October 29, 2016

"Half of academic papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, peer reviewers, and journal editors."

"So what’s the reason for this madness? Why does the world continue to be subjected to just under 2 million academic journal articles each year?"

Asks Daniel Lattier in "Academics Write Rubbish Nobody Reads." I believe him that few academic articles are read and that they are written for the sake of the writer's resume. But that doesn't make them "rubbish." The process of writing develops the mind, and any given academic with his mind duly developed has a shot at benefiting colleagues and students who never read a word of it. And more importantly, there's something else, something that's the flip side of a negative point Lattier makes.
Ideally, the great academic minds of a society should be put to work for the sake of building up that society and addressing its problems. Instead, most Western academics today are using their intellectual capital to answer questions that nobody’s asking on pages that nobody’s reading.

What a waste.
Oh, I don't think we really want to put academics to work building up society and addressing its problems. It might be a very good thing to contain these academic types in a place where they won't do too much damage. It may be that we have marginalized these very intelligent people who live deeply in their own minds and conjure up new ideas because it's best to keep them separated and deactivated.

No one forces anyone to go into academics, and the people who go there may know — on some level — that they don't belong in the world of business and politics, that they shouldn't have their hands directly on any levers of power. The academy is a structural safeguard. We don't lock these people up. We give them a place they can choose to go, where they will be comfortable. Don't worry too much about the waste in not using them more... not until you've calculated the waste they would cause if set free to solve our problems.

Who is Althouse voting for anyway?

Do you even know? Take your best guess. The options are in alphabetical order:

Who is Althouse voting for?
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October orange.



"I got a lot of respect for Jim Comey, but I don't understand this idea of dropping this bombshell which could be a big dud."

"Doing it in the last week or 10 days of a presidential election without more information, I don't think that he should because how does it inform a voter? It just invites speculation ... I would question the timing of it. It's not going to get done in a week."

Said former federal prosector Peter Zeidenberg, one of the prosecutors quoted in Politico's "Comey's disclosure shocks former prosecutors/FBI director's announcement of new evidence in the Clinton probe compounds criticism of his earlier willingness to discuss the case."

"When linguistic analysis goes horribly wrong: no, Donald Trump doesn't 'talk like a woman.'"

Fighting back against that article we were talking about here the other day, the Columbia linguistics professor John McWhorter writes:
[I]t has been shown that women and men's speech does differ according to almost confoundingly particular attributes....The question is what it all means. It isn't an accident that it’s so hard to wrap your head around the idea of "the" and "below" as "guy talk."

One clear problem here is that femaleness is not the only heading the traits that Jones has identified fall under... A linguist recognizes all of these traits as more typical of casual, spoken language as opposed to formal, written language.

In speech, we are personal ("I"). We use a relatively basic vocabulary and we often grope for words beyond it, resorting to catch-all terms like "Whatchamacallit" and "that thing." In running speech, which is most of how we use language day to day, we are concerned with the immediate context rather than crafting abstractions about the broader world beyond us. Articles like "the" and "a" help us describe things — "a" for new things versus "the" for that which we already know. Prepositions are an especially odd aspect of Jones’s findings, but prepositions are part of placing new things in time and space.
Are you telling me that the linguistics research that extracted these male/female differences did not control the choice of texts so that the speakers were in comparable situations motivated by the same purposes?! Did they compare women's casual spoken word to men's formally crafted writings?

"I have lived for a while in the West, and I found that the life of a woman is very difficult, for she has to bear heavy burdens that only a man can undertake."

"Whereas in our country, the man provides all forms of comfort for the woman."

One of the quotes under the subheading "The System Works for Some" in "'I Live in a Lie': Saudi Women Speak Up," a collection of quotes responding to a call from the NYT for stories from Saudi women. The call triggered a Twitter hashtag لاـ تقولون ـ للنيويورك ـ تايمز (“Don’t tell The New York Times”) and that lead to things like: "#don’t_tell_theNewYork_times that if your father rapes you and you run away, then you will go to prison, and if they let you out, then they will send you back to him."

I found it very interesting to think about the problem of the subordination of women from the perspective of those who have to operate within "the guardianship" and who therefore devote effort to speaking to their male relatives in private and influencing them to become more "enlightened" and supportive of women's freedom and independence. From the collection of quotes:
I am one of the lucky women who had an amazing and enlightened father and wonderful brothers, who do not interfere in my choices and support me all the way...  — Abeer Abdul Hamid, 50, London

The guardianship thing hasn’t affected my life because I’m not facing any problems with it due to my dad is a very cooperative man and he’s open-minded. — Latifah, 22, Riyadh

I have the best father in the whole world. He understands what Islamic rules are, and he applies them correctly. For example, I have a goal of building my own early-intervention center for children with disabilities. My dad encouraged me to follow that dream and sent me to study here in the U.S. I know how much hard it’s been on him and my family to let me go, but he came with me first and helped me finding an apartment and all the stuff I needed. Then, when everything was going smoothly, he returned to Saudi. Therefore, I need a guardianship in my life.— D.A., 26, New York
Rules require interpretation, and within a group, such as a family, there is a lot of room for interpretation and arrival at the conviction that you've found the correct interpretation. The process of finding meaning — good, beneficent meaning — within a traditional system can work much better than throwing it off and starting from scratch or taking on somebody else's tradition.

Hillary Clinton is so imbued with email that her public speech sounds like email messages between political insiders.

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton did a short press conference about FBI director's Comey's letter to Congress about reopening the email investigation. Here's part of that:
REPORTER: What would you say to a voter who right now will be seeing you and hearing what you're saying, saying I didn't trust her before. I don't trust her any more right now....

HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I think people a long time ago made up their minds about the e-mails. I think that's factored into what people think and now they are choosing a president.
So the question is: What would you say to a voter? And the answer — the nonanswer — is: People don't think. They're done thinking. Anything that could be in the email is already factored into their opinion of me.

It sounds as though she's delivering the contents of what could have been an emailed conversation with her confidantes about what she could say to voters. I imagine a private conversation hitting upon the idea of maybe voters will think that they don't need to think about email anymore because they've already heard a lot about email, and that if they are still voting or considering voting for her, they've factored it in.

But that's not what you should say outright to voters. You should say something that makes them feel they've already absorbed and digested the email and have had their fill. You shouldn't reveal that's what you want them to think!

It reminds me of President George H.W. Bush:

"Message: I care" came in January 1992 as he was just gearing up the process of losing the election to Bill Clinton — Bill Clinton, who had a special knack for making people feel that he cared.

October 28, 2016

Bob Dylan says he'll attend the Nobel Awards ceremony: "Absolutely. If it’s at all possible."

This comes in an interview with The Telegraph's Edna Gunderson:
And as he talks, he starts to sound pretty pleased about becoming a Nobel laureate. “It’s hard to believe,” he muses. His name has been mentioned as on the shortlist for a number of years, but the announcement was certainly not expected. When he was first told, it was, Dylan confides, “amazing, incredible. Whoever dreams about something like that?”

In which case, I can’t help but ask, why the long public silence about what it means? Jean-Paul Sartre famously declined the award in 1964, but Dylan has these past weeks seemed intent on simply refusing to acknowledge its existence....

For his part, Dylan sounds genuinely bemused by the whole ruckus. It is as if he can’t quite fathom where all the headlines have come from, that others have somehow been over-reacting. Couldn’t he just have taken the calls from the Nobel Committee?

“Well, I’m right here,” he says playfully, as if it was simply a matter of them dialling his number, but he offers no further explanation.
AND: Does he think his work belongs in the Nobel literature category? Gunderson reminds him of what's being said about Homer and Sappho and how their poems were written to be sung, but we still read them apart from whatever that music was supposed to be, and Bob Dylan's words could be read.
“I suppose so, in some way. Some [of my own] songs – “Blind Willie”, “The Ballad of Hollis Brown”, “Joey”, “A Hard Rain”, “Hurricane”, and some others – definitely are Homeric in value.”

Judge Posner "corrects" his statement that only Justices Ginsburg and Breyer are "qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court.

I blogged the statement yesterday, here. Maybe Judge Posner read some of your scornful comments, because now there's this:
The second correction I’d like to see made has to do with my saying that none of the sitting Justices (plus Scalia) is “qualified” for the Supreme Court except Ginsburg and Breyer. This could be misunderstood to mean that I think the others lack the necessary paper credentials, of which the most important are graduating from a law school and passing the bar exam (though one of our greatest Justices, Robert Jackson, had just a year of law school, and did not graduate). That was not my intention in using the word “qualified” (if I did use it). I meant good enough to be a Supreme Court Justice. There are something like 1.2 million American lawyers, some of whom are extremely smart, fair minded, experienced, etc. I sometimes ask myself: whether the nine current Supreme Court Justices (I’m restoring Scalia to life for this purpose) are the nine best-qualified lawyers to be Justices. Obviously not. Are they nine of the best 100? Obviously not. Nine of the best 1,000? I don’t think so. Nine of the best 10,000? I’ll give them that.
I wouldn't call that a "correction." It's pretty much what I understood him to mean the first time around.

And as long as I'm going back to that, let me explain what I meant yesterday when I related that Posner post to the post quoting Howard Stern saying that Donald Trump was able to do a good Howard Stern Show interview because he got in "the spirit of the show" which is "to talk like real people." I said:
Talking like a real person... then running for office. That's dangerous... unless you're a saintly real person. Most politicians get on-task, self-censoring, and robotic. That's the normal way to stay out of this kind of trouble.  
To get appointed to the Supreme Court you have to control your speech and not give the President's antagonists material they can use against you. You cannot be Robert Bork. That is, you cannot be an outspoken, interesting person like Judge Posner. That's what disqualifies you politically. So there's reason to say that everyone who is really qualified is politically disqualified.

And I do regret using the word "saintly." I think more highly of saints than that, and I bow to Paddy O's comment:
A saint would have even less chance than Trump. A real saint offends all the powerful, so wouldn't even get a chance to stand on a primary stage.

"Supreme Court takes up transgender school bathroom case."

CNN reports.

And here's a WaPo op-ed written by the litigant, Gavin Grimm:
I did not choose to announce to the news media that I am transgender. My school board made that decision for me. But now that I am visible, I want to use my position to help the country see transgender people like me as real people just living our lives. We are not perverse. We are not broken. We are not sick. We are not freaks. We cannot change who we are. Our gender identities are as innate as anyone else’s.

If the Supreme Court does take up my case, I hope the justices can see me and the rest of the transgender community for who we are — just people — and rule accordingly.
The case is Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., and you can tell by the name that the school lost in the court below. That means that if the 8-person Supreme Court splits evenly, Gavin Grimm wins. 

"Could Trump Be Impeached Shortly After He Takes Office?/It's highly improbable, but law scholars and political junkies are speculating about it."

Oh, that's just something from last April, in Politico. It popped up first when I Googled "impeaching before elected" after reading the breaking news: "F.B.I. Reviewing New Emails in Hillary Clinton Case":
The F.B.I. said Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the closed investigation into whether Hillary Clinton or her aides had mishandled classified information, potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.
And here's the article I was looking for with that Google search, Andrew McCarthy in The National Review: "Impeach Clinton to Bar Her from Holding Federal Office. It’s Constitutional."

ADDED: "New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices."
Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner. The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina....
This is one of these Friday afternoons.

AND: That last link goes to the NYT where the top-rated (by far) comment is: "And with one strangely opaque and noncommittal letter James Comey puts his thumb on the scales of the presidential election with 11 days to go. Truly this is a never ending nightmare."

ALSO: I removed the link on "F.B.I. Reviewing New Emails in Hillary Clinton Case" because it's gone dead. The material that was at the link is now at "New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices" (which is in the "ADDED" section above).

"We love the Hindus! We love India!"

Trump's pro-India ad is so weird.

Last night's rats.

Drawn by finger in texts to Meade last night, without thinking.

I'm remembering them now as I read about rats in the NYT: "How the Brown Rat Conquered New York City (and Every Other One, Too)." I take the trouble to try to draw the rat in one of this pictures...

Ack! Too much detail.

Not enough room in the window for my favorite parts, the steppin'-out paws....

Too much detail to take account of. I need to look away, forget about it, and try again later going on whatever impression is left on my brain... the tiny paw-tracks of memory.

Makes me think of Wordsworth: "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." Recollected. That's key.

"People sometimes commend me on how 'brave' it was for us to not have children. I laugh..."

"... because to my mind, I arrived at it in just about the most cowardly way: I lucked into childlessness (if having a defective uterus can be considered luck). Deep down I didn’t want to have children, but I kept limping toward motherhood anyway, because I thought I should want them until, in the end, my anatomy dictated my destiny."

From a NYT op-ed by Sari Botton with a title that is so wrong in tone and substance that I don't want to skew your thinking by putting it here.

"Many of us, ever since we first saw the guys in 'West Side Story,' have been in love with skintight jeans."

"(Many of us also have tried to duplicate the choreography of The Jets only to accidentally knock the cat off the bed. But I digress.) We have eaten carefully and worked out. Is our reward in midlife supposed to be a pair of dungarees so big and loose, they look like an orthopedist recommended them after knee replacement surgery? I say: No way! We haven’t exercised this much, skirted the carbs and avoided all those delicious desserts so we can look like a retired president who’s going to a Dave Matthews concert, have we? It’s time someone took a stand against all this self-imposed dorkiness. And I guess that someone is me."

From "Men, just say no to Dad jeans," by Peter Gerstenzang.

I'm struggling with this call to manliness that's premised on wanting to be like the gang-dancers in that old Broadway musical.  The classic great looking jeans of that era were Levi's 501 jeans which were not skintight and certainly not referred to as "skinny jeans." It was this:

The choice is not between "skinny jeans" and "dad jeans." Those are 2 dumb deviations in opposite directions from the ideal, which is just James Dean in Levi's 501 jeans. How can something so obvious for so long be forgotten?

Why did this American couple give their great art collection to a French museum?

"In the end, 'we decided to give it where we thought it would be appreciated the most,' [Spencer] Hays said on Wednesday, speaking in a Southern drawl and sitting in the couple’s cozy art-filled pied-à-terre [in Paris]. Their place is a short walk from the Musée d’Orsay, where the works will one day be on display — the largest foreign donation to France since World War II..."
“We told [France’s culture minister, Audrey Azoulay] we had decided to give all of our art to the French people,” Mr. Hays said. “The only thing we wanted to be sure she would do for us, we wanted it in one place, we want it all together, we don’t ever want any of it to be sold, and we never want it to be stored; we always want it on the wall.”...

Some might have hoped that the art would remain in the United States. “I felt guilty about that for a long time, but then I realized that more Americans would see the art here because so many people go to the Orsay,” Ms. Hays said, sitting in an Art Deco chair beneath two Bonnards and a Vuillard, two cornerstone painters in their collection.

"As the only person anyone knows who has spent time in a Zimbabwe jail, you should pen an oped calling for his killer’s extradition. What an asshole. Missed you at the mini-reunion."

Wikileaked email from John Podesta to Barry Bearak.

Bearak is a reporter who got thrown in prison in Zimbabwe as he was covering the elections there.

The "killer" in question was the man who killed Cecil the Lion.

I assume Podesta — writing for an audience of one — intended to be edgily hilarious. That's the trouble with eavesdropping. You don't get the relationship. You don't know the in-jokes. I mean, I was just giving some more thought to what I wrote about Chelsea Clinton's email to her parents that said "I hope this mini-behemoth is not rife with grammatical errors...." It could be that "mini-behemoth" is a joke among the 3 Clintons. Maybe one time they laughed over this obscure video. Or maybe they've fooled around with this toy.

Context is everything. Relationships are everything. In fact, the reason people cared about Cecil the Lion was because he wasn't just another lion — as the asshole/dentist killer thought — but a lion people had been relating to for many years.

You think with these leaks that you're getting into the private zone, hearing what really goes on, but that's exactly what you cannot do. You cannot be fair. I'm not saying don't read those leaked emails. Don't pretend you don't see what you do. But don't assume you know what they mean.

Here's Barry Bearak's report from 2008, "In Zimbabwe Jail: A Reporter’s Ordeal":

"I’m troubled by the revelation that you and this campaign actually discussed ‘using’ Eric Garner … Why would you want to ‘use my dad?"

"These people will co opt anything to push their agenda. Police violence is not the same as gun violence." And: "I'm [very] interested to know exactly what @CoreyCiorciari meant when he said ‘I know we have an Erica Garner problem’ in the #PodestaEmails19."

Eric Garner's daughter Erica Garner tweets out about what she saw in the Wikileaked email.

This strikes me as the human instinct: If you think you have me as your problem, I will be your problem.

"Speaking of news, there's as usual no sensible explanation of Pence's plane off the runway."

"Nobody can find a single person able to offer a simple technical explanation. Hard landing suggests they were either fast or long and in a hurry to get it down to start slowing, which is a pilot error. You're supposed to go around."

Writes rhhardin (in the comments to the previous post).

Here's a typical article on the Pence plane incident, short on technical substance and padded with fluff — like Pence throwing a football at some earlier point in the day, the choice of food on the flight (salmon or pork, the pork with "loaded potato"), the Secret Service joke before the landing ("93 percent chance we crash"), the view from the window ("Grass and mud starts coming up"), the thoughts in the head of one passenger ("Are we going to stop in the water? Are we going to stop in the grass? Are we going to hit something? … What’s the end game here?”), the smell ("like rubber, like burnt rubber"), quotes from people who didn't know what happened ("We were trying to figure out what the f--- had happened"), and the difficulty passengers had getting reconnected with their luggage.

Because I think the NYT is terribly slanted toward helping the Clintons, I read everything with an eye toward getting to normal.

I think: How would the equivalent material be presented in an article about Trump? And then I try to average it out, back to the middle. It's annoying, but it's possibly a good mental exercise, not unlike what I do when I read what I have to read for my job: judicial opinions. I don't have to read The New York Times, but where else am I going to get the news? Everything else is also bad in its own way, and I'm accustomed to the bad that is The New York Times.

This morning what I'm reading is "Chelsea Clinton’s Frustrations and Devotion Shown in Hacked Emails," by Amy Chozick. I assume the damaging material — which would be right up front in a Trump article — begins to appear many paragraphs down. I'm not going to tarry at the mushy beginning. (The first paragraph reads like a children's book: "Chelsea Clinton was alarmed.")

So let's skip ahead:
Though her housecleaning role had Hillary Clinton’s tacit approval (“My mother strongly agreed,” Ms. Clinton said in one email laying out proposed changes at the foundation)....
Ugh! Not far enough! (But let me just say that language-oriented feminists would chide Chozick for that "housecleaning" metaphor.)
Ms. Clinton, 31 at the time, had held various jobs, including positions at McKinsey & Company and Avenue Capital, a hedge fund owned by a major Clinton donor. She had degrees from Stanford, Oxford and Columbia but had not quite found a way to harness all of her academic wherewithal...
Translation: Chelsea was at loose ends, drifting, unable or unwilling to make anything out of her long and very elite education. The word "wherewithal" is particularly silly, especially with the mixed-metaphor verb "harness." "Wherewithal," the noun, is usually a polysyllabic way to say money. The unnecessary reaching for polysyllabic words is an old-fashioned form of humor. H.W. Fowler cautioned against it all the way back in 1908. What is this urge, suddenly, to write like George Eliot or Charles Dickens? They were not bullshitting us. Are you?

And the funny thing is, Chozick sees that Chelsea Clinton is dipping into inane polysyllababble*:
Ms. Clinton often gravitated to weighty policy discussions and interspersed statistics and SAT words into casual conversations.

Hours after the 2012 attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, she mused about the unrest in Egypt and Libya in a late-night email to her mother. “Such anathema to us as Americans — and a painful reminder of how long it took modernism to take root in the U.S., after the Enlightenment, the 14th, 15th, 16th, 19th amendments,” she wrote. “Much to discuss when we talk, hopefully tomorrow?”

In another email addressed to “Dad, Mom,” Ms. Clinton seemed apologetic, writing, “I hope this mini-behemoth is not rife with grammatical errors or inadvertent gaps; I am sorry if either true.”
"SAT words" is putting it kindly. Why would a 31-year-old woman who went to Stanford, Oxford,** and Columbia use words like "anathema" and "behemoth"*** so badly, and why would the only offspring of Bill and Hillary Clinton even feel the need to try to impress her parents in the first place? What did they do to deserve it? Does it have anything to do with why Chelsea was at loose ends so late in her privileged life and why they installed her in their charitable operation?

Now, the meat of the Chozick piece is the "cascade of grievances, gossip and infighting" that the installation of Chelsea unleashed at the foundation:
Ms. Clinton had already started to fret about the intermingling of foundation business with Teneo, the corporate consulting firm co-founded by Douglas J. Band, one of her father’s closest aides. She suggested an audit of the charity and wrote that she was concerned that Teneo’s principals had been “hustling” business at foundation gatherings....
Band fought back with a 13-page memo about all the millions he'd raised for the foundation and Bill Clinton:
“We have solicited and obtained, as appropriate, in-kind services for the president and his family — for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like,” Mr. Band wrote.

The subtext was clear: Where Ms. Clinton saw a messy overlapping of business and charity that could haunt both of her parents, Mr. Band saw an ungrateful daughter who was naïve about how what he called “Bill Clinton Inc.” made its money, and how her own expensive lifestyle was funded.

“I just don’t think any of this is right and that we should be treated this way when no one else is, only because CVC has nothing better to do and need justify her existence,” he wrote in one email, using the initials for Chelsea Victoria Clinton. Mr. Band, who had already planned to leave the foundation to focus on Teneo, often expressed frustration at the global charity’s nepotism, pointing to Ms. Clinton’s installing her friends in central roles....
That is buried in the center of Chozick's piece, which proceeds into some fluff about a note "from the Bon Jovis" and Bill Clinton "buying clorox wipes" and Chelsea's feeling "profoundly disturbed" about the Haitian earthquake. Remember the headline: The idea is to leave you with an amorphous, generalized empathy for Chelsea with her frustrations and daughterly devotion.

But the story from the leaked emails is about the inner workings of the Clinton foundation — how the Clintons got rich finagling in a way that Band justified and Chelsea seems to have been able to see was quite wrong.

* I just coined that word, polysyllababble. But Google tells me it has been used twice before in the history of mankind as revealed by the internet, so let's just say I discovered it independently and I'm surprised I'm in a group as small as 3.

** Note that I, unlike Chozick, use the Oxford comma after "Oxford."

*** The Oxford English Dictionary defines "behemoth" as "An animal mentioned in the book of Job; probably the hippopotamus; but also used in modern literature as a general expression for one of the largest and strongest animals."

Going braless.

Here's a nice Buzzfeed video from last year about a bunch of young women who go braless for a week and talk about how they feel about the experience, before they do it and after:

I ran across that just now because my mind went in that direction when I was writing the previous post about a pencil test to see if the floors are slanted in that apartment you're considering renting. In my experience, the "pencil test" is a way to determine if you can get away with going braless.

I've got many things to say about going braless, but I've been blogging so long that I've probably already said everything worth saying. So, from the archive:

1. From July 2007: A summer associate texted a senior partner to ask if bras were part of the dress code. Hmm. Maybe the real question there was are you people strait-laced. Maybe that woman had a lot of options. Anyway, I offered my advice for going braless at work: Figure out how to do it so no one knows. If you can. Jackets. Layers. Come on, people. The women in that Buzzfeed video did not even attempt to do that.

2. September 2005: Critiquing a new Maidenform ad that has the "I dreamed I" woman staying home with a baby, I said: "If I'm staying home with kids, that bra is coming off! A bra is for going out into the male-dominated world and achieving. As soon as you cross the home threshold, that bra is off. Right, ladies? What is the lag time for you between when you walk through the door and when you take off the bra? Five minutes, tops? Is it the first, second, or third thing you do when you come home?"

3. March 2008: From an 8-point list of things people might question in the image of a law professor, #4 was bralessness: "I've always assumed the rule here is that you can go braless in class if no one can tell. There are many other breast-related questions, but perhaps you would think it unprofessional of me to ask them." I nip that discussion in the bud.

4. June 2009: "'There is, so far as [The Straight Dope] can discover, zero evidence that bras prevent saggy breasts.' I recommend bralessness. At least don’t let fear of drooping breasts stop you." Someone in the comments says a bra "sops up sweat under your breasts," and I retort "Go braless so you don't develop a place called 'under your breasts.'"

5. April 2013: More scientific news that wearing a bra doesn't prevent breasts from becoming saggy. It accelerates sagginess. "Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity. Instead, it languishes with a bra."

"Ms. Turner didn’t initially notice her apartment’s slanted floors. But now, despite her efforts to level the bed..."

"... 'it’s to the extent where I am afraid that it’s breaking my bed frame,' she said. Sometimes dresser drawers open on their own, 'kind of like it’s haunted.' She rearranged the furniture to account for the slope. Friends told her she should have tested apartments by bringing something to roll on the floor, like a pencil, but that never occurred to her."

From a NYT article about a young law school graduate searching for and finding an apartment in NYC. She wanted and got a small 1-bedroom where she could have a dog and that fit her budget of  $3,000 to $3,500 a month.

October 27, 2016

And now the prosecution has fizzled too. Fizzles all around.

"Ammon and Ryan Bundy and five of their followers, charged in the armed takeover of a federally owned Oregon wildlife sanctuary in January, were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges... There was a Wild West quality to the episode, with armed men in cowboy hats taking on federal agents in a tussle over public lands and putting out a call for aid, only to see their insurrection fizzle...."

The NYT reports.

It was kind of short, that thing of making a thing out of shortness.

Twitter acquired Vine in 2013, and now they're packing it in. Twitter lives on, struggling, making a go of 140 characters, but Vine, those loops of 6 seconds, is done.

It was sweet for a time.
To skeptics who sweated our ever-eradicating attention spans—and to creators who were accustomed to telling stories over the course of minutes and hours, not mere seconds—Vine must initially have seemed like a low-brow Beelzebub, a goofy lark for people who wanted instant, swiftly forgettable gratification. But what users and viewers soon discovered was that, by isolating and repeating small moments, Vines could be kind of brilliant: They could amplify a joke, heighten a weird moment’s dream-like goofiness, and make the banal seem beautiful—sometimes all at once.
Like this:

And this:

That's all. It's over. It was always almost over. And now it's really truly over. You're free, at long last, at short first.

"This is who Trump is. He was always bombastic. He always rated women. He always talked in a misogynistic, sexist kind of way..."

"... but he did it sort of proudly and out in the open; and he still won the Republican primary. In one sense, the fact that we do an interview and people's personalities come out, I'm very proud of that," said Howard Stern.
"I, certainly, in a million years, I didn't expect Trump to seriously run for president," Stern said. "All the times he came on the show he was a very good sport and he was in the spirit of the show. He's been very friendly toward me, friendly toward the show, always coming on, so I certainly wasn't going to f--- him over by releasing those tapes. Those tapes are out there on the internet anyway, so that was my stance."
"As far as my role goes, I feel proud in the sense that, I don't think anybody else does an interview the way this show does," he continued. "Everyone when they interview is sort of afraid to talk like real people. Now those words are biting him in the ass, but in general, we have a different kind of interviewing process than any other place. Which is why, all of the sudden, everyone, CNN, NBC, Fox, they have to turn to our tapes because it's a real conversation."
Talking like a real person... then running for office. That's dangerous... unless you're a saintly real person. Most politicians get on-task, self-censoring, and robotic. That's the normal way to stay out of this kind of trouble. 

This post is related to this post, and I hope you see why, because I don't have time to explain it.

Spinning right round... spinning out.

Goodbye to Pete Burns, of Dead or Alive. Yes, he's dead now. You'll will be too some day, hopefully only after a quite a few more spins round.

Writing the post title about that 80s song sent me back to a 60s song — "Spinout" (which lets you see where Elvis was in my favorite pop music year, 1966):

"I think the Supreme Court is awful. I think it’s reached a real nadir."

"Probably only a couple of the justices, Breyer and Ginsburg, are qualified. They’re okay, they’re not great."

Said Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit.

"Qualified" is the new high standard. We're lucky to get an okay judge these days. Greatness is showy and not a good way to get a lofty judicial nomination. Greatness is disqualifying... and I'm sure Posner knows that.

This is what Democrats actually did in Wisconsin when Scott Walker took office as governor in 2011.

I'm reading a NYT article that's teased on the front page with the headline "Some Trump Voters Warn of Revolution if Clinton Wins" and the quote "People are going to march on the capitols. They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there." From the text of the article:
[A] new emotion is taking hold among some Trump supporters as they grapple with reports predicting that he will lose the election: a dark fear about what will happen if their candidate is denied the White House. 
Dark? What makes fear dark?
Some worry that they will be forgotten, along with their concerns and frustrations. Others believe the nation may be headed for violent conflict.

Jared Halbrook, 25, of Green Bay, Wis., said that if Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, which he worried would happen through a stolen election, it could lead to “another Revolutionary War.” “People are going to march on the capitols,” said Mr. Halbrook, who works at a call center. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there.
Oh! He's from Wisconsin. We know all about marching on the capitol here in Wisconsin.
“If push comes to shove,” he added, and Mrs. Clinton “has to go by any means necessary, it will be done.”
The article continues with another quote and it's somebody else from Wisconsin!
“It’s not what I’m going to do, but I’m scared that the country is going to go into a riot,” said Roger Pillath, 75, a retired teacher from Coleman, Wis. “I’ve never seen the country so divided, just black and white — there’s no compromise whatsoever. The Clinton campaign says together we are stronger, but there’s no together. The country has never been so divided. I’m looking at revolution right now.”
The country has never been so divided, but what about this state?

"On Oct. 24, Trump’s team began placing spots on select African American radio stations."

"In San Antonio, a young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the 'super predator' line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: 'Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.' The animation will be delivered to certain African American voters through Facebook 'dark posts'—nonpublic posts whose viewership the campaign controls so that, as Parscale puts it, 'only the people we want to see it, see it.' The aim is to depress Clinton’s vote total. 'We know because we’ve modeled this,' says the official. 'It will dramatically affect her ability to turn these people out.'"

From "Inside the Trump Bunker, With 12 Days to Go/Win or lose, the Republican candidate and his inner circle have built a direct marketing operation that could power a TV network—or finish off the GOP" at Bloomberg Businessweek. Parscale is Brad Parscale, who, we are told, is the "up-from-nothing striver" who runs Donald Trump’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

"My problem is that if I think the president is the lowest form of life, if I think he is an orange amoeba, I cannot get to discuss policy..."

"... because I am stuck down there at the fact that he is not fit to be president."

Said Ana Navarro, quoted in "Conservative panelists erupt over Trump's record, polls" (at CNN).

That photo of a giant amoeba, Chaos carolinense, comes from Wikipedia. I oranged it up myself. I just wanted to help you visualize Navarro's insult.

"The Oued Zem scammers trawl Facebook for victims, and as soon as a man answers a video call..."

"... they activate software that shows the victim a pre-recorded video of a girl downloaded from a porn webcam site. They are so familiar with this video that they are able to chat-message their victims at exactly the points where the girl appears to be typing on the keyboard...."
[One of the scammers, "Omar," says]: "The weak point of Arabs is sex. So you look for their weaknesses, and you exploit them. The other weakness is when they are married, for example. You can exploit that. Then there are the really religious guys. You see someone who looks like a sheikh, carrying the Koran, and you think, 'There's no way he'll fall for this - but let's try him anyway.' And when you try, he falls for it."

Omar says he earns about $500 (£400) every day from the scam, and that hundreds of other young men in Oued Zem are doing the same.

"I saw the news story and was empowered by another girl being able to tell what happened to her, that I thought I could now finally tell."

From a Washington Post article "Dozens come forward in University of Wisconsin sex assault case, ‘stalking’ list seized."


I learned a new word: Mastaba. I was reading about the artist Christo, who has a project in Abu Dhabi, a permanent sculpture called "The Mastaba." It's something he's worked on, he says, for 40 years, "a massive sculpture that would comprise some 410,000 barrels."

"Mastaba" reminds me of a familiar English word, but I couldn't imagine something playfully sexual coming from Christo and getting built in Abu Dhabi. And, indeed...
A mastaba... is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides.... These edifices marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt's Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom.... The word 'mastaba' comes from the Arabic word for a bench of mud, and when seen from a distance a mastaba does resemble a bench....

The mastaba housed a statue of the deceased that was hidden within the masonry for its protection. High up the walls of the serdab [cellar] were small openings that would allow the ba [soul] to leave and return to the body (represented by the statue); Ancient Egyptians believed the ba had to return to its body or it would die. These openings "were not meant for viewing the statue but rather for allowing the fragrance of burning incense, and possibly the spells spoken in rituals, to reach the statue."

October 26, 2016

"I’ve never had this much fun in one year. I’ll be sad after election day, no matter who wins."

"Unless I am literally insane. In that case I’ll probably keep enjoying myself."

Trump's "speaking style is more feminine by far than any other candidate in the 2016 cycle, more feminine than any other presidential candidate since 2004."

According to "Donald Trump Talks Like a Woman," by Julie Sedivy in Politico Magazine. Sedivy is a linguistics and psychology expert who is looking at statistical research that shows "clear... differences" between men and women:
[M]en are more likely to swear and use words that signal aggression, while women are more likely to use tentative language (words like maybe, seems or perhaps) and emotion-laden words (beautiful, despise)." But other patterns are far from obvious.... [W]omen are heavier users than men of the pronoun “I” whereas the reverse is true for the pronoun “we”; women produce more common verbs (are, start, went) and auxiliary verbs (am, don’t, will), while men utter more articles (a, the) and prepositions (to, with, above); women use fewer long words than men when speaking or writing across a broad range of contexts....

But Donald Trump is a stunning outlier. His linguistic style is startlingly feminine, so much so that the chasm between Trump and the next most feminine speaker, Ben Carson, is about as great as the difference between Carson and the least feminine candidate, Jim Webb. And Trump earns his ranking not just because he talks a lot about himself or avoids big words (both of which are true)... he also shows feminine patterns on the more subtle measures, such as his use of prepositions and articles. The key then is not what Trump talks about—making Mexico pay for the wall or bombing the hell out of ISIL—but rather how he says it....
Much more at the link. I'm very interested in this because Meade and I have often talked about how feminine Trump is (even as he has some obviously masculine things about him). I'd also point to his gestures and the tone of his voice.

Trump's use of language is a great mystery. Obviously, some people react very negatively to it, perhaps because they have a prejudice against women and instinctively feel that human beings who are too emotional and relationship-oriented should not be trusted with power. Others respond very enthusiastically to him, even way out of proportion to their alignment with his policy issues. I'm thinking of the religious social conservatives but I'm also thinking of myself. I don't agree with much of what he says and he strikes me as ridiculously underprepared for the responsibility of the presidency, but I am strangely drawn to him. What is it with very unusual man? Possible answer: He's so womanly.

"The polling data in 1980 had Jimmy Carter nine points, winning by nine points, four or five days out."

"I will never forget that election night, folks. In 1980 it was so bad for the Democrats — they got skunked so bad — Jimmy Carter conceded before 10 p.m. Eastern time.  Those three networks, you should have seen the long faces and all of the reporters that were at various campaign headquarter locations...."

"President Obama ridiculed on Snapchat by daughter Sasha."

But that's only something we know because Obama talked about it. That is, he ribbed her.

"Africans chuckle at ugly US election."

A BBC headline.
Under the hashtag [#Nov8AfricanEdition], Nigerians and other Africans have been flipping the script and imagining how events in America would be reported if they were happening in Africa, with fake "breaking news" headlines and sarcastic support.

Man gives half his liver to a complete stranger, and now he's marrying her.

"'I heard a co-worker talking about his cousin who needed a liver transplant. I just thought to myself, I would want someone to help me or my family in that situation.' The 38-year-old decided to get himself tested and discovered he was a match for the then Miss Krueger, now 27...."
In the weeks leading up to the transplant, they began to spend increasing amounts of time together as Mr Dempsey and his motorcycle club threw themselves into fundraising.

"We were going out looking for donations for a benefit, and I just started thinking, she's a really nice girl, she is somebody I would like to get to know."...

"If the Cubs would’ve won it when I was, say, 3 years old, the rest of my fandom wouldn’t have been imbued with a greater, Sisyphean meaning."

"So, on my deathbed, yes, I should want nothing else than to cash in [on the 'American option — a piece of paper we Cubs fans carry around in our pocket and turn in at the bliss counter one day when they Win the World Series']."

"A Young Athlete Who Uses Vigorol."

An ad from 1901, when beef tea "fortified health and cured a host of physical concerns."

And in the summer... iced beef tea:

Chelsea Clinton, speaking in Madison to an audience of "a few hundred," said children are getting bullied in school because of the "Trump effect."

We're told — by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Jason Stein — that Chelsea "gave examples" of this "Trump effect" bullying that she attributed to what she called "an almost daily diet of hate speech" coming from Trump.

I could have walked down the street and joined what Stein calls "a young crowd of supporters... at the upscale Overture Center for the Arts." But I chose not to. I'm just a little lazy at night. And the World Series was on. And frankly, I don't like seeing famous people. It feels creepy. Like that waiter playing the role of waiter that we were just talking about.

Anyway, speaking of bullying, I should link to Scott Adams's post yesterday calling the Democrats "The Bully Party":
If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.

If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.

[I]f you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.

On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.

We know from Project Veritas that Clinton supporters tried to incite violence at Trump rallies. The media downplays it.

We also know Clinton’s side hired paid trolls to bully online. You don’t hear much about that....

Joe Biden said he wanted to take Trump behind the bleachers and beat him up. No one on Clinton’s side disavowed that call to violence because, I assume, they consider it justified hyperbole.

Team Clinton has succeeded in perpetuating one of the greatest evils I have seen in my lifetime. Her side has branded Trump supporters (40%+ of voters) as Nazis, sexists, homophobes, racists, and a few other fighting words. Their argument is built on confirmation bias and persuasion....
One way to bully is to call the other person the bully. Chelsea could be said to be part of that activity.

And as far as that "almost daily diet of hate speech" Chelsea spoke of — where does it come from? Does it come from Trump or does it come from Trump's opponents who are paraphrasing him? I think most of the noise comes from the paraphrasers, and the question is whether they are: 1. Interpreting Trump accurately and getting us to see dog-whistling for what it really is, or 2. Distorting what Trump says into something it's not that they want you to think it is.

Whatever the paraphrasers are doing, they are relying on 2 important beliefs: 1. Listeners hate the idea that the paraphrasers are making so clear, and 2. The hard-core daily beating rained down on Trump will never turn him into a sympathetic character.

That first belief might not be true or not true enough. At some point, on some level, listeners might feel, instead of aversion to Trump, fears and needs that send them into Trump's arms. And that second belief is dangerous: These ham-handed attacks are so crude and exaggerated that they exceed the crudeness usually attributed to Trump. We're told to hate crude brutality by people who look increasingly crude and brutal.

UPDATE: Just this morning a man with a pickax and a sledgehammer, wrecked the Donald Trump star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"I don’t battle M.S. I relent to its humiliations."

"I’ve already fallen. This is the voice from the swamp."

Said Lucia Perillo, quoted in her obituary. The poet was 58.

"Bob Hoover, a pilot who escaped Nazi captivity in a stolen plane, tested supersonic jets with his friend Chuck Yeager, barnstormed the world...."

"... as a breathtaking stunt performer and became, by wide consensus, an American aviation legend, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 94.... Even General Yeager, perhaps the most famous test pilot of his generation, was humbled by Mr. Hoover, describing him... as 'the greatest pilot I ever saw.' The World War II hero Jimmy Doolittle, an aviation pioneer of an earlier generation, called Mr. Hoover 'the greatest stick-and-rudder man that ever lived.'... Mr. Hoover’s trademark maneuver on the show circuit was a death-defying plunge with both engines cut off; he would use the hurtling momentum to pull the plane up into a loop at the last possible moment."

Full NYT obituary here.

The absence of narcissism in Bob Dylan.

"What really set me apart in these days was my repertoire. It was more formidable than the rest of the coffeehouse players, my template being hard-core folk songs backed by incessantly loud strumming. I’d either drive people away or they’d come in closer to see what it was all about. There was no in-between. There were a lot of better singers and better musicians around these places but there wasn’t anybody close in nature to what I was doing. Folk songs were the way I explored the universe, they were pictures and the pictures were worth more than anything I could say. I knew the inner substance of the thing. I could easily connect the pieces. It meant nothing for me to rattle off things like 'Columbus Stockade,' 'Pastures of Plenty,' 'Brother in Korea' and 'If I Lose, Let Me Lose' all back-to-back just like it was one long song. Most of the other performers tried to put themselves across, rather than the song, but I didn’t care about doing that. With me, it was about putting the song across."

Bob Dylan,  "Chronicles: Volume One" (pp. 17-18).

IN THE COMMENTS: traditionalguy said: "Bob was one hell of a communicator in the 1960s. Even today his silence speaks louder than most." Made me think of this:

"Well, my concern is that they are so ham-handed about it — they're so obvious about it — that it won't work."

Said Bob Wright, early last month, worrying that the media bias against Trump:

(I've blogged this clip before — here and here.)

"There are many decent, ethical highly professional people who work in journalism. I am happy to say that I work with a number of them at the Daily Inter Lake."

"But sadly, the standards that we try to hold ourselves to here in Kalispell, Montana, seem to be foreign to many reporters and editors on TV and at other newspapers around the country. Because of that, I could probably write a column taking my fellow journalists to task every week and never run out of material, but honestly I didn’t expect to return to the theme quite this quickly...."

ADDED: This is an excellent column, which I noticed because it's featured at Real Clear Politics, but I've had a place in my heart for The Daily Inter Lake, ever since I stayed in Kalispell a few years ago. I used to make the "Law Roundup" page a regular stop and blogged it often. I need to get back to that. It's written in a delightful style that makes petty crime seem almost comforting. From today's report:
Someone complained that a “little car” with a loud muffler kept going back and forth on Seventh Street West. An officer was unable to locate the pesky car....

Someone from a bar called to report a man had threatened to come back and shoot the place up.

A man entered a business on West Idaho Street and reportedly threatened to kill two workers before knocking over some beers and leaving. Workers wanted officers to tell the man he was not welcome.

"This race may come down to the independent vote. Right now, they tilt for Trump. By a narrow margin, they opted for Obama over Romney in 2012."

Said the pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the new Bloomberg Politics poll, which has Trump edging out Clinton by 2 points in Florida and by 2 points nationally in 4-person race (and 1 point in head-to-head race). [ADDED: I think I'm misreading the linked report at Politico and that there is no new Bloomberg national poll, only sentences that seem general but are really only about Florida.]

How is it possible? Last night, I was wondering why Clinton isn't ahead by 50 points, considering the way the press has been reporting lately. But the press is skewed, trying to shape what we do, and we're only entering the last phase when reputations are on the line and media risk looking like fools if something happens that seems to blindside them.

A mere 7 days ago, Bloomberg Politics had Clinton with a 9 point lead. And pollster J. Ann Selzer was saying: "This poll shows movement toward Clinton with all the right groups it takes to win—including men and those without a college degree. Their alignment with Clinton is a formidable change in the algebra."

Is Bloomberg Politics a screwy polling operation? I found an article by Nate Silver from last August, "Election Update: When One Poll Makes A Big Difference" — the one poll that made a big difference was Bloomberg Politics and it made a big difference because Silver's model weights the different polls based on their quality, and Bloomberg Politics is one of his high-quality polls:
By “high quality,” I mostly mean a poll with a high pollster rating — which are based on a pollster’s past accuracy and methodology — since the trend line adjustment puts more weight on better-rated polls. Selzer & Company (which also conducts the prestigious Des Moines Register Poll) more than qualifies: It’s one of just six polling firms with an A-plus rating from FiveThirtyEight.
Silver added:
There’s another, more subtle dimension to this also, which is that Selzer hasn’t polled the general election very often this year. (Just the three national polls so far.) The trend-line adjustment is therefore designed to give a lot of weight to a Selzer poll whenever it weighs in. By contrast, it gives less weight to any given poll from a pollster that surveys the race frequently, such as by conducting a national tracking poll.
Well, Selzer weighed in today, and the trend line is wild — an 11-point change in one week. [ADDED: Again, as noted above, I think I misread the text at Politico.]

"For almost a quarter of a century... the Nobel committee acted as if American literature did not exist — and now an American is acting as if the Nobel committee doesn’t exist."

"Giving the award to Mr. Dylan was an insult to all the great American novelists and poets who are frequently proposed as candidates for the prize. The all-but-explicit message was that American literature, as traditionally defined, was simply not good enough. This is an absurd notion, but one that the Swedes have embraced: In 2008, the Academy’s permanent secretary, Horace Engdahl, declared that American writers 'don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature' and are limited by that 'ignorance.'"

Writes the poet/critic Adam Kirsch (in the NYT). (Here's Kirsch enthusing over Philip Roth, who is, I suspect, in Adam Kirsch's basket of insulteds.)

Kirsch doesn't read Dylan's silence as a response to what Kirsch reads as an insult to to all the great American novelists and poets.
No one knows what he intends — Mr. Dylan has always been hard to interpret, both as a person and as a lyricist...
Don't criticize what you can’t understand...

So Kirsch goes back to Jean-Paul Sartre who refused the Nobel Prize for Literature and, unlike Bob, explained himself (at length, here). And beyond that, Kirsch finds explanation in Sartre's "Being and Nothingness," which talks about "bad faith... the opposite of authenticity":
Bad faith [is] possible because a human being cannot simply be what he or she is... [B]ecause we are free, we must “make ourselves what we are.” In a famous passage, Sartre uses as an example a cafe waiter who performs every part of his job a little too correctly, eagerly, unctuously. He is a waiter playing the role of waiter. But this “being what one is not” is an abdication of freedom; it involves turning oneself into an object, a role, meant for other people. To remain free, to act in good faith, is to remain the undefined, free, protean creatures we actually are, even if this is an anxious way to live.
And I answer them most mysteriously/“Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”

ADDED: From Bob Dylan's great book "Chronicles: Volume One," here's something that cuts the other way from Kirsch's idea that Bob is about keeping himself for himself and not wanting to be the thing that is meant for other people. Page 16:
I could never sit in a room and just play all by myself. I needed to play for people and all the time. You can say I practiced in public and my whole life was becoming what I practiced.

October 25, 2016

"Paul Beatty’s novel 'The Sellout,' a blistering satire about race in America, won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday..."

"... marking the first time an American writer has won the award. The five Booker judges, who were unanimous in their decision, cited the novel’s inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice... In a review in The New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote that the novel’s first 100 pages read like 'the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility.'... The novel’s narrator is an African-American urban farmer and pot smoker who lives in a small town on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Brought up by a single father, a sociologist, the narrator grew up taking part in psychological studies about race. After his father is killed by the police during a traffic stop, the protagonist embarks on a controversial social experiment of his own, and ends up before the Supreme Court...."

The NYT reports. And I'll just say:

1. I don't trust the Brits to decide what's best about America, but thanks for the prompt to notice this book. My reading is not usually fiction, but I make some exceptions and I'll make an exception here.

2. Beatty? That's my name too, brother. I'm not a black person, but Beatty is my mother's maiden name, and I revel at the chance to embrace a Beatty.

3. I'm happy with the subject matter — even with the threat of law stuff ("ends up before the Supreme Court"), which I never expect to enjoy. And apologies to everyone who's sent me a law-based novel and waited, unrequited, for me to mention it on this blog.

4. Here's the link to buy "The Sellout" on Amazon. I'm buying the audio version.

At the Late Rose Café....


... you can talk about whatever you like. Feel free to drop links that you wish I'd make into separate posts. Or just amuse yourself. Or talk about the big baseball game.

And if you've got some shopping to do, please consider doing it through the Althouse Amazon Portal. You might say, but what can I buy? Or how can I buy what Althouse bought recently? I can tell you that I bought this turtleneck. And these flexible silicone soap dishes. And this pillow speaker to fend off all remnants of insomnia with my audiobooks. And this excellent camera... which wasn't the camera I had with me when I encountered that rose. That was an old Nikon Coolpix, which I guess these days would correspond to something about like this.

"A whopping 91 percent of news coverage about Donald Trump on the three broadcast nightly newscasts over the past 12 weeks has been 'hostile'..."

... according to a study by the conservative Media Research Center, reports Politico.
For the study, MRC analyzed all 588 evening news stories that either discussed or mentioned the presidential campaign on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from July 29 through October 20 (including weekends). Of the total newscasts, the networks devoted 29 percent of their time to the campaign. The study did not include comments from the campaigns or candidates themselves, instead focusing on what the correspondents, anchors, expert commentators, and voters on the street said in order to try and hone in on any sort of slant from the networks....

"Even when they were critical of Hillary Clinton — for concealing her pneumonia, for example, or mischaracterizing the FBI investigation of her e-mail server — network reporters always maintained a respectful tone in their coverage," the study found. "This was not the case with Trump, who was slammed as embodying “the politics of fear,” or a “dangerous” and “vulgar” “misogynistic bully” who had insulted vast swaths of the American electorate."
Personally, I haven't watch the nightly broadcast network news since the 1980s, but this is important.

"I’d always thought of him as a brother. Every time I’d see his name somewhere, it was like he was in the room." Wrote Bob Dylan about Bobby Vee.

Bobby Vee died yesterday, from Alzheimer's disease, at the age of 73. Here's the NYT obituary, which I first saw linked at my son John's Facebook page. John wrote:
I post a lot of obituaries, but this was the rare one where seeing it made me instinctively exclaim out loud: "Oh no!" I've loved his most famous song, "Take Good Care of My Baby," since I was a young child. It's quintessential early '60s, pre-Beatles pop. Bob Dylan fans in particular should read this to the end...
There's a good chance that I was the one the played him "Take Good Care of My Baby," when John was not much more than a baby. I got the idea early on that rock 'n' roll oldies were sort of children's songs. (I know the exact song that caused this idea: "Ya Ya" by Lee Dorsey.) I bought many rock 'n' roll oldies cassettes and we played them in the car all the time, and I guess "Take Good Care of My Baby" was in there somewhere. I wonder if we talked about the lyrics (which were written by Carole King).
Take good care of my baby
Be just as kind as you can be
And if you should discover
That you don't really love her
Just send my baby back home to me
I can imagine myself saying something like Why does Bobby Vee think that the other man has the power to send the woman where he chooses to send her? Wouldn't the woman just go where she wants to go? And why would she want to go back to Bobby Vee when he admits he cheated on her?

As for the Bob Dylan connection, for us big Bob Dylan fans, the first thing we think of when we hear "Bobby Vee" is "Bob Dylan." Here's what Bob Dylan wrote about Bobby Vee in his great book "Chronicles: Volume One":

A New Yorker headline denies the humanity of Clarence Thomas.

"Clarence Thomas's Twenty-Five Years Without Footprints." I would have avoided that metaphor, which denies the black man's bodily existence.

The word "footprints" does not exist in the text of the short column by Jeffrey Toobin, whose point is only that Justice Thomas hasn't written the majority opinion in significant cases. That doesn't say much of anything about the heft of Justice Thomas's presence. The Chief Justice — or, if the Chief Justice is not in the majority, the senior Justice in the majority — decides who will write the opinion, and the person who assigns the opinion tends to take the most important cases for himself.

Toobin writes:
Neither Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who presided over Thomas’s first fourteen years on the Court, nor Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who has run the court for the past eleven, ever assigned Thomas a landmark opinion for the Court... The truth is that Rehnquist and Roberts never trusted Thomas to write an opinion in a big case that could command a majority of even his conservative colleagues.
How does Toobin know enough to speak about "trust"? Perhaps he's merely relying on Thomas's predilection for strong originalist principle:
Why was this? It is because Thomas is not a conservative but, rather, a radical... an extreme originalist... guided exclusively by his own understanding of what the words of the Constitution mean... His vision is more reactionary than that of any Justice who has served on the Court since the nineteen-thirties...
Originalism and adherence to text is a bad thing in Toobin's view, but to describe it is to destroy the assertion in the headline. These are very distinct footprints.
Thomas was a young man of forty-three when he joined the Court, and he is now sixty-eight. His views, which never really found favor even in the years of conservative ascendancy, appear headed even further from the mainstream....
If the marks he's left appear headed somewhere, then metaphorically, they are footprints.

"Can you believe someone would put that many Trump signs so close together on our roads? It’s so rude. Who is this jerk?"

That's Betta Stothart — a writer and publicist living in Falmouth, Maine — describing — in The Washington Post — what she and "a bunch of moms" were thinking as they were "grousing about" the proliferation of "Donald Trump signs along our version of Main Street." She says:
We felt assaulted by the number of signs. The idea of "cleansing" our streets seemed like the fastest way to restore balance and alleviate our election stress — at least, that night it did.

The escapade was not premeditated: We simply jumped into my Jetta wagon, drove down to the strip and got to work. In all, it took less than 20 minutes. 
That is premeditated, lady. You discussed it in a group, and you had to get in the car — I call bullshit on "jumped" — and drive to another location, and you engaged in an activity that took 20 minutes.
We grabbed about 40 signs and threw them in the hatchback. I hadn’t really thought about what I would do with the signs; I just wanted them gone. At the time, we believed we were doing the right thing. There were so many Trump signs up and down our main drag — it was destroying all sense of equilibrium in our community.

Anyway, they got caught by the police. Is that any surprise? They were doing something that took 20 minutes! 
The officer was kind, informing us that we had stolen someone else’s personal property, which had not really entered into my mind while I was doing it.
How could it not enter your mind that the signs belonged to someone else? She describes her mind as the mind of an insane person: Someone else's speech was assaulting her mind and destroying all sense of equilibrium, as if she had to protect the inside of her own head where she never dreamed anyone else could own property. But it wasn't really only in her own head, as the policeman kindly informed her.
Reflecting back, I realize that I momentarily snapped. 
Temporary insanity. For 20+ minutes.
But there was a deeper reason for my anger than just the signs. 
Yes, your anger is deep... in a way that makes it moral, flips it into the good:
Over the past several weeks, grasping the depth of Trump’s predatory behavior toward women throughout his adult life (and even worse, his denial of it) has simply become unbearable. I became unhinged.
She's running with this I-was-literally-crazy argument. But Trump is worse, because he assaulted women. As if she were protecting women by stealing signs. Stothart proceeds to tell her personal story of "a powerful man using his position of wealth and influence to demean my integrity and put my job at risk."
[O]ne day, he called to proposition me to enter an illicit “relationship” with him where he would fly me around the world to exclusive resorts. For sex.

“You’re not the marrying type of woman,” he told me. “I never see you having a family of your own, so I have an offer for you.” He described how good he was in bed. I wouldn’t regret it, he said. It would be “our little secret” and “worth my while.”
So a man at work asked you out? How is that like the stories of Trump and sexual assault? He didn't impose himself any more than asking her out — on a huge date, to be sure (who gets asked on dates of that magnitude?) — he took her statement that she "needed 'to think about it'" as a basis to withdraw the offer.
I should have told him to go to hell. Instead, I told my boyfriend (now husband) about it and buried the secret. I was silenced, until now.
Why would someone who refused a sexual invitation feel she had a "secret" that needed to be told? If she really believed this rich and powerful person has a modus operandi that unfairly burdens women in the workplace, she should have spoken up for the sake of the other women. How was she "silenced"? She's raising this story now to bolster her claim of some sort of a temporary insanity defense to a crime that she plainly admits she committed — a crime not only against property but against another citizen's freedom of speech. She's trying to flip herself up onto the moral high ground.

She has a "source of my rage" she says, and: "It’s why I committed a crime. Yes, I was acting out... But at the time, my act felt strangely liberating..." It's like the generic formula for a fictional criminal character. Something long ago made him very angry, and when he finally burst free into outright transgression, he felt, at long last, liberated. That works in murder stories. That would work for terrorists. In fiction.

Stothart also takes refuge in the time-honored I'm-not-the-only-one defense, discovered by every child that ever got caught red-handed:
As I prepare for a mid-December appearance before a judge in the Cumberland County Courthouse, I am realizing that I’m not the only one going to extremes this fall. There have been Trump sign thefts in Maine and Massachusetts. Trump supporters’ cars were actually vandalized recently in Bangor. Violence at campaign events is now commonplace, and worse, a bomb went off in a North Carolina Republican Party office. The level of agitation — and fear — is rising daily, on both sides.
But, like a good, old-fashioned, square Hollywood movie, this story ends with a crime-does-not-pay message: "It’s not worth it."

But would it have been worth it if she hadn't been caught? And will it become worth it if the Cumberland County judge looks at this nice lady — who had a bad day and expressed herself so feelingly in a high-tone newspaper — and that judge says: Good thing you learned what you did was wrong, and now, don't do that again?

I'm getting ready to hate the new President, and it's a good thing too.

What a golden age we live in. Maybe it doesn't look that way to you now, but looking back, you will see it. We love Obama, the person. Oh, maybe some of you only like him, but you've got to at least like him, the most likeable person who ever ambled onto the American political scene.

I mean, I know some of you hate him, personally, but you are a tiny group. Those who don't like Obama's policies and his methods still overwhelmingly like or love Obama the man.

You might not notice this pleasant feeling, but you will. Just as you don't notice physical comfort and mental peace, you will notice when it's gone. And the feeling of loving the President is about to become very obvious, because we are not going to love the new President.

But that's a good thing. We need our distance, so we can look critically at what is being done to us and to the world. We're going to feel bad — even those of us who vote for the winner — and we should. It will keep us alert.

I haven't had the feeling of hating the President since early 2001, when George W. Bush first took over. Unfortunately, I lost that hating feeling later that year. I'm getting ready to hate the new President, and I don't want a repeat of 2001. I don't want to have to lose that feeling of critical distance from the President of the United States, and I know exactly the kind of thing that could wreck it for me again.

Here's the post where I reject the term "false equivalence."

First, is it "equivalence" or "equivalency"? The Ngram says "equivalence":

The 2 words are equivalent, and neither is wrong. I'm just noticing that there are 2 words and interested in picking one and being consistent. It's not a word I've used much in the 12-year history of this blog. It appears almost only in quotes and almost always when someone is saying "false equivalenc[e/y]" (or "moral equivalenc[e/y]").

It occurs to me that "false equivalence" is a bad expression. What's "false" about thinking 2 things are alike? You might falsely claim that 2 things are identical, but if you are just putting 2 things side by side and saying they are similar when there are also differences, you don't deserve to be accused of falsehood. Maybe "equivalence" is the wrong word. If you haven't said the 2 things are exactly equal, you don't deserve to be said to have asserted that there is "equivalence." To concentrate on the word "false" in the phrase "false equivalence" is to get distracted, perhaps by taking offense at the pejorative.

I'm drawn into this language issue by an off-line discussion of the alleged sexual misdeeds of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. In case you are wondering.

Anyway, looking at my own archive, I don't think I've ever accused anyone of relying on "false equivalence," but I have discussed the usage. For example, in June 2014, David Brock was trying to convince rich liberals to spend big money on politics even as he was lambasting the Koch Brothers (nonliberals) for spending big money on politics:
“You’re not in this room today trying to figure out how to rig the game so you can be free to make money poisoning little kids, and neither am I... Subscribing to a false moral equivalence is giving the Kochs exactly what they want: keeping us quiet about what they’re doing to destroy the very fabric of our nation."
And I said: 
His idea is: Since the Democrats are in politics to do what is good and the Kochs want what is bad, there's a "false equivalence." Seeing the false equivalence — I observe — requires that you look at the end and not the means.
The phrase "false equivalence" is very common rhetoric these days. Watch out for it. I think it's being used to inhibit comparisons. But there is nothing wrong — nothing false — about comparisons. You just need to be perceptive and honest about how much alike things are. Those who say "false equivalence" are really saying they'd prefer to call attention to the differences or for you to just not bother them with a comparison that makes them uncomfortable.

One last thing. There are different reasons to resist someone's saying 2 things are alike. There's the familiar political argument. X criticizes Y's candidate, Y says X's candidate did the same kind of thing, X wants to get back to the problem with Y's candidate, and the phrase "false equivalence" seems like the tool for the job.

But quite apart from politics, there are different psychological orientations. I'm thinking of lumpers and splitters:
A "lumper" is an individual who takes a gestalt view of a definition, and assigns examples broadly, assuming that differences are not as important as signature similarities. A "splitter" is an individual who takes precise definitions, and creates new categories to classify samples that differ in key ways.
Some people see similarities much more than differences, and for other people differences predominate. I tend to see the ways we're all alike, but there are other people who look for ways to segment us off into little groups. I think I'm more of a lumper but to say that is to be something of a splitter, no? Those other people are splitters. It makes no sense. Or, yes, I see how it does, I need to see how it does. I don't think there are lumpers and splitters. That's too splitter-y for me. I think we're much more alike than different, but if you think we are more different, that's okay too, as long as you don't accuse me of falsehood for saying that we are more alike.

October 24, 2016

The Presidential Poetry Slam.

(If you don't have a lot of patience for this kind of humor, at least scroll forward to 3:45 and watch from there. I'll just say this post gets the insect politics tag.)

I'm getting a kick out of "The 281 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter." I don't know why.

It's just so absurd — 281 people, places, and things — all with at least one insult, some with it looks like 100 insults, and a hot link for each insult, sometimes the same insult over and over, like every time he called Hillary "crooked" and the 3 times he called Karl Rove a "clown." Some targets have only one insult, like Neil Young, who's a "total hypocrite" — hot-linked to a tweet with a photograph...

How much does a handshake mean? That you are friends? I guess Neil told him not to play his song,"Rockin' in the Free World," which Trump didn't even love anyway.