July 15, 2017

The NYT crossword has BALLS and DICK at the top of the puzzle grid today.

And Rex Parker is angry.
Did he have a bet with his friends as to how much sexual material and innuendo he could cram in here. ARSE and SEX and KNELT and BLEW (!) and, I don't know, MELON? Ugh. SO BAD. Actually, more SAD than bad...
All the boldfaced words there are in the puzzle. The BALLS and DICK in the top row are actually AMAZEBALLS and DICK. DICK is clued as "Veep between Al and Joe." (ARSE, by the way, is clued as "Seat in Parliament.")

Here's the NYT column about the puzzle. The puzzle's author, Zach Spitz, is 20 years old. He writes:
I made this puzzle last summer, after watching too much of the Republican National Convention. I don’t think I consciously tried to make a Trump-themed puzzle...
Trump themed! Not frat-boy-sex themed. Trump themed.
... but let’s just say that my seed answers were TAX EVASION up top and TWEET STORM down below. Given that, I’m especially pleased with the bottom right corner, which turned out very ... presidential. 25-Across!
25-Across is SAD.
I can only assume that the editors sensed the vibe, because they changed my original clues for 25- and 28-Across [ATROCIOUS] and made them both “Deplorable.”...

"If you spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety, that’s the kind of stress that brings on illness and remodels your brain."

"That’s also true of a political climate in which groups of people endlessly hurl hateful words at one another, and of rampant bullying in school or on social media. A culture of constant, casual brutality is toxic to the body, and we suffer for it. That’s why it’s reasonable, scientifically speaking, not to allow a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at your school. He is part of something noxious, a campaign of abuse.... On the other hand, when the political scientist Charles Murray argues that genetic factors help account for racial disparities in I.Q. scores, you might find his view to be repugnant and misguided, but it’s only offensive. it is offered as a scholarly hypothesis to be debated, not thrown like a grenade. There is a difference between permitting a culture of casual brutality and entertaining an opinion you strongly oppose.... [W]e should have open conversations and vigorous debate about controversial or offensive topics. But we must also halt speech that bullies and torments. From the perspective of our brain cells, the latter is literally a form of violence."

Writes psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of "How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain," in a NYT op-ed titled "When Is Speech Violence?"

No comments permitted on that piece for some reason. I'd like to see some responses from other experts on the brain.

I mean, isn't all our hearing, thinking, and remembering done with brain cells? It's freaky, if you think about it, the way everyone who speaks to you is doing something deep inside your most precious internal organ, at the cellular level, but it's just crazy — my brain cells are getting remodeled by this thought — to think that everyone who says something to you is having a physical impact on you, the equivalent of a touching, and that those who speak in a way that isn't nice enough are committing physical violence.

By the way, the NYT doesn't say this, but Lisa Feldman Barrett was (if Wikipedia is correct) born and educated in Canada, where free speech is less well valued and protected.

"A self-professed 'slow' mathematician, Mirzakhani’s colleagues describe her as ambitious, resolute and fearless in the face of problems others would not, or could not, tackle."

"She denied herself the easy path, choosing instead to tackle thornier issues. Her preferred method of working on a problem was to doodle on large sheets of white paper, scribbling formulas on the periphery of her drawings. Her young daughter described her mother at work as 'painting.' 'You have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math,' she told one reporter. In another interview, she said of her process: 'I don’t have any particular recipe [for developing new proofs] … It is like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out.'"

From the Stanford University press release, about the death — at the age of 40 — of Maryam Mirzakhani, the only woman ever to have won the Fields Medal.

(I chose the quote for the title in spite of its bad grammar error. I don't know why an important university, delivering profound and ponderous news, would not take great care to copy edit, but that's how it is.)

Vogue Magazine apologizes for saying "Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik are Part of a New Generation Embracing Gender Fluidity."

The Daily News reports.
"The story was intended to highlight the impact the gender-fluid, non-binary communities have had on fashion and culture," the statement read. "We are very sorry the story did not correctly reflect that spirit - we missed the mark. We do look forward to continuing the conversation with greater sensitivity."...

Throughout the article, Hadid and Malik are quoted engaging in light chit-chat about how they enjoy going through each other's closets and finding new pieces to wear, regardless of whether they were marketed to men or women.

"I like (your shirt)," Malik says to Hadid. "And if it's tight on me, so what? It doesn't matter if it was made for a girl."

"Totally. It's not about gender," Hadid responds. "It's about like, shapes. And what feels good on you that day. And anyway, it's fun to experiment."
So what exactly did Vogue do wrong here? It seems Hadid and Malik are not real gender-fluid people, but just a couple of kids wearing each other's clothes.  I'm not seeing the word "appropriation," but it seems like an appropriation problem. Gender fluidity must be understood as an inward condition, and your inside should match your outside or you are just playing with appearances.

Of course, Vogue is a fashion magazine, and fashion really is about the outside, but it's often the case that you speak about fashion as an expression of what you are inside. And yet fashion is not always about getting the inside to match the outside. Sometimes one dresses against one's inner feelings. Fashion magazines often rave about a very feminine woman in menswear tailoring or a tomboy-type suddenly getting up in a frou-frou dress.

Isn't it funny that the excitement about gender fluidity is manifesting itself in disciplining other people about keeping strict conformity between interior and exterior? You'd think fluidity would take us somewhere liberating, but it seems to bring new censoriousness and restriction.

But I do understand how irritating it is when fashion magazines pick up on some new social phenomenon, something you think has substance and depth, and turn it into a lightweight trend for the pretty people to have their shallow fun with.

Here's how my favorite fashion blog — Tom & Lorenzo — reacted to the cover story. Just a bunch of pictures (including Hadid and Malik standing in water wearing horrendous orange-brown corduroy suits). The top-rated comment over there — where the comments are excellent — is: "they are both HIGHLY ridiculous, but I love them. I'm iranian-american and it's nice to see these two -- both half middle-eastern, zayn open about his muslim faith -- being adorable and in love. and for real that track jacket portrait is hilarious."

Oh! The gender-fluidity police went after a Muslim! A crash in the crossroads of intersectionality.

At the Impudent Flower Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you like, including which flowers you like and dislike. Do you like those lilies? They're huge, by the way, and, right now, all over my favorite local garden, Allen Centennial Garden. I don't find them aesthetically pleasing, not in the garden anyway. They look like they belong in a flower shop or a church. And I loathe the colors, a combination that might be found in a poorly tended bathroom wastebasket.

And perhaps you need a bathroom wastebasket, crickets for your ice cream, an LED pumpkin, or a dufflebag that can stand up to getting hurled over a nontransparent wall. If so, consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

The most interesting observation in "Talking Donald Trump: A Sociolinguistic Study of Style, Metadiscourse, and Political Identity."

He doesn't tend to begin sentences with "well." (WaPo link.)
Trump started his sentences with “well” less frequently than other Republican contenders during the 2016 GOP primary debates, [said Jennifer Sclafani, an associate teaching professor in Georgetown University’s Department of Linguistics]....

“When we hear ‘well’ coming from other candidates, we’re more likely to perceive their responses as being dodgy,” she said. “And when we hear no ‘well’ from Donald Trump, we don’t notice that there is no ‘well’ there, but by contrast he comes off as sounding more straightforward and more direct.”

"The grasshoppers add a nice crunch and subtle spice to the sundae, which is boozy and delicious."

"It’s actually the perfect vehicle to try bugs for the first time, as the sugar rush and comforting nature of ice cream soften the blow."

Annoying thing about the linked article: Using the words "crickets" and "grasshoppers" interchangeably.

IN THE COMMENTS: tcrosse wrote:
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Cockroach” and “Cicada” and ingredients like grasshoppers, crickets and a locust baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

"Expansive, engaging, even at times ebullient...a loose, good-humored side of Mr. Trump" — described in the NYT today.

... in an article by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman title "Dropping the Bluster, Trump Revives Banter With Reporters."
It was a loose, good-humored side of Mr. Trump that the public rarely sees amid the fusillade of angry speeches and venomous tweets that have characterized the president’s first six months in the White House. And it came to light only because he retroactively put the session on the record, asking a reporter the next morning why she had not quoted his remarks....

In some ways, Mr. Trump has reversed the usual dichotomy between the public and private president.

“One of the great differences between Trump and more successful politicians, like J.F.K. and F.D.R., is that they would vent their spleen in private, but in public, they would project a more humorous and civilized face,” said Robert Dallek, a presidential historian....
He's getting some great press from the NYT here. But maybe it's a trick. Loosen him up, get him on record. He'll speak freely and... well, what? What will be worse than what he already says in rallies and on Twitter? I don't know, but this made me laugh:
For reporters who covered Mr. Trump before he became president, there was a familiar discursive rhythm to his remarks.... They ranged from quirky boasts... They revealed a man getting a crash course in the world... but one who still sees things through a real estate prism.... And they showed someone who recognizes that his observations occasionally edge into the surreal. “As crazy as that sounds,” Mr. Trump said, after explaining why the border wall with Mexico needed to be transparent: to prevent drug dealers from throwing 60-pound sacks of drugs over it and hitting unsuspecting Americans on their heads.
I read that and wanted to tell Meade why Trump thinks the wall needs to be transparent and I was laughing so hard I could not say the word "heads."

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd points to this CNN article from a few months ago: "Drug-slinging catapult seized on US-Mexico border."

Accident or staged publicity stunt? Does the artist benefit from this "selfie domino" that is said to destroy $200,000 of artwork?

There's video of the incident:



Very entertaining (if it's really an accident).

The NYT carries the story — of a show I don't think it would have covered otherwise — under the headline "Oops! A Gallery Selfie Gone Wrong Causes $200,000 in Damage." Which got my attention. Why was 1 row of that exhibit — which looks easily replicable — worth $200,000?

The video, which went up Thursday, "has racked up nearly 300,000 views," according to the NYT on Friday. Right now, it has over 2 million views, including mine, and I'm encouraging you to have yours.
It is possible this was staged. The video was uploaded by someone who claims to know [the artist Simon] Birch and its description ends with a plug: “The rest of The 14th Factory is one of its kind. .... Go visit before it closes end of July (or before a few more pieces break).”

But in an email, Mr. Birch said it was a true accident. Still, he said, he would not be putting signs up urging visitors to be careful. “We trust people.” Mr. Birch said. “Crowns are fragile things. They are symbols of power. Perhaps it’s ironic and meaningful that they fell.”
If it adds meaning for the plinths to topple and the crowns to break, that supports the theory that the incident was intended. Even if the artist didn't stage that particular woman's behavior, the whole place seems staged for something like that to happen, with video, the news stories, and the artist's quote about how meaningful it all is.

The selfie angle is extremely popular with new media, because what's this world coming to, what's wrong with these kids today?

The NYT has run 1,186 stories with the word "selfie" and 1,185 of them are post-2012. (The one outlier is a story about Chinese prisoners from 1971, and that's just a false positive. The word isn't really there. The OED has the word originating in Australia, first detected in an online forum in 2002: "Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie."

Museum selfies are a special newsworthy category. The NYT has 187 stories with the words "museum" and "selfie." I haven't counted how many of those are about problems caused by museum/gallery visitors taking selfie, but obviously it's something the NYT is following (thus making it predictable that selfie-caused damage to artwork will get publicity).

In the "Oops!... $200,000 in Damage" article, the NYT goes on to tell us of other incidents, beginning with this one:
Our Los Angeles woman is hardly alone in the annals of the selfie-clumsy. At the “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, a huge hit featuring immersive mirrors, part of the museum closed for three days after a patron shattered a glowing LED pumpkin in February.
I'm singling that one out, because it goes with a hilarious correction at the end of the article:
An earlier version of this article misstated the value of a glowing LED pumpkin that was shattered in February at the Hishhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington. The value was negligible; the pumpkin was not worth $800,000.
Ha! If the damned pumpkin was overvalued by a factor of — what? — 200,000, maybe the NYT should rethink that assertion of "$200,000 in Damage" in its headline. Compare it to my headline: "said to destroy...."

And, I mean, look at that video. The crowns don't break. (What are they made of?) The plinths can be set right again. What damage is there at all? Notice that the voices on the video don't seem the slightest bit upset at the incident. Why did the NYT pass along this patently spurious number as a fact rather than an assertion?

But I will give the NYT credit for not working Donald Trump into the story. The fragility of power, the meaningful falling. That had to be tempting.

July 14, 2017

At the Mendota Café...

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... you can talk all night.

(And remember The Althouse Amazon Portal if you've got some shopping to do.)

"Texas has always had a burlesque side to its politics."

"The columnist Molly Ivins made a national reputation as a humor writer by lampooning the people we elect to office. One of my favorites in this category was Mike Martin, a state representative from Longview. In 1981, someone shotgunned the trailer he lived in during his months in Austin. Martin was inside, and was slightly injured. He declared that the shooting was in reprisal for an investigation he was pursuing involving a satanic cult. Later, his cousin admitted that he had fired the weapon at Martin’s behest, ostensibly to gain Martin sympathy votes. (Martin was running for reëlection.) Martin fled Austin, but, as Ivins noted, the police 'tracked him to earth at his momma’s house, where he was found hiding in the stereo cabinet.' She added, 'He always did want to be the Speaker.'"

From "America’s Future Is Texas/With right-wing zealots taking over the legislature even as the state’s demographics shift leftward, Texas has become the nation’s bellwether," by Lawrence Wright (in The New Yorker). I'm just quoting a paragraph I found very interesting (even before I got to the spectacular punchline). The title and subtitle of the article are a far more accurate indication of what's in the big article.

"An in-depth analysis of the false allegations and misleading claims made against the 45th President since his inauguration."

At Snopes!
Broadly speaking, most of the falsehoods levelled against Trump fall into one or more of four categories, each of them drawing from and feeding into four public personas inhabited by the President. They are:

• Donald Trump: International Embarrassment
• Trump the Tyrant
• Donald Trump: Bully baby
• Trump the Buffoon.

Some of these claims are downright fake... But the rest... provide a fascinating insight into the tactics and preoccupations of the broad anti-Trump movement.... Generally speaking, we discovered that they are characterized and driven by four types of errors of thought:

• Alarmism
• A lack of historical context or awareness
• Cherry-picking of evidence (especially visual evidence)
• A failure to adhere to Occam’s Razor — the common-sense understanding that the simplest explanation for an event or behavior is the most likely.
Much detail at the link.

At the Greenhouse Café...

paonia co

... you can talk about anything you want.

(And here's where I encourage you to use The Althouse Amazon Portal when you do your shopping.)

Handwritten notes dispensed by an ATM machine "Please help. I’m stuck in here..."

It took a while before a note recipient took it seriously. Unsurprisingly, several ATM users regarded it as a joke and did nothing. But a man really was trapped inside (for hours). (NYT.)

It's like the ancient joke of getting a fortune cookie with the message "Help! I'm trapped in a fortune cookie factory."

Know Your Memes has a piece on "Help I'm Trapped in a Factory":
“Help I’m Trapped in a Factory” is a phrasal template used in satirical pleas for help claiming to be stuck inside a factory that produces the object containing the message.... The exact origin of the phrasal template is unknown.
I think it's the fortune cookie joke.
Since the mid 1950s, the bubble gum brand Bazooka Joe produced gum wrappers with messages written on the inside, some of which purportedly contained the message “Help! I’m trapped in a bubble gum factory!”
There's also this:
Explained here.

Consider Rightspeed, "a $2.99 app that accelerates podcasts in nearly unnoticeable 0.1x increments every two minutes."

"A one-hour podcast that begins at 2x, ends at 5x and takes 17 minutes."
A fourfold speedup sounds entirely sane to Max Deutsch, 24, who says he has speed-listened to 69 audiobooks this year. The faster the speed, he found, the more engaged he was. "That's when I asked myself: I wonder how fast I could actually listen?... It's sort of like the Roger Bannister, four-minute-mile effect.... Until you're told it's possible for a human to listen at this speed, you just decide you can't."...

It does feel sacrilegious, say several podcast listeners, to rush highly produced shows like "Serial" or "Radiolab." The sound, pacing and silence are crucial....
ADDED: I just bought Rightspeed. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts, but I find them too slow to just sit and listen to. Either I'm physically active — mostly walking — or — if I'm sitting — I play a very simple videogame at the same time. You might say, but if you're just sitting, why don't you read, and then you'd automatically go at the right speed? The answer is, I get tired of using my eyes. I read for hours in the morning and early afternoon. Obviously, playing a videogame uses the eyes (albeit in a different way from the reading). I'm interested in seeing if, by using this app, I could be satisfied to just sit and listen.

Another problem I have with audiobooks is that they are read slowly enough that I have time to wander around in my own thoughts. Sometimes I pause the book, but other times I just eventually realize I've been ignoring the book and listening to my own thoughts. If a book were fast enough, it might force me to track the book and not to have my own thoughts activated. That might be good, but it could be bad. Why am I listening if not to stimulate my own thinking? I'm not a student, uploading knowledge for career purposes.

But I'm mostly talking about audiobooks. Podcasts are a different matter. They are often ridiculously slow, because the person is — in the kind of podcast I like — thinking of the words to say in real time. It's nice to have that experience of sharing another person's thought process. But that tends to involve a lot of spaces, uhs, and repetition. But is speeding it up a good solution? Doesn't the humanity of the voice diminish?

AND: I can't get Rightspeed to work with my iPhone audio files. It tells me to connect the phone to my computer and to do everything through iTunes. I don't use iTunes to play my books. I use the Audible app. Why won't it just connect to that? Do I really need to download my books into my iTunes, etc. etc.? This was not intuitive and friendly. [BUT: I am taking the trouble to put the books I want to listen to this way in iTunes. I have a backlog of audiobooks that are too tedious to listen to in the normal way, so this is forcing me to find them in my Audible account, a somewhat worthwhile effort.]

Shirt tucking.

I see — from reading the NYT — that shirt tucking is in issue:

July 10, 2017: "Untuckit Strikes a Chord With Self-Explanatory Men’s Wear."
Untuckit, it seems, was an idea so ludicrously obvious that no high-paid marketing genius had bothered to think of it. And fashion insiders sneered when [Chris] Riccobono and [Aaron] Sanandres conceived the company in 2010.

“They said, ‘No, you can’t use that name, it’s not sophisticated,’” Mr. Riccobono said....

The guys who were tuning in, however, did not need to see the shirts... to get the concept. Before long, Untuckit was popping up in GQ....
July 12, 2017: "A ‘Dad’ Look Is Suddenly Stylish: The Tucked-In T-Shirt."
It has recently been a common style at runway shows staged by Gucci, Lemaire and Fendi. Demna Gvasalia’s most recent show for Balenciaga, built around the idea of bad taste and so-called “dad style,” also featured the look....

[Andrew Luecke, a co-author of the recent book “Cool: Style, Sound, and Subversion,"] noted that it is... in line with the ’90s nostalgia sweeping through fashion of late. Kurt Cobain and the guys on “Beverly Hills 90210” favored the look, and it was part of the uniform adopted by their 1950s precursors, like James Dean and Marlon Brando.

“It’s such an easy way to tweak your look,” he said. “It makes your outfit look cleaner. It can be a little formal, a little nerdy. You can take it in all sorts of directions.”
I like the way there are 2 trends, completely opposed and both premised on bad taste. The main difference is that the tucked-in look is working on the old idea that if you're cool, bad is good. The untucked look seems to be more about ordinary guys wanting to look and feel reasonably okay.

But it's the untucked look that is selling product. There's something specific to buy (a closer cut shirt with a just-long-enough tail). The tucked look is just something to do with an ordinary product you already have. Why would the fashion industry bother to do that — show you a way to update without buying anything? Maybe these people are just irked as hell by the money Messrs. Riccobono and Sanandres are making with their too-obvious product.

By the way, I did not remember Kurt Cobain for his tucked-in t-shirt. I remembered his huge, very bulky sweater. So I looked for some photographs and found this, which you might want to emulate, seeing as how there's ’90s nostalgia sweeping through fashion of late:



Marlon Brando photograph added for comparison purposes. Yeah, he looks a lot better, but tucking in your t-shirt, which one will you more closely resemble? Keep your objectivity is all I'm saying.

"Every professor I know assigns cases that vindicate the side she favors — then brutally dismantles their reasoning."

"In law schools we don't just teach our students to know the weaknesses in their own arguments. We demand that they imaginatively and sympathetically reconstruct the best argument on the other side. From the first day in class, students must defend an argument they don't believe or pretend to be a judge whose values they dislike. Every professor I know assigns cases that vindicate the side she favors — then brutally dismantles their reasoning. Lawyers learn to see the world as their opponents do, and nothing is more humbling than that. We teach students that even the grandest principles have limits. The day you really become a lawyer is the day you realize that the law doesn't — and shouldn't — match everything you believe. The litigation system is premised on the hope that truth will emerge if we ensure that everyone has a chance to have her say."

From a Time Magazine column by Yale Law School dean Heather Gerkin, observing and explaining why law schools have not experienced the kind of "ugly free-speech incidents" seen in some other havens of higher education.

I'd like to think all those assertions are true, but even if they are not, it's a great ideal, a great aspiration.

When you're a law professor, you're mainly in your own class. Who knows how brutally the other professors are dismantling the reasoning in the opinions that go in the direction they like and how imaginatively and sympathetically they are reconstructing the best arguments on the other side? I did have some students who thought it was acceptable to use class time to give the snarky answer "It's Scalia" when invited to detail the analysis in a Scalia opinion. Where did they learn how to talk like that? Maybe from the internet.

July 13, 2017

Trump and Macron — the press conference.



ALSO: Trump says "You're in such great shape" to Macron's wife, Brigitte:

Random flare-ups of Trump derangement syndrome.

Here's a story today in The Washington Post about a 57-year-old female tourist from New Zealand who got killed at a ridiculous tourist attraction on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten.

There's a beach next to a jet runway, where people hold onto a chain-link fence while jets revving for takeoff blow on them with great force. There are warning signs saying it's dangerous and potentially fatal, and this woman got blown off the fence and into a retaining wall.

Here's video from 2012 showing the incredibly stupid activity. Scroll to 0:32 to see a woman flung from the fence and into a wall in a manner that might be very similar to what happened to the woman from New Zealand:



Now, let's look at the comments. The "Most Liked" one is: "Was she wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat?"

Also: "Looks like something that Trump supporters would think is fun."

AND: Here's another comment (with up votes): "Let's tell Donnie Junior that there is someone with damaging information about Hillary on the beach in St. Maarten. He is too dumb to know that the election is over, so it just might work. Maybe he will bring along Kushner and Manafort."

That person gets pushback: "Your comment is as stupid as people who line up at this fence. You are sick. Be sure to address this with the therapist at your next session."

And the pushback gets pushback: "Don't be silly. It's not sickness, it's dark humour. But it is a humour born of sickness. Being sick of Crump and Cronies."

Speaking of virtual travel, I was scared just watching the video of these scariest bridges in the world.



(There was only one that I thought I would enjoy experiencing in person: The Vine Bridges of Iya Valley.)

"He's not welcome here. You're in working class Paris now. He'll be at the Élysée, at the Eiffel Tower, he's not going to come here."

Said a Parisian man, interviewed by NBC, blogged here. So I thought I'd take today's virtual walk beginning at the place where NBC said this man was standing, which was the Barbes-Rochechouart metro station.

The Black Ball:

black ball

Pussy's:

pussy's

Royal Food:

clichy

Trump and Macron will dine "at Le Jules Verne, the elite, blue-lobster-serving restaurant... something of a surprise, considering Mr. Trump’s fondness for ketchup-doused steak and cheeseburgers rather than gourmet foods."

Sniffs the NYT.

Let's look into the future and read Macron's diary entry:
Recently I took a United States President to dinner. Insensitively, I led him into a gourmet restaurant. Suddenly I saw his face freeze up as he was confronted with dishes like homard bleu and ingredients like tomate and olives noires. I quickly asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else and he anxiously nodded yes and we ate at McDonald's.
Thank you NYT for setting up the opportunity to find something to say about that paragraph so many people have already made fun of — that David Brooks thing:
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
As I said yesterday:
I've been meaning to write about that sandwich.

As Warren Zevon famously said: "Enjoy every sandwich."

The trick is to figure out how to enjoy it when a lot of other people have already written about it.

I need an angle.
So thanks, NYT. Thanks for the lob. Thanks for the lobster.

NBC: "Parisians Resigned to Hosting President Donald Trump in France for Bastille Day."

This is the way NBC covers the President's trip to France:
“America came to save Europe in World War I, so we owe them this,” said Jean-Pierre Tourne, a teacher who was waiting for his friend outside the Louxor cinema in the northern Paris neighborhood of Barbes-Rochechouart. “We don’t understand why the Americans elected him, but he’s the U.S. President now,” he added.
Don't worry. NBC doesn't understand either. By the way, we also came to save Europe in World War II, but who's counting? Let us know if you need us again. We're always ready to help, whether you understand us or not.
“I understand why as president he’s invited,” said [Louis Marcodini, a 19-year-old history student at University of the Sorbonne], who was sitting on the banks of Canal St. Martin in Paris’s hip 10th arrondissement. “Symbolically it’s important. We have to respect history. But as an individual, as a man, he is not wanted here. He is not in our hearts.”...

"He's not welcome here. You're in working class Paris now. He'll be at the Élysée, at the Eiffel Tower, he's not going to come here," said Yacine Mac, who was standing outside the Barbes-Rochechouart metro station, a predominately north-African neighborhood.
Well, Mr. Mac, you might be interested to know that in America, he's not welcome among the elite, and it's the working class places where he held the rallies and spoke to the people who bonded with him and made him President.

Can PETA sue on behalf of that monkey that took a selfie and might therefore own the copyright to the photograph that came from the camera David Slater set up?

You may be familiar with the monkey selfie copyright story. It's been around for years. But it's in the news today because the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in a case that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brought against Slater on behalf of the monkey. PETA claims to know the particular monkey, Naruto, and to be in a position to represent him. The judges noticed that the text of the copyright statute doesn't square up with the idea that a monkey could own a copyright:
“There is no way to acquire or hold money. There is no loss as to reputation. There is not even any allegation that the copyright could have somehow benefited Naruto,” said Judge N Randy Smith. “What financial benefits apply to him? There’s nothing.”

At one point, Judge Carlos Bea considered the question of how copyright passes to an author’s heirs. “In the world of Naruto, is there legitimacy and illegitimacy?” Bea asked. “Are Naruto’s offspring ‘children’, as defined by the statute?”
Meanwhile, Slater is said to be too poor to attend the hearing or to pay his lawyer or to afford the camera equipment he needs to carry on as a photographer. But Slater’s publisher has a lawyer. One of his arguments is that Naruto is the wrong monkey:
“I know for a fact that [the monkey in the photograph] is a female and it’s the wrong age,” he said. “I’m bewildered at the American court system. Surely it matters that the right monkey is suing me.”
It's sad if the loss of control of this popular photograph has derailed Slater's career. I understand feeling aggrieved, but he could have let it go and tried to leverage a career on all free publicity and interest in his work. But perhaps he couldn't. Without the copyright, what's the point in setting up more animal selfies, and what are the chances he'll get another miracle smile from an animal?

Understanding Goldstone.

On Tucker Carlson's show last night, Mark Steyn laughs and laughs at this Goldstone character at the center of the Don-Jr-gate story. Go over there and watch the clip of Steyn's sustained comic riff:



One approach to getting President Trump away from this problem is to portray it as too absurd to mean anything. And yet the Goldstone-is-a-clown defense will not work on anyone who's inside the mindset that the entire Donald Trump phenomenon is a giant clown show. In that view, the arrival of another clown makes it more of a clown show. That's the problem. It's a nightmare!

And The NYT has its effort to soberly process Mr. Goldstone. Excerpt:
He is currently on what he has termed a “gap year,” during which he is traveling around the world. So far, according to his Facebook page, Mr. Goldstone has made stops in Venice; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Montenegro, among other places, and posted images of himself with young men — “muppets,” as he calls them — in each one. The last item he posted on Facebook was a photo of a sign for the Bathhouse of the Winds in Athens on Sunday....
That article reveals that Goldstone — among many other things — wrote an essay that was published in The New York Times. Here it is, from 2010: "The Tricks and Trials of Traveling While Fat." Excerpt:
In China, traveling while fat turned farcical. I had been in Beijing less than 48 hours when I started to notice small children running up to me and touching my stomach before scurrying away in fits of laughter. Day and night they continued to approach me, poking and prodding at my belly.

On a walk through the Forbidden City, a local guide explained to me what was happening. “The kids think you are Buddha,” he said, “and they are rubbing your belly for good luck. You are Happy Buddha.”
Tip: Do not rub Rob Goldstone's belly for good luck. It doesn't work.

That doesn't mean you should attempt to pop that belly. You know what I'm talking about? Watch the man sitting between Trump and Goldstone:



ADDED: Does that excerpt from the NYT article have a homophobic whiff? I had to look up the Bathhouse of the Winds in Athens. It's a public bath dating back to the first period of Turkish rule (1453 – 1669). It "functioned as a bathhouse until 1956" and is now run by The Museum of Greek Folk Art as a tourist attraction. And I had to look up "muppet" in the Urban Dictionary. It means "A person who is ignorant and generally has no idea about anything."

"I heard everybody saying it needs to be cut, it needs to be cut. Why doesn't someone get a mower and cut it?"

Said 64-year-old Jordan Wenzel Sr., who has been fined $500 for mowing the lawn in Luther Parker Cemetery in Muskego, Wisconsin.
A sign outside the cemetery asks people not to mow. City officials want to keep the native wildflowers and prairie grasses on the graves like they would have been during the Civil War. The area is an official designated natural area and the municipality wants to keep it that way. But a Veterans group thinks the vegetation shows neglect. In April WISN 12 News reported on how The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is suing the city for not taking care of the graves.
Here's an article from back in April about the lawsuit:
Under Wisconsin law, veterans' graves must "receive proper and decent care" from cemetery owners. The lawsuit filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court Tuesday is seeking a declaratory judgment on whether the way Muskego is caring for the cemetery is proper and decent....
"We'd like them to clean it up and honor these veterans' graves. [Homer Clark and Jonathan W. Smiley] died in battle. Their bodies were embalmed and shipped back home and buried there and we believe this is a desecration of their graves," [said Bob Koenecke, [leader of the Wind Lake chapter of Sons of Union Veterans]....

Muskego has never mowed the grass at the cemetery since taking it over in the mid-1960s; the land is considered a natural area that features Big Bluestem Prairie Grass, Indiangrass, Culver's Root, White Wild Indigo and Shooting Star wildflowers, Muskego city forester Tom Zagar said. To move the plants to another green area in the city would not be the same because it's a remnant prairie and not reconstructed prairie....

"It's unfortunate that they couldn't understand the important context of the historic vegetation around them. To wear the uniform was a tribute, the guns were a tribute, (and) we felt the plants were a tribute," [Muskego city forester Tom] Zagar said.

Which of these statements is closest to how you feel about this problem?
 
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ADDED: The cemetery is smaller than you may be picturing. Here are 2 pictures of the site I made using Google Street View from 2 different points of view:



July 12, 2017

"Humor is now: the news."

Says comedy expert Scott Adams, explaining how humor changes every generation, how the humor of today is not any movie or comedian, but the news itself, and using the Don Jr. thing as a great example of his thesis.

"The most popular spots are 42nd Street, with its flashing signs, as well as 57th, 34th, 23rd and 14th Streets."

"There you will see people bobbing in and out of the crosswalk, hoping to snap the perfect sunset. Because you have to be in the middle of the street to see Manhattanhenge, remember that safety comes first." (NYT)

And it's not just Manhattan:
There’s also Chicagohenge, Bostonhenge, Phillyhenge, Torontothenge, and Montrealhenge, among others.

“If your streets are anywhere close to east or west, my default statement is you’re going to have a ‘henge,’” Shane Larson, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, told The New York Times last year. “You just need to find out when.”

"There are also small changes to be made: not adding salt to food, so one then needs less water..."

"... finding enjoyment in housework (which [he] finds 'never ceases to be novel'). The writer rubbishes curtains and doormats as extravagances. He praises the self-restraint of vegetarianism, but admits to longing for small pleasures such as tea and coffee ('Ah, how low I fall when I am tempted by them!'). To a modern reader, [it] reads like a combination of how-to-do minimalism and an inspirational poster. It is the ancestor of all the modern guides on how to live and eat and think purely – not by an author with a minder and a splashy book deal, but by a man hellbent on reminding everyone that 'money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.'... There has been a revival of interest in [his] ideas. A recent opinion article in the New York Times called the man the 'original declutterer,' connecting [him] to organising maven Marie Kondo’s prescriptions for culling belongings.... And, of course, corporate America has already adopted his philosophy, with construction companies offering stressed hipsters and city dwellers 'luxury' tiny homes.... Funnily, these primped-up cabins are not that far from [his] life back in 1845 – looks poor on the face of it, but not so much inside. With their folding tables for 10 and secret recesses for widescreen televisions, these cabins are made with the same imaginative flair [he] possessed, as he reimagined a bucolic suburban lot into wilderness, a two-mile walk from town as isolation...."

From "In Thoreau's footsteps: my journey to Walden for the bicentennial of the original de-clutterer" (in The Guardian).

Ah! I'm only just realizing that today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau. Click on my Thoreau tag for proof that I really have cared about him for a long time.

ADDED: I'm looking back into old posts in the "Thoreau" tag and noticed this one from 2005, on day 26 of a 35-day project I called "The Amsterdam Notebooks," which collected a set of drawings that I made in Amsterdam in 1993 (when I was traveling alone and had a fountain pen instead of a camera). The book I was reading was "Walden," and here are a couple pages I made in a museum:

Amsterdam Notebook

Enlarged: here and here.

The prayer for Donald Trump.

Canadian man killed by the whale he saved.

"They got the whale totally disentangled and then some kind of freak thing happened and the whale made a big flip.... This is something he loved and there's no better feeling than getting a whale untangled, and I know how good he was feeling after cutting that whale clear."

That's one for the (grossly overinflated) annals of Died Doing What He Loved. I say grossly overinflated for reasons you can easily see at that last link, which goes to a Google News search for that phrase. It includes, to give the most vivid example, a worker who died using a water-blaster to clean out the slag in a tank at a power plant.

The phrase also appears in a context you probably already know: "Pompeii Victim Apparently Died Doing What He Loved." It's grisly humor, and I was going to say that after 2000+ years, people retain no connection, no empathy, but millions of people experience genuine empathy contemplating the crucifixion of Jesus, and I remember when I first saw the casts of the victims at Pompeii and felt real empathy.

I took a moment to reflect among the remains of Pompeii. Here's a photograph from my mental journey:

pompeii 6

"After the entire movie had been inserted into the genome, the authors boiled the cells to extract the DNA and then sequenced the regions where they thought the encoded movie frames would be."

"After running the extracted sequences through a computer program, the team found they were able to play back their movie with 90% accuracy.... 'If there was a fitness cost [to the bacteria], you would imagine the information would be lost over time, but it doesn’t seem to cost the cell anything to have it'.... Encoding a short movie into cellular DNA is a neat trick, but Shipman said the work only represents a stepping stone toward his ultimate goal — building tiny biological recorders that can capture and store what is going on in a cell or in its environment. For example, Shipman is interested in learning what causes developing brain cells, which all look the same, to mature into one type of neuron or another. 'There are certain places we can’t go that a cell can go... The brain is locked away inside the skull, and these changes happen rapidly and all at the same time.'"

From "Who needs film when you can store a movie in bacteria DNA?" (in The L.A. Times).

Well, speaking of movies, this would be a good beginning for a science fiction movie. I like the idea of having the gung-ho scientist saying, "There are certain places we can’t go that a cell can go," and the more cautious scientist musing that There are certain places where we are not meant to go. That's all I've got so far, that and an idea for a name for one of the scientists, the female (who should be the gung-ho one): Edna.

"Sir Ivan said he never heard Goldstone say anything political, but 'it would surprise me if he was a strong Trump advocate."

"He reiterated that, 'I think he strictly did it for social purposes, and to do somebody a favor.' Goldstone ― who once posted a photo of himself wearing a gold hat emblazoned with the word 'CUNTY,' which he promised is 'very me' ― did seem to celebrate Trump’s victory in November. He posted hourly updates on state-by-state results to Facebook throughout the evening of Election Day, then posted a link to a 2013 music video in which Trump appeared with Emin Agalarov.... Shortly after Trump’s win, Goldstone ― who once said graffiti declaring 'pussy not war' represents 'My sentiments entirely !!!' ― posted a photo of himself in a 'Russia' T-shirt with the caption, 'hedging bets'...."

From "The Guy Who Set Up The Trump Jr.-Russia Meeting Is The Best New Character In ‘2017’/In April, Rob Goldstone declared himself 'in a serious relationship with Bread'" in HuffPo.

Why I live in the north.

One mile into my favorite 4 mile walk, I turned back. It was muggy and getting muggier, and I needed to use the next mile's worth of energy to get myself back home before walking became slogging. I checked my iPhone to see what the temperature was.

It was 70°.

At the Moscow Café...

moscow 2

... you can talk about whatever you want.

I'm not in Moscow, of course, just doing selections from Google Street View.

And here's where I encourage you to use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

One more:

red square 2

Scott Adams — on Tucker Carlson's show last night — makes the argument that the Russia story is good for Trump.



Adams loves to say what's counterintuitive to everybody else and to say it with a delightful combination of straight-faced confidence and distanced bemusement.

Meanwhile, Tucker excels at doing his Tucker Face while the other person is talking. That's often quite funny.

These 2 guys work well together, but maybe Fox News should give Scott Adams his own show. Here, take my poll:

Should Fox News give Scott Adams his own show?
 
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"A one trillion tonne iceberg... has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica."

"The calving occurred sometime between Monday 10th July and Wednesday 12th July 2017, when a 5,800 square km section of Larsen C finally broke away."
The iceberg... was already floating before it calved away so has no immediate impact on sea level....

Although the remaining ice shelf will continue naturally to regrow, Swansea researchers have previously shown that the new configuration is potentially less stable than it was prior to the rift...

The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict. It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters.

Is pain-avoidance a form of pleasure-seeking?

I'd like an answer (or any analysis — serious or otherwise).

Why doesn't The Washington Post fix this ludicrously ignorant headline?

"Texas teen was electrocuted by her cellphone while taking a bath, her family says."

The girl wasn't electrocuted by her cellphone, but by her cellphone charger, which was plugged in and found submerged in the bathtub where she died.

The story has been getting clicks around the web since at least yesterday, and this WaPo piece went up this morning. Reading the article, it's clear how the death occurred, so the headline is lame click-bait. (Don't click on it!)

A cheap defense of the headline is that it doesn't purport to be factual about the actual cause of death but about what the "family says." And, indeed, why write a whole story on the details here? The poor girl did something very foolish and should have known better, and her family, suddenly called upon to enact their suffering on the world stage, continue to display their low level of understanding of electricity:
Madison’s stepmother, Felisha Owens, told KRQE News 13 that the girl was only doing what she had done many times before — sitting in the bathtub, phone plugged in, “playing our games.”

“I did it, she did it,” Owens said through tears.

But the tragedy has made her realize the dangers.

“The bathroom is a place for showers and personal time and your phones don’t belong in the bathroom,” she told KRQE News 13. Electricity and water do not mix. All it takes is a drop.”
She may "realize the dangers" but she still doesn't understand the science, and her loss has not made her an authority on what we ought to be doing. There's nothing bad about having the phone in the bathroom, and it's possible that having the phone with you in the bathroom could save your life. People have medical emergencies in the bathroom all the time.

The Washington Post is going big on the Don Jr. story.

At the top of the website front page right now:



It's not a completely over-the-top get-Trump effort. Notice that last headline: "Trump Jr. could be in legal jeopardy, but analysts say more would be required for a criminal case."

Further down on the page, there's "This is the mother of all tipping points" and "This is no ‘rookie mistake.’ The Trump team shouldn’t even be on the field," but also "President says Donald Trump Jr. is ‘open, transparent and innocent’" and "Is Donald Trump Jr.’s ‘I love it’ email a smoking gun or a distraction?"

And there are still plenty of other stories making it onto the website's front page, including the one I personally find most interesting: "A Chinese umbrella-sharing start-up just lost nearly all of its 300,000 umbrellas." I also like "Three Americans who thwarted 2015 Paris train attack to play selves in Clint Eastwood movie."

Anyway, I wonder what scheming is going on behind the scenes at The Washington Post. I'm imagining that they are thinking This is it, we have him now. But how to play the hand? Over-eagerness could backfire, but if this thing is going to work, this is the moment, we must go all-in. And yet if we show that's what we are doing, it may put off some people whose support we need. We may look bloodthirsty and weird to them. How far, exactly, do we go? And what, exactly, do we want?

AND: On that last question — what, exactly, do we want? — I don't think it should be clear to a Trump-hater that the goal should be impeachment/resignation. Look at Mike Pence. He's ready to go, clean and untouched by these Trump troubles. Why give the Republicans a fresh start? I suspect that the goal is to immobilize Trump. Keep him, but freeze him. But how can we get by with an incapacitated President?

The charismatic leader of a ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect "was reportedly taking part in a purification ritual last Friday when he was swept away by an unusually strong river current."

The National Post reports in "Drowning of Lev Tahor leader raises fears over ultra-Orthodox sect's future/The strict rules [Shlomo] Helbrans imposed led Israelis to nickname the cult-like group the Jewish Taliban, because female members wear burka-like robes beginning at age three."
The group had been established on the outskirts of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, north of Montreal, for more than a decade before Quebec authorities began paying close attention. As they prepared to move in to protect children in the sect in late 2013, community members left en masse overnight for Chatham, Ont. Before the next summer, they had moved on to Guatemala....
The article quotes the University of Pennsylvania religion professor Marci Hamilton:
"To the extent that there are children who are either American or Canadian citizens, at this point the authorities could swoop in and take them. Everything they are doing to those children, at least from the reports we’ve had, violate international standards.... The concern was while (Helbrans) was in power that if the government got too close, he would turn them all against themselves and perhaps have a suicide pact or something horrendous.”

The founder of the Death Cafe dies suddenly, at the age of 44, from a brain hemorrhage caused by acute promyelocytic leukemia that had not been diagnosed.

Here is the NYT obituary for Jon Underwood.
From the basement of his house in Hackney, an artsy borough in London’s East End, Mr. Underwood perpetuated a movement that spread to more than a dozen countries with more than 1,000 gatherings....

These were not grief support groups or end-of-life planning sessions, but rather casual forums for people who wanted to bat around philosophical thoughts. What is death like? Why do we fear it? How do our views of death inform the way we live?...

“Some people have a fear that by talking about death, it will attract death and make it more likely to happen,” he said. “Eating and drinking are conscious acts of nurturing the body. They help mitigate the fear.”

July 11, 2017

"In retrospect I probably would have done things a little differently."

Donald Trump Jr. on Sean Hannity's show tonight.
"This [was] pre-Russia fever. This [was] pre-Russia mania," Trump Jr. told Fox News' Sean Hannity. "I don’t think my sirens went [off] or my antenna went up at this time because it wasn’t the issue that it’s been made out to be over the last nine months, ten months."

At the Red Square Café...

red square 5

... I've got another photograph, so you get another café. The photo is a selection from Google Street View. I'm not in Moscow, of course. But I'm thinking about Moscow.

And, one more time: The Althouse Amazon Portal. It's also a great place to visit virtually.

Slate must think the word "male" in this headline makes it not just okay but hilarious.



Oh, no! I'm wrong. I clicked through from the front page, above, and the article looks like this:



Wow. I'm surprised. It begins:
There’s a certain class of public figure whose face routinely gets described as “punchable.” He’s usually male; though arguably society shouldn’t be encouraging the punching of anyone (with possible exception for Nazis), good etiquette would seem to indicate that women are considered the less punchable sex. The guy with the punchable face is usually white; it’s hard out there for white men lately, in case you hadn’t heard. He’s usually young, too: What’s more annoying the know-it-all grin of impetuous youth? In addition to the privilege that being young, white, and male already affords him, he of high punchability often has a look that somehow scans as extra-privileged, a mouth seemingly born with a silver spoon in it....
Is this the way we're talking now? It seems so wrong, and yet I admit that in private speech, I do sometimes say "I just want to smack that guy." Smacking is less violent than punching, but it shows that I've got the hang of this metaphor.

Is Trump mentioned in this article? (The question occurs to me because I'm thinking about Trump retweeting that CNN wrestling video, which some people found funny and comprehensible as metaphor and some people deplored as encouraging violence against journalists (if only in the mind of the mentally deranged).) Donald Trump isn't mentioned in the article, but both of his sons — not just the much bloodied Don Jr. but the other one, Eric — are presented as most squarely within this concept of punchable, along with 5 other men: Martin Shkreli, Scott Disick, Ryan Lochte, Miles Teller, and Justin Bieber.
[O]bviously the Trump sons are beady-eyed paragons of smugness. There is a relationship, then, between punchability and self-knowledge. Misbehaving so badly when they have the advantages that they do is what tends to raise the public’s hackles. Can they all be so blithely unaware of the tiredness of the “bad boy” trope, or the many overgrown babies who have already trod this ground? And yet they continue to smirk.

Dershowitz weighs in.





"Obviously if anyone conspired in advance with another to commit a crime – such as hacking the DNC – that would be criminal. But merely seeking to obtain the work product of a prior hack would be no more criminal than a newspaper publishing the work product of thefts such as the Pentagon Papers and the material stolen by Snowden and Manning. Moreover, the emails sent to Trump Jr. say that the dirt peddled by Veselnitskaya came from 'official documents.' No mention is made of hacking or other illegal activities. So it is unlikely that attendance at the meeting violated any criminal statute."

But, Dershowitz goes on to say, even if there is no crime, we should still find out what, if any, sort of collusion took place. If it's not criminal, it's not within the Mueller investigation, Dershowitz reminds us. He thinks there should be a "public non-partisan commission investigation," that would not be done in secret (like a grand jury), but in front of the people, giving us the chance to make our own moral and political judgments about it.

In the Moscow marketplace.

moscow mall

Version 2

2 selections from Google Street View. I'm exploring Moscow because Russia is much in the news today. Here at Meadhouse, we were watching CNN and MSNBC — so many happy, even exultant faces. It was a veritable feast, TREASON! was on the menu, and the hosts were encouraging the guests to go ahead and order that most expensive item. The salivation was audible.

Power Line: "For now, all we can say is that the emails confirm Donald Trump, Jr.’s account..."

"... and support the conclusion that once again, the New York Times and the Washington Post have made fools of themselves by trying to fashion an anti-Trump news story out of entirely innocent materials."

At the Moscow Mess Café...

moscow mess

... you can talk about things that don't already have posts this morning. The Don Jr. email issue already has 2 posts, so please go to one of those to talk about that. But I did choose Moscow as the place formy Google Street View grab. I needed a picture to amuse you and mark the location of a "café." I like photos of things that are kind of messed up, even though I like things to be clean and orderly in real life. But real life isn't like that, so it's best not to nurture too much of a fetish about simplicity and neatness.

Anyway, I have to remind you that it's a "Prime Day" at Amazon, so it's an especially good time to use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"That must mean that Don Jr. has the email, and he ought to be able to produce the text."

"The NYT knew that when it wrote about what the email 'indicates.' So I'd like to see Don Jr. produce the text. That would answer all these questions."

I said earlier this morning. And here we go:


And here's the 4th page, which really is where to begin to read chronologically (click to enlarge):


ADDED: Here's the NYT article on this. The email (from Goldstone) says:
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father
The Times explains that confusing title, "Crown prosecutor":
There is no such title as crown prosecutor in Russia — the Crown Prosecution Service is a British term — but the equivalent in Russia is the prosecutor general of Russia.
Later, Goldstone writes:
Don Hope all is well Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and The Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow for this Thursday. I believe you are aware of this meeting — and so wondered if 3pm or later on Thursday works for you?
AND: Most damaging is this line from Goldstone: "This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump." To which Don Jr. responded: "If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer."

This is the smoking gun of collusion, right?



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ADDED: Poll results:

Can Trump succeed where Obama failed?



ADDED: "The International Olympic Committee has voted in favour of naming hosts for successive Games on 13 September with just Paris and Los Angeles bidding. The IOC - which oversees the Olympic movement - wants the cities to reach an agreement on who hosts in 2028 by then."

"A roofer escaped a burning building in the city of Irmabyen, in Rødovre, Denmark on July 6 by holding onto the lifting hook of a crane..."

"The men were the worst, in flip flops, unsightly shorts or ill-fitting jeans, and untucked shirts (usually hanging over big bellies)."

"I couldn’t believe I had to spend the evening staring at their hairy, ugly feet. Some of the women tried harder, but only a little. Most of them looked about as decent as they would for a trip to the grocery store.... I realize we’re in Wisconsin, which is not exactly the glamour capital of the world. But Madison has pretensions of being a cosmopolitan city. And we actually could be one, given our political, intellectual, and economic firepower. So why do we have such little interest in looking the part?"

A letter to the advice column at Isthmus (the Madison alternative newspaper). The answer is to defend the down-dressing Madisonians as "natural and unpretentious"? Dressing for comfort counts as "natural." The question-asker warned about "judging":
We don’t judge you for dressing to impress, even though we’d be within our rights to consider it vain and conformist. So why judge us for refusing to be cowed by an event’s self-proclaimed formality? You’re in Madison now, where it’s live-and-let-live. If you don’t see the sense in that humane outlook, you probably moved to the wrong place.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged" — that's what Jesus said. "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

Why beholdest thou the flip flop on they brother's hairy foot, but considerest not the Jimmy Choo that is on thine own foot?

"Besides being a great ball-fitter, he’s just a great person. He’s a legend in the local bowling community."

From "Milwaukee legend John Megna passing on art, 'feel' of fitting bowling balls" (in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
Megna drilled rubber balls back in the day and adapted to plastic, urethane and resin as ball technology advanced. He’s seen many other changes in the bowling industry....

“I think the industry has changed to more of a party atmosphere, which I don’t like,” he said. “I mean, we need that party atmosphere, but some of the centers have gone to open bowling only, no leagues. I didn’t grow up in that kind of environment, and I hate to see the serious league bowler vanish. The internet is killing pro shops... People buy shoes and bags online for less than I can buy them. Fitting is the only benefit we have, but if we don’t sell enough product pretty soon there won’t be any pro shops. Then what are people going to do?”

"That trail is so intimate. You’re almost touching people if not hugging them because you haven’t seen them in ages. I look at the trail with so much gratitude."

"I’ll be sort of sorry to see the bridge go back up. We’re all hiking that trail all the time, but next year how many will still do it?"

From "'Every crisis has a silver lining': why Big Sur's isolation is making people fitter/Winter storms battered this stretch of coastal California, blocking the sole road – but residents forced to leave their cars at home have been feeling the benefit" (in The Guardian).

"The village’s 'sleeping pods,' which look like little cabins, have no heat, air conditioning, plumbing or wired electricity..."

"... but they do have lockable doors and solar panels to power a cellphone. Modular containers serve as shared kitchens and bathrooms. Trucks pass in front of a locked 6-foot fence, and the howls of cars at a nearby racetrack alternate with horns blasting from passing freight trains."

From "In Portland, a fitful start to a new way to help the homeless: A village of tiny houses" in the L.A. Times.
Federal and state cuts to social services and affordable housing programs, combined with Portland’s growing homeless population — up 9.9% since 2015 — have spurred officials to look more closely at the village model....

The pods afford autonomy and privacy for less money than a traditional shelter, advocates say. “If you don’t like somebody, you can go in your own pod,” Ramirez said. “It is very democratic,” she said. “You get into your routines, you get to know each other and their boundaries. All in all, I think it is a very positive thing for me.”

"Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information."

How excited am I supposed to be about this? There's a man named Rob Goldstone. He's "a publicist and former British tabloid reporter," and he sent an email to Donald Trump Jr., "according to three people with knowledge of the email."

We don't get a text of the email, but 3 people knowledge of an email. How does the NYT know they have knowledge? Instead of a quote from the email, we're only told what it "indicates." I'm supposed to accept an inference about the text that I can't see, an inference presented by the NYT, which I have seen trying to keep the Russia-did-it story alive.  

How does the email "indicate[] that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information"? Vaguely, explicitly, in a manner that a reader can only understand with additional information?

Are we deprived of the text of the email because the NYT doesn't have the text? I have to guess that it does not. If not, is it because the "three people" were themselves paraphrasing and making representation about what the text "indicates"? Since the NYT (and presumably the "three people") are — I think — motivated to destroy Trump, I don't trust their paraphrasings. The word "indicates" seems chosen to insulate the NYT from accusations of distortion or exaggeration if the text materializes.

But I assume there is an email that Don Jr. got from Goldstone, because Don Jr's lawyer, Alan Futerfas, said "Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia."

If I read the linked article correctly, Futerfas said Don Jr. got the email trying to set up a meeting about HC's dealings with Russia, and then the NYT came up with the 3 people with knowledge of an indication that Goldstone's email notified Don Jr. that the info about HC came from the Russian government and even — to quote the first paragraph at the NYT — "was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy."

That must mean that Don Jr. has the email, and he ought to be able to produce the text. The NYT knew that when it wrote about what the email "indicates." So I'd like to see Don Jr. produce the text. That would answer all these questions.

ADDED: The bottom half of the NYT article gets the story from Goldstone, who says that Emin Agalarov (a Russian pop star and son of a man who worked with Don Jr's father to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Russia) asked him to set up a meeting between Don Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya. Veselnitskaya was said to have "information about illegal campaign contributions to the D.N.C." according to Goldstone, who says he "never, never ever" knew Veselnitskaya had any connection to the Russian government.

Goldstone said Veselnitskaya only had “just a vague, generic statement about the campaign’s funding and how people, including Russian people, living all over the world donate when they shouldn’t donate... It was the most inane nonsense I’ve ever heard... And I was actually feeling agitated by it. Had I, you know, actually taken up what is a huge amount of their busy time with this nonsense?”

I don't know if Goldstone accurately portrays what Veselnitskaya said, but I'm wondering how that story connects to the central question of the extent to which the Russian government was actually involved in the American election. If Veselnitskaya were acting for the Russian government and the Russian government were really trying to swing the election to Trump, why didn't she have something substantial to deliver?

AND: Veselnitskaya speaks: "I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that."

UPDATE: A new piece at the NYT offers some of the actual text:
The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

July 10, 2017

At the Rose Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal. There are a lot of "Prime Day" deals there right now.)

"Liberal Democrat prudes really are special. Here's a photo of [a] bumper sticker that nicely *celebrates* the special prudery of our own beloved Madtown."

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That's Meade in the comments to the post where I said that a snortable product — in this case, cocoa — "brings out the prudes, anything that suggests that a drug-related mentality will accompany the use of the product. It's really a desire to regulate thoughts. Don't even think of getting high."