August 17, 2018

"A recent study out of the University of Kansas found that it takes about 50 hours of socializing to go from acquaintance to casual friend..."

"... an additional 40 hours to become a 'real' friend, and a total of 200 hours to become a close friend.  If that sounds like too much effort, reviving dormant social ties can be especially rewarding... And if all else fails, you could start randomly confiding in people you don’t know that well in hopes of letting the tail wag the relational dog. Self-disclosure makes us more likable, and as a bonus, we are more inclined to like those to whom we have bared our soul.... [M]ost of us are stumbling through the world pining for companionship that could be easily provided by the lonesome stumblers all around us."

From "How to Make Friends, According to Science" (The Atlantic).

200 hours!

"I don't really care. Do you?"

The top-rated comment on the long NYT article "Melania Trump, a Mysterious First Lady, Weathers a Chaotic White House."

The only thing we need care about are:

a) The Red Juice from the Dark Sarcophagus
b) The Cursed Ancient Egyptian Disease Cheese

Anything else is unimportant.

In a way, it is liberating. A dark terrible liberation, but liberation nevertheless.

"My childhood memory is like a murky, creepy liar. However, some things are crystal clear..."

"... like when my father would drive me to figure skating practice and I would look at my own hands in my lap and think: 'Who is that? How long will I be stuck in this charade? How long do I have to be trapped in me?' It seemed unendurable. I started emotionally doubling, being a me who lives in reality with other humans while simultaneously being a me that feels above all that, untethered and floating. I always believed that 'life' only applied to me in a superficial way, as something unimportant to be endured. Emotionally doubling let me — made me — hold hands with James and have sex with James and put up with James at all. I have always had romantic relationships because it seemed easier than not having them. It was so much more work to say, 'No thanks.'"

From "For 13 Days, I Believed Him/Can a relationship built on lies ultimately be good for you?" a NYT "Modern Love" essay that I liked a lot, by Zuzanna Szadkowski (an actress). Szadkowski was 36 when the transformation she describes in this essay happened. A similar thing (not identical!) thing happened to me at about that age — a realization that the "observer" me had to be the same me who acted in the world, not some more knowing and wise person. I had to concentrate on becoming thoroughly aware that there was not some acting-in-the-world me who didn't know everything that I knew. You may ask how could I have gotten into that state, but first make sure that you're not in it. How would you know? I mean, how would you know?

"What’s the best thing about white people?"

"I thought this painting was finished in 2014... It ended up as an abstract piece that took ages to complete due to the intricate, worm-like patterns that filled the canvas."

"I was not able to appreciate or bond with the piece at that time, it was a struggle to complete and I was not satisfied with the end result at all. I had no idea what compelled me to paint it, or what it was trying to say, and it was shelved in my studio, where it rested in this unsatisfactory state for many months. Little did I realise that all would be revealed soon enough, and that this painting was being influenced by other beings.... In the summer of 2013, I went to stay in a traditional Bwiti village in the jungles of Gabon, ... Despite this seemingly bad news, I now understand the blessing of being infected with Loa Loa.... Now that I look back, I realise how strange and interesting it was to have my artwork subconsciously guided by a bunch of creative worms. It has made me wonder who the artist is, really?"

Writes Ben Taylor. Images of paintings at the link.

"3 in 4 Chance Democrats win control (74.6%)/1 in 4 Chance Republicans keep control (25.4%)."

FiveThirtyEight has numbers and graphics to help you visualize the electoral future.

Military parades are always political theater, but this one was purely a rhetorical game — set up and won by Trump.

"Trump Takes Credit For Cancellation of His Own ‘Ridiculously’ Expensive Military Parade" — Mediate scoffs — but Trump is right. Full credit due. I never thought this military parade was going to happen. Trump lured his antagonists into looking like they were attacking the military and then, in an effort to make him look bad, getting the price jacked up to an atrocious $92 million, which was just the move that he needed them to make to justify cancellation and then to blame them for obstructing what would have been a glorious patriotic display — a display that, as ever, exists only in the mind.

Trump's tweets this morning:
The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it. Never let someone hold you up! I will instead...

....attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date, & go to the Paris parade, celebrating the end of the War, on November 11th. Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN. Now we can buy some more jet fighters!
Cost of the parade that never happens, a rock bottom $0. Political reward: priceless.

"I have always assumed, casually, that Trump has used the word."

"To suppose that he didn’t would be to imagine that a real-life Archie Bunker didn’t—Trump is, after all, of the same white, salt-of-the-earth Queens stock as that character, with the same sense of what real America is. I recall a man who worked with me on a summer job at a seafood market in the ’80s. On Fridays, the store would feature whiting, a fish especially popular with black people. One of the employees had misspelled whiting on the sign, and this Trumpesque fellow chuckled, unaware that I was within earshot, 'Doesn’t matter—n*****s can’t read anyway.'"

Writes John McWhorter in "Trump and the N Word/It’s not the word that matters—it’s the sentiment" (The Atlantic).

The weirdest thing about that paragraph is Trump's apparent success in getting people to think of him as a working-class guy. How the hell did he do that? He's always been rich. Why would he be like Archie Bunker or a guy who works in a fish store?! The phrase "white, salt-of-the-earth Queens stock" suggests something at the genetic level. Stock. Was the fish-market guy from Queens "stock" too? In what possible way was this man "Trumpesque"? He was white, I get that, but this seems dangerously close to seeing all white men as alike.

I don't know. That whole paragraph made me uncomfortable. I've been around white people all my life, and I was born in the 1950s, and I don't remember them — us — using the n-word. McWhorter tells us what he's "always assumed, casually," but it doesn't fit with my experience of white people.

McWhorter continues:
Things like that let you know what sorts of things are said when you aren’t around; this man was perfectly ordinary, as is, quite resonantly, Trump. 
Trump is "perfectly ordinary" — quite resonantly perfectly ordinary?! That really makes no sense at all. Trump is the most unusual person we've ever seen. Just being the sort of person who could get to be President makes a man very unusual, and Trump is the most unusual President we've ever seen — quite resonantly.
What would be surprising is if he, a sociologically unheedful person molded in the 1950s, wasn’t well acquainted with the N word...
A sociologically unheedful person... that's a great phrase, but an awfully weak foundation for making such a negative assumption.
That Trump is a casual racist has long been painfully clear. While his scorn for all comers is plain from his speeches and tweets, he has repeatedly demonstrated an especial contempt for black people....
Trump says a lot of blunt things — very positive and very negative — about a lot of people. McWhorter admits that, but he still wants to make Trump's attacks on black people special (especial?).
No, he wouldn’t burn crosses on anyone’s lawn. Trump is a man of the late-20th century, not its earlier half. But Trump clearly thinks of black people as an inferior caste....  Like so many others, he thinks black people are not only lazy, but stupid.

With the case for Trump’s bigotry so clear, in what sense would it somehow be a key revelation that he has used the N word? In what sense is his using that slur proof of anything but what we’ve known all along?
If you've come this far and are keeping up with McWhorter's assumptions, you will now see that it doesn't even matter whether Trump used the n-word. He's just as bad whether he did or not, and yet, don't stop there, you ought to assume he did:
Given what his views clearly are, wouldn’t it be a little odd if he primly refrained from using that word in his private moments?
Not to me, but then I don't accept the given. And yet, I think even if I did accept the given, I wouldn't find it odd (or prim) to refrain from using the word.
That would be an incoherent person, and Trump is, if anything, quite coherent...
McWhorter is essentially joking that it would be a compliment to credit horrible old Trump with the use of the n-word because he'd at least be "coherent" (that is, consistent with all those other things McWhorter has aggressively pinned on him).
... gruesomely predictable in his solipsistic, unrefined Alpha-baboon essence.
Oh! A monkey metaphor, flung casually, and it's okay, because the person lampooned is white.

Trump Haters Can't Even Honor Aretha Franklin Properly.

On its front page, alongside a normal tribute to the great singer, The Atlantic has "Trump Can't Even Honor Aretha Franklin Properly/The president described the deceased soul legend first as a person who 'worked for me,' a telling remark in his ongoing disparagement of black women" by Vann R. Newkirk II. Newkirk is a "politics and policy" writer at The Atlantic, and you can see here, he put up another article, a much more substantive and respectful one, on the day we heard of the singer's death...
That other piece, "Aretha Franklin’s Revolution/The soul singer was an architect of the civil-rights movement as much as a witness to it," ends:
The literal meaning of the genre’s name [soul] speaks to its purpose. That purpose was taking the animus of a divine creator from gospel and pouring it into the music of the world. It took the black experience, with all its urgency and certainty of overcoming, and transliterated it into the vernacular. Soul was and is a revolutionary art, and Aretha belongs in the broader conversation about this country’s revolutionary heroes with any provocateur or patriot who ever lived.
That piece — with its grace and optimism — was linked lower down on the front page, but not among the featured articles at the top. It looks as though The Atlantic didn't like the stately "architect of the civil-rights movement" approach. God forbid we should drop our guard and feel good about racial relations in America. The relentless feel-bad agenda must continue, and it must revolve around Trump. So a trivial phrase in Trump's effort at honoring Franklin is yanked out of context and magnified into another racial problem. Because we can never have enough racial problems, it seems.
It’s hard not to find effusive praise for a woman who managed so much in three-quarters of a century, and Trump’s comments indicate he has some sense of the scope of what she’d done. But with four simple words—she worked for me—he ruined most of that. With that clause, he turned the stunning career achievements of a woman who was nominated for at least one Grammy Award in 24 of the 27 years from 1968 to 1995 into supporting evidence. The most important thing, the thing he just had to point out, was that she’d worked for him....
And the most important thing, the thing you just had to point out, was that Trump said something that could be construed as a racial microaggression.

August 16, 2018

At the Nighthawks Café...


... you can talk all you want.

I took the photo from my desk. A hawk swooped in and landed on the branch right in front of me and hung out for quite a while. I could see he was getting ready to fly off and used my best instinct to react at the instant of takeoff. This is all I could do:


"There’s a new way of demonstrating loyalty to Donald Trump and his Republican Party: Claiming that the president could not only survive an impeachment effort, but that it would guarantee his victory in 2020...."

"It depends on a delicate political calculation — that a Republican-held Senate would never follow a Democratic House and vote to remove Trump, and that voters tired of the long-running Russia scandal will, as they did in the late 1990s with Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal, want to move on. The notion has surfaced spontaneously among a diverse set of conservatives, including politicians with Trump’s ear and young ultraloyalists of the president whose institutional knowledge of the GOP begins with its new standard-bearer. They’re also the die-hards who aren’t afraid to align themselves with pro-Trump positions even before the president has warmed to them himself."

Politico says.

Aretha Franklin has died.

We were just talking about the people we've lived with for so long, who are part of the world that we know as our world and what it would mean for them to be gone. Who are the people like that for you? I don't mean your family and friends, your own intimate loved ones, but the people you don't know but who belong in life with you, wherever they are and without whom the world would become a little more strange and less like a place where you belong, the people who make you think of the old song lyric, "how wonderful life is while you're in the world."

When they are not in the world anymore...

"Can you hear that?... Neither can I."

I never noticed this particular YouTube star until a few days ago when I got carried away researching the term "thought experiment" and this video of his turned up. I didn't watch it, but I left it open in a tab while I was reading things in other tabs, for example, "9 Philosophical Thought Experiments That Will Keep You Up at Night" (Gizmodo) and "The impossible barber and other bizarre thought experiments" (New Scientist). I'd opened all those tabs after pondering the difference between "experience" and "experiment" (and had learned that the oldest meaning of "experience" is "experiment"). Anyway, the point is, I'd left that video open in a tab but had not watched it. It was Meade — he'd sat down at my computer to do some comment moderation — who played the video and — like anyone else — became engrossed and fascinated. So if you're wondering what we watch at Meadhouse, this is it.

ADDED: The quote that I made the post title — it reminded me of something. I think it's this, from "Endgame" by Samuel Beckett.
HAMM Open the window.

CLOV What for?

HAMM I want to hear the sea.

CLOV You wouldn’t hear it.

HAMM Even if you opened the window?


HAMM Then it’s not worthwhile opening it?


HAMM [violently] Then open it! [Clov gets up on the ladder, opens the window. Pause.] Have you opened it?

CLOV Yes. [Pause.]

HAMM You swear you’ve opened it?

CLOV Yes. [Pause.]

HAMM Well . . . ! [Pause.] It must be very calm. [Pause. Violently.] I’m asking you is it very calm!

"While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press..."

"... of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services. Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash. The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of 'Trump Incorporated' attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets.... Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him."

Deep insight from the former CIA director John Brennan in "John Brennan: President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash/That’s why the president revoked my security clearance: to try to silence anyone who would dare challenge him." (NYT).

We were amused by the repeated use of the word "hogwash." Presumably, he's just backing off from the less fit to print "bullshit."

You may be interested to know that the first recorded use of "hogwash" in the figurative sense (as opposed to the literal stuff fed to hogs) was from Mark Twain:
1870 ‘M. Twain’ in Galaxy June 862/2 I will remark, in the way of general information, that in California, that land of felicitous nomenclature, the literary name of this sort of stuff is ‘hogwash’.
Twain wasn't inventing the usage but reporting on it. Apparently, it came from California.

It's just a way to say "nonsense." The use of the word "bullshit" for nonsense only goes back to 1915, from Wyndom Lewis (writing to Ezra Pound). Apparently, "Bullshit" was a T.S. Eliot poem that never got published though it was an excellent bits of scholarly ribaldry (click image to enlarge and read and gain deep insight):
ADDED: Or did Eliot publish "Bullshit"? I'm seeing "The Triumph of Bullshit" and especially enjoyed the second verse:
Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward, insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles freely versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotion that turn isiculous,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.
Nice rhymes — horribly gauche with unbaked brioche and that whole ridiculous meticulous versiculous isiculous string.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade quotes the NYT byline for Brennan — "Mr. Brennan was director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2013 to 2017" — and says:
Coincidentally, immediately after his boss, Mr. Obama, gained more... "flexibility".

"Children of college-educated parents spend less time on chores over all, but the difference is almost all among girls."

"Daughters of college graduates spend 25 percent less time on chores than daughters of parents with no more than a high school education. But they still spend 11 minutes more a day than sons. Educated parents seem to have changed their expectations for their daughters but not for their sons, [said Sandra Hofferth, a sociologist at the University of Maryland who was a co-author of the recent analysis and has spent her career studying how children spend their time]."

From "A ‘Generationally Perpetuated’ Pattern: Daughters Do More Chores/They also earn less allowance, suggesting that the gender inequality in pay begins at home, and early in life. But there are signs the gap is narrowing." (NYT).

Lots of other statistics in the article, and I find it hard to believe people (adult and children) spend so much time on housework, so I'm skeptical about all of it, but what interested me there is that more educated parents, compared to less educated parents, are easing up on their daughters, while the 2 groups are treating their sons the same. That is, the college educated people are approaching equity by demanding less from daughters, not by making sons do more. If we believe these statistics — and, again, I'm skeptical — it seems that half an hour a day is the expectation being converged on.

What do you think is the right amount of time a child should devote to household chores every day? I think it's completely confusing to measure in time alone and not to take account of the difficulty of the task and the enjoyability of it. Much of the work, I think, is looking after younger siblings, and that's something that can take a long time but also be relaxing, pleasurable, and combined with doing something else you'd do even without that extra responsibility. It's not really accurate to compare that work in time to the work of, say, mowing the lawn. Also, the same task can be done fast or slow. If I one kid loads the dishwasher in 5 minutes and the other takes 15, did the second kid do 3 times as much work? If you say yes, you're encouraging dawdling and inefficiency.

August 15, 2018

At the Water Lily Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And please remember to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

The day after the Wisconsin primary — a Scott Walker ad.

I don't see how he needs to do anything more than this:

Yesterday was the primary, which produced the Democratic Party nominee, Tony Evers. Here's what went up on his YouTube account today:

By the way, Walker has Donald Trump's "full support and Endorsement":

"The dueling summations ended in a heated confrontation over whether Mr. Manafort’s lawyers had crossed a line in seeking to sow doubt about the prosecutors’ motivations."

"While the fraud charges against Mr. Manafort are not related to Mr. Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in 2016, as Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman he might know about Moscow’s efforts to influence the campaign. Without saying so directly, the defense lawyers made clear that Mr. Manafort was a Republican, telling jurors that he had worked on the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, Gerald R. Ford and George Bush. Though they did not mention Mr. Trump by name, they said that Mr. Manafort had no income in 2016 because he had volunteered for 'a presidential campaign.' After prosecutors protested, Judge T.S. Ellis III of the United States District Court in Alexandria instructed the jury to 'ignore any argument about the Justice Department’s motive or lack of motive in bringing this prosecution.'"

From "Evidence Against Manafort Is ‘Overwhelming,’ Prosecutors Say" (NYT).

Why Jerry Seinfeld doesn't use Twitter to tell jokes.

"I don’t hear the laugh. Why waste my time? It’s a horrible performing interface. I can’t think of a worse one. I always think about people that write books. What a horrible feeling it must be to have poured your soul into a book over a number of years and somebody comes up to you and goes, 'I loved your book,' and they walk away, and you have no idea what worked and what didn’t. That to me is hell. That’s my definition of hell."

From a little interview in the NYT that he's doing to promote the new season of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" (which I think you can only watch on Netflix now).

BONUS: "Ranking Every Episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" (Vulture). Excerpt:
43. Jerry Lewis... Lewis’s breakfast order just sums up the man he was: “I’m gonna have three fried eggs up, and a large order of very very very stiff bacon.”

"The narratives that painted Black Lives Matter activists as 'violent' have turned into legislation that targets black people, leftists, and other marginalized groups."

"The Dangers of Shunning ‘Bad’ Protesters" (The Nation).
Moderates are keen to promote only passive, nonviolent tactics under any circumstance, but fail to realize that when the police attack demonstrations that kind of resistance isn’t always an option....

The popular narratives that painted Black Lives Matter activists as “violent” have since escalated to new legislation targeting black people. Since Trump’s inauguration, lawmakers in 31 states proposed 64 anti-protest bills, some of them geared toward preventing protesters from blocking highways, a common Black Lives Matter protest tactic. Several of these bills proposed making it legal for drivers to run over protesters if they are blocking roads. These bills make formerly legal, even anodyne, forms of protest illegal, and in doing so, target marginalized protesters much more than others....

Given what we know about protest repression, it’s imperative to resist these harmful laws and narratives at all costs, and fight like hell for “bad” protesters. The Republican bill names anti-fascists, but it’s not hard to imagine the vague term “disguise” being applied to any number of garments commonly worn to protests. Maybe even pussy hats.