July 14, 2018

At the Hold True Café...

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... you can handle the truth.

This is an open thread, but the photo makes me want to link to this book excerpt I read earlier today: "The death of truth: how we gave up on facts and ended up with Trump/From post-modernism to filter bubbles, ‘truth decay’ has been spreading for decades. How can we stop alternative facts from bringing down democracy, asks Michiko Kakutani" (The Guardian).

Quora's qwazy notion of what counts as a related question.

"How did the bathhouse in Spirited Away..."



"... have electricity when they're in the Spirit Realm?" is presented as related to "Does it count as rape if you have sex with your spouse while they're asleep?"


(Click to enlarge.)

ADDED: What's genuinely eerie is that I'm in the middle reading a novel — by a Japanese writer — where there's a very important theme of whether it is a sort of rape to have sex with a person inside of your dream (≈ in the spirit world). The book is "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" by Haruki Murakami (and the next paragraph contains a major spoiler):
As he listened to the rain drum against the window, with these thoughts swirling around in his head, his room began to feel like an alien space. As if the room itself had developed its own will. Just being in there steadily drained away any ability to distinguish the real from the unreal. On one plane of reality, he’d never even touched Shiro’s hand. Yet on another, he’d brutally raped her. Which reality had he stepped into now? The more he thought about it, the less certain he became.
AND: When the Murakami book came out, in 2014, it was reviewed in the NYT by Patti Smith:
This is a book for both the new and experienced reader. It has a strange casualness, as if it unfolded as Murakami wrote it; at times, it seems like a prequel to a whole other narrative. The feel is uneven, the dialogue somewhat stilted, either by design or flawed in translation. Yet there are moments of epiphany gracefully expressed, especially in regard to how people affect one another. “One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone,” Tsukuru comes to understand. “They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss.” The book reveals another side of Murakami, one not so easy to pin down. Incurably restive, ambiguous and valiantly struggling toward a new level of maturation. A shedding of Murakami skin. It is not “Blonde on Blonde,” it is “Blood on the Tracks.”

Hamilton!



Meade sent me that link. My response was "Almost Broxtonesque" (referring to this, from a couple weeks ago).

I'm so tired of the anti-Trump things in my Facebook feed.

I know I should have resisted and all my "friends" will see me as jerk, but I couldn't stop myself from responding to 2 things on Facebook just now. I won't reveal who put up these items, just my own response:

1. "Trump Told Russia To Get Clinton’s Emails. The Same Day, They Obeyed./A new indictment from Robert Mueller reveals that Russia appeared to be listening to what Trump wanted" in The Huffington Post. My response:
If Trump were colluding, why would he flaunt his involvement? The more apt inference is that the Russians wanted to make it look like they were taking orders from him and chose this moment, because it would be so weird it would agitate media like HuffPo to generate this theory.
2. A photojournalist's image of the Trump-as-a-diapered-baby balloon framed alongside a bronze statue of Winston Churchill. My response:
To get a fair comparison, show me how Trump is depicted 75 years in the future. Or recreate Churchill today, have him begin to enter politics, and show me how he would be regarded.
I include a link to an article in the UK Independent, "Winston Churchill 'would not become Prime Minister today because his speaking style would be mocked'/Romola Garai, who stars in new ITV drama about the politician, says his eccentricities would rule him out in the modern era." From that article, quoting Garai (who played Churchill's nurse):
“Churchill would not get elected today. His speech was very peculiar, quite mumbled in some ways.... Churchill was very idiosyncratic in the way he spoke. Today public speaking has become so monotone and peculiarity is something that rolling news is very afraid of... It’s easy to pinpoint anybody’s idiosyncracies now, which I think is a terrible shame. Because some of the great orators were very individual in the way they spoke."
The article was from February 2016, when — here in the United States — "SNL" hadn't yet brought in Alec Baldwin to do the Trump impersonation. They relied on — do you even remember? — Taram Killam (and Daryl Hammond) and — Trump's victory was so impossible — even let the real Donald Trump host the show and goof around with Killam and Hammond:



Ha ha ha. What a joke. Trump is President now, and I'm just going to guess he'll be a bronze statue in 75 years.

"In nearly every case, there is a better, more precise way to describe a current political phenomenon than the word 'populist.'"

"It just requires thought, or even the effort to get out to the heartland and talk to people. When I’ve done that I’ve generally found Trump supporters to be agents rather than victims. They’ve not been seduced by 'populism.' They are not 'populists.' They have few illusions about the president. They think he’s a loose cannon, needy, narcissistic, erratic. They like the way he’s an outsider and 'tells it like it is.' They wanted disruption of what they saw as a rigged system; he delivers it, daily. Jan-Werner Muller, professor of politics at Princeton University, has written in The Guardian, 'The profile of supporters of populism obviously matters, but it is patronizing to reduce all they think and say to resentment, and explain the entire phenomenon as an inarticulate political expression of the Trumpenproletariat and its European equivalents.' For me, the key word here is 'patronizing.' Liberal contempt is rampant."

From "It’s Time to Depopularize ‘Populist’" by Roger Cohen (NYT).

I selected the quote you see above, but now I'm reading the comments at the NYT, and they seem to be fixated on something else:
It’s critical to distinguish between a nationalist xenophobe and a reasonable voter who has made the plausible choice that Trump was a better option than other candidates....
They're all "PLAUSIBLE!!!!?!!"

"The president and first lady appeared not to have followed long-running protocol in which a bow or curtsy is customary."

"Moreover, Mr. Trump seemed to walk in front of the queen, and not quite alongside her, prompting Twitter critics to call his motions awkward and even rude. Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, said Mrs. Trump was briefed on royal protocol before the visit, but it was unclear if the president, who eschews briefings, received similar guidance. In other ways, the Trumps avoided breaching protocol. Touching a royal can make headlines, as Michelle Obama did when she placed her hand on the queen’s back in 2009. Then there was the time, in 1977, when Jimmy Carter kissed the queen’s mother — on the lips, no less."

From "From Truman to Trump, Queen Elizabeth Has Met 12 U.S. Presidents," in which the NYT is actually quite mild toward Trump. I noticed, "Even for a monarch who has encountered her fair share of presidents, Mr. Trump is probably the most disruptive American leader she has met." Probably??? Who's the competition? Trump is also the most disruptive President including the ones QE has not met. He's Disruptiveness Personified.

Here's the video of the Queen's slapstick approach to walking with Trump:



What the hell is she doing?! He's walking slowly and normally. She's being weird. I think it has to do with Scotland (the homeland of Trump's mother).

By the way, have you seen these intensely gorgeous new movie posters?



"The boy was given what Thai and American participants described variously as a muscle relaxant or anti-anxiety medication."

"A panic attack in a chokepoint no bigger than a manhole would almost certainly be fatal. Finally, the boy was swaddled in a flexible plastic stretcher — akin to a tortilla wrap, Hodges said — to confine his limbs and protect him from the cheese-grater walls. And then, with his teammates watching, they pulled him under the murky water. The original plan had called for two divers — one in front of the stretcher, one behind. But that configuration was scrapped as too bulky for the shoulder-width passages and elbow turns.... Instead, a diver kept the swaddled boy in a body-to-body clinch for as much of the swim as possible, the officer said, handing the boy over to a fresh diver after his designated stretch. Keeping the child warm was critical.... The worst portion of the swim was the last one, a deep tubular swoop that held the water like a sink trap. All told, it was a grueling two-hour trek through muck-filled passages. 'It is crawling through mud and underwater tunnels, and you can’t see your hands,” said Erik Brown, a Canadian diver who was among the 18'..."

I'm reading the very detailed, well-written WaPo article "‘Time is running out’: Inside the treacherous rescue of boys trapped in a Thai cave."

I wanted to quote that particular part because it shows the ludicrous wrongness of the BBC graphic I called "excellent":

Democrats who introduced abolish-ICE legislation, surprised by Paul Ryan's plan to bring it to the House floor, now say they will vote against their own bill.

The Hill reports.
A group of Democrats who introduced legislation to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they will vote against the measure if GOP leadership follows through with their vow to bring it to the House floor.

Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) released a statement Thursday accusing GOP leaders of exploiting the legislation for political gain after leadership confirmed it planned to hold a vote.
It takes one to know one, I smile.

By the way... Pocan is my Congressman.

ADDED: This story is the perfect illustration of the phrase "It's all politics."

"The abandonment of a newborn for being a transgender has shocked doctors here. Later, it was found..."

"... that the baby was suffering from a genetic disease. On June 30, the parents of abandoned the infant at Shishu Grah at Gandhi Nagar with a letter that the baby was a transgender and fearing social boycott they were abandoning the baby. Shishu Grah admitted the baby to JK Lone Hospital with an infection and the baby was discharged on July 5 with a discharge ticket mentioning the sex as male. The discharge slip mentioned the sex as male as the baby’s sexual organs were not properly developed. Later, when it was revealed that the infant was a transgender, the baby was admitted again to the hospital on July 7 for further investigation to determine the sex. Necessary investigations revealed that the baby was a girl. The infant, however, passed away on July 9 due to congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) in which sodium and sugar fall and potassium increases in the body."

Reports the Hindustan Times.

ADDED: Here's the Wikipedia article on congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Excerpt:
Currently, in the United States and over 40 other countries, every child born is screened for 21-hydroxylaase CAH at birth. This test will detect elevated levels of 17-hydroxy-progesterone (17-OHP). Detecting high levels of 17-OHP enables early detection of CAH. Newborns detected early enough can be placed on medication and live a relatively normal life....

The treatment has...  raised concerns in LGBT and bioethics communities following publication of an essay posted to the forum of the Hastings Center, and research in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, which found that pre-natal treatment of female fetuses was suggested to prevent those fetuses from becoming lesbians after birth, may make them more likely to engage in "traditionally" female-identified behaviour and careers, and more interested in bearing and raising children....

Scarlett Johansson shrinks from criticism and backs out of playing the role of a transgender man.

She/her people wrote a statement: "In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project. Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive...."

Etc. etc. Her initial response to critics, what she now needs to represent herself as "realizing" was "insensitive" was: "Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment." In other words, lots of cisgender actors have not only played transgender characters, they've received high honors — an Oscar for Leto, an Oscar nomination for Huffman, an Emmy for Tambor. It must have seemed to Scarlett that she'd get extra credit for stretching herself into this role.

But that's not where the culture is right now, Scarlett learned. As Hollywood Reporter reports, there are actors who are themselves transgender, and no one seems interested in giving them an opportunity to stretch and show that they can play cisgender characters:
... Transparent actress Trace Lysette, tweet[ed], "I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles, but we know that’s not the case. A mess."
The argument seems to be that at least all transgender roles should go to transgender actors. It's an interesting argument and it was effective, but it was only effective in scaring cisgender actors off of any transgender role. What will be the result of that victory? Will the transgender actors get what they want? The big goal is to get access to cisgender roles, to make it seem bigoted to exclude them. Obviously, there's the question what audiences will want to see.

A similar question is whether people have accepted gay actors playing straight characters. I'm looking at "Gay Actors Who Play Straight Characters" and noticing that many of the roles are straight people with characteristics stereotypically assigned to gay people — "Jim Parsons has played several socially awkward heterosexual characters, including Sheldon Cooper on 'The Big Bang Theory'... Jane Lynch on "Glee" (playing a high school coach).

Quite aside from the goal of getting access to cisgender roles, there's the question whether there will be support and enthusiasm for movies about transgender characters if the actor isn't tasked with pretending to be transgender. There's no impressive stunt to perform. Maybe there will be more movies where some characters happen to be transgender without that needing to be the whole story. There could be an argument like what we've seen from black actors for many decades: It's wrong to limit us to stories about black people. Almost any role should be playable by a black actor.

In that light, Scarlett Johansson found herself in a position like that of the last white person cast to play Othello. Yes, there was a long tradition of eminent actors playing Othello, and maybe some day, black actors will get so many roles that it will be fine to have another white actor as Othello, but right now, we're in transition.

Hand gestures — Angela Merkel and Donald Trump.

I'm closing in on the hands from one photograph. It has the caption "President Trump met with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday," and is by Doug Mills at the NYT, where it is used to illustrate a Michelle Goldberg column with the kind of title that designed to hook someone who isn't me,  "‘Evil Has Won’/Pro-American Germans feel betrayed":





I know the NYT selected this picture, and I assume the stark hand positions were part of why it was chosen. But these look like positions that were locked into place and held, so I think we can look at them as meaningful. My interpretation:

Merkel: Here's my penis.

Trump: Here's my vagina. Aim it right here, Angela.

July 13, 2018

Lady in blue.

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I liked the chiming curls of blue trim and folds of blue satin, as this woman stood in front of "Lady in a Blue Dress" (a John Singleton Copley painting in the Art Institute of Chicago).

Consider this another open thread.

"This week, I’m traveling to Africa for the first time since I left office – a continent of wonderful diversity, thriving culture, and remarkable stories."

That's Barack Obama, Facebooking platitudes. It's kind of refreshingly mellow and relaxing, isn't it?
Over the years since, I've often drawn inspiration from Africa's extraordinary literary tradition. As I prepare for this trip, I wanted to share a list of books that I’d recommend for summer reading, including some from a number of Africa’s best writers and thinkers – each of whom illuminate our world in powerful and unique ways.
I'm pleased to have the opportunity to use my old "Obama is bland" tag. So... should we read some books Obama recommends, something that illuminates our world?

There are 6 books on the list, and the first 5 are by African writers, with African subject matter. But the 6th book is "The World As It Is" by Ben Rhodes:
It’s true, Ben does not have African blood running through his veins. But few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can. Ben’s one of the few who’ve been with me since that first presidential campaign. His memoir is one of the smartest reflections I’ve seen as to how we approached foreign policy, and one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen about what it’s actually like to serve the American people for eight years in the White House.
Few others so closely see the world through my eyes like he can. Does it take nerve or just obliviousness to write that when the freshest image we've got of Ben Rhodes seeing the world is...

Hat talk.

From the transcript of the Trump/Theresa May press conference today, I enjoyed this banter about the jaunty straw fedora one reporter was wearing:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I like your hat.

Q Thank you, sir. (Laughter.) Mr. President as —

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good without it, too. Good head of hair. Good solid head of hair.

Q I don’t have a good solid head of hair, but thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I know exactly what you have, Jeff.
As we're about to see, the reporter is bald. Trump is funning with him.
Q (Laughs). Going into your meeting —

PRIME MINISTER MAY: Appeal to the rest of us. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Come on, Jeff. Take it off. Will you show, please?

Q Oh, boy. (Laughs.) Okay.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I like you better without the hat. Go ahead.

Q Here we go. (Laughter.)
And the reporter — who looked distinctly cooler with the hat on — goes along with the exposure as a bald guy.

Was that funny or a little mean of Trump, who knew perfectly well that the guy in the snazzy hat was bald? It wasn't as bad as the time — back in '06 — when George W. Bush tried to josh with a reporter who he assumed was wearing sunglasses to look cool and it turned out the man wore sunglasses because he was blind:
"Are you going to ask that question with shades on?" Bush asked.

"I can take them off," [Peter] Wallsten offered.

"I'm interested in the shade look," replied Bush. "Seriously."

Wallsten said, "All right, I'll keep it, then."

"For the viewers," the president said to the TV cameras, "there's no sun." Some in the press corps laughed.

"I guess it depends on your perspective," replied Wallsten, Zen-like.
But Bush absolutely did not know the man was blind. Imagine if Bush had known and had talked to the blind man as if he were wearing "shades" to look cool! That would be more like Trump, that edge of sadism to the humor. Trump knew the man was bald. Of course, baldness is a much more normal thing to tease someone about that blindness. And Trump — who's been mocked so much about his hair — may deserve extra latitude on the topic of hair.

At the Dog-and-Monkey Café...

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... could you please get to your point(ilism)?

Open thread. Plus: remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon. Can you find a leash that attaches around the waist for your monkey? I tried but only found a dog leash with a belt at the human end, for hands-free dog-walking, and stuffed-toy monkey that a toddler wears as a backpack and that has a tail that is really the leash to be held by the adult keeping the child from straying too far.

"She found her father’s child porn images of herself, then killed him — and kept it secret for 12 years."

Headline at The Washington Post.
Barbara Coombes, 51, had just been gardening in her father’s backyard, on a street of red-brick terrace homes in their suburb near Manchester, England, when she went inside and spotted a box on the dining room table....

“I could feel a black cloud appearing over me,” Coombes said in court this week, according to the Evening News. “In a haze of disgust and disbelief, I picked up a shovel I had been gardening with and walked into the living room where my father was standing.”

An excellent press conference — Donald Trump and Theresa May.

What was Strzok thinking?

That's what the hearing yesterday went on and on about in some of the most ridiculous political theater I've ever seen. Strok seemed intent on sternly insisting that his texts expressed political opinions that he kept strictly separate from his professional work and how dare anyone suggest that he was not a professional who did exactly what he's telling you he did — how dare you impugn the integrity of the FBI!

But sometimes the mask slipped, and when it did, it was really weird:



Via Instapundit.

As for what Strzok was thinking when he wrote those texts, I'll set that aside for a moment and asked what was Strok thinking when he made that smirking face and whole-body jiggle? My guess: I'm getting away with this.

"When [Jonathan Franzen] started writing, a writer could just put his work out into the world without having to explain it...."

"But now being a writer, particularly one who wanted to be in the public favor, meant that you... had to participate. You had to hang out on social media. He hates social media — dreads it, saw it coming the whole time. He had already been on the fence about digital interaction since even before he wrote about Nicholas Negroponte’s 'Being Digital' in 1995 for The New Yorker. 'He was so excited about the prospect of a future in which you wouldn’t get the dull, old New York Times,' Franzen told me. 'You’d get via the web a new service called The Daily Me. It would consist only of things that were personally interesting to you and that suited your own view of the world. That’s exactly what we got. What’s crazy is [Negroponte] thought this was this wonderful, almost utopian possibility in the future.' Franzen found it absurd that anyone would celebrate the notion of not being faced with opposing points of view. 'I’ve never been a big fan of society structured predominantly along lines of consumerism, but I had made my peace with it,' he said. 'But then when it began to be that every individual person also had to be a product that they were selling and liking became paramount, that seemed like a very worrisome thing at a personal level as a human being. If you’re in a state of perpetual fear of losing market share for you as a person, it’s just the wrong mind-set to move through the world with.'"

Writes Taffy Brodesser-Akner in "Jonathan Franzen Is Fine With All of It/The internet has turned on him, his book sales are down and the TV adaptation of his last novel has stalled. But he wants you to know one thing: He’s not even angry" (NYT).

ADDED: If you're looking for Franzen's 1995 New Yorker essay about Negroponte, it's in his collection "How to Be Alone," which I already had in my Kindle. See? I blogged about it on April 13, 2013:
These days, books are bought as ebooks, so you don't have to buy 2 copies of everything, you just have to authorize 2 Kindles/iPads on the same account — which is what Meade and I do — and the husband and wife can simultaneously read the same book or — as in our case — the same 300 books that we wander around in endlessly, perhaps eventually encountering a passage that we'd underline electronically if the other hadn't already done the underlining. Are there any marital therapy books? Not unless "Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank" counts. Or "Lady Chatterley's Lover." Or "The Obamas." Or — this has a self-helpish title — "How to Be Alone."
From Franzen's 1995 essay:
High above the clouds, the sun always shines. Negroponte paints a tomorrow of talking toasters, smart refrigerators, and flavorized computers (“You will be able to buy a Larry King personality for your newspaper interface”) that is Jetsons-like in its retention of today’s suburban values. To find clues to a deeper transformation, you have to read between the lines. Negroponte has a habit, for example, of reducing human functions to machinery: the human eye is “the client for the image,” an ear is a “channel,” faces are “display devices,” and “Disney’s guaranteed audience is refueled at a rate that exceeds 12,500 births each hour.” In the future, “CD-ROMs may be edible, and parallel processors may be applied like sun tan lotion.” The new, digital human being will dine not only on storage devices but on narcissism. “Newspapers will be printed in an edition of one . . . Call it The Daily Me.” Authors, meanwhile, as they move from text to multimedia, will assume the role of “stage-set or theme-park designer.”

I'm monitoring MSNBC in the run-up to the press conference with Trump and Theresa May...

... and they cannot stop talking about the balloon. Every 10th word is "balloon." Meade keeps saying the balloon looks like Mika Mika Brzezinsk (as the balloon and Mika appear on split screen).

In case you don't know what I'm talking about:


ADDED: The idea is that Trump is a big baby, but they're all: "BALLOON!!!"

IN THE COMMENTS: Balfegor said:
It is a rather cute balloon . . . it is probably going to be repurposed by Trump supporters into pro-Trump material, like that Trump chicken balloon.
That's what I thought too. For anyone who likes Trump, the balloon — if you stare at it long enough — feels pro-Trump. It's the magic of Trump. All the negative energy gets flipped into positive.

AND: I listened to the whole press conference. Great questions. Great support from Trump to Theresa May. Loved the byplay about the reporter's hat. Loved all the "fake news" shtick.

"Nobody knows when Trump is doing international diplomacy and when he is doing election campaigning in Montana."

"It is difficult to decode what policy the American president is promoting. There is a complete unpredictability in this, and one of the things you need in this alliance is predictability towards Russia."

Said Danish defense minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen, complaining about "uncertainty," because Trump "plays in a completely different way than the rest of us."

Quoted in "'Very stable' Trump? European leaders beg to differ/The president’s wild shifts in tone left many NATO allies concluding no hidden strategy lies behind his unpredictability."

Trump, as the headline notes, repeated his joke/boast/opinion that he's "a very stable genius." That came when a Croatian journalist asked him: "We understand your message, but some people ask themselves, will you be tweeting differently once you board the Air Force One?" Trump's answer was: "No, that's other people that do that. I don’t. I’m very consistent. I’m a very stable genius."

ALSO:
A senior NATO official said leaders had concluded that they simply could not rely on anything Trump said. “You know the way he speaks, you cannot take him literally,” the official said.

Another EU official echoed the point. “He speaks a language that doesn’t match with diplomacy,” the second official said. “We were used to the Brits, who speak a more frank diplomatic language, but this is another thing.”...

But for evidence that he is, in fact, a “genius,” Trump might point to the closing assessment of NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg... “All allies have heard President Trump’s message loud and clear. We understand that this American president is very serious about defense spending... There is a new sense of urgency due to President Trump’s strong leadership on defense spending.”
AND: Retweeted by Trump:

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd wrote:
Trump: You have to start paying what you agreed to pay.

Diplomats huddle up: What does he mean? I don't know. I've never heard this kind of language before. Neither have I. I'm baffled. It makes no sense. He can't possibly think any of us would actually pay our... No, I don't think so. No one would. Well what then? I must admit, I'm completely at sea.

"In the end, the arrest at an Ohio strip club of Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star who said she had an affair with Donald J. Trump before he became president, was quickly resolved because of one fact..."

"... she was not a regular employee of the club. Ms. Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, simply had a two-night gig at the Sirens Gentlemen’s Club in Columbus. That distinction resulted in the three misdemeanor charges of illegal sexual activity that were brought against Ms. Clifford after her Wednesday night arrest being dropped on Thursday afternoon. The Columbus police later said that they had made a mistake in making the arrest."

I'm reading "Charges Against Stormy Daniels Dismissed After Arrest at Strip Club" in the NYT. I'm surprised to read this because yesterday, when we were talking about the arrest, kimlynnmarty said...
I would argue she is not an "employee"
... and I responded:
About the idea of arguing that she’s not an employee, read the whole statute:

“(5) "Employee" means any individual who performs any service on the premises of a sexually oriented business on a full-time, part-time, or contract basis, regardless of whether the individual is denominated an employee, independent contractor, agent, or otherwise, but does not include an individual exclusively on the premises for repair or maintenance of the premises or for the delivery of goods to the premises.”
But now I see that the key word isn't "employee." As the NYT article says, linking to the statutory text:
The law under which Ms. Clifford was arrested applies to people who “regularly” appear nude or seminude at a particular establishment. But Ms. Clifford had not appeared at the club consistently, prosecutors said in a motion dismissing the charges.
The definition of "employee" covers Clifford, but the word "regularly" — defined to mean "consistently or repeatedly" — appears in the definition of the crime:
No employee who regularly appears nude or seminude on the premises of a sexually oriented business, while on the premises of that sexually oriented business and while nude or seminude, shall knowingly touch a patron who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or the clothing of a patron who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or allow a patron who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee's immediate family to touch the employee or the clothing of the employee.
So a sexually oriented business can have performers who touch customers and allow customers to touch them as long as they keep bringing in a new person — a traveling guest artist? Will that work everywhere in Ohio now?

"In the interview with The Sun, Mr. Trump second-guessed Mrs. May’s handling of the main issue on her plate: how Britain should cut ties to the European Union."

"He cast doubt on whether he was willing to negotiate a new trade deal between Britain and the United States, and praised Mrs. May’s Conservative Party rival, Boris Johnson, as a potentially great prime minister.... 'Well, I think the deal that she is striking is not what the people voted on,' Mr. Trump said in the interview, speaking of the approach Mrs. May is taking to Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, under which the British economy would effectively continue to be subject to many European regulations. Speaking of Mr. Johnson, who resigned this week as foreign secretary in protest over Mrs. May’s Brexit strategy and who has long been seen as likely to challenge her for her job, Mr. Trump said: 'Well, I am not pitting one against the other. I’m just saying I think he would be a great prime minister. I think he’s got what it takes and I think he’s got the right attitude to be a great prime minister.'"

From "As May’s Government Teeters Over Brexit, Trump Gives It a Shove" (NYT). The Sun article is here.

ADDED: Also in the NYT, "Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Rise of Radical Incompetence/Like America’s president, Brexiteers resent the very idea of governing as complex and based in facts," by William Davies (who has a forthcoming boook titled "Nervous States: How Feelings Took Over the World"):
A common thread linking “hard” Brexiteers to nationalists across the globe is that they resent the very idea of governing as a complex, modern, fact-based set of activities that requires technical expertise and permanent officials. Soon after entering the White House as President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon expressed hope that the newly appointed cabinet would achieve the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” In Europe, the European Commission — which has copious governmental capacity, but scant sovereignty — is an obvious target for nationalists such as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary....

What happens if sections of the news media, the political classes and the public insist that only sovereignty matters and that the complexities of governing are a lie invented by liberal elites? For one thing, it gives rise to celebrity populists, personified by Mr. Trump, whose inability to engage patiently or intelligently with policy issues makes it possible to sustain the fantasy that governing is simple....

July 12, 2018

At the Summer Afternoon Café...

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... put that in your pipe and smoke it.

"I didn’t know about it at all... We live in the country and we’re pretty unplugged.... Our internet’s very spotty, and we’re not willing to pay for cable because it’s too expensive."

Said Jessica McClure Morales — the "Baby Jessica" whose rescue from a well captured the attention of the world in 1987 — when asked by a NYT reporter about what she thought of the story of the boys in the Thai cave.
Ms. Morales’s rescue 31 years ago coincided with the dawn of round-the-clock cable television news, becoming at once a cultural touchstone and a template for the juggernaut coverage Americans have come to expect of certain events. But as she grew older, Ms. Morales largely retreated from the crush of media attention, choosing instead a quiet life away from the news....

Ms. Morales, of course, doesn’t remember anything about her own fall and rescue. “I was only 18 months old, and I was stuck in a pipe that was only eight inches around,” she said. “Nobody thought I would live for three days without water.”

Ms. Morales said she knows the rescue has shaped her life, but it is hard to put her finger on exactly how. “It didn’t affect me the way it affected other people,” she said. “I lived it, but I didn’t watch it.”
Really nice picture of her and her husband and kids at the link. I love seeing somebody who does the opposite of trying to stay famous.

Armless, homeless... not defenseless.

"An armless homeless man who is known on South Beach as an artist who paints with his feet was arrested Tuesday for stabbing a man with a pair of scissors... Police said Crenshaw spontaneously told an officer that he was defending himself. He further claimed that the victim had punched him in the head as he was lying down. He said he then pulled out a pair of scissors with his feet and stabbed the victim before putting the scissors in his waistband and leaving the area...."

Local 10 ABC News reports.

ADDED: Here's a longer report, in the Miami Herald, with photographs of the man. We're told he weighs 90 pounds (very slight, even considering the lack of weight due to armlessness). The victim says he was just asking Crenshaw for directions. That article links to a 2011 profile in the Miami New Times:
Though he doesn't talk much about the condition that has earned him the nickname "Birdman" -- the short, wing-like limbs that protrude from his shoulders in place of arms -- he speaks freely about other maladies, imagined or not. "I was born with sharp teeth. When I was five years old, the government drilled them in half," he says. Later he relates how he was forced to move into a hotel after he was "stabbed to death twice" in his former apartment some years back. "But a big bolt of lightning woke me up," he explains. "I think the knife might still be in my back." His eyes light up curiously at the prospect. He proceeds to stand and lift up the back of his shirt all the way to the nape of his neck so that I might inspect him for knives or stab wounds. His skin is unmarred....

He lifts an eyebrow before imparting, "I think I'm the one Nostradamus predicted nobody could kill."... Crenshaw talks a lot about sex and the many women he's impregnated, including Gloria Estefan who he says birthed about 200 of his children... "Sometimes I wish I were dead," he begins. "I'm not trying to kill myself or anything. But then I wouldn't have to suffer." 

Why was Stormy Daniels arrested last night in a strip club in Ohio?

I saw the story first in The Daily Mail:
Stormy Daniels has been arrested in Ohio for allegedly grabbing an undercover officer's backside while performing in a strip club....
Then I saw it in the NYT:
Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Donald J. Trump before he became president, was arrested at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio, her lawyer said early Thursday.

Ms. Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, had been scheduled to appear at Sirens Gentlemen’s Club in northeastern Columbus....

She was arrested “for allegedly allowing a customer to touch her while on stage in a non sexual manner,” her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said on Twitter....
The Daily Mail does at some point in the article get to the lawyer's presentation of what happened:
On Twitter, Avenatti said: 'My client Stormy Daniels was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, while performing same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred clubs. This was a setup and politically motivated. It reeks of desperation. We will fight all bogus charges.'
And, for its part, the NYT does eventually get around to this:
Police officers at the club said that while dancing topless, Ms. Clifford pressed patrons’ faces into her chest and fondled the breasts of some women in the audience, according to an affidavit filed by the police. She performed similar acts on three officers, and grabbed one by the buttocks, the affidavit said.
It's a story with 2 sides (at least). There's an Ohio law governing the operation of a "sexually oriented business." I think what Avenatti is referring to when he speaks of touching "in a non sexual manner," is that the text of the statute bars all touching, which just deprives you of any room to defend yourself by saying it wasn't sexual:
No employee who regularly appears nude or seminude on the premises of a sexually oriented business, while on the premises of that sexually oriented business and while nude or seminude, shall knowingly touch a patron who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or the clothing of a patron who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or allow a patron who is not a member of the employee's immediate family or another employee who is not a member of the employee's immediate family to touch the employee or the clothing of the employee.
What?? I've already spent too much time trying to figure out if that's a misprint and I am on the verge of losing my mind. My guess is that some Ohio legislators were a little freaked out by the idea of anybody touching anybody and then went hyper over the idea that the state was making it a crime to hug your own father or husband.

"Green Acres The Musical is a fast-paced, contemporary story that features the best in comedy, music and dance. This is the spirited musical comedy love story of Oliver and Lisa Douglas."

"He is a high-powered, Manhattan attorney and she is an aspiring fashion designer and, together, they are living ‘the good life’ in New York City. Faced with the overwhelming pressure to run his family’s law firm and live up to his father’s reputation, Oliver longs for the simple life, but New York and all that it has to offer is Lisa’s perfect world. What happens when two people in love find themselves wanting opposite lives sends us on a journey that is both hilarious and filled with heart."

That's the press release — published in Entertainment Weekly — for a "Broadway-bound" musical. I guess there's no limit to how stupid and touristy theater in New York City can become.

When "Green Acres" was on TV in the 1960s, it was one of many sitcoms set in rural America. From the Wikipedia article on the "rural purge" — the systematic cancellation of all that stuff:
Starting with The Real McCoys, a 1957 ABC program, U.S. television had undergone a "rural revolution", a shift towards situation comedies featuring "naïve but noble 'rubes' from deep in the American heartland". CBS was the network most associated with the trend, with series such as The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Mister Ed, Lassie, Petticoat Junction, and Hee Haw....

Mayberry's total isolation from contemporary problems was part of its appeal, but more than a decade of media coverage of the civil rights movement had brought about a change in the popular image of the small Southern town. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., was set on a U.S. Marine base between 1964 and 1969, but neither Gomer nor any of his fellow marines ever mentioned the war in Vietnam. CBS executives, afraid of losing the lucrative youth demographic, purged their schedule of hit shows that were drawing huge but older-skewing audiences....

The numerous cancellations [at the end of the 1970-71 season] prompted Pat Buttram ("Mr. Haney" on one of the canceled shows, Green Acres) to make the observation: "It was the year CBS canceled everything with a tree—including Lassie"....

Several conservative members of Congress,[who?] as well as President Richard Nixon and members of his administration, expressed displeasure at some of the replacement shows, many of which (especially the more socially conscious shows such as All in the Family) were not particularly "family-friendly"...
It was decided that those rural shows — a refuge from the social and political upheaval of the 60s — were too damned unsophisticated and irrelevant for 1970s America. I don't know if the long arc of history bends toward sophistication, but it makes me sad to see that one of the shows that were seen — half a century ago — as too naive and out of it for television is now the basis for a Broadway show. What is happening to us?

Is Donald Trump part of the answer? Here he is performing at the Emmys in 2006:



I'm reading the lyrics to the theme song at the website Genius, where there are annotations:
Green acres is the place for me
Farm livin' is the life for me
Land spreadin' out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside

New York is where I'd rather stay
I get allergic smelling hay
I just adore a penthouse view
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue

...The chores
...The stores
...Fresh air
...Times Square

You are my wife
Good bye, city life
Green Acres we are there
There's only one annotation. It's on the last 3 lines: "This might seem sexist to younger generations."

ADDED: The Wikipedia article mentions that one of the shows brought in to replace the rural sitcoms was "The Sonny & Cher Show," and that reminds me that I never wrote about the "Broadway-bound" show I saw in Chicago a couple weeks ago. "The Cher Show" is a bio-musical like "Jersey Boys" (the big Broadway hit that tells the story of The 4 Seasons). I guess I was too bored to put my thoughts into writing, but the show was completely unsophisticated. It assumes everyone in the audience just loves Cher, knows her songs and her costumes and will be delighted to witness a live parade of all that familiar stuff. There was no edge, no challenge, no acknowledgment that the audience members had any intelligence or critical eye at all. I was left cold (even though I loved Sonny & Cher from the moment I heard "I Got You Babe" on the radio in 1965). But so many other old women in the audience were whooping at every damned thing. Especially the lady sitting next to me. It was like watching a show in an insane asylum. Which reminds me: When I was a teenager in the 1960s, I saw the Broadway play "Marat/Sade" — "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade." That's where it looked as though Broadway would go. Into immense creativity and sophistication. It's so sad what happened instead.

July 11, 2018

At the Post-Impressionist Museum...

P1170876

... you can pay attention to anything you want...

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... including the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"The Extinction of the Middle Child/They’re becoming an American rarity, just when America could use them the most."

Meade (a middle child) sent me (a middle child) the link to that article at The Cut.
As the ideal number of children per family has shrunk to two — that’s not me speaking, it’s demographics — the middle child, in a very real sense, is disappearing....

[Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler] believed that, by virtue of being burdened neither by excessive expectation (like the firstborn) nor excessive attention (like the lastborn), middleborns are uniquely poised to succeed.... Many of Adler’s notions about birth order have been questioned or even discounted by subsequent psychologists, but his notion that middleness is a secret superpower is enjoying a resurgence. This argument is less about rethinking what attributes a middle child might possess and more about reframing the traditional middle-child attributes as advantages. In this revisionist school of middleness, for example, middle children are seen as skilled diplomats by virtue of being stuck between two siblings. They’re portrayed as loyal romantic partners and friends, because they are both hungry for intimate bonds and willing to compromise to maintain relationships. And they’re believed to be natural innovators, since they’re less likely to feel the weight of parental expectation....
Somewhere in that long piece the author has to struggle with the inconvenient fact that Donald Trump was a middle child. So was Nixon. Workaround: They were "functionally firstborn" (because their older brother died).

"Hi, sweetie. It’s Mom. Do you remember Mr. Levert? He lived behind the high school with that garden. You’d do yard work over there sometimes?"

"He loved you; I’m sure you remember. Anyway, he was in a car accident. Died on impact. Call me back."

From "Lede-Buried Voicemails from Your Mom" (Via Metafilter).

What Andy Warhol thought of Jasper Johns: "Oh, I think he’s great. He makes such great lunches."



#1 on the list "The 30 Harshest Artist-on-Artist Insults In History" (Flavorwire).

"When you just say the ideas they sound foolish, whereas if they’re dramatized one feels it," said Stanley Kubrick about the ending of "2001."

But he tries to just say it:
The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.

They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but weren’t quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what to do in zoos with animals, we try to give them what we think is their natural environment.

Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made some sort of superman. And we have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.

Things you don't really need to do.

I'm reading "The Weird Rise of Shandy, a Drink You Really Need to Give a Second Chance" at Thrillist:
I’m standing in line at the liquor store. In one hand, I have a six-pack of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. In the other, I have Short Pants Shandy from Bauhaus. The guy in front of me looks me up and down like a cartoon wolf.

He doesn’t seem to like what he sees.

I didn’t ask what he took issue with, but let’s assume it was the beer and not a natural aversion to dad bods. It’s not an uncommon reaction to shandy in the US. Like other sweet beers and cocktails, it’s looked down on or dismissively feminized by men... Others give it short shrift because they view it as less than beer because it’s a mix of beer and lemonade added after the brewing process.....
Oh, no. That sounds so, wrong, on so many levels... especially....

"This was all the result of my psychiatrist, Willie Nelson, calling me at 3 O’clock in the morning as I was watching Matlock."

"He asked me what I was doing. And I said, 'Well, I’m watching Matlock.' And he said, 'Well, that is the surest sign of depression. Turn ‘em off, Kinky, turn Matlock off and start writing.' And this inspired me because Willie is older, and he took the time and the energy, as a lot of people don’t, to encourage somebody. And then these songs came very fast, most of ‘em based on a silent witness of some kind, written to a silent witness, a dog, or a missing cat, or a dead sweetheart. So I consider these my Matlock collection. And there’s some wisdom to what Willie said, too. We may all have a Matlock, but we may not realize what it is — but if we can turn it off, god knows what we can accomplish. I hadn’t written songs in forty years, and these sound like they were channeled in from Leonard Cohen, or early Kristofferson, or something like that. I think all of ‘em are tragic songs. Best writing I’ve ever done."

From "Kinky Friedman’s New Album “Circus of Life” Is Full of Surprises/The Texas songwriting legend says we ought to give Donald Trump a chance" (RealClear/Life).

What's the part about giving Trump a chance?

"Yup – we were duped. Ya’ got me, Sacha. Feel better now?" — says Sarah Palin.

"I join a long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick ‘humor’ of the British ‘comedian’ Sacha Baron Cohen, enabled and sponsored by CBS/Showtime.... Out of respect for what I was led to believe would be a thoughtful discussion with someone who had served in uniform, I sat through a long ‘interview’ full of Hollywoodism’s disrespect and sarcasm – but finally had enough and literally, physically removed my mic and walked out, much to Cohen’s chagrin... The disrespect of our US military and middle-class Americans via Cohen’s foreign commentaries under the guise of interview questions was perverse.'"

Quoted at Deadline Hollywood.

By the way, the standard expression is "much to my chagrin." I think each individual is entitled to give his own report of his own chagrin. I'll wait to hear from Sacha Baron Cohen about whether he was chagrined. No I won't! He wasn't chagrined. Does Sarah Palin even know the meaning of the word? "Acute vexation, annoyance, or mortification, arising from disappointment, thwarting, or failure" (OED).

Palin is once again looking dumb. And here she is trying to defend herself in advance from some comedy clip that, I'll bet, makes her look dumb.

As for the quality of the humor and whether it's evil... I'll wait and see the show for myself. I'm impressed that Cohen is able to trick anyone anymore. His face is famous and his game is old. I've greatly enjoyed his interviews in the past, and when he goes after famous people, especially those who seek to exercise political power, I give him plenty of leeway. Puncture the pretentious. We need comedians to do that.



Will the Supreme Court be nakedly political without the skimpy string bikini that was Anthony Kennedy?

Lawprofs Lee Epstein and Eric Posner have a NYT column with the titillating title "If the Supreme Court Is Nakedly Political, Can It Be Just?" .
In the past 10 years, however, justices have hardly ever voted against the ideology of the president who appointed them. Only Justice Kennedy, named to the court by Ronald Reagan, did so with any regularity. That is why with his replacement on the court an ideologically committed Republican justice, it will become impossible to regard the court as anything but a partisan institution....

Republicans still can’t forgive President Reagan for appointing two moderates, Justices O’Connor and Kennedy, and President George H. W. Bush for appointing Justice Souter, who veered left.... Assaults on judicial independence are made easier when the public comes to view the judiciary as a political body. This risk, and not just the identity of the next justice, should be at the center of public attention.
The headline is cagey, with the use of the adjective "nakedly" and the verb "is." Consider the alternative "If the Supreme Court Is Completely Political and Looks Exactly Like What It Is, Can It Be Just?"?

With that change, which I've done to separate out independent propositions, the final clause doesn't work anymore. There's no musing over the meaning of justice worth doing. I'd want to change it to "If the Supreme Court Is Completely Political and Looks Exactly Like What It Is, Will the People Accept Its Exercise of Power?"

Epstein and Posner are concerned that when the Supreme Court splits 5-4, we will now, without Kennedy, always know who the 5 and the 4 are. Kennedy preserved a little mystery. He was the skimpy string bikini on the otherwise naked Supreme Court. But if this nudism analogy is any good, the Court will be less sexy when completely naked. That's what I've heard about nudist colonies. The skimpy bikini gets the mind churning away about the last little bits of unrevealed skin.

Without Kennedy, the political grouping of the Justices — appointed by a Democrat and appointed by a Republican — may feel quite dull and predictable. It won't be that these judges are just reaching policy outcomes and lying to us about law. Not all opinions will be 5-4, but when they are, it's because they're complicated enough to go either way, and intuitions about where the right answers are affect reasoning that is still creditably legal, especially to observers who want and need the Court to be a functioning part of our system of separated powers.

The naked Court will be political in a way that's as unremarkable as 9 middle-aged nudists sunning on lounge chairs by the pool.

At the NATO summit, Trump "singled out Germany... saying the country was 'totally controlled by Russia' because of its dependence on Russian natural gas."

"The United States spends heavily to defend Germany from Russia, he said, and 'Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.' In March, Germany gave approval for Gazprom, the Russian energy titan, to construct the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through its waters, a $10 billion project. 'Germany is a captive of Russia' because of the oil and gas issue, Mr. Trump said. 'I think it’s something that NATO has to look at.... How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the country you want protection against?'"

From "NATO Summit Live Updates: Trump Calls Alliance ‘Delinquent’ on Military Spending." Trump also complained, "Many countries are not paying what they should, and, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back," but the NYT piece doesn't specify whether German is one of the countries that owes us money.

According to an AP fact check, no NATO member actually owes the U.S. money but:
In 2014... NATO members agreed to stop cutting their military budgets and set a goal of moving “toward” spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their own defense — by 2024. It was not a “commitment,” not a direct contribution to NATO, not a payment owed to the U.S., and not something that alliance members pledged to achieve immediately.

Trump is right that most NATO members are spending less than 2 percent of their GDP on their defense budget, though more are moving in that direction.
So is Germany one of the NATO members that aren't spending enough? From Defense News:
A “league table” of NATO members shows that the United States is still way ahead of other allies’ spending, with defense expenditure accounting for 3.57 percent of its GDP in 2017.

Greece at 2.36 perpercent, the U.K. at 2.12 percent, and Estonia at 2.08 percent are the next best performers in terms of meeting the GDP target. The laggards are tiny Luxembourg (0.46 percent), Belgium (0.90 percent), Spain (0.92 percent) and Slovenia (0.98 percent).

In 2017 the report says the U.K. spent some $55.2 billion on defense, Germany $45.4 billion and France $45.9 billion. But this still pales when compared with the United States’ $685.9 billion in spending.

When it comes to the proportion spent on defense as a share of GDP, Europe has fallen from just under 3 percent in 1989 to 1.95 percent last year.
I'm seeing elsewhere that Germany's 2017 GDP was $3,686.6 billion, so I think it's spending 1.245% and is falling $73.7 billion short of the goal it is supposed to be moving toward. [CORRECTION: $73.7 billion is the total needed to meet the goal. Germany is $27.8 billion short.] Trump's point is that the mutual defense commitment puts the U.S. in the position of having to carry far too much of the weight. I presume that the other countries are taking advantage of what the U.S. has seemed to want to do for its own security.

ADDED:

July 10, 2018

At the Tread Lightly Café...

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... you can keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.

The photo is from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Here's an idea: Buy something for yourself at Amazon using the Althouse Portal. For example, I just bought this transistor radio (is that still the right term — transistor?).

Will attacking Kavanaugh help or hurt Democrats in the fall elections?

It's at least complicated, and I can clearly see the motivation of conservatives to say Democrats are better off not fighting the ostensibly well-qualified nominee. It's easy to warn that they'll only hurt themselves. The effort to make Kavanaugh look like a right-wing ideologue will make them look like extreme leftists who don't care how a court is supposed to work.

I don't know if that might be close to what Democrats are admitting to themselves privately, but I'm seeing public expression of the idea that it's to the Democrats' advantage to fight Kavanaugh. From The Intercept:
Chuck Schumer is warning Democrats in the chamber that if they don’t put up a brutal fight over the next Supreme Court justice, there will be hell to pay from the Democratic base, according to senior Senate aides briefed on Schumer’s message....

Democratic senators and activists gathered outside the Supreme Court Monday night to pledge a willingness to fight the nominee. “Are you ready for a fight? Are you ready to defend Roe versus Wade?” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked the crowd of hundreds. Blumenthal, Warren, and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon joined Sanders at the court.
Just because he knows the "base" demands a brutal fight doesn't mean he believes it will put the party in better shape for the fall elections.

Maybe he intends to "pay hell." Don't the Democrats want the other party to look crazy and irresponsible? I'm going to predict that these early gestures about fighting are a sop to the base, and that when it comes to the hearings the Democrats will tone it down to the usual passionate statements about the importance of preserving the constitutional rights they like and expressions of concern that Kavanaugh isn't sufficiency forthright answering specific question. That is, the usual theater.

"The government said on Tuesday that it would release hundreds of migrant families wearing ankle bracelet monitors into the United States..."

"... effectively returning to the 'catch and release' policy that President Trump promised to eliminate. Faced with a pair of court orders restricting immigration detentions, federal officials said they could not hold all of the migrant families who were apprehended at the southwestern border. They said their hands were tied by dueling requirements to release children from detention after 20 days and also keep them with their parents or other adult relatives...."

The NYT reports.

Great news: All 12 boys — and their coach — are now out of the Thai cave!

The NYT reports.
“Twelve Boars and coach are out of the cave. Everyone is safe. Now we are waiting to welcome our frogmen,” read a post on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page on Tuesday night.

Soon after, another post went up: “We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what. All the thirteen Wild Boars are now out of the cave.”
Also in the article are quotes from the letters the boys wrote to their family when they were still trapped:
One boy promised to do his chores when he gets home. Another asked for barbecued pork....

“Don’t worry about me,” wrote Ekkarat Wongsookchan, 13, who is called Bew. “I’ve been away for two weeks. I’ll help Mom every day. I’ll be back soon.”

“I’m happy in here,” wrote Panumat Saengdee, 14, known as Mix. “The SEAL team takes very good care of us.”
Beautiful! What a lesson in gratitude.

"In the weeks ahead, we’re going to spend a lot of time going over Brett Kavanaugh’s biography — where he’s from and what he’s written. But that’s not the most important way to understand the guy."

Right. Because Kavanaugh, on his own, is completely boring. A normal person hearing the announcement, got excited for 2 seconds before the name was said, then immediately lost interest and moved on. Kavanaugh is a name we'll see for years, merged with other dull names, in Supreme Court opinions that we won't have thought about all that much, because we'll know how they're going to come out. No surprise. No, gee, I wonder how Justice K thinks about these complexities. The new Justice K won't be someone you need to get to know so intimately.

So David Brooks is taking the right tack here:
Kavanaugh is the product of a community. He is the product of a conservative legal infrastructure that develops ideas, recruits talent, links rising stars, nurtures genius, molds and launches judicial nominees. It almost doesn’t matter which Republican is president. The conservative legal infrastructure is the entity driving the whole project. It almost doesn’t even matter if Kavanaugh is confirmed or shot down; there are dozens more who can fill the vacancy, just as smart and just as conservative. 
A judge should seem boring, right? He should seem like a humble servant discovering the meaning of the law and faithfully articulating it. The great accomplishment (described in detail at the link) was to make the conservative view of law feel so completely normal that a judge like Kavanaugh would bore us, instead of seeming like a monstrous outlier, as we were made to see Robert Bork.

I vividly remember this depiction (click to enlarge):

Bork should have been confirmed, of course, and would have been confirmed if there had been a structure around him to explain and defend conservative judges. Brooks explains how in the years since Bork's defeat that structure has been built. But if that had not been needed, Justice Kennedy — about whose swingable moderation liberals wring their hands today — would never have sat on the Court. All these years, Bork would have staked out the right end of the Court, and who knows how much that would have affected all the other Justices and Presidents? Everything would have been different. Perhaps the Federalist Society would not have grown the way it did. Perhaps Bork would not have died of heart disease in 2012, but if he did, would the President who replaced him have been Barack Obama?

"The sudden response to something sad happening. This sadness can go from mildly inconveniencing to a tragedy of some sort."

The Urban Dictionary definition of "This is so sad Alexa play despacito."

The sample use is dialogue: "Hey man my phone just died"/"This is so sad Alexa play despacito." It seems to fit the niche that used to be occupied by: "Cue the world's tiniest violin."

Here's the Know Your Meme article on "Despacito," including the video of the song (which I won't embed here, because I don't do all the remedial education anyone might need). It's the most-watched video of all time, I'm reading.

Here are the lyrics, translated into English, in case you're wondering what is ludicrously sad about it. Short answer: nothing. It's about sex:
Slowly
I want to undress you in kisses slowly
Firmly in the walls of your labyrinth
And of your body, I want to create a manuscript
Up, up
Up, up, up
I want to see your hair dance...
Let me trespass your danger zones
Until I make you scream
And you forget your last name...
I want to see how much love fits in you
I’m not in a rush I want to experience this trip
Let’s start slowly, then savagely...

"Iranian officials have grown increasingly exercised by the online behavior of their fellow citizens."

"In the 'Wrong Path' [TV] program, a justice official said that many people online suffer from 'inferiority complexes' and are only interested in getting as many likes as possible. Talking to one of those arrested, the official, Farid Najafnia, said he was shocked. 'I asked, Did you have no shame, no modesty,' he said in an interview for the TV program. 'You published publicly the most private things that should be protected by personal privacy. She said: I recognize cyberspace as a totally private space. Private, in a way that for instance 8,000 people would come and like it? Is this real? Is this true?'"

From "Iran’s Shaming of Young Dancer Draws Backlash" (NYT). The story begins with a focus on one teenage girl, Maedeh Hojabri, who put up a video on YouTube of herself dancing in her bedroom. She was arrested and, later, she turned up on the show "Wrong Path," crying and saying that dancing is crime. She has supporters who have protested by putting up videos of themselves dancing.

The Iranian government looks so awful in its criminalization of dancing, arrest of teenagers who post videos on YouTube, and putting individual citizens through televised shaming, but the fretting about the effect of social media and wondering what the government should do doesn't sound so alien.
Last week the judiciary warned that Instagram, which has 24 million users in Iran, might be closed because of its “unwanted content.” Ms. Hojabri, and other internet celebrities like her are called “antlers” by hard-liners for the way they stand out on Instagram....
Antlers! I guess that's Iranian slang denoting things that stick out. Maybe there's an Iranian "Urban Dictionary" out there, but I thought our own beloved Urban Dictionary might have picked up the Iranian slang. The top definition works well enough:
Anything that sticks out from anything else... oh man, I think my pants antler just leaked.
ADDED: The question whether "cyberspace as a totally private space" is especially important because Iranians are allowed to dance in their private spaces, just not in public. The teenager was in her bedroom, obviously a private space, but she put video up on YouTube. Does that constitute dancing in public? An American-style answer to that question is that the government ought to at least be forced to make a clear statement outlawing publicly sharing video of dancing done in private.

"Hey, folks, Francis Carlton Crowley is NOT AN IMMIGRANT. He is an irresponsible, drug-taking WHITE AMERICAN MALE."

"Let's see if Trump tweets about Crowley burying and abandoning a WHITE BABY in the mountains. Then again, babies don't rank high on Trump's list of important people, even American babies. By the way, neither do non-rich white American males. Vote November 2018. Gird [sic] the Trump tree."

That's the second-highest-rated comment on "‘This is what we call a miracle’: A faint cry reveals a baby abandoned in the cold Montana mountains," a WaPo column about a man who seems to have left a baby under a pile of sticks and leaves, where it lay for 9 nine hours in 46° weather.

Also in WaPo right now, "Woman beats a 91-year-old Mexican man with a brick, tells him to ‘go back to your country,'" which is a story based on the testimony of one witness who presented video of the old man after whatever had happened to bloody his face.

The witness has told the Post that the man "accidentally bumped into a young girl while walking on the sidewalk," and that the mother pushed the man down and "repeatedly bash[ed] him in the face with a concrete brick while yelling, 'Go back to your country.'" There is no description of this woman, but, we are told, by this one witness, that after what the woman did, "A group of young men bounded down the street, accusing Rodriguez of trying to snatch the young girl. They kicked Rodriguez, who was already crumpled on the ground, and stomped on his head."

Police were called, there's an ongoing investigation, but no one was caught, and there is no description of the woman or the group of men. I hope I'm not being cynical to assume that since the attackers are not described as white, that they were black. The Post talked to the eyewitness and presents the attack as racist, with this paragraph tossed in:
[The] attack comes after the Department of Justice released its recent hate crime statistics, reported by KCRA. The 2017 California report, which was the first published since President Trump took office, evinced an uptick of more than 17 percent, with anti-Hispanic and anti-Latino crimes soaring over 50 percent last year, according to the Saramento Bee.
At the base of the article are links to 3 recent articles: "A man confronted a teenage neighbor over early morning fireworks — then shot him to death, police say," "#IDAdam, the white man who called police on a woman at their neighborhood pool, loses his job," "A black lawmaker was canvassing door to door in her district. A constituent called 911." All of those stories present black individuals who seem to have been treated as though they were intruders in their own neighborhood.

I look at the comments on the article about the concrete brick attack, beginning with the oldest. The third one begins:
The Daily Mail has a screen cap of the woman that did this...
The link goes to a clear image of a black woman. And here's the whole story in The Daily Mail.

The attack is terrible, but The Washington Post also deserves condemnation for deceptively jamming this story into its racial template and scamming its readers. At least it leaves the comments on, allowing the blatant gap in the story to be instantly filled.

UPDATE: The "Woman beats a 91-year-old Mexican man" article now says "Borjas, a 35-year-old Los Angeles resident, watched the child’s mother — a black woman — push the elderly man to the ground and repeatedly bash him in the face with a concrete brick while yelling, 'go back to your country.'" I wish I'd quoted the sentence verbatim instead of paraphrasing some of it. I wrote: "The witness has told the Post that the man 'the mother pushed the man down and 'repeatedly bash[ed] him in the face with a concrete brick while yelling, "Go back to your country."'" So that's the part of the article where the reference to race now appears. I am sure if "a black woman" had been there when I quoted that part, I would have seen it, and I also used a search-the-page function to check for racial words. I'm trying to find a cached version of the original article, but the usual techniques don't seem to work for me on this one.

ADDED: The part that I quoted is enough to prove that a change was made! I have "the mother pushed the man down," and what's there is now "the child’s mother — a black woman — push the elderly man to the ground." It's the same sentence, rewritten, with "a black woman" added.

July 9, 2018

At the "Epic Fail" Café...

P1180214

... you can talk about whatever you like (though you should put comments on the new Supreme Court nominee in the previous post).

The sculpture is "Catt," by Eva and Franco Mattes (2010), photographed by me at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. It is made of a taxidermy cat and bird along with a birdcage and pedestal. I assume the pets died of natural causes. The words "Epic Fail" appear on the image (but are not visible in my photograph).

Trump makes the solid and instantly boring choice: Kavanaugh.

I was listening on the car radio, so I don't yet know how it looked, but it sounded very stolid and dignified. Who can object to anything? Of course, they will, but they'll look unserious.

"Anticipation Builds Ahead Of Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Unveiling."

NPR reminds us.

I'm linking to that to give you a place to talk about it. I don't see the need to talk right now, but the media are doing Trump's bidding, making something that works well for his political purposes the center of attention all day today. I'll pay attention when he makes the announcement.

Such theater! But that's what Trump does. He's the showman, and the haters can't help amplifying him and making the show ever bigger.

And they know they're doing that. They just have to do it anyway, because it works for them too.

Which is what makes Trump's showmanship particularly great. And he frequently brags about this: The media are doing well for themselves with their anti-Trumpism.

It's the best kind of deal, when self-interest for everyone is mutually reinforcing and everyone, even natural antagonists, end up working earnestly and diligently in the same direction. 

4 more boys out of the cave...

"... in a second round of rescue operations in Thailand on Monday," CBS News reports.

Ocasio-Cortez derangement syndrome.

Some people seem to be losing their mind over a politically beautiful face. Linked by Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit, here's Thomas Lifson at American Thinker:
Someone with deep knowledge of what expensive make-up can do to remake a human visage into something very different from the au naturel version went to work on her. In tandem with her transformation from nerd to a female Che Guevara, she morphed from capitalist to membership in a party that wants to “abolish profit.”

Ever since an iconic photograph of Che Guevara was enough to cover-up and glamorize a murderous thug who made a point of watching his opponents executed by firing squad, the puppet masters of the radical left have understood the value of a dramatic and glamorous picture in brainwashing young skulls full of mush.

I don’t know who got ahold of young Ms. Ocasio Cortez and paid for the makeover, but it was someone who understands the manipulation of the “masses” (as they describe their targeted dupes) very well.
The 2 photos do indeed create a very different impression, but you're comparing a 28-year-old face to a 22-year old face. Other than that, the difference is lipstick — who cares if it's "expensive" or not? — and pulling the hair back into a bun instead of letting it hang loose. And one picture is a frame taken from low-quality video while the other is a professionally lit still photograph (probably photoshopped for use on a campaign poster).

There is one other thing: eyebrows. Eyebrows have been a big deal these last few years, and the magazines aimed at all classes of women have stressed makeup tips for eyebrows. Here's Cosmopolitan from a couple months ago: "11 Easy Ways to Get Your Best Brows Ever/Because the simplest trick can make the biggest difference." In keeping with the current style, Ocasio-Cortez has accentuated her eyebrows.

Ocasio-Cortez is a naturally great looking woman. Her current look doesn't prove that "someone with deep knowledge" has done a "transformation" and that "someone who understands the manipulation of the 'masses'" is backing her and has "got ahold of" her.

But nice job of showing how scared of her you are.

"The Polish historian & political scientist Jerzy Targalski remained completely unruffled during our interview when this happened."


IN THE COMMENTS: AustinRoth said:
Now THAT is a pussy hat!

"An Israeli newlywed couple on their honeymoon collided while zip-lining in Honduras, leaving the husband dead and the wife seriously injured..."

"The wife was zip-lining amid the treetops in Roatán, the largest of Honduras’s Bay Islands, when she became stuck shortly before 1:30 p.m. Thursday... As she remained halfway down the cable, her husband came gliding down the zip line from behind, slamming into her....  The Honduran Institute of Tourism told Radio America it regretted the accident, saying it was due to 'poor operation' on behalf of the couple... 'Swoop above exotic plants, giant African Palms and beautiful landscapes,' reads the Royal Caribbean description of the zip line tour, which consists of 12 zip lines, double gliding parallel cables, 18 platforms and four hiking trails. The longest cable stretches for 1,950 feet and the highest reaches of 300 feet above the ground. 'You’ll receive your equipment and instructions before starting on the first three lines flying over trees and the breathtaking tropical scenery'..."

WaPo reports.

From the comments over there: "I don't have a bucket list, I have a f*ckit list. Zip-lining just made the list...." And: "I wonder if Vlad will want to do ziplining during his eHarmony summit."