July 1, 2017

Saturday evening Trump tweetstorm — "My use of social media is not Presidential - it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL."

In chronological order:
The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media - but remember, I won....

....the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!

My use of social media is not Presidential - it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!

I am thinking about changing the name #FakeNews CNN to #FraudNewsCNN!

"A LOT more beautiful (breathtaking, actually) places in Canada than that."

Said Original Mike in "The Canada Café," apparently under the impression that I am searching for what is beautiful/breathtaking as I do my virtual traveling and frame selections in Google Street view. That made me want to put up some more selections:

island drive, thunder bay

pacific avenue thunder bay

silver islet

mckellar street thunder bay

"Photobucket rolled out a new update to its TOS on June 26th with just a small, innocuous blog post as an announcement."

"Users have been finding out about it as their embedded images on other sites have turned into placeholders telling them to update their accounts, and as Photobucket has rolled out email notifications telling them that if they want to keep embedding images, they have to pay $399/year."

Horrific destruction of existing work by so many people.

If this happened to Flickr, I would lose my mind.

"Escaped elephant takes a stroll through Wisconsin neighborhood."

"Jaime Lynn, a Baraboo, Wisconsin resident... said she heard a dog barking and a neighbor scream, so she looked outside to see what was going on."

Baraboo is home of Circus World, so it can't have seemed that weird.

At the Canada Café...

causley st blind river ont

... you can talk about whatever you want.

The picture is an image I selected from Google Street View in Blind River, Ontario. I picked Canada as the place to virtually visit because — as blogged earlier — today is the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada.

(And let me remind you, as I tend to do on these café posts, to consider using The Althouse Portal as you begin a shopping trip into Amazon.)

Trump blames NBC bosses for his troubles with Joe and Mika and points to the ousting of Greta Van Susteren as evidence.

Trump, not backing down, keeps tweeting about Joe and Mika, but he's not just standing his ground. He's advancing the theory. Here's his most recent tweet, from 2 hours ago:
Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!
That's his second shot at NBC this morning. Earlier he tweeted:
Word is that @Greta Van Susteren was let go by her out of control bosses at @NBC & @Comcast because she refused to go along w/ 'Trump hate!'
In between those 2 tweets, he attacked that other network:
I am extremely pleased to see that @CNN has finally been exposed as #FakeNews and garbage journalism. It's about time!
Those 3 tweets cohere into the theory that the bosses at NBC — like the bosses at CNN who were "exposed" in the Project Veritas video — are not following decent principles of journalism but chasing ratings. They think "Trump hate" works and they've pushed Joe, Mika, and Greta and only Greta had the guts and ethics to say no. Mika and Joe wouldn't be doing Trump hate on their own — they're not bad people — but they've got to perform in the ratings and they're following orders.

That's the theory I read in this morning's tweets.

The theory Althouse outlines is...
pollcode.com free polls

"Turning off the streetlights saved about $1.25 million, but after thieves stole the copper wiring inside, the cost to fix the lights ran to some $5 million."

From "The Short, Unhappy Life of a Libertarian Paradise/The residents of Colorado Springs undertook a radical experiment in government. Here’s what they got" (Politico).

"Today, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. We come together as Canadians..."

"... to celebrate the achievements of our great country, reflect on our past and present, and look boldly toward our future," says Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada.
At the heart of Canada’s story are millions of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. They exemplify what it means to be Canadian: ambitious aspirations, leadership driven by compassion, and the courage to dream boldly....

As we mark Canada 150, we also recognize that for many, today is not an occasion for celebration. Indigenous Peoples in this country have faced oppression for centuries. As a society, we must acknowledge and apologize for past wrongs, and chart a path forward for the next 150 years – one in which we continue to build our nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationship with the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation....

"Volvo admits its self-driving cars are confused by kangaroos."

The system judges where things are by reference to the ground, and when the kangaroo is "in the air, it actually looks like it’s further away, then it lands and it looks closer."

Uncombable hair syndrome.

It's a real medical condition — genetic and very rare.
It is usually characterized by silvery-blond or straw-colored hair that is disorderly; stands out from the scalp; and cannot be combed flat.... When the individual hair strands are viewed under a microscope, the hair is either triangular or kidney-shaped on cross section, and has a canal-like longitudinal groove along one or two faces....
Here are video and photos of a cute little girl who has the syndrome

Trump's supporters and critics agree that Trump's tweeting is going to destroy civilization...

... and Scott Adams tells you how that's going to happen. 

ADDED: "Part of what makes things funny if you're from New York is the horribleness of them, the inappropriateness. So it's the inappropriate part that makes it funny, that makes it entertaining, that makes it worth doing. It's the inappropriate part. So when I see the President doing inappropriate things, I say to myself: Well, there's a guy from New York talking."

"President Trump’s voting commission stumbled into public view this week, issuing a sweeping request for nationwide voter data that drew sharp condemnation..."

"... from election experts and resistance from more than two dozen states that said they cannot or will not hand over all of the data," WaPo reports.
The immediate backlash marked the first significant attention to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity since Trump started it last month and followed through on a vow to pursue his own unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud is rampant and cost him the popular vote in the presidential election. The White House has said the commission will embark upon a “thorough review of registration and voting issues in federal elections,” but experts and voting rights advocates have pilloried Trump for his claims of widespread fraud, which studies and state officials alike have not found. They say that they fear the commission will be used to restrict voting.
So, there's the fear that the Commission will find things that may be either true or false but that, either way, people don't want to know — especially because it will leverage arguments that things must be done that they don't want to have to do.

There's also a privacy argument, which I think I would find more compelling, but the WaPo article does not put in words what the privacy problem is. It merely cites an "elections expert" (Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School) and says he "pointed to the request about voters’ party affiliations, which he said violates the federal Privacy Act of 1974." So WaPo doesn't quote Levitt, doesn't give the text of the Privacy Act, and doesn't give any substance to what the privacy interests are and how they are impaired.

It's as though they want us to think the privacy argument is bad or, worse, they're writing for a liberal audience and they don't care about the argument that appeals to a more conservative mind. If they did, they might talk about federalism and the way the Constitution gives the states the role of running elections for members of Congress (with a role given to Congress — not the executive branch — to regulate how the states handle their elections). And the states have the role of determining how to select the electors who choose the President.

It seems as though WaPo can't report this story without pushing the usual agenda, characterizing Republicans as bent on disenfranchising people.

ADDED: Trump tweeted this morning:
Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?

June 30, 2017

"Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own."

That's the famous quote — the "three rules of life" — from the 1956 novel "A Walk on the Wild Side," by Nelson Algren.

I was just exploring in Google Street View and I came to a town in Florida called Sopchoppy — known for its Worm Grunting Festival — where I was entranced by this sign for the place I'd always heard of, Mom's:

mom's 3



... sitting on the front porch.

"In one way, travelling has narrowed my mind. What I have discovered is something very ordinary and unexciting..."

"... which is that humans are the same everywhere and that the degree of variation between members of our species is very slight. This is of course an encouraging finding; it helps arm you against news programs back home that show seething or abject masses of either fanatical or torpid people. In another way it is a depressing finding; the sorts of things that make people quarrel and make them stupid are the same everywhere.... Freud was brilliantly right when he wrote about 'the narcissism of the small difference': distinctions that seem trivial to the visitor are the obsessive concern of the local and the provincial minds... And when you hear the bigots talk about the 'other,' it’s always in the same tones as their colonial bosses used to employ to talk about them. (Dirty, prone to crime, lazy, very untrustworthy with women and—this is especially toxic—inclined to breed rapidly.)"

From "Letters to a Young Contrarian," by Christopher Hitchens.

"It suddenly hit me. That’s what people want to see. That’s what I’ll give them, blood and gore."

Said Generoso Pope, Jr., the founder of The National Enquirer, who had begun the newspaper as "a serious, upscale weekly," but "had an epiphany one day when he found himself gazing at a particularly gruesome traffic accident, and noticed how many other people had also stopped to stare."

He's quoted in a New Yorker article by Jeffrey Toobin that has a title — "The National Enquirer’s Fervor for Trump/The tabloid is defined by its predatory spirit. Why has it embraced the President with such sycophantic zeal?" — that makes it seem pretty blood-and-gore — metaphorically, anyway. But it turns out to be more of a — how you say? — nothingburger.

I did though enjoy reading about the early history of the paper. I remember stealing glimpses of The Enquirer at newsstands back in the mid-60s, when it was considered too evil for a decent person to look at. As The New Yorker puts it:
In the fifties and sixties, the [blood and gore] formula was a resounding success. With headlines like “mom boiled her baby and ate her” and photographs of purported freaks of nature, such as two-headed babies, circulation soared to more than a million. 
I can still remember getting drawn into the story of a murderer who cut up a body and put the head in some kind of box and threw a foot out the window. There was a photograph of a severed foot. Was it still wearing the cut-off end of a nylon stocking? 

Pope had a second epiphany in the late 60s which was to sell the paper at the supermarket checkout display.
This required him to scale back the gore (which was unacceptable to the markets) and amp up the celebrity coverage. The transformation proved a boon to business. So did a television campaign featuring the catchphrase “Enquiring minds want to know.”
The grisly gunk was gone, and we got the insane, cheerful message that we were sorta intellectual — "enquiring" — to want to know pointless crap about celebrities:

Those were simpler times, back when Princess Di was blasting heartless Fergie for inadequate baby care. Today, the Enquirer is run by David Pecker, and most of Toobin's article is about Pecker, who is friends with Donald Trump, but Toobin didn't dig up anything shocking about the Pecker-n-Trump bromance, so I left the table still hungry.

Fortunately, The National Enquirer popped into the news today: "Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough’s Extortion Claim Against Donald Trump and the National Enquirer." That too is by Toobin in The New Yorker. Trump used extortion against Mika and Joe??
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have just caused a sensation by claiming, in effect, that they were extorted by Donald Trump and the National Enquirer. According to their op-ed in the Washington Post, White House staffers told them that the tabloid would run damaging stories about them unless they could persuade the President to intervene.
At that link to the WaPo op-ed, the word "extortion" is not used. It just says:
This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas.
Why would White House staffers be "desperate" to save Mika and Joe from a negative article? And where's the "extortion"? Extortion is a legal term. It is the actual or threatened use of "force, violence, or fear" to obtain property from someone. I think Toobin's idea is that the threat and what was to be extorted with the threat were both press coverage: Trump was trying to get good coverage from Joe and Mika by threatening them with bad coverage from The Enquirer.

But in Mika and Joe's telling, it was only Trump's staffers urging them to get Trump to intercede with the third party — The Enquirer — that was threatening to harm them. But it takes another few leaps to get to the idea that The Enquirer was in cahoots with Trump, cooking up a negative story against Mika and Joe to work as a threat that would bring them begging to Trump and that if they had done so, Trump would have extracted from them a commitment to give him good coverage on their show.

As Toobin puts it:
[I]t’s certainly possible that there was some connection between the Enquirer story about Scarborough and Brzezinski and Trump’s quest for favorable coverage from “Morning Joe.” Bizarrely enough, Trump’s most recent tweet suggests that he served as the middleman between the anchors and the magazine, though he denies that he did ultimately intervene.
The recent Trump tweet is: "Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show."

What a screwy mess! I attempted to watch "Morning Joe" today, but it was so dumb and slow-moving I couldn't put up with it. In the little I saw, I was mostly fascinated by the visual: Mika and Joe looked incredibly glum, positively morose. What's the problem? Why aren't they happy that they got under the President's skin and have everyone talking about them? How can it hurt? Is it just that people are motivated to dig up the terrible story that The Enquirer in fact published about them earlier this month? Or is there something more to this — some trap Trump has set with his oddball tweet about Mika's "bleeding badly from a face-lift"?

Everybody stopped to stare. That’s what people want to see. That’s what I’ll give them, blood and gore.

At the Russian Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

The picture is my selection from a Google Street View, somewhere near Moscow, Russia. I chose Russia because it's a place name that came up in this morning's blogging (the same idea as going to Dubai yesterday).

The previous post, embedding a Google selection from Agoraphobic Traveller, shows a completely different eye. I'm delighted by what she picks and interested in how different it is from what I pick.

And, since this is a "café" post, let me take the opportunity to remind you to do your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Google Street View Scene - Tree's intricacy in shadow - Mesa, Arizona, United States."

From the Agoraphobic Traveller, discussed in this post, yesterday. I looked at a lot of the images yesterday, and that is the one that stuck in my mind, for whatever reason.

"Guéguen et al. (2014) found that men were more likely to obtain women’s phone numbers for a date when carrying a guitar case than when carrying a gym bag or nothing."

From "Boost Your Sex Appeal in Four Extraordinary Ways" at Psychology Today.

That reminded me of the time —  20+ years ago (I was single)— when I was talking to a man as I was waiting in line at the airport. He had what I at first took to be a musical instrument case. At the point when I realized the case contained golf clubs, I saw my interest in him crash and burn. It was completely unsubtle and instant.

When is a facelift not a facelift?

Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough respond to Donald Trump's infamous "bleeding badly from a face-lift" tweet:
"Putting aside Mr. Trump's never-ending obsession with women's blood, Mika and her face were perfectly intact, as pictures from that night reveal," they said in the column. "And though it is no one's business, the president's petulant personal attack against yet another woman's looks compels us to report that Mika has never had a face-lift. If she had, it would be evident to anyone watching 'Morning Joe' on their high-definition TV. She did have a little skin under her chin tweaked, but this was hardly a state secret. Her mother suggested she do so, and all those around her were aware of this mundane fact."
I think the "obsession with women's blood" is fascinating and deserves a lot of attention. It's not just Trump's obsession, but everyone who hopped onto the task of making that tweet the most important event in the world. Blood is vivid and it means so much to us. If it bleeds, it leads is the classic saying about journalism. Look! Blood!

It's very primal. And Trump has an instinct to reach out and grab us in our deep, secret, sensitive place. And we let him! Come on, everybody. Let's talk about how Mika is bleeding. It's like a magnet.

But I want to talk about the fussy distinction Mika and Joe made between a facelift and "a little skin under her chin tweaked." If you've just gotten a little skin under your chin tweaked, have you not gotten a facelift? Your chin is part of your face, but I guess once you go around to the underside of the chin, you're off the face and onward toward the neck, then technically it's not a "facelift."

But I went to the website of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, to the page "Facelift" and it lists 3 kinds of incisions, "Traditional Facelift," "Limited Incision," and "Neck Lift." So it looks to me as though the expert terminology would include "a little skin under her chin tweaked" in the category "facelift."

And by the way, why are Mika and Joe acting as if it's so shameful for a woman to get a facelift? Speaking of making a "personal attack" on a "woman's looks," they seem to be implying that it's insulting say that a woman has had a facelift. Does Mika mean to lord her superiority over all the other celebrities who have had more surgery? Trump's tweet stressed the bleeding. The facelift played a secondary role as the source of the bad bleeding. He didn't say: Ugh, Mika had a facelift. He said she was imposing herself on me at a New Year's Eve party when she was bleeding badly from facelift incisions.

Mika's answer was that the incisions — which are back around the temples and ears (as I understand it from the plastic surgeons' website) — were only for the purpose of lifting the skin below the face. By presenting that as a defense to Trump's tweet, she is (unwittingly?) introducing the view that a facelift is a stain on a woman's reputation. Isn't that the retrograde, sexist idea?

I don't think Trump is anti-facelift. I assume women in his life have had facelifts and he's quite familiar with the process. That's probably why he recognized the source of the blood.

If there was blood.

Now, I'm speculating that Mika deliberately imposed on him when she was visibly bleeding to see if she could get the a fame boost — a famelift — like the one that had made Megyn Kelly such a big deal so recently. That was back on New Year's Eve, though, and now, I'm speculating that Trump deliberately delayed his reaction until Megyn Kelly's narrative had arced and cratered.

Word that does not appear on the front-page at CNN right now: Russia.

The narrative has changed. Click to enlarge:

I do see — look closely — "Van Jones: O'Keefe video is a hoax." The video is the one where we hear Van Jones say "That Russia thing is just a big nothing-burger." But the teaser on the front page doesn't give us a clue that the video had to do with Russia, and even when you click through, there's no mention of the substance of what we hear Jones say in the video, just the assertion: "CNN's Van Jones says the ambush video of him done by notorious provocateur James O'Keefe is a hoax."

And how is the video a hoax? I think Jones is misusing the word, because he does not deny that he is the man in the video or that there's some context that would change the meaning of his statement. He indicates that he could have said other things, but not that he did actually on that occasion say more and O'Keefe had it edited out.

ADDED: I'm just noticing that among the things CNN is trying to tease us with this morning is: "Prostitutes: Senate health care bill will devastate us." Prostitutes!

ALSO: The Washington Post also has a front page that doesn't mention Russia but does — amazing! — have sex workers. Click to enlarge:

You see the sex workers story: "Everything you were afraid to ask about phone sex workers — in one class-action lawsuit."

Is there some JournoList-like back channel where they're brainstorming about how to titillate people if you can't talk about Russia and coming up with PROSTITUTES!

Part 3 of the Project Veritas attack on CNN.

This time the victim of secret filming is Jimmy Carr, who is said to be the Associate Producer for CNN’s "New Day." James O'Keefe tells us Carr is based in Brooklyn, and urges Paul Farhi — the WaPo writer who made much of the failure to say that the victim in Part 1 was based in Atlanta — to take note that he's naming the place.

In the new video, Carr purports know the opinion of everyone at CNN: "We’re all on, 90% of us are on board with just the fact that  [Donald Trump] is crazy." And:
"On the inside, we all recognize he is a clown that he is hilariously unqualified for this. He’s really bad at this and that he does not have America’s best interests. We recognize he’s just fucking crazy... He’s not actually a Republican. He just adopted that because that was the party he thought he could win in. He doesn’t believe anything that these people believe. The man is on his third wife. I guarantee you he’s paid for abortions. He doesn’t give a shit about abortion. He doesn’t care about gay marriage."
And this is especially interesting right now, when everyone purports to be shocked that Donald Trump tweeted that Mika Brzezinski was "bleeding badly from a face-lift": Carr says that Kellyanne Conway "looks like she got hit with a shovel."

June 29, 2017

At the Google Grab Café...

hair dressers

... you can join me in Dubai.

I chose Dubai as a place to (virtually) visit, because it came up in today's blogging.

You can talk about anything you want.

Please consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal, including, perhaps, buying the book that's influencing me, "How to Talk About Places You've Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel."

"I’m usually not afraid to make myself look bad."

"Somebody came up to me recently and said — I wrote it down exactly because I’d never heard anybody say it, and I wasn’t hurt when she said it, I just thought, Oh, that’s interesting — 'I think part of your charm is that you’re kind of a [expletive]. You’re not a complete [expletive], but you’re kind of one.' I think you would take that stuff out if you were that concerned with your image, but when you leave it in, then most people will think, Oh — he’s like me."

From the "condensed and edited" interview David Sedaris did with the NYT Magazine interviewer Ana Marie Cox.

Sedaris is promoting the book that I've already read (non-consecutively) at least twice: "Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)."

ADDED: Doing the tags for this post, I was assuming the deleted expletive was "asshole," but I see the article "a," so I'm going to assume it's "shit."

"The buyer is 4 Desolation Row, LLC."

Did Bob Dylan buy 4 Gramercy Park West, the townhouse with the front stoop where he posed for the cover of "Highway 61 Revisted"?

"Desolation Row" is the 11-minute song that is the high point of the album — "an 11-minute epic of entropy, which takes the form of a Fellini-esque parade of grotesques and oddities featuring a huge cast of iconic characters."

Here's Bob Egan, tracing down the location of the photo-shoot for the great old album:

"My Dentist’s Murder Trial/Adultery, false identities, and a lethal sedation: a baroque courtroom drama unfolds in upstate New York."

I highly recommend this New Yorker article by James Lasdun. Sample:
To the extent that I knew Dr. Nunez, I thought of him as reserved but friendly. I knew that he did free dentistry for a women’s shelter, and for the Boys and Girls Club. My wife—also a patient—had heard that he picked up elderly patients at home and drove them back after their appointments. From such details, I’d constructed an image of impeccable chivalrousness, with a touch of the immigrant’s stoic melancholy. Clearly, I’d missed something. Even if he was not the cold-blooded murderer that the indictment purported him to be, he had done very peculiar things.

There was one significant detail in his account that I hadn’t heard before: Thomas’s body was found reclined far back in his seat, with his belt and pants undone and his zipper down. “They will try to say I was having a gay affair with him,” Nunez predicted. “But we have a different explanation. You will see.”...

"I'm a grandfather. I'm now completely convinced our government is being run by complete idiots."

The second-highest-rated comment on "Stepsister, Yes; Grandma, No: U.S. Sets Guidelines for Revised Travel Ban" (at the NYT).
According to a diplomatic cable obtained by The New York Times, “close family” is “defined as a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, whether whole or half. This includes step relationships.”

But it went on to state that “close family” does not include “grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés and any other ‘extended’ family members.”

It is not clear how the administration arrived at the new definitions....
The language in the Supreme Court opinion — which the guidelines are designed to follow — was "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" and "a close familial relationship."

It looks to me as though they decided to define "relationship" as nuclear family. I can see wanting to exclude grandparents simply because one child becomes a pathway for 4 adults, but that's a policy idea that doesn't seem to have anything to do with what the Supreme Court said.

Note that Justice Thomas (joined by Justices Alito and Gorsuch) wrote a separate opinion that called the Court's approach "unworkable." It will "burden executive officials with the task of deciding—on peril of contempt— whether individuals... have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country."

Trump tweets that Mika Brzezinski "was bleeding badly from a face-lift."

Just this morning:
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..

... to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
Wow. That's harsh. He must know facelifts to be so confident he can diagnose the source of the bleeding. She had blood coming out of her wherever... face.

Why's he suddenly going back to New Year's Eve? And what's with all the "Crazy" and "Psycho"? It seems... crazy and psycho.

Here's the NYT story on the subject:
The graphic nature of the president’s suggestion that Ms. Brzezinski had undergone plastic surgery was met with immediate criticism on social media...

Mr. Trump’s comment on Thursday echoed a contentious remark that he made about another female television anchor, Megyn Kelly, during last year’s presidential campaign. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” Mr. Trump said, a remark that was widely seen as a reference to menstruation and drew rebukes from women’s groups.
Yes, widely seen as a reference to menstruation, but who knew he might have been talking about facelifts?

Over at The Washington Post, Callum Borchers is calling it a "blatantly sexist attack." Ridiculous. Men get facelifts too. In fact, it's Borchers who's supplying the sexism:
When Trump hits Brzezinski and Scarborough on Twitter, he hits Brzezinski harder, more personally and in a way that seems designed to portray her as insecure (“facelift”) and unintelligent (“low IQ”) — as a side piece who would not be on TV if not for her romantic relationship with Scarborough, to whom she was recently engaged.
Trump didn't say "sidepiece" or characterize plastic surgery as a marker of insecurity.  That's Borchers projecting. What I read in that tweet is that he found it ludicrous that the person trying to insinuate herself into his company was bleeding from the face. That doesn't sound at all like insecurity. Quite the opposite.

"An Agoraphobic Photographer’s Virtual Travels, on Google Street View."

Ha ha. I love these — in The New Yorker — screen grabs from Google street view.
After a while, [Jacqui Kenny, a New Zealander living in London] began seeking out certain kinds of views: arid regions with clear horizons; latitudes where she found that the sunlight fell at a dramatic slant....

Kenny now posts photos from the collection on an Instagram account called Agoraphobic Traveller.... Kenny, who is friendly and witty in conversation, suffers from anxiety that, on a bad day, can make it difficult to leave the house.... Kenny—who doesn’t consider herself a real photographer but clearly has a very particular eye—is drawn to stark landscapes and orderly arrangements: the straight lines of a road receding into the distance; a tree in perfect butterfly symmetry with its shadow; identical boxy houses sitting in neat rows.... The scenes are simultaneously revealing and distancing—as if you’re peering into people’s daily lives through a telescope....
I've done the same thing myself. I started the tag "Google grab" back in 2011. I can see that I was planning to do it a lot, but I mostly only did the first one, which convinced me it was an exciting idea:

Juarez street corner

Or I guess I did it twice. Why didn't I keep going?

It is cool to wander around in Google street view, and — agoraphobic or not — it could be better than actually going places, because I think you will go to different places when you don't have to worry about your health and safety or with needing to interact with people and feeling that you might be intruding. And when you travel, you're likely to go to the famous scenic places, but there's no point in looking at those on Google maps, because there are many better photographs of these things already on line.

This topic could fit as one more chapter in the book I'm reading right now: "How to Talk About Places You've Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel," by Pierre Bayard:
There is actually nothing to show that traveling is the best way to discover a town or a country you do not know. Everything points to the contrary— and the experience of numerous writers supports this— if you want to be able to talk about a place, the best thing to do is stay at home....

[T]he question is not what we can gain from a knowledge of foreign places— acquaintance with which can only be beneficial to anyone with an open mind— it is to know whether this acquaintance should take place directly or whether it isn’t wiser to practice it through means other than physical travel.

Interview with @pixelatedboat, the man who created Milkshake Duck.

It was the perfect tweet: "The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist."

The backstory:
"I can't remember, exactly, but my best guess now is it was probably the Chewbacca Mom," @pixelatedboat, a comics artist from Australia, who asked not to use his real name, explained of the inspiration behind it. Chewbacca Mom, a woman who went viral for laughing in a mask — it was a much more innocent time last year— later came under heavy criticism for a misguided attempt at fomenting racial harmony. She got Milkshake Ducked.

"It was a thing that had happened a few times that seemed to be a trend," he went on. "I was trying to come up with a joke that would sum it up because I hadn't seen that joke done before, so I was trying to come up with the most absurd version of that that I could."...

"You’re well taken care of here. They got resources and... I don’t know there’s just something about the place. They call it the vortex."

"I’ve left. I’ve been to Arcata and Santa Cruz and I’ve tried Florida. I’ve been around America. Ain’t nowhere like Berkeley, man.... I sat out here before like depressed and starving but still too proud to hold my head up and ask somebody for food. I’m just sitting here with my head down. I look up, and there’s this guy handing me like French toast in a box. I was like, ‘Thank you, man.’ I had my headphones in. I put it down, I put my head back down, and when I look back up I see his fist in my face and he had ‘LOVE’ tattooed on his knuckles and he was trying to give me knuckles and I thought that was pretty awesome, man. And just shit like that happens all the time, man. You see a lot of manifestation out here. Manifestation is what I like to call it. When you need something, it just comes to you. As long as you need something important. Something that you actually need, you’ll get it. I don’t know if that’s manifestation or blessings. I guess it’s all the same."

From "How people living on the streets in Berkeley find their food."

50 years ago today: "[Jayne] Mansfield died in a sedan that slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler that was shrouded in 'fog' from a mosquito-spray truck."

"The impact drove the car's engine into the front seat, killing the actress, two adults and a Chihuahua (who rode up front) but sparing Mansfield's children. Mansfield's wig was thrown to the side of the road, where it was mistaken in news stories for her head."

From a 1997 interview with the undertaker, who said "Her head was attached as much as mine is... People always figured wrong about Jayne... About the way she lived and the way she died." (NYT link.)

Wind blows Irish weatherman off screen.

"They lost their freedom because they love freedom."

"The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has helped a small Cornish village buy its Methodist chapel."

"One villager, Valerie Wallace, had the idea [to email him] as a last ditch attempt, with the group having failed to raise sufficient funds elsewhere. 'We thought nothing of it and then we began to get phone calls from Dubai... We thought we were being hoaxed but it was no hoax.'"

Reports the BBC.

"This has been a long-stewing simmer for him, and after they cut him loose he was like, ‘Screw them, I owe them nothing.’”

“After the election, he made no secret of how pissed he was—he feels that he won that thing all on his own. They wrote him off for dead and cut all his money off... He was already left for dead and when you’re left for dead and you keep walking, there’s a pretty remarkable level of strength that comes with that.”

That's a quote in The Daily Beast from an unnamed "Wisconsin Republican political operative" in "Republicans Left Ron Johnson for Dead Last Year, Now He Could Kill Their Health Care Bill/Months after they left him cold and alone on the campaign trail, Sen. Ron Johnson is enjoying his newfound freedom from leadership."

ADDED: I'm skeptical of this story, so let me front-page something I wrote in the comments: 
Ron Johnson has such a modest, low-key Wisconsinite demeanor that it seems funny to me to picture him seething and cursing, just burning up and ready to go wild and break things.

"He was with my purse and he took off and I took off after him. Me being five months pregnant, I chased a little ways then come back, jumped in the car..."

"... threw it in gear and come across the curb and ran him over. I was not going to let him get away with it. It's not right, it's not fair."

Said Christine Braswell, quoted in "SEE IT: Pregnant North Carolina woman mows down shirtless purse thief with her SUV in Walmart parking lot." The "see it" is real: You can see video of the woman running straight into the man.

"Every day, millions of sweltering Pakistanis struggled to forgo food and water from sunrise to sunset, then roused themselves before dawn to wash, pray, cook and eat."

"The Ramadan ordeal has brought into sharp relief the chronic water and power shortages plaguing this arid, Muslim-majority country of 180 million. In cities, families had to fill jugs and bottles from public taps at 3 a.m. In villages, long daily electrical outages stopped fans from whirring and tube wells from pumping water to irrigate parched fields."

Temperatures during this ordeal were as high as 128°. It was like Death Valley during the day — long summer days — and they could not drink water. At night, it was still very hard to get water, with pumps not working.

The story — at The Washington Post — doesn't mention whether anyone died. If you had described those conditions to me as a hypothetical and asked me to predict how many would die — out of 180 million — my guess would be in the millions.

And what is the rule, really, about not drinking any water in the daytime during Ramadan? There is some kind of allowance to keep people from succumbing to heat stroke and dehydration, isn't there?

"And a leading religious scholar in Karachi clarified... that Islam allows the elderly, sick or weak to interrupt fasting in extreme situations. People shouldn't risk their lives for a religious duty," said a cleric named Mufti Naeem, quoted in "Ramadan leads to dehydration in Pakistani heat wave." That's from 2 years ago, when the temperature got as high as 113° (15° cooler than this year). That article says "More than 1,100 people have already died." And the problem isn't simply dehydration from too little water. There's also damage from drinking too much water once it is permitted:
"It's possible that the body cannot cope with this, depending on its overall condition"... Drinking too much at once... dilutes the body's electrolytes too much, causing water to be drawn out of cells through their membranes.... [T]his can lead to cerebral or pulmonary edema in people with existing health conditions."
Here's a lengthy discussion of the religious issue, by Dr. Kashif N. Chaudhry (at CNN):
Prophet Mohammed is... known to have discouraged fasting for the sick, and for pregnant women and nursing mothers. At another place, he equated those who fasted during times of hardship to those who did not fast during normal conditions -- both disobeying God...

Until the Pakistani government does its job of providing round-the-clock power and air-conditioned public shelters, those exposed to the current heat wave -- especially the children, elderly and sick -- must ensure proper hydration for themselves. And once these harsh weather conditions change for the better, they can repay the missed number of days at a later time.

This approach is in line with the requirements of wisdom -- and the teachings of Islam.

June 28, 2017

Woman shoots a man to death with a .50-caliber Desert Eagle firearm and says it was his idea as a stunt for her vlog.

He was holding a book, and she says he believed the book would stop the bullet and that he'd already tested the bullet-stopping power of another book. 

Before the shooting, she had tweeted "Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE."
[Monalisa] Perez told authorities that Ruiz had been trying to convince her "for a while" to shoot the book while he held it for a YouTube video.

Ruiz had set up a GoPro camera and another camera on a ladder nearby to record the stunt, according to the complaint. The two cameras — which recorded the shooting — have been secured as evidence for the investigation.
She shoots that .50-caliber gun from a foot away. Here's what that gun looks like:

How could he possibly have thought the book would protect him? But how can she be lying if there is 2-camera footage of the entire incident? She's charged only with manslaughter, so the authorities must believe her story, right?

The new Project Veritas video: Van Jones saying "That Russia thing is just a big nothing-burger."

WaPo's "What the latest James O’Keefe video leaves out" attests to the absence of unfair, out-of-context quotes.

Paul Farhi says "it’s what the video doesn’t show that may be as important as what it does," but I think what's most important is what Farhi doesn't put on his list of what's not in the video.

The omissions Farhi identifies are:

1. The video identifies the man on camera as John Bonifield, a "supervising producer," but fails to specify that he works on health and medical stories.

2.  The video fails to specify that Bonifield is based in Atlanta and "not in Washington or New York, where most of CNN’s coverage of national affairs and politics are produced."

3. The video doesn't say who the man making the video is or how he gained access to Bonifield.

See what's missing? There's absolutely nothing saying that Bonifield's statements were edited to distort or take anything out of context or encourage misinterpretation. There's nothing on Farhi's list that makes us feel we need the unedited footage to be fair to Bonifield and CNN. Every single thing is about additional facts that can be presented to us without access to the complete footage that Project Veritas holds in its possession.

These additional facts are perfectly easy for Bonifield or CNN or The Washington Post to share with us, including the identity of the Project Veritas operative and how he got access to Bonifield. Obviously, Bonifield knows that. According to Farhi:
People at CNN said Project Veritas’s operative was referred to Bonifield through a social-services organization in Atlanta called Rainbros that matches young adults with mentors. 
The link on Rainbros takes us to a website that says "Rainbros. Where Gay Gets Easier./Peer Coaching for Gay Atlantans/How can we help you make your life better?"

Farhi says: "Bonifield met the man in question about five times, and apparently was under the assumption that he was interested in a career in journalism." Yes, it's not very nice to use a mentoring service to get to some presumably kind-hearted person who is devoting his energy to (I hope!) helping young people. And this kind of trickery from Veritas is hardly surprising at this point, and we can talk about that. But I'd also like to know more about how The Washington Post and CNN get access to all the leakers that have been feeding the Russia craziness in the media that made the Project Veritas operation worth doing.

Let's talk about all of it. But let's recognize that Bonifield really made those statements and — from what I can see so far — there was nothing unfair about how they were presented in the edit we got yesterday.

"A man yelled 'Freedom!' as he crashed his vehicle into Arkansas' new Ten Commandments monument early Wednesday..."

"... nearly three years after he was arrested in the destruction of Oklahoma's monument at its state Capitol, authorities said."
In the video [on Michael Reed's Facebook page], the sky is dark and the Arkansas Capitol's dome is visible. Music is heard followed by a female voice, likely on the radio, saying, "Where do you go when you're faced with adversity and trials and challenges?" The driver is then heard growling, "Oh my goodness. Freedom!" before accelerating into the monument. The vehicle's speedometer is last shown at 21 mph (33 kph) and then a collision can be heard. Arkansas' monument fell from its plinth and broke into multiple pieces as it hit the ground. The debris had been cleaned up by midmorning Wednesday....

Arkansas' granite monument weighed 6,000 pounds (2,721 kilograms). It was installed Tuesday morning on the southwest lawn of the Capitol with little fanfare and no advance notice. A 2015 law required the state to allow the display near the Capitol, and a state panel last month gave final approval to its design and location.
By the way, in the Biblical story, Moses breaks the 10 Commandments tablets. Did you ever understand why? There are many explanations. Here are 4 explanations. 

Of all people, Phil Donahue says: "Don't be so sensitive." That's his advice to journalists who feel attacked by Trump.

"I think that the best way to handle this is to just keep working. Don't be so sensitive. Don't look like you have a glass jaw."

The MSNBC host, Stephanie Ruhle, seems to have no idea what "glass jaw" means. She asks, "What does that mean?" and Phil takes on the burden of mansplaining:
"That means you go down -- it's a boxing phrase, a boxer with a glass jaw is one who can't take a punch, goes down with a left jab instead of a right cross," Donahue explained. "And I think the press has to be above that. All you can do is pray that the people you serve will understand this and appreciate the job that you've got."
Speaking of mansplaining, do I need to 'splain my "Of all people"? Phil Donahue was the prototypical sensitive man

"'No jump, it’s important, no jump,' he said... But Ms. Mol, apparently misunderstanding his pronunciation, heard, 'Now jump.'"

"She threw herself from the ledge — and plunged to her death. The harness she was wearing had not yet been secured to the bridge."

From "Deadly Bungee Jump in Spain Could Lead to Criminal Charges" (NYT).

Vera Mol was 17. The bridge was 130 feet high.

"It’s been over 7 months since Trump was elected, yet my professors show no signs of putting their political digressions on hold."

"Because my English professors at Yale are largely liberal, the political message in my classes is always the same: Trump is a demagogue, American society is doomed, and English literature is our refuge. Liberal professors and students increasingly feel that it is their duty as professors and humanists to promote their vision of the political good. Meanwhile, the remaining campus conservatives have become less outspoken and remain fearful that they may suffer academically as well as socially for their views...."

Writes Finnegan Schick, who says he's "center-left, voted for Hillary Clinton, and... dislike[s]" Trump.

"But really, it would have been fine to skip this strange celebrity ritual, this complicated stew of personal indulgence, brand tending and sociopolitical me-too-ism."

"Yes, pregnancy is beautiful and powerful and worthy of celebration. You are womanly. You are phenomenal. God bless. But it has become virtually impossible for a celebrity to go through a pregnancy without getting naked for the cameras, her fans and — presumably — herself."

From "Let Serena Williams’s naked pregnancy photo shoot be the last of its kind," by Robin Givhan (in The Washington Post).

As Givhan notes, it all started with Demi Moore back in 1991. It was surprising then — unlike now — and it's never been done better. The photographer was Annie Leibovitz, who also did the Serena Williams portrait.

Givhan concludes:
But what is the broader value of the bared baby bump? Under the best of circumstances, pregnancy is a beautiful and life-changing experience. And every woman’s pregnancy is unique and captivating to her. But even if a woman is a celebrity, that doesn’t make her pregnancy newsworthy.
I'm not sure I agree. We could talk about the frivolity of our celebrity culture and the excess of vanity, nudity, and photography in American life today. But pregnancy is actually more important than we generally take it to be. It is our central purpose from a biological, evolutionary point of view. Our deep understanding of that reality pops out in weird distorted ways, but when we see the weirdness, we should take it as a cue to remember what we so often forget: We are all here because women carried babies in their bodies. Pregnancy is beyond newsworthy. By comparison, the idea of "news" is frivolous.

What books has Hillary Clinton been "losing [her]self in"?

"I finished Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, I devoured mysteries by Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd... I reread old favorites like Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, the poetry of Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver. I was riveted by The Jersey Brothers and a new book of essays called The View From Flyover Country, which turned out to be especially relevant in the midst of our current health-care debate."

New York Magazine reports.

Sorry, I can't seem to get beyond New York Magazine this morning. That's where I landed after starting out in the South China Morning Post. Somehow, I only told you about the beer cans in China. I could have told you about...

1. The "pro-democracy lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung" and his fight to keep from getting his hair cut while he's in prison.

2. The tourist who fainted when informed that the jade bracelet she just broke costs 300,000 yuan (US$44,110).

3. The 80-year-old lady who threw coins into a jet engine for good luck and got the flight delayed for hours.

4. The man who was fined for cutting the roof off his car to make it into a "convertible."

5. The thing that got me to that website in the first place (because it was linked at Drudge): "Police in Shanghai on Monday closed down an unlicensed fight between two teams – one led by a tai chi master and the other by a leading mixed martial artist – just weeks after footage of a similar, very bloody, contest went viral online."
In late April, Xu [fighter and promoter of mixed martial arts] scored a convincing victory over [tai chi master] Wei, after making controversial remarks about tai chi in which he said he wanted to “expose” its lack of merit.

“[I] crack down on fake things, because they are fake. Fake things must be eliminated. No question,” he was quoted as saying...

"I roll into the bar late but everyone’s too drunk to care. Mark introduces me to his friends. They’re instantly complimenting me..."

"... even his female friends. I’m cautious about women. Sometimes women get weird around attractive women — even the ones who are just as attractive."

From "The TV Reporter Wondering About Her Date’s Girlfriend" (in the "Sex Diaries" column at New York Magazine)

IN THE COMMENTS:  Known Unknown writes:
Still trying to find the point of the New York Mag story ...
And I say:
I read the whole thing and the point seems to be that life is best when "Nothing’s really going on," which was the time she spent part of a night "watching Shameless and eating... sesame chicken with fried rice and a vegetable egg roll." For the reader who worries that other people are living the real life and having the fun that she/he just can't seem to reach, the answer comes back clear: All that "fun" is not really fun at all, it's a horrid mixture of abuse and boredom, and you're not missing out at all.

"Dan Rather did a 60 Minutes segment on wellness in 1979... 'Wellness,' he said, 'that’s not a word you hear every day.'"

From "The Wellness Epidemic/Why are so many privileged people feeling so sick? Luckily, there’s no shortage of cures" (in New York Magazine).

Speaking of words you don't hear every day, I just learned the word "spoonies." Do you know about "Spoon Theory"?

Also, I didn't know that Arianna Huffington is involved in something called Thrive which sells products like a bed for your iPhone — a little wooden bed with satin sheets...
“You know, there is something so satisfying …,” Huffington explains one day in her crowded Soho office as she tucks her phone in beneath a satin sheet.
I think the answer to the question in the article title is: There are products to sell. (Here's that iPhone bed. It's $100.)

The #1 most-read article at New York Magazine is "Donald Trump Wears His Watch Way Too Tight."

"Judging by the photos, it looks like the president wears his watch this tight on purpose."

Video from China: Workers dunk empty Budweiser cans into a vat of beer in a factory that reseals the cans.

You see old cans — with the lids removed — lifted out of a cardboard box and submerged in a big tub of (presumably) beer by 2 women who are not even wearing gloves!

According to the article — in the South China Morning Post — people in China order canned beer because there have been exposés about the fraudulent refilling of liquor bottles. A can seems more reliable... seemed more reliable.

June 27, 2017

"Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for defaming her by publishing a statement about her that it knew to be false..."

"... that Mrs. Palin was responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011."
“Specifically, on June 14, 2017, The Times Editorial Board, which represents the ‘voice’ of The Times, falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Mrs. Palin incited Jared Loughner’s January 8, 2011, shooting rampage at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, during which he shot nineteen people, severely wounding United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and killing six, including Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl.”
ADDED: I've removed my "lawsuits I hope will succeed tag." For reasons discussed in the comments, I think she should and will lose this case. What influenced me was a close look at exactly what the NYT wrote.

AND: Here's The Washington Post piece about the lawsuit. Note the aspect of the Times statement that it focuses on as defamatory:
“Before the shooting,” [the NYT editorial] read, “Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral district that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

The description was inaccurate. The map had put cross hairs over targeted electoral districts but not Democratic politicians. Following a wave of backlash on social media, the Times issued an apology and corrected the editorial, saying no connection between political incitement and the Arizona shooting was ever established.
That is, it's true that there was a map that used the symbolism of cross hairs, but only the geographic areas were "under" the cross hairs and the NYT falsely stated that human beings (including Giffords) were "under stylized cross hairs." That creates a mental image of a map with the faces of 20 people with cross hairs on them.

(By the way, WaPo has "a map of targeted electoral district," making the image of 20 targets hard to picture. There should be an "s" on "district.")

"CNN in hell" (See ya in hell).

Drudge links to "CNN’s Russia story debacle came at the worst possible time for the network" (WaPo).
Among its other high-profile debacles over the past month, CNN fired comedian Kathy Griffin, who co-hosted its New Year’s Eve program, after she took part in a photo shoot in which she posed with a bloody facsimile of Trump’s severed head. It corrected a story that wrongly predicted what former FBI director James B. Comey would say about Trump in his congressional testimony. And it subsequently canceled a new series, “Believer,” and fired host Reza Aslan after he described Trump in vulgar terms on Twitter....
ADDED: "The specter of a $100 million libel suit scared CNN into retracting a poorly reported story that slimed an ally of President Trump’s — and forcing out the staffers responsible for it, The Post has learned...."
Meanwhile, a CNN insider said staffers are furious at “having lost the moral high ground because of this story.” Sources said Zucker tried to rally his staff during a Tuesday morning conference call.

Your daily Mendota.


It's a 4-day streak now. Different every day. Not that different. But I'm keeping an eye on it for you.

MEANWHILE: Meade was mountain biking and texted me this:


Fake news about fake news.

Rush Limbaugh, today:
Three CNN members of the new investigative unit have resigned, i.e., been fired. One of them is a guy named Thomas Frank...  the name might ring a bell. This guy wrote a book way back when called What’s the Matter With Kansas or What’s Wrong With Kansas? He is an active, uber-leftist. He despises conservatism, and his book about What’s the Matter with Kansas, What’s Wrong With Kansas, was his befuddlement over how middle class Americans in Kansas would vote Republican and thereby vote against their own self-interest....
That caught my attention. What?! Thomas Frank — What's the Matter With Kansas Thomas Frank — was one of the 3 guys fired for the fake news on CNN?! That didn't seem right.

Later in the show, Rush was all...
You know, I was afraid of this. I know that there are two Thomas Franks, and I asked somebody to find out for me today, I was in a time crunch, and I said, “Find out for me if the Thomas Frank at CNN is the same Thomas Frank who wrote the book on Kansas,” and they came back, “Yes, same guy.” But I know there’s a second one out there. So now Snerdley is getting Drive-By calls saying it’s a different Thomas Frank. The author who wrote the book on Kansas is not the Thomas Frank who was on the CNN investigative unit and got blown out, fired, canned, resigned, what have you. So my bad. I thought I had nailed that down. There are two of ’em. One of them may be Franks, the last name may be Franks, Thomas Franks and Thomas A. Frank, I’m not sure which, but I know there are two of them. And I thought they were the same.
Well, how exactly are you better than CNN if you run with something without checking it out competently? I don't see how "I was in a time crunch" is an acceptable excuse.

By the way, Thomas Frank's newest book — "Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?" — is excellent.

And as long as I'm talking about the 3 fired CNN guys, let me show you the ludicrous final paragraph of the Washington Post column by Eric Wemple, "Three CNN employees resign over retracted story on Russia ties":
Critics will long cite this episode as evidence that CNN is precisely what Trump has called it — “fake news.” Yet the departure of three journalists immediately following a mangled story provides a counterpoint to this particular slander. Purveyors of fake news, after all, don’t take drastic personnel moves following a bogus story. They rejoice in it.
They got caught! Publicly. They had to put on a show that they don't tolerate fake news. That's exactly what a purveyor of fake news would do.

"Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me."

"One is sometimes asked 'by what right' one presumes to offer judgement. Quo warranto? is a very old and very justified question. But the right and warrant of an individual critic does not need to be demonstrated in the same way as that of a holder of power. It is in most ways its own justification. That is why so many irritating dissidents have been described by their enemies as 'self-appointed.' (Once again, you see, the surreptitious suggestion of elitism and arrogance.) 'Self-appointed' suits me fine. Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me. I can’t be fired any more than I can be promoted. I am happy in the ranks of the the self-employed. If I am stupid or on poor form, nobody suffers but me. To the question, Who do you think you are? I can return the calm response: Who wants to know?"

From "Letters to a Young Contrarian" by Christopher Hitchens.

Samurai armor.

From the exhibit at the Chazen Museum:



You can talk about whatever you want in the comments. I'm ending the morning session of blogging before the sharpness, humor, and insight fade.

(May I just add a reminder to consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal?)

"Keeping his own gray suit immaculate and his tone emotionless, O'Brien calls intermittently on a team of hazmat-suited torturers, issuing such concise instructions as 'Fingertips' or 'Teeth.'"

"Bursts of strobing light and jackhammer sound effects follow those orders, but even though we see the bloody aftermath and not the acts, the carnage is not for the faint of heart. Even worse is the ghastly anticipation fed by O'Brien's one vivid description of the ultimate torture, which plays on Winston's pathological fear of rats to make him surrender all sense of self.... There's no doubt that this imaginative production conveys the claustrophobic terror of a totalitarian state. But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?"

From a review of a New York play based on Orwell's "1984."

From "Why Broadway's '1984' Audiences Are Fainting, Vomiting and Getting Arrested":
The cast knew how the shocking scenes would be presented, but “it wasn’t until we got in front of an audience, when I saw and heard people responding, that I was suddenly aware of how powerful it was,” said Reed Birney, who has previously yelled back at a ticketholder who pleaded for his character to stop the torture. Meanwhile, Tom Sturridge, whose character bleeds heavily while being electrocuted, told THR that he makes a point of staring into the eyes of individual audience members, calling them “complicit” as they watch him suffer onstage.
That seems to be inciting audience members to come up on stage and save the character. I'm thinking of that protest at the "Julius Caesar" performance recently where a woman went up on the stage and denounced the performance. Here, the actors are breaking the 4th wall and begging the people in the audience for help. 

The travails of a puppeteer.

"The White Man Who Was Inside the Black/Rasta/Mammy Puppet at the Fremont Parade Says He Is Not a Racist."
I am the anonymous puppeteer who had the large black puppet in the Solstice Parade, and got such a public drubbing for being racist.... I fully intended for my puppet to portray in the most positive and upful way the contribution of people of color to the celebratory spirit of humanity.

One lady (white) came up at parade beginning and said that because I was white my puppet was racist—I was hurt surprised and shocked. I thought she was maybe a little nuts (from that Trump guy being president, all the shootings of black people, and the general rise of open racism recently). I told her I did not share her perspective on my puppet but she was having none of it....

Behind me a bare assed Trump statue was flipping everyone off—was this why people thought I also was disrespecting them? I never felt so misunderstood in my life....

What's the most disgusting thing about this Looper video, "Actors Who Were Drunk During Filming"?

I'll give you my answer later.

ADDED: The commenter Virgil Hilts essentially got it, in this comment that went up 9 minutes after the post (and it took 6 minutes to watch the video):
Thinking like Ann -- wow, the only examples they could come up with for actresses related to shooting sex scenes.

Thinking like most men -- wow, why didn't they show the actual sex scenes from the movies involving the drunk actresses.
Yes, all — I think all — of the actresses had used alcohol to get through sex scenes. There was variety to the stories of the male actors, and I don't think any of it had to do with sex (or even with overcoming inhibition caused by the ordeal the script imposed on them (unless you count Omar Sharif's fear of falling off a camel)).

Meade says that morning posts and morning comments are the best — sharp, humorous, insightful.

Later in the day, the quality declines, and at night... look out.

Is Meade right?
pollcode.com free polls

Project Veritas captures a CNN exec agreeing that the Russia narrative is "bullshit" and volunteering that it's all about ratings.

As the Project Veritas website puts it: "CNN is actively plotting a fake news campaign, aimed squarely at Trump--and Project Veritas just caught them red-handed."

"This 3,000-Year-Old Wooden Toe Shows Early Artistry of Prosthetics."

"Crafted from leather and wood, the ancient Egyptian prosthesis was was adjusted to precisely fit its wearer’s foot."

"Between new shops, expansions, and menu upgrades, 2017 is set to be the breakout year for edible cookie dough."

"Dō — based in New York City, where there is a line for everything — certainly garnered a lot of publicity during its January opening, but it wasn’t the only doughy debut of the year. In February, Tart Sweets bakery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, started selling its dough in 'doughwiches' and by the scoop through its cookie dough bar.... Earlier this year, Yoyo Berri frozen yogurt shops in Nebraska and South Dakota started offering raw cookie dough to liven up yesterday’s snack craze...."

Eater reports, giving the answer to my main question and using that word I've told you not to use.

My main question about eating cookie dough is: What about the problem of raw eggs and salmonella? The answer is they use "pasteurization and heat treatment" — i.e., the eggs are not raw. So if you like your cooked eggs with lots of sugar and flour mixed in, you're ready to enjoy this trendy dessert.

The word I told you not to use is, of course, "garner."

Urban Dictionary Word of the Day: Broflake.

"Straight white male offended by any feminist or ethnic activity which is not directly designed for him."

"Zillow is threatening to sue me if I don’t delete most of the posts on this blog."

Says McMansion Hell (a very funny and useful blog).

ADDED: The blogger is not deleting the blog. Start here and scroll to see the posts. I'm pretty sure I've linked to it before. If you like mockery of bad architecture and interior decoration, it's great.

ALSO: The post about the litigation threat went up on the same day that The Washington Post published an article — "The ultimate symbol of the pre-recession boom is back" — that talked about McMansion Hell and featured the blogger (Kate Wagner) in a very charming video:

Ah, yes. There's an update on the WaPo article:
Update: On Monday evening, after this story was published, Wagner received a letter from house hunting website Zillow that accused her of violating the site's terms by using its images. The "cease and desist" letter demanded she take all images down.
So it's a terms of use violation (not a copyright claim). Terrible. Zillow should be ashamed of itself. What crap PR for Zillow. It just pointlessly and stupidly makes people hate Zillow.

Reason.com presents LSD Microdosing as "The New Silicon Valley Productivity Hack."

That's mostly an interview with George Burke, who takes a tenth of a "typical dose" of LSD every day.
"I notice that my brain seems to be able to solve problems a little bit better than...before," says Burke, who runs a startup called Fuel that helps its clients custom tailor their diets to their unique genetic makeups.
I notice that his noticing is under the influence of LSD and that he's subtly acknowledging that by saying "my brain seems...." Why should we believe his perception? I'd like to see some scientific studies of how LSD affects problem solving ability.

Also, Burke talks about taking medication for ADHD and LSD working as a substitute for that drug. So he's struggling with something that is or has been diagnosed as a mental disorder. He's not beginning at normal/"normal" and edging away from that, but at disordered and attempting to replace whatever drug someone in the medical profession prescribed.

So the video isn't very convincing except as an appeal to freedom: We should be allowed to experiment with our own brains. We feel strongly entitled to affect our mind through reading, talking, and thinking about ideas, whether these ideas are at all likely to be useful or true and even if the ideas are shown to be plainly false and actively dangerous. If you can read, say, "Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose," why can't you take a daily microdose of LSD? Whatever the actual value of either of these things to the human mind — even if it's nothing or less — it's a matter of freedom of thought, and it belongs in the realm of the individual.

June 26, 2017

Obama "didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."

4 Trump tweets from a few hours ago:

1. "The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win.."

2. "...and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."

3. "The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia..."

4. "..under a magnifying glass, they have zero 'tapes' of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!"

Police seem to confirm what most viewers of the viral video were saying.

That girl was to blame for falling out of the Sky Ride gondola.

Of course, it was decent and good for people to gather underneath and risk injury to catch her, even if she was to blame for getting herself into that dangling-from-a-gondola predicament.

Here was a memorable comment that appeared on the WaPo article that appeared yesterday (before the police blamed the girl):
As a past ride operator at an amusement park I am going to chime in here. The way she was situated at the beginning of the video suggests to me she somehow got herself into that predicament. I'm not saying definitively this is true. But, I've seen people do pretty risky things on rides. One trick is to lift your knees as the staff is checking the bars are secure. This allows the bar to not be as tight as it should be. I've caught hundreds of people doing that in my years as a ride operator. Another thing people do is try to rock carriages to scare each other. I don't know if it is possible on that ride. In terms on the knee bar lift, it is the responsibility of the ride staff to catch people doing it. It is also the responsibility of the staff to not let people ride who are super anxious. Who knows if she was or not. At the end of the day, I'm sooo happy she is ok! How amazing the people who caught her!....

"CNN is imposing strict new publishing restrictions for online articles involving Russia after the network deleted a story and then issued a retraction late Friday..."

Buzzfeed reports, citing "an internal email," from Rich Barbieri (CNNMoney's executive editor), which read:saying "No one should publish any content involving Russia without coming to me and Jason." (Jason Farkas is a CNN vice president).

Buzzfeed also quotes an anonymous source saying the deleted story was a "massive, massive fuck up and people will be disciplined."

Meade texts me a photo of the backyard, and I squint at the image. Did a huge branch of the oak tree just fall down?


Home, I hurry through to the deck that overlooks the yard from the second floor, and nothing seems to have changed. Meade is casually raking the semi-circular lawn. What was I seeing in that photograph? That's the view from the roof — which is 3 floors above the ground. I'd been out walking the shores of Lake Mendota one more time...


He knows I don't like to think of him up on the roof, and I guess he took advantage of my absence to climb out there and clear the gutters.

Here's a view — from last February — of how that branch looks from the second floor — that is, how I see it for many hours every day — to give you an idea of how weird that texted photograph looked to me:


"The justices, in effect, said that foreigners with ties or relationships in the United States would not be prohibited from entering the country."

"But, those applying for visas who had never been here, or had no family, business or other ties could be prohibited.... The justices said the distinction should be easy to administer. 'In practical terms, this means that' the executive order 'may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.'"

Trump's (modified) win in the Supreme Court this morning, explained by Adam Liptak in the NYT.