March 19, 2019

At the Equinox Eve Café...

... all topics are equal.

"Engaged protesters were not able to block the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but they did render both toxically unpopular."

"The resistance spurred an unprecedented level of interest in special elections, swinging seats across the country, and powered Democrats to sweeping wins in the 2018 midterms. And then it stopped... The resistance has demobilized.... A swirl of controversy about anti-Semitism and ties to Louis Farrakhan cast a shadow on key leaders of the official Women’s March organization in the months leading up to the third annual march.... [T]he controversies depressed turnout. Nancy Pelosi took over as speaker in early 2019, which left liberals less alarmed. But it also left resistance to Trump with a clear leader and focal point, and House Democrats do not appear to be particularly interested in grassroots resistance work.... One veteran operative who’s deeply involved in party-aligned work on corruption issues tells me he thinks congressional leaders have deliberately demobilized the resistance because they’re so afraid of the impeachment issue.... A vigorously contested presidential nomination is a healthy part of the political process. But throwing small-dollar contributions into a zero-sum struggle for the crown nine months in advance of the first primary balloting is an inherently low-value use of people’s money, to say nothing of their time and emotional energy....While candidates run against one another — and will likely continue running for a year or more — it falls to congressional leaders to provide a unifying intellectual and emotional orientation. Opposition to Trump is, easily, the most natural candidate for the job. But to tap into it, House Democrats need to remind the resistance that there are ways to fight Trump in the here and now, not just in 2020."

That's some interestingly ineffectual handwringing by Matt Yglesias, in "The demobilization of the resistance is a dangerous mistake/Remember when protest was the new brunch?" (Vox).

Isn't the resistance dangerous to the Democratic Party in the lead-up to the 2020 election? It's hard to imagine "a unifying intellectual and emotional orientation" coming from House Democrats and controlling the "resistance." I would assume the Democrats want the resistance demobilized.

"Only a few of the saddest, most destitute Albanians still wanted to emigrate to the States..."

"...  and that lonely number was further discouraged by a poster showing a plucky little otter in a sombrero trying to jump onto a crammed dinghy under the tagline 'The Boat Is Full, Amigo.' Inside an improvised security cage, an older man behind Plexiglas shouted at me incomprehensibly while I waved my passport at him.... A half-dozen of my fellow citizens were seated behind their chewed-up desks, mumbling lowly into their äppäräti. There was an earplug lying slug-dead on an empty chair, and a sign reading INSERT EARPLUG IN EAR, PLACE YOUR ÄPPÄRÄT ON DESK, AND DISABLE ALL SECURITY SETTINGS. I did as I was told. An electronic version of John Cougar Mellencamp’s 'Pink Houses' ('Ain’t that America, somethin’ to see, baby!') twanged in my ear, and then a pixelated version of the plucky otter shuffled onto my äppärät screen, carrying on his back the letters ARA, which dissolved into the shimmering legend: American Restoration Authority. The otter stood up on his hind legs, and made a show of dusting himself off. 'Hi there, pa’dner!' he said, his electronic voice dripping with adorable carnivalesque. 'My name is Jeffrey Otter and I bet we’re going to be friends!'... 'Now tell me, Lenny. What made you leave our country? Work or pleasure?' 'Work,' I said. 'And what do you do, Leonard or Lenny Abramov?' 'Um, Indefinite Life Extension.' 'You said "effeminate life invention." Is that right?' "Indefinite Life Extension, I said."

I'm reading "Super Sad True Love Story" by Gary Shteyngart.

Can you do this fitness test (which supposedly indicates longevity)?

After the jump (because it autoplays):

"20 years ago, if you saw something on TV that offended you and you wanted to let someone know, you would’ve had to get a pen and paper and write, 'Dear BBC, I’m bothered.'"

"But you didn’t do it because it was too much trouble. Now with Twitter, you can just go, 'Fuck you!' to a comedian who’s offended you. Then a journalist will see that and say, 'So-and-so said a thing and people are furious.' No. The rest of us don’t give a fuck and wouldn’t have heard about it if it hadn’t been made a headline. Everything is exaggerated. But everything’s also an illusion. No one would talk to you in the street like they do on Twitter. They’d never come up and say, 'Your articles stink.' They’d never do that because they’re normal, but they’re not normal on Twitter because there’s no nuance, no irony, no conversation there."

Said Ricky Gervais, interviewed in "Ricky Gervais on Provocation, Picking Targets and Outrage Culture" (NYT). I uncensored the "[expletive deleted]"s.

I like the quote because I have tags for nuance, irony, and conversation.

ADDED: I forgot my "normal" tag.

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the federal government can detain immigrants indefinitely for past crimes, even if they have been previously released."

"In a 5-4 decision that fell along ideological lines, the high court reversed lower court rulings that found immigrants could only be subject to mandatory detention without a bond hearing if they were detained promptly upon their release from custody."

Politico reports.

"Beto O’Rourke’s Presidential Platform Is Actually a Restaurant Countertop/Dude, people need to eat food off of those!"

Headline at Eater.
The phenomenon has even spawned its own parody Twitter account, Beto Standing On Counters, with the tagline “Standing on Counters and other assorted furniture til ‘20.”
It's viral. Example:

"Who Still Buys Wite-Out, and Why?"

They're asking the rite question at The Atlantic.
But correction fluids are not only surviving—they appear to be thriving, with Wite-Out sales climbing nearly 10 percent in 2017, according to the most recent public numbers. It’s a mystery of the digital age....
Yeah, Mike Nesmith's mother... Liquid Paper... We needn't go back into that history. I'll just say Wite-Out is to Liquid Paper as Oreo is to Hydrox. Back to the question at hand: Why are people still buying a lot of correction fluid?
Even as paper sales dip, up-market stationery is one sub-segment that is expected to grow, thanks to a Millennial affection for personalized stationery. Tia Frapolli, president of NPD’s office-supplies practice, pointed to bullet-journaling and hand-lettering as paper-based trends that could breathe some life into correction fluids....

[T]he attraction to the material is the same as any other hand-made or small-batch product: The physical act of covering up a mistake is imperfect but more satisfying than simply hitting backspace. There’s also a poignancy to a screwed generation gravitating toward Wite-Out.

You can’t erase the past anymore than you can erase a printed typo or written error—but you can paper it over and pretend it didn’t happen.
That's interestingly written. I should name the author: David A. Graham.

It should be noted that correction fluid is useful aside from the written word. It's a standard art supply for those who use pen on paper — especially if you don't begin with a pencil draft (to be erased after it's inked in) and if the work will be distributed as a reproduction (such as a comic strip).

Oh, but wait... From Comic Tools:
Wite out is the horrible, foul smelling goop made by Bic for making small corrections to typing and letters. It's not archival, isn't terribly opaque, bleeds and isn't easy to draw over.

WHITE-out is another word we cartoonists use for what is really a specialized guache for correcting ink drawings. It's super-opaque, has very high quality pigment, is archival, and when applied at the right thickness can be drawn over almost (though not quite) as well as paper....
Here — you can buy the recommended Deleter White-Out. At Amazon, where it looks like this:

"Commodity for both sexes"!

Reusing the soap.

At Facebook this morning:

John (quoting from "Hilton is recycling used bars of hotel soap to save the planet" (CNN)): "Hilton Hotels ... announced Monday that it will collect used bars of soap from guest rooms across its hotels and recycle them into 1 million new bars of soap by October 15, which is Global Handwashing Day."

Me: Gross! "Crushed, sanitized and cut into new soap bars." So the pubic hairs and whatnot are in there, but it's okay, they're sanitized.

John (quoting from "Friends"): "Soap is soap. It's self-cleaning."

Me: Those 2 are great. Perfection!!

Me (again): The article — with that "save the planet" puffing — seems like CNN just published Hilton's PR statement.

John: Good, we should be glad when doing good for the environment aligns with business interests, e.g. getting a good press release out of it. It's worse when the opposite is true, when businesses don't see a benefit from voluntarily having good environmental practices, making it more likely that government will step in to micromanage them.

Me: Is it good for the environment or is it environmentalism theater? Did CNN check?

The Bernie-Beto-Biden triad has 70% of the Democratic primary vote.

According to a new Morning Consult poll. It's Biden 35, Sanders 27, O'Rourke 8. Biden, the one who's not yet declared, is up 4 points since last week. Beto is up 1. Kamala Harris is down 2, to 8%.

Why is the triad doing so well? Why hasn't Harris gotten traction?

Food writer Mark Bittman "has bounced around since leaving The Times."

"He spent less than a year at Purple Carrot, a vegan meal-kit start-up. He wrote a column for New York Magazine and Grub Street. He started a newsletter. He posted recipes on his personal website. All along, he said, he had the idea of creating his own publication.... Salty, which is making its debut on Tuesday, will comprise recipes, stories related to food and more. 'There’s a large part of me that wants people to be interested in food agriculture, or policy, or kids, or immigrants, or race,' Mr. Bittman said. There will be no articles on restaurant openings, think pieces on super foods or profiles of celebrity chefs, he added. Some of the stories he has lined up go into racism in restaurants, how to buy an egg and how your relationship to food changes when you become a parent."

In case you were wondering whatever happened to Mark Bittman... that's from "Mark Bittman Is Starting a Food Magazine at Medium" in the New York Times, where I believe what's between the lines is: See? We were what made you great. The article begins with a quote from Bittman about what his life was like post-Times: "It was like I kind of fell off the map."

Here's his new enterprise Salty. Here, for example, is the article on "racism in restaurants." Excerpt:
During Jim Crow, signs delineated separate entrances for white and black customers at restaurants, [Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a civil rights leader,] pointed out. Black patrons were often forced to carry-out their food and bring their own utensils and condiments. Today’s segregation is less obvious. “Most modern-day racists are cordial,” he said.

There are subtle ways that restaurants can make black patrons feel unwelcome. In 2015, the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte sparked outrage when it added a 15 percent surcharge to food and drink tabs during the CIAA — an annual basketball tournament for historically black colleges and universities....

[Zachary Brewster, an associate professor of sociology at Wayne State University] says many restaurants are “very racialized” environments where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example, or that they’re more demanding customers. Such stereotypes allow servers to express their anti-black bias while claiming that their discrimination is about money, not race.
ADDED: A big topic in the comments is whether it's really a myth that blacks don't tip well. Here's something from 2017, "Poll reveals who are the best, worst tippers."
Topping the list of best tippers:

"He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. And to others, I implore you..."

"... speak the names of those who were lost, rather than name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name."

Said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, quote in "New Zealand Is Loath to Use Suspect’s Name to Avoid Amplifying His Cause" (NYT).

March 18, 2019

At the Quiet Mouse Café...

... you can talk about anything you want.

But under the new comments policy, you'll have to wait at least a few minutes before you'll see your comment, and if you're abusive or terribly boring, you won't see it at all.

ADDED: "if you're abusive or terribly boring, you won't see it at all" — a decision not to publish your comment doesn't mean that you're necessarily either "abusive or terribly boring." Those are just 2 things that will result in nonpublication. There are some other things too, but most of them are inapplicable in a café. Please don't feel too bad if a comment you've written doesn't make it. But avoid what's abusive or terribly boring and you'll be a long way toward getting published.

"The Fake News Media..."

Andrew Yang (the Democratic presidential candidate) talks about "normal" so much....

... it reminds my son John of that fake police officer played by Peter Sellers in Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita":
I said to myself when I saw you — I said, "That's a guy with the most normal-looking face I ever saw in my life!" . . . It's great to see a normal face, because I'm a normal guy. It'd be great for two normal guys like us to get together and talk about world events — you know, in a normal sort of way....
At the link: the "Lolita" clip and Yang's "normal" quotes.

"Only 7 Black Students Got Into N.Y.’s Most Selective High School, Out of 895 Spots."

The NYT reports.
At Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 slots in the freshman class, only seven were offered to black students. And the number of black students is shrinking: There were 10 black students admitted into Stuyvesant last year, and 13 the year before.

Another highly selective specialized school, the Bronx High School of Science, made 12 offers to black students this year, down from 25 last year.

These numbers come despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to diversify the specialized high schools.... Lawmakers considering Mr. de Blasio’s proposal have faced a backlash from the specialized schools’ alumni organizations and from Asian-American groups who believe discarding the test would water down the schools’ rigorous academics and discriminate against the mostly low-income Asian students who make up the majority of the schools’ student bodies. (At Stuyvesant, 74 percent of current students are Asian-American.)....

Of all the Beatles songs, which one is most streamed in digital media?

I heard the answer on the car radio today (on the Beatles channel), and it was surprising, but you can work out the logic of it, once you know. I wonder if you can guess without looking it up.

60% of what Joe Rogan eats is meat from elk that he hunts with a bow.

Let me put you somewhere just after the 2-hour mark in his conversation with David Lee Roth:

"I'd seen a bunch of factory farming video, and I was like, okay, I'm either going to become a vegetarian or I'm going to become a hunter.... And so, I became a hunter. First of all, the nutrition that you get from wild game.... You just feel better. It feels amazing. Yeah, it's so nutrient-dense, and it's red and rich, and so what? You're eating an athlete. You're eating a wild athlete that's running away from wolves and mountain lions. I mean, it's just a different thing than a cow that's locked up in a cage...."

As for David Lee Roth, he says he eats like a crocodile.

"Even just showing a smidgen of frustration or irritation was considered weak and childlike...."

"For instance, one time someone knocked a boiling pot of tea across the igloo, damaging the ice floor. No one changed their expression. 'Too bad,' the offender said calmly and went to refill the teapot. In another instance, a fishing line — which had taken days to braid — immediately broke on the first use. No one flinched in anger. 'Sew it together,' someone said quietly.... Traditional Inuit parenting is incredibly nurturing and tender.... The culture views scolding — or even speaking to children in an angry voice — as inappropriate... It's as if the adult is having a tantrum; it's basically stooping to the level of the child.... Inuit parents have an array of stories to help children learn respectful behavior, too.... [P]arents tell their kids: If you don't ask before taking food, long fingers could reach out and grab you.... Inuit parents tell their children to beware of the northern lights. If you don't wear your hat in the winter, they'll say, the lights will come, take your head and use it as a soccer ball!"

From "How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger" (NPR).

Things I didn't immediately see as typos: "claim your office poo."

I'm reading the WaPo piece "NCAA tournament cheat sheet: Bracket tips, upsets and more," and there's this:

I seriously accepted the notion that "poo" was an apt term for a pot of money.

I've read the Bible....
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous....
And I've read Norman O. Brown....

Let's dance...