December 1, 2018

At the Crying Rat Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)


I'm talking about paralipsis over at Facebook with my son John. He'd posted this fascinating Trump clip...

... and this discussion ensued (click to enlarge and sharpen):

At that Wiktionary link:
paralipsis... A figure of speech in which one pretends to ignore or omit something by actually mentioning it.

New word, just learned: "Euhemerism."

"Euhemerism is an approach to the interpretation of mythology in which mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages. Euhemerism supposes that historical accounts become myths as they are exaggerated in the retelling, accumulating elaborations and alterations that reflect cultural mores. It was named for the Greek mythographer Euhemerus, who lived in the late 4th century BC...."

I got to that Wikipedia article from Samson, where I had gone to read about the famous haircut:
[Samson] tells Delilah that God supplies his power because of his consecration to God as a Nazirite, symbolized by the fact that a razor has never touched his head, and that if his hair is cut off he will lose his strength.

Delilah then woos him to sleep "in her lap" and calls for a servant to cut his hair. Samson loses his strength and he is captured by the Philistines who blind him by gouging out his eyes. They then take him to Gaza, imprison him, and put him to work turning a large millstone and grinding corn.
I was thinking about Samson's haircut because of something I saw in an old episode of "Friends." As you may remember, I'm working my way through a box set of the complete episodes of "Friends" and I ran into the one with Chandler's third nipple, which is not the official title of the episode. After a woman with one leg freaks out at his extra body part, he has it surgically excised, and then when somebody else makes a joke, he says, "That was an obvious joke, and I didn’t think of it. Why didn’t I think of it? The source of all my powers. Oh dear God, what have I done!"

Samson, according to the Wikipedia article, is sometimes thought of as "a euhemerized solar deity," because his "name is derived from the Hebrew word šemeš, meaning 'sun,'" and that "his long hair might represent the sun's rays."

Invisible fruit that I've encountered in the last few days, reading 2 of my favorite writers.

This is from Jonathan Franzen's novel "The Corrections" (2001):
His body was what she’d always wanted. It was the rest of him that was the problem. She was unhappy before she went to visit him, unhappy while she sat beside him, and unhappy for hours afterward. He’d entered a phase of deep randomness. Enid might arrive and find him sunk deeply in a funk, his chin on his chest and a cookie-sized drool spot on his pants leg. Or he might be chatting amiably with a stroke victim or a potted plant. He might be unpeeling the invisible piece of fruit that occupied his attention hour after hour. He might be sleeping. Whatever he was doing, though, he wasn’t making sense.
This is from "Barn Burning" — published in 1992 in The New Yorker (and adapted in the current movie "Burning") — by Haruki Murakami:
Young women these days are all studying something or other. But she didn't seem the type who'd be serious about perfecting a skill.

Then she showed me the Tangerine Peeling.... On her left was a bowl piled high with tangerines, on her right, a bowl for the peels. At least that was the idea — actually there wasn't anything there at all. She'd take the imaginary tangerine in her hand, slowly peel it, put one section in her mouth, and spit out the seeds. When she finished one tangerine, she'd wrap up all the seeds in the peel and deposit it in the bowl to her right. She repeated these movements over and over again. When you try to put it in words, it doesn't sound like anything special. But if you see it with your own eyes for ten or twenty minutes... gradually the sense of reality is sucked right out of everything around you....

"It's easy. Has nothing to do with talent. What you do isn't make yourself believe there are tangerines there. You forget that the tangerines are not there. That's all."
 I find chance repetition like this satisfying. I forget that any reason for it is not there.

"The passing of the former president had raised the thorny question of whether Mr. Trump would come to the funeral."

"Senator John McCain, another stalwart of a past Republican generation, made a point of excluding Mr. Trump from his funeral in September, but Mr. Bush was known for New England gentility and seemed less likely to want to make such a statement. It is traditional for the incumbent president to speak at services for a former president, although there have been exceptions."

From "Trump Offers Praise for Bush and Will Attend the Funeral" (NYT).

I can't believe this was a question at all, let alone a "thorny question." All the living Presidents attend the funeral of a dead President. It would be an unfathomable breach of etiquette to demand that he stay away.

"The 1988 campaign was anything but kind and gentle. There was the racially charged Willie Horton ad, in which Bush attacked Michael Dukakis’s furlough program for Massachusetts prisoners."

"Bush’s opponents—and some of his friends—thought that he had cheapened himself in the bare-knuckled grasp of his young campaign manager, Lee Atwater. The opponents acted surprised, claimed they were disappointed in him, as if anyone ever got that far in the game without playing rough. (Al Gore had first gone after the furlough program, albeit without mentioning Horton, when running against Dukakis in the primaries.) Bush’s foes derided his résumé as a sort of gilded joke, reciting all the appointive offices he’d briefly held—U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Republican National Committee chairman, U.S. Special Representative to China, C.I.A. director—as if they were a string of presents meted out to some trust-fund boy who’d done nothing to earn them. In fact, Bush rose in the Party because of electoral, not appointive, politics. And he rose, curiously enough, by losing—twice, in Senate runs in a still-blue Texas, in 1964 and 1970.... Even when he tried to kick ass with the silver foot supposedly lodged in his mouth from birth, there remained an irreducible niceness to him, an appealing mixture of noblesse oblige, boy-next-door bonhomie, and parody-begging goofiness—'the vision thing.'... [K]inder and gentler was actually profound...."

From "The Irreducible Niceness of George H.W. Bush" by Thomas Mallon in The New Yorker.

Also in that article — a quote from Richard Nixon: "George is such a sweet guy."

Analyzing idiolects.

So much great stuff in that, including John Wayne not even trying to talk like Genghis Khan but just doing what I assume is the only reason they made that Genghis Khan movie, being John Wayne. Virtually everything else is actors doing a fantastic job, and Erik Singer (a dialogue coach) talks about exactly what they are doing. Personally, I dislike biopics, and I find accurate copying of speech patterns too distracting. I'd rather see documentary footage of the real person. That is, I find it impossible to put up with more than a half minute of Natalie Portman talking like Jackie Kennedy. But I like when the actor chooses some things to copy and then brings something new to understanding the famous person — like Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan.

AND: Here's more of Singer doing his thing (haven't watched this one yet):

Maybe it’s just me, but I thought Eisenberg was the best there. The others, no matter how accurate, sound like mimicry. He was playing a character and bringing out the arrogance, assorificery, and brilliance very naturally and convincingly.
I agree.

I singled out Blanchett, above, but while writing about what she did I was also thinking about how Eisenberg did Zuckerberg. It's an even better example of of what I'm talking about. Maybe I'll watch that movie ("Social Network"). I've seen so few of the movies Singer analyzes, because I don't like biopics and I love documentaries.

"The prospect of genetically eliminating crippling diseases is certainly appealing, but this promise masks a darker reality."

"First, there is a difference between genetic engineering and the extremely promising field of gene therapy, in which doctors use CRISPR technology to repair the DNA of defective nonreproductive cells -- allowing them to treat cancer, genetic disorders and other diseases. In gene therapy, the genetic changes affect only the patient. In genetic engineering, scientists alter the entire genetic structure of the resulting human being -- changes that are then passed on to future generations. Playing with humanity's genetic code could open a Pandora's box. Scientists will eventually be able to alter DNA not just to protect against disease but also to create genetically enhanced human beings. The same techniques that can eliminate muscular dystrophy might also be used to enhance muscles to improve strength or speed. Techniques used to eliminate dementia may also be harnessed to enhance memory and cognition. This would have profound societal implications...."

"Gene editing is here. It's an enormous threat" by Mark Thiessen (reprinted at Fox News, originally in WaPo).

"Unlike Unesco’s World Heritage List, which includes sites considered important to humanity like the pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the Taj Mahal in India, the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity..."

"... documents elements and practices of different cultures that are deserving of recognition. Another, Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, includes endangered elements of a culture that are at risk of fading away. Reggae, which rose to prominence in the 1960s, often celebrates Jah, or God; ganja, or marijuana; and Ras Tafari, also known as Haile Selassie, the former Ethiopian emperor, whom Rastafarians revere as the messiah. It is also meant to put listeners in a calm groove."

From "Reggae Music Is Added to Unesco Cultural Heritage List" (NYT).

I'd never noticed the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, and it's interesting to think that part of humanity's cultural heritage involves putting us humans in "a calm groove."

What else is on that list — and what else has gained this stature by putting us in a calm groove? Here's the Wikipedia article about the list. It says there were 429 things on the list as of 2017.

Also on the list: Oxherding and oxcart traditions in Costa Rica, Cultural Space of the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Congos of Villa Mella, Opera dei Pupi (Sicilian Puppet Theatre), the Hudhud Chants of the Ifugao, Xooy (a divination ceremony among the Serer of Senegal), the manufacture of cowbells (in Portugal), Al Azi (the art of performing praise, pride and fortitude poetry in the United Arab Emirates), the coaxing ritual for camels (in Mongolia).

Here are the 31 things added to the list this year, including reggae, which is described officially without mentioning marijuana:
Originating within the cultural space of marginalized groups, mainly in Western Kingston, the Reggae Music of Jamaica combines musical influences from earlier Jamaican forms as well as Caribbean, North American and Latin strains. Its basic functions as a vehicle of social commentary, as a cathartic experience, and means of praising God remain unchanged, and the music continues to provide a voice for all. Students are taught how to play it from an early age, and festivals and concerts are central to ensuring its viability.
We often speak of the "drug culture," and I don't think UNESCO wants to recognize drug use as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, but it is.

President George H.W. Bush has died.

(Screenshot from Drudge.)

ADDED: I have a feeling that tributes to H.W. are going to say negative things about Trump — those were the days, when Republicans had class and kindness — but here's Trump:

November 30, 2018

At the Rattatz Café...


... skitter wherever you like.


Do these kids today accept "Seinfeld"?

"Payless Opened a Fake Luxury Store, ‘Palessi,’ to See How Much People Would Pay for $20 Shoes."

Ad Week reports:
[Payless]... invited groups of influencers to the grand opening of “Palessi” and asked their opinions on the “designer” wares. Party goers, having no idea they were looking at discount staples from the mall scene, said they’d pay hundreds of dollars for the stylish shoes, praising the look, materials and workmanship. Top offer: $640, which translates to an 1,800 percent markup, and Palessi sold about $3,000 worth of product in the first few hours of the stunt.

Payless, or “Palessi,” did ring up those purchases but didn’t keep the money. Influencers got their cash back, along with free shoes. Their reactions caught in the short- and longer-form ads—those shocked “gotcha” moments—are fairly priceless....
Here's one of the amusing ads:

I find it hard to believe people fell for this. I think you can see and feel the difference between cheap and expensive shoes. And what exactly makes these people "influencers"? Is it that they lend themselves to promotions? But the ads are excellent — excellent for the Trump era, because aren't these the kind of people Trump fans enjoy laughing at?

ADDED: I'm sure this ad idea has been used many times, but I'm thinking about Folger's Crystals. Here's one example from what was a long running series:

"For centuries in China, the phrase 'four generations under one roof' was synonymous with the ideal family."

"In just a few short words, it encapsulated the dreams of fertility, longevity, and harmony to which hundreds of millions of Chinese aspired. Today, however, the country’s traditional, tight-knit family unit is under siege from a combination of declining birth rates, delayed marriages, and domestic migration. No demographic has been harder-hit by these changes than the 240 million Chinese over the age of 60. A recently published report estimates that as of 2016, the number of elderly Chinese living apart from their children had ballooned to 118 million....  [I]f the government really wants to improve the mental health of its older citizens, it must find ways to reduce the number of solitary and empty-nest elderly.... One important step forward would be to amend the country’s existing hukou household registration system. Originally designed to keep urban and rural residents in their respective places, the system now effectively works to keep the elderly — many of whom are limited to rural hukou — from joining their children in the city... Action should also be taken to address concerns over skyrocketing rents and housing costs. It is not realistic to expect young Chinese couples to bring their parents under their roofs when they can only afford to live in tiny studio apartments."

From "How China Can Help Its Empty-Nest Seniors/With millions of elderly Chinese now living alone, it’s incumbent upon the state to give them a better life" (Sixth Tone).

Fantastic face transplant.

Ironically, it's sexist to think there is something wrong with a dress.

"The problem is Mueller is straying away from his mandate to find crime and he is now looking for political sin."

"Building buildings in Moscow, using stolen material from Assange. These are not crimes. He has no authority to be a roving commissioner to find political sins. So far, I don’t see any evidence of crimes except for ones that he helped to facilitate by getting people to lie in front of his own investigators."

Said Alan Dershowitz to Sean Hannity, quoted (with video) at Mediaite.

"Well, now, there’s Buster Keaton. I thought he was visually thrilling, and very sophisticated: more about women than about men. He lets you read a lot into things."

"You’re left with so much to decide. And then there was a woman in Santa Ana, an incredible woman, an artist. She was mysterious. She loved a lot of things that weren’t yet open to me. And then, gosh, a woman I met once when I was looking for an apartment who claimed that her husband had invented the tea bag. . . Well. And then my family. We’re very close to each other. My sister Dorrie looks like an Eskimo. And then Woody, of course."

So said Diane Keaton, in 1978, when The New Yorker's Penelope Gilliatt asked her to name 3 people who have influenced her the most in life.

Why am I reading that this morning? I was having a conversation about an old episode of "Friends" ("The One Where Monica and Richard Are Friends") and — because there's a scene in a video store — I got to thinking about a scene in a bookstore in "Annie Hall":

A scene in a bookstore (or a video store, if the show is set in the fleeting video-store era) can take advantage of the books (or movies) at hand to develop the characters. Looking for that bookstore scene, I was googling for "Annie Hall" and "cats" (because I remembered that Allen's character disapproves of her interest in a book about cats and insists on buying her the first of many books he would buy her with the word "death" in the title).

The old New Yorker article happened to contain the word "cats" (because Gilliatt describes Keaton's NYC apartment, replete with cats). Not what I was looking for, but I got interested in reading Gilliatt, whose articles I loved reading in the 70s. Imagine encountering a paragraph like this today:

"White liberals dumb themselves down when they speak to black people, a new study contends."

WaPo reports on a new study by Cydney Dupree, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, and Susan Fiske, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton:
You have recently joined a book club.

Before each meeting, one member of the literary collective sends an email to the club secretary offering a few thoughts on the assigned text. This month, it’s your turn to compose the brief review.

A new study suggests that the words you use may depend on whether the club secretary’s name is Emily (“a stereotypically White name,” as the study says) or Lakisha (“a stereotypically Black name”). If you’re a white liberal writing to Emily, you might use words like “melancholy” or “euphoric” to describe the mood of the book, whereas you might trade these terms out for the simpler “sad” or “happy” if you’re corresponding with Lakisha.

But if you’re a white conservative, your diction won’t depend on the presumed race of your interlocutor....
The social psychologists call what liberals do a "competence downshift."
“White liberals may unwittingly draw on negative stereotypes, dumbing themselves down in a likely well-meaning, ‘folksy,’ but ultimately patronizing, attempt to connect with the outgroup,” argues the paper, titled “Self-Presentation in Interracial Settings: The Competence Downshift by White Liberals.”...

“It’s somewhat counterintuitive,” said Dupree, who is the lead author and whose research was supported by the National Science Foundation as well as by Princeton’s Joint Degree Program in Social Policy. “The idea that people who are most well-intentioned toward racial minorities, the people actually showing up and wanting to forge these connections, they’re the ones who seem to be drawing on stereotypes to do so.”
Was there a scientific study done that determined that liberals are more "well-intentioned" than conservatives? I mean, it wouldn't be "counterintuitive" if you abandoned the prejudgment about who means well and who does not. And what does it really mean to say people have good intentions? When you show up to help, you're displaying the belief that help is needed. When you stand back, it might not be because you don't care. It could be that you think other people are able to handle their own life.
[W]hite liberals are “concerned about appearing racist”... Dupree said. In their role as “impression managers,” white liberals may even take on the negative stereotypes they harbor toward people of other races, in an effort, as the paper puts it, to “get on their level.”

Their conservative counterparts, meanwhile, appear not to employ these stereotypes in the same way, as Dupree said, because, “We know empirically that white conservatives are less likely to be interested in getting along with racial minorities.”...
We know empirically.... I know "empirically" — or is it intuitively? — not to trust studies by social psychologists, but I must say that when the results make liberals look bad, I'm more likely to believe that the social psychologists are onto something and to suspect that they are framing the results as well as they can to make liberals look better than conservatives: Liberals are racists because they care and they're trying so hard to make a connection and surely if conservatives weren't so awful they'd be just as racist.

"Lady Gaga’s ‘Shallow’ From ‘A Star Is Born’ Looks Unbeatable for Best Original Song."

A headline I'm blogging only because the first 2 posts of the day suggest the theme is "shallow." I googled the word "shallow," and until just now I had no idea it was the title of song that is phenomenally popular right now.

The linked article has something like a spoiler about this movie I don't care about:
But the biggest story about “Shallow” is how it evolved from a song about drowning and transcendence into the powerful anthem about love and filling the void personally and professionally. “Gaga was writing from the standpoint of Ally as an end credit song, because in the original script Bradley’s character drowns,” said co-writer Mark Ronson.
So... if you're in water, drowning, but it's shallow water... stand up and walk out. But I'm reading the lyrics, and "shallow" appears in only in the negative: "I'm off the deep end... We're far from the shallow now."

"The concept is admittedly shallow and heteronormative, verging on dystopian."

"One of the greatest joys of my life is watching the British reality television program 'Love Island,' a daily show in which six men and six women are placed in a luxury island villa, filmed constantly and encouraged to fall in love. The couple that wins the heart of the United Kingdom wins 50,000 British pounds."

From "Marooned on ‘Love Island’/When a medical crisis asks a young woman to confront the messier aspects of love, she plunges into a reality TV version of romance" (NYT).

"T.M. Landry, a school in small-town Louisiana, has garnered national attention for vaulting its underprivileged black students to elite colleges. But the school cut corners and doctored college applications."

An exposé in the NYT. It ends:
“Write whatever you want to write about us on the negative side,” Mr. Landry told a reporter. “But at the end of the day, my sister, if we got kids at Harvard every day, I’m going to fight for Harvard. Why is it O.K. that Asians get to Harvard? Why is it O.K. that white people get to Harvard?”

Mr. Landry raised his voice. He accused The Times of saying that it was wrong for T.M. Landry to want the best for its black students. He told his students that he would always fight for them. “We need the haters,” he said. “I welcome the haters.”

He raised his arms on either side of him, forming a cross.

“My name is Michael Landry. I am the reformer,” he said. “They killed Jesus Christ because he could save the world. I say to myself, who are you compared to Jesus? Nothing! So I stick my arms out and say nail me to the cross if that’s what you want.”
Landry then goes into a practiced routine with the group of students he brought to his interview with the NYT. He calls out the language and they say "I love you" in that language. The final language is "Mike-a-nese!" (that is, Michael Landry's own language) and the students say "I love you" in "Mike-a-nese," which is: "Kneel!" Elsewhere in the article, we learn that he says he has the children kneel for 5 minutes at most to learn humility, but there are also stories of students kneeling for 2 hours and students "forced to kneel on rice, rocks and hot pavement."

This is a private school, with high tuition, in Louisiana. You may have enjoyed some of the videos of students from this school opening acceptance letters from, say, Harvard. Millions have shallowly warmed themselves watching that infectious propaganda.

November 29, 2018

At the Thursday Night Café...

... you can talk all you want.

And here's the Althouse Portal to Amazon, in case you need to buy something.

Oreo beer.

It's Double Dunk — Imperial Stout with Oreo:
[I]t’s not like I didn’t know there were Oreo stouts. But I didn’t know there was going to be a packaged Oreo stout. It’s not the kind of thing to which Oreo’s parent company, Mondelez, would typically give its imprimatur. It’s the kind of beer a brewery would do as a taproom or event one-off, like The Bruery did with its Pure Oreo Black Tuesday variant back in 2014. You run it through a Randall infusion kit; you don’t run it by TTB for label approval.... Now, I’m no lawyer. I can’t say if it’s kosher with Mondelez that Prairie used the word “Oreo” on the label....

The first impression of Double Dunk was that the body of this beer was pastry stout legit, oily thick and rich. The second impression was that the 11.9% alcohol by volume was not shy.... And the third impression was that holy cow, this was actually a competently-made imperial stout that just happened to have a bunch of Oreos thrown into it....

"It crept up so slowly that I didn't know anything was wrong - I just thought I was putting on timber."

"I've been with my partner Jamie Gibbins for 10 years and we did wonder a few times if I was pregnant - but we did home tests and they always ruled it out.... Looking at me, anyone would have thought I was nine months gone."

Said , quoted in "Woman's ovarian cyst 'weight of seven newborn babies'" (BBC).
"I was lying there with Jamie beside me as the radiologist moved the [sonogram] probe over my tummy. I saw her eyes widen in horror, but the screen was just blank. The look on her face said it all - something was wrong, and when she said she had to get a consultant I started to panic. Jamie did his best to reassure me but I felt paralysed with fear... [The consultant] told me I wasn't fat all - I was actually quite thin."...

The cyst was finally removed in March last year, and was revealed to be 26kg the weight of a seven or eight-year-old child - or seven average-sized newborn babies.
This happened not in what we traditionally call the "third world," but in Swansea, Wales. The BBC, which I've tended to think of as a high-quality news operation, presents this — with photographs — as just a weird human interest story. There isn't a word about how access to health care in the UK can be this bad.

"The eccentric hedge fund manager, whose friends included former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew, was also suspected of trafficking minor girls..."

"... often from overseas, for sex parties at his other homes in Manhattan, New Mexico and the Caribbean, FBI and court records show. Facing a 53-page federal indictment, [Jeffrey] Epstein could have ended up in federal prison for the rest of his life. But on the morning of the breakfast meeting, a deal was struck — an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved. Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes, according to a Miami Herald examination of thousands of emails, court documents and FBI records.... As part of the arrangement, [Miami prosecutor Alexander] Acosta agreed, despite a federal law to the contrary, that the deal would be kept from the victims. As a result, the non-prosecution agreement was sealed until after it was approved by the judge, thereby averting any chance that the girls — or anyone else — might show up in court and try to derail it. This is the story of how Epstein, bolstered by unlimited funds and represented by a powerhouse legal team, was able to manipulate the criminal justice system, and how his accusers, still traumatized by their pasts, believe they were betrayed by the very prosecutors who pledged to protect them..."

From "How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime" by Julie K. Brown (Miami Herald). Acosta is now the Secretary of Labor. Acosta did not respond to inquiries about this article, but in 2011, he is said to have "explain[ed] that he was unduly pressured by Epstein’s heavy-hitting lawyers — [Jay] Lefkowitz, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt, and Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton’s sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky."

Begging Michael Bloomberg — who just gave $80 million to the Democratic Party — to run for President but as a Republican.

I'm reading "Yes, Mike, run — as a Republican: If Bloomberg tries to become President as a Democrat, it'll backfire" by David Freelander (Daily News). I wonder who it will "backfire" on? You can't know what the "backfire" is unless you know what way he's aiming the metaphorical gun.
But if Bloomberg really wants to put the billion or so he can spend on a presidential run to good use, he will turn in his new party membership, re-register as a Republican, and do battle with Trump in the GOP primary, not the Democratic one.
"Good use"? It depends on Bloomberg's conception of the good.
Bloomberg... combines the liberal social views of a wealthy Manhattanite (pro-gay rights, anti-gun, pro-charter school and so on) with the economic views of, well, a wealthy Manhattanite (pro-immigration, pro-trade, pro-corporation), at a time when the party is powered by a young, diverse and populist cohort and trying to figure out how to regain its appeal among lunch-bucket voters in the Heartland.
So? There are a lot of people who sometimes vote Democratic who'd like an option like that. In fact, it was the option the Democratic Party chose to nominate the last time around. By the way, I haven't seen the term "lunch-bucket voters" in a long time. It's funny to be touting the young and using such an old-time-y expression. What percentage of living Americans possess an object they call a "lunch bucket"? Even the most lunch-bucket-y item on Amazon is called a "lunch box."

Back to Freelander:
Bloomberg gave as a reason for his party switch that the GOP was out of step on his issues: on climate change, gay marriage and guns.... It is almost inconceivable that Mike Bloomberg would win, and go on to be the Republican nominee. He is surely unwilling to stoop to Trump’s level to win over his base. But it is almost inconceivable that he would win the Democratic nomination either. Far more likely is that his money weakens the eventual Democratic nominee. Bloomberg says that Trump must be stopped at all costs; far better, in that case, that his dollars and his candidacy go to weaken the eventual Republican one.
I can see why many Democrats would like Bloomberg to spend his money weakening Trump in the primaries, but how is he a credible candidate after giving all the support to the Democrats? I guess he could say he's just anti-Trump and helping Democrats take over the House was the most effective anti-Trump strategy in 2018. He can say he stands for a good set of values that either party would be wise to adopt, and then the question becomes what's the best strategy for his set of values in 2020. Is it wearing down Trump in the primaries and allowing the "young, diverse and populist cohort" of Democrats to come up with what they can without having to fight Bloomberg? Or is it vying for the Democratic nomination? Freelander says that winning either party's nomination is "almost inconceivable." But Trump's 2016 victory was not just "almost inconceivable." It was inconceivable! Bloomberg is way richer than Trump, and Trump already showed that bizarre billionaire dreams really do come true.

"So this is Fake Moos?"

A perfect comment on "Meet Knickers, the giant cow that is neither a cow nor a giant" (WaPo).

I don't know if you've been following this minor internet craze, but there's a steer in Australia that looks very large. The truth is that "Knickers is not a cow but a steer, and that males are typically quite a bit larger than females" an it's a Holstein standing around with some wagyu cattle, so it's a large breed seen in contrast to a small breed.

"Ordinarily I wouldn’t condone making fun of a person’s physical appearance, but in Hyde-Smith’s case I’m willing to make an exception. 'Tiny racist teeth.'"

The second-highest-rated comment on "'Tiny racist teeth': Amy Schumer responds to Hyde-Smith’s victory with video of herself vomiting" (WaPo).

Once you make an exception, the whole principle is shot. But say something unpleasant about Amy Schumer's appearance at your own risk. Okay, I will. I'll make the observation I've made before, because it's so specific and uncanny: She looks like Rush Limbaugh.

"There are, of course, other life forms that do their 'thinking' with parts other than brains, but these tend to be sponges, scallops and..."

"... the slime mold that re-created a map of the Tokyo subway system — not exactly a desirable cohort in which the president has placed himself. Or perhaps [Trump] is claiming to be an evolutionary throwback. Anthropologists’ 'expensive-tissue hypothesis' posits that as animals’ guts got smaller, their brains got bigger. If Trump’s gut remains so prominent, might his brain be smaller than his hands? But Trump isn’t wrong to say his belly has brains. Researchers have found that bacteria in the gut send signals to the mind about what to eat, for example. I undertook a gut check on Trump with Braden Kuo, a director of the Center for Neurointestinal Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, and he told me the large number of neurons and neurotransmitters in the gut make it a sort of 'second brain.' This is why people eat comfort food when sad or get butterflies when anxious. 'A lot of our emotions, how we feel things, comes from nerve endings in our gut,' he says.... Bandy X. Lee, the Yale University psychiatrist who has sounded the alarm about the president’s mental functioning, thinks Trump’s preference for his gut is a rare moment of self-awareness. When Trump talks about his gut, she says, he’s really referring to his 'primitive brain' — from which a rush of emotion is 'overcoming him so he’s not able to access his actual intellect.'"

Dana Milbank endeavors to digest Trump's many reference to his "gut," in "Does Trump’s great gut mean a tiny brain?" (WaPo). This isn't about the size of his belly, but about his rhetoric — stuff like "They’re making a mistake... because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me" and "I know it better than anybody knows it, and my gut has always been right."

Film critic David Edelstein is fired from NPR's "Fresh Air" after he tweets a short butter joke on the occasion of the death of Bernardo Bertolucci.

The joke — accompanied by a photo of the famous scene in Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris" — was "Even grief is better with butter."

We're told, in the Hollywood Reporter, that there was "a backlash, which included actress Martha Plimpton." I can't see who other than Martha Plimpton wanted Edelstein fired for making a joke about the butter in that movie. That was such a common topic for humor when that movie came out. I still remember how one of my friends delivered her opinion of the movie: "It was excellent, albeit butter-covered." It was such a thing to connect Bertolucci with butter that if I'd written that modern "Dictionary of Received Ideas" I used to talk about, if I'd thought to put in an entry for Bertolucci, it would have been: Say something about butter.

So how did Edelstein go wrong? The movie has a man (Marlon Brando) and a woman (Maria Schneider) struggling through a sexual relationship, and in the "butter scene," the man tells the woman to get butter, which he uses as a lubricant for anal intercourse. I don't think any mainstream movie had ever had an explicit reference to anal intercourse, and here it was on screen, presumably simulated.

You might imagine that the problem with Edelstein's tweet was that it was too lighthearted, when a man had just died. But that wouldn't get you fired — Edelstein has done hundreds of film reviews on "Fresh Air" — and that probably wouldn't put a Hollywood actress into such a state of hostility.

But perhaps you remember what Maria Schneider said about what was done to her. As Hollywood Reporter puts it:
Schneider said in a 2007 interview that the simulated sex scene was unscripted and that she felt bullied by Bertolucci and unsupported by her co-star Marlon Brando. "I was crying real tears," said the actress, who died in 2011.
Edelstein says he didn't "didn't know the real-life story about Maria Schneider" and he didn't remember the scene as showing a rape. And he apologized:
"The line was callous and wrong even if it had been consensual, but given that it wasn't I'm sick at the thought of how it read and what people logically conclude about me. I have never and would never make light of rape, in fiction or in reality."
Is it believable that a big film critic like Edelstein missed the stories about Maria Schneider? I don't follow movies that closely, but I have 3 blog posts about Schneider's charges against Bertolucci, the third of which, from December 2016, has Bertolucci acknowledging the truth of what Schneider said:
"I wanted her to react humiliated. I think she hated me and also Marlon because we didn't tell her... to obtain something I think you have to be completely free. I didn't want Maria to act her humiliation, her rage, I wanted her to Maria to feel ... the rage and humiliation. Then she hated me for all of her life."
Bertolucci said he wanted "her reaction as a girl, not as an actress." Brando went along with this. He was 48. She was 19.

From the NYT obituary for Maria Schneider:
The role fixed Ms. Schneider in the public mind as a figurehead of the sexual revolution, and she spent years trying to move beyond the role, and the public fuss surrounding it.... “I wanted to be recognized as an actress, and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown. Now, though, I can look at the film and like my work in it.”

The famous butter scene, she said, was not in the script and made it into the film only at Brando’s insistence. “I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci,” she said. “After the scene, Marlon didn’t console me or apologize. Thankfully, there was just one take.”
How guilty is David Edelstein? He's at least guilty of not paying enough attention to the culture to have noticed and remembered this story. Why should people who listen to NPR receive his — rather than somebody else's — opinion of the various new movies that come out over the years? Why should we listen to any critic — or any radio show? I know why I'd listen to the radio show "Fresh Air" — because Terry Gross is a fantastic interviewer. Some movie critic gets to ride in her vehicle? That person is damned lucky. Should it be David Edelstein, a man who did not know of or remember what happened to Maria Schneider? Why didn't he notice? Why didn't it make an impression? Why is he so inattentive to the sexual abuse of actresses by powerful men — by Marlon Brando?!

ADDED: Here's the Martha Plimpton tweet:

ALSO:Last year, Edelstein got feminist grief over his review of "Wonder Woman." Here's his self-defense (in New York Magazine):

November 28, 2018

At the Odnecserc Café...


... make some noise.

(And use the Althouse Portal to Amazon if you're in the mood to buy anything.)

"Manafort spoke to Julian Assange/Elvis's hair was black but mine's orange."

Jimmy Fallon has some fun with Trump's recent statement, "Other than the blonde hair when I was growing up, they said I looked like Elvis."

I love the discovery of a new rhyme for "orange," but you have to say "orange" like it's French:

And here's "Assange, Manafort Deny Report They Met. The White House Declined To Address It" (NPR)(quoting a Wikileaks tweet, "Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper's reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange").

"Judd’s opinions on sex work should be given as much time and space as the Pope’s opinions on period cramps."

Said Kate D’Adamo, a sex-worker rights advocate, quoted in "Ashley Judd’s Anti-Prostitution Crusade Angers Sex Workers: ‘You Are Harming People’/The actress and #MeToo trailblazer has come under fire from sex workers for her broad anti-prostitution platform" (HuffPo).

Quote from Judd: "I believe body invasion is indeed inherently harmful, and cash is the proof of coercion. Buying sexual access commodifies something that is beyond the realm of capitalism and entrepreneurship: girls and women’s orfices [sic]."

"The son of a doctor who fled China during the Cultural Revolution, Chau had been fascinated with the outdoors since he pulled a dusty copy of 'Robinson Crusoe' off his father’s bookshelf as a child…"

"He later read the novel 'The Sign of the Beaver,' about a boy who is left alone and guards his family’s log cabin with the help of a Native American friend. That book 'inspired my brother and I to paint our faces with wild blackberry juice and to tramp through our backyard with bows and spears we created from sticks,' Chau recalled…. 'He lost his mind, definitely,' [said an acquaintance]. 'But ask any adventurer. You have to lose your mind a little bit, otherwise you don’t do it.'"

From "'He lost his mind': Slain missionary John Allen Chau planned for years to convert remote tribe" (WaPo).

"The earth was very hot four billion years ago… The atmosphere was unbreathable. Methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide…"

"Nature hadn’t learned to break down cellulose. When a tree fell, it lay on the ground and got buried by the next tree that fell. This was the Carboniferous. The earth a lush riot. And in the course of millions and millions of years of trees falling on trees, almost all the carbon got taken from the air and buried underground. And there it stayed until yesterday, geologically speaking… What happens to a log that falls today is that funguses and microbes digest it, and all the carbon goes back into the sky. There can never be another Carboniferous. Ever. Because you can’t ask Nature to unlearn how to biodegrade cellulose…. Mammals came along when the world cooled off. Frost on the pumpkin. Furry things in dens. But now we have a very clever mammal that’s taking all the carbon from underground and putting it back into the atmosphere…. Once we burn up all the coal and oil and gas… we’ll have an antique atmosphere. A hot, nasty atmosphere that no one’s seen for three hundred million years. Once we’ve let the carbon genie out of its lithic bottle...."

Says a secondary character in "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen. It's actually someone other people are finding boring — a windbag. He's gassing the social atmosphere. A fiction writer is free of the obligation to get anything right. He can waft theories with utter irresponsibility. It's up to you the reader to figure out when a character is blowing hot air and when he's getting to the heart of the matter. This little speech has virtually nothing to do with the various elaborate plot threads in this novel. It's just tipped in there.

"It’s not exactly a secret that politics is full of amoral careerists lusting — literally or figuratively — for access to power."

"Still, if you’re interested in politics because of values and ideas, it can be easier to understand people who have foul ideologies than those who don’t have ideologies at all. Steve Bannon, a quasi-fascist with delusions of grandeur, makes more sense to me than Anthony Scaramucci, a political cipher who likes to be on TV. I don’t think I’m alone. Consider all the energy spent trying to figure out Ivanka Trump’s true beliefs, when she’s shown that what she believes most is that she’s entitled to power and prestige."

From "Maybe They’re Just Bad People/Not all Trump support is ideological." by Michelle Goldberg (NYT).

The phrase "literally or figuratively" makes more sense if you've read the previous paragraph which quotes from a 2011 book — "Life of the Party: A Political Press Tart Bares All" by Lisa Baron — which Goldberg disparages as "tawdry" and "shallow":
Lisa Baron was a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, hard-partying Jew who nonetheless made a career advancing the fortunes of the Christian right. She opened her book with an anecdote about performing oral sex on a future member of the George W. Bush administration during the 2000 primary, which, she wrote, “perfectly summed up my groupie-like relationship to politics at that time — I wanted it, I worshiped it, and I went for it.”
ADDED: Is Goldberg saying that pure ideologues are better people? Does she say they are "easier to understand"? Not exactly. She posits a subcategory of people who are "interested in politics because of values and ideas" and says that for them it can be easier to understand other people who are interested in politics in the same way, which I think just means that ideologues can understand other ideologues. I don't know if that's true. It depends on what you mean by "understand." I would wonder what made that ideologue an ideologue. And what does it mean to be an ideologue? Are you devoid of pragmatism and any willingness to compromise? I doubt if anyone successful is a complete ideologue. And who are these people "who don’t have ideologies at all." Is that even possible? And what makes a piece of writing "tawdry" and "shallow"?

"Despite the apparent ease with which sheets of paper are crumpled and tossed away, crumpling dynamics are often considered a paradigm of complexity..."

"One of the key assumptions physicists make is that there are some universal properties that are shared between many disordered complicated systems... Studying one complicated system could teach us a lot about other systems as well."

Said Omer Gottesman, a physicist, quoted in "This Is the Way the Paper Crumples/In a ball of paper, scientists discover a landscape of surprising mathematical order" (NYT).

Also quoted, Martin Creed, a conceptual artist, about his "Work No. 88" (one crumpled up sheet of paper): "I feel like you can have a microcosm of the world in a work."

November 27, 2018

At the Tuesday Night Café...

... keep talking.

(And please remember to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"Because insects are legion, inconspicuous and hard to meaningfully track, the fear that there might be far fewer than before was more felt than documented."

"People noticed it by canals or in backyards or under streetlights at night — familiar places that had become unfamiliarly empty. The feeling was so common that entomologists developed a shorthand for it, named for the way many people first began to notice that they weren’t seeing as many bugs. They called it the windshield phenomenon.... But the crux of the windshield phenomenon, the reason that the creeping suspicion of change is so creepy, is that insects wouldn’t have to disappear altogether for us to find ourselves missing them for reasons far beyond nostalgia.... [T]he losses were already moving through the ecosystem, with serious declines in the numbers of lizards, birds and frogs. The paper reported 'a bottom-up trophic cascade and consequent collapse of the forest food web.' Lister’s inbox quickly filled with messages from other scientists, especially people who study soil invertebrates, telling him they were seeing similarly frightening declines. Even after his dire findings, Lister found the losses shocking: 'I didn’t even know about the earthworm crisis!'"

From "The Insect Apocalypse Is Here/What does it mean for the rest of life on Earth?" (NYT Magazine).

Steve Bannon at Oxford (on November 16th).

I started watching this and ended up sitting through the entire thing, so check it out:

"What happens when our greatest living scientists disagree with our greatest living authority on what bullshit looks like?"

"Revelations that as many as 20 deputies at the Compton station have matching skull tattoos revived concerns by watchdogs that gang-like groups are operating within the department."

"Villanueva has signaled a mixed attitude toward the tattooed deputy clubs. He has said that cliques could be a sign of low morale, but he added that some of the most honorable officers he’s known have been part of the inked groups. Villanueva recently visited the East Los Angeles station, where he once served, wearing a shirt bearing the station logo of a boot with a helmet on top of it — a symbol McDonnell had discontinued as part of an effort to rid the department of potentially toxic imagery."

From "In historic upset, Alex Villanueva beats incumbent Jim McDonnell in race for Los Angeles County sheriff" (LA Times).


Oh, come on! Who doesn't know the "forego"/"forgo" distinction?!

I'm reading this humor piece in The New Yorker — "Dr. Seuss’s Freelance Rhymes and Woes" by Jeremy Nguyen — and I'm having a pretty humorless reaction to the last of 6 reinvented Dr. Seuss book covers:

The Grammarist explains:
The original definition of forego is to go before. This definition is easy to remember because both forego and before have the syllable fore, with an e. To forgo, meanwhile, is to do without (something) or to pass up voluntarily. But forgo has so completely encroached on forego's territory that the latter’s older sense is now essentially lost (outside legal contexts and the phrase foregone conclusion—see below), and forgo now bears the secondary definition to go before.
In short, the foregone conclusion is don't write "forego."

I remember when The New Yorker was punctilious about word editing.

"I had written that book about civility because I was convinced that civility is bullshit."

Says Teresa Bejan, author of "Mere Civility" in this TED talk:

From the description of the video: "What exactly is civility, and what does it require? In a talk packed with historical insights, political theorist Teresa Bejan explains how civility has been used as both the foundation of tolerant societies and as a way for political partisans to silence and dismiss opposing views. Bejan suggests that we should instead try for 'mere civility': the virtue of being able to disagree fundamentally with others without destroying the possibility of a common life tomorrow."

That is, she didn't end up thinking "civility is bullshit."

And by the way, I don't think "civility is bullshit." My longstanding "civility bullshit" tag — used 192 times, beginning in January 2009 — doesn't mean "civility is bullshit." It refers to bullshitting about civility, which is something else altogether. I say things like "Calls for civility are always bullshit." I did once (recently) give one person credit for possible sincerity in a call for civility, but basically, I'm completely jaded on the topic of calls for civility, because people make the calls strategically and deviously. They want their antagonists to unilaterally disarm, and they ignore the idea when they want to go on the attack. Here's one of my many posts on the subject, from last June.

Do creepy people know they're creepy?

My question, googled. Results:

1. "Creepiness: Do creeps know they're creeps?" — Quora. Excerpt from the top-rated response, by Michael Catanzaro, "Conceived under the Eiffel Tower, born under a bad sign" (Jan 28, 2013): "[A] lot of creeps do know that they are creeps, some of them just think its [sic] funny so they continue to act that way. Others know that they are creepy but aren't really creeps and don't want to be but knowing it makes them anxious about acting creepy and so when they worry about it, it can make them seem even creepier, it's a vicious cycle."

2. "10 Things Extremely Creepy People Do (Usually Without Realizing)/If you can't think of anyone you know who needs to read this article, then I hate to say it: It's probably you" (Inc.). Excerpt: "2. Smiling oddly or insincerely.... 3. Having greasy or unkempt hair, or wearing dirty or odd clothes... 4. Licking their lips too frequently. This is also just one of those nonverbal signals--maybe leftover from caveman times--that sends an unsettling message. Perhaps it telegraphs that 'you're attempting to comfort or soothe yourself,' according to psychologist Carol Kinsey Goman's 2008 book, The Nonverbal Advantage.... 9. Showing too much or too little emotion. For some people, witnessing almost any emotion weirds them out. But it's especially difficult when the degree of emotion seems incongruous with the circumstances or occasion...."

3. "How We Decide Who's Creepy/New research into our 'creepiness detector' explains a lot" (Psychology Today). Excerpt: "Creepiness may be related to the 'agency-detection' mechanisms proposed by evolutionary psychologists. These mechanisms evolved to protect us from harm at the hands of predators and enemies.... Only when we are confronted with uncertainty about threat do we get 'creeped out.' Our uncertainty paralyzes us about how to respond. For example, it would be considered rude, and strange, to run away in the middle of a conversation with someone is sending out a creepy vibe but is actually harmless; it could be perilous to ignore your intuition and engage with that individual if he is dangerous...."

4. "Do most creepy people know they're creepy? Probably not, study says" (The Oregonian). "Researchers also asked survey participants if 'most creepy people know that they are creepy.' Nearly 60 percent of people answered no, 32 percent said they were unsure, and about 9 percent answered yes." Bonus information: "At the top of the creepy hobbies list were collectors (especially of dolls, insects or body parts like teeth), people-watchers and birdwatchers."

"As Franken and his wife, Franni Bryson, made the rounds, thanking supporters in the philanthropists’ San Francisco home at the February 2018 event, the conversation broke off into another subject: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand."

"The New York Democrat had, in their opinion, pulled the rug out from under Franken, a Minnesota Democrat beloved by the group, forcing him out without any real vetting of the allegations facing him. 'It was said not in front of Al to impress him; it was said privately in a corner. A group of us were standing there talking about it. He was one of our best weapons against this administration, his presence on these committees. [Gillibrand] did the damage that Republicans could not do themselves,' one of the attendees told POLITICO. 'There were other people at this event who were saying the same thing. They said, Absolutely, I will never do anything for her.' Today, nearly a year after Gillibrand led the charge in calling for Franken’s resignation, the anger is fresh on the minds of major donors across the country. More than a dozen prominent West Coast, New York and national donors and bundlers — many of them women — said they would never again donate to or fundraise for Gillibrand or would do so only if she ended up as the Democratic presidential nominee.... 'I thought she was duplicitous,' [a major Manhattan-based donor] said. 'Once the whole thing happened with Al Franken, it was confirmed 1 billion percent that she’s not to be trusted. I think that she hurt the Democratic Party. I think that she hurt the Senate. I think that what she did for women in politics was dreadful.'"

From "Franken scandal haunts Gillibrand’s 2020 chances" (Politico).

"The younger militants tend to have been influenced by the cultural Marxism that is now the lingua franca in the elite academy. Group identity is what matters."

"Society is a clash of oppressed and oppressor groups. People who are successful usually got that way through some form of group privilege and a legacy of oppression. The big generational clashes generally occur over definitions of professional excellence. The older liberals generally believe that the open exchange of ideas is an intrinsic good. Older liberal journalists generally believe that objectivity is an important ideal. But for many of the militants, these restraints are merely masks for the preservation of the existing power structures. They offer legitimacy to people and structures that are illegitimate. When the generations clash, the older generation generally retreats. Nobody wants to be hated and declared a moral pariah by his or her employees. Nobody wants to seem outdated. If the war is between the left and Trumpian white nationalism, nobody wants to be seen siding with Trump.... Liberal educated boomers have hogged the spotlight since Woodstock. But now events are driven by the oldsters who fuel Trump and the young wokesters who drive the left...."

Writes David Brooks in "Liberal Parents, Radical Children/The generation gap returns" (NYT).

That caught my eye because of the term "cultural Marxism." Earlier this month, I blogged a NYT column titled by Yale history-and-lawprof Samuel Moyn titled "The Alt-Right’s Favorite Meme Is 100 Years Old/'Cultural Marxism' might sound postmodern but it’s got a long, toxic history." I guess that "long, toxic history" bit didn't scare Brooks off using the term. Interesting! From the Moyn piece:
According to their delirious foes, “cultural Marxists” are an unholy alliance of abortionists, feminists, globalists, homosexuals, intellectuals and socialists who have translated the far left’s old campaign to take away people’s privileges from “class struggle” into “identity politics” and multiculturalism....

The defense of the West in the name of “order” and against “chaos,” which really seems to mean unjustifiable privilege against new claimants, is an old affair posing as new insight. It led to grievous harm in the last century.... “[C]ultural Marxism” is not only a sad diversion from framing legitimate grievances but also a dangerous lure in an increasingly unhinged moment.

"Other than the blonde hair when I was growing up, they said I looked like Elvis. I always considered that a great compliment."

Said President Trump, at his rally in Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis, quoted in the Tupelo Daily Journal.

Here. You decide.

That baby looks like it's thinking: Oh, no, I got this guy!

I watched the rally on YouTube last night, and I was surprised that the invocation of Elvis did not get a big reaction from the Tupelo crowd. I wonder if the people of Tupelo are annoyed that outsiders all seem to know exactly one thing about the place they know a lot about.

Trump was there to support Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed Senator after Thad Cochran resigned and must defend her seat in a run-off election today. She spoke briefly at the Trump rally, and I learned something from her about how to pronounce "Mississippi." There's no "siss" in her pronunciation. I don't know how common her approach to saying the state's name is, but she very clearly enunciates "Missy Sippy."

November 26, 2018

At the Monday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

And may I point you to the Althouse Portal to Amazon — where you can get just about anything you need to buy?

"If our defense rests on my ability to explain what a play is without sounding condescending, we’re completely screwed."

Said Aaron Sorkin, as quoted by Aaron Sorkin, writing about the litigation that almost thwarted his stage adaptation of "To Kill a Mockingbird" (The Vulture).
I thanked [Tonja Carter, the executor of Harper Lee’s estate]... and told her how honored I was to be working on the material. I told her she was going to be part of a thrilling night in the theater. Then I told her that drama has rules, no less strict than the rules of music — 4/4 time requires four beats to a measure, the key of C-major prohibits sharps and flats, and a piece of music has to end on the tonic or the dominant. “The rules of drama,” I said, “were written down by Aristotle in the Poetics in 350 BC. These rules are four centuries older than Christianity. A protagonist— ” Yeah, we got nowhere.

Tonja Carter said to [the producer Scott Rudin] and me, “I think you both hate To Kill a Mockingbird” (which would explain the three years we spent working on it), and we faced the scary possibility that we weren’t going to be able to do the play. It’s not that we thought we were going to lose the case — the lawyers were confident we would win — it’s that Scott and his investors couldn’t go into a production under a cloud of litigation, and with every passing day we were getting closer to losing our theater to another show. Was it possible that a person could win a lawsuit just by filing it?
A faux naive question!

At one point Sorkin exclaims, “The play can’t be written by a team of lawyers." And though Sorkin kind of "wished we’d gone to court so I could hear a federal judge decide what imaginary people would and wouldn’t do," there wasn't money-wasting time for that, and the case was settled:
... I finally said, “If Tom Robinson and Calpurnia are taken off the table as issues, I’ll cut ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Goddamit,’ Atticus won’t have a rifle in his closet, and he won’t drink a glass of whiskey after the trial.”


I'm reading "The Worst Things Men Do While Traveling, According to Women/These ticks are why you can’t stop fighting on vacation." I'm reading it because Meade sent it to me and because I'm curious if there are real, blood-sucking ticks or if it's a way to refer to "ticking" off items on that list of "worst things." Or do they mean "tics"?! Oh, man, one of the worst things men do while traveling (and while not traveling) is misuse language.

I've already read articles on this subject and I know the standard problems: One person wants relax and the other wants a busy schedule of seeing the sights. One sleeps late, the other is an early bird. One likes the beach, the other likes museums.

From the article:
"I want to be able to take in as much as possible! My boyfriend is the complete opposite and is rather lackadaisical about the whole thing. Not to say he isn’t excited to visit, but c’mon, buddy, quicken your steps a bit. It drives me crazy that he would rather just happen upon something cool than guarantee it. We don’t have to follow a minute-by-minute schedule, but a day’s plan would definitely ease my anxiety around potentially missing an important historical landmark."
Apparently, women are big out-and-proud control freaks:
“I live with my boyfriend on a sailboat traveling the world. [But] he doesn’t plan! He just goes with the flow. He genuinely believes the world will take care of you if you are open to it. He will hitchhike and wait for opportunities to appear. Unbelievably, memories have been made for us this way and we’ve made incredible new friends. But for me, the type-A planner of the relationship, it’s hard for me to trust that everything will just work out. But it does!”
So... his way doesn't sound like a worst thing. This should be something to love about him — relaxing into spontaneity.

But then there's this:
“My partner is terrible at relaxing when we are on vacation. On our last trip, I asked him to make a few dinner reservations, and when I came back to see what he had picked, he had our trip planned out hour by hour with activities, when really all I wanted to do is chill at the beach...
The one thing my partner does that annoys me when we travel is not relax. I would love to just take it easy, see where the day takes us and drink wine. He needs everything to be planned and doesn’t drink nearly enough.... 
So then it's not a male versus female thing. Sometimes the man is the control freak and the woman is relaxed.

Anyway, no ticks!

"When she woke up from her surgery, her first question was 'Did you find anything?' 'Cause I think what they’re gonna say is, like, 'No, you fucking hypochondriac psycho'..."

"'And so when my surgeon was like, You have the most misshapen and diseased uterus I’ve seen in my entire career, I was like, This is vindication.'... 'I texted Jack last week and said, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE DATED SOMONE EVERYBODY HATES? in all capitals. He wrote back, They only hate you because they love you so much, true story. Which is like, What a sweetie. What a liar and a sweetie.' Dunham lists the reasons for the hate — with her explanations for why she is the way she is — as if she were reciting a poem imprinted on her brain in grade school... She remembers, right after the hysterectomy, crying to Jemima Kirke, 'Who’s gonna want to date me? I have PTSD and no uterus.' Kirke’s answer: 'A soldier who hates condoms.'"

From "'Yeah, I’m Not for Everyone'/Lena Dunham comes to terms with herself" — a very long article in New York Magazine.

Note the chance reappearance of the word "sweetie," the topic of the previous post.

And don't forget to use condoms to avoid getting and giving STDs.

A dispute over "sweetie."

I'm seeing this:

The one thing these 2 lovebirds agree on is that "sweetie" is an old, old word. So I looked it up in the OED. As a word referring to a person (as opposed to a sweetmeat) first appeared in print in 1778 in a song you can sing to the tune of "O Kitten, My Kitten":
That's "sweet-ee," not "fweet-ee," though "fweet-ee" is good if you do baby talk with your sweetie.

Anyway, nice Revolutionary War song. It ends "Let Georgy do all in his power/It will not drink green or bohea-a/The baby will thrive ev'ry hour/And America live and be free-a."

There's a gap in the OED quotes from that old "sweet-ee"/"fweet-ee" in 1778 to 1925 when we see the word in "The Great Gatsby": "Tom's the first sweetie she ever had."

As for "honey bun," it first appears — as the OED has it — in 1902 in something called "Girl Proposition": "It was an Omnibus Love that reached out its red-hot Tentacles and twined around all Objects..associated with little Honey-Bun." There's also this cool quote from 2000 ("Lion's Game"): "You'd be surprised how many spouses don't give a rat's ass if the murderer of their departed honey-bun is found." But let me send you off with the cool little song from "South Pacific":

No! Wait a minute. Come back! I just discovered the most important "sweetie" conflict ever. It's about Obama! Here's a 2008 column from the language writer Ben Zimmer.
Last week on the Visual Thesaurus, William Safire and Nancy Friedman both weighed in on "Bittergate," the political furor that arose over Senator Barack Obama's comments about small-town Pennsylvanian voters ("It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion"). Now Obama has found himself under the microscope again for his use of a particular word, but this time the context is more "sweet" than "bitter." Responding to a question from television reporter Peggy Agar at an automobile plant outside of Detroit, Obama said, "Hold on one second, sweetie." Later he left Agar a voicemail apologizing about using the word sweetie to address her, calling it a "bad habit of mine." Lisa Anderson of the Chicago Tribune wryly wrote, "Welcome to 'Sweetie-gate,' a place paved with eggshells, where terms of endearment turn into political peccadilloes at the drop of a diminutive."...

Obama told Agar that he meant "no disrespect"... But even if Obama did not intend his use of sweetie as offensive, observers agreed that it was hardly an appropriate word for a presidential candidate to use when addressing a female reporter, running the risk of sounding dismissive or condescending to a professional woman....

Obama's "Sweetie-gate" opened an opportunity for pundits to mull over the acceptable social boundaries for terms of endearment, particularly those used by men to refer to women. In the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom writes that sugar, gorgeous, and cutie pie are "OK from your grandmother, your aunt or the 80-year-old immigrant dressmaker who says, 'OK, gorgeous, are you ready for your fitting?' But from a politician, a business associate or a stranger on a bus, they're bad."...

"Twitter's gone crazy banning people on the right, so I’ve deactivated my Twitter account."

Blogs Glenn Reynolds, at Instapundit.

With this update:
People seem to want more, and although there’s nothing duller than posting a screed on why you’re quitting a platform, here’s the gist: I’ve never liked Twitter even though I’ve used it. I was a late adopter, and with good reason. It’s the crystal meth of social media — addictive and destructive, yet simultaneously unsatisfying. When I’m off it I’m happier than when I’m on it. That it’s also being run by crappy SJW types who break their promises, to users, shareholders, and the government, of free speech is just the final reason. Why should I provide free content to people I don’t like, who hate me? I’m currently working on a book on social media, and I keep coming back to the point that Twitter is far and away the most socially destructive of the various platforms. So I decided to suspend them, as they are suspending others. At least I’m giving my reasons, which is more than they’ve done usually.
But Twitter is Trump's drug of choice. He loves that "crystal meth."

"Why should I provide free content to people I don’t like, who hate me?" You could just ask "Why should I provide free content...?" If you have a blog that thousands of people visit, you have much less motivation to use Twitter. It's much nicer to have your own place, but most people can't — or don't believe they can — establish a flow of visitors to their own freestanding site. They might prefer it if they could get it, but it doesn't seem possible to most people and to any newcomers. And Twitter does not seem to work as a way to capture and drive traffic to your site. That means if you use it, you're caught in their game of competing for attention, attention that is always only fixed on Twitter.

"Mexico will deport Central American migrants who attempted to storm the US border, its interior ministry said."

"The group, part of the migrant caravan heading towards the US from Central America, was rounded up after trying to cross the border 'violently' and 'illegally' on Sunday. Video footage shows dozens of people running towards the border fence near the city of Tijuana. US border officers used tear gas to repel them."

BBC reports.

Remember all the concern that if the U.S. opposed the storming of our border it would mean shooting and killing people?

ADDED: Trump's reaction:

ALSO: Another point of view:

AND: I watched the video that Attkinson passed along, and I didn't see any "baby carriages." I don't know who the people in the video really are, but I note that no one is carrying luggage. Maybe 20% have small backpacks — less full than what you'd see on a school child — and the rest are carrying nothing at all. These don't look like migrants. They look like protesters — and nearly all young men. They are actively breaking through, bending a gate in a wall. Don't American police use tear gas on American protesters who are this disorderly? I don't understand Attkisson's surprise.

OKAY: In the comments to her own tweet, Attkisson tweets, "I was being sarcastic; I don't see any baby carriages."

“Politics was part of our life. People don’t seem involved or passionate anymore; politics is something distant."

And: "I was a Marxist with all the love, all the passion, and all the despair one can expect from a bourgeois who chooses Marxism."

2 quotes from Bernardo Bertolucci, from his obituary in the NYT. The director of "Last Tango in Paris" and "The Last Emperor" breathed his last this morning at the age of 77.

The obituary reminds us that some reviewers at the time, back in 1973, did not admire "Last Tango in Paris" and that the NYT own critic, Grace Glueck, called it "the perfect macho soap opera." I'm more familiar with the rave review of all rave reviews by Pauline Kael...
The film critic Pauline Kael proclaimed it “the most powerfully erotic movie ever made” and likened its premiere to the first performance of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”
... so I'm going to take the trouble to read "I Won't Tango, Don't Ask Me," by Grace Glueck (March 1973).
IF, as my male filmgoing friends assure me, there is such a thing as a “woman's picture,” i.e., one that plays up to the romantic sexual fantasies of housewives, then “Last Tango in Paris” can surely be regarded as its male counterpart — the perfect macho soap opera. From the film's beginning, when its he‐man heel‐hero, Paul, engages a compliant Parisian playgirl, Jeanne, in a genital collision, through the very end, where Jeanne reacts to his aggressions with a violence that metaphorically expresses her own sexual rage, its fantasies comfortably reinforce the misogynist stereotypes that have always enabled men to regard women as something less than emotional peers....

[I]n keeping with the conventions of art and pornography in the Western world, [we never clearly see Paul (Marlon Brando) naked, and] the camera focuses frequently and frontally on Jeanne in her birthday suit....

[The two characters] embark on a game plan: They will meet at the apartment for sex only, avoiding all reference to their outside lives. This stylized — well, tango—is led, of course, by Paul. And it is he who is free to break the step, revealing fragments of his barren emotional life with the depth of a Holden Caulfield while abruptly dismissing any attempts on Jeanne's part to give voice to hers....

In the apartment, masochist Jeanne takes sex from sadist Paul as, in his hostility, he dispenses it. And often (as in the now famous butter‐and‐sodomy scene) it hurts. (Male fantasy: Women may protest, but they really wallow in rough handling; it's good for their souls.) At one point in the throes of aging adolescence, Paul, bids Jeanne insert her fingers in his anus to explore a notion he has about death; at another, he dangles a dead rat before her horrified face. But he has his tender moments; in one, he gives Jeanne a bath with a paternal condescension that might suit a 3‐year4old. (Male fantasy: Treat women as little girls; it fulfills their need for protection.)...

The rage that led to [[SPOILER ALERT] Jeanne's shooting Paul to death] is motivated, but again the act itself is focused on Paul.... [W]hat Bertolucci is really saying is (male fantasy): See what happens when you strip yourself bare for a woman? 

November 25, 2018

At the Sunday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

Alan Dershowitz says, "I think the [Mueller] report is going to be devastating to the president and I know that the president's team is already working on a response to the report."

On ABC's "This Week Today."

Devastating, really? It depends on what the meaning of "devastating" is:
"When I say devastating, I mean it's going to paint a picture that's going to be politically very devastating. I still don't think it's going to make a criminal case."
I looked up "devastating" in the OED and thought it was funny that it said "Frequently fig., esp. in trivial or hyperbolical use: very effective or upsetting; astounding, overwhelming, ‘stunning’...."

Especially in trivial or hyperbolical use.... From the OED's historical examples:
1925 New Yorker 8 Aug. 4/2 Not since the Tango provided luscious livelihoods for many svelte youths has so devastating a dance agitated the town....
1927 H. T. Lowe-Porter tr. T. Mann Magic Mountain (London ed.) I. v. 378 Everything, whether in jest or earnest, was ‘devastating’, the bob-run, the sweet for dinner, her own temperature.
1933 E. Shanks Enchanted Village ix. 133 Oh yes, poor old Julian—I think, to be honest, that he's a devastating bore.
1936 R. Lehmann Weather in Streets i. 11 Oh, darling have you got to go? How devastating.

"I’m a mountain boy, I’ve got everything I need. I understand (the police) are worried, but I’ve been here my whole life.... I’m not a survivalist. I’m a survivor."

Said Brad Weldon, quoted in "Generators, Coors and canned food. How these ‘mountain boys’ are surviving in Paradise" (Sacramento Bee).
“I can’t see myself sitting in a shelter, day after day, with sick people and screaming kids all around me,” said Lyndon McAfee, another of those toughing it out behind the lines.... “This is my home, Paradise, man,” he said. “I love this place.”...

“I woke up and said to myself, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’” [said
Stewart Nugent, who then] snuck back into Paradise on foot, covering more than eight miles of rocky and steep terrain to get to his house. He’s been surviving on canned food. A friend of a neighbor dropped off a case of Coors Light beer and utility workers have provided him pizza and lunches.... "If my cat starts talking to me,” he said, “I’ll leave.”

"Monica Lewinsky reveals Bill Clinton urged her to lie under oath: 'I did feel uncomfortable about it.'"

Fox News reports.
In the final part of the A&E docuseries "The Clinton Affair".... Lewinsky said that Clinton had called her at 2:30 in the morning to let her know that she was on the witness list for the Paula Jones case.

"I was petrified. I was frantic about my family and this becoming public," Lewinsky tearfully recalled. "Thankfully, Bill helped me lock myself back from that and he said I could probably sign an affidavit to get out of it, and he didn't even know if a 100 percent I would be subpoenaed."...

And though she clarified that Clinton never said the words "you're going to have to lie here," Lewinsky pointed out that he also never said "we're going to have to tell the truth."

After being subpoenaed, the former White House staffer decided to talk to attorney Vernon Jordan, a close friend of Clinton. In the documentary, Lewinsky claims that she managed to secure a meeting with Jordan on her own and from that meeting, she was introduced to lawyer Frank Carter. "Frank Carter explained to me if I'd signed an affidavit denying having had an intimate relationship with the president it might mean I wouldn't have to be deposed in the Paula Jones case," she recounted. "I did feel uncomfortable about it but I felt it was the right thing to do, ironically, right? So, the right thing to do, to break the law."

"His place is dark and has a large workbench in the living room for projects. Hers, light and brightly decorated..."

"... has plenty of room for pet birds. That’s right: She lives with parakeets, but she won’t live with him. And he’s cool with that.... [S]ociologists call it Living Apart Together (LAT).... In order to explore the world and develop as individuals, we need independence. But we also have a need to be firmly tethered to another person for the safety that that provides, according to Stan Tatkin, Psy.D., a psychobiology-focused couples therapist in Calabasas, California. Our individual tolerance for space and closeness—and whether we tend to feel smothered or abandoned—goes back to how attached we were to our caregivers as infants and has been influenced by all of our past romantic relationships.... Doing stuff alone may stoke your passion for each other.... 'It takes lots of communication so that no one feels insecure or gets neglected,' [said the man who doesn't live with the parakeet woman]."

From "Why Living Apart Could Save Your Relationship/The oldest breakup line in the book could be the newest secret to staying together" (Men's Health).

Parakeet woman... wasn't that a Rolling Stones song?