November 12, 2019

Fire circle.


"Those eggs richly deserve to be crushed."

And here's the NYT article on today's oral argument, by Adam Liptak, "Supreme Court Appears Ready to Let Trump End DACA Program/The justices are considering whether the Trump administration can shut down a program that shields about 700,000 young immigrants from deportation." Excerpt:

"You have said before that you haven’t seen any of the 'Star Wars' films. Do you feel that affected your performance in any way?"

Variety asks Werner Herzog in "Werner Herzog on Why He Didn’t Need to See ‘Star Wars’ Films for ‘The Mandalorian’ Role" (The "The Mandalorian" is Disney’s live-action “Star Wars” series.)

No, it doesn’t really matter. You see, it was a very lively exchange, man-to-man so to speak, between Jon Favreau and myself. I was not tossed into unknown territory. I was very well briefed. I knew what was expected of me — I knew the interior landscape of the character and I knew the exterior landscape. You shouldn’t feel upset that I haven’t seen the “Star Wars” films; I hardly see any films. I read. I see two, three, maybe four films per year.
Asked if he watches television, he says:
I do, I watch the news from different sources. Sometimes I see things that are completely against my cultural nature. I was raised with Latin and Ancient Greek and poetry from Greek antiquity, but sometimes, just to see the world I live in, I watch “WrestleMania.”... You have to know what a good amount of the population is watching. Do not underestimate the Kardashians. As vulgar as they may be, it doesn’t matter that much, but you have to find some sort of orientation. As I always say, the poet must not close his eyes, must not avert them.
I like that — "The poet must not close his eyes, must not avert them." It's an idea I associate with another film director, Akira Kurosawa. Perhaps Herzog read the same obituary I read in 1998. I blogged about it in February 2004:
"To be an artist means never to avert one's eyes." On this topic of disgust and shock... let me share a passage from the obituary, written by Rick Lyman, for Akira Kurosawa, which is one of the most influential things I've read in my life....

"I tried to divert myself... from pondering what it would be like if my father died while I was sitting next to his bed, in a sleeper chair, wearing drawstring pajama bottoms and an 'Illmatic' T-shirt..."

"... with my stocking feet up on the extendable footrest and my iPad, in its keyboard case, open in my lap, writing a short film about Mr. Spock’s first day on the job. I wondered if I would see or otherwise sense the instant when the hundred billion neurons in my father’s brain abandoned the eighty-year feat of electrochemical legerdemain known as Robert Chabon, and the father I had loved so imperfectly, and by whom I had been so imperfectly loved, pulled off one last vanishing act. I can give you the exact date of the first time I ever saw Mr. Spock on TV, I said. September 15, 1967. Hmm, I had just started my fellowship at Albert Einstein. We were living in Flushing. So you would have been . . . ? Four. I must have sneaked out of bed, or come to ask for a glass of water. I didn’t know that it was Mr. Spock, or that you were watching 'Star Trek.' There was just this scary-looking guy with the ears and the eyebrows. A pointy-eared woman, too, with enormous hair. Super-scary music, two guys fighting in a place made out of rocks. One of them got his shirt slashed open... 'Amok Time' might not be the best, but I think it’s the most important, I said. How so? My father endured my disquisition with unusual forbearance. Like all our conversations from then on, this one was doomed to take place on my terms...."

From "The Final Frontier/I love Mr. Spock because he reminds me of you, I told my father. For the first time that night, I considered the possibility that he was going to survive it" by Michael Chabon (in The New Yorker).

"Michael Bloomberg is so wealthy he couldn’t fritter away his fortune, even if he tried. But he’ll make a good start if he spends $100 million or more..."

"... to win the Democratic presidential nomination. It’s a fruitless quest. He must be smart enough to know it... Still, the glittering prize of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. dazzles even the shrewdest eyes, and it may have dazzled Bloomberg’s. Running would be a rare mistake in a career that led him to vast riches and the mayoralty of America’s largest city.... The problem is that Bloomberg made the city safer by cracking down on petty criminals... and frisking lots of people to lessen gun violence. Those policies, begun under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and continued under Bloomberg, worked well—but... [b]eing strong on crime is the surest way to alienate today’s Democratic primary voters.... Bloomberg’s second problem is... that he is not embarrassed by his riches, that he made them in the financial sector, and that he opposes the activists’ anti-growth policies, such as the Green New Deal...  Bloomberg faces other problems, too. He is the opposite of charismatic.... a dull campaigner who opposes the left’s most ambitious programs. He has little support among minorities or public-sector unions. In today’s Democratic Party, that’s an awkward spot from which to seek the nomination."

That's from "Bloomberg Will Hit an Iceberg" by Charles Lipson, an emeritus polisci professor at the University of Chicago.

Isn't this the kind of naysaying the other billionaire attracted 4 years ago? I don't care what's in "today’s Democratic Party." I care about what will work for the people, and many of us don't feel like insiders to either party. Trump saw how to go straight to the people, barging right past the party regulars. Why can't Bloomberg do that too?

I see the black-people-hate-him argument is being used against Bloomberg. Just last week, the black-people-hate-him argument was used against Buttigieg.

Bloomberg could spend a billion dollars on his mission... and why not?! What else can he do in the few years he's got left on the planet? What else can he buy?  I'm not saying he's a big old narcissist, and I don't even think that about Trump. I think that, like Trump, he believes he has some answers and people have gone woefully astray. Bloomberg, with all that money, may think he can instruct us and get us back on a good, sensible track, away from all that left-wing craziness and out of the little hands of Donald Trump.

Why is this article — "New mothers who took leave in California were less likely to work a decade later than those who didn’t" —  illustrated with a photo of a father?

And why is this "A Surprising Finding"? It seems completely unsurprising.

The title on the article page is "A Surprising Finding on Paid Leave: 'This Is Not the Way We Teach This.'" It's surprising mainly because other studies had shown that paid leave would improve the chances that women would return to work. I guess logically you might think that not every parent takes leave and that the ones who would take unpaid leave are those who don't need money so much and might be likely to drop out of the working-for-money way of life. If there's paid leave, you'll get some people who need the money, so paid leave should swell the ranks of the parents-on-leave with people who need to work for money, and they'd be going back to work when the paid leave runs out.

The research looked at California women who took leave before the state required payment during leave and those who took leave after that point. In this large set of cases, women who got paid during parental leave were less likely to return to work.
The new paper is solid and the results plausible, said Maya Rossin-Slater, an economist at Stanford who has researched California’s program extensively. “They have fantastic data and large sample sizes relative to the prior papers, and that’s a big advance,” she said. “This paper cautions us that paid leave is not a silver bullet. There are other policy tools we need to implement.”
A silver bullet?!! Is the woman who chooses to stay home with her children a werewolf?!
[T]he researchers concluded, something about taking paid leave seems to have encouraged mothers to scale back at work and spend more time with their children.

Mothers who took the leave spent more time than those who didn’t reading to children, sharing meals with them and taking them on outings, the researchers found. They also had fewer children, consistent with the style of intensive parenting that entails investing lots of time and money in each child....
Maybe rational women, who respond to the incentive of paid leave, also analyze other aspects of life in economic terms and figure out the value of the work done in the home, the costs of going to work, and the good reasons to institute division of labor within the family, with only one parent engaged in  money-earning outside the home.  Maybe you get some perspective on life and economics when you've got the time to reflect and plan. When you're outside of the workplace, you may develop a sense of the meaning of life that isn't workplace-based? Does the government want that not to happen?!

In the end of the article, we get around to dad:
If the mother — but not the father — is out of work and doing most of the child care at the beginning, the division of labor could get locked in.... Just 15 percent of bonding leave claims in California in 2014 were by men, and the average man took just two or three days off. Men’s employment and earnings did not decline after they had a child.
I guess this is the place where we are not supposed to talk about gender. But if we really believe in gender, why isn't gender the explanation for why women are much more likely to take the home-based role in the division of labor? I've known men — cis-gender men — who've taken the home-based role, and these are men I greatly respect. I'm just saying that if gender has real meaning, then maternal nurturing is the ultimate in things that are not surprising.

Bacchanalia... Saturnalia... a theme begins to form on the blog this morning.

Like the ice on the lake as the temperature drops to 6°, there's a light crystallization of a theme. I like that, themes, forming early in the morning on the surface of the blog.

I said "Bacchanalia," referring to the traditional drunken rowdiness of a University of Wisconsin football game, writing at 6:32, in the second post of the day.

Meanwhile, in the previous post — the one where Matthew Dowd testily queried Scott Walker ("You do know that trees were stolen from a pagan holiday? And Christ wasn’t actually born on December 25th? It was a day celebrated by Roman pagans and taken over by the church in the fourth century. And that many faiths put up trees that aren’t Christians") — the commenter Michael P retorted:
Does Matthew Dowd know that Saturnalia was never on December 25th? It was on the 17th, later extended to be through the 23rd. The 25th was chosen for Christmas as allowing an easy excuse that they were merely extending Saturnalia. Does Matthew Dowd know that the people who prefer "Christmas" to "holiday season" are going to [be] spectacularly unreceptive to the argument that Christianity culturally appropriated a pagan Roman holiday?
Bacchanalia... Saturnalia... what's the difference? Well, obviously, there's Bacchus and there's Saturn. They were originally different festivals. You can use either word figuratively. Since the 1600s, "Saturnalia" (with or without the upper-case S) has meant "A bout or period of unrestrained revelry, overindulgence, licentiousness, or the like; an orgy; an orgiastic or extravagant display or celebration of something (cf. orgy n. 3b). In early use also: †a situation or period in which conventional norms are suspended or inverted (obsolete)" (OED). "Bacchanalia" has meant "Drunken revelry; a tippling bout, an orgy" since the 1600s.

Here's the Wikipedia article, "Bacchanalia." And here's the Wikipedia article "Saturnalia":
Saturnalia was the Roman equivalent to the earlier Greek holiday of Kronia...
The Romans stole it!
It held theological importance for some Romans, who saw it as a restoration of the ancient Golden Age, when the world was ruled by Saturn. The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry interpreted the freedom associated with Saturnalia as symbolizing the "freeing of souls into immortality". Saturnalia may have influenced some of the customs associated with later celebrations in western Europe occurring in midwinter, particularly traditions associated with Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Epiphany. In particular, the historical western European Christmas custom of electing a "Lord of Misrule" may have its roots in Saturnalia celebrations.
Lord of Misrule! I click on that link:

When Meade sent me this headline — "More than 75 fans ejected from Camp Randall Stadium during football game against Iowa"...

...  I glanced at it and moved on. Nothing to see there. Isn't that what always happens at University of Wisconsin football games? I've been living near the stadium for 3+ decades, and I've always regarded it as a place where revelers go and get rowdy. Bacchanalia!

Glancing at the headline again this morning, I'm thinking, oh, I don't know, maybe 75 fans ejected should alarm me (though the only thing that interests me here is how uninteresting it felt to me on first look). reports:
Seventy-six fans were ejected from the stadium and 13 were arrested during the game....
76? The headline says 75... oh... "More than 75..." OK... so... not fake news. 76 is, indeed, more than 75. As I'm puzzling over these numbers out loud, Meade is adding a level of difficulty to my blogging by singing — loudly — "More than 75 trombones led the big parade/With more than a hundred & nine cornets close at hand...."

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker re-named the state capitol "holiday tree" the "Christrmas tree," and the new governor, Tony Evers, renamed it back to "holiday tree"... and declared that it would "celebrate... science."

Students are always invited to make ornaments for this tree, and this year, the invitation — from the Governor — was "to make holiday ornaments that celebrate what science means to them, their families and their communities" — HuffPo reports.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called it “‘PC’ garbage,” while Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tweeted: “We all know it’s a Christmas tree no matter what @GovEvers calls it.”

But Walker had the biggest reaction, firing off multiple tweets, including these...
You'd expect something really harshly judgmental to follow, but it's just a photo of a very conventional Christmas tree in a private residence and the line "This is a Christmas Tree that is used by people celebrating Christmas πŸŽ„ / This is not a holiday tree." There's a second tweet: "Type this word on your iPhone and look what emoji comes up: Christmas πŸŽ„" — which seems to be a new form of the kind of quip that goes if you look X up in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Y.

The HuffPo article proceeds to embed 12 tweets reacting to Scott Walker. 11 are from "blue check mark" people. The best one is the one that's not a blue check marker: "Oh, is it War on Christmas season again? Already? It seems to start earlier every year... πŸ™„"

I'll just feature the blue check mark person Matthew Dowd — because I have a tag for him and because he's using that asshole tactic of being informative:
You do know that trees were stolen from a pagan holiday? And Christ wasn’t actually born on December 25th? It was a day celebrated by Roman pagans and taken over by the church in the fourth century. And that many faiths put up trees that aren’t Christians.
Stolen! Does Matthew Dowd know that stollen is a traditional German fruit and nut cake that is popular in Wisconsin during the Christmas season? Does Matthew Dowd understand that all culture and tradition is handed down and borrowed and adapted and that it sounds very mean to say "stolen" and it's triggering when the homophone "stollen" is the very cake we share amongst ourselves at Christmastime in the hinterlands of Wisconsin?

CC-Ulrich van Stipriaan

HuffPo has nothing about the science theme given to — imposed on — the children this year. The tree becomes a free-speech forum for the children, and it would violate free speech to have viewpoint discrimination, so how can there be a science limitation on the ornaments? Presumably, the ornaments will be accepted even if they express the idea that "what science means to them" is that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so you could believe in him and have everlasting life.

Has the Tony Evers science tree attracted any litigation? I haven't looked. I hope not. Can't we all be generous and kind during the dark cold weeks that are so well stocked with holidays... like raisins in stollen?

November 11, 2019

"Everlasting love" to every veteran.

All of the money...

I don't think that's how "money" works, but OK, Bloomberg.