October 27, 2018

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about anything.

"blah blah blah... Donald Trump is a part of it... blah blah blah..."

I'm overhearing MSNBC right now.

I say out loud: "They just can't help themselves."

"In March, [Cesar Sayoc] cheered on Republican tax policies, saying, 'You don’t have pay taxes on bonus yea Trump Trump Trump.'"

"In June, he tweeted a birthday card to Mr. Trump and wrote: 'Happy Birthday to greatest gift from God President Trump Trump Trump. The greatest result President ever and economy for all American Soaring 2016-2024 Trump Trump Trump.' And on Twitter, he began to attack prominent liberals, especially those who had either criticized or been criticized by Mr. Trump. He called Lena Dunham... 'Hollywood slime'.... He became obsessed with David Hogg...  accusing him of being a 'fake fraud' and being paid by the billionaire George Soros... In recent months... [h]is posts took on a darker, more obsessive tone, often accompanied by threats of violence and gory images of bloody animal carcasses...."

From "Cesar Sayoc’s Path on Social Media: From Food Photos to Partisan Fury" (NYT).

"Bowers Said on Gab That He Did Not Vote for Donald Trump Because Trump Has Allowed Jewish People in His Administration & Among His Supporters."

From "Robert Bowers: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know" (Heavy).
Bowers was an active poster on an alternative version of Twitter, Gab, which is popular with white supremacists, white nationalists, members of alt-right groups and others who have been kicked off of mainstream social media sites....

In a post a few days before the shooting, Bowers wrote, “Trump is a globalist, not a nationalist. There is no #MAGA as long as there is a k*** infestation. #Qanon is here to get patriots that were against martial law in the 90’s to be ones begging for it now to drain muh swamp. But go ahead and keep saying you are #Winning.” That same day, Bowers wrote, “amazing amount of division on gab today. glas the overwhelming jew problem has been solved so we can now fight with each other.” In another message, Bowers wrote of Trump, “For the record, I did not vote for him nor have I owned, worn or even touched a maga hat.” Bowers is a registered voter but is unaffiliated....

"People talk all the time about what they dream of, and I decided to stop talking about it and just do it. I was looking for more meaning."

Said Carla Shiver, 38, who "divorced her husband, packed her Yorkie Pomeranian, Stanford, in the car and drove west" — quoted in "Dorm Living for Professionals Comes to San Francisco" (NYT):
The idea of sharing a bathroom was initially alarming, but the pictures of the house looked nice and Ms. Shiver wanted to meet new friends. For $2,200 a month, she now rents a Starcity room with a queen-size bed, a bedside table and a chair....

“I’ve run a household; I’ve done the bills; I’ve mowed the yard, and I don’t want to be responsible again,” Ms. Shiver said. “I want to paint and learn how to make ramen noodles. And when we run out of tinfoil, there’s just more tinfoil.”...
Boy, did it take me a long time to understand "And when we run out of tinfoil, there’s just more tinfoil." I had to ask for help. You see, in the dorm-style residence, all you have is a bedroom. There's a communal bathroom and there's also a communal kitchen, and the building has a staff that keeps up the supplies like toilet paper and "tinfoil."

I'm sorry but I come from a region of the United States where no one said "tin foil." We said "aluminum foil." When I see "tinfoil," I automatically think I'm dealing with the metaphor, the notion of the "tinfoil" hat, and I genuinely thought Ms. Shiver — love the name — meant that in San Francisco, you don't have to deal with reality — paying bills, mowing lawns — you get to shut yourself off to the troubles of reality and there's just more and more and more fantasy. San Francisco will give you all the "tinfoil" you need.
“I never thought I could live like this,” Ms. Shiver said. “But the more I live here, the freer I feel.”

She said she had not locked her bedroom door once since moving in, and most days when she gets home from work, a roommate has taken her dog into the shared living room. She said she hardly thought about the dorm-style bathroom setup, that there had never been a line for a shower, and that the building was like a family.
Okay. That is kind of nice.
The only thing people really need to do alone is sleep, [said another resident]. “What are the things you can do with other people? Eat food, drink wine, watch TV... You don’t need to do that in your own unit alone, so why pay for it?"
It does seem a little sad to say, "The only thing people really need to do alone is sleep," but I know what he means: The only place you need to be set aside as only to be used by you is your bed. You might not always use it alone. Do you really need your own bed in a system where you don't get your own toilet? I think the bedroom — 130 to 220 square feet — is specifically your own because you need a place to keep your stuff. Otherwise you'd need a locker. And, psychologically, you probably need to feel you have a personal retreat, a place to set some personal items about and make homey. That's what college students do with dorm rooms, often with roommates, which undercuts the idea that "The only thing people really need to do alone is sleep."

If you keep paring back on necessities, you might find it hard to come up with anything you really need to do alone. Think your own thoughts maybe, in that own-room you've got in your cranium.

Lots of stories in the NYT about women who leave their husband and relocate geographically, often with a pet as their sidekick. You're not really sleeping alone when you've got your Yorkie Pomeranian, Stanford. Stanford! When I get my Yorkie, I'm naming it NYU — Professor Nyu.

The Pittsburgh massacre.



President Trump struggles to speak about the murders:

It would be better simply to own an apron...

... but if you, cooking an egg, should happen to drip melted butter on your cashmere sweater, blot the excess with a clean cloth, sprinkle baking soda on the spot, wait 5 minutes, and vacuum it off. I did some premature mourning before Googling for a spot-cleaning tip — which totally worked — and I need to remember not all the cleaning tips but that the cleaning tips are all there on the internet, so don't waste time crying over spilt milk or butter. Go straight to Google.

And why do I cook in a cashmere sweater without even wearing an apron? I don't think I've worn an apron in more than a quarter century. I think I'll buy one. Here (in case you want one too). Do you wear an apron when you cook? I suspect that few people do, because my Amazon search was bringing up — along with the staunchly utilitarian sort of thing I wanted — aprons for "cosplay."

Obama comes to Wisconsin to rally for the Democratic Party candidate for governor and repeatedly mispronounces his name.

Reminds me of the time John Kerry came to Wisconsin — at least he came to Wisconsin — and talked about getting himself a "brat," as if he was coming to take one of our devilish children.

Here's Obama in Wisconsin yesterday:



I haven't watched much of that, but the Milwaukee State Journal says:
At several points, Obama mispronounced Evers' name, which rhymes with “weavers,” not “endeavors.”
It rhymes with "cleavers" and "beavers" and "fevers" and "grievers" not "severs" and "whoever's."

Maybe somebody told Obama it rhymes with "levers."

But, man, somebody is serving Obama badly. He comes all the way to the state, then gets the name of the candidate wrong.

If you want to compare crowd-drawing power: Obama got 3,500 in Milwaukee yesterday (with 600 in the overflow room). Milwaukee is the biggest city in Wisconsin. Trump did a rally on Wednesday in Mosinee, Wisconsin, a town I've never heard of, and I've lived in Wisconsin for 34 years. I'm having trouble finding the crowd-size number for that rally, but I am seeing this, in the Wausau Daily Herald:
Meanwhile, [Trump] mispronounced the name of his choice Senate candidate, referring to her as "Leah Vyook-mar" at one point in the night. He also said Evers' name incorrectly as if it rhymes with "levers," not "weavers."
As if it rhymes with "levers"?!!! So my theory may be correct. Advisers are giving exactly the wrong word to say "Evers" rhymes with.



AH!!! GET AWAY FROM THAT LEVER!!! YOU'LL BLOW US ALL TO ATOMS!!!!

"It honestly reminded me of something you would see off of a horror movie. It’s one of the most disturbing body cam videos I have seen in my career."

I wonder what else he's seen, this cop quoted in "Woman bites man’s penis during meth-fueled threesome: cops" (NY Post).

Cesar Sayoc was "a stripper with a ‘steroid problem.'"

As the NY Post puts it. I'm hanging out with the NY Post this morning, for some reason. I see a Cesar Sayoc story, so I will throw this one at you, because I can see from the comments yesterday that you really, really want to talk about this man, whose name I refrained even from writing yesterday. There are 3 quotes from my mother that I heard time and again when I was growing up and that spring to the front of my mind when I think about this news story: 1. "He's only trying to get attention," 2. "Ignore him," and 3. "You'll only encourage him."

It's absurd that a nobody can be the one the whole world talks about for days on end. It was so easy. Now, the upside is, he showed how to do it without hurting anyone (other than maybe scaring some people a bit). Maybe in the future, somebody who's thinking they should shoot up a school/movie theater/nightclub/outdoor concert will seek recognition in this all-scare-no-physical-pain way. But I still believe in my mother's ignore-him strategy.

Don't leverage losers.

And also, don't pleasure yourself over the manifestations of the mentally ill. It's not a show for your amusement — not a horror show and not a comedy. The fact that a mentally ill person can do damage and hurt real people is a reason to be vigilant and to find ways to identify and help or at least restrain those who are dangerously mentally ill. And let's not ourselves lean into mental illness! What is the sane and rational way to live in a world where our fellow beings operate from brains and brains malfunction (and are never really perfect, if there even is such a thing)? Going wild and gawking at The Cesar Sayoc Show for a week is surely not the answer.
In 2010, he posted a photo collage on Facebook showing himself shirtless and flexing his muscles.

“If birds didnt fly south for the winter and sun didnt rise in the east would tomorrow come.” he bizarrely commented on the photo.

"A Texas fraternity brother who was arrested on hazing charges fell to his death on campus in an apparent suicide..."

The NY Post reports on the death of Andrew Walker, 19, who was arrested after an incident at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house at Texas Christian University:
Walker and another fraternity brother, Christopher Barker, allegedly plied freshman pledges with vodka shots and forced them to eat expired guacamole. The alleged hazing resulted in one of the freshmen landing in the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Authorities said his blood alcohol level was determined to be so high that he could’ve died.
IN THE COMMENTS: Eric the Fruit Bat said...
So it turns out that four stories is enough to do it? Good to know.
I said:
I lived across from a one-story building that was the jump-off for a suicide. I don't want to suggest how the man did that in a way that he must have known would work, because I don't want to given anyone any ideas. Don't kill yourselves.

Here was a 19-year-old boy who imagined his life had been destroyed by one bad thing, and I could list some recent news stories that send the message that's how the world works now. Somehow, the celebrities never kill themselves. They just keep fighting, but the young don't have the perspective of success. Only hopelessness. Please hang on, children.

"It’s simple. I’m playing a retired boxer who is growing marijuana. It’s basically me acting like me, so people can get a look at what my life could be like in different scenarios."

Said Mike Tyson, quoted in "Mike Tyson shops TV show about life as marijuana grower" (NY Post).

It's not a reality show, but something like "Curb Your Enthusiasm," based on the lead character's real life, but scripted and acted. I know: Where's the line? Reality shows are scripted, blah blah blah. But Tyson offered "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as the model his show either used or wants to be thought of as using.

Here's another model:



Anyway, Tyson's marijuana farm is "a 40-acre plot of land about 60 miles southwest of Death Valley National Park." And:
Besides growing premium pot, Tyson Ranch will feature a cultivation school to teach growers the latest technology, an edible factory, a hydro-feed and supply store, plus cabins and “glamping” campgrounds for stoner tourists....

Tyson is a big proponent of weed’s health benefits and said 85 percent of pro athletes use some form of cannabis to relieve pain, inflammation and anxiety. “I smoke it all day, every day,” Tyson said.
What would you pay to glamp and smoke weed within the aura of Mike Tyson? Or — better question — would you sit and watch a TV show about the people who'd pay a lot of money to glamp and smoke weed in the actual presence of Mike Tyson?

Which reminds me... that new Lena Dunham-produced TV show "Camping" (about some glampers) is unwatchable, and I like Jennifer Garner (and I'm fine with her name). It looks promising in the trailer:



"The weird thing about life: You can feel fine but also know that you're a ticking time bomb."

Maybe I can't watch it because I'm not understanding it properly. Here's a New Republic piece, "Welcome to Camping, the Most Misunderstood Show on TV":
It’s premiered to some fairly harsh reviews, all of which entirely miss the point. Camping, in its original incarnation [a British TV show], was a vicious satire about a middle-aged harridan who micromanages a trip at a campground run by a deranged mama’s boy.... The jokes are blindingly cruel.... The miniature society of the camping trip totally breaks down. Repulsive sex ensues, along with diabolical mishaps, nudity, violence, and drug benders. The show isn’t so much dark as completely, disorientingly devoid of light.

Dunham and [her Girls co-producer Jenni] Konner have now remade the show for an American audience that is notoriously thinner-skinned than its British counterpart.... The central change is that Dunham and Konner have imbued each character with a sympathetic twist. Kathryn still micromanages—forcing everybody to go bird-watching, for example—but now she’s a woman stricken by grief over her hysterectomy, her emotional dysfunction sublimated into worries over her body (echoing Dunham’s own medical woes). The brainless and nasty alcoholic of the British Camping has become a sweet, struggling guy who is just trying to find his way. Miguel the shagger is now a smart doctor finding a new light in his life, instead of a pathetic young Englishman who got hair plugs and speaks with a slight American accent....
Understanding that doesn't make me more able to watch the American version. It just makes me sad about how dull America has become in The Era of That's Not Funny.

"This was an extremely long game, 18 innings. A lot of pitchers were used. Every position player was used. Injuries on both sides. Their guys are banged up, our guys are banged up."

"It's one of those things when you're able to come out on top from a game like this, you have to feel it gives you a little momentum going to the next one."

Said Max Muncy, who hit the home run that ended the 18-inning World Series game last night. It was the longest post-season game in baseball history. Now, the series is 2-1 and not 3-0, a big deal, considering that "No team has ever come back from a 3-0 hole in a World Series."

In other baseball news, the Wall Street Journal has a no-pay-wall article, "Our Insane Ideas to Save Baseball/Baseball has problems. There aren’t enough hits. There are too many pitchers. The games take too long. So we bullpenned our solutions. Are you ready for Strike Four?" Too long, indeed. And that article was published before the 18-inning World Series game.

And the NYT has a big article on the checked swing: "Baseball Has a Rorschach Test: The Checked Swing/Did the batter hold up in time? Did he actually swing and miss? It depends on your point of view. Well, actually it depends on the umpire’s point of view."
The Major League Baseball rule book does address swings, although the guidance it offers is limited. In the “Definitions and Terms” section, it states that a strike occurs when the pitch “is struck at by the batter and is missed.” But it does not say how far the bat must go to be called a swing....

A.J. Hinch, the manager of the Houston Astros, said... "It’s break the wrist... It’s break the plane of the plate with the bat. Did the bat head come forward?’’

[Boston’s designated hitter, J.D. Martinez], in turn, offered his own interpretation. “Did the bat break the plane of the plate?’’ he said. “Was there intent to hit the ball? To me, if the head of the bat gets in front of the wrists, then you swung."

“You have to determine whether he offered at the pitch,’’ [said veteran umpire Joe West], in reference to the batter. “Or did he actually hold the bat up.”

West’s use of the word “offer” was hardly arbitrary. It comes directly from Rule 5.01(c), which states: “The pitcher shall deliver the pitch to the batter who may elect to strike the ball, or who may not offer at it, as he chooses.’’
So the rule makes it subjective and requires inquiry into the mind of the batter. That's how West explains it: "That’s why it’s so difficult. It’s subjective. Each swing is different, each checked swing is different." It's not a specific thing done by the bat but what the batter thought he was doing. Can you change your mind in the process and revoke the offer? It makes me want to think of contract law, but if the swinging is offering, you could revoke the offer up until there's an acceptance, but what's the acceptance — something the ball is doing? It seems more like the pitch is the offer and the batter is the one in a position to accept, but that's not how the baseball rule is written, with that "offer at" language.

"Offer at" feels alien to me, a native speaker of English. The OED defines it as "To make an attempt at or upon; to aim at" and deems it obsolete. I have read it at least once, since I've read "Bleak House," — Dickens, 1853 — which contains the line, "There ain't no danger, gentlefolks..she'd [sc. a cat] never offer at the birds when I was here, unless I told her to it." That sounds like dialect, paired with that "told her to it."

IN THE COMMENTS: policraticus said:
One of my great peeves is the inability of many people today to accept a judgement, even if there is some reason to doubt it, and move on. Perfect Justice does not, indeed cannot exist given our human limitations and fallibility. Part of what made baseball a great sport is that it could live with a certain amount of uncertainty regarding the rules. Bad calls were part of the game. Complaining or arguing calls was also part of the game. Having a brouhaha at home plate and getting tossed for calling the ump a cocksucker was part of the game. Baseball is, perhaps, one of the last great organic expressions of sport. The more we try to shoehorn this ancient accretion of traditions and emotions into a modern digital framework, the less appealing the game will become.

Let baseball be baseball. An 18 inning game is not a bug, it is a feature.

October 26, 2018

At the Friday Night Café...

... you can talk about anything you like.

"Federal authorities made an arrest on Friday in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken critics of President Trump..."

"... a significant breakthrough in a case that has gripped the country in the days leading up to the midterm elections. It was not immediately clear who had been taken into custody, but a man was arrested in Florida, just north of Miami, three law-enforcement officials said. One of them said the man was in his 50s. Florida news organizations reported that the authorities had surrounded a white van with Trump stickers on it."

The NYT reports.

ADDED: The WaPo article does not mention the Trump stickers on the van — "Man in Florida arrested in connection with mail bombs sent to public figures." Key sentence: "fter news of the arrest broke, FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel could be seen in news footage draping a blue tarp over a van in a South Florida parking lot."

AND: Can you see the Trump stickers?

MORE: Info on a specific person at various sources, including Heavy. It says he's a Republican and "a promoter, booking agent and choreographer of a male stripping show as well as burlesque shows in the Miami-area."

"Dear Democrats... Stop fretting and second-guessing... The great blues artist Muddy Waters put it best: 'You can't spend what you ain't got. You can't lose what you ain't never had.'"

Writes Eugene Robinson in "Democrats Have Nothing to Lose -- but a Majority (Or Two) to Win" (Real Clear Politics).

The appropriation of Muddy Waters for Democratic Party politics is irksome. That song came out in 1964. Lyrics here. Waters sang about losing "a pretty little girl," his "money in the bank," and his "sweet little home," then consoles himself with the line "You can't lose what you ain't never had."



When I heard the first verse, about the girl, I thought he was admitting that he never "had" the girl and he was looking at the bright side: At least he didn't lose her. But when I got to the money and home verses, it's clear that he had those things, so he must have had and lost the girl too, and the meaning of "You can't lose what you ain't never had" must be something like: 1. At least I once had these things (which can be reworded "Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all" or, more mundanely, It's better to be a has-been than a never-was), or 2. What I thought was good wasn't even good, because it only set me up to feel the pain of losing (basically, the opposite of #1).

In Robinson's use of the song, the man, with his elemental personal needs (love, money, and shelter), is replaced by a conglomerate, a party, and its drive for political power. The man lost what he had and is comparing his predicament to that of a person who never had anything. But in Robinson's deployment of the line, the political party ought to feel motivated by the idea that it has nothing now and therefore has nothing to lose. He says, "Democrats, who have so little to defend, can and should play offense with abandon."

Now, it seems less Muddy Waters and more football. The best defense is a good offense. Ah, there's a Wikipedia article on the subject. And it's not as football-based as I'd thought:
George Washington wrote in 1799: "…make them believe, that offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defence".

Mao Zedong opined that "the only real defense is active defense", meaning defense for the purpose of counter-attacking and taking the offensive. Often success rests on destroying the enemy's ability to attack. This principle is paralleled in the writings of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu.

Some martial arts emphasise attack over defense. Wing chun, for example, is a style of kung fu which uses the maxim: "The hand which strikes also blocks."

During World War I, Germany planned to attack France so as to quickly knock it out of the war, thereby reducing the Entente's numerical superiority and to free up German troops to head east and defeat Russia.
That has so little to do with what Muddy Waters was singing the blues about, but is it what Robinson is trying to explain? The column is padded out with the usual things — Trump is awful and the Democrats need to get out the vote. Then Robinson offers the advice "Don't be dour and doubtful, Democrats. Be joyous and determined," which seems more "Happy Days Are Here Again" than Muddy Waters singing the blues.

In his penultimate sentence, Robinson tries to drag the Waters line in again: "Stop worrying about losing what you 'ain't got' and focus on winning elections district by district, state by state." But in the song it's not "ain't got" — despite those quotes — it's "ain't never had." That it's "ain't never had"  doesn't seem to matter to Robinson. I suppose that's because he's a politics guy, and the meaning of words and the value of art don't count for much.

Robinson has one more sentence: "Don't let Republicans bluff you into folding. You're playing a very good hand." Now, the metaphor is poker, and now, the Democrats have got something, "a very good hand." How utterly tedious.

But I presume it's tedious for Robinson too. He's been writing in newspapers for 42 years. I looked up his Wikipedia page. He began his professional career writing about the Patty Hearst trial.

Jerry Seinfeld said, "I was watching some W.C. Fields with a friend the other day. We could not believe the timing, the material, the performances. Perfect."

"We wouldn’t change a thing. That’s how eternal comedy is. What political material from 15, 20 years ago do you want to hear? None of it, really. The content of it isn’t, largely, comedic. It’s rhetoric."

From "Jerry Seinfeld on Louis C.K., Roseanne and Tense Times in Comedy" (NYT).

As for Louis C.K.:
We know the routine: the person does something wrong. The person’s humiliated. They’re exiled. They suffer, we want them to suffer. We love the tumble, we love the crash and bang of the fall. And then we love the crawl-back. The grovel. Are you going to grovel? How long are you going to grovel? Are you going to cry? Are you going to Jimmy Swaggart? And people, I think, figured they had that coming with Louie — he owes us that. We, the court of public opinion, decided if he’s going to come back, he’d better show a lot of pain. 
We love the crawl-back. That's very Jerry. He goes on to observe that Louis C.K., by just going to comedy clubs again and doing his act, denied people the satisfaction of the crawl back.

About Roseanne:
I would say about Roseanne, I never saw anything that bad happen from a finger-tap on a screen. A whole career: gone. That’s an aspect of this unease we feel, that you just wake up — “Oh, by the way, the Lincoln Memorial’s gone.” “What?” “Yeah, they took it down. They found out Lincoln was fooling around and they took it down.” “Oh, my God. All right, I guess I have to adjust to that. I really liked the Lincoln Memorial.”
More generally:
[H]umans — we have an abusive relationship with each other. We hate other people. We despise them. And then we see somebody play a beautiful piano concerto and we go, “Oh, people are the best.” They get us right back for more abuse...

"Writing in your journal is the only way to find out what you should be writing about."

Writes Hayley Phelan in "What’s All This About Journaling?/One of the more effective acts of self-care is also, happily, one of the cheapest" (NYT).

Drawing on "The Artist’s Way," by Julia Cameron, Phelan adopts the practice of doing "'three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-conscious,' done as soon as one wakes... 'In morning pages, we do not set a topic. It is as though we have A.D.D.: jumping from topic to topic, gathering insights and directions from many quarters.... Jungians tell us we have about a 45-minute window before our ego’s defenses are in place in the morning... Writing promptly upon awakening, we utilize the authenticity available to us in that time frame."

Phelan says, she'd "felt stuck":
I was nearing 30... unhappily married and dissatisfied with my career. Worst of all, I had no idea what would, theoretically, make me happy. I didn’t know what I wanted.

Then journaling provided me with an important outlet for the debilitating anxiety that had come to paralyze me at odd hours each day... And... today, as I write this, just two years later, my life has completely changed: I split from my partner of 10 years; began a new, fulfilling relationship; enrolled in an M.F.A. program; rekindled my freelance writing career; and am planning a move to Los Angeles....

[Journaling] put me in contact with my very own spiritual guide. Certainly, I got to know the dusty corners of my brain better, and, when I did, my true desires became harder to ignore....

It's funny...

"Since my ex-husband had divorced me the previous year, I had been reconsidering what I thought I knew about relationships."

"And my previous belief in a relationship of equals seemed painfully naïve.... After my fantasy of a partnership of equals had failed to materialize, I seemed to want to replace it with a fantasy of paternalistic protection.... I had interrogated the last man I dated on his Democratic bona fides before agreeing to meet for coffee. But with my new guy, I found myself quietly acquiescing as he told me his voting history shouldn’t matter.... He paid when we ate out; I never even offered, in part because I knew doing so would displease him, but also because I relished feeling cared for. He was fiscally responsible, generous and trustworthy.... At the same time, I found myself becoming guarded around my new guy, evading his questions and hiding things I thought he wouldn’t like. When he asked if I ever went to church, I said no — but failed to mention I was Jewish. I never lied about my career, though I didn’t tell him the whole truth either. He knew I was an actuary but not that I was a partner at the firm.... He was smart enough, first of all, to see through my deceptions: the restraint during chess and the lack of candor about my career.... When I next saw him, he was sullen and withdrawn. I mentioned my cabinetry problems, as if to say, 'See, I don’t earn more than you. I can’t even afford a normal kitchen.' It was a last-ditch effort to turn myself into the person I thought he wanted and also the person I wanted to be: a woman who needed to be protected."

From "How I Fell for an ‘I’m the Man’ Man/Stung by divorce, a high-earning professional tries to recast herself in the dating world as a woman in need of male protection" a NYT "Modern Love" column by Susan Forray, an actuary who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the end, the man breaks it off with her and she uses her own money to get her cabinets done.

No comments section at the NYT on this one.

October 25, 2018

At the Freedom Café...

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... you can say what you like.

"Now, I'm not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I'm simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist."


So far...


"Megyn Kelly is in big trouble with NBC after defending blackface on her Today hour..."

"'They’re contacting the staff and reassigning everyone today. Everyone’s being told that they still have a home here, but it won’t be on Megyn’s show,' one source said. 'They haven’t made an official announcement about the show, but everyone knows what it means when they’re being moved somewhere else. The show is clearly over.'"

New York Magazine. Here's the clip of Kelly doing what she did, whatever her thinking was here:

The best thing I can think of to say for her is that TV for some stupid reason has to churn out Halloween stories every year, and taking this dumb position might have seemed like a way to get a lively conversation going on the hopelessly stale topic of what to wear on Halloween. At one point, Kelly talks about the general offensiveness of Halloween costumes such as the one where you've got the illusion of an axe embedded in your cranium — what's that, the Leon Trotsky costume? — and she has no idea that she's already embedded the metaphorical axe in her own head.



That's a image from a play I once saw — "Variations on the Death of Trotsky."
The play is divided into eight scenes... each depicting a differing final moment of Trotsky's life and making satirical allusions to soap opera conventions... [T]he play calls for Trotsky to die at the end of each scene, and then continues on (after the ring of a bell) from near where the last scene left off...  Trotsky is depicted throughout the show with a mountain-climber's ax sticking comically out of his skull... Though this is apparent to the audience from the very beginning, Trotsky himself does not realize that the ax is there....
That's what old Megyn had me thinking about.

There was blood — blood coming out of her wherever.

"A French extreme free climber who calls himself Spider-Man... climbed Heron Tower, the tallest building in London City’s square mile, on Thursday afternoon."

The NYT reports. The man's real name is Alain Robert, and he is 56 years old. The building is more than 750 feet tall, and Robert "didn’t even know about" it until "I saw some pictures when I came to London two days ago."

"Police were on the lookout for a suspect last seen wearing tight leather pants, who might have disguised his appearance by getting a level 8 spray tan. Alias: Holiday Armadillo."

"His getaway from the police failed because he was stuck in second gear. The police approached him with caution because he was known to be trained in karate and unagi, the state of total awareness. However, he did not resist arrest and repeatedly assured the police he was 'fine.' He made a failed attempt at getting off easy by sweet-talking an 'Officer Pretty.' At trial, his defense was that it was a case of mistaken identity and the real thief was someone named Russ. After being found guilty, he asked the judge for leniency in his sentence because he had learned his lesson: that he needs to find the line between stealing and what store owes him, adding: 'Beer? No no no!' The judge agreed and sentenced him to drink a glass of fat."

Riffs my son John on a Daily Beast article, "British Police Hunt Suspect Who ‘Looks Like Ross From Friends.'"

Here's the surveillance shot the nefarious lookalike:



The real Ross, David Schwimmer, responds:



And here's the box set of the complete "Friends" series, which John sent me a while back and which I've watched enough of to get 30% of the jokes in John's riff.

ADDED: The glass of fat:

"President Trump is preparing to order at least 800 United States Army troops to help secure the southern border..."

"... a Defense Department official said on Thursday, intensifying efforts to block immigrants from entering the United States amid an election-season push by the president to stoke fears of what he has called an 'onslaught' of migrants."

The NYT reports.

Are we going to treat them — I'm assuming they'll actually reach our border — as invaders, to be repelled like soldiers?
“I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency,” the president said on Twitter on Thursday. “They will be stopped!”
But:
They will include engineers to help with the construction of tents and fencing, doctors for medical support, and potentially some personnel to operate drones along the border, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment about the deployment before it is finalized.
That makes it sound as though we will be taking them in and housing them.

Or is that the whole point, ambiguity? If it's all visuals for shaping the mind of the midterm electorate, it's all in the future. They're not going to get here before the elections, so this new announcement is just a distant mountain range on our misty mental landscape.

"Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher... spent decades deconstructing the ways that scientists claim their authority. Can his ideas help them regain that authority today?"

An article in the NYT Magazine.

If you're guessing Latour's motivation to undermine his own decades-old project, I'm betting you'll guess right.
In a series of controversial books in the 1970s and 1980s, he argued that scientific facts should... be seen as a product of scientific inquiry. Facts, Latour said, were “networked”; they stood or fell not on the strength of their inherent veracity but on the strength of the institutions and practices that produced them and made them intelligible. If this network broke down, the facts would go with them....

The mid-1990s were the years of the so-called science wars, a series of heated public debates between “realists,” who held that facts were objective and free-standing, and “social constructionists,” like Latour....

The past decade has seen a precipitous rise not just in anti-scientific thinking — last year, only 37 percent of conservative Republicans believed in the occurrence of global warming, down from 50 percent in 2008 — but in all manner of reactionary obscurantism, from online conspiracy theories to the much-discussed death of expertise. The election of Donald Trump, a president who invents the facts to suit his mood and goes after the credibility of anyone who contradicts him, would seem to represent the culmination of this epistemic rot.....

“I think we were so happy to develop all this critique because we were so sure of the authority of science,” Latour reflected this spring. “And that the authority of science would be shared because there was a common world.... Now we have people who no longer share the idea that there is a common world. And that of course changes everything.”

"Segway Jeremy" — a central character in the 2011 Wisconsin protests — has been arrested for trying to buy a lethal dose of radioactive material.

Fox 6 Now reports:
The FBI has arrested a former Congressional candidate. Federal agents say Jeremy Ryan was attempting to get his hands on a lethal dose of radioactive material. You may recall that Ryan, a Town of Madison man, made a name for himself as an Act 10 protester and recently ran for Congress against Paul Ryan.

Court documents allege that in March and October 2018, Ryan attempted to purchase a lethal dose of a radioactive substance via the internet to kill an unnamed individual. On Oct. 24, Ryan was arrested and taken into custody without incident.

"Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell you the truth."



I found that via "The Artist Who Is Selling Out Shows Just Two Years After He Started Painting/Farshad Farzankia left his day job in 2016. Now, he’s putting the finishing touches on his first major U.S. solo show, which will open later this month" (NYT):
Farzankia’s paintings are instantly appealing: Simple, figurative compositions of androgynous bodies, birds, plant life and obscure symbols, rendered in bright pop palettes, they are well suited to the age of Instagram. Less apparent is that he’s only been making this work for two years. In 2016, Farzankia, now 38, quit his day job as an art director at an advertising agency in order to turn his attention to painting, a hobby he had picked up some six months earlier, after years of idly drawing and sketching in his spare time. Since then, he has become one of Scandinavia’s most buzzed-about emerging artists. When, last December, the Los Angeles-based gallerist Richard Heller presented a selection of Farzankia’s work at Art Basel Miami’s Untitled fair, it sold out instantly. Now, he is preparing for his first major U.S. solo show, at Heller’s gallery in Santa Monica, opening on Oct. 27.
There's a link to his Instagram page. I just happened to click on one that had that Bob Dylan quote in the caption — "Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'. I just might tell you the truth" — which put it over the line of bloggability for me.

And you might ask, Althouse, are you not jealous?

Hell, yeah.

The Dylan song — from the first Dylan album I ever bought, which was the newest Dylan album back when I started buying Dylan albums — is "Outlaw Blues."
Ain’t gonna hang no picture
Ain’t gonna hang no picture frame
Ain’t gonna hang no picture
Ain’t gonna hang no picture frame
Well, I might look like Robert Ford
But I feel just like a Jesse James
For half a century, I've been listening to that song and hearing "I might look like Robert Frost." No one cares about Robert Frost anymore, but he killed at the Kennedy inauguration:



I loved the absurdity of Dylan singing that he might look like Robert Frost, Dylan being quite young in those days. But the absurdity was all in my head. The line is "I might look like Robert Ford." Here's Robert Ford:



Robert Ford, better known as the man who killed Jesse James. The contrast was between looking like the cowardly killer and feeling like the daring outlaw he killed. All these years I thought Dylan was saying that he felt like an outlaw but he looked like the ancient poet, and now Dylan is an ancient poet, and I'm old too, finally reading a song I've misheard for 50-some years, and not hanging no pictures of my own anywhere, but blogging about a painter who's selling all his pictures, and after only 2 years of painting, because he's got Instagram. He's got Instagram, and I've got Blogger, and I'm going blind, like Robert Frost in that Inauguration clip.
I got my dark sunglasses
I got for good luck my black tooth
I got my dark sunglasses
I’m carryin’ for good luck my black tooth
Don’t ask me nothin’ about nothin’
I just might tell you the truth

An image bigger than The Caravan fills the pre-midterm American mind: BOMBS!!



The main link goes to a Reuters article, "Obama, Clinton among targets of suspected bombs ahead of U.S. election":
At least eight suspicious parcels were intercepted before reaching any intended recipients, including Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and prominent Democratic Party donor George Soros. Two packages were sent to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the FBI said. Investigators were trying to track down another suspicious parcel they believe was addressed to Obama's vice president, Joe Biden, a federal official told Reuters late on Wednesday.

None of the eight packages detonated, and nobody was hurt. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Does "None of the eight packages detonated" mean that the packages looked suspicious but were not actually bombs or that they were indeed bombs but the bombs didn't blow up? I see that what was sent to Soros was "detonated by police," which sounds like there was no test to determine whether the device itself would detonate, and that the evidence was destroyed, ostensibly for safety. Does that mean we don't and will never know if these things were real bombs?
But news of the bomb threats heightened tension in a nation deeply polarized ahead of elections on Nov. 6.... Some leading Democrats were quick to accuse Trump himself of stoking the potential for political violence by frequently engaging in hyper-partisan, vitriolic rhetoric....  All of the targets are frequently maligned by right-wing critics....
So the packages are something that work as a political springboard. If the question is who benefits?, the answer is the Democrats. As the post title indicates, this is great distraction. I remember when anthrax in the mail was able to distract us from jet airplanes flying into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon back in 2001. America is very sensitive to the intrusion that is the mail.
At an event in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, [former CIA Director John Brennan , one of the addressees of the packages] faulted Trump for frequent inflammatory rhetoric, saying the president "too often has helped incite some of these feelings of anger, if not violence, when he points to acts of violence. He should not be beating the tom-toms of anger and animosity and war," said the former CIA chief, whose security clearance was revoked by Trump after he criticized the president's summit earlier this year with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Tom-toms of anger"? Can I distract you with a discussion of political correctness? To my ear, "tom-toms of anger" sounds like you're talking about something like this.

IN THE COMMENTS: Tommy Duncan quotes the NYT article, "Pipe Bombs Sent to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and CNN Offices":
None of the devices harmed anyone, and it was not immediately clear whether any of them could have. One law enforcement official said investigators were examining the possibility that they were hoax devices that were constructed to look like bombs but would not have exploded.
Why does the headline call them "bombs" if they might be fake bombs?

Let's take a closer look at Wikipedia's "threat" to delete its article on the anti-abortion film "Gosnell."

I'm seeing this Instapundit post, put up last night at 2:24 a.m, "YET MORE LIBERAL TOLERANCE: Now Wikipedia Is Threatening ‘Gosnell’ Film." Key word: "threatening." It links to a Hollywood in Toto article, "NOW WIKIPEDIA IS THREATENING ‘GOSNELL’ FILM/Kickstarter. NPR. Facebook. Movie Critics. Here's the latest group to resist the story Hollywood wouldn't touch."

You have to get halfway into that article to find anything about Wikipedia. Then you see, "Now, another Internet behemoth is threatening to kick 'Gosnell' off the web. This week site users looking for the film’s official Wikipedia page found this." Displayed is a tiny screenshot, apparently from Wikipedia and showing the top of the article "Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer" a banner that says "This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia's deletion policy."

One of the film's producers, Phelim McAleer, is quoted saying, "This is part of the left’s ongoing attempt to suppress and shutdown the Gosnell movie. Not only do they want stop people finding out about it they want to deny its very existence.... hey just don’t want people to know the truth about this case … they don’t want people to know the truth about abortion... They are pathetic. The mainstream media refuses to review a film that launches in 600 theaters and crashes into the top 10 of movies in the US... This is Orwellian and won’t be allowed to stand."

McAleer is very accusatory, so Hollywood in Toto ought to have a response from someone at Wikipedia. What is the "Wikipedia's deletion policy" and what does it take to raise a banner saying the article is "being considered for deletion"? That sounds very transparent and neutral. What proof does McAleer have that Wikipedia is doing something other than its normal approach to preventing its site from getting littered with efforts to promote everybody in the world's little film project, every film-length commercial for a political candidate or issue, every bit of corporate PR that comes in film form? What does it take to begin consideration for deletion, and isn't Wikipedia running the entire process openly and subject to criticism and mass participation? Not much of a way to participate in a vast left-wing conspiracy.

At the bottom of the Hollywood in Toto article, there's a nevermind:
UPDATE: A flurry of pro-free speech Wikipedia commentators rallied on the page’s behalf. It’s off the ‘deletion’ threat at the moment.
I don't know when that was published, but the Instapundit item isn't updated. Here's Wikipedia's "archived debate of the proposed deletion," so you can see the uneditable discussion of the policy, which resulted in what Wikipedia terms a "speedy keep."

I will read the debate. It begins with a proposal for deletion by XOR'easter, and you can click through to a page with an immense amount of information about this person and the deletion debates he/she has participated in. There's a long list of links, so you can see the many topics that this person works on, and it's mostly math and science.

After XOR'easter's "Delete" entry, there are about a dozen entries in the debate, and every single one of them says "Keep." The conclusion is to reject the challenge, with a link to the Wikipedia policy on "Notability (films)."

The challenge began at 18:32, 22 October 2018 and the "speedy keep" result happened 14:18, 23 October 2018. The Instapundit post happened 2:24, 25 October 2018, more than 30 hours later.

This is the one time I've stopped to take a closer look at the complaints about suppressing the "Gosnell" film, and I am unlikely to put time into this again, because this was a case of crying wolf. Fake news. Conservative bubble. Ridiculous hysteria.

October 24, 2018

At the Wednesday Cafe...

... tell me your Wednesday thoughts.

"Myers-Briggs was well-positioned, in the mid-'70s, to ride the wave of 'self-actualization,' the trend that brought us a dizzying array of personal growth programs and gurus."

"The new publisher offered the test not just to schools and corporations but to consumers as a 'self-test'—individuals could buy the assessment and grade it themselves. This was a new market for such tests, which previously had only been sold to organizations, with the answer sheets sent back to the publisher for grading. The DIY option was perfect for the 'me' decade. People who felt unfulfilled could send off for a little green booklet with a self-scoring guide. Like reading a horoscope or doing a love quiz in Cosmopolitan, bored suburbanites could fill out the Myers-Briggs chart during the commercial breaks of Kojak and discover their 'true type.' By 1979, more than a million Myers-Briggs answer sheets had been sold. The story of the Myers-Briggs follows the history of personality testing in the 20th century. Earlier self-improvement ideas, like those of Dale Carnegie, focused on doing the right thing. After the 1960s, the focus shifted to being the right thing. Neurolinguistic programming and self-hypnosis suggested that we could change ourselves. Myers-Briggs gave a softer option: It would help us know ourselves, uncritically. But the knowledge is a mirage. Reading through the questions is like looking at a script for a cold reading. Every answer could apply to everyone to some degree, possibly changing depending on mood."

From "Myers-Briggs Is Bunk/Why doesn't that stop people from taking the enduringly popular personality test?" (Reason)(reviewing the new book "The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing").

"The 'trauma' inflicted by the 2016 election, while incredibly distressing, would not meet Criterion A for a diagnosis of PTSD (must have suffered or witnessed a trauma that was life threatening)."

"And so while these researchers (or article writer) might prefer to compare the subsequent emotional fallout to 'PTSD,' (and while the term PTSD is getting thrown around for everything under the sun these days) they undermine the argument and their intention by using a term that carries such a specific meaning. As for whether or not people are too sensitive these days, why don't you ask the NY Times, who can't seem to get enough ink writing articles about poor misunderstood economically anxious trump voters."

That's the top-rated comment on "A quarter of college students could develop PTSD because of the 2016 election, a new study suggests" (WaPo).

"It is hard to admit we are sexist. I, for instance, would like to think that I possess genuine feminist bona fides..."

"... but who am I kidding? I am a failed and broken feminist. More pointedly, I am sexist. There are times when I fear for the 'loss' of my own 'entitlement' as a male. Toxic masculinity takes many forms. All forms continue to hurt and to violate women."

All toxic forms hurt. This is from a NYT op-ed by philosophy professor, George Yancy. A philosophy professor should not write such a blatant tautology. If he's not willing to say all forms of masculinity hurt and violate women, he shouldn't say "all forms." All he's saying is toxin is toxic.

Does Yancy define the part of masculinity that is toxic? He gives an example: He wanted the woman he married to take on his last name:
While this was not sexual assault, my insistence was a violation of her independence. I had inherited a subtle, yet still violent, form of toxic masculinity. 
Also toxic: The feeling that he "should be thanked when I clean the house, cook, sacrifice my time."
These are deep and troubling expectations that are shaped by male privilege, male power and toxic masculinity.
He sounds a little zombie-ized, doesn't he? Why can't everybody who lives in a house thank anybody who puts work into cleaning it? And doesn't everyone who cooks a meal expect those who eat it to say thanks? What's "deep and troubling"?
If you are a woman reading this, I have failed you. 
Well, get your ass over here, Yancy, and cook me dinner. I didn't know this was going to be so personal.
Through my silence and an uninterrogated collective misogyny, I have failed you. I have helped and continue to help perpetuate sexism. I know about how we hold onto forms of power that dehumanize you only to elevate our sense of masculinity. I recognize my silence as an act of violence. For this, I sincerely apologize.
Now, I think you're making fun of me. Oh, but wait... there's more! I see it ahead....
I speak as an insider. I know about what so many of us men think about women — the language we use, the sense of power that we garner through our sexual exploits, our catcalling and threatening, our sexually objectifying gazes, our dehumanizing and despicable sexual gestures and our pornographic imaginations.
Garner!

There's much more to this essay, but I stop at "garner." It's just a special privilege of mine. Althouse privilege.

I'll just say, overall, Yancy has the tone of bowing down and confessing to God and pleading for absolution. But women are not God. We're human beings too. Wake me up when you get there. And make me some coffee.

"Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson... 6’9” and currently the strongest man in the world... got married this weekend in his native Iceland to a 5’2” Canadian, body-building woman named Kelsey Morgan Henson."

New York Magazine reports, with lots of photos from his Instagram account. I'll just pick one:

"An explosive device was found on Wednesday morning by a technician who screens mail for the office of Hillary Clinton..."

"... a law enforcement official said. A similar device was also sent to the office of former President Barack Obama. The official said the devices were similar to one found at the home of the billionaire philanthropist George Soros on Monday.... That device was constructed from a length of pipe about six inches long filled with explosive powder... Mr. Soros, who made his fortune in finance and is now a full-time philanthropist and political activist, is often a subject of the ire of right-wing groups. In recent days, some have falsely speculated that he funded a caravan of migrants moving north in Mexico."

The NYT reports.

Interesting to see the caravan woven into the speculation. The caravan seems to be powerfully helpful to the right wing.

ADDED: Yesterday, I blogged a WaPo article about the caravan and noted that the most-liked comments over there are working on a conspiracy theory that says "GOP operatives" funded the caravan. This morning, I'm reading a newer WaPo article — "How the migrant caravan became so big and why it’s continuing to grow" — and the same thing is happening in the comments. Here's the most-liked one:
Why isn't the media digging into the possibility that Trump's administration is behind the caravan? The timing of its formation right before the mid-terms seems totally suspect to me.
Maybe just a troll, with trolls doing the up-voting. Or just a sarcastic comedian.

Because he doesn't own slaves?

"Biden says Trump is 'more like George Wallace than George Washington.'"

"At 63, I Threw Away My Prized Portrait of Robert E. Lee," writes Retired United States Army general Stanley A. McChrystal...

... in The Atlantic.
The painting had no monetary value; it was really just a print of an original overlaid with brushstrokes to appear authentic.
Well, then... no great sacrifice. I clicked through to this because I'm opposed to the destruction of artwork for political purposes, but this isn't really artwork. The headline conned me. Dammit, McChrystal. "Prized Portrait" — spare me.
But 40 years earlier it had been a gift from a young Army wife to her lieutenant husband when the $25 price (framed) required juggling other needs in our budget.
You know, it's hard to throw out a gift you don't like. Took him 4 decades to work out the excuse to throw the thing in the garbage. But my question is, what does his wife say?
It was not a simple decision. For almost 150 years, Lee had been a subject of study, and of admiration, not only for his skill, but also as a symbol of stoic commitment to duty. And while I could appreciate the visceral association with slavery and injustice that images of the Confederacy’s most famous commander evoke, for a lifetime, that’s not the association I’d drawn. I’d read and largely believed Winston Churchill’s statements that “Lee was one of the noblest Americans who ever lived and one of the greatest captains known to the annals of war.”

At age 63, the same age at which Lee died, I concluded I was wrong—to some extent wrong about Lee as a leader, but certainly about the message that Lee as a symbol conveyed. And although I was slow to appreciate it, a significant part of American society, many still impacted by the legacy of slavery, had felt it all along....
The essay continues at great length about Lee, and I got tired of looking for the answer to my question about his wife, whose gift he threw out. Now, I'm down to the last paragraph:
The picture of fellow soldier Robert E. Lee that hung in my home and inspired me for so long is gone, presumably crushed and buried with the other detritus of life.
Including your wife — buried? That would explain the long-awaited freedom to throw out the "portrait."
But the memory remains. The persona he crafted of a disciplined, dutiful soldier, devoid of intrigue and strictly loyal to a hierarchy of entities that began with God and his own sense of honor, combined with an extraordinary aptitude for war, pulls me toward the most traditional of leadership models. I try to stand a bit straighter. But when I contemplate his shortcomings, and admit his failures, as I must my own, there is a caution I would also do well to remember.
No, nothing — in all that sententious prose —  nothing of the wife. She disappeared after that first mention, unnamed, "a young Army wife."

I looked up McChrystal's Wikipedia page so I could find the name of his wife and whether she is still living. I read this, under "Personal Life":
McChrystal married Annie Corcoran, also from a military family, in 1977. The couple have one son. McChrystal is reported to run 7 to 8 miles (11 to 13 km) daily, eat one meal per day, and sleep four hours a night.
Man, I wish I'd kept a list of all the people I've read sleep only 4 hours a night — Donald Trump, Elon Musk, etc. etc.  How about Robert E. Lee? Did he only sleep 4 hours? "[Lee] routinely turned down offers to use the homes of Southerners as his headquarters, preferring to sleep outside in his modest tent...." Can't see how long he slept. Don't know if he went jogging 7 or 8 miles a day. Don't know if he threw out presents from his wife.

"Erdogan Seizes on Saudi Murder as Chance to Upend Middle East."

Bloomberg reports.
Strategic media leaks by anonymous officials suggest Erdogan possesses audio recordings that he’s using to extract concessions from the deep-pocketed Saudis and convince the West the kingdom is far from a reliable partner....

Turkey has been labeled the world’s “worst jailer” of journalists the past two years by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The organization says 73 journalists were behind bars in Turkey as of December 2017, according to its latest annual report, and “fresh arrests take place regularly.”

"The Norwegian saboteurs skied across the Telemark pine forest in winter whites, phantom apparitions gliding over moonlit snow."

"They halted at a steep river gorge and gazed down at a humming hydroelectric power plant where Nazi scientists had developed a mysterious, top-secret project. Lt. Joachim Ronneberg, the 23-year-old resistance fighter in command, and his eight comrades — all carrying cyanide capsules to swallow if captured — had been told by British intelligence only that the plant was distilling something called heavy water, and that it was vital to Hitler’s war effort.Hours later, in one of the most celebrated commando raids of World War II, Lieutenant Ronneberg and his demolition team sneaked past guards and a barracks full of German troops, stole into the plant, set explosive charges and blew up Hitler’s hopes for a critical ingredient to create the first atomic bomb.... They skied by night, rested by day and reached the gorge late on the night of Feb. 27, 1943.... The power plant was perched on a ledge halfway up the far slope...."

From "Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99" (NYT).

Is there a better story in the history of skiing?

If you're thinking, I'd like to see this in a movie, no you wouldn't. Here's how it looked in the movies...



... and I consider that a fantastic argument for why writing — like the quote in the post title — is superior to cinema. Movies do excel at confronting you with giant, beautiful faces. Mesmerizing... and ludicrous.

October 23, 2018

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... talk, talk, talk.

The genius of dogs.

"She was very well prepared. Since '... Baby One More Time' was the first song, we really didn’t know where to take it. We just kept on recording."

"We tried a couple of different styles. After a while, I could hear her stomach growl in the microphone. I asked if she was hungry. We’d been going for eight hours. She said, 'No, I’m fine.' I said, 'Let’s take a break,' and she had three burgers."

From "'Britney Spears wanted to be a star': An oral history of '...Baby One More Time'" (Entertainment Weekly).

What Sarah Silverman said about how different she was from those other women in front of whom Louis C.K. masturbated.

New York Magazine sums it up. Let me see if I can make it even more concise:

1. Silverman told Howard Stern, "I’m not making excuses for [Louis C.K.]... But, you know, we are peers, we are equals. When we were kids, and he used to ask if he could masturbate in front of me, sometimes I’d go, 'Fuck yeah I want to see that!"

2. Silverman said she was not like "the other women who are talking about what he did to him" because the 2 of them were equals: "He could offer me nothing. We were only just friends."

3. One of those "other women," Rebecca Corry, said: "To be real clear, CK had 'nothing to offer me' as I too was his equal."

4. Now, I think that raises the question why didn't Corry just leave if there wasn't something she wanted from him or some power he held over her, but Silverman didn't go in that direction. She took the much safer route of being super-nice to Corry: "Rebecca I’m sorry. Ugh this is why I don’t like weighing in. I can’t seem to do press 4 my show w/out being asked about it. But you’re right- you were equals and he fucked with you and it’s not ok. I’m sorry, friend. You are so talented and so kind."

5. I don't know whether Silverman is still in trouble, but her effort to help rehabilitate her friend — who she says she "loves" and sees as a "brother" — got stalled.

Sandra Day O'Connor reveals that she has dementia and that it has advanced to the point where she is withdrawing from public life.

The NYT reports.
In a letter addressed to “friends and fellow Americans,” Justice O’Connor, 88, wrote that she had received a diagnosis of early-stage dementia “some time ago” and that doctors believed it was most likely Alzheimer’s disease.

“Since many people have asked about my current status and activities, I want to be open about these changes, and while I am still able, share some personal thoughts,” Justice O’Connor wrote in the letter. “While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life.”

She said she would remain living in Phoenix, where she returned when she left the court in 2005. Her husband, John J. O’Connor III, died in 2009 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, and his diagnosis was a large factor in her decision to retire from the Supreme Court.
It is sad to hear this. Heartfelt good wishes Justice O'Connor — forever the First Woman of the Supreme Court.

Burger King promotes a "scary black" product.

Amazingly tone deaf, BK. The full name of the product is "Scary Black Cherry." I would never have used "scary black" in a product name. I don't know if anyone is criticizing the product on the racial insensitivity. I am seeing:
The “scary black cherry” slushy at Burger King might just give you two Halloween thrills for the price of one. Of course, that depends on how you feel about drinking something that might turn your poop bright blue or neon green.
TheReportOfTheWeek actually drinks the stuff. He tests whether it does what it says it will do: "If this doesn't turn my tongue black and make it look like it's just dead and, you know, full-on necrosis has set in, I'm going to be quite upset":



If I google the phrase "scary black" right now, the whole front page of hits is about the Burger King beverage. So I added "race" to my search and — that guy is everywhere — the top 3 hits are about Trump:

"Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms!"

Tweeted Trump, quoted in "Divided Democrats struggle to answer Trump’s claims on migrant caravan" (WaPo). And what are Democrats supposed to do? Shut up and not give it more air (you'll only make it worse)? Or try to answer, but what can you do? Talk about empathy? Tell us a wall won't help? But what will help? How can you avoid reinforcing Trump's taunt "pathetic"?

And why did 5,000 people in Honduras suddenly mobilize into what ends up working as a giant pro-Trump demonstration?

The official Democratic talking point seems to be that Trump is the one changing the subject:
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement over the weekend saying Trump was “desperate to change the subject from health care to immigration because he knows that health care is the number one issue Americans care about.”
But those 5,000 people are real, aren't they? Are Schumer and Pelosi calling them fake news?

The most-liked comment at WaPo is:
HEY wake up...the caravan could be funded by GOP operatives to bring up the immigration issue before the vote in NOV...you know the OCT Surprise...someone should investigate this...Serious...Karl Rove pulled this in 2004 with gay marriage
Sounds really desperate to bring up Karl Rove. Somebody else says:
Absolutely right. Paying refugees is much cheaper than running ads. And all that free media coverage of skinny mothers and their babies will scare the hell out of Trump's brain dead followers.
That sounds nutty, but the whole situation feels nutty. These people are so helpful to Trump, but they can't be motivated by a desire to help Trump, unless they're not what they appear to be. It brings out the conspiracy thinking, which — like everything, apparently — also helps Trump.

ADDED: About that Trump tweet (quoted in the headline) — Trump has his own approach to capitalization. Criticize it at your own risk:

Trump goes to Texas to rally for Cruz and — for one exquisite minute — the 2 men come together.

This one-minute clip is hilarious, both because they're doing the theater of love but you can plainly see they do not love and because of Trump's obviously superior understanding of stagecraft and camera framing:



Cruz spoke first. You can scroll back in the video to see that. He introduces Trump and Trump comes out slowly, interacting with the crowd and not looking at Cruz, whose back is to the camera:



Finally, Trump begins to turn toward Cruz, but he continues to look away, as Cruz's blocky head and back fill the screen:



Finally, Trump casts his eyes on Cruz:



What's that expression on his face? Some sort of begrudging smile? Something that means, I can work with you but I don't trust you?

Then Trump moves in with the deep piercing eye contact. Out of view is the hand shake, and Trump's left hand is way up for the shoulder grab, before Cruz can get any left-hand business happening:



Now, Cruz has the left-hand death-grip happening on Trump's right biceps, and Trump's expression is an instant of passing anguish:



And immediately, Trump is back in control, enacting, for the camera, the appearance of having an important conversation where he's really explaining something to Ted (whose face we barely see):



Now, there's a hug, but look at Trump's expression. It's like he's giving Ted the shiv:



Trump's done with this part and the effort shows:



Finally, he's rid of the man. Trump turns his back on Cruz and settles into his walking-and-clapping-settling-into-his-own-thoughts mode:



ADDED: Who has tiny hands? Seems to be Cruz: