August 4, 2018

At the Althouse Giant Café...

... you can get your kicks and comebacks.

(The image was sent in by a reader who tells me it's from 1931 Northwest Farm Equipment Journal.)

It was cowardly of the NYT not to include a comments section on this one.

"A Guide to Dating Women Raised in a Matriarchy?/Yes, I have a single mom. Don’t panic," by Zoe Greenberg — a member of the editorial staff of the Opinion section. I guess membership has its privileges.
I grew up firmly in a matriarchy. My grandmother divorced my grandfather when she was 31 and had four young daughters. She wanted more kids, so she very briefly married a man she had met at the neighborhood plant store in order to get his sperm to have a fifth child. She raised her five girls mostly by herself. My mom chose to be a single mom and also had five children: My older siblings and I have donor dads, and my two younger siblings are adopted from Guatemala.

When I tell my dates I grew up without a dad, I can see the synapses in their brains begin to spark. The first question that comes up for them is, I think, simply a curious one: What would a life without a father look like? And then panic sets in: Where did the father go? Were there no men? What happened to the men? Does she hate men? And then, the rational and generous part of the brain re-enters and produces a soothing idea: It must have been a weird and almost inexplicable life, which I can try to excavate through my clever questions....
Greenberg's message is that there are women without fathers, and when you encounter one, you need to take it in stride. Men who don't, who go poking after what remnant of a father this woman might have somewhere, are going to get summarily cut from the woman's life. Which seems to suggest that living without a man leads to more living without a man, but don't you dare pick up that clue or you won't even have a ghost of a chance.

For those of you who miss The Crack Emcee...

... here's "UNMASTERED/A New Political Series By The Crack Emcee."

Scott Adams met with President Trump in the Oval Office and it was oh so comfortable, just the greatest day of his life and the only thing close...

... was that time a decade ago when he took mushrooms, and in fact, it was very like being on mushrooms, where everything was so completely familiar and yet so different... there is simply no one in the universe as charismatic and comfortable as our great President of Presidents, Donald Trump:

Afterwards, after that only very brief but scintillating meeting, he didn't want it to end, so he just — it was pouring rain — he just walked and walked in the rain... so he could absorb it... not the rain... but the mushroomishly wonderful time with the man who made him feel as if he were the only person in the world.

Fortunately, there's video of Scott leaving the White House:

"The Newseum has removed the 'You Are Very Fake News' t-shirts from the gift shop and online. We made a mistake and we apologize."

"A free press is an essential part of our democracy and journalists are not the enemy of the people. Questions have also been raised regarding other merchandise. As an organization that celebrates the rights of people from all political spectrums to express themselves freely, we’ve historically made all types of political merchandise available for our guests to purchase. That has included former and current presidential slogans and imagery and merchandise from all political parties. We continue to do so in celebration of freedom of speech."

The Newseum newsplains.

So I guess you can still buy MAGA hats there. From yesterday:

"When we asked America’s foremost intelligence experts what keeps them up at night, one response came up over and over again: the risk of a crippling cyberattack."

Writes Mike Allen at Axios:
A well-executed cyberattack could knock out the electrical grid and shut off power to a huge swath of the country, or compromise vital government or financial data and leave us unsure what is real.

The sheer number of internet-connected devices, from cars to pacemakers, means the risks are growing by the day.

The big picture: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this week that the U.S. is in "crisis mode," comparing the danger of a massive attack to a Category 5 hurricane looming on the horizon. Intelligence chiefs from the last three administrations agree, and told Axios there is no graver threat to the United States....
I wonder if they've got a plan for dealing with our most frightening, powerful cyberattacker in waiting: the sun. Here's the sequence from the Werner Herzog movie "Lo and Behold" that can scare the hell out you:

"Nothing says 'I'm a WASP' like a black and yellow striped lip."

Wrote Bob Boyd in the comments to the previous post — in which I mention that in the 1970s, I saw the term "WASP makeup" to refer to the lipstick-only approach to makeup. I was riffing on a NYT op-ed which included the subtitle "Nothing says 'I’m a woman' like a red lip."

Charmed by Mr. Boyd's perfect comment, I took up the challenge to find a photograph of someone with black and yellow striped lipstick. Eureka!

And wow, what a great Instagram account — Laura Jenkinson. What I've embedded above is one of the less interesting photographs. There are so many ideas here. Just to tantalize you with one that I love:

ADDED: So let's do as advised and check out Valeriya Kutsan. Whoa! As predicted: Mind blown!

"Why wear lipstick at all? I don’t usually, but I’ve been trying to wear it more often as I get older and vie for higher-paying jobs."

"It’s a strategy, and it works. If you look at photos of successful women — whether chief executives or actresses or politicians — they’re all wearing lipstick. These women appear confident, responsible and sure of everything, a surety that starts with their gender. Nothing says 'I’m a woman' like a red lip.... I had a lot of time in the lipstick line to think about all this — the fact that the pink tax is unfair to women while also revealing us to be complicit weirdos...."

From "Feminists in Line for Free Lipstick/Nothing says 'I’m a woman' like a red lip. But a red lip costs $18.50 plus tax," by Mary Mann (in the NYT). In the comments over there, lots of people are telling her that you can buy much cheaper lipstick at the drugstore. Mann never explains why having an expensive brand matters when it comes to vying for a higher paying job. But she did wait in line for over an hour to get a free tube of lipstick (and material for a NYT "think" piece).

Here's some 99¢ red lipstick at Amazon.

Whenever I read about the importance of lipstick specifically, I remember something I read in a fashion magazine back in the 1970s (when I had a job reading magazines): The term "WASP makeup" meant just lipstick. You can apply your racial studies education to theorizing about why lipstick and only lipstick was called "WASP makeup." And then why "Nothing says 'I’m a woman' like a red lip." And what that full face of heavy makeup says.

ADDED: Here's an article from last year, "I wore red lipstick with no other makeup for a week — and it did nothing for my confidence" (The Insider). The author, Brianna Arps (who appears to be a black woman) says:

But we are animals, Andrew. We are.

"One simple rule I have about describing groups of human beings is that I try not to use a term that equates them with animals," writes Andrew Sullivan in "When Racism Is Fit to Print," writing about the NYT hiring a young woman, Sarah Jeong, who used to tweet in the fuck-white-people style that you can get outraged about if you want.

I can see only one reason to rouse myself into the state of outrage various people are prodding me to flare up into. It's ironic, but I think the failure to get outraged can be interpreted as evidence that you are a white supremacist. But I'm not going to perform in the theater of outrage just because I can see why failure to emote makes me look like I'm too secure in my whiteness, too sure of the strength and power of white people to feel hurt by the fuck-white-people taunts— as if the white people are elephants and the fuck-white-people tweets are from tiny little birds.


"Because the underlying premise that 'television is inherently not good' is one of the core tenets of the entire 'book guy' identity."

"At least, it used to be. It used to be that I — a 'book person”' — stood in stark contrast to you — a 'television person.' I represented a 'beacon of urbane intellectualism.' You represented a 'couch-sustained root vegetable.' I didn’t 'watch TV.' I 'derived pleasure from the written word.' I didn’t 'laugh at situation comedies.' I spent my days 'quietly admiring wit.' You’d ask me if I’d 'seen the new King of Queens' and I’d ask you if you’d 'read the new David Sedaris.' (Sure, I was a dick. But I was a literate dick.)"

So what do you do when television gets good — "Game of Thrones" and all that — and it smashes the underlying premise, Tim Eberle wonders, in "Eulogy for an Aging Book Guy/The least I can do is ride out this 'book guy' thing until it reaches its logical conclusion" by Tim Eberle (in Witness, reprinted in The Utne Reader).

"After all, why would I commit to watching seven seasons of Game of Thrones when I can already talk to you about 'the influence of science-fiction in literary culture in the era post Philip K. Dick' It’s the life that I’ve worked for and the one that I’ve chosen, and there’s no sense in changing that now."

"I have challenged a number of friends overloading on politics and permanently 'bad' news to try reading nothing but science and technology news for a week or two, then compare it to what they had read or watched prior to that."

"Almost invariably they found the science/tech news was quite positive and uplifting while 'regular' news was negative and a buzzkill."

Wrote DCE in the comments to "Start with a politics cleanse: For two weeks — maybe over your August vacation — resolve not to read, watch or listen to anything about politics."

The post title is a quote from the NYT op-ed by Arthur C. Brooks, "Need a Politics Cleanse? Go Ahead and Treat Yourself/Overwhelmed by current events? You can skip a few weeks without losing track of the plot."

Yesterday, we were talking about the demise of Upworthy, a website that was founded on some sort of idea of presenting news stories in a way that would meet psychological needs for the warm and fuzzy (while delivering a liberal, activist message). As the NYT columnist David Carr wrote in "New Site Wants to Make the Serious as Viral as the Shallow" (2012):
... Upworthy... is using strong visuals along with arch, but serious, curation to find the sweet spot between things that are both “awesome” and “meaningful.” Among the memes they’d like to start, the “17 sexiest pictures about income inequality.”

If that sounds too cute by half, remember that these are the people who took a monthsold, earnest video about gay marriage and helped it go viral with 17 million spins on YouTube by putting a clicky head — “Two lesbians had a baby and this is what they got” — on what was essentially a video of Congressional testimony.
The founders of Upworthy had their own ends, and your psychological needs were part of their process of achieving their ends. Of course, everyone writing on the web is serving interests of his own, and you need to look after your own interests (including which of the interests of others you're going to pay attention to). You can choose what websites to visit and which stories to read, making selections moment by moment and getting good at deciding what not to click. I suspect what happened to Upworthy is that readers got better and better at resisting clickbait. What worked for the site originally became deadly because the clickbaitiness was obvious.

If you're reading this blog, perhaps you can sense that I've been writing all along — since 2004 — for the intrinsic value of the experience of finding things I want to read, writing about them in real time, making a space for other people to join me in writing about the same things, and selectively reading what you write. If this blog gives you something that you select to read, thanks! That's part of the intrinsic pleasure.

ADDED: Though I write this blog continuously, I also take breaks all the time. What I do, you can do too: I make different selections. For example, yesterday, I went wandering around in The Utne Reader and wrote about hopelessness and forest bathing. Meanwhile, there are many prominent stories that I won't read beyond a glance at the headline. For example there's something about a Russian woman that has something to do with Trump troubles. I refuse to figure out what looks like a complicated tangle that the news media are promoting because it might turn into something that could hurt Trump.  If it ever does, I'll be able to get up to speed in 5 minutes. It will become simpler. But it might just as well melt away into nothing, and if I'd learned about it, I will have forgotten what I knew.

I have good skimming and selection skills, so I have a lot of control over my time and my psychological wellbeing. I won't sit in front of the television letting CNN or Fox or MSNBC control the time and continually tell me to worry about this and then this and then, after the break, this. I know what they're doing because I overhear some of it when Meade watches. I'll sometimes ask how he can watch it. He says finds it amusing, so okay. I'm very sensitive to the awful aesthetics. Like the other day, I did sit down to watch CNN with him for a few minutes and the main thing I saw — the only thing I talked about — is that the background CNN put behind all the talking heads was slanted. Slanted to the left, by the way. An unintentional metaphor. What was intentional, I'm sure, was the creation of a sense of anxiety — of a world out of kilter. They'd like that to work only subliminally, but I won't let them do that to me.

August 3, 2018

At the Green Beard Café...


... you can talk all night.

And don't think I photographed that detail of "Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise" because I thought it was well painted!

Remember you can use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Cory Booker says, "Newark has gifted me a wisdom that can only come from moons."

At Netroots Nation in New Orleans today:

"I’m a big believer that if America, if this country hasn’t broken your heart, then you don’t love her enough. Because there’s things that are savagely wrong in this country. There’s a normalcy of injustice that we’ve accepted. And I tell you, Newark has gifted me a wisdom that can only come from moons, a sense of purpose that can only come from shared pain. It’s a city that at times where my heart has been broken but I’ve learned that the heart is this interesting organ that, it’s the only one that really works even if it’s gotten broken."

Also at Netroots, he posed holding a sign — "From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go" — bearing the slogan of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

His spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Booker didn't read the sign before posing holding it:
“Just before delivering a speech in New Orleans, Senator Booker was approached by dozens of people for photos... In one instance, amid the rush, he was posing for a photo and was passed a sign to hold – he didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel...."
Did Booker go to Netroots to disqualify himself from a run for the presidency??

I'd look with skepticism on wisdom that comes from the moon. There's a reason for the word "lunatic." Here's the definition from the (unlinkable) OED:
Originally, affected with the kind of insanity that was supposed to have recurring periods dependent on the changes of the moon. In modern use, synonymous with insane adj.; current in popular and legal language, but not now employed technically by physicians....

"Today, almost my entire team at Upworthy/GOOD was laid off (and I resigned). This talented and passionate group of reporters, editors, growth/data and product experts is now looking for work...."

Tweeted Upworthy editor-in-chief Liz Heron.

I guess people don't want to be up anymore... they want to be down. Or getting boosted up no longer works.

CNN reports:
Upworthy skyrockted to viral fame in 2013 because of its catchy headlines and innovative mastery of Facebook's algorithm. The website is famous for headlines using the "curiosity gap," sentences that end in "You Won't Believe Why." At one point Upworthy attracted 85 million visitors. Traffic dipped to 6.4 million in June, according to ComScore. The website pivoted in 2015, writing original content and hired big names from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Good Media bought the website in 2017 and laid off staffers....

"I go way back with Rosie and that’s not the Rosie I know. She was the most diverse and tolerant woman I’ve ever known for a long time."

"Whatever got in her head isn’t the Roseanne I know. It’s a very icy time. I’ve been a comedian for 38 years and I’ve never seen it, like Lenny Bruce said at the Purple Onion, ‘We’ve gone backwards.’ There are things you can’t say. There are things you shouldn’t say. Who makes up these rules? And as a stand-up comic, it’s a dangerous position to be in because I like pushing buttons. It’s unfortunate.... [But ABC] had to do what they had to do and it’s their decision."

Said Tim Allen, quoted at Entertainment Weekly, which referred to Roseanne as "the other conservative sitcom star."

"Believe me, the hardest thing for a man to give up is that which he really doesn’t want, after all."

Wrote Albert Camus in "The Fall."

I encountered that quote in a book I'm reading, "The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients" by Irvin Yalom. Context:
Occasionally individuals can recognize what they desire only when it is taken away from them. I’ve sometimes found it useful in working with individuals confused about their feelings about another to imagine (or to role-play) a telephone conversation in which the other breaks off the relationship. What do they feel then? Sadness? Hurt? Relief? Elation? Can we then find a way to allow these feelings to inform their proactive behavior and decisions? Sometimes I’ve galvanized patients caught in a decisional dilemma by citing a line from Camus’s The Fall that has always affected me deeply: “Believe me, the hardest thing for a man to give up is that which he really doesn’t want, after all.”

Whatever happened to The Utne Reader?

I was wondering, because it came up in conversation here this morning with Meade. Both of us used to read that magazines years ago. What was it — the 80s? Anyway, it's still around, and of course, it's also a website. I checked it out. I was amused by what it picked out for me (because I easily go off into the fantasy of contemplating is this really me?):

Is there some book I've spent years looking for? Am I dithering over varieties of fish? Am I ready to become suspicious of soy sauce? No. No. No. But they're right to prompt me with "Ten Things to Do When You’re Feeling Hopeless," not because I'm feeling hopeless, but because it's a list of 10 things, which makes me feel hopeful — hopeful that I can easily upload 10 tips and ward off hopelessness. I note that the article is from 2011, but that's great because it means there's no chance it will be padded with anything about Trump. Tip #1:
Give up hope. That’s right, get off the hope/despair roller coaster and realize once and for all: It’s hopeless! You should have known when a U.S. presidential candidate won an election on a platform of mere hope that it was time to give it up. Embrace hopelessness! It’s OK! It makes sense. But we can, should, and must still be intentional, responsible, and joyful.
Ha ha. Confident that Trump would not appear, I stumbled into Obama. Hey, this is a good article. I recommend it. I also like these other suggestions that appeared in the sidebar next to the hopelessness article. I would click on all of this stuff:

Forest bathing is an old favorite topic of mine — see here and here. The new Utne Reader article is "Your Guide to Forest Bathing/Learn to take a step away from stress and towards the presence of nature, using mindfulness and meditation to feel peace while surrounded by the wild earth":
The sequence described [of 8 steps in the Optimal Flow] has proven over hundreds of walks to reliably create a strong sensory connection with the forests. It brings us home, opening our internal gates and inviting the forest to come meet our minds and hearts and spirits... The repeated use of these invitations will, over time, deepen your understanding and your capacity to fully “drop in.” Dropping in is a term I’ve often heard forest bathers use. Its origin is in surfing, a practice that’s related in many ways to forest bathing. Surfers wait watchfully for a wave; when one comes, they must paddle to catch it. At a certain point, the paddling gives way to the wave’s own energy carrying the board forward. The surfer stands and “drops in” to the wave and the flow of the moment. When your forest bathing practice begins to ripen, like a skillful surfer you will learn how to drop in, allowing the forest and your own embodied awareness to flow together....
Yes, dropping in. Works for web-surfing too. We're web-bathing here. Feel the flow!

"In Jiangxi and some other parts of China, people buy their coffins and store them in their homes."

"To meet a target of having all dead be cremated starting Sept. 1, officials in some rural parts of Jiangxi confiscated and destroyed coffins that many older people had long saved to buy. Videos posted on social media showed the police raiding houses, excavators crushing piles of empty coffins and workers dismantling elaborate tombs. Such methods shocked many in China and were criticized in national media outlets. 'To crudely implement a 100 percent cremation rate, these methods are inhuman, unlawful and should stop immediately,' The Procuratorate Daily, a state-run legal newspaper, said on Tuesday.... Four years ago, when one city in neighboring Anhui Province began seizing coffins, six older people killed themselves...."

From "Thousands of Confiscated Coffins and an Exhumed Corpse Stoke Fury in China" (NYT).

ADDED: Based on the comments, I think many people are experiencing this story as funny. Is it because China is so far away? Here are these people who have cared so much about burial that they've sacrificed to be able to afford the kind of coffin that meets needs that they must feel very strongly. Now, this valuable property is confiscated and destroyed, and they are also told that their dead bodies cannot be buried at all, but must be disposed of by a method that is completely different from what they have cared so much about and found so meaningful. Maybe you think that human beings are ridiculous to give any mind to what happens to corpses, but have you noticed that your fellow Americans have been dwelling on the story of an orca that has been carrying its dead baby around for days?

"We had candid conversations with Sarah as part of our thorough vetting process, which included a review of her social media history."

"She understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at The Times and we are confident that she will be an important voice for the editorial board moving forward."

From "NY Times Responds to Right-Wing Tantrum Over New Writer’s ‘Anti-White’ Tweets" (New York Magazine).

Can I just give this story my tag "civility bullshit"? If I do that, will you know what I mean and know what my position on the Sarah Jeong question?

What did Urban Meyer know and when did he know it?

August 2, 2018

At the Summer Girl Café...


... you can daub and smudge all your comments.

"An almond doesn’t lactate, I will confess."

Said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, quoted in "Senators Ask ‘What Is Milk?’/Dairy industry wants to limit the word to what comes out of cows" (Business Insider).
The Senate voted, 14-84, to defeat an amendment, offered by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, that would kill spending on a Food and Drug Administration study on what can be marketed as milk.

“Consumers are not deceived by these labels,” said Lee. “No one buys almond milk under the false illusion that it came from a cow. They buy it because it didn’t come from a cow.”...

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin called the amendment “an attack on dairy farmers”...

“These labeling requirements play right into the hands of the large, cronyist food industries that want to place new, innovative products at a disadvantage,” said Lee in a statement last week.
That actually is an attack on dairy farmers — cronyist.

I wrote about the what-is-milk issue long ago. In 2005, in a post called "Sitting in a café":
Extremely mild irritation of the morning (heightened by my caffeination): a man orders a coffee drink made with soy milk. Unless you're allergic to milk or moralistically vegan, don't order soy milk! What are you doing? Soy is a bean -- or, really, a legume. Do you drink peanut milk? Lentil milk? There is no milk, not even juice in a soy bean. So what is this soy "milk"? It's some kind of water containing tiny bean particles. That's not aesthetically correct.
I had to update to say:
An emailer writes: "Hel-lo! Coffee! Cocoa! ... Water with bean particles makes my whole life better, dammit." Wait! Cocoa goes in milk. But still, I get the point. And what is milk anyway? Water with -- what? Why do I favor it solely because the water has been transformed inside an animal rather than suitably boiled and then mixed with a pure powder of human manufacture? Why do I want my liquids to be something that appear in their final form in the natural state? Every other liquid that emerges from the body of an animal is something we -- most of us -- hate to drink a glassful of. The wonder, then, is that we find cow's milk aesthetically pleasing.

"Tiffany Trump and Lindsay Lohan were spotted on Wednesday continuing to live it up on the Greek island of Mykonos."

They're old friends, says The Daily Mail.

Lohan is working on a Mykonos-based MTV reality show that just put out this teaser:

It's hard to imagine how bad the show must be if that's the best they could come up with to fill 17 seconds. Lohan is 32 years old, in case you're wondering, and I assume you will be if you stick out that clip to the end.

One of the worst-rated comments at The Daily Mail raises a very good point: "Shame on them.especially Tiffany. Greek fires took lives and ravaged towns and she['s] partying up a storm there. Shameful behavior." Yeah, now's not the time to be posing and teasing something about cavorting on a Greek isle. Or... maybe it is, what with "Mamma Mia Here We Go Again" in the theaters, feeding the female fantasy of geography and romance.

What's Tiffany doing lending support to this nonsense? Maybe she just likes enjoying Mykonos, but it did give The Daily Mail reason to remind us of Lindsay's support for the Tiffany's father:
Lohan has also expressed her support for Tiffany's father Donald Trump. 'THIS IS our president,' Lohan tweeted. 'Stop #bullying him & start trusting him. Thank you personally for supporting #THEUSA,' she tweeted.

During a Facebook Live... session... in February 2017...  Lohan [said]: 'I think always in the public eye you're going to get scrutinized. He is the president — we have to join him. If you can't beat him, join him.'
ADDED: I've heard it actually sucks to attempt to live it up on Mykonos:
On my first day in Mykonos, in fact in the first five minutes, the hotel driver who picked me up from the airport —there are only 30 taxis on the island, so good luck getting one — let me in on a secret... "Mykonos is not really Greece. It's nothing... Look at a map, find the islands that don't have airports, and go there. Any one will do. They're all beautiful."

"There’s a clinical name for what Apathetic Idealist and many of us are feeling: it’s called compassion fatigue."

"Psychologist Charles Figley defines compassion fatigue as 'a state of exhaustion and dysfunction, biologically, physiologically and emotionally, as a result of prolonged exposure to compassion stress.' Symptoms include behavioural changes (becoming easily startled, a reduced ability to remain objective), physical changes (exhaustion, anxiety and cardiac symptoms) and emotional changes (numbness, depression, 'decreased sense of purpose').... There are those who argue, following Kant, that a subjective experience of empathy should not be required for moral action, and those who go further, contending that empathy actually gets in the way of morality. But the more commonly held view today seems to be that empathy is vitally necessary, not just for direct human interaction, but as a spur to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Why would we come to the aid of people who are suffering, the thinking goes, if we don’t on some level feel their suffering, too?"

From "Is compassion fatigue inevitable in an age of 24-hour news?/We have never been more aware of the appalling events that occur around the world every day. But in the face of so much horror, is there a danger that we become numb to the headlines – and does it matter if we do?" by Elisa Gabbert in The Guardian.

I don't see why we should reject the Kantian idea just because it's a "more commonly held view today... that empathy is vitally necessary." In fact, the constant pressure to feel feel feel, coming at us all the time, is making this dependency on empathy more and more of a problem. People get tired. They get numb. Then what?

I'm thinking that some people will just turn away. I know, I only read the news (and look at photographs). I cannot tolerate the grinding music, the flashing, swirling graphics, and the human yelling and warning and worrying that is news television.

Other people will keep watching as if it's something like a movie — loaded with violence and conspiracies and endlessly unfolding anxiety. You're actually enjoying it. You're taking it. Consuming it. And who knows what effect this has on your soul? But why would it amount to any significant moral behavior from you? At best, you'll toddle over to the polls and check the box that seems to advance the plot.

"If I'm a black person on that set, I'm offended. And honestly, I think a white person should step up and say they feel uncomfortable and it's not appropriate."

"Black and white people gotta stand up when they see some bulls**t going on."

Said the rapper/actor Common, about a stunt double — a child stunt double — whose skin was darkened to make him look like the actor he was supposed to look like — The Daily Mail reports. Common said that it is "never appropriate" to darken a face. "'C'mon man, it's 2018, when is that acceptable? I ain't with it."

I don't know anything about Common, so that puts me at a disadvantage trying to interpret him, and of course, I haven't lived a life enough like a black person's to be great at imagining what he means, but I notice he's asking white people to step up, so I'm going to say that he's agitating anxiety about race and trying to make it so that you'll be more uncomfortable if you try to relax and get comfortable. You ought to have to think: Is this right? Is this decent? Is this helping?

Here you have Seth Rogen (a very successful white actor), making a movie called "Good Boys," in which he is using a chubby 11-year-old black child, Keith L. Williams. I don't know what the story is — other than that "four 12-year-old boys... skip school to embark on a day-long adventure fraught with comedic peril" — but apparently the visual jokes are such that a stunt double is needed.

Somehow, half-conscious Americans are going to be nudged into laughter, sometime in the near future, by scenes of the black kid getting knocked around. And these Hollywood white guys couldn't break their stride long enough to find a stunt double who looks like Williams.

ADDED: In the comments, the question is raised whether this child performed stunts or merely stood in for the actor when technicians adjusted the equipment. If the latter, it would have been much easier to find a similar boy who would not need to have his skin darkened. If it's a stunt boy, as I read it (the word "stunt" appears at least twice), then it's more understandable that they made up the stunt boy they had. But it must be a stunt boy to support my comments about Hollywood extracting idle amusement from knocking a black child about.

By the way, the whole idea of a child doing stunt work seems wrong. I'm sure there are laws applicable at the location (here, Vancouver). But obviously, there are many different kinds of stunts, and surely there are some things that the actor-child can't or won't do that would be okay to allow a stunt child to do — for example, things that are more or less gymnastics.

Jennifer Aniston answers the question "Have you ever been sexually harassed in the workplace?"

"I’ve definitely had some sloppy moves made on me by other actors, and I handled it by walking away. I’ve never had anyone in a position of power make me feel uncomfortable and leverage that over me. In my personal experience I’ve been treated worse verbally and energetically by some women in this industry."

The interview is in In Style magazine, which does absolutely no follow-up. Which women? What exactly did they do? Was it mean talk, delivered "energetically," or were there threats or sexual demands? What do you mean by "worse"?

I'd like to go further into this notion that maybe "sloppy" sexual moves by co-workers are forgivable and next to nothing if you just walk away and that what really hurts is something else, something that might not even be sexual, but some other sort of treatment, something women do to other women more than men do to women, but what are the specifics? I'm ready to hear about how women undercut each other and how painful it is when your dreams of sisterhood are punctured, but you've got to expand on "I’ve been treated worse verbally and energetically by some women."

Actually, how do you expand on it without being part of the problem of women not supporting other women?

Maybe the interview is edited down and follow-up questions were asked and went nowhere, either because Aniston couldn't come up with any specifics or because she didn't want to talk about it or she or the magazine decided it wasn't wise to mess up the #MeToo momentum with a new focus on how the real problem is other women. But, they did leave that tantalizing sentence in: "In my personal experience I’ve been treated worse verbally and energetically by some women in this industry."

The interview as published goes right to a question that seems designed to get the focus back on the badness of men — "Have you experienced sexism in your career?" And, just to make sure: "Do you have hope for change as a result of Time’s Up and #MeToo?"

August 1, 2018

At the Blue Puppy Café...


... luxuriate.

(And think of using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

ADDED: A less jumbled view of this great puppy:


As traditionalguy says in the comments: "Make Danes Great again!" We're working on that, here in Dane County.

I love the color, which is technically referred to as "blue."

"Start with a politics cleanse: For two weeks — maybe over your August vacation — resolve not to read, watch or listen to anything about politics."

Writes the president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur C. Brooks, in a NYT op-ed.
Don’t discuss politics with anyone. When you find yourself thinking about politics, distract yourself with something else. (I listen to Bach cantatas, but that’s not for everybody.) This is hard to do, of course, but not impossible. You just have to plan ahead and stand firm. Think of it as ideological veganism. On the one hand, your friends will think you’re a little wacky. On the other hand, you’ll feel superior to them....

Afterward, with a bit more perspective, you can come back to current events. Three predictions: First, you’ll find that politics is a little like a daytime soap opera, where you can skip a couple of weeks without losing track of the plot. Second, you’ll see the outrage-industrial complex in media and politics more clearly for what it is: a bunch of powerful people who want to keep you wound up for their own profit. Third, like any reformed addict, you’ll see how much time you were wasting and how much you were neglecting people and things you truly love.

After you come back from your politics cleanse, how can you keep from falling back into your old patterns? Resolve to pay attention to ideas, not just politics. They aren’t the same thing. Ideas are like the climate, whereas politics is like the weather....

No, not Austin. The real city that deserves the name Shed Legacy is my own city, Madison, Wisconsin!

On July 29th, you may remember, we saw the crazy fake news on Drudge:


It was just an accidental ambiguity, of course. The proposed new name for Austin was not Shed Legacy, though it was funny to think about that. The idea was just that Austin should want to shed any names that are the legacy of slavery, such as the name of the city's found Stephen F. Austin. The article Drudge linked to didn't highlight any suggested new name, but I carried on about the silly idea of a town called Shed Legacy. What could possibly have happened to make Shed Legacy the right name for a town?

Lo and behold, I stumble across an article in my local alternative newspaper Isthmus: "Save a shed/Trachte buildings are a piece of Madison history. And they’re disappearing fast." This was published on July 26th, so it's certainly not a response to my musings. But check this out. Madison, Wisconsin has a shed legacy!
San Francisco has its Queen Anne Victorians, Portland its bungalows, Baltimore its rowhouses. And Madison has its Trachte buildings.

“They are uniquely Madison,” says Jim Draeger, architectural historian and state historic preservation officer of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “You see them outside of the city, but you see most of them right here in Madison.”

These steel-paneled, barrel-roofed sheds and work buildings have been a big part of defining Madison’s look, particularly on the near east side, for more than a century. They can be spotted across the city — in backyards as garages, along East Main Street and East Washington Avenues as businesses and factories, off Sycamore and Walsh streets and along Lexington and Fair Oaks Avenues as warehouses. They are a part of almost every Madison Gas and Electric substation....

... [T]he strong verticals with multiple horizontals paired with the softness of the rounded roof line... contrast[] beautifully with nature, from weeds to blossoming trees to blue skies with angelic white clouds. Rust, rips, the buildup of many years of paint — Trachte buildings, as they decay, are catnip for the sort of photographer who likes to capture urban decay, the kind of photos known as “ruin porn.”

They are “ephemeral architecture,” says [Jason Tish, former executive director of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation.] “They’re not made to last for long periods of time, though many of them have proved to be remarkably durable.”
So we have what it takes to make Shed Legacy a proper name for this city. And, as with Austin, our city's current name carries the legacy of slavery:
By the early 1780s, the Madison family possessed well over one hundred slaves, and the Montpelier plantation had more slaves than any other in the county. Madison depended on slave labor to earn his income and admittedly felt financially “unable” to free the human beings he had legal title to. Thus both Madison and his neighbor Jefferson indicated that they could not afford to emancipate their black slave captives. Following the emergence of the anti-colonial movement for American independence and the democratic republican wave of humanist ideology, Madison professed to have developed a distaste for slavery. Like Jefferson and Washington, Madison indicated that he was searching for an alternative means of income that would allow him and his family to continue to enjoy a wealthy and privileged lifestyle. Madison contended, as did Jefferson, that slavery was on the road to gradual extinction on its own. Left alone it would eventually die.
Shed Legacy!

Trump calls McCain "a man — I won’t mention his name. But a man..."

From the transcript of Trump's call-in to Rush Limbaugh's show today:
We had Obamacare repealed and replaced, and a man — I won’t mention his name. But a man at 2 o’clock in the morning went thumbs down, and he campaigned for years on repeal and replace. We had the chance. Nobody even spoke to him about it, because it was something that was unthinkable what he did, and because of that… But still, I have just about ended Obamacare. We have great health care. We have a lot of great things happening right now. New programs are coming out....
I thought it very interesting, that almost-phobia about saying the name — as if the name has mystical power, or perhaps a sense that's it's wrong to speak ill of the near-dead.

It was Rush's 30th anniversary show today, and Trump called in to congratulate him. Here, you can watch Rush react. He seems genuinely surprised to get the call:

"In the world in which QAnon believers live, Trump’s detractors, such as Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, wear ankle monitors that track their whereabouts."

"Press reports are dismissed as 'Operation Mockingbird,' the name given to the alleged midcentury infiltration of the American media by the CIA. The Illuminati looms large in QAnon, as do the Rothschilds, a wealthy Jewish family vilified by the conspiracy theorists as the leaders of a satanic cult. Among the world leaders wise to satanic influences, the theory holds, is Russian President Vladimir Putin. QAnon flirts with eschatology, fascist philosophy and the filmmaking of Francis Ford Coppola. Adherents believe a 'Great Awakening' will precede the final storm foretold by Trump. Once they make sense of the information drip-fed to them by 'Q,' they will usher in a Christian revival presaging total victory. The implication is that resolving the clues left by 'Q' would not just explain Trump’s planned countercoup. It would also explain the whole universe.... Some big names have bought into the fantasy. Roseanne Barr, the disgraced star of the canceled ABC revival that bore her name, has posted messages on Twitter that appear to endorse the QAnon worldview, fixating on child sex abuse...."

"‘We are Q’: A deranged conspiracy cult leaps from the Internet to the crowd at Trump’s ‘MAGA’ tour" (WaPo).

"As the day has neared for the release of blueprints for printing 3D weapons, there has been a flurry of last-minute activity and expressions of concern from US lawmakers."

"Even the president weighed in with a Tuesday morning tweet that seemed to question his own administration: 'I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!'... Officials are worried that these 'ghost guns' lack serial numbers, making them untraceable by law enforcement, and that plastic weapons may be impervious to metal detectors in airports. DIY firearms may also render existing gun regulations virtually moot. People who might normally be prevented from legally owning a gun, such as convicted felons or the mentally ill, could skirt such restrictions by printing them at home. At least in theory, that is. In practice, however, it’s not quite as easy as it sounds and 3D guns, some experts say, aren’t worth the trouble or risk of a weapon blowing up in your hand."

From The Guardian.

"Ghost guns." Who thought that up?

"It’s happened thrice, so it can’t be a coincidence: There’s some guy who I believe is playing a fart sound as he passes people as some sort of social experiment."

"I think it’s always the same... fart... Every time... while I was talking to a friend.... we just get interrupted by this fart that leaves us silent and staring. He plays it as he passes and never looks back, acts like nothing happened. Guy is white, college age, very straight-laced looking."

From "There’s a ‘serial farter’ on the loose in the West Village" (Page Six).

More and more the news makes me think about Harpo Marx...

Just yesterday, writing about the Manafort trial, I came very close to adding this:

"My body completely changed. I mean, I've worn corsets before but never for this long of a period. Seven months; your body completely changes."

"You can get it on without even lacing or unlacing. By the end I was just snapping it on, snapping it off. It was like second nature. Keira Knightley, who I think has been in more corsets than any other human, told me that there was a whole thing with eating. That you have to time your meals, because otherwise it starts to come up. Definitely. For better or for worse, the corsets kind of put you into the character because it does literally affect everything that you do: Breathing, walking, running, sitting, standing, and definitely eating. Yeah, you do kinda have to time it out because it can not feel so good after lunch."

From an interview with Dakota Fanning in W... where I also learned that "Kim Kardashian Has Officially Introduced the 'Fashion Tail'" and "16 Celebrities Who Prove That 2018 Is Officially the Year of the Bob"

"Officially" seems to be a key word at W. Obviously, there are no officials and no enforcement, so "officially" is a figure of speech.

Trump defenders: Defend this.

The Trump haters are mocking him. "Donald Trump Says You Need A Picture ID To Buy Groceries In America/The president made the comment while pushing for voter ID laws at a Florida rally" (HuffPo).
To be clear, American citizens do not need a picture ID to buy basic groceries. There are some federal and state regulations that prohibit the sale of alcohol or certain over-the-counter medications without identification, but that does not extend to basic food or cleaning products.

Social media users remarked on Trump’s assertion as “out of touch” and wondered when the billionaire last bought his own groceries....
Some of us remember when George H.W. Bush lost his bid for reelection because he let us see that he was unfamiliar with a checkout scanner and thus that he didn't go grocery shopping like us plebes.

Here's a bad defense: Maybe Trump is the guy who gets out his checkbook when he buys groceries. Bad because: We hate that guy.

So what have you got? There's the Scott Adams idea that Trump deliberately gets some things wrong. What is that theory exactly? His antagonists will feel compelled to talk about it because they can point out what's wrong. (Duh, here, it's so easy.) And then they'll be forefronting the issue he really wants discussed. (Here, it's voter ID and the fear of voting by ineligible voters, emotional issues that cause people, some people, to gravitate toward Trump.)

I'd also say that the people who attack Trump need to attack and attack and attack, so give them some chum, and they may gnaw on it all day instead of something that might really hurt Trump.

Because I don't think Trump is vulnerable to what hurt George H.W. Bush so much. Trump was always an out-and-proud billionaire. Why would he be buying his own groceries? No one imagines him pushing a shopping cart, selecting items, and waiting "on" line in Manhattan! He'd have to walk 4 1/2 long blocks (not short blocks) to get to a Whole Foods from Trump Tower. That's 9 blocks, total, plus the walking in the store. Who even pictures him walking that far, let alone being subjected to the indignities of getting asked if he "found everything" he was looking for and if he's an Amazon Prime member? (Which kind of is like being asked for ID.)

And Trump is different from H.W. not only because he wears his rich-man status proudly. He has also already succeeded in connecting with working-class people. He hasn't seemed effete and out-of-touch, so there's no resonating with a preconception as there was with H.W.

Now, what time is it? I'm getting bored.

IN THE COMMENTS; campy said:
“I refuse even to joke about it,” Amanpour says...


"Legendary journalist Christiane Amanpour walks into the room trailed by the most impressive of clouds: a cumulonimbus of fortitude, pierced by solar flares of her signature erudition."

So begins Kevin Fallon in "Christiane Amanpour on Replacing Charlie Rose: ‘It Sends a Really Big Message’/The acclaimed journalist on her new show, defending the press against Trump’s attacks, and what it means to be the woman replacing the disgraced Charlie Rose" (Daily Beast).
We attempt a joke. “Nice to meet a fellow ‘enemy of the people,’” transforming President Trump’s controversial characterization of the free press from a scorching threat on democracy to an interview icebreaker.

“I refuse even to joke about it,” Amanpour says, grinning gamely but preparing to deliver the first in a series of manifestos that would score our conversation about the state of journalism-under-fire....
Fallon is a florid writer. What does "manifestos that would score our conversation" even mean? Doesn't a "manifesto" need to be something more than a one-liner? My dictionary, the OED, says it's "A public declaration or proclamation, written or spoken; esp. a printed declaration, explanation, or justification of policy..." and "In extended use: a book or other work by a private individual supporting a cause, propounding a theory or argument, or promoting a certain lifestyle." As for "score," I guess he means "To cut superficially; to make scores or cuts in; to mark with incisions, notches, or abrasions of the skin." Example from the OED: "The elephant,..deeply scores with its tusks the trunk of the tree" (Charles Darwin).

The conversation is covered with cut marks made by declarations of policy. Okay. It's actually quite common to speak for words as capable of making cut marks. We often say "cutting remarks." And a conversation is something that can be cut. We speak of cutting into the conversation and even of silence that feels like you could cut it with a knife. Or a manifesto.

Anyway. Back to late-night talk shows. Why were people watching Charlie Rose in the first place? Did he make them feel smart and sophisticated? Can Christiane Amanpour access the same streak of TV audience emotion? If there was a sexual element to the response, can Christiane do what Charlie did? By the way, was Ted Koppel in a different psycho-sexual niche? Who watched Ted and who watched Charlie? What was that late night consumption of men chewing the news all about?

IN THE COMMENTS: campy said:
“I refuse even to joke about it,” Amanpour says,...


"In the post-Honey Badger era, it’s become increasingly common for large corporations to appropriate viral memes for their own marketing purposes."

"Critics argue that the creators of these memes, who are often teenagers and frequently people of color, rarely have the opportunity to monetize their work. 'Want to profit of[f] your meme? Good luck if you aren’t white,' read a 2017 headline in Wired magazine after Kayla Lewis, who goes by Peaches Monroee on social media and is credited with creating the phrase 'eyebrows on fleek,' launched a GoFundMe campaign asking for donations so that she could start her own cosmetics line. Before launching the campaign, the magazine noted, Lewis hadn’t made any money off the phrase, even after companies like IHOP, Taco Bell, and Forever 21 used it. And meme creators only have a small window of time to monetize their viral fame before the Internet moves on to something new, [argued the lawyer for Christopher Gordon AKA Randall]. 'My client is a creative genius,' he said. 'He had a bolt of lightning, 86 million views on YouTube, was basically a celebrity around the country for about three years and he had a brief window of time to strike while the iron was hot on that. He should be the one — not the defendants in this case — to capitalize on that.'"

From "Honey Badger may not care, but the ‘creative genius’ who took him viral just won a big victory" (WaPo). Gordon was sharp enough to have trademarked the lines "Honey Badger Don’t Care" and "Honey Badger Don’t Give a S—."

Note that Gordon's original viral video wasn't made by him at all. It was National Geographic video. He just provided the audio track.

ADDED: It's inherent in the nature of memes and virality that people repeat something. "Honey badger don't care" would be nothing if people hadn't passed it on and found it fun to repeat. I'd be very careful about letting people own catch phrases. How are the rest of us supposed to speak? All our words are stolen if you get too picky about what it means to steal.

IN THE COMMENTS: Laslo Spatula says:
There is a nascent post to be made in analyzing the Honey Badger video now in the context of The Era Of That's Not Funny.

The pseudo-gay voice is obviously problematic.

He is also appropriating the Honey Badger's culture for his own benefit, and mocking it in the process.

The celebration of an animal for its violent and selfish tendencies is also troublesome: indeed, the video could be seen as a Trojan Horse for celebrating the American Conservative White Male.

To begin.

"If I were a plumber, would they have attacked me as ‘a callous plumber?’"

Said the lawyer, Jim Guinee, who made video of a worm crawling out of a half-eaten piece of cod and posted it on Facebook, with the name of the restaurant tagged, quoted in "Restaurant berates ‘irresponsible reaction’ of man who shared video of a worm in his food" (WaPo).
In a Facebook post about the incident, the restaurant said it takes “every precaution while preparing and cooking meals for the public.... With that being said, one of our seafood purveyors did send us Saturdays cod and missed the small worms that were found by two of our guests, located in the center of their piece of fish.... We immediately halted serving this dish. We also compensated the family of 8 generously and expressed our sincere concern and apologies that one our guests had anything less than an amazing experience at our restaurant.”

Then the restaurant called out Guinee, an attorney, saying it was “very surprised at the callousness and irresponsible reaction of an attorney of law to attempt to destroy our reputation & possible livelihoods due to something that could have happened to anyone, whether cooking at home or in a restaurant.”
Here's the video:

July 31, 2018

At the Girl with a Book Café...

... keep reading and knit, too, if you like, or make writing your second activity. Your musings are welcome here.

(The painting, like the one in the previous post, is by Johann Georg Meyer. This one is from 1863. According to Wikipedia, Meyer depicted "incidents from popular life, especially among the Hessian peasantry, and finally to the portrayal of family life in its pathetic aspect." He's considered part of the Düsseldorf school of painting.)

"According to the first-quarter 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report... American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media."

Nielsen reports.

11 is a lot of hours, but notice that one component of that time-spending is reading. Can we get a pat on the head for being big readers?

Or is reading on an electronic device just one more way of staring at a screen, like watching TV? If you read a book, what a good boy/girl you are!

But if you read on a computer, you're interacting with media.

(The painting of the girl reading is from 1871, by Johann Georg Meyer.)

Prosecutor tells the jury that Manafort owned a $15,000 “jacket made from an ostrich" and had a "golden goose in Ukraine."

An oddly avian first day of trial.

(HuffPo's report.)

Why do I find it so funny that he said "jacket made from an ostrich" instead of "jacket made of ostrich leather" (or "ostrich leather jacket")? It creates a sense that it's very weird to appropriate animals for the manufacture of items for human comfort and pleasure. But only a comedian would say, That man is wearing shoes made from a cow!

"coordinated inauthentic behavior" — Isn't that the story of human life?

I'm reading "Facebook says it found new covert campaign to spread divisive political messages" (NBC):
Facebook said Tuesday that it had uncovered a new covert campaign to spread divisive political messages on its social network, its first acknowledgment of potential political meddling before this year’s midterm elections.

The company removed 32 pages and accounts from its platform and from Instagram “because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the company said in a statement. The pages and accounts were connected to protests planned in Washington next week, Facebook said.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said that the company could not identify the source of the campaign and that it was still looking into it.
This seems awfully bland! They want a pat on the head for rooting out "coordinated inauthentic behavior"? I think we're entitled to the freedom to be inauthentic and to coordinate. And to protest.

"Sen. Bernie Sanders' 'Medicare for all' plan would boost government health spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, requiring historic tax hikes..."

"... according to the analysis by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia. Doubling federal individual and corporate income tax receipts would not cover the full cost, the study said" (Bloomberg).
"If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all, and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States cannot do the same," Sanders said in a statement. "This grossly misleading and biased report is the Koch brothers response to the growing support in our country for a 'Medicare for all' program."

Sacha Baron Cohen must be desperate for footage. He uses this sequence with Roy Moore even though he gets nothing comical or embarrassing from Roy Moore.

I forced myself to watch this whole thing, because WaPo did an article on it, "Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest prank: Using a fake pedophile detector on Roy Moore":

It's very slow going, with Cohen in ridiculously thick and expression-impairing makeup and a very heavy accent. Cohen tries to get Moore to say something embarrassing about "freedom-loving" Alabama, but Moore remains stable and reserved and uses abstractions that give Cohen nothing to work with. Moore sat down for this interview because he was led to believe that he was being honored for his support of Israel.

Cohen brings out a device that, he says, the Israeli military uses to detect pedophiles, and it goes off when it's held near Moore. This might have been funny if Moore had become very angry or upset, but Moore was stoical for a little while, then says, "I am simply cutting this conversation right now. Good night. I support Israel. I don’t support this kind of stuff."

It's quite simply a prank that failed and should not have been used unless Cohen wants us to conclude that he can't succeed in his tricks anymore. This is another perspective on the Era of That's Not Funny. It's harder for comedians to derive comic material from non-comical characters like Moore. Moore knew enough to keep a pleasant smile, then a poker face, and then to walk away. That's not funny.

"I disagreed with most of what he said, but he said it in such a charming, amusing way. And if truth be told, if I had my choice of dissenters when I was writing for the court..."

"... it would be Justice Scalia, because he was so smart, and he would home in on all the soft spots, and then I could fix up my majority opinion. Sometimes it was like a Ping-Pong game between us."

Said Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking on stage, after a performance of "The Originalist," an off-Broadway play about Justice Scalia, the NYT reports.
For all his bellicosity, the Scalia in “The Originalist” is also a charmer, balancing his ursine ferocity with a thoughtful quietude. Justice Ginsburg, who is 85 and figures in the play only as an offstage presence (“I love Ruth Ginsburg,” Scalia says), painted the real Scalia as a considerate and mischievous colleague who, from the time they were appellate judges together in the 1980s, was not above whispering in her ear or passing her a note to crack her up.

“Scalia was a very good writer, and he did labor over his opinions,” she said. “Both of us did. And sometimes he would come to my chambers, to tell me I had made a grammatical error.” The crowd roared. “I would sometimes tell him his opinion was so strident he would be more persuasive if he toned it down.” A pause, because she knows how to deliver a line. Then: “He never took that advice.”

I love the voice and manner of the NYT "Daily" podcast host, Michael Barbaro, but I didn't know anything about him personally.

I wanted to write a post about this morning's new podcast, which is about how the Democratic Party really has no idea how to present itself to the American people (and a lot of the problem is Obama's fault), and I stumbled into "‘The Daily’ host Michael Barbaro splits from husband, dating female producer" (Page Six).
Political correspondent-turned-podcast star Barbaro married fellow Yale grad Timothy Levin in 2014 and has reportedly been known to make references to his husband on “The Daily.”...
I listen every day and have never noticed such references, and I think I would have. I love the gentle male voice but it had never occurred to me to think about the man's sexual orientation or whether he was married.
A source added of Barbaro and [Lisa] Tobin: “They work very closely together … part of the show’s success is this team’s close work.” The source said there is “nothing inappropriate” about the relationship.
Barbaro, we're told, had already broken up with Levin before getting involved with Tobin. (Too bad the headline creates the opposite impression. The headline is also bad for having a misplaced modifier that makes it look like Levin is dating Tobin.)
A gushing Vanity Fair profile this week dubbed Barbaro “the Ira Glass of the New York Times”...
Ha ha. So true. The voice!
VF’s piece added that the scene at the Times “can often resemble a large high-school cafeteria.” It seems like Barbaro and Tobin’s courtship has been the talk of the cool kids.
I'm just worried the relationship might go bad and mess up the show I love. But I'm sorry somebody's marriage broke up. Is there anything to say about the fact that a man who was married to a man is now interested in a woman? Marriages break up, even gay marriages. I guess, when your new partner is the opposite sex from your old partner, it highlights that your old partner lacked something that you seem to want now, but there are always differences when you switch from one individual to another, and no one outside of the relationships has a basis to know what were the differences that really mattered.

Back to today's show, about the Democratic Party. Here's the info page about it, "The Democrats' Comeback Plan/The party's seemingly narrow strategy for the 2018 midterm elections belies its big hopes for the future" — which sounds more optimistic about the Democrats than the show actually is. The show is much better than that headline makes it sound (and don't get me started about how confusing the word "belies" is).

"Someone could screenshot your past tweets or embed them in a blog post. Just so you’re aware."

That's the sentence from "There’s no good reason to keep old tweets online. Here’s how to delete them" that I need to reverse engineer. Although the author of this WaPo piece, Abby Ohlheiser, is trying to talk people into fearing and destroying their Twitter archive, I care about my blog archive, and I don't want Twitter archive deleters to erode my archive and put blank spots where I've embedded tweets. Bloggers like me who love the archive should use screenshots. The links won't work in a screenshot of a tweet, but you can link to the tweet, and people can go to the tweet (if it's still up) and click on the links. Screenshots load a lot faster too.

An odd thing about Ohlheiser's article is that she begins by scaring readers about some people who suffered serious consequences because their archives had some old tweets that were — or seemed —anti-gay, pro-rape, pedophiliac, or racist. How many WaPo readers are worried about old tweets like that?
But by 2018, we should know that a tweet is simply too easy to take out of context — and there’s no reason to keep a full accounting of everything you’ve ever tweeted. So here’s a guide to getting rid of it.
Let me translate that for you: Our culture has become so insane that even you bland innocuous people ought to cower, because you can never be sure what might be used against you and when it is, you will be screwed. Maybe you once loved the freedom of expression, but it's 2018, and it's time for sprawling, pervasive anxiety. You need to be paranoid about the enemy that is your own old witty remarks and even your laughter (i.e., retweets) in response to somebody else's jokes. Because by 2018, nobody knows what a joke is anymore. It's the Era of That's Not Funny.

Ohlheiser says, "I deleted almost my entire Twitter archive about a year ago... I hesitated for months, because I was too attached to my years-old food observations and tweets about the local art scene in the small city I lived in after college." That could be a good setup for one of those New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" humor pieces. You once posed as empathic and beneficent attending the opening of an exhibition of photographs by and of transgender people. Today, that pose reads as condescending. Disrespectful. There's that old "food observation" about an ethnic restaurant that, by 2018 standards, smacks of racism. Years ago, you ate a taco. Today, you seem to have culturally appropriated it.

July 30, 2018

At the Colorado Sky Café...


... you can talk all night.

Photo by Meade, from a week ago.

And here's the Althouse Portal to Amazon in case you've got some late-night shopping to do. Maybe a nice Bigfoot costume to fulfill your fantasies.

"In a new book, Bob Woodward plans to reveal the ‘harrowing life’ inside Donald Trump’s White House."

WaPo reports.
[“Fear: Trump in the White House”]... derives its title from an offhand remark that then-candidate Trump made in an interview with Woodward and Post political reporter Robert Costa in April 2016. Costa asked Trump whether he agreed with a statement by then-President Barack Obama, who had said in an Atlantic magazine interview that “real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence.”

At first Trump seemed to agree, saying: “Well, I think there’s a certain truth to that. . . . Real power is through respect.” But then he added a personal twist: “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word: ‘Fear.’ ”

Woodward, who declined to be quoted for this article, has privately described the remark as “an almost Shakespearean aside.”...

"Leslie Cockburn, a Democratic congressional nominee in Virginia, accused her Republican opponent, Denver Riggleman, on Sunday of... being the author of Bigfoot-themed erotica."

The NYT reports.
In an interview on Monday, Mr. Riggleman said he was writing a book about people who believe in Bigfoot but denied that it contained any erotic content. He said any eyebrow-raising images of Bigfoot on his social media accounts were a result of “a 14-year practical joke between me and my military buddies.”...

Mr. Riggleman says the whole thing is a joke that has been misconstrued by Ms. Cockburn. The naked drawing of Bigfoot that she tweeted was a gag that was sent to him by friends — although it was a reference to the title of a real second Bigfoot book that he says he is currently writing: “The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him.”

He describes the book as “a sort of joke anthropological study on Bigfoot believers.”
Here's the ludicrous tweet by Cockburn:

It's just by chance that Riggleman and Cockburn have smutty looking names.

"Doug La Follette says he's been Wisconsin secretary of state about 25 years, but it's been nearly 40."

Reports Politifact.
Perhaps La Follette couldn’t recall. Or perhaps he wanted to downplay how long he has held the job....

Over the years, the Legislature has gradually reduced the duties of the secretary of state. La Follette said in the interview his office once had 50 employees and now it’s just him and one other full-time employee....

When we contacted La Follette about his statement, by the way, he said he would have to "do a little calculation." Then later he emailed us, saying: "Wow, I did some math. It looks like it is more like 40 years; let me say, time flies when you’re having fun. Thanks for calling this to my attention."'
One of the candidates running for Wisconsin secretary of state is running to eliminate the office. What does a state's secretary of state do anyway? Here's a Wikipedia article on that subject. Basically, it varies from state to state, and 3 states (Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah) don't have this office at all.

"‘Lopping,’ ‘Tips’ and the ‘Z-List’: Bias Lawsuit Explores Harvard’s Admissions Secrets."

The NYT continues to follow the lawsuit accusing Harvard of anti-Asian discrimination:
Harvard says it... considers “tips,” or admissions advantages, for some applicants. The plaintiffs say the college gives tips to five groups: racial and ethnic minorities; legacies, or the children of Harvard or Radcliffe alumni; relatives of a Harvard donor; the children of staff or faculty members; and recruited athletes....

It also helps to secure a spot on the “dean’s interest list” or the “director’s interest list”... [and the] little-known Z-list....

Harvard says it tries each year to build a diverse class of “citizens and citizen-leaders” who will help shape the future of society.... [T]he court papers describe a continuing process called “a lop,” which the plaintiffs say is used to shape the demographic profile of the class.

As the admissions process winds down, the dean and the director of admissions review the pool of tentatively admitted students and decide how many need to be “lopped,” by having their status changed from “admit” to “waitlist” or “deny,” the court papers say....

In the recently unredacted court filings, several Asian-American applicants were described in conspicuously similar terms. One was described as “busy and bright,” but the “case will look like many others without late info.” Another was “very busy” but “doesn’t go extra mile, thus she looks like many w/ this profile.” Yet another was “bright & busy” but it was “a bit difficult to see what would hold him in during a lop.”
So "busy" is code for... Asian? Or is it a fair negative assessment of students who use the strategy of working very hard to achieve great paper credentials? If it's true that 1. Harvard thinks students like that don't enhance the college experience for other students, and 2. Asian applicants are more likely to adopt this strategy for doing well on tests, then lopping "busy" students might be defended as not intentionally but only accidentally hurting many more Asian applicants. But doesn't it still seem likely that a stereotype about Asians would cause more Asian applicants to get dinged as "busy"?

"Pres. Trump says he's 'ready to meet' with Iran 'anytime they want to' and says there would be 'no preconditions.'"

I'm seeing lots of reactions like this:

But I'd just like to say:

1. Trump is like Obama in many ways. Not in all ways, obviously, but click my "Trump is like Obama" tag for more examples of this phenomenon.

2. I remember when Obama made his statement that he'd meet "without preconditions" with Iran (and  Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea). It wasn't when Obama was vying with the GOP candidate. It was in July 2007, when he was fighting to distinguish himself in the field of Democratic candidates in this debate:

It wasn't Republicans that got on his case! It was Hillary Clinton and her supporters. Here's what I wrote at the time which makes it crushingly clear the opposition to Obama was about Hillary:

"As a rule I don't go off the record with high-ranking officials, particularly the president."

"As the person overseeing coverage, I don't think officials should be able to tell me things that I can't publish. And I don't want to be courted or wooed."

Said NYT executive editor Dean Baquet, quoted in "Why Dean Baquet Skipped The New York Times’ Meeting With Trump" (Buzzfeed).

Jake Tapper not pleased that the Obamas are "living their best life" when the Democratic Party is living its worst since the 1920s.

Some economist reacts to Tapper's tweet with "Don't understand the point of this conversation. Does @jaketapper think Obama should be back in US leading Democrats or blaming @BarackObama for leaving Democrats in an incredibly weak position or just making random observation?"

Tapper says: "Kind of a combo of 2 and 3. Glad he’s enjoying his life; he’s entitled. Also, FYI, as we begin focus on Nov 2018 and 2020, he presided over a historically precipitous decline of his party. Just a factual matter. Some Dems seem angrier at my tweet than at that fact. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

He says ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ a lot!

I'm just incredibly uneasy about HuffPo calling attention to that song title. I'm reading about this tweeting at IJR, in "Jake Tapper Roasts Former President Obama over the Current State of the Democratic Party," and nothing is about the song title and why HuffPo mentioned it.

My ideas are: 1. The song is so popular or Beyoncé and Jay-Z are such idols that no one noticed a problem with writing "N***as in Paris," 2. Though the concert was in Washington, D.C., the Washington, D.C. of the Obamas might as well be Paris, and that's why the song title seemed so apt (and "N***as" came along without much thought), 3. The HuffPo tweeter is black and therefore, like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, has a privilege to bandy that word about casually (but the tweets come from "HuffPo Politics," where there is no individual tweeter identified), 4. Knowing the song seemed cool, so naming it proved coolness, 5. HuffPo wanted to create agitation over the use of the word (and believed, because they are liberal, that more anxiety about race will work out well for their side), 6. They actually get a frisson of racist satisfaction when they put that word next to the Obamas' name.

After writing all that, I'm reading the Wikipedia article on the song, which I see is censored and just called "In Paris" or "Paris" on the radio:
The song received universal acclaim from many critics. Rolling Stone commented on the song by saying "Jay and Ye come in hard over a slow, menacing beat and icy synthesizer notes, but regardless, this cut is mostly memorable for including an unexpected sample of dialogue from the Will Ferrell/Jon Heder ice-skating comedy Blades of Glory. 'No one knows what it means, but it's provocative,' says Ferrell with deep conviction, essentially summing up the art of hip-hop lyrics." 

The Fembotization of everything.