April 14, 2018

"There are, in fact, almost two trillion ways to lace a shoe with six pairs of eyelets."

"The most common lacing method, termed criss-cross lacing, is also one of the strongest and most efficient, but is not so well suited to certain dress shoes, such as Oxfords, because the central shoelace crossovers prevent the sides of the shoe from coming together in the middle. For such shoes, methods such as straight lacing are better suited. Many shoe lacing methods have been developed with specific functional benefits, such as being faster or easier to tighten or loosen, binding more tightly, being more comfortable, using up more lace or less lace, adjusting fit, preventing slippage, and suiting specific types of shoes. One such method, patented in 2003 as 'Double helix shoe lacing process,' runs in a double helix pattern and results in less friction and faster and easier tightening and loosening.... One of the most popular decorative methods, checkerboard lacing, is very difficult to tighten or loosen without destroying the pattern. Shoes with checkerboard lacing are generally treated as 'slip-ons.'"

From the Wikipedia article "Shoelaces."

"An Oxford shoe with straight lacing" — cc ASuitableWardrobe.

Straight-laced should not be confused with "straitlaced," which means tightly laced and originally referred not to the laces of shoes but bodices. The figurative use means "Excessively rigid or scrupulous in matters of conduct; narrow or over-precise in one's rules of practice or moral judgement; prudish" (OED).

"The Court... rules that, because transgender people have long been subjected to systemic oppression and forced to live in silence, they are a protected class."

"Therefore, any attempt to exclude them from military service will be looked at with the highest level of care, and will be subject to the Court’s ‘strict scrutiny.’ This means that before Defendants can implement the Ban, they must show that it was sincerely motivated by compelling interests, rather than by prejudice or stereotype, and that it is narrowly tailored to achieve those interests."

From "Judge: Transgender People A Protected Class, And The Military Can’t Enact Trump Ban" (HuffPo).

"I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she’s going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out."

"I don’t remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump, and so I’m sure that it was a factor."

Said James Comey, talking to George Stephanopoulos on the occasion of the publication of “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership."

New York Magazine is flummoxed that Trump wrote "Mission Accomplished!"

New York Magazine hyperventilates:
Is Trump really unaware of “Mission Accomplished”s history and implications? Or is he just demonstrating that no matter what ahistorical thing he says, no matter how ignorant he demonstrates himself to be, no matter how much he contradicts himself, he’ll still be labeled presidential for ordering an airstrike, while retaining an approval rating in the high 30s? It’s probably the first one, but there’s really no way of knowing.
You forgot the third option: Trump is completely aware of how Bush was punched around for using that phrase in a celebration of a specific mission that in fact was accomplished, and he would like the naysayers to come after him the way they came after Bush, and when they do, he'll show us all how to handle that kind of anti-military negativity.

At the Checkerdot Café...


... you can talk all day.

"Sex selection abounded in China’s ultrasound rooms and abortion clinics during the 1980s and ’90s..."

"... but laws and regulations enacted since 2001 have forbidden hospitals from carrying out the procedure. Unfortunately, this has led to the emergence of a network of so-called black clinics: underground establishments that offer illegal sex screening and abortions, and are usually operated by unqualified personnel. When preimplantation genetic diagnosis technology — a way of profiling the genes of an embryo before implantation in the womb — was first used in Chinese clinics in 1999, some of these customers then began appearing at underground IVF clinics, too. In the vast majority of cases, couples undergo illegal sex screening because they want to give birth to a boy, not a girl. Chinese society has historically favored sons over daughters for a number of reasons, particularly the notion that only sons can continue the family line. Although this cultural preference for boys harms society as a whole, couples who opt for illegal sex screening never seem to remember that many of their hoped-for baby boys will one day struggle to find romantic partners, thanks to their parents’ contribution to the country’s skewed sex ratio."

From "Chinese Couples Want Boys — Trust Me, I’m a Fertility Doctor/Too many parents-to-be come to me asking about illegal sex screening, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg" (Sixth Tone).

Goodbye to Milos Forman.

The great film director was 86 (NYT).
In his memoir, Mr. Forman said the producers of “Cuckoo’s Nest,” Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz, sought him out because “I seemed to be in their price range.” In fact, they had made a perfect match between filmmaker and material, in this case a cult novel by Ken Kesey....

“The People vs. Larry Flynt” pressed the limits of tolerance for an antihero with its sympathetic portrait of the Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt....

In 1999, “Man on the Moon,” Mr. Forman’s complex portrait of the comic Andy Kaufman and his alter-ego Tony Clifton, did only a little better for Universal Pictures....
All the great movies with white male anti-heroes! They seem to belong to a bygone era now. How influential these movie characters were on me.

"I’m fed up with [#MeToo]... I read somewhere that now you must ask a model if she is comfortable with posing. Its simply too much..."

"... from now on, as a designer, you can’t do anything. As for the accusations against the poor Karl Templar [creative director at Interview magazine], I don’t believe a single word of it. A girl complained he tried to pull her pants down and he is instantly excommunicated from a profession that up until then had venerated him. Its unbelievable. If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!"

Said Karl Lagerfeld, in an interview at Numéro... which is such a beautifully designed website that I am willing to believe that dropping the apostrophe in the contraction for "it is" was an aesthetic decision (and one that will, in time, catch on).

"Prosecutors like Mueller generally cringe when a witness speaks at length in public before a case has wrapped up."

"Comey’s blockbuster book and accompanying media tour, which kicks off in primetime on Sunday, will also expose him to the watchful eye of Trump allies and defense lawyers ready to exploit any inconsistencies in his accounts to their clients’ benefit. 'I’d have a conniption if I knew one of my witnesses was going to be writing a book,' said Nick Akerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney and Watergate prosecutor. 'From a prosecutor standpoint, you want a witness who hasn’t gone out and made lots of statements that can be used to cross examine him.... What he puts in there, he’s got to realize that’s his story and that’s what he’s sticking by.'"

From "Risks loom for Comey's book blitz/The former FBI director faces attacks on his reputation and could complicate Robert Mueller's Russia probe." (Politico).

April 13, 2018

At the Green Circle Café...


... you don't have to talk about whether that circle is your idea of green. You can talk about anything. At Althouse, a "café" is an open thread, so go on and talk all night. The other thing that happens in cafés is I remind you to use the Althouse portal to Amazon.

Trump addressing nation right now about strikes on Syria.

Live feed here (at Fox News) and elsewhere.

President Trump ordered a military attack against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday, joining allies Britain and France in launching missile strikes in retaliation for what Western nations said was the deliberate gassing of Syrian civilians.

The assault followed repeated threats of military action from Trump, who has been moved by civilian suffering to set aside his concerns about foreign military conflicts, since the reported chemical attack that killed civilians in the rebel-held town outside Damascus last weekend.
Yes, I was just listening to a news podcast that said if after all his threats Trump didn't strike Syria, he'd be the same as Obama drawing a red line and doing nothing when Assad crossed it. That seemed like a bad analogy to me, but Trump has now acted, so Trump is quite unlike Obama.

“His robe opened... He smelled like cigar and espresso and his body odor.”

"Here was America’s Dad on top of me... a happily married man with five children, on top of me.”

Said Janice Dickerson, yesterday at the Cosby trial.

Today at the trial (also NYT), Andrea Costand testified:
“I was kind of jolted awake and felt Mr. Cosby on the couch beside me, behind me, and my vagina was being penetrated quite forcefully, and I felt my breast being touched,” Ms. Constand said. “I was limp, and I could not fight him off.”

"This was sort of a grudging suit and tie. The tie wasn't really knotted very well. It kind of hung loosely from his neck."

"His shirt looked like it was a bit too big. The suit kind of looked like, OK, here's the most basic suit I can find.... and that's not to say that the suit wasn't expensive. It simply wasn't tailored.... This was a moment when this 33-year-old sort of disruptor really had to come face to face with the fact that he was no longer disrupting. He was in a position in which he had to fix things. And the suit really just underscored very visually that [Zuckerberg] was crossing from being an outsider into now being an insider.... He has, one, used fashion as a way to distinguish himself and to send a message about what it is that he believes he's doing and where his company is situated in the broader cultural context. But I also think it matters because one of the reasons these hearings are in fact televised is because they are political theater. Part of theater is the costuming, and that helps us understand who the players are, what their goals are and what the messaging is."

Ah! But then what does wearing an ill-fitting suit and tie mean?

The remarks are by Robin Givhan (interviewed on NPR about what Mark Zuckerberg wore to Congress).

I agree that it's theater. But:

1. All clothing is theater (the RuPaul adage is "We're all born naked the rest is drag"), and...

2. We need to ask what theater he provided, and I disagree that the bad suit and tie showed that he had crossed over to insiderdom. It would have been perfectly easy for the billionaire Zuckerberg to call in people to dress him in a perfectly fitting suit, a suit that would read to the theater audience as saying that he had arrived in the halls of power ready to assume what he acknowledges are the serious responsibilities that have arisen around him. By wearing a visibly bad suit, he sent the message that he is still the disruptive kid. The authorities got him into this suit, and he chose to look like the kid whose mom dressed him to go a funeral or whatever. He's the guy who did what he had to and adopted the outward trimmings, but only and always with the look of intended to get back into his T-shirt and jeans.

A Trump pardon for Scooter Libby?

Didn't George W. Bush already pardon Scooter Libby? No, Bush just commuted the 30-month prison sentence. Why is President Trump (reportedly) going to do what Bush did not?

I. Lewis Libby Jr., VP Dick Cheney's chief of staff, "was convicted of four felonies in 2007 for perjury before a grand jury, lying to F.B.I. investigators and obstruction of justice during an investigation into the disclosure of the work of Valerie Plame Wilson, a C.I.A. officer.... Mr. Libby was not charged with the leak itself and has long argued that his conviction rested on an innocent difference in memories between him and several witnesses, not an intent to deceive investigators."
Mr. Libby’s case has long been a cause for conservatives who maintained that he was a victim of a special prosecutor run amok, an argument that may have resonated with the president. Mr. Trump has repeatedly complained that the special counsel investigation into possible cooperation between his campaign and Russia in 2016 has gone too far and amounts to an unfair “witch hunt.”...

"I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady's door. Then she started yelling at me and she was like, 'Why are you trying to break into my house?'"

"I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High [School]. And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun, I saw it and started to run. And that's when I heard the gunshot."

Said the black 14-year-old boy quoted in "Black teen misses bus, gets shot at after asking for directions in Rochester Hills."

In the NYT "Daily" podcast recently, the host Michael Barbaro said flatly that Trump does not have the power to fire Mueller...

... so it's interesting to see an op-ed in the Times today, "Of Course Trump Can Fire Mueller. He Shouldn’t." It's by lawprofs John Yoo and Saikrishna Prakash (and I'm not going to look at the comments to see what I assume is a lot of negativity toward Yoo).

It's hard to link to something I remember hearing in a podcast, but I think it was this episode. I was disheartened to hear Barbaro — whom I like a lot and consider unusually sober and fair — present what is a difficult legal question as if it had a known and agreed-upon answer and to imply that Trump was deceitful or ignorant to claim the power to fire Mueller.

Yoo and Prakash lay out the other side of the question, the side that favors greater Executive Power:
[C]ritics insist that Mr. Mueller enjoys protection under Justice Department regulations, which provide that the special counsel may be “removed from office only by the personal action of the attorney general” for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause.”

According to this view, Mr. Trump must convince Rod Rosenstein, the acting attorney general, to fire Mr. Mueller. If Mr. Rosenstein refuses, Mr. Trump can fire him and replace him with someone willing to do the dirty work. Alternatively, the president could order Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the Mueller probe, to rescind the regulations, which date back to 1999, and then fire Mr. Mueller.

But this narrow view of the president’s options rests on a misunderstanding of basic constitutional principles. Ever since the founding, presidents, Congresses and the Supreme Court have recognized that the chief executive has constitutional power to remove executive officers....

A regulation issued by the Justice Department should not be read to limit the president’s constitutional power to remove officers....
Congress is considering a bill that would purport to protect Mueller from firing, but even assuming that did become a statute, it would be subordinate to the Constitution, which gives the President the power to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." There is Supreme Court case law on that subject  — Morrison v. Olson (1988), about the now-defunct independent counsel law (Congress's answer to Watergate).  It's hard to picture Morrison v. Olson getting overruled, but that's not the issue unless and until Congress passes the bill (and wouldn't Trump veto it? Perhaps not!).

By the way the Yoo and Prakash title — "Of Course Trump Can Fire Mueller. He Shouldn’t" — reminds me of the great old Nixon quote: "We can do that - but it would be wrong."

"James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired."

"He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and..... ....untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst “botch jobs” of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!"

Trump tweet tweets this morning. ("Tweet tweet" is my coinage for a run-on double tweet like this.)

I'm reading the tweet tweet at the NYT article "Trump Calls Comey ‘Untruthful Slime Ball’ as Book Details Released."

The book isn't out yet, and I'm not seeing any interesting new details. So I'll just say there shouldn't be any interesting new details, because Comey should have already told us the whole truth, not withheld morsels for the book — that is, for his own personal money making and career boosting.

I wasn't sure if "money making" should be one word, but I chose 2 words, so I could write this sentence connecting my deliberation on the subject to Trump's spelling "slime ball," because I'm utterly certain the correct spelling is "slimeball," although forevermore I will pause before writing "slimeball" and think of Trump and feel that it would be an allusion to Trump to write "slime ball."

In the 15-year history of this blog, I've used the word "slimeball" exactly once. In 2006, I called Glenn Greenwald a slimeball. (It was in self-defense: "Why not take a little trouble to try to understand the person you are criticizing before you write, you disreputable slimeball? (And your writing is putrid.)"

Anyway, if you want to buy the Comey book, here's the Althouse-supporting link to Amazon: "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership."

What I want to talk about is the incredible badness of the title. You've got a set of loftily — preeningly — positive words — "higher," "loyalty," "truth," and "leadership," and then you've got the clunker — "lies." "Lies" is sitting there as if it belongs in the set of positive things, as if it's one of the virtues Comey means to claim as his own. I realize it's there to imply that Comey is fighting against lies, but then for parallelism, he should have written "lie fighting" or something.

Consider Superman's catchphrase "truth, justice, and the American way." Imagine writing "Lies, justice and the American way." You'd get that Superman was against the lies, because he's Superman (or, as I like to call him, Super Man).

But Comey isn't Superman. We're not sure he's the good guy. He should not have "Lies" in the title as if it's one of the things with which he means to associate himself.

And consider the alliteration. There are a lot of Ls: "Loyalty... Lies... Leadership." In the logic of alliteration, the outlier is "Truth"!

Also, consider the rhyming. You hear poetry whether you consciously acknowledge it or not. And the internal rhyme heard by your mind's ear is "High... Lie..."

So that's 3 reasons why "Lies" jumps out: rhyming, alliteration, and being the odd thing in the set. Maybe Comey is so steeped in virtue that something is making him say: I am lying.

April 12, 2018

"Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to answer Wednesday about his social media site's seedy precursor - FaceMash."

"FaceMash, created by Zuckerberg out of his Harvard dorm room, was a Hot-or-Not-inspired site that pinned the photos of two Harvard women against each other and allowed users to vote on who was more attractive. The all-but-forgotten site was resurrected during Zuckerberg's Congressional grilling on Wednesday when Representative Billy Long (R-Mo.) asked Zuckerberg what FaceMash is and if it's still operational, a question a seemingly annoyed Zuckerberg tried to breeze past with a curt response.... In order to create the site, Zuckerberg obtained his fellow students' photos by 'nonconsensually scraping pictures of students at Harvard from the school's intranet'... Grabbing those photos from Harvard's 'facebooks' - the school's database of students’ pictures and basic information - on a protected computer network, landed Zuckerberg on probation by the university's disciplinary board after outrage from students prompted the site's shuttering.... 'Some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics,' [wrote Zuckerberg in his journal at the time]. 'I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive… Let the hacking begin.'"

The Daily News reports.

MORE: From WaPo:
The short-lived FaceMash website began with a love-scorned Zuckerberg in 2003, who began to drink and write in his blog about an idea to hack university servers and download photos of students without permission, according to a 2008 profile in Rolling Stone. Then, fellow students could vote on their attractiveness using an algorithm that ranked the selections.

“I’m a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it’s not even 10 p.m. and it’s a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland [dorm] facebook is open on my desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendous facebook pics,” he wrote that night....
He was very unattractive himself — physically and, apparently, emotionally — and he found a sneaky on-line way to restore his pride. I guess that's what the movie (mentioned at this point in the hearing) was about. "Social Network." I never bothered with that thing, so this FaceMash stuff feels new to me, though I'm sure I've read it before. It's interesting to think about the psychic pain and struggle that underlies Facebook. But some of that is Hollywood narrative. Yesterday, Zuckerberg brushed off FaceMash as a prank. Yet in these days when women are making our perspective dominant, the ugliness of men can't be laughed off as a prank. We're having a reckoning, remember?

Dog rescuers reap donations and spend the money acquiring more dogs from "puppy mill" type breeders.

According to The Washington Post.
Bidders affiliated with 86 rescue and advocacy groups and shelters throughout the United States and Canada have spent $2.68 million buying 5,761 dogs and puppies from breeders since 2009 at the nation’s two government-regulated dog auctions, both in Missouri, according to invoices, checks and other documents The Washington Post obtained from an industry insider. At the auctions, rescuers have purchased dogs from some of the same breeders who face activist protests, including some on the Humane Society of the United States’ “Horrible Hundred” list or the “No Pet Store Puppies” database of breeders to avoid, maintained by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Most rescuers then offered the dogs for adoption as “rescued” or “saved.”

"The romantic image of a genius who is at best self-absorbed and at worst plainly monstrous in private life is familiar from countless biographies of painters (writers, composers, directors)."

"The annals of art are littered with abandoned women, neglected offspring, heartbreaks and betrayals. Yet Gauguin, after deserting his family, went on to paint his celebrated landscapes of Tahiti, and Picasso — who fathered four children by three women, juggled mistresses and wives, and helped drive two of them to suicide — forever changed the face of modern art. Morality and immortality, it must be acknowledged, do not necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, the opposite often seems to be true: To achieve real mastery, the artist must be obsessed with work, fiercely protective of his time, ruthlessly selfish in his dealings with those who would impose upon him — all the small, needy people who ask for crumbs of his soul yet ask in vain — for all of it, undivided, is laid on the altar of Art."

That's the first paragraph of a NYT review of a novel about a "great artist" character. I've enjoyed a lot of art about artists over the years, but somehow this seems like such an obsolete topic. Who today is interested in spending time with a character who's a big genius (so we're told) and is rotten to women and children? Well, I have my problems with fiction, so I won't try to answer my own question. For nonfiction dealing with this topic, I like Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals."

"THE MOVIE 2001 IS NOW 50 YEARS OLD. If it were a reality, we’d have had space stations and moon bases for decades."

Writes Glenn Reynolds, suggesting that the movie pointed the way to an exciting, rewarding future of human life in space. That's not how I remember the movie! I've seen it twice, and I remember a very negative view of space life. So I'd say the movie was a reality. It was a real movie and real people in the real world saw the movie, and our emotional and intellectual response — the reality of what makes us human — was not enthusiasm about shooting more rocket ships at the sky, but complicated anxiety about the unknown, the brutality of separation from earth, and the remorselessness of robots.

"Climate Change Denialists Say Polar Bears Are Fine. Scientists Are Pushing Back."

NYT headline.

I'm not diving from my lonely ice floe into that freezing water right now. Let me know if it's good fishing.

"You don’t know if your friends are taking advantage of you because you have money. But a dom is like, I am taking advantage of you, and you’re going to like it."

"There’s that honesty that’s not there in your typical interactions with people," says Bratty Nikki, quoted in a Washington Post article "Meet the dominatrixes who control men where it really hurts: Their wallets."
“I think it’s the ultimate loss of control,” says financial dominatrix Bratty Nikki. “A lot of men are judged on how successful they are, and that is a good portion of what makes up their sense of self. When they say, ‘Hey, I’ve earned all this, and this is what I’ve worked for, this is a huge chunk of what makes me me, and I’m willing to give that up for you.’ I think they really enjoy that loss of power.”
The highest-rated comments all make the analogy to marriage, which is best summed up in the joke attributed to Willie Nelson and quoted in one of the comments: "Why get married? Just find a woman who hates you and buy her a house."

April 11, 2018

Bill Cosby's lawyer gets aggressive in his opening statement at the retrial.

The NYT reports:
Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., one of Mr. Cosby’s lawyers, shredded any sense that the defense would be cowed by the #MeToo moment. He presented Mr. Cosby’s accuser, Andrea Constand, in his opening remarks to the jury as a willful, greedy woman who ran a “pyramid scheme” and took advantage of a man who had lost a son.

“You are going to be asking yourself during this trial, ‘What does she want from Bill Cosby?’ And you already know the answer: ‘Money, money and lots more money,’” he said. “She has a history of financial problems until she hits the jackpot with Bill Cosby,” he added....

"The popularity of lightweight bras in China today echoes the 'natural breasts movement' of nearly a century ago. "

Sixth Tone reports:
Back then, beauty standards favored flat over busty: Many Chinese women bound their chests with white cloth or wore tight vests. Small so-called lilac breasts — as well as tiny feet — had long been the stuff of Chinese men’s sexual fantasies. On Women’s Day in 1927, a group of sex workers demonstrated naked in Wuhan, now situated in central China’s Hubei province, to protest breast binding. The year after the Wuhan demonstration, the government banned breast binding nationwide for health reasons, as it had done for foot binding more than a decade earlier....

Lingerie wasn’t something people talked about publicly until the 1990s, when modern advertising once more redefined society’s feminine aesthetics — this time favoring large bosoms.... But the tide is turning again — spurred in part by rising feminist awareness — and many young Chinese women are no longer ashamed of their small breasts...

“We are probably the first Chinese [underwear] brand that uses models with small breasts — in the past, every brand would look for models who had a ‘career line,’” Liu says, referring to cleavage enhanced by push-up bras that supposedly lead to smoother career paths in male-dominated offices.
But the lightweight bras, without padding, present the problem of showing nipples, which, we're told, is "still taboo" in China, but:
Mao, the public relations officer [at a retailer of non-padded bras], solves the problem by opting for thicker clothes whenever she wears a bralette. But she thinks visible nipples will gain acceptance at some point. “I’ve seen Rachel’s nipples on ‘Friends’ popping out many times,” she says.

"Now, Los Angeles officials want to turn NIMBYism on its head — by paying property owners to put houses for homeless people in their backyards."

Says the L.A. Times.
Local government could finance a homeless granny flat for three years for as little as $15,000 annually — roughly the cost of a shelter bed. Backyard units expand housing options without compromising the character of the region's single-family neighborhoods, the mayor's design consultant said....
All right then.


For I was... a stranger and you invited me in...

"The majority of the 44 lawmakers questioning Zuckerberg in the joint Senate hearing were not well versed in the workings of Facebook..."

"... or how data is shared between platforms, developers and advertisers. The questions generally focused on what Facebook was capable of doing, allowing Zuckerberg to stay in a safe zone of providing the basics.... "

Axios reports.

Janelle Monáe would like you to see her vagina pants.

And don't miss the pussy grabbing at 2:07.

Sleeping modules that go in the plane's cargo hold.

It looks interesting, futuristic, creepy... What do you think?

Here's the article, at CNN Money:
The mini-cabins -- or passenger modules, as Airbus (EADSF) and Zodiac (ZODFF) describe them -- will sit directly on the cargo floor and will not affect the loading of freight and luggage. Airlines will be able to swap the sleeping modules in and out of planes in place of regular cargo containers, the companies said.

The new federal legislation that closed down Backpage.com "is creating an actual market for pimps."

WaPo reports on the unintended consequences of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.
According to The Guardian, the site allowed sex workers to screen potential online clients before meeting them in person. It was a simple layer of safety without resorting to pimps for protection. These deals, that were once handled online, will now be pushed back into the open streets, leaving women on their own to protect themselves.
From the linked Guardian piece:
“It’s devastating,” said a sex worker who goes by the name Jala Dixon. “They just took everything from me.” Dixon, who is based in Georgia, said she chose to do sex work to help save money for school and that she was now considering turning to the streets. “This is really not doing anything but making us unsafe and putting us at risk.”
By the way, Trump hasn't signed the bill yet, so this is a plea for a veto.
Kristen DiAngelo, executive director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Sacramento, said her phone had been ringing off the hook since the seizure of Backpage: “The fear is astronomical.... They’ve just unemployed massive amounts of marginalized people... They’re taking away life-saving resources.”

"First of all, if you are a minority and support Trump, there is something wrong with you."

"Secondly, why do people think that 'free speech' entitles them to use free services such as twitter, FB, or YouTube however they like? It doesn't. You want free speech, go start your own website."

The second-highest-rated comment "Facebook told two women their pro-Trump videos were ‘unsafe’" at WaPo. The 2 women are Diamond and Silk.

ADDED: From Zuckerberg's testimony yesterday (via The Federalist, via Instapundit)(boldface added):
Ted Cruz: There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship. There have been numerous instances with Facebook. In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported Facebook had purposely and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news — including stories about CPAC, about Mitt Romney, about Glenn Beck. In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the Chik-fil-A appreciation page, blocked posts of a Fox News reporter, blocked over two dozen Catholic pages and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers after determining their content and brand were ‘unsafe to the community. To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that assessment?

Zuckerberg: I understand where that concern is coming from, because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place. This is actually a concern that I have in that I — and I try to root out in the company, is making sure we don’t have any bias in the work we do and I think it is a fair concern that people would wonder about....
Excellent answer by the well-prepped Zuckerberg. I am reading this looking for how Ted Cruz "savages" Zuckerberg. That's the word at The Federalist. Zuckerberg is saying, essentially, that the culture of Silicon Valley is so pervasively left-wing that well-meaning human beings applying what are supposed to be neutral standards may produce bias results. Zuckerberg acknowledges the problem of implicit bias and says he wants to deal with it.

Notice what he doesn't say: We're a private company and we have a right to favor the left over the right. That's the idea in the WaPo comment in the original post.

So far, no "savaging." The excerpt from The Federalist continues:
Cruz: Are you aware of any ad or page that’s been taken down from Planned Parenthood?

Zuckerberg: Senator, I’m not, but let me just …

Cruz: How about MoveOn.org? Or any Democratic candidate from office?

Zuckerberg: I’m not specifically aware. I’m not sure.

Cruz: In your testimony you say you have 15,000 to 20,000 people working on security and content review. Do you know the political orientation of those 15,000 to 20,000 people engaged in content review?

Zuckerberg: No, we do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they’re joining the company.

Cruz: Do you feel it’s your responsibility to assess users, whether they are good and positive connections or ones that those 15,000 to 20,000 people deem unacceptable or deplorable?

Zuckerberg: I think there are a number of things we all agree are clearly bad. Foreign interference in elections. Terrorism. Self-harm.

Cruz: I’m talking censorship.

Zuckerberg: You would probably agree that we should remove terrorist propaganda from the service. We want to get that done and we’re proud of how well we do with that. What I can say, and I do want to get this in — I’m very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas.
Where's the savaging?! Zuckerberg committed to avoiding political bias on Facebook. He didn't give Cruz that fight. Cruz was ready to show that the bias was happening, and Zuckerberg came prepared to defuse that: It can happen inadvertently because the political culture of Silicon Valley is so strong, but he's not defending that — he's working on it. I'm not saying I trust Zuckerberg to do that or even that he sincerely intends to do that. I'm only saying that Cruz gave Zuckerberg nothing he wasn't prepared to deflect.

April 10, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

"Civil libertarians should be concerned whenever the government interferes with the lawyer-client relationship."

"Clients should be able to rely on confidentiality when they disclose their most intimate secrets in an effort to secure their legal rights. A highly publicized raid on the president’s lawyer will surely shake the confidence of many clients in promises of confidentiality by their lawyers. They will not necessarily understand the nuances of the confidentiality rules and their exceptions. They will see a lawyer’s office being raided and all his files seized. I believe we would have been hearing more from civil libertarians — the American Civil Liberties Union, attorney groups and privacy advocates — if the raid had been on Hillary Clinton’s lawyer. Many civil libertarians have remained silent about potential violations of President Trump’s rights because they strongly disapprove of him and his policies. That is a serious mistake, because these violations establish precedents that lie around like loaded guns capable of being aimed at other targets."

Writes Alan Dershowitz in "Targeting Trump's lawyer should worry us all."

"Lindsey Graham waved around a thick document he represented as Facebook's Terms of Agreement and asked whether Zuckerberg thought every subscriber actually read it."

"I wish Zuckerberg would have responded by asking Lindsey if he read the entire tax cut bill before he voted for it."

Top-rated comment at "Zuckerberg details 'greatest regrets' as Congress grills the Facebook CEO" (WaPo).


"The most-viewed YouTube video of all time, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s 'Despacito,' disappeared from YouTube today after being defaced by hackers."

"The video’s image was altered and replaced with a masked gang holding guns (from Netflix show Casa de Papel), and the description was changed by hackers calling themselves Prosox and Kuroi’sh."

The Verge reports.

Did the Pope just say there is no Devil?

I'm reading this Reuters article because Drudge sent me there with the teaser, "After 'no hell', Pope gives devil due..." but I don't read this as an acknowledgment of the existence of Satan. Quite the opposite. Here, see if you notice what I notice:
In the document known as an Apostolic Exhortation called "Gaudete et Exsultate," (Rejoice and Be Glad)... Satan gets more than a dozen mentions... as Francis talks about how life can be "a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil."

He continues in the same section: "Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable."

Francis refers to the "wiles of the devil", "the spirit of the devil", "keeping the devil at bay", how to "banish the devil", and "snares and temptations of the devil".
There's a difference between saying the devil is not just a myth and what the Pope did say: we should not think of the devil as a myth. It's a "mistake" to "think of the devil as a myth" not because you'd be factually wrong but because we'd "let down our guard... grow careless and end up more vulnerable."

If you picture evil as a frightening, conscious entity who's out to get you, you will do a better job of being good. That's the idea expressed. I assume that the Pope, an intelligent and educated man, thinks the devil is, as he put it, "a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea," but he advises you not to think in those terms, which are too sophisticated for you. You'll get into trouble thinking like that.

"I think when push comes to shove, he is going to fold like a cheap deck of cards. I really do."

"With that said, I don’t, I’m not applauding or high-fiving anybody’s offices being raided by the FBI. It’s a very, very serious matter. And I think that this is the first significant domino to fall."

Said Michael Avenatti — the lawyer for Stormy Daniels — about Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer.

"Fold like a cheap deck of cards" is a silly thing to say. There is folding in poker, but the players fold, not the cards. Cards never fold on their own, and if a person folded one of the cards — cheap or expensive — it would make the entire deck unusable. As for folding an entire deck of cards — I think the strongest man in the world couldn't do that, even with the cheapest possible cards. So: what a bad simile. And yet it's memorable. It's all over the news today.

By the way, speaking of expressions amped up with the word "cheap," I've never understood "all over him like a cheap suit." Aren't all suits "all over" the person who's wearing it?

Man eats a whole Carolina Reaper pepper and gets "thunderclap headaches."

The NYT reports:
Dr. Lawrence C. Newman, a neurologist and director of the headache division at NYU Langone Health, said, “On a one to ten scale, it’s off the charts.”....

The new study does suggest that capsaicin, being investigated for its role in alleviating pain and lowering blood pressure, can have unexpected effects on certain people....

The Reaper was bred to reach record levels of heat. Reached by phone at the PuckerButt Pepper Company in Fort Mill, S.C., the Reaper’s creator, Ed Currie, offered mixed advice on pepper consumption.

On the one hand, he said, “People who eat whole Reapers are just being stupid.” But Smokin’ Ed, as he calls himself, also gave the impression that wasn’t such a bad thing. “We eat them all the time,” he said, with no ill consequences beyond pain.

"Caucasians are able to jump around, and it’s not a big deal for them to be blond, a redhead or brunet, whereas those same rules don’t apply to us"

"It would be so empowering to be able to just try anything the way the rest of the world seems to be able to without any problems.... Maybe this is one part of unlocking the standards we’ve been imprisoned by... It may seem like a silly, frivolous act, an act of vanity, but Asians and Asian-Americans have a history of being marginalized and ignored, so whatever the political statement is, maybe by having blond hair, it’s a very simple declaration: 'Here I am. Pay attention to me. See me.'"

Said Greta Lee, an actress, quoted in "Why So Many Asian-American Women Are Bleaching Their Hair Blond" (NYT).

Why is blond hair so important? I googled that and ended up in the obvious place, Wikipedia, which has a really long article on the subject. Excerpt, under the heading "Sexuality":
In contemporary popular culture, blonde women are stereotyped as being more sexually attractive to men than women with other hair colors.... Some women have reported they feel other people expect them to be more fun-loving after having lightened their hair. The American novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler offers an appraisal of the blonde as social criticism in his novel The Long Goodbye (1953):

April 9, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can talk about anything.

"It was my birthday but I hadn’t slept all night so at 7:00 A.M. I took a sleeping pill, but it acted more like an up. I really feel like an old-timer this time."

"I can’t believe I’m so old because that means (laughs) that Brigid’s old, too. It’s too abstract. I can’t even squish a roach anymore because it’s just like a life, like living. I glued myself together and wanted to walk. Got a lot of phone calls about my birthday. Todd Brassner called and I told him to come down and bring me a present, but he didn’t."

That's from the Wednesday, August 6, 1980 entry in "The Andy Warhol Diaries." You see why I'm quoting that today?

There's also: "Friday, March 25, 1977—Los Angeles Up at 7:00. Todd Brassner called and said he just saw Muhammad Ali in the Polo Lounge, and that he also saw Charles Bronson in the lobby."

And: "Friday, November 3, 1978 — The Elvis at the Parke Bernet auction on Thursday went for $85,000. It was estimated to go between 100 and 125. The market’s peaked for contemporary art. Todd Brassner said the Mao was about to go for $4,000 and he bid it up to $5,000 and then somebody else got it so he was thrilled."

Yeah: Todd Brassner. Does the name ring a bell?

"Art Collector and Bon Vivant Dies in Trump Tower Home He Couldn’t Sell" (NYT). What do you have to do in life to get called in "bon vivant" in a NYT headline when you die? He died famously, in a big fire in Trump's tower, but how did he live to gain a status called "bon vivant," reportable as a matter of fact in the sober NYT?
“He led a very out-there life,” said Jodi Stuart, who was Mr. Brassner’s first girlfriend and had been in and out of his life since. “Out there in sports cars, out there in rock ’n’ roll, playing Hendrix on guitar, bigger than life.... We used to go to the Fillmore East and Max’s Kansas City... Todd got right in with the Factory and Andy Warhol. He picked em: Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, Jaguars, beautiful homes, beautiful women.”...

Todd Brassner fit right into the Warhol orbit, and often went shopping with the artist, said Stuart Pivar, a collector who was very close to Warhol. “They were like two 14-year-olds, seeing the world..."...

Mr. Brassner’s struggle with drugs brought him into contact with “shady characters, who snookered him out of masterpieces,” Mr. Pivar said. The apartment was so cluttered Mr. Brassner could barely move, Mr. Pivar said.

"Despite the physical changes wrought by the hormones, Abby continued to suffer from a profound self-consciousness about her face."

"She felt that when she was seen from the front she looked persuasively feminine, and even striking, with abundant hair that framed her face, and wide-set eyes. But when she turned her head she looked far more masculine: the bossing of her brow showed in profile, as did the length of her jaw.... Abby’s self-consciousness in the company of others was nothing compared with the unhappiness she felt when faced with her own reflection. Whenever she passed a mirror, she saw the ghost of her former self, and it appalled her. Though [the surgeon] Ousterhout had developed his [face-feminizing] procedures on the premise that his trans patients wished to move through the world without attracting unwelcome notice [and 'gradually came to believe that he should try to make his patients look not just like average women but like beautiful women'], Abby’s desire to undergo the process was more interior. The person whose reaction to her face she most wanted to change was herself."

From "The Story of a Trans Woman’s Face/For one patient, facial-feminization surgery gave her what she needed to just be herself" by Rebecca Mead (in The New Yorker).

Consider the argument against face-feminizing surgery that comes from a transgender activist, the actress Laverne Cox:
“There are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them, and we shouldn’t have to to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves.” A few years ago, Cox launched the hashtag #transisbeautiful, explaining on her blog that she wanted to “celebrate all those things that make trans folk uniquely trans.” She has spoken of being grateful that, by the time she could afford facial-feminization surgery, she no longer wished to undergo it.
If you assume that it makes sense for individuals to say that their true identity is different from what their body actually looks like, would you necessarily have to go along with the idea that the true identity of a person born with a man's body and face is not just a woman's body and face but a beautiful woman's body and face (or an unusually-feminine-looking woman's body and face)?

"The F.B.I. on Monday raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing records related to several topics..."

"... including payments to a pornographic-film actress. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search 'completely inappropriate and unnecessary.' The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but likely resulted from information he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York."

The NYT reports.

Commenters there exult:
My day just got 1,000% better....

Wow. The system works. It really works....

If a porn star winds up being the one to take Trump down, it will prove to me that karma actually exists in the absence of other forms of justice....

Whoa, wait. I thought this was a "nothing burger." I heard it so many times, and now the Feds have raided this man's office. Practitioners of "Nothingburger-ism," please, explain.
UPDATE: WaPo reports: "Trump attorney Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, campaign finance violations, according to a person familiar with the case."

Indulge me for a moment with this separate post that pulls together something from the previous 2 posts (or don't indulge me, just move on!).

In the comments to the post about the word "editrix," Ignorance is Bliss excerpts something from the excerpt I'd provided as I was continuing my reading of Mary McCarthy's 1950 essay, "Up the Ladder from Charm to Vogue":
...there appears to be some periodic feminine compulsion on the editresses’ part to strike a suffragette attitude...
That excerpt sets up IIB's quip: "I'm guessing the period is approximately every 28 days..."

First, I need to say I think Mary McCarthy meant to make you think that, because the very next paragraph is:
And as one descends to a lower level of the fashion structure, to Glamour (Condé Nast) and Charm (Street and Smith), one finds a more genuine solicitude for the reader and her problems. The pain of being a BG (Business Girl), the envy of superiors, self-consciousness, consciousness, awkwardness, loneliness, sexual fears, timid friendliness to the Boss, endless evenings with the mirror and the tweezers, desperate Saturday social strivings (“Give a party and ask everyone you know”), the struggle to achieve any identity in the dead cubbyhole of office life, this mass misery, as of a perpetual humiliating menstrual period, is patently present to the editors, who strive against it with good advice, cheeriness, forced volubility, a psychiatric nurse’s briskness, so that the reiterated “Be natural,” “Be yourself,” “Smile,” “Your good points are you too” (Mademoiselle), have a therapeutic justification.
And that description of the "BG (Business Girl)" is exactly what I was talking about at the end of the previous post, the one about "Nomadland" (a book that describes the RV life as "dark and depressing"). I said:
Perhaps all jobs could be described in words that would move readers to say oh, those poor, desperate people. A journalist can, in words, find what she wants to find. 
And look at those words McCarthy came up with! Office life is like "a perpetual humiliating menstrual period." McCarthy set herself above the women who were writing the magazines for women. She saw the office workers as living dark and depressing lives, and the editors had their own dark and depressing lives, forced to churn out prose to con the BG (Business Girl) into buying another magazine to ease "the pain of... envy of superiors, self-consciousness, consciousness, awkwardness, loneliness, sexual fears, timid friendliness to the Boss, endless evenings with the mirror and the tweezers, desperate Saturday social strivings [and] the struggle to achieve any identity in the dead cubbyhole of office life."

What if you thought your RV life was adventuresome, fun, and cool and some book came out...

... that "reveal[ed]" your way of life to be "dark, depressing and sometimes physically painful"?

MarketWatch interviews journalist Jessica Bruder about her book "Nomadland":
The “workamper” jobs range from helping harvest sugar beets to flipping burgers at baseball spring training games to Amazon’s “CamperForce,” seasonal employees who can walk the equivalent of 15 miles a day during Christmas season pulling items off warehouse shelves and then returning to frigid campgrounds at night.... Few have chosen this life. Few think they can find a way out of it. They’re downwardly mobile older Americans in mobile homes.
Yeah, but what if you are someone who's chosen this life and loved the chance to see the spring training games? You're like a Dead Head of baseball, making enough money on the side to keep following your passion, hanging out with other people who love baseball, not taking the work seriously. Boy, do you look stupid now! You're not living a great life. Bruder's got news for you. You are pitiable and downtrodden! Suffer now, doing all the things you'd once imagined were enviable.

What if you thought getting paid for walking 15 miles a day was great, like getting paid for hiking the Appalachian Trail? You are so dumb!

Excerpt from the interview:
Some of the Nomads had to work alongside robots, such as in the Amazon warehouses. How was that?

The robots were making them bonkers. This is isolating work and there’s one scene in the book where a robot kept bringing a woman in her 70s the same thing to count.

What needs to change to prevent people from having to become Nomads or to help them live better if they are?

For one thing, Amazon should pay its workers more and give them better working conditions. It’s laughable that the workers get a 15-minute break when they have to spend it walking to the break room. It’s completely insane.
But the seasonal workers don't drive the robots "bonkers," and the robots never need a break, and if they did need to be programmed to take detours to the break room, they'd never find it "insane."

Maybe all the work (or all the crazy-making work) should be done by robots, and I have no quarrel with the perennial calls for better wages and working conditions, but is this warehouse work really so horrible? Aren't there some people who like it and like the seasonality of what they can get — and so easily — with CamperForce?

Perhaps all jobs could be described in words that would move readers to say oh, those poor, desperate people. A journalist can, in words, find what she wants to find.

But is it really there? I don't know. Many times on this blog, I have questioned whether human beings really love a life full of travel. It seems like mass delusion to me, but I have been willing to believe that there are many people who prefer to be free of a permanent home base and out in the world on wheels and fancy-free. If they work their way through this experience, are they less happy than the people who work at home 95% of their time, piling up enough money to blow as they spend 5% of their time getting in and out of airports and hotels and, at long last, traveling? What are those permanent-home-based lives like? I'm sure plenty of that is driving people bonkers.

When Maureen Dowd used the word "editrix"...

I asked:
By the way, do you find "editrix" jaunty and amusing, annoying and groan-worthy, or evidence that Dowd isn't doing feminism right?
It doesn't really matter who the "editrix" in question was, but it was some former editor of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.

I got a lot of interesting answers. Robert Cook went for what I see as the traditional feminist answer:
"Editrix" is anachronistic, as are terms such as "waitress" and "actress," etc. The terms "editor," "waiter," (now "server"), and "actor" are not innately masculine in their connotations, and so are suitable--preferable--when referring to females working at these jobs.

"Editrix" is anachronistic, as are terms such as "waitress" and "actress," etc. The terms "editor," "waiter," (now "server"), and "actor" are not innately masculine in their connotations, and so are suitable--preferable--when referring to females working at these jobs.
Mary Beth did the research:
Yeah, like early 20th Century, when the word was first used. Google Ngram shows it becoming popular in 1911, except for one fluke blip in the graph in 1838. It actually looks like it's becoming more popular.

We don't need gendered nouns in a non-gendered language so the use of one seems like an affectation. It was still the most interesting thing in what I read.
Though rhhardin joked us in a childish direction — "Editrix is for kids" — quite a few minds went straight from "-trix" to "dominatrix." Owen said:
"Editrix" should be "editrice." Sounds less like black leather and fishnet stockings, more classy.
And Ignorance is Bliss said:
I find a sudden urge to check if PornHub has and editrix category, just to see what that might involve.
And I think that's something of what's going on in the mind of tim in vermont:
As a man, I can only say "editrix" communicates female power and competence. But we men know nothing, we think that the sexes are different in many ways not visually obvious.
Similarly, FIDO:
["Editrix"] is perfect for a controlling female authority figure, adding a little panache to an otherwise dreary field.
I'm front-paging all that because I thought this was quite a coincidence yesterday: I was continuing my reading of Mary McCarthy's "Up the Ladder from Charm to Vogue" (in the essay collection "On the Contrary: Articles of Belief"), first blogged about in this post on April 3d (which I was reading because I'd done the research and discovered that it is the first published appearance of the word "Orwellian" (in 1950)). And I encountered the word "editress."
Unlike the older magazines, whose editresses were matrons who wore (and still wear) their hats at their desks as though at a committee meeting at the Colony Club, Mademoiselle was staffed by young women of no social pretensions, college graduates and business types, live wires and prom queens, middle-class girls peppy or sultry, fond of fun and phonograph records....

But beyond the attempt [by Vogue] to push quality goods during a buying recession like the recent one, or to dodge responsibility for an unpopular mode (this year’s sheaths and cloches are widely unbecoming), there appears to be some periodic feminine compulsion on the editresses’ part to strike a suffragette attitude toward the merchants whose products are their livelihood, to ally themselves in a gush with their readers, who are seen temporarily as their “real” friends.
There are 2 other appearances of "editress" in the essay, including one, I realize now, that was in the excerpt I put up on April 3rd:
As an instrument of mass snobbery, this remarkable magazine [Flair], dedicated simply to the personal cult of its editress, to the fetichism of the flower (Fleur Cowles, Flair, a single rose), outdistances all its competitors in the audacity of its conception. It is a leap into the Orwellian future, a magazine without contest or point of view beyond its proclamation of itself, one hundred and twenty pages of sheer presentation, a journalistic mirage....
I'm not going to insist that Maureen Dowd read my blog post, but if it's more than coincidence that her next column uses a feminine form of "editor," I wonder if she considered the word "editress" and opted instead for "editrix" and, if so, why? I think the answer is up there in what various commenters said: "editrix" sounds more exciting and dominating and "editress" is condescending. Mary McCarthy certainly meant to sound condescending as hell.

The OED says the "-trix" ending began in English with some words adopted from the Latin — administratrix, executrix, persecutrix, etc. And: "The suffix has occasionally been loosely used to form nonce-feminines to agent-nouns in -ter, as paintrix n. instead of the regular paintress. The commoner suffix in English is -tress suffix...." That is, when you go for "-trix" rather than "-tress" to goof around with feminizing one of those nouns about things people do, you're being weirder, and therefore going for an effect, like making us laugh or get excited, which is what Dowd did.

Prepping for his testimony in Congress tomorrow, Zuckerberg takes a "crash course in humility and charm."

The Economic Times reports that Facebook hired "a team of experts, including a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, to put Zuckerberg, 33, a cerebral coder who is uncomfortable speaking in public, through a crash course in humility and charm. The plan is that when he sits down before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees Tuesday, Zuckerberg will have concrete changes to talk about, and no questions he can’t handle."

Remember the terrible impression Bill Gates made when he did a deposition in the government's antitrust case against Microsoft, back in 1998, when his company was hot to beat Netscape in the browser business? Here's WaPo at the time:
A testy and fidgety Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates made another electronic appearance at the antitrust trial of his company yesterday, giving answers that were alternately combative and forgetful as he fielded questions in a videotaped deposition about rival Internet software products.

His responses, which included quibbles about the definitions of such words as "concerned" and "compete," prompted the judge hearing the case to chortle and shake his head in disbelief....

Microsoft officials say that Gates responded in the same way that any company leader would in a similar situation, trying to focus questions so that he could give precise answers....
The government (in the form of David Boies) was out to make Gates look dishonest and conniving its own special theater (the court system), and the government (in the form of some Senators) will try to do that to Zuckerberg, who at least is taking the precaution of getting special training in how to perform in the theater that is the U.S. Senate.

ADDED: You can read Zuckerberg's prepared testimony here. Key quote:
"We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here."
I note the Trumpianly short phrases and clear speech. As with Trump, of course, the relationship between those crisp words and what he really knows, feels, or intends to do is completely ambiguous.

The puzzling story about Steve Wozniak leaving Facebook.

Well, first of all, I didn't even know Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak worked at Facebook. What's he done? Is he important? But look at this reason he gives for suddenly up and quitting:
"Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook and ... Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this," he said in an email to USA TODAY. "The profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back.... Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you," Wozniak said. "As they say, with Facebook, you are the product."
Yeah — "as they say" — it's what everybody knows. You get something free and the website is monetized with advertising, just like TV, but Facebook is especially well positioned to show advertisers who will see the ads. We've known this for a long time, and people don't seem to mind that they're getting precision-aimed ads. Some of us even like that about the advertising. For example, I see mostly ads for shoes and clothes from sellers I like.

If Wozniak is leaving now, isn't he leaving to get away from the current scandal about letting other organizations get the data to use in politics and whatever fallout is impending from Mark Zuckerberg's testimony in Congress tomorrow?
On Sunday, [Wozniak] deactivated his Facebook account after posting the following message: "I am in the process of leaving Facebook. It's brought me more negatives than positives. Apple has more secure ways to share things about yourself. I can still deal with old school email and text messages."
Apple is better, he says. Perhaps he's remonetizing himself.

ADDED: Commenters are telling me that Wozniak isn't "leaving" Facebook in the sense that we normally hear about executives leaving a firm. He's just "leaving" it as another user like you and me. That's not worth writing a news article about! I misread that because I assumed USA Today would report news!

"The Terrible Cost of Obama's Failure in Syria/The atrocities keep coming."

By Kathy Gilsinana in The Atlantic. (Yes, The Atlantic, which recently fired its newly hired conservative, Kevin D. Williamson, is highlighting Obama's failure as Syria gas-attacks its way onto the news front-burner this week.)
“We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” declared then-Secretary of State John Kerry on Meet the Press in 2014. ... But there were two important and deadly loopholes. The first was that Assad did not declare everything—a reality that Kerry acknowledged publicly, including in a farewell memo to staff, in which he wrote that “unfortunately other undeclared chemical weapons continue to be used ruthlessly against the Syrian people.” The second was that chlorine gas, which has legitimate civilian uses, was not part of the deal....
But, despite that surprising headline, the article doesn't accept Trump's blaming of Obama:
President Trump has labeled the [recent gassing] “an atrocity,” blaming the Obama administration for declining to enforce its declared “red line” against chemical weapons use in 2013. But if anything, until this morning it looked like the Trump administration was more interested in extricating itself from Syria entirely. The attacks follow a strange few days in Washington, as the president stated his desire to get out of Syria “very soon;” his advisers insisted the U.S. was staying to finish the job of defeating the Islamic State; and the White House tried to resolve the contradiction by insisting that American troops would stay in Syria until ISIS was gone, an outcome that was rapidly coming to pass.
The article doesn't say what should be done, and of course, I don't know. I'll just say that if Assad had civilians gassed just as Trump was saying let's get out of Syria soon and his advisers were contradicting him and saying we need to finish the job, Assad seems to be weighing in on the side of the advisers and saying Bring it on. Now, why would he do that?

April 8, 2018

At the Sunday Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

Maureen Dowd has "noticed a weird pattern, in fiction and life, about sexual encounters..."

"Women decide they’re not attracted to a guy they’re nestling with. Limerence is not in the cards. But they go ahead and have sex anyhow."

Yeah, we all have.* And we all have our ideas about it. It's not that difficult to understand. The question is whether Maureen Dowd has found something new in the explanation or just an especially interesting way to talk about it.

Not really, she just found a woman she can interview about it:
I call Joanna Coles, the chief content officer of Hearst magazines and the former editrix of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. The 55-year-old Brit has a new book called “Love Rules,” a guide to avoiding the digital sand traps in relationships....

“There’s a new sense in which young women feel that they are now in competition with porn, and if they don’t put out, it’s easy for the guy to go home, log in to Pornhub and get what he needs there,” Coles says. “They’re sublimating their own needs to try and please the guy. Then they realize their needs weren’t being met at all.

“Porn sex is designed to get men off in six to eight minutes. Many men don’t know how to interpret female behavior in bed unless it replicates a porno film.”
Take it from a 55-year-old Brit with a book to sell.

By the way, do you find "editrix" jaunty and amusing, annoying and groan-worthy, or evidence that Dowd isn't doing feminism right?


* I'm writing this footnote as I proofread the published post: We all have noticed. That's what I mean. Not, we all have gone ahead and had sex anyhow. I'm not accidentally and casually confessing to Cat-Personing.

Apparently Stormy Daniels has one more thing that she needs to tell us.

Her lawyer says just wait.

A tease! Just tell us! Because if you don't, it looks like you're trying to get attention or money. And it seems like an admission that this whole stink bomb has fizzled.

"The Capgras syndrome was really the breakage of our bond. It’s horrible because it’s such a disconnect between you and your loved one."

"He would brush me away, thinking I was an intruder or some stranger who was interfering in his life."

There's a strange psychological disorder where you think people you know are other people who only look like them.

Like other Capgras patients, Marty Berman believed his wife had been replaced by an impostor. Others have dismissed loved ones as aliens, robots or clones. A number of cases have involved shocking acts of violence toward the delusional misidentified person. A 2014 report describes two cases of men with Capgras syndrome murdering their own mothers, while a 2015 report details how a Capgras patient with Parkinson’s disease became increasingly violent toward the different “versions” of his wife. One earlier reported case involved a patient who decapitated his “robot” father to find the batteries in his head....
One theory about how this happens is that there's "brain damage that prevents familiar faces from evoking an emotional response" and something else "prevents patients from rejecting the delusional belief."

Whatever the cause of that apparently real condition of a defective brain, I note its resemblance to the common thought in mentally healthy people expressed in statements like, "You're not the man I man I married" and "Who are you?" and "I don't even know who you are anymore." Those are so common they're clichés. And, of course, there are many movies like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" where the same actors are used to play the normal people and the monsters. One reason to make a movie like that is to save money on actors and make up, give the stars more screen time, and concentrate on character, not special effects. But another reason is that it really hits home, this idea that your loved ones, friends, and superiors have been replaced by strangers who might be malevolent. If this were a column in The Washington Post, I'd add a kicker about Donald Trump right here.