June 30, 2018

How to dress for the museum....





I like all these get-ups (but only the figure on the left in the third picture).

You're at the museum. People are in visual mode, paying attention. It's a good time to wear something to be looked at — something to charm and amuse.

Feel free to use this post as an open thread.

"Kathy Griffin goes for 3 funny hours at the Chicago Theatre without an opener or even a breath."

Writes Zach Freeman in the Chicago Tribune about the show Thursday night, which I attended.
Even knowing that she’s drawing it out, intentionally misdirecting the audience with segues that lead to further segues that lead back to earlier... topics, it’s hard to begrudge Griffin the time, as she manages to stay engaging and funny (if not completely linear) throughout her set. Her singular ability to turn a seemingly endless monologue into something that feels like a conversation (with a packed theater, no less) is captivating....

Just to be clear, three hours is almost unheard of for a stand-up show, especially for a touring headliner in a venue like the Chicago Theatre.... I’ve reviewed more than 50 comedians and I’ve only seen one other show where a single comic did more than two hours. It was Kathy Griffin, last year in Skokie at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. There’s no way around it: this tour is a comedy show styled as a rambling epic. And it’s masterful, even if it’s not a masterpiece....

Rather than cramming in so much material that she pushes up against the cut-off times for venues — “I have so much to get to in a half hour, I’m freaking out!” she remarked at 10:30 p.m. Thursday.... with a little editing, which could risk pulling in fewer laughs, but delivering a bigger payoff, it could go down as historical comedic commentary on freedom of speech, how the governmental apparatus can be used (or misused) and the place of comedians in pushing boundaries.
I liked the cramming and freaking out. It was the idea of the show. It was the theater of desperation and heroic fighting for survival. It didn't so much matter what she talked about. She had been knocked down hard by the media establishment. The story was presented in a short video before she leapt onto the stage and ran from one end to the other with her arms waving in the air, Rocky-style....

The audience, full of fans, went wild. A screaming standing O to begin. And she launched into her motor-mouthing and did not stop for 3 hours. And we were told there was a hard 11:00 deadline. She made talking into a sport, as if there was something she needed to get done in time or disaster would strike. It was a convincing imposition of time pressure, successfully used to create immense energy, even as, really, it should be mind-crushing to be yammered at for 3 hours by one person who endlessly digresses and frets about getting back to a list of subjects before the clock strikes eleven. I looked at my iPhone when she ended, and it was 10:59. Yay! She did it! Her self-imposed goal, which she made us believe in and care about. The crowd went wild, immense standing O to end it.

What were the jokes? Was anything really that funny? More than anything else, what I remember (2 days later) is the overall barrage of talk, spoken with constant excitement and urgency and how upbeat and fun it was. This wasn't dark comedy by a grumbling, angry outcast. This was continual I-will-survive mode and an insistent demand for love from this audience — You're all I have!!! — that was met every time by the adoring crowd.

I remember her being funny on the subject of Trump's phobia about walking down stairs. Does Trump have a phobia about stairs? I hadn't heard that one, but I've looked it up and there was at least a thing about Trump having a phobia about stairs. That's all she needs in her method. A rumor and idea that was out there, and then it's funny to just act like it is real and she's bringing the news, letting us in on details that she is somehow privy to.

But mostly there are  no particular jokes. There's rambling, frenetic, dramatic, crazed talk that will not end. By design, the part about how the government came after her for posing holding a ketchup-covered replica Trump head is squeezed right up against the hard 11:00 deadline. That was the idea! It doesn't need editing to make it fit more comfortably!!! Being unedited and wildly digressive and spontaneous and crashing into the curfew was the whole point!

Brilliantly done. Comedy as sport. Well played.

Recommended for me: "Woman's Bedding not Washed for 100 Years."

Is YouTube trying to hurt my feelings?

But I watched it.

Quite enjoyed it! The obsessive-compulsive people were funny, but I think the mansion is a haunted house tourist attraction, but it seems to be some British TV show, and they wouldn't scam us, would they, the British??

But YouTube did absolutely correctly figure out what I was looking for:

That's something I happened to watch at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago yesterday. Here's my photo of the room (which is included in the video above, because the video + the room = the installation):

Hito Steyerl was #1 in ArtReview's Power 100 ranking last year, by the way. See "What Does Hito Steyerl’s Power 100 Ranking Say About the Art World?/ArtReview’s anointing of Steyerl feels beacon-like in the current moment":
The evening after Hito Steyerl topped ArtReview’s annual Power 100 ranking, a devoted queue formed to view the German artist’s work Factory of the Sun at the opening of a group show at the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin....

In a list prioritizing influential ideas (the second and third positions are occupied by artist Pierre Huyghe and theorist Donna Haraway) Steyerl’s new Power 100 ranking merely reflects the buzz that already exists around this artist, theorist, and influential educator. This summer she presented Hell Yeah We Fuck Die at Skulptur Projekte Münster....

In an era when many people feel impotent in the face of corrupt cultural systems they cannot challenge, Steyerl takes a stand.....

At the Real-Person-as-Sculpture Café...


... you don't have to stand in the corner.

"Adolf Hitler adored the Ninth Symphony. Musicians waiting for their deaths in Nazi concentration camps were ordered to play it..."

"... metaphorically twisting its closing call to universal brotherhood and joy into a terrifying, sneering parody of all that strives for light in a human soul. More than four decades later, Leonard Bernstein conducted several performances to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, substituting the word 'freedom' for 'joy' in Friedrich Schiller’s 1785 poem to which Beethoven’s movement was set. And Emmanuel Macron chose this music as the backdrop for his victory speech after winning the French presidential election last year. Western classical music usually thinks of itself as being apolitical. But the Ninth is political. Beethoven saw it as political when he wrote it in the early 1820s. And his fellow Germans, looking for a sense of identity, embraced it with fervour. Beethoven’s Ninth became the musical flag of Germanness at a time when nationalism was a growing force in all of Europe. It also became a Romantic monument to the artist (Beethoven, in this case) as a special creature worthy of special treatment...."

From "'Ode to Joy' has an odious history. Let’s give Beethoven’s most overplayed symphony a rest" by John Terauds in The Star (where it is billed as "the first instalment of The Heretic, a series in which our writers express a wildly unpopular opinion"). I got to that article via a tweet from Terry Teachout, who said, "How utterly tired I am of such art-hating philistinism.."

Get ready.

"President Donald Trump appeared to return a call from a prankster posing as New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Bob Menendez during an Air Force One flight earlier this week..."

Bloomberg News reports.
Audio of an exchange with Trump and the pranksters was posted online by “The Stuttering John Podcast” and features the president speaking with a comedian, who pretends to be Menendez. In a three-minute conversation, the two men discussed the Supreme Court, the debacle over immigrant family separations and Menendez’s corruption trial.

The White House did not refute the authenticity of the audio, and declined to comment.
What a screwup by Trump's call screeners, but Trump just sounds like typical Trump in the recording. So it's not as juicy as the prank call that got through to Governor Scott Walker in February 2011, at the height of the Wisconsin protests:
I never thought Scott Walker’s people would be dumb enough to put me through....

I told Keith Gilkes, who was then Walker’s chief of staff, that the governor couldn’t return my call because “my goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” (In reality, I was calling with a free Skype number and couldn’t receive calls from a land line at the time.)

In my business, that’s called tipping your hand. All ethical liars do it. It’s the ridiculous, implausible hints that separate the ethical prankster from the confidence man, the satirist from the unrepentant political hack. But they didn’t get the joke, and soon Walker and I were comparing notes on how he could break the backs of those pro-union demonstrators....

At the appointed hour, Walker and I enjoyed a friendly chat during which I suggested that he physically intimidate his Democratic opposition with a baseball bat, whip up a good counter-protest by dressing hobos in suits and most disturbing: that he ought to plant troublemakers to discredit the pro-union demonstrators.

“[W]e thought about that,” Walker replied, and eventually added, “My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has to settle to avoid all these problems.” So it wasn’t morality, but a cynical calculation, that saved the public from that particular ruse.

Calling bullshit on calls for civility.

That's something I always do. That's what my tag "civility bullshit" means: Calls for civility are always bullshit, because the real motivation is political advantage. Usually, the civility-demander is trying to get opponents tone it down and not take advantage of whatever hot passion and energy they've got on their side.

Sometimes though, the civility-demander wants a faction of his own side to rein it in, because it might scare the moderates and interfere with the message that we are the sane, reasonable, smart people. When that happens, you can get some in fighting, with the supposedly uncivil people insisting that now is not the time to be civil. These people are calling bullshit.

For example, today, I'm seeing, in The Guardian, a piece by David Smith, "How the Red Hen affair broke America's civility wars wide open/A restaurant’s choice to eject Trump’s press secretary stoked debate on how liberals should behave in an era of outrage":
The Democratic party establishment has urged caution, and asked supporters to resist sinking to Trump’s level. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, said, “Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable”, while the Senate minority leader, Charles Schumer, said from the Senate floor that “the best solution is to win elections. That is a far more productive way to channel the legitimate frustrations with this president’s policies than with harassing members of his administration.”

But Pelosi and Schumer, aged 78 and 67 respectively, seem to have been left behind by liberal activists who believe that there can be no compromise in resisting Trump....

Neil Sroka, the communications director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, says: “It’s disappointing to see corporate Democrats hand-wringing over this. If they fall into the trap of the false equivalency, this is literally why we lose.

“I have a great deal of respect for Michelle Obama but I think 2016 showed us that ‘When they go low, we go high,’ does not work against Donald Trump. We have to be willing to call out the bigotry and the hate of this administration and make people feel uncomfortable for associating with that hate and bigotry.... The discussion of civility betrays how deep white supremacy is in our discourse. A black woman standing up there saying we should make these people uncomfortable becomes ‘uncivil'....”
And in The Atlantic, by Vann R. Newkirk II, "Protest Isn’t Civil/Attacks on incivility are rooted more in preserving the status quo than in addressing ongoing harms and violence":
Marginalized people remain at risk of being labeled “uncivil” for all but the most passive of disagreements. From outrage over black activists stopping cars in San Francisco to essays that lectured Women’s March participants for signs that “send a message of hostility to those conservatives and Trump voters,” to the two-year-long freakout about Colin Kaepernick’s choice to kneel, cries to return to civility often overshadow the actual violence being targeted by protest. Remarkably, the current national hand-wringing was provoked by two legal and entirely nonviolent methods of protest. Denying a senior administration official a meal is perfectly legal in Virginia; Waters advocated a campaign of public shaming, not acts of violence.

The term civility itself is more a reflection of majority-enforced social norms than of a proven set of rules for effective debate. Ironically, a country founded on on tea-dumping, property-smashing, and norm-breaking has as its major bipartisan project a robust defense of social norms. [Martin Luther King Jr.] understood this dynamic well, and even applied it to riots in the inner-city. “A riot is the language of the unheard,” King famously said in his “The Other America” speech....

What King understood was that civility stood not as a companion or a near-synonym to his project of radical, militant nonviolence, but as its most insidious opponent. King and his intellectual forebears engineered nonviolence specifically as a tool that would break the violent foundations of white supremacy, and doing so necessarily meant disrupting order and breaking the law. The current model of civility counsels accommodation to violent power, but that course of action is actually antithetical to the Kingian project...

The cruel irony is that the success of King’s own project has made the call for more civility from America’s aggrieved groups all the more routine. Poor people, immigrants, black activists, and perhaps LGBT employees at a restaurant in Virginia are bludgeoned into silence by the constant cry for civility, made to hold still as injustices are visited upon them. Meanwhile, those with no real fear that they’ll ever wind up on the wrong side of the power dynamic in America can scold and hector.....

Civility is an instinct that only serves to silence them. It is itself wielded as a cudgel against those already facing obliteration that dictates to them how they must face it. It snuffs out nonviolent and violent protest alike. Civility is the sleep-aid of a majority inclined to ignore the violence done in its name—because in the end, they will be alright.
Notice that complaints about calls for civility can also be one-sided. My "civility bullshit" theme treats everyone the same. I don't think Newkirk and Smith have my perspective. They think that their side can dispense with civility, and they don't like being told to stand down by people who are supposed to be their allies.

"He said that he lost his job with the Walt Disney Company — on the first day — when he stood up in its commissary (with company executives watching) and..."

"... described how he wanted to make an animated pornographic film starring Mickey and Minnie Mouse."

Just one sentence in the NYT obituary for Harlan Ellison.

The headline calls him a "science fiction writer" even though it contains the quote from him, "Call me a science fiction writer... I’ll come to your house and I’ll nail your pet’s head to a coffee table. I’ll hit you so hard your ancestors will die."

I had a tag for Harlan Ellison. It was because of one post (written in 2013):
"We need more harlequins, fewer ticktockmen."

Said Icepick in last night's thread about Boston banning drinking games in bars. He began:
I recently read "The Scouring of the Shire" chapter from Return of the King. It was disturbing how much the Shire under (ultimately) Saruman's direction sounded like modern America. The country is being run by over-officious jerks, and the American people are putting up with it. Land of the free no more....
And then:
We need more harlequins, fewer ticktockmen.
A link goes to the Harlan Ellison story "Repent Harlequin!' Said The Ticktockman." 

Icepick advises:
Professor, I believe you need some more tags. One for over-officiousness, and perhaps tags for harlequins (see Swartz, for example) and for ticktockmen (anything with Bloomberg).
Ellison begins his story with a quote from Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience":
The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailors, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purposes as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the Devil, without intending it, as God. A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it.
Ellison introduces that quote with: "There are always those who ask, what is it all about? For those who need to ask, for those who need points sharply made, who need to know 'where it's at,' this...."

That story was published in 1965, when the phrase "where it's at" was quite the thing

ADDED: I just bought "Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century," which contains "Repent Harlequin!"

The third thing I did in Chicago.

From the triad of things I said I was doing at least one of which would disgust nearly everyone:


I'll write my thoughts on the show in a little while. And I still owe you a post about what I thought about Kathy Griffin's show. But first, writing from Trump International Hotel in Chicago, I'm going to do some posts that bounce off the morning news, in my typical style.

Why did I think you might find "The Cher Show" disgusting? Click on the tag "Cher" to see how the grande dame may have offended you in the last few years.

June 29, 2018

At the Blue Green Café...


... drip and flow... and triangulate.

Trump predicts his new Supreme Court Justice will serve for 40 (or 45) years.

Let's look at his list of potential nominees, find the youngest, and calculate how old they'd be after 40 years. USA Today put it in graphic form:

So Trump has it easily within his power to make his prediction dream come true. Wyrick could even go 50 years! How strange to think that we could know today who should be making who knows what decisions half a century from now!

Did that graphic help you contemplate the issue of a President's taking extreme advantage the concept of lifetime terms for Supreme Court Justices? Do you remember when USA Today was new, and its use of graphics was key to its branding?
The design was unique in its incorporation of colorized graphics and photographs...  The paper's overall content style and elevated use of graphics – the result of the concept developed by Neuharth, in contribution with staff graphics designers George Rorick, Sam Ward, Suzy Parker, John Sherlock and Web Bryant – was derided by critics, who referred to it as "McPaper" or "television you can wrap fish in," because it opted to incorporate more concise, shorter-form nuggets of information akin to the style of television news rather than in-depth stories in many of its sections like traditional newspapers, which many in the newspaper industry considered to be a dumbing down of the news.
Gary Trudeau's 1988 book "We're Eating More Beets" was part of the derision:

“Isn’t it a new world between men and women now? We’ve got to really, really be vigilant. Ever vigilant. I put my arm around my wife the other day..."

"... and literally my arm, like it was an electric charge... I put my arm around my wife’s waist and then went, ‘Oh, I’m sorry! Was that inappropriate?'"

That's Alec Baldwin talking to Jerry Seinfeld in an upcoming episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."

Has the #MeToo movement affected you too? Have you been wondering, Oh my God, have I been raping my wife all these years?

Here's a teaser for Jerry's new season. It doesn't have the Alec Baldwin line it it. I'm just adding it here because I enjoyed it...

... there now, back to the question legitimately (if hilariously) raised by Alec Baldwin: Do you need to reexamine what you've been doing to your wife all these years... and what she's been doing to you? And for women readers: Has #MeToo caused you to wonder if you should enforce stronger boundaries? Or is it just fine that you've given yourself fully to each other and that there's a floating, ongoing "yes" that applies until there's an actual, verbalized "no"?

Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have front-page articles touting Chief Justice John Roberts as the new "swing vote."

From The New York Times, "With Kennedy Gone, Roberts Will Be the Supreme Court’s Swing Vote":
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became more moderate when Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and Justice Thurgood Marshall left the court, said Michael C. Dorf, a Cornell Law School professor who clerked for Justice Kennedy, and Justice Kennedy likewise moved to the center when Justice O’Connor departed.

“It could manifest in compromise positions in his taking substantively more moderate stances on issues,” Mr. Dorf said. “He might want to go slowly before taking an abortion case or an affirmative action case, or a same-sex marriage case to potentially overturn Justice Kennedy’s handiwork.”...

Mr. Dorf said that Chief Justice Roberts might act differently now that Justice Kennedy — often the deciding vote in those cases — was gone, much like congressional leaders spare their most vulnerable members of Congress from casting deciding votes on politically difficult issues....

“The best hope is to appeal to the chief’s sense of the court as a special, above-politics institution,” [said David S. Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University]. “Overruling [Roe v. Wade or the same-sex marriage case] in these circumstances would make the court and its justices appear like petty politicians.... [But] these justices don’t get to the point they are at in life without being political actors.... and this may be his political goal.”
From The Washington Post, "Roberts gets another key role on Supreme Court: Swing vote" (that's the front-page teaser headline, inside it's "If it wasn’t the Roberts court already, it is the Roberts court now"):
A court in which Kennedy is replaced by another Trump choice “is also likely to encourage conservative legal activists to shoot for the stars — look for cases seeking to overrule Roe v. Wade, reverse or undermine LGBTQ rights, including marriage equality, and erode the progress toward racial justice that the civil rights movement has fought tirelessly to have recognized by an often recalcitrant court,” [said Elizabeth B. Wydra, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center].

Such bold action is not usually Roberts’s style, and the Supreme Court is institutionally averse to overturning precedents, a legal principle called stare decisis. Roberts’s preferred path, his defenders and detractors say, involves limiting the court’s precedents rather than reversing them....

Leah Litman, a liberal law professor at the University of California at Irvine, said the justices need not overturn the same-sex marriage decision to undermine it. “They could recognize a right for religious objectors not to marry LGB individuals; not to serve them; not to provide them health care; not to allow them to adopt,” she wrote.....

Michael McConnell, a former Republican-nominated federal judge and head of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, said... “If Justice Kennedy is replaced with an interesting, relatively non-doctrinaire conservative (like the best names on Trump’s list) this could augur a more fluid court with a more substantive middle and fewer 5-4 splits,” he wrote in an email.... "Every action seems to have a countervailing reaction,” McConnell said. “It would not surprise me to see a few of the conservative justices breaking more frequently with the liberal side. The court as an institution does not like to see itself as the instrument of an ideological movement.”
ADDED: The center position is so powerful. Having seen the attention and (faux) adulation given to Justice Kennedy over the years, the Justices must be eyeing the vacancy. Some new person will get Kennedy's seat, but he is likely to be a staunch conservative like Gorsuch. The real vacancy we're seeing is in the "swing vote" position, and any Justice could feel pulled to try to sit there. Now, the liberals can't really aspire to occupy the position, but one of them, probably Justice Kagan, might become the force behind the swinging of one of the conservatives, and Roberts is the most likely to get swung. I picture Roberts seeing an opportunity to improve the reputation of the Court and to overcome the overt political look it's acquired over the years. I think there should be more elegant ways to do that than to simply throw his vote to the liberal 4 now and then. But if that's all he can do, I suspect he will.

"Josh McKerrow, left, a staff photographer, and Pat Furgurson, a staff reporter, worked Thursday on the next day’s newspaper from a pickup truck in a mall parking garage in Annapolis."

Caption on a photograph at the NYT article "5 People Dead in Shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette Newsroom."

One could have walked past the pickup truck in the mall parking garage and not known what the two men had been through and what they were working on. Don't you just wonder what you walk past every day? Life is full of so many interesting things.
To live, you must walk on past infinite interesting things, but it is worth stopping to think that there is a world inside every human being. Some other 2 men in a truck in the mall parking garage might be slacking off, wasting their time, throwing their life away. You don't know what you are looking at as you go on your way.

I'm doing 3 things in Chicago "and nearly everyone will be disgusted by at least one of them."

So I said a couple days ago. I've already revealed that I am staying at the Trump Hotel, but many of you are not disgusted by that. For those of you, I add my second reveal. Here's what I did last night:


June 28, 2018

At the Room Service Café...


... I've been up for hours...


... and the $50 breakfast is in tatters.

It's time for me to descend to the streets and see what disgusting things are on display. Could you please keep the blog warm?

"Big dick energy does not care for your pathetic gender binary and will not pander to it."

"Chris Hemsworth wielding a ludicrously big hammer with arms the size of cows and yelling a lot? Feeble big dick energy. Cate Blanchett simply standing there smirking, but, like, only using her eyes somehow? Powerful, powerful big dick energy."

From "Big dick energy: what is it, who has it and should we really care?/It is a phrase that is ‘a thing’, according to the collective wisdom of the internet – but do you have BDE?" in The Guardian.

"Some conquistadors wrote about the tzompantli and its towers, estimating that the rack alone contained 130,000 skulls."

"But historians and archaeologists knew the conquistadors were prone to exaggerating the horrors of human sacrifice to demonize the Mexica culture. As the centuries passed, scholars began to wonder whether the tzompantli had ever existed. Archaeologists at the National Institute of Anthropology and History... can now say with certainty that it did. Beginning in 2015, they discovered and excavated the remains of the skull rack and one of the towers underneath a colonial period house on the street that runs behind Mexico City's cathedral.... The scale of the rack and tower suggests they held thousands of skulls, testimony to an industry of human sacrifice unlike any other in the world...."

From "Feeding the gods: Hundreds of skulls reveal massive scale of human sacrifice in Aztec capital" (Science).

Room service option not chosen.

I did order room service breakfast from a menu that had this...

... but I got a huge meal for a mere one-tenth of that.

(Click the image for an enlarged, clearly readable view.)

A "Madison, Wisconsin man" crime makes it into the Washington Post.

"A man put a camera in his shoe for some ‘upskirting’ shots. It exploded on his foot."

It's the lamest sexual offense imaginable — looking for women in skirts and trying to get a glimpse at what's up under there, but only in the form of a photograph. The man never got a photograph before the battery malfunctioned, injuring his foot. In fact, he hadn't even left his home. So he wasn't caught, he turned himself in. He turned himself in because he'd sought counseling from "a clergyman" who told him that's what he should do.

Here's how the story appeared on the blog of the Madison Chief of Police, Mike Koval:
5) WEST: Information/Sex Offense – 5:24pm. Officers at the West Police District station were contacted by a subject (32-year-old HM) who wanted to turn himself in to police. The subject reported he had purchased a shoe camera that he intended to use to take "upskirt" videos of females, but the camera battery had exploded prior to obtaining any video, injuring the subject's foot. The subject was counseled on his actions and released from the scene as no illicit video had been taken. Investigation continuing.
I'm glad this man is not named. This is a real "go and sin no more" situation.

"And no rule of civility demands the confirmation of justices who would leave an abusive president unchecked and use raw judicial power to roll back a century’s worth of social progress."

"There is nothing civil about rushing a nominee to replace Kennedy before the midterm elections."

Well, that's the perfect embodiment of what I mean by my tag "civility bullshit."

It's from E.J. Dionne Jr., "Don’t want a right-wing Supreme Court? Do everything you can to stop it" (WaPo). Everything?!
All the recent talk about civility should not stop opponents of a right-wing court from doing everything in their power to keep the judiciary from being packed with ideologues who behave as partisans.
It seems to me Trump won the election and he has the appointment power. He made Supreme Court appointments an issue and was strikingly clear about who he would appoint. I understand the motivation to oppose and obstruct him, but I don't think opposing him or going down without a fight has anything to do with civility. If those who want Trump's nominee confirmed are talking about civility, then they are the one's doing civility bullshit, and Dionne is just calling them on it.

But Dionne is doing a little something more: "There is nothing civil about rushing... no rule of civility demands confirmation...." He's gesturing (weakly) at the idea that there is something uncivil about rushing and that there is a rule of civility that demands that the Senate wait. The thing gestured at is hard to defend, so why not dribble out statements about what is not and avoid the trouble of making the difficult point? I'll say that too is a kind of civility bullshit.

But most of Dionne's civility bullshit is out and proud: He doesn't care about civility when it holds his side back. Because the other side is so awful it doesn't deserve the niceties that developed in the mythical past when good people amicably jousted over differences.

A Trump conundrum: Is Crowley "slovenly" because he got his "ass kicked" or did he get his "ass kicked" because he is "slovenly"?

The quote (via CNN) from Trump's rally last night in North Dakota is: "A slovenly man named Joe Crowley got his ass kicked by a young woman who had a lot of energy. She had a lot of energy. I guess he didn't see it. They couldn't find him."

I don't think I've ever heard the word "slovenly" used as a political insult. I tend to think of the meaning as relating to physical appearance —"Untidy, dirty; habitually careless, indolent, or negligent with regard to appearance, personal hygiene, household cleanliness, etc." (OED) — which makes it seem like a gratuitous personal insult. But it also relates to activities: "Careless, negligent, or sloppy with regard to any activity" (OED).

And in that sense, it's exactly the right word, and the answer to the conundrum is that Trump meant to say Crowley lost because he was slovenly. He didn't see that his opponent had the potential to win, and he didn't take the trouble to fight her off, and now the Democrats are left with a candidate whose strength has not been tested.

So the meaning of the word was perfect, and the sound of the word was also great — poetry, even — Crowley/slovenly. Maybe there's a word for the type of rhyme where the second syllable is identical and the first syllable is a near-rhyme. In my mind, the "ly" falls away, and I see "crow" more clearly. Crowley eats crow. "Crow" and "sloven" — the sloven crow. Sloven Crow sounds so great, I'd like there to be a restaurant with that name. Or a rock band.

"Sloven" is a great and underused word. It takes me back to a poem I memorized in childhood: And the sloven, I declare/Never once has comb’d his hair...

June 27, 2018

I happened on the Kennedy retirement story as I was flipping channels on the car radio.

I was so sure there would be no retirement announcement today. I think the Justices cling to the bench until Death calls for a vacancy. But no. Kennedy retires, and he retires in time for Trump to nominate someone who can be confirmed before the next election works its will on the Senate.

I was away from the blog — driving 100+ miles — but that did give me the opportunity to listen to the cable news channels (via satellite radio) far more than I'd ever put up with them if I were home and in a position to read and write. TV news is such as waste of time. Kennedy was the swing vote, and lawyers fine-tuned their arguments for him. I heard that over and over, with virtually no critical opinion about whether it was bad to have years of key Supreme Court decisions determined by the quirks of one human mind.

But that wasn't the main topic. The main topic — over and over again — was whether the Democratic Senators had any chance to delay the vote on the nominee until after the 2018 elections, which might give Democrats a majority in the Senate. I didn't hear anyone talking about whether a post-election vote on the nominee would help the Democratic Party win the Senate majority.

I think it would not. Voters tend to agree with the GOP's idea of what makes a good Justice — basically, judicial restraint. I don't think it will help Democrats in the elections to be saying give us the majority so we can block Trump's nominee (who will be a specific person, with great credentials, and an originalist, nonactivist judicial philosophy). They'll be better off if the vote has already happened and they can forefront other issues.

Some people may think it's so important to prevent Trump from nailing down a strong conservative majority on the Court, but Democrats would need to win the Senate majority to gain the power to thwart Trump's plan, and this issue hurts them. Anyway, that's something they can soothe themselves with if they fail to delay the confirmation vote, which they almost certainly will.

But maybe you're distracted by the question why did Althouse drive 100+ miles? I'm doing something that will disgust some of you! Actually, I'm doing 3 things, and nearly everyone will be disgusted by at least one of them.

At the Best Day Ever Café...


... it could be today. In a sense, it's always today. Because what can you do with any other day?

ADDED: And then that Kennedy thing happened...

"Supreme Court today affirms what we did years ago -- gives public servants the freedom to choose whether they want to be in union or not. Pro-worker & pro-taxpayer! Great day!"

Tweets Scott Walker.


And here's the Trump reaction:

"That fact that we’re at Walmart is pretty irrelevant. It could just as easily be Target, Amazon.com, or even Canadian Tire. They all offer the same thing..."

"... bikes built and assembled to the lowest spec possible. With names like trouble, wipeout, ambush, and carnage, these bikes deliver what they promise, but today we’re staying optimistic.... We settled on a pair of Genesis V2100’s.... We’d be relying on these bikes for over 5000 feet of elevation change..... For $149, Alex and I were taking part in an activity enjoyed by the likes of dentists and jewelers, with their pretty $6000 bikes. What do those bikes do that these can’t anyway?..."

I was so sure there would be no announcement of a retirement on the Supreme Court's last day...

... that I walked away from the computer for over an hour and didn't even think of looking to see what happened.

Here's what SCOTUSblog said, responding to the question "any sign of Kennedy retiring?"
He did not announce a retirement from the bench before the justices adjourned. Some justices (O'Connor and Brennan are two examples) have announced retirements over the summer, fwiw.
Here's how you voted on my poll while we were waiting for the Court to get through its announcements:

UPDATE: This post is funny now! I was so sure...

Supreme Court holds "that union fees violate 'the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.'"

SCOTUSblog reports on the 5-4 decision in Janus.

Here's the PDF of the opinion.

SCOTUSblog writes:
In reasonably plain English: This is a case about whether government employees who are represented by a union to which they do not belong can be required to pay a fee to cover the costs of collective bargaining. The plaintiff in this case, an Illinois state employee, argued that having to pay the fees violates the First Amendment. Today the Court agreed, ruling for the employee and against the union.
The important idea here is that unions for government employees are different from other unions and that everything they do, including bargaining for wages, is political, because they are making a deal with the government. I want to look at the opinion to see how this idea is discussed.

From the opinion (written by Justice Alito):
In addition to affecting how public money is spent, union speech in collective bargaining addresses many other important matters.... [U]nions express views on a wide range of subjects—education, child welfare, healthcare, and minority rights, to name a few... What unions have to say on these matters in the context of collective bargaining is of great public importance.... Even union speech in the handling of grievances may be of substantial public importance and may be directed at the “public square.” ....

[W]e conclude that public-sector agency-shop arrangements violate the First Amendment, and Abood erred in concluding otherwise. There remains the question whether stare decisis nonethe­less counsels against overruling Abood. It does not.... An important factor in determining whether a precedent should be overruled is the quality of its reasoning....

Abood... did not sufficiently take into account the difference between the effects of agency fees in public- and private-sector collective bargaining. The challengers in Abood argued that collective bargaining with a govern­ment employer, unlike collective bargaining in the private sector, involves “inherently ‘political’ ” speech. The Court did not dispute that characterization, and in fact conceded that “decisionmaking by a public employer is above all a political process” driven more by policy concerns than economic ones....

We recognize that the loss of payments from nonmem­ bers may cause unions to experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term, and may require unions to make adjustments in order to attract and retain members. But we must weigh these disadvantages against the consider­ able windfall that unions have received under Abood for the past 41 years. It is hard to estimate how many bil­ lions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment. Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.
From Justice Kagan:
Unlike the majority, I see nothing “questionable” about Abood’s analysis.... The decision’s account of why some government entities have a strong interest in agency fees (now often called fair-share fees) is fundamentally sound. And the balance Abood struck between public employers’ interests and public employees’ expression is right at home in First Amendment doctrine.

"Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, once seen as a possible successor to Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader of the House, suffered a shocking primary defeat on Tuesday..."

"... the most significant loss for a Democratic incumbent in more than a decade, and one that will reverberate across the party and the country. Mr. Crowley was defeated by a 28-year-old political newcomer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, who had declared it was time for generational, racial and ideological change.... Mr. Crowley, the No. 4 Democrat in the House, had drastically outspent his lesser-known rival to no avail, as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign was lifted by an aggressive social media presence and fueled by attention from national progressives hoping to flex their muscle in a race against a potential future speaker...."

The NYT reports.

Is the Democratic Party as we've known it getting dragged too far left? What does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mean? Maybe Crowley just didn't take the threat seriously.
Ten days before the primary, Mr. Crowley skipped a debate against Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, and instead sent a surrogate, a Latina former city councilwoman. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez called it “a bizarre twist” on Twitter to be seated across from someone “with slight resemblance to me” instead of her opponent.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez used the moment to generate a fresh wave of publicity in the race’s crucial closing days.
I've long thought it's a rule of thumb that the better looking candidate wins. I don't know what flipped this primary — and she won by 15 percentage points — but Ocasia-Cortez looks absolutely fantastic.

And here's Crowley — after he lost — playing "Born to Run" for the crowd:

"We’re live-blogging as the Supreme Court releases its final two opinions from October Term 2017... the last chance for a verbal retirement announcement from the bench before the summer."

At SCOTUSblog this morning, with the action beginning in about an hour.

The last 2 cases are Florida v. Georgia — a water rights case — and Janus v. AFSCME, which is a very big deal: "Whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled and public-sector 'agency shop' arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment." It's basically known that Alito is writing for the majority in Janus, and the consequences of this decision for the Democratic Party are monumental — I think! — so instead of waiting quietly for the Supreme Court bombshell, I'm going to write a new post about what happened to the Democratic Party in that New York primary yesterday.

The possibility of a retirement announcement is exciting, so let me give you this:

Predict whether we'll hear about a retirement today:
pollcode.com free polls
ADDED: No retirements announced. Here's how you voted:

Jerry Seinfeld asks — about Roseanne — "Why would you murder someone who's committing suicide?"

He's not making a whole lot of sense...
"I didn't see why it was necessary to fire her," Seinfeld said. "Why would you murder someone who's committing suicide?"

"But I never saw someone ruin their entire career with one button push," he added. "That was fresh."...

"I think they should get another Roseanne," he advised. "They brought Dan Conner back, he was dead and they brought him back. So, why can't we get another Roseanne? There's other funny women that could do that part. You need to get the comic in there. I hate to see a comic lose a job."
1. "Why would you murder someone who's committing suicide?" Answer: Because you want credit as the murderer.

2. "But I never saw someone ruin their entire career with one button push," is a way to gesture at saying it's wrong to take down a great comedian because of one bad joke. We lose a lot, the comedian is over-punished — I'd like to see Jerry compare Roseanne's fate to what happened to Michael Richards — and there's a vast, amorphous chilling of the speech of comedians. Test out one joke, and it might be the joke that kills you. Better be safe! Better be dull.

3. "There's other funny women that could do that part" — Does Jerry really think that the comic persona Roseanne developed in years of stand-up work and brought to television could simply be taken from her and given to somebody else, that Roseanne has no intellectual property interest in the creation that is her life's work? Just let somebody else play her? Putting my outrage about that to the side, I remember the "Seinfeld" episodes where there was going to be a TV show about the Seinfeld characters and actors were auditioned to play the various roles:

Very funny, but Jerry still played Jerry. And those episodes were written by Larry David, whose standup comic persona was appropriated as the George character on "Seinfeld" and always played by another actor (Jason Alexander). But imagine if "Seinfeld" had begun with Larry David playing Jerry's friend, and then one day Larry said something that struck everyone as racist, so they dumped him and at that point handed the role to Jason Alexander.

Jerry might say: There's other funny men that could do that part. We need to get a comic in there. I don't want to cut the character. I want give a comic a job.

But what about Larry? I guess he could walk away and start another show, an even better show. That's what I've said I'd like to see Roseanne do. But she can't find a home at HBO like Larry did. Because she's a Trumper.

This advice column's headline — "Why are 'feminist' men the worst boyfriends?" — leaves out the key word.

I'm reading the advice column in Isthmus, the Madison, Wisconsin alternative newspaper, and the question as asked is: "why are self-proclaimed feminist men the worst boyfriends?"

Maybe the headline writer thought the scare quotes would do the trick, but I think that word "self-proclaimed" is crucial, especially since the headline lures in people who think they're going to read something provocative about how a man dedicated to feminist values isn't going to meet a woman's deep-down needs. Do not click if that's what you're looking for. The columnist simply takes the position that the man — who, we're told, "does whatever he wants, my needs be damned" — is just a fake and not a feminist at all. The solution is go get a real feminist man. But where will she get him? Here's where she found the "fake" one:
We traveled in the same local circles, working on campaigns for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mary Burke and other liberal candidates. He’s a feminist, an environmentalist, a passionate advocate for civil rights.... I got to know him during the protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 and developed a huge crush.
I don't know if the letter-writer will find a "real" feminist man there and male feminism will manifest itself in a beautiful, giving form, but the letter-writer is given another task, ruining the man's reputation in the lovely group of local campaign workers:
[S]pread the word about this hypocrite. It sounds like his reputation deserves a hit so future potential girlfriends know what they’re getting into.

June 26, 2018

At the Spiderweb Café...


... what have you caught in your web?

(Here's the Althouse Portal to Amazon where you can snag various juicy consumer goods, such as this collection of 10 preserved insects, this mixed bag of edible insects, and — in case, unlike the spider, you want to repel the little buggers — this eucalyptus stuff.)

"You leave my husband alone!"

Elaine Chao is tough:

She looks so good here that I had to wonder whether the whole thing was staged. But WaPo tells it like this:
Protesters confronted Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday over migrant family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, a sign that outrage over the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policy is not abating.

Chao and McConnell, who are married, were about to climb into a black SUV when they were approached by a small group of young men at Georgetown University. One started repeating, “Why are you separating families?”

A short confrontation ensued. “Why you don’t leave my husband alone? Why you don’t leave my husband alone?” Chao responded as McConnell got into the SUV.
Chao and McConnell are leaving an event. This would be worse if they were confronted at their home. The men probably see themselves as behaving in a mild manner, but thronging around a woman — a 5'3", 65-year-old woman — looks terrible, and Chao got a huge advantage out of this, because she looks courageous, poised,  and nervy.

The Harley aura.

Trump wins the travel ban case.

Here's the PDF of the Supreme Court case, issued just now.
ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, THOMAS, ALITO, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., and THOMAS, J., filed concurring opinions. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KAGAN, J., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, J., joined.
From the Roberts opinion:
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States undergo a vetting process to ensure that they satisfy the numerous requirements for admission. The Act also vests the Presi- dent with authority to restrict the entry of aliens whenever he finds that their entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” 8 U. S. C. §1182(f). Relying on that delegation, the President concluded that it was necessary to impose entry restrictions on nationals of countries that do not share adequate information for an informed entry determination, or that otherwise present national security risks....

By its plain language, §1182(f) grants the President broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States. The President lawfully exercised that discretion based on his findings—following a worldwide, multi-agency review—that entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the national interest. And plaintiffs’ attempts to identify a conflict with other provisions in the INA, and their appeal to the statute’s purposes and legislative history, fail to overcome the clear statutory language....

Moreover, plaintiffs’ request for a searching inquiry into the persuasiveness of the President’s justifications is inconsistent with the broad statutory text and the deference traditionally accorded the President in this sphere....
In section IV of the opinion the Court looks at"the claim that the Proclamation was issued for the unconstitutional purpose of excluding Muslims." First, the Court finds standing based on the "the alleged real-world effect that the Proclamation has had in keeping them separated from certain relatives who seek to enter the country." Looking at the substantive merits, the question is whether "singling out Muslims for disfavored treatment" violates the Establishment Clause."

The Supreme Court is about to announce new decisions — probably something big today.

Keep an eye on the SCOTUSblog live blog!
A reminder that we are expecting the justices to announce opinions in order of reverse seniority. So if we are expecting Alito to write Janus and Breyer to write Fla v. GA, we would get Janus first if those were the opinions for today. Roberts always goes last, and Thomas (who could have NIFLA) would be next to last.
UPDATE: First is Thomas with NIFLA. 5-4.
This case is a First Amendment challenge to a California law that imposes two different sets of requirements on crisis pregnancy centers – non-profits, often affiliated with Christian groups, that oppose abortion. First, it requires centers that are licensed to provide medical services to inform their patients that free or low-cost abortions are available. Second, it requires centers that are not licensed to provide medical services to include in their advertisements disclaimers to make clear that their services do not include medical help.

The court reverses on both notice requirements.
Here's the opinion PDF.

Here's the part about Communists and Nazis:
Throughout history, governments have “manipulat[ed] the content of doctor-patient discourse” to increase state power and suppress minorities:
“For example, during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese physicians were dispatched to the countryside to convince peasants to use contraception. In the 1930s, the Soviet government expedited completion of a construction project on the Siberian railroad by ordering doctors to both reject requests for medical leave from work and conceal this government order from their patients. In Nazi Germany, the Third Reich systematically violated the separation between state ideology and medical discourse. German physicians were taught that they owed a higher duty to the ‘health of the Volk’ than to the health of individual patients. Recently, Nicolae Ceausescu’s strategy to increase the Romanian birth rate included prohibitions against giving advice to patients about the use of birth control devices and disseminating information about the use of condoms as a means of preventing the transmission of AIDS.” Berg, Toward a First Amendment Theory of Doctor-Patient Discourse and the Right To Receive Unbiased Medical Advice, 74 B. U. L. Rev. 201, 201– 202 (1994) (footnotes omitted).
Justice Kennedy has a short concurring opinion that is joined by Roberts, Alito, and Gorsuch. Excerpt:
The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of “forward thinking.” App. 38–39. But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to “be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.” Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U. S. 705, 715 (1977). It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come. Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.
Breyer is reading his dissent. I'm reading it too. Excerpt:
Abortion is a controversial topic and a source of normative debate, but the availability of state resources is not a normative statement or a fact of debatable truth. The disclosure includes information about resources available should a woman seek to continue her pregnancy or terminate it, and it expresses no official preference for one choice over the other. Similarly, the majority highlights an interest that often underlies our decisions in respect to speech prohibitions—the market- place of ideas. But that marketplace is fostered, not hin- dered, by providing information to patients to enable them to make fully informed medical decisions in respect to their pregnancies.

Of course, one might take the majority’s decision to mean that speech about abortion is special, that it involves in this case not only professional medical matters, but also views based on deeply held religious and moral beliefs about the nature of the practice... We have previously noted that we cannot try to adjudicate who is right and who is wrong in this moral debate. But we can do our best to interpret American constitutional law so that it applies fairly within a Nation whose citizens strongly hold these different points of view. That is one reason why it is particularly important to interpret the First Amendment so that it applies evenhandedly as between those who disagree so strongly. For this reason too a Constitution that allows States to insist that medical providers tell women about the possibility of adoption should also allow States similarly to insist that medical providers tell women about the possibility of abortion....
UPDATE: Trump just won on the travel ban. Roberts writes. New post up for discussion on that. Keep this comments thread for the abortion-speech case.

My Congressman, Mark Pocan, proposes eliminating ICE and "a commission to provide recommendations" for "a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
“During my trip to the southern border, it was clear that ICE, and its actions of hunting down and tearing apart families, has wreaked havoc on far too many people," Pocan said.

"Unfortunately," Pocan continued, "President Trump and his team of white nationalists, including Stephen Miller, have so misused ICE that the agency can no longer accomplish its goals effectively."
Here's the reaction from the newspapers' readers — mainly (I think!) us liberal Madisonian:

To be fair to Pocan, maybe all those mad faces are not mad at him for proposing eliminating law enforcement and studying what could be done instead. Maybe some of them are mad at the inhumanity Pocan envisions triumphing over (or mad because he's making it too easy for the GOP to sell the argument that Democrats want open borders).

"For these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend [Trump], they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop [at] a department store."

"The people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them," said the Democratic Party's Congresswoman Maxine Waters, quoted in "Maxine Waters shows why the Sarah Huckabee Sanders-Red Hen story is extremely important" by Aaron Blake (WaPo), who opines:
Waters's comments have been roundly denounced, including by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and some will argue she's a fringe figure in the party who doesn't speak for most Democrats. But what she said is a logical extension of the debate and the questions raised over the Red Hen incident. Plenty cheered such harassment of Nielsen and Miller, such was their anger over the family-separation policy. When passions run as strongly as they do with a story like this, actions will be ratcheted up.

Which means Democrats and Trump opponents as a whole need to decide where their line is for civil disobedience (or, in Waters's case, possibly going beyond civil disobedience)....
Civil disobedience?!! Somebody needs to look up the definition of terms! "Civil disobedience" doesn't have to do with harassing individuals and shaming or scaring them out of appearing in public. Civil disobedience is declining to obey an unjust law. It's governing your own behavior in observance of a higher morality than the government's law. It has nothing to do with violating just norms — such as rules of etiquette or the legal protection from threats and physical violence — to hurt other people when those other people offend your moral standards!

Some historical background on the idea from Wikipedia:
One of the oldest depictions of civil disobedience is in Sophocles' play Antigone, in which Antigone... defies Creon, the current King of Thebes, who is trying to stop her from giving her brother Polynices a proper burial. She gives a stirring speech in which she tells him that she must obey her conscience rather than human law...

Thoreau's 1849 essay Civil Disobedience, originally titled "Resistance to Civil Government"... [argued] that citizens are morally responsible for their support of aggressors, even when such support is required by law. In the essay, Thoreau explained his reasons for having refused to pay taxes as an act of protest against slavery and against the Mexican–American War....

By the 1850s, a range of minority groups in the United States: Blacks, Jews, Seventh Day Baptists, Catholics, anti-prohibitionists, racial egalitarians, and others—employed civil disobedience to combat a range of legal measures and public practices that to them promoted ethnic, religious, and racial discrimination....
Civil disobedience is an important tradition in American history. Don't mix it up with bad behavior that has had — and deserves — no veneration.

"The party wants women educated, yes, but it is worried that educated women will decide not to marry men and have kids..."

"... compounding the surplus of males caused by the one-child policy and potentially destabilizing the country. 'The direction of the future is that women are supposed to play the role of wife and mother in the home,' said Leta Hong Fincher, author of 'Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China.' Though this thinking has been around for at least a decade — most notably in sexist messaging about marriage — the Zhenjiang program appears to be the first college course in feminine virtue under Xi. 'According to traditional culture, women should be modest and tender, and men’s role is working outside and providing for the family,' said Duan, 21, before a class on tea ceremonies. 'I want to be a model for my children.'... The party insists that this reflects the Confucian values at the core of Chinese culture.... 'The country is emphasizing traditional culture, so we are providing courses,' [said the director of the program]. 'This is a new era. History is moving in a better direction.'"

From "'Hold in your belly... legs together': Chinese college teaches female students to be ‘perfect'" (WaPo).

ADDED: What did Confucius say about women?
Confucius had very little to say about the roles and expectations of women in the family or in society. Thus it was left for Confucian scholars to apply the principles...

Song Ruozhao wrote in “Analects for Women”: “To be a woman, you must first learn how to establish yourself as a person. The way to do this is simply by working hard to establish one's purity and chastity. By purity, one keeps one's self undefiled; by chastity, one preserves one's honor.... When walking, don't turn your head; when talking, don't open your mouth wide; when sitting, don't move your knees; when standing, don't rustle your skirts; when happy, don't exult with loud laughter; when angry, don't raise your voice. The inner and outer quarters are each distinct; the sexes should be segregated. Don't peer over the outer wall or go beyond the outer courtyard. If you have to go outside, cover your face; if you peep outside, conceal yourself as much as possible. Do not be on familiar terms with men outside the family; have nothing to do with women of bad character. Establish your proper self so as to become a [true] human being."

"Crashing on skinnies."

Mute the sound if you don't want to hear the dialogue (which consists solely of the word "fuck," not continually, but repeatedly):

Via Meade, via Reddit, where the top-rated comment is "You crash better than i ride."

IN THE COMMENTS: gspencer writes: "For real insanity on a bike, going down city streets, steps, and back alleys, take a look at this Valparaiso, Chile Race Run":

ADDED: The guy in the first video was trying to compete in a Go-Pro contest that you see (and vote on) here. Currently leading in the votes is this guy, who never falls, and who descends through some lovely, mossy woodland:

At the Silhouette Duck Café...


... don't just stand there. Make a comment.

(Or buy something through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

June 25, 2018

At the Sidewalk Flower Café...


... let your thoughts tumble out.

(And use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"Connected home gadgets are largely installed by men... Many women... do not have all the apps on their phones..."

"The people who spoke... about being harassed through smart home gadgetry were all women.... Each said the use of internet-connected devices by their abusers was invasive — one called it a form of 'jungle warfare' because it was hard to know where the attacks were coming from. They also described it as an asymmetry of power because their partners had control over the technology — and by extension, over them. One of the women, a doctor in Silicon Valley, said her husband, an engineer, 'controls the thermostat. He controls the lights. He controls the music.' She said, 'Abusive relationships are about power and control, and he uses technology.'"

The NYT reports on the problems of affluent women who don't learn how to use their own gadgets, in "Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse."

Here's the Wikipedia article "Jungle warfare" in case you want to contemplate that analogy in depth.
The jungle has a variety of effects on military operations. Dense vegetation can limit lines of sight and arcs of fire, but can also provide ample opportunity for camouflage and plenty of material with which to build fortifications. Jungle terrain, often without good roads, can be inaccessible to vehicles and so makes supply and transport difficult, which in turn places a premium on air mobility. The problems of transport make engineering resources important as they are needed to improve roads, build bridges and airfields, and improve water supplies. Jungle environments can also be inherently unhealthy, with various tropical diseases....
I gave some thought to whether "jungle warfare" had a racial tinge that made it inadvisable for speech in polite company. I'm on high alert for that kind of thing because some guy on "Fox & Friends" just got flayed for saying "you're out of your cotton-picking mind." He said it to a black person, who reacted quickly, saying that he had "some relatives who picked cotton, and I'm not going to sit back and let you attack me on TV like that."

"Cotton-picking" is a corny intensifier that tends to be used in place of "damned," as if "damned" is the word that will get you in trouble. I wanted to say it's an "out of the frying pan, into the fire" kind of situation, but maybe some of your relatives toiled over frying pans.

"At Caffe Bene, a trendy Korean coffee chain in central Ulaanbaatar, almost all the tables are occupied by young women on their own."

"One sits with her shopping bags on a chair, typing on her phone. Another reads a comic, while the woman across from her peers at a laptop. Single women in Mongolia face a certain stigma, which makes dating even harder....  For Anna Battulga, 25, a recent graduate working in human resources, dating seems different from how it was for her parents, who met in the 1980s in Ulaanbaatar when Mongolia was still under a communist system. Her mother was a shop assistant and her father a police officer who, after meeting Battulga’s mother, came to inspect the shop every week, scaring the owner. Eventually they started going to the cinema where her father would translate the films, available only in Russian, into Mongolian for her mother. After a few months he nervously asked if his parents could come to her house to ask for her hand in marriage, a Mongolian tradition. Battulga is more likely to meet someone on Facebook, Instagram or Tinder...."

From "Too smart, too successful: Mongolia’s superwomen struggle to find husbands/Highly educated women far outnumber men in the capital – making it difficult for them to find a partner" (The Guardian).

In the old days, a scary Communist policeman could snag a shopgirl. These days, women are educated and self-sufficient enough to reject marriage if the men aren't their equal:
Bulganchimeg Gantulga, 19, a university student studying political science... is considering never marrying at all. “When men don’t respect women, it’s obvious what kind of husband they will be,” Bulganchimeg says.
Meanwhile, the men reject the women who are above their level:
A survey released in March by the World Bank found Mongolian men in their 20s often described women as more ambitious than men, a trait they found unattractive. Some wondered why women invested so much in their education, given that it increased their risk of not being able to find a husband. 
It's interesting that women don't choose to underachieve.

"'No one is disputing how the courts have ruled on this,' john a. powell, a Berkeley law professor with joint appointments in the departments of African-American Studies and Ethnic Studies, told me."

"'What I’m saying is that courts are often wrong.' Powell is tall, with a relaxed sartorial style, and his manner of speaking is soft and serenely confident. Before he became an academic, he was the national legal director of the A.C.L.U. 'I represented the Ku Klux Klan when I was in that job,' he said. 'My family was not pleased with me, but I said, Look, they have First Amendment rights, too. So it’s not that I don’t understand or care deeply about free speech. But what would it look like if we cared just as deeply about equality? What if we weighed the two as conflicting values, instead of this false formalism where the right to speech is recognized but the harm caused by that speech is not?'... In the nineteen-seventies, when women entered the workplace in large numbers, some male bosses made salacious comments, or hung pornographic images on the walls. 'These days, we’d say, That’s a hostile workplace, that’s sexual harassment,' powell said. 'But those weren’t recognized legal concepts yet. So the courts’ response was Sorry, nothing we can do. Pornographic posters are speech. If women don’t like it, they can put up their own posters.' He drew an analogy to today’s trolls and white supremacists. 'The knee-jerk response is Nothing we can do, it’s speech. ‘Well, hold on, what about the harm they’re causing?’ What harm? It’s just words. That might sound intuitive to us now. But, if you know the history, you can imagine how our intuitions might look foolish, even immoral, a generation later.'"

From "How Social-Media Trolls Turned U.C. Berkeley Into a Free-Speech Circus/Public universities have no choice but to welcome far-right speakers seeking self-promotion. Should the First Amendment be reinterpreted for the digital age?" by Andrew Marantz (in The New Yorker).

Is "self-promotion" a special right-wing motivation? Is there some idea that a left-wing speaker promotes his ideas, but a right-wing speaker promotes only himself — that left-wingers are earnest and sincere and bring substance to the campus milieu but right-wingers are demagogues who belong in the hinterlands, braying to some mob?

There's a lot about Milo Yiannopoulos in that article, by the way.

As for john a. powell, he's saying things that are scarcely new. They were standard fare in the legal academy a quarter century ago. That is, it's already "a generation later." His sarcasm at "It’s just words" sounds straight out of "Only Words," the book Catharine MacKinnon published in 1994, and "Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, And The First Amendment (New Perspectives on Law, Culture, and Society)" a collection of essays some Critical Race theory lawprofs put out in 1995.

These ideas have been pushed for a very long time, and there's still an intense effort to clear the campus of competing ideas about freedom of speech. I was utterly surrounded by those left-wing views back in the early 90s, and I find it wonderful that they're still so outré that a lawprof today presents them as intriguingly new. What a miracle that Americans still believe in freedom of speech!

ADDED: The NYT has a very similar article today, "The Ignorant Do Not Have a Right to an Audience" by a philosophy professor, Bryan W. Van Norden. He wants elite institutions to embrace forthright viewpoint discrimination — justified by portraying the ideas he finds offensive as "ignorant":
Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has complained that men can’t “control crazy women” because men “have absolutely no respect” for someone they cannot physically fight. Does this adolescent opinion deserve as much of an audience as the nuanced thoughts of Kate Manne, a professor of philosophy at Cornell University, about the role of “himpathy” in supporting misogyny?...

There is a clear line between censoring someone and refusing to provide them with institutional resources for disseminating their ideas... What just access means in terms of positive policy is that institutions that are the gatekeepers to the public have a fiduciary responsibility to award access based on the merit of ideas and thinkers. To award space in a campus lecture hall to someone like Peterson who says that feminists “have an unconscious wish for brutal male domination”...  is not to display admirable intellectual open-mindedness. It is to take a positive stand that these views are within the realm of defensible rational discourse, and that these people are worth taking seriously as thinkers.

Neither is true: These views are specious, and those who espouse them are, at best, ignorant, at worst, sophists. The invincibly ignorant and the intellectual huckster have every right to express their opinions, but their right to free speech is not the right to an audience. 

"My extremely intelligent wife was more mathematical than literary. We lived together and we grew apart."

"For the only time in my life, I cherished social gatherings: Ann Arbor’s culture of cocktail parties. I found myself looking forward to weekends, to crowded parties that permitted me distance from my marriage. There were two or three such occasions on Friday and more on Saturday, permitting couples to migrate from living room to living room. We flirted, we drank, we chatted–without remembering on Sunday what we said Saturday night. After sixteen years of marriage, my wife and I divorced. For five years I was alone again, but without the comfort of solitude. I exchanged the miseries of a bad marriage for the miseries of bourbon. I dated a girlfriend who drank two bottles of vodka a day. I dated three or four women a week, occasionally three in a day. My poems slackened and stopped. I tried to think that I lived in happy license. I didn’t...."

The prose of the poet Donald Hall, published in 2016 by the New Yorker, highlighted now because he died on Saturday. He was 89. Here's the NYT obituary — "Mr. Hall was one of the leading poets of his generation, frequently mentioned in the company of Robert Bly, James Wright and Galway Kinnell. In evoking a bucolic New England past and expressing a deep veneration of nature, he used simple and direct language, though often to surreal effect."

Big day in the Supreme Court — "the last scheduled day, but they could easily add another day if they wanted to."

I'm following the live blog at SCOTUSblog.

UPDATE 1: The first case is Abbott v. Perez, a 5-4 decision about racial gerrymandering in Texas:
ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion,in which GORSUCH,J.,joined. SOTOMAYOR,J.,filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
From Alito's majority opinion:
It was the challengers’ burden to show that the 2013 Legislature acted with discriminatory intent when it enacted plans that the court itself had produced. The 2013 Legislature was not obligated to show that it had “cured” the unlawful intent that the court attributed to the 2011 Legislature. Thus, the essential pillar of the three-judge court’s reasoning was critically flawed.

When the congressional and state legislative districts are reviewed under the proper legal standards, all but one of them, we conclude, are lawful.
From Sotomayor's dissent (for the 4 liberal Justices):
This disregard of both precedent and fact comes at serious costs to our democracy. It means that, after years of litigation and undeniable proof of intentional discrimination, minority voters in Texas—despite constituting a majority of the population within the State—will continue to be underrepresented in the political process. Those voters must return to the polls in 2018 and 2020 with the knowledge that their ability to exercise meaningfully their right to vote has been burdened by the manipulation of district lines specifically designed to target their communities and minimize their political will. 
UPDATE 2: Ohio v. AmeEx, written by Justice Thomas, also 5-4. SCOTUSblog summarizes:
This is an antitrust case, in which a group of states are challenging a provision in the contract between American Express and the merchants that accept its cards; the provision bars the merchants from trying to steer their customers to use a particular credit card.... The Court holds that Amex's steering provisions do not violate federal antitrust law.... Court defines the market as two-sided, including both merchants and cardholders. When the market is defined this way, the Court says, it is clear that the plaintiffs have not met their burden to show anti-competitive effects.
And that's all for today, so I guess there will be another day.

AND: Breyer's dissent in Amex begins:
For more than 120 years, the American economy has prospered by charting a middle path between pure lassez-faire and state capitalism, governed by an antitrust law “dedicated to the principle that markets, not individual firms and certainly not political power, produce the opti­mal mixture of goods and services.”
That is, Breyer — a former antitrust lawprof — misspelled laissez-faire.