September 20, 2019

At the No-Swimming Café...

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... the sign says "no swimming," but you can perhaps find a way to swim metaphorically... as you talk about whatever you want.

Jordan Peterson has checked into rehab for his addiction to anti-anxiety medication.

The New York Post reports, drawing mainly from this video from Peterson's daughter:



"The situation is really sad. He looks like a lost puppy."

The Invocation.



"I am called to invoke the power of the true inebriated creator of the universe, drunken tolerator of all the lesser and more recent gods. May the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster rouse himself from his stupor and let his noodly appendages ground each assembly member in their seats."

He ends not with "amen" but "ramen."

"It turns out that creativity is actually among the least desirable traits in a partner for both males and females..."

"... at least according to a new study from researchers at the University of Swansea in the UK. The study, the largest test of its kind ever conducted, concluded that, on average, people are far more interested in kindness, beauty, and financial security in their potential mates.... The students were asked to gauge which of eight attributes they prioritized in a potential partner: kindness, humor, chastity, religiosity, physical attractiveness, financial prospects, a desire for children, and creativity.... For 'Eastern' and 'Western' participants alike, creativity was among the three least desirable traits. (The other two were chastity and religiosity.) Across the board, kindness was by far the most commonly picked option of the bunch. Men more highly favored physical attractiveness, while woman prized financial security...."

From Artnet News, which prompts me to click to the "related" article "New Study Reveals Artists Share Common Traits With Psychopaths/There may be a reason some artists are especially bold."
“Emotional disinhibition, in the form of psychopathic boldness, is actually integral to some creative personalities and functionally related to the creative process,” according to the study. “A creative field might not just shape a person into a more arrogant or dishonest personality, it might be actively selecting them, not for the sake of having disagreeable traits, but because such traits meaningfully co-vary with creativity itself.”
Got that? Now, please, go meaningfully co-vary with somebody before it's too late.

Possibly the most embarrassingly air-headed WaPo headline ever. Maybe we should just look away...

But here it is: "Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?"

Smashed stereotypes... God help us. This is an idea for a column that should have been considered for 5 to 10 seconds and laid to rest.

Some text, to give you the idea:
The two are separated by race, gender and more than 100 years of history that forged an America that would probably be unrecognizable to Douglass. Still, experts say, their use of photography collapses the distance: Douglass sat for scores of pictures to normalize the idea of black excellence and equality, and Warren’s thousands of selfies with supporters could do the same for a female president.
This is like some nitwit celeb saying that Hollywood reminiscent of a slave plantation.

Morning in Madison.

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"They called him 'Dr. Kevorkian.' A 22-page federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday painted a depraved picture of how Buck earned his grim sobriquet."

"Ten men told investigators that Buck had paid them to use drugs and dress up in skimpy underwear for his own sexual pleasure. Several of the men claimed they lost consciousness after Buck served them a drink, and some said they woke up to the sight of him injecting drugs into their arms against their will, according to the complaint.... Buck was arrested at his West Hollywood home Tuesday night, less than a week after a man fled his home fearing he was suffering a methamphetamine overdose... Buck tried to prevent him from getting medical attention, authorities said.... Investigators initially ruled [the 2017 death of a man named Gemmel Moore] to be accidental, but... [i]n a journal found among Moore’s possessions, the 26-year-old Texas man [had written] 'I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that... Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal meth.'... One man... told investigators that he had never used methamphetamine before he heard that Buck was 'well-known for compensating male prostitutes with drugs and money,' according to the complaint. The victim agreed to take a 'small amount' of drugs at Buck’s behest but said Buck then emptied an entire syringe into his arm.... One man... said he injected himself with what Buck told him was methamphetamine....The drug rendered him immobile, the man told investigators, and he laid on the floor of Buck’s apartment for 6 to 7 hours. Buck grew frustrated and at one point wanted him to leave, the man said, but he couldn’t move.... Buck 'obtained a power saw from a closet, turned it on and approached' the man, the complaint says."

From "Democratic donor Ed Buck paid at least 10 men to use drugs for his own pleasure, prosecutors say" (L.A. Times).

There's some discussion in the article that Buck got away with these alleged activities because he was a big donor to the Democratic Party in a city dominated by Democrats, but I note that he was also a wealthy man paying for prostitutes (and sharing drugs in the process). How much attention is generally paid to rich people in L.A. who use prostitutes and drugs? Do the deaths make such a huge difference? Thousands die from overdosing on drugs every year in California. How much attention does L.A. generally pay to reports from prostitutes who say that part of what they agreed to do was to use drugs but the dosage turned out to be larger than what they agreed to?

Pete Buttigieg attacks LGBT media.

Prompted by my son John at Facebook, I'm reading "Buttigieg: 'I can't even read the LGBT media anymore'" (at NBC):
During a radio interview on Wednesday, SiriusXM host Clay Cane of “The Clay Cane Show” asked Buttigieg, who would be the first openly gay president if elected, about criticisms in “LGBT circles” that “more masculine-presenting men have more access,” posing the question, “How different would it be if you were quote unquote ‘more effeminate?’”

“It’s tough for me to know, right, because I just am what I am, and you know, there’s going to be a lot of that,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, responded. “That’s why I can’t even read the LGBT media anymore, because it’s all, ‘he's too gay,’ ‘not gay enough,’ ‘wrong kind of gay.’”

“All I know is life became a lot easier when I just started allowing myself to be myself, and I’ll let other people write up whether I’m ‘too this’ or ‘too that,’” he continued.
ADDED: That really was a fantastic question from Clay Cane. And, really, there is a larger question here. Masculinity and femininity are always being monitored and reacted to. That's always going on when we look at the various candidates, whether we admit it or not. It's impossible to know what really works best — i.e., who has the most "access" — but it's obviously not that the most masculine man or the most feminine woman has the greatest advantage. It's more of a mystery. Remember this scientific inquiry into the mystery?

This headline makes me laugh: "Here’s The Best Place To Move If You’re Worried About Climate Change/But would you actually go through with it?"

If you were genuinely worried about climate change — as opposed to fake worried or trying-to-look-like-a-good-person worried — you would go through with it. And I'm saying this as someone who was genuinely worried about global warming in 1984 when I chose to move to Madison, Wisconsin. I believed what I read and that included the idea that the southern United States was going to be unbearable in 10 years. I thought I was getting the jump on the inevitable migration. And now here I am, old and still observing the climate from my remote northern outpost, reading, "Here’s The Best Place To Move If You’re Worried About Climate Change/But would you actually go through with it?" at FiveThirtyEight.

Excerpt:
But it’s one thing to look at these maps and start dreaming of your climate condo in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s another thing entirely to say that the “Yooper” is a place you should move now....
The Yooper is a place?! To call the U.P. "The Yooper" just underscores your aversion to going anywhere near there. (A "Yooper" is a person who lives in the place they call the U.P.)
But despite the occasional trend story about coastal millennials moving to places that seem better positioned to ride out the ravages of climate change, there’s no real evidence that the Upper Peninsula is attracting new residents due to its climate prospects.....

That’s partly because real estate investing works at a different pace than climate change does.... The maps that show the Upper Peninsula winning against other parts of the country are forecasts of the year 2100. “But why does it matter that [the value of the land] will go up in 100 years?” [said a professor of economics]....

When people talk about the best place to move to avoid climate risks, he thinks they’re usually thinking about places that are currently too cold becoming, well, more like California and other parts of the country in which Americans are willing to take economic losses in order to enjoy today....
Live for today. Isn't that why we're having this climate change in the first place? These people who are "worried about climate change" are really basically just worried about today, and worrying about climate change is something that is done to try to look good today. And you'll be looking your best looking good looking worried in someplace that's warm today.

UPDATE: FiveThirtyEight has fixed its "Yooper" gaffe. The passage quoted above is replaced by:
But it’s one thing to look at these maps and start dreaming of your climate condo in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s another thing entirely to say that it is a place you should move now....
They haven't hidden the gaffe, so I give them credit for taking the hit openly:
CORRECTION (Sept. 20, 2019, 11:00 a.m.): A previous version of this article used the word “Yooper” to refer to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That was an incorrect use of the word. The U.P. is the place. The Yoopers are the people.

"I feel like I’ve contributed all I can to this primary campaign, and it’s clearly not my time."

Says Bill De Blasio, quoted in "Bill de Blasio Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Contest/Mr. de Blasio, the New York City mayor whose campaign was seen as a long shot and often described as quixotic, never gained traction." (NYT).

His candidacy never made any sense at all. The only thing I could ever come up with is that he was the tallest, and tall guys have an advantage. Other than that — nothing.

ADDED: Trump has fun with it:

"A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community said to involve President Trump emerged... While the allegation remains shrouded in mystery..."

"... it involves at least one instance of Mr. Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader and includes other actions.... At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, two people familiar with it said.... Though it is not clear how Ukraine fits into the allegation, questions have already emerged about Mr. Trump’s dealings with its government. In late July, he told the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that Ukraine could improve its reputation and its 'interaction' with the United States by investigating corruption, according to a Ukrainian government summary of the call. Some of Mr. Trump’s close allies were also urging the Ukrainian government to investigate matters that could hurt the president’s political rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family...."

I'm trying to read this very confusing shrouded-in-mystery report in the New York Times, "Whistle-Blower Complaint Sets Off a Battle Involving Trump/The complaint, from a member of the intelligence community, remained opaque but involved at least one of the president’s communications with a foreign leader."

Is there some idea that this is the issue that will be used in the future against Biden and that it ought to come out now?

ADDED: Trump's tweeted reaction:
The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff, and batting Zero for 21 against me, are at it again! They think I may have had a “dicey” conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a “highly partisan” whistleblowers.. ....statement. Strange that with so many other people hearing or knowing of the perfectly fine and respectful conversation, that they would not have also come forward. Do you know the reason why they did not? Because there was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!

September 19, 2019

"There is a road, no simple highway..."

"John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s fired national security adviser, harshly criticized Trump’s foreign policy on Wednesday at a private lunch..."

"... saying that inviting the Taliban to Camp David sent a 'terrible signal' and that it was 'disrespectful' to the victims of 9/11 because the Taliban had harbored al Qaeda. Bolton also said that any negotiations with North Korea and Iran were 'doomed to failure,' according to two attendees.... 'He ripped Trump, without using his name, several times,' said one attendee... Bolton also said more than once that Trump’s failure to respond to the Iranian attack on an American drone earlier this summer set the stage for the Islamic Republic’s aggression in recent months...."

Politico.

Canada jolted.



ADDED: Why are people referring to that makeup as "brownface"? It's as dark as any blackface I've seen. I know, he says it was an Aladdin costume, but doesn't that make it worse? He was overdarkening for the character he purported to play.

Fox News headline: "CNN's Don Lemon knocks Trump while praising Justin Trudeau's apology over brownface photo."
"I shouldn't have done that. I should have known better, but I didn't and I'm really sorry," Trudeau told reporters. "I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn't have done that. I should've known better. It was something that I didn't think was racist at the time but now I recognize that it was something racist to do and I'm deeply sorry."...

"Wow, a leader apologizing. It seems odd, doesn't it?" Lemon reacted. "Because we have one who doesn't.... I do have to say this before we go: think about it however you want to think about it. When someone apologizes- wow!... We don't often see that here, especially in a world leader who is saying 'I should've known better and I'm sorry.' You can feel about it however you want, but that, to me, that does mean a lot."
As if Don Lemon would honor an apology from Trump! Trump doesn't apologize because it wouldn't work. It would backfire. Trudeau seems to be apologizing because it's the only approach he can come up with. The question is whether apologies are going to be accepted, and who believes they'll be accepted equally, regardless of which side you're on vis a vis the the apologizer? It's like calls for civility. In present-day American political discourse, they're always about getting the other side to tone it down. That's why my tag for the discussion of civility is "civility bullshit." I feel the same way about calls for apologies (within present-day American political discourse). They're always bullshit.

"[I]n women, the same areas that tend to become active when viewing sexual imagery that neuroscientists have deemed pleasing also became active in response to photos of vomiting or feces."

"What scientists tend to regard as 'arousal' on brain scans could also be its opposite, or perhaps some combination of each."

From "What Can Brain Scans Tell Us About Sex?" (NYT)(noting a study that reported that "what happens in the brains of female study subjects when they look at sexual imagery is pretty much the same as what happens in the brains of their male counterparts").

Trump ruins everything!

From "California’s Luxury Dining Circuit: Delicious and Dull/The French Laundry, the Restaurant at Meadowood and SingleThread have much in common: amazing precision, sky-high prices and a sedating sort of predictability" (NYT):
The macaroni and cheese in the golden egg, served as part of the tasting menu at the French Laundry, was absurdly delicious. The short noodles, cut by hand, had a tender spring. They were bound in a light, melting cloud of Parmesan. The result was simple, built on the retro American dishes that the chef, Thomas Keller, once wittily reimagined as high culture and maxed out to total extravagance....

[T]he dishes, and the ways they were delivered, reminded me of what’s possible when both the kitchen and the wait staff are operating at the highest level: sustained indulgence in an atmosphere of total comfort. The servers brought the gold-rimmed dish sets out and placed them down in unison. After lifting the egg tops and revealing the macaroni, they rained down a messy shower of black truffles, half on the food and half on the table, filling the air with perfume.

It was a stunning production. But the oversize golden egg on a series of gold plates did seem archaic — and not just because the French Laundry has used this presentation, for various dishes, for years. In the Trump era, gold seems a bit too eager to assert its value.....
The second-highest-rated comment:
This might be the most depressing article I have read recently. The image of these uber wealthy couples sitting in silence waiting for course after course of beautifully crafted art posing as food only reinforces my belief that all the money in the world cannot buy class. Am I right about that, Donald?
If this is the most depressing article you've read recently, you ought to be thanking the President of the United States. I'm sure the NYT would serve bad news stories about Trump if they had them. Their reporters would bring that news out on gray-rimmed dish sets and place them down in unison each morning and rain down a messy shower of dark opinions filling your breakfast-table air with stench. But the supplier isn't cooperating, so your hunger for the depressing will be met with the news that some expensive restaurants are too boringly perfect. And the day before, the NYT served, "Women Poop...." What a world of starvation for badness!

Your little internet friend...

"A 2004 survey of over 30,000 respondents by BabyCenter found that 38% of new mothers received a push present, and 55% of pregnant mothers wanted one..."

"... though fewer thought it was actually expected. About 40% of both groups said the baby itself was already a present and did not wish an additional reward. The popularity of push presents has been attributed in part to media coverage of celebrities receiving them. Examples include a 10 carat diamond ring given to celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe by her husband Rodger after the 2011 birth of their son, a Bentley given to reality TV star Peggy Tanous of The Real Housewives of Orange County by her husband Micah after the 2007 birth of their daughter, and a diamond and sapphire necklace given to singer Mariah Carey by her husband Nick Cannon after the 2011 birth of their twins. The trend has generated a backlash...."

That's at "Push Present" (Wikipedia). I had to Google that after reading somebody on Twitter who said, "My wife just brought up a 'push present.' I had to google to find out what hell that is. This is our fourth kid. She can't start this now." The too-late-to-start-now argument is interesting. It made me think of another too-late-to-start-now argument: Every time it's your birthday, it marks the anniversary of what your mother did for you, going through pregnancy and childbirth, so you should be giving her a present.

By the way "push present" assumes the mother goes through labor and vaginal delivery, so it's the wrong term.  Whatever the woman goes through is a big deal, and she deserves to be honored for her contribution to the continuation of humanity, but often it's a Caesarean section, and naming the present after the "push" might feel quite wrong at a sensitive time. Plus, "push" sounds pushy and calls attention to the idea that the new mother might not want to do what she's just put herself in the position of needing to do.

ADDED: Here's a 2015 NYT article, "First Comes Baby, Then Comes Push Present?":
“They’re a very big thing in L.A.,” said Justin Lacob, 35, a new father who lives in Los Angeles. Although his wife didn’t expect a present, he said, “I’ve heard women complain about what they received.”...

Any gift for a new mother should have special meaning. “When she looks at it, it should remind her of the experience, of crossing over into motherhood,” said the New York City childbirth educator Patricia Rangel, who is curating a list of shopping ideas for her business website. (Ms. Rangel suggests an affordable piece of simple jewelry centered on the new baby, such as a birthstone, an engraved name or a charm in the shape of a peanut.)...
A peanut.

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should...



Who is Alex Trebek?

"The Weight."

September 18, 2019

Lakeshore goldenrod.

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This WaPo column has the title "Why baby boomers’ grandchildren will hate them" even though the word "hate" does not appear in the text.

Here's the text (by Stephen Stromberg).
A new Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll gauged how U.S. teenagers feel about climate change. Nearly all — 86 percent — believe in the near-unanimous conclusions of the scientific community. Fifty-seven percent of teens say climate change makes them feel afraid. Fifty-two percent feel angry. Forty-three percent feel helpless. Only 29 percent feel optimistic. Anger, fear, helplessness: These are the sorts of feelings so many of the nation’s recent leaders — and those who elected them — will increasingly elicit."...

[C]limate change, the greatest self-imposed long-term threat facing humanity, offers... clarity. Today’s youths will curse their forebears for failing to accept the truth.
"Curse" is as close as it gets to "hate."

Top-rated comment: "No! I'm sorry, but it is not 'baby boomers,' it is Republicans." It's a prediction about the future. When the children of today grow up, what will they say? The Democrats were fine but we hate the Republicans? If climate change turns out to be what the children of today are being told that's already making them feel angry, afraid, and helpless, they're going to say that no one did enough. The Democrats won't be off the hook just because they expressed more belief in the coming disaster and used the issue to excoriate their perennial political opponents. That will look like a sick joke!

"What do you confess to the plants in your life?"

"Trump Names Robert O’Brien, Hostage Mediator, as National Security Adviser."

The NYT reports.
Mr. Trump announced the selection [of the State Department’s chief hostage negotiator] shortly after saying he would also “substantially increase Sanctions” on Iran following weekend attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that officials in Washington and the region have blamed on the Tehran government.

[O'Brien,] a longtime lawyer... impressed [Trump] with his work to extricate Americans detained by countries like North Korea and Turkey....

"The Arizona Democratic Party is planning to hold a vote this week to determine whether Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) should be censured."

Censure her? Why would they censure her?! The Hill reports:
Those seeking to censure Sinema point to her vote to confirm David Bernhardt, Trump’s nominee to serve as secretary of the Interior, as well as her vote to confirm William Barr as Attorney General, the news outlet notes. Additionally, progressives in the Arizona Democratic Party cite Sinema’s resistance to joining fellow Democrats in trying to reinstate net neutrality rules...

Dan O’Neal, the state coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America, told the news outlet that the censure is an effort to push Sinema back toward the left. “Here’s the thing: We really support Kyrsten Sinema... [b]ut the way she is voting is really disappointing. We want Democrats to vote like Democrats and not Republicans.”
Those aren't reasons to censure someone! There's no accusation that she's done something wrong, only that her political position is at odds with the rest of her party.

Why are Democrats having such a hard time just being normal? Trump is so abnormal that it would seem that he can be defeated by simple, boring normality. But that's not exciting enough, apparently, and Democrats have decided to go even further beyond the norm.

Why does Arizona have a Democratic Senator? Isn't it because she is a bit more like a Republican? From her Wikipedia page:
During the 2018 campaign Sinema refused to debate her competitor in the Democratic primary, Deedra Abboud, an attorney and community activist.... While Abboud said she would vote against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Sinema "said she wanted to delve deeper into Kavanaugh's writings and interview him personally before deciding"...

Journalist Jonathan Martin wrote in The New York Times in September 2018 that Sinema was running "one of the most moderate-sounding and cautious Senate campaigns this year, keeping the media at arms-length and avoiding controversial issues", and said her campaign was generally reluctant to bring up President Donald Trump....

"I WAS TOLD THIS NEVER HAPPENS: Self-defense via 'assault weapon'? Three masked teens open fire on Georgia homeowner — and don’t live to regret it."

Glenn Reynolds blogs this CNN story (via Ed Morrissey).

The barebones story from CNN:
The masked teens -- a 15-year-old and two 16-year-olds -- approached three residents around 4 a.m. Monday at the front yard of a home just outside Conyers and tried to rob them.... One of the would-be robbers took out a gun and fired shots at them before one of the residents returned fire, authorities said.

"The victims of the attempted robbery were all uninjured, but the three attempted robbery suspects were all shot during the exchange of gunfire and succumbed to their injuries, one on scene and two at a local hospital after being transported," the sheriff's department said in a news release....

"I heard a guy yelling for help. 'Help me, help me, I'm dying, I'm dying, help me, help me," [a neighbor] Brian Jenkins told the station. Another neighbor ran out to help after he heard what sounded like five shots from a handgun, he said.

"Then I heard somebody have an assault rifle," [a neighbor] Carlos Watson told WSB. "And it was a slew of shots that came out."...
Here at Meadhouse, we were just talking about the argument that no one needs an AR-15 to hunt — a subject I have nothing to say about — and what if anything the 2d Amendment has to do with hunting (as opposed to self-defense). This subject arose after I saw an SUV (here in Madison) with 2 bumper stickers: "Hike. Bike. Vote." and "Hunt. Fish. Vote." I'm not sure what political side that might be intended to support, but I like the individual sport and the individual politics of voting. Live your life, perform your civic duty, and be a good citizen of the community that results as all the other individuals do the same. That's what I thought, in my beautiful city, where the majority votes left-wing, as I drove home from seeing the sun rise....

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"'I’m thinking, Only way I’m going to get rescued is self rescue... I knew where I was located there was no way they were going to be able to find me."

"In what one doctor has called an 'incredible story,' [Neil] Parker crawled for two days, hauling his broken leg [and using his broken wrist] over about two miles of rugged terrain, before he was spotted Tuesday local time by a rescue helicopter and airlifted to a nearby hospital. 'I’ve never heard of any such survival effort with two broken limbs,' Nicola Ward, an orthopedic surgeon who is treating Parker at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland, said.... Without a personal locator beacon, Parker said his cellphone was his only means of contacting someone for help. But as he put away the phone after checking for service, he accidentally dropped it into the creek. That’s when Parker decided that he had to move if he was going to be found...."

From "A hiker’s leg ‘clean snapped in half.’ He crawled for two days to survive" (WaPo).

"Mr. Nadler has said repeatedly that his committee is engaged in an impeachment investigation — or, if you prefer, an impeachment inquiry."

"He insists the 'nomenclature' does not matter. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and her leadership team clearly disagree. They assiduously avoid the 'I' word, painting the committee’s work as garden-variety oversight. As a result, even Democratic lawmakers don’t seem to know whether they are engaged in an impeachment inquiry. Representative Pramila Jayapal has said 'yes.' Representative Jim Himes has said 'no.' Last week, Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, said 'no' — then backtracked, claimed he’d misheard the question and offered a non-answer instead...."

From "When Is Impeachment Not Impeachment?/When the speaker of the House thinks it is politically foolhardy" by the NYT The Editorial Board

September 17, 2019

Summer's end.

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"There are many Lakota who praise the memorial.... But others argue that a mountain-size sculpture is a singularly ill-chosen tribute. When Crazy Horse was alive..."

"... he was known for his humility, which is considered a key virtue in Lakota culture. He never dressed elaborately or allowed his picture to be taken. (He is said to have responded, 'Would you steal my shadow, too?') Before he died, he asked his family to bury him in an unmarked grave. There’s also the problem of the location. The Black Hills are known, in the Lakota language, as He Sapa or Paha Sapa—names that are sometimes translated as 'the heart of everything that is.'... Nick Tilsen, an Oglala who runs an activism collective in Rapid City, told me that Crazy Horse was 'a man who fought his entire life' to protect the Black Hills. 'To literally blow up a mountain on these sacred lands feels like a massive insult to what he actually stood for,' he said. In 2001, the Lakota activist Russell Means likened the project to 'carving up the mountain of Zion.' Charmaine White Face, a spokesperson for the Sioux Nation Treaty Council, called the memorial a disgrace. 'Many, many of us, especially those of us who are more traditional, totally abhor it,' she told me. 'It’s a sacrilege. It’s wrong.'"

From "Who Speaks for Crazy Horse?/The world’s largest monument is decades in the making and more than a little controversial" by Brooke Jarvis (in The New Yorker).

This is an excellent article about the twisted commercialism of the gigantic unfinished Crazy Horse monument, which is run by the Ziolkowski family and seems to work for tourists as some kind of antidote to Mount Rushmore.

I wanted to give this post the tag "humility," but I only have "humiliation" and "modesty." "Humiliation" is plainly wrong, but is "modesty" okay? Wikipedia's article "Modesty" says "This article is about body modesty. For the concept of modesty in a broader sense, see humility," so I'm going to go with the tag "modesty," and please understand that I mean it in the broader sense that Wikipedia treats at "Humility":
Humility is an outward expression of an appropriate inner, or self regard, and is contrasted with humiliation which is an imposition, often external, of shame upon a person. Humility may be misappropriated as ability to suffer humiliation through self-denouncements which in itself remains focused on self rather than low self-focus.

Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue which centers on low self-preoccupation, or unwillingness to put oneself forward, so it is in many religious and philosophical traditions, it contrasts with narcissism, hubris and other forms of pride and is an idealistic and rare intrinsic construct that has an extrinsic side.

"They will do whatever they can to demean you, to libel you. They try to blacklist, coerce, cancel or destroy anyone who gets in their way."

"Look at what they are doing today to Justice Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh. Did you see the New York Times? Did you see what they are doing? Did you see what Democrats -- they're calling for his resignation. They are calling for his impeachment. And the woman involved said she did not know anything, but they still -- the New York Times had to put out a major apology and change their story. The woman said, I do not remember that. And they still want him to be impeached. And I just put out a statement -- and he is a great man, by the way. A great talent. A great, brilliant man, Brett Kavanaugh. I just put out a statement on social media that said -- I do not think they will do it, but they should, for the good of the nation. I called for the resignation of everybody at the New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh smear story. And while you are at it, the Russian witch hunt hoax, which is just as phony a story. They've taken the Old Gray Lady -- you know, the New York Times, for years, the Old Gray Lady, so prestigious. They have taken the Old Gray Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue, and ruined her reputation. She can never recover and will never return to greatness under current management. The Times is dead. Long live the New York Times. Long live the New York Times. I do want it to live, but they have to change their ways" (RCP).

"I can’t believe you’re here, wow. You’ve got balls, girl"/"Remember when your picture was on Wheaties boxes back when people could still look at you when they eat?"

"Let’s face it. No one wants to be here. The person who went to the greatest lengths to not show up tonight was Bruce Jenner"/"You goddamn hypocrite. You’re, like, against gay marriage. You voted for Trump. You’re like the Auntie Tom of the trans community."

Things said about Caitlin Jenner at the Alec Baldwin roast, quoted in "Caitlyn Jenner Was Savagely Mocked at the ‘Roast of Alec Baldwin’… And Then Again Afterwards" (Decider).

Here's Jenner's response:


"If I can find the courage to be who I am, then you can too. If you have a problem with that, then you can suck my dick — if you can find it!!!."

"Duka and Koski's beliefs about same-sex marriage may seem old-fashioned, or even offensive to some. But..."

"... the guarantees of free speech and freedom of religion are not only for those who are deemed sufficiently enlightened, advanced, or progressive. They are for everyone. After all, while our own ideas may be popular today, they may not be tomorrow. Indeed, '[w]e can have intellectual individualism' and 'rich cultural diversities … only at the price' of allowing others to express beliefs that we may find offensive or irrational. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). This 'freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much … [t]he test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.' Id."

From Brush & Nib Studios, LC v. City of Phoenix, quoted at "Freedom of Speech Protects Calligraphers' Right Not to Create Custom Same-Sex Wedding Invitations/So holds the Arizona Supreme Court" (Volokh Conspiracy).

Barnette was about compelling school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The children had a religious objection but the case was not decided on the basis of a special religious exclusion. Justice Jackson famously wrote:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

Democrats are too busy "impeaching" President Trump to worry about "impeaching" Brett Kavanaugh.

"'Get real': Senior Democrats shut down Kavanaugh impeachment push/Democratic leaders are panning new demands by the left to oust the Supreme Court justice" (Politico).
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler similarly dismissed the idea of an impeachment inquiry, arguing in a radio interview Monday that the committee is “concentrating our resources on determining whether to impeach the president.” The New York Democrat said it’s one thing for progressives to call for impeachment but for him “it’s a consequential action, which we have to be able to justify.”...

Nadler told The New York Times just before Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote in October that he planned to thoroughly investigate the allegations, including subpoenaing White House and FBI records and interviewing the accusers.... But since regaining control of the House in January, Democrats have done little to revisit the issue...

"Meanwhile, as a kind of grimly ironic accompaniment to his scriptural musings, Buttigieg’s hometown, South Bend, has just discovered..."

"... that its longtime abortion provider, the late Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, kept a substantial collection of fetal remains on his property: 2,246 'products of conception,' to be exact, carefully preserved. The version of pro-choice politics that has been generally successful in this country allows Americans to support abortion rights within limits, while still regarding figures like Dr. Klopfer as murderous or monstrous. But the more maximalist and mystical your claims about when personhood begins (or doesn’t), the more strained that distinction gets. The unapologetic grisliness of a Klopfer, or a Kermit Gosnell before him, haunts a Buttigiegian abortion politics more than it does a 'safe, legal, rare' triangulation, because it establishes the most visceral of contrasts — between the mysticism required to believe that the right to life begins at birth and the cold and obvious reality that what our laws call a nonperson can still become a corpse."

From "The Abortion Mysticism of Pete Buttigieg/How the party of science decided that personhood begins at birth" by Ross Douthat (NYT).

The article linked at "products of conception" is "More Than 2,200 Preserved Fetuses Found at Property of Dead Doctor, Officials Say/There was no evidence that medical procedures were performed at the Illinois property where the remains were found, the authorities said" (NYT). It doesn't use the words "products of conception" or "corpse" or anything like "murder" or "monster." It says "preserved fetuses" and "medically preserved fetal remains." I can't find anything in that article to support "unapologetic grisliness of a Klopfer" other than that Klopfer is dead and dead men are unapologetic.

Most of Douthat's column is about Buttigieg's discussion of the Bible in connection with his pro-choice position. Buttigieg observes that the Bible isn't clear on the subject — there are verses suggesting that life begins with the first breath — and that supports giving the decision to the individual pregnant woman. That's the same thing the Supreme Court said in Roe v. Wade.

"So far this morning, you’ve mentioned Frank Zappa, Ric Ocasek and the Talking Heads. I’m sure there are lots of musical threads that attach the three. But..."

"... there’s something else, too: Baltimore childhoods. Frank Zappa and Ric Ocasek were both born in Baltimore and David Byrne moved to town when he was in elementary school. I grew up just outside the city and live here now. It’s a challenging and frustrating place on a lot of levels but it’s also a town that celebrates creativity and inspires a lot of loyalty."

A reader writes.

I wrote about Talking Heads in the context of saying goodbye to Ric Ocasek, who always reminded me a bit of David Byrne. Maybe it was the Baltimore connection! I often think of Frank Zappa, but until now, I don't think his connection to Baltimore ever figured in my musings. I wrote about him yesterday as I contemplated the NYT story about Brett Kavanaugh:
And I'd like to know... When can people get naked at parties and waggle their genitalia at each other?... I'm inclined to believe that people at private parties can get naked. We were just talking about Woodstock, that revered historical event where young people got naked. In the words of Frank Zappa:
There will come a time when everybody who is lonely
Will be free to sing and dance and love
There will come a time when every evil that we know
Will be an evil that we can rise above
Who cares if you're so poor you can't afford
To buy a pair of mod-a-go-go stretch elastic pants?
There will come a time when you can even take your clothes off when you dance
Another song for this morning: "What's New in Baltimore?"
Hey! What's new in Baltimore?
I don't know!
Hey! What's new in Baltimore?
Better go back and find out
By the way, did you see that the NYT, promoting its Kavanaugh article, tweeted "Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun…"? and then deleted the tweet and apologized because nobody they cared about identified with the notion. I hope you don't think that what I wrote indicates that I am the kind of person the NYT was tweeting about. The Kavanaugh article doesn't say a penis was thrust in anyone's face! It says "thrust his penis at her" — just "her," not "her face." So that's another thing wrong with the deleted tweet. It worsened the allegation — having the penis thrust at the face — which makes the allegation sound much less like dancing and more like an outright sexual assault. In making that aggressive move — that journalistic thrust in the face — the tweet undermined itself. We might think that getting naked and dancing at a party is harmless fun, but we won't think that way about a penis thrust at a face.

September 16, 2019

At the Sunflower Sunset Café...

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... I invite comments on all topics.

And please consider the the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy various things. I've been enjoying Jilz Crackerz, but I can't explain the exorbitant price.

I have now seen the height of American racial politics...



... and it is ineffable, inexpressible, unutterable, unspeakable... but not nameless. We do know the name. The name is "CornPop."

Loops... larger than Earth...

"I always felt it is a high honor to be associated with the name of Christ ~ this classic iconic man who lived and died for the poor, the hungry and the broken."

Writes Dion, commenting on this video of "Center of My Life" ("I'll tell you a story about my lord Jesus/He is the only one... Through the years and all the changes/You've been my friend/Never a stranger..."



I ran across that after I played "Teen Angel" (for this post) and YouTube thought I'd want to watch this video of Dion singing "Runaround Sue"...



... which I enjoyed so much — I love the audience reaction to the music! — that I clicked through to see other videos on Dion's playlist and found "Center of My Life." I love Dion (and have since the days when "Runaround Sue" was #1 on the record charts, and I saw him do a great show here in Madison around 1990 (really, the most enjoyable show ever)), but I didn't know about his Christian period.

By the way, Sue — according to that song — ran around "with every single guy in town." Every single guy! Not until today did I take that literally and try to picture the effort and the insanity of getting together with every single guy. Even in a small town...

"A lot of people only know my dad as an angry guy, but he’s more than some lunatic who loses his temper. He also loses Emmys. And Oscars. And custody of his firstborn child."

"Seriously, Dad, I’m so proud of you. You’re a wonderful father and an amazing actor, and I’m thrilled to be here to see you celebrated tonight. After all the years of giving verbal abuse, it’s finally time you received some. So before I leave, I’d just like to say something you’ve never said to me: good night."

Said Ireland Baldwin, quoted in "Ireland Baldwin’s roast of dad Alec Baldwin was even more brutal on TV" (WaPo).



The WaPo article links to a 2007 WaPo article about Baldwin's phone message to his daughter when she was 11:
"You are a rude, thoughtless little pig."

"You don't have the brains or the decency as a human being," he says, apparently upset that she did not answer her phone for a planned call.

"I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned. You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone."
Here's the audio, in case you need it. I've heard that listening to recorded words is good for your brain, so give it a try.

"Google Earth uncovers car in pond — and skeleton of driver missing for 22 years."

Reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Here's the Google Earth image:

"A US woman has undergone surgery after removing and swallowing her engagement ring in her sleep."

"Jenna Evans, 29, said she and her fiancé Bobby had been on a speeding train and she was forced to swallow the ring to protect it from 'bad guys.' She woke at her home in California to realise the episode had been a dream, but saw her diamond ring was missing... An X-ray scan identified the 2.4-carat ring in her stomach, and doctors agreed it would be unwise 'to let nature take its course.' Ms Evans, a San Diego resident, later had a procedure to remove the ring but said she was asked to sign release forms in case of her death. 'Then I cried a lot because I would be so mad if I died,' she said. 'I waited a long time for that damn engagement ring and I will marry Bobby Howell.'"

BBC.

ADDED: Young love, death, and a ring — I got to thinking of "Teen Angel":

Tulsi outTrumps Trump.

"They failed on the Mueller Report, they failed on Robert Mueller’s testimony, they failed on everything else, so now the Democrats are trying to build a case that I enrich myself by being President."

"Good idea, except I will, and have always expected to, lose BILLIONS of DOLLARS.. ....for the privilege of being your President - and doing the best job that has been done in many decades. I am far beyond somebody paying for a hotel room for the evening, or filling up a gas tank at an airport I do not own. These Radical Left Democrats are CRAZY! Obama Netflix?"

Trump tweets.

Trump assumes you understand what "Obama Netflix" means, but I see in the sidebar that "Obama Netflix" is trending, and when I click on it I see lots of tweets acting like Trump's just talking crazy, putting words together randomly. There's stuff like "It’s sort of amazing that he vomits up the words 'OBAMA NETFLIX!' directly after accusing Democrats of being crazy" from Jon Favreau.

Jon Favreau, I know the name and associate it mainly with this unforgettable photograph:



How much did Obama make from his Netflix deal?
No dollar figures have been reported but, in Hollywood, Netflix is not known for a lack of generosity in pursuit of big names who might bring in fresh subscribers. Producer Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”) was handed $100 million to sign up; producer Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “American Horror Story”) took home $300 million.
Those who are mocking Trump's "crazy" 2-word question "Obama Netflix?" may regret heightening its visibility. It's going to make some of us want to know the actual dollar amount. Didn't Obama say he wanted to be "the most transparent President" ever? Ha ha. No. That was Trump.

And, by the way, isn't it true that Trump is losing lots of money by being President? He may be wrong about what he's observed about his country over the years and his notions of what ought to be done about it, but isn't he giving? Lots of people don't want what he's giving, but he is giving, I think. That's the heart-rending tragedy... if he's wrong. But he thinks he's right.

Joe Biden's oddball "record player" sentence is helping him, because it's distracting us from the rest of what he said.

From the transcript (in response to the question "What responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?):
I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools, triple the amount of money we spend from 15 to $45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out -- the $60,000 level. Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need -- we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It's crazy. The teachers are -- I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have -- make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School. Not daycare. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not want they don't want to help. They don't -- they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television -- excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the -- the -- make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school -- a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.
First, that word salad ought to cast doubt on the theory that the number of words a pre-schooler hears is what matters. Imagine playing CDs of Biden speeches to your baby to give him a boost in life. I'm thinking quality matters, not just quantity. And doesn't calm quiet benefit the child too? I can't believe that filling the air with chattering recordings is good for the young brain! I'm just going to guess that the studies of child development are looking at caregivers speaking to the child in person and saying words of substance that have to do with understanding the world around him and interacting with people who are looking him in the face.

Second, Biden is supposedly talking the vestiges of slavery, so the parents who "don't know quite what to do" are, unless he's gone totally off topic, black people. He's making them sound dumb and inept! And his solution seems to be to "make sure" to "bring social workers" into their homes "to help them deal with how to raise their children." Is that really his proposal — social workers in homes? Is that really what African Americans want to hear is the way "to repair the legacy of slavery"? White people taking responsibility is done not by intruding on white people but by sending social workers into the homes of black people?

Can we stop talking about the damned "record player" — which is so distractingly funny — and talk about those 2 things?

The same small place after a 14-hour interval...

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Why travel all over the world looking for things to see when you can see so much on repeated walks through the same place? It's like marriage...

Goodbye to Ric Ocasek.



The Jon Pareles tribute at the NYT is "Ric Ocasek, New Wave Rock Visionary and Cars Co-Founder, Is Dead/The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee updated classic sounds for a broader pop audience, making polished songs with sonic depth."
From 1978 to 1988, Ocasek and the Cars merged a vision of romance, danger and nocturnal intrigue and the concision of new wave with the sonic depth and ingenuity of radio-friendly rock. The Cars managed to please both punk-rock fans and a far broader pop audience, reaching into rock history while devising fresh, lush extensions of it.
Pareles doesn't mention Talking Heads, but it always seemed to me that The Cars were like Talking Heads but easier — like The Monkees to the Beatles. And I don't mean that in a bad way.
[A]fter the Cars disbanded, he produced music for Weezer, Bad Religion and No Doubt.... After two previous marriages, Mr. Ocasek married the model and actress Paulina Porizkova in 1989; they met in 1984 while the Cars were making the music video for “Drive.”
Yes, he had a very beautiful wife (and she announced last year that they'd separated, in this Instagram message that I'm going to read as a statement of eternal love). Here's the video that brought them together, "Drive":



Who's gonna tell you when/It's too late?/Who's gonna tell you things/Aren't so great?/You can't go on/Thinking nothing's wrong, ohh no/Who's gonna drive you home/Tonight?

Scott Adams: The Democrats are pushing "the stalest old stories" — Kavanaugh, impeachment, Stormy Daniels, Russian collusion — "are ya frickin' kiddin' me?"

"It's starting to get sad... They've completely given up at this point. It feels like they're not even working on task. It feels like busy work. That's what it is: busy work.... It feels like the Democrats can't figure out anything useful to do, but they have to do something...."



The S.E. Cupp thing he's referring to in that clip is, I think, this:

"Wait a second. Who did what to whom? Kavanaugh’s 'friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student'?"

"Can someone explain the logistics of the allegation here? Was Kavanaugh allegedly walking around naked when his friends pushed him into the female student? No, if I’m reading [NYT reporters] Pogrebin and Kelly right, the friends didn’t push Kavanaugh in the back. Rather, the 'friends pushed his penis.' What? How does that happen? Who are the friends? Who is the female student? Were there any witnesses besides [the classmate Max] Stier? All that the authors write in the New York Times essay about corroborating the story is this: 'Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)' So they corroborated the fact that Stier made the allegation to the FBI, but the authors give no indication that they have corroborated any details of the alleged incident. The book isn’t released until Tuesday, but Mollie Hemingway got a copy, and she writes on Twitter: 'The book notes, quietly, that the woman Max Stier named as having been supposedly victimized by Kavanaugh and friends denies any memory of the alleged event.' Omitting this fact from the New York Times story is one of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in recent memory."

From "The New York Times Anti-Kavanaugh Bombshell Is Actually a Dud" by John MacCormack (National Review).

The NYT article — "Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not. Deborah Ramirez’s Yale experience says much about the college’s efforts to diversify its student body in the 1980s"— now has an update:
An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book's account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.
Note that Deborah Ramirez is not the person in the incident alleged by Max Stier. The Max Stier allegation is used to corroborate the Deborah Ramirez allegation — which is that Kavanaugh, drunk at a party, exposed his penis in some sort of "thrust" near her and that she reacted by hitting him in the penis.

The article — as you can see from the headline — is mostly about class difference. Some young people supposedly felt at home with whatever was going on at parties like that, and some were lost and alienated. That is a serious problem with college life, I'm willing to believe, but I'd rather see it reported and analyzed as a free-standing problem, not appropriated for the purpose of taking down a political enemy.

And I'd like to know: When is it okay to hit a naked man in the penis? When can people get naked at parties and waggle their genitalia at each other? I don't fit in with that kind of partying either — and I never did — so I'd like a sober, neutral explanation. I'm inclined to believe that people at private parties can get naked. We were just talking about Woodstock, that revered historical event where young people got naked. In the words of Frank Zappa:
There will come a time when everybody who is lonely
Will be free to sing and dance and love
There will come a time when every evil that we know
Will be an evil that we can rise above
Who cares if you're so poor you can't afford
To buy a pair of mod-a-go-go stretch elastic pants?
There will come a time when you can even take your clothes off when you dance
Clearly, Zappa was making fun of the hippies' high hopes for naked dancing. That song is from 1968, a year before Woodstock, and a decade and a half before Kavanaugh's Yale party days. And here we are today — 40 or 50 years after that youthful revelry — judging those people. I'd love to analyze the whole thing, and I'd even like to see a strongly feminist analysis. But this get-Kavanaugh motivation makes it all twisted and tainted with lust for political power.

September 15, 2019

Late summer box spring.

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"I'm afraid I'm still not quite following what happened or who she is or why this is news"/"I think you are a member of an ever-expanding club"/"Count me in too"/"And me. I have now read three articles in WaPo..."

"... about this person. And although this was the better written of the lot, I'm still struggling with why anyone above middle school would care about Mason jar gardens and flower crowns"/"After reading this article I feel like I'm a dog chasing it's own tail. Why, why, why, for the love of humanity?!?!?"/"This is the second article I've seen in the last few days of Caroline Calloway, and I've never heard of her. I can't seem to glean from either this or the other article who she is or why I should care."

Comments on the WaPo article by Monica Hesse, "The messiness and meaning of Caroline Calloway." I keep seeing these articles about Caroline Calloway and half skimming them. It's like some kind of joke about the meaninglessness of everything.

We're told the story is "like boiling six seasons of HBO’s 'Girls' into a teaspoon, and injecting it into your veins." Yeah, okay, I'm going to just say no to that drug.

"She began dating Mr. Brown, now 85, around 1994, when she was working in Alameda County and he was speaker of the California Assembly."

"He appointed her to two well-compensated state posts. He gave her a BMW. He introduced her to people worth knowing.... Ms. Harris’s allies have bristled at any suggestion that Mr. Brown powered her ascent, dismissing the charge as sexist and making clear that she was plenty capable of impressing on her own... Ms. Harris told SF Weekly in 2003 that she was so independent of Mr. Brown that he 'would probably right now express some fright about the fact that he cannot control me.' 'His career is over,' she said, as Mr. Brown’s second mayoral term wound down. 'I will be alive and kicking for the next 40 years.' But Ms. Harris also promoted Mr. Brown’s support on her fliers. And his barely hidden hand helped goose her precedent-busting fund-raising. 'He was instrumental behind the scenes,' said Mark Buell, a major Democratic donor who served as Ms. Harris’s finance chairman. 'Willie Brown told me — and I didn’t want to believe him — you have to raise $1 million to win this race. And we did.' Mr. Brown, who now writes political columns, cheekily declined to be interviewed, on the grounds that he could not assist a rival publication... Asked if Mr. Brown was a factor in the [2003] race — either as a boogeyman deployed by her rivals or as a sitting mayor with an interest in the outcome — Ms. Harris said: 'Um, I’d — you know. You can ask the pundits. I — yeah.'"

From "Kamala Harris Was Ready to Brawl From the Beginning/In her first race, she defied her old boss, a fund-raising pledge — and the implication that she owed her career to her ex-boyfriend" (NYT).

I did the math so you don't have to: In 2003, Brown was 69 and Harris was 38. And 69 divided by 2 plus 7 is 41.5.

Whatever you want to say about how Harris ascended in politics in California, you know very well what she's been doing as a presidential candidate in the past year. She's a terrible candidate. As I wrote after the last debate: "I don't understand why she's there and I don't believe she understands." Has anyone ever asked her the "Ted Kennedy" question, "Why do you want to be President of the United States?"

Is Trump a "mad aberration" or is he "rewiring the game in some permanent way"? "Watching that depressing debate, one must conclude that the rewiring is well underway."

Writes Maureen Dowd (NYT).
It’s a paradox wrapped in an oxymoron about a moron: Trump’s faux-thenticity somehow makes the Democratic candidates seem more packaged, more stuck in politician-speak.

In speeches and at rallies, Trump kicks over the traces, saying what’s on his mind, even though it often doesn’t mesh with reality, even though it lacks dignity and can be ugly and hateful....
At this point, the column is festooned with amusing quotes from a Trump rally that happened at the same time as the Democrats' last debate. Sample:
He mocked the Green New Deal, saying: “That’s a beauty. No more cows. No more planes. I guess no more people, right?” Then he teased Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader: “Because Kevin is just like a cow. He’s just smaller.”
"But how to counter this?" — Dowd asks. She wrote "the rewiring is well underway," but she didn't find that any of the Democrats had rewired. It's more that we are rewired and so we perceive them in a different way. We find them "depressing...  more packaged, more stuck in politician-speak."
The three hours seemed endless, with two questions hanging over the night: “Can’t anybody here play this game?” and “Will the most beatable candidate in American history win twice?”
I'd say you're not "rewired" until you see why Trump is hard to beat.

"The president of the United States is seriously, frighteningly, dangerously unstable. And he’s getting worse by the day."

Getting worse? Really? Seems to me things have calmed way down. But here comes Robert Reich (in The Guardian) to rile people back up into the hysteria we're supposed to maintain even though not much has happened. He leads with Sharpiegate, though Sharpiegate is a monument to how little can be found to throw at Trump these days.
What to do? We can vote him out of office in 14 months’ time. But he could end the world in seven and a half seconds. There’s also the question of whether he’ll willingly leave. Can you imagine the lengths he will go to win? Will he get Russia to do more dirty work? Instruct the justice department to arrest his opponent? Issue an executive order banning anyone not born in the US from voting? Start another war?
Reich's imaginationland is pretty weird. But I guess articles like this need to be written. There's a market for it. I wonder how big, though. Personally, I've never liked Trump (other than that I enjoy his humor and jolliness), but the Trumpophobes are worse — more "seriously, frighteningly, dangerously unstable." They'd do better to settle down and work on getting a Democratic Party candidate who isn't scarier than Trump.

Meanwhile, I feel like withdrawing. Maybe go play some records.

"I've got three bags [of shoes] in my closet just waiting for Genene. I've been waiting for her for years."

Said Jessica Gray, who has a size 7 left foot and size 9 right foot, upon discovering a woman with  a size 9 left foot and size 7 right foot. (Reported at CBC via my son John on Facebook.)
"I am so excited to be able to finally talk to someone with not only the same issue as me but the exact same issue as me, like the size 7 and the size 9, and like maybe we can do some online shopping together soon," said Gray.
Both women have always had to buy 2 pairs of the same shoe every time they bought shoes. The women found each other through the internet. (Here's the Facebook group: flip flopped feet.) But why doesn't the internet give us a shoe store that lets you buy shoes mixing the sizes? Why can't Zappos mix sizes?

In fact, why isn't custom-sized clothing much more of a thing on the internet? Sizing is extremely important with shoes, which are not stretchy like so many clothes and which can't be taken to a tailor for altering, but I've been wondering why the opportunity isn't seized to make perfectly fitting clothing. How many women buy poorly sized pants because their waist/hip ratio is different from what's in the conventional sizing?

"At the first Women’s March, protesters carried signs with slogans like, 'Make Margaret Atwood fiction again!' and 'The Handmaid’s Tale’s not an instruction manual!'"

Writes Michelle Goldberg in "Margaret Atwood’s Dystopia, and Ours" (NYT).
You could argue that all this is melodrama; living under Trump may be degrading, but American women are incomparably freer than those in, for example, Saudi Arabia, a society that seems far closer to Gilead than our own. Then again, in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” America hadn’t crumbled all at once. Recalling her old existence, the book’s heroine wondered at how normal life went on even as horrors filled the newspapers. “Nothing changes instantaneously: In a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it,” she says.
And in a world of gradually heating bathtubs that boil you to death before you notice, you'd never be able to take a bath. But who sets up bathtubs to heat gradually to the boiling point?! Oh, that Margaret Atwood, she's quite the comic writer! Except that wasn't a joke. She really did take that old trope of a frog in a pot of water on the stove — a stove, which is designed to bring pots of water to a boil — and turn it into a bathtub, so it could be a boiling woman and not just a frog.

And, you know, that thing about the frog is false. The frog jumps out when it gets too hot. He doesn't just sit there in the water getting used to it while he cooks to death. So you really don't have to pre-jump based on hyped up fears. In that analogy. Assuming it's a good analogy. It's certainly a trite analogy. But so helpful in drumming up hysteria. Nothing happening yet, but we'd better act now, because otherwise if something does happen, we won't notice. So we notice the nothing now because later we won't notice the something because it will seem like nothing. So learn to think that nothing is something because future you thinks something is nothing. How crazy would life be if we used that theory?!

Anyway, Margaret Atwood has a new novel, a sequel to "The Handmaid's Tale," called "The Testaments." Goldberg (with a spoiler alert) reveals the plot. I don't care about the plot or the book other than the way it's important to some people as they go able coping with the reality of Trump's presidency.
“Writing dystopias and utopias is a way of asking the reader the question, ‘Where do you want to live?’” Atwood said when I talked to her last year. “And where you end up living is going to depend partly on what you do now.” “The Testaments,” it turns out [SPOILER ALERT] isn’t a dystopian work at all. It’s utopian. By the time it’s over, Gilead is a relic, and scholars in a more enlightened time are studying the women who subverted it. Praise be! Our descendants should be so lucky.
I went to Amazon to get a link for "The Testaments," and I was amused by the collection of things Amazon suggested for me to "inspired" by my search. Which one of these things is not like the other?



What the hell, Amazon??!!

September 14, 2019

View from the boathouse.

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"Flames engulfed 460 tons of lead when Notre-Dame’s roof and spire burned, scattering dangerous dust onto the streets and parks of Paris."

The NYT reports.
Five months after the fire, the French authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of their testing for lead contamination, sowing public confusion.... [I]t took a month before city officials conducted the first lead tests at a school close to Notre-Dame. Even today, city and regional health officials have not tested every school in the proximity of the cathedral.

The tests showed levels of lead dust above the French regulatory standard for buildings hosting children in at least 18 day care centers, preschools and primary schools. In dozens of other public spaces, like plazas and streets, authorities found lead levels up to 60 times over the safety standard. Soil contamination in public parks may be among the biggest concerns....

Some French officials and lead experts have cautioned against ‘‘paranoia’’ and argued that in a city as old as Paris, not all of the high lead levels can be attributed to the Notre-Dame fire.... “The state was afraid to make people afraid,” said Anne Souyris, the city’s deputy mayor in charge of health....

"Searching a room for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at last month's G7 summit in France... President Trump called out: 'Where’s my favorite dictator?'"

"Sisi really is a dictator, and he really is closely allied with the Trump administration...." Axios explains.

"In essence, drag queens are clowns. They are not transgender (or haven’t been until very, very recently). They are men, mainly gay..."

"... who make no attempt to pass as actual women, and don’t necessarily want to be women, but dress up as a caricature of a woman. Sure, some have bawdy names, and in the context of a late night gay bar, they can say some bawdy things. But they’re not really about sex at all. They’re about costume and play; their clothes and hair are exaggerated, over-the-top parodies of women’s appearance; their makeup is often cray-cray, their wigs absurd. They also reinforce, rather than undermine, gender norms in a weird, over-the-top way...."

Writes Andrew Sullivan, opposing the opposition to the Drag Queen Story Hour some libraries have for children.
Children love drag queens the way they love clowns or circuses or Halloween or live Disney characters in Disney World. It’s dress-up fun.... And yes, Dave Chappelle, the sanest man in America at the moment, is right. Men dressed obviously as women are first and foremost funny.... These clowns read children’s stories to kids and their parents, and encourage young children to read books. This is the work of the devil? Please.
Anyway... bypassing most of that controversy (which I've passed on blogging many times), I just want to cherry-pick one issue out of that: Is it good to "reinforce, rather than undermine, gender norms"? And by good, I mean not anti-feminist.

"Is this really true? Did you really pack up your mother-in-law's things and lock her out after she gave you the house? Umm yeah, YTA."

A clear response at r/AmItheAsshole.

I'm a big fan of r/AmItheAsshole and have read all the entries for the last few weeks. Usually, it's more of a conundrum or it's somebody who needs and deserves assurance that they are not the asshole. But this one takes the cake. I kind of especially enjoy when a true asshole posts with what looks like the expectation that they are not the asshole. I have a natural inclination to defend the absent party, so I like when someone who thinks they're right is met with a response that understands the other perspective and represents it well.

UPDATE: Reddit moderators have taken the post down and locked the comments over there. They explain:
You want assholes to post on this subreddit? How about next time you don't eviscerate OP in the comments. I don't care how much you think they're the worst, be fucking civil on this sub.

And in case you're one of those people wondering, "Why am I suppose to be civil in a sub about assholes?!" Read this.
From that:
I’m supposed to “Be Civil” in a sub about “assholes”?
  • Yes. For the purposes of this subreddit, “asshole” is not a bad word or an insult.
  • The purpose of this subreddit has always been to help people see where they may have been in the wrong. It’s not about calling someone “an asshole” it’s about finding who “the asshole” is in a situation.
  • The title of this subreddit is not an invitation for you to be cruel. Treat others with respect, no matter how big of an asshole they may be.
  • We are ALL "The Asshole" at one point or another in this lifetime. Please remember this when you comment here.

"In my youth and still somewhat to this date, I learned to view my body as a threat, both to myself and to others."

"Taking care to cover those bits that act as a sexual signal felt like a necessary step to de-weaponize my body....  Just as heavier women are assumed to be 'unhealthy,' and skinny women are evaluated as 'needing a sandwich,' you are cast as a harlot; a man-eater. A simple T-shirt over an ample bosom is rendered obscene, and you mustn’t be too tempting.... [S]chools and sports teams should be mindful that they aren’t ostracizing girls based on arbitrary modesty codes that have the effect of penalizing certain body types. When they do this, they are not only participating in the oversexualization of these girls, but they give power to the negative attitudes toward curvier body types by turning them into policy."

Writes Amanda MacLean in "The Obscenity of Curves/Oversexualizing female athletes is dangerous" (NYT)(writing in reaction to that story about the high school competitive swimmer who was disqualified for her too-revealing bathing suit).

"If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping..."

"... that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope," writes the novelist Jonathan Franzen in a The New Yorker article that I've noticed and avoided, perhaps because the title is warding me off — "What If We Stopped Pretending?/The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it."

ADDED: I'm reading comments and seeing that a lot of you are reflexively blowing off Franzen as going along with the left. You need to read, "The controversy over Jonathan Franzen’s climate change opinions, explained/Scientists are pissed at the novelist — and at the New Yorker for publishing him" (Vox):
Immediately after the essay went live Sunday, people began to express their ire online. Climate scientists and activists were especially pissed — at the author, and also at the magazine that published him.... The critics’ anger seemed to coalesce around four main complaints, three of them empirical in nature: Franzen is wrong on the science, on the politics, and on the psychology of human behavior as it pertains to climate change.
THIS WAS IN THE ORIGINAL POST: An excerpt from Franzen:

"The promise of kiteboarding is that a wind strong enough to draw small whitecaps from the water can take you on a magic-carpet ride."

"But the same wind can be dangerously uncontrollable.... If you swoop too aggressively and lose control of the kite, it can start spinning. In a 'death loop,' the spins become unstoppable; the kite gathers speed, pulling you along with it.... Feeling its pull, I was reminded of riding a horse: each of the kite’s small motions suggested irresistible strength, and pretending to control it was hubris. Whenever I lost focus, the kite swooped and pulled me downwind. I watched the lines: if my fingers got caught in them, the kite could rip them off.... If the wind is good, a light pull on the control bar will start the bow-shaped kite on a turn toward its apex, into the full force of the wind. At the right moment, you turn the board hard upwind and pull the bar: a surge of power lifts you skyward. A beginner might hop a foot above the water, abs tight with effort, then lose the board and crash. But the best riders can rise dozens of feet in the air, then ride away after a soft landing."

From "How Hackers Invented Kiteboarding/An unusual design process combining recklessness, imagination, and computers created one of the fastest-growing sports in history" by James Somers (in The New Yorker).

"Sim-me may live in sim-Manhattan with other uploaded minds, but with my personality and memories, he will love my family just as I do and will want to interact with them."

"Sim-me will have the same political views and want to vote; he will have the same intellectual interests and want to return to the job he remembers and still loves. He'll want to be part of the world. And what would stop him? He may live in the cloud, with a simulated instead of a physical body, but his leverage on the real world would be as good as anyone else's. We already live in a world where almost everything we do flows through cyberspace. We keep up with friends and family through text and Twitter, Facebook and Skype. We keep informed about the world through social media and internet news. Even our jobs, some of them at least, increasingly exist in an electronic space.... [W]ho would accumulate the most power? One possible answer is the people who live in the simulated world. They've already built a lifetime of political and economic connections.... Biological people would become a larval stage of human, each of them aspiring to be among the lucky few who are allowed to metamorphose into the immortal elites who own the world.... [T]he most powerful people [might] be those who control access to the simulated world. Think about how religions work. People at the top tell you that if you behave well, you'll enter heaven, and if you behave badly, you may end up in eternal punishment.... [R]eligious demagogues offer an afterlife that can't be objectively confirmed.... Imagine the coercive power of an afterlife that is directly confirmable. The public could Skype with people who are in a digital heaven and (if the technology turns very dark) in a digital hell...."

From "Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You?/The day is coming when we will be able to scan our entire consciousness into a computer. How will we coexist with our digital replicas?" by Michael S.A. Graziano (in the WSJ).

Graziano has an upcoming book, "Rethinking Consciousness: A Scientific Theory of Subjective Experience." I don't know if the book has anything on the subject of law, but the column doesn't. It's a very interesting column, but I can't read things like "his leverage on the real world would be as good as anyone else's" without thinking about law. I suspect that experts on the brain and consciousness will see many other problems with what he's saying. One of the commenters at the link brings up hormones. I don't see how copying all the connections in the brain would produce a consciousness that's the same as what a mind in an entire body experiences.