October 14, 2017

How to use art: Enjoy. Interact. Respect.


I'm not sure if that's the instructions in general for what to do with art. It's on the base of this new University of Wisconsin sculpture, which I see is titled "Well Red":


I'd interpret the sign to mean: Feel free to sit on this sculpture's lap, but no funny business.

"Hollywood’s de facto governing body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to 'immediately expel' Harvey Weinstein..."

"... breaking with 90 years of precedent and turning one of the biggest Oscar players in history into a hall-of-fame pariah. The academy’s 54-member board of governors made the decision at an emergency session after investigations by The New York Times and The New Yorker that revealed sexual harassment and rape allegations against him going back decades...."

The NYT reports.

The Board sought distance from the monster:
“We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society.”
But that doesn't mean there are not other monsters. Getting rid of the one who's been outed doesn't send a message that you'll do anything about sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in your industry that hasn't been the subject of a big exposé. You'll have to do a lot more to convince me that the "era... is over." Message not yet received.

As the NYT points out, Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby are still members of the Academy.

One member of the Academy's board, Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy "told fellow board members that she was outraged by the allegations... [but] was also said to be aware that pushing him out could put the academy on a slippery slope."

If the slope is slippery, the era is not over.

At the Certainty-and-Doubt Café...


... you can talk about anything you like, however certain or doubtful.

The photograph was taken at this exhibition at the Chazen Museum here in Madison.

Please resolve any shopping uncertainties in favor of using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Harvey Weinstein's brother says he was a victim of Harvey's abuse too, but he knows he can't expect any sympathy.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:
I was also the object of a lot of his verbal abuse — at one time physical abuse. And I am not looking for one bit of sympathy from anyone. I do not put myself in the category at all of those women that he hurt. But it's a complicated situation when it's your brother doing the abusing to you as well. I saw it and I asked him to get help for many years. And that's the truth. He avoided getting the help. We begged him.

This hurts, but I don't feel an ounce of remorse coming from him, and that kills me too. When I heard his written, lame excuse… Not an excuse. When I heard his admission of feeling remorse for the victims and then him cavalierly, almost crazily saying he was going to go out and take on the NRA, it was so disturbing to me. It was utter insanity. My daughters all felt sick hearing this because we understood he felt nothing. I don't feel he feels anything to this day. I don't.

Reading Hillary's book, Part 1: "mustered."

I wasn't going to buy Hillary Clinton's new book — "What Happened" — because I did not want to read it. And if you're thinking Althouse is going to read it, so we don't have to you're wrong. I'm not going to read it. But I am going to blog it. I bought it because Meade asked me to put it in our Kindle  account, because — a propos of the Harvey Weinstein exposé — he had some search terms to apply to the text.

Now, Meade is doing something with the text that I'll call proto-blogging: He reads and speaks aloud the kinds of thoughts I might have if I were doing the reading. And that might get me to something I want to put in writing here on the blog. You'll just have to imagine the Meadhouse interplay that precedes the posts in this series. I'll just say he's the one who's kind-of/sort-of reading the book, we have conversations, and I dip into the text to get things to spin out for this new series.

So Meade is going to almost read it, so Althouse doesn't have to, so you don't have to. But it will be prime stuff. Nothing is blogged here unless I think it's blogworthy. Everything in this series is 100% guaranteed interesting. To me.

I've heard it said that the first maybe 100 pages of the book is a pretty good read, but after that it gets boring. I don't know if that's true, but I have found evidence that the first chunk of the book had a different author (or editor) than the rest of the book. The evidence is the word "muster," which I used to find a section of the text Meade and I were talking about, a section about Hillary's decision to show up for the swearing-in of Donald Trump. The passage in question ended with:
That’s how I ended up right inside the door of the Capitol on January 20, waiting to be announced. It had been such a long journey to get here. Now I just had to take a few more steps. I took Bill’s arm and squeezed it, grateful to have him by my side. I took a deep breath and walked out the door with as big a smile as could muster.
We were making various jokes — such as interjecting "I didn't inhale" after "I took a deep breath" — and got to talking about the word "muster" — which I said was like "garner." (I first blogged my objection to "garner" here.)

I wanted to blog various things about the Trump inauguration scene, and to get to the text, I searched for the word "muster." It was a good search term because I remembered it from our conversation, and it's unusual enough not to be likely to appear too many times in the text. Here are the results of the search:
The word appears 4 times in the book, and all 4 are in the first 100 pages. I don't have the kind of sophisticated software that can be used to detect whether various texts are written by the same author, but I think such software looks for many examples like this. I'm just entertaining the hypothesis that someone was involved in writing of the first 100 pages who did not work on the rest of the book.

Also, I'd like to say that "muster" is a rather silly word, though its true silliness only emerges when you use the past tense and create the homophone with "mustard." (If you did the Thursday NYT crossword this week, you might have enjoyed or groaned over the use of this homophone at 16 Across.) But "muster" is an okay word. I've used it 4 or 5 times in the 50,000+ posts on this blog, but I don't like to see it coming up 4 times in 100 pages. That's over reliance on a distracting word that could be replaced by words you would be more likely to use in conversational speech, like "pull up" or "bring together."

There's a phoniness to "muster" when someone uses it to convey how it feels to draw upon your inner resources to do something you need to do. In the above-quoted example, Hillary "walked out the door with as big a smile as could muster." Later, on page 41, she's talking about another loss, not to Donald Trump but to Barack Obama:
By the end, he led in the all-important delegate count, but our popular vote totals were less than one-tenth of a percent apart. That made it all the more painful to accept defeat and muster up the good cheer to campaign vigorously for him.
Again, the word is used in the context of holding back negativity and putting on a game face. The phony-sounding word aptly expresses her being genuinely phony on those 2 occasions.

On page 32, there's:
I prayed that my worst fears about Donald Trump wouldn’t be realized, and that people’s lives and America’s future would be made better, not worse, during his presidency. I’m still praying on that one, and I can use all the backup you can muster.
That seems to say: Yeah, I know this reference to prayer is bullshit. If she really believed in prayer as a defense against Trump at his worst or even just thought her readers took prayer seriously, I think she would have said something more like: and I hope you are praying too. Or: and I know many of you pray that God will give our president wisdom and good judgment. (And I don't like saying she "can use all the backup" as if she's the prayer leader and we're behind her.)

Finally, on page 92, we get the last "muster" in the book, and it's in one of these goofball girly passages:
Someone once asked what we talked about on long flights. “Food!” we chorused. It’s funny how much you look forward to the next meal when you’re living out of a suitcase. In 2008, we often relied on junk food to see us through; I remember a lot of pizza with sliced jalapeños delivered right to the plane. This time I was determined that we would all be healthier. I asked friends for good on-the-go snack recommendations. A few days later, shipments of canned salmon, as well as Quest and Kind protein bars, arrived at my house, which we lugged onto the plane in canvas totes. When the Quest bars got cold, they were too hard to eat, so we sat on them for a few minutes to warm them up, with as much dignity as one can muster at such a moment.
This is the best use of "muster" in the book, because she's describing something silly: sitting on her food to warm it up. And the thing being mustered — dignity — is supposed to be funny. There's no dignity in using your ass as a makeshift microwave.

By the way, "muster" comes from the Middle French word "monstrer" which means "to show," which is the same source for "demonstrate," which is a much better word, that is, a word you can use in casual conversation without seeming weird.

"Some Girl Scout badges promote stereotypical notions of femininity. Many are about helping others."

"Even the flowers badge asks girls to 'find out how flowers help people.' There’s also a focus on appearance. The independence badge, for 'striding down your path to changing the world,' includes learning how to 'make your clothes look great.' The 'eating for you' badge — recently called 'eating for beauty' — emphasizes how nutrition helps with 'smooth skin, shiny hair and strong nails.' The Scout Law for [Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts] includes similar virtues, like being honest, helpful and friendly. But girls might be better off, too, if more boys earned badges like those from the Girl Scouts for respect and fair play, and for taking responsibility for their actions, not to mention babysitting and making dinner. In that spirit, here are 10 Girl Scout badges that might benefit Boy Scouts...."

From "Things Boys Could Learn at Girl Scouts" (NYT).

"The movie industry I’ve known for the past 30 years... is reconstituting itself in my mind this week like pieces of a broken mirror being glued back in place..."

"... the cracks now forever visible," writes Dana Stevens (at Slate), who's been writing about movies for something like a decade, yet claims she "truly didn't" know "any of the more sordid Weinstein rumors." (Did she know any of the less sordid rumors? She does "guiltily question" whether she should have picked up some clues and could have dug into them.)

In this metaphorical reglued broken mirror in her mind, Stevens sees:
Gwyneth Paltrow holding her Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, standing beaming next to the man whose hotel suite she had to escape from a few years earlier after he invited her to the bedroom for a massage.... Or Mira Sorvino getting her Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite and then mysteriously—or perhaps not so mysteriously anymore—fading from the screen. Or Rosanna Arquette never going on to the career she deserved....
But the linked column doesn't go where I would take it. When I saw the headline at Slate — "The Harvey Weinstein Scandal Is Changing How I Look at the Movies" — I thought it going to say what I've been saying: Because movies are shot through with human exploitation, we should withhold our patronage. These big expensive projects create immense power that is used to grind up young women, and we should not want to expose our mind to this material. If you need stories about human beings, read. A writer of books works alone (mostly) and uses words to create images of beautiful women and other human beings who do and say interesting, meaningful things. No actors needed.

But Stevens has no plan to redirect her consumption of stories. Well, her job is movie critic, so she can't just say no, can she?

October 13, 2017

"Of all the world’s storied thoroughfares, it must be confessed that none produces quite the effect of Hollywood Boulevard."

"I have been downcast in Piccadilly, chopfallen on the Champs Elysées, and doloroso on the Via Veneto, but the avenues themselves were blameless. Hollywood Boulevard, on the contrary, creates an instant and malignant impression in the breast of the beholder. Viewed in full sunlight, its tawdriness is unspeakable; in the torrential downpour of the rainy season, as we first saw it, it inspired an anguish similar to that produced by the engravings of Piranesi."

S.J. Perelman.

"There’s a lot of abuse in this town. Young actresses are mistreated in all sorts of ways by powerful men..."

"... who can dangle jobs or access to exciting parts of show business. I think a lot of people are mistreated and they don’t realize how badly they’re being mistreated.... People do not want to put their livelihoods at risk... That’s why people like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby get to operate like this for so many decades. The people around them — executives, assistants, drivers — they don’t want to risk everything."

Said producer and director Judd Apatow.

"Everyone knew [about Weinstein’s alleged behavior], just as they know about other high-profile people with power in the industry who get away with the exact same things. This is far-reaching, it is endemic, and we have to believe that the toppling of this mogul will lead to the toppling of others…. This is a bigger issue than taking down one person."

Said Kelly Marcel (a female screenwriter and producer).

(L.A. Times.)

Meanwhile, Rose McGowan has blown off the nondisclosure agreement and is saying that Harvey Weinstein raped her.
In a Twitter thread posted Thursday afternoon, addressed to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, McGowan said, “I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it.”...

(She is reported to be the anonymous actress who pulled out of Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker story, telling him, “The legal angle is coming at me and I have no recourse.”) This week, McGowan asked if she’s “allowed to say rapist,” and in October 2016, she said she was raped by a studio executive. McGowan’s tweets come just after her account was suspended by Twitter Wednesday night.

"The show isn’t afraid to go dark; death is a fact of life, as Springsteen acknowledges..."

"... when he recounts narrowly slipping out of the Vietnam War draft and wonders who might’ve gone in his stead."

From New York Magazine's very positive review of Bruce Springsteen's Broadway show "On Broadway."

He "acknowledges" that "death is a fact of life" when he tells about "narrowly slipping out of the Vietnam War draft"? Springsteen avoided the draft — I'm reading here — by failing the physical "largely due to his deliberately 'crazy' behavior and a concussion previously suffered in a motorcycle accident."

I don't see that as acknowledging that "death is a fact of life." It's more of an acknowledgment that selfishness is a fact of life. But that is credibly called "dark," and it does take some courage to admit to something you did in the past that could be seen as a failure of courage.

ADDED: From the NYT review:
But now, entire swaths of the Walter Kerr Theater, apparently unmindful of downbeat lyrics like “I ain’t nothing but tired,” started clapping along to “Dancing in the Dark,” Mr. Springsteen’s biggest hit, from 1984.

He stopped cold. “I’ll handle it myself,” he said, shutting them down with a small, sharky glint of a smile....
Ha. Great.

"If someone were to look at your entire social media feed, including links and retweets, would they have doubts about your ability to cover news events in a fair and impartial way?"

From "Social Media Guidelines for The Times Newsroom" (NYT).

• In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.

• Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.

"President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage..."

Politico reports.
“Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare,” [Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders] said. “In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments. …The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.”...

While Republican lawmakers complained the subsidies were never properly appropriated by Congress, many were wary of ending them suddenly....

"It's time for Congress to fix this bill. That's what needs to happen. Congress has got to get together," [Attorney General Jeff Sessions] said. "Republicans and the Democrats, they've got to come on board and they've got to develop a plan that will actually work. It can not continue in this fashion. It's in a death spiral it seems to me."
Trump is carrying on the Obama tradition of doing everything in the Executive Branch. The complaints should be directed at Congress.

"I'm a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial. I believe a man shouldn't be condemned by a vigilante system."

"It's not easy what he's going through, either. During that period he was a rival. I never did business with him and didn't really know him. I've heard horror stories on everyone in the business, so I'm not going to comment on gossip. I'll wait and see, which is the right thing to do."

Said Oliver Stone.

I agree on due process and not turning into a lynch mob, but horror stories on everyone in the business? Tell me more. Do you mean that cheap allegations are everywhere or sexual harassment is pervasive?

"[T]his is a real horse and it has been bred to meet the demands of a particular market that likes a particular appearance."

“Where will it end? Is it really so bad for a horse to look like a horse and not a cartoon character?" (UK Telegraph).
The farm described the horse as a step towards ‘perfection’, but equine experts warned the animal may find it difficult to breathe and exercise with such a flattened nose.

UK equine expert Tim Greet of Rossdales Veterinary Service, in Newmarket, said although Arabians were known for their ‘dished’ features, the new colt ‘takes things to a ridiculous level,’ and said the deformity could be even worse for a horse than for a dog.
Notice the effort to distinguish horses and dogs. Clearly, many of us accept the extremes of dog breeding.

Extreme breeding of horses and dogs is...
pollcode.com free polls

"TMZ is privy to Weinstein's 2015 employment contract, which says if he gets sued for sexual harassment or any other 'misconduct' that results in a settlement or judgment against TWC..."

"... all Weinstein has to do is pay what the company's out, along with a fine, and he's in the clear," says TMZ without providing the entire text of the contract.

Notice the focus there is on the use of corporate funds:
According to the contract, if Weinstein "treated someone improperly in violation of the company's Code of Conduct," he must reimburse TWC for settlements or judgments. Additionally, "You [Weinstein] will pay the company liquidated damages of $250,000 for the first such instance, $500,000 for the second such instance, $750,000 for the third such instance, and $1,000,000 for each additional instance."
But we're also told — without enough text from the contract:
The contract says as long as Weinstein pays, it constitutes a "cure" for the misconduct and no further action can be taken. Translation -- Weinstein could be sued over and over and as long as he wrote a check, he keeps his job.
I'd like to see the text there. I can't believe the corporation would put its knowledge and facilitation of an illegal scheme into the text.

We're also told that the text provides that "a material fraud against the company" is a firing offense, so it seems that Weinstein — as he (and his lawyers) pressured the company not to fire him — must have said that the scheme was well known, so there was no fraud. It's easier to imagine behind-the-scenes negotiations in these terms than actually going to court with such arguments, but just as Weinstein settled with his accusers, he was a deal-maker, not a litigator. As for the board, they have to worry that they have spiraling liabilities now. What they owe or don't owe Weinstein seems to be the least of it. We saw board members suddenly resigning last week, which might just have been to make it look as though they were shocked, shocked to learn what Weinstein was up to. But if the contract is what TMZ makes it sound like, then didn't they know all along?

Again, I'm not seeing the whole text of the contract, and I'd like to know a lot more about how the different terms fit together, but it's really hard to understand why this thing was written like that. I suppose it could be argued that Weinstein needed protection from false accusations (and perhaps there was a background understanding that there would inevitably be many disappointed supplicants for his favor and it's predictable that some would take revenge with accusations about sexual things that happen when they were alone with him).

"For Nationals, a crazy night ends with anguish and a season-ending loss to Cubs."

WaPo headline. (Am I being too pedantic if I complain about "season-ending"?)
Four straight Cubs reached base in unconventional ways, some known only to true baseball seam heads — an intentional walk, a strikeout with a passed ball (about which there was some controversy), catcher interference and a hit batsman. The website baseball-reference.com has 2.73 million half-innings in its database. None of them contain those four events — let alone from four consecutive hitters.
“That was probably one of the weirdest innings I’ve ever seen,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said.

Also in WaPo: "All defeats are not created equal. For Nats, this one is a special kind of painful."
[I]n the new world of baseball challenges and replays, doing things that would have been satisfactory since the 19th century is no longer good enough. Lobaton’s foot came off the base for an instant. The Cubs challenged. And he was ruled “out” after the crowd of 43,849 waited in agony for 96 seconds.

“I thought I was safe. I didn’t know my foot came off,” said Lobaton, adding later, “That’s baseball. You got to win. You got to lose. And you got to take it.”

For now, “and you got to take it” may have to be the Nationals motto after six seasons with the talent to contend for a World Series spot, but not even one year in the National League Championship Series....

"Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?"

Asks a headline for a long NYT Magazine article.

From the comments there, here are 4 answers:

1. "The bar to get into a top college has been raised so high it requires our children to perform Herculean feats before they are even adults."

2. "Let's face the truth--Social media is toxic. Possession of smart phones should be illegal under 21 years of age."

3. "How much of this correlates with the rather recent development that middle class children go nowhere without an adult nearby until they are teenagers?"

4. "The economic security and growing prosperity Americans used to enjoy has disappeared."

What's the best answer? (You can pick multiple answers, but don't pick all 4 or there's no point in voting.)
pollcode.com free polls

Husband, 70, and wife, 65, trapped by the wildfire, survive by getting in a swimming pool (and freezing for 6 hours).

They waited as long as they could before getting in the water: "As they stood at the edge of the pool, the neighbors’ house caught fire. A big tree next to the pool went up in flames. The railroad ties framing the concrete steps leading to the pool ignited."
They submerged themselves in the blackened, debris-filled water. They had grabbed T-shirts to hold over their faces to protect themselves from embers when they surfaced for air. They moved to the part of the pool farthest from the house. John was worried about having to tread water, or hanging on to the side, which could be dangerous with all the burning objects flying around. Blessedly, the pool had no deep end. It was about 4 feet deep all the way across. To stay warm, they held each other. They stood back to back. They spoke about their deep love for each other and their family.
Fabulous. Beautiful. But they should have evacuated sooner! They got into bed for the night when they knew the fire was only 11 miles away. Their daughter in San Francisco had called to urge them to evacuate, but all they did was put some valuables — including 2 carefully wrapped Dale Chihuly bowls — in the truck.  When the fire arrived, they had no path to drive the truck out (though they tried, with not just the truck but a Mercedes-Benz car).

The whole neighborhood burned down, including their house, which was the kind of house you'd invent if you were writing a fictional story of an old couple stuck in this predicament:
Their mountaintop home was built like a boat with small rooms on 11 levels. It was filled with dozens of John’s paintings. Each room was designed to remind them of places they’d encountered during their travels. One had tatami mats, an idea from a restaurant in Bangkok. Their bedroom was inspired by a house they’d rented on Thailand’s Ko Samui Island. Their expansive decks, the site of countless parties over nearly four decades, offered spectacular views of the hills.
Maybe some movie company can rebuild the house for them, exactly as it was, film a movie about their story in it, and then give it to them. It would have to be on a different mountain though.

October 12, 2017

At the Thinker Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

The photo shows the most popular sculpture in the new Alumni Park (at the Memorial Union at the University of Wisconsin). I know there have been a lot of protests about statues lately, but hopefully Bucky won't raise any hackles.

While you're here, please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Sorry the photo isn't better. It's very hard to get a chance to photograph the statue without people sitting on it, doing their me-and-Bucky photos. The other day I was looking closely at Bucky's backpack, trying to figure out why it has hinges on one side and a lock on there other — is it a time capsule? — and some lady told me I needed to move because I was standing within the frame of a photograph that needed to be taken by someone who'd waited in line to pose their children on the badger's lap.

"With these actions... we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market..."

"... and taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare... This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for... and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care."

Said President Trump, quoted in "Foiled in Congress, Trump Signs Order to Undermine Obamacare" (NYT).
Mr. Trump directed three cabinet agencies to develop rules that would expand access to less expensive, less comprehensive insurance, including policies that could be sold by trade associations to their members and short-term medical coverage that could be offered by commercial insurers to individuals and families....

Mr. Trump’s order could eventually make it easier for small businesses to band together and buy insurance through new entities known as association health plans, which could be created by business and professional groups. A White House official said these health plans “could potentially allow American employers to form groups across state lines” — a goal championed by Mr. Trump and many other Republicans.

"The Boy Scouts’ decision to open its ranks to girls appears to be less an evolution toward openness and inclusion than a calculated business strategy."

"The move allows the organization, which has been rocked by revelations of decades of sexual abuse, to improve its public image.... Most crucially, it’s a direct attack on the Girl Scouts, a group that shares some historical roots with the Boy Scouts but has grown into a very different organization, with very different values. Unlike the Boy Scouts, in which individual troops are overwhelmingly affiliated with churches — a large share are tied to conservative denominations; an estimated 20 percent of scouts are Mormon, for instance — the Girl Scouts are a secular organization.... The Girl Scouts have long focused on social justice, diversity and inclusion in their activities...."

From a NYT op-ed titled "Girls, Don’t Become Boy Scouts," by Kate Tuttle.

If I were a young girl, I'd pick the organization that had activities that were fun and useful for me to learn, and "social justice, diversity and inclusion" doesn't even sound like an activity.

Arctic foxes are great... even before they attack the camera.

"How Top NBC Executives Quashed The Bombshell Harvey Weinstein Story."

From HuffPo:
At an NBC News town hall Wednesday, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said: “The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us. We were on that long list of places that chased this thing, tried to nail it, but weren’t ultimately the ones who broke it.”

Then he struck a rueful tone, suggesting that the NBC iteration of the story had died of natural causes. “We reached a point over the summer where we, as an organization, didn’t feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air,” he said.

Yet interviews with 12 people inside and outside NBC News with direct knowledge of the reporting behind Farrow’s story suggest a different cause of death. All of the sources who spoke to HuffPost asked not to be named, either because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media about the story or because they were fearful of retribution from NBC News executives. These sources detailed a months-long struggle within NBC News during which Oppenheim and other executives slow-walked Farrow’s story, crippling it with their qualms and irresolution....

"A CNN investigation of a Russian-linked account shows its tentacles extended to YouTube, Tumblr and even Pokémon Go."

CNN reports.
The campaign, titled "Don't Shoot Us," offers new insights into how Russian agents created a broad online ecosystem where divisive political messages were reinforced across multiple platforms...

The Don't Shoot Us campaign... used these platforms to highlight incidents of alleged police brutality, with what may have been the dual goal of galvanizing African Americans to protest and encouraging other Americans to view black activism as a rising threat....

Specifically, the Don't Shoot Us contest directed readers to go to find and train Pokémon near locations where alleged incidents of police brutality had taken place. Users were instructed to give their Pokémon names corresponding with those of the victims.... It's unclear what the people behind the contest hoped to accomplish....
Okay. Well, tentacles sound really scary...

"I'm so sick of ads using overly feely music to manipulate us so I changed the music. Now instead of feeling sappy emotions you shall feel terror!"

"First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else."

"The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other. The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline. The end result is a sort of malaise that pervades the entire institution. Nothing matters anymore. Cadets know this, and it has given rise to a level of cadet arrogance and entitlement the likes of which West Point has never seen in its history...."

From "Exclusive: Former West Point professor’s letter exposes corruption, cheating and failing standards [Full letter]" (American Military News).

"The woman at first seems angry that she is being filmed but as a shocked crowd gathers around her, she ignores them and carries on eating."

"She painstakingly skins the cat and then slices off pieces of its body before popping them in her mouth."

Starving in Venezuela (Daily Mail).

"Weinstein Company Was Aware of Payoffs in 2015."

Megan Twohey reports in The NYT.
David Boies, a lawyer who represented Mr. Weinstein when his contract was up for renewal in 2015, said in an interview that the board and the company were made aware at the time of three or four confidential settlements with women.

And in the waning hours of last week, as he struggled to retain control of the business in the wake of allegations first reported by The New York Times, Harvey Weinstein fired off an email to his brother and other board members asserting that they knew about the payoffs, according to people who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the confidential communication....

[A]n outside lawyer, H. Rodgin Cohen... assured the board in a September 2015 letter that it was legally safe to retain Mr. Weinstein because there were no unresolved complaints or threats of litigation against him, according to two people who saw the letter and spoke on the condition of anonymity....
Big legal names.

(Half a lifetime ago, I worked in a law firm with H. Rodgin Cohen.)

"Harvey Weinstein’s wife is leaning on Huma Abedin."

Does that work? Huma seems incredibly unleanable on.

But I'd love to blog a transcript of their conversation.

Hillary Clinton lauds "the courage of these women coming forward now."

She says — and I had to keep pausing the video to laugh and to say things like "What hypocrisy!" — it "is really important because it can’t just end with one person’s disgraceful behavior and the consequences that he is now facing. This has to be a wake-up call and shine a bright spotlight on anything like this behavior anywhere, at any time. We’ve had a series of revelations about companies in Silicon Valley — you know, just sexual harassment and sexual assault being, you know, kind of accepted. That’s the cutting edge of our economy. … This can’t be tolerated anywhere, whether it’s entertainment or tech or" — politics? — "anywhere."

IN THE COMMENTS: Dickin'Bimbos@Home said "Harvey bundled big D-money for you, Hillary - Any Comment on that, Hillary?"

Watch the video. I didn't blog about that part, but it's in there. She says she can't give the money back, but whatever she got should be deemed included in the 10% of her income she always gives to charity anyway. I'm paraphrasing — to make it clearer. What she garbled out was:
"What other people [how got money from Harvey Weinstein] are saying, what my former colleagues are saying, is they're going to donate it to charity, and of course I will do that. I give 10% of my income to charity every year, this will be part of that. There's no -- there's no doubt about it."

Race-targeted ads for Toyota Camry — don't miss the one that's for white people.

This is from the NYT — "Different Ads, Different Ethnicities, Same Car" — where you can watch all the ads if you want. Click to enlarge:

The obviously targeted ones might be offensive or embarrassing:
The ad from Burrell, an agency that has specialized in African-American consumers... features... [t]he image of a peacock...

“Traditionally, Asian fathers show less emotion and affection toward their kids,” [said the executive at the agency that made the ad for Asian-Americans]. “We wanted to show that driving the Camry brought out a different side of an Asian dad...”...

When Toyota’s agencies gathered, they concluded that...  the Hispanic consumer sought “some guardrails”... a sense of responsibility, particularly to family, she said, adding that “internally, we called it ‘soaring with sense.’”
But what about white people? We're not talked about openly. We're hidden from ourselves inside this weird concept: "transcultural mainstream." Even the agency won't admit that this is the ad for white people:
“There is no Caucasian market,” said Mark Turner, chief strategy officer of Saatchi & Saatchi, who is white. “The mainstream market as defined by any mass marketer like Toyota actually comprises many different cultures, so we’re not the Caucasian agency. We’re the agency that caters to the transcultural mainstream.”
Here's that ad:

There's a limit to how long Trump will put up with Puerto Rico leaning on the federal government.

Here's how he puts it on Twitter this morning:
"Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making." says Sharyl Attkisson. A total lack of.....

...accountability say the Governor. Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes. Congress to decide how much to spend....

We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!
That gave Chuck Schumer the opening to play the race card:
"Why do you continue to treat Puerto Ricans differently than other Americans when it comes to natural disasters?"
Is it different? Doesn't matter. The question is enough. Trump is tweeting and Schumer is tweeting. Somebody ought to speak clearly and factually about where the line is between the preexisting financial crisis and the hurricane that landed on top of it and whether the 2 disasters should be merged or not. Is there some other natural disaster in recent American history that compares to this problem?

I'd like to see some serious analysis, not just back-and-forth Twitter slapping.

"All of you Hollywood 'A-list' golden boys are LIARS. We have just begun. #ROSEARMY."

Rose McGowan was on fire on Twitter these last few days...
@benaffleck “GODDAMNIT! I TOLD HIM TO STOP DOING THAT” you said that to my face. The press conf I was made to go to after assault. You lie.
... but now: "Rose McGowan Suspended From Twitter After Ben Affleck Tweet" (NYT).
It was not clear which tweets had resulted in the suspension. However, on Tuesday, after Mr. Affleck tweeted that the allegations against Mr. Weinstein “made him sick,” Ms. McGowan called him a liar, saying he had long been aware of what Mr. Weinstein had done.
There's still Instagram:
By suspending her, Twitter created evidence that confirms suspicions that there is a conspiracy of silence surrounding the people who enabled Harvey Weinstein. The evidence — suspending McGowan — can be interpreted in different ways. It might be that Twitter has neutral rules and would suspend anybody who attacks anybody as specifically and severely as Rose McGowan attacked Ben Affleck, but I think Twitter is foolish to take down Rose McGowan, when it lets President Trump take his shots.

Here's what Twitter PublicPolicy said about not censoring Trump's tweeted attacks on Kim Jong-Un:
We hold all accounts to the same Rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules

Among the considerations is "newsworthiness" and whether a Tweet is of public interest

This has long been internal policy and we'll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will 

Twitter is committed to transparency and keeping people informed about what's happening in the world

We’ll continue to be guided by these fundamental principles
So, the same rules for everybody includes a rule with an exception: newsworthiness.

The system of facilitating and protecting Harvey Weinstein is newsworthy, and Rose McGowan has personal experience and passionate energy giving something important to those of us who read and comment on Twitter.

If you don't apply your exceptions in a neutral fashion, they're not exceptions. They're loopholes.

ADDED: Right now, Rose McGowan's Twitter is working for me. And — for balance — here's Ben Affleck's Twitter feed. The top post is:
I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize
The above-linked NYT story does not mention "Ms. Burton."

You can get more background on Burton — Hilarie Burton — in this Daily Mail piece: "'I would also love to get an apology from Ben Affleck': Makeup artist now claims Batman star and Weinstein protégé 'grabbed my a**' at a Golden Globes party' in 2014/Makeup artist, Annamarie Tendler, claims Ben Affleck 'grabbed her a**' in 2014/Tendler said she was attending a Golden Globes party when incident happened/She demanded Affleck apologize for 'pressing his finger in her crack' on Twitter/Affleck recently apologized for groping Hilarie Burton on TRL in 2003/Burton tweeted about the incident in light of Weinstein sex abuse scandal/She wrote 'I didn't forget' on Twitter & said she was forced to 'laugh' off incident/Affleck, who is currently in rehab for alcohol addiction, admitted his 'inappropriate' behavior and apologized to the actress on Twitter/It came hours after Affleck said he was 'saddened and angry' over 'sickening claims' of sexual assault made against his benefactor Weinstein/He was slammed by many, specifically Rose McGowan, who called him a liar."

"Ann Althouse on her personal blog recalls that 'the 1990s began with a heightening of interest in sexual harassment...'"

...I'm quoted in The New York Post.

October 11, 2017

"A boiling river of wine flows underneath smoldering debris at the Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday."

Reports The Daily Mail — with a photograph of the "river" (and other wreckage).

If you can get that wrong, what are the chances you're getting the actually difficult stuff right?

A correction on an article titled "A Surprise From the Supervolcano Under Yellowstone" in the NYT "Science" section:
An earlier version of a home page headline for this article misstated the location of a supervolcano that drives geological activity. It is beneath Yellowstone National Park, not Yosemite.
The article went up yesterday, and the correction is dated today.

Meanwhile, on the subject of the NYT and science, there's an editorial with the headline: "Mr. Trump Nails Shut the Coffin on Climate Relief." It's just such an offputtingly dramatic title. I understand that they mean that the government effort to provide relief from climate change is dead, but death is not enough. It had to be "nails shut the coffin." Yeah, coffin metaphors seem scary — and perhaps seasonally apt (near Halloween) — but there's nothing that's a metaphorical body inside the coffin. Relief is an abstraction. And "climate relief" doesn't even make sense. We will always have a climate. We just have preferences about what kind of climate we like best.

Sorry, I'm just complaining about a headline. The editorial itself says "climate change." And it doesn't mention a coffin. It says "dead." Here:
In March Mr. Trump ordered Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which was aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Mr. Pruitt, a climate denier closely tied to the fossil fuel industry, was only too happy to oblige — boasting to an audience of Kentucky coal miners on Monday that the plan was dead and that “the war on coal is over."
So what's dead — ironically — is a war.  "War" was a metaphor, the other side's metaphor.

Kill war. That sounds like a slogan on a 1960s placard. But I don't think I've seen that slogan. I've seen "Killing for peace is like screwing for virginity."

IN THE COMMENTS: There's some discussion about how that 60s slogan was exactly worded. I've searched around a bit and I'm guessing that it all started with this image, for which I don't have any background information (other than the guess that the bombing in question was Nixon's bombing of Cambodia, which we heard about in 1970):

What will we do with all the time we recoup by not watching football and not watching movies?

What will you do with all the time you save not watching football and movies anymore?
pollcode.com free polls

Who are the women who accepted the deal as offered by Harvey Weinstein? Will their names be kept out of the press? Should they?

I'm listening to the NYT podcast, "The Daily," and today's subject is "Harvey Weinstein’s New Accusers."

The NYT reporter Jodi Kantor described listening to the stories told by Weinstein's accusers:
It's like watching the same movie again and again and again. It appears to have been a system. It was facilitated by so many people. Executives. Very low-level assistants who had to do some of the dirty work. There were a lot of logistics involved. In every case that we documented, according to the women, Weinstein asked to meet with them for a work reason. And in some of the stories we've heard, what the women describe is a very explicit work-for-sex quid pro quo. Other women say that just as Weinstein put the moves on, he essentially name-dropped. He said, Look at what I've done for this one. Or that one. He implied: If you want to succeed in this business, this is what you have to do. If you get intimate with me, I'll be able to make a big star like such-and-such.
Who is such-and-such? Will such-and-such's name be withheld? Obviously, Weinstein could have lied. He could have named the biggest star without it being true that the woman did what he said was a necessary step for a young, beautiful woman to get a role in one of his movies. Indeed, the intimacy test could have worked the other way: If you're pliable enough to give your beautiful body to a horrible man like me, you don't have what it takes.

The very next topic in the podcast is Gwyneth Paltrow, who was Weinstein's biggest female star at that time. We're told she rejected Weinstein's offer.

In quid pro quo, you get what you bargained for, but what if you give and don't get? You can't sue to force Harvey Weinstein to make you a star. Some women who've made accusations got monetary settlements, but these women had to give even more (in the form of nondisclosure agreements). And they seem to have rejected the sex or had it forced on them.

Did anyone accept the arrangement, give the sex willingly, and expect Weinstein to fulfill his end of the bargain? We haven't heard the name of anyone in that position. I assume there are lots of names in this category. Notice that we don't know what they got. Did anyone enter the bargain with eyes-open, deciding it's worth it, and get what she was led to expect?

Weinstein's modus operandi wouldn't work if the open secret included the knowledge that the women who said yes got little or nothing. If Weinstein were lying, using names of women who didn't in fact take the offer, then he was slandering the women he named. Those stars — such as, perhaps, Paltrow — could have brought lawsuits, but there's little reason to believe that the potential for a defamation lawsuit would have stopped a man who was committing so many legal wrongs and getting away with it for 20+ years.

So much silence facilitating so much harm! Should the women who took the bargain and got what they wanted out of it be regarded as victims and entitled to keep their names secret, or are they part of a system that hurt many others, and subject to outing?

"When your subhead thinks you're full of shit."

October 10, 2017

Interest in sexual harassment was suppressed to protect Bill Clinton: Is that part of why Harvey Weinstein got away with his abuses?

The 1990s began with a heightening of interest in sexual harassment as liberals tried to defeat the confirmation of Clarence Thomas. The refrain in the fall of 1991 was "You just don't get it," as Democrats lambasted anyone who resisted taking sexual harassment in the workplace seriously. But in 1998, when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Democrats reversed the message. In the biggest sellout of feminism I've seen in my lifetime, sexual harassment turned into just sex, and those who wanted to take it seriously were derided as prigs.

Now, I'm reading the NYT article "Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Others Say Weinstein Harassed Them/'This way of treating women ends now,' Ms. Paltrow said as she and other actresses accused the producer of casting-couch abuses," and I'm wondering why only now? Why not earlier? What stood in your way?

My hypothesis is that liberals — including nearly everyone in the entertainment business — suppressed concern about sexual harassment to help Bill Clinton. Giving him cover gave cover to other powerful men, and the cause of women's equality in the workplace was set back 20 years.

So I'm looking at the new NYT article and trying to see what the dates are. They're kind of obscure! I'm seeing vague phrases like "in the late 1990s" and "accounts of sexual harassment going back to the 1990s." I am seeing a couple clear dates. First, 1999...
Even as Ms. Paltrow became known as the “first lady of Miramax” and won an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999, very few people knew about Mr. Weinstein’s advances. “I was expected to keep the secret,” she said.
... and 1996:
In 1996, the French actress Judith Godrèche said she was invited up to Mr. Weinstein’s suite, where he asked to give her a massage. After she said no, she recalled, he argued that casual massages were an American custom.
I just want to put this hypothesis out there and encourage people to correlate allegations about Weinstein with the great knowing-and-forgetting process that happened in the 1990s — 1991 and 1998 were the key dates — as the issue of sexual harassment was crushed into whatever shape worked in the interest of Democratic Party power.

Are these allegations coming out now because Hillary Clinton lost the election and the time for covering for Bill Clinton is over at long last?


"I just want you to know how much Bill and I appreciate the things you do for him. Do you understand? Everything you do."/"What really went through my mind at that time is 'She knows. She knew. She's covering it up and she expects me to do the very same thing.'"

The New Yorker exposé of Harvey Weinstein hits.

"From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories/Multiple women share harrowing accounts of sexual assault and harassment by the film executive," by Ronan Farrow.

I haven't seen Drudge put up his siren in a long time. The headline there is: "MAG: THREE WOMEN ACCUSE WEINSTEIN OF RAPE."

First, Farrow excuses the failure of journalists to report the stories that have surrounded Weinstein for more than 20 years:
This has been an open secret to many in Hollywood and beyond, but previous attempts by many publications, including The New Yorker, to investigate and publish the story over the years fell short of the demands of journalistic evidence. Too few women were willing to speak, much less allow a reporter to use their names, and Weinstein and his associates used nondisclosure agreements, monetary payoffs, and legal threats to suppress these myriad stories. Asia Argento, an Italian film actress and director, told me that she did not speak out until now––Weinstein, she told me, forcibly performed oral sex on her—because she feared that Weinstein would “crush” her. “I know he has crushed a lot of people before,” Argento said. “That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old, some of them are older—has never come out.”
The New Yorker story was scooped by the NYT, but Farrow says he's been working on it for 10 months. Presumably the NYT knew the New Yorker story was in the offing and got the jump on it, and Farrow stresses that he talked to 13 women, whose allegations "corroborate and overlap" with what was in the NYT and that he also has "far more serious claims."
Three women––among them Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault. In an audio recording captured during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015 and made public here for the first time, Weinstein admits to groping a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is “used to.” Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them.

Farrow also talked to 4 actresses — including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette — who say that they rebuffed Weinstein and may have been retaliated against.
Farrow says he talked to 16 "former and current executives and assistants at Weinstein’s companies" who said they had seen or knew about sexual assaults by Weinstein. Farrow says there was "a culture of complicity" within these companies, and that employees participated in "subterfuge" to make a young woman feel safe in a meeting and then leave her alone with Weinstein.

There follow detailed descriptions of rape, showing the tactics Weinstein used. You can go to the link to read that. Excerpt:

"Most of us could be photographed from the day of our birth to the day of our death and the film shown, without producing any emotion except boredom and disgust."

"It would all just look like monkeys scratching. How do you feel about your friends’ home movies about their baby or their trip? Isn’t it a godawful bore?"

"Love of the Last Tycoon: The Authorized Text," F. Scott Fitzgerald, F. Scott.

Donald Trump is lashing, rupturing, imperiling, imploding, plunging, laboring, brooding and — to quote Senator Corker — "on the path to World War III."

As reported by Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker in The Washington Post.

If we scroll halfway down the long page, we see that what's prompting the leakage to the press is not so much the threat to America and the world but the threat to the Republican Party:
"We have been watching the slow-motion breakup of the Republican Party, and Trump is doing what he can to speed it up," said Patrick Caddell, a veteran pollster who has worked with Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, who now runs Breitbart News, a conservative website.

"Trump is firmly placing himself on the outside, trying to become an almost independent president," Caddell said. "He knows that many people will be with him, that he helps himself when he's not seen as the Republican president. But what about his program? That's the question — and possibly the cost of what he's doing."...

The president has groused to numerous White House aides about his concerns over his popularity with "my people" — his base. He blames the Republican establishment and others for failing to enact his agenda and making him look feckless...

Trump's political calculus is complicated by Bannon's return to his previous role at the helm of Breitbart. Now working to forward a nationalist agenda from outside the confines of the administration, Bannon has vowed war against any Republican lawmakers he believes are insufficiently conservative or who fail to help push through the agenda he and Trump outlined during the campaign....

"The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning."

I'm reading about that book here...
In Sweden, people start the process as early as their ‘50s, slowly but steadily decluttering as the years roll by...

“My motto is, if you don’t love it, lose it. If you don’t use it, lose it,” [Margareta] Magnusson tells me. (She loves a motto, the book is full of them. My favourite, when discussing how to deal with your secret vices, is this gem: “Save your favourite dildo, but throw away the other 15!”)

Death cleaning isn’t the story of death and its slow, ungainly inevitability. But rather the story of life, your life, the good memories and the bad. “The good ones you keep,” Magnusson says. “The bad you expunge.”
And here...
This reminds me of some appearance Alan Alda made in which he was talking about how his wife would say to him, "We're getting old. We should clean out the closets," and he said, "I don't get this. I say, we're going to be dead, and there are going to be people cleaning out the house after we go. What do we care? Screw them! Let them clean out the closets."
And I'm preordering it on Amazon...
In Swedish there is a word for it: Döstädning, “dö” means “death” and “städning” means “cleaning.” The idea behind death cleaning is to remove unnecessary things and get your home in order as you become older. But this word also can be applied whenever you do a thorough cleaning, to make your life easier and more pleasant. It does not necessarily have to do with age or death....
It's important for people to do this so that someone else doesn't have to. Quite aside from the burden on whoever it would be who would do this for Dead You, it's an invasion of your privacy, and even if you think Dead You cannot experience an invasion of privacy, you are experiencing it right now by thinking about it.

I like that it's presented as Swedish. I've been through the Marie Kondo books, which present de-cluttering as Japanese. I see immense procrastination potential. To read the book is not to do the thing, and there are so many countries in the world. From what sparks joy (Japanese) to you're going to die (Swedish) and onward.

"My board is thinking of firing me. All I’m asking, is let me take a leave of absence and get into heavy therapy and counseling."

"Whether it be in a facility or somewhere else, allow me to resurrect myself with a second chance," begged Harvey Weinstein, in email allegedly sent to "high-level Hollywood executives at the studios, networks and talent agencies" (right before his board did fire him).
A lot of the allegations are false as you know but given therapy and counseling as other people have done, I think I’d be able to get there. 
There? Exactly where? I guess: To the resurrection!
I could really use your support or just your honesty if you can’t support me. But if you can, I need you to send a letter to my private gmail address. The letter would only go to the board and no one else. 
Because privately sent email will stay put, like a penis in a resurrected man's pants. 
We believe what the board is trying to do is not only wrong but might be illegal and would destroy the company. 
Who's "we"?
If you could write this letter backing me, getting me the help and time away I need, and also stating your opposition to the board firing me, it would help me a lot. I am desperate for your help. Just give me the time to have therapy. Do not let me be fired. If the industry supports me, that is all I need. With all due respect, I need the letter today.
It's not as if the executives could give him a legal opinion that might scare the board into thinking they don't have the power to fire him. So what argument does he make that might induce the tycoons to help? He doesn't offer to exercise any power for them. He simply presents himself as a frightened desperate man who wants empathy. Yet there isn't a word of empathy for the women he hurt.

There is a glimmer of inspirational material in the idea of "a second chance." It makes me think of that F. Scott Fitzgerald line from "The Last Tycoon": "There are no second acts in American lives."

There's no context for that line. It appears among fragments for the unfinished book, like this:
My blue dream of being in a basket like a kite held by a rope against the wind. It’s fun to stretch and see the blue heavens spreading once more, spreading azure thighs for adventure.

Girl like a record with a blank on the other side.

There are no second acts in American lives.

Tragedy of these men was that nothing in their lives had really bitten deep at all.
Bald Hemingway characters.

wily plagiarist
exigent overlordship
not one survived the castration

"How do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?"

Donna Karan actually uses the phrase "asking for it" as she defends her friend, the "wonderful" person, Harvey Weinstein.
"Yes, I think he's being looked at right now as a symbol, not necessarily as him. I know his wife, I think they're wonderful people, Harvey has done some amazing things. I think we have to look at our world and what we want to say and how we want to say it as well.... You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble."
What's all this "look at our world"/"everything all over the world" business? It might have something to do with the fact that she was at a benefit for an outfit called Children Uniting Nations. The benefit was in L.A. and she was getting a Designer Icon Award. Her remarks — from the red carpet in L.A. — had a preface that purported to take the viewpoint of "the world":
"I think we have to look at ourselves. Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it's been a hard time for women. To see it here in our own country is very difficult...."
Maybe she imagined herself on high ground where she could spout critique about white privilege.

October 9, 2017

50 years ago today: Che Guevara said "I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, you are only going to kill a man.”

He'd been captured in Bolivia the day before and taken to a schoolhouse, WaPo recounts.
Félix Rodríguez, a Cuban American CIA operative posing as a Bolivian military officer, would find him covered in dirt inside that schoolhouse the next day. His hair was matted, his clothes were torn and filthy, and his arms and feet were bound. The U.S. government wanted him alive to be interrogated, but Bolivian leaders decided that Guevara must be executed, fearing a public trial would only garner him sympathy. The official story would be that he was killed in battle.

Rodríguez, who was instrumental in Guevara’s capture, had mixed emotions at that time, as he acknowledged later in an interview. Here was a man who had assassinated many of his countrymen, Rodríguez said, and yet he felt “sorry for him.”

Then, he told the guerrilla leader that he was about to die. “I looked at him straight in the face, and I just told him. . . . He looked straight to me and said: ‘It’s better this way. I should have never been captured alive,’ ” Rodríguez recalled during a “60 Minutes” interview years later.

The two men shook hands. “He embraced me. I embraced him,” Rodríguez said. Then Rodríguez left, ordering a soldier to shoot below the neck because that would fit the official story that Guevara had died in combat....
The next day, his body was displayed to the world and Freddy Alborta took this photograph titled "The passion of the Che”:

What does Ivana Trump think about "the fact that President Trump often uses Twitter to name call?"

What if she heard her children "call someone a 'loser'"?

"I think they sometimes call the people losers. If they are losers, they are losers, okay? And I don't mind it."

"A liberal-leaning industry, we have been quick to condemn Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes and, yes, the president."

"We do not accept sexual abuse as 'locker room talk.' So why the deafening silence, particularly from the industry’s men, when one of our own is outed as having a nasty taste for humiliating and traumatizing women?... In the fall of 2016, I performed at a benefit for Hillary Clinton organized by the Weinstein Company. I had heard the rumors. I felt that going onstage under his aegis was a betrayal of my own values. But I wanted so desperately to support my candidate that I made a calculation. We’ve all made calculations, and saying we’re sorry about those calculations is not an act of cowardice. It’s an essential change of position that could shift the way we do business and the way women regard their own position in the workplace. I’m sorry I shook the hand of someone I knew was not a friend to women in my industry...."

Writes Lena Dunham (NYT).

Laboring on the mural...

... at the rebuilt Catholic Church on Library Mall here in Madison, photographed today. The long view, with the Bible verse...


... and the closeup, with a view of the painter:


ADDED: I’m told it’s not painting but mosaic.

"A white paper cover now covers the sculpture of Christopher Columbus and the block it stands on, and the entire display is now surrounded by a chain-link fence."

In L.A.'s Grand Park today — Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples Day.

"Even on campus, where the modern diversity doctrine was fashioned, Berrey found that the doctrine itself was hard to define."

"The prevailing wisdom seemed to be that 'racial minorities' were 'culturally distinct from but culturally equivalent to white people.' (The cultural differences were considered real enough to make diversity valuable but not real enough to explain, say, disparities in academic achievement.) At one point, Michigan’s admissions-office Web site pictured a welter of enthusiastic believers, including a student who declared, 'Diversity is one of the issues I’m most passionate about.” In a book called 'The Diversity Bargain,' another scholar, Natasha K. Warikoo, concludes that students at Harvard have fully internalized the logic of diversity as an engine of mutual profit. 'Interaction with peers of color is a resource some white students feel entitled to—or sometimes wrongly deprived of,' she writes. 'To many white students, minority students do not hold up their end of the diversity bargain when they join the Black Students Association or sit together in the cafeteria.'"

From "The Limits of 'Diversity'/Where affirmative action was about compensatory justice, diversity is meant to be a shared benefit. But does the rationale carry weight?" by Kelefa Sanneh in The New Yorker.

The insult "materialistic" is on the decline.

Just something I've noticed, and it checks out on Ngram.

"Melania is there and I don't want to cause any kind of jealousy or anything like that because I'm the first Trump wife. I'm the first lady, ok?"

Ivana Trump said.

Funniest thing I've read since they've found "Santa Claus's tomb."

Wisconsin fashion update — men's division.

The men in shorts have all moved on from cargo to denim cut-offs:


And the thing about a visor — as opposed to a cap — is that you can not only wear it backwards...


... you can wear it upside down.

(And it was great the way the Packers won the game last night.)

The comments on the NYT piece "Where Can You Park a Tiny Home?" are completely out of sync...

... with the tone of the article. The article is all empathetic to the tiny houselers. Boldface added:
For some, flouting zoning restrictions is an accepted, even celebrated, aspect of a culture that rejects the American appetite for big houses, rampant consumption and excess stuff. “It’s one of the last things we have where you can kind of stick it to the man,” Marcus Stoltzfus, a co-owner of Liberation Tiny Homes, near Lancaster, Pa., said with a smile.

In the right setting, illicit tiny-house dwellers can usually get away with it. “If it’s off the road and you’re on good terms with your neighbors, you probably won’t have an issue,” said Dave Cramer, an owner of Hudson River Tiny Homes, in the Albany area....

For the time being... finding a place to live long-term in a tiny house requires creativity, flexibility and considerable networking....
But the comments are not accepting the Creative Rebels template:

1. "What is completely missed by the author, and ignored by the tiny home advocates, is that the building codes exist for a reason. There are very important reasons we have, for example, 2 doors, indoor plumbing, fire resistant walls between kitchens and dwellings, ventilation in bathrooms and a whole bunch of other lessons that have been written in blood."

2. "To live in a tiny home and tread lightly on the planet, rent or buy a tiny home stacked with many others and located in a walkable neighborhood near public transit so you can sell your car. In other words, move to an apartment. It's a healthier and greener way to live than plopping a tiny home down on your own lot in the country."

3. "Nice desire to live 'off the grid' with no municipal regulation or overhead. But that's no reason to be exempt from tax and regulation while tapping into private or municipal services illegally, and there needs to be regulation of fire and safety codes as well as sewage disposal for the sake of others, and documentation about sale and resale for safety reasons. And all should have to meet insurance standards and be insured, just like everybody else in everyday America. Expensive but true."

The word "tax" doesn't appear in the article, which does, however, mention the wheels on the house: "Most tiny homes are built on wheeled trailers that can be towed. Unlike R.V.s, however, tiny houses are generally not wheeled for touring, so much as for flexibility of location." Flexibility of location or tax avoidance?

One thing cannot be clarified: "One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew."

Says the statement issued under the name Meryl Streep. I don't know from whose mind these words sprang, but the statement continues:
Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally.
So some, but not others, got respectful treatment. That doesn't make the behavior better. It makes it worse. It's discriminatory.
I didn’t know about these other offenses: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts.
Why didn't you know what was convenient for you not to know? Was it willful blindness? Did you have any hints, but avoid learning these details? If so, you had an obvious self-interest in standing aloof. You could, on the other hand, just be lying, but for the sake of argument, I'm assuming that the statement is true and looking at the ways in which it is cagey and self-protective. 
And If everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it.
The cagiest part of this writing is the phrase "everybody knew." If only one person didn't know, then not everybody knew. So it's easy to stand firmly on the trivial technicality that not everybody knew... especially since so many people had a personal interest in staying in the dark and not following up on the clues. But many people knew, and yet the matter was suppressed for many years. The "investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media" were neglectful, and the failure of everybody to know doesn't overcome the inference of neglect. And, indeed, there is neglect in the not knowing in some cases, such as, perhaps, yours, Meryl Streep.
The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.
Blech. You should have spoken out when it mattered. Before the bubble burst. Speak out about somebody else. The abuse of power is familiar, you say. All right, then. You there on the inside, Meryl, you raise your brave voice, if you have one. Otherwise, this after-the-fact statement is just an inadequate effort to cover your own ass and of a piece with the ignorance of the facts that served your interest before the story hit the news.

"SNL" had a Harvey Weinstein joke, but nixed it. Why? Lorne Michaels said "It’s a New York thing."

The NYT reports.

That makes Michaels look like he's overly familiar with sexual harassment or that he thinks it's sophisticated to condone it. Why would he want to look like that?

Meanwhile, at The Wrap, Sharon Waxman tells about her work at the NYT, back in 2004, preparing an exposé about Weinstein...
I traveled to Rome and tracked down the man who held the plum position of running Miramax Italy. According to multiple accounts, he had no film experience and his real job was to take care of Weinstein’s women needs, among other things.... I had people on the record telling me Lombardo knew nothing about film, and others citing evenings he organized with Russian escorts....

The story I reported never ran. After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story... was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?
Was that "a New York thing"?

Is Harvey Weinstein a freakish outlier, or was he doing what many other powerful men are doing?

I've been doing a lot of posts on Weinstein, and one type of comment I've been seeing minimizes the importance of what he's doing because it's just business as usual — the way it's always been. Like I'm unsophisticated to care. Like I just don't get a New York thing.

But it's more important if it's systemic and widespread. It's not enough to kick out Weinstein because he went too far and his story finally made it into print. Let's get the whole story out in the open, the story that includes all the covering for Weinstein, including all the bias injected by men who were keen on preserving male privilege and the subordination of women — in the entertainment business, in journalism, and in politics.

October 8, 2017

How does an ad like this happen?

They must not have perceived how it looks.

Was Dove saying that inside every black woman is a smiling redheaded white woman? Was Dove invoking the centuries-old stereotype that black is dirty and white is pure? Or that black skin can or should be cleansed away?...
I doubt it!
The Dove brand sheepishly admitted that it had “missed the mark” with a not-so-vaguely racist advertisement that has made it the latest target of consumer rage.
I think that must be true. True and bad. But who could believe the alternative?

ADDED: I think the images in the tweet are screen shots and that to understand the idea that led to the ad, we should be looking at video. This gives some idea of the effect (which includes a third woman, with a intermediate skin tone after the white woman). I'm guessing that the idea was that transforming from one race to another was thought to show racial harmony, as clearly happens in the famous face-morphing sequence in the Michael Jackson video "Black or White":

"Harvey Weinstein Fired From The Weinstein Company."

The Wrap reports.

Internally, Weinstein continued to fight for his survival, insiders have told TheWrap. His advisors — including his brother Bob — told him that he needed to take the allegations seriously and not merely pay lip service. They wanted him to leave for six months and get treatment for sex addiction or whatever his unacceptable behavior would be designated.

Weinstein told TheWrap in an interview on Thursday that he was sincere in his apology and intention to make amends. But reports continued to leak out of the company that the CEO was determined to dictate the terms of his leave of absence and treatment.

The board became increasingly concerned about the company’s survival and were in the midst of negotiating a deal on Saturday and Sunday for Weinstein to resign. That deal apparently fell apart on Sunday, and the board issued the termination notice, bringing an extraordinary end to the career of one of Hollywood’s most powerful moguls....

There are lots of cool details at the new Alumni Park at the UW campus.




Take a closer look:

Rachel Maddow describes how she puts her show together as "a bad process."

"It’s impressive in one way," she says (to The New Yorker's Janet Malcolm), about starting the workday "at around 12:30 p.m., when she acquaints herself with the day’s news," meeting with the staff at 2:00, reading until about 6:30, and only then writing the monologue.

It's "reckless," she says.
"It kills my poor staff. They’re so supportive and constructive. But it’s too much to ask. They need to put in all the visual elements and do the fact-checking and get it into the teleprompter. It’s a produced thing and requires everybody to do everything fast. And it’s a broken process. If I could just get it done an hour earlier, I think I would put ten years back in the lives of all the people who work with me."
She can't move the process to start earlier in the day because, she says, "you can only have your brain lit up for that long before it starts to break down and you stop making sense and stop being creative."

I greatly enjoyed the article, partly because I love Janet Malcolm. I particularly loved the description of a correction Maddow once did, which I wanted to find in video. Ah. Here:

ADDED: If the video won't work for you, go here.