October 28, 2017

Mulling Mueller.

I've got nothing to say, because it hasn't happened, but here...
... in case you feel the need to talk about it.

Did Dana Milbank not understand that he was working with a man who was sexually harassing women?

He says he didn't, in "A #MeToo for clueless men" (WaPo), but he wasn't "clueless," if there were clues, and he says it outright "there were clues." He says it, but then, weirdly, doesn't enumerate clues about anything that was done to put a disparate burden on women at The New Republic.

Milbank purports to have seen only a gender-neutral problem:
I knew that Wieseltier could be a bully. At editorial meetings, he would harshly cut down those he didn’t like. I was advised before I took the job that if I wanted to get ahead at the New Republic, I needed to be on his good side. He would protect those he held in favor and sink those he didn’t. I was one of those he protected. I think he liked me. I liked, and greatly admired, him.
Milbank denies that he was part of "a conspiracy of silence." Rather, it was "a cone of ignorance."

Come on, Mr. Milbank. Give me a break. How did you get into a "cone of ignorance"? You're supposed to be a journalist, and yet you lacked basic awareness of the environment in which you worked, and you claim to know nothing about the precise matter that would make you look bad now that you know you got the advantage of the favor of this man who was (allegedly) making the workplace unequal for women?

Why should we believe that? I can see that you want us to believe that because it is powerfully in your interest, but that's a reason not to believe you. You say you "knew that the magazine was a boys’ club." You took advantage of the boy's club and, at best, you pulled a cone of ignorance onto your head* so you wouldn't have to think you were wrongfully benefiting. Today, you have a lovely platform at The Washington Post. Why do you deserve that, you with the Cone of Ignorance?
My friend Franklin Foer, a former editor, recalls being uncomfortable with Wieseltier’s lewd comments when he first arrived at the magazine. But “they just seemed accepted. I said nothing — and certainly didn’t think hard enough about how those remarks would be suggestive of private behavior or created a hostile environment.”

Maybe this is because Foer and I were both members in good standing of the same boys’ club. “One of the byproducts of benefiting from male privilege is that it blinds you to the costs of the system,” Foer continues. “I abstractly understood this and even tried to combat it. But the toll wasn’t evident to me until now.”
Oh, bullshit. The "toll" is that you now are experiencing a burden — exposure as a man who knew or willfully blinded himself and not only did nothing to help, but accepted benefits for yourself at the expense of others.

So now, when it is in your interest, you're doing what you can, which seems to be to accept a carefully designed form of blame, which is no more blame than the story that has broken is forcing upon you.


* I'm picturing something like a dunce cap or a KKK hood, but perhaps it's not headgear:

Cone of Ignorance from Clark on Vimeo.

At Daisy's Café...


... you can run all over the place.

(And if you need to shop, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"Was this meant for a comment on the GOP? It sounds like talk to text gone wild"/"Love this--reminds me of Waiting for Godot! Truly, we live in absurd times!"

Comments on a comment that's rated #1 on a NYT article titled "As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up."

Here's the comment that's delighting everyone:
Zero optimism that the Democrats can ever regain hello hi oh you’re there are you outside oh well let me come to the door I’m icing my knee and I’m hard boiling some eggs I’ll turn them off and then will do our meeting yet out that that will be fine I’m Normans out doing some errands and he knows you’re coming so he’ll just go down to the cave I was down in the Cape myself this morning by getting so let me get up because I’m right now sort of trapped in my chair and then I’ll put the ice pack back on when you get here OK thanks bye-bye
New York Magazine highlights the comment and the later comment explaining it:
“I was composing a message using the autospeak, and a friend arrived early to my house,” she wrote in a reply further down the thread. “I had no idea all that drivel was being recorded — there are even errors in the drivel! And then to be a pick, with about 15 emails announcing such, meant that my email went rogue. Yes, folks,” she added. “I guess I do sound like Sarah Palin here!”
Oh, a gratuitous swipe at Palin. She needs to go back on autospeak, where she was charming as hell. And maybe give a little thought to why (some) people like Sarah Palin so much. It's the freedom, the spriteliness. Maybe try it on purpose some time.

By the way, "I’m right now sort of trapped in my chair..." is more "Endgame" than "Godot"...

"The 'shitty media men' list wasn’t made to be a bludgeon. When the anonymous, crowdsourced Google spreadsheet was first created earlier this month..."

"... to collect anonymous reports of alleged sexual abusers, harassers, and general creeps in the New York City media and publishing sphere, it was presented, and understood by its creators, more as a shield than as a weapon — a tool to help women to protect themselves from men they should avoid. It was highly and admittedly unreliable — 'take everything with a grain of salt,' it said at the top, and 'if you see a man you’re friends with, don’t freak out' — but it was also private, meant to be shared quietly and directly between women the way whispered warnings always have been. This model, of course, didn’t work for very long. For about 24 hours, the list circulated as it was intended to, among a fairly small number of women...."

New York Magazine reports.


Recently published words in the Oxford English Dictionary:
auger, v.
mirch, n.
disacceptance, n.
aulicism, n.
1. Don't confuse "auger" with "augur." To "auger" (the verb) is what you do with an "auger" (the noun). To "auger" is to bore a hole. To "augur" is to "forecast from signs or omens."

2. "Mirch" is based on "mirc," the Hindi word for pepper. It's just the pepper in Indian cooking, and it's also figurative for intense feeling, as in "Adding mirch to the masala is a politician..who takes the..police to task" (from Times of India, 1990).

3. "Disacceptance" you can easily figure out, but why would you need this word instead of "refusal" or "rejection"? Maybe it works to get some aloofness or archness, or maybe sometimes you like the way it looks in phrases like "God's acceptance or disacceptance of things is... proportionable to his judgment" (a1652 J. Smith Select Disc. (1660) vii. v. 325).

4. "Aulicism." This is a rare word that means "A courtly expression or turn of phrase" or — and this is a historical usage — "A tendency or attitude amongst clergymen to become attached to the secular ways and values of court, or to seek political influence and power, at the expense of devotion to religious and spiritual matters."

"When a young woman started work at the New Republic, she would be swept into Leon’s glittering welcome wagon."

"Maybe it would be lunch at one of his favorite haunts (The Palm, back in his heyday) or a cozy chat (and maybe a sip of bourbon) in his office. The venue shifted, but the purpose was constant: to gauge the newest member of the family’s potential as a playmate. For Leon, women fell on a spectrum ranging from Humorless Prig to Game Girl, based on how much of his sexual banter, innuendo, and advances she would put up with. Once he figured out where to place you, all else flowed from there.... As woman after woman has stressed, Leon’s was not a Harvey Weinstein or Roger Ailes type of predation. No one I spoke with was ever physically afraid of him. Yes, some feared his ability to make their life miserable and ruin their future.... At the same time, many women longed to be in what one called 'the sunlight' of Good Leon. Complicating matters, the owner of the magazine during my tenure, Martin Peretz, had a reputation as a scorching sexist (a tale for another day), and the magazine was seen as something of a boys’ club. Leon always presented himself as a champion of women, which in many cases he was: He helped some women fine-tune pieces, he introduced them to famous and powerful people, he helped them find jobs a step up the career ladder.... As a senior political writer, I didn’t look to Leon for mentoring. Even so, I wanted to stay in his good graces—not merely because I feared Bad Leon, but because Good Leon could be, yes, incomparably charming, funny, and brilliant. I rationalized that I could handle the rest and that his low-level lechery was simply the cost."

From "Leon Wieseltier: A Reckoning/Women who once worked at The New Republic reflect on their experiences with the legendary literary editor, who is now facing allegations of workplace 'misconduct,'" by Michelle Cottle (in The Atlantic).

Let's watch Trump do his Halloween photo op with the children of White House reporters.

Of course, he'll get a few things a little off, and the game is, of course, to find them and use them as much as possible to prove, once again, what a bad person he is:

The New York Times puts it this way:
“I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children,” President Trump marveled, surrounded in the Oval Office by the Halloween-costumed offspring of White House reporters. “How the media did this, I don’t know.”

The children stared vacantly. The candy had not yet arrived.

For some 180 seconds on Friday, these visitors inspired a quintessential Trump performance — part executive gripe session, part grandfatherly charm, part open-mic night for the under-12 set....

“These are beautiful, wonderful children,” he began, pausing for a beat behind his desk. “Ughhh. You going to grow up to be like your parents?”
When the candy arrives, he hands it out saying: “Who likes this?And you have no weight problems. That’s the good news, right?”

Yeah, but how did Obama handle Halloween? I looked it up. Oh, my...

That guy could be so beautiful (in a way Trump cannot begin to emulate). I blogged that a year ago under the post title "I'm going to miss this man." Seeing a tiny boy dressed as Prince, Obama sings "Purple rain, purple rain."

By contrast, Trump saw a little girl with purple hair and said: "I like that hair. Wow. What color is that? Is that purple?" The little girl just said "Yeah." She was the daughter of a journalist, and yet she politely refrained from retorting: "I like that hair. Wow. What color is that? Is that orange?"

ADDED: Let me pick on the NYT for this:
On the girl with purple hair: “What color is that? Purple?”
That makes Trump sound dumber than he is, because here's the girl in question:
It's a setup to call her "the girl with purple hair." Many girls, if asked "What color is that? Purple?" would give an elaborate answer like: "Well, it's sort of purple, but really, I would call it lilac or maybe lavender." Perhaps Trump has had conversations with his daughters about colors and thought it was giving the girl a good opportunity to say something cute or clever.

But she just said, "yeah," which is okay, but I don't think Trump should be made to look like he wasn't good at talking to kids because he just stated the obvious.

You could even say he was better than Obama, because Obama took the spotlight from the child by singing "Purple Rain," but Trump allowed himself to sound dumb when he was really giving the girl a chance to shine.

I've had many conversations with children over the years, and I think I'm kind of good at it. And I would use simple questions like "What color is that? Purple?" Or maybe I'd have said "What color is that? I've never seen that color before. Is that special color only for unicorns?" The idea is to give the child a chance to say anything and then to show interest in whatever it is and get some kind of riff going in any way that the child can do.

"[B]elieve me when I tell you racial terms aren’t said with the same level of maliciousness in Spanish as they are in English."

"Even racist-looking gestures, like the one [Yuli] Guerriel made, aren’t made with the same level of vitriol. Not close. Of course, just because something is done playfully doesn’t necessarily make it OK. Race- and ethnic-based humor typically demonstrates ignorance, as was the case here with Gurriel, and Latin cultures could use less of that. At the same time, it’s hard for me to be offended by words or actions that weren’t intended to be mean-spirited. Remember when Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez used to feed Juan Uribe bananas in the Dodgers dugout?"

Writes Dylan Hernandez, in the L.A. Times, claiming special authority to discuss Guerriel's "slanty eyes" gesture and use of the term "el Chinito" as he was in the dugout celebrating the home run he'd just hit — in Game 3 of the World Series — off the Dodger's pitcher Yu Darvish.

Darvish is Japanese. Guerriel is Cuban-born. Dylan Hernandez is the offspring of a father who was born in El Salvador and a mother who was born in Japan.

"El Chinito" — according to Hernandez — means something like "little Chinese boy."

Hernandez says the Spanish-language epithet is different — merely stupid — because it is not "using language representing a system designed to oppress certain groups of people."

Spanish doesn't represent a system designed to oppress certain groups of people, but English does? It's almost as if Hernandez is saying that there's depth and serious meaning in what English-speaking people say, and those who speak Spanish should be understood as playful and childlike. But that would be racist.

After he heard the criticism, Gurriel said (in Spanish):
“What happened was that I was commenting how I hadn’t had much luck with Darvish... I said I thought maybe they saw me as they see themselves and I wanted to see if they would throw me a pitch like that.”
And why call a Japanese person Chinese? Gurriel said: “It’s because in Cuba and in various places, you don’t say Japanese, you call all Asians ‘chinitos.’” (And he admitted knowing that lumping all Asians together as Chinese is also offensive.)

As for Darvish:
“I saw it, but for me personally it doesn’t really bother me,” he said in Japanese.

Asked if he was upset, Darvish deadpanned, “I’m very, very angry.”

He laughed and added, “No.”
How are we to understand that? It was in Japanese. Hernandez, despite his Japanese background, does not reveal what he may think about whether those who speak Japanese reveal what they think.

Annabella Sciorra "was still living in fear of [Harvey Weinstein], and slept with a baseball bat by her bed. Weinstein, she told me, had violently raped her..."

"... in the early nineteen-nineties, and, over the next several years, sexually harassed her repeatedly," writes Ronan Farrow, in a new New Yorker article, "Weighing the Costs of Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein/Annabella Sciorra, Daryl Hannah, and other women explain their struggles with going public."

Farrow had attempted to get Sciorra to speak to him for the first article, and here we see her description of how she reacted to Farrow's earlier encouragement to tell her story:
“I was so scared. I was looking out the window of my living room, and I faced the water of the East River,” she said, recalling our initial conversation. “I really wanted to tell you. I was like, ‘This is the moment you’ve been waiting for your whole life. . . .’ ” she said. “I really, really panicked,” she added. “I was shaking. And I just wanted to get off the phone.... Even now, as I tell you, and have had all these women around saying it’s O.K.,” Sciorra told me, “I'm petrified again.”
Farrow says there are still "many others" too afraid to talk to him.

Daryl Hannah, also interviewed in this article, explains the reluctance to speak:
Hannah said that she had decided to speak publicly about her experiences for the first time, more than a decade after they occurred, because “I feel a moral obligation to support the women who have suffered much more egregious transgressions.” She, like many women who have come forward, still had doubts about the trade-offs she would have to make for speaking openly. “It’s one of those things your body has to adjust to. You get dragged into the gutter of nastiness and pettiness and shame and all of these things, and it sometimes seems healthier and wiser to just move on with your life and not allow yourself to be re-victimized.”
This is the #MeToo that inherently can't be talked about: I decided to do nothing because I didn't want to be dragged into the gutter of nastiness and pettiness, and it seemed healthier and wiser to just move on.

There's also the outright retaliation:
Sciorra said that she felt the impact on her livelihood almost immediately. “From 1992, I didn’t work again until 1995,” she said. “I just kept getting this pushback of ‘We heard you were difficult; we heard this or that.’ I think that that was the Harvey machine.” The actress Rosie Perez, a friend who was among the first to discuss Sciorra’s allegations with her, told me, “She was riding high, and then she started acting weird and getting reclusive. It made no sense. Why did this woman, who was so talented, and riding so high, doing hit after hit, then all of a sudden fall off the map? It hurts me as a fellow-actress to see her career not flourish the way it should have.”

October 27, 2017

You say you don't want a R-Evolution...

Earlier this month, we were talking about a proposal to put up a 45-foot sculpture of a nude woman on the National Mall. The sculpture, "R-Evolution," was supposed to stand there, facing the White House, for 4 months. According to the artist, Marco Cochrane, the thing would "start a conversation about violence against women." His collaborator expressed the hope that President Trump would see the sculpture and "change his perspective" toward women.

I was skeptical to the point of sarcasm:
Yes, looking at sculptures that are nothing more than the figure of a nude woman has great potential for people to change attitudes about women.
And to the point of feminism:
[The male artist] makes the sculpture and he talks about it, touting the meaning. [The female sculpture] expresses nothing, and that's what he likes, a woman present and saying nothing. What an immense challenge to the imagined mindset of President Trump.
Now, I'm seeing (in the NYT) that the National Park Service has denied the permit:
Placing the piece on the turf for 91 days was likely to “significantly damage” the grounds, [wrote the park service’s acting regional director, Rick Obernesser]. Putting such a tall sculpture near the base of the Washington Monument, he said, was “likely to have an adverse effect on the aesthetics, including the cultural identity, of the area.”...

“We received no indication of anything disqualifying in our permit application until the media began reporting on the story,” said Robert Haferd, a lawyer who sought the permit on behalf of the group.
There is a free-speech issue here. It shouldn't be viewpoint discrimination, but the aesthetics were awful.

Since you're not going to get the monumental female nude that is "R-Evolution," here's the new Taylor Swift video:

"The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by a major Republican donor, initially retained the firm that conducted opposition research on Donald J. Trump — including a salacious dossier..."

The NYT reports, based on testimony before the House Intelligence Committee today.
According to people briefed on the conversation, the website hired the firm, Fusion GPS, in October 2015 to unearth damaging information about several Republican presidential candidates, including Mr. Trump. But The Free Beacon told the firm to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016, as Mr. Trump was clinching the Republican nomination.

In April 2016, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee also retained Fusion GPS to research any possible connections between Mr. Trump, his businesses, his campaign team and Russia. Working for them, Fusion GPS retained a respected former British spy named Christopher Steele.

He went on to produce a series of memos that alleged a broad conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election on behalf of Mr. Trump. The memos, which became known as the “Steele dossier,” also contained unsubstantiated accounts of encounters between Mr. Trump and Russian prostitutes, as well as real estate deals that were intended as bribes.
That sounds clear (if cagey): The dossier is traced to the Democrats.

The "major donor" is Paul Singer, who is (presumably) the name Trump was talking about yesterday when he said "I think I would know... but let's find out who it was... If I were to guess, I would have one name in mind."

"[I]f you intensely think at the same time as you intensely exercise, your performance in both thinking and moving can worsen."

"But your muscles’ performance will decline much more than your brain’s will," according to a new study, the NYT reports.

The study was based on testing a group of young men — rowers at Cambridge University in England — on 3 occasions: 1. The sat and memorized words, 2. They worked a rowing machine, 3. They memorized words while working a rowing machine.
Almost uniformly, the men had been able to produce fewer watts [on the machine] and recall fewer words when they performed the muscular and mental tasks together.

But the falloff in physical functioning was much steeper than the mental slump. The rowers lost almost 13 percent of their power output, a decline that was about 30 percent greater than their loss in word recall after the combined session.

“Our proposed explanation for this finding is that they were both competing for the same resource,” which in this case was blood sugar for fuel, says Danny Longman, a postdoctoral research fellow at Cambridge who led the study.

And the brain won.
I'm not impressed that the brain generally "wins." It was a rowing machine, not a run to capture needed food or to escape injury. I suspect it's just more interesting to memorize words then to row a machine and maybe pride motivates Cambridge college guys to pay more attention to an intelligence test.

Now, I'm reading the comments over there. Here's the highest-rated one: "The rowing didn't last long enough to deplete the muscles' stored glycogen; they weren't competing with the brain for anything but 'attention.' This protocol was useless for addressing the stated hypothesis."

Second-highest: "Assuming the info about this study has been accurately described this is the silliest thing ever concluded. An equally appropriate conclusion as to what might be causing the decrease in 'power output' of the muscles is the brain's decrease in 'attention output' to muscle task versus mental one!"

I find that mental distraction improves my physical ability. When I'm walking or biking and get very absorbed in my thoughts — for example, thinking up an idea for a book and planning it —  I'm better at the physical activity because I'm not paying attention to it. If I think about the next hill or how far I am from the end, I feel the strain and get balky. But with active thought, the body is automatic and efficient.

"I suppose you could say that I became the world’s oldest, tallest, bearded stewardess."

Said Donald Bain, quoted in his NYT obituary, about his idiotic 1967 book "Coffee Tea or Me?" Bain, who died at age 82, wrote all sorts of things under various pseudonyms (including the "Murder, She Wrote" series, as "Jessica Fletcher").

I was 16 in 1967, and I remember "Coffee Tea or Me?" being a best-seller and all the leering jokes about "stewardesses." It was the humor of the segment of the older generation that considered itself sexy. Of course, I didn't read the book at the time. At the time, I would have read books like "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are," by Alan Watts.

But I was curious enough about "Coffee Tea or Me?" to put it in my Kindle. It made me think of Harvey Weinstein and the way he initially reacted to the allegations against him by saying, "I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then."

Sample passage from "Coffee Tea or Me?":
You make up your own mind whether your captain really does have the right to all your services. Captains realize that the longer a girl flies the line, the harder she’ll be to conquer. Stewardesses who’ve been around will generally have latched onto one particular captain or have acquired other interests. So those on the make stalk the new girls....

It was on Rachel’s third flight that she was introduced to the “manual flush” routine so popular with cockpit crews where a new girl is concerned. It was a light flight and dinner had been served when the little light flashed in the galley indicating that service was needed in the cockpit. It’s an unwritten rule that the junior girl handles the cockpit chores, unless a senior girl has something going up front. This day, Rachel was the one. The other girls had evidently sworn off crew members for the week and simply pointed to Rachel. She nervously pranced up the aisle, fluffing her dark hair and straightening her skirt. The flight engineer patted her fanny as she slid by him, a gesture Rachel assumed was normal cockpit procedure. Besides, she wasn’t about to be labeled a square so early in the game. She stood silently, in back of the captain’s right ear, his head just reaching her chest....

“That little button in front of me, the one farthest away, activates the manual flushing operation. Every twenty minutes, I want you to come forward to the cockpit and flip that button. You’ll flip it and hold it for forty-five seconds. Got it?” “Yes, sir.” “Better give it a try now, Rachel.” The only way Rachel could reach the button was to lean over the top of the captain’s head. She strained to get her finger to the switch, her breasts melting comfortably around the captain’s ears....

Most new stewardesses are put through the manual flushing routine. Some come back to the galley cursing the captain. Some, embarrassed, say nothing. Some can’t wait for the twenty minutes to pass. Good thing all Rachel’s attitude was that it could have been worse. Another favorite trick is to hoist a new stewardess up into the overhead coatrack before passengers have begun to come aboard. The crew then sits and watches the girl try valiantly to get down, tight skirt and all.
She wasn’t about to be labeled a square so early in the game....

The book has illustrations. They're like this:

"The Umbrella Man," by Errol Morris.

The strangeness of historical details... in this case, a man with an umbrella who was standing right near where John F. Kennedy was shot:

"Cakes do not convey the rich, complex expression that can be conveyed by words, music, images, and the like..."

"... and to the extent that cakes are used in ceremonies, their significance is inextricably tied to their being eaten, not to any message they visually convey," argue Dale Carpenter and Eugene Volokh in an amicus brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case (PDF):
To be sure, cakes often do convey messages in the writing or graphics on the cake itself. Cake-makers might indeed have a First Amendment right to decline to include such written or graphic messages on a cake. The cake itself, though intended for use in a ceremony, is not itself generally expressive of any message (other than perhaps the fact that 'this cake is intended for use in this ceremony'). Nor can wedding cakes be viewed as inherently expressive, or traditionally protected, simply by raising the level of generality and calling wedding-cake-making 'art.' Much in life is art in the sense that it is aimed at creating beauty, including beauty identifiably linked with some ceremony or some style.  Cooking is often said to be an art.
At this point there's a footnote to 3 cookbooks with the word "art" in the title, one of which is by Anne Volokh ("The Art of Russian Cuisine").
Even setting the table to present food is an art, with a long historical pedigree. Subway calls its sandwich-makers 'sandwich artists.' But a restaurant may not refuse to cook or prepare a table for certain customers on the ground that would be a speech compulsion....

The relevant Free Speech Clause question is not whether a merchant customizes a product, but whether the customization communicates protected expression.... No one looks at a wedding cake and reflects, “the baker has blessed this union.”... Phillips may subjectively believe that making the cake would have communicated a message about his clients’ marriage, but there is not a substantial likelihood “that the message would be understood by those who viewed it.”...

Requiring bakers to design a cake using certain words, symbols, or other politically significant design elements, might... be an unconstitutional speech compulsion. Even if the choice to wear certain styles of clothing is not protected by the First Amendment, restrictions on wearing certain words on clothing are unconstitutional, see Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971); the same goes for cakes...

This case is about Phillips’ categorical refusal to provide a particular sort of product to customers based solely on their sexual orientation reflected in the event for which the product was to be provided, in violation of a state public accommodations law. It is not about any refusal on Phillips’ part to speak through his cake creations.
Carpenter and Volokh side with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against the cakeshop. You can compare their argument to the one in the Cake Artists amicus brief, which we discussed a little while ago here. The Cake Artists refrained from taking a side, but they want what they do to be given the status of "expressive art." They want "the same respect under the First Amendment as artists using any other medium."

The difference between these 2 briefs isn't about what is art, but what is expression. Carpenter and Volokh say you've got to draw the line somewhere, and they rely a lot on whether there's already a tradition of regarding something as form of expression protected by the First Amendment:
Jackson Pollock paintings are protected because they are special cases of a broad medium — painting — that has long been used to communicate expression.
Are paintings protected because we see them as encoding a message that reminds us of something that could have been put in words?

Why do courts protect that, really? Well, there's the tradition argument: Courts protect paintings because they've protected paintings in the past, and anything that's literally a painting — even if it's off the stretchers and the brush never touches the canvas — gets the traditional protection.

But let's look beyond tradition — even though opponents of gay marriage got deeply wedged into tradition-based arguments. Go back to the Carpenter/Volokh quote I put in the post title. I see some substance here: "Cakes do not convey the rich, complex expression that can be conveyed by words, music, images, and the like." We might say to extend the protection beyond what is traditional, courts should look at whether the supposed expression achieves complexity and richness.

The Cake Artists brief has material for putting together a complexity-and-richness argument for the protection of wedding-cake expression. But the complexity-and-richness standard smells of elitism and overeducation. The one case citation I left in, above, is Cohen v. California, where the protected speech was simple and cheap: "Fuck the draft." 

And did Pollack really have anything complex or rich to say? I don't think there's a message to be decoded from the dried dribbles. He made an object, and the object is protected because it was made by an artist, and we've been reverential about the artists we consider real artists for a long time.

In Catalonia: A declaration of independence.

"The Catalan regional parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, just as the Spanish government appears set to impose direct rule. The move was backed 70-10 in a ballot boycotted by opposition MPs...."


"Perfect form, extension. I mean, doesn’t get fazed if there are people around. Oooo, look at the change in direction...."

(The announcer — at a Dolphins vs. Ravens game — is Tony Romo.)

“There is a girl who went against me. She was going to talk about something I did. I am going to tell you, and this is a promise, if she ever tells anybody..."

"... no matter how much time she thinks went by, I have people who will pull up in a car, kidnap her and throw her in the Hudson river with cement blocks on her feet. You understand what I’m talking about, right?”

Said the movie director James Toback, according to the actress Selma Blair, reported in The Guardian, "Selma Blair: James Toback threatened to kill me after sexual harassment/The Hellboy star claims the disgraced film-maker sexually harassed her and then suggested that he could have her killed if she told her story."

So movie directors talk like characters in bad movies.

There's something so sad about referring to Blair as "The Hellboy star." It's a boy's world.

IN THE COMMENTS: Laslo Spatula wrote:
From the article:

"When he asked her to have sex with him, Blair refused, but Toback insisted she let him pleasure himself in front of her and said: “You cannot leave until I have release.”

“You cannot leave until I have release.”

Say what you want, but that is a great line. Very Ming the Merciless.

"Two US yachtswomen and their two dogs have been rescued by the US Navy after spending nearly five months adrift in the Pacific Ocean..."

BBC reports.
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba had set off in a small sailing boat from Hawaii on a trip to Tahiti when their engine, damaged by the bad weather, failed....
For 2 months, they relied on wind and sails, then they began distress calls, but they weren't close enough to anything to be heard. Fortunately, they had "a water purifier and a large store of dry goods such as oatmeal and pasta."

Finally, they were seen — by a Taiwanese fishing vessel — and that led to the rescue.

"Asked if they ever thought they might not survive, [Appel] said they would not be human if they did not. She credited the two dogs, which she called their companion animals, with keeping their spirits up."

"A sailor greets Zeus the dog with his owner Tasha Fuiaba, left, on the boat deck of the USS Ashland. Photograph: Mass Communication Specialist 3r/AP."

Zeus the dog!

"The Soviet Union theorized that President Lyndon B. Johnson could have been behind JFK’s assassination..."

"... and also feared Moscow could be blamed and attacked, according to documents in a major release of files related to Kennedy’s slaying on Thursday," The NY Post reports.
The Dec. 1, 1966 FBI memo, which relayed unconfirmed speculation, noted that sources said the KGB “was in possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy.”...

“KGB headquarters indicated that in view of this information, it was necessary for the Soviet Government to know the existing personal relationship between President Johnson and the Kennedy family, particularly that between President Johnson and Robert and ‘Ted’ Kennedy.”...

Soviets feared dark US forces were “interested in utilizing the assassination and playing on anticommunist sentiments in the United States,” according to the FBI. “Our source further stated that Soviet officials were fearful that without leadership, some irresponsible general in the United States might launch a missile attack on the Soviet Union.”
ADDED: I must say that when I read "The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV" by Robert A. Caro, I kept wanting to hear more about how LBJ managed to avoid being the target of suspicion. There's so much material in that book that makes you think he had the motivation.

Amazon Key — great or creepy?

Nice ad:

(And please use The Althouse Amazon Portal if you want to order this thing.)

The opinion that it's creepy is well-represented on Twitter.
“Amazon Peace is an innovative new offering that will allow an Amazon worker to enter your home and smother you with an Amazon pillow,” tweeted @Alexqarbuckle.

Author Chuck Wendig jokes about Amazon “Avatar,” a new service that allows you to upload your consciousness to Amazon. “You'll need a new Kindle Soulport installed in the base of your spine.”

"I didn’t know what to do. He was important. He wasn’t my superior, but he was certainly in a superior position to mine."

"I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know how to at the time. I knew it was wrong. It was gross. He’s gross. He’s gross."

Said Dianna Goldberg, who "was a young researcher at ABC News in 1994 when she asked a colleague, Mark Halperin, for some information about a story. He readily agreed to help her and asked her to come to his office. Close the door, he said when she arrived. Come over here, he said, seated at his desk. Sit down and I’ll give you the information, he said. He motioned to his lap.... She reluctantly agreed and sat down briefly. Halperin, she recalled on Wednesday, had an erection. The same routine happened on three or four other occasions, she said. Each instance left her confused, shaken and ashamed." (WaPo.)

She was, as she tells of it now, "confused, shaken and ashamed."

How do you think he felt? Do you think he imagined he was instigating a playful, fun relationship? Do you think he got off on her youthful confusion and his superiority and ability to command lap-sitting? Do you think he was a sadistic jerk?

I'm wondering how many men* there are out there — in many different lines of work — who know that this could happen to them too, who are going back over all their workplace encounters, thinking about who might decide to go public or — through a lawyer — threaten to go public, with a vocalization — at long last — of her** experience, long ago. Who out there could throw your life into chaos and how much money do you have to purchase nondisclosure agreements?


* We'll get to the women later.

** Or his.

"It's World Series time! The LA Dodgers are playing the Houston Astros, and for the undecided, there are good reasons to root for each."

"For the Dodgers, I submit the ever-entertaining comparative veteran Yasiel Puig, whose bat-licking ways are memorialized with a colorful design shaved into his hair (with a matching one for his baby omg), and who's fun to watch even when he's declining to swing at a pitch. For the Astros, how about all-star hitter and fielder Jose Altuve, who's also super fun to watch and who might be the best hitter in baseball this season, despite being -- at 5'5" -- the shortest player in the game."

Writes LobsterMitten at Metafilter.

The links in the quote are copied from the original except for the one that I added, for bat-licking. 

"The founder of an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company has been charged with spearheading a 'nationwide conspiracy' to illegally distribute fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller."

WaPo reports on the charges against the billionaire, John Kapoor, founder of Insys Therapeutics:
Kapoor’s company manufactured Subsys, a type of fentanyl that is sprayed under the tongue. It is meant exclusively for cancer patients who are carefully monitored. Prosecutors allege Insys was not pleased with its sales numbers, and aggressively marketed the drug for use in other patients. That allegedly included the use of bribes and kickbacks, typically in the form of expensive dinners for doctors.

“As alleged, Insys executives improperly influenced health care providers to prescribe a powerful opioid for patients who did not need it, and without complying with FDA requirements, thus putting patients at risk and contributing to the current opioid crisis,” said Mark A. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Metro Washington Field Office....
Meanwhile, in The New Yorker, there's "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain/The Sackler dynasty’s ruthless marketing of painkillers has generated billions of dollars—and millions of addicts," by Patrick Radden Keefe:
A 1995 memo sent to the launch team emphasized that the company did “not want to niche” OxyContin just for cancer pain. A primary objective in Purdue’s 2002 budget plan was to “broaden” the use of OxyContin for pain management.... In its internal literature, Purdue similarly spoke of reaching patients who were “opioid naïve.”...

Purdue had a speakers’ bureau, and it paid several thousand clinicians to attend medical conferences and deliver presentations about the merits of the drug. Doctors were offered all-expenses-paid trips to pain-management seminars in places like Boca Raton. Such spending was worth the investment: internal Purdue records indicate that doctors who attended these seminars in 1996 wrote OxyContin prescriptions more than twice as often as those who didn’t. The company advertised in medical journals, sponsored Web sites about chronic pain, and distributed a dizzying variety of OxyContin swag: fishing hats, plush toys, luggage tags. Purdue also produced promotional videos featuring satisfied patients—like a construction worker who talked about how OxyContin had eased his chronic back pain, allowing him to return to work. The videos, which also included testimonials from pain specialists, were sent to tens of thousands of doctors. The marketing of OxyContin relied on an empirical circularity: the company convinced doctors of the drug’s safety with literature that had been produced by doctors who were paid, or funded, by the company....

The sales force was heavily incentivized to push the drug. In a memo, a sales manager in Tennessee wrote, “$$$$$$$$$$$$$ It’s Bonus Time in the Neighborhood!” May, who was assigned to the Virginia area, was astonished to learn that especially skillful colleagues were earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions. One year, May’s own sales were so brisk that Purdue rewarded him with a trip to Hawaii. As prescriptions multiplied, Purdue executives—and the Sackler family members on the company’s board—appeared happy to fund such blandishments. Internal budget plans described the company’s sales force as its “most valuable resource.” In 2001, Purdue Pharma paid forty million dollars in bonuses.....
Yesterday, President Trump declared a national emergency (NYT), but spoke in terms of reaching the addicts (as opposed to arresting the billionaires):
To combat the epidemic, the president said the government would produce “really tough, really big, really great advertising” aimed at persuading Americans not to start using opioids in the first place, seeming to hark back to the “Just Say No” antidrug campaign led by Nancy Reagan in the 1980s.

“This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs,” Mr. Trump said, “it’s really, really easy not to take them.” He shared the story of his brother Fred, who he said had struggled with alcohol addiction throughout his life and implored Mr. Trump never to take a drink — advice the president said he had heeded. “We are going to overcome addiction in America,” the president said.
It’s really, really easy not to take them.... I know that's out of context from the entire speech and the NYT is trying to make him seem like an idiot. He knows very well how hard it was for Fred, and he said so repeatedly.

Here's the full speech:

ADDED: Hearing Trump going on about how he's never used drugs or drink, a million substance-influenced Americans have the same thought: If kids look at him as what happens to you if you don't drink or use drugs, he's a walking pro-drug, pro-drink advertisement.

October 26, 2017

"Join us for the Sunday meat raffle."


The Baldwin Street Grille, photographed yesterday. I've never gone in the place, but according to one reviewer at Yelp:
I've driven past this place so many times, disappointed I just now figured out what I was missing. The meat raffle was incredibly entertaining with solid choices. Really wish we could've stayed till the end but it was a little long....
What's a "meat raffle"?!


Actually, Wikipedia has an article on the subject:
A meat raffle is a tradition of raffling off meat, often in pubs and bars, common in Britain, Australia, in the USA, and in Western Canada....
And here's a 2006 NYT article, "The Meat Raffle" by Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of "Eat, Pray, Love"):
My cousins and aunts... drank me under the table.... And so I wasn't at all certain I was hearing things correctly when a man in a plaid flannel shirt approached us and asked, "Would you ladies care to participate in my meat raffle?"

The ladies reached for their purses again -- not for guns, as I would have imagined, given the man's question -- but for wallets. They were each peeling one cool dollar bill off their private stashes as I stammered: "Wait! His what? His what raffle?"

"House Republicans agreed to budget legislation Thursday morning, narrowly overcoming internal dissension..."

"... and Democratic opposition to clear a major obstacle in the GOP’s quest to pass large-scale tax cuts. The budget legislation authorizes special procedures that will allow Republicans to reduce federal revenue over the coming decade by as much as $1.5 trillion without Democratic help. Its adoption launches what GOP leaders hope will be several weeks of intense legislating, culminating in House passage before Thanksgiving.... A key holdout bloc consisted of Republican lawmakers from states with high local tax burdens, who have resisted the GOP’s plan to eliminate or at least scale back the income-tax deduction for state and local taxes.... "


"No one says, 'You’re so lucky that you don’t have to wear a bra,' which is something I’ve weirdly been levelling at small-breasted women my entire adult life."

"The people who contemplate my chest, and there are many, generally come to the conclusion that I’m a hippie or an angry feminist or both; I might as well have burned the bras, not slid them gently into a drawer. And they* don’t mind. In fact, it seems to bring them some relief to have reaffirmed that this other way isn’t available to them or anyone they know, because it’s for irate bohemian ladies.... I like the way most clothes feel on my bare skin.... I like the way my breasts sound against my ribcage when I run down the stairs, like someone clapping politely for a performance that they didn’t particularly enjoy..... When I nod vigorously, my boobs nod along, in agreement. When I wave at someone in a crowd, they wave with me...."

From "The Joy of Not Wearing a Bra" by Hillary Brenhouse (The New Yorker).


* On reread, I got confused by that "they," coming right after "I might as well have burned the bras, not slid them gently into a drawer." The bras don't mind being slid gently into the drawer? They're relieved to have reaffirmed that... huh? 

"Protesters splattered red liquid onto the base of the bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan..."

"... and later published a statement on the internet calling for its removal as an emblem of 'patriarchy, white supremacy and settler-colonialism.' 'Now the statue is bleeding,' said the statement Thursday from the protesters, who identified themselves as members of the Monument Removal Brigade. 'We did not make it bleed. It is bloody at its very foundation.'"

The NYT reports.

At the Pepper Harvest Café...


... the conversation is heating up.

(And so, maybe, is the shopping — through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Trump on the Fusion GPS "dossier" — the Dems only confessed because the judge was about to reveal it...

... and he thinks he knows the name of one Republican who started it: "I think I would know... but let's find out who it was... If I were to guess, I would have one name in mind."

The whole 15-minute encounter with the press is excellent and worth listening to, but I've set it up to begin at the part about the one Republican he would have to guess.

We could guess which name he's purporting to guess. What do you think?

Which one Republican does Trump have in mind?
pollcode.com free polls

"Bill should be aware that not everyone is bound by a non-disclosure … I am not."

Writes Michael Panter, whose ex-girlfriend has settled a case against Bill O'Reilly. He describes phone calls he was in a position to overhear:
The first call came from a woman at Fox who I believe was the HEAD of HR (or Fox’s chief corporate counsel). She stated that she had met with O’Reilly and Bill Shine, who was the Co-President of Fox News. She said there was a sensitive matter that they wanted my ex to speak with O’Reilly about, confidentially. I don’t think anyone would decline when the head of their company made such a "request"....

[O'Reilly] explained that a new accuser was suing him for sexual harassment. This latest victim was someone my ex knew, and lived in the same complex. He got to the point immediately: give me anything you have on this woman, which we “can use against her.”

He asked if anything was known about her sex life. He asked if she used any illegal drugs. He also asked if anything was known about her financial situation and marriage. In essence, the leadership of Fox, including their “HR” head/counsel and O’Reilly, who held my ex’s career in their hands (and whom O’Reilly was also harassing) was demanding information to attack another victim.

Think about that in light of him stating that very few women ever went to HR to complain about him, and how hollow those words ring....

"Why Nerds and Nurses Are Taking Over the U.S. Economy."

"A blockbuster report from government economists forecasts the workforce of 2026—a world of robot cashiers, well-paid math nerds, and so (so, so, so) many healthcare workers" (The Atlantic).

"Kellogg's to replace racially insensitive Corn Pops boxes following Twitter call out."

USA Today reports.

Here's the tweet that got action:

"I draw with Rotring Rapidoliners, 0.35 which are no longer made. I have to scour eBay for them."

"I’m so afraid of running through my stockpile that I have learned how to refill them, even though they are not meant to be refilled. The ink is very, very black and completely waterproof. When I put watercolor on top of the ink, it doesn’t bleed."

I love the cartoonist Roz Chast, but this is getting my "things not believed" tag. Its unbelievability is on its face. If you're desperate for a rare item, why would you stir up competition and tell them where to go? Is there some other pen that the named pen is standing in for? Has Chast already scoured the last 0.35 Rapidoliner out of eBay and moved on to the hope that all the people searching for it will get back to Rotring and inspire them to make it again.

ADDED: I'm starting to believe. The idea is: this public plea and unsolicited endorsement should move Rotring to make the 0.35 Rapidoliner again. Get on it, Rotring. Please click on that Rotring link if you believe in Roz Chast. It could bring Tinkerbell back to life.

"There is zero appetite for the ‘Never Trump’ movement in the Republican Party of today.

"This party is now defined by President Trump and his movement," said Andy Surabian, "an adviser to Great America Alliance, the 'super PAC' that is aiding primary races against Republican incumbents, quoted in "As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up" (NYT).

Also quoted:

Laura Ingraham: “We’re not an element. We’re the party.... There’s no constituency for open borders, endless war and these international trade deals that are skewed against the United States.”

Steve Bannon: "This thing [Republicans like Jeff Flake have] got today doesn’t work, it doesn’t move with urgency... It’s very nice. But it’s a theoretical exercise. It can’t win national elections.”

"Now that the #metoo movement has brought this all to light, I think I should have been a little more alarmed to be touched so inappropriately..."

"...by a man who was once the leader of the free world. He knows the power he has, and the reverence he deserves, even while sitting perhaps somewhat senile in a wheelchair. What I’ve come to realize is that if we tolerate these small comments and grazes from men on the street or former presidents, they might assume that it’s ok with us, and they may take it as permission to do who-knows-what else. I realize that making light of the situation was the wrong move. It wasn’t ok for him to do that to me. He wasn’t able to give me a job or a movie deal, so I didn’t feel compromised or pressured to do anything more, but the comments and assumptions about our bodies must stop, at all levels."

Says Jordana Grolnick, the second woman who has said she was groped by George H.W. Bush during a photo op.

Both women, Grolnick and Heather Lind, report that Bush made a joke, saying his favorite magician was "David Cop-a-Feel." The joke reveals Bush's awareness of the sexual nature of his touching.

"Veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News..."

"... according to five women who shared their previously undisclosed accounts with CNN and others who did not experience the alleged harassment personally, but were aware of it," CNN reports.
"During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me," Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesday night. "I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I'm going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation."...
Pursue relationships.... there's a phrase that invites mockery. What did he do? He now understands that it was inappropriate? What did he do that he couldn't understand at the time was inappropriate but he understands now? Either he's lying or he was too dumb/unperceptive to be in "a powerful position at ABC News."

Notice that if the answer is he's lying, he could be lying about not knowing in that past that it was inappropriate or lying about currently believing that it's inappropriate. There's also a middle ground, a limbo, where you believe that according to the standards of the time it was acceptable and you enjoyed those standards and even wish they still prevailed, but you know times have changed and it's inopportune now to defend yourself.
The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one's breasts against her will. Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. Halperin denies grabbing a woman's breasts and pressing his genitals against the three women.
You have to deny the things that are criminal offenses, even as you are appeasing with apologies.
Widely considered to be one of the preeminent political journalists, Halperin, 52... co-authored the bestselling book "Game Change"....
He went after the woman, Sarah Palin.

ADDED: I clicked on my "Mark Halperin" tag. I haven't bothered with him much over the years, but once he called Obama a "dick" and professed "I can't explain why I did it," causing me to say "Why is he editor-in-large at Time if he can't explain things as accessible to him as his own mind?" And once he interviewed Ted Cruz in a way that caused a liberal website to award him "The Prize For The Most Racist Interview Of A 2016 Candidate."

Female privilege.

ADDED: You might think: Katy Perry is not objecting, but what can she do but keep smiling and show herself to be a good sport? She can't improvise, and she can't step on Ellen's effort at comic performance. Ellen is the comedian. She's the comedian with a show, a media outlet to the fans. You can shut that door if you choose, but what's the motivation?

Katy Perry clearly wants her breasts to be noticed and admired — or at least she's decided to use them as devices to further her career. So why would she complain (as long as Ellen doesn't become a target of #MeTooism)?

Ellen is clowning in a style that reminds me of Jerry Lewis, so I went looking for a photo of Jerry Lewis staring at a woman's breasts. I couldn't find one, but I did find this example of Jerry doing the complete opposite of staring at a woman's breasts:

October 25, 2017

Salacious! Like a spy novel!

1. From Hillary Clinton's book "What Happened" (page 364):
[A] lot of Russian officials seem to have had unfortunate accidents since the election. On Election Day itself, an officer in the New York consulate was found dead. The first explanation was that he fell off a roof. Then the Russians said he had a heart attack. On December 26, a former KGB agent thought to have helped compile the salacious Trump dossier was found dead in his car in Moscow. On February 20, the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations died suddenly, also from a heart attack. Russian authorities have also arrested a cybersecurity expert and two intelligence officials who worked on cyber operations and accused them of spying for the United States. All I can say is that working for Putin must be a stressful job.

If all this sounds unbelievable, I know how you feel. It’s like something out of one of the spy novels my husband stays up all night reading....
2. In today's Washington Post, Philip Bump writes that  "There are three reasons the 'Trump dossier' has been elevated as one of the central points of consideration in the public investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign":
The first is that it involves the characters and language of a John Le Carré novel: a former British intelligence officer communing with shadowy Muscovites identified only by letters and detailing secret meetings in exotic places, hidden payments and illegal agreements to seize the American presidency.

The second is that the political stakes are high....

The third reason people have paid so much attention to it is the unproven assertion — generally described as “salacious” — that Trump was party to a particular event in a Moscow hotel room....

"Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee violated campaign finance law by failing to disclose payments for a dossier on Donald Trump..."

"... according to a complaint filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. The complaint from the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center said the Democrats effectively hid the payments from public scrutiny, contrary to the requirements of federal law. By law, campaign and party committees must disclose the reason money is spent and its recipient."

The Washington Times reports. 

"After an Indianapolis factory said it would move production to Mexico, two longtime friends disagree whether to help the company train their replacements."

ADDED: This video presents the story very differently from the way it was told on the "Daily" podcast back on October 18th, here (NYT).

In the video, it's 2 old friends, one (the white one) who refuses to train the workers who will be getting their jobs in Mexico and the other (the black one) who chooses to take the extra money the company is paying to do the training. There's emphasis on the white man's turning his back on the black man and the black man's willingness to go to Mexico to help the people he's heard are "super nice."

The podcast gives a wider view: The workers realized (or at least believed) that the company needed them to train the new workers at the Mexican factory and that if they stuck together and all refused, the company would not be able to relocate the jobs. As I remember the podcast, the black workers broke ranks with the white workers, and that made the difference for everyone. The video deprives you of the context for the white man's disaffection for his black co-worker.

A closer look at that broken window.


"I have this fascination with money...."

Check out the fabulous abode of artist, businessman and collector Arthur Beckerfull. It's full of art, including a lot of money-based art.

"Wisconsin School of Business drops plan to suspend MBA program."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
The business school will "stop further discussion of the one-year suspension of the full-time MBA," Dean Anne P. Massey wrote in a statement Wednesday, less than a week after news of the proposal broke publicly and two days after the business school announced the details of its plan.
From the letter:
We have heard from our community of students, alumni, and friends; therefore, we are going to stop further discussion of the one-year suspension of the full-time MBA. We moved too quickly without the broad consultation and discussion that our stakeholders can and should expect....
Sometimes the shock of surprise works, but these days, opposition can mobilize quickly, as happened here.

"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness."

Scribbed Albert Einstein in German on hotel letterhead, making a document in lieu of a tip for a bellboy. The paper sold at auction yesterday for $1.5 million (NYT).

People love their Einstein quotes. Einstein is the one person we all recognize as GENIUS!!! so we imagine — kind of absurdly — that anything that popped out of his noggin is genuisish.

"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness."

He wrote that at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. I wonder if he was trying to crank out something that the Japanese bellboy would see as wise — some Japanese-sounding wisdom.

IN THE COMMENTS: Leslie Graves said:
The Imperial Hotel! Presumably, he was in the version of it that lasted from 1922-1967, and that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a man who did not live a calm and modest life.
Yes, the article says 1922.

"The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!"

Trump tweeted this morning. For more on the context: "Trump Keeps Focus on Retiring Senators, Who Had ‘Zero Chance of Being Elected’" (NYT).

"We asked black Americans whether they believe discrimination against black Americans exists in the U.S. today."

"How many do you think responded 'it exists'? Drag the bar below to draw your guess."

The link — where you can "drag the bar" — goes to NPR.org.

I was off by 6 percentage points.

At the Broken Window Café...


... get cracking.

Goodbye to Fats Domino.

One of the last truly great ones of early rock and roll has died. He was 89.

NYT obit:
Mr. Domino had more than three dozen Top 40 pop hits through the 1950s and early ’60s, among them “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t It a Shame,” “I’m Walkin’,” “Blue Monday” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans.” Throughout he displayed both the buoyant spirit of New Orleans, his hometown, and a droll resilience that reached listeners worldwide.

He sold 65 million singles in those years, with 23 gold records, making him second only to Elvis Presley as a commercial force. Presley acknowledged Mr. Domino as a predecessor.

“A lot of people seem to think I started this business,” Presley told Jet magazine in 1957. “But rock ’n’ roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that music like colored people. Let’s face it: I can’t sing it like Fats Domino can. I know that.”
Read the whole obit. Excerpt:
Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. was born on Feb. 26, 1928, the youngest of eight children in a family with Creole roots....

Music filled his life from the age of 10, when his family inherited an old piano. After his brother-in-law Harrison Verrett, a traditional-jazz musician, wrote down the notes on the keys and taught him a few chords, Antoine threw himself at the instrument — so enthusiastically that his parents moved it to the garage.

He was almost entirely self-taught, picking up ideas from boogie-woogie masters like Meade Lux Lewis, Pinetop Smith and Amos Milburn. “Back then I used to play everybody’s records; everybody’s records who made records,” he told Offbeat magazine in 2004. “I used to hear ’em, listen at ’em five, six, seven, eight times and I could play it just like the record because I had a good ear for catchin’ notes and different things.”

He attended the Louis B. Macarty School but dropped out in the fourth grade to work as an iceman’s helper. “In the houses where people had a piano in their rooms, I’d stop and play,” he told USA Today in 2007. “That’s how I practiced.”...

In that racially segregated era, white performers used his hits to build their careers. In 1955, “Ain’t It a Shame” became a No. 1 hit for Pat Boone as “Ain’t That a Shame,” while Domino’s arrangement of a traditional song, “Bo Weevil,” was imitated by Teresa Brewer....
Now, "Blueberry Hill," which I — who listened to AM Top 40 radio back then — remember as his biggest hit, was a Glenn Miller tune in the 1940s, but Miller got it from Louis Armstrong. Here's Fats on Ed Sullivan in 1956:

ADDED: I'm wrong about "Blueberry Hill." Miller didn't get it from Armstrong. The Armstrong recording was 1949. Miller was 1940, but there were 6 different "Blueberry Hill" recordings in 1940:
Victor Records released the recording by the Sammy Kaye Orchestra with vocals by Tommy Ryan on May 31, 1940 (catalog #26643, with the flip side "Maybe"; matrix #51050[1]). Gene Krupa's version was issued on OKeh Records (#5672) on June 3 and singer Mary Small did a vocal version on the same label with Nat Brandwynne's orchestra, released June 20, 1940 on OKeh Records #5678. Other 1940 recordings were by: The Glenn Miller Orchestra on Bluebird Records (10768), Kay Kyser, Russ Morgan, Gene Autry (also in the 1941 film The Singing Hill), Connee Boswell, and Jimmy Dorsey. The largest 1940 hit was by The Glenn Miller Orchestra, where it reached #1.
It was a Tin Pan Alley composition, with the music by Vincent Rose (born Vincenzo Cacioppo, in Palermo, Italy) and lyrics by Larry Stock (who was born in Budapest, Hungary) and Al Lewis (born in NYC and not to be confused with the Al Lewis we knew and loved as Grandpa Munster).

Race and pop culture is an important subject, and I was wrong to assume I knew the time line of inspiration and borrowing.

"Man who repaired Harvey-flooded homes dies of flesh-eating bacteria."

CNN reports.

ADDED: Like Jesus, Josue Zurita was a carpenter. He "moved to the United States from Mexico to help his family and 'remained to help with the rebuilding after hurricane Harvey.'"

Ex-Prez HW Bush accused of ass-grabbing: #MeToo overload or the beginning of the end of Old Man Privilege?

I'm reading The Daily Mail: "Former US president George HW Bush apologises after actress claims he 'sexually assaulted' her from his WHEELCHAIR in this photograph - with his wife Barbara standing by his side/Actress Heather Lind made allegations Tuesday claiming when she met former President George H.W. Bush, 93, he 'sexually assaulted' her from his wheelchair/She claimed the 'assault' happened during a photo-op with wife Barbara Bush standing by his side, and claims his wife saw the incident unfold/The now 34-year-old actress also claimed that afterwards Bush's security detail told her she shouldn't have stood next to the former president for the photo-op/Lind says this happened four years ago while she was promoting a movie/In a statement to DailyMail.com the former president has apologized for the incident saying it was an 'attempt at humor' and not meant to offend Lind."

Now, I said "#MeToo overload" when a woman accused Elie Wiesel of taking the same advantage in a photo op and getting his hand onto the ass of the woman who stood next to him. People do line up and crowd together tightly in photographs, and one often accepts/endures the waist-grabbing that seems excusable in the interest of getting us all into the picture frame. How far down from the waist can a person go before the other person knows he's taking advantage? For the photo subject who's enjoying the contact, just the touching of the sides of the arms may be a thrill. For the one who does not want contact, even that may be repugnant.*

I think most contact-seekers in that situation stick to a hand at waist-level pulling the other person closer, and even that can be offensive to the one who doesn't want contact, but the would-be contact-avoider will probably put up with it, and the contact-seeker has deniability. Then what about the hand on the top of the hip? That can seem deniable too. And the fingers on the outside of the middle of the hip? Can that work? Once the contact-seeker has his fingers at the right latitude, the heel of his hand can reach the desired longitude on the globe that is the ass.

But an older man may think he has Old Man Privilege and that it's cool for him to show he's still got some life in him and everyone will think it's just fine if he forthrightly gropes the ass. HW Bush's apology calls it an "attempt at humor."

I remember something Jeb Bush said back in July 2015, when his father was in the hospital: "[My] dad gets in the hospital kind of pretty regularly at 91, he's a little frail. But when he starts telling semi-dirty jokes to the nurse, we know he's on the rebound." I quoted that in a post titled "Jeb Bush has a tin ear for sexism" and said:
Apparently, Jeb thinks the old sexy nurse trope works today. The audience warmly chuckles, and Jeb thinks he's cute, because his dad is so old and sweet. But that doesn't play with me or, I suspect, with many modern women. Old men in the hospital leering at the nurses. Ugh!
I want to stress the importance — as we're fired up about sexual harassment — of not wrongly lumping things together. I wouldn't rake the dead Elie Wiesel over the coals for a 3-decade-old ass-grope (even if that happened). And I wish ancient HW well. But there is something I'm going to call Old Man Privilege that needs to be seen and rejected. It's not cute. It should not be endured as routine. A mentally incompetent old person should be treated with empathy, but women should not be expected to smile and indulge groping. HW should know better, and Jeb should certainly know better.

Donald Trump was rightly excoriated for saying, "And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything."

Similarly, we need to reject the idea And when you’re an old man, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the ass. You can do anything.


* I myself dropped out of participating in a certain significant law school activity because it involved sitting in small, locked together chairs in a way that forced me to accept over an hour of thigh-to-thigh contact with a colleague on either side of me. No one was groping me, but I couldn't accept being seated like that. Similarly, some people won't fly on airplanes because of the risk of being forced into thigh or arm contact with another person. I avoid almost all flying for a number of reasons, and that is certainly one of them. It's awful if you have the feeling that the other person is getting a kick out of it!

"Young people in China are rejecting Communist party propaganda for Western-style movie stars and celebrity culture..."

"... that’s the lesson behind the box office flop of a series big budget propaganda films according to observers. When the movie 'Founding Fathers of the Army,' which tells the story of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, recently hit cinemas, officials hoped it would inspire an outpouring of patriotic feeling — instead it was mocked for trying to use popular film stars to lure younger viewers."

Or so Newsweek tells us. No details of this mockery appear in the linked story. I see that the movie was a "flop" in relation to its "big budget," but there are no numbers, and who knows what constitutes a "flop" or a "big budget" when the proportions are Chinese? Assuming it was a flop, how do we jump to the conclusion that the young people of China long for a Western-style culture? What's the evidence of that? Maybe the movie was boring.

This is such cheesy reporting at Newsweek, feeding Americans crap that we like. The headline is "CHINESE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE REJECTING COMMUNIST PARTY PROPAGANDA AND THE GOVERNMENT IS FREAKING OUT."

The government is "freaking out"? I know, I'm linking and that may be all that Newsweek wants, but how about proving that Western-style media really is better than government propaganda instead of mindlessly burbling that the Chinese want to be like us?

What annoys me the most is that I clicked through because of the word "mockery" and I thought I'd get to read something funny. But there's not one funny line in the Newsweek article. And that's the trouble with pop culture. You get us excited, like there's going to be candy, but there was no candy.

Devil Girl candy bars

Devil Girl candy bars
Althouse photos from 2007

"For anyone who cares to look, the real problem here is that the FBI itself is so thoroughly implicated in the Russia meddling story."

"The agency, when Mr. Mueller headed it, soft-pedaled an investigation highly embarrassing to Mrs. Clinton as well as the Obama Russia reset policy. More recently, if just one of two things is true—Russia sponsored the Trump Dossier, or Russian fake intelligence prompted Mr. Comey’s email intervention—then Russian operations, via their impact on the FBI, influenced and continue to influence our politics in a way far more consequential than any Facebook ad, the preoccupation of John McCain, who apparently cannot behold a mountain if there’s a molehill anywhere nearby. Which means that Mr. Mueller has the means, motive and opportunity to obfuscate and distract from matters embarrassing to the FBI, while pleasing a large part of the political spectrum. He need only confine his focus to the flimsy, disingenuous but popular (with the media) accusation that the shambolic Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin."

Writes Holman Jenkins in the WSJ, quoted at Instapundit. (And the WSJ link worked for me without a subscription.)

"The elephant in the room is that we’re sort of talking about the double-headed dragon of the Rolling Stone interview and the Playboy interview."

A man and his metaphors:
At 32 and obsessed with outsmarting the idea of a “clichéd rock star,” he explained, “I started to invent my own grenade.” (His big mouth.) He was “a Mack Truck without brakes.” Tabloid fame was “a human-growth hormone” and “extracurricular stuff” anyway, Mr. Mayer said. “I basically realized I’m no good at that, so I’m going to drop that major.” Also: “What I did was probably semiconsciously just reboot it — control, alt, delete.” “It was an induced coma.” His career had “flatlined.” “It was cat and mouse,” he said, “and the mouse lost.”

Now approaching 40, “I’m old enough to look back on my life and go: ‘That’s probably the photonegative shot in ‘Behind the Music,’” Mr. Mayer said. “Coming up after the break — boom — the downfall.”
From "John Mayer Knows He Messed Up. He Wants Another Chance" (NYT).

October 24, 2017

"The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia..."

"... and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said. Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research. After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary...."

The Washington Post has shocking news tonight.

ADDED: Why are the "people familiar with the matter" talking about it now? I'll just note the correlation with this story (CBS):
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, announced Tuesday that his committee, along with the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, would investigate a 2010 uranium deal struck with Russia amid allegations that the FBI had gathered evidence about Russian attempts to influence Hillary and Bill Clinton through donations to the Clinton Family Foundation.

"One of the things we are concerned about is whether or not there was an FBI investigation, was there a DOJ investigation and if so, why was Congress not informed of this matter," Nunes told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday. The Hill reported last week that before the Obama administration approved the deal, the FBI had evidence that Russian nuclear officials had engaged in activities like bribery and extortion in their pursuit of uranium for Russia...
And from 2 days ago "Hopes Dim for Congressional Russia Inquiries as Parties Clash" (NYT):
All three committees looking into Russian interference — one in the House, two in the Senate — have run into problems... The Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry has barely started, delayed in part by negotiations over the scope of the investigation. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while maintaining bipartisan comity, have sought to tamp down expectations about what they might find. Nine months into the Trump administration, any notion that Capitol Hill would provide a comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling....


Captured in the wild by Instapundit.

If the frame were widened an additional line, it would bring in "Stevie Wonder Performs National Anthem on Knees..."