March 24, 2018

At the Ancestral Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want (and buy whatever you want through the Althouse Portal to Amazon).

I got my iPhone camera out at an exhibit called "Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection" at the Chazen Museum here in Madison. Australian Aboringinal artists work in what is a continuing artistic tradition going back many thousands of years— perhaps 40,000 years.


The painting that's in the center of the first photo and fills the frame in the second is by the Yuendumu Women's Collaborative and is called "Mina Mina Dreaming." The wall card says that "Mina Mina" means "home or living place," and it's a place "where ancestral women stopped to sit under desert oaks, get water, and collect snake vines to wrap around food bowls and cure headaches."

"The great Body of the People in every Free Government, must always be considered as the Husband of the Constitution thereof, and..."

"... consequently that as long as such Constitution performs the duties of Love Honor and Obedience to Her great Constituent Body, or Political Husband, She is entitled to be Kept both in sickness and in Health, with all possible Love and Fidelity by such her said Husband and that on a breach of her Duty she must expect to incur the Pains and Penalties of Divorce.”

So said William Stuart to Griffith Evans, in the debate about whether to ratify the Constitution. New York, 11 July 1788 (CC Vol. 6, p. 258).  I found that at "Constitutional Metaphors, Similes, and Analogies" at the UW's Center for the Study of the American Constitution, where there are many other fascinating metaphors, all from the debates about ratification.

But are there any metaphors in the text of the Constitution?

The question occurred to me as I was reading the comments to the post about the Seventh Circuit case rejecting an Establishment Clause challenge to a public school "Christmas Spectacular" concert. I happened to mention the metaphor of the wall that should, it is sometimes said, separate church and state. Someone appeared to observe that the constitutional text makes no mention of any wall, and it occurred to me that we really don't want any metaphor in the Constitution or in any other legally operable text.

Is there even one metaphor in the Constitution? All I could think of is "no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood" (in Article III). "Blood" refers to a person's descendants. But that scarcely counts as a metaphor. The use of the word "blood" like that goes all the way back to Old English. You might as well consider a metaphor to use "house" for the houses of Congress.

Metaphor is fine in arguments and explanations, so I think it's fine to say "wall of separation" if you want to speak of a strict interpretation of the Establishment Clause. Its absence from the Constitution doesn't mean that the strict interpretation is wrong, only that you don't put metaphors in a constitution.

But how do you like that William Stuart metaphor? The people are the husband and the Constitution is the wife and the Constitution must love, honor, and obey the people.

Are you listening to the children?

Trump wants Congress to give him a line-item veto on spending bills.

Trump tweets:
As a matter of National Security I've signed the Omnibus Spending Bill. I say to Congress: I will NEVER sign another bill like this again. To prevent this omnibus situation from ever happening again, I'm calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all govt spending bills!
Is there a plan for writing line-item-veto legislation in a new way that will be constitutional this time or is Trump hoping the Supreme Court will overrule Clinton v. New York or is this all just a lot of ultimately futile political theater?
The Court... explained that under the Presentment Clause, legislation that passes both Houses of Congress must either be entirely approved (i.e. signed) or rejected (i.e. vetoed) by the President. The Court held that by canceling only selected portions of the bills at issue, under authority granted him by the Act, the President in effect "amended" the laws before him. Such discretion, the Court concluded, violated the "finely wrought" legislative procedures of Article I as envisioned by the Framers.
Full text of the case here.

"The Seventh Circuit found an Indiana high school’s Christmas Spectacular concert constitutional after the school added Hanukkah and Kwanzaa songs and replaced its live nativity with mannequins."

"The parties put us in the uncomfortable role of Grinch, examining the details of an impressive high school production. But we accept this position, because we live in a society where all religions are welcome," wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood, reported in Courthouse News Service.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and ACLU of Indiana sued the school in October 2015 over the event, claiming it “represents an endorsement of religion by the high school and the school corporation, has no secular purpose, and has the principal purpose and effect of advancing religion,” in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause....

“The religious nature of the nativity and the songs do not come off as endorsement in part because they make up only a fraction of the Spectacular, which as configured in 2015 is primarily a non‐religious seasonal celebration,” Wood said. “The Santas, jingle bells, and winter wonderlands of the first half all promote the secular aspects of the holiday season.... This would have been an easier case if the Christmas Spectacular had devoted a more proportionate amount of stage time to other holidays. But ultimately, we agree with the district court that in 2015 Concord sincerely and primarily aimed to put on an entertaining and pedagogically useful winter concert.” 

"Geeze. Don't take a moment to rest in your farming or some jerk will come along and call you an ox."

Wrote Freeman Hunt in the post about the 1898 poem, "The Man with the Hoe," which was based on a Millet painting of a farmer resting, leaning against his hoe. The poet, Edwin Markham did indeed look at the painting of a man and see an ox — well, a brother to an ox:
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
The meaning is in the eye of the beholder. I thought of Vincent Van Gogh's response to Millet:
In 1885 Van Gogh described the painting of peasants as the most essential contribution to modern art. He described the works of Millet and Breton of religious significance, "something on high."... He held laborers up to a high standard of how dedicatedly he should approach painting, "One must undertake with confidence, with a certain assurance that one is doing a reasonable thing, like the farmer who drives his plow... (one who) drags the harrow behind himself. If one hasn't a horse, one is one's own horse." Referring to painting of peasants Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: "How shall I ever manage to paint what I love so much?"
If one hasn't a horse, one is one's own horse... but it is something on high.
Van Gogh Museum says of Millet's influence on Van Gogh: "Millet's paintings, with their unprecedented depictions of peasants and their labors, mark a turning point in 19th-century art. Before Millet, peasant figures were just one of many elements in picturesque or nostalgic scenes. In Millet's work, individual men and women became heroic and real. 
Van Gogh made many copies of Millet paintings — "not copying pure and simple" but "translating into another language, the one of colors, the impressions of chiaroscuro and white and black." Here is one original and "copy," "The Sower":

Van Gogh explained: "One does not expect to get from life what one has already learned it cannot give; rather, one begins to see more clearly that life is a kind of sowing time, and the harvest is not yet here."

Comparing Markham and Van Gogh — both looking at the image of a peasant — I thought of — forgive me — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump looking at the off-coast (off-cast) Americans. She saw seeing deplorables and he saw the foundation of greatness.

It's hard to Google "Black Girl Code."

I'm trying to Google that phrase because I said I would after reading the accusation that WaPo columnist Robin Givhan violated "Black girl code." Search results are dominated by things about the Givhan incident itself and also by an organization called Black Girls Code (which works on getting black female children involved in digital technology — that kind of code).

In fact, I give up. I'll just say it made me think of the idea of the "code of the streets," and that led me to this article in The Atlantic from 1994, "The Code of the Streets" by Elijah Anderson. Subheadline: "In this essay in urban anthropology a social scientist takes us inside a world most of us only glimpse in grisly headlines—'Teen Killed in Drive By Shooting'—to show us how a desperate search for respect governs social relations among many African-American young men." Note: men (not girls and certainly not "boys"). Excerpt:

Poem read in bed in the middle of the night — after a conversation that got me looking up another poem by the same man.

The poet is Edwin Markham, and the poem — not the one that made me look up Markham — is based on this Millet painting:

The Man with the Hoe (1898)

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Who made him dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox?
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw?
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow?
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain?

When Robin Givhan violated the sacred cordon around Michelle Obama.

The other day I skimmed Robin Givhan column, "Michelle Obama wanted to gain the public’s trust. So she started with a garden,"  but I didn't post about it, because I moved on to other things, I don't want to blog every single Robin Givhan column, and I'm tired after the years and years of fawning over Michelle Obama. And I'm not a not a Michelle Obama hater — see my February 18, 2008 post, "The lovely and expressive Michelle Obama spoke in Madison, Wisconsin today." I'm just tired of all the pro-Michelle propaganda.

But now that there's a dispute about the column — discussed in the previous post — so I'm going to read it closely. The dispute is ostensibly about writing anything about the Michelle Obama/Valerie Jarrett conversation Givhan had access to, but I suspect some of the anger at Givhan has to do with the substance of the column — a failure to genuflect and adulate? — so now I want to read the whole thing carefully.
The occasion [for the Obama/Jarrett conversation] was the opening evening of Leading Women Defined, a private gathering of supremely accomplished black women organized by Debra Lee and BET aimed at networking and uplift. 
Supremely accomplished? So far, this is fawning. But the point is that Michelle Obama usually does lucrative speeches to a big audience of whoever chooses to pay to attend, and this was "a far more intimate crowd."

Topic #1: The scene at the White House on Trump's Inauguration Day. Michelle cried but didn't want to be seen looking like she'd cry, she was surprised by that Tiffany box, and when she waved from Marine One, leaving the White House, what she thought was “Bye, Felicia!” ("Bye, Felicia" has its own Wikipedia page. It means: Get out of my face!)

Topic #2: Michelle had to work at not being perceived as angry. "I had to learn how to deliver a message," basically by smiling all the time and not showing so much passion. Givhan writes: "And here the audience murmured understandingly, because they all knew what it means to be called angry when really you’re just emphatic."

Topic #3: Michelle's hurt pride. "With two Ivy League degrees and a résumé that included executive positions in hospital and city management, she was dismayed that people seemed to question whether she could handle being first lady."

Topic #4: The real meaning of the vegetable garden. “The garden was a subversive act... It was the carrot." The real carrot was a metaphorical carrot.* "You can’t go in with guns blazing until people trust you... What’s more innocent than a garden?"

Topic #5: Michelle's standing up for herself. She's writing a memoir, and it's "about refusing to place herself last, which is not just an act of self-love but is also a public, civic, political obligation."

I can see why I passed on this when I skimmed it before. It feels much like all the fluff I've seen about Michelle over the years. But I want to try to see it from the perspective of the other women — the "supremely accomplished black women" — who felt special and important gathered within the "safe"/"sacred" space within which Michelle performed intimacy.

These women — or many or some of them — must have wanted to feel that they got some material that is not available to the general public, something that related to their own status as "supremely accomplished black women."

In that light, I focus on "And here the audience murmured understandingly" — because that's where Givhan appropriated their precious intimacy, their murmur that said — just to their beloved Michelle — I know, I, like you have suffered the pain of being regarded as that angry, scolding woman when I was simply being the energetic, lovely, passionate woman that I am.


* I've talked about metaphorical carrots before, and this is not that. (Click that link to get back to one of the all-time biggest dustups on the Althouse blog.) Michelle is using carrot in the sense of the "carrot and stick."

WaPo fashion critic Robin Givhan is said to have "violated a sacred trust between women, black women" — "a complete violation of journalistic ethics and Black girl code"

The quotes — at Page Six — are from Jamilah Lemieux, who criticized Givhan for attending and writing about a BET Network event that had Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett on stage, talking about things like doing that White House vegetable garden so as not to seem like an angry black woman.
Lemieux later told us, “As I recall, at the start of the event, we were told that were in ‘safe space’ and to put our phones away. That, to me, is a clear indication that no one was to be reporting on this moment. Furthermore, I am surprised that Ms. Givihan thought that she was invited to the conference to serve in her capacity as a reporter considering that she was to serve on a panel and, thus, had her travel and accommodations covered by the organizers.... It is unfortunate that Ms. Givhan did not recognize that she was invited because she is a journalist of note and was thought to be someone who would benefit from the connections we have made and/or strengthened here this week. The expectation was, ostensibly, that she would be a great addition to this sister circle — not someone who made an outsider of herself by revealing things that were shared here.”
BET reacted to Givhan's column by kicking her out of the conference and cancelling the panel she had been invited to moderate. BET paid her expenses and now characterizes her as an "invited... guest (not working press)" and says "She was made aware that it was an intimate conversation in a sacred space of sisterhood and fellowship." Was she made to sign an agreement that she would not report on the event?  It sounds as though BET wanted the prestige of Givhan's attendance and did not explicitly restrict her, and she used her access like the journalist she is. The idea that events with important political figures talking about politics should be treated in a special confidential way is ridiculous.

Sacred space of sisterhood and fellowship? Politics is not religion and when it starts acting like it is, be alarmed.

If the event is off the record, and you've invited journalists, you need to make it clear that it's off the record. Declaring the room a "safe space" is vague bullshit, not, as Lemieux says, "a clear indication that no one was to be reporting on this moment." And putting phones away isn't a clear indication of anything other than a desire that the audience pay attention and not be rude.

Lemieux declares that Givhan was invted because she "was thought to be someone who would benefit from the connections." I doubt if Givhan saw it that way. I assume she thinks she is a big deal and that other people benefit from getting to connect with her! The presumption should be that it was worth it to her because she'd get material for her column, not that she's attending for sisterhood. But if you want to make it more of a religion-y concept and require sincere motives of sisterhood, you need to lay that out clearly, not spout puffy fluff like "safe space."

As for "Black girl code" — I'll have to look that up. I'm not a member of the purported religion. But I'm interested in the way human beings define themselves into groups and then discipline those they've appropriated as members. In that light, the conference name is fascinating: "Leading Women Defined." Fascinating and mind-bendingly ambiguous.

The Robin Givhan column is "Michelle Obama wanted to gain the public’s trust. So she started with a garden." I suspect that some of the anger is because the column isn't fawning enough. But I'll do a separate post about the substance of the column.

"In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published 'Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,' an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis...."

"Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument.... In this way, a consensus was established that among human populations there are no differences large enough to support the concept of 'biological race.' Instead, it was argued, race is a 'social construct,' a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries. It is true that race is a social construct. It is also true... that human populations 'are remarkably similar to each other' from a genetic point of view. But over the years this consensus has morphed, seemingly without questioning, into an orthodoxy.... The orthodoxy goes further, holding that we should be anxious about any research into genetic differences among populations.... I have deep sympathy for the concern that genetic discoveries could be misused to justify racism. But as a geneticist I also know that it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among 'races.' Groundbreaking advances in DNA sequencing technology have been made over the last two decades.... I am worried that well-meaning people who deny the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science.... It is important to face whatever science will reveal without prejudging the outcome and with the confidence that we can be mature enough to handle any findings. Arguing that no substantial differences among human populations are possible will only invite the racist misuse of genetics that we wish to avoid."

From "How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of 'Race'" by Harvard genetics professor David Reich (NYT).

"Being a white guy with a guitar was, as it turns out, not that special."

"I started playing guitar when I was 13. I grew up playing guitar and writing music and I always wanted to be a songwriter and a singer and play the guitar. But while I was finishing college, my drag became lucrative, so I had to pursue what was going to pay the bills — and doing comedy as Trixie was something that I was able to market. Being a white guy with a guitar was, as it turns out, not that special."

Says Brian Firkus, talking to NPR. Here's a video of Firkus as the white guy with guitar that he is and as his drag character Trixie Mattel (who won the just-concluded season of "RuPaul's Drag Race"):

Also from the interview:
Country and folk are genres where characters are really central — you get really into the heart of a person in a song, or there's a very specific story being told. I feel like there's a little bit of that in your drag too.

With Trixie, people like that I look like this fabricated painted creation, but all my comedy and my songs come from a place of reality. It's like the man behind the curtain, it's the crying clown — that's what works for people with Trixie. It's the dichotomy of someone looking like a toy, but then, you know, speaking and singing like a real boy....

In terms of country and folk music — it feels like you're bringing this very explicitly gay perspective into genres that aren't necessarily known for embracing those perspectives.

I think my music is not so much about being gay; my music is about being a human being. It's not about gay relationships; it's about relationships. It's not about feeling like an outsider because you're gay. Maybe it's just about feeling like an outsider. It's funny selling records of this type in this world ... if you look at those publications or those websites, I'm nowhere to be found. It's very weird to be, like, infiltrating....

We are all just, like, hot gluing our clothes on every day to go out into the world and do a job we're not sure we're supposed to be doing. RuPaul says we're all born naked the rest is drag. We're literally all just pretending to be someone — we don't realize how much we're all exactly the same.

March 23, 2018

At Diana's Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And you can buy what you want though the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Why is President Trump threatening to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill?

Not because of too much spending....
I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.

"The political action committee founded by John R. Bolton, President Trump’s incoming national security adviser, was one of the earliest customers of Cambridge Analytica...."

"... which it hired specifically to develop psychological profiles of voters with data harvested from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, according to former Cambridge employees and company documents.... The contract broadly describes the services to be delivered by Cambridge as 'behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.'... 'The Bolton PAC was obsessed with how America was becoming limp wristed and spineless and it wanted research and messaging for national security issues,” [said Christopher Wylie, a data expert who was part of the team that founded Cambridge Analytica]. 'That really meant making people more militaristic in their worldview,' he added. 'That’s what they said they wanted, anyway.' Using the psychographic models, Cambridge helped design concepts for advertisements for candidates supported by Mr. Bolton’s PAC.... One advertisement, a video that was posted on YouTube, was aimed at people who scored high for conscientiousness, and were thought to respect hard work and experience. It emphasized Mr. Bolton’s time working for Ronald Reagan and how [a candidate] embodied the spirit and political ethos of the late president."

From "Bolton Was Early Beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook Data" (NYT).

"It was kind of obvious that there was an attraction — from his part to me."

I haven't watched the whole thing. That quote happens in the first 2 minutes. We had to pause to laugh a lot. Meade went into an extended comic rant in which Trump's penis was likened to a divining rod...

ADDED: I really don't have the patience to sit through the whole video, so let me snag a few quotes from the NPR article, because there is something I want to say if I can find my way to it:
Once, she said, he even took her to the apartment in Trump Tower that he lived in with his wife and their young son, Barron. "Aren't you afraid to bring me here?"

"They won't say anything," Trump supposedly said. He showed her around the "very gold" apartment and pointed out Melania's room saying, "she likes to get away to read."... "Doing something wrong is bad enough and when you're doing something wrong and you're in the middle of somebody else's home or bed or whatever, that just puts a little stab in your heart," she said.

There's just no stopping the Tyrannosaurus rex... once he starts going up in flames.

Via "Giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex goes up in dramatic flames in Colorado" (WaPo).
The 24-foot-tall reptile replica at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience was set ablaze by an electrical malfunction in the early afternoon, the park’s owners said in a Facebook post. After smoldering for about 10 minutes, huge flames engulfed the creature, whose motorized head and jaws sway as parkgoers pass by....

When it finally extinguished, the T. rex’s metal skeleton was still standing silhouetted in the afternoon light, its poorly-evolved, disproportionately-small arms bent plaintively toward the sky.
Oh, come on, that's just mean, calling attention to the poor guy's tiny arms in his time of greatest anguish.

The Cardi-B anti-tax rant.

Language warning (she keeps asking what "y'all are doing with my fucking money"):

I'm not sure if this is stupid — like she just noticed that when you make a fair amount of money the government takes a 40% cut — or hilarious — "When you donate, like, to a kid from a foreign country, they give you updates of what they're doing with your donation, I want updates on my tax money!"

Via The Daily Mail.

ADDED: Also in The Daily Mail: "'Nobody gives a f***:' Cardi B says the #MeToo movement doesn't care about women in hip hop":
'A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a f***,' the brash rapper began. 'When I was trying to be a vixen, people were like, "You want to be on the cover of this magazine?" Then they pull their d***s out. 'I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, 'So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.'"

And the starlet wasn't giving the men supporting #MeToo much credit, telling Cosmo: 'These producers and directors, they’re not woke, they’re scared.'
AND: I had not seen the term "video vixen" before. Obviously, I could understand the meaning from the context, but I wanted to know more about whether it's something like a standard job title. Wikipedia has an article on the subject:
A video vixen (also hip hop honey or video girl[2]) is a female model who appears in hip-hop-oriented music videos. The video vixen image has become a staple and a nuanced form of sex work within popular music; especially within the genre of hip-hop. Many video vixens are aspiring actors, singers, dancers, or professional models. Women from various cultures have been portrayed either as fragile, manipulative, fetishistic, or submissive within contemporary music lyrics, videos, concert and movie soundtracks, although this is not universal, as demonstrated by the archetypal ride-or-die chick.
"Ride-or-die chick" has its own article:
A "ride-or-die chick", in the hip hop culture, is a woman willing to support her partner and his illicit lifestyle despite how this might endanger or harm her. Sometimes this is portrayed as a more passive "support and love regardless of their transgressions" role, but oftentimes it requires women to take an active role in these transgressions and manifests in a "willingness to help men in dangerous situations," and "a sense of shared risk." It is often referred to as a hip hop manifestation of the Bonnie and Clyde dynamic.

An ear for Wisconsin Supreme Court politics.

Judicial elections are kind of ridiculous. What are candidates supposed to say other than: I'm dedicated to following the law or (a bit edgier) I share your values? If we show up to the polls at all, it's probably because we've figured out one is the conservative and one is the liberal and we've somehow arrived at the belief that conservative judges are better or liberal judges are better. It's a dreary business!

But the Wisconsin Supreme Court race just got way more amusing. David Blaska sets up the newly — comically — sharpened contrast:
At Pints and Politics on March 6, Supreme Court candidate Michael Screnock gave a nice talk and then strapped on his tuba and tooted On Wisconsin and the Bud Song with other UW-Madison marching band alumns.

When you play Wisconsin, that says it all. Contrast that bit of down home Badgering with Rebecca Dallet dancing for dollars in Nancy Pelosi’s high-toned Pacific Heights neighborhood in San Francisco.

“Rebecca Dallet tells San Francisco she wishes Wisconsin shared their values.” (Story here) (Audio here.)

This is what is known as an unforced error. Michael Screnock thanks you very much.
I've listened to the Dallet-in-San-Francisco audio, and she portrays herself as needing to catch up with all the conservative money that's come in to support her opponent. The non-Wisconsin money people helping Screnock are what's propelled her from her Midwest home.

And she does try to portray herself as embodying Wisconsin values. If you look at her quotes, she's saying things like "I know that your values are our Wisconsin values that we’ve lost along the way" and "So we made a choice to move to Wisconsin because it had the progressive values, a lot of things you have here in your city still which we kind of lost." That is, the real Wisconsin values are progressive values. She's not out to import San Francisco values, but to restore true Wisconsin values, and people with San Francisco values should want to help her, because these are the same values. But that's just me calmly explaining a fine point of rhetoric.

Visual persuasion dominates, as Scott Adams loves to tell us. From his book, "Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter":
Our visual sense changes what we are hearing in real time, even when we know the illusion.... Humans are visual creatures. We believe our eyes before we believe whatever faulty opinions are coming from our other senses. So if you want to persuade, use visual language and visual imagery. The difference in effectiveness is enormous....
Much more in that book about how Trump used visual persuasion. I just want to express awe at the the side-by-side visuals that now crowd out the niceties of rhetoric in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election. On the left, we see Rebecca Dallet out there in San Francisco, and on the right, we see Michael Screnock with a big old tuba strapped over his big belly.  What does it matter what anybody says?

"Althouse also wrote a blog post about how free speech is much, much more than just a 1st Amendment protection."

"I've tried twice in earnest to find it, but the 'free speech' tags are endless," wrote Browndog in in the comments to yesterday's post about Facebook. That post ended with these 2 questions, "What about the freedom of speech of users of Facebook? Is Facebook unduly censoring speech based on political viewpoint?"

In that post, I linked to a post of mine from March 27, 2011 — "The Bob Wright/Ann Althouse email exchange about what free speech means in the context of saying Roger Ailes needs to kick Glenn Beck off Fox News" — so that shouldn't be what Browndog means. There I said:
Back on February 2, I wrote “When did the left turn against free speech?” and used some clips from a Bloggingheads I did with Bob Wright, in which I talked about free speech values and rejected Bob's attempt to restrict the idea of free speech to the constitutional right to free speech, which only deals with the problem of government restrictions on speech. The text of my post, however, doesn't restate our disagreement about the meaning of the term, and Bob emailed me to complain. And then last Friday, I did another Bloggingheads, and Bob brought up his beef about the definition of the term again. So I invited him to give me permission to publish the whole email exchange, and he agreed, so here goes...
That's a long post, but I think this is closest to what Browndog was looking for:
My standard free speech answer is going to be in favor of expression, access to expression, and more speech, not repression of speech and not cutting off conversations that are still in play because they offend some other people who think the conversation should have already ended....

So if Google or Facebook, private corporations, took steps to squelch free speech[,] that would just not even make sense to you as a concept because they can't affect free speech since they are not the government? If people organized and regularly showed up at events to shout down speakers they disapproved of, it would be incoherent to urge them to respect free speech[?]...

As for the right to free speech, the First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech." Just on that text alone, you can see that there are 2 different things "the freedom of speech" and the specific direction to Congress not to abridge it. Now, if you say freedom of speech is nothing more than the direction to government not to abridge the freedom of speech, try to picture what the text would need to be: "Congress shall make no law... abridging Congress's proscription against abridging the freedom of speech" which would make no sense at all. The freedom of speech is something which we enjoy, and the Constitution bars Congress's interference with it.
Maybe that is what Browndog had in mind, but I looked through the archive. (My method was to click on the Facebook tag, then search the page for "free.") Here's what I came up with, from oldest to newest:

January 3, 2009: There was Facebook group called "I Wonder How Quickly I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Support Israel" that, noting that the First Amendment only limits government, pressured Facebook to enforce its own Terms of Use that barred "any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable." I said:
Sorry. My free speech values extend a lot farther than what's protected by the First Amendment. And I think Facebook's Terms of Use are horrifyingly restrictive. Censoring everything "hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable"? Ridiculous! I'd rather join a Facebook group called "Facebook's Terms of Use Are an Affront to Free Speech."
January 16, 2015: "After the [Paris] massacre, Mark Zuckerberg justifies Facebook censorship":
"It wasn’t just a terrorist attack about just trying to do some damage and make people afraid and hurt people. This was specifically about people’s freedom of expression and ability to say what they want. That really gets to the core of what Facebook and the internet are, I think, and what we’re all here to do. We really stand up and try to make it so that everyone can have as much of a voice as possible,” [Zuckerberg] said....

When I started to read Zuckerberg's remarks, I thought they were going to go somewhere else. I thought he was going to say that by creating a more friendly environment within Facebook, more people would be encouraged to join and participate, and that would ultimately provide more speech for more people. The nasty, ugly speech would be silenced, but it could go elsewhere, and he was trying to facilitate speech by those who feel intimated or bullied or offended by the speech of others. But Zuckerberg is only justifying Facebook censorship as a response to repression coming from foreign governments.
April 16, 2016: "Internal poll at Facebook: 'What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?'"
It is true that Facebook would be protected by the First Amendment, even as it screwed with the freedom of speech of over a billion human beings. What's tremendously important here is to maintain pressure on Facebook to respect our freedom. We don't have a legal right to assert against Facebook, but that is absolutely not a reason to give up and let Facebook do what it wants to repress speech. We have moral, political, social, and economic power, and we should assert it. We assert it through — of all things — speech. It can be very effective... which is why we care about free speech in the first place. Even where you don't have a legal right, as long as you are still speaking, you have the power of speech, and the urge to repress it occurs because the speech is effective. The trick is to use speech to convince the would-be repressers not to repress speech.
November 15, 2016: "Facebook, don't even try to censor fake news. You can't draw that line, and you shouldn't want to":
I absolutely do not trust Facebook to decide what's fake and what's not fake, so I'm with Zuckerberg here... The chance that such a power would be used in a politically biased way is approximately 100%. I don't know how much Zuckerberg is really committed to the freedom of speech, but I think he knows if Facebook started deeming some political stories "fake" and taking action against them, Facebook would be accused of bias and censorship and it wouldn't be good for Facebook, the business.... Those of us who care about freedom of speech should try to make it vividly apparent to the people of Facebook that censorship will hurt them economically. You can't trust them to believe in freedom of speech. They've already got a heated-up, self-righteous band of insiders who think censorship is the cutting edge.
ADDED: I realize that my search method left out everything that didn't include Facebook, which is probably a lot. One reader emailed to point me to...
Camille Paglia says the Duck Dynasty debate really is about freedom of speech.

She said:
"I speak with authority here because I was openly gay before the 'Stonewall Rebellion,' when it cost you something to be so... And I personally feel as a libertarian that people have the right to free thought and free speech. In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as they have the right to support homosexuality — as I 100 percent do. If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again they have a right to religious freedom there … to express yourself in a magazine in an interview -– this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades. It's the whole legacy of the free speech 1960's that have been lost by my own party."
Meanwhile, some liberals are making the predictable narrowly legalistic point that freedom of speech has only to do with rights held against the government. This is a point I've strongly objected to over the years, most obviously, in debating the liberal Bob Wright (see "When did the left turn against freedom of speech?" and "[W]hat free speech means in the context of saying Roger Ailes needs to kick Glenn Beck off Fox News"). Why is the left taking the narrow view of the concept of freedom? It's a general principle, not something you save for your friends. Like Paglia, I remember the broad 1960s era commitment to free speech. There was a special zeal to protect those who said outrageous things. Today, we're back to the kind of repression that in the 60s seemed to belong to the 1950s. What the hell happened?

March 22, 2018

At the Early Spring Café...

... subtle perfection.

Talk about anything.

Because I wrote about my email from Josh Ernest (for the Democratic Party), I should tell you what I got from the other side.

Both parties sent me fund-raising email today, and I went on at length about Ernest's urgings, so let me do a post for what I got from the GOP side. It's from Donald J. Trump. Subject line: "Russia."

I will not hide from the truth -- this is a WITCH HUNT.

Nancy Pelosi is now using the Russia witch hunt as a political ploy to RAISE MONEY from her supporters who still can’t accept that you voted to Make America Great Again!
He doesn't know if I voted for him, of course. He (i.e., whoever's writing this) would rather fake closeness to the people who voted for him and not worry about sloshing over onto people who didn't, because there's more to gain from reinforcing the closeness than from the off chance of drawing in some who 1. didn't vote for him, but 2. would feel put off by his purporting to know how they voted, and 3. didn't vote for him, even though 4. they're on this GOP mailing list.
We cannot let the swamp get away with using our government as a weapon to overturn elections and silence millions of American voters....

Why are they launching a witch hunt?
It's an argument of simple epithets: swamp and witch hunt.
Because they don’t want to Make America Great Again for YOU.
Nancy and her supporters aren't against me, specifically. They're against Trump, but the idea is that I should identify Trump with things that are for me. She's the swamp, and Trump is us. To be fair, he does proceed to list — incredibly simply — the elements of greatness (phrased as things Nancy and company are against):
They don’t want a wall. They don’t want to stop the endless flow of illegal immigrants. They don’t want Americans’ wages to rise. They don’t want to stop nation-building abroad. They don’t want to help hardworking Americans. They don’t want a fair economy that works for ALL Americans.

But I will keep fighting for you. This is what you voted for -- and this is what you deserve after so many years of broken promises by lying politicians.
The message is clear: illegal immigration is the central problem. And yet the subject line was "Russia." I guess the idea is the Democrats are talking about Russia, but it's fake, a big distraction from what really matters: illegal immigration.

"I am gravely concerned, Ann," emails Josh Earnest on behalf of the Democratic Party.

Gravely, eh? That's spooky. I'm scared! Josh Earnest was Obama's White House Press Secretary. (Had you forgotten? I had.) He says:
When I was press secretary for President Obama, my strategy was simple: I spoke directly with the president and didn't make a habit of lying to the American people.
Well, of course, you don't want to make a habit of lying to the American people. That's just pathological. A good press secretary lies when it serves a specific purpose. If you just make a habit out of lying, you lose the advantage of all the times when saying what's true is actually in your interest and you miss all the cute chances — like the one you're using here, Josh — where telling a cagy truth works the same way as a good straightforward bald-faced lie.*
You and I both know that's not how the Trump administration operates. Between the constant staff upheaval and drama, the rogue tweets, and overall failure to put the interests of the American people first, it's clear this administration is in utter chaos.
Apparently, Josh wants me to feel like I'm in a special club with him — "You and I" — and we have knowledge together and there's chaos. We "know"! Eh. I don't know. What makes tweets "rogue"? I don't even get the concept. Seems to me, Trump just talks to us directly when he's got something he wants to say.

He may be a rogue ("A dishonest, unprincipled person; a rascal, a scoundrel" or "A mischievous person, esp. a child; a person whose behaviour one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likeable or attractive" (OED)), but I don't agree that the tweets are rogue ("Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time" or "Inexplicably faulty or defective" (OED)).

And I really don't like seeing characterizations like that portrayed as "knowledge," especially when I'm being roped into it. I supposedly "know" things I don't even believe. And yet it's "clear" that there's "chaos"... and not just chaos, "utter chaos."

I feel like some clown named Josh just popped in to madly gesticulate and grimace. You're not going to alarm and activate me like that. But I never give money, so I'm just a recipient of over-inclusive email. I could unsubscribe, but then I couldn't write posts like this. You have my data and I have yours. You have your channels of communication, and I have mine.

Skipping ahead in that email:
I am deeply concerned that the Trump administration is doing lasting damage to the bond between the American people and their government -- and I can imagine you feel the same way.
I appreciate that he's admitting it's just his imagination now, but I must say I feel a little creeped out by the notion of a "bond between the American people and their government" that must be preserved. I believe in maintaining a separation between oneself and the government. It's dangerous for individuals to feel bonded to government. That sounds like fascism. I think if Trump is making individuals feel less oneness with government, that's good. I'm not a fan of chaos, but too much order is fascistic. I like my distance, separation, and objectivity. One thing I love about Trump — which was not true of Obama — is that we all feel so free and energized to criticize and insult him and just hate him. It's so wholesome... health-giving... salubrious.**


* Yesterday, when I was complaining about Hillary, I said:
Hillary Clinton's approach to communication is so annoying. I'm not a Trump fan, but he's at least a straight talker — even when lying! It works for his fans and his antagonists. He's energizing. She, on the other hand, is such a pain. Imagine having to follow the daily blather of President Hillary Clinton.
Not all my readers share my sense of humor. Some people took the trouble to write comments telling me it didn't make sense to say that someone who was lying could be a straight talker. It makes sense to me. That's why you can have a bald-faced lie. Would you prefer a hairy-faced lie? More of a bearded hipster character?

** I love that word, "salubrious." It reminds me of the hardest I ever laughed during a live theater performance, as I told you — if you were reading back then — in 2004:
The play was [Turgenev's] "A Month in the Country," and at the beginning of a scene, where a number of things were going on, a minor character came out and said "The weather is very salaboobious today." Now that was supposed to be funny, but it was just way too funny compared to everything else that surrounded it, and in fact it brought peals of laughter that continued far into the scene.

"This is the first time that I've suspected that a WaPo editorial was driven by the interests of its owner and it's own business model rather than a stance on the merits."

A comment at the Washington Post editorial "Let’s take a deep breath about Facebook’s ‘breach of trust.'" (The editorial ends: "Facebook and others are under enormous pressure to behave more as publishers responsible for their content than as neutral platforms. They should not resist. Facebook faces a related set of questions about manipulation of the platform in the 2016 campaign... All of this should be pursued in the spirit of perfecting rules of the road to keep social networks free and open. In the end, they should remain what they are, great sharing machines.")

The owner of WaPo is Jeff Bezos, so what's his connection to Facebook? He's an investor in Facebook. I saw a comment (which I can't find anymore) that he lost billions when Facebook stock slid this week. Trying to research that factoid, I found this article from yesterday: "Jeff Bezos Is Now $40 Billion Richer Than Anyone Else on Earth."
But since the start of 2018, Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth skyrocket compared to his billionaire peers.... At the close of the stock market on Tuesday, the index estimated Jeff Bezos’ net worth at a whopping $132 billion. That’s thanks to Amazon’s stock price, which has jumped roughly 40% so far in 2018.... That’s obviously enough to make Bezos the world’s richest person. What’s particularly astounding is that no one else is even in the same ballpark as Amazon’s founder.
What do you think? Is he so rich it's stupid to think he cares what slant the piddling Washington Post takes in its editorials or is the Washington Post central to his machinations and part of why Amazon is up 40% in 2018?

If you go to the editorial urging gentle treatment of Facebook, you'll see, at the bottom, a list of additional Facebook related articles in WaPo:
Anne Applebaum: Does Cambridge Analytica have my data? I have no idea. That’s the problem.

Sandy Parakilas: I worked at Facebook. I know how Cambridge Analytica could have happened.

Jennifer Rubin: If Facebook isn’t forthcoming, voters might opt to ‘unfriend’ the network

Karen Tumulty: Maybe we should be thanking Facebook

The Post’s View: China’s intrusive, ubiquitous, scary surveillance technology
Does that all sound like gentle treatment of Facebook? Well, yeah, it kind of does.... especially since it leaves out an ungentle treatment of Facebook that's also currently in WaPo, "Yes, we should be outraged about Facebook" by E.J. Dionne.

Dionne writes: "We must decide when Facebook and comparable companies should be held accountable as public utilities." Notice how closely that tracks the line from the editorial I quoted in the first paragraph of this post: "Facebook and others are under enormous pressure to behave more as publishers responsible for their content than as neutral platforms. They should not resist."

Dionne continues: "And when do they look more like publishers who bear responsibility for the veracity of the 'information' they spread around?" Well, if they are publishers, then they have freedom of speech, which means they have less responsibility and can lie and distort and pass along private information (subject to very few legal limits) just like the Washington Post.

More Dionne: "We also need to confront conflicts between the public interest and the ways that social media companies make their profits. Where do privacy rights come in? Are they unduly blocking transparency about how political campaigns are conducted and who is financing them? Were they indifferent to their manipulation by foreign powers?" The questions he forgets/declines to ask: What about the freedom of speech of users of Facebook? Is Facebook unduly censoring speech based on political viewpoint?

(By the way, I hope some of you remember how vehemently I took the position (back in 2011) that free speech on Facebook matters even though Facebook is a private company. I had a big email debate about it with Bob Wright (after a Bloggingheads discussion). You can read that here.)

Jeffrey Toobin vs. Alan Dershowitz.

I got to that via a WaPo piece titled "Jeffrey Toobin to his former professor Alan Dershowitz: ‘What’s happened to you?,'" which makes it seem as though Toobin got the better of Dershowitz, which is certainly not how I would score it. The clip ends with Dershowitz giving a definitive defense of himself as consistent on rule-of-law arguments: "I’m not carrying [Trump's] water. I’m saying the exact same thing I’ve said for 50 years. And Jeffrey, you ought to know that, you were my student.The fact that it applies to Trump now rather than applying to Bill Clinton is why people like you have turned against me."

In the WaPo article, but not in the clip:
“None of my liberal friends invite me to dinner anymore,” he said. “Thanks to Donald Trump, I’ve lost seven pounds. I call it the Donald Trump diet.”
Just use the other Donald Trump diet: McDonald's.  But I love the (presumably humorous) notion that the only way for a liberal elitist to get fed is by inclusion in dinner parties.

First, he was Hitler, then... then... then... and now, it's down to this:

From the front page of The Washington Post today.

Trump responds to Joe Biden's threatening to beat him up.

We talked about Biden's threat here, yesterday. (You can read Biden's quote there.)

This Trump vs. Biden fight/"fight" is... free polls

"I am so gratified by the reaction to my little drawings. It is the job of a political cartoon to vex those who abuse power or enable those abuses."

"This administration has been lying to the American people from day one while plundering the country and debasing our values. And those who cover for this shameful mobster of a President are putting makeup on a melanoma and telling the cancer patient that everything’s fine. Monstrous? You bet!"

Said Jim Carrey, responding to criticism of his caricature of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, which he'd captioned — without using her name — "This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!"

We talked about it here (where you can see the drawing, which is pretty good).

As I said at the older posts: "It's a well-done caricature. The caption is fitting as an expression of his point of view." What I'd say about his reaction is: He's right to feel good that he vexed the people he wanted to vex. That is what political cartoons should want to do.

March 21, 2018

At the Mystical Mendota Café...

... say what you will.

The video is intended mainly as audio. Lake Mendota was emitting unearthly sounds today. Whatever was going on with the ice today was just fantastic.

15 years ago I started a notebook... and now we're up to Day 3 of the Iraq War notebook.

The top of the page says "March 21, 2003," and CNN says "'Shock and Awe' under way." I transcribe Wolf Blitzer saying "In 30 years, I've never seen anything like this on live television." (Click images — twice — to enlarge.)

iraq 2 1 24

On Fox News, Jim Angle says "someone is going to get hurt" — the hope was it would be Saddam Hussein:

iraq 2 1 22

Shep Smith waxed poetic about "white flashes... peppering the night air" (because pepper is white):

Those who cannot believe Trump won the election need a scapegoat and that scapegoat is Mark Zuckerberg.

"The election of Donald Trump was so shocking — and damaging to the country — that many people went looking for a scapegoat.... By spreading false news stories and giving a megaphone to Russian trolls, Facebook — a vastly larger social network than Twitter — played a meaningful role in the presidential campaign. Of course, so did many other suspects on the list. There was no single factor that allowed Trump to win. It was a confluence.... 'Where is Mark Zuckerberg?' asks Recode’s Kurt Wagner..... 'It’s time' for Zuckerberg and other top Facebook officials 'to come and testify,' Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said yesterday...."

From "Facebook Doesn’t Get It" by David Leonhardt in the NYT.

One billionaire seems indestructible, so let's get the other one.

UPDATE: Zuckerberg speaks. Excerpt:
I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform. I'm serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.

I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together. I know it takes longer to fix all these issues than we'd like, but I promise you we'll work through this and build a better service over the long term.
I want to thank all of you who continue to believe in our mission and work to build this community together... you credulous souls. Why should people believe in a "mission" or that there is one shared mission between users and the people who use them?

"Biden’s biggest worry is that Trump, for all his bluster, could be a global bystander, unwilling to engage a messy world with anything more than chest-thumping."

"'The question I get everywhere is: ‘Is American leadership going to continue?'" he told me on Air Force Two. If Trump 'just stays behind the lines — hands off — it could be very ugly. Very, very ugly.'"

That's from a NYT piece — "Joe Biden: 'I Wish to Hell I’d Just Kept Saying the Exact Same Thing'..." — which I blogged exactly one year ago.

I'm running across that today because Joe Biden is in teh news, as you might have noticed: "Biden says he would have 'beat the hell out' of Trump in high school for disrespecting women." I had a feeling there was some ridiculous violent ideation coming out of Biden against Trump somewhere in the archive. It wasn't the thing from a year ago. It was something else, from October 2016, and now I realize that Biden's remarks in today's news was dredging up that old, weird statement:
"A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, 'I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'" Biden said. "They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said 'no.' I said, 'If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'"

"I've been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life," Biden continued. "I'm a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room."
Here he is in October 2016 getting very angrily macho:

But I was interested in the other quote, which seems so forgotten. Biden's biggest worry, 2 month's into the Trump presidency, would be "a global bystander, unwilling to engage," just staying "behind the lines," keeping his "hands off" the "messy world." A year later, no one's saying that. Could someone ask Biden about that now? Would he like to express appreciation that what he was most worried about did not happen?

Hillary Clinton "thinks that the Trump voting bloc is made up of racists and women who are too scared to indulge their conscience even when they’re in a voting booth alone."

"She’s made that clear, and honestly, what bothers me the most is the fact that she shrinks away from just saying so. Anyone who’s paying even the slightest bit of attention realizes that we’re talking about a consistent perspective, not a gaffe — and I’d appreciate it if she didn’t insult my intelligence by saying that I just 'misinterpreted' what absolutely could not be interpreted any other way."

Writes Katherine Timpf at National Review.

Hillary Clinton's approach to communication is so annoying. I'm not a Trump fan, but he's at least a straight talker — even when lying! It works for his fans and his antagonists. He's energizing. She, on the other hand, is such a pain. Imagine having to follow the daily blather of President Hillary Clinton.

"The president's 100% right. There never should have been an appointment of special counsel here."

"There was no probable cause at that point to believe that crimes had been committed. I've seen no evidence to suggest that crimes have been committed by the president. As I've said from day one, there should have been a special investigative commission, non-partisan appointed by Congress, with subpoena power to look into the role of Russia and trying to influence American elections and do something about preventing it in the future. Instead of starting out with finger-pointing and trying to criminalize political difference behind the closed doors of a grand jury. That's gotten us nowhere. The president's absolutely right. The investigation never should have begun. And the question now is how does he deal with it. And I think what he's doing is he's playing good cop, bad cop. He has some of his lawyers cooperating with Mueller and some lawyers attacking Mueller because he wants to be ready to attack in the event there are any recommendations that are negative to the president."

Said Alan Dershowitz. 

"I think that the old blogosphere was superior to 'social media' like Twitter and Facebook for a number of reasons."

"First, as a loosely-coupled system, instead of the tightly-coupled systems built by retweets and shares, it was less prone to cascading failure in the form of waves of hysteria. Second, because there was no central point of control, there was no way to ban people. And you didn’t need one, since bloggers had only the audience that deliberately chose to visit their blogs."

Writes Glenn Reynolds, quoting something he wrote last month as he responds to somebody who said "with all the privacy crap about Facebook rearing it’s ugly head again, I’m thinking about moving back to a regular blog for my social interaction."

Of course, I agree that blogging is better, but isn't blogging "social media" and isn't Twitter blogging ("micro-blogging")?

What Glenn counts as good — "bloggers had only the audience that deliberately chose to visit their blogs" — is what drives many people to Facebook: They don't have enough visitors to their blog. People aren't coming to them, so they go to the people. They "blog" on Facebook, and you're compelled to visit their blog because you're Facebook friends. That's a separate problem with Facebook, because you might go there to see what your friends are up to and someone's pushing politics.

I vehemently disapprove of myself for clicking on "A stunning leak rattles Trump and his aides."

I knew it was hype/fake, but I was overcome by curiosity about the details. Don't do that! I hate to compound the error of clicking by linking, but I will. It's Axios.

The "stunning leak" was the information that Trump was advised not to congratulate Putin on his election victory. The leak went to the Washington Post, which published what to me is a nonstory: "Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway."

Axios seems to have a leak about the leak:
The speed and sensitivity of the leak prompted immediate finger-pointing within the administration, as aides reeled from a leak that could only have come from a small group of people, each of whom is trusted with sensitive national secrets....
Are they really reeling or do they just want to create the factoid that Trump did it on his own? In which case it's not really a leak at all. For all I know, Trump himself divulged that his aides told him not to congratulate Putin... and maybe that was a lie. This is why I consider it a nonstory. The whole thing is a phantom.

"Police say a video from the Uber self-driving car that struck and killed a woman on Sunday shows her moving in front of it suddenly

"... a factor that investigators are likely to focus on as they assess the performance of the technology in the first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle. The Uber had a forward-facing video recorder, which showed the woman was walking a bike at about 10 p.m. and moved into traffic from a dark center median. 'It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode,' Sylvia Moir, the police chief in Tempe, Arizona [said]... 'The driver said it was like a flash, the person walked out in front of them,' Moir said, referring to the backup driver who was behind the wheel but not operating the vehicle. 'His first alert to the collision was the sound of the collision.'"

Bloomberg reports.

ADDED: When I drive around pedestrians, I think about their capacity to suddenly make an erratic move, and I care about people enough to keep my eye on them. You've got to teach the self-driving cars to act like they care. I've also got a powerful selfish motivation that a machine cannot have: If I ever hit a person — even if it were their fault — I would carry that experience with me and suffer emotionally for the rest of my life.

"My intention is not to kill people. I am doing this simply because I want to watch the world burn."

"It's not race-related like the media has speculated... I also enjoy laughing at the massive police presence that just simply cannot find or deanonymize me."

Wrote a Reddit user, claiming to be the Austin bomber. But he said he was "30-50 years old," so I guess he was just a random agent of chaos, since the Austin bomber who blew himself up as the SWAT team closed in was a 24-year-old man.

At first, I thought "deanonymize" was a bad misspelling of "demonize" and then the word "dean" dominated my thinking before I got to "-anonym-" and figured it out. Tech talk.

"Poynter receives $3 million from Google to lead program teaching teens to tell fact from fiction online."

Poynter reports... truthfully, I hope! How would I know? I've never been subjected to corporate-sponsored lie-detection instruction. But I have developed, over more than half a century, my own approach to feeling suspicious, looking closely, thinking, and testing. So the first thing I'd do here is notice who's paying for this and speculate about why.
“Our research has shown that students need help navigating the sea of digital information that they encounter every day. We are excited to embark on this initiative to create classroom-ready materials that will prepare students to confront the challenges of a digital society,” said Sam Wineburg, founder of the Stanford History Education Group and Margaret Jacks Professor of Education at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education.
Note the opposition between the "sea of... information" and "classroom-ready materials." There is concern that students get on the internet and look all over the place, following their own interests and finding their own paths. They're no longer limited to the packaged information of mainstream media, so let's at least give them packaged materials about how to face life at sea.
Poynter will launch a fact-checking venture in which teens will work with professional journalists to sort out fact vs. fiction on the internet. Poynter’s fact-checking franchise, which includes the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) and Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, will collaborate on the project, applying key findings that grew out of Stanford’s research on how teens consume news. The work of the teen fact-checkers to debunk misinformation will be presented on numerous online and social media platforms, and it will be heavily visual, including extensive use of graphics and other creative means to reach teens wherever they are consuming news.
Oh! The teens will be the fact-checkers, and their work will be appropriated into the Poynter fact-checking enterprise. This seems to fit with the way we're relying on teens to instruct us about morality and policy these days.
"At, we’re focused on developing the next generation of diverse technology creators but we know that coding skills or even digital savviness is not enough,” said Jacquelline Fuller, president of “We are thrilled to be working with Poynter, Stanford and the Local Media Association to help equip young people with the skills they need to assess fact from fiction online."
At Google, I assume, they're also focused on deflecting criticism of Google. $3 million is a very cheap way to advertise its concern for the problems it exacerbates — or can be accused of exacerbating — like hosting the Althouse blog, where the commenters are about to say that this new program will be completely slanted to the left.

March 20, 2018

At Diana's Café...


... you can take aim at anything.

And you can shop for almost anything at Amazon, using the Althouse Portal — the link to which is always in the banner and in the sidebar. Me, I decided to replace all my brooms. I got a horsehair push broom, a microfiber mop system, and a broom/dustpan thingie. The floors are going to be so clean.

UPDATE: The broom/dustpan thingie arrived broken, and the plastic part in question looks fairly breakable, so I withdraw my recommendation.

"Before you see the latest animated feature from your barista's favorite director, relive his meticulous works from the past that made you kind of happy, kind of sad, and kind of unsure - It's Every Wes Anderson Movie!"

15 years ago yesterday I started a notebook... Day 2 of the Iraq War notebook.

CNN had shots of tanks rolling across the desert and breathless reporting from inside those tanks. I caught snippets of that breathlessness as I watched the war — the driving — on TV:

iraq 2 1 2

CNN touted "these magnificent and historic pictures" and passed along the ideology of war ("We're just doing what's right... invading to liberate the people of Iraq..."):

iraq 2 1 3

We see Fox's Greg Kelly in a Humvee, observing that they're meeting "no resistance" and that if this keeps up, "it's going to be an overwhelming success":

Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland.

It's impressive until you realize the problem that Tom and Lorenzo identify:
[I]t’s admirable Judy Drag, [but] it’s Judy circa 1962 drag; not Judy at the end of her life. To put it bluntly, she was a physical wreck of a person in her last months; devastated and depleted by a lifetime of abuse and addiction, looking decades older than her 47 years... This is just a promo shot and we have no doubt they’ll rough her up for the final scenes of the film, but we’re not quite as impressed as others seem to be....
Here's a picture of Judy in the relevant time period.

"Bird Scooters Have Invaded L.A.’s Westside."

"The Uber-like service for zippy two-wheeled vehicles has taken over the Westside...."
As the public took notice of Bird... Santa Monica officials struggled to regulate the service, which allows users to drop off the scooters wherever they please, assuming the devices are not blocking driveways or endangering the public (the electric contraptions don’t move without an app code and are picked up by trucks every night by 8 p.m.)....

“Preventing car ownership is the goal of all these [car and scooter rental] companies,” [said Bird founder Travis VanderZanden]. “I think if all of us are successful, that’s fine.”

An impromptu performance in an empty subway car that turns out not to be empty.

ADDED: It's hard to see the other person. Here's a freeze frame:

"Deep state."

I'm noticing:

"Trump just hired a deep-state conspiracy theorist as his lawyer. Here’s what Joe diGenova has said" (WaPo): "Genova... told Fox News Channel in January that the [Mueller] investigation is 'a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime. Make no mistake about it: A group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.'" Much more at the link.


"The Monmouth University Poll... finds a large bipartisan majority who feel that national policy is being manipulated or directed by a 'Deep State' of unelected government officials.... Few Americans (13%) are very familiar with the term 'Deep State;' another 24% are somewhat familiar, while 63% say they are not familiar with this term. However, when the term is described as a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy, nearly 3-in-4 (74%) say they believe this type of apparatus exists in Washington...."

That is, the Washington Post is trying to delegitimatize diGenova by pinning a term on him that people might not understand, but that, if they did come to understand, would probably cause them to support diGenova. So not only does WaPo not hurt diGenova (and Trump), as intended, it gives higher profile to a relatively unknown term that has the power to sharpen awareness and concern about the very problem that diGenova is trying to warn us about, and we can see from the Monmouth poll that people are very receptive to that warning.

ALSO: Another term in play there is "conspiracy theorist." If we're going to throw that term around, isn't diGenova's "conspiracy theory" a conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory (the theory that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians)?

"'Utterly horrifying': ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting was routine/Sandy Parakilas says numerous companies deployed these techniques – likely affecting hundreds of millions of users – and that Facebook looked the other way."

The Guardian reports (and this is different insider from the one I quoted earlier today).
Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012... [said] “My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data” ... Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused....

“It has been painful watching,” he said. “Because I know that they could have prevented it.” Asked what kind of control Facebook had over the data given to outside developers, he replied: “Zero. Absolutely none. Once the data left Facebook servers there was not any control, and there was no insight into what was going on.”
Here's the earlier post: "'Facebook allowed the Obama campaign to access the personal data of users during the 2012 campaign because they supported the Democratic candidate...'"

And here's my post from 2 days ago, criticizing Facebook for making a narrow, legalistic argument Facebook... for itself." I said: "That's not going to work. We didn't give it to X. We gave it to Y who gave it to X. It's a laundering argument." And I recommended that Facebook fall back onto the argument that "It's good to use this data to facilitate communication, especially on topics of great public concern."

I'm still trying to get a grip on this story, but my orientation to it is that I'm skeptical that there was any "leak" or "breach" of security. It think Facebook did what it intended to do, but there's just some static over that choice because it became apparent that Mercer money had energized a right-wing use of the data.

ADDED: Bloomberg reports this morning that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook for possibly violating a consent decree:
Under the 2011 settlement, Facebook agreed to get user consent for certain changes to privacy settings as part of a settlement of federal charges that it deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than they intended. That complaint arose after the company changed some user settings without notifying its customers, according to an FTC statement at the time.
Did Facebook make changes that they didn't tell users about or did users just not "read or understand" what Facebook told them?

"I realized no one was going to care about my music and my world as much as I did, and this freedom from others' expectations opened up my perspective of what was possible..."

"... as an initially self-funding independent artist. I began building up areas of my career, block by block.... I collected myself, asked for minimalistic budgets and hustled to create something out of nothing. I spent the next three months working 50-70 hours a week as a server in Times Square. I didn’t see sunlight for over two weeks at one point. I saved all of the money needed to fund my next EP and subsequent tour. Two months later, I quit my job as a server, and I have been running a fully sustainable independent artist project for the last four years. You may or may not know who I am. You may or may not have at some point listened to my music, actively or passively. I own all of my masters and publishing and have maintained full creative control of my project and remain the sole, final decision maker. I have accumulated over 150 million streams, sell out 250- to 650-capacity venues across the United States, have toured Europe, and write and executive produce all of my releases.... I am not guaranteed or owed an income from pursuing a passion project. It is the job of myself and my manager to have a vision for VÉRITÉ and create a value with those who want to enter the world I create. This new music industry has opened a door for everyone to have the opportunity to make and share their vision with the world, and I am anxiously excited to navigate this new landscape."

Writes Vérité in "Spotify Isn't Killing The Music Industry; It's A Tool For Enterprising Indie Artists" (Forbes).

"White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however..."

"... are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households. Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.... Though black girls and women face deep inequality on many measures, black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults."

This looks like an important study, and the NYT has done an interesting job of displaying data on animated graphs, but I don't think the title is properly scientific: "Extensive Data Shows Punishing
Reach of Racism for Black Boys."

The data don't tell us the cause of the disparities, only that the disparities exist. In fact, just looking a the data, it seems easier to say that the cause is not racism, because we see black women doing not only as well as white women but a bit better? The article uses the lack of disparity among women as a basis for refuting the hypothesis that black/white disparities can be " explained by differences in cognitive ability":
If such inherent differences existed by race, “you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women,” said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research.
It is quite possible that there's gender-specific racism that is causing this effect...
“It’s not just being black but being male that has been hyper-stereotyped in this negative way, in which we’ve made black men scary, intimidating, with a propensity toward violence,” said Noelle Hurd, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia.
And it's also possible that the male reaction to racism is generally very different from the female reaction, but I don't see how these data show that. The article is using the data as basis for speculation.