September 17, 2016

"As blog fodder he is nearly optimized: always up to something, rarely apologizing, usually dressed in a mockable, on-brand way."

"He takes bait but slings truths; he has an ego but he has a point; he looks all wrong when he’s not wearing a hat."

Miley sings Dylan...

... and says something about Trump...
"There is nowhere I would rather be than in New York City playing this song with the Roots, and being on Jimmy Fallon with our host, who is always so much fun, except when you're Donald Trump. And then don't even think about messing with my hair, I'm serious."
... without taking a position on Trump.

Well played.

"Perhaps you know the incredible, change-making 9-year-old activist a bit better as 'Little Miss Flint.'"

Link. Which includes pictures of the girl hugging Obama and this which we're told is hilariously viral:

If that child is frightened, it is because adults have made her frightened.

Stop using children in politics.

Is it sexist to tell a woman to smile?

It depends on how you say it. And in this case, it depends on whether we think you're actually trying to help or just criticizing her — and whether criticizing you seems like a way to stir up energy in support of the woman.

But in general, it seems that people expect more sociability and openness from a woman and are more likely to feel uneasy it she keeps a stern or grim face. The relaxed female face gets the jocose description "resting bitch face." So serious women can have trouble being serious as people express what might only be a simple desire to overcome their own uneasiness but might also be a more virulent urge to exclude women from serious enterprises. So it's naive to become another one of those people who tell women to smile.

But smiling is still a great facial expression that most people ought to want to know how to use to their advantage, and some advice to smile is good and not always sexist. Other people are absurdly responsive to smiling.

Here's my experience. I do a lot of walking around town, an average of 4 miles a day (according to an app in my iPhone), and I'm nearly always listening to audiobooks, and I tend to listen to serious things. There was the summer I listened to "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and all the many months it took to get through the 4 volumes of Robert A. Caro's biography of LBJ.

I don't look at my face when I'm walking, but I assume I look fairly grim when listening to that sort of thing. But sometimes I put iTunes with a shuffled playlist of songs I'm pretty sure I'm going to like to hear if they pop up — The Monkees "I Wanna Be Free," Herman's Hermits "Dandy," Elvis Costello "Watching the Detectives," Cher "All I Really Wanna Do," etc. etc. Again, I'm not looking at my face. But I know I must be smiling, because suddenly, on my usual walk, everyone I pass looks at me and smiles, like they're seeing an old friend.

Did the Prince estate censor "Jeopardy!"?

I saw this on Twitter yesterday:

And I have my DVR set up to watch the series "Jeopardy!" and it regularly records the day's episode. But when we went to watch the episode that recorded yesterday, it was a rerun of an old episode. Did the Prince estate threaten to sue?

"The people complaining about 'false balance' usually seem confident in having discovered the truth of things for themselves, despite the media's supposed incompetence."

"They're quite sure of whom to vote for and why. Their complaints are really about the impact that 'false balance' coverage might have on other, lesser humans, with weaker minds than theirs. Which is not just snobbish, but laughably snobbish. So, shut up."

From "Stop Whining About 'False Balance'/Everyone wants to blame reporters for the rise of Donald Trump. How about the media consumer?" by Matt Taibbi.

Via John Althouse Cohen.

ADDED: It's a variation on the old "free speech for me, but not for thee" — not about speaking but receiving speech. It's fine for me and the people I put in the elite group to hear everything, but what reaches the masses must be filtered through the elite, because the common people lack the capacity to tell good speech from bad and to arrive at the truth through the power of their own mind.

If you really believe that, then we shouldn't be having elections at all. In this election, the elite are seeing — more starkly than in any election I can think of in my lifetime — that the people are receiving information and thinking about it in a different way, not taking direction, and the elite shrink from the disgusting opinions of the people who were decent enough when they were doing the bidding of the elite. But now, thinking on their own, the electorate belongs in the Basket of Deplorables.

That's what makes the "Les Deplorables" image so powerful:

It's a revolution. To switch to a different French Revolution play:
Down with all of the ruling class!
Throw all the generals out on their ass!
Why do they have the gold?
Why do they have the power? Why, why, why, why?
Why do they have the friends at the top?
Why do they have the jobs at the top?
The Judy Collins version of that — "Marat/Sade" — gives me chills. Here's a video matching the song to images of the Occupy movement:

AND: I clicked on the embedded "Marat/Sade" video and the ad that came up was for Maserati!

"Edward Albee, widely considered the foremost American playwright of his generation, whose psychologically astute and piercing dramas explored the contentiousness of intimacy..."

"... the gap between self-delusion and truth and the roiling desperation beneath the facade of contemporary life, died Friday at his home in Montauk, N.Y. He was 88...."
He introduced himself suddenly and with a bang, in 1959, when his first produced play, “The Zoo Story,” opened in Berlin on a double bill with Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.” A two-handed one-act that unfolds in real time, “The Zoo Story” zeroed in on the existential terror at the heart of Eisenhower-era complacency, presenting the increasingly menacing intrusion of a probing, querying stranger on a man reading on a Central Park bench....

“Albee is not a fan of mankind,” the critic John Lahr wrote in The New Yorker in 2012. “The friendships he stages are loose affiliations that serve mostly as a bulwark against meaninglessness.”
From a nice, long obituary in The New York Times.

I've only written the name Edward Albee once in the 12 years of this blog. It was in the context of an interview that Alec Baldwin did with Elaine Stritch. Stritch had "described having 'an orgasm for the first time in my life' on stage in a very emotional moment of Edward Albee's play 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' ("'You know, that big scene? "Our son," he yells in my face, "is dead." And I went "No!" At the height of my force, I said no to him.')" And Alec Baldwin said to her: "Honey, I just think it speaks volumes about you, about what a real creature of the theater you are that the only time that you ever had an orgasm was saying the words of a homosexual man. It was as far from a heterosexual orgasm as you could possibly get."

I guess I never wrote about it, but we did go out to see an Edward Albee play in 2014 at The American Players Theater. It was "Seascape," the one with talking lizards...

... a male-and-female couple of lizards encountering male-and-female married humans.

Washington Post "stance on display" in a triad of Trump-related headlines.

I don't know what's oddest here:

1. "Trump’s stance on display..." tripped me up. Is there some "display" in the news about which Trump has a position, a "stance," that I need to know about? No, Trump has a "stance" — on what? — and he's showing it to us. The stance isn't on anything. It's just his self-assurance, the attitude that  he's "never wrong." The "stance" is not that he's "never loved more by his supporters." The love from the supporters is just a consequence, supposedly, of observing the display of the "stance." It's hard to read, because there's a colon after an introductory clause, and only one of the things after the colon is what the phrase before the colon is pointing at. When you click through, the story is "Trump: Never wrong, never sorry, never responsible," by Karen Tumulty. Why is this the top Trump story of the day? I guess it's because Trump made Obama's birthplace the story-of-the-day yesterday, and it must be wrestled into an anti-Trump story. So Trump's stating clearly that Obama was born in Hawaii becomes a generality about his character, which — I keep reading — is so different and much more dangerous than the character of all the other politicians, but I've never noticed that other politicians call attention to their errors as outright errors and refrain from deflecting blame onto others.

2. The second headline is just plain funny. The media is "playing the stooge for Trump"?! And it's  time to stop. Subheading: "The Republican nominee said, 'Jump.' And TV news asked, 'How high?'" The media has been obviously trying to help Hillary, but I guess its efforts are so inept that Trump can figure out how to flip them into doing things to work in his favor. When I hear "stooge," I think of The 3 Stooges, and I guess if they ever formed a goal, they'd bumble into exactly achieving the opposite effect. Here's the full story — "It’s time for TV news to stop playing the stooge for Donald Trump" — by Margaret Sullivan, WaPo's media columnist. It's another piece that follows on from yesterday's story-of-the-day, Trump's wrangling the media to hear his announcement of Obama's birthplace and deflection of blame onto Hillary. Sullivan explains how the press got played, but not why. The why is, I think, eagerness to help Hillary: They've made themselves stupid —  stupid for Hillary. What's the cure? I would think: serious, professional journalism. But Sullivan just tells them to stop it.

3. Oh, my, it's Laura Bush! Maybe she can help. The story is "In a tense election year, Laura Bush picks an interesting ally: Michelle Obama," by Krissah Thompson. It's as if somebody at WaPo decided to make the left-hand column as female-oriented as possible. All the authors are female. Story #1 alarms us about Trump's "stance" — which calls to mind that bane of female existence, manspreading. Story #2 calls to mind The 3 Stooges, who enact a style of male behavior that women find so off-putting. We all know women hate The 3 Stooges. And finally, there's relief: 2 female lead characters. If we can't love Hillary Clinton, surely we can warm up to these 2 solid standby females, Laura and Michelle. Gotta love at least one of them. First Ladies! Hillary was a First Lady, so... let's love First Ladies. Maybe that will help. Help us with our tension in this "tense election year." Laura and Michelle are sitting together on a stage at some worthy, non-tense event burbling about their mutual love and respect. Yes, yes, this is the tone we need now. Something gentle and feminine, not blustering and manspreading, not slapstick stoogery. There, now — do you see it? — forming mistily, gauzily in your mind? The female face — soft, smiling...

... tension-releasing....

September 16, 2016

At the Palate Cleanser Café...


... life is beautiful on the south shore of Lake Mendota.

Playing with your food: Pimple cupcakes.

This is funny, but gross, so I've got to hide it below the fold.

Do businesspeople think discrimination against men is just some kind of joke?

In September 2013, Janet Malcolm had an article in The New Yorker about the clothing business founded by Eileen Fisher. I noticed this:
At one point, I asked a question: “Eileen said there was a ratio of eighty per cent women to twenty per cent men in the company. But I don’t see any men around here. Where is the twenty per cent?” “In Secaucus,” someone exclaimed, to hoots of laughter from the rest. There is a warehouse in Secaucus where the men apparently are kept.
In the current issue of The New Yorker, there's an article by Nick Paumgarten about the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard. This jumped out at me:
Chouinard may be the face of Patagonia, and its presiding saturnine spirit, but the mood around the place is distinctly upbeat, optimistic, and youthful—a distillation of his can-and-must-do side, minus the ain’t-no-use. The idea is to recruit activist outdoorspeople and teach them business. “I’m terrible at hiring,” Chouinard told me. “I only trust women to hire people here. In an interview I have no idea. They can bullshit me, and I believe them.”
These statements are so off-handed and unguarded — as if legal liability doesn't even exist. And forget moral responsibility. These people seem to love themselves for their out-and-proud preference for women. And they want us to know. They seem to feel confident that we will love them too.

"Women aren’t any meaner to women than men are to one another. Women are just expected to be nicer."

"We stereotype men as aggressive and women as kind. When women violate those stereotypes, we judge them harshly. 'A man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless,' Marlo Thomas once lamented. 'All a woman has to do is put you on hold.' In one experiment, researchers asked people to read about a workplace conflict between two women, two men, or a man and a woman. The conflict was identical, but when the case study was between two women, the participants saw it as more damaging to the relationship and expected them to be more likely to quit. When men argue, it’s a healthy debate. When women argue … meow! It’s a catfight."

Write Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in "Sheryl Sandberg on the Myth of the Catty Woman."

And I'll just add: Women co-authors aren't any more credit-demanding than men co-authors. It just looks better to have their name as part of the title.

That's really scraping the bottom of the Barrel of Feminisms.

"To find Hillary Clinton likable, we must learn to view women as complex beings."

"My least favorite was the clue on NERDS (46D: Brainy high school clique)."

"'Clique' my ass. This makes it sound like NERDS are some exclusive / exclusionary bunch. I guarantee you that NERDS are more than happy to nerd out with you, no matter what you look like, how much money you have, etc. You don't have to be rich to rule their world. 'Clique'! Boooo! Everything about the word 'clique' is non-nerd."

Writes Rex Parker about today's NYT crossword.

The mandala continues apace.

When last we saw the Tibetan monks in the University of Wisconsin Sunset Lounge, they were at the stage that caused the enlightened Meade to exclaim "Parcheesi!" That was 2 days ago. Today, in hot pursuit of my Union Utopia ice cream, I encountered a locked door to my favorite campus lounge, and darned if the monks weren't still there scritchy-scratching the colored sand onto the black table:




ADDED: The scene 2 days ago:

"President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," said Donald Trump today.

"Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again," but before getting back to that he saw fit to add: "Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Did Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign start the "birther" controversy? The linked article, in the NYT, says:
During the 2008 Democratic contest, Mrs. Clinton’s senior strategist at one point pondered, in an internal memo that was later leaked, the ways in which Mr. Obama’s personal background differed from many Americans. But contrary to Mr. Trump’s assertion, neither Mrs. Clinton nor her campaign ever publicly questioned Mr. Obama’s citizenship or birthplace, in Hawaii.
Is that bait the Clinton campaign should take?
The Clinton campaign signaled on Friday that it does not plan to let Mr. Trump slide on the subject, pointing out that he has falsely claimed that the Democratic nominee was initially responsible for raising the questions and noting that he continued to question Mr. Obama’s birthplace for years after the release of his birth certificate.
This is forcing me to go look it up, because I honestly don't know the answer and I would have left this old issue behind.  I'm going to read a Breitbart article from a year ago, and then a CNN article from last May. After I've done that, I'll form an opinion about whether Trump or Hillary should want to bring this up now.

Apple's new iPhone software suggests a "nerd" emoji when you type "professor."

"Professor" prompts this:

"When she saw the nerd-face emoji, [Pauline J. Reynolds, an associate professor of leadership and counseling,] said she instantly thought of the Jerry Lewis character in the 1963 comedy The Nutty Professor."

Hey, by the way, did you know that Jerry Lewis is now 90 and he's got a new movie?
[H]e still has a resentful grind to his lower jaw, and that monkeyish mouth is as busy, in “Max Rose,” as it was in “The Nutty Professor” (1963), when, in the guise of Buddy Love, the slick-haired Lothario, he brought a whole night club to a halt. But [the director Daniel] Noah takes a fatal decision to trade snap for mush, and the movie only stirs in the final twenty minutes, when Max pays a nocturnal call on Ben Tracey (Dean Stockwell), who cuckolded him long ago. Regrettably, they make their peace, but, for a moment, the sequence smacks of something threatening and fresh: oldster noir. 
That's from the New Yorker review. Here's the trailer:

Does Jimmy Fallon get to mess up Hillary Clinton's hair?

She's going to be on "The Tonight Show" Monday, and Trump was on the show last night. Jimmy Fallon ended the interview by asking to mess up Trump's hair. Trump agreed!

That took some nerve. And yet if Trump had said no, it would have seemed stiff and prissy. Trump took a risk. He leaned in. It was a risk to let Jimmy have control of how much to mess it up, and then a risk to stand exposed with messed up hair and to look prissy by trying to fix it up afterwards.

Unlike with the Commander-in-Chief Forum, Trump went first. He put in a great performance, but Hillary has the advantage of seeing what Trump did before she goes on. I await her entry into the Hair-Messing Challenge.

The whole interview is excellent — relaxed and entertaining. Other clips are: "Donald Trump Talks Media Coverage, Polls and His Vocal Transformation," "Donald Trump Clarifies His Relationship with Vladimir Putin," "Donald Trump Returns for Another Mock Job Interview for President," and "Donald Trump on Board Games, His Health and Fast Food Habit."  

UPDATE: Later, I realize that Jimmy Fallon did already get his hands into Hillary Clinton's hair, and that it was she who challenged Fallon to do this bit.

"Donald Trump, Sex Pistol/The punk-rock appeal of the GOP nominee."

A clickbait title good enough to get me — a staunch clickbait resister — to click through to The Atlantic, and I'm going to encourage you to click through because the illustration — by Diego Patiño — is really good.

The article is by James Parker, who regularly writes about music, so the Sex Pistols talk is more than just shallow goofiness. Parker begins by talking about the impression Stravinsky’s "Sacre du Printemps" made in Paris in 1913, then shifts to 1976, when The Sex Pistols went on British daytime TV live:
The beery drawl of Pistols guitarist Steve Jones filters louchely from the TV set: “You dirty fucker,” he says to the host, Bill Grundy. Then he reconsiders: “What a fucking rotter.”...
Wait. You don't need to rely on Parker's literary stylings — louchely, whatever —  to visualize the occasion. It's on YouTube:

But what's Parker's point here? Is Donald Trump like The Sex Pistols because he goes on TV and talks to his interviewers in a way they're not used to and that busts up their game? Well, sort of. Parker says he's that and simultaneously the guy watching at home getting pissed off at the Pistols, because he's using a "transgressive, volatile, carnivalesque" style with respect to conservative things like "chaos in our communities" and "barbarians at the border."
It’s as if the Sex Pistols were singing about law and order instead of anarchy, as if their chart-busting (banned) single, “God Save the Queen,” were not a foamingly sarcastic diatribe but a sincere pledge of fealty to the monarch. Electrifying!
An amusing paradox, but Parker fails to acknowledge that it's a paradox made possible by the stodgy, humorless repression of the liberal side of American political culture. Parker continues with his good if purplish descriptions: Trump has a "big marmalade face and that dainty mobster thing he does with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand." Mobster? Or was that supposed to be "lobster"? Who knows? I know what he means about that hand gesture. (And did you know that Trump said his hand gestures count as a form of exercise?)

Parker says (among many other things): "Trump’s speaking style is from the future, from a time to come when human consciousness has broken down into little floating atavistic splinters of subjectivity and superstition and jokes that aren’t really jokes." Of course, Parker loathes Trump, but that reminded me of something I said about Trump as an exemplar of a new way of speaking:

I'm seeing something more positive about the speaking style of the future (and not just because I do cruel neutrality but because I think I'm speaking in the style of the future too).

The problem/nonproblem of maternity leave without paternity leave.

Here's Prachi Gupta in Cosmopolitan, interviewing Ivanka Trump about her father's proposal to guarantee 6 weeks of paid leave to women who have given birth. The leave, as Ivanka clearly explains, is premised on the physical needs of the female body, recovering from childbirth and establishing breastfeeding. (Ivanka doesn't mention that not all mothers choose to breastfeed.)

Because women give birth (and breastfeed), there's a natural difference between men and women, and if you are interested in women's equality, you might want to provide a benefit that covers that difference. But many people worry that giving benefits only to mothers would exacerbate inequality over the long term, because it would reinforce the culture of presuming that childcare is mainly the mother's responsibility.

Gupta attempts to raise this concern:
[P]aternity leave is said to be a great factor in creating gender equality.
She doesn't explain this premise, but I can tell you that it is based on the debate about the old Family and Medical Leave Act, which the Supreme Court held to be premised on enforcing equality. (I wrote a law review article on the subject.) Requiring employers to give 12 weeks of leave to parents of both sexes — unpaid leave — was supposed to erode the stereotype that mothers are the primary caregivers. There was always a problem with that prediction: No one was forced to take the leave, and if new mothers took all that leave and new fathers did not, it would reinforce the stereotype and worsen the perception that female employees take too much time off. The employer has to cover for them during the guaranteed leave and accept them back at work even after 12 weeks of absence, year after year. But the idea was that fathers would take the leave too, and that would tend, over time, to balance childcare responsibilities, which would improve the image of women in the workplace.

I assume Gupta is familiar with this old debate, though she doesn't lay it out for Cosmo readers (or for Ivanka). She just says:
So I’m wondering, why does this policy not include any paternity leave?
Ivanka avoids the equality question and says maternity leave is better than nothing. Those who push the equality theory might say that it's worse than nothing, because it encourages the parent who gave birth to the child to become its primary caregiver. As the woman's body is recovering from the physical effects of pregnancy and childbirth, she's bonding with the baby and learning how to take care of it, and she may be establishing the ongoing physical process of breastfeeding. Meanwhile, the father is encouraged to keep working. The traditional division of labor is supported by the government.

Ivanka — in what looks like a bid to win over Democrats — brings up gay people:
Both sides of the aisle have been unable to agree on this issue, so I think this takes huge advancement and obviously, for same-sex couples as well, there's tremendous benefit here to enabling the mother to recover after childbirth. It's critical for the health of the mother. It's critical for bonding with the child, and that was a top focus of this plan.
Gupta tries to break in:
OK, so when it comes to same-sex—
But Ivanka continues:
So it's meant to benefit, whether it's in same-sex marriages as well, to benefit the mother who has given birth to the child if they have legal married status under the tax code.
You can see that she's only talking about recovery from childbirth. (And, indeed, it would probably violate the Equal Protection Clause for the government to give this benefit to women and not men if it is not tied to the physical differences between men and women.) The only gay person who gets this proposed benefit is the woman who gives birth.

Gupta either doesn't see this point or wants to talk about a much more expensive government benefit — paid leave for all new parents. She asks:
Well, what about gay couples, where both partners are men?
Ivanka repeats that the policy relates only to the physical recovery from childbirth. Gupta seems to understand but still wants to drive it home:
So I just want to be clear that, for same-sex adoption, where the two parents are both men, they would not be receiving special leave for that because they don't need to recover or anything?
The policy quite obviously doesn't cover any adoption. The sex of the parents is irrelevant. In adoption, no one has given birth. Ivanka laughs and says:
Well, those are your words, not mine. Those are your words. The plan, right now, is focusing on mothers, whether they be in same-sex marriages or not.
You're not going to get anything with the slightest tinge of homophobia out of Ivanka, I don't think. Gupta's effort to drum up the Cosmo reader's empathy for gay man should fail. The bigger problem  is that paid leave for mothers puts government money into skewing the decision of heterosexual couples toward the traditional division of labor.

Gupta's next question does have something to do with that problem, the stereotype that women are less valuable employees:
OK, I just wanted to make sure I understood. In 2004, Donald Trump said that pregnancy is an inconvenient thing for a business. It's surprising to see this policy from him today. Can you talk a little bit about those comments, and perhaps what has changed?
Ivanka doesn't seem to know what her father said 12 years ago, and she goes meta:
So I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues. So I don't know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you're going to make a comment like that....
She goes on about how good her father has been as an employer of women, and Gupta nonapologizes — she's sorry Ivanka finds the questions negative — and assures her that Trump really did say that pregnancy is "certainly an inconvenience for a business." He did. Ivanka says she doesn't know that he said that, and she's right to refuse to accept Gupta's presentation of what he said, which might be wrong (though it isn't) and might be out of context.

But Ivanka could have said: Her father was being admirably straightforward. Of course, it's an inconvenience when anything physical takes away from the employee's time and attention at work. But that has nothing to do with the woman's need to deal with recovery from childbirth. She must take some time to recover, and Trump's plan is to ensure that she has some paid leave.

And, if Ivanka had said that, Gupta should have said: But by making it even easier for the woman to take time off — 6 weeks off — aren't you going to intensify the inconvenience that employers see in women? Even your father — who, you say, has been so good with hiring and promoting women in his business — thought of their childbearing function as a problem. Aren't you proposing to spend government money to make that problem even worse, as it becomes more likely that female employees will take even more time away from work?

One more question, and it's not one I'd advise Gupta to ask: Won't this government spending draw women away from the workplace and the leaning-in style of careerism that feminism has promoted? As they have weeks of time alone with the baby, isn't government easing women into the comfort and happiness of the noncommercial life of the home and perhaps even a spiritual awareness that the best life is grounded in love and family and not a career at all?

September 15, 2016

Listen to the oldest melody in the world — 3400 years old.

"The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians’ goddess of the orchards Nikkal...."
The clay tablet text, which was discovered alongside around 30 other tablet fragments, specifies 9 lyre strings and the intervals between those strings – kind of like an ancient guitar tab..... The notation here is essentially a set of instructions for intervals and tuning based around a heptatonic diatonic scale.

"A cow which had its face blurred by Google street view has proved a hit on social media."

"The animal was snapped by Google's cameras at Coe Fen, Cambridge, and seemingly given the same treatment humans receive for privacy reasons."

"When it was my turn to drink the little Dixie cup of muck she presented, I was stunned that divine consciousness—or really anything—could smell quite so foul..."

"... as if it had already been vomited up, by someone who’d been on a steady dieta of tar, bile, and fermented wood pulp. But I forced it down, and I was stoked. I was going to visit the swampland of my soul, make peace with death, and become one with the universe."

"Whatever you eat, a two-hundred-dollar lunch or a two-dollar hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise."

Said the Maurizio Cattelan, encouraging museum-goers to use his work of art that is (we're told) a solid-gold toilet. I don't believe it actually is solid gold because the museum's conservator is talking about keeping it clean with "special wipes, like medical wipes, that don’t have any fragrance or color or oxidizers," but gold doesn't oxidize, and "The color is going to change, and we’ll probably be brightening the toilet up with polish along the way." Why would the color change if it's gold?

Watching people eat — on the internet — is big in South Korea and coming to the U.S.

Bloomberg reports.
Dubbed “social eating,” the practice is popular in South Korea... It’s a difficult pastime for people in the U.S. to initially grasp, he acknowledged, but he said it’s gaining traction, along with rising demand for non-gaming content. Disbelief about the growth potential for Twitch, a platform for watching people play video games, has taught him not to discount something he doesn’t personally understand, [said Twitch Chief Executive Officer Emmett Shear].
Here's a video from a couple years ago showing a woman who makes $9,000 setting up a big feast for herself in front of the computer and letting people watch.

It seems to have something to do with comforting people who are out there somewhere eating alone... or who are refraining from eating and substituting eating vicariously.

ADDED: I don't know how related that might be to listening to people eat — for ASMR purposes (Autonomous sensory meridian response) — like this.

"Hillary Clinton viciously demonizing hard-working people like you."

You've probably already seen this Trump ad...

... I'm just blogging it today — after choosing not to blog it before — because I've hit on this theme of "working hard." As I said 3 posts down: "The candidates and their proxies are continually referring to the citizenry as 'hard working.' Why?! Some Americans are hard working, but plenty of us are pacing ourselves comfortably or lazily shirking. Why are we always getting buttered up this way?"

Trump at the Economic Club of NY with a broken Teleprompter and a guy sitting at his elbow chomping on food throughout the speech.

This is harrowing.

Trump starts out:
"We're having a lot of fun on the campaign and on the trail. I just wanted to say that—and it's always a lot of fun when you come up and the people don't have the teleprompter working but that's OK," Trump said, looking down occasionally as he spoke at the lectern.... Lucky I brought some notes."
He shows some notes. He speaks. He gets to the line: 
"Everything that is broken today can be fixed. And every failure can be turned into a truly great success. Just look at the way I just melded into the teleprompter that just went off..."
That is, the Teleprompter that had gone off before and is back on now.
"Who else could have pulled that off, OK? Who else?"
But he's still not aware of how ridiculous that guy behind him looks, with that endless chewing, chewing...

Colin Powell, less politically correct than Donald Trump.

Colin Powell said: "I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect... A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home."

Donald Trump, last January: "I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!"

"There’s a satisfying moral clarity in being able to out-and-out call people deplorable for their racist views, but there simply isn’t a bright line between 'racist' and 'not racist.'"

"There are quiet biases, and degrees of awareness, that even people who don’t support Donald Trump — even 'hard-working Americans' — need to be aware of. And there is more to racism than what lies within people’s hearts. All of that gets blissfully elided when you sort people into baskets, calling some of them 'irredeemable' and others morally sound. It allows everyone to feel superior. And it’s especially painful to see the racial progressives who’ve done so much to bring nuance into the conversation — to keep white America, regardless of its ideology, in a state of productive discomfort — now leading the cheerleading charge."

Wrote Dara Lind, quoted in "Clinton’s 'Deplorables' Remark Misunderstands Racism — and Might Make It Worse."


By the way, there's that "working hard" meme again. The candidates and their proxies are continually referring to the citizenry as "hard working." Why?! Some Americans are hard working, but plenty of us are pacing ourselves comfortably or lazily shirking. Why are we always getting buttered up this way?

The "working hard" meme, continued.

I was just talking about an annoying NYT editorial lavishing praise on John Kerry for working so damned hard (on things they pretty obviously think will fail). We entrust people with power because we want them not just to work but to do what works. The fact that someone worked hard is a ridiculous distraction. And if what they did is bad, we should be more bothered that they put a lot of effort into it. They were not merely ineffective, they were inefficient. Double failure, in my book.

A related question is whether it's even true that the person is working hard. Working hard shouldn't distract us from whether what was done works, but it does, so there's an incentive to create the impression that one is working hard. In that view, let's look at Hillary Clinton.

Here's Rush Limbaugh on his show yesterday:
[T]here are people out there saying she got pneumonia 'cause she's working so hard. Even General Powell in one of the emails talks about, my God, she's working so hard. She's working so hard she can barely climb the steps to the podium.  You know how General Powell defined working hard?  Going to three fundraisers in a day and having to fly to two of them.  She's just burning at both ends. She's gonna have to slow down.  But that's why she's getting pneumonia....

"To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine..."

"... is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order."

Wrote Justice Jackson in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Supreme Court case that that recognized a free-speech right of public schoolchildren to resist compulsion to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. That's quoted by Jeffrey Toobin in a New Yorker article about Colin Kaepernick's refusal to show the customary respect of standing during the National Anthem as it is played before professional football games.

Toobin acknowledges that Barnette is about a legal rights that can only be asserted against the government. He doesn't mention that compulsion to recite a pledge is very different from compulsion to show respect while somebody else is saying/singing words that are not even a pledge. And he doesn't mention that Kaepernick chose to join a team, while the children in Barnette were compelled to go to school. And children compelled to go to school are required to follow dictated behavior standards while they are taught material that may be designed to instill patriotism or other political dogma that they might not believe.

And, most importantly, Kaepernick is not being compelled to stand during the national anthem. He sits or takes the knee and we all get to see that. He's got his freedom of expression. He's just being criticized for what he is expressing. There was absolutely nothing in Barnette that saved the schoolchildren from being regarded as bad and unpatriotic for failing to say the pledge.

The criticism too is free speech.

The "working hard" meme — it's propaganda to cover for failure.

That's on the front page of the NYT right now. The link goes to an editorial:
Since becoming secretary of state more than three years ago, John Kerry has been a man on a mission — multiple missions, in fact — relentlessly traveling the globe.... [T]here has been something honorable, even heroic, about the persistence, hard work and faith in diplomacy....

Mr. Kerry sometimes displays a naïve belief in his ability to win people to his side if he keeps talking long enough....

To get the current cease-fire [in Syria], he warned Moscow that if the violence was not halted, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states would send more weapons to the rebel groups. He insists he is not being unrealistic, although he knows from past experience that Russia could be playing a cynical game and that the cease-fire could fall apart. But you can hear the anguish when he says that this “may be the last chance we have to save a united Syria.” He deserves immense credit for trying.
Work, work, work. Trying very, very hard.  Relentlessly traveling the globe.... But even your friends call you naïve and unrealistic. And do you think maybe Vladimir Putin might take advantage of your earnest strenuousness and play a cynical game? Let me take several days to think about that, because I'm sure putting more effort into the enterprise will be laudable... honorable, even heroic... and I will deserve immense credit for working so damned hard.

When Clinton was ahead, she had opened up a lead that left Trump with barely any hope, but as Trump takes the lead we hear about how they are "locked in a tight contest."

The quote is from a new NYT piece. I watched Jake Tapper's news show last night, and they could not stop saying the race was "tightening up," even as they were showing up new polls that showed an upswing toward Trump. Trump and Clinton seem to have essentially exchanged positions, and I remember that when Clinton was in the up position, Trump was presented as falling so far behind that the GOP ought to abandon him and concentrate on winning some of the down-ticket races.

I know that the Electoral College situation justifies some of the difference in how the 2 positions are viewed, but Trump's recent advances are stunning, and I could see that the stun had occurred from the faces of Jake Tapper and his poll-describing sidekick, the one whose name I can't remember because Meade and I took to calling him "False Toobin" a long time ago.  Ah, here's video of the segment I'm trying to describe. The poll guy is named David Chalian. I don't think the name has ever registered with me. Don't you think he looks like Jeffrey Toobin?

ADDED: "False Toobin" is patterned on "False Maria"...

... and, watching that, I wondered: Hmmm, what medical treatments did Hillary get back at Chelsea's apartment?

"Americans' trust and confidence in the mass media 'to report the news fully, accurately and fairly' has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history..."

"... with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year."

Well, what did they expect when they went all in for Hillary? And now Trump is climbing in the polls — 6 points up in the new L.A. Times poll — and they've already squandered their credibility. They can't help her now. They tried too hard before. Too bad the Democratic Party didn't give us a democratic experience this time. They foisted a candidate on us, they rigged it, with the assistance of the media. And now the candidate we didn't want zombie-walks and stumbles to the finish line, and there is nothing the Party or the media can do to stir up our affection. Meanwhile, the man the media loved to hate is powering through to the Presidency, looking only stronger for all the shots he took.

As Bob Wright said to me: "Well, my concern is that they are so ham-handed about it — they're so obvious about it — that it won't work."

September 14, 2016

"Still dicking bimbos at home."

"I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect... A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home (according to the NYP)."

Email from Colin Powell.

ADDED: You know, maybe the women aren't bimbos. That's kind of misogynistic.

Tibetan monks construct a mandala at the University of Wisconsin.

I was just taking my traditional 3 scoops of Babcock mocha macchiato ice cream to the Sunset Lounge at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union today, but all the usual seats had been cleared out, and Tibetan monks were scritchy-scratching colored sand onto a table...


You might think this would draw a crowd — at least a small crowd — of onlookers, but it did not. It was a beautiful day and the students were out and about.


I took a close-up shot with my iPhone and texted it to Meade...


... and he texted back "Parcheesi!"

Yes, yes... religion, practiced in the halls of the state institution. It's not really a problem, is it? Not as long as all religions are given equivalent access.

"Colorado’s monthly marijuana sales notched an all-time high in July 2016 as shops sold nearly $122.7 million of medical and recreational cannabis..."

"... a 27 percent increase from July 2015, according to state revenue data released Monday."
The monthly haul surpasses the previous record notched this past April — a month that includes the annual 4/20 marijuana holiday — when $117.4 million of flower, edibles and concentrates were sold. Medical sales accounted for $40.8 million and recreational sales accounted for roughly $76.6 million of April’s total. In July, recreational sales shot to $83.8 million, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue report....
Summer in Colorado!

(I noticed that article because I went over to The Denver Post to read "Donald Trump sensing momentum as Colorado polls appear to narrow/Hillary Clinton enduring campaign stumbles as Republicans finally establish a foothold in Colorado." Maybe that's more up your alley.)

I was in Colorado in July...


... walking in the snow on the Shrine Mountain trail.

I was going to make fun of the man who "Lives Every Day Like He’s at Burning Man."

But then I saw that the first thing he took issue with was an official Althouse bugaboo, straws!
[L]ast week, I found myself sitting around a table at Roberta’s Pizza with Entourage star Adrian Grenier, getting an in-depth lesson on the blight of plastic straws.

“We consume 500 million straws each day. The equivalent of 127 school buses filled with straws. It’s disgusting, ” Adrian Grenier declares the minute I sit down, brandishing a plastic straw that the waiter had forgotten to remove. “There should be children in those school buses, going to school, to learn, not straws,” he adds, wryly.

Grenier orders me a mezcal soda, his drink of choice. “No straw, no fruit,” he tells the waiter... Grenier is very passionate — about straws, pollution, whales, the ocean, conservation, his vinyl collection... and he talks with the unfiltered confidence of a man who is used to people listening to what he has to say. He is a fan of hugs, and back-touching, and scooping food onto your plate even if you indicate that you’re full....
Here's my anti-straw post from a couple weeks ago. My problem was not environmental, it was that you look foolish if you are a man. My problem is avoided by being a woman. Grenier's problem is avoided by using paper straws. I agree that paper straws are much better — aesthetically and environmentally. So if you are a woman, click on that link and you can get some nice old-time paper straws.

"I find it to be ironic that it has taken Donald J. Trump to bring to the fore the obvious conflict of interest that exists between..."

"... low-skilled American workers (of whatever ethnicity), on the one hand, and low-skilled foreign workers who wish to enter or remain in the United States, on the other. Isn't it interesting that his detractors NEVER EVEN ENGAGE THIS QUESTION? But, the question is fundamental for anyone concerned to improve the life chances of the most disadvantaged Americans. That's why I'm sharing this piece, from George Borjas — the Harvard economist who, perhaps more than anyone else, has been producing and analyzing data that bear directly on this issue. No, he's not a 'racist' for looking into this question. And neither am I, for taking what he has to say seriously. Indeed, those who would dismiss — or, worse, suppress — a candid examination of the consequences for poor domestic workers of having large numbers of low-skilled immigrants are the ones whose social ethics should be called into question."

Writes Glenn Loury, commenting on this Politico article, "Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers/The candidates tell drastically different stories about immigration. They’re both skipping half the truth."

"Female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called 'amplification': When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it..."

"... giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own. 'We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,' said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides."

From "Obama’s Female Staffers Came Up With a Genius Strategy to Make Sure Their Voices Were Heard" in New York Magazine.

"I’ve never eaten a strawberry in my life. I have no desire to do that... Absolutely not."

Said Tom Brady.

Never had any coffee either.

I never ate a strawberry until I was in my 20s. My sister had told me early on that strawberries were bad — strawberries and peaches and coconut. It's like she was my taster. If she'd suffered the pain and given me the word that these things were bad, I had the advantage of avoiding the pain. Never touched it. Still won't eat coconut.

"No one's allowed to be sick. Sickness is weakness. The attitude is 'I'm irreplaceable — if I don't show up my job won't get done.'"

"Some of it is also concern about how you are going to be viewed as an employee — whether you can be counted or not. Whether by having too many sick days, too many absences, you are not seen as reliable. At the very core of being American is the idea of being a hard worker."

From a article titled "Why Americans don't take sick days" — apparently prompted by Hillary Clinton's soldiering on despite whatever it is that's ailing her.

Hillary aside, it is something we Americans do, no? Years ago, I had what was eventually diagnosed as pneumonia. I still taught my classes, including a big Evidence class, where I can remember getting into a coughing jag that just wouldn't end. The students all just sat there, impassive, waiting for me to come around and get back to what I was supposed to be doing. When I finally went to the doctor and got the diagnosis, I asked what to do, thinking I'd be told to stay home for some amount of time that I would need to deal with and prepared to picture myself at rest. But the doctor told me I should go to work. That is, if I thought I really should be staying home in this condition, I didn't have a doctor recommending that. I'd be malingering.

The American work ethic is crazily intense, to the point where otherwise competent people worry about not just doing their work but looking busy. And institutions of intelligent people devise ways to observe and take account of just how hard you are working, thus motivating people ever more to the idiotic enterprise of looking busy.

Meanwhile, to quote Colin Powell's email: "[Hillary] is working herself to death."

"Helicopters made an emergency delivery of flares and dogs to the station on Wednesday morning in a bid to help scientists on Troynoy..."

"... an island in the Kara Sea north of the Siberian coast, fend off the [dozen polar] bears, according to Vassiliy Shevchenko, the head of the Sevgidromet State Monitoring Network...."
[T]he five-strong team of researchers had not left the station since [August 31], and that the delivery of flares had been urgently needed as the next cargo vessel was not due to arrive for another month.

“A female bear has been sleeping under the station’s windows since Saturday night. It’s dangerous to go out as we have run short of any means to scare off the predators. We had to stop some of the meteorological observations,” Plotkinov added on Monday.

However, Shevchenko said that “three puppies and pyrotechnical devices” had successfully been delivered to the station, which helped the researchers to scare some of the bears away, and allowed observations to resume on Wednesday.

It's hard for me to have an opinion here. I'm pro-science, but I've been conditioned to empathize with polar bears. It's their island, isn't it? Why are these people, who are not built to survive in the extreme  north, encroaching on their territory?

I note that this is Russia, so I'm wondering if Putin can help. I heard he's a strong leader. Putin has boldly confronted the polar bear. Back in 2010:
He has sunk to the bottom of the world's deepest lake, skied down volcanoes and fished in Siberian rivers. Now, Russia's action-man prime minister, Vladimir Putin, has gone one better – coming face to snout with a giant (if slumbering) polar bear during a trip to Russia's remote Arctic north....

... Russian scientists captured the bear ahead of Putin's visit and kept it captive for 10 days. After hugging the male animal round the neck, Putin fitted it with an electronic collar. Asked by a female journalist about the bear's massive paws, he said: "They're heavy. He's the real master of the Arctic."

National Anthem standoff.

There's that NFL kneeling, but there's also the MLB standing and standing to the point of not being able to stand it anymore.
Hernan Iribarren of the Cincinnati Reds and Manny Pina of the Milwaukee Brewers engaged in a pre-game standoff after the national anthem.

Both players stood with their hats and hands over their respective hearts as their teams walked back into the dugout before the game.

Pina moved first, which gave the Reds the victory.

"But in selling his case, Mr. Trump stretched the truth, saying that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has no such plan of her own and 'never will.'"

"Mrs. Clinton issued her plan more than a year ago, and it guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for a newborn or a sick relative, financed by an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. On Twitter, her campaign posted a link to her plan after Mr. Trump’s remark."

From a NYT article "Donald Trump Unveils Plan for Families in Bid for Women’s Votes." The 2 links in that quote go to the same webpage. I watched Trump's speech last night and couldn't figure out why he said Hillary had no plan of her own.

Could someone get him to explain what he meant? If there isn't some tricky explanation, it's either a blatant mistake or a lie.

"In private, [John Kerry] has conceded to aides and friends that he believes [the deal with Russia on Syria] will not work."

From paragraph 8 of a NYT article titled "Details of Syria Pact Widen Rift Between John Kerry and Pentagon."

"How many fireflies would it take to match the brightness of the Sun?"

"Not that many! I mean, it's definitely one of those gigantic numbers with lots of zeroes, but in the grand scheme of things, there aren't as many zeroes as you might expect."

"Before, it was more punk.... Now, people are starting to think maybe a shaved head is actually really chic and elegant."

"It’s not just for skinheads."

Women shaving their heads is a big new thing now, according to the NYT.
“Individuality and androgyny are certainly not a new thing in fashion, but the trend has swung back around due to a larger gender conversation,” said Alastair McKimm, the fashion director at i-D....

“A girl with a buzz cut is like Jaden Smith wearing a skirt,” [said shaved-headed model  Tamy Glauser], referring to Will Smith’s son, who has publicly challenged gender norms through fashion. Ms. Glauser says that people often make assumptions about sexual orientation based on appearances, “but the two have nothing to do with each other. I think it’s good for society to see people going against what we’ve all been taught is the way we’re supposed to dress for our sex and our orientation,” she said. “You realize there’s no right or wrong.”
It's funny that something like this can be made to seem new. I've heard remarks like Glauser's for half a century. And here's a book from a quarter century ago — "Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siecle," by Elaine Showalter  — about breaking the gender norms over 100 years ago. Excellent book, by the way. I read it when it came out. What I remember as Showalter's message is — and I might be misremembering — that the most intelligent and sophisticated people find themselves in the middle, within gender ambiguity. It's the cruder, dumber people at the poles of gender differentiation.

Back to the NYT article:
“The first time [I shaved my head], it was an impulsive decision,” said Mackenzie Jones, 20, who has kept a shaved head since she was 15, when a bad breakup inspired the act. “But when I look back now, I think I did it — without knowing it at the time — because it was the ultimate rejection of the male gaze.”

Besides the obvious convenience and the aesthetic appeal, Ms. Jones said, she has stuck to the shorn style because, particularly when she was younger, it helped filter out potential suitors who weren’t “on my level.” (Plenty of guys, she adds, are into the look.)
Suitors! I love the notion that within this supposedly new way of living, there are still characters called "suitors."
Dressing for one’s self, not one’s paramour, has been a theme in fashion for several seasons now....
Dressing for yourself has been the theme in fashion writing for as long as I can remember, and I have read a lot of fashion writing. (I had a job once — in the 1970s — that required me to read all the fashion magazines.)

And add "paramour" that picture of life as we live it now, along with those "suitors." Paramour and the Suitors — it could be the name of your band.

Practical advice from the article: You'd better make sure you have a good-shaped head before you shave off your hair. It is one way to set yourself apart: I have a well-formed head, and you don't know what hideous form those other ladies are hiding under all that hair.
“A lot of women are very attached to their hair,” Ms. Jones said. “When I was in a bad relationship, my hair was like this mask. Once it’s all gone, you don’t have anything left to change. You have to look yourself in the face and deal with it. It’s really transformative.”
ADDED: From the 60s:

September 13, 2016

Trump announces his child care plan.

"The first part of my childcare plan allows every parent or family in America – including adoptive parents and foster parent guardians – to deduct their childcare expenses from their income taxes...."
For low-income individuals who have no net income tax liability, we will offer an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the form of a childcare rebate....

Next, our plan allows every parent in America to open up a Dependent Care Savings Account.... the funds in these accounts do not expire at the end of the year...  The funds will remain in the account until the age of 18. Whatever still remains at that time can be used to help offset the costs of higher education.

For low-income individuals, the federal government will provide matching funds – if parents contribute $1,000 dollars, the federal government will provide a $500 dollars match....

Our plan includes incentives for more employers to offer on-site childcare as well....

Finally, our plan offers a crucial safety net for working mothers whose employers do not provide paid maternity leave....

I'm saying this for the last time.

I'm teaching my last semester at the law school. Every class I teach I'm teaching a case for the last time — sometimes a case that I've taught 30 or 50 times. Yesterday, I taught Marbury, a case I've taught about 100 times and the first case I ever taught. It means nothing, I don't think, to the students, but there's something transcendent for me.

100 years ago today: Roald Dahl was born.

My son John reminds me... with quotes from his 1990 obituary.
The key to his success, he frequently said, was to conspire with children against adults.

"It's the path to their affections," he said in an interview earlier this year with the London newspaper The Independent. "It may be simplistic, but it is the way. Parents and schoolteachers are the enemy. The adult is the enemy of the child because of the awful process of civilizing this thing that when it is born is an animal with no manners, no moral sense at all."

"If one is willing to grant Clinton a bit of comedic license ('basket of deplorables' really is a funny line), her change in tone might actually help her in the long run."

"The two candidates are polar opposites; Trump can't build a wall between his brain and mouth, while Clinton is painfully lawyerly and cautious. This was a rare moment where it appears she said something she actually thought, not something that had been run through the Public Opinion-o-Tron 3000 before being fed into her mainframe."

Writes Christian Schneider in USA Today.

My opinion is: She said something she actually thought because she incorrectly believed it would serve her cause. I don't give credit for that. As for Trump, he's not saying everything he thinks, and if you think he is, congratulations, you are his dupe. 

The 5,300-year-old snowshoe.

The oldest snowshoe ever found — made in the late Neolithic age out of birch wood and twine. Found in the Alps in Italy by a cartographer, back in 2003:
“At first I thought it was maybe 100 years old and was a snow shoe that belonged to a farmer who lost it while driving cattle. I kept it in my office as a keepsake."
What wonders are found but not found, lying around in somebody's office or storeroom.

"Have we really reached the point that it’s O.K. for The Times to refer to Clinton in bold type as 'The Bitch America Needs'?"

Asks the NYT public editor, Liz Spayd. She likes the essay itself, including the focus on and playing with the word "bitch," but putting "bitch" in the headline made it "seem[] to come from the voice of The Times, at least when you come on it cold, as all readers do."
Opinion editor Rachel Dry... says she commissioned the piece because she wanted someone to wrestle with how this particular profanity is being used against Clinton. “Certainly the word focuses one’s attention,” Dry said to my questions about its use in the headline and so frequently in the story. “But that’s what the essay is about.”...

It’s one thing for an author, under her own byline and in the context of her ideas, to write the type of opinion piece [Andi] Zeisler did.... Dry says that when opinion editors write the headlines, they are distilling the author’s perspective, not the view or the voice of The Times.

That may be, but referring to the first female presidential nominee as the right bitch for the job brings an air of legitimacy to the word that seems beyond where we are at this moment in history. The mainstream may someday apply this term to women who stand up for themselves and bust through feminine stereotypes. Until then, it remains an insult, degrading and misogynistic.
Well, that's just very conservative. I think the word "bitch" got reclaimed by feminists decades ago, but the NYT has made a thing of its old-fashioned approach to rough language. But Spayd isn't talking about completely censoring "bitch," the way the Times censors "fuck."* Spayd's point is only that "bitch" works as an insult until you get into the context of the essay, so it's wrong to put it in the headline.

She doesn't mention the function of clickbait in the NYT. Obviously, the headline "The Bitch America Needs" is very clickbait-y. Taking something out of its real context is a clickbait technique. You need to click through to find out why this could be the headline. Personally, I avoided clicking on that headline precisely because I've trained myself not to take the bait. I still haven't read Zeisler's essay, and I remain content with my assumption that it put a good meaning on "bitch" and used that to say Hillary — who's been called or characterized as a bitch — is, in fact, a bitch but in the good way.

I'll await the NYT op-ed making the case for Trump under the headline "The Fucking Asshole America Needs" that could be retitled "The Feisty Fighter America Needs."


* For an example of the NYT's censorship of "fuck," see "Odell Beckham Jr. Responds to the Lena Dunham Dust-Up: ‘I Have to Learn More About the Situation’":
“I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards,” Ms. Dunham said in the interview, which was posted last Friday. “He was like: ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean. He just seemed confused.”

In Ms. Dunham’s imagination, the grid star’s “vibe” seemed to suggest he was thinking, “Do I want to have sex with it?” (she used an earthier term for “sex,” and yes, she said “it”).
That second paragraph summarizes this part of the original interview:
The vibe was very much like, "Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it's wearing a tuxedo. I'm going to go back to my cell phone." It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, "This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes."

"Colin Kaepernick is great/Cops are pigs, cops are pigs/Wait, someone just took my stuff, I need to call the cops..."

A national anthem parody:

You can watch the whole episode here on Wednesday.

"WHAT'S TRUE: A 1996 photograph was captioned as showing a 15-year-old Ivanka Trump sitting on her father Donald Trump's lap..."

"... during a concert at their Mar-a-Lago estate.  WHAT'S FALSE: The photograph does not in itself document any 'grinding' or other inappropriate physical activity between Ivanka and her father."

A popular item at Snopes titled "Mind the Grind/A photograph showing Ivanka Trump seemingly sitting on her famous father's lap documents less than is salaciously claimed."
We note that this picture captures a fleeting moment, and without additional photographs (or video) of the event, it's impossible to say whether Ivanka was sitting on her father's lap for a prolonged period of time or for just a few seconds (or whether, despite the captioning, she was actually on his lap at all).

While late-night comedians have frequently mocked Trump for having an improper relationship with his daughter, those accusations are all based on speculation rather than solid evidence.
There is female privilege in our culture. Mothers are free to show affection to our children without worrying that our antagonists will sexualize it. 

Leveraging Hillary's illness into a feminist meme with the phrase "powering through."

Just think those words — powering through! — and the bad becomes good. The memo went out. You can transform the awful images and stories into exactly what Hillary needs to win: A convincing presentation of herself as a feminist heroine.

I can't link to all the stories and video processing Hillary's bad-health news with the phrase "powering through." I wish I had a video montage of the use of the word in the last day or so. It would be funny. But I don't...

... and I just want to cherry-pick 3 that show the feminist-heroine move. (The 3rd one is critical of the move.)

1. In Salon, by Mary Elizabeth Williams: "Hillary powers through pneumonia — because that’s what women do/Why is it surprising that the presidential candidate kept working even while ill? Women do it every day."
We fear being viewed as weak, so we hustle through the job, hiding or downplaying our diagnoses and hoping nobody notices. Can you blame the Clinton campaign, which has been under absurd scrutiny for every head turn, every cough, for initially keeping Hillary’s illness quiet? Could the Clinton team not know that if you’re looking for an argument that someone is unfit for a job, having a treatable and temporary illness sure seems more credible than “is actually an ignorant, incompetent bigot but at least has a penis,” right? 
Yet Hillary’s stamina, as anyone who’s watched her over the past few decades should know, is a force to be reckoned with. And as writer Liz Meriwether pointed out Sunday, “If anything, the fact that she was campaigning with pneumonia proves that she’s tough as balls.”
2. In Bustle, by Elizabeth Strassner: "If Hillary Clinton's Working While Sick Is A Scandal, All Women Are Guilty."
I was surprised by the extent of the Clinton pneumonia coverage, in large part because I believed that other news stories this weekend were more important, but also because few people seemed to focus on the aspect of the story that was most interesting to me: namely, that Clinton powered through many campaign events despite an unpleasant illness....

Canadian politician and feminist Charlotte Whitton was famous for saying, "Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good." Clinton is simply the most recent and, perhaps, most famous of women who must actively work to rebuke the prejudice that they are somehow weaker than their male counterparts....

The days after Clinton's diagnosis when she continued to work are emblematic of a larger tradition of women feeling that they must work more than men in order to prove their equality. Trump himself has acknowledged this: He has said he hires women because their work ethic indicates that "there was something that they want to really prove." It is unsurprising, then, that many women do feel they must work overtime, either to correct the many insidious stereotypes about women in the workplace or to fit in the many household and child care tasks for which American women, compared to their husbands, are still disproportionately responsible.
3. Karol Markowicz in the New York Post: "Hillary apologists’ response to collapse is demeaning to women."
[W]hen unable to deny that Hillary had been seriously sick and pretending otherwise, the narrative became how she was emblematic of women powering through and getting the job done even when risking a lung collapse. Like a bad sitcom where the wife is always right and the husband is a lovable doofus, Hillary’s surrogates insisted that soldiering on in the face of contagious infections is just something that women do.

Emily Hauser, a columnist at The Week, tweeted, “So what I’m hearing is that Clinton got really sick & soldiered on anyway, & most people didn’t even notice b/c that’s what women do.” Actor Patton Oswalt seconded that, and tweeted: “Wait, so Hillary has PNEUMONIA and she’s still campaigning as hard as she is? You realize how badass that is, right?”

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm joined in, tweeting that “’powering through’ illness is what women do: Stoically, every. single. Day.” as if Hillary was battling the sniffles....

Was it stoicism or an unstoppable hunger for power that drove Hillary to get ill enough to collapse at an event and have to be carried away? It’s not just women we’d criticize for taking risks with their own health, and the health of those around them. But Hillary always has her fallback excuse: Stop being mean to me, I’m a woman.

Ham-handed Hillary-helping, continued.

"Yes, Most Donald Trump Supporters Are Deplorable and Irredeemable," by Jonathan Chait. ("Clinton committed a gaffe because she acknowledged a reality that literally every other person in America, including Donald Trump himself, is permitted to speak aloud.")

The post title references that quote from Bob Wright: "Well, my concern is that they are so ham-handed about it — they're so obvious about it — that it won't work."

"They" = mainstream media. "It" = pro-Hillary bias.

What an ideal vector for the Putin-is-poisoning-Hillary theory!

WaPo reports:
Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who has made the NFL so uncomfortable with his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased players, suggests that Hillary Clinton’s campaign be checked for possible poisons after her collapse Sunday in New York.

Omalu, whose story was famously told in the movie “Concussion,” made the suggestion on Twitter, writing that he advised campaign officials to “perform toxicologic analysis of Ms. Clinton’s blood".... adding that his reasoning is that he does not trust Russian President Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who has expressed admiration for Putin.

Putin, as The Washington Post reported, was implicated by a British inquiry in January in the poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB operative, in London in 2006....
The article presents Omalu's idea as if it's another conspiracy theory, but I assume that poisoning is one of the threats the Secret Service is looking out for. Here's a Snopes article on the President's "food taster":
Whether food tasters are employed on behalf of U.S. presidents when they're away from the White House is a subject that the Secret Service refrains from officially commenting on, but it's something of an open secret that they are....
But it is known the Service goes to great lengths to scrutinise the source and the preparation of food served to US presidents whenever they eat out of the White House to ensure it is not tampered with.
And I wouldn't assume that Hillary Clinton hasn't had a toxicologic analysis of her blood. If she had, would she tell us? First, even though I don't like her general tendency toward secretiveness, I don't think it's good to hear details about the threat of poisoning. It might encourage someone to act and give hints on how to evade detection. But what if Hillary has been tested and Omalu's suspicious are correct: She has been poisoned. Would she tell us? Should she tell us? Would it be classified? Would we find out slowly through small doses of suspicion like Omalu's tweets? My suspicion is that we would find out only what is deemed politically useful to Hillary Clinton (at least up to a point where she withdraws from politics). But what would be politically useful? It's politically useful to waft a theory that Putin may be poisoning her. Her campaign has been trying to paint Trump as chummy with Putin, and a Putin plot to help Trump would bolster the hell out of that theory.

Omalu seems to be a sort of folk hero. A movie was made about him. The movie — "Concussion" — starred Will Smith. What an ideal vector for the Putin-is-poisoning-Hillary theory!

September 12, 2016

What do we know about the 9% of voters who are under age 25?

"Pollsters have trouble reaching them, and they’re often excluded when a survey breaks out its results by group," reports FiveThirtyEight.
But new SurveyMonkey data (shared with FiveThirtyEight) suggests that Clinton is winning under-25 voters by half as much as Obama did.... [O]lder millennials are more likely to back her. Among voters ages 25 to 35, Clinton is leading 46 percent to 24 percent over Trump, with Johnson at 18 percent and Stein at 7 percent.

Are younger millennials simply more Republican-leaning? It doesn’t seem so. In fact, under-25 voters are more likely than any other age group to approve of the job Obama is doing as president....

Under-25 voters aren’t backing Trump in unusually large numbers. Instead, they’re either backing a third-party candidate or saying they’re undecided....

"The top 20 cities for male same-sex married couples are more likely to include dense city centers like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago."

"The top 20, while the top 20 cities for female same-sex married couples tend to include smaller and medium-size cities like Springfield, Mass.; Madison, Wis.; and Burlington, Vt," reports the NYT.
Women gravitated toward commitment more than men. Among the same-sex marriages, 55 percent involved same-sex women and 45 percent same-sex men....

The problem with anti-Trump bias is that the media are so "ham-handed about it... that it won't work."

Says Bob Wright (talking with me):

"I think we should have a debate with no moderator, just Hillary and I sitting there talking."

Said Donald Trump.

I'm sure Hillary doesn't want this. You never know when you'll need a Candy Crowley-style assist. But then again... key word: sitting
The Republican presidential candidate said that criticism of NBC’s Matt Lauer following last week’s candidate forum in New York City is an effort to manipulate the presidential debates.

“The fact is they are gaming the system,” Trump said of the criticism of Lauer, “and I think maybe we should have no moderator. Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate. I think the system is being rigged so it’s going to be a very unfair debate.”
I agree with him. The system is being rigged so it's going to be an unfair debate, but he's doing some re-rigging there: Everyone should assume that the moderators are doing all these things to boost and coddle and prop up Hillary, so if it looks anything close to a tie, that means I won.

But Trump, could you work on the me/I distinction? "Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate..." Give I a break.

The power of women to read the minds of men.

1. Power Line's John Hinderaker has a lot of problems with Hillary Clinton's story of what it was like for her to take the LSAT in 1968. Last May, Hillary said: "We were in this huge, cavernous room... And hundreds of people were taking this test, and there weren’t many women there. This friend and I were waiting for the test to begin, and the young men around us were like, ‘What do you think [you’re] doing? How dare you take a spot from one of us?’ It was just a relentless harangue.' Clinton and her friend were stunned. They’d spent four safe years at a women’s college, where these kinds of gender dynamics didn’t apply." Were the young men actually saying those things to her and her friend? We see the usage "were like" followed by statements a magazine (New York) put in quotes, but it's not quite an assertion that these words were said. It's more of a dramatization of what Hillary felt at the time, perhaps because of something they said — "harangue" implies some speaking on the part of the men — but perhaps Hillary is relaying only her sense of what they must have been thinking.

2. Recently, Lena Dunham described her experience at the very swanky Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Gala sitting at a table next to the talented, attractive football player Odell Beckham Jr. She said: "And it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like: 'That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.' It wasn’t mean. He just seemed confused." Again, we see something in quote marks with a to-be-like intro: "He was like." He didn't actually say those words. Dunham was simply performing her subjective ideation around what he might have been thinking about her. It's comical and she's a comedian. It has the advantage of being self-deprecating. But it attributes mean thoughts to him. He never said those things, and it's not that hard to tell that the quotes are not real quotes. But it takes a liberty with another person's mind.

3. I'll be looking for things to add to this list. I just noticed #1 today, and it made me think of #2. Send me suggestions. I'm especially interested in the "He was like" usage to grab the female privilege to present mind-readings of men. I'm not totally condemning the belief in and use of this power of women to read the minds of men. Figuring out what's really going on in other people's minds is one of the highest levels of human thought. It is what great novelist do. The key is doing it well and doing it ethically. Like a great novelist. Or a great comedian. Or great feminist scholar. But you have to work on that power, and it's not easy to be great, and even when you are great, you're going to annoy and outrage a lot of people, and they're not all going to bow down and acknowledge your greatness.

IN THE COMMENTS: I went first with:
An award will be given to the first person to make what I believe is THE most predictable comment.
After a number of incorrect efforts, I wrote:
Prize not yet won.

When I posted that, I read a couple more comments including the winner, by campy:
Predictable comment: there are no great feminist scholars.
The prize is front-paging. Congratulations, campy. And I appreciate that you put your award-winning comment in the voice of someone else making the wisecrack that pre-annoyed me and not as your own disparagement of feminist scholarship. Huzzah!