August 19, 2017

Playing the wrong song.

On December 16, 1977, Elvis Costello was on "Saturday Night Live, and he was supposed to play "Less Than Zero." He gets started, then starts waving his hands and saying "Stop! Stop!"...

and "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, there's no reason to do this song here" — it was about some British political situation — and switches to "Radio Radio."

Later, Costello said he got his inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, who was on Lulu's BBC TV show back in January 1969 and supposed to play "Hey Joe." Hendrix starts the song, then stops and says: "We'd like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate a song to the Cream regardless of what kind of group they might be. I'd like to dedicate this to Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce." Cream had broken up a couple months before.

Jimi then switches to "Sunshine of Your Love" and goes on and on until "We're being pulled off the air":

At the Questionable Artwork Café...


... you can write about anything — this is a café post — but I am inviting you to consider whether this painting is deplorable.(Double click the image to enlarge and see details much more clearly.)

Does it deserve a place of honor or is this something that good citizens should pressure the museum to store in its basement along with other disreputable junk from America's shameful past?

And if these proddings amuse you, encourage me by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

ADDED: Here's the wall card for that painting (at the Indianapolis Museum of Art):

Not very informative — politically — is it? Why did Thomas Hart Benton lead "Regionalists" and why did these people "favor images of America, especially the rural Midwest"? It's 1942. It's WWII. It's the year FDR relocated Japanese Americans to internment camps. Why so hot to show us the America of the rural Midwest where farmers still plow with a horse? Isn't this the kind of image Hitler would have enjoyed? Hitler too objected to the abstract art of the Modernists. He himself painted rural scenes. For example:
And yet, what a difference between Hitler's rural scene and Benton's. Benton had everything rolling and flowing, pulsating with life. Hitler doesn't even have a person or an animal, and there's no activity in his inanimate things. Hitler's painting looks like a snapshot of a real place — a boring place not even worth photographing. Benton's painting refers to reality, but everything is transformed. He takes the most humble subject and pumps it up into the mythic, heroic, and phantasmagoric.

But who knows? Maybe that's what Hitler meant to do too, and he was too crappy a painter to achieve the intended effect. And more importantly, similarity/difference to Hitler is not a good enough political test, especially for art.

"By identifying sexual desire as a universal drive with endlessly idiosyncratic objects determined by individual experiences and memories..."

"... Freud, more than anyone, not only made it possible to see female desire as a force no less powerful or valid than male desire; he made all the variants of sexual proclivity dance along a shared erotic continuum. In doing so, Freud articulated basic conceptual premises that reduced the sway of experts who attributed diverse sexual urges to hereditary degeneration or criminal pathology. His work has allowed many people to feel less isolated and freakish in their deepest cravings and fears...."

From a NYT book review of "FREUD/The Making of an Illusion." The book is by Frederick Crews, who is extremely hostile to Freud. The review is by George Prochnik, who sees value in Freud, despite all of the bad science and self-deception belabored by Crews.
Crews has been debunking Freud’s scientific pretensions for decades now; and it seems fair to ask what keeps driving him back to stab the corpse again. 
The Oedipus complex?
Now that we’ve effectively expelled Freud from the therapeutic clinic, have we become less neurotic? With that baneful “illusion” gone, and with all our psychopharmaceuticals and empirically grounded cognitive therapy techniques firmly in place, can we assert that we’ve advanced toward some more rational state of mental health than that enjoyed by our forebears in the heyday of analysis? Indeed, with a commander in chief who often seems to act entirely out of the depths of a dark unconscious, we might all do better to read more, not less, of Freud.
Ooh! Trump keeps popping up everywhere. It's like sex in Freud. It/he is everywhere. I'm going to read Freud just because I'd like some reading material where I know Trump won't show up.

Just kidding. What I really mean is that there's some reason we seem to need a big, dominating, larger-that-life male figure to loom over us and mess with our mind.

Prochnik says Trump seems to act entirely out of the depths of a dark unconscious, but maybe the feelings we project onto Trump are arising entirely out of the depths of our dark unconscious.

"Do not waste your time photographing it."

From "Five Things You Must Not Do During Totality At The Solar Eclipse."

But let me offer something for your things-to-do list: If you must take photographs, take photographs of things other than the eclipse. Maybe something about the landscape in the dark or with an approaching moon shadow. And if you're stuck surrounded by people during the eclipse, maybe get something interesting about how human beings behave, such as stupidly wasting their time trying to get their own amateur photograph of the thing that pros will be photographing to death. I'll bet lots of people will try for the selfie "Me With the Total Eclipse of the Sun." Pictures of them posing for themselves with the eclipse framed in the background might be amusing.

Who would spray paint "Tear It Down" on a statue of Joan of Arc in New Orleans?

I'm reading this story at PJ Media  — which misquotes the graffiti in the headline and makes it sound as though the graffiti was on the statue when it's actually on the base. So let's switch to The Times-Picayune (which is linked at PJ Media):
The phrase "Tear it Down" was hastily sprayed in black paint across the base of the golden Joan of Arc statue on Decatur Street in the French Quarter sometime earlier this week. It has since been removed, with only the vaguest traces of the paint remaining.

The "Tear it Down" tag would seem to relate to the debate surrounding the city's ongoing removal of four Confederate monuments. But the statue of Joan of Arc, a 15th-century military leader, martyr and Catholic saint, hasn't been mentioned in the controversy to this point.
Now, wait a minute! This article is from last May, and the PJ Media article went up yesterday and doesn't mention that the defacing of the Joan of Arc monument predated the current uproar over the removal of Civil War monuments. But there was a "Take Em Down NOLA" movement at the time that — as the Times-Picayune tells us — aimed at the local Confederate monuments (and this group denies targeting the Joan).

Anyway, who would spray paint "Tear It Down" on a Joan of Arc monument? Do you leap to assume that some idiot believes that Joan of Arc has to do with the Confederacy? Maybe that's how you have fun. At PJ Media, the author (Tom Knighton) does not assume it was ignorance about Joan of Arc. At the end of his piece he says:
It's also possible that this was the result of someone being intentionally ridiculous. After all, while removing statues of Confederate leaders is the big thing, there are also movements to remove a Thomas Jefferson monument from outside of Columbia University and a Teddy Roosevelt from outside of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. So maybe someone is just trolling these lunatics.
Yes, that theory fits the facts better than the theory that some idiot thought it was a pro-Confederacy statue.

But it could also be anti-Catholic. Speaking of ignorance of American history, it's ignorant not to know that the KKK and other nationalists have been virulently anti-Catholic. Here's a Wikipedia article, "Anti-Catholicism in the United States."

Here's some KKK artwork from 1925:
You see the tear-it-down enthusiasm.

There are people who would want to take down a statue of a Catholic saint. Quite aside from the KKK, what about people who want the strict separation of religion and government? Why is there a religious monument in the public square?

If "the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over" — as Bannon says — then who is this Trump-minus-Bannon we've got now?

The quote comes from The Weekly Standard:
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said.... “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
The "we" in Bannon's quote is a subset of the people who voted for Trump. Clearly, Trump won the Electoral College, which is our system. He won the game according to our rules, but his opponent got more votes and something like 40% of the eligible voters abstained for one reason or another. But even if you look only at the — what is it? — 26% of the people who voted for Trump, only some unknown fraction of that were people who fit Bannon's "we," people who want whatever Trump-minus-Bannon is not.
Among the senior advisers competing with Bannon in trying to shape Trump’s agenda, and his tone, were the president’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared. Bannon pointedly voiced criticism of those in the president’s sphere whom he considered to be globalists, or liberals (or both), and the president himself plainly bristled over the early attention that Bannon got from the press (including a Time magazine cover, which is said to have particularly irked Trump).
Yes, some of the people who voted for Trump want something more moderate, something represented by Jared and Ivanka, the Trump who said things like:
“Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the L.G.B.T. community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words? I will tell you who the better friend is, and someday I believe that will be proven out, big-league.”
The big league is a strange place. You never know what you're getting when you vote for a President. Some people who voted for Trump were saying he didn't really mean those harsher things he said. Voters hear what they want to hear or hear and hope for the best or just loathe both candidates and join the 40% who abstained or pick somebody because they're more afraid the other person. I was in that last category, and while I have never revealed which of the 2 candidates I voted for in spite of disliking both of them — I voted for the one I disliked more! — there's no way I'm in Bannon's "we."

Bannon deserves to feel great pride that he got Trump over the line. He's entitled to think of himself as the without-which-nothing of Trump's presidency. But the intensely excited subset of Trump supporters don't deserve to get everything they want. Trump is the President of all of us, even those who didn't vote or who are not eligible to vote or who voted for Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. The people outside of Bannon's "we" are the vast majority of Americans and include millions of people who voted for Trump and would like to vote for him again in 2020.
“Now, it’s gonna be Trump,” Bannon said. “The path forward on things like economic nationalism and immigration, and his ability to kind of move freely . . . I just think his ability to get anything done—particularly the bigger things, like the wall, the bigger, broader things that we fought for, it’s just gonna be that much harder."...

“I think they’re going to try to moderate him,” he says. “I think he’ll sign a clean debt ceiling, I think you’ll see all this stuff. His natural tendency—and I think you saw it this week on Charlottesville—his actual default position is the position of his base, the position that got him elected. I think you’re going to see a lot of constraints on that. I think it’ll be much more conventional.”
But the vast majority of Americans — 80? 90? 95%? — want something more conventional! Convention is tradition. Trump said "Make America Great Again," invoking the past, tradition, and there is a longing for stability and recognizable values and principles and inclusiveness.
“I feel jacked up,” he says. “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a f***ing machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
Great! Get out there where you belong. Speaking freely, speaking directly to us, out there where we can see you and where you don't have your hands on political power.

August 18, 2017

August's autumn.

The colors are beginning to change, I see:


Photographed today, near Lake Mendota.

Feel free to write about anything in the comments.

"The anger and action aimed at the statues are reminiscent of recent controversies over two prominent artworks..."

"... Dana Schutz’s painting 'Open Casket' depicting Emmett Till, the murdered African-American teenager, in the Whitney Biennial, and Sam Durant’s sculpture gallows 'Scaffold,' at the Walker Art Center’s sculpture garden, which was denounced by Native American groups for recalling an act of genocide. Protesters objected to both pieces on racial, ethnic, and historical grounds and called for their removal or destruction. Neither work celebrated the Confederacy or slavery, however, and both were created as art rather than as public memorials like some of the statues now being removed."

Created as art? What does that even mean? They were political and intentionally so.

The passage is from "Trump Aside, Artists and Preservationists Debate the Rush to Topple Statues" (NYT).

Both "Open Casket" and "Scaffold" were discussed on the blog. Here:
But why would the Whitney choose ["Open Casket"] for its vaunted biennial? You could say that the Whitney should want art that challenges us, but this is simply bad. The historical photograph speaks for itself. What did Schutz contribute with her simplified and smeared paint job?
And here:
What were the mental processes of the elite arts people who decided this was a good idea? Now, they have to backtrack, because their mistake was so bad and they want to salvage their reputation. They're dismantling the thing they should never have put up. That's not censorship. That's belated shame.
Also from the NYT article:
[Some] argue that removing a statue from its place of origin diminishes the power of its historical significance. “The meanings and the history that we are able to draw from them in a different site, especially a sort of sanitized site like a museum, are not going to be the same,” said Michele H. Bogart, a professor at Stony Brook University. “That is a historical loss.”
This is an important point: Don't sanitize the history. Some people say the history remains the same when the statue is taken down. They're probably thinking of the history of the Civil War. But there's also the history of putting up monuments.

The statues were put up by white people who wanted to express something, and they are now being taken down because white people are ashamed of what they expressed back then. They want to delete the old evidence and use the deletion as the creation of new evidence — evidence of how kindly white people really are. Why should white people have such an easy time covering up their shame? Removing the statues can be portrayed as a kindness toward black people, but critical race theory teaches us to presume that what white people do they do for themselves.

"Steve is now unchained. Fully unchained."

"He’s going nuclear. You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad."

Comments from 2 different Bannon friends, relayed by Politico.


“First he’s gonna figure things out with Bob and Bekah [Mercer],” said one Bannon ally. “Breitbart’s certainly the likely landing spot.” This ally said that Bannon may also move to a Mercer-funded outside group, or even start a new one.

Another friend of Bannon’s doubted this: “Why would he help them from the outside at this point? Run the outside group and then Jared Kushner takes credit?"...

We can infer that Kanye West, Russell Simmons, and Sean Combs declined to talk to the NYT about Donald Trump.

I'm reading "Circling the Square of President Trump’s Relationship With Race" in today's NYT.

First, let me get this out of the way. What's with "Circling the Square"? The standard expression, referring to an ancient geometry problem, is "squaring the circle." That's a used as a metaphor for something you just can't do. I'm seeing "Circling the Square" as a book title, referring to the Egyptian Revolution, where there were demonstrations in a square — Tahrir Square. The title seems to be a play on the the old expression "squaring the circle." In this NYT article, however, there's no square to form the basis of a play on the old expression. I think it's just a weird mistake.

Now, let's get to the meat of this article. It seems apparent that the NYT set out to find out if there's any evidence that Trump is a racist. Read the article. They found strong evidence that he is absolutely not any sort of a racist. The headline ought to come out and celebrate his excellent record.

The article begins with Kara Young, a "biracial" model who went out with Trump for 2 years and says “I never heard him say a disparaging comment towards any race of people." (Young, like Barack Obama, had one black parent and one white parent.) The only seemingly negative thing the NYT got out of her was that he noticed the high number of black people in the crowd at the U.S. Open when Venus and Serena Williams were playing.

But this is what really struck me:
Beyond dating a biracial woman, [Trump] made outsize efforts to hang out publicly with African-American celebrities: the boxing promoter Don King, the hip-hop impresarios Kanye West, Russell Simmons and Sean Combs, and celebrities as big as Muhammad Ali, James Brown and Michael Jackson.
Kanye West, Russell Simmons, and Sean Combs are all still alive. Do they not take phone calls from the New York Times? I've got to assume they were called and they all refused to talk. I'm going to guess that they all would give a good report but won't speak because they'd be savaged economically if they spoke well of Trump. But they don't have to speak. The inference is so strong that the silence is enough.

But let's see what these men may have said about Trump elsewhere. Here's something from 2 days ago: "Kanye West deletes all tweets defending Trump meeting." The tweets were from last December, and the deletions happened this past Sunday or Monday.

Russell Simmons has an open letter to Trump, published just this afternoon in The Daily News (perhaps in response to his name coming up in the NYT article). He talks about "the Donald I called friend... the Donald I know," who had great relationships with black and Jewish people, and asks "Where is he now? I have to believe he is still in there, somewhere." He implores Trump to change and "begin to feed the light":
The racist, bigoted movements you are feeding now are gaining power by your words, actions and refusal to hold people accountable for the destruction they are causing in your name....

Scripture tells us the Donald I knew — or an even greater Donald — is still there inside you, sleeping. It is time to wake him the f--- up.
As for Sean Combs, it seems that the last relevant thing we've heard from him was back in June, when he said that black people "don’t really give a fuck about Trump, because we're in the same fucked-up position... The tomfoolery that’s going on in D.C., that’s just regular everyday business to black folks."
“We’re turning CNN and all that shit off because we’re trying to get ourselves together,” he said. “That’s what I’m about. I’m like, ‘Turn that shit off, let them deal with all that shit. We gotta start dealing with us.’ So my thing is, I gotta keep showing the dream. I gotta keep magnifying that and keep it focused on that self-love that we need to give our race.”

At the Second-Look Café...


... nobody's naked.

Talk about whatever you like.

Consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

And I'll consider getting out and about, taking pictures with peripheries that demand a second look.

I really thought I'd just happened to capture a naked person standing on the street. That would be odd!

"Trump tells aides he has decided to remove Bannon."

According to my TV screen, set to CNN.

ADDED: Here's the NYT article, "Stephen Bannon Out at the White House After Turbulent Run." Excerpt:
Mr. Bannon’s dismissal followed an Aug. 16 interview he initiated with a writer with whom he had never spoken, with the progressive publication The American Prospect. In it, Mr. Bannon mockingly played down the American military threat to North Korea as nonsensical: “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

He also bad-mouthed his colleagues in the Trump administration, vowed to oust a diplomat at the State Department and mocked officials as “wetting themselves” over the consequences of radically changing trade policy. Of the far right, he said, “These guys are a collection of clowns,” and he called it a “fringe element” of “losers.” “We gotta help crush it,” he said in the interview, which people close to Mr. Bannon said he believed was off the record....

"You need violence in order to protect nonviolence. That’s what’s very obviously necessary right now. It’s full-on war, basically."

Said Emily Rose Nauert, "a 20-year-old antifa member who became a symbol of the movement in April when a white nationalist leader punched her in the face during a melee near the University of California, Berkeley," quoted in the NYT in "‘Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right."
Antifa adherents — some armed with sticks and masked in bandannas — played a visible role in the running street battles in Charlottesville, but it is impossible to know how many people count themselves as members of the movement. Its followers acknowledge it is secretive, without official leaders and organized into autonomous local cells. It is also only one in a constellation of activist movements that have come together in the past several months to the fight the far right....
That makes me think about that NYT article 2 days ago —  "Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language" (blogged here) — that relied on the characterizations of Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, who deemed “alt-left" "just a made-up epithet" and "antifa" an "old left-wing extremist movement."

The new article today seems to acknowledge the inadequacy of the 2-day-old article. The older article seemed intent on pushing back Donald Trump for talking about the "alt-left" as well as the "alt-right." The term "false equivalence" — which was a big media talking point earlier in the week — appears in the older article. I thought "false equivalence" was being used to say, essentially: When one side is worse than the other side, you're not even allowed to compare them.

There was something false about saying "false equivalence." Strictly speaking, the label applies only when 2 things are said to be the same. It shouldn't work to exclude all comparisons when people are being clear about the similarities and differences.

In the case of Charlottesville, there was no logical fallacy in saying there were 2 opposing factions that arrived on scene ready to rumble as long as you're also clear that the 2 sides were different. One side wanted to exercise its free speech rights to express bad, ugly ideas. The other side wanted to interfere with the exercise of free speech rights and was motivated by hostility to ideas that deserved hostility.

In the new article, there's less concern about stepping on the "false equivalence" talking point. There's a recognition that people like Nauert are headed in a violent direction and are gaining adherents. Maybe acting like they're nothing (or nothing any good people dare speak about) is dangerous. Right after that quote from Nauert, there's this subtle discarding of the "false equivalence" talking point:
Others on the left disagree, saying antifa’s methods harm the fight against right-wing extremism and have allowed Mr. Trump to argue that the two sides are equivalent....
Now, Trump never said "the 2 sides are equivalent." He didn't say "equivalent" and he didn't even say "2 sides." He said "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." But those who were pushing the "false equivalence" idea needed to rely on the idea that one side is bad and the other is good, and they needed to minimize antifa. Now, the NYT admits the left has a violence problem. Good!

Trump has us studying General Pershing.

"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!," he tweeted. That was after "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!"

That's not making an assertion about what General Pershing did, just telling us to go study something. Is that really enough to get a "Pants on Fire" rating from Politifact?

Politifact merges the new tweet with something Trump said back in February 2016:
"They were having terrorism problems [in the Philippines], just like we do," Trump said, according to a February 2016 account in the Washington Post. "And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem."
Is that story true? How would we know? If it were true, it might be denied, and if it were false, it might be claimed.
The best evidence U.S. troops used pigs as a tactic against Muslims comes from a memoir by Pershing titled My Life Before the World War, 1860-1917, which was republished in 2013 by the University Press of Kentucky. In the memoir, Pershing writes that another commanding officer in the Philippines, Col. Frank West, had in at least one case seen to it that bodies of Muslim insurgents "were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig. It was not pleasant to have to take such measures, but the prospect of going to hell instead of heaven sometimes deterred the would-be assassins."

In a footnote, the editor of the 2013 edition, John T. Greenwood, cited a letter about the incident from Maj. Gen. J. Franklin Bell, the commander of the Philippines Division, to Pershing: "Of course there is nothing to be done, but I understand it has long been a custom to bury (insurgents) with pigs when they kill Americans. I think this a good plan, for if anything will discourage the (insurgents) it is the prospect of going to hell instead of to heaven. You can rely on me to stand by you in maintaining this custom. It is the only possible thing we can do to discourage crazy fanatics."

While these writings do provide strong evidence that United States forces used pigs as a tactic against Muslim insurgents, there is no evidence that Pershing himself committed these acts.
The interesting thing is that Trump is choosing to waft this myth right now. That is, he's thinks its a good idea to let radical Muslim terrorists know we might mess with their dead bodies in a way that he (presumably) thinks they think will wreck their afterlife. He might think that threat will influence the terrorists, but not necessarily. He might just think that he had a cheeky tweet to entertain his fans and confound his MSM antagonists. It's a new topic: Pershing!

It gets rid of whatever the old topic was.

Purging with Pershing.

But, seriously, the bodies of the enemy dead should not be desecrated.

Remember: "Horror at Fallujah / SAVAGE ATTACK: Bodies dragged through street, hung from bridge 4 U.S. contractors killed in ambush hours after 5 soldiers slain in Iraq."

And the respect the previous administration showed to the body of our arch-enemy bin Laden:
"Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed," the May 2 email from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. "The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea.''
AND: From 2013: "One of the U.S. Marines who was caught on video urinating on the corpses of suspected Taliban fighters has broken his silence to say that he's not sorry for what he did and he'd do it again."
"These were the same guys that were killing our family, killing our brothers," Sgt. Joseph Chamblin told ABC News affiliate WSOC in his first interview since the 2011 incident. Chamblin said he did regret any repercussions it may have had on the Marines, "but do I regret doing it? Hell no."

"Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority..."

"... who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled. It also probably helps them recruit. And more broadly, if violence against minorities is what you find repugnant in neo-Nazi rhetoric, then 'you are using the very force you’re trying to overcome'...."

From "How to Make Fun of Nazis," a NYT op-ed by Moises Velasquez-Manoff.

Quite aside from "their narrative of victimhood," there's their desire to be regarded as staunchly masculine and powerful. If you respond with fear and violence, you're reinforcing their self-image and helping them recruit more lost souls and losers.

But humor is hard. It takes some brains. Violence is easy.

ADDED: This post made me think about the courage it took to make fun of the real Nazis, in Germany, in the Nazi era, which was the subject of an August 9th post. Excerpt:
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:

"We make the assumption that if people are aware of how urgent and frightening and scary these issues are, then people will automatically translate that into ‘Oh my gosh, what kind of actions can I take?'"

"That’s just simply not the case," says Renee Lertzman, "a psychologist who studies climate-change communication," quoted in The Atlantic in "Constant Anxiety Won't Save the World/Spreading fear and worry about issues you care about on social media can lead to burnout rather than action."

There's also this from Scott Woodruff, "the director of the anxiety and obsessive-compulsive treatment program at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy":
The anxious mind and the worried mind can manage to bring back topics over and over again. It is possible that people can really spend quite an amount of time every day worrying about world events.... Excessive worry can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration, and muscle tightness. The interesting thing is the fatigue and lack of concentration are the opposite of what people are trying to promote when they’re advocating for vigilance.... [P]eople get overwhelmed. They burn out and short-circuit and turn their backs on the very issues that they care most deeply about.
I'm watching this phenomenon every day on the internet. And I really am vigilant, having blogged daily for 13+ years, with genuine, unbroken concentration. I observe the anxiety of others and how they spread it in social media (and mainstream media), but I experience the opposite of anxiety for some reason. I think I'm often saying calm down, it's not so bad. Why is everybody cranking everybody else up?

One answer is: It's not everybody. It's just everybody on the internet. There are huge numbers of ordinary people who go about their business, working for a living, caring for their loved ones, experiencing real-world pleasures, and doing constructive, concrete things that can be done.

Facebook could be about friends sharing views into their life in the real world. That's why I'm on Facebook. My Facebook feed is currently cluttered with posts expressing alarm about Nazis and slavery. Oh my gosh, what kind of actions can I take? The only "action" required is to express, again and again, just how terribly much you oppose Nazis and slavery. There isn't even any challenging thinking involved. What can you say other than the obvious, that Nazis and slavery are wrong? Well, you can put some serious effort into denouncing people who are not stating the obvious with sufficient intensity or who are not stating the obvious in a statement that does not contain additional statements.

This intense policing of the virtue of others — it's not even virtuous. But that's not where the article in The Atlantic goes. Cautioning against burnout, it recommends more self-care.

August 17, 2017

"The removal of City-owned monuments to confederate soldiers in Forest Hill Cemetery has minimal or no disruption to the cemetery itself."

"There is no disrespect to the dead with the removal of the plaque and stone," said a written statement from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, after the removal of the memorial. My post on the subject is here, where there's been a discussion under way for a couple hours. In that time, I walked over to Forest Hill and found the Confederate’s Rest section:




I had hoped that perhaps the plaque was not yet gone, because I wanted to read the text. But here's a photograph from William Cronon that shows how it looked. The text is mostly readable. The soldiers (who died as prisoners of war) are called "valiant." We're told they surrendered "after weeks of fighting under extremely difficult conditions" and that they arrived in the prison camp here in Madison "suffering from wounds, malnutrition and various diseases."
Within a few weeks 140 graves were filled, the last resting place for these unsung heroes, far from their homes in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
It's a neutral, informative account except for that word "heroes." They were called "unsung heroes," but to say "unsung heroes" is to sing — however slightly — of their heroism. "Unsung" was thus untrue, and that little bit of singing of heroism was enough to incite the passion for cutting down monuments. Don't call them heroes just because they fought hard and suffered and died!

Who are heroes? "If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero." That's what Donald Trump said after he said "He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

My dictionary, the OED, says "A man (or occasionally a woman) distinguished by the performance of courageous or noble actions, esp. in battle; a brave or illustrious warrior, soldier, etc." It doesn't say the man had to fight on your side, but who puts up monuments using the word "heroes" for the courageous fighters on the other side? We know the answer: Our city. We had whatever reason we had to express kind thoughts toward the men who suffered and died in our prison camp. But our city's thoughts are harsher today. To paraphrase Trump: I like people who weren't fighting for slavery. 

Here's an article from last May about veterans honoring the different sites, including Union Rest and Confederate Rest:
“You want to honor the soldiers. It doesn’t matter what side they were on,” said Carol Gannon-Hembel, who accompanied her husband, Alan Hembel, to the ceremony....

At the Confederate Rest service, Alan Zeuner and Dan Bradford, dressed in Confederate regalia, lamented the removal of the flag pole holder in front of the Confederate Rest grave site. Bradford called it a “slap in the face” to Confederate veterans who were repatriated after the war.

“It’s a part of history that is largely ignored,” Bradford said, regarding the role of Confederate soldiers in 19th-century Wisconsin history. “I want to see to it that people see it for what it really is, rather than outright lies.”

Bradford, a member of the 61st Georgia Infantry, has both Union and Confederate ancestors. He said he is a descendant of Union Army General James Shields, who is known for challenging Abraham Lincoln to a duel, prior to his presidency.

“These are just interesting little points of history,” Bradford said....

"There's a cemetery just a few blocks from where I live up here in the north where there is a section full of graves of Confederate soldiers."

"These are well-tended graves in part of a beautiful cemetery. I think these men suffered and died at the place we still call Camp Randall. It's where we play football now, but it was a miserable prison camp. But statues in the public square honoring the other side in a war? Why are we doing that? It's very strange!"

I wrote that in the comments section to a post I put up 2 days ago. I'd said "Why do we have monuments celebrating the losing side, the Americans who took up arms against America? That's rather crazy other than to express respect for the dead."

I really did not think the monument-topplers would go after the cemetery. 

But today I see that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has ordered the removal of a stone with a plaque memorializing those dead men at the site of their graves:
Soglin said in a statement Thursday that he has directed staff to remove a plaque and a stone at the Confederate Rest section of the cemetery, adding "there should be no place in our country for bigotry, hatred or violence against those who seek to unite our communities and our country."...
A plaque at the Confederate Rest section of the public cemetery describes how the 140 soldiers ended buried in Wisconsin after surrendering in a battle and being taken to Camp Randall. It described them as "valiant Confederate soldiers" and "unsung heroes."
Here's an article from 2014 about that part of the cemetery:
The servicemen, most from Alabama’s 1st Infantry Regiment and others from Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, died from their injuries or other ailments not long after arriving in Madison by train in April 1862. They were captured at Island No. 10 — a Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River where Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee meet — and held at Camp Randall, a Union army training facility that became a prisoner-of-war camp and military hospital.

Visitors from around the U.S. seeking their forebears have made pilgrimages to the small plot, and some have taken its plight to heart. Alice Whiting Waterman moved to Madison from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1866 to care for the graves. When she died in 1897, she was buried there with “her boys.”
I truly believed that Madisonians were proud of the respect they had shown for so long for those prisoners who died here.

It is awful to preempt public discussion about these graves, to choose go after them in a time of heightened passion. These are graves!

ADDED: Here is the full text of the statement Paul Soglin put up on the City of Madison website an hour ago:

"For one week, every August since 2009, a Maddon-managed team is allowed to show up to the ballpark no more than three hours before first pitch..."

"... and is encouraged to come even later. It’s called American Legion Week, in reference to when Maddon would have a day job and then 'show up at 5 p.m. for a 5:30 game' in American Legion ball. Even more than normal, he wants less work from his players before games this week. There’s actually a fine for showing up earlier than three hours before game time, in the form of a bottle of $100 wine (with receipt).... But ask veterans, and they love it -- though it’s not easy convincing players that less work is better for them... Since 2009, Maddon’s teams are 130-91 in August, not including this season. Since he came to Chicago, the Cubs are 10-1 during American Legion week.... 'This is the time of the year that you really have to fight through,' Maddon said. 'I’m talking post-All-Star break into August, because this is the time when you’re a little bit fatigued. That’s why we’re doing the American Legion Week. If you’re able to maintain at this particular point, here comes September and I promise you our guys will be charged up every day. September provides its own energy.'"

ESPN reports.

With Twitter, you can get your message out.

There's this:

Additional Trump tweets about the statues (without the hijacking GOP swastika image):
...can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson - who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also...
...the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!

I might be getting sick of the solar eclipse.

How about you?

Test yourself. Ready?

Here's a news story that went up this morning:
News that’ll surely leave you beaming — ’80s icon Bonnie Tyler will sing her enduring pop-rock hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during the looming solar eclipse in a move that will surely leave the cosmos shook.
Reaction?? free polls

"The A.C.L.U. needs a more contextual, creative advocacy when it comes to how it defends the freedom of speech."

"The group should imagine a holistic picture of how speech rights are under attack right now, not focus on only First Amendment case law. It must research how new threats to speech are connected to one another and to right-wing power. Acknowledging how criminal laws, voting laws, immigration laws, education laws and laws governing corporations can also curb expression would help it develop better policy positions. Sometimes standing on the wrong side of history in defense of a cause you think is right is still just standing on the wrong side of history."

That's from a NYT op-ed by K-Sue Park ("a housing attorney and the Critical Race Studies fellow at the U.C.L.A. School of Law") called  "The A.C.L.U. Needs to Rethink Free Speech."

Contextual... creative... holistic... these are the subtleties that grease the way to the end of constitutional rights.

Thanks to the ACLU for standing up for free speech where it counts — when the speaker is hated.

You can donate to the ACLU here.

"I’ve been struck by the similarity between recent calls for suppressing white supremacist speech and past calls for suppressing Communist speech."

"Of course, there are differences as well — there always are for any analogy — but I thought I’d note some likenesses...."

Writes Eugene Volokh, offering a chart showing 9 points of correspondence.

"Antifa’s activists say they’re battling burgeoning authoritarianism on the American right. Are they fueling it instead?"

"The Rise of the Violent Left" by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic. Conclusion paragraph:
Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets of Portland may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.

"In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong."

“This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn't realize how bad this is getting.”

Said "one adviser to the White House," according to Politico.

An "adviser to the White House" is presumably someone who doesn't work in the White House, and the comment is something just about anybody could say. It's the most banal and obvious observation about Trump.

So let me say something unconventional — not because I know anything but just as a hypothesis — and that is: It's not that Trump "doesn't realize how bad this is getting." He realizes everything everybody else realizes and more. He's playing a different game, in a different way, and all along it's looked bad to almost everyone. But he's the President, and 17 opponents went down trying to play against him. He's looking ahead and strategizing and we're the ones with inadequate perception. We don't realize how good this is getting.

Just a hypothesis! I'm just inviting you into the old what-if-you-had-to-argue game. What if you had to argue that it's Trump who is seeing things clearly and making correct decisions?

And to help you get started: The media are so heavy-handed with the Charlottesville story. They're showing so much ugliness and stirring up so much anxiety, but it's not really sensible to think that neo-Nazis are making any headway in our culture. Quite the opposite. Some people are getting afraid and angry, and these people may go too far, making more and more demands. Ordinary people will seek peace. They may get disgusted with the media that won't stop giving air time to unimportant loser clowns who nobody decent supports. Ordinary people may think that the media are giving too much attention to the destruction of monuments, and it's time to build up. Construction! A Trump specialty.

By the way, we haven't heard about the Mueller investigation much later. Is the Charlottesville story blotting out all the other news because the other new is good for Trump? There's one new story about the investigation:
Longtime FBI investigator Peter Strzok has stepped away from the investigation that seemed to be hitting a new stride in recent weeks.... It's not clear what motivated the departure.... Strzok has previously led the FBI's counter-espionage section, and also worked on the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

"Bannon is an incredibly savvy political operator who talks to reporters all the time, and did these interviews for some reason."

"Yes, Bannon, who is a top adviser to the president who harps on leaking, is constantly gabbing with journalists. He gave two interviews over the course of roughly 48 hours. His job was on the line, then he found himself aligned with the president over protests in the south. He used the Prospect to dump on Gary Cohn, the president’s economic adviser, with whom he has clashed, and to get his views heard on China. Whatever his motivation was, he felt like he should dial up some reporters and get his take out there."

From "THE BANNON intvw intrigue: what was he doing?" (Politico).

August 16, 2017

At the Late-Night Questionable Artwork Café...


... I'm soliciting opinion on the possibly deplorable politics of this image. I think there are a lot of suspicious details here, and we may need to raise an outcry.

Or talk about anything you want. It's a café post.

More on the artwork later. I just thought opining on the political correctness of artwork was the order of the day.

Consider supporting my inquiry into questionable artwork by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

ADDED: Here's the card (from the wall at the Indianapolis Museum of Art):

What a manipulative card! Eerily... disquieting... detached... separation... loneliness... transience... anonymity... Can't I have my own feelings? Are the older couple really so alienated from each other? Is the older woman not looking at the man? They don't look happy, but to me, they seem engaged.

Perhaps they're in town for a funeral. They've got their coats. They're going somewhere or they just got back. Something's up, something related to the world beyond this weird room. The young woman with the book is engaged with reading. Reading entails connection to another human being, the writer. Perhaps the young woman represents the youth the older couple have lost. Now, the older couple seem poised, tarrying, at the edge of the grave, represented vertically by the doorway to the dark restaurant. They're on the menu, food for worms.

The lobby is the antechamber of death. Outdoors is only a picture on the wall. There's no going back. The green line of life leads in from the left corner. The old lady has plopped into the chair and planted her prim little toes on the line. She looks with anxiety at the man who, one foot on the green line, lamely explains that they've got to keep going. The line turns a sharp corner, into the coffin/desk and the undertaker/desk clerk waits almost invisibly under the half-shown clock where their time is running out.

BUT: What is the argument that there is something politically objectionable here? Does the white man in the business suit dominate? Is he lording it over his wife? She looks intimidated. Is the other woman failing to notice, absorbed in the distracting delusion of her presumably nonfeminist reading material? The man and various phallic objects block progress toward the exits. One doorway (the entrance to a security room?) even has a cage-like door. The mountains (breastlike, signifying the female) are contained within a wooden picture frame. The alarmed woman's path to liberation is obstructed all around. The other woman doesn't even realize she needs to go. The green path mocks the idea of a path to freedom. It's not outdoors, like green grass, but an ugly stripe in the carpeting that ends in a sharp right turn into a dark corner. The older woman's toes extend into the path — a meek request — but the man is saying no. The other woman is far from the path, lost in a pre-printed dream. But this is not politically objectionable because we the viewers see it all and know we don't want to be there. Thus it works as critique and an inspiration to freedom and personal fulfillment. Judgment: Politically correct.

The Spotted Cheetah — the for-real Cheetos restaurant.

"The menu — which includes Cheetos meatballs, Cheetos crusted fried pickles, and Flamin’ Hot and White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheetos — was created by celebrity chef Anne Burrell. Each of the eleven items range in price, from $8 to $22."

"I bethink me that you may have no objections to hear something of my whereabout and whatabout."

Wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1841. Did you ever think about the word "whatabout," corresponding to "whereabout"? We usually see "whereabout" in the plural — as in "I was right learn of your whereabouts and whatabouts."

I found both of those sentences in the OED as I was looking up "whataboutism" in the OED. "Whataboutism" isn't there — nor is "whataboutery" — but I'm seeing the word "whataboutism" a lot this week. It's in reference to Trump, of course. Trump famously referred to the "alt-left" when asked about the "alt-right," and there's some very heated criticism of that form of argument, which really is very annoying when you're criticizing someone and you don't want to hear that there's a corresponding — and smaller!!! — criticism against you.

One problem is that very few people are willing to give up that form of argument when the tables are turned. In other words, what about your whataboutism?

"Fremont's Lenin Statue Is Currently Under Siege By Trump Supporters and An Alt-Right Troll."

The Stranger reports.

"[Stephen] Stills may be hobbled by arthritis—backstage he bumps fists rather than shakes hands with fans..."

"... he has carpal tunnel and residual pain from a long-ago broken hand, which affects his playing—and he is nearly deaf, but his performance life has continued. Drugs and alcohol may have dented him somewhat, forming a kind of carapace over the youthful sensitivity and cockiness one often saw in the face of the young Stills. Some might infer by looking at the spry James Taylor or Mick Jagger that heroin is less hard on the body than cocaine and booze, which perhaps tear down the infrastructure. ('Stills doesn’t know how to do drugs properly,' Keith Richards once said.) But one has to hand it to a rock veteran who still wants to get on stage and make music even when his youthful beauty and once-tender, husky baritone have dimmed. It shows allegiance to the craft, to the life, to the music. It risks a derisive sort of criticism as well as an assault on nostalgia."

The novelist Lorrie Moore writes a book review (NYRB) for a biography of Stephen Stills

I'm interested in reading the review because Lorrie Moore wrote it. I don't particularly care about Stephen Stills, but if Moore wants to describe him, I'm up for hearing about his carapace and his infrastructure. And I do love this one song...

... which I believe somebody brought up in one of the comments sections this morning. Let's see. Ah, yes. Here it is: pacwest said:

At the Questionable Artwork Café...


... you tell me if this is okay.

Or talk about anything you want.

I'll provide more background on the artwork later. I just thought opining on the political correctness of artwork was the order of the day.

It's midmorning break time for me. Perhaps it's time for shopping. If you're shopping, I encourage you to use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

ADDED: Here's the wall card from the Indianapolis Museum of Art:

The NYT gives its readers definitions for "alt-right" and "alt-left."

In the transcript (NYT) of yesterday's press conference, we see Trump talking about the "alt-right" and the "alt-left" and challenging a reporter to give a definition:
REPORTER: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these and he linked that same group to those that perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Well, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he is talking about. When you say the alt-right. Define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. No, define it for me. Come on. Let’s go.

REPORTER: Senator McCain defined them as the same group —

[cross talk]

TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at — Excuse me — What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? [cross talk] Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. So, you know, as far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.
Define your terms — it's a way of slowing down an interlocutor who's letting labels do too much of the work. Trump combines the demand for a definition of one thing that is said with calling attention to what is unsaid: You've got a label for one side but not for the other side.

Perhaps reacting to that demand for definition, the NYT has "Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language" (by Liam Stack).

First up is the definition of "Alt-Right," and I think this definition pushes the word into a much uglier zone than some of the people who have popularized the term deserve:

Apparently, we're in a time to break down, a time to cast away stones.

"To everything... There is a season... And a time to every purpose, under heaven... A time to build up, a time to break down/A time to dance, a time to mourn/A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together...."

Remember that Donald Trump destroyed sculptures.

"In 1979, when he was a relatively unknown New York real estate developer (the mind boggles), a 33-year-old Trump acquired the historic Art Deco Bonwit Teller building, only to demolish it a year later to build what would become Trump Tower. He promised, however, to save two 15-foot-high bas-relief panels that adorned the Teller building and donate them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art should he be able to remove them. Despite his word, the 'pieces that had been sought with enthusiasm by the Metropolitan Museum of Art…were smashed by jackhammers yesterday on the orders of a real estate developer,' as the New York Times report from the time tells it."

From "How Real Estate, Violence, and Public Protest Destroyed These Iconic New York Artworks" (which includes the story of "Tilted Arc," a sculpture people hated because it was massively in the way.)

Trump said at the time that the sculptures were "without artistic merit":
In the New York Times the PR spokesman identified himself as ‘John Barron’. In the Associated Press story the same publicity man called himself ‘Donald Baron’ and was quoted as saying that ‘the merit of these stones was not great enough to save them.’ Both ‘John’ and ‘Donald’ were Trump. ‘What do you think? Do you think blowing up the sculptures has hurt me?’ he asked Vanity Fair a decade later.
Who cares? Let’s say that I had given that junk to the Met. They would have just put them in their basement. I’ll never have the goodwill of the Establishment, the tastemakers of New York. Do you think, if I failed, these guys in New York would be unhappy? They would be thrilled! Because they have never tried anything on the scale that I am trying things in this city. I don’t care about their goodwill.

"Statues dedicated to Confederate heroes were swiftly removed across Baltimore in the small hours of Wednesday morning..."

"... just days after violence broke out over the removal of a similar monument in neighboring Virginia. Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town." (NYT).

Have you ever woken up in the morning to find your city had changed during the night? There's a dystopian edge that called to mind "Dark City"...

And that old Pretenders song with the overly familiar intro, "My City Was Gone":

IN THE COMMENTS: iowan2 said:
I have seen a tag line of late, something about darkness, just can't put my finger on it,

Oh here it is. Washington Post."Democracy dies in darkness"

Prescient I guess
Matthew Sablan said:
There's a way to go about removing the monuments. Doing it with force of arms and threatening the city with violence is not the way.
And doing it under cover of darkness suggests that it's something shameful that needs to be hidden. If you can't do it proudly, by daylight, you're not ready to do it.

"Emad Mishko Tamo was only nine years old, sobbing and reaching out for his mother when ISIS militants captured and separated them..."

"... as the pair attempted to escape the besieged town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, where thousands of Yazidi men, women and children were murdered or abducted. For nearly three years, Mihlo Rafo — who came to Winnipeg along with four of her children in January as government-sponsored Yazidi refugees — knew nothing of Emad's whereabouts...."

Winnepeg Free Press: "'Take me to Canada to my mom,' boy pleads after liberation from ISIS."

The sarcastic meaning of "Hello" is traced to "Back to the Future": "Hello, hello? Anybody home? Hey! Think, McFly. Think."

In the Oxford English Dictionary:

Why am I researching the word "hello" at 4 in the morning? I started out writing something — it will be up next soon — about Trump's press conference, which I wanted to call "hairy." But I wasn't sure "hairy" really is used and understood anymore — "hairy," not in the sense of covered with hair (though with Trump that alternative meaning distracts us), but in the sense of difficult, rough, wild, frightening. It was common slang years ago, enough that The New Yorker had a cartoon in 1971 with the caption "And do you, Elizabeth, take this man, John, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until the going gets hairy?"

To check for currency, I looked up "hairy" in the Urban Dictionary, and one thing I found was "Hey do you have the hairies on that?," which got me clicking through to "hey," one of the great English language words that you use all the time but don't think too much about. Years ago — back in the 50s and 60s — many adults would correct you if you thought you could get their attention with "Hey." Often they'd deploy the corny riposte "Hay is for horses." I think these were the same adults who would tell you "A kid is a baby goat" if you were crass enough to refer to a human child as a "kid."

Hey, kids...

... I wanted to track down the origin of "hey." "Hey" is such an old word that the OED's oldest use is unreadable: "Hei! hwuch wis read of se icudd keiser!" (a1225). Unreadable, except that we get the meaning of "Hei!" Even 200 years later, it's hard to understand. This is a line in a Christmas carol: "Hey, hey, hey, hey, The borrys hed is armyd gay." I'm just going to guess that there's some excitement about the presentation of a boar's head.

Anyway, "hey" got me thinking about "hi" — a great word that I'll do a separate post about sometime — and then "hello." I thought "hello" had been invented for speaking on the phone, but "hello" — the interjection defined by its use ("Used to attract attention") — goes back to 1826 in the Norwich (Conn.) Courier: "Hello, Jim! I'll tell you what: I've a sharp knife and feel as if I'd like to cut up something or other." And then in 1833, "Sketches & Eccentricities Col. David Crockett":
"I seed a white man walking off with my plate. I says, ‘Hello, mister, bring back my plate.’"

The first telephone-related "hello" comes in 1877 from Thomas Edison: "I do not think we shall need a call bell as Hello! can be heard 10 to 20 feet away. What you think?" I think you are wrong, Mr. Edison. We need a bell!

Did you know that it was Thomas A. Watson, not the man with the name Bell, who invented the bell for the telephone:
It is impossible to say exactly how vital Watson’s role was in the invention of the phone, but he was certainly far more than a mere assistant. During the seven years he worked for Bell, he secured sixty patents in his own name, including one for the distinctive ringing bell that was for decades an invariable part of every phone call made. Remarkably, before this, the only way to know if someone was trying to get through to you was to pick up the phone from time to time and see if anyone was there.
That's from Bill Bryson's "At Home: A Short History of Private Life." I don't know if you had to pick up the phone. It seems as though Edison's idea was that the phone would be left off the hook — if the hook was even part of the phone — and if you were calling you'd say "hello!" and if the person on the other end was within 10 or 20 feet, you'd get their attention, just as if you were there in person trying to get their attention with a "hey!" And why not "hey"? Apparently, "hello!" carries farther.

When shouting from a mountaintop or into a cave — or into a hollow skull — you always choose "hello":

August 15, 2017

Trump won't concede that he was wrong to talk about "many sides," because "before I make a statement, I like to know the facts."

The NYT reports on "a long, combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower."
Mr. Trump repeated that assertion on Tuesday, criticizing “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the nationalist and Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. He said there is “blame on both sides.”
Here's a part of today's statement, in which he is explicit that he did not condemn everyone on the non-counterprotester side.

"I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch... Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

ADDED: Some people thought his remarks yesterday represented a backing off from his much-criticized "many sides" line, but I was not one of them.  I think what he said Saturday, yesterday, and today was basically all the same thing.

"Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death/How a rally of white nationalists and supremacists at the University of Virginia turned into a 'tragic, tragic weekend.'"

This is the kind of newspaper article I'm looking for, detailing what happened in Charlottesville, and I wish I felt more confidence that The Washington Post would tell it straight. Maybe this is straight, but how can I know? What trust has been shot to hell in the last few years of journalism! I'm still reading this, because it's the closest I've come to the kind of careful report I want.


At the Southern Statue Café...


... can we all get together?

(Photograph first posted here in 2012.)

Scott Adams — wearing his Pope hat to make a moral ruling — says that the Confederate statues should come down.

The brand is "America" and it's working against your brand — even if only 20% of the people are feeling offended and excluded. It doesn't matter that you think it doesn't.

He didn't really need his Pope hat for that, because he's not talking about his own moral vision. He's taking a businesslike, corporate view, discussing a branded product called America and noticing the moral opinions of the consumers of the product.

There's also some interesting discussion in there about the internment of persons of Japanese descent during WWII and whether statues of FDR should come down. If I understand Adams's standard correctly, if 20% of Americans are offended — based on serious reasons — then Americans as a group should want to update the American brand and remove the monument, which is just decoration.

ALSO: Pope-hatted Adams makes the moral ruling that the mob's pulling down of a statue of a Confederate soldier is "a moral gray area." There was no violence against persons, only property, and it "comes very close to free speech." It's destructive, but only of "a racist symbol." I'll give this post the "civil disobedience" tag. Adams doesn't use that term, but he briefly acknowledges that the destruction is against the law and that the protesters probably need to be arrested and prosecuted and given a light sentence. In standard civil disobedience thought, the disobeyers accept the legal consequences.

AND: Adams is very funny talking about the notion of gathering America's Confederate statues in a museum: "It would be the world's worst museum." You'd be saying "There's a statue of Robert E. Lee" and then "There's a statue of Robert E. Lee," etc. I'd just note that the sculpture was designed to fit in a park, so how about something outdoors, something like Grūtas Park (AKA "Stalin's World)(discussed in this post of mine from last May (about the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue in New Orleans)).

AND: Let me repeat something from that May post, this image "The Sons of Liberty pulling down the statue of George III of the United Kingdom on Bowling Green (New York City), 1776":

Scaramucci on the Colbert Show.

Worth a watch:

Most interesting thing: He comes right out and calls Steve Bannon a leaker and says if it were up to him Bannon would be gone.

Colbert is kind of annoying for 2 reasons: 1. He's straining too hard to get Scaramucci to do what makes comedians love him while at the same time trying to step on all of Scaramucci's jokes and claim all punchlines for himself, and 2. The audience over-screams with laughter any time Colbert gets off any kind of line, which really spoils the experience for me, watching at home. I want to decide what's funny, not have a bunch of sycophants continually informing me which of 2 men in a man-to-man interview they're rooting for.

I liked the way the band played the "Scaramouche, Scaramouche" section of "Bohemian Rhapsody" as Scaramucci walked on. The song choice is the complete opposite of surprising but I liked the way they played it. Just a cool variation on an old theme.

Oh, wait. There's a Part 2, after the break...

ADDED: Scaramucci doesn't know if Bannon is a white supremacist, but he doesn't like Bannon's toleration of white supremacists.

About to start law school, Tiffany Trump Instagrams from a colorfully surrealistic pool environment.

A post shared by Tiffany Ariana Trump (@tiffanytrump) on

I saw that at The Washington Post, where the headline is: "Tiffany Trump is starting at Georgetown Law next week. Here’s what to expect." What to expect? Another young person goes to law school. Is there anything to see? I've read the article for you. Answer: No. Other than that her Instagramming will be from Washington, D.C.

By the way, I wonder where one buys a pool float with Eldorado breasts like that? You know what I'm talking about, Eldorado? Here's a picture I took a few weeks ago:


"The hunt for survivors of a devastating mudslide on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital has continued, with 270 bodies recovered so far...."

And "thousands missing" — The Guardian reports.

Advance warning of the violent propensities of James Alex Fields Jr.

WaPo reports:
James Alex Fields Jr. was barely a teenager in 2010 when his mother — who uses a wheelchair — locked herself in a bathroom, called 911 and said her son had struck her head and put his hands over her mouth when she told him to stop playing a video game, according to police records....
In the 2010 call, Bloom... said her son was taking medication to control his temper...

In October of the following year, Bloom called 911 to say that her son was “being very threatening toward her” and that she didn’t feel “in control of the situation,” according to a dispatcher’s notes.

And in November 2011, police were asked to come to the house because Bloom was said to want her son to be assessed at a hospital, according to the records. He had spat in her face, said the caller, whose connection to the family is not clear in the records.

The previous night, Fields had stood behind his mother with a 12-inch knife, the caller reported. “Scared mom to death not knowing if he was going to do something,” the dispatcher’s report continued.
Does this make the organizers of the Unite the Right less responsible? Maybe. But you always know mentally unstable, violent people are out there. You should not act like a magnet for them. You should not draw them into a phantasmagoric environment and pump them up with confusing, exciting, chanted words.

I remember the Wisconsin protests, I was worried about the mental health of some of the lost souls who gravitated to the scene. On March 1, 2011, I wrote:
There are young people in the Wisconsin Capitol who have been there, sleep deprived, for 15 days and are truly suffering.

I just watched video Meade brought home, and I am not going to put it on line. But I can tell you, there is at least one person there who has lost his mind from (apparently) sleep deprivation.

Someone needs to go around to everyone who is still there and check them for mental stability. Somebody needs to find the people who need to leave and don't know how to leave. If you are encouraging people to stay, to hang on and remain tough, you need to know that there are some truly sad people there who need to be told that they've done enough and must leave now.

Please, for the love of God, go around to the human beings who are there and talk to them individually. I know you believe in your cause, but there is at least one person among you who needs love and needs to be saved!

In Durham, North Carolina, protesters pull down a statue of a Confederate soldier... videoed by sheriff's deputies who do not intervene.

The Herald Sun reports:
Sheriff’s deputies recorded the event but did not intervene as a protester climbed a ladder and slipped a yellow, bungie-like cord around the soldier’s head and arm and a group pulled the cord....
Protesters are seen kicking the wrecked object, an image of the soldier, who doesn't seem to have been a particular individual but a generic example of — as the monument put it — “the boys who wore the gray.” The crowd — "more than 100 people" — is said to have circled the monument, chanting “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”

The Herald Sun names 5 groups that it says took part: Triangle People’s Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America, and the antifa. It quotes a woman  —  Eva Panjwani — that it says is from the Workers World Party Durham:
“Tactics are changing, which means that our strategies need to change, our unity needs to escalate and our demands to fight back and resist domestic terror needs to escalate"...
I think that's a terrible mistake.  Just as violence on the right captures the headlines and great stress is put on the need to single out right-wing extremists and to criticize the President for condemning violence on "all sides," you think it's a good idea for the left to call attention to its willingness to get destructive?
Alissa Ellis, of the Workers World Party Durham branch that was a participant in the Charlottesville protest, said people need to embrace multiple tactics because that is what kept her safe. “We need to shun passive, white liberalism” that elevates whites voices over black and brown voices, she said.
Do I understand that correctly? Is she saying the nonviolence approach to activism privileges white people and violent tactics are needed to be inclusive toward nonwhite people? Isn't that racist?

Most important: Why did law enforcement do nothing?  ADDED: That is, nothing but make a video. It's as if they're journalists and have an ethic against becoming part of the news.


"Amateur Sleuths Aim to Identify Charlottesville Marchers, but Sometimes Misfire" (NYT).
After a day of work at the Engineering Research Center at the University of Arkansas, Kyle Quinn had a pleasant Friday night in Bentonville with his wife and a colleague. They explored an art exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and dined at an upscale restaurant.

Then on Saturday, he discovered that social media sleuths had incorrectly identified him as a participant in a white nationalist rally some 1,100 miles away in Charlottesville, Va. Overnight, thousands of strangers across the country had been working together to share photographs of the men bearing Tiki torches on the University of Virginia campus. They wanted to name and shame them to their employers, friends and neighbors. In a few cases, they succeeded....

August 14, 2017

At Picnic Point...


... with Meade and Zeus today.

Talk about anything you want.


And give some thought to using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Nic and Trees Elderhorst, both 91, died [together, by euthanasia] in their hometown of Didam, in the Netherlands, after 65 years of marriage."

"The couple both suffered from deteriorating physical health over the past five years..."
...with Mr Elderhorst left with reduced mobility after a stroke in 2012.  Walking had also become increasingly difficult for his wife, who had also suffered from memory loss.

“It soon became clear that it could not wait much longer,” the couple’s daughter told The Gelderlande. “The geriatrician determined that our mother was still mentally competent. However, if our father were to die, she could become completely disoriented, ending up in a nursing home. Something which she desperately did not want. Dying together was their deepest wish.”
We're told it's rare for 2 persons to go together, given that each must meet the standard.

"In 2015, Seattle cleaned up a 20-year-old 'gum wall' that had become a local landmark. The job took workers an estimated 130 hours to fill 94 buckets with 2,350lb of gum..."

"... but the respite didn’t last long: according to the Seattle Times, a flash mob began to 're-gum' the wall two days later."

From "Sticky situation: Mexico City's sisyphean battle with chewing gum/Streets across the world are littered with gum, and although many cities have tried and failed to eradicate these sticky circles, Mexico City continues to wage this seemingly unwinnable war" in The Guardian.

The photo at the link bears witness to the fun of the street art that is The Gum Wall.

I looked up the address so I could find it in Google Street View: