December 31, 2016
"A California Uber driver helped rescue a 16-year-old girl from sex trafficking after giving her a ride to a hotel along with two alleged female pimps..."
Here he is, still in his car, explaining what happened into his camera, as the police activity unfolds behind him:
ADDED: I don't think Avila was trying to make a viral video. I assume the police asked him to wait while they handled things and they would come back to take his testimony. He was very upset and he also needed to collect his thoughts and remember the details. He's an important witness and getting out the phone and making this video is an excellent idea from a legal standpoint (don't you think?). Emotionally, for him, it was also good. He was alone and this seems to have given him a way to comfort himself and to reach out to other people. He was also sincerely and justifiably proud of himself and wanted to memorialize the occasion. The virality of the video is a bonus, and it's especially nice virality, because it lets us experience his heroism and internalize the example he's set. It will, I hope, inspire others to notice their surroundings and to understand that calling the police is the proper response.
And the police come quick. They don't play around.
- 2016 (3553)
- 2015 (3788)
- 2014 (3825)
- 2013 (5118)
- 2012 (4971)
- 2011 (4463)
- 2010 (3835)
- 2009 (3716)
- 2008 (3407)
- 2007 (2915)
- 2006 (2745)
- 2005 (2920)
- 2004 (2035)
- 2013 (5118)
- 2012 (4971)
- 2011 (4463)
- 2010 (3835)
- 2014 (3825)
- 2015 (3788)
- 2009 (3716)
- 2016 (3553)
- 2008 (3407)
- 2005 (2920)
- 2007 (2915)
- 2006 (2745)
- 2004 (2035)
ADDED: A poll:
"His first art teacher was his father, who trained him nightly in calligraphy by having him dip a brush in water and trace ghostly characters on newspaper."
From "Tyrus Wong, ‘Bambi’ Artist Thwarted by Racial Bias, Dies at 106."
Also: I did not know before reading that obituary that during WW2, some Chinese Americans chose to wear buttons to communicate that they were not Japanese:
Mere days after Pearl Harbor, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco started issuing identification cards, and Chinese Americans began wearing buttons and badges with phrases like “I am Chinese” on them.
From "In 2017, Pursue Meaning Instead of Happiness."
Said John Ore, the man who invented "Drynuary."
He anticipates a difficult Drynuary this year, because the month includes Inauguration Day.
For effect, Mr. Trump “pinned” the post to the top of his Twitter feed, ensuring that it will remain the first message seen on his page. In a rapid demonstration of digital glasnost, within minutes the Russian Embassy in Washington had retweeted it....
And, like the Obama White House, many [in the GOP establishment] see Mr. Putin’s gesture — including inviting the children of American diplomats to enjoy the Christmas trees at the Kremlin — as a ploy....
In recent days, [Trump] has told associates he sees little upside to what he considers needless fights with Russia, and he has long said he sees potential in maintaining a working relationship with Mr. Putin. Mr. Trump has often said there are benefits to cooperating with Russia in fighting the Islamic State in Syria....
December 30, 2016
"Nearly a decade and a half after the Iraq-WMD faceplant, the American press is again asked to co-sign a dubious intelligence assessment."
If the American security agencies had smoking-gun evidence that the Russians had an organized campaign to derail the U.S. presidential election and deliver the White House to Trump, then expelling a few dozen diplomats after the election seems like an oddly weak and ill-timed response. Voices in both parties are saying this now....
It appears that a large segment of the press is biting hard on the core allegations of electoral interference emanating from the Obama administration. Did the Russians do it? Very possibly, in which case it should be reported to the max. But the press right now is flying blind. Plowing ahead with credulous accounts is problematic because so many different feasible scenarios are in play.
On one end of the spectrum, America could have just been the victim of a virtual coup d'etat engineered by a combination of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, which would be among the most serious things to ever happen to our democracy. But this could also just be a cynical ass-covering campaign, by a Democratic Party that has seemed keen to deflect attention from its own electoral failures.
The outgoing Democrats could just be using an over-interpreted intelligence "assessment" to delegitimize the incoming Trump administration and force Trump into an embarrassing political situation: Does he ease up on Russia and look like a patsy, or escalate even further with a nuclear-armed power?
Here's the article and here's the Metafilter discussion. Many good comments there. I'll just single out:
The really galling thing is that employers put the burden of these 'wellness' programs entirely on the employee. They want employees to walk 10,000 steps per day, for example, but don't provide breaks for employees to go for a walk during the day. If you're a sedentary office worker, this effectively means making the wellness program an unpaid second shift. It's a hell of a racket.
These 'incentive' programs should be legally required to be completable during normal, paid work hours. If an employer wants its employees to go to the gym, then the employer can damn well pay for their memberships and let them count time spent there as work.
You may remember that back in April, the University of Wisconsin police apologized for going into a classroom to confront a student about graffiti on campus.
Now, we learn that the UWPD has completed its review of the incident:
Officers had tried to make contact with Mr. McDonald several times over a two week time frame and were unsuccessful. At the time, based on their observations of the classroom, the officers did not believe a class was actively in session. The officers questioned Mr. McDonald outside of the classroom and then outside of the building. Eventually, Mr. McDonald was arrested on 11 criminal counts of graffiti and one count of disorderly conduct for threatening a bystander.Or, as The Wisconsin State Journal puts it, "At issue was weather or not the arrest and the method of arrest had been appropriate."
The decision to enter the classroom resulted in concern within the university community because this was not a common practice. At issue was whether or not the arrest and the method of arrest had been appropriate....
The review found that the police did nothing wrong. But the UWPD has adopted a new policy, here, which might be violated if the same thing is done in the future. I say "might" because it's not clear what happens when the police mistakenly believe the class is not in progress.
"If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist..."
Over the past eight years, the [Obama] administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.Now that the power must be handed over to Trump, it's time to put a spotlight on all of Obama's overreaching.
Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.
I experienced this pressure firsthand....
The administration’s heavy-handed approach represents a sharp break with tradition. For decades, official Washington did next to nothing to stop leaks....But isn't that what the liberal media demanded at the time?
Things began to change in the Bush era, particularly after the Valerie Plame case. The 2003 outing of Ms. Plame as a covert C.I.A. operative led to a criminal leak investigation, which in turn led to a series of high-profile Washington journalists’ being subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury and name the officials who had told them about her identity. Judith Miller, then a New York Times reporter, went to jail for nearly three months before finally testifying in the case.
The Plame case began to break down the informal understanding between the government and the news media that leaks would not be taken seriously....
Fortunately, power shifts from one party to the other. That's some kind of safeguard. If you exaggerate your power, your successor will have exaggerated power.
Unfortunately, people are short-sighted.
"In his waning days in the White House, President Obama is desperately trying to make his policies as permanent as possible by tying the hands of his successor — and far more than other presidents have done on their way out."
So say the editors of the New York Post.
ADDED: Remember when leaving mad just meant prying W's from computer keyboards, ripping the phone cords from the wall, stealing doorknobs, leaving notes that said "GET OUT," and pasting up stickers with the new President depicted as an ape? Those were simpler times.
"I served for 8 years on a university sexual misconduct board and at the end of that distressing tour of duty concluded the following..."
That's the second-highest-ranked comment on the NYT article: "A Majority Agreed She Was Raped by a Stanford Football Player. That Wasn’t Enough."
"A Majority Agreed" means that 3 members of a panel of 5 found that the male student committed a sexual assault. It "Wasn't Enough" because Stanford required at least 4 out of 5 on the panel to find a preponderance of the evidence against the accused. Preponderance is the lowest standard of evidence, and the panel can include students (as well as faculty and administrators), but the NYT still called this "an uncommonly high bar."
Stanford has changed the procedure to a panel of 3, and now the panel must be unanimous:
“In deciding we wanted well-trained, long-term panelists, it made sense to go to a three-person panel,” said Pamela S. Karlan, a Stanford Law professor who is now chairwoman of a sexual assault advisory committee, “and having three people decide something by a preponderance of the evidence seemed to us the appropriate way of deciding whether a life-altering sanction should be imposed on somebody for his or her behavior.”...Those last 2 sentences of Dauber's are — as her use the word "garner" suggests — disingenuous. The accused and the accuser are not in the same position, and the panel isn't voting to pick one of 2 individuals who are vying for the same thing. It's not a question of equality. It's a question fairness — giving enough process to the one who faces a very serious deprivation.
Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor... said she doubted that the university’s proceedings complied with Title IX.... “You have to look at the process holistically, and when you see a series of hurdles and roadblocks, this becomes a very unfriendly place, if not one of the most unfriendly in the nation,” said Ms. Dauber, one of five Stanford professors (including Mr. Palumbo-Liu) who wrote an open letter in December 2015 to the provost complaining about the new policy. “The victim should not need to garner three votes to win while the respondent needs to garner only one. That is basic inequality.”
ADDED: I don't like Dauber's reference to the "victim" and the "respondent." The absence of parallelism shows the strain. Before the outcome is determined, it is emotive and biased to call one person the "victim." Dauber is decorous enough to avoid saying the word that goes with "victim": "perpetrator." She says "respondent." The word that goes with "respondent" is "complainant."
I had to stop and check to see what the tradition of press conferences really is. Has it been distinct and consistent? Here's a piece from the White House Historical Association. Woodrow Wilson started the practice of press conferences, and all of his successors (so far) have used it.
Calvin Coolidge considered it "rather necessary to the carrying on of our republican institution that the people should have a fairly accurate report of what the president is trying to do." Fairly accurate. Trying to do.
JFK — who's right in the middle of the line of men that begins with Wilson and ends with Obama — gave the first live, televised press conferences. Up until Eisenhower, the sessions were not even on the record, and the President retained the power to rewrite his quotes. When Truman said "I think the greatest asset that the Kremlin has is Senator McCarthy," the reporters helped him see that the quote was too exciting and they even assisted him in mushing it up into: "The greatest asset that the Kremlin has is the partisan attempt in the Senate to sabotage the bipartisan foreign policy of the United States."
JFK made the televised press conference into something that served his agenda and suited his particular gifts and desired image. Later Presidents accepted Kennedy's approach but also adapted it. George H. W. Bush introduced the joint press conference with world leaders. Obama has often substituted interviews with one chosen reporter. In his first 2 years, Obama did 21 Kennedy-style press conferences to a roomful of reporters and 269 of those one-on-one encounters.
With that background on presidential press conferences, let's get back to Hewitt and Spicer:
"Every line of attack the forces of political correctness try on me fails pathetically. I’m more powerful, more influential, and more fabulous than ever before."
He's got a voice that really does fit mainstream America:
"I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building – but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money."
December 29, 2016
My message to the women's magazine columnist who says she is "terrifed of raising a boy in Trump's America."
I've been avoiding reading it... mainly because I encountered it after other people were already talking about it. At first that stops me, because you don't need me to point to it, but sometimes I get around to it anyway. Who knows why?
Well, in this case, I'm a mother of sons, and I raised them when the President of the United States was an admitted sexual predator — in the 1990s — so maybe I can help. Is it harder to raise boys than girls when we know our country's leader preys on young females? I'll leave to the side how much we really know about Trump's sexual predation in comparison to Clinton's. Monica Lewinsky was young and an underling in the workplace Clinton ran, but she seems to have sought him out and fallen into enthusiastic love. Trump bragged about just starting kissing women who let you do it. Clinton exposed his erect penis and said "kiss it" to a woman, Paula Jones, who did not let him do that.
Enough of that comparison. I want to concentrate on the supposed special problem of raising boys. I haven't read Piazza's article yet, only the title. I'm just guessing that her idea is that if you have a girl, you can use the powerful man to teach her what she's up against and steel her for the struggle. If you have a boy instead... what's the problem? Maybe Piazza will say that he's going to identify with and emulate what is a bad example.
But how do you know the girl wouldn't look to the President as exemplifying the kind of man she should admire and seek out? And how do you know the boy wouldn't accept your teaching that the President is a bad role model from which he should strive to distinguish himself?
[INSERTED INFO: At this point, I begin reading the article.]
Piazza originally thought she'd be raising a girl — as she puts it "a small woman" — at a time when we had a female President, which seemed especially nice, but even after Trump got elected, she seemed to think she knew what she would do — teach the girl to work "harder and smarter and better than the men around her" and "to fight for equality and respect."
But then she had that moment when she had to think about the baby being the gender that was not the one she'd been fantasizing about:
Piazza — like Billy Bigelow in "Carousel" — flows with ideas of how to raise a child whose sex matches her/his own but is flummoxed at the prospect of dealing with the opposite sex. She says:
What terrifies me is the idea of raising a boy with good values when a man who represents the male stereotypes we've been fighting for generations is in the White House. A man who bullies both men and women in person and on Twitter. This man could dominate our news cycle for the next eight years. I can't hide his bad behavior from our son.Oh, come on. The behavior the 70-year-old Trump is going to demonstrate in the White House is not the sudden kissing he talked about years ago when he was off-camera in an "Access Hollywood" van.
How can I explain to a little boy that the year he was born, the President of the United States was an admitted sexual predator who treats women (including his own daughters) as "pieces of ass"?... How do I explain that grabbing a woman by her genitals is not an acceptable salutation when the man in charge of the country normalized it?Since President Trump will be out of office by the time your child is 8, I'd suggest not talking about any of that. Piazza frets about "explaining sensitivity and nonviolence" to the boy. I'd suggest demonstrating it, beginning by not going out of your way to express contempt for the President.
A child — boy or girl — lives with real people, and these people set the example that the child will copy. It's not really very much about explanations and characters on television. How about not putting on the television and not talking about politics and sex in front of young children? Give them a real, comprehensible, simple, gentle environment that is on their level.
Piazza worries about explaining "the president's picks for attorney general and CIA director voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act." Frankly, she shouldn't try to explain that to anyone, since she doesn't even understand it herself. Votes against the Violence Against Women Act were not votes for violence against women. If you don't know why, at least have some modesty and restraint about your potential to confuse and unnecessarily rile other people.
Let children be children. And let adults who don't want to understand law — including things like federalism — have some peace. Your hysteria is not helping.
Piazza says: "I want to make a good little man." That's a decent, worthy goal. Start there. I would quibble with the notion that a mother "makes" her baby into the adult that baby will grow to be. It's not scientifically true and, ironically, it's probably not good feminism, but I understand the poetry of "I want to make a good little man."
Piazza gives respect to her husband, the boy's father. He seems to be a good man, whoever made him good. Perhaps his mother made him good, in part, and maybe his wife too. Maybe he made himself good. But Piazza is lucky to have a good man. If the boy has a good father and a good mother and they make a good home and set a good example, that's giving the boy almost everything, and there's nothing to be terrified of from the President, however good or bad he might be in your mind or in reality or in the political movie we'll watch on television and the internet if we don't limit our screen time.
Perhaps if Piazza had a bit more respect for conservatism, she wouldn't look to the President to do so much for her. He's off there, tending to the matters that belong to government, working and bumbling and succeeding in the way human beings do. You might like some or none of what he does. But you and your husband and your home are what matter to a little child, and the fact of his being a boy and not a girl is a diversion of pregnancy.
When he is born he won't just be A Boy. He'll be a particular boy, a particular individual, not the stereotype you dwell on when you have so much time to think about him when he's there but not really there in his pre-birth form. Respect the boy. Respect the person. Respect your own home and the worthiness of your family. Love your husband and let him show his love for you.
Explanations are overrated. The power of the presidency is overblown. Find love and meaning where it really is.
It's much simpler than you're willing to say, perhaps because you have a career writing columns about feminism and politics. That's nice for you, but be careful. It's a brutal template, and you are having a baby.
And here's this in the NYT: "Kerry’s Blunt Words for Israel Denounced by Lawmakers in Both Parties."
“While he may not have intended it, I fear Secretary Kerry, in his speech and action at the U.N., has emboldened extremists on both sides,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader.
A bipartisan chorus of lawmakers, upset with President Obama’s decision last week to allow the passage of a United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s construction of settlements in disputed territory, made clear that they were looking past the departing administration.
"Vesna Vulovic, a flight attendant who alone, and miraculously, survived the midair explosion of a jetliner..."
As others were believed to have been sucked out of the jet into subfreezing temperatures, Ms. Vulovic remained inside part of the shattered fuselage, wedged in by a food cart, as it plunged... 33,000 feet, the longest recorded fall without a parachute....
“If I were lucky, I would never had this accident, and my mother and father would be alive,” she said. “The accident ruined their lives, too. Maybe I was born in the wrong place. Maybe it was a bad place.”
I know, you may be thinking: Does an approach to interpreting the Bible that causes you to see a rule against putting a diaper on your horse not also forbid you to file a lawsuit?
For reference, on the subject of bringing lawsuits, here is 1 Corinthians 6:1-7:
When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?As for excrement, here's Deuteronomy 23:13:
... and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement.
"Three documents have been signed. A ceasefire between the Syrian government and the armed opposition is one."
Said Vladimir Putin.
Turkey and Russia worked together on several ceasefire agreements in the city of Aleppo this month. Most crumbled, but a final one held and allowed the evacuations of tens of thousands of rebels and civilians from the city's east, which had been under the control of rebel groups for more than four years....
Turkey and Russia appear to be sidelining the United States, which has led an international coalition to fight ISIS in Syria and has vehemently opposed any attempt to keep Assad in power. Russia has long accused the US of arming what it sees as terrorist organizations, while Turkey has made similar claims in recent days.....
On Tuesday, the comic wrote in a since-deleted tweet, "When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well."Does Martin think this one appeasement will end the insane, pointless bullying? How could it? It doesn't even save his ass today. By deleting, he confesses to a nonexistent political crime. Now, it is what we will remember him for. What a sexist! That awful man! He called Carrie Fisher a "beautiful creature" and marveled that she was also smart and funny.
Media outlets and fans immediately turned on the comedian saying Martin’s tweet had a sexist undertone.
Imagine the first thing you notice about a person being how they look! Unless you're meeting people by telephone or blind, it's always the first thing you notice.
Alec Baldwin: And all you broads,* shall we say, came – these four broads came from an era when everything was just – was at its height. It was heightened, doing your hair and your makeup and your costumes and everything. It's not as...______________________________
Debbie Reynolds: Everything is super important and everything is done for you. When we were under contract most of us, Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Taylor, were at MGM and everything was done for us, the makeup, the hair. They'd send cars for us. We were very spoiled. We didn't know what to do when they dropped everybody when television came in '48.
Alec Baldwin: Sure. Can you remember what year, around? Was the end of the '40s?
Debbie Reynolds: '48, '49.
Alec Baldwin: The studio system died as you get into the '50s?
Debbie Reynolds: It slowly died a death. It was like interesting to watch. It was – I didn't realize it was the end. I didn't know that it was that.
Alec Baldwin: You didn't know what the change meant.
Debbie Reynolds: Well, I was a young girl, so I didn't and I wasn't an intellectual. I wasn't educated. I wasn't -
Alec Baldwin: You're from Burbank.
Debbie Reynolds: I'm from Burbank.
Alec Baldwin: You're a gal from Burbank.
Debbie Reynolds: Originally from Texas.
Alec Baldwin: And you wanted to be a gym teacher.
Debbie Reynolds: That's me. I always aim high.
Alec Baldwin: Me too.
Debbie Reynolds: I love gym. I love sports.
Alec Baldwin: I wanted to be a lifeguard. Sun, girls, swim.
Debbie Reynolds: Well, yeah. Yes. Well, I was never that ambitious that I wanted to be a lifeguard, but I wanted to be a gymnast. I wanted to work on the bars and trapeze work – I loved all that stuff.
Alec Baldwin: And what's the link for you as a young girl, because you started very young, as a young girl in Burbank and you're athletic no doubt, what's the first thing that happened that said "show business" to you?
Debbie Reynolds: Well, I never thought about me being in show business. I was a fan and I would go to the movies because my mother let me, but no one else in our church was allowed to go to films because movie stars were all evil creatures, just dreadful. My mother let me go to films.
Alec Baldwin: Your mother was very religious?
Debbie Reynolds: Very. My family, except my dad. My father used to say, 'No, no, no. I'm not going to go to church with you. I've told you that I'm not gonna go because all those good people will be killed if I walked in, the roof would fall in.'
Alec Baldwin: Have heart attacks.
* He's saying "broads" because they were just talking about a TV movie Debbie made with Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins, and Elizabeth Taylor called "These Old Broads." The movie, which came out in 2001, was written by Carrie Fisher.
"More and more, we doubt not just the explanations and rationalizations and imprecations and animadversions directed at the phenomenon of Donald Trump's election."
Writes Roger Kimball, encountering a question asked by me.
My question was: "The experts got blindsided by what happened on Election Day, so why should we care how they try to explain it now?"
Kimball thinks the Trump election is dissolving "the smug, 'progressive' (don't call it 'liberal') dispensation that had insinuated itself like a toxic fog throughout our cultural institutions — our media, our universities, our think tanks and beyond."
Kimball also talks about an article in Elle that I've noticed but avoided blogging. But I'm going to make a separate post for it.
"For the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.")"Weiner" because you can think about the 2 kinds of thinking which are System 1 ("automatic and impulsive") and System 2 ("deliberative and calculative")....
Behavioral economists like to distinguish between two families of cognitive operations in the human mind: System 1, which is automatic and impulsive, and System 2, which is deliberative and calculative.... Beset by a sexting scandal, former congressman Anthony Weiner resigned and then decided to run for mayor -- only to be laid low by another sexting scandal (or two). Does he even have a System 2?Ryan Gosling because of "norm theory"...
"La La Land" is full of... counterfactual thinking: dreams abandoned, dreams deferred and connections lost....Isabelle Huppert because of the "control premium" ("many people will pay an extra amount to retain control over a situation... others actually want to give up control")....
Isabelle Huppert [in "Elle"] understands what it means to take control and to lose it.“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” because "as an empirical matter, most people display unrealistic optimism"....
Is our band of rebels unrealistically optimistic?... [W]hen all seems lost, they give themselves the greatest gift, which is the feeling of hope.
December 28, 2016
IN THE COMMENTS: William said:
This had a multiplier effect. Debbie was sucked into the vacuum. I liked them both, and I'm genuinely sorrowful to hear of their deaths. Carrie was very open about her family life and her relations with her mother.. If HBO brings back Wishful Drinking, take a look. It's a performance piece, but you really get the sense that you know them in a way you don't with other celebrities. The piece supposed to be a comedy about life in Hollywood, but I bet it would play like Sophocles upon re-viewing.......Well, they were both performers and I can't imagine a more dramatic exit.We were watching "Wishful Drinking" last night when I got a text from my son Chris: "debbie reynolds died!"
There's a new HBO documentary, made to air in 2017, with Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. Here's a little clip, showing that the 2 women lived in houses next door to each other:
"I usually come to her. I always come to her."
This last time, she came to you.
At the core of Mr. Kerry’s argument on Wednesday was the need for all sides to embrace a two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state recognizing each other....
The speech was intended, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday night, to make the case that “the vote was not unprecedented” and that Mr. Obama’s decision “did not blindside Israel.” Mr. Kerry, the official said, would cite other cases in which Washington officials had allowed similar votes under previous presidents.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a coming speech, said Mr. Kerry would also argue that, with the notable exception of Israel, there was a “complete international consensus” against further settlements in areas that might ultimately be the subject of negotiations.
Said The Cracker Emcee in the comments to yesterday's post marking the death of the author of that 70s bestseller, "Watership Down."
I had said:
I've never read the book or seen the movie, but I just watched that 3-minute trailer. Man, the 70s were dark. Good lord! Who would want to see that?...I don't get the argument that I should read "Watership Down." I snubbed it in the 70s. Why must I go through the trouble of snubbing it again? There's zero chance I would read that thing. Well, maybe if Meade insisted on reading it to me when I was pregnant and struggling with an inability to relax and a shortage of hope and regeneration ideas. There are about 10 conditions in the previous sentence, you should see, and not one of them is close to occurring.
I tried reading a page of Adams's book "Traveller" -- the story of the Civil War as told by Robert E. Lee's horse, and it was unreadable. The horse is speaking in an American Southern dialect that's ridiculous and a chore.
No offense to the old man. I'm glad he had a good experience being a father encouraged by his daughters and finding huge success. Not my cup of tea, but so what?
Meade does sometimes read to me in bed when I'm done using my eyes for the day, but it's never an animal fable. Last night, it was "2016 Was the Year the Feminist Bubble Burst/We thought women would break new ground in 2016. We were wrong" by Michelle Goldberg at Slate. ("For the last couple of years, feminism has been both ubiquitous and improbably glamorous.... Young women rebelled against the small indignities that make even the most privileged female lives taxing....")
And that wasn't about relaxing or looking for hope. The book I'm reading with my eyeballs right now is "Candide."
"There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts."
From Tom & Lorenzo's "The Twenty Worst Red Carpet Looks of 2016: Part 3."
My favorite part of this NYT article about the political pattern to the popularity of various TV shows.
Here's the whole article, "‘Duck Dynasty’ vs. ‘Modern Family’/50 Maps of the U.S. Cultural Divide/Americans have been clustering themselves into cultural bubbles just as they have clustered in political bubbles. Their TV preferences confirm that."
The dot that is Madison, Wisconsin shows up in all the maps, but somehow it's the "Daily Show" one that made the NYT feel a special need to point at us.
I think the NYT is looking for ways to serve readers who are agonizing in the aftermath of the election, and pop-culture-focused political articles may seem helpful in moving them through the stages of grief.
"A high school parade in Taiwan in which students dressed as Nazi soldiers and carried swastika banners has created a storm of criticism in one of Asia’s most open societies."
The parade also featured cardboard tanks. The students chose the theme, according to local news reports....
[The school’s principal, Cheng Hsiao-ming] said that he took responsibility, adding that the primary issue was “our education’s problem,” according to local news reports. “It wasn’t necessarily a problem created by the children."...
The parade in Hsinchu is not the first incident in which Nazi references have offended Jews and other groups in Taiwan. In 1999, an advertisement for German-manufactured DBK space heaters in Taiwan featured a smiling Hitler with the caption, “Declare war on the cold front!” The next year, a restaurant with a concentration camp theme opened, closing weeks after it became a source of outrage. ...
December 27, 2016
Compare Agitated Item Stomping, Ring... Ring... CRUNCH, Appliance Defenestration, and Cutting the Electronic Leash. Sometimes coincides with Computer Equals Monitor or Screens Are Cameras, in the event that the destroyed TV screen is part of a larger system. Not to be confused with Smash TV.Trope research occasioned by my contemplation of how — a few days ago — I wanted to shoot the photo scanner. Today's calm — scholarly — contemplation was made possible by the discovery of a nearly invisible "lock" toggle switch. Devilish. Goulettishly devilish.
"For much of his life, Mr. Adams was an anonymous civil servant in London who wrote government reports on the environment."
Richard Adams, author of "Watership Down" has died. Having lived to the age of 96, he makes a strange third to the celebrity death triad with George Michael and Carrie Fisher. But perhaps it is not so odd: He aimed to delight the young.
When he was 50, at [his daughters'] urging, he began turning his stories into a book intended for juveniles and young adults, writing after work and in the evenings. It took two years. Set in the Berkshire Downs, where he had grown up, a quiet landscape of grassy hills, farm fields, streams and woodlands west of London, “Watership Down” was a classic yarn of discovery and struggle.
IN THE COMMENTS: My use of the word "delight" is deplored and regretted.
"Russia is for the first time conceding that its officials carried out one of the biggest conspiracies in sports history..."
"I’ve always said that if I quit blogging/punditry it will be because I don’t want to pay close attention to the news anymore."
Age 86 is well past the usual retirement age, so the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long....Here are his photographs.
Being old-fashioned, I liked to know what the facts were before writing. That required not only a lot of research, it also required keeping up with what was being said in the media.
During a stay in Yosemite National Park last May, taking photos with a couple of my buddies, there were four consecutive days without seeing a newspaper or a television news program — and it felt wonderful. With the political news being so awful this year, it felt especially wonderful.
This made me decide to spend less time following politics and more time on my photography, adding more pictures to my website....
I'm 20 years younger than Sowell, and I'm retiring from law teaching. Not from blogging — not yet. I do like the idea of not needing to be interested in court cases that happen to come up in my field. Blogging, by contrast, is naturally limited to whatever I'm actually interested in. If I didn't want to pay close attention to the news, I'd pay attention to whatever did grab me and write about that. I'm not old-fashioned like Sowell. I can write around anything I don't know and don't want to research. You probably don't even notice when I avert my eyes from a subject in the news — not unless I don't resist writing about how I'm not writing about something.
Here she is, alongside her mother Debbie Reynolds, talking about the breakup of her parents (with Debbie getting the very long last laugh):
I hope that isn't too much laughing. I was looking for the interview she did with her father, back when she had a talk show in 2004, which I blogged here:
It was ragged, frighteningly raw, really, but very funny. He is an eely sweetheart of a man, and he sat there and let his daughter bounce zingers off him for an hour. She's bitter and good natured, and she let him have it about his life of heavy drug use and womanizing.And I'm a big fan of the movie based on her book "Postcards from the Edge":
Here she is in her first role — she's a teenager — with Warren Beatty in "Shampoo":
Please stop debating about whetherOR not👁aged well.unfortunately it hurts all3 of my feelings.My BODY hasnt aged as well as I have.Blow us👌🏼— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) December 29, 2015
IsYRbody DKaying➕deth marchi🆖ever closer?®the sands 🅾️F time💲🅾️cruel✝️♓️📧Yshud🅱️arrested➕💲📧♑️✝️2️⃣a 🚗dℹ🅰©beach?Get©gℹ,perspective ➕d📧🅰🕒w/ℹ✝️ pic.twitter.com/euI92t3PeU— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) December 21, 2016
"If the dam ruptured, it would likely cause a catastrophe of Biblical proportions, loosing a wave as high as a hundred feet that would roll down the Tigris..."
From "A Bigger Problem Than ISIS?/The Mosul Dam is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people," by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker. The dam "sits on a foundation of soluble rock" and requires "hundreds of employees... to work around the clock, pumping a cement mixture into the earth below."
ADDED: "Today, a stone memorial on top of the dam commemorates nineteen Chinese nationals who died during its construction; the memorial, inscribed in English and Chinese but not in Arabic, does not give the cause of their deaths. Alwash, the Iraqi-American hydrological engineer, told me that, in Iraq, when laborers fell into wet cement during large infrastructure projects, it was common for the work to carry on. 'When you’re laying that much cement on a dam, you can’t stop,' Alwash said."
The experts got blindsided by what happened on Election Day, so why should we care how they try to explain it now?
But Konnikova's piece at least has the virtue of digging up old research papers that were written without trying to influence/explain this election. She then uses them to attempt to explain the election.
The first article was about confirmation bias, which Konnikova says "can help explain why Trump supporters remain supportive no matter what evidence one puts to them—and why Trump’s opponents are unlikely to be convinced of his worth even if he ends up doing something actually positive."
The second article was about the polarization effect, which Konnikova tells us helps explain why Trump supporters declined to take instruction from the media: The more negative the press got, the more Trump supporters perceived that media as biased.
The third article was about cultural cognition, the tendency to select information that protects your idea of your own identity. Trump fed people some things that they liked. Konnikova mentions opposition to the left, the establishment, and political correctness. People absorbed that. The rest, not so much.
The fourth article was about authoritarianism — "the desire for strong order and control." People are pretty tolerant, but at some point, they flip. They feel threatened and need protection.
The fifth article is from evolutionary psychology. We evolved to cooperate within a coalition and to fight outsiders when provoked by outrage. Outrage was used to motivate us.
The sixth article is about how people who feel stressed and threatened go for "tighter rules, greater strength, a more authoritarian approach." Trump acted like he knew this, didn't he?
The seventh article is about optimism bias. Konnikova thinks this explains why Hillary Clinton supporters were so inert.
OBAMA: And you know, part of the reasons that I think I've stayed sane in what has been this remarkable journey, and you've known me a long time and I think you'd confirm that I'm pretty much the same guy as I was when we started this thing.... [Y]ou know, success came late to me, notoriety came late. And it -- it made me realize that to the extent that I had been successful, it wasn't about me. It was about certain forces out there and -- and me hitching my wagon to a broader spirit and a broader set of trends and a broader set of traditions. And so, when -- when we came up with the phrase Yes, We Can, which again, to give you credit I was a little skeptical of, it felt a little simplistic when we first started. But...
AXELROD: You didn't like the logo either, but that's -- that's a different discussion...
OBAMA: The logo I thought was a loser, it looked like the Pepsi logo and I thought...
AXELROD: That's what you said, that's...
OBAMA: ... that seems a little...
AXELROD: That's what you said, it became more iconic than the Apple insignia. So -- I'm glad we straightened this out...
OBAMA: But look, I...
AXELROD: I've gotten everything I wanted...
Writes Wesley Morris in "George Michael Mattered Beyond the Music."
The Princes and the George Michaels — sorry, there is only one of each — let's put them to the side now. I give Prince and George Michael all the love the deserve — which is a lot — but I want to focus on what Wesley Morris said about the "performance of masculinity" in the music and politics of 2016. I almost had to diagram that one sentence to understand it. But clear out the stuff about artists who died this year, and you have a statement about the keeping-on-living men of 2016.
These unnamed men of 2016 showed us 2 different masculine presentations: 1. "aggressive, invasive" and 2. "duller."
And we were ambivalent. Dismayingly so.
Presumably, Morris thinks the dead radicals — Prince, George Michaels — marked the path away from the unappealing choice between the 2 styles of masculinity — ugly or boring — that prevail among us the living. I say "presumably," because the sentence I want to talk about is a sign for an exit ramp Morris zooms past.
Who are the Masculinity Style #1 men and the Masculinity Style #2 men of 2016 that Morris didn't bother to name? It seems as though he had 1s and 2s for both politics and pop music. I don't follow pop music enough to know who the men of 2016 are and whether they are "aggressive, invasive" or "duller." There's Justin Bieber, I know. Which is he?
Politics, I follow. I'm sure Donald Trump was the whole reason for the words "aggressive, invasive." And yet... "In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, 'I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.' I took her out furniture...."
Trump's "performance of masculinity" is just as complicated as Prince's.
If you think you can, your grasp of the internet is not yet adequate.
"Britney is fine and well." The Twitter account was hacked. The idea! Right after Christmas. Hitting with the loss of the best pop star left after the last best pop star passed. Discrediting Bob Dylan, right after his incredible over-crediting by the Nobel Committee.
All our hopes and dream punched out on Boxing Day.
"... a Reese’s peanut butter cup gave her such a rush that it was... 'like an orgasm of pleasure in my brain.' Now... 'It’s just peanut butter and chocolate. What’s the big deal?'"
I can't help feeling skeptical. "Scientists" — what scientists? There's a huge financial interest in performing all this surgery, and there's a lot of pressure to reduce medical spending. Doesn't that skew the research?
It's a long article, but the actual science part is minimized. Here's the most technical part addressing my skepticism:
December 26, 2016
Description of the "nose" of a much-appreciated Christmas gift.
Some sound like a guy answering the phone: "Yes, it's Jordan."
Some sound like they were written by a cow: "Much mor."
Some lie so blatantly that it works as a cynical joke: "Always beautiful." "You are invited."
"The point of the study was to test the predictions of conventional mathematical methods for using the swirls of air left in a bird’s wake to calculate the lift...."
"We were very surprised” that these so-called models did not work, [Stanford grad student Eric] Gutierrez said. They all were derived from the flight of fixed-wing airplanes and assumed that with bird flight, as with airplanes, the swirling air, or vortexes, left in the wake of flight stayed the same....
Trump will have 103 federal court vacancies to fill. Obama only had 54 when he became President in 2008.
State gun control laws, abortion restrictions, voter laws, anti-discrimination measures and immigrant issues are all matters that are increasingly heard by federal judges and will be influenced by the new composition of the courts. Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon — a prospect that has activists on the right giddy.Trump has "vowed to choose ideologues"? Can we get a quote for that? I comb through many paragraphs and finally arrive at this:
Trump spoke frequently about his intentions to put forward a more conservative Supreme Court nominee as a way to galvanize the right.The disturbing word is "views." And I'll add, from my blog posts on the subject, that Trump has said "The judges will be pro-life" and "they’re going to be very pro-Second Amendment." So he's specified particular outcomes he's looking for.
“The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies,” Trump said in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. “Very important. This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election.”
Hillary Clinton did the same thing. She said: "[W]e need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women's rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community, that will stand up and say no to Citizens United...." And: "And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people. Not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy."
Both candidates threatened to appoint ideologues. I didn't hear much criticism of the attitude they took toward filling those vacancies. With an empty Supreme Court seat, there was particular reason to focus on judicial appointments. The people elected Trump and they kept a GOP Senate, and we will get what we deserve.
"No matter how bad they were — all the Republicans — it was like a glass-bottom boat. I'm looking at those sharks, but they can't really get me."
"And now I feel like the shark can get me. Or anybody."
Said Bill Maher, who was once sued by Donald Trump. If Trump the private citizen would sue a man over what was obviously a joke, how much do you have to worry about how Trump the President will misuse power?
"The legal system in this country is not a joke. It's not a toy for rich idiots to play with."
December 25, 2016
From "Considering the Ankara Assassination Photos As History Painting."
“It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period."
ADDED: A post from 2006: "Don't you have anything from the 80s in that stack of unplayable 45s you won't throw out?/Why yes I do:":
And I will stand by this recording as one of the best pop singles ever. ... "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"... what a brilliant song! You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day.
Said Steve Colbert on "Face the Nation" today. The host, John Dickerson, asked him what he did when he found himself unprepared:
COLBERT: As I knew the outcome, I knew that I would have to throw out everything I had planned, because we had four possible outcomes. One is that we knew that Mrs. Clinton would win. We would not know. It looked like Trump was going to win, but we wouldn’t know until the morning. And then there was he’s going to win and we know he’s going to win. And that was the one that we prepared nothing for, which -- on purpose.I laughed out loud. Data expressed in numerical form isn't like 2 + 2. The belief that 2 + 2 equals 4 is not like believing the polls are correct because you're seeing numbers. It's more like saying "I take a man at his word" whenever any guy says anything.
I said, look, what’s the purpose? Don’t prepare anything because everything goes out the window. It’s the least likely path it says -- say all of the number crunchers and I believe in numbers.
And -- and if [we know Trump is going to win], we’re going to be doing a show for a group of people who have been hauled into a Chilean soccer stadium to watch people executed. People are going to be very depressed. So anyway, at the very end of it, one of the things that occurred to me to say was that it makes me question picking sides, because if you look at this like a -- a sport, if you look at it like as a battle against your neighbor, you’ll choose anything as a knife against the other side. And that itself is a -- what’s the opposite of a virtue?John Dickerson had to tell him that the opposite of "virtue" is "vice."
"I think President Obama is beginning to figure out that his legacy is like one of those dolls that as the air comes out of it, it shrinks and shrinks and shrinks."
We just looked at each other with the same "Oh, great, now I'm picturing Newt Gingrich with a blow-up doll" expression on our face.
ADDED: If my link — to the transcript — doesn't work for you — it works for me — you can see the quote here (along with video of the interview).
Michelle is festooned with glittery floral appliqués and heavily made-up with contouring that did not take proper account of the lighting and HD photography conditions. I'd develop that as a metaphor about government, but it's Christmas, so let's be Christmas cheerful.
The President-elect, Donald Trump, went to The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach and got a standing ovation:
Not even Jesus gets a standing ovation in church — especially Episcopal Church — so this Donald Trump must be really something.
I don't think the word "trump" appears in the Bible, but the word "trumpet" appears many times. I picked one out for you. It's not that Christmas-y, but it's government-y:
My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart!
My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent;
for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
the alarm of war.
Disaster follows hard on disaster,
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
my curtains in a moment.
How long must I see the standard,
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
“For my people are foolish,
they know me not;
they are stupid children,
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
but how to do good they know not.”
If the question is how I personally feel about the situation, I am mixed: Hillary Clinton and the network around her imprisoned one of our alleged sources for 35 years, Chelsea Manning, tortured her according to the United Nations, in order to implicate me personally. According to our publications Hillary Clinton was the chief proponent and the architect of the war against Libya. It is clear that she pursued this war as a staging effort for her Presidential bid. It wasn't even a war for an ideological purpose. This war ended up producing the refugee crisis in Europe, changing the political colour of Europe, killing more than 40,000 people within a year in Libya, while the arms from Libya went to Mali and other places, boosting or causing civil wars, including the Syrian catastrophe. If someone and their network behave like that, then there are consequences. Internal and external opponents are generated. Now there is a separate question on what Donald Trump means.So, what does he think Trump means?
Hillary Clinton's election would have been a consolidation of power in the existing ruling class of the United States. Donald Trump is not a DC insider, he is part of the wealthy ruling elite of the United States, and he is gathering around him a spectrum of other rich people and several idiosyncratic personalities. They do not by themselves form an existing structure, so it is a weak structure which is displacing and destabilising the pre-existing central power network within DC. It is a new patronage structure which will evolve rapidly, but at the moment its looseness means there are opportunities for change in the United States: change for the worse and change for the better."
Grab them by the humidor.