November 11, 2017

At the Electric Café...

P1150563

... you can go wherever you want.

(And please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"People often move for a reason that seems to have nothing to do with politics but then turns out to correlate to politics quite closely."

"According to a Pew survey, for instance, nearly eighty per cent of liberals like the idea of living in a dense neighborhood where you can walk to shops and schools, while seventy-five per cent of conservatives would rather live in a larger house with more space around it. After people move, the politics of the new place affect them. Those who move to a politically dissimilar place tend to become independents; those who move to a place where people vote the same way they do tend to become more extreme in their convictions. But there also seems to be something about the act of moving that disturbs people’s beliefs, regardless of where they end up. One woman left Orange City to attend college in a place that was, if anything, more conservative than her home town, but, even so, the experience changed her. 'Both of my parents are vocally conservative, so I thought I was a Republican all these years, but my views have changed,' she says. 'Living outside of a small rural town gives you a different perspective. When I think about taxes now, what comes to my mind is school funding coming from taxes, which perpetuates poverty, because schools in lower-income areas have lower graduation rates. When I think about immigration, I think, We all immigrated at some point—well, most of us—can we not remember that?...'"

From "Where the Small-Town American Dream Lives On/As America’s rural communities stagnate, what can we learn from one that hasn’t?" by Larissa MacFarquhar in The New Yorker.

Orange City is in Iowa, and I was listening to the audio version of the magazine as I took a walk in my neighborhood, over around by the stadium, where the home team is playing Iowa right now.

"You should act in a way that if everybody acted that way, things would work out."



Louis C.K., talking about selfishness.

"Most people kind of don't care. Most people are very selfish. Most people don't give a shit what happens as long as they get to do their favorite thing. People don't even want to back off from their favorite thing. They won't even do their second favorite thing."

That's from at least 4 years ago.

I'm thinking his favorite thing is masturbating while a woman watches, and his second favorite thing is masturbating alone. He couldn't just back off and do his second favorite thing.

Alchemical thoughts.



ADDED: "That the sperm of a man be putrefied by itself in a sealed cucurbit for forty days with the highest degree of putrefaction in a horse’s womb, or at least so long that it comes to life and moves itself, and stirs, which is easily observed. After this time, it will look somewhat like a man, but transparent, without a body. If, after this, it be fed wisely with the Arcanum of human blood, and be nourished for up to forty weeks, and be kept in the even heat of the horse’s womb, a living human child grows therefrom, with all its members like another child, which is born of a woman, but much smaller."

Local paper has an article about a guy who says "Good morning!" to people.

He's just a guy who runs a particular 3-mile route in Madison and calls out "Good morning!" to everyone (Isthmus).
“I love that guy,” one cyclist says to his partner as they speed past, looking back at Landis with a grin that suggests both ironic and sincere appreciation. Landis is already greeting the next person....

“When I first heard him, I thought that was so nice. Why don’t we say ‘good morning’ to people? That just seriously made my day better,” [another person] says.... “But a lot of other people I think really appreciate it,” she says. “I know I do.”

No soup for you.



"My Democratic friends are mad at me. So what? No gumbo for them."

(Donna Brazil, L.A. Times.)

"It’s a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some. It’s a cream that I have, that I use to soften..."

"... but has bleached me some. I’m not a racist, I live my life happily. What happened was that I had been using the cream for a long time and that, combined with the bright TV lights, made my face look whiter than it really is. I don’t think I look like Michael Jackson."

Said Sammy Sosa, whose new look has astounded a lot of people (NY Post).

Putin declines to confess to meddling. Again.

I see Trump and Putin got into their matching blue jammies* and chatted:
"He said he didn't meddle. He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.' And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. I think he is very insulted by it."
What's the point of asking? Whether the answer is yes or no, he's going to say no. It's not as if you can look into his eyes** and know if he's telling the truth.
____________________

* Should I not make fun of these oversized blue shirts?



I know they're supposed to be some sort of traditional garb of the host country (Vietnam), but I think that to show respect for the practice of putting on the local costume is to endorse cultural appropriation. The leaders should wear their own clothes and look serious.

** You can, however, form a belief about whether he's telling the truth. As George W. Bush famously said: "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul." I wasn't looking Bush in the eye when he said that, so I don't have a sense of whether he really believes you can get a sense of the soul from looking a man in the eye or, more importantly, whether the sense that he got was in fact that Putin is very straightforward and trustworthy. I think Bush was trying to play Putin, and I think Putin knew it. As for Trump, I'm sure he looked Putin in the eye, mainly as a way to try to control him, and I doubt if he takes anything Putin says at face value, and I'm sure Putin knows that.

"Oklahoma Woman Who Married Her Mother Pleads Guilty To Incest/Previously, the mother was married to another child, her biological son."

Headline at HuffPo.
Patricia Spann lost custody of [her daughter Misty Velvet Dawn Spann] and two other children when they were young.

The kids were adopted by their grandmother, and didn’t have contact with Patricia Spann until they were adults.... The two women reconnected back in 2014, reportedly “hit it off,” and decided to get married.

Patricia Spann told officials she didn’t think marrying Misty was illegal because her name is no longer listed on her daughter’s birth certificate....

"Trump’s conveniently flexible standard on accusations — and he is not alone — boils down to: If the accuser points a finger at a Democrat — Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein — her word is to be trusted, automatically."

"If she complains about a Republican, Trump’s otherwise dormant devotion to due process kicks in. How can claims from 'many years ago' be allowed to 'destroy a person’s life'? Some answers: Because they are entirely credible. Because the girl, now a woman, has no conceivable ax to grind — she is a longtime Republican, a Trump voter even — and nothing to gain from coming forward. Because three other women related similar, although less disturbing stories, underscoring Moore’s interest in younger girls. Because the presumption of innocence, while essential in the legal realm, does not mean the elimination of common sense outside it. (Thank you, Mitt Romney, for saying that.) The willing suspension of disbelief has its limits, or should."

Writes Ruth Marcus (in the Washington Post).

Marcus doesn't point out the larger proposition: Human beings tend to have a conveniently flexible standard on accusations that boils down to: If the accuser points a finger at somebody in the party I oppose, her word is to be trusted, if at all possible.

By the way, do you think Democrats will ever stop giving Bill Clinton a pass?

Why ostracize Louis C.K.?

I'm reading "Now that Louis C.K. has admitted he’s a pig, can we keep him? The answer is still no," by Hank Stuever in the Washington Post.

Why can't we hate the sin but love the sinner? To ostracize a person is to say: He's very different from us. His sins are of a different order. By cutting him off from us, we are restored. We're the good people, and we've demonstrated our goodness by ridding ourselves of that devil.

Steuver explains why the remedy is exile:
The end of Louis C.K. — who, at 50, is alive, but in a sense dead to us now — is a difficult but necessary loss.... A certain piggishness was always part of his act, wasn’t it?.... Onstage, he... turned such subjects (pedophilia, necrophilia, chronic onanism; but also marital strife, loss of libido, body-image issues) into a kind of perverted, guy-centric gold....

In [his TV series] “Louie”... Louie makes progress in his understanding of women by sharing the duties of raising his two young daughters as a single dad,....

So, is this goodbye? C.K.’s statement Friday, filled with everything but “I’m sorry,” could almost read as a treatment for that long-overdue new season of “Louie”....

The arc is clearly there: Louie’s behavior costs him everything, including some of his dearest friends, and he must scrape his way up from rock bottom, by listening rather than talking. Part of me wants to say I’m eager to see that show. But the far better part of me would rather see shows made by people who don’t assault and humiliate the people around them.
The exile is not from all family and friends. Stuever isn't talking about whether people who know Louis C.K. personally should "keep him." He's talking about whether people who don't know him at all should keep watching his shows. That is: Should we consume the intellectual work product of a mind that causes a man to behave the way Louis C.K. has done?

Yesterday, in this post, I interpreted Louis C.K.'s statement to mean that "from an ethical standpoint, consent is never enough." I said:
To share your sexuality with another person, you have to mean them well. You can't be taking advantage of them, even when they like you so much they say yes to what you're offering them. This isn't a legal argument. It's philosophy.

Don't offer bad sex, even to those who will consent to it. Don't take whatever you can get. You should know when you're extracting perverse pleasure from humiliating or hurting someone else.
The commenter Jupiter wrote:
Is it permissible to buy a hamburger in a restaurant if I don't actually hope and believe the chef will get a kick out of frying it? People use each other all the time.
I said:
The chef, if he's not a slave, is working for money. You get an exchange by adjusting the money to the level the chef is willing to work for.

Sex is different. You should not be adding other benefits in a sexual exchange. Either the sex alone is good for both, or, under the morality I am advocating, you should not be having sex. If you have to throw in money to equalize the exchange, you shouldn't be doing sex. Go out and get a hamburger instead. Have a conversation. Maybe some day someone will actually want to have sex with you.

To get closer to a better hamburger analogy, consider the situation where the chef knows he's using meat tainted with e coli, and the customer either doesn't realize it or is too dumb to care or thinks it will somehow still be okay or he's just so hungry he's only thinking about now. The chef wants to make the money, but he should not serve the meat.
What I hear Stuever saying is: Don't consume the tainted product.

By the way, if you're thinking of reconsidering all the intellectual work product you consume — movies, TV shows, books, political arguments — here's a great place to start: "Intellectuals" by Paul Johnson. Johnson shows why you won't want to consume what's been cooked up by Rousseau, Shelley, Marx, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Brecht, Sartre, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, and Noam Chomsky.

Maybe it's time bring back the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

November 10, 2017

"I don't understand the narrative purpose of withdrawing any mention of Hernandez. How does it make the piece more compelling?"

A comment on the NYT article, "On the Table, the Brain Appeared Normal," which engages in coy/literary storytelling:
The brain arrived in April, delivered to the basement of the hospital without ceremony, like all the others....

It went to the lab outside the city, instead of the one in Boston, where most of the examinations are performed these days, because it was less likely to attract attention that way... The brain was given a pseudonym....

[T]he brain came alone and disconnected from its past, unattached to its celebrity. The sordid details of the man’s rise and fall, the speculation over what went wrong, the debate over justice — all that was left behind for others to assess....

Louis C.K. puts out a statement: "These stories are true."

Here's the full text:
I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.

I have been remorseful of my actions. And I've tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.

I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn't want to hear it. I didn't think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it. There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.

I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.

The hardest regret to live with is what you've done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with whose professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You, Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie, and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.

I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.

I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen. Thank you for reading.
ADDED: Notice that he's taking a very strong position on the meaning of consent: It's not enough to ask and get a semblance of consent when you have power over another person. And he doesn't mean only power over the other person's career. He includes the power that you have because the other person admires you.

Now, Louis C.K. is fighting for his life here, so maybe he'll say anything, but let's assume this is sincere. I think it means that, from an ethical standpoint, consent is never enough. To share your sexuality with another person, you have to mean them well. You can't be taking advantage of them, even when they like you so much they say yes to what you're offering them. This isn't a legal argument. It's philosophy.

Don't offer bad sex, even to those who will consent to it. Don't take whatever you can get. You should know when you're extracting perverse pleasure from humiliating or hurting someone else. That's what I take Louis C.K. to be saying — whether he's sincere or not. He knows he did wrong, and I think he knows he got off on his own awfulness.

ALSO: Louis C.K. is free to apologize in such a morally profound way because what he is confessing to is not a criminal offense.

"I have nothing to do. I wish I had more to do."

Trump on Letterman in 1986:



(I zeroed in on the Trump part. Back up to the beginning for more context, but it's just Letterman picking a random couple to go with on a sightseeing tour of NYC.)

(Keep going after the selected part. Trump is also a regular sit-down guest on the show.)

"Louis C.K.’s new movie won’t be released after sexual misconduct claims."

Page Six reports.

A Chinese conspiracy theory about Trump.

From this fascinating, detailed BBC article about the meaning of the foods Trump ate in Japan, South Korea, and China:
The dish of chicken pieces stir fried with chillies originates from Sichuan province, as does another item on the menu, fish cooked in chilli oil.

It led some Chinese netizens to wonder if the menu was a subtle nod to "chuanpu", one of Mr Trump's nicknames which shares a Chinese character with Sichuan and is the source of one very odd conspiracy theory about Mr Trump's supposed Chinese origins. "Chuanpu's here, so time to serve Sichuan dishes?" asked one Weibo user.
That internal link goes to a BBC article from last December that says:
Last year, US President-elect Donald Trump was known as "bed-breaker" - a Chinese homonym for his name. This year, he's "chuanpu", one of two spellings of his name commonly used by mainstream media outlets. Some have joked about his connection to Sichuan, whose name shares the same Chinese character....

The conspiracy theory, spread on social networks Weibo and WeChat, is that Trump was born in 1946 in Sichuan when his father set up a business in China after World War Two. It's nonsense of course, but that hasn't stopped some locals from claiming him as "the pride of Sichuan"....

Melania walking in flats on the Great Wall of China and handing out stuffed bald eagles while looking at a real giant panda and Trump with his long hair blowing madly in the Chinese wind...

Great pics at The Daily Mail.

Have you heard about Dolores?

"There’s a part of my personality that I don’t like anyone to see, a part of me that is my Daddy’s girl. I call her Dolores and she does not like it when she thinks people are not being straight with her. I don’t want anyone to see Dolores but I could feel her rising up inside me as Brooklyn continued to waffle about Tom."

Writes Donna Brazile in her book "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House." (Tom, in case you're wondering, is someone Brazile wanted to hire at the DNC, where she was interim chair and outraged to be controlled by the Clinton campaign (i.e., "Brooklyn").)

"Dolores" was murderous:
One night when I went home I called Charlie Baker to warn him that I was struggling to keep Dolores contained. “Charlie, I’m about to kill Robby,” I told him. “And it ain’t going to be pretty.”...
"Dolores" had the biggest dick:
[Clinton campaign liaison Brandon Davis] looked at me sternly as if it was annoying him that I would try to take back control of the party as any chair would. Dolores was becoming furious. “You know, this does not feel like a negotiation to me,” I said. “This feels like power and control. Gentlemen, let’s just put our dicks out on the table and see who’s got the bigger one, because I know mine is bigger than all of yours.” The sound on the other end of the conference call was a rustle of confusion. “So what will it be, gentlemen? Because I am not waiting around anymore for permission. What do you say?” After some more deflecting and dissembling, their response was that they would have to get back to me. When the call was done, Brandon left the room, looking disgusted. This day was serious. This whole election was serious, and for a moment there I was concerned that I had taken it too far in the way I had confronted Brooklyn. I recovered from that quickly though. We could not lose this election to Donald Trump and I was not going to play nice or waste time. Dolores might be rude and feisty, but she usually got what she needed. Those boys in Brooklyn probably never wanted to speak to Dolores again.
By the way, I'm getting bored reading Brazile's book. The main thing is that — as she tells it now — she wanted the interim chair position to give her an independent role, making decisions and spending money for the Clinton campaign, and the campaign exercised control. Her predecessor Debbie Wasserman Schultz had — as Brazile tells it — known her place and laid back and enjoyed her perks.
I think Debbie understood the rules of the game. She would not cause anyone any trouble. Now that I was replacing Debbie, it appeared Brandon’s job had expanded to include making sure that I played that game, too. Brandon was the first one in the door on Sunday, and he took a seat on the brown leather sofa across from me. Here was a young man without a boundary facing a woman who has walls built up and barbed wire around them, too. He was the kind of guy who would argue with you about the color of a wall. I said that this pink was too bright for my tastes, and he corrected me saying this was not a bright pink, it was a tropical pink.
What kind of guy argues with a woman about the right name for a particular tone of pink? Is it a woman-with-the-biggest-dick move to make a guy talk about pinkness?

"As I listened to that song, I kept thinking about the Texas church shooter, Dylan Roof, Las Vegas."

Wrote Annie C in the comments to the first post of the day, which was about Roy Moore but ended by taking an off ramp into the old Doors song "People Are Strange."



I had a similar response. Jim Morrison experienced intense love from his fans. He was perhaps the most sexually attractive man on earth as you see him in that old video. But the words were the words of the complete social outcast, utterly unsuccessful with women and taking his loserdom to a dark place.

There's the repeated line that resonates with today's sexual harassment stories: "Women seem wicked when you're unwanted...."

By the way, I've never been a Doors fan, but I've always liked that one song, "People Are Strange."

Here's the Echo & the Bunnyman version that was used in the 1987 movie "The Lost Boys":



Speaking of today's sexual harassment stories, did you notice Corey Haim and Corey Feldman in that "Lost Boys" footage?

There's a blandness refuge on front page of the New York Times.

I've located it for you:
There are readers who are looking for a refuge from the chaos and pain, and once they find this spot — scroll down to find it — they can soothe their weary minds.

I only clicked through to the article on Taylor Swift. Did you know Taylor Swift songs are "bombastic, unexpected, sneakily potent" and "overt... about sexual agency" and she's "barrel[ing] ahead... charting her own sui generis path"?

Language quibble: "own sui generis" is a redundancy.

"If everything he's doing has a very specific motivation behind it, why's he talking to us?" (The NYT interviews Steve Bannon.)



ADDED: I'd like to see a transcript of the full interview. That video is edited, and I'm not seeing edits that seem unfair, but I'd like to see or read the whole thing.

"Saving Steve Bannon’s reputation as the leader of some (doomed) movement certainly isn’t worth it, not for the cost to the GOP not to mention your own souls."

That's the last line of Jonah Goldberg's column "Saving Roy Moore Isn’t Worth It."

It's hard to talk about the Roy Moore situation without including whatever preexisting bias you had about his impending election to the U.S. Senate.

Just yesterday, in the context of the racist graffiti hoax at the Air Force Academy, I was looking up the word "opportunism":
"Opportunism" is "The practice or policy of exploiting circumstances or opportunities to gain immediate advantage, rather than following a predetermined plan; the ability or tendency to exploit circumstances in this way. In later use esp. with the implication of cynicism or lack of regard to principles" (OED).
I understand using whatever you've got, whatever comes your way, when you're trying to defeat a political opponent. And when opportunities arise — like WaPo's "Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32" — they will be exploited for immediate advantage. And there's no plan going forward. You could never get everyone together on a plan for what's acceptable in bringing up allegations about something sexual that happened in private many years ago. How many years ago? How close to the election? Which sexual things? Is kissing and petting a 14-year-old worse than brutally raping a 35-year-old? How do we factor in a failure to report the incident to the police or to bring a civil lawsuit?

Can we at least agree — as an abstract principle — that the standard should be the same for everyone who is accused? Do we not have a foundation of due process — fairness — values? We need to treat Roy Moore the way we would want our favorite politician to be treated, right?

I'm afraid most Americans will say wrong. I think most of us want to look at everything, give everything whatever weight we want, including suspicions like Pizzagate, and let it all roil and seethe throughout our crazy little minds and then go vote. That's democracy. It's not a court of law. And anyway, those judges and jurors in a court of law are only trying (or pretending) to be rational.

Jonah Goldberg says we should just assume WaPo got it right — WaPo, which must want the GOP candidate to lose. He says:
Now, if you honestly think all of the people talking to the Washington Post are lying and that the Post somehow got them all to make this up, you have got one of the biggest stories of the century. If you can prove it, Roy Moore will end up owning the Post after his lawsuit.
Moore knows whether the allegations are true or not. He can withdraw if he knows they're true, but Goldberg says he should withdraw even if he knows the allegations are false, because he can make so much money in a defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post.

But Goldberg is only saying that because he thinks Moore is bad in so many other ways and because having to defend Moore will hurt the kind of Republicans he likes.

And Moore can't win that lawsuit, even if he knows the allegations are false. He's a public figure, and WaPo is protected when it publishes false statements, unless the plaintiff can prove that there was reckless disregard for whether it was false. The Washington Post was careful to make that impossible.  Goldberg knows that, I think, because he was cagey enough to write that Moore would have to prove that "the Post somehow got them all to make this up." That's a lot to prove! That's the point of the defamation law. The Post is not at risk putting this material out there for people to decide for themselves how to use.

Most people, I suspect, already didn't like Roy Moore and didn't want him in the Senate, but the question is what will Alabama voters do with it. We're talking about people who chose him in the primary over the more normal man named Strange. That's not easy to discern. People are strange.

November 9, 2017

"They call him 'Donald the Strong.' They heap praise on his family. They fawn over his rapid-fire tweets...."

According to the NYT.
“He’s true to himself,” said Dai Xiang, a resident of the eastern province of Jiangsu who belongs to an online group of more than 23,000 people that exchanges news and commentary about Mr. Trump. “He’s real, unlike other politicians.”...

They refer to him as “Uncle Trump,” “Grand Commander” and “Donald the Strong.” After Mr. Trump’s visit to the Forbidden City on Wednesday with President Xi Jinping, one fan wrote on social media, “Long live Emperor Trump!”

"President Donald Trump's long-time confidant Keith Schiller privately testified that he rejected a Russian offer to send five women to then private-citizen Trump's hotel room..."

"... during their 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, according to multiple sources from both political parties with direct knowledge of the testimony. Schiller, Trump's former bodyguard and personal aide, testified that he took the offer as a joke, two of the sources said. On their way up to Trump's hotel room that night, Schiller told the billionaire businessman about the offer and Trump laughed it off, Schiller told the House intelligence committee earlier this week.... Members of the committee raised the matter because of salacious allegations laid out in a dossier compiled by former British agent Christopher Steele, an opposition research document funded by Democrats detailing alleged ties between Trump and his associates with Russians."

CNN reports.

"Goodbye." [UPDATE: This does not mean Paul is dead!]



What a great Paul McCartney song. I didn't realize this was a McCartney song. I knew the Mary Hopkin recording. Wikipedia:
To assist Hopkin in learning the song, McCartney recorded a solo demo at his home, 7 Cavendish Road, London, in February 1969.... To better match Hopkin's voice, the key was raised from C major to E major....  For the recording, Hopkin sang and performed acoustic guitar, while McCartney played bass guitar... The song was never officially released by either the Beatles or Paul McCartney, although bootleg recordings exist of McCartney's original demo of the song, recorded for Mary Hopkin. The international online magazine PopMatters has published McCartney's demo along with critical commentary expressing a preference for the composer's version over Hopkin's rendition.
I agree. Here's Hopkin's version for comparison.



ADDED: I just ran across this video by accident and loved it. I'm sorry I did not notice that the post title might make people think Paul is dead.

ALSO: I put up this post on November 9th, the anniversary of the day in 1966 when Paul (supposedly) blew his mind out in a car.

"Now, after years of unsubstantiated rumors about Louis C.K. masturbating in front of associates, women are coming forward..."

"... to describe what they experienced. Even amid the current burst of sexual misconduct accusations against powerful men, the stories about Louis C.K. stand out because he has so few equals in comedy. In the years since the incidents the women describe, he has sold out Madison Square Garden eight times, created an Emmy-winning TV series, and accumulated the clout of a tastemaker and auteur, with the help of a manager who represents some of the biggest names in comedy. And Louis C.K. built a reputation as the unlikely conscience of the comedy scene, by making audiences laugh about hypocrisy — especially male hypocrisy."

The NYT reports.

The main story that begins the article has 2 women accepting an invitation to hang out in his hotel room and then being "asked if he could take out his penis." He asked, and they just laughed, as they tell the story. He got completely naked and masturbated.
The stories told by the women raise sharp questions about the anecdotes that Louis C.K. tells in his own comedy. He rose to fame in part by appearing to be candid about his flaws and sexual hang-ups, discussing and miming masturbation extensively in his act — an exaggerated riff that some of the women feel may have served as a cover for real misconduct.
That's stand-up comedy, in essence. Standing in front of people naked (metaphorically) and masturbating (metaphorically). It's not surprising that this would be the man's sexual fetish. Why is he getting thrown in with the other men who are getting ruined these days? It sounds to me as though he asked for permission. What is the story here, that people have decided his sexuality is loathsome? Am I missing something? I would give this man his privacy. We're getting into Pee-Wee Herman territory now. Masturbation is not a big deal. These women were not forced to watch him masturbate:
During Ms. Goodman and Ms. Wolov’s surreal visit to Louis C.K.’s Aspen hotel room, they said they were holding onto each other, screaming and laughing in shock, as Louis C.K. masturbated in a chair. “We were paralyzed,” Ms. Goodman said. After he ejaculated on his stomach, they said, they fled. He called after them: “He was like, ‘Which one is Dana and which one is Julia?’” Ms. Goodman recalled.
If they were "screaming and laughing in shock," they were acting like the audience at a stand-up show. They should have just left. Before "he ejaculated on his stomach." Which I don't need to know. I'm sure it was aggravating that he didn't know Dana from Julia, but that's not a reason to destroy the man.

ADDED: "I mean, everybody's a pervert. I'm a pervert. We're perverts. Who cares?" That's the last line of the trailer for Louis C.K.'s new movie:



And the answer to that question is: Everybody cares now. It's everybody's business. And that movie you worked so hard on is, instantly, trash. The evocation of Woody Allen's "Manhattan" isn't art now. It's ick.

The dangerous speed-lace hook.

I've been wearing these hiking boots for 8 years without any trouble, but 3 times in the last week, the lace on one boot has caught on the hook from the other boot:



Each time I've tripped but caught myself before falling, probably because the lace didn't hook in completely tightly (and I wasn't taking fast strides). The first time it happened, I thought, what a bizarre fluke, but when it happened 2 more times in close succession, I had to admit that the design was dangerous.

I found a few stories on the internet:

1. "So I'm out for my hike this morning with a 45 lb pack, my Hanwag Alaska GTX Boots and my Kahtoola Micro-Spikes... I'm coming down a steep rocky grade and suddenly both of my feet are somehow shackled together, resulting in a major wipe-out that somehow, miraculously resulted in no damage to my pathetic body. As I lay in the rock-slide assessing if I'd broken anything I realized that my feet were inexplicably connected at the ankles. One of the links on my spikes had caught a speed lace hook on the opposite foot and hooked my boots together."

2. "I have a problem with the lace of my boot catching on the backward facing open eyelet hook (for the laces) of my opposite foot when my feet pass each other. In the last five years I have fallen from this four times and when I fall I fall extremely hard and broke my arm pretty severely once and injured my hip in another fall. It happens extremely unexpectedly and my feet are essentially tied together."

"Trump’s granddaughter gets praise and sympathy for singing for Chinese president."

Here's the video of his daughter Arabella that Trump showed to China's president Xi Jinping:



The Washington Post has to give it a mixed review. The headline is "Trump’s granddaughter gets praise and sympathy for singing for Chinese president." But it seems so positive:
Her Chinese is very good: She is reported to have been learning it from her Chinese nanny since she was an infant.

She sang a children’s song about sweeping rice fields, a jade-green river and a lake studded with lotus flowers, stocked with fat, golden carp and with flocks of ducks hiding in the reeds. She also recited the Three Characters Classic, an ancient text used to teach children the key values of Confucianism, as well as two other poems and another song.

On the Chinese Internet, Arabella won praise — one netizen called her an “adorable girl” whose Chinese is great, according to one widely shared post.

“This little girl is so smart, hope in the future that she can make a bigger contribution between friendly exchanges China and the United States,” wrote another netizen.

China’s Foreign Ministry even brought it up at its regular news conference on Thursday.

“Arabella as a small messenger of Sino-American friendship is deeply loved by the Chinese people,” said spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “I believe it will also help to narrow the feelings and distance between the peoples of China and the United States.”
What's the negative? A child was made to perform "in public," someone is quoted as saying, but she's just in a video, not knowing people would be watching. (Over 11 million watched on the first day.) I'm personally opposed to the use of children in politics, but as uses go, this one is great, because the child isn't saying anything political. She's just showing her knowledge of Chinese language and culture. Confucianism is sort of political, but so ancient that it hardly counts as political, and the ideas Arabella incanted were things like: respect your parents and teachers.

Of course, the haters at WaPo had to spring into action in the comments. The top-rated comment is: "Did Arabella sing for Grandpa Vladimir too?" Second:
Exploiting his granddaughter is "par for the course." (pun intended.... All this admiration and all those compliments from the Chinese.... Clearly the Chinese got the message that flattering this narcissistic fool will get you anywhere you want to go......I would love to hear what the Chinese president says when this clearly insane Trump is not in hearing....they must be laughing their heads off that we have chosen such a "dotard." And, they are right!!!!!!
Third:
There isn't enough therapy in the world to fix the problems that kid is going to have, springing from that gene pool. Apparently, you can never start using your offspring early enough to clinch a deal.
And here's Scott Adams doing his Periscope this morning. Somewhere in there he calls the Arabella video the positive equivalent of the powerful negative persuasion that was the anti-Ed Gillespie pickup truck ad.

Café!

IMG_1614

Talk about anything.

"Germany must create a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or were born with ambiguous sexual traits..."

"... the country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday, finding that binary gender designations violated the right to privacy.... The ruling arrives as society, medicine and law increasingly recognize the ways in which gender is socially constructed and not necessarily fixed or stable.... 'The assignment to a gender is of paramount importance for individual identity; it typically occupies a key position both in the self-image of a person and how the person is perceived by others,' the court found. 'It also protects the sexual identity of those persons who are neither male nor female.''

The NYT reports.

"My secret to eternal youth is to take an ice-cold bath once a day."

From "25 Famous Women on Their Strangest Habits" at New York Magazine.

The eternally young ice-cold bather is Yoko Ono.

I wonder whether the New Yorker's "comma queen" considered whether to put a hyphen in "Adventures in Geriatric Dogsitting."

Remember, we were just talking about the difference between "dog-lover" and "dog lover," as discussed by Mary Norris, in "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen":
A dog-lover is one who loves dogs; the dogs are the object of his love. James Thurber was a dog-lover. A dog lover, without the hyphen, is still a dog—the Tramp, say, in Lady and the Tramp.... A bird-watcher is a watcher of birds; a bird watcher would be a bird that keeps an eye on things.... In 'star fucker,' without the hyphen, each word has equal weight: a fucker who is a star. But in 'star-fucker' the hyphen tips the weight to the first element, the object (star) of the activity embodied in the noun (fucking).
Mary Norris is the long-time copy editor at The New Yorker, which is what I'm reading when I get to this nice comic by Gabrielle Bell titled "Adventures in Geriatric Dogsitting." I assume it's about the travails of an older person taking on the task of dogsitting. But, no, it's about a youngish person who is taking care of old dogs. I'm thinking a hyphen — or something — would have put me on the right track. Adventures in Geriatric-Dog Sitting? No, that's no good. Dogsitting is a funny word, and sitting seems like the wrong word if it's not compounded with whatever's getting sat.

The problem is more profound. Unlike the examples in the "dog-lover" paragraph, the noun modified by "geriatric" is not a thing that can grow old. Dogsitting is a practice and not an animal (canine or human). It doesn't matter whether the person or the dog is elderly. The sitting is not geriatric. You've got to disaggregate the dog from the sitting to use the adjective. I'd like to recommend scrapping that title and elevating the first line of the comic to the title position: "How did I find myself the custodian of two geriatric dogs?"

But you see what they're clinging to? "Adventures in Geriatric Dogsitting." It's a play on the movie title "Adventures in Babysitting." Sometimes you have to let that sort of thing go. Why dredge up an glossily commercial 1987 movie anyway? We've got a story here of a person who doesn't want to take care of dogs, who is forced into needing to look after 2 dogs that lack control of their bowels. Adventures in dogshitting.

It's kind of a good comic. My favorite thing about it is that 5 panels after we're told the larger dog is named Kerouac, this happens:
That's also the only panel out of 14 panels where the words bulge beyond the boundary of the square outline.

To really push beyond the square boundary, read "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac.
...they rushed down the street together digging everything in the early way they had which has later now become so much sadder and perceptive.. but then they danced down the street like dingledodies and I shambled after as usual as I’ve been doing all my life after people that interest me, because the only people that interest me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing.. but burn, burn, burn like roman candles across the night.
Yeah, 2 dots after "commonplace thing." 2, not 3. There's nothing in the Comma Queen book about the 2-dot ellipsis (though there is something about the diaeresis (the dots in naïve)).

I guess 3 dots are a normal person's pause, and Kerouac was hot to get on to his burn, burn, burn — bulging beyond the conventions of the square.

Somehow the "Ask Polly" answer to a letter that begins "I hate men" devolves into "Fuck dioramas, that’s all. Public school is a never-ending scourge of dioramas."

"They drain your fucking time and your will to live, and for what? So your kid learns that clay figures fall to pieces once they’re fully dry? So your kid learns how to cry big salty tears at the sight of a little polar-bear head rolling right off a little polar-bear body, and screams, 'THIS IS SO UNFAIR! NOW I HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN!' My husband is no help when this happens. He’s a professor of education, so he really fixates on the stupidity of these things. His ass drops out onto the floor every time he catches wind of another diorama assignment. That leaves me to coach my kid. And honestly, sometimes I just want to tell her, 'Look, the whole world is stupid and selfish and lazy and nukes are about to rain down on us, so why even make another goddamn polar bear? Maybe it’s time to start experimenting with getting less than an A. You know I won’t mind. See how it feels! Try it on for size.' But I do have some restraint. So instead, I tell her, 'Dioramas, like all arbitrary, tedious, pointless educational exercises, require a higher level of Zen. You must expect pain and ruin, toil and suffering, and you must let go. Surrender to the excruciating nothingness of the task at hand, and try to enjoy it, knowing it was designed to crush your will and render you enraged and jaded and all alone in your pain. The real point of this bullshit, at least the point as far as WE are concerned, is to find some way to enjoy it, in spite of how stupid it is. So take your time, and focus on savoring every hideous moment of this.'"

That's in New York Magazine. The relationships/diorama analogy.

I think it means: Drop out of school and embrace solitude.

Racist graffiti at the Air Force Academy was writen by a cadet who had seemed to be one of the victims.

The NYT reports:
The words “Go home,” followed by a racial slur, were found scrawled in marker on message boards outside the rooms of five black cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School in late September. The discovery led to an uproar on campus, and the widely shared video of a speech by the superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria....

The episode renewed concerns that falsely reported hate crimes could make it more difficult for people with legitimate grievances to be taken seriously, particularly in a time when the reports of hate crimes are highly politicized.

“There are opportunists who try to paint this problem as indicative that they are not occurring, when they actually are,” said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. While hoaxes form a tiny percentage of total hate crime reports, Mr. Levin said he had an “anecdotal sense that we have seen somewhat of an increase in these hoaxes over the last year or so.”
Wait. Who are the "opportunists"? I don't think of myself as an opportunist — in fact, I'm pretty much exactly the opposite — but what I've been doing for years is taking note of reports of racist graffiti and withholding any opinion until there's more information. I don't think it's always a hoax, but it's often enough a hoax that getting immediately excited about it seems to encourage more hoaxes. I do feel sorry for the people who feel bad during the period when they think it's real. Wouldn't my approach of reserving judgment be better? Is it opportunism to recommend that people hope there is no racism, but merely somebody using a stupid technique for getting them excited about racism?

"Opportunism" is "The practice or policy of exploiting circumstances or opportunities to gain immediate advantage, rather than following a predetermined plan; the ability or tendency to exploit circumstances in this way. In later use esp. with the implication of cynicism or lack of regard to principles" (OED).

It seems to me, the person who wrote the graffiti was the opportunist. He's jumping at what he perceives as an immediate advantage and he has no real plan.

November 8, 2017

It was one year ago tonight... "Everybody is crying and so upset and it is the end of their world."



"How did this happen?!"

"You're awake, by the way. You're not having a terrible, terrible dream."

"Moderate Democrat defeats Bush family surrogate in Virginia."

David Blaska puts yesterday in perspective.

President Trump addresses the National Assembly in South Korea.



I listened to the whole thing and imagined the South Koreans imagining what it would be like for Americans to hear our President tell the story of the greatness of the South Koreans. Presumably, he got some things wrong and oversimplified, but he was explaining them to us, and I have to believe they loved thinking about so many of us hearing their story told by our President. Trump seems to love to make statements about how great various other people are, and he leaned into this one — how great the South Koreans are (and how terribly the North Koreans suffer).

Here's the transcript. Excerpt:
Much of this great city of Seoul was reduced to rubble. Large portions of the country were scarred -- severely, severely hurt -- by this horrible war. The economy of this nation was demolished. But as the entire world knows, over the next two generations something miraculous happened on the southern half of this peninsula....

What you have built is truly an inspiration. Your economic transformation was linked to a political one. The proud, sovereign, and independent people of your nation demanded the right to govern themselves.... And when the Republic you won faced financial crisis, you lined up by the millions to give your most prized possessions -- your wedding rings, heirlooms, and gold “luck keys” -- to restore the promise of a better future for your children.

Your wealth is measured in more than money -- it is measured in achievements of the mind and achievements of spirit. Over the last several decades, your scientists of engineers -- have engineered so many magnificent things. You've pushed the boundaries of technology, pioneered miraculous medical treatments, and emerged as leaders in unlocking the mysteries of our universe.

Korean authors penned roughly 40,000 books this year. Korean musicians fill concert halls all around the world. Young Korean students graduate from college at the highest rates of any country. And Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth....

Grasshoppers in the news.

1. "Dead grasshopper discovered in Vincent van Gogh painting.... Curators at the Nelson-Atkins museum of art in Kansas City said they discovered the dead insect in one of its star paintings, Vincent van Gogh’s Olive Trees.... 'Looking at the painting with the microscope ... I came across the teeny-tiny body of a grasshopper submerged in the paint, so it occurred in the wet paint back in 1889. We can connect it to Van Gogh painting outside, so we think of him battling the elements, dealing with the wind, the bugs, and then he’s got this wet canvas that he’s got to traipse back to his studio through the fields."
2. "Grasshoppers feasting on Southeast Arizona crops, gardens. Walking through fields on a farm near Cascabel as it teemed with grasshoppers was like 'parting the Red Sea.'... After the strong 2016 monsoon season, more grasshoppers survived and were able to lay their eggs in pods in the ground when winter arrived, usually between 20 and 200 eggs depending on the species... 'I keep thinking the cold weather will take them down,' Cardona said. 'They’re still here.'"


CC http://www.birdphotos.com

3. "Grasshopper Cannabis Kiosks Make a Splash at the [National Cannabis Industry Association] Show.... The Grasshopper product line includes a Self-Service Kiosk that can efficiently dispense up to 60 unique SKU's via a large high-definition touchscreen display menu - making it a powerful tool for dispensaries to promote and sell their most popular products, including flower, concentrates, accessories and vaporizers."

"Parents at one Miami-area school are being offered the chance to purchase bulletproof panels for their children's backpacks to guard against a school shooting."


"It's just a tool.... I'd rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying, 'Wow, I wish we would've done that.'"

"I am focused on doing the best job that I can to represent my constituents here in Florida’s 23rd District.... My focus, which is what my constituents elected me to do, is to make sure that I can fight for the things they care about."

Said Debbie Wasserman Schultz, reacting to pressure to respond to the many accusations of abject mismanagement lodged against her by Donna Brazile.

Debbie's answer resonated. I felt I heard the voice of Bill Clinton... And I need to go back to work for the American people...

"If you see enough movies, you’re eventually going to see a lot of people lose parts of their bodies."

"Name any part of the body and it has surely been severed at one time or another in a movie.... [Y]ou could easily create a Frankenstein’s monster out of the body parts that have been severed in movies. Here is how it should be done...."

The finger in the news.

1. "A Virginia cyclist who was photographed extending her middle finger at President Trump’s motorcade as it drove past her last month has lost her job because of the gesture, [Juli Briskman, 50,] said on Monday," reports the NYT. "'We have chosen to separate from you,' she quoted one of them as saying to her, citing the company’s social media policy ban on 'obscene content.' She said she was told that she was not meeting the company’s code of conduct and that the officials feared 'it could hurt business' because of their work related to government contracts."

2. "After former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas got the boot, Gubb began trading Gupta-owned Oakbay shares in order to create, in the price chart, a work of art depicting a middle finger. It all took off when Gordhan called on the country’s citizens to mobilise and join the dots. Gubb did his bit in the form of what is almost certainly first piece of protest art on a financial media platform in the world. To create his art, Gubb traded Gupta-owned Oakbay shares." Reports The South African, via Bloomberg, "This Artist Is Giving the Finger to the Stock Market/Should a man of the information age be punished for creating pure magic?"

"There is a natural order of things... a woman's arm is constructed at a certain angle so that she can adequately cradle a baby."

"This is the way we're created. There are just certain things that nature intended.... I know that might not be a popular view around here, but there is a created order that we must all follow."

Said the Virginia state legislator Robert G. Marshall, back in 2006. He called himself Virginia's "chief homophobe."

And — perhaps because the natural order of things is that pride goeth before a fall and the first shall be lasthe lost his bid for reelection to Danica Roem, a transgender woman.
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” a jubilant Roem said Tuesday night as her margin of victory became clear. “This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias . . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”

"I would like to talk to Kevin Spacey... I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career."

"So, O.K., it happened 10 years ago . . . Jesus, suck it up once in a while!... I would like to ask [Spacey] how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because of 10 minutes of indiscretion 10 years or more ago.... You know something, all of us in this room at one time or another did something we’re ashamed of. The Dalai Lama has done something he’s ashamed of. The Dalai Lama should confess . . . put that in your magazine!"

Said the venerable author Gay Talese, quoted at Vanity Fair, and of course, subsequently savaged on Twitter. As summarized at WaPo:
Esquire editor Tyler Coates played off Talese’s own quote, writing, “I’d like to ask Gay Talese how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because he revealed himself to be a” sh— “person.”

“Petition To Force Gay Talese To Change His Name To Straightoldguy Talese,” tweeted NPR book and movie reviewer Glen Weldon.

“I could steal Talese’s car in less than 10 minutes. I don’t think he’d shrug it off,” tweeted one user.

“Oh dear, twitter’s gonna make Gay Talese wish he was trending because he died,” wrote one user.

Brain teaser about Hillary Clinton in Donna Brazile's book.

I've been reading Donna Brazile's new book "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House," and I encountered a (presumably unintended) brain teaser, which I have already figured out.

First, see if you can find the brain teaser in this passage. The context is, some weeks after the election, Donna Brazile –  the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee — is finally getting a telephone call from Hillary Clinton:
She asked me how I was doing and I said I was fine. She sounded rested and confident, as if the Hillary I knew had returned. I told her about the Future Forums and that I felt good about the people who were running to be the new leaders of the party. We were in better shape financially than we had been in months. Before leaving the White House, the president had agreed to do one more fund-raising appeal, and our online fund-raising was outpacing previous months. We had almost $11 million in the bank, which would give the new chair a head start. This was chitchat, like I was talking to someone I didn’t know. This was not I can’t wait to see you. Let’s get together. You stepped up and I really wanted to thank you for doing it. I know Hillary. I know she was being as sincere as possible, but I wanted something more from her.
So does she know Hillary or not? She says "the Hillary I knew had returned" and "I know Hillary," but also that it was "like... talking to someone I didn’t know."

My solution to the brain teaser is: The real Hillary is like a person you do not know.

"Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for."

"Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”

Tweeted Trump, quoted in a WaPo piece with a headline that seems premature, "Republicans seek new path after failure of Gillespie’s ‘Trumpism without Trump.’" That's by Michael Scherer and David Weigel. How do they know what Republicans are seeking based on one Republican losing a race in a blue state? Or is this just another headline that doesn't represent the text of the article?

Scherer and Weigel begin:
The Republican Party thought it had a plan to win the governor’s mansion in Virginia: Run a mainstream candidate who could nonetheless employ the racially charged culture-war rhetoric of President Trump to turn out a white working-class base.
Yikes. Did that happen? Republicans had that as a plan? Sounds more like the Democratic Party's plan to defeat the Republican — get people to believe that's what Ed was doing. I saw the pickup truck ad: Scare people into thinking Republicans are heartless haters.
A onetime establishment stalwart, Ed Gillespie, declined to campaign with Trump — but he executed the plan as well as he could. He defended Confederate memorials, vilified Central American gangs in ads that looked like horror movies and even denounced the kneeling protests of professional football players.
So an old-time GOP guy got dressed up for Election Day as an old-time GOP guy's idea of what Trump is. I didn't follow the race closely enough to know what Gillespie actually did, but I do think that GOP candidates can't be like Trump by adopting a bunch of seemingly Trumpish policy positions.

Compare what Scott Adams wrote in his phenomenal book "Win Bigly/Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter":
[P]ersuasion was more important to the outcome than policies; we just perceive it to be the other way around.... If you think Trump’s policies got him elected, you have to explain why his positions substantially changed during the campaign and he still won. My filter explains it perfectly: Trump is so persuasive that policies didn’t matter. People voted for him even as his policies were murky and changing....

You might have seen a viral video on Jimmy Kimmel Live of street interviews in which a prankster presented Trump’s policy positions as Hillary Clinton’s policies and asked her supporters if they agreed with those positions. Lots of people said they did. I’ll take it one step further by saying Trump would have won the election even if he and Clinton had switched positions and erased our memories of their old opinions. It literally didn’t matter what policies either person brought to the table. People made up their minds based on biases alone. That is typical when you get to the final two candidates, as both of them are capable of doing the job. So we use our biases to break the tie. Later we will imagine that our reasons were totally rational.
Here's the Jimmy Kimmel thing:



ADDED: I didn't follow the Virginia race enough to know what exactly Gillespie did to try to appropriate some idea of what Trump is.

But the idea of copying Trump by acting hardcore towards immigrants is very stupid. I don't think anyone really understands what Trump did, which was at a deeper level of the human psyche than can really be figured out. (Thank God! Or we would be screwed.)

Scott Adams is somewhere in the general area of trying to understand what happened, and I respect what he wrote, but he's not being completely serious and he's into winning bigly for himself (as he admits from time to time when it's entertaining to do so).

We're very lucky that the thing Trump did cannot be discerned and repeated, certainly not just by some political hack who tries to imitate Trump. It won't even work to — as Trump himself put it — "embrace me" and "what I stand for."

Trump followed his own instincts, and what he said and did came from inside himself, and that's why it felt frighteningly impulsive to many of us. It was quite bizarre. No one else can do what he did, but can they do something like what he did? You have to be somebody. The person who's come closest so far is Bernie Sanders.

November 7, 2017

At the Oak Leaf Café...

P1150674

... you can talk all night.

(And you can shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"Why does China love President Donald Trump? He's 'extremely rich,' a 'free spirit' and his daughter Ivanka is a 'goddess.'"

That's from Newsweek, reporting on social media in China.
“Chinese people are impressed that he is extremely rich, he loves things splendid and magnificent, and he loves to show off,” Yin Hao, who has close to one million Sina Weibo followers, told Reuters.

Besides his success in business—an important value for Chinese—Trump is popular for his contempt for political correctness and his tendency to defy traditional liberal western views, which many Chinese consider elitist, according to Shanghai-based political commentator Chen Jibing.

“In China, realists hold a deep-rooted belief that the rule of the jungle means the strong prey on the weak,” Chen told Reuters. “For them, the world is not split into right and wrong, good or evil, it is only success or failure, the powerful and the weak.”

"Someone told me, who’s friends with someone in the White House or formerly in the White House, that Melania Trump loves SNL and she loves my impersonation."

Said Alec Baldwin.
According to this unnamed source inside the White House (or formerly in the White House), the First Lady loves the bombastic impression because of it’s accuracy, as Melania allegedly said “that’s exactly what he’s like.” The actor added, “Trump is horrified and beside himself that his wife actually thinks it’s funny.”
How much of that do you believe?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Have you seen this awful anti-Gillespie ad?



I'm only seeing that now because I'm reading that it was talked about on last Sunday's "Meet the Press," where Chuck Todd interviewed the DNC chair Tom Perez. The ad (above) is played and Todd asks:
Aren't you stereotyping? Are all pickup trucks--I drive a pickup truck. I mean, are all pickup truck drivers racist? That’s what the ad--do you understand why some people think the ad implies that?
Perez plunges into distraction and evasion:
Well, Chuck, let's be clear...
(That is, let's not be clear.)
... about what's happening in the race in Virginia and in all too many races, dog-whistle politics. Steve Bannon just endorsed Ed Gillespie in Virginia this morning. And throughout this campaign, Ed Gillespie has been fear mongering. He's been doing the same thing Donald Trump did. That's not fair. That's not right. Virginia, under Ralph Northam's leadership, under Justin Fairfax leadership, they're looking for a way to unite people.
The ad is the opposite of attempting to unite people.
And Ed Gillespie, throughout the campaign, has been dividing people. And when you, when you hit the bully back, and the bully starts crying, those are crocodile tears to me.
The ad isn't hitting Gillespie. It's generating amorphous fear that some ill-defined evil is out to do something symbolized by mowing down children with a truck.

Perez registered no shame or regret about that ad.

ADDED: That ad made me think about something Scott Adams wrote in "Win Bigly":
Fear can be deeply persuasive. But not all fear-related persuasion is equal. To maximize your fear persuasion, follow these guidelines.
A big fear is more persuasive than a small one.

A personal fear is more persuasive than a generic national problem.

A fear that you think about most often is stronger than one you rarely think about.

A fear with a visual component is scarier than one without.

A fear you have experienced firsthand (such as a crime) is scarier than a statistic.
I'd say that pickup truck ad followed all the guidelines for maximizing fear persuasion. It went too far and got criticism, and yet the criticism made it viral. I'm passing it on, and you can probably tell that I hope that looking at it together and being critical lifts us above our animal instincts and helps us resist irrational fear. But I don't know. Maybe that visual image, the truck coming after the children is still lodged in my head, affecting my decisions.

"12 months later, Trump would probably still win the 2016 election."

That's by Aaron Blake at WaPo. I don't know how you can compare a person who's actually been carrying out the responsibilities of the presidency with someone you're only asked to imagine as President. It tests something, but not what would happen if we could do the election again, which would require us to compare 2 imaginary presidencies.

But anyway, Imaginary President Hillary Clinton isn't doing too well these days:
The Washington Post-ABC News poll asked respondents how they'd vote in a redo of the 2016 election, and, if anything, Clinton seems to have lost more ground than Trump. Among those who voted, 46 percent say they picked Clinton last year and 43 percent picked Trump — a slightly more favorable sample than the 2016 election, in which Clinton won the popular vote by two percentage points. But in a head-to-head rematch, Clinton's support drops even more than Trump's does, and they wind up in a 40-40 tie. Given that Trump overperformed in key, blue-leaning swing states, that means he'd probably have won again....

[J]ust 72 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Clinton in a rematch — vs. the 84 percent who said they did vote for Clinton last year.
I think this poll makes more sense than the standard day-to-day favorability rating, where Trump seems to be languishing in the 30s, because it's relatively easy to say we're not happy enough with what's going on than it is to point to somebody else who you think would make you happier. 

It should be noted that the Democrats in that poll who dropped their support for Clinton did not say they'd vote for Trump. They'd vote for a third party candidate or nobody. And thinking about Clinton is distorted by the knowledge that she, in fact, lost. They might be dropping her because she's a loser.

"An enraged woman forced an airliner to make an emergency landing after she discovered mid-flight that her husband was apparently cheating on her...."

"As her husband slept, she used his hand to unlock his fingerprint-protected phone, revealing the alleged affair in all its sordid detail...."

Should a Jew feel responsible for the bad behavior of other Jews — like Harvey Weinstein, Leon Wieseltier, and Anthony Weiner?

Harold Pollack (of University of Chicago and The Century Foundation) says he feels responsible (and questions Glenn Loury about whether he feels responsible for the bad behavior of other people in his group):



At one point, Loury suggests that Jews should feel some pride in what Harvey Weinstein did because it shows that they're not all nerds!

Pollack responds that he "would take more pride" if Weinstein were "a swaggering playboy."

Yikes.

"Watch your mouth. You're looking at one."

From "The homeless defy stereotypes in wealthy Silicon Valley" (San Francisco Chronicle):
Ellen Tara James-Penney, a 54-year-old lecturer at San Jose State University, parks her old Volvo at one of those safe haven churches, Grace Baptist Church, and eats in its dining hall. She is paid $28,000 a year to teach four English classes and is carrying $143,000 in student debt after earning two degrees.

She grades papers and prepares lessons in the Volvo. At night, she leans back the driver's seat and prepares for sleep, one of two dogs, Hank, by her side. Her husband, Jim, who is too tall for the car, sleeps outside in a tent cot with their other dog, Buddy.

The Bay Area native remembers the time a class was studying John Steinbeck, when another student said that she was sick of hearing about the homeless.

"And I said, 'Watch your mouth. You're looking at one.' Then you could have heard a pin drop," she said. "It's quite easy to judge when you have a house to live in or you have meds when you're depressed and health care."

"Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies/The film executive hired private investigators, including ex-Mossad agents, to track actresses and journalists."

That's a new article in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow.
In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature.

Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details....
Much more at the link.

ADDED:  There's a lot in that article about the ultra-prominent lawyer David Boies.

AND:

Existing gun control law barred Devin P. Kelley from buying a gun.

This bolsters that standard anti-gun-control argument that what we need is to enforce the laws we already have.

The NYT reports:
A day after a gunman massacred parishioners in a small Texas church, the Air Force admitted on Monday that it had failed to enter the man’s domestic violence court-martial into a federal database that could have blocked him from buying the rifle he used to kill 26 people.

Under federal law, the conviction of the gunman, Devin P. Kelley, for domestic assault on his wife and toddler stepson — he had cracked the child’s skull — should have stopped Mr. Kelley from legally purchasing the military-style rifle and three other guns he acquired in the last four years....
Passing more laws is exciting political theater, and there's ongoing enthusiasm for the show (and the attendant opportunities to express contempt for fellow citizens who don't want more laws burdening law-abiding people).

At the NYT, the top-rated comment, with almost 1700 up-votes, comes from Shaun (of Chicago):
Regardless of the "good guy with a gun" narrative that will inevitably arise from the presence of an armed bystander, the fact remains that at least 26 people were killed. Armed bystanders do not make us safer. A society awash in guns is not safer. Only gun control will reduce the incidence of such mass horror.
Does he mean Only more gun control laws will reduce the incidence of such mass horror? More laws complicate life for people who follow law, but the laws already in place should have stopped Devin Kelley.

In this case, the Air Force is squarely to blame. The Air Force! We can't trust the Air Force with routine paperwork?! That is so outrageous that I am horrified that people still want to use this occasion to say, once again, that ordinary people need to sacrifice their guns for the general good.

Ordinary people are observing that monsters like Kelley, who crack the skulls of infants, are still able to get guns. That quite justifiably makes people resist delegating the function of self-defense to the government.

Donna Brazile's new book reignites suspicions about the murder of Seth Rich.

Several times in her new book "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House," Donna Brazile writes about Seth Rich, who, as she puts it on page 37, "had been walking home from a local bar—and barely a block away from his apartment in Washington’s Bloomingdale / LeDroit Park neighborhood—when he was shot in the back in what police said was a robbery attempt."
The police were there within minutes, and Seth was still alive and talking when they arrived, but he died later that morning at the hospital.
That seems at first glance like an uncomplicated acceptance of the idea that Rich was killed in an attempted robbery, but my lawyerly eye notices the unclarity. What did Rich say to the police? He "was alive and talking," but did he say this was a robbery attempt or something else? The police later said it was a robbery attempt, but why did they say that? Did they say that because the now-dead man knew or believed that? He was shot in the back. Can you picture an attempted robbery that leaves the victim shot in the back? Doesn't a robber confront you to your face and use the gun to threaten you into giving him money?

And we see that Brazile doesn't seem to accept that it was simply a robbery. On pages pp. xviii-xix, describing her first phone call with Hillary Clinton after the election, Brazile writes:
I had taken all the hits. Hearing [Hillary's] voice was the first moment I understood how tired I was of taking it. What about the Russians? They had tried to destroy us. Was she going to help? I wanted to file a lawsuit. We needed to sue those sons of bitches for what they did to us. I knew the campaign had over $3 million set aside in a legal fund. Could she help me get this lawsuit started? And don’t forget the murder of Seth Rich, I told her. Did she want to contribute to Seth’s reward fund? We still hadn’t found the person responsible for the tragic murder of this bright young DNC staffer.
Brazile is interested in getting her hands on Hillary's money, and she purports to need it to solve 2 mysteries, but it's interesting that she leaps directly from wanting to go after the Russians to finding "the person responsible" for killing Seth Rich. If Donna Brazile really believed that Seth Rich was killed by a common street robber, would she really have brought up the murder in this phone call with Hillary and demanded that campaign money be used to offer a reward? If it were a common robber, he'd have melted back into the population of Washington, D.C. long ago. Why would you think a reward would pull anything in?

Later, at pages 148-149, Brazile talks about the Assange interview (on August 9, 2016) that sparked theories that Rich was assassinated.
On the tape I saw of the interview... [h]e dropped his smirk and said, “Our sources take risks.” Assange was implying that Seth was a source for WikiLeaks! When the interviewer pressed him on his relationship with Seth, Assange left it vague, responding, “We do not comment on our sources. We have to understand how high the stakes are in this case.”

I had been saddened by the crazy conspiracy theories that ignited on Twitter and Reddit. They wounded Seth’s family. I knew this accusation was not true. 
She doesn't say how she knew. She just drops that into a description of an encounter with Bernie Sanders. Sanders showed concern about Rich and asked about his family, and Brazile talked about going to visit the family "and help them plan the memorial and scholarship fund."

The story devolves into praise for Sanders. He's "no-nonsense...  always very grateful to people who tell him the truth." And he sent his regards to the Seth Rich family. So Bernie's listening to the story is used to bolster the truth of the story. He likes people who tell the truth, and Brazile talked to him about the murder, so what she's telling us now must be true. And Bernie's a good man who cared about Rich's family, so we ought to be good and care only about the feelings of Seth Rich's family. That packaging of the Seth Rich mystery makes me suspicious.

Brazile also writes about fear that she might be a target of violence. At page 180:
As I was preparing to fly to Las Vegas for the last debate, Julie, Patrice, and Anne took me aside. They were worried about me traveling alone. The attacks on me had become so frequent and so vicious that they preferred that I have someone along who would watch out for me. What they did not know was how I had been cautioning my family that they should be extra careful now. Our name, Brazile, was distinctive, and it would have been easy for my many sisters and brothers and their children to become the target of some crazed person out to harm me. Several of my siblings said they wanted to come stay with me just until Election Night to make sure I was safe, but I told them no. All I could think about was Seth Rich. Had he been killed by someone who had it out for the Democrats? Likely not, but we still didn’t know. 
But you told Bernie you knew! Or, I mean, you told us that you told Bernie you knew. Why did you call the conspiracy theories "crazy" when you yourself were — in real life — afraid that someone might be coming after you?
If they came after me like that, I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt. This became a very heated conversation. I wanted to maintain my autonomy and not to cause anyone harm, but my colleagues were genuinely concerned for my well-being. Anne mentioned several people who had agreed to escort me, but I instructed her to thank those people and reaffirm that I would travel alone.
If they came after me like that.... Like what?!

ADDED: I looked up more details in the L.A. Times:
When police got to the scene, they found Rich had been shot multiple times, and his credit cards, wallet and watch were still on him. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Police ruled his death a homicide — an attempted robbery turned deadly. But questions loomed.

"There had been a struggle. His hands were bruised, his knees are bruised, his face is bruised, and yet he had two shots to his back, and yet they never took anything," Rich's mother, Mary, told NBC shortly after his death.
It's possible that Rich was confronted and he resisted and was trying to get away when he was shot. The shooter might have chosen to flee at that point rather than to search the body for something to steal.

That's how you add it up to robbery.

A reason not to see assassination is that there was a struggle. An assassin would have come up from behind and delivered the kind of shot that would not have given him an opportunity to struggle and would not have left him in any condition to speak to the police before dying.

Brazile's book left out details that made me less suspicious of the "attempted robbery" theory. So I'm a little suspicious about why she did that!

November 6, 2017

The claw machine.

It's the iconic arcade game, don't you think?

P1150579

P1150581

P1150583

Those are 3 photographs I took in the arcade at New York, New York in Las Vegas last week. Today, I'm reading the Wikipedia article on what is also called the claw crane, the skill crane, or the teddy picker:
The success rate of winning a prize is dependent on several factors including operator settings, player skill, type of machine, and the prizes available (size, density, and distribution). A prize may be lost due to player inexperience, player error in manipulating the claw, the weakness of the claw, or the specific crane configuration...

Modern claw machines are fully computerized and are remotely programmable by the owner (via a hand-held device). Settings and features commonly available include:
  • Claw strength and aperture
  • Motion speed, in any direction (that is, the claw can be made to drop slowly but come up quickly, or move right faster than it moves forward)
  • Pick-up strength and retain strength can be specified separately, as well as the delay between pick-up and return.
  • Payout percentage: Cranes equipped with this setting have onboard programming which cause the claw's grip parameters to be continually adjusted to achieve a pre-set payout percentage, usually specified with respect to the value of the prizes inside
  • Fail limit: If the machine dispenses too many prizes in a given time period, it stops accepting coins and is out of order...
The machine declares itself "out of order" if people win too much!