April 26, 2017

"Life Accordion To Trump #2."

"The rock band is composed of electromechanical instruments that make music with rocks by throwing them through the air, slapping them and making them vibrate."

"The song that they're playing, Here Comes the Sun, is biographical, describing the daily experience of a rock sitting on the ground."

Rock Band from Neil Mendoza on Vimeo.

"The rock band is made up of the following members..."
Pinger - fires small rocks at aluminium keys using solenoids.
Spinner - launches magnetic rocks, Hematite, at pieces of marble. Rocks are launched by spinning magnets using Applied Motion applied-motion.com stepper motors.
Slapper - slaps rocks with fake leather.
Buzzer - vibrates the plunger of a solenoid against a piece of marble.

"On the drive back, she said it would be very easy for her to convert someone to Catholicism. 'It has great appeal,' she said."

"'Not for me, of course, but I can see the appeal.' A few years after she discovered the Ghost Ranch and built her house there, the ranch (not including her property) was sold to the Presbyterian Church, which used it as a conference center. 'I gave the Presbyterians a wide berth,' she told us. 'You know about the Indian eye that passes over you without lingering, as though you didn’t exist? That was the way I looked at the Presbyterians, so they wouldn’t become too friendly.'"

She = Georgia O'Keeffe. I = Calvin Tomkins, who's writing today about an encounter that occurred in 1962.

"The Indian eye" — I don't remember seeing that before, but maybe I did and passed over it, as though it didn't exist. But it seems politically incorrect, no? Isn't it unkind to pin that on Georgia, after all these years?

I idly google "Was Georgia O'Keeffe racist?" and I get to a passage in a biography I read a long time ago (by Roxana Robinson). The word "racism" appears in the context of her comparison of sexism to racism: "I think it's pretty funny that women have always been treated like Negroes in this country and they don't even know it." That was said in the 1970s, when feminists took to idolizing her. I enjoyed this paragraph on the next page:

"A white cloth napkin, now displayed in the National Museum of American History, helped change the course of modern economics."

"On it, the economist Arthur Laffer in 1974 sketched a curve meant to illustrate his theory that cutting taxes would spur enough economic growth to generate new tax revenue. More than 40 years after those scribblings, President Trump is reviving the so-called Laffer curve as he announces the broad outlines of a tax overhaul on Wednesday. What the first President George Bush once called 'voodoo economics' is back, as Mr. Trump’s advisers argue that deep cuts in corporate taxes will ultimately pay for themselves with an explosion of new business and job creation. The exact contours of the plan remained murky and Mr. Trump will not produce a fully realized proposal on Wednesday. But what the president has called a tax reform plan is looking more like a tax cut plan, showering taxpayers with rate reductions without offsetting the full cost by closing loopholes or raising taxes elsewhere. In the short run, such a plan would add many billions of dollars to the national deficit. Mr. Trump contends that it will be worth it in the long run. 'The tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth,' Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary and main architect of the plan, told reporters this week."

From "Arthur Laffer’s Theory on Tax Cuts Comes to Life Once More," by Peter Baker (in the NYT).

Here's the famous napkin:

From the museum website:
Displeased with President Gerald Ford’s decision to raise taxes to control inflation, four men got together at a Washington, DC restaurant to think about alternatives. Laffer was joined by journalist Jude Wanniski and politicians Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld. Laffer argued that lowering taxes would increase economic activity. Wanniski popularized the theory, and politicians Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney carried it out.
And by "it" the museum means the theory. The "it" that is the napkin was carried out by Jude Wanniski.

By the way, who draws on a cloth napkin?

"This was an utterly mad politically correct idea written by extremists at a university already extreme in this direction."

"Among its targets were students who took practical courses like economics and pre-med and tried to use college to get a job. It was going to begin with a year-long common course that laid down the correct propaganda line. Thank God the majority of the faculty has not lost its mind.

A comment on "Years of Work, Tabled/Collapse of undergraduate curricular reform at Duke illustrates the difficulty of building consensus on just what students need to learn" (at Inside Higher Ed).

The name of the commenter matches the name of a Duke professor.

Does it matter that French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has a wife who's 25 years older than him...

... and whom he fell in love with when she was his drama teacher and he was 15?

Here's the mockery in The Daily Mail, by Jan Moir:
How can I get the world to take me seriously if they think I am a mummy’s boy with a wife who is 25 years older than him?...

‘Bibi’, as I call her, was 40 and married with three children when we met. It was complicated, but I knew I had to be with her. Mama and Papa sent me away to Paris to stop the romance, but I wooed her from afar....

Now.... a website has suggested I am secretly gay and live a double life. What? I got so upset, Brigitte had to calm me down with a Babybel and a carton of juice. This wild allegation is impossible!...
You get the level of the humor over there. Anyway, it's a question of judgment, is it not? Does the relationship say anything about the man's fitness to serve as President? I know people will compare it to a man marrying a much younger woman. For example, Melania is 23 years younger than Donald Trump. But Trump didn't meet Melania when he was 38 and she was 15, and he wasn't her high school teacher. It's the short-circuiting of young life that is so disturbing. A 15 year old deserves a chance to develop, not to be snatched up by a much older adult who finds him cute and an easy mark because of his inexperience, his admiration for the person in the teacher position, and (perhaps) some sort of struggle over sexual orientation.

So here's Zoe Williams at The Guardian, pushing back against The Daily Mail:
[I]f Madame Macron were a male drama teacher, leaving his marriage for a student whom he met when she was 15, then, even if they waited until she (the hypothetical student) were 18, as the Macrons did in real life, the feminist would still have a thing or two to say. The double whammy of her being so much older, and in a position of authority, sets the relationship off on an imbalance. The common sense, middle-of-the-road, Delia Smith-style feminist would say, well, after two decades together, we can probably be satisfied that their feelings are authentic, and not the result of some authority fetish on one side, and a controlling nature on the other. But the more hardcore, absolutist, Nigella-style feminist would nope the whole thing, on the basis that a relationship conceived on an unequal footing can never find its balance.

In order to overlook all of that, because the gender roles are reversed, you would have to consider it impossible for a woman to exert power over a man, regardless of her age and position. ...

I’m going to go with: “The heart wants what it wants.” These are dizzy times and we all have fascists to fight.
The Guardian writer uses the old Woody Allen quote. I would have thought you'd only use that if you wanted to criticize what the older person did. And yet I see there's a 2014 pop song with that title, so perhaps the line has different meaning to Zoe Williams.

Anyway, Williams misses the main point, which isn't what we think of the marriage, but what we think of Macron's judgment. He's offering to run a country. His private life only matters as evidence of whether he'd made a good President.

ADDED: I guess that last line — "we all have fascists to fight" — can be taken to mean that nothing about Macron matters. The opponent is Le Pen, and she must be defeated, so brush aside any concern about Macron. Too late for any of that. We're down to the final two. That kind of thinking is so reminiscent of how many Americans experienced the 2016 election. We know how that turned out.

"The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly."

"If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other."

Said Pope Francis, in his TED TALK.

April 25, 2017

"Judge Blocks Trump Effort to Withhold Money From Sanctuary Cities."

The NYT reports.
The judge, William H. Orrick of United States District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the administration, directing it to stop trying to cut off aid to sanctuary jurisdictions. But the order does not prevent the federal government from moving forward on designating certain places as “sanctuaries,” nor does it keep the administration from enforcing conditions for doling out federal money if they already exist, as the Justice Department has already begun to do with some law enforcement grants.

At the Yellow Tulip Café...


... now it's your turn to think of topics (and to shop, if you're so inclined, through The Althouse Amazon Portal).

"He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it."

"When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor."

"The human brain... is a time machine that allows us to mentally travel backward and forward, to plan for the future and agonizingly regret that past like no other animal."

"And... our brains are time machines like clocks are time machines: constantly tracking the passage of time, whether it’s circadian rhythms that tell us when to go to sleep, or microsecond calculations that allow us to the hear the difference between 'They gave her cat-food' and 'They gave her cat food.'"

Justice Breyer's cellphone rang during oral argument today.

SCOTUSblog reports the news and refers to the sound as a "lively chime."
Justices Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan chuckle. Breyer looks to Chief Justice John Roberts with an apologetic expression before sharing a laugh with Justice Clarence Thomas. Some of my colleagues think they see Breyer handing the phone to one of the court aides who sit behind the justices....

I would like to be able to say that after the argument, reporters retired to the press room and began discussing the finer points of personal jurisdiction. But all we can really talk about for several minutes is Justice Breyer’s cellphone....

"I appeal to the men and women, to the boys and girls of Tralee, to dissociate themselves from this attempt to besmirch the name of our town for the sake of filthy gain."

"I ask the people to ignore the presence of this woman and her associates. They are attempting something that is contrary to the moral teaching of our faith, that is against our traditions and against the ordinary decencies of life, something that is against everything we hold dear."

"The Media Bubble Is Worse Than You Think."

That headline for an article at Politico (by Jack Shafer and Tucker Doherty) makes me say out loud, "Why do they think they know what I think?" And the answer is too obvious for me to leave it to you to write in the comments: They're in a bubble. (And it's worse than they think.)

But don't skip the article because of the irritating headline. Shafer and Doherty crunch some data. They conclude:
In a sense, the media bubble reflects an established truth about America: The places with money get served better than the places without. People in big media cities aren’t just more liberal, they’re also richer: Half of all newspaper and internet publishing employees work in counties where the median household income is greater than $61,000—$7,000 more than the national median. Commercial media tend to cluster where most of the GDP is created, and that’s the coasts. Perhaps this is what Bannon is hollering about when he denounces the “corporatist, global media,” as he did in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference. If current trends continue—and it’s safe to predict they will—national media will continue to expand and concentrate on the coasts, while local and regional media contract.

The latest trapped-on-an-airplane, viral-video horrorshow.

"The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower."

"To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha — which is to demean oneself."

Wrote Robert Pirsig, the author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," who died yesterday at the age of 88.

Ivanka does her perfect-poise routine when Germans hiss and boo at her for talking about her father as a champion of women.

She was on panel — alongside Angela Merkel, Queen Màxima of the Netherlands, and International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagardeon — at the W-20 where the topic was women's empowerment and entrepreneurship at the W-20.

Video at the link.

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt asked, "How could anyone not like her?," and I answered:
There's something robotic and trancelike about her demeanor. It's interesting to me that people don't dislike her for that glossy, plastic, stage-y quality, which actually reminds me of Hillary Clinton. I don't myself dislike her, but I'm fascinated that people don't call her out for the Stepford Wives aura that so many political women have been mocked for.

But Jackie Kennedy was a similar case. People loved it in her. I guess if you read as beautiful and you don't misbehave, people will accept a woman who seems anesthetized.
And AReasonableMan says, "Drudge's front page currently featuring Ivanka is pretty funny." Here's the part he means, with Ivanka in the middle — looking like a sensibly beautiful woman — flanked by Madonna displaying elongated Jayne-Mansfield-style breasts and some absurdly plastic-surgeried human Barbie doll. Click to enlarge:

Oatmeal toenail.

What I googled — because the image lodged in my head — to get to that article I'd meant to blog and had lost track of: "PLEASE, GOD, STOP CHELSEA CLINTON FROM WHATEVER SHE IS DOING/The last thing the left needs is the third iteration of a failed political dynasty," by T.A. Frank.

You know, it's a good idea to put some very memorable and distinctive words in a piece of writing you want people to be able to figure out how pull up out of the internet archive.

Here's how Frank got oatmeal and toenail into his article about Chelsea:
What comes across with Chelsea, for lack of a gentler word, is self-regard of an unusual intensity. And the effect is stronger on paper. Unkind as it is to say, reading anything by Chelsea Clinton—tweets, interviews, books—is best compared to taking in spoonfuls of plain oatmeal that, periodically, conceal a toenail clipping.
That was easy to find. I'm surprised that anything else came up, but there was:
[Amyre Qualls] said all the photos were taken in the school cafeteria at Prince George High School and show food that is being served to students.

“Oatmeal, toenail clippings, cauliflower,” Qualls said. That’s what people told her the pizza looked like it was made with.

Democratic shit talk.

I was fascinated by the news that "Sh*t talking is Democrats' new strategy" and blogged it yesterday in "DNC Chairman Tom Perez routinely uses the word 'shit' in speeches." So I decided to search for "shit" in the book I'm reading "Shattered/Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign."

Here's what I found. I've left out occurrences of "bullshit," because that word is more normalized (why is an interesting question that Meade and I just had a long conversation about). I've left in the somewhat oddball word "ripshit" (which seems to be like "ripsnorting," but with shit (watch what you snort!)).

At Kindle Locations 1250-1256:
Biden’s penchant for saying impolitic things would be an area ripe for exploitation for the Clinton team. He, and his legacy, would suffer. While [Biden and Clinton] fought over who had the better style, Sanders would float above the mudslinging by continuing to focus on issues. “It’s ticky-tack shit that would just not be good and then they would grate on each other and then it would be a downward spiral,” the Clinton aide said.
Kindle Locations 1352-1359:
[Iowa state director Matt] Paul... walked in to find the former president sitting in a leather chair. Bill was wearing a suit and a pair of leather gloves; his arms were crossed. Even if the yelling hadn’t been audible through the walls of the boutique hotel, it would have been clear that he was in a foul mood. His eyes were fixed on Paul. If there’s ever a time to make sure I know my shit, the staffer thought, this is it.
Kindle Locations 1835-1837:
At the end of the spot, Hillary says she is running for all of the “Dorothys” out there who need a champion. Voters liked her “strength, resilience, [and] take no shit attitude,” said a person familiar with focus group data.
Kindle Locations 3220-3223:
The kneecapping of several aides, which wouldn’t fully take shape for a few more weeks, didn’t mean Hillary intended to let the rest of her staff off easy. She was ripshit over the confluence of calamities in Michigan. Her senior aides and advisers all got reamed... the day after the Michigan primary.
Kindle Locations 4579-4580:
Heading into Monday, July 25, the first day of the convention, Mook was nervous. “Absolutely shitting my pants” is how he described it to others.
Kindle Locations 5599-5602:
Putin might not be a Communist anymore, but he was a Russian autocrat who came to power after a distinguished career in the KGB. This was the kind of spy-thriller shit that would surely break through in the press. If the public saw Trump putting Russian interests above American sovereignty, Hillary’s aides thought, the story had the potential to break his back....
Kindle Locations 5636-5641:
“Could you imagine a day so fucking crazy that no one gives a shit about this?” one aide said of the October 7 intelligence report. Suddenly, the upside-down dynamics of the 2016 election came into sharp relief.... “Here’s something Donald Trump did and said and was arguably disqualifying to a lot of voters— something that could put the race away— but within moments, a factor related to e-mails comes around and puts the thumb on the other side of the scale.”
Kindle Locations 5686-5693:
[T]he most jarring and memorable video clip in modern campaign history... couldn’t put Trump away. Early in the campaign, Trump had said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue shooting people and not lose a vote. Maybe he was right.... It was a terrifying realization... “People already knew he was a womanizing piece of shit,” a senior Clinton aide said. “It doesn’t change the narrative.”

Can Bill O'Reilly succeed as a podcaster?

Here, you can listen to his first episode. Key word: Listen. How much of Bill O'Reilly's performance came though the face and the hand gestures? And it wasn't just him, it was all the glitter and noise surrounding him — the crazy moving shapes and words and flashing lights that the opening sequence of "The Colbert Report" had such hilarious fun with.

In the podcast, all we have is the voice. The banging, bonging Fox News music is stripped away. It's just one man's voice, all alone. And it's a TV-trained voice. Whatever it is that works on television, O'Reilly had it. His TV show was phenomenally successful, and his voice was important, but there were many other elements in play as we listened to that voice.

Now, you are invited to take O'Reilly's voice straight — just the talking. I found it fascinating to experience O'Reilly as just a voice. It makes you wonder where the magic was, but you can easily tell that it was not in the voice alone. The voice is familiar but you notice how different it sounds from a professional radio voice. The pronunciation isn't crisp. There's a downbeat quality. O'Reilly may have special reason to be sad right now, but a depressive voice doesn't draw you in and energize you.

Naturally, I compare him to Rush Limbaugh, who developed his style on the radio and figured out what works when you are only a voice. There's so much energy and forward drive in Rush's monologues. You get the feeling that it's fun and funny and you're drawn in and propelled along. It's very different. It's radio. (And that's all podcasting is: Radio.) And Rush doesn't rely only on his fabulous radio voice. Exciting music begins each segment, and he has a line-up of well-chosen and edited audio clips to play to change the pace and give him something to bounce off of.

Has O'Reilly even thought about what it takes to be a radio commentator? Well, the answer must be yes, because he did have a radio spin-off of his TV show for a little while. He was on a thing called "The Radio Factor" from 2002 to 2008. I don't think it did very well, and that was with the assistance of Fox News.