June 2, 2018

"Hate High-Intensity Exercise?... Just trying a H.I.I.T. workout for the first time may be a critical step in including high-intensity training as part of your everyday routine."

"The researchers began by gathering 30 men and women who were inactive in general and had not tried interval training before.... Capitalizing on the rest periods between intervals, the researchers repeatedly asked the men and women to assess how they felt during their exertions and also, afterward, to rank each workout according to which had been most and least enjoyable.... But afterward, with the exercise behind them, people’s opinions shifted and almost all of the volunteers decided that, in retrospect, they had found the workouts almost equally enjoyable and would in fact rank the standard, high-intensity interval training as the most pleasant...."

From a NYT "PhysEd" article.

The lesser partner in a hotel-based tryst needs the dominant one to pay the hotel bill.

"The U.S. is trying to find a discreet way to pay for Kim Jong Un’s hotel during the summit" (WaPo).
At an island resort off the coast of Singapore, U.S. event planners are working day and night with their North Korean counterparts to set up a summit designed to bring an end to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program....

The prideful but cash-poor pariah state requires that a foreign country foot the bill at its preferred lodging: the Fullerton, a magnificent neoclassical hotel near the mouth of the Singapore River, where just one presidential suite costs more than $6,000 per night.

"In a podcast interview posted last spring, Nicole Jorgenson, a singer and former schoolteacher in North Dakota, explains to her host that she has never been happier since marrying and having children."

"And yet between cute pastoral anecdotes of growing her own vegetables and making banana bread, it soon becomes clear that Ms. Jorgenson is advocating something sinister — not just a return to agrarian motherhood."

The first paragraph of "The Housewives of White Supremacy" (NYT).

Returning to gay stereotypes in a new spirit of fun.

That's a thing now, according to "Gaysploitation Upends the Stereotypes That Make Us Wince" (NYT), which shows us 5 stereotypes that (apparently) it's okay to have fun with (if you do it the right way*): The Nance, The Gal Pal, The Rebel, The Men in Wigs, The Neo-Revolutionary. Those are all stereotypes from the movies, and the new "gaysploitation" is (supposedly) a movie genre. The details of the stereotypes are lifted — openly — from the great documentary, "The Celluloid Closet."

________________________

* But watch out, especially if you're the wrong kind of person. We've seen "hipster racism" (how'd that work out?), and I'm inclined to call this "hipster homophobia." Make sure you're wearing your "hipster" shield! But you can't make sure, because it's not hip to fret about security. And never forget: this is The Era of That's Not Funny. And the Not-Funnyites know how to strip you of your livelihood in just about exactly one day. To be hip, you must be loose and casual about your ironic interface with the world. If you're not already poor and beyond any interest in building a career, step away from the fun new game of "gaysploitation."

I'm hoping ABC is taking my advice and redoing "Roseanne" centered on Sara Gilbert's character.

I'm seeing this at Deadline Hollywood:
I hear the show’s producers will be meeting with Disney-ABC executives on Monday to pitch a revamped Roseanne without the title star (and likely the original title too)....

Details about the concept that will be pitched are unclear but the show is expected to stay true to the praised first season of the revival — the series’ 11th overall — featuring the other cast members except Barr. There could be stronger emphasis on Sara Gilbert’s character Darlene, which can be expected since the revival was centered mainly on three characters, Roseanne (Barr), Dan (John Goodman) and their daughter Darlene (Gilbert) who moved back home with her kids.

As we previously reported, executive producers Tom Werner, who also executive produced the original series, and Gilbert, the main driving force behind the revival, are believed to be spearheading the efforts to continue the show and keep the writers, led by executive producer/showrunner Bruce Helford, and crew employed post-cancellation.
I said this when I first heard about the cancelation:
I feel sorry for Sara Gilbert:
Gilbert, who played Darlene on "Roseanne" and had been largely credited with spearheading the relaunch of the sitcom, tweeted that Barr's statements "do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show."

"I am disappointed in her actions to say the least," Gilbert continued. "This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love -- one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member."
I'll say what Gilbert is not saying: She just got her good work and her rising career shot to hell.

ADDED: "Darlene Is the Best Reason to Watch the New Rosanne."
And this the next morning:
I'm skeptical. Did ABC really cancel "Roseanne," or are we sucked into high-drama theater with more scenes to come? Is this like the Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un show, where it's on, then it's off, then it's on?...

Before the reboot, the series had ended with Roseanne's husband dead. So come back with Roseanne dead. Was she really the without-which-none of the show? She's a bad actor compared to the others. John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf are at the complete opposite end of the scale — great actors. Sara Gilbert ("Darlene") seems to have been the brains of the reboot. She could become the central character. Build the new season around John Goodman, Laurie Metcalfe, and Sara Gilbert, and leave the dead weight of Roseanne behind.
But in the comments, daskol waxed pessimistic:
Great actors are moons and need a planet. Great TV writers too, and even clever Sara Gilbert is merely a moon without a planet. Roseanne is a planet.

June 1, 2018

At The Wolf Café...

IMG_2117

... you can howl all night.

(And use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"The police are shooting to kill, the students’ blood is running in the streets, and Ortega and his wife will rot in hell."

From the updated text to the first post of the day, here.

Trump's summit with Kim Jong-Un is on again.

Axios reads between the lines:
Trump said talks with North Korea would be "a process” and he's been telling the North Koreans to "take your time," tempering expectations for the kind of breakthrough he had previously said was achievable. He described the meeting as "getting to know you, plus." Trump also signaled a change of tone, saying: “I don’t want to use the term maximum pressure any more.” That kind of rhetoric had angered the North Koreans, but was the standard way members of the Trump administration described their approach.

"In some parts of China, married couples seeking to split up have been asked to take a quiz issued by the local authorities."

"The more they knew about each other — including a spouse’s birthday or favorite food — the less likely they were to have the divorce immediately approved," the NYT reports.
The quizzes — 15 questions, scored on a scale of 100 points — were developed as a way to prevent “impulse divorces,” Liu Chunling, an official in Lianyungang.... Local news outlets reported that the authorities considered a score of 60 points or higher to mean “room for recovery,” and those couples were encouraged to work on their marriages.

“Through the guidance of the questions, couples can reminisce on the moments of their relationship and reflect on their familial roles and responsibilities,” Mr. Liu, who oversees Lianyungang’s civil marriage registry, told the newspaper.

"Recently, the actress Claire Danes admitted she suffered from a ‘phobia’ of female friendships... she became mistrustful of other girls after being bullied at school."

"That’s a feeling Hayley McLean can identify with. She was recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the bullying she endured as a child. For the 35-year-old mother of three, from Paignton, Devon, even the thought of being surrounded by other women is enough to bring on a panic attack. 'It started in primary school,’ recalls Hayley. ‘A girl took a sudden dislike to me. She’d call me names in front of the other kids — goofy, skinny, ugly — and she’d threaten and intimidate me....'"

From "Why do some women have NO female friends? Here three of them describe the isolation that began in childhood and how they yearn to overcome it."

Optimistic.

IMG_2111 2

"She is standing slightly behind him, considerably more sombre. In buttoned-up black, her long, dark locks tumbling in abundant waves, she is Botticelli’s Venus as channelled by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark..."

"... an icon of the Calabasas Renaissance. Her pose is stiff, her jacket sleeves pushed up in a gesture of can-do, eighties-style power-dressing."

A description of Kim Kardashian, in "Kim Kardashian Meeting Donald Trump in the Oval Office Is a Nightmare We Can’t Wake Up From" by Naomi Fry in The New Yorker.

I blogged that because when I read it I got a twinge of envy from the realization that if I'd wanted to write a description, I wouldn't have come up with those details.



I mean, there's the photo. We can all see it, but can we string together words like that? And yet, what is it about those 2 sentences that makes me think other people are the writers — the writer writers?

1. "buttoned-up... tumbling... channelled... pushed up" — we're entertained with swirling action, even though it's a static, formal, boring posed photograph. How did Fry see all that stuff? How did she arrange it so it's up, down, around, and back up again.

2. We've got cultural references: Botticelli’s Venus (I know what that is) somehow merged with ("channelled by") Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (which I would have thought I knew who she was but the reference to the Calabasas Renaissance is telling me I am an idiot to think that).

3. Those sleeves! So much happening there: "her jacket sleeves pushed up in a gesture of can-do, eighties-style power-dressing." I would have thought the can-do gesture was rolling up your sleeves, and that bunchy push-up look was something casual that people did in the 80s because of Don Johnson on "Miami Vice" and that the power dressing of the 80s was something else, something more northeastern and businesslike, not a Floridian police-work fantasy.

4. Those "long, dark locks tumbling in abundant waves." I would not have dared to use all those words. Like Coco Chanel with her "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off," I'd have looked at that sentence and felt obliged to strike one word out. One or three or four. And I couldn't bring myself to call hair "locks." Especially near "waves." I'd get influenced by the wateriness of "waves" and think of the locks in canals.

5. Why are we talking like this about a woman? She's a real human being. Is it okay to make her into some sort of clusterfuck of female iconography? I'd get stalled in some vague ethical cogitation and not save my time for putting out crafting that kind of prose.

2 lions, 2 tigers, a jaguar, and a bear escaped from their zoo enclosures in Germany today.

"Residents in surrounding areas were told to stay indoors until all animals were accounted for," the NYT reports.
It was not immediately clear how or when exactly the animals escaped, but heavy thunderstorms overnight had resulted in bad flooding across the zoo, which is on a riverbank. Some animals might have been swept from their enclosures.
All the animals were eventually found, and only the bear was shot dead. The cats all got tranquilized and returned to their rightful imprisonment. But some Germans were scared enough to self-imprison within their enclosures for a brief while.

Just by coincidence, yesterday, I watched this clip of Talking Heads doing "Animals," a song with lyrics that make me laugh, because stray, unserious paranoia is funny:



Animals think
They understand
Trusting them
A big mistake!
Animals want
To change my life
I will ignore
Animals' advice!...
I know the animals
Are laughing at us
Don't even know
What a joke is
I won't follow
Animals' advice
I don't care
If they're laughing at us
If you're going to be laughed at, you're going to want it to be by entities who know what a joke is, right?

"Oh, the screwed-up spelling of ELENORE didn't help, either. How many damn ways are they to spell that name? ELENORE, gee your folks can't spell!"

That's Rex Parker carping about today's NYT crossword, and I'm just glad to get a prompt to listen to this fantastic song once again:



Parker captions the clip "You're my pride and joy, et cetera...." The "et cetera" in the song "Elenore" is sometimes pointed to as if it's just inexplicably lame. What kind of love song stops abruptly in the middle of a string of praise and says "et cetera"? But I'd say the kind of love song that is making fun of love songs. The whole thing is a hilarious romp (and I associate those 2 Turtles frontmen with the Frank Zappa of "Fillmore East — June 1971," so it makes perfect sense to me that it's a satire of pop music).

I enjoy Rex Parker's carping, let me assure you. I especially liked "ELENORE, gee your folks can't spell!" (quoted in the post title). It's a twist on the actual song lyric, "Elenore, gee I think you're swell." Notice the silliness of that line too. It's making fun of pop love songs. "Swell" is a very lame compliment.

I'm also amused by the couplets "Your looks intoxicate me/Even though your folks hate me" and "I really think you're groovy/Let's go out to a movie." The whole thing's a big joke.

The Wikipedia article on the song quotes Howard Kaylan (the lead singer who wrote the lyrics):
Elenore was a parody of "Happy Together." It was never intended to be a straight-forward song. It was meant as an anti-love letter to White Whale [Records], who were constantly on our backs to bring them another "Happy Together." So I gave them a very skewed version. Not only with the chords changed, but with all these bizarre words. It was my feeling that they would listen to how strange and stupid the song was and leave us alone. But they didn't get the joke. They thought it sounded good. Truthfully, though, the production on "Elenore" WAS so damn good. Lyrically or not, the sound of the thing was so positive that it worked. It certainly surprised me.
"Fillmore East — June 1971" — one of my all-time favorite records — is also a satire on "Happy Together." Wikipedia:
Frank and the Mothers then portray stereotypically egotistical members of a rock band "negotiating" with a groupie and her girlfriends for a quick "roll in the hay." The girls are insulted that the band thinks they are groupies and that they would sleep with the band just because they are musicians. They have standards; they will only have sex with a guy in a group with a "big, hit single in the charts – with a bullet!" and a "dick that’s a monster." In "Bwana Dik", singer Howard Kaylan assures the girls that he is endowed beyond their "wildest Clearasil-spattered fantasies." And, not to be put off by the standards of these groupies, the band sings the girls the Turtles (of which Kaylan, Volman, and Pons had been members) hit "Happy Together", to give them their "bullet". 

Let's look at the front end of "feckless c*nt."

I'm only using the asterisk because I know it will literally cost me money (in Google ads) to put the written out "c" word in the post title. My preference would be to write it out, and the whole fuss over it...



... strikes me as stupidly retro, phony feminism. I don't even like "The Vagina Monologues," but, good lord, the "Reclaiming Cunt" scene is hellishly relevant today:
I call it cunt. I’ve reclaimed it, “cunt.” I really like it. “Cunt.” Listen to it. “Cunt.” C C. Ca Ca. Cavern, cackle, clit, cute, come-closed c-closed inside, inside ca-then u-then cu-then curvy, inviting sharkskin u- uniform, under, up, urge, ugh, ugh, u — then n then cun — snug letters fitting perfectly together — n — nest, now, nexus, nice, nice, always depth, always round in upper case, cun, cun-n a jagged wicked electrical pulse-n (high pitched noise) then soft n-warm n — cun, cun, then t — then sharp certain tangy t — texture, take, tent, tight, tantalizing, tensing, taste, tendrils, time, tactile, tell me, tell me “Cunt cunt,” say it, tell me “Cunt.” “Cunt.”
I thought that was a bit coyly old-fashioned when the play first came out in 1996, but apparently Americans still haven't gotten comfortable with "cunt." I've had it with the bullshit puritanism of present-day American politics. If you can call someone an "asshole," you should be able call them a "cunt," but it's just too easy in social media to latch onto a word, to snatch the "cunt," grab that pussy, and see if you can destroy somebody today.

Well, I wasn't going to say all that, but I did and I mean it. I just wanted to give some attention to the "feckless" part. Why "feckless"? It's not a common word. To ask the question is to have the answer pop immediately into your head. Perhaps Samantha Bee already revealed the reason for "feckless." I don't know. I didn't listen to her routine. I don't even like her. She annoys me. Too much loud sassy politics that assumes you're on a particular side. I'm so bored with that. But I did a google search to see if my understanding of the reason for "feckless," and I can see that man others have arrived in the same place:



"Feckless" stands in for "fuckless." And that does deserve a feminist swat. To use "fuckless cunt" as an insult means that you think that a vagina that does not receive the male organ is a pathetic, lesser place that the one that gets the male organ inserted even in the least loving satisfying way. The cunt should get fucked or it's totally worthless. That's just horrible feminism, Samantha Bee. Just apologize for "feckless."

In case you're wondering what the fuck "feck" even is that we should feel bad about the lack of it, it's just another way to say "effect." So to be "feckless" is to be lame, without effect. Obviously, there's no reason to say that about Ivanka.

"How can you dialogue with your assassins? This was the biggest rally yet. It was a homage to mothers who lost their sons at rallies in April and May, and they wound up adding 15 more mothers to that list."

Said Gonzalo Carrión, of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, quoted in "Nicaragua Protest on Mother’s Day Kills at Least 15" (NYT).
The protest on Wednesday capped six weeks of what has been described as a national rebellion against the government of President Daniel Ortega. The government has denied responsibility for any of the deaths and insists that it is the victim of a vast conspiracy....

“The demonstration was peaceful,” said Juan Sebastián Chamorro, a negotiator on the national dialogue committee. “There were children there. It was a peaceful manifestation that ended up with people shot in the head and killed deliberately by snipers.”

Guillermina Zapata, 63, said protesters had told her that the bullet that hit her son, Francisco Javier Reyes Zapata, 34, came from a sharpshooter perched on the top of the national baseball stadium. Mr. Reyes was struck in the eye and died, she said.

“They have to go,” Ms. Zapata said of the president [Ortega] and his wife, Rosario Murillo, who is also the vice president. “He is a murderer, and a murderer cannot continue to govern Nicaragua. They have to leave. I believe that dialogue is no longer an option. That’s sitting down to talk with the devil, who is killing the people.”
ADDED: I am told by someone I trust that this video is a good summary of what's been going on in Nicaragua for the last 5 weeks:



AND: Let me add this, with permission, from my friend in Nicaragua:
[Wednesday] was Mothers’ Day in Nicaragua and, after 42 days of protests and 80 plus students killed, the citizens held their third march, one of mourning for their lost sons, entitled The Mothers of April and May. Five hundred thousand people, ten percent of the country’s population, showed up.

The National Police and Sandinista Youth attacked the march as it approached the universities and killed 15 student protesters, amongst them the son of the founder of the National Police after the original revolution in 1979. He was shot in the head from long distance by a police sniper. The police are shooting to kill, the students’ blood is running in the streets, and Ortega and his wife will rot in hell.

May 31, 2018

But wait! Ivanka is powerful, beautiful, nurturing and honest.


Join the conversation.

IMG_2115

Being alive.

IMG_2118

Trump pardons Dinesh D'Souza.


AND: From WaPo:
The president, who has issued a series of pardons in recent months, said he is also considering leniency in number of other cases, including those of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich (D) and Martha Stewart, the author and television personality....

Trump later told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that he is considering commuting the remainder of the sentence of Blagojevich, who was convicted in 2010 on charges relating to the selling of President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.

[Blagojevich's b]ragging about getting something in return for a Senate appointment, Trump said, was “a stupid thing to say—but 18 years?”

A wrongful death lawsuit yields 4¢ for the family of a man killed by a police officer.

The NYT reports in "Jury Leaves $4 to Family of Man Killed by Sheriff’s Deputy, Along With Many Questions." Yes, that says $4, but that's the assessment of damages, but the officer's action was deemed to be only 1% of the cause of the loss, so the $4 became 4¢. Why didn't the jury just find for the defendant? The 4¢ seems like a deliberate insult to the plaintiffs.
Eight hours into a 10-hour deliberation the jury indicated that it was unable to reach a verdict. [the plaintiffs' lawyer John M.] Phillips said some appeared visibly “incensed” and red in the face.

Still, they were sent back to continue deliberating; eventually, the jury said they had a verdict.

“There was a tug of war somewhere in there,” [the dead man's fiancée said. “And then everybody’s mind changed to one? Something went on... It seems like jurors gave up.”

The Ben Rhodes clip has "Downfall" potential.

This is the first example I've seen...



... but the opportunities are big. There is however a long way to go to match the "Downfall" parodies, of which there are thousands:
One scene in the film, in which Hitler launches into a furious tirade upon finally realizing that the war is lost, has become a staple of internet videos.....

The film's director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, spoke positively about these parodies in a 2010 interview with New York magazine, saying that many of them were funny and they were a fitting extension of the film's purpose: "The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it's only fair if now it's taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like."...

In October 2010, YouTube stopped blocking Downfall-derived parodies. Corynne McSherry, an attorney specializing in intellectual property and free speech issues for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: "All the Downfall parody videos that I've seen are very strong fair use cases and so they're not infringing, and they shouldn't be taken down." ....

Popular TV shows canceled for political reasons...

...  that's what I googled as I was thinking about ABC's canceling of "Roseanne." I realize we could argue about whether reacting to an expression of racism is political, but: 1. Racism and the pressure to strictly sanction it is political, 2. "Roseanne" has been under attack all through its reboot season because Roseanne has expressed support for Trump, and 3. That's what I googled, because I wanted to know what else might belong in the same category as the canceling of "Roseanne."

I mean, you've got a very popular show. It's making money for the network. Some large segment of the American public wants to watch the show. Under the circumstances, it's a big deal to ax it. Has it even happened before.

The main thing that came up in my search was the cancelation of "Last Man Standing," one year ago. At Vox, Todd VanDerWerff wrote "5 reasons ABC might have canceled the Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing/Only one involves Trump."
It’s not often a network cancels its second most-watched comedy in a sudden, surprising move. Usually, if a show that important to a network has to go out, it’s granted some sort of “this will be your final season” reprieve.... The cancellation has left some conservative pundits wondering if Last Man Standing was canceled because Allen himself is conservative, and his character on the series is as well....

I think there are a bunch of really good business reasons for the show to end — but I also don’t know that its increased reputation as “a sitcom for Donald Trump supporters” didn’t hurt it just a little bit...

Any time the only show of one type or another, even if it’s “the only sitcom headlined by a major Trump supporter,” leaves the air, it’s hard not to wonder.
There's also the old Bill Maher show, "Politically Incorrect":

"We fluffing love Sesame Street and we’re obviously very pleased that the ruling reinforced what STX’s intention was from the very beginning — to honor the heritage of The Jim Henson Company’s previous award-winning creations..."

"... while drawing a clear distinction between any Muppets or Sesame Street characters and the new world Brian Henson and team created. We believe we accomplished that with the very straightforward NO SESAME, ALL STREET tagline. We look forward to continued happytimes as we prepare to release Happytime Murders this summer."

That's Fred, Esq., a puppet, supposedly speaking on behalf of STX and quoted in "STX Beats Lawsuit Over ‘Happytime Murders’ Trailer With ‘Ejaculating Puppets.'"

I wrote about the "Happytime Murders" lawsuit a few days ago and gave it my "lawsuits I hope will fail" tag, so I'm glad to see the judge boot this thing out of court so quickly.

The judge was Vernon Broderick, and The Daily News summarizes the opinion:
He said the "No Sesame" tagline was a "humorous, pithy way" of letting viewers know "The Happytime Murders" was not Sesame Street.

During nearly two hours of arguments before he read his decision, attorneys for Sesame Street sought to link their trademark case to an earlier one involving the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and the famous 1978 porn flick, "Debbie Does Dallas."

"Debbie Does Dallas was a pornographic movie. There's no question," Broderick said. "This is an R-rated movie. There's a distinction."
Broderick was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Obama. Nice work!

May 30, 2018

At the Be Café...

IMG_2109

... be talking all night.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

I took the photo on State Street here in Madison today. It just seems to be some random graffiti on an old display case.

"7 Funny, Fawning Reviews of HBO's 'The Final Year'" — a documentary about the last year of the Obama Administration.

I saw this tweet...



... and it made me check out a bit of "The Final Year," but I thought it was such a bad documentary. They didn't seem to have any good footage of anything. Mostly shots of various people, e.g., Samantha Power, musing flatly in dull language. I amused myself briefly by testing out the theory that people were paraphrasing the stock line "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Anyway, I bailed out and went looking for some reviews and found "7 Funny, Fawning Reviews of HBO's 'The Final Year,'" which expands the scope of the badness — the media's mediocrity on top of the filmmaker's.

I like this: "HBO's Dishonest Obama Documentary Is Fantasy Foreign Policy Puffery" (Reason).
In reality, it's less a documentary than a wet goodbye kiss to Obama, as well as a personal PR document for a few key members of his foreign-policy brain trust, employing that term loosely....

The Obama team repeatedly boasts that its three signature achievements are the Paris climate accord, the rapprochement with Cuba, and the Iran nuclear deal. But of how these agreements were reached, or who opposed them and why, there's not a word.

And even less is there an explanation of why, if they were so important, the Obama administration let them stand on a foundation of executive orders, rather than seeking congressional approval to make them law.

The consequence of that decision is that barely a year after he left office, practically nothing is left of what Obama policy-makers regarded as their most important works. ...

An old TV Guide cover.

Reassurance backfires. Whom could something like this reassure? It only stokes doubt.


IN THE COMMENTS: Ken B said:
Really Althouse? A woman who just had surgery sends a note “I'm fine”. That is odd to you, or a tactic?
I said:
My point is, she gave air to a conspiracy theory I hadn’t heard of, so she actually promoted it.
Darrell said:
The theories about Melania's absence have been all over the web for the last several days. "She co-operating with Mueller!!11!!!" "Trump is toast!!11!!!" "She went back to NY!!11!!!" Keep up with the fake news.

"It worries me that even now, kids who were not even born during Columbine High School are still making reference to Columbine."

"I don’t want people to feel helpless and hopeless, but I think what those two did, what they wrote in their journal is: ‘We’ll never be forgotten’ and ‘We’ll be remembered forever.’ And I believe they’re fulfilling that."

Said Frank DeAngelis, who was the principal of Columbine High School at the time of the famous massacre, quoted in "For ‘Columbiners,’ School Shootings Have a Deadly Allure" (NYT).

"While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of" Ambien.

Tweets the manufacturer of Ambien, quoted in "Sanofi, the company that makes Ambien, rebuffed the assertion Wednesday on Twitter."

But "racism" is an abstraction, a label applied to what Roseanne did — which was to tweet "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj" in reference to Valerie Jarrett.

We don't know what motivated those words. Perhaps it was real racism, but it could also have been a wild, reckless urge to outrage or a confused angry silliness. What was Roseanne's emotional state at the time of the tweet, and does it have any relation to any of the known side effects of Ambien?

The American Addiction Centers website discusses the possible cognitive impairment that Ambien users have experienced, and I'll just excerpt some of the things that could be related to a stupid expression like Roseanne's:
Difficulty concentrating
Disorientation to place or time
Loss of emotional affect...
Excessive sedation
Confusion and disorientation...
Hallucinations
Impaired judgment
Aggression
Sanofi's snark is first rate, but it doesn't exclude the possibility that Ambien was Roseanne's problem. That said, blaming Ambien sounds lame — and yet, ironically, making a lame excuse could be caused by Ambien. Lame excuse-making could be the result of confusion or disorientation or impaired judgment.

ADDED: The NYT addresses the question whether Ambien could caused the severe lapse in judgment or break from reality that could explain Roseanne's tweet?
So-called working memory — the mental scratchpad where the brain manipulates numbers, names and images — may shrink temporarily.... Yet these effects, taken together, have much more in common with sleep deprivation than with Tourette-like outbursts of insults and epithets. Tourette’s episodes typically arrive as a deluge and generally have no rational connection to the person’s usual behavior....

Many people have reported hallucinations while taking Ambien... daydreams so vivid they are like waking dreams — before the person snaps back into the here and now. Sleep scientists suspect that at least some of these reactions represent “mixed states,” when mental processes of the slumbering brain leak into the patient’s waking hours...
AND: Roseanne's offense is chiefly to have violated a particular well-known social norm against any suggestion that a black person looks like an ape. Looking at a human face and seeing likeness to an animal is very common. We often think someone has a "horse face" or looks like a chicken or — in the case of Mitch McConnell — a turtle. Apes have the most resemblance to humans, so this common way of seeing animal faces in humans is most likely to happen with apes. Donald Trump was famously called the son of an orangutan, and George Bush was often pictured as a chimpanzee. I had a colleague at the University of Wisconsin Law School who posted on her office door a set of pictures of George Bush and chimpanzees making various faces. It was stock humor at the time. But everyone is supposed to know that you just do not do that with black people.

Roseanne transgressed that social norm. Had she forgotten about it? I doubt it, but comedy often involves an outrageous transgression. What's one thing you absolutely should not say? That's a question you might use to brainstorm a comic routine. Shock the bourgeoisie is the old artist's credo. But the bourgeoisie shocks back. You get the consequences. Some jokes won't be taken. "Roseanne" is/was a network sitcom.

But the question here is: Could Ambien have caused it? And I'm saying that the only cause needed was the destructive impulse to violate a strong social norm that has to do with race. I do understand the argument that the racial idea had to be in her head before it could have exerted pressure to leap out, but if she'd kept the idea to herself, like so many other people who are aware of the strong social norm, she wouldn't be in any trouble at all.

Thoughts on the morning after the Roseanne debacle.

I'm skeptical. Did ABC really cancel "Roseanne," or are we sucked into high-drama theater with more scenes to come? Is this like the Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un show, where it's on, then it's off, then it's on?

There's so much politics-and-showbiz going on, and I'm not going to sit passively in a comfy chair as a good little audience member. 

I predict Roseanne Barr will have more scenes to play, perhaps some slow rolling out of apologies as the new TV season approaches and new episodes are teased about how Roseanne Connor said something racist and kind of might actually be a racist or maybe Dan is a secret racist and Darlene comes to the rescue and the little he's-not-transgender boy shows us how to love again.

What soppy goo we slurp up every day! It's always something new. For example, right now, I'm seeing "Roseanne Barr blames sleep aid Ambien for racist tweet" (Reuters)...
“It was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien tweeting-it was memorial day too-i went 2 far & do not want it defended-it was egregious Indefensible,” she wrote. “I made a mistake I wish I hadn’t but...don’t defend it please.”
What does "it was memorial day too" even mean? Roseanne has a disorderly mind — or speaks as though she does — but she's done a bang-up job of grabbing our attention and that draws into question how orderly our minds are. Step back. Get skeptical. You only have the hours and minutes in your life that you have. You must use that time as it happens in the now. Every second you pay attention to one thing, you lose a second that would have gone somewhere else.

How many seconds of human time can Roseanne or Donald Trump or Kim Jong-Un amass? Kudos to them for their unfolding victories in the game of paying attention.

IN THE COMMENTS: Eleanor said:
Personally, I think Roseanne saw some of next season's scripts, didn't like the way the story was going, and wanted out. She'll rehabilitate herself, maybe another network will pick her up, and she'll get more control of the show. If not, she can afford to enjoy her retirement, knowing she put liberal hypocrisy on grand display.
Leland said:
I think it is cancelled. She insulted the Obamas by insulting Valerie Jarrett. And the comment was definitely ugly, despite years of Chimpy McHitler. Fair enough, what she tweeted about VJ was not nearly as bad as dressing up as Hitler and pulling ginger bread men out of the oven. That latter joke didn't keep ABC from hiring her in the first place.
Yes, the problem of likening humans to apes, an interesting variation on the age-old resistance to the notion of evolution. We are primates, all of us, the same order as the apes. Bush was "Chimpy McHitler," and let's not forget that time Trump sued Bill Maher for joking that Trump was the son of an orangutan.

Oh! And I see that people have not forgotten. There's already: "Roseanne Supporters Are Calling For HBO To Fire Bill Maher For Calling Trump An Orangutan" (Hollywood Life).

Henry said:
I don't think Roseanne walks this one off -- at least not until she does a full Mel Gibson disappearance for a few years.

Pre-production on the next season was already underway. It wouldn't surprise me if Disney tries to reboot the show without Roseanne. Maybe she dies off-screen and Dan remarries Betty White.

Roseanne's next page is to go full Charlie Sheen. She's not getting her show back.
Yes, I thought that too. Do the show without "Roseanne." Before the reboot, the series had ended with Roseanne's husband dead. So come back with Roseanne dead. Was she really the without-which-none of the show? She's a bad actor compared to the others. John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf are at the complete opposite end of the scale — great actors. Sara Gilbert ("Darlene") seems to have been the brains of the reboot. She could become the central character. Build the new season around John Goodman, Laurie Metcalfe, and Sara Gilbert, and leave the dead weight of Roseanne behind.

Sal said:
My new script idea: Roseanne has an encounter with some black guy. He complains about her apes reference and she gives him ten bucks. His eyes light up!
LOL. (He's referring to this. I love comments that incorporate stuff from other posts.)

AND: daskol said:
Great actors are moons and need a planet. Great TV writers too, and even clever Sara Gilbert is merely a moon without a planet. Roseanne is a planet.

"Since marriage is a partnership, I’d like to know who I am and what I’m able to offer financially and how stable I am, before I’m committed legally to someone."

"My mom says I’m removing all the romance from the equation, but I know there’s more to marriage than just love. If it’s just love, I’m not sure it would work."

Says one millennial — a 24-year-old woman — quoted in "Put a Ring on It? Millennial Couples Are in No Hurry/Young adults not only marry and have children later than previous generations, they take more time to get to know each other before tying the knot" (NYT).

If it’s just love, I’m not sure it would work... But if it's also not just love, but includes all of those things you've consumed youthful years sorting out, you still won't be sure it will work. The question isn't how can I be sure...



... it's how sure do I need to be before I merge my fate, in these few short years I have on earth, with another human being? All of life is a leap into the unknown, and life sweeps by, leaping all around you, even if you stand back, unleaping. Everyone is getting older, and those who hold back, seeking security and hoping somehow eventually to find themselves, may find a lonely, inflexible self that never truly loved.

IN THE COMMENTS: Darrell said:
Luckily, you can run away at the first sign of trouble.
Mr. D said:
The only thing you can know is that your circumstances will change, so make sure the person you're with can adapt to the changes.
Is the incoherence intended as humor? As a sympathetic reader, I'll assume yes.
Darrell said:
Want to be sure? Find a beautiful 60-year-old then go back in time and grab her at twenty. That'll give you forty good years.
Eleanor said:
We're raising kids who are not allowed to take risks. Failure is not an option we give them. They've grown up risk-adverse. It should come as no surprise they're very cautious about getting married. Marriage is a leap of faith. Whether one makes lists and tallies up all the pros and cons, or just jumps off the cliff, it's a big risk. We've been married 45 years, and it was the best return on any investment either of us has ever made, but we didn't think about it that way at the time. We were just two kids who held hands and leaped.
If you're ever going to jump, you might want to jump young. Not jumping is taking a different risk.

May 29, 2018

"ABC cancels ‘Roseanne’ after its star, Roseanne Barr, went on a vitriolic and racist Twitter rant."

WaPo reports.
Barr appeared to take aim late Monday at Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Obama, in a tweet that identified the administration official by her initials: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj."...

The social-media rant wasn’t exactly a surprise performance by Barr, who regularly delights supporters of President Trump with her retweets of conservative memes and stories..... But even by her own standards, this latest round of tweets were particularly vitriolic. She started by spreading the false rumor that Chelsea Clinton is married to the nephew of billionaire liberal Democratic donor George Soros, who is a lightning rod for false conservative theories....

Barr later corrected herself, but added another insult. “CORRECTION: CHELSEA CLINTON IS NOT MARRIED TO A SOROS NEPHEW. HER HUSBAND IS THE SON OF A CORRUPT SENATOR, SO SORRY!” the comedian tweeted. (Fact check: Clinton’s father-in-law was convicted of financial fraud, but he was a member of the House, not the Senate.)...
A lot of people work on a show like that. It's sad that everyone can be sent packing when one nutty actor mouths off. Wasn't it the most popular sitcom on TV? Will it move to some other channel?

I feel sorry for Sara Gilbert:
Gilbert, who played Darlene on "Roseanne" and had been largely credited with spearheading the relaunch of the sitcom, tweeted that Barr's statements "do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show."

"I am disappointed in her actions to say the least," Gilbert continued. "This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love -- one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member."
I'll say what Gilbert is not saying: She just got her good work and her rising career shot to hell.

ADDED: "Darlene Is the Best Reason to Watch the New Rosanne."

"The first signs of modern 'proto-hippies' emerged in fin de siècle Europe. Between 1896 and 1908, a German youth movement arose..."

"... as a countercultural reaction to the organized social and cultural clubs that centered around German folk music. Known as Der Wandervogel ('wandering bird'), [these proto-hippies] opposed the formality of traditional German clubs, instead emphasizing amateur music and singing, creative dress, and communal outings involving hiking and camping. Inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Goethe, Hermann Hesse, and Eduard Baltzer, Wandervogel attracted thousands of young Germans who rejected the rapid trend toward urbanization and yearned for the pagan, back-to-nature spiritual life of their ancestors. During the first several decades of the 20th century, Germans settled around the United States, bringing the values of the Wandervogel with them. Some opened the first health food stores, and many moved to southern California where they could practice an alternative lifestyle in a warm climate. Over time, young Americans adopted the beliefs and practices of the new immigrants. One group, called the 'Nature Boys', took to the California desert and raised organic food, espousing a back-to-nature lifestyle like the Wandervogel. Songwriter eden ahbez wrote a hit song called Nature Boy* inspired by Robert Bootzin (Gypsy Boots**), who helped popularize health-consciousness, yoga, and organic food in the United States."

I'm reading the Wikipedia article "Hippie," where I ended up after reading a BBC article, "Did the Hippies have nothing to say?/The 1960s counterculture fuelled an artistic explosion in the US – but were the flower children merely privileged?" Excerpt from the BBC article:
It’s important to consider the context of the hippies, a majority white, middle-class group of young people with the undeniable luxury of being able to ‘drop out’. Even considering their participation in the civil rights and anti-war movements, the fact is that hippies had less at stake than those fighting for civil rights so that they could fully participate in society, not drop out. The hippies romanticised indigenous and eastern cultures (without considering the suffering of poverty) for their lack of modernity, experimenting with communal living and imaginary bohemia, creating an artificial marginality, which they saw as ethically righteous. Not to mention their unapologetic cultural appropriation.
_________________________

* "Ahbez composed the song 'Nature Boy'... Living a bucolic life from at least the 1940s, he travelled in sandals and wore shoulder-length hair and beard, and white robes. He camped out below the first L in the Hollywood Sign above Los Angeles and studied Oriental mysticism. He slept outdoors with his family and ate vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on three dollars per week." Wikipedia. Here's the hit version of the song by Nat King Cole:



** "[Bootzin] dropped out of high school and left home to wander California with a group of self-styled vagabonds. In the 1940s, Bootzin, along with 10-15 other 'tribesmen', lived off the land in Tahquitz Canyon near Palm Springs, slept in caves and trees, and bathed in waterfalls. Decades ahead of the Hippie movement, Bootzin and his companions had long hair and beards, lived a carefree existence and were seasonal fruit pickers. The group became known as 'Nature Boys.' A combination of the philosophy of the Nature Boys and growing counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s in California may have been responsible for the emergence of California spirituality in the 1960s...." Wikipedia. And here's "Gypsy Boots" on "You Bet Your Life" with Groucho Marx in 1955:

"An attacker in a terrifying mask fatally shot after jumping a Little Caesars employee."

WaPo reports.

Here's the mask:



Surveillance camera video of the attack (with a 2x4) at the link.

The Little Caesars employee, Heriberto Feliciano, 28, had a concealed-carry permit and was able to get out the gun and shoot the attacker 4 or 5 times.

I checked the WaPo comments section to see if people had gone into yeah-but-we-still-need-gun-control defensiveness. Here's the most-liked comment:
As a progressive demanding more gun control....i respect and i am glad this man was able to defend himself and was armed.

You see deplorables....you can do both...

1. want better gun control and,
2. respect responsible gun ownership

......in fact im not sure how you can be a responsible gun owner and not support better gun control.
The second-most-liked comment is great: "Never bring a 2x4 to a gun fight."

The yeah-but-we-still-need-gun-control defensiveness does show up in the third-most-liked comment:
A rare positive case of a man with a gun defending himself against an attacker. He had a permit and didn't have an assault rifle. He wasn't mentally ill or an ex con and didn't buy his gun unrecorded at a gun show or on line. Lucikly the apparently crazy attacker didn't have a gun.

So does this support an argument why there should be no controls on gun purchases or carrying guns? I don't think so.

Why does PJ Media hate that Starbucks racial training video so much?

Here's the video, which I think is good:



PJ Media's Jim Treacher surrounds it with snark that assumes you think just like him:
Do you want to see a preview of the training video? You're curious, aren't you? It's gotta be exactly what you're expecting it to be, right?

Right.

[VIDEO]

We'll now take a quick break so you can get all that cringing out of your system.

[15-20 MINUTES LATER]

Done? Whew. Yeah, all the money in the world can't buy common sense, but it can buy a guest appearance by rapper and activist Common.
I am cringing at something. I'm cringing at that style of internet writing. It's like somebody figured out how to look — in text alone — like a super-casual asshole and now it's just standard internet writing. So tiresome! I feel as though I'm constantly being poked in the ribs and expected to laugh at all kinds of mundane things, like an earnest expression of the desire to make all customers in a coffeeshop feel welcome.

"‘Solo’ Sputters at Box Office, Raising Worries of ‘Star Wars’ Fatigue."

Oh, I certainly hope so! After 40 years — and it was considered ironically retro in Year 1 — we'd better be tired of it.

The headline is from the NYT, here.
“‘Star Wars’ fans have an enormous sense of ownership, which works to the benefit of the movie company and to the detriment,” said Steve Sansweet, the president of Rancho Obi-Wan, a nonprofit “Star Wars” memorabilia museum, and the former head of fan relations for Lucasfilm. “There is a growing feeling among fans that the movies are starting to come out a little too frequently.”
Oh, apparently, it's not truly cosmic fatigue, just a pacing preference. I'm bored with that. I want to see people deciding they've had enough at long last. But I'll just turn away from fandom. I have some things I've liked far too long. For example, I just quoted Bob Dylan (in the previous post).

Scott Walker in the Colosseum saluting the Brewers.

Sorry. I just love this picture:



I love nonpolitics.

I had to check the spelling of "Colosseum." I had "Coliseum," which seems to contain 2 mistakes, and yet I see it is also a correct spelling. But I chose "Colosseum" because it seems more expressive of grandeur — the colossal. Something about double letters and "o"s above "i"s.

Song lyric:
Oh, the hours I’ve spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wastin’ time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see ’em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb
Here's the great — colossal — recording of that song by The Band.

Walker looks super-young in the baseball gear. Something about the hat. And... those shorts. Boyish. That's the crux of my problem with men in shorts. They look like boys. But sometimes it's nice. And it's hot in Rome.

On again, North Korea.


And, as long as I'm reading Trump's Twitter feed, this is rich:

ADDED: Here's a link to a PJ Media story if you need background on that second tweet. Attackers of Trump made a photo go viral and then it turned out the photo was from the Obama era.

Louis Farrakahn extols Donald Trump.

"Mr. Trump is destroying every enemy that was an enemy of our rise. Who is the enemy of our rise? Is it the Department of Justice where we get none? Is it Congress where you make a law that favors us and then you turn around and destroy it?" — quoted at American Thinker.

May 28, 2018

"Rudy Giuliani gets booed when Yankees announce it's his birthday at Yankee Stadium."

The Daily News reports.

I can see why the Yankee fans are cranky. What the hell happened to the Yankees in the last couple weeks?

Maybe they weren't booing; they were giu-ing.

At the Memorial Day ceremony at the Madison, Wisconsin graves of Confederate soldiers...

... a Union re-enactor shakes hands with 3 Confederate re-enactors. Here's the photograph from David Blaska's blog.



Blaska also has video of the ceremony and of interviews he did with some of the participants.And here's my post earlier today with photographs Meade took and background on the monument the City Council voted to remove.

What song beat "The Rainbow Connection" for the Oscar for Best Song in 1979?

As long as we're talking about the Muppets, I felt moved to listen to Kermit singing "The Rainbow Connection" (which, as I've mentioned before, is one of my all-time favorite songs):



That's from "The Muppet Movie," so it was eligible for a Best Song Oscar, and it was nominated. Why didn't it win? What beat it out? Here's Donna Summer in her amazing prime...



"Last Dance" won the Oscar.

IN THE COMMENTS: Mark corrects me. "Last Dance" won the year before. In 1979, the winner was "It Goes Like It Goes," from "Norma Rae," which is irksome.



I could accept "Last Dance" beating "Rainbow Connection," but "It Goes Like It Goes" is awful. And yet, it's fitting. The Best Song Oscar tends to go toward the awful.

Let's take a clear look at how "The Happytime Murders" appropriates "Sesame Street" intellectual property.

I wrote about this lawsuit yesterday, based on a stupidly short article in The Daily Beast, and I can see that I lacked a clear picture of what the new movie was. The "restricted" trailer gives plenty of information about the kind of satire that's going on (and please know in advance there's lots of puppet ejaculation at the very end):



For what it's worth: When I tried to type the first tag for this post, which was going to be "sesame street," I typed "sexame." That does suggest the new movie has the power to sully the brand, which may support the "Sesame Street" — jeez! I did it again! — side of the legal argument, which is based on trademark and therefore confusion, but I think that satirizing TV shows is an important part of the free-speech tradition. You have to be able to parody famous characters, and in fact there's a Muppet tradition:
The Land of Gorch was a recurring skit that appeared in season one of the American comedy television program Saturday Night Live, featuring Jim Henson's Muppets. Prior to his work for children on Sesame Street, Henson had created puppetry work, including his show Sam and Friends, for adult audiences. His characters appeared regularly on the late-night comedy television programs, and The Ed Sullivan Show. After Sesame Street, Henson feared he would become typecast into working on children's television series. His talent agent Bernie Brillstein, who represented Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, and John Belushi, helped him transition to Saturday Night Live....

The premise of The Land of Gorch featured Muppet characters, who were members of a royal family, in a faraway locale. They behaved boorishly and made frequent references to drug abuse, sexual innuendo, and consumption of alcohol. Characters included King Ploobis, Queen Peuta, their son, and servants Scred and Vazh. These characters often consulted their oracle Mighty Favog for advice....
Neither "The Land of Gorch" nor "The Happytime Murders" uses a particular puppet that was or is on "Sesame Street" (as far as I know). The idea was that there was a style of puppetmaking that had been established and was developed for the children's show in the 1960s, but that was always in tension with the broader idea of what to do with Muppets.

Notice that "Sesame Street" isn't claiming control over the Muppets brand. The movie is co-produced by the Jim Henson Co., and the director is Brian Henson who directed “The Muppets Christmas Carol” (WaPo). The claim seems to need to rely of confusion with the "Sesame Street" subsection of the larger Muppet project. The tag line for "The Happytime Murders" is "No Sesame. All Street."

Is that confusing, saying that it's not Sesame? That's what the lawsuit says. I've got to dredge up my "lawsuits I hope will fail" tag.

In Madison, Wisconsin — the Memorial Day service at the graves of Confederate war dead.

IMG_4033

IMG_4030

Photos texted to me by Meade, who is observing the ceremonies at Forest Hill Cemetery, where there is a section called Confederate Rest, which I have blogged about before, including last year when the city removed one of the 2 monuments. The second monument, with the names of the dead, and a tribute to the woman who took care of the graves, is what you see in the first photograph. The monument that was summarily removed could be seen as celebrating the South's lost cause because it called the soldiers "valiant" and said they surrendered "after weeks of fighting under extremely difficult conditions" and died in Madison's prison camp "suffering from wounds, malnutrition and various diseases." The second monument is still in contention, defended because it is the only place where all the names of the dead are inscribed.

Recently, Madison's City Council voted to remove it. From May 5th in the Wisconsin State Journal: "Despite the City Council’s decision to remove a second monument to Confederate soldiers at the city-owned Forest Hill Cemetery, the city will still need approval from its own Landmarks Commission and the state historic preservation offices to make the removal a reality, city officials said this week."

ADDED: Here's a longer view, showing the size of the crowd at the service (though I don't know who is there to show support for the Confederacy or the monument and who is there to observe the controversial goings-on):

IMG_4037

And here's this attendee, make of him what you will:

IMG_4034

Notice that the woman in the top photographs seems to be putting flags on the graves, but I don't think those are any of the flags actually used in the Civil War. Are they some reenvisioned design intended to be less associated with the values of the Confederacy and more distinctly about honoring the men who suffered and died? The man in Confederate costume, however, is staunchly displaying the flag of the Confederacy. Behind him, a man holds the more familiar Confederate battle flag.

Memorial Day.

IMG_4029

Photo by Meade, texted from the graveyard.

"Is Acne Cool Now?/How celebrities and influencers are changing the stigma of having acne."

My favorite headline of the last few weeks... at the NYT. The column is by Andrea Cheng.
“I was ashamed of my acne because of the shame people would place on it,” [said Hailey Wait, an 18-year-old student]. Her acne affected her self-esteem, prompting her to raid the Walgreens makeup aisle for cover-ups, even if they did little but aggravate her skin condition.

Seven months ago, she had had enough, and instead of hiding behind cheap foundation or highly edited selfies, she did the opposite: She revealed her blemishes to her 15,000 followers on Instagram for the first time.
Here is the lovely, acne-proud Hailey Wait, in what I'm thinking of calling the best social-media influencing I have every seen — best and most beneficial:

A post shared by Hailey Wait 🌙 (@pigss) on


So much of Instagram is women using way too much makeup. I love this leaning so far in the other direction.
And now, in the latest wrinkle, celebrities have joined the skin-positivity cause, with Justin Bieber (who recently posted on his Instagram Story that “pimples are in”), Kendall Jenner, Lili Reinhart, Lucy Hale and SZA openly embracing their acne.
It gets real and then it gets really funny. A sweet teenager does something cool and she's real and then the fake people jump on board. I'm real too!

News of changes to the Blogger (the website that hosts this blog).

I've been having trouble with the comments moderation function. Perhaps you've noticed some of what I've been struggling with. And something else just happened: there's no more Open ID for commenting. You have to be signed into a Google account to comment.

Today, I'm noticing something in the Blogger help forum that went up on May 15, announcing "some exciting updates coming soon to Blogger" along with  "simplifying the platform." Updates includ some things I understand and some things that mean nothing tome:
- Changes to features: G+ widget integrations, OpenID, and Localization & Blogspot ccTLDS.
- Retiring features: Third Party Gadgets, Next Blog, Polls Widget, and Textcube.
- Introducing new features: HTTPS for Custom Domains, Multilogin, Spanner, Google Takeout, and Video Management....

Q: Why are you making all of these changes now?
A: Blogger has been working hard to incorporate some exciting updates to the platform, so we thought it made sense to retire features that had very low usage and update some of our current features to coincide with these upcoming changes....
I hope that the problems I'm having are temporary, a consequence of Blogger's being in the middle of tweaking things. But I do have to worry that they are not maintaining a platform for a blog as big as mine (50,000+ posts). For years, the backup function hasn't worked for me, and Google tried to help me and admitted that it simply took so long that the software "thought" the process had simply gotten hung up and responded by ending it, as if I could try again later. But, of course, I never could.

"No, I wasn't cold. I'm not cold. Her choice is her choice. You know, I did the best I could, but you know, OK, I think if somebody doesn't want to be part of my life, fine."

"Go and do whatever you want. I have no memories or any... I certainly don't... I wish her well and all that, but I don't want to talk about my daughter. Those things are over. I've got no blame. People do what they do. And I don't understand it and it doesn't bother me. I can't waste my time worrying about it. And I'm not cold, I'm just thinking, 'Oh well, that's the way it is.'"

Said the actor Anthony Hopkins about his daughter Abigail Harrison, reported in The Daily Mail.

May 27, 2018

A Late Night Cafe...

... for you commenting pleasure.

The movie "The Happytime Murders" uses "Sesame Street" puppets in a way that is "explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating."

The Daily Beast reports on the lawsuit brought by the "Sesame Street" company to stop the distribution of the film, which, of course, it did not license or authorize in any way. The film is directed by "one of Jim Henson's family member."
“Sesame seeks an injunction that forces Defendants to cease and desist their trading upon the goodwill associated with Sesame Street in furtherance of box office receipts,” the lawsuit says. “The promotion of The Happytime Murders should succeed or fail on its own merits, not on a cynical, unlawful attempt to deceive and confuse the public into associating it with the most celebrated children’s program in history.”
I assume "deceive and confuse" relates to trademark law. Is it deceptive and confusing or will pretty much everyone know it's a send-up, a satire or parody? When do the rights to characters you've created give way to the right of expression of those who want to make fun of them?

[ADDED: I’m now thinking the headline to this post misstates the facts. I think there’s just a Muppet character that is not a “Sesame Street” character and the poster slogan “No Sesame. All Street.”]

[MORE: I put up a new post with the "restricted" trailer for the movie that makes the overlap with "Sesame Street" very clear. Having seen that — not saying I liked it, but having seen it — I think it's easily within the zone of satire that should be protected.]

This makes me think of "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" — "a 1987 American short biographical film portraying the last 17 years of singer Karen Carpenter's life. Directed by Todd Haynes, the film uses Barbie dolls as actors, as well as documentary and artistic footage... [and] an unauthorized soundtrack consisting mostly of the hit songs of The Carpenters."

"Superstar" was never distributed because it was stopped by claims of copyright in the music. But what about the use of Barbie dolls?
... Haynes detailed Karen's worsening anorexia by subtly whittling away at the face and arms of the "Karen" Barbie doll.
This is only tangentially related, from Woodward and Armstrong's "The Brethren," an account of the Supreme Court in the early 70s:
The National Lampoon, a humor magazine, had just released its February issue. The centerfold was entitled “Amicae Curiae”—Friends of the Court—and it depicted, in a color cartoon, all nine of the Justices engaged in a variety of sexual activity. 
View image here...


The Chief, naked except for holster and pistol, was on the floor licking the boot of an otherwise naked young woman. Brennan was standing in front of two very young girls holding his robe open. Stewart was measuring the throat of a young woman with a ruler, apparently in preparation for oral sex. Rehnquist, clad in a woman’s bra and red garter belt, was parading before the others cracking a black whip.

"Most scientists today live in cities and have little direct experience with wild plants and animals, and most biology textbooks now focus more on molecules, cells and internal anatomy..."

"... than on the diversity and habits of species. It has even become fashionable among some educators to belittle the teaching of natural history and scientific facts that can be 'regurgitated' on tests in favor of theoretical concepts. That attitude may work for armchair physics or mathematics, but it isn’t enough for understanding complex organisms and ecosystems in the real world. Computer models and equations are of little use without details from the field to test them against."

That's from a NYT piece by a professor of natural sciences (Curt Stager) who notes a study that "documented a 76 percent decline in the total seasonal biomass of flying insects netted at 63 locations in Germany over the last three decades, asks "Are we in the midst of a global insect Armageddon that most of us have failed to notice?," and warns — quoting Edmund O. Wilson, "If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos."

I'm worried about the insects, but I'm also worried about the city-living scientists and their tendency toward "armchair physics," "mathematics," and "[c]omputer models and equations" that fall short in understanding the complexities of the real world. I couldn't help thinking about the climate change computer modeling and the consensus of (city-dwelling?) scientists.

The insects are an ecosystem to be understood and — in a way — the scientists are also an ecosystem to be understood. They thrive in the city, doing math with computers.

Amazon's Alexa recorded a conversation between a man and his wife and sent the recording to the man's employer.

The NYT reports:
Now, Amazon says it knows what happened: As the woman, identified only as Danielle, chatted away with her husband, the device’s virtual assistant, Alexa, mistakenly heard a series of requests and commands to send the recording as a voice message to one of the husband’s employees.

“Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like ‘Alexa,’” Amazon said in a statement. “Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, ‘[contact name], right?’ Alexa then interpreted background conversation as ‘right’. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”
That reminds me: The other day, I was using my iPad and not intending to engage with Siri and the Siri screen came up. And it just said — I kid you not — "Fuck you."

The worst movie I've ever seen links the newly accused Morgan Freeman with the key Harvey Weinstein accuser Ashley Judd.

Last fall, when the stories about Harvey Weinstein were breaking, I blogged about him repeatedly and got pushback from commenters who thought my blogging was out of proportion to his importance and to the significance of his alleged misdeeds. Sample comment on a post titled "Not even one 'Weekend Update' joke about Harvey Weinstein on last night's 'SNL'":
We talked about Benghazi for months and months despite the lower death toll and lack of new information.

But Ann buries [the Las Vegas massacre] under a flood of Weinstein topics. Not even our pussy grabber in chief got such attention about his harrassing ways.
This is the kind of comment that caused me to abandon comments when I tried them in the first few months of the blog, this insinuation that I'm doing something devious by blogging about one thing when something else is more important and that this imbalance reveals that I favor one political side over another. When I restarted comments, later that year, I worked on not taking that bait. I write about what I find bloggable, following my various instincts. You can analyze what's happening in my head, but I don't need to wreck my momentum to examine and articulate why I'm writing about this and not that.

But on the Weinstein topic, I see that I did react, perhaps because that post is premised on the idea that the Weinstein story is so important that failing to address it on "SNL" means something. That is (I can see now), I was doing to "SNL" what commenters have done to me. Anyway, I wrote this in the comments:
The idea that people don't know Weinstein is ridiculous. The movie business is one of the businesses that Americans are most interested in. We consume the product in mass quantities.

Whether you recognize the name of one of the most prominent executives or not, his misdeeds are important news, especially since he was making decisions on what went into a product that we ingested into our brain and our culture.

Even if you yourself don't watch movies, you should care about what's going into the head of your fellow citizen.

Those who are trying to tell me I'm giving to much importance to this story could try addressing these reasons, not just emptily complaining that I'm giving this too much attention. I suspect that you are agitated by how damaging this story might be to something you care about.

By the way, I saw the movie Ashley Judd made at the time she had her encounter with HW. It was called "Kiss the Girls," and it came out in the 90s, when I consumed a lot of movies. I saw it because it was touted as "neo-noir" and supposed to be excellent. But afterward, somebody just reminded me, I said it was the wors[t] movie I'd ever seen. I'd forgotten that, but the person I saw the movie with remembered and said: "you thought it was sexualizing female victims and trying to titillate the audience when the women are crime victims, while acting like it’s taking a perspective that is against crime."
Ashley Judd was important. Three days before that SNL-didn't-talk-about-it post of mine, the NYT wrote about Judd in "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades."
When Mr. Weinstein invited Ms. Judd to breakfast in Beverly Hills, she had been shooting the thriller “Kiss the Girls” all night, but the meeting seemed too important to miss. After arriving at the hotel lobby, she was surprised to learn that they would be talking in his suite; she decided to order cereal, she said, so the food would come quickly and she could leave.

Mr. Weinstein soon issued invitation after invitation, she said. Could he give her a massage? When she refused, he suggested a shoulder rub. She rejected that too, she recalled. He steered her toward a closet, asking her to help pick out his clothing for the day, and then toward the bathroom. Would she watch him take a shower? she remembered him saying.

“I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,” Ms. Judd said. “It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.”...
"Kiss the Girls" triggered me when I saw it in 1997.  I thought, as my movie companion vividly remembered, "it was sexualizing female victims and trying to titillate the audience when the women are crime victims, while acting like it’s taking a perspective that is against crime."

The reason I'm talking about all of this now is that Judd's co-star in "Kiss the Girls" was Morgan Freeman, and this week, the big news is "Women accuse Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, harassment" (CNN). (And here's a NYT article about the CNN reporter, "She Went to Interview Morgan Freeman. Her Story Became Much Bigger.")

I just wanted to note the Judd connection and to restate my hatred of that terrible movie, the one I called the worst movie I'd ever seen.