August 11, 2018

At the Lotus Café...


... unfold.

"He continued to write novels even after declaring the form a 19th-century relic, no longer able to capture the complexities of the contemporary world...."

"Mr. Naipaul’s writing about Africa drew criticism from many who were unsettled by his portraits of Africans.... He was also criticized for his unflattering portrayals of women.... He visited Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia in the late 1970s, when they were witnessing a rise in political power and Islamic fundamentalism. His first travelogue, 'Among the Believers,' was published in 1981. A sequel, 'Beyond Belief,' followed in 1998. He started his inquiry, he later explained, by asking simple questions: To what extent had 'people who lock themselves away in belief shut themselves away from the active, busy world?' 'To what extent without knowing it' were they 'parasitic on that world'? And why did they have 'no thinkers to point out to them where their thoughts and their passion had led them?' The books are grounded in Mr. Naipaul’s belief that Islamic societies lead to tyranny, which he essentially attributed to a flaw in Islam, that it 'offered no political or practical solution.' 'It offered only the faith,' he wrote. These books were harshly criticized...."

From "V.S. Naipaul, Who Explored Colonialism Through Unsparing Books, Dies at 85" (NYT).

"To put it bluntly, the birth of a baby is not only a matter of the family itself, but also a state affair."

Said the official Chinese newspaper People’s Daily, quoted in "Burying ‘One Child’ Limits, China Pushes Women to Have More Babies" (NYT).
It is a startling reversal for the party, which only a short time ago imposed punishing fines on most couples who had more than one child and compelled hundreds of millions of Chinese women to have abortions or undergo sterilization operations.

The new campaign has raised fear that China may go from one invasive extreme to another in getting women to have more children. Some provinces are already tightening access to abortion or making it more difficult to get divorced....

“Women cannot decide what happens to their own ovaries,” one user complained on Weibo, a popular microblogging platform, after Jiangxi detailed the abortion guidelines in July.

"Eleanor Roosevelt lived across the hall in the 1940s when we first moved in."

"My mom, Jane Bishir, was a Midwestern girl who’d come to New York to make it as a writer and became the closest of friends with Vivian Vance long before she was on 'I Love Lucy.' She was my godmother. My godfather was the best babysitter on God’s green earth, Garth Williams, the illustrator for all these wonderful books. He would be doodling, and there was one evening where he showed me three or four spiders: 'Which spider do you like?' He and E.B. White were going around the bend to avoid the Disneyfication of 'Charlotte’s Web,' and he wanted to try it out on a kid. My dad was a classical harmonica player and good friends with Burl Ives, who asked him if we could let this songwriter from Oklahoma stay at our house for a while. So I’m in bed, and in the next room I hear Woody Guthrie singing and playing, and in my total infancy I thought, 'He’s not as good as Dad.'..."

Said John Sebastian, quoted in "How ‘Summer in the City’ Became the Soundtrack for Every City Summer/The dog days of 1966 were filled with riots, protests and a nation on edge. Not to mention a brutal heat wave. But in Greenwich Village, something new was happening" (NYT).

Harvard statistician developed an algorithm to determine the likelihood that a song was written by John Lennon or Paul McCartney...

... and pretty much resolves the longstanding controversy over who wrote the music to "In My Life." There's no controversy about the lyrics — only about the music. This Science Friday podcast goes through some of the characteristics of Lennon music and McCartney music, and it's mainly that John was more conventional and ordinary and Paul was creative (for example, jumping whole octaves in songs like "Love Me Do" and "Eleanor Rigby"). But the statistician, Mark Glickman, is not given enough time to tell us about the detail of the music in "In My Life," so I don't know why his algorithm gave that song to John (with a 98.2% likelihood). Isn't there a big jump from one note to the next in the final "in MY-EYE-EYE-EYE life"?

Yeah, that's called viewpoint neutrality.

"Facebook censors artist's work criticising male-dominated society because it features naked breasts" (The Art Newspaper)(photograph with naked breasts at the link).
The Icelandic artist Borghildur Indridadóttir is blaming Facebook for having taken over her account after she had posted pictures featuring bare female breasts. "Facebook told me the pictures were against their community standards and did not only take those away from my timeline, but also deleted my friends and likes," she says.

The pictures were part of her work Demoncrazy, which deals with how older men continue to dominate certain public and social spaces in Iceland. As part of the Reykjavik arts festival in June, Indridadóttir showed photographs of topless young women standing in front of painted portraits of older men...
More Demoncrazy — watch out for breasts — here.

Facebook should have a viewpoint neutral standard, not a ban with an exception for the right political ideas. And if posing your naked model in front of a picture of an old man was enough to get special treatment, then anyone could set up their photoshoot like that.

Omarosa doesn't know what's in her own book... or she does and she's pretending not to.

I do not want to spend much time on Omarosa's book. I'm just going to link to this NPR piece, "Omarosa Tells NPR She Heard Trump 'N-Word Tape,' Contradicting Her Own Tell-All Book" and quote this:
In her interview with NPR's Rachel Martin, Manigault Newman claims to have heard the tape and heard Trump using that slur on the tape.

But that's not what it says in her tell-all book, Unhinged, due out on Tuesday.

When asked by Martin about the discrepancy during the interview, Manigault Newman insisted Martin must not have read the book (she had) and pointed to a section at the very end of it. But in that section, Manigault Newman doesn't actually describe hearing the tape. She writes of calling one of her "sources" who had a lead on the "N-word tape."
"Unhinged" is such a common insult these days, but I heard some comedian say something like: "They said I was 'unhinged,' but I don't even have hinges." I'm just going to guess it was Kathy Griffin, because I can't find the joke on the internet and I recently sat through her 3-hour show. I liked that joke, and I'm tired of the insult "unhinged" (and all the other insults that rest on the premise of mental illness, a condition that warrants empathy (including my own longstanding tag "Trump derangement syndrome")).

I can also see that when the comedian Michelle Wolf was called "unhinged," she reacted with the joke, "Now is not the time to be hinged," but I like "I don't even have hinges" much better, because it takes you immediately to the concrete image — a person with hinges. This is what I picture:

That man — his name is Jeff Warner — is really good at operating that toy and I like his voice too. It reminds me of Jim Kweskin. The toy is called a "limberjack" or a "jig doll." I was a little worried that the term "jig doll" in a post involving Omarosa might strike some people as racist, especially since the song Warner is singing is "Buffalo Gals." But a "jig" is a dance, and these dolls — also called "limberjacks" — have been around for hundreds of years and don't seem connected to the racial slur that begins with those 3 letters and that can be shortened to those 3 letters. But here are some Pinterest images of jig dolls, and you'll see that some of them depict black people in a way that is easily interpreted as racist (like this one).

As for "Buffalo Gals"... are they supposed to be black women? I've never thought about this before. From Wikipedia:
"Buffalo Gals" is a traditional American song, written and published as "Lubly Fan" in 1844 by the blackface minstrel John Hodges, who performed as "Cool White." The song was widely popular throughout the United States. Because of its popularity, minstrels altered the lyrics to suit the local audience, so it might be performed as "New York Gals" in New York City or "Boston Gals" in Boston or "Alabama Girls" in Alabama (as in the version recorded by Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins on a field recording trip in 1959). The best-known version is named after Buffalo, New York.
Hmm. So "Buffalo" is not a way to refer to black people. It's just Buffalo, New York. But it is an old blackface minstrel song! What a strange set of facts to encounter as I put some extra effort into steering away from anything arguably racist. And I don't want to be unfair to Jeff Warner, who just seems delightful to me. Here's the most famous version of the song:

"Buffalo Gals" is also what the slave character Jim is singing when we first encounter him in Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer":
Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail, and singing Buffalo Gals. Bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful work in Tom's eyes, before, but now it did not strike him so. He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and negro boys and girls were always there waiting their turns, resting, trading playthings, quarrelling, fighting, skylarking. And he remembered that although the pump was only a hundred and fifty yards off, Jim never got back with a bucket of water under an hour--and even then somebody generally had to go after him. Tom said:

"Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll whitewash some."

Jim shook his head and said: "Can't, Mars Tom. Ole missis, she tole me I got to go an' git dis water an' not stop foolin' roun' wid anybody. She say she spec' Mars Tom gwine to ax me to whitewash, an' so she tole me go 'long an' 'tend to my own business--she 'lowed SHE'D 'tend to de whitewashin'."

“Oh, never you mind what she said, Jim. That's the way she always talks. Gimme the bucket--I won't be gone only a a minute. SHE won't ever know."

“Oh, I dasn't, Mars Tom. Ole missis she'd take an' tar de head off'n me. 'Deed she would."
I didn't have to censor the "N-word" in that passage. It does appear elsewhere in "Tom Sawyer," but not (as in "Huckleberry Finn") as part of Jim's name. But Mark Twain's use of the African American Vernacular English is on vivid display. The white author completely failed to follow the Roxane Gay directive to "know your lane" and stay in it.

And now, if you need a book to read, you can't be thinking of reading "Unhinged." That would be nuts. Don't you feel like reading "Tom Sawyer"? "Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden." That's great stuff. And I love running into words that it seems we've been forgetting to use, like "skylarking."

"Skylark" is also a song. Here, this is nice:

I think the "skylark" there is the bird. Not the prankish horseplay. And not the Buick...

Bonus: The French word for the "skylark" (the bird) is "alouette" — as in...

Je te plumerai la tête = I'll pluck the feathers out of your head.

And that's where I'm going with all this: I'll pluck all thoughts of Omarosa out of your head.

"Anders Carlson-Wee engaged in nothing we moderns need slur as 'blackface.'"

"To wit, while we must evaluate each case on its own basis, to the extent that any white person’s depiction of Black English of whatever quality or diligence elicits rolling eyes at best and social media witch hunts at worst, we have lost step not only with linguistic science, but also with what most would consider norms of how human groups co-occupy social spaces and learn from one another."

Writes John McWhorter in "There’s Nothing Wrong With Black English/Accepting it as an alternative form of the language, and not a degraded one, requires being open to artists employing it in their work, even if they didn't grow up speaking it" (The Atlantic).

Anders Carlson-Wee is the white poet whose poem The Nation obsequiously apologized for publishing. We talked about it here.

McWhorter pushes back the writer/professor/editor/commentator Roxane Gay (who, like McWhorter, is African American):
[Roxane Gay] directs white writers to “know your lane,” and not depict the dialect.... Of course, if a Carlson-Wee depicted Black English gracelessly in terms of the grammar, it’d be time to call foul. But he got it right....

Gay... wrote on Twitter: “The reality is that when most white writers use [African American Vernacular English] they do so badly. They do so without understanding that it is a language with rules. Instead, they use AAVE to denote that there is a black character in their story because they understand blackness as a monolith. Framing blackness as monolithic is racist. It is lazy.” Indeed. But it isn’t clear to me that Carlson-Wee is guilty of either of these flubs....
This may be some solace to Carlson-Wee, but — for all McWhorter's linguistic expertise — Gay's message is the one that will stick. What white writer would read all this and decide anything other than just to stay in your lane as Gay instructed? You might get McWhorter's elevated, educated approval, but you'll only get that — is that enough?! — if you avoid "flubs" — what are all the possible flubs?! — and even then, I sense there's something more:
[W]hen a Carlson-Wee briefly explores the pain of a black homeless person and shows her using precisely the speech variety she actually would, or an Oscar Hammerstein knows that working-class black people in a parachute factory [in Carmen Jones] would not talk like the characters in his previous hits Oklahoma! or Carousel, it’s time for educated America to get past the cringe of seeing Black English depicted on the page by someone who didn’t grow up speaking it.
It seems the writer will also have to pass an empathy test and successfully inspire the belief that he's exploring the pain or showering knowledge of working class black people. But good literature doesn't make it that clear. How do we know this writer is not making fun of black people or criticizing them in some way? Even when he's not, you may think he is. I read Carlson-Wee's poem and I don't think it unambiguously or simply "explores the pain." As I wrote a few days ago:
The voice is that of a black person, talking to other black people, explaining how to to collect money from the white people who pass by... The key insight is that you get money by causing white people to think about who they are and to be motivated to give you money because they were made to think that the person who gives you money is the person they want to be. So you succeed if you essentially cease to be and transform yourself into the image of whatever it is that jogs them into feeling they need to be the person who helps you. That key insight follows a how-to list of ways to be that inauthentic person who gets white people to give you money.

Is the main problem that the white poet had the nerve to appropriate a black voice or is it that he portrayed black people as pathetic and conniving? Or is it that he portrayed white people helping black people as a matter of white narcissism?
That is, I suspect that the hostility to Carlson-Wee came not because he tried to embody a suffering black person, but because he had that black person criticize the kind of good white person The Nation's readers like to think they are. Didn't pass the political test. And I see McWhorter as carrying forward a political test, though he paid almost no attention to it.

I'd like to think McWhorter would approve of the politics of the Carlson-Wee poem that means what I said it means. But even if the McWhorter seal of approval is all a white writer would need to have permission to depict a black style of speech, who would take the risk? And what writer would choose a project that entails the incessant inhibition of gunning for that approval?

August 10, 2018

Casual — and maybe charming — sarcasm from President Trump.

"The judge in Paul Manafort's trial has called a recess without explanation."

"U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis lll huddled with attorneys from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office and Manafort's defense lawyers, as well as court security officers, for more than 20 minutes before calling the recess. The judge then exited the courtroom toward the jury room...."

Yahoo News.

ADDED: As you can see at the same link, the trial resumed and there was no big deal. Too bad this boring post sat at the top of the blog all day! I hate when that happens. And before I went out for my 4-mile walk, I considered putting up this photograph:


But I decided it was too boring. How wrong I was! It is fascinating compared to the Manafort trial.

"We understand the purpose of education is not a career and a technical job, the purpose of an education is to teach young people how to think, which scares the hell out of Scott Walker."

Said Paul Soglin at the Democratic Party gubernatorial forum on Wednesday, quoted in "At Democratic forum Matt Flynn says Scott Walker will eat Tony Evers for lunch" (Wisconsin State Journal).

Here's the Isthmus report on the forum:
The mostly collegial conversation took a turn toward the end of the 90-minute forum, when Flynn took aim at Evers, criticizing him for supporting Walker’s most recent budget and calling him “Republican light.” Evers pushed back against the attack, calling Flynn’s characterization a “cheap shot” and pointing out that he praised the budget as “pro-kid” because Walker adopted 90 percent of the funding Evers had proposed. “I’ll never back off from that,” Evers said. “That is, frankly, an outrageous comment from somebody that I respect. We can win this race without this type of diatribe."

Flynn responded by suggesting that Evers couldn’t stand up to Walker. "If you ask an open question to a liar — to Scott Walker — he'll have you for lunch," Flynn said.
Tony Evers is the state school superintendent, and he's leading according to the latest Marquette poll. The primary is next Tuesday. It's a shame there are so many candidates. The forum was very hard to watch — technically amateurish to the point of absurdity. We watched and here's the comment I dashed off in my own comments section last night:
We watched the whole thing. Laughed a lot. At what??! They weren’t funny but we laughed anyway. Something about the mikes malfunctioning, Evers mumbling, that guy who seemed like Andy Kaufman wearing a yellow suit that turned green as the time wore on, Vinehout getting so gosh darn excited over everything and rocking back and forth, Flynn being so weirdly gruff, etc. It all seemed so rinky dink. At one point, a fedora floated by. No one took care of the technical side of this show. They were all seated, yet they stood up to talk and the camera had to tilt up and down woozily.

And you want to be my governor?
"A fedora floated by" literally refers to a man in a hat walking in front of the camera. Figuratively, it's a bit like an empty suit.

Floating Fedora from Natasha Kirke on Vimeo.

ADDED: Scott Walker won't eat Tony Evers for lunch because he's famous for eating the same thing for lunch every day, and it's not Tony Evers. See "This Governor Is Getting Mocked for Brown-Bagging Lunch Every Day" (Money):
Walker tweeted that for 26 long years in a row, he has eaten not one, but two ham-and-cheese sandwiches almost everyday for lunch. “Like millions of Americans, I bring my own lunch to work,” Walker wrote in the tweet.
Walker eating lunch is not a good metaphor for his opponents. It's long been part of his political rhetoric, and they're making me think of it.

Violent headline in The Washington Post: "Time for Mueller to bring out the big guns."

It's just an op-ed by a lawprof, and I haven't read it, but I see it's #1 on the "Most Read" list in the sidebar, so the headline worked as clickbait. Which makes me notice that the list should be headed "Most Clicked," because, as I said, I didn't read the op-ed, and I doubt if many of WaPo's readers (i.e. clickers) did. I mean I glanced at it again just to get an idea of when I decided, after clicking, that I didn't really want to read it after all, and I couldn't get past the first sentence...
Even as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III marches forward with his prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and as the case that President Trump engaged in criminal conduct grows stronger, the president and his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani continue their tango about whether the president will deign to answer questions from Mueller’s team.
... and even then, I was just thinking idle thoughts like: marches forward, that sounds like something that might be done with big guns, but oh, what's this?, a tango. Mueller is marching and has guns, and Trump and Giuliani are tangoing. And they're purportedly tangoing "about" something. How do you tango about whether to answer questions?

It makes me think about the old aphorism "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." The point there is, obviously, you can't dance about architecture (so you can't write about music). It's a great line, because it's so trippy to think about dancing about architecture.

Dancing About Architecture from ZEITGUISED on Vimeo.

3 long sentences beginning with "When."

From "Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson/The Canadian psychology professor’s stardom is evidence that leftism is on the decline—and deeply vulnerable," by Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic:
When the poetry editors of The Nation virtuously publish an amateurish but super-woke poem, only to discover that the poem stumbled across several trip wires of political correctness; when these editors (one of them a full professor in the Harvard English department) then jointly write a letter oozing bathos and career anxiety and begging forgiveness from their critics; when the poet himself publishes a statement of his own—a missive falling somewhere between an apology, a Hail Mary pass, and a suicide note; and when all of this is accepted in the houses of the holy as one of the regrettable but minor incidents that take place along the path toward greater justice, something is dying.

When the top man at The New York Times publishes a sober statement about a meeting he had with the president in which he describes instructing Trump about the problem of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” and then three days later the paper announces that it has hired a writer who has tweeted about her hatred of white people, of Republicans, of cops, of the president, of the need to stop certain female writers and journalists from “existing,” and when this new hire will not be a beat reporter, but will sit on the paper’s editorial board—having a hand in shaping the opinions the paper presents to the world—then it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system.

When even Barack Obama, the poet laureate of identity politics, is moved to issue a message to the faithful, hinting that that they could be tipping their hand on all of this—saying during a speech he delivered in South Africa that a culture is at a dead end when it decides someone has no “standing to speak” if he is a white man—and when even this mayday is ignored, the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to the end.
I was going to challenge you to diagram these sentences, but what I really want to ask you to do is to sing them to the tune of "Queen Jane Approximately." You know the Bob Dylan song I'm talking about?
When your mother sends back all your invitations/And your father to your sister he explains/That you’re tired of yourself and all of your creations...

Now when all of the flower ladies want back what they have lent you/And the smell of their roses does not remain/And all of your children start to resent you...

Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned/Have died in battle or in vain/And you’re sick of all this repetition...

When all of your advisers heave their plastic/At your feet to convince you of your pain/Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic...

Now when all the bandits that you turned your other cheek to/All lay down their bandanas and complain/And you want somebody you don’t have to speak to...
Dylan follows all of his "when" clauses with "Won’t you come see me, Queen Jane?" Flanagan's "when"s are followed by: 1. "something is dying," 2. "it is no mystery that a parallel culture of ideas has emerged to replace a corrupted system," and 3. "the doomsday clock ticks ever closer to the end." Which do you like better, the Flanagan variety or the Dylan repetition? Dylan gets an extra plus or minus because one of the "when"s is about being "sick of all this repetition." I give a plus, myself, especially since where all the "when"s get us is to a desire to be with "somebody you don’t have to speak to." There's no repetition like no talking at all.

"It just happened that way. When I’m on a knee, most of the time I’m praying, and thank God for having Albert next to me."

"Being a part of this protest hasn’t been easy. I thought I was going to be by myself out there. Today I had an angel with me with Albert being out there. I’m grateful he sees what’s happening, and he wants to do something about it as well."

From "N.F.L. National Anthem Protests Resume With Players Kneeling and Raising Fists" (NYT). The quote is from Kenny Stills took a knee along with his Dolphins teammate Albert Wilson during the anthem before the preseason game last night. They were the only knee-takers this week, and there were also a couple players who raised a fist.

Did you notice it's time to pay attention to football again? It's early August. I notice that the Dolphin who raised a fist last night (Robert Quinn) is wearing a winter hat...

You don't need a hat in August in Florida, and — think about it — you don't need football.

The perfection of press vanity.

The Birds.

ADDED: "Fed-up locals are setting electric scooters on fire, smearing them with poop and burying them at sea" (L.A. Times).
These vandals are destroying or desecrating the vehicles in disturbingly imaginative ways, and celebrating their illegal deeds on social media — in full view of authorities and the public....

Lt. Michael Soliman, who supervises the LAPD Pacific Division’s Venice Beach detail, said he’s aware of some vandalism — his team has seen scooters left in a pile 10 feet high. But because people aren’t reporting such incidents, it’s not something officers are responding to, he said.

“If we have to prioritize the allocation of our time and resources, first and foremost we’re going to prioritize the preservation of life,” Soliman said. “Protection of property comes second.”
So it's open season.

Light-hearted pro-Trump street art — reacting and in contrast to the demolition of his Hollywood star.

"What exactly might an 'insurance policy' against Donald Trump look like? He would have to be marginalized at every turn."

"Strategies would encompass politics, the courts, opposition research and the media. He’d have to become mired in lawsuits, distracted by allegations, riddled with calls for impeachment, hounded by investigations. His election must be portrayed as the illegitimate result of a criminal or un-American conspiracy.... Once Trump is in office, a good insurance policy would call for neutralizing the advisers seen as most threatening, including his attorney general. The reigning FBI director could privately send the implicit message that as long as Trump minds his own business, he won’t be named as a target. When the president asks the FBI director to lift the cloud and tell the public their president isn’t under investigation, the FBI director could demur and allow a storm of innuendo to build. Idle chatter benefits the plot. There would be rampant media leaks, both true and false, but none of them would benefit Trump. All would be well unless the president removes the FBI director. Then, a rider on the insurance policy would kick in...."

Writes Sharyl Attkisson at The Hill.

Also at The Hill: "The handwritten notes exposing what Fusion GPS told DOJ about Trump," by John Solomon.
... Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson — paid by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to find dirt on her GOP rival — met secretly with [then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr], right after Trump won the 2016 election. And all of it was captured in the official’s handwritten notes — a contemporaneous record that intelligence professionals tell me exposes the flaws plaguing the early Russia collusion case....

Early on, Ohr’s notes detail, the conversation focused on a theory apparently offered by Simpson that revolving Trump team members — former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, followed by informal adviser Carter Page, then personal lawyer Michael Cohen — forged a secret channel with Moscow to hijack the election. All three men long have been cited in the Russia investigation; each denies any coordination with Russia. But Ohr’s notes are the first to quote Simpson as suggesting the three essentially were shark-tooth spies who replaced each other in a secret plot....

The Ohr interview and many other now-public actions in the Russia collusion case are “breaking every protocol at the fundamental level of intelligence gathering,” one highly decorated intelligence professional told me....

August 9, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

Did anyone watch the debate last night — the Democratic Party candidates for Wisconsin governor?

Personally, I forgot. But here's the video, so it's not too late.

If you watch and see some good moments, tell us the precise time.

WaPo's empathy provoking headline — "Tennessee plans to execute killer with controversial drug that Justice Sotomayor said could inflict ‘torturous pain’"...

... fails to inspire empathy. Comment after comment carry on the theme I've encountered in all sorts of comments threads on articles about the cruelty of the death penalty:
How much pain did Paula Dyer experience when Billy killed her? How much pain did her family feel? Her friends and community? If Mr. Irick does not have a comfortable demise, I for one will not shed a tear.

Bring back the chair and set to medium rare.

He raped a first-grader 33 years ago. Let him suffer.

Who the hell cares how much he suffers if at all? He certainly didn't give a damn about the suffering he was causing his victim!

In fact all murderers should be executed in the same manner of the murder they committed and then some, PERIOD!


If you don't want them to use the drugs, there's still "Ol Sparky" on standby.

Torturous pain? Only one way to find out, heh heh.

Oh boo hoo. Since the writer conveniently left our what this inmate is being executed for, I decided to find out. Billy Ray Irick is being executed for the rape and murder of a 7 year old girl in 1985. He's had 33 years of life since raping and murdering a 7 year old child. I shed no tears when he finally kicks it and if he feels a little pain - so be it....
Not one commenter mentions Sotomayor, whose humanity WaPo seems to have hoped its readers would want to echo.

"Ever the good student, Jeong... absorbed a bastardized version of critical legal studies and critical race studies, both prevalent at Harvard Law."

"Those by now hoary theories portray the great traditions of Anglo-American jurisprudence as just a mystifying cover for illegitimate power. 'In law school,' Jeong writes in her Rolling Stone post, 'we learned that due process is what we get in lieu of justice. And what’s due process besides a series of rules that are meant to keep things as predictable as [f***ing] possible?' It would be salutary for Jeong to live for a while in a society without due process and where the workings of justice are not 'as predictable as [f***ing] possible.'"

From "Sarah Jeong Is a Boring, Typical Product of the American Academy" by Heather Mac Donald in National Review.

I don't understand attacking Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies as "hoary." "Hoary" means "Ancient; venerable from age, time-honoured"(OED). Mac Donald objects to the disparagement of "the great traditions of Anglo-American jurisprudence." If tradition is something you like, hoariness is a plus.

I don't think cursing about the regularity of rules is much of an effort at Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies, and apparently Mac Donald doesn't either, since she calls what Jeong is doing "bastardized."

I haven't read enough of the Jeong oeuvre to have a real opinion of the quality of her mind, and I don't know what, specifically, Harvard lawprofs were teaching in the years when she attended. Critical Race Theory and Critical Legal Studies were vibrant back in the 1980s, and lawprofs said all sorts of things under those labels back when the theories were young and fertile. The lawprofs who did this sort of thing used to argue with each other, and it wasn't boring at all.

"[T]he president is only partially correct in saying that the meeting with Trump Jr. is 'done all the time in politics.'"

Writes Jonathan Turley at The Hill.
The media has largely ignored that Hillary Clinton and her campaign spent a huge amount of money to fund the efforts of former British spy Christopher Steele to gather dirt on Trump, including information from the Russian government and intelligence figures...

However, this particular meeting is not “done all the time” because it was uniquely dumb. Trump Jr. pulled Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner into a meeting with unknown participants connected to the Russian government in Trump Tower as members of the media meandered around downstairs. The irony is that the Clintons showed how this is “done all the time” with cutouts and third parties like Steele. Indeed, despite denials during and after the campaign, the Clinton team only admitted to funding the dossier after the media stumbled onto the paper trail long after the election. When caught, they simply declared it was done all the time as “opposition research.”...

If the Russians had evidence of criminal conduct by Hillary Clinton, her campaign or her family foundation, the Trump campaign had every reason to want to know about it. That is precisely what the Clinton campaign spent millions to do, talking to Russians and other foreigners investigating Trump....

In the end, the Trump Tower controversy is not based on “fake news” as claimed by the president, but the federal crime alleged by the media is based on fake law.
"Fake law" is a great catchphrase. You could just say that somebody is wrong about the law. But "fake law" plays into our present-day anxieties so well.

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors have spent several days building what many legal experts consider a slam-dunk case against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort."

"But it has been surprisingly hard going at times, and as they prepare to rest their case by the week's end, they bear battle wounds that Manafort’s lawyers are sure to exploit as they mount their defense," Politico reports.
Most notably, Manafort’s attorneys have painted the prosecution’s star witness, Rick Gates, as a serial liar, embezzler and philanderer who — as a defense lawyer asserted in court on Wednesday — engaged in four extramarital affairs.

Several other setbacks have come courtesy of the cantankerous presiding federal judge, T.S. Ellis III...  The judge also seemed to give credence to Manafort’s argument that he did not keep close enough track of his money to commit knowing fraud and tax evasion.

“Mr. Manafort was very good about knowing where the money is and knowing where to spend it,” Gates said.

“Well, he missed the amounts of money you stole from him, though, didn't he?” the judge said.

Gates conceded that was true.

“So, he didn't do it that closely,” the judge quipped, to some laughter in the courtroom....

"This young woman is exposed to the world as if she's a racist, but maybe look into your own heart..."

"... If there were some line you could say to the cop who stopped your car that would cause him to let you go with just a warning, wouldn't you say it? Also, what if this woman were a little smarter and more experienced and knew to just give a smile and a look that communicated 'I'm a clean, white girl' but never said the words? She'd be the more white-privileged woman, and she wouldn't be getting her life ruined by social media."

I wrote, over on Facebook, where my son John posted the news article "A Woman Arrested For Drunk Driving Told Police They Shouldn't Arrest Her Because She's A 'White, Clean Girl.'"

"Does Sacha Baron Cohen Understand Israel?/The comedian’s new show makes a mockery of Israeli machismo. But he doesn’t know who we really are."

In the NYT, Shmuel Rosner critiques Cohen's character Morad — "an ultra-macho ex-Mossad agent who travels around the United States duping Israel-loving conservatives into embarrassing themselves."
We cannot escape the suspicion that there are still some Morads in our midst: Brave commandos who become political leaders or arms dealers or pundits; Israelis who are blunt, macho, crude, boisterous, pompous and trigger-happy; Israelis who forget to shed their uniformed mentality even when their services are no longer needed....

We still have dangerous enemies, so maybe keeping this stereotype going is useful. We seem tough after all, with our big muscles and love of guns. On the other hand, the Morad caricature makes us look bellicose and pigheaded, if not downright absurd. And it probably makes us seem hideous to many Americans, especially young ones, especially liberal ones — the Americans with whom Israel already has an image problem....

Israel’s most avid supporters in America might like us more as crude machos than as start-up entrepreneurs. They might even prefer our satirized fossils to our real selves....

When I was working on this article, I called a friend of mine, a former paratrooper, to get his thoughts. “Are there still a lot of Morad types in our country?” I asked him. And then he gave me the answer that made it all clear: Every Israeli who serves in the military knows that we still have Morads. But for every idiotic Morad, we also have two prankish Cohens. That’s why we can afford a laugh.
So there are idiots and pranksters in a 2 to 1 ratio. What's the ratio of idiot-or-prankster to those who are neither idiot nor prankster. Rosner doesn't say.

The word "macho" (or "machismo") is used 4 times in Rosner's column. "Masculine" is used once — in a phrase that stands in for "macho": "blustering, masculine image." So "masculine" is nothing but bad and retrograde — in Rosner's words, "bellicose and pigheaded."

Rosner says that Americans might prefer such awful people to "our real selves." But what are your real selves — "prankish Cohens"?

I can't watch Sacha Baron Cohen's show (and I used to like him) because he comes across as an aggressive jerk. Not just his characters. He seems clearly to hate the character he's invented, even as he gets into embodying the character and having the freedom to act out that guy's hatefulness. I find it sad and demoralizing.

Is there no way to be a good man — a good man? Rosner doesn't talk about that, and I wonder if Cohen believes in it at all.

"The five suspects accused of abusing 11 children at a New Mexico compound were training them to commit school shootings..."

CNN reports the prosecutors said.
Allegations against the suspects come in the wake of the discovery that 11 starving children had been living in a filthy compound in Amalia, New Mexico, that lacked electricity or plumbing.

Authorities raided the compound on Friday as part of their search for Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, a child with severe medical problems who was allegedly abducted from Georgia by his father, Siraj Wahhaj, about nine months ago. A boy's remains were found at the compound on Monday, police said, although it is not yet clear whether the remains are those of 4-year-old Abdul-Ghani.

The five defendants -- Wahhaj; his sisters, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj, who are thought to be the children's mothers; Lucas Morten and Jany Leveille -- were each arraigned Wednesday in a Taos, New Mexico, courtroom on 11 counts of child abuse related to the neglect and abuse of the children....

Wahhaj's father, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a controversial New York imam, said he has "no knowledge" of the alleged training, said spokesman Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid.

The imam was the first Muslim to offer an opening prayer before the US House of Representatives, the Muslim Alliance in North America said. He was also a character witness for convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Omar Abdel-Rahman.
I found that hard to understand!  Who is the Wahhaj  who is one of the 5 defendants? Not Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. He's 4-years-old and probably deceased. But not Imam Siraj Wahhaj either, I don't think. I have to do my own research to make sense of the CNN article! Wikipedia tells me this about Imam Siraj Wahhaj (who is 68 years old):

"Sikh man beaten, spat on. ‘Devastated’ police chief says suspect is ‘my 18-year old son.'"

WaPo reports.
“Words can barely describe how embarrassed, dejected, and hurt my wife, daughters, and I feel right now,” [Union City Police Chief Darryl] McAllister wrote in a lengthy, emotional message on the Union City Police Department’s Facebook page. “Violence and hatred is not what we have taught our children; intolerance for others is not even in our vocabulary, let alone our values.”

His son, Tyrone McAllister, was arrested along with a 16-year-old on charges of attempted robbery, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. Police say that one of them waived [sic] a firearm in the air as they left the scene of the attack....

“Despite having the desire any parent would have in wanting to protect their child, my oath is (and always will be) to the law and my vow of integrity guides me through this horrendous difficulty,” Darryl McAllister wrote in the Facebook post. “My stomach has been churning from the moment I learned this news.”

McAllister said his son began running away and “getting involved in a bad crowd” a couple of years ago. “He pretty much divorced his friends and family, associating with people none of us knew.”

He spent some time in a juvenile center after getting in trouble for theft-related crimes, and was again arrested for theft as an adult, his father wrote. After spending about three months in jail, he “has been wayward and has not returned to our family home for several months,” McAllister wrote.

“It’s difficult for us to comprehend how one of three kids who grew up with the same parents, under the same roof, with the same rules and same values and character could wander so far astray,” McAllister said. His 18-year-old son has two sisters, McAllister said, “one corporate and the other about to start law school.”
Difficult to comprehend? The successful two are the daughters. The "wayward" child is the son. What do boys need? You can't say this child didn't have a strong father figure in the house. His father is the Chief of Police. Tyrone McAllister is just one individual, and who knows his particular story? I'm not going to generalize, but the sex difference between that father's successful children and his unsuccessful son is too glaring not to mention.

IN THE COMMENTS: Karen of Texas said:
Begs the question - was dad a strict disciplinarian while his son and daughters were growing up who punished his son for transgressions in ways he did not punish his daughters? It would also appear the son is the baby of the family. Perhaps mom was too permissive when her last child came along - and dad had higher expectations of his male heir.

Who knows what the family dynamics and dysfunction were. The blanket statement that they were all raised under the same roof, yada, is and indication that dad (and mom) are unable to self examine to see if perhaps they did treat son differently - and perhaps not in the "good" way they think they did.
MikeR said:
Sad story. But I didn't like the police chief's statements about his son; his son needs his love right now. The chief shouldn't be speaking publicly about it. It feels like he's throwing his son under the bus to save the family's reputation.

I have three sons. One had a hard time but now is doing well, one has been doing very well, and the third is still having a very hard time. It really makes no sense to wonder about whether their gender or any other external factor led to their circumstances. Everyone ultimately makes their own choices.

"The thing to do with this young man is put him in jail for a long time." There are no circumstances where it ever makes sense to put anyone in jail for a long time. Give him lashes if you think it will help, put him in a chain gang to work off his debt if he can, transport him to a colony if you have one, or execute him. Civilized human beings do not keep people in cages.

August 8, 2018

At the Blue Beach Café...


... talk about anything you want.

And if you need to buy anything, buy it through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

New, improved Trump tweeting — now, shorter than ever.

ADDED: The new, totally terse tweet came a few after this series of tweets, which I'm reprinting to give you a more fleshed out view of our President's public display over yesterday's voting:

1. "5 for 5!"

2. "The Republicans have now won 8 out of 9 House Seats, yet if you listen to the Fake News Media you would think we are being clobbered. Why can’t they play it straight, so unfair to the Republican Party and in particular, your favorite President!"

3. "As long as I campaign and/or support Senate and House candidates (within reason), they will win! I LOVE the people, & they certainly seem to like the job I’m doing. If I find the time, in between China, Iran, the Economy and much more, which I must, we will have a giant Red Wave!"

4. "Congratulations to @LenaEpstein of Michigan on a job well done. Also, thanks for your great support!"

Striking photograph of Epstein at her Twitter page:

She won the GOP primary in Michigan's 11th District. The Detroit Free Press has this:
Epstein was all but unknown in political circles before 2016, when she helped to engineer President Trump's successful Michigan campaign, the first won by a Republican presidential nominee in the state since 1988...

"Lena definitely ran as the Trump candidate. Others (in the Republican field) attempted to but didn't have the natural connection," said Republican consultant John Truscott..... Truscott said that while the 11th district has traditionally been Republican, it only marginally backed Trump in 2016...

"Change is coming to the #Oscars... A new category is being designed around achievement in popular film."

The Academy announced today.

Here's some criticism at Slate.
But creating a category that segregates popular films from more elevated fare...
See where this is going?... segregates....
... hardly seems like an improvement or likely to keep the academy relevant, since it calls attention to the awards’ elitism rather than actually broadening their appeal. If the academy really wants to make the Oscars more appealing to a wider audience, it should consider just recognizing the artistic merit of deserving popular films instead of cordoning them off in their own category.... [P]retty much any solution would be better than sticking Black Panther with a participation trophy.

"Part of winning retweets and likes is sending missives your community will love. Given how human beings police group boundaries, that means..."

".... making jokes only your friends understand, slamming common enemies, expressing sentiments in ways that signal group belonging. Twitter is a medium that rewards us for snark, for sick burns, for edgy jokes and cruel comments that deepen the grooves of our group. And then it’s designed to make the sickest of those burns and the worst of those jokes go viral, reaching far beyond their intended audience, with untold consequences.... [Twitter] is built to reward us for snarky in-group communication and designed to encourage unintended out-group readership. It fosters both tribalism and tribal collision. It seduces you into thinking you’re writing for one community but it gives everyone the ability to search your words and project them forward in time and space and outward into another community at the point when it’ll do you maximum damage. It leaves you explaining jokes that can’t be explained to employers that don’t like jokes anyway...."

From "The problem with Twitter, as shown by the Sarah Jeong fracas/Behind our Twitter wars lies Twitter’s problems" by Ezra Klein (Vox).

"'Kris, can you predict what might become this season’s popular buzzword?' asked the host — to which Wu responded, 'Skr skr skr skr skr skr skr skrrrr,' varying each monosyllable’s pitch."

"Tellingly, Wu did not elaborate on the colorful colloquialism: Though widely used, its meaning is head-scratchingly difficult to pin down."

From "How ‘Skr’ Took Over the Chinese Internet/A brief history of the meaningless hip-hop term that inspired countless viral memes" (Sixth Tone).

Here's some audio, for what it's worth: "Kris Wu - SKR."

"A young woman, well known to the New York City-based chattering class, has finally let loose with what she really thinks. 'The white race is the cancer of human history,' she says..."

"'... it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.' Has this author discovered some new tweet from Sarah Jeong, the now-notorious new hire at the New York Times? Nope. The quote above dates back to 1967. It’s from Susan Sontag, the chic literary critic. Her words were mostly in response to the Vietnam War, but as we can see, her critique extended far further. We might also add that Sontag later said she regretted her quote—because it was insensitive to cancer victims...."

So begins James Pinkerton in "Social Justice Warriors Are the Democrats’ Electoral Poison/Those who don't denounce the politics of Sarah Jeong will crash and burn just as George McGovern did" (The American Conservative).

ADDED: From Sontag's book "Illness as Metaphor":
The cancer metaphor seems hard to resist for those who wish to register indignation....  D.H. Lawrence called masturbation “the deepest and most dangerous cancer of our civilization”; and I once wrote, in the heat of despair over America’s war on Vietnam, that “the white race is the cancer of human history.”

But how to be morally severe in the late twentieth century? How, when there is so much to be severe about; how, when we have a sense of evil but no longer the religious or philosophical language to talk intelligently about evil? Trying to comprehend “radical” or “absolute” evil, we search for adequate metaphors. But the modern disease metaphors are all cheap shots. The people who have the real disease are also hardly helped by hearing their disease’s name constantly being dropped as the epitome of evil. Only in the most limited sense is any historical event or problem like an illness. And the cancer metaphor is particularly crass. It is invariably an encouragement to simplify what is complex and an invitation to self-righteousness, if not to fanaticism.

"A Florida tourist has died after being punched in the face by an SUV driver in New York who he likely mistook for an Uber worker."

"Sandor Szabo, 35, was knocked unconscious around 1.15am on Sunday in Queens while trying to make his way home from his stepsister's wedding" (Daily Mail).
It is thought that he had called for an Uber and began knocking on car windows to find out which ride was his. When he knocked on the window of a white SUV the driver climbed out, hit him in the face, and then drove away leaving him bleeding on the sidewalk.
AND: Another example of possibly justifiable self-defense: "Woman shoots masturbating bicyclist trying to break into her SE Houston home, police say."

"'It’s fantastic,' Mr. Trump said about his rapport with Mr. Rosenstein when a spokesman told him The Wall Street Journal was seeking a comment."

"'We have great relationship. Make sure you tell them that.' Mr. Rosenstein declined to comment for this article. In a statement, a Justice Department spokeswoman said he has a 'productive working relationship' with Mr. Trump. As the Mueller investigation proceeds, their relationship may sour. Mr. Trump has consistently called it a 'witch hunt,' and Mr. Rosenstein has said protecting the probe is a priority. But the rapprochement may signal that, despite the president’s public statements, the investigation isn’t in immediate danger of being halted. Senior White House officials privately praise Mr. Rosenstein’s handling of demands by congressional Republicans to share internal documents on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email server and any Trump campaign contacts with Russia. Some Trump allies—such as Reps. Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio)—accuse Mr. Rosenstein of stonewalling, but White House officials say they view their effort to impeach Mr. Rosenstein as a sideshow. Indeed, the president has recently come to rely on Mr. Rosenstein, the No. 2 at the Justice Department whom the White House increasingly views as the No. 1, given the president’s disenchantment with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because he served on the Trump campaign...."

From "'It’s Fantastic!' Trump Warms to Rosenstein/Nearly fired by the president, the No. 2 Justice official—the man in charge of the Mueller probe—builds a rapport" in The Wall Street Journal, which seems available without a subscription. I got in anyway.

"Trump has been the great doctor, stitching up our scars and healing us organically."

Said Washington Governor Jay Inslee, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, quoted in "Democratic Party’s liberal insurgency hits a wall in Midwest primaries" by David Weigel in WaPo.

Such an absurd and colorful quote. Stitching up scars?! If your wounds are already scars, it would be freaky to stitch them up. Inslee's metaphor sent me looking for images in that genre of tattoo that includes things like this:

Also, "organically." He's not only crediting Trump as the "great doctor" but putting him in what sounds like some alternative medicine category of doctor.

By the way, when did David Weigel start looking like Edgar Allan Poe?

"You are young yet, my friend... but the time will arrive when you will learn to judge for yourself of what is going on in the world, without trusting to the gossip of others. Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see" — a quote from my favorite Edgar Allan Poe story, "The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether."

"Troy Balderson may have claimed victory over Democrat Danny O’Connor (who's not conceding yet), but after out-spending Democrats five-to-one and winning by less than one percentage point, it's not much for Republicans to celebrate."

Axios sums it up nicely, I think. That's the closest I could get to a report that didn't annoyingly lean to one side or the other.
This race was more about Trump vs. Nancy Pelosi than Balderson, and his victory gives Republicans evidence that their tried-and-true playbook still works.

The president campaigned with Balderson just days before the primary and Republicans tied O’Connor to a number of ads tying him to Pelosi.

President Trump immediately claimed victory, tweeting: "When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better."

"You all know who these individuals are, they come into your homes every day, sleep with you every night. Grandparents, parents, siblings, significant others — you know who they are."

Said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, quoted in "Why Chicago PD can't get more residents to identify gun violence suspects" (USA Today).

"I believe karma is (vengeful), you feel me? One day you’re going to reap what you sow," said Romell Young, explaining why he wouldn't name the person who shot him in the leg. USA Today says that his "no-snitching outlook sheds light on the complicated dynamic" in Chicago, where, "[o]ver the weekend, at least 72 people were shot in the city, including 12 fatally, but police did not record a single arrest in any of the incidents."

"I'm not being totally facetious," said Donald Trump back in 2004...

... when he argued that he should be paid $18 million for each episode of "The Apprentice":
Hey, it makes sense: The actors on "Friends" got $1,500,000 an episode, but there were six of them sharing the work. If one guy has to carry the whole thing, that's 1.5 times 6: $9,000,000. But "Friends" was only a half hour show. "The Apprentice" is an hour. So, 9 times 2: That's $18,000,000. Trump said, "I'm not being totally facetious." 
Well, you know what Walt Disney (didn't) say: "If you can dream it, you can do it."

And I like this, from John Lennon:
I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?
And then there's my all-time favorite "dream" quote:
I'd like to become the first insect politician. I'd like to, but.... I'm an insect.... who dreamed he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake.

"This is the third year Louisiana crawfish have been seen in Berlin."

"City wildlife officer Derk Ehlert says when crawfish first appeared, the city released eels into the waterways, hoping they'd catch the crawfish and eat them. But then the next year, there were still 3,000 crawfish in the parks. This year there are 10 times as many and they seem to be spreading. At one point, hundreds of crawfish clambered out of the lake and ambled along the Tiergarten's shaded paths.... To the west of the Tiergarten, in the Spandau borough, Olaf Pelz cracked the shell of one of Hidde's red crawfish in his restaurant, called Fisch Frank... 'When we serve it here we make it with salad and bread and typical sauce,' he says. He puts dollops of mayonnaise and cocktail sauce on the plate, and tops the crawfish with a thin slice of lemon. Despite his efforts, customers are skeptical. Erika Klugert rises from her outdoor table to watch Pelz uncover the soft tail meat of the crawfish. 'This food requires too much work,' Klugert says."

From "For Berlin, Invasive Crustaceans Are A Tough Catch And A Tough Sell" (NPR).

I wanted to give this post a "crustaceans" tag, but I didn't want to create a new tag. So I started typing out the word in the place where I add my tags, and by the time I got to "crus-," there was only one tag the software was suggesting, and it wasn't "crustaceans," so that's it for the potential "crustaceans" tag.

I'm not creating a new tag, because I don't want to bother with adding it retroactively, searching for crustaceans in the 14-year archive. Sometimes I do create new tags and do that work. For example, I did it yesterday with Kathleen Turner. But that was a matter of doing a search for "Kathleen Turner."

"Crustaceans" would not be so easy. I'd have to look up which animals are crustaceans and search for them individually.

And I already have separate tags for some of them — lobsters (with 41 posts!) and crabs (with 17 posts!). But I don't have a "shrimp" tag. And I've mentioned shimp quite a few times.

Should I now create a "shrimp" tag and a "crawfish" tag? But today's post is only the second mention of crawfish in the history of the blog. The first was "Barack spent so much time by himself that it was like he was raised by wolves" (from 2010). Excerpt:
In the end the story of Barack Obama will make perfect sense. It will all fit together. The lonely man — raised by wolves — swept up into our American psychosis.
“Even though I’m president of the United States, my power is not limitless,” Obama, who has forced himself to ingest a load of gulf crab cakes, shrimp and crawfish tails, whinged to Grand Isle, La., residents on Friday. “So I can’t dive down there and plug the hole. I can’t suck it up with a straw.”
What's weird is that I included that 2009 photo of myself that I also reused 3 days ago. It's funny how things cycle around in blogging. Leaving tags along the way can help tie things together, but some of the tagging just leads to weirdness. So, when I was starting to write "crustaceans," and there was only one suggestion left when I got to "crus-," can you imagine what it was? It was "husbands crushing their wives' aspirations"! As noted above, that tag had only one post. It was: "Anthony Weiner says he 'crushed the aspirations' of Huma Abedin."

That was just last September. What was I thinking? That it was funny to do that as a one-time tag or that the tag would cause me to notice this phenomenon and amass evidence of it? If the latter, it couldn't work unless I remembered the tag, which I didn't. Maybe now I'll remember it, and the aspiration-crushing husbands will be noticed and collected as they clamber out of the lake and amble along the shaded paths.

ADDED: On rereading this post, the one tag I'd like to create is "straw." Obama "can’t suck it up with a straw," there's the recent straw-related environmentalism, and I know I've blogged about not liking how people look sucking on straws.

"Animal influencers" — People think "oh, you took a photo of your dog," but "there's so much work that goes into it...."

August 7, 2018

At the Late Night Cafe...

... you can talk about Ohio or anything.

"(1) This is absolutely the first stage in a coordinated plan to deplatform everyone on the right. It’s not really about Alex Jones at all."

"(2) Aside from its free-speech* implications, which are serious indeed, this also looks like an antitrust violation: Media companies, which compete with Jones for eyeballs, colluded to get other media companies to shut him down. Were I Jones, I’d file an antitrust suit. This is more than arguably conspiracy in restraint of trade (and possibly a conspiracy to deprive him of civil rights). (3) This is proof that we need to break up these big tech companies, which exercise way too much power via their near-monopolies. That they coordinate in the abuse of those monopolies only makes it clearer."

Writes Glenn Reynolds. Here's the footnote, which deals with something I've written about on this blog a lot over the years:
* Note that I say “free speech” and not “First Amendment.” The First Amendment only limits government, but “free speech” is — or at least until very recently was — a broader social value in favor of not shutting people up just because we don’t like their ideas or politics. As for the “private companies can do what they want,” well, that’s not the law, or the custom, and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s especially not true where the companies have, as these companies have, affirmatively represented to users and shareholders that they don’t discriminate based on viewpoints.
Here's a post from last March where I collected a lot of my older posts about free speech values extending beyond the rights we hold against government.

Glenn writes "Were I Jones, I’d file an antitrust suit." Is Jones working on that? He said (via MacDailyNews):
I’ve had a lot of top lawyers call me today and say, “Alex, we need to sue Apple. We need to sue all these groups that clearly are involved in cut and dry antitrust activities, working with other companies to delist you and block you from the marketplace of ideas, so, then when they demonize you, you don’t have a way to respond to them and they can destroy you and then, with that model, move on against everybody else.”

"The figure of Kendall there is like that school art class accident, when you glued the the picture and it stuck to the other paper before you could place it correctly, and now there's nothing you can do to fix it."

Comment that made me laugh a lot, at "The Kardashian-Jenner Sisters for the Calvin Klein Fall 2018 Ad Campaign" (at Tom & Lorenzo). I love the way once you've read the comment, there's no other way to see the photograph:

Trump's "gross handshake" as described by the actress Kathleen Turner.

"He goes to shake your hand and with his index finger kind of rubs the inside of your wrist. He’s trying to do some kind of seductive intimacy move. You pull your hand away and go yuck."

(From an interview in New York Magazine.)

AND: Not only do I believe he did this, I believe it's a metaphor for everything else he's doing to us.

ALSO: Here's a "seductive handshake" video that was viral in 2011:

MORE: For actual good information on how a man should shake hands with a woman, here's GQ:
What’s proper is for the woman to offer her hand first. If she does, then you shake it just as you’d shake a man’s. If this seems strange, maybe you’re shaking hands with men all wrong. You’re not supposed to squeeze... You just grip lightly, the way you’d pick up a baby...

As far as size difference, it is not necessary to totally envelop the other person’s hand. If your thumb is farther than halfway down the other person’s hand, you’re going too far. The whole point of a handshake is to convey trust, balance and equality, not to show dominance or submission.

"Rather than the deep substantive discussion that the moment demands, the treatment of Kavanaugh’s nomination has been dominated by aggrieved demands for civility..."

"... decency, and the earnest pinkie swears of the 1 percent. But the person who drove a stake in the heart of whatever remained of civility and decency is the same person who nominated Kavanaugh. This is Trump’s M.O.: to offer neither civility nor decency to anyone who isn’t wealthy and powerful, and then to demand it for himself and those with whom he chooses to associate. By these lights, tearing apart families seeking asylum is civil. Refusing service to Sarah Huckabee Sanders is not. Trashing the media and people of color is civil. Speaking ill of Judge Kavanaugh is not. So let’s be done with the civility of convenience, which we’ve learned only flows in a single direction and doesn’t apply if you are poor or brown or suffering.... Ask any law clerk at the Supreme Court to name the warmest, kindest justice on the bench and they will tell you Clarence Thomas is that guy. Every time. That’s not nothing, but it isn’t anything close to everything. Being lovely to people around you isn’t a proxy for judicial ideology and methodology. Let’s please respect Kavanaugh enough to stop talking about his mad carpooling skills... The state of Brett Kavanaugh’s niceness is not a constitutional question."

Writes Dahlia Lithwick in "No More Mr. Nice Justice/Brett Kavanaugh’s kindness and courtesy has no bearing on whether he should be confirmed to the Supreme Court" (Slate).

This gets my "civility bullshit" tag, and I agree with her about "the civility of convenience, which we’ve learned only flows in a single direction." But I laugh at her effort to put a one-way spin on that one-way flow. The larger idea of civility bullshit is that all sides use it when it serves their interest and — in the normal political discourse of the United States — it's only used to get your opponents to quiet down. It's not just used to shush the "poor or brown or suffering." It's used whenever it's useful, and no one is for civility as a neutral principle. It's bullshit. So, much as I agree with the first half of Lithwick's sentence — "So let’s be done with the civility of convenience, which we’ve learned only flows in a single direction" — I call bullshit on the second half — "and doesn’t apply if you are poor or brown or suffering."

"The Nation Magazine Betrays a Poet — and Itself/I was the magazine’s poetry editor for 35 years. Never once did we apologize for publishing a poem."

Writes Grace Shulman (in the NYT).
We followed a path blazed by Henry James, who in 1865 wrote a damning review of Walt Whitman’s “Drum Taps,” calling the great poem “arrant prose.” Mistaken, yes, but it was James’s view at the time. And it was never retracted....

Last month, the magazine published a poem by Anders Carlson-Wee. The poet is white. His poem, “How-To,” draws on black vernacular.

Following a vicious backlash against the poem on social media, the poetry editors, Stephanie Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, apologized for publishing it in the first place: “We made a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem ‘How-To.’ We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem,” they wrote in an apology longer than the actual poem. The poet apologized, too, saying, “I am sorry for the pain I caused.”...

As Katha Pollitt, a columnist for The Nation, put it, the magazine’s apology for Mr. Carlson-Wee’s work was “craven” and “looks like a letter from re-education camp.”...

It would not be proper for me to comment on the aesthetic merits of Mr. Carlson-Wee’s piece. That’s the job of the magazine’s current poetry editors. But going forward, I’d recommend they follow Henry James’s example. Just as he never apologized for his negative review of Whitman, they had zero reason to regret their decision.
You can read the poem and The Nation's apology here. Give The Nation some credit: It left the poem up. It just has this heavy-handed "Editor's note" introducing it. I'll reprint the whole thing:

"Shut Up and Dribble" — the name of a LeBron James documentary series is an insult that originated with Laura Ingraham.

Ingraham said it when — after the 2018 NBA Finals — James declined an invitation White House. The new series is a Showtime production, and "James will executive produce," according to Variety:
“If being a star athlete is inherently a political experience, ‘Shut Up and Dribble’ tells that complex and dramatic story from the past to the present and from the inside out,” said [Showtime president and CEO David Nevins]. “LeBron James is one of many competitors whose place in the spotlight has led not to silence but perspective, and he [and the other executive producers]... have given us an important, insightful docuseries that should bring their fans and fellow citizens to a higher level of discourse, rather than the dismissal satirized in the title.”
Reading between the lines, I see the criticism that the whole project is sort of fake and simply an occasion to take the old insult — "Shut Up and Dribble" — and lob it back into the political discourse right when we're already talking about LeBron James. But somewhere there's the idea of "a higher level of discourse," which sounds like a documentary no one would watch. And yet it's worth making an unwatched documentary if its existence is seen and talked about.

But that kind of talk is, ironically, the lower level of discourse. And that's okay*, because we're human beings having it out, and we're not shutting up. Civility bullshitters may say to a participant in the low-level discourse, shut up and dribble, shut up and leave the talking to boring polite people, shut up (don't tweet) and get back to the job we elected you to do, etc. etc. But the lower level discourse will go on, and it should. I support it. We are low, most of the time.

I have no idea what the Showtime series is actually supposed to be about. Athletes that get involved in politics and the people who try to shush them? But I'm not the one to have ideas about sports documentaries. I don't know if I've ever watched one, and documentaries are my favorite type of movie. I watch all sorts of documentaries, often just because they're documentaries that got great reviews, and yet I didn't go to see "Hoop Dreams" or "When We Were Kings." I'm reading lists of greatest sports documentaries, and I can't find one that I've seen. Ah, wait. If "Touching the Void" counts, I've seen (and loved) that. But that fits the category survival. A favorite topic. Ah. I've seen "Pumping Iron." Long ago.


* "And that's okay" is a trademark Trump expression, a wonderful component of the low-level discourse of today. What I love about it is that he'll recount attacks on himself and then use "and that's okay" as a transition to the next thought. To my ear, it says: Yeah, big deal, they're attacking me, what else is new, I get it, I can take it, it's actually rather lame, because here's what I've got on them....

August 6, 2018

Drinking alone, part 2.

1. Earlier today, I had "Deval Patrick, drinking alone" ("... I was actually quite drunk, by myself”). In the comments, The Godfather said, "Drinking alone is bad enough. Admitting to a reporter that you do so is weird." I said:
I don't see anything wrong with eating alone in a restaurant and ordering a drink (or even 2 or 3) with your dinner. But getting "quite drunk" alone (especially in public) is embarrassing.
2. Everyone seems to be talking about "Embracing päntsdrunk, the Finnish way of drinking alone in your underwear" (NBC):
To Americans, drinking alone can sound, well, lonely (and, as we’ll get to shortly, problematic), but Finns typically don’t tend to see it that way, in part because they’re quite comfortable with solitude.

"Finns, like most Scandinavian cultures, are very good at being by themselves," says Briana Volk, the half-Finnish co-owner of the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, a Scandinavian-influenced cocktail bar in Maine.... "Finns are fairly introverted and private,” she tells NBC News BETTER. “We generally don't say hello to one another on the street or on the bus and we're used to enduring long, tough winters — sometimes in total darkness. For these reasons, enjoying a drink or two by yourself is a natural thing."
3. "This week, a podcast hit me with its ridiculousness, and I made a video. Here encounter rats, crowds, brain loss, gin, and a soft spot for the fate of the introvert":

"Hours of commentary and analysis on TV and the web elaborated on the news. Trump admitted it!"

"Just in case anyone in the media missed the importance of it all, longtime Trump critics were even willing to write reporters' stories for them. Tweeted NeverTrump writer David Frum, 'Your lede: President Trump today confessed that his son, son-in-law, and campaign chair met in June 2016 with Russian agents in hope of obtaining Russian intelligence to sway the 2016 election.' The only problem with the news was that it was not news. The president had said precisely the same thing a year earlier. Trump had long ago, and in no uncertain terms, acknowledged that the proposed purpose of the meeting was for the Russians and Russian-Americans to offer dirt on Clinton...."

"Byron York: On a quiet Sunday, Trump Tower mania strikes" (in The Washington Examiner).

Live stream of bears catching salmon in Katmai National Park.

Via The New Yorker, "Bear Cam’s Captivating, Unedited Zen":
On a recent afternoon, there were around ten bears on the cam, using a variety of techniques to stalk the salmon. Some stood downstream of the falls, upright and staring straight down into the water for fish to grab, almost as a person might do. The most dramatic were those that perched on the rocks at the top of the cascade, grabbing at the airborne salmon attempting to leap over and continue upstream. It’s innately satisfying to see a bear grab hold of a salmon with its mouth and trundle off into the shallows with the fish still flapping in its jaws.
Not so "zen" for the salmon, but it's amazing how many salmon a bear lets go by and makes no attempt to catch.

That reminds me, are any of you watching the "Yellowstone Live" show on National Geographic TV? It's not much like the bear video above, because there's kind of an idea of covering the park like you'd cover the Olympics, jumping from venue to venue, with enthusiastic "sportscasters" telling you what to be excited about seeing. But Forbes has "Why You Should Watch This Live Show On Yellowstone National Park."

"... Jon Hamm stars in an infomercial for a new product called 'White Be Gone,' which helps fight the symptoms of Acute Viral Perceptive Albinitis known as White Thoughts."

New York Magazine sounds delighted with this HBO humor:

"That’s pretty crazy for this kind of restaurant and area that we live in, you wouldn’t really see that coming."

Said "an Upper West Side resident," in a CBS local news article that begins "Police say a man jumped out of a popular Upper West Side eatery’s walk-in freezer, grabbed a knife and started attacking employees, then died later at a hospital on Sunday morning."

Outside of the Upper West Side and in less trendy restaurants, men jumping out of freezers is more what you'd expect.

When correcting the NYT becomes truly ridiculous.

The Daily Caller saw fit to pick this nit:
The New York Times ran a shoddy graphic on Monday that included two extinct postal abbreviations for Maine and Texas.

“These Women Could Shatter Glass Ceilings in Governor’s Races,” a story about women running in governor’s races across the country, came packaged with a fancy-looking graphic right below the headline.

Unfortunately, whoever made the graphic clearly did not have knowledge of the correct abbreviations for states.

Maine was abbreviated as “Me.” and Texas was abbreviated as “Tex.”
And it wasn't even a nit!
UPDATE (2:45 PM): The New York Times’ style guide, contrary to AP style, abbreviates Maine as “Me.” and Texas as “Tex.”
I love finding mistakes in the NYT, but you have to be way more careful than that..

"[I]t can be hard to remember why ugliness matters because ugly paintings are now everywhere."

"Ugly paintings hang in every major museum, and ugly work has been accepted as part of the canon. But while ugly art crosses genres and time periods, it can still be useful to think of ugly art as falling into its own unified aesthetic category...  Ugliness is about discomfort. It makes us feel a little unsettled—not because we’re looking at a depiction of something unsettling, like a gory religious scene or a photograph of a war zone or a painting of a warted nose, but because we’re confronted with a sense of disorder.... There’s a sense of brazenness to unintentionally bad art—it embodies desire gone awry. And being able to enjoy ugly art isn’t simply about making fun of it. It’s also about being able to sit in discomfort and recognize mistakes. Ugly art demands a sense of looseness; it asks you to dip into a slippery state of mind where you can hold multiple beliefs simultaneously. The piece can be both ugly and unappealing, and it can also delight and appeal for those very reasons. It can pull you closer—you want to know why this ugly art was made, what it means, and what the artists were thinking. And if you let yourself get unbalanced enough, you might just find yourself a little bit in love."

From "Ugliness Is Underrated: In Defense of Ugly Paintings" by Katy Kelleher (The Paris Review).

The essay is about painting, not politics, but it would be easy to connect this to Trump. All that ugliness... and yet... if you let yourself get unbalanced enough, you might just find yourself a little bit in love.

Deval Patrick, drinking alone.

I've been thinking Deval Patrick after his appearance on "State of the Union" — which I blogged about yesterday — in which he teased a 2020 presidential run. I had some questions about him. I won't say what they were, but in my search, I ran across this 2013 article in Slate, which quotes Patrick, describing an evening (just after the capture of the Boston Marathon bombers):
"I got out to the Berkshires around supper time (Saturday, April 20). And I went for a quick swim, and I went to a local restaurant ... for supper by myself with a book. And I sat in the corner and Maggie, who runs the (restaurant), asked, 'Do you want to be near people or away from people?' I said, 'As far away as I can.' So she put in the corner, me and my book on my iPad, and she starts bringing me things. Some of them edible. In fact all the food was edible. She starts bringing me things to drink as a celebration. And by the end of the meal, I was actually quite drunk, by myself."