February 18, 2017

At the Ice Walk Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

It was in the 60s here in Madison today. Great fun in mid-February.

Hope all is well with you. (And remember my Amazon portal!)

Trump's Florida rally...

1. ... begins with the First Lady leading the group in The Lord's Prayer. I can't think of the last time I've heard The Lord's Prayer at a rally.

2. "I didn't know that Melania was going to be saying The Lord's Prayer, but I thought that was very beautiful," Trump begins.

3. "I want to speak with you without the filter of the fake news."

4. "Nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle." Trump quotes Thomas Jefferson. Is that a real Jefferson quote? Yes! Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 14 June 1807:
To your request of my opinion of the manner in which a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, I should answer, "by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only." Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could not more compleatly deprive the nation of it's benefits, than is done by it's abandoned prostitution to falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knolege with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live & die in the belief, that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time; whereas the accounts they have read in newspapers are just as true a history of any other period of the world as of the present, except that the real names of the day are affixed to their fables. General facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte has been a successful warrior, that he has subjected a great portion of Europe to his will, &c., &c.; but no details can be relied on. I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.
5. "Not one media network will show the crowd," Trump taunts, which gets at least Fox News to pan around the crowd. Trump's wrong again!

6. The EPA, under Obama, was "clogging up the veins of our country."

7. "Bring this guy up here. Come on! Hop over the fence!" An awestruck guy in a Donald Trump shirt (and shorts) comes up on the stage. He hugs Trump (even though Trump just said he was afraid the guy was going to kiss him), and Trump gives him the microphone and he speaks for a moment. He says he knew Trump was going to keep his promises. Trump shakes his hand, points at him, and says: "A star is born!"

8. Trump lets the people know that he was watching them on TV as they were waiting on line. He heard the interviews with particular individuals, he says, and he recognizes them in the audience. Trump, the TV personality, knows them from TV.

9. He's reading the statute that he relied on for his immigration order, the statute that the 9th Circuit didn't even cite — as he points out — and he pauses in the middle to critique the statute for saying only "he" (referring to the President) instead of "he or she." He calls the statute "not politically correct," then digresses from the digression to announce (once again) that in the election he did very well with women.

10. Excellent political theater. That's it for now from me.

At the Rat Café....

rat 1

... watch out for the broom from nowhere.

"Ivanka Trump brand tops Amazon Best Sellers list."

Well, of course.

Here, if you want to get in on the trend, buy some through the Althouse Amazon Portal.

Here's Bill Maher interviewing Milo Yiannopoulos last night.

I thought that went very well for both men, and it was surprising and nice how much they agreed, notably about the power of comedy to transcend political lines and recombine people in new ways. These 2 made a great team, and I think Maher saw a lot of himself in Milo.

ADDED: Yesterday on this blog, we were talking about a Reason.com piece by Robby Soave. Soave disrespected the comic version of political speech:
Too many right-leaning student groups have lost interest in inviting speakers who are knowledgeable about philosophy and policy: they would rather score easy outrage points with provocateurs.
He's talking about Milo (as the link makes clear).

What I said yesterday was: "I don't agree with Soave's disapproval. I think you can have philosophers and policy wonks and also lively provocateurs...."

Seeing Milo and Maher working together in that clip — and going meta about how political comedy works — reinforces my strong belief in the value of comic speech.

"Scientist leading ‘de-extinction’ effort says Harvard team could create hybrid mammoth-elephant embryo in two years."

It won't actually be a mammoth...
“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” said Prof George Church. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.”

The creature, sometimes referred to as a “mammophant”, would be partly elephant, but with features such as small ears, subcutaneous fat, long shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood. The mammoth genes for these traits are spliced into the elephant DNA using the powerful gene-editing tool, Crispr.
And it's okay to do this... just for fun?
Church... said the mammoth project had two goals: securing an alternative future for the endangered Asian elephant and helping to combat global warming. Woolly mammoths could help prevent tundra permafrost from melting and releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

“They keep the tundra from thawing by punching through snow and allowing cold air to come in,” said Church. “In the summer they knock down trees and help the grass grow.”
Oh, come on! I can't believe we're even being invited to consider believing that the point of this project is to combat global warming (and by knocking down trees!).

ADDED: I'm wondering what America would be like today if we had been sharing the territory with mammoths all this time, especially if we were also modifying our behavior to be careful to preserve them from extinction. I wouldn't want them rampaging around my neighborhood knocking down trees. And we can punch our own snow.

"We came up with this ridiculous plan to get this rat out of our house and IT ACTUALLY WORKED!!!!"

Obama's photographer was "trying to make a point."

From a New York Magazine piece titled "Former Obama White House Photographer’s Instagram Is a Master Class in Shade" by Madison Malone Kircher, who obviously thinks Pete Souza is featuring these photographs now to put Trump in a negative light. But is it that easy? For example, in that photograph with the women, Kircher thinks it's a great comment on the lack of women in the Trump administration, but it had me thinking about the criticism Trump received over the message that women should "dress like women." The 3 women in that photo with Obama look like they got a memo requiring long skirts, no visible leg skin, and black high-heeled boots. It looks cool in the photograph, but not because it's a clear message that Obama is easy-going and egalitarian. It's ambiguous! (Which makes it better art.)

Then look at this photograph showing with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, who also visited Trump last week. The caption is "Allies":

A post shared by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on

Does that photograph clearly show the 2 men as equals? I see Trudeau dominating... maybe. It's ambiguous anyway. And congratulations to Souza for reusing his photographs with some style and subtlety.

IN THE COMMENTS: David said:
The two photos Souza put up were posed. So in that sense he is correct that they are accurate manifestations of the Obama White House.

It's quite arrogant of a man who was given a career making eight years of access to the office of the President and his private home to use those photos to disparage the next president. Souza was paid by the people of the United States while he had this matchless opportunity. He was part of the White House staff, who have a deservedly sterling reputation for serving every President with discretion and loyalty. Except Souza.
Another way to look at it is that Souza is acknowledging that his role was propagandist.

"There’s the menu. You guys order whatever you want. Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf... I’m telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous."

Said Donald Trump, acting out some crazy food theater with his old friend Chris Christie.

Christie chose to tell this story. He was on the  "Boomer and Carton" sports radio show. The co-host Craig Carton reacted: "It's emasculating. Another man tells you what you’re eating and you eat it? Not acceptable. I don't care who he is."*

Christie defended his deference to Trump's ordering his food for him: "The guy eats there all the time, and the meatloaf was good."

But did Trump order meatloaf for Christie's wife. No: "He didn’t suggest the meatloaf to my wife... He could have told her if he wanted to, but he didn’t."

Of course, Trump didn't order for Christie's wife? The tradition is, a man orders for his wife. That's why Trump ordered for Christie and why it's emasculating.

But the meatloaf was good. It is good being Trump's wife. If that's what you want. That may be what you want, Governor Christie, but how has that worked out for you? He's never going to marry you. You need to get over your wishing and get on with your life. Think about yourself. What do you really want?


* Transcription by me, from audio at the link.

It depends on what the meaning of "the very same thing" is.

"If Hillary Clinton were in the White House, we would be doing the very same thing," said Marty Baron, the editor of the Washington Post.

IN THE COMMENTS: Diogenes of Sinope asks:
Do fish know they're wet? Do the media know their biases?
I think they know and simultaneously do not know. If they stepped outside of the ongoing process of running their business, pursuing their careers, and they had something to gain by utter truthtelling, they would admit that they have a liberal bias. But that's not where they are, and they must keep going. I don't know these people, but I would guess that their day-to-day level of self-awareness — their working mindset — really is that they are doing the very same thing, applying a methodology to whatever raw material comes their way. If the end result looks different, it is only because the raw material was different.

Another way to put that is the familiar quip: Reality has a liberal bias.

What's due process for a DACA "dreamer" who has no criminal convictions whom the government believes is a member of a violent street gang?

That's my question as I read about the arrest a 23-year-old man named Daniel Ramirez Medina. Medina, who was 7 when he arrived in the U.S.,  has participated in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
While some have suggested that Ramirez’s detention could be a fluke or the action of a rogue agent, David Leopold, a leading immigration lawyer, said the fact that he had been detained for several days already suggested that it was not an error, but part of a broader policy....

Ice spokeswoman Rose Richeson claimed in an email that he was a “self-admitted gang member” who was arrested “based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety”.

Mark Rosenbaum, one of Ramirez’s attorneys, strongly refuted the allegation, saying in a statement: “Mr Ramirez unequivocally denies being in a gang. While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by [Ice] agents to falsely admit affiliation.”

Leopold noted that Ramirez has twice passed extensive background checks when he was approved from Daca and had his status renewed. “With the vetting for Daca, the bar is really high.”
UPDATE: Judge won't free Ramirez. And this is a Seattle judge.

February 17, 2017

At the Big Thaw Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

(And please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

So this is happening at the NYT....

Seen just now, at Memeorandum:

Well, he talked about you, so you talk about him. What he said, at his press conference yesterday, was:
The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was — it’s a joke....
And here's Michael Goodwin at The New York Post: "Sorry, media — this press conference played very differently with Trump’s supporters."
Amid feverish reports of chaos on his team and with Democrats fantasizing that Russia-gate is another Watergate, Trump took center stage to declare that reports of his demise are just more fake news. Far from dead, he was positively exuberant. His performance at a marathon press conference Thursday was a must-see-TV spectacle as he mixed serious policy talk with standup comedy and took repeated pleasure in whacking his favorite piñata, the “dishonest media.”...

Trump’s detractors immediately panned the show as madness, but they missed the method behind it and proved they still don’t understand his appeal. Facing his first crisis in the Oval Office, he was unbowed in demonstrating his bare-knuckle intention to fight back. He did it his way. Certainly no other president, and few politicians at any level in any time, would dare put on a show like that.

In front of cameras, and using the assembled press corps as props, he conducted a televised revival meeting to remind his supporters that he is still the man they elected...
And they know that however many times he does it, they will need to sit there and take it, allow themselves to be used. Can they boycott the press conference? Can they become disruptive in the room? Can they phrase their questions with ever heightening belligerence and hatred? I think they know they can't.
Trump, first, last and always, matches the mood of the discontented. Like them, he is a bull looking for a china shop.* That’s his ace in the hole and he played it almost to perfection....

Just three weeks into his term, Democrats, in and out of the media, smelled blood. Many already were going for the kill. They won’t get it, at least now. Trump bought himself time yesterday....
He didn't just buy some time. He showed how he can take them all on. They can keep fighting him, and I understand they want to. But visualize where this will go and who will win. I think the people at the NYT really believe they can bring Trump down. But can they? I think Trump has a big advantage in this fight. And yet, what is the fight and what constitutes winning? Trump kept saying "the failing New York Times." For the NYT, winning may simply be getting and maintaining a monetizable readership. Trump doesn't have to fall. All can win. Perhaps that is Trump's art-of-the-deal game: We can all win. He said it at the press conference: "I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now."

Perhaps it's pro-wrestling — a theatrical, hard-fought fake fight. I'm only a member of the audience, like you. I want to know what I am looking at. And we also do need a President. The show cannot supplant government. It can't just be a show. And I must say, I'm either nervous or disbelieving when I hear Trump talk about how much he watches the TV news shows. He does things, then watches on TV to see how they look. After doing the press conference, he must have settled down in front of a television to watch himself on TV. I'm picturing him enjoying that show immensely — laughing, commenting, bragging. Imagine watching him watching himself. What would that be like? Freaky? Great fun? A horror show?


* Long ago, George Orwell wrote:
A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically ‘dead’ (e. g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.
If you would just follow that advice, you won't find yourself saying something as silly as "a bull looking for a china shop." Bulls aren't hot to relocate to china shops! They're not on a mission to break china. They just would break a lot of china if they ever were in a china shop, which never happens.

"Cornell University Students Vote Against Intellectual Diversity, on Grounds It Would Harm Diversity."

A funny headline on a piece over at Reason.com by Robby Soave. At Cornell, the Student Assembly voted down a resolution that called for a committee to look into the lack of political diversity in the Cornell faculty. The arguments against the resolution were summarized as:
(1) conservatives have not been historically oppressed as have other groups; (2) spending resources on intellectual diversity diverts resources from promoting other forms of diversity; and (3) conservative students are free to speak out in class if they find something disagreeable or wish to argue their own point of view....
The headline isn't very fair to that 3-point objection to having this committee. It focuses on #2 and distorts even that. I rather doubt that the cute, clickable headline was written by Soave, because he disapproves of campus conservatives acting like leftist students by "playing the victim" and inviting speakers who are "provocateurs" and not serious experts in "philosophy and policy."

I don't agree with Soave's disapproval. I think you can have philosophers and policy wonks and also lively provocateurs, and I think it's worth exploring victimology — who's really the victim? I've spent enough time around conservatives and libertarians to know that their pretensions about neutral, egg-headed reason feel hollow and deceptive much of the time to those of us who aren't already on their side. I believe it's unreasonable to deny that emotion is part of human reason, and I have seen Reason magazine philosophy/policy types boil over with anger at the expression of that belief.

But I want to get back to that headline, inapt as it is for Soave's brief essay on the Cornell committee that was not to be. It seems like an argument through stating a paradox: They voted against diversity on the ground that it would hurt diversity. (It's reminiscent of that old Vietnam War line: "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.")

But it occurs to me that there are some ideas that are destructive of intellectual diversity. I don't mean ideas put into practice, such as censorship or discrimination based on viewpoint. I mean the ideas themselves. Within a free-speech approach, you can argue that censorship or viewpoint discrimination is a good idea. It would be censorship or viewpoint discrimination to exclude those ideas. People can see those arguments in the marketplace of ideas and decide for themselves if they want to buy them. You might say, but if people do accept those ideas, they might put them into practice, but if you believe in the overarching idea of free speech, you are trusting people to consider and reject the bad ideas, and you think the idea of free speech will win in the marketplace.

But there is one type of idea that just as an idea is destructive of the diversity in the marketplace of ideas. Do you see what it is? It's an idea that is so good it wrecks the market for all the competing ideas, the completely convincing idea. There are many ideas like that — problems where the solutions have been discovered. We needn't puzzle over the possible answers anymore. We know (or feel sure that we know). That's the one type of idea that you should exclude if intellectual diversity is your most sacred goal. That shows why intellectual diversity can't be your highest goal. Why would you exclude the most devastatingly obviously correct ideas?

I'll pose one answer to my question and let you decide whether you want to buy it: You'd exclude those ideas when you have other ideas you want to protect from competition. So then there's this corollary: To genuinely love intellectual diversity and to want to exclude one of the ideas is to admit that it's devastatingly better than those other ideas.

And, yes, yes, of course I know that "they" do not really love intellectual diversity. It's a hypothetical. Assume genuine love for intellectual diversity. Assume it is really and truly your highest value. If you had 10 ideas about how to solve a particular problem and a new idea came along that was so obviously true that no one would bother with the other 10 anymore, you would suppress the 11th idea, so that you could continue to benefit from the vibrancy of 10 living, breathing ideas.

If that's all too abstract, think it through in the context of a culture with 10 thriving religions and the question whether to ban the discussion of atheism.

Why do we know why Harward turned down the NSA job?

It's one thing to decide I'm not the man for this job, but if you were really the sort of person who would and should be offered this job, and if you really believed the Administration was so screwed up you couldn't tolerate working there, why would you make the regrettable situation worse by airing that opinion?

I'm genuinely puzzled!

Possible answers: 1. Harward didn't intend for this opinion to become public (but shouldn't a security expert be more rigorous about what is confidential?), 2. No harm in shitting on a shit sandwich (yes there is!), 3. Harward competently formed an opinion on how shitty the Trump administration is and properly exercised independent judgment and decided that the public interest was served by letting us know that the situation was so bad that a man like him would refuse to participate (but what kind of man believes his country is in this much trouble, will not help, and still thinks of himself as a worthy example of a person the Trump administration should have on the team?), 4. Harward is outraged at what happened to Flynn, wants to express that outrage in an especially cutting way, and also doesn't want to operate in a system where he's exposed to what is now a known risk (and this is the answer that makes the most sense to me).

ADDED: I don't know why I didn't throw in "This might be fake news," but I didn't. Many commenters are observing this lapse. I like the way Robin Eatmon put it (combining it with my points ##1 and 3):
If it's not fake news... this episode reflects poorly on Harward. Settle it with your family before the official offer and keep your mouth shut about it. In this day and age there is no one you can trust.

Well, affirmative action has been upheld by the Supreme Court, so maybe that filters down to people...

... as meaning that discrimination in favor of a historically-discriminated-against group never violates the Constitution.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison — where I used to teach at the law school — the Associated Students of Madison voted for a resolution that said the university should give free tuition and housing to all black students, according to this AP article.

I'm not seeing the text of the resolution or enough detail about the debate, so I don't know if there was any consideration of whether the proposal violated the Equal Protection Clause. Did anyone even mention it? 

"In a day and age where race is a near instant focus for media and other pundits in police incidents..."

"... the fact is that this hero happens to be a man of color who stopped another man of color from further harming or killing a white cop; thereby reminding us that black lives matter, blue lives matter, and indeed all life matters."

That was written on the Facebook page of the Lee County, Florida sheriff's department, about a man named Ashad Russell who happened to be on the scene when Edward Strother had Sheriff’s Deputy Dean Bardes pinned to the ground and was beating him in the head and trying to take his gun. Russell happened to have his own gun, walked up to the fight with his gun drawn, and Bardes begged Russell to shoot Strother. Russell did so, and Strother died.

Fortunately, for Russell — and Bardes! — Russell had a concealed-carry permit and Florida has a stand-your-ground law (under which the district attorney deemed Russell's killing of Strother justified). Under the stand-your-ground law, you're immune from prosecution if you use "defensive force" and have "a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm" (even where the harm is to another person).

So: Russell saw a fight, saw that the person losing the fight was a police officer, and responded — after telling the attacker to stop or he'd shoot — to the police officer's request.

Strother’s brother expressed outrage: “They are calling him a good Samaritan?... Was my brother armed?”

What would have happened if: 1. Russell hadn't had a gun? 2. Russell had a gun but not a concealed-carry permit? 3. Russell had a gun and a concealed-carry permit but Florida didn't have a stand-your-ground law?

Was it smart — was it right — for the Sheriff's Department to praise Russell the way it did — especially the "black lives matter, blue lives matter, and indeed all life matters"? Why draw attention to race? Why focus on Russell's race and his willingness to shoot another black man? Does this make it more likely or less likely that the next black man will help a police officer who is endangered by another black man?

"Slapping, stroking, and dancing with meat..."

Also: the style in which this man is now compelled to sprinkle salt.

February 16, 2017

I could see from the northern view through the window behind my computer monitor that the sunset must be going swimmingly.

So I scampered out front to catch the western view. Took the trouble to crouch in the middle of the street to include the reflections in the melted snow:


"I see tone. You know the word 'tone'? The tone is such hatred."

Let's read the transcript of Trump's epic press conference. This went on for over an hour, with Trump picking up energy as he went, almost as if he absorbs energy from his antagonists in the room. I'll show you a few things that jumped out at me, including the places where he expresses his delight in bouncing off whatever they dish up for him.
The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about [it], we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control....  I’m here... to take my message straight to the people...

The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was — it’s a joke.... Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New York Time’s story.... And I’ll tell you something, I’ll be honest, because I sort of enjoy this back and forth that I guess I have all my life but I’ve never seen more dishonest media than frankly, the political media....

I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true and, you know, over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m OK with that. But I’m not OK when it is fake. I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred....

"It was unhinged, it was wild," says Jake Tapper about Trump's press conference...

... after Trump, at that press conference, predicted that the press would respond with "rants and raves."

I'll say more about the press conference once a transcript is available. I thought it was indeed wild, but in a good way. I hope we get more of Trump working with the press in this mode.

ADDED: Here's the full smoking hot video:

AND: The transcript is now available. I "live-blog" my reading of the transcript in a new post.

At the Bookshelf Café...


... let's play board games!

No, you can talk about anything, but do consider using this link — the link that is always in the banner — when you shop Amazon.

"His nipples have been removed in order to allow tattoo artists to have a smoother canvas to work on."

My favorite sentence in a U.K. Independent article titled: "Body Art: UK's most tattoed man who dyed his eyes calls for equal treatment of people with modifications/'I’m evolving into who I want to be and having the ultimate freedom of expression and control over my body.'"

Is he talking about outlawing employment discrimination against people whose whole face is tattooed? Yes. I'm not there, but I do agree with him about the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which bans some extreme procedures, like dyeing eyeballs:
"Under the law of the land, I’m a consensual victim of abuse. I don't feel like a victim of abuse. Everyone I talk to in the body modification world doesn't feel like a victim of abuse. But they say we are consenting to bodily harm. It’s ridiculous and it embarrasses us. The law is wrong."
Fine, but if consent is the key, don't abuse nonconsenting businesses by requiring them to hire you. Embrace the nanny state or reject it. 

"Cale is not interested in circumventing or prettifying anguish: let it come down."

"But he doesn’t revel in suffering, either; he figures out what hurting sounds like and then articulates it...."
Cale has always thought of art as fluid rather than static—he has rarely been satisfied by recapitulations of the status quo...

Here, then, was an opportunity to reclaim and reconfigure his despair. The idea feels deeply human. Who hasn’t winced, looking back on a thing they made—or a place they lived, or a dress they wore, or a type of tea they drank—while enveloped in grief, and hoped for a way to neutralize that history without losing the thing itself?....

IN THE COMMENTS: Carter Wood points us to this amazing segment of "I've Got a Secret" from 1963:

"He was quite gutsy and pretty much blew the class away with an incredible performance."

"I remember thinking after watching him, 'I am definitely flunking this class if this is where the bar is set!'"

He was Steve Bannon, called on on the first day of class at Harvard Business School in 1983, when he looked like this:

"He was gregarious. He was preppy, often dressed in a favorite yellow sweater. As one classmate put it, 'He didn’t strike me as out of the mainstream.' Minorities in the class said he didn’t make them feel uncomfortable. A Jewish classmate said he never heard him say anything anti-Semitic."
But there are also those who say that he had a controlling side that could take over the class, that he was high-strung — and could come across as abrasive to some of the women in the class.

“There was some anger there. He was wound really tightly,” said one former classmate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I’ve lost sleep around the fact that he’s so close to the president of the United States. . . . The women in my section have as well.”
The link goes to an article from November 26th. I was just looking for a photo of the young Steve Bannon. I'm aware of his rather sloppy old-man looks and thought he might fit with the discussion in the previous post about how hippies look these days, now that we/"we" are old. But Bannon fits a different discussion: how the 80s preppies look now that they are old. I couldn't find anything general on that topic, but I did find how 80s New Wave types look now that they are old.

As you decline into decrepitude, your best choice from the style eras of the past is:
pollcode.com free polls

"Society is in a time of renewed ferment about gender. Culture wars rage..."

"... over bathrooms and even the very notion that men or women have to choose one fixed gender identity. President Donald J. Trump reportedly likes his female staff 'to dress like women'; just what this means isn’t entirely clear. The divide looms between those who welcome the new fluidity and those who yearn for clearly defined gender roles. So designers on the runway this week engaged in a continuing dialogue about how clothing defines masculinity and femininity — and how it scrambles these notions, too."

From a NYT fashion piece by Susan Chira titled "Gender Fluidity on the Runways."

And I see that the 5th photograph is a picture of a Jeremy Scott outfit that I grabbed from a Tom & Lorenzo blog post yesterday and dropped into a text to Meade as I said "This is what you should wear." That one and also this one. I will be wearing this.

IN THE COMMENTS:  Roger Sweeny said: "You will both be surpassingly ugly." Which sent me on a Google search that got me to "How to spot a 'Hippie'" at a blog called Life of an Architect:
Hippies were once a symbol – a youthful subculture that grew out of counter-cultural ideologies of the Beat Generation that embraced psychedelic rock, free love and pot. Now they mostly look like homeless people which isn’t really fair to homeless people. Now that the hippies have all grown up, all I can say is stay away from psychedelic rock, free love and pot (and maybe Whole Foods Market).
Key point: The hippies of the late 60s and early 70s are old people now. The hippie spirit knows and loves the beauty of decrepitude.

How many people eat meat only because they lack the imagination...

... to picture the face?

"This Sexist Cartoon Everyone Is Freaking Out About..."

... isn't really what it appears to be.

So... I can see how you might argue that it's not sexist because it's feminist: The woman begins as a dupe of society and, after reading about feminism, adopts a natural look. But those who are freaking out are seeing body shaming and even racism:
According to this picture, reading weakens muscle tone, and in addition to that it makes you look white and almost European and makes you cut your hair too. Just ignore that picture, one can read and remain black and dress as one wish.
But the real story behind that picture is way different from old feminism quandaries about getting dolled up:
[T]he artist behind the piece, who is known on DeviantArt as Sortimid, says the art is part of an erotic niche called “bimbo transformation.”... Sortimid says that the viral cartoon was a commissioned piece for someone who wanted to see this transformation in reverse. They did not expect the art to be seen outside of the transformation porn community.
Sortimid has apologized, adding:
“Perhaps it was naïve of me to assume it was ‘just another transformation.’ People don’t see it as ‘porn’ so they assume it must be a statement. Their criticism is valid. I apologize for advancing those stereotypes. I strive to create erotica that is both sexy and feminist. It seems, in this case, I have failed spectacularly and for that, I apologize. If there’s anything I can do to make up for it, please let me know.”
I don't want to further complicate the life of Sortimid, but I remember when porn was considered to be quite a statement, and seeing something as intended to be porn would not exclude feminist criticism. Doesn't anyone say "Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice" anymore?

IN THE COMMENTS: David says: David said:
By there way, she does not change from black to white, racially at least. She just discards her obsession with tanning.
And I said:
Why aren't fair-skinned women criticized for cultural appropriation and even blackface when they go in for tanning like that?
A quick googling found this:

"Just resisting Trump won’t do enough for Democrats."

Yes, of course, but it's great fun now, isn't it?

Here's the "most read" list alongside that opinion piece (in The Washington Post):

Remember all those years when Republicans didn't really want the majority, but enjoyed the privileges and immunities of the minority position? The subordinate role can be luxuriously rewarding. There are, quite obviously, those in the current majority who are longing for the days when they could carp about everything and take responsibility for nothing.

So what's in the opinion column at the link (which is by a Democratic Party politico named Rob Stein)? Do you care? I see so many anti-Trump headlines. I feel as though I've already seen them all. What's to read? Okay, I'll read this one (so you don't have to, not that you want to)....
Resistance is the appropriate and necessary impulse of Democrats at this strange and raucous inception of the Trump administration. 
This sounds like a teenager writing in her diary about her parents.
It is also woefully insufficient to address the monumental existential threats Democrats confront.
Too many adjectives. In 2 short sentences: appropriate, necessary, strange, raucous, insufficient, monumental, existential.
Resistance alone will not defeat the Republicans’ stranglehold....
Stein goes on to recommend effective participation in electoral politics. Develop the "machinery" at the state level.
Otherwise, our protests, however insistent and heartfelt, will be in vain.
There's no exploration of the possibility that solid electoral politics should replace the resistance. What bothers me about the resistance — what deafens me to the protest — is that I actually believe in democracy. And I see a party that won an election and is now in power attempting to govern. I'm inclined to respect that, not resist it.

The protests and resistance say: We don't believe in democracy. How can you participate effectively in democracy while continually screaming that you don't accept the results of an election?

Does anyone support Trump simply because he won the election?

NASA crowdsourced a solution to the age-old problem of pooping in space.

The winner's solution is a window into the humiliating side of being human in space:
[Col. Thatcher R.] Cardon’s two-part design hinged on a machine he called the perineal access port. This access port would cover an area of the astronaut called the perineum, the crotch zone below the tailbone and frontward, occasionally described as the “fig leaf area.” The port was two flaps and a tiny valve — essentially, a small airlock to expel waste from the suit without losing precious oxygen supply....

To get from the biological business end through the weenie airlock and into space, Cardon devised a second class of devices he called introducers. One introducer was “a device that rides in the butt-crack, for lack of a better term,” Cardon said. (Medically speaking, he added, that term for the butt groove is the “gluteal cleft.”) The “hygiene wand” was fabric bunched below the perineum that would reveal fresh layers when tugged. But introducers could take any of several forms, such as gender-specific urinary catheters to suck up urine.
I love Cardon's nose for accuracy. After he used the colloquial expression "for lack of a better term," he had to acknowledge that technically there is a better term, but it's a technical term, and he won't expect us losers to keep up with his explanation if he uses what are — to a man like him — the best words.

And I don't think the term "fig leaf area" has — or should have — much currency. I searched for it (in quotes) with Google, and I had to bypass the first 5 hits just to get to very minor writings like these 3:

And I bet that once I publish this post, I will be able to correct the previous sentence to read "I had to bypass the first 6 hits...."

AND: "the weenie airlock"???

February 15, 2017

The sunset right now.


In Madison, Wisconsin.

(You can talk about whatever you want... and remember to consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal if you're doing some shopping.)

Answers I'm sure I didn't get this wrong.

I'm taking "Vulture’s Girls Superfan Quiz."

ADDED: Here I am taking a 50-question quiz and I get this level of effrontery!

That's so unfair to Zac Posen.

"Beyoncé is very beautiful to look at and it’s more like modeling kind of music — music to model a dress — she’s not a singer, singer..."

Carlos Santana gets himself in big trouble.

Puzder down.


It's day 3 of this week, and 2 Trump people have fallen. Who's next?

MacArthur Foundation will give $100 million to one of these problem-solving projects.

8 finalists. 2 are obviously the worst. 2 strike me as the obvious best choices.

"The white guy wants to preserve the black roots of jazz while the black guy is the sellout?"

"This could be a deliberate ironic twist, but if it is, it's a distasteful one for African-Americans. One legitimate complaint that marginalized people (women, people of color, Muslims, the LGBT community, etc.) have had about Hollywood in the past is that when they were portrayed, it was done in a negative way. The ditzy blonde, the Muslim terrorist, the gay predator are all familiar stereotypes from years of TV and movies. So much has been done in recent years to overcome those debasing images, but we still have to be careful. It's not that a black man can't be the sellout or the drug dealer, it's just that they shouldn't be if they're the only prominent black character in the story. Whether it's intentional or unintentional, that sends a bigoted message rippling through our society."

Writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in "How 'La La Land' Misleads on Race, Romance and Jazz."

Part of the problem is that there are too few black characters in Hollywood movies (not counting the movies that are specifically about black culture and history). If there's only one black character, he's going to be perceived as representing more than an individual.

And to be more than an individual is to be less than an individual.

ADDED: At Vulture, "The Six Shadiest Lines From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Analysis of La La Land."

"Dozens of dead owls have been reported by drivers along Interstate-84 in southern Idaho making for an eerie stretch of road."

"It almost looks like they fell from the sky"... but there's "a simple explanation," according to the Idaho Fish and Game spokesman. There are mice along the interstate, the owls go for them, and the cars — going 85 miles an hour — hit the owls.

"The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by 'intelligence' like candy. Very un-American!"

Tweets Trump, quoted in a NYT article titled "Trump Condemns Leaks to News Media in a Flurry on Twitter."

Also in the flurry:
“This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign”...
“Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia”
Underlying NYT article on the front page right now, "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence." Excerpts from that:
The intelligence agencies... sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation....

The officials said that one of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort.... Mr. Manafort, who has not been charged with any crimes, dismissed the officials’ accounts in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “This is absurd,” he said. “I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.” He added, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”

Arizona invites lawyers to provide drugs to help their clients through the execution process.

Now, this is a new kind of crazy.
The protocol says that “the inmate’s counsel or other third parties acting on behalf of the inmate’s counsel” may provide the department with a sedative, pentobarbital, or an anesthetic, sodium pentothal, if they can obtain it “from a certified or licensed pharmacist, pharmacy, compound pharmacy, manufacturer, or supplier”.

Attorneys, though, said the idea is ludicrous. Megan McCracken, a lethal injection expert at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said the clause is “unprecedented, wholly novel and frankly absurd. A prisoner or a prisoner’s lawyer simply cannot obtain these drugs legally, or legally transfer them to the department of corrections, so it’s hard to fathom what the Arizona department was thinking in including this nonsensical provision as part of its execution protocol.”

Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender who works on death penalty cases in Arizona, said he was “at a loss” to explain the provision, which he said presents “ethical issues as well as legal issues. It’s not legal for me as a lawyer to go out and procure drugs for a client. So legally it’s impossible and ethically as well, my job is to make sure that my client’s rights are protected and not to work with the state to ensure that it carries out the execution … If the state wants to have the death penalty it has the duty to figure out how to do it constitutionally, it can’t pass that obligation on to the prisoner or to anyone else.”

WaPo stoops to atrocious clickbait.

Look at this headline, and notice the sidebar "Most read" list:

The photo is captioned "E.coli bacteria." Screwworms are insects. The report is of a lawsuit:
A woman in south-central Texas is suing Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, claiming the restaurant’s red beans and rice contained flesh-eating New World screwworms that have ravaged her body over the past two years.

Karen Goode of San Antonio argued in a 10-page lawsuit filed last week that Popeyes and its franchisee Z&H Foods are responsible for feeding her food infested with the parasite in 2015. She said the bugs entered her digestive tract and laid eggs, which embedded into the interior lining of her small intestine, then hatched and started eating Goode “from the inside out.”
The article — which you can see is the #2 most-read thing at WaPo — goes on to explain how the claim cannot possibly be true, but ends with the brief notation: "This story has been updated." The oldest comment over there is:
I'm calling buncombe.

1) How did she know she got it from Popeye's? It's not like the effect happens before her next meal.

2) Screwwroms are only known to enter the bodies of animals through open wounds. Did she rub the red beans and rice on a cut?

3) She ALSO "was infected with E.coli and Helicobacter pylori"? From the same meal? What a fantastic coincidence.

Please apply critical thinking before publishing.
Here's an older version of the article, via The Wayback Machine, which I think is what the commenters saw. The newer version of the article does a good job of showing the scientific reason why the lawsuit must fail, but that demonstrates why the article ought never to have been published in the first place. Notice that the older headline has the name of the smeared business glaring in the headline: "Woman claims Popeyes meal gave her flesh-eating screwworms that ate her 'from the inside out.'"

If Omarosa didn't say "dossier," let's lob a new epithet: "Nixonian."


I hate when that happens! There's some keystroke that publishes a post. I'm still not sure what it is, but I manage to hit it from time to time. Now, you're wondering what the hell this post title means. And the previous post title is enigmatic, so perhaps you think I've lost my mind.

Here are the 2 Washington Post articles I am reading:

1. From February 13th: "Journalist says Omarosa Manigault bullied her and mentioned a ‘dossier’ on her."

2. From February 14th (referring to the same juournalist, April Ryan): "‘This is . . . Nixonian’: Reporter was taped by White House in heated exchange."

Both articles are by Paul Farhi. The first article describes a dispute between Manigault and Ryan, and you can see that the headline highlights Ryan's version of the story. This is from the middle of Farhi's article:
In October, Manigault sent Ryan an email raising questions about whether Ryan was being paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign — a claim Ryan vigorously denies. Manigault included a link to an article from the Intercept ["EXCLUSIVE: New Email Leak Reveals Clinton Campaign’s Cozy Press Relationship"]...
Ryan's name was in the Intercept article, and Manigault pushed Ryan to protect her "legacy" and "integrity."
Ryan said she was devastated by any intimation that she was unethical. “It’s just ugly,” she said. “She’s trying to harm my integrity and my career. I’ve been [covering the White House] for 20 years. I plan to be here for the next 20 years. You don’t mess with someone’s livelihood.”
I don't understand why Ryan is attacking Manigault for something that was in The Intercept. Was The Intercept right or wrong? Attacking Manigault makes it look like The Intercept got it right. Farhi doesn't explore that puzzlement. Here's his next paragraph:
During their altercation...
How did the "altercation" start? Suddenly, there's a face-to-face encounter? We're just plunged into the middle of things!
... Ryan said Manigault told her that she was among several African American journalists who were the subject of White House “dossiers.” Manigault has previously said that Trump is keeping “a list” of opponents, though at the time she was referring to Republicans who voted against Trump.

Ryan said she dismissed the idea of any such dossiers. “I said, ‘Good for you, good for you, good for you.’ ”...
What makes it into the headline is the idea of "dossiers." (An interesting word, given the fake-news Trump dossier of 4 weeks ago.) It sounds very creepy and scurrilous, the keeping of dossiers on journalists. Why it sounds... Nixonian.

One day later, the news is that the conversation was recorded and the word "dossier" isn't there. Ryan's story is shot to hell. And what's in the headline? Ryan's using the word "Nixonian" to describe the practice of recording conversations.
Ryan said she was not aware that her run-in with Manigault last week was recorded. “I didn’t know she was taping it,” she said. “This is about her trying to smear my name. This is freaking Nixonian.”

Manigault said the White House’s press staff recorded the encounter and that its contents make clear she never threatened Ryan or mentioned “dossiers.”

“She came in [to the White House press-staff area] hot,” hurling insults at her, Manigault said. “She came in with an attitude. For her to characterize me as the bully — I’m so glad we have this tape … because it’s ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’ ” in Ryan’s case, Manigault said.
It may be Nixonian to record conversations, but this incident shows it was smart, since it gives Manigault a way to defend herself.

Farhi tells us that Washington D.C. has a "one-party consent" law, which would mean that Manigault recording Ryan without her knowledge is not illegal, but:
Several veteran White House reporters said interviews are sometimes recorded by officials but that it was unheard of to do so without a reporter’s prior knowledge.
I'd like to hear more about the etiquette of recording. If it's done surreptitiously, that might explain why reporters do not hear of it. Maybe what's special in this case is how quickly Manigault offered the assertion of the existence of a recording to defend herself. One reason to do that would be if there actually is no recording and Manigault is simply trying to force Ryan into changing her story. But that's extremely unlikely given that Farhi writes that "a handful of reporters" have heard the recording. One of them, Fox News White House reporter John Roberts, said that he heard "some terse words and accusations... but it didn’t amount to a confrontation," and that he did not hear the word "dossier."
Ryan stood by her account and charged that Manigault “selected pieces” of their exchange. “She wants to spin it like it’s a catfight, but she edited that tape,” she said. “You don’t hear her screaming. This is about her smearing me.”
And that's where we stand. Ryan got some big press and now she's on the defensive. Why did The Washington Post help her go on the offensive on February 13th and then again boost her on the 14th, calling Manigault "Nixonian"? When does Manigault get fair balance in The Washington Post? 

"In Russia, you don't drain swamp. Swamp drains you."

Overheard at Meadhouse.

"Unethical hair."

Oh, how humans have fought over hair! Ideas about the right way to cut your hair are often based on religion, but even when the ideas are not religious, people have fought with a fervor that might as well have been religious.*

I myself got caught up in The Great Secular Hair Panic of 1964 when teachers sent me to the school vice principal's office more than once because of the length of my bangs. (Let's just say The Ramones stole my hairstyle.) I challenged the authorities to justify their zealotry to override my style autonomy, and they spluttered and resorted to bogus health claims.

The point is: Hair matters. It matters in a way that's like religion and often part of religion.

Today comes the news (at BBC.com) that a "footballer" (i.e., soccer player) named Asamoah Gyan — along with 40-some others — has been deemed to have "unethical hair" under the United Arab Emirates Football Association guidelines.
Some Islamic teachings ban 'Qaza' hairstyles, where only part of the head is shaved.
Gyan's hair isn't some extreme half-shaved look, but simply a short on the sides, long on top look. (I see many American college basketball games out of the corner of my eye, and I'd guess that at least half of the men get their hair cut like this. It strikes me as neat and attractive.)

So Islam, like many other religions and things that are not even religion but unleash religion-like repression, has rules about hair. I don't remember noticing the word "Qaza" before, so I looked it up. Before I show you what I found, let me say that I think sports teams are entitled to have rules about how the players look. They have to wear uniforms, but unlike uniforms, you're stuck with the haircut outside of the game, so I'd like to see some benevolence here.**

Here's a webpage that looks like a sincere effort at explaining Qaza: "Ruling on shortening the sides of the hair more than the middle."
Al-Nasaa’i (5048) and Abu Dawood (4195) narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) saw a boy part of whose head had been shaved and part of it left. He told them not to do that and said: “Shave all of it or leave all of it.”....

[I]t says in Sharh al-Iqnaa’: Qaza’ includes shaving some places on the sides of the head, or shaving the middle and leaving the sides, as most of the Christians do, or shaving the sides and leaving the middle, as many of the foolish do, or shaving the front and leaving the back. Ahmad was asked about shaving the back of the head and he said: This is the action of the Magians, and whoever imitates a people is one of them. Thus it is known that it is not permissible to leave some parts of the hair longer than others....

Moreover, this style is not beautification for either men or women, rather it is changing the creation of Allaah and spoiling people's appearance, and it is an imitation of the West in which there is no benefit, in addition to the cost involved, as it involves a lot of effort and spending money on something that is harmful, as is well known. We advise men not to adopt this western style and we advise women to stick with that which their mothers and grandmothers did, of letting their hair grow and braiding it, as this is more beautiful....
3 things connect: 1. Subjective opinions about what looks good (aesthetics), 2. The interest in distinguishing your group from other people (politics), and 3. The words of venerated persons (historical and textual reasoning).

Do you have any strongly held views about hair, strong enough that you would impose them on anyone other than yourself? If so, does your view contain those 3 elements?

* What is "religion" anyway? To explore the continuum from religion to absolutely no way that's religion, read my 2009 Religion and the Constitution exam, which had 5 prisoners asserting a right to be free of the prison's forced haircut policy.

** Much more could be said — in the style of that 2009 exam — about the individual reasons people have for their hairstyles and why some might deserve special treatment and others not. But once you give an exemption, it's hard to exclude somebody else from an exemption. You can't say rules are rules. It's best to begin with a rule that isn't any harsher than it needs to be. And it's especially bad to begin with a rule that has a disparate racial impact, which might be what's going on in Gyan's case. (Did the United Arab Emirates Football Association crack down on a kind of haircut that had caught on among black players?)

February 14, 2017

At the Lonely Girl Café...


... it's Valentine's Day. Why are you alone?

You can also talk about anything you want here. A "café" post is an open thread... and a prompt to remember to use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Red State, Blue City/The United States is coming to resemble two countries, one rural and one urban. What happens when they go to war?"

An article in The Atlantic. The title is overemotional (and annoyingly treats the word rural as a synonym for not urban). But the text of the article has some good detail about lawmaking. The liberal urban areas might want to do things their own way but can have their laws preempted by state government.
Common examples involve blocking local minimum-wage and sick-leave ordinances, which are opposed by business groups, and bans on plastic grocery bags, which arouse retailers’ ire. Some states have prohibited cities from enacting firearm regulations....

“People are furious. They’re confused,” Esther Manheimer, Asheville’s mayor, told me as her city battled to retain control of its water system. “We’re a very desirable city to live in. We’re on all the top-10 lists. How would anyone have an issue with the way Asheville is running its city, or the things that the people of Asheville value?”...

Some states delegate certain powers to cities, but states remain the higher authority, even if city dwellers don’t realize it. “Most people think, We have an election here, we elect a mayor and our city council, we organize our democracy—we should have a right to control our own city in our own way,” says Gerald Frug, a Harvard Law professor and an expert on local government. “You go to any place in America and ask, ‘Do you think this city can control its own destiny?’ ‘Of course it can!’ The popular conception of what cities do runs in direct conflict with the legal reality.”
ADDED: The question in the title has a very simple answer: The state wins.

ALSO: Though the law gives the state the upper hand, there should be a political argument that appeals to the conscience of conservatives in state government. If they believe in the values of federalism — that decentralization produces law that is well-tailored to local conditions and preferences — then they should respect the autonomy of cities. Some matters need to be governed by uniform state law, just as some things work better with uniform federal law, but when that uniformity is not a positive good, lean toward local democracy. I'm not saying this political argument will necessarily work, just that it has potential to singe their conscience.

"I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who's worked in New Hampshire politics."

"It's very real. It's very serious. This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence.... I'm saying anybody—George, go to New Hampshire. Talk to anybody who has worked in politics there for a long time. Everybody is aware of the problem in New Hampshire."

Said Stephen Miller. He was talking to George Stephanopoulos, who kept asking for evidence, when all he needed to do was go to New Hampshire and ask anybody.... everybody in New Hampshire knows.

Joe Scarborough is so upset with Stephen Miller that he can't let Mika Brzezinski get a word in edgewise.

But she does get in a good deal of theatrical mime of the think-I'm-gonna-barf and yikes-I'm-fainting variety.

Joe's main point seems to be what a terrible communicator Stephen Miller is, which I interpret to mean that Stephen Miller really got his job done.

Joe's secondary point is that everybody knows judicial supremacy is written in the nation's founding documents. How about getting a law professor on the show who can calmly talk about the scope of judicial review, including the limits on it? It's ridiculous for Scarborough to just emote for 10 minutes on the subject. There's a difference between judicial independence and judicial supremacy and there are any number of other details that might be enlightening. Instead we get Scarborough arguing basically by showing how upset he is... he and his shushed-up sidekick Mika.

Ironically, he's purporting to loathe the strong, absolute speaking style of Stephen Miller, but he's a more extreme example of the same kind of thing.

"The older half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been killed in Malaysia by two female agents with 'poison needles'..."

"... South Korean media outlets reported Tuesday," WaPo reports.
The reports — which could not be immediately be verified — said Kim’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam was attacked at Kuala Lumpur airport Monday night by two women who fled the scene, according to accounts by South Korea’s TV Chosun, a cable channel.

"I’ll be the first to admit that the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake."

"Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem. Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are."

Said Cooper Hefner, dressing Playboy magazine's commercial decision in fine words. 

YouTube's biggest star — Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) — reveals himself to be an anti-Semite... unless you can believe this somehow works as just joking.

Forbes reports:
Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) has posted nine videos featuring anti-Semetic [sic] comments or Nazi imagery, the Wall Street Journal reports. These include a video of men paid by Kjellberg to hold up a sign reading "Death to All Jews" (Kjellberg later referred to this as a joke gone too far) and another with a man dressed as Jesus who says, "Hitler did nothing wrong." Multiple other videos feature swastikas, while another includes photos of Hitler, with Kjellberg wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap. The Nazism has expanded to audio: In a January 14 video he played the Nazi Party anthem, and in a February 5 video he features a "Sieg Heil" voiceover.

PewDiePie has taken down three of the nine videos in question.... "I am in no way supporting any kind of hateful attitudes," he wrote. "I think of the content that I create as entertainment, and not a place for any serious political commentary." He did not, however, go so far as to apologize for the videos.... "I think there’s a difference between a joke and actual like, f*ck, death to all Jews," he said, once again without actually apologizing...

Mike Flynn is out.

Did I ever pay enough attention to Mike Flynn to have some responsibility to comment on his ouster?

February 1: I noticed he was the bearer of the message: "we are officially putting Iran on notice."

January 22: I noticed Trump, speaking at the CIA, called out to him: "And by the way, General Flynn is right over here. Put up your hand, Mike. What a good guy."

December 10: Ah! Here's the important one:
Michael Flynn — Trump's choice for National Security Adviser — says there is Arabic signage marking "lanes of entry" for "radicalized Muslims" to enter the U.S. from Mexico.

Back in August, he said:
"I know from my friends in the Border Patrol in CBP that there are countries — radical Islamist countries, state-sponsored — that are cutting deals with Mexican drug cartels for some of what they call the 'lanes of entry' into our country... And I have personally seen the photos of the signage along those paths that are in Arabic. They're like way points along that path as you come in. Primarily, in this case the one that I saw was in Texas and it's literally, it's like signs, that say, in Arabic, 'this way, move to this point.' It's unbelievable. This rise of Muslims and radicalized Muslims coming into our country illegally is something that we should pay very, very close attention to."
My first reaction was: He sounds too nutty to be National Security Adviser....

"I feel like I’m perfect for the aesthetic of Slag Mag, because my persona is very witty and narcissistic..."

"... and the other thing about me is I give zero fucks about anything, yet I have a strong opinion about everything, even topics I’m not informed on."

Says the Lena Dunham character at the beginning of the first episode of the last season of "Girls."

For those of you who hate "Girls" so much you don't even want this post to exist, hang on. Here's some anti-Paul Krugman dialogue:
Shoshanna: Oh, wow. The American middle class is disappearing. Thanks for the hot tip, Paul Krugman.

Ray: I know, right? You've really got your finger on the pulse there, Krugman.

Marnie: What's happening?

Shoshanna: I know, it's like, if I need a tip about what to talk about at a dinner party in 2005, I'll call you on your flip phone.

Ray: Fuck you, Paul Krugman! Thank you for shedding light on the most obvious, self-evident bullshit that every halfwit in the city already knows.

Shoshanna: It's like, "Oh, hey, Krugman, maybe you should write an article - about, like, women's inequality." Like, let's talk about that.

Ray: Oh, man.

February 13, 2017

"But no Muslim religious leader has yet stressed the crucial gap between divine purposes and dry legalism as powerfully as Jesus did."

"Jesus showed that sacrificing the spirit of religion to literalism leads to horrors, like the stoning of innocent women by bigoted men — as it still happens in some Muslim countries today. He also taught that obsession with outward expressions of piety can nurture a culture of hypocrisy — as is the case in some Muslim communities today. Jesus even defined humanism as a higher value than legalism, famously declaring, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.' Can we Muslims also reason, 'The Shariah is made for man, not man for the Shariah'? Or, like Jesus, can we also suggest that the Kingdom of God — also called 'the Caliphate' — will be established not within any earthly polity, but within our hearts and minds? If Jesus is 'a prophet of Islam,' as we Muslims often proudly say, then we should think on these questions. Because Jesus addressed the very problems that haunt us today and established a prophetic wisdom perfectly fit for our times."

From "What Jesus Can Teach Today’s Muslims," a NYT op-ed by Mustafa Akyol.

Here's his new book: "The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims."

The supermodel called out the NYT reporter for calling Melania Trump "a hooker."

Emily Ratajkowski tweeted:

And the NYT was duly chastened. It reprimanded the (unnamed) reporter:
“At a party last night, a Times reporter who does not cover Washington or politics, referred to an unfounded rumor regarding Melania Trump,” a Times spokesperson said in a statement to POLITICO. “The comment was not intended to be public, but it was nonetheless completely inappropriate and should not have occurred. Editors have talked to the reporter in question about the lapse.”
I don't know if the NYT is sensitive to the feminist critique articulated by Ratajkowski or whether it's afraid of getting sued for repeating the defamation (as The Daily Mail is currently being sued). 

It's interesting that Ratajkowski stuck her neck out there. I assume things like that are said about Melania at fashion-business parties all the time and that it's easiest to go with the flow and accept the anti-Trump banter. Of course, we all hate them and we can be transgressive when it's just us and we're talking about those people we all know we hate.

The Order and Chaos Quiz.

I don't know if you noticed, but I created a new tag on the blog today: order and chaos. Why hadn't the need for that ever hit me in the face before? I'm working on applying it retrospectively, to pull the order out of the chaos of the archive. I have these 2 search terms "order" and "chaos," but I'm only using "chaos" for this task of putting the tag on old posts. "Chaos" is simple. "Order," ironically, is chaotic. Way too many false positives — every court/executive order, every appearance of the phrase "in order to."

But, here, I made this nice quiz for you. It's in the old "matching" format. Obviously, don't look up the quotes. Try to guess. I'll give you the answers later tonight in a few minutes. The quotes are numbered, the authors have letters. Match them up. I'm sure you'll get most of them wrong, the fun is really in seeing how wrong you can be.

1. “We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.”

2. “The world is not to be put in order. The world is order. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.”

3. “Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: 'Here are our monsters,' without immediately turning the monsters into pets.”

4. “Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

5. “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” 

6. “Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.”
7. "You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star."

8. "I accept chaos, I'm not sure whether it accepts me."

9. “In times of widespread chaos and confusion, it has been the duty of more advanced human beings--artists, scientists, clowns and philosophers--to create order. In times such as ours, however, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relive the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption.”

10. “For nothing matters except life; and, of course, order.” 


A. Henry Adams

B. Jacques Derrida

C. Bob Dylan

D. Gustave Flaubert

E. Frank Herbert (author of "Dune")

F. Henry Miller

G. Friedrich Nietzsche

H. Tom Robbins ("Even Cowgirls Get the Blues")

I. Hunter S. Thompson

J. Virginia Woolf

ADDED: The answers are here

In Fox Lake, Wisconsin: 100+ cows break out of prison.

They were rounded up and brought back to the prison (by human prison inmates).

"She’s an interesting woman. I admire her choices. But I married Sophia Loren. She turned into Jean-Claude Van Damme."

Said Anthony Bourdain, quoted in this long New Yorker article, "Anthony Bourdain's Moveable Feast/Guided by a lusty appetite for indigenous culture and cuisine, the swaggering chef has become a travelling statesman."

The turning into Jean-Claude Van Damme has to do with jujitsu. And the couple broke up.

Bourdain had an earlier wife. He broke up with her because of television:
“She identified television early on as an existential threat to the marriage,” Bourdain said. “I felt like the whole world was opening up to me. I’d seen things. I’d smelled things. I desperately wanted more. And she saw the whole thing as a cancer.” If you watch episodes of “A Cook’s Tour,” you can sometimes spot [the first wife, Nancy] Putkoski hovering at the edge of the frame. She had no desire to be on camera. She told me recently that her ideal degree of fame would be that of a Supreme Court Justice: “Almost nobody knows what you look like, but you always get the reservation you want.”
There are easier ways to get a reservation, but if you do use the become-a-Supreme-Court-Justice method, make sure to be one of the liberal ones. 

And, also on the subject of television, I was interested in this:
“Parts Unknown” films two seasons a year. Even first-class travel can be punishing after a while, and Bourdain acknowledges that although he may still behave like a young man, he isn’t one. “I think you’re officially old at sixty, right?” he told me, soon after his birthday. “The car starts falling apart.” However, TV stars forge bonds with their audience through habitual exposure, and it can feel risky to take a break. “It’s a bit like ‘Poltergeist,’ ” Nigella Lawson, who was Bourdain’s co-host on “The Taste,” told me. “You get sucked into the TV and you can never get out.”
By the way, I love Bourdain's book "Kitchen Confidential," and I was fascinated to learn that it was inspired by one of my favorite books,  “Down and Out in Paris and London” (by George Orwell). The New Yorker quotes Orwell's statement that cooks are “the most workmanlike class, and the least servile.” Here's the whole passage from Orwell:
Undoubtedly the most workmanlike class, and the least servile, are the cook. They do not earn quite so much as waiters, but their prestige is higher and their employment steadier. The cook does not look upon himself as a servant, but as a skilled workman; he is generally called 'un ouvrier' which a waiter never is. He knows his power--knows that he alone makes or mars a restaurant, and that if he is five minutes late everything is out ofgear. He despises the whole non-cooking staff, and makes it a point of honour to insult everyone below the head waiter. And he takes a genuine artistic pride in his work, which demands very great skill. It is not the cooking that is so difficult, but the doing everything to time. Between breakfast and luncheon the head cook at the Hôtel X would receive orders for several hundred dishes, all to be served at different times; he cooked few of them himself, but he gave instructions about all of them and inspected them before they were sent up. His memory was wonderful. The vouchers were pinned on a board, but the head cook seldom looked at them; everything was stored in his mind, and exactly to the minute, as each dish fell due, he would call out, 'Faites marcher une côtelette de veau' (or whatever it was) unfailingly. He was an insufferable bully, but he was also an artist. It is for their punctuality, and not for any superiority in technique, that men cooks are preferred to women.

The waiter's outlook is quite different. He too is proud in a way of his skill, but his skill is chiefly in being servile. His work gives him the mentality, not of a workman, but of a snob. He lives perpetually in sight of rich people, stands at their tables, listens to their conversation, sucks up to them with smiles and discreet little jokes. He has the pleasure of spending money by proxy. Moreover, there is always the chance that he may become rich himself, for, though most waiters die poor, they have long runs of luck occasionally. At some cafés on the Grand Boulevard there is so much money to be made that the waiters actually pay the patron for their employment. The result is that between constantly seeing money, and hoping to get it, the waiter comes to identify himself to some extent with his employers. He will take pains to serve a meal in style, because he feels that he is participating in the meal himself.

I remember Valenti telling me of some banquet at Nice at which he had once served, and of how it cost two hundred thousand francs and was talked of for months afterwards. 'It was splendid, mon p'tit, mais magnifique! Jesus Christ! The champagne, the silver, the orchids--I have never seen anything like them, and I have seen some things. Ah, it was glorious!'

'But,' I said, 'you were only there to wait?'

'Oh, of course. But still, it was splendid.'

The moral is, never be sorry for a waiter. Sometimes when you sit in a restaurant, still stuffing yourself half an hour after closing time, you feel that the tired waiter at your side must surely be despising you. But he is not. He is not thinking as he looks at you, 'What an overfed lout'; he is thinking, 'One day, when I have saved enough money, I shall be able to imitate that man.' He is ministering to a kind of pleasure he thoroughly understands and admires. And that is why waiters are seldom Socialists, have no effective trade union, and will work twelve hours a day--they work fifteen hours, seven days a week, in many cafés. They are snobs, and they find the servile nature of their work rather congenial.