May 26, 2018

"Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution" and "Elia Kazan: A Biography."

Books Harvey Weinstein carried to his arraignment, reported in The Daily Beast.
Could he have imagined that he would be allowed to carry the books through his booking? Did the mogul picture himself sitting around reading during the brief time before he was released on prearranged bail? Was he at all surprised that he only got as far as the front desk with them?

“Get rid of them now,” a lieutenant commanded.... “I’m guessing those books were placed by some consultant,” the lieutenant said. “Why wouldn’t you leave in the car what you wouldn’t be allowed to take? I’m sure it was some stylist.”
If you were "styling" the movie mogul for his rape arraignment, what 2 books would you put in his hands? "Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution" and "Elia Kazan: A Biography"???

I'd assume he was anticipating downtime and didn't want to be bored. 2 books (actually, there was a third, unnamed, book) is way more reading than makes any sense. So maybe he was trying to send a message. If so, the message is: I love show business.

"A street fight between three men and a single fighter... ended when two men were knocked unconscious and the lone fighter fled before police arrived."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports on something that happened here in Madison (on State Street).

The scrappy lone fighter is described as 5'8" or 5'9" and 145 pounds.

When the café opens at 6:30 a.m....


... and you had to wait 5 hours to be the first person in the door.

"South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a surprise meeting at the demilitarized zone Saturday aimed at keeping inter-Korean relations, and a possible summit between Mr. Kim and President Donald Trump, on track."

"South Korea’s presidential office announced the two-hour meeting after it had wrapped up, saying the two leaders met on the north side of the demilitarized zone and discussed how to successfully stage a summit between Messrs. Trump and Kim" (WSJ).

"While his wife, the actress Cheryl Hines, waited in the car, Robert Kennedy Jr. met with Sirhan for three hours..."

"... he revealed to The Washington Post last week. It was the culmination of months of research by Kennedy into the assassination, including speaking with witnesses and reading the autopsy and police reports. 'I got to a place where I had to see Sirhan,' Kennedy said. He would not discuss the specifics of their conversation. But when it was over, Kennedy had joined those who believe there was a second gunman, and that it was not Sirhan who killed his father. 'I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence,' said Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and the third oldest of his father’s 11 children. 'I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.'"

I guess it's news that the son of RFK feels like that, but other than that, it's The Washington Post flogging conspiracy theory titillation.

"In Portland, Ore., organizers of the 'Reparations Happy Hour' invited black, brown and indigenous people to a bar and handed them $10 bills as they arrived..."

"... a small but symbolic gift mostly funded by white people who were asked not to attend.... 'It was only $10, but when I saw them I saw their eyes light up,' he said. 'What I saw there was that people felt like they were finally seen.'"

The NYT reports.

So let's see... white people get off making black people "light up" by handing them money — a 10 dollar bill.


ADDED: What if men at a bar funded the practice of offering a $10 bill to women who would come in? I guess some women would step up to take the bill, but I assume a lot of women, like me, would scoff and think you are so pathetic and quit insulting me.

ALSO: This reminds me of those affirmative action bake sales where opponents of affirmative action offer cookies for sale for, say, $1 if you're black and $5 if you are white. Except liberals rankle at that.

"He is prone to unhinged Twitter eruptions. He can’t handle criticism. He scolds the news media for its purported dishonesty..."

"... and threatens to create a Soviet-like apparatus to keep tabs on it. He suckers people to fork over cash in exchange for promises he hasn’t kept. He’s a billionaire whose business flirts with bankruptcy. He’s sold himself as an establishment-crushing iconoclast when he’s really little more than an unusually accomplished B.S. artist. His legions of devotees are fanatics and, let’s face it, a bit stupid. I speak of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, the Donald Trump of Silicon Valley."

Writes Bret Stephens at the NYT.

"Ireland is set to liberalize some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws after exit polls suggested a landslide vote for change..."

Reuters reports.
Voters were asked if they wish to scrap the eighth amendment to the constitution, which gives an unborn child and its mother equal rights to life. The consequent prohibition on abortion was partly lifted in 2013 for cases where the mother’s life was in danger....

“Yes” campaigners argued that with over 3,000 women traveling to Britain each year for terminations - a right enshrined in a 1992 referendum - and others ordering pills illegally online, abortion is already a reality in Ireland.

The federal government did not lose 1,475 migrant children.

Speaking of headlines... did you notice "The feds lost — yes, lost — 1,475 migrant children" (in USA Today)?

Here's Rich Lowry (National Review) asking "Did the Feds Lose 1,475 Migrant Children?"
[T]hese children weren’t in HHS custody. They were placed with sponsors that HHS vetted. It’d obviously be better if HHS could locate all of the sponsors in its follow-up. Some of them surely moved, and perhaps others, if they or family members are illegal immigrants, may not want to be in further contact with authorities.

Hillary Clinton does not want to be CEO of Facebook.

I know I'm partly to blame for linking to a headline that's in this form because it's clickbait, but I've got to complain about "Hillary Clinton Wants to Be CEO of Facebook." It's getting attention, perhaps as a set-up for jokes about her wretched like-with-a-cloth relationship with technology.

But Hillary was doing a "lightning round" interview in which the question was sprung on her, "If you could be a CEO of any company right now, what would you choose?"

She had to say something fast, and she blurted out what is the name of the most conspicuous company, Facebook. That doesn't mean she wants to run the company. It just means she thought of an answer to the question and she had some ideas about how to use the question to get to some things she had ideas about, which is what she did.
The former secretary of state explained that Facebook “is the biggest news platform in the world.” “Most people in our country get their news, true or not, from Facebook,” she said. “It really is critical to our democracy that people get accurate information on which to make decisions.”
Some people think it was outrageous for Donald Trump to apply for the job of President when he had no experience in political office, and maybe it was, because the application worked and now we've got him running the country, whether he knows what he's doing or not. But here comes Hillary purporting to offer to run a company when she has no experience or expertise in the area. She openly states that she wants it because it's where the power is.

Except she doesn't really want it, not the actual responsibility of running Facebook.

And how ridiculous to think that Facebook could solve its problems of how to function in a democracy by installing as its leader a person completely identified with one political party!

"Given the torrent of revelations of abuse against women in the #MeToo era, the [term 'wife-beater,' for the sleeveless undershirt] suddenly seemed grossly inappropriate."

That line was a forehead-slapper for me. It's by Moises Velasquez-Manoff in "Are We Really Still Calling This Shirt a ‘Wife Beater’?" (NYT).

The word that got me was "suddenly." Is Velasquez-Manoff telling us that he just noticed the transgressive violent edge to "wife-beater"? It's right out there. If you think it's okay that you didn't mind until #MeToo woke you up, then why should we condemn the men who are at the receiving end of #MeToo accusations? Without #MeToo to enlighten them, they didn't realize how bad their behavior was. Why not indulgently advise Harvey Weinstein, et al., to go and sin no more?

I've never not noticed that "wife-beater" is a terrible joke of a name for a shirt. And that's what it is, a joke:
“People aren’t calling it a wife beater because they believe that beating your wife is O.K.,” Adam Klein, an assistant professor of communication studies at Pace University, told me. But the willingness to casually evoke violence against women implies a strange double standard. “We accept misogyny as cool,” he said, even as we know that racism is unacceptable.
The question is whether you think it's a good joke. You know what it is. You hear the words, but did you/do you think it's cool? And "'We accept misogyny as cool,' he said, even as we know that racism is unacceptable" is a nonsequitur: Those who know racism is unacceptable may still use "hipster racism" — expressions that are racist but are thought not to  convey actual racism because they come from someone who is understood not to be racist. It is accepted as cool (by some!). And it's the same way with misogyny. Even among those who know it's unacceptable, it can feel cool. It's a joke. It's hipster sexism.

I think it's a bad joke, though I can picture myself in a situation, with an intimate friend, where I might let loose and say, "I see you're wearing your wife-beater." But as a casual, general term, it sounds like you don't care about domestic violence or you think you have hipster privilege... and that's not a good look.

May 25, 2018

Trump's antagonists are enjoying themselves over the break in the momentum toward a North Korean deal.

But the process isn't over, and I assume it's a dealmaking dance in which breaks like this a part of the process. Isn't that what Trump wrote in "The Art of the Deal" and has talked about innumerable times? Trump haters shouldn't exult over his failure until they see how this ends. And maybe even then, they shouldn't exult. Don't we all want a better, safer world? Or is seeing Trump fail better?

"The increasingly irascible Tesla chief executive went on a 24-hour, anti-media tirade from Wednesday to Thursday..."

"... culminating in an online poll that saw nearly 700,000 people showing their support for his plans to create a website to vet journalists’ credibility," the NY Post reports.
[Elon] Musk said that he is thinking of a site where “the public can rate the core truth” of news stories, as well as track “the credibility score” of journalists and publications. The website would be called “Pravda,” the Russian word for “truth” and also the name of the official newspaper of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party.....

“Come on media, you can do it!” Musk taunted. “Get more people to vote for you. You are literally the media.”
Come on, media, drive traffic to my new website. You can do it!

"Once the blaze was doused, firefighter Thomas Hunt’s eyes zeroed in on the ashes: clothing, jewelry, and a human nose and fingers appeared to be in the smoking pile."

"'Why are you burning a body?' the disturbed firefighter asked the homeowner, Ouissem Medouni, Hunt would later testify. 'It’s a sheep,' Medouni, a French Algerian financial analyst, replied. 'Bollocks,' the firefighter answered. Later, Hunt would tell a court Medouni then insisted the remains were from an animal, but that a look of 'resignation' crossed his face, as if 'the game’s up.'"

From "A London couple’s shared delusions led to the torture and death of French au pair" (WaPo).
[T]he judge in the case noted the crime was a remarkably rare instance of “folie a deux” — or dual psychosis. [Sabrina] Kouider, diagnosed with depression and borderline personality disorder, had affected [infected?] her lover with her own unhinged delusions. The testimony presented at the trial showed the couple submitted the young au pair to starvation and brutal torture until she admitted her part in the fantasy that had twisted both Medouni’s and Kouider’s minds — a convoluted paranoia about Kouider’s ex-boyfriend, a famous Irish pop star.... Mark Walton... of the 1990s boy group Boyzone....

Fifteen months before her death, Sophie Lionnet had come to work for Kouider and Medouni..... At the trial, prosecutors stated that during the last six weeks of Lionnet’s life, the couple had become convinced Walton had seduced Lionnet, and that in return the au pair was drugging Medouni so Walton could sneak into the home and sexually abuse Medouni.

The couple began starving Lionnet and subjecting the au pair to brutal interrogation sessions, beating and dunking her head underwater until she admitted she was in league with Walton, according to testimony. The couple recorded the sessions on their cellphones. Police recovered eight hours of interrogation footage.

“So where is [Mark Walton’s] house? Because you fancy him, he is charming. . . . I don’t think he abused you, you wanted it,” Kouider told the au pair in one of the final sessions, according to the Telegraph. “And whenever you come back to the house, I smell sex.”

"Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who posed as black, charged with welfare fraud."

WaPo reports.
The investigation into Dolezal began in March of last year when an investigator from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services learned she had written a book that had been published.... At this time, Dolezal had been reporting a monthly income of less than $500.... In total, between August 2015 and September 2017, Dolezal’s bank statements showed she had deposited nearly $84,000, documents said. Investigators believe the money came from her book, speaking engagements and selling art, soaps and handmade dolls....

"Behind the Scenes of Harvey Weinstein’s Arrest."

By Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker.
After a seven-month investigation, the producer Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to the New York Police Department's First Precinct on Friday morning to face sexual-assault charges. According to law-enforcement officials, the charges against Weinstein are based on the allegations of two women. One is Lucia Evans, a marketing consultant and former aspiring actress who told The New Yorker last October that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in his Manhattan office, in 2004. The day after the publication of that story, police detectives began trying to meet with Evans about filing a formal criminal complaint. One of the police sources called Evans “a highly credible witness with corroborating evidence.” In an interview on Thursday, Evans confirmed that she was pressing charges against Weinstein. “At a certain point, you have to think about the greater good of humanity, of womankind,” she told me....

The day after the New Yorker story was published online, two detectives drove to upstate New York to visit Evans’s parents at their home.... The officers had told her that they might not be able to bring charges without her coöperation. “They said that if I do nothing, Harvey would walk,” Evans said. “I think the significance hit all at once.” Evans said that she initially felt “proud to be a part of this movement, just knowing I could do this for everybody.”...

After months of what Evans described as sleepless nights, she decided to proceed with the complaint against Weinstein. “We gave her time,” a source involved in the investigation said. “We worked with her gradually to make sure she was comfortable. Even when she came in and told us the story in the D.A.’s office of what had happened, we still weren’t, like, ‘Boom, it’s going forward.’ ”

"Smoked 3 joints been bothered by non cops 6 times... Suck my d--k San Antonio... San Antonio sucks and so do their tacos."

Tweeted the comedian Ronald Funches, quoted in "Comedian unhappy with San Antonio shows leaves a crude message for the city" (LMT online).

I'm blogging this because: 1. I think the contrast between the insults and the headlines is funny, 2. I can't tell exactly how hostile/self-critical Funches really is and the complexity intrigues me, 3. The concept of "non cops," 4. The specificity of the numbers 3 and 6 and the issue whether details like that are essential to humor, 5. This is the second post of the day and the first post had brats and this one has tacos.

Robert Indiana's last sculpture — in the style of his iconic "LOVE" — "BRAT."

"Brat," meaning bratwurst, commissioned by Johnsonville Sausage, the Wisconsin manufacturer of brats.  There's a lawsuit accusing Indiana's associates of taking advantage of him in his old ages, the NYT reports, and the revelation of "BRAT" seems
[A] company that had long acted as Mr. Indiana’s business agent, Morgan Art Foundation, accused [Michael McKenzie, an associate of Mr. Indiana, who worked with the fabricators of "BRAT"] and the artist’s caretaker in Maine of isolating him from his old friends and business connections so they could market unauthorized or adulterated versions of his work....
McKenzie noted that Indiana had renamed himself after his home state and was into midwesternness, and brats are a big Wisconsin thing, but no one seems to be saying that Indiana had a special love of brats. I guess the question is whether Indiana chose to make money by trading on "LOVE."

It seems particularly prostitute-y when LOVE is for sale.

I feel sorry for Johnsonville Sausage, which bought something cool for itself and now finds a cloud hanging over it.

Pop art has always had playful reference to commercial art, so are commissions like "BRAT" really a sellout?

Here's a photo of one of Indiana's "LOVE" sculptures I took the last time I was in Indianapolis:


Indiana did many versions of "LOVE." Here's a list at Wikipedia. If he did all those, why wouldn't he do "BRAT"? How serious was he about "LOVE"? And, more importantly (from a Wisconsin perspective), how serious are brats?

May 24, 2018

At the Springtime Café...


... blossom.


Background: "Women accuse Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, harassment" (CNN).

"Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie mogul, is expected to surrender to the police in Manhattan on Friday on charges that he raped one woman..."

"... and forced another to perform oral sex on him, law enforcement officials said.... The Manhattan district attorney’s office faced an outcry over not charging Mr. Weinstein in the groping case, but the outcome this time was different."

The NYT reports.

"You would think people might be put off, but they weren’t. Not when Mr. Sedaris wrote 'Christ died for you' in one woman’s book..."

"... or when in another’s book he drew a picture of a three-legged bear with blood spewing from its stump because, he said, it had stepped on a land mine; or when he wrote 'you will not be alone forever' in the book of a fan who said she was single. Nor did anyone mind when he asked a (nonpregnant) woman if she might have an abortion this summer and then advised her to 'do it while you still can, because you may not be able to have one in the future'; or when he wrote 'you’re using that cane as a crutch' to a reader with a limp; or when he said, 'What happened to your mother — is she dead?' to a man named Richard, who wanted a book signed for his father. 'She is to him,' Richard said. Mr. Sedaris drew a little person and gravestone with 'R.I.P.' written on it. 'Here is your father looking at the ashes of his failed marriage,' he explained."

From "David Sedaris Leaves His Audiences Weeping. And Still Wanting More" (NYT), which has an audio snippet from Sedaris's new book, "Calypso" (which, of course, I will buy... he's my favorite voice for playing under my pillow every night... it's what keeps me sharp and well-rested).

"The NFL’s New Anthem Policy Is Madness... an obvious capitulation to red America, its president, and the league’s most conservative owners."

"The players have the power to stop it, if they dare," writes Robert Silverman at The Daily Beast.
If stars like (don’t laugh) Tom Brady locked arms, stood up to this cabal of billionaire bullies, and refused to let the NFL get away with this profit-guarding nonsense, it would end quickly. Maybe then the NFL would grudgingly come to accept that its plummeting TV ratings had far more to do with an overexposed, subpar product and cord-cutting than any (false) question of a political backlash, and more to the point, that the backlash is never going away, regardless of what they do.

The players have all the power here. The twofold question is: Do they know it, and will they use it?
I suspect that they know it but don't want to use it. What do you think?

James Taranto applies grammar-gotcha pain to Charles Blow.

It's particularly funny because Blow — in "The Elevation of Imprecision" — is trying to look down on Trump. Trump, we're told, uses "language that muddles to the point of meaninglessness, language that rejects exactitude, language that elevates imprecision as a device to avoid being discovered in his deceit."

ADDED: Much of Blow's critique of Trump's language is apt, but it's critique that would apply to most politicians. The drive to critique is extrinsic to the critique (Blow hates Trump). Trump does have his own special way of being imprecise and deceitful, so it does stand out, but that's a positive, I'd say, because: 1. It's creative, and 2. The imprecision and deceit is pretty much on the face of the text (e.g., "you look at what's happening"). It's clearly unclear. That's a plus!

"North Korea said on Thursday that it had destroyed its only known nuclear test site, three weeks before its leader, Kim Jong-un, is scheduled to meet with President Trump."

The NYT reports this morning.
The action came two days after Mr. Trump backed away from his demand that Mr. Kim completely abandon his nuclear arsenal without any reciprocal American concessions.
Does this mean that Kim did what Trump had publicly demanded after Trump made a public statement that he was not demanding it?

UPDATE: "President Trump has notified Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, that he has canceled their much-anticipated meeting, which was set for June 12" (NYT).

"What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of waifing it for his royal master and mistress?"

"What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish. What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?"

From Chapter 89 "Moby-Dick" — "Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish" — which I'm reading this morning because of one of the best comments I've ever read on this blog, written by Left Bank of the Charles, on a post about an article in Slate in which a man complains about the difficulty making money by picking up and recharging the electric scooters of Santa Monica.

(The earlier post gives you a longer passage from "Moby-Dick" and the connection to the electric scooter problem, but new comments would be better on this new post.)

May 23, 2018

At the 7 PM Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"It is unconstitutional for public officials, including the president, to block Twitter followers who criticize them, a court ruled today in a legal dispute over President Trump’s account."

The Verge reports.
[The court wrote that] Twitter’s “interactive space,” where users can interact with Trump’s tweets, qualifies as a public forum, and that blocking users unconstitutionally restricts their speech. The decision rejected arguments from the president’s team that President Trump’s own First Amendment rights would be violated if he could not block users....

The court, while not going so far as to enter an order against the president and social media director Dan Scavino specifically, ruled more generally that public officials violated users’ rights when blocking them on the platform. The decision says such action is “viewpoint discrimination,” and that “no government official — including the President — is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared.”...

Notably, the decision distinguished between Twitter’s block and mute functions, and the judge found the argument that the two functions were equivalent “unpersuasive.” ... 
ADDED: Here's Eugene Volokh's reaction:
[According to the court,t]he Tweets themselves aren't a forum, because they are the President's own speech; but the space for public replies is a forum. The court's concern is that replies are a valuable means for the repliers to speak to fellow members of the public. The court recognizes that there's no right to speak to the President in a way that the President is obliged to read; the President remains free, for instance, to use Twitter's "mute" function, which would keep him from seeing the user's replies when he reviews his own feed.
Volokh thinks that part is relatively easy, but this the question whether the President is acting as a private citizen or a government official:
[E]ven when the President is giving a public speech, he is understood at least in part as expressing his own views... [C]onsider a related issue under another First Amendment provision, the Establishment Clause—even Supreme Court justices who believe that the government may not endorse religion think that it's fine for government officials to express religious views in their speeches. 

"One summer day, Mia accused me of leaving the curtains closed in the TV room."

"They had been drawn the day before when Dylan and Satchel were watching a movie. She insisted that I had closed them and left them that way. Her friend Casey had come over to visit and while they were in the kitchen, my mother insisted I had shut the curtains. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore and I lost it, yelling, 'You’re lying!' She shot me a look and took me into the bathroom next to the TV room. She hit me uncontrollably all over my body. She slapped me, pushed me backwards and hit me on my chest, shouting, 'How dare you say I’m a liar in front of my friend. You’re the pathological liar.' I was defeated, deflated, beaten and beaten down. Mia had stripped me of my voice and my sense of self. It was clear that if I stepped even slightly outside her carefully crafted reality, she would not tolerate it. It was an upbringing that made me, paradoxically, both fiercely loyal and obedient to her, as well as deeply afraid...."

Moses Farrow tells his story in a blog post titled "A Son Speaks Out."

"Satchel" = Ronan Farrow.

The NFL bans kneeling during the National Anthem.

The option to simply stay off the field remains available.
"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We want people to stand -- that's all personnel -- and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices."

"In reversal, Giuliani now says Trump should do interview with Mueller team."

WaPo reports.
“I guess I’d rather do the interview. It gets it over with. It makes my client happy,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The safe course you hear every lawyer say is don’t do the interview, and that’s easy to say in the abstract. That’s much harder when you have a client who is the president of the United States and wants to be interviewed.”
Maybe Giuliani is just adding his weight to the useful assertion that Trump really wants to do the interview. To use a Trump phrase: We'll see what happens.

"I hope you understand that we're puppets"/"You said we had free will"/"No, I didn't."

"James Clapper did NOT say what Donald Trump keeps saying he said."

A hilarious headline that expresses the end-of-my-rope frustration of anti-Trumpers, from Chris Cillizza at CNN.

Clapper was on "The View" yesterday and it went like this:
BEHAR: "So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump's campaign?"

CLAPPER: "No, they were not. They were spying on, a term I don't particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do."

BEHAR: "Well, why doesn't [Trump] like that? He should be happy."

CLAPPER: "He should be."
Well, Trump seems happy that the word "spying" slipped out of Clapper as he was talking about what the FBI was doing. Clapper obviously knew he slipped, since he immediately tried to (subtly) erase it.

Trump displayed his happiness by tweeting: "'Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign' No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!" And, talking to reporters: "I mean if you look at Clapper ... he sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign yesterday inadvertently. I hope it's not true, but it looks like it is."

Here's how Cillizza tries to wriggle out of it:
Clapper makes crystal clear that the FBI was not spying on the Trump campaign. And he also makes clear that while he doesn't like the word "spying" -- because we are talking about the use of a confidential source -- that, to the extent there was any information gathering happening in conversations between the FBI's informant and members of the Trump campaign, it was entirely designed to shed light on Russian meddling efforts related to the 2016 election.
Clapper began by saying "no" to the question whether the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign, but then concedes that they were spying. He doesn't like the word, because it's politically hot (and maybe illegal/unethical), but he used it. Then the question is where were they spying. They were spying on the Trump campaign.

The qualification "on what the Russians were doing" refers to the Trump campaign, not to the Russians generally. I understand that the motivation may have been to see what was the interaction between the campaign and the Russians, but that is still spying on the campaign. Now, the motivation could also have been to figure out a way to defeat Trump. I don't know.

To my ear, the phrase "on what the Russians were doing" is there as a denial of the political motivation, to say that it was legitimate to spy on the Trump campaign because the reason was to deal with genuine concern about Russians doing things within the Trump campaign. My interpretation is supported by Behar's response, "Well, why doesn't [Trump] like that? He should be happy," which Clapper jumped to ride along with, "He should be."

Clapper said that the FBI didn't spy on the Trump campaign. He said that the only information gathering that happened with the confidential source was related to Russian interference. 
That just says that the spying on the Trump campaign was limited, not that there wasn't spying on the Trump campaign!
Any honest reading of the entirety of what Clapper said -- and you can read the whole quote in about 15 seconds! -- makes clear that a) Clapper doesn't believe the FBI was spying on Trump's campaign and b) the information gathering being done by the FBI's confidential source was aimed at Russia and designed to protect Trump and his associates, not to mention American democracy more broadly.
Any honest reading...  so, by Cillizza's lights, I'm not being honest.

How could reading what Clapper said make clear that Clapper does't believe something? Clapper could be lying or bullshitting. What's inside somebody's head is rarely clear even when the statements are clear. But looking only at the meaning of the text, Cillizza's interpretation doesn't sound right to me, and his assertion that his view is the only "honest reading" is an affront to our intelligence.

But let's put aside the technicality of what may be an inadvertent mistake in writing about what Clapper believes (as opposed to what he asserts). Cillizza's efforts at calling Trump wrong fail because Cillizza is only talking about the reasons why the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, not whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign.

ADDED: Since Clapper was on "The View," he should have said "Yeah, it was spying, but it wasn't spying spying."


At McSweeney's, incel jokes.

1. "JORDAN PETERSON’S NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC!" is a list of satirically reimagined songs, some of which show familiarity with what Peterson does tend to talk about — "Rock Lobster Domination Pose," "It’s Draining Men (The Low Testosterone Song)" — and some of which doesn't — "I’m Hot for Teacher (Who Should Be Forced to Have Sex With Me Forever)" — but I just want to highlight the incel material: "Incelebration."

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou....
Continued, at the link. Here's the T.S. Eliot poem for reference.

Tribe's "momentary lapse" not so momentary.

"The rep made it sound like there was just free money sitting on the sidewalk each night, just waiting for me to scoop up."

"Bird [the electric scooter sharing service] sent me three chargers, and a peppy rep gave me a quick briefing: Each night I was to switch on the newly enabled 'charger' mode in the Bird app and collect scooters flagged as available for charging. Although juicing up most Birds would give me $5, ones that had been AWOL for a while became progressively more valuable, up to $20.... But it turns out the charging system is akin to a real-life Pokémon Go, albeit one rife with cheating. The app purports to tell you where nearby chargeable scooters are, but in reality that’s rarely the case. Duplicitous collectors have created a thriving ecosystem of stockpiling, hiding, and decoying that makes it well-nigh impossible to find a scooter in need of charging...."

From "For the Birds/I spent two weeks trying to charge electric scooters for extra cash. What I got was a lot of headaches" (Slate).

IN THE COMMENTS: Left Bank of the Charles said:
This guy needs to read Moby Dick on the subject of loose fish and fast fish. He assumes the guys in the pickup trucks are ripping off the company, but maybe their strategy is to collect scooters as quickly as possible, and then take the time to log them when they get back to their charging stations. That may be working perfectly well for the company.
And here it is, Chapter 89 of Moby-Dick, "Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish." Excerpt:
I. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it.

II. A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it. But what plays the mischief with this masterly code is the admirable brevity of it, which necessitates a vast volume of commentaries to expound it.

First: What is a Fast-Fish? Alive or dead a fish is technically fast, when it is connected with an occupied ship or boat, by any medium at all controllable by the occupant or occupants,—a mast, an oar, a nine-inch cable, a telegraph wire, or a strand of cobweb, it is all the same. Likewise a fish is technically fast when it bears a waif, or any other recognised symbol of possession; so long as the party waifing it plainly evince their ability at any time to take it alongside, as well as their intention so to do....

Is it not a saying in every one's mouth, Possession is half of the law: that is, regardless of how the thing came into possession? But often possession is the whole of the law. What are the sinews and souls of Russian serfs and Republican slaves but Fast-Fish, whereof possession is the whole of the law? What to the rapacious landlord is the widow's last mite but a Fast-Fish? What is yonder undetected villain's marble mansion with a doorplate for a waif; what is that but a Fast-Fish? What is the ruinous discount which Mordecai, the broker, gets from the poor Woebegone, the bankrupt, on a loan to keep Woebegone's family from starvation; what is that ruinous discount but a Fast-Fish? What is the Archbishop of Savesoul's income of 100,000 pounds seized from the scant bread and cheese of hundreds of thousands of broken-backed laborers (all sure of heaven without any of Savesoul's help) what is that globular 100,000 but a Fast-Fish. What are the Duke of Dunder's hereditary towns and hamlets but Fast-Fish? What to that redoubted harpooneer, John Bull, is poor Ireland, but a Fast-Fish? What to that apostolic lancer, Brother Jonathan, is Texas but a Fast-Fish? And concerning all these, is not Possession the whole of the law? But if the doctrine of Fast-Fish be pretty generally applicable, the kindred doctrine of Loose-Fish is still more widely so. That is internationally and universally applicable.

What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of waifing it for his royal master and mistress? What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish.

What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?

Confronting Jordan Peterson with a statement he says he didn't make, Michelle Goldberg says "Google it!"

This video Googles it for you:

Via the Jordan Peterson SubReddit, which I'm reading this morning because it was linked in something I was reading at Slate, "Jordan Peterson Seems Like a Terrible Therapist/Therapists are supposed to empower their clients, not use them to support their own worldview."

I'll transcribe Goldberg: "Recognize how threatened some women feel when, for example, the kind of, you know, best-selling and most prominent intellectual in the world right now says in an interview, maybe if women don't want the workplace to be sexualized, they shouldn't be allowed to wear makeup."

Peterson says he didn't say that, and Goldberg's response is, "It was a Vice interview — Google it!" Okay, now I've Googled it and come up with the relevant clip:

Peterson says it's hard to know if men and women can be in the workplace together, and "We don't know what the rules are." Then he snaps out a little Socratic test: "Here's a rule: How about no makeup in the workplace?" The interviewer giggles and brushes away Peterson's suggestion that makeup is "provocative." Peterson presses him: "What's the purpose of makeup?" The interviewer professes to have no idea why women put on makeup (though I assume he's just thinking that women should be free to wear makeup if we want and it's not his place to inquire into why). Peterson sticks in his intense, crisp, challenging mode: Women wear lipstick because lips "turn red during sexual arousal." Peterson then makes it clear that he's "not saying that people shouldn't use sexual displays in the workplace." And then, on the prompting of the interviewer, he agrees that women who don't want sexual harassment in the workplace are" hypocritical" if they wear makeup.

So Goldberg did misspeak and left herself open to attack, but she would have been fine if she'd said: "if women don't want the workplace to be sexualized, they are hypocritical if they wear makeup."

How would that revised, accurate statement connect with the idea of "how threatened some women feel"? It might connected better! The disallowance of makeup in the workplace is annoying and repressive, but is it "threatening"? And yet, is it "threatening" to be called a hypocrite? Well, what's threatening is the idea that women bring sexual harassment on themselves by doing anything to make themselves sexually attractive. That really is repressive.

May 22, 2018

Philip Roth has died.

The New Yorker reports.

Obstructing injustice.

A Twitter dialogue between Max Boot and Scott Adams:

The White House is the one that’s doing the stonewalling. As I write today, Trump is imitating a tried and true authoritarian tactic—investigate the investigators—to escape accountability:
What was the alternative?
The alternative is pretty simple: don’t obstruct justice. Let the lawful investigation proceed unimpeded. Uphold the oath of office. Defend the Constituon [sic].
Obstructing justice would be bad. Obstructing INJUSTICE is why voters hired him. It's his job to know the difference, and he's showing his work. I appreciate his transparency on this. Presidents have freedom of speech too.
Ah! Now, I'm seeing that Adams is in the middle of a live Periscope. I'll just put this post up and watch this later when I can start at the beginning. I like this term "obstructing injustice," so let's see where Adams goes with it:

ADDED: I'm going to read Boot's WaPo column, linked in the first tweet, because I really don't understand that investigating the investigators is "a tried and true authoritarian tactic." It seems to me that in an authoritarian governmental system, the leader controls the investigators, so how can they be investigated by any governmental authority that is in a position to impose consequences? You've only got private citizens — notably, journalists — trying to do investigations. The ability to investigate the investigators seems to me to be an attribute of a free and open society.

So, Boot's column begins:
Remember that old adage that a frog will jump out of a boiling pot but won’t notice if the temperature is slowly raised until it’s boiled alive? 
Well, that's not an "adage," but I know the analogy you're talking about. Thanks for letting me know up front that attention to accurate language isn't important to you. It would make more sense to call it a "fable," which is the term used at the Wikipedia article, "Boiling frog." I love Wikipedia. I'm abandoning the project of reading Boot's blather so I can dive into a delightful hot bath of Wikipedia:
The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that arise gradually.

While some 19th-century experiments suggested that the underlying premise is true if the heating is sufficiently gradual, according to contemporary biologists the premise is false: a frog that is gradually heated will jump out. Indeed, thermoregulation by changing location is a fundamentally necessary survival strategy for frogs and other ectotherms.
As part of advancing science, several experiments observing the reaction of frogs to slowly heated water took place in the 19th century. In 1869, while doing experiments searching for the location of the soul, German physiologist Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that a frog that has had its brain removed will remain in slowly heated water, but an intact frog attempted to escape the water when it reached 25 °C.
I see good potential for metaphor, because it is kind of like America has had its brain removed. When did that happen? Pop culture, fake news, too much fixation on screens, drugs — sorry, I can't pursue that brain(ha ha)storm right now. But you see the idea. If we're the frog that doesn't jump out of the boiling water that means we've had our brain removed — the soul-search Friedrich Goltz ghoulishly figured that out for us. What would we do without German physiologists?

Anyway, there's more science detail at that Wikipedia article, and when I get back to Boot, I see he knows his "adage" about frogs is wrong:
It turns out that it just isn’t true. In fact, frogs will hop out when the temperature turns uncomfortable.
Then why start a column with that bullshit?
Which suggests that we may not be as smart as slimy green amphibians. 
Only if we don't jump out of slowly heating water.
President Trump is throwing one democratic norm after another into a big pot and rapidly raising the heat, and we’re too busy watching the royal wedding to notice. 
This metaphor is annoying me. Are the "democratic norms" supposed to be the frogs that won't jump out? They sound like ingredients being added to a soup, but what's bad about soup? Something that could be killed and that has the power to save itself needs to be in the pot. Are we in the pot, and are democratic norms being put in there with us? I think a metaphor should be abandoned if you can't get the moving parts right!

Boot proceeds to enumerate Trump's transgressions on "significant norms." The headings are: "Revealing intelligence sources," "Politically motivated prosecutions," "Mixing private and government business," "Foreign interference in U.S. elections," "Undermining the First Amendment."

Boot's point is that we're not getting upset enough. We should be jumping at these early transgressions, like the nonexistent frog.
Republicans approve of, or pretend not to notice, his flagrant misconduct, while Democrats are inured to it. The sheer number of outrages makes it hard to give each one the attention it deserves. But we must never – ever! – accept the unacceptable. Otherwise our democracy will be boiled alive.
But in real life, the frog does jump out when it gets too hot. The slow heating does not interfere with that capacity. Using the real-life analogy, we're not getting terribly upset yet because we don't think it's too hot yet, and we will be able to jump when we decide that it is. That last sentence forgets the science and screams at us to jump now because otherwise we'll be boiled alive. But that's alarmism. Frogs don't live like that, so why should we?

Boot wrote "we may not be as smart as slimy green amphibians," but maybe we are, and we don't fritter away our life's energy by abandoning one acceptably warm pool on the theory if it turns out to be a fatal boiling pot we will die.

By the way, here's another Wikipedia article about a reaction-to-heat metaphor, "Out of the frying pan into the fire."

"Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it: Summa … Laude."

WaPo headline.

Publix has a computer system where the customer types in the words they want on a cake, and some bad words — including "cum" — are simply automatically censored. So this is just a hilarious screw-up by a company with a convenient but unsophisticated automatic system for getting writing onto cakes.

But what happens next? I think we should all laugh, and Publix should give the family some free cake and tweak its computer program so that "cum" is okay when it's followed by "laude" (though I'm capable of thinking of ways to get to the sexual use of "cum" in a phrase that follows "cum" with "laude").

But no. This is America, and there must be outrage.
Jacob was “absolutely humiliated,” [his mother Cara] Koscinski said to The Post. “It was unbelievable. I ordered the special graduation edition cake. I can’t believe I’m the first one to ever write 'Summa Cum Laude' on a cake." Koscinski said she then had to explain why the grocery store censored “cum” from Jacob’s cake to her 70-year-old mother.

Jacob didn’t eat much of the cake after that but his mother says the chocolate and vanilla cake was delicious.

Koscinski called Publix on Monday and explained the situation to the assistant manager. She said she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else in the future. Publix offered to remake the cake. She declined.

“No,” she said, “you only graduate once.”
 If the boy is so "humiliated," why go to the media and connect his name forever to sensitivity to "cum"?

ADDED: I've got to front-page something I wrote in the comments:
Maybe the mother should have thought twice about putting "cum" on a cake....

Publix should say: You know, Ms. Koscinski, a cake really is better without cum on it. We really believe that here at Publix. What if some wag at your party thought to make a joke out of cutting a slice of cake so that just the word "cum" was on one piece? What if he'd served that to your 70-year-old mother and everyone was laughing and she didn't understand why and you had to explain that? Really, we protected you from some consequences you might not have considered.

The NYT reports on a Tibetan businessman who was sentenced, in China, to 5 years in prison for interviews that he gave to the NYT.

"Tibetan Activist Who Promoted His Native Language Is Sentenced to Prison":
The businessman, Tashi Wangchuk... was arrested in early 2016, two months after he was featured in a New York Times video and article about Tibetan language education. He stood trial in January this year, charged with “inciting separatism” for comments he had made to The Times....

The Chinese Communist Party for decades maintained policies intended to keep ethnic minorities, especially Tibetans and Uighurs, under political control while giving them some space to preserve their own languages and cultures. But under Xi Jinping, the staunch Communist Party leader who came to power in 2012, China has adopted more assimilationist policies, designed to absorb these minorities into the fold of one Chinese nation.

At his trial in January, Mr. Tashi, speaking in Chinese, rejected the idea that his efforts to rejuvenate the Tibetan language were a crime. He has said that he does not advocate independence for Tibet, but wants the rights for ethnic minorities that are promised by Chinese law, including the right to use their own language....
Here's the NYT video from 2016:

Tashi, in the video: “In politics, it’s said that if one nation wants to eliminate another nation, first they need to eliminate their spoken and written language.... In effect, there is a systematic slaughter of our culture.”

Starbucks in Japan

So inspiring! Beautiful!

Meanwhile, in the United States, Starbucks struggles to blend in. Via Reddit:
Starbucks on Monday emphasized in communications with The Wall Street Journal that employees have detailed instructions on what to do if someone is behaving in a disruptive manner. It said disruptive behaviors include smoking, drug or alcohol use, improper use of restrooms and sleeping.

The company's latest message shows the challenges companies face when they address socially sensitive policies in an era of social media when every corporate move can be immediately telegraphed. Some people tweeted and posted supportive comments about Starbucks's policy of inclusiveness, demonstrating the tightrope the company must walk in trying to cater to all customers....

Managers and baristas, Starbucks said, should first ask a fellow employee to verify that a certain behavior is disruptive and if it is, respectfully request that the customer stop. Starbucks says employees only should call 911 if a situation becomes unsafe.

Other examples of disruptive behavior include talking too loud, playing loud music and viewing inappropriate content. The company provided employees with examples of when they should call 911, which includes when a customer is using or selling drugs.
I can only gesture at the question whether differences between Japanese and American culture account for the differences in handling these 2 problems of one corporation interfacing with a culture. It is easier to blend in architecturally than socially and politically. Architecturally, you know what to look at: the surrounding buildings. You can observe concrete elements and attempt to copy them. But socially and politically, what do you do? You've been criticized in a sudden spate and you're suddenly sticking out because one incident hit media virally. Any solution brings new problems, leading to new incidents and, perhaps, the silent draining away of your old patrons.

May 21, 2018

At the Redbud Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"How a girl disposes her legs when seated can instantly signal your most effective approach."

"Of the prevalent leg positions displayed on these pages, pay particular attention to the Schemer and the Philanthropist...."

From "The Language of Legs" in the April 1969 issue of Playboy:

I'm just flipping through this issue of Playboy because it contains the interview with Allen Ginsberg that I'd read at the time and wanted so much to be able to reread again that I subscribed to Playboy. I chose 1-month of unlimited access to the archive, which cost $8.

Sample from the Ginsburg interview:

"God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are."

Pope Francis says it's fine to be gay.

Why I subscribed to Playboy.

For the interviews!

Specifically, I wanted to read the interview with Allen Ginsberg in the April 1969 issue, and that's something I'm doing right now. But I also loved the idea of getting access to all of the back issues, including all the issues that were available to me to read (or otherwise gaze upon) when I was growing up in Delaware and New Jersey in the 1950s and 60s.

I love the old ads too:

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upholds employer-employee arbitration agreements that provide for individual proceedings.

In an opinion by Justice Gorsuch, it says the text of the federal Arbitration Act is clear and the National Labor Relations Board wrongly found a way to avoid it. Justice Ginsburg writes for the dissenters (joined by Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan). As SCOTUSblog excerpts from the dissenting opinion:
"It is the result," she says, "of take-it-or-leave-it labor contracts harking back to the type called 'yellow dog,' and of the readiness of this Court to enforce those unbargained-for agreements. The [Federal Arbitration Act] demands no such suppression for the right of workers to take concerted action for their 'mutual aid or protection.'"

Concern of dissent is that individual claims tend to be small, so that it's not necessarily worth the expense to pursue individually, but now they can't pursue together either.

Justice Ginsburg is now reading from her dissenting opinion. This is a relatively rare and significant move.
This is a big win for management — Epic Systems, Inc. v. Lewis.

ADDED: I'll excerpt this from the majority opinion:
[The employees] don’t suggest that their arbitration agreements were extracted, say, by an act of fraud or duress or in some other unconscionable way that would render any contract unenforceable. Instead, they object to their agreements precisely because they require individualized arbitration proceedings instead of class or collective ones. And by attacking (only) the individualized nature of the arbitration proceedings, the employees’ argument seeks to interfere with one of arbitration’s fundamental attributes.

I guess Exley is — what? — her dog?

Here's the "pustule" thing she retweeted (with the comment "I knew he was rotten but I thought it was on the inside"):

Maddie Poppe sings Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide"...

... on the "American Idol" finale last night. The results are revealed tonight, in a show that will include, among other things, Maddie Poppe singing her audition song, "Rainbow Connection," with Kermit the Frog. I don't know what you like to watch on TV but Maddie Poppe singing "Rainbow Connection" with Kermit the Frog sounds like the best thing that's been on TV in years.

Here's the audition version of "Rainbow Connection" (one of my all-time favorite songs):

ADDED: "If not for american idol i may have never heard her artistry.she is so cute.when i hear her sing it makes me want to ride a merry go round at the county fair" — a comment on this video from last year, before the TV-show competition began:

"Political correctness: a force for good?"

A debate with Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg for the proposition and Stephen Fry and Jordan Peterson against.

"New York City is rife with scents that make it a diverse 'smellscape'..."

According to "New York Today: Smelling Your Way to Work" (NYT).
On one recent work-bound walk to the F train, I was puzzled to meet a half dozen separate smells along just one block. Garbage, which seemed peculiar on a decently clean sidewalk; skunk, which left me wondering how prevalent the animals are in the city; cookies, which nearly caused me to detour; and burned rubber, then grass, then dish soap.

The scents may come from miles away, according to Kate McLean, a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal College of Art in London, whose research has focused on mapping urban “smellscapes.”...

She noted... subway stations and pretzel stands... [and] a composite of fried garlic, wheat grass and tarmac.... “The smell from the sidewalk, and the reflective qualities of the tarmac, and garlic — it’s very, very New York. It’s healthy living alongside the traffic alongside the heat.”
McClean conducts "smellwalks" for tourists. And here's one of her "smellmaps."

"Socialism Is on a Winning Streak."

It's John Nichols, at The Nation.
From the 1910s through the 1940s, Socialist Party members served as state legislators, mayors, city councilors and school board members. The Pennsylvania party, with its deep roots in Reading, produced national Socialist leaders, including candidates for president and vice president....

But the dry spell is over. Socialists have been on an electoral winning streak in some parts of the country for a number of years—Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant made her electoral breakthrough in 2013, winning a major race for the Seattle City Council—but the results from western Pennsylvania in the past two years have been particularly striking. And, now, national observers are starting to take note. “Democratic Socialists scores big wins in Pennsylvania,” declared CNN this week, while The New Yorker announced: “A Democratic-Socialist Landslide in Pennsylvania.”

... “We’re turning the state the right shade of red tonight,” declared Arielle Cohen, the co-chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of DSA....

Official logo of the Democratic Socialists of America via Wikipedia.

ADDED: About that official logo. I presume the white and black outlines for the shaking hands are intended to represent white and black people coming together in socialism. Why then is white the color for the outlining of the rose? It seems to convey the dominance of white. You might try to defend the design by saying the socialists want to say that there is white supremacy and it needs to be recognized in order to be fought, but portraying white supremacy as a rose would suggest that it's good. And, in any event, the red rose (according to the above-linked Wikipedia article) is a traditional symbol of socialism. The logo infuses the symbol of socialism with whiteness, the whiteness that is the white hand that shakes the black hand. It seems to say that white people welcome black people into what is a white enclave.

"In no way would a fourth-hand report from a Maltese professor justify wholesale targeting of four or five members of the Trump campaign."

"It took Christopher Steele, with his funding concealed through false campaign filings, to be incredibly successful at creating a vast echo chamber around his unverified, fanciful dossier, bouncing it back and forth between the press and the FBI so it appeared that there were multiple sources all coming to the same conclusion. Time and time again, investigators came up empty. Even several sting operations with an FBI spy we just learned about failed to produce a Delorean-like video with cash on the table. But rather than close the probe, the deep state just expanded it. All they had were a few isolated contacts with Russians and absolutely nothing related to Trump himself, yet they pressed forward. Egged on by Steele, they simply believed Trump and his team must be dirty. They just needed to dig deep enough...."

From "Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all" by Mark Penn (The Hill).

"Right now we’re living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy. No, there are not tanks in the streets, but what’s happening right now goes to the heart of who we are as a nation..."

"... and I say this not as a Democrat who lost an election but as an American afraid of losing a country. There are certain things that are so essential they should transcend politics. Waging a war on the rule of law and a free press, de-legitimizing elections, perpetrating shameless corruption and rejecting the idea that our leaders should be public servants undermines our national unity. And attacking truth and reason, evidence and facts should alarm us all."

Who knows whether all or some or none among the graduating class at Yale were alarmed when Hillary Clinton intoned those words? But I do note that somebody was sitting right there in the front row wearing a witch's hat...

So if we're doing witch hunts, I found one. I mean, I know there's a hat thing going on at Yale. the linked article (in the New Haven Register) does talk about it:
It is Class Day tradition for the seniors to wear silly, imaginative headgear and Clinton held up a Russian fur cap, saying, “I brought a hat too — a Russian hat. Look, I mean, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”
Join the Russians.

Meanwhile, at the other hyper-elite school: "Hillary Clinton will receive Harvard’s prestigious Radcliffe Medal for her 'transformative impact on society.'"

May 20, 2018

At the Flower Tree Café...


... you can talk about anything.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!"

The newest Donald Trump tweet.

Also this morning — in order from oldest to newest:
Things are really getting ridiculous. The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!

....At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption... the Hillary Clinton Campaign where she deleted 33,000 Emails, got $145,000,000 while Secretary of State, paid McCabes wife $700,000 (and got off the FBI hook along with Terry M) and so much more. Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam.

Now that the Witch Hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the rest of the World, they should easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party. Don’t worry about Dems FISA Abuse, missing Emails or Fraudulent Dossier!

What ever happened to the Server, at the center of so much Corruption, that the Democratic National Committee REFUSED to hand over to the hard charging (except in the case of Democrats) FBI? They broke into homes & offices early in the morning, but were afraid to take the Server?

....and why hasn’t the Podesta brother been charged and arrested, like others, after being forced to close down his very large and successful firm? Is it because he is a VERY well connected Democrat working in the Swamp of Washington, D.C.?

The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia - so now they’re looking at the rest of the World. Oh’ great!

"Will it soon be possible... to simulate the feeling of a spirit not attached to any particular physical form using virtual or augmented reality?"

"If so, a good place to start would be to figure out the minimal amount of body we need to feel a sense of self, especially in digital environments where more and more people may find themselves for work or play. It might be as little as a pair of hands and feet...."

From "In Virtual Reality, How Much Body Do You Need?/It might be as little as a pair of hands and feet, researchers in Japan found after recording subjects who wore an Oculus Rift headset." (NYT).

"Afro-pessimism and its treatment of withdrawal as transcendence is no less pleasing to white supremacy than Booker T. Washington’s strategic retreat into self-help."

"Afro-pessimism threatens no one, and white audiences confuse having been chastised with learning... My father used to say that integration had little to do with sitting next to white people and everything to do with black people gaining access to better neighborhoods, decent schools, their share. Life for blacks was not what it should be, but he saw that as a reason to keep on, not check out. I had no idea how much better things were than they had been when he was my age, he said.... A couple of decades later I was resenting my father speaking of my expatriate life as a black literary tradition, because I understood him to be saying that I wasn’t doing anything new and, by the way, there was no such thing as getting away from being black, or what others might pretend that meant. Black life is about the group, and even if we tell ourselves that we don’t care anymore that America glorifies the individual in order to disguise what is really happening, this remains a fundamental paradox in the organization of everyday life for a black person. Your head is not a safe space."

From "The Afro-Pessimist Temptation" by Darryl Pinckney in the New York Review of Books, reviewing "We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy" by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

"I had never heard the name 'Kelvin' before. There isn’t anyone who names their kid Kelvin... So when I thought more about it, I realized that no one else has this name. It became unique. Now we think it is better than Kevin."

From "Mom Changes Son’s Name After Tattoo Artist Misspells It on Her Arm" (People).
“The spelling did not look wrong to me at firs... For me, the text is upside-down so it’s in the right direction when I’m standing. It says Kelvin instead of Kevin. I didn’t think it was true.”
In the right direction when I’m standing.... As opposed to the right direction when she's sitting? Whatever. This tattoo thing is going to end someday... someday soon... right? It's such a pitfall for the stupid.

There's a wonderful verse in Proverbs: "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." But I say: No. Not if he has a tattoo. Now, give the Old Testament credit: It forbids tattoos. No tattoo and no talking and maybe you can keep your foolishness a secret.

There's also the aphorism, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." If you think Abraham Lincoln (or was it Mark Twain) said that, here's the Quote Investigator inquiry into the subject.

The ban on tattoos is Leviticus 19:28: "'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."

That makes me want to show you this from Lenny Bruce's autobiography, "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People":
I have a tattoo on my arm, and because of this tattoo, I can never be buried in a Jewish cemetery. That’s the Orthodox law. You have to go out of the world the same way you came in—no marks, no changes.

Anyway, I told how, when I got back from Malta and went home to Long Island, I was in the kitchen, washing with soap, and my Aunt Mema saw the tattoo. So she flips. A real Jewish yell.

“Look what you did! You ruined your arm! You’re no better than a gypsy!”

So the producer [of the Steve Allen TV show] says that I can’t do this on the show because it would definitely be offensive to the Jewish people....

I said if they wouldn’t let me do that, I wouldn’t do the show... They had a meeting about it. They argued for about an hour while I was kept waiting in a corner, like a leper with a bell on my neck.

“We talked it over, Lenny. You know, it’s not only offensive to the Jewish people, but it’s definitely offensive to the Gentile people too.”

“Oh, yeah—how do you figure that?”

“Well, what you’re saying in essence is that the Gentiles don’t care what they bury.”
By the way, you know what would be a great name for a kid? Celsius. For a boy, of course. If it's a girl, we're calling her Fahrenheidi.

"Meghan Markle's wedding was a rousing celebration of blackness."

A column at The Guardian by Afua Hirsh.
The sermon, delivered by the Episcopalian church leader the Rev Michael Curry, began with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr before enlightening the congregation on the wisdom of spirituals – traditional African American music rooted in the experience of slavery – and casting Jesus as a revolutionary. If there had been any doubts about what cultural experience Curry would bring to the service, they were swiftly and decisively answered....

Markle used her wedding to introduce her new peers to blackness. The teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.... The Kingdom gospel choir sang soul classic Stand By Me....

Markle’s choice was clear, and people responded. The wedding has transformed Windsor itself – a town only 20 miles from London but which, in its lack of visible diversity, can feel culturally thousands of kilometres away – that is suddenly full of people of colour. The day before the wedding, I saw African American women dressed in white lace dresses, some wearing tiaras, others wearing Meghan Markle masks....

[B]y allowing her wedding to be not just a pageant of tradition, but also a celebration of blackness, she’s started as I hope she means to go on.
Were those only "African American women" wearing the "Meghan Markle masks"? I kind of doubt it! First, how do you even know that people walking around in Britain are American? Or is "African American" a clumsy synonym for black? Second, I think a lot of white people were wearing Meghan Markle masks, and I'm wondering why that isn't a blackface problem rather than an advancement? Third, did the Meghan Markle masks really express anything about racial feeling? There were Prince Harry masks too. I'm reading "These Creepy Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Masks Prove British People Have No Chill" (at Life & Style):
Fans of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are putting their faces on cardboard and wearing them around town in anticipation for the actress to walk down the aisle, and TBH, it's creepy....

"Just saw a woman walking alone through market square with a Meghan Markle mask on, u ok?" one resident tweeted before another chimed in, "People dressed up as the royal family, one in a wedding dress wearing a Meghan Markle mask parading through Hugglescote. Do people not have jobs?"

"What are the US Democrats' big ideas?"

A column at BBC news (by Anthony Zurcher) based on an "Ideas Confererence" put on the Center for American Progress. The conference seems to reflect an awareness that Democrats are politically vulnerable because they are defined by what they are against and not what they are for. But reading this column, I wonder if they downplay what they are for because it isn't politically popular.

For example, under the heading "Minimum wage and 'freeloader fees'":
Sherrod Brown... pushed what he calls a "corporate freeloader fee" - imposing a penalty on companies with more than $100,000 in payroll taxes that do not pay their workers high enough wages to keep them off public assistance programmes.

Mr Brown and other Democrats also mentioned raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.15 an hour level, which was set in 2009. Some states have passed much higher minimum-wage levels.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said the federal government should guarantee Americans a job if they want one, which he said was not a "radical idea".

"Why not invest on the front-end with secure jobs so that you're not seeing negative impacts that come with low-employment or unemployment like foreclosures and evictions?" he asked.
The other headings are "Expanding public schooling" ("Who said that public education should be a right for everybody between [the ages of] five and 18, but not for those either before five or after 18?"), "Ethics, reform and oversight," "Dismantling the oligarchy" ("a 'substantial' increase of the estate tax"), and "Guns, the environment and healthcare."

"The mountain lion dragged the man into the woods as the survivor escaped on his bike to find help about 30 miles east of Seattle."

The Daily News reports.
The survivor told police the cat attacked him first.

"The second victim turned and started to run away," King County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said. "The cougar saw that and went after the second victim."
So in this case, running triggered the animal to abandon the prey it already had in its clutches and to prefer the running man.

Here's a Scientific American article from 2009, "Should You Run or Freeze When You See a Mountain Lion?/New study disputes conventional wisdom to stay put or risk triggering lion's instinct to pursue."
Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis,* studied the behavior of 185 people who were attacked by mountain lions (aka pumas or cougars) between 1890 and 2000 in the U.S. and Canada.... [H]alf of the 18 people who ran when they were attacked escaped injury. The study also found, however, that those who ran had a slightly higher chance of being killed in an attack—28 percent (five) of those who fled died as a result of injuries, compared with 23 percent (eight) of those who remained motionless during big cat attacks. About 39 percent, or 28 people, who moved away slowly when approached by a mountain lion escaped without injury.

On the other hand, people who froze were the least likely to escape injury when a mountain lion attacked. Only 26 percent of them escaped. They also had the greatest frequency of severe injuries: 43 percent of those who stood still in the face of a lion were badly injured compared with 17 percent of those who fled, according to the study.

"Immobility may be interpreted by the mountain lion as a sign that you are vulnerable prey," Coss tells, adding that not moving could lead the predator to think you're not aware of its presence or are incapable of escaping. Staring down a puma can let the animal know you’re aware it’s looking, though distance can reduce its effectiveness.

* The phrase "Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis" needs to be rewritten so that it doesn't seem that the "predator–prey relationships" are on the the University of California, Davis campus. Perhaps: "Richard Coss, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis who focuses on the evolution of predator–prey relationships."

"Texas school shooter killed girl who turned down his advances and embarrassed him in class, her mother says."

The L.A. Times reports.
One of [Dmitri] Pagourtzis' classmates who died in the attack, Shana Fisher, "had 4 months of problems from this boy," her mother, Sadie Rodriguez, wrote in a private message to the Los Angeles Times on Facebook. "He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no."

Pagourtzis continued to get more aggressive, and she finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class, Rodriguez said. "A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn't like," she wrote. "Shana being the first one." Rodriguez didn't say how she knew her daughter was the first victim.