July 21, 2018

The flowers of July jeer...


... we can do July! Screw all those other flowers!

If you don't like lilies, get the hell out of Madison in July!

Some people will never understand us "undecideds."

"President Donald Trump's lawyers have waived attorney-client privilege on his behalf regarding a secretly recorded conversation he had in September 2016 with his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen..."

"... in which they discussed payments to an ex-Playboy model who says she had an affair with the President, according to sources familiar with the matter. The move comes as an attorney for Cohen openly questioned Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's claim that the tape showed no wrongdoing by the President, furthering the growing divide between Trump and Cohen, who had once said he'd take a bullet for the President. Trump's lawyers asking on behalf of the President to remove the privilege designation from the recording means that the government now has access to it as part of the US attorney for the Southern District of New York's probe into Cohen. It effectively gives prosecutors the ability to use the recording if they find it relevant to their criminal investigation of Cohen. The prosecutors working on the case had not reviewed the recording because it, along with millions of other documents and files seized in FBI searches of Cohen's home, hotel room and office in April, was undergoing the special master process, in which an independent party reviews whether the items should be regarded as privileged and thus withheld from prosecutors. The special master had designated the recording as privileged...."

CNN reports.

Fascinating game play!

It makes us feel that the tape will show Trump did nothing wrong. But could it be worth it to waive the privilege just to give us that feeling for now? Trump has nothing to hide. Stop guessing about what might be in there that's bad for Trump, because he's waiving the privilege. The effect at this point is valuable enough that I'm still suspicious that the tape contains something that might at least arguably show wrongdoing. But that's a question that will unfold at some later date, and when it come time to argue about whatever's in the tape, the question whether it shows wrongdoing will be analyzed by minds that have been prepped by Trump's previous waiving of the privilege and therefore susceptible to the argument that no wrongdoing is shown.

I hope that's not the most abstruse thing I've ever written on this blog!

ADDED: CNN seems to contradict itself:

1. Rudy Giuliani (Trump's lawyer now) said the tape has Cohen and Trump "discussing potential payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleges Trump an affair with her. Trump denies the allegation."

2. "When the existence of the apparent deal with AMI was first reported by The Wall Street Journal just days before the election, the campaign said that the President was unaware of anything relating to a McDougal payoff, and Hope Hicks—then a spokeswoman—denied that Trump even had an affair with McDougal. But the recording, made two months earlier, suggests otherwise."

"Steve Bannon... told The Daily Beast that he is setting up a foundation in Europe called The Movement..."

"... which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent starting with the European Parliament elections next spring."
The non-profit will be a central source of polling, advice on messaging, data targeting, and think-tank research for a ragtag band of right-wingers who are surging all over Europe, in many cases without professional political structures or significant budgets.

Bannon’s ambition is for his organization ultimately to rival the impact of Soros’s Open Society, which has given away $32 billion to largely liberal causes since it was established in 1984....

ADDED: I looked up "ragtag" in the OED and learned that the earlier phrase was "tag and rag" — and insult for "all the components of the masses or those of lower social status; a gathering of people held in low esteem; all and any, every man Jack, everybody, Tom, Dick, and Harry." Example:
1610 A. Cooke Pope Joane in Harl. Misc. (Malh.) IV. 95 That you have made Levites..of the scurvy and scabbed, of the lowest of the people, tag and rag...
18.. R. Southey Devil's Walk xxiii With music of fife and drum, And a consecrated flag, And shout of tag and rag, And march of rank and file.
Also, "ragtag" originally appeared in the longer phrase, "rag-tag and bob-tail" (or "rag, tag and bob-tail") — "A disreputable or disorganized group of people; the lowest element of a community; the riff-raff or rabble."
1725 W. Teague Let. in Mist's Weekly Jrnl. 2 Oct. My Assistance in this Piece of Impudence, if it should ever succeed, will be esteemed Persons of Worth and Reputation, especially if they should be indicted, though they are Rag-Tag, and Bob-tail, and be thought witty....
The OED has that as the earliest example, but I easily found an earlier example in Samuel Pepys diary, Tuesday 6 March 1659/60 (except that he puts the "tag" before the "rag"):
... I went to see Mrs. Jem, at whose chamber door I found a couple of ladies, but she not being there, we hunted her out, and found that she and another had hid themselves behind a door. Well, they all went down into the dining-room, where it was full of tag, rag, and bobtail, dancing, singing, and drinking, of which I was ashamed, and after I had staid a dance or two I went away.... 
AND: As long as I'm looking up words, I looked up "meddle," which basically means "mix." I was amused to see that one meaning is "To have sexual intercourse (with)." This is an old, old, old meaning:
c1400 (▸c1378) Langland Piers Plowman (Laud 581) (1869) B. xi. 335 (MED) Alle other bestes Medled nou╚Łte wyth here makes ├żat with fole were....
?a1450 (▸1422) Lydgate Serpent of Div. (McClean) 63 (MED) Hit sempte vnto hym in his slepe ├żat he medled fleschely with his owne moder....
1695 W. Congreve Love for Love i. xi. 10 I never could meddle with a Woman, that had to do with any body else.

"I often choose My Childhood Home for my stay when I am in town because of its affordability, but more and more, I am wondering if it is worth it."

"Now, whenever I visit, one of the hosts will dump a pile of my old trinkets and report cards on the bed, and tell me to go through it and take anything I want, because otherwise she’s throwing it out. If the hosts didn’t want their home to exist forever as a Museum to My 6-Year-Old Self, then why did they even have kids in the first place?? I rarely give one-star reviews, but ever since the hosts remodeled the kitchen last year, none of my cereal bowls are where they used to be."

Great comic essay, "Airbnb Reviews of My Childhood Home" by Riane Konc. It's in the NYT, so many of you will probably decline to read it, but I hope you get the idea! It's not just funny.

I'm trying to understand "Why [Maggie Haberman] Needed to Pull Back From Twitter."

Much of this column, by Haberman at the NYT, is what you always read about social media: some mean and trollish things are said. But that's been true all along, so it doesn't explain why Maggie Haberman needed to get out of a place where she'd been writing for a long time. I'm slogging through the generic critique of Twitter, looking for the specific.

Haberman's announcement that she was taking a "break" from Twitter came last Sunday, and her new column begins, "I woke up last Sunday morning feeling anxiety in my chest as I checked the Twitter app on my phone...." So it's possible that it's all about a worrisome physical symptom. Or perhaps she'd already hated the pressure to tweet and the physical symptom gave her the nerve or the leverage to tell the people at the NYT she wasn't going to do that part of the job anymore.

She presents herself as free to make her own choice not to tweet:
The evening before, I had complained to a close friend that I hated being on Twitter. It was distorting discourse, I said. I couldn’t turn off the noise. She asked what was the worst that could happen if I stepped away from it. There was nothing I could think of. And so just after 6 p.m. last Sunday, I did.

After nearly nine years and 187,000 tweets, I have used Twitter enough to know that it no longer works well for me. I will re-engage eventually, but in a different way.
Is it a purely individual decision like this and not part of what her employers expect her to do?

I remember when I started blogging and loved it and began encouraging my law school colleagues to do it too, nearly all of them were wary — mostly about the time it would take and the distraction — and many of them quickly leapt to the question: Are we going to be required to blog? So, often, over the years, I've thought about how different blogging would be if it were required. Basically, it would be no good at all! The intrinsic good feeling of self-expression would be overwhelmed by annoyance at a disembodied Ghost of Obligation leaning over me, judging me: Have I done enough? In fact, part of what made blogging so energizing for me was the concern that I shouldn't be doing this, that it was transgressive. I've never had the feeling that I'm doing what I'm supposed to, and if that feeling crept into my blogging, I'd change my pattern one way or another.

You may notice that I hardly ever tweet. I'm immersed in the blog, where I have so much choice about what to talk about and how things look on the front page. On Twitter, you have to continually throw things into a big flowing river, and you don't know how or if they float by in whatever it is someone else is seeing when they look at Twitter. It's so unstable and ephemeral. The only way to be more than a meaningless glimmer is if you get other people to boost you with retweets and responses, making people do things — that is, manipulating. And you have to do it constantly, or you're nothing in Twitter. Where did all your work go? You can click on your name and see a page of all you've written, but that doesn't seem to be where anyone else goes. Why are you participating in this immense group project?

But then blogging isn't my job. And tweeting really isn't my job. I would have thought tweeting was part of Haberman's job and that she has extracted an accommodation from her employer. But she does not address the journalist's obligation to tweet.

She does say that what's bad about Twitter has become worse lately: "The viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism are at all-time highs..." Who knows if that's true? Oh, no! I'm motive-questioning!

And it's not just the quality, it's the quantity:
Everyone I follow on the site seems to be tweeting more frequently, so I had to check in more frequently. No matter the time of day or night, I felt like I had to plug back into the Matrix, only to be overwhelmed by the amount of content.
And, finally, she sneaks up on the subject of Trump:
On Twitter, everything is shrunk down to the same size, making it harder to discern what is a big deal and what is not. Tone often overshadows the actual news. All outrages appear equal. And that makes it harder for significant events — like Mr. Trump’s extraordinarily pliant performance with President Vladimir Putin of Russia — to break through.
Well, yeah, but Haberman pulled back on Twitter the day before the summit. But I see the awful problem. Everyone's writing constantly trying to be seen and that requires even more writing so that you can be seen. And it's got to be galling when what you want seen is how terrible Trump is, and there's Trump, not just being President, but dominating on Twitter...

Ooh! Must we talk about that?!

Back to Haberman:
[P]eople on Twitter have started... treating me as if I am a protagonist [antagonist?] in the president’s narrative. I found myself in the middle of swarms of vicious Twitter attacks, something that has happened to many other journalists in the Trump era. He creates the impression that the media is almost as powerful as he is in his incessant, personalized attacks on reporters on Twitter. But here’s the thing: Most of us don’t want to be part of the story.
Or... don't want to be part of the story when he's able to be right there on the same platform and taking the liberty to attack you directly and by name. But why wouldn't you want to stay in there, putting up your tweets, defending your work and your reputation, where it will surely be retweeted and amplified by other journalists?

ADDED: Rereading this post, I'm seeing "what made blogging so energizing for me was the concern that I shouldn't be doing this, that it was transgressive" and thinking Trump... that's how Trump feels about tweeting... and maybe about being President.

July 20, 2018

At the Reader's Caf├ę...


... you can read and write all night.

(And think of using the old Althouse Portal to Amazon. I myself used Amazon today. I bought some vanilla extract. I put it in plain yogurt, along with some Sucradrops, to make a low-carb meal-dessert.)

"NINE members of the same family are among 17 killed in duck-boat tragedy, as survivors reveal how they were TRAPPED inside the boat as it sank and were 'sucked' under as they tried to swim away."

The Daily Mail reports.
Family confirmed the death of grandmother Leslie Dennison, who had been on the boat with her 12-year-old granddaughter Alicia... [Alicia] said she could feel Leslie pushing her up as the boat filled with water. 'She said her grandmother saved her,' he told the paper....

Harrowing footage taken by others on a different boat nearby showed their small vessel bobbing up and down in the water as water climbed up its sides. A severe storm warning was issued by local agencies at 6.30pm, 30 minutes before the boat got into trouble....

"Notes found in one of the diaries hint that a strong belief that supernatural forces would intervene and save them could have motivated the family to hang themselves."

BBC reports, in "Were occult practices behind India's 'house of mass hangings'?"
The notes in the diaries laid out exactly how the family [of 11] needed to "hang themselves" before they were to be saved. Many of these "instructions" appear to have been carried out... The diaries also said the family needed to cover their eyes and mouths with a cloth during the "ritual". It also specified certain rituals to be performed for seven consecutive days before the "final day". The rituals, it said, would "invoke the spirit" which would ask them to "complete" the task the following day. The notes also said that his mother, Devi, should be "made to go to sleep" in the next room if she "can't stand". It mentioned the time of the "final act" - between midnight and 1am. It also said on that day the "earth would tremble and the sky would shake and it is then that I will come to rescue you".

Police said they are still trying to understand if or why the rest of the family went along with the plans. They believe it is possible that the Chundawat family was suffering from "shared psychotic disorder".... [B]ased on footage from CCTV cameras installed around the neighbourhood, police suspect that the "ritual" mentioned in the notes could have begun on 26 June when one member of the family met a temple priest.
"Temple priest" — what religion are we talking about here? Maybe I missed it, but I don't think any religion is specified. I can see wanting to protect religions from association with this horror, but I don't think facts this significant should be suppressed in a news report.

Here's another report, in The Hindi, with much more detail:

The "indigenous man in the hole" — the last survivor of an uncontacted Amazon tribe — who has lived alone for at least 22 years.

"Semi-naked and swinging an axe vigorously as he fells a tree, the man, believed to be in his 50s, has never been filmed so clearly before and appears to be in excellent health."
“He is very well, hunting, maintaining some plantations of papaya, corn,” said Altair Algayer, a regional coordinator for the Brazilian government indigenous agency Funai in the Amazon state of Rond├┤nia, who was with the team who filmed the footage from a distance. “He has good health and a good physical shape doing all those exercises.”...

Loggers, farmers and land grabbers murdered and expelled indigenous populations in the area in the 1970s and 1980s, and the man is believed to be the only survivor of a group of six killed during an attack by farmers in 1995. He was first located in 1996 and has been monitored by Funai ever since.

Funai has a policy of avoiding contact with isolated groups and has protected his area since the 1990s. The indigenous reserve of Tanaru was legally set up in 2015. Axes, machetes and seeds traditionally planted by indigenous people have been left for the man to find, Algayer said, but he clearly wants nothing to do with mainstream society.

“I understand his decision,” said Algayer. “It is his sign of resistance, and a little repudiation, hate, knowing the story he went through.”
They read his mind, this poor man who's been alone so long. How could they know what he feels is hate and not fear and that his desire is to resist and that he is not endlessly hoping for a friend?

"I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretences."

"It doesn’t necessarily mean that he knows this, or that he is considering any great alternative. It could just be an accident...."

Said Henry Kissinger, quoted in The Financial Times, which picks out a different quote for the title, "Henry Kissinger: ‘We are in a very, very grave period.'"

The FT editor talking to Kissinger is Edward Luce, and he sets the scene:
By now we are on to the coffee. Mine is a double espresso. Kissinger has mint tea. ... 
He paraphrases his own questions, then gives a verbatim quote from Kissinger:
You are worried about the future. However, you believe there is a non-trivial chance that Trump could accidentally scare us into reinventing the rules-based order that we used to take for granted. Is that a fair summary?

“I think we are in a very, very grave period for the world,” Kissinger replies. “I have conducted innumerable summit meetings, so they didn’t learn this one [Helsinki] from me.”

It is clear he will not elaborate further.
Is it a very, very grave period because of Trump or is Trump the hope of getting out of the grave circumstance?
I ask him which period he would liken to today. Kissinger talks about his experience as a freshly minted citizen in US uniform serving in the second world war....
I just have to say that if I were editing this article, I'd never allow the phrase "freshly minted citizen" to appear so close to "mint tea." "Mint" is a word at the unusualness level where you can't reuse it to refer to something else. The mint tea was real, so that's the "mint" that should stay. The "mint" in "freshly minted citizen" is a metaphor, comparing a human being to a coin and evoking an image of stamping that person into a new form. I wouldn't write that even if Kissinger had sipped camomile tea.

"Following former Obama administration CIA Director John Brennan on Twitter, we see his animus nakedly on display."

"He is demented by hatred. Is this really the public role a former Director of the CIA is to be playing?... It is easy to forget the critical role played by Brennan in the still mysterious origin of the counterintelligence investigation that culminated in the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel," writes Scott Johnson at Power Line. He includes a long excerpt from Kim Strassel, including:
Mr. Brennan has taken credit for launching the Trump investigation... [B]y his own testimony, he as an Obama-Clinton partisan was pushing information to the FBI and pressuring it to act.

More notable, Mr. Brennan then took the lead on shaping the narrative that Russia was interfering in the election specifically to help Mr. Trump—which quickly evolved into the Trump-collusion narrative. Team Clinton was eager to make the claim, especially in light of the Democratic National Committee server hack...

The CIA director couldn’t himself go public with his Clinton spin—he lacked the support of the intelligence community and had to be careful not to be seen interfering in U.S. politics. So what to do? He called Harry Reid.... [who then] wrote a letter to Mr. Comey, which of course immediately became public. “The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount,” wrote Mr. Reid, going on to float Team Clinton’s Russians-are-helping-Trump theory. Mr. Reid publicly divulged at least one of the allegations contained in the infamous Steele dossier, insisting that the FBI use “every resource available to investigate this matter.”

The Reid letter marked the first official blast of the Brennan-Clinton collusion narrative into the open....

"I’m trying to talk about Iran! I’m trying to talk about Valerie Jarrett about the Iran deal! That’s what my tweet was about! I thought the bitch was white, goddammit! I thought the bitch was white! Fuck!"

Via Page Six, which is just telling us what Roseanne Barr put up on on her own YouTube page. The explanation at the YouTube page is: "Roseanne, like always, cuts through the bullshit and gets the heart of the matter."

I note the replica of the Venus of Willendorf in the lower right corner of the screen.

From Jarrett's Wikipedia page, you see her connection to Iran:
Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran, during the Pahlavi dynasty, to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara T. Bowman. Her father, a pathologist and geneticist, ran a hospital for children in Shiraz in 1956 as part of a program where American physicians and agricultural experts sought to help in the health and farming efforts of developing countries. When she was five years old, the family moved to London for a year, later moving to Chicago in 1963.
It is believable that someone would assume Jarrett had Iranian ancestry. But:
Her parents are both of European and African-American descent. On the television series Finding Your Roots, DNA testing indicated that Jarrett is of 49% European, 46% African, and 5% Native American descent. Among her European roots, she was found to have French and Scottish ancestry....
So, Jarrett was born in Iran but not of Iranian ancestry. I'll leave it to you to think about whether Iranian people are properly referred to as "white."

A more promising topic: The get-Roseanne movement had little to do with real concern about racism. But was it more about suppressing criticism of the Iran deal (and protecting Obama) or more about using whatever was most convenient to make a pariah out of this conspicuous Trump supporter?

"One of the great victories of the tech industry was insisting that if you didn’t love its products, and by extension the companies themselves, you were not fit [as a reporter] to cover it."

"I never understood how that edict gained traction. We don’t think that crooks make the best crime reporters. I took my inspiration from writers I admired — Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Don DeLillo, Barry Malzberg. They were all low-tech people. Le Guin didn’t drive. DeLillo doesn’t do email. Dick barely left his apartment. Malzberg lives in New Jersey. Yet they foresaw how technology would reshape society better than any of the geniuses in Silicon Valley. 'What technology can do becomes what we need it to do,' DeLillo said. Le Guin observed: 'The internet just invites crap from people.' Those quotes sum up the last 20 years."

Said David Streitfield, interviewed in "When a Tech Reporter Doesn’t Use Much Tech" (NYT).

"For an hour on Saturdays, a British supermarket chain is introducing a weekly 'quieter hour' aimed at helping people with autism have a better shopping experience by easing sensory overload."

"The move by the supermarket, Morrisons... has been welcomed by the National Autistic Society, which says that even small changes can make a big difference in the lives of people with autism and their families. Morrisons’s effort is part of the National Autistic Society’s 'Too Much Information' campaign: Last year, more than 5,000 retailers across Britain participated in 'Autism Hour.'... Movie theaters in Britain have also introduced similar initiatives, hosting 'autism-friendly screenings' by reducing stimulation and sound...."

The NYT reports.

From the store's website, here are the changes during "Quieter Hours":
Dim the lights
Turn music and radio off
Avoid making tannoy announcements
Reduce movement of trolleys and baskets
Turn checkout beeps and other electrical noises down
Place a poster outside to tell customers it’s Quieter Hour
I wonder how many nonautistic customers would prefer to shop in the quieter, dimmer environment? The people with autism have a higher sensitivity level about something that might be stressful and burdensome for all of us. I'm not autistic, but I'd prefer to shop during the Quieter Hour, described above. Notice that they don't exclude the nonautistic. They just acknowledge that their normal shopping environment is very noisy, confusing, and ugly, and are doing something about it, every once in a while.

By the way, what are "tannoy announcements"?
Tannoy Ltd is a British manufacturer of loudspeakers and public-address (PA) systems.... The term "tannoy" is used generically in colloquial English in some places to mean any public-address system or even as a verb - to "tannoy", particularly those used for announcements in public places; although the word is a registered trademark, it has become a genericised trademark...
Used as a verb, the internal word "annoy" is even more obvious. And it's not as though the company is named after some person named Tannoy. It was made up out of tantalum alloy (a material used in manufacturing the product). There must be better ways to abbreviate those 2 words, but maybe they did want their customers to think about using a PA system to annoy people.

Tantalum, the element, is named after Tantalus, the Greek mythological figure who is known mainly for his eternal punishment:
Tantalus was initially known for having been welcomed to Zeus' table in Olympus.... There he is said to have misbehaved and stolen ambrosia and nectar to bring it back to his people, and revealed the secrets of the gods. Most famously, Tantalus offered up his son, Pelops, as a sacrifice. He cut Pelops up, boiled him, and served him up in a banquet for the gods....

Tantalus's punishment for his act... was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any....
That's the source of the word "tantalize."

"President Trump plans to invite President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to visit Washington in the fall, the White House said Thursday..."

"... an invitation that stunned the nation’s top intelligence official, who said he was still groping for details of what the two leaders had discussed in their encounter this week in Helsinki, Finland. 'Say that again,' the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, replied when Andrea Mitchell of NBC broke the news while interviewing him at a security conference in Aspen, Colo. 'O.K.,' Mr. Coats said, taking a deep breath and chuckling awkwardly. 'That’s going to be special.'...  [T]o Mr. Coats, who has been at odds with Mr. Trump about whether Russia meddled in the election, the prospect of another one-on-one encounter was clearly rattling...."

That's how the NYT reports the news, featuring characterizations of the vocalizations and breathing patterns of Dan Coats. But you can characterize it yourself (albeit under the influence of the anxiety-marimba music layered in by the NYT):

Why is Coats chuckling on stage with Andrea Mitchell? He seems to be playing to the audience and doing some sort of theater of everyone knowing that the President is — what? — weird/crazy/his own sort of guy?

By the way, if Trump were actually treasonous or colluding with The Enemy or exposing us to grave danger, it wouldn't be something to chuckle over! So, obviously Coats knows much more about it all that we do, and he's chuckling for the crowd, not holed up at work desperately trying to save us from destruction.

President Trump's poll numbers have gone up in the days after the Putin summit.

That's from Real Clear Politics, "President Trump Job Approval." Click the image for a clearer, sharper version. Look at the dates and compare the same poll. The summit was on the 16th.

Economist/YouGov took a poll for 3 days, including the summit day and the day after, and got a -8 spread, which isn't high, but if you look at its previous poll, the number was -9, so it was a 1-point improvement. The Reuters poll is partly after the summit, and the number is -12, up from -16. He's also rising in the Gallup poll but there, the newest poll (at -9, compared to an earlier -15) is all pre-summit.

Why would this be? It might be that the Trump critics sound so antagonistic that they seem less credible (or less watchable) than usual. Connected to that is the possibility that people want better relations with Russia and want to feel hopeful about improvements. Maybe people sense that the President is the voice of the nation with respect to foreign relations and accept the reality that Trump is the President.

Inside the 2,000-year-old, 30-ton sarcophagus found recently in Alexandria, Egypt.

If they'd kept it closed, we could still be fantasizing about the glories or monstrous evil within, but they had to open it. The NYT reports:
Inside were three skeletons floating in foul-smelling sewage that had leaked into the vessel from the road above through a small crack in the sarcophagus, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities.

July 19, 2018

At the No Photo Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

"Some people throw the dog in the car and have him turned into a eunuch because they don’t care. But there’s a certain segment of pet owners that do care..."

"... and that’s where Neuticles come in. And it’s not only canines and felines. We’ve done an elephant, we’ve done prairie dogs. I Neuticled a monkey in Pocahontas, Ark., and a colony of rats for the University of Louisiana."

Said Gregg A. Miller, inventor of Neuticles, quoted in "The Secret Price of Pets/The care and feeding of America’s 'fur babies' has grown increasingly baroque" (NYT).

That's from a couple weeks ago. I ran across it today because I was searching (after reading that New Yorker article) for more info about whether CBD products have any serious therapeutic value. So, there's also this:
Dogs and cats are indulging in cannabis as well, and not just by getting into their owners’ weed brownies. 
Ugh! I don't find that funny at all. Chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs. But let's keep going:
Start-up companies are marketing CBD, or cannabidiol (a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis), in the form of pet treats, sprays, even lip balms that provide relief, they promise, from ailments including anxiety and cancer.

“There are a hundred claims for what it does,” said Lynn Hirshfield, whose Los Angeles-based business Leafy Dog makes peanut butter and grain-free CBD pet treats. “Can I send you some biscuits for Miles?”
The stupidity hurts. For one thing... lip balm? Do dogs and cats even have lips?

"Ben, who tweets from the handle @BenIsYourHero and declined to give his full name, found the image in a closed Facebook group called 'Incels say the darndest things,' a gathering place..."

"... where users mock and argue against the work of the 'involuntary celibate' community. Soon, his tweet went semi-viral, popping up on blogs, anti-incel Tumblrs, and incel subreddits."

From "Incel Memes Aren’t a Joke/How playful propaganda can mask a dangerous and toxic culture" (Slate).

"Michelle Obama Launches Splashy New Midterm Effort, but Not the One Democrats Wanted."

That's the headline at Slate, so I watched the video to see if I could figure out what's so unwanted about Michelle's effort:

I could only find 2 things wrong with it: 1. Bad acting (everyone reading their lines sounded like somebody reading lines), and 2. They looked like they were handing out iPads (so distracting!).

But that's not Slate's problem. Slate's problem is that it's framed as nothing but a registration and get-out-the-vote campaign. Slate wants Michelle to get out there in support of Democratic Party candidates:
She’s capable of uncorking a stemwinder when the situation calls for it, as she demonstrated multiple times during the 2016 campaign. She’d be natural on the stump next to a wide range of Democratic candidates, particularly many of the record number of women running for the House this year.
As proof that she can uncork a stemwinder — stupid mixed metaphor — Slate links to Michelle's speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016.
And when [Hillary] didn't win the nomination eight years ago, she didn't get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments.... What I admire most about Hillary is that she... never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life....

"New York’s CBD craze has already reached Dadaesque levels of consumerism—hundred-dollar tinctures to treat anxiety in pet cats and dogs; CBD-laced room service at the NoMad location of the James hotel, in Manhattan."

Explains Rachel Symes (at The New Yorker).
Like many New Yorkers, I tend to be deeply wary of the nouveau-wellness movement that has crept into the city from L.A., with its Goopian buzzwords and mushroom tonics and colloidal silver—the idea that you can shop your way to an internal glow... But CBD, with its potential to unclench tense muscles and pacify anxious thoughts, also promises to deliver something that many New Yorkers desperately need....
CBD is the hemp derivative that New Yorkers can have because it's so low in THC that it doesn't get you high. So what does it do?
Yasmin Hurd, a doctor at Mount Sinai who uses four-hundred- to eight-hundred-milligram doses to study CBD’s benefit in opioid-addiction treatment, told me that hoping for therapeutic effects from a dosage as low as what’s found in commercial products like CBD coffees, which tend to contain only around twenty-five milligrams, is “ridiculous.”...

Not long ago, I purchased a small bottle of “full spectrum hemp extract”... It cost twenty-five dollars and contained two hundred and fifty milligrams of CBD.
So... buy 2 and for $50, you'll have Dr. Hurd's idea of a dose. Until then, as long as you believe, you'll always have the placebo effect.



Link. Click image for a clearer view.

For more discussion of that song, read my old post called "The Anxiety Clown."

"Her custom was..to come into the dining-room to him in her treason-gown, (as I called it,) I telling him, that when she had that gown on, he should allow her to say anything."

It sounds a little like "And when you're a star... you can do anything," doesn't it?

The quote is from "Memoirs of the court of England : during the reign of the Stuarts, including the protectorate by Jesse, John Heneage, 1815-1874":
I found that through the Oxford English Dictionary, where I was researching the word "treason," because I'm seeing some people using it to denounce Donald Trump and other people insisting it has only a very narrow meaning that obviously cannot apply.

I'm keeping my distance from the hysteria of the day. Oh? Does "hysteria" have a special narrow meaning to which I ought to confine myself?
The theory of a wandering uterus was developed in Ancient Greece, being mentioned in many sections of the Hippocratic treatise "Diseases of Women". Plato talks of the uterus as a separate being inside women, while Aretaeus described it as "an animal within an animal" (less emotively, "a living thing inside a living thing"), which causes symptoms by wandering around a woman's body putting pressure on other organs. The standard cure for this "hysterical suffocation" was scent therapy, in which good smells were placed under a woman's genitals and bad odors at the nose, while sneezing could be also induced to drive the uterus back to its correct place....  
I decline the confinement and will go wandering, like an errant womb.

"Treason," according to the OED, is "The action of betraying; betrayal of the trust undertaken by or reposed in any one; breach of faith, treacherous action, treachery." The use of the word hinges on an understanding of the trust, the faith. All politicians take on a trust and all are continually subject to the accusation that they are betraying it. It's a strong-sounding word, but a speaker can choose to let loose with a strong word, and it's for the listener to decide how excited to get about it. I've heard too many strong words in the last 2 years, and they have very little effect on me now.

"Tempers flare at meeting on whether to keep police in Madison high schools."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports on last night's public meeting of the ad hoc school board committee:
David Blaska, a conservative former Dane County Board supervisor, was the first person to speak during the public comment period, and he was among a handful of people at the meeting in support of keeping school-based police officers.... As soon as Blaska’s allotted three minutes to speak were up, loud jeering erupted from the audience....

“Ain’t no amount of training, ain’t no amount of special certificates is going to matter when it comes to black and brown kids, because (police officers) see us as thugs and criminals,” said Bianca Gomez, a member of Freedom Inc., an activist organization focused on issues that affect minority populations.

As Blaska attempted to capture the public comment on his cellphone, others took issue with juvenile speakers being recorded and attempted to block his view by either standing in front of him or putting objects in front of his phone, alleging he runs a racist blog where the youths’ photos would be posted.

Blaska moved about the meeting room... and others continued to follow along and block his phone.

The emotions culminated in a heated face-to-face argument between a woman who had earlier spoke [sic] in support of EROs [education resource officers] and some people wishing to remove EROs....
Here's Blaska's post from a couple days ago, "Madison school board is put on notice/David Blaska will not be denied his right of free speech" with a letter from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty that accuses the committee of violating his rights at the previous public meeting:
Our client intends to speak at the July 18, 2018, meeting. As you know, if a public body invites public comment, it cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination among those who wish to speak – even if other members of the public wish the public body to do so. At the last meeting of the ad hoc committee on Wednesday, June 20, other members of the audience heckled Mr. Blaska during his public comment and he was not allowed the full three minutes allotted him. An organized group of protestors interrupted his comments several times with signs and rehearsed chants such as “Silence white supremacy!” His ability to speak and be heard was finally halted completely by a loud and sustained chant: “Get Him Out! Get Him Out!”
I blogged about that earlier meeting here. I said: "The committee members do nothing to push back the intimidation or to protect Blaska's right to speak to the group."

And here's Blaska's post from yesterday showing 15 questions he had for the committee, including #15:
[Committee chairman Dean] Loumos, you have permitted a small group to disrupt and bully this committee for 16 months without demanding order or civility. You meet at 4 p.m. which precludes working people from attending as if the chaos wasn’t enough to deter citizen participation. You accuse the one speaker in favor of keeping the EROs in school of using “code words.”
It sounds as though Blaska was given his opportunity to speak for his full 3 minutes this time and the jeering and heckling came afterwards, providing lots of opportunity for Blaska to gather the video that will make his antagonists look awful.

On the subject of photographing "youths" and posting the video on line, I just want to say once again that I oppose the use of children in politics and would like to protect them, but if they are allowed to participate in public hearing where government officials are deliberating important policy matters that will affect the community, they cannot be insulated from exposure and criticism. Either in or out. There's no special limbo for youths who are inserting themselves in politics. If there were, there would be even more exploitation of children in politics.

Mark Zuckerberg tries to reposition after seeming to attribute benign motives to Holocaust deniers.

I'm reading "Mark Zuckerberg clarifies his Holocaust comments" at CNN. Zuckerberg had spoken, in a long interview, about what Facebook deletes and what it allows:
"At the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong," Zuckerberg told [ReCode's Kara] Swisher. "I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong.... It's hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly"...
He used Holocaust denial as his example of people perhaps just getting something wrong. That should not be deleted, in Zuckerberg's approach, because you can't tell that it's the intentional spreading of misinformation.
"Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews," Jonathan Greenblat, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement to CNNMoney. "Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination."

Within hours, Zuckerberg emailed Swisher to say he got things wrong.

"I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that," he wrote in the email.
I think Zuckerberg is trying to say Facebook can't figure out intent and doesn't want to have a policy that depends on judgment of intent even when the intent seems obvious. But there is another policy that's not dependent on a judgment of intent. Facebook takes down content is false and contributes to imminent violence (such as posts about Muslims in Sri Lanka serving poisoned food to Buddhists).

When Jon Huntsman said "to say that you can't secure the border I think is pretty much a treasonous comment."

I'm motivated to dredge up that old quote by this front-page display at HuffPo:

The link goes to "Trump’s Russia Ambassador Is Having A Very Bad Week/Jon Huntsman has spent decades cultivating a reputation as a pragmatic Republican. Now some of his allies are urging him to ditch the Trump administration."

I'm not recommending that you read that article. I'm just showing you what's out there — the idea that a person with a great reputation must abandon Trump. The target of such a message is buttered up — what a great reputation you have — for the purpose of delivering the message that he's going to lose it if he doesn't quit his job. The reader isn't supposed to think about whether the author ever admired the target or would give a damn about him if he abandoned Trump. One suspects that if Huntsman quit at this point, the new message wouldn't be anything positive about Huntsman, but gloating about how no one wants to be associated with Trump and Trump is so despicable that he's nearly entirely isolated now and ought to resign or be impeached.

But I just want to show you what Jon Huntsman said in the GOP debate on September 12, 2011. This is something I ran across yesterday as I was surveying the use of the word "treason" in public discourse over the last 13 years (searching my own archive). The moderator, Wolf Blitzer, had already already asked Governor Rick Perry if he'd stand by something he'd said about the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. Perry — who'd said that it was "almost treacherous – or treasonous" to do quantitative easing in the run-up to the election — answered, "if you are allowing the Federal Reserve to be used for political purposes, that it would be almost treasonous." So the word "treason" was already in the discourse of the debate.

Blitzer then got the audience to boo by making Perry affirm that he has supported in-state college tuition for people in the country illegally. Blitzer then brought in Huntsman, reminding him that he'd supported "driving privileges to illegal immigrants." Huntsman answered:
Well, first of all, let me say for Rick to say that you can't secure the border I think is pretty much a treasonous comment.
Perry hadn't said we can't secure the border. He'd only said that building a wall across the southern border was "just not reality." Perry said the answer was more law enforcement personnel but Huntsman jumped at the opportunity to make Perry look as though he didn't believe the border could be secured, and then, later in the debate, when the question was how to treat people who'd made it across the border, Huntsman returned to the issue of Perry and border security and lobbed the word "treasonous."

July 18, 2018

At the Chicago Beach Caf├ę...


... take the plunge.

And go through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Treason talk.

Let's look back before this week, to "treason" as it has appeared within the lifetime of this blog. In chronological order:

April 27, 2005: Discussing the "blood" metaphor in constitutional law, I quoted Article III: "The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

May 28, 2006: I wrote about the protest singer Phil Ochs declaring the Vietnam War over:
So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die
I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over
July 1, 2006: "The editors of The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times explain how they decide when to publish a secret... Baquet and Keller have written a lengthy defense of their behavior, behavior that they know has been severely criticized, even called 'treason.'"

September 20, 2006: "To me, that's treason. I call it treason against rock-and-roll, because rock is the antithesis of politics. Rock should never be in bed with politics," said Alice Cooper, indicting rock stars who were telling people to vote for John Kerry.

August 3, 2007: Markos Moulitsas says that in 2002, "Dissent against the president was considered treason."

August 11, 2007: A 9/11 truther criticizes me for declining to debate him, which he took to mean that I know I'm "complicit in covering up mass murder and high treason."

May 12, 2008: A scholar assures us that the Muslim world would view Obama, the son of a Muslim father, as guilty of apostasy, which has "connotations of rebellion and treason," which is considered "worse than murder."

September 12, 2011: I'm live-blogging a debate in which "treason" is thrown around casually: "Perry stands by his 'almost treasonous' remark, referring to the use of the Federal Reserve for political purposes... Huntsman accuses Perry of treason for saying we can't secure the border."

May 8, 2012: "Isn't it funny, this 'treason' incident?" Mitt Romney, running for President, failed to chide a woman who asked whether Obama should be tried for treason. I brought up (as I did today), the 1964 book "None Dare Call It Treason." I also quoted the casual use of "treason" by Chief Justice John Marshall  Cohens v. Virginia to refer to doing something unconstitutional. ("We have no more right to decline the exercise of jurisdiction which is given than to usurp that which is not given. The one or the other would be treason to the Constitution.") And a commenter brought up an even more venerable use of the word, Patrick Henry's "If this be treason, make the most of it." That made me say: "The country was founded on treason. We celebrate the treason we like."

Also on May 8, 2012: "Obama supporters who express outrage over the use of the word 'treason' seem to think the word means nothing but to the crime defined in law — as if the woman Romney talked to wanted Obama tried and executed. It's as if people who say 'property is theft' are freakishly insisting that property owners be prosecuted for larceny. Think of all the words we use that have more specific legal meanings that do not apply: This job is murder... The rape of the land... Slave to love..."

June 17, 2013: Edward Snowden explains why he left the country: " [T]he US Government... immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That's not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it."

July 26, 2013: From a post about the death penalty: "Here's the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, which found the death penalty for rape (even rape of a child) to be unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. No one has been executed in the U.S. for a crime other than murder since the 1960s, though the Kennedy case leaves open the possibility of capital punishment 'for other non-homicide crimes, ranging from drug-trafficking to treason.'"

April 22, 2014 : Above the Law had hyperventilated, "Justice Scalia Literally Encourages People To Commit Treason," and I punctured it, saying Scalia was just giving his usual speech about the Constitution, which is always subject to the right of revolution explained in the Declaration of Independence. I bring up Patrick Henry's "If this be treason, make the most of it."

February 23, 2015: "'Edward Snowden couldn't be here for some treason,' said Neil Patrick Harris, the Oscars host, when the documentary about him won an award." I said: "I liked the joke, because of its language precision and because it seemed at least a tad risky in the context of Hollywood celebrating itself."

February 29, 2016: Trump hesitated to "unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election" after Duke it would be "treason to your heritage" for a white person not to vote for Trump.

October 14, 2016: "Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree," said Ezra Pound, who was charged with treason in WWII. He was disaffected after WWI, moved to Italy, felt inspired by Mussolini, and went on the radio criticizing the U.S., FDR, and the Jews.

December 21, 2016: I quoted the official course description for "The Problem of Whiteness," a course offered in the African Cultural Studies department of my university, the University of Wisconsin–Madison: "In this class, we will ask what an ethical white identity entails, what it means to be #woke, and consider the journal Race Traitor’s motto, 'treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.'"

January 16, 2017: I quote someone talking about Chelsea Manning: "He is a member of the military who knowingly committed treason. His, or her, gender status has nothing to do with his conviction for treason."

February 10, 2017: I quoted Trump (before his election) talking about Edward Snowden: "I think he's a total traitor and I would deal with him harshly," "And if I were president, Putin would give him over," and "Snowden is a spy who should be executed." I wondered: "But maybe you think Trump will end up looking good forefronting the iniquity of treason."

February 7, 2018: Trump had used the word "treasonous" to describe the Democrats who didn't applaud during his State of the Union Address. Yeah, it was a joke, but: "He's President and in the position of enforcing the law, and from that position punching down. He really should not be joking about treason. And I get that he's punching back, and that's his style. But people aren't just idiots if they feel afraid of a President who isn't continually assuring us that he's aware of his profound responsibilities."

April 17, 2018: I quoted Neil Gorsuch, concurring — and voting with the liberals ‚ in a case about immigration: "Vague laws invite arbitrary power. Before the Revolu­tion, the crime of treason in English law was so capa­ciously construed that the mere expression of disfavored opinions could invite transportation or death. The founders cited the crown’s abuse of 'pretended' crimes like this as one of their reasons for revolution. See Declaration of Independence ¶21."

May 4, 2018: A conservative commentator sarcastically said he was "waiting for the Left to scream treason" over John Kerry's "quiet play to save Iran deal with foreign leaders."

July 17, 2017: I quoted Byron York: "Would it have been appropriate for the Trump campaign to try to find the [Clinton] emails?... What if an intelligence operative from a friendly country got them and offered them? And what about an unfriendly country? Would there be a scale, from standard oppo research on one end to treason on the other, depending on how the emails were acquired?"

"I will live my life very carefully from now on, to thank everyone."

Said Ekapol Chanthawong, the assistant coach who was rescued, along with the 12 soccer-playing boys, from the cave in Thailand, quoted in "Thai soccer players and coach speak publicly for first time since their rescue from flooded cave" (WaPo).

The Thai navy SEALs who stayed with the lost team until the rescue said Wednesday that they worked to keep the boys’ spirits up and ensure they were in good health. Wearing hats and sunglasses — Thai SEALs are not identified due to the nature of their work — they said they gave the boys high-protein rations and played chess with them to pass the time.

The SEALs used food as motivation, reminding the boys of all the treats that awaited them when they returned home....

“They were like my brothers, like my family,” Ekapol said of the SEALs. “We ate together, and we slept together.”

I was surprised to see overt support for Trump on the UW campus today.

Parked very conspicuously, by the lake trail:


But I hear some very quiet expressions of support here and there. It is so socially unacceptable in Madison that it means a lot to hear or see any at all.

"Daily Show host Trevor Noah is accused of racism after joking that 'Africa won the World Cup' because most of the France team players are black."

The Daily Mail reports (with a clip showing the comic riff: "Africa won the World Cup. I get it, they have to say it's the French team. But look at those guys. You don't get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends").
French former reality TV star Martin Medus... said: 'You're a f****** racist. Those people are French and p***** to always be reminded of their background. They fight hard to tell people they are proud French people and yet you disrespect them calling them African. Are the Lakers an African team?'

Elise Frank added: 'So basically, Trevor, all the African-Americans in the US are just Africans, right? Know that as a french of Algerian, German and Spanish descent, I find it insulting. We are all french, we are one people. Ask the players,they'll tell you they're proud frenchmen!'

One man said: 'This is so racist to think that because they are black they are not French. They claimed their love of France. You denied them the right to be French? Is this what you want to deliver to all afro americans also? 98% of the players were born in France. Only two players were born in Africa, but they came at the age of two. So they've grown up in France.'

The All-Star Game was not a good event for the Milwaukee Brewers.

I didn't watch the game. I don't like the All-Star Game, so I only checked out the National Anthem and left. I prefer normal games, but I was interested enough to see how the Brewers performed. I found this in WaPo:
Racist, homophobic and misogynistic tweets that Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader sent in 2011 and 2012 surfaced as he pitched in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park, turning his appearance into an embarrassing stain for Hader and a public-relations nightmare for Major League Baseball.

After Hader surrendered a three-run homer in the eighth inning, several Twitter users — starting, it seems, with an account named MLB Insider Dinger — found and retweeted messages Hader sent as a 17-year-old. The tweets included numerous uses of the n-word and an allusion to “white power” next to an emoji of a closed fist. One tweet read only, “I hate gay people.” Another referenced wanting women only for sex, cooking and cleaning....

Hader discovered that the tweets had surfaced after he exited the game.... When the National League clubhouse opened to media, Hader was standing alone at his locker, his blond hair pulled into a bun. Reporters surrounded him. A public-relations official asked reporters to wait. Another PR man said to the other: “Give it a second. We got a couple more [reporters] coming. We got a bunch more.”...

Before the game ended, Hader had deleted his old tweets and locked his account. He said he would accept any suspension or punishment.... “I’m ready for any consequences for what happened seven years ago,” he said. “Like I said before, I was young, immature and stupid. There’s no excuses for what was said or what happened.”...
The weird thing is that those old tweets hadn't been deleted before last night. Really, that's inexplicable. The team's management is inept not to notice and attend to that sort of thing. It took giving up a 3-run homer in the All-Star Game to get anyone interested enough to look into his social media. It's some kind of measure of how unimportant and important social media is. What a screw-up!

"The reaction by most of the media, by the Democrats, by the anti-Trump people is like mob violence. I've never seen anything like it in my life."

"This is the president of the United States, doing what every president... since FDR in 1943 with Stalin, meeting with the head of the Kremlin. And every president since Eisenhower, a Republican by the way, has met with the leader of the Kremlin for one existential purpose: To avoid war between the two nuclear superpowers. Today, in my considered, scholarly, long-time judgment, relations between the U.S. and Russia are more dangerous than they have ever — let me repeat, ever — been, including the Cuban missile crisis. I want my president to do -- I didn't vote for this president-- but I want my president to do what every other president has done. Sit with the head of the other nuclear superpower and walk back the conflicts that could lead to war, whether they be in Syria, Ukraine, in the Baltic nations, in these accusations of cyber attacks. Every president has been encouraged to do that an applauded by both parties. Not Trump. Look what they did to him today. They had a kangaroo court. They found him guilty. And then you had the former head of the U.S. CIA, who himself ought to be put under oath and asked about his role in inventing Russiagate, calling the President of the United States treasonous. What have we come to in this country? And what is going to happen in the future?"

Said NYU Russia expert Stephen F. Cohen (speaking on Tucker Carlson's show Monday).

Cohen is a contributing editor at The Nation, a left-leaning publication. In the interview, he said to  Carlson, "Let me ask you a question, you know D.C., why do these people dislike Putin, the president of post-communist Russia more than they ever seemed to dislike the communist leaders?" Carlson just repeated the question, and Cohen said "There is an answer but we'd need a lot more time and a psychiatrist."

Note: The transcript at the Real Clear Politics link was full of little errors. I watched the video (embedded there) and have corrected the text. Nothing substantive.

ADDED: In a similar vein, there's Rand Paul:
You know, I think engagement with our adversaries, conversation with our adversaries is a good idea. Even in the height of the Cold War, maybe at the lowest ebb when we were in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, I think it was a good thing that Kennedy had a direct line to Khrushchev. I think it was a good thing that we continue to have ambassadors to Russia even when we really objected greatly to what was going on, even during Stalin’s regime.

So, I think that it is a good idea to have engagement. And I think that what is lost in this is that I think there's a bit of Trump derangement syndrome. I think there are people who hate the president so much that this could have easily been President Obama early in his first administration setting the reset button and trying to have better relations with Russia, and I think it's lost on people that they're a nuclear power. They have influence in Syria. They're in close proximity to the troops in Syria. They are close to the peninsula of North Korea and may have some influence that could help us there....

"How Trump Withstands So Many Controversies... The word 'treason' is being thrown around..."

"... to describe how President Trump seemed to take Russia’s side during his summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin in Helsinki, Finland. But as with every major controversy that Mr. Trump has faced, it’s unclear if anything will happen as a result."

An excellent topic, well-explored on the NYT "Daily" podcast with Michael Barbaro. I recommend listening to the whole thing. There's no transcript, but from the notes on the show:
Under fire for contradicting United States intelligence reports of Russian interference in the presidential election, Mr. Trump asserted on Tuesday that he had misspoken at his news conference with Mr. Putin, and that he had meant to say, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia,” rather than “would.” He added, “Could be other people, also.”

Never in the modern era has the word “treason” become part of the national conversation in such a prominent way. Some of those who voted for Mr. Trump struggled to endorse his approach, but many are reaffirming their support.
On the subject of the prominence of the term "treason," there's a link to an article from yesterday that says:
[John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director... called [Trump's] performance “nothing short of treasonous.” The late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel also invoked treason on their shows. The front-page banner headline for The New York Daily News declared “OPEN TREASON.”

Max Boot, the former Republican who has become one of Mr. Trump’s sharpest critics, noted in a column on Monday in The Washington Post that accusing him of treason was once unthinkable. No longer....

Mr. Trump returned to the White House on Monday night as protesters outside the gate shouted, “Welcome home, traitor.” Even Dictionary.com trolled the president, tweeting out a definition: “Traitor: A person who commits treason by betraying his or her country.”

It later said that searches for “treason” had increased by 2,943 percent. By Tuesday afternoon, the word “traitor” had been used on Twitter 800,000 times and the word “treason” about 1.2 million times....
When I hear "treason" used in political discourse like that, my mind drifts back to 1964 and the rise of Barry Goldwater. One of the key books of that time was "None Dare Call It Treason." I look it up, and what they hell? The first hit is the NYT obituary for its author, dated yesterday!
John A. Stormer, whose self-published 1964 book, “None Dare Call It Treason,” became a right-wing favorite despite being attacked as inaccurate in promulgating the notion that American government and institutions were full of Communist sympathizers, died on July 10 in Troy, Mo. He was 90....

Communists, Mr. Stormer wrote, were bent on infiltrating the American government and had largely succeeded, as evidenced by American and United Nations economic support for Communist countries.

“The Communists have sworn to bury us,” Mr. Stormer wrote. “We are digging our own graves.... From where has the money come to build and finance the vast collectivist underground which reaches its tentacles into education, the churches, labor and the press?” he asked. “Amazingly, the fortunes of America’s most successful tycoons, dedicated by them to the good of mankind, have been redirected to finance the socialization of the United States.”
That was the deployment of the word "treason" that went big in the 60s. People who were not right-wing, of course, viewed it as anti-communist hysteria, a throwback to the McCarthy era, and that's the way I've seen the word "treason" all this time. But John Brennan threw it back into the American discourse and the Trump antagonists have run with it. Nothing else has worked to stop Trump, so why not crack open this 100-foot long gushing fissure?

IN THE COMMENTS: Robert Cook writes:
It's really outrageous and alarming, this tsunami of people shouting "treason" at Trump for...what? Because he disputes our intelligence agencies? That does not fit the definition of treason. And besides, fuck our intelligence agencies!

This must be a coordinated effort to drown Trump in shit to the point where he can't move or speak, where he is immobilized. I don't say this as a fan of Trump--I think he's terrible in just about every way--but to recognize that there are powerful forces who will do whatever they must to stop any president from pursuing courses of action that they do not approve of. The Military/Industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us of, by whatever name it should be known now, is more powerful than ever, and sees itself as sovereign over us all. Those who hate Trump may cheer this now, but they will cry when the same tactics are used by these forces to paralyze the efforts of a president whom they do support.

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." Thomas Paine

"Manning up and womaning down: How husbands and wives report their earnings when she earns more" — a study from the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Do gendered social norms influence survey reports of 'objective' economic outcomes? This paper compares the earnings reported for husbands and wives in the Current Population Survey with their 'true' earnings from administrative income-tax records. Estimates from OLS regressions show that survey respondents react to violations of the norm that husbands earn more than their wives by inflating their reports of husbands’ earnings and deflating their reports of wives’ earnings. On average, the gap between a husband’s survey and administrative earnings is 2.9 percentage points higher if his wife earns more than he does, and the gap between a wife’s survey and administrative earnings in 1.5 percentage points lower if she earns more than her husband does. These findings suggest that gendered social norms can influence survey reports of seemingly objective outcomes and that their impact may be heterogeneous not just between genders but also within gender."

By Marta Murray-Close and Misty Heggeness, "not necessarily represent[ing] the views of the U.S. Census Bureau." I don't like the government nosing into the psychology of marriages.

I'm seeing that because it's discussed in "When Wives Earn More Than Husbands, Neither Partner Likes to Admit It/Deceiving the census: New research suggests that social attitudes are lagging behind both workplace progress and how people actually live their lives" (NYT). From the Times article:
Marriage therapists say marriages can become shakier when women earn more than men if men feel insecure or women lose respect for them. Economists say it’s one reason the loss of working-class jobs for men has led to such discontent — and to fewer marriages.

“Blokes are threatened by wives who earn more, which surprises nobody but is interesting that you can actually find it in the data,” said Justin Wolfers, who studies the economics of the family at the University of Michigan....
“When the gender norm is violated, there is some compensating behavior to try to undo some of the utility loss experienced by the husband,” said Marianne Bertrand, an author of the study and an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
From the comments at the NYT, this is the second-highest rated:
This is the most important article in the newspaper today, not the clown's antics. The crisis in masculinity, the failure to acknowledge, understand, or find comfort in women entering the workforce since the 1970s, is what got the clown elected in the first place, and is what drives rightist politics. See Krugman today on the ideology of right-wing politicians despite what their constituents vote for or want. The desperation to recover masculinity in its older forms drove men and women of Germany to embrace someone who promised to lead them out of the humiliations of WWI. We face not a culture war as a distraction, but as the driving force. See Edsall on this topic in his recent post. See gun advertisements promising a purchase of manhood, as if the symbolism weren't enough.

"Well, I love Apu. I love the character, and it makes me feel bad that it makes other people feel bad."

"But on the other hand, it’s tainted now — the conversation, there’s no nuance to the conversation now. It seems very, very clunky. I love the character. I love the show.

Said Matt Groening, the creator of "The Simpsons," talking to the NYT about the character who seems to many people to be too much of an ethnic stereotype. What's he supposed to do about the problem?
We’re not sure exactly how it’s going to play out. Back in the day, I named the character after the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray. 
When I was young, back in the day, educated people got the message there were certain films you needed to know and ought to see if you ever got the chance. This was back at a time when you had to keep an eye on the movies that were showing at some "art house" movie theater and arrange your schedule to prioritize important movies. These days, it's so easy to see anything you want to see that you can put it off for ever, and maybe people just stopped applying pressure on each other to see the great classics when it was no longer necessary to remain vigilant in case, say, "Pather Panchali" played anywhere near you.

In short, the name "Apu" can no longer carry the message Groening may once have thought it contained:
I love Indian culture and Indian film and Indian music. I thought that the name was a signal that we had, at least, a scholarly intention. 
A scholarly intention!
I thought maybe a kid was going to grow up and find out what the name came from and go watch the Apu Trilogy, which are the greatest films, basically, in the history of cinema.
Or a kid would grow up, notice the films and laugh at the name because of "The Simpsons" and move on.

The Times questions Groening about his statement that "people love to pretend they’re offended"?
That wasn’t specifically about Apu. That was about our culture in general.
Yikes. Be careful, Matt, you might step on the anti-Trump hysteria that's raging this week (and every week).
And that’s something I’ve noticed for the last 25 years. There is the outrage of the week and it comes and goes....
But did Groening mean to say the Apu critics weren't sincere? Asked, Groening quickly credits them with sincerity and volunteers that he agrees "politically, with 99 percent of the things" they believe. He repeats that he loves Apu and shifts the blame onto all the other shows for not having an Indian character.

It's so much easier to avoid criticism by just not doing the thing that somebody might say you're doing wrong.

ADDED: Compare Groening to Roseanne Barr, who, speaking only for herself and being carelessly expressive, brought destruction to work that hundreds of people were participating in. Groening is, I am guessing, thinking of preserving not only his work but an entire workplace. He needs to be careful, even if that carefulness is the opposite of what makes comedy great, what got him where he is. And now, I'm back to wanting to talk about Trump again. Why doesn't he look at what's happening and tone it way down to save the show?

July 17, 2018

At the White Hat Caf├ę...


... talk all you like.

And consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Trump says he just botched a double negative.

"Under unrelenting pressure from congressional Republicans, his own advisers and his allies on Fox News, President Trump abruptly reversed course on Tuesday and claimed he had misspoken during a news conference with President Vladimir V. Putin about whether Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election.Mr. Trump, reading from a script, said he believed the assessment of the nation’s intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered in the campaign after having seeming to have accepted Mr. Putin’s assertion the day before that Russia was not involved. The misunderstanding, he said, grew out of an unsuccessful attempt to use a double negative when he answered a question about whether he believed Mr. Putin or his intelligence agencies. 'My people came to me,' he said in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. 'They said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.' On Tuesday he said that he had misspoken. 'The sentence should have been, "I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia," sort of a double negative,' the president said. 'So you can put that in and I think that probably clarifies things pretty good.'"

The NYT reports.

Are you buying the double negative theory?
pollcode.com free polls

"Most Science-fiction missed the most important thing in the world, which is the internet itself. They had flying cars. They had rocket ships. None of that exists..."

"... but the internet governs our lives today. It used to be that when you communicated with someone, the person you were communicating with was as important as the information; Now on the internet, the person is unimportant at all. Becoming your own filter will be the challenge of the future. Will our children's children's children need the companionship of humans - or will they have evolved in a world where that's not important? It sounds awful doesn't it? But maybe it will be fine, and the companionship of robots and an intelligent internet will be sufficient. Who am I to say?"

Says Lawrence Krauss, the theoretical physicist, at the end of the Werner Herzog documentary, "Lo and Behold/Reveries of a Connected World."

These are the last spoken words in the film, which then ends with some scientists outdoors playing guitar/banjo/fiddle and singing the old song "Salty Dog." I can see there's a Johnny Cash version of this song and a Flatt & Scruggs, but the version I've known for half a century is by Mississippi John Hurt.

Flatt & Scruggs sing, "Let me be your salty dog or I won't be your man at all," and so does Johnny Cash, but Mississippi John Hurt sings "Let me be your salty dog/I don't want to be your man at all." It makes a difference! Ah, here's the whole script for the movie, and it gives the lyrics: "Let me be your salty dog/I won't be your man at all." That makes a difference too — a difference that affects what I want to say. But let me try anyway.

The movie not only talks about the loss of humanity on the internet (as the last spoken words show), it includes the famous cartoon, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" (showing an actual dog using the internet). You see where I'm going with this. The film ends with the spoken idea that maybe in the future people won't need the companionship of another human, and then you get the sung lyric of an offer of companionship that excludes being an man. The singer wants to be your dog and not your man. In one way, very literally, it reinforces the Krauss + New Yorker cartoon idea of evolving away from real touch with another person.

But because of the way we suddenly see and hear live human beings together playing and singing, we are roused into feeling that nothing could be more important than getting together with other people in the flesh. It's the very last thing in the movie, number one. Secondly, these men are obviously vitally alive and enjoying their immediately company. Thirdly, they are singing an enthusiastic plea for physical love from the "you" whose salty dog they are begging to be. I feel certain the film's final send off is a message to hold onto your humanity.

And yet that message is complicated by the old line about not wanting to be a man at all. Even before we got abstracted into the bodiless world of the internet, there were songs expressing an intense desire to escape being a man. But that was in the opposite direction from abstraction and into the role of dog. It was a desire to be even more intensely in the fleshly, embodied world.

"Salty Dog" is an old song, not to be confused with "Salty Dog" by Procol Harum (which is about sailors). The idea of being your dog has been around for a long time. Here's "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges:

Also, for those who've followed the story of Althouse and Meade, there's the line "We want to BE your dog."

"There have always been two parts to the Trump-Russia probe: the what-Russia-did part... and the get-Trump part...."

"Trump's problem is that he has always refused, or been unable, to separate the two. One is about national security and international relations, while the other is about Donald Trump. The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part — if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election — his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That's consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn't admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more."

Writes Byron York at The Washington Examiner.

"I think I was so taken by how the Orioles played because it was different—Earl’s philosophy was effectively countercultural at a time when many teams..."

"... especially in the National League, placed great emphasis on the running game, on bunting men over—on scratching a single run from an infield single, a stolen base, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly. Earl thought that required too many things to go right for a maximum reward of a single run. He preferred to encourage his hitters to work the count, to take walks, and then, with a man or two on base, swing for the fences. If you followed that strategy, he believed, you had a far better chance of putting three runs on the board than the run-scratchers had of putting up a singleton.... In my instinctive contrarianism I grew deeply attached to this way of playing baseball, so you can easily imagine how I felt when, in my twenties, I started reading... Bill James’s Baseball Abstract. For James’s early and profoundly influential exercises in sabermetrics... proved pretty conclusively that Earl was right all along, and those guys scrabbling for one run at a time were just chasing a losing hand. I felt vindicated, and even more so as the years went by and sabermetrics grew more detailed and sophisticated. Earl Weaver was in a way the patron saint of sabermetrics, and I was happy to bask in the reflection of his glory. What makes this a problem is that, as boxing fans have always known, styles make fights. What made Earl’s Way so fascinating all those years ago was its distinctiveness; and that’s what made the arguments among fans fun too. As fascinating as the sabermetrics revolution in baseball has been—and I cheered it on for decades, following James and the other pioneers with passionate intensity—the comprehensiveness of its victory has simply made baseball less enjoyable to watch, for me anyway. Strangely enough, baseball was better when we knew less about the most effective way to play it...."

Writes Alan Jacobs in "Giving Up On Baseball" (Weekly Standard).

And there's the trouble with rationality, in a nutshell. At some point, you may ask yourself, why bother at all? And the rational answer is: Don't bother! The whole wonderful, fascinating thing was irrational, and if it's going to be rational, what's to love?

Now, this makes me think of a scene in the Werner Herzog documentary "Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World," in which we see robots programmed to play soccer:

If you watched that to the end — and maybe you didn't, because robots playing soccer... why bother? — you heard Herzog ask the young man holding one of the robots, "Do you love it?," and the man answered yes. So is the perfectly rational thing lovable? Well, the man loves the robot he's making. But he's experimenting and creating. He's not just a spectator. And I'm watching a Werner Herzog documentary because I love things like the moment when he gets the scientist to experience awareness of his love and to express it.

"Drought Reveals Giant, 4,500-Year-Old Irish Henge."

"The circular structure in the Boyne Valley was discovered by drone photographers searching for signs of hidden Neolithic sites" (Smithsonian).
So why do these ancient structures stand out during times of drought? The henges are actually a series of concentric circles created by placing large posts in the ground. When the henge fell out of disuse or was burned down, the underground portions of the posts rotted away, changing the composition of the soil in the posthole, causing it to retain more moisture. During a drought, while the surrounding crops yellow, the plants over the post holes have a slight advantage. “The weather is 95 percent responsible for this find,” Murphy tells Best. “The flying of the drone, knowledge of the area, and fluke make up the rest in this discovery.”