July 20, 2018

At the Reader's Café...


... you can read and write all night.

(And think of using the old Althouse Portal to Amazon. I myself used Amazon today. I bought some vanilla extract. I put it in plain yogurt, along with some Sucradrops, to make a low-carb meal-dessert.)

"NINE members of the same family are among 17 killed in duck-boat tragedy, as survivors reveal how they were TRAPPED inside the boat as it sank and were 'sucked' under as they tried to swim away."

The Daily Mail reports.
Family confirmed the death of grandmother Leslie Dennison, who had been on the boat with her 12-year-old granddaughter Alicia... [Alicia] said she could feel Leslie pushing her up as the boat filled with water. 'She said her grandmother saved her,' he told the paper....

Harrowing footage taken by others on a different boat nearby showed their small vessel bobbing up and down in the water as water climbed up its sides. A severe storm warning was issued by local agencies at 6.30pm, 30 minutes before the boat got into trouble....

"Notes found in one of the diaries hint that a strong belief that supernatural forces would intervene and save them could have motivated the family to hang themselves."

BBC reports, in "Were occult practices behind India's 'house of mass hangings'?"
The notes in the diaries laid out exactly how the family [of 11] needed to "hang themselves" before they were to be saved. Many of these "instructions" appear to have been carried out... The diaries also said the family needed to cover their eyes and mouths with a cloth during the "ritual". It also specified certain rituals to be performed for seven consecutive days before the "final day". The rituals, it said, would "invoke the spirit" which would ask them to "complete" the task the following day. The notes also said that his mother, Devi, should be "made to go to sleep" in the next room if she "can't stand". It mentioned the time of the "final act" - between midnight and 1am. It also said on that day the "earth would tremble and the sky would shake and it is then that I will come to rescue you".

Police said they are still trying to understand if or why the rest of the family went along with the plans. They believe it is possible that the Chundawat family was suffering from "shared psychotic disorder".... [B]ased on footage from CCTV cameras installed around the neighbourhood, police suspect that the "ritual" mentioned in the notes could have begun on 26 June when one member of the family met a temple priest.
"Temple priest" — what religion are we talking about here? Maybe I missed it, but I don't think any religion is specified. I can see wanting to protect religions from association with this horror, but I don't think facts this significant should be suppressed in a news report.

Here's another report, in The Hindi, with much more detail:

The "indigenous man in the hole" — the last survivor of an uncontacted Amazon tribe — who has lived alone for at least 22 years.

"Semi-naked and swinging an axe vigorously as he fells a tree, the man, believed to be in his 50s, has never been filmed so clearly before and appears to be in excellent health."
“He is very well, hunting, maintaining some plantations of papaya, corn,” said Altair Algayer, a regional coordinator for the Brazilian government indigenous agency Funai in the Amazon state of Rondônia, who was with the team who filmed the footage from a distance. “He has good health and a good physical shape doing all those exercises.”...

Loggers, farmers and land grabbers murdered and expelled indigenous populations in the area in the 1970s and 1980s, and the man is believed to be the only survivor of a group of six killed during an attack by farmers in 1995. He was first located in 1996 and has been monitored by Funai ever since.

Funai has a policy of avoiding contact with isolated groups and has protected his area since the 1990s. The indigenous reserve of Tanaru was legally set up in 2015. Axes, machetes and seeds traditionally planted by indigenous people have been left for the man to find, Algayer said, but he clearly wants nothing to do with mainstream society.

“I understand his decision,” said Algayer. “It is his sign of resistance, and a little repudiation, hate, knowing the story he went through.”
They read his mind, this poor man who's been alone so long. How could they know what he feels is hate and not fear and that his desire is to resist and that he is not endlessly hoping for a friend?

"I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretences."

"It doesn’t necessarily mean that he knows this, or that he is considering any great alternative. It could just be an accident...."

Said Henry Kissinger, quoted in The Financial Times, which picks out a different quote for the title, "Henry Kissinger: ‘We are in a very, very grave period.'"

The FT editor talking to Kissinger is Edward Luce, and he sets the scene:
By now we are on to the coffee. Mine is a double espresso. Kissinger has mint tea. ... 
He paraphrases his own questions, then gives a verbatim quote from Kissinger:
You are worried about the future. However, you believe there is a non-trivial chance that Trump could accidentally scare us into reinventing the rules-based order that we used to take for granted. Is that a fair summary?

“I think we are in a very, very grave period for the world,” Kissinger replies. “I have conducted innumerable summit meetings, so they didn’t learn this one [Helsinki] from me.”

It is clear he will not elaborate further.
Is it a very, very grave period because of Trump or is Trump the hope of getting out of the grave circumstance?
I ask him which period he would liken to today. Kissinger talks about his experience as a freshly minted citizen in US uniform serving in the second world war....
I just have to say that if I were editing this article, I'd never allow the phrase "freshly minted citizen" to appear so close to "mint tea." "Mint" is a word at the unusualness level where you can't reuse it to refer to something else. The mint tea was real, so that's the "mint" that should stay. The "mint" in "freshly minted citizen" is a metaphor, comparing a human being to a coin and evoking an image of stamping that person into a new form. I wouldn't write that even if Kissinger had sipped camomile tea.

"Following former Obama administration CIA Director John Brennan on Twitter, we see his animus nakedly on display."

"He is demented by hatred. Is this really the public role a former Director of the CIA is to be playing?... It is easy to forget the critical role played by Brennan in the still mysterious origin of the counterintelligence investigation that culminated in the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel," writes Scott Johnson at Power Line. He includes a long excerpt from Kim Strassel, including:
Mr. Brennan has taken credit for launching the Trump investigation... [B]y his own testimony, he as an Obama-Clinton partisan was pushing information to the FBI and pressuring it to act.

More notable, Mr. Brennan then took the lead on shaping the narrative that Russia was interfering in the election specifically to help Mr. Trump—which quickly evolved into the Trump-collusion narrative. Team Clinton was eager to make the claim, especially in light of the Democratic National Committee server hack...

The CIA director couldn’t himself go public with his Clinton spin—he lacked the support of the intelligence community and had to be careful not to be seen interfering in U.S. politics. So what to do? He called Harry Reid.... [who then] wrote a letter to Mr. Comey, which of course immediately became public. “The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” wrote Mr. Reid, going on to float Team Clinton’s Russians-are-helping-Trump theory. Mr. Reid publicly divulged at least one of the allegations contained in the infamous Steele dossier, insisting that the FBI use “every resource available to investigate this matter.”

The Reid letter marked the first official blast of the Brennan-Clinton collusion narrative into the open....

"I’m trying to talk about Iran! I’m trying to talk about Valerie Jarrett about the Iran deal! That’s what my tweet was about! I thought the bitch was white, goddammit! I thought the bitch was white! Fuck!"

Via Page Six, which is just telling us what Roseanne Barr put up on on her own YouTube page. The explanation at the YouTube page is: "Roseanne, like always, cuts through the bullshit and gets the heart of the matter."

I note the replica of the Venus of Willendorf in the lower right corner of the screen.

From Jarrett's Wikipedia page, you see her connection to Iran:
Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran, during the Pahlavi dynasty, to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara T. Bowman. Her father, a pathologist and geneticist, ran a hospital for children in Shiraz in 1956 as part of a program where American physicians and agricultural experts sought to help in the health and farming efforts of developing countries. When she was five years old, the family moved to London for a year, later moving to Chicago in 1963.
It is believable that someone would assume Jarrett had Iranian ancestry. But:
Her parents are both of European and African-American descent. On the television series Finding Your Roots, DNA testing indicated that Jarrett is of 49% European, 46% African, and 5% Native American descent. Among her European roots, she was found to have French and Scottish ancestry....
So, Jarrett was born in Iran but not of Iranian ancestry. I'll leave it to you to think about whether Iranian people are properly referred to as "white."

A more promising topic: The get-Roseanne movement had little to do with real concern about racism. But was it more about suppressing criticism of the Iran deal (and protecting Obama) or more about using whatever was most convenient to make a pariah out of this conspicuous Trump supporter?

"One of the great victories of the tech industry was insisting that if you didn’t love its products, and by extension the companies themselves, you were not fit [as a reporter] to cover it."

"I never understood how that edict gained traction. We don’t think that crooks make the best crime reporters. I took my inspiration from writers I admired — Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Don DeLillo, Barry Malzberg. They were all low-tech people. Le Guin didn’t drive. DeLillo doesn’t do email. Dick barely left his apartment. Malzberg lives in New Jersey. Yet they foresaw how technology would reshape society better than any of the geniuses in Silicon Valley. 'What technology can do becomes what we need it to do,' DeLillo said. Le Guin observed: 'The internet just invites crap from people.' Those quotes sum up the last 20 years."

Said David Streitfield, interviewed in "When a Tech Reporter Doesn’t Use Much Tech" (NYT).

"For an hour on Saturdays, a British supermarket chain is introducing a weekly 'quieter hour' aimed at helping people with autism have a better shopping experience by easing sensory overload."

"The move by the supermarket, Morrisons... has been welcomed by the National Autistic Society, which says that even small changes can make a big difference in the lives of people with autism and their families. Morrisons’s effort is part of the National Autistic Society’s 'Too Much Information' campaign: Last year, more than 5,000 retailers across Britain participated in 'Autism Hour.'... Movie theaters in Britain have also introduced similar initiatives, hosting 'autism-friendly screenings' by reducing stimulation and sound...."

The NYT reports.

From the store's website, here are the changes during "Quieter Hours":
Dim the lights
Turn music and radio off
Avoid making tannoy announcements
Reduce movement of trolleys and baskets
Turn checkout beeps and other electrical noises down
Place a poster outside to tell customers it’s Quieter Hour
I wonder how many nonautistic customers would prefer to shop in the quieter, dimmer environment? The people with autism have a higher sensitivity level about something that might be stressful and burdensome for all of us. I'm not autistic, but I'd prefer to shop during the Quieter Hour, described above. Notice that they don't exclude the nonautistic. They just acknowledge that their normal shopping environment is very noisy, confusing, and ugly, and are doing something about it, every once in a while.

By the way, what are "tannoy announcements"?
Tannoy Ltd is a British manufacturer of loudspeakers and public-address (PA) systems.... The term "tannoy" is used generically in colloquial English in some places to mean any public-address system or even as a verb - to "tannoy", particularly those used for announcements in public places; although the word is a registered trademark, it has become a genericised trademark...
Used as a verb, the internal word "annoy" is even more obvious. And it's not as though the company is named after some person named Tannoy. It was made up out of tantalum alloy (a material used in manufacturing the product). There must be better ways to abbreviate those 2 words, but maybe they did want their customers to think about using a PA system to annoy people.

Tantalum, the element, is named after Tantalus, the Greek mythological figure who is known mainly for his eternal punishment:
Tantalus was initially known for having been welcomed to Zeus' table in Olympus.... There he is said to have misbehaved and stolen ambrosia and nectar to bring it back to his people, and revealed the secrets of the gods. Most famously, Tantalus offered up his son, Pelops, as a sacrifice. He cut Pelops up, boiled him, and served him up in a banquet for the gods....

Tantalus's punishment for his act... was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any....
That's the source of the word "tantalize."

"President Trump plans to invite President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to visit Washington in the fall, the White House said Thursday..."

"... an invitation that stunned the nation’s top intelligence official, who said he was still groping for details of what the two leaders had discussed in their encounter this week in Helsinki, Finland. 'Say that again,' the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, replied when Andrea Mitchell of NBC broke the news while interviewing him at a security conference in Aspen, Colo. 'O.K.,' Mr. Coats said, taking a deep breath and chuckling awkwardly. 'That’s going to be special.'...  [T]o Mr. Coats, who has been at odds with Mr. Trump about whether Russia meddled in the election, the prospect of another one-on-one encounter was clearly rattling...."

That's how the NYT reports the news, featuring characterizations of the vocalizations and breathing patterns of Dan Coats. But you can characterize it yourself (albeit under the influence of the anxiety-marimba music layered in by the NYT):

Why is Coats chuckling on stage with Andrea Mitchell? He seems to be playing to the audience and doing some sort of theater of everyone knowing that the President is — what? — weird/crazy/his own sort of guy?

By the way, if Trump were actually treasonous or colluding with The Enemy or exposing us to grave danger, it wouldn't be something to chuckle over! So, obviously Coats knows much more about it all that we do, and he's chuckling for the crowd, not holed up at work desperately trying to save us from destruction.

President Trump's poll numbers have gone up in the days after the Putin summit.

That's from Real Clear Politics, "President Trump Job Approval." Click the image for a clearer, sharper version. Look at the dates and compare the same poll. The summit was on the 16th.

Economist/YouGov took a poll for 3 days, including the summit day and the day after, and got a -8 spread, which isn't high, but if you look at its previous poll, the number was -9, so it was a 1-point improvement. The Reuters poll is partly after the summit, and the number is -12, up from -16. He's also rising in the Gallup poll but there, the newest poll (at -9, compared to an earlier -15) is all pre-summit.

Why would this be? It might be that the Trump critics sound so antagonistic that they seem less credible (or less watchable) than usual. Connected to that is the possibility that people want better relations with Russia and want to feel hopeful about improvements. Maybe people sense that the President is the voice of the nation with respect to foreign relations and accept the reality that Trump is the President.

Inside the 2,000-year-old, 30-ton sarcophagus found recently in Alexandria, Egypt.

If they'd kept it closed, we could still be fantasizing about the glories or monstrous evil within, but they had to open it. The NYT reports:
Inside were three skeletons floating in foul-smelling sewage that had leaked into the vessel from the road above through a small crack in the sarcophagus, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities.

July 19, 2018

At the No Photo Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

"Some people throw the dog in the car and have him turned into a eunuch because they don’t care. But there’s a certain segment of pet owners that do care..."

"... and that’s where Neuticles come in. And it’s not only canines and felines. We’ve done an elephant, we’ve done prairie dogs. I Neuticled a monkey in Pocahontas, Ark., and a colony of rats for the University of Louisiana."

Said Gregg A. Miller, inventor of Neuticles, quoted in "The Secret Price of Pets/The care and feeding of America’s 'fur babies' has grown increasingly baroque" (NYT).

That's from a couple weeks ago. I ran across it today because I was searching (after reading that New Yorker article) for more info about whether CBD products have any serious therapeutic value. So, there's also this:
Dogs and cats are indulging in cannabis as well, and not just by getting into their owners’ weed brownies. 
Ugh! I don't find that funny at all. Chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs. But let's keep going:
Start-up companies are marketing CBD, or cannabidiol (a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis), in the form of pet treats, sprays, even lip balms that provide relief, they promise, from ailments including anxiety and cancer.

“There are a hundred claims for what it does,” said Lynn Hirshfield, whose Los Angeles-based business Leafy Dog makes peanut butter and grain-free CBD pet treats. “Can I send you some biscuits for Miles?”
The stupidity hurts. For one thing... lip balm? Do dogs and cats even have lips?

"Ben, who tweets from the handle @BenIsYourHero and declined to give his full name, found the image in a closed Facebook group called 'Incels say the darndest things,' a gathering place..."

"... where users mock and argue against the work of the 'involuntary celibate' community. Soon, his tweet went semi-viral, popping up on blogs, anti-incel Tumblrs, and incel subreddits."

From "Incel Memes Aren’t a Joke/How playful propaganda can mask a dangerous and toxic culture" (Slate).

"Michelle Obama Launches Splashy New Midterm Effort, but Not the One Democrats Wanted."

That's the headline at Slate, so I watched the video to see if I could figure out what's so unwanted about Michelle's effort:

I could only find 2 things wrong with it: 1. Bad acting (everyone reading their lines sounded like somebody reading lines), and 2. They looked like they were handing out iPads (so distracting!).

But that's not Slate's problem. Slate's problem is that it's framed as nothing but a registration and get-out-the-vote campaign. Slate wants Michelle to get out there in support of Democratic Party candidates:
She’s capable of uncorking a stemwinder when the situation calls for it, as she demonstrated multiple times during the 2016 campaign. She’d be natural on the stump next to a wide range of Democratic candidates, particularly many of the record number of women running for the House this year.
As proof that she can uncork a stemwinder — stupid mixed metaphor — Slate links to Michelle's speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016.
And when [Hillary] didn't win the nomination eight years ago, she didn't get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments.... What I admire most about Hillary is that she... never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life....

"New York’s CBD craze has already reached Dadaesque levels of consumerism—hundred-dollar tinctures to treat anxiety in pet cats and dogs; CBD-laced room service at the NoMad location of the James hotel, in Manhattan."

Explains Rachel Symes (at The New Yorker).
Like many New Yorkers, I tend to be deeply wary of the nouveau-wellness movement that has crept into the city from L.A., with its Goopian buzzwords and mushroom tonics and colloidal silver—the idea that you can shop your way to an internal glow... But CBD, with its potential to unclench tense muscles and pacify anxious thoughts, also promises to deliver something that many New Yorkers desperately need....
CBD is the hemp derivative that New Yorkers can have because it's so low in THC that it doesn't get you high. So what does it do?
Yasmin Hurd, a doctor at Mount Sinai who uses four-hundred- to eight-hundred-milligram doses to study CBD’s benefit in opioid-addiction treatment, told me that hoping for therapeutic effects from a dosage as low as what’s found in commercial products like CBD coffees, which tend to contain only around twenty-five milligrams, is “ridiculous.”...

Not long ago, I purchased a small bottle of “full spectrum hemp extract”... It cost twenty-five dollars and contained two hundred and fifty milligrams of CBD.
So... buy 2 and for $50, you'll have Dr. Hurd's idea of a dose. Until then, as long as you believe, you'll always have the placebo effect.



Link. Click image for a clearer view.

For more discussion of that song, read my old post called "The Anxiety Clown."

"Her custom was..to come into the dining-room to him in her treason-gown, (as I called it,) I telling him, that when she had that gown on, he should allow her to say anything."

It sounds a little like "And when you're a star... you can do anything," doesn't it?

The quote is from "Memoirs of the court of England : during the reign of the Stuarts, including the protectorate by Jesse, John Heneage, 1815-1874":
I found that through the Oxford English Dictionary, where I was researching the word "treason," because I'm seeing some people using it to denounce Donald Trump and other people insisting it has only a very narrow meaning that obviously cannot apply.

I'm keeping my distance from the hysteria of the day. Oh? Does "hysteria" have a special narrow meaning to which I ought to confine myself?
The theory of a wandering uterus was developed in Ancient Greece, being mentioned in many sections of the Hippocratic treatise "Diseases of Women". Plato talks of the uterus as a separate being inside women, while Aretaeus described it as "an animal within an animal" (less emotively, "a living thing inside a living thing"), which causes symptoms by wandering around a woman's body putting pressure on other organs. The standard cure for this "hysterical suffocation" was scent therapy, in which good smells were placed under a woman's genitals and bad odors at the nose, while sneezing could be also induced to drive the uterus back to its correct place....  
I decline the confinement and will go wandering, like an errant womb.

"Treason," according to the OED, is "The action of betraying; betrayal of the trust undertaken by or reposed in any one; breach of faith, treacherous action, treachery." The use of the word hinges on an understand of the trust, the faith. All politicians take on a trust and all are continually subject to the accusation that they are betraying it. It's a strong-sounding word, but a speaker can choose to let loose with a strong word, and it's for the listener to decide how excited to get about it. I've heard too many strong words in the last 2 years, and they have very little effect on me now.

"Tempers flare at meeting on whether to keep police in Madison high schools."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports on last night's public meeting of the ad hoc school board committee:
David Blaska, a conservative former Dane County Board supervisor, was the first person to speak during the public comment period, and he was among a handful of people at the meeting in support of keeping school-based police officers.... As soon as Blaska’s allotted three minutes to speak were up, loud jeering erupted from the audience....

“Ain’t no amount of training, ain’t no amount of special certificates is going to matter when it comes to black and brown kids, because (police officers) see us as thugs and criminals,” said Bianca Gomez, a member of Freedom Inc., an activist organization focused on issues that affect minority populations.

As Blaska attempted to capture the public comment on his cellphone, others took issue with juvenile speakers being recorded and attempted to block his view by either standing in front of him or putting objects in front of his phone, alleging he runs a racist blog where the youths’ photos would be posted.

Blaska moved about the meeting room... and others continued to follow along and block his phone.

The emotions culminated in a heated face-to-face argument between a woman who had earlier spoke [sic] in support of EROs [education resource officers] and some people wishing to remove EROs....
Here's Blaska's post from a couple days ago, "Madison school board is put on notice/David Blaska will not be denied his right of free speech" with a letter from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty that accuses the committee of violating his rights at the previous public meeting:
Our client intends to speak at the July 18, 2018, meeting. As you know, if a public body invites public comment, it cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination among those who wish to speak – even if other members of the public wish the public body to do so. At the last meeting of the ad hoc committee on Wednesday, June 20, other members of the audience heckled Mr. Blaska during his public comment and he was not allowed the full three minutes allotted him. An organized group of protestors interrupted his comments several times with signs and rehearsed chants such as “Silence white supremacy!” His ability to speak and be heard was finally halted completely by a loud and sustained chant: “Get Him Out! Get Him Out!”
I blogged about that earlier meeting here. I said: "The committee members do nothing to push back the intimidation or to protect Blaska's right to speak to the group."

And here's Blaska's post from yesterday showing 15 questions he had for the committee, including #15:
[Committee chairman Dean] Loumos, you have permitted a small group to disrupt and bully this committee for 16 months without demanding order or civility. You meet at 4 p.m. which precludes working people from attending as if the chaos wasn’t enough to deter citizen participation. You accuse the one speaker in favor of keeping the EROs in school of using “code words.”
It sounds as though Blaska was given his opportunity to speak for his full 3 minutes this time and the jeering and heckling came afterwards, providing lots of opportunity for Blaska to gather the video that will make his antagonists look awful.

On the subject of photographing "youths" and posting the video on line, I just want to say once again that I oppose the use of children in politics and would like to protect them, but if they are allowed to participate in public hearing where government officials are deliberating important policy matters that will affect the community, they cannot be insulated from exposure and criticism. Either in or out. There's no special limbo for youths who are inserting themselves in politics. If there were, there would be even more exploitation of children in politics.