August 12, 2017

"A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack/Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system."

Writes Patrick Lawrence in The Nation. Excerpt:
Forensicator’s first decisive findings, made public in the paper dated July 9, concerned the volume of the supposedly hacked material and what is called the transfer rate—the time a remote hack would require. The metadata established several facts in this regard with granular precision: On the evening of July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC’s server. The operation took 87 seconds. This yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second....

Time stamps in the metadata provide further evidence of what happened on July 5. The stamps recording the download indicate that it occurred in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone at approximately 6:45 pm. This confirms that the person entering the DNC system was working somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. In theory the operation could have been conducted from Bangor or Miami or anywhere in between—but not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone....

"We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered."

I'm reading "51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature" (Buzzfeed).

The amazing tombstone of Jules Verne.

CC BY-SA 2.0

I don't think I've ever seen that before. I encountered it as I was working on some photographs I took last month at Hicks Cemetery in Perrysville, Indiana. I had a question that was difficult to phrase, and I only arrived at Jules Verne's tombstone because of the awkwardness of my search terms. I still don't know the answer to my question, which is whether there is a conventional artistic idea of half carving a stone for someone who died young. That is, the stone is made to look incompletely carved as a way to express the idea of a life not fully lived. On one side it resembles rough stone. I don't have an appropriate photograph to show you of that stone, but here is one of the photographs I was working on when I thought of that question.


As for Jules Verne's grave:
Two years after his death a sculpture entitled “Vers l’Immortalité et l’Eternelle Jeunesse” (“Towards Immortality and Eternal Youth”) was erected atop his marker. Designed by sculptor Albert Roze, and using the actual death mask of the writer, the statue depicts the shrouded figure of Jules Verne breaking his own tombstone and emerging from the grave.
The grave is in the Cimetière de la Madeleine in Amiens, France. The link goes to Google Maps, where the street view will not take you onto the paths inside the cemetery. The same is true of the Hicks Cemetery. You can go right up to the gate, but you can't "walk" around inside.

I can't type "statue" without first making the typo "statute."

Too many years in the legal field, I guess. It's sad, really, because I studied art before I went to law school, and I even took a course or 2 called Sculpture. So I've made sculptures, but have I made statues?

That's a question I'll answer in a minute. First, I want to tell you about the etymology of "statute" and "statue." This subject came up for me today as I was making typos writing the post about the uproar in Charlottesville, which has something to do with the city's effort to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee.

I researched "statute" and "statue" in the OED and at Etymology Online, and I learned something I'd never figured out before: The words have a common ancestor, the Latin word statuere, which is the neuter past participle of the Latin word stare (the "stare" in "stare decisis," which means "to stand by things decided").

So both "statute" and "statue" are things that have been stood up, which makes me want to say "erected," but we only say a statue has been "erected." We say a statute has been "enacted." (And a statute is often called an "act.") The word "act" (in Latin āctus) is about all sorts of doing and moving, and not specifically setting something in an upright position. "Erect" comes from the Latin ērectus, which is the past participle of the word that means "to set up."

It's interesting that we don't say that statutes are "erected." Perhaps we don't want to concede that they are upright. They are simply moved into place by legislatures. And yet, when a court finds a statute unconstitutional, we say that the court strikes it down, which makes it sound as though it had been standing upright before the court got to it. To be strictly legally correct, an unconstitutional statute is a nullity all along, and the court is only giving us that information. It's finding the statute unconstitutional, not making it unconstitutional, so the use of the phrase "strike down" is a bad way to talk about what the court is doing — unless you mean to say the court is going beyond its proper power.

So then, have I made any statutes statues? Any 3 dimensional art is sculpture. (I'm having flashbacks to art school debates about whether a painting with thickly textured paint is at some point — what point?! — sculpture.) But a statue is a much narrower category of sculpture. It must be "A representation in the round of a person, animal, etc." — etc.! — especially if it's "a god, allegorical figure, or eminent person," and it's "usually life-size or larger" (OED). Well, I've never done anything that fit within the "especially" or the "usually" clause.

Let's just say I've made statuettes of nonentities.

"After the [white nationalist] rally at a city park was dispersed, a car plowed into a crowd near the city’s downtown mall, killing at 32-year-old woman..."

"Some 35 were injured; at least 19 in the car crash, according to a spokeswoman for the University of Virginia Medical Center. The authorities did not immediately say whether the episode was related to the white nationalists’ demonstration, but several witnesses and video of the scene suggested that it might have been intentional. Chief Thomas said that a suspect had been taken into custody and that police were treating the episode as a criminal homicide. Witnesses said a crowd of counterdemonstrators, jubilant because the white nationalists had left, was moving up Fourth Street, near the mall, when a gray sports car came down the road and accelerated, mowing down several people and hurling at least two in the air."

The NYT reports.

President Trump said (NYT):
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides... It’s been going on for a long time in our country. It’s not Donald Trump, it’s not Barack Obama."

After calling for the “swift restoration of law and order,” Mr. Trump offered a call for unity among Americans of “all races, creeds and colors.”
“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
Some people think this "on many sides" nonspecificity is a problem. For example, Chuck Schumer: “Until @POTUS specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasn’t done his job.”

At the Silver Door Café...


... come on in and talk about whatever you like.

Let me also encourage you to use The Althouse Amazon Portal. Here are some things I bought recently: a new hydropack (that's nicely lightweight and roomy enough for me), a muddler (which we used to squish fresh basil in the bottom of a glass to which we add ice and lemonade), a set of pin-striped cutting boards.

"A 6-year-old... can seem like a black hole into which you pour all your attention, hopes and dreams to no avail."

"They are not happy and not grateful. Why does this happen? Is your child intrinsically selfish? No, not really. She is a child, so she is naturally self-oriented, but in essence, you are giving her too much of what she doesn’t need. What she needs is for you to stop trying to make her happy. Stop planning too many events for her. Stop taking her bad attitude personally.... [H]umans are funny in that the more we try to please them, the more it elicits bad behavior. When we try to make our kids happy, we end up becoming needy. The kids control our moods, our plans, our parenting and our confidence. It is paradoxical, but by taking back the planning and letting go of how grateful your daughter appears, you regain the power you are giving away. She feels your confidence and will begin to relax in that she is no longer in charge of everyone’s feelings. Trust me, there will be major fits thrown as you hold the boundary of keeping your own agenda; your daughter will not like this at all, but over time, she will relax. And you have to give this time."

From "Our 6-year-old has a fun, comfortable life. Why isn’t she grateful?" (WaPo).

"Swift’s testimony on Thursday was, in BuzzFeed’s words 'badass and amazing,' and in CNN’s words 'firm, even snarky.'"


From "The Taylor Swift groping trial shows how we think about who’s entitled to women’s bodies" (in Vox).
Throughout her testimony, Swift insisted on placing all responsibility on the man who allegedly groped her, refusing to be redirected. Here are some quotes from the testimony in question.

"White nationalists and counterprotesters are expected to flood downtown Charlottesville Saturday as the Virginia city braces for the 'Unite the Right' rally."

"By noon, thousands are expected to gather in Emancipation Park, where barricades have been placed in proximity to the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The rally comes hours after a large group of torch-bearing white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus Friday night."

CNN reports.

The city council has voted to take down the statue of General Lee (and to rename 2 parks named after Confederate generals). What, exactly, is the big deal about a march espousing a political point of view? Isn't this the sort of thing Americans should take in stride? Why not say some kind words about free speech, register your disagreement with the opinion the crowd is expressing, and move on?

I think the best answer to that last question is that people who disagree with the opinion see an opportunity to express their own opinion, to use the assembled crowd as a platform to express disagreement with the opinion expressed by that crowd. There's nothing really wrong with that, but why should onlookers like me get riled up about anything? It's just another normal day in America.

But that's not what CNN wants me to think. It's telling me that Charlottesville is a "quiet and progressive town." Nestled there are "residents on edge" (because noisy out-of-towners have arrived to speak on behalf of the monumentally silent statue). A "business owner" is quoted saying that townsfolk "have a lot of fears," and "are just anxious." He mentions "a blood bath... looting... mass arrests... police having to turn on citizens." I don't understand what that refers to. Counterprotests? Which "citizens" are the police going to have to turn on? Citizens of the quiet and progressive town of Charlottesville who are beset by outsiders exercising their free speech rights?

CNN quotes Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics: "In my 47 years of association with @UVA, this was the most nauseating thing I've ever seen. We need an exorcism on the Lawn." Could somebody explain what he's so upset about? Why can't you look at a protest march you disagree with?

Is there something about torches? If so, after they tear down the statue of Robert E. Lee, they'd better tear down the Statue of Liberty.

"A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/Mother of Exiles...."

Watch the Governor of Guam talking on his speaker phone to President Trump, who tells him "You're going to become extremely famous."

On Facebook.

Trump tells him (Eddie Baza Calvo) that everybody's talking about him and about Guam and: "Tourism. I can say this: Tourism, you're going to go up, like, tenfold." Trump tells him Guam looks beautiful, and the Governor says "It's paradise" and laughs and laughs.

Trump says — "just between you and I" — "You don't talk like they talk. You can't do that. And you can't do that with people like us."

"Jury orders blogger to pay $8.4 million to ex-Army colonel she accused of rape."

WaPo reports.
Col. David “Wil” Riggins, after a highly decorated Army career that included multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was on the verge of promotion to brigadier general in July 2013 when he... learned that a blogger in Washington state had just accused him of raping her, when both were cadets at West Point in 1986...

Riggins waived his right to an attorney and immediately gave a statement denying any sexual assault of the woman, Susan Shannon of Everett, Wash. Shannon also cooperated with the CID investigation, which could not “prove or disprove Ms. Shannon’s allegation she was raped,” the CID report concluded. But in the spring of 2014, with the armed forces facing heavy criticism for their handling of sexual assault cases, Secretary of the Army John McHugh recommended removing Riggins from the list for promotion to general. Riggins promptly retired.

Then, Riggins sued Shannon for defamation, claiming that every aspect of her rape claim on the West Point campus was “provably false,” and that she wrote two blog posts and a Facebook post “to intentionally derail [his] promotion” to brigadier general....
The jury sided with Riggins and awarded him $3.4 million in compensatory damages and — "to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again" (as one juror put it) — $5 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages will be reduced to $350,000, because that's the cap in Virginia, and the compensatory damages are expected to be reduced to $2 million. Shannon is, according to WaPo, a "stay at home mother of 3 teenagers." WaPo quotes Shannon saying "I feel like I'm a financial slave for the rest of my life."

Much more at the article, including details about what Shannon wrote in the blog post and how some things she said were "provably false," such as the assertion that West Point served "FREE beer" on the night in question. The top-rated comment is:
I am a liberal feminist. Please do not paint all of us with the brush. That said, I believe in evidence and justice for all. Women have historically been disbelieved when accusing men of rape. Nevertheless, I also know that some women use the accusation for vengeance. Based on the information in this article, I would vote with those jurors without hesitation. Denial of the truth of the Newtown tragedy speaks volumes about the woman's credibility.
ADDED: The comment I quoted refers to Shannon's blogging, that the Newtown shooting was “a planned event." She wrote: “I believe our GOVERNMENT shot those kids and teachers and used Adam Lanza and his family to pull it off.” (But that was not part of the evidence the jury heard.)

August 11, 2017

"President Donald Trump warned of possible military action in Venezuela..."

The WSJ reports (in an article I was able to reach without a subscription (via Drudge)):
“I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Mr. Trump told reporters when asked about the situation in the South American country. “Venezuela is a mess. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary,” he said.

The remarks came a day after President Nicolás Maduro said in a speech to the newly formed constituent assembly that he wanted to speak with Mr. Trump by phone or meet him when he visits the U.S. next month for the United Nations General Assembly.... But Mr. Maduro also reiterated his criticism of Mr. Trump as the leader of an “imperial power,” calling him a threat to the global order....

"Having turned 80 last year, I have developed an appreciation for various activities that tend to keep me resilient."

"First would be daily physical exercise. Then comes the forced smile at bad times. Forcing yourself to smile makes you take a deep breath. And deep breathing at random times is productive. Also to keep the mind going keep up with what is going on and contribute comments on the current situation. Some inhalation of medicinal marijuana is also suggested. And get a dog to love."

The second-highest-rated comment on a NYT article titled "How to Build Resilience in Midlife."

Key phrase: contribute comments....

At the Library Café...


... you can read and write all you want.


The photographs, taken on July 28th, come from Perrysville, Indiana, where Meade went to church when he was a little boy.

(And please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"Do not look at the flash or fireball – It can blind you."

It's not advice for watching the solar eclipse. It's advice for the people of Guam.

"I have known, worked for, and taught countless men who could have written the now-infamous Google 'manifesto' — or who are on some level persuaded by it."

"Given these facts, I’d like to treat it — and them — with some degree of charity and try to explain why it generated so much outrage."

Writes Cynthia Lee in "I'm a woman in computer science. Let me ladysplain the Google memo to you" (Vox).

Read that. I'm not going to ladysplain the ladysplaining.

I tried to help you guys long ago when I devised the rule that many people have repeated and called The Althouse Rule (e.g., Instapundit, 3 days ago). The rule, as I put it in November 2005:
Scientists: remember to portray whatever you find to be true of women as superior.

I've said it before, and I must repeat, the rule is: If you do scientific research into the differences between men and women, you must portray whatever you find to be true of women as superior. And when you read reports about scientific research into the differences between men and women, use the hypothesis that the scientists are following that rule. It makes reading the reports quite humorous.
I've mainly used this rule to make fun of reports that follow this rule. I said:
It's patronizing. And it's unscientific! I understand the motivation of the scientists, though. I think they have reason to be afraid not to couch their findings this way.
Apparently, Damore wasn't sufficiently afraid. He didn't see that this was the unacknowledged rule. Google is a safe space, muffling the fear. That in itself is something to be afraid of. When sparing everyone fear is the order of the day, you need to fear you will be deemed the embodiment of the fear that others must be spared. Then you're completely unsafe. And gone. No man, no fear.

I'd been thinking that if only Damore had followed the rule, maybe he wouldn't have gotten fired. I have been tempted to take his memo and rewrite it following The Althouse Rule. I'm rereading the memo, however, looking for a good paragraph to make an example of, and it's not that easy to find one. I think Damore did try to assume a neutral pose and balanced the aptitudes he ascribed to the 2 gender stereotypes.

If anything, it seems better to fit his female stereotype. I mean if you were a soul in the ante-chamber to life and given your choice how to enter the world, with only this document to use to decide whether to enter your allotted human life as a male or a female, wouldn't you pick female? You have your one shot at living the life of a human being: Do you want to be oriented toward people and cooperation or to things and competition?

What if you have a "these are not my people" response to your job?

You may have seen Megan McArdle's excellent column, "As a Woman in Tech, I Realized: These Are Not My People/The Google memo, saying women aren't very into engineering, reached a similar conclusion."

When McArdle was in her mid-20s, she worked as a technology consultant in finance. She left the job not because was "very male-centric" (which it was), but because she realize that she was psychically different from the other people in a way that would make it harder for her to succeed and to feel good in the process:
... I came into work one Monday morning and joined the guys at our work table, and one of them said “What did you do this weekend?”

I was in the throes of a brief, doomed romance. I had attended a concert that Saturday night. I answered the question with an account of both. The guys stared blankly. Then silence. Then one of them said: “I built a fiber-channel network in my basement,” and our co-workers fell all over themselves asking him to describe every step in loving detail.

At that moment I realized that fundamentally, these are not my people. I liked the work. But I was never going to like it enough to blow a weekend doing more of it for free. Which meant that I was never going to be as good at that job as the guys around me....
It's a great personal anecdote, and we're consuming it knowing that when McArdle bailed out she got into another line of work and it seems to have worked out quite well for her. If she's had any "these are not my people" moments in her career as a columnist, she's not telling.

Some of us might have responses like this wherever we go. Much has been written on the "imposter syndrome," which seems awfully similar. Often we look around and see that other people seem happier, more well adjusted, more perfectly slotted into this job that feels like a job to us. But you don't see the inside of the minds of other people.

For example, when McArdle spoke of her weekend of "throes" of "romance" and saw on their faces only blankness, what was behind that blankness" More blankness? Maybe inside they were screaming:

Throes! Romance! Where are my throes? Where's my romance? A single smile of romance would mean so much to me and she's shrugging off whole throes of romance as if it's nothing! Doomed! Doomed! She says. But I'm the one who's doomed! I don't even have a doomed romance! What I would give for one weekend — one Sunday morning — of even doomed romance! Throes?! What are throes? Orgasms? Or is it something more, with a woman? What could it be? How could I ever know? Throes? Even one throe! Could I ever offer myself to the sublime Megan McArdle? No, I am doomed. Don't let her see that I want even the doomed romance, even for one quarter of a weekend. Don't let her know. Maintain a blank stare, like the other men — all of us, bereft of romance, bereft of throes. Oh, that poor geek saying he built a fiber-channel network in his basement over the weekend, as if his abject loserhood could make Megan smile. Megan, smile at me. I want weekend throes! But what a loser I am! At least, let's prop up our ridiculous brother who resorted to self-deprecation. So desperate. But I'm desperate too. Let me help cover up the desperation that guy let slip. That could have been me. I'm embarrassed for him. You'll never impress Megan like that. I wouldn't be surprised if she left this job thinking that she just doesn't belong here, that nobody wants to talk about relationships, that we're happy blowing the weekend wiring a basement. Megan, we're not happy! Help us, Megan! Tell us about the throes and the doom and the romance!

"Drudge... uses his personal Twitter account to tease his ideas and let his followers attempt to fill in the blanks on their own."

"In many ways, it's similar to how he works as a kind of news cycle puppetmaster with the Drudge Report, operating the website as a curated and intentional conversation that is wiped daily for whatever tomorrow might bring. To take Drudge's tweets too seriously, though, is an error. 'Ultimately [Twitter is] boring and the kids are always off to something new," he said [in a 2015 interview]. Of course, Drudge did not reveal that he was also off to something new — essentially 'breaking' Twitter to use it as a Snapchat-like blink-and-you-miss-it palimpsest for whatever comes to his mind."

From "The mystery and intrigue of Matt Drudge's Twitter feed" at The Week.

The 2015 interview is this (with Alex Jones). I've clipped out the part where Drudge rails against the corporate websites that mass human expression in one place:

"Don't get into this false sense that you are an individual when you are on Facebook. No you're not. You're a pawn in their scheme."

ADDED: I don't know what Drudge means in that clip when he says "the robots, which you're so profound on." The "you" is Alex Jones. I'm not a follower of Alex Jones, so whatever robot profundities have emitted from him I don't know. I know. I can Google it, but what will evil corporate Google let me see?
ALEX JONES: Folks, I have hundreds of articles I see every week about human-animal chimeras with no rights. You talked about people you know in research labs, I’ve talked to them too. You see humanoids, they’re like 80 percent gorilla, 80 percent pig, and they’re talking.... We need to make this illegal. This needs to be illegal. They’re talking about making it illegal to make child pedophile robots. Ok. Ok, make that illegal. But what about the humans spliced with animals? I mean this is beyond pedophila.
AND: That last bit makes commenter Balfegor say "That... that was a movie..." Ah, yes:

What's "bold" about this plan? Why isn't it utterly normal?

I'm reading this in the local paper:
A bold short-term plan to remove Madison’s most notorious criminals from the streets was announced by Madison Police Chief Mike Koval Wednesday because they are holding the city “hostage to our fears.”

As the number of homicides and calls for “shots fired” reach record levels with nearly five months remaining this year, “there is an anxiety level in this city that is palpable,” Koval said.

At the top of the most-wanted list are the city’s “most egregious offenders and gang members,” all of whom are currently wanted for various crimes or have broken their terms of probation, Koval said.
You know you have egregious offenders and gang members who've committed crimes or broken the terms of their probation and it takes a bold new plan to go get them? How does that happen?
The targets at the top of the list also are all African-American. Koval said he received calls Thursday from some people who told him his plan has racist overtones, particularly since less than 8 percent of the Madison population is African-American....
ADDED: Notice the statement from the mayor (at the end of the article), calling criminals "terrorists":
“Despite all these efforts, we have young black men disproportionately killing other young black men and it has to stop,” Soglin said. “My greatest frustration used to be Madison businesses and Madison community leaders who gave lip service to creating equity but not performance. They have stepped up. Now my greatest frustrations are residents of our community who have knowledge of these murderers and terrorists and are not stepping forward.”
I assume that he's using the term "terrorists" to connect to the "see-something-say-something" ethic that we hear in connection with radical Islamic terrorism.

"Obama to re-emerge in ‘delicate dance’ with Dems."

Speaking of alliteration...

This is what "one aide" says, according to The Hill.
Aides will huddle with Obama...
... hubristically huddle?...
...  in the coming weeks to plot out what shape the former president's fall schedule will take....
A tremulous triangle?
But advisers to the former president acknowledge he also doesn’t want to be “a foil” —as one top ally put it — for President Trump and the Republican leadership.
A furtive foil.
“He would be the target against which Trump would direct his fury,” added Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “From Trump’s perspective nothing better could happen.” 
Fury... and fire.
“He’ll tread lightly because he is not going to be the face of the party when it actually counts in 2020 and 2024,” Jillson added....
Lilting and lovely, delicately dancing.
Democrats are feeling angst about Clinton’s reemergence, worrying that it will point to a party looking backward instead of forward.

“It’s wise for both Clinton and Obama to hang back at this point,” one Democratic strategist said. “Otherwise our party will have an even harder time rebounding.

“We already lack a party leader, we lack a vision, we lack an identity,” the strategist said bluntly. “We can’t remain stuck in the past.” 
But Clinton is the more past past than Obama. Obama, the more up-to-date person of the past, can get the party closer to the present. From there — past, present — it's on to the pfuture. 

From "fire and fury" to "locked and loaded."

The poetry of Trump rages on.

"Trump Says Military Is ‘Locked and Loaded, Should North Korea Act Unwisely'" (NYT).

I hope Kim Jong-un appreciates alliteration.

ADDED: "And as soon as my coffee is locked and loaded — the phrase of the day, apparently...."

August 10, 2017

At the White Flower Café...


... you can talk all night.

Speaking of stereotypes...

"When I won a scholarship that paid for part of my education, a selection panelist told me that I got it because I had moving qualities of heart and originality that Asian applicants generally lacked. Asian applicants were all so alike, and I stood out. In truth, I wasn’t much different from other Asians I knew. I was shy and reticent, played a musical instrument, spent summers drilling math, and had strict parents to whom I was dutiful. But I got the message: to be allowed through a narrow door, an Asian should cultivate not just a sense of individuality but also ways to project 'Not like other Asians!'"

From "The Uncomfortable Truth About Affirmative Action and Asian-Americans," by Harvard lawprof Jeannie Suk Gersen in The New Yorker.

"Google CEO Sundar Pichai canceled an all-hands meeting about gender controversy due to employee worries of online harassment."

Recode reports.
Pichai was set to address the search giant’s 60,000 employees in 30 minutes in an all-hands meeting about a recent post by recently fired employee James Damore....

Wired reported earlier that conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos “posted on his Facebook page the Twitter biographies of eight Google employees who criticized Damore’s post.”...

Sources inside Google said some employees had begun to experience “doxxing” — online harassment that can take various forms and is defined “searching for and publishing private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.”
What a mess!

Why did Google fire James Damore?

If you read the note that went out on the 8th from Google CEO Sindar Pichai, it comes across as so conciliatory and inclusive that it's hard to understand the abrupt disinclusion of Damore.

Looking for an answer, I found this at Recode, which went up about an hour ago:
Pichai made the final decision about Damore’s fate, after what several sources with knowledge of the meeting characterized as a tough debate by top management, with initial disagreement over... what to do about Google’s continual and complex balancing act between free speech and fostering a safe workplace.... “But Sundar had to make a call about what kind of Google he wanted to stress and he did.”...

“I think the problem and also benefit of Google has been that we’ve created and encouraged an environment where everyone thinks they can say what they want, because that is what has always been the way it has been,” said another top exec. “But, at some point, if we really want to change, we have to think harder about what impact that has, especially when it makes women or others feel unsafe in the environment we have created.”...
Note that "or others" and consider this:
“It was a cordial discussion, considering the topic, and you could see how you could argue both sides on the face of it,” said one source. “But I think Damore’s focus on biology really made it clear that he had crossed the line.” What turned the tide, said sources, was when it was noted that if Damore’s dubious contentions about women’s skills were replaced by those about race or religion, there would be no debate.

In fact, [another longtime Google leader, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, wrote in Fortune]: “For instance, what if we replaced the word ‘women’ in the memo with another group? What if the memo said that biological differences amongst Black, Hispanic, or LGBTQ employees explained their underrepresentation in tech and leadership roles? Would some people still be discussing the merit of the memo’s arguments or would there be a universal call for swift action against its author? I don’t ask this to compare one group to another, but rather to point out that the language of discrimination can take many different forms and none are acceptable or productive.”...

Pichai wrote to employees on Monday...: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”
Maybe what is really freaking out Google management is race. I noticed this, in Damore's discussion with Jordan B. Peterson. Damore was provoked by "super-secret" meetings about "potentially illegal practices that they've been doing to try to increase diversity... basically treating people differently based on what their race is" (pause) "or gender are" (sic):

Since I used the word "phallocracy..."

... I decided to look it up in the NYT archive. I was surprised that it has only appeared 3 times. The Times is big on feminism, and it's a real word, defined in the OED as "A society dominated by males; the dominance of men over women; the distinguishing belief of a phallocrat."

January 27, 1985:
["Sisterhood Is Global/The International Women's Movement Anthology"] abounds with emotions and opinions, and has little of the style of a standard reference work. And despite its stress on statistics, accuracy is not its strongest suit.... The editor, Robin Morgan, chose the contributors and then gave them a free rein... For the Dutch contributor, the major issue is ''Do we still make love with our oppressor?'' The problems are rather different in Haiti, where teen-age girls stitch baseballs for 14 cents an hour. Elsewhere, the titles tell much of the story: ''Women in a Warrior Society'' (Australia); ''Fighting for the Right to Fight'' (Colombia); ''Elegance Amid the Phallocracy'' (Senegal)....
August 15, 1999:
For nigh on 20 years, Mary Daly, who is widely considered the world's foremost radical feminist philosopher and theologian, has barred men from her classroom at Boston College, arguing that they marred the learning experience of women.

For 20 years, too, the university objected to her separatism and penalized her with reprimands and denial of promotion, but never fired her. Nor could it change the strong mind of a woman who... even uses her own lexicon, with words like phallocracy and academentia....

This week, Boston College, a Jesuit-run Catholic university, officially took Dr. Daly's office back from her....
December 21, 2010:
She had names for what she was fighting. “Phallocracy, penocracy, jockocracy, cockocracy — call it whatever,” [Mary] Daly said. In 1987, with a co-author, she published her own dictionary — seventh in a line of nine books she wrote — meant to spell out a new lexicon for women... Anyone who didn’t bother to question male dominance was a snool; anyone who promoted it, a dickspeaker....
There's also "phallocrat," which the OED defines as "A person who advocates or assumes the existence of a male-dominated society; a male chauvinist or supremacist." The NYT has used that word only twice, and the first one predates the earliest publication found by the OED. Hey! I beat the OED on something. Here, from July 1972:
Nelly Kaplan, the French writer‐director whose “Papa, Les Petits Bateaus” and “A Very Curious Girl” were shown at the recent Festival of Women's Films, has writ ten two more screenplays which she hopes to put before the cameras soon in France. The first is called “Phallocrat,” and it deals with a man who is, tyrannical in his relations with his wife and daughter.
The other one, from 2010 is an article about Susan Faludi's memoir "In the Darkroom":
It is... a project as high concept as a sitcom pitch: What if a famous feminist author — whose activism was spurred by her father’s bullying machismo — discovered that said phallocrat had become a woman? Complications ensue. But Ms. Faludi mines her material less for easy ironies than for insights into the very meaning of identity.
So how did I happen to use that word today? Commenters have been pushing me to watch the video of James Damore — the memo-writing ex-employee of Google — with Jordan Peterson.

All I said was:
I watched the entire Peterson video. I should write something about it. Peterson had no idea how to draw Damore out and seemed only too willing to fill up all the available space on his own. Phallocracy in action??

"Given the choice between making out with Bill Nye (Science Guy and Perfect Man) and having lash extensions forever..."

"... I would choose the lash extensions, no hesitation. They’re that good."


At the Koi Kafé...


... you kan kompose kreations to your heart's kontent.

(And buy your kites and kimonos and kazoos through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Reviving the original meaning of "demoralize."

Here's something in the "Suggestions" section of James Damore's suddenly famous memo:
De-moralize diversity.

As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the “victims.”
The hyphen in "de-moralize" shows the writer meant to distinguish his word from the usual "demoralize" and to push us to see the new, unusual meaning he intends and thinks the reader can figure out.

(I'm reminded of an essay I wrote in junior high school. Taking the position that grades should be abolished, I titled the essay "The De-Grading System." Ironically, I received a C, and I've never forgotten what the teacher wrote on it: "Great title, but what are you talking about?")

Damore's use of "de-moralize" jumped out at me, because I've been listening to the wonderful lectures "English in America: A Linguistic History," and I happened to learn just the other day that "demoralize" was the one word that was first used by Noah Webster.

As a lexicographer, Noah Webster was focused on recording the words other people used and not on inventing words of his own, but he did also write a piece called "The Revolution in France" (1794), which contained this passage:
However necessary might be the revolution in France, and however noble the object, such great changes and a long war will have an effect on the moral character of the nation, which is deeply to be deplored. All wars have, if I may use a new but emphatic word, a demoralizing tendency; but the revolution in France, in addition to the usual influence of war, is attended with a total change in the minds of the people. They are released, not only from the ordinary restraints of law, but from all their former habits of thinking. From the fetters of a debasing religious system, the people are let loose in the wide field of mental licentiousness; and as men naturally run from one extreme to another, the French will probably rush into the wildest vagaries of opinion, both in their political and moral creeds. The decree of the convention authorizing divorces, upon the application of either party, alleging only unsuitableness of temper, hereby offering allurements to infidelity and domestic broils, is a singular proof of the little regard in which the morals of the nation are held by the ruling party. The efforts made by the convention to exterminate every thing that looks like imposing restraint upon the passions, by the fear of a supreme being and future punishments, are a most extraordinary experiment in government, to ascertain whether nations can exist in peace, order and harmony, without any such restraints. It is an experiment to prove that impressions of a supreme being and a divine providence, which men have hitherto considered as natural, are all the illusions of imagination; the effect of a wrong education. It is an experiment to try whether atheism and materialism, as articles of national creed, will not render men more happy in society than a belief in a God, a Providence and the Immortality of the soul. The experiment is new; it is bold; it is astonishing.
The Oxford English Dictionary identifies that as the first published use of the word. You can see that it means to do the reverse of moralizing. To moralize is "To interpret morally or symbolically; to explain the moral meaning of." And Webster's addition of the prefix "de" is easily understood as reversing the process.

Webster didn't use a hyphen. He just said: I'm creating a new word. But Damore's hyphen does the same thing, nudging you to build the easily understood parts into a word that you'll be able to figure out. Interestingly, we have to figure this idea of reversing the process of moralizing all over again, because the original meaning of the word, Webster's meaning, is almost never used anymore. In OED parlance, it's "archaic." (It's not obsolete, however, because The South Bend Tribune used it in 1998 to say "The whole unclean and sordid spectacle that has enriched the press, the media and the legal establishment at the expense of demoralizing young adults and people in general." We need not digress into what that "unclean and sordid spectacle" was. Though it sounds exciting, it's irrelevant to the subject at hand, the meaning of "demoralize.")

The word "demoralize" — as ordinary speakers of the language use it — has come to refer not to the destruction of moral principles but the destruction of morale. (I wonder if it was ever pronounced "de-morale-ize.") Somehow this newer meaning overwhelmed the original meaning, perhaps because it caught on in the military context, where there were so many occasions to deploy it and perhaps  because we haven't felt much of a need to talk about the reverse process of moralizing.

Of course, we still use and easily understand the word "moralizing." We continue to talk about infusing a subject with ideas about morality. The oldest related word is the adjective "moral," which means: "Of or relating to human character or behaviour considered as good or bad; of or relating to the distinction between right and wrong, or good and evil, in relation to the actions, desires, or character of responsible human beings; ethical." That goes back to the 14th century. The word "morale" is much more recent. Though it once meant the same as "morals," the usage we understand now — hope and confidence — arose in the military context, just like "demoralize," as we understand it today.

So my question for you is: Should we — on the occasion of the Damore memo — revive the original meaning of "demoralize"? It would confuse people for a while, but we could help them by retaining the hyphen until the new usage catches on. The benefit would be the parallelism with "moralize." Since we tend to object to "moralizing," "demoralizing" could be a useful word pointing the way to a needed process that should be applied where moralizing has already occurred. As Damore used the word, it was a call for sober scientific research and rational reflection: We've loaded too much morality into diversity, so let's demoralize it, clear out the obstructions, and figure out what's really going on.

"A 100-foot statue depicting a Chinese deity was covered with an enormous sheet this weekend in East Java Province, Indonesia..."

"... after Muslims threatened to tear the colossus down amid mounting ethnic and religious tensions across the country," the NYT reports.
The Islamist campaign against the statue, a depiction of the third-century general Guan Yu, who is worshiped as a god in several Chinese religions, began online and soon spread to the gates of a Chinese Confucian temple in Tuban, near the Java Sea coast, where the figure was erected last month.

On social media, Muslims assailed the statue as an “uncivilized” affront to Islam and the island’s “home people,” and a mob gathered this week outside the East Java legislature in the city of Surabaya to demand its destruction.
How did such a statue get erected in the first place? Here are the demographics of the province of East Java. Ethnicity:
Javanese (80%), Madurese (18%), Indian (10%), Chinese (2%)
Islam (96.36%), Christianity (2.4%), Buddhism (0.6%), Hinduism (0.5%), Confucianism (0.1%), Kejawen also practised
Is it about wealth and foreign influence? The NYT article says Muslim Indonesians are afraid "that as Beijing becomes more dominant in the region — exerting financial and military influence — ethnic Chinese will profit at the expense of Muslims."

Look at the photograph of Guan Yu. The military general as god is holding a sword so huge that it's sticking out from under the enormous sheet. The Times quotes the Indonesia director for Human Rights Watch, who criticizes the Muslims for using a "hostile interpretation" of the Quran to argue that the statue shows "that China is dominating Indonesia." But why put up a statue other than to say something?

One of the Muslims who's opposing the statue is quoted saying: "Actually we can allow them to build the statue, just not as high as it was and it should be in the temple, not outside... We are tolerant."

Why didn't that argument get made before the huge thing went up? Reading about the Guan Yu statue made me remember writing about colossal statues in the past. From a post I wrote in 2014:
Let's realize that throughout history statuary has been used to intimidate people. What's all that ancient Egyptian sculpture about if not to cow people into abject submission?

Think of all the Lenin and Stalin statues. And how about Saddam Hussein's despicable "Victory Arch"?

That post wasn't about a big intimidating god-warrior like Guan Yu, but about a life-size sculpture of a man stumbling forward in his underpants. That sculpture — "Sleepwalker," by Tony Matelli — upset some Americans at Wellesley College. They didn't throw a big sheet over "Sleepwalker," but they did put orange safety cones and yellow "caution" tape around him.

ADDED: Remember when the U.S. Department of Justice spent $8,000 on a big old drapery to cover the half-nude "Spirit of Justice" statue after photographers seemed too interested in framing Attorney General John Ashcroft with the looming breasts over his head?

"It is impossible to consider this field of science without grappling with the flaws of the institution—and of the deification—of science itself."

"For example: It was argued to me this week that the Google memo failed to constitute hostile behavior because it cited peer-reviewed articles that suggest women have different brains. The well-known scientist who made this comment to me is both a woman and someone who knows quite well that 'peer-reviewed' and 'correct' are not interchangeable terms. This brings us to the question that many have grappled with this week. It’s 2017, and to some extent scientific literature still supports a patriarchal view that ranks a man’s intellect above a woman’s. It’s easy to end up in an endless loop of using our prodigious scientific skills to carefully debunk the shoddy science that props up this argument. This is important and valuable work, but it’s also worth considering why this loop exists at all. Science’s greatest myth is that it doesn’t encode bias and is always self-correcting. In fact, science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias, and refusing to do anything about the fact that the data says something’s wrong...."

From "Stop Equating 'Science' With Truth/Evolutionary psychology is just the most obvious example of science's flaws," by particle physicist and philosopher of science Chanda Prescod-Weinstein in Slate.

IN THE COMMENTS: Matthew Sablan said:
Who is arguing the things claimed in the first paragraph? I haven't read the manifesto, but I thought he was talking trends and averages while reinforcing that individuals can fall anywhere on that continuum. What scientist is arguing for sexism in the workplace?
You need to go read the first paragraph at Slate to see how horribly Prescod-Weinstein summarizes what James Damore wrote. Scientists are untrustworthy, she argues and, simultaneously, demonstrates.

August 9, 2017

At the Mendota Café...


... you can write about anything.

And you can shop about anything through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

A texted conversation about comedy that got me looking up what jokes people told about Hitler during the Nazi Era.

Meade was off on a couple of errands. 1. To Whole Foods, for provisions and to return an off-tasting vat of freshly ground peanut butter, and 2. To Batteries + Bulbs — there is such a place — to get the weird battery that fits in the strange AT&T Uverse device that started screaming at us this morning. We'll join this texted conversation in the middle of things:

Meade: The checkout guy at WF was very nice to me

Althouse: About the p nut butter?

Meade: Asked if I had any plans for the day

Althouse: What did you say?

Meade: Fix a battery

Althouse: Did he use your straight line to make a good wisecrack

Too nice to make wisecrack
Only the gals are allowed
Guys have to be nice
And smile
Wisecracks for guys might = rape
I remember when guys were able to be funny.
Now, “it’s not funny” has become an article of faith
This made me research the question what jokes were made about Hitler in Nazi Germany. I found this article in Spiegel from 2006 about a book by Rudolph Herzog called "Heil Hitler, The Pig is Dead" (published in English as "Dead Funny: Telling Jokes in Hitler's Germany"). From the article:
Hitler visits a lunatic asylum. The patients give the Hitler salute. As he passes down the line he comes across a man who isn't saluting. 'Why aren't you saluting like the others?' Hitler barks. '“Mein Führer, I'm the nurse,' comes the answer. 'I'm not crazy!'

That joke may not be a screamer, but it was told quite openly along with many others about Hitler and his henchmen in the early years of the Third Reich, according to a new book on humor under the Nazis.

But by the end of the war, a joke could get you killed. A Berlin munitions worker, identified only as Marianne Elise K., was convicted of undermining the war effort 'through spiteful remarks' and executed in 1944 for telling this one:

Hitler and Göring are standing on top of Berlin's radio tower. Hitler says he wants to do something to cheer up the people of Berlin. 'Why don't you just jump?' suggests Göring.
Meade: When Trump starts executing people for telling bad jokes, we'll know he's literally Hitler.

If you encounter a mountain lion, whatever you do, don't turn off the video.

"I like presidents who had campaign managers that didn't have their homes raided."

The second-highest-rated comment on the NYT article "Manafort’s Home Searched as Part of Mueller Inquiry."

NYT: "Trump’s Harsh Language on North Korea Has Little Precedent, Experts Say."

"Little Precedent" ≠ no precedent, and, in fact, the "little precedent" is — in the historical scheme, very big.

First, there was President Harry S. Truman, in 1945, demanding that the Japanese surrender or “they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

Second, there was Bill Clinton, in 1993:
... during a speech in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea that if Pyongyang ever used nuclear weapons, “it would be the end of their country.”
Victor Cha (of the Center for Strategic and International Studies) said “I take Trump’s statement in the same spirit” as Bill Clinton's. It's “a message of deterrence, which is important now to avoid any miscalculation.”

There are 2 other experts quoted in the article. One is Michael Beschloss who wonders if Trump "was impulsive." To be impulsive in making a statement like that would (of course) "be very much out of the history of the presidency on matters like this.... You don’t have presidents blurting out things when lives are at stake, and if that is what it was, it would be scary."

Remember, what Trump said was: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before."

Did Trump speak on impulse or with attention to precedent? My opinion is influenced by the phrase "fire and fury." There's alliteration, like Truman's "rain of ruin," and the phrase after the alliterative phrase is almost the same as Truman's. Compare Trump's "like the world has never seen" to Truman's "the like of which has never been seen on this earth." Trump then repeats himself, with a bit of variation. He says "the likes of which this world has never seen before," which gets closer to Truman. It's almost as if he was aware of his difference from Truman and decided to repeat himself to tighten the connection.

He also added the non-alliterative "power" to "fire and fury," and that sounds like an ad lib to me because of the inclusion of the weak introductory word "frankly." Was that impulsive or blurting (to use Beschloss's words)? I wouldn't say so. "Power" conveys less of a threat of nuclear annihilation. It's more general and more opaque. There are endless ways to exercise power. It's a reference to America's great stature in the world — stature that we need to maintain, whatever we think of Donald Trump.

"So, if he’s not running for president, what exactly is Zuckerberg doing?"

"Nathan Hubbard, a former executive at Twitter, recently posted a series of tweets outlining his theory for what Zuckerberg has been up to during the last few months—and it’s a theory that a lot of people in Silicon Valley subscribe to. 'Zuck isn’t running for President. He’s trying to understand the role the product he created played in getting this one elected,' Hubbard wrote on Twitter. 'Zuck woke up on Nov 9th acutely aware that FB had facilitated a new shift he didn’t foresee or understand; that’s terrifying to a founder.' I’ve spoken to several Silicon Valley executives and tech journalists about this theory, and it makes a fair amount of sense. People at Facebook have also privately told me how they were caught completely off guard by the role that the social network played in the election. But..."

From "MARK ZUCKERBERG’S POLITICAL AMBITIONS ARE GRANDER THAN YOU THINK/He’s probably going to seek higher office one day, and it looks like he’s already preparing for the job." by Nick Bilton (in Vanity Fair).

Did Google women stay home from work because they were upset over the Damore memo?

I'm seeing this purported fact in right-wing media, with the usual mockery, but I'm skeptical. I'll just say that before doing my research. I'll update soon.

UPDATE 1: First stop, Twitchy, where the headline is "NPR: Women at Google were so upset over memo citing biological differences they skipped work" and there are snarky tweets like "Women at Google defy stereotype by getting super-emotional and calling in sick over a man saying something they don't like." And "Emotional women skipped work because they were triggered by a memo that suggested that women are generally more emotional." The snark practically writes itself, because NPR really did tweet: "A former Google software engineer says some women at the company skipped work today, upset by the leaked memo." One thing is obvious: The NPR cocoon is embarrassingly cozy if it didn't see what an easy straight line it was offering to people who support Dalmore and think he made some good points in his memo.

UPDATE 2: NPR's tweet linked to an NPR article titled "Google Reportedly Fires Employee Who Slammed Diversity Efforts." The relevant material is:
Another software engineer who used to work for Google, Kelly Ellis, says some women who still work at the company stayed home Monday because the memo made them "uncomfortable going back to work."
I wonder how Kelly Ellis knows what women in her former workplace did and why they did it. Is Kelly Ellis involved in the prospective lawsuit discussed in the previous post? We're told "Ellis said she left Google in 2014 after she was sexually harassed." ("Ellis said" — we don't know what really happened and are not told about the litigation status of this claim.)

Why did NPR speak with Kelly Ellis and why did NPR not talk to any of the women whose actions and emotions it is portraying? If I had to guess, I'd say it's because Ellis said something that NPR believed fit very nicely into the story it wanted to tell, and it either didn't bother to check more deeply or it tried and couldn't find these women but still thought the idea was too good not to use. Again, NPR is in a cocoon if it didn't see how this fact/"fact" would be used by those who want to say there's no real problem of gender discrimination in the tech industry.

I'd like to see something more than Ellis's statement to support this notion that Google women stayed home because they were "uncomfortable," but I do just want to note that Ellis gave support for my hypothesis that Damore is a scapegoat. She said his memo wasn't that different from what she saw "being shared on internal message boards and other different internal forums" when she worked at Google (which was more than 3 years ago).

UPDATE 3: I can't find anything else, and until I do — help me out if you can — I'm going to answer my question in the post title: No. It's a myth, an urban legend. I'll just front-page something I said in the comments in response to Matthew Sablan:
In NPR's defense, they're quoting/paraphrasing an ex-Google employee. So, they didn't come up with the idea on their own, just reporting what a source told them.
I said:
Why does that woman count as a source? NPR is responsible for accepting her as the sole source -- sole reported source -- of a fact about which she doesn't have first-hand knowledge. The source also has a pre-existing dispute with Google. Whether her claim of sexual harassment is true or not, she is hostile to Google and her interests are not even the same as the interests of the women whose actions and feelings she is purporting to know and express accurately.

The source bailed out of Google, so it might serve her interests to portray Google as a place other women will want to get away from, but those other women are still employed at Google, and they may not want to be seen that way. They may understand that staying out of work makes them look too emotional and safe-space-seeking.

You need to be skeptical about things that fit your template. Those who are accepting this report at face value and using it to support the idea that women really are emotional and ill-suited to a high-pressure workplace are engaging in the same kind of cocoonish behavior that we're seeing from NPR.

"More than 60 current and former Google employees are considering bringing a class-action lawsuit alleging sexism and pay disparities against women..."

The Guardian reports:
James Finberg, the civil rights attorney working on the possible legal action on behalf of the female employees, told the Guardian they contend they have earned less than men at Google despite equal qualifications and comparable positions....

A class-action gender discrimination suit would build on a case brought by the US Department of Labor (DoL), which is arguing that Google systematically underpays women and recently convinced a judge to force the company to hand over a portion of the company’s salary records....

“[The prospective plaintiffs in the lawsuit] are concerned that women are channeled to levels and positions that pay less than men with similar education and experience,” Finberg said.... Several women he interviewed have said they make around $40,000 less than male colleagues doing the same work, with one woman saying she makes two-thirds of a male peer’s salary....

“I felt like I wasn’t playing the game in the ‘boys club’ environment,” said another woman who worked for two years as a user experience designer and recently left Google. She said she regularly dealt with sexist remarks, such as comments about her looks, and that she felt it was discriminatory when she was denied a promotion despite her achievements and large workload.

“I was watching male coworkers progress at a faster rate than myself. It was really disturbing,” said the designer, who also requested anonymity....

The women’s stories bolster the claims of labor department officials, who have said that a preliminary analysis found that women face “extreme” pay discrimination across the company and have recently raised concerns that Google’s strict confidentiality agreements are discouraging employees from speaking up.
I will repeat what I said in a post yesterday about the firing of James Damore:
It's possible that what Damore talked about in his memo actually reflects what many people at Google privately think and are trying to hide and that he was treated harshly to manufacture evidence against a proposition that matters in the lawsuit.

I'd like to know a lot more, so I'll just throw out the hypothesis that Damore is being scapegoated not because Google is dominated by social-justice warriors but because there really is deeply entrenched prejudice against women in the tech field and Google is desperate to hide it.

August 8, 2017

Lake Mendota, today.


Open thread in the comments.

And consider The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"He’s just a very plain, simple, common, ordinary, Nebraska cat. Really that is all he amounts to."

Said Bob Dylan about Marlon Brando. It was 1965, and Dylan was talking to Allen Ginsberg and had just gotten done telling Ginsberg that Marlon Brando "thinks about the universe, like you."

What sense does that make? free polls

Goodbye to Glen Campbell.

The great musician was 81, and we knew he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. From the obituary in Variety:
Born into a sharecropping family in a tiny town in southwestern Arkansas, Campbell was the seventh of 12 children. Picking up guitar at an early age, he left home at age 14 to pursue music... Out west, Campbell soon found himself an in-demand session musician... recording guitar parts for such varied acts as Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, the Monkees, Merle Haggard and Elvis Presley.

Campbell reached the height of his session player power in 1965, when he became a touring member of the Beach Boys — playing bass to compensate for the absent Brian Wilson — as well as contributing guitar parts to the group’s landmark “Pet Sounds” album...

... Campbell’s career experienced a sudden, dramatic upswing in 1967, when he recorded a rendition of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind.”... Follow-up single “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was an even bigger hit.... [H]e began hosting a weekly CBS variety show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour”....

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

"He has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before."

That's Donald Trump's threat. It counters this from North Korea: "Packs of wolves are coming in attack to strangle a nation. They should be mindful that the D.P.R.K.’s strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength."

The NYT reports.

The next permutation in Drudge's "robot rape" story.

"Robot Rape" was Drudge's top story earlier this morning, and it appeared in irrelevant proximity to a photograph of Keith Richards smoking. I talked about that here. Now, "NKOREA MISSILES NUKE READY" has taken precedence over the always-inconsequential threat that robots might be coming to rape us. The rape story, discussed at the link, is the supposed problem of robots as rape victims, not perpetrators. But the new image Drudge has for the story is much more obviously trying to make you think the robots are coming to get you:

By the way, I decided in late July that I'm in favor of sex robots — for reasons outlined here and here.

They make it look like a medical treatment.

"The fault here is not with search and social networking, per se. Those services have enormous value."

"The fault lies with advertising business models that drive companies to maximize attention at all costs, leading to ever more aggressive brain hacking. Anyone who wants to pay for access to addicted users can work with Facebook and YouTube. Lots of bad people have done it. One firm was caught using Facebook tools to spy on law abiding citizens. A federal agency confronted Facebook about the use of its tools by financial firms to discriminate based on race in the housing market. America’s intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in our election and that Facebook was a key platform for spreading misinformation. For the price of a few fighter aircraft, Russia won an information war against us. Incentives being what they are, we cannot expect Internet monopolies to police themselves..."

From "I invested early in Google and Facebook and regret it. I helped create a monster," by Roger McNamee (at USA Today).

"Symbiotic relationships, both parasitic and mutualistic, are ubiquitous in nature."

"Understanding how these symbioses evolve, from bacteria and their phages to humans and our gut microflora, is crucial in understanding how life operates. Often, symbioses consist of a slowly evolving host species with each host only interacting with its own sub-population of symbionts. The Red Queen hypothesis describes coevolutionary relationships as constant arms races with each species rushing to evolve an advantage over the other, suggesting that faster evolution is favored. Here, we use a simple game theoretic model of host-symbiont coevolution that includes population structure to show that if the symbionts evolve much faster than the host, the equilibrium distribution is the same as it would be if it were a sequential game where the host moves first against its symbionts."

He's talking about Google, right? 

(I'm trying to understand James Damore — not just why he was fired, but why he was hired.)

Wikileaks offers a job to fired Google engineer James Damore.

Things that have nothing to do with Keith Richards.

Drudge looks like this right now:

Great photograph of Keith Richards. I'm really enjoying it, but... robot rape? The link goes to The College Fix:
John Banzhaf, a well-known activist professor of public interest law at George Washington University Law School, says experts disagree on the consequences of allowing people to engage in mock acts of rape with humanoid dolls, and lawmakers should vet this issue as soon as possible....

“The obvious first step would be to have hearings and do studies to determine just how serious the threat is, whether there are any real benefits to having sexbots programmed to simulate being raped, and then what if any new laws, regulations, etc. might be appropriate,” he said....

Sexbots, already in use in European brothels, can be intentionally set to “frigid” mode in which the user must effectively rape the robot because it will resist advances....
Let me know when they make a robot in the image of Keith Richards and program it to "effectively rape" the customer who intentionally sets herself in "frigid" mode. 

The "In Defense of Cigarettes" piece at the link does feature a (different) photo of Keith Richards smoking and a text reference to him, but it's just the fusty Weekly Standard musing about whether it was better back in the good old days:
I liked the ceremony of the cigarette. The implicit danger of starting a fire near your face. The punctuation that talking while smoking affords, giving your words animation and shading: the stops and starts, the dramatic pauses, sitting still after exhaling while letting the smoke do all the work around you. It could make even some suburban hump drinking piss-water beer at the Greene Turtle on a Tuesday afternoon feel like Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past or like Keith Richards in life.
What's a suburban hump?  Is "hump" even a noun there? Suburban hump drinking piss-water beer... I'm just guessing that "hump" and "beer" are nouns, that there's a type of person called a "hump" who lives in suburbia and that beer needs to be compared to piss for the billionth time.

The OED does have 2 definitions of the noun "hump" that are a type of person. One is "hump-backed person." The other is "Sexual intercourse; (hence) a woman who makes herself available for sexual intercourse. coarse slang." So it's like calling somebody a "fuck." But is it special for women? Because I don't get the process of smoking making a woman feel like Robert Mitchum. I do, however, understand how a woman smoking might get into the feeling that she's like Keith Richards.

"As a Federal District Court judge in New York, I often encountered this courtroom scene..."

"A senior partner in a large law firm would be arguing a motion. I would ask a tough question. He (and it was usually a man) would turn to the young lawyer seated next to him (often a woman). After he conferred with her repeatedly, I would ask myself why she wasn’t doing the arguing, since she knew the case cold. In the 22 years I spent on the federal bench before stepping down last year, not much changed when it came to listening to lawyers. The talking was almost always done by white men. Women often sat at counsel table, but were usually junior and silent. It was a rare day when a woman had a lead role — even though women have made up about half of law school graduates since the early 1990s...."

Writes Shira A. Scheindlin in an op-ed in the NYT.

"Google Fires Author of Divisive Memo on Gender Differences."

Bloomberg reports.
Earlier on Monday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees that said portions of the memo “violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”...  A Google representative, asked about the dismissal, referred to Pichai’s memo.

[James] Damore’s 10-page memorandum accused Google of silencing conservative political opinions and argued that biological differences play a role in the shortage of women in tech and leadership positions. It circulated widely inside the company and became public over the weekend, causing a furor that amplified the pressure on Google executives to take a more definitive stand.
I'm still trying to understand how Damore distributed the memo. Did he shoot it out to a lot of people in an effort to suddenly force them to face up to the issue in his terms right now or did he muse on paper to develop his own thoughts and only share it with a few people who'd shown an interest in working through ideas they'd already talked about with him?

The phrase "It circulated widely inside the company" doesn't explain what he did. I can't figure out what to think about what happened to him without knowing more.

Firing him seems cruel and chilling toward free speech, but the company is entitled and even required to demand that employees not participate in creating unequal working conditions for men and women.

The memo and surrounding debate comes as Google fends off a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor alleging the company systemically discriminates against women. Google has denied the charges, arguing that it doesn’t have a gender gap in pay, but has declined to share full salary information with the government. 
It's possible that what Damore talked about in his memo actually reflects what many people at Google privately think and are trying to hide and that he was treated harshly to manufacture evidence against a proposition that matters in the lawsuit.

I'd like to know a lot more, so I'll just throw out the hypothesis that Damore is being scapegoated not because Google is dominated by social-justice warriors but because there really is deeply entrenched prejudice against women in the tech field and Google is desperate to hide it.

ADDED: From the NYT article on the firing:
Before being fired, Mr. Damore said, he had submitted a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board claiming that Google’s upper management was “misrepresenting and shaming me in order to silence my complaints.” He added that it was “illegal to retaliate” against an N.L.R.B. charge.

"The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!"

"Bill Burr’s 2003 report recommended using numbers, obscure characters and capital letters and updating regularly—he regrets the error."

It's in the Wall Street Journal, so good luck trying to read it. Maybe the headline alone will be useful.

The new guidelines, which are already filtering through to the wider world, drop the password-expiration advice and the requirement for special characters, [said Paul Grassi, an NIST standards-and-technology adviser]. Those rules did little for security -- they "actually had a negative impact on usability," he said.

Long, easy-to-remember phrases now get the nod over crazy characters, and users should be forced to change passwords only if there is a sign they may have been stolen, says NIST, the federal agency that helps set industrial standards in the U.S....

Academics who have studied passwords say using a series of four words can be harder for hackers to crack than a shorter hodgepodge of strange characters -- since having a large number of letters makes things harder than a smaller number of letters, characters and numbers.
The article points us to this popular cartoon, which memorably and accurately shows the problem:

And I liked this:
Collectively, humans spend the equivalent of more than 1,300 years each day typing passwords, according to Cormac Herley, a principal researcher at Microsoft Corp.
And here's Lorrie Faith Cranor, the woman who made a dress out of the 500 most-common passwords (like iloveyou).

August 7, 2017

At the White House Café...


... you can say what you like.

(And please consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Are you planning to watch the solar eclipse?

Are you taking into account the chances of cloud cover?

How far are you willing to travel to get to the total eclipse zone? The more trouble you're going to, the more you might care about whether you're going to end up where the sun is obscured by clouds.

Are you worrying about traffic? If you're headed for an area where there's going to be traffic heading into the total eclipse zone, are you considering how much worse it will be if at the last minute, people are scrambling to get out from under clouds?

Are you buying special glasses and, if so, are you seeing all the warnings about fake solar eclipse glasses?

I look up an address of great 19th century importance and am astonished to see that it is one block from where I used to live.

I had no idea. And it looks so nondescript today. I took this screen shot from Google Street View:


And yet, what was important about it was at the basement level, and you had to enter it through that hatchway in the pavement that you can see in my Google grab. That is, it was inconspicuous in its heyday.

(The place is named and Wikipedia-linked at the end of the previous post. I made a new post to highlight this amazing photograph and the strangeness of my proximity to it... half a lifetime ago.)

"The phrase well-rounded derives from phrenology..."

I'm reading that in "Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians," by Justin Martin:
Whitman haunted the Phrenological Cabinet of Fowler & Wells.... On July 16, 1849, Whitman paid three dollars to have his skull read by Lorenzo Fowler. On a scale from 1 to 7, Whitman rated an exemplary 6.5 on such traits as benevolence, self-esteem, and firmness. He received one of his lowest marks for acquisitiveness, the pursuit of money and material gain. The low rating sat fine with Whitman, struck him almost as a veiled compliment. In his report, Lorenzo noted, “Size of head large . . . a certain reckless swing of animal will, too unmindful, probably, of the conviction of others.” He added, “You are yourself at all times.” Overall, Fowler painted a flattering picture of Whitman, casting him as a well-rounded modern man. (The phrase well-rounded derives from phrenology and is based on the notion that an actualized person has a nicely shaped head, without any distortive bumps.) The results greatly pleased Whitman.
Is that really true? I'm seeing in the OED that "well-rounded" to refer to visible objects like trees and horse's hooves is very old, but in reference to a person's character it does go back only to the mid-19th century when phrenology was was the rage. The oldest quote comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow — "There was something so complete and well-rounded in his life." Longfellow was loathed by Whitman, enough so that — according to the above-linked book — Whitman once insulted a man by calling him "a young Longfellow." Whitman's crowd understood:
The jibe was brief, pithy, and a direct hit: where Poe was this crowd’s patron saint, Longfellow was its bête noire. As a sentimental poet, Longfellow was anathema to many in the Pfaff’s set. They snidely referred to him as “Longwindedfellow.” 
By the way, here's how Whitman (in 1856) insulted the President of the United States: "The President eats dirt and excrement for his daily meals, likes it, and tries to force it on The States."

Here's an article in The Atlantic — "The Shape of Your Head and the Shape of Your Mind" — that reinforces the claim that the term "well-rounded" comes from phrenology:
The national obsession with head size and shape... infected daily conversation. Many modern phrases trace their roots to phrenology, including “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” “well rounded,” and “shrink” (as in “shrinking” certain undesirable qualities). “Getting your head examined” also has phrenological roots. Though generally considered an insult today, in the past, it was just what most people wanted.....
ADDED: Pfaff's:
"Pfaff’s was the Andy Warhol factory, the Studio 54, the Algonquin Round Table all rolled into one."