January 27, 2018

"If a country’s prevailing temperament is one of congenital, chronic emotional constipation, how would its inhabitants even recognize that they’re lonely in the first place?"

"The appointment seems to address an ill that Britain can barely admit it is suffering from, as if the United States government were to install a Secretary of Humility. Of course, the more serious commentary would go on to explain, loneliness is a real and diagnosable scourge...."

From "What Britain’s 'Minister of Loneliness' Says About Brexit and the Legacy of Jo Cox" by Rebecca Mead (New Yorker)("Jo Cox... a Labour M.P., had been a vocal advocate of remaining in the European Union; her killer, a local man in his fifties named Thomas Mair who was later discovered to have neo-Nazi sympathies, was heard to cry 'Britain first' as he stabbed and shot her").

"In Japan you can pay to have a handsome man bring you to tears... then dry the tears from your cheeks."

At the Tree Shadow Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please consider using The Althouse Portal if you're shopping at Amazon.)

"I like to build a snow cave, fill it with candlelight and drink a bottle of red wine with my friends. We go outside and smell the snow."

"I live in a small village by the ocean with 300 inhabitants, mostly fishermen and old people. There are also three moose and two eagles who have joined us. I see lots of fish, birds and wildlife just outside my window. It’s a good substitute for the darkness, which does affect your mood."

Writes Gunda Hackbarth of Helnessund, Norway, one of many people quoted in "Snapshots From a Land of Endless Night/Readers describe the thrills and challenges of wintertime in the Far North." (NYT).

And here's Frank Stelges from 25 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska:
You still do a lot of things in the dark and my forehead carries the permanent imprint of my headlamp. I spend nearly the whole day outside chopping firewood for our house (we live off the grid), maintaining trails, plowing, going on walks with our dogs, snowshoeing, skiing, winter biking. It’s just great.
And: "We have a saying here in Norway: 'There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.'"

"Remember, Trump's broader stated goal is 'merit-based' immigration. His new 'DACA deal' is just that."

"He brings the illegals out of the shadows by registering them. They screw up once, they're gone. He just added a 'merit-based' filter to illegal immigration. Smart."

Tweets Bill Mitchell, quoted in American Thinker (via Instapundit).

The Big Questions.

"And let me just say, this is directed to the activist bitches supporting bitches."

It's not clear when this video was made, but it's all over my Twitter feed right now — perhaps as an accusation of hypocrisy in light of the Burns Strider story in the news yesterday.

"Fire and Fury" Michael Wolff author got people speculating that Donald Trump was having an affair with Nikki Haley.

Politico explains how this brilliant attention-getter did his slimy work:
[Wolff] dropped hints on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week when he said he was “absolutely sure” Trump is having an affair — just not sure enough to write about it in his book. Wolff went on to say that discriminating readers would be able to determine the president's paramour by giving his book a close reading: “Now that I've told you, when you hit that paragraph, you're gonna say, 'Bingo.'”
I love the way you have to buy his damned book and even read it — read every paragraph with an eye toward SEX!!! — to find the name he made you believe was there. And when you find it, you're gonna say "bingo!"
Readers quickly homed in on a single sentence in the runaway best-seller, which has been criticized for everything from sloppy copy editing to gross factual inaccuracies. Wolff writes, “The president had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future.”
Did these readers say "bingo!"?

It got bad enough that Haley actually responded:
“It is absolutely not true... I have literally been on Air Force One once and there were several people in the room when I was there... He says that I’ve been talking a lot with the president in the Oval about my political future. I’ve never talked once to the president about my future and I am never alone with him. So the idea that these things come out, that’s a problem... But it goes to a bigger issue that we need to always be conscious of: At every point in my life, I’ve noticed that if you speak your mind and you’re strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that and the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows, lies or not.” 

"We Shall Overcome" is now in the public domain.

Changing "will" to "shall" was insufficiently original to turn the old spiritual into a new, copyrightable song, the federal judge ruled last September. How much money did Pete Seeger et al. rake in royalties before two film documentarians balked at paying "as much as $100,000 to use it in several critical scenes" and sued? But maybe that one judge is wrong, an more litigation would vindicate the copyright holder.  The case is now settled, we're told (NYT), seemingly because the royalties were less than the lawsuit was costing.

The erstwhile copyright holder seeks credit for having donated the royalties all these years to something called the "We Shall Overcome Fund" and for having “carefully vetted” the uses of the song. It warns us that now the song can be used “in any manner they wish, including inaccurate historical uses, commercials, parodies, spoofs and jokes, and even for political purposes by those who oppose civil rights for all Americans.”

That's called free speech. And the use of the song in parodies, spoofs, and jokes would should already have been permitted as a matter of fair use and freedom of speech — though not (until now) without a fear of litigation.

By the way, what is the good reason for changing "We will overcome" to "We shall overcome"? I can't think of one.

IN THE COMMENTS: Unknown tries to answer my question:
Shall has a softer feel and implies it will take longer and require perseverance?"
I say:
I thought of this and considered it not a "good reason."

I think "will" suggests that the people singing the words have a will and are ready to act to get what they want.

"Shall" suggests that they are passively waiting for the predicted future to arrive. I guess it's expressive of the nonviolence theme that helped white people feel the feelings that were necessary to achieve the desired results.

Don't say: I want something and I'm going to take it. Say: I believe that you will perceive that I deserve this and give it to me.
I can't remember where I originally read this example but picture a drowning man saying: "I will die, no one shall save me" or "I shall die, no one will save me." The first sentence is properly understood as the words of a man intentionally drowning himself and warning off would-be rescuers. He's informing us that he's committing suicide. The second sentence expresses despair over accidental drowning and the absence of a rescuer. I think there are old jokes based on this distinction, in which a member of a supposedly uneducated ethnic group is allowed to drown because he didn't know the proper shall/will distinction.

"Live to the fullest and don’t be just a lonely 'frog-raising youth,'" the Communist Party of China advised because....

... so many people in China are fond of the Japanese game app Tabi Kaeru — Travel Frog — in which you gather clover for a cute cartoon frog who leaves but eventually returns with photos and mementos from some trip. The NYT reports that the game is very easy:
"You don’t need to do a lot of things, you don’t even need to think about anything,” said Yu Ting, a 28-year-old accountant in the northeastern city of Tianjin. “It’s not a competitive game, so it’s very relaxing.”

The game also has a strong connection to child rearing. Before the frog leaves on a trip, you have to pack its lunch. And in Chinese, the word for “frog,” wa, is a homophone for a word for “baby.”

“My friends and I all call the frogs our ‘frog sons,’ ” said Gao Lang, 22, a graduate student in Beijing. “After raising this frog, I suddenly understand the feeling of being a parent, at least partly. And I think when I am traveling somewhere far in the future, I will try to send some photos to my parents.”

January 26, 2018

The death of The Girl from North Country.

Echo Helstrom.

“Everybody said she looked like Brigitte Bardot, and she did.”

"A senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request..."

"... according to four people familiar with what took place," the NYT reports.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job.

Mr. Strider, who was Mrs. Clinton’s faith adviser, a co-founder of the American Values Network, and sent the candidate scripture readings every morning for months during the campaign, was hired five years later to lead an independent group that supported Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Correct the Record, which was created by a close Clinton ally, David Brock.

He was fired after several months for workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to Correct the Record’s management....

The woman’s experience and the reaction to it have not been previously reported. Until now, former Clinton associates were unwilling to discuss the events for publication.

But that changed in the wake of the #MeToo movement...
These people never cared at all. They're just afraid now that The Reckoning is closing in. It's too late to not be complicit. Hillary Clinton has zero credibility on the issue of sexual harassment. And the Democratic Party that pushed her on us as its candidate has basically no credibility either.

Trump adopts Governor Scott Walker's line: "Wisconsin is open for business" becomes "America is open for business."

From Scott Walker's first inaugural address in 2011:
And as your Governor, I make this pledge: Wisconsin is open for business. We will work tirelessly to restore economic growth and vibrancy to our state. My top three priorities are jobs, jobs, and jobs....

Our first step is to rebuild Wisconsin's economy. And how will we do that? We open Wisconsin for business....

To begin our transformation, we will work with our legislative partners - in both political parties - to pass a series of bold reforms that will send a clear message: "Wisconsin is open for business."
From Trump's Davos speech today:
The world is witnessing the resurgence of a strong and prosperous America. I'm here to deliver a simple message. There has never been a better time to hire, to build, to invest and to grow in the united States. America is open for business and we are competitive once again. The American economy is by far the largest in the world and we've just enacted the most significant tax cuts and reform in American history. We've massively cut taxes for the middle class, and small businesses to let working families keep more of their hard earned money.
I thought Trump gave a great speech, and I'm not saying he plagiarized. I just want to shine a little credit on Scott Walker.

ADDED: "[V]ariations on the phrase have been used by politicians and states — including New Jersey, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia — to describe their own pro-business policies for at least two decades."

New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman, 1994: "We will be competitive. No more losing our employers to job raids by low-tax states. New Jersey is open for business."

Texas, Rick Perry, 2010:

West Virginia, reported in 2006: "Last year, Gov. Joe Manchin III began changing a slogan on some state highway signs from 'Wild and Wonderful' to 'Open for Business.'"

And the winner is George Allen, who said "Southwest Virginia is open for business" in 1997. Remember George Allen? Speaking of rhetoric: He lost in the governorship after saying something wrong:
The pivotal moment in the campaign, and the one that the vast majority of political observers attribute Allen's stunning upset loss to [Jim] Webb, came on August 11, 2006, at a campaign stop in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, where Allen twice used the racist slur "macaca" (meaning 'monkey') to refer to the dark-complexioned S. R. Sidarth, who was filming the event as a "tracker" for the opposing Jim Webb campaign. In what was dubbed as his "Macaca moment”, Allen said:
"This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent... Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
Before that happened, people thought of George Allen as a potential President of the United States. Now, who thinks of him at all?

Speaking of "dreamers" — here's what some people have been dreaming about Trump.

This comes from The Nation, so these are not people who love Trump (unless it's a secret, unacknowledged love (you decide!)):

I haven't remembered a dream about Trump in a long time, but back on August 3, 2015, long before I had any idea he'd become President, I blogged about a dream in which I was talking about Trump, then saw that he was there listening in on me. But I had another dream about Trump. I'm not sure when I had it, but I told you about it on May 9, 2016 (because I was blogging someone's saying that Trump had succeeded by being "vulgar, abusive, nasty, rude, boorish and outrageous," and "saying what he thinks and, more important, teaching Americans how to think for themselves again"):
I had a dream about Trump a while back. It may have been part of this dream I told you about on August 3, 2015. This part of the dream isn't in that description, but it's the part I've remembered and thought about over these past 8 months: I thanked him, effusively, for teaching us to have the courage to speak freely.
What I didn't tell you even then was that I hugged Trump as I thanked him effusively. At the time I had that dream I wasn't consciously aware of liking Trump at all, so the dream made a big impression on me. There was something about Trump that I thought was tremendously helpful, and I really wanted to tell him.

The point when Trump evokes warm laughter from the Davos crowd.

I recorded this clip, which came during the question session after the speech. The interviewer (the head of the World Economic Forum) had asked him what in his background prepared him for his current role. Trump had 2 points. The first was that he was a businessman, which was good because we've always just had politicians and military generals as presidents. The second was this:

ADDED: There are 2 laugh reactions in that little clip. On the second one, you might think you're hearing some booing mixed in. I've listened a few times, and to me, it sounds more like an "ooh" that acknowledges the boldness of attacking the press right to their face.

AND: Here's the whole speech and question answering:

Obama — speaking at the Temple Emanu-El in NYC — says he's "basically a liberal Jew."

Is that cultural appropriation? It seems fine to me. I'm just asking because I've been following the culture of sensitivity to "cultural appropriation," and I need to put this post up, with the tag, because this is how I keep my notes these days.

By the way, Obama looks fabulous in the pictures. Relaxed, happy — as he usually looks, but amped up a couple notches now.

ADDED: Is Obama all things to all people? And, by the way, where does that phrase come from? It comes from the Apostle Paul:
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

"The Quiet Radicalism of Melania Trump" — a NYT op-ed gets savaged in the comments.

This column is written by Kate Andersen Brower, a CNN contributor who wrote a book about First Ladies (“First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies”).

What's Melania's "quiet radicalism"? She's not making the usual public show of supporting her husband — like Lady Bird Johnson, Nancy Reagan, and Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Trump is the most reluctant first lady since Bess Truman (who left Washington to return to her home in Independence, Mo., at every opportunity). Her apparent antipathy toward the job has made her more willing to ignore the rules and traditions that govern it. This quiet rebellion started with her decision not to move into the White House until five months after her husband took office. It gathered force when she swatted her husband’s hand away on an airport tarmac in Israel last year. By the time the Trumps leave the White House, Mrs. Trump may have done more to change our notions about this archaic position, which has no job description and no pay, and comes with impossible expectations, than most of her predecessors.
Samples from very highly rated comments:

"Oh please. Feeble attempt to turn someone's apparent passivity, apathy, and reluctance to engage with her countrypeople into something mysterious and possibly noble. If she had any dignity, we might have seen her putting a modicum of effort into her anti-bullying initiative. Or at the very least, giving us a single photo op in which she doesn't look like a pinup. Her aura is of a kept woman, the quintessential arm candy, so applying the word radical to her is a far stretch. And calling her circumstances more extreme or complex than any other first lady's relationship with her husband is another creative writing exercise. This whole thing is wishful thinking for sure. Go ahead, surprise us, Melanie."

"Oh, please! Still waters? I think not. Vain and shallow, with a permanent model’s pout....and a closet full of Louboutin heels. Bored and boring. Nothing there."

"Ummm. What? This is a woman who went out of her way to marry money. Obnoxious, rude, self-obsessed and disagreeable money. Whether she was set up with the Donald as part of kompromat way back when, or not, who knows? But there is nothing radical about aiming for a career as a high-maintenance wife. She may now be trapped in a marriage she dislikes, and one feels sympathy for any woman around Donald, but radical is the last word that would apply to Melania. The body language between this power couple makes that of the last days of Diana and Charles look positively cuddly..."

"She could divorce him. Now that would take real guts to do."

Trump at Davos — not as hated and hateful as hoped.

When Trump first announced that he was going to Davos, the NYT ran commentary that seemed to predict and hope for failure:
It’s hard to imagine an audience less receptive to Mr. Trump’s "America First" agenda.... His threats to raise barriers to the movement of goods and people, his rejection of the Paris climate change accord and his belligerence toward North Korea have convinced the gathering’s wealthy and mostly liberal delegates that the United States is giving up on global leadership. Indeed, this year’s Davos theme — "Creating a shared future in a fractured world" — seems an attempt to mitigate Mr. Trump’s influence.
How did the NYT react when Obama went to Davos? Trick question: Obama never attended. But that's a reason to attack not Obama but his antagonists: "Imagine the vitriol that Barack Obama would have endured at home if he had put in an appearance."

Now that Trump is in Davos and things don't seem to be ugly, I search the front page — past reports that Trump "ordered" the firing of Robert Muller ("fake news," per Trump) — and find "Trump and Davos: Not Exactly Best Friends, but Not Enemies Either."
As the executives tucked into grilled beef tenderloin or fried Swiss pikeperch with purple carrot purée, Mr. Trump flattered them as “some of the greatest business leaders in the world” and invited them to talk about their businesses, much as he does at cabinet meetings back home. Like his cabinet secretaries, many of the guests volunteered praise of the president and gratitude for his efforts to cut taxes and regulation.....

“I found him to be a different person from his public persona,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan said at a breakfast on Thursday, recalling their encounter at the United Nations, while putting aside Mr. Trump’s threat this month to suspend most security aid because of what he called Pakistan’s “lies and deceit” in dealing with terrorism. “He is a very warm person and he engaged me.”...

January 25, 2018

"Is Indianapolis Cool Enough for Amazon? It Just Might Be."

Asks the NYT about one of the 20 cities in the running for Amazon's second headquarters.
One area where Indianapolis stands out also happens to be one of Amazon’s top priorities, according to its proposal: “A stable and business-friendly environment and tax structure.”...

[Bob Stutz, chief executive of Salesforce.com’s Marketing Cloud, which is based in Indianapolis] lived in Austin, Tex. (another Amazon finalist), before moving to Seattle, and watched its evolution from sleepy state capital to technology hub and hip cultural magnet. “Austin was never a cool place,” he said. “Now it’s a hotbed of cool. Indianapolis isn’t quite there yet, but I see a lot of similarities.”

Last year Bon Appétit magazine devoted a feature to the “Brooklynization of Indy” that focused on the city’s explosion of craft breweries, artisanal bakeries and farm-to-table restaurants.... Of the 20 finalist cities, Indianapolis has the least traffic congestion and the lowest average home prices....
I hope Indianapolis wins! It's the crossroads of America! It has room to grow, and you, Amazon, can be part of making that happen. You can really contribute, instead of adding to the traffic/housing insanity of places like Austin and Boston.

20 minutes of movie trailers — yes, I went to the movies — left me feeling utterly creeped out by Hollywood.

This is what I was forced to look at before getting to see what I'd paid to see (and which ended up putting me in the worst mood for seeing what I'd come to see):

Notice how they all have strong female characters at the center but everything is paranoid, violent, and sexual. This is what Hollywood gives me? I felt like I was dragged into the mind of one of the sexually abusing Hollywood producers. Of course, the actresses do what they are told, and I, the little person in the dark, passively sit there watching this fantasy. I'm free to leave. Why don't I?

With trailers, you keep thinking this is almost over, and the actual movie will start next. But the trailers went on and on and I watched and judged. Hollywood is sick. Evil. Corrupting our soul.

Then the movie I came to see started (after the short film about how we're not supposed to talk and we ought to look out for our personal belongings (thieves slithering along the floor, presumably, or so I thought, paranoically)).

The movie was "I, Tonya," which brimmed with domestic violence. Not only did Nancy Kerrigan get slammed in the knee with a police baton in that one famous incident, but Tonya Harding got smacked around in dozens of unfamous incidents. From the screenplay:
He’d beat the living hell outta me. And I thought it was my fault. Look, Nancy gets hit one time — and the whole world shits. For me, it was an all the time occurrence.
Why am I sitting here watching a woman getting abused? I've heard that in crowded theaters, there's lots of laughter. That led one reviewer to say:
Give Harding a redemptory arc and humanize her character? I can get behind that. The thing that’s harder to champion is the way I, Tonya sets about doing it. For, you see, the path it takes is akin to watching an R-rated, live-action Looney Tunes cartoon. It is casual violence, domestic abuse, misogyny and psychological torment wrapped up in goofy frivolity. The perpetrators? Clownish buffoons with bruised fists. Wise-cracking Gorgons who will throw a kitchen knife at you if you step out of line. Portraits of the lowest socioeconomic class painted in broad, chaotic colors so that we’re programmed to laugh at their exploits, no matter how brutal and disgusting they end up being presented as actual humans.

The film wants to have its own cake and eat it, too. Midway through, Margot Robbie’s Tonya looks us directly in the eye (because the Brechtian breaking of the fourth wall is one of the film’s central conceits) and tells us outright that we’re complicit in the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) because of our lurid fascination with the media coverage. But, wait. Weren’t we just doing the very thing that she calls us out on? Weren’t we just getting a kick out of the seamy details of Tonya’s domestic life, set to various needle drops of popular ‘70s and ‘80s radio hits?
Yeah, well, I didn't feel complicit. I felt distanced and sensitized to the insensitivity to violence, and, anyway, there was no crowd in my theater, so there was no laughing all around me to give the place a jaunty comic feeling that would then make me susceptible to getting called out as complicit.

CNN finds one more way to say conservatives are wrong.

"In our current political climate, the term 'cuck' -- short for 'cuckservative' -- has become an insult of the so-called alt-right, aimed at men they view as spineless and emasculated. The slur has its roots in the concept of cuckolding, or having an adulterous partner. But, according to a recent study by David Ley, Justin Lehmiller and the writer Dan Savage, acting on cuckolding fantasies can be a largely positive experience for many couples, and hardly a sign of weakness...."

So beings "Cuckolding can be positive for some couples, study says."

"In Praise of Guided Tours/They’re tacky. They’re touristy. There’s no other way I’d rather sightsee."

Writes Jeffrey Bloomer in Slate.
... on a visit to the Frick Collection in New York, I browsed the galleries quietly on my own, but the former residence only really came to life when I overheard a tour already in progress. The guide described Henry Clay Frick’s preferences in his commissioned portraits of women, and I could hear a raised eyebrow in his voice. “He liked to have all of them in the frame. Head. Feet. All of them,” he said. “Feet?” an older woman asked. “Oh yes, feet.” The guide turned the stiff galleries into a site of early-century tea talk. I was riveted and a little aghast. Had my resistance to getting led around like a rube cost me riveting trivia and crucial gossip on every trip I’ve ever taken? Had I ever really been anywhere without a tour? Why did no one tell me?

"Bears burned in California wildfires go holistic for pain."

ABC reports.

My suspicion about the immigration impasse.

Everyone — meaning everyone in Congress plus Trump — wants to protect the "Dreamers." No one wants to build The Wall. We hear Dreamers and The Wall because those are 2 concrete things that we have a mental picture of and instant feelings about. The real issues are the other things — "chain" migration, E-Verify, merit-based immigration, etc.

Assess the accuracy of Althouse's suspicion.
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"People who lie to themselves and listen to their own lie come to such a pass that they cannot distinguish the truth within them, or around them, and so lose all respect for themselves and for others."

Wrote Dostoyevsky, quoted yesterday by Pope Francis, as reported by the NYT in "For Pope Francis, Fake News Goes Back to the Garden of Eden."

"As for the charges of Groping, I say yes, I AM A GROPER. And by groper, I mean I get paid to show up to these shows, events, and photo shoots..."

"... and touch the people and they touch me. I'm not the young stud I was, but I still draw a crowd. And we are talking about things that are within reason, in front of police officers and security that are always there as well as the tons of cameras And the general public.... But seriously, if you were going to be around Ron Jeremy, wouldn't you assume that I'd be a little bit touchy feely? Yes. This is what I do for a living. I am not Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, Weinstein or Cosby."

Said Ron Jeremy, quoted in "Porn legend Ron Jeremy banned from AVN Adult Entertainment Expo convention after rape allegations," a Daily News article published today. The quote was part of a much longer written statement appended to a Rolling Stone article that came out last November, "Inside Ron Jeremy Sexual Misconduct Allegations/After years of worrying their stories would be brushed off, women are coming forward with accusations against the famous porn star."

"Taking a moment to remind everyone that it was a 20 year old fictional crockpot with an already funky switch?"

"Let's not just lump all those lovely hardworking crockpots together," Dan Fogelman, creator of the TV show "This Is Us," quoted in "Crock-Pot defends itself after heartbreaking ‘This Is Us’ shocker (SPOILERS)" (Daily News).

Erykah Badu expresses empathy for Hitler, the human being, and creates a stir.

It's worse that that time Donald Trump said something that made it sound as though there could be a good person in there amongst the neo-Nazis.*

WaPo reports:
Badu hasn’t released a record since 2010, but she gave the interview in advance of the tentative reissue of “Baduizm” in February.
And maybe that says it all, but let's continue:
Badu said she’s hesitant to pass judgment on people such as Cosby, who was accused of rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment by at least 60 women.... Badu added, “if he’s sick, why would I be angry with him?” She admitted that her viewpoint might be poorly received, saying “I could be crucified for saying that,” but that “the rush to get mad doesn’t make sense to me.”
Then she added: "I see good in everybody... I saw something good in Hitler."

Questioned, she blurted out, “Hitler was a wonderful painter,” but of course he was a rotten painter. The interviewer informed her of the noncontroversial, no ambiguity possible, black-and-white fact that Hitler was a terrible painter, and she saw her opening to feel sorry for him for being a terrible painter — "Poor thing" — and took a stab at another basis for empathy, that he had a "terrible childhood" (though there's no reason to think she knew anything about Hitler's childhood).

One thing we know for sure: Erykah Badu exists.


* What did Trump actually say last August, after the Charlottesville protests? We all have our mental notes on the subject, but here's the transcript:

"The general concept of family in Japan has fallen apart. The overall number of people who are alone is growing..."

"... so it’s inevitable that the number of people dying without anyone’s support is also growing.... Their ties are all related to their work, so [when they retire] it’s hard for them to jump into the local community... It’s so easy for them to fall into self-neglect and become isolated, and there’s nobody to stop that from happening."

Said Masaki Ichinose, of the Center for Life and Death Studies at the University of Tokyo, quoted in "CLEANING UP AFTER THE DEAD/As family dynamics change in Japan, more people are living by themselves — and dying alone" in The Washington Post (replete with descriptions and photographs depicting the living spaces of those whose dead bodies were discovered long after they died).

The second-highest-rated comment is: "A company that cleans up after dead people is named 'Next.' I know death comes for all of us, but that seems pretty cold." That gets the response "Time to fill that space with the next tenant."

January 24, 2018

"Faces Places."

Looks great. At Cinemateque this weekend.

"President Trump said on Wednesday that he was willing to speak under oath to Robert S. Mueller III..."

... the NYT reports:

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

"Be alone, and you will feel that it is better to be with people. Be with people, and you will understand that being alone is not so bad."

Yoko Ono.

At the Frosted Roll Café...


... you can talk about anything.

(And please consider doing your Amazon shopping through the Althouse Portal.)

"The red flags may have been there, but they were designed to be hidden. I know how hard-core sports moms are."

Said Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of Ingham County Circuit Court, at the sentencing hearing for Lawrence G. Nassar, the former Olympic gymnastics team and sports medicine doctor, who pleaded guilty to 7 counts of sexual assault. 150 young women testified against him for behavior that went on for many years, the NYT reports, often with the parents in the room.
“I willingly took my most precious gift in this world to you, and you hurt her,” said Anne Swinehart, who was allowed to directly address Dr. Nassar in court after her daughter Jillian spoke on Tuesday. “Physically, mentally and emotionally, and she was only 8.”

“I cannot help but think, how did I miss the red flags?” she said. “How is it that I misinterpreted your intent so wrongly? I wanted my daughter to get better, to achieve her dreams, to participate and succeed in a sport she loved.”

Ms. Swinehart said she remembered looking at Jillian during an appointment and seeing her grimacing in pain. Now, she said, she realizes “that it was not a knotted muscle that was causing that.”
Sentencing the 54-year-old doctor to 40 to 125 years in prison, the judge said "It is my honor and privilege to sentence you.... I just signed your death warrant."

"If Clinton had been charged, Obama’s culpable involvement would have been patent."

"In any prosecution of Clinton, the Clinton–Obama emails would have been in the spotlight. For the prosecution, they would be more proof of willful (or, if you prefer, grossly negligent) mishandling of intelligence. More significantly, for Clinton’s defense, they would show that Obama was complicit in Clinton’s conduct yet faced no criminal charges. That is why such an indictment of Hillary Clinton was never going to happen. The latest jaw-dropping disclosures of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, illustrate this point."

"Clinton–Obama Emails: The Key to Understanding Why Hillary Wasn’t Indicted" by Andrew McCarthy (National Review).

"We hate those who are better than us (God, Abel) and want to destroy them, then lie to hide from the consequences."

"'Consult your resentment,' he says. 'It is revelatory. Don’t underestimate malevolence and don’t underestimate the utility of your capacity for malevolence. If you’re weak, you should turn yourself into a monster. It’s a funny thing, that "monster" is better than "nice." But it’s not as good as "not monstrous." And that’s the next thing to achieve. But cowering in your basement resenting everyone is the real pathway to darkness. 'You have to notice when you’re feeling homicidal. Let’s say you go to work and someone bullies you. If you notice, you’re fantasising some pretty nasty stuff. That tells you two things. The first is that you’re not as nice as you think. And the corollary of that is, you’re not as useless as you think.'"

From "Jordan Peterson: ‘The pursuit of happiness is a pointless goal’/Life is tragic, says the provocative Jordan Peterson, and we are all capable of turning into monsters. But this hasn’t stopped millions from watching his online lectures. Tim Lott meets him as he publishes 12 Rules for Life" in The Guardian.

Minnesota Public Radio would like you to know that what Garrison Keillor did was a lot worse than you probably thought.

A letter from MPR president Jon McTaggart. In the main part of the letter, he responds to questions that he frames for the purpose of explaining and justifying MPR's actions. Sample:

"Did MPR overreact to a single incident of Garrison touching the back of the woman who is making the allegations?" Answer: no.

"Did MPR provide due process to Garrison or was this a rush to protect MPR in the current environment?" Answer: "MPR’s process was deliberate, diligent and included Garrison...."

"Has MPR unfairly tarnished Garrison Keillor’s reputation?" No, much of the damage Keillor did to himself by using social media to stir up outrage over how unfairly he was treated. And: "The irony is that while MPR has been careful to protect Garrison’s privacy and not hurry any decisions, others have rushed to judge and criticize MPR’s actions without knowing the facts."

"Since 'Drag Race' first aired in 2009, the conversation around identity and gender has shifted tremendously."

"For all the show has done to challenge its audience’s notions of masculinity and femininity, it has shied away, until the most recent season, from any serious discussion about the ways the drag community intersects the trans one. There have been trans queens on the show, but the topic is a touchy one in the drag community. For most drag artists, the point is the performance; it is not their sole identity. But for those queens who identify as trans or nonbinary, their stage persona is not necessarily a performance. The centerpiece of the show is the contestants’ transforming themselves into queens, and then, after each competition, taking off their wigs and removing synthetic breasts to reappear as men. For years, 'Drag Race' prioritized entertainment over any nuances of the culture. Much of the queens’ vernacular, body language and movements come from the drag world’s — especially white queens’ — interpretation of black femininity. I’ve always been uncomfortable with that phenomenon, despite how much I enjoy the show. In his essay '"Draguating’ to Normal,"' the academic Josh Morrison argues that by using the bodies of women, people of color and other marginalized groups, 'through an often loving, well-intentioned impersonation of them,' drag 'unintentionally does them discursive violence.'"

From "Is ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ the Most Radical Show on TV?/The reality-television competition that began nine years ago has evolved to reflect an era fixated on gender and identity — and the boundary-pushing spirit of its star." (NYT).

What, exactly, is "discursive violence"? "Discursive" means "Of or characterized by reasoned argument or thought; logical, ratiocinative. Often opposed to intuitive" (OED).
1667 Milton Paradise Lost v. 488 Whence the soule Reason receives, and reason is her being, Discursive, or Intuitive; discourse Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours.
It can also mean refer to going "from one subject to another, esp. in a rapid or irregular manner; extending over or dealing with a wide range of subjects; expansive; digressive," like:
1791 J. Boswell Life Johnson anno 1774 I. 440 Such a discursive exercise of his mind.
Or — and I suspect this is what roils the mind of "the academic" quoted in the NYT — "Relating to discourse or modes of discourse." This is a meaning that took flight in the 1960s:
1961 Philos. Rev. 70 80 The word ‘God’ looks the same in any discursive context, whether narrative, factual, or formal....
And the most recent quote is this, which I can't help but think the OED intended to laugh at:
2011 C. West in G. Rockhill & A. Gomez-Muller Politics of Culture & Spirit of Critique vi. 114 Deploying that voice in..a variety of different discursive strategies, a variety of different modes of rhetorical persuasion as well as logical argumentation in order to make some kind of impact on the world.

"Why an Unreleased 4-Page Memo From Devin Nunes Is Causing a Frenzy on the Right."

New York Magazine:
[H]ere’s what we know up to this point about this latest madness: a) There is an undisclosed four-page memorandum, b) written by Nunes’s staff, c) which was made available in a party-line vote to anyone in the House, d) but remains unreleased to the public at large, e) and for which no one but Nunes and a handful of House Intelligence members and staffers have seen the evidence in support of it.

The New York Times’ Charlie Savage reported that the heart of the memo’s grievances is a secret warrant federal authorities obtained to monitor the activities of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the lead-up to the 2016 election. According to Nunes’s memo, the FBI, in seeking the warrant, all but misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by withholding that the supporting evidence for the warrant came from Republicans’ favorite whipping boy, Steele — the former British spy contracted by research firm Fusion GPS (which in turn was contracted by the Democratic Party) to investigate Trump’s dalliances with Russia. According to Savage’s reporting, those who sought the warrant didn’t disclose that Steele was getting paid by Democratic interests, but merely referred to him in court documents as a trusted FBI source who had already done good work for the bureau in an earlier case....

"Female journalist goes undercover at posh ‘men only’ London fundraiser, reports widespread groping."

WaPo reports on the the Financial Times report on the President’s Club Charitable Trust fundraising dinner at the Dorchester Hotel:
The attendees last Thursday, as in the past, were an elite from Britain’s business, finance, fashion, entertainment and political establishment, an “esteemed” group if ever there was one, as the club’s website says — esteemed to the man because it was, indeed, a “men only” event.

Men only, except for 130 “hostesses” hired to cater to the needs of the roughly 360 attendees.... The job requirements included “tall, thin and pretty,” the FT’s [Madison] Marriage reported.... They were told that the men might be “annoying,” the FT reported. “You just have to put up with the annoying men and if you can do that it’s fine,” they were told....

One hostess recounted to FT a scene of “braying men” fondling her bottom, stomach and legs. Another guest “lunged at her to kiss her.” “According to the accounts of multiple women working that night, groping and similar abuse was seen across many of the tables in the room,” FT reported.

Hostesses said men “repeatedly” put their hands up their skirts, with one exposing himself to her during the festivities. Hostesses who seemed unenthusiastic were prodded by “an enforcement team” to interact with the guests....
UPDATE: Later the same day, President’s Club Charitable Trust announces it's shutting down, the NYT reports:
The British establishment’s reaction to the scandal was severe and immediate, a reflection of the reckoning for many powerful men around the world following revelations of sexual misconduct by the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

"While the Obama administration infamously micromanaged policy from the West Wing, the Trump White House has given Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs almost total freedom to do what they want..."

"... according to two close advisers to the White House," Politico reports.

Is this a new line on Trump? He's not really about anything at all....

I'm starting a new tag to keep track of this possible trend.

There's also this: "An Unexpectedly Smooth First Year for Trump’s C.I.A. Director" (NYT):
In Mr. Pompeo’s telling, the president is a sophisticated consumer of intelligence, and under his leadership, the C.I.A. is being reshaped into a leaner, more flexible organization whose officers have been freed to focus on stealing secrets, eliminating the United States’ enemies and giving Mr. Trump the delicate information he needs to confront the challenges facing the country....

A post on the passing of Ursula K. LeGuin.

There are 2 things about Ursula K. LeGuin that I want to pass along — otherwise I would not choose this obituary to blog about. I don't blog for every famous writer who dies, even when I've read that person's books, and I have read 2 Ursula K. LeGuin books. All I remember of those books is that I forced myself to read them and found them a pleasureless slog. Why did I force myself? I was reading a lot of writing on feminism, circa 1990, and the books of Ursula K. LeGuin seemed to belong to the literature I wanted to know.

So here are the 2 things. First, this:

And then this recent letter to the editor of The Oregonian:
A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician's claim to tell "alternative facts" to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won't work. We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real - all invented, imagined -- and we call it fiction because it isn't fact. We may call some of it "alternative history" or "an alternate universe," but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are "alternative facts."

Facts aren't all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so - it has no "alternative." The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or "alternative fact") is a lie.

A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact. Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction. He's harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous. In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Northwest Portland

"I never fathomed I’d be where I’m at right now – 30 and in a cat custody battle."

Said Rae Bees, who wrote this Facebook post in the voice of her escaped cat Reggie:
i’m Reggie and i’m lost (again). i don’t have a collar. i coulda been catnapped. i will escape again.
Bees adopted the cat from Feline Friends, and Feline Friends is where the person who found the cat brought it. The cat still had its Feline Friends chip, and when the agency traced down Bees and saw the Facebook post and other evidence that Bees had broke her promise to keep the cat indoors, it declined to release the cat to Bees.

Key legal point:
This month, an Illinois law took effect that allows judges to consider the “best interest” of pets for custody in divorce cases rather than treating them as property.
I would guess that translates into the person with the most money gets the pet (or a pet becomes a useful bargain chip in a dispute where somebody doesn't want the pet all that much), but I can see why lawyers wanted that law passed. Anyway, Feline Friends is putting money into litigation over one cat (rather than taking more care of more other cats) because it wants the power to impose conditions — that is, to have enforceable contracts with the people who adopt cats.
“He wasn’t allowed outside. He was just a Houdini — he would escape,” said Bees, who acknowledges Reggie escaped several times a week. The Logan Square artist goes by Bees but filed the lawsuit under her legal name Rachael Siciliano.

Bees’ attorneys dispute that there was ever a legal contract. “This is not an enforceable contract,” said her attorney, Mariana Karampelas, who said nothing in the document discloses that the cat could be taken away. “It's a list of aspirations,” said Richard Gonzalez, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who is working on the case pro bono.
So Bees isn't her real name, and a law professor takes the case pro bono. All right.

I see "Animal Law Clinics Become Pet Projects at Law Schools" (Texas Lawyer):
South Texas, the first law school in the Lone Star State to create an animal law clinic, joins Lewis & Clark Law School, University at Buffalo School of Law and Michigan State University College of Law in providing students the chance to learn animal law by representing real (human) clients.

“It’s largely driven by students—the millennials—and the things that concern them, the issues they feel passionately about,” said Catherine Greene Burnett, vice president, associate dean and professor at South Texas....

“Having more attorneys with this experience will lead to better legal protections for animals. When schools offer animal law courses and clinics, students graduate knowing that animal law is a serious social justice issue,” said [Kelly Levenda, student programs attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a California-based nonprofit law firm that advocates for greater legal protections for animals].
How would you resolve Bees v. Feline Friends?

pollcode.com free polls
ADDED: Poll results:

January 23, 2018

Goodbye to Tinky Winky.

"The actor Simon Barnes, best known for playing Tinky Winky in the BBC children’s series Teletubbies, has died aged 52," The Guardian reports.
He became embroiled in a furore over the sexuality of Tinky Winky, who was accused of being a gay role model who could be morally damaging to children by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell in 1999. “He is purple – the gay-pride colour; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle – the gay-pride symbol,’’ he wrote in the National Liberty Journal.

“People always ask me if Tinky Winky is gay,” Barnes said. “But the character is supposed to be a three-year-old so the question is really quite silly.”

"How is that a haunting question? Of course they would."

Said Freeman Hunt, reacting to the headline "Neil deGrasse Tyson Has A Haunting Question About Bears,"* blogged here yesterday.

I said, "The word 'haunt' is way overused. I should do a post about that." So this is that post.

The first thing I see is that 14 years ago, in the early months of this blog, I wrote a substantial post about the word "haunted" and the way it is overused.**

Next, I see that the verb "to haunt" did not begin as a powerful, ghost-related word. It simply referred to frequency and habit, such as going to a particular place. The OED has very old quotes — as old as the 13th century — that speak of ships haunting harbors and people haunting taverns.

In the 16th century, there was talk of thoughts, memories, and feelings that frequently occurred and thus "haunted" a person. Shakespeare wrote: "Your beauty which did haunt me in my sleepe: To vndertake the death of all the world" ("Richard III" 1597). And Shakespeare used the word to speak of the habitual visits of ghosts:
1597 Shakespeare Richard II iii. ii. 154 Some haunted by the ghosts they haue deposed.
1600 Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream iii. i. 99 O monstrous! O strange! We are haunted. Pray masters: fly masters: helpe.
Reading the OED makes the word feel much weaker to me. A "haunting question" is nothing more than a question that keeps coming back to you, not necessarily anything spooky. Is it no different from a "nagging question"?

But I see ghosts in "haunting." Are there horses in "nagging"? No, "nag" (the verb) comes from Scandinavia — "nagga" — to gnaw, irritate, grumble. "Nag" the horse comes from Dutch — "negge" —  a small horse. Oh! And I see that in this horse lineage, "nag" was once a slang word for "penis":
1598 J. Marston Scourge of Villanie B2 Hence lewd nags away, Goe read each poast,..Then to Priapus gardens.
1655 Mercurius Fumigosus xxxvi. 284 He by his Eloquence Converted her Gleab into pasture, and put his Nagg to grasse in her Coppice.
1707 in H. Playford Wit & Mirth (new ed.) III. 56 What is this so stiff and warm... 'Tis Ball my Nag he will do you no harm.
Goe read each poast... that's what I always say.

* Freeman Hunt continued, riffing on deGrasse Tyson's tweet, "If Bears were in charge, after they hunted us to near-extinction, I wonder if they’d invent a candy called Gummy Human":

At the Afternoon Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

(And please consider doing your Amazon shopping through the Althouse Portal. For example, I myself just bought Turbo Tax.)

"But isn’t this a bit of a cautious, comfort-food nomination list? Oscars to soothe everyone in troubled Trumpian times?"

"A brilliant exercise in exotic fantasy in an imagined American past, and some rousing journeys back to Britain’s wartime past in Dunkirk and Darkest Hour? Creatures in the water ... Winston in the bath? I wonder. The Shape of Water is great: but Hollywood feels on the back foot right now. The movie establishment might in other circumstances feel moved to let rip with rage at the hated pussy-grabber. But the Weinstein fallout is clearly making the tuxed throng of awards season feel they’re living in too a fragile a glass house from which to be throwing stones. The Post — a movie which feels tacitly anti-Trump — has not made much of a ripple. As for the documentary nomination list, there are some great movies on there. But I’m waiting for a Michael Moore moment, a repudiation of politeness, a confronting of the elephant in the Oval Office, a ferocious upsetting of the apple-cart — something to infuriate both the conservatives and the sensible liberals."

Writes Peter Bradshaw (in The Guardian). Trump is himself such a ferocious upsetter of apple carts that it's hard to see how it's possible to confront him with ferocious upsetting. And the news and social media confront him continually. What would work in a movie? The Trump presidency is already the movie (the nightmare).

"Let me get this straight. You’re saying that we should organize our societies along the lines of the lobsters?"

From "Why Can't People Hear What Jordan Peterson Is Saying?/A British broadcaster doggedly tried to put words into the academic’s mouth" by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.

The quote in the post headline is what Cathy Newman said after Peterson said:
There’s this idea that hierarchical structures are a sociological construct of the Western patriarchy. And that is so untrue that it’s almost unbelievable. I use the lobster as an example: We diverged from lobsters evolutionarily history about 350 million years ago. And lobsters exist in hierarchies. They have a nervous system attuned to the hierarchy. And that nervous system runs on serotonin just like ours. The nervous system of the lobster and the human being is so similar that anti-depressants work on lobsters. And it’s part of my attempt to demonstrate that the idea of hierarchy has absolutely nothing to do with sociocultural construction, which it doesn’t.
Lots more quotes from the interview and analysis of what's going on at the link. I just want to quote something from the movie "The Lobster":
HOTEL MANAGER — The fact that you'll turn into an animal if you don't manage to fall in love with another person during your stay here is not something that should upset you... Have you decided what animal you would like to be if you end up alone?

DAVID — A lobster.

HOTEL MANAGER — Why a lobster?

DAVID — Because a lobster lives to be over 100 years old, has blue blood just like an aristocrat and stays fertile all its life. And I like the sea very much. I water-ski and swim quite well, ever since I was a teenager.

HOTEL MANAGER — I must congratulate you. Usually the first thing people think of is a dog and that’s why the world is full of dogs.* Very few choose to become unusual animals, which is why they are endangered. Rarely does someone choose to be a tuna fish, due to the dangers it faces, or a polar bear, due to its adverse living conditions. A lobster is an excellent choice.
And here's the great David Foster Wallace essay "Consider the Lobster." Excerpt:
Still, after all the abstract intellection, there remain the facts of the frantically clanking lid, the pathetic clinging to the edge of the pot. Standing at the stove, it is hard to deny in any meaningful way that this is a living creature experiencing pain and wishing to avoid/escape the painful experience. To my lay mind, the lobster’s behavior in the kettle appears to be the expression of a preference; and it may well be that an ability to form preferences is the decisive criterion for real suffering. The logic of this (preference p suffering) relation may be easiest to see in the negative case. If you cut certain kinds of worms in half, the halves will often keep crawling around and going about their vermiform business as if nothing had happened. When we assert, based on their post-op behavior, that these worms appear not to be suffering, what we’re really saying is that there’s no sign that the worms know anything bad has happened or would prefer not to have gotten cut in half.

* Notice that "the British broadcaster doggedly tried..."

"The mess that the airlines are in today... this dope filled world —— get in a long tube with a bunch of demons —— and it's deadly"/"And it works on your heart."

Evangelists explain why they need to fly in private planes:

"We got a dyin' world around us, Jesse. We got a dyin' nation around us. And we can't even get there on no airlines...."

Yeah, I don't like the airlines either.

I watched the Oscar nominations show so you don't have to.

I'll just say if the job consists of reading a Teleprompter, hire someone who can read a Teleprompter.

Here's the full list of nominations.

"He told me he was freaked out, but I guess when you think you’re dying because your entrails are shooting out your bottom and you find out it’s not you, but something else, that’s probably a good thing."

Says a doctor quoted in "How the sushi boom is fuelling tapeworm infections/As eating raw fish has become more popular, gruesome tapeworm tales have emerged. But how worried should sashimi lovers be – and how else might we become infected?"

"It is not like this case is about national security or corruption. Right?"

"Stuckie the dog is eternally grasping for freedom that will never come."

Half a century ago, a dog ran up the center of a hollow tree. The tree that killed him preserved his body, and both tree and dog are on display in the Southern Forest World Museum, Newsweek reports.


Speaking of dead bodies preserved in action and just to balance the beast/human respect for the dead, there's also this in the news today: "Buddhist monk ‘still smiling’ two months after his death."

ADDED: The tree preserved the dead dog, and the dog preserved the dead tree.

Is Melania angry with Trump? Suddenly, we hear she's not going with him to Davos this week.

At the last minute — one day before the scheduled departure — her people tell us she has "scheduling and logistical issues."

Not wanting to be around somebody is, euphemistically, a "logistical issue."
Melania Trump has not made a public statement since January 12, when news of a possible payoff from her husband's lawyer to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged affair was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The first lady did, however, depart with the President later that day to Mar-a-Lago for the long holiday weekend, although she was not spotted with him during two evening dinners hosted by Trump, one with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and another with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
And look at how she tweeted on the anniversary of her husbands inauguration — an image and message utterly devoid of Trump:

Many wonderful moments and at least one nonwonderful moment.

The announcement that Melania would not accompany her husband to Davos came on what was their wedding anniversary — their 13th.

Joining Melania in her wrath, Nature dumps 6 feet of snow on Davos. (NYT.)

"A few weeks ago, fourteen Russian first-year air-transport cadets made a parody of a fifteen-year-old music clip, and now it’s all a lot of Russians can talk about."

"This is a story of spontaneous solidarity, self-organization, and, ultimately, just possibly, the triumph of freedom over bureaucracy," writes Masha Gessen, in The New Yorker, showing us New Yorker readers this:

We're told they didn't mean for that to go up on line. Whatever. But when it did, the air-travel ministry said it would “investigate all circumstances and causes of this outrageous incident.” That led Russian news TV to entertain the Russian people by showing the clip over and over and pointing out the "clear expressions of homosexuality." That led to lots more #Satisfaction clips, which The New Yorker helpfully links to and instructs us to watch in order — "construction, agricultural... emergency services... jockeys... stable boys... theatre troupe... nurses... women’s biathlon team... Medical... Deep-sea divers... mixed-gender group shot in a sauna... retired women of St. Petersburg...."

What does it all mean? Gesson says:
Given Russia’s official and highly politicized homophobia, these parodies are pure protest, raunchy and playful. They demonstrate that Russians can still form horizontal connections, despite the state’s monopoly on the public sphere, and despite the threat of harsh penalties for protest in general and “propaganda of homosexuality” in particular. Each clip is at once a show of solidarity with a group of young strangers and a show of ordinary people’s ability to organize and act together—an ability that the state would seem to have stamped out....
The original video has a power tools theme...

... and Gesson ends with a "power tools" witticism: "Performing homoeroticism is, as it turns out, the real power tool when it comes to sticking it to the authorities."

January 22, 2018

At the Macaroon Café...


... you can talk all night.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

I can't watch the TV news without getting completely distracted by the hair and makeup on the women.

Sometimes I've wondered why I write almost continually about the news but almost never watch it on television. Today, I saw the answer with great clarity.

Reading, I saw that the Senate was voting on the shutdown and decided this was one of those real-time events that I'd watch live. It wasn't really too lively. I immediately saw the vote tally on CSPAN-2, but instead of turning it off, I switched to one of the cable news shows to see what they were saying. I won't name the channel or the 2 women whose looks I'm going to talk about, but I was immediately saying: "Oh! X didn't have time to go through hair and makeup! You can see how she really looks. That's so weird." Etc.

The vote came up suddenly enough, it seemed that X had not undergone the full processing that normally forms her into the being I'm accustomed to seeing on camera. She looked like an ordinary woman, yet being on TV, she looked completely bizarre. Her hair was lank, her face red and ill-defined. And yet, she looked like the women I see on the street in my walking-around life.

Later, there was a panel discussion that included a woman, Y, who had, I think, gone through full processing and attained what I theorized was the post-#MeToo look for women. She wore a fully covered-up black get-up, something like what Frances McDormand wore at the Golden Globes...
... and she had very long, parted-on-one-side, dark hair — a style of the sort that was once associated with elementary-school girls. Her makeup was a no-makeup look and her mannerisms and speech were, I thought, exactly the same as the male panelists.

It's not that I didn't listen to what she and others were saying. I did. They said the same 3 or 4 things about the shutdown over and over again. If I were reading, I'd have it thoroughly skimmed in 20 seconds. Locked into the TV show's idea of time, I search for things to pay attention to, and I find myself plunging into the visual dimension, which you might consider shallow, but I find deeper than who voters will blame and whether Schumer can negotiate with Jello.

I got very chatty about how Newswomen of the Future will dress and act, and then I had to turn the flashy pictures off and get back to my iPad. The low-battery alert was taunting me, so I set that aside, laced up my hiking boots, got my umbrella, and went out for a late-January walk. I had my earbuds in so I could listen to the latest edition of the New Yorker. The story was "When Barbie Went to War with Bratz/How a legal battle over intellectual property exposed a cultural battle over sex, gender roles, and the workplace" by Jill Lepore. I made a mental note to show you this:
It’s no accident that #MeToo started in the entertainment and television-news businesses, where women are required to look as much like Barbie and Bratz dolls as possible, with the help of personal trainers, makeup artists, hair stylists, personal shoppers, and surgeons. Unfortunately, an extrajudicial crusade of public shaming of men accused of “sexual misconduct” is no solution, and a poor kind of justice, not least because it brooks no dissent, as if all that women are allowed to say about #MeToo is “Me, too!” The pull string wriggles.

Shutdown-blame update.

AND: "Senate Votes Overwhelmingly to End Government Shutdown" (NYT).

"Was Lynch coordinating with Comey in the Clinton investigation?"

Asks Sharyl Attkisson (at The Hill).
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch knew well in advance of FBI Director James Comey's 2016 press conference that he would recommend against charging Hillary Clinton, according to information turned over to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Friday.

The revelation was included in 384 pages of text messages exchanged between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and it significantly diminishes the credibility of Lynch's earlier commitment to accept Comey's recommendation — a commitment she made under the pretense that the two were not coordinating with each other.

And it gets worse. Comey and Lynch reportedly knew that Clinton would never face charges even before the FBI conducted its three-hour interview with Clinton, which was supposedly meant to gather more information into her mishandling of classified information...
Read the whole thing.


A nice Roz Chast New Yorker cover:

My January calendar has 4 positive dates. 2 are personal to me, my birthday (12) and my bloggiversary (14). But I also have 2 others that we all share and that are very important, I believe, psychologically, especially if you live in a northern latitude where you must deal with the short days and long nights.

January 5: The End of Darkmonth. Darkmonth is the darkest monthlong period of the year, that is, the period with the winter solstice at the center. The solstice was December 21st, so I put the last day of Darkmonth on January 5th.

The second day of note, following this line of reasoning, is January 20th, which marks the end of the darkest 2-month period. I don't have a name for the 15 days on either side of Darkmonth — Nonconsecutive-Second-to-Darkest-Month.

But we just got past that, and in 2 more weeks, the darkest 3 months will be over. So even though it will only be February 5 (or 6th), which seems a long way from the end of winter, if your problem with winter is, as it is for me, the darkness, you should see winter as over.

What does the old actor William H. Macy have to say to "the younger guys" about how they should behave in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp?

He's fielding the question on the fly after winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for his role in the TV show "Shameless." I like the somewhat scattered quality of the collection of ideas:

"In what we do for a living, we’ve got to be free to speak the unspeakable and try things. So I don’t want it to throw a wet blanket on things, and I don’t feel that it will, because half the business is women and they’re smart and they’re hip. It’s a good time to be a girl. I’m proud of this business, because such things as safety in the workplace, that’s done. We’re not going back. It’s changed. It changed in an instant and it’s not going back. When it comes to equality in pay, it’s inevitable. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen quickly. My hat’s off to our business.... It’s hard to be a man these days. I think a lot of us feel like we’re under attack and that we need to apologize, and perhaps we do.... We had a meeting. A bunch of guys got together under the auspices of Time’s Up. That’s good for men. Men don’t talk enough. Men don't talk to other men. And we talked. What the hell, a little bit can't hurt you."

The first thought is: Preserve the men's freedom of expression. He starts down that road. Perhaps he's thinking that male vitality must rage on or the work product will go to hell. And who will choose to go into film? How can it work?

But he self-censors and shifts to praising women. They're smart and they're hip.

Then he promotes "the business." He's "proud" of it. And he's even eager to credit it with already having solved its problem, because the culture has changed. We're not going back. Hats off! Yay, business!!

Then he gets back to the question. He must feel some obligation to the questioner, now that he's done the necessary promoting of The Business and genuflected to The Women. But what can he say? It's hard. We feel attacked. We feel that we're asked to apologize. We can talk. Well, we were wrangled into a talk session by Time's Up, so we talked. We can talk. It could happen. A little bit anyway. We can talk a little bit without feeling entirely emasculated.

In the future, shopping in a store will look like shoplifting.

BBC reports on the Amazon Go store that's being tested in Seattle:
On entering the store, shoppers walk through gates similar to those in the London underground, swiping their smartphones loaded with the Amazon Go app. Then they are free to put any of the sandwiches, salads, drinks and biscuits on the shelves straight into their own shopping bags.

There's no need for a trolley or basket, since you won't be unpacking it again at the till... With the help of sensors on the shelves, items are added to customers' Amazon Go account as they pick them up - and delete any they put back. And an electronic receipt is issued as they exit....
Does it really work?
But there were some... problems with correctly identifying shoppers of similar body types - and children moving items to the wrong places on shelves, according to an Amazon insider.

Pictures of Jupiter.

NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran © CC NC SA

More here.

Via CNN ("[T]wo citizen scientists, Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran, have enhanced the images by manipulating the color and contrast... encouraged by NASA's JunoCam project...").

"If Bears were in charge..."

I found that because I was intrigued by the HuffPo headline "Neil deGrasse Tyson Has A Haunting Question About Bears." It's worth clicking on that link if only to make sure the quip you're about to make hasn't already been done. For example:

Also: Why did he capitalize "Bears"? I wasted time thinking about the football team.

The sexual harassment of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Recounted in "‘It’s about time’: Ruth Bader Ginsburg praises #MeToo, recounts harassment in Sundance talk" (WaPo):
[When] Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young, studious college kid taking a chemistry class at Cornell University... One day, as she was preparing for a test, she told her professor she felt uncomfortable with some of the material.

“He said, ‘I’ll give you a practice exam,'” Ginsburg recalled in an interview Sunday with NPR’s Nina Totenberg at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

When Ginsburg went to class the next day, she discovered that the professor had actually just slipped her an advance copy of the real test. “And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” she said. “And that’s just one of many examples.”
I need more context to accept that inference,* though of course I'm making an inference. She's saying that her Cornell chemistry professor — a real person, whose name could be looked up — on his own motivation, imposed the means of cheating on an exam on her, expected her to discover what he had done and meant for her to interpret it as obligating her to have sex with him? I'm too wary of inferences to say I know exactly what RBG means, even as she's alive today and subject to further questioning, but she is very sure of herself and knows exactly what this now-safely-dead man meant 60+ years ago.

I'm imagining a context where I would, like her, be exactly sure. When Professor X hands her the real exam and says "I'll give you a practice exam," he says the word "practice" with a strong "if you know what I mean" inflection, and there would also have had be sexual innuendo in the surrounding conversation or in his gesturing toward her — or maybe in something she said. But if it was so obvious, why did she take the exam? Why didn't she say, "No, thank you. I don't need the 'practice' exam. I need to see what I can do on my own"?

What did she do when she realized she had unwittingly (wittingly??) cheated on the exam?
“I went to his office and I said, ‘How dare you? How dare you do this? And that was the end of that.”
Is that really enough to undo the advantage you accepted over the other students?

To the extent that this is a sexual story, I do want to see it in the context of its time. I think it was accepted as part of the culture that professors could chose students to draw into sexual relationships with them, that it was considered a perk of the job, and that professors were proud of what they got.


* WaPo isn't withholding any context, as you can see from the video, which I've clipped to the relevant spot:

50 years ago today: Season 1, episode 1 of "Laugh-In."

Here is the cocktail party scene, which was to be a regular segment on the show. Nearly everything in this sequence is about sex and race, and it's so awful by today's standards. The show presented itself as being on the cutting edge of American culture, but there was always something retrograde about it — an early 60s mentality trying to be relevant in the late 60s.

January 21, 2018

"Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants."

Harsh words from a new ad at Donald J. Trump for President:

At the Music Hour Café...


... you're on.

(Remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!"

ADDED: I'm trying to read the NYT article on the shutdown, "Bitter Bickering Muddies the Path to Ending the Government Shutdown."
The immediate cause of the shutdown, which began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday after Senate Democrats blocked consideration of a House-passed stopgap measure, was a dispute over spending. But it was a stalemate over immigration policy, the topic that propelled Mr. Trump’s political rise and has dominated his first 12 months as president, that snarled the negotiations, as the president vacillated over what approach he should take and advisers including Mr. Kelly counseled a harder line.
Wait. The immediate cause of the shutdown was... Senate Democrats blocked consideration of a House-passed stopgap measure. What's all that other material?! The Democrats blocked the vote that would have avoided the shutdown. That's clear, and one answer is, go to majority voting so this chaos isn't inflicted on us. Or is the shutdown just political theater that doesn't really mean anything?

Bill Maher wonders how he's supposed to be a comedian in this time that I call The Era of That's Not Funny.

"I'm down with #MeToo. I'm not down with #MeCarthyism. Something is way off when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand can go unchallenged saying 'when we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, you are having the wrong conversation.' Can't we just be having an additional conversation? Can we only have one thought now? I get it that Al Franken had to become roadkill on The Zero Tolerance Highway — a highway, it seems, only Democrats have to drive on — but do liberals really want to become The Distinction Deniers, the people who can't tell or don't want to see a difference between an assault in a van and a backrub by the watercooler? Masturbation is normal and healthy. But not in the park. Giving up on the idea that even bad things have degrees? That is as dumb as embracing the idea of 'alternative facts.' I get it when Trump's side doesn't want to talk. He only knows 88 words. But we are supposed to be The Conversation People. Justice requires weighing things. That's why Lady Justice is holding a scale, not a sawed-off shotgun. Senator Gillibrand went on to say, 'You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay.' Yes. Agreed. But we can't walk and chew gum anymore? We can't agree that groping and rape are both unacceptable and one is worse?..."

"One year into the Donald Trump administration, Oklahomans generally seem happy with the results, even if they don’t always appreciate the president’s style."

"'I thought he would really be good for the economy, and I feel like he’s got that off to a good start,' said Sage Smith of Claremore, who was interviewed near downtown Tulsa last week. 'A lot of people feel like his antics on Twitter go a little too far,' Smith said. 'It doesn’t bother me that much. But, being president, he probably shouldn’t do some of that.'"

The view from Oklahoma, recounted in "'He's done some amazing things': One year into his presidency, Trump remains a favorite in Oklahoma" (Tulsa World).

Why is Althouse reading Tulsa World? Is she traveling? No, I stumbled into Oklahoma as a result of the images searches done for the previous post, which got me to "Table Talk: Tulsa's 'Rosie the Riveter' to speak at VFW brunch" ("The 94-year-old [Marina] Metevelis was 16 when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. She applied for a job at the Wichita (Kansas) aircraft plant where B-17 Flying Fortresses were manufactured, and she became a riveter her senior year in high school").

That's from October 2016, back when TV news-talk-show people were telling us the election was over, and Hillary had won...

Confession: I rewatch videos like that frequently.

AND: Michael Moore's "5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win" was the most prescient thing anyone had to say before the election. I think people thought he was just kidding and trying to be provocative to get attention.