April 28, 2018

At the Limbo Cafe...


... it will blow your mind.

"I write this letter at 4 A.M., the dawn of my new existence as an accused sexual predator."

Said Tom Brokaw, quoted in "'My New Life as an Accused Predator': Tom Brokaw Privately Attempts to Discredit his Accuser" (Vanity Fair).

"There are roughly three thousand sheriffs in America, in forty-seven states. Arpaio and Peyman are among the dozens aligned with the 'constitutional sheriffs' movement.'"

"Another is David A. Clarke, Jr., the cowboy-hatted Wisconsin firebrand who considered joining the Department of Homeland Security.... There are even more followers of constitutional policing across America among law enforcement’s rank and file. One group, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, or C.S.P.O.A., claims about five thousand members.  C.S.P.O.A. members believe that the sheriff has the final say on a law’s constitutionality in his county. Every law-enforcement officer has some leeway in choosing which laws to enforce, which is why it’s rare to get a ticket for jaywalking, for example. But, under this philosophy, the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which dictates that federal law takes precedence over state law, is irrelevant. So is the Supreme Court. 'They get up every morning and put their clothes on the same way you and I do,' Finch told me. 'Why do those nine people get to decide what the rest of the country’s going to be like?' To the most dogmatic, there’s only one way to interpret the country’s founding documents: pro-gun, anti-immigrant, anti-regulation, anti-Washington.... When [Richard] Mack launched the C.S.P.O.A., around 2010, he described it as 'the army to set our nation free.'... Mack personally disavows discrimination and infuses his lectures with the language of the civil-rights era. He likes to say, 'We should have never heard of Rosa Parks,' explaining that a constitutional sheriff wouldn’t have arrested her...."

From "The Renegade Sheriffs/A law-enforcement movement that claims to answer only to the Constitution" by Ashley Powers in The New Yorker.

It was the mention of the Sheriff of Malibu (in "The Big Lebowski") in the previous post that reminded me I wanted to blog that article. Remember that scene?

"We got a nice quiet beach community here... Stay out of Malibu, deadbeat! Keep your ugly fucking goldbricking ass out of my beach community!" Malibu is a city, not a county, so that guy is not a sheriff, but — as the screenplay says — the chief of police.

"Jesus was into the whole brevity thing, and the aloof rhetoric he used to deflate the invective and indignant finger-pointing of his enemies bears close resemblance..."

"... to the ways in which The Dude [in The Big Lebowski] shows his default distrust and dislike for authority. When Jesus faced the authorities of his time and place, whether they were religious rulers, political leaders, or civil officials, he refused, even when it cost him, to show deference. Earthly hierarchies held no value in the philosophical system or moral practice of Jesus. The Dude, at no point, humbles himself at the feet of millionaires, law enforcement, or known pornographers. One of the messages of the Gospel is that respect and reverence are qualities given to a person, regardless of that person’s level of income and social status, only after that person has proven herself worthy. Jesus told his followers that what a person puts inside of his mouth does not make him clean or unclean, but only the words that person allows to leave his mouth. He also cherished the gift of one bit from a severely impoverished woman more than a large donation from a boastful tycoon. Jesus asked those around him to look past status and peer into the soul. The Dude, sitting across the table from the Big Lebowski or the Sheriff of Malibu, knows that these men, despite their wealth or legal authority, are vast reservoirs of emptiness. Their treasure chests are hollow, and their shiny suits of gold exist only to conceal the hideous deformities of their character. The Big Lebowski, surrounded by the accoutrements of wealth and walls that adorn photographic tributes to his own vanity, lectures The Dude about his lifestyle, calls him a bum, and boasts about his achievements. The Dude puts on his sunglasses, and says 'fuck it' before walking away. Later in the movie, we find him in another office receiving another cumbersome reprimand. On the opposite side of the desk is the Sheriff of Malibu whose moral compass is so far off that he praises Jackie Treehorn – a known pornographer and extortionist – because 'he draws a lot of water in this town' and insults The Dude, because he 'doesn’t draw shit.' After unleashing his tirade, he asks The Dude if he understands that he is not to return to Malibu. The Dude looks him in the eye and says with deadpan delivery, 'I’m sorry I wasn’t listening.'"

From "Takin' It Easy for Us Sinners: The Dude and Jesus Christ" by David Masciotra.

Meade and I watched "The Big Lebowski" a few days ago, and the first thing Meade said this morning was "The Dude is Jesus."

"This article is sad to me. It looks like the patrons are mainly women desperate for something that can never be found."

"Also: Those 'cute' little quail eggs come from the most brutal factory farm warehouses filled with small, suffering birds forced to live in filth and being driven insane in tiny crammed cages - and all this misery and abuse to feed an empty, futile lifestyle."

That's the top-rated comment on "'You can never have too many mimosas’: How brunch became the day-wrecking meal that America loves to hate" (WaPo). In the article, there is such contempt:
Brunch is its own kind of religion. Or at least a pagan ritual, practiced each Sunday by urban elites who are known to pound so many mimosas that it’s easy to imagine a nationwide shortage of André on the horizon.

Brunch is a lifestyle. And friends, it is also a lewk, and that lewk is off-the-shoulder and frilly, and it hobbles up the sidewalk in flesh-toned stilettos. Brunch wears coral-colored khakis and pocket squares tucked into baby-blue slim-fit blazers, or sometimes it rolls out of bed and throws on a cleanish T-shirt that says “Resting brunch face” or “You can’t brunch with us.”

All of this — but especially the mimosas and the loud and leisurely ways of brunchers — is why every Sunday, brunch cleaves us into Two Americas.
Urban elites? Can they be the new deplorables? I can see that these people — these women — are urban (are they??) — though I don't see how what they are doing is different from women in the suburbs. Or is the geography just some sort of reverse Bible Belt?
“I don’t have time to get up at 7 or 8 to go to church. But I do have time to go to brunch,” confirmed Monica Zurita, 32, of Vienna.
Vienna. I figured that was the name of some Washington, D.C. suburb, and I was right. How ickily insular to just say "Vienna" like that. Vienna, Virginia is, apparently, one of those places where the people consider themselves "urban" when they are suburban and "elite" when they don't go to church. They do the theater of foodieism with crap food, and they daytime-drink bad champagne disguised by/disguising bad orange juice.

But are these women "desperate for something that can never be found"? They are at least making a show of the belief that whatever one might be looking for is not found in church. Maybe they think the meaning of life is what you see in the TV commercials — friends sitting around a table and talking and laughing. Is that an "empty, futile lifestyle"?

ADDED: A charming little poll to get you started this morning:

Is that an "empty, futile lifestyle"? (Multiple answers permitted)
pollcode.com free polls

A "coffin birth."

Gizmodo reports:
Back in 2010, archaeologists uncovered a strange Middle Age burial in Imola, Italy, dated to the 7th or 8th century AD. The stone-lined grave contained an adult female skeleton that was lying on its back, indicating a proper, intentional burial. But the archaeologists also discovered a pile of small bones below the pelvis.... Based on the evidence, the researchers say the scene is an example of a “coffin birth,” or “post-mortem fetal extrusion.” This is a known, but rare, phenomenon that occurs during the decomposition phase. Around two to five days after the death of a pregnant individual, gas builds up inside the body, eventually forcing the fetus to be ejected from the vaginal canal, resulting in a post-mortem birth. Researchers say the fetus had already died when the mother was buried.
There was also a hole in the woman's skull, indicating "trepanation," a medical intervention of the time.
The woman lived for about a week after the trepanation, as her skull exhibited the first signs of bone healing. The suggestion that Medieval doctors performed a primitive form of brain surgery on a woman who was 38 weeks pregnant may seem wholly bizarre, if not completely inappropriate, but the researchers have a very plausible explanation: The trepanation was done to treat the woman’s eclampsia—a hypertensive pregnancy disorder....

"Trump makes himself the axis on which events in Asia and Europe spin" — spins WaPo.

That's the front-page teaser. Inside, it's "Trump rebrands diplomatic norms as events in Asia, Europe and elsewhere spin on his axis." Speaking of branding, the WaPo brand is out-and-proud hostility to Trump, and that doesn't let up when there's news that might inspire some glimmers of hope that Trump's method might do some good:
President Trump on Friday placed himself at the center of the remarkable summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, taking credit for bold and innovative diplomacy that may open a path to peace where other leaders failed.
That's the paraphrase, and here's the actual quote:
“It’s certainly something that I hope I can do for the world,” Trump said. “This is beyond the United States. This is a world problem, and it’s something that I hope I’m able to do for the world.”
Trump's quote sounds rather modest to me, but WaPo insists that we see it as raging narcissism.
The dramatic turn of events on the Korean Peninsula was the capstone to a week that crystallized the ways Trump has established his foreign policy approach as one that rests largely on the pride he takes in busting the old conventions of diplomatic negotiations and remaking them in his image...
By the way, I'm surprised WaPo accepts the slang "busting" (for "bursting").
“We get a kick every once in a while out of the fact that I’ll be watching people that failed so badly over the last 25 years explaining to me how to make a deal with North Korea,” Trump cracked during a White House news conference Friday with [Angela] Merkel. “ I get a big, big kick out of that.”...

Trump, who is broadly unpopular in Germany, shrugged off a German reporter’s question about his “aggressive tweeting” and blunt diplomatic style.

“I believe that — you know, when I look at the numbers in Germany — and some other countries, they may not like Donald Trump but you have to understand, that means I’m doing a good job because I’m representing the United States,” he said.
I don't see how that's making himself "the axis on which events in Asia and Europe spin." He's saying he representing the United States and not purporting to represent the interests of the whole world. The leaders of other countries must and do represent their own countries, and it's not fair for the United States, uniquely, to subordinate its interests to everyone else's. That's not making himself the central axis.

By the way, "axis" is a terrible word to stick in our head when you're trying to sell the idea of the virtue of Germany — "Europe’s most populous country, and is the longest-serving leader among the major European powers — a mainstay of the kind of cautious consensus politics Trump instinctively rejects"?

Longest-serving, like all the way back to the 1930s and 40s?

In 1936, Benito Mussolini said, “This Berlin-Rome protocol is not a barrier, it is rather an axis around which all European States animated by a desire for peace may collaborate on trouble." That's quoted in "Why We Call the Axis Powers the Axis Powers" (Smithsonian).

"Heaven’s Door" — the new Bob Dylan whiskey — "should feel like being in a wood structure."

The NYT reports:
“We both [Dylan and his partner Marc Bushala] wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that, in their own way, tell a story,” Mr. Dylan said in a statement to The New York Times. “I’ve been traveling for decades, and I’ve been able to try some of the best spirits that the world of whiskey has to offer. This is great whiskey.”...

Two Heaven’s Door executives, Marc Bushala... and Ryan Perry, sometimes puzzled over Mr. Dylan’s comments about the whiskey samples he tasted. “It should feel like being in a wood structure” was one....

“Dylan has these qualities that actually work well for a whiskey,” Mr. Bushala said. “He has great authenticity. He is a quintessential American. He does things the way he wants to do them. I think these are good attributes for a super-premium whiskey as well.”...

But for those who have been listening closely, whiskey has been a decades-long thread throughout Mr. Dylan’s music, going back to the early outtake “Moonshiner” in 1963 and to Mr. Dylan’s version of the song “Copper Kettle (The Pale Moonlight),” on the 1970 album “Self Portrait,” which describes the distilling process in detail. (“Get you a copper kettle, get you a copper coil/Fill it with new made corn mash and never more you’ll toil.”)...
I would add, there's also "Gotta Serve Somebody":
Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
It should be noted that before he worked with Dylan, Bushala had a whiskey brand, Angel's Envy, that he sold for $150 million. You can hit a higher mark with the right celebrity name: That tequila brand associated with George Clooney sold for something like a billion dollars.

April 27, 2018

At the Sidewalk Café...


... we can hang out all night.

(And don't forget the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump are among the main contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize..."

"... that is, if you believe the odds set by UK betting giant Coral... Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are the odds-on favorites at 4/6, followed by Trump at 10/1."

Who first came up with the idea of a bottle shaped like a woman's body?

You may have noticed in the news today that Kim Kardashian West has been accused of copying a design idea from Jean Paul Gaultier — a perfume bottle shaped like a woman's torso.

The Gautier design (on the right) goes back to the early 1990s. But surely the idea of a bottle shaped like a woman is older than that. What about the famous Coca-Cola bottle? Wasn't that designed to look like a woman's body? At the Coca-Cola website, I see the company wanted a distinctive bottle (so it could fight off trademark infringers — e.g., Koka-Nola, Ma Coca-Co, Toka-Cola, and Koke):
On April 26, 1915, the Trustees of the Coca-Cola Bottling Association voted to expend up to $500 to develop a distinctive bottle for Coca-Cola. So, eight to 10 glass companies across the U.S. subsequently received a challenge to develop a “bottle so distinct that you would recognize if by feel in the dark or lying broken on the ground.”...

In Terre Haute, Indiana, the Root Glass Company received the brief and had a meeting to begin to work on their design. The Root team was composed of C.J and William Root, Alexander Samuelson, Earl Dean and Clyde Edwards. Samuelsson, a Swedish immigrant who was the shop foreman, sent Dean and Edwards to the local library to research design possibilities. When the team came across an illustration of cocoa bean that had an elongated shape and distinct ribs, they had their shape....
Ah! So it wasn't a woman's body! It was a cocoa bean! But:
The Coke bottle has been called many things over the years. One of the more interesting of the nicknames is the “hobbleskirt” bottle. The hobbleskirt was a fashion trend during the 1910s where the skirt had a very tapered look and was so narrow below the knees that it “hobbled” the wearer. The bottle was also called the “Mae West” bottle after the actress’s famous curvaceous figure....
It became a woman's body in the mind of the beholders. Whether you want to credit Coke or not, you've got to concede that Mrs. Butterworth beat Jean Paul Gaultier. We've been seeing this bottle since 1961:

To be fair to Gaultier, his bottle omits the head and just has the bottle cap on top of a torso, a design idea copied/arrived upon by Kim Kardashian's people. Mrs. Butterworth has a head, and the bottlecap  goes on top of that head. The cap is a cap. To leave off the head and just put a cap at the neck... that's a bit disturbing, like the truly offensive "Bitchin' Bod" comic by R. Crumb:

For refreshment, this is a hobbleskirt:

And this is Mae West:

The wisdom of Kanye.

A series of tweets from Kanye West, yesterday, from oldest to newest:
Your conscience should allow a physical manifestation of your subconscious but right now most peoples conscious is too affected by other people’s thoughts and it creates a disconnect from you doing what you actually feel now

Instead of doing what you feel
you just do what other people think you should do

it's really cool to say I hate you. But it's not cool to say I love you. Love has a stigma

we are more worried about what we can lose than what we feel

spread love. Put more love into the universe.

Artist transform tragedy into beauty
I'm afraid commenters will be distracted by the use of "subconscious" and "conscious" as nouns (they are, officially, only adjectives), whether the use of the word "conscience" (a bona fide noun) led to this confusion, and whether West even knows the difference between "conscience" and "conscious." But West is (I think!) considered a genius in the use of language, so I recommend beginning with the assumption that he's saying something important in words that millions of people can feel and understand in a deep way.

ADDED: Let me pursue the fleeting thought that West is "considered a genius." Writing this post, I thought of Bob Dylan, because the line "you just do what other people think you should do" made me think of Bob's "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)": "But, sooner or later, one of us must know/You just did what you’re supposed to do...."

That got me looking for comparisons between West and Dylan, and there was a lot of material. Much of it was something I'm sure I've already blogged: a linguistic study that showed Kanye West used a larger vocabulary in his songs than Bob Dylan:

"Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee found no evidence during a monthslong investigation that the Trump campaign aided Russia’s election meddling..."

"... the lawmakers concluded in a 250-page report released on Friday that assails President Trump’s political rivals and criticizes the F.B.I. and the intelligence community for their responses to Moscow’s interference," the NYT reports. "In their own dissenting views, Democrats on the committee accused the Republicans of prematurely closing the investigation out of a desire to protect Mr. Trump and asserted that eagerness by Trump campaign associates to accept offers of Russian assistance suggest 'a consciousness of wrongfulness, if not illegality.' The strikingly divergent conclusions...."

Whoa! That's not "strikingly divergent"! That's strikingly on the same page: No evidence of collusion. Yes, there is a difference of attitude, but it's so predictable, and so solidly based on our deeply rooted 2-party system that it sings a song of eternal American harmony.

"The fun of 'Saturday Night Live' was always you never knew which way they leaned politically."

"You kind of assumed they would lean more left and liberal, but now the cat's out of the bag they are completely against Trump, which I think makes it less interesting because you know the direction the piece is going... Carvey played it respectfully... To me, the genius of Dana Carvey was Dana always had empathy for the people he played, and Alec Baldwin has nothing but a fuming, seething anger toward the person he plays.... I don't find his impression to be comical... I know the way his politics lean and it spoils any surprise. There's no possible surprise. He so clearly hates the man he's playing."

Said Rob Schneider, who was on "Saturday Night Live" back when the cast included Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Adam Sandler.

And here's a NYT article published on November 6, 2016, anticipating that evening's "The 2016 S.N.L. Election Special," and going over the way the show had treated everything in the election, which was almost entirely the sort of thing Schneider is talking about. Almost. There was one sketch — and the NYT (before it knew Trump would win the Election) recognized it as the best sketch of the season — “Black Jeopardy!”:
Doug [Tom Hanks], to everyone’s shock, got one response after another right. Prompted with the answer, “They out here saying, the new iPhone wants your thumbprint ‘for your protection,’” he answered, “What is: ‘I don’t think so. That’s how they get you.’”...

This blue-collar white guy was on the same wavelength as [the black contestants], suspicious of authority, anxious to make ends meet, unimpressed with skinny women. It was cathartic, almost moving. Despite all the vitriol out there, maybe they weren’t all that different?...

This wasn’t just the best sketch of the “S.N.L.” election season. It was some of the best political analysis of the campaign, making a nuanced point about white Trump supporters and minorities, race and economic anxiety. Doug and his black counterparts, it said, have real issues in common — and a real, ultimate difference they may not be able to get past.
It's especially interesting to revisit that great sketch this week, when Kanye West has been so conspicuously sending his love to President Trump:

A Belgian conceptual artist is working with Ethiopian to create the perfect chicken.

"Incubated Worlds, a research and breeding center in the capital Addis Ababa, will also house a permanent art installation showcasing the work of Koen Vanmechelen, including photographs, videos, and books of chickens' genetic codes. 'It's the most sexy chicken coop in the world,' said Mr. Vanmechelen, whose Cosmopolitan Chicken Project set out to create a chicken carrying the genes of all the planet's breeds. The artist told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that each successive generation of Cosmopolitan Chickens is more resilient, lives longer, and is less susceptible to diseases, proving the importance of genetic diversity.... Olivier Hanotte, a scientist with ILRI in Addis Ababa...  praised Vanmechelen for doing what scientists could not – creating a unique population of chickens that gives a snapshot of the genetic diversity of birds outside Ethiopia... 'That is a fantastic resource for us... There's no way that as a scientist I would have gotten a grant for 20 years to do this sort of experiment."

Reports the Christian Science Monitor.

"There is a movement here, called JBPWave, which are mixes of Jordan Peterson over this music. This one is an explanation by a British journalist, of what’s happening."

That's a quote from I don't know who, passed along to me by a reader I do know, and linking to this:

ADDED: "This music" — according to the email — refers to "Lofi," defined as "a new offshoot of hip-hop." My understanding of the music term "lo-fi" was not something new or growing out of hip-hop. I remember it as something from the 1990s that grew out of indie rock... but, obviously, the same word could be used independently by 2 different things, either out of ignorance, a desire to confuse, or based on a belief that the earlier usage was more or less dead.

I looked up "lo-fi" in Wikipedia, which confirmed my understanding:
During the 1990s, the media's usage of the word "indie" evolved from music "produced away from the music industry's largest record labels" to a particular style of rock or pop music viewed in the US as the "alternative to 'alternative'". Following the success of Nirvana's Nevermind (1991), alternative rock became a cultural talking point, and subsequently, the concept of a lo-fi movement coalesced between 1992 and 1994. Centered on artists such as Guided by Voices, Sebadoh, Beck, and Pavement, most of the writing about alternative and lo-fi aligned it with Generation X and "slacker" stereotypes that originated from Douglas Coupland's novel Generation X and Richard Linklater's film Slacker (both released 1991). Some of the delineation between grunge and lo-fi came with respect to the music's "authenticity". Even though Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was well known for being fond of Johnston, K Records, and the Shaggs, there was a faction of indie rock that viewed grunge as a sell-out genre, believing that the imperfections of lo-fi was what gave the music its authenticity.

In April 1993, the term "lo-fi" gained mainstream currency after it was featured as a headline in the New York Times. The most widely-read article was published by the same paper in August 1994 with the headline "Lo-Fi Rockers Opt for Raw Over Slick"....
Rap is only mentioned in the "See also" links at the bottom of the article, as Cloud rap ("Cloud rap (also known as trillwave or based music) is a microgenre of hip hop music... typically characterized by its 'hazy,' lo-fi production") and SoundCloud rap ("SoundCloud rap is a music genre that originated on the online audio distribution platform SoundCloud... characterized as 'simplistic, subdued beats, often with snippets of strings and sometimes complemented with emo chords, paired with lyrics that ping-pong between braggadocio and nihilism, with lots of sex and odes to heavy narcotics').

Anyway, as to the use of Jordan Peterson's voice in that music, it reminded me of the time, back in 2005, that my voice — recorded by a student in my Federal Jurisdiction class — was used in a music recording. I love the musical repurposing of spoken word recordings. The very best thing in that category — as far as I know — is Glenn Gould's "The Idea of North" (which I dragged into the conversation last month (about a man who wouldn't listen to the news)) and also back in 2015 ("The country I come from is called The Midwest The North") and in 2009 ("It suddenly dawned on Conan O'Brien that the Palin speech is 'a poem'").

Bret Baier confronts Comey.

Here's the whole thing:

Here's Baier summarizing the encounter:

This wasn't in Baier's summary, but it's something that interests me:
BAIER: "All right in the infamous Oval Office meeting with President Trump when he asked you to stay behind one-on-one. You write in the book that you felt awkward. You didn’t like it."

COMEY: "Correct."

BAIER: "You had been one-on-one with president Obama in the Oval Office?"

COMEY: "Correct."

BAIER: "But this was different."

COMEY: "Yeah. Because he booted out the attorney general of the United States who was lingering trying to stay."

BAIER: "As opposed to the presidential photographer who President Obama boots out?

COMEY: "Sure."

BAIER: "You say you didn’t push back when he said he hoped you could see your way clear of letting Flynn go that he was a good guy. Hoped you could let it go. You say you didn’t push back and he should have known that he couldn’t do that. All right. So let’s assume that’s true that he should have known. That is it possible there was another reason why you didn’t push back and that is that you wanted to keep your job?"

COMEY: "It’s possible but it’s not the case. At least I don’t remember thinking about that at the time."

"I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation," said Kim Jong-Un...

... at the Peace House, on the border between North and South Korea, where Kim met with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. By the end of the day, there was the announcement: "South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” the NYT reports.

This morning, about an hour ago, Trump tweeted, cautiously:
After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!
14 minutes later, he came back, with Trumpian grandiosity:
KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!
ADDED: Tis is really so cool, Kim Jong-Un stepping across the border and shaking hands with Moon Jae-in:

There are also stunning shots of the 2 men walking along a red carpet lined with guards in traditional Korean dress. It's impossible for me to imagine the impact of the traditional dress on Koreans, but I find it tremendously moving.

April 26, 2018

At the Dichotomy Café...


... you can find your way around.



The photos, including the one of the wall card, are from the "Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Austin’" exhibit at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin.

And here's the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Cosby guilty.

What is that guy-reading-a-newspaper painting in that photo of Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron at the National Gallery of Art?

It's "The Artist's Father, Reading 'L'Événement'" (1866) by Paul Paul Cézanne:
In The Artist's Father Cézanne explored his emotionally charged relationship with his banker father. Tension is particularly evident in the energetic, expressive paint handling, an exaggeration of Courbet's palette knife technique. The unyielding figure of Louis-Auguste Cézanne, the newspaper he is reading, his chair, and the room are described with obtrusively thick slabs of pigment. The Artist's Father can be interpreted as an assertion of Cézanne's independence. 
Ah! Just like Melania asserting her independence from the unyielding figure of Donald J. Trump!

Looks a little like Trump, too, don't you think? Trump or Marlon Brando.

By the way, and a propos of the first post of the day, did you know that Marlon Brando was the Coen brothers' first choice to play the big Lebowski (that is, the rich old guy) in "The Big Lebowski"? (Others on their list: Robert Duvall, Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Norman Mailer, George C. Scott, Jerry Falwell, Gore Vidal, Andy Griffith, William F. Buckley, and Ernest Borgnine. In the end, David Huddleston got the role.)

Trump motormouthing on "Fox and Friends" this morning.

My notes, jotted down in real time, listening to this after posting the video:

"Some self-identified incels... have developed an elaborate sociopolitical explanation for their sexual failures, one that centers on the idea that women are shallow, vicious, and only attracted to hyper-muscular men."

"They see this as a profound injustice against men like them, who suffer an inherent genetic disadvantage through no fault of their own. A small radical fringe believes that violence, especially against women, is an appropriate response — that an 'Incel Rebellion' or 'Beta [Male] Uprising' will eventually overturn the sexual status quo.... These incels post obsessively about so-called 'Chads,' meaning sexually successful and attractive men, and 'Stacys,' attractive, promiscuous women who sleep with the Chads. Both are positioned as unattainable: The Chad is the masculine ideal, one incel men cannot emulate for reasons of poor genetics, while the Stacy is whom every incel man wants to sleep with but cannot because they aren’t a Chad. It’s this embrace of helplessness, of their certainty of their own sexual doom, that makes the more extreme incel communities so dangerous... They see the world through the lens of entitlement: They are owed sex but cannot have it because women are shallow. This manifests in a deep and profound hatred for women as a group.... They see themselves as a class, oppressed by a social system that’s rigged in favor of other men. One post on an incel subreddit compared their worldview to Marxism, with incels playing the part of the proletariat and Chad the bourgeoisie...."

From "Incel, the misogynist ideology that inspired the deadly Toronto attack, explained" (Vox).

"On Tuesday night, the comedian Patton Oswalt was in Chicago at an event to promote 'I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,' a chilling true crime book about the Golden State Killer..."

"... who committed a string of unsolved rapes and murders in California in the 1970s and ’80s. Mr. Oswalt told the crowd that he believed the killer would be caught soon, that his time was running out. In fact, just hours before, Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, had been arrested in California on a warrant stemming from two of the murders. On Wednesday, the authorities identified him as the Golden State Killer, citing DNA evidence connecting him to the crimes. For Mr. Oswalt, the news of Mr. DeAngelo’s arrest feels deeply personal. His late wife, the writer Michelle McNamara, had spent the final years of her life chasing the Golden State Killer, hoping to identify him in her book, 'I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.' But Ms. McNamara died before she could see the killer brought to justice, or her book published. Exhausted and anxious after spending years immersing herself in details about the unsolved murders, she died in her sleep in April 2016, at 46. An autopsy found that she had an undiagnosed heart condition and had taken a mix of prescription drugs, including Adderall, the pain narcotic fentanyl and the anti-anxiety medication Xanax...."

From "Michelle McNamara Died Pursuing the Golden State Killer. Her Husband, Patton Oswalt, Has Questions for Him" (NYT).

"The White House withdrew the nomination of Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician, to lead the Veterans Affairs Department..."

"... after lawmakers went public with a torrent of accusations leveled against him by nearly two dozen current and former colleagues from the White House medical staff," the NYT reports.

I was surprised at the headline because I'd heard Trump say over and over that it was up to Jackson to decide whether he would resign, but I see in the third paragraph that it was Jackson, issuing the statement saying that he was withdrawing:
“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Dr. Jackson said in a statement provided by the White House press office.

He said that the charges against him were “completely false and fabricated.”
What was he accused of? What came out yesterday was the worst:
In one instance, Dr. Jackson stood accused of providing such “a large supply” of Percocet, a prescription opioid, to a White House Military Office staff member that he threw his own medical staff “into a panic” when it could not account for the missing drugs, the document said.

In another case, at a Secret Service goodbye party, the doctor got intoxicated and “wrecked a government vehicle.”

And a nurse on his staff said that Dr. Jackson had written himself prescriptions, and when caught, had simply asked a physician assistant to provide him with the medication.
ADDED: The idea of a White House doctor handing out drugs calls to mind the JFK conspiracy theory buff in the movie "Slacker":

"Kanye West is not in fact losing millions of followers for tweeting his love of Donald Trump."

The Verge has figured out. Well, it was easy to figure out, because by "followers," The Verge simply means followers on Twitter, and anybody can look and see how many follower he has. 27.9 million. He follows exactly 1 person, his wife.

West has been tweeting things like:
You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.
my wife just called me and she wanted me to make this clear to everyone. I don't agree with everything Trump does. I don't agree 100% with anyone but myself.
And even:

All that fire! And that led to:

"One group of scientists analyzed bear scat and revealed that a foraging grizzly could gobble 40,000 moths in a day."

"At that rate, the bear can consume about one-third of its yearly energy requirements in just 30 days..." (Yellowstone Gate).
Hillary Robison extensively researched army cutworm moths as part of the grizzly bear diet while a doctoral student the University of Nevada in Reno.... Robison hiked and horse-packed deep into the backcountry to find the steep, rock-strewn talus slopes favored by moths. The heat of the day drives the moths to seek cooler, moist shelter under large rocks broken off of headwalls and other rock formations above timberline. However, the sheltering rocks pose little obstacle for hungry bears.
I'm turning over this rock this morning because moths suddenly appear in the last few lines of the previous post and it reminded me of something from a documentary Meade was watching on TV the other day.

"I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I’ve made some poor choices in my past. ‘Boogie Nights’ is up there at the top of the list."

Said Mark Wahlberg (last November).

I would have blogged that last November if I'd seen it at the time, but I didn't, so why (you may ask) am I seeing it this morning? I've been up since 4:30 a.m. and reading about the movie we happened to watch last night, which was something that had been sitting on the DVR since early March, "The Big Lebowski." Everyone was talking about "The Big Lebowski" back then because it was the 20th anniversary of the release of the film, which was a big flop in theaters (I saw it at the time) but became the very definition of a cult film over the years.  I found it on some cable channel, recorded it, then left it festering.

Weirdly, it made about exactly the same impression on me, watching it for the second time, that it made originally, which was something like this is awfully self-indulgent and I'm uncomfortable with the treatment of women. But I woke up this morning — song cue — thinking about the women of "The Big Lebowski" in a different way. The men in that movie are ruined and marginalized, and the women are doing the marginalizing (and rarely on screen because the cameras are trained on the dead ends of loserville).

So I was reading things like "Maude and The Dude: Feminism and Masculinity in The Big Lebowski" (Bitch Flicks) and thinking about Julianne Moore (Maude) led me to "Julianne Moore Reacts to Mark Wahlberg's Boogie Nights Diss: 'It Made His Career!'"

There's something so sad about that. Moore is laughing at him for feeling bad about something that gave him worldly success and showing no feeling whatsoever for Walhberg's religious orientation, which (I assume) would make him more penitent about the things he did that brought him worldly success. Bible verse that comes to mind:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

April 25, 2018

Today's oral argument in Trump v. Hawaii — the "Muslim ban" case we now (pretty much) know Trump will win.

Here's Mark Walsh at SCOTUSblog reporting on the big oral argument on the last day of the 2017 Term — Trump v. Hawaii. I haven't read this yet, but from the short article I have read (at the NYT), I think everyone knows Trump is going to win.  I'll live-blog my reading, giving you snippets and comments.

Walsh begins with the weather — "warm but drizzly day" — and observations of who's in the gallery — Orrin Hatch and "a touch of true celebrity and talent when Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author (and original player of the title role) of the Broadway hit 'Hamilton'" and Josh Blackman (who tweets a photo of the autograph he got from Miranda on his pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution) — so this is chronological and grandiosely whimsical.

Walsh calls the argument a "fast-moving, hard-hitting hour" and clues me in that there's another post at SCOTUSblog that's the "main account" of the substance of the argument. I'll get to that. I continue with Walsh.

At Amy's Café...


... it's time to talk about anything (and to buy anything through the Althouse Portal to Amazon).

"Oh, I'm surprised at that," says George Stephanopoulos when Ronan Farrow tells him that Hillary Clinton cancelled an interview with him...

... after "her folks" heard he was "working on a big story" — "the Weinstein stuff."

Reported at Mediaite, with video that allowed me to transcribe the "Oh, I'm surprised at that," which I find funny, and Mediaite left out.

I find it funny — and I believe this is why Mediaite left it out — because I read Stephanopoulos to be lying. He knows why Hillary Clinton wouldn't want to be interviewed by someone who's digging into the Harvey Weinstein story.

1. Hillary was part of what the New York Times called Weinstein's "complicity machine":
In late September [2016], emails show, he was discussing a documentary television show he was working on with Hillary Clinton. He had long raised campaign cash for her, and her feminist credentials helped burnish his image — even though Tina Brown, the magazine editor, and Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, each say they had cautioned Mrs. Clinton’s aides about his treatment of women....

Over the years, Mr. Weinstein provided [theClintons] with campaign cash and Hollywood star power, inviting Mrs. Clinton to glittery premieres and offering to send her films. After Mr. Clinton faced impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he donated $10,000 to Mr. Clinton’s legal defense fund. Mr. Weinstein was a fund-raiser and informal adviser during Mrs. Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, a guest in her hotel suite when she won and a host of an A-list victory party. He was an early backer of both her presidential bids.
2. Hillary was vulnerable to questioning about her protection of Bill Clinton over the years, and Ronan Farrow was emerging as the one who was fighting to take sexual harassment and rape seriously. Hillary's people were right to worry that he would have the nerve to really push her on questions about her behavior toward the women whose voice Farrow was about to amplify.

Stephanopoulos obviously knows this. He looked ludicrous playing the naif.

The plot against Scott Adams.

I like the discussion under that tweet:

"In much of the world, the concept of basic income retains appeal as a potential way to more justly spread the bounty of global capitalism while cushioning workers against the threat of robots and artificial intelligence taking their jobs."

"But the Finnish government’s decision to halt the experiment at the end of 2018 highlights a challenge to basic income’s very conception. Many people in Finland — and in other lands — chafe at the idea of handing out cash without requiring that people work," the NYT reports. "The basic income trial, which started at the beginning of 2017 and will continue until the end of this year, has given monthly stipends of 560 euros ($685) to a random sample of 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58. Recipients have been free to do as they wished — create start-ups, pursue alternate jobs, take classes — secure in the knowledge that the stipends would continue regardless."
“There is a problem with young people lacking secondary education, and reports of those guys not seeking work,” said Heikki Hiilamo, a professor of social policy at the University of Helsinki. “There is a fear that with basic income they would just stay at home and play computer games.”...

The Finnish government was keen to see what people would do under such circumstances. The data is expected to be released next year, giving academics a chance to analyze what has come of the experiment....

"Over the last several months, I’ve spent evenings watching my fiancée, Lara, inject herself with smaller and smaller doses of estrogen."

"I’ve watched her stand in front of a mirror, singeing each hair out of her face with a secondhand electrolysis machine. The return of her testosterone hasn’t resulted in just the resurgence of facial hair; her pants now fit differently, too. My own skin has been plagued by acne since I got off the pill six months ago, and my default states are angry, hungry or sleeping. Such are the perils of trying to have a child the way Lara and I are trying, without in vitro fertilization, or cryogenically frozen sperm. The way fertile cisgender people do: They simply couple up, and boom — a child is born. For many young trans people, the question of having babies is likely the last thing on their minds. Who could blame them? Like all young people, they’re figuring out their future.... But unlike all young people, young trans people are often making choices that have long-term consequences for their fertility. Which is part of how I, a 32-year-old cisgender lesbian, and Lara, my 33-year-old trans fiancée, came to be in the situation we’re in today: trying to conceive a child, even though Lara transitioned four years ago."

From "Adventures in Transgender Fertility" by Joanne Spataro, "a New York-based writer who is engaged to a transgender woman" (NYT).

The comments at the NYT are surprisingly hostile. Here is the second-highest rated one:
Here is how I understand this story: a woman who is not sexually attracted to men met a man who says he was supposed to be a woman and took hormones to suppress his maleness. The woman fell in love with the man and was sexually attracted to him because now he seems like a woman. But the woman wanted to get pregnant, and so the man who now seems like a woman stopped taking the hormones that make him seem like a woman, in order to once again produce testosterone to be used to impregnate the woman.
A lot of the comments express hostility to the term "cisgender." On the topic of language, I'll just say I hate the vogue use of the interjection "boom" (as in "They simply couple up, and boom — a child is born").

"Will the 'blue wave' continue with Arizona special election?"

Yesterday, on MSNBC (video at link):
Today’s special election in Arizona’s eighth district is being watched closely to see if Democrats can continue flipping seats held by Republicans. Dr. Hiral Tipirnen, the Democratic candidate in the race, joins Katy Tur to discuss today’s election.
Answer, in yesterday's special election: NO.

Let's see how MSNBC reports the story: "Republican Debbie Lesko scores tight win in Arizona special election, NBC News projects/Lesko's lead might have kept a conservative congressional district in Republican hands — but the margin might be too close for comfort."

How tight?
Lesko held a 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent lead over Tiperneni, or 91,390 votes to 82,316 — an Republican advantage of 9,072 votes, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Arizona secretary of state's office.
Doesn't seem tight to me.
That margin may concern Republicans. President Donald Trump carried the district in the conservative Western Phoenix suburbs by 21 percentage points, and its previous occupant, Trent Franks, a Republican, ran unopposed.
The blue wave. It's there even when it's not there.

Are we to be impressed that the Toronto police did not shoot ?

Here's the video presented by the NYT as evidence of police showing how to defuse a dangerous situation:

Here's the NYT article, "When Toronto Suspect Said ‘Kill Me,’ an Officer Put Away His Gun."
“This is going to be a great training video in the future,” said Ronal Serpas, who led police departments in New Orleans and Nashville and is now a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. “It almost gives you chills how well he handled himself.”...

“Clearly the guy driving the van was on the edge; he knows what he just did. But by the way the officer handled himself, he ends up becoming docile and submits to an arrest,” said Mr. Serpas, the former New Orleans police chief. “It was a great outcome in a horrible situation.”
Obviously, I'm no expert, but I find it hard to believe that a police officer is supposed to take this much personal risk. The man, Alek Minassian, has just mowed down 10 people with his car, he's not responding to multiple commands, and he seems to be pointing a gun aggressively at the cosmically cool Constable Ken Lam.

"A hat is a celebration of oneself. It is about presenting one’s most adorned, spit-shined, upright self to God, social media or, in this case, the history books."

Writes Robin Givhan (at WaPo) about the hat Melania wore yesterday at the greeting ceremony for French President Macron. These days, hats are not "about fashion," but "more of an affectation, whether it be the religiosity of Sunday church service or the self-conscious flamboyance of the Kentucky Derby."

The hat was a "magnificent halo of pure white light perched atop first lady Melania Trump’s perfectly groomed head."
Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else.

That hat, broad-brimmed with a high, blocked crown, announced the first lady’s presence as boldly and theatrically as a brigade of trumpeters. It was the bright white hat of a gladiator worn on an overcast day, a kind of glamorous public shield when sunglasses would not do at all. That hat was a force field that kept folks, the wrong folks, from getting too close.

It was a diva crown. A grand gesture of independence. A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen.
So, I'm seeing 3 things the hat does: 1. Showing off (yay, me, trumpets!!!), 2. Creating a religious aura (looks like a halo, like a lady in church), and 3. Keeping everyone away (force field!).

As to #3, the first thing I think of is the kissing. I saw Macron and Trump kissing. This was the greeting ceremony. Was none of that cheek kissing to be aimed at Melania?

But Givhan emphasizes independence from Trump: "A grand gesture of independence." And she combines #2 and #3 by continuing: "A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen."

Remember, according to Givhan, the hat says everything: "Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else."

Silent, stoic, statuesque Melania cries out to the Lord. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — the White House, with my satanic president-husband — I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

ADDED: Of course, hats were huge in Trump's campaign. No one ever made as much headway through a hat as Trump. And when Hillary wore a hat, Rihanna wore a picture of it — Hillary + hat — on a T-shirt. And Hillary very famously wore a hat — a big blue hat (presaging a blue dress?) — at the first Bill Clinton inauguration.

ALSO: Is that first line quoted in the post title an intentional reference to Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"?
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
But Melania could not have felt at ease on the grass at that tree-planting ceremony (where Brigitte Macron grasped Trump's shovel shaft). She along with Madame Macron was wearing stilettos. In order not to sink completely into the sod and get stuck, they were both tasked to walk and stand entirely on their toes.

April 24, 2018

"I just want to lead with love. I want to be about love.... I love Donald Trump."

Said Kanye West.

IN THE COMMENTS: Kevin said:
Love Trumps Hate

What did it mean? Scott Adams wrote in "Win Bigly":
One of the more notable persuasion failures from the Clinton campaign involved the slogan Love Trumps Hate. The first two thirds of the slogan is literally “Love Trump.” Again, human brains put more weight on the first part of a sentence than the end. On a rational level, the sentence makes perfect sense, and it says what Trump’s critics wanted it to say. But in the 3-D world of persuasion, this slogan simply told the world to either love Trump or love the things he hates, such as terrorism and bad trade deals.
Just one more thing Scott Adams got right.

AND: Here's something Ted Rall got wrong:

Turned out we didn't get that 4 to 8 years of stupid — not that particular form of stupid, anyway (the stupid of getting called "sexist" every time you criticized the President).

"They're all saying what a great relationship we have, and they're actually correct. It's not fake news. Finally, it's not fake news."

"So, it's a great honor, a great honor that you're here. But we do have a very special relationship. In fact, I'll get that little piece of dandruff off, that little piece. We have to make him perfect. He is perfect. So it's really great to be with you, and you are a special friend. Thank you. Thank you."


At the Inappropriate President Café...


... talk about what you like and buy what you want through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Typically the leadership of the opposing party is invited to a state dinner, but the Trumps threw out that tradition as they also shunned journalists..."

"... who in previous administrations received a handful of invitations — not surprising for a president who derides the 'fake news' media."

From "Trumps Throw Out Tradition for Their First State Dinner" (NYT).

I would have written not surprising for a president who knows they hate him.

"There will be subtle hints at bipartisanship in the décor: Along with 1,200 Obama-inspired cherry blossom branches to decorate the Cross Hall, Mrs. Trump will use china from the Clinton White House," the article continues, and the most-liked comment is:
So we can have a "nod to bipartisanship" in the dishes used - but no actual human beings who don't fawn at the feet of our dear leader?

Donald Trump representing the United States of America at a state dinner is an embarrassment to our country.
The Daily Mail has lots of juicy photographs of the tablescapes with the gold-encrusted dishes that could have been mocked as evidence of Trump's horribly narcissistic taste if they weren't the Clintons'.

The Daily Mail also has a great picture of Trump man-kissing Macron.

Why it seems like the NYT knows everyone is always angry at me.

Something about the selections in the sidebar at the NYT is making me paranoid. There's what's recommended for me:
And then there's what's "most emailed" and "most viewed":

That article at #3 for me, "Why It Seems Like Everyone Is Always Angry With You," is nowhere on those other 2 lists (even below the part I captured).

I've recovered from paranoia. I attribute the difference to the fact that something has to be around for awhile to rank as "most viewed" or "most emailed," but the "recommended" list is a place to promote the newest things. The "for you" business seems curated for me, but I don't know if that's based on invading my privacy or just some bullshit stab at niceness.

The "Why It Seems Like Everyone Is Always Angry With You" did just go up this morning, but I do — more than most? — suffer from the feeling that other people are angry at me. The article turns out to be about the skill in reading other people's faces. Last paragraph:
So what do you do if you’re an adult who often thinks friends and colleagues are upset with you? Dr. Schermerhorn advised trying to remember that just because a face is not brimming with positivity, it does not mean that it is conveying something negative. Also remember that what you’re picking up on might just be a person’s eyebrows. Low brows and brows that slope in like a V have a tendency to telegraph anger, researchers have found, even when none is present.
And let me add that if you're an adult who actually is angry at friends and colleagues but don't what them to realize it, get your eyebrows lifted.

ADDED: Remember Uncle Leo's eyebrows on "Seinfeld"? They got singed off and Elaine drew them in but in the angry position:

"American Idol is shedding contestants like an Agatha Christie whodunit. There goes Effie Passero through a trap door."

"A suit of armor fell on Ron Bultongez. Amelia Hammer Harris took a hard fall off the Orient Express. And now we’re at the top 14 with the shivering, terrified survivors who just want Ryan Seacrest to lower his monocle and solve this whole thing for everyone. But we’ve got five episodes left to deduce which contestant deserves the crown, and I have a sneaking suspicion it could be anybody. Let’s roll through these 14 contenders, comment on the eliminations, and wonder if Lionel Richie knows his sparkly blazer would look smashing on Vicki Lawrence."

Louis Virtel is doing a fabulous job of recapping "American Idol" at Vulture, with snappy sentences and full, commercial-free, clips of every performance. That link goes to the recap of last night's results show, where my favorite, Maddie Poppe, sang "Walk Like an Egyptian":

And here's the link to the Sunday episode recap, with each performance ranked by Virtel, including #1, Maddie Poppe, doing "Homeward Bound":

ADDED: Here's what Virtel wrote about that "Walk Like an Egyptian" performance:
I’m all for Maddie Poppe’s calmed-down, twee’d-up renditions of songs... “Homeward Bound”? Sure. “Brand New Key”? Absolutely. But after Ryan Seacrest announced she was safely in the top ten, Maddie gave her first baffling performance of the season: an undanceable take on “Walk Like an Egyptian.” It’s as if she wanted us to pay attention to the Bangles’ lyrics, which are … well, they’re stupid. Let’s talk a look at “Foreign types with the hookah pipes say / Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh / Walk like an Egyptian.” That’s offensive, senseless, and then back to offensive. And she didn’t even throw us the saucy Susanna Hoffs side-eye to soften the embarrassment! I’m worried now. Soon, Maddie with perform “Kokomo” as a piano ballad or add marimba to “Tears in Heaven”! Here’s hoping she’s back on track with an angora-warm version of “You’ve Got a Friend” or something next week.
Ha ha. Ask Meade if I didn't say out loud, "The lyrics to this song are actually pretty offensive."

AND: Here's the old Bangles video featuring the ancient mystery of Susanna Hoffs's inability to position her irises in the center of her eyeballs. As for the idea of "the Bangles' lyrics," I've got to object. They didn't write the song. It was written by music producer Liam Sternberg, who, Wikipedia tells us, "wrote the song after seeing people on a ferry walking awkwardly to keep their balance." The only connection to Egypt is that Sternberg thought the people looked like the figures in the ancient Egyptian paintings.

Is the song offensive? It's one of the songs Clear Channel banned after the September 11, 2001 attacks. [CORRECTION: That statement is wrong, as explained here.] It's got that casual, silly attitude toward ethnicity found in many old songs — "Ahab the Arab" ("There he saw Fatima layin' on a zebra skin rug with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes and a bone in her nose ho, ho"), "The Sheik of Araby" ("At night when you're asleep/Into your tent I'll creep"), "Midnight at the Oasis" ("You won't need no camel/When I take you for a ride"). I'm just naming ones about Arabs that spring immediately to mind. There's also Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs...

You wouldn't do that today. Domingo "Sam" Samudio was Mexican American, and he just enjoyed Yul Brenner as Pharaoh in "The Ten Commandments." As for Yul Brenner, he was a combination of Swiss-German, Russian, and Buryat, but it was accepted back then that he could play an ancient Egyptian. And he also got to play the King of Siam.

I'd branch out to other ethnicities, but I'll just say "Turning Japanese," and I'll leave it to you to come up with some other silly songs that would steam people up if they came out today (but maybe we can still love because they are old).

"Turning Japanese" was just a way of saying I feel like a foreigner in my own culture. The lyrics had nothing to do with Japanese people:
No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women
No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark
Everyone around me is a total stranger
Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger
But the video (and that musical riff)... just comically leaned into Japanese stereotypes (back in 1980, when not letting anything offend you was kind of the culture):

"When the owner of a thriving Hong Kong bookstore disappeared, questions swirled. What happened? And what did the Chinese government have to do with it?"

Please listen to today's episode of the NYT "Daily" podcast.

That podcast caused me to find a very important NYT Magazine article from April 3 (which I'd missed), "The Case of Hong Kong’s Missing Booksellers/As China’s Xi Jinping consolidates power, owners of Hong Kong bookstores trafficking in banned books find themselves playing a very dangerous game."

I won't pull out a large enough excerpt to make the story clear to you, only to give you as sense of the drama:
The morning after his interrogation, [Lam Wing-kee] was blindfolded, handcuffed and put on a train for an unknown destination. His captors didn’t say a word. When the train came to a halt 13 hours later, Lam’s escorts shoved him into a car and drove him to a nearby building, where they removed his hat, blindfold and glasses. He took stock of his situation: He was in an unknown location in an unknown city, being held by officers whose identity and affiliation he could not ascertain....

In January 2016, more than two months after he began counting the length of his detention, Lam was informed of the charge against him: “illegal sales of books.”...

Lam was transferred to a new city for the next phase of his detention. There, he was told he would be permitted to return to Hong Kong, but only on the condition that, upon arrival, he report immediately to a police station and tell them his disappearance was all a misunderstanding. He would then go to the home of Lee Bo and pick up a computer containing information on the publisher’s clients and authors, which he would deliver to China....

That night, alone in his hotel room, Lam violated the conditions of his limited release, using his phone to search for news about his case... He saw his name and the names of his Mighty Current colleagues appear again and again...  Lam saw photos of thousands of protesters marching through the streets, holding posters of the missing booksellers and demanding their release; Lam’s shuttered shop had become a site of pilgrimage...

On the morning he was expected back on the mainland, Lam arrived at the train station with the company computer in his backpack. He paused to smoke a cigarette, then another. Other Mighty Current employees had friends, family or wives on the mainland. “Among all of us,” Lam told me, “I carried the smallest burden.” He thought of a short poem by Shu Xiangcheng that he read when he was young:
I have never seen
a knelt reading desk
though I’ve seen
men of knowledge on their knees

Signs of a pet anti-vaxxer movement and the crazy new fear of "canine autism."

The answer to the question what we're calling the generation after the millennials has been determined.

It's "Generation Z," which shortens to "Gen-Z" (which is pronounced to rhyme with "frenzy").

Back in January, the NYT invited readers to tell it what to call the post-millennials. (That's what I was saying, by the way, post-millennials.) The Times reported on its effort at crowd-sourcing the answer:
There was plenty of support for widely publicized names already coined for the generation born, roughly, between 1995 and 2015: Generation Z, Homeland Generation, Post-Millennials and iGeneration.

A significant minority had grown comfortable with “Generation Z,” including Raquel Glassner, 22, of Olympia, Wash.

“I’ve never heard iGeneration before, but that is really horrendous,” she said. “Our whole generation shouldn’t be branded by Apple. Gen Z is the final generation of the 1900s, and a generational title using the last letter in the alphabet seems fitting.”...

The youngest respondent I tracked down was Mari Sobota, 8, a third-grader in Madison, Wis., who wrote in to say that her generation would be known for “girl power!”

Mari, 8, could identify an obvious generational difference between her and her 12-year-old sister Cassandra, and their mother, Carousel Bayrd. “We both like cotton candy, and my mom hates that,” she said.
And yesterday, Time had this:
This post-Millennial generation still has several moniker [sic], but has been most commonly called Generation Z or the iGeneration. They are widely considered to be young people born in the mid-1990s, and by 2020 they will account for one-third of the U.S. population. Gen-Z is also the most diverse in American history, and the first made up people who don’t know a world without the Internet or smartphones....
Blah blah blah. How vile to be thought of as the people who always had smartphones in their hands. Will these people not rebel? Here's Time's video, which is too candy-fluff for me to listen to the whole thing, but I did learn that that pronunciation, which surprised me, because we always said "gen-X," not "GEN-x" (which sounds like the name of a new drug).

Adding tags for this post, I see I already have one for Generation Z.

ADDED, on publishing this post: I see I had one other post with this tag, going all the way back to September 2015, and it was about the NYT pushing the term...

... so the NYT got its way, even as it later made it seem like the readers sent in the idea.

How did the millennials escape the fate of getting called Generation Y? It seems unfair to Generation Z, getting stuck with being an afterthought of the famous Generation X, which was itself a quasi-rebellious retort to the truly famous Baby Boomers. And clearly the post-Gen-Z generation won't get stuck with the next letter, there being no next letter. If I were a Z, I'd be very annoyed, but I'm saying that as a Baby Boomer, and we had a rebellious spirit, borne of the seemingly complacent 1950s and the desperately discordant next phase — assassination, riots, drugs, rock and roll, and the threat of a draft into a war that made no earthly sense.

April 23, 2018

At the Green Pool Café...


... you can bask in the sun.

And shop through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"I have dwarfism. I was 13 when Verne Troyer hit our screens as Mini-Me in Austin Powers sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me."

"The character was a compound of stereotypes of people with dwarfism. He was hypersexual, unintelligent and aggressive. He was not even a character in his own right but a replica of another, average height role. Like dwarf performers in circuses of days past, his character only existed in contrast to others.... Throughout the series he serves as Dr Evil’s biddable pet. I imagine few who watched it know that in the past aristocrats and monarchs often 'kept' dwarf people like this – abusing, ridiculing, and, sometimes, even killing them... Troyer died on Saturday. He was just 49 years old. A statement on his Facebook page, said he had struggled with 'his own battles' but that 'unfortunately, this time was too much.'... Even in death, his body marks him as a target for ridicule. Ignorant still but much less malicious were comments that he was 'bigger than [insert height here],' 'a small guy but had a big heart,' or 'a big man in a tiny package,' and so on. Such remarks, commonly used by the media, propagate assumptions that dwarfism is something negative for which we have to compensate through our achievements or character.... [I]t is often in death that average height and able-bodied people easily erase an individual’s disability or difference – as demonstrated by the recent passing of Professor Stephen Hawking – to claim they were 'larger than life' or are 'finally free from their disability.'"

From "Verne Troyer’s tragic death underlines the harm Mini-Me caused people with dwarfism/The role of the aggressive, biddable pet in the Austin Powers films did huge damage to the dwarfism community and our struggle for respect" by Eugene Grant (in The Guardian).

This continues the discussion we were having last month when Hawking died, here, after the actress Gal Gadot, surely believing she was being nice, said "Now you’re free of any physical constraints."

And here's the Wikipedia article on "Court dwarfs" ("Court dwarfs enjoyed specific placement right next to the king or queen in a royal court during public appearances and ceremonies, because they were so small, the king appeared much larger and visually enhanced his powerful position").

There's some interesting artwork, such as this, by Velasquez (c. 1645):

"Why are the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas and Melania smiling so broadly at a funeral?"

Asks a columnist at The Guardian.
The picture is not sombre, even though this is a funeral. Obama and Bill Clinton are smiling broadly; W has that lopsided grin that suggests he’s cracked one of his fratboy jokes. They seem relaxed. And the source of that relaxation? Could it possibly be their collective relief that Trump is not there?
Oh! The snark never ends. Consider the possibility that these people are smiling because they believe in their professed religion.

At the funeral, Jeb Bush said that the last time he saw his mother, she said, "Jeb, I believe in Jesus and he is my savior. I don't want to leave your dad but I know I'll be in a beautiful place."

"A 12-year-old Sydney boy stole his parents’ credit card, tricked his grandmother into giving him his passport and flew to Bali on his own after a family argument."

The Guardian reports.
Telling his family he was going to school, he rode his razor scooter to his local train station, from where he travelled to the airport and, using a self-service check-in terminal, boarded a flight for Perth, then another for Indonesia....

Discovering he was in Bali, his mother, Emma, flew there to collect him. Emma said the boy doesn’t like hearing the word “no”. “Shocked, disgusted, there’s no emotion to feel what we felt when we found he left overseas,” she told...
There’s no emotion to feel what we felt....

How could such a smart boy have such a stupid mother? I hypothesize that intelligence is not hereditary, and the condition of having a stupid mother encourages the development of one's own ideas, schemes, and skills.

"12 Rules sets out an interesting and complex model for humanity, and it really has nothing to do with petting a cat or taking your tablets or being kind to lobsters."

"It is about strength, courage, responsibility, and suffering, but it is deep and difficult, and it is not easy to pigeonhole. In a sense, 12 Rules contains a number of hidden structures and hidden processes, and confusingly, these are not always made explicit in the text. The first of these is Deep Time. We are biological creatures, evolved beings who can only be truly understood through a model that encapsulates the notion of geological time.... Quite apart from the immensity of Deep Time, our story must take into account indescribable spans of historical time... His message is far from a 'Christian' one: it is a Jungian one...  Like Jung, Peterson senses a secret unrest that gnaws at the roots of our being, because we have forgotten too much from our long and dangerous journey. We must listen to our myths, understand them, and learn from them.... This leads to a second hidden concept: the Unconscious. Here Peterson recaptures ground that’s become unfashionable in modern psychology. His model is heavily influenced by Freud and Jung. 'You don’t know yourself,' he says. We are not who we thought we were. We carry secret, shameful knowledge that’s scarcely accessible to conscious exploration (Freud). We also carry elements of a Collective Unconscious (Jung) that’s glimpsed via our myths and creation narratives. If you think you are an atheist you are wrong, says Peterson, because your mind has been bent and shaped and molded by a god-fearing past stretching back into the unfathomable abysm of time."

From "Jordan Peterson and the Return of the Stoics/His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it" by Tim Rogers in The American Conservative.

You can buy the book at Amazon, here.

And here's Jordan Peterson doing a nice job on Bill Maher's show last Friday: