June 9, 2018

Anthony Bourdain goes to Waffle House.

Via Meade (so I'm sorry if I'm not hat-tipping someone I should).

And sorry the audio so rough.

"President Donald Trump said he wants to meet with NFL players and other athletes who kneel during the National Anthem so they can recommend people they think should be pardoned due to unfair treatment by the justice system."

"In what he seemingly sees a solution, President Donald Trump said he wants NFL players and other athletes who kneeled during the National Anthem," CNN report-opines.

"Seemingly sees"... I'm enjoying that confusion. What Trump is doing here is using lateral thinking. You don't go directly for a solution. You take a different angle. This is the stable genius par excellence.

Here's the Wikipedia entry for "lateral thinking":
Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. The term was promulgated in 1967 by Edward de Bono. He cites as an example the Judgment of Solomon, where King Solomon resolves a dispute over the parentage of a child by calling for the child to be cut in half, and making his judgment according to the reactions that this order receives....

To understand lateral thinking, it is necessary to compare lateral thinking and critical thinking. Critical thinking is primarily concerned with judging the true value of statements and seeking errors. Lateral thinking is more concerned with the "movement value" of statements and ideas. A person uses lateral thinking to move from one known idea to creating new ideas....
It's possible that lateral thinking could be especially appealing to black people, at least that's what occurs to me after reading this piece by Katherine Timpf in National Review about a college course that teaches that supposedly teaches that "objectivity" is a "white mythology." The course — according to its official description — looks at "systematic logics that position ‘the West’ and ‘whiteness’ as the ideal manifest through such social constructions as objectivity, meritocracy, and race." The National Review calls that "crazy."

I'd say it's objectively true that some people think that stressing "objectivity" is a power move associated with white males. How do you reach people who feel like that? If you think the answer is by continuing to pressure them in the way that feels white-privileged, then you have lost touch with the real world of human beings.

Timpf writes:
The idea that objectivity is somehow a myth, or that it has anything even remotely to do with “whiteness,” is so absolutely stupid that I feel like I don’t even have to spend time explaining why. 
Well, ironically, that's an emotional reaction to a misreading of a text. The course description doesn't really mean that objectivity is a myth, but that people in power use claims of their own objectivity to solidify and extend their power. I'd say that's so obvious that I feel like I don’t even have to spend time explaining why. Timpf goes on to snark that "water is objectively wet," which must feel comfortable and cleansing but says little about how the human mind works and how some human beings gain and keep power over others.

AND: At Debate.org (whatever that is) the question "Is water wet?" is polling at 49% "yes" and 51% "no." "No" might be winning because it's more interesting, but check out some of the arguments! For example:
Water isn’t wet Wet is what you would use to describe the feeling of water, not what it is. Things become wet after it’s been “touched” by water not while it is being “touched”. Water makes things wet but it is not wet itself. I get when you say “water is wet” but your not stating something, you’re just describing water.
Just going to give you words from a scientist's pen. Back in the old days, when water was where we needed to spend our time, touch was a lot more important than it is now. We as beings had to be immediately aware if we were going in or out of water. Therefore, the feeling of wet is a primal sensory reminder.

However, thereafter once we ascended onto the land and trees, the feeling of wet became a sensory reminder of something out of the ordinary; it is raining - get shelter, you fell in a creek - start swimming.

The reason it feels as it feels when water touches the skin is actually a complex electro-chemical reaction which works at amazing speeds. The sensory inputs are a combination of:

1. Your body's pH at that moment
2. The water's pH
3. Your body's temperature at that moment
4. The water's temperature
5. The atmospheric pressure
6. Molecular polarity
This makes me think about the famous David Foster Wallace essay, "This is Water," which begins:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how's the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
I'm thinking of other dialogue for Wallace's fish, like:
"You know how you feel wet?"

"Wet?! What are you talking about? I feel... the same... all the time!"

Trump says he'll probably sign the bill that would free the states to fully legalize marijuana.

NBC News reports.
"I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he's doing," Trump told reporters when asked about the legislation. "We're looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes."

His backing could be seen as yet another rebuke of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who in January gave U.S. attorneys free rein to enforce federal laws against marijuana even in states where pot is legal. The bill would expressly overturn that policy.
I don't see it as a rebuke. Sessions is talking about enforcing the law on the books. Trump is talking about changing the law so there's nothing to speak of enforcing or failing to enforce. I hate the middle position that has prevailed for years, with something going on openly that is in violation of strict and onerous federal criminal law and just a policy of doing nothing about it. Either it's a legitimate business and ordinary law-abiding people like me can in good conscience patronize that business or it is not. It's moronic to leave this sector of the economy in limbo. Don't make Sessions the scapegoat. Change the damned law!
Attorney Aaron Herzberg of the cannabis-focused Puzzle Group Law Firm in Los Angeles said the president's remarks will "knock the socks off the industry" and provide some security for investors interested in the sector. The lawyer noted that long-desired legal banking for pot businesses seems to be an aim of the bill.

Indeed, [the bill's co-sponsor, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth] Warren said during a news conference introducing the bill earlier this week, current federal policy "forces a multibillion-dollar industry to operate all in cash. That's bad for business," she said, "and bad for safety.

"Of course, Democrats aren’t going to travel back in time to force Bill Clinton to resign in the late 1990s."

"But it also now seems clear that Clinton won’t be able to avoid answering these questions in future public appearances, which may well make him less likely to want to make public appearances in the future. There is also a strong likelihood that Clinton, who has been a mainstay of Democratic National Conventions for decades, won’t be speaking in 2020 or deployed as a campaign surrogate this fall for the first time in a generation. Yet it’s also clear that another cohort of Democrats — especially those on the older, maler side — are uncomfortable with the direction Gillibrand is going.  That’s in part a disagreement about political tactics, with some seeing it as foolish for Democrats to try to hold themselves to a high standard of conduct when Republicans hold Trump to no standard at all. But it’s probably better to think of it as primarily a disagreement about substance and the still-ambiguous legacy of #MeToo. In one view, the story is essentially that hard-working investigative journalists revealed a handful of cases of spectacularly egregious malfeasance by a handful of prominent men — Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein, most obviously — and that’s all to the good..... In [that] former view, nothing in the Lewinsky story is particularly damning (though if you believe Broaddrick, that’s another matter)...."

Writes Matthew Yglesias (at Vox). The other view, the Kirsten Gillibrand view, wants the #MeToo movement to work "a sea change in attitudes, standards of behavior, and evaluation of public figures." In that view, whether you believe Broaddrick or not, "Clinton is exactly the type of person whose conduct deserves a new, much harsher look."

What do you want to happen with #MeToo?
pollcode.com free polls

Now, I'm getting Ashley Madison ads!

Just now...

Was it because Oso Negro said "#useyourcooter"?

I had never seen that ad before today, but my commenters have been telling me for years that they've been getting Ashley Madison ads....

Bill Clinton opposes impeachment efforts against Trump.

He was talking about the ouster of Al Franken from the Senate...
"I will be honest,” he said [in the interview with Judy Woodruff], “the Franken case, for me, was a difficult case, a hard case... There may be things I don’t know. But maybe I’m just an old-fashioned person, but it seemed to me that there were 29 women on ‘Saturday Night Live' that put out a statement for him, and that the first and most fantastic story was called, I believe, into question... Too late to wade into it now.... I mean, I think it’s a grievous thing to take away from the people a decision they have made, especially when there is an election coming up again... But it’s done now."
... but the implication is undeniable.

I laughed at the phrase "I will be honest" and went into my Bill Clinton impersonation, "But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again..." I love unbelievable intros to lying.

Also, "grievous" was a great word to nail the quote into memory. It would have been easy to say "terrible" or "awful" or even "dreadful." But "grievous"! There's a word. What are our associations with "grievous"?

I think of the great Marc Antony speech in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar":
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar ... The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it...
And Winston Churchill's speech to the House of Commons in 1940:
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be..."
And — more evocative of the sufferings of Monica Lewinsky (and her privileged counterpart Hillary Clinton) — Nora in Ibsen's "Doll's House":
Nora: It's true Torvald. When I lived at home with Papa, he used to tell me his opinion about everything, and so I had the same opinion. If I thought differently, I had to hide it from him, or he wouldn't have liked it. He called me his little doll, and he used to play with me just as I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in your house -

Helmer: That's no way to talk about our marriage!

Nora [undisturbed]: I mean when I passed out of Papa's hands into yours. You arranged everything to suit your own tastes, and so I came to have the same tastes as yours.. or I pretended to. I'm not quite sure which.. perhaps it was a bit of both -- sometimes one and sometimes the other. Now that I come to look at it, I've lived here like a pauper -- simply from hand to mouth. I've lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. That was how you wanted it. You and Papa have committed a grievous sin against me: it's your fault that I've made nothing of my life.

"That's why you watch all 9 innings, folks."

Bill Clinton always tried to lift people up and was so concerned for what would happen to Monica Lewinsky and so pleased she wasn't just frozen in time but was able to make a career for herself.

"One can validly argue the media generally liked Obama & muted criticism, but journalists vehemently denounced Obama DOJ for obtaining the phone records of AP & Fox journalists..."

Tweets Glenn Greenwald, agreeing 100% with Jake Tapper, quoted in "Jake Tapper Corrects Ex-CIA Analyst For Claiming Media Ignored Obama Press Crackdown: ‘So Sick of the Lying.'"

"Maybe the Gig Economy Isn’t Reshaping Work After All."

"Roughly 10 percent of American workers in 2017 were employed in some form of what the government calls 'alternative work arrangements,' a broad category including Uber drivers, freelance writers and people employed through temporary-help agencies — essentially anyone whose main source of work comes outside a traditional employment relationship. Far from a boom in gig work, that represents a slight decline from 2005, when about 11 percent of workers fell into those categories."

The NYT reports, based on new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

June 8, 2018

The Althouse Alehouse...

... is open all night.

Try the Nun’s Oath Ale. It’s anagrammatical.

In China, painted lanes on the sidewalk for pedestrians who stare at their cell phones.

The lanes are painted with messages like "Path for the special use of the heads-down tribe" and “Please don’t look down for the rest of your life," the NYT reports.

"For the first time in modern ballet history, a male dancer is performing as part of the female ensemble at an international ballet company..."

"... signaling an important moment in an art form that often celebrates a particular ideal of femininity. Or, as the great choreographer George Balanchine said, 'ballet is woman.' But in a world with a heightened awareness of gender fluidity, and with transgender people increasingly accepted in a variety of professions, including acting and modeling, ballet is taking its own brave leap. 'I want to be seen as a ballerina,' said [Chase] Johnsey, an American, who identifies as gender fluid but uses male pronouns. 'My hair is up, I wear makeup, female attire. I am able to do female roles and look the part, so that is artistically what I do.'"

From "He Wants to Be a Ballerina. He Has Taken the First Steps" in the NYT.

It seems to me that it's all about the performers looking a certain way. Maybe there's a problem with how extremely ballet presents the difference between male and female. But most female human beings fail to meet ballet's image of the female. There are rigorous "specific aesthetic norms, which include thinness and ideas about harmonious proportions," and groups of female dancers need to blend together with no one sticking out as different. How can any man possibly fit into that narrow niche? But if he can, why not let him? It might be that he can't, but they're doing it anyway. I don't know.

There is also Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which is a comedy form of ballet where males dance as females, and Johnsey has done that, but he quit and claims he was harassed for looking too feminine. And:
“With the Trocks, if you messed up, you could make a joke about it,” he said. And despite his strong point-work technique, he said he had “completely the wrong idea about what makes a ballerina beautiful and graceful. It is actually strength, hidden within softness and grace, and I have had to figure out in my genetically male composition, how to find that.”
He lost 20 pounds in order to be able to present his body as feminine enough for ballet standards. It sounds disturbing unhealthy: "I had to cannibalize my body, make it run on energy from muscles and figure out how to lose muscle mass without losing strength."

Here's what Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo look like:

AND: Why must ballet enforce a near-anorexic standard of feminine beauty? Here is an early effort at adjusting to modern-day standards of body acceptance:

Eminent Os, tweeting today.



The OkCupid notification said "About me... I’m a feminist. I respect women while simultaneously enjoy dominating them," and she thought "Great... I was appalled, of course..."

"... so I kept reading. 'Favorite things: Sending you to work with marks, the fragrance of your hair lingering on my hands, photography and Dan Savage.' I slammed shut my laptop. I was, well, turned on.... One week and dozens of emails later, Dan and I agreed to meet... His aura of calm control was a revelation for me... Though Dan wouldn’t admit it, he was a sadist. He would leave me with bite marks and bruises that lasted for weeks. And I was not a masochist. I hated the pain but found catharsis in how undeterred Dan was by my outbursts... I had found a strange liberation in submitting to Dan, but it was only a first step. I wanted the domination, but I needed lazy Sundays and walks in the park, too. I wasn’t sure what that kind of relationship would look like... So I went back on OkCupid and created a new profile. 'I’m looking for a monogamous long-term partner whose natural dominant qualities complement my submissive,' I wrote...."

From "I Wanted to Be Dominated. But Not Quite Like That" (NYT).

The NYT — in its crossword puzzle — botches the understanding of transgenderism.

I was very surprised, as I did the new puzzle last night, that the answer for the clue "Taking on a new identity, in a way" was "transgender." It's the New York Times! Wouldn't it be expected to adhere to the strict understanding that prevails today among the educated elite that a transgender person has had a consistent gender identity that just never matched the body he or she was born with? In that view, transgender isn't a "new identity." Why would you deviate from that understanding for the sake of a crossword clue?

Here's how Rex Parker reacted:
I have a question about the clue on TRANSGENDER, though (31A: Taking on a new identity, in a way). First, the part of speech seems off, but let's just say that the clue is being used essentially adjectivally ... OK, fine. The bigger issue is ... is that what TRANSGENDER is? It's not a makeover. It's not "The New You." It's just ... you. You with a gender expression that is different from the one that conventionally corresponds with your sex at birth. I mean, you might come out as TRANSGENDER, and coming out is a kind of "taking on a new identity." But lots of people just *are* TRANSGENDER. It's not a new identity. It's ... their identity. Also, something about the cluing makes being TRANSGENDER seem like dyeing your hair or getting really into cycling or something. I dunno. It's not an offensive clue, and I recognize the trickiness of being accurate and concise and (ideally) clever while cluing a term about which people are understandably sensitive. Still, this one missed a little, for me.
Rex is more forgiving than I am, but my harshness is grounded in my understanding of what the NYT aims to be and my awareness of the extreme consequences that have lately befallen people who've said one thing the wrong way. (I'm thinking of Roseanne and Samantha Bee, but I acknowledge a big difference in that both of them fully intended to be really mean and insulting to a particular individual.)

Trailer for the new HBO documentary about Robin Williams.

A little oppressive to happen upon this in a week of 2 celebrity suicides...

"To love travel is to love the feeling of being uncomfortable in a controlled environment. It’s a very expensive roller coaster ride."

"You board the plane knowing that maybe some new experiences will slide out of your comfort zone, but they are still choices you made. We’ve all seen the Instagram feeds of zip lines, SCUBA dives, long hikes, and drinks on the beach.... I see these pictures and feel no sense of envy or desire. I always saw travel as something anyone can do with enough money, time, and the wits to book a flight. By its nature travel is flirting. There is no commitment to the destination, only pleasure. Guest is a title travelers learn to accept. That word makes me cringe. If travel is being recreationally uncomfortable in a controlled environment ― I chose the opposite...."

From "I Don’t Want To Travel" by Jenna Woginrich — "Author, Farmer, Falconer"(HuffPo).

Here's her blog, Cold Antler Farm.

"I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living."

"I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended."

Charles Krauthammer — revealing that he knows he has "only a few weeks left to live" — says goodbye (WaPo).

"I don't want a Nixonian ending for Trump. He was pardoned by Ford and allowed to go to retirement. I want Trump prosecuted to whatever extent the law allows..."

"... both as punishment and by way of warning to others who would run for election, not to serve the country but to serve themselves."

That is the top-rated comment (by far) on a WaPo column by Joe Scarborough, "Trump is hurtling toward a Nixonian ending."

The commenter's name is "prairie fire," which can refer to several things, one of which is has to do with the Weather Underground:
The leading members of the Weather Underground (Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and Celia Sojourn) collaborated on ideas and published a manifesto: Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism. The name came from a quote by Mao Zedong, "a single spark can set a prairie fire."....

The manifesto's influence initiated the formation of the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee in several American cities. Hundreds of above-ground activists helped further the new political vision of the Weather Underground. Essentially, after the 1969 failure of the Days of Rage to involve thousands of youth in massive street fighting, Weather renounced most of the Left and decided to operate as an isolated underground group. Prairie Fire urged people to never "dissociate mass struggle from revolutionary violence"....

According to Bill Ayers in the late 1970s, the Weatherman group further split into two factions — the May 19th Communist Organization and the Prairie Fire Collective — with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers in the latter. The Prairie Fire Collective favored coming out of hiding and establishing an above-ground revolutionary mass movement....
That reminds me: Mitt Romney is predicting that Donald Trump will be "solidly" reelected in 2020:
"I think that not just because of the strong economy and the fact that people are going to see increasingly rising wages," Romney said, "but I think it's also true because I think our Democrat friends are likely to nominate someone who is really out of the mainstream of American thought and will make it easier for a president who's presiding over a growing economy."
Some people love Trump and some people hate Trump. Both help Trump. I wonder how many people are hoping the economy goes bad, that it would be worth it to get Trump. Meanwhile the lukewarm among us are hoping the Democrats keep calm, stick to the middle, and give us a blandly normal candidate.

And I should say it again: I think if Nixon were having his troubles within the present-day framework of new media, he wouldn't have to resign and the impeachment route would also fail.

Electric scooters that threaten to call the police and the notion that they are racist.

I'm reading "Scooters littering US city streets shout at people: 'Unlock me or I'll call the police'/Built-in alarm sparks anger from city officials amid concerns over racism and policing: ‘This is a threat to people’" in The Guardian. We've talked about this electric scooter business before — click on the "scooters" tag — and you may be familiar with the underlying problem.

There are no locking stations for the scooters (as there are for bike rental systems like B-Cycle). The scooters are just lying around all over the place, so what prevents people from just swiping them?There's a mobile phone app for unlocking the electric motor and charging the scooterer, but there needs also to be a way to stop people from picking up the locked scooter and throwing it in a car, perhaps with the idea of figuring out how to hack into it or reworking it somehow or just to make mischief.

What can the scooter company do? One company, Lime, had the idea of making the scooter detect that it's being moved without unlocking and to shout, "Unlock me to ride me, or I’ll call the police."
The threat immediately repeats on high volume and is the first and only sound the scooter makes. The words blare after less than a minute of a person standing on and exploring the buttons of the scooters.... 
Whether the scooter actually can and does call the police is another matter. Given Lime's iffy legal status — they're just going ahead and dumping lots of scooters on sidewalks without prior authorization — I can't believe they'd set the controversial vehicles to robocall the police. The taxpayers should pay for this police work?! What's the price of a police intervention compared to the price of the damned scooter?!

The kicker is that Lime stands accused of racism.
“This is not only an annoying noise, this is a threat to people. For black people, that can really be experienced as a death threat,” said [ Oakland councilmember Rebecca] Kaplan, who is crafting legislation to regulate the scooters and now plans to add a proposal to prohibit loud noises and threats...

Anthony Bourdain has killed himself!

Here's the NYT article.

I am stunned! So soon after Kate Spade, a cultural icon who seemed to embody joy in life and simple happiness. Similarly, I associate Bourdain with the power to seize upon life and exuberantly suck the marrow of pleasure out of everything. What is the darkness on the other side of the face we loved because we saw vistas of happiness?


What happened? I'd rather believe it was one of those accidental deaths by hanging. Perhaps he had some terrible ailment that led him to declare the end to life. I hate thinking that a man who exemplified energetic pleasure-seeking was actually not enjoying himself at all.

"The Bullshit-Job Boom/For more and more people, work appears to serve no purpose. Is there any good left in the grind?"

By Nathan Heller at The New Yorker.
In “Bullshit Jobs” (Simon & Schuster), David Graeber, an anthropologist now at the London School of Economics, seeks a diagnosis and epidemiology for what he calls the “useless jobs that no one wants to talk about.” He thinks these jobs are everywhere. By all the evidence, they are. His book, which has the virtue of being both clever and charismatic, follows a much circulated essay that he wrote, in 2013, to call out such occupations. Some, he thought, were structurally extraneous: if all lobbyists or corporate lawyers on the planet disappeared en masse, not even their clients would miss them. Others were pointless in opaque ways....
Corporate lawyers? That doesn't sound right! How is a corporation supposed to stay on the right side of all the law? It would make more sense to say the law is bullshit. But I can see how a corporate lawyer might feel that the tasks he's stuck doing are bullshit, that his is not a spiritually rewarding way of life, but Heller wrote that the clients wouldn't miss their lawyers if they all suddenly "disappeared." Wishing mass death on lawyers is an old tradition, replete with Shakespeare quote. And it's common to think this murderous ideation is cute.

By the way, the oft-trotted-out Shakespeare quote is almost always misunderstood:
Shakespeare's exact line ''The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers,'' was stated by Dick the Butcher in ''Henry VI,'' Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73. Dick the Butcher was a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, who thought that if he disturbed law and order, he could become king. Shakespeare meant it as a compliment to attorneys and judges who instill justice in society.
Shakespeare quotes are often presented as if Shakespeare were not a playwright and the ideas expressed were Shakespeare's own opinions. The lines are spoken by characters, who can be evil, stupid, deceitful, or badly mistaken.

Back to Heller:
I do digital consultancy for global pharmaceutical companies’ marketing departments. I often work with global PR agencies on this, and write reports with titles like How to Improve Engagement Among Key Digital Health Care Stakeholders. It is pure, unadulterated bullshit, and serves no purpose beyond ticking boxes for marketing departments. . . . I was recently able to charge around twelve thousand pounds to write a two-page report for a pharmaceutical client to present during a global strategy meeting. The report wasn’t used in the end because they didn’t manage to get to that agenda point.
Hmm. That reminds me. One of the reasons I chose to retire is that the bullshit work spiraled upward over the years. When I started in the 80s, there was hardly any committee work and some of the required paperwork — e.g., progress reports on pre-tenure professors — wasn't even done at all. Toward the end, there were so many large committees taking themselves very seriously, producing reports and reporting orally on reports at faculty meetings that dragged on for hours. There was always another "self-study" report to be laboriously cranked out, and you couldn't even say: Come on, we know this is bullshit... can't we just admit it and get it done as efficiently as possible? No, we had to perform in the Theater of Utmost Seriosity in the production of mindnumbing paperwork. If it had been a committee of 3 or 4 tenured professors, we'd have laughed about the stupidity and done it as fast as possible. But in later years, it would be a much larger, much more inclusive group, and you'd seem like an obstructionist if you rankled at bureaucracy and insane if you cracked a joke.

A bullshit job is not what Graeber calls “a shit job.”... [B]ullshit work [is] “a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.”

Ugh! The pretense is part of the work.
Hollywood is notoriously mired in development, an endeavor that Graeber believes to be almost pure bullshit. One developer he meets, Apollonia, had been kept busy working over reality shows with titles such as “Transsexual Housewives” and “Too Fat to Fuck.”...
To be fair, those shows do sound interesting. But what is bullshit is working on them without believing that there's a chance they will become real shows.
In a famous essay drafted in 1928, John Maynard Keynes projected that, a century on, technological efficiency in Europe and in the U.S. would be so great, and prosperity so assured, that people would be at pains to avoid going crazy from leisure and boredom. Maybe, Keynes wrote, they could plan to retain three hours of work a day, just to feel useful.

Here we are nearly in 2028, and technology has indeed produced dazzling efficiencies. As Keynes anticipated, too, the number of jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, and mining has plummeted. Yet employment in other fields—management, service—grows, and people still spend their lives working to finance basic stuff.... “It’s as if businesses were endlessly trimming the fat on the shop floor and using the resulting savings to acquire even more unnecessary workers in the office upstairs,” [Graeber] writes.
Maybe the reason we don't have single-payer health care is that we need to preserve the bullshit jobs!
“Everybody who supports single-payer health care says, ‘Look at all this money we would be saving from insurance and paperwork,’ ” [President Obama once said]. “That represents one million, two million, three million jobs.” Graeber describes this comment as a “smoking gun” of bullshittization. “Here is the most powerful man in the world at the time publicly reflecting on his signature legislative achievement—and he is insisting that a major factor in the form that legislature took is the preservation of bullshit jobs,” he writes. Politicians are so fixated on job creation, he thinks, that no one wonders which jobs are created, and whether they are necessary. Unnecessary employment may be one of the great legacies of recent public-private collaboration.
Ugh! But look where this line of thinking goes, for Heller at least:
Under a different social model, a young woman unable to find a spot in the workforce might have collected a government check. Now, instead, she can acquire a bullshit job at, say, a health-care company, spend half of every morning compiling useless reports, and use the rest of her desk time to play computer solitaire or shop for camping equipment online.... 

June 7, 2018

At the Althouse Alehouse...

... you can talk all night.

"A prominent far-right leader who dismissed the Nazi era as mere bird poop on Germany’s 1,000-year history was swimming in a lake near his house one evening recently..."

"... when a man on the shore grabbed his clothes. The thief’s parting words: 'Nazis don’t need bathing fun!'... The episode unleashed plenty of schadenfreude, and some criticism, on social media. Images of a dripping [Alexander] Gauland being escorted back to his house while wearing only a colorful pair of patterned swimming shorts spread rapidly, and a hashtag was born: #bathingfun."


The thief's remark is translated from the German, which was "Nazis brauchen keinen Badespaß!" In case you want to do your own translating.

Because now you're having nightmares?

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams."

A quote from — of all people — Dr. Seuss. That's the third-most-like quote at Goodreads on the topic about which people have registered the most "likes" — love.

I got there this morning because I was having a conversation in which I needed to remember the quote, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

I was surprised to see who the quote was from because I thought it was something that Rush Limbaugh says a lot. But why was I surprised? I blogged about that quote just 4 years ago. It's a quote about remembering and forgetting, and I keep remembering the quote and forgetting who said it.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bill Peschel said:
Maya Angelou never said it. She didn't even improve upon an existing quote.

It was really said by a Mormon official, Carl W. Buehner, in 1971: "They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel."

There's no evidence Angelou said anything like this.

This commonly happens with quotes. There's even been cases where a phrase as simple as "Elementary, my dear Watson," the seed for which was planted in the original books, improved by William Gillette in his "Sherlock Holmes" play, but the actual direct quote came from, of all people, P.G. Wodehouse in one of his school stories.

In short, never trust quotes from Goodreads or BrainyQuotes.
Bill provides a link to Quote Investigator, which concludes:
In conclusion, based on current evidence QI suggests that Carl W. Buehner can be credited with this adage. Many people have used the saying without ascription in the years after 1971. The attribution to Maya Angelou is unsupported at this time.
GoodReads is a big website. It often comes up first or close to first when I google something (as I did before writing this post). And here's a misattributed quote that ranks #1 for quotes on the #1 topic! Mental note never to trust GoodReads.

I wonder if Dr. Seuss said "You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams," which I blogged because I thought it was so dumb (yet ranked so high).

It's dumb for at least 2 reasons, one of which is indicated by my post title: Your real life could be better than your dreams because you are having bad dreams, and it's possible that your lover is giving you nightmares that are worse than what is actually a bad relationship. The other reason is that the insomnia is a problem that diminishes the quality of your life. It's much better to get a good night's sleep and be in good condition to enjoy the next day with your loved one. It's one thing to stay up late (or even all night) because you're having a great time with someone — perhaps having sex for hours while telling each other the story of your life thus far — but that's not a sustainable love. You need your sleep. And who goes to sleep because they're just eager to dream? The motivation to sleep is that you are tired and you care about feeling good the next day!

Okay, now that I know not to trust Goodreads, I'm checking whether Dr. Seuss is responsible for the idiocy the Goodreads crowds liked so much. Ah! According to this discussion at Wikiquote, there's no evidence that this quote came from Dr. Seuss. Seuss innocent. Goodreads guilty.

"Tipper Gore's Diary" — a page from the January 1986 issue of Spin magazine.

This is something I hit on googling "joni mitchell lyrics peppermint" as I was blogging a magazine article about the loveliness of the Kate Spade retail store that contained the line "listening to Joni Mitchell and eating peppermints while we waited for customers." I had the feeling there was a Joni Mitchell song with the word "peppermints." I was wrong, but I love what I found looking for something that didn't exist:

In 1986, Al Gore was a Senator:
Gore was one of the Atari Democrats who were given this name due to their "passion for technological issues, from biomedical research and genetic engineering to the environmental impact of the "greenhouse effect."... [H]e has been described as having been a "genuine nerd, with a geek reputation running back to his days as a futurist Atari Democrat in the House. Before computers were comprehensible, let alone sexy, the poker-faced Gore struggled to explain artificial intelligence and fiber-optic networks to sleepy colleagues."... Gore introduced the Supercomputer Network Study Act of 1986....
At that time, his then-wife Tipper was on a Prince-triggered rampage against dirty lyrics:
In 1985, Tipper Gore co-founded the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC)... because Gore heard her then 11-year-old daughter Karenna playing "Darling Nikki" by Prince. The group's goal was to increase parental and consumer awareness of music that contained explicit content through voluntary labeling albums with Parental Advisory stickers... Gore explained that her purpose wasn't to put a "gag" on music, but to keep it safe for younger listeners by providing parents with information about the content of the songs. A number of individuals including Dee Snider of Twisted Sister,[21] Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, John Denver, Joey Ramone, and Frank Zappa criticized the group, arguing that it was a form of censorship....
What's John Denver doing on that list?!
Folk rock musician John Denver stated he was "strongly opposed to censorship of any kind in our society or anywhere else in the world", and that in his experience censors often misinterpret music, as was the case with his song "Rocky Mountain High"...
I presume that means the song was interpreted to refer to getting high on drugs.
When Denver came up to give his speech, many on the PMRC board expected him to side with them, thinking he would be offended by the lyrics as well...
He was offended by censorship (and agreed with the broad meaning of what counts as censorship).

Anyway, you can see why Spin magazine was making fun of Tipper Gore in 1986. Click the image of the article to enlarge it enough to read. There's some great stuff in there and a nice illustration by Sara Schwartz. I'll just leave you with the song title that made that article show up in my Google search, "Peppermint Stick" by The Elchords:

I'll leave it to you to decide whether that 1958 recording contains the line "Peppermint stick/Eat my dick."

"Clinton’s feckless replies to questions about #MeToo revealed an unpreparedness that spoke volumes about why men have been able to abuse their power with relative impunity for generations..."

"... while the women around them have been asked to pay the price for them over and over and over again.... Consider that Lewinsky herself has been asked to answer for this relationship — and only this relationship — for two decades. Her name has been used as a synonym for fellatio by performers including Eminem and Beyoncé; in 2001, she was asked onstage, 'How does it feel to be America’s premier blow-job queen?'... But it’s not just the woman he had the extramarital relationship with who’s been evaluated based on his bad acts; it’s also the one he had the marital relationship with. Hillary Clinton lost the support of many feminists who’d adored her when she decided to stand by her man. Others made it clear that they thought the choice was hers to make, but their support had its own dark underside, when pundits like the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd accused Hillary of leveraging sympathy as a wronged wife into a political career. From there, it was just a short leap to view Hillary Clinton’s pathbreaking achievements — as the first woman elected to the Senate from New York, and later as the first American woman to become a major-party nominee for the presidency — as fundamentally unearned, some sick lagniappe benefit of having been publicly hurt and humiliated."

From "Time's Up, Bill" by Rebecca Traister in New York Magazine.

Random observations:

1. There's that word "feckless" again. Last time we saw "feckless" it was Samantha Bee calling Ivanka Trump a "feckless cunt." But Traister didn't call Bill Clinton a feckless dick. She didn't even call him "feckless." She called his replies "feckless."

2. Key word in that sentence about Monica Lewinsky: "onstage." She wasn't walking down the street or sitting in a restaurant when someone had the nerve to challenge her to say how it feels "to be America’s premier blow-job queen." She'd put herself onstage. That's a choice, and the choice was only there for her to make because she had gotten famous for having sexual relations with that man, Mr. Clinton. What about all the other White House interns who did not get their hands on the fleshly lever of power? Where did they end up? What claim to fame do they have? Monica could have been another one of them. It's less giddy fun, and she chose a path and keep choosing to stay on it. Otherwise, why was she onstage?

3. As for "Hillary Clinton lost the support of many feminists," I'd say: not enough.

4. As for "she decided to stand by her man," let's not forget that when Hillary used that phrase, it was during the 1992 campaign and she said: "You know, I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." She had her well-thought out reasons for sticking with him. Also, that remark was in the context of Bill's adultery, not the sexualization of power in the workplace.

5. What's a lagniappe? Wikipedia quotes Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi" (1883):
We picked up one excellent word—a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word—"lagniappe." They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish—so they said. [NOTE: It's actually Quechua.] We discovered it at the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day; heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third; adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth. It has a restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a "baker's dozen." It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop—or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know—he finishes the operation by saying—"Give me something for lagniappe."

The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don't know what he gives the governor; support, likely.

When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New Orleans—and you say, "What, again?—no, I've had enough;" the other party says, "But just this one time more—this is for lagniappe." When the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too high, and sees by the young lady's countenance that the edifice would have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his "I beg pardon—no harm intended," into the briefer form of "Oh, that's for lagniappe."
6. Of course, I agree with Traister that Bill Clinton should be held accountable for his offenses against women, but I have been saying that for 20 years.

"It was a tribute to the idea of East Coast preppy culture, a love note to Salinger and Cheever, to the Kennedys, and to the early ’60s..."

"[Kate Spade] ads had the confidence and charm of a Wes Anderson film, a few years before Rushmore made his style instantly recognizable. They’d taken a love of WASP-y Americana and merged it with a winking downtown irony, in a formula that brands like J.Crew and Tory Burch would later emulate with great success. In retrospect, it’s hard to appreciate how cool those simple handbags were.... Everything about that year in my life felt vivid, even though I only worked in retail and went to college. I lived a few blocks north of the store, in an apartment with two rooms and no bathroom sink. Outside of the shop, life might have been chaotic, but inside, everything was calm and under control. I loved going to work and was never bored, even when it was just me and Julia, my store manager, listening to Joni Mitchell and eating peppermints while we waited for customers...."

From "Remembering the Magic of Kate Spade" by Stella Bugbee (New York Magazine).

Reading that made me think and the first thing that I saw was the sun through yellow curtains and a rainbow on the wall/Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon....

And I once lived in a NYC apartment that had no bathroom sink. (There was a big, claw-footed bathtub, and leaning over it to wash hands or brush teeth became the norm. And I must have put in my contact lenses there. That's the hardest thing to picture. I guess I put the rubber plug in the drain and went for it.)

Have you heard that it's now against the law in California to shower and do laundry on the same day?

I just heard that, didn't believe it, and got right to this Snopes piece that says it's "mostly false."

There is a new water conservation law, signed a few days ago by Governor Jerry Brown, that "mandates for water districts and municipalities, and water agencies can be fined if they fail to meet conservation goals (but not until 2027)."
"There is nothing in this bill to target households or companies. Water use objectives are on territory-level of a water agency. There is nothing regulating the time a person may shower or when they may or may not do laundry."
Don't spread fake news. Maybe you don't like this law or rankle at too much government regulation, but what do you propose for a heavily populous state with chronic water shortage problems? Here's a suggestion for a conservative answer: Let the democratic processes within California determine what to do about a California problem.

June 6, 2018

At the Curved Path Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

And please think of using the Althouse Portal to Amazon. For example, here's a pistachio nut opener. And did you know that it's best to use salt flakes on your grilled fish? And may I recommend fullreach sunscreen spray? Just some summer ideas!

The long lost first segment of the Bill Clinton appearance on Stephen Colbert's show last night.

I am just now realizing that the 7+ minutes of Bill and Stephen that I watched so closely this morning is the second half of a 2-segment appearance. So here's part 1, and once again I will share my reactions in a numbered list, updating this post as I go.

1. Colbert begins by talking about Bill Clinton's disastrous "Today" show interview. Colbert underplays it. He says he "noticed" that Bill didn't "enjoy" all of it, and asks Bill if he understands why people would call it "tone deaf" and whether he's learned something from the #MeToo movement. Clinton blames the editing (which he calls "distilling") for making what he said look as though he said he didn't apologize, so — as a viewer of that fake news (not that he called it "fake news") — he was "mad at me."

2. Clinton gives sad face as he tells us that what happened to him was painful and he's had to live with it, lo, these 20 years. And — as if he's not on the wrong side of it — he says #MeToo is "long overdue" and "we should all support it." He bites his lip, Clinton-style, at least twice, clears his throat, and shakes his head before sententiously opining that he likes thinking that "we're all getting better." He twitches and can't make eye contact, and here's that lip bite again!

3. James Patterson sweeps in uninvited to tell us that Clinton is "wonderful, wonderful, wonderful."

4. Colbert lectures Clinton on tone-deafness. In #MeToo times, we hold powerful men accountable for what they did, especially to young underlings, even if it happened long ago. Why should Clinton act "offended" that he was confronted when "your behavior was the most famous example of a powerful man sexually misbehaving in the workplace of my lifetime"? "Why are you surprised?" Clinton tries to make a special case out of the "Today" show confrontation because it began with an assertion that he hadn't apologized. But many viewers didn't know the facts, he said, so that's why he "seemed to be tone-deaf." Seemed.

5. The #MeToo stuff ends and there's a lot of chatter about the midterm elections. So I guess Bill Clinton got away with talking about other people getting the facts wrong and his having apologized. Which is really just one thing, since the facts that people supposedly got wrong were about whether he apologized. That shouldn't satisfy those of us who care about sexual harassment in the workplace!

6. What was different here than on the "Today" show? He basically repeated the same talking points, blaming others, seeking pity for his pain, and making it about apologies. He just didn't get visibly mad. I guess that lip-biting works.

Interesting! Suddenly, there's a leak from the inspector general the day after Rush Limbaugh ascribed importance to the lack of any leaks.

ABC reports:
The Justice Department's internal watchdog has concluded that James Comey defied authority at times during his tenure as FBI director, according to sources familiar with a draft report on the matter.

One source told ABC News that the draft report explicitly used the word "insubordinate" to describe Comey's behavior. Another source agreed with that characterization but could not confirm the use of the term.

In the draft report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz also rebuked former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for her handling of the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton's personal email server, the sources said.
Here's Rush Limbaugh today:
The one thing I pointed out yesterday — I find this fascinating — the day after I point out that there hasn’t been a single leak from this thing circulating in front of all kinds of eyeballs at the Department of Justice and who knows wherever else, not one leak. And then the very next day, today, we have a leak to ABC News that ends up one of the lead items on the Drudge Report....

But the fact that there haven’t been any leaks, the thing I mentioned yesterday, the fact there haven’t been any leaks when everything else in this town is leaking and every other leak in this town is an anti-Trump leak or an anti-Trump attack, the fact that there have been no leaks from this thing told me — and I mentioned it yesterday — that it must be pretty bad for the people who are named in this thing. They wouldn’t want it out there, and so it isn’t. Except now it is....

"It’s nearly time for Dalle to leave. Tell me about your religious faith, I say, nodding at her tattoo."

It's a tattoo of a cross, and the Guardian reporter is pushing the charming actress Béatrice Dalle to get material for this piece that ended up with a provocative title that made me click, "Interview/Betty Blue’s Béatrice Dalle: ‘I love Christ because he invented bondage." So try to understand the attitude and spirit of her answer:
“I was raised a Catholic and still go to church every week. In fact, it’s the one round the corner on the Rue de Turenne. Write this down,” she says. “I love you, Jesus Christ!” For a moment, I don’t understand what she’s saying. “Jesus!” she says incredulously, pointing upwards. “You know, the boss?” Why do you love him? “I love Christ because he invented bondage,” she says, laughing shamelessly. Is that what you tell your priest? She ignores the question and stands up to make her point. “Think of how he hangs on the cross with his hips swung out.” She imitates his pose. “He’s very sexy, no?” A final cackle, a quick selfie, two kisses and she’s gone.
Does anyone take the trouble to understand anything anymore?

Enthusiasm only goes so far.

I'm linking to something cute involving a dog. Fair warning.

"Republican John Cox Secures Spot in California Governor’s Race/Businessman comes in second in primary, is set to face Democrat Gavin Newsom in November election."

The Wall Street Journal reports.
Mr. Cox’s second-place finish was a boost for President Donald Trump, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other party leaders who had endorsed him and worked to consolidate GOP support behind him in a sprawling field that had 27 candidates including five Republicans....

“Mr. Newsom made it clear that he wanted to run against me instead of another Democrat,” Mr. Cox told supporters Tuesday night. “Be careful, be careful Mr. Newsom what you wish for.”...

In his speech Tuesday night, Mr. Cox assailed the Democrats’ record in the state as one that has “made a colossal mess of the Golden State” leading to high housing costs, high taxes and high rates of homelessness, among other ills.

Mr. Newsom, meanwhile, campaigned as a progressive, promising to position the state as a major foil to Mr. Trump. On Tuesday night, he framed the race against Mr. Cox as the kind of matchup that would define California’s role in the Trump era.
Newsom defines himself as a contrast to Trump and Cox defines himself as someone who can solve the states terrible problems? The Cox pitch sounds obviously better, at least to someone who roughly understands the job of a governor, but all sorts of people vote, and many feel as though it's about expressing their values and not anything practical.

ADDED: I just looked at Drudge, saw this...

... asked myself what does John Cox look like, did an image search, and came back to say forget about it, Republicans. As indicated above, I'm practical about voting, and being practical, I'd probably vote for Cox, but as an observer, my practicality has me predicting that California voters — tasked with deciding between idealism and practicality — will spring for the better looking man.

"From the moment late in 2016 when Hillary Clinton’s formless, themeless, listless campaign handed the White House to Donald Trump (assisted by Comrade Putin), Democrats have been counting on..."

"... the reckless, heedless, careless novice to return the favor. Rather than melt down, though, President Trump is gaining strength. After a rocky start, the president has cut himself loose from the highly unpopular Congress to create a clear account of his unusual reign, which he repeats with unflagging discipline. He’s a rulebreaker who gets results, and the enemies of change are conspiring to stop him. This is a polarizing message, indeed. But Trump appears to understand that popularity and unpopularity aren’t necessarily opposites. They can be partners...."

From "There will be no Trump collapse" by David Von Drehle (WaPo).

"The Kate Spade brand was like a ray of sunshine — an antithesis to pessimism, self-conscious ennui..."

"... and even the sarcastic humor of her brother-in-law David Spade during his “Saturday Night Live” heyday. The company’s calling card was unabashed optimism."

Robin Givhan writes (in WaPo) about how Kate Spade's designs (handbags, etc.) were so nice at "a time when much of the highbrow fashion industry was fixated on minimalism and the washed-out, dour aesthetic known as heroin chic."

And then Kate Spade killed herself. Was the fashion always a facade, some desperate grasping to climb out of horrible darkness? Were the women who wore "heroin chic" happier than those who went for Kate Spade's clear colors and happy shapes?

It's interesting to think of these questions after blogging about Miss America's effort to get away from "outward appearance." What are other people really like on the inside? Well, the inside is private. We get to choose how much access to give to our inner selves, and to show what's on the inside, we need to let it out — by actions and gestures and by words but also by how we look. We've got to wear something, and we can choose to reveal what we are inside through what we wear, but we don't have to tell the straightforward truth.

You can wear yellow-and-white polka dots when you are gloomy and nothing but black when you're doing just fine.

This made me think of the Teri Garr character in "Afterhours":

How can there be a Miss America contest where "We are not going to judge you on your outward appearance"?

The quote is from Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America Organization. I'm reading "The Bikini Contest Is Over, but We Are Living Inside the Beauty Pageant," by Bari Weiss in the NYT.

I think what Carlson meant was they're eliminating the part of the show where the contestants walk around in bikinis and high heels and the idea is to judge (or just admire) their bodies. They can't mean "outward appearance" more generally, can they? They can't switch to judging women by their insides! How would that be done? I know the contest always had a segment where the contestants were asked questions and had to show some intelligence, but a contest to see who has the most beautiful mind would not even be recognizable as a beauty pageant.

From the Bari Weiss colum:
The real reason the bikini contest was done away with is that it’s simply too explicit for our euphemistic era, where “strong” is the code word for skinny, and “healthy” for beautiful. Our culture hasn’t stopped objectifying women. We — men and women both — are just getting better at pretending it’s not happening.... Standing up on a stage in stilettos and tiny squares of nylon held up by string is just too gauche for 2018.
Weiss gets onto the topic of all the things non-gauche women do for outward beauty. My favorite is: "We lie under fluorescent lights and hold our thighs open for strips of burning hot wax while we chat about the new season of 'The Handmaid’s Tale.'"

Weiss's conclusion: "I won’t miss the bikini contest a lick... But there was also something strangely honest about it."

Bill Clinton was so embarrassingly awful on the "Today" show, and then he tried again, last night, on Stephen Colbert's show.

I haven't watched it yet. I'll give you the clip — watch it with me — and add my comments in a few minutes:

1. I'm only up to 0:03, and look at the expression on Bill's face:

He's already angry!

2. Colbert begins by talking about the book — the thriller Bill purportedly co-wrote with James Patterson. Colbert's question — aimed at Patterson — is apt and funny: What did Clinton add to this project that you couldn't have come up with yourself? Patterson babbled meaninglessly. He writes pulp and speaks pulp. Some bullshit about authenticity. The question does its work, underscoring what I already think, that Clinton didn't co-write it at all, but put his name on the cover and is participating in this promotional tour. If I had to guess, I'd guess Clinton had someone working for him who read Patterson's drafts, which were marked up with questions and requests for material that could be used to pad out the book, and the assistant had some access to Clinton to use in preparing a response to Patterson. I see no rapport between those 2 men and don't believe they worked together in some way that Clinton pursued for the intrinsic value of creative expression. Patterson is not an amusing associate for Clinton, but the other end of a deal to make money and get good publicity (which makes the bad publicity he's getting so tragic/hilarious). — written after pausing at 0:50.

3. At 1:19, Bill Clinton is warming up, exuding his charm — don't get that on your dress — and finding a way without saying the name to bring up Trump and elicit hoots of hate from the audience that came to a show where hooting hatefully at Trump is what one does. It's so easy, but let's see how many times and how desperately Clinton grabs for that easy rapport with the folks in the room.

4. Just noticing the size of that watch:

5. Colbert interrupts some boring talk about the Secret Service to gratuitously diss Donald Trump and the audience breaks into the chant "Stephen. Stephen. Stephen." Written after pausing at 2:50.

6. After some reference to Melania Trump, Bill Clinton says he likes her and seeing a picture of her made him feel good. Why would he give Colbert that opening to pursue him about his sexual problems? And why doesn't Colbert snap up the opening? At 3:15.

7. At 3:36, we've just gotten a great chance to observe Clinton's demeanor when he is lying.

He's saying that his legal team never considered whether the President could pardon himself. There's no way that's true. I'm sure he could come up with a weaselly argument that it's not a lie. He might say that he believed all along that it was strategically bad for the President to pardon himself, so it didn't matter whether technically the legal argument for presidential power would succeed in court, but the lawyers would for the sake of completeness have researched that question and presented it to him, but he paid only minimal attention to it at the time, since political survival was what really mattered. By the way, if you're looking at my screen grab and thinking about the position of his eyes, remember that Bill Clinton is left-handed.

8. Clinton on his own shifts from the subject of the pardon — where we know he's lying — to the subject of preparing for the interview tonight after the disastrous performance on the "Today" show. He says he did practice interviews — "murder boards" — where his people act as Colbert stand-ins and asked "meaner questions than Colbert would" and then help him tune up his answers, so they're not just what comes straight from his "heart." That is, he's telling us the "Today" show interview, though bad, was spontaneous, and he's not going to do that anymore. Colbert doesn't follow up! He nervously shifts to Patterson and makes the topic Trump again! Does Patterson think "Trump is a believable character"?

9. Colbert brings up North Korea. Bill Clinton says: "We should all want President Trump to succeed here." This is decent. Maybe I shouldn't criticize. But I'll just say this is a nice rest period for Clinton. He can calmly explain something in a presidential style. The audience delivers splattering applause.

10. And that's it. Colbert declares the end of the interview. Quite the softball interview. No mention of Monica Lewinsky. The closest they got to sex was Bill's feeling "good" when he looked at a picture of Melania.

AND: I am just now seeing that the video I watched here was the second segment. There's 9 minutes more and that came first. I'll do a new post with the first segment embedded and see if I can give it the same multi-pointed close watch.

FINALLY: Here's the new post covering the first segment.

"To mark the 20th anniversary, we asked readers to tell their stories of how 'Sex and the City' inspired their moves to New York. Several hundred replied."

"... with many recounting how the show painted a seductive vision of Manhattan: endless brunches with gal pals, rewarding careers, a sea of handsome suitors and, of course, shopping sprees. Lots of these respondents were men" — NYT.

2 days ago, I was making fun of one woman for getting the idea of living like a fictional character. "Who goes about in the real world as the double of a fictional character without knowing from Day 1 that it's a lie?"

That phrase — "living like a fictional character" —  unlocked an old memory of mine. I've attempted, at times, to write novels, and back in the early 90s, I worked on something with the title "My Life as a Fictional Character." The first-person voice was not a woman attempting to be some fictional character — like these women who set out to become Carrie Bradshaw (of "Sex and the City") — but a woman married to a novelist who uses her as raw material for his novels.

I'm glancing at some of these stories the NYT raked in, collected at "True Tales of ‘Sex and the City.'" None of the women seem to have fallen for the fantasy. They were just vaguely inspired to love the idea of living in New York. How could someone new to NYC get anywhere close to believing she was living like Carrie? Step 1 would be finding a place to live, which would squelch any fantasy. There's no later step where you are buying a lot of expensive shoes.

The word "fantasy" appears once in the set of mini-essays, and it's one by a man: "'Sex and the City' created an unrealistic fantasy for some women. I dated one." He has one anecdote to tell — it's about her preference for a brand-name bakery — and dismisses her with contempt:
Our relationship crumbled within weeks. It wasn’t until months after the breakup, while walking past that infamous bakery that I realized how the idolization of her basement apartment (on the perfect street!), the move, the shopping, the shoes and the disappointing birthday pastries were all linked to a fantastical life she saw through a TV series and rewatched exhaustively. It was a life I found too banal.

June 5, 2018

"A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill and whether you agree with it or not Dennis Rodman fits the bill."

Dennis Rodman will be in Singapore at the time of Trump's summit with Kim Jong-Un, the NY Post reports.
“I think [Kim] didn’t realize who Donald Trump was... until he started to read ['The Art of the Deal,' which Rodman gave him] and started to get to understand him. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are pretty much the same,” Rodman [said in April]... “I don’t want to take all the credit. I don’t want to sit there and say, ‘I did this, I did that.’ That’s not my intention.... My intention was to go over and be a sports ambassador to North Korea so people understand how the people are in North Korea. I think that has resonated to this whole point now.”

"Fifty years ago today, I awoke to a radio that was playing the famous recording from Mutual Broadcasting System reporter Andrew West, who was an eyewitness to Robert Kennedy’s assassination..."

"... at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Terrible little political junkie that I was, I had been up late watching returns from the California primary that RFK had just won — but not late enough to learn of the assassination that West’s panic-stricken voice indelibly described: 'Senator Kennedy has been … Senator Kennedy has been shot! Is that possible? It is possible, ladies and gentlemen! It is possible! He has … Not only Senator Kennedy! Oh my God! … I am right here, and Rafer Johnson has hold of the man who apparently fired the shot! He still has the gun! The gun is pointed at me right this moment! Get the gun! Get the gun! Get the gun! Stay away from the guy! Get his thumb! Get his thumb! Break it if you have to! Get the gun, Rafer [Johnson]! Hold him! We don’t want another Oswald!'"

Writes Ed Kilgore (at New York Magazine).

I too woke up that morning and turned on the radio — a red plastic radio — to hear the terrible news. Of all the assassinations of that era, it was the RFK assassination that had the deepest effect on me. It's hard for me to understand now why I projected so much youthful idealism onto Bobby (other than to remember the horror that was LBJ). With a couple friends, I impulsively took the bus into New York City to stand in line to file past the casket in St. Patrick's Cathedral. What a long somber line! We hadn't told our parents we were doing this, and the wait was so long and it got so late that our fear of upsetting our parents overwhelmed us and we left the line and rode the bus back home.

Such happy pretty things, stamped with a name now linked to suicide.

Here's the most cheerful of my Kate Spade bags...


"The designer Kate Spade, who created an accessories empire and whose handbags became a status symbol and a token of sophisticated adulthood for American women, was found dead on Tuesday. One of the first of a powerful wave of American female designers in the 1990s, Ms. Spade built a brand on the appeal of clothes and accessories that made women smile. Her cheerful lack of restraint and bright prints struck a chord with her consumers, many of them cosmopolitan women in the early stages of their careers. She embodied her own aesthetic, with her proto-1960s bouffant, nerd glasses and playful grin....." (NYT)

A view of the Lake.


Lake Monona, seen from Olbrich Garden.

This is an open thread. Say what you like!

"Elites Value Mellifluous Illegality over Crass Lawfulness."

Good headline at National Review for this, by Victor Davis Hanson. Excerpt:
We live in such strange times that the media ignored the most blatant examples of presidential campaign-cycle collusion in memory, while seeking to invent it where it never existed. Remember, Barack Obama on a hot mic not only got caught reiterating to a Russian leader the conditions of Putin-Obama election-cycle collusion, but he also spelled out the exact quid pro quo: promised Russian quietude abroad during Obama’s reelection campaign was in exchange for “flexibility” (i.e., cancellation) of U.S.-Eastern European missile-defense projects. Should Trump ever be caught making the same “deal” in 2020, he would probably be impeached.
I ran into that new piece because I was looking for something else written by Victor Davis Hanson that Meade was reading to me last night.

Ah! Here it is. It's at American Greatness:
Imagine that it is now summer 2024. A 78-year-old lame-duck President Trump is winding down his second term, basking in positive polls. His dutiful vice president in waiting, Mike Pence, is at last getting his chance to run for president. Imagine also that Pence is a shoo-in, facing long-shot, hard-leftist, and octogenarian Senator Bernie Sanders. Polls show an impending Pence landslide.

Team Trump is nevertheless horrified about the slight chance that the nation could conceivably elect an ossified, self-proclaimed socialist....
There follows a very elaborate visualization of the Trump administration doing to Sanders the equivalent of what the Obama administration did to Trump in 2016. We're used to these flips, of course, but this one was very striking to me because time after time I experience weird surprise to see (in flipped form) the things that really happened.

I'd excerpt some of the detail, but it's best experienced as a torrent of outrageous behavior.

"As part of its 'media monitoring,' the DHS seeks to track more than 290,000 global news sources as well as social media in over 100 languages..."

"... including Arabic, Chinese and Russian, for instant translation into English. The successful contracting company will have '24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.' in order to 'identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.' 'Any and all media coverage,' as you might imagine, is quite broad and includes 'online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media.' The database will be browsable by 'location, beat and type of influencer,' and for each influencer, the chosen contractor should 'present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.' One aspect of the media coverage to be gathered is its 'sentiment.' Anyone else just pull their blanket up over them a little more tightly? Just me?"

From "Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And 'Media Influencers'" (Forbes).

I see the word "bloggers" in there, so I guess I'll be insulted if I'm not included. Is the government going to determine my "sentiment"? I can't believe they could get it right. I'm not even sure you who read me all the time are getting it right, but I'd be interested to see just how the government would get it wrong.

"Where [Michael] Pollan truly shines is in his exploration of the mysticism and spirituality of psychedelic experiences."

"Many LSD or psilocybin trips — even good trips — begin with an ordeal that can feel scarily similar to dissolving, or even dying. What appears to be happening, in a neurological sense, is that the part of the brain that governs the ego and most values coherence — the default mode network, it’s called — drops away. An older, more primitive part of the brain emerges, one that’s analogous to a child’s mind, in which feelings of individuality are fuzzier and a capacity for awe and wonder is stronger. As one developmental psychologist tells Pollan, 'Babies and children are basically tripping all the time.'... [I]t probably doesn’t matter whether the doorway to heaven is in the dirt, among the fungi, or whether psychedelic visions are merely the churn of a poisoned brain. That’s the problem with psychedelics. They’re hard to talk about without sounding like an aspiring guru or credulous dolt. Michael Pollan, somehow predictably, does the impossible: He makes losing your mind sound like the sanest thing a person could do."

From "Michael Pollan Drops Acid — and Comes Back From His Trip Convinced," a NYT review of Michael Pollan's new book "HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND/What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence."

Apparently, the well-known writer broke the law to use the drugs that he's writing about, and I'm glad he did. I think human beings have a right to access substances that relate so strongly to the spiritual experience (unless the detrimental effects are well-established and serious).

ADDED: According to the reviewer (Tom Bissell), "nothing in Pollan’s book argues for the recreational use or abuse of psychedelic drugs." Who knows what Pollan thinks? But what he's arguing for is "psychedelic-aided therapy, properly conducted by trained professionals — what Pollan calls White-Coat Shamanism."

That may work (like medical marijuana) to loosen up public opinion, with the secret, unstated goal of authorizing "recreational" use. I'm putting "recreational" in quotes because I want access to the spiritual experience of LSD, and "recreational" seems to refer to shallow fun and nothing deep at all.

I'd use religious freedom arguments, and religion is not "recreation" (and please don't take that as a cue to launch into a sermon that begins with the observation that "recreation" could be "re-creation," blah blah blah). The word diminishes the experience.

I'd talk about freedom of thought and autonomy over one's mind and body and "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

I've talked about this quite a few times on this blog. In January 2015:
The question is what drugs, delusions, illusions, and visualizations should be in the array of choices available to individuals who are suffering? But once we get that far, why do we have to be suffering? If we're all free to have our own religion — true, semi-true, false, or ridiculous — why can't we all have our entheogens?
In April 2016, based on WaPo's "LSD could make you smarter, happier and healthier. Should we all try it?," I said:
Note the quick jump from "mystical experience" to "therapeutic outcomes." Disrespect for religion is an undercurrent to this discussion, which assumes the legal use would entail the assistance of medical professionals. The article quotes drug-policy expert Mark Kleiman, who "emphasizes the importance of containing the experience, both during the trip, for the purposes of safety, and afterward, 'so it’s not merely a one-off mystical experience, but actually something you could build a life around.'"

You can't build your life around a religious experience?
And whenever I read about the importance of the guidance of medical personnel, I think of this wonderful woman, submitting to a physician-assisted LSD trip in the 1950s (previously blogged here):

The doctor, attempting guidance, asks "Is it all one?" And she, from the spiritual realm, delivers the crushing, liberated response: "It would be all one if you weren't here."

"Talks between ABC and 'Roseanne' producers on a possible spinoff of the canceled multicamera comedy are building momentum."

Variety reports.
Several significant obstacles, however, remain to potentially prevent a version of the series from continuing without Barr. “Roseanne” is based on a character created by Barr, who could argue that she therefore has an ownership stake in any iteration that includes other characters created for the series, such as Sara Gilbert’s Darlene Conner, around whom much spinoff speculation has centered. Any situation in which Barr would stand to gain financially from a new series is considered unpalatable to ABC and producers.
Quite aside from Roseanne's intellectual property interests, how can the idea of the Roseanne family work without Roseanne?

I've been very sympathetic to Sara Gilbert and others who have lost their job, but feeling bad about them isn't a great springboard for comedy. I'm not going to donate my time sitting watching TV to a make-work program for actors I feel sorry for. I've been watching Gilbert in the media in the aftermath of Roseanne's stupid tweets. For example, "Sara Gilbert Is 'Sad for the People Who Lost Their Jobs' on Roseanne" (People). Sadness... where's the comedy?

Gilbert's contribution to the show was kind of always a sad face. Darlene is world-weary, bitter, depressed (or something like that). Gilbert's sad face was designed to confront Roseanne. Who will Darlene confront without Roseanne? Don't say Dan. Dan is a character designed to love Roseanne. For all her sharp edges, he brought the love. What's he for without her? Is he just going to comfort and cheer up sad-faced Darlene?! Where's the comedy?!

Roseanne is kicked out because she was outrageous. She played a classic comedy role — crossing the lines, being offensive, and the rest of them grounded her and invited us in to love the crazily free-wheeling lady of the house, and we had a lot of fun there. But they rejected her. They booted out the mother. After all her outrageous talk, she said the wrong thing one day, and she's a pariah. Go! We hate you! You name — the name of our show — is nothing among decent people now. But why were we visiting this house all these years?

And why would we go back after you threw out your mother?! Because racism is bad? Racism is bad whether we go visit your house or not. We're not going to visit your sad, boring house as an anti-racism demonstration.

Masterpiece Cakeshop is not a judicial masterpiece.

It's kind of a mess! It's the Cake Wrecks of opinions...

I'm reading Richard A. Epstein at SCOTUSblog, "The worst form of judicial minimalism — Masterpiece Cakeshop deserved a full vindication for its claims of religious liberty and free speech." And he wants something CLEAR!
Judicial minimalism may sound nice in theory. But where the court is faced with a clear question of high principle, the whole nation loses when it is handled in a muddled and ham-handed way. The Cakeshop fiasco needs to be put behind us. A decision that gives blanket exceptions for religious liberty on grounds of sincere belief does all that is needed to protect religion while leaving the basic structure of CADA intact. Pity that this Supreme Court decision opens yet another chapter in the endless culture wars.
In art and architecture, minimalism gets you to something sleek and simplified and instantly comprehensible. You get the opposite from judicial minimalism, which holds back from stating big clear rules and makes a special case out of this one case, resolves it, and leaves us on our own to figure out how like or unlike it is to the next case and whether this or that factor ought to tilt the outcome another way.

It's not aesthetically pleasing! Epstein offers a clear rule that he wishes the Supreme Court would adopt: "blanket exceptions for religious liberty on grounds of sincere belief." That's at the opposite end of the spectrum from the clear rule that Justice Scalia articulated in Employment Division v. Smith, which Epstein calls "one of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s worst opinions."

Scalia liked clear broad rules, and his rule — which is the Court's most important statement of the meaning of the Free Exercise Clause — is that the government can hold everyone — even those with religious compunctions — to "neutral, generally applicable" rules.

Smith was not judicial minimalism. And Masterpiece Cake doesn't question the big general rule of Smith. What Masterpiece Cake does is find a lack of neutrality: The government didn't get into the big safe harbor Smith's clear rule because it expressed hostility to religion. Don't do that, government, and you'll be out of the exception and into the big, non-minimalist rule.

So what the Court can't tell government exactly when hostility will be detected? Government is tasked with suppressing contempt for religion and making it seem as though religious people get treated with neutrality. That's the fuzziness Masterpiece Cake left us with, but that fuzziness was always there around the edges of Smith.

Don't let Epstein bamboozle you. He wants to flip Smith. And Antonin Scalia is not here to defend his legacy.