October 21, 2018

At the Sunday Night Cafe...

... talk about anything you want.

A very elaborate ad from Japan. (It hardly matters what the product is.)

I found that via Adweek.

"The Brewers may have fallen one game short of the World Series, but they're set up for big things."

"The rebuild orchestrated by general manager David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell not only turned them into contenders a few years before anyone suspected, it left them in a position to sustain that success. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain played for the Royals when they lost Game 7 of the World Series in 2014, then went back and won the World Series the following year. He sees some parallels between those Royals and these Brewers. 'We made it to the World Series and lost in game seven, but everybody showed up ready to go that next year and we ended up going back to the World Series and we won,' Cain said. 'We can definitely go out there and do the same thing with this team. We have a great group of guys that can really play.'...  [T]he core of this team will be together next season and for several more after that. This isn't like the 2011 Brewers team that lost to St. Louis in the NLCS. Back then, everyone knew slugger Prince Fielder was leaving in free agency.... 'So there's a lot of reasons for hope and optimism[,' said Ryan Braun. ']But at the same time we were one game away from the World Series and we had an opportunity to play that game at home. We all know that no matter how good you are, those opportunities don't come around every year...'"

From "Despite difficult end to dream season, Brewers prove they're built for success" by Tom Oates (Wisconsin State Journal).

"Many people report a particular scent appearing around this time of year; some describe it as melancholy, while others associate it with more pleasant harvest-type smells."

"The scent of autumn can be as much an emotional shift as it is a herald of the waning daylight.... But where does this smell come from?... When the leaves fall, they die. As they take their last breath, they “exhale” all sorts of gases through tiny holes known as stomata. Among these compounds released are terpene and isoprenoids, common ingredients in the oils that coat plants. Terpenes are hydrocarbons, meaning their main ingredients are hydrogen and carbon. Pinene, a species of terpene, smells like — you guessed it — pine. It’s a main ingredient to the saplike resin that repairs the bark of conifers and pine trees. Occasionally, these gas molecules excreted by plants — known as volatile organic compounds — interact with variants of nitrous oxide. This can lead to ozone production, which can smell a bit like chlorine or the exhaust of a dryer vent. In addition to the release of gases contained within dying vegetation, two other effects contribute to the emotion-evoking scent that accompanies a northwest autumn breeze: decomposing plant matter, and pollutants trapped at the ground levels during the fall months. The soil in most parts of the world is rich in Geotrichum candidum, a fungus that causes rotting and decomposition of fruits and vegetables and dense plant matter. In fact, Geotrichum candidum has been sampled on all seven continents. This is just one of many species that erodes away as deceased organisms, the chemical reactions of which contribute to the smell of 'fall.'"

From "The scent of a season: Explaining the aromas of fall" (WaPo).

With my greatly diminished sense of smell, I wonder what emotions I miss. Melancholy? There's a deep dimension to autumn, and I have forgotten it.

"Purdue’s upset of Ohio State was an unbelievable, emotional blowout."

"This was a destruction, carried out by a team that hasn’t appeared in the AP Top 25 since 2007 against one of the greatest blue-blood powers in the sport," SBNation reports, calling attention to a Purdue fan who is dying of cancer — "that Purdue beat the hell out of Ohio State in this moment, with this fan rooting on the Boilers, is jaw-droppingly great."

"There are just two daily meals. One menu consisted of lentil purée, tomatoes, olives, fruit and water or red wine, at 9:30 a.m."

"'We eat fast,' Father Jeremiah warned. A typical meal lasts 15 minutes. One monk reads prayers, and any visitor who tries to talk is shushed. After the morning meal, the monks work — gardening, cooking, painting icons — until it is time for vespers before sunset, the evening meal and bed. Even while working, most pray, their lips constantly moving with the refrain, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.' Monks often summarize their existence in pithy shorthand. 'He is happy because he has nothing, but he has everything,' Abbot Alexios said of a monk’s life.... Expensive SUVs now whisk affluent visitors along dirt roads once limited to donkeys and trekking pilgrims.... Some monks grumble about the tide of visitors overwhelming their devotions. Some pilgrims dislike it, too...."

From "Mount Athos, a Male-Only Holy Retreat, Is Ruffled by Tourists and Russia" (NYT).

"Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence."

A NYT headline. I recommend not using "eyes" as a verb in headlines. My eyes can't take it. I get distracted in useless searches for meaning: Why allow eyes to define things? But maybe some people love interposing confusion and tripping up the readers. I remember long ago, back in the 1990s, there was a headline that began "Clinton Eyes Higher..." — I think the whole thing was something boring like "Clinton Eyes Higher Taxes." I laughed like lunatic at the notion that the news was that somehow Clinton's eyeballs had been relocated to a higher position on his face. In case you're making a study of my personal sense of humor: It still makes me dissolve into giggles.

But on to the serious stuff. From the new article:
[T]he Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing....

For the last year, health and human services has privately argued that the term “sex” [in the text of Title IX] was never meant to include gender identity or even homosexuality, and that the lack of clarity allowed the Obama administration to wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them.
"Wrongfully" is the wrong word. The question is what the statute means, and the argument is that the Obama administration wrongly — incorrectly — read the text to include gender identity. It's much easier to say that the Obama administration got it wrong than to say it read the statute "wrongfully," which means that it pursued injustice or unfairness. The interpretation could be incorrect — a wrong interpretation of the statute — but consistent with principles of fairness and justice. Indeed, legal minds are often drawn toward incorrect interpretations of statutes precisely because they want to get to fairness and justice. Those who defend the Obama administration's interpretation will deny that the interpretation is wrong, and of course, they don't think it's wrongful. But those who attack the Obama adminstration's interpretation only need to say that it's wrong. They don't need go so far as to say it's unjust or unfair to protect transgenders from discrimination. They only need to say that's not what Title IX does.

"She’s a lion in winter. Not only is she running, she should run."

"In the Democratic Party, the question is can anybody throw a punch or take a punch, and one thing we know about Hillary Clinton is she can take a punch.... I think Trump considers her a real rival, whereas his view of the rest of the field is they’ve got to prove themselves."

Said Steve Bannon, quoted in "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Hillary?/She’s not going away—and Democrats aren’t sure what to do about it" (Politico).

Also quoted at Politico — Philippe Reines: It’s curious why Hillary Clinton’s name isn’t in the mix—either conversationally or in formal polling—as a 2020 candidate... She’s younger than Donald Trump by a year. She’s younger than Joe Biden by four years. Is it that she’s run before? This would be Bernie Sanders’ second time, and Biden’s third time. Is it lack of support? She had 65 million people vote for her.... Chalking the loss up to her being a failed candidate is an oversimplification. She is smarter than most, tougher than most, she could raise money easier than most, and it was an absolute fight to the death."

Nixon won the second time around. Why not Hillary?

For those of you who pay attention to the tags on this blog: "Hillary goes away" is my tag for whatever Hillary does on the way out after the 2016 election, so it includes things you might think should be tagged "Hillary won't go away."I didn't plan for the "Hillary goes away" tag to become sarcastic, but I'm not going to create another tag to avoid sarcasm. The thing I avoid is tag proliferation, so if she won't go away, sarcasm happens.

Transcript from "The Lion in Winter" (above): "How beautiful you make me. What might Solomon have sung had he seen this. [Almost looking in a mirror:] I can't. I'd turn to salt. I've lost again. I'm done for this time. Well, there'll be other Christmases. [Holding up jewelry:] I'd hang you from the nipples, but you'd shock the children. They kissed sweetly, didn't they? I'll have him next time. I can wait. Ah, there you are! My comfort and my company. We're locked in for another year. Four seasons more. What a desolation! What a life's work!"

"There are plenty of things in history that are best left in the shadows. Accurate knowledge does not improve people’s lives."

"The objective does not necessarily surpass the subjective, you know. Reality does not necessarily extinguish fantasy."

Says a supernatural character in Haruki Murakami's "Killing Commendatore."

He continues:
“Cannot you just let the painting speak for itself?... If that painting wants to say something, then best to let it speak. Let metaphors be metaphors, a code a code... Franz Kafka was quite fond of slopes... He was drawn to all sorts of slopes. He loved to gaze at homes built on the middle of a slope. He would sit by the side of the street for hours, staring at houses built like that. He never grew tired of it and would sit there, tilting his head to one side, then straightening it up again. A kind of strange fellow.... Allegories and metaphors are not something you should explain in words. You just grasp them and accept them.”

"Even Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, never made an impassioned Beijing-style speech about women in Saudi Arabia being obliterated under a black tarp."

"During the first gulf war, fought in part to protect the Saudis from an encroaching Saddam, a group of Saudi women — artists and academics — got excited by the presence of American female soldiers and went for a joy ride. The clerics branded the drivers 'whores' and 'harlots.' They received death threats and lost their jobs. Driving by women, banned by custom, was made illegal. America was mute. Our government did not even fight for the right of its women soldiers protecting Saudi Arabia to refuse the Saudi directive to wear an abaya and head scarf when off the base."

From "Step Away From the Orb" by Maureen Dowd (NYT).

"The Orb" refers to this:

That is our President, Donald J. Trump, and much of the column is, as you might expect, about him. I chose to highlight the "Even Hillary Clinton" part. There's also an "Even Barack Obama" part:
Even Barack Obama, who had no love lost for the Saudis, refused for eight years to release a classified document from 2002 detailing contacts between Saudi officials and some of the 9/11 hijackers, including checks from Saudi royals to operatives in contact with the hijackers and a connection between a Bandar employee and a Qaeda militant. (Bandar’s wife, Princess Haifa, wrote charitable checks that ended up in the hands of two hijackers.)
And there's a set of matching photos of Trump, Obama, and George W. Bush bowing their head to receive an idiotic medallion from a Saudi King. Dowd begins with a story about the time "a Saudi muck-a-muck" slid a velvet box of "expensive jewelry" across the table to her and, after she refused, attempted to hand it to her under the table.

ADDED: "During the first gulf war..." — odd not to capitalize "gulf." It's not as though "gulf" is a type of war (as in "trade war" or "war of nerves"). It's the Persian Gulf. If "Persian" were attached — and why isn't it? — the need for capitalization would be obvious. Elsewhere in the NYT archive I'm seeing either "Gulf War" or "Gulf war." I'll give this my "Althouse the pedant" tag, but I'm not just nit-picking. I'm noticing what is downplayed and wondering why.

October 20, 2018

At the Game 7 Café...


... talk about anything you want. That picture is from earlier today, when I walked down to State Street, which was teeming with Badger fans and where the weather turned insane — very windy with sleet, ice pellets, and snow. But it's nighttime now, and Game 7 is about to begin. Are you with me???

"These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism..."

"... because they’re choosing to live that life. That’s bullshit. I mean, what the f*** are we really talking about here?"

Said Kyrsten Sinema back in 2006. She's now the Democratic Party's nominee to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate.

I haven't been following the Sinema drama, so anything about her is news to me. But I was motivated to read her Wikipedia page because I wanted to know if she had children. If you stay home with children, you probably don't see yourself as "leeching." Some facts:
Sinema married, and later divorced, her BYU classmate Blake Dain.

On November 17, 2013, Sinema completed an Ironman Triathlon in a little more than 15 hours. Sinema was the second active member of Congress—behind Senator Jeff Merkley—to finish a long distance triathlon, and the first to complete an Ironman-branded race. On December 25, 2013, Sinema summited Mount Kilimanjaro.
So, her idea of doing difficult things is way beyond the average person's. But if you're running for office, it's not a good idea to reveal to ordinary people that you basically think they're not working hard enough. The normal bullshit is to butter them up continually, calling them "hard-working" and blaming government and corporations for their insufficiently affluent condition. But Sinema wants to call bullshit on that bullshit. Okay, Sinema. It won't get you into the Senate, I don't think, but it's kind of wonderful, shouted from the top of Mount Kilamanjaro.
Sinema is now the only openly non-theist or atheist member of Congress, although she herself has rejected such labels. She is also the first openly bisexual member of Congress.
Okay with me.

Garnering fans.


I learned a new word (and a new concept):
Kangatarianism is a recent practice of following a diet which excludes meat except kangaroo on environmental and ethical grounds. Several Australian newspapers wrote about the neologism "kangatarianism" in February 2010, describing eating a vegetarian diet with the addition of kangaroo meat as a choice with environmental benefits because indigenous wild kangaroos require no extra land or water for farming and produce little methane (a greenhouse gas), unlike cattle. Advocates of kangatarianism also choose it because Australian kangaroos live natural lives, eat organic food, and are killed "humanely". For similar reasons, Australians have discussed eating only the meat of Australian feral camels ("cameltarianism").
That's from the Wikipedia article, "Kangaroo Meat," which you either know or don't know why I'm reading. For those not yet up to speed: "Chef fired after serving kangaroo meat to Nebraska students" (Fox News):
On Oct. 10, a Potter-Dix Public Schools cafeteria served a chili including a mixture of beef and kangaroo meat, according to the release. Head Cook Kevin Frei told Superintendent Mike Williams that the kangaroo meat was added because “it is a very lean meat.”

While the superintendent stated that he does not believe that the kangaroo meat was unhealthy or dangerous because it met USDA standards for sale, the district vowed to not serve food of this nature again. “If a family wants to eat exotic foods, they can do so on their own time — not at school,” Williams said.... “It is without a doubt not a normal staple of our diet and will not, nor will any other non-staple foods, be a part of the potter-Dix meal program.... I apologize for the anxiety and any harm that this has caused individual students and /or families.”
I agree that parents should always know what animals the school is feeding to their kids, but I don't like the way the solution is always to fire the employee. Why didn't the head cook know how people in his town would react to serving "mystery meat" that turned out to be from an animal people in the area don't normally think about eating? Maybe he is too foolish and reckless for the job, but I feel for him.

What he did is not as bad as putting meat in a dish that people believe is vegetarian or presenting pork as beef or beef as pork. The cook had rational reasons for using kangaroo meat rather than other meats. Kangatarianism makes sense to some people. But if you're a cook in Nebraska — or an anything, anywhere — you can be too rational. You've got to have a feeling for how irrational people react to unusual things.

I have exactly one other association when it comes to kangaroo meat: It's what "This American Life"'s Ira Glass fed to his strange, dangerous dog:
[Our rescue pit bull Piney] needed a strict and disturbingly expensive diet of one protein and one starch for 8–10 months until he would become allergic to it. Then we’d have to switch to another protein-starch.

We’ve gone through a series of food combinations: there was pork and tapioca, then rabbit and sweet potatoes. We would go to the store once a week to pick up 6–8 rabbits and the guy at the store would say, “So, are you havin’ a party?” You don’t want to say, “No, I’m buying eighty dollars’ worth of rabbit for my dog.” You feel like an ass. And it’s weird to be feeding an animal that’s cuter than your pet to your pet. After that we went to bison, which I thought was extinct, and switched to kangaroo about six months ago. There’s a butcher out in Woodside, Queens, that you have to go to for kangaroo....

Who watched the Scott Walker/Tony Evers gubernatorial debate? It conflicted with Game 6 of the NLCS, Brewers vs. Dodgers!

I know, there's always YouTube. You can watch any old debate you failed to see in real time, but it's a test. If you don't watch it in real time, are you really going to get around to it, or will you just scan a few articles?

Like: "Scott Walker and Tony Evers spar over immigration, taxes, health care in first debate" (Milwaukee State Journal)("Walker argued the state's economy, its workforce and its schools benefit when he is in charge.... Evers argued the state has been divided and critically underfunded over the last eight years"), and "Scott Walker, Tony Evers draw stark contrasts, repeat familiar points in first debate" (Capital Times)("Walker made the case that, under his leadership, the state has reached an age of prosperity and that voters should give him a chance to serve a third four-year term.... Evers argued that Walker is a career politician who has driven Wisconsin into an age of polarization and partisan rancor by putting his political interests ahead of the state's.")

But the Brewers were fighting the last of 2 games that will get them to the World Series. At least Scott Walker knew the Wisconsin priorities:

Compare Tony Evers:

Advantage: Walker.

Of course, the Brewers went on to win game 6, 7 to 2: "Energy from fans spurs the Brewers to their first Game 7 since the World Series in 1982." Game 7, tonight, is another home game:

October 19, 2018

At the One-More-Weekend Café...

... you can listen to old records, write the first pages of your book, watch the Brewers game, and talk all night.

Man fell 40 feet into an abandoned gold mine, broke both his legs, and — before getting rescued 48 hours later — had to fight rattlesnakes.

BBC reports.

Nikki Haley has "a shark rhetorical break" from Trump.

Ha ha. That's the typo of the day for me. Clipped from Politico and displayed on Memeorandum:
"Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley insisted Thursday night that 'in America, our political opponents are not evil,' a shark rhetorical break from her boss..."

Politico has corrected the mistake. Now, it's just "a sharp rhetorical break." That's no fun.

I love the idea of "shark rhetoric."

"Da Vinci is believed to have had a condition called intermittent exotropia — commonly referred to as being 'walleyed' — a form of strabismus, eye misalignment..."

"... that affects about 4 percent of the U.S. population. Those with exotropia usually end up favoring one eye over the other, which means they are more likely to see the world as if it were, say, painted on a flat canvas. 'When they’re in that condition . . . they’re only seeing the world monocularly, with much reduced depth cues,' the study’s author, Christopher Tyler, a professor at City University of London and researcher at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, told The Washington Post. 'The image they’re seeing is much closer to what they want to paint on the canvas.' ... But in da Vinci’s case, the painter was, at times, able to control his wandering eye, which in turn provided him with an artistic advantage, Tyler said, noting that the ability to switch between the two perspectives meant that da Vinci would 'be very aware of the 3-D and 2-D depth cues and the difference between them.' Tyler, who has studied da Vinci’s life for more than 20 years, said he started noticing the disorder’s telltale sign while examining works by both the artist himself and those done of him. In many cases, 'they had the eyes diverted,' he said. 'This is something I would notice, what I’m attuned to notice,' said Tyler, who specializes in studying binocular vision.... Previous studies analyzing eye alignment in self-portraits have suggested that painters such as Rembrandt, Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso were also strabismic."

From "Leonardo da Vinci’s genius may be rooted in a common eye disorder, new study says" (WaPo).

A Picasso self-portrait:

What has he done to his eyes? Perhaps less than it appears.


My favorite word in this sentence from "Ugly Beauty/Cindy Sherman's New Self-Portraits Are Her First Pure Protagonists: Gloriously, Catastrophically Themselves" (NYT):
After a number of high-profile relationships — with the Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, the artist Richard Prince and a 16-year marriage to the filmmaker Michel Auder that was haunted by his heroin use — she is now single, “except for my bird,” a 28-year-old macaw named Mr. Frieda, a superb mimic in his own right.
And they go tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet...