November 25, 2017

"Drudge-taposition: three men on Drudge right now. Sir Richard Branson, British billionaire and well-known boating enthusiast, has been accused of..."

"... 'motorboating' a plus-sized black female pop singer (w/o her consent), which is… well, I’ll let you discover on your own what that is. Then we have Jeff Bezos, who is way wealthier than Branson (though at that level, what the hell difference does is make, amiright?). To our knowledge, Bezos has never been accused of SexPred (or even garden-variety perv) behavior. Finally, Tim Tebow, who is now a baseball player. If he was ever accused of anything like that, well, it would be enormously out of character! He’s still saving himself for Mrs. Tebow."

Wrote Will Cate at 12:51 this afternoon (in the comments to "The Number 3 Café"). I'd noticed that 3-man lineup myself and almost did the screen-grab that Will did:

There's been a reshuffle of the images since then, with Prince Harry promoted to the best-guy spot, replacing Tebow:

At the Number 3 Café...


... I'm sure you have 3 topics or 3 observations or 3 hopes/dreams to share.

And I hope/dream you have 3 things you need to buy through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"So much wasted time."

David Cassidy's last words.

I was reminded of that by this tweet by Terry Teachout:

ADDED: On publishing this post, I saw I'd written "his tweet" for "this tweet" and said out loud: "So many typos, so little editing" and realized that it seems that David Cassidy died without finishing a sentence. The usual pattern is "So much X, so little Y." If, fast approaching death, the man said "So much X," and he'd wanted to go on to say "so little" something, what was the something?

So much wasted time, so little ____________.

So much wasted time, so little well-spent time.

So much wasted time, so little time left.

So much wasted time, so little time now to say what I might have done if I'd known not to waste it.

So much wasted time, so little time now if only to waste.

So much wasted time, so little value placed on time until now....

So much wasted time, so little love.

"I wanted to be able to present a theater piece that was a little more intense."

Says Jenna Carol, owner of the dance studio Express Yourself in Madison, about the show "Spring Awakening," which opens this week at the Bartell Theatre here in Madison, reports the Cap Times:
Among her 27 actors, more than 20 are minors, some as young as 15.... With themes of incest, sexual abuse, suicide and abortion... [t]ypically the show is cast with college-age performers...

“We’re pushing the envelope,” Carol said. “We are not cutting anything — the songs, the content in script is still going to be presented....”

Carol said she asked auditionees’ parents to sign a release form.... And she’s decided not to stage the nudity. Further, she’s placing dancers between the main characters and the audience during the most graphic sexual imagery.

“I don’t see it necessary to flash a boob for shock value,” Carol said. “The scene between Wendla and Melchior is extremely well-choreographed. The audience will know what is happening.... We are not trying to do things just for shock value,” Carol said, “but I am trying to create something specifically for teens and young adults to perform relevant shows, something that makes you think...."
I'd like to see a copy of the release form. You're using children who are too young to have sex and they are on stage dancing about sex, amid "graphic sexual imagery"? And you need their parents to sign the release. That put me in mind of Roy Moore's approach to dating teenagers:
HANNITY: You mentioned you'd never go out with any young girl I assume you meant like when you were 32 at that time of your life, would you always ask the permission of the parent before you would take a girl out?

MOORE: Well I mean I'm saying that in their statements that they made these two young girls said their mother actually encouraged them to be friends with me. And you know that's what they said. I don't remember....
ADDED: "I am trying to create something specifically for teens and young adults to perform relevant shows..." She's using the word "relevant" in a way that was the vogue in the 1960s. You might ask now (as people asked then) relevant to what? In the 60s, the answer might be: Relevant to what's happening.

The OED has a definition for this usage — "having social, political, etc., relevance." It's illustrated by this quote from 1969, Harper's Magazine: 
Either we can commit ourselves to changing the institutions of our society that need to be changed, to make them—to use a term which I hate—‘relevant’..or we can sit back and try to defend them.
College students of the time used to criticize course material that was not "relevant." At the time, I myself was a college student, and I attended a college — the Residential College at the University of Michigan — that was so intent on meeting the younger generation's idea of relevance, that we laughed at them. I remember the Western Civilization chapter-unit titles all beginning with the word "Revolution." It's funny when kids make demands and the grown-ups just cave. Then we feel embarrassed for them.

IN THE COMMENTS: james james said...
A little more intense. Pushing the envelope.

That requires children now, doing adult things.

We've already seen the intense adults pushing envelopes; no longer a big deal.

We're bored, they think.
Speaking of pushing, let's dance...

Tcross: "Pushing the envelope outside the box."

Meade: "#EnvelopePushesBack."

It can't be that Time colludes with prospective Persons of the Year to see what access it can get out of the process of honoring somebody.

Apparently, Trump needed some action last night and this must have seemed like a good gambit.

Of course, Time defends its reputation.

Time doesn't say exactly what it does in the choosing process, only that in some way the President is "incorrect." It doesn't say he's completely wrong.  But Time is getting us to notice the annual nonsense of Person of the Year, and Trump wins too because he's making (some of) us think of course he deserves it (probably), but Time won't give it to him unless the Art-of-the-Deal man makes some deal with them. I'm picturing the editors rubbing their hands together and saying "I've got this thing and it's fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for fuckin' nothing. I'm not gonna do it."

But who really gives a damn how the process they make us look at every year actually works? It's better to leverage the occasion. Go big, go arty, go comical, go hardcore. Like Rose McGowan:

Don't like that? Then go big, arty, comical, and hardcore in the direction in a pro-Trump direction (or some other direction that suits your taste). If you like Trump, don't be boring. Be creative and viral. We're all diseased.

ADDED: If Time is right and the President is incorrect, does that make Michael Moore a liar?
Film-maker Michael Moore claims that director Mel Gibson cost him the opportunity to be Person of the Year alongside Gibson in 2004. Moore's controversial political documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 became the highest-grossing documentary of all time the same year Gibson's The Passion of the Christ became a box-office success and also caused significant controversy. Moore said in an interview "I got a call right after the '04 election from an editor from Time Magazine. He said,' Time Magazine has picked you and Mel Gibson to be Time's Person of the Year to put on the cover, Right and Left, Mel and Mike. The only thing you have to do is pose for a picture with each other. And do an interview together.' I said 'OK.' They call Mel up, he agrees. They set the date and time in LA. I'm to fly there. He's flying from Australia. Something happens when he gets home... Next thing, Mel calls up and says, 'I'm not doing it. I've thought it over and it is not the right thing to do.' So they put Bush on the cover."
ALSO: Would Time ever give the honor to the same person 2 years in a row? While a good number of men have been Man of the Year more than once, the only person who won 2 years in a row was Richard Nixon, and in the second year, he was a co-winner with Henry Kissinger. I think Trump — if indeed he was in serious consideration for the honor — was at serious risk of being paired with someone else. While Nixon getting paired with his National Security Adviser was not disrespectful to Nixon, if you look at the last time a President got paired with someone else, it was Bill Clinton, in 1998, paired with his nemesis, Ken Starr. So I think if Trump was under consideration, it was in some way where he wasn't the sole honoree, but put alongside #MeToo or The Women Who Spoke Out or Rose McGowan and Ronan Farrow or something that Trump wouldn't want anyway.

November 24, 2017

At the Secret-Ingredient Café...


... what do you know?

It's "Black Friday," an occasion to remember to do your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"... haunting... audacious... ingenious... brilliant... intricate... masterly... restless... fascinating new... magnificently funny, sucker-punch-tragic... assured... sinister and charming... stunning... fierce and unsettling... powerful..."

Modifiers that appear before the word "novel" in the NYT "100 Notable Books of 2017."

I've only read one of the novels — the "magnificently funny, sucker-punch-tragic" one.

There's a headache-inducing flashing illustration at the link, so if your brain function is anything like mine, be prepared to scroll immediately downward if you click through. Or here's an Amazon link to the book. (Please think of doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

I haven't read any of the non-fiction, though I do have Hillary Clinton's "What Happened" in my Kindle and I've done some searches and blogged some snippets. If I had to pick one to read, it would be "KRAZY/George Herriman, a Life in Black and White" (only $4.99 in Kindle).

"The term 'blivet' for the impossible fork was popularized by Worm Runner's Digest magazine."

"In 1967 Harold Baldwin published there an article, 'Building better blivets,' in which he described the rules for the construction of drawings based on the impossible fork. In December 1968 American optical designer and artist Roger Hayward wrote a humorous submission 'Blivets: Research and Development' for The Worm Runner's Digest in which he presented various drawings based on the blivet. He 'explained' the term as follows: 'The blivet was first discovered in 1892 in Pfulingen, Germany, by a cross-eyed dwarf named Erasmus Wolfgang Blivet.'..."

From the Wikipedia article "Impossible trident," which I'm reading this morning because Bad Lieutenant — commenting in the post about Kim Kardashian's "body shapers" — said "Sausage casings come to mind. I was thinking more along the lines of 'blivet.'"

I was trying to remember how I'd heard that word defined, and I don't think it's what Bad L was thinking of (which comes up in the Urban Dictionary definition: "Ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag").

And I'm sure it wasn't The Impossible Trident, which is this familiar thing that exists only in drawings:

So what was my old, forgotten understanding of "blivet"? Hey! It's in the Oxford English Dictionary:
U.S. slang. (chiefly joc.).

A pseudo-term for something useless, unnecessary, annoying, etc.; hence, = thingamajig n.
The oldest published use is in a slang dictionary in 1967, looking back to WWII:
1967 H. Wentworth & S. B. Flexner Dict. Amer. Slang Suppl. 673/2 Blivit, n., anything unnecessary, confused, or annoying. Lit. defined as ‘10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag’. Orig. W.W. II Army use. The word is seldom heard except when the speaker uses it in order to define it; hence the word is actually a joke.
So Urban Dictionary is more right than Wikipedia, but Wikipedia seems to know it's getting it wrong, since it also has an article for "Worm Runner's Digest," which is identified as (partly) satire:
The W.R.D. published both satirical articles, such as "A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown", and scientific papers, the most famous of which, "Memory transfer through cannibalism in planaria", was a result of McConnell's RNA memory transfer experiments with planarian worms and was later published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry.
It's pure poetry that Kim Kardashian's body shapers led us to "A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown":
Consider now an elemental strip of cloth isolated as a free body in the area of plane B of figure 1. The two tangible forces F1 and F2 are equal and opposite as before, but the force W(weight of dress) is not balanced by an upward force V because there is no cloth above plane B to supply this force. Thus, the algebraic summation of horizontal forces is zero, but the sum of the vertical forces is not zero. Therefore, this elemental strip is not in equilibrium; but it is imperative, for social reason, that this elemental strip be in equilibrium.....

"They're evangelical Christians — but they're nice."

Said a man, commenting in my presence, on the UW campus yesterday. The woman who was with him — his wife, perhaps — calmly instructed him that he should not have said "but." "And" would have been more appropriate.

The learning never ends.

How the women's magazine Marie Claire tried to entice me into giving it my email address.

"She just looks so fake now, the white wigs, the excessive makeup, I can’t picture her getting dirty or riding ATVs"/"I'd watch an episode of that reality show."

Comments on a Tom & Lorenzo blog post about the Marie Claire cover story on Gwen Stefani, which says:
On life with Blake Shelton – recently named People’s Sexiest Man Alive – and how they spend their time on Shelton’s ranch in Oklahoma: “It’s very tribal. Blake has a sister, she comes with her kids. We cook and get muddy and dirty. There are ATV’s. Being a mother of three boys, it’s kind of the perfect place. Everything is real now, whereas before, things didn’t seem so real.”
So the subject is: What is reality and can you picture it? It's possible that her claim of getting to what is real is a con. But certainly all that wiggery and makeup is a con, except that it's real in the context of the cover of a fashion magazine. It's frankly fake.* It's the cover of a magazine, exactly what it is, and not some pretense of the "natural look" (achieved with subtle makeup and hair styled into "windblown" strands or faux "bedhead").

Stefani invites you to picture her getting dirty riding ATVs on a ranch in Oklahoma, but she doesn't give you pictures of that. The pictures would necessarily be posed. You have to use your imagination, and you will be very much grounded in the reality that what you are seeing is your mental picture.


* "Coco Chanel is credited for having coined the phrase 'frankly fake' and igniting a craze for high wattage, oversized baubles set with obviously faux pearls and gems...."

Little things that don't play anymore: Al Franken says he's "a little disappointed" that Chelsea Handler's blouse is not a pajama top.

From last June:

Everything seems so wrong in retrospect.

Would you rather have a wife or be a wife (with "wife" understood as the traditional stay-at-home helpmeet)?

New York Magazine just reprinted "‘I Want a Wife,’ the Timeless ’70s Feminist Manifesto," by Judy (Syfers) Brady:
I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc....

I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up.... I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick....

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life....

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it....

... I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.
There is only one comment up over there:
I asked a man once if he wanted someone who would do all of these things. He replied with an emphatic 'yes', eyes practically glazed over imagining it. Then I said to him, 'me too.'
Since flipping sex roles is the point of the essay, why didn't the commenter think of flipping her question? The famous old essay is a woman's experimenting with the idea that the man's role in a traditional single-earner household is preferable. I say ask the man: Would you like to do all of these things for a woman you love if that woman did all the outside-of-the-household work and brought home an ample income?

And I note that the famous old essay says nothing about yardwork and car maintenance. I searched the article for "car" and found "care" 10 times, but not one "car." There's nothing about mowing the lawn and gardening. But include all that in the flipped question: How would you like to be the stay-at-home partner in a marriage, dealing with all the tasks that are not the income-producing job that is the full responsibility of the other partner? I'll bet a lot of men would say I'd like it (or I'd only like it if you could assure me other people wouldn't look down on me).

4 other observations:

1. The essay has 2 references to mending clothes. Who spends much if any time mending clothes today? In the old days, clothes were (I believe) much more expensive (in relation to income) than they are today, and women had sewing kits and baskets of "mending" (that is, things that needed mending). It wasn't just sewing buttons back on and closing the occasional burst seam. It was darning socks and stitching on patches. Mending is one aspect of traditional wife-work that's just not anything anymore. There's also much less ironing.

2. Shopping for clothes and other household items is much, much easier. Even though, in the old days, women could outfit the kids by sending mail orders to Spiegel or Sears, it's much easier today to find almost everything you need on line. (By the way, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.) The clothes are also, as noted, much cheaper, and almost never in need of ironing. Clothes for children (and adults) are much more casual today and much easier to assemble into appropriate outfits and keep clean and presentable. (We did not wear T- and sweat-shirts and jeans to school in the 1960s.)

3. Let's talk about sex. Both partners — whether they're the single-earner or not — should be saying both "I want a partner who is sensitive to my sexual needs" and "I want a partner who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it." Was the author of the essay saying she'd prefer to have a sexual partner whose consent is a nonissue, who feels obligated to perform whenever called upon and only when called upon? Is she saying, I want a "wife" because I want to be the one who gets to sexually control the other person?

4. The answer to the questions at #3 is probably no. The author is satirizing very selfish men to show how bad unequal roles can be. She doesn't explore the potential for a good division of labor in a single-earner household. I'm not saying she should have had to do that. It's a short, humorous, very memorable essay. But it does manipulate readers to think, I'd better have a career of my own and get out of the home, or I'm an easy victim.


"Mom puts recorder in child’s backpack to catch bullying, now... charged with felony use of device to intercept oral communication and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

November 23, 2017

"Lazy Meade bastard’s turkey."

That's video by Meade and title by Meade (based on the comment by Yancey Ward, here, "That Meade is a lazy bastard").

"She was 17 when I met her, and... we've been married now almost 42 years."

Let's think about Franni Bryson. Here's Al Franken, last June, talking about the love of his life:

What made you think you could be an actor?

"The search for the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan reached a 'critical' point on Wednesday amid fears the 44 crew members..."

"... could be on their last day of oxygen, as the country’s navy said they had found “no trace” of the missing vessel.
“We are continuing with this phase of search and rescue. We are in the critical part, it has reached the seventh day in terms of oxygen, supposing that for seven days it has not had the capacity to go the surface and renew the oxygen. But we are not dismissing the other options, that it could be on the surface.”

More than 4,000 personnel from 12 countries are now scouring the South Atlantic search zone, braving stormy conditions with high winds and waves up to seven metres high....

The British contingent has drawn insults from far-Left figures in the country where the dispute over the Falklands remains contentious. Leaders of the Workers’ Party and of radical Left wing group Quebracho branded British forces “pirates” and occupiers on Twitter, but were widely condemned by Argentine users.

"Malia Obama's Harvard boyfriend revealed to be British student Rory Farquharson who was head boy at Rugby School."

That's very nice. Good luck to the lovely couple.

ADDED: Jeez, how do you pronounce that name? It's pronounced just how it's spelled, Farquharson.

"I changed my mind. I decided not to roast a turkey after all. Here. Here's your turkey."

Said Meade, tossing this on my toast plate:


ADDED: And you can buy Epic Turkey bars through this link — click the arrow to see all 11 flavors — or anything else at Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"Isn't Thanksgiving more deserving of a naysayer? I mean, really, we eat dinner every day."

"Is it that for Thanksgiving--as opposed to Christmas--you are only asked to give thanks, not presents? To give thanks and eat dinner. But you must give thanks and eat dinner in a way that outdoes the thanks-giving and dinner-eating of other days. I do think there should be a Scrooge/Grinch analog. The Thankswithholder. The Ingrate."

That's what I said on this blog's first Thanksgiving, which I'm reading this morning as I scan old posts under the "Thanksgiving" tag, looking for something to say about Thanksgiving. I want to acknowledge the special day, but I prefer normal days. As I said in 2014, on the topic of refraining from doing Thanksgiving (because your family members have other plans, which had been portrayed in the NYT as a virtuous letting-go):
I love when doing nothing — especially when it avoids a lot of effort — amounts to the higher path. Virtue in not acting. That applies to a lot more than Thanksgiving. As for Thanksgiving, I always appreciated it when my sons' father wanted them over. Thanksgiving is the last weekend of the semester, and there follows a lovely, long winter break. Thanksgiving is precisely the weekend when I am not looking for more of a workload. So I was glad to step back and let the ex-husband have the boys over. If I got extra points — kindness credit — for letting go, that was nice, but I was always openly grateful for the relief. I was glad to do nothing. It's Thanksgiving, and as they say — and I truly mean it: Thanks for nothing!
The second Thanksgiving on this blog introduced a character, the Thanksgiving squirrel: "Find some critter to eat." He was back the following year — "Oh, my! There he is! It's the Thanksgiving Squirrel! Keep safe everyone. Boil your meat well" — but then I forgot about him... until just now. Ah! Just think of all the things we've forgotten. No, you can't. You've forgotten. Unless you've got notes somewhere, like the archive of a 13-year-old blog, replete with tags. But if you're like me and you love the negative space of life and you see the joyful meaning of "Thanks for nothing!," then you can be thankful for all the things you've forgotten.

ADDED: In the stories with a Christmas naysayer, the narrative arc is toward yea-saying. The Scrooge/Grinch of Thanksgiving would find the true (i.e., conventional) meaning of Thanksgiving, in its most essential form.

So he'd begin with remarks like mine: It's just dinner. We have dinner every day.

And in the end, it would be...

He HADN'T stopped Thanksgiving from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Gurkey, with his gurkey-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came with out stuffing! It came without pie!"
"It came without cranberries, and I don't know why!"
And he puzzled 3 hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Gurkey thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Thanksgiving," he thought, "is not about food."
"Maybe Thanksgiving... is more of a mood!"

November 22, 2017

At the Buttoned-Up Café...


... you don't have to relax.

Talk about whatever you want in the comments, and please consider supporting this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal

The sculpture is "Soundsuit" by Nick Cave. Here's a longer view:


ADDED: Nick Cave the sculptor is not the same person as Nick Cave the songwriter. Here's a nice article about the sculptor: "Nick Cave/Using materials that range from twigs to crystals to rainbow-colored hair, the artist makes sculptures that, for all their beauty, are visceral and necessary critiques of racial injustice" (NYT).

"Not only did people look the other way, but they went after the women who came forward and accused him."

"And so it doubled down on not only bad behavior but abusive behavior. And then people attacked the victims."

Says Kathleen Sebelius, the former secretary of Health and Human Services and Kansas governor, talking with David Axelrod on his show "The Axe Files."
Sebelius extended her criticism to Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton White House for what she called a strategy of dismissing and besmirching the women who stepped forward—a pattern she said is being repeated today by alleged perpetrators of sexual assault—saying that the criticism of the former first lady and Secretary of State was "absolutely" fair. Sebelius noted that the Clinton Administration's response was being imitated, adding that "you can watch that same pattern repeat, It needs to end. It needs to be over."
It's still too little, too late. Too easy to say this now when it's convenient. Nevertheless, good to hear.

"An international survey has revealed that spirits are often associated with feelings of energy, confidence and sexiness..."

"... but on the flip-side anger and tearfulness – while red wine is the drink most commonly linked to relaxation, but also tiredness."

"Mature women"?

Apparently not!
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week.

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down."

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

"The department head... said there might have been alternative explanations for the professor’s behavior including 'maybe he just needs his eyeglasses adjusted'..."

"... (to explain the breast staring), 'he might be on the autism spectrum,' 'he might just be socially awkward like Albert Einstein was' and 'do you think maybe you’re more sensitive than other people?'"

From "UW-Madison dean acknowledges school's failure to address sexual harassment" at the Wisconsin State Journal.

For reference, here's Larry David getting out of a social gaffe (racial, not sexual) by lying about having Asperger's syndrome:

But it should be noted that some people with Asperger's Syndrome have been speculating for years that Larry David is on the spectrum and that Jerry Seinfeld has diagnosed himself as "on the spectrum":

Maybe all that great "observational" comedy has to do with the autistic tendency to focus on exactly what isn't the focus for the nonautistic.

In that clip, Jerry talks about comedians being the only people that he feels "completely relaxed" around. Maybe that suggests some insight into what's wrong with Louis C.K....

Meanwhile, on the tech front: "'I see things differently': James Damore on his autism and the Google memo/ He was fired from Google for arguing that men may be more suited to working in tech than women. Now James Damore opens up about his regrets – and how autism may have shaped his experience of the world."

Where are you on the spectrum from "This excuse is bullshit" to "We must empathize with and accommodate the differently abled"?

"Brolliology" — the book about umbrellas.

Reviewed here, in The Washington Post:
A typical chapter skims the metaphysical and the dialectical, with the umbrella described variously as creating a “portable room,” as a “private sky” and “a hat with a handle.” Its combination of replaceability and contingency even “reads like a textbook symptom of late capitalism.” An early-19th-century article by J.S. Duncan classified umbrella wielders into familiar types such as the Sky-Striker and the Shield-Bearer, both of which species remain alas all too common to this day. And Rankine does not neglect such memorably sinister instances as the mysterious Umbrella Man present at Kennedy’s assassination and the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov by way of a poisoned ferrule.
Here, you can buy it at Amazon. It would make a nice Christmas present especially alongside a stylish umbrella.

I'm making an "umbrella" tag now (and adding it retrospectively). It's a tag I've considered making before, so I'm reaching a tipping point. Absurdly, every time I've checked to see if I have an "umbrella" tag, I see that I have a tag "Obama's umbrella." (Weirdly, that tag has 5 posts. 6 now.)

Now, I'm tempted to by "Brolliology" just to see if the author discussed Obama's umbrella. No, I don't need to. There's a search-inside-the-book function at Amazon, and Obama does not make an appearance in "Brolliology," but that doesn't mean it's not a good book. Quite the contrary! I'm browsing around in it and like it a lot. Plenty of amusing illustrations. And it has what I love: miscellaneousness.

There. I bought it.

"The forces of chaos and public disorder disrupted another democratic institution Monday night in Madison..."

"... our elected Dane County Board of Supervisors, under the banner of “Derail the Jail.” Yes, these nut cases want NO JAIL at all! (We’ve written extensively about them.) Who do they represent? Maybe the sociology department at UW-Madison and the John Nichols chapter of the Socialist Workers Party. No one else. Because even Madison alders voted for more police just last week. No, even the smaller and more humane jail proposed for Dane County — really, a mental health hospital with bars — is too much for the anarchists."

Writes David Blaska, passing along this video of the disruption (which includes chants familiar from the 2011 Wisconsin protests, such as "This is what democracy looks like" (apparently, what democracy looks like is chaos)):

I am trying so hard to resist clicking on any click bait articles like "This Is What It's Like to Be the Only Trump Fan at Thanksgiving Dinner."

How about you?

Are you reading the politics-at-Thanksgiving articles? free polls

Phrases from the past: "Crotchgate" and "pro-sex feminism."

After writing that post about Gayle King adjusting her position relative to Charlie Rose, I created a 2 new tags: "Era of That's Not Funny" and "Trump's Access Hollywood remarks." Both tags can be applied retrospectively to the archive, but the second one is going to take a long time, and I'll get to that eventually. The first one is a more recent concept, and I'm only applying it retrospectively to posts where I've used that exact phrase, and that task is done. But in searching for the phrase, which I failed to put in quote marks, I turned up a few random things, including, from December 2006, "Camille Paglia on... it's not my word.... 'crotchgate.'"

What was "crotchgate"?! I see that there's something right now that's got a #crotchgate and Donald Trump has even weighed in:

Oh, I see. A college football player grabbed his own crotch (in a taunting gesture):

But what was "Crotchgate" in 2006? It was something I only blogged about because Camille Paglia took it on: Some female targets of paparazzi — Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan — were flashing their pantsless crotches. Paglia said:
"These girls are lowering themselves to the level of backstreet floozies. It angers me because I fought a bitter fight to get feminism back on track and be pro-sex at the same time. This is degrading the entire pro-sex wing of feminism.... [T]hey are cheapening their own image and obliterating all sexual mystery and glamour, which are the heart of the star system... These are women who are clearly out of control because the old studio era is over. The studio system... guided and shaped the careers of the young women who it signed up. It maximized their sexual allure by dealing it out in small doses and making sure you don’t have -- what has become here -- a situation of anarchy."
So the women are bringing the anarchy of too much uncontrolled sex?! That's not how it looks today, after the Weinstein revelations. But, of course, Weinstein and the men like him were active back in 2006, exercising control, trying to wrest "small doses" of "sexual allure" out the actresses for their own gratification. But, as Paglia put it then, the "girls" were "lowering themselves." And Paglia expressed anger, because it interfered with her "wing" of feminism: "pro-sex feminism."

Is anyone talking about "pro-sex feminism" — or "sex-positive feminism" — these days? Searching for both terms in the news of the last month, I find only a reference to Taylor Swift song lyrics and a description of a 1986 movie character (who's being brought back for a new TV show).

No one seems to be jumping at the opportunity to reconcile "pro-sex feminism"/"sex-positive feminism" with the new, staunch, zero-tolerance approach to sexual abuse. I'm sure many of those who write about feminism today are too young to remember the feminism of the 1980s, so they're unlikely to see that the things that are happening now resemble what sex-positive feminism fought against. And won. For a while.

But nobody wants to talk about sex-positive feminism now, and no female pop stars are seeking attention by giving paparazzi an unobstructed view of naked crotch.

ADDED: By today's standards, the flashing of naked crotch is considered sexual abuse. If a man were to do it, he'd be professionally and socially dead. 

AND: I've done the retrospective adding of the tag "Trump's 'Access Hollywood' remarks." 49 posts so far, including this one. I might do a project of analyzing my personal reactions over time. I'm told I really changed over time, and obviously the context has changed.

"CBS This Morning" may have fired Charlie Rose, but it used to revel in his sexual creepiness.

It's been a running joke on John Oliver's show for years:

Charlie Rose's "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King just happened to be a guest on Stephen Colbert's show last night. We're told she was already scheduled and, when the Rose story broke, she considered canceling, but Colbert's show is on CBS, and I assume I'm looking at CBS trying to extricate itself from the Charlie Rose story. And Gayle King isn't just committed to CBS, she's got her own reputation to keep clean. Watch the mind-numbing performance of Gayle King who plays dumb and cloyingly emotional:

1. In Colbert's introduction of King, he says she "delivers the hard news as co-anchor of 'CBS This Morning' and delivers the good news as the editor-at-large of O, the Oprah Magazine." Was "hard news" an intentional reference to Charlie Rose, whose penis is in the news? If innuendo was not intended, I believe it would have been noticed after it was written and edited out, so I say it was intended. Deniable, of course. Everything's deniable, like King's I-knew-nothing! routine.

2. Less than half-way through this clip, I was pausing and researching signs of lying. King is looking down and to her right (as if she had notes down there she needed to read) and scratching her cheek (at 2:02 (I've seen myself on video many times touching my cheek when I know I'm saying something that's has an element of deceit)). And look at her fist at 2:55.

3. "This is very difficult for me" — King's tactic is to make this a story of her emotional journey. Colbert plays a supporting role, with softball questions like: "Are you angry?" To which King answers: "I am a variety of emotions. There's certain some anger. There's some sadness. There's compassion. There's concern." It's so complex! "You can hold a variety of emotions around one particular incident."

4. At 3:52, she repositions and goes back to "what these women are going through." But what I want to know is what she knew and might have done to help "these women" before the news story broke and had an impact on her career. We have to start listening to women. King has been a professional in woman-oriented media for a long time. She didn't just recently get a clue about these issues. But the Colbert audience gives her a massive cheer (as she interlaces her fingers and works her hands back and forth).

5. Women will continue to speak up, King tells us in an impassioned tone, because "they're now being believed." She has to say "they," though she's a woman, because if she said "we," it would seem as though she had a story to tell.

6. King says that men need to "join the conversation." How? Men have to condemn sexual harassment and not make fine distinctions. They have to say that "it's all bad." So... not really a conversation. "All of it is really unacceptable." There's nothing to debate. Oh, but then she says, "By the same token, I want to be able to joke and laugh with friends without thinking I'm going to be called into human resources. But we all know the difference. What that is. We do." We do? Is it that talking is different and you can joke? But look at the most famous joke on the subject: "And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the pussy, you can do anything." That has plainly been dumped into the all-of-it-is-really-unacceptable category. (No wonder Siri is telling me, "Ann, I don't really know any good jokes. None, in fact." It is the Era of That's Not Funny.") [AND: As Ignorance is Bliss asks in the comments: "So who put a pubic hair on my Coke?"]

And here's Gayle King talking about the Rose story with Norah O'Donnell on their show, "CBS This Morning" yesterday:

That's very stiff and stilted. The 2 women are scripted to say what's been decided as the correct way to save their show. It goes on and on, and I'm saying that after stopping the clip at 2:12. There's no way, no matter how much longer they talk — the clip goes on for another minute — they are not going to get to the topic I want to hear discussed: What did you know? If you didn't know, why didn't you know? What good are you in your women-helping-women role on morning TV if you didn't recognize the monster who sat next to you for 5 years?

November 21, 2017

At the No-Jokes Café...

... you'll have to think of your own jokes.

If any shopping is part of your fun, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Things got shaken up a little bit and there is a lot of light being thrown into places where there were shadows and that is kind of healthy."

"It’s painful, but I think pain is a precursor to change."

Mel Gibson weighs in.

"All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives."

First-class bullshit from Charlie Rose.

Seeking the "purity" of "younger women."

Talking Points Memo quotes what Pastor Flip Benham said on the radio last night:
"Judge Roy Moore graduated from West Point and then went on into the service, served in Vietnam and then came back and was in law school. All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then, they were already married, maybe, somewhere. So he looked in a different direction and always with the [permission of the] parents of younger ladies. By the way, the lady he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, is a younger woman. He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”
Audio at the link. The discussion continues, with Benham, under questioning from the show hosts, saying that it is acceptable for a man to "court" a 14-year-old girl if he has her parent's permission.

I'm interested in the appeal to the value of "purity," because I've been reading Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion," which posits 5 foundations of moral reasoning, one of which is sanctity/degradation. Haidt has studied how conservatives and liberals do moral reasoning, and liberals stick to only 2 of the 5 foundations — care/harm and fairness/cheating — which is why they have a terrible time understanding (and appealing to) conservatives, who use all 5. (The other 2 are loyalty/betrayal and authority/subversion.)
The Sanctity/degradation foundation evolved initially in response to the adaptive challenge of the omnivore’s dilemma, and then to the broader challenge of living in a world of pathogens and parasites. It includes the behavioral immune system, which can make us wary of a diverse array of symbolic objects and threats. It makes it possible for people to invest objects with irrational and extreme values—both positive and negative—which are important for binding groups together.
Of course, to the liberal mind, the idea that there's "something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight" just sounds horribly sexist. And I find it hard to believe that liberals don't think about purity too. They just aim their thoughts at the impurity of the older man — the creep — who's going after young girls. His interest in their purity is impure. 

Trump carries out the annual nonsense, pardoning turkeys.

I love when Trump asks if he can touch the bird and then, petting it, says "I feel so good about myself doing this." That almost gets a smile from Barron.

"Some have argued that there would be no #MeToo moment if Donald Trump had not been elected, even after being accused of various forms of misconduct, from groping to rape."

"But in recent weeks several of Trump’s accusers have said that while they’re happy sexual harassment is being discussed more openly, they’re still dismayed that their own stories seem to have had little impact. Some have continued speaking out, hoping that away from the chaos of the election, people might be more ready to listen to their accounts. A defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, one of the accusers, has also opened up the possibility that they’ll get their day in court. But for now, Trump seems entirely unfazed by the allegations hanging over him. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed last month that it is the White House’s official position that every single one of the women is lying, and Trump has not shied away from condemning alleged sexual harassers (if they’re Democrats)."

From "What Happened to the 16 Women Who Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct," by Margaret Hartmann in New York Magazine. Hartman lists the 16 women, their allegations, and what's happened since the allegations were made, but does not examine why — as so many others take massive hits and lose their jobs — Trump remains relatively unscathed. So let's talk about that. Let me get the conversation started with a few ideas. I'm not endorsing any of these theories, just putting them on a list of things you might want to consider:

1. The election worked as absolution. We factored in the allegations — giving them whatever weight we thought right — and they haven't really changed since the election, so the election is like a final judgment in a court case. As a political matter, we move on and get on with our life.

2. Since Trump is the President, we need him to carry out his duties. We especially want to put these accusations in the past, because we see the dangers of complicating his life. He's been chosen to shoulder the difficult tasks of the presidency, so leave him alone. Let him move forward.

3. Those who want to complicate his life probably didn't vote for him and would be happy to take him down now. Every time there's another Harvey Weinstein or Charlie Rose, they want to talk about Trump the sexual harasser again, but to those who've supported Trump or who want to respect the results of the election and not add to the difficulty of Trump's presidential tasks, they seem to be relitigating the election.

4. Many of the new targets of allegations are people who had seemed to be male allies of the women's movement, and it's the lying and the hypocrisy that bothers us the most. The accusations against Trump seem only to reinforce what we already saw on the surface of Trump: brash exuberance, wanting plenty of good things for himself, excitement over beautiful women, impoliteness. The new allegations don't take us back to the Trump allegations because Trump wasn't accepted as an ally of feminism. He seems to represent the old school, male chauvinism. That's a different category and not what we're paying attention to right now.

Mugabe gone at last.

"Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, resigned as president on Tuesday shortly after lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him, according to the speaker of Parliament," the NYT reports.

"Only morons pay the estate tax" is a reason (if it's true) to get rid of the estate tax.

It may sound rude, but it's memorable, and it makes a point. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, said it and also resaid it more politely: The estate tax is only paid by “rich people with really bad tax planning.”

The NYT has an editorial about it, in which it uses the word "loopholes" to refer to the provisions of the tax code that allow for the avoidance of the estate tax, and "windfall" for what Cohn's "morons" would get if the estate tax were repealed.

I'm tempted to ask Why doesn't the NYT care about morons? Shouldn't the law protect those who lack the intelligence to take steps to protect themselves? But I guess the NYT would say that the rich who are doing intelligent tax planning are bad people, and the rich who are exposing themselves to the estate tax are good people. No need to give a "windfall" to the good rich people who decline to use the tax avoidance provisions (the "loopholes"). Let's just give them a pat on the head and move on to denouncing the bad rich, the ones who aren't paying their fair share.

On the other side of the argument are Republicans who call the estate tax the "death tax" and stress that it hurts small businesses and farmers — including businesses owned by women and minorities.

The NYT says this characterization of who pays is wrong. It says (and see if you find this as hard to follow as I did):
So who actually does pay estate tax?... A few dozen farmers, and even fewer minority business owners. About 80 family farmers or small-business people would be subject to the estate tax this year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center — a far cry from the “millions” Mr. Trump wrongly claims. The biggest winners in an estate tax repeal wouldn’t be struggling ranchers, minority contractors or mom-and-pop grocers. They’d be people like Mr. Trump’s kids, unless they’re …

Morons. “Only morons pay the estate tax,” Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, told Senate Democrats, meaning, it was later explained, “rich people with really bad tax planning.” Many of the very wealthy use loopholes, like trusts, to avoid paying inheritance tax. We don’t know where Mr. Trump’s kids would stand because Mr. Trump has never fulfilled his promise to publicly release his tax information.
First, how would "people like Mr. Trump's kids" be the "biggest winners in an estate tax repeal... unless they're morons"? Shouldn't it be the biggest winners will be people like Mr. Trump's kids only if they're morons? If they're not morons, they're already using the "loopholes." They have good tax planning. They don't need the repeal. The repeal is only needed by those who are too moronic to get tax planning. (Actually, it's not the heirs who do the tax planning. The question isn't whether Trump's kids are morons, but whether Trump is a moron.)

I guess that's just an editing screwup, where it seemed cute to connect those 2 paragraphs. The idea is: Don't think of anybody sympathetic. Exclude all the farmers and mom-and-pop people. Visualize those Trump kids. That's who you should think of the repeal as helping. Now, let's think about morons. The Trump kids, like a lot of rich kids, are probably protected by tax planning, but some of them are morons (or, really, have parents who are morons). Do you care? Trump-kid types sometimes get less money because of a moronic failure to do tax planning: Who wants to help them?! We're currently raking in revenue from these unsympathetic nitwits. Why is that a problem to be fixed? That's the argument that, I think, was intended.

Finally, let's look at the radical discrepancy between Trump's "millions" and the number 80 that the NYT used. The Times is referring (I'll assume correctly) to the number who become subject to the estate tax in a given year. Trump said he wanted "[t]o protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer." His set of persons is everyone who might ever be subject to the tax, dying over a period of many years, and including people who might not, in the end, have enough to be subject to the tax but just have to worry and make decisions under the influence of the tax and those who are under pressure to use the services of tax professionals because they've heard that to fail to do so is to be a moron. 

"Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not 'succumb to [his] sexual advances.'"

Buzzfeed reports on what looks like an egregious case of sexual harassment and on the way Congress hides its sexual harassment problems (and thereby facilitates them going forward).

Buzzfeed has acquired what it says are the documents showing the settlement and the ludicrously biased procedure: "a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her."
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution....

Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.
The procedure also requires the complainant to continue working during 90 days of this counseling and mediation, so not only are you forbidden to talk to anyone about your troubles, but you have to keep working under the conditions you're saying are abusive.

This woman ended up with a settlement of just a little over $27,000, and she also lost her job and had to keep silence. I guess the power differential and the fear were so great that $27,000 was a good amount of money to her. I mean, look what she says he did:
On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands. She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.

In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”

“Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.
There was also evidence of a pattern of behavior, with affidavits from 3 other staff members. One can only wonder what other evidence was not seen because of past settlements with obligations to keep silent — not seen by the complainant. Conyers knows what's in his own history, and that's another element of the power differential. He knows how much he's got to hide. She's just a young person who needs to get a footing in her career and probably worries that her word against his won't be believed, which is probably part of why she was selected for the special workplace treatment that is sexual harassment.
One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)

"Welcome to the club. This is our pervy handshake."


IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd said "The handshake was awkward because Louis CK doesn't like it when another man touches his woman."

November 20, 2017

At the Fair Trade Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And please think of doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"The New York Times said on Monday that it was suspending Glenn Thrush, one of its most prominent reporters..."

"... after he was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior," the NYT reports.
The move came after the website Vox published a report containing allegations from four female journalists that Mr. Thrush, who was hired by The Times in January to cover the Trump administration, had acted inappropriately toward them. Mr. Thrush was a star reporter at Politico before joining The Times....

The women cited in the Vox article described Mr. Thrush’s behavior as including unwanted kissing and touching. Three of the women were not identified by name. The fourth, Laura McGann, wrote the article, which was presented in the first person.....
ADDED: Excerpt from the Vox piece (by Laura McGann):
I started to think maybe I shouldn’t be in journalism if I couldn’t hang in a tough newsroom. I found myself on edge, nervous and anxious all the time. I started to believe I had brought this all on myself.

In the course of reporting this story, I was told by a male reporter who’d worked at Politico at the time that my instinct was right. He said that the day after that night at the bar, Thrush told him about the incident, except with the roles reversed. I had come onto him, the reporter said Thrush told him, and he had gently shut it down....

The source said that Thrush frequently told versions of this story with different young women as the subject. He would talk up a night out drinking with a young attractive woman, usually a journalist. Then he’d claim that she came onto him. In his version of these stories, Thrush was the responsible grown-up who made sure nothing happened....

"Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them — with nudity, groping and lewd calls."

WaPo reports on the inner workings of Charlie Rose Inc., where if you didn't like the boss's behavior, your only recourse was the executive producer Yvette Vega:
Multiple women said they had at first been reassured by the presence of Vega, Rose’s executive producer, who has worked with him for decades. Two women who spoke to The Post said they repeatedly reported Rose’s inappropriate sexual behavior to Vega.
“I explained how he inappropriately spoke to me during those times,” Godfrey-Ryan said. “She would just shrug and just say, ‘That’s just Charlie being Charlie.’"...

“I should have stood up for them,” said Vega, 52, who has worked with Rose since the show was created in 1991. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”...
It's a very long article, and I won't undertake to describe Rose's alleged modus operandi, using his small (15-person) operation to bring vulnerable women into his orbit and to isolate them in his remote beach house where Rose (we're told) used the mating technique of walking around naked.

PBS and Bloomberg LP have distanced themselves from Charlie Rose Inc., which is a separate entity. They tell the Post they knew nothing, nothing. And they've suspended distribution of the show.

The most up-voted comment at WaPo is: "Is Trump the only man in the world that is not being held accountable?"

A liberal icon crashes to the ground and what can a liberal do but scream at the sky — Trump!!?

Trump, hitting back at Jeff Flake, calls him "Flake(y)."

Here's the tweet, which is funny for a few reasons:
Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls) was caught (purposely) on “mike” saying bad things about your favorite President. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is “toast.”
The funniest thing about it to me is Trump calling himself "your favorite President." It's absolutely accurate, because he is our only President. I mean, you might try to write a screwball comedy — in the manner of "My Favorite Wife" — where some strange occurrence causes there to be 2 Presidents, but even if you think Hillary was cheated out of the presidency, there's no way she is the President. And if you try to say, but my favorite President is Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, I'm going to say it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

There's also some rock solid content. Flake has decided not to expose himself to an actual election process in Arizona, where a GOP incumbent should be able to win, and instead — with no judgment of the electorate to worry about — he's just speaking out against Trump. Flake's speaking has struck me as vain and attention-seeking, and the love he's getting from liberals would never translate into support in an actual political contest.

The "(purposely)" is funny, because who doesn't believe that Flake meant for his remark to be heard? Making it seem secret was a way to amplify it. That was my opinion and my favorite President agreed. Good. I also like that he used the "mike" spelling and not "mic." (Maybe Laurence Tribe will apply his massive brain to the question whether "mike" is a "distinctly Jewish" spelling.)

"Toast" is funny because "toast" popped up in Flake's open mike remark "If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast." So Trump is just flipping the insult back. Reminds me of "Puppet? No Puppet. You’re the Puppet" at that debate with Hillary:

It is childish, but Trump doesn't have time for longer statements.

And on a deeper, emotional level, "toast" is a warm, delicious word. Toast! We're toast! I love toast! Mmmm, toast! A toast to toast!

But what I really came here to opine about is the name-calling: Flake(y). Should a President be sticking names on everyone? I don't know but Trump doesn't do it to everyone. Only to those who hit him with a low blow. It is undignified, and I prefer the idea of going high when they go low, but that's not Trump. That's not what our favorite President does. (That's the name he's gotten me to start using for him. It's sticky.)

So let's move on to the question whether Flake(y) is a good name for Jeff Flake. "Flake" was already a funny name — already connoting flakiness — and Flake has lived and achieved with it. How can you make it more of an insult by adding "y"? Is it worse to be "flaky" than to be a "flake"? I think it's worse to be a flake, since it suggests it's the entirety of what you are as opposed to merely one of your attributes. (Reading the definition of "flaky/flakey" in the OED, I see that President Reagan called Qaddafi "flaky.")

But when I think about "Flakey," my first association is Flakey Foont!
Do you know what I'm talking about? Are you not up on Mr. Natural comics?
Mr. Natural has strange, magical powers and possesses cosmic insight; but he is also moody, cynical, self-pitying, and suffers from various strange sexual obsessions. He is endlessly being accosted by would-be disciples seeking the truth (among them such long-running Crumb characters as Flakey Foont and Shuman the Human). He typically regards them with amused condescension and a certain grudging affection, although his patience often wears thin and he takes sadistic pleasure in making them feel like idiots. While he is typically very cool and in control, he sometimes ends up in humiliating predicaments like languishing for years in a mental institution.
The really weird thing is thinking of Trump as Mr. Natural!

Let's talk about Trump's shoplifting-in-China tweets.

You've probably seen these already:

I have 3 responses, in this order:

1. The President should execute the duties of his office to the best of his abilities and not pick and choose depending on who's expressing gratitude.

2. These are statements made about what he did and how he thinks about it, and they might be honest and straightforward. But they might be twists of the truth or comedy, in which case we need to ask whether a President should be speaking like this, fooling around with the idea of treating the duties of his office as the distribution of favors and singling out individuals as undeserving of the benefits he has the power to provide.

3. We can try to understand the value of the President's tweet talk (even if we disapprove of it). At this level the question is why would he think there was some political advantage in saying these things? Here, we might say that he's baiting his antagonists to reinforce what LaVar Ball said and claim that shoplifting isn't a big deal. Trump might see value in that as it promotes his reputation for law and order and makes the other side feel like the forces of chaos. Also, Trump says nothing about race but creates an opportunity for his antagonists to racialize the controvery, which might benefit him.

Your turn.

ADDED: Remember Michael P. Fay, the American who was sentenced to 4 lashes on his bare buttocks after he pleaded guilty to vandalism in Singapore? (Fay had spray painted some cars.)  Who was President then and why wasn't he spared the painful, humiliating corporal punishment?
In Washington, President Clinton expressed disappointment with Singapore's decision, saying, "I think it was a mistake, as I said before, not only because of the nature of the punishment related to the crime but because of the questions that were raised about whether the young man was in fact guilty and involuntarily confessed."
To be fair, Singapore reduced the number of lashes from 6 to 4 as "a gesture of good will" to the American President. 

Thanks for the legal advice, CNN.

"Minnesota statutes state that 'intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks' is not considered criminal sexual conduct."

Extracted from "Woman says Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010." ("According to [Lindsay] Menz, she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010, almost two years after Franken was elected to the Senate. Her father's small business was sponsoring a local radio booth... When Franken walked in... her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken 'pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,' Menz said. 'It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek. It wasn't around my waist. It wasn't around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt... I was like, oh my God, what's happening.'")

Oregon leads the way in the protection of minors from sexual abuse: Teachers who think a student may be having sex must report it to the police.

WaPo reports.
According to Oregon law, anyone under 18 years old cannot legally give consent, meaning all sexual activity between minors is considered sexual abuse. This policy, [Salem-Keizer school] district officials say, stems from Oregon’s mandatory reporting and child abuse laws....

The subject came up at a training session for teachers and staff in the school district because “we felt like we hadn’t made it clear enough,” as Superintendent Christy Perry told the Statesman Journal....

Some pointed out that this leaves high school students without anyone to speak with about sex.

“You can’t have a conversation about safe sex without talking about sex,” Deborah Carnaghi, a program coordinator for Child Protective Services in Oregon’s Department of Human Services, told the Statesman Journal. Others pointed out that sexual activity among high school students is common....
Then abuse is common (abuse as defined in the state's criminal law). And why are you instructing students on how to be safe during abuse? Time to get back to abstinence only as the safe-sex training?

Here's a  quote from an 11th-grade girl: “I lose the ability to have a private conversation with a trusted adult who works for the district, about something personal to me. Talking about sexual activity between teachers and students should be confidential.” Ambiguity alert.

The people of Oregon need to think and talk about what kinds of laws they want. They need to notice the hypocrisy and the contradictions. Should teenagers under 18 be having sexual intercourse or not? If the answer is no, no means no, right?

The problem with calling Roy Moore a pedophile.

Rachel Hope Cleves (a history professor) and Nicholas L. Syrett (a gender studies professor) write in the Washington Post that it's important to set the label "pedophile" aside and confine it to its technically correct meaning ("recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger)"), because...
In the midst of a storm of allegations against powerful men in the world of politics and entertainment, we should see Moore not as an outlier but as another man who allegedly used his position to focus on those who he believed were the most vulnerable.
There are a lot of comments on this op-ed, and many of the most-liked ones don't get the point, and seem to insist on saying "pedophile" because they hate what Moore allegedly did and want to use a strong word to express that and they're not interested in sparing Moore on a technicality.  There are also many other commenters telling these people they didn't understand the article or just read the headline — "Roy Moore is not a pedophile" — and jumped into the comments section.

The authors, Cleves and Syrett, are not out to go easy on Moore. They're interested in going big attacking men in general. Moore may be an extreme case, going after young teenagers, but he's in a set of men that can't be isolated and ostracized as easily as pedophiles. Putting him in the category of men who pursue sex by exploiting a power differential integrates him with men we have not exiled from decent society, but it also creates potential for influencing the bad behavior of many more men. And that's what Cleves and Syrett are eager to do.

I got hit by a drone the other day.

I was walking in my very quiet neighborhood, wearing a long wool coat, listening to an audiobook in my usual there-but-also-somewhere-else manner, and suddenly I'm hit in the leg with what I thought was a rock. Is someone throwing a rock at me? I turn and see a rather pathetic man holding a controller of some sort in his two hands and glance down at the ground and see the stupid drone toy of his that hit me. I give him a look that must have expressed my opinion that this is the dumbest loser I have had to interact with in a long time, said nothing, and moved on. I was glad nobody threw a rock at me and glad I didn't express my sense of relief but only my opinion of his loserhood when I had to look at him.

Also, recently: We were walking down a quiet residential street near where we live, and suddenly BANG! — a big car crash. On a street with practically zero traffic, a black car made a left turn into the path of a red car going straight. No one seemed to be hurt, but the black car spun around and had its whole passenger's side crushed in. I realized how situationally unaware I am when I'm walking. I had my eyes open and looking straight in the direction where it happened, but I don't feel that I saw it. The sound of the crash got my attention, and I looked at the aftermath and deduced what happened, but I really did not see the hit. I think I get caught up in my thoughts and I'm somehow blind without being aware of how blind I am.

"One wonders if the boy did not know what would happen. I do not know about you, but in my youth I have never been in situations like this."

"Never. I was always aware of what could happen. When you are in somebody’s bedroom, you have to be aware of where that can lead to. That’s why it does not sound very credible to me. It seems to me that Spacey has been attacked unnecessarily.... People know exactly what's going on [about Weinstein]... And they play along. Afterwards, they feel embarrassed or disliked. And then they turn it around and say: 'I was attacked, I was surprised'. But if everything went well, and if it had given them a great career, they would not talk about it. I hate rape. I hate attacks. I hate sexual situations that are forced on someone. But in many cases one looks at the circumstances and thinks that the person who is considered a victim is merely disappointed."

Said Morrissey.

ADDED: These remarks made me wonder how smart Morrissey is. My guess was that he's very smart, and he likes to look at things from different points of view and talk about what he sees, and that can get you into trouble, at least if your smartness doesn't lead you to see what you're going to get if you waft miscellaneous ideas where people expect you to say only one thing and you decide to protect yourself by keeping quiet.

I read the "Early life" section of Morrissey's Wikipedia page, and see that his parents were "working-class Irish Catholics," and he "failed his 11-plus exam" after elementary school "and proceeded to St. Mary's Technical Modern School, an experience that he found unpleasant." He was good at sports but still "an unpopular loner." He said his education was "evil and brutal," and "All I learnt was to have no self-esteem and to feel ashamed without knowing why." He did read a lot, we're told, including feminist literature and Oscar Wilde. And he turned to music — very successfully — as the solution.

Even here, music was a solution. Morrissey could have saved these ideas for song lyrics, which can be enigmatic, ambiguous, and seeming to arise from a character the singer embodies.

Gone at last.

November 19, 2017

"I mean, have you ever really looked at a woman naked? Really objectively looked at a woman’s body?"

"What do you see? A fat boy with overdeveloped breasts, that’s what you see. Basically, a badly made youth. A child who’s somehow managed to shoot up to adult height without growing any muscle – a chronic anaemic who haemorrhages regularly thirteen times a year. What do you expect to come out of them? Wit?"/"If what you say is true, then how can it be that I so easily came to think of her as my intellectual equal?"/"Hallucination. The mesmerising power of a skirt. Or perhaps the two of you really have become equals. Perhaps the capillary power of her vacuity has actually sucked your brains out and brought her up and you down to the same moronic level."

That's August Strindberg, as delightfully translated by David Greig, in the play "Creditors," a production of which we saw this afternoon. A snapshot of the set:


The last performance is less than 2 hours from now, so if you're nearby, consider snapping up one of the few tickets left and running out to Spring Green.

Laurence Tribe calls Trump's misspelling of "Frankenstein" "at least subconsciously antisemitic."

Trump tweeted:

Lawprof Laurence Tribe tweeted:

All right, this has us rereading and highlighting the hilarious, mean, and thought-provoking things Trump crammed into his little tweet. He's got the memorable, powerful nickname for Al Franken, connecting him to the famous monster. Yeah, it's obvious and Franken himself has done it...
... but it's lodged in our head now. And Trump successfully raised an issue that I hadn't thought of, that the photographer would have taken bursts of images and the one we are seeing is the one Franken himself chose to give to Leeann Tweeden to inform her of the prank, so he must have thought he looked rather impishly cute. What about the other pictures?

But let's concentrate on the misspelling. Why would Trump do that? Laurence Tribe is presumably serious when he says he wants us to believe that he thinks Trump thought the "Frankenstien" spelling would convey anti-Semitism. What other reason is there to spell the word wrong? Well, first, there's a simple mistake, perhaps influenced by the "i before e" rule.

Tribe — who must know about Occam's Razor — tries to exclude the simple mistake by stating that "Trump had to override autocorrect," but I opened a compose window in Twitter and typed "Frankenstien" and it did not autocorrect. I tried another "i before e" mistake and wrote "recieve" and it autocorrected, so I know how Twitter autocorrect works, and it doesn't reject "Frankenstien."

So Tribe just sounds ridiculously conspiracy-theory-oriented. Why didn't he test autocorrect before making that assertion? I'm so careful about things like that that I feel the need to say right now that maybe Tribe's Twitter experience, perhaps in a different browser, works differently from mine. And I'm not spreading scurrilous hate by calling somebody anti-Semitic.

I'm so embarrassed for Tribe, dipping into this kind of crap. I wonder where his hands go when he's typing out tweets that he chooses not to publish to the world? This is what he thinks is impishly cute or brilliantly smart or importantly alarming??

And the dumbest part of it is, who thinks of "Frankenstien" as "distinctively Jewish" in a way that "Frankenstein" is not? There are many Jewish names that end in "-stein." If anything, the "-stein" ending might cause me to think Jewish. But of all the names that end in "-stein," the last one I'd think of as Jewish is "Frankenstein." Who thinks of the Frankenstein monster as Jewish? Here's the full text of Mary Shelley's novel, and there isn't one reference to Jews or Jewishiness or Judaism.

But if the subject is on your mind, perhaps you'd get the idea that misspelling the familiar name would be a way to make it seem Jewish, but who thinks about "-stien" as being Jewish? I've never even noticed that name before and have no association with it. I don't think it's familiar enough for Trump to have thought the old e-i switcheroo would trigger something anti-Semitic in his readers. I had to look up the name, and I'm still not seeing it as Jewish. calls it a "Norwegian: habitational name from any of numerous farmsteads." I looked up my own last name on the same website and got "Americanized form of German and Jewish Althaus," which surprised me, as that was the first time in my life I'd seen the name called Jewish. But that shows that doesn't hold back from calling a name Jewish.

I can't believe the badness of that Laurence Tribe tweet. Maybe the idea is something like: Trump's bad tweets work for him. Bad is good. You've got to tweet badly.

You're putting me on.

ADDED: If anything here seems anti-Semitic it's jumping to call something "distinctively Jewish."