December 14, 2018

The important news is not that President Trump is considering Jared Kushner for Chief of Staff...

.... it's that "Twitter Users Troll Jared Kushner Over Chief Of Staff Report" (HuffPo). You might think that article was written because there really was some funny stuff to collect. You would be wrong. I read it. Check my work if you don't trust me to save you the trouble.

Better than Bob Dylan?

"Even the olds don’t want the olds to run for president!"

Writes Peter Hamby in "'THEY’RE ALL TOO OLD': DEMOCRATS FACE A GENERATIONAL RECKONING/The choice in the 2020 primary ultimately comes down to one thing: who is best prepared to beat Trump at a time when Trump owns the culture? Someone who actually understands culture would be a start" (Vanity Fair).

Is "olds" an unacceptable, ageist slur? It doesn't bother me, and I'm old. I think it's important to say "old" and not act like there's something bad about it, but making the adjective a noun might be offensive.

"What Is ‘Life-Affirming’ Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year?"

If that's your question, the answer is here (at Smithsonian).

I'm surprised they picked an orange — because, you know... orange man bad.

But Trump isn't coral... and he isn't life-affirming... is he?!

From Smithsonian:
Living Coral (also known by its less glamorous name of Pantone 16-1546) is a “reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life,” the company said. In a time when the internet is often a despairingly hostile space, and human connections are being warped by digital technology, Living Coral is cheerful and vibrant, but not jarringly so.

“With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord,” the company said in its statement.

"You, Too, Are in Denial of Climate Change."

Writes David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine.
Why can’t we see the threat right in front of us?... There is, to start with, anchoring, which explains how we build mental models around as few as one or two initial examples, no matter how unrepresentative — in the case of global warming, the world we know today, which is reassuringly temperate. There is the ambiguity effect, which suggests that most people are so uncomfortable contemplating uncertainty they will accept lesser outcomes in a bargain to avoid dealing with it. In theory, with climate, uncertainty should be an argument for action — much of the ambiguity arises from the range of possible human inputs, a quite concrete prompt we choose to process instead as a riddle, which discourages us. There is anthropocentric thinking, by which we build our view of the universe outward from our own experience, a reflexive tendency which some especially ruthless environmentalists have derided as “human supremacy,” and which surely shapes our ability to apprehend genuinely existential threats to the species — a shortcoming which many climate scientists have mocked. “The planet will survive,” they say, “it’s the humans that may not.”

These biases are just drawn from the “A” volume of the behavioral-economics literature — and are just a sampling of that volume. Among the most destructive effects that appear later in the library are these: the bystander effect, or our tendency to wait for others to act rather than acting ourselves; confirmation bias, by which we seek evidence for what we already understand to be true rather than endure the cognitive pain of reconceptualizing our world; the default effect, or tendency to choose the present option over alternatives, which is related to the status quo bias, or preference for things as they are, however bad that is; and the endowment effect, or instinct to demand more to give up something we have than we actually value it (or had paid to acquire or establish it). We have an illusion of control, the behavioral economists tell us, and also suffer from overconfidence. We can’t see anything but through cataracts of self-deception....

"Chris Cuomo and Kellyanne Conway Slug it Out For 39 Absolutely Crazy Minutes on CNN."

Mediaite headline. It's not that crazy, but Drudge linked to this so I clicked. The headline is click bait, and I couldn't watch much of the clips. In real life, I avoid watching any of the TV commentary shows, so I'm not the audience for this anxious roiling. It's theater — put on for the money and for the power. It's not crazy at all, let alone "absolutely crazy."

I was motivated to look up the word "crazy" in the OED. One of the meanings — going back to 1927 — is: "slang (orig. U.S.). (a) Of music, esp. jazz: unrestrained, wild; exciting. (b) Hence as a term of approbation: excellent, admirable, satisfying. Cf. cool adj. 8b."
1935 Hot News Apr. 13/1 Where musicians are concerned..if I say a man is crazy you may be sure that I think he is very, very good.
1953 Time 14 Sept. 68/3 The latest Tin Pan Alley argot, where ‘cool’ means good, ‘crazy’ means wonderful.
1959 Punch 14 Oct. 319 The swing-cats sway, the hipsters tap their feet As Victor pounds his low-down crazy beat.
I guess I'd accept the Mediaite headline if I thought it was mean in the sense of "unrestrained, wild; exciting." But I do find that sort of present-day political excitement quite boring.

"In a novel, we accept the worldview of the narrator, however limited or objectionable."

"Scout, who is barely 6 at the start of the story, can use words in print that would make her instantly unsympathetic onstage. We also accept that a first-person portrait of a white child’s moral awakening to racism will primarily focus on how it affects the white people around her. But onstage, a work about racial injustice in which its principal black characters have no agency would be intolerable, so Mr. Sorkin makes a series of adjustments. With Scout’s point of view subordinated, we see Atticus through our own eyes instead of hers, making him the firm center of the story.... It’s what happens in the gap between the old and new storytelling styles, as Mr. Sorkin tries to kill two mockingbirds with one stone, that gives me pause. His play, with its emphasis on the trial, is about justice, and is thus a bright-line tragedy. The novel is about something much murkier: accommodation. Atticus — who was based to some extent on Lee’s father — despises racism as a form of incivility but insists that any man, even Bob Ewell, can be understood if you walk in his shoes or crawl around in his skin. It’s hardly a comedy but is nevertheless hopeful to the extent that it clears some space for a future. These are two worthy ideas, if contradictory. In light of racial injustice, accommodation seems to be a white luxury; in light of accommodation, justice seems hopelessly naïve."

From "Review: A Broadway ‘Mockingbird,’ Elegiac and Effective" (NYT).

Miss U.S.A. got a little catty about the way Miss Vietnam and Miss Cambodia don't speak English... and got trashed for "xenophobia" and had to apologize.



Here's the whole article at WaPo, "‘What normalized xenophobia looks like’: Miss USA apologizes for comments about other contestants' English."
The 24-year-old had just finished talking about how Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie “pretends to know so much English,” capping her remarks with an imitation of her fellow Miss Universe contestant. Later, Summers touched on how “confusing” things must be for Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat, because she doesn’t speak English and “not a single other person speaks her language." “Poor Cambodia,” Summers added.

The comments, which were streamed on the Instagram page of Miss Colombia, Valeria Morales, to her more than 300,000 followers earlier this week, have since gone viral, with many calling Summers a “bully” and condemning the remarks as “racist” and “bigoted.” Morales and Miss Australia, Francesca Hung, have also been criticized for their part in the video....

“Regina George, is that you?,” one post said, comparing Summers to the notoriously two-faced queen bee from the 2004 film “Mean Girls.” “This is basically what normalized xenophobia looks like,” the post went on to say. “If she’s trying to show empathy, the condescending, intolerant tone tells a different story. A reminder that you’re participating in a competition in a country/continent where English is NOT the primary language.”

Other critics said Summers’s behavior was representative of “Trump’s America.”...
Why not blame Trump?

Remember the old meme "Thanks Obama"? Here's Obama spoofing it:

December 13, 2018

At the Thursday Night Café...

... on the lucky 13th night of December, let's talk about stuff.

"I Dressed Like It Was 1967."

"Powwow"?! Can you say that? Microaggression!

I'm trying to read this Washington Post article but I'm having a problem with the headline: "Fact-checking Trump’s rowdy powwow with Pelosi and Schumer."

Did Trump speak with forked tongue?

"Beto O'Rourke leapfrogs most of the 2020 Democratic field."

Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten, write at CNN.
O'Rourke has that thing that every candidate -- Democrat or Republican -- wants: organic energy. He generates excitement everywhere he goes -- and is being urged to run by activists from all over the Democratic base. He's the flavor of the moment, no question...
They present a top 10 ranking:
10. Kirsten Gillibrand... She has the most anti-Trump record of any senator...(Previous ranking: Not ranked)

9. Julian Castro: He's running!... [But is there] room for both young Texas Democratic firebrands, Castro and O'Rourke.... (Previous ranking: 7)

8. Sherrod Brown... Still, Brown's a white male in a party that is becoming less white and was intent on nominating women in 2018.... (Previous ranking: 9)

7. Amy Klobuchar: We probably had the Minnesota senator ranked too highly last month... (Previous ranking: 4)

6. Bernie Sanders... We wonder though if time has passed Sanders by... (Previous ranking: 6)

5. Elizabeth Warren: The last month has made clear just how much damage Warren did to her chances with a badly botched attempt to put to rest questions about her Native American heritage.... (Previous ranking: 2)

4. Cory Booker... some progressives view him as a dreaded "neoliberal," and some may see him as a bit over-dramatic (see his "Spartacus" moment). (Previous ranking: 5)

3. Joe Biden.... a septuagenarian white male... (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Beto O'Rourke: The guy just lost a Senate race. And yet, here we are with O'Rourke in second... Still, folks really shouldn't get ahead of themselves.... Will Democrats actually nominate a white man in 2020?.... (Previous ranking: 10)

1. Kamala Harris... an Indian-American and African-American woman with a law-and-order background -- looks tailor made for the 2020 Democratic electorate.... (Previous ranking: 1)
Well, there you have it: The Democrats don't want a white man. Is Beto O'Rourke still a white man? Puzzling!!!

ADDED: Overheard at Meadhouse: "Why aren't the Democratic candidates better? I'm just going to be for Amy Klobuchar."

Radiohead, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, The Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies...

... are the new inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

It's just annual nonsense, but I've got to say I love The Zombies. I've loved them since their first single played on the radio long ago, and we saw them here in Madison in 2017. Here are my "Notes from the Zombies concert at the Barrymore."

Why weren't they already in?! From the first link above (Rolling Stone):
For Colin Blunstone of the Zombies – who have been eligible since 1989 and have appeared on three previous ballots – this was the result of incredible patience and persistence. “You do start to doubt that it could happen,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I’ve tried to be fairly philosophical about it and tell myself that if we don’t get inducted, it’s just a bit of fun. Don’t take it too seriously. But of course when you’re actually inducted, everything changes. You think, ‘This is a career-defining [and] life-defining moment.'”

His longtime bandmate Rod Argent echoed Blunstone’s sentiment. “I know it’s fashionable in some circles to say, ‘I don’t mind whether I get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or not,'” he tells Rolling Stone. “But that is not how I’ve ever felt. When we were first nominated, that felt like a huge honor in its own right. And this time to turn the corner and get inducted, feels fantastic … I’m just so delighted.”

"Shame is the opposite of art. When you live inside of your shame, everything you see is inadequate and embarrassing."

"A lifetime of traveling and having adventures and not being tethered to long-term commitments looks empty and pathetic and foolish, through the lens of shame. You haven’t found a partner. Your face is aging. Your body will only grow weaker. Your mind is less elastic. Your time is running out. Shame turns every emotion into the manifestation of some personality flaw, every casual choice into a giant mistake, every small blunder into a moral failure. Shame means that you’re damned and you’ve accomplished nothing and it’s all downhill from here. You need to discard some of this shame you’re carrying around all the time. But even if you can’t cast off your shame that quickly, through the lens of art, shame becomes valuable. When you’re curious about your shame instead of afraid of it, you can see the true texture of the day and the richness of the moment, with all of its flaws.... Shame creates imaginary worlds inside your head. This haunted house you’re creating is forged from your shame. No one else can see it, so you keep trying to describe it to them. You find ways to say, 'You don’t want any part of this mess. I’m mediocre, aging rapidly, and poor. Do yourself a favor and leave me behind.' You want to be left behind, though. That way, no one bears witness to what you’ve become. It’s time to come out of hiding. It’s time to step into the light and be seen, shame and wrinkles and failures and fears and all.... What if you simply experimented with being who you are, out in the open, even as that feels difficult and awkward and sad? What if you just decided that you’re an artist, today, right now? You’re sensitive and erratic, maybe. You’re maudlin and also expansive. What would it look like to own that identity, as a means of making art, sure, but also as a means of owning your FULL SELF? You wouldn’t feel as angry at other artists. You would recognize them as kindred spirits...."

Heather Havrilesky gives a great answer to a great question at The Cut. Really, the question is also very well written and interesting. I was going to quote the question for this post, because I predicted the answer would be much less interesting than the question. But when I got to "Shame is the opposite of art," I changed my mind.

"I don’t want to be a Supreme Court Justice, but I’d love a recess appointment to the Court."

"It would be fun, and after a year or so I could go back to my normal life. And probably get a book out of it."

Writes Glenn Reynolds.

This gets one of my favorite tags: "normal."

"In our conversations, Vargas Llosa declined to discuss his romantic entanglements."

"When I asked him what had fractured his marriage to Patricia Llosa, which produced three children, he dropped all his smiles and chuckles. 'Look,' he said, 'that topic has to do with love. Love is probably the most enriching experience that a human being can have. Nothing transforms a person’s life as much as love. At the same time, love is a private experience. If it’s made public, it becomes cheap, shoddy, full of commonplaces. This is why it’s so hard to write about love in literature. You have to find the most clever ways so that it doesn’t lose its authenticity and become commonplace. So I think that a person shouldn’t talk about love precisely if love is so important in his life.' You’re a romantic, I said. 'I think we all are. I think that romanticism has marked our lives very much, that it’s very difficult not to be romantic in some way, although many of us don’t realize it. You live it or you reject it. You vaccinate yourself against it. Let’s say that I haven’t rejected it. When it’s happened, I’ve lived it.'... [His son] was enormously disappointed when Mario told ¡Hola! that his first year with Preysler had been the happiest year of his life. 'If the year in which you leave your wife of 50 years and you don’t speak to your son is the happiest year of your life... why say it publicly?'"

From "The Elder Statesman of Latin American Literature — and a Writer of Our Moment/Mario Vargas Llosa isn’t a household name among American readers. But at 81, he remains a literary and political colossus across the Spanish-speaking world, and his novels have never felt more relevant" (NYT).

Donna Alexander created "the 'Anger Room,' a business where rage-filled people of all kinds could smash glass and televisions and computers with baseball bats and tire irons and golf clubs..."

"Nathaniel Mitchell, 34, was indicted in Alexander’s death Tuesday after police say he broke into Alexander’s Dallas home through her bedroom window in the middle of the night and beat her about the head with an unknown object..." WaPo reports.
The Anger Room, as it was called, was cluttered with an assortment of furniture, computers and printers, glasses and bottles and dishes. She didn’t allow machetes or knives or ammunition and required everyone to wear safety goggles, a helmet and a jumpsuit. But otherwise, there were few rules. Upon request, she could even build the scene her customers most desired to destroy.....

"I figured the world needed something like this,” she said... “You see so many crimes, and so many tragedies going on worldwide, and I thought that maybe if there was an anger room somewhere, we could have prevented this, or we could have helped that person out. [The idea] kept growing inside of me until I finally got up and did it.”...

Before she died, Alexander was looking into expanding the Anger Room in Las Vegas and Kentucky. But without Alexander, the Anger Room is no longer in business, at least for now....
Here's a NYT article about her, "Anger Rooms: A Smashing New Way to Relieve Stress." It's from late November 2016, so there's this:
The American presidential election increased business at some anger rooms. Stressed-out voters traveled all the way to Toronto from New York before and after the election, says Steve Shew, co-founder of the Rage Room there. Customers wrote the name of the candidate they were frustrated with on a plate and smashed it.

At the Anger Room in Dallas, mannequins of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were taking beatings before the election. Customers demolished two Clinton mannequins, requiring replacements. But Trump attracted even more ire. “We’ve gone through at least three of the male mannequins that we have to dress up as Donald Trump,” Ms. Alexander says....
“Some of our typical options are baseball bats, golf clubs, two-by-fours,” Ms. Alexander says. “We get things like metal pipes, mannequin arms and legs, skillets, legs from tables. Sledgehammers, crowbars and things like that.” 
Police say Mitchell broke into her house in the middle of the night and beat her about the head with an unknown object....

"It Took a Jury 9 Minutes to Decide a Man Could Legally Blast 'Fuck tha Police' Near an Officer."

Reason reports.
[T]he officer slapped [James Webb] with a ticket for misdemeanor noise violation, citing that Webb played the song at an "extremely high volume."....

Prior to the verdict, the deputy said that he took issue with the vulgarity of the word "fuck" in the song. However, Nicholas Somberg, a lawyer who represented Webb pro bono, said that a video from the initial traffic stop showed the officer using the same word with Franklin.....

When asked what he would say to the officer who ticketed him, Webb told FOX 2 Detroit, "I don't know, just same as the song would say. Sorry. Sorry that you didn't get one over on somebody."

"Congress just voted to legalize hemp" — non-psychoactive cannabis.

Vox reports:
McConnell (R-KY), along with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), introduced the bill earlier this year. It was wrapped into the broader farm bill, which mostly deals with agriculture subsidies and food assistance programs, and passed with that legislation. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

For McConnell, the hope is to make hemp a new source of jobs for his home state: He said earlier this year that he hopes hemp “can become sometime in the future what tobacco was in Kentucky’s past.” ...

As it stands, farmers face several barriers to growing hemp due to federal prohibition — including restricted access to banking, water rights, and crop insurance. The bill removes these restrictions, putting the US Department of Agriculture and state agencies in charge of regulations.

December 12, 2018

At the Wednesday Café...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

And think of buying whatever you like through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.