April 20, 2019

So wrong.

"I don't want to talk about the environment. The environment sucks. Nobody's fixing it. We're all gonna die."

Said one 20ish woman to another, after they walked by a man who asked them (in an expansive, exuberant voice) if they wanted to talk about the environment.

ADDED: Overheard on the street... by me, first-hand.

ALSO: As I say in the comments (controverting some inferences): "The woman did not sound depressed or cynical. More mocking and like she couldn't be bothered with climate guy."

At the Eggs-actly Right Cafe...

... you can serve up your scrambled, poached, fried, and soft- and hard-boiled thoughts.


"Should a White Man Be the Face of the Democratic Party in 2020?"

A blunt headline at the NYT.

The article forefronts this quote from a young woman: "Personally I’d love to see a woman... If people are being catty and holding gender or race against a candidate, it would break my heart."

So I infer the NYT answer to the question is: Yes, of course, that would be fine, if it's the right white man.

We now know that, apparently, Joe Biden is going to enter the race. And it is a little embarrassing that, according to recent polls, the top 4 candidates for the Democratic nomination are white males. I think the NYT is trying to help readers accept that rejecting white maleness should not be a priority. The radical feminist in me wants to say: Yes, yes, it's never the right time to reject the white male. But this isn't the right time for the radical feminist, is it? This is the right time for quoting random young women who casually waft the notion that it would be CATTY to insist on a woman candidate.


It doesn't take a radical feminist to call sexism on that word. What the hell, NYT?
Is a white male the best face for an increasingly diverse Democratic Party in 2020? And what’s the bigger gamble: to nominate a white man and risk disappointing some of the party’s base, or nominate a minority candidate or a woman who might struggle to carry predominantly white swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that both Barack Obama and Mr. Trump won?
Yes, of course. It's always one version or another of that story.

The linked article is long. I'll just give you one more quote:
“Trump will run over a woman,” Carl West, 64, said as he walked to see Ms. Warren at the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. “He’ll just run a woman into the ground.”

"Now the dossier — financed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and compiled by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele — is likely to face new, possibly harsh scrutiny from multiple inquiries."

Says the NYT.
Mr. Mueller’s report contained over a dozen passing references to the document’s claims but no overall assessment of why so much did not check out....

Republicans in Congress have vowed to investigate. The Justice Department’s inspector general is considering whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation improperly relied on the dossier in applying to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a warrant to eavesdrop on Carter Page, a Trump adviser. The inspector general wants to know what the F.B.I. learned about Mr. Steele’s sources and whether it disclosed any doubts about their veracity to the court....

[It] could be Russian disinformation. That would mean that in addition to carrying out an effective attack on the Clinton campaign, Russian spymasters hedged their bets and placed a few land mines under Mr. Trump’s presidency as well....

But Mr. Mueller, after a two-year investigation involving roughly 40 F.B.I. agents and other specialists, provided no evidence to support the claim[s]....
Much more detail at the link.

April 19, 2019

At the Miss-You Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.


I keep hearing that word...

I hear: Ask not whether there was — technically, legalistically — a crime. Ask whether it feels like Nixon.

How will the intensely (overly) emotional reaction to the Mueller report affect the competition for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party?

Who is helped and who is hurt? Will the Democrats or Donald Trump benefit in the end?

I haven't looked for the various reactions from candidates. Are they stirring up Muellermania or demonstrating thoughtfulness and sobriety?

There's the Muellermania paradox — a highly emotional reaction to the way Trump seems to have been highly emotional. (Have you heard he said "I'm fucked" when he found out they'd appointed the special counsel?!!! That seems like a perfectly normal reaction to me but a lot of people are hyperventilating about how cahraaazzzeeee it is. Are they hyperventilaters mentally sound enough to be trusted?)

"Nusrat Jahan Rafi was doused with kerosene and set on fire at her school in Bangladesh. Less than two weeks earlier, she had filed a sexual harassment complaint..."

"...against her headmaster.... Nusrat, who was 19, was from Feni, a small town 100 miles (160km) south of Dhaka. She was studying at a madrassa, or Islamic school. On 27 March, she said the headmaster called her into his office and repeatedly touched her in an inappropriate manner. Before things could go any further she ran out...  At the local police station she gave a statement. She should have been provided with a safe environment to recall her traumatic experiences. Instead she was filmed by the officer in charge on his phone as she described the ordeal. In the video Nusrat is visibly distressed and tries to hide her face with her hands. The policeman is heard calling the complaint 'no big deal' and telling her to move her hands from her face. The video was later leaked to local media. According to a statement given by Nusrat, a fellow female student took her to the roof of the school, saying one of her friends was being beaten up. When Nusrat reached the rooftop four or five people, wearing burqas, surrounded her and allegedly pressured her to withdraw the case against the headmaster. When she refused, they set her on fire. Police Bureau of Investigation chief Banaj Kumar Majumder said the killers wanted 'to make it look like a suicide'. Their plan failed when Nusrat was rescued after they fled the scene.... 'One of the killers was holding her head down with his hands, so kerosene wasn't poured there and that's why her head wasn't burned'... In the ambulance, fearing she might not survive, she recorded a statement on her brother's mobile phone. 'The teacher touched me, I will fight this crime till my last breath,' you can hear her say."

BBC reports.

"The most generous reading of Robert Mueller’s report, the one pushed by President Donald Trump’s own defenders, is, in fact, profoundly damning"/"Barr Is Right About Everything. Admit You Were Wrong. After Trump’s vindication, the liberal media and its allies in government should face a reckoning. I’m not holding my breath."

I'm trying to read: 1. Ezra Klein in Vox, and 2.  Christopher Buskirk in the NYT.

It's quite the cacophony.

Options: 1. Read a lot of commentary and see what strikes you as most convincing, 2. Note that there's plenty of opinion on the side where your feelings already are and move on, 3. Triangulate, 4. Don't look at any commentary, just read the report for yourself and make your own decision, 5. Reaffirm your aversion to politics and move on.

April 18, 2019

At the Thursday Night Café...

... you can talk about anything other than the Mueller report.

Put your Mueller musings in the previous post. This thread is for relief from the day's obsession.

"Many of us do think the president is unfit for office, but unless that’s a bipartisan conclusion, an impeachment would be doomed to failure."

"I continue to think that a failed impeachment is not in the national interest, and so we’ll see what’s been redacted from this report. We’ll continue to do our own work."

Said Adam Schiff, quoted in "Democrats Draw Closer to a Dicey Question: Whether to Impeach Trump" (NYT).
Still, Ms. Pelosi and her allies also run risks in not moving toward impeachment. Voices on the Democrats’ left flank appear to have been emboldened by Mr. Mueller’s report, and will remind party leaders that letting Mr. Trump entirely off the hook for behavior they believe threatens the separation of powers sets a dangerous precedent for the country....

“Take pictures or don’t take pictures. We can either play or we can pose. Okay."

Said Bob Dylan to the crowd in Vienna.
He then stood still for 10 seconds to mockingly “pose”, before returning to the piano to perform ‘It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry’.
And then he went back to the hotel and stayed up all night leaning on the windowsill.

Barr is about to speak.

But it's time for my Pilates lesson, so you're on your own for now.

UPDATE: I'm back, but I've got a bunch of things to do. You'll have to enjoy/rail against the great Muellering on your own.

Here's the text. Search and you shall find!

UPDATE 2: Have you had a nice day? I spent some of it listening to the cable news channels on the satellite radio in the car, but it got repetitious and overemotional so I retreated to my audiobook. Do I have to blog about the Mueller report? Obviously, not.

"I had two priorities: to save the crown of thorns and a statue of Jesus."

Said Rev. Jean-Marc Fournier, quoted in "The Chaplain, the Cathedral Fire and the Race to Rescue Notre-Dame’s Relics" (NYT).
“We needed keys and codes to save some of the world treasures, which I clearly didn’t have,” Father Fournier said.... The crown of thorns... was locked in a chest.

While Father Fournier ran to look for the keys, some of his fellow firefighters opted for a more direct approach: They broke open the chest....

With the statue [of Jesus] in hand, Father Fournier, alone in the nave... "thought Jesus could help us a little bit and work, too,” he said. “I invited him to worry about his own house if he didn’t want to finish the night under a tent by the Canal Saint-Martin.”...

“The one who tells you that he’s not afraid in that kind of situation is either very dangerous or foolish,” the chaplain said. “Even for a firefighter, to go inside a building in flames isn’t that natural.”
ADDED: The NYT had to correct this story:
An earlier version of this article misidentified one of two objects recovered from Notre-Dame by the Rev. Jean-Marc Fournier. It was the Blessed Sacrament, not a statue of Jesus.
The commenters over there were irritated by the mistake:
I do not, in fact, think he was saving "a statue of Jesus". He was saving the Holy Eucharist, which Catholics see as the body of Christ. Come on, folks. This is pretty basic.
The priest did not carry out "a statue of Jesus." He carried out the Eucharist, our communion wafers, which Catholics believe is the Body of Christ. It's more important than the crown of thorns.

Please make a greater effort to educate your staff on basic religious literacy. There are plenty of Catholics in New York, and this level of mistake is practically offensive to many of us.

"I'm just going to get ahead of the spin and announce that the Mueller report supports everything I already thought."

"And if the redactions were removed, it would support everything I already though[t] even more."

Glenn Reynolds gets ahead of the spin.

I almost feel sorry for the TV news people. They have to put on a show, but they'll have to talk about the report without reading it. It's 400 pages. What can they do except roll out some pre-written material?

William Barr is doing a press conference on the report at 9:30, and the report won't be available until 11. That pretty much forces everyone to give immense priority to Barr's presentation, and not just for the 1 1/2 hours between 9:30 and 11. They'll have to keep talking about that, because they'll only be getting started reading the material.

What can they do, once 11 rolls around, to avoid continuing to analyze the Barr presentation (which will include denouncing his decision to do a press conference and dominate the news in advance of the release of the text)? You can be cynical and say the text won't affect the media, and everyone will keep saying what they were already saying, and that is, in fact, my baseline assumption. The TV news is awful.

But what could they do if they wanted to immediately and competently cover the report — the report and not the Barr press conference? Presumably, the media have teams of people to read the report quickly and get ready to go on camera with something. There should be different strategies for diving into it. Someone should be ready to go on camera opening the report and trying to read the first page, right there in real time (the way reporters struggled with the final Bush v. Gore opinion on camera, genuinely trying to figure out, under extreme pressure, what the hell happened).

The second person could be quickly reading the introductory section during this time and go live with a deeper explanation, detailing the conclusions, and the particularities of the language in the introduction. Or the second person could be someone who'd completed something that can be done in 2 minutes: an assessment of the extent of the redactions and where in the report the redactions were heaviest (with some ideas about what this means about why the redactions took place).

You could fill the first 20 minutes or more with material like that, and it would all be new and text-based — not about the Barr press conference. During that time, you could have teams of readers with different strategies for getting into the report. Some readers could be assigned to sections of the report, others could be assigned search terms (such as names or letter strings like "obstruct" or "collu"). I don't know how many readers CNN or MSNBC or Fox has to put on the reading task, but use the people you have and break up the assignment. Others who are good at grasping and analyzing material can go on camera without reading. Let them ask the questions in an effort to get what they need from those who've done the reading, and have someone listening to that and directing readers onto specific tasks, and cue up these readers to go on camera as soon as they've come up with answers.

Hey, now I think it would be great fun to run this project! I believe it can be done well. I presume professional newsfolk could come up with an even better strategy than I just sketched out. I'll watch and judge their work. I don't trust them even to try to do it well, and I understand Glenn's cynicism. Or is it cynicism? Maybe he's just doing what he can to make it harder for the media to do a bad job. That's what I'm doing too. I have hope!

April 17, 2019

At the Springtime Table...


... there's a wide selection. Talk about what you want.

And shop through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Twitter founder and CEO and billionaire Jack Dorsey... says he eats only one meal a day in the week and doesn't let any foodstuff pass his lips at the weekend."

"He also starts every day with an ice bath. 'Nothing has given me more mental confidence than being able to go straight from room temperature into the cold,' he says. And, rain or shine, he walks the five miles from his home to his office.... Dorsey's wellness-hacking habits are extrapolated from the ancient Greek and Roman philosophy of Stoicism.... [Dorsey has] created a platform that has allowed populists, alt-right types, and Russian bots to spread their messages to vast new audiences.... Twitter undeniably helped make Donald Trump president and gave Britain's Brexiteers a stage.... Dorsey has experienced how easy it is to create global pandemonium with a laptop and a smidgen of chutzpah. So for the Twitter CEO and his kind, trying to control biology with low-grade torture, plus a disinterest in traditional rich-people trappings, may be a kind of self-imposed penance for having built platforms and technology that have unleashed some pretty bad things on the world...."

From "Why are Silicon Valley billionaires starving themselves?" by Susan Margolis in The Week.

I don't believe there's any true penance here other than a desire for good PR (in that it makes him look serious, hard-working, and lofty — almost saintly). But I don't believe he's doing these things because he thinks he's done wrong — only that he wants to defend his company's reputation and freedom from regulation. I would guess that he's genuinely motivated by the desire for good health and long life and fascinated by extreme and challenging ideas about how to get that. Some people are drawn to stringent routines, and there's a sort of magical thinking about rituals.

And I don't think the philosophy of the Stoics had to do with penance. It's not about the sense that you've done something wrong and need to make up for it.

"Although Macron and donors... have emphasized that the cathedral should be rebuilt as close to the original as possible, some architectural historians... believe that would be complicated..."

"... given the many stages of the cathedral’s evolution. 'The question becomes, which Notre Dame are you actually rebuilding?,' [say architectural historians like Brigniani]... 'Any rebuilding should be a reflection not of an old France, or the France that never was — a non-secular, white European France — but a reflection of the France of today, a France that is currently in the making. 'The idea that you can recreate the building is naive. It is to repeat past errors, category errors of thought, and one has to imagine that if anything is done to the building it has to be an expression of what we want — the Catholics of France, the French people — want. What is an expression of who we are now? What does it represent, who is it for?,' [Brigniani] says. [Jeffrey Hamburger, professor of art history at Harvard,] dismisses this idea as 'preposterous.'... 'It’s not as if in rebuilding the church one is necessarily building a monument to the glorification of medieval catholicism and aristocracy. It’s simply the case that the building has witnessed the entire history of France as a modern nation,' he says. '[You] can’t just erase history. It’s there, and it has to be dealt with critically.'"

Writes EJ Dickson in Rolling Stone.

Who gets it more nearly right?
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: It's fantastic how well the building held up:

So inspiring! There's such a glorious bright side to this. The wooden "forest" in the attic was fated to go out in a blaze, and the spire — a relatively recent addition — fell, but the flammable part will be replaced by something much more fireproof, and everyone is coming together, providing the money and the physical and mental labor, and everyone's focused on getting it done by the looming conspicuous goal that is the Paris Olympics in 2024.

"We can be whatever we have the courage to see."

That's called "A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."

Meade watched that over my shoulder as I played it. I was fascinated by how fast that hand could paint, and I guess if I had the courage to see my own hand painting that fast, I could speed paint perfectly too — and without ever dipping the brush in paint or cleaning it between colors.

As for Meade, he made it hard to hear the audio track, because he insisted on singing this song:

I'm doing fine on Cloud 9...
You can be what you wanna be
Cloud 9
You ain't got no responsibility
Cloud 9
Every man in his mind is free
Cloud 9
You're a million miles from reality
Cloud 9
You can be what you wanna be
I'm feeling fine on Cloud 9

"The SWAT team, the overdose, the complaints of pot smoke in the air and feces in the stairwell... at Sedgwick Gardens, a stately apartment building in Northwest Washington."

"[T]he Art Deco complex, which overlooks Rock Creek Park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places... [l]ocated in affluent Cleveland Park... was once out of reach for low-income District  residents. That changed two years ago, when D.C. housing officials dramatically increased the value of rental subsidies [up to $2,648 a month]. The goal was to give tenants who had previously clustered in impoverished, high-crime areas east of the Anacostia River a shot at living in more desirable neighborhoods.... As of February, tenants with city-issued housing vouchers had filled nearly half of [Sedgwick Gardens's] roughly 140 units.... Some tenants with vouchers say they have been made to feel unwelcome by their new neighbors, a dynamic that has unavoidable undertones of race and class in a largely white neighborhood.... Cleveland Park is a bastion of urbane liberalism where just 1 in 20 voters supported President Trump in the 2016 election. Yet from the beginning... it was clear that some of the building’s older residents were discomfited by the new basement dwellers.... After moving into the building about two years ago, voucher holder Joseph A. Bundy, 69, said he was smoking outside one day when another resident approached him: 'This lady came up and said, "Don’t you know there’s a park up the street?" I said, "What you talking about, a park up the street? My home’s right here."'"

From "D.C. housed the homeless in upscale apartments. It hasn’t gone as planned" (WaPo).

"... a bastion of urbane liberalism... Yet..." — oh, the assumptions in that "yet"!

"The massive search for Sol Pais is over. She is dead from possible self-inflicted wounds..."

"The 18-year-old female suspect was on the run after after making threats that led to the closure of school for more than half a million students on Colorado’s Front Range Wednesday.... The 18-year-old was from Florida and made some comments about the Columbine shooting on April 20, 1999, that apparently caused great concern. She was apparently 'infatuated with the perpetrators of Columbine.' Authorities haven’t said exactly what she said, and it’s not clear if those comments were made before or after her purchase of a pump-action shotgun once she arrived in Colorado on Monday night. She apparently wasn’t specifically threatening any specific school in her comments."

CBS4 Denver reports.

"In one case... prosecutors said, patients consented to having their teeth pulled so they could obtain opioid prescriptions from a dentist..."

"In a number of cases, according to the indictments, doctors across the region traded prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone for sexual favors."

From "Doctors in five states charged with prescribing pain killers for cash, sex" (WaPo).
The 60 people indicted include 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners and seven other licensed medical professionals. The charges involve more than 350,000 illegal prescriptions written in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia, according to indictments unsealed in federal court in Cincinnati.

“That is the equivalent of one opioid dose for every man, woman and child in the five states in the region that we’ve been targeting,” Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an interview. “If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers.”...
On the front page, the teaser is "Doctors in five Appalachian states charged with prescribing opioids for cash, sex," and at first I thought the "Appalachia" specificity was WaPo's distancing its readers from the deplorables, but, in fact, the stress on Appalachia comes from the Justice Department:
Benczkowski said he created the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force late last year to target the region, which has been devastated by the epidemic. The department analyzed several databases to identify suspicious prescribing activity and sent 14 prosecutors to 11 federal districts there.

“The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.

Trump is jovial this morning...

"This Notre Dame Fire turned into people bragging about their vacations to Paris very quickly."

Ha ha.


And doesn't it show how optimistic and resilient people really are? I mean, it sounds awful, and it really bothered me on the day of the fire, but it's awful in that specially, utterly human way that's so hopelessly trivial and self-involved. Hopelessly... hopefully...

5 theories on why Pete Buttigieg got so popular.

It's a crowded field of Democratic Party candidates, with notables like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris idling at around 7% and Cory Booker embarrassingly stalled at 3%. So how did Pete Buttigieg break through the pack into 3rd place already? (Only Biden and Sanders outpoll the fast-rising newcomer.)

Amber Phillips (at WaPo) has 5 theories, which I'll summarize, interwoven with my commentary.

1. He's a "novelty," Phillips says, because he "is from the Midwest, he’s a veteran who served in Afghanistan, and he unapologetically talks about his Christian faith in a way that helps voters feel like the Republican Party is not the only one with a claim to talk about faith." Phillips leaves out the 2 most obvious points of novelty: He's openly gay, and he's really really young.

2. "There are aspects of his profile that excite more liberal members of the party." Oh, here's where those other 2 points of novelty are compartmentalized: "he’s 37 and openly gay." I guess the "novelty" under #1 were the things that made him seem like a Republican — midwestern, veteran, Christian. I get it. That's why these are 2 different "theories."

3. "The Democratic Party has been without a clear leader since President Trump won. So why not look to someone outside Washington?" That is: All the other Democratic candidates are Senators. You can really stand out just by not being a Senator. Senators don't come across as leaders.

4. "Buttigieg is a candidate some Democrats could see taking on Trump successfully." But why do they see him that way? He seems to be good at talking. "'He seems pretty unflappable,' Pamela from California said in an email... 'He seems to be the type who can let it slide off and not engage.'" Okay, then, Pamela from California has the impression he's unflappable. But we've never seen Buttigieg perform under anything like the pressure Trump would put on him. We've seen him buoyed up by interviewers who want to believe he can fly.  Also under #4 is the fact that "Buttigieg is a white man." Maybe people think a woman can't stand up to Trump — "after Hillary Clinton lost to him."

5. "Voters say he’s got the intangibles... a calm personality, an ease on the biggest stage possible and a direct, eloquent way of speaking that has earned him comparisons to a young Barack Obama."

Let me restate Phillips's 5 theories:

1. Buttigieg seems like a Republican. That feels kind of safe and it just might work.

2. He's openly gay and he's really really young. That's exciting.

3. He's not a Senator. Ugh! All those Senators!

4. You can picture him using his fancy words to flummox Trump.

5. Obama! Dreams of Obama! O! BAAAA! MAAAAAA!

"Calls for 'civility' in politics are as likely to elicit ridicule as they are plaudits these days..."

Oh, yes, I've been ridiculing what I call "civility bullshit" for years.
... due in large part to their repeated deployment in the face of escalating state violence. 
What?! I'm trying to read "Why ‘Civility’ Protects Dan Crenshaw But Not Ilhan Omar" by Zak Cheney-Rice (NY Magazine), which looked like it was right up my alley but up my alley and off somewhere I wouldn't go.

What "state violence" is Cheney-Rice talking about? His next paragraph is about whether harassing former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is acceptable because the government has been "locking children in cages." He weasels a semi-generalization:
Where one falls on this spectrum in any given instance is often, but not always, a partisan calculation.
My point is that it's always bullshit. "Civility" is not your value. It's a fake value, presented as real when it serves your partisan interests and subordinated whenever it doesn't.

Cheney-Rice has something to say about the Ilhan Omar business, and it's too complicated to attempt to excerpt here. Somehow "civility" is supposed to be in play when people are simply harshly criticizing Omar for sounding insufficiently somber about 9/11. There's a very strained effort to equate vigorous criticism with the incitement of violence, so that saying Omar sounded almost as though she were laughing at 9/11 is the same as saying that Omar ought to suffer physical attacks. We're told that she gets death threats, and that seems to be offered as a reason why she should be spared verbal attacks responding to the public statements that she chooses to make. Her antagonists would be fools to stand down either because of the phony "civility" argument or because her proponents display a willingness to connect public verbal opposition to her to these unsourced death threats.

Congressman Dan Crenshaw criticized Omar, and then Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Crenshaw. Somebody else pushed Ocasio-Cortez back for incivility to Crenshaw, and Cheney-Rice says, "Bad-faith outcries about civility aimed at deflecting from Republican misdeeds are the order of the day." Yes, and what else is new? Bad-faith outcries about civility are the only kind of outcries about civility we ever get in American politics — this day or any other day, from Republicans or Democrats or anybody.

Cheney-Rice has not explained "Why ‘Civility’ Protects Dan Crenshaw But Not Ilhan Omar." Civility doesn't "protect" anyone. Civility is just a transitory condition that might make some people feel better when it's blowing in their direction, but it's nothing you can rely on, and you ought to assume it's there only because those who are blowing it think it's good for them. The prevailing winds of civility may favor Crenshaw over Omar at the moment, but civility bullshit is subject to constant change. I see that Cheney-Rice would like to force the change, and of course, he's free to bullshit about bullshit.

"Why I write fake online reviews."

"'I've learned never to rely on reviews for anything,' says Iain Taylor, from East Sussex. In his spare time and to supplement his income, the 44-year-old writes fake online reviews in exchange for money and free products. 'I have written reviews from numbing creams to eBooks to downloadable independent films,' he says. 'I think it's bad - but I think everyone's doing it,' says Mr Taylor, describing himself as 'cynical.' 'Since I started doing it I tell my family and friends not to trust reviews. If you are going to buy something you should do more research than look at a couple of five-star reviews on Amazon.' He says writers are paid to buy the product and then leave a review, meaning the review can be verified."


ADDED: A screen grab from "Copper Meditation Pyramid for Self Healing and Heart Chakra Activation" (Amazon):

(And that's not an Amazon Associates link. I am not recommending the product. I haven't tried it, and I wouldn't try it.)

"Infants should always sleep on their back, on a separate, flat and firm sleep surface without any bumpers or bedding."

Said Rachel Moon, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics's Task Force on SIDS.

Quoted in "Parents dread life ‘without a Rock n Play’: Fisher-Price recall triggers shock and frustration."
Last week’s recall of nearly 5 million Rock 'n Plays hit close to home for sleep-deprived parents who have turned to the Fisher-Price product for a moment of reprieve -- or a night’s sleep -- since it was introduced a decade ago. The cloth-covered cradle, which vibrates, plays music and positions the baby at an incline....
It's called "Rock n Play," which suggests baby and parents are all awake, but that's not how it was being used.
Original reports had said that 10 babies, all older than 3 months, had died when they rolled over while unrestrained in the cradle. But last week, a Consumer Reports investigation found that at least 32 children had died, including some younger than 3 months, who had died from asphyxia when they were unable to breathe in the cloth-covered cradle....

Jilly Blankenship, a pediatric nurse and baby sleep consultant in San Francisco.... said she has been telling parents for years that the device does not meet standards for safe sleep, but parents often turn to the Rock 'n Play as a last resort, when their babies have trouble staying asleep in a crib or bassinet.

“They’re often desperate and saying, ‘What do we do now if our baby won’t sleep anywhere else?’" she said....

“Every single parent I know uses a Rock 'n Play -- literally everybody[," said one young woman. "]It was the number one recommended item at my baby shower."
Apparently, millions of babies have been trained to fall asleep with continual vibration inside an enclosed cushiony cocoon, and suddenly they're all being required to sleep of an inert flat firm surface.

ADDED: The 3 most highly rated comments at WaPo: "Parents 'dread' being without this item. Come on. Millions of us over many, many years never had one of these. It wasn't invented/available way back when," 2. "I had three kids and never used this. I was a stickler for Safe Sleep, no exceptions. My babies didn't always sleep great, but that's how babies are...," and 3. "What will I do without a Rock n Play? Actually take care of your child, that's what you'll do."

AND: There must be a "separate, flat and firm sleep surface" that vibrates. I remember the "Magic Fingers" beds in motels in the 1960s.

ALSO: Maybe you, like me, have a Frank Zappa song playing in your head at the mention of Magic Fingers. From the Wikipedia article for John Houghtaling:
John Joseph Houghtaling (pronounced HUFF-tay-ling; November 14, 1916 – June 17, 2009) was an American entrepreneur and inventor who in 1958 invented the Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed, a common feature in mid-priced hotels and motels from the 1960s to the early 1980s....

In the 1950s, Houghtaling was still working as a salesman, this time selling vibrating beds in which the vibrating motor and bed were sold as a single unit that was clumsy, expensive, and prone to failure. At a service call for a broken unit, Houghtaling realized that the vibrating motor was the essential component, not the bed, and that a unit could be developed that would attach to any bed, not just the combination vibrating bed units he was selling.
Okay, first of all, this is the answer for the Rock n Playless parents. Just put a vibrator and put it under the baby's separate flat and firm sleep surface. Here's one designed to go under a baby's mattress. Now, back to the story of John Houghtaling:
Houghtaling worked in the basement of his Glen Rock, New Jersey, home and tested hundreds of motors before finding one that weighed relatively little, could be attached to the box springs of an existing bed, and would provide the right level of vibration. Once a quarter was inserted into the attached coin meter, the motor would vibrate the bed for 15 minutes....

By the last half of the 1970s... [t]he devices started to seem out of date and somewhat sleazy, because of the bed's association with seedy motels....

The vibrating bed was frequently featured in 1960s–1980s movies and TV shows. "Magic fingers" is a song by Frank Zappa in the film 200 Motels. It was mentioned by name in songwriter Steve Goodman's "This Hotel Room", sung by Jimmy Buffett, which included the line "Put in a quarter / Turn out the light / Magic Fingers makes you feel all right" and is also mentioned in Buck Owens's "World Famous Paradise Inn." Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five also referred to Houghtaling's Magic Fingers; the protagonist Billy Pilgrim used the vibrating bed to help him fall asleep. Magic Fingers was also seen in the 1997 film Lolita, the 1998 Clay Pigeons, and the episode of CSI Vegas "Assume Nothing" (season 4, episode 1). In the classic 1983 National Lampoon film Vacation, Clark and Ellen Griswold can be seen relaxing on a Magic Fingers bed that goes rogue, vibrating excessively and forcing them onto the floor. In the X-Files episode Bad Blood (Season 5, episode 12) Dana Scully used one in a Texas motel, before being interrupted by Mulder, telling her that she had to go perform an autopsy at that moment. She complained "but I just put money in the Magic Fingers." It has been referenced twice in The Simpsons, once as a couch gag and once in the episode "The Cartridge Family" in which Marge takes the kids to the Sleep Eazy (the neon sign is partially burned out to read "Sleazy") Hotel; Bart and Lisa turn on the Magic Fingers and race their vibrating beds across the hotel room. It was also featured several times in the TV show Supernatural. Dean is very fond of the magic fingers as seen in season 2 ep 13.
Man, that is a lot of pop culture referencing. Can any product match that?

Love the Ringo-as-Frank bit, but actually, that's not the Mothers of Invention Magic Fingers song that plays in my head. I hear "What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?":
Ever been to a Holiday Inn?
Magic Fingers in the bed (Picture it!)
Wall-mounted TV screen
Coffee Host plugged into the bathroom wall
Formica's really keen!

April 16, 2019

At the Angel's Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"If this is held to be unconstitutional, what is going to happen with whatever list of really dirty words still exist and all of their variations?"

"There's going to be a mad scramble by people to register these marks. And the ones who get there first are going to have exclusive -- they're not unlimited. What's going to -- there's going to be -- those who get there first are going to be the ones who have these."

Asked Justice Alito in yesterday's oral argument in Iancu v. Brunetti (PDF), challenging the Patent and Trademark office's rejection of the trademark "Fuct."

By the way, no one in the transcript ever says "Fuct" or "fuck" or whatever other "really dirty words" might be rolling around in Justice Alito's head. They say things like: "this mark would be perceived by a substantial segment of the public as the equivalent of the profane past participle form of a well-known word of profanity and perhaps the paradigmatic word of profanity in our language."

The lawyer for the designer that uses the trademark argued that the law violates the First Amendment: "For overbreadth, I believe it's only necessary to show that it covers a substantial amount of speech. And the provision is so incredibly overbroad, because if it's taken at its word ['offensive'] -- at its -- on its face, Steak 'n Shake can't be registered because some people believe you can't -- a substantial portion of Americans believe that eating beef is immoral. And so now that's unconstitutional...."

Here's Nina Totenberg's report on the argument: "Supreme Court Dances Around The F-Word With Real Potential Financial Consequences."

"The far left’s frustration with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on the rise, as liberal advocates and lawmakers fume that she hasn’t done enough to defend freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar..."

"... from attacks by President Trump and other Republicans and has undermined their policies and leaders, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Omar’s allies over the weekend were upset by what they viewed as Pelosi’s delayed response.... [L]iberals seethed that Pelosi (Calif.) and Democratic leaders did too little, too late. They were equally baffled by Pelosi’s quip seeming to dismiss Ocasio-Cortez during a CBS '60 Minutes' interview Sunday, suggesting her 'wing' of the party included 'like five people.'... The tensions underscore Democrats’ struggle to discern the best way to respond to Trump and the GOP’s attacks on their far-left flank, criticism frequently centered on women of color.... On Sunday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the other Muslim congresswoman, went so far as to accuse the Democratic leadership of using people of color to highlight diversity but ignoring them when it mattered — though she did not name Pelosi in the missive. 'They put us in photos when they want to show our party is diverse,' Tlaib wrote, retweeting messages claiming Democrats used women of color as 'props.' 'However, when we ask to be at the table, or speak up about issues that impact who we are, what we fight for & why we ran in the first place, we are ignored. To truly honor our diversity is to never silence us.'"

From "Liberals’ frustration with Pelosi rises over her response to Omar dispute" (WaPo).

Also in WaPo, "Bernie Sanders’s campaign escalates fight with establishment Democrats in reprise of 2016 party rifts":
“I think this time around he wanted to make sure that people understood that he wasn’t just going to be a punching bag,” said Sanders’s campaign manager, Faiz Shakir.... “He’s comfortable having the fight within the party or outside the party, in general. That’s Bernie Sanders.”...

“I think his tone in general is too Trumplike. It’s based on anger,” said Greg Hale, a longtime Democratic presidential campaign adviser who worked for Clinton in 2016. “We all need to be together and we need to have a positive message, not a negative message.”...

“Establishment Democrats have to stop holding him back,” said Linn Anderson, a graphic designer from Youngstown, Ohio, who attended a town hall Sanders participated in Sunday. Asked whether she felt there was still animosity coming from Clinton’s allies, Anderson responded, “Hell yeah.”
Over at the NYT, "‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Are Agonizing Over His Momentum":

I was going to say Old Yeller.

So Christian Yelich gave them their puppy before last night's game... then went on to hit 3 home runs.

And, for those of you who worry about treating dogs right and bringing up children correctly, the giving of the dog surprised the kids but was coordinated with the parents and the dog's breeder.

ADDED: My idea for the dog's name was influenced by the misspelling of Yelich's name that is imprinted on my brain. I hear the word "yell" and think there are 2 Ls. But the name has nothing to do with yelling: "Yelich is an Americanized spelling of the Croatian and Serbian surname, Jelić." I can't find a meaning for Jelić, but I trust it's not about yelling.

My ability to spell has always been hampered by my desire for meaning. In 8th grade, I lost a spelling bee because I wanted to see the ostrich in "ostracize." Also, double letters — they're the bane of spelling.

Anyway... I originally misspelled "Yelich" and only noticed because I looked at the photograph of the kids and thought they'd misspelled it. I've corrected my mistake.

"Isn't if funny that Dilbert's tie flips up, like Trump's?"/"It's collusion. Tie collusion."

Conversation at Meadhouse after encountering this Scott Adams tweet:

"A must read, Andy McCarthy’s column today, 'Dirty dealings of dirt devils who concocted Trump-Russia probe.' The greatest Scam in political history."

"If the Mainstream Media were honest, which they are not, this story would be bigger and more important than Watergate. Someday!"

Tweets Trump this morning.

He doesn't give a link, and googling "Dirty dealings of dirt devils who concocted Trump-Russia probe" only gets me back to Trump. It is a screwy headline. Dirt devils?!

I think the article in question — the column by McCarthy that went up last night in the NY Post — is "Behind the Obama administration’s shady plan to spy on the Trump campaign." A more dignified headline, no?!
There is no doubt that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign. As Barr made clear, the real question is: What predicated the spying? Was there a valid reason for it, strong enough to overcome our norm against political spying? Or was it done rashly? Was a politically motivated decision made to use highly intrusive investigative tactics when a more measured response would have sufficed, such as a “defensive briefing” that would have warned the Trump campaign of possible Russian infiltration?...
A defensive briefing! Yes. Why didn't the Obama administration help the Trump campaign guard against infiltration?

Much more at the link. I gave up trying to choose excerpts. Read the whole thing.

"Its construction began in the year 1163 and ended in 1345. It's time to say goodbye to your oratory polytheism."

That's the translation — from French — of the words of a "poster" that has appeared on line. It was — if we are to believe the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium — put up by Al-Muntasir, which is, we're told, affiliated with ISIS. Reported in The Daily Mail, with this image:

The non-French writing at the bottom says, we're told, "Have a good day."

I note:

1. It is not claiming credit for the destruction, so that it makes me more likely to believe what the initial reports on the fire speculated: It was an accident, perhaps related to the restoration project.

2. Though The Daily Mail says "the jihadists celebrated," the poster does not have to be read as a celebration. It doesn't say we're glad the cathedral burned. There are no images of jihadists dancing in the street or on rooftops.

3. The text doesn't say the fire was a good thing, only that its burning provides an occasion to reflect on the modern-day practice of adhering to a very old form of religion. A building from the middle ages went up in flames. It hasn't survived in the modern world. You should see that your religion is also a medieval construction. We're in modern times now. Let go of what doesn't fit anymore.

4. Let go of the medieval form of a great religion is something that non-Muslims say to Muslims all the time. If it's bad to say that, then don't say that. But maybe it's only bad to say it at the very time of the destruction of a great old monument or only when you are associated with people who themselves engage in the destruction of monuments.

5. But the poster implies that old things pass away, but it doesn't say old monuments should be destroyed, and it doesn't say put all old religion in the category of things it's time to say goodbye to. It singles out one sort of religion: "oratory polytheism." Presumably, that refers — critically — to Catholicism.

6. Google tells me that the phrase "oratory polytheism" has only been used on line in connection with this poster. The French is "oratoirepolythéiste." The Google translate device offers nothing for the single word and suggests adding a space. It translates "oratoire polythéiste" as "polytheistic oratory," which is easier to make sense of than "oratory polytheism." I understand the objection to polytheism and the way it is used to describe Catholicism (or all Christianity). It's harder to understand the problem with "oratory."

7. Perhaps "oratoire," the French word, relates to the meaning of the English word "oratory" that is — from the OED — "A place of prayer; a room or building for private worship, esp., in the Christian Church, a small chapel or shrine in or attached to a house, monastery, church." In this light, the translation shouldn't be "It's time to say goodbye to your oratory polytheism," but "It's time to say goodbye to your polytheistic chapel."

8. The Daily Mail doesn't take note of the hashtag in the upper left corner of the postcard: #Bonne Journée. That does mean "Have a good day," so now I'm not sure that the writing at the bottom of the poster translates to "Have a good day." I presume that is Arabic. Can anyone translate?

"[A] first fire alarm was triggered at 6:20 p.m. Monday, but that no fire was found after checks were carried out... A second alarm was triggered at 6:43 p.m...."

"... and a fire was found under the roof in a network of wooden beams, many dating from the Middle Ages, that is nicknamed 'the forest.' [Rémy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor] said that investigators were working off the hypothesis that the fire was an accident."

The NYT reports. Also: "The cathedral’s rector, Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, told the radio station France Inter that the cathedral had fire monitors who checked the wooden framework under the roof three times a day."

I'd like to know more about what happened between 6:20 p.m. and 6:43. Is there some kind of slow, undetectable burning that could take place in "the forest" and become so well established that, at the point at which it could be found, it would be unstoppable? If there is such a thing, did the fire experts know it and necessarily accept it?

April 15, 2019

North rose window.

From "Stained glass — rose windows" (Wikipedia).

Notre Dame on fire.

ADDED: BBC: "The cause is not yet clear, but officials say that it could be linked to renovation work.... Last year, the Catholic Church in France appealed for funds to save the building, which was crumbling. A spokesman for the cathedral said the whole structure was 'burning.' 'There will be nothing left,' he said."

France’s civil security agency says “all means” except for water-dropping aircraft were deployed to tackle the blaze. The defense agency said those were unsuitable for fires like the one at Notre Dame because dumping water on the building could cause the whole structure to collapse....
Earlier Trump had tweeted, "Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out," so that answers that.
A Notre Dame spokesman said earlier that the church’s entire wooden interior was in flames....

On Thursday, 16 religious statues were removed from the peak for the first time in over a century to be taken for cleaning and therefore escaped the blaze.

The new Emerson poll has Bernie ahead of Biden and Buttigieg in third.

Details here.
Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson Polling, said “while still early in the nominating process, it looks like Mayor Pete is the candidate capturing voters’ imagination; the numbers had him at 0% in mid-February, 3% in March and now at 9% in April.”

Kimball also noted that “Biden has seen his support drop. In February, he led Sanders 27% to 17%, and in March the two were tied at 26%. Now, Sanders has a 5 point lead, 29% to 24%.”
Also, on the issues: "47% of voters support building a wall on the US-Mexico Border, 45% oppose, 8% are undecided."

On this no-news-is-good-news day, the NYT front-pages the idea of taking refuge from climate change by moving to Duluth.

The article is "Want to Escape Global Warming? These Cities Promise Cool Relief."

This is highly amusing to me, because I moved to Madison, Wisconsin 35 years ago, and at the time I was under the influence of the belief that within the next 10 or so years global warming was going to make the southern United States unbearable. I thought I was getting the jump on the climate refugees and I would not have to move again. Well, I never did move, it's 35 years later, and the notion of moving north to escape global warming is still just something you can do to get the jump on everybody else.

"What do I know about branding, maybe nothing (but I did become President!)... But again, what the hell do I know?"

I'm giving this my "modesty" tag even though it's jocular modesty. I think the rhetorical use of modesty is interesting coming from Trump, whose antagonists love to present as relentlessly, narcissistically bragging. It's still bragging, of course, but the bragging is lighthearted (perhaps too lighthearted, considering that hundreds of people died in the Boeing 737 crashes).

"Democrats Are Falling Into the Ilhan Omar Trap/By rushing to stand with the controversial congresswoman, the 2020 contenders are allowing Trump to transform her into the face of their party."

Writes David Frum in The Atlantic.
Against Omar’s propensity to provoke, the Democratic Party seems institutionally almost defenseless. Pelosi was thwarted when she attempted to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitic expressions by House members....

After Trump’s tweeted attack, Omar will become even more internally uncriticizable and unmanageable, without becoming any more careful or responsible. Indeed, the speech by Omar that provided Trump with the sound bite he exploited—“some people did something”—itself exemplifies her carelessness and irresponsibility....
ADDED: The video Trump passed along was extremely effective because of the repeated the line "some people did something," abruptly cut off at "something." I had not been troubled by the original clip, because I understood it in context. But with the focus on "something," I heard an upward lilt that felt like laughing. And then the look on her face seemed like a smile. That semblance of laughing, in sequence with 9/11 images, had a very powerful effect. It is what ads do. There's no lying, just an effect created by editing. And the more people complain about it and say it's not fair, the more viral the ad becomes.

"[C]redulous historians have championed Jefferson and Jackson as the creators of 'our mythic democracy' — in reality..."

"...  a sham democracy driven by personal ambition, partisan corruption, and shameless pandering that disguised the powerful interests truly in charge [according to Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein, in 'The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality']. The Adamses had the nerve to point out the chicanery of this racket, and for that, the authors argue, historians have dismissed them as out-of-touch, misanthropic stuffed shirts. Isenberg and Burstein want to recover and vindicate what they describe as a lost 'Adamsian' vision of a more elevated, virtuous, balanced, nonpartisan polity, so unlike the system that defeated them, the all-too-familiar forerunner of our own. By the Adamses’ standards, Trump is not an aberration. He is an exemplar of everything in our politics that they resisted in vain, especially the fraudulent party democracy that substitutes tribal loyalties and celebrity worship for informed debate. But this view of the past and the present is flawed, historically as well as politically. The Adamses were chiefly the victims not of undeserving charlatans but of their own political ineptitude. And the crisis that has given us Donald Trump has arisen not from the excesses of a party politics the Adamses despised, but from the deterioration of the parties over recent decades.... Trump is not a creature of the party politics pioneered by Jefferson and Jackson. He is its antithesis, a would-be strongman who captured the presidency by demonizing party politics as a sham. He will be stopped only if the Democrats can mount a reinvigorated, disciplined party opposition. In that struggle, the Adamsian tradition is at best useless and at worst a harmful distraction."

Writes Sean Wilentz in "The Problem With High-Minded Politics/John Adams and John Quincy Adams’s virtuous disdain for partisanship was at the root of their failures" (The Atlantic).

"There's no news. Have you noticed that?... There's no news. How much better a President can you be than to make the news go away?"

"This is something no President has ever done before.... Name another President who's so good, he made the news go away."

I listened to that yesterday, and I'm remembering it this morning and choosing to post it because I'm looking for news to blog and I can't find anything.

ADDED: I am still looking. I was picking over stories and the closest I got were: 1. Somewhere they're teaching cursive writing again, 2. Some people don't watch "Game of Thrones" (and can be called "Never Throners"), 3. Bibi Andersson died, 4. Some people aren't good at riding electric bikes, and 5. Criticizing Ilhan Omar might endanger her.

April 14, 2019

At the Sunday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

The whiteness.

"Love people who are great under pressure. What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy!"

Maybe it's a symptom of Trump derangement, but I can't help hearing him talking about himself:

"A Florida man was killed on Friday by what ornithologists say is the 'world’s most dangerous bird'" — the cassowary.

"The man, who police identified as Marvin Hajos, 75, owned the farm where the cassowary was located and the incident took place... Hajos fell, they said, and the bird had attacked him.... A woman who identified herself as Hajos’ fiance told the Gainsville Sun 'he was doing what he loved.'... Cassawaries look like a high-fashion dinosaur; thick black feathers cover their bodies, from which a cobalt blue and vibrant red neck erupts, leading to a head adorned with a keratin 'casque,' or crest. What makes them dangerous however, are their feet. Three toes sport pointed nails, the most dangerous of which is the middle, which ends in a veritable dagger several inches long.... But cassowaries...  tend to be reclusive... In the wild, they hide deep in the rain forests, but will occasionally encounter humans when they come across a road or neighborhood....  'At no time, ever, do we ever go in with the cassowary,' [said said Eric Slovak, assistant curator of birds at the National Zoo in Washington, 'Not because they’re mean, but because we know how dangerous they could be if they got spooked for any reason.... I would not understand why anyone would want to keep a cassowary as a pet.'"

From "A man kept one of the ‘world’s most dangerous’ birds on his farm. Then it killed him" (WaPo).

ADDED: There's that phrase again — he died "doing what he loved." I've written about that many times over the years. Perhaps the first time was June 4, 2006 — "The artist drops dead at his drawing table":
Dying at the drawing table -- how often does that happen? Many times, when someone has died, I have heard the claim made that the person died doing what he loved, and it usually seems to be a sad search for something positive to say. But here was [Alex] Toth, 77 years old and in failing health, still immersed in his life's work.... If I drop dead next to my laptop, be sure to link to this post and say you know what.

"People are screaming that the American flag on a police car is somehow or another ... hurting people’s feelings who might be immigrants or visitors."

Said Councilman Peter Blake, quoted in "Putting American flags on police cars sparks backlash in Laguna Beach" (LA Times).
“We have such an amazing community of artists here, and I thought the aesthetic didn’t really represent our community,” [artist Carrie] Woodburn said. “It feels very aggressive.”

Attorney Jennifer Welsh Zeiter said at the last council meeting that she found the police cars “exceptional” and questioned the loyalty of anyone who objected to the American flag display. “They are so filled with hatred toward this ... office of the president of the United States and the current occupant of that office, that they cannot see through their current biases to realize that a police vehicle with the American flag is the ultimate American expression,” she said.
The best criticism is that when people see the cars, they may think federal agents, which is not what they are.

"In Rebuke to Trump, Yo-Yo Ma Plays Bach at US-Mexico Border."

Reads the headline at Inside Hook.
“As you all know, as you did and do and will do, in culture, we build bridges, not walls,” Ma said, taking a verbal jab at President Trump’s attempts at building massive walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. After his performance, the artist, referring to the bridge that connects the two cities, said:. “I’ve lived my life at the borders. Between cultures. Between disciplines. Between musics. Between generations.”

I learned a new word yesterday: "rodomontade."

It means: "A vainglorious brag or boast; an extravagantly boastful, arrogant, or bombastic speech or piece of writing... Extravagant boasting or bragging; bravado; boastful or bombastic language" (OED).

The word is based on the name Rodomonte — "a character in the Italian romantic epic poems Orlando innamorato by Matteo Maria Boiardo and Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto" (Wikipedia).

Gustave Doré illustrates the character:

It's a useful word — "rodomontade" — don't you think? It's also spelled "rhodomontade," which is how I saw it, in the wonderful book I just started reading, "I Am a Cat" by Natsume Soseki:
[Asked “How many rats have you caught so far?”] I answered “Actually, though I’m always thinking of catching one, I’ve never yet caught any.”

Blacky laughed immoderately, quivering the long whiskers, which stuck out stiffly round his muzzle. Blacky, like all true braggarts, is somewhat weak in the head. As long as you purr and listen attentively, pretending to be impressed by his rhodomontade, he is a more or less manageable cat.
I had "I Am a Cat" in my Kindle ready to read when I finished "Kafka on the Shore," in which the main character reads and talks about Soseki (and in which there are a lot of talking cats)

According to Wikipedia, Soseki (1867-1916) is "becoming trendy" because he is Murakami's favorite author.

"The Lost Cause... Because the lost cause will always be a cause worth supporting."

That was a Nike slogan... for about 6 hours.

Quoted in "How historians got Nike to pull an ad campaign — in under six hours" (WaPo).
“In an environment where confederate monuments are so visible in the news,” Jenna Magnuski tweeted, “ . . . how?!” “What appallingly tone-deaf, historically ignorant slogan will @NikeTrail choose next?” Jeremy Neely asked. “The Trail of Tears?”

Historians were not the only ones protesting. Sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann replied with hashtags: “#ShouldaGoogledIt #FireEverybody.”...
Even though Googling would have avoided the stupid gaffe, the Wapo column (by Megan Kate Nelson), uses this as an occasion to bolster the fading academic departments: "business majors need to take humanities classes and... corporations need to hire humanities majors."
Included in their skill sets are the ability to do comprehensive research and to provide historical context and analysis on the language companies might want to use to sell their products. While an advertising degree might equip someone to know if marketing language might lure in potential consumers, it does not offer the historical training to catch this sort of mistake before it is made.
Would you trust a history major to protect your company from gaffes like this? Would you pay a history major a salary to do that job? It seems much more efficient just to tell everyone that there are endless things that might be important that you don't know, so google any slogan. You should google not just to see if there's anything in history but to check whether anyone else has used it in any context that makes it unwise. It could be someone else's slogan. I could be a song lyric or a book title. Just google it! So easy. Sorry, historians, this expertise that activated you over "The Lost Cause" isn't a reason to put you or your students on the staff of "corporations." That's a... futile enterprise.

ADDED: Someone managed to grab the ad and was kind enough to send it to me. The idea is getting lost...

"[Hans Christian] Andersen's manuscript was at the printer's when he was suddenly inspired to change the original climax of the tale from the emperor's subjects admiring his invisible clothes to that of the child's cry."

"There are many unconfirmed theories about why he made this change. Most scholars agree that from his earliest years in Copenhagen, Andersen presented himself to the Danish bourgeoisie as the naïvely precocious child not usually admitted to the adult salon. 'The Emperor's New Clothes' became his exposé of the hypocrisy and snobbery he found there when he finally gained admission. Andersen's decision to change the ending may have occurred after he read the manuscript tale to a child, or its inspiration may have been one of Andersen's own childhood incidents which was similar to that in the tale: he once recalled standing in a crowd with his mother, waiting to see King Frederick VI, and when the king made his appearance, Andersen cried out, 'Oh, he's nothing more than a human being!' His mother then tried to silence him saying, 'Have you gone mad, child?' Whatever the reason, Andersen thought the change would prove more satirical."

From "The Emperor's New Clothes" (Wikipedia), which I'm reading about because it came up in a conversation about the previous post, which discusses public exposure and embarrassment.

Here's that "nothing more than a human being" Frederick VI:

"Income taxation in the United States began in public view. When Congress imposed the first income tax in 1861, during the Civil War..."

"... it required the disclosure of names, incomes and tax payments. Over the following decade, before Congress ended the tax, this data was posted in public and printed in newspapers. That practice was briefly revived in 1924. It’s time for another revival. The question is whether Americans are willing to endure a little sunlight in the interest of fairness and equality."

Writes Binyamin Appelbaum, a member of the NYT editorial board, in "Everyone’s Income Taxes Should Be Public/Disclosure of tax payments would make it easier to hold politicians accountable. It also would help to reduce fraud and economic inequality."

What about privacy?!
Calling for more disclosure may seem discordant at a time of growing concern about privacy. But income taxation is an act of government, not an aspect of private life.
So there you see. By taxing us, the government has taken away not just our money but our privacy.

The top-rated comment over there is:
I don’t want my tax return made public. I don’t want my kids, friends, clients, enemies, fraudsters seeing my business. Make politicians release. I’m not running for anything.
It seems weird that the Times would, while doing a whole series lambasting the decline of privacy, publish an op-ed calling for an end to privacy of tax returns.
What I make is none of my neighbor's business. Envy is the main driving force of unhappiness in our species and there's no better way to amplify it than to let neighbors know exactly where they stand in their neighborhood hierarchy of financial success....
Appelbaum seems to have no awareness that millions of Americans are embarrassed by how little money they make. Or may he thinks embarrassment is a small price to pay for creating pressure to equalize incomes.  Let's crank up the shame and the envy.

Because... Trump.

"That is so objectionable. That is so offensive. And- and- and this is what I mean about moral vandalism in our country that's going on..."

"... from the highest offices stoking hatred, stoking fears, pitting people against each other," said Cory Booker — quoted in "Presidential candidate Cory Booker calls Trump's 9/11 tweet 'vicious, crass, disgusting'" ("Face the Nation").

Here's the Donald Trump tweet in question:

"This is 'The View.' We are 5 best friends with nothing in common."

Says "Whoopi Goldberg"/Leslie Jones in an "SNL" spoof of "The View." The impersonations are pretty good, especially Jones and Kate McKinnon as Joy Behar. They're talking about the border crisis:

I also enjoyed Aidy Bryant as Meghan McCain: “Can I just say something? As the princess of Arizona, there is a crisis at the border, and the border is right up in my Arizona, which was founded on sunburned women selling turquoise jewelry, not rando Mexicans. And that’s not racist, because my makeup artist is gay."

Here's the actual "View" incident that "SNL" is spoofing (I'd skip you to 2:30 to get to the good part but then you'd miss how long McCain talked before Behar got her chance):

Side note: Ana Navarro isn't in the real view clip, but she's in the "SNL" skit, where her annoyingness is well depicted.