December 15, 2018

At the Saturday Night Café...

... talk about anything you like.

(And remember to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon if you've got some shopping to do. We were talking about cookies today, so may I suggest some Stella D'Oro Angelica Goodies?)

How to eat sushi.

(Don't miss the humor that begins at 4:18.)

"What'd you call this — 'lay-dare'?"

ADDED: Maybe there's a solution... like this:


I learned a new word, new to me, so new I would have credited myself with coining it if it hadn't been in the dictionary. Why don't we use that word? We use "emasculate." One explanation is that it is "Now largely superseded by masculinize" (OED). Why should "masculinize" win out over "masculate"? "Masculate" is more masculine!

Trump bids good riddance to The Weekly Standard.

"Pope Francis stresses the merciful God and the forgiving God... For a priest to even hint that the person might not be in heaven is grossly wrong."

Said the Rev. Charles Rubey, founder and director of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide, quoted in "Bedford family calls for priest to be removed after funeral" (Toledo Blade).

The parents of an 18-year-old boy who committed suicide are publishing lashing out at the Rev. Don LaCuesta at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Temperance, Michigan, who presided over the funeral service and spoke about suicide as a sin.

The mother, Linda Hullibarger said: "He basically called our son a sinner, instead of rejoicing in his life. It’s not OK... He needs to be held accountable."

The Catholic Church  used to deny a Christian burial to suicides. But:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in its current edition acknowledges mitigating factors that “diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.... We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”...

Here's the argument... in a nutshell.

Nostalgia cookie of the day: Devil's Food Squares.

Look at this great commercial:

That was the one cookie we always had at my house when I was a child — because these were the cookies my father liked. There were other cookies — Hydrox, Oreo, Vanilla Wafers, Pecan Sandies, Scooter Pies — but the king of all cookies was the Devil's Food Square.

And I love the outdoor ethos of the commercial. These were clearly boys' cookies. Boys and grizzly bears' cookies.

And I have to give this my "logos" tag for that Nabisco logo (which turns into a cowboy on a horse and gallops off).

"'Die Hard,' which opens today at the Baronet and Criterion Center, has more than its share of bloody moments and blasted bodies, and it has some abysmal scenes as well."

"The former ballet star Alexander Godunov is a conspicuous terrorist, jumping around the set in a basic black costume and flowing blond hair. As the brother of McClane’s first victim, he gets to say things like 'I want blood!' And when McClane realizes he has been too hard on his wife, he radios an unintentionally funny message to Al: 'Tell her that she is the best thing that ever happened to a bum like me.'"

The last paragraph of the 1988 review of "Die Hard," which the NYT just reprinted as part of a series of 10 "holiday movies we consider classics or cult favorites today" that didn't seem as though they were going to attain that status when the original review was published.

I've never seen "Die Hard," by the way. I am watching the complete 10-season series of "Friends," and I do notice the continual references to "Die Hard"...

... but I don't think there's any additional understanding of "Friends" to be gained from actually knowing "Die Hard." It's nice when you're watching a show that makes a lot of references to get the references, but it would be weird to feel that you have to watch all the movies and TV shows and read all the books the Friends mention... though I did care enough about "The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line" to read "The Velveteen Rabbit."

Okay, I just rejected something for poor taste. I do have some standards.

The news item was not in poor taste. The thing I was going to say about it was.

"As happens to so many of us, I was asked to write a sitcom for Croatian television. I’m an American ex-pat living in Slovenia..."

Wrote Noah Charney in The Atlantic — back in 2015 — in "Cracking the Sitcom Code/After signing up to write a script for Croatian television, I learned that virtually all TV comedies, from Seinfeld to South Park, follow a simple formula." I'm reading this because I'm in the middle of watching the complete 10 seasons of "Friends," and I'm writing about it episode-by-episode as I go. In the process, I've developed my understanding of the structure of sitcom writing, and this article is right in the zone for me.

Charney had written some plays, but never any television. He took the job, though, and he began by googling "How to write a sitcom." Then he watched a lot of sitcoms, looking for tips. He was looking to crack the code and discover the structure. He found "a highly-specific, minute-by-minute" formula, and he found it — the “sitcom code.” And (most helpfully?) he used a word-processing program that had a "sitcom format."
The Sitcom Code breaks down what needs to happen in each episode, by the minute. As Dan Richter of Demand Media notes, “Sitcoms, minus commercials, are typically 22 minutes long [with] a script of 25-40 pages. Every sitcom episode has a main plot (story A), as well as one or two subplots (stories B and C).” There are three main acts, divided by two commercial breaks (in most American TV), with 3-5 scenes per act. One of the distinguishing characteristics of sitcoms, as opposed to other forms of television, is that the main protagonist(s) barely change from one episode to the next... Therefore whatever happens in the episode, the situation must end largely where it began....

Each episode begins with the protagonist stating a goal or problem that must be solved, and which we understand will be solved by the end of the episode.... When writers sit around and prepare a new episode, many literally map out what will happen, minute-by-minute, in the main storyline and sub-storylines, filling in jokes later.
Charney describes one episode of one sitcom under the headings: "The Teaser (Minutes 1-3).... The Trouble (Minutes 3-8)... The Muddle (Minutes 8-13).... The Triumph/Failure (Minutes 13-18)... The Kicker (Minutes 19-21)...." I found this too boring to read, which taught me something about writing about a sitcom: A plot summary is unreadable. You've got to write interesting sentences. In my "Friends" writing, I do what I do on this blog, write about whatever interests me and only what interests me. (That's the formula for blogging. Feel free to use it!)

Back to Charney:
This deconstructionist approach to sitcoms was truly helpful when it came time to write my own, as I had minute-by-minute slots to fill and a strong idea of this endlessly successful and recycled series of plot arcs. But I still had to write the darn thing. The Croatian public were waiting.

Next time you settle in to watch a sitcom, keep this code in mind, and an eye on your stopwatch. You’ll be amazed at how tight and to-the-minute the formula is, yet marvel at the variety that TV writers conjure within this straitjacket literary form. Now, I better start Googling “what Croatians find funny…”
Charney is in a funny situation himself. But I don't get the last line. Did he write the sitcom or not? Obviously, the magic is in what you put into the structure. But structure is great. It's good to notice things that follow a tight structure. Apparently, even the sitcoms that seem powerfully innovative use this structure. I wonder if the structure has mostly to do with the placement of commericals and whether commercial-free shows stick to the formula. Maybe it's such a good formula that they do.

"Bruce Springsteen is a phony, and he wants you to know it. 'I’ve never held an honest job in my entire life,' he shouts.."

"...  early in his one-man stage show, viewable on Netflix Sunday. 'I’ve never seen the inside of a factory, and yet it’s all I’ve ever written about. Standing before you is a man who’s become wildly and absurdly successful writing about something [with] which he has had absolutely no personal experience.'... Mr. 'Thunder Road' never drove a car until he was forced to, in his 20s, on what sounds like a nightmarish cross-country road trip with his band. The hardscrabble romance of the Jersey Shore, site of action and adventure in his songs? 'I invented that!' he calls out, during a segment about how depressing and provincial Asbury Park was when he first set off on his career. He shares these small gaps between his persona and his reality not to unburden his guilt, nor to humblebrag about what a great fabulist he is—though he does a bit of the latter. ('That’s how good I am,' he cracks after one confession.) Springsteen’s interested in the way that mystique overlays on truth, allowing ordinary life to feel extraordinary."

From "Bruce Springsteen Explains It All" (The Atlantic).

December 14, 2018

At the Friday Night Café...

... talk, talk, talk.

(And buy, buy, buy — if you want — through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

I'm bumping this so the Obamacare thing won't be at the top. Please, if you must talk about that, go to the next post. Bring up new subjects here, and try to have some fun and end the evening on a creative note.

This won't hold up, but in case you're fired up to talk about it.

"Federal judge in Texas rules Affordable Health Care Act unconstitutional/Ruling comes on eve of the deadline for Americans to sign up for coverage in the federal insurance exchange created under the law."


MORE: Continue the discussion at this new post which briefly shows how the judge's argument worked. The key issue is severability.

"Speak truth, sis!" — said Rashida Tlaib to fellow congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"Some might say it was 'Shine Theory' in action — a term coined by the feminist podcasters Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow to describe women who make a concerted effort to support one another. (In Ms. Sow’s words: 'I don’t shine if you don’t shine.') In fact, in an exchange of mutual admiration on Twitter on Wednesday, Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts’s first African-American congresswoman, thanked Ms. Ocasio-Cortez for 'living #ShineTheory out loud.' (Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had tweeted that she was 'so incredibly proud' of Ms. Pressley.... It’s a camaraderie that’s been on full display among the Democratic newcomers since November’s election. Their message: We’re cool, we’re transparent and we’ve got each other’s backs."

From "Sisterhood in the Halls of Congress, and You’re Invited/The Democratic newcomers have a message for you: We’re cool, we’re transparent and we’ve got each others’ backs" (NYT).

"Outside Mr. Walker’s Capitol office, protesters marched and drummed and chanted fury at what they saw as an effort to weaken unions and diminish Democrats."

"But Mr. Walker pushed through the measure, survived a recall election and went on to guide Wisconsin on a conservative path, adopting a concealed-carry law, expanding private school vouchers, enacting so-called right-to-work legislation, passing voter identification rules and setting work rules for Medicaid recipients.... The final package of legislation that Mr. Walker signed on Friday came after defeats for Republicans in Wisconsin, a swing state that Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump both won. Republicans held onto the State Legislature but lost contests for governor and attorney general. The new laws will curb the authority of [the new Democratic Governor Tony] Evers in the rule-making process and give lawmakers, not the new governor, most appointments on an economic development board until next summer. The measures also will limit early voting, allow legislators to intervene in some lawsuits and limit the power of Josh Kaul, the incoming attorney general.... To Mr. Walker’s supporters, the bills Mr. Walker signed on Friday were pragmatic ways to shore up Republican policies and establish reasonable checks on the incoming Democrats. By signing the bills, he had secured his legacy, they said, not sullied it...."

From "Wisconsin’s Scott Walker Signs Bills Stripping Powers From Incoming Governor" (NYT).

"Having been shouted down and bullied at several meetings of the Madison School Board over the past several months..."

"... Blaska is uniquely qualified to expose the pusillanimous hand-wringing that passes for decision-making by those who shape educational policy in this city. He has seen firsthand how a small cadre of vocal extremists, called Freedom Inc., have cowed the current School Board with their unique brand of cop-hating venom."

From "a letter to the Wisconsin State Journal" about David Blaska's candidacy for the school board.

Here's a post of mine from last June showing Blaska trying to speak to the school board. I embedded video and wrote:
Blaska maintains a calm demeanor throughout the disturbing intimidation, but you can see that his hands shake... and I can only imagine how scary it must be to publicly express opinions in a small room that is packed with people denouncing you. The committee members do nothing to push back the intimidation or to protect Blaska's right to speak to the group.

Blaska called attention to the Madison teacher, Karen Vieth, who quit because of the terrible situation at one middle school. Here's my post from last week where I linked to her detailed and disturbing blog post.

The important news is not that President Trump is considering Jared Kushner for Chief of Staff...

.... it's that "Twitter Users Troll Jared Kushner Over Chief Of Staff Report" (HuffPo). You might think that article was written because there really was some funny stuff to collect. You would be wrong. I read it. Check my work if you don't trust me to save you the trouble.

Better than Bob Dylan?

"Even the olds don’t want the olds to run for president!"

Writes Peter Hamby in "'THEY’RE ALL TOO OLD': DEMOCRATS FACE A GENERATIONAL RECKONING/The choice in the 2020 primary ultimately comes down to one thing: who is best prepared to beat Trump at a time when Trump owns the culture? Someone who actually understands culture would be a start" (Vanity Fair).

Is "olds" an unacceptable, ageist slur? It doesn't bother me, and I'm old. I think it's important to say "old" and not act like there's something bad about it, but making the adjective a noun might be offensive.

"What Is ‘Life-Affirming’ Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year?"

If that's your question, the answer is here (at Smithsonian).

I'm surprised they picked an orange — because, you know... orange man bad.

But Trump isn't coral... and he isn't life-affirming... is he?!

From Smithsonian:
Living Coral (also known by its less glamorous name of Pantone 16-1546) is a “reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life,” the company said. In a time when the internet is often a despairingly hostile space, and human connections are being warped by digital technology, Living Coral is cheerful and vibrant, but not jarringly so.

“With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord,” the company said in its statement.

"You, Too, Are in Denial of Climate Change."

Writes David Wallace-Wells in New York Magazine.
Why can’t we see the threat right in front of us?... There is, to start with, anchoring, which explains how we build mental models around as few as one or two initial examples, no matter how unrepresentative — in the case of global warming, the world we know today, which is reassuringly temperate. There is the ambiguity effect, which suggests that most people are so uncomfortable contemplating uncertainty they will accept lesser outcomes in a bargain to avoid dealing with it. In theory, with climate, uncertainty should be an argument for action — much of the ambiguity arises from the range of possible human inputs, a quite concrete prompt we choose to process instead as a riddle, which discourages us. There is anthropocentric thinking, by which we build our view of the universe outward from our own experience, a reflexive tendency which some especially ruthless environmentalists have derided as “human supremacy,” and which surely shapes our ability to apprehend genuinely existential threats to the species — a shortcoming which many climate scientists have mocked. “The planet will survive,” they say, “it’s the humans that may not.”

These biases are just drawn from the “A” volume of the behavioral-economics literature — and are just a sampling of that volume. Among the most destructive effects that appear later in the library are these: the bystander effect, or our tendency to wait for others to act rather than acting ourselves; confirmation bias, by which we seek evidence for what we already understand to be true rather than endure the cognitive pain of reconceptualizing our world; the default effect, or tendency to choose the present option over alternatives, which is related to the status quo bias, or preference for things as they are, however bad that is; and the endowment effect, or instinct to demand more to give up something we have than we actually value it (or had paid to acquire or establish it). We have an illusion of control, the behavioral economists tell us, and also suffer from overconfidence. We can’t see anything but through cataracts of self-deception....

"Chris Cuomo and Kellyanne Conway Slug it Out For 39 Absolutely Crazy Minutes on CNN."

Mediaite headline. It's not that crazy, but Drudge linked to this so I clicked. The headline is click bait, and I couldn't watch much of the clips. In real life, I avoid watching any of the TV commentary shows, so I'm not the audience for this anxious roiling. It's theater — put on for the money and for the power. It's not crazy at all, let alone "absolutely crazy."

I was motivated to look up the word "crazy" in the OED. One of the meanings — going back to 1927 — is: "slang (orig. U.S.). (a) Of music, esp. jazz: unrestrained, wild; exciting. (b) Hence as a term of approbation: excellent, admirable, satisfying. Cf. cool adj. 8b."
1935 Hot News Apr. 13/1 Where musicians are concerned..if I say a man is crazy you may be sure that I think he is very, very good.
1953 Time 14 Sept. 68/3 The latest Tin Pan Alley argot, where ‘cool’ means good, ‘crazy’ means wonderful.
1959 Punch 14 Oct. 319 The swing-cats sway, the hipsters tap their feet As Victor pounds his low-down crazy beat.
I guess I'd accept the Mediaite headline if I thought it was mean in the sense of "unrestrained, wild; exciting." But I do find that sort of present-day political excitement quite boring.

"In a novel, we accept the worldview of the narrator, however limited or objectionable."

"Scout, who is barely 6 at the start of the story, can use words in print that would make her instantly unsympathetic onstage. We also accept that a first-person portrait of a white child’s moral awakening to racism will primarily focus on how it affects the white people around her. But onstage, a work about racial injustice in which its principal black characters have no agency would be intolerable, so Mr. Sorkin makes a series of adjustments. With Scout’s point of view subordinated, we see Atticus through our own eyes instead of hers, making him the firm center of the story.... It’s what happens in the gap between the old and new storytelling styles, as Mr. Sorkin tries to kill two mockingbirds with one stone, that gives me pause. His play, with its emphasis on the trial, is about justice, and is thus a bright-line tragedy. The novel is about something much murkier: accommodation. Atticus — who was based to some extent on Lee’s father — despises racism as a form of incivility but insists that any man, even Bob Ewell, can be understood if you walk in his shoes or crawl around in his skin. It’s hardly a comedy but is nevertheless hopeful to the extent that it clears some space for a future. These are two worthy ideas, if contradictory. In light of racial injustice, accommodation seems to be a white luxury; in light of accommodation, justice seems hopelessly naïve."

From "Review: A Broadway ‘Mockingbird,’ Elegiac and Effective" (NYT).

Miss U.S.A. got a little catty about the way Miss Vietnam and Miss Cambodia don't speak English... and got trashed for "xenophobia" and had to apologize.

Here's the whole article at WaPo, "‘What normalized xenophobia looks like’: Miss USA apologizes for comments about other contestants' English."
The 24-year-old had just finished talking about how Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie “pretends to know so much English,” capping her remarks with an imitation of her fellow Miss Universe contestant. Later, Summers touched on how “confusing” things must be for Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat, because she doesn’t speak English and “not a single other person speaks her language." “Poor Cambodia,” Summers added.

The comments, which were streamed on the Instagram page of Miss Colombia, Valeria Morales, to her more than 300,000 followers earlier this week, have since gone viral, with many calling Summers a “bully” and condemning the remarks as “racist” and “bigoted.” Morales and Miss Australia, Francesca Hung, have also been criticized for their part in the video....

“Regina George, is that you?,” one post said, comparing Summers to the notoriously two-faced queen bee from the 2004 film “Mean Girls.” “This is basically what normalized xenophobia looks like,” the post went on to say. “If she’s trying to show empathy, the condescending, intolerant tone tells a different story. A reminder that you’re participating in a competition in a country/continent where English is NOT the primary language.”

Other critics said Summers’s behavior was representative of “Trump’s America.”...
Why not blame Trump?

Remember the old meme "Thanks Obama"? Here's Obama spoofing it:

December 13, 2018

At the Thursday Night Café...

... on the lucky 13th night of December, let's talk about stuff.

"I Dressed Like It Was 1967."

"Powwow"?! Can you say that? Microaggression!

I'm trying to read this Washington Post article but I'm having a problem with the headline: "Fact-checking Trump’s rowdy powwow with Pelosi and Schumer."

Did Trump speak with forked tongue?

"Beto O'Rourke leapfrogs most of the 2020 Democratic field."

Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten, write at CNN.
O'Rourke has that thing that every candidate -- Democrat or Republican -- wants: organic energy. He generates excitement everywhere he goes -- and is being urged to run by activists from all over the Democratic base. He's the flavor of the moment, no question...
They present a top 10 ranking:
10. Kirsten Gillibrand... She has the most anti-Trump record of any senator...(Previous ranking: Not ranked)

9. Julian Castro: He's running!... [But is there] room for both young Texas Democratic firebrands, Castro and O'Rourke.... (Previous ranking: 7)

8. Sherrod Brown... Still, Brown's a white male in a party that is becoming less white and was intent on nominating women in 2018.... (Previous ranking: 9)

7. Amy Klobuchar: We probably had the Minnesota senator ranked too highly last month... (Previous ranking: 4)

6. Bernie Sanders... We wonder though if time has passed Sanders by... (Previous ranking: 6)

5. Elizabeth Warren: The last month has made clear just how much damage Warren did to her chances with a badly botched attempt to put to rest questions about her Native American heritage.... (Previous ranking: 2)

4. Cory Booker... some progressives view him as a dreaded "neoliberal," and some may see him as a bit over-dramatic (see his "Spartacus" moment). (Previous ranking: 5)

3. Joe Biden.... a septuagenarian white male... (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Beto O'Rourke: The guy just lost a Senate race. And yet, here we are with O'Rourke in second... Still, folks really shouldn't get ahead of themselves.... Will Democrats actually nominate a white man in 2020?.... (Previous ranking: 10)

1. Kamala Harris... an Indian-American and African-American woman with a law-and-order background -- looks tailor made for the 2020 Democratic electorate.... (Previous ranking: 1)
Well, there you have it: The Democrats don't want a white man. Is Beto O'Rourke still a white man? Puzzling!!!

ADDED: Overheard at Meadhouse: "Why aren't the Democratic candidates better? I'm just going to be for Amy Klobuchar."

Radiohead, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, The Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies...

... are the new inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

It's just annual nonsense, but I've got to say I love The Zombies. I've loved them since their first single played on the radio long ago, and we saw them here in Madison in 2017. Here are my "Notes from the Zombies concert at the Barrymore."

Why weren't they already in?! From the first link above (Rolling Stone):
For Colin Blunstone of the Zombies – who have been eligible since 1989 and have appeared on three previous ballots – this was the result of incredible patience and persistence. “You do start to doubt that it could happen,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I’ve tried to be fairly philosophical about it and tell myself that if we don’t get inducted, it’s just a bit of fun. Don’t take it too seriously. But of course when you’re actually inducted, everything changes. You think, ‘This is a career-defining [and] life-defining moment.'”

His longtime bandmate Rod Argent echoed Blunstone’s sentiment. “I know it’s fashionable in some circles to say, ‘I don’t mind whether I get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or not,'” he tells Rolling Stone. “But that is not how I’ve ever felt. When we were first nominated, that felt like a huge honor in its own right. And this time to turn the corner and get inducted, feels fantastic … I’m just so delighted.”

"Shame is the opposite of art. When you live inside of your shame, everything you see is inadequate and embarrassing."

"A lifetime of traveling and having adventures and not being tethered to long-term commitments looks empty and pathetic and foolish, through the lens of shame. You haven’t found a partner. Your face is aging. Your body will only grow weaker. Your mind is less elastic. Your time is running out. Shame turns every emotion into the manifestation of some personality flaw, every casual choice into a giant mistake, every small blunder into a moral failure. Shame means that you’re damned and you’ve accomplished nothing and it’s all downhill from here. You need to discard some of this shame you’re carrying around all the time. But even if you can’t cast off your shame that quickly, through the lens of art, shame becomes valuable. When you’re curious about your shame instead of afraid of it, you can see the true texture of the day and the richness of the moment, with all of its flaws.... Shame creates imaginary worlds inside your head. This haunted house you’re creating is forged from your shame. No one else can see it, so you keep trying to describe it to them. You find ways to say, 'You don’t want any part of this mess. I’m mediocre, aging rapidly, and poor. Do yourself a favor and leave me behind.' You want to be left behind, though. That way, no one bears witness to what you’ve become. It’s time to come out of hiding. It’s time to step into the light and be seen, shame and wrinkles and failures and fears and all.... What if you simply experimented with being who you are, out in the open, even as that feels difficult and awkward and sad? What if you just decided that you’re an artist, today, right now? You’re sensitive and erratic, maybe. You’re maudlin and also expansive. What would it look like to own that identity, as a means of making art, sure, but also as a means of owning your FULL SELF? You wouldn’t feel as angry at other artists. You would recognize them as kindred spirits...."

Heather Havrilesky gives a great answer to a great question at The Cut. Really, the question is also very well written and interesting. I was going to quote the question for this post, because I predicted the answer would be much less interesting than the question. But when I got to "Shame is the opposite of art," I changed my mind.

"I don’t want to be a Supreme Court Justice, but I’d love a recess appointment to the Court."

"It would be fun, and after a year or so I could go back to my normal life. And probably get a book out of it."

Writes Glenn Reynolds.

This gets one of my favorite tags: "normal."

"In our conversations, Vargas Llosa declined to discuss his romantic entanglements."

"When I asked him what had fractured his marriage to Patricia Llosa, which produced three children, he dropped all his smiles and chuckles. 'Look,' he said, 'that topic has to do with love. Love is probably the most enriching experience that a human being can have. Nothing transforms a person’s life as much as love. At the same time, love is a private experience. If it’s made public, it becomes cheap, shoddy, full of commonplaces. This is why it’s so hard to write about love in literature. You have to find the most clever ways so that it doesn’t lose its authenticity and become commonplace. So I think that a person shouldn’t talk about love precisely if love is so important in his life.' You’re a romantic, I said. 'I think we all are. I think that romanticism has marked our lives very much, that it’s very difficult not to be romantic in some way, although many of us don’t realize it. You live it or you reject it. You vaccinate yourself against it. Let’s say that I haven’t rejected it. When it’s happened, I’ve lived it.'... [His son] was enormously disappointed when Mario told ¡Hola! that his first year with Preysler had been the happiest year of his life. 'If the year in which you leave your wife of 50 years and you don’t speak to your son is the happiest year of your life... why say it publicly?'"

From "The Elder Statesman of Latin American Literature — and a Writer of Our Moment/Mario Vargas Llosa isn’t a household name among American readers. But at 81, he remains a literary and political colossus across the Spanish-speaking world, and his novels have never felt more relevant" (NYT).

Donna Alexander created "the 'Anger Room,' a business where rage-filled people of all kinds could smash glass and televisions and computers with baseball bats and tire irons and golf clubs..."

"Nathaniel Mitchell, 34, was indicted in Alexander’s death Tuesday after police say he broke into Alexander’s Dallas home through her bedroom window in the middle of the night and beat her about the head with an unknown object..." WaPo reports.
The Anger Room, as it was called, was cluttered with an assortment of furniture, computers and printers, glasses and bottles and dishes. She didn’t allow machetes or knives or ammunition and required everyone to wear safety goggles, a helmet and a jumpsuit. But otherwise, there were few rules. Upon request, she could even build the scene her customers most desired to destroy.....

"I figured the world needed something like this,” she said... “You see so many crimes, and so many tragedies going on worldwide, and I thought that maybe if there was an anger room somewhere, we could have prevented this, or we could have helped that person out. [The idea] kept growing inside of me until I finally got up and did it.”...

Before she died, Alexander was looking into expanding the Anger Room in Las Vegas and Kentucky. But without Alexander, the Anger Room is no longer in business, at least for now....
Here's a NYT article about her, "Anger Rooms: A Smashing New Way to Relieve Stress." It's from late November 2016, so there's this:
The American presidential election increased business at some anger rooms. Stressed-out voters traveled all the way to Toronto from New York before and after the election, says Steve Shew, co-founder of the Rage Room there. Customers wrote the name of the candidate they were frustrated with on a plate and smashed it.

At the Anger Room in Dallas, mannequins of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were taking beatings before the election. Customers demolished two Clinton mannequins, requiring replacements. But Trump attracted even more ire. “We’ve gone through at least three of the male mannequins that we have to dress up as Donald Trump,” Ms. Alexander says....
“Some of our typical options are baseball bats, golf clubs, two-by-fours,” Ms. Alexander says. “We get things like metal pipes, mannequin arms and legs, skillets, legs from tables. Sledgehammers, crowbars and things like that.” 
Police say Mitchell broke into her house in the middle of the night and beat her about the head with an unknown object....

"It Took a Jury 9 Minutes to Decide a Man Could Legally Blast 'Fuck tha Police' Near an Officer."

Reason reports.
[T]he officer slapped [James Webb] with a ticket for misdemeanor noise violation, citing that Webb played the song at an "extremely high volume."....

Prior to the verdict, the deputy said that he took issue with the vulgarity of the word "fuck" in the song. However, Nicholas Somberg, a lawyer who represented Webb pro bono, said that a video from the initial traffic stop showed the officer using the same word with Franklin.....

When asked what he would say to the officer who ticketed him, Webb told FOX 2 Detroit, "I don't know, just same as the song would say. Sorry. Sorry that you didn't get one over on somebody."

"Congress just voted to legalize hemp" — non-psychoactive cannabis.

Vox reports:
McConnell (R-KY), along with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), introduced the bill earlier this year. It was wrapped into the broader farm bill, which mostly deals with agriculture subsidies and food assistance programs, and passed with that legislation. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

For McConnell, the hope is to make hemp a new source of jobs for his home state: He said earlier this year that he hopes hemp “can become sometime in the future what tobacco was in Kentucky’s past.” ...

As it stands, farmers face several barriers to growing hemp due to federal prohibition — including restricted access to banking, water rights, and crop insurance. The bill removes these restrictions, putting the US Department of Agriculture and state agencies in charge of regulations.

December 12, 2018

At the Wednesday Café...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

And think of buying whatever you like through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Hillary Clinton tried her hand at Bollywood dancing last night at the wedding of India's richest heiress."

"The former first lady, who was seen wearing a back brace this summer, looked fit as a fiddle as she boogied with the king of Bollywood himself, Shah Rukh Khan. Dressed in Indian attire, the 71-year-old swung her hips and threw her arms in the air with a beaming smile. Mrs Clinton was joined by former Secretary of State John Kerry and a host of jubilant guests at the $100 million bash in Mumbai" (Daily Mail):

"In 2010, President Obama’s participation in a similar televised Q. & A. session with congressional Republicans was so well received by politicos and the press..."

"... that it inspired a short-lived bipartisan campaign, called 'Demand Question Time,' to bring the British tradition to the U.S. '[T]here was something riveting and moving about political opponents squaring off for an unfettered and unmoderated discussion of the challenges that face the nation,' *Mother Jones’*s David Corn wrote. 'Though nothing was resolved in terms of policy and legislation, this was a moment of optimism.' Tuesday’s lively Oval Office photo op—a sit-down between the Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, and President Trump and a sullen and silent Mike Pence—was perhaps the closest American politics has come to a repeat of that unusual day.... Repeatedly, in the course of the photo op, Pelosi tried to rein in the discussion... 'We came in here in good faith,' she told reporters, 'and we’re entering into this kind of a discussion in the public view.' Trump, naturally, was less perturbed. 'It’s not bad, Nancy,' he responded. 'It’s called transparency.' Trump’s surliness and Pelosi’s unease aside, the participation of public servants in public discussions about public affairs does seem healthy. It’s a wonder we’ve gone so long with so few of them."

Writes Osita Nwanevu in "Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer’s Oval Office Spat Is an Argument for More Public Debate" (The New Yorker).

Here's an article from Politico from 2010, "Left, right want Obama 'question time.'"
A politically diverse group of bloggers, commentators, techies and politicos on Wednesday will launch an online campaign, Demand Question Time, urging President Barack Obama and GOP congressional leaders to hold regular, televised conversations like the extraordinary exchange in Baltimore on Friday. Original endorsers include Grover Norquist and Eli Pariser, Joe Trippi and Mark McKinnon, Markos Moulitsas and Ed Morrissey, and many more, including Ari Melber, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Ana Marie Cox and Nate Silver. The steering committee is made up of Micah Sifry, David Corn, Mike Moffo, Mindy Finn, Jon Henke and Glenn Reynolds.

"Ms. Klaben and Mr. Flores crashed in terrain that was waist-deep in snow, with temperatures as numbing as 48 degrees below zero."

"Without wilderness survival training, Mr. Flores adapted nonetheless. He wrapped Ms. Klaben’s injured foot in her sweaters, covered the openings of the cabin with tarpaulins and tried, without success, to fix their radio to send out a distress signal and build rabbit traps. What little food Ms. Klaben and Mr. Flores had brought on board — a few cans of sardines, tuna fish, fruit salad and a box of Saltine crackers — was rationed and gone within 10 days. They drank water, some of it filtered through shreds of one of her dresses and boiled in an empty oil can. They ate bits of toothpaste that they squeezed from a half-filled tube — and virtually nothing else, they said.... To pass the time, they read books, including a book of poems by Robert Service and a Bible. At times, Mr. Flores tried to convert Ms. Klaben from Judaism to his Mormon faith. In early March, Mr. Flores left her for eight days — walking the treacherous ridge in snowshoes he had made of tree branches and wire — to find a clearing in the dense woods where they might be better seen from the air by bush pilots. He returned after finding a knoll about three-quarters of a mile away, and on Day 42 they set off for the spot, dragging a makeshift sled with their belongings. A few days later, he left her again and found a frozen pond on which he etched an enormous SOS sign, with an arrow that pointed to their campsite, hoping it would be seen from the air."

From the NYT obituary, "Helen Klaben Kahn, Survivor of a 49-Day Yukon Ordeal, Dies at 76."

This happened in 1962. In 1975, they made a TV movie about it — with Sally Struthers as Klaben and Ed Asner as the pilot Flores.

"One of the stranger and more bookish rumours about the princess..."

"... is 'that Princess Margaret, having read Richard Holmes’s biography of Coleridge, craved to see Nether Stowey. Accordingly she instructed her pilot on the way back from an official chore to circle several times around the Somerset cottage.'... Did the princess actually get through 402 pages of Holmes and then order a pilot of the royal flight to buzz Coleridge’s cottage? It sounds more than improbable, but the percentage of truth, if any, in the story would be a question for the traditional foot-slogging biographer. Instead, Brown gives us a chortling 11-page riff, describing this unverified event in 31 styles."

Writes Julian Barnes in a review of the book that in the U.S. is titled "Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret."

I'm reading that book and just got through the chapter with 31 retellings of the plane circling over Nether Stowey. Each version has a heading — "Journalistic," "Comic," "Statistical," "Discreet," "Confrontational," "Oleaginous," "Limerick," "Psychedelic," "Spoonerism," "Tragic." I love it. You certainly don't need to care in the slightest about Princess Margaret to enjoy this book. In fact, it will help if you don't. I know I don't.

Here's a passage I highlighted:
The Princess liked to one-up. I have heard from a variety of people that she would engineer the conversation around to the subject of children’s first words, asking each of her fellow guests what their own child’s first words had been. Having listened to responses like ‘Mama’ and ‘doggy’, she would say, ‘My boy’s first word was “chandelier”.’
The author is Craig Brown, I should mention.

"In October 2016, Ron Hiers and his wife, Carla, feeling despondent after years of addiction, had made a suicide pact to get high until they were dead, and ended up passed out by a bus stop in Memphis."

"A bystander live-streamed footage of the couple, and the video of them being mocked and laughed at was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people."

From "How Do You Recover After Millions Have Watched You Overdose?/Amid an opioid crisis, police and strangers with cameras are posting raw images of drug users passed out. For those whose bleakest moments now live online, life is never the same" (NYT).

The NYT embedded the video, so lots more people are seeing it now, including me. I'll refrain from embedding it, but I'll just say that the man and woman have fallen into ludicrous and humiliating positions on the sidewalk, and the passersby are circling around them, taking video and laughing at them. It's a very disturbing display of human despair and cruelty. The NYT doesn't mention it, but the man and woman on the sidewalk are white, and the people laughing at them are black.

If Breitbart had embedded that, the Times would’ve accused them of racism. And they might have been right.

"So perhaps instead of secularization it makes sense to talk about the fragmentation and personalization of Christianity — to describe America as a nation of Christian heretics..."

"...  if you will, in which traditional churches have been supplanted by self-help gurus and spiritual-political entrepreneurs.... There has to come a point at which a heresy becomes simply post-Christian, a moment when you should just believe people who claim they have left the biblical world-picture behind, a context where the new spiritualities add up to a new religion.... [T]he term 'paganism' might be reasonably revived to describe the new American religion, currently struggling to be born.... [The idea is] that divinity is fundamentally inside the world rather than outside it, that God or the gods or Being are ultimately part of nature rather than an external creator, and that meaning and morality and metaphysical experience are to be sought in a fuller communion with the immanent world rather than a leap toward the transcendent. This paganism is not materialist or atheistic; it allows for belief in spiritual and supernatural realities. It even accepts the possibility of an afterlife.... What ancient paganism did successfully was to unite this kind of popular supernaturalism with its own forms of highbrow pantheism and civil-religiosity.... To get a fully revived paganism in contemporary America... the philosophers of pantheism and civil religion would need to build a religious bridge to the New Agers and neo-pagans, and together they would need to create a more fully realized cult of the immanent divine, an actual way to worship, not just to appreciate, the pantheistic order they discern."

Writes Ross Douthat in "The Return of Paganism/Maybe there actually is a genuinely post-Christian future for America" (NYT).

Douthat wants organized religion. We all have our preference on the spectrum from order to chaos. He's too much of an order guy for my taste.

Headline typos are the worst.

"In other words, Lillico and his fellow researchers are putting alpha male sperm into beta male balls, so the big guys don’t have to do the work."

From "The Ham-maid's Tale: Swines, Sows and Sex in the CRISPR Age" (Wired).
The method is a marked improvement on the current, human facilitated (yes, really) way of breeding pigs, which usually involves a mountable bench, female pig pheromones and a glove. They don’t call them farmhands for nothing, you know… While this technique has produced results in the past, thanks to its clumsy and time-consuming nature, desirable traits don’t manifest for decades.

[Dr Simon Lillico, Core Scientist at The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh] and his international colleagues are looking to vastly reduce that time with their more scientific method – one that depends upon one of the great genetic advancements of the last decade: CRISPR.

This might be the most positive presentation of Trump I've ever seen in the New York Times.

This is the lead article at the NYT website right now:

A single author, Carl Hulse, begins:
The trick in Washington has always been to make sure a government shutdown is pinned on the other guy. President Trump is the first to ever pin one on himself.

In a new twist on the old game of shutdown politics dating to the 1990s, Mr. Trump was essentially goaded on Tuesday by Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York into embracing ownership of a shutdown yet to come if Democrats do not accede to his request for $5 billion to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico.
Pelosi and Schumer "goaded" him into that position? I read it as: Trump surprised Pelosi and Schumer with a move that they had no planned response for. Trump took the lead. In Hulse's telling, Trump was pushed.
“I will take the mantle,” Mr. Trump told the two Democratic leaders in the Oval Office, saying he would proudly close parts of the executive branch if he did not get his way. “I’m not going to blame you for it,” he continued. “The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.”

A smiling Mr. Schumer seemed more than satisfied with Mr. Trump’s retort. “O.K., fair enough,” he said.
So Schumer subtly enjoyed a little victory. In a good negotiation, perhaps, you get the other guy to feel buoyed by a sense of winning. But who's who? They can't all win, can they?
The moment was a little reminiscent of the climactic scene in “A Few Good Men,” when Tom Cruise’s character elicits an incriminating answer from Jack Nicholson’s Marine colonel. In this case, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer were more than happy to handle the president’s truth. Ms. Pelosi couldn’t say the term “Trump shutdown” enough times.
If I had just written "Mr. Schumer seemed more than satisfied," I would not proceed to say "Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer were more than happy." ("More than happy" is especially bad. It's a cliché, and for some of us, it's a cue to go looking for that old George Carlin clip.)

Anyway, casting Nancy and Chuck as Tom Cruise is a funny image. Remember, though, "A Few Good Men" is a movie, with a script that determined the ending. In the Nancy/Chuck versus Donald showdown, the American people will get whatever ideas they want — massaged by the media they select.

What I notice is that Trump played the media yesterday. He kept a negotiation going on in front of the cameras, even as Pelosi requested that the press go away. The media might like to take direction from Pelosi, but they're not going to turn away from the fantastic theater that Trump was putting on for them. Now, the video is out there, and the only thing the media can do is interpret and frame. The NYT idea is that Pelosi and Schumer were running the show. If they were, why were they the ones who wanted the cameras turned off?

In the 7th paragraph, Hulse says the things that suit the Trump-positive headline ("Playing by His Own Rules, Trump Flips the Shutdown Script"):
Mr. Trump has consistently played by his own rules in Washington, and perhaps this is just one more example of how he can upend the conventions of the capital and win a shutdown showdown on his own terms. Many of his most enthusiastic supporters are both anti-Washington and pro-border wall, so his decision to potentially close down a section of the federal government to secure funding for the wall could play well with them. It could also generate some welcome backing from his base at a time when he seems under siege on the legal end and is struggling to staff his administration as the two-year mark nears. In addition, the 2020 campaign is already on the president’s mind, and his efforts to limit immigration have worked for him in the past....

Politicians with more experience in government shutdowns aren’t so sure that is a good idea....
I know! We've been hearing from Politicians With More Experience ever since Trump brought his unique instincts into their domain. As Trump likes to say, we'll see what happens.

The University of Wisconsin announces a new study indicating that "humans are reversing a long-term cooling trend tracing back at least 50 million years."

Announcement here.
“If we think about the future in terms of the past, where we are going is uncharted territory for human society,” says the study’s lead author, Kevin Burke, a graduate student in the lab of paleoecologist John “Jack” Williams, professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “We are moving toward very dramatic changes over an extremely rapid time frame, reversing a planetary cooling trend in a matter of centuries.”

All of the species on Earth today had an ancestor that survived the Eocene and the Pliocene, but whether humans and the flora and fauna we are familiar with can adapt to these rapid changes remains to be seen. The accelerated rate of change appears to be faster than anything life on the planet has experienced before....

During the Eocene, Earth’s continents were packed more closely together and global temperatures averaged 13 degrees Celsius warmer than they are today. Dinosaurs had recently gone extinct and the first mammals, like ancestral whales and horses, were spreading across the globe. The Arctic was occupied by swampy forests like those found today in the southern U.S....

“We’ve seen big things happen in Earth’s history — new species evolved, life persists and species survive. But many species will be lost, and we live on this planet,” says Williams. “These are things to be concerned about, so this work points us to how we can use our history and Earth’s history to understand changes today and how we can best adapt.”

December 11, 2018

We are golden.

Just a David Crosby tweet I've been meaning to embed...

... and remembered today because I saw "David Crosby Only Sometimes Tweets While He’s High" at The Cut.

His mind exploded.

Trump "must have said the word ‘wall’ 30 times... It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him — This wall thing."

Politico reports on what Nancy Pelosi said after her meeting today with Trump.

Also — incredibly — she said "I was trying to be the mom," and "it goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you."

During the meeting, in the Oval Office, with the cameras running, Trump got ahead of the Democrats' effort to blame a government shutdown on him. He acted like he wanted it: "If we don't get what we want ... I will shut down the government... I am proud to shut down the government for border security... I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I won't blame you for it."

Person of the Year.

The article at TIME: "THE GUARDIANS AND THE WAR ON TRUTH." They couldn't just honor Khashoggi. I haven't combed through the article, but Trump's name is in there a lot, and I don't think he counts as one of the "guardians."

ADDED: I must add that I got there via the great Scott Adams tweet: "Fake News is Time's Person of the Year."

"The book treats us to the spectacle of a distinguished, gray-headed scholar... watching as a young artist commands her audience to spit Jell-O into her pantyhose."

"'I like to question the socially constructed notions of our sense of sex,' she declares. Our hapless sociologist-hero scribbles notes as a male art student screens hard-core pornography as part of his 'practice.' Another artist-in-waiting reflects: 'For me the vagina is the solution.'... The M.F.A. trains artists to talk about their work with slickness and flair, in conformity with the lexicon of the art world. The premise of M.F.A. education, Fine says, is 'helping students not only to be artists, but also to look the part.' Making art is not enough; aspiring artists must be able to articulate and defend the political and conceptual interventions their work performs. Learning to 'look the part' entails firm, sometimes punitive, lessons in self-presentation. This instruction takes place at the program’s central ritual: the critique.... One of the glorious features of contemporary art is that any material — tangled museum ropes, used lipstick tubes, untreated lumber — can be made interesting with the aid of a canny framing....  The ability to position one’s efforts as protest or satire, experiment or dream, is more than glib posturing. What the ritual of critique tests, however, is command of a particular vocabulary, one that emphasizes transgression, resistance, and rupture. An irony is that this insistence on verbal virtuosity privileges certain educational and class backgrounds."

From "Art-School Confidential/The expensive superficiality of M.F.A. programs" (Chronicle of Higher Education ) — a review in the book "Talking Art: The Culture of Practice and the Practice of Culture in MFA Education" by Gary Alan Fine.

As for the privileging of certain educational and class backgrounds — it also privileges a willingness to parrot, please, and bullshit. By the way, where's the transgression, resistance, and rupture if you're passing along your teachers' dedication to transgression, resistance, and rupture? It's such an obvious paradox. You'd need spirit and fortitude along with a determination to squander it. Do you get that with "certain educational and class backgrounds"? Maybe yes!

"Columbia University denounces student filmed harassing black students in 'racially charged' rant."

Yahoo News reports.

Video at the link, obviously taken out of context. I don't know what cranked this guy up to the level that's caught on video, the climax of which is: "White people are the best thing that ever happened to the world. We are so amazing. I love myself, and I love white people. Fuck you, white people! Fuck you, white men! White men! We did everything! I don’t hate other people, I just love my white men. I love white men!"

The inconsistent lines — "Fuck you, white people! Fuck you, white men!" — would support the theory that the rest of it is sarcastic. I don't know. Maybe when he says that he's switching to saying what he imagines the black students would say to him (or what they did say to him). I don't like video that begins in the middle of things, especially when it is offered for the destruction of a young person. [ADDED: I've listened to this way too many times, but a commenter is saying it's not "Fuck you," but "Fuck yeah." That would make more sense, but after multiple re-listens, I don't know for sure. And I think "Fuck yeah" could be heard as sarcastic too.]

I'll embed the video:

"This American Life" reveals more than you might expect about how Harvard discriminates against Chinese-American applicants.

I strongly recommend this 25-minute segment of "This American Life," "The Veritas Is Out There" (listen at that link or read the transcript). A propos of the lawsuit against Harvard, which alleges that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants, a Chinese-American who did get into Harvard looks at his own admissions file and sees what the alumnus who interviewed him had to say. This student, Alex Zhang, is on Harvard's side in the lawsuit: He wrote an amicus brief supporting Harvard and he got the Chinese Students Association to sign another pro-Harvard amicus brief. He doesn't change sides when he sees what's in his file, but he is sorely challenged.

The interviewer wrote a very long memo, strongly pushing Alex, but you can tell that the interviewer believed that the way to do that is to distinguish him from other Asian-American applicants. At one point the interviewer wrote "was this a perfect for MIT mechanical engineer playing me?" The "This American Life" producer, Diane Wu editorializes: "Perfect for MIT, I guess, is code for too boring for Harvard."

The most telling line in Alex's file is about his mother: "She is far from the stereotypical 'tiger mother.'" Wu asks Alex how he feels about that, and he says "it's true." Wu pushes harder: "Is it weird to you at all that the interviewer is pointing to stereotypes that you aren't? Is he a perfect-for-MIT engineer playing me, or does he have a tiger mom?" Alex concedes, "That's a good point."

Wu knows she's pushing: "As soon as I asked the question, I felt like I overstepped, like I was planting the idea in Alex's head that something racial was going on. But when I heard tiger mother, I thought, there is the implicit bias they're talking about in the lawsuit in a way more explicit form than I was expecting."

Alex cannot resist too much or he'll forfeit credibility: "Yeah, that is really weird. I guess it kind of goes into a narrative like the Asian applicant has to disprove certain things to be considered viable for something ivy league."

Wu paraphrases: "In other words, if you want to get into Harvard, don't be too Asian."

Alex: "Hmm. That makes sense. I don't know what his motivations are, my interviewer's motivations. Maybe the interviewer was like, oh, I should distinguish him from other Asians, or maybe he just does it subconsciously."

Alex's friends saw his screen grab [of his admissions file] saying tiger mom and perfect-for-MIT engineer and texted him back, oh, my god and that's kind of horrible. Tiger mom was actually a lot more explicit than any of the examples of bias that came up at the trial. It was really a fight over statistics and economic models, but a few stereotypes did come up. They were subtle. Things like Harvard referring to Asian applicants as one-dimensional or book smart.
So "This American Life" gets Alex talking to the alum who wrote the memo, Jim McCandlish (who is, according to Alex, "an old white guy" with a "Chinese wife"). McCandlish without obvious prompting, reveals an attitude that is — though he doesn't seem to notice — very damaging to Harvard's position in the lawsuit. This is McCandlish:
Most likely, at least certainly from a place like Oregon, the interviewer is Caucasian. And we know there are stereotypes. I'm just curious how that plays out. If you have an expectation that an Asian interviewee is going to have a drab personality or meek and mild, you may play into your stereotype and not develop the rapport that would defeat the stereotype or at least resist it. You're in a really gray area of human nature.
Alex asks him about "tiger mom," and McCandlish says, "Well, recall, I live with one" (that's how he refers to his wife, this man who went to Harvard).  He adds: "I live with a tiger mom and fight it all the time." (I'm not sure what "it" is. Does he fight the tigerish qualities of his own wife or is he fighting other people who hold negative stereotypes against persons of Chinese descent?)

Later, McCandlish says — and remember, he went to Harvard — "I use that term because I'm an Amy Tan fan." He must have meant Amy Chua, author of "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother." Amy Tan is another author, as Wu explains. Tan wrote "The Joy Luck Club." (But see this review of Amy Tan's memoir "Where the Past Begins" that says it would make sense to call it "Post-Battle Hymn Of The Damaged Daughter Of A Tiger Mother.")

In an interview with Wu that McCandlish didn't allow to be recorded, Wu says he admitted that he was trying to get Alex in by — in Wu's words — "overtly pointing out to the admissions officers that Alex was different from other Chinese-American applicants. That this young man did not fit whatever stereotypes that he or the admissions officers might have."

Later, we hear Alex wondering why having a "tiger mom" should count against you: "Is that not part of your upbringing and who you are now?... There seems to be these very negative connotations about the way Asians are raised or the way that they behave growing up. And it just seems like there's this very deeply ingrained prejudice and misunderstanding."

Ambiguous headline I read the way the Washington Examiner did not intend.

"Is Team Trump ready for Pelosi's 'death by a thousand cuts'?"

"The joke wasn’t funny to me anymore..."

From "Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acts Out/The actress on challenging comedy’s sexism, fighting cancer, and becoming the star of her own show" (The New Yorker)
Louis-Dreyfus, who is fifty-seven, had a memorable part in the 2015 sketch “Last Fuckable Day,” on the Comedy Central series “Inside Amy Schumer.” In it, Schumer is hiking through the woods when she happens upon Patricia Arquette and Tina Fey, feasting and drinking toasts to Louis-Dreyfus. “In every actress’s life, the media decides when you finally reach the point where you’re not believably fuckable anymore,” Louis-Dreyfus explains. “I’m thrilled. Ecstatic!” Then she guzzles a quart of melted ice cream, burps, and farts. “Who tells men when it’s their last fuckable day?” Schumer asks. The other women crack up.

“I don’t know why, exactly, but there was a moment while I was doing it in which I lost my sense of humor about it,” Louis-Dreyfus told me. “The joke wasn’t funny to me anymore, and I had this complete crisis of confidence.”
Here's the sketch. I could only get through the first minute and five seconds of what goes on for almost 5 minutes.  I get that the criticism is of "the media," and I don’t know why, exactly, but there was a moment while I was watching it in which I lost my sense of humor about it. It was 1:06.

ADDED: Who wrote that sketch? Amy Schumer? If so, this is Julia Louis-Dreyfus trashing Schumer. I looked it up and found "An Oral History of Amy Schumer’s 'Last Fuckable Day' Sketch/The inspiration, the improvised lines from Tina Fey, and the 'total dream day' when it all came together" (a Vanity Fair article by Bruce Handy from 2016):
Amy Schumer, executive producer, writer, star, Inside Amy Schumer: “Last Fuckable Day”—that was like Jessi’s and my baby....

Jessi Klein, executive producer, head writer, Inside Amy Schumer: This sketch had kind of been my white whale for a long time. It came out of a conversation we were all having one morning [in the writers’ room]. I think we were just talking about magazines, like Us Weekly. I don’t remember what the exact conversation was. Probably we were talking about Susan Sarandon, just because she’s had to carry the mantle of being the fuckable older actress for so long. Like is there that moment where it just stops? And someone—I don’t remember who—said, “Oh, what’s her last fuckable day?” And everyone was like, that’s such a funny idea. Like one day Halle Berry, I guess, will have a last fuckable day?...

Kent Alterman, president of original programming, Comedy Central: “Last Fuckable Day” was originally written for, I think, Sigourney Weaver and Susan Sarandon and, I can’t remember, one other actor. It was just always a scheduling problem. I think there was interest. It went through a couple seasons as a possibility.

Amy Schumer: Everyone said no—the actresses. They didn’t want to be in a scene called “Last Fuckable Day.” Jessi had to do a million rewrites, because we kept switching the actresses we were sending it to. Like, “O.K., we’re sending it to Julianne Moore. Change it so that it makes sense for her.” But we wound up getting the best cast. Like it was thank God that the first batch said no....
ALSO: "Fuckable" is such an ugly word, but it's in the Oxford English Dictionary, which shows it's been around a long time. The oldest example found in print:
?1889 ‘C. Deveureux’ Vénus in India II. 113 The poor man had at last outwitted his careful wife and obtained a much longed for, fuckable cunt.

Things to say cheerfully....

From "Your aging brain: Is it 'use it or lose it'?" (LA Times):
When older loved ones open a holiday gift of brain teasers, a chessboard or Sudoku puzzles, you can cheerfully remind them that such lifelong mental exercise will probably arrest their eventual mental slide at a slightly higher point than might otherwise be the case.

"She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b-tch,’ ‘just die.'"

Said an aunt, quoted in "9-year-old committed suicide after classmates taunted ‘kill yourself’: family."

"If I had the courage to come back to Waco and face my rapist and testify, you could at least have had enough respect for me to show up today."

"You both will have to live with this decision to let a rapist run free in society without any warning to future victims.... It must be horrible to be you... To know what you did to me. To know you are a rapist. To know that you almost killed me. To know that you ruined my life, stole my virginity and stole many other things from me."

Said the victim, quoted in "Accused of rape, former Baylor fraternity president gets no jail time after plea deal" (WaPo). She was addressing the prosecutors, who did not attend the hearing, and — beginning with "It must be horrible to be you" — the accused.

The WaPo article links to Star Telegram in "Ex-frat president at Baylor gets no jail time in rape case as judge accepts plea deal."

How to construct a crossword puzzle.

A nice demonstration by David Kwong, which I noticed because I was reading Rex Parker's write up of today's NYT puzzle, which included this delightful it-can't-be moment:

December 10, 2018

At the Winter Sky Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And think about using the Althouse Portal to Amazon. If you want to buy what I bought, buy "Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret."

Watching TV naked... is that weird?

"I'm scared. I'm scared by him, by his possibility. And I do empathize with him. I can’t imagine what his 3 a.m. is like."

"There’s a gathering storm—everyone feels it, he feels it. His children are in jeopardy, and I feel that. I think, 'What if my children were in jeopardy?' I would do anything — anything — to get them out of trouble. So we should be afraid. That’s what I think."

Said Meryl Streep, quoted in "Meryl Streep on Why People 'Should Be Afraid' of Trump" (Hollywood Reporter).

"The Gathering Storm" is the title of the first volume of Winston Churchill's history of World War II. There are 2 films about Churchill with that title, one from 1974 starring Richard Burton and one from 2004 starring Albert Finney. Last year's movie about Winston Churchill, with Gary Oldman, was called "Darkest Hour." "Darkest Hour" is not the title of any of the WWII volumes. It's just "a phrase coined by British prime minister Winston Churchill to describe the period of World War II between the Fall of France in June 1940 and the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 (totaling 363 days, or 11 months and 28 days), when the British Empire and Commonwealth stood alone (or almost alone after the Italian invasion of Greece) against the Axis Powers in Europe."

At least Meryl Streep didn't feel that it's our darkest hour. It could be worse.

Meryl Streep is one of the all-time great movie actors. So was Richard Burton. Here he is agonizing over the gathering storm in "The Gathering Storm." He's in his jammies, so it's easy to view this as a visualization of Trump at 3 a.m. (in case you, like Meryl, are trying to do that and face an impoverishment of imagination):

IN THE COMMENTS: Ken B said: "What starlet was in danger from Harvey Weinstein, when Streep knew about him, and kept his secret? What about her 3 a.m.?"

"What made Warhol thrilling in 1962 acquired a bitter aura in November 2016."

" As [Adam D. Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum] points out, Donald Trump has made admiring reference to Warhol and his dictum 'Making money is art, and working is art, and good business is the best art.' What to make, then, in an era of trash politics, of an art that celebrated trash? The exhibit follows him from a super-devout Catholic family in the Slavic ghettos of Pittsburgh—a boy who was cripplingly shy, ill-assimilated, and often confined to a sickbed; a boy for whom thought, expression, and narrative were pain—as he turned himself into Andy Warhol. What can this story tell us about our own anti-humanist swerve?... The less we push back on the idea that prurience and detritus represent the sum of it, the greater [Warhol's] powers of divination seem.... [It speaks] to the condition of all art, maybe all modernity, and with a retroactive power that rewrites everything that came before it. An inner life, a sense of vocation, a distrust of fame and a special loathing for speculative fortunes, a personal relationship with God (or nature) that the image may partake in but never supplant—Warholism negates it all. No wonder he has never been bigger."

From "Warhol’s Bleak Prophecy/What a new retrospective reveals about the artist, and about our swerve away from humanism" (The Atlantic).

I wonder what Warhol would mean if Hillary Clinton had been elected President?

"Fischbach is one of five gamers on this year’s [top 10 YouTube stars] list...."

"It pays to play: Compared with other common YouTube categories, such as scripted comedy or elaborate pranks, gaming clips can be produced and edited quickly; some gamers post new footage daily. More posts mean more viewers, naturally—and more ad dollars. (The going rate for top online talent, Forbes estimates, is about $5 per thousand views.) It helps, too, that the same young viewers who eschew television in favor of YouTube are bonkers for video games. 'Ten to 15 years ago, gaming wasn’t cool. You didn’t game because it was cool, you gamed because you loved it,' says David Huntzinger, a digital-talent agent at WME. 'Now you have Drake going on Twitch and playing Fortnite, and [professional] athletes in the locker room saying they can’t stop playing Xbox—it’s what these kids are living and breathing.'"

From "Highest-Paid YouTube Stars 2018: Markiplier, Jake Paul, PewDiePie And More" (Forbes).

"Celebrities including Beyoncé, Arianna Huffington, Sachin Tendulkar and Hillary Clinton have arrived in the Indian state of Rajasthan for the wedding of the daughter of country’s richest man."

The Guardian reports.

"I think lot of Korean women are wearing an 'appearance-corset.' They have this immense fear of the face they show to others."

"I heard that women feel especially shameful when they hear that they are ugly. I was like that as well. Certain people said stuff like, 'you're not even trying anyway' and 'a corset wouldn't even fit you.' There were even death threats saying that they will come find me and kill me."

Said Lina Bae, who was one of those make-up how-to YouTube stars, quoted in a BBC article.
Bae is part of a growing movement of young women in South Korea who are challenging long-held beauty ideals. They call themselves the "escape the corset" movement. Many shave off their long hair and go without make-up then post the results on social media.

Embeddable if only for the fantastic photograph.

"They operate like the mafia. If they pull your hechsher, you are screwed. They tell other places not to give you a hechsher."

Said Chaim Kirshner, the owner of a Kosher restaurant — a "hechsher" is kosher certification — quoted in "NYC kosher cops force restaurants to cancel bookings of lesbian Jewish comic" (NY Daily News).
[Leah] Forster’s life as a Jewish lesbian isn’t part of her act, but rabbis from the Vaad Harabanim of Flatbush, the kosher certification organization, still decided hosting her event would be a violation of Torah law.
And what about the city's anti-discrimination law? The Commission on Human Rights may look into the problem. Must the restaurant refrain from discrimination and forfeit its kosher certification (and thus be ruined as a business) or does the anti-discrimination law somehow forbid the kosher certification organization from pulling the certification on this ground? Notice how in this case — unlike the Masterpiece Cakes controversy — the business owner does not want to discriminate against the gay person: he wants a private organization to regard his business as properly religious and that organization demands discrimination.

"Tony Evers 'not particularly encouraged' by chat with Scott Walker on vetoing GOP lame-duck bills."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports. It's interesting that they did meet and talk. When Evers first asked for the talk, I thought maybe it would be difficult for Walker to sit there with Evers face to face and justify cutting back the incoming governor's power.
Taking to the national airwaves on NBC's "Meet the Press," Evers said in an interview airing Sunday morning that he "communicated with Gov. Walker over the telephone a few days ago."
Oh! It was not face to face.
"I made that pitch, and he was noncommittal," Evers said. "I know publicly he has said in other arenas he plans to sign most of all of it. So I'm not particularly encouraged at this point in time. But it's around Scott Walker's legacy. He has the opportunity to change this and actually validate the will of the people that voted on Nov. 6."

No "smocking" gun.

It's not a typo if you do it twice. The question is whether it's a deliberate misspelling to infuse the message with virality. "Smocking" is what makes this special.

By the way, the Urban Dictionary definition for "smock" is "small cock."

"Meet the Bottomless Pinocchio, a new rating for a false claim repeated over and over again."

Glenn Kessler, the WaPo "Fact Checker," is thoroughly exasperated.
Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation....
It used to work, this fact correction power. What happened? Well, Trump happened....

ADDED: Jack Kerouac advised: "Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind" (previously quoted by me in July 2009).

December 9, 2018

Out on Lake Mendota today: trumpeter swans.

Video'd by me from the beach on Picnic Point.

It was 50 years ago today: "The Mother of All Demos."

"'The Mother of All Demos' is a name retroactively applied to a landmark computer demonstration, given at the Association for Computing Machinery / Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (ACM/IEEE)—Computer Society's Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, which was presented by Douglas Engelbart on December 9, 1968," says Wikipedia.
The live demonstration featured the introduction of a complete computer hardware and software system called the oN-Line System or, more commonly, NLS. The 90-minute presentation essentially demonstrated almost all the fundamental elements of modern personal computing: windows, hypertext, graphics, efficient navigation and command input, video conferencing, the computer mouse, word processing, dynamic file linking, revision control, and a collaborative real-time editor (collaborative work). Engelbart's presentation was the first to publicly demonstrate all of these elements in a single system. The demonstration was highly influential and spawned similar projects at Xerox PARC in the early 1970s. The underlying technologies influenced both the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows graphical user interface operating systems in the 1980s and 1990s....

During the 90-minute presentation, Engelbart used his mouse prototype to move around the screen, highlight text, and resize windows. This was the first time that an integrated system for manipulating text onscreen was presented publicly....

Prior to the demonstration, a significant portion of the computer science community thought Engelbart was "a crackpot." When he was finished, he was described as "dealing lightning with both hands."

Snoop Dogg has some advice for Kevin Hart.

Addressing the ousting of Kevin Hart as Oscars host (because of some bad homophobic jokes years ago), Snoop Dogg says, "That ain't our kind of shit, no way. Oscars??! Yeah, right. Come do the BET Awards. Or Soul Train. They don't care. You're a comedian. Cracking jokes. Really? Y'all want me to host it now? Nah. I don't think so. I got shit to do. And I got way more customers before I get to you. Kevin Hart, smoke a blunt. Tell the Academy to suck a dick or die trying. Fuck 'em. We still love you... Fuck the Grammys too."

I enjoyed that little tirade, with very amusing comic pauses. It expresses something it's important to notice — the racial dimension of a strict enforcement of political correctness. As I said in the earlier post about the crushing of Kyler Murray's great moment — political correctness itself can be politically incorrect.