December 13, 2019

Observing "the gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face."

"It’s a young face, of course, with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones. It has catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. It looks at you coyly but blankly... distinctly white but ambiguously ethnic.... 'It’s Instagram Face, duh. It’s like an unrealistic sculpture. Volume on volume. A face that looks like it’s made out of clay.'... There was something strange, I said, about the racial aspect of Instagram Face—it was as if the algorithmic tendency to flatten everything into a composite of greatest hits had resulted in a beauty ideal that favored white women capable of manufacturing a look of rootless exoticism. 'Absolutely... We’re talking an overly tan skin tone, a South Asian influence with the brows and eye shape, an African-American influence with the lips, a Caucasian influence with the nose, a cheek structure that is predominantly Native American and Middle Eastern.... People are absolutely getting prettier... The world is so visual right now, and it’s only getting more visual, and people want to upgrade the way they relate to it.'"

From "THE AGE OF INSTAGRAM FACE/How social media, FaceTune, and plastic surgery created a single, cyborgian look" by Jia Tolentino (in The New Yorker). Nice animated illustration at the link.

That made me think of "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" — summarized, with clips, perfectly in less than 2 minutes, here:



"I don't want to be transformed! I want to stay ugly!"

The Judiciary Committee is voting on the impeachment.

Are you watching?

UPDATE: There was no need to watch. You knew what would happen. Grim, elongated voting — along party lines, entirely. Of course.

We watched on MSNBC, where the voiceover intoned: "And there you have it: History has been made." Somber commentators informed us that Trump has now been "held accountable" and that he has a mark on his record that will follow him everywhere.

"He announced his pronouns..."

"Nancy Pelosi just got duped in an interview to admitting that she has been working on impeaching me for 'two and a half years.'"

"In other words, she lied. This was the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats plan all along, long before the Ukraine phone call. Impeachment Hoax!"

Tweets Trump this morning. He doesn't link to an article or video with that quote or even say who the interviewer was or what was the question that "duped" her. I tried looking it up and was unsuccessful. Anybody know?

ADDED: Thanks to commenters who aimed me approximately here:
Politico’s Anna Palmer asked Pelosi to react to the criticism that Democrats are racing through their impeachment inquiry of the president.

“It’s been going on for 22 months, two-and-a-half years actually,” Pelosi said initially.

Then immediately made clear she was referring to the Mueller investigation.

“I think we are not moving with speed. Was it two and a half years ago they initiated the Mueller investigation? It’s not about speed. It’s about urgency. One of the charges against the president of the United States is that he was violating his oath of office by asking for government to interfere in our election undermining the integrity of our elections,” she said.

"We know that one Democratic candidate walked into a room of wealthy donors this year to promise that 'nothing would fundamentally change' if he’s president."

Said Elizabeth Warren yesterday, quoted in "The left's nightmare scenario is looking more believable" (WaPo). She was referring to Biden. She continued, referring to another candidate, but WaPo doesn't say who: "We know that another calls the people who raise a quarter-million dollars for him his 'National Investors Circle,' and he offers them regular phone calls and special access. When a candidate brags about how beholden he feels to a group of wealthy investors, our democracy is in serious trouble."

I looked it up: She was referring to Buttigieg.

"American Leftists Believed Corbyn’s Inevitable Victory Would Be Their Model."

A column by Jonathan Chait (at NY Magazine):
Both [Corbyn and Bernie Sanders] built youth-oriented movements led by cadres of radical activists who openly set out to destroy and remake their parties. Both lost in somewhat close fashion, Sanders in 2016 and Corbyn the next year. And fervent supporters of both men treated their narrow defeats as quasi-victories, proof of victory just around the corner....
There are many examples of this enthusiastic linkage of Corbyn and Sanders. Chait goes on:
Proceeding from the erroneous Marxist view that capitalism is growing more oppressive, and a working-class backlash is therefore inevitable, they glommed onto bits of data and ignored and large and growing array of evidence to the contrary....

Corbyn’s victory became a matter of faith, and its adherents continued to tout wisps of evidence for it even in the face of dismal polling....

Whether a more moderate Labour leader would have defeated Johnson – who is highly unpopular, yet still far less unpopular than Corbyn – is unknowable....
Funny when a "highly unpopular" person wins big.

Shall we avert our eyes?

None of the "top stories" at Vox is about impeachment...



... and 2 are about trees.

Tucked away at the bottom of the front page is one new story about impeachment, "Gaetz’s effort to make the impeachment hearing about Hunter Biden’s problems backfired spectacularly." There seems to be something about getting Gaetz today (I guess because he went after Hunter Biden). At WaPo, the second "most read" article is "Where is Matt Gaetz’s humanity?"

From the WaPo piece (a column by Dana Milbank):

"Under pressure over his possible impeachment, President Richard M. Nixon supposedly talked to the paintings in the White House. President Bill Clinton..."

"... absently toyed with his old campaign buttons. President Trump punches out Twitter messages in the lonely midnight hour. Long after his staff has gone home, long after the lights have gone out elsewhere around the capital, the besieged 45th president hunkers down in the upstairs residential portion of the Executive Mansion venting his frustration and cheering on his defenders through social media blasts."

Big news. The President tweets. A lot. When he's getting impeached and when he's not getting impeached.

But this is the NYT, assuring its readers that "For Trump, Impeachment May Be a Political Plus, but Also a Personal Humiliation." The anti-Trumpers know they're losing — he won't be removed and he's even benefiting politically — but damn it, at least they're humiliating him. The desire to humiliate — such a lowly emotion. And yet, the NYT is using it to pump up its despondent readers.

Subheadline: "As the House moves toward what even he says is an inevitable vote to impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors, President Trump toggles between self-pity and combativeness." Toggles! How do they get this detail on the inside of his head?

The fact is he's not doing anything special to impeachment — nothing like talking to paintings or fingering old buttons. It sounds like Trump continues to Trump, same as ever. In which case, he's not losing it. He's carrying on — bold and tough, fighting and seeming to enjoy and get energy from the fight.

By the way, is it true that Nixon talked to the paintings? The NYT avoids responsibility for fact checking with the word "supposedly." It's a story. They say he got to talking to paintings.

I did my own brief research on the topic and stopped when I came to a Frank Rich column in the NYT, titled "Has He Started Talking to the Walls?" The date is December 3, 2006. 2006 — it is not about Trump. The question that the NYT would like to aim at Trump was aimed, back then, at George W. Bush:
It turns out we’ve been reading the wrong Bob Woodward book to understand what’s going on with President Bush. The text we should be consulting instead is “The Final Days,” the Woodward-Bernstein account of Richard Nixon talking to the portraits on the White House walls while Watergate demolished his presidency. As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is....
So let's not forget: George Bush got the same treatment from the NYT.

Talking to paintings is a favorite way to say the President has gone mad. But Trump has tweeted all along. Nothing has changed. He hasn't gone anywhere. The tweeting is right there, a direct line from the President's brain to us, and we can see whether it's changed or not. Talking to paintings is something that a President does in isolation, withdrawing, and becoming abstracted — "untethered from reality." Tweeting is the opposite. It's totally connected and out in the open. It's something the President does with us — leaping over the press.

We don't have to wait for Bob Woodward to find out what happened behind the scenes. It's all already on the public stage. If the tweets are any crazier than before, we could see that — unless we've all gone crazy together and have grown accustomed to the weirdness — and we wouldn't need the NYT to tell us about it.

I just bought the Kindle version of "The Final Days" so I could see exactly what it said about Nixon talking to paintings. I think this is the only passage:
“The President . . . ” [Nixon's son-in-law Ed] Cox began. His voice rose momentarily. “The President was up walking the halls last night, talking to pictures of former Presidents—giving speeches and talking to the pictures on the wall.”
ADDED: Proofreading this post, I saw the answer to my question "How do they get this detail on the inside of his head?" It's: They're reading the same tweets that we are. They don't have special access to sources. They're simply interpreting the same tweets we get.

As I said, Trump has leaped over the press. It must be so annoying for them. Maybe they're talking to paintings. Maybe to a painting of George W. Bush: Oh, George! How I miss you now! How good you were to let us trash you for 8 years and never to stoop to attacking us, like your miserable successor!

"We broke the deadlock, we smashed the roadblock and a new dawn rises on a new day... getting Brexit done is the irrefutable, inarguable decision of the British people..."

"We will get Brexit done on time, by 31 January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes... put an end to those miserable threats of a second referendum," said Boris Johnson, quoted in The Sun, which has this front page displayed at Drudge:



Not sure what the dog symbolism there is, but don't let a dog put his tongue in your mouth. Does it have something to do with the non-Tories who crossed over and voted for Johnson to show they want Brexit? I understand the word "bollocks," and I'm guessing the "x" represents the x-mark on a ballot. If you listen to Johnson's speech (at the link) you'll hear him thank those nonconservatives who "lent" him their vote, and he talks about and gestures marking an "x" on the ballot. Is it The Sun characterizing these votes as saying "Bollocks!" to the resistance to Brexit? Still, why a dog?

I do some research. "Dog's bollocks" has an entry at Wikipedia. It's something irrelevant but interesting. It's this punctuation mark, which you can see in the Declaration of Independence:



Well... maybe the Declaration of Independence is a little bit relevant to Brexit, but there's no way the Sun's headline is about the old-timey punctuation mark.

Now, I see that there was a slogan "Bollocks to Brexit" in this last election. Obviously, that's the anti-Brexit side, the side that lost badly in yesterday's election. So the headline might want to express "Bollocks!" to the side that said "Bollocks to Brexit." Still, why a dog?

Maybe it's based on the idiom "a dog's breakfast." Fortunately, I have already done my research on "a dog's breakfast" — back in 2013. "A dog's breakfast" is just "a confused mess." But yesterday's election was very decisive, more a cleaning up of a confused mess than a confused mess. I abandon this line of thinking.

Googling, "dog brexit," I find "U.K. Holds A Pivotal General Election, And Voters Bring Their Dogs To The Polls" (NPR) and "Polling stations/Forget politics, focus on the puppies!" (Vox).

So, there you have it! Dogs are a symbol of voting in the UK, and that's been combined with the slogan "Bollocks to Brexit." The "dogs" (the people) voted for Brexit: — The "dog's" expression of "Bollocks!" went against those who were hoping to get the "dogs" to say "Bollocks to Brexit." The "x" drives home the idea that we're talking about voting.

IN THE COMMENTS: Nicholas said:
Ann, as an Englishman, let me help you out. The expression "the dog's bollocks" is pretty obscure and I cannot explain how it came into being, but sometime around the 90s, in laddish circles (i.e. typical readers of the Sun, which is like a simplified version of the NY Daily News) the expression began to be used as a term of approval and admiration. For example, a car that was "the dog's bollocks" was a car to be coveted and regarded as better than its competitors.
So... it's like "the bee's knees."
Attested since 1922, of unclear origin. There are several suggested origins, but it most likely arose in imitation of the numerous animal-related nonsense phrases popular in the 1920s such as the cat's pyjamas, cat's whiskers, cat's meow, gnat's elbow, monkey's eyebrows etc....
... the dog's bollocks.

It seems as though you can take any animal and add some body part (or — in the case of "the cat's pajamas" — an attribute that the animal doesn't even have).

December 12, 2019

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party appeared to be on course for a solid majority in the British Parliament...”

“... according to an exit poll. A victory in the general election on Thursday would cement Mr. Johnson’s claim to 10 Downing Street, paving the way for Britain’s exit from the European Union in less than two months. For the prime minister, whose brief tenure has been marked by legal reversals, scorched-earth politics and unrelenting chaos, it was an extraordinary vindication. Defying predictions that he would be tossed out of his job, Mr. Johnson now seems likely to lead Britain through its most momentous transition since World War II.”

The NYT reports.

About 10 minutes before sunrise, the gray sky took on lovely stripes of pink.

1. But I didn't stop to get a photograph. I kept running to my vantage point, but the pink was fading, and it was gone when I got there, still 2 minutes before sunrise.

2. Here's how it looked at 7:19:

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3. I need to learn to understand the sunrises that peak early and how quickly the color fades. If it's one with pre-sunrise pink, I need to stop and get the photograph... or just do what I did today, which is to watch it come and go in real time — a transient show just for me.

4. The ice was forming along the shore and beginning to build its way out. I got this photo at 7:23:

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5. It looked like crowded lily pads of ice. At 7:24:

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6. I was listening to this Joe Rogan podcast, which was kind of entertaining while I was walking, but once I started running and they got to going on and on about how the moon does not rotate, I couldn't take it anymore and switched to music — the usual playlist.

7. It was 27° — warmer than yesterday, but it felt colder. It wasn't windy, though. It was humid. Somehow humidity makes you hotter on a hot day, but it also makes you colder on a cold day. Water is crafty!

8. I got home and saw my front right tire had gone flat. So that was that flubbidy-dub sound we heard yesterday when we went out to buy bread. Nothing about the driving seemed wrong went I went out for my run. Ah, well!

9. The moon does rotate, and the tire will rotate, and everything will turn in its own good time.