July 23, 2019

"In those conditions high heat and high exercise, the body will overheat no matter how well hydrated. At at body temp of 105..."

"... Heat Stroke occurs and all manner of body systems fail. Bottom line, do not exercise in high heat days. Above 80 degrees F and 80 percent humidity and equivalent, the body cannot lose the heat it generates in exercise and will overheat. One function that goes first is judgement. We get hot and can not realize we are in danger."

A comment written by a doctor on "Hyperthermia contributed to death of woman, 32, hiking Billy Goat Trail, officials say" (WaPo). The Billy Goat trail is a 2-mile trail, and the woman had difficulty one half mile into it. She was given plenty of water — 4 bottles — one of the companions was a nurse, and 911 was called quickly. The temperature was in the high 90s, with a "feels like" temperature (including humidity) of 110 degrees.

Another commenter: "The park warned people. I was there that day and there were big signs at the Visitor Center as well as the trailheads saying to avoid the Billy Goat A trail due to the heat. Signs also advised carrying 2L water per person. A volunteer stationed at the trailhead advised people about the conditions. He said only 20% of hikers carried water. No matter how much the park warns visitors, some will walk around barricades, step over ropes, ignore signs, and blaze new trails to get around any kind of obstacle."

"Mr. Krassner was writing freelance pieces for Mad magazine in 1958 when he realized that there was no equivalent satirical publication for adults..."

"... Mad, he could see, was largely targeted at teenagers. So he started The Realist out of the Mad offices, and it began regular monthly publication. By 1967 its circulation had peaked at 100,000. 'I had no role models and no competition, just an open field mined with taboos waiting to be exploded,' Mr. Krassner wrote in his autobiography.... The Realist’s most famous article was one Mr. Krassner wrote portraying Lyndon B. Johnson as sexually penetrating a bullet wound in John F. Kennedy’s neck while accompanying the assassinated president’s body back to Washington on Air Force One. The headline of the article was 'The Parts That Were Left Out of the Kennedy Book,' and it claimed — falsely — to be material that had been removed from William Manchester’s book 'The Death of a President.' 'People across the country believed — if only for a moment — that an act of presidential necrophilia had taken place,' Mr. Krassner told an interviewer in 1995. 'The imagery was so shocking, it broke through the notion that the war in Vietnam was being conducted by sane men.'...  In 1967, Mr. Krassner, [Abbie] Hoffman and friends formed an organization to meld hippies and earnest political types. Mr. Krassner dreamed up the name Youth International Party — Yippie for short. Their theatrical shenanigans included streaming to Washington to 'levitate' the Pentagon and organizing a nighttime 'yip-in' at Grand Central Terminal to celebrate spring; it drew some 3,000 revelers, prompting nightstick-swinging police officers to charge the crowd and arrest 17 as protesters yelled 'Fascists!' The press seemed transfixed by their antics. 'It was mutual manipulation,' Mr. Krassner said, reflecting on his life in an interview for this obituary in 2016. 'We gave them good stories and sound bites, and they gave us free publicity.'"

From "Paul Krassner, Anarchist, Prankster and a Yippies Founder, Dies at 87" (NYT). What a towering figure in American culture!

And what a fantastic origin story:
Paul was a violin prodigy, playing a Vivaldi concerto at Carnegie Hall when he was 6, but he gave up practicing regularly because he found his instructor too controlling. Still, he traced his bent for humor to that Carnegie Hall recital. When in midperformance he tried to soothe an itch in his left leg by scratching it with his right foot, the audience burst out laughing, and he realized he loved that sound more than the applause for his playing.
By the way, in the first post of the morning, we were talking about a Nate Silver tweet that contained the line, "There are so many subtle ways that [Mayer's New Yorker article] seeks to manipulate the reader into taking Franken's side." Compare that to Krassner's line, "It was mutual manipulation," which I think we can assume is an intentional evocation of "mutual masturbation."

"It was mutual manipulation. We gave them good stories and sound bites, and they gave us free publicity" — Krassner was talking about the 60s but speaking in 2016. The NYT interviewed him for his obituary when he was 85.  I'd love to see the whole transcript!

"You'll be all right now, I know it w- AAAAAAAAAAAAA..."

"David Hedison, who starred in the original sci-fi classic 'The Fly' [1958] and appeared in two James Bond films, has died. He was 92" (Fox News).

ADDED: "Help me!" (Spoiler alert):

"Unlike Full Internet People, who grew up with the internet and never questioned its social potential, Semis tend to assume..."

"... that conveying the entire social meaning of a message is better accomplished by a voice conversation, whether in person or (to the barely disguised panic of Full Internet People) in a phone call.... But the phone itself was once a profoundly disruptive technology for the English language (and presumably for other languages, too, though this book’s focus is English). As [Gretchen] McCulloch explains [in 'Because Internet/Understand the New Rules of Language'], simply settling on a standard greeting made for acute confusion. What initially started as a battle between 'ahoy' and 'hello' (another contender was 'what is wanted?' — my new phone greeting) was eventually resolved in favor of 'hello'; the word has the same origins as 'holler,' and was used at the time as a call for attention. 'Hello' later became an acceptable greeting for all kinds of interactions, but it took a while for it to lose its whiff of impertinence. Now 'hello' is not just polite but even a bit formal, compared with a nonchalant 'hi!' or 'hey!'"

From the NYT book review "Why Has Language Changed So Much So Fast? 'Because Internet.'"

I don't think this looks like a particularly astute book (or review) but I'm blogging this because I thought it was funny to refer to people as "Semis" — I doubt if that will catch on — and because it got me looking up "Hello" in the Oxford English Dictionary. The adoption of "hello" as the word for answering the phone is traced back to 1877, when Thomas Edison wrote in a letter, "I do not think we shall need a call bell as Hello! can be heard 10 to 20 feet away. What you think?"

But "hello" — the word used to attract attention — is traced back to 1826 (and I love this quote):
1826 Norwich (Conn.) Courier 18 Oct. 4 Hello, Jim! I'll tell you what: I've a sharp knife and feel as if I'd like to cut up something or other.
The next quote also amuses me:
1833 Sketches & Eccentricities Col. David Crockett (new ed.) xiii. 168 I seed a white man walking off with my plate. I says, ‘Hello, mister, bring back my plate.’
The OED includes this modern-day example:
2003 R. Gervais & S. Merchant Office: Scripts 2nd Ser. Episode 1. 47 Sorry. Can I have a—hello—can I have a quick word with everyone?
Here's the full Davy Crockett context:

Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 8.20.18 AM

Now, that's language!

A "master class in biased reporting"? Seems like pretty normal biased reporting to me.

One reason I rarely do Twitter is that it doesn't look right to me to make comments on things you don't link to or even cite. You just assume people know what you're talking about. It seems a tad mental. If you did this in real-life conversations, it would be weird.

Embedding these 2 tweets on my blog, I now feel that I should explain the context and link to the Jane Mayer article about Al Franken (yes, it's Al Franken, not some other Franken). Of course, if I were writing a mainstream news article, I'd have to say Al Franken, the former Senator from Minnesota who was... oh, it's too tedious to spell out.... I enjoy the freedom of not having to do that, but I resist the freedom of Twitter, to just blurt out my latest thought with no preface, no context.

Anyway, we talked about the Al Franken article yesterday, here. The idea that it wouldn't be biased never crossed my mind, so it's hard for me to see anything as subtle. The interesting question is therefore why Nate Silver chose this occasion to call out a journalist for using skill to manipulate readers. And Silver's tweet is just as much of a "master class" in bias, just as "subtle" in its effort to bias readers.

Silver sees the use of quotation marks around "zero tolerance" as a nudge to think of Kirsten Gillibrand as "sloganeering" or hypocritical, but did he even check to see whether The New Yorker is simply following its own convention of copy editing? I searched The New Yorker archive for "zero tolerance" and "#MeToo" and found:

"The Transformation of Sexual-Harassment Law Will Be Double-Faced," by Jeannie Suk Gersen (December 2017): "And, echoing their successful student counterparts over the past several years, the men will claim in court that the pressure to implement a 'zero tolerance' policy against harassment led employers to act without sufficient investigation or proper process, motivated by the employees’ male gender."

"Can Hollywood Change Its Ways?/In the wake of scandal, the movie industry reckons with its past and its future" by Dana Goodyear (January 2018): "In the past, men who got caught used a magic spell: 'I am an alcoholic/sex addict and am seeking treatment.'... [T]he magic spell no longer works. In its place is the righteous meme of 'zero tolerance.'"

Now, it might be that The New Yorker generally disapproves of a "zero tolerance" approach, but would that cause it to adopt quotation marks? The New Yorker has a special reputation for copy editing. I've read the copy editor's book, "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen." Excerpt:
Lu taught me to do without hyphens when a word is in quotation marks, unless the word is always hyphenated; the quotation marks alone hold the words together, and it would be overkill to link them with a hyphen as well. (Capital letters and italics work the same way.) Eleanor once mystified me by putting a hyphen in “blue stained glass” to make it “blue-stained glass.”
That may explain why New Yorker articles about Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy leave off the quotation marks:

"What the Bible Really Says About Trump’s Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy" by James Carroll (June 2018): "Attorney General Jeff Sessions invokes the Bible to justify the heinous zero-tolerance immigration policy, which incarcerates children."

"Will Anyone in the Trump Administration Ever Be Held Accountable for the Zero-Tolerance Policy?" by Jonathan Blitzer (August 2018): "The failure of the zero-tolerance policy has done little, if anything, to diminish the group’s standing; on the contrary, Miller has only seemed to gain allies in the government."

I strongly doubt that The New Yorker disapproves of Gillibrand's staunch feminism more than Trump's approach to illegal immigration.

But there is a fine point of punctuation here. When you write "zero-tolerance policy," you're using the phrase "zero tolerance" as an adjective, and — as the indented passage above explains — you need to "hold the words together." You could use either quote marks or a hyphen, and I think the idea is that the hyphen looks less fussy. But in the quote about Gillibrand — "a feminist champion of 'zero tolerance' toward sexual impropriety" — "zero tolerance" isn't used as an adjective, so a hyphen isn't an option — unless you reword it as "a feminist champion of a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual impropriety."

Since rewording is an option, it was possible to avoid the "air quotes" effect of making it seem as though Gillibrand is some sort of demagogue. But to switch to a hyphen would be to treat #MeToo non-tolerance the same as Trump's immigration non-tolerance. Would that improve the treatment of Gillibrand? Maybe these are 2 different ways of subtly attacking someone, and there's some sexism in the choice. Gillibrand is disparaged as ditzy — using a dumb slogan. Trump is disparaged as a cruel oppressor.

Enough of that. Here's something subtle that I think neither Silver nor Mayer considered. To champion "'Zero tolerance' toward sexual impropriety" is NOT zero tolerance! The word "impropriety" drains the absolutism from "zero." What are we going to call "improper"? It's subjective, and the answer can be: Whatever we won't tolerate at all. Flexible.

And since we've come this far, we might as well see the subjectivity and flexibility in "sexual" and "tolerance." Is intensely sniffy neck-nuzzling "sexual"? Analysis of Joe Biden's behavior toward young girls has generally led to the answer no. And "tolerance" can mean doing nothing at all. Suppose we eradicate "tolerance" — and I do take "zero" seriously. That could mean only that we stop doing nothing at all. We could end the state of tolerance by simply expressing disapproval, something as mild as: I see what you're doing and I find it unacceptable.

July 22, 2019

At the Ugly Flower Café...


... you do you.

"Me telling you to 'Go back where you came from. Did I say that? Is it on video?.... I called you a lazy b-i-t-c-h. That's the worst thing I said."

"This woman is playing the victim for political purposes because she is a state legislator. I'm a Democrat and will vote Democrat for the rest of my life, so call me whatever you want to believe. For her political purposes, make it black, white, brown, whatever. It is untrue."

I'm reading "State lawmaker, man she accused of verbally harassing her confront each other" (WSB-TV Atlanta).

I got there via Andy Ngo ("Media machine has been blowing up story of @itsericathomas, who claims a racist white man told her to 'go back where you came from.' Well, he returns during her presser to deny allegation. He says he’s a Democrat & she’s embellishing story for attention"). Erica Thomas is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.

Here's the raw video:

Trump tweets a tweet to get the week started.

"Good erotica is hard to write; graceful and convincing audio drama is hard to produce; and the awkwardness of flawed attempts at both is excruciating."

"Think of the wrong-note sex scenes you’ve read in books, or in those bad-sex-writing awards that come out every year, or in excerpts from embarrassing novels by disgraced public figures. Reading them silently, you might chuckle and wince. Now imagine a stranger’s voice unctuously reading them right into your ears. The only appropriate response is heebie-jeebies. But there was a startling exception... Dipsea... [In one Dipsea story, the female character] sounds present, non-creepy; she avoids the pitfalls of over-obvious self-description... Her narration doesn’t use an 'Ooh—sex is around the corner!' tone.... The language is straightforward... You hear realistic, non-gross sex noises—the depressing yips and 'Oh, yeah's of porn are almost entirely absent on Dipsea.... Narrative balance and a well-imagined scenario can be hard to achieve in fantasy, even [when you're doing your own fantasizing]. The comedian Jen Kirkman, on her 2007 album 'Self Help,' articulates this in a bit called 'Underdeveloped Sexual Fantasies.' In sexual fantasizing, 'Guys need a visual,' she says. 'Women don’t need that. I need a story.' But if the story doesn’t work, she says, she gets confused and falls asleep. She tries fantasizing about a sexy movie star, but she can’t just think about him '“in some friggin’ vacuum that makes no sense'—How did she meet him? Why is he interested in her? 'I thought he was married. Is he still married? Because I don’t want to be an adulterer,' she goes on. 'I thought he lived in France. Is he visiting? Am I going to France?'"

Writes Sarah Larson in "The Audio App That’s Transforming Erotica" (The New Yorker).

"Those on the left have been going over how we’re supposed to feel about him for decades, but in the arguing about it, we have been asked to focus again and again on Clinton and his dick and what he did or didn’t do with it."

"The questions we’ve asked ourselves and one another have become defining. Are we morally compromised in our defense of him or sexually uptight in our condemnation? Are we shills for having not believed he should have resigned, or doing the bidding of a vindictive right wing if we say that, in retrospect, he probably should have?"

Writes Rebecca Traister, in "Who Was Jeffrey Epstein Calling? A close study of his circle — social, professional, transactional — reveals a damning portrait of elite New York" (a long compendium by the editors of New York Magazine). Traister continues:
Meanwhile, how much energy and time have been spent circling round this man and how we’ve felt about him, when in fact his behaviors were symptomatic of far broader and more damaging assumptions about men, power, and access to — as Trump has so memorably voiced it — pussies?
You wouldn't have spent all that time if you'd been consistent in the first place. Anyone who cared at all about feminism back then already knew the "far broader" picture! That is feminism. If you'd put feminism over party politics at the time, you'd have easily processed the Clinton story long ago.
After all, Clinton was elected president during a period that may turn out to be an aberration, just as the kinds of dominating, sexually aggressive behaviors that had been norms for his West Wing predecessors had become officially unacceptable, and 24 years before those behaviors would again become a presidential norm. So yes, Clinton got in trouble, yet still managed to sail out of office beloved by many, his reputation as the Big Dog mostly only enhanced by revelations of his exploits.
I don't understand the logic of this "After all... So yes" rhetoric. I feel that I'd need to rewrite those 2 sentences to begin to understand them. I invite your efforts. Here's mine: Although Clinton became President after America had officially rejected sexual harassment in the workplace, many people gave him a pass and even loved him more because he did it anyway.
But the election of Trump over Clinton’s wife, and the broad conversation around sexual assault and harassment that has erupted in its wake, has recast his behavior more profoundly.
Ha ha. What's "profound" about partisan politics? It's not profound. It's laughably shallow!
The buffoonery, the smallness and tantrums of Trump, has helped make clear what always should have been: that the out-of-control behavior toward women by powerful men, the lack of self-control or amount of self-regard that undergirded their reckless treatment of women, spoke not of virility or authority but of their immaturity.
To "undergird" is to fasten something securely from the under-side. According to this sentence, lack of self-control undergirded recklessness. When I see writing like this, my hypothesis is that the writer is declining to be straightforward. Here's my paraphrase: Things that are perfectly visible go in and out of focus depending on what you want to see.

"Holding his head in his hands, he said, 'I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims.'"

"Yet, he added, being on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which he fervently supports, has led him to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of Internet-fuelled outrage. He told me that his therapist had likened his experience to 'what happens when primates are shunned and humiliated by the rest of the other primates.' Their reaction, Franken said, with a mirthless laugh, 'is I’m going to die alone in the jungle.'... 'I can’t go anywhere without people reminding me of this, usually with some version of You shouldn’t have resigned,' Franken said. He appreciates the support, but such comments torment him about his departure from the Senate. He tends to respond curtly, 'Yup.' When I asked him if he truly regretted his decision to resign, he said, 'Oh, yeah. Absolutely.' He wishes that he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, as he had requested, allowing him to marshal facts that countered the narrative aired in the press.... A remarkable number of Franken’s Senate colleagues have regrets about their own roles in his fall."

Writes Jane Mayer in "The Case of Al Franken/A close look at the accusations against the former senator" (The New Yorker). Seven  of Franken’s Senate colleagues went on record with Mayer: Patrick Leahy, Heidi Heitkamp, Tammy Duckworth, Angus King, Jeff Merkley, Bill Nelson (“I realized almost right away I’d made a mistake. I felt terrible. I should have stood up for due process to render what it’s supposed to—the truth”), Tom Udall, Harry Reid (“It’s terrible what happened to him. It was unfair. It took the legs out from under him. He was a very fine senator”).

This is a long article. Let me just also excerpt the part where Franken weeps and Kirsten Gillibrand's new statements: