June 18, 2019

Angela Merkel shakes disturbingly during the German national anthem.

You see her here standing next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a hot day in Berlin:

Afterwards, she said "Since then I have drunk at least three glasses of water – I obviously needed that and so I'm doing very well now."

The Mayo Clinic website does not list shaking as a symptom of dehydration.

About that German national anthem (from Wikipedia):
The song is also well known by the beginning and refrain of the first stanza, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles"... but this has never been its title. The line "Germany, Germany above all" originally meant that the most important goal of 19th-century German liberal revolutionaries should be a unified Germany which would overcome loyalties to the local kingdoms, principalities, duchies and palatines (Kleinstaaterei) of then-fragmented Germany.

The melody of the "Deutschlandlied" was written by Joseph Haydn in 1797 to provide music to the poem "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (English: "God save Franz the Emperor") by Lorenz Leopold Haschka... Haydn's work is sometimes called the "Emperor's Hymn". It is often used as the musical basis for the hymnal "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken".
Losing physical control during the German national anthem got me thinking about the last scene in "Dr. Strangelove."

That said, I hope Angela is doing fine, I think Haydn wrote a beautiful song, and I have participated in the singing of "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" many times.

"Tony Robbins punishes followers who fail at his self-help tasks by calling them onstage in front of large crowds and making them drink an unidentified mixture 'designed to have a lasting effect for several hours.'"

"Video and internal documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal that Robbins places 'L' stickers on audience members’ foreheads and then, while the song 'Loser' by Beck plays over the speakers, forces them to down a 'gross shot' whose contents he does not disclose to them.... Robbins’ lawyers denied that the “gross shot” contained laxatives –– only 'pickle juice, apple juice, lemon juice, tomato juice and a dash of tabasco'..."

Buzzfeed reports.

"The question of impeachment hasn't just been employed as effective hospice care, it's become a major talking point among House Democrats..."

"'I shouldn't be judged based on what said when I was 16,' says the 18 year-old applying to colleges that entirely base their decisions on high school resumes."

That's the top-rated comment on "Racist Comments Cost Conservative Parkland Student a Place at Harvard" (NYT).

From the article:
Of the many student activists who emerged from the tragic shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Kyle Kashuv stood out as a conservative defender of the Second Amendment, surrounded by classmates who were mobilizing for sweeping new controls on guns....
“While I support a conservative viewpoint on the Second Amendment, I know that finding common ground is the path to protecting our students,” he wrote [in his college application essay. “I still believe that from the pits of despair, goodness can and will prevail.”...

On Monday, Mr. Kashuv revealed on Twitter that the university this month rescinded its admission offer over a trail of derogatory and racist screeds that it turns out Mr. Kashuv, 18, wrote as a 16-year-old student, months before the shooting that would turn his high school into one of the most famous in the country.
A trail of derogatory and racist screeds.

"'I will find your a** and cut you!'/OJ Simpson is accused of sending threatening messages to parody account @KillerOJSimpson on Twitter after urging operator to delete it."

A Daily Mail article about this:

A true threat? The parody OJ guy does repeatedly indicate that he finds it funny. He also says he only has about 300 followers, and he's got more than 2,500 now. That is, OJ (assuming that's really OJ) is boosting the visibility of the parody account he's trying to get rid of. Another variation on the Streisand effect.

The Twitter account (used in the messaging) is the account that has been in the news and which has video of OJ talking about how he's going to use Twitter:

He's trying to seem super-cheerful, but nearly everything he says cuts two ways. Cuts. He wants to hold other people accountable...

"They put a gun in my daughter's face, and you're asking me about drawers?... My family has been through enough. You see in the video the fear. The sounds of my daughters crying, and you're asking me about some drawers? That's insensitive, that's insulting... I thought we were all going to be executed. By the grace of God, someone was there to video this."

Said Dravon Ames, quoted in "Phoenix PD releases surveillance video showing moment four-year-old girl stole a doll and her father shoplifted underwear from Family Dollar store before family was held at gunpoint by cops... Family is now suing the city for $10million and Jay Z is paying their legal bills" (Daily Mail).

This connects to the Oberlin story we were discussing 2 days ago, when I blogged that I understood the argument that the accusation of racism did not depend entirely on the question whether the suspected shoplifters were guilty. I wrote:
The store clerk seems to have suspected shoplifting not because of the person's race but because he could see 2 wine bottles hidden under his coat, but he "chased the student out onto the street and tackled him," and that's what's racist (in this view). If the chase-and-detain approach is racist, even when the shopkeeper is right about the theft, then it's not false to accuse the shopkeeper of racism.
There's a very long comments thread at that post, and while I haven't read it all, I know many of you resisted what I was saying. I encourage you to continue the conversation here, where the police went wild confronting shoplifters.

ADDED: If I weren't taking this legal issue so seriously, I would be sorely tempted to say now we can replace the question mark in the famous "South Park" mystery....
Phase 1: Collect underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit
Phase 2 is bring a $10 million lawsuit.

June 17, 2019

At the Monday Night Café...

... you can talk all you want.

Anderson Cooper pays tribute to his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who has died at the age of 95.

"White students in New York City are 10 times as likely as Asian students to have a 504 designation that allows extra time on the specialized high school entrance exams."

"White students are also twice as likely as their black and Hispanic peers to have the designation. Students in poverty are much less likely to have a 504 for extra time.... Students with 504s make up a small percentage of all students who took the specialized school exam with more time. Most students granted extra time are served under laws for students with severe disabilities. Using extra time, students with 504s — and therefore less severe disabilities — performed better than the median test-taker, while students with more severe disabilities performed worse. It sometimes falls to families to request 504s, which are typically granted after an often expensive consultation with a professional.... As the number of students using 504s has ballooned nationally over the last decade, experts have questioned whether the practice has become another way for parents to game standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT."

From "Some Students Get Extra Time for New York’s Elite/High School Entrance Exam. 42% Are White" (NYT).

"The key to dealing with the Islamic Republic is to appreciate that it is an exhausted regime, perhaps well on its way to extinction."

"A vulnerable, resentful enemy is a dangerous one. The U.S. should shore up its military might in the region and harden defenses around bases and diplomatic compounds. But the regime's essential weakness means it can't muster sufficient strength for a prolonged conflict with a determined superpower. The mullahs' clenched fists, slogans of martyrdom, and staged demonstrations shouldn't be confused with real power. The Trump administration's strategy of maximum pressure shouldn't be diluted as the two sides edge closer to the negotiating table. Despite the criticisms from Democrats and Europeans, Mr. Trump's Iran policy has had considerable success. He abrogated a deficient agreement that was smoothing Iran's path to a nuclear weapon. He restored sanctions, which many Iran-deal partisans insisted couldn't be done effectively. The economic pain Tehran feels today is as great as when the Europeans implemented their oil embargo in 2012. Iran's oil exports have contracted rapidly, denying the regime billions of dollars in hard currency. The key challenge for the Trump administration now is to sustain its strategy as the Iranians start dangling the possibility of a diplomatic opening."

From "America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran" by Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh (Wall Street Journal).

"I’m sad to report that three or four decades ago, many gay-assertive people (myself included) looked at some of those who identified as bisexual with suspicion..."

"... if not scorn. It wasn’t because we didn’t believe that many were telling the truth about their experience. It was because so many people that I, for one, knew actually identified as gay had been exploiting the 'bi' term as a sexual caveat to avoid the risks of coming out completely. Or, at the very least, they were taking the term on loan as a baby step in that direction.... When celebrities whom everyone knew to be gay—but who hadn’t affirmed it in the media—were asked about such things, they tended to deliver exactly the kinds of statements we hear from some LGBTQ people today. They’d say, 'I don’t want to be labeled,' or 'I’m just sexual,' or 'I’m open.' Today, those descriptions signal broad-mindedness. Back then, they felt like a betrayal, a hedging that pushed the movement back a step, making those of us who had come out feel more isolated and vulnerable at a time when being out had far greater consequence.... If nearly any progressively minded person can find some way to identify as queer, what, exactly, does the term even mean? When I hear about fluidity in that context, it sounds like something made to wash away gay history—my history—drowning it in inclusiveness to broaden its clout."

From "Categorically Gay/For queer people who grew up in an era when rigid identities were essential, today’s fluidity can feel like their history is washing out with the tide" by Jim Farber (in Slate).

Drowning it in inclusiveness to broaden its clout — an interesting phrase. The metaphor is a little overambitious. You've got the water of "fluidity" and it's "washing away" and "drowning," but it's also designed to have "clout." A "clout" is something done with a fist or a hard object. "Fluidity" doesn't deliver "clout."

I'm just talking about whether the metaphor is good, not saying I can't puzzle out the meaning. Bear with me a little longer.

In the phrase, what's getting washed away and drowned is gay history, but the clout has a different target. The clout is to — what? — all the forces of heteronormativity (or something like that). There's too much going on there.

But I can see what he means. Broadening is weakening. Inclusiveness is diluting.