May 20, 2017

Comey's delicate stomach: connecting "just completely disgusted" with "mildly nauseous."

An emailer connected these 2 expressions of Comey's, and I subsequently noticed this comment in last night's post about Comey's "just completely disgusted" remark, from hombre:
July 5, 2016. That was the day that anyone with integrity and associated with, or knowledgeable about, law enforcement understood that Comey was a lapdog for his Democrat masters.

His sanctimonious posturing makes me a lot more than "mildly nauseous."
The "mildly nauseous" phrase came from Comey's May 5, 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (He said "It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election." July 5, 2016 was the date Comey determined that "no reasonable prosecutor" would proceed against Hillary Clinton over the email matter.)

And I found this from CNN last night connecting the recent "just completely disgusted" with "mildly nauseous." They played a clip of Comey's friend Benjamin Witte saying:
Comey really did not want to go to that meeting. He just really doesn't believe that the president and the FBI director should, you know, have any kind of social relationship or, you know, shows of warmth…. And so if you watch the video, he extends his hand and Comey's arms are really long and he extends his hand kind of preemptively and Trump grabs the hand and kind of pulls him into a hug but the hug is entirely one-sided. Comey was just completely disgusted by [OTHER VOICE: Disgusted?] disgusted by the episode. He thought it was an intentional attempt to compromise him in public.
After some discussion, the host Chris Cuomo said: "[L]et's not forget who James Comey is in our political context. He said was -- felt, you know, nauseated by it. He was also seen nauseous -- as inducing nausea -- by Democrats for what he did."

Disgust and nausea are synonymous. I think it's interesting — but what exactly does it mean? — that Comey expresses himself with the metaphor of an aversion to or a revulsion after eating. I don't know how enlightening that might be about his psychology. As you think about it, you might want to factor in the vivid, horrible experience Comey had when he was 16.

"'The conceptual penis as a social construct' is a Sokal-style hoax on gender studies."

"This paper should never have been published."
Titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” our paper “argues” that “The penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” As if to prove philosopher David Hume’s claim that there is a deep gap between what is and what ought to be, our should-never-have-been-published paper was published in the open-access (meaning that articles are freely accessible and not behind a paywall), peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences. (In case the PDF is removed, we’ve archived it.)

"It would be good if top Hill Republicans went en masse to the president and said: 'Stop it. Clean up your act. Shut your mouth. Do your job. Stop tweeting.'"

"'Stop seething. Stop wasting time. You lost the thread and don't even know what you were elected to do anymore. Get a grip. Grow up and look at the terrain, see it for what it is. We have limited time. Every day you undercut yourself, you undercut us. More important, you keep from happening the good policy things we could have done together. If you don't grow up fast, you'll wind up abandoned and alone. Act like a president or leave the presidency.' Could it help? For a minute. But it would be constructive -- not just carping, leaking, posing, cheering and tweeting but actually trying to lead. The president needs to be told: Democracy is not your plaything."

Writes Peggy Noonan in "Democracy Is Not Your Plaything/When the circus comes to Washington, it consumes everything, absorbs all energy" (in the WSJ).

Here are the top-rated comments there:

1. "Though I usually enjoy your articles, Ms. Noonan, this is way overblown. Wrenching questions? Seriously? Methinks you need to turn a critical eye to your own profession. Many of the slithering reptiles in Washington are incendiary journalists who revel in this circus. A circus of its own making. This latest piece of yours is part of the act. But do you realize it?"

2. "Nice try Peggy. It's not Trump, it's your lefty friends. And your left is not interested. They are so radical they want a coup and they are going to get it. This is a revolution and your side wants power and will get it even if we all have to get trampled in the mud. Duly elected POTUS? Doesn't matter. This is a coup. The left is not just out of control, they are severe, violent radicals. Violent times are coming, thanks to the left."

"President Trump has said he believes Twitter put him in the White House. Recently, Mr. Williams heard the claim for the first time. He mulled it over for a bit..."

"... sitting in his Medium office, which is noteworthy only for not having a desk. 'It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that,' he said finally. 'If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.' The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Williams’s remarks."

From a NYT Magazine article on Evan Williams — one of the founders of Twitter and a co-creator of Blogger (where we are right now) — who currently runs Medium. The article is called "'The Internet Is Broken': @ev Is Trying to Salvage It."

I had forgotten about Medium, but now I remember it was supposed to solve some kind of problem. Why the long article about it now? It came out in 2012, but what's happening? We're told Medium is "a new model for media in a world struggling under the weight of fake or worthless content" and "social and collaborative without rewarding the smash-ups" and "a force for good."

According to the NYT article — which is by David Streitfield — "Medium is not afraid to be dull." Is it just failing (or not trying to succeed)?
Mr. Williams is deliberate to a fault, and his stint as Twitter’s chief executive in 2008 was not a managerial success. “He’s not C.E.O. material,” his former girlfriend and the co-developer of Blogger, Meg Hourihan, said in 2010 when the Twitter board pushed him out....

In a commencement speech at the University of Nebraska this month, Mr. Williams noted that Silicon Valley has a tendency to see itself as a Prometheus, stealing fire from selfish gatekeeper gods and bestowing it on mere mortals. “What we tend to forget is that Zeus was so pissed at Prometheus that he chained him to a rock so eagles could peck out his guts for eternity,” Mr. Williams told the crowd. “Some would say that’s what we deserve for giving the power of tweets to Donald Trump.”

Mr. Williams’s mistake was expecting the internet to resemble the person he saw in the mirror: serious, high-minded....

“While today is an important victory and an important vindication, the road is far from over, the proper war is just commencing."

“The claim by the UK that it has a right to arrest me for seeking asylum in a case where there have been no charges is simply untenable.”

Said Julian Assange, quoted in The Guardian.
On what happens next, Assange signalled that he would remain inside the embassy for the time being, and that he was seeking dialogue with British and US officials...
... The UK refuses to confirm or deny at this stage whether a US extradition warrant is in the UK territory. While there have been extremely threatening remarks made [in the US]. I’m always happy to engage in a dialogue with the Department of Justice about what has occurred.
What are the "extremely threatening remarks"? Here's another Guardian piece, "Trump and Assange's friendship may come to a quick halt as US charges loom/The president and WikiLeaks founder were partners not more than four months ago, but now the US may charge him for publishing classified material":
A threat by the Donald Trump administration last month to imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might, from Assange’s perspective, seem ungrateful.

It was WikiLeaks that published a steady drip of awkward emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman in the run-up to the November election. It was WikiLeaks that exposed plotting inside the Democratic National Committee to ruin the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. And it was WikiLeaks that Trump associates such as Roger Stone touted as the force that would finish off Clinton.

“I love WikiLeaks,” Trump himself said at a Pennsylvania rally a month before the election, brandishing a printout of a Clinton campaign email, to cheers from the crowd.
Why should Trump act grateful? He needs to look independent, not like he was in collusion or encouraging the law-breaking. Bursting out with "I love Wikileaks" at a rally may show how little Trump thought in terms of law, but it's not taking a legal position, just exulting at something that was producing a result that was helping him. 

The day in disgust.

What's been disgusting people in the last 24 hours? I wondered, after blogging something that disgusted Meade and me and noticing the the new post went on top of yesterday's post about Comey being "just completely disgusted" when Trump subjected him to a handshake.

Here's what I've come up with:

1. The avolatte. "Yes, this is a latte served inside of an avocado. Look at it. It’s sickening."

2. What's that white thing that seems to be growing out of your child's gums? It's not some weird new disease, just some fingernail bitings. One woman — who ultimately tweezed out 27 shreds — made video of her adventure in her son's mouth and posted it on Facebook. The son's name — if this is relevant to analyzing her level of vigilance about health matters — is Kale.

3. "If Trump took a dump on his desk, you would defend it," said Anderson Cooper last night to his guest Jeffrey Lord.

4. In Japan, promoting the movie "Tokyo Ghoul," there's a Tokyo Ghoul café. Here's the website for the café with some pictures from the comic book and the dishes intended to evoke them. (Here's a trailer for the new movie.)

5. I avoided the hoo-ha over the men's romper, but maybe I can catch the wave on the jeado. "Real men wear speedos, but it takes a confident man to wear a jeado."

6. "It's not that Trump isn't or shouldn't be frightening. But it's conspicuous that our media landscape is now a perfect Ailes-ian dystopia, cleaved into camps of captive audiences geeked up on terror and disgust. The more scared and hate-filled we are, the more advertising dollars come pouring in, on both sides."

7. From "'Alien' Is Sci-Fi Horror's Most Feminist Movie Franchise," by Tom Seymour: "The Alien movies visualize the two things so many men look upon with disgust and horror—getting penetrated themselves, and watching a woman giving birth... In the Alien films... moments of rape are always moments of impregnation. They provide a dual, intensified horror."

8. From "As Indians, we take our cotton heritage too lightly": "Remember the outrage last year in the US when an Indian supplier of 'Egyptian cotton' bedsheets to major department stores was found to have used other cotton? The disgust and horror was akin to sturgeon caviar being found to have been diluted with dyed salmon roe or horsemeat being detected in so-called beef products in UK. But how many know that India also produces... an equally wonderful ESL cotton variety, albeit rather unimaginatively named Suvin, the result of a 'marriage' of a local cotton gal 'Sujatha' with a Caribbean cotton lad called St Vincent in the mid-1970s?"

9. "Where do we draw the line on sledging?" I don't know. I had to figure out what "sledging" even is. Fortunately, there's an entire Wikipedia article on this cricket-specific issue: "Sledging is a term used in cricket to describe the practice whereby some players seek to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating the opposing player.... There is debate in the cricketing world as to whether this constitutes poor sportsmanship or good-humoured banter."

10. "Found this while doing yard work. My brother asked why women would buy baseball themed pads."

"This is a brilliant way to make smarter sun protection choices easier."

A Glamour beauty editor enthuses about an improvement of "choice" that is simply eliminating the choices government and health industry officials don't want you to make.

The genius move by CVS is to limit the selection of products so you can't buy "sun care products" with an SPF lower than 15. So you can't get a product like Australian Gold SPF 4 Spray Oil Sunscreen, which "promotes tanning," while "allowing you to stay in the sun up to 4 times longer without burning." What if you're not planning to be in the sun very long? And isn't some sun good for your health? What if I think it is — for the vitamin D — and I'm only going to be out in the sun for an hour? I'm supposed to use SPF 15? It seems to me that withholding products like Australian Gold SPF 4 just forces people to switch to products that aren't "sun care" at all. In the old days — the 60s — girls who wanted a sun tan used plain old baby oil or baby oil with iodine.

It's sort of like the way depriving women of the choice of legal abortions would channel some women into the government's preferred choice of childbearing, but it would drive other women into the baby-oil-with-iodine version of abortion, the so-called back-alley abortion.

I don't think Glamour editors would squee "This is a brilliant way to make smarter pregnancy choices easier." But when it's on some sweet-spot subject — like averting the scourge of dark tanning — it's touted as brilliant to take away choices. And these supposed lovers of brilliance don't notice how unbrilliant they sound when they say taking away choices is making choices "easier."

I don't see the words "sponsored content," but it's such an ad for CVS. It even contains an embedded ad. I urge you to watch this — if you can. Both Meade and I, watching separately, were grossed out at the same point and had to pause for a while before going on. But we watched to the end and had a long discussion about what kind of women respond well to material like this and who the first woman reminded us of.*


* I'll tell you later. But: somebody famous.

May 19, 2017

Why was Comey "just completely disgusted" when Trump pulled into the handshake and grabbed him around the shoulder?

"He thought it was an intentional attempt to compromise him in public."

Comey didn't want to shake hands at all...
[Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes, a close friend of Comey's] said Comey "really did not want to go to that meeting" and tried to distance himself from Trump to ensure the FBI's independence from the White House. Comey, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall, was wearing a dark blue suit and stood near the similarly colored curtains in the back of the room, hoping that Trump would not spot him.
Video at the link.

And that seems to have prompted Philippe Reines to tweet us some video of himself playing the role of Trump in Hillary Clinton's debate prep:

ADDED: I don't think trying to evade a handshake makes you look good. But what do you do when confronted with a person who has a handshake-plus move? There's the right hand doing the basic shake, and then the left hand gropes you on some other part of your anatomy — the upper arm or the shoulder? Do you just let him? If he's a star?

"Nature is great and all but I like seeing what Mankind made and then destroyed. Or seeing examples of Mankind being ironic, irreverent, or incompetent."

"It gives us insight as to who we are and what we were in the past," said the Hipstercrite when her mother took her to the Grand Canyon. I ran across this piece as I was writing yesterday's post about post-tourism. Hipstercrite uses the term post-modern tourism.

Her travel recommendations make the idea pretty clear: Salton Sea ("It’s full of dead fish and Botulism and empty trailers and salt-encrusted lawn chairs. It’s reeks of death and the humidity is oppressing. IT’S HEAVEN."); Dollywood ("Because it’s a theme park in the middle of Deliverance-land created by a country singer with Double D breasts."); Marfa, Texas (" Long after minimal artist Donald Judd left, his big city grime stayed spluged over the sleepy town. New Yorkers/Angelenos/Austinites have been flocking to Marfa to add their own seed ever since."); all of New Mexico ("[I]t’s vast. And it’s desolate."); Picher, Oklahoma ("Picher was once the home of lead and zinc mining and over 1640 people. Now it’s the home to gigantic holes to the center of the Earth and 20 people.").

I feel some affinity to this kind of thinking — especially when it comes to photography. Remember when we pulled over in Orderville, Utah to photograph the "Food & Drug" sign?

ADDED: Here's another example of my interest in depressing signage, from last February:


"I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job."

Said Donald Trump to Russian officials — "according to a document summarizing the meeting," according to the NYT. He's also said to have said: "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off."
The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.
ADDED: An awful lot of people are quick to call Trump crazy, and here he is calling Comey crazy. Everybody's crazy now. Maybe the idea of insanity doesn't mean much anymore — doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

"Will Melania Trump wear a headscarf in Saudi Arabia?"

WaPo's Adam Taylor asks, bringing up this tweet from 2015:

The media really are terribly negative toward Trump.

A serious-looking report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
The report is based on an analysis of news reports in the print editions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, the main newscasts of CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, and three European news outlets (The UK’s Financial Times and BBC, and Germany’s ARD)....

• President Trump dominated media coverage in the outlets and programs analyzed, with Trump being the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents. He was also the featured speaker in nearly two-thirds of his coverage....

• Trump has received unsparing coverage for most weeks of his presidency, without a single major topic where Trump’s coverage, on balance, was more positive than negative, setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.

• Fox was the only news outlet in the study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall, however, there was variation in the tone of Fox’s coverage depending on the topic.
Lots more at the link, including many graphs, like this:

ADDED: This new report makes me want to repost something I wrote on March 3rd, "Do the Democrats see their only hope as getting an investigation going and somehow reliving Watergate?"

"Lieberman emerges as front-runner for FBI post."


Politico reports:
A person familiar with Wednesday’s meeting said Trump bonded with Lieberman, and the president left leaning towards the former Connecticut senator, who retired in 2013...
Bonded with him, eh? What are his qualifications? This strikes me as an insane choice.
The pick would be an unorthodox one – the FBI is not usually run by politicians. Additionally, Lieberman is 75 years old, and FBI directors are typically appointed to serve 10-year terms.

Lieberman ran alongside Democrat Al Gore in 2000. He now works as special counsel at the same law firm with Marc Kasowitz, Trump's longtime lawyer in New York, which could be an issue for Democrats, a senior Democratic aide said.

Trump often talks to Kasowitz, who’s also represented Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News anchor, and other prominent New Yorkers.
That doesn't sound right.

Time to talk about Anthony Weiner again.

He's pleading guilty to "a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor."
A likely result of the plea is that Mr. Weiner would end up as a registered sex offender... The charge carries a potential sentence of between zero and 10 years in prison, meaning Mr. Weiner could avoid prison...
Go to the link to see the artistically hilarious photograph of Weiner the NYT chose to illustrate its article. It's not one of Weiner's selfies, but a portrait by a NYT photographer, Damon Winter, that has Weiner looking greasy and defeated.


Why do we prefer clockwise? Is it because we're in the northern hemisphere — that is, does it have to do with clocks, which were modeled on sundials? And was clockwise a concept (and a preferred direction) before we had the word "clock," and if so, what there a word for it?

What about the way lids and screws and things are designed to be turned clockwise to tighten? Is that related to clocks or to the fact that most of us are right-handed and right-handed people are stronger turning things clockwise and it's more important to have strength to tighten than to loosen? Ever notice that left-handed people are good at opening jars?

Or do you think the preference for clockwise is related to our left-to-right writing system, and clockwise is really a matter of going from left to right? Or does our writing system go left to right because of: 1. The direction of the sun, or 2. The fact that most of us are right-handed?

The answers to most of these questions are in the Wikipedia article "Clockwise."

"Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer."

The headline kind of misses the point.
“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy,” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education. “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”...

In 1993, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that the “capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.” Boredom is a chance to contemplate life, rather than rushing through it.... “It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested, rather than take time to find what interests him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one’s time,” added Phillips.
Did your parents make great efforts to provide you with things to do over the summer? If you have kids: Did you generate lots of activities for your kids (or think you should)? Were you, as a child, admired for showing interest in things your parents pointed you toward? If you have kids: Do you express admiration for them when they show interest in the activities you provide for them? Do you ever stop and think they should get bored? 

"At the heart of laptop ban debate, officials ask which is worse: Bombs or accidental battery fires?"


"DEMOCRATS: Trump’s leaks are outrageous and treasonous. Hey, look how good Chelsea Manning looks in her new publicity photo!"

Quips Instapundit.

"Until you live in Silicon Valley, you don’t realize how many dumb rich people there are."

The last line of "The Mad King of Juice: Inside the Dysfunctional Origins of Juicero" at Gizmodo.

"Everything feels like the future but us."

Working in the Tesla factory.

Sentence of the day.

"It is a mildly disconcerting experience, seeing conscious evolutions and experiments in style; baroque, ornate, urgent, dyspeptic; the repetitions and modalities at various points and the stylized categorizations and oppositions – prudes and perverts, monsters and insanity, measures and tests, inquiries and examinations, bodies and boys, punishment, pleasure, asceticism, suicide; the going back over old themes in new ways; how the old becomes new but how the new can never entirely disown the old; the desire for both fidelity in the evocation of moods and worlds, but not necessarily strict historical accuracy, whatever that might in the end be taken to mean; and the desire to write all this up somehow as a history of the present."

From a TLS article with a nicely short title, "Foucault investigates."

Things not believed: "I'm looking forward to voting Democrat again."

That "Democrat" is a tell. Someone actually looking forward to voting for Democrats would say "voting Democratic." But I don't trust the transcription in the Washington Examiner, because it also identifies the speaker of this line as "the acclaimed philosopher."

Camille Paglia is a philosopher?

Here's a 2005 article by Camille Paglia: "Ten great female philosophers: The thinking woman's women/Radio 4's 'Greatest Philosopher' poll yielded an all-male Top 20. But is philosophy really a female-free zone? On the contrary, insists Camille Paglia - and here are 10 to prove the point." In the note identifying the author, she's listed as a "Professor of Humanities at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia." If she had any claim to being considered a philosopher, I think we'd have seen it there. She said:
I feel women in general are less comfortable than men in inhabiting a highly austere, cold, analytical space, such as the one which philosophy involves. Women as a whole - and there are obvious exceptions - are more drawn to practical, personal matters. It is not that they inherently lack a talent or aptitude for philosophy or higher mathematics, but rather that they are more unwilling than men to devote their lives to a frigid space from which the natural and the human have been eliminated....
Paglia loves to personalize things, so you can bet she'd have said but not me! if she could.
A philosopher for me is someone who is removed from everyday concerns and manipulates terms and concepts like counters on a grid or chessboard.
Obviously, Paglia does not meet her own definition of philosopher. She likes to talk about ideas in connection with art — high and low art of all kinds. 
Both Simone de Beauvoir and Ayn Rand, another favourite of mine, have their own highly influential system of thought, and therefore they belong on any list of great philosophers....
The term philosopher is passé, anyhow, and should be abandoned. The thinker of modern times should be partly abstract and partly practical. Karl Marx, the winner of the Radio 4 poll yesterday, was indeed a truly major thinker.
A "major thinker" — which is what Paglia probably thinks she is — but not a "philosopher," because:
He was not a captive of abstraction and always kept his eye on society and its evolution...

Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre.
Who wants to be a philosopher anyway? Nobody good, certainly not Paglia:
This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments. Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity.... Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry.
Man, I know the feeling! I had to stop at this point and listen to "Life During Wartime":

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?/Gonna be different this time/Can't write a letter, can't send no postcard/I ain't got time for that now... We got computer, we're tapping phone lines/I know that ain't allowed... Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?....

Anyway, back to the I-don't-trust-it Washington Examiner article I've been trying to read as the sun comes up here in Madison, Wisconsin, where nobody I know is manipulating terms and concepts like counters on a grid or chessboard, and I am thrown back to 1979, when I was trying to be a law student and The Talking Heads were distracting me with word of impending chaos and the futility of further education. I was writing in notebooks — what good are notebooks? — and nobody I knew got computer.

But speaking of chess, have you ever seen this picture?

That's "A Jew and a Muslim playing chess in 13th century al-Andalus." I found that in the Wikipedia article "Al-Andalus," which I clicked through to from "Alcázar," which I'd looked up because it was the hardest answer in the Friday NYT crossword.

Change 2 letters in chess, and you get the opposite of chess: Chaos! And chaos is what made me want to blog that Washington Examiner fragment about whatever it was Camille Paglia may have said. The key line for me wasn't Paglia's spurious expressing of hope to vote Democrat, but her assertion about what's going on with the attacks on Trump:
"Democrats are doing this in collusion with the media obviously, because they just want to create chaos... They want to completely obliterate any sense that the Trump administration is making any progress on anything... I am appalled at the behavior of the media... It's the collapse of journalism....  I feel that the media has so utterly lost its credibility that I think people are going to vote against the media again."
I wanted to quote that because I agree with it. A partisan plot to cripple the American President, to make it as difficult as possible to accomplish anything? "Chaos" is a fun-loving term compared to "treason," but we don't say "treason" anymore, do we?
In the 1790s, opposition political parties were new and not fully accepted. Government leaders often considered their opponents to be some sort of traitors. Historian Ron Chernow reports that Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and President George Washington "regarded much of the criticism fired at their administration as disloyal, even treasonous, in nature." When an undeclared Quasi-War broke out with France in 1797–98, "Hamilton increasingly mistook dissent for treason and engaged in hyperbole." Furthermore, the Jeffersonian opposition party behaved the same way. After 1801, with a peaceful transition in the political party in power, the rhetoric of "treason" against political opponents diminished.
Oh, but these days, part of the chaos-making is calling treason on Trump.

May 18, 2017

At the Peony Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And, please, if you have some shopping to do, consider going into Amazon through The Althouse Portal.)

3 things in today's NYT show what I think is a realization that the talk of impeachment has gone too far and endangers the liberal agenda.

1. "For Trump's Defenders, White House Turmoil Is Politics as Usual":
But for many Americans, including President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters, the "crisis in Washington" is... the latest egregious example of mainstream media bias and of Washington insiders desperate to preserve their status taking revenge on the New York celebrity businessman....

"This is what I expected," said Jeff Klusmeier, an insurance agent in Louisville, Kentucky. "I expected the media to attack Trump. I expected the Democrats to attack him and call for impeachment. So it's par for the course for me."...

"The overwhelming majority of conservatives and Republicans believe that whatever you may think of Donald Trump, this is clearly being driven by many quarters of the media that chose sides in the election and were very upfront about it and haven't changed," Republican consultant Keith Appell told Reuters.
2. "How Impeachment Could Help the G.O.P., Not the Democrats" — a heading for letters to the editor responding to a column by Thomas L. Friedman recommending that Democrats give up on the idea of impeaching Donald Trump. One reader says that Republicans might decide it's in their interest to replace Trump with Pence, "who is truly one of their own, would be the best possible way to get their agenda back on track." Another points out that Pence is "a sane, mentally stable, true conservative" who would be hard to run against in 2018.

3. Most significantly: "Democratic Leaders Try to Slow Calls to Impeach Trump."
“No one ought to, in my view, rush to embrace the most extraordinary remedy that involves the removal of the president from office,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the sober-minded senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He warned that Democrats should not let their actions “be perceived as an effort to nullify the election by other means.”...

The demands of the radicalized party base are being amplified by growing calls from a series of Democratic candidates for statewide office who, in an effort to outflank their primary rivals, have started clamoring for Mr. Trump’s impeachment....

Most congressional Democrats... [fear] the expectations of their base... which are outrunning what is feasible as long as Republicans control both chambers of Congress. The fear, Democratic officials say, is that they will invite the sort of backlash from their base that Republicans got for overpromising about what was possible while President Barack Obama was in office....

Party strategists fear that Democrats might sacrifice the moral and political high ground by appearing too eager... [and] overplaying their hand.

Jean-Michel Basquiat is "now in the same league as Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso."

The crowd gasped as his painting of a skull just sold for $110.5 million.

Chris Cornell does Prince.

And Bob Dylan...

"Cornell didn’t just cover Dylan’s 'The Times They Are a-Changing' on recent solo dates... he updated the early-‘60s protest anthem with new lyrics, calling his version 'The Times They Are a-Changing Back.'..."
We carry the load for the 1%, who bought you your seat at the table
Well the wine pours red and the hearts turn black
And the times they are a-changin' back
Come all you media, women and men
24 hours a day scare the shit out of them
If fear is your business, then business is grand
Oh, my God, I'm just seeing after listening to that and writing this much that Chris Cornell hanged himself. It was a suicide.

(Here's the earlier post today about Cornell's death.)

ADDED: WaPo has "Death of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, a founding father of grunge, ruled a suicide."

"There’s a certain kind of personal essay that, for a long time, everybody seemed to hate. These essays were mostly written by women."

"They came off as unseemly, the writer’s judgment as flawed. They were too personal: the topics seemed insignificant, or else too important to be aired for an audience of strangers. The essays that drew the most attention tended to fall within certain categories. There were the one-off body-horror pieces, such as 'My Gynecologist Found a Ball of Cat Hair in My Vagina,' published by xoJane, or a notorious lost-tampon chronicle published by Jezebel. There were essays that incited outrage for the life styles they described, like the one about pretending to live in the Victorian era, or Cat Marnell’s oeuvre. There were those that incited outrage by giving voice to horrible, uncharitable thoughts, like 'My Former Friend’s Death Was a Blessing' (xoJane again) and 'I’m Not Going to Pretend I’m Poor to Be Accepted by You' (Thought Catalog). Finally, there were those essays that directed outrage at society by describing incidents of sexism, abuse, or rape."

So begins "The Personal-Essay Boom Is Over," by Jia Tolentino (in The New Yorker). Tolentino discusses the rise and fall of these overly personal essays. One element of the story — of every story, really — is Trump. It's not that gynecologists are finding Trump's hair in vaginas, but the topics of "relationships, self-image, intimate struggle" seemed noticeably lacking in "broader social relevance." As the editor of the Awl and the Hairpin put it: "I want to encourage people to talk about mostly anything other than themselves."
Put simply, the personal is no longer political in quite the same way that it was. Many profiles of Trump voters positioned personal stories as explanations for a terrible collective act; meanwhile, Clinton’s purported reliance on identity politics has been heavily criticized. Individual perspectives do not, at the moment, seem like a trustworthy way to get to the bottom of a subject.... Writers seem less interested in mustering their own centrality than they were, and readers seem less excited at the prospect of being irritated by individual civilian personalities....

No more lost-tampon essays, in other words, in the age of Donald Trump....
So now Trump is to blame for inhibiting the personal expression of women. That awful man!

"When You Love Your Friend But Hate Her Social-Media Presence."

"At first I shrugged off the inane selfies and oddly pedantic captions informing a seemingly imagined audience how to make 'yummy' chia-seed pudding, or how yoga had taught her to appreciate her curves...."
But over the next six months, things only got worse: She was posting multiple times a day, increasingly in nausea-inducing poses with her boyfriend that looked about as staged as a rom-com poster: laughing and eating soft-serve on a stoop, holding hands while walking over a bridge, stealing a kiss post-run. Soon, they had their very own hashtag. It involved the word “lover.” I was traveling a lot for work then, and each time I mindlessly scrolled through my Instagram — in airport lines and long, jet-lag-riddled taxicab rides — it was like removing the pin from a grenade of secondhand embarrassment.....
That's Hayley Phelan, at New York Magazine, talking about her friend or... who knows whether anecdotes like this are true? Like this one she relays from one "Josh, 36," who "fell for a beautiful fine-arts student who was 'fun, smart, cool, and kinky,'" but then:
“She’d ’gram her sculptures and performance pieces and they were just awful,” says Josh. “It bewildered me that this person was in arts school and could make such thoughtless, unoriginal work. Once that seed was planted, it just grew. When we went to art shows or dinners, I started hearing her differently. [Eventually] we stopped going out.” He adds, “And yes, I still hooked up with her after. I’m a snob, not an idiot.” 
Heh. Put the creepy stuff in the mouth of some guy, some Josh, and let's all laugh at (nonexistent?) "arts school" girl. (Are we in England? What's with "arts school"? Was that at university?)
It’s well established that who we are online is not who we are in real life. 
And who we are in a magazine article is also not necessarily true. I used to read magazines for a living (for a couple years, back in the 1970s, after I went to art school). I'm used to how the details in these anecdotes look, with just the right cool-sounding people dribbling out short quotes that exactly embody the problem the author wants to discuss. But maybe it all happened that way, and I'm sure the problem — in a more boring way — actually exists. Yeah, you went somewhere, you ate something, you wore something, your boyfriend/girlfriend/kids were cute. You saw an animal... if only somewhere else on line. And I wince and think it's embarrassing/dumb/boring/phony.

What should you do if someone you really like in real life does social media you think is embarrassing? free polls

Huckleberry, the roof dog.

At a house in Austin, Texas with a sign out front that says "Don't be alarmed!!! We appreciate your concern but please do not knock on our door... we know he's up there!"

"I learned about post-tourism, which is just research jargon for traveling hipsters: believing there’s no authenticity left in the world, they enjoy tourist attractions ironically."

From "Thomas Cook and the Stack Pirates/Boredom and an enterprising Brit gave birth to the modern tourism industry, and we’re still trying to make sense of it all" by Mary Mann (via Metafilter). I'd never seen the term "post-tourism" before, and there's lots more in the article than that idea, including the process of doing research in a library...
Modern tourism started in England, which makes sense — a colonizing country is probably a restless country — but by the mid twentieth century people from all over the world were touring. Tourism became a thing; you could tell because people had started studying it. The stacks are full of their books: The Ethics of Sightseeing, The Language of Tour­ism, The Tourist Gaze, and so on for longer than you’d care to read. Before venturing into the stacks I’d never read a book on tourism, but I knew the industry from working in it, first as a guide and then as a copywriter....
The long chatty article ends with another reference to "post-tourism":
It would be easy to admit defeat, to become the “post­-tourists” researchers write about, committed to the idea that there’s no such thing as authentic experience so we might as well laugh at it all. That seems like the most boring fate of all....

The parishioners who came to my dad [a pastor] for ad­vice all asked versions of the same question: How can I be free? Free from grief, from anxiety, from anger. Free from the purposelessness of boredom, the result of a dull job or a stale marriage or the tedium of too many identical days in a small town. But, depressed, my dad wasn’t free either; so there they sat, week after week, year after year, prisoners theorizing about their chains. Travel, at least in the books I read, offered to press pause on those questions in order to ask a single question that, if it could be an­swered, would make it one hundred times easier to figure everything else out: Free for what?
Notice that this idea is that ordinary life is a problem and travel helps by removing you from ordinary life, perhaps to give you a new perspective on ordinary life. But if ordinary life is not, for you, a problem — not everyone is depressed — then perhaps you do need to confront the problem of authenticity, because ordinary life is (probably) authentic, and perhaps the answer is post-tourism. 

Here's another article on the subject: "Authentic outsiders? Welcome to the age of the ‘post-tourist.'"
“Post-tourism” is an ambiguous term, certainly, but it invariably suggests something of a departure from everyday “boring” tourism. The rise of the post tourist – as an offshoot of the dreaded hipster and their avoidance of tourist hotspots and maps – is symptomatic of this “tourism-as-performance” phenomenon....

Post tourism abides by narratives of self-righteous struggle, “tourist-shaming” those who continue to visit predictable tourist spots such as the Berlin Wall or the Eiffel Tower. Hence, post tourism is partly defined by an underlying sense of posturing where travelling is concerned.... Any traveller or tourist in another country inevitably remains an outsider.

"Singers with a four-octave vocal range."

A Wikipedia category with links to 48 pages, including one to the page of the singer whose death was memorialized in the first post of the day, here.

ADDED: There are also singers with a 5-octave range — 28 of them! — including Axl Rose.

But "The page 'Singers with a six-octave vocal range' does not exist." All right then. There are limits!

NO. WAIT. There is a Wikipedia category "Singers with a six-octave or greater vocal range." There are 6 names.

On that list is Georgia Brown...
... pseudonym of Rossana Monti (born June 29, 1980) is an Italian Brazilian singer noted for her extensive vocal range. She was listed in the 2005 Guinness World Records for hitting the highest vocal note and for possessing the greatest vocal range for a female, claimed to be exactly 8 octaves from G2-G10 using scientific pitch notation. However, as of 2013, Tim Storms holds the record for the widest vocal range of any human with 10 octaves.

The "Shed of the Year."

I'm giving this the "tiny house" tag, even though these are (mostly) not tiny houses. They're sheds. I just don't like tag proliferation.

Roger Ailes has died.

WaPo had a big obituary ready to go. Excerpt:
As founding chief executive of Fox News in 1996, Mr. Ailes defined the channel in opposition to the traditional journalism of CNN and the liberal bent of MSNBC, and he brought Fox from a distant third to clear dominance, riding to the top along the wave of public dismay that arose over President Bill Clinton’s affair with a White House intern.

Mr. Ailes’ reign at Fox ended abruptly in 2016, in the middle of the presidential campaign, after an on-air host at Fox News, Gretchen Carlson, alleged that Mr. Ailes had sabotaged her career when she refused to have sex with him. Following Carlson’s accusations, 25 other women, including Fox’s most prominent female anchor, Megyn Kelly, came forward to say that Ailes had sexually harassed them over his five decades in the TV business....

In 1996, Murdoch — who concluded when he first met Mr. Ailes that “Either this man is crazy or he has the biggest set of balls I’ve ever seen” — asked him to launch a conservative alternative to CNN. But Fox News Channel would not tout itself as conservative because, as Mr. Ailes said, “if you come out and you try to do right-wing news, you’re gonna die. You can’t get away with it.”

Instead, Mr. Ailes proposed to build a “fair and balanced” news operation in which reporting would blend with largely conservative talk show hosts.

"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed."

Trump is up and tweeting, replete with misspelling.

You know, "counsel" is a hard word to spell because there's also "council," but Trump came up with "councel," perhaps to preserve the argument that he knows the difference between "counsel" and "council." He only got one letter wrong!

He followed the above-quoted tweet with another one: "This is the greatest single witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

Comey kept memos of his conversations with Trump and preserved them "because he presumes someone will want to see them."

The quotation is from an unnamed source in a CNN piece titled "Comey prepped responses ahead of Trump discussions."

The wording here is helpful to those who are taking different positions on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice:
[Comey] was concerned that Trump's suggestion to end the Flynn probe could be an example of obstruction of justice. "It crossed his mind," a person familiar with the matter said, adding "even in its most benign form, it's an improper conversation. You're getting a little too close to the flame."
If we assume all that is true, it seems to me that Comey did not believe that the interaction thus far amounted to a prosecutable crime but that he did see hints of an intention to proceed into the area that would be criminal and he wanted to be careful and observant. Was Trump feeling him out, beginning with ambiguous suggestion and seeing how compliant and easygoing Comey might be? The subsequent summary firing makes me think that is what Trump was doing and he got his answer. Comey was going to be rigorous and independent, and that's not what Trump wanted.

This reminds me of something I've said a number of times about Trump. I don't think he is oriented toward law. The legal framework feels alien to him — a kind of problem or obstacle that must be dealt with, by your lawyers, after you decide what you want to do or — in Trump talk — what you have to do because you have no choice. I'd like to find all the old posts where I've made this observation, but here's one, from March 2016, "Trump's idea of law: 'I want to stay within the law... but we have to increase the law...'":
Perhaps George W. Bush and Barack Obama thought about law the same way, but they didn't say it like this:

As expressed in that clip: Law is respected only in the sense that you acknowledge that when the law is in your way, you'll "increase" the law. Most people would say "change the law," so I'm struck by the locution "increase the law." It's sort of like the way Bush would say things like "Make the pie higher"... but less sunny... and far more sinister...
ADDED: Here's another old post about Trump and the law. It cuts in a somewhat different way, but it shows how his perspective is that of a businessman who uses law when it's to his advantage. It was on "Face the Nation" again, a week later. John Dickerson questioned Trump about his use of H-1B visas and bankruptcy law and tax loopholes: "If you are president, why would anybody follow the laws that you put in place if they knew you were taking advantage of those laws when you were in the private sector?"

Goodbye to Chris Cornell, the Soundgarden frontman.

"Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, has died at 52."

The death was, we're told, “sudden and unexpected."

He even tweeted — as though nothing was wrong — just last night.

Or perhaps another person tweeted for him. A publicist?

He was the best of grunge (and I listened to a lot of grunge in the 90s). What a voice!

ADDED: Cornell had substance abuse problems in the past:
He had struggles with addiction to drugs and alcohol, checking into rehab in 2003 and going sober ever since. “I actually like rehab a lot. It’s like school; it’s interesting. I’m learning that I can be teachable at age 38,” he told Spin magazine that year. “I would sometimes drink before we played. It wasn’t a big deal. It became a bigger deal when I stopped doing the other things I liked to do. I used to ride mountain bikes around with my friends, and we’d keep 40-ouncers where the water bottle was supposed to be. But once I removed the mountain and the bike, there was just the drinking.”
Here's a more stripped down, minimalist video:

AND: Listen to his acoustic version of "Billie Jean."

May 17, 2017

Peak allium!


To my eye, it's the height of the gardens of Meadhouse. There's much more to come, but what a show, these big purple globes!


"Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation."

The NYT reports.
“I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authorities and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” [Deputy Attorney General Rod J.] Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.”
Mueller was the FBI director just before Comey. He began as FBI director on September 4, 2001, that is, immediately before 9/11. He was appointed by George W. Bush and not only continued under Obama, but was asked to stay on an extra 2 years beyond the normal 10 year term.

ADDED: I see no reason not to say this is the perfect move.

AND: NBC reports:
Former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort have emerged as key figures in the FBI's investigation into Russian campaign interference....

Officials say multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests have been issued in connection with the two men during the past six months in the ongoing probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian attempts to influence the election, an inquiry that will now be overseen by former FBI Director Robert Mueller....
ALSO: This is useful: "The Comey memo offers no proof for impeachment of Trump."

"A Creationist Sues the Grand Canyon for Religious Discrimination/The national park wouldn’t let him collect rocks for research."

Writes The Atlantic.
Last week, [Andrew] Snelling sued park administrators and the Department of Interior, which administers the national parks program, because they would not grant him a permit to collect 50 to 60 fist-sized rocks. All research in the national park is restricted, especially if it requires removing material. But the Grand Canyon does host 80 research projects a year, ranging from archaeology digs to trout tracking....

Exactly why the park did not grant Snelling’s application is, of course, now the subject of a lawsuit. His project did involve collecting a sizable number of rocks, which can invite more scrutiny. In an email to Snelling filed as part of the lawsuit, a park officer said the project was not granted because the type of rock he wanted to study can also be found outside of the Grand Canyon. The park solicited peer reviews from three mainstream geologists. One mentioned the rocks could be found elsewhere; all three overwhelmingly denounced the work as not scientifically valid, a criterion the park also uses to evaluate proposals.....
Here's Snelling lecturing about the Grand Canyon:

"You will presently discover that this work is not an apologia. Why should it? To whom should I apologize..."

"... and what difference would it make to anyone? You contain me till death in a concrete box that measures only eight by ten and you expect remorse as well? Remorse is a purely personal matter, not a circus performance."

Wrote Ian Brady in "The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and Its Analysis," quoted in "Ian Brady, Unrepentant Killer of British Children, Dies at 79."

Climate change might explain trees moving north.

But why are they moving west?

"I think running with a dog is a wonderful thing, but it has to be done with just as much care as the person who is running takes."

"The things we encounter are people running with the wrong breed of dogs, forcing dogs to run, and then just doing too much."
Ironically, dogs might be so well adapted to the human environment that it’s easy to overlook the stress some face as pets. Given the resiliency certain breeds have shown in combat, emotional therapy, search and rescue, and other challenging settings, the expectation that they’d handle routine human exercise easily is understandable. And it might seem harmless to push especially active breeds beyond what their owners do themselves, for example by having them run alongside a bicycle....

"Someone with an undersize or underactive amygdala may not be able to feel empathy or refrain from violence."

"For example, many psychopathic adults and callous children do not recognize fear or distress in other people’s faces. Essi Viding, a professor of developmental psychopathology at University College London recalls showing one psychopathic prisoner a series of faces with different expressions. When the prisoner came to a fearful face, he said, 'I don’t know what you call this emotion, but it’s what people look like just before you stab them.'"

From an excellent article in The Atlantic called "When Your Child Is a Psychopath/The condition has long been considered untreatable. Experts can spot it in a child as young as 3 or 4. But a new clinical approach offers hope."

Also: A 6-year old who practiced killing her stuffed animals, choked her 2 year old sister, and, caught before the sister died, clearly stated that she knew what she was doing would kill and, further, “I want to kill all of you.”

Touch his hair and lose your power.

It happened to Jimmy Fallon.

"Prince Rupert's Drops are small glass structures resembling tadpoles that can withstand the blows of a hammer and yet burst into powdery dust if their threadlike tails break."

"They have been a source of fascination and mystery since they were discovered in the 17th century."

ADDED: Here's the WaPo article, "The head of this teardrop-shaped glass can withstand bullets."
Just melt some sort of glass with a high thermal expansion coefficient (i.e. glass that expands upon heating), such as soda-lime glass (the kind used in most bottles, jars and windowpanes), and let a molten drop fall into cold water.

The water immediately cools the outside of the melted glass into a solid, before cooling the inside. This results in strong compressive (or pushing) forces on the outside and strong tensile (or pulling) forces on the inside. The resulting tension, as Smithsonian noted, makes the glass strong, it also means the entire structure is not in equilibrium.

If the tail is broken, the pent-up energy from that tension is suddenly released and cracks shoot through the entire structure at 4,000 miles per hour, which is why the drop then shatters into such a fine dust.

"lol why go to university when you can just sit at home and fail at life and stuff"

Somebody got hold of the UW–Madison official Twitter account.

I think it was the Russians English.  We don't say "go to university" in America. We say go to school and go to college, but we say go to the university (and go to the hospital).

“I had hoped that we had a law like this in place a long time ago."

"Not that the city hasn’t included some public art in our building projects over the years but not to the extent that I wish we had and would have if we had an ordinance in place."

Oh, hell, no.

Why would you remove choice? The public art is almost always bad. It's not going to get any better if it's required. Required art. Disgusting.

Also disgusting: Lawmakers who just have to pass laws about everything they supposedly care about.

And check out the photograph at the link: That's the kind of art these people are enthusing about. That glass monstrosity cost the state $750,000:
Like many pieces of public art around the state, the work was a product of Wisconsin’s Percent for Art Fund. The program, which required that at least .02 percent of construction costs for new or substantially renovated state facilities be spent on public art, was repealed by Gov. Scott Walker and the state Legislature in 2011 and is no more.
Thank you, Scott Walker. You can see why the lawmakers at the Madison city level feel compelled to fill the gap left by the terrible Scott Walker.

The $750,000 doesn't count cost of cleaning all the loopy swoopy glass:
Workers at the Kohl Center painstakingly clean the glass in place twice each year using chicken feathers and cloth baby diapers.
Twice a year. Chicken feathers and cloth baby diapers....

Americans like piece of paper? I have piece of paper.

Comey has memo? Putin has transcript!

Just the idea that there's a piece of paper has a powerful effect on the American mind.

Remember when "the transcript" stopped a presidential candidate so cold he never recovered?
Romney: I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

Obama: Get the transcript.

Crowley: He did, in fact, sir. So let me call it an act of terror in the Rose Garden. He used the word–

Obama: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Applause.)...

"That gazebo out in the water looks stupid."

Said Meade, when I asked him what he thought of the plan for a park over John Nolen Drive here in Madison.

I can't reproduce my response verbatim. I'll just say it contained the phrase "It's Frank Lloyd Wright!" about 10 times. The "gazebo" part of the new design is a boathouse Wright conceived long ago and getting that thing built has been a long-time dream of some people here in Madison...

... and I'm one of the dreamers.

It's Frank Lloyd Wright! I don't care if it looks stupid. It's our stupid. It's Frank Lloyd Wright stupid...

"One of the emotions the writer didn’t name explicitly in her article was that of compersion..."

"... defined as the experience of being happy for your partner’s happiness including when they have had sex with a partner other than yourself. This feeling is hard for committed monogamists to understand and certainly many therapists would have difficulty trusting that this emotion is authentic since we have all been brought up in a world where jealousy seems the norm. It’s not that non-monogamous individuals never feel jealousy, they just work on it in a deeply committed way while also feeling compersion. So when a client of mine is expressing joy that his wife is experiencing a new kind of arousal with her boyfriend, most traditional therapists might look for some sort of pathology as to why this husband isn’t exclusively feeling jealous of his wife’s partner."

From "Open, Non-Monogamous, Poly or Designer Relationships/What the NY Times Article Missed and What Therapists Need to Learn" by sex therapist Sari Cooper in Psychology Today.

Compersion, eh? This is a coinage specific to the polyamory movement. I can see it's been in The Urban Dictionary since 2004. It appears exactly once in the NYT archive — 20 years ago in "They Call It Polyluv"*:
Jealousy, predictably, is a polylover's pox, which is why Loving More and its counterpart, the San Francisco-based Sacred Space Institute, sponsor therapeutic workshops. Facilitators like Deborah Anapol, Sacred Space's director, use exercises like ''jealousy compersion challenge'' (in which you practice feeling glad that your mate is with another) and soothing group massage (above). Hill says several four-or-more-somes have met on Loving More's web site; some have even ''married'' -- with as many as six figurines on the wedding cake.
What's the etymology of that coinage? It looks like it might be a portmanteau of "compassion" and "person." It can't be "compassion" and "perversion." I found an entry in "The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty":
Here's the Wikipedia article on Kerista, in which the great science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein makes a surprising appearance. In 1966, Heinlein wrote to his agent:
"I recently learned that [Stranger in a Strange Land] was considered the 'New Testament' - and compulsory reading - of a far-out cult called 'Kerista.' (Kee-rist!). I don't know exactly what 'Kerista' is, but its L.A. chapter offered me $100 to speak. (I turned them down.)"

* I assume the headline is a deliberate allusion to the old Paul Anka song: And they called it puppy love...

She's so good with a knife.

"Student who stabbed boyfriend may avoid jail as it would ‘damage her career’/Aspiring surgeon Lavinia Woodward admits attack but judge defers sentencing because of her ‘extraordinary’ talent."

It's hard not to see.

On the NYT front page right now:
Here's a Psychology Today article "We See What We Want to See." It gets our attention with Grace Kelly's breasts:
“At the rehearsal for the scene in Rear Window when I wore a sheer nightgown, Hitchcock called for [costume designer] Edith Head. He came over here and said, ‘Look, the bosom is not right, we’re going to have to put something in there.’ He was very sweet about it; he didn't want to upset me, so he spoke quietly to Edith. We went into my dressing room and Edith said, ‘Mr. Hitchcock is worried because there’s a false pleat here. He wants me to put in falsies.’

“‘Well,’ I said, ‘You can't put falsies in this, it’s going to show—and I'm not going to wear them.’ And she said, ‘What are we going to do?’ So we quickly took it up here, made some adjustments there, and I just did what I could and stood as straight as possible—without falsies. When I walked out onto the set Hitchcock looked at me and at Edith and said, ‘See what a difference they make?’”
And here's a Buzzfeed listicle, "22 People Who Found Jesus In Their Food." Here he is — #16 — in the Marmite:

The Yale dean's Yelp reviews use phrases like "white trash," "low class folks," and "barely educated morons."

WaPo reports under this faux-naive headline: "Yale dean once championed cultural sensitivity. Then she called people ‘white trash’ on Yelp." As if it's a puzzling paradox that an elite administrator would propound the usual diversity pap and actually view nonelites with contempt.

The most uncalled-for word in that headline is "once." I can't believe the dean — her name is June Chu — doesn't continually "champion cultural sensitivity." That's built into her job and no trouble to do. It would be trouble not to do. What dean at an elite — or nonelite — institution of higher education would renounce cultural sensitivity? It would take a very strangely bold dean to say: Hey, snowflakes, how about some old-school insensitivity for a change?*

But on her own, outside of work, Chu does some social media, and she doesn't talk like a dean, she talks like a person on social media. She's cheeky and tweaky. It's like Trump on Twitter.

Now, another way to look at this is that Chu felt empowered by her own status as a member of a minority group. Her non-PC language came in the context of an Asian restaurant she thinks is bad:
“If you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you!” Chu wrote in a review about a Japanese restaurant, which she said lacked authenticity but was perfect for “those low class folks who believe this is a real night out.”

“Side note: employees are Chinese, not Japanese,” added Chu, who identifies in one review as Chinese American. In another restaurant review she said, “I guess if you were a white person who has no clue what mochi is, this would be fine for you.”
She was  comically wielding a little Asian privilege. Not that she defended herself that way. She apologized and deleted her Yelp account. 
"My remarks were wrong. There are no two ways about it."
I disagree. I see at least 2 ways, but there aren't 2 ways about which way is the easiest way.


* Imagine saying something like "I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious, a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?”

May 16, 2017

The ant and the peony.


There's always an ant on the peony.

"When you have to deal with examination, cross-examination, et cetera, et cetera, more than two sides to every story, sometimes it’s four or five."

"And what people want to say and want you to say and how they maneuver, and, yes, I do have lawyers protect me — objection; sustained. But I just don’t want to sit there and have to figure out what I believe is a truthful answer to whether or not I’m opening a can of something that my lawyers are scrambling.... If a jury says so forth and so on, there’s still public opinion. And if the jury comes for the other side of the so forth and so on, it’s still public opinion. So I think it’s something that you never will be able to satisfy all minds and all behaviors. I know the side that I’m on and the side that I’m hoping for."

Said Bill Cosby.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.... He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

Trump said to Comey, according to a memo by Comey, as reported in the NYT.
Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations....
I'd like to know more about the basis for saying "An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations." I'm guessing that's a reference to the admissibility of the evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule (803(6)). The weight to be given the evidence depends on all of the circumstances. By the way, it's double hearsay, since we're asked not only to believe what Comey wrote but the unnamed individuals who told the NYT about the memo. The NYT has not seen a copy of the memo.

But let's assume the memo exists and says what you read quoted in the post title. How bad is it to say Flynn is a "good guy" and to express "hope" about the outcome? The headline has a pretty aggressive paraphrase of the quote. It reads: "Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation."

The asking is at most only implicit in what is a declarative statement: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go." That's just Trump revealing what he hopes for. There's no question at all, let alone any pressure or threat. And "see your way clear" is a delicate phrase. That's not saying do it my way. Go your way. And if your path is clear and it gets you to the outcome I hope for, then I will get what I want, but I'm assuming you will go where you see it clear.

Here's the White House response to the memo:
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey."

"Risking 60 Lashes, Iranian Runs for Office So He Can Walk a Dog."

The NYT reports.
[Payam Mohebi, the city’s star veterinarian], who is running for one of the 21 seats on Tehran’s City Council, is shown on the posters posing with a stray dog. In most countries, that would hardly turn a head. But in Iran, where the ruling clerics consider dogs impure, taking one for a walk risks the arrest of the owner and the seizure, and possible extermination, of the animal.

The doctor says he knows about all that, but is willing to take the risk. “I’m doing this so that one seat in the City Council will be for the animals,” he said. “They live with us, we love them, they have rights too.”...

In 2002, he started Tehran’s first pet hospital at a time when few people there had dogs and cats... “People said I was crazy, but I saw change coming.... Iranians wanted pets.”... 
3 years ago, Parliament increased the penalty for owning a dog to $2,500 and 60 lashes — plus death for the dog.
“We have one million pets in this city — what are they thinking?” Dr. Mohebi said. “There is a massive gap between our politicians and us.”

If he is elected, Dr. Mohebi said, there will be no more killings. “We should have special parks for dogs instead, like we have special women-only parks for women who want to go running without their Islamic scarves,” he said.

Ballet's rape problem.

Siobhan Burkemay, writing in the NYT, is fed up with the "sleek, unexamined images of violence against women" that are "pervasive in contemporary ballet."
By “images of violence against women,” I mean not just depictions of violent acts but also the kind of forceful partnering that’s become so ubiquitous, so gratuitous, so banal in ballet — the yanking, dragging, prying open of women’s bodies by men — both with and without a narrative pretext....

Men lifting, turning, supporting women — it’s part of ballet’s DNA. But there are ways to work within these traditions, or subvert them, that give women equal power and agency, or at least try to....
She's gotten some pushback. Her colleague Alastair Macaulay "asked whether my call for 'no more' was a call for censorship: 'Must works of art only depict people behaving correctly?'" Of course, she answers no. It's not that the characters in the story need to behave well. The question, she says, is whether the artists are taking serious matters seriously or whether they are using violence against women as a cheap thrill:
If artists want to deal with rape, gang or otherwise, as subject matter, they should, as they should grapple with any difficult issue. But they must really deal with it: Say something. Don’t just toss it in as one more incidental plot twist, one more exquisite thing to behold. Acknowledge its urgency, its complexity and the fact that to many in the audience, it may not be so abstract....

"I just love living here. So you just get into it... It’s fun. It’s fun to get involved where you live. And this is where I live."

"I’m a registered voter here. I have my Wisconsin driver’s license.... I’ve been here over 12 years and I love it out here.... I wanted to really ingrain myself in the culture and the people. And I apologize about having an allergy to dairy products that gives me some irritable bowels. But other than that, I mean, I’ve embraced just about everything else Wisconsin..."

Said Aaron Rodgers (who grew up in California).

At the Cute Bug Café...


... you hear the latest insect politics.

(And, please, consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

After a drug search, a cop brushes some residue off his shirt and within minutes falls to the floor overdosing.

“I started talking weird. I slowly felt my body shutting down. I could hear them talking, but I couldn’t respond. I was in total shock. ‘No way I’m overdosing,’ I thought.”
Patrolman Rob Smith grabbed [Patrolman Chris] Green as he began to fall to the floor, and the ambulance crew already there....

“Apparently, I was in denial. I denied the [opiod antidote] Narcan,” Green said, until other officers insisted and eventually, at the hospital, three additional doses had to be given to completely revive him....

Chief John Lane agreed, saying his officer is lucky the effects hit him before he left the station that night. “If he would have been alone, he would have been dead. That’s how dangerous this stuff is. What if he went home and got it on his family members?... We’re going to try and seize that car and destroy it. How do we neutralize it? It only takes one granule (of carfentanyl) to kill an adult...”

And yet Google used "tackle," a football metaphor. I call sexism on Google.

Kimball's screen shot is of the main Google search page, and that line "See how machine learning is helping us tackle gender bias in movies" is hot linked by Google to a Google article titled "The women missing from the silver screen and the technology used to find them/New research offers hard data on gender disparities in film. How might the characters we see on-screen affect the roles we play in society?"