November 15, 2018

At the Automat Café...

... let's do lunch.

"In a trend that is not new or surprising, white women seem to be adopting the features of black women on social media in their quest..."

"... to develop themselves as models and influencers. The most recent iteration of this is Swedish Instagram model Emma Hallberg, who shocked some of her followers when they realized she was white.... Hallberg, for her part, has denied trying to intentionally look black; one Twitter user posted what appears to be a DM conversation with the influencer, in which she wrote, 'I’m white and I never claimed to be anything else… I’m NOT "posing" as a colored person as you claim.'... 'I do not see myself as anything else than white,' she added. 'I get a deep tan naturally from the sun.'... For Deja, this widespread behavior isn’t at all surprising, nor is the fact that white women are garnering hundreds of thousands of fans from it. 'Any non-black or white person that has taken black culture and profited off of it is typically never phased [sic] when called out nor will stop,' she wrote."

From "Swedish Instagram Model Insists She’s Not Pretending to Be Black" (New York Magazine).

If you need to see to judge, here's a picture of Hallberg:

Does that "phase" you?

Urban Dictionary prefers that definition of "phase":

You might think the intended word is properly spelled "faze," but Urban Dictionary will push you back:

I blame "Star Trek" with its "phasers."

But let's talk about "garnering" — "white women are garnering hundreds of thousands of fans." I just have a thing about that word. I know it's not as profound as other people's concern about skin darkened not by genetics or the sun but by makeup, but it's a special thing of mine and I can't let it pass. If you're ever considering using the verb "garner," please stop and ask yourself whether you have some ridiculous notion that "get" is not a word and that you'll seem more creditable for using this silly word that originally had to do with storing grain in a place called a "garner." All right, then, back to your racial high jinks. Enjoy the rest of your day.

"Was I really outraged by SNL? Really offended? Or did I just think the comment about losing my eye was offensive?"

"There is a difference, after all. I have been literally shot at before, and I wasn’t outraged. Why start now? So I didn’t demand an apology and I didn’t call for anyone to be fired. That doesn’t mean the 'war . . . or whatever' line was acceptable, but I didn’t have to fan the flames of outrage, either.... How, then, do we live together in this world of differing ideas? For starters, let’s agree that the ideas are fair game. If you think my idea is awful, you should say as much. But there is a difference between attacking an idea and attacking the person behind that idea. Labeling someone as an '-ist' who believes in an '-ism' because of the person’s policy preference is just a shortcut to playground-style name-calling, cloaked in political terminology. It’s also generally a good indication that the attacker doesn’t have a solid argument and needs a way to end debate before it has even begun.... When all else fails, try asking for forgiveness, or granting it. On Saturday, Pete Davidson and SNL made amends. I had some fun. Everyone generally agreed that a veteran’s wounds aren’t fair game for comedy. Maybe now we should all try to work toward restoring civility to public debate."

From "SNL mocked my appearance. Here’s why I didn’t demand an apology" by Dan Crenshaw (WaPo).

This might be the first example I've found of a call to civility that I'm not going to immediately categorize as civility bullshit.

"Saudi Arabia seeks death penalty for five suspects in killing of Jamal Khashoggi"/"Saudi Arabia distances crown prince from killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

The front page headline and the top-of-the-article headline in The Washington Post.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince had no knowledge of the operation, Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said during a news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. He said that 11 suspects had been indicted and that the authorities were seeking the death penalty for five of them. The order to kill Khashoggi, who had criticized the Saudi monarchy over the last year, had come from the leader of the Saudi team in Istanbul, Shaalan said, without naming any of the suspects.

Prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb’s conclusion — that the murder was authorized by a minor official — contradicted assertions by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has said that the orders to kill Khashoggi had come from “the highest levels of the Saudi government,” without specifying exactly who was responsible.

"Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, has denied allegations of domestic violence after his arrest near his ritzy Los Angeles skyscraper apartment."

"'I have never struck a woman, I never will strike a woman,' Avenatti told reporters Wednesday after being booked and posting $50,000 bail. Avenatti said he has been an advocate for women's rights his entire career and is confident that he will be exonerated.... Earlier, he released a statement through his law firm slamming the allegation as 'completely bogus' and intended to harm his reputation...."

From The Chicago Tribune.

You say you've been an advocate for women's rights, but are you also an advocate of the rights of the accused? You should be. I am. And I want you to have all your due process rights.

Also, the public advocacy for women's rights might have something to do with how you treat women in private, but not all that much. I'm not even sure which way it goes. Some people who speak publicly and grandiosely about abstract rights have big problems in the concrete specifics of their personal lives. Charlie Rose. Bill Clinton. Some of these big advocates make me wonder: What are they overcompensating for?

ADDED: From the TMZ report:
We're told security brought her inside the building, took her upstairs and Michael showed up 5 minutes later and ran into the building. He screamed repeatedly, "She hit me first." We're told he angrily added, "This is bulls***, this is f***ing bulls***." We're told he tried getting into the elevator but security denied him access.
"She hit me first" is inconsistent with "I have never struck a woman."

"The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts."

"They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t... how many lives the ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!"

Tweets Trump this morning.

Also in the Trump Twitter feed this morning: "The White House is running very smoothly and the results for our Nation are obviously very good. We are the envy of the world. But anytime I even think about making changes, the FAKE NEWS MEDIA goes crazy, always seeking to make us look as bad as possible! Very dishonest!"

Chop Suey sells for $91.9 million.

"The 1929 'Chop Suey,' described by Christie’s as 'the most iconic Hopper left in private hands,' depicts two women sitting across the table from each other in a Chinese eatery" (Bloomberg).
“‘Chop Suey’ is an icon and it belongs in a museum,” said Heinrich zu Hohenlohe, a dealer based in Berlin who attended the auction. “As a dealer I see this as an opportunity, of course. As a citizen of the world, I see it as a cop-out.”
Yes. Truly. I agree.

"UW-La Crosse chancellor says he was 'naive' in booking porn star, will reimburse university."

The LaCrosse Tribune reports.
"I’m writing to let you know how sorry I am for the sensationalistic media attention UW-L has received as a result of a speaker I brought to campus to help us celebrate Free Speech Week,” Gow said in a statement, obtained by the Tribune on Monday. “Regrettably, in many media headlines and accounts the speaker’s profession completely overwhelmed her message,” he continued. “I admit that in inviting her to present at our university I was naive about this possibility, and I have learned much from it.”...

On Nov. 1, [the "porn star" Nina] Hartley spoke to about 70 students and staff at Centennial Hall.... “The word ‘pornography’ has such a pejorative connotation — it’s been caught up in a lot of emotionally charged conversations,” Hartley said. “It’s OK to like porn. It’s OK to not like porn. And it’s OK to be confused by porn. You are where you are, and you are who you are.”
Hartley is on the board of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, which supports sexual freedom. She's lectured at Harvard and Dartmouth and commands a $5,000 speaking fee. She's for free speech, not giving her speech for free. I'd prefer to see her defended as a legitimate speaker. But...
Gow has... fended off questions about why the university was tight-lipped about Hartley’s appearance, especially since it was tied to National Freedom of Speech Week. The event did not appear on the university’s online events calendar and, unlike many events, was not made known to the press....
Those questions still need answering. Reimbursing the fee isn't an answer.

November 14, 2018

At the Breakfast Club Café...

... what are you seeing as you want to see — in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions?

CNN: "Trump says he's not a racist. That's not how white nationalists see it."

"White supremacists are saying they were winners in last week's midterm elections."

Why did some Wisconsin high school boys give what looks like a Nazi salute in the prom photos.

This explanation makes sense of it, and I would let these boys have their lives back:

Here's what I'm seeing in my local paper: "Twitter recap: World's eyes on Baraboo High School after Nazi salute photo goes viral."

Here's the ending of "The Breakfast Club," and here's the famous freeze-frame gesture that, we're told, the photographer wanted to get from the boys:

If I understand the explanation given, some of the boys didn't understand and the photographer, in the course of explaining, extended his arm to point to a section of the group, and his pointing gesture happened to look like the Nazi salute, and some of the boys believed the photographer was demonstrating the gesture he wanted. I would accept that explanation, in the spirit of mercy, and end the grotesque titillation of this viral interlude and stop exploiting young people for idle entertainment and propagation of fear of racism. It's incredibly stupid, but hey look, the "Breakfast Club" statue is giving the Nazi salute:

ADDED: Raise your hand at your own peril. In the freeze-frame, those looking for Nazi salutes may see Nazi salutes:

"Scientists behind a major study that claimed the Earth's oceans are warming faster than previously thought now say their work contained inadvertent errors..."

"... that made their conclusions seem more certain than they actually are. Two weeks after the high-profile study was published in the journal Nature, its authors have submitted corrections to the publication. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, home to several of the researchers involved, also noted the problems in the scientists' work and corrected a news release on its website, which previously had asserted that the study detailed how the Earth’s oceans 'have absorbed 60 percent more heat than previously thought.'... The central conclusion of the study... is in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions...."

WaPo reports. 

I wonder how much overstatement of certain happens because of a pull to see things "in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions." Can someone study that — in an unbiased, scientific way?

ADDED: The most-liked comments at WaPo are in line with other WaPo most-liked comments and therefore exactly what I expected.

Trump's racial rhetoric flares up again.

He tweets: "It was my great honor to host a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, in the Roosevelt Room at the @WhiteHouse this afternoon. Very, very special people!"

We are all equal, Mr. Trump. There are no very, very special people.

"A group of LGBT migrants who were part of the massive caravan slowly marching toward the U.S. made it to the coastal border city of Tijuana on Sunday."

Reports NPR. I'm surprised to see NPR using the word "marching," which reinforces the idea that the caravan is an invading army. But maybe the NPR writer is thinking of something more like a civil rights march. We're told this group of 80, "the majority of whom identify as LGBT, splintered off from the larger group in Mexico City after weeks of what they say was discriminatory treatment by local residents and other travelers."
The LGBT migrants gravitated toward one another within the caravan and began organizing en route.... "When we entered Mexican territory, those organizations began to help us. We did not contact them; they learned from our group thanks to the media and decided to help us," [Honduran migrant Cesar] Mejia said.

On Sunday the group arrived at an upscale neighborhood called Coronado in Playas de Tijuana just a few miles from the San Diego port of entry.... "We want to do things in order, in the right way," Mejia told reporters. He said the LGBT group plans to request asylum at the San Ysidro or Otay Mesa ports of entry. "We are waiting for our representatives," he added.

If it's true that "Trump's Talk of Caravan 'Invasion' Disappears After Midterms"....


... which is what I'm seeing on MSNBC right now, then the question is not merely why did Trump stop talking about it, but why does MSNBC want to bring it up? I think the answer to both questions is easy, and the answer to the second question is valuable even if it turns out that Trump hasn't stopped talking about the "Caravan 'Invasion.'" MSNBC wants a daily influx raw material that can be manufactured into the proposition that Trump is a racist whose power comes from racists wanting more racism. Trump's talk of the "Caravan 'Invasion'" worked as that raw material for MSNBC and now Trump's lack of talk works to the same end.

As I said 2 days ago:
It reminds me of a little game I used to play with my sons when they were adolescents called What if you had to argue? It challenged you to argue for a proposition that isn't true and doesn't even make sense. The game showed again and again — and comically — that you can state arguments for anything. I feel as though the press is playing a game of What if you had to argue? and the proposition is always The last thing Trump did is outrageous. But it's not a known and understood comical exercise. It's the only press we have.
So the proposition is Trump is a racist whose power comes from racists wanting more racism. MSNBC looks at what new material is available. When the material was that Trump was talking about the "Caravan 'Invasion,'" and MSNBC used that to argue for the proposition. But when the material is that Trump hasn't talked about the "Caravan 'Invasion'" in the last few days, MSNBC will use that material to argue for the proposition. If Trump now talks about the "Caravan 'Invasion,'" MSNBC will continue to play What if you had to argue? and the talk, like the previous silence, will show that Trump is a racist whose power comes from racists wanting more racism.

November 13, 2018

At the Tuesday Night Café...

... you can talk about anything you want.

"Amazon Is Getting $1.5 Billion to Come to Queens."

The NYT questions whether it's worth it for New York to hand the big corporation all that money.
“Either you are creating jobs or you are losing jobs,” said [Governor Andrew] Cuomo. “This is a competition.”

Added [Mayor Bill] de Blasio, “We had an unprecedented opportunity to add to the number of jobs.”c....

But as the details emerge, many expressed anger that the costs — in crowded subways, rising home prices, strained sewers and actual state and city tax dollars — could far outweigh the benefits of possibly 25,000 new workers making an average of $100,000.

“We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this,” Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will represent a neighboring Queens community, wrote on Twitter. “The community’s response? Outrage.”

This John Kelly replacement candidate, Nick Ayers, looks so much like a young Donald Trump.

I'm looking at "Top Pence aide resurfaces as leading candidate to replace John Kelly/Nick Ayers, Pence’s chief of staff, was initially seen as a potential Kelly successor this summer" (Politico). I can see what Trump sees in him:

Perfecting Audrey Hepburn...

... using the the Photoshop Surgeon Perfection Mask:

"When his book came out last year, I saluted Flake for doing something politically contraindicated and Rubicon-crossing, establishing himself..."

"... as the first Republican senator to call President Trump the domestic and international menace that he is. I applauded him for describing the president’s tweets as 'all noise and no signal' and for daring to charge his administration with Orwellian doublespeak, 'dividing us along fissures of truth and falsity and keeping us in a kind of low-level dread.' I said that Flake’s book had rhetorical power. But looking back on it, it didn’t. Jeff Flake’s book couldn’t even convince Jeff Flake. As of this writing, he has voted with Trump 84 percent of the time... It wasn’t that I was too kind to Flake when his book came out. It was that I mischaracterized his book altogether. 'Conscience of a Conservative' was not a cri de coeur, a critique of Trump, an analysis of the sorry state of our politics or an invitation to recommit to Goldwater’s philosophy. It was a relic. It was a bit of quixotica. It was a tragedy."

From "I Take Back My Praise of Jeff Flake’s Book" by Jennifer Senior (NYT).