November 3, 2018

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about anything.

"The man who shot dead two women at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, on Friday before killing himself was a far-right extremist and self-proclaimed misogynist..."

"... who railed against women, black people, and immigrants in a series of online videos and songs.... On a YouTube channel in 2014, [Scott] Beierle filmed several videos of himself offering extremely racist and misogynistic opinions, in which he called women 'sluts' and 'whores,' and lamented 'the collective treachery' of girls he went to high school with.... In one video called 'Plight of the Adolescent Male,' he named Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured 14 and is often seen as a hero for so-called incels, or those who consider themselves 'involuntarily celibate.' 'I’d like to send a message now to the adolescent males ... that are in the position, the situation, the disposition of Elliot Rodger, of not getting any, no love, no nothing. This endless wasteland that breeds this longing and this frustration. That was me, certainly, as an adolescent,' he said.... Some in the incel community have previously raged against women wearing yoga pants... Beierle’s political affiliations were not immediately clear, but he was highly critical of the Obama administration in his 2014 videos...."

Reports BuzzFeed News.

If his "political affiliations were not immediately clear" why is Buzzfeed referring to him as "a far-right extremist"?

Lots of terrible song lyrics at the link: "To hell with the boss that won’t get off my back, To hell with the girl I can’t get in the sack"/"I’m no athletic shark. I’m not a physical specimen. I don’t win the trophies and medals. Nobody stands in awe of me"/"I have no shame, but this is to blame. I would do anything. I just don’t care. I have no fear of any consequences... I am pro-death... The more that die the merrier."

"The mystery of Donald Trump is what impels him to overturn the usual rules. Is it a dark sort of cunning or simple defects of character?"

"Because the president’s critics tend to be educated and educated people tend to think that the only kind of smarts worth having is the kind they possess — superior powers of articulation combined with deep stores of knowledge — those critics generally assume the latter. He’s a bigot. He’s a con artist. His followers are dumb. They got lucky last time. They won’t be so lucky again. Maybe this is even right. But as Trump’s presidency moves forward, it’s no longer smart to think it’s right. There’s more than one type of intelligence. Trump’s is feral. It strikes fast. It knows where to sink the fang into the vein.... The truth is that there is no easy fix to the challenge of the caravan, which is why Trump was so clever to make the issue his own and Democrats have been so remiss in letting him have it. The secret of Trump’s politics is to mix fear and confidence — the threat of disaster and the promise of protection — like salt and sugar, simultaneously stimulating and satisfying an insatiable appetite."

From "Why Aren’t Democrats Walking Away With the Midterms?/Democrats miss Trump’s political gifts and the real threat he represents" by Bret Stephens (NYT).

I tried to read the comments, but what I saw was, as I expected, a lot of no, no, no, Trump is evil and his followers are idiots.

By they way, are we allowed to speak of human beings as non-human animals or not? "Trump’s is feral. It strikes fast. It knows where to sink the fang into the vein" — portrays Trump as a snake.

ADDED: It's funny — isn't it? — that people who pride themselves on their own intelligence and sneer at others for lacking intelligence, cannot understand what the hell is going on. I think it's that emotion reigns in the human mind, and they cannot settle down and coolly analyze the situation, and they are afraid of having any ideas that would inspire the contempt of people whose love and respect they feel they need. What is there to do then but hate Trump and think half the country belongs in the basket of deplorables?

"Is Ted Cruz really 'Tough as Texas'? Hardly. Here's one Texan's take on that Ted Cruz fella... Directed by Richard Linklater."

Pretty fine little film. Not sure whether it has the intended effect — seems too pro-violence! — but I'm a fan of Linklater's early film "Slacker," so, whatever.

ADDED: Source material from Linklater's 2011 movie "Bernie":

"Those horrible pink hats': midterms divide women in era of #MeToo."

A nicely done, nicely balanced little film, from The Guardian. Watch the whole thing. I love the low-key, steadfast demeanor of the filmmaker, Paul Lewis:


"There haven’t been any interviews in any of my films. I think some people make great interview movies. It’s just not a style that I’m interested in."

"I think my movies are more novelistic than journalistic and I think when my films work, they work because you feel you’re present in the sequence that you’re watching and hearing. I like the sense of immediacy that it gives."

Said the great documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, who, at the age of 88, has a new movie, "Monrovia, Indiana."
“I’ve made movies in 17 states, but I never made one in the Middle West before, with the exception of a public housing film in Chicago. I thought it would be interesting to make a movie about a small town in the Middle West,” he tells Deadline. “A friend of mine told me about Monrovia and I visited it, liked what I saw, and started to make a movie there.”

He filmed on hog farms, in cornfields, at a Masonic lodge, Lions Club, high school, veterinary clinic, tattoo parlor, barbershop, restaurant, a baby shower, a wedding and more. The film contains moments of conversation between townspeople, including some old duffers at a diner who discuss a recent experience eating carrots....

Monrovia is overwhelmingly white, nestled within a county that Donald Trump carried in 2016 with more than 75% of the vote. Wiseman shows the intrinsic role of Christian traditions in daily life (“People are very religious,” he states) but he doesn’t overtly address the politics hovering in the background. Some critics would have preferred he confront red state mentalities.

“That’s the film they want to make. That’s not the film I want to make,” he declares. “I don’t like to make obvious films.”
You can see the carrot scene in the trailer for the movie:

What's up with the pinned Tweet on Trump's Twitter feed?

The vertical lines in the "O"s refer to what... "Game of Thrones"?

Ah! Yes: "Game of Thrones Stars and HBO Are Not Happy About Donald Trump's Bad Meme/It was a total Joffrey move" (Esquire). What's the point of getting mad in public? You'll only boost the virality of Trump's own tweet.
Trump tweeted an image of himself with the text “Sanctions Are Coming, November 5” to warn about upcoming sanctions on Iran. The font mimicked Game of Thrones, and the phrase played off the show's tagline, “Winter Is Coming.”

HBO didn’t take too kindly to the ripoff. "We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes,” the network told TMZ in a statement. The premium network then followed up the statement with a tweet of its own that said, "How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?"..
HBO should just say nothing. Creating anxiety about enforcement of purported intellectual property rights is: 1. lame and 2. discouraging to people who care about free speech and satire.

"Normally, I would not comment on something as egregiously misstated as today’s story. However, the assertion that I punched anyone over a parking spot is false."

"I wanted to go on the record stating as much. I realize that it has become a sport to tag people w as many negative negative charges and defaming allegations as possible for the purposes of clickbait entertainment. Fortunately, no matter how reverberating the echos [sic], it doesn’t make the statements true."

Tweeted Alec Baldwin, after his humiliating arrest, reports Page Six. Video at the link shows him hounded by the press as he leaves the police station.

"Hey, Alec, what kind of example are you setting for your kids with your little temper tantrum?" taunts someone in the crowd, maybe a reporter. Baldwin has 4 children under the age of 5.

"Huh? Can't you afford a garage at this point with the money you make?" continues the taunter, who was, presumably, disappointed when Baldwin did not charge into the crowd and take a shot at him. Baldwin calmly entered an awaiting car and rode off.

Trump — the man Baldwin is famous for impersonating — was informed of the arrest and said, spontaneously, "I wish him luck." Trump Jr., on the other hand, tweeted, "Is anyone shocked at this piece of garbage anymore? As if the phone calls to his daughter weren’t bad enough. He’s a lib so he gets chance after chance to be decent but always fails!"

"Gone is the senator who once called the future president 'the world’s biggest jackass' and a 'race-baiting xenophobic religious bigot.'"

"With an eye toward re-election in 2020 in a state still on the Trump Train, Mr. Graham has climbed into the locomotive. 'I stepped up,' he boasted in an interview, 'and I’m getting rewarded for it by conservatives, and liberals are all upset.'"

From "What Happened to Lindsey Graham? He’s Become a Conservative ‘Rock Star’" (NYT). Part of what happened is that John McCain died. His friend Trey Gowdy is quoted saying that McCain was "the closest thing he ever had to a father." And McCain — as the Times puts it — "hated Mr. Trump."
[P]erhaps nothing has cemented Mr. Graham’s standing in Mr. Trump’s world as much as his performance at the divisive Supreme Court confirmation hearing for the future Justice Kavanaugh, who faced allegations of sexual assault from Christine Blasey Ford.His finger-wagging, lip-curling performance — “Boy, you all want power — God, I hope you never get it,” he snarled — was lampooned on “Saturday Night Live.” But Mr. Trump loved it.

“Wow! Remind me not to make you mad,” the president told Mr. Graham on a private call, the senator said...

"A vandal who scrawled anti-Semitic graffiti in a Brooklyn synagogue and set fires around several other Jewish places of worship was arrested Friday, police sources said."

The Daily News reports.
Cops committed James Polite, 26 of Bedford-Stuyvesant to the psychiatric ward at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn.... The suspect was busted in the same clothes he wore in surveillance video of his vandalism at the historic Union Temple in Prospect Heights. Polite is also suspected of setting a series of small trash fires in and around synagogues in Williamsburg, police sources said.... Cops released a surveillance image of the vandal on Friday. He is described as a black man, about 20 years old, 5-foot-8, 140 pounds with black hair.
The words in the graffiti: "Hitler," "Jews better be ready" and "Die Jew rats, we are here!" What makes a 20-year-old black man write that? An immediate decision seems to have been made that he is a person with mental illness.

Meanwhile, what do we know about the Pittsburgh murderer? I'm reading "As questions linger about Pittsburgh suspect, details emerge from his early life" (WaPo):
But while rage-filled anti-Semitic online posts from an account bearing Bowers’s name have drawn considerable attention, his offline life left startlingly little impression on people who met him before the massacre.... The elements of his background that have emerged since the bloodshed at Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27 suggested moments of instability in his early life, including family divorces, moves and ultimately being raised by his grandparents....

Much of the rest of Robert Bowers’s life remains a mystery. He attended high school in Baldwin, Pa., but did not graduate. He was not well-known to neighbors, who said he kept a low profile and gave no indication of the racist views he espoused online.
This morning, a new story is: "Two women were killed when a gunman opened fire in a Florida yoga studio before class members fought back and the attacker killed himself, police said on Saturday" (NYT). I don't know the killer's motivation, but a yoga class is a religious or religion-like ritual (see "Does doing yoga make you a Hindu?" (BBC)).

"No indication Saudi sisters found dead and bound with duct tape in NYC were killed, authorities say."

A puzzling headline in The Washington Post. How isn't bondage in duct tape an indication of murder?
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said the sisters had alleged that they were abused by family members and sought asylum on those grounds in the United States.... "The money started to run out — that’s what we believe started to happen," Shea said.

The sisters were found on rocks beneath a pier on the Upper West Side. They were fully clothed and bore no signs of trauma. Silvery duct tape was wrapped around their ankles and torsos, leading to speculation they might have been killed and dumped.

But Shea said the duct tape was loose, more like it was meant to keep them together rather than bind them. He said police had every indication that the Fareas were alive when they entered the water.

November 2, 2018

At the Glass Roof Cafe...

... you can see your way clear.

38 minutes of Swedes looking askance at Jordan Peterson.

Peterson holds forth in his usual way, quite cogent, earnest and unflappable, and not for one minute is he released from the stinkande öga.

Something made "pettish" seem like the right adjective with "heiress," so I wondered if "pettish" was to "heiress" as "scantily" is to "clad."

I don't want to write in clichés. I eschew triteness here. I wrote "pettish heiress" and felt artistically compelled to Google the phrase...

Far from trite, "pettish heiress" hasn't been (googlably) used since 1891, in "Mr. Zinzan of Bath, Or, Seen in an Old Mirror."

"No One Wants to Campaign With Bill Clinton Anymore."

Headline at the NYT.
As Democrats search for their identity in the Trump era, one aspect has become strikingly clear: Mr. Clinton is not part of it. Just days before the midterm elections, Mr. Clinton finds himself in a kind of political purgatory, unable to overcome past personal and policy choices now considered anathema within the rising liberal wing of his party....

In an election shaped by the #MeToo movement, where female candidates and voters are likely to drive any Democratic gains, Mr. Clinton finds his legacy tarnished by what some in the party see as his inability to reckon with his sexual indiscretions as president with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, as well as with past allegations of sexual assault.
"Inability to reckon with his sexual indiscretions"? Does the NYT use the phrase "sexual indiscretions" when writing about other celebrities who've been accused of rape and sexual harassment? "Sexual indiscretions" is very pre-MeToo.
Rebecca Kirszner Katz, a veteran Democratic strategist, says... “It was an abuse of power that shouldn’t have happened and if the Clintons can’t accept that fact 20 years later, it’s hard to see how they can be part of the future of the Democratic Party”....

Few Democrats were eager to talk publicly about Mr. Clinton’s future role in the party. Though they’re reluctant to say it out loud, Mr. Clinton’s political exile is an open secret in Democratic circles....

[M]any Democrats are mystified by what seems like the Clintons’ inability to respond to questions about Mr. Clinton’s past that are inevitable in the #MeToo era.

Efforts to promote a thriller novel he wrote with author James Patterson were overshadowed after the former president said he would not handle the Monica Lewinsky scandal any differently today. Earlier this month, Mrs. Clinton said in a television interview that her husband’s affair was not an abuse of power because Ms. Lewinsky was “an adult.”...
What's mystifying? Unless you can articulate a better response, you shouldn't be mystified at what Bill and Hillary came up with. It's not mystifying. It's infuriating. But go ahead. Say you're "mystified," because you who have consorted with Bill Clinton for the last quarter century have no good response for why you stood with him so long.

But "mystified," like "sexual indiscretions," is the NYT's word — the NYT's mystification.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lyssa said:
IMO, anyone who ignored their principles to give him a pass when he was still trendy should be named and shamed as well, including Ms. Clinton and quite a few folks at the Times.
Meade said:
#your indiscretions are rapey rapes while my indiscretions are merely peccadilloes.

"I am an independent woman. I've earned the right to think for myself and to vote for myself, and that's why I am a registered independent."

Said Oprah Winfrey, rallying for Stacey Abrams in Georgia.

I was wondering what size crowd Oprah drew. I'm seeing that all available tickets were claimed and that the event was Forbes Arena at Morehouse College, which has a capacity of 6,000. That doesn't mean there were 6,000 people there. In the video, there's a black curtain behind Oprah, so I'm thinking there were unused seats behind the curtain. The audience does sound very enthusiastic. Anyway, I'm interested in the way crowd size is reported/unreported, now that Trump has set such an insanely high standard for political rallies. I would think that if anyone on the Democratic (independent?) side could draw the same kind of crowd, it would be Oprah.

IN THE COMMENTS: Big Mike said:
Correction. She was born with the right to think for herself and to vote for herself as a citizen of the United States. One can thoughtlessly relinquish those rights, but they are our absolute birthright.
I am sure Oprah would agree that all Americans have this right, so to me, the interesting question is why Oprah said "earned." It seems wrong, because it suggests that less successful, accomplished Americans do not have this right. The trick is in the word "right." If she'd said "power," it would make sense.

I think it goes something like this: Oprah had to struggle to get to the place where she can think for herself and vote independently. She didn't mean to imply that other people are not entitled to think and to vote in their own independent way. It's that some of them haven't got in touch with their power to exercise their rights. You need to develop as a person — and it takes work — to get where you see, value, and use your rights.

Another way to look at it is that Americans should not be complacent about rights. Rights come and go and change over time. If we don't work to see, value, and use them, they can get lost. We're losing and gaining all the time, and if you haven't noticed, you're part of the problem. Don't get too comfortable. You may think you were born with an immense fortune in rights, but don't loll around like a pettish heiress.

I didn't know it was still predicted, but "A blue wave is predicted for the midterms. I’m not convinced" is...

... the title of an essay in WaPo by Paul Theroux, who wrote a book I like a lot — "The Mosquito Coast" — so I'll give it a read. I doubt if the author wrote the headline, but it is what caused me to click — only because I was just thinking that the term "blue wave" had been abandoned and the elections were now being discussed as some sort of dead heat to the finish line.
Ihave quite a lot of sympathy for certain Trump voters, and (wait, please, let me finish) I've been making a list of some concerns that Donald Trump the candidate (I beg you to stop interrupting me — this won't take long) raised when he was on the campaign trail and in the White House...
Ihave quite a lot of doubt about the copy editing at a news site that runs the first words of an essay together like that. They've got an eminent author, and they serve him that poorly! And here he is tripping off to a lovely start, conjuring up clamorous readers objecting and shouting him down.

Writing from Oaxaca, Mexico, Theroux is concerned about the poor labor conditions in Mexico: "the visible obscenity of American factories a few hundred yards over the border at, say, Mexicali or Ciudad Juarez or Reynosa, merely to allow these companies to pay workers $8.50 a day." What do Democrats propose to do about that?

And what will Democrats do about immigration? Theroux asks, even as he rejects "building the Murus Hadrianus Trumpus at the border.
Trump's hostility to immigration and his appeal to old-fashioned Americana is seen as nativist and sometimes racist.... Anyone who came of age in 1950s America has witnessed a doubling of the U.S. population and an enormous cultural shift. Its upside is diversity, of course; its downside is an erosion of historical memory, and culture shock.

Yes, it's a pity that young immigrants, and plenty of young people generally, have never heard of Elvis, Screamin' Jay Hawkins or Annette Funicello. It's of greater concern to me that the names Emmett Till and Rosa Parks are so seldom invoked; that there is so little awareness of America's tradition of dissent, or of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s hope to live in a nation where people "will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."...

To write off Trump's message, or to see his voters as racist and deplorable, is to miss the point.... There are many loud Trumpers, but there are shy Trumpers, too. So I distrust polls more than ever.... I discovered that many in my large and lovable and liberal-minded family, and maybe yours too, revealed themselves as shy Trumpers.

"Making her first appearance outside Massachusetts since her attempt to demonstrate the strength of her presidential campaign with a DNA test release that fell flat..."

"... Warren would not talk about Donald Trump or the campaign she’s still looking at launching.... But she did make a case against the president and his party.... Warren drew a crowd of over 300 on campus at Ohio University....  Her first stop of the day didn’t make much of a mark. At a coffee shop and bar in Columbus, about 50 people showed, barely outnumbering the journalists and campaign staff who’d stood outside in the rain, urging passersby to come in...."

From "Elizabeth Warren Test Drives Her Presidential Campaign/The Massachusetts senator started a two-day campaign swing through Ohio and Wisconsin" by Edward-Isaac Dovere (The Atlantic).

I see she's in Madison, Wisconsin today, Monona Terrace, Exhibition Hall A. "Doors open at 9:30AM." The capacity of Exhibition Hall A is 1,600.

ADDED: I've been thinking about the insanely high standard Donald Trump has set for political rallies. I don't think numbers like 300 on a campus and 50 in a coffee shop used to seem bad at all. I can remember watching C-Span's "Road to the White House," back during the early stages of the 2004 presidential campaign and seeing John Kerry wandering around the streets somewhere (I think) in New Hampshire and just not finding anyone to talk to. He goes into a music store and, for lack of a better option, sits down and plays an acoustic guitar by himself.

The Department of Homeland Security issues a statement of "the facts surrounding the 'caravans' en route to the U.S. Southwest border."

Link. Excerpt:
[O]ver 270 individuals along the caravan route have criminal histories, including known gang membership. Those include a number of violent criminals – examples include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, sexual assault on a child, and assault on a female. Mexican officials have also publicly stated that criminal groups have infiltrated the caravan. We also continue to see individuals from over 20 countries in this flow from countries such as Somalia, India, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh....

"My rule is that if I disagree with anything that Alan Dershowitz says, I immediately change my opinion to his... I'm going to bet against Alan Dershowitz on a constitutional question. It's on, Alan!"

Adams is confronted with this Dershowitz tweet:
Any child born to undocumented immigrants who remains in the country is a constitutional citizen. Only question is whether a child born to a tourist who is then removed and never returns is subject to the jurisdiction of the US.
What's interesting to me about Adams is that he gropes at legal answers from the position of a person with no knowledge of constitutional law. I don't believe his knowledge is as low as he claims, because he claims the lowest level of knowledge. So he's doing theater — look at those theater hands in the freeze frame — the theater of where Everyman believes the answer should be. And that's what Trump is doing too.

Notice that Everyman defers to authority most of the time, and you see Everyman Scott Adams taking the strong position, in comic form. He sets up Alan Dershowitz as the authority, and he asserts that whatever he thinks, if Alan Dershowitz says something else he immediately change his opinion to whatever Dershowitz says.

That's hilarious hyperbole, and I think it lampoons the notion that the Constitution means whatever the Supreme Court says it means, a notion one often sees pushed, but that gets kicked to the curb on those occasions when the outcome feels terribly wrong. For Adams, Alan Dershowitz is the Supreme Court. Hilarious. I get it.

In The Theater of Everyman Scott Adams, sometimes The Supreme Court of Alan Dershowitz gets it wrong. It's a Bowers v. Hardwick or whatever — Citizens United, Roe v. Wade. It feels so wrong, Everyman intuits that it is wrong. He doesn't even know the legal argument, doesn't need to know. Just feels. There's got to be something in there that makes it go where he needs it to go. And isn't that how we do constitutional law in the United States? There's that thing fancy lawyers do. This seems to be one of those times when the fancy thing needs to be done. I'm not giving a lawprof opinion on the subject under discussion. I'm just saying that's how I understand this performance in The Theater of Everyman Scott Adams.

ADDED: "If a Supreme Court reached across the Constitution to pull out some damned thing like privacy... I think they could pull it off."

November 1, 2018

At the Thursday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

Bob Dylan in my Facebook timeline.

"Bob Dylan's appearance on the 1975 television special 'The World of John Hammond' included this performance of 'Simple Twist of Fate.' Soundstage 1975 performance used under license from WTTW Chicago."

Lyrics here, in case you want to analyze them. I'll just select one verse:
He woke up, the room was bare
He didn’t see her anywhere
He told himself he didn’t care, pushed the window open wide
Felt an emptiness inside to which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate

"[P]oliticians like Mr. Trump who stoke anger and fear in their supporters provoke a surge of stress hormones, like cortisol and norepinephrine, and engage the amygdala..."

"... the brain center for threat.... This makes it hard for people to dial down their emotions and think before they act. Mr. Trump has managed to convince his supporters that America is the victim and that we face an existential threat from imagined dangers like the migrant caravan and the 'fake, fake disgusting news.'...  Just about any of us could be susceptible [to becoming violent] under the right conditions.... A 2011 study by Dr. Fiske and a colleague looked at 'social cognition' — the ability to put oneself in someone else’s place and recognize 'the other as a human being subject to moral treatment.' Subjects in the study were found to be so unempathetic toward drug addicts and homeless people that they found it difficult to imagine how those people thought or felt. Using brain M.R.I., researchers showed that images of members of dehumanized groups failed to activate brain regions implicated in normal social cognition and instead activated the subjects’ insula, a region implicated in feelings of disgust. As Dr. Fiske has written, 'Both science and history suggest that people will nurture and act on their prejudices in the worst ways when these people are put under stress, pressured by peers, or receive approval from authority figures to do so.' So when someone like President Trump dehumanizes his adversaries, he could be putting them beyond the reach of empathy, stripping them of moral protection and making it easier to harm them."

From "The Neuroscience of Hate Speech/Humans are social creatures who are easily influenced by the anger and rage that are everywhere these days" by the psychiatry professor Richard A. Friedman (NYT).

Here's one of the more interesting comments at the link:
Missing: women, 51%, are missing from this analysis and from the famous Stanley Milgram experiment reported. In fact women do not respond to violence in the same way, or to commands from authority figures as do men.

Women are not mass murderers in general and do not respond well to Trump. When speaking of violence generalizations like “Humans are social creatures...influenced by violence and rage” women are ignored.
Of course, no group "in general" is composed of mass murderers, and some women do respond well to Trump, and I don't really know if it's true that the brain studies have concentrated on men. When we worry about violence, we think almost entirely about men becoming violent, but the subject of angry and hateful public discourse relates not merely to who will be incited actually to commit violence. The main concern — let's face it — is how people will vote. If we are afraid of violence and become more vigilant, we're all very unlikely to commit acts of violence. But it becomes part of what determines our vote, and the most likely outcome is that we will just vote for someone like Trump who seems willing and able to protect us from violence.

A Democrat makes an impassioned plea for Democrats to vote for the Republican nominee for Attorney General in Wisconsin.

"Brad [Schimel] has been an attorney in Wisconsin for 28 years. He has handled over 16,000 Wisconsin state cases. Josh Kaul, since coming back [to Wisconsin] in 2014, has handled one Wisconsin state case and it wasn't even a criminal matter. The Wisconsin Attorney General represents the state of Wisconsin, and most importantly law enforcement.... There are hundreds of attorneys in Wisconsin who are Democrats who are qualified for this job. In my opinion, Josh Kaul is not one of them. He has handled one Wisconsin state case. One. Compared to Brad's 16,000."

The lawyer in the video, Saul Glazer, is someone I know, and I'm surprised to see him supporting a Republican.

ADDED: Saul emails that he is not a Democrat. The group is called "Democratic and Independent Voters for Brad Schimel."

"I'm going to say this one last time, but the folks who get it, understand and the ones who DON'T, won't. I can be Doc Brown, and I wear the outfit and wig and not change my skin color."

"if you're white, you can be President Obama if you want. Just don't color your skin!"

Al Roker explains the rule, quoted in "Al Roker defends dressing as white character for Halloween."

"Doc Brown" — I had to look it up to check if that really was the character's name (and I've seen all the "Back to the Future" movies many times).

"Trump revives 'Willie Horton' tactic with ad linking illegal immigrant killer to Democrats."

Headline at The Washington Post, based on this ad, which Trump displays in a tweet without a language warning, so you'll hear "fuck" repeatedly:

WaPo identifies the man as Luis Bracamontes, who — after he'd been deported twice — killed 2 California law enforcement officers. In the video, Bracamontes laughs about the killings and says he wishes he'd killed more of those "motherfuckers."

One way to counter this intense presentation of the illegal immigration issue is say it's the "Willie Horton" approach, which good people are supposed to understand and know to be racist.
“This was a classic example of racial cuing,” Claire Jean Kim, a political science professor at the University of California at Irvine, said in a 2012 PBS special. “The insinuation is, if you elect Governor Dukakis as president we’re going to have black rapists running amok in the country. It’s playing to white fears about black crime.”...
[Trump's new] video was discussed at length by [CNN's Chris] Cuomo and Don Lemon on Wednesday. After pointing out that “much of the footage” in the ad “comes from Fox,” a network often praised by Trump and once helmed by [Roger] Ailes, the “Willie Horton” ad creator, Cuomo called both ads “grossly distorted, bigoted, but also effective.”...
The argument is that people are too afraid of crime, and we need to calm down and discount our primal reaction because to be virtuous we ought to discount our fear because we understand that some portion of it comes from inappropriate racial sensations. Nudged to restructure your feelings, watch Luis Bracamontes again and tell me whether you felt more calmly rational about the problem of crime in America.

ADDED: I see I used the word "discount" twice in the penultimate sentence. Too late to spruce that up. So let me say why that word was so important to me. It seems to me that the criticism based on the old Willie Horton ad is intellectually interesting, but not practical in use. Let's say Trump's ad activates something in the evolved human nervous system that we call racism or tribalism or xenophobia when we're conscious of it, but we're also properly afraid of crime, and there is something real about drug cartels and gangs that has something to do with poor control of our border. What am I supposed to do with that — downgrade my fear, take 10% off, 20% off, whatever part I estimate is the instinctive racism that a moral person would want to take out of the decisionmaking process?

I suspect that those making the argument that Trump's ad is a "Willie Horton" move don't mean for us to make a precise adjustment and consider the issue of border control after discounting the part of our thinking attributable to racism. I think they too are attempting to produce an excessive and emotional reaction. They would like us to think Trump is deliberately stimulating racist impulses in the deep reaches of the human psyche, and that makes him so despicable that he must be completely opposed. But that offers nothing to those of us who have — after discounting for racism — a genuine, justified fear of crime.

"Trump's attack on Ryan seen as advance scapegoating."

The Hill headlines, based on the Trump tweet, "Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!"

The Hill writes:
Now, as the House majority appears to be slipping away from Republicans, Trump is suddenly lashing out at the Speaker.
It's not as though the chance of winning has suddenly slipped away. We used to hear about the "Blue Wave," as if a big loss in the House were inevitable. The future is hazier now, the majority isn't "slipping away." The elections seem to be drifting toward something more like a tie, so I don't see the sense of saying Trump is "suddenly" reacting to a loss he sees coming. And Trump seems to be the last guy in the world to lurch into pessimism about an impending election.
Trump's political team has pointed to the high number of GOP retirements and poor fundraising totals among sleepy incumbents as the main source of the party’s troubles in the House. In the third quarter, 110 Democratic challengers outraised their Republican opponents.
GOP strategists said it was incredibly unhelpful to attack Ryan, which is further inflaming Republican tensions and knocking the party off message in the final stretch before the critical midterm elections.

They also maintain it will be impossible for the president to escape blame, given that he has urged his supporters to envision him on the ballot this fall.
I don't know which Republicans talk to The Hill, but it looks like these are people who don't want the immigration issue at the forefront, which used to be just about all Republicans, didn't it? So their pitch to The Hill is that losing the House — which they are resigned about — will be Trump's fault, and his effort to push a big, powerful issue is only designed to shift the blame. I think it's more that he's built a big beautiful win-win for himself: Either his campaign choices worked or they failed because Republicans didn't align themselves strongly enough with him. And Republicans will be stuck with Trump's choice of issues whichever way the House goes. And we're already well into the 2020 campaign.

October 31, 2018

At the Monona Café...

Lake Monona

"Say you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever." Moby-Dick.

(Open thread.)

"Mr. Gorey himself never really acknowledged his own sexuality. To Mr. Schiff, he described himself as 'reasonably undersexed.'"

"To another interview’s probing question about his sexual orientation, he said, 'I’m neither one thing nor the other particularly.' Later in the interview he added: 'What I am trying to say is that I am a person before I am anything else.' While today’s L.G.B.T.Q. community may read that as a closeted gay man from an earlier generation refusing to come out, 'it’s far more complicated than that,' Mr. Dery said. The few romantic feelings Mr. Gorey confessed to in letters to friends, most of them for other men and best described as infatuations, show him as someone for whom the messiness of human relationships was much too much. Perhaps for that or other reasons he kept himself buttoned up. Mr. Dery honored that. 'I wanted to allow Gorey his self-definition, and his self-definition is essentially not to define himself,' he said. 'I wanted to allow Gorey his mystery.'"

From "Edward Gorey Was Eerily Prescient/A new biography celebrates his mysterious life and art."

The book, by Mark Dery, has a fantastic title, "Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey."

On the subject of vague sexuality, I love this Gorey drawing:

The caption is: "When they tried to make love, their strenuous and prolonged efforts came to nothing" (from Gorey's book "The Loathsome Couple").

How's your Halloween?

I just got my first doorbell ring. It was a little girl dressed as a fairy princess queen and a little boy dressed as a ceiling fan.

ADDED: I cry foul: 2 young women came by on some political mission. I normally avoid that sort of thing by not answering the door. "You're not trick-or-treating?" I said, adding, "Sorry, I'm making dinner."

AND: From the City of Madison Halloween tips: "Do not use toy weapons as part of any costume." I opened the door on at least one boy with a sword.

The ethics and the method of filming Alex Honnold free solo climbing El Capitan.

I would not watch this live and find it terrifying to watch even knowing he succeeds. It's beautiful too:

Sleeping in a cold room.

Turn the heat completely off at night or set the temperature at the level you'd put it if you were going out of town and didn't want the pipes to freeze (maybe 50°). If you're not convinced that's a good idea, here's a passage from "Moby Dick":
We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed, the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel most delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blankets between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.

"How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?"

For the Annals of The Era of That's Not Funny, that's the joke that required an editor of a food magazine to resign (BoingBoing reports).
William Sitwell, editor of UK grocery chain Waitrose's in-house magazine... was responding sarcastically to a pitch from freelance writer Selene Nelson.... He also suggested making them eat steak and drink red wine, with Nelson responding: "I'm certainly interested in exploring why just the mention of veganism seems to make some people so hostile."

"What's the most influential book of the past 20 years?"

The Chronicle of Higher Education gathers some answers.

The only one I've read is "The Feeling of What Happens."
As you type, the feeling of your hands on a keyboard may be deeply familiar, so much so that, as the philosopher Frederique de Vignemont points out, you barely notice the sensation of touch as you translate thoughts onto a screen. Every aspect of this experience, however, might rightly amaze. How do you remember where your fingers should go? Why might you notice intently the expansion of type across the screen, but barely register the clicks of keys? How do you extract “experience” — what seems like the whole of conscious life — out of such moments?
ADDED: Here's the Amazon link for Antonio Damasio's "The Feeling of What Happens." If you asked me what book influenced me the most in the last few decades, I might name another book by Damasio, "Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain." But that's a bit more than 2 decades old, so perhaps the Chronicle's respondent named the other book because of the past-20-years limitation.

Rereading "The Lottery," rewriting "Tangled Up In Blue."

I'm noticing the "Most Popular" list in the sidebar at The New Yorker today:

It wasn't originally published on Halloween, but I've seen it mentioned a few times recently, as people engage in seasonal talk about what's the scariest story. The New Yorker originally published "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson on June 26, 1948, and they're featuring it again now. It begins with what long ago became a horror-movie cliché, the lovely, seemingly normal day:
The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.
Of course, I'm also interested in "Bob Dylan’s First Day with 'Tangled Up in Blue.'" Can't be anything too creepy and weird in there.
Most interesting, while Dylan gamely puts the band through their paces on the seemingly easy blues of “Call Letter Blues” and “Meet Me in the Morning” (after attempts at “Simple Twist of Fate” failed miserably), he never lets them near what he surely senses must be his latest masterpiece: “Tangled Up in Blue.” And so, on the afternoon of September 17th, Dylan steps up to the microphone and delivers a hushed, intense, and powerfully intimate version of that song, accompanied only by Brown on bass.
Audio at the link.
While Dylan is known to endlessly and brutally edit his lyrics until the very last minute in the studio... “Tangled Up in Blue” is the one song in Dylan’s vast catalogue that he has never seemed to be finished with...

Fans who have seen Dylan in concert recently will recognize some of the changes, of how “he let the law take its course” has taken the place of using “a little too much force,” or how instead of “fishing outside Delacroix,” “everybody’d gone somewhere.” Of course, the past is still close behind, “following me like a shadow that couldn’t get out of my mind / sticking like glue / Tangled up in blue,” but she isn’t working in a topless bar anymore but at the Moonlight Lounge, “where men put money in her hand.” “There’s always been a certain truth about money that I never did understand,” this new version of Dylan’s classic tells us. “You put things to bed and you’ll call it a day / Sometimes you go along for the ride / You pick your brains and you bury the hatchet / Then you walk on the wild side / Towns are ruined and cities burns and images disappear / Weep with all of your heart if you would / I too cried a tear / Nothing you can do / If you’re tangled up in blue.” It recasts the song in the spirit of our times, in the same way the original was so much a product of the Vietnam and Watergate era....
 It's like blogging, continually rewriting the lyrics to "Tangled Up In Blue."

"The first part of this statement was a Trump truth—that is, a blatant falsehood."

Writes John Cassidy in "Donald Trump Launches Operation Midterms Diversion" (The New Yorker), referring to Trump's statement: "We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for eighty-five years with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end."

"Pakistan’s highest court has spared the life of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in a long-awaited ruling Wednesday..."

WaPo reports, in "A Pakistani Christian woman who faced the death penalty for blasphemy is acquitted by high court after 8 years on death row."
Asia Bibi, a mother and farmer, had spent eight years seeking mercy from appeals courts while imprisoned on death row. The supreme court acquitted Bibi of making “derogatory remarks” about the Muslim prophet Muhammad, ruling that the evidence against her appeared fabricated and insufficient.
That is, the court did not say there's a free speech right to blaspheme or that Christians are not bound by the limits of Islam. It's just the failure of evidence that she made the remarks.
The case against Bibi stems from a fight over a cup of water on a hot day. One afternoon in June 2009, Bibi was working in the field picking berries when she asked a group of women if they would like some water. She offered to fetch it and bring it to them. But the women, who were Muslim, told Bibi that “because she is a Christian they would never take water from her hand,” according to the ruling.

That’s when the women alleged that Bibi made “derogatory remarks” about Muhammad, allegations the court found did not hold up beyond a reasonable doubt....
Widespread protests broke out, "with hundreds from religious parties taking to roads and highways in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi and elsewhere":
Haris Ahmed, a young TLP [Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan, a religious political party] protester, told The Post: “We don’t accept this decision, which is given only to please the U.S. and other Western powers. Our protest will continue until and unless the supreme court reverses its decision and the blasphemer is sentenced to death. When it comes to the honor of the holy prophet, we are ready to sacrifice everything, and if the government believes it can stop us with the use of force, they are living in fools’ paradise.”
The leader of TLP said:
“Stop working, leave everything else — this is not a time to stay at your homes and offices. It’s time to give sacrifice and protect your religion. All of you hearing my voice shut your doors and come join this protest. We don’t accept this verdict. A blasphemer can’t be forgiven and we are ready for every sacrifice, for us the honor of our prophet is everything. We are ready to face police. We are not afraid of anything. Its time to rise for your religion.”

A postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth College’s Program in Quantitative Social Science quantifies the gender polarization from the Kavanaugh hearings.

I'm reading "The Kavanaugh confirmation polarized women, and motivated them to vote — some for Republicans, some for Democrats" by Jin Woo Kim in The Washington Post.
I recruited about 4,600 U.S. residents through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. ( founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)...
MTurk respondents are not representative of the U.S. population. To ensure that the findings were not driven by the younger and more well-educated people who tend to be overrepresented in the MTurk platform, I checked...
I won't copy the explanation of how he checked.
... Republican women supported the court more after Kavanaugh’s confirmation by nine percentage points, while Democratic women mistrusted it more by 11 percentage points. As a result, the gap between Republican and Democratic women increased from 15 to 34 points....

Because Republican and Democratic women’s views of the court changed by about the same amount in opposite directions, the average gender gap in views about the court remained roughly the same.

In short, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was indeed polarizing, as many predicted. But the most pronounced polarization was not between men and women, but between Republican women and non-Republican women.

The idea and the visual images of making soap from liposuctioned human fat is already there in the book and movie "Fight Club," so...

... is it anything at all for an artist to actually do it — make the soap and even sell what is actually usable soap?

Vice tells us that the artist, Julian Hetzel, is Dutch and got his human fat from plastic surgeons in the Netherlands and that the final soap product only has 10% human fat. The artist clumsily instructs us about the intended meaning of his product (which is called Schuldfabrik):
"We decided to work with fat as a material that represents guilt or that contains guilt and to understand, can this be used as a resource?... Can we use guilt as something productive? Can we profit from our own guilt? How to make money with guilt."
Is it guilt or shame that drives people to liposuction? I would have said shame. Maybe it's a bad translation from the Dutch. According to Wikipedia:
Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated a universal moral standard and bear significant responsibility for that violation.
Wikipedia illustrates the concept with this image:

That's "Soul in Bondage" by Elihu Vedder, a painting from the 1890s. Is that more helpful in understanding guilt than Hetzel's soap made from liposuctioned fat? Vedder's soul doesn't seem to have any ideas about how to use guilt as something productive or how to make money at all.

If you choose to respond to the artist's prompt and analyze the meaning of his making soap from human fat, please take into account the historical antecedents. Here's the Wikipedia article, "Soap made from human corpses." Excerpts:

October 30, 2018

At the Tuesday Café...


... you can talk about anything.

And think about using the old Althouse Portal to buy some things on Amazon.

The New Yorker presents a gloomy look ahead to the midterm elections.

It's a 9-panel comic by Ali Fitzgerald, "America!: A Pre-Midterm-Election Guide to Hibernation."

"'Bohemian Rhapsody,' the movie about Queen, lasts more than two hours, not a very long time by modern feature standards, even though it feels interminable."

"A baroque blend of gibberish, mysticism and melodrama, the film seems engineered to be as unmemorable as possible, with the exception of the prosthetic teeth worn by the lead actor, Rami Malek, who plays Freddie Mercury, Queen’s lead singer. Those choppers may give you nightmares. And some of you who venture into the theater will surely be inspired to exclaim 'Mama mia, let me go!'"

Writes A.O. Scott (NYT).

ADDED: Here's The New Yorker's Anthony Lane:
Extra teeth. That was the secret of Freddie Mercury, or, at any rate, of the singular sound he made. In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a new bio-pic about him, Mercury (Rami Malek) reveals all: “I was born with four more incisors. More space in my mouth, and more range.” Basically, he’s walking around with an opera house in his head. That explains the diva-like throb of his singing....

... Malek, mixing shyness with muscularity, and sporting a set of false teeth that would make Bela Lugosi climb back into his casket, spares nothing in his devotion to the Mercurial....

"Trump Arrives in Pittsburgh as Many Make Clear His Visit Isn’t Welcome."

NYT headline.
Their signs read “Words matter” and “President Hate is not welcome in our state.” Though some people in Pittsburgh have pushed back on the idea that Mr. Trump has fomented an atmosphere of social division, many protesters had no doubt of what one called “the dotted line” between presidential rhetoric and violence....

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leaders, [declined to accompany the President'.

“This is not about a conflict of schedule,” Ms. Pelosi said in an interview. “It is about leaving the people the peace that they need to bury the dead and mourn the loss. I don’t think it would have been welcome for us to go there. I think that when invited, we should respond. When told not to come, we should not... I don’t know that the president understands that his words weigh a ton, and when he says some of the things he says, they fall on ears that are more fragile,” Ms. Pelosi added.

Kanye West: "My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in."

"I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!"

Kanye all but says the culprit is ultra-conservative Candace Owens. He said, "I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they didn't want their name on it so she used mine. I never wanted any association with Blexit. I have nothing to do with it."

Owens had said, "Blexit [black exit from Democratic Party] is a renaissance and I'm blessed to say that this logo, these colors, were created by my dear friend and fellow superhero -- Kanye West."

"A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller..."

"... in the days leading up to the midterm elections—and the special counsel's office has asked the FBI to weigh in.... Mueller spokesman Peter Carr... confirmed that the allegations were brought to the office’s attention by several journalists, who were contacted by a woman who identified herself as Lorraine Parsons.... The woman identifying herself as Parsons told journalists in an email...  that she had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a firm called Surefire Intelligence—which had been hired by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman—'to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.'"

From "Mueller Wants the FBI to Look at a Scheme to Discredit Him/The special counsel says a woman was offered money to fabricate sexual-harassment claims" (The Atlantic).

"I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety.... I have ADHD, and it makes it hard for me to do certain tasks where the payoff is far off in the future or abstract."

"I don’t find [voting] intrinsically motivational. The amount of work logically isn’t that much: Fill out a form, mail it, go to a specific place on a specific day. But those kind of tasks can be hard for me to do if I’m not enthusiastic about it.... After 2016, a couple friends became a lot more politically active, and they helped me register and mail the form. So I actually am registered now. I’m leaning toward probably voting in the midterms. It feels like the reason to vote is symbolic. The motivation isn’t about the actual value my vote has; it’s more like a theoretical signaling value. If that’s the case, I would rather signal that Democrats should have more progressive candidates, rather than assuming that everyone on the left will automatically vote for the candidates they run...."

From "12 Young People on Why They Probably Won’t Vote" (New York Magazine).

"Republicans and Democrats Don’t Just Disagree About Politics. They Have Different Sexual Fantasies."

Writes Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute (at Politico). I'll just read this and see if it can help me decide once and for all if I'm really a Republican or a Democrat.
I surveyed 4,175 adult Americans from all 50 states about what turns them on and published the findings in a book entitled Tell Me What You Want....

While self-identified Republicans and self-identified Democrats reported fantasizing with the same average frequency—several times per week—I found that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to fantasize about a range of activities that involve sex outside of marriage. Think things like infidelity, orgies and partner swapping, from 1970s-style “key parties” to modern-day forms of swinging. Republicans also reported more fantasies with voyeuristic themes, including visiting strip clubs and practicing something known as “cuckolding,” which involves watching one’s partner have sex with someone else.

By contrast, self-identified Democrats were more likely than Republicans to fantasize about almost the entire spectrum of BDSM activities, from bondage to spanking to dominance-submission play. The largest Democrat-Republican divide on the BDSM spectrum was in masochism, which involves deriving pleasure from the experience of pain....

What connects Republicans and Democrats, I believe, is that their fantasies are at least partly driven by what they can’t have... Nothing makes us want to try something like being told you can’t do it. This is why taboos, no matter what they are, often become turn-ons...
Oh, he's coming at this from a completely different angle than I wanted! He's assuming that first, you commit to some values, like monogamy or equality, and then, after you've decided how you're supposed to be, you know what is transgressive, and that's what feels sexy so you go there with your fantasy. I thought the eroticism would come first, and you'd begin with some mysterious, bodily feeling for cuckolding or dominance, and your being that sort of person would explain what you found attractive in the Republican or Democratic party.

In that view, you could analyze the results to mean that people who get excited by a great variety of choices are also attuned to the Republican message of a free market and individual responsibility, and people who get excited by bondage and domination respond the the Democrats' offer of greater regulation and impositions from above about what you ought to be doing. I could see how, intellectually, you might say the Republicans have the better set of values but still find yourself getting excited by what the Democrats say they will do to you.

I've said enough!

"The Metro Madison School District has no budget for the next school year because the Board of Education was not allowed to get to its agenda."

"This Monday night (10-29-18) about 60 cop-hating, race-obsessed social justice warriors shut down the school board meeting," writes David Blaska.
Freedom Inc., International Socialists, and Progressive Dane flooded the zone with speaker after speaker F-bombing the school board, cops, Racist America, and white people in general. They mocked board president Mary Burke for mispronouncing difficult Hmong names scrawled on the speaker slips...
Mary Burke. You remember Mary Burke. 4 years ago she was the Democratic Party's nominee for Wisconsin governor.
The school board recessed in a futile attempt to restore order but after reconvening the Far-Left mob accelerated its tactics, marching down to the proscenium at the seven members (the eighth, a non-voting student rep), its superintendent and district counsel. They unfurled their banners, shouted their chants, and pounded their fists.

"A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs ⛰and skyscrapers🌆..."

"... but did you know that wind gusts can be FATAL??? ☠️ Is our life just worth one photo?... When we squirm at another selfie attempt gone south 😱 from a skyscraper, let’s remember to save that in our core memory 🧠 and not the memory dump 🛢(I am still on the Inside Out 🎬 train y'all 😬) Same"

It's holidaysandhappilyeverafters — Meenakshi Moorthy, 30, and Vishnu Viswanath, 29 — a married couple with a lovely Instagram account.

They have been identified as the bodies found at the bottom of a 3,500-foot cliff in Yosemite National Park, the NY Post reports.
“Diagnosed with the ‘curious case of interminable travel bug’ and a huge believer of ‘happily-ever-afters,’ we share with y’all our holiday escapades, travel hacks, tips (and quips!),” read a description of the couple’s blog, “Holidays & Happily Ever Afters.” “I will be also shining my pink light of positivity from time to time, on what can get use close to the ever elusive ‘happily-ever-afters,’ or whatever that sh-t means.”
ADDED: From the NBC report, here, I see that the bodies were found 800 feet below the lookout point. It wasn't a 3,500-foot fall. Also, the husband's brother "said the couple had set up their tripod near the ledge," which supports the inference that they were posing for a selfie (not deliberately leaping).

"Sorry for the delay, I got caught in traffic."

Condemned man's last words were that joke (after his execution was delayed for hours 6 hours pending the Court's final rejection of efforts to save him). There were also a few more words, thanking people, and "I love you, and I’ll meet you out there."


Drudge advises Fox News women to "Check your soul in the makeup chair!"

From the WaPo article about the tweets:
Drudge did not respond to multiple requests for comment late Monday night....

The Drudge Report... prominently featured links to news stories related to the segment and included an image of Campos-Duffy, who appears to be laughing. In all capital letters, the headline of one story on the site reads, “LAUGHTER, JOKES ON FOXNEWS SEGMENT ABOUT TERROR FALLOUT?” Beneath that is a brief three-word line linking to a story that included Fox’s response: “Network: Chyron error."...

Choking to death on pancakes in an amateur pancake eating contest and why the Heimlich maneuver and mechanical suction didn't work.

I'm reading "A college student choked to death during a pancake-eating contest. Now, her family is suing the school" (WaPo).
When police responded, they discovered [20-year-old Cailin] Nelson’s mouth “was compacted with pancakes almost to her teeth,” the lawsuit said. One officer said the “glob of pancake paste in her airway” was “‘like concrete.'”...

The lawsuit... called Nelson’s death “as foreseeable as it was horrific,” alleging the university is at fault for allowing the pancake-eating contest to happen.... Beyond the “inherent risks” of holding an eating contest with participants who are not professional speed eaters, the lawsuit also pointed out the “particular hazard of pancakes.”

Cooked pancakes, which largely consist of flour and liquid, turn into a “thick glob of paste” when they come into contact with saliva or other liquids, the lawsuit said.... “Once a person’s airway is obstructed by a glob of macerated pancake paste, rescue becomes exponentially more difficult,” the lawsuit said.
Nelson suffered severe brain damage and died "days later."

Should this be the end of amateur eating contests? Should it be the end of all contests where participants get carried away and go for the win without paying attention to what is happening within their own bodies?

Althouse's midterm exam is tough: It's about President Trump's executive order to end birthright citizenship.

The NYT reports.
President Trump said he was preparing an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States, his latest maneuver days before midterm congressional elections to activate his base by clamping down on immigrants and immigration....

At issue is the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states, 'All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.' But some conservatives have long made the argument that the amendment was meant to apply only to citizens and legal permanent residents, not immigrants who are present in the country without authorization....

"Now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,': Mr. Trump said.
There are 3 questions on the midterm exam:

1. Do you know the constitutional argument that the President can end birthright citizenship with an executive order? The answer is not: I know there is one or I read what the argument is and I understood it at the time. The question is: Do you know the argument? Did you read or hear the argument, understand it, and retain it, such that you could articulate it without looking it up again and you could explain it to someone else?

2. Drawing on your present knowledge or researching the argument and boning up on it, can you explain it to someone who is looking at that 14th Amendment text and who will expect you to adhere to an approach to constitutional interpretation that you apply to all the other text in the Constitution?

3. Do you think the argument will be accepted in court, and do you need the answer to be yes before you will support Trump's plan to sign this executive order or do you think signing the order is a good thing for Trump to do even if it will ultimately be rejected in court? Does the fact that Trump is announcing this one week before the midterms show that Trump's decision is based on a desire to affect what we're talking about this week, to redirect us away from right-wing terrorism and anti-Semitism and back to the Caravan and illegal immigration?

October 29, 2018

At the Moveable Feast Café...

"The people that I liked and had not met went to the big cafes because they were lost in them and no one noticed them and they could be alone in them and be together" ― Ernest Hemingway.

(Open thread.)

The courage to @.

Blame Trump and Trump blames you.

He won't quiet down:
Despite calls for him to cool his overheated rhetoric after the deadly synagogue shooting and pipe bomb mailings, President Trump on Monday continued his assault on the “Fake News Media” by continuing to accuse them of stoking rage.

“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

“That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!,” the president posted, just two days after 11 people were gunned down by a man yelling “all Jews must die” at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
The "calls for him to cool his overheated rhetoric" are what I've been calling "civility bullshit" for years. It's always only aimed at the other side. They want you to stop fighting them with vigor, and they have no intention of stopping fighting you. Trump obviously know this and can't be played. You might think just this once — because 11 people were massacred — he'd go presidential, bow his head, and sing "Amazing Grace," but his opponents didn't refrain from closing right in on him and kicking him, and he kicks back.

"We thought we could control it. And this is beyond our power to control. This is going straight to the pleasure centers of the developing brain. This is beyond our capacity as regular parents to understand."

"This is scar tissue talking. We’ve made every mistake in the book, and I think we got it wrong with some of my kids. We glimpsed into the chasm of addiction, and there were some lost years, which we feel bad about."

Said Chris Anderson (chief executive of a robotics and drone company and a former editor of Wired), quoted in "A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley/'I am convinced the devil lives in our phones'" (NYT).

I grew up with television, which was the screen-devil back then. I'm not sure how horribly it ruined me for this world, but I cannot remember one word from my parents about how much TV it was okay to watch. How about you? Did your parents get on your case about "screen time" (or whatever it would have been called back then)? I experienced the extreme of libertarian parents: We had freedom and we were supposed to figure out how to make our own choices about what seemed like everything. If there was a point where they would have stepped in and said "Not that" or "Too much," I never hit it.

Here we go again: "Let’s name names."

Jennifer Rubin in WaPo: "Enough platitudes: Let’s name names."

If you forget the past, you can reuse the old slogans.

IN THE COMMENTS: James K is first to embarrass Rubin by quoting her "Surely logarithms exist to detect the lion’s share of racist and anti-Semitic material..."


Henry says:
Surely logarithms exist to detect the lion’s share of racist and anti-Semitic material

How about thermometers? Surely thermometers exist that will do that?

Algorithm. Logarithm. Whatever it takes.
Edmund, accepting that Rubin meant algorithms, said:
First, no there aren't such algorithms that don't also punish satire, commentary, or legitimate speech. Second, they have hired some people to police things and we have found that they tend to ban/suspend mainstream conservatives, not just extremists. Third, twitter is barely profitable - they made their first profit last year after 12 years in the red. Profits seem to be about $400 million/year. So at $25/hr salary and $75/hr total cost (for bare-bones benefits and facilities), that's about 5 million hours of labor, or about 2400 people. To police 335 million users across the world. Facebook has a lot more profit and might be able to set up a more robust audit scheme, but as I said above "Who will watch the guardians?"
UPDATE: WaPo eventually changed "logarithms" to "algorithms."