July 18, 2018

At the Chicago Beach Café...


... take the plunge.

And go through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Treason talk.

Let's look back before this week, to "treason" as it has appeared within the lifetime of this blog. In chronological order:

April 27, 2005: Discussing the "blood" metaphor in constitutional law, I quoted Article III: "The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

May 28, 2006: I wrote about the protest singer Phil Ochs declaring the Vietnam War over:
So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die
I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over
July 1, 2006: "The editors of The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times explain how they decide when to publish a secret... Baquet and Keller have written a lengthy defense of their behavior, behavior that they know has been severely criticized, even called 'treason.'"

September 20, 2006: "To me, that's treason. I call it treason against rock-and-roll, because rock is the antithesis of politics. Rock should never be in bed with politics," said Alice Cooper, indicting rock stars who were telling people to vote for John Kerry.

August 3, 2007: Markos Moulitsas says that in 2002, "Dissent against the president was considered treason."

August 11, 2007: A 9/11 truther criticizes me for declining to debate him, which he took to mean that I know I'm "complicit in covering up mass murder and high treason."

May 12, 2008: A scholar assures us that the Muslim world would view Obama, the son of a Muslim father, as guilty of apostasy, which has "connotations of rebellion and treason," which is considered "worse than murder."

September 12, 2011: I'm live-blogging a debate in which "treason" is thrown around casually: "Perry stands by his 'almost treasonous' remark, referring to the use of the Federal Reserve for political purposes... Huntsman accuses Perry of treason for saying we can't secure the border."

May 8, 2012: "Isn't it funny, this 'treason' incident?" Mitt Romney, running for President, failed to chide a woman who asked whether Obama should be tried for treason. I brought up (as I did today), the 1964 book "None Dare Call It Treason." I also quoted the casual use of "treason" by Chief Justice John Marshall  Cohens v. Virginia to refer to doing something unconstitutional. ("We have no more right to decline the exercise of jurisdiction which is given than to usurp that which is not given. The one or the other would be treason to the Constitution.") And a commenter brought up an even more venerable use of the word, Patrick Henry's "If this be treason, make the most of it." That made me say: "The country was founded on treason. We celebrate the treason we like."

Also on May 8, 2012: "Obama supporters who express outrage over the use of the word 'treason' seem to think the word means nothing but to the crime defined in law — as if the woman Romney talked to wanted Obama tried and executed. It's as if people who say 'property is theft' are freakishly insisting that property owners be prosecuted for larceny. Think of all the words we use that have more specific legal meanings that do not apply: This job is murder... The rape of the land... Slave to love..."

June 17, 2013: Edward Snowden explains why he left the country: " [T]he US Government... immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That's not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it."

July 26, 2013: From a post about the death penalty: "Here's the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, which found the death penalty for rape (even rape of a child) to be unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. No one has been executed in the U.S. for a crime other than murder since the 1960s, though the Kennedy case leaves open the possibility of capital punishment 'for other non-homicide crimes, ranging from drug-trafficking to treason.'"

April 22, 2014 : Above the Law had hyperventilated, "Justice Scalia Literally Encourages People To Commit Treason," and I punctured it, saying Scalia was just giving his usual speech about the Constitution, which is always subject to the right of revolution explained in the Declaration of Independence. I bring up Patrick Henry's "If this be treason, make the most of it."

February 23, 2015: "'Edward Snowden couldn't be here for some treason,' said Neil Patrick Harris, the Oscars host, when the documentary about him won an award." I said: "I liked the joke, because of its language precision and because it seemed at least a tad risky in the context of Hollywood celebrating itself."

February 29, 2016: Trump hesitated to "unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election" after Duke it would be "treason to your heritage" for a white person not to vote for Trump.

October 14, 2016: "Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree," said Ezra Pound, who was charged with treason in WWII. He was disaffected after WWI, moved to Italy, felt inspired by Mussolini, and went on the radio criticizing the U.S., FDR, and the Jews.

December 21, 2016: I quoted the official course description for "The Problem of Whiteness," a course offered in the African Cultural Studies department of my university, the University of Wisconsin–Madison: "In this class, we will ask what an ethical white identity entails, what it means to be #woke, and consider the journal Race Traitor’s motto, 'treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.'"

January 16, 2017: I quote someone talking about Chelsea Manning: "He is a member of the military who knowingly committed treason. His, or her, gender status has nothing to do with his conviction for treason."

February 10, 2017: I quoted Trump (before his election) talking about Edward Snowden: "I think he's a total traitor and I would deal with him harshly," "And if I were president, Putin would give him over," and "Snowden is a spy who should be executed." I wondered: "But maybe you think Trump will end up looking good forefronting the iniquity of treason."

February 7, 2018: Trump had used the word "treasonous" to describe the Democrats who didn't applaud during his State of the Union Address. Yeah, it was a joke, but: "He's President and in the position of enforcing the law, and from that position punching down. He really should not be joking about treason. And I get that he's punching back, and that's his style. But people aren't just idiots if they feel afraid of a President who isn't continually assuring us that he's aware of his profound responsibilities."

April 17, 2018: I quoted Neil Gorsuch, concurring — and voting with the liberals ‚ in a case about immigration: "Vague laws invite arbitrary power. Before the Revolu­tion, the crime of treason in English law was so capa­ciously construed that the mere expression of disfavored opinions could invite transportation or death. The founders cited the crown’s abuse of 'pretended' crimes like this as one of their reasons for revolution. See Declaration of Independence ¶21."

May 4, 2018: A conservative commentator sarcastically said he was "waiting for the Left to scream treason" over John Kerry's "quiet play to save Iran deal with foreign leaders."

July 17, 2017: I quoted Byron York: "Would it have been appropriate for the Trump campaign to try to find the [Clinton] emails?... What if an intelligence operative from a friendly country got them and offered them? And what about an unfriendly country? Would there be a scale, from standard oppo research on one end to treason on the other, depending on how the emails were acquired?"

"I will live my life very carefully from now on, to thank everyone."

Said Ekapol Chanthawong, the assistant coach who was rescued, along with the 12 soccer-playing boys, from the cave in Thailand, quoted in "Thai soccer players and coach speak publicly for first time since their rescue from flooded cave" (WaPo).

The Thai navy SEALs who stayed with the lost team until the rescue said Wednesday that they worked to keep the boys’ spirits up and ensure they were in good health. Wearing hats and sunglasses — Thai SEALs are not identified due to the nature of their work — they said they gave the boys high-protein rations and played chess with them to pass the time.

The SEALs used food as motivation, reminding the boys of all the treats that awaited them when they returned home....

“They were like my brothers, like my family,” Ekapol said of the SEALs. “We ate together, and we slept together.”

I was surprised to see overt support for Trump on the UW campus today.

Parked very conspicuously, by the lake trail:


But I hear some very quiet expressions of support here and there. It is so socially unacceptable in Madison that it means a lot to hear or see any at all.

"Daily Show host Trevor Noah is accused of racism after joking that 'Africa won the World Cup' because most of the France team players are black."

The Daily Mail reports (with a clip showing the comic riff: "Africa won the World Cup. I get it, they have to say it's the French team. But look at those guys. You don't get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends").
French former reality TV star Martin Medus... said: 'You're a f****** racist. Those people are French and p***** to always be reminded of their background. They fight hard to tell people they are proud French people and yet you disrespect them calling them African. Are the Lakers an African team?'

Elise Frank added: 'So basically, Trevor, all the African-Americans in the US are just Africans, right? Know that as a french of Algerian, German and Spanish descent, I find it insulting. We are all french, we are one people. Ask the players,they'll tell you they're proud frenchmen!'

One man said: 'This is so racist to think that because they are black they are not French. They claimed their love of France. You denied them the right to be French? Is this what you want to deliver to all afro americans also? 98% of the players were born in France. Only two players were born in Africa, but they came at the age of two. So they've grown up in France.'

The All-Star Game was not a good event for the Milwaukee Brewers.

I didn't watch the game. I don't like the All-Star Game, so I only checked out the National Anthem and left. I prefer normal games, but I was interested enough to see how the Brewers performed. I found this in WaPo:
Racist, homophobic and misogynistic tweets that Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader sent in 2011 and 2012 surfaced as he pitched in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park, turning his appearance into an embarrassing stain for Hader and a public-relations nightmare for Major League Baseball.

After Hader surrendered a three-run homer in the eighth inning, several Twitter users — starting, it seems, with an account named MLB Insider Dinger — found and retweeted messages Hader sent as a 17-year-old. The tweets included numerous uses of the n-word and an allusion to “white power” next to an emoji of a closed fist. One tweet read only, “I hate gay people.” Another referenced wanting women only for sex, cooking and cleaning....

Hader discovered that the tweets had surfaced after he exited the game.... When the National League clubhouse opened to media, Hader was standing alone at his locker, his blond hair pulled into a bun. Reporters surrounded him. A public-relations official asked reporters to wait. Another PR man said to the other: “Give it a second. We got a couple more [reporters] coming. We got a bunch more.”...

Before the game ended, Hader had deleted his old tweets and locked his account. He said he would accept any suspension or punishment.... “I’m ready for any consequences for what happened seven years ago,” he said. “Like I said before, I was young, immature and stupid. There’s no excuses for what was said or what happened.”...
The weird thing is that those old tweets hadn't been deleted before last night. Really, that's inexplicable. The team's management is inept not to notice and attend to that sort of thing. It took giving up a 3-run homer in the All-Star Game to get anyone interested enough to look into his social media. It's some kind of measure of how unimportant and important social media is. What a screw-up!

"The reaction by most of the media, by the Democrats, by the anti-Trump people is like mob violence. I've never seen anything like it in my life."

"This is the president of the United States, doing what every president... since FDR in 1943 with Stalin, meeting with the head of the Kremlin. And every president since Eisenhower, a Republican by the way, has met with the leader of the Kremlin for one existential purpose: To avoid war between the two nuclear superpowers. Today, in my considered, scholarly, long-time judgment, relations between the U.S. and Russia are more dangerous than they have ever — let me repeat, ever — been, including the Cuban missile crisis. I want my president to do -- I didn't vote for this president-- but I want my president to do what every other president has done. Sit with the head of the other nuclear superpower and walk back the conflicts that could lead to war, whether they be in Syria, Ukraine, in the Baltic nations, in these accusations of cyber attacks. Every president has been encouraged to do that an applauded by both parties. Not Trump. Look what they did to him today. They had a kangaroo court. They found him guilty. And then you had the former head of the U.S. CIA, who himself ought to be put under oath and asked about his role in inventing Russiagate, calling the President of the United States treasonous. What have we come to in this country? And what is going to happen in the future?"

Said NYU Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen (speaking on Tucker Carlson's show Monday).

Cohen is a contributing editor at The Nation, a left-leaning publication. In the interview, he said to  Carlson, "Let me ask you a question, you know D.C., why do these people dislike Putin, the president of post-communist Russia more than they ever seemed to dislike the communist leaders?" Carlson just repeated the question, and Cohen said "There is an answer but we'd need a lot more time and a psychiatrist."

Note: The transcript at the Real Clear Politics link was full of little errors. I watched the video (embedded there) and have corrected the text. Nothing substantive.

ADDED: In a similar vein, there's Rand Paul:
You know, I think engagement with our adversaries, conversation with our adversaries is a good idea. Even in the height of the Cold War, maybe at the lowest ebb when we were in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, I think it was a good thing that Kennedy had a direct line to Khrushchev. I think it was a good thing that we continue to have ambassadors to Russia even when we really objected greatly to what was going on, even during Stalin’s regime.

So, I think that it is a good idea to have engagement. And I think that what is lost in this is that I think there's a bit of Trump derangement syndrome. I think there are people who hate the president so much that this could have easily been President Obama early in his first administration setting the reset button and trying to have better relations with Russia, and I think it's lost on people that they're a nuclear power. They have influence in Syria. They're in close proximity to the troops in Syria. They are close to the peninsula of North Korea and may have some influence that could help us there....

"How Trump Withstands So Many Controversies... The word 'treason' is being thrown around..."

"... to describe how President Trump seemed to take Russia’s side during his summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin in Helsinki, Finland. But as with every major controversy that Mr. Trump has faced, it’s unclear if anything will happen as a result."

An excellent topic, well-explored on the NYT "Daily" podcast with Michael Barbaro. I recommend listening to the whole thing. There's no transcript, but from the notes on the show:
Under fire for contradicting United States intelligence reports of Russian interference in the presidential election, Mr. Trump asserted on Tuesday that he had misspoken at his news conference with Mr. Putin, and that he had meant to say, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,” rather than “would.” He added, “Could be other people, also.”

Never in the modern era has the word “treason” become part of the national conversation in such a prominent way. Some of those who voted for Mr. Trump struggled to endorse his approach, but many are reaffirming their support.
On the subject of the prominence of the term "treason," there's a link to an article from yesterday that says:
[John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director... called [Trump's] performance “nothing short of treasonous.” The late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel also invoked treason on their shows. The front-page banner headline for The New York Daily News declared “OPEN TREASON.”

Max Boot, the former Republican who has become one of Mr. Trump’s sharpest critics, noted in a column on Monday in The Washington Post that accusing him of treason was once unthinkable. No longer....

Mr. Trump returned to the White House on Monday night as protesters outside the gate shouted, “Welcome home, traitor.” Even Dictionary.com trolled the president, tweeting out a definition: “Traitor: A person who commits treason by betraying his or her country.”

It later said that searches for “treason” had increased by 2,943 percent. By Tuesday afternoon, the word “traitor” had been used on Twitter 800,000 times and the word “treason” about 1.2 million times....
When I hear "treason" used in political discourse like that, my mind drifts back to 1964 and the rise of Barry Goldwater. One of the key books of that time was "None Dare Call It Treason." I look it up, and what they hell? The first hit is the NYT obituary for its author, dated yesterday!
John A. Stormer, whose self-published 1964 book, “None Dare Call It Treason,” became a right-wing favorite despite being attacked as inaccurate in promulgating the notion that American government and institutions were full of Communist sympathizers, died on July 10 in Troy, Mo. He was 90....

Communists, Mr. Stormer wrote, were bent on infiltrating the American government and had largely succeeded, as evidenced by American and United Nations economic support for Communist countries.

“The Communists have sworn to bury us,” Mr. Stormer wrote. “We are digging our own graves.... From where has the money come to build and finance the vast collectivist underground which reaches its tentacles into education, the churches, labor and the press?” he asked. “Amazingly, the fortunes of America’s most successful tycoons, dedicated by them to the good of mankind, have been redirected to finance the socialization of the United States.”
That was the deployment of the word "treason" that went big in the 60s. People who were not right-wing, of course, viewed it as anti-communist hysteria, a throwback to the McCarthy era, and that's the way I've seen the word "treason" all this time. But John Brennan threw it back into the American discourse and the Trump antagonists have run with it. Nothing else has worked to stop Trump, so why not crack open this 100-foot long gushing fissure?

IN THE COMMENTS: Robert Cook writes:
It's really outrageous and alarming, this tsunami of people shouting "treason" at Trump for...what? Because he disputes our intelligence agencies? That does not fit the definition of treason. And besides, fuck our intelligence agencies!

This must be a coordinated effort to drown Trump in shit to the point where he can't move or speak, where he is immobilized. I don't say this as a fan of Trump--I think he's terrible in just about every way--but to recognize that there are powerful forces who will do whatever they must to stop any president from pursuing courses of action that they do not approve of. The Military/Industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us of, by whatever name it should be known now, is more powerful than ever, and sees itself as sovereign over us all. Those who hate Trump may cheer this now, but they will cry when the same tactics are used by these forces to paralyze the efforts of a president whom they do support.

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." Thomas Paine

"Manning up and womaning down: How husbands and wives report their earnings when she earns more" — a study from the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Do gendered social norms influence survey reports of 'objective' economic outcomes? This paper compares the earnings reported for husbands and wives in the Current Population Survey with their 'true' earnings from administrative income-tax records. Estimates from OLS regressions show that survey respondents react to violations of the norm that husbands earn more than their wives by inflating their reports of husbands’ earnings and deflating their reports of wives’ earnings. On average, the gap between a husband’s survey and administrative earnings is 2.9 percentage points higher if his wife earns more than he does, and the gap between a wife’s survey and administrative earnings in 1.5 percentage points lower if she earns more than her husband does. These findings suggest that gendered social norms can influence survey reports of seemingly objective outcomes and that their impact may be heterogeneous not just between genders but also within gender."

By Marta Murray-Close and Misty Heggeness, "not necessarily represent[ing] the views of the U.S. Census Bureau." I don't like the government nosing into the psychology of marriages.

I'm seeing that because it's discussed in "When Wives Earn More Than Husbands, Neither Partner Likes to Admit It/Deceiving the census: New research suggests that social attitudes are lagging behind both workplace progress and how people actually live their lives" (NYT). From the Times article:
Marriage therapists say marriages can become shakier when women earn more than men if men feel insecure or women lose respect for them. Economists say it’s one reason the loss of working-class jobs for men has led to such discontent — and to fewer marriages.

“Blokes are threatened by wives who earn more, which surprises nobody but is interesting that you can actually find it in the data,” said Justin Wolfers, who studies the economics of the family at the University of Michigan....
“When the gender norm is violated, there is some compensating behavior to try to undo some of the utility loss experienced by the husband,” said Marianne Bertrand, an author of the study and an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
From the comments at the NYT, this is the second-highest rated:
This is the most important article in the newspaper today, not the clown's antics. The crisis in masculinity, the failure to acknowledge, understand, or find comfort in women entering the workforce since the 1970s, is what got the clown elected in the first place, and is what drives rightist politics. See Krugman today on the ideology of right-wing politicians despite what their constituents vote for or want. The desperation to recover masculinity in its older forms drove men and women of Germany to embrace someone who promised to lead them out of the humiliations of WWI. We face not a culture war as a distraction, but as the driving force. See Edsall on this topic in his recent post. See gun advertisements promising a purchase of manhood, as if the symbolism weren't enough.

"Well, I love Apu. I love the character, and it makes me feel bad that it makes other people feel bad."

"But on the other hand, it’s tainted now — the conversation, there’s no nuance to the conversation now. It seems very, very clunky. I love the character. I love the show.

Said Matt Groening, the creator of "The Simpsons," talking to the NYT about the character who seems to many people to be too much of an ethnic stereotype. What's he supposed to do about the problem?
We’re not sure exactly how it’s going to play out. Back in the day, I named the character after the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray. 
When I was young, back in the day, educated people got the message there were certain films you needed to know and ought to see if you ever got the chance. This was back at a time when you had to keep an eye on the movies that were showing at some "art house" movie theater and arrange your schedule to prioritize important movies. These days, it's so easy to see anything you want to see that you can put it off for ever, and maybe people just stopped applying pressure on each other to see the great classics when it was no longer necessary to remain vigilant in case, say, "Pather Panchali" played anywhere near you.

In short, the name "Apu" can no longer carry the message Groening may once have thought it contained:
I love Indian culture and Indian film and Indian music. I thought that the name was a signal that we had, at least, a scholarly intention. 
A scholarly intention!
I thought maybe a kid was going to grow up and find out what the name came from and go watch the Apu Trilogy, which are the greatest films, basically, in the history of cinema.
Or a kid would grow up, notice the films and laugh at the name because of "The Simpsons" and move on.

The Times questions Groening about his statement that "people love to pretend they’re offended"?
That wasn’t specifically about Apu. That was about our culture in general.
Yikes. Be careful, Matt, you might step on the anti-Trump hysteria that's raging this week (and every week).
And that’s something I’ve noticed for the last 25 years. There is the outrage of the week and it comes and goes....
But did Groening mean to say the Apu critics weren't sincere? Asked, Groening quickly credits them with sincerity and volunteers that he agrees "politically, with 99 percent of the things" they believe. He repeats that he loves Apu and shifts the blame onto all the other shows for not having an Indian character.

It's so much easier to avoid criticism by just not doing the thing that somebody might say you're doing wrong.

ADDED: Compare Groening to Roseanne Barr, who, speaking only for herself and being carelessly expressive, brought destruction to work that hundreds of people were participating in. Groening is, I am guessing, thinking of preserving not only his work but an entire workplace. He needs to be careful, even if that carefulness is the opposite of what makes comedy great, what got him where he is. And now, I'm back to wanting to talk about Trump again. Why doesn't he look at what's happening and tone it way down to save the show?

July 17, 2018

At the White Hat Café...


... talk all you like.

And consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Trump says he just botched a double negative.

"Under unrelenting pressure from congressional Republicans, his own advisers and his allies on Fox News, President Trump abruptly reversed course on Tuesday and claimed he had misspoken during a news conference with President Vladimir V. Putin about whether Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election.Mr. Trump, reading from a script, said he believed the assessment of the nation’s intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the campaign after having seeming to have accepted Mr. Putin’s assertion the day before that Russia was not involved. The misunderstanding, he said, grew out of an unsuccessful attempt to use a double negative when he answered a question about whether he believed Mr. Putin or his intelligence agencies. 'My people came to me,' he said in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. 'They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.' On Tuesday he said that he had misspoken. 'The sentence should have been, "I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia," sort of a double negative,' the president said. 'So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good.'"

The NYT reports.

Are you buying the double negative theory?
pollcode.com free polls

"Most Science-fiction missed the most important thing in the world, which is the internet itself. They had flying cars. They had rocket ships. None of that exists..."

"... but the internet governs our lives today. It used to be that when you communicated with someone, the person you were communicating with was as important as the information; Now on the internet, the person is unimportant at all. Becoming your own filter will be the challenge of the future. Will our children's children's children need the companionship of humans - or will they have evolved in a world where that's not important? It sounds awful doesn't it? But maybe it will be fine, and the companionship of robots and an intelligent internet will be sufficient. Who am I to say?"

Says Lawrence Krauss, the theoretical physicist, at the end of the Werner Herzog documentary, "Lo and Behold/Reveries of a Connected World."

These are the last spoken words in the film, which then ends with some scientists outdoors playing guitar/banjo/fiddle and singing the old song "Salty Dog." I can see there's a Johnny Cash version of this song and a Flatt & Scruggs, but the version I've known for half a century is by Mississippi John Hurt.

Flatt & Scruggs sing, "Let me be your salty dog or I won't be your man at all," and so does Johnny Cash, but Mississippi John Hurt sings "Let me be your salty dog/I don't want to be your man at all." It makes a difference! Ah, here's the whole script for the movie, and it gives the lyrics: "Let me be your salty dog/I won't be your man at all." That makes a difference too — a difference that affects what I want to say. But let me try anyway.

The movie not only talks about the loss of humanity on the internet (as the last spoken words show), it includes the famous cartoon, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" (showing an actual dog using the internet). You see where I'm going with this. The film ends with the spoken idea that maybe in the future people won't need the companionship of another human, and then you get the sung lyric of an offer of companionship that excludes being an man. The singer wants to be your dog and not your man. In one way, very literally, it reinforces the Krauss + New Yorker cartoon idea of evolving away from real touch with another person.

But because of the way we suddenly see and hear live human beings together playing and singing, we are roused into feeling that nothing could be more important than getting together with other people in the flesh. It's the very last thing in the movie, number one. Secondly, these men are obviously vitally alive and enjoying their immediately company. Thirdly, they are singing an enthusiastic plea for physical love from the "you" whose salty dog they are begging to be. I feel certain the film's final send off is a message to hold onto your humanity.

And yet that message is complicated by the old line about not wanting to be a man at all. Even before we got abstracted into the bodiless world of the internet, there were songs expressing an intense desire to escape being a man. But that was in the opposite direction from abstraction and into the role of dog. It was a desire to be even more intensely in the fleshly, embodied world.

"Salty Dog" is an old song, not to be confused with "Salty Dog" by Procol Harum (which is about sailors). The idea of being your dog has been around for a long time. Here's "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges:

Also, for those who've followed the story of Althouse and Meade, there's the line "We want to BE your dog."

"There have always been two parts to the Trump-Russia probe: the what-Russia-did part... and the get-Trump part...."

"Trump's problem is that he has always refused, or been unable, to separate the two. One is about national security and international relations, while the other is about Donald Trump. The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part — if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election — his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That's consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn't admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more."

Writes Byron York at The Washington Examiner.

"I think I was so taken by how the Orioles played because it was different—Earl’s philosophy was effectively countercultural at a time when many teams..."

"... especially in the National League, placed great emphasis on the running game, on bunting men over—on scratching a single run from an infield single, a stolen base, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly. Earl thought that required too many things to go right for a maximum reward of a single run. He preferred to encourage his hitters to work the count, to take walks, and then, with a man or two on base, swing for the fences. If you followed that strategy, he believed, you had a far better chance of putting three runs on the board than the run-scratchers had of putting up a singleton.... In my instinctive contrarianism I grew deeply attached to this way of playing baseball, so you can easily imagine how I felt when, in my twenties, I started reading... Bill James’s Baseball Abstract. For James’s early and profoundly influential exercises in sabermetrics... proved pretty conclusively that Earl was right all along, and those guys scrabbling for one run at a time were just chasing a losing hand. I felt vindicated, and even more so as the years went by and sabermetrics grew more detailed and sophisticated. Earl Weaver was in a way the patron saint of sabermetrics, and I was happy to bask in the reflection of his glory. What makes this a problem is that, as boxing fans have always known, styles make fights. What made Earl’s Way so fascinating all those years ago was its distinctiveness; and that’s what made the arguments among fans fun too. As fascinating as the sabermetrics revolution in baseball has been—and I cheered it on for decades, following James and the other pioneers with passionate intensity—the comprehensiveness of its victory has simply made baseball less enjoyable to watch, for me anyway. Strangely enough, baseball was better when we knew less about the most effective way to play it...."

Writes Alan Jacobs in "Giving Up On Baseball" (Weekly Standard).

And there's the trouble with rationality, in a nutshell. At some point, you may ask yourself, why bother at all? And the rational answer is: Don't bother! The whole wonderful, fascinating thing was irrational, and if it's going to be rational, what's to love?

Now, this makes me think of a scene in the Werner Herzog documentary "Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World," in which we see robots programmed to play soccer:

If you watched that to the end — and maybe you didn't, because robots playing soccer... why bother? — you heard Herzog ask the young man holding one of the robots, "Do you love it?," and the man answered yes. So is the perfectly rational thing lovable? Well, the man loves the robot he's making. But he's experimenting and creating. He's not just a spectator. And I'm watching a Werner Herzog documentary because I love things like the moment when he gets the scientist to experience awareness of his love and to express it.

"Drought Reveals Giant, 4,500-Year-Old Irish Henge."

"The circular structure in the Boyne Valley was discovered by drone photographers searching for signs of hidden Neolithic sites" (Smithsonian).
So why do these ancient structures stand out during times of drought? The henges are actually a series of concentric circles created by placing large posts in the ground. When the henge fell out of disuse or was burned down, the underground portions of the posts rotted away, changing the composition of the soil in the posthole, causing it to retain more moisture. During a drought, while the surrounding crops yellow, the plants over the post holes have a slight advantage. “The weather is 95 percent responsible for this find,” Murphy tells Best. “The flying of the drone, knowledge of the area, and fluke make up the rest in this discovery.”

"An animated political video featured in The New York Times’ opinion section has sparked outrage among a number of leaders and advocates in the LGBTQ community."

"The short cartoon depicts U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as gay paramours — a trope used numerous times by comedians and satirists seeking to mock the relationship between the two leaders," NBC newsplains.
“Trump and Putin: A Love Story” is part of a three-video series titled “Trump Bites,” which was animated by Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton and produced by Billy Shebar and David Roberts. In The New York Times article accompanying the video, which was posted on the Times website in late June, the creators said the series is a “riff on Mr. Trump’s absurd utterances to illustrate the president’s tumultuous inner life of paranoia, narcissism and xenophobia.”

Bill Plympton has been around a long time. He's most famous (to me anyway) for "How to Kiss" (and his Trump + Putin video uses the same humor of making kissing grotesque and ridiculous):

"Nevada’s legal brothels, hailed as safe, benign, and desirable, work as a propaganda machine for the illicit Vegas sex trade."

"From the ads for escorts on hotel key cards, to the young men out on the streets handing out cards with promises of 'A girl to your room faster than a pizza,' as well as women visibly plying the trade both on the streets and in hotel lobbies, illegal prostitution flourishes in Las Vegas—to the extent that many johns have no idea that the business isn’t legal in Vegas. There is big money to be made there from sex tourism, and as with any illegal activity, there are links with police corruption.... In the [HBO reality] show Cathouse, supposedly a fly-on-the-wall depiction of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, one of Hof’s brothels, the women appear liberated and happy in their work. They tell viewers that this is simply a job like any other; the clients are lovely, and living in a brothel with other women is akin to a permanent pajama party. But my research suggests that life for the women in Nevada brothels bears little resemblance to this rosy picture...."

From "A Ballot on the Brothels of Nevada" (New York Review of Books).

"Was it some rigging of facts? Was it some forgery of facts?... Any false information planted? No. It wasn't."

"They hacked a certain email account and there was information about manipulations conducted within the Democratic Party to incline the process in favor of one candidate. And as far as I know, the entire party leadership resigned. That manipulation is where public opinion should stop, and an apology should be made to the public at large instead of looking for the responsible – the party at fault."

Said Vladimir Putin (in an interview with Chris Wallace).

ADDED: The whole interview:

Nonhuman animals too fall for the "sunk cost" fallacy.

"In a study published on Thursday in the journal Science, investigators at the University of Minnesota reported that mice and rats were just as likely as humans to be influenced by sunk costs" (NYT).
“Whatever is going on in the humans is also going on in the nonhuman animals,” said A. David Redish, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Minnesota and an author of the study....

“Evolution by natural selection would not promote any behavior unless it had some — perhaps obscure — net overall benefit,” said Alex Kacelnik, a professor of behavioral ecology at Oxford, who praised the new study as “rigorous” in its methodology and “well designed.”

“If everybody does it, the reasoning goes, there must be a reason,” Dr. Kacelnik said.
Smart-ass reaction: Scientists have sunk costs in the theory of evolution.

Evolution-centered response: It doesn't matter that individuals suffer and die, only that some reproduced. If individuals realize that it's in their interest to be aware of the "sunk cost" problem as they decide what to do, it might help them live better lives for themselves, individually, but will they have a long line of descendants? The ultimate in a sunk cost is your own progeny.

Ocasio-Cortez disappoints Glenn Greenwald.

"When Newt Gingrich, when Gen. Jack Keane, when Matt Schlapp say the president fell short and made our intelligence apparatus look bad, I think it’s time to pay attention..."

"... and it’s easily correctable from the president’s perspective. Nobody’s perfect, especially [after] 10 intensive days of summits, private meetings, and everything on his plate. But that moment is the one that’s going to stand out unless he comes out and corrects it.”

July 16, 2018

At the No-Photo Cafe...

... you create your own pictures.

"In the entire history of our country, Americans have never seen a president of the United States support an American adversary the way President Trump has supported President Putin."

"A single, ominous question now hangs over the White House: What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump."

Said Chuck Schumer.

"This is a disgraceful moment... The president’s party knows better. I know they do. I served with many of them. America needs them to speak out with clarity and conviction not just in this news cycle, but until there’s common sense governing America’s foreign policy."

Said John Kerry.

"It is tempting to describe the news conference as a pathetic rout — as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world."

Said John McCain.

All quoted in The New York Times, here. Full video and transcript, here, in case you want to search there for the reason for these strong condemnations.

"See ya later, suckas! - The Great Garrett Underpants."

Death notice for a 5-year-old — in his own words.
When I die: I am going to be a gorilla and throw poo at Daddy!

Burned or Buried: I want to be burned (like when Thor’s Mommy died) and made into a tree so I can live in it when I’m a gorilla

Big or Small Funeral: Funerals are sad: I want 5 bouncy houses (because I’m 5), Batman, and snow cones
Via "‘See Ya Later, Suckas!’ The Obituary of a 5-Year-Old Boy in His Own Words" (NYT).

"The perfect house will probably make me sad, and terrified... because… a house is a commitment, you know? You have to take care of it."

"It’s like any beautiful thing you have to maintain and protect. And then you also have to consider who gets it after you’re gone. And so even books and records, which I… books in particular, I have a lot of books that I really love. When I acquire one that I really love it’s difficult for me, because I think about… who does one pass this on to?... As much as I look at houses sometimes and think wow, that would be really nice, if that were my house, I know that I would be miserable. It would be… cleaning out the… the gutters, and you know, what about the pipes freezing, and if you own a home it means you have to vacation in the same place every year. I’m a renter by nature. I like the freedom to change my mind about where I want to be in six months, or a year. Because I’ve also found you might have to make that decision… you can’t always make that decision for yourself, you know… shit happens."

Said Anthony Bourdain, last February, in a long interview conducted by Maria Bustillos, which I was mostly interested in reading because she set it up with a question she wanted to ask:
I decided to ask him about the matter of luxury. Because through his television work—“Parts Unknown” especially—Bourdain showed Americans a different way of thinking not only about food, but about travel and tourism. About looking at ourselves as one part of a larger human story, in stark contrast to the conventional notion of travel: Americans casting themselves as “exceptionalist” democratic superstars in a drama, with the rest of planet Earth as their Tour Guide co-stars, and plenty of violins in the soundtrack.
I'm interested — as you may know — in the critique of travel. I couldn't find much in that interview on that subject, though, and I settled into his contemplation of the opposite of travel: home.

Travel is the negative space that defines home, even as death defines life.

"Elon Musk, insisting he helped in Thai cave rescue, calls actual rescuer a ‘pedo.'"

WaPo reports.
The Silicon Valley engineer and billionaire was briefly seen in Thailand last week, hauling a miniature submarine to the mouth of the cave just before an international dive team rescued the boys without it... ... Musk insisted that his submarine (designed in consultation with “cave experts on the Internet,” he wrote) would have worked. He bragged that he would one day pilot it through the now child-free cave system as proof.

And midway through his rant, for some inexplicable reason, he accused [Vernon] Unsworth of sex crimes. “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it,” Musk wrote, clarifying in a follow-up tweet that he meant “the Brit expat diver” was a pedophile....

“Bet ya a signed dollar it's true,” Musk wrote late Sunday morning, a few hours before he deleted his tweets — too late to avoid yet another deluge of public criticism.
BBC writes that Unsworth is considering suing. I think this is a situation where Unsworth must sue, because the defamation is so severe and so specific that failure to sue leaves a cloud.

It's strange to see this other Elon Musk story in the news at the same time: "Elon Musk draws fire for donating $38,900 to a Republican fundraising committee" (Business Insider).

Watching the Trump + Putin press conference.

Standing by.

"We found that the students who were in the non-air-conditioned buildings actually had slower reaction times: 13 percent lower performance on basic arithmetic tests..."

"... and nearly a 10 percent reduction in the number of correct responses per minute... I think it's a little bit akin to the frog in the boiling water... slow, steady — largely imperceptible — rise in temperature, and you don't realize it's having an impact on you."

Says Joe Allen, co-director of the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University, quoted at NPR, in "Heat Making You Lethargic? Research Shows It Can Slow Your Brain, Too."

My personal intuition is that this study gets it right. Heat does slow the brain.

But I can't believe I have to push back a Harvard scientist about that damned frog-boiling myth. Here's an old post that (eventually) deals with the subject. It's just plain wrong that a frog will allow itself to be boiled to death if the water is heated slowly! The frog notices and jumps out. And maybe that's why heat slows the brain. You notice that you are uncomfortable, and it's distracting.

Secondly, I'm amazed that a climate scientist is producing pro-air-conditioning research and that NPR is passing it along.

"What is the point of arguing with Peter Strzok for ten hours about whether he was biased against Donald Trump?"

"The texts speak for themselves, illustrating beyond cavil that he was biased. In fact, his absurd caviling to the contrary suggests he’d be an easy witness to demolish if a competent examiner had the documentary ammunition. Bias is a dumb thing for Strzok to get uppity about. In 20 years of investigating people, I can’t tell you how many of them I developed a healthy bias against. Bias is a natural human condition. It is something we tend to feel about people who do bad things. There is, and there could be, no requirement that an investigator be impartial about the people he reasonably suspects of crimes. Am I supposed to be impartial about a terrorist? An anti-American spy? A corrupt politician? Seriously? The question is not whether the investigator is biased, but whether bias leads the investigator to do illegal or abusive things. In the case of Strzok and his colleagues, the questions are whether they applied different standards of justice to the two candidates they were investigating; whether, with respect to Trump in particular, they pursued a counterintelligence probe in the stretch-run of an election, premised on the belief that he was a traitor, based on information that was flimsy and unverified. These questions cannot be answered without the documents that explain the origin of the investigation. If the committees are not willing or able to hold government officials in contempt for stonewalling, and President Trump is not willing to order that his subordinates cooperate, it would be better to shut the investigations down than to further abide a farce."

Writes Andrew McCarthy (National Review).

"The irony of being opposed by her own party must weigh on Feinstein...."

"But Feinstein didn’t keep up with the changes in California. Her opponent [Kevin] de León apparently has: He’s running on abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, promoting national health insurance, and impeaching President Trump. Feinstein seemed a little stunned as she watched her party turn on her this past weekend. Feinstein knew that she was vulnerable and shifted left by abandoning her support of the death penalty along with her opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana. But it wasn’t enough. Left-wing activists are demanding that she confront President Trump head-on and help shut down the Senate rather than allow Brett Kavanaugh to be confirmed for the Supreme Court.... Asked why her liberal stances over the course of 50 years in California politics weren’t appreciated, she shrugged: 'Well, that thought occurred to me — but I wiped it out of my mind completely.'"

From "Democrats Are Dumping Moderates" by John Fund (National Review).

Sign of the decline of Twitter?

Or is Maggie Haberman just tired?

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is noways tired...

And, of course, Trump himself is still holding strong...

July 15, 2018



"Turns out America today, in its sense of randomness and meaninglessness and indifference to consequences, is like 'The Great Gatsby.' And like 'Fight Club.' It’s also like 'No Country for Old Men.'"

"It’s even like 'True Detective,' though we don’t learn why," Carlos Lozada complains about the "scattershot in her cultural references" in Michiko Kakutani's new book, "The Death of Truth."

Lozada — in "Can truth survive this president? An honest investigation" (WaPo) — continues:
But she is more focused when exploring the left-wing pedigree of post-truth culture. Even though she laments that objectivity has declined ever since “a solar system of right-wing news sites orbiting around Fox News and Breitbart News consolidated its gravitational hold over the Republican base,” Kakutani calls out lefty academics who for decades preached postmodernism and social constructivism, which argued that truth is not universal but a reflection of relative power, structural forces and personal vantage points. In the early culture wars, centered on literary studies, postmodernists rejected Enlightenment ideals as “vestiges of old patriarchal and imperialist thinking,” Kakutani writes, paving the way for today’s violence against fact in politics and science.

“It’s safe to say that Trump has never plowed through the works of Derrida, Baudrillard, or Lyotard (if he’s even heard of them),” Kakutani sniffs. But while she argues that “postmodernists are hardly to blame for all the free-floating nihilism abroad in the land,” she concedes that “dumbed-down corollaries” of postmodernist thought have been hijacked by Trump’s defenders, who use them to explain away his lies, inconsistencies and broken promises.
Even as Kakutani plows through all that left-wing postmodernism, Lozada plows through 4 more books bemoaning the moribundity of truth.

I'm going to read the Kakutani book. I'm interested in all the cultural references! "Fight Club," "Great Gatsby" — that's right up my alley! And I'm fine with quick jumps that show the author's mind at work. It's what I do, and I'd like to read somebody else doing it.

I wouldn't use the adjective "scattershot," because I feel the references are coming at me, and I don't feel as though I'm being shot at, but as if various ideas are being thrown my way, and I'll see what I can catch, that is, what seems right to me. I know that sounds, ironically, like a reinforcement of the thesis that we're living in a post-truth world. But, no. Not really.

Trey Gowdy on the Strzok hearing: "Public hearings are a circus... I mean it's a freak show."

"I mean the private interviews are much more constructive. But I would also say this — I mean put yourself in President Trump's shoes for just a second. Jim Comey thought that impeachment was too good for you. John Brennan says you should be in the dustbin of history. Those are not insignificant people, one headed the FBI the other headed the CIA when you were under investigation. The lead FBI agent said that you would be destabilizing for the country and promise to stop your candidacy. I mean, Margaret if you were being investigated by people who had that level of bias and animus against you I think you would be concerned as well. What I would tell the president is no American has been indicted for conspiring to hack the DNC but Russia did attack us...."

On "Face the Nation" this morning.

ADDED: I chose to blog this quote because "It's a freak show" felt so close to what I thought when I watched the hearings. As I blogged on the 13th: It was "some of the most ridiculous political theater I've ever seen."

"[Sacha Baron] Cohen is still an undisputed genius at punking... But if 'Who Is America?' is worth any praise, then what are we to say about the techniques of Project Veritas..."

"... the conservative, undercover operation that has tried to infiltrate and expose liberal bias among news organizations and community organizers? What Cohen does is not all that different... To giggle at and delight in Cohen’s pranks is to believe that you can have it both ways: that you can be horrified at the collapse of truth and democracy, and then laugh at a guy who seeks to undermine whatever remains of trust. As watchably galling as Cohen’s techniques may be, America in 2018 doesn’t really seem like the right time or place for it."

From "Sacha Baron Cohen still knows how to punk America, but his new show erodes what little trust we have left" by Hank Stuever (WaPo).

I'm giving this my "Era of That's Not Funny" tag.

By the way, the commenters at WaPo are strongly resisting the comparison of this comedy show to the Project Veritas sting operations. The key argument is that Cohen presents his footage as a network comedy show. He just wants laughs. Project Veritas presents its footage as internet video, for the purpose of affecting real-world policy. But (I would add) there is a side effect of humor in some of the Project Veritas video, and Sacha Baron Cohen does have a political viewpoint and does intend to undermine the power of the politicians he targets.

No one — not Stuever or his commenters — mentions "The Daily Show." A few years ago, we continually heard the observation that Americans are getting their news from that comedy show. A satire was the primary source of factual information and opinion spin. The line between showbiz and journalism was blurred long ago. I mean, look at how the WaPo commenters are willing to call Project Veritas "journalism"! It used to be critiqued as not journalism at all, as if it really were more of a comedy show.

The line between seriousness and comedy — between journalism and entertainment — is just completely blurred now. The idea that it should be sharpened up... is that some kind of joke? I couldn't tell you, because the line between joking and sobriety is gone.

"Angela Hernandez, 23, survived by drinking water from the radiator of her wrecked jeep" which had plunged 200 feet off a cliff in Big Sur.

It took a week before some hikers noticed her car, partly submerged in the waters below the cliff. Hernandez said she'd "swerved to avoid hitting an animal on Highway 1."

BBC reports.

I wonder what animal? The common land-based mammals in Big Sur are:
Black Bear, Black-tailed Mule Deer, Bobcat, Coyote, Gray Fox, Gray Squirrel... Mountain Lion, Raccoon, Opossum... Skunk, Wild Boar
Driving on that highway, with a 200 foot fall to one side of  you, wouldn't you grip the steering wheel with steely resolve? What animals could shake your attention suddenly and severely enough to cause you to hurtle over the precipice?  I'm certain I would go right through the squirrel, raccoon, opossum, and skunk.

But we do know what kind of car — a Jeep. Hooray for the Jeep!

UPDATE: You don't survive by drinking water from the radiator, as many commenters pointed out. The text, which I cut and pasted from the BBC website, has now been changed.

Limited dance moves.

I've got to get around at long last to showing you this Yale News article, "A sports junkie who ate pasta with ketchup: Law school friends reflect on Kavanaugh’s time at YLS." My favorite part:
Kavanaugh was a “bland eater,” his roommate explained, who never ate his pasta with anything more exotic than tomato sauce or ketchup on top. At visits to Yorkside Pizza following late nights at Toad’s Place — the friends did not go often, Christmas said, as Kavanaugh had “limited dance moves” — the judge’s pizza had to be plain cheese, or sometimes just pepperoni.
A limited diet has been a mark of distinction for admired Justices: "John Stevens... was usually seen eating a plain cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off... Justice David Souter [ate] plain yogurt and the occasional apple."

But limited dance moves?! That's not good enough. Check this out:

In "Warren is Preparing for 2020. So Are Biden, Booker, Harris and Sanders," the NYT seems bent on boosting optimism for Democrats.

But it's a ghastly failure:
Ms. Warren, 69, now leads a small advance guard of Democrats who appear to be moving deliberately toward challenging President Trump. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., wielding a political network cultivated over decades, has been reasserting himself as a party leader, while Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California have emerged as fresher-faced messengers for the midterms. And Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the runner-up in the 2016 primaries, has been acting like a candidate as he considers another race.

All five have been traveling the country, raising money for Democrats and gauging the appeal of their personalities and favorite themes. As a group, they are a strikingly heterogeneous array of rivals for Mr. Trump, embodying the Democratic Party’s options for defining itself: They are distinguished by gender and race, span three decades in age and traverse the ideological and tonal spectrum between combative Democratic socialism and consensus-minded incrementalism.
I chose my adjective "ghastly" when I read the ludicrously overachieving prose "traverse the ideological and tonal spectrum between combative Democratic socialism and consensus-minded incrementalism." I picture a feeble, fading liberal reading those words and clinging to the precious remnant of belief we are the smart people.

"[T]he King of Greece... was sober and I was not and I was giving him a tour of my place, showing him old Greek photographs of my grandfather who was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and also Prime Minister."

"They are old and yellowed, but the King recognized most of the players. When one particular name came up I used the F-word and apologized immediately. 'Do you know the etymology of the word fuck?' asked the King. I did not. 'It is an acronym for Fornication Under Consent of the King,' said my King. Another pearl, but he could have been pulling my leg, which unfortunately is not a hollow one."

I'm catching up on the oeuvre of Taki Theodoracopulos, a propos of the first post of the day. That pearl is from 2014, "A Click-Happy Hell on Earth" ("I’ve been thinking of the drunken old good times while watching young people socializing online, constantly messaging in a dizzying pace, never looking around... One hears junk talk about things they like or dislike, mostly about fashion, cars, and jewels, never about how we lived and what we were like, only about the glittering dystopian world of the present").

"You were born rich and privileged and you were handsome. I was born poor, ugly, Jewish and had to fight all my life to get somewhere."

"You got lotsa girls, no girl looked at me until I made it big in Hollywood. Yes, I did offer them acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so did and still does everyone. But I never, ever forced myself on a single woman."

Said Harvey Weinstein to Taki Theodoracopulos, quoted in "Harvey Weinstein: ‘I offered acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so does everyone – they still do’/The disgraced movie producer reached out to Taki with a ‘world exclusive’ about Rose McGowan and Asia Argento" (Spectator USA).

Taki adds:
Call me naïve or stupid, but in a funny way I believe him. I’ve seen Harvey in action during my annual Christmas party, the one I throw every year in New York with Michael Mailer. He hits on every young woman but in a naïve way. “Will you give me your address and I’ll make you a star,” is the theme of the pickup. Some say yes, some say no. His reaction was always the same. Smile and laugh and hit on the next one.
This got me thinking about something the Superman actor Henry Cavill said — and got in trouble for saying — in his recent GQ interview. He was asked what he's learned from the #MeToo movement:
Have the revelations made you reflect on your own behaviour with women? “I like to think that I’ve never been like that. I think any human being alive today, if someone casts too harsh a light on anything, you could be like, ‘Well, OK, yeah, when you say it like that, maybe.’ But it’s such a delicate and careful thing to say because there’s flirting which, for example, in a social environment is in context – and is acceptable. And that has been done to me as well, in return. Stuff has to change, absolutely,” he adds, addressing men’s behaviour. “It’s important to also retain the good things, which were a quality of the past, and get rid of the bad things. There’s something wonderful about a man chasing a woman. There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice. I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I’m old-fashioned for thinking that. It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something’. So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked’. But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen? Now? Now you really can’t pursue someone further than, ‘No’. It’s like, ‘OK, cool’. But then there’s the, ‘Oh why’d you give up?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, because I didn’t want to go to jail?’"
By the way, Cavill is extremely good looking, and it's hard to understand what he's talking about, what elaborate conversational moves he's worried about figuring out. There's "hi." He wouldn't even have to dangle the "make you a star" prospect. Access to sex with Cavill is the end in itself.  What "chase" did he ever have to undertake? Now, Harvey Weinstein... he is and always was — as he knows and admits — ugly. Sex with Harvey would always only be a means to an end.

I like the name "Cavill." It's a verb — "cavil." It means "make petty or unnecessary objections."

July 14, 2018

At the Hold True Café...


... you can handle the truth.

This is an open thread, but the photo makes me want to link to this book excerpt I read earlier today: "The death of truth: how we gave up on facts and ended up with Trump/From post-modernism to filter bubbles, ‘truth decay’ has been spreading for decades. How can we stop alternative facts from bringing down democracy, asks Michiko Kakutani" (The Guardian).

Quora's qwazy notion of what counts as a related question.

"How did the bathhouse in Spirited Away..."

"... have electricity when they're in the Spirit Realm?" is presented as related to "Does it count as rape if you have sex with your spouse while they're asleep?"

(Click to enlarge.)

ADDED: What's genuinely eerie is that I'm in the middle reading a novel — by a Japanese writer — where there's a very important theme of whether it is a sort of rape to have sex with a person inside of your dream (≈ in the spirit world). The book is "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" by Haruki Murakami (and the next paragraph contains a major spoiler):
As he listened to the rain drum against the window, with these thoughts swirling around in his head, his room began to feel like an alien space. As if the room itself had developed its own will. Just being in there steadily drained away any ability to distinguish the real from the unreal. On one plane of reality, he’d never even touched Shiro’s hand. Yet on another, he’d brutally raped her. Which reality had he stepped into now? The more he thought about it, the less certain he became.
AND: When the Murakami book came out, in 2014, it was reviewed in the NYT by Patti Smith:
This is a book for both the new and experienced reader. It has a strange casualness, as if it unfolded as Murakami wrote it; at times, it seems like a prequel to a whole other narrative. The feel is uneven, the dialogue somewhat stilted, either by design or flawed in translation. Yet there are moments of epiphany gracefully expressed, especially in regard to how people affect one another. “One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone,” Tsukuru comes to understand. “They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss.” The book reveals another side of Murakami, one not so easy to pin down. Incurably restive, ambiguous and valiantly struggling toward a new level of maturation. A shedding of Murakami skin. It is not “Blonde on Blonde,” it is “Blood on the Tracks.”


Meade sent me that link. My response was "Almost Broxtonesque" (referring to this, from a couple weeks ago).

I'm so tired of the anti-Trump things in my Facebook feed.

I know I should have resisted and all my "friends" will see me as jerk, but I couldn't stop myself from responding to 2 things on Facebook just now. I won't reveal who put up these items, just my own response:

1. "Trump Told Russia To Get Clinton’s Emails. The Same Day, They Obeyed./A new indictment from Robert Mueller reveals that Russia appeared to be listening to what Trump wanted" in The Huffington Post. My response:
If Trump were colluding, why would he flaunt his involvement? The more apt inference is that the Russians wanted to make it look like they were taking orders from him and chose this moment, because it would be so weird it would agitate media like HuffPo to generate this theory.
2. A photojournalist's image of the Trump-as-a-diapered-baby balloon framed alongside a bronze statue of Winston Churchill. My response:
To get a fair comparison, show me how Trump is depicted 75 years in the future. Or recreate Churchill today, have him begin to enter politics, and show me how he would be regarded.
I include a link to an article in the UK Independent, "Winston Churchill 'would not become Prime Minister today because his speaking style would be mocked'/Romola Garai, who stars in new ITV drama about the politician, says his eccentricities would rule him out in the modern era." From that article, quoting Garai (who played Churchill's nurse):
“Churchill would not get elected today. His speech was very peculiar, quite mumbled in some ways.... Churchill was very idiosyncratic in the way he spoke. Today public speaking has become so monotone and peculiarity is something that rolling news is very afraid of... It’s easy to pinpoint anybody’s idiosyncracies now, which I think is a terrible shame. Because some of the great orators were very individual in the way they spoke."
The article was from February 2016, when — here in the United States — "SNL" hadn't yet brought in Alec Baldwin to do the Trump impersonation. They relied on — do you even remember? — Taram Killam (and Daryl Hammond) and — Trump's victory was so impossible — even let the real Donald Trump host the show and goof around with Killam and Hammond:

Ha ha ha. What a joke. Trump is President now, and I'm just going to guess he'll be a bronze statue in 75 years.

"In nearly every case, there is a better, more precise way to describe a current political phenomenon than the word 'populist.'"

"It just requires thought, or even the effort to get out to the heartland and talk to people. When I’ve done that I’ve generally found Trump supporters to be agents rather than victims. They’ve not been seduced by 'populism.' They are not 'populists.' They have few illusions about the president. They think he’s a loose cannon, needy, narcissistic, erratic. They like the way he’s an outsider and 'tells it like it is.' They wanted disruption of what they saw as a rigged system; he delivers it, daily. Jan-Werner Muller, professor of politics at Princeton University, has written in The Guardian, 'The profile of supporters of populism obviously matters, but it is patronizing to reduce all they think and say to resentment, and explain the entire phenomenon as an inarticulate political expression of the Trumpenproletariat and its European equivalents.' For me, the key word here is 'patronizing.' Liberal contempt is rampant."

From "It’s Time to Depopularize ‘Populist’" by Roger Cohen (NYT).

I selected the quote you see above, but now I'm reading the comments at the NYT, and they seem to be fixated on something else:
It’s critical to distinguish between a nationalist xenophobe and a reasonable voter who has made the plausible choice that Trump was a better option than other candidates....
They're all "PLAUSIBLE!!!!?!!"

"The president and first lady appeared not to have followed long-running protocol in which a bow or curtsy is customary."

"Moreover, Mr. Trump seemed to walk in front of the queen, and not quite alongside her, prompting Twitter critics to call his motions awkward and even rude. Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, said Mrs. Trump was briefed on royal protocol before the visit, but it was unclear if the president, who eschews briefings, received similar guidance. In other ways, the Trumps avoided breaching protocol. Touching a royal can make headlines, as Michelle Obama did when she placed her hand on the queen’s back in 2009. Then there was the time, in 1977, when Jimmy Carter kissed the queen’s mother — on the lips, no less."

From "From Truman to Trump, Queen Elizabeth Has Met 12 U.S. Presidents," in which the NYT is actually quite mild toward Trump. I noticed, "Even for a monarch who has encountered her fair share of presidents, Mr. Trump is probably the most disruptive American leader she has met." Probably??? Who's the competition? Trump is also the most disruptive President including the ones QE has not met. He's Disruptiveness Personified.

Here's the video of the Queen's slapstick approach to walking with Trump:

What the hell is she doing?! He's walking slowly and normally. She's being weird. I think it has to do with Scotland (the homeland of Trump's mother).

By the way, have you seen these intensely gorgeous new movie posters?

"The boy was given what Thai and American participants described variously as a muscle relaxant or anti-anxiety medication."

"A panic attack in a chokepoint no bigger than a manhole would almost certainly be fatal. Finally, the boy was swaddled in a flexible plastic stretcher — akin to a tortilla wrap, Hodges said — to confine his limbs and protect him from the cheese-grater walls. And then, with his teammates watching, they pulled him under the murky water. The original plan had called for two divers — one in front of the stretcher, one behind. But that configuration was scrapped as too bulky for the shoulder-width passages and elbow turns.... Instead, a diver kept the swaddled boy in a body-to-body clinch for as much of the swim as possible, the officer said, handing the boy over to a fresh diver after his designated stretch. Keeping the child warm was critical.... The worst portion of the swim was the last one, a deep tubular swoop that held the water like a sink trap. All told, it was a grueling two-hour trek through muck-filled passages. 'It is crawling through mud and underwater tunnels, and you can’t see your hands,” said Erik Brown, a Canadian diver who was among the 18'..."

I'm reading the very detailed, well-written WaPo article "‘Time is running out’: Inside the treacherous rescue of boys trapped in a Thai cave."

I wanted to quote that particular part because it shows the ludicrous wrongness of the BBC graphic I called "excellent":

Democrats who introduced abolish-ICE legislation, surprised by Paul Ryan's plan to bring it to the House floor, now say they will vote against their own bill.

The Hill reports.
A group of Democrats who introduced legislation to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they will vote against the measure if GOP leadership follows through with their vow to bring it to the House floor.

Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) released a statement Thursday accusing GOP leaders of exploiting the legislation for political gain after leadership confirmed it planned to hold a vote.
It takes one to know one, I smile.

By the way... Pocan is my Congressman.

ADDED: This story is the perfect illustration of the phrase "It's all politics."

"The abandonment of a newborn for being a transgender has shocked doctors here. Later, it was found..."

"... that the baby was suffering from a genetic disease. On June 30, the parents of abandoned the infant at Shishu Grah at Gandhi Nagar with a letter that the baby was a transgender and fearing social boycott they were abandoning the baby. Shishu Grah admitted the baby to JK Lone Hospital with an infection and the baby was discharged on July 5 with a discharge ticket mentioning the sex as male. The discharge slip mentioned the sex as male as the baby’s sexual organs were not properly developed. Later, when it was revealed that the infant was a transgender, the baby was admitted again to the hospital on July 7 for further investigation to determine the sex. Necessary investigations revealed that the baby was a girl. The infant, however, passed away on July 9 due to congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) in which sodium and sugar fall and potassium increases in the body."

Reports the Hindustan Times.

ADDED: Here's the Wikipedia article on congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Excerpt:
Currently, in the United States and over 40 other countries, every child born is screened for 21-hydroxylaase CAH at birth. This test will detect elevated levels of 17-hydroxy-progesterone (17-OHP). Detecting high levels of 17-OHP enables early detection of CAH. Newborns detected early enough can be placed on medication and live a relatively normal life....

The treatment has...  raised concerns in LGBT and bioethics communities following publication of an essay posted to the forum of the Hastings Center, and research in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, which found that pre-natal treatment of female fetuses was suggested to prevent those fetuses from becoming lesbians after birth, may make them more likely to engage in "traditionally" female-identified behaviour and careers, and more interested in bearing and raising children....

Scarlett Johansson shrinks from criticism and backs out of playing the role of a transgender man.

She/her people wrote a statement: "In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive...."

Etc. etc. Her initial response to critics, what she now needs to represent herself as "realizing" was "insensitive" was: "Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment." In other words, lots of cisgender actors have not only played transgender characters, they've received high honors — an Oscar for Leto, an Oscar nomination for Huffman, an Emmy for Tambor. It must have seemed to Scarlett that she'd get extra credit for stretching herself into this role.

But that's not where the culture is right now, Scarlett learned. As Hollywood Reporter reports, there are actors who are themselves transgender, and no one seems interested in giving them an opportunity to stretch and show that they can play cisgender characters:
... Transparent actress Trace Lysette, tweet[ed], "I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess."
The argument seems to be that at least all transgender roles should go to transgender actors. It's an interesting argument and it was effective, but it was only effective in scaring cisgender actors off of any transgender role. What will be the result of that victory? Will the transgender actors get what they want? The big goal is to get access to cisgender roles, to make it seem bigoted to exclude them. Obviously, there's the question what audiences will want to see.

A similar question is whether people have accepted gay actors playing straight characters. I'm looking at "Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters" and noticing that many of the roles are straight people with characteristics stereotypically assigned to gay people — "Jim Parsons has played several socially awkward heterosexual characters, including Sheldon Cooper on 'The Big Bang Theory'... Jane Lynch on "Glee" (playing a high school coach).

Quite aside from the goal of getting access to cisgender roles, there's the question whether there will be support and enthusiasm for movies about transgender characters if the actor isn't tasked with pretending to be transgender. There's no impressive stunt to perform. Maybe there will be more movies where some characters happen to be transgender without that needing to be the whole story. There could be an argument like what we've seen from black actors for many decades: It's wrong to limit us to stories about black people. Almost any role should be playable by a black actor.

In that light, Scarlett Johansson found herself in a position like that of the last white person cast to play Othello. Yes, there was a long tradition of eminent actors playing Othello, and maybe some day, black actors will get so many roles that it will be fine to have another white actor as Othello, but right now, we're in transition.