April 1, 2017

"Pop Art. I’ve never cared for the term, but after half a century of being described as a Pop artist I’m resigned to it. Still, I don’t know what Pop Art means, to tell you the truth."

Said James Rosenquist, quoted in his NYT obituary. He was 83.
It was while working in New York as a sign painter by day and an abstract painter by night that he had the idea to import the giant-scale, broadly painted representational pictures from outdoor advertising into the realm of fine art.

“Was importing the method into art a bit of a cheap trick?” the critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in The New Yorker in 2003 on the occasion of a ballyhooed retrospective of Mr. Rosenquist’s work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. “So were Warhol’s photo silk-screening and Lichtenstein’s limning of panels from comic strips.

“The goal in all cases,” Mr. Schjeldahl added, “was to fuse painting aesthetics with the semiotics of media-drenched contemporary reality. The naked efficiency of anti-personal artmaking defines classic Pop. It’s as if someone were inviting you to inspect the fist with which he simultaneously punches you.”

"You can’t tear yourself away from the results — especially from the fate of Tyler Goodson, an especially open-hearted and forthcoming subject, who you come to care about deeply..."

"'S-Town' is expertly constructed, by some of the most talented people in the podcast realm. The incidental music is an intriguing combination of strings and handclaps, urging you along, suggesting wistfulness and contemplation; episodes conclude with a lovely Zombies song, 'A Rose for Emily.' In the end, we empathize with almost every character, and find commonalities between them and ourselves. 'S-Town' helps advance the art of audio storytelling, daringly, thoughtfully, and with a journalist’s love of good details and fascinating material—but it also edges us closer to a discomfiting realm of well-intentioned voyeurism on a scale we haven’t quite experienced before. In the past four days, 'S-Town' has exceeded ten million downloads. Whether the Internet and an audience of millions will share the show’s sensitivity toward its subjects remains to be seen."

Writes Sarah Larson in The New Yorker.

You can listen to the series here. I've listened through the whole series once and am an hour away from hearing it all twice. I've thought a lot about what will happen to Tyler. It seems inevitable that less scrupulous people than the "This American Life" team will find him and want to use him for purposes that he may not competently evaluate. He's a young man and — you won't learn this listening to the podcast — unusually good looking. I can't believe there won't be offers to participate in filming a reality show. Wouldn't people love to see that house he's built out of scraps and wisteria vines and a horse trough? Wouldn't people love to hear him talk with Uncle Jimmy shouting "Goddam right!" and "Yes suh!" in the background? What is "This American Life" doing to protect him? What can they do? What should they do?

ADDED: As for the incidental music of strings and handclaps... listen closely to the difference in the music at about 36 minutes into Episode IV V, right after Cousin Rita says "Cut his nipples off — he's dead." The percussion becomes a snippy-snappy sound that — to my ear — was made with some sort of metallic clippers or loppers. [Sorry I had Episode IV, but it's Episode V. And I would begin a bit before minute 36 to hear Rita. The music I'm talking about begins around minute 37.]

Overheard snippet — a 9-year-old boy seemingly opining on the secret of happiness.

"... those times in your life that are not awesome. That's the secret to happiness."

Trump is down to the last month of his first 100 days.

How do you think he's doing?

To get you started, I'll just copy some dialogue I indulged in in the comments to an earlier post this morning:
David Begley said:
Trump has accomplished more POSITIVE things in less than 100 days than Obama did in 8 long years.
I reacted to that:
I like the way Trump has accomplished NEGATIVE things.

Less doing. More nothing. That's what I want.

I give him credit for what he has NOT done. Where are the big bungles? He DIDN'T get that health thing done. That was good, no? Nothing military has happened. No foreign affairs blowups. Etc.
David Begley said:
Item one: Trump has begun to tear down the CAGW scam. That single positive thing will save billions.
I Althouse reacted to that:
Notice how that is SUBTRACTIVE and further supports my argument that his accomplishments are NEGATIVE.

"A copy of Lithuania’s lost declaration of independence, drawn up in 1918, has been discovered languishing in a German archive...."

"Lithuania had lost track of all copies of the independence declaration, signed on 16 February 1918, in the turmoil that engulfed the region after the end of the first world war. The Lithuanian state was announced with the approval of Germany, whose army controlled the territory at the time, following a successful offensive against the Russian empire in 1915." 
Lithuania was already planning to mark its 100th anniversary, keen to assert its independence in the face of what it sees as renewed aggression from Russia. Memories are still fresh of Lithuania’s emergence from Soviet occupation in the 1990s.

Why had I never seen this hilarious Trump interview with Connie Chung?

I'm seeing it today because it happened to come up in the sidebar at YouTube. He's 43 in this interview, and Connie Chung is incredibly annoying. Before we see the interview in this video, we see Trump talking about it with Joan Rivers:

"There was a level of unprofessionalism. It was like you're being interviewed by a child."

"Do I get your vote?"

A women's suffrage postcard that I ran across this morning as I was reading about Kewpie Dolls...
Rose O'Neill, a Midwest native who had worked as a writer and illustrator in New York City, initially conceptualized the Kewpie as a cartoon intended for a comic strip in 1909. According to O'Neill, the idea for the Kewpies came to her in a dream. The comic, featuring the cherub-faced characters, was first printed in Ladies' Home Journal in the December 1909 issue. O'Neill described the characters as "a sort of little round fairy whose one idea is to teach people to be merry and kind at the same time." Their name, often shortened to Kewpies, derives from Cupid, the Roman god of erotic love.] After the characters gained popularity among both adults and children, O'Neill began illustrating paper dolls of them, called Kewpie Kutouts.
... my interest arising out of a clue in an old acrostic puzzle: "Doll named for a love deity." I'd never noticed the Kewpie/Cupid connection.

"I was in shock; I’m still in shock. I’m over here like, dang, I just won the game."

Said Morgan William, who ended UConn's 111-game winning streak.
The winning shot for Mississippi State was a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer by the smallest player on the court, the 5-foot-5-inch point guard Morgan William. With 26.6 seconds left in overtime, UConn had tied the game at 64-64 on a pair of free throws by Katie Lou Samuelson after a flagrant foul for elbowing was called on Mississippi State’s Dominique Dillingham.

UConn kept possession but fumbled a chance to win when Saniya Chong became rushed and put up an awkward shot with 12.3 seconds remaining, trying to draw a foul. Instead, she turned the ball over.

Mississippi State called a timeout, and in its huddle Coach Vic Schaefer looked at William and said, “Mo, you’re about to win the game.”
This is not an April Fool's thing:

"Big Data has transformed everything from sports to politics to education. It could transform mental-health treatment, too..."

"... if only psychologists would stop ignoring it." A long article — "What Your Therapist Doesn’t Know" in The Atlantic. Here's the passage that I think might make you interested in reading it:

"When I started, I was thinking of how there’s a lot of animosity toward diverse communities of people in the world right now."

"So I wanted to draw something that I hoped would show that we can all get along well, and that it’s possible for us to be happy with each other. I want everyone try to be more open, accepting, and respectful to people. You don’t know what they’ve been through – and they don’t know what you’ve been through — so we all deserve respect from each other."

Said Sarah Harrison, the Connecticut 10th grader who won this year's Doodle 4 Google Contest.

"It was a Montana moment I'll never forget, I mean I grew up here in Whitefish, Montana and when I saw that, that is what makes Montana great."

What was it? See for yourself:

A bear has a laptop.

I've heard about the bear in the woods...

The Russians!


I thought this was the guy who was so enamored with putting his name on everything...

Here's how The Hill put it:
President Trump on Friday announced two new executive orders aimed at tackling long-standing concerns around trade enforcement, but he left the room before actually signing the orders....

What do you think was most likely happening here?
pollcode.com free polls

"Is it still funny to play tricks on April Fool's Day?"

Asks the UK Independent, offering 3 reasons to say yes...
* The attention paid to April Fool's Day by the media is proof that we all enjoy being taken for a ride

* These are troubled times. It's good to have a day when a bit of anarchic fun is officially sanctioned

* A bucket of water atop the boss's door will surely amuse even the most po-faced colleague
... and 3 reasons to say no....
* It's depressing that the most widespread version of the tradition now takes the form of glorified adverts

* Many people will think it inappropriate to be messing about in a time of global crisis

* It might be a bit of fun to you, but one person's joke is another's cruel jibe, and the line is very fine indeed
Phrased like that, the "yes" side wins. What I think is what I think about jokes in general: It depends on the specific. Is it funny? Is it taking advantage of the gullibility of the kind of person it's good to get a chance to laugh at? Is it creative and different? You've already got that element of sameness in that you're using the April Fool's occasion and format, so what's new here? Are you just cheaply saying something that's not true, upsetting somebody, then quickly taking it back? You can do that any day — announce terrible news — then say "Just kidding." If you wouldn't do that, then you don't have a good enough April Fool's joke. 

March 31, 2017

The Mexican government installed a seat on the Mexico City subway sculpted into the shape of a nude male torso, complete with penis.

As explained in this NYT article, it was to teach a lesson about the problem of men sexually harassing women. Here's the public service ad produced:

"These particular ads came about after UN Women and the Mexican government took open submissions for ideas on a campaign to target a male audience. Around 40 agencies submitted pitches and J. Walter Thompson won." (I used to work for J. Walter Thompson — back in the 1970s.)

There's a second ad, taking aim at the asses of unsuspecting male citizens:

ADDED, next morning: Let me be explicit about my objection to this. The government — attempting to fight sexual harassment — is engaging in sexual harassment.

At the Phantom Rock...


... there's one more chance to talk.

Another photo from Arches National Park. March 10th. There's no person in this photo, but I see a human image in it.

Also: please think of using The Althouse Amazon Portal if you have shopping to do.

The I-85 bridge fire disaster.

From the front-page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution website:

From inside the paper:

"7 things to know about the fiery I-85 bridge collapse."

"Tens of thousands of metro Atlanta residents are trying to leave town for spring break. Thousands more want to catch the first Braves exhibition game at SunTrust Park. Hundreds of thousands of others just want to get to work or school. And then an I-85 bridge collapsed in the heart of the city. The epic collapse of one of metro Atlanta’s busiest highways has commuters scrambling to figure out how they’ll get where they’re going Friday...."

"It didn’t take long for the I-85 bridge collapse to become political fodder."

"My motivation at the time was simple. I was being actively pursued by the military, who seemed single-mindedly determined to send me to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam. I wanted to publish something that would express my anger."

Said William Powell, author of the "Anarchist Cookbook," quoted in his obituary. He was 66.
He declared that his book was an educational service for the silent majority — not the one identified by President Richard M. Nixon as his middle-American constituency, but the disciplined anarchists who were seeking dignity in a world gone wrong. To them, he offered how-to plans for weaponry and explosives as well as drugs, electronic surveillance, guerrilla training and hand-to-hand combat — a potent mix that attracted the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The book found a big audience. More than two million copies have reportedly been sold, and still more have been downloaded on the internet.

"To us, it was like being told that showing skin makes us bad girls and that was an extremely misogynistic idea to place in the minds of impressionable teenagers."

Said one teenager, reacting to the school's fliers about what they could wear to the prom.

The fliers all had the heading "Going to the Stanton Prom?" followed by a picture of a woman in a dress. Under the picture, 3 of the fliers had the caption "NO YOU'RE NOT" and one had "YES YOU ARE. GOOD GIRL."

That "good girl" was, in particular, a bone of contention. Sounds like something you'd say to your bitch.*

* OED: "bitch, n.1... a. The female of the dog. c1000 in T. Wright & R. P. WĂĽlcker Anglo-Saxon & Old Eng. Vocab. (1884) I. 120 Canicula, bicge. c1000 Sax. Leechd. I. 362 Biccean meolc. c1300 K. Alis. 5394 Comen tigres many hundre; Graye bicchen als it waren...."

"Almost every journalist has met people like Mr. McLemore, sources who email you under pseudonyms with tips a little too good to be true."

"Often they seem to mostly want someone to talk to, and to have their experiences validated by a journalist, whose job, after all, is to decide what’s important and true. Most reporters would stop taking those calls when the story ideas don’t bear fruit, but not [Brian] Reed. He finds [John B.] McLemore’s life important in and of itself, and a whole world opens up to him."

Writes Amanda Hess (in the NYT) about the new podcast "S-Town." She avoids spoilers. You can listen to all 7 episodes here.

I highly recommend it. I listened to the whole thing in 3 days and immediately went back to Episode 1 to relisten (and am up to Episode 3). I consider it a work of art — perhaps a great work of art. The second go-round will tell. The first time through, you're pulled along by wanting to figure out who all these people are and what happened. There are layers of revelations. On re-listen, you see the first hints of what is to come. You see the repetitions of themes — such as time (McLemore is a restorer of clocks, sundials have sad inscriptions about time). You know as characters show up and start speaking in their own way from their own perspective what part they will play in the whole story. If it is a great work of art, it will be better the second time. That's my test.

I'm reading some other articles about "S-Town." Aja Romano has a piece in Vox with a headline that overstates the argument: "S-Town is a stunning podcast. It shouldn't have been made." The text says: "I’m not sure it should have been made." One might say that Reed invested so much of his time — speaking of time — gathering audio and got such great material that he just had to use it, and he processed it brilliantly. It may be so good because Reed, et al, were so desperate to justify using what they had. And McLemore's vivid raving is so wonderful, so fascinating, that it's hard to say it should be suppressed for the reason that you will know if you get to the end of episode 2.

Here are links to the Reddit threads discussing the show episode-by-episode. The top comment at the linked page is:
I wish I had a cousin like Tyler's uncle Jimmy to be my own personal hype man whenever I talk.


"Yes sir!"

"You goddamn right!"
Is there an ethical problem or are we free to enjoy Uncle Jimmy? Here's how Hess in the fit-to-print NYT referred to him: "Uncle Jimmy, who communicates exclusively through shouted affirmations." Jimmy is a man with a bullet lodged in his head.

Katy Waldman in Slate says that McLemore "embodies rightwing fantasies about the judgmental elitism of the left." Don't misread that. McLemore is obsessed with everything that's wrong with the world, especially global warming. He rants about it continually, enlarging talk on just about any subject into all the terrible things that are happening in the world. That is, he seems to be a lefty that popped out of rightwinger's fervid caricature. But "S-Town" isn't making a hero of him because he's into lefty issues. In fact, the show lets it become clear that his ravings on these subjects is symptomatic of his devastating personal problems.

Beyond clocks, McLemore also tended to his garden — lots of flowers and an elaborate circular hedge maze. People have found the maze on Google maps, and you can see photographs here.

Despite all the horror at the troubles of the world and the refuge in gardening, the show never mentions Voltaire's "cultivate your garden" resolution of "Candide." But the show does have literary references, notably the William Faulkner story "A Rose for Emily," which I was motivated to read yesterday. The story is mentioned early on, and every episode ends with the beautiful recording "A Rose for Emily" by The Zombies. Listen to that here. That's from the "Odessey and Oracle" album, which came out 50 years ago. Talk about time! (The Zombies are touring, playing the music from that album, and I hear they're great. They'll be in Madison on April 15th. Get your tickets here. I've got mine.)

This is the kind of obvious error that gives the urge to help a bad name.

Cheerios — in an effort to help bees — put a packet of wildflower seeds in its boxes of cereal without ensuring that none of the varieties of seeds were invasive in places where the boxes would be sold.

"An honest mistake, or a deliberate act of sabotage from a rogue operator in the EPA press office?"

Asks The Washington Post about this:

Let me ask you:

Honest mistake or deliberate sabotage?
pollcode.com free polls

March 30, 2017

"That picture of Hillary is so freaky. Is that real? Where'd you get it?"

I said, and Meade texted me the link.

It's like she's immersed in a boiling cauldron... but it's just the Professional Business Women of California Conference.

At the Strait Gate Café...


... squeeze in whatever you can.

Photograph, like the 2 shown last night in the Narrow Gate Café, is from Arches National Park, March 10th. No little person in this one to show the scale. Post title confirms jaed's suspicion that I intended to refer to the Bible verse. Here's a more explicit depiction of the verse:

Click to enlarge.

And this sounds a tad inappropriate now, but remember The Althouse Amazon Portal when you're doing your shopping. 

I'm about to end my morning session of blogging, but I see Drudge has his old revolving siren going right now.

It's the EU President Jean-Claude Juncke saying:
"Brexit isn’t the end. A lot of people would like it that way, even people on another continent where the newly elected US President was happy that the Brexit was taking place and has asked other countries to do the same. If he goes on like that I am going to promote the independence of Ohio and Austin, Texas in the US."
I'll resist alarm mode and continue on my path on planet earth.

You might also what to talk about this, which Drudge colorfully links with the phrase "HONONONO: JUDGE IN HAWAII EXTENDS ORDER BLOCKING TRAVEL BAN..."

As I'm writing this, Drudge auto-reloads and the siren is gone. I guess we all can relax now.

"The Missing Richard Simmons Creator Left a Boom Box on Simmons’s Stoop..."

"... a Gesture That Did Not Move Simmons to Talk to Him."
Dan Taberski spent six episodes of his morally suspect podcast Missing Richard Simmons slowly coming to terms with [the conclusion that Simmons didn't want to talk to anyone outside of his close circle of intimates]...  Taberski decided to make Missing Richard Simmons readily available to the potential Luddite with an instance of door-to-door delivery. “Sometimes I think of Richard Simmons like my grandmother, like I’m not quite sure if he knows how the internet works… So it was literally just putting what we had done into a boom box and putting it on his stoop, and to get his reaction so that we would know that he had heard it,” he explained.
You can listen — without the assistance of a boombox — to the whole 6-episode show here. The first 2 episodes are great. It goes interestingly to hell in episode 3, and after that it never redeems itself. Taberski's continued groping for attention — with this boombox business — squicks me out.

I'm listening to the new podcast "S-Town."

All 7 episodes of "S-Town" (AKA "Shit Town") became available at once — here —  and that makes it difficult to have a discussion. It's not like "Serial," where you'd get one episode a week and could bandy about all your theories and opinions while waiting for the next episode to come out.

I'm in the middle of episode 4 right now, so I'm not sure who I can talk to. I don't want spoilers. I had a good discussion yesterday with someone who was ahead of me in the episodes but being very careful not to say anything revealing, even to react one way or another to my ideas about what I thought would happen. He stressed that I shouldn't read anything about it, and I was all I know, I won't.

But it does make me feel that I need to rush through, so the experience is not spoiled, so I get the artful roll-out of the story as it was intended. I think I'd prefer to get it week by week and to have an opportunity to discuss one episode at a time — as I mostly did with "Serial."

Now, part of what I find myself thinking about is why they chose to dump the whole thing at once, and that's coloring my experience of it. Perhaps they wanted to control the storytelling, and if they restricted the flow, key information would come out in news and social media anyway. The story would be told in any crude, blunt way that anybody who could scoop them chose.

But I'm also thinking that the whole enterprise is exploitative of real people, and episode-by-episode discussion in social media might have questioned the ethics and got some serious antagonism going against the show. Dropping the whole thing at once gets ahead of that phenomenon.

I'll have more to say about exploitation and ethics when I'm finished with the whole show. It's quite interesting and elegantly crafted. The aural art is equal to the visual art which you can see at the link. You might want to get going listening to this thing so you'll be in a position to talk about it with me when I'm ready, which will be soon. Until then, I'm not reading any articles, and I won't be reading the comments to this thread — so go ahead and say anything you like.

UPDATE: Since finishing the post, I've made it to the end, beyond spoiling. Quite an amazing work of art.

"A New York law prohibiting merchants from charging extra for credit card transactions might violate the constitutional protection for free speech..."

... the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, in Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman, writes Daniel Fisher at Forbes.

The Second Circuit had viewed NY's law as only governing conduct, but the Supreme Court said that was wrong. There's a speech angle:
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the New York law is “not like a typical price regulation,” because it doesn’t tell merchants what they can charge but rather how they choose to communicate their prices to consumers.

"They also want to make clear that they are not the bad guys—that the credit card companies, not the merchants, are responsible for the higher prices," Roberts wrote. "The merchants believe that surcharges for credit are more effective than discounts for cash in accomplishing these goals."

What George W. Bush said after sitting through Trump's inaugural address.

"That was some weird shit."

Possibly apocryphal, but New York Magazine claims to have 3 witnesses.

What do you think of "That was some weird shit" as an assessment of the Trump inaugural address? Multiple answers permitted. Check them all if you want!
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"Trump may have just signed a death warrant for our planet..."

Writes Van Jones, referring to Trump's executive order directed at ending Obama's Clean Power Plan which was aimed at slowing the changing of Earth's climate.

I love the intellectual honesty displayed in the qualification that completes Jones's dire statement — "at least, for a planet that is liveable for humans."

Perhaps Jones, like me remembers, George Carlin on the ridiculousness of the human notion Save the Earth (NSFW):

"The planet isn't going anywhere. We are!"

"Compromise requires give and take from all sides, and we are pleased this proposal fully protects bathroom safety and privacy."

Said Phil Berger, the leader of the North Carolina senate, and Roy Cooper, the new Governor, in a joint statement about the new bill, repealing House Bill 2.

The new bill would "create a moratorium on local nondiscrimination ordinances through 2020 and leave regulation of 'multi-occupancy facilities,' or bathrooms, to state lawmakers," the NYT reports.

Cooper, a Democrat, beat the incumbent Pat McCrory, a narrow victory that had to do with Bill 2 (and the boycotting of the state that it touched off). Bill 2 had required everyone using a public bathroom in North Carolina to use only the facility that corresponds to the sex designated on their birth certificate.

Cooper also said:
“I support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow. It’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals House Bill 2 and begins to repair our reputation.”

March 29, 2017

"The pufferfish looks so pleased with itself as it works..."

"... as well it should be."

At the Narrow Gate Café...



... you can talk about anything you want.

These are pictures I took in Arches National Park on March 10th. To get a sense of the scale, notice the human being standing between the rocks in both pictures.

And please think of using The Althouse Amazon Portal when you have shopping to do.

3 storm chasers die chasing a tornado. And not from the tornado.

"The cause of the crash remained under investigation. It was raining at the time of the collision, and there did not appear to be any tire skid marks, Sgt. John Gonzalez, a department spokesman, said...."
Today, apps on smartphones provide real-time data, making storm chasing a pursuit accessible to all — seasoned professionals and trained meteorologists, as well as homegrown enthusiasts with a thirst for thrills and the celebrity that comes with posting dramatic videos on YouTube.

“That information — available to everyone — says to a lot of people, ‘Let’s go chase this storm,’” [said Tim Marshall, a meteorologist and engineer at an engineering firm in Irving, Tex., who has been chasing severe storms since 1977.] “Back in the early days, I would have a storm to myself. Today, that would not happen.”

"If someone steps down or something changes, I’ll then ask and answer those questions at that time. But right now, no, I’m not running for public office."

Says Chelsea Clinton speaking — in her exquisitely annoying fashion — and purporting to find it "all rather hysterical" that people keep asking if she'll run for office, acting as if she's ending the inquiry, yet obviously keeping alive the hope/fear that she will — if some unstated condition clicks — run for office:

Robot news.

1. "Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs." (NYT)
For every robot per thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs and wages fell by as much as three-fourths of a percent, according to a new paper by the economists, Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University. It appears to be the first study to quantify large, direct, negative effects of robots....
2. "Humans and robots are companion species on this planet. We need each other." (Slate)

3. Tiny girl seems to think a water heater is a robot, attempts to engage with it, is deemed cute by internet.

4. "Ingestible Snake Robot Could Slither Through Your Intestines." (Live Science)
"The external shape of the robot is a 2D projection of a rotating helix. The result is a continuously moving wave. We can simply reverse the direction by reversing the direction of rotation of the motor," said one of the robot's inventors, David Zarrouk, a mechanical engineer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
5. "A robot designed simply to burn every single tweet sent by Mr Trump has amassed thousands of Twitter followers."

"Eleven people who slaughtered a sheep, stripped naked and chained themselves together outside the gates of Auschwitz last week were... not neo-Nazi extremists..."

They were pacifists.

According to prosecutors.

Why did John McCain choose to insult Kim Jong-un at the expense of the mentally ill, the overweight, and the very young?

Whatever loose talk a political official might want to use to talk about world leaders, shouldn't he take into account the collateral damage?

John McCain may properly think Kim Jong-un is terrible, but to call him a "fat crazy kid" is to drag in 3 categories of vulnerable people who shouldn't be used to symbolize worthlessness.

The focus in the press — if I may go by New York Magazine — is on how seriously North Korea takes the dignity of its leader. It issued a statement calling it "grave provocation little short of declaration of war" and threatened retaliation. If it's retaliation in kind, it will only be what we do to our President continually.

But what concerns me is how blithely McCain concocted his insult out of disdain for qualities possessed by millions of Americans who don't deserve the careless swipe. 

"Snappy Fishsuit; Acne Fountain; Sex Fruit; Loser; Fat Meat; Stud Duck; Ghoul Nipple; Number 16 Bus Shelter; Yeah Detroit; Tula Does The Hula In Hawaii; Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk And The Flash Combined; and Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116."

Actual names cited by the lawyer for the Georgia Department of Health in a letter to the ACLU explaining that there is some power of the state to reject names that parents might want to impose on their babies. But the lawyer was also denying that the last name "Allah" was rejected because there was something substantively wrong with the name. The state says the problem is only that the last name on a birth certificate from the Office of Vital Records needs to be either the mother's last name, the father's last name, or some combination of the 2. If you want some other name, you should petition the court for a name change, and any problems with the name will be addressed at that point.

Here's the report in the NYT, which seems to be saying that the ACLU's argument is only based on a provision of the state statutory code that says birth certificates need a name "as designated by both parents." I'd like a link to the whole statutory provision. I guess the fight is over whether parents get to choose a last name as well as a first name at the birth certificate stage. An ACLU lawyer is quoted saying the parents "feel very strongly that they want all of their children to have the same last name." The parents — whose last names are Handy and Walk — already have 2 children with the last name Allah. (One of them is named Masterful Allah.)

Remember when Paul Kantner and Grace Slick named their baby God? False! Grace Slick just said the baby's name was "god" — "We spell it with a small g because we want her to be humble" — but that was just some fluffy blah blah of the time. The baby's name was China.

"The two antiabortion activists who mounted a hidden-camera investigation against Planned Parenthood officials have been charged with 15 felony counts..."

"... of violating the privacy of health-care providers by recording confidential information without their consent. In announcing the charges against David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the duo used manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet medical officials and covertly record the private discussions they initiated.... The secretly recorded conversations dropped during the politically tumultuous summer of 2015, amid a crowded field of Republican presidential contenders, and turned Daleiden into the biggest star of the antiabortion movement.... Daleiden’s lawyer, Steve Cooley, a former district attorney of Los Angeles, blamed the charges on Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), a former attorney general of California whose office initiated the investigation that produced Tuesday’s charges. He claims Harris corrupted the current attorney general’s office to 'pander to her constituents and her supporters.'"

Reports The Washington Post, which embeds the privacy-invading video.

"The next generation would be justified in looking back at us and asking... 'Couldn't you hear what Mother NATURE! was screaming at you?'"

Lots of Trump in that trailer for "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power." And, ironically, Al Gore seems to be trying to TALK! like Trump.

"A man has died after being savaged by his dog while being interviewed by a BBC documentary film crew in north London."

"The man, named locally as Mario Perivoitos, 41, was with the film crew at his home in Wood Green on 20 March when his Staffordshire bull terrier attacked, biting him in the neck."

The police say the documentary was "entirely unrelated" and BBC won't say what the documentary was about.

When you search bobdylan.com for song lyrics with the word "nothing," you get... nothing.

Is that some kind of joke*?

There are at least 2 big "nothing" songs: "Nothing Was Delivered" and "Too Much of Nothing." These are songs you can find searching for other words, like "sympathize"...
Nothing was delivered
But I can’t say I sympathize
With what your fate is going to be
Yes, for telling all those lies
... or "freeze"...
Now, too much of nothing
Can make a man feel ill at ease
One man’s temper might rise
While another man’s temper might freeze
In the day of confession
We cannot mock a soul
Oh, when there’s too much of nothing
No one has control
There's also "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" — and a search of the website for "nothin'" works to find it.
Listen to me pretty baby
Lay your hand upon my head
Beyond here lies nothin'
Nothin' done and nothin' said
I think the nothing result for "nothing" is a deliberate joke.


* Deliberate reference to "Desolation Row" —  "Yes, I received your letter yesterday/(About the time the doorknob broke)/When you asked how I was doing/Was that some kind of joke?"

"Bob Dylan will finally accept his Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm this weekend, the academy has announced."

BBC reports.
The academy said it would meet Dylan, 75, in private in the Swedish capital, where he is giving two concerts. He will not lecture in person but is expected to send a taped version. If he does not deliver a lecture by June, he will have to forfeit the prize money....
From the Nobel website:
In a few days Bob Dylan will visit Stockholm and give two concerts... Please note that no Nobel Lecture will be held. The Academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point.....

The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.

What do you think now of Dylan's approach to the Nobel people?

pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: Poll results:

50 years ago today: 40 children go to a New York publishing company to "Find Out What Their Daddies Do at the Office."

According to the headline in the NYT at the time. (The first sentence of the article includes mothers parenthetically.) It was the idea of the president of Hayden Publishing Company, James S. Mulholland, who said: "I got the idea for the tour from a sociological report I read a few years ago. It theorized that middle-class delinquency, particularly among boys, stems from their not knowing what their fathers do and so not having a model to pattern themselves after."

One of the pictures shows Mulholland with his own son, who "pronounced himself bored by everything but [the] big I.B.M. accounting machine":

We're told the accounting machine was an IBM 401, which I see dates back to 1933 and was "an early entry in a long series of IBM alphabetic tabulators and accounting machines... The 401 added at a speed of 150 cards per minute and listed alphanumerical data at 80 cards per minute." I'm looking for a picture of this thing the boy was prescient enough to love, but here's what a 402 looked like:

"Ann, minute to chat?"

I don't know, Tom. It depends on what the meaning of "chat" is....

Click to enlarge the email I just got from Tom Perez:

That doesn't look like chatting to me. That looks like 7 big red "DONATE" buttons.

You could at least pretend to want to talk to me, Tom. That was such a radical subject-line-to-body-of-the-text switcheroo, Tom, it wounded my sense of belonging. Not that I had any, but you didn't know that. Because you never take the time to chat with me, Tom.

"And gold aviator eyeglasses are one of the sexiest shapes you could possibly wear."

For the annals of sexiest shapes imaginable. Aviator glasses are back in style, we're told in the NYT.

I'm not buying that these glasses are obviously sexy. There's also:
"I think part of the aviator returning is a result of old shows from the 1980s and 1990s that we get to watch on Netflix. It’s fun to look back at ‘Friends’ episodes and ‘Beverly Hills 90210.’ The eyewear of that time is definitely influencing our designers.
There's also:
"One of my style icons is Gloria Steinem, and she’s worn that look forever."
I think it's more like: Once an old style has been abandoned even by old people, it can be reinstalled as new and retro. You put the old style on young models, and it looks cute, the way nerd glasses once did. Then the long process begins: Less stylish people adopt it, even completely out-of-style people are choosing it, and eventually, it will be pushed out by something else seeping slowly into the culture, and it can be picked up again as retro. I think the cycle takes about 50 years.

I don't know why that one quote talks about the 80s and the 90s. Aviator glasses were adopted by stylish people in the 60s. I'll never forget seeing Mort Sahl — the political satirist — on "The Tonight Show" holding up a picture of Gloria Steinem and railing against her, harping specifically on her glasses. As I remember it, he took the position that it was ludicrous to wear aviator glasses unless you were an aviator.

"You may have told Glenn you were a 'sly trickster' but you were only being a sly trickster when you did."

"I think you could more accurately be described as a perceptively independent observer who enjoys pointing out where a generally accepted opinion is, if not wrong necessarily, at least questionable. Contrarians are more indiscriminate. Maybe the word you were looking for was impish."

Wrote Luke Lea in the comments to "I resist Glenn Loury's label for — me — 'contrarian,' explain why, and offer an alternative label, which he then readily slaps on himself."

That felt very accurate to me... except for the suggestion that the right word is "impish."

I wonder if the word "contrarian" felt wrong to me because it seems indiscriminate — like someone who disagrees for the sake of disagreeing. I'm discriminate, but you might not see the way I'm being discriminate. I'd have a little trouble myself explaining exactly what gets me going disagreeing with people, but it has a lot to do with whether those people are pleased with themselves and think they're better than other people because of what they think.* Smugness, self-righteousness, identification as one of the good people, looking down on people who don't agree — that brings out the contrarian in me.

Anyway, "impish"... it means "Having the characteristics of an imp; pertaining to or characteristic of a little devil or mischievous urchin." Sounds "a trifle too satanic" (to quote The Rolling Stones).


* Yesterday was a good example, when everyone was scolding Chuck Schumer for demanding that a rich old lady tell him why she voted for a liar. I said "I think it's nice that Chuck Schumer displays his opinions and personality in full public view." In the comments, I even said "I cop to trolling on this one. Used the word on my own talking to Meade before I read this." ("This" = Paco Wové saying the post needed an "Althouse trolls her commentariat" tag.)

"How the Republicans Sold Your Privacy to Internet Providers."

If you think that NYT headline is an overstatement, explain why.
The bill is an effort by the F.C.C.’s new Republican majority and congressional Republicans to overturn a simple but vitally important concept — namely that the information that goes over a network belongs to you as the consumer, not to the network hired to carry it. It’s an old idea: For decades, in both Republican and Democratic administrations, federal rules have protected the privacy of the information in a telephone call. In 2016, the F.C.C., which I led as chairman under President Barack Obama, extended those same protections to the internet.
I = Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman, 2013-2017.

Yesterday, AT&T forced me to update U-Verse again and bragged about the special features that would give me new "functionality" — I think that was their word — figuring out my tastes and suggesting things I might like. There were 2 buttons and the "accept" button was highlighted. I switched to "reject" and opted out.

AT&T must really want this.

March 28, 2017

"We are not going to be a majority Mormon nation; we are not going to have Utah’s cultural homogeneity."

"But we could have more politicians like Lieutenant Governor Cox, and even more honest and sympathetic conversations about poverty. We could offer more, and better, help to people who need it. Why not look for more promising scripts than the ones played out across the U.S. today? With inspiration from Utah, perhaps the U.S. could inch toward Utah-level mobility — and toward the American Dream."

Writes Megan McArdle, who "went to Utah precisely because it’s weird."

I just went to Utah myself, but I didn't go because it's weird. I went to Utah because it's beautiful.

Capitol Reef National Park

I resist Glenn Loury's label for — me — "contrarian," explain why, and offer an alternative label, which he then readily slaps on himself.

The label is...

"If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes."

Wrote Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo.

Quoted at Brain Pickings, which expands to something said by "the great Polish-born British mathematician, biologist, writer, and historian of science Jacob Bronowski":
Evolution is built up by the perpetuation of errors. It runs counter to the second law of thermodynamics by promoting the error to the new norm so that the second law now works on the error, and then a new error is built up. That is also central to all inductive acts and all acts of imagination. We ask ourselves, “Why does one chess player play better than another?” The answer is not that the one who plays better makes fewer mistakes, because in a fundamental way the one who plays better makes more mistakes, by which I mean more imaginative mistakes. He sees more ridiculous alternatives… The mark of the great player is exactly that he thinks of something which by all known norms of the game is an error. His choice does not conform to the way in which, if you want to put it most brutally, a machine would play the game....

"C’mon fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says? You’re going back to work."

Said President Trump to the coal miners who stood around him as he signed an executive order, setting in motion the undoing of some of what President Obama put in place to fight global warming.

I think this will be equally entertaining for those who love and those who hate Trump.

That's quite an accomplishment:

"I'm a heading out Wisconsin ways/2000 miles to go/Madison, Milwaukee, sets my heart aglow."

"I'm a coming to that dairy state/My heart's a beating fast/I'll pick my banjo gently there/And twiddle my mustache...."

He never performed it and we don't seem to have the music for it, but Bob Dylan wrote 3 verses of lyrics for a song about Wisconsin. The handwritten lyric sheet — which you can see here — is being offered for sale.

I like that he mentions Madison — along with Milwaukee — and also says his home's in "Wow Wow Toaster" — presumably Wauwatosa (the home of Governor Scott Walker).

Also at the link is a facsimile of a Wisconsin State Journal article about a concert Dylan played in Madison when he was 23:
With a vocal style resembling an 80-year-old man with a nasal condition, Dylan still does the near-impossible when he belts out his self-written tirades again the ills of the world....

In no song, however, does he present a solution.
In other Dylan news:
The Bob Dylan archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma is now open to select groups and individuals with qualified research projects. Those hoping to view and use the archive at the Helmerich Center for American Research at the Gilcrease Museum will have to submit a Research Associate Application to the librarian and a list of relevant items from the archive's online finding aid.

Looking for petroglyphs.



In Capitol Reef National Park, March 9th.

Feel free to explore about any subject in the comments (and to use The Althouse Amazon Portal to pursue any shopping needs).

"A Daily Mail front page that declared 'Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!' next to a photograph of Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and British prime minister Theresa May..."

"... has prompted widespread outrage," The Guardian informs us.
Inside the paper there was was more ogling at the female leaders, with a headline reading: “Finest weapons at their command? Those pins!” A column by Sarah Vine referred to Sturgeon’s legs as “altogether more flirty, tantalisingly crossed … a direct attempt at seduction”.
Ludicrous, of course, but The Daily Mail is very trashy, so who looks unless we're in the mood for utter garbage? DM seems to be at least 50% about how women look.

Here's the page:

I love this satirical response to DM:

It's not fair, since these politicos don't work for The Daily Mail, but it fits for my long-time "men in shorts" theme.

IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O said:
Are there any pictures of the Queen sitting like that? I doubt it. Though, Princess Dianna was well-known for her legs, with some claiming she singlehandedly took down the pantyhose industry. I suspect the DM is making a commentary of sorts. Kind of like Althouse's old "let's take a look at those breasts" post. Show leg, people notice leg. Front and center legs get a highlight. It's worth noting that the satirical response includes men doing leisure activities, whereas the women are in a business/political situation. Are there examples of men in shorts meeting together to discuss significant national transitions? That would seem to be the equivalent.
I said:
You know, this makes me think the photo op really was botched. They don't have to be on low, cushioned chairs. The photographers shouldn't be at such a low angle. It's distracting to have the legs occupying so much foreground, diminishing the significance of the heads.

The legs can be there, and I like seeing women in skirts, but whoever set up the photo op should have arranged things to make the women seem more dignified.

What if the men — properly clad in suits — were absurdly manspreading? We'd all laugh at that.
Here's how Margaret Thatcher looked, wearing a skirt and sitting next to Reagan.

Here she is sledding:

AND: Here's a New Yorker article by one of my favorite writers, Janet Malcolm, about photographing Queen Elizabeth in 2011:
My first impression was of a vaguely familiar elderly couple posing for a formal portrait in a corner of the palatial Minneapolis hotel ballroom where their fiftieth wedding anniversary is being celebrated. The pair were seated on an ornate settee, and my attention was drawn to the woman’s sturdy legs in beige stockings, the right knee uncovered where the skirt of her pale-blue silk dress had hitched up a bit as she settled her ample figure into the settee; and to her feet, in patent-leather pumps planted firmly on the fancy hotel carpet. Her white hair was carefully coiffed, in a sort of pompadour in front and fluffy curls on the sides, and her lipsticked mouth was set in an expression of quiet determination. The man—a retired airline pilot?—was smaller, thinner, recessive. They were sitting a little apart, not touching, looking straight ahead. Gradually, the royal couple came into focus as such, and the photograph assumed its own identity as a work by Struth, the plethora of its details somehow tamed to serve a composition of satisfying serenity and readability.

"He really wanted to make it, but he was really busy drinking alcohol... and having sex with women who were not my mother."

Said Megan Mullally, talking about her father on Alec Baldwin's show "Here's the Thing."

Her husband Nick Offerman broke in: "Some people are able to juggle those pursuits."

Mullally: "Yeah."

Offerman: "But he was more of a specialist."

ADDED: I originally thought that was Baldwin's voice, but TML in the comments said it was Offerman. I relistened and agree and corrected the post.

"The Democrats will make a deal with me on healthcare as soon as ObamaCare folds — not long. Do not worry, we are in very good shape!"

Tweets Trump.

Depends on the meaning of "very good shape." About to collapse... great.

That tweet was right after "The Republican House Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. After so many bad years they were ready for a win!"

Sometimes losing is winning.

Make me think of the old Bob Dylan quote: "She knows there’s no success like failure/And that failure’s no success at all."

This NYT health-advice article is getting a lot of attention...

... but I'd like to see an answer to the problem raised by the top-rated comment, which I'm not going to quote here.

The article is "Training Your Brain So That You Don’t Need Reading Glasses."

"They are a highly respected couple, and Schumer made a scene, yelling, 'She voted for Trump!'"

"'The Califanos left the restaurant, but Schumer followed them outside.'” On the sidewalk, Schumer carried on with his fantastical filibuster: '"How could you vote for Trump? He’s a liar!" He kept repeating, "He’s a liar!"'"

Oh, come on. People aren't aloud allowed to have vivid political conversations in a restaurant? I think it's nice that Chuck Schumer displays his opinions and personality in full public view. If you don't like hearing what other people say in restaurants, have your own exciting conversation, or eat somewhere else.

And, by the way, did Ms. Califano — wife of Jimmy Carter's HEW Secretary and daughter of the founder and long-time chairman of CBS — not have the wit to mouth a comeback for "How could you vote for Trump? He’s a liar!"?

Anyone with the wherewithal to stumble into a voting booth should be able at least to get to: "Hillary's a liar." It's almost easy to leap right into Oscar Wilde territory: "Considering the opposition, how was it possible not to vote for a liar?

ADDED: I'm looking back into the career of Joseph A. Califano, Carter's first HEW Secretary, whowas fired by Carter in 1979. Why? Here's a 1981 Christian Science Monitor review of Califano's autobiography:
In July of 1979, when Jimmy Carter was disastrously down in the opinion polls and was considering a purge of his Cabinet, Washington lawyer Edward Bennett Williams told the author of this book, "You ought to hope he fires you. The guy is through and it will give you a way out."

Carter obliged and effectively dismissed Califano, his Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, along with four other members of his Cabinet. As a device to restore Carter's popularity the maneuver failed....

Califano [tells] how it felt to be high up and inside and on the receiving end of a barrage of biting and peremptory notes from the President, ordering him to do this or that. [H]e tells what it was like to be a Cabinet member who launched a major campaign on the hazards of smoking, only to have the rug abruptly pulled out from under him by a President who was all too aware of the impact the powerful North Carolina tobacco growers could have on his prospects for reelection. And he tells how it felt to be accused by Carter of disloyally leaking secrets to the press when, as Califano and other members of the Cabinet saw it, the prime culprits were Hamilton Jordan and Jody Powell....

Califano shows Hamilton Jordan intervening again and again with the words, "I don't know anything about the merits, but I know the politics for the President."....
Hamilton Jordan was 32 when he became Jimmy Carter's Chief of Staff.

"She found him sitting up in his bed staring wide-eyed, his bloodshot eyes looking into the distance as his glowing iPad lay next to him."

"He seemed to be in a trance. Beside herself with panic, Susan had to shake the boy repeatedly to snap him out of it. Distraught, she could not understand how her once-healthy and happy little boy had become so addicted to the game that he wound up in a catatonic stupor."

From "It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies," by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras in The New York Post.

ADDED: The purple-prose description, oddly enough, makes the mother sound more psychotic.

Why doesn't this NYT article say one word about climate change/global warming?

"Inhabitants of Maldives Atoll Fear a Flood of Saudi Money":
[Some people in the Maldives] are bracing for a life change they fear could be catastrophic, after the Maldivian president’s announcement in January that leaders of Saudi Arabia were planning a $10 billion investment in the group of islands where Mr. Ahmed lives, known as Faafu Atoll....

Saudi Arabia has for decades spread its conservative strand of Islam in the Maldives by sending religious leaders, building mosques and giving scholarships to students to attend its universities. The Saudis are building a new airport terminal, and have pledged tens of millions of dollars in loans and grants for infrastructure and housing on an artificial island near the capital, Malé....

A year later, Prince Mohammed returned to host a week of parties. He and his entourage took over two resorts, said a person familiar with the plans. That person said guests had flown in night after night on private jets to attend the parties, which featured famous entertainers including the rapper Pitbull and the South Korean singer Psy....
Nothing says "conservative strand of Islam" more than Pitbull...

... and Psy...

... unless "conservative Islam" is about rich, louche men mindlessly enjoying themselves.

But when I see the word "Maldives," what I think is: Islands that will be underwater soon. And I think that I think that because of articles I've read mostly in the NYT. Why is Saudi Arabia investing $10 billion in such bad real estate?

Maybe the answer is: For Saudi Arabia, $10 billion is a good price for a few decades of glamorous indulgence.

But I would like some discussion of the topic in The New York Times.* This is a long article. About the Maldives. How can you write about the Maldives and not address the #1 thing about the Maldives that you've been telling me about for years?

* Examples: "Threatened U.S. Pullout Might Help, Not Hobble, Global Climate Pact" (published yesterday, "Maldives Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim - chair of the Alliance of Small Island States whose members fear they are at risk from rising sea levels - urged continued U.S. participation in Paris"); "At the U.N., a Free-for-All on Setting Global Goals" (May 2014, "Island nations like the Maldives, which lies less than six feet above sea level, worry more about what rising temperatures will do to the sea"); "Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land" (March 2014, "[T]he melting of much of the earth’s ice... is likely to raise sea levels and flood coastal regions. Such a rise will be uneven because of gravitational effects and human intervention, so predicting its outcome in any one place is difficult. But island nations like the Maldives, Kiribati and Fiji may lose much of their land area, and millions of Bangladeshis will be displaced.")

"Those kids will grow up to be evil."

A comment on "What a year it’s been! Ivanka shares adorable photos of her sharing spaghetti with baby Theodore as he turns one" at The Daily Mail.

I'm reading The Daily Mail this morning because Instapundit (at Facebook) linked to this other thing: "Super fit personal trainer and champion bodybuilder told she's OBESE by bungling NHS nurse who claimed her BMI was too high and told her to 'eat less move more.'"

For the record, here's my opinion on the "obese bodybuilder" article, which I posted on Facebook:
I understand a performer wanting to do PR, but this is a bit ridiculous: "I was made to feel as though I was overweight, over-eating and I felt a knock in my confidence." [ALSO: "It left me feeling belittled, insulted and confused."] Come on! I'm sure BMI is an inaccurate basis for assessing individuals. Everyone knows it's not a good fit for someone with big muscles (though who knows what this person looked like on the day she went to the health clinic?). But wouldn't this person know that and take it into account rather than experiencing "a knock" to her "confidence"? It's just another trashy DM article feeding off an entertainer's interest in self-promotion. What's DM's BMI?

March 27, 2017

Red rock landscape.


In Utah, on March 9th. With Meade.

Use the comments for late-night and overnight discussion of whatever you can get going.


Elon Musk's new company — "focused on developing the capabilities of the brain through technological augmentation."

Trump is amused by the "very, very glamorous" desk.

Seriously hardcore resistance to travel.

In the "Muddy Boots Café," where I alluded to our recent sojourn in Utah, rhhardin said:
I can take the somewhat wind-sheltered daily bike route to the more distant Kroger or the exposed route to the nearer Kroger, for getting out of the house; and nice wifi at home.

What more do you need?
It helps if you're repelled by travel, say from early exposure to world-spanning business trips. No exoticism is worth the hassle and motels. You're always looking forward to getting home.

Glenn Loury and I resist the resistance to Trump.

In this hot new episode of Bloggingheads (recorded on Friday), Glenn Loury objects strenuously to the effort to treat Trump as abnormal, and I agree. Despite that basic agreement, we find a lot to talk about:

The tags indicate the range of subject matter. The topics listed at the BHTV website are:
The “normalizing Trump” debate
Trump’s desire to keep judges “in check”
Political posturing around Gorsuch and Garland
Should judges infer that Trump wants a Muslim ban?
Glenn defends the Shelby County ruling on voting rights
Ann defends Citizen’s United

At the Muddy Boots Café...


... you can talk about anything you like... including leggings — already under discussion here — why Meade really wanted to take this picture of me, and whether we could be happily mediocre in southern Utah.

The mud on my boots is not from Utah. Those would be my other boots, the ones with the orange mud. These are my new boots, the ones I told you I was buying from Amazon, and, as you know, I like to remind you to do your Amazon shopping through the Althouse portal.

You'd think, given Trump and his wall, that NYC wouldn't go for an art project called "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors."

But it's ironic.
Ai Weiwei, the provocative Chinese artist, will build more than 100 fences and installations around New York City this fall for “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” one of his most large-scale public art projects to date....
You're not supposed to think that fences are good.
“When the Berlin Wall fell, there were 11 countries with border fences and walls,” Mr. Ai said. “By 2016, that number had increased to 70. We are witnessing a rise in nationalism, an increase in the closure of borders, and an exclusionary attitude towards migrants and refugees, the victims of war and the casualties of globalization.”
So he's building fences against fences. It's sort of like we're supposed to hate his art. Get this thing outta here.

It calls to mind the old "Tilted Arc" — a long metal wall that blocked diagonal paths across a plaza that many NYC workers just hated. But I don't think that work was intended to express the idea that walls are bad. I think it meant look at my big, beautiful modernist erection. But for those of us who worked in the area and had an interest in freedom of movement through what would otherwise be an open plaza, the predominant thought was, yes, I've seen it, I've seen it in my way a hundred times, get it the hell out of here. And in the end it was removed. The artist was miffed, but the workers were happy. Not as happy as Berlin when its wall fell, but happy to have the arrogant artist's imposition disimposed.

I've talked about "Tilted Arc" a few times on this blog, notably here:
The sculpture's high art proponents ridiculed the complaints, including a fear of "terrorists who might use it as a blasting wall for bombs." Serra himself said that to move the "site-specific" sculpture would be to destroy it. He also said: "I don't think it is the function of art to be pleasing. Art is not democratic. It is not for the people." Fine, but then, keep it out of the plaza! And don't take taxpayer money. The Grand Central carpeting on the other hand, can be walked on comfortably, is amusing for almost everybody, and is going to be removed after a short time, so any perception of ugliness will soon enough give way to the good feeling of relief when it is gone. "Tilted Arc" was there, in the way, permanently, with no feeling or sensitivity for the people who worked in the Plaza. I worked in the area at the time and know first-hand its effect on human beings, who had "site-specific" jobs and did not deserve to be challenged by art to take a 120-foot walk around a steel arc hundreds or thousands of times.
IN THE COMMENTS: There's some discussion of the extent to which the taxpayers are funding this. And Matthew Sablan wants to talk about the Robert Frost poem (the full text of which you can read here):
The fence/wall in the poem always struck me as one guy saying, "we don't need this; it wastes our time every year rebuilding the damn thing," and the other guy saying, "yeah, but we might need it in the future, and besides, you and I trust each other, yet, trust but verify."

There's a lot packed into the poem, but in general, it is two different people approaching the wall problem. Frost wants us to think the narrator makes a good point, but the other guy has plenty of valid reasons for wanting a wall (without it, in say, 20 years, how will they know where the property line is? What if an apple tree DOES sprout on the opposite side?)

Also, the wall ISN'T walling the two people out from each other. They could talk over it, if they wanted. Without the wall there, they wouldn't see each other any other time in the year.
That made me read the poem and feel I can enlighten you. This is purely on my reading it just now and not looking at what anybody else says. I think the narrator enjoys the yearly activity with his neighbor. He calls it a "game." They don't really need a wall because they're only growing trees and the trees aren't going anywhere. But a second amusing thing you can do when you've got another person with you — besides playing a physical game like wall-building — is to have a conversation. The narrator is satisfied with the wall-building game — he's not really trying to avoid the trouble. He kind of likes it.

He's disappointed by the inability to get the verbal game started. He parries with that idea that the trees aren't going to behave any differently. But the other guy has a go-to old saying: "Good fences make good neighbours." The narrator babbles out a few things and stops short of another idea he could throw out — that elves are taking the wall down — but "But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather/He said it for himself." The narrator wants to have a conversation. But the other guy is just doggedly continuing the physical game, lugging another stone. And all he adds to the conversation — that the narrator thinks could get really interesting with elves or something, anything — is another repetition of the old saying.

Yes, there's repetition in rebuilding the wall every year, and yes, that repetition isn't really necessary, but I think the central problem is frustration at not getting a conversation started. I think the narrator would be just as happy to get a flow of interesting words about the good of maintaining an old fence and redoing the shared annual ritual of moving the stones back where they were. What he wants is to do something with another person with his mind and not just his body. But the other man — whose body is good enough to lift "boulders" — just doesn't have a mind that can do much. He says the same old thing twice, and the narrator wants a real conversation. When the narrator says "Something there is that doesn't love a wall/That wants it down," he means Talk to me, for God's sake!

"What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?"/"What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life?"

Now, there's some headline to first line slippage.

The headline is good clickbait, but it sets up an argument that the author — Krista O'Reilly Davi-Digui — never makes. What's mediocre about a small, slow, simple life? Many people would say that the life described in the essay is the essential, most beautiful human life, centered on the real, immediate world of home and family.

The word "mediocre" does appear in the essay, but only to describe relatively unimportant aspects of the small, slow, simple life. Her body is mediocre. She might be a "mediocre home manager" in that she "rarely dusts," sometimes orders pizza, and has some messy "areas" in her house.

"I loved [classical music], but once I heard The 4 Seasons, forget it. That sound!"

"And when The Beatles came out, you know, initially, I didn't even care. I was still reeling from having seen The 4 Seasons on 'Ed Sullivan' doing 'Big Girls Don't Cry.' There was something about that sound. The way they looked! We didn't have guys that looked like that... or sounded like that... He was high. They said 'Walk like a man/sing like a girl.' He could get up there. But the whole vocal sound they had was just amazing. You heard the sound of the city. I said Get me down there."

Said Paul Shaffer in the new episode of "WTF with Marc Maron."

Shaffer was listening to the radio in the early 60s, at the same time I had my most intense radio experiences, and I had exactly the same reaction to The 4 Seasons and to the early Beatles. (What was the big deal in a world that already had The 4 Seasons?!). (Paul Shaffer is about a year older than I am... and exactly the same height (5'5").)

Shaffer wanted to get down there, because he was in Canada, in Thunder Bay, whence you had to drive 4 hours just to get to Duluth, the city Bob Dylan had to get down out of. Shaffer was listening to the radio at night so he could get a station in Chicago, and was blown away when "Sherry" came along.

And here's how that "Ed Sullivan" show looked:

That was a big moment for me too. I was 11. Shaffer, 12, wanted to be like Frankie Valli. Now, that is a man. I wanted to marry him.

ADDED: Frankie Valli looks so tiny there. How tall is he? He's in the 5'5" club with me and Paul.