July 16, 2019

"The House voted on Tuesday to condemn as racist President Trump’s attacks against four congresswomen of color..."

"... but only after the debate over the president’s language devolved into a bitterly partisan brawl that showcased deep rifts over race, ethnicity and political ideology in the age of Trump," the NYT reports.
Some Republicans were... adamant in their defense of Mr. Trump: “What has really happened here is that the president and his supporters have been forced to endure months of allegations of racism,” said Representative Dan Meuser, Republican of Pennsylvania. “This ridiculous slander does a disservice to our nation.”...

“There’s no excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong, unified condemnation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as the House debated the resolution. “Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets.” As Republicans rose to protest, Ms. Pelosi turned toward them on the House floor and picked up her speech, her voice rising as she added, “To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.”

Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, made a formal objection to the remarks, charging that they had violated the rules of decorum in the House, which call for lawmakers to avoid impugning the motives of their colleagues or the president.... Republicans sought to turn the tables and condemn Ms. Pelosi for her remarks about Mr. Trump — which many Democrats had echoed in their own speeches before her — touching off tumult as officials scrambled to review House rules and determine how to proceed.... The move by Republicans to have her words stricken from the record then failed along party lines, and Ms. Pelosi was unrepentant.

“I stand by my statement,” she said as she strode through the Capitol. “I’m proud of the attention being called to it because what the president said was completely inappropriate.”...
What a painful spectacle! I watched a good deal of it on C-SPAN and it struck me as a perversion of the legislative function — appropriating the institutions of government for the purpose of exaggerated, ugly political speech. Take it to Twitter, why don't you? The Democrats were interpreting the President's remarks, which were only, at worst, implicitly racist, and condemning him based on their interpretation — their partisan interpretation. That does not belong in Congress.

Justice John Paul Stevens has died.

He lived to the age of 99.

Linda Greenhouse has a long obituary in the NYT. Excerpt:
When he retired in 2010 at the age of 90, Justice Stevens was the second-oldest and the second-longest-serving justice ever to sit on the court. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was about eight months older when he retired in 1932, and William O. Douglas had served 36 years (1939-75)....
Justice Stevens served for 35 years.
Societal debates over the rights of gay men and lesbians, the role of race, private property rights, environmental regulation and the separation of church and state also made their way onto the Supreme Court’s docket, and Justice Stevens, a soft-spoken Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago, was as surprised as anyone to find himself not only taking the liberal side but also becoming its ardent champion....

[In his early years on the Court his] reputation was that of a very smart, nonideological, slightly quirky loner who, if a case was decided by a vote of 8 to 1, was as likely as not to be the solitary dissenter, caring neither to lead nor to follow....

At the Lunchtime Café...

Backyard woodland

... take a walk on the dappled path.

(Or — if you must shop — think of using The Althouse Portal to Amazon. I don't really know what "prime day" is, but I read at Instapundit this morning that there were bargains "out the wazoo." I didn't even know that Amazon had a wazoo.)

"Pottery Barn is releasing a new collection inspired by Friends, including accessories, furniture and tabletop items."

"The items [include] the Pottery Barn apothecary table that Rachel convinced Phoebe was a one-of-a-kind antique in a legendary Season 6 episode titled – wait for it – 'The One with the Apothecary Table.' In that classic, Rachel bought the table from a Pottery Barn catalog, and then, upon learning that 'Phoebe hates Pottery Barn' from Monica, try to pass it off as a flea market find."

Deadline reports.

With certain topics, mainstream media completely forgets about the issue of climate change.

At least the first commenter brings it up: "Also: climate change still exists."

The article, in The Washington Post, is "Airfare is dropping — and you can enjoy the trend through September." It's a gung-ho promotion of air travel. You should do it because it's cheap, and there's not one word of caution or opprobrium, nothing but encouragement to stomp down the biggest possible carbon footprint. If low prices were the "trend" for gas-guzzler cars, WaPo wouldn't publish a hey-kids-check-out-the-bargains article.

Another commenter says, "If you love your children/grandchildren stay on the ground!/A humble request from a Swede," and gets pushed back with "I will only do that when you have convinced me that we have done everything else" and "The biggest burden on the planet comes from having children and grand children. That's my humble request."

Yeah, that's another topic where mainstream media completely forgets about the issue of climate change. Having children.

Everybody who's activated about climate change still has some amnesia-inducing topics. I like confronting people about it, to see how they fight back. Probably not with, Oh, you're right, I really do need to apply the same standard across the board and not be a hypocrite.

ADDED: The ultimate amnesia topic has got to be air conditioning. As the heat goes up — which it does every summer, quite apart from the long-term global-warming phenomenon — people want their air conditioning. As it gets hotter, they're going to be more resistant to giving up air conditioning, and I predict there will be a decline in concern about global warming as it increases, because the desire for air conditioning — now — is going to create a mental block about believing in something that is happening slowly and subtly. But wait. Why am I so pessimistic? I stop and Google "zero carbon footprint air conditioning" and find "WHAT IF AIR CONDITIONERS COULD HELP SAVE THE PLANET INSTEAD OF DESTROYING IT?" (Wired):
Using technology currently in development, AC units in skyscrapers and even your home could get turned into machines that not only capture CO2, but transform the stuff into a fuel for powering vehicles that are difficult to electrify, like cargo ships. The concept, called crowd oil, is still theoretical and faces many challenges....

First of all, you’d need to incorporate a filter that would absorb CO2 and water from the air. You’d also need to include an electrolyzer to strip the oxygen molecule from H2O to get H2, which you’d then combine with CO2 to get hydrocarbon fuels. “Everyone can have their own oil well, basically,” [materials chemist Geoffrey] Ozin says.

For this process to be carbon neutral, though, all those souped-up air conditioners would need to be powered with renewables, because burning the synthetic fuel would also produce emissions. To address that problem, Dittmeyer proposes turning whole buildings into solar panels—placing them not just on rooftops but potentially coating facades and windows with ultrathin, largely transparent panels. “It's like a tree—the skyscraper or house you live in produces a chemical reaction,” Dittmeyer says. “It's like the glucose that a tree is producing.”...

"The Justice Department will not bring federal charges against a New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, ending a yearslong inquiry..."

"... into a case that sharply divided officials and prompted national protests over excessive force by the police, according to three people briefed on the decision....  A state grand jury declined to bring charges against Officer Pantaleo in December 2014.... But a federal investigation into Mr. Garner’s death proceeded, sharply dividing the Justice Department under four attorneys general and two presidents.... The attorney general at the time of the death, Eric H. Holder Jr., said that evidence strongly suggested that the federal government should bring charges against Officer Pantaleo.... While career civil rights prosecutors agreed with Mr. Holder, prosecutors under the United States attorney in Brooklyn, Loretta E. Lynch, sharply disagreed.... After Ms. Lynch succeeded Mr. Holder in April 2015, officials... worked to convince her that the officers had used excessive force and had likely violated Mr. Garner’s civil rights.... But the case stalled again after Mr. Trump won the presidential election and appointed Jeff Sessions as his attorney general. Civil rights division prosecutors recommended that charges be brought, and they asked the deputy attorney general at the time, Rod J. Rosenstein, about indicting Officer Pantaleo. But Mr. Rosenstein did not allow the department to move forward on an indictment, and many officials said they believed that there was a good chance that the government would lose the case should it go to trial...."

From "Eric Garner’s Death Will Not Lead to Federal Charges for N.Y.P.D. Officer/The decision came five years after Mr. Garner’s dying words — 'I can’t breathe' — became a rallying cry" (NYT).

"How hot is too hot? Will we be, like, ow! all the time?"

Marianne Williamson is polling higher than Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jay Inslee...

I say out loud (as I read about a new poll of registered voters in New Hampshire).

The response from Meade was singing: "Hey, Marianne, what's your game now, can anybody play?" Based on:



It's a pretty small poll — only 390 respondents — but it's fascinating that Marianne Williamson got 1.5%, and "serious" candidates Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Jay Inslee lagged behind (with 1.2, 1.0, 0.7, and 0.3, respectively).

ADDED: If a pollster called you up, why wouldn't you say "Marianne"? It says so many things. For example it says: I know who you are pollster, but you don't know me, you don't know anything about my world.

AND: Screw the pollsters! Everyone should say "Marianne."

Biden's entry in the game of words.


How well did Biden do? Pick what's closest to your reaction after watching the video clip.
 
pollcode.com free polls

"The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass..."

"... and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist & public..... .... .....shouting of the F...word, among many other terrible things, and the petrified Dems run for the hills. Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!"

Tweeted Trump, just now.

1. He's a master of Tweet-talk — he's tweet-talking us — but he makes language mistakes that I would edit out. He writes, "the petrified Dems run for the hills," but if you are petrified — the dead metaphor is turned to stone — you can't move, so you can't run. (The OED gives this example from Jack London's "White Fang": "The cub was in a frenzy of terror, yet he lay without movement or sound, frozen, petrified into immobility, to all appearances dead.")

2. But "petrified" is a slightly unusual word, so it works as a stimulant.

3. The implicit subject is that Nancy Pelosi is going forward with a vote to condemn Trump for his "Why don't they go back..." tweets (which we discussed here yesterday). Trump is certainly not backing down. He doesn't do that, and how could that possibly work? If he ever withdrew a remark and apologized, his antagonists would react by demanding another concession. So he plunges forward, in attack mode: "Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said?" You don't like what I said, look at what you said. And on and on.

4. A return of the iconic "Sad!"

5. The key line is: "Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on." He's tying all the Democrats to a small, vocal group that the Democrats don't want as their brand. He's taunting them: You can't even distance yourself from this small group, within your own party, for your own sake. Implied: How can you be trusted to defend America?

6. Look at the arc of emotion in Trump's brief statement: It begins with hate (the "spewing" of "vile, hateful, and disgusting things") and proceeds to love ("a big embrace") and then to anger ("shouting of the F...word") and then to fear ("petrified Dems... afraid to take them on"), and finally sadness ("Sad!"). The hate and anger are projected outward from the small subgroup of Democrats. The love and fear are experienced within the fragile body of mainstream Democrats. And the sadness is Trump's idea of the appropriate reaction from anyone watching.

7. Look at the narrative of action: the small subgroup of Democrats spews. The more sensible Democrats have one strong action — the big hug — and the rest is weakness — frozen into immobility or running. Yes, there's that implied activity, voting to condemn Trump, but he doesn't mention it. His defense is to go on the offense. Yet he assumes the position of standing back and observing and finding it sad.

July 15, 2019

At the Windowbox Basil Café...

Window-box basil

... you can pick your topic.

Why are Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna S. Pressley called "The Squad"?

I keep seeing the term without an explanation of its origin. It wasn't easy to Google — especially with all the clutter having to do with Trump's recent tweets, which we're already discussing here. This post is just about the term "The Squad."

I decided to search the NYT archive for the 4 names plus "the squad" and to look at the oldest  all of the returns. The oldest article was "For All the Talk of a Tea Party of the Left, Moderates Emerge as a Democratic Power" (June 30):
While the House’s liberal superstars are adept at promoting their progressive positions and routinely generate headlines for breaking with the party line, they have not made a habit of lobbying their colleagues to defy Ms. Pelosi en masse. Last week, the foursome known as The Squad...
No explanation of who started that term and why.

The second-oldest is "It’s Nancy Pelosi’s Parade/'If the left doesn’t think I’m left enough, so be it,' she told me," a Maureen Dowd column from July 6th.
I asked Pelosi whether...it was jarring to get a bad headline like the one in HuffPost that day — “What The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing?” The article described the outrage of the Squad, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts are known.
The term is not explained in the Dowd column (and isn't used in the HuffPo piece).

Next oldest is "Tensions Between Pelosi and Progressive Democrats of ‘the Squad’ Burst Into Flame" (July 9th):
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they have no following in Congress. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York shot back that she and three of her fellow liberal freshmen, darlings of the left known collectively as “the squad,” are wielding the real power in the party.... The contretemps began when Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist, asked Ms. Pelosi about the squad’s fury over the border aid package... The squad and its allies argue that they are tapping into the real energy in the Democratic base with their uncompromising and unapologetic stances....
Again, the term is used with no explanation. Further down, we see:
“AOC and The Squad have changed the entire national debate,” said an email rehashing the spat from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which offered a colorful “I STAND WITH AOC” sticker to anyone who donated to their work “electing more AOC’s to Congress.”
That suggests that the women came up with that name for themselves. Why would they do that? Maybe they're taking an epithet and wearing it with pride. I don't know.

There's also this other usage of "squad" in that article:
“This is an inevitable tension between a few progressives with one priority, which is their ideology, and a speaker with many priorities, including preserving the majority in the House, electing a Democratic president against Trump, and responding to the consensus of her caucus,” said Steve Israel, a Democrat and former representative of New York. “To the extent that it distracts from Donald Trump and becomes a circular firing squad among Democrats, it can be lethal.”
I am going to guess that talk of a circular firing squad — there's been a lot of that — led to calling the 4 Congresswomen "The Squad." That would explain why the explanation of the origin is suppressed. Too violent. Too much like a death threat.

Consulting Urban Dictionary, I can see that the use of the term could be experienced as racist: "Crew, posse, gang: an informal group of individuals with a common identity and a sense of solidarity. The term is a bit flashy and is more likely to be heard in hip-hop lyrics than in spoken conversation"/"A word overused by teenagers that think they're ghetto to describe their clique of friends"/"A dumb word only used by white middle schoolers in suburban areas to describe their group of friends and try to sound ghetto. It doesnt make them sound ghetto, but actually increases their whiteness."

How embarrassing! Embarrassingness increases the likelihood that this is the real origin of the term, since the source of the term isn't talked about.

I get the feeling Maureen Dowd heard the term and thought it was hip/cute/clever and she went public with it without understanding the problem with it. Now, they're stuck with it and vulnerable if anyone is ever curious enough to ask about the origin.

ADDED: From Elle Magazine in 2015: "Meet Hillary Clinton's Girl Squad/On Wednesdays, they wear pantsuits." Also, from 2018: "What Happened to Taylor Swift's Girl Squad?/Taylor Swift practically invented #SquadGoals, and now she's traveling solo inside her own suitcase. What gives?"

"Law Profs Weigh In: What Is The Appropriate Response When A White Student Wears A MAGA Hat In Class?"

Lawprof Paul Caron follows up on his earlier post, "What Should A Black Law Professor Do When A White Student Wears A MAGA Hat In Class?"

I passed on blogging this story earlier, and I'm trying to remember exactly why. Was it that I knew the young lawprof was going to get slammed and I'd have to join the pile-on? Something like that. The professor —  Jeffrey Omari — scored a column in the ABA Journal. Excerpt:
I was unsure whether the student was directing a hateful message toward me or if he merely lacked decorum and was oblivious to how his hat might be interpreted by his black law professor. I presumed it was the former. As the student sat there directly in front of me, his shiny red MAGA hat was like a siren spewing derogatory racial obscenities at me for the duration of the one hour and fifteen-minute class. ...

As my blood boiled inwardly, outwardly I remained calm. In an effort to assuage the perceived tension, I jokingly told the student, “I like your hat,” when he raised his hand to participate in class discussion. Without missing a beat, the student mockingly grinned from ear to ear and said, “Thank you.”  
He was that angry, but he assures us he appeared perfectly calm and successfully delivered what others would receive as a joke. He knows what's in his head, and how he looks to others, which is reading the inside of their head. How could he know that the students didn't hear his joke as the sarcasm it was? He's sure he knows the student's grin was mockery? Did he consider that the student may have believed that outwardly he remained perfectly polite?

Anyway, all the lawprofs easily arrive at the opinion that a professor should allow students to wear their politically expressive clothing without regard to viewpoint and it was really wrong to publish an article calling a particular, identifiable student a racist.

I really don't see how a person can teach if they get angry at students. Even if you do have a superpower of preventing it from showing, you're the teacher, you're the one with the power. You shouldn't be getting angry at them.

His shiny red MAGA hat was like a siren spewing derogatory racial obscenities at me... MAGA hats are shiny?

"One day in early June, Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, tapped the glass of the bakery case at a Blue Bottle coffee shop on a non-iconic block in Beverly Hills."

"No one seemed to know who she was—another polished professional woman, grabbing an afternoon coffee—which was fine by her. She had chosen the spot, presumably for the anonymity. A few minutes later, her body woman delivered her a cookie: caramel chocolate chip, covered in a light snowfall of flaky salt. As Harris broke off small pieces and popped them in her mouth, we talked about her early life, rummaging through the layers for identifying details. The child of immigrant academics who divorced when she was young—her mother, a cancer researcher, came from India, and her father, an economist, from Jamaica—Harris grew up between Oakland and the Berkeley flats, but also spent time in college towns in the Midwest and a few years in Montreal, where her mother was teaching. 'A very vivid memory of my childhood was the Mayflower truck,' she told me. 'We moved a lot.' She speaks some French. She loves to cook and enjoys dancing, puns. She tells her own story uneasily. 'It’s like extracting stuff from me,' she apologized. 'I’m not good at talking about myself.'"

The inauspicious beginning of "Kamala Harris Makes Her Case/The Presidential candidate has been criticized as a defender of the status quo/Can she prove that she’s a force for change?" by Dana Goodyear (The New Yorker).

Here's my screen shot of one of the 2 Blue Bottle coffee shops in Beverly Hills (from Google Maps):



Where do you go when you want to look like just another polished professional and you want to pop a light snowfall of flaky salt and talk about yourself without talking about yourself?

Did I read the rest of the article? Okay, I'll force myself to skim, but I take that opening to mean that Goodyear got nothing out of her. Let's see...
Harris, who is fifty-four, has a billboard smile, and brown eyes that soften easily but just as readily turn skeptical.

Josh Marshall applies "a hermeneutic of suspicion" to the what seems to be a decision by the US Attorney's Office in Manhattan to close its investigation into the Trump Organization without filing charges.

He comes up with this:
US Attorney Geoffrey Berman had to recuse himself from the Trump-related investigations because of his ties to the President. Supervision was undertaken by the Deputy US Attorney Robert S. Khuzami. But he left the US Attorney’s office in late March of this year. A month earlier, Attorney General Bill Barr was sworn in. So Bill Barr was sworn in about exactly five months ago – which seems to be roughly the time of the last contact between the US Attorney’s office and executives of the Trump Organization....

To be clear, I am not aware of any reporting documenting any interference from US Attorney Berman, Attorney General Barr or anyone at Main Justice. But given the Barr DOJ’s demonstrated record of consistently unethical behavior and more or less open efforts to protect President Trump, this requires some scrutiny.

"If 'Maple' is a kind of real-life 'Rosebud,' for Jeffrey Epstein, then maybe his money is not the root of all his evil."

"Maybe Epstein’s particular evil is not just rooted in his wealth and the arrogance it engendered, but in whatever happened in those years while he was raised on Maple Avenue by a mother and father who seemed to their neighbors to harbor only humility and decency."

Maybe maybe maybe!

Articles must be written. The one I'm reading is The Daily Beast, "Epstein’s Coney Island Days: From Math Nerd to ‘Arrogant’ Prick" by Michael Daly, who found a pathway to Trump:
[B]y the 1960s, Sea Gate was largely home to working-class people such as the Epsteins. The fence had become a protective barrier against urban blight and its accompanying dangers. Coney Island had been transformed from a summertime paradise to a crime-plagued ghetto with the help of real estate developer Fred Trump, who actively arranged for welfare recipients to move into what had been holiday bungalows. That caused residents of the year-round homes to flee, some of them to apartments at the new Trump Village that the developer had been having difficulty filling.

Street criminals still managed to cut through the chain link occasionally, but Sea Gate had its own private police force to patrol the streets and man the two gates, admitting only residents and guests. Sea Gate thereby remained an exclusive community in the sense that outsiders—particularly of the black and Hispanic variety—were excluded.

That caused Jeffrey Epstein and the other “Sea Gate kids” to be viewed as snobs by some of their classmates beyond the fence.
So Epstein's family was middle class, but — because of Fred Trump — poor people got housing nearby and that led to a social dynamic that cast Epstein, the middle class kid, as, essentially a rich kid.

Let's look at Trump's now-infamous question, "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

It is a question, isn't it? There's no question mark. That makes it feel more like an imperative. It reminds me of the saying I remember from the Vietnam Era, "America, love it or leave it."

Here's the entire statement — a tripartite tweet (1, 2, 3):
So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly........and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how.... ....it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!
That's from 22 hours ago. He got a lot of pushback — including Power Line's "A Blunder of Epic Proportions" — but he didn't walk it back. He's Donald Trump; he doubled down. From 11 hours ago — a 2-part tweet (1, 2):
So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion. Whenever confronted, they call their adversaries, including Nancy Pelosi, “RACIST.” Their disgusting language..... ....and the many terrible things they say about the United States must not be allowed to go unchallenged. If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior, then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!
1. Who is he talking about? He doesn't name names, so it's an invitation for others to do the defining. I see many people talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and expressing outrage that Trump would speak of her as an immigrant when she was born in the United States. But he didn't name her. His words exclude her. She's really got a hold on people's mind!

2. What, exactly, is supposed to be racist here? Clearly, these tweets cause some readers to feel that racism is being expressed, but it's hard to find it in these words. I see "RACIST" but that's in the context of ostensibly sticking up for Nancy Pelosi. Some Democrats are calling her racist, and that shows how unfairly quick they are to see racism. Defending Pelosi, he implicitly defends himself.

3. Is it xenophobia? He's not saying get out and stay out. He's saying don't criticize the United States if you immigrated from a worse country. Go back to that place, fix it, and "The come back and show us... how it is done." He's welcoming the immigrant back, after these steps are taken. Of course, it's unrealistic to expect someone to return to a place they left and become involved in changing that place, but it's a figure of speech. He seems to be saying that those who were not born here, who chose to move here, have a special obligation to express love for America, that they should tone down their criticism of America.

4. If telling these Congresswomen to tone it down is wrong, Nancy Pelosi was wrong too. (See "Tensions Between Pelosi and Progressive Democrats of ‘the Squad’ Burst Into Flame" (NYT).) So, again, Trump lines himself up with Pelosi. How do you defend Pelosi without defending Trump? In this view, it's a clever (and cruel) rhetorical move by Trump.

5. Here's Ernest Tubb in 1965:



Well, I'm gettin' mighty tired of seein' hippies runnin' wild... It's kinda hard to understand when you read about a man/That's talkin' 'bout love and knockin' the place he was born/If things don't go their way, they could always move away/That's what democracy means anyway....

The asserted requirement that your "voice" must align with the color of your skin.

When stereotyping is not just okay but mandatory:

"You know, I've been told to go back to where I came from"/"What? Indiana?"

Overheard at Meadhouse.

July 14, 2019

At the Bee Balm Café...

Bee balm

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"After years of neglect and boomer dominance in popular culture, someone had finally noticed us, in the sweetest way... 'Friends' was comfy, adorable, yet sharp."

"The hate-watch became a secret pleasure and, soon enough, we all had their haircuts... What nobody could have envisioned in the 1990s was the way children in the 2010s and '20s — born after 'Friends" first started to wear off — would form their own fixation on the show... My nearest frame of reference to this sort of cultural inertia would have to be 'The Brady Bunch,' the 1970s sitcom that, in reruns and brief revivals, acted as Gen X’s security blanket.... Irony was the key to it all.... But irony seems to have no place when it comes to the nonstop streaming of 'Friends'... [It is] slavishly re-watched with what appears to be an authentic and uncomplicated sincerity. Nobody watches [it] to make fun of the clothes or mock the message.... 'Friends'... acts as a soothing gateway to a time when people aren’t constantly looking at their phones. They sit on their Central Perk sofas and just talk, maintaining eye-contact. They listen to one another. They hilariously relate, in a constant state of mutual care. Their idea of stress is almost touchingly benign. No wonder people still want to hang out with them.... As the 'Friends' theme song goes, 'I’ll be there for you.' But those words referred to the bond among its characters. They were not an eternal promise to generations yet to come, and they should not have to be your friends forever. Let television take you somewhere, anywhere, everywhere else."

From "Do you really want to live in a world where ‘Friends’ and ‘The Office’ are TV’s most valuable shows?" by Hank Stuever, the WaPo TV critic.

Stuever is over 50, a Gen Xer. He thinks irony is key and these kids today are making a big mistake longing for sincerity and friendship. Something a quarter century old feels too "eternal" for him, and whoever wrote the headline for his column turned his dictate — "Let television take you somewhere, anywhere, everywhere else" — into a question — "Do you really want to live in a world where ‘Friends’ and ‘The Office’ are TV’s most valuable shows?" The market always answers that question. These shows are phenomenally valuable commercially. "Valuable" isn't really what's nagging at Stuever. He's objecting to the feelings and longings of younger people. They're not thinking right. The question — if you want to rephrase Stuever's opinion as a question — should be:  "Do you really want to live in a world where ‘Friends’ and ‘The Office’ are TV’s most emotionally rewarding shows?" And then it becomes easy to see that it makes little sense to tell young people to watch something else on television. The problem is in the real world, which is wearing on people in such a way that "Friends" feels restorative.

Morning walk...

... schoolyard sunflowers...

Schoolyard sunflowers

... frontyard sign...

Garden with sign

Inspiring!


ADDED: A "10x Engineer" is — per svd:
A concept sometimes used in Silicon Valley to describe an engineer that is 10x more productive than an average engineer although the 10x metric is figurative. Sometimes referred to as "Ninjas", these engineers are highly sought after by all tech companies.

Jim: You gave me 100 resumes but none of these guys are 10x engineers. Why hire a few of these guys to slow us down when a 10x engineer is so much more productive?

"Of course, it is possible that recent liberal praise for constitutional constraints on federal power will prove to be an example of 'fair-weather federalism'..."

"... the tendency of both left and right to rely on federalism whenever their opponents control the White House, only to jettison it when they themselves are in power. Conservatives, for instance, used constitutional federalism as a tool against the Obama administration but often ignore it under Trump. But there may be a trend here that goes beyond short-term partisanship. Liberals and conservatives alike can benefit from stronger constraints on federal power. Each party can gain from protecting local diversity and experimentation, and from the insurance federalism provides in times when its opponent hold the reins of power in Washington. Left and right can agree on the need for substantial constitutional limits on federal power, even if they differ on exactly how tight those limits should be."

Writes Ilya Somin in "How liberals learned to love federalism/The left was skeptical of giving power to the states. Until the Trump era" (WaPo).

This is the subject I wrote about for 30 years when I was in the law professor game.

Things you can see from Iowa.

"Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was in Iowa campaigning for his presidential bid, ruled out terrorism or criminal activity" — from "Power Restored to Manhattan’s West Side After Major Blackout" (NYT).

"I learned many things from Mad: who Spiro Agnew was, the plots of R-rated movies like 'Coma' and show tunes like 'I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin''..."

"... which the writers of Mad evidently assumed would be familiar enough to 10-year-olds of the ’70s to parody — 'I Got Plenty of Muslims,' sung by a black militant. I also learned about black militants. I also learned from Mad that politicians were corrupt and deceitful, that Hollywood and Madison Avenue pushed insulting junk, that religion was more invested in respectability than compassion, that school was mostly about teaching you to obey arbitrary rules and submit to dingbats and martinets — that it was, in short, all BS. Grown-ups who worried that Mad was a subversive influence, undermining the youth of America’s respect for their elders and faith in our hallowed institutions, were 100 percent correct."

From "The World According to Mad Magazine/Grown-ups who worried it was a subversive influence on America’s youth were 100 percent correct" by Tim Kreider (NYT)(Kreider is a cartoonist and essayist).

ADDED: Here's an example of a cartoon by Kreider: "Male Anorexia." If you like that, consider buying "The Pain: When Will It End?" I did. The back cover has a high-level blurb — from David Foster Wallace:
“I have had the cartoon ‘Male Anorexia’ on my bathroom mirror for seven months. I cannot floss, shave, or pimple-scan without it. I am it; he is me. Kreider rules, and also has a simply mammoth penis–you’d (almost) have to see it to believe it.”
AND: The cartoon "Male Anorexia" is cited at the beginning of an article by Jennifer Finn Boylan, "What It Was Like to Be a Transgender Woman in 2003" (2015):

July 13, 2019

At the Sunbath Café...

fullsizeoutput_3096

... feel free to sprawl out here.

Freckles, the manta ray, asks for help...

Don't let it be forgot/That once — in 1967 — there was a spot/For one brief shining moment/That was known as that ridiculous movie I saw back then and rewatched now, "Camelot."

Camelot! Camelot!/I know it sounds a bit bizarre/But in Camelot — Camelot! — King Arthur is a clueless hippie and Guenevere is Vanessa Redgrave, a groupie in search of a rock star — That's how conditions are.

Well, I learned my lesson rewatching "Dr. Zhivago" (the 1965 entry in my "imaginary movie project"): A beauteous movie-star woman in a dramatic geographic location is just necessarily going to have hot sex with the best-looking man.

It doesn't matter that Guenevere is married to the king, and he's pretty nice and means well and all and he's not horrible looking (though what's up with the eyeliner?)...



Franco Nero comes to town...



... and sex must be had with that guy. Not just flirting and teasing, as you might think as things crank up in the first hour of this 3-hour monstrosity, when hordes of extras are cavorting and frolicking about how it's "the lusty month of May... when everyone goes blissfully astray" and "tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear" and "When every maiden prays that her lad will be a cad"...

Old-lady road rage... "Sorry, darling."

Nicest roadrage ever; it helps to be older and clearer about whats really important in life from r/PublicFreakout


You have to click the title to get through for the audio. It's worth it!

"It's somebody with a vendetta, someone who has something against we assume mountain bikers or riders - but the things they're putting out do not discriminate. It's an incredibly dangerous and reckless thing to do."

From "Peak District cycle paths sabotaged with 'dangerous' traps" (BBC).

Also: "Hidden nail trap found at Blorenge mountain in Abergavenny" (BBC)("It's about a metre long, has 200 nails in it it's pretty heavy... It's also got legs on it, so if you rode over it would not tip up but would stay in the ground. Someone has gone to a lot of work").

"If I say I want to sail a small boat all the way around the world and it will take me two years, everyone says, 'Oh how exciting!' If I say I want to go and sit in my house..."

"... and not talk to anyone for two years, they say 'Have you got mental health issues?' or 'Why are you so selfish?'... I joke that wanting to be solitary is bad, sad and mad. It's immoral because it's selfish. It's sad because it'll make you miserable and it's mad because you must be a nutcase.... Silence is a place in which I can find ecstasy. I only get it in silence and most people I know only get it in silence. It is just a fabulous feeling. You know, you're walking along and quite suddenly you just say, 'Yes!' It's an extraordinarily intense response. Totally joyful.... I'm trying to position myself so the gift of mystical prayer is available to me, because actually the presence of God is a terrifically nice experience. I think it's heaven! Literally. I think that is what it will be like in heaven, that extraordinary sense of fulfilled intimacy - that feeling that one desires from sex, which is of both being completely yourself and completely with another person, is I think, what prayer does for me. It's a very particular form of intimate conversation with another, and it just so happens the other is God.... Food just tasted fabulous. But it wasn't it tasted particularly fabulous in any mysterious sense it just tasted MORE. So porridge tasted of PORRIDGE. But it also affected things like how strongly you experience physical things, like baths. Baths were fabulous - they weren't just some warm water, they became a completely luxurious experience. When you got cold, you got incredibly incredibly cold, or incredibly wet and just FELT it."

Said Sarah Maitland, quoted in "Why this man became a hermit at 20" (BBC). For some reason, the article's headline only refers to Christopher Knight, whose story is told in "The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit." Maitland's book is "A Book Of Silence."

"It’s gotten to be a party-like atmosphere. The party’s over. Illegal behavior will not be tolerated.... We’re seeing a myriad of issues converging in a geography."

Said Madison's new mayor, Satya Rhodes-Conway, speaking of the spot where State Street meets the Capitol Square, quoted in The Wisconsin State Journal.
[Sometimes] groups of people hang out for hours, some drink in public, aggressively panhandle, fight, urinate and defecate in nearby doorways and alleys, deal and use drugs — especially crack cocaine and heroin — and engage in prostitution....

Rhodes-Conway is supporting modest environmental changes to the space, such as temporary removal of several benches, adding fencing around a larger planter near Ian’s Pizza, 100 State St., lighting changes, and limiting the electricity from outlets used by people to charge cell phones or power other devices.

“The spaces allow for a larger number of people to congregate,” the mayor said. “We want to encourage people to be in the space, but not to be there for hours and hours.”...

The city, Rhodes-Conway stressed, will continue to focus on helping the homeless through the creation of housing, outreach and other means. But it will also take new measures to improve quality of life on the upper State Street area, including adding more portable toilets in discreet locations and extending the mall concourse services to include Central Library so city employees can do cleaning and tag belongings left there with warnings that they must be removed or they will be taken away and stored for pick up at another location.

The mayor is also supporting the efforts of the volunteer homeless outreach group Friends of State Street Family to locate small clusters of lockers for temporary storage in the area.
A kindly crackdown.

ADDED: I have a little video showing this area of Madison. It's one of my favorites, only 10 seconds. Watch:



The man is saying "All the assholes are over on the other side." This was back in 2011, and he was referring the anti-Scott-Walker protesters, who were doing a protest that involved camping on the street (and calling it "Walkerville"). I think there was some sort of concept that this side of the Capitol Square (the part Satya Rhodes-Conway is concerned about) was a place for non-political loitering and the people who were living on the street to express opposition to the governor were somewhere else.

"In the mid-1970s... [a]t the Dalton School on the Upper East Side, some students saw Mr. Epstein as an unusual and unsettling figure, willing to violate the norms..."

"... in his encounters with girls.... The school, which had been a progressive haven for the children of artists and writers, was undergoing a shift under a new headmaster. Donald Barr, the father of Attorney General William Barr, came in as a disciplinarian focused on beefing up the academics of the school, and on enforcing a strict code of conduct.... While Mr. Barr was strict on the school culture, he made it a point to hire teachers from unconventional backgrounds.... Mr. Epstein, from Brooklyn, was just 21 when he joined the faculty at Dalton, arriving without a college degree.... ... Leslie Kitziger, who graduated from Dalton in 1978... remembered him as a flamboyant dresser and lively jokester. 'He was goofy and like a kid himself,' she recalled.... 'He listened,' Ms. Kitziger recalled. 'I was a 14-year-old and he helped me through a time when there wasn’t anybody else to talk to. I felt like he really cared that I was having a rough go.' She stressed that Mr. Epstein was always professional with her. But other students, including Millicent Young, a graduate of the school’s 1976 class, saw things differently.... She recalled observing Mr. Epstein flirting with the girls at the school.... 'There was a real clarity of the inappropriateness of the behavior — that this isn’t how adult male teachers conduct themselves,' Ms. Young said.... [Another] student who graduated the same year, said he had a clear recollection of disliking Mr. Epstein because he was spending so much time with girls in the school...."

From "Jeffrey Epstein Taught at Dalton. His Behavior Was Noticed/Some students at the esteemed Manhattan prep school recall that Mr. Epstein, now charged with sex trafficking, was willing to violate norms in his encounters with girls" (NYT).

There are no photographs of Leslie Kitziger and Millicent Young as they looked when they were Dalton students, so I am left to hypothesize that Kitziger was pretty in a way that Young was not.

There are plenty of photographs of Epstein in his schoolteacher days. Here's the 1976 yearbook photo:



Did "Welcome Back" start playing in your head? It's like "Welcome Back, Kotter," but the teacher is John Travolta. Or does he remind you of — what was his name? — Epstein!!



ADDED: Why would an elite private school hire a 21 year old guy who didn't finish college to teach math and science?

I assume he got the job because of his looks, style, and charm.

And this was under a headmaster who was supposedly "focused on beefing up the academics of the school." Wouldn't the school's PR include statements about the credentials of the teachers?!

Who were the people who boosted Epstein in his early life? What the hell was going on? It's not just about Epstein's harmful expression of his own sexuality, it's the other men who gave him not just passes but boosts.

July 12, 2019

At the Back-to-the-Garden Café...

Olbrich Garden

... you can partake of whatever strikes you as delectable.

What is the history of science fiction?



That's Aubrey Beardsley's illustration Lucian's 2nd-century satire "True History," which I'm reading about in the Wikipedia article "History of Science Fiction."
Typical science fiction themes and topoi in True History include: travel to outer space, encounter with alien life-forms (including the experience of a first encounter event), interplanetary warfare and planetary imperialism, motif of giganticism, creatures as products of human technology, worlds working by a set of alternative physical laws, and an explicit desire of the protagonist for exploration and adventure. In witnessing one interplanetary battle between the People of the Moon and the People of the Sun as the fight for the right to colonize the Morning Star, Lucian describes giant space spiders who were "appointed to spin a web in the air between the Moon and the Morning Star, which was done in an instant, and made a plain campaign upon which the foot forces were planted..." L. Sprague de Camp and a number of other authors argue this to be one of the earliest if not the earliest example of science fiction or proto-science fiction. However, since the text was intended to be explicitly satirical and hyperbolic, other critics are ambivalent about its rightful place as a science fiction precursor.... Lucian translator Bryan Reardon is more explicit, describing the work as "an account of a fantastic journey - to the moon, the underworld, the belly of a whale, and so forth. It is not really science fiction, although it has sometimes been called that; there is no 'science' in it."
There are many other precursors to science fiction at the linked article, which I am reading this morning after blogging about "War with the Newts." I only singled out Lucian's "True History" because I like Aubrey Beardsley (who drew his pictures in the late 19th century).

Told ya.

"Acosta Resigns as Labor Secretary over Epstein Plea Deal" (NYT)("Mr. Trump made the announcement as he left the White House for travel to Milwaukee and Cleveland").

ADDED: Where did I tell you? On July 10th, with lots of pushback in the comments, I said:
... I do think Acosta should resign. When it mattered most, the cries of a wealthy man overwhelmed those of ordinary people. That's not what belongs in the Labor Department.
That was early in the morning of the 10th. Later that afternoon, Acosta did a press conference (reportedly because Trump "instructed" him to), and I wrote:
If Trump forced Acosta to do this press conference, presumably Trump is watching and judging. If you're watching, how do you think Acosta is doing? I tend to accept a calm explanation, so I'm not a good test of how well Acosta is doing. Trying to look at him the way I think other people do, I suspect he sounds too flat and matter-of-fact. Too mechanical. Not enough empathy. So I'm going to guess Trump isn't seeing what he wants.
So I told you so. It's because of all the pushback in the comments that I have to gloat.

IN THE COMMENTS: Annie C. says:
Good. Now get Scott Walker in there.
Annie C. was also there in the first July 10th thread (and, unlike most commenters, agreeing with me):
And yes, Althouse, these attempts to get Acosta off the hook don't work for me either. Just reporting what I read.

Personally, I think he should resign and Trump should appoint Scott Walker as Labor Secretary.

"If you think about why Kentuckians voted for Trump, they wanted to drain the swamp, and Trump said that he was going to do that... Who stops them along the way? Who stops the president from doing these things? Mitch McConnell."

"And I think that that’s very important, and that’s going to be my message—the things that Kentuckians voted for Trump for are not being done," said Amy McGrath, quoted in "Could a Democrat Really Unseat Mitch McConnell?/Amy McGrath will try to do what Beto O’Rourke couldn’t: Remove a high-profile Republican from a deep-red state" (The Atlantic).

That is, the Democrats, who are struggling to control and use their charismatic left-wing upstarts, now have action on their right. Amy McGrath is the pro-Trump Democrat!

Is she just conning Kentuckians? The Atlantic makes it seem that way:
Most important, though, she’ll have to persuade a sizable number of Trump voters in Kentucky’s redder regions to fill in the bubble beside her name next November. And parroting Trump’s catchphrases while avoiding endorsing his policies puts the Democrat in a slippery situation. “She has to be very careful in playing that angle,” [said Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth]. “She cannot give the impression that she’s supporting the Trump agenda.” 
Well, she already gave that impression! She said she'll help Trump more than McConnell does.
[Scott Jennings, a GOP strategist who has worked on McConnell’s previous reelection campaigns] cited a Wednesday interview where McGrath [said] she “probably” would have voted to confirm Trump’s second’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, last fall. “There was nothing in his record that I think would disqualify him in any way,” she said. But later that night, McGrath changed her mind, tweeting: “I was asked earlier today about Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and I answered based upon his qualifications to be on the Supreme Court,” she wrote. “But upon further reflection and further understanding of his record, I would have voted no.”
What was that further "reflection"? Consultation with Democrats? She gazed into the swamp and a swamp isn't the best place to look for reflection. McGrath seems to have sought to build confidence in her independence and courage, but then she went soft under pressure. The swamp sucks you in.

AND: The swamp in action:

Hey...

Last night, I discovered the "animoji" function on my iPhone...

My Animoji says "Hey!"

"Odd as it may appear, a gardener does not grow from seed, shoot, bulb, rhizome, or cutting, but from experience, surroundings, and natural conditions."

"When I was a little boy I had towards my father’s garden a rebellious and even a vindictive attitude, because I was not allowed to tread on the beds and pick the unripe fruit. Just in the same way Adam was not allowed to tread on the beds and pick the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden, because it was not yet ripe; but Adam—just like us children—picked the unripe fruit, and therefore was expelled from the Garden of Eden; since then the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge has always been unripe."

From "The Gardener's Year" by Karel Capek, which I'm reading this morning because Meade began exclaiming about it when he read the first post of the day, the one about the robot umpire, where I mentioned a play by Karel Capek, "R.U.R.," the origin of the term "robot."

Capek's brother Josef suggested the word, which is based on the Czech word "robota," which meant the forced labor of serfs and is based on the word "rab," which means "slave." In the play, from 1920, the robots carry out a revolution.

"The Gardener's Year" has great illustrations that are by the brother, Josef....



That was originally published in 1931.



If you think the drawing style is derivative of James Thurber, here's how Thurber was drawing in 1927...



... and in 1931:



Drawings captured from "James Thurber: Writings & Drawings."

Anyway... Meade says he read "The Gardener's Year" in the 1980s. He got very enthusiastic about it this morning. I said, that's so weird because I just put a Karel Capek book in the Kindle a couple weeks ago — "War with the Newts."



From the Wikipedia article on "War with the Newts":
On August 27, 1935, Čapek wrote, "Today I completed the last chapter of my utopian novel. The protagonist of this chapter is nationalism. The content is quite simple: the destruction of the world and its people. It is a disgusting chapter, based solely on logic. Yet it had to end this way. What destroys us will not be a cosmic catastrophe but mere reasons of state, economics, prestige, etc."

"If you ask a baseball purist, they’ll hate it. They love the manager coming out of the dugout and yelling at the home plate umpire. They love the hitter telling the umpire he’s wrong after he strikes out."

"This system will completely change all that," said home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere, quoted in "Baseball history made: Inside the debut of robot umpires" USA Today.

The automated ball-strike system (ABS) is not what I think of when I hear "robot." The human umpire is still standing there behind the plate and announces the balls and strikes, but he's not making his own calls, he's hearing the call made by "a large Doppler radar screen high above home plate." It's nothing that looks like a human being. The word "robot" has grown over the years to include what we used to just call "automation." "Automated" is the word used in the official name of the product,  automated ball-strike system, but "robot" is a more exciting word. It comes from the 1920 play "R.U.R." by the Czech writer, Karel Čapek...



R.U.R. = Rossum's Universal Robots. This play comes up in crossword puzzles all the time, you may know.

Anyway... in automated ball-strike system, the plate umpire still has independent work. As deBrauwere put it:
"Yeah, it takes something out of the umpire’s hands, but it places additional focus on other things we’re responsible for. Every other decision we have to make will now be magnified. Every check swing, every fair-foul, every safe or out will be even more important now."
And if the system malfunctions, he's got to go back to calling the balls and strikes.

The catcher bemoaned his loss of influence: "As a catcher, I don’t really like it too much because it takes away from my skill at receiving the ball. But if it helps the game, obviously at the big league level, that’s what we’re all here for." That is, there are ways of tricking a human umpire that will be of no use with the radar.

There are benefits for the pitcher: "Some of the pitches they call strikes (now) don’t look like strikes. It looks like a ball and TrackMan calls it a strike. It’s just different. Every pitch I've thrown (high in the strike zone) has been a ball my whole career, since I was 6 years old until now. It's different to see them called a strike." That is, some strikes trick the batter and the human umpire. The pitcher will get a new advantage.

July 11, 2019

At the 10 O’Clock Cafe...

... talk all you like.

"He thinks he’s making a movie. He’s just trying to put together the perfect cast and it’s not working. It’s not a movie. He is impossible to work with...."

"[One of the lawyers] wants to do everything in the courtroom and that’s the opposite of Weinstein, who wants the case tried in the court of public opinion and not a court of law.... Weinstein’s strategy is still to try this case in the public domain.... It’s pointless. It’s counterintuitive.... He thinks he is producing a movie. It’s pathetic and comical all in one.... He thinks it makes him look less creepy to have a female lawyer represent him. I think he needs the best lawyer not window dressing.... I give him a great chance of getting off.... The charges are flimsy. It’s a weak, weak case. The only way he will lose this case is if the lawyers fall on their head and forget where the courthouse is."

Said an unnamed person quoted in "Weinstein’s Legal Team Falls Apart Again: ‘He’s Impossible to Work With’/Lawyer Jose Baez, who once represented Casey Anthony, was granted permission to withdraw from the disgraced movie mogul’s sexual-assault case" (The Daily Beast).

"Because you can’t get your way and because you’re getting pushback you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable. Unbelievable to me."

Said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.)(who's in the Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus), quoted in "Dems rush to support Pelosi amid fight with Ocasio-Cortez" (The Hill).

The answer to Clay's question — "... you resort to using the race card?" — is hell, yes.
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez told the [Washington] Post. “But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.” 
And Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said:
“I can tell you that it happens all the time. It isn't usually from just one person. The system is geared in that way,” Jayapal said. “It's just a constant thing we deal with as women of color. It's always harder when it's perceived as coming from your own side, whether that was how it was intended or not.” 
Can you unplay the race card?
Ocasio-Cortez maintained in an interview with CNN on Thursday that she thinks the progressive freshmen are being singled out but rejected the notion that Pelosi has racial animus....

"Some of you are extraordinary. I can't say everybody. No, but some of you are extraordinary. The crap you think of is unbelievable."

Said President Trump speaking (and getting laughs) at the Presidential Social Media Summit.

"President Trump on Thursday abandoned his battle to place a question about citizenship on the 2020 census..."

".... and instructed the government to compile citizenship data from existing federal records, a significant retreat in the president’s wider crackdown on undocumented immigration.... The new approach, which appears to have been available to the Trump administration all along, could provide a clearer picture of how many people living in the United States are citizens without distorting census participation. But some Democrats complained on Thursday that the public debate itself might have sown fear among immigrants in the country and could taint their view of the census, even if it does not include the question about citizenship."

The NYT reports.

"Your 2020 campaign slogan is: Your last name + 2020 + the last text you sent."

A Twitter meme that produced some wonderfully absurd slogans.

I had to look at my texts to see what mine would be, and it was wonderfully absurd:

Althouse 2020
elephants in the garden

IN THE COMMENTS: No one asked me why I'd texted "elephants in the garden." It was my reply to Meade, when he texted me an untitled video from our garden:

IMG_2111

Knowing the plant is called "elephant ears," I texted back my idea of a title.

"The relationship between the slack in the economy or unemployment and inflation was a strong one fifty years ago ... and has gone away."

"At least twenty years ago, that period was over and the relationship between unemployment and inflation became weak. And it’s become weaker and weaker and weaker...[W]e are learning that the neutral interest rate is lower than we had thought and... the natural rate of unemployment rate is lower than we thought. So monetary policy hasn’t been as accommondative as we had thought.... At the end of the day, there has to be a connection because low employment will drive wages up and ultimately higher wages will drive inflation, but we haven’t reached that point. In many cases, that connection between the two is quote small these days," said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, testifying to the Senate Banking Committee today, reported by CNBC.

And then, "Dow jumps more than 100 points to break above 27,000 for the first time ever."

This is totally effective to anyone with a right-wing orientation, but if you're a person of the left, it's spooky propaganda.

That's my assessment, from my cruelly neutral perspective:

I don't know why I — of all people — can stand back and observe. I experienced physical chills at 0:23 — "I am honored to call him President Trump" — even as I know, intellectually, it makes no sense. From there on, I looked at that face in front of a brick wall — The Wall!! — and thought this is exactly what propaganda is. I admired Voight's delivery and the weird but simple text, even as I thought about how bizarre it is that human beings drink this up. Once it's over, I wonder, what the hell was that?! What did I just hear? It slipped in below the conscious level. I had to go back to find the place where I'd felt the chill, and I'm struck by its emptiness. What is the rest of it? Something about God. God... Trump... God... ???!!!

"We know that the lake is toxic"... but it's turquoise and so Instagrammable.

It's turquoise because "It's a highly toxic artificial pond used to dump ash from a nearby coal plant, and, warns the company that runs the plant, unsafe for swimming in" — CNN reports.
"In the last week, our ash dump of the Novosibirsk TEZ-5 has become the star of social networks," [said the Siberian Generating Company]. "But you CANNOT swim in the ash dump. Its water has high alkaline environment. This is due to the fact that calcium salts and other metal oxides are dissolved in it. Skin contact with such water may cause an allergic reaction!"
Oh, that doesn't sound so bad. And it's turquoise. And they're in Siberia.
The water gets its spectacular color from its depth and the various metal oxides dissolved in it, the company said. It is also extremely alkaline, with a pH of more than 8.
My poking around on the internet says that 8 is moderately alkaline — not "extremely alkaline" — and it's in the traditional range recommended for swimming pools in Denmark. In the U.S., it's 7.2 and 7.8 (with the problem being that a higher PH may make chlorine less effective in killing bacteria).

I think the American media are taking a cheap shot here because the story fits a popular frame: Social media is making people stupid and blind to the dangers of the real world. But the Russians in the article are clear that they know the lake isn't for swimming, they're not swimming it — just posing by it as if they would swim in it — and I don't think what makes it bad for swimming makes it a problem to stand next to. We often stand next to water we wouldn't bathe in! The only complaint here is that it's phony to pose as if you're at a great swimming location when you are not.


In social media photography — as in professional fashion photography — the models try to look as though they're having a magnificently pleasurable time and that's disaggregated from the reality of whether it's any fun at all for them. Mainstream media is hot to cover social media — they want to look youthful and trending — but their posing is FAR more of a problem. It's fake news!

IN THE COMMENTS: Howard said:
Drinking moderately alkaline water (9.2-pH) is all the rage with hipsters.
I did not know that, but he's right! Here's a NYT article from last year, "Is Alkaline Water Really Better for You?":

"That book changed my life"/"I can tell ya as a kid at a Catholic Grade School it was the best book I read and certainly the talk of the playground"/"Not only one the most enjoyable books I ever read (in 9th grade)..."

"... but one of the most valuable, as an education in life. I hope its still passed from hand-to-hand by young teenagers across the country"/"Like all those who were in their adolescent years when this book came out, the snickers it encouraged, and the stories swapped in dugouts on little league fields were priceless gems in the trove of memories. I re-read it again a few years ago, and still got tears from the laughter at the tales both remembered and forgotten over the years. This book had ripple effects all across the journalistic spectrum. It inspired a generation of truth-seekers and truth-tellers everywhere. Plus, it was something that p*ssed off the powers that be in those days, and what's not to like about that?"/"I think I was about twelve and I thought it was hysterical and excitingly profane. I had a good eye and ear for the language (because of that reading of everything) and knew it was rather well-written, too. Thanks Jim Bouton, I'm sure you're up there somewhere, for keeping it real about baseball for us."

Just the top few of the comments at "Jim Bouton, baseball pitcher whose ‘Ball Four’ gave irreverent peek inside the game, dies at 80" (WaPo). That is one hell of a beloved book! That's a torrent of vivid memories about a book published half a century ago.

One more:
It was a great book. I remember my younger brother calling me a "SOB" for some time before it clicked on me that "S.O.B." featured prominently in the book. (ha ha). But, it opened my eyes and those of millions to the reality of what had been before pure BS about how pure and great every professional athlete was. In the end, the main reason it was so great is because it was just so well written.

“You see,” he wrote in “Ball Four,” “you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

Doesn't get much better than that.
And:
To this day, I remember and often use the final words of Ball Four (about gripping the ball and finally realizing it was the other way all along).

The book was often profane, but also profound. For both the great read and the human insight, I am forever grateful.

RIP Mr. Bouton.
One more:
I was 13 years old when I read "Ball Four" over the course of several unbearably hot summer nights in 1971. It tore the cover off my illusions of life as a major league baseball player. And it made me realize early on that heroes aren't always golden boys. They're often just horny, drunk guys who know how to throw or hit a baseball better than most workingmen. I've re-read the book at least five times since...and I'll read it again, starting tonight. Thanks, Bulldog.
I've re-read the book at least five times since...and I'll read it again, starting tonight.

ADDED: From the Library of Congress blog:
The New York Public Library named it as one of their Books of the Century, the only sports title named. Jim thus stands shoulder to shoulder with such world figures as Anton Chekhov, Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Ball Four,” the library’s editors noted, “was the first ripple of a tidal wave of ‘tell-all’ books that have become commonplace not only in sports, but also in politics, entertainment, and other realms of contemporary life.” (Jim, with typical diffidence and humor, has termed his book a “tell-some.”)

July 10, 2019

At the Wednesday Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

Acosta press conference.

Streaming now, here.

ADDED: CNN reports:
During a phone call Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump instructed his labor secretary to hold the press availability, two people familiar tell CNN....

Trump said on Tuesday he would look into the matter, but insisted Acosta had served him well as labor secretary. He has privately said he has confidence in Acosta, according to people familiar with his remarks.... However, Trump's associates believe that confidence could disappear quickly....
If Trump forced Acosta to do this press conference, presumably Trump is watching and judging. If you're watching, how do you think Acosta is doing? I tend to accept a calm explanation, so I'm not a good test of how well Acosta is doing. Trying to look at him the way I think other people do, I suspect he sounds too flat and matter-of-fact. Too mechanical. Not enough empathy. So I'm going to guess Trump isn't seeing what he wants.

Trump wins the emoluments case.

Good.

Here's the NYT report:
A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., found that the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia had no legal standing to sue Mr. Trump. The judges roundly rejected the premise of the case, which claimed that the Trump International Hotel, located blocks from the White House, is unfairly siphoning off business from hotels owned by the local jurisdictions. The lawsuit, which alleges violations of the Constitution’s anti-corruption or “emoluments” clauses, was about to enter the evidence-gathering phase....

“Even if government officials were patronizing the hotel to curry the President’s favor, there is no reason to conclude that they would cease doing so were the president enjoined from receiving income from the hotel,” the 36-page opinion said. “The hotel would still be publicly associated with the president, would still bear his name and would still financially benefit members of his family.”...

“Neither [emoluments] clause expressly confers any rights on any person, nor does either clause specify any remedy for a violation,” they wrote....
Trump's tweeted response to the decision:
Word just out that I won a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt. Unanimous decision in my favor from The United States Court of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit on the ridiculous Emoluments Case. I don’t make money, but lose a fortune for the honor of..... serving and doing a great job as your President (including accepting Zero salary!).
ADDED: To explain my reaction, "Good," here's what I wrote when I first heard about this litigation, in January 2017:
Quite apart from the substantive merits of the claim, it's hard to see how there are plaintiffs with standing to sue. How does the money paid in rent and hotel bills to the Trump organization cause concrete and particularized injury to anyone? You could say we are all injured by the possibility that commercial activities could influence the President's decisions, but that's the sort of generalized grievance that isn't enough.

But the filing of the lawsuit brings attention to the legal argument, which bolsters the political argument that the risk of influence is bad and should be eliminated. And in the end, almost certainly, the matter will be resolved in the political sphere and not the courts.

"Ocasio-Cortez faces lawsuits for blocking Twitter critics after appeals court ruling on Trump."

WaPo reports. That's the way case law works.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is facing two federal lawsuits for blocking Twitter users who were critical of her or her policies. Republican congressional candidate Joseph Saladino and former New York assemblyman Dov Hikind sued the freshman congresswoman Tuesday, shortly after a New York appellate court upheld an earlier decision affirming that President Trump violated the First Amendment for doing the same....

The First Amendment limits government action and bars it from discriminating against viewpoints. Public officials, the court said Tuesday, cannot exclude members of the public “from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”
Even when the public official is using his personal account on a privately-owned social media site.
“Since he took office, the President has consistently used the Account as an important tool of governance and executive outreach,” Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote in the 29-page opinion. “Because the President, as we have seen, acts in an official capacity when he tweets, we conclude that he acts in the same capacity when he blocks those who disagree with him.”
You can try to say the President of the United States is unique or the way Trump has used Twitter as President of the United States is unique, but I don't think that should work. You need a neutral rule here.