March 18, 2017

Goodbye to the greatest rock and roller of them all: Chuck Berry.

He was 90. Here's the NYT obituary. Here's WaPo.

"This is our bright, shining moment."

Says Meade.

The Badgers knock out Villanova.

Late afternoon on Zabriskie Point.

I loved the stark lighting on March 6th in Death Valley:





Why did some but not all of the photographs I uploaded to my laptop automatically appear in my desktop?

I have a Macbook Pro laptop and an iMac desktop. The software is Apple's Photos.

When I got back from our trip, I was pleased to see photographs already in the desktop, but then I noticed that whatever was happening, it stopped midway through the trip. Hundreds of photos traveled from one computer to the other without my doing anything. Then whatever was happening stopped.

Any ideas?

UPDATE: I figured out the problem. It's "Photo Stream." Photos automatically became available to all my computers but the memory maxed out. I found the photos under the tab "Albums" in Photos, and I was going to delete them so that newer photos would move from the laptop to the desktop, but it said that deleting them in Photo Stream would delete them in all my computers! That might be good for some people, but it's not what I want.

"I haven’t spoken to him. Maybe just to say hello. It feels trite. I feel ridiculous bothering him."

Said Donald Trump Jr. about his father, the President. That's quoted in a big NYT "style" piece called "Donald Trump Jr. Is His Own Kind of Trump." I'm copying that quote for the post title because it distracted me. What I'd originally intended to make this post about was:
On Feb. 10, opening day for the erotic thriller “Fifty Shades Darker,” Mr. Trump tweeted, “@MrsVanessaTrump took/dragged me to see the new 50 shades movie and I am the only guy in an otherwise packed theater.”

“It’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back,” he said.
First, can't people think of some variations on "two hours of my life I’ll never get back"? It should be embarrassing to roll out that old line again. If you're so boring that you'd say that, I have no confidence that you'd have done anything of value with that 2 hours you lost, so the phrase collapses in upon itself.

Second, let's count the ways in which the man has insulted his wife by saying "@MrsVanessaTrump took/dragged me to see the new 50 shades movie and I am the only guy in an otherwise packed theater":

1. VT dragged her husband to a movie.

2. VT is interested in a movie about a man sexually dominating a woman.

3. VT loves sexual domination by a man but needs to dominate her own man to get to a cinematic vicarious experience of a man sexually dominating a woman.

4. VT unlike every other woman in the movie theater needs a man to get to the movie.

5. VT gazed at the sexually dominating man in the movie while her put-upon real-life man sat next to her not being the kind of man she's making such a show of fantasizing about wanting, which was a terribly unkind thing to do to him and something that no other woman in the theater stooped to doing.

A Portland solution to homelessness: Build tiny houses in homeowners backyards.

The homeowner gets the petite outbuilding free in exchange for an agreement to serve as a landlord for an otherwise homeless family for 5 years. After 5 years, the homeowner gets a tiny house that's been lived in for 5 years and they can do what they want with it.

The living quarters, to be used in your — or your neighbors' — backyard, "would be about 200 square feet, with bunkbeds for the kids and water, sanitation and plumbing."

What sort of homeowner would do this? You would have people — with children — living right next to you in a horribly cramped space and you would be the landlord, with the responsibility to maintain habitable conditions. But you are not an experienced landlord. You may have good intentions and think kindly of the homeless in the abstract, but how would that idealism translate into proximity to real people who are your tenants, whose problems with the living conditions are your problems. Do you think these people will love you, their benefactor? You are the landlord!

But maybe you're thinking: If I can deal with this for 5 years, I'll be able to AirBnB it....

(Rethinking buying a house in Portland.)

German reporter prompts Trump to express regret over tweets.

A quick clip from yesterday's press conference:

Why is the security around Trump so bad?

1. "A California man who climbed over the White House fence last week managed to roam undetected on the grounds for about 17 minutes, as Secret Service agents appeared to ignore several alarms, officials said Friday," the NYT reports.

2. There's that laptop computer that was stolen that contained floor plans to Trump Tower among other important things. It was stolen from a car that Secret Service agent Marie Argentieri parked overnight in a driveway in Brooklyn. I wouldn't treat my laptop that way even if it had absolutely nothing sensitive in it.
A Secret Service “employee was the victim of a criminal act in which our agency-issued laptop computer was stolen,” spokesman Shawn Holtzclaw said in a statement.
That's not good enough! The Secret Service is supposed to protect the President from criminal acts. It can't play the victim card! And by the way, how do I know Argentieri was just a hapless victim?

March 17, 2017

"I hope he doesn't give her a shoulder rub."

Says Meade when I say President Trump and Angela Merkel are about to hold a press conference.

Watch it here.

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said:
Next best thing to a shoulder rub: commiseration over being wire tapped by Obama.
That was priceless! I'll bet many people had forgotten that Obama wiretapped Merkel. For Trump to slip in that reference so slyly with Merkel standing right there — that goes on the historical highlight reel of the Trump presidency. Watch Merkel's face as she realizes what he's saying and reacts.

ALSO: Here's the reference video for Meade's joke in the post title:

At the Furnace Creek Hotel...


... take a look at both sides.


Those are 2 photos I took from the same vantage point on March 5th. I highly recommend the hotel, which is inside Death Valley National Park. Our room was right next to that terrace you see there, and it was fun to walk down that steep staircase and out onto the gravelly path to look around.

Feel free to talk about anything in the comments, and please consider doing whatever shopping you were going to do anyway through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Zeus and Achilles were 'almost a religion' to him; how could the 'insipid blackness of the Episcopalian Church'—the faith of fashionable Boston—compete with the 'whoring of Zeus and the savagery of the heroes?'"

Wrote 19-year-old Robert Lowell to 51-year-old Ezra Pound in 1936, according to this New Yorker review of a book about Lowell. Lowell was trying to ingratiate himself to Pound, trying to convince the old poet to let him "come to Italy and work under you and forge my way into reality." What on earth would you say to try to seem like a poet worthy of an internship with another poet? Lowell also said:
I had violent passions for various pursuits usually taking the form of collecting: tools; names of birds; marbles; catching butterflies, snakes, turtles etc; buying books on Napoleon... I caught over thirty turtles and put them in a well where they died of insufficient feeding....
I was looking for that passage — having heard it yesterday on the audio version of The New Yorker — and I happened to run into this other article which has some similar material: "The Sage of Yale Law School." The "sage" is Anthony Kronman, who's got a new book, "an eleven-hundred-page exploration of his personal theology, called 'Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan'":
Kronman’s book... explains the Greek view of life, as it was expressed by Aristotle; then he describes the Judeo-Christian view, as espoused by Augustine and Aquinas; finally, he explores atheism. In each case, he shows why the best possible version of each world view is unsatisfying. He concludes that “born-again paganism”—a theology of his own invention, holding that God and the world are the same—is the only truly convincing way to understand our place in the universe....

Kronman sees born-again paganism as inherently democratic. It “divinizes the distinctiveness of every individual,” he writes.... His ideas about divinity seem, at times, more poetic than religious; toward the end of the book, he devotes many pages to Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens....
Poets... but what about Robert Lowell and Ezra Pound? Neither are mentioned in "Confessions," and though I haven't scanned the 1100 pages — I've only used the "search inside this book" function at Amazon — I take it that Kronman's "paganism" has nothing to do with the whoring of Zeus and the savagery of the heroes. He also doesn't mention Episcopalians and their — as Lowell would have it — "insipid blackness."

Enough about squeaky, it's time for Spicey.

From "White House Tries to Soothe British Officials Over Trump Wiretap Claim" (in the NYT).

5th highest-rated comment: "And this is the man that has the nuclear codes? It was be laughable if it weren't so downright terrifying."

Which reminds me of this other thing on the NYT front page right now: "Rex Tillerson Rejects Talks With North Korea on Nuclear Program."
“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Mr. Tillerson said, a reference to the term used by the Obama administration to describe a policy of waiting out the North Koreans, while gradually ratcheting up sanctions and covert action....

Mr. Tillerson’s tougher line was echoed by President Trump on Twitter later Friday. “North Korea is behaving very badly,” he posted. “They have been “playing” the United States for years. China has done little to help!”

I like the way the NYT is asking the basketball questions I ask.

"Why Are Basketball Games So Squeaky?"

I also like that the answer involves lobsters, because that's the way I am, thinking of something to say about basketball only to get leverage into something — anything — that could hold my interest... in its cold hard claw....
To scare away predators, [spiny lobsters] rub a smooth, rubbery protrusion at the base of each antenna against the smooth, hard part of their heads.

The result is an audible squawk. The spiny lobster became the first known example among animals of the stick-slip phenomenon, a deeply studied principle of science and engineering. It is when two relatively smooth or flat surfaces become repeatedly stuck and unstuck by the forces of friction, creating a vibration that becomes a noise....

“The herringbone structures of the [basketball] shoe outsole are induced to vibrate at their low-order natural frequencies by stick-slip contact with the surface,” Shorten and his research partner Xia Xi concluded.
They can make non-squeaky shoes, but basketball players don't like them. They want the squeak — "They listen for it. It gives them that audio sense of reassurance that they’re sticking."

Wisconsin players especially like the squeak. It gives them that reassuring feeling of cheese curds.

"What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size."

Said Carl Jung, quoted in a Psychology Today article from last spring, "You Only Get More of What You Resist—Why?"
Psychologically speaking, resistance and resolution are at opposite poles. For resistance has fundamentally to do with not being able, or willing, to  deal with the negative experiences in your life. And ultimately your happiness depends a lot more on handling—then letting go of—such adversities than it does, self-protectively, denying them, or fighting against them. In addition, so does (unwittingly) holding onto their associated feelings of hurt, sorrow, anxiety, or anger.

Without consciously deciding to, you can even get “attached” to feelings you haven’t resolved. But if you become aware of the exorbitantly high costs of not acknowledging, and working through, these feelings, you’ll realize that heedlessly clinging to them hasn’t at all contributed to your welfare. Quite the opposite.....
I ran across that article as I was looking for a link to put on my coinage "persisting-resisting" in this post, referring to "the people who are persisting-resisting Trump after the election, who go heavily into not-my-President politics." I knew that Mitch McConnell, squelching a Senator, had said "Nevertheless, she persisted" and created a feminist meme and that Hillary Clinton had combined "persist" with its rhyme "resist" in some kind of advice to Democrats. Ah, yes, here it is in all its tin-eared glory:
"Let resistance plus persistence equal progress for our party and our country. Keep fighting. I'll be right there with you every step of the way."
It's worth noticing that the psychologists have gotten there first with the resist/persist rhetoric. I don't know if I trust psychologists more than politicians. The old psychiatrist advice stop resisting sounds rather creepy. I'll be right there with you every step of the way — that's creepy too.

Anyway... connect that Hillary quote and that Jung quote. "Let resistance plus persistence equal progress" and "What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size." Seems like progress will come in the form of more Trump.

Let's all go to Hibbing and paint Bob Dylan murals.

Here's how to apply. Criteria include the "capacity to capture the spirit of Bob Dylan’s work."

If it's too much trouble to actually apply for permission and to apply the paint to the wall, please just talk about your concept here. Obviously, it would be too boring to say you're going to copy some photograph of Bob Dylan. I'd try to paint....
Lights flicker from the opposite loft
In this room the heat pipes just cough...
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze...
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule...
And Madonna, she still has not showed
We see this empty cage now corrode
Where her cape of the stage once had flowed
The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev’rything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the fish truck that loads
While my conscience explodes
And after all these years, I still think it's a wallflower frieze.

Is it hypocritical for Senator Manchin to go to a party for a Trump appointee after he said he couldn't vote for the man "in good conscience"?

That's what Instapundit implies, linking to a Washington Free Beacon piece about a glamorous party for the new Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

But it seems to me that to cry hypocrisy is to act like the people who are persisting-resisting Trump after the election, who go heavily into not-my-President politics. I think serious fighting should occur at the decision point — an election, a confirmation process — but then, when a person reaches the position of power, through the constitutional process, we should give them the respect and dignity of the office. They deserve basic trust as they attempt to carry out their responsibilities. Then, watch what they do, pressure them, try persuade them to do what you think is best, and criticize them and protest if and when you see them going wrong.

In the confirmation process, a Senator is using evidence from the past to predict how well the nominee will perform. Manchin — according to the Free Beacon — was looking at "Ross's career as a billionaire investor—which earned him the nickname 'King of Bankruptcy'—and his involvement in the West Virginia mining industry." Now that Ross is the Commerce Secretary, Manchin can quite properly look toward the future, hope for the best from Ross, and maintain his own influence. I don't think this is hypocritical. The confirmation decision was a guess about what Ross would do if he attained power. The party attendance was about acknowledging the reality of Ross's position and treating him with the respect he deserves for winning confirmation.

In my career as a law professor, I saw many times when a job candidate had opponents who argued against an appointment, even with great intensity. But after the vote, if that person joined us as a colleague, he or she would be welcomed and not snubbed by anybody. I cannot imagine thinking of opponents of an appointment as hypocrites for being friendly and supportive to a new colleague! In fact, I would be critical if they treated the new person with anything less than full acceptance. Their old predictions that this person will perform badly should be put aside as we support him or her and hope the work will be good. If the work isn't good, criticize that.

And that's also how I feel about President Trump.

March 16, 2017

At the Sunset Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

That's the sunset from March 4th, in Death Valley.

"How did people react to your protest to the Pussy Riot trial, when you stood in front of a church, your lips sewn shut?"

"The passersby were interested in the performance, and wanted to understand what was going on. No one was aggressive; no one wanted to attack me. That shows how open people are to absorbing what they are shown, and what artists are trying to express."

Titus Canyon, Death Valley.



From March 5th.

(Feel free to talk about anything in the comments.)

"Suffice to say, watching all of MST3k from start to finish is a gargantuan undertaking, and one that likely would take even the most die-hard fan years to accomplish."

"Ranking the entire series? That can take even longer, but I’m happy to report that we’ve pulled it off.... That’s 176 feature-length episodes...."

All on one page, so you might have to wait a minute for it to load. It's worth it. I went right to Amazon and put the highest-ranked ones on my Prime Video wish list.

(That might not be your cheapest option (but as you know, I promote my Amazon portal as the chief monetization of this blog, so consider using it for something else, like Dansko hiking boots, which is what I just bought).)

"'Missing Richard Simmons' speaks to both the possibilities and the limits of the emerging prestige podcast form."

"Many of the podcast’s tropes — the mystery framing, the crowdsourcing of clues from the audience and a format that focuses on the narrator as much as his subject — are borrowed directly from 'Serial.' By turning a journalist into a friend and casting a man’s personal life as a mystery, 'Missing Richard Simmons' has retooled the stale Hollywood documentary as an addictive media sensation. But it’s also turned it into a morally suspect exercise: An invasion of privacy masquerading as a love letter. Mr. Simmons is a public figure, and that gives journalists a lot of latitude to pry. But a friend who claims to want to help Mr. Simmons should probably just leave him alone."

Writes Amanda Hess in "'Missing Richard Simmons,' the Morally Suspect Podcast" at the NYT.

I've listened to all the as-yet available episodes of "Missing Richard Simmons" and I'm not so negative about it. I think the podcaster, Dan Taberski, continually examines the morality of his project and exhibits kindness and empathy toward Simmons. The podcast has greatly increased my respect and good feeling toward Simmons — to the point where I could even suspect Taberski of being in cahoots with Simmons in some extremely clever PR project. Simmons has spent decades promoting himself one way or another. Why wouldn't he retool his fame like this?

I guess I should send my theory in for Taberski to examine. It could be whole episode!

"I wrote this book for everyone who’s ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who’s ever been made to feel less than."

Said Chelsea Clinton — according to a statement released in her name.

Interesting that she's already written a book called "She Persisted," when the "she persisted" meme only got started last month when Mitch McConnell uttered the words.

But who even believes that Chelsea writes her own books? The idea that the book is already written is just another thing to feel dubious about, and why devote any time to searching for authenticity in the vicinity of Chelsea Clinton? What a sad case! So conspicuous and so never there at all.

I'm linking to the news about her today, but there was news about her yesterday too: "Chelsea Clinton fuels speculation of political run." Fuels. As if energy emanates from the woebegone woman.
“She’s never denied that she has an interest in running for office, and that leads me to believe that one day she will,” said one former aide to Hillary Clinton. “And she’d probably be successful.”

Yet many caution that the time might not be right for another Clinton to enter the political scene....
As they say in the cartoons: How about never — is never good for you?

ADDED: She wrote the book "for everyone who’s ever been made to feel less than," but she's the one who's always been made to feel more than.

Colbert mocks Maddow.

Good imitation!

Obama in Tahiti — on the toney Marlon Brando atoll — for a month, and (as yet) without Michelle.

It's only $2,150 a night. You can't begrudge him that. He (with Michelle) just pulled in $60 million for a book deal.

Here, you too can stay at The Brando.

ADDED: "Locally, there is also speculation that he will spend time on his friend, billionaire film producer David Geffen’s $300-million yacht, which was moored in Papeete earlier this week and is now off the coast of neighbouring island Moorea."

The McDonald's corporate account tweets "@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands."

The Hill reports, adding "Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs is the executive vice president and global chief communications officer at McDonald's."

Wow! Who does McDonald's think eats at McDonald's? We just drove 4,000 miles across the country and back, and McDonald's is our go-to stop for good wifi, clean bathrooms, drinkable coffee, and even some food. I've overheard a lot of conversations in McDonald's restaurants, and I think these people are Trump voters. Maybe not all of them, but come on! Did an insane person take over the account? Or is Robert Gibbs applying his actual talent as an employee with a fiduciary duty to a corporation?

If the latter, he should be fired. Why was he hired in the first place? What were his qualifications? Here's his Wikipedia page. See if you can figure out why he was considered qualified. His degree is in political science and his work prior to McDonald's was in political communication. I know some people think selling politicians is like selling hamburgers, but I don't think it works the other way around.

And look at how beautifully Donald Trump has boosted the McDonald's brand:

Celebrating 1237! #Trump2016

A post shared by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

"Let's go live someplace bloggable — blog some new place."

I hear myself say.

It's not a thought I haven't had before, but here's the precise thing I was reading that provoked my exclamation:
It’s a diet fit for a Prince.

Purple reins* on the distressed wood tables at chic restaurants in Portland....
It doesn't have to be Portland, but don't you want your Althouse from Portland? If not Portland, then where? Do you need me to keep monitoring Madison?

Althouse should blog from... free polls


* The writer screwed up her own joke. It should be "Purple reigns." She knew she had to spell it differently from "rain," but she didn't know which way to spell it differently. It really matters when you're doing a pun. If you can't pull it off, rein it in.

"Let me teach you about love, Jesus — tough love!... You need a sustainable pro-business model."

"And you need to give people freedom, Jesus, the freedom to suffer misery and poverty."

So said "Pious Paul of Ryan" in a conversation with Jesus, as imagined by Nicholas Kristof in the NYT.

ADDED: For comparison, here's Dostoyevsky's "Grand Inquisitor."

"The sociological role we play is to suck talent out of small towns and redistribute it to big cities."

Said the college professor, quoted in the NYT op-ed "Why I’m Moving Home." The op-ed is by J.D. Vance (author of "Hillbilly Elegy").
For two years, I’d lived in Silicon Valley, surrounded by other highly educated transplants with seemingly perfect lives. It’s jarring to live in a world where every person feels his life will only get better when you came from a world where many rightfully believe that things have become worse. And I’ve suspected that this optimism blinds many in Silicon Valley to the real struggles in other parts of the country. So I decided to move home, to Ohio....

"Selfie of white joggers in African American neighborhood sets off debate, and quest for understanding."

L.A. Times headline.
For some blacks, the photo was a symbol of how they were losing clout in the neighborhood amid rising home values....

Los Angeles’ African American population has been declining for more than two decades. Latinos now make up the majority in many working-class South L.A. neighborhoods. Leimert Park, nestled at the foot of the Baldwin Hills, has long been home to many of L.A’s African American elites. It’s seeing big changes, with two new light rail lines running through and interest from whites priced out of neighborhoods to the north.

“It’s almost like Leimert Park is the last battleground,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. “It’s the last piece of turf that African Americans can really call and really feel is their home. At this point in time, it’s being encroached upon.”...

"The designation between house and home – is it semantics or is there a difference."

"Can I as 'the architect' influence the difference one way or another?" Is it all up to the people who move into the structure? Is modern-style architecture impairing their progress from house to home?
Too often modern houses appear sterile, inhuman – certainly not child friendly – and devoid of personality despite the fact that modern homes were originally supposed to make life easier to live.
Ah! But why is the architect (Bob Borson) assuming that ease of living is what makes the place feel like a home? Maybe complexity and difficulty is more human.

Me, I love the modern style and wish we lived in a much more pared down, visually uncluttered, sleek space. I think the people who live in the space are the containers of the warmth and life that feels like home. I don't need the structure to do that to me. I'd like the structure to back off. Give me space.

"When the Queen dies... a footman in mourning clothes will emerge from a door at Buckingham Palace, cross the dull pink gravel and pin a black-edged notice to the gates."

"While he does this, the palace website will be transformed into a sombre, single page, showing the same text on a dark background...."
Britain’s commercial radio stations have a network of blue “obit lights”, which is tested once a week and supposed to light up in the event of a national catastrophe. When the news breaks, these lights will start flashing, to alert DJs to switch to the news in the next few minutes and to play inoffensive music in the meantime. Every station, down to hospital radio, has prepared music lists made up of “Mood 2” (sad) or “Mood 1” (saddest) songs to reach for in times of sudden mourning. “If you ever hear Haunted Dancehall (Nursery Remix) by Sabres of Paradise on daytime Radio 1, turn the TV on,” wrote Chris Price, a BBC radio producer, for the Huffington Post in 2011. “Something terrible has just happened.”

March 15, 2017

"A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump's new travel ban on Wednesday afternoon, hours before the ban was set to go into effect."

CNN reports.

Trump teases "Does that sound familiar to you?" as he praises Andrew Jackson for confronting "an arrogant elite."

Here, I've clipped out the precise moment.

That's Trump, appearing today at The Hermitage, marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of Andrew Jackson.

"Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) introduced the [Man's Right to Know Act], formally entitled 'An act relating to the regulation of men ’s health and safety; creating a civil penalty for unregulated masturbatory emissions'..."

"... to state legislature on Friday.... In this case, instances of 'unregulated emissions' by men, which warrant a $100 fine under the proposed health act, would be those outside of 'occasional masturbatory emissions inside health care and medical facilities,' which—thanks to modern preservation techniques—could reportedly prevent men from committing 'an act against an unborn child [and] failing to preserve the sanctity of life.'... [T] he act would also require that doctors greater involve themselves, and a wealth of explicit information (with pamp[h]lets), in men's personal medical decisions. Meanwhile, '[Patient consent] to an elective vasectomy or colonoscopy procedure, or a prescription of Viagra, is [considered] voluntary and informed only if at least 24 hours have passed since the initial health care consultation for the procedure or prescription.'"

Forbes reports, helpfully informing us that Farrar intends the act as "protest" and "satire."

If you think that legislators shouldn't introduce bills that would violate constitutional rights, then her response would obviously be that abortion bills that violate rights are introduced (and passed!) quite frequently, so if it's wrong, let's everyone stop.

"With their swollen toe boxes and jouncy heels, they have the look of water beetles or licorice jelly beans."

"I’ve come to not just tolerate Dansko clogs, but actually consider them beautiful — a kind of appreciation usually reserved for natural objects like pine cones or elk antlers. Dansko clogs have a tool-like utility; if the Whole Earth Catalog were still around, surely it would stock them. I truly believe that the Museum of Modern Art should acquire a pair for its permanent collection."

Nice to find an article about Dansko clogs in the NYT Style Magazine.

The author, Alice Gregory, has had 6 pairs of Dansko clogs in a period of 15 years.

I discovered Dansko clogs just about as soon as they came out, which was in 1990. I still have the original pair — in sand-colored suede — and almost my other pairs, which would be difficult to count. Let's see... I think 16 — with 4 no longer in rotation.

I can get extremely brand-loyal when it comes to clothes. In the early 90s, I became an devotee of the clothing brand CP Shades, and I first saw Dansko clogs at a CP Shades store in Chicago. The saleswoman said they'd never carried any shoes before, and now, for the first time, there was a shoe that belonged with their clothes. That's how I got hooked.

Here'sa link to buy Dansko shoes at Amazon.

These shoes are great for: 1. standing, and 2. kicking off and slipping back into. So they work extremely well if you have a job where you don't really walk that much but you do stand and sit a lot and you like to get your shoes off when you sit.

At the Ultramarine Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(The photo is from Zion National Park. I didn't include it in my "colors of Zion" post this morning because the blueness of the sky threw all the other colors off.)

(Please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal if you've got some shopping to do.)

"That’s the mistake we all make, isn’t it? Believing that being a writer means being, you know, totally and utterly uninterrupted—it means silence, it means, you know, a room of one’s own."

"No, no. That’s bullshit. That’s what we perceive a male writer to have. And that can lead to horrible solipsism and disconnection from humanity. I’m not naming names, never naming names... Martin Amis, Woody Allen, Saul Bellow."

Lines delivered by Tracey Ullman (as a writer named Ode Montgomery) in the "Painful Evacuation" episode of "Girls." I wish I had video of this scene — a little vignette that precedes the credits. It's all we see of Ullman, but I kept pausing and rewinding and rewatching it bit by bit. I was exclaiming: "This is the best performance I have ever seen on television." The lines were good and Lena Dunham — interviewing Ullman's character — was doing a fine supporting role, but Ullman was so funny (and dramatic) and doing so much in such a short time that I was in total awe.

I cut and pasted the line from a piece in Tablet by Miranda Cooper "On ‘Girls,’ Narcissism and Jewish Writers/Hannah gets some unexpected news, Woody Allen and Saul Bellow get name dropped, and Ray confronts his own mortality."

What more could a Jewish-American-literature obsessed recapper ask for? Casting aside Amis, a self-professed philosemite, the fact that Montgomery’s list of self-centered writers is all Jewish is like manna from the HBO heavens.

Interestingly, Allen and Bellow have also been often compared to Philip Roth, who held much of last week’s episode’s attention. Allen even had a not-so-subtle cameo in the form of a photo on the wall in fictional writer Chuck Palmer’s study: a brilliant sight gag in an episode about writers abusing their fame and privilege. As with Roth, these are more than casual name drops. Girls is setting up an old guard of male Jewish American writers with whom Hannah must contend. Is being a writer as a woman really as hard as it seems, Hannah asks? Harder, Montgomery confirms.
By the way, if you don't actually watch this show, don't assume you know what it is like. The first 2 episodes of the new season have been phenomenal, and last season was great. Please don't clutter the comments with things you've been repeating about Lena Dunham for years. To do that is to flaunt that you do not know what you are talking about. Anyone who thinks the show is doctrinaire feminism and female narcissism is making it obvious that he doesn't know what he is talking about. 

The colors of Zion.







The Riverside Walk in Zion National Park, March 1, 2017.

"My real life punched through the fake cover I had created on television."

Said Robert E. Kelly, the "BBC dad."
He expressed some concern about all the attention his family had received, saying, “We have been buried in phone calls.” And he denied any intention of cashing in on his newfound fame, saying that “it would be unseemly to monetize” something involving his children.

"The new Mother Divine was white, and although the Peace Mission regarded the idea of race as sinful..."

"... nearly three-quarters of the membership was black, and the sudden appearance of a white replacement came as a shock to the Peace Mission and to the black news media."

The last sentence of the NYT obituary "Mother Divine, Who Took Over Her Husband’s Cult, Dies at 91."

Utah names Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty" its Official State Work of Art.

The NYT reports.

Ah, no. Wait. The headline is a bit deceptive: "‘Spiral Jetty’ Is Named an Official State Work of Art by Utah." Note the "an." It's not the official state work of art.
The great American sculptor Robert Smithson... would undoubtedly have been pleased with a vote by the Utah Senate and the Utah House of Representatives to designate as official state works of art both his masterpiece — “Spiral Jetty,” the huge curlicue of black basalt rock he built in 1970, jutting into the Great Salt Lake in rural Utah — and the state’s plentiful ancient rock art, petroglyphs and pictographs that have been widely celebrated and studied.
That's a lot of works of art! All the petroglyphs and pictographs are included. They've got one modern, monumental thing keeping company with innumerable ancient rather small things. Why designate at all if you can't choose? This is the kind of everybody-gets-a-trophy attitude that is ruining this country.

"What a nosedive! And he couldn't care less."

"Barack Obama spotted in Hawaii... CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that Michelle Obama had also been spotted in Hawaii."

Politico changes its spots.

It begins!

"O'Malley tests 2020 waters with Iowa poll."

I am all a-twitter.

Thanks for using my "Tunnels" post to say whatever you had to say about the to-do about Donald Trump's 2005 tax return.

It's of some interest, but it was horrific hearing Rachel Maddow exaggerate everything. I was averting my eyes, but Meade had some video on and I kept thinking it would end so it wasn't worth the trouble to go in search of earplugs.

I'll give you one link: Chris Cillizza, "This 2005 Donald Trump tax return is a total nothingburger."
[B]ecause of Trump's refusal to release his tax returns, there has long been speculation that he may not have paid any taxes from the mid-1990s — when we know he reported more than $900 million in losses on his tax returns — until the mid-2000s. (For much more on that, check this out.)

The 2005 tax return shows that the latter supposition is simply not true. Trump paid $38 million in taxes, not $0. And the return also suggests that Trump, as he said, did what he could to lower his tax burden. He paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent, far below the top tax bracket — 35 percent — for individuals at that time.

In short: We didn't learn anything we don't already know about Trump. Yes, he is very wealthy. Yes, he — like virtually all very wealthy people — looks for holes in the tax code to lower his overall taxable income.
Now, wait. We did learn something we didn't already know: The "speculation that he may not have paid any taxes from the mid-1990s" is false. This is a big pro-Trump data point. Maybe all those other years are different and the 2005 return was leaked by pro-Trump forces. But it's the data point we've got, and speculation now will be that Trump paid his taxes in the normal way: using the tax code as it is written to take advantage of the incentives and breaks and paying what the law said he owed.

These are not "holes" in the code. The code is deliberately written by human beings who are trying to achieve something, and these people should be held responsible for what they have done. "Looking for holes" makes the taxpayer sound like the agent of unfairness.

March 14, 2017




Entering Zion National Park on March 1st.

"What Is the Most Significant Fad of All Time?"

Some excellent answers at this link (and one dumb one), but come up with your own answer before getting your channels of memory blocked up by seeing other people's answers. And don't read the next paragraph until you've done your own thinking.

One problem is defining "fad" — and that's complicated by seeing the word significant. It seems to me that a "fad" ought to be sort of insignificant. Otherwise the answer could be: War. Or: Religion. Or: Romantic love. If you take a narrow view of "fad" and restrict the category to things that really don't matter, you may go straight to the obvious American answers: the hula hoop, pet rocks, Cabbage Patch Dolls. I think it would be best to get somewhere in the middle, like 2 of the answers at the link: cigarettes and rock and roll.

Here's the OED definition for fad: "A crotchety rule of action; a peculiar notion as to the right way of doing something; a pet project, esp. of social or political reform, to which exaggerated importance is attributed; in wider sense, a crotchet, hobby, ‘craze.'" Hmm. Seems to exclude the things I put in the narrowest definition.

Another sign in Orderville.

A reader sends this image from an old postcard:


Climbing a frozen waterfall in Switzerland....

... with no experience but a trusty guide.

"Yes, it's an old motel sign. It doesn't fit the style of the grocery store, so I assumed they knocked down something else and saved the sign."

Writes the great James Lileks in the comments to my "square look at signs" post, which had my photo of this interesting sign with bland words on an exciting red shape I found in Orderville, Utah:


Lileks adds: "Voila! The sign in all its original beauty, here." And this is what he found:

Beautiful! I just love that the motel turned out to say Orderville.

"The first thing Sam calmly said to me when he picked up the phone was, 'Dad, don’t freak out, but mom’s been in an accident...'"

"'...and she’s in a helicopter being flown off the mountain.' The mountain, that is, that she had basically fallen off."
... Imagine this for a minute: I was in India staring at the Ganges River, getting bits and pieces of information from friends and family in the United States [in Utah], about my wife who was in a helicopter being flown off a big mountain to a hospital in New Zealand, where we are living for the year. You couldn’t pick three other points on the globe that were much farther apart....

And, as my mind drifted to the worst-case situation, the vast majority of the thoughts I had boiled down to regrets. I wish I had spent more time with her. I wish I had hugged her more. I wish we had gone for more hikes together....

Over the following weeks, as it became clear my wife was going to be O.K., my thoughts started to shift from the regrets I would have had at the end of her life to what regrets I might have at the end of my own. “I bet I’ll wish I spent more time with my family,” I thought. That I did more climbs in the Tetons....
Interesting reading this right after returning from spending 2 weeks hiking with Meade in Utah (and Death Valley). I guess we were doing the right thing, but what most resonates with me is: falling off a mountain. I have a fear of falling off a mountain, and sometimes I faced it down and continued, and 2 times — at the Red Cathedral and Dante's View in Death Valley — I stopped and had Meade go on without me as I waited in a safer place. I'm not sure which direction I'm motivated to lean — going up more mountains or getting more closely attached to my belief that you can fall off a mountain.

What Meade saw at Dante's View:


What I saw:


"And so it begins. With the Dutch election on Wednesday, Europe embarks on a yearlong test of how far it’s ready to realign itself..."

"... as an anti-immigrant, pro-Russian continent marked by ascendant nationalism, alt-Right intolerance and the fragmentation of the European Union. The worst could happen. Nobody who has watched the British decision to quit the European Union in a strange little-England huff, or the election of Donald Trump with his 'America First' anti-Muslim jingoism, can think otherwise. The liberal order has lost its center of gravity. People without memory are on the march. They have no time for the free world if the free world means mingling and migration...."

From Roger Cohen (in the NYT).

"Lawsuit alleges Metro State Denver enabled a professor to retaliate against faculty members who complained that he was repeatedly seen masturbating in his office."

Headline at Inside Higher Ed.

I wonder what the real facts are here. How do you manage to see somebody masturbating in his office? It seems like an invasion of privacy. Was there an exhibitionist aspect to this, leaving a door open? I don't get it. The allegations seem fishy on their face. (By the way, there's a picture at the link of the accused professor holding up a large fish. Was that an Inside Higher Ed effort at phallic metaphor?)

What are the ethics about sexual experiences inside private offices? And, more relevant here, when does one person's sexual gratification create a "sexually hostile work environment" and a valid claim of employment discrimination?

It's obviously in bad taste to let anyone know you are having sex — alone or with someone else — in your office. But if you are in your own space, behind a closed door, and somebody else happens to walk in on you, shouldn't that person immediately leave and act is if the intrusion never happened? At worst, the intruder should quickly apologize, get out, and say no more.

Have you ever had sex in your office? free polls

ADDED: I see the need for a second poll:

Have you ever had sex in someone else's office? free polls

"Ah, but I was so much older then I'm younger than that now."

Not sure when and where this was, but one commenter at YouTube says The Target Center, Minneapolis, MN. October 23rd, 1998. If that's true, then Meade is wrong saying he feels that he saw this performance (in Indianapolis).

Dennis Kucinich: "I have never gone public with this story, but when I saw the derision with which President Trump’s claims were greeted—and notwithstanding our political differences—I felt I should share my experience."

"... I can vouch for the fact that extracurricular surveillance does occur, regardless of whether it is officially approved. I was wiretapped in 2011 after taking a phone call in my congressional office from a foreign leader."

"Bharara’s refusal to resign wasn’t about the assertion of any sort of constitutional principle, or rule-of-law value."

"In fact, a respect for the rule of law would have required him to treat the chief executive’s legitimate powers with respect. But — and I want to be clear here — Bharara’s refusal to resign wasn’t about principle. It was about putting himself publicly on the side of anti-Trump Democrats, no doubt in the expectation of future rewards, political or professional. It was not a brave act. It was, in fact, a species of corruption. A prosecutor so willing to disrespect the constitutional chain of command for petty personal reasons is one who’s not fit to wield the enormous power that federal prosecutors possess."

Writes Glenn Reynolds (who also criticizes Bharara for "subpoena[ing] Reason Magazine for the names of commenters who had made over-the-top (but not actionable) comments about a federal judge Bharara practiced before — and then bann[ing] Reason from publicizing the subpoena by subjecting them to a gag order").

Defining "BREAKING NEWS" down.

Maybe USA Today also has a live feed where I can watch ice melt. I've heard that's very exciting.

A square look at signs.

Here's yesterday's discussion of the square format in photography. I'm shuffling through the mass of photographs from our trip. I posted a few along the way as we traveled across the country and back over the last 2 weeks, but I've got many left to pick through. I'm doing a bit of that now and experimenting with cropping to a square composition.

Here are 3 that Meade stopped the car for me to take. I love roadside signs and have missed so many over the years as I've thought of stopping but barreled past anyway. But I've gotten better at seeing how important these opportunities are — much more important than big landmarks like the Delicate Arch, which are pointed out for you and photographed so often. These roadside sights are something you find for yourself. The idea that this can be a photograph is your idea. And Meade has been a great companion, who not only does nearly all the driving and drives with professional care but who turns my idea that this could be a photograph into an actual stop and who also often has the idea that this is a photograph.

Here's something we stopped for in Orderville, Utah:


I love how generic and inclusive that big sign is. And I'm fascinated by the wacky jumble of points on the red shape. Is it Googie? Anyway, I love the contrast between the complicated, exciting red structure and the simple, bland words. But it wasn't that sign that caused the stop. It was that little yellow sign. "Buffalo Elk Gator Jerky":


It was Meade who spotted that sign and insisted that we stop and I take a picture of it. It's only as I process the photo now that I see that the requisite potshots have been taken at it. I pause to Google why do people shoot at signs? and find "The Dangers and Costs of Sign Shooting" at Outdoorhub. I'm shooting the sign myself, of course, but I don't leave my impression in Orderville. I put it here on the blog.

Now, I wasn't even sure this picture was from Utah, and I don't know if I ever knew we passed through a place named Orderville. I know it's Orderville because I swiveled around and took a shot at "Food & Drug" and saw that it did have a less than completely generic name: Terry's.


I found a Yelp review — one review, 5 stars — for Terry's Food & Drug — "Small town service for a small town" — and that's where I see this is Orderville.

Orderville. We didn't explore. We only stopped for some signs that charmed us, transitorily. I muse about the motives to name a town Orderville. I think of law and order. But that's the kind of thinking of a person who blows through town and takes in the surfaces. Gator jerky! A Sinclair sign! Numbers painted on the rocks! But Orderville is something else:

"The implicit standard in analysis of the health insurance system is that every consumer must have government-selected coverage. But why?"

"This chosen paradigm doesn't take into consideration the most forceful motivation of human behavior, namely, whether a large expenditure of limited resources is in one's economic interest. This standard of 'universal coverage' is as artificial as the government's bloated health care costs. A young person with minimal health expenses is well served not to purchase one of these government-created insurance policies: their yearly medical expenses do not exceed the cost of their premiums and deductibles. With the rate Obamacare costs are skyrocketing, that pool isn't just confined to young people anymore. If an individual or family has to fork out tens of thousands of dollars before seeing health care benefits, what's the point? Why not save that money and when services are needed, pay directly to the care providers?"

Good questions asked by Liz Sheld at PJ Media.

I don't know what the answers are, but I'm suspicious of mainstream media for obscuring these questions, which were also obscured when Obamacare was passed. Healthy young people who'd been choosing not to buy insurance were needed in the pool, paying premiums, to make it possible for companies to be forced to take in and keep customers with pre-existing conditions. The pro-Obamacare propaganda continually presented insurance coverage as an end in itself, as if the individual is better off with insurance. But really the idea was more that the entire system of financing health care with private insurance companies is better off if more people participate — especially more people who don't have high current expenses — that is, the kind of people who, left to their own devices, are most likely to prefer to use their money to buy something other than insurance they don't think they're going to use.

It's a difficult scheme, and to pull it off, it seems that people need to be fooled. The key to the fooling — I think — is to speak in terms of how many people are "covered," not in terms of how many people are better off. Right now, it seems that many of the people who have coverage pay a lot of money for something they can't use. If they are not better off in that position, why are we supposed to feel bad if they get a reprieve from needing to pay a lot of money for something that has no value to them? I think the secret answer is: Because insurance companies need that money to keep paying the bills for the customers who do have expensive conditions, the people who are happy to get to pay premiums because they get back more than they put in.

I wish we could speak clearly and honestly about the real problems. I find the complexity — confused by partisan propaganda — horrible. And I am not dealing with a struggle to pay premiums or any serious health problems. I do not see how most people can be expected to engage with these issues other than to gravitate toward the propaganda of one side or the other and be scared.

March 13, 2017

The problem of taking a square photograph — Does it now mean Instagram?

There's a lot going on in "Catherine Opie, All-American Subversive/Her photographs range from the marginal to the mainstream, capturing things that are invisible to the rest of us" by Ariel Levy in The New Yorker — including some photographs with nudity — but I was interested in this brief snippet describing the conversation at an art-school critique:
One student presented a moody, grainy image of sprinkler droplets whirling through the sky above blades of grass. “They look like they’re disrupting the environment—even the paper itself,” a young man in an orange sweatshirt said. “I think your images have a lot of phenomenological availability, and I am really in admiration.”

The next picture—a shot of the sea with a landmass in the background, taken from the window of an airplane—was received with less enthusiasm. People accused the photographer, a young man with dirty, bleached hair wearing a sweatshirt that said “Violent Femme,” of following the mores of Instagram.

Another student, defending him, asked, “Wait, does every square now mean Instagram?”

“It shouldn’t, it shouldn’t,” Opie told them, shaking her head emphatically. “The square came before Instagram—it’s called Hasselblad!” (In her own work, Opie eschewed the square for years, to avoid invoking Robert Mapplethorpe, her predecessor in exalting erotic deviance through photography.)
Here's an article on the square composition in photography. Excerpt:
I have been quite fascinated with the square-format in street photography for a while... There was something quite sexy about the 6×6 format– the way that it created perfect balance in the frame, the simplicity, as well as the novelty.

Of course as Instagram has become insanely popular– the square-format just looks like an “Instagram shot.” I have heard of Instagram as “ruining” the 6×6 format (medium-format film)....
This is a problem I've never thought about. I always avoid the square format, even though back in my painting days, I liked 3'x3' canvases. I never became enamored of Hasselblads or Instagram and hadn't even noticed these used square formats. Maybe I'll set my camera to the square format and see what happens. Other than that it would make it easier to do a closeup of something round, like a flower, I would think that the same instinct for composition would cause me to use whatever space is available within the frame. But that wouldn't take into account the effect on the viewer, and apparently squares these days import a lot of static from the world of Instagram.

"Those who wanted the event to take place made eye contact with me. Those intent on disrupting it steadfastly refused to do so."

"They couldn’t look at me directly, because if they had, they would have seen another human being," writes Allison Stanger, the professor who brought Charles Murray to Middlebury College to speak.
Students were chanting, “Who is the enemy? White supremacy,” and “Racist, sexist, anti-gay: Charles Murray, go away!”...

Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray, but when I took his right arm to shield him and to make sure we stayed together, the crowd turned on me. 
Stanger makes it clear that she is a Democrat, she disagrees with Murray, and the students knew that.
Someone pulled my hair, while others were shoving me. I feared for my life. Once we got into the car, protesters climbed on it, hitting the windows and rocking the vehicle whenever we stopped to avoid harming them. I am still wearing a neck brace, and spent a week in a dark room to recover from a concussion caused by the whiplash.
Stanger tries to reach out to the student protesters:
[W]ith time to reflect, I have to say that I hear and understand the righteous anger of many of those who shouted us down. I know that many students felt they were standing up to protect marginalized people who have been demeaned or even threatened under the guise of free speech.

But for us to engage with one another as fellow human beings — even on issues where we passionately disagree — we need reason, not just emotions. Middlebury students could have learned from identifying flawed assumptions or logical shortcomings in Dr. Murray’s arguments....

There is no excusing what happened at Middlebury, and those who prevented Charles Murray from speaking must be punished for violating college rules. But what the events at Middlebury made clear is that, regardless of political persuasion, Americans today are deeply susceptible to a renunciation of reason and celebration of ignorance. 
The "events" at Middlebury showed left-wing students resorting to violence and refusing to listen to the other side. I don't see how they make anything "clear" about right-wingers. Sanger seems to be sweeping them in too because it's conciliatory. But how is that embracing reason? It seems to me that what we've been seeing — at least at Middlebury and Berkeley — is that the left has a problem with violence and with hostility to freedom of speech. 

The author of "You May Want to Marry My Husband" has died.

Here's the NYT obituary.

Here's where we talked about "You May Want to Marry My Husband" (10 days ago). I said:
An excellent title for an excellent essay (in the NYT) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. AKR is an author who is dying of ovarian cancer after 26 years of marriage to a man she finds a bright, humorous way to tell us about.

Number of cars seen in the ditch as we drove this morning from Newton, Iowa to Dubuque: 28!

But we crossed the Mississippi and entered the snowy, rolling hills of Wisconsin, and we made it home to Madison, blissfully intact.

The indoor temperature upon arrival: 47° (which is where I set it). Now, I'm filling up a hot bath to heat up while I wait for the furnace and the boiler to get us back to our toasty normal of 62°, and I'm enjoying my first encounter with a desktop computer after 16 days of using a laptop. We got a wide view of the country, out and about driving (and walking) through 8 states, but the desktop screen is twice as big as the laptop's, so this is a nice view as well.

Back to more normal blogging (plus many photographs to shuffle through). Thanks for carrying on without me.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do..."

"... and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, quoted in "Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming." That's at WaPo, which counters Pruitt with this quote from Gina McCarthy, the previous EPA Administrator:
"The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs.... When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.”
The McCarthy quote actually doesn't disagree with anything Pruitt said. It just models a different attitude toward the science.

WaPo chooses to forefront the anger against Pruitt. What's the journalistic theory there? I'm headed back out on the road, so I'll just give this my "emotional politics" tag and throw the discussion over to you.

IN THE COMMENTS: Many noticed what I noticed and didn't have time to say: The 2 sentences spoken by McCarthy look ridiculous side by side. They're not necessarily inconsistent. But sentence #2 cannot be taken to be within the "world of science" that's "about empirical evidence, not beliefs." However "robust and overwhelmingly clear" the evidence is, the acceptability of the cost of inaction is a matter for political debate.

Paul Zrimsek made the point first, asking snarkily:
In what units do scientists measure unacceptability?
Lewis Wetzel said:
"... evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.”

These are opinions. Being derived from "empirical evidence" does not make them statements of fact. No one can tell you with certainty what inaction will cost or what action will cost.
Ignorance is Bliss said...
The costs of climate change (and the costs of avoiding climate change) are questions science can attempt to answer.

Whether those costs are acceptable is not.
Drago quotes Paul Zrimsek's question and says:
There are multiple scales. For instance, it appears that Pruitt's comments come in at -57P (Pelosi units) for acceptability which is equivalent to -249WMOMJ (We Miss Obama: MSM "Journolists" Units).
These scales are subject to historical revisionism, altering of baselines, modifications based on public perceptions and political needs of the day, expunging of "inconvenient truths", etc.
Many more comments. Those are just a few of the early ones.

By the way, I thought it was funny that WaPo wanted both to stress the solidity and seriousness of science while making the main news about how terribly angry some people are. WaPo seems to want public emotion to drive policy but still seems to expect us to soberly submit to the pronouncements of scientists because they are scientists (even when they, like McCarthy, show us outright that they blend policy opinion into their science).

"Trump budget expected to seek historic contraction of federal workforce."

WaPo reports.
Aides say that the president sees a new Washington emerging from the budget process, one that prioritizes the military and homeland security while slashing many other areas, including housing, foreign assistance, environmental programs, public broadcasting and research. Simply put, government would be smaller and less involved in regulating life in America, with private companies and states playing a much bigger role....

Trump and his advisers have said that they believe the federal workforce is too big, and that the federal government spends — and wastes — too much money. They have said that Washington — the federal workers and contractors, among others — has benefited from government largesse while many other Americans have suffered. Federal spending, they have argued, crowds the private sector and piles regulations and bureaucracy onto companies.

We tried to make it home from Denver in one day, but Nature had other ideas.

Sure, we could have plugged on. Many others did, and this morning I counted 15 cars in the ditch as we drove about 55 miles from the Days Inn in Newton, Iowa — where we holed up to escape the treacherous I-80 — to this McDonald’s where I’m getting some black coffee and very slow wifi. I’d hang out and blog some more for you while the snow falls and Meade reminds me that he’d wanted to stay 2 more days in Moab, but… bad wifi. What can I do? I trusted McDonald’s to give me the basics: coffee, an egg biscuit, and good wifi. But this is a trifle. We could be in a ditch.

But I did get a few tabs to open before timing out, so let me give you a few ideas of things to talk about while Meade and I work our way back home:

1. "'My vulva cupcakes were confiscated' - a day in the life of an anti-FGM campaigner" (in The Guardian).
I grew up in the UK as part of the Somali diaspora, and I’d assumed the people of Jijiga would not be ready for vulva cupcakes. But Abdi, also part of the diaspora, reassured me that the Ethiopian women had requested them. “Leyla, they watched the documentary and loved the concept of using art for campaigning,” she said.
2. "Is Trump Trolling the White House Press Corps?/At daily briefings, Sean Spicer calls on young journalists from far-right sites. The mainstream media sees them as an existential threat" (in The New Yorker).
Until recently, the more established White House correspondents have regarded floaters as a harmless distraction—the equivalent of letting a batboy sit in the dugout. Now they are starting to see the floaters as an existential threat. “It’s becoming a form of court-packing,” one White House correspondent told me. Outlets that have become newly visible under the Trump Administration include One America News Network, which was founded in 2013 as a right-wing alternative to Fox News; LifeZette, a Web tabloid founded in 2015 by Laura Ingraham, the radio commentator and Trump ally; Townhall, a conservative blog started by the Heritage Foundation; the Daily Caller, co-founded in 2010 by Tucker Carlson, now a Fox News host; and the enormously popular and openly pro-Trump Breitbart News Network. Most of the White House correspondents from these outlets are younger than thirty. “At best, they don’t know what they’re doing,” a radio correspondent told me....
3. This looks like it might be good, but the wifi won't pull it in for me. The headline, at McClatchy, is "Trump is doing what Obama didn’t do: reach out and listen." And here's something that Kellyanne Conway said about the surveillance of the Trump campaign. And Sean Spicer got accosted at an Apple store and asked "how it feels to work for a fascist?" I'm just guessing those 3 things would be bloggable. Enough performance of my frustration with slow wifi. Time to get back on the Interstate, which will also be slow, by choice, and with all frustration suppressed as we diligently eschew the ditch.

UPDATE: WiFi reprieve! I'm in the car, parked at an I-80 rest stop. One thing I love about Iowa. Great rest stops.

March 12, 2017

The Delicate Arch.



These 2 photos are from Friday in Arches National Park, where the first thing we did was to take the big hike up to the most famous arch. I put up some of my other arch photos first. There are 3 reasons for that:

1. It's too famous. Makes the photo seem like a cliché. This is the arch on the Utah license plates. It's Arches National Park, not Arch National Park. I wanted to show you some other arches — hence the earlier posts with Sand Arch and Broken Arch.

2. It was brilliant midday light, not the best for photographs. We'd gotten there sort of early, but the hike took a while, so I wasn't that enthusiastic about the photo op. I am proud of myself for making the hike, which was tough and scary in places, but that's nothing to show you in a post.

3. It was kind of a Disneyland up there. So many people, lots of kids, lots of posing under the arch. I'd have liked a more pristine encounter with nature. This was more of a party atmosphere. That's fine, and I congratulate all the people who got up there with little kids... and the kids too if they did their own walking. There are a lot of people who are really game when it comes to taking the family on a strenuous hike. So many babies in backpacks. So many toddlers who walked part way and then had an adult willing to carry them. It's really nice, but it's not something I photograph.

"God or the universe or whatever one chooses to label the great systems of balance and order does not recognize Earth-time."

"To the universe four days is no different than four billion light-years."

Art or literature or whatever one chooses to label the great systems of taste and reason does not recognize best-sellerism. And light year measure distance, not time. But lots of people thrill to writing like "The Bridges of Madison County," whose author Robert James Waller, has died.

"I am the highway and a peregrine and all the sails that ever went to sea."

Fly on, good peregrine!

"Before the calls, we were advised to keep conversations short because, we were told, Trump will not be interested in the details of the call and does not have a long attention span..."

"... so it would be pointless to have a long call. However, we were pleasantly surprised at how much time President Trump spent asking very informed questions. The first time the presidents spoke, the questions Trump asked impressed us. 'How can you win in this fight [against terrorism]?' he asked. 'What do you need to become financially independent?' and 'How can American business invest in Afghanistan? How can we develop businesses and mining in your country?' Trump would listen intently after each question, often asking follow-ups. Trump's second call with our president was even longer than the first. Asking these types of questions for our country is something the Obama administration never did. The Obama administration was the most academic administration we have ever had to deal with but the Trump administration has been the most thoughtful and intelligent."

From "I Had Dinner With the Afghan Ambassador. What He Said About the Differences Between Trump, Obama Is Stunning" in Independent Business Review.

ADDED: Interesting to think about the contrast between "academic" and "thoughtful and intelligent." The ambassador seems to set them up almost as opposites.

Somewhere in Iowa.

We thought we could make the big leap home from Denver in one day, but the weather got a little pesky. It wouldn't have been so bad if other drivers all slowed down, but an awful lot of people seem to go on the theory that if I'm not using my brakes right now, the capacity to brake is irrelevant. We found an exit with 3 motels and picked the nicest looking of the lot, a Days Inn. In my opinion, it's great. Quiet. Clean. And the wifi works.

At the Posing-Like-a-Petroglyph Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Only Meade and I were at Broken Arch (in Arches National Park) just before sundown 2 days ago, so his standing under the arch wasn't intruding on anyone else's photography. I like the way his tiny figure gives the arch grand scale, and I chose the photo where he looked most like one of the pictograms and petroglyphs we'd been seeing in Utah.

We're zooming toward home today, so keep up the conversation.

And consider using the Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Trump Has Radically Transformed the GOP/The party has already given up on five of its core issues."

Writes Shikha Dalmia in Reason.

(I've got exactly the tag for this one: what Trump did to the GOP.)

Not noticing daylight savings.

I'm just noticing that we sprang ahead last night. Using my digital devices for time awareness has made me oblivious to something that used to call for special paying of attention.

And here we are in Colorado, poised to spring forward another hour on the same day as we cross back into the Central Time Zone.

"In the Netherlands, the termination rate for Down babies is between 74% and 94%. In Denmark, the termination rate is 98%. In Iceland, the termination rate is 100%."

From "Abortion Has All But Eliminated Down Syndrome Babies in This Country. One Photographer's Powerful Quest to Fight It."

The percentage in the U.S. is thought to be 67 to 85.

Lots of photos at the link.

Whatever happened to the narrative that a few billionaires control everything?

I'm asking myself this morning as I read "The Future of Politics is Grassroots" in The Hill.

My answer to the question whatever happened to the narrative that a few billionaires control everything is:

One billionaire happened.

“The influx has been too much. The borders should close. If this continues, our culture will cease to exist.”

Says a resident of Amsterdam, quoted in "Anti-immigrant anger threatens to remake the liberal Netherlands" (in WaPo).
In interviews across the Netherlands in recent days, far-right voters expressed stridently nationalist, anti-immigrant views that were long considered fringe but that have now entered the Dutch mainstream.

Voters young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural said they would back the Geert Wilders-led Freedom Party — no longer the preserve of the “left-behinds” — which promises to solve the country’s problems by shutting borders, closing mosques and helping to dismantle the European Union.

"Ruling that Republicans redrew the Texas congressional map to intentionally discriminate against Latino and black voters..."

"... a federal court panel invalidated three districts, including one in Travis County, in an order issued late Friday...."
The 2-1 ruling described a chaotic, hurried process that led to the 2011 congressional maps, redrawn to add four new districts, thanks to the state’s rapid population growth.

It was a time of “strong racial tension and heated debate about Latinos, Spanish-speaking people, undocumented immigration and sanctuary cities, and the contentious voter ID law,” the court said....