September 23, 2017

"Student survives three days in a cave after college spelunking group leaves him behind."

"The Indiana University student [Lukas Cavar (luckless caver?)] had been exploring Sullivan Cave, about 10 miles south of his school in Bloomington, Ind., on Sunday with other members of the Caving Club, a campus extracurricular group that promotes 'responsible caving practices with opportunities to visit caves around the area.' Over several hours, Cavar got separated from the group — and then left behind in the cave after the other the club members exited and padlocked the entrance gate.... On Sunday, after he realized he had been forgotten by the group, Cavar spent hours screaming out of the cave’s locked entrance — about a 1½-by-3-foot hole in the ground, surrounded by concrete with metal bars welded into place — in the hopes that someone would hear him from a nearby road. No one did.... He used the energy bar wrappers to collect moisture and the water bottles to collect rainfall and puddled cave water. Cavar also licked the cave’s damp walls to quench his thirst. Hunger drove him to consider foraging for cave crickets, although he didn’t eat any of the small insects.... His friends noticed that he missed physics class Monday, which was unlike him, they said. When he didn’t show up Tuesday and never went to work that day, they knew something was wrong..... When Norrell and other friends couldn’t find Cavar around campus, they contacted the Caving Club, and that’s when they realized that he might still be in the cave...."

WaPo reports.

Glad he survived, but what an incredible screwup! How does something like that happen? How many people were in the group? How do you separate yourself from the group and not remain aware that they are leaving a place that has a 1½-by-3-foot exit hole with a lockable gate on it? How does the group not take care to count that everyone's out before locking the gate? What kind of kind of "caving club" is this? And how sad to have friends who not only lock you in a cave but only notice your absence when you fail to show up for physics class and only think of trying to help you after you miss that class twice.

Milestone passes unnoticed.

This is the 50,050th post on this blog. That means that there was some post, one day this week, that was the 50,000th post. I'd been planning to celebrate that milestone, and not only did it slip by me, it took 50 additional post before I noticed that it had been passed. It's unlikely that I'll make it all the way to 100,000, so there's no rounder number that's I can look forward to. I can only look back and wonder why I didn't see it approaching and slow down for the experience.

Ah, I've counted back. The big 50-thousandth post was: "Does Trump have a sense of humor?" That's funny enough — just another inconsequential ripple on the face of the blogosphere.

At the Cool Blue Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

That photo shows Lake Mendota at about 8 a.m. this morning (when I took my long walk to avoid the heat).

Please consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!"

Tweets Trump.

That's the basketball + Trump news. In football + Trump news, there's: "NFL Stars Erupt In Anger Over Donald Trump’s ‘Son Of A Bitch’ Speech":
During what was supposed to be a stump speech for Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), Trump drifted away from campaigning to ask members of the crowd if they’d “love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired?’”
Here's the video:

ADDED: On a fashion note, what's up with the peppermint candy necktie?

Trump approval improving.

The Real Clear Politics average:

Why do you think the polls are improving? Check all the apply: free polls

"Saudi Arabia accidentally prints textbook showing Yoda sitting next to the king."

The Telegraph reports.

"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday scrapped a key part of government policy on campus sexual assault..."

"... saying she was giving colleges more freedom to balance the rights of accused students with the need to crack down on serious misconduct," the NYT reports.
The move, which involved rescinding two sets of guidelines several years old, was part of one of the fiercest battles in higher education today, over whether the Obama administration, in trying to get colleges to take sexual assault more seriously, had gone too far and created a system that treated the accused unfairly.

The most controversial portion of the Obama-era guidelines had demanded colleges use the lowest standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence,” in deciding whether a student is responsible for sexual assault, a verdict that can lead to discipline and even expulsion. On Friday, the Education Department said colleges were free to abandon that standard and raise it to a higher standard known as “clear and convincing evidence.”

September 22, 2017

At the Garden-Hose-Rainbows Café...


... you can pursue your heart's delight or spritz on somebody else's.

And another thing to do is shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Bill Clinton wrote a novel?

The headline at EW — and linked at Drudge — is "Bill Clinton's first novel to become a Showtime TV series in major deal."

But I guess it depends on what the meaning of writing a novel is:
The former president and bestselling author James Patterson have selected Showtime to adapt their upcoming thriller, The President Is Missing.
Is the title a clue to who wrote the novel?
The novel, set to be published in 2018, tells the story of a sitting U.S. president’s mysterious disappearance with the level of detail that only someone who has held the highest office can know.
So Clinton at least told Patterson some details. Am I supposed to know of Patterson? I had to look up his Wikipedia page. It says:
Patterson has written 147 novels since 1976. He has had 114 New York Times bestselling novels, and holds The New York Times record for most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, a total of 67, which is also a Guinness World Record. His novels account for one in 17 of all hardcover novels sold in the United States; in recent years his novels have sold more copies than those of Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dan Brown combined. His books have sold approximately 305 million copies worldwide.
I guess it's well established that this Patterson character can crank out a book. Clinton aligns with him to feed him some supposedly special details of life as a President or (even more conveniently) to allow the PR to say he did, and it's no surprise studios and networks vie for the privilege of throwing money at them.
“Bringing The President Is Missing to Showtime is a coup of the highest order,” said Showtime president and CEO David Nevins. “The pairing of President Clinton with fiction’s most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network.”
A kinetic experience lubricated with months of drool? Sounds delicious. 

"Senator John McCain of Arizona announced on Friday that he would oppose the latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act..."

"... leaving Republican leaders with little hope of succeeding in their last-ditch attempt to dismantle the health law" (NYT).

So Lindsey Graham’s being his best friend was not enough.

"Imagine there’s a country somewhere in the world where the legal system works like this..."

"... the judge sits there, bangs his gavel, and declares: ‘The defendant will now rise!'... 'The court finds you guilty of armed robbery, and hereby sentences you to thyroid cancer.’ Or, let’s say, a panel of three judges finds you guilty of rape and sentences you to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Or they say this: ‘The court is informed that the prosecution has entered a plea bargain with the defense, and so instead of that German dude, Alzheimer, the defendant will only undergo a stroke. And for tampering with evidence he’ll get an irritable bowel.'"

From "A Horse Walks into a Bar: A novel," by David Grossman.

Yes, I read another novel! I've read 2 novels this month, very strange for me. I usually read nonfiction books. I read the other novel for reasons described in this post, and I guess it must have stimulated a taste for fiction.

"France threatens to skip 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea over security concerns."

The L.A. Times reports.
Other countries — including the U.S., Japan and China — have insisted their teams are continuing to prepare for Pyeongchang.... Pyeongchang lies in mountainous terrain just south of the demilitarized zone. Olympic leaders have said only that they are monitoring the situation on the Korean Peninsula, giving no indications that the Olympics might be postponed or moved to another location.
A comment at the link: "I'm not visiting Paris because I have the same concerns."

"Life Lynn DeKlyen, baby whose mother chose giving birth over chemo, has died."

"The infant's death was announced Thursday on the couple's Facebook page" (Chicago Tribune).
"It is with great sadness and a absolutely broken heart that I tell you Life Lynn passed away last night," the post read. "Carrie is now rocking her baby girl. I have no explanation of why this happened, but I do know Jesus loves us and someday we will know why. The grief we feel is almost unbearable, please be praying for our family."...

Life was delivered by Caesarean section as Carrie DeKylen was dying.

"That's what she wanted," Nick said earlier this month. "We love the Lord. We're pro-life. We believe that God gave us this baby."

Ridiculous WaPo headline: "Tiffany Trump may be schooled by her dad’s nemesis, Sally Yates — a new lecturer at Georgetown Law."

"Law school just got a bit more awkward for first daughter Tiffany Trump: Georgetown Law just announced that its newest guest lecturer is Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general her dad very publicly fired after she refused to defend his controversial travel ban."

1. As the top-rated comment over there says:
I really doubt that Sally Yates will be teaching Tiffany Trump.... First year courses tend to be taught by tenured professors, not lecturers. Lecturers come in and teach one course -- usually very specific to their area of expertise. These are upper level courses. Law students choose their upper level courses, and they know who teaches those courses when they make their selections.

So if Tiffany Trump were to end up in Yates's course as an upper level, it would be because she wanted to be in it. Also, skipping over the whole blind grading thing, Yates is a professional, she's not going to treat a student differently because of who her father is.
2. The verb "to school" seems to be used in the slang sense of "To defeat or put down decisively, especially in a humiliating manner." Here's an Urban Dictionary definition:
Being taught the proper way to preform an action, via extreme ownage and embarrasment. This requires the schooler, who is always of such a high level of skill that the schoolee has no chance of saving his reputation, to utterly dominate and show no remorse. If remorse is shown, it is done in a cool and laid-back way, as in to say "Your not even worth the effort of my pinkie finger", which ironically is just as brutal as an all-out ownage.
"Ownage" is "The act or state of perpetrating fierce and unholy domination against another, typically in a videogame setting, resulting in shame and embarassment for the victim and his/her family until the end of time."

"Group of 45 men dressed like Magnum, P.I. kicked out of Detroit Tigers game."

The LA Times reports:
The Tigers said in their statement: "It was inappropriate behavior; the group was given multiple warnings. They violated the code of conduct and were asked to leave and have not been banned from the park."

"California’s Sexual Assault Law Will Hurt Black Kids."

A NYT op-ed by University of San Francisco School of Law professor Lara Bazelon.
Heavy-handed disciplinary policies fall disproportionately on students of color.... Black students are more than three times as likely to be suspended than their white counterparts, according to a report by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Sixteen percent of black students enrolled in K-12 schools were suspended from 2009 to 2012, but only 5 percent of white students were, the Civil Rights Project at U.C.L.A. found....

The consequences of these harsh disciplinary policies are profound. Students who are temporarily or permanently kicked out of school are far more likely to end up in the criminal justice system, a track known as the school-to-prison pipeline. But when Dan Roth, a Berkeley-based criminal defense lawyer, testified before the California State Senate about the bill’s potential to have a racially disparate impact, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who drafted the law, dismissed Mr. Roth’s points as “hyperbole.” Lawmakers similarly rejected Mr. Roth’s common-sense suggestion that the bill include a provision for data collection on its racial impact....

California has rightly resisted the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back protections for the environment and undocumented immigrants. But as a lawyer who sees the extraordinary racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, I believe that this flawed policy from the Obama administration is a legacy California should not pass on to its children....

Megyn Kelly's alcoholic metaphor promoting her new morning show.

"Hoda and Kathie Lee love wine. The ‘Today’ show is mostly coffee. I would say if you had to put a drink on my show, it would be a mimosa. There’s stuff that’s a little naughty. Stuff in there that’s good for you. Some stuff in there that’s fun and sweet. But... with some effervescence."

Explained Megyn Kelly, quoted in "Megyn Kelly Is Ready for Her Morning Closeup/The former Fox News host says her daily NBC morning show, which starts Monday, is one she was 'born to do.' Others aren’t so sure" (NYT).

(A mimosa is half orange juice, half champagne... usually bad orange juice and bad champagne, of course.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Rob said: "Given Trump's earlier comment, Kelly was loath to liken her program to a Bloody Mary."

The most fatuous art-talk I've ever heard.

There's an artwork called "Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other," in which pairs of live dogs are restrained on treadmills facing other dogs on treadmills. The dogs struggle for several minutes to attack each other. The original performance took place in a museum in Beijing in 2003, with the dogs present — struggling on treadmills — in the museum. A video of that event is to be included in an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, "Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World." Facing criticism that the video is a recording of the abuse of the dogs, the Guggenheim has issued a statement:
Reflecting the artistic and political context of its time and place, “Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other” is an intentionally challenging and provocative artwork that seeks to examine and critique systems of power and control.

We recognize that the work may be upsetting. The curators of the exhibition hope that viewers will consider why the artists produced it and what they may be saying about the social conditions of globalization and the complex nature of the world we share.
They're posing as if they are calling us to a higher plane. Think about the symbolism, as the dogs represent people.

Yeah, I am familiar with artwork using dogs to represent people. It's real sophisticated:

But go ahead. Use dogs to represent people. Knock yourself out making paintings of dogs. But if you want to do shows with live dogs, you'd better treat them right, and we, the audience, need to stay firmly grounded in reality and refuse to participate if you're tormenting the animals. That's the highest plane: Stark awareness that the video "Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other" was made by tormenting dogs.

To slap abstraction on it — "examine and critique systems of power and control" — is ludicrous and disgusting. Power and control were used against the dogs. If we are to care about "systems of power and control," we must object to the treatment of the dogs, not drift off into musings about how somewhere else human beings are subjected to power and control.

The horror of communicating with North Korea when its language translation is as wretched as the new statement from Kim Jong-Un shows it is.

I'm seeing a lot of focus on Kim Jong-Un's use of the word "dotard" to insult Donald Trump,* and it is indeed a powerfully distracting word. But what's really important here is the entire statement and how much it says about the quality of the translation between Korean and English within Kim's regime and what that might mean about how he hears what our government is saying to him.

Here's the full text, "released on Friday by KCNA, the North Korean state news agency." According to the NYT is "the first time a North Korean leader directly issued a statement to the world under his name."

I'm going to go through it line by line, because I want you to see the crudeness of the translation and try to imagine what was in the original that a more skilled translation might have revealed. I'll boldface egregious translation problems and put my own suggestion in brackets:
The speech made by the U.S. president in his maiden address on [in] the U.N. arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean Peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.
I suspect this tracks the word order in Korean, but it sounds very awkward in English. The huge distance between the subject ("speech") and the verb ("is") comes across as bizarre.
Shaping the general idea of [Imagining] what he would say, I expected he would make stereotyped [scripted], prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office [the way he tends to speak from the White House] on the spur of the moment as he had to speak [because he was speaking] on the world’s biggest official diplomatic stage.

But, far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be [as] helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors [spoke rude nonsense of a sort that the world has never before heard from a U.S. President].

A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to [of those to whom he speaks] when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on [in] the U.N. arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system [which goes beyond threats of regime change or threats to overturn the social system], makes even those with normal thinking faculty [those of us who are sane] think about [begin to lose our] discretion and composure.
Here's another wide separation of subject ("behavior") and verb ("makes"). I think he's saying Trump's behavior is so crazy that normal people are about to lose our minds.
His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign.
The quoted phrases were not in vogue in English. I think we're getting a translation back into English of something that began in English. I'm not sure exactly what. "Heretic" is an especially vivid word in English. What was the original word in English? What is the Korean word, and what does it mean? How does the idea expressed in Korean relate to the way the North Korean leader understands politics? That's a complete mystery to me, and I wonder how much of a mystery it is to Trump (who, I suspect, gets very quickly to a simple understanding of other people).
After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through [destabilized the world with]  threats and blackmail against all countries in the world. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command [leadership] of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.
"Gangster" — what does that mean to him?
His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his [straightforward remarks about what the U.S. may do] will have [have]** convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct [the path I have chosen is correct] and that it is the one I have to follow to the last [it is the path I must follow to the end].
Now that Trump has denied the existence of [denied the legitimacy of] and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy [and threatened to destroy] the D.P.R.K. [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], we will consider with seriousness [seriously consider] exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history [an equally high-level, hard-line response].

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.
"Dotard" is, actually, fine. It's a simple, memorable word that is less childish than "old man" or "geezer." I'm interested in the idea that a person who is hard of hearing says only what he wants to say, but I think he means: The old man doesn't listen, he just keeps talking, so there's little point in trying to talk to him, and our best option is to act.
As a man representing the D.P.R.K. and on behalf of the dignity and honor of my state and people and on my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the D.P.R.K.
That sentence works in English. It's a clear threat. More subtle are the hints of how he sees himself: he represents his "state and people" and he also acts "on my own."
This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump [I know this is not what Trump is hoping to hear].
I'm not going to tamper with the last 3 sentences. They come across as clear and very effective in English (thought obviously I hope he's bluffing).
I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue.

Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.

* To give one example, the NYT has an entire article "Kim Jong-un Called Trump a ‘Dotard.’ How Harsh Is That Burn?"

** In the comments to this post, Ignorance is Bliss says (correctly): " I think you are mistaken about the word will. It is used as a noun (his will), not as part of a verb (will have)." A good word editor would see ambiguity like that and rearrange the sentence to eliminate it.

September 21, 2017

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."

Said the psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1966, and I'm thinking about it today, while still laughing at the viral video of Lawrence O'Donnell yelling "Stop the hammering!" I just embedded the O'Donnell video in the previous post and — because in the post before that we were talking about phallic symbols — the great commenter Laslo Spatula said "A Hammer is not quite a phallic symbol."

Is a hammer a phallic symbol? In Bob Dylan's song about nuclear war, "A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall," there's the line:
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’...
Blood coming out of their wherever (to paraphrase Trump).

And then there's the hammer Pete Seeger wrote about:

Surely, Mary Travers was not wishing for a penis. "It's the hammer of justice," the lyrics tell us. Is it the hammer in the hammer and sickle, the "Communist symbol that was conceived during the Russian Revolution.... the hammer stood for industrial laborers and the sickle for the peasantry; combined they stood for the worker-peasant alliance for socialism"?

The hammer and sickle is not to be confused with the arm and hammer, "a symbol consisting of a muscular arm holding a hammer."
Used in ancient times as a symbol of the god Vulcan, it came to be known as a symbol of industry, for example blacksmithing and gold-beating. It has been used a symbol by many different kinds of organizations, including banks, local government, Freemasons, and socialist political parties. It has been used in heraldry, appearing in the Coat of arms of Birmingham and Seal of Wisconsin....
Wisconsin! There's also the best baking soda in the world:

And there's the arm and hammer sticking out of Goldbeater's House in London, described by Charles Dickens in "A Tale of Two Cities."

Hammers are important in mythology:
Mjölnir, the magic hammer of Thor. It was invulnerable and when thrown it would return to the user's hand. (Norse mythology)
Ukonvasara (also Ukonkirves), the symbol and magical weapon of the Finnish thunder god Ukko, and was similar to Thor's Mjölnir. (Finnish mythology)
Uchide no kozuchi, a legendary Japanese "magic hammer" which can "tap out" anything wished for. In popular belief, magic wooden hammer is a standard item held in the hand of the iconic deity Daikoku-ten. (Japanese folklore)
Hammer of Hephaestus, the hammer of the Greek smith-god Hephaestus which was used to make the Greek gods weapons.... (Greek mythology)
But let's talk about the "law of the hammer" — AKA "the law of the instrument" — which is the cognitive bias Professor Maslow was talking about in the famous quote that is the post title. The Wikipedia article on the subject explores the topic and traces the concept back to an old English expression "a Birmingham screwdriver" — which is not a screwdriver but a hammer — a hammer that is used for everything (including getting screws to go in).

If we take up the challenge to see the hammer as a phallic symbol, the law of the hammer becomes the temptation, if all you have is a phallus to treat everything as if it were a vagina:
Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy....
Trump was talking to a man, Billy Bush.
Trump: You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

"So, striking a deal with the Democrats on the budget, President Trump — and the Democrats Pelosi and Schumer — opened up another chance for Republicans to repeal Obamacare."

On the NYT "Daily" podcast today — scroll to 3:15 — Michael Barbaro asks how it happened that Congress is once again returning to the effort to repeal of Obamacare. "It just seemed so over" after the last defeat. Thomas Kaplan (who covers Congress for the NYT) answers:
It looked like September was going to be a nightmare of a month because Congress needed to pass a spending measure to keep the government open, and they also needed to raise the debt limit, and that look like it was going to be this big, messy fight. To everyone's surprise...
The podcast shifts to audio of news reports of Trump's meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and his breaking with the GOP and siding with Democrats to get a deal on these big messy things that were going to be the nightmare of September.

Kaplan continues:
And that was a tough pill to swallow for Republicans, who were completely blindsided, but it sort of cleared the decks for the rest of September. Instead of having this big fiscal fight, that was resolved much earlier than everyone thought it would be.
For podcast listeners who may be only slowly waking up and blearily starting their day with the NYT podcast, Barbaro hammers* the point:
So, striking a deal with the Democrats on the budget, President Trump — and the Democrats Pelosi and Schumer — opened up another chance for Republicans to repeal Obamacare. That's striking.
Yeah. No. Completely.
Is Trump that crafty? Did Schumer and Pelosi fall into a trap? I'm inclined to answer those questions yes if only because the 2 NYT reporters — who I doubt would give Trump any extra credit — made me think about it that way. And yet, I don't believe the new legislative effort will succeed. But if it does....

* I use the word "hammers": 1. because of the repetitious pounding of the the same idea, 2. because Barbaro uses the word "striking" twice, and 3. because... STOP THE HAMMERING...

"Actually, the 'Rocket Man' reference leads to 'burning out his fuse up there alone'..."

"... which is an apt characterization of Kim Jong Un’s domestic political situation. But I don’t expect denizens of The View to get this," writes Glenn Reynolds after a "View" co-host, Sarah Haines, characterizes "Rocket Man" as a "phallic reference to masculine dominance." Watch the video at the link to catch the comic inflections and to experience the byplay with the other Viewsters.

Haines is taking the position that Trump's calling Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man" was "a smart move," because "If you think of Putin and you think of Kim Jong Un and you think of Donald Trump they love these phallic references to masculine dominance." That is, these men don't just enjoy talking about their phallus, they experience power as a phallic, making them vulnerable to taunts that call their masculinity into play.

It's really a very obvious observation of a sort that I've heard all my life. In "The Number of the Beast" (1980), Robert A. Heinlein wrote:
"No, she's absolutely right," said Zeb, patting the enormous pistol at his hip. "This is a penis substitute. After all, if I could kill at a range of thirty meters with my penis, I wouldn't need to carry this thing around, now would I?"
That's quoted at the TV Tropes article "Phallic Weapon":
Guns, cannons, swords, daggers... they're all penises.

After all, most of them are vaguely phallic (any object longer than it is wide = phallic), they penetrate human flesh, and killing people is a sign of virility. In the case of guns, they even "ejaculate" bullets, while swords tend to have a suggestive shape, guard positions where the hilt is held crotch height, and thrusting attacks. Even better if they are combined (bayonets on guns are the simplest applications of this, as well as any syringe-like weapon).
Glenn's taunt, aimed at the "View" women is "EVER SINCE TRUMP APPEARED, LATENT PHALLOPHOBIA HAS BECOME BLATANT PHALLOPHOBIA." If a nuclear weapon is the phallic symbol, the fear is justified and not a phobia. I don't think anyone has an exaggerated, unrealistic fear of a nuclear weapon because of its resemblance to a phallus. And it is realistic to think about how sexuality affects political and military decisionmaking. The women on "The View" handle the subject in a very fast-moving, light-hearted way, but it's a serious topic, and I think that Donald Trump has chosen to boldly display masculinity and to flaunt his superior masculine weaponry to intimidate Kim Jong Un. In this context, "Rocket Man" does translate — psychologically — into mocking Kim Jong Un for having a small penis. To point that out is not phobia, but straightforward analysis of Trump rhetoric and psychology in foreign relations.

Remember how we laughed at Kim Jong Un when his rockets failed:

Of course, it's phallic. It's phallophobia not to see the phallus aimed straight at your face.

Or does Glenn Reynolds expect us to believe that Trump wanted us to simply fill in the line with "burning out his fuse up there alone." Now, it's certainly true that — at least here in America — we associate Kim Jong Un with loneliness...

... and, sure, let's give Trump credit for needling Kim about his pathetic loneliness as well as his small penis — it's a taunt, and taunts can be multidimensional — but the line "burning out his fuse up there alone" has always been hard to hear. I listened to the song a hundred times without understanding the line, which eventually I read or... I don't know... heard William Shatner enunciate the hell out of...

Key phrase: I'm not the man they think I am at home....

That's self-doubt about masculinity. If we can imagine Kim Jong Un thinking through Bernie Taupin's lyrics, the "they" is the North Korean people, brainwashed to believe in Kim's greatness. But if he's Rocket Man, that's not enough. He knows he's not that man at all.

September 20, 2017

"Stop the hammering"/"We'll do it live."

"They told me he was out! This can’t be true! We just celebrated his birthday this past Sunday... He is such a smart little boy!”

From the NYT article "At Mexican School Hit by Quake, Heartbreak and Moments of Joy."

"Once we're able to go outside, we're going to find our island destroyed."

Said Puerto Rico's Emergency Management Director Abner Gómez Cortés, quoted in "All Power Out as Hurricane Maria’s Winds, Floods Crush Puerto Rico" (NBC).

Why I'm listening to this song.

The previous post, about trypophobia, has a photograph of a lotus flower — the trypophobe's least-favorite flower — taken by somebody else. But I thought I had taken at least one good trypophobia-triggering photograph of a lotus.

Searching the archive for "lotus" — which only works if I wrote the word too — I found, at best, this...


... from 2012. But I tripped into "Let's not talk about philosophy while we're walking," a December 2006 post that only has "lotus" in it because I'm describing the scene in some unrecognizable café and mention that I'm sitting in a "modified lotus position."
They play this song, and I'm enjoying it. They get to this verse:
So, we went to the cinema, we came home from the cinema
We went through the front door, up the stairs,
Through the bedroom door, onto the bedroom floor
I’ve seen her naked twice, I’ve seen her naked twice!
And I say "I love this song" out loud.
I guess I wasn't alone. Where was I? Who was I with? I have no idea.

"The holes in lotus seed heads have been claimed to cause anxiety in some people."

Are you one of those people?

Photo by Peripitus, "Fruit of sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at Botanic Garden, Adelaide, South Australia."

I'm reading the Wikipedia article on Trypophobia, "a proposed phobia (intense, irrational fear, or anxiety) of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps... believed to have been coined by a participant in an online forum in 2005."
Trypophobia... is rarely used in scientific literature... However, on blogs and in internet forums, thousands of people claim to have trypophobia. Psychiatrist Carol Mathews said... most people writing online are likely disgusted by these types of images without meeting criteria for a real phobia.
I just noticed trypophobia because of a CNN article last week, "TV show triggers little-known phobia" (which begins with the note: "There are no triggering images embedded in this story. There is a slideshow at the bottom with a warning slate as the first image. However, to explain to those without trypophobia what the disorder is like, we have had to use a few descriptive phrases of common triggers. Please be cautious while reading"):
It was supposed to be a fun lunch outing in the Big Apple with her mother and grandmother. But when Jennifer Andresen saw an advertisement for this season's "American Horror Story" on the side of a New York taxi, she had to pull her car over, and fast.

"I was having a full-blown panic attack," said Andresen, who lives in Norwalk, Connecticut. "My pulse was racing. I was so nauseous. I thought I would throw up. My mother and grandmother were like, 'What is wrong with you?' I didn't want to ruin my family's day, but I couldn't help myself."
Oh, I guess I'm a jerk if I publish this post with the lotus right there staring at you with a thousand 22 eyes.

The panic-inducing poster seems to have been one of these:

Very nice posters, really. And here's Buzzfeed's trypophobia test, "Only People Without Trypophobia Will Be Able To Finish This Quiz."

From "What’s Next for Progressives in the Age of Trump?”: "10 Steps Progressives in Wisconsin Need to Take"

By Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
1. Stop the Bickering — If I read one more Facebook post on how bad Bernie is or how bad Hillary is and how reprehensible their respective followers are, I’m going to die. It’s over. Move on! I swear, if I’m at one more party with friends where this argument breaks out, I’m going to leave the party – even if it’s at my own house! We’ve got bigger problems on our hands right now – in Wisconsin, and in Washington. As Representative Gwen Moore said at the Cap Times Idea Fest panel I was on, “We need forgiveness.” All around. And then we need to move forward together.... Folks, we’re dying here! We don’t have time for your ego spats. Get your stuff together.

2. The Old Guard Needs to Go....

"Scott Adams describes the spectacular persuasion technique as a charismatic BLM leader speaks to Trump supporters. (Wow)."

"It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me."

Writes Sharyl Attkisson.
The government ... got caught monitoring journalists at Fox News, The Associated Press, and, as I allege in a federal lawsuit, my computers while I worked as an investigative correspondent at CBS News....

Then, as now, instead of getting the bigger story, some in the news media and quasi-news media published false and misleading narratives pushed by government interests. They implied the computer intrusions were the stuff of vivid imagination, conveniently dismissed forensic evidence from three independent examinations that they didn’t review. All seemed happy enough to let news of the government’s alleged unlawful behavior fade away, rather than get to the bottom of it....

Officials involved in the surveillance and unmasking of U.S. citizens have said their actions were legal and not politically motivated. And there are certainly legitimate areas of inquiry to be made by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. But look at the patterns. It seems that government monitoring of journalists, members of Congress and political enemies — under multiple administrations — has become more common than anyone would have imagined two decades ago. So has the unmasking of sensitive and highly protected names by political officials....

Kim Jong-Un calls Donald Trump "Honky Cat."

"In what some security experts fear could be a high-stakes war of Elton John lyrics...."

(Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker.)

"Sex is the new opium of the masses... a temporary heart in a heartless world."

"Unfortunately, something so immanent as sex will not — and cannot — function in the manner in which religion can, has, and does.... Sex does not explain the world. It is not a master narrative. It has little to offer by way of convincing theodicy. But in a world increasingly missing transcendence, longing for sexual expression makes sense. It should not surprised us, however, that those who (unconsciously) demand sex function like religion will come up short. Maybe that is why very liberal women are also twice as likely to report being depressed or currently in psychotherapy than very conservative women."

Writes University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus in "Cheap Sex," quoted in an American Conservative piece by Rod Dreher, "Liberal Women Are Lustier."

Liberal women are lustier? The basis for that headline is:
... sociological data showing that “more politically liberal young-adult women report wanting more sex than they have been having.” Regnerus says the percentage of women who said they would prefer to have more sex is as follows:
  • 16 percent of “very conservative” women
  • 30 percent of “conservative” women
  • 38 percent of moderate women
  • 44 percent of “liberal” women
  • 53 percent of “very liberal” women
I don't see the correspondence between the extent of "lustiness" and whether you're getting as much sex as you want. What if a woman has a partner who provides her with sex whenever she wants it, and she wants it a lot? Is she not lusty? And what about a woman who isn't feeling much or any sexual desire and therefore doesn't have much sex but she feels she should have more sex because she believes it's important or the meaning of life or the way to happiness? Is she getting counted in that sociological data? Because she's not "lusty."

Now, the headline made me click, but I'm really annoyed at the word "lustier." I don't think The American Conservate should be eager to credit liberal women with lustiness, if that's a positive quality, and since "lust" is on the old-time list of "sins" (and sex is being discussed as a substitute for religion), I'm not sure that "lustier" isn't meant as a disparagement. In any case, "lust" — which only appears in the headline — is a bad distraction and beneath the dignity of The American Conservative.

What's important, apparently, to Regnerus and Dreher, is sex as an inadequate substituted for religion. Liberalism only comes into play because it has some correspondence to religiosity.

As for "Sex is the new opium of the masses" — it's odd to hear that from someone who favors religion. It seems to say: I've got the best opium!

Swastikas, "Antifa sucks," and "Trump rules" were spray-painted next to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue building at James Madison Park in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

We don't know who did it, but what do you think? Based on past incidents, I presume things like this are false flag.

CORRECTION: The post title is updated — with "next to" replacing "on" — because spray painting wasn't on the building itself but on a monument next to it. The monument is a stone with a plaque honoring the Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War).

"I knew there was something about him, but I couldn't put my finger on it."

"He gave me a lot of attention, made me feel like I was important."

Says the woman who — for 10 years — dated a man who has pleaded guilty to murdering 7 persons over a 13-year period and who was caught after the discovery of woman with a chain around her neck in a storage container on his property.

From Inside Edition.

I can believe that a killer successful enough to murder than many people over that stretch of time is excellent at dispelling doubts and making the prospective victim feel that she's important and lucky to be getting his attention, but... 10 years?

"I was saddened to see how bad the ratings were on the Emmys last night - the worst ever. Smartest people of them all are the 'DEPLORABLES.'"

Tweeted our sarcastic President, Donald J. Trump.

Via Variety, where we learn:
Sunday’s awards ceremony averaged 11.4 million viewers, compared to 2016’s 11.3 million, its lowest ever. The telecast also averaged a 2.5 rating in adults 18-49, dropping below last year’s low point of a 2.8.
So it's "worst ever" if you look at the 18-49 number, but not if you count everyone, which is ironic if you think of the over-49ers as containing the highest concentration of deplorables.

"Yet... it is you who have pressured me, who has taught and researched for 41 years in university and is a Nobel Prize recipient, to do that which I will not do..."

"... advantage a single [Disability Resources and Educational Services] student over the 100-plus non-DRES students in my course by providing that student with my lectures electronically."

Writes Michael Schlesinger, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (who is "a Nobel Prize recipient" in the sense that he worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore).

As Inside Higher Ed reports, Schlesinger has been put on paid leave for refusing to share his lecture slides with a disabled student, as instructed by the disability accommodation administrators at his school.

He's very antagonistic toward them and their expertise: "Although you have a doctorate, I doubt that you teach. Although you have a doctorate, I doubt that you do research... I think the university needs to rethink having people such as you. Nonetheless, I look forward to spending the remainder of my life in Kona, Hawaii."

I can't help wanting to say that climate scientists expect us to bow to their expertise and take dictation about what must be done as a consequence of their findings, but here's the climate scientist resisting the expertise of people in the disability-accommodation field.

It's kind of ironic. Does he think this one student is scamming to get an advantage over the other students? The idea behind disability accommodations is to put the affected student on the same level as the other students, but he's objecting to giving that student an "advantage." Is he a disability doubter?

"Before the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn pledged to spend $10 billion and create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, the company made a similar promise in Brazil."

"At a news conference in Brazil, Foxconn officials unveiled plans to invest billions of dollars and build one of the world’s biggest manufacturing hubs in the state of São Paulo. The government had high expectations that the project would yield 100,000 jobs. Six years later, Brazil is still waiting for most of those jobs to materialize.... In China, Foxconn has built vast factories backed by large government subsidies.... But the model does not translate easily to other countries, where Foxconn must navigate different social, political and labor conditions...."

From the NYT, "Before Wisconsin, Foxconn Vowed Big Spending in Brazil. Few Jobs Have Come.."

"... being as candid, open, as I could be..."

I love the stress on the word "I" as Hillary Clinton talks about the difficulty of writing her book...

The stress changes the meaning to: It's particularly difficult for me to be honest.

I also like this "Paula Revere" business:

"And I am saying, as clearly as I can — I feel like a bit of a Paula Revere (I'm trying to sound the alarm about this) — is that, you know, you've got to understand what Putin's strategy is: He really doesn't like democracy. He thinks it's an inconvenient, messy process.* And he doesn't like us and he wants to destabilize our country, sow doubt about our democracy."

Paul Revere sounded the alarm that the British were coming, as Americans fought our war for independence from a colonial power. Hillary is sounding the alarm that a leader in another country doesn't like our democracy and wants us to doubt our own country. Paradoxically, she is sowing doubts about our democracy through these claims that the Russians are coming. But they're not coming the way the British were coming, to fight a war....

They're coming to buy targeted ads on Facebook. There's no invasion in the offing. A distant foreign power coaxes us to eat away at ourselves from the inside. And Hillary urges us to gnaw away.

* It is an inconvenient, messy process!

September 19, 2017

But you've been using violence against women (and children and men) to entertain people for half a century.

Maybe this is a takes-one-to-know-one situation, but I can barely think of a person who is more implicated in the popularization of the use of images of violence for the casual amusement of the American people.

And if you want to talk about men making entertainment out of terrible things done to  women, look at Stephen King's new book (co-written with his son), "Sleeping Beauties," reviewed here (in The Washington Post):
“Sleeping Beauties” takes place in the little Appalachian town of Dooling, W.Va., which for no apparent reason becomes ground zero of a worldwide gyno-epidemic, known as the Aurora Flu: The moment any woman falls asleep, she’s immediately covered in a sticky white cocoon, like a full-body cotton-candy wrap. What’s worse, terrified family members who break open these cocoons find that their mothers, sisters and daughters have transformed into bloodthirsty killers. “It’s, like, the ultimate P-M-S,” one yahoo says....
But I'm sure King would argue that he's not sexist. He's showing you bad guys who are sexist.
What’s... surprising is the novel’s grim gender politics. The Kings tell us that “hard right conservatives on talk radio were proclaiming the Aurora virus as proof that God was angry with feminism.” 
The right wing, over there, they are bad, like bad old President Trump, laughing about the golf ball.
We’re made to understand that that’s ridiculous, but the story doesn’t do much to supply an alternative interpretation. Despite having a female police chief, Dooling is a town under a dome, a place with little sense that we live in an era of rapidly changing attitudes about sexuality and gender roles. The novel’s theme feels just as essentialist as the spooky virus that always gets its gal. And the Lord-of-the-Flies battle that consumes the final half of the story reinscribes every worn-out trope about peaceful, constructive women and violent, destructive men.
I think that means King wants to be considered pro-woman. Fine. I assume he means well. But President Trump also claims to be pro-woman. He just also enjoys some laughing at a woman knocked down by a golf ball, and King enjoys 700 pages of women knocked out of consciousness and bound up by a sticky white substance. How could only one of these things be indicative of a severely fucked-up mind?

Hey, the WaPo reviewer, Ron Charles, made a pretty funny video about struggling to stay awake to read the 700 page tome:

"This is much worse than Watergate, folks. That was a third-rate burglary that went awry."

"Trump was called a liar. He was mocked for tweeting about Trump Tower being wiretapped. David Gergen, you’ll hear on the sound bites today, practically chokes when confronted with the news that Trump was right and doesn’t quite know what to say about it. But, I tell you what, folks, in many ways it’s worse than Watergate, and it’s still going on even with Trump in the White House. Richard Nixon was accused of spying on the DNC, but Nixon never ordered any such spying. In fact, he didn’t know anything about it. He was accused of using the IRS against his political opponents, but he never did. We know for a fact that Obama did both of these things, used the IRS against political opponents and probably more. There’s no outrage in the media on this. They think it’s great that Manafort’s lock was picked. The New York Times reports this as though it’s something that happens every day. Yep, the FBI showed up, they picked the lock of Manafort’s front door in Virginia and walked in and woke him up along with his family and then started demanding things and taking things...."

Rush Limbaugh, today.

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"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission..."

"... for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do. It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved. But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior."

Said President Trump at his speech today at the United Nations.

I think, overall, Trump gave a great speech today, but I cannot figure out why he would take the taunt "Rocket Man" — questionable enough when deployed on Twitter — and use in the U.N. Not only is it too casual, too undignified, it undercuts its own point: that Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous nut. You wreck  your credibility if you yourself sound like a dangerous nut.

ADDED: Scott Adams loved Trump's saying "Rocket Man" at the U.N. (Is his reason anything more than: It tweaks the left?)

Trump addresses the U.N. General Assembly.

ADDED: Here's the transcript of the speech. Just yesterday, I was focusing on a question asked on CNN: "Will the president stick by his America-first message when he appears before the U.N. this coming week?" So let's look at the place in today's speech where Trump says "America first":
The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words. They are: “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history. In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.
In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government's first duty is to its people, to our citizens -- to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first. (Applause.)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

"An emerging body of research is suggesting that soaring 35,000ft (10km) above the ground inside a sealed metal tube can do strange things to our minds..."

"... altering our mood, changing how our senses work and even making us itch more."

BBC reports in "How flying seriously messes with your mind."

I'd never before noticed the claim that people are more likely to cry over movies if they're watching on a plane.
There are many theories about why flying might leave passengers more vulnerable to crying – sadness at leaving loved ones, excitement about the trip ahead, homesickness. But there is also some evidence that flying itself may also be responsible.
I don't know if I've ever watched a movie on a plane. I've watched parts of movies that were being shown at me and quit. I really dislike having to focus my eyes on something that's shaky. I prefer to listen to an audiobook (with my eyes closed). And of course, I prefer not to fly at all.

"US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election..."

"... sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe. The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump... The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources. The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year...."

You may remember a series of Trump tweets last March:
1. "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

2. "Is it legal for a sitting President to be 'wire tapping' a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!"

3. "I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!"

4. "How low has President Obama gone to tapp* my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!"
Here's BBC discussing the response to those tweets back in March:
[The tweets] were not backed up by any evidence, and Mr Obama's spokesman and former US intelligence chief James Clapper denied that any wiretap had been ordered.... FBI Director James Comey for the first time on Monday confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the agency is investigating possible links between Russia and Mr Trump's associates as part of a broader inquiry into Moscow's interference in last year's election. He also disputed Mr Trump's wiretapping claims.

"With respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI," he told the panel....

WaPo reports on a 15-year-old girl who prefers to stay home and spend time with her family and the mother who's worried about her.

The girl "has no interest in dating, driving, working for pay or drinking alcohol - and the rising costs of college keep her up at night," and the mother says: "On the one hand, I know she’s safe, she’s not out getting pregnant or smoking pot or drinking or doing all kinds of risky stuff that I can imagine would be age appropriate... [But i]s that stuff necessary for human development, do you have to be risk-taking as a teenager in order to succeed as an adult?"

That's the concluding anecdote in an article titled "Not drinking or driving, teens increasingly put off traditional markers of adulthood."

Teens not getting into trouble. That's the news. That's the man bites dog. Teenagers, they're supposed to be trouble.

This makes me want to quote a passage from one of my favorite books "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir" by Bill Bryson. Bryson — born, like me, in 1951 — is talking about the 1950s, when fear of teenagers raged:
Teenagers smoked and talked back and petted in the backs of cars. They used disrespectful terms to their elders like “pops” and “daddy-o.” They smirked. They drove in endless circuits around any convenient business district. They spent up to fourteen hours a day combing their hair. They listened to rock ’n’ roll, a type of charged music clearly designed to get youngsters in the mood to fornicate and smoke hemp. “We know that many platter-spinners are hop-heads,” wrote the authors of the popular book USA Confidential, showing a proud grasp of street patois. “Many others are Reds, left-wingers or hecklers of social convention.”

Movies like The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause, Blackboard Jungle, High School Confidential!, Teen-Age Crime Wave, Reform School Girl, and (if I may be allowed a personal favorite) Teenagers from Outer Space made it seem that the youth of the nation was everywhere on some kind of dark, disturbed rampage. The Saturday Evening Post called juvenile crime “the Shame of America.” Time and Newsweek both ran cover stories on the country’s new young hoodlums. Under Estes Kefauver the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency launched a series of emotive hearings on the rise of street gangs and associated misbehavior.
Anyway, I love the mom in the new WaPo story, worrying that her daughter isn't out getting into teenager trouble because — who knows? — even that might have something to do with Success as an Adult.

"The new research... seems to potentially empower a critique of climate science that has often been leveled by skeptics, doubters and 'lukewarmers' who argue that warming is shaping up to be less than climate models have predicted."

WaPo concedes in "New climate change calculations could buy the Earth some time — if they’re right."

Some experts have recalculated and say we have 20 years instead of 3 in the "carbon budget" (that is, how long it will take, at the current rate of emissions, to warm the earth to 2.7°F beyond what it was in the late 19th century — the "pre-industrial" time).

IN THE COMMENTS: Expat(ish) says:
Hate to be picky about a headline written by a non-STEM person, but the "calculations" don't give the "Earth some time."

First, the *new* calculations predict that more time will pass before X.

Secondly, there will still be time for the "Earth" (why is that capitalized?) no matter the climate. Unless the SMOD breaks it to smithereens when Trump is re-elected.
1. If you follow The Chicago Manual of Style, the word "the" determines whether you capitalize Earth/earth. So if they were hot to capitalize "Earth," they should have left out the "the." Notice that we always capitalize "Mars" and "Venus," but we never say "The Mars" or "The Venus" ... when we're talking about planets. One can imagine a museum curator saying "We need to relocate the Venus to the stairwell."

2. Earth isn't in the market for time. That's a human desire. George Carlin said it best (NSFW):

Poll results for "Does Trump have a sense of humor?"

I put this poll up yesterday in a post inspired by the NYT op-ed "Is Nothing Funny, Mr. President?" (which stated that Trump completely lacked a sense of humor). My personal opinion is that Trump has a strong sense of humor and frequently uses humor. He uses it like a professional comedian, not like a traditional politician.

The NYT writer (a former Obama speechwriter) talked about the "bipartisan Oval Office tradition" of "safe, well-placed quips that crowds are well primed to laugh at," which are the "presidential equivalent of dad jokes."

Yeah, that's not what Trump does. He's not about warming us all up and signaling that he's a good guy (which, by the way, is something a complete villain would do!). He's actually into comedy and may even do comedy for the sake of comedy and not necessarily as a means to an end (though he seems to believe that he's lucky and things work out for him if he does it his way).

The NYT writer observed Trump's tendency not to laugh at humor. But many professional comedians keep a straight face. I see that as a more advanced level of comedian. Laughing at your own jokes is "dad joke" style, and laughing at other people's jokes is kind of beta. Why do people laugh at the jokes of others? Sometimes, because it's really that funny, you laugh the way you'd laugh if you were alone hearing the joke on the radio. But mostly you laugh at other people's jokes to ingratiate yourself and display that you're a nice person who cares about feelings.

And if you are like that, you're probably not a high-quality comedian yourself, though I'm sure in front of a well-primed audience, you could deliver a scripted dad joke.

"Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home."

"They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation."

From "With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone" (NYT).
“They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. “You want people saying to themselves, ‘Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.’”
This story is also very well discussed in the NYT podcast this morning, here, strongly underscoring Wisenberg's point.

September 18, 2017

Nancy Pelosi — at her own Dreamers rally — is overtaken by bustling, screaming protesters who want action for all 11 million undocumented immigrants — not just those covered by DACA.

It's very disturbing to watch this disrespect for the venerable House Minority Leader (but she keeps her cool and looks strong):

Does Trump have a sense of humor?

1. In the NYT, we have David Litt (a former speechwriter for President Obama), contending that Trump is "a commander in chief without a sense of humor."
[Trump] uses his well-honed sense of timing as a cudgel. He jeers. He mocks. His goal is to insult, rather than to entertain.... President Trump does not possess the sense of nuance a well-told joke requires...

Without the qualities that laughter both demonstrates and fosters — a willingness to find common ground, the respect for agreed-upon norms and the awareness that we are all only human — Mr. Trump’s attitude toward the presidency is defined by the one characteristic that remains: a lust for power....
2. Meanwhile, on Twitter, Scott Adams — who's kind of a humor expert — seems to think Trump has a fabulous sense of humor. He can't stop laughing about "Rocket Man" and the golf-ball-hits-Hillary video:

3. This issue is squarely raised. You decide:

Does Trump have a sense of humor? Pick the answer closest to what you think. free polls

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Trump at the U.N.

ADDED: Nikki Haley was on "State of the Union" yesterday, and the host Dana Bash played her a clip of Trump saying:
"The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It's not a friend to freedom. It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel."
Bash then paraphased that — very unfairly I think — in the question: "Will the president stick by his America-first message when he appears before the U.N. this coming week?"

Haley did not do what I'd have done with that question — say that it's just plain wrong to translate that statement of Trump's into "his America-first message." He spoke of democracy and freedom, principles that matter to all human beings, and he criticized the U.N. for its hostility to the United States and to Israel. To object to bad treatment is not to demand to be put first.

Haley avoids repeating and reinforcing Bash's phrase. Here's what she said, which you can see restates and augments what Trump said:

If the "smartest move" — in making a serious TV drama about porn — is "exploiting the contradictions," then how can you say "'The Deuce' is certainly a feminist series"?

I don't watch this show, and there's no way I will, but I do read The New Yorker, and that means I'm often challenging myself to understand TV shows (and movies) that I do not and will not watch. I'm keeping an eye on the culture from the safe distance of reading. For example, I read this about the Emmys show, which I did not watch:
“I haven’t had a TV since I moved out of my parents house at 18,” [Shailene Woodley] told E! News in the pre-show on the red carpet at the 2017 Emmy Awards Sunday, where Big Little Lies had received 16 nominations.

“All my friends who watch TV, I always ask them when they have time to. When do they have time to?” she said. “I’m a reader. I always have a book.”
That's reported at People under the headline "Shailene Woodley Slammed After Revealing She Doesn't Own a TV on Emmys Red Carpet: 'I'm a Reader.'" Slammed? Why? Actors are supposed to tout the industry? Or does claiming to be "a reader" sound snobby? Tell me what books Shailene Woodley reads and I'll have an opinion on that. It seems to me many of these TV shows and ponderous and hard work to watch, and lots of books are lightweight. My preference for reading is more about wanting control of my own time, to go fast or slow, to switch into my own thoughts, and to retrace my path and skip around.

Ah! I found an answer to the question what books does Shailene Woodley read:
[Shailene's] favorite is Henry and June by Anaïs Nin, a memoir about the author's passionate love for Henry Miller and his wife, June. "Anaïs is like the ultimate goddess," Shailene says. "I feel really connected to her femininity." Much like we feel connected to your femininity, Shai. (Did that sound creepy?)
That's Teen Vogue, which might explain the cutesy dancing around carnality. So, onto the subject of the New Yorker article: "'The Deuce' and the Birth of Porn/The show is a classic David Simon joint, in which sex workers and porn actors are treated like any other alienated workforce," by Emily Nussbaum:
“The Deuce” is certainly a feminist series—and half its directors are female—but its smartest move is to resist turning sex into a thesis, exploiting the contradictions instead. 
You're a connoisseur of contradictions, a resister of sex as a thesis, and yet you dictate to me: "'The Deuce' is certainly a feminist series." Why the certainty?! Why shut the door to the exploration of contradictions in the contention that this show — about pornography — is certainly feminist? I'm outraged by this pronouncement. I would begin with the hypothesis that a show about pornography is anti-feminist, but you want me not even to think about it.

I continue reading this article precisely because I'm so annoyed:
Often, this means visually scrambling cable clichés, starting with a rape role-play in the première that spills into genuine violence. In the aftermath, Darlene, dabbing her bruises, is nude, but she’s never the camera’s focus. Instead, our gaze keeps settling, with nosy clarity, on her bald trick’s big-bellied torso, his matted back hair, his exposed crotch, forcing us to consider that body—both pathetic and intimidating—not hers.

There’s warmth, too, particularly through [Maggie] Gyllenhaal’s mournful, electric presence, her fame itself upending the hierarchies of cable, which typically dictates that extras bare it all while the stars cover up. With the polarities reversed, and the biggest celebrity somehow exposed and not objectified, I found myself craving a sex scene between the one non-sex-worker African-American couple on the show: in this context, such a sequence became elevating, not debasing, a sign that the characters were taken seriously enough to see their private world.
What is the argument that this is even uncertainly feminist? I really have no idea. Getting the star to go nude is an old trick, and not one I associate with feminism. Showing an ugly man having sex with a beautiful woman is a tale as old as time. Maybe somehow the graphic depiction of rape and the bruised body of a woman is supposed to be flipped into something meaningful, but Nussbaum doesn't explain how this happens and why this isn't just another way to palm off the same misogyny that the recently departed Kate Millett wrote about in "Sexual Politics."

Is it that half of the directors of "Deuce" are women? So they hire on women to get immunity from the charge of misogyny. We're supposed to support the furthering of the careers of women and see that as feminism. Could Nussbaum please explain why the gambit of hiring women to work on projects like this is certainly feminist and not actively anti-feminist?

There's always a woman who will take the work. They can put the face of a woman on any project they want. Is it that easy to get the Certainly Feminist stamp? (If so, porn itself is certainly feminist.)

Google celebrates the birthday of Samuel Johnson.

"As a popular search engine marks the great lexicographer’s birthday, it’s a good time for some defining questions. Can you get them right without googling?" (The Guardian). ("What is Johnson defining here? 'To deprive a dog of something, nobody knows what, under his tongue, which is said to prevent him, nobody knows why, from running mad.'") I got 5/10.

"Who was Samuel Johnson? The father of the modern dictionary's funniest entries" (The Telegraph). ("Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.")

"Samuel Johnson: Who is this literary figure, what did he do and why is he so important?"
The primary reason for Johnson’s enduring appeal though, outside of his own remarkable achievements in print, is surely the ongoing popularity of James Boswell’s fantastically detailed Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).... Boswell recalls such delightful comic incidents as Johnson good-naturedly dismissing Burke as “a vile Whig”, rebuking Goldsmith for being “loose in his principles” and declining a repeat visit backstage to visit Garrick at the theatre because, “the silk stockings and white bosoms of your actresses excite my amorous propensities.” His opinions on everything from remarriage ("the triumph of hope over experience") to women vicars* and the merits of Alexander Pope are preserved for the ages in a work whose value cannot be overstated.
Don't forget Johnson's "Grammar of the English Tongue." That's the one I keep in my Kindle. Sample:

"From a loft in San Francisco in 1967, a 21-year-old named Jann S. Wenner started a magazine that would become the counterculture bible for baby boomers."

"Rolling Stone defined cool, cultivated literary icons and produced star-making covers that were such coveted real estate they inspired a song. But the headwinds buffeting the publishing industry, and some costly strategic missteps, have steadily taken a financial toll on Rolling Stone, and a botched story three years ago about an unproven gang rape at the University of Virginia badly bruised the magazine’s journalistic reputation. And so, after a half-century reign that propelled him into the realm of the rock stars and celebrities who graced his covers, Mr. Wenner is putting his company’s controlling stake in Rolling Stone up for sale, relinquishing his hold on a publication he has led since its founding."

The NYT reports.

I wonder how much they thought about that phrase "an unproven gang rape" and what alternatives they considered. To my ear, it sounds as though they're implying that there was a gang rape, but it just couldn't be proved. The story was completely debunked!
On January 12, 2015, Charlottesville Police Department officials told UVA that an investigation had failed to find any evidence confirming the events in the Rolling Stone article.... At the request of Rolling Stone publisher Jann S. Wenner, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism agreed to audit the editorial processes that culminated in the article being published....

In light of the findings, Erik Wemple of The Washington Post pronounced the story "a complete crock". In the Columbia Journalism Review, Bill Grueskin called the story "a mess—thinly sourced, full of erroneous assumptions, and plagued by gaping holes in the reporting." The Columbia Journalism Review called the story "this year's media-fail sweepstakes" and the Poynter Institute named it as the "Error of the Year" in journalism.
The NYT has a separate article that's a tribute to the greatness of Rolling Stone over the years: "It filled its pages with the words of renowned writers, including Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Cameron Crowe and Greil Marcus." Yes, it's very sad that we don't get journalism like that anymore. These days, I love reading old articles by Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe. And I remember the day back in the 1960s, when I was in high school, I first saw the publication waved about by a classmate who acted like he had his hands on something very special. How important is this thing supposed to be?, I wondered. We already have Crawdaddy.