August 26, 2017

How to get 1 minute of bike track on 1/6 acre of backyard garden.

Meade has optimized a small space. It's not as easy as it may look, and it's a fun place for me to build some confidence.

ADDED: Here's the same backyard in 2013 (in late July):

Meade is demonstrating lawn-mowing there (and we're talking about landscape design that makes lawn-mowing an amusing activity), but I'm showing you this mostly so you can see how much has happened to the garden in the last 4 years.

"There are probably few forces as capable of driving the meme space as stock photography..."

"... a source of endless, just-generic-enough, just-specific-enough photos the viewers can imprint their own values onto. The latest in this series of stock-photography memes is a photo... titled 'Disloyal Man Walking With His Girlfriend and Looking Amazed at Another Seductive Girl,' which features a scuzzy dude looking back at a woman as his girlfriend looks at him shocked and betrayed. And it’s a metaphor for … everything?"

From "The Hot New Meme Is Giving in to Your Worst Impulses" (NY Magazine).

"Might it be that non-Southerners, for cultural reasons, simply cannot understand why it’s difficult for Southerners to execrate their ancestors, even if their ancestors did bad things?"

"That thought came back to me after listening to this amazing episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast. It’s about country music, and what sets it apart from other American musical genres. Malcolm Gladwell is not the first person I would go to for insight into how country music works, but boy, was this great."

Writes Rod Dreher at The American Conservative in "Sad Songs." I haven't listened to Gladwell's podcast yet, but Dreher ends his column with an invitation to listen to The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”:
Listen especially to the third verse — the land, family, death, defeat — and know that for very many of us, that is the South. It’s not the whole South. “Strange Fruit” is also the South. But it’s one true story of the South, and if you can’t feel the tragedy and the heartbreak of a poor, proud Southern man laid low in this song, friend, I cannot help you:

I can't embed that without thinking of something I read in The New Yorker this week: "Who Owns the Internet?/What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean for our culture," by Elizabeth Kolbert:
Consider the case of Levon Helm. He was the drummer for the Band, and, though he never got rich off his music, well into middle age he was supported by royalties. In 1999, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. That same year, Napster came along, followed by YouTube, in 2005. Helm’s royalty income, which had run to about a hundred thousand dollars a year... dropped “to almost nothing.” When Helm died, in 2012, millions of people were still listening to the Band’s music, but hardly any of them were paying for it. (In the years between the founding of Napster and Helm’s death, total consumer spending on recorded music in the United States dropped by roughly seventy per cent.) Friends had to stage a benefit for Helm’s widow so that she could hold on to their house....
Here's the album. You can still buy it.

By the way, the 3rd verse that Dreher talks about is the one with the lines: "Like my father before me, I will work the land/And like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand/He was just eighteen, proud and brave/But a Yankee laid him in his grave...." It made me think of the 140 Confederate soldiers whose nearby graves I visited the other day, after Madison's mayor, Paul Soglin, got a memorial removed. I took photographs...


... but only later did I learn that the headstones do not mark individual graves. What's under the ground is, in fact, a mass grave. The individual stones are a later effort at imposing dignity — an effort that corresponds to the effort we are experiencing today, the withdrawal of dignity.

Trump is Sarah Palin.

A phrase I've been thinking lately. I Googled it and got a column by Jane Coaston published 5 days ago in WaPo: "Trump is Sarah Palin but better at it."
From the moment Palin entered the national scene, the praise for her on the right was heavily tied to her image.... And Palin said what the base was thinking. She accused Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” She praised those willing to “screw the political correctness.”...

Trump campaigned on the Palin model. In fact, he improved upon it. His identity was his trademark, rendering the constant shifts in policy goals and promises almost meaningless. His base saw in Trump what they wanted to see. Some saw a fighter who would stand up for them, others saw a vaunted truth-teller, and a few, truth be told, likely saw a potential white-nationalist hero. And he gave it to them: the image, the veneer, the blank slate upon which their deeply held dreams — for themselves as much as their country — could be written...
Well, that's not exactly what I was thinking. It's too dismissive of Palin and of Trump, too disrespectful to begin to figure out what happened. There isn't even any discussion of how the elite's disrespect for Palin/Trump fired their popularity with the people who love them.

"Those who didn't evacuate and remained in the storm's path, such as Corpus Christi, were told to write their names or social security numbers on their arms so that their bodies can be later identified."

Says The Daily Mail, without revealing the source of the morbid advice. I doubt that any American political figure would say that. The British newspaper may not grasp how touchy we Americans are about identification numbers.

ADDED: ABC News identifies Rockport Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Rios as the one who said: "We’re suggesting if people are going to stay here, mark their arm with a Sharpie pen with their name and Social Security number... We hate to talk about things like that. It's not something we like to do but it’s the reality, people don’t listen."

"The chief architect of the Pacific Crest Trail, Clinton Clarke, saw the project in explicitly racial and religious terms."

"The 'negro boys”' of America, he complained in 1937, had remained 'closer to the soil' and so were taking 'all the athletic prizes,' while whites suffered from 'too much sitting on soft seats in motors, too much sitting in soft seats in movies, and too much lounging in easy chairs before radios.' Only a long trip in the woods by 'clean, strong young Christians,' Clarke’s assistant wrote, could 'preserve our Christian civilization,' while eradicating communism as well. The great attraction of the new trail, according to a young man who blazed a section, was 'the fact that I was one of the first fellows to participate in such a conquest of this kind.' Back east the founder of the Appalachian Trail, Benton MacKaye, was a rather different figure, a supporter of the Soviet Union and a friend of Sinclair Lewis, John Reed, and Lewis Mumford. MacKaye believed his trail would provide a solution to the labor unrest of the period—much of which was led by Wobbly lumberjacks and miners—by offering land and work in government-owned towns, newly built along the trail in the forest; no less a man of his time than Clarke, MacKaye termed his scheme 'colonization.'"

From "Take a Hike!" in The New York Review of Books, by Charles Petersen, discussing 2 new books about hiking. 

"Regrettably, outside of yourself, the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again’..."

"... have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months. This was made patently obvious as I read the text of your speech on Afghanistan this week… The fact that those who drafted and approved the speech removed any mention of Radical Islam or radical Islamic terrorism proves that a crucial element of your presidential campaign has been lost… Just as worrying, when discussing our future actions in the region, the speech listed operational objectives without ever defining the strategic victory conditions we are fighting for. This omission should seriously disturb any national security professional, and any American who is unsatisfied with the last 16 years of disastrous policy decisions which have led to thousands of Americans killed and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent in ways that have not brought security or victory."

The resignation letter of Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to President Trump, quoted at a Federalist piece that ends with an update quoting a White House statement: "Sebastian Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he no longer works at the White House."

"DoggoLingo, sometimes referred to as doggo-speak, 'seems to be quite lexical, there are a lot of distinctive words that are used'..."

"... says Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch. "It's cutesier than others, too. Doggo, woofer, pupper, pupperino, fluffer — those have all got an extra suffix on the end to make them cuter.' McCulloch also notes DoggoLingo is uniquely heavy on onomatopoeias like bork, blep, mlem and blop.... The origin of "bork" itself is less clear, but it's clearly onomatopoeic. It's perhaps most well-known thanks to Gabe the Dog, a tiny floof of a Miniature American Eskimo/Pomeranian whose borks have been remixed into countless classic tunes. Jurassic Bork, The Bork Files, Doggos of the Borkribbean, Imperial Borks — the list goes on and on."

I'm reading "Dogs Are Doggos: An Internet Language Built Around Love For The Puppers" at It's from last April, but is featuring it on its front page today. Why? I can think of 2 reasons: 1. NPR thinks people are stressed from all the scary news — hurricane, race-focused protest, Trump — and need something reliably nice nice nice, or 2. The new story "What's Making These Dogs In Mumbai Turn Blue?" is getting a lot of clicks so they went digging back in the archive for something else about dogs.

Speaking of 2 reasons, I was interested in the "doggo-speak" story for 2 reasons, both relating to the infusion of a fun new life into a heretofore negative word:

1. "Bork" — based on the defeat of the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork — has meant "To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office." That's an OED definition. The verb "to Bork" is actually in the OED. Interestingly enough, the oldest usage plays up the dog-related similarity to "bark": "I think this time the local minorities are ‘Borking’ up the wrong." That's the L.A. Times in 1987. But the usage really got going when Clarence Thomas came along: "'We're going to Bork him,’ the National Organization for Women has promised. But if they succeed, liberals may discover that they have Borked themselves." (1991 New Republic).

2. "Doggo" — this has been slang — in the phrase "lying doggo," meaning to lie low and keep hidden — since the 19th century, where the first usage, according to the OED, was "He had been a guest, after lying doggoh for some time, at one of Blobbs' quiet little suppers." I'm most familiar with the word as it comes up in the Samuel Beckett play "Endgame." Clov has a flea and shakes a lot of insecticide powder into his pants. Hamm asks "Did you get him?" and Clov says "Looks like it. Unless he’s laying doggo." There's then some byplay about "laying" versus "lying," with the punchline "If he was laying we'd be bitched."

IN THE COMMENTS: Earnest Prole said:
Reason 3 for why NPR is featuring it today: It's National Dog Day.
Never heard of it before, but it checks out in Google News. National Dog Day.

"A class action that seeks only worthless benefits for the class and yields only fees for class counsel is no better than a racket and should be dismissed out of hand."

Wrote 7th Circuit Judge Diane Sykes for the 3-judge panel that threw out the case against Subway that was premised on the restaurant's promotion of "footlong" subs that were not always actually a foot long.
The litigation began after Australian teenager Matt Corby in January 2013 posted a Facebook photo showing a Footlong sandwich he bought was only 11 inches long, not 12....
By the way, Sykes "is considered to be near the top of Trump’s short list" of potential Supreme Court nominees, according to a Politico article from last January. She used to be a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and "was part of a legal movement that helped set in motion a conservative transformation of the judiciary in her home state."

The solution that's a problem: the roundabout.

I'll have to look up how much money was spent on this thing and how it was promoted as a wonderful solution to something, but "Roundabout on Madison's Far West Side has become a crash magnet":
Last year, there were 47 crashes at the huge, multi-lane roundabout, which was 12 more than in 2015. One of the busiest of the five roundabouts in the city, it has averaged 38.4 crashes per year in the five full years that it has been open.
And the city traffic engineer blames us: “Too many drivers still don’t know what they are doing in a roundabout.”

We were talking about roundabouts here on the blog just last June. I quoted The New Yorker:
"When ["Yes" frontman Jon] Anderson sang, 'I’ll be the roundabout,' most American listeners surely had no idea that he was referring to the kind of intersection known less euphoniously, in the U.S., as a traffic circle..."

"I think the tearing down of Confederate statues is something people are doing because they can't tear down Trump."

"It's like kicking the dog after a hard day working for a boss you hate," I said a few days ago.

And now here's a column in The Washington Post by Anne Applebaum:
Polish and Ukrainian statues [of Lenin] came down as the result of a revolutionary moment, a sudden break in the political situation. In the United States in 2017, we are living through what feels to many like a similar, though not entirely analogous, revolutionary moment. The election of Trump, the first American president in decades to use unapologetically racist language — starting with his insidious slur that Barack Obama was not American, moving on to his reference to Mexican “rapists” and continuing with his refusal to condemn neo-Nazis — has smashed the ordinary rhythms of American political life. Suddenly, in Trump’s America, a statue honoring a Confederate leader looks like not just a boring monument to the distant past but a living political statement about the present.

Suddenly I see just how much that damned dog looks like that bastard I have to work for.

"If it’s an antagonistic fight between two blacks, it’s one thing. But if it’s an antagonistic fight between a white and a black, then you can play the race card tremendously and get an overwhelming return."

Said Don King, quoted in "Mayweather Sees a Racial Double Standard in Megafight vs. McGregor" (NYT).
Both fighters have flung racially tinged barbs at each other — McGregor told Mayweather to “dance for me, boy” and said he himself was half black “from the bellybutton down”; Mayweather said he was fighting “for all the blacks around the world.”...

McGregor has been criticized for some of his racial remarks during the promotion of the fight. He gyrated on stage during a promotional event, calling it “a little present for my beautiful, black female fans.” In an interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” McGregor seemed to refer to black boxers in a scene from “Rocky III” as “dancing monkeys.”...
Well, that's all awfully crude. I guess people have a hankering to escape from the bonds of political correctness (which is what Trump perceived and exploited).

(I've been ignoring this thing all week and am just now seeing that it's a boxer boxing a mixed martial arts guy, and the mixed martial arts guy is boxing for the first time.)

The 3 top-rated comments at the NYT are:
1. Why is this even an article? As the article points out, "But one important difference between Mayweather and McGregor, Boyd noted, is that Mayweather has been in serious trouble with the law related to domestic violence and has served jail time." Mayweather says there is a racial double standard, but he has repeatedly beaten and battered women. It doesn't matter what race you are -- if you beat women, and especially when you are a champion boxer, you lose all respect of any decent person. End. Of. Story.

2. Mayweather is the greatest boxer of all time, with a 50-0 record when you include the time he beat the mother of his children in front of his children, leaving her bloody and screaming.

3. Mayweather, lets discuss a real issue. Your tendency to beat down women.

August 25, 2017

At the Questionable Artwork Café...


... it's a café, so you can talk about anything. There's the Category 4 hurricane, Harvey, that's about to hit Texas and stay there for days. There's whatever else you may want to discuss. I did just put up a new post for the Arpaio pardon, so please go one post down if that's your topic. Other than that, feel free. But I needed a picture, so I'm giving you this painting which is surely politically deplorable for any number of reasons. I'll just assume 5 reasons.

And please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.  You can buy a hat with feathers, a white cape, and a walking stick.

ADDED: Here's the wall card for the painting, which is — as I showed you here — hanging next to a Tiffany window depicting the angel Gabriel:

"Thank you @realdonaldtrump for seeing my conviction for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!"

"I am humbled and incredibly grateful to President Trump. I look fwd to putting this chapter behind me and helping to #MAGA."

Tweeted Joe Arpaio, quoted at Politico article, which reports:
The White House broke the news just after 8 p.m. and laid out the case for why the 85-year-old Arpaio — to some a symbol of animosity toward immigrants and Hispanics — deserved the president’s first such reprieve. The announcement highlighted Arpaio’s military service and “his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”

Are you watching the TV news about Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas?

I haven't yet, but I'm just guessing that the newsfolk are talking about how much Hurricane Katrina hurt President George W. Bush and are hoping — and trying not to be too unseemly about it — that Harvey will screw President Trump even worse. Check it out for me, and let me know. Please give me credit if I've said it first: They're less worried about Harvey hurting Texas than they are delighted that at the prospect of Harvey hurting Trump.

"Not a lot of guys call. Men my age will text you and want to meet at a dive bar. So I was really surprised when he called..."

"... and when I picked up he was really polite. He asked me how I was doing, how my day was. So it was just pleasant."

From a NYT "Weddings" article, "The Bride, the Groom and the Elephant in the Room," about a 27-year-old woman marrying a 72-year-old man.

50 years ago yesterday, Abbie Hoffman threw dollar bills from the visitors' gallery onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Nation reminds us.
For a brief moment, [said Hoffman's co-protester Bruce Dancis], “it showed that there was more to life than the dogged accumulation of wealth and riches.” And it was part of a new tactic Abbie was experimenting with: deploying humor, drawing on guerilla theater, to use the media to reach many more people than a protest march would have... Abbie... was searching for new forms of protest, since the media were already cutting back on coverage of street demonstrations, no matter how big they were....

“When we arrived,” Dancis recalled, “Abbie, who looked like a long-haired hippie, got stopped by a guard, who said, ‘You can’t do a demonstration in here.’ Abbie said, “You’re not letting me in because I’m Jewish!’ The guard became flustered.”...

Abbie had something like $100 in dollar bill... At first, there was “stunned silence from the floor. Then some people started cheering. Others scrambled around trying to grab or pick up all the money they could. Others started cursing us and yelling at us, telling us to get the hell out of there.....”...

“We were on the cover of the New York Post that afternoon,” Dancis recalled. “The whole notion of the ‘Hippie Invasion of the New York Stock Exchange’ was too much for people in the media to pass up.”...
I wonder if the media today will ever tire of covering street demonstrations — no matter how big they are. Imagine needing to deploy humor and search for new forms of protest. Things were different then. Look at the joy:

Photo credit: Credit Arty Pomerantz/New York Post
And yet Abbie Hoffman killed himself. But it was 22 years later (NYT). He suffered from "manic depression," as it was called back then, but it was supposedly under control. His Chicago Seven co-defendant Tom Hayden explained the suicide this way:
''He was really uncomfortable with becoming middle aged and facing old age without seeing significant social change... He was a perennial youth, a juvenile delinquent with gray hair... I have to think that perturbed him a lot. He was always trying to re-create the 60's and was deeply dismayed he was becoming a prophet in the wilderness of the 80's.''

"I probably would have gone down into the submarine with Madsen—so would a lot of female journalists I know."

"So much of reporting relies on placing a certain amount of trust in the people you are covering, and Kim’s instincts led her to believe that she would be safe. In a parallel reality, one where her subject was more decent, she could have returned with a fascinating story, as she always did—offbeat, insightful, entertaining. Instead, we are left with thoughts of what could have been, and a devastating sadness."

The last paragraph of "My Friend Kim Wall" by Alexis Okeowo in The New Yorker.

Previous post about the death of Kim Wall: "That was what she did. She just wandered places. She trusted somebody, and then this is what happened."

The child abuse of forcing cheerleaders to do splits.

The Denver police are investigating the cheerleading coach, Ozell Williams. according to the NYT.
On June 15, Kirstin Wakefield, the mother of the [13-year-old] girl seen [in] the video, sent an email to the assistant principal who was put on leave this week, asking what the administration planned to do about the incidents, according to KUSA.

“I have attached a video of the forced splits she and her other team members were forced to do at cheerleading camp and practices; unless they had a doctor’s note,” it read. "My husband and I would like to know what the administration is going to do about my daughter’s injury and how it happened.”

In an on-camera interview with KUSA, Ms. Wakefield said: “This is a grown man pushing my 13-year-old girl so hard against her will, while she’s crying and screaming for him to stop, that he’s ripping tissues in her body.”
I have not watched the video. 

ADDED: The NYT hides the racial aspect of the case, but here, in The Denver Post, you can see that Ozell Williams is a black man.
Williams, who is also the founder of Mile High Tumblers 5280, said that what is shown in the video is being taken out of context. “You can definitely say that what was in the video could be seen in a different light,” Williams said. “I would love to tell my story, but I can’t say anything else at this time.”

"There's a certain kind of feminism that overlaps with misogyny."

"I would find it fascinating to read a post of yours that researches and presents that idea."

A Meadhouse conversation.

This is just a post referring to an unwritten post. I'll give this the tag "unwritten books," because even more than not writing books and not writing blog posts full of research and extended, persuasive arguments, I don't like making new tags.

"Raccoon in a Dumpster"? Who knew "Dumpster" is a brand name?

Did you, like me, have trouble with today's NYT crossword because the clue "Raccoon in a Dumpster" seemed to refer to something more specific — a fictional character? — than just a raccoon in a dumpster? I see Rex Parker — who bills himself as King of CrossWorld (as opposed to just another king of one of many crossworlds) — also got tripped up by the capitalization:
And then there was the SE [corner of the puzzle], where the capitalization of Dumpster (49A: Raccoon in a Dumpster, e.g.) really, really threw me. I thought "Raccoon in a Dumpster" was a show or a meme or something. A title, at any rate. Certainly not a plain old raccoon in a plain old Dumpster-brand Dumpster. Argh.
Speaking of tripped up, I would never — like Rex — have written in "LSD" for the clue "Hallucinogen nicknamed 'embalming fluid.'" It took me a while to get to the right answer — PCP — but I know enough about LSD to know that "embalming fluid" is not an apt descriptive.

Anyway, here's the Wikipedia article for "Dumpster," which I'd never before understood as a brand name:
The word is a genericized trademark of Dumpster, an American brand name for a specific design.... The word "dumpster", first used commercially in 1936, came from the Dempster-Dumpster system of mechanically loading the contents of standardized containers onto garbage trucks, which was patented by Dempster Brothers in 1935. The containers were called Dumpsters, a blending of the company's name with the word dump....
Genericized. We should have been saying "Dumpster-brand garbage containers" all this time.

By the way, the answer for "Raccoon in a Dumpster" was "forager."

ADDED: I'm not coordinating my themes with James Lileks, but he happens to be writing about the NYT crossword this morning. Nothing about Raccoon in a Dumpster. He's talking about the perennial charge that the NYT crossword is old and white:
So the crossword is old and white. So what? Well, it’s in the Times, and thus it should be inclusive, and that means abandoning terms that Young Persons of Color don’t get, or, if they do get them, don’t find them appropriate for the newspaper....
This is a problem Rex Parker often writes about. I think what's more important than abandoning any terms is not having the puzzle full of words that older middle-class white people know fairly easily but other people would have to look up. It might be fun for me to fill in the names of characters from 1960s TV shows but just a drag for somebody who was born in 1995. As for now-frowned-upon terms like "Eskimo" — which Lileks discusses at the link — the problem is more the casual reliance on the word. It shouldn't be appearing in puzzles frequently, and it should have a clue that acknowledges that it's not currently in use, not something light-hearted like "______ Pie.'"

August 24, 2017

At the Prairie Café...


... stretch out into some late-summer conversation.

And consider doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. Things I'd buy right now if I didn't already have them right here on my desk: Tazo Refresh Mint tea and a Teema mug. (Meade and I had a long discussion about the design of that mug!)

"Why Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Targeting Liberals?"

Asks Ayaan Hirsi Ali (in a NYT op-ed).
[T]he S.P.L.C. has the audacity to label me an “extremist,” including my name in a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” that it published on its website last October.

In that guide, the S.P.L.C. claims that I am a “propagandist far outside the political mainstream” and warns journalists to avoid my “damaging misinformation.” These groundless smears are deeply offensive, as I have dedicated much of my adult life to calling out the true extremists: organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS....

Who really benefits from [S.P.L.C.] activities? Repeatedly, and for more than a decade, journalists at publications ranging from Harper’s to Politico to The Nation to The Weekly Standard have pointed out that the center’s founders seem more interested in profiting off the anxieties and white guilt of Northern liberals than in upholding the civil rights of poor Southerners, or anyone else. There’s a less cynical explanation, though, which is that liberals are deeply and increasingly uncomfortable with calling out Islamic extremism for fear of being smeared as “Islamophobic,” or worse.

"Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago..."

"... according to a New York Times analysis."
The share of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged since 1980. Black students are just 6 percent of freshmen but 15 percent of college-age Americans....
Lots of charts at the link. What is the reason? Who knows?!
“There’s such a distinct disadvantage to begin with,” said David Hawkins, an executive director at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “A cascading set of obstacles all seem to contribute to a diminished representation of minority students in highly selective colleges.”

"I don’t agree with those people who think of science fiction as some kind of prediction of the future. I think it’s a metaphor for the human condition."

Said Brian Aldiss, the science fiction writer who has died at the age of 92, quoted in the NYT obituary.
Mr. Aldiss was celebrated largely for his science fiction, most famously the novels “Non-Stop” (1958), “Hothouse” (1962), “Greybeard” (1964), the Helliconia trilogy (1982-85) and “Frankenstein Unbound” (1973), which in 1990 was the basis of the last film directed by Roger Corman.

He collaborated with Stanley Kubrick and then, after Mr. Kubrick’s death in 1999, with Mr. Spielberg in transforming Mr. Aldiss’s short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” into the emotionally challenging 2001 fairy tale “A.I.” (the letters stand for “artificial intelligence”), about a bereft mother who consoles herself with a cybernetic son.
The Brian Aldiss book I remember is "Cryptozoic!" — which came out in the U.S. in 1969. In Britain, the title was "An Age." From the Wikipedia plot summary:
The story concerns Edward Bush, an artist searching for inspiration in the past [through the use of a drug that allows him to "mind travel"]. When Bush returns from a long stay in the Jurassic, he finds that his nation (presumably the United Kingdom) has been taken over by a totalitarian government. He is immediately drafted into the military and given the mission to kill the scientist Silverstone.... As Bush mind travels again to fulfill his mission, he learns of Silverstone's new philosophical and scientific discoveries. Bush and Silverstone meet, travel to the Cryptozoic with a few allies, and decide together to usher in a new era of humanity, one enlightened by the realization that [Spoiler alert!] time flows backward. Bush returns to his present time, only to be imprisoned in a mental institution...
ADDED: Here's a photo I took in 2014 of SF paperbacks I had in a box in the closet:


When I originally blogged that — here — I said:
I got the idea of reading all the sci-fi books in that box. They're from an era in the past. They are the selections of my ex-husband, and he left them in the house. Who knows what all I could bullshit about reading all that and riffing however the mood strikes me?

"Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting... Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?"

Said the editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal Gerard Baker, quoted in "Wall Street Journal Editor Admonishes Reporters Over Trump Coverage" in the NYT, which reminds us that "The Wall Street Journal is owned by the media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who speaks regularly with Mr. Trump and recently dined with the president at the White House."

"He observes that the country has been reverting to a reactionary cultural conservatism remarkable in its similarity to the Eisenhower years when Playboy was founded."

"(President Trump is widely known to have venerated Hugh, but the feeling isn't mutual: 'We don't respect the guy,' says Cooper [Hefner]. 'There's a personal embarrassment because Trump is somebody who has been on our cover.') Cooper, sounding a lot like Dad, explains, 'Yes, there are lifestyle components to Playboy, but it's really a philosophy about freedom. And right now, as history is repeating itself in real time, I want Playboy to be central to that conversation.'"

From "The Next Hef: Hugh's 25-Year-Old Son Reveals Plan to Remake Playboy 'For My Generation'" (in Hollywood Reporter).

I agree that the country is reverting to a reactionary cultural conservatism remarkably similar to the Eisenhower years. I don't know if Playboy can help. It seems absurd. And yet Playboy had a role to play back then.

"The Girl Scouts Have Accused The Boy Scouts Of Secretly Trying To Recruit Girls To Appeal To Millennial Parents."

Buzzfeed reports.
The strongly worded letter — obtained by BuzzFeed News — alleged that BSA was "surreptitiously testing the appeal of a girls’ offering to millennial parents."...

"Through various means we have learned that BSA is very seriously considering opening their programs to girls and we have made repeated efforts to engage with them and talk about the implications," the [Girl Scouts] spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.

"It's a potentially dangerous and bad idea," the spokesperson said, citing research supporting "single gender programming" which says that girls learn best in an all-girls environment when it comes to scouting.
Note: This isn't about transgender kids. It's about the perceived attitude of millennial parents.

Keep an eye out for the protest cascade.

I've never seen this term used before, and, in fact, I think I may be coining it as I read and think about this NYT headline: "Kaepernick’s Protest Cascades Into Protests Over His Job Situation."

I think it might be a useful term as we observe protests that lead to protests and then to other protests. The subject matter of the original protest changes as the protest is met with protest. I'm making a new tag for this phenomenon to help me notice and collect instances of it.

In the case of Colin Kaepernick, you have a quarterback who began protesting by kneeling when the national anthem was played before football games. According to the NYT he was protesting "police brutality and racial oppression." That is, something out in the world troubled him, something most Americans would agree to oppose, and he adopted a protest that took advantage of his position within a specific enterprise, football, something fans love and might want to enjoy in peace, and he aimed his protest at the national anthem, something many or most Americans want to respect and revere.

Kaepernick's protest gained a tremendous amount of attention and other football players joined the simple kneeling-during-the-anthem form of protest, and that led to even more coverage, so that the anthem-playing started to look like a story that was about Kaepernick's protest.

Now, Kaepernick is a free agent and no one is signing him. If that's a protest, it's a silent protest. It may well be that Kaepernick would be signed, but no one wants his anthem-kneeling interfering with the traditional enjoyment of football. On the theory that there is a silent protest going on, there's now a protest of that protest:
The latest demonstration took place on Wednesday in Manhattan when a dozen groups including Justice League NYC and Color of Change rallied in front of N.F.L. headquarters. Several hundred Kaepernick supporters showed up, holding signs and chanting “I’m with Kap.” The event’s speakers took the N.F.L. to task for a lack of racial sensitivity and Kaepernick’s continued unemployment.

“First, we are here because we believe Colin Kaepernick deserves a job,” said Symone D. Sanders, the former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign. “We also believe that the N.F.L. has been complicit in the ostracization of Colin Kaepernick. And today, it is time for the N.F.L. to take a stand.”
It's hard to protest what's being done in silence. These protesters have to first convince us that the thing they are protesting is even happening. Stop the silence: "take a stand." But how can the NFL take a stand? If they are ostracizing Kaepernick, why would they openly admit it? The idea seems to be that if the NFL had to take a position, they'd take a pro-Kaepernick position. But even if the NFL did take the position that no player should be discriminated against for his political views and his exercise of free speech (even during the solemn opening ceremony), the snubbing of Kaepernick would continue. No team can be forced to take him. There's never a situation where you can say of any team that without discrimination against Kaepernick's speech, he would be signed.

Or I don't know. Maybe you can. The NYT does. It says that "owners and coaches... have twisted themselves in knots defending their decision not to sign Kaepernick" and points out that there are a number of teams that have needed quarterbacks and signed men with less experience and worse records than Kaepernick has.

Part of the protest cascade may be what's happening at the fan level:
Television ratings at every one of the league’s network partners fell last year for the first time, and... some fans said they had stopped watching the N.F.L. because Kaepernick and other players knelt during the anthem.
That's another silent protest. How can you protest against that? Well, you could say that the teams that aren't signing Kaepernick are protesting the fans' not-watching-football protest. 

A new football season is about to begin, and it looks as though kneeling during the anthem will persist (even without Kaepernick), and the protest that was originally premised on police brutality and racial oppression gains momentum — cascades — by incorporating other subjects of protest, such as the problem of Civil War monuments. There's a confluence of Kaepernick and Charlottesville.

I'm trying to think of other times we've seen cascading like this. The "Free Speech" protests of the 60s cascaded into Vietnam War protests. More recently, here in Wisconsin, we saw the anti-Scott-Walker protests merge with Occupy Wisconsin and Black Lives Matter. But I'm especially interested in how a protest inspires counterprotest that changes the nature of the original protest.

"A new report lists Wisconsin as the worst state in America for racial inequality."

"The special new report titled Black and White Inequality in All 50 States considered 10 separate social and economic measures that tend to be unequal along racial lines."

Why Wisconsin and who's to blame?

"New Clinton Memoir: ‘We All Made Mistakes But You Made Most Of Them.'"

"'I’m not suggesting it’s entirely your fault, but, let’s be frank, 99 percent of it is,' read one passage from the chapter entitled 'Seriously, What Were You Thinking?' in which the former candidate conceded missteps she had made over the course of her campaign while also clarifying that none of them should have produced the final election outcome, which she characterized as 'squarely on you fucking people.'"

"But the Trump administration doesn’t need to accept that climate change will make rodent infestations worse to step in and save the cities from their rats...."

"Maybe the best way to get Trump’s attention and sell him on reviving the Urban Rat Control grant program is to stress that there is glory to be had, and for relatively cheap. 'Rats are very incredible, wildly intelligent mammals, and human beings keep going around trying to exterminate [them] as if it’s the opposite,' [rodentologist Bobby] Corrigan said. “These cities are up against one of the most incredible mammals on the planet, which only stand to increase in number.' For a mere $13 million (plus inflation), Trump could stop the ratpocalypse before it begins."

From "America Is on the Verge of Ratpocalypse/Warmer weather is fueling a rodent surge, straining public health systems and the economy. It's time for the federal government to step in" (in The New Republic).

The article frets that Trump may resist rat control because the "ratpocalypse" alarm has to do with global warming. The part I quoted above is an effort at a different pitch, which seems to be an effort to appeal to Trump's vanity, with rats presented as a formidable enemy that he might feel pride in stepping up and fighting.

You don't really have to try that hard. Trump has made "fixing the inner cities" a core promise:
"I’ll tell you, we’re spending a lot of money on the inner cities. We’re fixing the inner cities. We’re doing far more than anybody’s done with respect to the inner cities. It’s a priority for me. And it’s very important."
That's a quote from a few days ago. I cut and pasted it from "President Trump’s claim that he has done ‘far more than anyone’ for ‘inner cities’" at The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" — which gives the statement 4 Pinocchios.

Are there things you're thinking of writing that seem to belong only on Facebook...

... and yet you can't write them on Facebook because — given your set of Facebook friends — it would seem to refer to a particular person and you only want to make a general statement? You might be thinking about a problem or a mistake of some kind, perhaps because it's happening with someone you see on Facebook, and you'd like to say people should not do X, but you can't, because it will connect to a particular Facebook friend.

I have something like that, and I'm not going to say what it is, because I know at least some of my Facebook friends read this blog. But I thought I'd go meta, explain my plight to you, and let you use the comments here as a place where you can get your own statements out, without the problem that I have. You've got plenty of disconnection here. Is there something you see your Facebook friends doing that you haven't been able to say on Facebook because some perceived Etiquette of Facebook is stopping you?

The problem with Hillary's pause-button fantasy.

As we talked about yesterday here, Hillary Clinton — in her soon-to-be-published memoir — fantasized about the choice she didn't make when she was on stage with Donald Trump at the second debate last October. She wrote:
"It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘back up you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’...

"I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard, I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world." 
I've already said a few things about this, so read the first post, but there's something else. Is Hillary saying — with hindsight — I should have taken option B? I don't know what's in the next paragraph. Perhaps she says my choice of option A really was best, because I would have sounded weird, weak, or crazy if I'd said "back up you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up."

Last night, PBS News hour played the audiobook version of that quote. Listen to how "back up you creep" sounds in Hillary Clinton's voice:

That might get some feminists and fans to cheer, but I think most people would think it's ridiculous to voluntarily join a debate and then object to the proximity of the opponent. I suspect that she's saying: See? I did the right thing. I know how to deal with "difficult men" trying to throw me off.

Does she mention Rick Lazio, who got into her space in that senatorial debate in 2000? Hindsight there says she did the right thing, which was to act as though his approaching her was funny. The feminist spin — man invades woman's space — was applied by commentators after the fact.

So I think Hillary knew how to act and wasn't choosing between options and would never have chosen option B, even if she'd had a pause button to get more time to contemplate the options. Option B is a book-selling gambit invented not because Hillary lost the election and seriously thinks saying "back up you creep" might have produced a better outcome but because it might stir up excitement about a dead-on-arrival book.

But I want to talk about "creep." Why — if you were inventing an imagined line that might have been deployed during the debate — would you come up with "back up you creep"? Why not something more sophisticated? Why use a girlish word like "creep"? It sounds like something a 22-year-old intern might call her boss. Let's go back to 1998. Here are Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas writing in Newsweek:
Over the phone, the two women are talking about sex and its consequences. Night after night, for months on end, they have talked of little else. One of the women, the younger one, sounds like a neurotic, slightly spoiled Valley Girl...

The older woman, Linda Tripp, is urging the younger woman, Monica Lewinsky, to tell all about her relationship with the man they refer to as "the big he" and "the creep." But Lewinsky is resisting, hoping, somewhat plaintively, that she won't get caught....

For a moment, Lewinsky seems to entertain the idea of threatening to tell all – tell Clinton that she intends to reveal the truth if she is questioned by Jones's lawyers. "Maybe we should just tell the creep," she says. "Maybe we should just say, don't ever talk to me again, I f-----d you over [by telling others about the affair], now you have this information, do whatever you want with it."...

Lewinsky recalls a thank-you note she wrote the president after her family was allowed to watch him tape a radio address. "I sent a note to Nancy [Hernreich, an assistant to the president], a note to Betty [Currie], and a note to the creep... 'Dear Schmucko, thank you... As my little nephew said, 'It was great to meet the principal of the United States'."...
Back to October 2016. Here's video from the NYT put up the day after the debate. The pro-Hillary spin is fascinating — so different experienced today that it was back then, when we felt Trump was down and desperate and Hillary was sailing toward victory:

August 23, 2017

If you're going to pick out the "57 most outrageous quotes" from a Donald Trump speech, you need to put them in order of outrageousness.

At CNN, Chris Cillizza has "Donald Trump's 57 most outrageous quotes from his Arizona speech," but they're in chronological order. He's trying to bowl us over with numerosity, but if you start reading them, and it's a big slog. Most of them aren't even "outrageous," just susceptible to some criticism or clarification. I end up scrolling looking for anything I'd call "outrageous." What's the most outrageous thing here? I don't even know. 57 is just too damned many. It makes Cillizza look peevish and nit-picky.

To be fair, when you say these are the "57 most outrageous quotes," they don't need to be that outrageous. These are just the most outrageous quotes from the set of quotes that were Trump's speech. Maybe he made 500 statements. These are just the 57 that struck Chris Cillizza the hardest. And it's a way for people who don't want to have to watch or read the whole thing to get a feeling for what was said.

Nevertheless, the headline aggravates me, because it clickbait-promised a torrent of outrageousness and I can't find anything too exciting. And when I realized that the ordering was merely chronological, I felt ripped off by the come-on.

I ended up skimming, but I stopped at #28 and laughed:
"Now, you know, I was a good student. I always hear about the elite. You know, the elite. They're elite? I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment, and I live in the White House, too, which is really great."
Not outrageous, just Trump being Trump. I guess for some people any of Trump's Trumpish statements are experienced as outrageous and perhaps Cillizza is entertaining them or helping them with their horrible mood.

That reminds me: I think the tearing down of Confederate statues is something people are doing because they can't tear down Trump. It's like kicking the dog after a hard day working for a boss you hate.

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"It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled."

"It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, well, what would you do? Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘back up you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’"

So Hillary admits that she couldn't think of what to do under pressure. She needs a pause button. Is that like a reset button? There's no such thing. I mean you can vandalize the hotel hot tub to get a plastic button to call whatever you want — the Make Me President button — but it doesn't work.

More from the leaked excerpts to the memoir we're not all going to buy when it comes out in a few weeks:
"I chose option A. I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off."
The writer assumes the reader will not immediately think: Bill Clinton!
"I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard," she wrote. 
The writer assumes the reader will not think: phallic symbol.
“I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen option B. It certainly would have been better TV. Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist, smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.”
If you present an endlessly smiling controlled face to the world and choose to say nothing, people won't know what you think, won't trust you, and — since you're asking to be our President — won't be able to rely on you to speak for us. If you're that afraid to come up with an apt response to someone who's being intimidating, how do you have what it takes to be President? You think if you said something, it might be bad, so best to say nothing?

Look how easy it was for George W. Bush to push back Al Gore's overbearing physical encroachment during a debate:

Perfect. That nod. Everyone laughed. Nobody thought Bush seemed unpresidentially peevish. I still laugh every time I play that clip. And I play it a lot.

UPDATE: I have more to say about "back up you creep" here.

The insanely awful Louise Linton.

The wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made such a preposterously bad Instagram post that you almost have to love her. Click to enlarge and read:

I mean, we haven't had anything like this for a long time. I was going to name some ladies of the past I'm reminded of, but I don't want to libel anybody. I'll just say it's nice to have a good old-fashioned rich bitch to be horrified by.

I'll just link to Robin Givhan's piece in The Washington Post — "Louise Linton just spelled out her value system for you common folk," noting, among other things, that Linton has taken her account private and apologized.

Should Louise Linton have apologized? Pick what most closely shows what you think. free polls

WaPo's Dana Milbank has a urine-filled column about Bannon and Trump.

Dana Milbank reached all the way back to potty-mouthed Lyndon Johnson for a quote: "it’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." (LBJ was talking about J. Edgar Hoover.)

Now, I know from having read Robert A. Caro's "Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III" that if you want to talk about politics and piss, LBJ is a good source. It's always amusing to whip this out:
“He would piss in the parking lot of the House Office Building,” says Wingate Lucas, a farm boy who represented Fort Worth. “Well, a lot of fellows did that. I did it. But the rest of us would try to hide behind a car or something. Lyndon wouldn’t. He just didn’t care if someone noticed him.” In fact, Lucas says, he seemed to want to be noticed. “I remember once, we were walking across the lot and some [female] secretaries were behind us, and he just stopped and began to take a piss right in front of them.” He would also urinate in front of his own secretaries— and since some of them were attractive young women, this, too, was startling to those who witnessed it. During the years in the House, he had a one-room hideaway office on the top floor of the House Office Building— without a toilet, but with a washbasin in the corner of the room, concealed behind a wood and green-burlap screen. While entertaining guests in the hideaway, or dictating to a secretary, he would pull the screen aside and urinate in the basin... And if ... a colleague came in, Johnson, finishing, would sometimes turn to him with his penis in his hand. Without putting it back in his pants, he would begin a conversation, still holding it, “and shaking it, as if he was showing off,” says one man with whom he did this. He asked another man, “Have you ever seen anything as big as this?”
Yes, LBJ — a Democrat, you know — was awfully crude, so how can Dana Milbank re-aim him so his piss witticism is about Trump and Bannon? Unlike LBJ with Hoover, Trump didn't keep Bannon on the inside.
And now Bannon, who only last week was boasting that his rivals within the administration were “wetting themselves,” is on the outside, fly unzipped.
Milbank must know that he looks crude and childish speaking of Bannon unzipping his fly, because he goes to the trouble of digging up something Bannon once said about peeing. It wasn't about peeing on anybody, just "wetting themselves." That's similar to Obama's famous quote about people in Washington getting "all wee-weed up."

Having established his piss metaphor, Milbank proceeds to describe the headlines at as "a rhetorical golden shower." Milbank tries to wring comedy out of the piss he's given himself permission to splash everywhere, but he dribbles out stuff like:
Which way the flow goes now in these early days of the post-Bannon White House could well be determinative — not just for the Trump presidency but for the country as it grapples with a reemergence of white supremacists. 
He should have grappled with the flaccid structure of that sentence. He forced me to think about Bannon's cock peeing and the meat of the sentence is "could well be determinative." Didn't his writing class ever mention strong verbs? The closest he gets to piss-related strong language is "flow goes," a dumb unintentional rhyme.

Now, anything he writes that seems pee-related is going to stick out like Jumbo. (That's what LBJ called that thing about which he asked a guy if he'd ever seen anything as big as.) So it's piss I picture when Milbank writes "Can Trump control the wave of racism he has released?" And it's genitalia on view at the mention of "Bannon’s cockamamie idea," and the idea has to do with Blackwater, which seems like something one ought to consult a doctor about.

August 22, 2017

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By a vote of 3-to-2 vote, the Supreme Court of India invalidated the law that let Muslim men divorce their wife by saying "talaq" (divorce) 3 times.

The NYT reports:
Of those who voted against, two said the practice was unconstitutional and one said it went against Islamic law. One of the dissenters was a Muslim judge; the other was the court’s chief justice, who urged Parliament to come up with a new provision.
That is, only a minority said it was a violation of the constitutional right to equality. Moreover, the tone was, according to one law professor, demeaning to women:
“The patronizing tone towards Muslim women in all the opinions is quite breathtaking,” Ratna Kapur, a law professor and author of a forthcoming book on gender and human rights, wrote on Facebook. “Women are talked about as if they are in need of protection, not in terms of their rights.”

She added, “Nearly every reference to the Muslim woman in the majority and dissenting opinions reduces Muslim women to ‘suffering victims.’ ”

McMaster used a 1972 black-and-white photo of 3 Afghan women in mini skirts to persuade Trump about Afghanistan.

According to The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail is extracting a tidbit from an WaPo article titled "'It’s a hard problem’: Inside Trump’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan":
One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.
Second-highest-rated comment at The Daily Mail: "Gee - maybe if someone sends him pictures of short-skirted nurses in Sweden, we'll get single-payer health care..."

Breitbart — now with Bannon — covers Trump's Afghanistan speech.

A screen shot of the front page right now:

Key word: "Flip-flop."

Seemingly ready-made joke that contains a pop-culture reference you might need to be over 40 to get: "…HIS MCMASTER’S VOICE."

Whether you get the reference or not, you might be interested to know that Wikipedia has a page for "His Master's Voice":
His Master's Voice, abbreviated HMV, is a famous trademark in the music and recording industry and was the unofficial name of a major British record label [parent of RCA]. The name was coined in the 1890s as the title of a painting of a dog....

[T]he dog, a terrier named Nipper, had originally belonged to Barraud's brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark's voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas....

In 1968, RCA introduced a modern logo and restricted the use of Nipper to the album covers of Red Seal Records. The Nipper trademark was reinstated to most RCA record labels in the Western Hemisphere beginning in late 1976 and was once again widely used in RCA advertising throughout the late 1970s and 1980s....
"His Master's Voice" is also the title of a sci-fi book by Stanisław Lem:
It is a densely philosophical first contact story about an effort by scientists to decode, translate and understand an extraterrestrial transmission.... [T]he scientists are able to use part of the data to synthesize a substance with unusual properties. Two variations are created: a glutinous liquid nicknamed "Frog Eggs" and a more solid version that looks like a slab of red meat called "Lord of the Flies" (named for its strange agitating effect on insects brought into proximity with it, rather than for the allegorical meaning of the name).... "Frog eggs" seems to enable a teleportation of an atomic blast at the speed of light to a remote location, which would make deterrence impossible....

By the time the project is ended, they are no more sure than they were in the beginning about whether the signal was a message from intelligent beings that humanity failed to decipher, or a poorly understood natural phenomenon.
But back to Breitbart. It's easier to understand than Lem's frog eggs. I'm not going to read all these articles. As a collection of headlines, they make a spicy first page, but I'm just going to use a sampling method by clicking on one. I choose "Flynn: An Old Casino King Doubles Down on a Bad Hand in Afghanistan." Flynn is a Daniel J. Flynn, not Michael Flynn, the general who used to have Trump's ear, and the headline distracted me into thinking Trump's old confidant had taken a swipe at him. No sooner do I succumb to the click than I get the feeling there's nothing here that isn't already understood from the headline, which now looks like a one-liner for a late-night talk-show host.

But Trump himself introduced the idea that he's playing a card game. From the text of the speech:
No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions. When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems. But, one way or another, these problems will be solved -- I'm a problem solver -- and, in the end, we will win.
He didn't say "I was dealt a bad and very complex hand," nor did he say "we will play to win." He didn't stress the card-playing metaphor, and but — by using the word "hand" — Trump played into the hands of comedians and headline writers who easily connect his presidential rhetoric to his old work in the gambling business.

The term "double down" comes from blackjack: "to double the bet after one has seen the initial cards, with the requirement that one and only one additional card be drawn." That's the OED, which explains the extended use: "to engage in risky behaviour, esp. when one is already in a dangerous situation." I'm fascinated by one of the examples, from a 1991 set of essays by Joseph Epstein called "Line Out of a Walk."

Epstein's weird title is easily understood once you learn that the artist Paul Klee described how he draws by saying, "I take a line out for a walk." And if that interests you, remember I have a whole series of blog posts called "How to draw/paint like Paul Klee," including "Approximating biomorphs," which sounds frog-egg-related, and see how this blog post is taking a line out for a walk?

Anyway, Epstein's quote, illustrating how to use "double down," is "Let me double down..and see if I can't win some points for being a racist by asserting that, for some while now, black men have worn hats with more flair than anyone else in America."

And that's where this walk abruptly ends, because Amazon's "look inside" feature excludes the page with that quote and there's no Kindle edition. I'll just assume the venerable essayist is only joking about being a racist, back in 1991 when smart white people were comfortable with the notion that everyone is racist and exposing a detail of one's own particular racism felt like a mark of sophistication. 

"That was what she did. She just wandered places. She trusted somebody, and then this is what happened."

Said Christopher Harress‏, a colleague of the 30-year-old free-lance reporter Kim Wall who took a ride on a "personal submarine" and never returned, quoted in "A man accused of killing a journalist on his private submarine ‘buried her at sea,’ police say" (WaPo).

The "inventor" of the submarine, Peter Madsen, says she died in an accident.
Before his story changed, Madsen told police that he dropped Wall off from the ship late on Aug. 10, and later barely made it after the ballast tank malfunctioned and the Nautilus sank in less than a minute. “I couldn’t close any hatches or anything,” Madsen told a Danish television station.

But a witness contradicted this. He told reporters that he saw Madsen emerge from the belly of the vessel and stay in the submarine's tower until water began pouring into it. Only then did Madsen swim to a nearby boat, the witness said. “There was no panic at all,” he told a Danish outlet. “The man was absolutely calm.”

The Washington Post takes Daily Caller click bait... probably because Chelsea Clinton got something right.

You don't have to click on any of this:

1. The Daily Caller: "It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House." (The occasion: Barron Trump, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, was photographed walking with his parents from Air Force One after some trip from New Jersey back to Washington. Barron's mother is wearing a sun dress (with the usual high heels) and his father is wearing the same thing he always wears. The Daily Caller refers to Melania and Donald's clothes as "their Sunday best" — an old-fashioned expression that isn't even accurate, since bare shoulders are a traditional no-no for church.)

2. Chelsea Clinton tweeted (linking to The Daily Caller): "It's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves."

3. The Washington Post followed on with: "Chelsea Clinton defends Barron Trump after conservative website bashes his clothes."

August 21, 2017

Trump's Afghanistan speech.

Chasing a break in the clouds to get a look at the 85% solar eclipse.

It was overcast here today in Madison, so we jumped in the car and headed for the blue:


About 40 minutes north we pulled over where if all else failed we still had a great look at the prairie:


We got a nice crisp view of the eclipse using the glasses I'd picked up at Walmart. I shared my glasses with Meade and with a nice couple from Mineral Point who happened to drive up. After the peak of the eclipse, we drove a short distance to Palfrey's Glen, where the eclipse affected the dappling light:


And we hiked all the way to the waterfall, where a big patch of light gave an excellent view of the last part of the eclipse:


On the way back home, we took the Merrimac Ferry across Lake Wisconsin:


Did you break all the rules and look at the sun? Trump did!

Pics, at CNN, of the Prez squinting at the famous disc of fire.

"Even talking about this… Men get so mad when they hear women talk about them this way. They get so defensive."

I watched that video a few days ago, and it's haunting me. Something about the demeanor of the 2 women — Amanda Marcotte and Fiona Helmsley — is just so weirdly enervated as they bemoan the deplorable energy ("fragility") of men.

More transcript here, at Salon:
I think the single greatest threat, and I’ll say to humanity, at the moment is male fragility, and men just not being able to process their feelings of insecurity, their feelings of anger....

What they were chanting in Charlottesville: ‘You will not replace us.’ Who is trying? Who is trying to replace you?...

I think it’s just the way that society raises them. Women are raised to have some concern about the way that they look, and they’re encouraged to be more sensitive. A lot of men aren’t....
So they're taking the nurture side of the old nature-or-nurture argument. And they're happier with women because they've been nurtured to care about how they look? Shouldn't a feminist oppose the nurturing of women to care about how they look and whether they're "more sensitive"? That sounds as though low-level vanity is meritorious.

And oddly enough those Charlottesville Alt-Right guys were concerned about how they look. There's this (in Vice):
... Andrew Anglin, who runs the popular hate site the Daily Stormer, published a truly astounding blog post... that explains how the movement he helped build should market itself [at the Charlottesville rally]....

"It may be a trend, but I can’t be the only person to find the term ‘cougar’ repulsive."

"It’s predatory, naff, insulting to the woman and the man. And ‘toyboy’ isn’t exactly complimentary to anyone, either. (A boy to be toyed with? No, thanks.) Instead, I’m going to campaign for older women who are dating younger men to henceforth be called WHIPs – Women who are Hot, Intelligent and in their Prime. And the men shall be called really bloody lucky."

From "Now I'm in my 50s, young men want to date me: Welcome to the world of WHIPS" (in The Telegraph).

Nuclear enthusiasm posters from North Korea.

More at "With Color and Fury, Anti-American Posters Appear in North Korea" (NYT).
“What is typical in these posters is the image of an undaunted, fierce North Korea that is not fazed by the moves by the United States or the United Nations,” Koen de Ceuster, an expert on North Korea at Leiden University in the Netherlands, told Reuters.

“It reinforces the images of the strides North Korea made in missile capability,” he said, “and how North Korea is undaunted by any challenges to its sovereignty.”

"This is the second time in the past two months where a US guided-missile destroyer has been involved in a collision in the region."

"In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven navy sailors were killed, and two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald were removed after the incident."

And, in the past 24 hours, "Five US Navy sailors are injured and another 10 missing after guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker early on Monday morning (Aug 21) off the coast of Singapore."

How are accidents like this possible? 

I'm worried someone is messing with our navigation systems.
etbass said:
Starting to look like the US Navy is pretty vulnerable to fairly primitive battle tactics that have been around a couple millennia.
Which seems more likely to you: free polls

I served in the Navy and spent many hours doing underway deck watches as an officer. I would like to know exactly what the deck watches were doing during the 30 minutes prior to the collisions. Were the watchers distracted? Internet surfing? Chatting up enlisted sea(wo)men?

Published comments after the first one gave us no information other than the heroics after the collision.
Much as we should feel concern for the personnel who are injured, missing, or killed, we should resist being manipulated by demands to pay attention only to that and not to the serious questions about why this has happened twice now.

"But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of the perfect object."

"This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is."

Said Harry Shearer, one of the few people who have actually seen the long-suppressed "The Day the Clown Cried." The movie, directed by Jerry Lewis, starred Jerry Lewis as a comedian who made fun of Hitler and got arrested and forced to entertain children in a Nazi death camp.
Lewis biographer Shawn Levy probably sums it up for many of us when he says the interest in Clown is the “the inconceivable oddness of it. Jerry Lewis is still such a strange and singular bird that I think the very concept is intriguing. And the people who’ve seen the film and spoken about it – Harry Shearer, say – are so vivid in their description that they’ve made it a holy grail. Plus, the fascination with grindhouse, Ed Wood, and movies so bad they’re good (a dubious category) virtually insures there’s a cult for something like this.”
Here's Jerry Lewis saying it will never be seen because it's bad and he's embarrassed by it and he's grateful he had the power to suppress it.

But he didn't destroy it, and in fact he donated it, along with other films, to the Smithsonian, and the instructions are simply that it not be shown until at least 2025. And Lewis once said:
“After I’m gone, who knows what’s going to happen? The only thing that I do feel, that I always get a giggle out of, some smart, young guy is going to come up with an idea, and he’s going to run the fucking thing. I would love that. Because he’s going to see a hell of a movie!”
He's gone now, so maybe we will see it. I've expressed my opinion before (in 2013):
Even if it was in the end, a terrible idea — but wasn't it basically the idea in "Life Is Beautiful"? — can't we see it now, with the understanding that it was a mistake and extract the good and learn from the lesson about what badness is?
It ended with a notoriously cringe-inducing scene of cavorting clown Lewis leading the laughing kids into the gas chamber. Overcome by the grief of what he is being forced to do, he chooses to stay in the gas chamber with them as they are killed.
Let us see it. Of all the Nazi-related things to be ashamed of... maybe this excessive shame about bad art is shameful. Or is it the other way around... and more bad art should be destroyed before anyone can see it?

The sun rises again, not knowing or caring...

... about the United States, where millions are motoring to position themselves in a shadow the moon will cast — for a couple minutes — on a place called the United States.


That's a photograph I took just now from our backyard in Madison, Wisconsin. The sky was very orange at that moment, but the orange has dissipated in the couple minutes it's taken me to get the picture up here.

Yes, we will not be among the millions in the moon shadow. It's not that we didn't plan. We were onto the eclipse very early and had hotel reservations in Boise, Idaho, which looks like just about the best place to be. But we canceled. It was one of the many things we could have done, but clouds got in the way.

ADDED: I seriously considered hopping in the car and barreling down to Nebraska — not worrying about hotels, just sleeping in the car when necessary. But here's the morning weather report for Nebraska:
The morning showers and thunderstorms could leave some significant cloud cover over parts of the region through Monday afternoon, leading to potentially difficult eclipse viewing in some locations, the National Weather Service office in Valley said. However, a few breaks in the clouds cannot be ruled out. In southeast Nebraska, there is a good chance of high-level clouds, but they may be thin and broken with peeks at the sky possible. Looks at the sky may be more possible closer to the Interstate 80 corridor and north, the weather service said.
That's where I'd be, on I-80. But what's I-80 going to be like today — especially if people start chasing the breaks in the clouds? I'm picturing people pulling over everywhere on I-80 and then just even stopping right in the lanes and the whole thing becoming an insane parking lot. Then everyone runs out of gas, including the gas stations, and we have to wait until the federal government saves us.

At CNN, it says:
"This will be like Woodstock 200 times over -- but across the whole country," said Alex Young, solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
I missed the real Woodstock too. I had a ride and all, but I couldn't afford the $17 ticket and how was I to know people would just tear down the fences and get in free? And yet my friend who would have driven me there came home and told me that with all the rain and mud it was impossible to enjoy "unless you were part pig."

August 20, 2017

The great Jerry Lewis has died!

NYT obit.
A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Mr. Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.
ADDED: I like this 1995 interview (with Charles Grodin, whose show I, unlike most people, loved):

And here's the car chase scene from "The Disorderly Orderly," which I saw when I was 13:

That scene revealed a whole new dimension of hilarity to me. I'd had no idea how funny something could be — just waves and waves of funnier and funnier. With possibly one exception, it's the most I ever laughed at a movie.

AND: Here's the Marc Maron interview with Jerry Lewis.

At the Questionable Artwork Café...

... you are invited, once again, to examine the political significance and possible offensiveness of a painting. This time there's no hiding the name of the painter. Even if I smudged out the signature, I think you'd know it's Norman Rockwell. I'll add that it's from 1926 and titled "Love Song." The rest is up to you. I especially encourage you to discover the 5 things that are egregiously wrong with this picture.

"When you put a hat and sunglasses on it, it kind of takes the raunchiness out of it."

"I want to raise the bar for dick pics. If you’re going to send one, at least make me laugh. Put some effort into it."
[Soraya] Doolbaz says her husband is very supportive of the idea and dick pics in general, noting that they dated long-distance for a while. Before that, she says she received enough dick pics to give her plenty of inspiration for the project: “Oh my God, when I was single, I would get a ton of them,” she says. “And my friends would get them too and we would show them to each other.”
That's from a Village Voice piece published in 2015. I found that as a result of searches inspired by discussion in the comments to yesterday's "Questionable Artwork Café," where I'd invited people to impose political analysis on a Thomas Hart Benton painting of a farm scene. Participating in the comments myself, I said:
Huge vagina symbol in foreground.

Empowering for women or insulting?

Horse is big phallic symbol, but far from adequate to that huge vagina. Also the harnessing of the horse is emphasized. Is that empowering for women?
And after I got a little pushback for seeing a vagina symbol, I added:
Freud thought a hat was a vagina symbol.
And then the fanciful notion:
That suggests that when a man is having sex with a woman, he's wearing her.

Not wearing her out. Wearing her like she's a very elaborate hat.
Robt C brought up one of my all-time favorite books:
If what Althouse says about sex and hats is true, it give a whole new meaning to Oliver Sacks' book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
I said:
Suddenly, everything makes sense!

The man wasn't wrong at all. He was right and everyone else was wrong. And that's the way of the world, if we could only see things from a different point.

As Bob Dylan sang: "We always did feel the same/We just saw it from a different point of view."
Meanwhile, CWJ had said, "Well there are pussy hats after all." But those are hats for your head. To get the humor — and it's my favorite form of humor — you have to picture the ridiculous big-and-small foolery. The penis is wearing that hat. I figured somebody had already made a project out of putting little hats on penises, and I was right. The big-and-small element or humor is not present in the art project shown at The Village Voice. Soraya Doolbaz — great name! — makes penis-sized clothing, including hats, and dresses real penises up for posing in photographs. In the woman-as-hat notion that amused me, the "head" for the hat is much smaller than the head in a normal hat, but the hat is much larger than the normal hat, so you've got a very radical disproportion.

As I said in a post back in 2009, I have long been aware I am usually amused by humor about the size of things:
We were talking about the expression "postage stamp lawn," that is, a very small lawn, perhaps the size of an area rug. But what if there really were a postage stamp the size of an area rug? That would be a huge postage stamp. Ha ha. Imagine the size of the envelope you'd put it on. Okay. That to me is hilarious, and it reminded me of the joke I found so funny — decades ago — that I laughed so hard the teller of the joke got mad at me for laughing so much. I was cutting the joker's hair — I used to think I could do haircuts and acted upon that belief — and I noticed a bright red dot on the top of his head — the size of a pimple, but not a pimple — and not something he'd ever have noticed. I said, "What's this red dot on top of your head?" He said, "That's my Santa Claus hat!"
I have ever since regarded that as the funniest spontaneous remark I've ever heard, and maybe that will give you some insight into how I feel about the woman-as-hat notion that amused me so much yesterday. Or maybe you have the same taste in big-and-small jokes and you're laughing too. Click the "big and small" tag for more insight into Althouse's big-and-small fetish. In any case, I hope you like the photographs of Soraya Doolbaz.

And apologies to all of you who are thinking I waited nearly 4 hours for the 3d post of the day and this — this!! — is what I get? This post, half written, spurred a real-world conversation that took up nearly the entire interval. So that makes me think if you'll find plenty to say in the comments.