June 10, 2017

In the Semi-Circle Café...


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(And we'd like you to use The Althouse Amazon Portal if you have any shopping to do. Maybe you need an aesthetically pleasing lawn mower like Meade's.)

Not a design flaw.

3 of 14 tweets by J.K. Rowling, apparently provoked by somebody who called Theresa May a whore.

"Oh! Oh! Oh, no!" gasps a young woman on State Street this morning in Madison, Wisconsin.

She's wearing a tight black dress that's heavily embroidered in metallic gold in the 80° heat, and she looking at her iPhone and pausing to give her girlfriends time to strain to see what has happened.

She relieves their anxiety: "Batman's dead!"

(The actor, Adam West, TV's Batman, has died at the age of 88.)

Picturing the surface of the moon in 1879.

From the book Recreations in Astronomy by H. D. Warren D. D. (1879), from the Wikipedia page "Selenography." Selenography is the study of the surface of the moon.
The idea that the Moon was not perfectly smooth can be traced as far back as approximately 450 BC, when Democritus believed that there were "lofty mountains and hollow valleys" on the Moon. However, it was not until the end of the 15th century when serious study of selenography began... The systematic mapping of the Moon officially began in 1779 when Johann Schröter started making meticulous observations and measurements of the lunar features. The first published large map of the Moon, four sheets in size, was published in 1834... All measurements were done by direct observation until March 1840, when J.W. Draper, using a five-inch reflector, produced a daguerreotype of the Moon....
Here's that daguerreotype:

"Comey confirms that I'm right — and all the Democratic commentators are wrong."

Writes Alan Dershowitz.
Now that even former Director Comey has acknowledged that the Constitution would permit the president to direct the Justice Department and the FBI in this matter, let us put the issue of obstruction of justice behind us once and for all and focus on the political, moral, and other non-criminal aspects of President Trump’s conduct.

Comey’s testimony was devastating with regard to President Trump’s credibility – at least as Comey sees it. He was also critical of President Trump’s failure to observe the recent tradition of FBI independence from presidential influence. These are issues worth discussing but they have been distorted by the insistence of Democratic pundits that Trump must have committed a crime because they disagree with what he did politically.
ADDED: What's so good about that is not the legal analysis but the recognition of the priority of political analysis. I'm seeing way too much "legal" analysis that follows political opinion, and I believe that the political analysis is, for nearly everyone, prior to the legal analysis. So let's increase the chances of accuracy, honesty, and persuasiveness, by talking about what we are probably really thinking about: the politics. And I don't mean are we pro- or anti-Trump. If that's all it is, there's nothing special to talk about here. I mean the positive value and the risks of an independent FBI and positive value and the risks of a President influencing, exerting pressure on, or overriding the FBI. In that light, did Trump do something wrong?

"Scientists reduce fear of death by using virtual reality to induce an out-of-body experience."

"The researchers used a virtual reality simulation to induce what is known as the 'full body ownership illusion.'..."

You can't just hug Jerry Seinfeld. In fact, you can't even assume he knows who you are when you're a celebrity.

In fact, you can't even assume that if he knew which celebrity you are he'd want to hug you.

And isn't he absolutely correct? Look at how Kesha embodies precisely what Donald Trump was talking about when he (very famously) said:
"I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."
It didn't work for Kesha, because Seinfeld didn't know who she was. Within her world, she's a star and when she wants to hug, apparently, she gets her hugs. They let her do it.

And maybe Jerry would have rebuffed the hug even if he did recognize her. Here he is, talking about the incident after the video went viral:
"In my reality… I don’t hug a total stranger. I have to meet someone, say hello. I gotta start somewhere. Hug isn’t first moment of a human, two humans. I never did that."

"I got a borderline harassment case here!"
The assumption that men always want physical contact with attractive/youngish women might be as bad as the atTrumption that when a man's a star the women let him do anything. (And I know, I'm not a man, and I expect you to school me about how men feel, but it doesn't matter if 90% of men want women — young, attractive women — to fling themselves into the man's arms and hug and kiss him. The 10% matter. And the 90% deserve to be asked for an indication of consent before the desired thing is transformed into a reality.)

ADDED: No means no. Jerry gives Kesha a no and she doesn't accept the no. She pressures him before finally giving up. Men get to say no too. Kesha displays the classic double standard, that the male no doesn't matter, that the much-reviled "no means yes" idea lives on.

The perils of serving as a mainstream media religion pundit.

With mainstream power comes the responsibility to be mainstream.

I don't know why Reza Aslan didn't know that already, but he learned it the hard way.

CNN canceled his "Believer" show after he tweeted that Donald Trump is a "piece of shit." Damn it. I'm reading mainstream media reports of the firing, and I have to do separate research to figure out if Aslan wrote "piece of shit" or "piece of s—."*

Aslan tried to apologize. He said: "I should have used better language to express my shock and frustration at the president’s lack of decorum and sympathy for the victims of London. I apologize for my choice of words."

But he was stepping cloddishly on CNN's hate-Trump game. CNN goes very far in reviling Trump continually. But to blurt right out that Trump is a "piece of shit" impinges on CNN's illusion that it's some sort of a journalism enterprise. CNN is going as far as it thinks it can. How dare Aslan blithely overstep that line!


* He wrote "piece of shit."

Bill Maher nonapologizes and gets grudging absolution from Michael Eric Dyson (who — see if you notice — has a book he wants to sell).

Meade and I just watched that — with a lot of pausing and conversation. And I don't want — at least not right now — to have to watch it again to pinpoint where I'm seeing all these things, so I'm just going to list them for now:

1. Maher only nonapologizes. He declares his "apology" "sincere," but he's only sorry about the pain it must have caused some people. (Did it really cause pain or just outrage and a bristling awareness of entitlement to control who can use that word?)

2. Both men are uncomfortable. Dyson knows he's being used to embody the set of people who claim entitlement to control the use of that word, and he knows other people in the set might not like his taking on this role, especially for the obvious purpose of getting Maher through his tribulations.

3. Dyson does not purely represent the people on whose behalf he gives absolution, because he's Maher's "friend," which seems to mean that he's been on the show before. He's a go-to guest because he serves a purpose, Maher's purpose. Dyson's willingness to be on the show seems to have a lot to do with selling books. Count how many times Dyson refers to his book (which is called "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America"). At one point, Maher says something that makes Dyson uncomfortable and Dyson begins a sentence "My book, my book, my book...."

4. Maher is uncomfortable, visibly squirming. We rewound to get more laughs out of the squirming. I felt as though I could read a thought bubble: Is this enough yet? Can I make him go now?

5. At the outset, it's established that Maher has been anti-apology over the years. He thinks people apologize too much, but he concedes that sometimes an apology is appropriate and that this is one of those times. But why? I think the answer is not because it caused some pain and he's not about causing pain, but because he wants to keep his HBO show. He's fighting for his show. He lost a show once before because of something he said, and he's doing what he must to keep this one. By the end of the colloquy with Dyson, Maher is back to responding to Dyson's sermonettes with sentences that begin with the word "but."

6. Maher speaks of his "political capital," and he's irked that this incident "cost" him political capital. He starts to say that he "spent" political capital, but he changes the word to "cost." He didn't spend capital, he only accidentally allowed some political capital to drain away. He wants political capital so that he can spend it on things that really matter to him, and he's irked that he lost some on a meaningless interchange with Ben Sasse about visiting Nebraska.

7. Maher's central excuse (or justification) is that he's a comedian. It's inherent in the nature of the work that he blurts out zingers. It's the kind of thing that's going to happen. He's got to take that risk, just like a quarterback has to throw passes even though there will be some interceptions. That's his analogy, and I hear him to be saying there will be other things like this. He's not delivering the full apology that includes the element of insuring it won't happen again. He's pretty much warning us that it will happen again. He'd just like the line-crossing to happen over something that's worth it and not some damn thing about working in the fields of Nebraska.

8. The notion of "evolving" comes up multiple times. He also calls himself a "monkey," but not in the context of evolution. "Evolution" is used to say he's evolving on something about race or sensitivity in talking about race or something. "Monkey" is used in the context of portraying himself as a comedian, doing impulsive antics for the amusement of the crowd. When he says the word "monkey" — referring to himself — Dyson issues a caution. There's danger ahead. Maher, jumping for comedy, said "monkey" in the midst of a discussion of race. He could be heading into a new round of racial discipline.

9. Dyson reads a text from his son, something about how some white people acquire a privilege to use the word, but the good "white boys" with the privilege don't exercise it. Dyson tells us over and over again that Maher has been great over the years on racial issues, which might put him in that category of white boys who are privileged to use the n-word, but Maher failed to fit Dyson's son's definition of a good n-word-privileged white boy because he exercised the privilege.

10. Watch Dyson as he expatiates on Maher's virtues. He will not make eye-contact.

June 9, 2017

"No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker," said Trump about Comey.

And asked whether he'd testify under oath about his conversations with Comey, Trump said "100%."

So why was he coy about whether there are tapes of the meetings?
"I am not hinting at anything. I will tell you about it over a very short period of time," Trump said, twice declining to elaborate.

He later said reporters were "going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer."
What's the most likely reason Trump didn't just give an instant, straight answer about whether there are tapes of the meetings?

pollcode.com free polls

* I got this figure of speech from Comey's testimony (which I discussed here). Comey claimed that he used an intermediary to leak his memo to the press because reporters were "camping at the end of [his] driveway," so for him to just hand them something "would be like feeding seagulls at the beach."

UPDATE, June 22, 2017: Trump Trump comes out with a 2-part tweets:
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea...

...whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
And let me front-page the final results on that poll:

"A glove, Ann. A glove."

Says robother in the comments to my post about Trump's tweet, which I paraphrased as saying "Comey didn't lay a hand on him."

If an attempted attack fails, what's the right idiomatic expression? 1. Didn't lay a hand on..., 2. Didn't lay a finger on..., or 3. Didn't lay a glove on?

Or are all these good but different slightly?

Does the "glove" one convey the image of a boxer or of an aristocrat?

Is the "hand" one sexual as in "My eyes adored you though I never laid a hand on you..."?

"I know of employers who are turning down work because they don’t have the manpower to do it."

"We are still seeing a sizable demand for skilled workers in manufacturing."
Milwaukee Forge says it’s looking for people with at least two years of manufacturing experience but not necessarily at a forge shop, where steel is heated to 2,000 degrees and hammered into shape...

“These guys are craftsmen. What they do is an art form.... It’s not easy to find people … and we aren’t just taking anybody who walks in off the street. We are looking for long-term relationships"....

"Good Lord, yes, this job market is good if you’re interested in manufacturing"....

He persisted.

"I don’t hear her say anything. And I don’t feel her say anything. And so I continue, and I go into the area that is somewhere between permission and rejection."

From Bill Cosby's 2004 deposition, read to the jury yesterday.

In Wisconsin, when the dogs hunting bears are killed by wolves...

... the state pays the dog owner $2,500. And we taxpayers were on the hook for 41 dogs last year.

What's going on? Hunters put "millions of gallons of food byproducts" in the woods to lure bears and then dogs are used to chase the bears up into trees where they can be shot. The food also attracts wolves, and the wolves kill dogs. Some people think the hunters deliberate "run bear hounds through wolf packs" to get the $2,500.

I'm not expressing any opinion here, just asking for yours. 

Blogging this morning is not as light as it looks.

I'm working — perhaps way too hard — on finishing a post I began last night, "Let's read the Comey transcript." I've been republishing that post, adding things to it as I make my way through the transcript.

Here's what I just added this morning:
On to Roy Blunt, who needles Comey about why he was willing to keep working under Trump. Comey affirms that if he hadn't been fired, he'd still be working under Trump. Blunt suggests that the story Comey is telling today is the view "in retrospect," influenced by his having been fired. He didn't resign and, before the firing, he didn't let the Justice Department know about his misgivings.

Comey says that "at some point... I was sure we were going to brief it to the [Justice Department] team in charge of the case." And, Comey notes, he tried to keep the Attorney General from getting "kicked out of the room." He said to the Attorney General "I report to you. It is very important you be between me and the white house."

Blunt gets back to the subject of Comey's leaking the memo about the Flynn conversation.
BLUNT: So you didn't consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document. You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?

COMEY: Correct. I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.... My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.

BLUNT: So why didn't you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party?

COMEY: Because I was [wary] the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point. I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I worried it would be [like] feeding seagulls at the beach[, i]f it was I who gave it to the media. I asked my friend, make sure this gets out.
I had to go back to the video to understand the "feeding seagulls at the beach" remark. The bracketed material you see there is my correction of the transcript. I'm using Politico's transcript, by the way, and the mistakes, notably in punctuation, are irritating. The comma after "beach" is crucial to understanding. It's also important that the word was "wary," not, as Politico has it, "weary." Comey wasn't tired of the press, but vigilant. They were like seagulls, flocking where they anticipated feeding, and Comey didn't want to appear to be feeding these scavengers or didn't want to reward them for hanging out in his driveway.

Blunt hasn't got enough time left to do anything but muse that Comey "create[d] a source close to the former director of the FBI as opposed to taking responsibility yourself." Yes, but so what? Was this another instance of a failure of courage? Is Comey improperly tending to his personal image?

Angus King — an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats — goes next. There's what sounds like a rehearsed dialogue that gets bungled (perhaps because Comey doesn't trust King to get his line out):
KING: [W]hen a president of the United States in the Oval Office says something like, I hope or I suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive?

COMEY: Yes. It rings in my ear as, well, will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest.

KING: I was just going to quote that, in 1179, December 27th, Henry II said, who will rid me of the meddlesome priest, and the next day, he was killed. [Thomas a Becket.] Exactly the same situation. We're thinking along the same lines.
The bracketed name is heard in the video but missing (with no indication of an omission) in the Politico transcript. Lame.

King's "Exactly the same situation" is a tad overeager. And he screws up the quote. Not only is what Trump said not "exactly the same," Comey's quote "will no one rid me..." isn't even exactly the same as King's version "who will rid me...." In Senator King's version, Henry is asking who will do it. In Comey's version, Henry is expressing displeasure that it may not happen. Who got the quote right? It's not clear exactly what Henry said all those many years ago. There's no recorded recollection memo, but an oral tradition.

According to Wikipedia, the most common quote is "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" but according to the historian Simon Schama, what Henry really said was: "What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?"

We don't really know what Henry said, but we do know that it was taken as a directive to kill Thomas Beckett. And the analogue here is that Comey took Trump's remark as a directive. The puzzle remains whether it was a directive. We should all understand that leaders may express themselves in enigmatic ways that are useful to keep themselves above the fray but that the underlings know how to interpret. We still need to think carefully about particular assertions that something that wasn't said was implied.

Next is Senator Lankford, who wonders why Trump used such a light touch if he really wanted to stop the investigation. Why not be explicit? It is that "he doesn't have the authority"?
COMEY: I'm not a legal scholar, [so smarter people answer this better,] but as a legal matter, the president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this, but [direct that anybody be investigated or anybody not be investigated]. I think he has the legal authority. All of us ultimately report in the executive branch to the president.
If the President can do that but didn't, does that mean he didn't want his vague expression to be taken as a directive? That would have been my follow up, and I assume that Comey would have said Trump may have found it more convenient to avoid taking responsibility for the action if Comey had done what Trump wanted....

After a no-tweet day, Trump tweets.

Yesterday's silence was effective. This tweet is getting maximum attention, and the foregoing silence gives resonance to today's message: Comey didn't lay a hand on him.

In The NYT and The Washington Post, the British election tops the Comey story.

Maybe there's some principle of journalism that dictates that a foreign election gets front-page priority over domestic news, but I looked at these pages this morning and thought: The Comey testimony — so hyped on yesterday's front pages — fizzled.

Here's The NYT:
And here's The Washington Post:
Sometimes the going-big gamble backfires.  After the intense promotion of the Comey testimony before it took place, I think The New York Times and The Washington Post would have doubled down if they'd drawn any good cards at yesterday's hearing.

IN THE COMMENTS: Biotrekker said:
Not the NYT print edition in NYC. It is a full banner about Comey and goes full Trump Derangement Syndrome. "Comey Bluntly Raises Possibility of Trump Obstruction and Condemns His ‘Lies’"
I can see the facsimile of the front-page of New York edition at nytimes.com:

June 8, 2017

Let's read the Comey transcript.

I watched about an hour or so live on TV, skipped some, and heard the end on the car radio, but I didn't want to write anything without the transcript. I can't bear to read the news analysis, which I have good reason to assume will be slanted. I could spend my time parsing the slantedness, but I've got the transcript, and I want to live-blog my reading of the transcript. Ready?
SEN. RICHARD BURR [Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence]: There are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement... 
Here's where we discussed Comey's 7-page statement. I said I wanted to hear "what Comey and Trump meant by their shared silent gazing into each other's eyes, by their coming to rest upon the slippery phrase 'honest loyalty,' and the mystery of 'that thing' in 'we had that thing, you know.'"

The questions Burr stated at the outset were:

The dog that didn't bark.

The Trump that didn't tweet.

BUT: Trump, Jr. peeped.

At the Daytime TV-Watchers Café...

... you can talk about the Comey hearings (and whatever Trump might happen to tweet about them).

"Around 100 employees nationwide participated, wearing only their sneakers and black work aprons, emblazoned with 'Get Naked.'"

"On an Instagram post showing several nearly nude workers, Lush said its 'brave lushies across North America (voluntarily) stripped down to shed light on the detrimental impact of over-packaging.'"

Lush sells cosmetics.

You know, if you really care about the environment, you could resist buying cosmetics altogether. If you're that upset about "packaging," why stop at the problem of "over-packaging"? Don't buy any packaged product unless it's really necessary. Makeup never is. They should shut down the business if they are sincere. If they are not sincere, they are using their employees' naked asses to sell more products — unnecessary, packaged products.

The NYT shines a spotlight on daytime drinking: "Free Drinks and Viewing Parties for ‘Must-See TV.'"

This is on the front-page of the NYT website right now:

Here's the article: "Must-See TV’: Free Drinks and Canceled Meetings for Comey’s Testimony."

I think the most important thing right now for Trump antagonists is to see if they can bring along the mass of ordinary Americans — people who are going to work and tending to their own affairs — to get them outraged and activated over "that thing" Trump and Comey might have had.

Toward that cause, I think sober attention and deep, patriotic concern should be the demeanor they would want to display to the public. . But here's the NYT:
The schedule has been cleared and the popcorn readied at Evergreen Partners, a strategic communications firm in central New Jersey, where the rule for employees on Thursday morning is simple: No client talk while James B. Comey is speaking.

“We canceled meetings when we saw what time it was on,” said the firm’s president, Karen J. Kessler, who is planning a cheese-and-crackers spread by her office’s 60-inch screen. “It’s must-see TV.”

Americans do not agree on much these days. But millions are expected to pause on Thursday to take in a spectacle already being compared to other political-cultural touchstones, like the Army-McCarthy hearings and Anita Hill’s testimony about Clarence Thomas. 
Incredible! Not just the hype and the too-early drooling for blood, but the disregard for the demands of working life for active, engaged American adults. Everything will be available on the internet this evening. Who are these people going public with their plan to take off from work and drink and watch a congressional hearing? This strikes me as utterly deranged (as well as creepily privileged). How is looking deranged and economically privileged going to draw in the ordinary Americans you're going to need if you're going to get this Destroy Trump bandwagon rolling?
“They really should declare a national holiday,” said Sally Quinn, the journalist and the doyenne of Washington’s social circuit, “since no work is going to get done.”

Enterprising establishments have been quick to capitalize on the Super Bowl-like atmosphere. At Union Pub in Washington, a sports bar steps from the Hart Senate Office Building, bartenders plan to dole out a free round of Budweisers or bourbon shots every time Mr. Trump blasts out a tweet.

For those wondering: No, there will not be a limit. “We’ll give out 20 rounds” if the president tweets 20 times, Ashley Saunders, the bar’s general manager, said in an interview.

As she spoke, Ms. Saunders was testing a way to create a huge display of Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed that would run alongside the live coverage on the bar’s 18 television screens — the better for her Capitol Hill clientele to follow any presidential play-by-play.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if people took half-days or take the day off,” Ms. Saunders said. “If I had a normal job, I don’t know what I’d be doing.”
Well, I'm not surprised a bar is encouraging daytime drinking. Saunders's idea sounds like something cooked up by a team on an "Apprentice" challenge (if "The Apprentice" ever had anything alcohol-related).

In the lower paragraphs of the article, NYT tries to reach into Trump's America:
A dive bar 1,400 miles away from the nation’s capital, Jimmy’s is popular with military veterans like Doug Samuels, a retired Navy officer who voted for Mr. Trump. Nursing a Bud Light on Wednesday, Mr. Samuels said he was unlikely to watch the Comey broadcast live.

“I’d rather just listen to the pundits discuss it afterward,” he said, a display of pro-Trump bumper stickers on a nearby table’s legs.
He sounds so sober. By the way, what weird writing: "he said, a display of pro-Trump bumper stickers on a nearby table’s legs." When Sally Quinn says something, the "said" clause is followed by "the journalist and the doyenne of Washington’s social circuit." When the guy 1,400 miles out of Washington says something, the "said" clause is followed by something about what's on the leg of nearby table.

There may be real pro-Trump stickers on the table legs at Jimmy's, but there are metaphorical anti-Trump stickers all over The New York Times.

What sets great writers apart from the pack is they don't write like this.

"What sets great writers apart from the pack is their ability to connect with readers on a visceral level. We feel their work in our brains and in our guts, in the blood coursing in our veins and the adrenaline swelling our necks, in the way our hearts contract with pain or swell with joy as we read."

Yeesh. Is that bad. From the twee "coursing" to the unwitting repetition of "swell," it's laughably bad.

That's "The Rambling Glory of Bob Dylan's Nobel Speech" by Alexandra Schwartz in The New Yorker. Schwartz won the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing for 2014. The hell.

ADDED: Does adrenaline swell your neck? I Googled:

I'd rather do my reading without the swollen neck.

AND: In David Sedaris's "Diaries," there's an entry from 1997 where he's publishing something in The New Yorker and he notices "four repetitions of the phrase 'we’re hoping.'" He takes the initiative to point this out to the editor, who says, “Man, you’re like a self-cleaning oven!”

PLUS: Here's my write-up of the Dylan speech.

The fear of terrorism can kill.

Look how one mentally disturbed woman making noise caused a stampede on the NYC subway yesterday.
An emotionally disturbed woman who somehow scared riders on a B train near Central Park West sparked a panic at the height of Wednesday's morning rush, with straphangers tweeting about "mass evacuations" and "people stampeding," authorities said.
Just the day before, we heard about passengers panicking on the NYC subway that just got stuck between stations for an hour.

June 7, 2017

The text of Comey's 7-page opening statement.

I read it. Have you? If not, here, read, get ready for the big or not so big hearing tomorrow.

Get ready to hear a dissection of what Comey and Trump meant by their shared silent gazing into each other's eyes, by their coming to rest upon the slippery phrase "honest loyalty," and the mystery of "that thing" in "we had that thing, you know."

"Here’s one of the coolest airline campaigns you’ll see aimed at folks who are too impecunious to actually fly anywhere."

AdWeek loves this Delta Airlines thing.

"Too much is too much!" says the severed head of Theresa May on the cover of the new Charlie Hebdo.

Via AdWeek, where Richard Horgan says: "From a U.S. perspective, it’s impossible not to think of the wrath that descended upon comedian Kathy Griffin last week for her posed, bloody Trump image shot by Tyler Shields."

"Have you ever watched those old clips of Steve Allen interviewing people, when he plays the piano?"

Bob Dylan's business manager asked Alan Pasqua, the jazz pianist who ended up providing the background music for Dylan's Nobel speech. Pasqua said yeah, and Dylan's business manager said, "Well, we need some of that kind of music."

Here's the audio of Bob Dylan's speech, with Pasqua playing in the background.

Here's what Steve Allen was like, interviewing while playing the piano. I picked the one where he's interviewing Jack Kerouac:

The first tinkling notes and I thought: "If Dogs Run Free." That's the spoken-word piece on the great 1970 Dylan album, "New Morning." That's Al Kooper on the piano, perhaps taking instruction to play like Steve Allen. Or... it says here the Dylan wrote that the piano playing was in the style of Teddy Wilson, and it seems that Steve Allen learned some things from Teddy Wilson.

That last link goes to a Rolling Stone list of the 10 worst Bob Dylan songs (based on a reader poll), which put "If Dogs Run Free" in 6th place.

"Make like a Mister Milquetoast and you'll get shut out/Make like a Mister Meek and you'll get cut out/Make like a little lamb, and wham, you're shorn..."

Just a song that came on the car radio today and caught my attention. I thought the lyrics had some resonance for Americans today — one man advising another man to amplify his masculinity. Even better with the video clip — from a movie I've never seen, based on a 1961 Neil Simon play.

"There’s a reason no one has ever seen a big-screen version of Catcher in the Rye or Franny and Zooey."

"In the late ‘40s, J.D. Salinger consented to have his short story Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut made into a movie retitled My Foolish Heart. He was so mortified by the swooning love story that he swore his works would never be butchered again."

From "11 Authors Who Hated the Movie Versions of Their Books."

This is a very scratched up old promo for the movie but it really puts across how dreadfully schmaltzy the thing was:

Snopes takes on the man mowing his lawn while a tornado rages in the background...

... and marks it true.
“I literally took the picture to show my mum and dad in South Africa, ‘Look there’s a tornado,’ and now everyone is like, ‘Why is your husband mowing the lawn?”‘ Cecilia Wessels said Saturday....

Anthony Burgess invented slang for "A Clockwork Orange" and began to write a dictionary for it.

He never finished, and, worse, the thing was lost. But now it's found.
What survives are 6x4 slips of paper on which each entry is typed. There are 153, 700 and 33 slips for the letters A, B and Z respectively.
Anna Edwards, the archivist of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, said:
"We found the surviving fragments of the dictionary at the bottom of a large cardboard box, packed underneath some old bedsheets. I suppose the reason for not finding this earlier is that the box seemed to be full of household objects, not literary papers.”...
There are a few entries reproduced at the link (which goes to The Guardian), including:
Abdabs (the screaming) – Fit of nerves, attack of delirium tremens, or other uncontrollable emotional crisis. Perhaps imitative of spasm of the jaw, with short, sharp screams....

Abortion – Anything ugly, ill-shapen, or generally detestable: ‘You look a right bloody abortion, dressed like that’; ‘a nasty little abortion of a film’ (Australian in origin)....
This makes me think of a topic I'd been contemplating writing about: the problem of making a movie out of a book. I'm thinking about it today because I finally got the DVD of "The Mosquito Coast" that I ordered. While waiting for the movie, I read the book. Now, I'm trying to watch the movie without being dogged by thoughts about what's different from the book or not as good as the book, etc. etc. I was just reading a lot of articles about why it's so hard to make satisfying book-based movies (unless the book is rather bad (e.g., "The Godfather")).

With that in the background of my thoughts — and I'd just read about how Stephen King didn't like Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining" — writing this post made me wonder what Anthony Burgess thought of Stanley Kubrick's version of "Clockwork Orange." I found this quote:

"Is Madison’s flag offensive?"

"Some troubled by appropriation of Zia Pueblo symbol."

Is Madison's flag offensive?
pollcode.com free polls

Free Michelle Carter.

This is a ridiculous prosecution.

The Left Is Eating Itself...

... a Google search.

"WikiLeaks Declares War on The Intercept," according to The Daily Beast.

"The FBI says a reporter led it to an NSA leaker. Julian Assange says that person, whom he suspects is an Intercept reporter, is a ‘menace’ to sources, journalists, and democracy."

Bill Maher's ex-girlfriend — who unsuccessfully sued him for $9 million because he didn't marry her — is talking to TMZ...

... and expressing herself:
We got Coco [Johnson] Tuesday at Burbank Airport, and she told us she believes Bill simply thought it was no big deal and no one would care that he jokingly referred to himself as a "house n*****."... She thinks Bill could use some sensitivity training courtesy of the NAACP.
Sensitivity training for comedians? That doesn't sound right.

"This sounds like a retreat from the ‘Wisconsin Idea,’ which says that our universities have a right and a responsibility to address important questions, not to stay on the sidelines."

"This idea has served our state and guided the state university system for more than a hundred years, and it would be a mistake to step back from it now.... School officials should not be prohibited from reassuring students — especially students of color and LGBT students, who are singled out by the protected speech of other students, professors or invited speakers — that the school does not agree with hostile speakers and that it welcomes all students."

Said Chris Ott, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, criticizing the Campus Free Speech bill, which would require "That each institution shall strive to remain neutral, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day, and may not take action, as an institution, on the public policy controversies of the day in such a way as to require students or faculty to publically [sic] express a given view of social policy."

Here's the whole bill. I cut and pasted from the Cap Times. The word "publicly" is not misspelled in the original.

"I was kind of laughing, to be honest with you. For a guy like me to do that is crazy — a little short of a miracle."

"It's surreal, man, it really is... I'm truly blessed. I'm from here, born here. Watching all those guys play when I was little. And to do something that's never been done — I can't put words on it."

If there's news that makes Trump look normal — quick! — surround it with all the Trump's-off-the-rails news you've got.

Encapsulating the Christopher Wray story at The Washington Post:

"[Christopher] Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of politics."

"Mr. Wray, a former assistant attorney general overseeing the criminal division under President George W. Bush, is likely to allay the fears of F.B.I. agents who worried that Mr. Trump would try to weaken or politicize the F.B.I."


Oh, no! Too bad. A Trump is normal story. Surely, there are more fertile grounds of Trump material. Let's move on.

"But restaurants at Kings Romans [casino complex in Laos] still offered expensive plates of bear paw, pangolin... and sautéed tiger meat..."

"... which can be paired with tiger wine, a grain-based concoction in which the cats’ penises, bones or entire skeletons are soaked for months. When a group of foreigners showed up at the God of Wealth, Kings Romans’ fanciest restaurant, the suspicious proprietor told their translator, 'You can eat here, but do not ask for the special jungle menu' — the menu offering wildlife options. Nevertheless, the staff offered tiger wine for $20 a shot glass, and served a bear’s paw to patrons at a nearby table. In May, a photographer for The New York Times who visited the restaurant was offered plates of tiger meat for $45...."

From "Asia’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Makes Tigers a Farm-to-Table Meal" (in the NYT).

Worth going to the link if only to see the moronic man in the photograph with the caption "Tourists pose with tigers in an enclosure at Tiger World in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in May." (Yes, I know the tiger is heavily sedated. I'm not calling the man moronic for trusting the tiger not to maul him. He's moronic for indulging in that sort of travel, thinking well of himself as he poses, and dressing like that when the tiger is always arrayed in gorgeous fur.)

ISIS attacks Iran.

The NYT reports.
At least 12 people were killed and 42 others wounded Wednesday morning in a pair of devastating attacks on two of Iran’s most potent symbols: the national Parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The Islamic State immediately claimed responsibility; if that is found to be true, the attacks would be the terrorist group’s first major assault within Iran’s borders. Suspicions in Tehran were also directed at Saudi Arabia, Iran’s nemesis in the region, which has been newly emboldened by a supportive visit from President Trump last month.

In the view of many in Iran, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is inextricably linked to Saudi Arabia. Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line analyst with ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, “ISIS ideologically, financially and logistically is fully supported and sponsored by Saudi Arabia. They are one and the same,” he added.

June 6, 2017

"There’s something quite youthful about socks with shorts, especially when pulled up...."

"It’s one of those things you’re not supposed to do.... As a stylist, I’m always looking for something that presents this rebellious undertone."

Pulled up black socks with shorts, cool, now, because it's so bad.

"Let’s do an IQ test," said Donald Trump...

... when Piers Morgan, on "Good Morning Britain," said that London's mayor Sadiq Khan has been "quite critical of you" and "attacked you for being ignorant."

Trump also said "When he won, I wished him well. Now I don’t care about him," and "I just think it’s very rude of him." And: "I'm not stupid OK? I can tell you that right now," and "I don't think I'm a divisive person, I'm a unifier."

Trump's Qatar tweets.

This morning:

NYT article on the subject: "Trump Takes Credit for Saudi Move Against Qatar, a U.S. Military Partner."
Qatar has long been accused of funneling arms and money to radical groups in Syria, Libya and other Arab countries. But so has Saudi Arabia. And Mr. Trump’s tweets have huge potential strategic consequences in the Middle East, where Qatar is a crucial military outpost for the United States....

It has also built deep ties to American academia, providing funding and real estate to build Middle Eastern campuses for six major universities, including Cornell, Georgetown and Northwestern.

Qatar’s financing of radical groups has long been a source of tension with Washington. But the United States has generally avoided taking sides in the regional feuds in the Persian Gulf since it has strategic ties with several of the gulf states.

Hey, man, did you notice Dylan edited out the "man" interjection from Captain Ahab's speech?

You'd think Dylan more than Ahab would drop "man" into a sentence. I hear it as beatnik style.

But Bob said — in a part of his Nobel speech I didn't talk about in my lengthy analysis yesterday — as he was going on and on about Herman Melville's "Moby Dick":
Ahab, too, is a poet of eloquence. He says, "The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails whereon my soul is grooved to run." Or these lines, "All visible objects are but pasteboard masks." Quotable poetic phrases that can't be beat.
I wanted to know more about that "visible objects are but pasteboard masks" business, so I looked it up, and I see that Melville wrote:
"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks."
There's that seemingly beatnik "man" popping up in Ahab's speech. I have to strain to hear it as some kind of 19th century bombast, sermonish.

Dylan also left out the "as" and thus turned a simile into a metaphor. He's praising Melville's poetry and saying it "can't be beat," and he changes the words. It's so "quotable," he misquotes it. Well, he's a poet too. He knows it — "Hope I don't blow it" — and his phrases are quotable and unbeatable too. I know I quote him. A lot more than I quote Melville (who didn't put his words into songs that I played a hundred times).

What did Melville's Ahab mean by "All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks"? He continues:
But in each event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who's over me?

"Whisker fatigue."

I thought this NYT article was going to be about how we're tired of men with beards, but it's about cats getting their whiskers irritated by the edges of their food bowls.
When cats have to stick their faces into deep bowls and their whiskers rub up against the sides, the experience can be stressful, prompting them to paw the food onto the floor, fight with other cats or grow apprehensive at mealtimes.

Some companies have begun to advertise their food bowls as “whisker friendly.” One of them is Hepper, which makes whisker-conscious Nom Nom bowls ($39.99, or $71.99 for two), which are one inch deep and four-inches by five-inches wide. They are made of stainless steel, which — unlike plastic — will not harbor the bacteria that can lead to chin acne (known colloquially as “catne”).
Is this a promo for a company that makes insanely expensive cat bowls? I don't know but I think Dr. Catsby's Food Bowl for Whisker Relief looks pretty nice, and if you buy it using my link, you'll be helping the cause of the Althouse blog, which dogs the NYT daily, giving you your feed, and rubbing your whiskers just the right wrong way.

"Although the majority of our regular opinion writers are white men, we found that those who experienced the highest levels of abuse and dismissive trolling were not."

"The 10 regular writers who got the most abuse were eight women (four white and four non-white) and two black men. Two of the women and one of the men were gay. And of the eight women in the “top 10”, one was Muslim and one Jewish. And the 10 regular writers who got the least abuse? All men."

From "The dark side of Guardian comments."

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt said:
They have a section where you mark comments as Allow or Block to see how your moderating would compare to theirs.

This revealed, in my opinion, that their methodology is flawed. Take this for example, which they mark as "sexist" and block worthy:

“THERE IS NO GENDER PAY GAP! Just more feminist crap portraying women as victims and men as perpetrators. Even worse is the lie we live in a rape culture with one in five women raped over a lifetime. Sure if you re-define what constitutes a rape including a drunk girl gives consent but regrets it next day.”

It may be be wrong. It may be off topic. It is not, however, sexist.

They did this study by tallying up comments they blocked. If they're blocking that kind of thing, I'm not sure that their data is particularly meaningful.
The study might ironically show that The Guardian is sexist. It may be that The Guardian thinks it's necessary to protect female writers from vigorous pushback but sees the male writers as able to sustain attacks and defend themselves. 

"Second, we need to ban taxpayer-funded air travel to conferences."

"State legislatures could ban reimbursement for travel outside their states; Congress could require that no federal grant money be spent on air travel to conferences and similar events. A lot of academic conferences would fail, but that’s a small price to pay for saving the planet. And besides, it will encourage the development of Internet-based conference alternatives. A whole new industry might result: Green jobs!"

From a list of 4 climate-change proposals that Glenn Reynolds says ought to come first, from the elite, to show they really believe what they want ordinary people to believe.

And don't let these people buy their way out of the carbon sins, in the manner preened about by Al Gore, here:

"And what carbon emissions come from my trips... are offset. I live a carbon-free lifestyle, to the maximum extent possible."

Gore's idea of what is possible is so ludicrously crabbed that I don't know why he has any hope of solving any problems at all. He's already hit the maximum by buying carbon offsets?!! Well, he's got the money. And by the way, doesn't Al Gore make money from people buying carbon offsets??

"It could’ve been handled in the most amazing, loving way. Talk about your journey and keep it to that."

"That I would’ve had great respect for. Don't talk about — in a real negative way — like everything was like I'm such a bad person. There’s lies that are printed in a book that lives there for the end of time, so your children are going to read this book about their grandparents and have a story that’s fabricated, that’s in print, and is a fabrication."

Who knows what's fabricated? I can't keep up.

It's entirely possible that Caitlyn Jenner wrote a book trashing the Kardashians with the collusion, acceptance, and encouragement of the rest of the family in the pursuit of the shared goal of setting up reality-show scenes like the one I'm quoting above.

It does make a pretty great scene:

That's acting to some extent, but who can tell? I have no base line to know what these people would be like in a completely unscripted setting.

Can you imagine having your most gripping emotional moment in lighting that fabulous, with your makeup done that flawlessly?

It's hard to get past that name — Reality Winner....

But this is, I presume, serious.
On Monday evening, the Intercept published what appears to be a May 5 intelligence report from the National Security Agency that describes two cyberattacks carried out by Russian government hackers against employees of a company that provides technical support to state voting agencies, which occurred shortly before the 2016 election. (The Intercept’s Sam Biddle noted, “There’s nothing in the NSA report indicating the actual voting machines or vote tabulations were compromised” — though this certainly opens up a whole new dimension in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s election meddling and potential contact with the Trump campaign.)

About an hour after the report was published, the Justice Department announced that 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, a government contractor, has been charged with taking classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.....

Line in the NY Post article about opening statements in the Cosby trial that made me realize Bill Cosby will be acquitted.

"After the so-called paralyzation and drugging and assault, there were 72 phone calls. She called him 53 times. She called him continuously. They spoke, at times, for 30 or 40 minutes at a pop."

And, apparently, there are phone records showing this.

I'm not saying he didn't commit a sexual assault or that a victim of a real sexual assault can't remain or become a good friend of his (or hers) after the crime, only that I don't think the jury will find that the prosecution has met its burden of proof.

June 5, 2017

The garden view.

The deck and the backyard garden, photographed by Meade from the third floor:


I like where he moved the edibles. It was fun eating skewers of grilled steak on the deck tonight and picking the red speckled lettuce as a leaf-by-leaf impromptu side dish.

Anyway, talk about whatever you want in the comments. This is an open thread.

And think about shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Bob Dylan finally delivers his Nobel Prize lecture...

... just in time to collect the $900,000, the NYT tells us.

Here's the audio:

Text here. I haven't listened/read yet, but I'm going to do both right now and I'll add to this post as I do.

ADDED: In the first sentence, Bob accepts that task implied by the prize, "wondering exactly how my songs related to literature." He shows his wondering, "in a roundabout way."

1. When he was 18, he saw Buddy Holly in concert, and he saw in Buddy "[e]verything I wasn't and wanted to be." The in-concert feeling was "electrifying." It wasn't just the words but the entire "presence" of the man and the music. Buddy "looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something." Buddy passed on his powers, and then Buddy passed on out of this world.

2. Bob got a copy of a Leadbelly recording of "Cottonfields," and that "transported" him, as if he'd been "walking in darkness and all of the sudden the darkness was illuminated. It was like somebody laid hands on me." He doesn't say religion, but he uses the language of religion. He's a convert to folk music. It's "more vibrant and truthful to life" than the "radio songs" he grew up with.  He starts to play: "By listening to all the early folk artists and singing the songs yourself, you pick up the vernacular. You internalize it." You get to "know that Stagger Lee was a bad man and that Frankie was a good girl." Bob absorbed "all the devices, the techniques, the secrets, the mysteries" and, as he wrote songs, figured out how to "make it all connect and move with the current of the day."

3. He credits "typical grammar school reading" for giving him "principals [sic!] and sensibilities and an informed view of the world."  He lists Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, and Tale of Two Cities, but he wants to talk in depth about 3 works of literature, Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey.

4. Moby Dick—"Everything is mixed in. All the myths: the Judeo Christian bible, Hindu myths, British legends, Saint George, Perseus, Hercules – they're all whalers. Greek mythology, the gory business of cutting up a whale. Lots of facts in this book, geographical knowledge, whale oil – good for coronation of royalty – noble families in the whaling industry... We see only the surface of things. We can interpret what lies below any way we see fit." What's that Bob Dylan song with Captain Ahab, I start wondering, but it's hard to search for at bobdylan.com because in the song — "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" — it's Captain Arab (but I called it up by searching for "collateral," remembering, as I did, the line "They asked me for some collateral/And I pulled down my pants").

5. All Quiet on the Western Front — "You don't understand why the war isn't over. The army is so strapped for replacement troops that they're drafting young boys who are of little military use, but they're draftin' ‘em anyway because they're running out of men. Sickness and humiliation have broken your heart. You were betrayed by your parents, your schoolmasters, your ministers, and even your own government.... You've come to despise that older generation that sent you out into this madness, into this torture chamber.... Then a piece of shrapnel hits the side of your head and you're dead. You've been ruled out, crossed out. You've been exterminated. I put this book down and closed it up. I never wanted to read another war novel again, and I never did." Bob doesn't come out and say, and that's where I got my protest music. He says: "Charlie Poole from North Carolina had a song that connected to all this. It's called 'You Ain't Talkin' to Me,'" and he quotes those lyrics, protest song lyrics.

6.  The Odyssey — the story of "a grown man trying to get home after fighting in a war." "He's a travelin' man, but he's making a lot of stops," says Bob, gesturing at but not naming Ricky Nelson, whose song "Travelin' Man" begins "I'm a travelin' man, I've made a lot of stops, all over the world." Bob talked about that song in his memoir "Chronicles: Volume One": "One afternoon I was... pouring Coke into a glass from a milk pitcher when I heard a voice coming cool through the screen of the radio speaker. Ricky Nelson was singing his new song, 'Travelin’ Man.' Ricky had a smooth touch... He sang his songs calm and steady like he was in the middle of a storm... I had been a big fan of Ricky’s and still liked him, but that type of music was on its way out. It had no chance of meaning anything. There’d be no future for that stuff in the future." Ricky sang those "radio songs" (see #2, above). Bob identifies with the travelin' man Odysseus. He speaks of himself in the second person: "You too have had drugs dropped into your wine. You too have shared a bed with the wrong woman. You too have been spellbound by magical voices, sweet voices with strange melodies... You have angered people you should not have. And you too have rambled this country all around. "

7. Bob asks: "So what does it all mean?" But he won't say what it means: "I've written all kinds of things into my songs. And I'm not going to worry about it – what it all means. When Melville put all his old testament, biblical references, scientific theories, Protestant doctrines, and all that knowledge of the sea and sailing ships and whales into one story, I don't think he would have worried about it either – what it all means."

8. Bob just wants to be alive, like Achilles, who told Odysseus that it's no good being dead: "And that if he could, he would choose to go back and be a lowly slave to a tenant farmer on Earth rather than be what he is – a king in the land of the dead – that whatever his struggles of life were, they were preferable to being here in this dead place." Bob doesn't mention it, but he's got a song called "Temporary Like Achilles." ("Achilles is in your alleyway/He don’t want me here, he does brag/He’s pointing to the sky/And he’s hungry, like a man in drag...").

9. Bob began "wondering exactly how my songs related to literature," and he ends saying "songs are unlike literature." "They're meant to be sung, not read." They're "alive in the land of the living."

A tweet-heavy Monday morning for the President of the United States.

Click to enlarge. Originals here.

"Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes."

Harvard Crimson reports:
A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen. In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.”...

Cassandra Luca ’21, who joined the first meme group but not the second... said the founders of the “dark” group chat... "were like, ‘Oh, you have to send a meme to the original group to prove that you could get into the new one’... This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-have-fun kind of thing... I don’t think the school should have gone in and rescinded some offers because it wasn’t Harvard-affiliated, it was people doing stupid stuff."...

[Jessica Zhang ’21, an incoming freshman who joined both chats, said] “I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about... I respect the decision of the admissions officers to rescind the offers because those actions really spoke about the students’ true characters.”...

The lack of human agency in this WaPo headline is a pretty good clue about whether it was the left or the right side of the Portland protests that got violent.

"In Portland, images of knives, brass knuckles, bricks show viciousness of protests."

"I got a kick out of the letters to the editor, which are startling when you substitute the word white for gay."

From the January 8, 2000 entry in David Sedaris's diary ("Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)"):
In the mail came two issues of a gay-lifestyle magazine its founder is hoping I might contribute to. It’s not my kind of thing, but I got a kick out of the letters to the editor, which are startling when you substitute the word white for gay.
Dear Hero,

I am a white man living in Kansas and your hot magazine came as such a relief. Finally a publication for people who are proud to be white, and want to know what other white people are up to. It’s nice to know that I am not alone. White people have come a long way, but we’ve got a lot farther to go. There’s no white pride parade in my town, but in the meantime I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and continue reading your great white magazine!

"[I]ncreasingly, the Democrats’ populist pretensions conflict with their alliance with ascendant 'sovereigns of cyberspace,' whose power and wealth have waxed to almost absurd heights."

"Other parts of their upscale coalition include the media, academia and the upper bureaucracy. This affluent base can embrace the progressives’ social agenda — meeting the demands of feminists, gays and minority activists. But they are less enthusiastic about the social democratic income redistribution proposed by Bernie Sanders, who is now, by some measurements, the nation’s most popular political figure. This new putative ruling class... sees its rise, and the decline of the rest, not as a reflection of social inequity, but rather their meritocratic virtue. Only racism, homophobia or misogyny — in other words, the sins of the 'deplorables'— matter..... How long can this odd pairing of socialism and oligopoly persist? There are growing sentiments on the left to begin confiscating some of the massive wealth of the tech firms...."

From "The coming Democratic civil war," by Joel Kotkin.

When the NYT forgets about the Establishment Clause and public education.

I was stunned at something in the article "Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students," which focuses on an Ohio public school teacher, James Sutter, who's having trouble getting his lesson across to a student named Gwen Beatty, who, we're told, is a straight-A student.
When she insisted that teachers “are supposed to be open to opinions,” however, Mr. Sutter held his ground.

“It’s not about opinions,” he told her. “It’s about the evidence.”

“It’s like you can’t disagree with a scientist or you’re ‘denying science,”’ she sniffed to her friends.

Gwen, 17, could not put her finger on why she found Mr. Sutter, whose biology class she had enjoyed, suddenly so insufferable. Mr. Sutter, sensing that his facts and figures were not helping, was at a loss. And the day she grew so agitated by a documentary he was showing that she bolted out of the school left them both shaken.

“I have a runner,” Mr. Sutter called down to the office, switching off the video.

He had chosen the video, an episode from an Emmy-winning series that featured a Christian climate activist and high production values, as a counterpoint to another of Gwen’s objections, that a belief in climate change does not jibe with Christianity.

“It was just so biased toward saying climate change is real,” she said later, trying to explain her flight. “And that all these people that I pretty much am like are wrong and stupid.”
A public school teacher chose a video for the purpose of presenting an argument based on Christianity?! It's supposed to be a science class. It's not a class about the history of religion or comparative religion. As the NYT presents it, the teacher was introducing religious material for the purpose of bolstering a scientific conclusion.

Here's the video. It's almost an hour long, and I haven't watched it yet.

I don't know how much religion is in the video, and I'm not giving a legal opinion on whether the teacher violated the Establishment Clause. We can discuss that. I just want to call out the New York Times for its inattention to the Establishment Clause, which it usually expects its readers to take very seriously, especially in the context of educating children.

It makes me suspect that those who are demanding that we believe in climate change really are operating in a religion mode and that does not inspire confidence in science.

And, really, why is it so important for Miss Beatty to believe in climate change? She has an active and inquisitive mind. Why not feed it and support it and empower her to go where she sees fit? Bullying her with demands for belief — even without the religion larded in — isn't likely to inspire her to take on a STEM career.

I'd like to read the comments on this NYT article, but — despite the paper's new reliance on comments in lieu of a Public Editor — comments are not enabled for this one.

ADDED: "I have a runner" — that's weird. They have a word for kids like her? "Runner" made me think of "Logan's Run":
In the year 2274, the remnants of human civilization live in a sealed city contained beneath a cluster of geodesic domes... The citizens live a hedonistic life but, to maintain the city, everyone must undergo the ritual of Carousel when they reach the age of 30... [E]ach person is implanted at birth with a "life-clock" crystal in the palm of their hand that changes color as they get older and begins blinking as they approach their "Last Day." Most residents accept this promise of rebirth, but those who do not and attempt to flee the city are known as "Runners." An elite team of policemen known as "Sandmen"... are assigned to pursue and terminate Runners as they try to escape....


"The pop star wore a white outfit adorned with colorful photos of the Manchester victims who died in the May 22 attack..."

"... they could be seen around her collar, wrist and draped across her back in the shape of a heart."

It's a hard task, dancing and entertaining to the theme of death by terrorism. What can you do? Make it about the victims. How? Put a photograph of each one. Wear an outfit made of photographs. What else can you do?

I thought of the ice dancers Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh skating about September 11th, at the 2002 Winter Olympics (only 4 months after 9/11), in costumes representing destruction:

It's not easy. You're called upon to entertain the crowd and to embody something that must be represented as the polar opposite of entertaining, and yet you must, at some level, realize that there is a horrible, sick entertainment value to the terrorism — titillation stirring up the next attack and ratings for the news media that will stream coverage of the next event you'll be asked to commemorate in a costume.

"For me, this is just amazing. You created a sensation out of nothing. And out of this sensation, you turned it into a weapon of war against the current president."

"Well, this is, you know, you're just, you people are so creative over there. Good job. Your lives must be boring."

Said Vladimir Putin reveling in the nothingness of the interview he was giving to the American news star Megyn Kelly in the premiere of the much-hyped show "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly."

Putin toyed with her for 10 minutes, the show broke for commercial, and after the break it was a new story, some corruption somewhere, perhaps in the drug business, in the manner of "60 Minutes," but with noticeably lower production values. I don't even watch "60 Minutes," so I'm not watching this. I turned it off, complaining about the fuss that had been made out of Megyn Kelly's big interview. It was a ridiculous session of Kelly staring, steely-eyed, at Putin as he delivered stern, emphatic denials. Did she imagine her glamour and steady eye contact would melt him?

Here's Lorraine Ali in the L.A. Times:
The interview, which was teased for weeks on NBC as a must-see exclusive, lasted less than 10 minutes. But that was just about enough time to confirm that she’s still not a great interviewer, and he’s still one of the most deceptive interview subjects around.

Short of asking “How many people have you killed with your bare hands, Mr. Putin?,” Kelly did everything she could to get something out of him other than smirks, huffs and “nyets.”...

Clips were played from the event that showed Kelly asking Putin in front of 4,000 guests about Russia’s role in the hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Did Russia hack the U.S. election, she asked, pointing out that U.S. intelligence agencies had found ample evidence, “fingerprints,” that it had meddled.

“What fingerprints, hoof prints, horn prints?,” he answered dismissively. “What are you talking about? … It could come from your home IP address, as if your daughter carried out the attack.”
Fingerprints, hoof prints, horn prints... That's funny.
To make matters worse, Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews,” where the filmmaker spent significantly more time with the Russian leader for a Showtime special, will air over four consecutive nights next week. They even watched “Dr. Strangelove” together. 
Now, that I will watch. Brilliant.

June 4, 2017

At Barriques Café...


... I was the first customer, when they opened at 7 a.m. I'd been up and blogging since 3.

I'd actually arrived at 6:47, so I set my timer to 6 minutes and walked into the neighborhood, then walked back when the alarm went off. When I got there the first time, a man and woman were standing around wondering what they should do, and when I got back they were sitting on the stoop. Maybe I should have let them go first, but they were sitting. I was walking upright as the barista came over to unlock the door. And I was only getting black coffee — smallest size, darkest roast — and I knew I'd be quick.

So, anyway, settle in and talk if you want. And, please, if you're thinking of shopping, here's a little door I call The Althouse Amazon Portal.

(Caveat emptor: Yelp says they open at 6. The sign in the window said 7.)

The collusion illusion.

On "State of the Union" today, Jake Tapper, talking to Virginia Senator Mark Warner, played a clip of Hillary Clinton speaking in a way that seemed a bit wacky:
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton said something very interesting this week that reminded me of something that you said in a hearing not long ago. She said that she believes that the Russians, in their interference in the U.S. election, must have been guided by Americans. Take a listen.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE (on video): The Russians, in my opinion, and based on the intel and counterintel people I talk to, could not have known how to best weaponize that information unless they had been guided. And here's...
Asked: "Guided by Americans?" She responds:
CLINTON: Guided by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information.
Actually, if you take all the words seriously, she's saying almost nothing. "Weaponize" sounds scary, but all that was "weaponized" was "information," which I think mainly refers to things her people wrote in their own email. And she just has an "opinion" that in order to "best weaponize," some Americans would have been needed to give advice. But she doesn't even say that the the info was "best weaponize[d]" or even that the Russians were doing the weaponization. And it's all only an "opinion."

I thought it sounded wacky because I heard it, initially, as an assertion that she knew Americans had to have helped the Russians weaponize information. Parsing it now, I feel that she chattered out a bunch of words that seemed to mean a lot but she preserved completely deniability by actually saying nothing. Check the transcript!

But Tapper asks Warner:

"[Filmmaker Errol] Morris studied history and philosophy of science under [Thomas] Kuhn at Princeton in the early 1970s and ended up loathing him."

"Morris suggests in a recent podcast that Kuhn’s 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions has contributed to 'the debasement of truth' and even the election of Donald Trump. Morris states: 'I see a line from Kuhn to Karl Rove and Kelly Ann Conway and Donald Trump.'"

From "Second Thoughts: Did Thomas Kuhn Help Elect Donald Trump?/Scholars debate filmmaker Errol Morris’s attack on Kuhn’s influential philosophy of science," by John Horgan in Scientific American.

Morris's podcast is here:

Al Gore says: "I live a carbon-free lifestyle to the maximum extent possible."

When confronted by Jake Tapper over his hypocrisy, today on "State of the Union":

A carbon-free lifestyle?! It's an oxymoron. I love when a guy who has been scolding us for almost 2 decades about our ignorance of science says something so blatantly absurd. If he were "carbon-free," he would not exist as a living physical entity.

I know the claim is something like "carbon neutral." All his carbon emissions are, he claims, "offset." You'll just have to take his word for that and back off, climate deniers.

Here's an article in Scientific American, "Can People Really Have Carbon-Neutral Lives?/Learn how you can work toward having zero climate impact."

ADDED: Transcript:

Who will challenge Governor Scott Walker in 2018?

Could it be Madison Mayor Paul Soglin?!
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said Saturday that he’s considering seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018....

It marked a reversal for Soglin, who said in December he had “no interest” in challenging Walker.... Soglin said the surprising appeal of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, particularly in Wisconsin, is part of what changed his mind....

I'm a morning person, obviously, or this would be terrible.

I'm interested in the "first sleep, second sleep" approach to sleeping. But what's the best interval? In the past 24 hours, I slept from 9:30 to 2:30 and then from 10 to 1. That can't be right! But I feel great, especially since I'm experiencing the day as 2 completely fresh mornings.

"Adults — they wear shorts everywhere, and they have cereal for dinner, and they treat comic books like they're literature."

Said Bill Maher at the beginning of that famous interview he did Friday with Senator Ben Sasse. Maher began the interview by offering to "bond" with Sasse, whose book — "The Vanishing American Adult" — is, according to Maher, "so right about how we have lost the thread about what adults are anymore in this country." Then Maher, with his trademark sneering contempt, launched the line I put in the post title. I loved that he began his image of the problem with what is my trademark peeve, shorts.

I didn't know what "bike badges" even were.

But here are lots of glorious photographs. Via Metafilter.

Here's an article on bike badges:
In the beginning, badges were often acid etched. This process required a copper, zinc or steel plate (among other metals) to be covered with wax that is resistant to acid. Artists then use etching needles to scratch the design right down into the bare metal. The plate was then dipped into a bath of acid, dissolving all of the exposed line sections. The wax was cleaned off the plate and it was inked over. Only the ink in the etched lines remained after the plate was wiped down.

In the early days, popular head badge themes included birds in flight, war scenes, planes, imagery of gods and depictions of power....

After the London Bridge terrorist attack, Theresa May calls for embarrassing conversations.

"So we need to become far more robust in identifying [terrorism] and stamping it out across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations."

What's hiding behind that weasely "embarrassing"? She didn't deign to say anything that embarrassed her. It was all "society should continue to function in accordance with our values" and "the whole of our country needs to come together." And "conversation." Bromides. Oh, well, maybe that is embarrassing, but I don't think that's what she meant.