May 21, 2018

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upholds employer-employee arbitration agreements that provide for individual proceedings.

In an opinion by Justice Gorsuch, it says the text of the federal Arbitration Act is clear and the National Labor Relations Board wrongly found a way to avoid it. Justice Ginsburg writes for the dissenters (joined by Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan). As SCOTUSblog excerpts from the dissenting opinion:
"It is the result," she says, "of take-it-or-leave-it labor contracts harking back to the type called 'yellow dog,' and of the readiness of this Court to enforce those unbargained-for agreements. The [Federal Arbitration Act] demands no such suppression for the right of workers to take concerted action for their 'mutual aid or protection.'"

Concern of dissent is that individual claims tend to be small, so that it's not necessarily worth the expense to pursue individually, but now they can't pursue together either.

Justice Ginsburg is now reading from her dissenting opinion. This is a relatively rare and significant move.
This is a big win for management — Epic Systems, Inc. v. Lewis.

ADDED: I'll excerpt this from the majority opinion:
[The employees] don’t suggest that their arbitration agreements were extracted, say, by an act of fraud or duress or in some other unconscionable way that would render any contract unenforceable. Instead, they object to their agreements precisely because they require individualized arbitration proceedings instead of class or collective ones. And by attacking (only) the individualized nature of the arbitration proceedings, the employees’ argument seeks to interfere with one of arbitration’s fundamental attributes.

I guess Exley is — what? — her dog?

Here's the "pustule" thing she retweeted (with the comment "I knew he was rotten but I thought it was on the inside"):

Maddie Poppe sings Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide"...

... on the "American Idol" finale last night. The results are revealed tonight, in a show that will include, among other things, Maddie Poppe singing her audition song, "Rainbow Connection," with Kermit the Frog. I don't know what you like to watch on TV but Maddie Poppe singing "Rainbow Connection" with Kermit the Frog sounds like the best thing that's been on TV in years.

Here's the audition version of "Rainbow Connection" (one of my all-time favorite songs):

ADDED: "If not for american idol i may have never heard her artistry.she is so cute.when i hear her sing it makes me want to ride a merry go round at the county fair" — a comment on this video from last year, before the TV-show competition began:

"Political correctness: a force for good?"

A debate with Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg for the proposition and Stephen Fry and Jordan Peterson against.

"New York City is rife with scents that make it a diverse 'smellscape'..."

According to "New York Today: Smelling Your Way to Work" (NYT).
On one recent work-bound walk to the F train, I was puzzled to meet a half dozen separate smells along just one block. Garbage, which seemed peculiar on a decently clean sidewalk; skunk, which left me wondering how prevalent the animals are in the city; cookies, which nearly caused me to detour; and burned rubber, then grass, then dish soap.

The scents may come from miles away, according to Kate McLean, a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal College of Art in London, whose research has focused on mapping urban “smellscapes.”...

She noted... subway stations and pretzel stands... [and] a composite of fried garlic, wheat grass and tarmac.... “The smell from the sidewalk, and the reflective qualities of the tarmac, and garlic — it’s very, very New York. It’s healthy living alongside the traffic alongside the heat.”
McClean conducts "smellwalks" for tourists. And here's one of her "smellmaps."

"Socialism Is on a Winning Streak."

It's John Nichols, at The Nation.
From the 1910s through the 1940s, Socialist Party members served as state legislators, mayors, city councilors and school board members. The Pennsylvania party, with its deep roots in Reading, produced national Socialist leaders, including candidates for president and vice president....

But the dry spell is over. Socialists have been on an electoral winning streak in some parts of the country for a number of years—Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant made her electoral breakthrough in 2013, winning a major race for the Seattle City Council—but the results from western Pennsylvania in the past two years have been particularly striking. And, now, national observers are starting to take note. “Democratic Socialists scores big wins in Pennsylvania,” declared CNN this week, while The New Yorker announced: “A Democratic-Socialist Landslide in Pennsylvania.”

... “We’re turning the state the right shade of red tonight,” declared Arielle Cohen, the co-chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of DSA....

Official logo of the Democratic Socialists of America via Wikipedia.

ADDED: About that official logo. I presume the white and black outlines for the shaking hands are intended to represent white and black people coming together in socialism. Why then is white the color for the outlining of the rose? It seems to convey the dominance of white. You might try to defend the design by saying the socialists want to say that there is white supremacy and it needs to be recognized in order to be fought, but portraying white supremacy as a rose would suggest that it's good. And, in any event, the red rose (according to the above-linked Wikipedia article) is a traditional symbol of socialism. The logo infuses the symbol of socialism with whiteness, the whiteness that is the white hand that shakes the black hand. It seems to say that white people welcome black people into what is a white enclave.

"In no way would a fourth-hand report from a Maltese professor justify wholesale targeting of four or five members of the Trump campaign."

"It took Christopher Steele, with his funding concealed through false campaign filings, to be incredibly successful at creating a vast echo chamber around his unverified, fanciful dossier, bouncing it back and forth between the press and the FBI so it appeared that there were multiple sources all coming to the same conclusion. Time and time again, investigators came up empty. Even several sting operations with an FBI spy we just learned about failed to produce a Delorean-like video with cash on the table. But rather than close the probe, the deep state just expanded it. All they had were a few isolated contacts with Russians and absolutely nothing related to Trump himself, yet they pressed forward. Egged on by Steele, they simply believed Trump and his team must be dirty. They just needed to dig deep enough...."

From "Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all" by Mark Penn (The Hill).

"Right now we’re living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy. No, there are not tanks in the streets, but what’s happening right now goes to the heart of who we are as a nation..."

"... and I say this not as a Democrat who lost an election but as an American afraid of losing a country. There are certain things that are so essential they should transcend politics. Waging a war on the rule of law and a free press, de-legitimizing elections, perpetrating shameless corruption and rejecting the idea that our leaders should be public servants undermines our national unity. And attacking truth and reason, evidence and facts should alarm us all."

Who knows whether all or some or none among the graduating class at Yale were alarmed when Hillary Clinton intoned those words? But I do note that somebody was sitting right there in the front row wearing a witch's hat...

So if we're doing witch hunts, I found one. I mean, I know there's a hat thing going on at Yale. the linked article (in the New Haven Register) does talk about it:
It is Class Day tradition for the seniors to wear silly, imaginative headgear and Clinton held up a Russian fur cap, saying, “I brought a hat too — a Russian hat. Look, I mean, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”
Join the Russians.

Meanwhile, at the other hyper-elite school: "Hillary Clinton will receive Harvard’s prestigious Radcliffe Medal for her 'transformative impact on society.'"

May 20, 2018

At the Flower Tree Café...


... you can talk about anything.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!"

The newest Donald Trump tweet.

Also this morning — in order from oldest to newest:
Things are really getting ridiculous. The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!

....At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption... the Hillary Clinton Campaign where she deleted 33,000 Emails, got $145,000,000 while Secretary of State, paid McCabes wife $700,000 (and got off the FBI hook along with Terry M) and so much more. Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam.

Now that the Witch Hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the rest of the World, they should easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party. Don’t worry about Dems FISA Abuse, missing Emails or Fraudulent Dossier!

What ever happened to the Server, at the center of so much Corruption, that the Democratic National Committee REFUSED to hand over to the hard charging (except in the case of Democrats) FBI? They broke into homes & offices early in the morning, but were afraid to take the Server?

....and why hasn’t the Podesta brother been charged and arrested, like others, after being forced to close down his very large and successful firm? Is it because he is a VERY well connected Democrat working in the Swamp of Washington, D.C.?

The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia - so now they’re looking at the rest of the World. Oh’ great!

"Will it soon be possible... to simulate the feeling of a spirit not attached to any particular physical form using virtual or augmented reality?"

"If so, a good place to start would be to figure out the minimal amount of body we need to feel a sense of self, especially in digital environments where more and more people may find themselves for work or play. It might be as little as a pair of hands and feet...."

From "In Virtual Reality, How Much Body Do You Need?/It might be as little as a pair of hands and feet, researchers in Japan found after recording subjects who wore an Oculus Rift headset." (NYT).

"Afro-pessimism and its treatment of withdrawal as transcendence is no less pleasing to white supremacy than Booker T. Washington’s strategic retreat into self-help."

"Afro-pessimism threatens no one, and white audiences confuse having been chastised with learning... My father used to say that integration had little to do with sitting next to white people and everything to do with black people gaining access to better neighborhoods, decent schools, their share. Life for blacks was not what it should be, but he saw that as a reason to keep on, not check out. I had no idea how much better things were than they had been when he was my age, he said.... A couple of decades later I was resenting my father speaking of my expatriate life as a black literary tradition, because I understood him to be saying that I wasn’t doing anything new and, by the way, there was no such thing as getting away from being black, or what others might pretend that meant. Black life is about the group, and even if we tell ourselves that we don’t care anymore that America glorifies the individual in order to disguise what is really happening, this remains a fundamental paradox in the organization of everyday life for a black person. Your head is not a safe space."

From "The Afro-Pessimist Temptation" by Darryl Pinckney in the New York Review of Books, reviewing "We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy" by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

"I had never heard the name 'Kelvin' before. There isn’t anyone who names their kid Kelvin... So when I thought more about it, I realized that no one else has this name. It became unique. Now we think it is better than Kevin."

From "Mom Changes Son’s Name After Tattoo Artist Misspells It on Her Arm" (People).
“The spelling did not look wrong to me at firs... For me, the text is upside-down so it’s in the right direction when I’m standing. It says Kelvin instead of Kevin. I didn’t think it was true.”
In the right direction when I’m standing.... As opposed to the right direction when she's sitting? Whatever. This tattoo thing is going to end someday... someday soon... right? It's such a pitfall for the stupid.

There's a wonderful verse in Proverbs: "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." But I say: No. Not if he has a tattoo. Now, give the Old Testament credit: It forbids tattoos. No tattoo and no talking and maybe you can keep your foolishness a secret.

There's also the aphorism, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." If you think Abraham Lincoln (or was it Mark Twain) said that, here's the Quote Investigator inquiry into the subject.

The ban on tattoos is Leviticus 19:28: "'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."

That makes me want to show you this from Lenny Bruce's autobiography, "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People":
I have a tattoo on my arm, and because of this tattoo, I can never be buried in a Jewish cemetery. That’s the Orthodox law. You have to go out of the world the same way you came in—no marks, no changes.

Anyway, I told how, when I got back from Malta and went home to Long Island, I was in the kitchen, washing with soap, and my Aunt Mema saw the tattoo. So she flips. A real Jewish yell.

“Look what you did! You ruined your arm! You’re no better than a gypsy!”

So the producer [of the Steve Allen TV show] says that I can’t do this on the show because it would definitely be offensive to the Jewish people....

I said if they wouldn’t let me do that, I wouldn’t do the show... They had a meeting about it. They argued for about an hour while I was kept waiting in a corner, like a leper with a bell on my neck.

“We talked it over, Lenny. You know, it’s not only offensive to the Jewish people, but it’s definitely offensive to the Gentile people too.”

“Oh, yeah—how do you figure that?”

“Well, what you’re saying in essence is that the Gentiles don’t care what they bury.”
By the way, you know what would be a great name for a kid? Celsius. For a boy, of course. If it's a girl, we're calling her Fahrenheidi.

"Meghan Markle's wedding was a rousing celebration of blackness."

A column at The Guardian by Afua Hirsh.
The sermon, delivered by the Episcopalian church leader the Rev Michael Curry, began with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr before enlightening the congregation on the wisdom of spirituals – traditional African American music rooted in the experience of slavery – and casting Jesus as a revolutionary. If there had been any doubts about what cultural experience Curry would bring to the service, they were swiftly and decisively answered....

Markle used her wedding to introduce her new peers to blackness. The teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.... The Kingdom gospel choir sang soul classic Stand By Me....

Markle’s choice was clear, and people responded. The wedding has transformed Windsor itself – a town only 20 miles from London but which, in its lack of visible diversity, can feel culturally thousands of kilometres away – that is suddenly full of people of colour. The day before the wedding, I saw African American women dressed in white lace dresses, some wearing tiaras, others wearing Meghan Markle masks....

[B]y allowing her wedding to be not just a pageant of tradition, but also a celebration of blackness, she’s started as I hope she means to go on.
Were those only "African American women" wearing the "Meghan Markle masks"? I kind of doubt it! First, how do you even know that people walking around in Britain are American? Or is "African American" a clumsy synonym for black? Second, I think a lot of white people were wearing Meghan Markle masks, and I'm wondering why that isn't a blackface problem rather than an advancement? Third, did the Meghan Markle masks really express anything about racial feeling? There were Prince Harry masks too. I'm reading "These Creepy Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Masks Prove British People Have No Chill" (at Life & Style):
Fans of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are putting their faces on cardboard and wearing them around town in anticipation for the actress to walk down the aisle, and TBH, it's creepy....

"Just saw a woman walking alone through market square with a Meghan Markle mask on, u ok?" one resident tweeted before another chimed in, "People dressed up as the royal family, one in a wedding dress wearing a Meghan Markle mask parading through Hugglescote. Do people not have jobs?"

"What are the US Democrats' big ideas?"

A column at BBC news (by Anthony Zurcher) based on an "Ideas Confererence" put on the Center for American Progress. The conference seems to reflect an awareness that Democrats are politically vulnerable because they are defined by what they are against and not what they are for. But reading this column, I wonder if they downplay what they are for because it isn't politically popular.

For example, under the heading "Minimum wage and 'freeloader fees'":
Sherrod Brown... pushed what he calls a "corporate freeloader fee" - imposing a penalty on companies with more than $100,000 in payroll taxes that do not pay their workers high enough wages to keep them off public assistance programmes.

Mr Brown and other Democrats also mentioned raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.15 an hour level, which was set in 2009. Some states have passed much higher minimum-wage levels.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said the federal government should guarantee Americans a job if they want one, which he said was not a "radical idea".

"Why not invest on the front-end with secure jobs so that you're not seeing negative impacts that come with low-employment or unemployment like foreclosures and evictions?" he asked.
The other headings are "Expanding public schooling" ("Who said that public education should be a right for everybody between [the ages of] five and 18, but not for those either before five or after 18?"), "Ethics, reform and oversight," "Dismantling the oligarchy" ("a 'substantial' increase of the estate tax"), and "Guns, the environment and healthcare."

"The mountain lion dragged the man into the woods as the survivor escaped on his bike to find help about 30 miles east of Seattle."

The Daily News reports.
The survivor told police the cat attacked him first.

"The second victim turned and started to run away," King County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said. "The cougar saw that and went after the second victim."
So in this case, running triggered the animal to abandon the prey it already had in its clutches and to prefer the running man.

Here's a Scientific American article from 2009, "Should You Run or Freeze When You See a Mountain Lion?/New study disputes conventional wisdom to stay put or risk triggering lion's instinct to pursue."
Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis,* studied the behavior of 185 people who were attacked by mountain lions (aka pumas or cougars) between 1890 and 2000 in the U.S. and Canada.... [H]alf of the 18 people who ran when they were attacked escaped injury. The study also found, however, that those who ran had a slightly higher chance of being killed in an attack—28 percent (five) of those who fled died as a result of injuries, compared with 23 percent (eight) of those who remained motionless during big cat attacks. About 39 percent, or 28 people, who moved away slowly when approached by a mountain lion escaped without injury.

On the other hand, people who froze were the least likely to escape injury when a mountain lion attacked. Only 26 percent of them escaped. They also had the greatest frequency of severe injuries: 43 percent of those who stood still in the face of a lion were badly injured compared with 17 percent of those who fled, according to the study.

"Immobility may be interpreted by the mountain lion as a sign that you are vulnerable prey," Coss tells, adding that not moving could lead the predator to think you're not aware of its presence or are incapable of escaping. Staring down a puma can let the animal know you’re aware it’s looking, though distance can reduce its effectiveness.

* The phrase "Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis" needs to be rewritten so that it doesn't seem that the "predator–prey relationships" are on the the University of California, Davis campus. Perhaps: "Richard Coss, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis who focuses on the evolution of predator–prey relationships."

"Texas school shooter killed girl who turned down his advances and embarrassed him in class, her mother says."

The L.A. Times reports.
One of [Dmitri] Pagourtzis' classmates who died in the attack, Shana Fisher, "had 4 months of problems from this boy," her mother, Sadie Rodriguez, wrote in a private message to the Los Angeles Times on Facebook. "He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no."

Pagourtzis continued to get more aggressive, and she finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class, Rodriguez said. "A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn't like," she wrote. "Shana being the first one." Rodriguez didn't say how she knew her daughter was the first victim.

May 19, 2018

At the Gray-Green Café...


... you can open up and talk about whatever you like.

What kind of state governor would say about a 17-year-old "He didn't have the courage to commit suicide"?

Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Whatever outrage you feel fired up or politically motivated to express, do not put that idea out there for young people to consume: Suicide is an act of courage.

There was a lot of this sort of thing.

Did anyone count the number of times Harry touched his face?

Nice dress. Tom and Lorenzo opine:
No one should care what these two queens think about wedding gowns, but this style has always been our favorite. It never ages badly. It will always look chic in pictures. From a personal-statement standpoint, we think this is very much of a piece with Meghan’s style, which has shown itself, post-engagement, to be minimalist and cleanly chic in tone. She’s not a gal who goes for a lot of foofaraw....
I wish everyone well.

I was up on my own naturally at 4 a.m., so I watched enough of the show to experience all sorts of feelings — squishy, tender, lofty, queasy... and I don't want to be awful... but Harry kept touching and rubbing his face and I just couldn't help thinking about Harry's mother and what I know about the thoughts that rushed through her head on that day that the world watched her bogus "fairytale" wedding.

So I'll stop here and say good luck to all the newlyweds of this world. I myself got married ago on a May 19th (45 years ago, in a marriage that lasted 14 years). You can watch all sorts of couples get married — people congregate to witness weddings — but you can't know what the marrying minds are thinking. Is it wrong to look at the outward signs that there is a big disconnect between the spoken words and real person who is enduring the theatrical ritual?