April 7, 2018

"Many Democrats still wonder how folks in the Midwest can believe what they hear from Donald Trump."

"The answer: Often, they don’t. In Trump Country, people have learned to take a wait-and-see approach to the president’s extreme and categorical statements... I believe this explains the low-key response so far to the threat of a trade war with China among the farmers who stand to lose the most.... This distinction between the president’s words and his deeds might seem to cut against the Midwestern mythos of straight-talking folks who say what they mean and mean what they say. But there is another kind of mythical Midwesterner, the sort that Meredith Willson celebrated in 'The Music Man,' whose flinty exteriors cloak a soft spot for fast-talking flim-flammers. Trump entertains them and, besides, they never really expected a marching band."

Writes David Von Drehle in "Folks in the Midwest have Trump all figured out" (WaPo). I guess David Von Drehle has "folks" in the Midwest all figured out. He seems to live in the Midwest. Me too, but only on the island of Madison, so I know basically nothing about the Midwest Midwest, except from the viewpoint of people who are horrified to be surrounded by it. And last I looked "Music Man" was a Broadway musical, but it was written by a man who grew up in Iowa (albeit more than 100 years ago).

That said, I have something of the midwestern attitude toward Trump that Von Drehle described. Settle down, give the man a chance. See what he actually does. And, good lord, isn't he entertaining! Let's be kind to our guest, even if he's rough and weird.

And I can't help connecting this to the previous post, the notion that the whole truth must be told at a slant. By the way, I have always seen the feminine in Donald Trump.

The funny thing is, Trump seems to be delivering clear speech and stating the harsh truth straight on. That flummoxes some people when much of what he says turns out to be wrong.

"Tell all the truth but tell it slant..."

Wrote Emily Dickenson, quoted by the novelist Mary Gordon, leaving out the word "all," talking with the actress Glenda Jackson, in "Mary Gordon & Glenda Jackson Talk Poetry, Theater and the State of Feminism" (NYT)"
GJ: I’m so pleased you said that, because I’m a big fan of Emily Dickinson. The view of both Stevie [the British poet Stevie Smith, played by Jackson in "Stevie"] and Emily Dickinson seems to be that here were these two solitary, depressed, lonely women, but they lived in these fantastic worlds!

MG: They’re great, greater than anybody around at that time. But their forms are small. And so, female gets defined as minor. Some of American women writers’ best work was done in the form of the short story: Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter, Jean Stafford. I think what’s funny is around the same time that Emily Dickinson wrote, “I’m nobody! Who are you?” Whitman wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise,
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
ADDED: This seems to gesture, differently, at the "fake news" problem we fakely fret about these days. Maybe the participation of women has changed public discourse in a way that we haven't quite acclimated to. Consider the benefits of circuitous truth. It's the only way to get the "all" that even Mary Gordon let slide.

Mysterious object.


Your art history test of the day.

Molly Ringwald "can see now, Bender sexually harasses Claire throughout the film" — "The Breakfast Club."

Ringwald is writing in The New Yorker.
When he’s not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her with vicious contempt, calling her “pathetic,” mocking her as “Queenie.” It’s rejection that inspires his vitriol. Claire acts dismissively toward him, and, in a pivotal scene near the end, she predicts that at school on Monday morning, even though the group has bonded, things will return, socially, to the status quo. “Just bury your head in the sand and wait for your fuckin’ prom!” Bender yells. He never apologizes for any of it, but, nevertheless, he gets the girl in the end.

If I sound overly critical, it’s only with hindsight. Back then, I was only vaguely aware of how inappropriate much of John [Hughes's] writing was, given my limited experience and what was considered normal at the time.... I’m a little embarrassed to say that it took even longer for me to fully comprehend the scene late in “Sixteen Candles,” when the dreamboat, Jake, essentially trades his drunk girlfriend, Caroline, to the Geek, to satisfy the latter’s sexual urges, in return for Samantha’s underwear. The Geek takes Polaroids with Caroline to have proof of his conquest; when she wakes up in the morning with someone she doesn’t know, he asks her if she “enjoyed it.”...

John’s movies convey the anger and fear of isolation that adolescents feel, and seeing that others might feel the same way is a balm for the trauma that teen-agers experience. Whether that’s enough to make up for the impropriety of the films is hard to say—even criticizing them makes me feel like I’m divesting a generation of some of its fondest memories, or being ungrateful since they helped to establish my career. And yet embracing them entirely feels hypocritical. And yet, and yet. . . 
Much more at the link.

The "impropriety of the films" is a strange phrase. Fictional characters do all sorts of bad things. It doesn't make the film improper. You need bad things to happen in fiction. It's kind of the whole game. But you may ask, what is this film trying to make me think? Am I supposed to disapprove of what this character did or not? If it's hard to answer that question, that might be a sign it's actually art. If we identify with or enjoy or empathize with a bad boy like John Bender and we hold the film responsible for choosing to make that happen to us, does the film become "improper"? I don't think so, and yet I do think films have worked powerfully to shape our ideas about how men and women should treat each other.

Oh, but The Wall is more of an idea.

Drudge, this morning, links to "Hopping the wall into Trump's US, in under 2 minutes" (Yahoo).

Isn't just the message of WE DON'T WANT YOU worth all the money and effort? And don't you like that hulking rusty monstrosity outlining our border?

Isn't it sort of like locking the doors on your house — a determined burglar can kick the door in, but it keeps out the "opportunistic criminal," like the kid who tries doorknobs to see if he can maybe just walk in and swipe something?

Or is Yahoo kind of fake-newsing us?

What a disaster for African Art History programs to see this blatant hostility toward their students and prospective students (if any!).

I've written about Kristen Windmuller-Luna before, but I need to talk about her again, based on something in this new NYT article, "Amid Opposition, Brooklyn Museum Stands by Its New Curator of African Arts, Who Is White":
Marla C. Berns, a director at the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, which highlights art and material culture from Africa, among other regions, said on Friday that there were not a lot of curators and academics of African-American or African descent who specialized in African arts.

“Graduate departments seek diversity in making decisions about admissions,” she said, “but the pools of candidates still remain predominantly white.”...

Steven Nelson, the director of U.C.L.A.’s African Studies Center, agreed, saying on Friday that he was “one of a very small number of African-American specialists in the field.” Art history as a whole has done “a very poor job of recruiting a diverse pool,” he said, adding that “African art history in the U.S. is primarily white and female.”
Who are these white women who choose to specialize in African art? They have their motivations. White males don't feel drawn to these field, apparently, and black students — male and female — also go elsewhere.  What is an African Art History program to do? Imagine teaching this subject to a whole lot of white women and knowing what's happening to Kristen Windmuller-Luna, an accomplished young lady who found a job and got lambasted for lacking the one credential she's powerless to acquire, a different skin color. She's made to look like a fool for choosing this field.

By the way, as noted in my earlier post, her research is on "cross-cultural exchange, early globalization, transcultural art, and the depiction of non-Western cultures in museums and popular media." Her dissertation was "Building Faith: Ethiopian Art and Architecture during the Jesuit Interlude, 1557-1632." It seems that she's focused on the role of white people in Africa, but I have no idea whether that's racially humble or arrogant. I presume that to get along in this world, Windmuller-Luna approached African art through criticism of the colonialists and hope for a better form of "cross-cultural exchange."

But the cross-cultural exchange going on now is: Get out of the field that belongs to black people.

Even though black people (it seems) don't want to work in this field.

And why should they?

I'm sure African Art History programs are desperate to answer that question as white female students wake up from their dream of a cross-cultural exchange and get the hell out of a program that releases them into a world of stumbling blocks — where instead of getting welcomed for choosing to study the artwork of black people they are regarded as one more cog in a system of racism.

April 6, 2018

At the Friday Night Café...

... you can talk about anything you want.

(And please think of using The Althouse Portal if you're making purchases at Amazon.)

The violence of Madeleine Albright's NYT op-ed, "Will We Stop Trump Before It’s Too Late?"

Here's the first sentence:
On April 28, 1945 — 73 years ago — Italians hung the corpse of their former dictator Benito Mussolini upside down next to a gas station in Milan....
"Will We Stop Trump Before It’s Too Late?" has coy deniability. But why on earth would you go straight to dangling the upside down corpse of Benito Mussolini unless you meant to say violence is necessary?

The next 2 sentences also present death as the solution:
Two days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker beneath the streets of war-ravaged Berlin. Fascism, it appeared, was dead.
What's going on?! If you stick with the op-ed for 8 more paragraphs, you'll get to a paragraph that begins: "What is to be done?" (I can't understand why Albright used that phrase, which is the title of a famous pamphlet by Lenin.) Anyway, Albright answers the question with some nonviolent ideas:
First, defend the truth. A free press... is the protector of the American people. Second, we must reinforce the principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law. Third, we should each do our part to energize the democratic process by registering new voters, listening respectfully to those with whom we disagree, knocking on doors for favored candidates... We should also reflect on the definition of greatness. 
Well, that's the opposite of violent. It's utterly bland! It doesn't even follow through on the "Before It’s Too Late" business in the title. There's no sense of urgent time pressure. She probably didn't write the title, so she may be out of the loop about the synergy between the title and the first paragraph. Once you get past that, you've got an op-ed that's too dull to print. It seems like some boilerplate speech of hers. Ridiculous, but actually also appalling, because the invitation to violence is plainly there and ought never to have been published.

How did those 2 goats get there — 100 feet above the ground under a bridge in Pennsylvania?

They walked out of the yard where they lived and out onto the 8-inch-wide beam. They made it in about 200 feet,  until they reached a barrier. But only one was able to turn around. That's why they are facing each other, and both are stuck, NPR reports:
[T]he brown goat "kept hitting the white one with its head" to make it walk backward. "It would take one step, two steps back, then stop," he says....
It took a "snooper crane" to save them:

"Do you think that Iran is better than U.S.A. or U.S.A. is better than Iran?"

"A lockbox instructed me to abandon my phone for the duration of the stay. There are no mirrors, I discovered."

"The survival manual encourages you to avoid emails, work, competing, planning. And – interestingly, paradoxically – suggests being bored.... That first evening we worked our way through the What Now? booklet, full of riddles and poems about the woods, and a list of questions to ask each other...."

From "Is ‘being bored’ the next travel trend for millennials?" (UK Telegraph).

@getawayhouse đź‘Ś

A post shared by Greg Dickinson (@travelographs) on

"You made me feel embarrassed for having responded to you."

Said Susan Anspach, telling off Jack Nicholson in 1970:

Watch Jack Nicholson mess with all the bottles on the dresser, and then watch Woody Allen messing with bottles on a dresser before Susan Anspach tells him off — "I don't want alimony, you can everything, I just want out":

Goodbye to Susan Anspach — the paradigmatic unsatisfied woman of the early 1970s. "Susan Anspach, 75, Dies; Daring Actress in Maverick Films" (NYT). She was the mother of a son whose father was Jack Nicholson and of a daughter whose father was another actor, and she was married twice, for short periods of time, to other men. But she said she didn't believe in marriage or even in living with a man, because “if the kids get attached to him and you break up, it just isn’t fair.”

Barack Obama was "the ‘good parent’ at home... The responsible parent, the one who told you to eat your carrots and go to bed on time."

"And now we have the other parent. We thought it’d feel fun — maybe it feels fun for now because we can eat candy all day and stay up late and not follow the rules."

Said Michelle Obama.

I don't really understand the idea of the "good parent"/"bad parent." In a stereotypical traditional family, you might have one parent who's softer and more empathetic and the other who's more about strict enforcement of the rules, but aren't both responsible? If not, did Michelle just unwittingly take a shot at mothers and even, obliquely, at the Democratic Party (the "mommy party")? And Michelle's idea of the rule-enforcing parent sounds more like the mother, who's generally the one concerned with getting you to eat your vegetables (and, indeed, Michelle Obama made getting kids to eat vegetables her cause). But usually it's the father who gets portrayed as the "bad cop" in a "good cop"/"bad cop" routine that might describe some families of the wait-'til-your-father gets home kind.

So I don't know what kind of family she's envisioning — or even if she's presenting her husband as the mother or the father.

What she's talking about seems more like the contrast between any parent and some weird interloper like the Cat in the Hat:

And don't get me started on Hillary Clinton and carrots....
Now, the script says onion rings, because that's what the Sopranos were eating in that final scene, but I doubt if any blogger will disagree with my assertion that, coming from Bill Clinton, the "O" of an onion ring is a vagina symbol. Hillary says no to that, driving the symbolism home. She's "looking out" all right, vigilant over her husband, denying him the sustenance he craves. What does she have for him? Carrot sticks! The one closest to the camera has a rather disgusting greasy sheen to it. Here, Bill, in retaliation for all of your excessive "O" consumption, you may have a large bowl of phallic symbols! When we hear him say "No onion rings?," the camera is on her, and Bill is off-screen, but at the bottom of the screen we see the carrot/phallus he's holding toward her. Oh, yes, I know that Hillary supplying carrots is supposed to remind that Hillary will provide us with health care, that she's "looking out for" us, but come on, they're carrots! Everyone knows carrots are phallic symbols. But they're cut up into little carrot sticks, you say? Just listen to yourself!...

I have been challenged in my use of "akimbo" in "posing on the chair arm with an arm akimbo."

I knew that was a risky phrase, because the cliché is "arms akimbo," but does that mean "akimbo" relates only to the 2-armed gesture? In the comments to the post, ballyfager said "How do you make that 'arm akimbo'? My understanding is that arms akimbo (as it is usually expressed) is hands on hips." Well, the answer to how is just that you're doing it only on one side, but the issue is whether "akimbo" is restricted to 2 sides. Another question is whether "akimbo" is only about the hands-on-hips pose (which seems to be the only way people use it)? Here I am, trying to use it just slightly more broadly, to cover the unilateral and not bilateral arm position, but why isn't it a much more useful word?

Now, let me pause a moment, to talk about Kevin B. Williamson, who's so much in the news this week. He mostly got in trouble (and fired from The Atlantic) for opining that women deserve hanging if they got an abortion, but he was also criticized for writing, back in 2014:
"Hey, hey craaaaaacka! Cracka! White devil! F*** you, white devil!" The guy looks remarkably like Snoop Dogg: skinny enough for a Vogue advertisement, lean-faced with a wry expression, long braids. He glances slyly from side to side, making sure his audience is taking all this in, before raising his palms to his clavicles, elbows akimbo, in the universal gesture of primate territorial challenge.
The word that got him in trouble was "primate," but notice "akimbo." Do monkeys and apes — like their fellow primates, us humans — display territoriality with arms akimbo? They have such long arms compared to ours. It's a weird picture, in my head.

Oh, but I guess Williamson didn't mean "With hands on hips and elbows turned outwards" (the OED's first definition of "akimbo," and the one I, reading Williamson, assumed). I couldn't find an image of an ape or monkey standing like that, but then I reread Williamson's turgid prose and noticed the hands are on the chest, not the hips, and I can easily picture a gorilla doing that.

Anyway, back to the OED. The oldest examples have the arms or hands "in kenebowe" or "on kenbow." It becomes "akimbo" in the 1700s. What's a "kenbow"*?!

The word, which seems so restrictive to us today, did get wider meaning in the 1800s. It could refer to legs and meant "spread or flung out widely or haphazardly." (Did both legs have to be doing that, or could one leg be akimbo?) And it became "More generally: askew, awry; in disorder":
c1796 C. Dibdin in Songster's Compan. (ed. 9) 203 In life's voyage, should you trust a false friend with the helm, The top lifts of his heart all akimbo, A tempest of treachery your bark will o'erwhem.
1880 T. W. Reid Politicians of To-day II. 253 They do not wear their hats akimbo.
Ah! There's only one head for the hat and the hat can be "akimbo." And what of the heart? Only one of those.**

And in the 20th century, "akimbo" became also "Crooked, bent, or askew; that is in disorder, awry."
1959 New Yorker 5 Dec. 146 He tended to match all of Coleman's near-atonal plunges with akimbo melodic lines of his own.
2002 Esquire Sept. 80/1 He is still blue, with mitteny hands and startled, akimbo eyebrows.
Yes, but can one eyebrow be akimbo while the other maintains its orderly position?... Hmm???!
That picture is from "A DEFINITIVE RANKING OF WHITE MALE COMEDIANS RAISING ONE EYEBROW IN A PUBLICITY SHOT" at Thermocow. And speaking of cows, I could not find a photo of a monkey or ape getting its eyebrow (if any) into a position like that.

By the way, I never cared whether I was technically right or wrong in the proper use of "akimbo." I think if you know the standard meaning, with its bilateralism, you immediate get the unilateral concept, and it may be even better, because it's jocose.

"There are a lot of movies about reading. I think there are a lot of people who consume movies that cater to their self-image as a reader of books."

"It's quite silly," I wrote in the comments to the post about the trailer for the high-action, special-effects HBO movie based on "Fahrenheit 451." My comment was inspired by a comment from Ron Winkleheimer:
I'm surprised that HBO made this movie since the people in charge are all leftists. I suppose they are still flattering themselves about being the side that's in favor of knowledge and learning and free speech and all that.
What are the movies about reading that cater to this vanity I'm imagining exists?

Here's "25 best movies about books" (Stuff), but many of these are about writing books. The central character is a writer, not a reader. "Neverending Story" "The Princess Bride," "Fahrenheit 451," "Misery"... those fit my search.

Here's "When movie characters read books." For example, the guy in "Friends with Kids" reads "Cod," so, yeah, you get it: That guy! The guy who reads "Cod." Matilda reads "Moby-Dick." You know what that means!

Anyway... it's a hypothesis. Something else reading-related that I was reading this morning is "RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Fun, Friends, Maybe More" (New York Magazine):
[A] fun and playfully shady conversation between several of the queens has Asia O’Hara reading Vixen for wearing someone else’s wig during last week’s Best Drag runway. It’s an understandable thing to pick at, and the Vixen responds good-naturedly about it. Until Aquaria butts in.

“Can we talk about how your best drag is someone else’s wig, though? That’s confusing.” Game over. As the Vixen prepares to go fully in on Aquaria in response, a spider crawls its way up someone’s tulle and wreaks total pandemonium* with its mere existence....
Boldface added. I had to look up "reading" in Urban Dictionary:
In gay culture, the act of pointing out a flaw in someone else (usually publicly and in front of them) and exaggerating it.

Gay guy 1: "Those shorts weren't made for you, honey. Look at that muffin top. More like a cupcake top!"

Gay guy 2: "Bitch, why are you reading me?
Also, "read":
To tell someone about themself, mostly used by gay black men.

"That was a read honey!"
"Don't do it hone[y], I will read your ass"
Great slang. Perfect!

* Pandemonium — originally "The abode of all demons; hell, the infernal regions" (OED) — is now usually "Utter confusion, uproar; wild and noisy disorder; a tumult; chaos." Like this:

I don't know if this Japanese concept is the answer...

... but it's almost surely helpful and it certainly makes a kick-ass Venn diagram:

ADDED: I just created the tag "Venn diagram" and went into the 15-year archive of the blog to make it retroactive. 15 posts with that tag now! Interesting stuff, too. Click it. I especially like "It depends on what the meaning of 'Venn diagram' is..." — about a diagram tweeted by Hillary Clinton that failed to Venn. Also, how "that popular Venn diagram with circles for prostitutes, doctors, and TSA agents and the 'get paid to touch your junk' punchline in the center is not a proper Venn diagram." I mean, if you're going to Venn, Venn. I'm venting about Venning.

And, from 2005, "Donald Trump has some kind of neurological event," quoting the late, lamented Television Without Pity:
[I]n the Boardroom... where Donald Trump has some kind of neurological event and goes completely apeshit. And I mean to say that you have never seen this kind of behavior in your life. He first abruptly asks Clay if he's gay, acts stunned that Clay is gay, ascertains that Clay is therefore not attracted to women, clarifies that this Venn diagram excludes even women such as Alla, and then explains to us that this is why restaurants have menus: while Trump likes steak, other people like spaghetti. Later, without even stopping to breathe almost, he: asks Adam straight up if he's a virgin (he is, but won't admit it), counsels him not to be afraid of sex because it is "not a big deal," posits that Adam will ten years from now be more "comfortable with sex," shares that sex has gotten him into "a lot of trouble" and cost him "a lot of money," discusses at length whether Adam is "soft" or "hard," and wraps up by telling Adam that there's "nothing like" sex, and that he should look forward to having it one day, in the creepiest, ickiest, most pervuncular way imaginable.

Some people love this new trailer for HBO's "Fahrenheit 451," but I think it perversely makes the argument against reading books.

If books are what the book "Fahrenheit 451" makes them out to be, then you should read the book "Fahrenheit 451." If you want a movie with maximum action and fire effects — which is what this trailer vigorously promotes — then you are evidence for the proposition that books are not longer essential to human life (or you are part of the redefinition of human life that excludes the reading of books).

From the 60th Anniversary edition of the book, with lots of introductory material:

Jimi Hendrix's copy of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" has Jimi's blood on it.

"In 1965, as a struggling musician in New York, Hendrix was already enough of a Dylan fan to spend his last money on this album. The Brook Street copy of this LP has Hendrix’s blood on its sleeve, after he cut his hand on a broken wine glass then picked up the album."

From "Inside Jimi Hendrix’s blood-spattered record collection." You can see the collection at the historic recreation of Hendrix’s apartment (AKA "flat) in Mayfair, London. At the link, to NME, there's a list of all the albums in the collection and some info about how well-worn they look, e.g., "Hendrix owned two copies of Handel’s ‘Messiah’, both of which show signs of wear and tear."

"Jordan Peterson, Canadian Archetype" — worth clicking to the NYT for the photograph alone.

The caption says that's him "at his Toronto home." His home! What a place! That is some nutty artwork and he's posing on the chair arm with an arm akimbo echoing a figure in the painting behind him. There are staring heads (in artwork) all around his staring head, and there are 2 major phallic symbols — a train (in a painting in the upper left) and a red-and-white-striped pole with a CCCP sign atop it (in the painting at the right).

But this is an op-ed (by a Canadian journalist named Jesse Brown), and I haven't read it yet, so I don't know if I can recommend it. Hang on a second. Let me live-blog my reading of this thing.
There is a certain image that Canada projects to the world.... It’s the image of Canada as a tolerant, progressive, kind and humanitarian nation, populated by mild-mannered and polite people. The idea of Canada the Good....
That's not what the Canadian thinks of his people. It's what he thinks we think. But we are wrong, Brown informs us:
Canada is home to many more Jordan Petersons than Justin Trudeaus. Mr. Peterson is... a dull but stern dad, who, under a facade of apparent normalcy and common sense, conceals a reserve of barely contained hostility toward anyone who might rock the boat..... This is a mind-set with deep historical roots in the Great White North....
If we knew Jordan Peterson the way Canadians know Jordon Peterson, we wouldn't enjoy his bracing pep talks. We'd be like, Oh, Dad, can I go now?

Canadians never rebelled and won independence from Britain, so as history unfolded, Brown says, they ended up with “peace, order and good government” where Americans got “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Our politics reflect our sense of unease with anything radical. Liberals who think of Canada as a lefty haven should look to [various boring things that have happened in Canadian history].... Even our pop culture reflects our national preference for stasis: Drake, the Torontonian rap superstar, is probably best known for introducing ennui to hip-hop.
So the Canadian left isn't really very lefty, and the Canadian conservatism is bland too, the message being, essentially...
Canadian conservatism is not brash. It not belligerent [sic], it is not loud. It is not Fox News. But our most popular columnists all deliver the same message: Things are the way they are for a reason. Those who agitate for change are stepping out of line.
So please see Peterson's "12 Rules for Life" book in that light. Like Rule 6: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
The message: Until you’ve cleaned your room and achieved perfect personal order, how dare you assume you have any business diagnosing the world’s problems, much less trying to fix them?
Ugh! It's so Canadian!
Americans are raised to believe that individuals, even flawed ones, can indeed change the world, and sometimes should. Canadians, for all that we’ve managed to construct a society that Americans sometimes envy, lack this ethic. The resulting mind-set, disdainful of idealism and suspicious of ego, is one we are now, evidently, exporting.
It must be so annoying to the Canadian — whose mentality Brown purports to channel to us — that Americans have snapped up so many copies of their boring dad's stifling lectures. Who are these Americans? They're the people all readers of the NYT can look down their noses at: "disaffected men."

But these men are delusional — Brown tells us — if they think Peterson is "walking in the tradition of rugged American individualism." He's not American. He's Canadian, and take it from the Canadian Jesse Brown, Jordan Peterson is "a line-toeing Canadian, preaching a philosophy not of American defiance but of Canadian deference."

April 5, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

Dream your own pictures and find the portal in the sidebar.

Let's talk about The Atlantic firing Kevin D. Williamson — immediately after hiring him.

Here's Adele M. Stan at The American Prospect last week, "The Atlantic’s Gigantic Stumble/When a 'thought-leader' magazine hires the misogynist Kevin Williamson, that’s some kind of leading from behind":
The thing for which Williamson is most famous is his (since deleted) tweet advocating the execution by hanging of every woman who has an abortion. [Jessica] Valenti notes that this would encompass approximately 25 percent of U.S. women.

Williamson’s second-most famous comment is in his contemptuous depiction of a nine-year-old African American boy, which is basically a litany of racist stereotypes strung together, complete with a description of the boy making a gesture Williamson describes as “the universal gesture of primate territorial challenge.”...
So Williamson got the boot.

Here's "By Firing Kevin Williamson,The Atlantic Shows It Can't Handle Real Ideological Diversity/Williamson's rhetoric is inflammatory, but his views on abortion are not beyond the pale" by Katherine Mangu-Ward (Reason). Excerpt:
But the thing that cost him the gig was a remark he made on a podcast well before his firing and in a tweet (since deleted):
And someone challenged me on my views on abortion, saying, "If you really thought it was a crime, you would support things like life in prison, no parole, for treating it as a homicide." And I do support that. In fact, as I wrote, what I had in mind was hanging.
The Atlantic is obviously caving to pressure. They had to know when they hired Williamson that he maintains that abortion is murder, and the fact that he would treat it the way he'd treat any murder is just standard, mundane adherence to principle and resistance to pragmatism. There's nothing to be shocked about. Why hire him if that wasn't what you wanted?

Tony Finau — at the Masters — "suffered a high-ankle sprain, yesterday, while celebrating a hole-in-one in the par-3 tournament."

"But that hasn’t slowed down Tony Finau in his first Masters appearance. He’s been walking gingerly but is somehow now tied for the lead at four-under through 12" (NYT).

"One 23-year-old [Grindr] user told me that the only places he can find gay men are clubs and Grindr, and both are hyper-sexualized."

"The cultures of both intimidate him. According to [John Pachankis, an LGBTQ mental health expert at the Yale School of Public Health], gay culture is often 'status-focused, competitive, hierarchical, and exclusionary.' He explains that these traits are common among men generally, but in the gay community, they become amplified in a group that 'both socializes and sexualizes together.' The 23-year-old is afraid of rejection and Grindr shields him from the pain of in-person turndowns. 'My framework now is sex first. I don’t know how to date people in person.'...  Another user told me he downloaded the app hoping to find a husband. Now he says that when he and a boyfriend (he’s gone through several) fight, his natural response is to open Grindr to 'find an alternative' instead of working through problems."

From "We need to talk about how Grindr is affecting gay men’s mental health/I’m a gay psychiatrist. Here’s why I went on Grindr to survey men"  by Jack Turban, MD, is a physician and medical writer at Harvard Medical School.

Most interesting line for those of you who are not gay: "these traits are common among men generally."

50 years ago today: Robert F. Kennedy gave a speech, "On the Mindless Menace of Violence."

"He delivered it in front of the City Club of Cleveland at the Sheraton-Cleveland Hotel on April 5, 1968, the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr." (Wikipedia).
With the speech, Kennedy sought to counter the King-related riots and disorder emerging in various cities, and address the growing problem of violence in American society....

Speaking for only ten minutes, Kennedy outlined his view on violence in American society before a crowd of 2,200. He criticized both the rioters and the white establishment who, from his perspective, were responsible for the deterioration of social conditions in the United States. He proposed no specific solutions to the internal division and conflict, but urged the audience to seek common ground and try to cooperate with other Americans.

Kennedy's speech received much less attention than his famous remarks in Indianapolis and was largely forgotten by the news media. However, several of his aides considered it to be among his finest orations.
From the speech:
What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by his assassin's bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero, and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people....

[T]here is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors....

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution. But we can perhaps remember—even if only for a time—that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life, that they seek—as do we—nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
2 months later, RFK was himself assassinated.

The problem of too much daydreaming.

I like the animation here, but I have some trouble understanding how this is a problem other than as the problem of believing you have a problem:

Why is this upsetting her? And how do you get daydreams that are so vivid and compelling? Why would you be unsatisfied with this super-power that seems to open pathways to art and ecstasy? NPR:
M worries that she has a newly diagnosed condition known as maladaptive daydreaming. Now, it's not in the mental health Bible, aka the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and doctors don't know what causes it. There's no official treatment....

M loves her never-ending story, yet she acknowledges her secret is isolating. "As much as I hate the feeling of being torn and being in two places, I'm not ready to give up my daydreaming and I'm not ready to give up my characters and the feelings that those daydreams give me," she says.
From the "maladaptive daydreaming" link, here are symptoms of the "newly diagnosed condition":
  • extremely vivid daydreams with their own characters, settings, plots, and other detailed, story-like features
  • daydreams triggered by real-life events
  • difficulty completing everyday tasks
  • difficulty sleeping at night
  • an overwhelming desire to continue daydreaming
  • performing repetitive movements while daydreaming
  • making facial expressions while daydreaming
  • whispering and talking while daydreaming
  • daydreaming for lengthy periods (many minutes to hours)

Here's my idea for a treatment: write fiction or poetry or draw and paint. Then other people will see what you're doing and probably support your work instead of treating you as though you're too withdrawn and self-isolating. And you'll get some real-world substance to what seems like only dreamland. You don't have to share your artwork. It can be like a diary.

"Vitamins are not inert...They are biologically active agents. We have to think of them in the same way as drugs."

"If you take too high a dose of them, they cause side effects," says a doctor quoted in "Older Americans Are ‘Hooked’ on Vitamins" (NYT).

I don't believe in taking vitamins myself. It's part of my "better than nothing is a high standard" approach to life. I'm not going to take pills as a precaution, just in case it might do good. Less is more. Also: eat food.

"Bob Dylan is among six acts appearing on a new compilation EP that features 'reimagined' versions of traditional wedding songs for same-sex couples."

"Universal Love opens with Dylan’s rendition of the 1929 great American songbook classic She’s Funny That Way, revamped as He’s Funny That Way... The compilation also features contributions from St Vincent (AKA Annie Clark), who turns the Crystals’ And Then He Kissed Me into And Then She Kissed Me. Kesha flips the pronouns on Janis Joplin’s I Need a Man to Love, as does Valerie June on NoĂ«l Coward’s Mad About the Boy."

The Guardian reports.

That reminds me, on "American Idol" this week, one contestant, Marcio Donaldson sang "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Man," and the smart-ass writer at New York Magazine wrote:
Marcio Donaldson, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”

I almost enjoyed this. I’m all for a man owning the Carole King-penned Aretha classic and belting the words “You make me feel like a natural woman” as Carole intended. But no. Marcio Donaldson had the nerve to change the lyrics to “You make me feel like a natural MAN,” which is… pretty stupid, Marcio. What does “You make me feel like a natural man” even mean? And who cares? Stay tuned in the semifinals for Marcio to tackle Cyndi Lauper’s hit “Men Also Enjoy Fun, OK?” and Madonna’s pop classic “Material Person.”
Carole King-penned... Carole intended... Is Gerry Goffin simply invisible? From the Wikipedia page for the song:
Written by the celebrated partnership of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, the song was inspired by Atlantic Records co-owner and producer Jerry Wexler. As recounted in his autobiography, Wexler, a student of African-American musical culture, had been mulling over the concept of the "natural man", when he drove by King on the streets of New York. He shouted out to her that he wanted a "natural woman" song for Aretha Franklin's next album. In thanks, Goffin and King granted Wexler a co-writing credit.
Ah! So the original idea was the "natural man"!  And men outnumber the woman on the credits to the song. There's Gerry and Jerry. And they're all white people thinking about black people. So what, really, is the original intent? And even if it was a woman — or, specifically, Aretha — what's wrong with extending the idea to a man? Aretha famously flipped the sexes when she sang Otis Redding's song, "Respect."

Did it take "nerve" for Marcio Donaldson to change the lyrics? Are the changed lyrics "stupid"? Does the smart-ass writer at New York magazine (Louis Virtel) think the "Universal Love" project, with all the change-of-sex lyrics is stupid? He mocks —  “Men Also Enjoy Fun, OK?”  “Material Person" — but will he mock Dylan's "He's Funny that Way" and St Vincent's "And Then She Kissed Me"?

And does the smart-ass Virtel know that Rod Stewart sang "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Man," on his 1974 album "Smiler"? It's not a new concept. Rod's version is fantastic. Listen.

On this blog in 2004, we were talking about "Songs transformed with the sex of the singer." Tori Amos had come up with a list of 20 songs, and I said:
The classic example of a man singing a woman's song is Frank Sinatra singing Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me." He's forced to sacrifice the most beautiful couplet -- "Although he may not be the man some/girls think of as handsome" -- but singing words that are an entirely conventional woman's dream, Sinatra lets us see a shocking, haunting vulnerability.
Virtel betrays some woeful sexism when he asks "What does 'You make me feel like a natural man' even mean?" Is the "natural" condition something special for women, some notion that women have more "nature" in them or that Nature is a woman (Mother Nature) and that The Male is something else — something like Civilization and Order? If that's what underlies the question "What does 'You make me feel like a natural man' even mean?," then I wonder if he knows there's another song, "Natural Man," written by comedian Sandy Baron and singer Bobby Hebb and recorded by Lou Rawls, who won a Grammy for it in 1971. Listen here. Lyrics:
Well now, I tried to do what others say that I should do
They say that I should fit in, fool em, fake it
Those kinda dues just make me crazy and blue, man, I just can't take it
So when you see me walkin, won't you notice that proud look in my eyes
My feet are on the ground and my soul is searching for the sky...
Anyway, Marcio Donaldson is one of the top 24 on "American Idol." Here he is singing the Goffin/King/Wexler "Natural Man":

You've all been scraped.

Great headline and photo choice by Drudge.

He's linking to "Zuckerberg says most Facebook users should assume they have had their public info scraped/Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a call to reporters that users who had a specific search functionality turned on should 'assume' that their public profile has been scraped" (CNBC):
"We've seen some scraping," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters. "I would assume if you had that setting turned on that someone at some point has access to your public information in some way," he said.
I'll bet Zuckerberg felt he was saying something mellow, not Orwellian at all. There's just "some scraping" and only "if you had that setting turned on" and — just for thought purposes — you should "assume" — because it's possible.
The setting Zuckerberg referred to is one where users let other users search for them by e-mail address or phone number instead of by name.
Do you know if you had that turned on?

ADDED: I just went to Facebook and tried to figure out if I had that setting turned on, and I couldn't find it. I can see that I put my phone number in there, and I suspect they required me to give a phone number to get an account. I don't remember. But, you know, in the old days, we all had landlines and the phone company was the phone company. You had to use The Phone Company, and it delivered a phone book that had everyone's name and number in it (unless you paid them extra to be "unlisted").

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd sees the word within the word: "Not just scraped, gang-scraped."

I thought I'd read "demonization," but what YouTube does to video creators they don't like is "demonetization."

I'm reading a NYT article that looks at the YouTube policy that purportedly drove Nasim Aghdam to enter the YouTube headquarters, shoot 3 people, cause a major panic, and then murder herself.

It is, we're told, "likely" that Aghdam's problem with YouTube "had to do with a concept called 'demonetization'":
In response to pressure from advertisers and consumers, YouTube has been pulling ads from thousands of videos that it decides do not meet its standards for content.....

“My Revenue For 300,000 Views Is $0.10?????” Ms. Aghdam wrote on her website, while calling YouTube “a dictatorship.” “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!”

Ms. Aghdam’s complaints echoed what a wide range of YouTube posters — from self-described animal rights activists like her to right-wing political provocateurs — have increasingly been protesting over the last year.....

When YouTube was started in 2005, it took a hands-off approach to much of what was posted, so long as the content was not overly violent or sexual. ... But a series of news reports revealed big brands’ ads running alongside extremist, racist and other hateful videos, leading some companies to pull their money from the site. YouTube has since clamped down and pulled ads from thousands of controversial videos....

When YouTube pulls ads, it tells creators which videos violated the standards, though it doesn’t elaborate very much on what they did wrong....
I can understand how that feels. I have Google "AdSense" ads on this blog, and I often get bland corporate messages like this (click to enlarge):

So... what did I do? Where did I cross them? All I'm told is that the last 24 hours, "New violations were detected." What were the alleged violations? What is the rule I violated? What is the detection process? Is it working accurately? Do I have any recourse? None of those questions are answered, though there is a link to a "Help Center" and to the "AdSense Program Policies." I could read those policies and guess what I might have done to offend them, and I'm sure that if I were more dependent on the ad income and more willing to adjust my speech to avoid losing money I would read them.

I just assume somebody or some machine detected a violation of the "Content policies":
Publishers may not place AdSense code on pages with content that violates any of our content policies. Some examples include content that is adult, shocking, or advocates racial intolerance. Please see our prohibited content article for more information.
I'm sure any page of this blog could be deemed a violation if the faceless authorities at Google wanted to demonize/demonetize me. If I were less lucid (and more financially needy), I might feel persecuted and perhaps hopelessly blocked.

Look at this list at the "Prohibited content" page:
Adult content
Dangerous or derogatory content
Recreational drugs and drug-related content
Alcohol-related content
Tobacco-related content
Gambling and games-related content
Healthcare-related content
Hacking and cracking content
Pages that offer compensation programs
Misrepresentative content
Shocking content
Weapon-related content
Content that enables dishonest behavior
Illegal content
Each one of the things on that list is a link, and there's much more detail. It's as if making money with  this program has become a religion, with elaborate sins, and I'm supposed to continually search my soul and ask how have I offended thee, O Lord?

Almighty Google, Father of our AdSense, Monetizer of all things, Judge of all bloggers: I acknowledge and bewail my manifold sins and wickedness, Which I, from time to time, most grievously have committed, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against me...

The judgment comes down: "ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found." Which pages? Which violations? "To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages." Which pages are the violating pages? What did I do? Misrepresent something? Say the wrong thing about health care? Talk about a weapon?! Shock somebody? Mention a glass of wine? Smoke?!!

It's kind of a joke to me, but only because I'm old and financially and mentally secure. But Google and YouTube have millions of users — all kinds of people, and I know the corporate overlord needs to get and keep advertisers in the program, but the creators of the content matter and freedom of speech matters. It doesn't excuse crimes to say that Google and YouTube ought not alienate and antagonize these people. (It doesn't excuse school-shooting murders to say that more attention to the problem of bullying outsiders might have averted the tragedy.)

I assume the policy I keep inadvertently violating is the one about "Shocking content"
What's the policy?

We want to be sensitive to our advertisers and users. 
For this reason Google ads may not be placed on pages that display shocking content. Examples include but are not limited to:
  • Content containing gruesome, graphic or disgusting accounts or imagery (e.g., blood, guts, gore, sexual fluids, human or animal waste, crime scene or accident photos)
  • Content depicting acts of violence (e.g., accounts or images of shootings, explosions, or bombings; execution videos; violent acts committed against animals)
  • Content with significant obscene or profane language (swear or curse words)
Oh, for fuck's sake.

UPDATE: At 11:20 AM the day of this post, I got a message just like what you see above, telling me I'd committed a violation in the past 24 hours. I'm just going to guess it's my joke that ends this post. Really, fuck them.

April 4, 2018

In Iran, "they kill you by ax," but in the U.S., "they kill you with cotton."

Said the YouTube suicide shooter, Nasim Aghdam. To "kill you with cotton" is supposedly an expression in Iran, meaning to kill with something that doesn't seem to be dangerous. I'm reading this in the NYT, in "Vegan Bodybuilder’: How YouTube Attacker, Nasim Aghdam, Went Viral in Iran."
In another video, she responded to viewers who had begun to wonder if she was mentally ill: “I don’t have any special mental or physical disease, but I live on a planet filled with disease, disorders, perversions and injustices.”...

“If you are superficial, you will think it is heaven here, that you can go naked outside and have sex left and right like other animals without any morality,” she said in one video in Persian. “But if you enter the system, you will see that it is worse than Iran,” she said. “Those who want to inform people against the system and big companies get censored.”

"Clog life is not lived off the grid but grid-adjacent. It’s a fuzzy, fancy realm, littered with alpaca sweaters, Rachel Cusk novels, and trees that grow indoors, in charmingly primitive ceramic pots."

That's a little too close to where I live, except that I have no idea who Rachel Cusk is. I do have 5 10-foot tall avocado trees charmingly growing indoors, planted and tended to by the charmingly primitive ex-potter who shares my fuzzy realm. I wear sweaters. I've got enough clogs that I'd have to go count them to tell you the actual number, and I've been collecting them since right about when Dansko was founded (1990) and I first saw them in a CP Shades store, which... don't get me started on CP Shades.

The quote in the post headline is from "The Life-Changing Magic of Clogs" by Lauren Mechling (from January, in The New Yorker), which I'm reading because it's linked in "What’s the Next Status Clog?" (at NY Magazine)("Writer Lauren Mechling deserves credit for both coining the term clogerati, and confirming No. 6 as the current clog that confers status on its owner").

Okay, I looked up Rachel Cusk. I see there is a New Yorker article about her from last year, proving that though I subscribe to The New Yorker — it's the only! magazine I subscribe to — I don't even notice some of the articles:
In Rachel Cusk’s most recent novels, “Outline” and “Transit,” a British writer named Faye encounters a series of friends and strangers as she goes about her daily life. She is recently divorced, and while her new flat is being renovated her two sons are living with their father. There is something catlike about Faye—an elusiveness that makes people want to detain her, and a curiosity about their pungent secrets....
Don't you always feel like detaining a cat and telling it your pungent secrets?
“Consider the pizza,” [Cusk] writes. “It is like a smiling face: it assuages the fear of complexity by showing everything on its surface.”...

On certain birthdays, she told me, “I would get a call from my mom reminding me of the torment she had gone through on that date.” Cusk’s birth, in an understaffed hospital during a blizzard, was long and difficult. Cusk suggested that her father blamed her for the trauma his wife had suffered, because he always seemed angry with her. When she reached puberty, she began to feel that her developing body was “disgusting.” “I always felt repellent,” Cusk said. “That has come out in my work, unfortunately, as disgust for the repellent qualities of other people.”...

Her mother’s prudishness and conformity were, by Cusk’s account, stifling not only to the young Rachel. On the morning after she and Scamell-Katz were married—in “a fantastic party on the beach,” she said—“I met my father in the kitchen. ‘I didn’t realize there were men like that,’ he said of Siemon and his friends, who had been dancing wildly around a bonfire in knee-high boots. And he wished he could have been like them, boots and all. Because his own wildness had been domesticated by my mother.”
Men in boots and women in clogs. Get to know them. Eat smiling pizza, and tell secrets to cats.

"One of the worst things about being beautiful is that other women absolutely despise you."

"Women have made me cry my whole life. When I try to make friends with a woman, I feel like I’m a guy trying to woo her. Women don’t trust me. They don’t want me around their husbands. I’m often excluded from parties, with no explanation. I imagine their thought process goes something like this: 'What does it matter if I hurt her feelings. She has her looks and that’s more than I have. Life has already played favorites …' It’s kind of like being born rich, people don’t believe that you feel the same pain. It’s a bias that people can’t shake. Throughout my life, competitive, attractive, wealthy, entitled women really hated me...  Men were more loyal friends, but my boyfriends would always say: That’s because they want to get laid. So I’d think: Women dump on me. Men just want to have sex with me. Who am I? My closest friend was a gay man, he wasn’t jealous and he didn’t want to get laid. That might have been my only pure friendship."

From "What It’s Like to Go Through Life As a Really Beautiful Woman" by Alexa Tsoulis-Reay (New York Magazine).

I know what you're thinking: Maybe she wasn't as beautiful as she thought, but her thinking that made her personality awful, and you can tell it from this long list of complaints. She doesn't seem to like anyone too much — except that gay man who probably didn't like her and maybe mostly only wanted to be seen with a woman who had such an over-the-top, first-class, I-am-the-most-beautiful act going on — so it's no wonder she hates them all. She's hateful, the bitch.

Am I right? If yes, then that's why she's right. Gotcha!

"Facebook has said it now believes up to 87 million people's data was improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica."

BBC reports.
The details were revealed in a blog by the tech firm's chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer. It was published several hours after the US House Commerce Committee announced that Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, would testify before it on 11 April.

"Sara and Amanda Eldritch sometimes took showers that lasted upward of 10 hours."

"The inseparable identical twin sisters from Broomfield, Colo., would go through five bottles of rubbing alcohol every day, disinfecting their skin until it burned. They hardly ever left the house. When they did, they would stop eating and drinking hours in advance to the point of dehydration to avoid using public restrooms, they told local television station 9 News in 2016.... The deep brain stimulation surgery was the twins’ last resort.... 'Amanda and Sara Eldritch appeared on "The Doctors" two years after their surgery to share their story of hope and newly-discovered happiness,' a spokesperson for the syndicated talk show told The Washington Post early Wednesday morning. ]We are shocked and saddened to learn of their tragic passing.'"

From "Twin sisters known for battle with debilitating OCD die in possible ‘suicide pact'" (WaPo).

Into the depths of "Roseanne Gets the Chair" — Episode 3 of the "Roseanne" reboot.

It's seems like candy, a sitcom. You consume it, and it's gone. It's hard to even remember enough to talk about it. Maybe you can quote (or only paraphrase) a couple of lines — that's why we put marshmallows on yams? — and purport to know the "lesson" taught — parents need to set boundaries for their kids? — and retain a question to puzzle over — did Roseanne commit criminal child abuse on her granddaughter? 

But did you really see what happened?

I watched the show last night, and even had a conversation about it afterwards, but I didn't feel capable of writing about it without watching it again. So that's what I did, first thing this morning, when I got up at 5. I rewatched. And I did a lot of rewinding and thinking. I took notes — 5 pages of notes.

So what I'm going to do now is, essentially, "live-blog" my reading of my notes. That is, I'm going to post updates as I go. I plan to go really deep, which is why I'm using the the live-blog format, which I know seems (paradoxically) shallow. It will help me not get impatient with the length of what I want to say and to discover things that I'm sure are lying just beneath the surface, waiting to emerge. It is not candy. It is a Thanksgiving feast, with all the yams and marshmallows.

This is the best example of good trolling I have ever seen.

"Not to jump to any conclusions, but doesn't a quick look of the background in the shooter's YouTube video make you think of the background in Obama's official portrait?"

Here, by Oh Yea. Scroll up to see the still image of the YouTube self-murderer. And here's Obama's official portrait.

ADDED: I've written about the concept of good trolls before, most notably a month and a half ago, in "Who are the good trolls?" Here are the results of the poll I did back there:

ALSO: The last option on that poll actually read — in the originally poll you see at the link — "A good troll knows how to take the bait Althouse serves and whip it into a delightful new concoction."

"After it was reported that the suspect who opened fire at YouTube headquarters was a woman, the network's coverage turned to speculation of 'love triangles' and possible relationships."

Hollywood Reporter documents the criticism on Twitter:

"Love the @cnnbrk reporter's conjecture, once he found out the #youtube shooter was female, that the shooting was due to a #lovetriangle. Yes, and she was probably having her period too."

"CNN tees up a theory out of nowhere that the shooting must be a love triangle because the shooter was a woman. turning on Cartoon Network."

"I'm not sure why but hearing someone on @CNN say a female shooter might have to do with a 'love triangle' really pisses me off. Cuz she can't just be batshit like other fucking shooters?"

"@CNN Why did the analyst jump to the #lovetriangle motive? Because shooter was woman? Seems like a sexist jump. Never heard of that motive for other mass shootings."

"Of course since the YouTube shooter is a woman, terms like "crime of passion" & "love triangle" are already being used. Stop spinning webs."

Etc. etc.

Is there some corresponding thing on Fox News where when the name of the shooter came out — Nasim Aghdam — they were talking about Islamic terrorism? If not, Fox wins in the ongoing struggle to back off from the "fake news."

The now-dead lady seems to have been an animal-rights/PETA-type person who got mad at YouTube for affecting the income stream from her channel, which looked like this:

ADDED: I had the "murder" tag on this post, but the only person who died (so far, at least) is Aghdam. So the right tag is "suicide."

ALSO: I don't normally watch the news on TV, and this is why. I happened to sit through a couple hours of the YouTube story yesterday, because Meade turned it on, and I was in a nearby chair, reading on my iPad. I could have gone somewhere else to read, but I chose not to. The real news that was available during that time period was readable in less than one minute, so what was all that time on TV for? Well, I know what it's for for them. They have to fill their time, and they want to rope us in with the feeling that we're watching something happening live. It's O.J. Simpson in the white Ford Bronco, driving down the freeway forever. Oh! Maybe something's about to happen! Maybe O.J. will jump out of the car and blow his brains out on live TV! Don't want to miss that like I missed Jack Ruby darting in from the right-hand corner of the screen and blasting Lee Harvey Oswald in the stomach. Must monitor the dead time because it might suddenly spring to life... with death!!!

This just happened.


Morning at Meadhouse. Yes, we could throw some stuff in the car and drive straight south and be in summer, but isn't it pretty? Not that I think there's any chance of getting ski trails groomed on April 4th.

We wake up to news that the liberal candidate crushed the conservative in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race yesterday.

And the glorious news of the baseball game, which we'd fallen asleep to in the 8th inning:

I was up early, re-watching "Roseanne" and taking notes for a big post I'm going to need a few minutes to write. Meade came downstairs the middle of this project and said he wanted to interrupt this big effort of mine to see the end of the baseball game, which seemed kind of intrusive to me. I finished my re-watch — with 5 pages of handwritten notes — and we switched to the baseball game. Meade never let on in all that time that he knew how it ended. And it got down to the one last pitch, with 2 out in the 9th, and 2 strikes on Yelich. Yelich hit a home run, Braun was up, and the first pitch to Braun was another home run. Only then did Meade let on that he knew that would happen — even though I'd pressured him repeatedly, do you know how this ends? — and I got the full fun of seeing that happen in time-delayed "real time" — even though I was fighting the undercurrent of emotion that was, got to get the first post of the day up

And please wait for the next post to talk about the YouTube thing.

April 3, 2018

Sam Barsky, the guy who who photographs himself posing in front of something while wearing a sweater he's knitted with a picture of that thing knitted into it.

Such a perfect project for Instagram.

Just one of many examples:

I got there via "It’s Sweater Weather Forever/Samuel Barsky has gained a measure of fame online for posting photographs of himself in front of famous landmarks with his handmade sweaters" (NYT).
Mr. Barsky, a Baltimore native, said he started knitting in 1999 when he dropped out of nursing school at his local community college. Then, he was shopping at a flea market in Lutherville, Md., where he saw three women selling yarn. He asked if they would teach him how to knit.... At first he created nature scenes. But then he became taken with famous landmarks. “If I know my plans in advance I’ll knit a sweater and take it there,” he said.

"Virtually perfect Orwellian ambivalences—(War is Peace, Love is Hate, Ignorance is Knowledge)."

That's second quotation the Oxford English Dictionary gives us for the word "Orwellian." It doesn't have the distinction of being historically first, like the Mary McCarthy quote I talk about here, but it's helpful in understanding the development of this now too-common pejorative. It's from Norman Mailer's 1959 book "Advertisements for Myself":

Gah! I feel like I'm taking the SAT. It's hard to read, and what meaning does jump out on first scan seems not worth the trouble. Yes, if this were the SAT, I'd have to read it for the extrinsic reward, but I read only for intrinsic reward now — unless I'm doing our taxes or heeding warning labels. So I had to stop. I only saw one word that I liked, "twigs." Too dry!

I switched to a review at the Amazon link (above):
If there's one human characteristic I've never been fond of it is the super egotistical one. The chest thumping, endzone dancing just kind of ruins it for me, regardless of the accomplishment.... 
Ha, I thought: Trump. Not that the guy was thinking of Trump. He wasn't. He was writing in 2015 and just happened to prefigure Trump. For no reason, I clicked on Amazon's "Look inside," and the first thing I see — it's before the title page — is this Mailer quote:
Mailer never ran for President. He wasn't that super-egotistical. But he did run for Mayor of NYC.

Here's that time I sat under a Normal Mailer for Mayor poster when I was 19:
Althouse in 1970, age 19
PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Cohen.

And here's George Orwell, "1984": "I’m due back at nineteen-thirty. I’ve got to put in two hours for the Junior Anti-Sex League, handing out leaflets, or something. Isn’t it bloody? Give me a brush-down, would you. Have I got any twigs in my hair? Are you sure? Then good-by, my love, good-by!"

"The use of '11' as a maximum pre-dates This Is Spinal Tap by almost forty years."

"In 1947, the Baldwin Locomotive Works and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway introduced the Chesapeake and Ohio class M-1 steam turbine locomotive. The locomotive's throttle included eleven settings, ranging from one (idling) to eleven (full speed). The locomotive's cruising speed was 70 miles per hour (110 km/h), at which point the throttle was on 'seven.' During a trial run with a reporter from Popular Mechanics aboard, a C&O engineer expressed his dissatisfaction with a local speed limit of 75 miles per hour (121 km/h), noting that he would 'Sure like to be able to pull it back to eleven!' Gibson Les Paul guitars with low-impedance pickups were outfitted with special controls designed by Les Paul himself. Controls included a 'Decade Switch' which went up to 11."

From the Wikipedia article "Up to eleven."

"President Trump said... he planned to order the military to guard parts of the southern border until he can build a wall and tighten immigration restrictions..."

"... proposing a remarkable escalation of his efforts to crack down on migrants entering the country illegally.... The president on Tuesday also raised the issue of the 'caravans' of people he says are headed to the United States through Mexico. The caravan has been a popular topic on Fox News — the president’s favorite news network. The president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, said recently on 'Fox and Friends' that America’s current immigration policy is luring a caravan of Central American migrants to the United States. A group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras organized the caravan, which consists of about 1,200 people — including infants, the elderly and people facing violence in their homelands. The group predicted it would be at least a month before the caravan arrived at the United States border with Mexico...."

The NYT reports.

"'Will you wear a star in your hair at night ... or a little embroidered black veiling hat? ... Will you wear a close little choker of pearls or a medal on a long narrow velvet ribbon?"

"... Will you serve a lunch, in the garden, of prosciutto and melon and a wonderful green salad ... or sit in the St. Regis’ pale-pink roof and eat truite bleue?'... It is the 'Make Up Your Mind' issue: Vogue’s editresses are gently pressing the reader, in the vise of these velvet alternatives, to choose the looks that will 'add up' to her look, the thing that is hers alone. 'Will you make the point of your room a witty screen of drawings cadged from your artist friends ... or spend your all on a magnificent carpet of flowers that decorates and almost furnishes the room itself?' Twenty years ago, when Vogue was on the sewing-room table of nearly every respectable upper-middle-class American house, these sapphic overtures to the subscriber, this flattery, these shared securities of prosciutto and wonderful and witty had no place in fashion’s realm. Vogue, in those days before Mademoiselle and Glamour and Charm and Seventeen, was an almost forbidding monitor enforcing the discipline of Paris."

"Twenty years ago" was 88 years ago, because I'm reading a 1950 essay by Mary McCarthy "Up the Ladder from Charm to Vogue," found in the collection "On the Contrary: Articles of Belief." I just put that in my Kindle because I needed to search for something I knew was there, because the Oxford English Dictionary said it was there, even though Google books said it was not there.

No, it wasn't "sapphic." That word has been used to mean lesbian since 1766 — according to the OED — when it appeared in "Genuine Memoirs of the Celebrated Miss Maria Brown Exhibiting the Life of a Courtezan in the Most Fashionable Scenes of Dissipation Published by the Author of a Woman of Pleasure": "She whispered to me the plan of bliss which these extraordinary letchers had chalked out to themselves, and which they stiled the indulgence of the Sapphic passion."

I love the use of "sapphic" to describe the voice of Vogue seducing readers to the pleasures of long narrow velvet ribbon and prosciutto. But it's something else in that essay that I needed, something that relates to the third post of the day, "It's Orwellian the way it's always the other side that looks Orwellian." That Mary McCarthy essay contains the first appearance of the word "Orwellian." I mean, I am fascinated by the whole subject. Click on my "women's magazines" tag and you'll see. But I really wanted to see the context of this first use of "Orwellian" — the squib in the OED being merely "A leap into the Orwellian future." Let's read:

"Fake news" is a big category. Help me identify the subcategories.

I think there are subcategories and sub-subcategories. I've done some googling to see what other people have written in this vein and found things like this, which is on a much narrower track than I want to talk about, because the reason I want to talk about it is that I feel almost as if I cannot read the mainstream news sites anymore. They're cluttered with News from the Future and News from the Inside of Someone Else's Head, as if they've just decided to deliver a dosage of bad news every day.

Well, you can cool it, you can heat it
Cause, baby, I don't need it
Take your TV tube and eat it
'N all that phony stuff on sports
'N all the unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head begins to hurt...

Is the new season of "Roseanne" another alternate reality story?

The previous season ended with the revelation that what we had been seeing was a fiction written by the character Roseanne Conner to deal with what had really happened, most notably that Dan had died. So, Justin Kirkland speculates (at Esquire), maybe this season is another fiction, written by one of the characters to process the "true story" events that will be revealed in some later episode. Kirkland gets us started with 3 ideas:

1. "Jerry, orphaned and estranged from his family after Roseanne’s death, is writing his own book."

2. "Roseanne has been institutionalized after failing to escape the mania from writing a parallel universe."

3. "This is an extended nightmare from Aunt Jackie, who is in a coma."

You get the idea, and I'll bet some of you can come up with better examples. Kirkland didn't even get around to imagining the fictional story of all the main characters. I'm sure there's a reason to see the current season as a work of fiction written by Dan or Darlene or Becky. Well, we haven't seen enough of the season to really spin this out, but if you watch tonight, maybe you'll be inspired.