I assume we'll never hear more from her about this.

Does that mean the USA Today editors are saying Hillary doesn't deserve to be President? No. Look how they worded it — in terms of whether voters will accept her.

I got to that editorial via Instapundit, who quotes, "Clinton broke the rules" and says: "If by breaking the rules you mean committed a felony, then yes."

But the USA Today editors clearly refrain from opining about criminal law, presumably because the FBI is still working on that:
While Clinton is under potential criminal investigation by the FBI for the mishandling of classified material sent through her email.... It's already clear that, in using the private email server, Clinton broke the rules. Now it remains to be seen whether she also broke the law.
How can you be under a potential criminal investigation? That's an odd way to put it. Also, it's odd to make the distinction between breaking the rules and breaking the law. I'd like to ask Clinton to explain exactly what that means and whether, as President, she plans to insure that we all get the advantage of the rules/law distinction.

Why those who think climate change is a terrible threat should hope Trump wins the presidency.

Scott Adams makes some incredibly clever and possibly even correct points: 1. Trump may say he thinks climate change is a hoax, but he's saying things now for the purpose of getting elected, not because he thinks they are actually true, 2. Trump, concentrating on the task before him, getting elected, hasn't really thought through the problem and therefore has no real opinion on the subject, 3. If and when he gets elected, he'll use appropriate experts to get up to speed on the subject, 4. The theater of figuring it all out will be performed in front of the people, with the climate-change doubters paying special attention and (many of them) trusting their man Trump, 5. If Trump determines that climate change is real, he's the one person who can bring along the people who now think it's a hoax.

Adams also proposes that the theater of figuring it all out be a television show, "like Celebrity Apprentice, with advocates of both sides presenting to Trump on camera."
Trump isn’t claiming to know as much as a climate change scientist. He is staking out his brand as some sort of “common sense conservative.”...

If you think climate change is real, you probably love that idea of proving it in public. You want the world to know what you know. And if you think climate change is a hoax, you want a chance to show the world that you are right. And news organizations would eat it up. It would be a spectacle, and in the end, the public would be better-informed.
Adams is saying this is like Celebrity Apprentice, but it's also like Congress, with its tedious hearings, replete with testimony dragged down by politicians doing their prepped speeches. If the Chief Executive performed his function in public, that would create some competition for Congress and force Congress to improve the entertainment value of its horrible hearings.

It would be a spectacle, and in the end, the public would be better-informed.

"Kevin... placed his Burberry glasses on the floor beneath a placard describing the theme of the gallery."

"He said neither he nor TJ did anything to influence museum visitors, such as standing around and looking at the glasses. Within about three minutes, people appeared to be viewing their handiwork as bona fide art, though Kevin said that without his glasses, he could not see what was happening too well."

Art prank.

I say an art prank is art anyway, so what difference does it make?*

It's nice that some teenagers thought of doing this and pulled it off so quickly and elegantly, but we've seen things like this many times before, perhaps more commonly in the form of someone in a gallery staring at something that's not an artwork and causing others to regard the thing as art. I seem to remember reading about Salvador Dali doing something like that. And of course there are all the stories about some artwork being seen as trash and thrown out.


*The difference is, you're putting your art in someone else's gallery, without invitation. It's like hanging one of your own paintings on a museum wall. Or... that would damage the wall. It's like making a drawing on a Post-It note and sticking it up next to drawings in a museum.

ADDED: Back in 2011, Meade put his whole-body art in the Milwaukee Art Museum right next to the Duane Hanson sculpture, "Janitor":


May 30, 2016

Enjoying the green grass.




From yesterday's walk through the neighborhood.

"You can't legislate against human stupidity... This is a tragedy but it was avoidable... "

"You can only get there by ferry, and there are signs there saying watch out for the bloody crocodiles. If you go in swimming at 10 o'clock at night, you're going to get consumed.... Let's not start vendettas [against crocodiles]. People have to have some level of responsibility for their own actions."

Said an Australian member of Parliament about a woman who was killed by a crocodile. 

At the Greener Grass Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

The grass is greener in this Meade photo because the sun came out shortly after he took the green-grass photo that I posted 2 days ago, here.  There was a good deal of discussion about the lawn in the comments, and Meade did eventually come around and answer all the questions (the "Fiskars" in question is this thing):
Thanks, to everyone who said nice things.

David, I give it a dry fertilizer in the fall and a couple rounds of liquid fertilizer twice 3 weeks apart in the early spring after the first mowing. I only water lightly (and often) if I'm trying to get new seed to sprout. Otherwise, I stop mowing and let the lawn go dormant in July and August. I'm always humming some silly tune or another.

Left Bank, the Fiskars gets half an inch from the edge. So I bought the Fiskars stand-up grass shears and now I'm addicted to trimming along with mowing.

Paco, you are right — reel mowers are best for small lawns.

Ron, no catcher. The Fiskars throws the clippings forward where they get a second slicing, decompose, and then feed the soil biota.

Humperdink, Kubotas are great. Years ago, I used a Z series Kubota when I took care of 15 acres. But I don't think they made a 72" deck back then (in the 70s). I'm pretty sure it was 48". Yours is probably hydrostatic and zero-turn. Nice.

I've had a scythe identical to rhhardin's for 30 years. Great tool. Like most cutting tools, the primary thing is to keep it sharp. If I owned more than 1/2 acre of lawn, I'd use a scythe like he does or more likely a combination of scythe and a reel mower.

"Gary Johnson and William Weld are fake libertarians"... but isn't that just perfect for 2016?

I'm seeing that a lot of people are reading a RedState article, "Gary Johnson and William Weld are fake libertarians miseducating the public."
I can’t support Johnson because his role as a minor party candidate is not necessarily to win, but to be a spokesman for libertarian principles. As a libertarian myself, I certainly want more Americans to hear and understand the libertarian philosophy....
It seems to me that this is the year for party insiders to get burned by someone who's dropping in to take over their structure and ballot access.

If the RedState diarist — southernconstitutionalist — is correct, it puts Johnson in the same category as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

This is the essence of 2016.

"[O]ver the weekend I privately tested my claim that I could persuade an angry Trump-hater to become a Trump supporter in one hour."

"It turns out that I was wrong. It only took ten minutes."

Says Scott Adams — at the end of a post about his appearance on the Bill Maher show. He also says: "Some of you will say I persuaded him on the show to see the Clinton campaign as doomed. Did you see a turn?" Answer: yes.

ADDED: In case you're interested, here's Trump's entire "Rolling Thunder" event, with Trump arriving at 44:07:

Summer reading.

A slide show — open without a subscription — of many old New Yorker covers on the theme of summer reading.

1. Why is summer reading considered different from other reading? I remember when the idea was you finally had a lot of leisure time, so you'd read something big and long, like Doris in "Goodbye, Columbus":
2. Maybe it has to do with suntanning, that eminently passive outdoor activity. You're specifically not swimming, and you need something to do with your mind. Frankly, swimming can be boring — if you're doing lanes and racking up calories burned — and I would want a nice waterproof iPod with an audiobook.

3. I tend to walk on land as my main summer exercise, so I get by with my iPhone, and I like an audiobook of something long and historical. History goes with walking, because it's a progression in time and place, and I'm finally getting to the end of the fourth volume of Robert Caro's biography of LBJ and overlapping it with a history of ancient Rome. I still associate the path alongside Lake Mendota — after the summer of 2014 — with "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."

4. The best of the New Yorker covers is, I think, “Summer Adventures,” by Joost Swarte, from 2015. Do you agree? But I'm also fond of the very simple Sempé, just a woman lying on the face of the earth, looking into the clouds, which highlights the aspect of reading that is the part where you're not reading but thinking about what you have read (or is she just failing to read or forgetting what she's read?).

5. I like the 2007 cover “Big City Thrills,” by Adrian Tomine, even though it relies on a stereotype of New York tourists — boring, dumpy people with belly bags and frumpy shorts — because you can tell — though you can't see any words — the book the alienated girl is reading is "Franny & Zooey." The sightseeing bus is passing Radio City Music Hall, but it's "Catcher in the Rye," not "Franny & Zooey," where the main character goes to (and hates) Radio City. ("The Rockettes were kicking their heads off....")

5. I like that a little white dog — not the same breed — appears on the oldest cover (1937) and the 2014 cover.

6. The 2007 and the 2009 cover present an aesthetic issue I've been thinking about. When art depicts buildings (and other objects), you are — to some extent — displeased when things appear structurally unsound or gravity defying. In real life, any structure that's standing has taken proper account of reality, but you might nevertheless find it aesthetically displeasing if it looks unstable or liable to fall. That same standard carries over to works of art. This is only a general rule, and sometimes the defiance of gravity is delightful. I'm on the line as to what I think of the man climbing a stairway of books in the 2007 cover. Seems anti-book, no? The 2009 cover has a hammock attached to nothing and palm trees set in tiny flowerpots. That could annoy me, but I interpret it to mean that the woman is reading an escapist fantasy of some kind, an interpretation reinforced by the line of foliage at the bottom, which evokes the bottom edge of the well-known Rousseau painting "The Dream" (which may also explain the unnatural position of the figure).

7. When did summer reading change from big projects like "War and Peace" to escapist fare (or whatever it is now)? I googled "What kind of reading is summer reading?" and what I got was a lot of stuff about the importance of keeping children reading over the summer so they don't lose whatever ground they've gained over the school year. Why don't adults worry that they'll forget how to read if they don't keep forcing themselves through printed verbiage?

8. And yet you've come this far.

9. Good for you!

10. Lists should be 10 — don't you think? — for stability and an aesthetically pleasing sense of structure....

Memorial Day.

WAC with flag

May 29, 2016

"The university’s ideological tilt, combined with its intolerance, cannot but place higher education in an even more precarious place."

"After all, how long will taxpayers in red states be willing to subsidize universities that appear to be their ideological enemies? In a politically polarized nation, why subsidize the other side?"

Writes lawprof Jonathan Adler, citing Wisconsin politics specifically, quoted in a post by Instapundit, who also links to the post I wrote yesterday about why lawprofs can't/won't see the intellectual diversity problem.

I get the idea that there's pushback from the political sphere, especially here in Wisconsin, but I can't imagine how much political pushback there would need to be for my law school to acknowledge a need for more intellectual diversity in the form of more conservatives on the faculty.

The other day a student asked me, "Why are you the only conservative on the faculty?" I said, "But I'm not a conservative. I'm just someone who takes the conservative viewpoint seriously and thinks it deserves respect." 

"I don’t talk about his alcoholism, so why would he talk about my foolishly perceived fascism?”

Said Donald Trump, in an apt comeback after William Weld said that "I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear that, honest" ("that" being Trump's plan to deport the 11 million immigrants).

My calling Trump's comeback apt does not depend on whether Weld actually is an alcoholic. In fact, it works better — a lot better — if he's not. Here's a picture of him:

And, by the way, Weld did get the VP nomination from the Libertarians, but they had to go to a second ballot, and only with 50.57% of the vote, even after the presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, used his acceptance speech to beg the convention to select Weld.

"Are you 'disrupting' list ­making?.. So you’re democratizing lists..."

"When you provide a structure in the form of a list, there is, in a utopian way, a real chance to democratize the power of writing, by taking away what people are wrongly intimidated by...."

At the Allium Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Hillary's problem of "insularity and... arrogance" — "there was no one around her who was willing to tell her that she was wrong."

The quotes are from Ron Brownstein of "The Atlantic" in a panel discussion on today's "Face the Nation" about the inspector general's report on Hillary's email. The moderator, John Dickerson, had pointed to the finding that "When her staffers were asked about her private server system, they were told, do not ask about it again." Brownstein said:
BROWNSTEIN: That's what's the most troubling, I thought, in this report. I mean kind of the insularity and the arrogance. Not so much the specifics of the e-mails, but about the kind of leadership style and what it says about how you might be as president. I did a panel a couple of years ago when Jim Baker and George Mitchell were winning the Lifetime achievement Award from the National Academy of Public Administration, and they each said the same thing, the toughest thing was to find someone who could tell a president they were wrong. And what was -- what was -- what was, I thought, most apparent in this report was that there was no one around her who was willing to tell her that she was wrong. And when people tried to raise questions, they were told to be quiet. That is a -- that was ominous traits for a president.
But what about Trump? Are people around him able to tell him he's wrong? Peggy Noonan brought that up:
NOONAN: We talked about people around Hillary can't tell -- tell her the truth.... Who around Donald Trump says to him, boss, stop this, don't do that anymore, it's not nice?
Speaking of Noonan, she also said this:
NOONAN: When you look at the tape of Mrs. Clinton saying things about the e-mails that have been shown to not of them true in the IG thing, she has been -- I hate to say lied, but she has lied coolly and -- in a creamy, practiced way. It doesn't look good.
Creamy... I wrote that word down to search for in the transcript. Hillary lied in a coolly... creamy, practiced way.

ADDED: On the ABC show "This Week," Dianne Feinstein, the Hillary Clinton proxy, was confronted by Jonathan Karl: