September 21, 2017

"So, striking a deal with the Democrats on the budget, President Trump — and the Democrats Pelosi and Schumer — opened up another chance for Republicans to repeal Obamacare."

On the NYT "Daily" podcast today — scroll to 3:15 — Michael Barbaro asks how it happened that Congress is once again returning to the effort to repeal of Obamacare. "It just seemed so over" after the last defeat. Thomas Kaplan (who covers Congress for the NYT) answers:
I looked like September was going to be a nightmare of a month because Congress needed to pass a spending measure to keep the government open, and they also needed to raise the debt limit, and that look like it was going to be this big, messy fight. To everyone's surprise...
The podcast shifts to audio of news reports of Trump's meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and his breaking with the GOP and siding with Democrats to get a deal on these big messy things that were going to be the nightmare of September.

Kaplan continues:
And that was a tough pill to swallow for Republicans, who were completely blindsided, but it sort of cleared the decks for the rest of September. Instead of having this big fiscal fight, that was resolved much earlier than everyone thought it would be.
For podcast listeners who may be only slowly waking up and blearily starting their day with the NYT podcast, Barbaro hammers* the point:
So, striking a deal with the Democrats on the budget, President Trump — and the Democrats Pelosi and Schumer — opened up another chance for Republicans to repeal Obamacare. That's striking.
Kaplan:
Yeah. No. Completely.
Is Trump that crafty? Did Schumer and Pelosi fall into a trap? I'm inclined to answer those questions yes if only because the 2 NYT reporters — who I doubt would give Trump any extra credit — made me think about it that way. And yet, I don't believe the new legislative effort will succeed. But if it does....
_______________

* I use the word "hammers": 1. because of the repetitious pounding of the the same idea, 2. because Barbaro uses the word "striking" twice, and 3. because... STOP THE HAMMERING...

"Actually, the 'Rocket Man' reference leads to 'burning out his fuse up there alone'..."

"... which is an apt characterization of Kim Jong Un’s domestic political situation. But I don’t expect denizens of The View to get this," writes Glenn Reynolds after a "View" co-host, Sarah Haines, characterizes "Rocket Man" as a "phallic reference to masculine dominance." Watch the video at the link to catch the comic inflections and to experience the byplay with the other Viewsters.

Haines is taking the position that Trump's calling Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man" was "a smart move," because "If you think of Putin and you think of Kim Jong Un and you think of Donald Trump they love these phallic references to masculine dominance." That is, these men don't just enjoy talking about their phallus, they experience power as a phallic, making them vulnerable to taunts that call their masculinity into play.

It's really a very obvious observation of a sort that I've heard all my life. In "The Number of the Beast" (1980), Robert A. Heinlein wrote:
"No, she's absolutely right," said Zeb, patting the enormous pistol at his hip. "This is a penis substitute. After all, if I could kill at a range of thirty meters with my penis, I wouldn't need to carry this thing around, now would I?"
That's quoted at the TV Tropes article "Phallic Weapon":
Guns, cannons, swords, daggers... they're all penises.

After all, most of them are vaguely phallic (any object longer than it is wide = phallic), they penetrate human flesh, and killing people is a sign of virility. In the case of guns, they even "ejaculate" bullets, while swords tend to have a suggestive shape, guard positions where the hilt is held crotch height, and thrusting attacks. Even better if they are combined (bayonets on guns are the simplest applications of this, as well as any syringe-like weapon).
Glenn's taunt, aimed at the "View" women is "EVER SINCE TRUMP APPEARED, LATENT PHALLOPHOBIA HAS BECOME BLATANT PHALLOPHOBIA." If a nuclear weapon is the phallic symbol, the fear is justified and not a phobia. I don't think anyone has an exaggerated, unrealistic fear of a nuclear weapon because of its resemblance to a phallus. And it is realistic to think about how sexuality affects political and military decisionmaking. The women on "The View" handle the subject in a very fast-moving, light-hearted way, but it's a serious topic, and I think that Donald Trump has chosen to boldly display masculinity and to flaunt his superior masculine weaponry to intimidate Kim Jong Un. In this context, "Rocket Man" does translate — psychologically — into mocking Kim Jong Un for having a small penis. To point that out is not phobia, but straightforward analysis of Trump rhetoric and psychology in foreign relations.

Remember how we laughed at Kim Jong Un when his rockets failed:



Of course, it's phallic. It's phallophobia not to see the phallus aimed straight at your face.

Or does Glenn Reynolds expect us to believe that Trump wanted us to simply fill in the line with "burning out his fuse up there alone." Now, it's certainly true that — at least here in America — we associate Kim Jong Un with loneliness...



... and, sure, let's give Trump credit for needling Kim about his pathetic loneliness as well as his small penis — it's a taunt, and taunts can be multidimensional — but the line "burning out his fuse up there alone" has always been hard to hear. I listened to the song a hundred times without understanding the line, which eventually I read or... I don't know... heard William Shatner enunciate the hell out of...



Key phrase: I'm not the man they think I am at home....

That's self-doubt about masculinity. If we can imagine Kim Jong Un thinking through Bernie Taupin's lyrics, the "they" is the North Korean people, brainwashed to believe in Kim's greatness. But if he's Rocket Man, that's not enough. He knows he's not that man at all.

September 20, 2017

"Stop the hammering"/"We'll do it live."

"They told me he was out! This can’t be true! We just celebrated his birthday this past Sunday... He is such a smart little boy!”

From the NYT article "At Mexican School Hit by Quake, Heartbreak and Moments of Joy."

"Once we're able to go outside, we're going to find our island destroyed."

Said Puerto Rico's Emergency Management Director Abner Gómez Cortés, quoted in "All Power Out as Hurricane Maria’s Winds, Floods Crush Puerto Rico" (NBC).

Why I'm listening to this song.



The previous post, about trypophobia, has a photograph of a lotus flower — the trypophobe's least-favorite flower — taken by somebody else. But I thought I had taken at least one good trypophobia-triggering photograph of a lotus.

Searching the archive for "lotus" — which only works if I wrote the word too — I found, at best, this...

Untitled

... from 2012. But I tripped into "Let's not talk about philosophy while we're walking," a December 2006 post that only has "lotus" in it because I'm describing the scene in some unrecognizable café and mention that I'm sitting in a "modified lotus position."
They play this song, and I'm enjoying it. They get to this verse:
So, we went to the cinema, we came home from the cinema
We went through the front door, up the stairs,
Through the bedroom door, onto the bedroom floor
I’ve seen her naked twice, I’ve seen her naked twice!
And I say "I love this song" out loud.
I guess I wasn't alone. Where was I? Who was I with? I have no idea.

"The holes in lotus seed heads have been claimed to cause anxiety in some people."

Are you one of those people?


Photo by Peripitus, "Fruit of sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at Botanic Garden, Adelaide, South Australia."

I'm reading the Wikipedia article on Trypophobia, "a proposed phobia (intense, irrational fear, or anxiety) of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps... believed to have been coined by a participant in an online forum in 2005."
Trypophobia... is rarely used in scientific literature... However, on blogs and in internet forums, thousands of people claim to have trypophobia. Psychiatrist Carol Mathews said... most people writing online are likely disgusted by these types of images without meeting criteria for a real phobia.
I just noticed trypophobia because of a CNN article last week, "TV show triggers little-known phobia" (which begins with the note: "There are no triggering images embedded in this story. There is a slideshow at the bottom with a warning slate as the first image. However, to explain to those without trypophobia what the disorder is like, we have had to use a few descriptive phrases of common triggers. Please be cautious while reading"):
It was supposed to be a fun lunch outing in the Big Apple with her mother and grandmother. But when Jennifer Andresen saw an advertisement for this season's "American Horror Story" on the side of a New York taxi, she had to pull her car over, and fast.

"I was having a full-blown panic attack," said Andresen, who lives in Norwalk, Connecticut. "My pulse was racing. I was so nauseous. I thought I would throw up. My mother and grandmother were like, 'What is wrong with you?' I didn't want to ruin my family's day, but I couldn't help myself."
Oh, I guess I'm a jerk if I publish this post with the lotus right there staring at you with a thousand 22 eyes.

The panic-inducing poster seems to have been one of these:



Very nice posters, really. And here's Buzzfeed's trypophobia test, "Only People Without Trypophobia Will Be Able To Finish This Quiz."

From "What’s Next for Progressives in the Age of Trump?”: "10 Steps Progressives in Wisconsin Need to Take"

By Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
1. Stop the Bickering — If I read one more Facebook post on how bad Bernie is or how bad Hillary is and how reprehensible their respective followers are, I’m going to die. It’s over. Move on! I swear, if I’m at one more party with friends where this argument breaks out, I’m going to leave the party – even if it’s at my own house! We’ve got bigger problems on our hands right now – in Wisconsin, and in Washington. As Representative Gwen Moore said at the Cap Times Idea Fest panel I was on, “We need forgiveness.” All around. And then we need to move forward together.... Folks, we’re dying here! We don’t have time for your ego spats. Get your stuff together.

2. The Old Guard Needs to Go....

"Scott Adams describes the spectacular persuasion technique as a charismatic BLM leader speaks to Trump supporters. (Wow)."

"It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me."

Writes Sharyl Attkisson.
The government ... got caught monitoring journalists at Fox News, The Associated Press, and, as I allege in a federal lawsuit, my computers while I worked as an investigative correspondent at CBS News....

Then, as now, instead of getting the bigger story, some in the news media and quasi-news media published false and misleading narratives pushed by government interests. They implied the computer intrusions were the stuff of vivid imagination, conveniently dismissed forensic evidence from three independent examinations that they didn’t review. All seemed happy enough to let news of the government’s alleged unlawful behavior fade away, rather than get to the bottom of it....

Officials involved in the surveillance and unmasking of U.S. citizens have said their actions were legal and not politically motivated. And there are certainly legitimate areas of inquiry to be made by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. But look at the patterns. It seems that government monitoring of journalists, members of Congress and political enemies — under multiple administrations — has become more common than anyone would have imagined two decades ago. So has the unmasking of sensitive and highly protected names by political officials....

Kim Jong-Un calls Donald Trump "Honky Cat."

"In what some security experts fear could be a high-stakes war of Elton John lyrics...."

(Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker.)

"Sex is the new opium of the masses... a temporary heart in a heartless world."

"Unfortunately, something so immanent as sex will not — and cannot — function in the manner in which religion can, has, and does.... Sex does not explain the world. It is not a master narrative. It has little to offer by way of convincing theodicy. But in a world increasingly missing transcendence, longing for sexual expression makes sense. It should not surprised us, however, that those who (unconsciously) demand sex function like religion will come up short. Maybe that is why very liberal women are also twice as likely to report being depressed or currently in psychotherapy than very conservative women."

Writes University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus in "Cheap Sex," quoted in an American Conservative piece by Rod Dreher, "Liberal Women Are Lustier."

Liberal women are lustier? The basis for that headline is:
... sociological data showing that “more politically liberal young-adult women report wanting more sex than they have been having.” Regnerus says the percentage of women who said they would prefer to have more sex is as follows:
  • 16 percent of “very conservative” women
  • 30 percent of “conservative” women
  • 38 percent of moderate women
  • 44 percent of “liberal” women
  • 53 percent of “very liberal” women
I don't see the correspondence between the extent of "lustiness" and whether you're getting as much sex as you want. What if a woman has a partner who provides her with sex whenever she wants it, and she wants it a lot? Is she not lusty? And what about a woman who isn't feeling much or any sexual desire and therefore doesn't have much sex but she feels she should have more sex because she believes it's important or the meaning of life or the way to happiness? Is she getting counted in that sociological data? Because she's not "lusty."

Now, the headline made me click, but I'm really annoyed at the word "lustier." I don't think The American Conservate should be eager to credit liberal women with lustiness, if that's a positive quality, and since "lust" is on the old-time list of "sins" (and sex is being discussed as a substitute for religion), I'm not sure that "lustier" isn't meant as a disparagement. In any case, "lust" — which only appears in the headline — is a bad distraction and beneath the dignity of The American Conservative.

What's important, apparently, to Regnerus and Dreher, is sex as an inadequate substituted for religion. Liberalism only comes into play because it has some correspondence to religiosity.

As for "Sex is the new opium of the masses" — it's odd to hear that from someone who favors religion. It seems to say: I've got the best opium!

Swastikas, "Antifa sucks," and "Trump rules" were spray-painted next to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue building at James Madison Park in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

We don't know who did it, but what do you think? Based on past incidents, I presume things like this are false flag.

CORRECTION: The post title is updated — with "next to" replacing "on" — because spray painting wasn't on the building itself but on a monument next to it. The monument is a stone with a plaque honoring the Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War).

"I knew there was something about him, but I couldn't put my finger on it."

"He gave me a lot of attention, made me feel like I was important."

Says the woman who — for 10 years — dated a man who has pleaded guilty to murdering 7 persons over a 13-year period and who was caught after the discovery of woman with a chain around her neck in a storage container on his property.

From Inside Edition.

I can believe that a killer successful enough to murder than many people over that stretch of time is excellent at dispelling doubts and making the prospective victim feel that she's important and lucky to be getting his attention, but... 10 years?

"I was saddened to see how bad the ratings were on the Emmys last night - the worst ever. Smartest people of them all are the 'DEPLORABLES.'"

Tweeted our sarcastic President, Donald J. Trump.

Via Variety, where we learn:
Sunday’s awards ceremony averaged 11.4 million viewers, compared to 2016’s 11.3 million, its lowest ever. The telecast also averaged a 2.5 rating in adults 18-49, dropping below last year’s low point of a 2.8.
So it's "worst ever" if you look at the 18-49 number, but not if you count everyone, which is ironic if you think of the over-49ers as containing the highest concentration of deplorables.

"Yet... it is you who have pressured me, who has taught and researched for 41 years in university and is a Nobel Prize recipient, to do that which I will not do..."

"... advantage a single [Disability Resources and Educational Services] student over the 100-plus non-DRES students in my course by providing that student with my lectures electronically."

Writes Michael Schlesinger, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (who is "a Nobel Prize recipient" in the sense that he worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore).

As Inside Higher Ed reports, Schlesinger has been put on paid leave for refusing to share his lecture slides with a disabled student, as instructed by the disability accommodation administrators at his school.

He's very antagonistic toward them and their expertise: "Although you have a doctorate, I doubt that you teach. Although you have a doctorate, I doubt that you do research... I think the university needs to rethink having people such as you. Nonetheless, I look forward to spending the remainder of my life in Kona, Hawaii."

I can't help wanting to say that climate scientists expect us to bow to their expertise and take dictation about what must be done as a consequence of their findings, but here's the climate scientist resisting the expertise of people in the disability-accommodation field.

It's kind of ironic. Does he think this one student is scamming to get an advantage over the other students? The idea behind disability accommodations is to put the affected student on the same level as the other students, but he's objecting to giving that student an "advantage." Is he a disability doubter?

"Before the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn pledged to spend $10 billion and create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, the company made a similar promise in Brazil."

"At a news conference in Brazil, Foxconn officials unveiled plans to invest billions of dollars and build one of the world’s biggest manufacturing hubs in the state of São Paulo. The government had high expectations that the project would yield 100,000 jobs. Six years later, Brazil is still waiting for most of those jobs to materialize.... In China, Foxconn has built vast factories backed by large government subsidies.... But the model does not translate easily to other countries, where Foxconn must navigate different social, political and labor conditions...."

From the NYT, "Before Wisconsin, Foxconn Vowed Big Spending in Brazil. Few Jobs Have Come.."

"... being as candid, open, as I could be..."

I love the stress on the word "I" as Hillary Clinton talks about the difficulty of writing her book...



The stress changes the meaning to: It's particularly difficult for me to be honest.

I also like this "Paula Revere" business:



"And I am saying, as clearly as I can — I feel like a bit of a Paula Revere (I'm trying to sound the alarm about this) — is that, you know, you've got to understand what Putin's strategy is: He really doesn't like democracy. He thinks it's an inconvenient, messy process.* And he doesn't like us and he wants to destabilize our country, sow doubt about our democracy."

Paul Revere sounded the alarm that the British were coming, as Americans fought our war for independence from a colonial power. Hillary is sounding the alarm that a leader in another country doesn't like our democracy and wants us to doubt our own country. Paradoxically, she is sowing doubts about our democracy through these claims that the Russians are coming. But they're not coming the way the British were coming, to fight a war....



They're coming to buy targeted ads on Facebook. There's no invasion in the offing. A distant foreign power coaxes us to eat away at ourselves from the inside. And Hillary urges us to gnaw away.
________________

* It is an inconvenient, messy process!

September 19, 2017

But you've been using violence against women (and children and men) to entertain people for half a century.


Maybe this is a takes-one-to-know-one situation, but I can barely think of a person who is more implicated in the popularization of the use of images of violence for the casual amusement of the American people.

And if you want to talk about men making entertainment out of terrible things done to  women, look at Stephen King's new book (co-written with his son), "Sleeping Beauties," reviewed here (in The Washington Post):
“Sleeping Beauties” takes place in the little Appalachian town of Dooling, W.Va., which for no apparent reason becomes ground zero of a worldwide gyno-epidemic, known as the Aurora Flu: The moment any woman falls asleep, she’s immediately covered in a sticky white cocoon, like a full-body cotton-candy wrap. What’s worse, terrified family members who break open these cocoons find that their mothers, sisters and daughters have transformed into bloodthirsty killers. “It’s, like, the ultimate P-M-S,” one yahoo says....
But I'm sure King would argue that he's not sexist. He's showing you bad guys who are sexist.
What’s... surprising is the novel’s grim gender politics. The Kings tell us that “hard right conservatives on talk radio were proclaiming the Aurora virus as proof that God was angry with feminism.” 
The right wing, over there, they are bad, like bad old President Trump, laughing about the golf ball.
We’re made to understand that that’s ridiculous, but the story doesn’t do much to supply an alternative interpretation. Despite having a female police chief, Dooling is a town under a dome, a place with little sense that we live in an era of rapidly changing attitudes about sexuality and gender roles. The novel’s theme feels just as essentialist as the spooky virus that always gets its gal. And the Lord-of-the-Flies battle that consumes the final half of the story reinscribes every worn-out trope about peaceful, constructive women and violent, destructive men.
I think that means King wants to be considered pro-woman. Fine. I assume he means well. But President Trump also claims to be pro-woman. He just also enjoys some laughing at a woman knocked down by a golf ball, and King enjoys 700 pages of women knocked out of consciousness and bound up by a sticky white substance. How could only one of these things be indicative of a severely fucked-up mind?

Hey, the WaPo reviewer, Ron Charles, made a pretty funny video about struggling to stay awake to read the 700 page tome:

"This is much worse than Watergate, folks. That was a third-rate burglary that went awry."

"Trump was called a liar. He was mocked for tweeting about Trump Tower being wiretapped. David Gergen, you’ll hear on the sound bites today, practically chokes when confronted with the news that Trump was right and doesn’t quite know what to say about it. But, I tell you what, folks, in many ways it’s worse than Watergate, and it’s still going on even with Trump in the White House. Richard Nixon was accused of spying on the DNC, but Nixon never ordered any such spying. In fact, he didn’t know anything about it. He was accused of using the IRS against his political opponents, but he never did. We know for a fact that Obama did both of these things, used the IRS against political opponents and probably more. There’s no outrage in the media on this. They think it’s great that Manafort’s lock was picked. The New York Times reports this as though it’s something that happens every day. Yep, the FBI showed up, they picked the lock of Manafort’s front door in Virginia and walked in and woke him up along with his family and then started demanding things and taking things...."

Rush Limbaugh, today.

At the Sunflower Café...

P1150273

... you can talk about whatever you like.

(And consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission..."

"... for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do. It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved. But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior."

Said President Trump at his speech today at the United Nations.


I think, overall, Trump gave a great speech today, but I cannot figure out why he would take the taunt "Rocket Man" — questionable enough when deployed on Twitter — and use in the U.N. Not only is it too casual, too undignified, it undercuts its own point: that Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous nut. You wreck  your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

ADDED: Scott Adams loved Trump's saying "Rocket Man" at the U.N. (Is his reason anything more than: It tweaks the left?)

Trump addresses the U.N. General Assembly.



ADDED: Here's the transcript of the speech. Just yesterday, I was focusing on a question asked on CNN: "Will the president stick by his America-first message when he appears before the U.N. this coming week?" So let's look at the place in today's speech where Trump says "America first":
The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.
In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first. (Applause.)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

"An emerging body of research is suggesting that soaring 35,000ft (10km) above the ground inside a sealed metal tube can do strange things to our minds..."

"... altering our mood, changing how our senses work and even making us itch more."

BBC reports in "How flying seriously messes with your mind."

I'd never before noticed the claim that people are more likely to cry over movies if they're watching on a plane.
There are many theories about why flying might leave passengers more vulnerable to crying – sadness at leaving loved ones, excitement about the trip ahead, homesickness. But there is also some evidence that flying itself may also be responsible.
I don't know if I've ever watched a movie on a plane. I've watched parts of movies that were being shown at me and quit. I really dislike having to focus my eyes on something that's shaky. I prefer to listen to an audiobook (with my eyes closed). And of course, I prefer not to fly at all.

"US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election..."

"... sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe. The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump... The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources. The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year...."

You may remember a series of Trump tweets last March:
1. "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

2. "Is it legal for a sitting President to be 'wire tapping' a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!"

3. "I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!"

4. "How low has President Obama gone to tapp* my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
Here's BBC discussing the response to those tweets back in March:
[The tweets] were not backed up by any evidence, and Mr Obama's spokesman and former US intelligence chief James Clapper denied that any wiretap had been ordered.... FBI Director James Comey for the first time on Monday confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the agency is investigating possible links between Russia and Mr Trump's associates as part of a broader inquiry into Moscow's interference in last year's election. He also disputed Mr Trump's wiretapping claims.

"With respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI," he told the panel....

WaPo reports on a 15-year-old girl who prefers to stay home and spend time with her family and the mother who's worried about her.

The girl "has no interest in dating, driving, working for pay or drinking alcohol - and the rising costs of college keep her up at night," and the mother says: "On the one hand, I know she’s safe, she’s not out getting pregnant or smoking pot or drinking or doing all kinds of risky stuff that I can imagine would be age appropriate... [But i]s that stuff necessary for human development, do you have to be risk-taking as a teenager in order to succeed as an adult?"

That's the concluding anecdote in an article titled "Not drinking or driving, teens increasingly put off traditional markers of adulthood."

Teens not getting into trouble. That's the news. That's the man bites dog. Teenagers, they're supposed to be trouble.

This makes me want to quote a passage from one of my favorite books "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir" by Bill Bryson. Bryson — born, like me, in 1951 — is talking about the 1950s, when fear of teenagers raged:
Teenagers smoked and talked back and petted in the backs of cars. They used disrespectful terms to their elders like “pops” and “daddy-o.” They smirked. They drove in endless circuits around any convenient business district. They spent up to fourteen hours a day combing their hair. They listened to rock ’n’ roll, a type of charged music clearly designed to get youngsters in the mood to fornicate and smoke hemp. “We know that many platter-spinners are hop-heads,” wrote the authors of the popular book USA Confidential, showing a proud grasp of street patois. “Many others are Reds, left-wingers or hecklers of social convention.”

Movies like The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause, Blackboard Jungle, High School Confidential!, Teen-Age Crime Wave, Reform School Girl, and (if I may be allowed a personal favorite) Teenagers from Outer Space made it seem that the youth of the nation was everywhere on some kind of dark, disturbed rampage. The Saturday Evening Post called juvenile crime “the Shame of America.” Time and Newsweek both ran cover stories on the country’s new young hoodlums. Under Estes Kefauver the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency launched a series of emotive hearings on the rise of street gangs and associated misbehavior.
Anyway, I love the mom in the new WaPo story, worrying that her daughter isn't out getting into teenager trouble because — who knows? — even that might have something to do with Success as an Adult.

"The new research... seems to potentially empower a critique of climate science that has often been leveled by skeptics, doubters and 'lukewarmers' who argue that warming is shaping up to be less than climate models have predicted."

WaPo concedes in "New climate change calculations could buy the Earth some time — if they’re right."

Some experts have recalculated and say we have 20 years instead of 3 in the "carbon budget" (that is, how long it will take, at the current rate of emissions, to warm the earth to 2.7°F beyond what it was in the late 19th century — the "pre-industrial" time).

IN THE COMMENTS: Expat(ish) says:
Hate to be picky about a headline written by a non-STEM person, but the "calculations" don't give the "Earth some time."

First, the *new* calculations predict that more time will pass before X.

Secondly, there will still be time for the "Earth" (why is that capitalized?) no matter the climate. Unless the SMOD breaks it to smithereens when Trump is re-elected.
1. If you follow The Chicago Manual of Style, the word "the" determines whether you capitalize Earth/earth. So if they were hot to capitalize "Earth," they should have left out the "the." Notice that we always capitalize "Mars" and "Venus," but we never say "The Mars" or "The Venus" ... when we're talking about planets. One can imagine a museum curator saying "We need to relocate the Venus to the stairwell."

2. Earth isn't in the market for time. That's a human desire. George Carlin said it best (NSFW):

Poll results for "Does Trump have a sense of humor?"



I put this poll up yesterday in a post inspired by the NYT op-ed "Is Nothing Funny, Mr. President?" (which stated that Trump completely lacked a sense of humor). My personal opinion is that Trump has a strong sense of humor and frequently uses humor. He uses it like a professional comedian, not like a traditional politician.

The NYT writer (a former Obama speechwriter) talked about the "bipartisan Oval Office tradition" of "safe, well-placed quips that crowds are well primed to laugh at," which are the "presidential equivalent of dad jokes."

Yeah, that's not what Trump does. He's not about warming us all up and signaling that he's a good guy (which, by the way, is something a complete villain would do!). He's actually into comedy and may even do comedy for the sake of comedy and not necessarily as a means to an end (though he seems to believe that he's lucky and things work out for him if he does it his way).

The NYT writer observed Trump's tendency not to laugh at humor. But many professional comedians keep a straight face. I see that as a more advanced level of comedian. Laughing at your own jokes is "dad joke" style, and laughing at other people's jokes is kind of beta. Why do people laugh at the jokes of others? Sometimes, because it's really that funny, you laugh the way you'd laugh if you were alone hearing the joke on the radio. But mostly you laugh at other people's jokes to ingratiate yourself and display that you're a nice person who cares about feelings.

And if you are like that, you're probably not a high-quality comedian yourself, though I'm sure in front of a well-primed audience, you could deliver a scripted dad joke.

"Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home."

"They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation."

From "With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone" (NYT).
“They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. “You want people saying to themselves, ‘Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.’”
This story is also very well discussed in the NYT podcast this morning, here, strongly underscoring Wisenberg's point.

September 18, 2017

Nancy Pelosi — at her own Dreamers rally — is overtaken by bustling, screaming protesters who want action for all 11 million undocumented immigrants — not just those covered by DACA.

It's very disturbing to watch this disrespect for the venerable House Minority Leader (but she keeps her cool and looks strong):

Does Trump have a sense of humor?

1. In the NYT, we have David Litt (a former speechwriter for President Obama), contending that Trump is "a commander in chief without a sense of humor."
[Trump] uses his well-honed sense of timing as a cudgel. He jeers. He mocks. His goal is to insult, rather than to entertain.... President Trump does not possess the sense of nuance a well-told joke requires...

Without the qualities that laughter both demonstrates and fosters — a willingness to find common ground, the respect for agreed-upon norms and the awareness that we are all only human — Mr. Trump’s attitude toward the presidency is defined by the one characteristic that remains: a lust for power....
2. Meanwhile, on Twitter, Scott Adams — who's kind of a humor expert — seems to think Trump has a fabulous sense of humor. He can't stop laughing about "Rocket Man" and the golf-ball-hits-Hillary video:

3. This issue is squarely raised. You decide:

Does Trump have a sense of humor? Pick the answer closest to what you think.
 
pollcode.com free polls

At the Cleome Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please support this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Trump at the U.N.


ADDED: Nikki Haley was on "State of the Union" yesterday, and the host Dana Bash played her a clip of Trump saying:
"The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It's not a friend to freedom. It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel."
Bash then paraphased that — very unfairly I think — in the question: "Will the president stick by his America-first message when he appears before the U.N. this coming week?"

Haley did not do what I'd have done with that question — say that it's just plain wrong to translate that statement of Trump's into "his America-first message." He spoke of democracy and freedom, principles that matter to all human beings, and he criticized the U.N. for its hostility to the United States and to Israel. To object to bad treatment is not to demand to be put first.

Haley avoids repeating and reinforcing Bash's phrase. Here's what she said, which you can see restates and augments what Trump said:

If the "smartest move" — in making a serious TV drama about porn — is "exploiting the contradictions," then how can you say "'The Deuce' is certainly a feminist series"?

I don't watch this show, and there's no way I will, but I do read The New Yorker, and that means I'm often challenging myself to understand TV shows (and movies) that I do not and will not watch. I'm keeping an eye on the culture from the safe distance of reading. For example, I read this about the Emmys show, which I did not watch:
“I haven’t had a TV since I moved out of my parents house at 18,” [Shailene Woodley] told E! News in the pre-show on the red carpet at the 2017 Emmy Awards Sunday, where Big Little Lies had received 16 nominations.

“All my friends who watch TV, I always ask them when they have time to. When do they have time to?” she said. “I’m a reader. I always have a book.”
That's reported at People under the headline "Shailene Woodley Slammed After Revealing She Doesn't Own a TV on Emmys Red Carpet: 'I'm a Reader.'" Slammed? Why? Actors are supposed to tout the industry? Or does claiming to be "a reader" sound snobby? Tell me what books Shailene Woodley reads and I'll have an opinion on that. It seems to me many of these TV shows and ponderous and hard work to watch, and lots of books are lightweight. My preference for reading is more about wanting control of my own time, to go fast or slow, to switch into my own thoughts, and to retrace my path and skip around.

Ah! I found an answer to the question what books does Shailene Woodley read:
[Shailene's] favorite is Henry and June by Anaïs Nin, a memoir about the author's passionate love for Henry Miller and his wife, June. "Anaïs is like the ultimate goddess," Shailene says. "I feel really connected to her femininity." Much like we feel connected to your femininity, Shai. (Did that sound creepy?)
That's Teen Vogue, which might explain the cutesy dancing around carnality. So, onto the subject of the New Yorker article: "'The Deuce' and the Birth of Porn/The show is a classic David Simon joint, in which sex workers and porn actors are treated like any other alienated workforce," by Emily Nussbaum:
“The Deuce” is certainly a feminist series—and half its directors are female—but its smartest move is to resist turning sex into a thesis, exploiting the contradictions instead. 
You're a connoisseur of contradictions, a resister of sex as a thesis, and yet you dictate to me: "'The Deuce' is certainly a feminist series." Why the certainty?! Why shut the door to the exploration of contradictions in the contention that this show — about pornography — is certainly feminist? I'm outraged by this pronouncement. I would begin with the hypothesis that a show about pornography is anti-feminist, but you want me not even to think about it.

I continue reading this article precisely because I'm so annoyed:
Often, this means visually scrambling cable clichés, starting with a rape role-play in the première that spills into genuine violence. In the aftermath, Darlene, dabbing her bruises, is nude, but she’s never the camera’s focus. Instead, our gaze keeps settling, with nosy clarity, on her bald trick’s big-bellied torso, his matted back hair, his exposed crotch, forcing us to consider that body—both pathetic and intimidating—not hers.

There’s warmth, too, particularly through [Maggie] Gyllenhaal’s mournful, electric presence, her fame itself upending the hierarchies of cable, which typically dictates that extras bare it all while the stars cover up. With the polarities reversed, and the biggest celebrity somehow exposed and not objectified, I found myself craving a sex scene between the one non-sex-worker African-American couple on the show: in this context, such a sequence became elevating, not debasing, a sign that the characters were taken seriously enough to see their private world.
What is the argument that this is even uncertainly feminist? I really have no idea. Getting the star to go nude is an old trick, and not one I associate with feminism. Showing an ugly man having sex with a beautiful woman is a tale as old as time. Maybe somehow the graphic depiction of rape and the bruised body of a woman is supposed to be flipped into something meaningful, but Nussbaum doesn't explain how this happens and why this isn't just another way to palm off the same misogyny that the recently departed Kate Millett wrote about in "Sexual Politics."

Is it that half of the directors of "Deuce" are women? So they hire on women to get immunity from the charge of misogyny. We're supposed to support the furthering of the careers of women and see that as feminism. Could Nussbaum please explain why the gambit of hiring women to work on projects like this is certainly feminist and not actively anti-feminist?

There's always a woman who will take the work. They can put the face of a woman on any project they want. Is it that easy to get the Certainly Feminist stamp? (If so, porn itself is certainly feminist.)

Google celebrates the birthday of Samuel Johnson.



"As a popular search engine marks the great lexicographer’s birthday, it’s a good time for some defining questions. Can you get them right without googling?" (The Guardian). ("What is Johnson defining here? 'To deprive a dog of something, nobody knows what, under his tongue, which is said to prevent him, nobody knows why, from running mad.'") I got 5/10.

"Who was Samuel Johnson? The father of the modern dictionary's funniest entries" (The Telegraph). ("Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.")

"Samuel Johnson: Who is this literary figure, what did he do and why is he so important?"
(Independent).
The primary reason for Johnson’s enduring appeal though, outside of his own remarkable achievements in print, is surely the ongoing popularity of James Boswell’s fantastically detailed Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).... Boswell recalls such delightful comic incidents as Johnson good-naturedly dismissing Burke as “a vile Whig”, rebuking Goldsmith for being “loose in his principles” and declining a repeat visit backstage to visit Garrick at the theatre because, “the silk stockings and white bosoms of your actresses excite my amorous propensities.” His opinions on everything from remarriage ("the triumph of hope over experience") to women vicars* and the merits of Alexander Pope are preserved for the ages in a work whose value cannot be overstated.
Don't forget Johnson's "Grammar of the English Tongue." That's the one I keep in my Kindle. Sample:

"From a loft in San Francisco in 1967, a 21-year-old named Jann S. Wenner started a magazine that would become the counterculture bible for baby boomers."

"Rolling Stone defined cool, cultivated literary icons and produced star-making covers that were such coveted real estate they inspired a song. But the headwinds buffeting the publishing industry, and some costly strategic missteps, have steadily taken a financial toll on Rolling Stone, and a botched story three years ago about an unproven gang rape at the University of Virginia badly bruised the magazine’s journalistic reputation. And so, after a half-century reign that propelled him into the realm of the rock stars and celebrities who graced his covers, Mr. Wenner is putting his company’s controlling stake in Rolling Stone up for sale, relinquishing his hold on a publication he has led since its founding."

The NYT reports.

I wonder how much they thought about that phrase "an unproven gang rape" and what alternatives they considered. To my ear, it sounds as though they're implying that there was a gang rape, but it just couldn't be proved. The story was completely debunked!
On January 12, 2015, Charlottesville Police Department officials told UVA that an investigation had failed to find any evidence confirming the events in the Rolling Stone article.... At the request of Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism agreed to audit the editorial processes that culminated in the article being published....

In light of the findings, Erik Wemple of The Washington Post pronounced the story "a complete crock". In the Columbia Journalism Review, Bill Grueskin called the story "a mess—thinly sourced, full of erroneous assumptions, and plagued by gaping holes in the reporting." The Columbia Journalism Review called the story "this year's media-fail sweepstakes" and the Poynter Institute named it as the "Error of the Year" in journalism.
The NYT has a separate article that's a tribute to the greatness of Rolling Stone over the years: "It filled its pages with the words of renowned writers, including Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Cameron Crowe and Greil Marcus." Yes, it's very sad that we don't get journalism like that anymore. These days, I love reading old articles by Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe. And I remember the day back in the 1960s, when I was in high school, I first saw the publication waved about by a classmate who acted like he had his hands on something very special. How important is this thing supposed to be?, I wondered. We already have Crawdaddy.

Why did Sean Spicer do the Emmys? Did no one ever tell him they're not laughing with you they're laughing at you?

The yearning for acceptance from the popular kids must claw at poor Spicey.

Via WaPo: "Here's how it went down, with late-night host Stephen Colbert — who happens to be one of Trump's most unapologetic and high-profile critics — setting up the gag:"
COLBERT: What really matters to Donald Trump is ratings. You've got to have the big numbers. And I certainly hope we achieve that tonight. Unfortunately, at this point, we have no way of knowing how big our audience is. I mean, is there anyone who could say how big the audience is. Sean, do you know?

(Spicer glides out with a podium, Melissa McCarthy-style.)

SPICER: This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period — both in person and around the world.

COLBERT: Wow. That really soothes my fragile ego. I could understand why you'd want one of these guys around. Melissa McCarthy, everybody, give it up!
The WaPo headline calls the cameo "yucky," and the column-writer, Aaron Blake is not grossed out because Spicey played along despite contempt for him and for the President he once served, but because:
... Spicer yukking it up over one of his most demonstrably false statements from the White House lectern strongly suggests this is just what spokesmen are supposed to do. The president asked him to do it, so it must be okay. Damn the truth.
Blake thinks this comedy "normalize[s]" the lying/bullshit/puffery of press secretaries.
[L]aughing at flouting the truth... serves notice to other spokesmen that they needn't worry about being credible.
Blake belongs to the that's-not-funny school of comedy appreciation. I'm surprised at his reaction. I thought Spicer got conned into participating in political satire that hurts him and the politicians with whom he's allied himself. I think America deserves better political satire and that it was a bad idea to load the Emmys show with political satire — especially partisan political satire (why alienate half your potential audience?). But I think comedy, done well, is powerful, important speech. The Spicer bit was criticism of the dishonesty of the White House press secretary. It didn't slough it off or "normalize" it. If the bullshit is normal, there's no joke in Spicer's line.

Now, I can see that Blake could have said that just allowing Spicer into the Emmys party sends the message that he's not completely toxic. And perhaps that's the sad-sack reason Spicer did the show, like the high school kid who's pleased to get an invitation to popular kid's party...



Well, in that movie the popular kids get it in the end. The bullying and the hate can backfire. And we all know what happened when "Laugh-In" included Nixon:

September 17, 2017

At the Garden Path Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"But it's different with girls, don't you think?"

"A Silicon Valley CEO reveals her secret to getting ahead in business - dyeing her blonde hair brown, and ditching her heels and contact lenses."

BBC reports.
"The first time I dyed my hair was actually due to advice I was given by a woman in venture capital," [Eileen Carey] says.

Carey was told that the investors she was pitching to would feel more comfortable dealing with a brunette, rather than a blonde woman.
Here's a close-up of her blonde hair before she "dyed" it brown:
I don't know if there really is discrimination against blonde women, but it looks as though she was a woman who had bleached her hair blonde, and then switched to a more natural color.
"I was told for this raise [of funds], that it would be to my benefit to dye my hair brown because there was a stronger pattern recognition of brunette women CEOs," she explains.

Pattern recognition is a theory which suggests people look for familiar experiences - or people - which in turn can make them feel more comfortable with the perceived risks they are taking.

When she had blonde hair, Eileen says she was likened to Elizabeth Holmes, whose company Theranos has been through a lot of controversy.

"Being a brunette helps me to look a bit older and I needed that, I felt, in order to be taken seriously," Carey says.
If you were really concerned about being taken seriously, would you go to the press and rave about your hair color like that?

If there's a real problem with hair-color discrimination — is there? do some serious research! — then let's fight it, not cater to it and bullshit with the euphemism "pattern recognition."
In interviewing candidates for roles at her startup, Glassbreakers, which provides companies with software aimed at attracting and empowering a diverse workforce, she's encountered other blonde women who have also dyed their hair brown.

"We discussed that there's the fetishisation of blondes," says Carey. "People are more likely to hit on me in a bar if I'm blonde. There's just that issue in general. For me to be successful in this [tech industry] space, I'd like to draw as little attention as possible, especially in any sort of sexual way."
Key word: start up. This is a person looking for attention — while saying "I'd like to draw as little attention as possible." It's just embarrassing. Her company Glassbreakers is pushing software the "empower[s] a diverse workforce"?! Then don't make a joke out of color-based discrimination. I suspect she thinks her type of color discrimination isn't pernicious because it's aimed at something unique to white people, blonde hair, and she's characterizing it as bad. But she isn't characterizing it as bad! She's saying blonde women are so much more attractive that we've got to apply a chemical treatment to darken it it to erase the powerful advantage. That's grotesque. It's like advising white people to wear blackface makeup to surrender white privilege.

But, again, I don't think this woman is a natural blonde. So she was a color-changer. Maybe there's discrimination against women who don't keep their natural hair-color. I don't know that there is, but it does say something about you that you've made the effort to change. People will speculate about why you are doing that (and also why you're letting dark roots show). It may be that they're thinking you're striving for kind of conventional or Fox News look, and that really would conflict with the Glassbreakers message.

"For him, basketball was everything."

"Kim [Jong Un] drew pictures of Michael Jordan and slept with a basketball, according to Ko Yong Suk, the aunt who cared for him [when he was at school in Bern, Switzerland].... It is a measure of how impoverished America’s contact with North Korea has become that one of the best-known conduits is Dennis Rodman, a.k.a. the Worm, the bad boy of the nineties-era Chicago Bulls. Rodman’s agent, Chris Volo, a hulking former mixed-martial-arts fighter, told me recently, 'I’ve been there four times in four years. I’m in the Korean Sea, and I’m saying to myself, "No one would believe that I’m alone right now, riding Sea-Doos with Kim Jong Un."' 2013, when Vice Media, aware of Kim’s love of the Bulls, offered to fly American basketball players to North Korea. Vice tried to contact Michael Jordan but got nowhere. Rodman, who was working the night-club autograph circuit, was happy to go. He joined three members of the Harlem Globetrotters for a game in Pyongyang. Kim made a surprise appearance, invited Rodman to dinner, and asked him to return to North Korea for a week at his private beach resort in Wonsan, which Rodman later described as 'Hawaii or Ibiza, but he’s the only one that lives there.' On his most recent trip, in June, Rodman gave Kim English and Korean editions of Trump’s 1987 best-seller, 'The Art of the Deal.'"

The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea/On the ground in Pyongyang: Could Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump goad each other into a devastating confrontation? by Evan Osnos (in The New Yorker).

ADDED: Here's a WaPo article from last year: "The secret life of Kim Jong Un’s aunt, who has lived in the U.S. since 1998":
“He wasn’t a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered and had a lack of tolerance,” Ko recalled. “When his mother tried to tell him off for playing with [games and machinery] too much and not studying enough, he wouldn’t talk back, but he would protest in other ways, like going on a hunger strike.”...

He was shorter than his friends, and his mother told him that if he played basketball, he would become taller, Ko said.

"New York Times publishes eye-popping correction on campus-sexual-assault book review."

Erik Wemple (at WaPo) writes about a book review by Michelle Goldberg that led to a correction that reads:
A review on Page 11 this weekend about “Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power and Consent on Campus,” by Vanessa Grigoriadis, refers incorrectly to her reporting on the issues. She does in fact write about Department of Justice statistics that say college-age women are less likely than nonstudent women of the same age to be victims of sexual assault; it is not the case that Grigoriadis was unaware of the department’s findings. In addition, the review describes incorrectly Grigoriadis’s presentation of statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. She showed that there is disagreement over whether the data are sound; it is not the case that she gave the reader “no reason to believe” the statistics are wrong.
Just above that correction are the last 2 sentences of Goldberg's review:
But if you’re going to challenge people’s preconceptions, you have to have your facts straight. “Blurred Lines” gives readers too many reasons not to trust it, even when perhaps they should.
Does that mean that if you are confirming people's preconceptions, you don't have to get your facts straight?

ADDED: That question of mine is, I think, key to understanding the prevalence of "fake news."

I resisted blogging the kid-mows-the-White-House-lawn photo op, but this...

... makes the cut for me:



Now, there are 2 sides, and it's a delicious fight.

September 16, 2017

Professor Bret Weinstein settles his case against Evergreen State College for $500,000.

He (and his wife) originally sued for $3.85 million, and he is resigning from the job.

"Cake Is His ‘Art.’ So Can He Deny One to a Gay Couple?"

A fair presentation by Adam Liptak in the NYT of what's at stake in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
Jack Phillips bakes beautiful cakes, and it is not a stretch to call him an artist.... “It’s more than just a cake,” he said at his bakery one recent morning. “It’s a piece of art in so many ways.”

The couple he refused to serve, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, filed civil rights charges. They said they had been demeaned and humiliated as they sought to celebrate their union. “We asked for a cake,” Mr. Craig said. “We didn’t ask for a piece of art or for him to make a statement for us. He simply turned us away because of who we are.”
What is art? Why does it matter? Does artier artisan work get counted as speech?
“Because of my faith, I believe the Bible teaches clearly that it’s a man and a woman,” [said Mr. Phillips]. Making a cake to celebrate something different, he said, “causes me to use the talents that I have to create an artistic expression that violates that faith.”...

“Our story is about us being turned away and discriminated against by a public business,” said Mr. Mullins, 33, an office manager, poet, musician and photographer.

Getting it together.

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I'm up to Step 4 in transforming the rarely used living room into The Music Room.

(Please use this post as an open thread... which means that I must add: Please consider doing any shopping you might have through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"Although you will spend most of the painful, torturous and stressful two hours it takes to survive mother! trying to figure out what it’s all about..."

"... I advise you to ignore the reviews entirely and make up your own fantasy. One critic says it’s a satire on the chaos the dysfunctional world has been turned into by Donald Trump.... One reviewer says [Jennifer Lawrence] plays the quintessential Earth mother who works feverishly to restore balance to a planet Earth that is being constantly torn apart by wickedness and savagery. I love the review that compares the movie to the 'lancing of a boil.' They all insist mother! is a metaphor for something, although they are not quite sure what it is.... The New York Times critic arrogantly warns in his review: 'Don’t listen to anyone who natters on about how intense or disturbing it is.' Sorry, pal, but [SPOILER ALERT] a mob that burns a screaming baby and its mother alive, then turns cannibal, eats the baby and rips its heart out to flush down the toilet while Patti Smith sings about the end of the world pretty much fits my definition of both 'intense' and 'disturbing.' What’s yours?"

Writes Rex Reed. In addition to a rating of zero stars, Reed opines that “Worst movie of the year” isn't enough and calls it the “Worst movie of the century.” It's just too early in the century to be saying that though, so Reed seems to be of a piece with the culture of hysteria that's giving us movies like this.

"Singing and acting are actually very similar things. Anyone can sing and anyone can be a film actor. All you have to do is learn."

"I learned to sing when I was a child I had a babysitter named Thelma. She was 18, I was six, and I was in love with her. I used to sing her an old Jimmie Rodgers song, 'T for Thelma.' [He sings:] 'T for Texas, T for Tennessee, T for Thelma, that girl made a wreck out of me.' [He smiles:] I was singing the blues when I was six. Kind of sad, eh?"

Blogged here in 2013. He was Harry Dean Stanton, who died yesterday at the age of 91. Here's the NYT obit. Excerpt:
[H]e remained largely unknown to the general public until 1984, when the seemingly impossible, or at least the unexpected, happened: Mr. Stanton, the quintessential supporting player, became a leading man.

That year he starred as a wandering amnesiac reunited with his family in Wim Wenders’s “Paris, Texas,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and as a fast-talking automobile thief training Emilio Estevez in the ways of his world in Alex Cox’s cult comedy “Repo Man.”...

Mr. Stanton was never anonymous again, although he continued to make his contributions almost entirely in supporting roles. He played Molly Ringwald’s underemployed father in the teenage romance “Pretty in Pink” (1986), the apostle Paul in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), a private eye in David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” (1990), a judge in Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998), the hero’s ailing brother in Mr. Lynch’s “The Straight Story” (1999), a veteran inmate cheerfully testing the electrocution equipment in “The Green Mile” (1999) and Charlie Sheen’s father in “The Big Bounce” (2004)... [and] Roman Grant, a self-proclaimed prophet with 14 wives, on [HBO's] “Big Love”...

"And lo! There, right infront of us, was the so hyped ‘white giraffe’ of Ishaqbini conservancy!"

"They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence. The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards infront of us while signalling the baby Giraffe to hide behind the bushes..."



Hirola Conservation Programme Director & Founder, Dr. Abdullahi Ali says:
"I am positive these rare giraffes will change the perception of outsiders regarding north eastern Kenya in which many people have negative perceptions. I remember two years while I was in the US someone asked me where do you come from in Kenya and I said Garissa in Eastern Kenya. Her immediate response was that 'there is a lot of nothing there.' Snowy white giraffes and the rare hirola are [of] course not everywhere!"

"Summary of Clay Travis vs CNN."

The heart-shaped boob challenge.

"People are squishing their boobs into hearts, for reasons we don’t entirely understand...."

More examples here.

Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D.



"Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D., is a fictional character appearing in the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine."
Jeremy Hillary Boob was originally named Jeremy Y. du Q. Adams, after Southern Methodist University professor Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams. The character of Jeremy was intended as a parody of public intellectuals and polymaths, most notably theatrical director and doctor, Jonathan Miller, whom story writer Lee Minoff had previously worked with. He is also alleged to have been inspired by Cambridge poet J.H. Prynne.
From 2016: "The Dallas Man Who Inspired Yellow Submarine's Jeremy Hillary Boob Has Died."
“What parents do to kids is awful,” [Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams] said in an interview with the Observer in June, 2015. Back in the '60s, he was going by Jeremy Y. du Q. Adams, which his friend Erich Segal, who invented the character, loved. The character’s name was originally Jeremy Y. du Boob before being changed to Jeremy Hillary Boob....
Apparently, "Hillary" is funnier than "Y. du Q."

Why did Clay Travis say "I believe in the First Amendment and boobs," and what's the best thing Brooke Baldwin could have said in response?

I put the clip up yesterday, and said little other than that Travis clearly meant to say it and had no regret about saying it. I'm interested in figuring out what he was trying to make happen. He's a radio guy. Is he a shock jock? Was it just: Here's my opportunity, I'll get everyone talking about me? Or did he think he could trigger a substantive discussion about freedom of speech or the looks-based success of women in TV journalism?

Brooke Baldwin, the female CNN host, handled the comment by repeatedly asking Travis if he'd really said "boobs," emphasizing her own status "as a woman," giving the other guest (Keith Reed) a chance to speak (but cutting him off 3 times when he was speaking), and then announcing "I'm done, yanking mikes, bye."

Baldwin has a written piece at CNN now, "Speaking like this to women in 2017? No way." She reveals that her own response to was to "let it hang," but her executive producer (a man) started talking to her in her earpiece, and that's why "I just couldn't let this go."
I quickly felt myself turning red -- getting irritated and angry. My mind was racing. My face, I could tell, was incredulous. In the thick of it all, I could see my other guest, Keith Reed, was equally aghast. The newsroom around me fell silent. I was staring into the camera trying to make sense of what was unfolding on live television.... And then I did something I've done only a handful of times in my career. I told the control room to kill his mic and said "bye."
The stages: 1. Disbelief, 2. Anger, 3. End of discussion.

Rewatching the video, what bothers me most is that Baldwin cuts Reed off. He's saying lucid things, responding to Travis appropriately. Anyway, I understand the reaction that Travis wouldn't have gotten on the show in the first place if they'd known he would say that, but I wish that instead of Baldwin's theater of disbelief, anger, and silencing, she'd confronted him with intelligence and strength. Why — if she's good enough to be a CNN host — couldn't she get out a pithy question requiring Travis to connect up his thoughts? I'm thinking of something like: Did you come on my show to play the clown or do "boobs" — as you inelegantly put it — have something to do with your idea of why Curt Schilling got fired and Jamele Hill did not? 

Dominate him. Don't let him melt you!

Baldwin claims that Travis's remark was unexpected, but according to Callum Borchers at WaPo, "Clay Travis used his ‘First Amendment and boobs’ line long before he shocked CNN." Travis was invited on Baldwin's show after he'd written:
I don’t believe Jemele Hill should be fired for tweeting Donald Trump was a white supremacist and for recently saying police officers are modern-day slave catchers. I also don’t believe Curt Schilling should have been fired for what he said about the North Carolina transgender bathroom law or any of the other conservative political positions he’s adopted over the years. That’s because I’m a First Amendment absolutist — the only two things I 100 percent believe in are the First Amendment and boobs — who is also capable of doing something that most in modern media seem incapable of — distinguishing between a person’s public job and their private political beliefs. (Which are also public thanks to modern-day social media.)
Borchers writes:
And that wasn't the first time. Travis wrote in June 2015 that “absolutism on either the right or the left is scary to me — which is why I’m a radical moderate — who believes in only two things absolutely: the First Amendment and boobs."

When Baldwin appeared stunned and disgusted by Travis's quip on Friday, he replied, “I say it live on the radio all the time.”

This is who Travis is. CNN ought to have known what it was getting.
All right then. I assume CNN did know. In which case, the whole hoo-ha is fake news. CNN got its viral clip circulating, and however many people now view Clay Travis as toxic, I'm sure he getting lots of new listeners for his podcast. Let me look for that page. Oh! Here's Travis discussing the incident (warning: big boobs):
So I just went on CNN to discuss the collapse of MSESPN and said I didn’t believe Jemele Hill or Curt Schilling should be fired because I believe completely in only two things that have never let me down — the first amendment and boobs. And when I said that CNN got totally and completely triggered. Seriously, this thing plays out like an SNL skit. The other guy sputters and goes straight into offended pearl clutching mode.
That has an update:
CNN is so offended by my comments that they already asked me to come back on Monday. And, for the record, I will be on Fox News tomorrow night.
In the end, it's all about ratings. That's what they really believe in. Forget all the I-can't-believe-you-said-that-in-this-day-and-age, if it makes us watch, they'll be saying it more. In the end, they'll give the people what we want. Demand in the marketplace of ideas overcomes censorship. And that thought shines a different light on the remark "I believe in the First Amendment and boobs" and transforms it into a proposition I heartily endorse.

ADDED: For reference, here's how CNN — the woman with a man in her earpiece — presents Brooke Baldwin:



IN THE COMMENTS: Quoting me — "Did you come on my show to play the clown or do 'boobs' — as you inelegantly put it — have something to do with your idea of why Curt Schilling got fired and Jamele Hill did not?" — rhhardin says "Boobs are her job so that domination isn't going to work."

I'd never noticed Baldwin until this boobs thing erupted, but now that I've watched the clip embedded above, I see the problem very clearly. Baldwin is disempowered and silenced. She cannot address the issue head on. She's too implicated.

She's got a man talking into her ear. The producer is prodding her to react, but how can she say the interesting, probing thing I'd like to hear? What does she really think about boobs in media? She can't talk about it.

So we get women on TV, and they're pushed to talk about women's issues, but they can't really do it. Their value is appropriated and drained. And the sexist view of women is amplified: She's put in skimpy clothes, sculpted with contouring makeup, and left with nothing to say about sexism except to get flustered and mad, as prompted by a male ventriloquist.

September 15, 2017

At the Mystery of IKEA Café...

P1150217

... you'd better get yourself together.

(And shop, if you like, through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"I believe in only 2 things completely: the First Amendment and boobs."



That's Clay Travis, a Fox Sports radio host, and CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, whose outrage unfolds slowly (with backup from former ESPN Senior Editor Keith Reed).

Travis did not just blurt that out. He seems as though he was absolutely prepared to say that and he repeats it, even as Baldwin carefully works her way to a slight simmer and ends the interview.

In the video, we join the conversation in progress. Reading here (at EW), I think they were talking about Jemele Hill (the ESPN reporter who tweeted that Trump and his supporters are “white supremacists”) and that Travis was on the show to opine that ESPN has become “leftist.”

"My heart is in pieces right now...my soul feels like it's ripping from my chest...this beautiful young man my son Jackson has to endure a constant barrage of derogatory comments and ignorance..."

"... like I've never witnessed. He is called ugly and freak and monster on a daily basis by his peers at school. He talks about suicide... he's not quite 8! He says he has no friends and everyone hates him. Kids throw rocks at him and push him shouting these horrific words... please please take a minute and imagine if this were your child. Take a minute to educate your children about special needs. Talk to them about compassion and love for our fellow man. His condition is called Treacher Collins...."

From the East Idaho News.

"These tiny street art installations..."

"... are easy to miss."

Animated genitalia in a Swedish anti-STDs ad.

I wasn't predisposed to like this, but it made me laugh and want to share it:

Anthony Weiner says he "crushed the aspirations" of Huma Abedin.

In a letter to the judge who will sentence him for transmitting obscene material to a 15-year-old girl: "My continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage."

From his lawyers: "He responded to the victim's request for sexually explicit messages not because she was a teenager but in spite of it.... He responded as a weak man, at the bottom of a self-destructive spiral, and with an addict's self-serving delusion that the communications were all just internet fantasy." Like he's the victim.

The link goes to The Chicago Tribune and is worth clicking to see the photo of Huma and Anthony in court (on Wednesday). She's in profile looking away from him. The expression on her face is somewhere between impassivity and anger. He's turned toward her, but his eyes seem to be aimed somewhere around the back of her head. The expression on his haggard, wrinkled face seems to be in the vicinity of self-pity and some kind of disgust other than self-disgust.

When he says he "crushed the aspirations of my wife," I can't help hypothesizing that he wanted to crush the aspirations of his wife. And while we're on the subject, did Bill Clinton want to crush the aspirations of his wife? Let's be on the lookout for the aspirations-crushing impulse in the husbands of ambitious wives.

"With Cassini running on empty and no gas station for about a billion miles, NASA decided to go out Thelma & Louise-style."

"But rather than careen into a canyon, the plucky probe took a final plunge into the object of its obsession. Just how obsessed? It's* 13-year mission  to explore the strange world of Saturn went on nearly a decade longer than planned. It completed 293 orbits of the planet, snapped 400,000 photos, collected 600 gigabytes of data, discovered at least seven new moons, descending into the famed rings and sent its Huygens lander to a successful 2005 touchdown on the surface of yet another moon, Titan...."

Writes NPR.

_____________________

* Oh, NPR, how far you've plunged. 

The Dean of Harvard Kennedy School tells you you're wrong if you think the title "Visiting Fellow" is an honorific.

It's not and never has been, according to the "Statement from Dean Elmendorf regarding the invitation to Chelsea Manning to be a Visiting Fellow."
In general across the School, we do not view the title of “Fellow” as conveying a special honor; rather, it is a way to describe some people who spend more than a few hours at the School.... We did not intend to honor her in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds, as we do not honor or endorse any Fellow.
But this strong assertion that "fellow" is not an honorific is not enough. People think it is, and though Elmendorf has told them they are wrong, he apparently can't insist that these wrongheaded people shape up and get it right. He bows to their wrongness:
But I see more clearly now that many people view a Visiting Fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations... Any determination should start with the presumption that more speech is better than less. In retrospect, though, I think my assessment of that balance for Chelsea Manning was wrong. Therefore, we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow—and the perceived honor that it implies to some people—while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum.
In nonacademic contexts, the word "fellow" distinctly refers to a man. Perhaps calling Chelsea Manning a "fellow" seemed discordant for gender-related reasons. I'm noticing it anyway and feel a bit offended that such a masculine word is used (or felt) as an honorific.

Anyway, in the academic context, the OED defines "fellow" as "an honorary title conferred by some universities and colleges upon distinguished graduates or other persons" but also "A holder of a certain type of fixed-term academic position or fellowship, which is typically stipendiary and held on condition of pursuing a specified branch of study." So I think Elmendorf's assertion is believable... or at least I think it would be believable if he'd refrained from withdrawing the title. Why cave in to people who are wrong?

Perhaps Chelsea Manning should not have been invited to speak with the students at all. But the decision there was that intellectual diversity and more speech are good and should be part of the university. If you really believe that, stand on principle, don't make it part of a compromise with something you think is false.