September 2, 2017

"Not much on Earth can beat the American road trip in travel for a sense of freedom -- no pat-down, no passport, no airport muddle, just revving an engine and leaving at will...."

"The American road trip rekindled my interest in travel and, most of all, reminded me how lucky we are in our country's spaciousness and modernity.... So over the course of 2012-14, in four seasons, I drove tens of thousands of miles, meandering through the back roads of the deep South, listening to the blues on the radio, visiting churches and gun shows and family farms, and writing down people's stories -- of hardship and striving, raising families, struggling in adversity and remembering the past.... In my car, driving slowly, stopping often, the word that occurred to me was overlooked. Later, during the turmoil of last year's election, I began to think of them as the people no one listens to.... What made the experience a continuing pleasure was that, in my car, I never knew the finality of a flight, or the ordeal of being wrangled and ordered about at an airport, the stomach-turning gulp of liftoff or the jolt of a train, but only the hum of tires, of telephone poles or trees whipping past, the easy escape, the gradual release of the long road unrolling like a river through America. It is in many respects a Zen experience, scattered with road candy, unavailable to motorists in any other country on Earth."

From "The Romance of the American Road Trip/No other travel experience, especially today, can beat the sense of freedom it brings," by Paul Theroux — in The Wall Street Journal (behind a paywall).

Video: "A drunk driver was spotted standing on top of his car as it rolled down a street in China."

"According to reports, the man had been celebrating a business deal that had gone well earlier in the day."

Chuck Berry on Belgian television in 1965.

I enjoyed watching this:

Then YouTube fed me this: Chuck Berry (and Little Richard) at the Bill Clinton inauguration (in 1993). Shots of Clinton and Gore in the audience are hilarious:

Lunchtime at the Compost Café...


... enjoy!

(And enjoy shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal, where you can get your composting supplies, like this for the kitchen and this for the yard.)

I used the word "nerdily" (in that last blog post) and Meade, proofreading, questioned it: "Nerdily?"

I questioned that, and he said "I question all adverbs."

Now, I want to get him a hat that says "Question Adverbs." You know, like the old slogan "Question Authority." Where did that slogan come from? Ah, Wikipedia — I love Wikipedia — has a page for "Question authority":
The slogan was popularized by controversial psychologist Timothy Leary....

It is intended to encourage people to avoid fallacious appeals to authority. The term has always symbolized the necessity of paying attention to the rules and regulations promulgated by a government unto its citizenry. However, psychologists have also criticized Leary's method of questioning authority and have argued that it resulted in widespread dysfunctionality. In their book Question Authority, Think For Yourself, psychologists Beverly Potter and Mark Estren alleged that the practice of Leary's philosophy enhances a person's self-interest and greatly weakens the ability to cooperate with others.
Since — as quoted in the previous post — "Everybody's shouting "Which side are you on?,'" I'm on Timothy Leary's side.  About questioning authority. About questioning adverbs, I'm on Meade's side. I question them, but — as with authorities — after questioning, I sometimes go along with them.


"Antifa Broke My Camera."

That's the headline at The New Republic, where, if you click, you'll see a photo with the caption "The author's camera, moments before it was smashed on the ground. Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk." Thomas Hawk is, obviously, not the author of the article, whose camera got flung by a masked guy wearing a hat that seem to say "Queremos El Rock" (We want the rock?*)

The author is Mike Kessler, who tells us:
Journalists, myself included, held our cameras high to capture the assault as the antifas circled, raising their shields, some decorated with the words “No Hate,” to block our view and push us away.

“Stop filming,” shouted a masked white woman in her twenties, pushing her shield at us. “You know what’s gonna happen anyway.”... Suddenly, from behind, someone knocked my camera out of my right hand.... another antifa picked up my camera, hurled it into the air, and got in my face. “No fucking pictures!”...

To be clear, there’s no equivalence between white supremacists and antifas. One has a message of hate, and one seeks to stop that hate.... Conflating the two groups is a way for whataboutist conservatives to play down the racist rot that is spreading on the right....

For what it’s worth, I’m a middle-aged white guy. The young man who snatched my camera was also white. I looked at him and shook my head. “Seriously, man!? Is that really necessary?” It was all a bit of a blur, but I think my next words were, “Dude, I’m on your side”—meaning the side that finds white supremacists repugnant....
Hey, journalist — you call yourself a "journalist" — how about not being on any side? Have you completely forgotten that idea? Sad about your camera, but what about your ethics? Did somebody grab them too and smash them on the pavement? Or is it still possible to scrounge back somewhere in your head and find them?**

* I couldn't find "We Want the Rock," specifically, in English or Spanish, but I did find "We Want a Rock":

There's also "I Wanna Rock":

"Wanna" can be "want a" or "want to." The song title "I Wanna Rock" is, without more, ambiguous. "Rock" could be a noun or a verb. Spoiler alert: It's a verb. In the They Might Be Giants song, you can see from the title that "rock" is a noun, but it's nevertheless hard to guess what they want. They want "a rock to wind a string around."

What does that mean? "This sounds really abstract, but in order to begin wrapping a piece of string around itself, you need something to start with. Like a rock. I guess you can make a ball of string starting from nothing if you just make a tiny loop at the end of the string. But it seems theoretically impossible. It's a metaphor for getting started." In other words, you don't need a rock.

But you can be your own rock. And here's Paul Simon singing what Art Garfunkel told him was his "most neurotic" song, "I Am a Rock":

Speaking of being your own rock, there's The Rock, Dwayne Johnson...

... but don't think he's called "El Rock." In fact, I think "el rock," in Spanish, means rock music. (The little stone is feminine, "la roca.") So after all this, I'm going to nail it down: The camera-flinging masked man wants rock music. So it's pretty much the Twisted Sister video.

** Since I'm doing song lyrics in footnotes this morning, let me indulge myself with something from "Desolation Row":
Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”...

I don't watch the show, but I enjoyed "The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory."

It has some great points to make, and it supports those points — nerdily enough — with evidence. That is, there are plenty of clips from the show, so you don't have to know the show to understand what is being talked about.

It's possible that there's an unfair selectivity to the chosen clips and that other templates could be imposed, but even if you're resistant to the idea that this — and other — TV comedies deploy real sexism under cover of nerdiness, you should answer with evidence of your own and not with discourse-averse categorical rejection.

I found that clip through Metafilter, where somebody says:
I can't watch the show. I've tried. (Full disclosure: I have tried because more than one person, on more than one occasion, has informed me that I am very... Sheldon, or anyway what Sheldon would be if he were female.) It's a show that does not genuinely like any of its characters, makes unkind and hurtful fun of all of them, and is sexist in a way I see all the damn time in geek culture. It's not funny there, either.
I attempted to watch the show approximately once, but I couldn't get through it, because I feel like a complete alien to the culture where actors say one gag after another and an audience (or machine) laughs on cue over and over. I can, however, see that "The Big Bang Theory" has been one of the top-3 highest-rated TV shows for the last 5 years.

Ah! Here, you can watch "The Big Bang Theory" without the laugh track. It's put together by someone who hates the show and thinks he can "expose how unfunny the show actually is" by taking out the laugh track. To me, the laugh track is the worst thing about the show. I am not fooled by laugh tracks into thinking things are funnier than they are. I get hostile and think they're less funny than they'd be without the laugh track.

So I prefer the no-laugh-track version of "The Big Bang Theory," even as it's dark and depressing. I'm reminded of what bothered me when I did try to watch the show: The characters are supposed to be very smart, but they don't say smart things. They say stupid things.

"It’s Dianne being Dianne, but it’s greatly out of step with where the base is, where most Democrats are, and where most California voters are."

"The base is on fire like we really have not seen in more than a generation.”

That was said about Dianne Feinstein by an adviser to California's other Senator, Kamala Harris named Sean Clegg, who is quoted in the L.A. Times in "Sen. Feinstein called for 'patience' with Trump. Now she faces a liberal backlash as she ponders reelection."

The Diane-being-Dianne meme was also present in a remark by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a Feinstein confidante: “She was Dianne. She’s measured. She’s serious. That’s why she has so much respect, such gravitas, such seniority that she can leverage on our behalf.”

Feinstein will be up for reelection in 2018 if she decides to run. She is 84 years old and would be running for a term that would end when she is 91. She is 8th in seniority in the Senate. She's been there since 1992. There are 3 Senators who've held on since the 1970. But Feinstein is older than all of them.

What exactly did Feinstein say about Trump that brought this backlash? "I just hope he has the ability to learn and change — and if he can, he can be a good president."

A few days later, she responded to the backlash with more Diane-being-Dianne moderation: "While I’m under no illusion that [Trump's changing is] likely to happen and will continue to oppose his policies, I want President Trump to change for the good of the country."

September 1, 2017

At Queen Anne's Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And consider doing some shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

The end of an era here in the 7th Circuit: Richard Posner retires, suddenly, beginning tomorrow.

The Chicago Tribune reports.
Posner said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is "proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging." He said he spent his career applying his view that "judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case."...

"I think [the Supreme Court has] reached a real nadir," Posner said [in an appearance last year]. "Probably only a couple of the justices, (Stephen) Breyer and (Ruth Bader) Ginsburg, are qualified. They're OK, they're not great."....

"Because American law is very confused, you can't avoid mistakes," Posner said. "I'm sure I've made plenty of mistakes, but if one is bothered by that, you can't do the job. If you take it too seriously and are too concerned that you're making mistakes, then it just becomes unbearable."
There's also this, about Posner's youth:
Born in New York, Posner grew up with a left-wing mother who had many radical friends, including a couple who adopted the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the executed Russian spies, according to a Tribune Magazine profile in 2000. Posner has said he once gave away his train set to the Rosenberg kids....

A Friday coincidence: 2 Comey stories break.

1. "Mueller Has Early Draft of Trump Letter Giving Reasons for Firing Comey" (NYT).

2. "Comey drafted Clinton exoneration before finishing investigation, GOP senators say" (CNN).

"A nurse says she was assaulted and illegally arrested by a Salt Lake City police detective for following a hospital policy that does not allow blood draws from unconscious patients."

"Footage from University Hospital and officer body cameras shows Detective Jeff Payne and nurse Alex Wubbels in a standoff over whether the policeman should be allowed to get a blood sample from a patient who had been injured in a July 26 collision in northern Utah that left another driver dead."

In other unbearably hard-to-watch police video news: "Officer to woman during traffic stop: 'We only kill black people, right?'"

"She didn't want to bother you. You were in New York. You were busy."

As I said back in 2005, that's my all-time favorite scene on "Curb Your Enthusiasm":
Any scene with Shelley Berman ascends to a new level of greatness. My all-time favorite scene on the show was the old one where Berman kept beating around the bush, not wanting to reveal to Larry that his (Larry's) mother had died. "She didn't want to bother you. You were busy."
Today, I'm sad to see that Shelley Berman has died: "Shelley Berman, Stand-Up Comic Who Skewered Modern Life, Dies at 92" (NYT).
Mr. Berman, one of the first comedians to have as much success on records as in person or on television, was in the vanguard of a movement that transformed the comedy monologue from a rapid-fire string of gags to something more subtle, more thoughtful and more personal....
The obituary groups Berman with Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce.
In 1959, Time magazine referred to this new breed as “sick” comics, and the term (which Mr. Berman hated) caught on. But they had little in common with one another besides a determination to remake stand-up comedy in their own image. Mr. Sahl was a wry political commentator; Mr. Bruce was a profane social satirist; Mr. Berman was a beleaguered observer of life’s frustrations and embarrassments.

Perched on a stool — unlike most stand-up comedians, he did his entire act sitting down — Mr. Berman focused on the little things. He talked about passionate kisses that miss the mark so that ‘‘you wind up with the tip of her nose in the corner of your mouth.” Or what to do when the person you are talking to accidentally spits in your face — do you wipe the spit off or make believe it didn’t happen?...

Like his fellow Chicago comedian Bob Newhart, Mr. Berman specialized in telephone monologues, in which the humor came from his reactions to the unheard voice on the other end of the line. (Mr. Berman often claimed that Mr. Newhart stole that idea from him. Mr. Newhart maintained that the idea did not originate with either of them, noting that comedians had been doing telephone monologues since at least the 1920s.)

In one classic routine, Mr. Berman, nursing a brutal hangover, listened with increasing horror as the host of the party he had attended the night before reminded him of the damage he had done: “How did I break a window? … Oh, I see. … Were you very fond of that cat?”
Here he is on "The Judy Garland Show" in a scene that seems to be an elaborately staged musical with 9 singing office workers but suddenly shifts. Listen for the audience reaction at 1:25 as the idea becomes a classic one-man telephone routine (which goes on insanely long):

What does "categorically" mean in "We categorically reject Wax’s claims"?

I'm trying to understand this open letter signed by 33 members of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. I've been avoiding writing about the op-ed cowritten by Penn lawprof Amy Wax because it aggravates me and I haven't been inclined to get into the details. I mean, I get this far...

... and what the hell? John Wayne in "The Searchers"?!

Is that "reinforc[ing] bourgeois values" — shooting the eyes out of a corpse of someone who believed that without eyes he'd "wander forever in the spirit world"?

That's as far as I get into the op-ed. Maybe I'll get back to it, but right now I just want to react to the open letter, which has one sentence that deals with the substance of what Professor Wax wrote. That sentence is: "We categorically reject Wax’s claims."

What are Wax's claims that they can be categorically rejected? As summarized in the open letter, the claims are:

1. "All cultures are not equal." That's Wax's prose, and I think it's intended to mean: Not all cultures are equal (as opposed to: there is no culture that is equal to any other culture).

2. "[V]arious social problems would be 'significantly reduce[d]' if 'the academics, media, and Hollywood' would stop the 'preening pretense of defending the downtrodden,' because that would lead to 'restoring the hegemony of the bourgeois culture.'"

3. (Quoting not the co-written op-ed, but Wax speaking in an interview) "'Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans,' because 'Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior.'"

I can understand feeling outraged and combative in response to these ideas, but how do you categorically reject them without saying more than "We categorically reject Wax’s claims"? There are no references to studies, no arguments at all. It's just a stark expression of hating these ideas — or fearing them. It feels so insubstantial, as if they're only saying we don't want to talk about this and we want to make you feel the same way. It's not very inspiring to people like me who feel bad about the op-ed and are looking for a way to talk about it. I admit that I don't want to talk about it, but the 33 lawprofs are indignantly proud of their complete refusal to talk about it.

Reasoned discourse is out the window. Expect a future in which everyone leans into the microphone and says "Wrong."

The interpretation of bananas.

I don't know whom to believe here — "Frat Retreat Ends Early after Students ‘Frightened’ by a Banana Peel" — but whether Ryan Swanson is lying or not when he says he put a banana peel in a tree because he couldn't find a garbage can, this is one hell of an abject nonapology:
I want to sincerely apologize for the events that took place this past weekend. Although unintentional, there is no excuse for the pain that was caused to members of our community. I want to thank my friends in the NPHC for their candid and constructive conversations that we have continued to have. I have much to learn and look forward to doing such and encourage all members of our university community to do the same. We must all keep in mind how our actions affect those around us differently.
Swanson says he has "much to learn" and, really, don't we all have an infinite amount to learn? Anything you do might be misunderstood by someone else, perhaps by someone who deserves empathy and perhaps by someone with powerful allies who will ruin your life if you don't anticipate how they will interpret something you say or do or even how people who hate you will claim to have interpreted something that really didn't confuse them at all.

And what about all the students who go to college for an education and get taught that their emotional stirrings — their fears about what something might mean — warrant attention and respect? Their misinterpretations count as real in the world that other people — including the once-privileged frat boy — must anticipate and guard against. Does that feel good enough or will it get old and, ultimately, just as insulting as the kind of old-fashioned expressions of racism of which the banana peel in the tree might have been reminiscent?

By the way, "How Did Slipping on a Banana Peel Become a Comedy Staple?"

The "skeeviness" of the 1990s "gave us the Trump Teens."

That's the puzzling teaser on the front page of the NYT right now:
Who the hell are the Trump teens?, I wondered long enough to decide to write this post. It's hard to get used to the expression "the teens" to refer to this decade we're in. The first two decades of the century have been this weird anomaly, interfering with our conventional style of talking about decades. It's messed with our minds.

Kenya must redo its election, the Kenyan Supreme Court says.

As the NYT reports, the court agreed with the side that lost the election that "the vote had been hacked and electronically manipulated to assure a victory for President Uhuru Kenyatta."
Most African courts are often under pressure from leaders, [said Dickson Omondi, a country director for the National Democratic Institute, a nonpartisan organization that supports democratic institutions and practices worldwide.], so “It’s a historic moment showing the fortitude and courage of the Kenyan judiciary.”...

Walter Mebane, a professor of statistics and political science at the University of Michigan who studies elections worldwide, volunteered to run the voting results through a computer model he developed to detect electoral fraud. Based on statistics only, and without knowledge of the intricacies of Kenyan politics, he and his team found patterns that showed widespread manipulation.

“It was unlike any data set I had ever seen,” he said. “Every single indicator came up signaling anomalies. It’s a huge red flag that something weird is going on.”

Washington Post, if you're going to put up a slideshow of America's favorite toy for each year, beginning with 1952...

... and you begin with Mr. Potato Head, you'd better show a photograph of Mr. Potato Head, as he was inflicted upon us in 1952 — that is, as a collection of eyes, noses, mouths, ears, etc. that had to be stuck in a real potato that you had to find on your own. No plastic potato came with the set until 1964. The whole fun of the thing was that you made a potato into something. And it's not that the company that made the thing wanted to switch to a plastic potato. That was an unfortunate consequence of government regulation:
In the 1960s, government regulations forced the Potato Head parts to be less sharp, leaving them unable to puncture vegetables easily. By 1964, the company was therefore forced to include a plastic potato "body" in its kit. 
Thus ruining the charm of the toy, unless you thought it was funny to put mouths for eyes and an eye for the mouth, in which case that fun wasn't ruined until the 70s:
In 1975, the main potato part of the toy doubled in size and the dimensions of its accessories were similarly increased. This was done mainly because of new toy child safety regulations that were introduced by the U.S. government. This change in size also increased the market to younger children, enabling them to play and attach the facial pieces easily. Hasbro also replaced the holes with flat slats, which made it impossible for users to put the face pieces and other body parts the wrong way around. 
But, as in many things, the 80s corrected for the 70s:
In the 1980s, Hasbro reduced the range of accessories for Mr. Potato Head to one set of parts. The company did, however, reintroduce round holes in the main potato body, and once again parts were able to go onto the toy in the wrong locations.
I know people care about Mr. Potato Head today because of the "Toy Story" movies, but that's no excuse for WaPo using a non-50s photograph to begin its historical slideshow. I notice that in the new Mr. Potato Head, the eyes are fused together into one piece... as if no one remembers that the point of the toy was sticking the parts in one by one. 

August 31, 2017


... smiles.

What's wrong with being problematic? — a second look at the proposed "Lord of the Flies" with an all-female cast.

I started the day with a post about the proposal, and my take was cynical: The filmmakers are enjoying the publicity generated by the predictable criticism in social media.

Now, I'm reading a NYT piece about the proposal, and I see this:
What remains to be seen is whether the new “Lord of the Flies” will offer largely a mirror image of the novel, subbing in girls without changing the central plot points and behavior of the characters, or if it will wrestle with how girls would approach their fate differently.

“It could be problematic if all they’re doing is switching out girls for boys and saying, ‘Well, girls would do this too,’” said Pamela Davis-Kean, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who studies children and families.

Though many differences between boys and girls tend to be overstated, boys do tend to be more physically aggressive, she said. Some of the novel’s scenes of physical violence probably wouldn’t align with how girls would settle their issues.... The depth of collaboration could be another departure, she said....
But why shouldn't the filmmakers do exactly what is problematic? Why take a classic story and feminize it by making the girls less physically aggressive and more collaborative in their problem solving? That would only be interesting if you searched for ways to make the girls more evil than the boys. If girls just do better... what's the story? It's not like a season of "Survivor" where they have an all-male and an all-female tribe struggling to survive on an island and we're invited to enjoy seeing who does better and who screws up.

I think the new film should pretty much track the book. The fact that it's "problematic" to make the boys into girls is what's different and not the same. It's like that recent theatrical experiment that took a real Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump debate and gave the Hillary role to a man and the Trump role to a woman, with the 2 actors copying every intonation and gesture from the original. It was emphatically not the same, nor was it simply implausible (because how could a man speak and act like Hillary and a woman speak and act like Trump?). It was a revelation. The "female Trump" wasn't the most typical woman, but we could experience her as a particular woman, and — even more important — we could witness our own reaction to a woman like that.

So I think the proposed "Lord of the Rings" could be highly enlightening. Lean into the problem. Do not try to feminize the parts. Do not infuse the story with handed-down notions about what women are like stereotypically (which would probably be infected with the usual pro-woman propaganda*). Just make the boys girls and let's see how we feel about it.

* William Golding, the author of "Lord of the Flies," dished up the conventional propaganda himself:
“If you land with a group of little boys, they are more like scaled-down society than a group of little girls would be. Don’t ask me why, and this is a terrible thing to say, because I’m going to be chased from hell to breakfast by all the women who talk about equality. This has nothing to do with equality at all. I mean, I think women are foolish to pretend they’re equal to men — they’re far superior and always have been. But one thing you cannot do with them is take a bunch of them and boil them down, so to speak, into a set of little girls who would then become a kind of image of civilization, of society.”
That quote appears in the linked NYT article and other discussions of this film project. Golding is saying quite a few things about women there, both explicitly and implicitly. (Implicitly, he's saying he doesn't want to be bothered dealing with women!) But I scoff at that old idea that women are "far superior" to men. Notice how Golding used that as an anti-equality argument. It's interesting to read that his mother was a suffragist. It was once conventional to tell women that they should not have the right to vote because it would lower them from their superior position.

"When I first came to this country, people never said, ‘Hey, this is how you need to cross the street.'"

Said De Anda Santana, who is "an ambassador for Share and Be Aware program from the Wisconsin Bike Federation. Share and Be Award... a statewide campaign that offers presentations and classes in English and Spanish about biking, driving and walking safely."
Wisconsin is facing a “pedestrian fatality epidemic,” said Jessica Wineberg, program director of Share and Be Aware. So far in 2017, there have been 43 pedestrian deaths in Wisconsin, significantly higher than the 27 that died by this point in 2016. And immigrants are at a higher risk of becoming crash victims in pedestrian and bike crashes, according to a 2012 study looking at New York neighborhoods, Wineberg said.

Why pick on Nutella?

Surprisingly, the WaPo commenters side with the neighbors.

WaPo headline "Oregon court: Couple must ‘debark’ dogs — cut their vocal cords — after neighbors complain."

Design Within Reach has lost its anal-retentive mind.

I love Design Within Reach. It simplifies everything. There is no clutter in the design or in the process of shopping for good design, and I aspire to the clutter-free, utterly simple beauty that has been its concept all these years.

But then, suddenly, I get the new catalogue, and it's all changed! Somebody must have decided that the simplicity was off-putting, sterile, too challenging, or — what? — insufficiently hygge.

Here's the main photo on the front page right now:

What's all that crap on the tables? I'm supposed to infer the existence of people? People with beverages. I appreciate that these glasses — even with ice cubes — are not dripping with the condensation that plagues ordinary humans who might feel challenged by the erstwhile crystal cleanness of DWR, but still. What chaos! And are those matches on and next to the white plate? Is there smoking going on? Where are these people going to put the pits from all those olives in that bowl? Why is there a plant pot on the books? And what are those books? "How to Decorate with Plants"?

I made up that book title. The topic How to Decorate with Plants plagued me back in the 1970s when I had the job (in marketing research) of writing code numbers on all the articles in an endless stream of magazines. There was a number for interior decoration and a number for plants, and we had to pick one, and then — having picked one — stick to the same code number when the topic came up again. Decorating with plants kept coming up. It turned out to be a big women's magazine topic circa 1975, but we kept forgetting which code number we'd assigned to that first decorating-with-plants article, and it wasn't easy digging up what we only vaguely remembered. Was it in House & Garden or House Beautiful or Better Homes and Gardens? Or was it in one of the women's magazines? Ladies Home Journal or Woman's Day or Family Circle or Good Housekeeping.... We had stacks of those magazines, real paper magazines, on actual shelves. Fortunately, we didn't have to search for the code for the original decorating with sheets article. Decorating with sheets was also a big topic of the time, but there was no code for sheets, because sheets weren't thought of back when the code numbers were devised in the 1940s or 50s. But in the 70s, when manufacturers kept coming up with new colorful patterns, magazine editors kept coming up with new ideas for how to use sheets — drape them over tables, reconfigure them into curtains, and (most importantly) staple them to walls. The decorating with sheets articles all got 1140 (or whatever the interior decoration code was). That made it easy, but I still had to look at that madness.

Do you see why I loved the old Design Within Reach catalog, the one without the clutter?

Let's do one more photo from the new DWR:

Madness! Pens on the chair. One pen is even uncapped. Backpack on the floor (as if DWR is pleading with us to believe that their furniture is compatible with the harboring of children). And charging a mobile phone! Have we ever before even seen an electrical outlet before in a DWR photograph? Here is an outlet with the wire stretched across in the way of getting to the chair. And the wire isn't white, which I think means that the phone is not an iPhone. The heresy is raging. Madness!

"If you want to know what .@politico thinks about the victims of #Harvey, here is the cartoon they just tweeted, then deleted."

Via Aaron Blake (at WaPo) who identifies 4 problems:

1. The "crassness" of making fun of people who are suffering.

2. The stark and negative stereotypes. (The "dismissive" attitude toward Christianity especially bothers Blake.)

3. The assumption that because it's Texas, people are conservative, when, in fact, Houston skews strongly Democratic.

4. The idea that "people who believe in smaller government and lower taxes believe everything should be privatized and that the government shouldn't be counted on to do anything."

Here's the second-highest-rated comment at WaPo:
I disagree completely. The cartoon epitomizes the essence of the rabid right-wingers ruling Texas, who insist that government IS the problem... until they need some government help. The hypocrisy of religious right fanatics like Cruz is so thick you could cut it with a spoon. Meanwhile, the PumpkinFührer in the White House hasn't drained the swamp, he's made it much, much worse. And remember, these are the same fanatics who insisted that President Obama was planning a forceful takeover of their State to remove all their guns. Personally, that would not have been a bad idea.
I wanted to call attention to that comment because we're talking about the idea of "pumpkin spice" Trump over in my post "After all the titillation and anguish of Houston, will the news media ever find its way back to the hate-Trump story?" I answer my question "no," based on signs that include the fact that the NYT has a front-page-teased article today on the early return of pumpkin spice products. In the comments, I said:
Suddenly, it's fall and everyone's into orange... and the President is orange! Just add cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves and everyone will love him.
That made me remember pumpkin spice Trump jokes from last year. In September, there was "Trump Launching New Pumpkin Spice Version of Himself to Woo White Women Voters." And, from Funny or Die: "Theory: Trump Rising in the Polls Because Voters Think He’s Pumpkin Spiced." 
With kids heading back to school and the first hints of an autumnal nip in the morning air, there is something about Trump’s rich cinnamon-orange skin, with its artificial hues of nutmeg, an ample yet airy frosting of whipped sugary golden-white strands sitting on top of it all, that just feels comfortable to certain folks as fall’s shorter, crisper days approach. It’s like a warm cup of cider. Or a comfy sweater. Or, yes, like delicious, delicious pumpkin spice. That’s right—Voters must think Donald Trump is pumpkin spiced.
And, most hilarious, on November 1st, just before the kick-in-the-head of Trump actually winning, "Ways Trump is like a Pumpkin Spice Latte":
1. Orange-ish
2. Liked by too many white people
3. Will hopefully go away after November

Did we just fly a bunch of fighter jets over North Korea?


I thought yes after a first look at the news this morning, but the answer is no.

Here's the headline at CNN: "US fighter jets stage mock bombing drill over Korean Peninsula."

Text: "Two days after North Korea flew a missile over Japan, the United States and South Korea staged their own show of force with state-of-the-art stealth fighters Thursday. Four US F-35B fighter jets joined two US B-1B bombers and four South Korean F-15 fighter jets in the joint US-South Korean flyover of the Korean Peninsula, an official with the South Korean air force told CNN...."

"Korean Peninsula" — in other words: South Korea.

After all the titillation and anguish of Houston, will the news media ever find its way back to the hate-Trump story?

Trump is insane, he's working for the Russians, he's got his finger on the button, he's a racist. Remember the good old days? Before Hurricane Harvey barged in and demanded attention? Nature. Reality. What a distraction! Blowing away months of hard work! The hate-Trump story needed relentless beating into our heads until this flood rushed in and swept the bête noire down a storm sewer.

But can the media ever get back to normal? I mean the "normal" of everything's abnormal with Trump in the White House.

Maybe the people don't want the President relentlessly kicked around when he might have something to do with helping all the people struggling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey? Maybe people won't tune in to hear descriptions of problems that don't show up in vivid pictures with crying mothers and soaking-wet puppy dogs. Maybe we won't sit still to hear about scary, burdensome problems that need to be described in complicated words and that can instantly evaporate if we just stop believing they exist.

I'm seeing signs that the answer to my question — will the news media ever find its way back to the hate-Trump story? — is no.

Sign #1. This is a story on the front page of "Pumpkin Spice Glut Arrives Earlier Than Ever," by Tiffany Hsu:
Think Christmas creep, but orange: A slew of pumpkin-flavored products inspired by fall are turning up earlier each year, arriving in July and August as a harbinger of a season that this year doesn’t officially begin until Sept. 22.

And there are stirrings of a pumpkin spice pushback among many consumers who say they aren’t ready for a shift from bikinis to beanies.
From bikinis to beanies... Is that the shift you make in the fall? Off with the bikini, on with the... beanie! We're not just into fashion. We're into tiny, cutesy fashion. Bikinis-n-beanies. Beanies! And the tiny, cutesy problem is: the return of pumpkin spice getting into everything.

Sign #2. The NYT has a story on how young people coming to New York City do not go to the traditional tourist attractions but to things they've seen as backdrops in other people's Instagram pictures. They want to Instagram from the same place, like these pink doors to the restaurant Sel Rrose and the candy display at Metrograph. The tiny, cutesy problem is that the kids only drop by to get a photograph and don't experience what the business is trying to sell, such as candy and other food.

Sign #3. Melania's shoes. "Melania Trump, Off to Texas, Finds Herself on Thin Heels" — that's the "most-viewed" story at the NYT right now. M's stiletto's symbolize where everyone wants to go if we ever wade out of that floodwater. It's on to fashion, fashion, fashion. What does it mean?! Well, isn't there some chance that the shoes are a bridge back from the flood to Trump-hating? She was so out of touch! What a symbol! She doesn't care! No empathy! Trump lacks empathy! He's rich and narcissistic and crazy as exemplified by the shoes on that wife he took to Texas. But I don't think that will get us back to good, old-fashioned Trump hating. I think it showed we were maxing out on trouble and ready to contemplate the familiar, miniature, lightweight-feminism problem of women's shoes:

Now, let's put on our sneakers 'n' beanies and sip on a Pumpkin Spice Java Chip Frappuccino and position ourselves in front of a pink door so the people of Instagram can know we are happy.

Fly buzz.

How to go viral with the boring news that you're doing a remake of the old teacher-made-me-read-it book "Lord of the Flies"? Announce that you're going with an all-female cast.

And the once-orderly internet dissolves into chaos. A top-notch feminist (Roxane Gay) tweets: "the plot of that book wouldn't happen with all women."

Now, you've got something — a raging debate about whether a couple dozen girls would attempt to establish order and then descend into brutality the way the (fictional) boys did.

I clicked through to Roxane Gay's twitter feed and was amused to see that the tweet she's got "pinned" at the top (from 2015) is: "It's fucking bullshit that Jack dies. There is plenty of room on that door. I am going to bed." Now, that's a movie debate. I don't know how long we can talk about what the "Lord of the Flies" — Lady of the Flies? — girls are going to do on their island and how convincingly they're going to be cruel to each other, but the old question of why Rose hogged the door in "Titanic" will go on forever.

August 30, 2017

Basil and baseball.


The Brewers had a day game, and Meade had 4 shopping bags full of newly harvested basil that that he'd grown from seed. Spoiler alert. The Brewers beat the Cardinals 6-5, and the leaves and stems tied 2-2. With 2 shopping bags full of stems lined up for a trip to the the compost bin, we've got 2 shopping bags full of the finest basil leaves. Much of that is going to have to get stuffed into the blender with olive oil, etc., for pesto. There's also Caprese salad. Other ideas?

50 years ago today: The Senate confirms the nomination of Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court.

"On June 13, 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to the Supreme Court...  Marshall was confirmed as an Associate Justice by a Senate vote of 69–11 on August 30, 1967. He was the 96th person to hold the position, and the first African American."

37 Democrats and 32 Republicans voted for Marshall. 10 of the 11 negative votes were Democrats. The other negative was Strom Thurmond. One of the negative votes came from Senator Sam Ervin, who spoke for over an hour. Here's how the NYT put it:
And here's how the front page looked:

At the Railbridge Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

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"Which Statues Need to Come Down?... The line between history's heroes and villains is hard to draw. Where would you put it?"

Nicely designed interactive presentation at the NYT.

"The main takeaway message is that use of cannabis can result in subtle changes in the way you move."

Said the author of a study quoted in "Marijuana users WALK differently: Study shows how the drug affects users' elbows, shoulders and knees" in The Daily Mail, which had us laughing over the line "A marijuana user's knee reaches a greater speed when they walk than a non-user's knee does while walking."

Meanwhile: "The study’s authors are calling for more research that can determine exactly how marijuana affects people's movements."

I think more research is needed into whether we'd find this story even funnier if we were high.

"Nobody's ever seen anything this long, and nobody's ever seen this much water...."

"A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against The New York Times..."

"... concluding that she had failed to show that the Times had defamed her in a June staff editorial," Politico reports.
Judge Jed S. Rakoff... reasoned that the statements in the Times piece were sufficiently ambiguous, and thus did not qualify as “provably false,” and said there is a lack of evidence that the Times had written the story with “actual malice.”

Palin’s complaint did not identify an individual who might have acted that way, he said, and Bennett’s behavior was “much more plausibly consistent with making an unintended mistake and then correcting it than with acting with actual malice.”
Actual malice, the standard Palin (as a public figure) needed to ascribe to the NYT, means "with knowledge it was false or with reckless disregard of its falsity." Freedom of speech. It gives even the NYT the right to be sloppy and embarrassing in a completely politically slanted way.

How will you exercise your freedom today?

"Woman cradles and protects child. Man carries and protects both. This is how it ought to be, despite what your gender studies professor says."

A tweet with that Harvey photo (which I'm sure you've seen) inspires (insufficiently) comic tweets.

"'We ain’t doing no damn good right here,' said Utesch. Brad wondered if the homeowners suspected they were looters."

"They passed other boaters with similar experiences. The few homeowners who were evacuating from this corner of Houston preferred to do so in the back of huge trucks. Back on the highway the two men found Wayne and Juergen and loaded their boats back on to the pickup. 'Well, we tried,' said Brad, dejected. 'The effort and desire were there, the results weren’t,' said Utesch."

From "'We ain’t doing no damn good': volunteer rescuers struggle in Houston/The ‘Cajun navy’ force of helpers from Louisiana are hitting an unexpected problem in the Harvey-flooded city – residents declining to evacuate" in The Guardian.

Shoe shaming.

"As the first lady departed to see storm fallout in Texas, Twitter erupted with critiques of her shoe choice" (Politico).

Later, in Texas, she wore sneakers. The stilettos were only seen in her walk across the White House lawn. (But have you ever tried walking in stilettos on lawn? It doesn't work. You can't put any weight on the heel and must, essentially, tiptoe.)

ADDED: In the photograph at the link, the grass makes it hard to see the shoes. Here's another photograph, so you can see what people got overexcited about (and also see the sneakers, which look great).

"Fox News skews very male… I always tend to think of her as more of a guy’s girl than a girl’s girl… It’s extremely challenging, and I’m not sure Megyn’s personality really connects with women."

Said an unnamed "a veteran daytime television impresario," quoted in NBC Insiders: "‘Total Panic’ Over Megyn Kelly’s Morning Show/Megyn Kelly begins her 9 a.m. NBC show in four weeks’ time. NBC colleagues are nervous that the poor showing of her Sunday night current-affairs show will follow her to ‘Today,'" by Lloyd Grove at Daily Beast.

Other comments from people who are named in the article with names too boring for me to trouble you with:

“The Sunday show laid such an egg that any claims that she had automatic star power, to get people in the door to see what she was doing, have been disavowed."

"[T]he Today show is a different format with a very strong underlying brand... She should be able to excel there even if the Sunday show was perceived as compromised."

And back to the unnamed impresario:

"She has the safety net of being in the Today show cocoon.... She’s going to have to adapt to the live audience, she will have to be more entertaining, and that will be a learning curve for her. The ultimate question is whether she connects with women in daytime."

Women and men. Gender politics. Remember where this veering away from Fox began for Megyn, just a little over 2 years ago:

August 29, 2017

At the Blue Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

Harvey's dogs, Katrina's dogs.

We're seeing lots of people + dogs rescues. Here's a NYT article "Saving Pets Is Paramount for Many Fleeing Tropical Storm Harvey."

But there's no reminder of how different things were with Katrina in 2005. Here's an article in Buzzfeed from a few years ago, "How Hurricane Katrina Turned Pets Into People/After Katrina, animal rescuers saved thousands of New Orleans' cats and dogs — and in the process, elevated the status of pets in the eyes of the law":

"To the fashion world’s apparent dismay, there was no level of sheerness a publicity-hungry celeb-gal would turn down."

"We see the above ensemble as a throwing down of the gauntlet by the fashion world, as if to say, 'You want sheer dresses ad infinitum, ladies? Fine. We’re gonna start making HIDEOUSLY UGLY jockstrap inspired underwear for you to sport in public.'"

"What we wear should not matter: Ideas, arguments, theories, and thought are the stuff in which academics trade."

"But our institutions are riven by power, and teaching and research are themselves underwritten by claims to authority and expertise. No matter how much we know, we still feel the need to show that we know it to solidify our status as bona fide intellectuals, deserving of deference and respect. One of the ways we demonstrate our possession of knowledge is in what we wear — an age-old tradition beginning with Plato orating in a toga. Only now we stroke manicured beards in thought, carry bulging book bags to demonstrate commitment, and wield Moleskine notebooks when inspiration strikes."

From "What We Wear in the Underfunded University," by Shahidha Bari in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

My first question is: Plato orated in a toga?

The toga is the distinctive garment of ancient Rome (not Greece). And here's something interesting about it, from "SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome" (by Mary Beard*):
Everyday Roman clothing – tunics, cloaks and even occasionally trousers – was much more varied and colourful than this.** Togas, however, were the formal, national dress: Romans could define themselves as the gens togata, ‘the race that wears the toga’, while some contemporary outsiders occasionally laughed at this strange, cumbersome garment. And togas were white, with the addition of a purple border for anyone who held public office. In fact, the modern word ‘candidate’ derives from the Latin candidatus, which means ‘whitened’ and refers to the specially whitened togas that Romans wore during election campaigns, to impress the voters. In a world where status needed to be on show, the niceties of dress went even further: there was also a broad purple stripe on senators’ tunics, worn beneath the toga, and a slightly narrower one if you were the next rank down in Roman society, an ‘equestrian’ or ‘knight’, and special shoes for both ranks.
So the modern word ‘candidate’ derives from the Latin candidatus, which means ‘whitened’.... Perhaps we should eschew the whiteness-infected word "candidate."

* Speaking of "beards in thought."

** "This" refers to Cesare Maccari's 1888 painting of something that happened in 63 BC (Cicero denounced Catiline to the Roman Senate):

"Can Trump Show A Nation He Cares?"

Asks NPR, as Trump goes to Texas.
"President Trump is doing the right thing by going to Texas," said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who worked for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign. "Nothing can replace seeing a disaster firsthand.... Whenever a president visits a disaster site or meets with victims of a tragedy, it's important that he not make the visit about him... "

Kevin Madden, a former senior adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns, [said] ... "For Trump, the key here will be blocking out distractions and keeping his words and deeds squarely focused on the rescue missions, the humanitarian relief and economic recovery that needs to take place. It can't be about him or taking credit...."...

"Those remarks should be inclusive, healing and aspirational in terms of focus on the future," GOP strategist Phil Musser said. But Trump also has to show "command of the situation — the operational tick-tock — that demonstrates that the leader of the government is in charge, focused on the challenge and resolving it as quickly as possible, and on top of things...."

"For years, engineers have warned that Houston was a flood disaster in the making. Why didn't somebody do something?"

Asks the L.A. Times. Excerpt:
The storm was unprecedented, but the city has been deceiving itself for decades about its vulnerability to flooding, said Robert Bea, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and UC Berkeley emeritus civil engineering professor who has studied hurricane risks along the Gulf Coast.

The city’s flood system is supposed to protect the public from a 100-year storm, but Bea calls that “a 100-year lie” because it is based on a rainfall total of 13 inches in 24 hours.

“That has happened more than eight times in the last 27 years,” Bea said. “It is wrong on two counts. It isn’t accurate about the past risk and it doesn’t reflect what will happen in the next 100 years.”

A 7-year-old girl — kidnapped, strangled, and thrown off a bridge — swims to shore and survives.

Fortunately, there's a lady in Worcester, Massachusetts who answers the door at 4 a.m., because a little girl in soaking wet pajamas was knocking.

"Some smartphone-carrying millennials and Gen Zers are so used to texting upon arrival that the sound of a ringing doorbell freaks them out; ‘it’s terrifying.'"

That's the second half of a headline at the Wall Street Journal (where I got in without a subscription). I thought the millennials-are-weird theme was off, because I, an oldie, have the same opinion of doorbells. Who just comes to the door and rings? I won't know, because I don't answer. I assume it's people selling something, pushing religion, or doing politics.
Some young people say they shun the doorbell simply because they see no need for it. “It’s like antiquated, knocking on doors is so far back that it predates any experience people my age have ever had,” says Drake Rehfeld, a junior at the University of Southern California....
By the way, if doorbells come to mean an outsider — a nonfriend — has arrived in person, and people don't answer the door, it will become impossible to do that kind of politics that we've always heard is so important: going door-to-door. And what will happen to the religions that make a big practice out of going door-to-door? And the schoolkids that drum up cash by selling bad popcorn and candy?


Home health care worker "is absolutely the bottom rung on the ladder" of jobs.

Here's a NYT about why and what might be done about it. It's easy to understand why, but the suggestions about what might be done are not encouraging. It's hard to get higher pay for work that is what healthy people do for themselves and what strong, traditional families have done for each other.

The article stresses that these jobs are being done by immigrant women, but more immigration is not discussed as a solution. I think that's because the idea is about making the job a good job that more people would want to do. If it were an article about immigration, I suppose it would get counted as one of those jobs Americans won't do.

August 28, 2017

On the Lower Yahara River Trail.


Here's a look at our new $8-million, 2.5-mile trail that connects McFarland (population 8,000) to Madison:


Talk about anything you want in the comments.

"A split between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over whether the metropolis should have been evacuated..."

"... is raising questions about officials’ response to damaging floodwaters as a catastrophe continues to engulf the region. Mr. Turner, a Democrat, and other local officials urged residents to stay in their homes as Hurricane Harvey... approached Houston on Friday. But at a Friday news conference, Gov. Abbott, a Republican, suggested otherwise. 'Even if an evacuation order hasn’t been issued by your local official, if you’re in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating.'... Mr. Turner defended his decision on Sunday, saying it would have been foolish to evacuate 6.5 million people from Houston and surrounding areas without knowing the course of the storm."

The WSJ reports in an article that seems to be outside the paywall.

"Amazon Cuts Whole Foods Prices as Much as 43% on First Day."

Bloomberg reports.

The item that's 43% cheaper is the very thing I bought last Friday: Organic Fuji apples. From $3.49 a pound to $1.99 a pound.

At the Yahara Café...


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"Hunger is gnawing at Venezuela, where a government that claims to rule for the poorest has left most of its 31 million people short of food..."

"... many desperately so. As night falls over Caracas, and most of the city’s residents lock their doors against its ever more violent streets, Adriana Velásquez gets ready for work, heading out into an uncertain darkness as she has done since hunger forced her into the only job she could find at 14. She was introduced to her brothel madam by a friend more than two years ago after her mother, a single parent, was fired and the two ran out of food. 'It was really hard, but we were going to bed without eating,' said the teenager...."

From "Hunger eats away at Venezuela’s soul as its people struggle to survive/The Maduro regime denies its once oil-rich country is in crisis. But on the streets the desperation cannot be hidden" in The Guardian.

"This was somebody taking a shortcut off the mountain. And there are no shortcuts coming off that mountain. There is only one way."

"The problem with any shortcut is that they all end up at the top of a 600-foot cliff,” he said. “You cannot see it from the top of the mountain looking down. You cannot see how dangerous it is."

From a Denver Post article about the 5th death in 2 months on Capitol Peak — in what seems to be "an increasing flow of people compelled to bag 'fourteeners'... a heavily promoted recreational pursuit that draws inexperienced hikers to Colorado’s high country."

"People should be in the mountains enjoying them, not turning it into some kind of competition where people are ‘bagging’ 14ers."

In a true competition, there are 2 sides. People are bagging mountains and mountains are bagging people.

"Black-clad antifa attack peaceful right wing demonstrators in Berkeley."

That's a WaPo headline. Surprised?
Their faces hidden behind black bandannas and hoodies, about a 100 anarchists and antifa — “anti-fascist” — barreled into a protest Sunday afternoon in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.

Jumping over plastic and concrete barriers, the group melted into a larger crowd of around 2,000 that had marched peacefully throughout the sunny afternoon for a “Rally Against Hate” gathering.
By paragraph 3, the bad people disappear into an abstraction:
Shortly after, violence began to flare. 
The passive voice begins to flare:
A pepper-spray wielding Trump supporter was smacked to the ground with homemade shields. Another was attacked by five black-clad antifas, each windmilling kicks and punches into a man desperately trying to protect himself....
By the way the police gave way to "antifa protesters — armed with sticks and shields, and clad in shin pads and gloves," and the Berkeley police chief, Andrew Greenwood, offered a lame defense: “No need for a confrontation over a grass patch.”

"In Houston, reservoirs swollen by rain from Hurricane Harvey were opened early Monday, a move that was expected to flood more homes..."

"... but one that the Army Corps of Engineers says is needed to limit the scope of the disaster that's threatening lives and property in Texas," NPR reports.
"If we don't begin releasing now, the volume of uncontrolled water around the dams will be higher and have a greater impact on the surrounding communities," said Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District. He warned residents to stay vigilant as water levels rise....

"It's going to be better to release the water through the gates directly into Buffalo Bayou as opposed to letting it go around the end and through additional neighborhoods and ultimately into the bayou," he said.
Government choices, aiming the flow of the floodwater.

I looked through 52 photographs — a whole deck of cards — of the fashion at last night's VMA's.

Maybe I did it so you don't have to, or maybe you'll go through — here — and challenge my ratings:

1. Miley Cyrus
2. Lizzo
3. Nicki Minaj
4. Demi Lovato

Remember, it's the VMAs, not the Oscars. There's supposed to me some weirdness and playfulness in the glamour.

I'd never heard of Lizzo before, but her strange getup got me to look at her for a long time, to notice a very beautiful face, and to look up her music and listen to this:

August 27, 2017

On the Lower Yahara Trail...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

And please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal if you've got some shopping to do.

Sandhill cranes on the Lower Yahara River Trail.

Look closely and listen for the sound.

The Lower Yahara River Trail just opened today, and it's kind of a big deal around here.

Despair and jot down notes.

It's another monument:


Just something I saw over in Indianapolis....

"Caligula, a narcissist and megalomaniac, became increasingly unhinged."

"He supposedly rolled around on a huge pile of gold coins, and he engaged in conversations with the moon, which he would invite into his bed. He replaced the heads of some statues of gods with his own head, and he occasionally appeared in public dressed as a god. He was referred to as a god in certain circumstances, and he set up a temple where he could be worshiped."

That's Nicholas Kristof in the NYT in "There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader." I think he's trying to make us think of an American president. Obama?

"Things like chanting 'death to America,' burning effigies of Uncle Sam and painting murals of Lady Liberty with a skull as a face lost their impact long ago..."

"... particularly among younger Iranians. Forced to adapt or fizzle out, Iran’s propaganda machine has sought to embrace the latest trends and technologies to try to tailor messages to the sensibilities of a new generation."

The NYT examines Iran's new propaganda.


Sample line: "Silence is for statues." (Man, everybody hates statues.)

And look at this:

I got chills when he caught the flag at 4:40, so I'm judging this video to be very effective.

"Do We All See the Man Holding an iPhone in This 1937 Painting?"

"So, what is it?"

"More and more, malls are empty wastelands. And yet some things stay constant..."

"... though the cast of characters staring at his underwear change, the sense of sexual panic that Curtis can barely understand is still overpowering, and will last, dreamlike, forever."

"The dollhouse is one in a series of model whodunits used to train generations of police detectives in crime scene investigation."

"Using a tiny paintbrush, Ariel O’Connor carefully applied a compound to preserve the charred wall of a dollhouse featuring a grisly scene: the skull of a body lying in a bed inside peers out, beseeching the viewer to determine whether this was murder.... It is being cleaned, repaired and stabilized to be showcased at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery beginning in October. It is the first time the collection, built about 70 years ago, will be on public display.... [Frances Glessner] Lee was a wealthy Chicago heiress who helped establish a forensic pathology program at Harvard University, earning her the title 'godmother of forensic science.' She meticulously built the dollhouses — with the help of a carpenter beginning in the 1940s to portray homicides, suicides, and accidental and inexplicable deaths...."

A Baltimore Sun article about an upcoming Smithsonian exhibition, "Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death."

More backyard biking.

This is quite a different approach than what Meade did in our backyard — Meade prioritized the visual beauty of the plantings — but the yard is small like ours:

Now, if you have a bigger backyard...

"Madison do-gooders haggled over shootings police stopped."

Writes Chris Rickert in The Wisconsin State Journal.
Madison’s mayor and City Council spent valuable time this spring and summer feuding among themselves and with local activists over how to respond, ahem, quickly to a rash of shootings.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval on Aug. 9 announced plans to round up those suspected in the violence and two weeks later announced that the shootings had largely stopped — at least for now....

Meanwhile, the latest incarnation of Madison’s softer-side approach to alleviating violence — a 15-point-plan by a group called the Focused Interruption Coalition — is just getting underway, more than a year after it was proposed...

I have no idea whether the people targeted for this kind of non-law-enforcement attention have enough better angels left for the attention to make any difference. These are people, after all, who apparently haven’t been helped in any meaningful way by any of the millions in donated and taxpayer dollars spent every year on welfare, community development and educational programs....
I got there through David Blaska, who writes "Welcome to the dark side, Chris Rickert."
[Rickert] is throwing off the Madison liberal torpor. Renouncing the creed of collectivism. Escaping the Cult of Victimhood.... Brother Rickert, you will be called a racist. Comes with the territory.... Yes, Chris Rickert, you are ruined in Madison.
Blaska observes that the on-line headline — my post title — does not appear in the print version. There, it's — incredibly — "Peer support, policing not either-or."

"As an Italian who was born and raised in Bari, I can assure you that the influx of economic refugees is now coming to an end in Italy. Italians have had it."

"If you look at the general welfare roles in Bari and throughout Italy; or just observe what is happening on the Streets, refugees from North Africa and the Middle East simply refuse to work, or go back to their country of origin when their paperwork expires in Italy. Italy has a very generous social welfare State that is being financially drained by these refugees. Italians are paying into the system, but it is the refugees who are benefitting at the expense of elderly, sick, and poor Italians who need the assistance, and have paid into the system their entire lives. It is not fair, just, or appropriate to continue this practice of accepting primarily economic refugees who do nothing but use the social welfare State of Italy for their own personal needs and financial interests. The free ride is over, and Italians are very happy about it."

The top-rated comment on a Washington Post article titled "In once-welcoming Italy, the tide turns against migrants."

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned baseball nicknames like Dizzy, Dazzy, Daffy, Ducky and Sparky?

Asks Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald on the occasion of "Players Weekend," when the MLB players are wearing uniforms with nicknames on their backs. Most of the nicknames today are "just a lengthening or a shortening of a player's name, much the way it's done in hockey." Miles, who writes about the Chicago Cubs, isn't too excited about calling Anthony Rizzo "Riz," John Lackey "Lack," and Pedro Strop "Stropie."
But I loved the multilayered nicknames of yore, such as the... Wild Horse of the Osage, the sub-nickname of Pepper Martin, whose given name was Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin, a pretty cool given name at that for a mainstay of the St. Louis Cardinals Gashouse Gang.
So, the whole team can have a nickname.
Better yet were the nicknames that had you looking up the players' real names, in the Baseball Encyclopedia back in the day or on Baseball Reference today. Dizzy, Dazzy, Daffy, Ducky and Sparky were Jerome, Charles, Paul, Joe and George, respectively....
Today, there's Scooter Gennett (the former Brewer, who's now a Red). For Players Weekend, Scooter wore his real name, Ryan.

Here's Matt Mueller at On Milwaukee, ranking all 39 of the Brewers nicknames. He too is not pleased with the names that are simple variations on the original name, like "Webby" for Tyler Webb. (#38.) Take it one more level, Webby. At least get to "Duckfoot." Mueller gives #8 place to Brett Phillips, for "Maverick":
The reason why Brett "Maverick" Phillips is an awesome nickname is because IT'S NOT A NICKNAME. "Maverick" is Brett Phillips' actual middle name. Those parents knew what they were doing. I hope he has a sibling with Iceman for a middle name....