February 10, 2018

"Had Fox News existed — and been essentially the state-run TV — during the Nixon era, there might not have been an impeachment of Richard Nixon."

Said Adam Schiff on Bill Maher's show last night.

At the Deep Snow Café..


... we weren't snowed in. We got out. Bought a pie. Listened to a folksinger play "The Wind." Discussed notNeutral cups with the café owner. It's a lovely sunny midday in deep-snow Wisconsin and a fine enough time for an open thread.

And here's the Althouse Portal to Amazon in case you need to buy something — like this nice set of 4 nonNeutral coffee mugs.

"But I’m being asked to give up on Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Louis CK and Garrison Keillor, just to name a few. In a way, I’m starting to feel violated."

From the top-rated comment on "The Smearing of Woody Allen" (NYT):
Dylan Farrow’s memory could plausibly have been altered by the intense atmosphere surrounding the charges, and she may have a perfectly sincere but false memory of the events. It’s telling that her story changed during the initial investigation, but that she’s absolutely certain now, many years later.

Or maybe I’m wrong. If so, I’m deeply sorry. But I’m being asked to give up on Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Louis CK and Garrison Keillor, just to name a few. In a way, I’m starting to feel violated. I don’t want to give up on Woody Allen, and it will take more than an unsubstantiated accusation to make me do so.
From the op-ed itself, which is by Bret Stephens:
Soon after Rolling Stone published a sensational — and, as it turned out, false — account of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, Richard Bradley, the editor of Worth magazine, suspected that something was amiss.... [W]hat most stirred Bradley’s doubt was how perfectly the story played “into existing biases,” especially the sorts of biases Rolling Stone readers might harbor about fraternity life at Southern universities. Since the account of the rape “felt” true, it was easy to assume it was....
That makes me think of Michael Wolff. Remember him?

(By the way, you strike a chord, not a cord.)

"But some who have observed or trained once-recalcitrant men cite small successes in changing perceptions about the nature of 'male' jobs."

"Ellen Bravo, a director of Family Values at Work, found that male firefighters in Kansas City, Mo., had adapted to changes they once dismissed as unmanly, such as wearing masks to protect against lung cancer or talking about grief after witnessing death and suffering. Jessica Smith, an associate professor at the Colorado School of Mines, studied the successful experience of women in a Wyoming mine in the 2000s during a time of hiring expansion, when women were not perceived as taking jobs from men. 'They redefined what it was to be a good miner away from this very hyperbolic masculine image,' she said. 'A good miner was someone who cared for their co-workers. They were responsible. These were issues that women could also embody.'"

From "The ‘Manly’ Jobs Problem" by Susan Chira in the NYT (which is mostly about the sexual harassment of women who take jobs that are traditionally done by men).

"Oh, sweetie. Bless your heart. Lie still while we sink our claws into you."

Say Tom & Lorenzo blogging an introduction to this week's podcast:
First, we roll up our sleeves and harrumph ALL OVER the buzz-heavy (among the gay twitterati) Attitude magazine opinion piece charmingly titled “YOUNG QUEER PEOPLE SHOULDN’T BE OBLIGED TO CARE ABOUT LGBT HISTORY – AND THAT’S THE BIGGEST SIGN OF SUCCESS THERE IS.”... After we get done launching our volleys into the Great Gay Generational War of 2018....
The young guy they tear into is Dylan Jones, and let's see what's at that link:
Shame is largely a thing of the past and homophobia is, like, SO 2008.... Things still aren’t perfect. Of course, discrimination - particularly transphobia - is still rife in many schools.... But it’s way better than it used to be....  these kids have started to hit their late teens and early twenties, a sort of super-race has emerged, blinking, into 2018’s Instagram-hued social and professional stratosphere....

There seems to be an attitude among older generations of LGBTQ people, particularly older gay men, that their younger counterparts are “losing sight of the issues.”.... It must be hard to swallow, after going through such struggles, to see young, chatty, confident gay men swanning about like they own the place....

According to these self-appointed sanctioners, we’re allowed to fight for our rights, but we’re not allowed to enjoy them once we’ve got them. Instead of cracking open a Strongbow Dark Fruit and having a dance to Little Mix, we’ve got to sit back down, and somberly start drawing up plans for the next march.

All this raises the question – SHOULD young LGBTQ people care about their history? They’re certainly not obliged to. Why should they? This is just their lives. They’re existing as they should always have been allowed to exist – happily and freely. They shouldn’t be made to feel guilty, or even grateful for that....
I could say more, but I'll just say there's a big difference between:

1. Knowing history, venerating the heroes of the past, keeping vigilant about preserving liberty, and...

2. Seeing life in terms of endless grievances and yourself as a member of an identity group that must stay coalesced and ready for action.

ADDED: This controversy made me think about how we Baby Boomers grew up in the 1950s world that our parents generation suffered to create. We knew, theoretically, superficially, about the Depression and World War II, but we thought 1950s suburban American life was hollow and bland, and we just had to do something completely different.

I had 2 big problems with the Olympics opening ceremony.

1. Phony nationalities: There were way too many "Olympians" who were there because they marched under a flag that was not, in fact, their home country, and these people seemed to be mostly Americans. It was really irritating to watch these people soaking up screen time under false pretenses. There are so many countries that lack winter sports. So what?! It's the Winter Olympics. Let it be what it is.

2. All those references to "Asia" in the script: The NBC announcers had a script to read as the dance/theater extravaganza unfolded, and for some reason, instead of telling us about how the various costumes, symbols, movements, and projections said something about Korea, they kept saying things like "and Asia," "and all over Asia," and "and Asian people in general." Why?! Asia's a big place, with culture and history that didn't take place in one united whole group (even though at one point we were told that Asians really believe in the importance of the group, and we were told that dancers, dancing together, prove what people can do if they work as a group (the implication being that individualism is non-Asian)). Was that South Korea's idea, some subtle way to include North Korea without saying it outright, or was this some NBC idiocy cooked up for Americans?

I haven't read any reviews yet, but now I will. I just want to see how much the 2 things that annoyed me annoyed the professional critics.

The AP article "What NBC talked about at Olympics opening ceremony, and what it didn’t" doesn't talk about my 2 problems but raises this one, which I'd forgotten:
We get that Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White are two of the biggest stars heading into the games, but even [NBC announcer Mike] Tirico seemed to get sick of NBC flashing pictures of them. “There’s Lindsey one more time,” he said. “Getting some major camera time and not shy about it.” She doesn’t own the cameras, Mike.
And AP raises something else I just didn't know about because it's about something we didn't hear about:NBC didn't mention it: "Two-time Olympic speedskating champion Shani Davis’ anger at losing a coin toss to determine the flag bearer for the United States, and his decision not to attend the opening ceremony." That links to a more detailed article, here:
Davis and luger Erin Hamlin tied 4-4 in voting by fellow athletes to carry the flag. Hamlin won the honor in a coin toss, a process the 35-year-old speedskater said was executed “dishonorably” in a post on his Twitter account. His tweet included a hashtag mentioning Black History Month, which raised the question of whether the five-time Olympian was suggesting that race played a role in the decision. Davis is black, Hamlin is white....

Davis has trained separately from his U.S. teammates for years, including the last two summers in South Korea. In a Feb. 6 blog post he wrote for TeamUSA.org, Davis explained that he chose to complete his pre-Olympic preparations in Germany while the U.S. team had its camp in Milwaukee.
He should be honored, under the circumstance, to have received as many votes as he did. What was going on there? And then he complains about losing a coin toss. That's got to be the ultimate in poor sportsmanship.

Here's the NYT analysis, "Winter Olympics 2018 Opening Ceremony: Highlights and Analysis":
Vice President Mike Pence waved at the huge American contingent — at 242 it is the largest for any country at any Winter Games. The United States also got the chance to walk out to “Gangnam Style,” by far the most successful Korean pop song ever.
I enjoyed hearing "Gangnam Style," but thought it was politically incorrect to be playing the words "Hey, sexy lady" as athletes marched.

USA Today leans on social media with "What viewers thought of the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony." This lamely collects mentions of "Tongan shirtless guy," which is almost a gesture at my problem #1. Now, I've got to give this post my "MSM reports what's in social media" tag.

Deadline Hollywood has "Olympics Opening Ceremony: Katie Couric & Mike Tirico Prove Gold For NBC," which gets a close to seeing my problem #2:
[NBC Olympics contributor Joshua Cooper] Ramo seemed intent on delivering the pummeling gravitas that characterized the worst aspects of Bob Costas’ long Olympic commentator reign. Dropping generic Otto von Bismarck and cul-de-sac explanations of Korean and Asian culture, Ramos seemed to be striving for purpose most of the night. Answering a question from Couric early on about the significance of the joint Koreas entrance at the Opening Ceremony, his response of “It’s going to be one of these unforgettable, electric, historical moments. But what we honestly don’t know yet is why it’s historic” was more pabulum than political insight.
Here's Variety, "The Opening Ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games Finds Poetry Amid the Politics." The critic here, Maureen Ryan, sees something of the "Asian" problem that bothered me:
As athletes excitedly entered the stadium, Tirico, Couric and analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo offered tidbits about the histories of individuals or nations, and not all of those factoids were upbeat. As they bantered, they didn’t step on each other and they shared a polite, calm liveliness, but I did get tired of the endless generalities from Ramo about what constituted “Asian” culture, which felt about as deep as a Wikipedia entry.
I didn't mention the costumes, but here's "Ranking every piece of Team USA’s Winter Olympics opening ceremony outfit," putting the bandana in 8th (last) place and the gloves in 7th. I loved the gloves, which I associated with cowboys, but this article says they were "very close to crossing the line between being 'inspired by' traditional Native American clothing and completely crossing over into cultural appropriation." And I see the jacket's self-heating technology is the kind they put in car seats. I could use that, but I don't think I'd like it in my jacket alone. If it weren't also in my shoes and mittens, I think I'd end up colder and, simultaneously, hotter.

February 9, 2018

At the Big Snow Café...


... finally, it looks like winter. Enjoy the conversation. (And think of shopping at Amazon through the Althouse Portal.)

"American Spies Gave $100,000 to Russian Who Wanted to Sell Material on Trump."

The NYT reports.
The cash, delivered in a suitcase to a Berlin hotel room in September, was intended as the first installment of a $1 million payout, according to American officials, the Russian and communications reviewed by The New York Times. The theft of the secret hacking tools had been devastating to the N.S.A., and the agency was struggling to get a full inventory of what was missing.

Several American intelligence officials said they made clear that they did not want the Trump material from the Russian, who was suspected of having murky ties to Russian intelligence and to Eastern European cybercriminals. He claimed the information would link the president and his associates to Russia. Instead of providing the hacking tools, the Russian produced unverified and possibly fabricated information involving Mr. Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data.

The United States intelligence officials said they cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord inside the American government. They were also fearful of political fallout in Washington if they were seen to be buying scurrilous information on the president....

"Utah mom upset after school tells 6th graders they can’t say no when asked to dance."

Fox 13 Salt Lake City reports.
“The teacher said she... has to say yes. She has to accept and I said, 'Excuse me,” [Natalie] Richard tells Fox 13..... "[The principal] basically just said they’ve had this dance set up this way for a long time and they’ve never had any concern before,” she said of his response....

“I do see it from their perspective [of kindness and inclusiveness]... but there are many other ways to teach children how to be accepting than with a social dance,” Richard counters....

“Sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say 'yes'; sends a bad message to boys that girls can’t say 'no,'" Richard said.... “Psychologically, my daughter keeps coming to me and saying I can’t say 'no' to a boy," she said. "That’s the message kids are getting."
I'll reserve my comment so as not to prejudice the answers to this poll:

Who is right and wrong here?
pollcode.com free polls

"Real life is beginning to mimic college tribunals. When the perpetrator of an anonymous list accusing dozens of men of a whole range of sexual misdeeds..."

"... is actually celebrated by much of mainstream media (see this fawning NYT profile), you realize that we are living in another age of the Scarlet Letter. Moira Donegan has yet to express misgivings about possibly smearing the innocent — because the cause is far more important than individual fairness. Besides, if they’re innocent, they’ll be fine! Ezra Klein has openly endorsed campus rules that could frame some innocent men. One of the tweets in response to some of my recent writing on this has stuck in my mind ever since: 'can anyone justify why the POSSIBLE innocence of men is so much more important than the DEFINITE safety and comfort of women?' And yet this principle of preferring ten guilty people to go free rather than one innocent person to be found guilty was not so long ago a definition of Western civilization.... The goal of our culture now is not the emancipation of the individual from the group, but the permanent definition of the individual by the group. We used to call this bigotry. Now we call it being woke. You see: We are all on campus now."

From "We All Live on Campus Now" by Andrew Sullivan at New York Magazine.

Day 2 accomplished. Beginning Day 3.

Of not clicking to Facebook.

I feel so clean and fresh!!

"Where's my daily dose of dossiosity?"

Overheard at Meadhouse.

"Hollywood producer Jill Messick, who was Rose McGowan's manager in 1997 at the time the actor alleges Harvey Weinstein raped her, took her own life on Wednesday in Los Angeles."

"The family of Messick, age 50, released a statement on Thursday confirming that the studio head had committed suicide. Messick's family revealed the executive had suffered privately from depression and at least one manic episode, in an essay that was intensely critical of Weinstein, McGowan and the press, saying their loved one 'became collateral damage in an already horrific story.' 'Words matter,' the statement read. 'Someone’s life may depend on it.' This comes after the January 30 release of McGowan's book, Brave, which claims Messick did little to help her after she confided in her about the alleged attack by Weinstein."

Reports The Daily Mail.

ADDED: From the WaPo article on the subject:
McGowan writes in her book that after the alleged rape, one of her first calls was to Messick. Messick “counseled me to see it as something that would help my career in the long run,” McGowan writes. “I threw up. I felt like I was in a fun house and all the mirrors were reflecting my horrors. And my manager’s instinct was to squash everything, which just freaked me out more. How could she not have known? And if she did, how could the woman I trusted with my life set me up? I was terrified.”...

“When we met up the following day, she hesitantly told me of her own accord that during the meeting that night before she had gotten into a hot tub with Mr. Weinstein. She was very clear about the fact that getting into that hot tub was something that she did consensually and that in hindsight it was also something that she regretted having done,” Messick is quoted as saying.

According to Messick’s family, the quotes came from an email she sent to Weinstein months before the allegations came out against him. The legal team chose to release the email without Messick’s consent, her family said.

“Seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person’s attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey’s desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her,” the family’s statement read. Messick, they said, “chose to remain silent in the face of Rose’s slanderous statements against her for fear of undermining the many individuals who came forward in truth. What makes Rose’s inaccurate accusations and insinuations against Jill ironic was that she was the first person who stood up on Rose’s behalf, and alerted her bosses to the horrific experience which Rose suffered,” the family stated.

Oh, Bette...

ADDED: A poll, which assumes you understand the context:

Your reaction to Bette Midler's joke:
pollcode.com free polls

"California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia — whose high-profile advocacy of the #MeToo movement earned her national media notice — is herself the subject of a state legislative investigation in the wake of a report that she sexually harassed and groped a former legislative staffer."

Politico reports.
But Daniel Fierro of Cerritos told POLITICO that in 2014, as a 25-year-old staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon, he was groped by Garcia, a powerful Democratic lawmaker who chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee. He said she cornered him alone after the annual Assembly softball game in Sacramento as he attempted to clean up the dugout. Fierro, who said Garcia appeared inebriated, said she began stroking his back, then squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch before he extricated himself and quickly left....

[And a] prominent Sacramento lobbyist says she also accosted him in May 2017... at a fundraiser hosted by Governor Jerry Brown for state Senator Josh Newman at the de Veres bar in Sacramento. He said he was heading out the door in part to avoid the assemblywoman... She spotted him and said,“Where are you going?” the lobbyist said. “She came back... She looked at me for a second and said, 'I’ve set a goal for myself to fuck you.'"

At that point, Garcia “stepped in front of me and reaches out and is grabbing for my crotch,’’ he said. That was “the line in the sand,” according to the lobbyist, and he stopped her. “I was four inches from her, eyeball to eyeball -- and I said, ‘That ain’t gonna happen.’”

"I was told, yes, he was deeply flawed, but then again so was I. And so I worked on myself and stayed."

"If he was a monster all the time, perhaps it would have been easier to leave. But he could be kind and sensitive. And so I stayed. He cried and apologized. And so I stayed. He offered to get help and even went to a few counseling sessions and therapy groups. And so I stayed. He belittled my intelligence and destroyed my confidence. And so I stayed. I felt ashamed and trapped."

Wrote Jennie Willoughby, last April.

Via Emily Yoffe at Twitter, who says "This statement by one of the ex-wives of Rob Porter, now former White House staffer, describes so well what it's like to be with an abuser and what makes you stay. I know because I've been there. If you're there, please get help and get out!"

ADDED: I'm seeing at the Jennie Willoughby site, that you can "Book Jennie" and that she does "Teaching & Speaking" with "Mindfulness/Meditation group lessons," "Corporate Training workshops," and "Resiliency/Learning keynote talks" in which you can "Hear me tell my story and inspire you to dig deeper as you recognize the beauty of life unfolding, adversity and all."

It's incredibly hard to think about what goes on inside a marriage, especially when you're listening to the story one participant chooses to take public after the marriage breaks up. In the case of Rob Porter, to attack him is also to go with flow of the torrent of raging attacks on the President of the United States and roiling #MeToo accusations.

Willoughby did, apparently, publish her statement last April, before #MeToo took off, but long after the presidential election, which was heavily focused on accusations of sexual harassment against Trump.

AND: At The Washington Post, "‘Your story is mine’: Rob Porter’s ex, Jennie Willoughby, inspires outpouring from abuse survivors." Excerpt:
“This could have been me writing the article,” one poster [i.e., commenter at Willoughby's post] wrote. “OMG, your story is mine also . . . for 19 years. Yes, we stay, and we hurt, and we try,” another added. “[A]nd others don’t see it, so we are alone.”...

“Outside the house he was Mr. GQ, an Associate Director at one of our federal agencies,” one poster said. “At home, he terrorized me and our children. He belittled me, called me names, told me I had no friends, told me I was stupid, unattractive, evil, that I’d never make it on my own, a lousy mother, a lousy wife, a crack addict (never seen it), ad nauseum.”

Another stated: “I was attractive, well educated and confident; people can never understand why I stayed. He was charming, in a boy next door kind of way, and everyone loved him; people have a hard time believing that he wasn’t always so wonderful. Your ability to explain that he was not just some horrible person and you were not just a victim, was very accurate and left me in tears.”

February 8, 2018

At the All-Day-and-All-of-the-Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night and all of the day.

"Our enemy... has finally shattered the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves."

50 years ago today: Robert F. Kennedy gave a speech to tell America that it could not win the war in Vietnam. This screen grab — click to enlarge and clarify — is from page 12 of the NYT 1/9/68:

"I think the blog is pretty good today, but I think readers want something on the dossier. They want more dossiosity."

Said I, aloud, just now.

Why do all the women on TV wear their hair like that?

Ah! Someone has answered my question. This has been driving me nuts.

Julia Rubin at Racked (writing in 2016):
It doesn't matter if you watch a little TV or a lot of TV, dramas or comedies, network shows or Netflix, you've likely noticed a startling trend. An epidemic, if you will. Everyone (well, every woman) on TV has the same damn hair. The same straight-up-top, loose-curls-on-bottom hair.

There's also this, from Emily Witt at the NYT from a year ago:
I judge television shows by the women’s hair. It turns out this is a binary judgment: Either the women have TV hair, or they don’t. What is TV hair? It’s shiny, long, has obviously been styled with a curling iron at the ends, and looks like that of a beauty pageant contestant. (The style is known as “The Cosmo” in the parlance of Drybar, the blowout salon that has more than 70 locations across America.)

It is also ubiquitous... The haircut transforms all television heroines into variations on an ur-woman. Who is she, this feminine ideal? Where does this hair exist in the wild?....

But there is a direct correlation between some of the best television shows and female characters whose hair does not conform.... In fact, the less sleek the hair, the more likely a show will have a memorable female protagonist....
This kind of hair — "The Cosmo"/TV hair — is something I associate with the 1950s, before the early 60s period of highly teased bouffants, which were ousted by "the natural look" in all its many forms (as celebrated in the musical "Hair"). I thought that 1950s hair would never come back, and now, it won't go away. I remember it as having been called "bedroom hair" and, to me, it looks completely unprofessional and dumbly subordinate. It's especially awful seeing it on newswomen.

Day 2 of resisting clicking to Facebook.

One day at a time.

"While some have praised the plucky scout for figuring out where the demand would probably be, the Girl Scouts organization has been wrestling with..."

"... how to handle marijuana-adjacent sales as more states have legalized the drug. Girls who wheel carts full of cookies are generally free to travel where they please with their parents, even if that path takes them past marijuana shops, but there are often stricter rules around where to set up booths or stands. There are no nationwide policies related to marijuana dispensaries. Each local organization sets its own policies."

From "A Girl Scout Sold 300 Boxes of Cookies Near a Marijuana Shop" (NYT).

Here's the marijuana shop's Instagram, which forced the Girl Scouts to confront the problem of the cookie-eating/marijuana connection:

Should the marijuana business be allowed to appropriate the wholesomeness of Girl Scouts for its own self-promotion? But I'd like to talk about how the cookie business has appropriated the Girl Scout brand all these years. It's not as though cookies are good for you.

What's more damaging to your body? (Exclude health damage attributable to the quasi-illegality of marijuana, such as anxiety about breaking the law or spending time in prison.)
pollcode.com free polls

"People who would like to become physically stronger should start with weight training and add protein to their diets..."

Writes Gretchen Reynolds in the NYT:
[A] comprehensive scientific review of research... finds that eating more protein, well past the amounts currently recommended, can significantly augment the effects of lifting weights, especially for people past the age of 40....
I'm very interested to read that this morning. I was just getting my breakfast — coffee with milk and peanut butter on toast — and noticing, suddenly, that I'd unintentionally turned into a vegetarian.

Here's the second-highest rated comment at the NYT:
There has never been a reported case of protein deficiency. This is a persistent myth perpetrated by the meat and dairy industries. You can get all the protein you need from plant foods. So many athletes and body builders are now eating whole food plant-based diets and report being stronger, have more energy and feel better. Articles like this are infuriating because they cause more confusion for a public already being hoodwinked and bamboozled by the food industry.
The highest-rated comment worries about damage to the kidneys from too much protein. I did immediately notice a 2016 article linked in the sidebar: "Can You Get Too Much Protein?" ("Studies show that protein-rich diets do not preserve muscle mass over the long term, and doctors have long cautioned that a high-protein diet can lead to kidney damage in those who harbor silent kidney disease by putting extra strain on the kidneys. Up to one in three Americans are at risk for kidney impairment because of high blood pressure or diabetes, according to the National Kidney Foundation.")

I love this Edward Steed comic, imagining Trump as just a regular guy in New York.

In the New Yorker. Steed uses real Trump quotes and an excellent crude style of painting Trump and sticking him into photographs of ordinary New York places. Sample panel:

"The most obvious fix would have been to buffet the paper upward from below using a device called an air knife."

"This was off limits, however, because the bottom side was coated with loose toner. 'An air knife will just blow the toner right off,' Ruiz said. Another possibility was to place 'fingers'—small, projecting pieces of plastic—where they could support the corners as they began to droop. 'That might create a higher jam rate on different paper shapes,' an engineer said—it could be a 'stub point.' A mystified silence descended. A mechanical engineer named Dave Breed pointed toward the upside-down conveyor belt. 'The vacuum pump actually works by pulling air through holes in the belts,' he said. 'So what is the pattern of those holes relative to the corners? Maybe there’s no suction there.' On the whiteboard, Ruiz sketched a diagram of the conveyor belt—the V.P.T., or vacuum-paper transport—showing the holes through which the suction operated. 'Optimize belt pattern,' he wrote. 'If my understanding of air systems is right,' Breed went on, 'then the force that gets a sheet moving isn’t really pressure—it’s flow.'... By this point, Ruiz appeared to be vibrating. 'Here’s a stupid idea,' he said. 'Bernoulli!'"

This is why I love The New Yorker. Every once in a while it will get me to read — with interest and amusement — about something I wouldn't have thought about let alone thought I could get interested in.

This article is "Why Paper Jams Persist/A trivial problem reveals the limits of technology" by Joshua Rothman.

My all-time favorite New Yorker article like that is from 2014: "In Deep/The dark and dangerous world of extreme cavers" by Burkhard Bilger.

And I must admit that the only reason I actually do get into these articles is because I subscribe to an audio version of the magazine and don't have the option to observe that this might be one of those arcane, interesting things I love so much and then just keep flipping the page, vaguely intending to return and make a go of it.

"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."

Who said that? The correct answer is fake Mark Twain.

The quote came up in conversation this morning (as we were discussing what we don't know about the 2016 election), and I guessed it was one of those quotes that got the name Mark Twain attached to  it to boost its worth and because it sounded like something Mark Twain might say.

I see it was used on a title card beginning the movie "The Big Short," which I didn't see, so the problem of the fake attribution to Mark Twain was timely 2 years ago and discussed at The New Republic, here:
In fact, as far as I can tell no one said that exact quote. According to Quote Investigator, the quote should be attributed to Josh Billings, who in 1874 wrote this in what is perhaps best described as “Krazy Kat English”:
A) I honestly beleave it iz better tew know nothing than two know what ain’t so.
B) Wisdum don’t konsist in knowing more that iz new, but in knowing less that iz false.
Insanely, the book "The Big Short" begins with a (correct) quote from Leo Tolstoy:
“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.”
I guess the Tolstoy quote was too long and unfamiliar to expect a movie audience to sit there and read. How long would the quote need to remain on screen? I think when there's a longish text — since you don't know how long they'll leave it up — you get nervous that it will be taken away before you're done and that nervousness makes it even harder to read. And that Tolstoy quote stokes further anxiety with the early appearance of the phrase "the most slow-witted man." Oh, no! What if I'm too slow-witted to read as fast as this movie thinks people should be able to read! 

The fake Mark Twain quote is familiar, and you need only look at it to remember it and know what it means. And that's how fake beats real. Ironically, that makes the quote about falsity more true. And explains why Donald Trump speaks the way he does.

Who, when asked what religion are you now, said: "Now? Nothing. I'm a writer. I like doing things alone"?

Answer: James Baldwin.

I'm reading about James Baldwin as a consequence of reading something in the current news — Vulture — which is almost too scurrilous to mention. Quote from The Vulture (to go from the highest quality to the lowest quality remark): "Brando used to go cha-cha dancing with us. He could dance his ass off. He was the most charming motherfucker you ever met. He’d fuck anything. Anything! He’d fuck a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye." That's Quincy Jones, who also said: "Trump is just telling [people] what they want to hear. I used to hang out with him. He’s a crazy motherfucker. Limited mentally — a megalomaniac, narcissistic. I can’t stand him. I used to date Ivanka, you know.... Yes, sir. Twelve years ago. Tommy Hilfiger, who was working with my daughter Kidada, said, 'Ivanka wants to have dinner with you.' I said, 'No problem. She’s a fine motherfucker.' She had the most beautiful legs I ever saw in my life. Wrong father, though."

Sorry to burden you with all that, but I was interested in the idea that to be a writer means doing things alone — and that means not wanting it in your head that God is with you (which is a different  issue from whether there really is a God).

February 7, 2018

At the Peel-and-Stick Café...


... you can keep warm all night.

(And you can buy peel-and-stick body warmers at Amazon if you can't get out to your local hardware store. Remember The Althouse Portal to Amazon. It helps keep this blog peeling and sticking and warm.)

"Porn Literacy, which began in 2016 and is the focus of a pilot study, was created in part by Emily Rothman, an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health..."

"... who has conducted several studies on dating violence, as well as on porn use by adolescents. She told me that the curriculum isn’t designed to scare kids into believing porn is addictive, or that it will ruin their lives and relationships and warp their libidos. Instead it is grounded in the reality that most adolescents do see porn and takes the approach that teaching them to analyze its messages is far more effective than simply wishing our children could live in a porn-free world."

From "What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn/American adolescents watch much more pornography than their parents know — and it’s shaping their ideas about pleasure, power and intimacy. Can they be taught to see it more critically?" by Maggie Jones in the NYT.

"Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because 'potus wants to know everything we're doing."

"According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama's personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation."

From "FBI lovers' latest text messages: Obama 'wants to know everything'" (Fox News).

"The whole story is basically that Facebook gets so much traffic that they started convincing publishers to post things on Facebook."

"For a long time, that was fine. People posted things on Facebook, then you would click those links and go to their websites. But then, gradually, Facebook started exerting more and more control of what was being seen, to the point that they, not our website, essentially became the main publishers of everyone’s content. Today, there’s no reason to go to a comedy website that has a video if that video is just right on Facebook. And that would be fine if Facebook compensated those companies for the ad revenue that was generated from those videos, but because Facebook does not pay publishers, there quickly became no money in making high-quality content for the internet.... Facebook has created a centrally designed internet. It’s a lamer, shittier looking internet. It’s just not as cool as an internet that is a big, chaotic space filled with tons of independently operating websites who are able to make a living because they make something cool that people want to see.... "

Writes Sarah Aswell in "How Facebook Is Killing Comedy" at Splitsider.

What happens when (if) no one but Facebook makes money from writing, video, and photography? Perhaps there is some beauty in the leveling, with all of us simply expressing ourselves in pure amateurism. But Facebook is still making money and making decisions about how things will be served up to readers — what will be highlighted and what will be pushed down into oblivion.

I'm resisting the vortex of Facebook, but I know a few former bloggers who've moved their work onto Facebook. Some of that has to do with the fact that they never tried to monetize their blog at all (or tried and failed). But I think these are people who would prefer an independent blog — making no money — if only they had good traffic. So people migrate to Facebook, which gives the impression that there are a lot of people present, and they accept that all the money to be made goes to Facebook.

I, one of the holdouts, have good traffic on this blog and I have it monetized to some degree — not enough to live comfortably if it were my only income, but enough to make me feel that it's money that should come to me and not get redirected to Facebook. But I'm happy with the amateurism of writing as long as it is read, and it feels all-important to me that I'm writing in this separate place — my place — and I decide what goes on top.

"The 'Kill Bill' script called for Uma Thurman to be spit on by co-star Michael Madsen, but Quentin Tarantino was the one who did it."

"He didn’t trust anyone else to spit right. 'I’m the director, so I can kind of art direct this spit,' Tarantino told Deadline on Monday. 'I know where I want it to land. I’m right next to the camera. So, boom! I do it.'... And the choking? Tarantino claims it was Thurman’s idea to have the chain — which in the movie is thrown at the Bride by Gogo (Chiaki Kuriyama) — actually wrap around her neck and choke her. 'Not forever, not for a long time,' he said of how he did it. 'But it’s not going to look right [without really doing it]. I can act all strangle-ey, but if you want my face to get red and the tears to come to my eye, then you kind of need to choke me.'"

Peeling ice from a leaf.

"Russia has rigorously maximized the possibilities of the points system."

In figure skating, the NYT reports in "Success of Russia’s Female Figure Skaters Takes a Toll in Injuries and Stress":
For instance, a 10 percent bonus is awarded for each jump in the second half of a routine, when skaters’ legs are tired. Zagitova does all of her jumps in the second half of her routine. Medvedeva performs several of her jumps with one arm above her head to increase the difficulty.

In Russia’s centralized training system, where a number of top skaters practice together and push each other daily, girls as young as 10, 11 or 12 are performing a number of challenging jumps requiring three revolutions. It is easier to jump before the body matures and fills out after puberty. Alexandra Trusova, who won the junior Grand Prix final in December, can land a quadruple Salchow, even if imperfectly, at age 13.

Yet, while young bodies are flexible and resilient, they are still growing and can be susceptible to injuries to the joints and soft tissue....
Child abuse?

Quite aside from Russia, how much of what we impose/encourage on children is damaging to their growing bodies (and minds) and properly recognized as abuse?

Also, I'm interested in the technicalities of the points system, which I believe was created as a remedy to the perceived abuses of judicial bias. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

I posted something last night without comment, and in the morning, it's obvious what I failed to say.

Here's what I just added to last night's "Another scary day..." (which embedded a Scott Adams tweet, "It’s another scary day for the people who can’t tell when President Trump is joking" about the serious handwringing over Trump's adoption of the word "treasonous" to describe Democrats who didn't applaud during his State of the Union Address):
It can be scary even when you recognize that he was joking. 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.
Wasn't this scary — even though you know it's a joke?

And — in a would-be President — this:

IN THE COMMENTS: Matthew Sablan said:
I thought it was bad form to joke about auditing your enemies too. But for the most part, no one really cared. Even when Obama's enemies started getting audited. I still think it is bad form to joke about treason, but Trump has never been one to hold himself to rules his opponents won't follow.
I cared about Obama's joke. It was terrible, despicable, and I would have been outraged by the joke on top of the joke It’s another scary day for the people who can’t tell when President Obama is joking.

Here's the video of Obama making the joke to cheers and laughter at Arizona State University in 2009.

ADDED: It's clear to me that Obama must have thought the joke was good because it's making fun of the overstatements of his critics. They are ridiculous to accuse him the way they do, so his talking like them is funny.

I'm skeptical...

I noticed that yesterday was Ronald Reagan's birthday, but I didn't put up a post because I didn't see anything interesting enough to blog.

But I'm seeing this now:

How does that picture, as blogged now by President Trump, make you feel? Pick the answer that's closest:
pollcode.com free polls

The Ash Wednesday on Valentine's Day problem.

Today is not Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is next week, on February 14th, Valentine's Day. Both days on the same day hasn't happened since 1945. Does this have any significance to you? Let me do a quick poll to see where we are in the discussion I want to begin:

Where are you vis a vis the Ash Wednesday on Valentine's Day problem:
pollcode.com free polls

Reading a few news articles, I see that practicing Catholics are supposed to fast on Ash Wednesday. I believe going out to dinner is the traditional way to observe Valentine's Day, so those 2 traditions are in stark conflict. One could easily move the restaurant dinner to another day, fast, and do something else romantic for Valentine's Day. In fact, you'd probably be better off generally on Valentine's Day by doing something other than going out to a restaurant, and the challenge to be a little creative romantically might do you some good.

Oh, but wait. I'm not Catholic. It's just sinking in for me that "fast" means don't eat meat (and eat only one "full meal"). I think! So you can do the usual restaurant meal. Just be careful what you order. But there are so many days when we skip meat. The challenging conflict here is the contrasting tone of the 2 days. Here, one woman is quoted:
"Ash Wednesday reminds us of what we're born out of. We were born out of dust and we will return to dust when we go back to our heavenly father.... I think it's difficult for some people, but for me, I think all the Lord's sufferings that He did for us, that it's just a minor sacrifice that we could do for Him to fast for that day.... I told my husband we're going to do Valentine's Day on the 13th and have our chocolate then because I love chocolate."
Some Catholics are looking at whether there will be "a dispensation.":
Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, told Catholics in his diocese... “A dispensation will not be given,” he wrote, stressing that this decision was “out of respect for the importance of Ash Wednesday in the lives of so many – including our non-Catholic brethren – and the way this custom underlines the importance of the Lenten season at its outset.”...

The Archdiocese of Chicago... suggested celebrating Valentine’s Day on Mardi Gras: “A traditionally festive time before beginning our Lenten observance.”

“Catholics throughout the world recognize Ash Wednesday as the solemn beginning of a period of prayerful reflection and penance, as is evident by the large number of churchgoers on this day,” the archdiocese said, stressing that the day’s “obligation of fast and abstinence must naturally be the priority in the Catholic community.”
Aside from fasting and the solemn mood of Ash Wednesday, there is the ritual of receiving ashes. It's hard for me to picture someone taking Ash Wednesday seriously enough to receive ashes and then attempting to make something of Valentine's Day, but maybe I'm misunderstanding how people think and feel about the ashes. Perhaps you think you've done that ritual and you're good to go, as long as you don't violate any of the other rules (like eating meat). But I would think you're supposed to get into the mood symbolized by the ashes and carry it through the day and, to a lesser degree, through the entire season of Lent.

This post was inspired by the thought, on waking up this morning: I need to stay away from Facebook. Does Lent begin today? I could give up Facebook for Lent. 

February 6, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

The Mountain.

Another scary day...

ADDED: It can be scary even when you recognize that he was joking. 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.

"Minnesota bakery's unique cake goes viral after people mistake it for female body part."

Says the Minnesota Star Tribute.

"Late in life an artless man has learned that he could leave his linguistic fly unzipped and life would go on. It may not be pretty, but it isn't a sign that his pants are going to fall down."

Concludes the linguist John McWhorter in "What Trump’s Speech Says About His Mental Fitness."

The explanation of the coherence of Trump's casual spoken-word style is excellent, with detailed analysis of a passage that might prompt haters to say "word salad!" but that McWhorter mapped like this:
That fly unzipped metaphor at the end might seem crude and anti-Trumpish, but the gist of the article is that Trump is relaxed and spontaneous, using "parataxis" rather than "hypotaxis." Both involve long sentences. Parataxis is a stringing together of short simple clauses, and hypotaxis is structured with subordinated clauses. You can rewrite a transcript of Trump's spoken word into something that would look like the typical way intelligent educated people write and some trying-too-hard people speak, but it's wrong to think Trump is mentally deficient for speaking the way he does.

What did Indra Nooyi, the chief executive of PepsiCo, say about "Lady Doritos"?

She was on the Freakonomics podcast, the NYT reports, and she said that women "don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously, and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth." Asked whether her company was planning "a male and female version of chips," she said:
“It’s not a male and female as much as, ‘Are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?’ And yes, we are looking at it, and we’re getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon. For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.”
When The Sun turned that into a story about a real product, "Lady Doritos," the internet went wild, criticizing, mocking, whatever. You can see some examples at the link and more at #LadyDoritos. It made me wonder if Nooyi is savvy enough to be masterminding virality to launch a new product.

A spokeswoman did say — about whether there's a new product designed to appeal to women — "I can’t yet give any more details beyond what Indra relayed in the podcast. However, I will be able to in a few months."

Anyway, the reaction on Twitter is humorous...

... and humorously unhumorous:

"I live among educated liberals in a diverse academic setting. Although the #MeToo backlash has a voice online..."

"... it has no voice in real life, in my opinion. It is not possible to talk about any nuance right now, for fear of retribution or being marked backwards. In my circles, the only permitted response is to nod quietly in full support of #MeToo and #TimesUp. Saying anything about it, trying to understand context, inject nuance, etc. is about as welcome as suggesting that another person comb their child's hair differently."

Writes a commenter named Tamarine Hautmarche on a NYT op-ed "Go Ahead, Criticize #MeToo" by Michelle Goldberg, which is reacting to the Katie Roiphe piece in Harper's, "The Other Whisper Network/How Twitter feminism is bad for women."

I haven't read the Roiphe piece, even though I'd noticed it the other day. I didn't remember the big controversy about it, though I had blogged about it a few weeks ago. (It involved the possible outing of the author of "Shitty Media Men"). And, in fact, I can't read it now unless I buy a Harper's subscription.

Anyway, Goldberg thinks people, including Katie Roiphe, are overdoing their expressions of fear about on-line mobs. Even though "social media is a grotesque netherworld of bad faith and cruelty," they can still speak, because look at all of the expressions of "discomfort with #MeToo" that are out there.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court... said Tuesday that a state agency that oversees public employee union recertification elections can delay the release of voter records to prevent voter intimidation."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
Government openness advocates warned that the ruling could have a broad impact on the public's right to know how its government works because it allows records custodians to consider the perceived motivations of requestors when determining whether to release records....

But the court's majority, led by Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, said ... "The public interest in elections that are free from intimidation and coercion outweighs the public interest in favor of open records," Roggensack wrote, "under the circumstances presented in the case before us."...

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, joined by Justice Shirley Abrahamson [wrote] "this concocted concern is based solely on one uninvestigated and unsubstantiated complaint from Racine County, involving a different union, in a different election, in a different year, that did not involve a public records request."

Must a lottery winner reveal her name? A woman who won $560 million is suing to keep her name private.

WaPo reports. You see the conflicting interests here. The woman wants to maintain control of her life, and the government wants to use her identity and smiling giant-check-holding image to promote the lottery.
“She is a longtime resident of New Hampshire and is an engaged community member,” the woman’s attorney, Steven Gordon, wrote in the court documents. “She wishes to continue this work and the freedom to walk into a grocery store or attend public events without being known or targeted as the winner of a half-billion dollars.”

On one side of the case are lottery officials who say the integrity of the games depends on the public identification of its winners as a protection against fraud and malfeasance. A local woman holding up a giant check while cameras flash and reporters scrawl also happens to be a powerful marketing tool.

Rush Limbaugh thinks he's the origin of the phrase "skulls full of mush," but he's not.

Here's Rush Limbaugh exulting that "his" phrase "skulls full of mush" was used on the TV show "Hawaii Five-0" the other day:
So I’m watching the show, I’m watching the show, and I’m thinking, “Obviously some people think something happened here that I need to pay attention to.” Then I saw it. I heard it. The actor is named Chi McBride, and he portrays a member of the Five-0 squad named Lou Grover, and they have a prisoner — a bad guy — in their interrogation room where they’re running CIA enhanced-interrogation measures.

And the guy they have there is one of these New Age gurus, who is selling the secrets to eternal life and eternal health and all that. And what he really is is a drug dealer, and he’s using these acolytes of his to run drugs around the island and so forth. And they’re interrogating the guy, and here is the character Lou Grover as portrayed by Chi McBride…

MCBRIDE: You take these gullible young students out in the middle of the jungle, get ’em baked out of their minds. … You had these young skulls full of mush tripping so hard, they thought they were actually achieving enlightenment.

RUSH: “You had these young skulls full of mush tripping so hard…” Nobody would tell me what it was. I had to go find the episode and hear it. So just another phrase from the EIB Network now finding its way into the popular lexicon.
Apparently, there's a new "Hawaii Five-0." That, I did not know. But I do know that "skulls full of mush" is from "The Paper Chase," which — as a book and a movie — pre-dates the Rush Limbaugh show by at least 10 years, and it's used very conspicuously in the most well-known sequence in the movie:

Rush does indeed use the phrase, and if it comes up in a TV show script, it's possible that it it made its way into the mind of the writers via "The Rush Limbaugh Show." But if the writers have any connections to law school or lawyers — I'm tempted to research their background — then it's very likely that they know if not the whole movie then at least that "skull full of mush" clip.

Footnote: Back in 2007, I wrote about "skulls full of mush" and "The Paper Chase" in The New York Times.

"The whole bizarre situation" — of emotional support animals on airplanes — "is a reminder of why trust matters so much to a well-functioning society."

"The best solution, of course, would be based not on some Transportation Department regulation but on simple trust. People who really needed service animals could then bring on them planes without having to carry documents. Maybe a trust-based system will return at some point. But it won’t return automatically. When trust breaks down and small bits of dishonesty become normal, people need to make a conscious effort to restore basic decency."

Writes David Leonhardt in "It’s Time to End the Scam of Flying Pets" (NYT).

The best solution...

Voltaire said: The best is the enemy of the good. ("Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.")

I don't see how we're supposed to get to trust, when in a huge system, like airline transportation, you're always going to get some cheaters and it doesn't take many — 1%? — to create a problem like the one symbolized by Dexter the emotional-support peacock (picture at the NYT link).

And I'm not convinced trust is the answer. People need to be observant and skeptical.

I'll quote John Stuart Mill now: "Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing."

"This market decline so far has returned the market roughly to its level in mid-December, less than two months ago."

"The 7.8 percent drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 over the last six trading days is similar in scale and speed to drops in January 2016 and August 2015, neither of which left lasting scars, and is short of the 10 percent drop that would qualify as a market correction. But some common cognitive errors are making this sell-off seem more dramatic than it is.... The Dow fell by 1,175 points Monday, which represents a quite large 4.6 percent decline. But while it was the biggest single-day point decline, there were steeper percentage declines on several occasions during the global financial crisis and its aftermath, not to mention the 508- point drop in the Dow in 1987 that represented a 22.6 percent market crash."

From "Context Matters. The Stock Market Drop Is Less Scary Than It Seems/It can be easy to be misled by big point swings after a long period of quiet in global markets," by Neil Irwin in the NYT.

Making fun of the "mancold" — it's sexist but it's okay because it's against men.

And a man is doing the fun-making, showing his alliance with women. It's Max Read in the "Style" section of NYT in "Have You Heard? This Guy Has a Cold":
“Men 10,000 percent are babies about getting sick,” one female friend told me recently. “It’s like no one has ever been sick before.” Everyone seems to agree: Men are drama queens about illness. When my girlfriend’s mother heard that I was looking into what she calls the Mancold, she insisted she be interviewed to provide cross-generational testimony to its existence. “We all roll our eyes when the Mancold comes calling,” she said. “All activities come to a halt, and, much like sports, there is a continuous update, sighing and groaning.” Under the name “Man Flu,” the phenomenon has entered the Oxford English Dictionary (“A cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms”), though all things considered I suggest the more clinical and less judgmental term “Masculine Flu Drama Syndrome.”
I'd never heard this idea expressed and, hearing it, I can't think of any experience with the phenomenon. And I don't relate to this style of comic writing. It feels like something from The New Yorker in the 1940s.

But I am going to check the assertion that "'Man Flu'... has entered the Oxford English Dictionary." I search the OED. Click to enlarge:

I search the language the NYT printed and found this, which is not the Oxford English Dictionary:

What is that thing? Here, the OED website explains:
The OED and the dictionaries in Oxford Dictionaries are themselves very different. While Oxford Dictionaries focuses on the current language and practical usage, the OED shows how words and meanings have changed over time.
From the Oxford Dictionaries FAQ:
OED: Once a word enters the OED, it is never removed so it has to merit its place. We consider a word for inclusion once we have gathered independent examples from a wide variety of sources and the word has demonstrated its longevity by being in use for a reasonable amount of time – ideally 10 years, but five is the minimum. We continuously monitor developments in the English language.

oxforddictionaries.com: The process for adding words to oxforddictionaries.com is similar to that of the OED, but the turnaround time can be much faster. We're particularly concerned with monitoring and adding high-profile new technical, lifestyle, and informal vocabulary derived from corpus evidence, and we are also very interested in new meanings of existing words as well as entirely new coinages.
I wonder what other playful sexist phrases oxforddictionaries.com presents for our delectation. But "man flu" is not an entry in the immensely venerated Oxford English Dictionary!

But let's look at the things that came up under "Widen search?" (at the bottom of the first image, of my OED search). These are both — it looks like 3, but one is a repetition — in a quotation that is offered as an example of how to use another word. First, under "flu":
2010 Church Times 19 Feb. 17/1 Think of the times when you have just had a filthy cold or ‘man flu’.
And, second, under "touch":
2014 Daily Tel. 19 Dec. (Sport section) 11/1 This week I returned from our final regatta of 2014..with a touch of man flu.
A phrase is very different from a word. When does a phrase get its own dictionary entry?  Lots of us may be putting the same 2 words together at a particular time, but when should that be treated as something worthy of an OED entry? As a test, I look up "me too." It's there. Going all the way back to 1745, when Lord Chesterfield wrote, "And me, too, sweet Jesus." I don't know what he was talking about when he wrote that. Nor do I know what Herman Melville meant in "Moby-Dick" when he wrote: "Me too; where's your girls?" (I don't think there are any females in "Moby-Dick," so I'm guessing the "girls" are whales. Ah, no!)

"Trump’s Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry."

The NYT reports, and I wonder which lawyers and why they (or someone in their confidence) would leak to the NYT that they were "concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators."

Did the NYT writers (Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman) insert their own "who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself" or was that part of how their source described Trump's lawyers' concern? It makes a big difference! The lawyers could be concerned simply because prosecutors looking to charge somebody for something might lure the interviewee into useful contradictions and misstatements or because someone like Trump, with little experience listening carefully to questions and framing legalistic answers, risks too much.
Refusing to sit for an interview opens the possibility that Mr. Mueller will subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury, setting up a court fight that would drastically escalate the investigation and could be decided by the Supreme Court.
That sounds threatening — drastically escalate! — but I would love to see this issue wrestled into a sober, serious legal framework. I think a lot of people will be surprised at what they see, though most people — including most law-trained people — will obsess over the politics of the individual Justices. There will be a lot of talk of Nixon and his Watergate tapes, but Trump isn't withholding words already recorded. He's holding back what's in his mind. Even if Trump is in the end forced to submit to the interview, it's not the same as Nixon handing over the Watergate tapes. Nixon knew what was in the tapes and how it would hurt him. Trump would only need to begin to speak, and he could speak concisely and with circumspection (and the ability to resort to claims of executive privilege).
But John Dowd, the longtime Washington defense lawyer hired last summer to represent Mr. Trump in the investigation, wants to rebuff an interview request, as do Mr. Dowd’s deputy, Jay Sekulow, and many West Wing advisers, according to the four people. 
So "four people" are leaking about what Dowd and Sekulow supposedly think.
The lawyers and aides believe the special counsel might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown with the White House that Mr. Mueller could lose in court. 
I'd love to see the showdown. Maybe if Mueller thinks he's likely to lose or doesn't want to expose his arguments about executive power to the scrutiny of the court, he'll simply accept Trump's refusal to do the interview. I can see why Dowd and Sekulow would predict that outcome. And I can see why they would want their opinion to leak to the NYT, though I'm pretty sure they didn't want to see that business about the "history of making false statements and contradicting himself."
One of the few voices arguing for cooperating with Mr. Mueller is Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer whom Mr. Trump also brought on to deal with Mr. Mueller’s investigation....  Since last summer, the White House has been in what Mr. Cobb has called “total cooperation mode.”...
There could be a strategy here of exhibiting "total cooperation mode" until you have to draw the line. Mueller may decide not to go where that line would be drawn, and so Trump can continue to look like the cooperative guy with nothing to hide. We see friendly, open Trump until he turns around and fights. If you don't want fighting Trump, then you have to cooperate with him. In this case, whatever the lawyers are saying in private, we don't get to see the resistant, closed-off Trump unless and until Mueller demands that Trump speak to him. And the NYT is performing the work of reminding us that that Trump is ready to emerge: Don't provoke him!

February 5, 2018

At the No Pictures Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And if you're enjoying this blog, please think of doing your Amazon shopping through the Althouse Portal (which is always linked near the top of the sidebar).)

"The New York Times is asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to unseal secret documents related to the wiretapping of Carter Page..."

Normally, even the existence of such material is a closely guarded secret.... But President Trump lowered the shield of secrecy surrounding such materials on Friday by declassifying the Republican memo about Mr. Page, after finding that the public interest in disclosing its contents outweighed any need to protect the information. Because Mr. Trump did so, the Times argues, there is no longer a justification “for the Page warrant orders and application materials to be withheld in their entirety,” and “disclosure would serve the public interest.”
This is basically what I was saying I wanted in "How to resolve the discrepancy of opinion over the Nunes memo" (February 3):
So, it seems, the question is whether it was significantly deceptive to give the FISA court enough information to make it possible for the court to infer that the information came from people who were biased against Trump but to withhold the known and specific information that it was paid for by the Democratic National Committee or the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign....

[E]xactly how was this general information phrased? The unnamed official in the WaPo article says there was "ample disclosure" — but how much disclosure was there?... I want to know exactly what the language was and how deceptive it may have been....
AND: Andrew McCarthy (at National Review) develops another angle: The question isn't so much whether Christopher Steele was trustworthy (given who paid him) but whether his sources were corroborated. It's not enough for the FBI and the Justice Department to trust the sources because Steele is trustworthy. Steele is another investigator, not the source of the information.
From everything we have heard thus far, the FBI did not corroborate Steele’s informants. Their inflammatory allegations about Trump are acknowledged to be “salacious and unverified.” According to the Nunes memo, FBI corroboration efforts were only in their “infancy” at the time the first warrant was sought, and they never yielded anything but “minimal” verification (which may be a charitable way of putting it)....

To justify a finding of probable cause, the government must satisfy the court as to the credibility of the informant who, it is claimed, witnessed the factual transactions described in the warrant. There is no vicarious credibility: The informant’s reliability cannot be shored up by the impeccable credentials of the investigative agent. The agent is not the witness; the informant is.

The hidden oil wells of L.A.

I wouldn't say these 4 designs are that clever or amusing, but you wouldn't think you were looking at an oil well.

"A Super Bowl message from President Trump includes the phrase 'to proudly stand for the National Anthem.'"

I noticed that via "Several Eagles Players Are Already Refusing to Celebrate Super Bowl Win With Trump" in New York Magazine, where I also saw this in the sidebar (from last May): "It’s Gisele Bündchen’s Fault Tom Brady Doesn’t Eat Nightshades."

That means he doesn't eat tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers (bell and chili). What an awful limitation! But he does have a very beautiful wife....

"It is widely thought that when something is legally prohibited, it more or less stops... but it is not true for pervasive practices like sexual harassment, including rape, that are built into structural social hierarchies."

Writes Catharine A. MacKinnon in a NYT op-ed titled "#MeToo Has Done What the Law Could Not."

My thoughts in order:

1. With her signature issue, sexual harassment, so much in play this past year, why have we not seen more of Catharine MacKinnon? Was she lying low for some strategic reason? Is she retired from public activism?

2. It really is the culture that must change, whether something is against the law or not. If there's enough social pressure not to do X, you'll get a lot less X, whether there's a law against it or not, and if we as a culture want to do X, a law against X probably won't change it.

3. Who are these people who think "that when something is legally prohibited, it more or less stops"?  "Widely thought"? MacKinnon seems to be setting up this premise so that the point she's making will seem other than obvious. Really we all know this: You can make something illegal, but if people don't really think it's all that wrong and really want to do it, there will be a lot of it.

4. I went from great point to everybody already knows so quickly! What happened? I think that I recognized it as a great point, because I knew I knew it and I assumed there were a lot of benighted people out there who didn't know, and, for them, I was glad that Catharine MacKinnon was nailing the point down solidly. But then I was overtaken by instinctive optimism: I'd like to think people in general already know what reasonably intelligent, fairly perceptive people ought to know.