May 5, 2018

It's the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.

I'm not seeing a lot of celebrating, but here's Michael Moore:

The mainstream media stories I'm seeing tend to be about the Chinese statue: "Karl Marx’s German home town celebrates his 200th birthday with a Chinese statue — and a struggle" (WaPo):
The unveiling of a two-ton Chinese-funded sculpture to honor the German philosopher on the 200th anniversary of his birth brought scads of tourists to Trier, where his life began. While here, they took in Marx lectures, toured the Marx family home and bought vast quantities of marked-up Marx souvenirs....

The city is split over whether a democratic nation such as Germany should be erecting monuments that are paid for, designed and built by an authoritarian one such as China. The divide spilled into the streets Saturday with dueling demonstrations for and against the monolith, forming a noisy backdrop to the statue’s official dedication....

Not so long ago, Germany was tearing down statues of Marx. An icon of communist East Germany, his likeness was scrubbed from many a town square after the country’s reunification under democracy and capitalism in 1990....
I went back to Paul Johnson's book "Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky" and reread the chapter on Marx. Excerpt:
His angry egoism had physical as well as psychological roots. He led a peculiarly unhealthy life, took very little exercise, ate highly spiced food, often in large quantities, smoked heavily, drank a lot, especially strong ale, and as a result had constant trouble with his liver. He rarely took baths or washed much at all. This, plus his unsuitable diet, may explain the veritable plague of boils from which he suffered for a quarter of a century. They increased his natural irritability and seem to have been at their worst while he was writing Capital. ‘Whatever happens,’ he wrote grimly to Engels, ‘I hope the bourgeoisie as long as they exist will have cause to remember my carbuncles.’ The boils varied in numbers, size and intensity but at one time or another they appeared on all parts of his body, including his cheeks, the bridge of his nose, his bottom, which meant he could not write, and his penis. In 1873 they brought on a nervous collapse marked by trembling and huge bursts of rage.

Robert Caro talks with the novelist Colm Tóibín.

Robert Caro is my hero. I hadn't been conscious of having any heroes, but I surprised myself, when we were watching the introductory film presentation at the LBJ Library...

Introductory film presentation at the LBJ Library

... when — momentarily — a clip of Robert Caro appeared on screen. The film was loaded with adulatory material and many opportunities for Doris Kearns Goodman to enthuse about LBJ. But suddenly there was Robert Caro and heard myself say out loud: "He's my hero."

"While the white-savior complex and, yes, orientalism of some adoptive parents can be disturbing..."

The Nation's advice columnist concedes, but presents this as the better view:
Harvard professor Randall Kennedy, author of Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption, declared that trying to pair children with adoptive parents of the same race “buttresses the notion that people of different racial backgrounds really are different in some moral, unbridgeable, permanent sense. It affirms the notion that race should be a cage to which people are assigned at birth…. [It] instructs us that our affections are and should be bounded by the color line regardless of our efforts.” 

What Stormy Daniels tweeted at Roseanne Barr.

"I don't even do anal movies, you ignorant twat. That's like saying you are known for your beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner."

Quoted in "Roseanne gets into filthy Twitter feud with Stormy Daniels" (Entertainment Weekly).

Wouldn't cheap + billionaire be the best combination?

Seen, just now, in a sidebar at Salon:

Of course, Salon wants to stoke its readers' loathing of Trump, but this one should backfire. It seems like the best combination for a political leader, because: 1. This person was able to acquire great wealth, and 2. He has systems in place to prevent waste, even in small things.

When it's not about Trump, the frugality of wealthy individuals is celebrated. Here's "The surprisingly frugal habits of 8 extremely wealthy people":
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, still lives in the same home he bought for $31,500 in 1958....

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, drives a manual-transmission Volkswagen hatchback....

Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, still flies economy and often rides the bus....

Judy Faulkner, founder of Epic Systems... has had only two cars in the past 15 years and has lived with her husband in the same Madison, Wisconsin, suburb for nearly three decades.
Then there's "10 of the Richest Cheapskates of All Time" at Money Magazine begins:
Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, is known for his frugality, living in the same unostentatious Omaha home he bought in the 1950s.... The Buffett diet includes five Cokes a day, as well as Cheetos and potato chips.

Sam Walton, the late billionaire co-founder of Wal-Mart, also lived comfortably, but without all the showy toys he could easily have afforded. “Why do I drive a pickup truck?” he asked in his autobiography. “What am I supposed to haul my dogs around in, a Rolls-Royce?”
The article goes on to highlight actual stinginess, such as JFK — recipient of "a trust fund worth $170 million in today’s dollars" — allowing "his friends, flunkies, Secret Service agents, and even dates to pick up the tab wherever he went."

Feminist anxiety when a supposedly feminist TV show leans into the torture of women.

Lisa Miller (at The Cut) decides to stop watching "The Handmaid’s Tale."

There was Episode 1 of Season 2, where "our favorite characters are unrelentingly tortured — electrocuted with cattle prods, kicked, threatened with dogs, chained to a gas stove and burned, left alive on a gallows covered with urine."

And Episode 2: "[A] vast army of female slaves, barely alive, forced to dig all day in toxic waste until they die.... ]T]he soundtrack is mostly a constant, minor-key moan, like the wind through a cracked window, punctuated by the wailing and coughing of women, and screams."

Miller wonders:
Why am I watching this? It all feels so gratuitous... For season one, I agreed with the critical consensus. This is Important Television. A feminist parable, adapted from a novel by a woman, which was awarded eight Emmys — mostly to women — about the potential excesses of patriarchy, not so unimaginable now in the era of Pence and Trump.....
So you went along with the crowd that seemed like the right crowd. Why didn't you think for yourself? Why would the excesses of patriarchy take that form in the United States? Physically cruel, enforced captivity? That's not how we get people to submit to limited sex roles. So what if a woman dreamed up the idea? It's not an aptly imagined vision of how the subordination of women would be accomplished in American in our time. It's a sadistic, titillating fantasy, and it distracts the viewer from the way the real America tempts you into a cage with an open door. How lamely self-soothing to think that the problem is over there with Pence and Trump.

After one season and 2 episodes, Miller has a glimmer:
It’s feminist to watch women enslaved, degraded, beaten, amputated, and raped? How exactly am I participating in a women’s revolution by sitting on my comfy cozy bed and consuming this?...
The idea crosses her mind: Am I watching... porn? I'm paraphrasing. She puts it ditheringly. I mean, it's dithering just to put it in question form. To be straightforward, to talk like my idea of a feminist, you should say: I am watching porn! But Miller goes like this:
This question of porn in particular preoccupies me. There are many definitions of porn, many varieties, and the dilemma of whether pornography is a freedom or a tool of oppression continues to divide feminists. My concern in this case is fairly clear: that the violence against women in season 2 is indulgent, operatic, and designed to rouse if not pleasure then a visceral, physical response, that The Handmaid’s Tale has devolved from feminist horror into very conventional misogynistic entertainment. It’s a fantasia of women being debased and dehumanized, individually and en masse but disingenuously packaged as virtuous dystopian prophesy.
It's devolved. And only in Season 2. Please challenge yourself to critique Season 1 and the Atwood novel itself. If you're this slow picking up clues, how the hell will you notice when subtle, insidious cultural trends are subordinating you?!
Is the positioning of Handmaid’s Tale as smart, leftist political commentary protective against charges that it exploits women?...
It is if you let that sort of thing work on you. But you could put real feminism first.

"If you spend $1 million on your defense lawyer, how can you credibly claim you didn't even get the constitutional minimum, effective assistance of counsel?"

"Cynics will say, the way to do that is: 1. Get convicted because a well-paid lawyer wasn't able to persuade a jury to see reasonable doubt, and 2. Pay more money for more lawyers and persuade a judge of what you need to overturn the conviction. And super-cynics will add: 3. Be a Kennedy."

That's what I wrote about Michael Skakel back in October 2013.

This morning I see — in the NYT — "Connecticut Court Reverses Murder Conviction of Michael Skakel."
[I]n a lacerating dissent, Justice Carmen E. Espinosa argued that more than anything else, Mr. Skakel had benefited from his wealth and prominent connections. She wrote that other convicted criminals “would undoubtedly be thrilled to receive such special treatment.”

“Unfortunately for them, the vast majority do not share the petitioner’s financial resources, social standing, ethnicity or connections to a political dynasty,” Justice Espinosa wrote. “Nor do their cases share the same ‘glam’ and celebrity factor as this cause célèbre.”

Mr. Skakel, who was 15 at the time of the killing, was not arrested until he was in his late 30s. He was sentenced to 20 years to life for the murder. Mr. Skakel was released in 2013, after spending more than a decade in prison. A judge had vacated the original sentence, finding that Mr. Skakel’s trial lawyer had not provided effective representation.

Then, in 2016, the Supreme Court reinstated the conviction, disagreeing with that judge’s finding. The high court, acting on a request from the defense, decided to review its own decision. In the interim, the makeup of the court changed with the retirement of the justice who wrote the majority opinion in the last ruling....
BUT: The majority opinion in the new case was written by Justice Richard N. Palmer. I've never thought about the relationship among the justices on the Connecticut Supreme Court before this morning, but I just ran into this passage, written by Palmer in 2015 (and quoted at Above the Law in "Judge Benchslaps Fellow Jurist In Awesomely Feisty Footnote/Whoa, these judges probably shouldn't sit next to each other on the bench at court"):
Rather than support her opinion with legal analysis and authority, however, [Justice Espinosa] chooses, for reasons we cannot fathom, to dress her argument in language so derisive that it is unbefitting an opinion of this state’s highest court. Perhaps worse, her interest lies only in launching groundless ad hominem attacks and claiming to be able to divine the (allegedly improper) personal motivations of the majority. We will not respond in kind to Justice Espinosa’s offensive accusations; we are content, instead, to rely on the merits of our analysis of the issues presented by this appeal. Unfortunately, in taking a different path, Justice Espinosa dishonors this court.

May 4, 2018

"John Kerry-Iran deal report sparks chatter about potential Logan Act violation."

Headline at The Washington Examiner.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted in response to the Boston Globe report: "OMG! Logan Act violations!! Send in the G Men..."

Meanwhile, Tom Fitton, who heads the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, said "Kerry making quiet play to save Iran deal with foreign leaders: report. I'm waiting for the Left to scream treason and for Sally Yates to invoke the Logan Act and demand a criminal investigation."

He was referring to former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was concerned that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn had violated the Logan Act during the presidential transition period after he discussed policy issues with a Russian envoy....

"You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. You really care about getting information that Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment or whatever."

Said Federal District Judge T. S. Ellis III today, reported in "Judge Questions Whether Mueller Has Overstepped His Authority" (NYT).
The judge’s unfriendly reception was a new turn of events for Mr. Mueller’s team, which has faced little or no confrontation during court hearings. Other Americans charged by the special counsel have pleaded guilty and most have agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors. But Mr. Manafort has mounted a vigorous defense against financial fraud and other charges, contending that Mr. Mueller has gone beyond his mandate.

Judge Ellis, 77, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, seemed sympathetic to that argument. He said that the criminal activity described in the indictment “manifestly has nothing to do with the campaign” or Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Some of the allegations, he noted, date to 2005 and 2007.

“I don’t see what relation this indictment has with what the special counsel is investigating,” he said during an hourlong hearing on a defense motion to dismiss the charges. “I’m sure you’re sensitive to the fact that the American people feel pretty strongly about no one having unfettered power.”

A sentence to diagram.

"The left’s increasing zeal to transform prostitution into legalized and regulated 'sex work' will have this end implicitly in mind, the libertarian (and general male) fascination with virtual-reality porn and sex robots will increase as those technologies improve — and at a certain point, without anyone formally debating the idea of a right to sex, right-thinking people will simply come to agree that some such right exists, and that it makes sense to look to some combination of changed laws, new technologies and evolved mores to fulfill it."

That 88-word sentence is from "The Redistribution of Sex" by Ross Douthat (NYT). And "this end" refers to addressing "the unhappiness of incels, be they angry and dangerous or simply depressed and despairing."

I came out in favor of sex robots last July, here.

Anyway, I think it's an interesting sentence to try to diagram.

For a much better experience — I called it "orgasmic" — in diagramming a sentence, look back to this January 2013 post that took on "When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air."

What is the "Overground Hell Road"?

Presumably, he's flipping the term "Underground Railroad" and it's related to his comments about mental slavery that we discussed here a couple days ago.

I thought the article linked here was an interesting take:

Why not say, more simply, "Overground Railroad"? Because the unhidden equivalent of the Underground Railroad would be taking you to freedom. The "Overground Hell Road" is out in the open. It's the destination that is hidden.

What is a "hell road"? For me, it calls to mind the old saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," which I'm pleased to see has its own Wikipedia article:
The saying is thought to have originated with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who wrote (c. 1150), "L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés ou désirs" (hell is full of good wishes or desires). An earlier saying occurs in Virgil's Aeneid: "facilis descensus Averno (the descent to hell is easy)"....

Authors who have used the phrase include Charlotte Brontë, Lord Byron, Samuel Johnson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott,[16] Søren Kierkegaard,[17] and Karl Marx. Ozzy Osbourne used the term in the song "Tonight" on his album Diary of a Madman.

In the movie Highway to Hell, the phrase is taken literally to create one particular scene. The Good Intentions Paving Company has a team of Andy Warhols who grind good-intentioned souls into pavement....

I'm bored.

You talk about it.

Here in Madison, we're shaking off the rain....

"The Swedish panel that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature said on Friday that it would take the extraordinary step of not naming a laureate this year..."

"... not because of a shortage of deserving writers, but because of the infighting and public outrage that have engulfed the group over a sexual abuse scandal," the NYT reports.

I think they should do something creative, like when Time magazine chose all of us its Person of the Year:

Make all of us writing on the internet the Nobel Laureate this time. Everybody's a winner. Or just all of us women.

But, no. Instead the panel is going to name 2 winners next year! So the experience of being THE Nobel Prize winner will be diluted for 2 writers who are both, presumably, worthy of celebration individually in a year of their own.

What a piss-poor solution to their PR problem! Let's see who they decide to honor next year. I bet they use the occasion to throw a couple awards to writers in countries that are usually ignored. There are 7 countries that have won 6 or more Nobel Literature prizes and more than 150 that haven't won any. Let's see what happens. Mark my finely clear-sightedly realistic, evocatively ambiguous, impassioned, magnificent, luminous, frolicsome words. You know, I am upholding the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history with extraordinary linguistic zeal revelatory of the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power.

"As of one month ago, I knew of just one friend who microdosed; my friend, who is a musician, said he was taking 0.1 grams of mushrooms a few mornings a week..."

"... so he could finish up an album that had been taking him years. Then, a few weeks later, I was at a different friend’s house when he walked into his kitchen, took a teeny-tiny, shriveled-up mushroom stem out of the freezer, snapped off a minuscule amount, and popped it into his mouth, a thing he now does regularly to feel 'more open' while on the many work calls he has throughout the day. This was while telling me about another friend, who’s devised a way to, as precisely as possible, dilute liquid LSD into 10-microgram doses. That guy uses it for painting...."

From "Microdosing’s Micromoment Consuming crumb-size amounts of psychedelics — not to get high but to feel more focused and creative and present — has moved a tiny bit mainstream" (The Cut).

Nice photograph, by the way, by Bobby Doherty. Oh! That reminds me. Here's a photograph I took at the LBJ Library last month (not the best photograph but I love the sentiment):


"Epperly’s off-the-wall theory says that the root of all disease is a gut parasite called 'candida,' and the solution is 'Jilly Juice.'"

"The beverage is made by combining salt, water, and kale or cabbage in a blender and allowing it to ferment at room temperature over a few days. She advocates consuming up to a gallon a day — the juice would rid the gut of the fungus, expelled in bouts of diarrhea that she refers to as 'waterfalls.' 'I'm proud of being a leader of a poop cult,' she joked in a post on her Facebook page, adopting a moniker from her critics.... For $30 annually, customers have access to private forums to share experiences and ask questions. Epperly also conducts phone consults for $70 an hour...."

From "The Ohio Attorney General Is Demanding Answers From The Woman Who Started A Facebook Cabbage Juice Cult/Jillian Epperly preached to thousands about a homebrew cabbage juice, claiming that explosive diarrhea expels dangerous parasites" (Buzzfeed).

Too bad this story wasn't around in December 2004 when I was deliberately cabbage-blogging and promoting cabbage-blogging.

From that old post:
"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup."
Speaking of ugly, did you know you can get a Donald Trump Cabbage Patch Doll?
ADDED: Isn't Epperly just carrying on the folk tradition of sauerkraut juice?

Aquaria as Melania.

I wish I had some good video to go with this post, since I doubt if many of you watch "RuPaul's Drag Race," but I must post to say how much I enjoyed Aquaria's impersonation of Melania Trump on last night's show. I was especially amused by the handing over of the Tiffany box which, opened by RuPaul, revealed a handwritten note, "Help me!"

This will have to do for now:

ADDED: I've only started watching "RuPaul's Drag Race" recently (and only because I wanted to understand what Tom and Lorenzo were talking about in their podcast, which I greatly enjoy). So I'd never seen the "Snatch Game" competition before. But it's been going on long enough for there to be 87 items on "Every Snatch Game Impersonation on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ranked." #1 is this Mae West, who delivered this memorable (NSFW) one-liner:

The importance of spectator sports and facial hair.

"People keep asking me what @realDonaldTrump did to deserve a Nobel Prize..."

"It sounded like there were rocks in a dryer that were being tumbled around. You could hear the power it of it pushing out of the ground."

From "Hawaii’s Kilauea erupts. Evacuations underway as lava threatens communities" (WaPo).

Nicki Minaj is sued over her use of an upside-down-heart on an "I [heart] Nicki" T-shirt.

Her people didn't just use the idea of an upside-down-heart that is (on closer look) a pair of breasts, they used exactly the same image of upside-down-heart breasts that the plaintiff had (he says) created and copyrighted for his "I [heart] Venice Beach" T-shirts. The only difference between the 2 "hearts" is the shade of pink for the part of the "chest" not covered by the red bikini top.

Here's the TMZ report, with a photo of both shirts.

How lame to use that exact image, which wasn't perfectly drawn. I guess the idea is to get right on the line where viewers perceive a heart — and wonder why it's upside down — and then pop into the realization that it's breasts. Maybe it was clear that the effect worked on the Venice Beach shirt, and you don't want to tinker with what has proved reliable.

Of course, it's generally pretty awful to want to wear an image of breasts on your chest, but I guess it's better for Nicki Minaj fans to celebrate her body knowing that she herself is selling the shirt than it is to buy a shirt that celebrates the bodies of women on the beach who are not saying I want you to isolate and make a fuss about my breasts and who do not make any money off the shirts.

Who is supposed to want to wear these shirts — men or women? A woman wearing either of these shirts is wearing breasts over her breasts and likely to be understood to be saying hey, look at my breasts... I've got real breasts under here... think about that. A man wearing either shirt — especially the Venice Beach shirt — seems to be saying... well, it depends on how the man looks, doesn't it? I'm cycling through different mental pictures of men and getting a lot of different messages. I'll just say you'd better be awfully cute and happy looking if you wear that.

Speaking of originality, the "I [heart] X" design goes back to a trademark owned by the New York State Department of Economic Development.
The logo was designed by graphic designer Milton Glaser in 1976 in the back of a taxi and was drawn with red crayon on scrap paper. The original drawing is held in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
I encourage you legal folk to discuss the difference between copyright and trademark in this Venice Beach/Nicki Minaj problem. I assume there's no trademark claim and that the copyright problem — if there is one — could have been avoided by drawing the shape slightly differently.

But I will go on to wonder who first got idea that a heart, flipped, looked like breasts? Ah! But here's a superseding question: Why do we have that simple  shape in the first place? It doesn't look that much like the internal organ. Consider the possibility that the resemblance to breasts is the origin story for the heart shape. Here's "Ever Wondered Why The Hearts We Draw Look Nothing Like The Shape Of Real Hearts? Here’s Why":
5. It looks a pair of woman's breasts

The ideographic heart when inverted, is roughly triangular in shape with two round lobes occupying the base of the triangle - it is a fair supposition of a woman’s breasts pushed together probably by a corset which exaggerates the pair of breasts and narrows the waist.
So the heart shape looks like breasts even before you invert it and may even be the reason we have the shape in the first place. But you notice the number "5" in the explanation above. It's one of 7 ideas about why the shape has that form, including that it was a way to draw a woman's pubic mound and — all of these are inverted s — the vulva, buttocks, and testicles.

"New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday evening that the city would push a plan to open so-called safe injection sites for heroin users..."

"... part of an effort to reduce an epidemic of deadly drug overdoses across the city. The facilities, also known as overdose prevention centers, provide drug users with access to clean needles and space to inject drugs. They are overseen by staff trained to use the overdose-reversing antidote naloxone and suggest addiction treatment options for illicit drug users."

A sad stopgap. But is it legal?
In February, the Drug Enforcement Administration stated that safe injection sites "violate federal law" and would be "subject to legal action.”

May 3, 2018

At the Trading Company Café...


... you can talk all night.

And please think of using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"You know how most people say less is more? I’m like f*ck that. More is more. I’m like, let’s see how high I can get these lashes."

"Because I really like to do the spider lashes, a good day is when my lashes touch my eyebrows.... A lot of my colleagues here always say something about my strong presence in the office. I think it’s because I put in the work to take care of myself, so I can take care of others. I know firsthand that if I don’t take care of myself in the morning, I’m not confident and I don’t feel happy. I think my lashes represent this thing about self-respect that also helps garner respect from my peers and people I meet with on a day-to-day basis. It makes me honestly engage with people a little bit more and has taught me the importance of eye contact."

From "Why I Make My Eyelashes Look Fake Every Day" by Aydah Albaba as told to Shannon Barbour.

A good day for me is when something seems bloggable and then just serendipitously contains the word "garner."

How I know Meade is on the roof.

I get a text like this...

... and I'm thinking nice... hey, wait a minute!!!

I keep getting served this ad and it's kind of freaking me out.

Now, I don't dress like that or wear my hair like that or act like that. I mean I'd put my hand in my pocket, but, given a small bouquet of flowers, I would not put it on my head with an ooh-it's-kind-of-like-a-hat gesture. But I'm afraid this company — Gudrun something or other — has been reading some dark garishly bright corner of my mind and calculated that this — this!!! — is the real me, traipsing and stumbling about town. And I've got to admit that it's just about exactly how I pictured the myself as an old lady when I was 19 years old.

"Although [Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions] has spawned thousands of worshipful articles and books, it remains for me, at best, like Pet Rocks—a fad."

"When I first wrote this, I received instant criticism from my editor and others: fads are short-lived, while enthusiasm for Kuhn’s book has persisted for half a century. And unlike Pet Rocks, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was never sold as a forting companion, a solution to urban loneliness in a post-industrial society. So not exactly Pet Rocks. Maybe what emerged was more of a cult. With Kuhn as leader, dispensing his own brand of pernicious intellectual Kool-Aid. (In John Milius’s 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian, a peddler tells Conan about the cult of Set: 'Two, three years ago, it was just another snake cult. Now you see it everywhere.')"

Writes Errol Morris in an excerpt from his book "The Ashtray (Or the Man Who Denied Reality)."

The second link goes to Amazon, where you can pre-order the book (it comes out on the 22nd) and where it says: "In 1972, philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn threw an ashtray at Errol Morris. This book is the result.... Morris wants to establish as clearly as possible what we know and can say about the world, reality, history, our actions and interactions. It’s the fundamental desire that animates his filmmaking, whether he’s probing Robert McNamara about Vietnam or the oddball owner of a pet cemetery. Truth may be slippery, but that doesn’t mean we have to grease its path of escape through philosophical evasions."

Scott Adams talks about Kanye West tweeting Scott Adams videos about Kanye West.

“I’m going to build five properties, so it’s my first community, I’m getting into development…It’s just the next frontier for me, to develop... So I’m going to be one of the biggest real-estate developers of all time..."

"... what Howard Hughes was to aircrafts and what Henry Ford was to cars. Just the relationships I have with architects, my understanding of space and sacred proportions, just this new vibe, this new energy…We gonna develop cities.”

Said Kanye West, quoted in "Is Kanye West Trying to Build His Own Rajneeshpuram?/The musician/entrepreneur recently divulged that he’s purchased a 300-acre plot of land to build a new community. And he’s apparently been planning it for years" (Daily Beast).

As for "what Henry Ford was to cars," somebody tell Kanye about Fordlândia.

As for Rajneeshpuram, that's a current topic of conversation among people watching the Netflix series "Wild Wild Country." Here's "9 Rajneeshpuram Residents on What Wild Wild Country Got Wrong":
Wild Wild Country... tells the story of Rajneeshpuram — a utopian commune established in rural Oregon in the early 1980s, by the the followers of Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later called Osho). The riveting series charts the escalating criminal activity that took place on the ranch, led by Bhagwan’s ruthless personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela, who adopts ever more extreme methods (poison, arson, and more) to oppose the forces — like the U.S. government — that she sees threatening their group.
It seems mean to put that template on Kanye's real estate project, but it's be-mean-to-Kanye time in some quarters.

"It would seem that last year some Chinese parents complained that their children were 'addicted to Peppa Pig,' and 'began oinking and jumping into puddles after watching the cartoon.'"

"But the subculture referred to [in the state media outlet Global Times] is a more serious phenomenon. It is called shehuiren, which translates directly as 'a member of society,' but is used to describe rowdy young adults, particularly young men. How did an animated farm animal meant for preschoolers come to be associated with millennials who are labeled by state media as 'slackers' and the 'antithesis of the young generation the [Chinese Communist] Party tries to cultivate'?"

From "What Does Beijing Have Against Peppa Pig...?" (Daily Beast).

I read the article but still can't answer those questions. I am wondering if the Chinese leaders are anything like Jordan Peterson with his hatred of Elmo (see #7 at "11 things I learned from the WaPo article about Jordan Peterson").

Any characters designed for children that you'd like to rail against. This is a potentially huge topic. Please try to go big with it. Don't just wander around inside the comfortable topic Communists Are Repressive. Look at the characters we invite and encourage young people to identify with. Quite aside from government censorship, private citizens make choices about what to give to our children. Where  are we going wrong? What did you latch onto as a child that took you down a dark path?

"Macron calls Australian leader’s wife ‘delicious’ — and demonstrates the perils of diplomacy in a foreign language."

A WaPo headline.
Macron — who is proficient in English but occasionally struggles to find his words — was probably the victim of what the French call a “faux ami,” which refers to a word that looks and sounds similar in French and English (or another language) but differs significantly in meaning.

Yes, the term “délicieuse” can and often does mean “delicious,” and it can carry a sexual connotation. But it can also have a more mundane meaning, especially in this context. It can mean “lovely,” “delightful” or “charming” when used to describe a person. It doesn’t have to connote something physical, although it’s perhaps rare for someone as young as Macron to use the term in its somewhat antiquated sense.
And yet the word "delicious" in English also has those other meanings. The oldest meaning — in my dictionary, the OED — is "Highly pleasing or delightful; affording great pleasure or enjoyment" or "Intensely amusing or entertaining." The second meaning is "Highly pleasing or enjoyable to the bodily senses, esp. to the taste or smell; affording exquisite sensuous or bodily pleasure." It is etymologically related to "delicate" and "delightful."

ADDED: Years ago, as I remember, it was common among older American women to call a person "delicious." It also used to be considered lovely for an old lady to say to a child, "Oh, I could eat you up!" "Delicious" was also used to refer to clever pranks and ripostes that gave some disapproved of person what he deserved. In recounting the story, one might say "It was delicious!"

AND: The only reason this is coming up as a controversy — when it is absolutely nothing — is because Macron hobnobs with Trump. If Macron had just been swanning about with Obama, his remark about the Australian lady would have been understood to mean "delightful" and digested with ease.

I'm therefore giving this post my Trump derangement syndrome tag.

"Incidents of sexual misconduct by Charlie Rose were far more numerous than previously known..."

"... according to a new investigation by The Washington Post, which also found three occasions over a period of 30 years in which CBS managers were warned of his conduct toward women at the network."
An additional 27 women — 14 CBS News employees and 13 who worked with him elsewhere — said Rose sexually harassed them. Concerns about Rose’s behavior were flagged to managers at the network as early as 1986 and as recently as April 2017, when Rose was co-anchor of “CBS This Morning,” according to multiple people with firsthand knowledge of the conversations....

“I had been there long enough to know that it was just the way things went,” said Sophie Gayter, now 27, who worked at “60 Minutes” in 2013 when, she said, Rose groped her buttocks as they walked down an office hallway to a recording studio. “People said what they wanted to you, people did what they wanted to you.”
People? So not just Rose.

Lots more at the link.

11 things I learned from the WaPo article about Jordan Peterson.

(Here's the article that went up yesterday.)

1. Kanye West seems to have put up a photo of his computer that showed he had a tab for a Jordan Peterson video, so either he was watching a Jordan Peterson video, or he was considering watching a Jordan Peterson video, or he or somebody touching that computer wanted to make it look as though he was watching a Jordan Peterson video. The Jordan Peterson/Kanye West combination is awesomely exciting/terrifyingly powerful/mindcrushingly lame.

2. Video is the key to Peterson's success because — these are Peterson's words — "it turns out that people can listen to things they can’t read." People who won't read "challenging books" — WaPo's words — will, for some reason, listen to Peterson lectures that go on for hours.

3. Peterson is speaking to men. Women can listen in and try to get some useful tips, but the intended audience is men, men, men, those little weasels, those "weak... [s]louchers, slackers, chumps, low-status dudes who have amassed."

4. Some developmental psychologist was found to deliver the accusation that Peterson "takes a really simplistic approach toward gender inequality" and gives what "feels like a dressed-up version of misogyny." How does one get to be "simplistic" and "dressed up" at the same time? The text on its face is hinky.

5. Peterson's Rule #1 is "Stand up straight with your shoulders back," but he's "slow to offer direct eye contact, prone to gazing downward" and "seems too immersed in big thoughts to be bothered by what’s in front of him" and, "[d]uring the photo session in the park," he "semi-slumps."

6. Peterson sometimes moves himself to cry and leaves the "unwiped tears" on his face. We're told he's subject to "severe depression" and has been on antidepressants.

7. The selected item of evidence in support of the proposition that Peterson "appears temperamentally incapable of picking his battles" is that he attacked Elmo — "I always hated that creepy, whiny puppet." But — I just checked — Peterson doesn't randomly attack Elmo. He's telling a story about an inept father who complains about his inability to get his son to go to sleep at night but has been rewarding the child's recalcitrance by putting on an Elmo video. The sideswipe at Elmo was a bit of comic relief. The main problem was the father and his decision to show any video to the child, but the fact that the father showed Elmo gave some color to the story. Lest we think Elmo was at least good choice if you're going to show a child a video, Peterson calls Elmo "creepy" and "whiny" and — WaPo left this out — "a disgrace to Jim Henson’s legacy." I presume Peterson could speak for an hour on that topic.

8. Despite efforts to connect Peterson to the right wing, WaPo highlights his opposition to what Donald Trump supposedly represents. It quotes the one mention of Trump in the "12 Rules" book: "If 'men are pushed too hard to feminize,' he writes, 'they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology.' He argues that 'the populist groundswell of support for Donald Trump in the U.S. is part of the same process.'"

9. Peterson gave up religious belief when he was a teenager but he lectures at immense length on the “Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories."

10. He's very sensitive about food and believes he got off antidepressants by changing his diet, which seems to be "meat, salad and water... with only turmeric and salt for flavor." His daughter promotes the diet on line, here. He calls the diet "ridiculous," and I agree. The only fruit on the diet is olives!

11. The highest-rated comment at WaPo is: "As soon as I read Kanye was a fan, I could have stopped reading. Unfortunately, I kept reading. Victimhood is a left wing problem? Trump and the alt-right thrive on victimhood. I am a white male. I enjoyed a great advantage in life. When I started my professional life, 'girls' still had to prove themselves the equals of men. No, I am not that old. This was the 1990's."

Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, according to Giuliani.

That's the big news this morning. I'll link to the NYT, which is reporting on last night's appearance of Giuliani on Sean Hannity's TV show.

The NYT notes that this "contradicted" what Trump has said, but only gives this:
Asked specifically last month by reporters aboard Air Force One whether he knew about the payment, Mr. Trump said, “No,” and referred questions to Mr. Cohen. He was then asked, “Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?”

“No,” Mr. Trump responded. “I don’t know.”
But what if Trump didn't know at the time that a payment was made, and Cohen simply took the initiative, and the reimbursement was arranged after the fact. Then there's no contradiction, is there?

The NYT did its own interview with Giuliani, and that seems to support my understanding of why there is no contradiction. Cohen made the payment "on his own authority" and the reimbursement was arranged "some time after the campaign is over" —  "$35,000 a month, out of his personal family account."

And Giuliani asserts that the reimbursement "removes the campaign finance violation." I haven't researched the legal question, but isn't that like a thief handing back what he took after he's caught?

ADDED: Trump is tweeting this morning:
Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA. These agreements are.....

...very common among celebrities and people of wealth. In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair,......

...despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.

May 2, 2018

At the First Lady Café...


... keep it beautiful.

And consider doing your shopping through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The photo is from April 13th at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.

"Yes, Donald Trump Is Making White People More Hateful/A new study finds empirical evidence of the 'Trump Effect.'"

So says The Nation.

"All 214 Artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ranked From Best to Worst."

By the rock critic (not the musician) Bill Wyman.

It's an amusing read if you're not the sort of person who gets steamed because your opinions are not shared. I mean, he puts Queen second to last, beating only Bon Jovi, but he states his reasons.

"I thought my review was fair and honest, like most of the reviews I leave on Yelp, and I even said I’d give their pizza a chance."

"Apparently that wasn’t good enough for the restaurant’s manager. At 10:05 p.m., I was in bed on the verge of falling asleep when I heard someone knocking on my door. I live alone. People rarely visit without warning me first. So needless to say, I was startled. I am not a white person in a horror flick, so I did not leave my room to walk down a flight of stairs in a house without power to see who was knocking at my door. Then the phone rang. I didn’t answer because I didn’t recognize the phone number. Again, not a white person in a horror movie. I sent the call to voicemail. A few seconds later, the same call came in. I sent it to voicemail again. This time, they actually left a message. 'Hello, this is [inaudible name], the manager of La Porchetta. I am outside your door. I want to speak to you about your Yelp review,' the heavily accented Middle Eastern voice said...."

From "Here’s What Happened After I Left a 3-Star Yelp Review for a Pizza Parlor" by Yesha Callahan at The Root.

"The American police are involved in psychological warfare against those Americans who don’t frighten them with imposing papers and threats."

"There’s no defense. Poor people have to expect to have their lives interfered with ad infinitum by these neurotic busybodies. It’s a Victorian police force; it peers out of musty windows and wants to inquire about everything, and can make crimes if the crimes don’t exist to their satisfaction. Neal was so mad he wanted to come back to Virginia and shoot the cop as soon as he had a gun. 'Pennsylvania!' he scoffed. 'I wish I knew what that charge was! Vag, probably; take all my money and charge me vag. Those guys have it so damned easy. They’ll out and shoot you if you complain, too.' There was nothing to do but get happy with ourselves again and forget about it. When we got through Richmond we began forgetting about it and soon everything was OK. In the Virginia wilderness suddenly we saw a man walking on the road. Neal zoomed to a stop. I looked back and said he was only a bum and probably didn’t have a cent. 'We’ll just pick him up for kicks!' laughed Neal. The man was a ragged bespectacled mad type walking along reading a paperbacked muddy book he’d found in a culvert by the road. He got in the car and went right on reading; he was incredibly filthy and covered with scabs. He said his name was Herbert Diamond and that he walked all over the USA knocking and sometimes kicking at Jewish doors and demanding money. 'Give me money to eat. I am Jew.' He said it worked very well and that it was coming to him. We asked him what he was reading. He didn’t know. He didn’t bother to look at the title page. He was only looking at the words, as tho he had found the real Torah where it belonged, in the Wilderness. 'See? see? see?' cackled Neal poking my ribs. 'I told you it was kicks. Everybody’s kicks, man!'"

Kerouac, Jack. "On the Road: The Original Scroll" (p. 238). Kindle Edition.

I'm reading that as a consequence of searching for the word "poor" in the only Jack Kerouac book I have in searchable form. I was looking for "poor" because I'd read — in a non-Kerouac book — "Just a moment before, I was feeling a little like Jack Kerouac in that line that Gregory hated, when Kerouac says how, because he was poor, everything in the world belonged to him."

That line, it turns out, isn't in "On the Road." It's in "Visions of Cody." I found it here: "Everything belongs to me because I am poor." Why would you hate that line? "Gregory" was Gregory Corso, and the book I was reading was "When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac School." I have been reading that book for practically the entire history of this blog! Here's my post from March 15, 2004, which says I've been reading the book for the past month.

Line from the post that really places it in the past: "Ah! Too bad there weren't video cameras everywhere, because that could be the perfect reality show, combining The Apprentice and The Osbournes!" (the book is about going to study at the Jack Kerouac School for Disembodied Poetics, where the teachers are famous beat poets who turn out to be — as I put it in '04 — "all old men, somewhat addled and shambling" and the author finds that he is "not quite so much a student as an apprentice").

Yes, why can't I just get through the book, which is quite likable? Obviously, I got very distracted by the blog and fell out of the habit of reading things in paper form. But I picked it up again today because the light was so good for reading outside. It was bright but overcast. I'd read paper books outside all the time if the light could be like that. It was 72°.

"This weather is perfect," I said. "This is the weather in Limbo."

I was talking to Meade, who said: "Limbo, Kansas."

"Ford designed a car that spits out a motorcycle."

Fox News reports.

“I think mayonnaise—actually, sorry, this is stupid, this is crazy"/"Not at all"/"I think mayonnaise has a complex kind of relation to the sublime."

"And I think emulsion does generally. It’s something about that intermediary—I don’t know—place, between being solid and being a liquid, that has a weird relation to the sublime, in the sense that the sublimity of it is in the indefinable nature of it"/"It’s liminal also"/"It’s liminal, and it connects to the body in a certain way"/"You have to shake it up. You have to put the energy into it to get it into that state"/"Anyway... mostly I just don’t fucking like it."

From "Fred Moten’s Radical Critique of the Present" in The New Yorker. Moten, the first speaker in the dialogue above, is a poet, critic, theorist, and NYU professor. He has a book of essays titled "Stolen Life." Here's a quote from it:
"Black studies is a dehiscence at the heart of the institution on its edge; its broken, coded documents sanction walking in another world while passing through this one, graphically disordering the administered scarcity from which black studies flows as wealth."
The New Yorker saves us the trouble of looking up "dehiscence" by telling us it's "a surgical complication in which a wound ruptures along a surgical incision." But I still feel compelled to look up "liminal." I mean, I kind of know the word, but why are these 2 men so easily agreeing on the liminality of mayonnaise?!

The OED gives this as the first meaning: "That has the lowest amount necessary to produce a particular effect; minimal; insignificant." Sample quote (from T.C. Boyle): "The liminal smile, the coy arch of the eyebrows."

Second meaning: "Characterized by being on a boundary or threshold, esp. by being transitional or intermediate between two states, situations, etc." Sample quote: "Airports are places of waiting and uncertainty—liminal, indeterminate spaces, caught between one world and another." Yeah, that's kind of like mayonnaise. I mean, if you're going through airport security and you've got mayonnaise, do you have to limit yourself 3 ounces and put it in the see-through, quart-size bag?

Third meaning: "Cultural Anthropol. Of or relating to a transitional or intermediate state between culturally defined stages of a person's life, esp. as marked by a ritual or rite of passage; characterized by liminality." That's limited to cultural anthropology, and while I'm prepared to riff on the cultural anthropology of mayonnaise...

... the definition does specify "stages of a person's life," and there's no personification of mayonnaise... is there?

"We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward. We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women."

Said Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, describing the "incredibly fun" process of deciding to change the name of the Boy Scouts program to Scouts BSA (USA Today reports).

Of course, girls can join Boy Scouts now, and why wouldn't they?

Meade monitors "Morning Mika"...

... and calls me over to see this...


The chattering and overtalking on TV is so annoying, I say, and then Meade is watching on mute with close captioning. He declares it to be very amusing because he's focusing on the facial expressions.

"They're so self-satisfied. You really see it. You see them overacting and over-emoting for each other, for themselves. It's big jerk circle. It's a circle of jerks. ♪♫♬In the ciiiiiircle of jerks♪♫♬."

Meade's musical reference:

"When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.... You were there for 400 years and it's all of y'all. It's like we're mentally imprisoned."

Said Kanye West, reported in a lot of places. I'll link to CNN, which supplies a little of the criticism that predictably ensued and Kanye's clarification:
"Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved... [T]he reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can't be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought. It was just an idea. [O]nce again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas."
Kanye got our attention by saying something that seems wrong. And it's wrong in a direction that is precisely the way nearly everyone feels inhibited about going: failing to acknowledge the full horror of slavery. But Kanye claims freedom of thought, and once he got our attention, he added detail that you might feel compelled to think through. He knows people care about him and want to understand him, so we (not all of us, but many) want to understand his explanation. And it's not that confusing. He's not withholding empathy from the people who suffered in the past. He's calling people today to a higher ground of freedom. If you truly see the horror of forced slavery, why would you, who are physically, legally free, keep yourself in a condition of mental slavery?

It made me think of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song": "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds." The lyrics website Genius has this annotation:
These lines were derived from a speech given by Marcus Garvey, a proponent of Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism:
We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind
Marcus Garvey is also a prophet in the Rastafari culture, which Bob Marley followed.

This idea that no one but ourselves can free our minds recalls an idea that predates the Renaissance, which is that if the mind is free, one can never be truly imprisoned. One example comes from “To Althea from Prison” by Richard Lovelace:
Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage.
Mental slavery, Marley suggests, is the real slavery, the fundamental slavery from which one must free oneself.

"He wanted to be a neighborhood saint. He's a middle-class, white-privileged saint. He believes he's beloved."

Overheard at Meadhouse.

Can't tell you the context. You're on your own. 

May 1, 2018

"Ada vox had the best voice of the whole competition but conservative america ignored that bc she was a drag queen and that’s the tea."

That's one tweet, grousing about the results on the most recent episode of "American Idol," quoted at "Ada Vox Lost ‘American Idol’ Because She Wasn’t The Best Singer. Period," by Clay Aiken. Aiken, a gay man, is a former contestant. He came in second in Season 2. Aiken tells off the shows critics:
That outraged Twitter user was correct: This is a competition about singing. And Ada Vox, entertaining performer though she doubtless is, was not the best singer. No, ma’am.

Most of us were thrilled to see a contestant breaking down another barrier. We were excited to see an out and proud contestant doing well and living their truth on an American institution.... Ada Vox was not eliminated because she didn’t conform to the societal norms of “Idol” viewers; she was eliminated because she didn’t conform to the key of the song.

Remember, contestants don’t get voted off “American Idol.” They failed to get voted on. Ada Vox didn’t have millions of people logging on or calling into ABC and voting to remove her from the show. She simply couldn’t grab enough viewers (or high Bs in “Circle of Life”) to compel them to vote for her.
A few thoughts:

1. "That's the tea" is defined at Urban Dictionary as: "That's the gossip. The deal. The current news. The latest."

2. I'm not so sure what Vox was doing counts as "living their truth." Vox is a drag character created by Adam Sanders after he tried out for the show 12 times as Adam Sanders and never got too far. The female performance was much more successful than what I would guess Sanders prefers — showing himself as a nonconforming male. Wasn't what he tried 12 times more the truth than the drag performance?

3. I give a lot of credit to Clay Aiken for going on the show in 2003 and presenting himself forthrightly as as a nontraditional male (basically, what Sanders attempted 12 times before turning to drag):

4. Clay Aiken was on Season 5 of "Celebrity Apprentice." He came in second (losing to Arsenio Hall). Here he is expressing his respect for Donald Trump back in 2015:

"I don’t give a fuck. I mean, everybody had to choose for themselves, according to their own conscience, who they felt was the lesser of two evils."

"This is America, it’s a free country, and you know, when you weigh it all together, you know, I just felt like we needed a whole new thing. All the way. Bottom to top."

Said Roseanne last night when Jimmy Fallon asked her about supporting Trump. Video:

ADDED: Since we're talking about female comics on TV yesterday, here was Kathy Griffin on "The View" (saying, among other things, that she's sorry she said she was sorry for posing with a fake severed Trump head):

Baseball history.

Goodbye to Abby.

4 years ago:


5 years ago:


Goodbye to our beautiful dog friend.


MORE: Pictures and video at the "Abby" tag at Meade's Pupparazzo blog.

"A media kit for the restaurant said, 'Yellow Fever … yeah, we really said that.'"

"The kit said the name was attention-getting but that 'we choose to embrace the term and reinterpret it positively for ourselves.' In a statement on Saturday, Ms. Kim added, 'Yellow Fever celebrates all things Asian: the food, the culture and the people, and our menu reflects that featuring cuisine from Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Hawaii.' Dr. Padoongpatt said the Kims’ statements hint at a more troubling issue: It is not that they do not know how loaded the phrase is — it is that they know and do not care. 'We want to be able to say, Just educate yourself,' he said. 'But not caring is much more aggressive. It’s much more explicit, and basically mocking.'"

From "Yellow Fever Restaurant at California Whole Foods Sets Off a Debate" (NYT).

Naming a restaurant after a horrible disease and inviting charges of racism — it's just so extreme maybe you have to laugh.

But this is — I thought — the Era of That's Not Funny.

ADDED: I've never forgotten this description:
A viral disease, it was called yellow fever because the skin of victims often turned sallow. The real symptoms, however, were high fever and black vomit. Yellow fever came into America aboard slave ships from Africa. The first case was in Barbados in 1647. It was a horrible disease. A doctor who got it said it felt “as if three or four hooks were fastened onto the globe of each eye and some person, standing behind me, was dragging them forcibly from their orbits back into the head.”
From Bill Bryson, "At Home: A Short History of Private Life."

How can you ask "Where's the outrage?" without harking back to Bob Dole.

I'm seeing an opinion piece in The Washington Post with the headline "Trump was outrageous in Michigan. So where’s the outrage?" and it doesn't mention Bob Dole, who used to be famous for asking "Where's the outrage?" Answer Bob Dole first, and then it might make sense to ask the question about Trump.

On October 25, 1996:
So they gathered up their FBI files, they took them down to the White House, and there they've been. They say, "Oh, nobody looks at these. We just brought them over to see what the boxes look like," you know, whatever. And what happens? Where's the outrage in the media? Where's the outrage? There's no outrage. There's no outrage.
And October 26, 1996:
.... A lot of you people in the audience may not know about there are FBI files. That doesn't mean you've done anything wrong. You have an FBI file. What about the 900 people, innocent people, just because they're Republicans, had their files taken away [audio gap]. They tricked the FBI. They tricked the Secret Service. They took them to the White House, and then they said, oh, nobody ever looked at them. We just brought them down here, I guess, to look at the boxes. Well, I know that Mrs. Yeutter's file was in that group. Here's one right here. Nice innocent person. Her only crime was being a Republican. Now, that will not happen in a Dole White House. That is an outrage. That is an outrage.... How long do you think the American people are going to take it? Wake up, America. Wake up, America! Wake up, America!...  What would happen if any Republican president would have done two of these things? Why, there'd be outrage all across America. There would be outrage....
But we have a Republican President now, so where's the outrage? There's plenty of it in the media, but media people want more, because we have a Republican President now. But the people are sleeping through it. Wake up, America! Wake up, America! Why won't America wake up, WaPo wonders. America is sleeping because it has outrage fatigue. I'm too tired myself to do anything more at this point than show you my Google search results:
ADDED: Here's Howard Fineman in Newsweek on November 3, 1996:
Last week [Dole] was King Lear in a Brooks Brothers suit. Old grudges surfaced, and new ones. His predicament was the liberal media's fault. "The country belongs to the people, not The New York Times,'' he thundered in Dallas. Democrats were "rushing'' immigrants with criminal backgrounds onto the voter rolls. "They want to get them ready for Election Day,'' Dole said. Society was at fault for ignoring the ever-lengthening list of ethical and legal questions surrounding Clinton. "Where's the outrage in America?'' Dole demanded in Houston. "Where's the outrage?''

NYT column by Adam Liptak is freaking me out.

I feel like this headline is nudging me personally:

#GorsuchStyle Garners a Gusher of Groans. But Is His Writing Really That Bad?

Must I react? Or is it wiser to move quietly forward? Is Garner's writing really that bad? I don't know, does he use that word? Garner.

ADDED: "Is Garner's writing really that bad?" Oops. "Garner" makes me a lunatic. I mean: Is Gorsuch's writing really that bad?

I was also thinking about the Obama nominee who was thwarted to hold the seat for Gorsuch and thinking: Was his name Merrick Garner?

"I don’t know who those people are that she can’t say that to them... I gotta respect the artistry. I gotta respect the gangsta."

Dave Chappelle on Michelle Wolf:
I really respected what I saw. I don’t know who those people are that she—she can’t say that to them, ’cause they offend people all the time. And I think that for many people, not everybody who watched it, but for many people, it’s cathartic to watch that woman speak truth to power like that. And whether they understand it or not, there was an enormous amount of levity in what she did. But it was very flat-footed and it was grounded in her truth, and whether I agree with it or not, I gotta respect the artistry. I gotta respect the gangsta. I know how hard it is to do what she did in front of that lame-ass crowd. And she—I think she nailed it. I thought it was beautiful. And I—I didn’t see her pander once and I thought that was beautiful.

"If ever there were a convincing case to be made for the dangers of philosophy, then surely it’s Marx’s discovery of Hegel, whose 'grotesque craggy melody' repelled him at first..."

"... but which soon had him dancing deliriously through the streets of Berlin. As Marx confessed to his father in an equally delirious letter in November 1837, 'I wanted to embrace every person standing on the street-corner.'"

From a NYT opinion piece titled "Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!" by Jason Barker, "an associate professor of philosophy at Kyung Hee University in South Korea and author of the novel 'Marx Returns.'"

Here's the Amazon link for "Marx Returns." From the description: "Marx Returns combines historical fiction, psychological mystery, philosophy, differential calculus and extracts from Marx and Engels's collected works to reimagine the life and times of one of history's most exceptional minds...."

Calculus, eh? From the book:
Do the math! How do you get from horseshit to warm bath through calculus and dragon energy?

"The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, recently provided President Trump’s lawyers a list of questions he wants answered in an interview."

"The New York Times obtained the list; here are the questions, along with the context and significance of each. The questions fall into categories based on four broad subjects..."

3 of the 4 categories center on 4 individuals: Michael Flynn, James Comey, and Jeff Sessions. The 4th category is "Campaign Coordination With Russia."

ADDED: I cannot imagine trying to answer questions about what was going on in my mind at all these precise points in the past. Do you have access to the contents of your mind like that? Even when an interaction is happening, I don't have a clear, precise view of my own motivations and intentions. Thinking about it immediately afterwords, I might puzzle about it, even when I'm under no pressure and it's only one incident. But I would never be able — even if I believed I deserved no criminal punishment — to sit down to a high-stakes questioning about many interactions that occurred over the course of many months and purport to tell the truth about what I was thinking on all those occasions. There would be no way not to lie. Continually.


April 30, 2018

At the Too Many Signs Cafe...


... you can talk all night.

"Lisa Loopner got me this week: She was the only person to embrace the ancient charms of Disney, dress for that occasion like a 4-year-old in love with the Walt vault on Halloween..."

"...  and bring us back in time like an old theme-park ride. She wasn’t above the occasion. She dove into it with that fierce, strange color-guard-captain commitment. Points for picking (1) a song that doesn’t immediately scream Idol-worthiness, and (2) a style of song that tells us something new about Catie herself. Face it, she’s a cunning competitor and a real talent. I’m wary of people who like hugs too much but she’s working this karaoke derby right."

That's Louis Virtel at Vulture, rating the 10 performers on last night's "American Idol" and putting Catie Turner in second place with her lovely "Once Upon a Dream":

"Idol" did something completely new last night: It required viewers to vote during the show and announced the outcome at the end of that very show. It ran live, at the same time in all time zones, which meant it started at 6 p.m. in the Mountain Time Zone and at 5 p.m. in the Pacific Zone. Who knows how that affected the outcome, but the drag queen contestant, Ada Vox, was one of the 3 contestants eliminated. It was drastic to cut 3 all at once. The top 10 is normally dragged out, with only one cut per week, and a very nice send off for each, with a review of that person's "journey" through the contest and one last song. Last night, we learned that 3 were leaving as the time for the show was running out. Suddenly, 3 whom we'd been made to care about were sort of stunned and wandering aimlessly on stage, and that was it. Brutal!

That said, Vox deserved to be in the bottom 3. Virtel ranked her 9th, and she chose to sing "Circle of Life." Not a great choice, and it sounded pretty unpleasant.

The New Yorker introduces a crossword puzzle.

David Remnick describes it like this:
Five constructors will take turns crafting the puzzles; they are crossword experts whose answers and clues exhibit the same qualities we aim for in all of our writing: wit, intelligence, a wide-ranging interest in the world, and a love of language....

The great Richard Wilbur, who died last fall, once published a poem in The New Yorker about doing a crossword—“a ghostly grille / Through which, as often, we begin to see / The confluence of the Oka and the Aare”—on a train. “It is a rite / Of finitude,” he wrote, “a picture in whose frame / Roc, oast, and Inca decompose at once / Into the ABCs of every day.” Even if you find that you have to look up a few words (oast: “a usually conical kiln used for drying hops, malt, or tobacco”), we hope that the ritual provides you with some pleasurable procrastination.
Oh! He's giving us the go-ahead to look up words. Well, I did the puzzle, and I didn't look anything up to complete it, though I'd have to look up 42 down to know what it referred to. I'm not doing any spoilers here, but having looked it up, I see why I couldn't read what I had.

It's only a weekly puzzle, so there won't be the kind of predictable changing levels of difficulty that you see in a week of NYT puzzles. But it took me about as long as my average for a NYT Friday puzzle, so I'm going to say it's at what we NYT puzzle-solvers call the Friday level. Friday is my favorite level of NYT difficulty, so I'm happy with the New Yorker puzzle so far.

It was nicely literary in a few places: "'Champion Literary Phallocrat,' per Foster Wallace" (which took me a few crosses to see was not Mailer, though DFW names Mailer as one of the "famous phallocrats of his generation" in the "Champion Literary Phallocrat" essay). And "1928 Virginia Wolf 'biography'" (which I got right on first guess, though I doubted myself for a while).

I liked seeing Camille Paglia ("Group that embodied 'a new kind of feminism,' per Camille Paglia”). And Germaine Greer is in there too ("'A ludicrous invention,' per Germaine Greer").

Anyway, nice start for the New Yorker crossword!

"As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden."


"Yes. In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer..."


"... but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again."


"Yes! There will be growth in the spring!"


Trump is "just asking."

"Numerous countries are being considered for the MEETING, but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country? Just asking!"

Tweeted here. Just after this:
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is DEAD as we know it. This was a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great Country and all that it stands for. FAKE NEWS is alive and well and beautifully represented on Saturday night!
I like how he's in "just asking" mode about a decision he's involved in making, and in stark pronouncement mode about something he has no control over. He's not just asking, he's blatantly asserting "The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is DEAD"... which, of course, isn't true, so his critics have a perfectly easy riposte: He's complaining about "FAKE NEWS" even as he emits fake news. 

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner might be dying. To use a Trump phrase: We'll see what happens. It could be revived, with last Saturday's low point showing the way to a new, better politicians-and-journalists-gala-love/hate fest.

But he did add the phrase "as we know it" — "DEAD as we know it." Those are some first-class weasel words. I'm surprised to see him indulging in that sort of candy-ass verbosity. Dead is dead. Don't dabble in zombieism.

Kanye West was "talking about cleansing."

Kim Kardashian explains what she thinks her husband meant to be saying:
"I mean, I hear him say all these things in the house just about — I think what he was saying about, really to everything, he was talking about clarity, and he always talks about how we should not have our phones first thing in the morning and in the house when we’re with the kids, let’s not have our phones. It’s our rule that we really try to live by. So I think he was talking about cleansing."

The moving of the tree.

I don't know where the tree Trump and Macron ritualistically planted has gone, but one thing that's known here at Meadhouse is that there's a spring ritual of moving the avocado tree out onto the deck.


This tree — which looked like this in 2015 — was grown by Meade from avocado pits and now is cramped by the 9-foot ceiling in the room. And even though I think there's no use encouraging it to get any taller and the task of getting it through the 6-and-a-half-foot door requires some difficult horizontalization...


... and I kind of think it belongs indoors because it really ties the room together, Meade powered the beast over the threshold...


... and got those wheels over the deck cracks to where it would pull the indoor eye outdoors. And Meade even posed the dog...


... while all I did was take these photographs and celebrate the ritual on the internet.

Postscript: The mystery of the disappearing Macron tree has been solved: It has been moved temporarily into quarantine. The roots were always enclosed in plastic, and the quarantine was mandatory and planned all along.

"You are one of the white people sweetie"/"No. I am Not."

That "No. I am Not" comes from the recording artist Halsey (née Ashley Nicolette Frangipane), who came up for widespread criticism/mockery last week when she tweeted, "I’ve been traveling for years now and it’s been so frustrating that the hotel toiletry industry entirely alienates people of color. I can’t use this perfumed watered down white people shampoo. Neither can 50% of ur customers. Annoying."

Looking at pictures of Halsey, you might assume she's white. (The previous post is about a performer who is white, but is mistakenly seen as black.) But Halsey has a black father and a white mother and identifies herself as black, WaPo reports.
“I’m white-passing. I’ve accepted that about myself and have never tried to control anything about black culture that’s not mine,” Halsey said in August 2017 to Playboy. “I look like a white girl, but I don’t feel like one. I’m a black woman.”
Now, some people think the shampoo question is trivial, whether it's raised by a black person or a white person, but the complaint seems different if you think someone is raising it on behalf of other people who are not talking about it themselves.... doesn't it?

Why do we expect people to raise their own complaints? It reminds me of the standing doctrine in law, which restricts courts from hearing lawsuits brought by people who are not personally injured by the problem they want the court to solve. Some of the idea there is that if the people who are directly affected are not complaining, maybe it's not a real problem, and some of the idea is that the people who are directly affected might talk about the problem in a different and more useful way.

But filing a lawsuit is different from starting a conversation. Plaintiffs control a lot of what happens in a lawsuit that might affect a lot of people who are left on the outside. But someone who, like Halsey, introduces a new topic for public debate has no equivalent control. We can all talk about it, bat it around, and develop arguments, including arguments about whether it's even a topic worth talking about. Some of these arguments will be about whether the person who started the conversation is worthy, and those arguments might make somebody like me want to criticize arguments that are not about the topic but about the person who raised the topic: Should white people refrain from complaining about things that hurt black people? And how much do we want to get involved in figuring out the race of a person who's raising an issue?

As to whether the hotel shampoo problem is trivial, here are some more Halsey tweets:
The point is that mass production of those products as the standard is part of a greater problem of disenfranchisement. If white ppl can enjoy the luxury/convenience, there should be an option for everyone to. Its an “insignificant” example of a bigger problem. That’s all!...

When u make white products the standard, it makes white the “normal”. I was only trying to provoke some thought about the way these things impact our perception. That’s all....

It’s not just hotels. I stayed in a psychiatric hospital as a teenager and they didn’t have hair products for any patients who were POC. It’s hard enough being in there as it is, but then ur gonna too feel ugly and dry n frizzy too? Nah. Anyways. Y’all still missing the point lol....

It’s about being made to feel unincluded. Which is, obviously, a far greater problem than shampoo. I never wanna talk about soap ever again lol. 
ADDED: Is ever having listened to a Halsey song a necessarily element to having an opinion about her shampoo talk?