March 23, 2019

At the Saturday Mouse Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Pete Buttigieg is the antidote to the Endless Summer of Scam. He’s full of the elite qualifications that you might rightly suspect..."

"... but provides depth in real time before you. He went to Afghanistan, but hasn’t made himself out to be a war hero. He fluently draws parallels between Ulysses and American politics. He learned Norwegian to read a book. He learned Norwegian to read a book. He has a lot of sober, curveball theories about millennials and generational change.... This is a 37-year-old mayor. In any normal situation, we probably would not be talking about him in context of being president of the United States. But in the season of scam, the subtle appeal of Mayor Pete is that, maybe, at the very least, he’s done the work of being who he purports to be."

From "The Romance Of Mayor Pete In The Season Of Scam/Gotta keep an eye out for those scams, but isn't the appeal of Pete Buttigieg that he seems like the antidote to the season of scam?" by Katherine Miller (in Buzzfeed).

I'm fascinated by the conundrum. It's the "Summer of Scam"* and he seems like the antidote to scam.  But isn't that what a scam within a season of scam would look like? We're so hungry for authenticity that we fall for the biggest faker or all? Or did we already do that?

By the way, I watched the HBO documentary, "The Inventor," about that way over-the-top faker Elizabeth Holmes — the woman who was worth $5 billion one day and then $0 the next because her her blood-testing product, "Edison," didn't work and, apparently, couldn't possibly work. But people who should have smelled fakery hopped on board, mesmerized. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it were true.

AND: What I wondered was which author did Buttigieg want to read in the original so much. Here's a BBC article:
Writer Asne Seierstad was introduced to Pete Buttigieg, a presidential candidate and the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at a music festival in Texas last week. Without missing a beat, he began to speak with her about literature - in Norwegian.

Mr Buttigieg has "a South Bend accent", she says, but otherwise his Norwegian was excellent. Still she felt confused and wondered: "Why would an American learn Norwegian?" As it turned out, he'd decided that he wanted to read the work of Norwegian novelist Erlend Loe in the original language.
Here's an Erland Loe book translated into English: "Naïve. Super."
I have two friends. A good one and a bad one. And then there's my brother. He might not be quite as friendly as I am, but he's OK.

I am borrowing my brother's flat while he is away.... My life has been strange lately. It came to a point where I lost interest in it all....

* Not to be confused with the Summer of Sam.

Is the Trump Derangement Syndrome fever breaking?

"His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has."

Said Barbra Streisand, about Michael Jackson, when she was asked about the new documentary "Leaving Neverland" (Variety).
“You can say ‘molested,’ but those children, as you heard them say [later, as adults], they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

When asked if she’s angry with Jackson, she replies, “It’s a combination of feelings. I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him. Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shows and the dancing and the hats?”
She's getting a lot of criticism for that. I'm seeing (on Twitter) that people are saying she's defending pedophilia. She's at least empathizing with the predicament of the pedophile.

She also said something negative about #MeToo: "Unfortunately, it’s going to cause a lot of women not being hired because men are worried they’ll be attacked." There, she's empathizing with the right side, the women, but she's empathizing for the wrong reason.

Streisand hates Trump and she's pushing her new album "Walls" (get it?). She seems to be one of those people who feel sure they're on the right side and there's a danger to that. Confident in your goodness, you can get too comfortable displaying your empathy. You can make mistakes. It can be amusing to laugh at such people when they trip up. But I feel bad for her. Her needs are her needs, coming from whatever childhood she had or whatever DNA she has.

"The Islamic State’s so-called caliphate has been defeated, a U.S.-backed force said Saturday..."

WaPo reports in "The Islamic State’s caliphate has been defeated, U.S.-backed forces say."

I celebrate this victory, but please forgive me if I look immediately turn to WaPo's treatment of President Trump. The first mention of him is in paragraph 4, and it's negative:
The militants switched gears as territorial defeat loomed, seeding sleeper cells across former strongholds as they prepared a new phase of insurgency. U.S. military officials have also warned that President Trump’s planned troop withdrawal — the shape of which remains unclear — has the potential to create a security vacuum within which the Islamic State could regroup.
Next we see that the dramatic success of the "caliphate" occurred under Obama:
The U.S.-led military campaign began in September 2014 after the Islamist militants rampaged through Iraq, seizing a third of its territory in the space of a week. They described the land that they seized as an Islamic State, and it often bore the hallmarks of a real one. Bureaucrats dealt with household bills and garbage collection. The group even minted its own coins.
Notice that Obama is not mentioned. But the next sentence refers to the current president and just calls him "the president," which I found disorienting because I saw "2014" and thought about Obama:
For the president, victory against the Islamic State marks the fulfillment of a campaign promise and as the battle ground toward its conclusion, Trump had repeatedly declared the group defeated.
So the horrible events that happened under Obama's watch are never tied to his name, and then Trump is not named next to the word "victory" — "For the president, victory" — but he is named later in the sentence where it's more negative — Trump "repeatedly declared" something that sounds wrong, that the group was "defeated" when that didn't happen until just now.

"Maybe the real Mueller report was the friends we made along the way."

Wrote Hunter, in last night's café.

This might be my #1 favorite comment ever.

ADDED: I think Hunter was repeating something that was already out there on the web. Not sure who said it first.

March 22, 2019

At the Friday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about anything.

"Mueller Delivers Report on Russia Investigation to Attorney General."

The NYT reports.

We're not reading it yet, but waiting for Barr.
Mr. Barr will decide how much of the report to share with Congress and, by extension, the American public. The House voted unanimously in March on a nonbinding resolution to make public the report’s findings, an indication of the deep support within both parties to air whatever evidence prosecutors uncovered.
ADDED: From WaPo:
The attorney general told [the House and Senate Judiciary Committee's] he was “reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”

The attorney general wrote he would consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and Mueller “to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies.”

Barr said there were no instances in the course of the investigation in which any of Mueller’s decisions were vetoed by his superiors at the Justice Department.

Oh, come on, don't go crazy. If you love "normal," as you say, you'd better observe the "served"/"fed" distinction.

I'm reading "Why are 2020 Democrats so weird?" by Michael Walther (in The Week). There's this:
Meanwhile, there is Beto. I don't particularly care that in 1988 the young Robert Francis O'Rourke posted some erotic verses about cows ("Oh, Milky wonder, sing for us once more, / Live your life, everlusting [sic] joy" is one of the only bits I can quote on this family website) online. I didn't even know until yesterday that there was such a thing as "online" in 1988. Nor am I going to get all worked up about his weird murder spree fantasy story, which is the kind of thing stupid teenagers write every day. But what I do want to know is whether he actually took a handful of green feces, put it in a bowl, and served it to his wife once, telling her that it was avocado. Asked by a journalist recently to confirm the anecdote, which had been reported by a supposed friend of the candidate, he responded that while he didn't remember this happening it "sounds like the kind of thing I would do." Come again? If you fed excrement to the mother of your children, I feel like you would recall. I almost certainly think she would. If there was ever something to lie about as a politician, this is it....

I can't be the only person who sometimes thinks there's something to be said for, you know, normal people in politics. It is certainly difficult to imagine poor Jeb Bush ever inviting his late beloved mother to view a smut film with at the local cinema in Kennebunkport. It is even harder to imagine President Obama feeding the former first lady the contents of one of Sasha or Malia's diapers.
"Served" means he put the bowl of green shit on the table in front of his wife and declared it to be avocado. Very funny. "Fed" means he got it on a spoon and aimed it at her mouth and even got it in. Tricking her. That's horrible. Big difference. I like normal people, and in my book, normal people get the difference between those 2 images and don't smear them together to try to make the world seem weirder than it is. It's weird enough. Let's be precise and honest about just how weird it is, because it could be a LOT weirder, and we need to hang onto the last remaining lumps of normal.

"Pantera's Far Beyond Driven turns 25."

My son John observes the occasion.

"She bristles at the notion that Students for Fair Admissions represents Asian Americans."

"[Edward] Blum, the group’s founder, had previously challenged affirmative action at the University of Texas. For that case, he recruited a white female plaintiff who said she was rejected from UT because of her race. When that suit failed, Blum tried again, this time arguing race-conscious admissions policies penalize Asian Americans.... He found support for his crusade among well-educated and wealthy Chinese Americans in places like Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, people who had grown suspicious when their high-achieving children were rejected from top-flight schools. They spread the word of their fight through WeChat, a Chinese messaging program. In Lee’s eyes, it is Students for Fair Admissions, not Harvard, that doesn’t recognize socioeconomic diversity among Asians. 'It’s very specific groups filing this lawsuit, and yet we’re all being clumped together,' she said. She is skeptical that eliminating race from college admissions decisions will benefit Hmong students, young people who, like her, grew up poor and in households where no English was spoken. 'It will definitely hurt them,' she predicted."

From "The Forgotten Minorities of Higher Education/What affirmative action means for low-income Asians" in The Washington Post Magazine.

But if using race as a factor were forbidden, I think schools would pay more attention to "young people who... grew up poor and in households where no English was spoken." So why shouldn't those who champion the interests of less well-off Asian groups support the lawsuit? I see that there's an estimate that 43% of Harvard students (instead of 23%) would be Asian if only GPA and test scores were used. Maybe the idea is that if there were a higher proportion of Asian students, the Asian students attempting to rely on low economic status would be discriminated against, because the schools would be afraid of looking too Asian. Asian, as the article points out, is a very large category, comprising many subgroups, but if school are concerned about looks, the question is whether these subgroups are visually distinguishable to... who?... white Americans. And that's the problem with using economic deprivation (rather than race) as a factor: It's doesn't show. Not vividly anyway.

"As a man charged with publicly explaining Donald Trump’s often meandering and colloquial vernacular in highly adversarial TV settings..."

"... I appreciate more than most the sometimes-murky nature of his off-script commentaries. But these Charlottesville statements leave little room for interpretation. For any honest person, therefore, to conclude that the president somehow praised the very people he actually derided, reveals a blatant and blinding level of bias. Nonetheless, countless so-called journalists have furthered this damnable lie. For example, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace responded that Trump had 'given safe harbor to Nazis, to white supremacists.' Her NBC colleague Chuck Todd claimed Trump 'gave me the wrong kind of chills. Honestly, I’m a bit shaken from what I just heard.' Not to be outdone, print also got in on the act, with the New York Times spewing the blatantly propagandist headline: 'Trump Gives White Supremacists Unequivocal Boost.' How could the Times possibly reconcile that Trump, who admonished that the supremacists should be 'condemned totally' somehow also delivered an 'unequivocal boost' to those very same miscreants?... Despite the clear evidence of Trump’s statements regarding Charlottesville, major media figures insist on spreading the calumny that Trump called neo-Nazis 'fine people.' The only explanation for such a repeated falsehood is abject laziness or willful deception."

Writes Steve Cortes,  a CNN political commentator.

I suspect that they keep repeating the falsehood because they are so clearly wrong that they can't find any way to back down. And I also think they've seen the effectiveness of this attack on Trump. It has worked as propaganda, so why stop now? The hit to their credibility has already occurred, so why not keep manipulating minds?

"Did Stefon write this headline?"

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, is running for President. Chasten Buttigieg, who has a good Twitter presence, is his husband. Stefon is this "Saturday Night Live" character.

Chris Cillizza is a CNN political analyst, whose latest piece, linked in that tweet, reads:
Don't look now, but a(nother) skinny kid with a funny name is turning heads in the presidential race.

In 2008, it was Barack Obama. In 2020, it's Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg, the 37-year-old, married gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is, at the moment, the hottest candidate in the Democratic presidential field -- drawing rave reviews everywhere he goes.... He's young, charismatic and personable. He knows how to talk like a regular person -- an underrated trait in a field filled with front-running senators. And he has a remarkable resume: Rhodes scholar, military veteran, gay mayor of his hometown....

But Buttigieg is unquestionably having a moment right now....

"A judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking Wisconsin Republicans’ contentious lame-duck laws limiting the powers of Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats."

WKOW reports.
Republicans passed the lame-duck laws during an all-night extraordinary session in December just weeks before Evers and Kaul took office. An extraordinary session is a previously unscheduled floor period initiated by majority party leaders.

A coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed a lawsuit in January arguing such sessions are illegal. They contend the Wisconsin Constitution allows legislators to convene only at such times as set out in a law passed at the beginning of each two-year session or at the governor’s call....

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said, “For decades the Legislature has used extraordinary sessions that have been widely supported by members of both parties. The most recent extraordinary session was held for Governor Evers’ Budget Address..... Today’s ruling only creates chaos and will surely raise questions about items passed during previous extraordinary sessions, including stronger laws against child sexual predators and drunk drivers. We will appeal this ruling.”

"The only thing easier than beating the Klan in court... was raising money off Klan-fighting from liberals up north

"... who still had fresh visions of the violent confrontations of the sixties in their heads. The S.P.L.C. got a huge publicity boost in July, 1983, when three Klansmen firebombed its headquarters. A melted clock from the burned-down building, stuck at 3:47 a.m., is featured in the main lobby of the Montgomery office today. In 1987, the center won a landmark seven-million-dollar damage judgment against the Klan; a decade later, in 1998, it scored a thirty-eight-million-dollar judgment against Klansmen who burned down a black church in South Carolina. With those victories, Dees claimed the right to boast into perpetuity that the S.P.L.C. had effectively 'shut down' the K.K.K. By the time I touched down in Montgomery [in 2001], the center had increased its staff and branched out considerably—adding an educational component called Teaching Tolerance and expanding its legal and intelligence operations to target a broad range of right-wing groups and injustices—but the basic formula perfected in the eighties remained the same. The annual hate-group list, which in 2018 included a thousand and twenty organizations, both small and large, remains a valuable resource for journalists and a masterstroke of Dees’s marketing talents; every year, when the center publishes it, mainstream outlets write about the 'rising tide of hate' discovered by the S.P.L.C.’s researchers, and reporters frequently refer to the list when they write about the groups. As critics have long pointed out, however, the hate-group designations also drive attention to the extremists. Many groups, including the religious-right Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom, raise considerable money by decrying the S.P.L.C.’s 'attacks.'"

From "The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center" by Bob Moser in The New Yorker.

March 21, 2019

"You don’t have to kink-shame or say that people are creepy because of what they enjoy doing," said Charlotte Taillor, who had hoped "to have a nice relationship with a nice community of woke people."

The hoped-for "nice community" was Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Taillor had moved in with her "kink collective," which runs "bondage workshops and other fetish events for the B.D.S.M. (bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism) community."

The quoted article is "When the Dominatrix Moved In Next Door/A 'kink collective' in a residential area of Brooklyn has upset longtime residents and resulted in a culture clash and gentrification struggle all wrapped up into one fight" (NYT).
But the battle on Quincy Street is about more than just sex. For [longtime resident Laurie] Miller, it’s about trust and safety; for Ms. Taillor, it’s about respect and kink-shaming. As both women fought to protect their communities, what resulted was a culture clash and gentrification struggle all wrapped up into one fight.
Miller is black, and her reaction to Taillor's "nice community of woke people" was, "Oh, 'woke'! Bye, Felicia!" Miller also said, "I don’t like the transient nature of the guys that come there, that have no vested interest in our community. We don’t know what their backgrounds are or what they’re capable of. It’s just a scary thing."

Taillor says she's going to move out and: "It’s her block... I respect her. I want her to be the Beyoncé of her block. I want her to be the queen of the block. I have no qualms with it.... It’s definitely her block... I’m a feminist, I’m all about her rights.... I want to be cherished.... We deserve to be recognized in the community that we are in."

Imagine plopping your sex business into the black neighborhood and not just expecting the residents to be "woke" about it but expressing that expectation out loud and to their face!

And here's the Wikipedia page for "Bye, Felicia":
The phrase "Bye, Felicia" (actually spelled "Felisha" in the cast listing) came from a scene in the American stoner buddy crime comedy film Friday (1995). According to Ice Cube, who starred in the film and co-wrote its script, "Bye, Felicia" is "the phrase 'to get anyone out of your face'," and, as it was used in the Friday scene, is generally intended as a dismissive kiss-off.

"Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president...."

"But the decision poses considerable risk, and some advisers are flatly opposed. Some have pointed out that in a Democratic debate, he could be asked why no one on the stage would be a worthy running mate. Advisers also know that the move would be perceived as a gimmick...."

Axios says.

"As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges."

A headline at The Hill.
Ukraine’s top prosecutor divulged in an interview aired Wednesday on Hill.TV that he has opened an investigation into whether his country’s law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton....
ADDED: It should say "As allegations of Russia collusion fades." The collusion didn't fade. There was no collusion. Apparently.

"Madison’s school superintendent broke down in tears today (03-20-19) addressing Madison Downtown Rotary."

Writes David Blaska (who is running for a seat on the school board).
God knows, Jennifer Cheatham has walked through the valley of disruption. Three of the last six monthly school board meetings have broken down in chaos — the school board and its administrators driven from the meeting auditorium by raucous social justice warriors wielding the race card. Again this Monday (03-18-19), school district leadership retreated behind closed doors. Main topic on the agenda (irony alert): the overly legalistic behavior education plan — a plan that is more cause than symptom.

The school board that can’t keep order at its own meetings? No wonder the school classrooms erupt in chaos. Then again, when you throw your specially trained “positive behavior coach” under the school bus when he tries to restore order, what do you expect?...

This noon at Rotary (Blaska and the other school board candidates were invited guests), Jen told how her Chicago-born father “came from nothing.” How her parents instilled in her a love for reading, how she drove 2,000 miles cross country to take her first teaching job in the racially mixed East Bay area of California. Inspiring stuff, and I can believe Jen Cheatham was a wonderful teacher. She is a great speaker, with a sprinkling of humor.

Then she spoiled it. Supt. Cheatham attributed her success to “white privilege.”... She told of an African-American mentor at Harvard who told her that female white teachers were “a dime a dozen.” The doctoral candidate apparently internalized that to prove to the professor who controlled her advanced degree that the quaking white girl was as “woke” as any professional grievance monger....
ADDED: The Wisconsin State Journal also covered Cheatham's speech:

"John McCain received the fake and phony dossier. You hear about the dossier? It was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton."

"And John McCain got it. And what did he do? He didn’t call me. He turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy...."

Trump explains why he didn't like John McCain. It's about more than the dossier.

Also in this clip is the part that I believe is getting the most press: "I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve. I don't care about this. I didn’t get thank you. That's ok. We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain." The way....

The NYT fact-checks Trump's speech and doesn't find anything false... though it finds a lot of things "misleading." Like this, about the dossier:
Senator John McCain did obtain a copy of the so-called Steele Dossier, which outlined a range of often salacious but unproven misdeeds by President Trump and his associates — and he did turn it over to the F.B.I. — but this occurred after the 2016 presidential election. The information provided by Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, had already reached F.B.I. agents investigating Mr. Trump in September, and he met with agents in October.
I find the fact-check misleading. The most important thing I need to know is whether McCain knew the FBI already had the same information, and that's not in the NYT fact-check. Trump's main point has to do with McCain's state of mind, which was to put Trump in jeopardy, so give us what we need to judge the truth of what Trump actually said. Why won't you do that? Fake fact check!!

The NYT fact-check is also misleading in writing "outlined a range of often salacious but unproven misdeeds by President Trump." It should say something like "unproven allegations of misdeeds." It's written as if the NYT means to assert that Trump really did those things, but the dossier didn't prove it. Trump called it "the fake and phony dossier," and the NYT fact-check declines to talk about whether it's "fake and phony," and I have to presume that's because they don't want to say Trump is correct about that. Instead, the Times is still trying to float the idea that these really were "salacious... misdeeds by President Trump." Fake fact check!!

"I was smugly pleased with my apparent lack of wrinkles and quite content with regard to my personal grooming."

"I did have a little trouble navigating the streets of my new home town, but, all in all, I felt pretty good about things. All that changed with my too successful cataract surgery! My first glance in a mirror disabused me of my fancies of being wrinkle free - what's more, apparently I neither pluck my eyebrows, nor am I able to apply eyeliner in an actual 'line.' Moreover, I'm an astonishingly terrible housekeeper. - I thought the dirt was part of the linoleum pattern! I do, however, now realize that Austin has street signs..."

Writes a commenter at a NYT op-ed titled "Seeing Really Is Believing/How cataract surgery changed my life" and teased on the front page with "I Wasn't Crazy. The World Really Was Getting Darker." The teaser title doesn't reveal that it's about cataracts, but I guessed that it was. The column itself, by Jennifer Finney Boylan, is a little too sentimental and arty for my taste.

ADDED: I liked the comment. It was funny, and as a cataract patient myself, I identified with the point of view. But I've got to say that the part about eyeliner is confusing. If the bad application of eyeliner was caused by bad eyesight and she didn't notice the problem before the surgery, why would there be a problem after the surgery? You go in for the procedure without makeup, and you're forbidden to wear eye makeup for 2 weeks. So by the time she could see the makeup, she would have had clear eyesight for putting it on. But it's hard to put eyeliner on straight, and it's quite possible that seeing what you're doing wouldn't solve the problem.

Kirsten Gillibrand is working very hard on her arms and to show you she has a sense of humor.

Here's the background story on that "ranch" thing, in case you've forgotten. It was embarrassing but not as embarrassing as that comb-as-fork story was for Amy Klobuchar. Strangely, both embarrassments were salad-related. Is that absurdly sexist?

"The reaction would have been absurdly sexist..."

I found that at a WaPo article, "John Hickenlooper asks why female candidates aren’t pressed about naming a male running mate." Excerpt:
John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, was asked what is becoming a stock question for men seeking the Democratic nomination: whether they would choose a female running mate if they thwarted plans for a female standard-bearer.

“Of course.... Well, I’ll ask you another question.... But how come we’re not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’”

The remark elicited what sounded like a shout of disapproval from the audience....

"Old Sacred Feather building covered in black paint in violation of city rules."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Steve Manley, who owns B-Side Records across the street from the building, said workers on Tuesday had the painting “all done in a couple hours, and I just could not believe my eyes. It was a beautiful and natural stone and brick facade... A lot of people are upset about it.”...

A man doing work inside the building on Wednesday afternoon declined to provide his name but said there had been a “miscommunication” with painters, who thought they were supposed to paint the outside as well as the inside of the building. The inside was also painted mostly black.
It's hard to understand how such a miscommunication could happen. Go to the link to see the shocking before/during/after pictures of this classic old building.

It's bad enough that the great old hat store is gone. In happier times:


The new tenant is, we're told, a coffee shop.

March 20, 2019

At the Rattatz Café...

rat 1

... go ahead and talk about whatever you like.

I hope you get a glimpse of the Super Worm Moon. It's too overcast for us here at Meadhouse, but we did get a good look at this morning's moonset, so that almost counts.

Please remember to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon when you're purchasing your various worldly goods. The portal link is always there in the sidebar.

Thanks to all who've gotten into the swing of the new comments policy, which puts everything through moderation and has worked really well from our end, cutting out trolls, thread hijacks, and the dreaded "back and forth."

"'For men, the black turtleneck did it all. This garment was supposed to indicate the kind of freedom from sartorial convention demanded by deep thought...'"

"'... or pure creation (usually poetic)—with overtones, always carried by masculine black clothes,' fashion historian Anne Hollander wrote in her book Seeing Through Clothes. In spite of its long history, a backlash to the turtleneck followed [Elizabeth] Holmes’s explosive downfall. Will we think back to Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs when we think of the black turtleneck? Or will seeing Jennifer Lawrence scamming millions in the look forever taint it? As Vanessa Friedman wrote in the New York Times: 'In the same way that Gordon Gekko’s suspenders and Michael Milken’s toupee became symbols of their greed, Ms. Holmes’s black turtleneck is starting to seem less a brilliant frame than a false front; a carefully calculated costume that fooled everyone into assuming she was more brilliant than she was; a symbol of hubris rather than success.'"

From "Why the Black Turtleneck Was So Important to Elizabeth Holmes's Image/It has a long and symbolic history" (Esquire).

ADDED: Here's the most memorable opinion about turtlenecks:

Of spoons and forks and Birch Bayh and Amy Klobuchar.

From Ryan Lizzo's interview with Democratic presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg (in Esquire):
By the way we just got the word that senator Birch Bayh passed away. Did he have any impact on you growing up as a fellow Hoosier?

He was already out of office by the time I came of age but we’d see him campaigning for other people around Indiana. He was famous for carrying a spoon in his suit pocket to be ready for stops at Dairy Queen. He had that kind of nice retail touch. But also —

If only Amy Klobuchar had adopted a version of that.

Eeeeeeewww, uh, yeah.

I will note the non-response to that.

Morally conflicted.

The existence of women still a fascinating oddity at NPR.

That's how the NPR front page looks this morning.

That's either embarrassing or downright insulting to women.

"Dear ABC, when you asked me back to once again bail out your sh*t, f**kin’, low-rated network, I did so with the same vigor I’ve always rocked..."

"... and I delivered you the highest ratings you’ve had in 10 fucking years. At the first sign of controversy, you killed me off with a drug overdose. But you know what, I ain’t dead, bitches."

Said Roseanne Barr, quoted at HuffPo.

ADDED: Click the link to watch the video. It was embedded before but seemed to be hanging up my browser so I got rid of it.

The perverse power of the Democrats rule that a candidate with 65,000 donors gets into the debates.

WaPo explains, noting that the obscure candidate John Delaney is offering to give $2 to charity if you give him $1. Delaney is wealthy and self-funded. So he can do something like that easily.
The Democratic Party also set the fundraising threshold with the goal of expanding the early debate stage to include as many as 20 candidates, who will be randomly divided to appear on consecutive nights in a two-day June debate hosted by NBC and a two-day July meeting hosted by CNN.

Using polling alone to filter the field, especially this early in the process, would almost certainly have meant a far smaller group of candidates onstage. Recent national polls have shown no more than a dozen candidates with 1 percent support, the criteria used to qualify for the first Democratic debate in 2015....

“We are about 40 percent there, so we are getting there,” said Patricia Ewing, a spokeswoman for [Marianne] Williamson, a self-described spiritual teacher who gained fame for her work with Oprah Winfrey.
Yikes. Why wouldn't 40,000 Republicans give Williamson $1 just to make the debates more fun/weird/horrible?

"And I also like you because you want to give $100 million in reparations to black people"/"No more than that."

ADDED: That quote is mispunctuated. She didn't say "No more than that." She said "No, more than that. 200 to 500 is the number that I sort of landed on."

"Giant sunfish washes up on Australian beach: 'I thought it was a shipwreck.'"

Cool photo at The Guardian.

"Mexico has one gun shop. So why all the murders?"

Asks BBC.

Short answer: It's the U.S.'s fault.

New question: Can't Trump use this in his argument for his wall?

"My mum was chasing me and I started running. At first I could hear her but then I got lost... I leaned on a stone, started calling her, but she didn't hear me... I [started] walking towards a light that was very far away."

Said Benjamín Sánchez, a 5-year-old boy who was lost in the desert (in Argentina) for 24 hours, quoted in BBC.

The decision to start "walking towards a light that was very far away" is interesting. A couple weeks ago, there was a story about 2 little girls who got lost in the forest in California who remembered and followed a survival rule they had been taught: Once you know you are lost, stay put.

1,000 people were looking for Sánchez, and the point at which he became lost was known, yet the searchers never found him. A passing motorcyclist did. That boy must have really been determined to walk. He made the wrong choice, but I'm interested in his determination. I'd like to know the details of what he thought about the light and why it made sense to him to walk toward something very far away.

"I was cold, I slept badly, leaning on a rock."

March 19, 2019

At the Equinox Eve Café...

... all topics are equal.

"Engaged protesters were not able to block the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but they did render both toxically unpopular."

"The resistance spurred an unprecedented level of interest in special elections, swinging seats across the country, and powered Democrats to sweeping wins in the 2018 midterms. And then it stopped... The resistance has demobilized.... A swirl of controversy about anti-Semitism and ties to Louis Farrakhan cast a shadow on key leaders of the official Women’s March organization in the months leading up to the third annual march.... [T]he controversies depressed turnout. Nancy Pelosi took over as speaker in early 2019, which left liberals less alarmed. But it also left resistance to Trump with a clear leader and focal point, and House Democrats do not appear to be particularly interested in grassroots resistance work.... One veteran operative who’s deeply involved in party-aligned work on corruption issues tells me he thinks congressional leaders have deliberately demobilized the resistance because they’re so afraid of the impeachment issue.... A vigorously contested presidential nomination is a healthy part of the political process. But throwing small-dollar contributions into a zero-sum struggle for the crown nine months in advance of the first primary balloting is an inherently low-value use of people’s money, to say nothing of their time and emotional energy....While candidates run against one another — and will likely continue running for a year or more — it falls to congressional leaders to provide a unifying intellectual and emotional orientation. Opposition to Trump is, easily, the most natural candidate for the job. But to tap into it, House Democrats need to remind the resistance that there are ways to fight Trump in the here and now, not just in 2020."

That's some interestingly ineffectual handwringing by Matt Yglesias, in "The demobilization of the resistance is a dangerous mistake/Remember when protest was the new brunch?" (Vox).

Isn't the resistance dangerous to the Democratic Party in the lead-up to the 2020 election? It's hard to imagine "a unifying intellectual and emotional orientation" coming from House Democrats and controlling the "resistance." I would assume the Democrats want the resistance demobilized.

"Only a few of the saddest, most destitute Albanians still wanted to emigrate to the States..."

"...  and that lonely number was further discouraged by a poster showing a plucky little otter in a sombrero trying to jump onto a crammed dinghy under the tagline 'The Boat Is Full, Amigo.' Inside an improvised security cage, an older man behind Plexiglas shouted at me incomprehensibly while I waved my passport at him.... A half-dozen of my fellow citizens were seated behind their chewed-up desks, mumbling lowly into their äppäräti. There was an earplug lying slug-dead on an empty chair, and a sign reading INSERT EARPLUG IN EAR, PLACE YOUR ÄPPÄRÄT ON DESK, AND DISABLE ALL SECURITY SETTINGS. I did as I was told. An electronic version of John Cougar Mellencamp’s 'Pink Houses' ('Ain’t that America, somethin’ to see, baby!') twanged in my ear, and then a pixelated version of the plucky otter shuffled onto my äppärät screen, carrying on his back the letters ARA, which dissolved into the shimmering legend: American Restoration Authority. The otter stood up on his hind legs, and made a show of dusting himself off. 'Hi there, pa’dner!' he said, his electronic voice dripping with adorable carnivalesque. 'My name is Jeffrey Otter and I bet we’re going to be friends!'... 'Now tell me, Lenny. What made you leave our country? Work or pleasure?' 'Work,' I said. 'And what do you do, Leonard or Lenny Abramov?' 'Um, Indefinite Life Extension.' 'You said "effeminate life invention." Is that right?' "Indefinite Life Extension, I said."

I'm reading "Super Sad True Love Story" by Gary Shteyngart.

Can you do this fitness test (which supposedly indicates longevity)?

After the jump (because it autoplays):

"20 years ago, if you saw something on TV that offended you and you wanted to let someone know, you would’ve had to get a pen and paper and write, 'Dear BBC, I’m bothered.'"

"But you didn’t do it because it was too much trouble. Now with Twitter, you can just go, 'Fuck you!' to a comedian who’s offended you. Then a journalist will see that and say, 'So-and-so said a thing and people are furious.' No. The rest of us don’t give a fuck and wouldn’t have heard about it if it hadn’t been made a headline. Everything is exaggerated. But everything’s also an illusion. No one would talk to you in the street like they do on Twitter. They’d never come up and say, 'Your articles stink.' They’d never do that because they’re normal, but they’re not normal on Twitter because there’s no nuance, no irony, no conversation there."

Said Ricky Gervais, interviewed in "Ricky Gervais on Provocation, Picking Targets and Outrage Culture" (NYT). I uncensored the "[expletive deleted]"s.

I like the quote because I have tags for nuance, irony, and conversation.

ADDED: I forgot my "normal" tag.

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the federal government can detain immigrants indefinitely for past crimes, even if they have been previously released."

"In a 5-4 decision that fell along ideological lines, the high court reversed lower court rulings that found immigrants could only be subject to mandatory detention without a bond hearing if they were detained promptly upon their release from custody."

Politico reports.

"Beto O’Rourke’s Presidential Platform Is Actually a Restaurant Countertop/Dude, people need to eat food off of those!"

Headline at Eater.
The phenomenon has even spawned its own parody Twitter account, Beto Standing On Counters, with the tagline “Standing on Counters and other assorted furniture til ‘20.”
It's viral. Example:

"Who Still Buys Wite-Out, and Why?"

They're asking the rite question at The Atlantic.
But correction fluids are not only surviving—they appear to be thriving, with Wite-Out sales climbing nearly 10 percent in 2017, according to the most recent public numbers. It’s a mystery of the digital age....
Yeah, Mike Nesmith's mother... Liquid Paper... We needn't go back into that history. I'll just say Wite-Out is to Liquid Paper as Oreo is to Hydrox. Back to the question at hand: Why are people still buying a lot of correction fluid?
Even as paper sales dip, up-market stationery is one sub-segment that is expected to grow, thanks to a Millennial affection for personalized stationery. Tia Frapolli, president of NPD’s office-supplies practice, pointed to bullet-journaling and hand-lettering as paper-based trends that could breathe some life into correction fluids....

[T]he attraction to the material is the same as any other hand-made or small-batch product: The physical act of covering up a mistake is imperfect but more satisfying than simply hitting backspace. There’s also a poignancy to a screwed generation gravitating toward Wite-Out.

You can’t erase the past anymore than you can erase a printed typo or written error—but you can paper it over and pretend it didn’t happen.
That's interestingly written. I should name the author: David A. Graham.

It should be noted that correction fluid is useful aside from the written word. It's a standard art supply for those who use pen on paper — especially if you don't begin with a pencil draft (to be erased after it's inked in) and if the work will be distributed as a reproduction (such as a comic strip).

Oh, but wait... From Comic Tools:
Wite out is the horrible, foul smelling goop made by Bic for making small corrections to typing and letters. It's not archival, isn't terribly opaque, bleeds and isn't easy to draw over.

WHITE-out is another word we cartoonists use for what is really a specialized guache for correcting ink drawings. It's super-opaque, has very high quality pigment, is archival, and when applied at the right thickness can be drawn over almost (though not quite) as well as paper....
Here — you can buy the recommended Deleter White-Out. At Amazon, where it looks like this:

"Commodity for both sexes"!

Reusing the soap.

At Facebook this morning:

John (quoting from "Hilton is recycling used bars of hotel soap to save the planet" (CNN)): "Hilton Hotels ... announced Monday that it will collect used bars of soap from guest rooms across its hotels and recycle them into 1 million new bars of soap by October 15, which is Global Handwashing Day."

Me: Gross! "Crushed, sanitized and cut into new soap bars." So the pubic hairs and whatnot are in there, but it's okay, they're sanitized.

John (quoting from "Friends"): "Soap is soap. It's self-cleaning."

Me: Those 2 are great. Perfection!!

Me (again): The article — with that "save the planet" puffing — seems like CNN just published Hilton's PR statement.

John: Good, we should be glad when doing good for the environment aligns with business interests, e.g. getting a good press release out of it. It's worse when the opposite is true, when businesses don't see a benefit from voluntarily having good environmental practices, making it more likely that government will step in to micromanage them.

Me: Is it good for the environment or is it environmentalism theater? Did CNN check?

The Bernie-Beto-Biden triad has 70% of the Democratic primary vote.

According to a new Morning Consult poll. It's Biden 35, Sanders 27, O'Rourke 8. Biden, the one who's not yet declared, is up 4 points since last week. Beto is up 1. Kamala Harris is down 2, to 8%.

Why is the triad doing so well? Why hasn't Harris gotten traction?

Food writer Mark Bittman "has bounced around since leaving The Times."

"He spent less than a year at Purple Carrot, a vegan meal-kit start-up. He wrote a column for New York Magazine and Grub Street. He started a newsletter. He posted recipes on his personal website. All along, he said, he had the idea of creating his own publication.... Salty, which is making its debut on Tuesday, will comprise recipes, stories related to food and more. 'There’s a large part of me that wants people to be interested in food agriculture, or policy, or kids, or immigrants, or race,' Mr. Bittman said. There will be no articles on restaurant openings, think pieces on super foods or profiles of celebrity chefs, he added. Some of the stories he has lined up go into racism in restaurants, how to buy an egg and how your relationship to food changes when you become a parent."

In case you were wondering whatever happened to Mark Bittman... that's from "Mark Bittman Is Starting a Food Magazine at Medium" in the New York Times, where I believe what's between the lines is: See? We were what made you great. The article begins with a quote from Bittman about what his life was like post-Times: "It was like I kind of fell off the map."

Here's his new enterprise Salty. Here, for example, is the article on "racism in restaurants." Excerpt:
During Jim Crow, signs delineated separate entrances for white and black customers at restaurants, [Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a civil rights leader,] pointed out. Black patrons were often forced to carry-out their food and bring their own utensils and condiments. Today’s segregation is less obvious. “Most modern-day racists are cordial,” he said.

There are subtle ways that restaurants can make black patrons feel unwelcome. In 2015, the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte sparked outrage when it added a 15 percent surcharge to food and drink tabs during the CIAA — an annual basketball tournament for historically black colleges and universities....

[Zachary Brewster, an associate professor of sociology at Wayne State University] says many restaurants are “very racialized” environments where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example, or that they’re more demanding customers. Such stereotypes allow servers to express their anti-black bias while claiming that their discrimination is about money, not race.
ADDED: A big topic in the comments is whether it's really a myth that blacks don't tip well. Here's something from 2017, "Poll reveals who are the best, worst tippers."
Topping the list of best tippers:

"He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. And to others, I implore you..."

"... speak the names of those who were lost, rather than name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name."

Said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, quote in "New Zealand Is Loath to Use Suspect’s Name to Avoid Amplifying His Cause" (NYT).

March 18, 2019

At the Quiet Mouse Café...

... you can talk about anything you want.

But under the new comments policy, you'll have to wait at least a few minutes before you'll see your comment, and if you're abusive or terribly boring, you won't see it at all.

ADDED: "if you're abusive or terribly boring, you won't see it at all" — a decision not to publish your comment doesn't mean that you're necessarily either "abusive or terribly boring." Those are just 2 things that will result in nonpublication. There are some other things too, but most of them are inapplicable in a café. Please don't feel too bad if a comment you've written doesn't make it. But avoid what's abusive or terribly boring and you'll be a long way toward getting published.

"The Fake News Media..."

Andrew Yang (the Democratic presidential candidate) talks about "normal" so much....

... it reminds my son John of that fake police officer played by Peter Sellers in Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita":
I said to myself when I saw you — I said, "That's a guy with the most normal-looking face I ever saw in my life!" . . . It's great to see a normal face, because I'm a normal guy. It'd be great for two normal guys like us to get together and talk about world events — you know, in a normal sort of way....
At the link: the "Lolita" clip and Yang's "normal" quotes.

"Only 7 Black Students Got Into N.Y.’s Most Selective High School, Out of 895 Spots."

The NYT reports.
At Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 slots in the freshman class, only seven were offered to black students. And the number of black students is shrinking: There were 10 black students admitted into Stuyvesant last year, and 13 the year before.

Another highly selective specialized school, the Bronx High School of Science, made 12 offers to black students this year, down from 25 last year.

These numbers come despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to diversify the specialized high schools.... Lawmakers considering Mr. de Blasio’s proposal have faced a backlash from the specialized schools’ alumni organizations and from Asian-American groups who believe discarding the test would water down the schools’ rigorous academics and discriminate against the mostly low-income Asian students who make up the majority of the schools’ student bodies. (At Stuyvesant, 74 percent of current students are Asian-American.)....

Of all the Beatles songs, which one is most streamed in digital media?

I heard the answer on the car radio today (on the Beatles channel), and it was surprising, but you can work out the logic of it, once you know. I wonder if you can guess without looking it up.

60% of what Joe Rogan eats is meat from elk that he hunts with a bow.

Let me put you somewhere just after the 2-hour mark in his conversation with David Lee Roth:

"I'd seen a bunch of factory farming video, and I was like, okay, I'm either going to become a vegetarian or I'm going to become a hunter.... And so, I became a hunter. First of all, the nutrition that you get from wild game.... You just feel better. It feels amazing. Yeah, it's so nutrient-dense, and it's red and rich, and so what? You're eating an athlete. You're eating a wild athlete that's running away from wolves and mountain lions. I mean, it's just a different thing than a cow that's locked up in a cage...."

As for David Lee Roth, he says he eats like a crocodile.

"Even just showing a smidgen of frustration or irritation was considered weak and childlike...."

"For instance, one time someone knocked a boiling pot of tea across the igloo, damaging the ice floor. No one changed their expression. 'Too bad,' the offender said calmly and went to refill the teapot. In another instance, a fishing line — which had taken days to braid — immediately broke on the first use. No one flinched in anger. 'Sew it together,' someone said quietly.... Traditional Inuit parenting is incredibly nurturing and tender.... The culture views scolding — or even speaking to children in an angry voice — as inappropriate... It's as if the adult is having a tantrum; it's basically stooping to the level of the child.... Inuit parents have an array of stories to help children learn respectful behavior, too.... [P]arents tell their kids: If you don't ask before taking food, long fingers could reach out and grab you.... Inuit parents tell their children to beware of the northern lights. If you don't wear your hat in the winter, they'll say, the lights will come, take your head and use it as a soccer ball!"

From "How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger" (NPR).

Things I didn't immediately see as typos: "claim your office poo."

I'm reading the WaPo piece "NCAA tournament cheat sheet: Bracket tips, upsets and more," and there's this:

I seriously accepted the notion that "poo" was an apt term for a pot of money.

I've read the Bible....
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous....
And I've read Norman O. Brown....

Let's dance...

Thanks for adapting to the new comments policy!

It's working out great from my perspective.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's where I hammered it out last night. I gave 4 reasons for the change, and I am already seeing 4 corresponding aspects of improvement. Thanks for adapting, and I hope you enjoy the benefits and accept the slight lag time.

There's new text above the comment composition window that explains — in case you don't already know — that all comments go through moderation now.

"You probably want to know how much weight you’re going to lose when we remove the cyst; women always want to know."

Said the surgeon to Pagan Kennedy, who had "an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit that, doctors warned me, could at any time rupture and fill my abdomen with blood and pus." He also said — about the value of a complete hysterectomy — "You don’t have to get the procedure right away... You could wait. That would give you time to complete your family." She didn't like that either.

The doctor quotes appear in "Why You Want to Eat This Baby Up: It’s Science/Researchers are beginning to ask why some people want to squeeze puppies and others want to sniff babies" (NYT). Kennedy herself "never experienced so much as a pang of baby hunger" and "believed this emotion was just an invention — some myth that the patriarchy created to keep women down."
For the most part, people like me are invisible. We’re rarely studied or quantified. There is a medical term, tokophobia, for women who are terrified by pregnancy.... Few women are willing to declare, “Yeah, put me down as someone who definitely will never have kids.”... It's so much easier to describe yourself as undecided....

When scholars discuss [declining fertility rates around the world], they usually observe the link between the birthrate and female empowerment: Women who have access to birth control, education and self-determination tend to have fewer children. But we rarely talk about the women who — once they’re free to decide — decide to have no children at all.

Is this an expression of practical concerns or inborn wiring? The truth is, we just don’t know....
Let me add: Human beings evolved under conditions in which sexual desire and rape would produce pregnancy and childbirth, so the element of wanting to bear children was unnecessary in the female. Human beings did, however, need to want to take care of the babies who did enter their lives, and that, it seems to me, explains the phenomenon the headline aggressively forefronts. We've emerged from the conditions under which we evolved, and it does expose the problem of a lack of an urge on the part of women to undergo the difficult process of pregnancy and childbirth, even if we have a great inborn potential to love and care for any baby that would exist if we did go through that process.

"Questions like 'Should Northam resign?' or 'Is the wall racist?' divide voters today by ideology far more than race."

"'White' is a description of a person’s race, whereas feelings about whether whites are privileged or whether diversity makes the country stronger are part of a person’s racial ideology. Liberal whites — not minorities — are setting the tone on these issues. Since 2012, white liberals have moved considerably left on questions related to race, reflecting both a campus- and online-driven cultural awakening that has accelerated in response to Mr. Trump."

From "Americans Are Divided by Their Views on Race, Not Race Itself/It’s a crucial difference — and grounds for optimism" by Eric Kaufmann (author of “Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities") in the NYT.

Why is this "grounds for optimism"? Kaufman asserts that "ideological differences... are less polarizing than racial conflict, in which whole communities mobilize against an enemy."
A mix of races are found in each racial ideology, preventing tribe and creed from pushing in the same direction, which might lead to civil conflict. This raises the hope that American political elites can one day heal the country’s divisions.
That's how the column ends, with hope in American political elites. Aren't they the ones stoking this ideological division? At least the masses of people aren't organized by whatever race they happened to acquire by nature. I get that. But I think the elites are choosing to manipulate people with racial ideas, which are interesting and exciting and sure get us going. Why would they stop what's been working for them? Why would they heal? Obama didn't take his fantastic opportunity to heal. Now, there was some high level hope in the elite...
And this "Whiteshift" author dangles "the hope that American political elites can one day heal the country’s divisions"? The elites are thriving in the wounds.

Everybody beats Trump in Wisconsin, according to a new Emerson poll — everybody except Amy Klobuchar and — gasp! — Kamala Harris.

Here's how it looks at Real Clear Politics (click image to enlarge and clarify):

Klobuchar only gets a tie. Okay. But Harris?! All those others best Trump but Kamala Harris — who I've been made to feel is the most likely candidate — only ties?!

When the Democratic candidates are pitted against each other, Sanders and Biden are way out ahead, with 39% and 24%, respectively. Harris lags miserably at 5%.

"Beto O'Rourke raised massive $6.1 million his first day in the 2020 race..."

According to his campaign, CNN reports.
That tops the $5.9 million one-day total Sen. Bernie Sanders announced after he launched his campaign. The closest other 2020 Democratic candidate to publicize their first-day fundraising total was California Sen. Kamala Harris at $1.5 million....

[O'Rourke's] refusal to release first-day fundraising totals over the weekend had raised doubts that O'Rourke had met fundraising expectations around his campaign launch. He remained coy about his fundraising for days.

"I can't right now," he said Friday in Washington, Iowa.

A reporter responded that O'Rourke could share his fundraising totals if he wanted to.

"You're right," he responded. "I choose not to."
Ha ha. Brilliant move, withholding the numbers and creating the space within which naysayers would neigh. It makes the good news sparkly bright.

Oh, the anguish this must cause Kamala Harris pushers (like the NYT)! Oh, the pain to those who sought to create a fundamental belief that the Democrat candidate could not be a white man! The Bernie-Beto-Biden triad must be stopped, that was their message. But Bernie got in and raked in the cash, and now Beto's done even better. The non-whitemales are far behind. And the #1 white male isn't even in yet. But we know Biden will show up next, and the only question will be whether he'll out-fund-raise the other components of the triad, the other white males.

By the way: "Biden Accidentally Says He’s Running, Crowd Chants ‘Run, Joe, Run!’" (Rolling Stone).
“I know I get criticized. I’m told I get criticized by the new left,” Biden said told the audience at the First State Democratic Dinner. “I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the — anybody who would run.”

Before Biden even had a chance to walk the statement back, the audience was already on its feet, cheering him on, chanting, “Run, Joe, run!”

“I didn’t mean it!” Biden insisted, laughing, adding, “Of anybody who would run, because, folks, we have to bring this country back together again.”

"'Poppy Apocalypse': Small California city overrun by thousands of tourists declares 'public safety crisis.'"

WaPo reports.
Officials in Lake Elsinore, Calif., located just over an hour southeast of Los Angeles, announced Sunday that they had closed off access to their famed California golden poppy fields after “Disneyland size crowds” inundated the city of about 66,000 over the weekend, straining resources and creating a “public safety crisis.”

"This weekend has been unbearable,” the city said in Sunday’s announcement, which was shared across social media platforms. “We will evaluate all options next week including ways to shut this down. . . . We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community.”

The post included a graphic with a prominent red X over a photo of the poppy fields and large text that read, “No more shuttles or Entrance" and “No Viewing or Visiting.” It also featured several pointed hashtags, such as “#PoppyShutdown,” “#PoppyNightmare” and “#IsItOver."
You go to see the flowers, which you imagine out there on a people-free landscape, but if you go, there will be people all over the scene. The authorities might as well close it, because it isn't even there, that scene you'd like to view in person. Your in-personhood is part of a superbloom of humanity, all those people who, like you, wanted an in-person experience of the superbloom of flowers.

This is the problem with traveling to the greatest sights. They can't be seen. Better to travel to lesser sights — some less scenic fields of wild flowers. Where are those places where you can find beauty in nature, where you're not one of the masses of travelers besetting other travelers? Instead of going to the obvious places and being part of the problem of ruining what made them worth a trip, enjoy the trip of looking for the nature that no one else is looking at.

ADDED: A tip from William Blake:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour...

March 17, 2019

"Nat King Cole would have turned 100 years old today."

John blogs today (when it's his birthday too). Lots of beautiful singing (and piano playing) in videos embedded at the link.

I'm thinking about a new commenting experience.

I'm not starting it yet, but I may do it soon, perhaps only — at least at first — as an experiment. UPDATE: The experiment has begun!

The idea is for all comments to go into moderation. I'll regard the comments submitted to moderation as private messages to me, and I'll only publish comments I think readers would generally enjoy reading — comments that are interesting, original, well-written, and responsive to the post.

I don't write anything in the posts that I don't think is new and worth reading. Sometimes I "front-page" comments that seem especially valuable, so this new approach to comments would be much more like front-paging, with lesser comments simply not published at all. I would still read the comments, but I wouldn't impose them on readers.

Why am I thinking of doing this?

1. There are many excellent comments, but they can get buried amongst lesser comments. With fewer comments and a guarantee that these are all chosen comments, the reader experience in the comments will be far superior. Right now, I know there are many readers who won't even look at the comments because the overall quality is too low. So, first, I want a better reader experience. You won't have to go searching for what's good.

2. When there are already a lot of comments, you might not want to take the trouble to write a comment that might actually be excellent. Who will read you? This hesitation will be especially strong where there are a lot of lesser comments or a high concentration of low-quality comments. I imagine that some of the best stuff is never written at all. In the new comments experience, you might show up hours after the post has gone up and see maybe a line of 10 really good comments. You might feel strongly motivated to contribute. What you write will be read.

3. Of course, I might not choose your comment for publication at all, but you'll know you're competing to hit my standard and that I'll at least read it. You'll see what does get published, so you'll have a chance to learn what it takes. I'm optimistic that the quality of comments will improve as commenters see what I'm saying is good. There are lots of ways to be good, and I'll be continually showing you examples.

4. It might make me better. If it doesn't, I can change back any time I want.

You might wonder what will happen to the cafés. What I can do, with the limited options Blogger gives me, is turn moderation off at the end of the day when I put up the café, and then you can write and interact spontaneously. That will also end the moderation for the other posts of that day, but I'll simply go through those posts the next morning and use deletion to get the effect I'd worked on for the day.

Doesn't this sound like a lot of trouble for me (and Meade)? We already spend a great deal of time reading comments. The idea is to use our comments-reading time to better effect. We love reading the comments. I have a way of reading and writing that flows very well for me, and I would really miss having comments. But I want better comments!

The new commenting experience has not yet begun. This is a post where you can talk about it and see your comments immediately. Feel free to try to talk me out of this. But aren't you interested in seeing what would happen?

IN THE COMMENTS: mccullough said...
I’m ready for my close-up.

Going to bring my A-game.
traditionalguy said...
Do it! We have a long way to go to reach Althousehood,but we have to start somewhere. And we might surprise you.

Will snarky baseball comments still make the grade?
CJinPA said...
More than most bloggers, you sometimes encourage readers to consider specific ideas before commenting on certain posts. It’s clear the quality of discussion generated by your writing means a lot to you. I make a conscious effort to post an original idea when I comment. I’m not always successful. This should be a worthwhile experiment. The big question: How many will stick around if their comments are never published, and what will that say about their (our) motivation for coming here?
stevew said...
Sounds like a lot of work for you and Meade, but also that you are ready, willing, and able to do that work.

I think is sounds like a fine idea, and would significantly improve the quality of the comments here. I'm one of those that doesn't come as often to the comment section lately as I once did; partly because of volume and partly because too many comments have been in the category of personal attacks.

Not sure if any of my comments will rise to level of fitting through your new filter - often I'm coming to the party after it is well underway and so don't have much to offer other than agreement with ideas already expressed - but it would be fun to try to win you over. I expect that I would spend more time thinking and composing, rather than just dashing off whatever comes into my head.

Try it for a while, you can see if it works and if you are really interested in doing the moderation work.
Kent said...
Brilliant! think it has great potential, less for limiting the dross (which is more easily done just by not reading comments) as for enhancing the gold; improving on something you've said or adding perspective you find useful. Does it carry the danger of enhancing an echo chamber? Of course. But every blog author does that by deciding what questions to tackle or how to frame them. The best antidotes are rival blogs but nothing you do with comments will limit that. Moreover, as you pointed out, it also gives commenters more incentive to add something you might find worthwhile and more assurance they won't be trolled.
Ignorance is Bliss said...
Will it be possible to come to some sort of arrangement with Meade to get our comment in, maybe as a recruited athlete?
Baelzar said...
You seem like you'd be a fair moderator. Give it a try.
Lyle Sanford, RMT said...
1) - A huge thank you for managing to write this post not using the - beaten lifeless through overuse - word "curate".
2) - I feel I should read all the comments before making one of my own, so sometimes I just move on when there are a lot.
3) - Whatever you do, the effort you put into making this blog so special makes me feel better about the world.
MayBee said...
I have low self esteem and always assume ideas like this are intended to keep me from babbling so much. So we'll see what I dare to do. I felt the same way about caller id....maybe nobody would ever answer my phone calls if they know its me? But after a few years, I got used to it.
The Last Dragon Slayer said...
I think there is a risk of you being accused of censorship and favoritism. Althouse is already unfairly accused of things. However, the person who perceives that they are being unfairly censored will never have the chance to air their grievance publicly. They might go away in a huff, I suppose, but if they are the ones who are so likely to be accusatory of Althouse and her motives, maybe that is just fine.

I disagree with Althouse on a number of points, but I find her to be quite fair in addressing issues and letting people speak and disagree. She only asks that you back it up. I totally back that approach, so I have little fear that the comments will begin to slant only toward her point of view. I think Althouse knows that the value in the blog is the debate, and censorship would kill the goose. I expect she even finds us right-wing commenters interesting, if nothing else.

Banning people is very hard to do. I've had several "personas" on this blog it is is very easy to create a new one every day if I wanted. How can she ban someone determined to be a pest?

I don't like up-voting. To be honest, I trust Althouse to be more balanced than the general audience (not saying that any given member is less honest.) Thus, with up-voting, we will get more censorship in a way since contrary views my get down-voted based on point of view rather than quality. I think Althouse will filter for quality and relevance, not point of view.

I do hope she will let the tangentials through. The old Spatula was very entertaining even if not right on topic. There have been other colorful commenters that might not always advance a debate, but they were fun to read. But then, I think this is a reaction more toward to personal attack and back and forth bickering than it is for anything else, so I still see it as low risk to the quality of the commentary.
Phil 3:14 said...
Is it possible to create a parallel comment section for those who don't make the grade so that we can wallow in our mediocrity, pettiness and name calling.

I mean, without that, is life even worth living?...

Just know that as I disappear beyond the boundary of acceptable comments I will be standing outside, face pressed against the glass shivering and hungry but somehow still warmed by the wit and humor of my bettors.

(PS, are these better comments? .....oh please, please, PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME GO!! I'LL DO BETTER, I KNOW I CAN DO BETTER.)
Meade said...
Phil, you have a typo on "bettors."

"By the time the angst-ridden turn to [the parenthood-indecision therapist], they have typically exhausted other potential sources of insight."

"They’ve late-night-panic-Googled their way to every parenting blog and advice column and TED talk; they’ve read feminist essays by women who are proudly child-free. They’ve fielded nosy questions from relatives, sought advice from friends, made lists of pros and cons. Finally, they decide it is worth the time and cost (ranging from about $400 for an online group course to upwards of $2,500 for one-on-one counseling) to have an expert help solve the problem. But a motherhood clarity mentor is nothing like the well-intentioned auntie who coos, 'Oh, honey, of course you should have a baby,' or the sleep-starved mom friend who sternly warns, “'If you’re not totally sure, you better not.' A parental indecision therapist isn’t interested in adding one more voice to the cacophony. She wants you to learn to listen to your own...."

From "Deciding whether to have kids has never been more complex. Enter parenthood-indecision therapists" (WaPo).

The most-liked comment over there is:
When I was in my early 20s, I knew I did not want kids. Simply no interest. Children have never held any fascination with me. To me, they are needy and demanding and consume whatever life you had before them. I'm now near 60 and have never regretted it. We have 7 billion people on this overpopulated planet. Not having a kid is not a tragedy.
I'm sure my comment will cause a lot of controversy, but personally I think bringing children into this completely messed-up world is totally irresponsible. Unless things change tremendously -- and very, very soon -- they face a world of violence, hatred, ecological devastation and economic privation. Not to mention trumpski and his ilk. I made the decision not to have children a long time ago and have never regretted it.
Notice that neither comment deals with the subject of the article — people who have trouble deciding and the therapists who treat them.

I wonder if only women seek this treatment. The term "motherhood clarity mentor" suggests the indecision is a women's problem or that men either know they don't want children or if they do want children believe the decision whether to have them or not belongs to the woman.

"Beto O'Rourke was the one to come up with the name 'Cult of the Dead Cow' for the hacker group in April 1985."

I'm reading the Wikipedia article "Cult of the Dead Cow" because I was blogging about Beto O'Rourke this morning, and in the comments Ron Winkleheimer said, "i'm way more interested in the fact that he was in the Cult of The Dead Cow." I said out loud, "Why did they call it Cult of the Dead Cow? Was it because they were eating hamburgers?"

So I looked it up, and I see: "Beto O'Rourke was the one to come up with the name 'Cult of the Dead Cow' for the hacker group in April 1985." The footnote sent me to "cDc 079: The True Story of Cult of the Dead Cow by Psychedelic Warlord" (Psychedelic Warlord being Beto O'Rourke), and I actually took the trouble to read the whole thing, out loud, within earshot of Meade. Then I was going to blog it by starting with the most interesting quote from the piece, but looking back over it, I had to say, "That wasn't really very interesting, was it?" And Meade confirmed that it was not.

But I must say that it's ridiculous to read "The True Story of Cult of the Dead Cow" and come up with the flat Wikipediaese "Beto O'Rourke was the one to come up with the name 'Cult of the Dead Cow.'" Maybe it depends on whether you've rearranged your brain with hallucinogenic drugs, but to my mind, calling it "The True Story..." is a way to say This is a tall tale. And:
Well, it was about 11:30pm on cold night in April of '85. I had just
finished talking to Franken Gibe. I still kinda remember how it all went
I still kinda remember... That means it's made up (to one degree or another)...
FG "Hey Psyche! I just had the greatest idea for a new organization!"

PW "Really? What are you planning on calling it?"...

FG "Comatose Cow Club.....

PW "Yeah... hey, why don't you call it Cult of the Dead Cow?."..

FG "Ahhhh Psyche... you are such a dreamer! And anyhow, "Cult of the Dead Cow" Ha! Who would want to join a group like that? Oh well... talk to ya later."

PW "Bye... but consider it, ok?"
You may say Psychedelic Warlord is a dreamer, but...

"When I was in my teens, I was in The Boys’ Brigade, a semi-military organization. We had a bugle band, and I used to play the snare."

"That’s how I got into playing drums. I used to like that sort of snare style, and I think I brought some of that into The Yardbirds, with 'I’m a Man,' a bit of a marching thing. But I also mixed it up with jazz. There was a military/jazz element."

Said Jim McCarty, who was the drummer in The Yardbirds.

I've listened to The Yardbirds "I'm a Man" hundreds of times, mostly half a century ago, but I've never thought of it as military....

Does it change the meaning, to think about it that way — as a military march? Lyrics here, if you want to analyze. The most notable lyric, heard over and over is: "Man, I spell M-A-N, man/I'm a man."

Beto O'Rourke's hacker name was "Psychedelic Warlord," so that must mean he's done hallucinogenic drugs — right? — and is that something that's okay in a presidential candidate?

Scott Adams addresses the question whether Beto has done hallucinogens:

Scott's first pass at the question is another question: "Have you seen Beto?" He giggles while waiting for the question to soak in. He says anyone who's taken hallucinogens (which Scott has) will have an "easier time" with the question.

Eventually he gives his answer: He'd place a "large bet" on "yes."

He's quick to add that it's not a criticism. "In fact, I might even prefer it." This preference interweaves with his reason for believing Beto has used hallucinogenics (reasons other than that nickname, Psychedelic Warlord): Beto doesn't see barriers. People who have done hallucinogenics "think their barriers are artificial.... They see the world around them as somewhat artificial, meaning that they know it's a construct of their own mind."

Scott's use of the word "know" reveals that (by his own standard) he's used hallucinogenics. He knows the world around him is a construct of his own mind.

"Once you realize that your experience is, to a large extent, a construct of your own mind, then you can start removing barriers. So you can say to yourself, yes, it does seem that, in the normal world, it would be impossible to become President of the United States with my résumé, but I've taken hallucinogens...."

Scott ends this segment reaffirming that he believes Beto has taken hallucinogens. He never gets back to the wafted assertion that it's preferable to have a President who has acquired the knowledge/"knowledge" that barriers are artificial. It makes me think of that well known Robert F. Kennedy quote — and a lot of people think Beto O'Rourke looks like Robert F. Kennedy — "Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not?"

That's Teddy Kennedy at RFK's funeral. RFK adopted those words as the theme for the presidential campaign that ended in his death. The words are nearly identical to words that George Bernard Shaw had the serpent say to Eve in the play "Back to Methuselah": "You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'"

And there's your forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge — LSD.

I remembered that I'd already written about the RFK quote and Shaw and the serpent, but it blew my mind to search my archive and discover that I wrote about it at the end of a riff that began with a snippet from Scott Adams. Adams had been talking about the weird propaganda video President Trump sent to Kim Jong-Un. I leapt to the RFK quote after I'd riffed my way to: "[M]aybe the target isn't Kim at all but the American media, and they are being lured into mocking and disparaging Trump, which will ultimately help Trump, as the American people will watch the video and be taken by the optimism the elites find appalling."

Leapt, over the barrier.

Is it funny that Trump's dream of things that never were is of a barrier — his wall? Is it evidence of having taken hallucinogens that you see no barrier to... a barrier?