May 25, 2019

At the White Dot Café...


... write something.

"Our spreadsheets hammered home that what contributed most to our happiness was time spent together or with friends — while, crucially, not working — and there was no way to get more of that..."

"... if we continued to live in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive parts of the country. So I proposed an idea that would have seemed radical were there not so much data backing it: 'I think you should quit your job, we should sell our house, and we should move somewhere cheaper,' I told my husband matter-of-factly one day. So we did.... In addition to leading to a better understanding of what made us happy as a family, I also found the spreadsheet to be an incredibly useful tool for expressing things I might have otherwise avoided. It made the invisible visible. Instead of arguing about housework, for example, both feeling like we were doing more than our fair share, we could talk about it relatively objectively.... Far from making our marriage seem cold and robotic, the spreadsheet sparked more honest conversations than we’d had in years. It also reminded us that we had more control over our lives than we had been exerting...."

From "The Surprising Benefits of Relentlessly Auditing Your Life/We tend to think that good marriages and happy families are born of love and care, not spreadsheets. But what if that’s wrong?" by Amy Westervelt (NYT).

"As some time has passed I've realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then It Fell Apart are very valid."

"I also fully recognize that it was truly inconsiderate of me to not let her know about her inclusion in the book beforehand, and equally inconsiderate for me to not fully respect her reaction. I have a lot of admiration for Natalie, for her intelligence, creativity, and animal rights activism, and I hate that I might have caused her and her family distress. I tried to treat everyone I included in Then It Fell Apart with dignity and respect, but nonetheless it was truly inconsiderate for me to not let them know before the book was released. So for that I apologize, to Natalie, as well as the other people I wrote about in Then It Fell Apart without telling them beforehand. Also I accept that given the dynamic of our almost 14 year age difference I absolutely should've acted more responsibly and respectfully when Natalie and I first met almost 20 years ago."

Instagrams Moby.

It's a real apology, I think, but within a particular scope. He's saying three specific things: 1. He should have informed her that the writing was going to come out (not that he would have given her veto power or would have changed any of what he wrote, such as the fact she seems to dispute, that they "dated"), 2. He should have been more respectful of her feelings about what he wrote (not that he shouldn't have written what he did that caused these feelings), and 3. He should have been more respectful and responsible when they actually had that relationship (though he doesn't say exactly what he would have done differently and certainly doesn't concede that he was wrong to pursue a relationship with her).

There are 2 earlier posts on this celebrity psychodrama, so if you don't know what this post is about, click on the "Moby" tag and bone up before commenting that you don't understand. And please don't comment about not liking to talk about Moby/Natalie. Just go cheerfully on your way. Or grumpily.

"Graysexuality is fascinating because we get to watch the process of a new orientation being constructed in real time."

Writes Ozymandias at Thing of Things:
Graysexuality is fascinating because we get to watch the process of a new orientation being constructed in real time.
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network defines graysexuality as the following:

Sexuality is not black and white; some people identify in the gray (spelled “grey” in some countries) area between asexual and sexual. People who identify as gray-A can include, but are not limited to those who:
  • do not normally experience sexual attraction, but do experience it sometimes
  • experience sexual attraction, but a low sex drive
  • experience sexual attraction and drive, but not strongly enough to want to act on them
  • people who can enjoy and desire sex, but only under very limited and specific circumstances
Graysexuality can be a very broad term, and it’s easy to misinterpret what people mean about it from a definition. Here are some examples of graysexual experiences people I’ve talked to have had:

That video that made Nancy Pelosi's speech seem worse than usual is — according to Hillary Clinton — "sexist trash."

USA Today reports.

Clinton was talking about Trump's tweeting this (and she said this shows that "Trump is running scared):

First, I'm tired — and was tired long ago — of the Hillary Clinton theory that every attack on a woman is "sexist." Women in high positions need to be attackable or I don't want them in high positions. So that theory will perversely push me into the sexist position that women should not hold high positions.

Second, the video Trump tweeted is not the video of Pelosi that was determined to have been "doctored."

Here's the WaPo article about that other video, "Faked Pelosi videos, slowed to make her appear drunk, spread across social media." There is something bad about Pelosi's real speech and slowing it down makes the badness quite obvious, but that doesn't mean there's something wrong with showing any video that focuses us on the badness, and it's certainly not sexist to mock a politician's bad speech. Of course, Trump's speech is mocked all the time. One of the points in favor of having Trump as the President is that we feel so free to mock him. To vote for someone deemed unmockable would sacrifice a highly valuable freedom — the freedom to mock the President.

USA Today bolsters its presentation of Clinton's opinion with: "Clinton was the victim of fake videos during the 2016 election, which were designed to make her seem sick while campaigning." That's one hell of a victim card. And what was the fake video? I remember this video:

And there were videos of her coughing a lot. USA Today has no link on its assertion about fake videos. We need to worry about whether there's fake news about fake news. But that's okay. Be suspicious. If there's one thing that triggers my skepticism, it's the idea that Hillary Clinton has special "victim" status making her political rhetoric especially credible.

ADDED: Here's an example of focus on Trump speaking badly:

Eyewitness testimony versus circumstantial evidence.

ADDED: A crease can ruin your dream of the Presidency, but don't forget that a crease can lift your dream. Remember?
I remember distinctly an image of — we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.

"What the researchers found is that among social liberals... reading a text about white privilege did nothing to significantly increase their sympathy toward the plight of poor blacks."

"But... 'it did significantly bump down their sympathy for a [hypothetical] poor white person.' (Among conservative participants, there was observed no significant change in attitudes at all.) What accounts for this? One possibility is that social liberals are internalizing white-privilege lessons in a way that flattens the image of whites, portraying all of them as inherently privileged. So if a white person is poor, it must be his or her own fault. After all, they’ve had all sorts of advantages in life that others haven’t."

From "What Does Teaching ‘White Privilege’ Actually Accomplish? Not What You Might Think (Or Hope)" by Zaid Jilani (Quillette).

What if "white privilege" is a sign for the empathy off-ramp?

"I know a guy — he collects unemployment even though he’s employed — who just had his teeth veneered bright white, with ceramic laminates."

"I ran into him recently, and he dropped to his knees to coo over how my puppy has grown. As he went to kiss her freckled nose, he flashed his crocodile smile. That same week, I heard from another guy — last I knew, he was a real mess, drove his marriage off a cliff, with his kids in the back seat — letting me know he’s now a life coach and focus counselor. He wants to help me live my best life and was offering me a 20 percent discount."

I just think it's funny that those are the first 5 sentences of an article about artichokes — "Don’t Fear the Artichoke. Cook It Whole."

Vegetables have gotten so meaningful lately. There was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez politicizing cauliflower and yearning for "yucca" (presumably yuca).

By the way, for a meaningful dose of artichokes, you might want to see the revival of the Sam Shepard play "Curse of the Starving Class," which is off Broadway until June 2. They throw a lot of artichokes around in that play. I literally got hit by artichokes, sitting in the front row in 1978. I can't remember what the artichokes meant, but they were important. I remember getting hit and I remember the line "So that's what artichokes smell like" but I don't remember what they were supposed to mean, though of course they had to mean something, since everything in a play means something.

The artichoke is the most fearsome vegetable. All those points, and if one sticks you, it might still hurt the next day, as if those stickers are venomous.

I was going to punch up this post with other vegetables in pop culture (other than those artichokes in "Starving Class"), but it was hard to Google. I thought I had something in "Eating Your Cultural Vegetables," a 2011 NYT article, but it's about watching movies and TV shows that are supposed to be good for you (i.e., metaphorical vegetables).
In college, a friend demanded to know what kind of idiot I was that I hadn’t yet watched Tarkovsky’s “Solaris.” “It’s so boring,” he said with evident awe. “You have to watch it, but you won’t get it.”...

A friend messages me: “Oh, you have to see ‘Mildred Pierce,’ ” and she’s right: I do have to.... But that doesn’t mean that, as Kate Winslet bakes yet another pie, I won’t sometimes wonder if those five hours might be more profitably spent aspiring in a different direction: exercising, maybe, or reading a book or just watching 10 episodes of the hilarious (and not at all contemplative) cartoon “Bob’s Burgers.”...
Yes, why watch something long if you prefer reading or exercising, both of which are at least as good for you as some aspirational film or TV series? Lately, the only TV I watch is "Jeopardy!" Do you think James Holzhauer has had his teeth veneered with bright white ceramic laminates?

May 24, 2019

At the Mendota Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Liberals bully people who are Trump supporters!" — says Kanye West (in an interview with David Letterman).

The Daily Beast reports.
In the midst of a somewhat confusing argument about his “fear” as a man during the #MeToo movement, Kanye says, “This is like my thing with Trump—we don’t have to feel the same way, but we have the right to feel what we feel.” When he wears his “Make America Great Again” hat, he says it’s “not about politics” but rather an attempt to break the stigma around showing support for Trump....

“So if I see a person that I admire talking about Donald Trump can think whatever he does,” [Letterman] says, “I wonder if those thoughts, indirectly, aren’t hurting people who are already being hurt.”...
[Kanye] expresses sympathy for Trump voters who are “treated like enemies of America because that’s what they felt.”...

“Have you ever been beat up in your high school for wearing the wrong hat?” [says Kanye]. Asked who is doing the bulk of the bullying in America right now, he replies, “Liberals bully people who are Trump supporters!”
I found that story because I could see something people were googling today was sending traffic to an old post of mine ("We can infer that Kanye West, Russell Simmons, and Sean Combs declined to talk to the NYT about Donald Trump" (August 2017)).

ADDED: Speaking of old articles about Trump and rappers, I'm reading the July 2015 New Yorker article "Donald Trump Is a Rapper" (by Jelani Cobb):
Donald Trump was gifted with a surname that already sounds like a rapper’s nom de microphone.... Trump’s combativeness and overt egomania... is precisely the behavior we expect—nay, demand—from hip-hop artists....

Hip-hop has been a leading force in what might be called the un-ironic American self-homage.... [Trump's] enduring presence as a figure of public interest is directly tied to the way he offers an aspirational identity that appeals, in particular, to working-class men....

None of this will get him elected.... [M]ostly Trump is simply played out. Preening egotism has a limited shelf life, even for rappers. This is his fraction of a moment of possibility in a campaign that, like a new single buoyed by hype and shock value, grabs the public when it’s released, then falls completely off the charts.

Facebook has a heart... a blackish-green, mystifyingly obscure heart.

Here's the graphic at the top of my Facebook feed this morning:

"Groups"... what are they? If I'm not in "groups," is my Facebook presence heartless?

Should I be doing something with birds?

Should I identify with the adult woman in the graphic, the bulky, mittened figure in blue whose upper body and head seem to be merged with a crow?

Should I be throwing the symbol for radioactivity  at an aggressive goose or swan?

What is wanted of me?

Is a large overalled man with a parrot and a cockatoo coming for me?

I cannot understand.

The Guardian changed a headline about "beta-male misogyny" to "nice-guy misogyny."

An hour ago, I wrote a blog post about "Moby's treatment of Natalie Portman is a masterclass in beta-male misogyny." The headline now reads, "Moby's treatment of Natalie Portman is a masterclass in nice-guy misogyny":
In the comments to my post, Fernandistein says:
masterclass in beta-male misogyny

Now it says "masterclass in nice-guy misogyny".

Maybe someone got their tropes about memes mixed up.
Yeah, I wonder what happened. Did someone decide "beta-male" is not politically correct? Beta males are in the down position, but who knew a feminist attack had to be reined in and couldn't disparage a man's masculinity with that particular pejorative? Did "beta male" become taboo just this morning?

I'd like to read the memo on that new rule! I'm thinking right wingers insult men that way, so left wingers need to refrain. Or maybe it's a little too close to homophobia. Whatever... I don't think "nice-guy" can just be swapped in. I don't think Moby presents himself as nice.

I know a lot of men complain that women don't value the "nice guy," and that's a topic for feminist analysis, but I doubt it's what the author of the re-headlined piece thought she was talking about. "Beta male" has been expunged from the article. (Still in the URL though.)

"That was how Theresa May’s premiership ended this week, wrecked by her blindness and secretive obstinacy, in loneliness, desertion and despair."

"That" = another damned "Game of Thrones" reference.

I'm reading "Theresa May Meets Her Lonely End/It would be understandable to feel sympathy for anyone so isolated and vilified. I don’t" by Jenni Russell in the NYT. Pretty melodramatic, no? We're in decline, I'm coming to think, and you see it in the need for TV-show-style narrative. I would prefer for our politics to be boring, but we've become addicted to politics as entertainment, and I don't think we'll find a way out. Writing that, I see that I'm being melodramatic... meta melodramatic. So far gone!

Things that made me say "Oh, no!" out loud while sitting alone.

I'm seeing this because I was starting to read "Moby's treatment of Natalie Portman is a masterclass in beta-male misogyny/While the musician might not spout misogynistic lyrics, he’s no feminist" by Arwa Mahdawi in The Guardian, where you see a cropped version of the picture (cropped above the nipples). I wanted to form my own opinion and get the code to embed the Instagram, and I clicked through and saw the full chestal expanse. Oh, my! What to think? The man is not attractive, but he's not totally horrible, but he's grimacing as if to try to look as horrible as possible, while she's just as pretty as a girl can be.

What's going on? Why doesn't she look uneasy? She's an actress — Who knows what she's thinking? Maybe she's only thinking of looking good in a photograph — which is what I think most people try to do when they know they're being photographed. What's he thinking? Something other than what I think most people think. Maybe I'm a beast — this is Beauty and the Beast — so go full beast, that's my only hope at some version of dignity.

I've already written about the Moby-and-Natalie tiff — here, with excerpts from his book — so please go there if you want to know what I think about it. This post is just about my reaction to Moby's Instagram and to The Guardian's effort at doing feminism about it. Reading the Guardian article, I see he's got a second Instagram, just fretting about his reputation now that Portman is turning people against him. He writes:

NYT crossword spoiler alert... "This??? This is your Queen Victoria's 200th birthday tribute puzzle? Just ... her name?"

"Look, do a damn tribute or don't do a tribute, but this half-assed half-themed junk has got to go. I kept looking around for Victorian material. Kept thinking there was some theme building that I just couldn't see.... 'Grandmother of Europe,' ugh, why are we 'honoring' her? Was the idea ... what was the idea? Just put her name in the middle and then build a very old-fashioned, very old, kinda mediocre themeless around her? LINDY in a LANDAU, that's what this thing was. For the NONCE. It's painfully hoary, and could not have been more off my wavelength if it tried.... Who the hell is Manchester, the WRITER (24D: London or Manchester). That clue killed me, and kept me from accessing the NE in a way that had me wondering if I was even going to finish. Satan is The DEUCE!?!? LOL, when? Who? Woof."

Rex Parker rages against the Queen Victoria 200th birthday puzzle.

How should the 200th birthday of Queen Victoria be commemorated? I check Google...

What do you think — her nude side or weird facts?

Here's the image at The Guardian:

It's a painting Victoria gave her husband on his 33rd birthday. But it's her 200th birthday. Isn't there something better than musing about whether "Victorian" should mean "prudish" if she wasn't all that prudish or was she?

"Racial prejudice has declined as a reaction to Trump’s presidency, a new study suggests."

WaPo reports.
Racial prejudice has not increased among white Americans since the explosive 2016 election, argues political scientist Daniel J. Hopkins. It has actually decreased by some measures, he found, possibly as a reaction to Trump’s unexpected ascension to the White House....

“[I]t’s quite conceivable that Trump has simultaneously galvanized a small number of highly prejudiced white Americans while also pushing millions more to affirm that they are not as prejudiced,” he argued. In other words, Hopkins believes the study provides evidence that the racially incendiary rhetoric and policies issuing from Trump’s White House have pushed the majority of Americans in the opposite direction.
It's also possible that the attacks on Trump have made people more aware of racism and more eager to avoid it. That is, it's not so much that Trump really has that much in the way of "racially incendiary rhetoric and policies," but that he has very powerful and vocal antagonists and they portray whatever they can as racially incendiary. They are showing us how to be highly sensitive to anything even close to racism and giving us the motivation to be sure to avoid it (lest we attract the kind of hatred Trump gets).

Maybe concentrate on winning the game...

Here's something that went out in the Milwaukee Bucks' Twitter feed last night (as they were losing the third game in a row in the Eastern Conference finals):

Even if they'd won, what kind of example is this? Beer chugging? And it's touted in the Wisconsin State Journal, under the headline "Brew Crew: Watch as Christian Yelich refuses to be upstaged by Aaron Rodgers, David Bakhtiari in beer chugging contest." ESPN has "Brew-haha: Yelich, Rodgers chug at Bucks game."

Now, it's time to feel empathy for Naomi Wolf...

What a travesty to put Harriet Tubman in the center of this cheap, phony politics!

"With an election on the horizon the current administration can't afford to alienate America's bigots" — says the most-liked comment on the Washington Post editorial, "Mnuchin’s excuse for delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill is insulting."

The "insulting" excuse is that more time is needed to deal with "counterfeiting issues."

Obama's Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, announced the decision to put Tubman on the 20 in April 2016, when it was too late for him to make it happen, but he had reason to think he'd boxed the next administration in. He said: "I don’t think somebody’s going to probably want to do that — to take the image of Harriet Tubman off of our money?"

The WaPo editors rub in the politics: "No one can blame [Lew] for a failure to imagine that any future administration would be so petty and narrow-minded as to go out of its way to thumb its nose at women, minorities and history."

This is such cheap race-and-gender politics — the choice to put Tubman on the 20, Lew's single-handed showiness, the faux outrage that Mnuchin isn't hopping to completing an assignment that was crafted to make it a political requirement, the gleeful appropriation of the genuine reverence for Tubman.

I had to look back to see how I reacted to Lew's original announcement. Here, in April 2016, I contemplated "The argument that Harriet Tubman wouldn't want to be on the $20 and that it disrespects her and appropriates her to use her that way"— an argument that began on the left:

May 23, 2019

At the Get-There-Before-the-Blogs-Do Café...

... it's not too late.

"'Trump is the Devil,' says chain-wielding man before cop fatally shoots him."

Video at the NY Post. I've watched it, and it's astounding how long the cop walks backward, warning the man that he will get shot. The shooting has (rightly) been ruled self defense.

You might have to stare a while, but when the snow leopard pops into view, it's completely clear and so striking!

View this post on Instagram

Art of camouflage...

A post shared by Photographs by Saurabh Desai (@visual_poetries) on

"For the last 22 years, The Verve haven't made a penny from Bitter Sweet Symphony, after forfeiting the royalties to The Rolling Stones."

"The song was embroiled in a legal battle shortly after its release, after The Verve sampled an orchestral version of The Stones' song The Last Time. As a result, writer Richard Ashcroft had to sign over his rights to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards - until now. Speaking as he received a lifetime achievement prize at the Ivor Novello Awards, Ashcroft announced: 'As of last month, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over all their publishing for Bitter Sweet Symphony, which was a truly kind and magnanimous thing for them to do.' Ashcroft acknowledged that it was the Rolling Stones' late manager, Allen Klein, who had been responsible for the situation, rather than the musicians themselves," BBC reports. The Verve sought permission and agreed to pay the Stones 50% of the royalties, but the agreement was to use a 5-note part of the recording, and they used more than that, voiding the agreement, and, under the management of Allen Klein — you remember Allen Klein — there was a lawsuit and The Verve lost all the royalties.

Here's "Bitter Sweet Symphony":

Here's the symphonic version of "The Last Time" (from 1965), which I don't think I'd ever noticed before:

And here are the Stones doing "The Last Time" (I'm giving you the Ed Sullivan performance, in which Keith Richards doesn't seem to play the guitar so well):

"Baseball’s timeless appeal is predicated upon an equilibrium between pitching and hitting, and in the past, when that equilibrium has been thrown off..."

"... the game has always managed, either organically or through small tweaks, to return to an acceptable balance. But there is growing evidence that essential equilibrium has been distorted by the increasing number of pitchers able to throw the ball harder and faster... It’s one thing to identify velocity as the root cause of baseball’s inaction problem, but another thing to police it. You can’t legislate that pitchers can no longer throw above 95 mph.... The mound was placed at its current distance of 60 feet 6 inches from home plate in 1893.... [A] proposed rule [will] be tested in the independent Atlantic League... the mound will be moved back by two feet, to 62 feet 6 inches. The

Natalie Portman is "surprised" that Moby "characterized the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school."

"He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact checking from him or his publisher – it almost feels deliberate. That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check.... I was a fan and went to one of his shows when I had just graduated.... When we met after the show, he said, ‘let’s be friends’. He was on tour and I was working, shooting a film, so we only hung out a handful of times before I realised that this was an older man who was interested in me in a way that felt inappropriate."

From "Natalie Portman on Moby, Harvey Weinstein and the documentary that turned her vegan/Ahead of her new documentary on factory farming, the Oscar-winning actress talks to us about what's on her mind right now" (Harper's Bazaar).

So... she did go out with him a few times and then she realized he was sexually attracted to her? And that makes him "creepy"... just because he was so much older. If she was 18, I think that means he was 34. Does he really deserve to be attacked as creepy? If she was a fan, she knew how old he is. If she went out with him — she, a beautiful woman — how could it come as a surprise to her that he was sexually interested? If she decided she wasn't interested and she broke it off and that was that, why is there anything that requires him to be publicly attacked as a creep?

"After opening a red-paneled module on the [vintage Buchla Model 100 modular synthesizer], he noticed there was 'a crust or a crystalline residue on it.'"

"Naturally, he did what any person tasked with fixing up an [instrument that had been lying around for 50 years] would do: spray some cleaner on it, pick at the residue with his finger, and try to dislodge it by scratching it off. But 45 minutes later, he started to feel some tingling. It was the start of a nine-hour acid trip."

From "Synth repairman accidentally gets high after touching old LSD on a vintage ’60s synthesizer/The strain was possibly from Owsley Stanley, the Grateful Dead's notorious sound engineer" (Consequence of Sound).

I know I've been told that's not funny...

... but I was amused by this effort at running all the U.S. Presidents (or at least the first 40) through Snapchat's feminizing filter. It can't handle the facial hair, but other than that, I'm impressed by how attractive the Presidents become. Nixon approaches a Mary-Tyler-Moore-like charm.

Here's my post from a few days about the that's-not-funny chiding over that Snapchat filter.

Anyway, my favorite is Madison:

Bill Barr said something that was literally true but could still be considered a criminal false statement.

Lawprof Stephen Gillers explains in "When Is a 'Literally True”' Statement False and a Crime?"

I'll just excerpt the part about Bill Clinton:
Just as in daily life, judges say that a literally true answer can nevertheless be false if the witness knows what the questioner is getting at and intends to mislead by exploiting an imprecise question....

Bill Clinton famously argued that he did not lie at his deposition when he denied ever having had sex or being alone in a room with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton proposed definitions of “sex” and “alone” that, he argued, would make his answers true. In imposing sanctions against him, Judge Susan Weber Wright wrote:
Simply put, the President’s deposition testimony regarding whether he had ever been alone with Ms. Lewinsky was intentionally false, and his statements regarding whether he had ever engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky likewise were intentionally false, notwithstanding tortured definitions and interpretations of the term “sexual relations.”

"How Much Political Experience Does It Take to Be Elected President?"

A nice graphic presentation in the NYT:

What can we infer about who Democrats should want as their candidate? Trump's winning with no political experience might seem to say anything could happen, so go ahead and try, mayors, even though it's never worked yet. The last thing that worked was something that hadn't happened yet, so maybe the most likely thing is the least like thing. In Crazyworld.

Ah! I do have a tag for this: "if Trump could do it."

IN THE COMMENTS: Gilbar observes that the VP most recently elected — George H.W. Bush in 1988 — was elected when he was the sitting VP. He wasn't a former VP. The NYT says:
While the vice presidency might seem the most obvious launching pad for the presidency, only five people have done what Joseph R. Biden Jr. is trying to do now: get elected after completing his vice presidency.
Boldface added. That looks like the NYT is acknowledging the difficulty of running as a former VP, but I think the NYT is including candidates who were VP when they ran and began serving after they completed their term. I believe there is only one person who ran as a former VP and won — Richard Nixon. The Times was trying to exclude the VPs who became President when the President died and then won an election. Obviously, those men didn't win as VP. They won as President.

AND: When Nixon won, in 1968, he was opposed by another VP, Hubert Humphrey. So 1968 is more of a testimony to the ability of VPs to get nominated, not elected. When Nixon ran as VP in 1960 and was not opposed by another VP, he lost. The George H.W. Bush win (against a governor) is really an outlier. The other recent VP nominees all lost — Al Gore in 2000, Mondale in 1984.

I'm late to the Ocasio-Cortez cauliflower story.

Has anyone made a joke yet combining the jokey nickname "Occasional Cortex" and the fact that cauliflower looks like a brain?

Because I'm don't want to put time into joke-writing if it's been done.

(Here's the Washington Examiner piece on AOC and cauliflower. It's from 3 days ago. 3-day-old cauliflower is too old for me. Frankly, 1-day-old cauliflower is too old for me. And I'm white.)

Sweet? Funny? Sad? Scary?

I checked her age. She's only 62. So... I guess it's not as scary as it looked. It made me think of something the comedian Bob Goldthwait said about the TV show "Life with Lucy," which came out in 1986: "I'm getting really worried about Lucy." It was funny laughing at Lucy's physical comedy in the 1950s and 60s, but in 1986, she was 75, and she was trying to show that she still had what it takes, but we could see she was old, and we were moved not so much to laugh as to feel protective and hope she wouldn't  get hurt.

But Lisa Murkowski is 62. She can still put on a show that she's a kid at heart and up for physical hijinks... can't she? But maybe she hasn't heard that a lot of people find those motorized street scooters annoying, and a lot of people are getting hurt, including the young and youngish.

Progress: "ABC censored out a number of racially charged words that had been used in the original episodes."

I'm reading "What you missed on ABC's live version of 'All in the Family' and 'The Jeffersons.'"

The headline is right. I missed it. I was interested enough to have blogged about it when I read about it a while back, but I didn't notice it was on, so I missed it. Like old-time TV! You have to keep track of when it's on. Now, I could have DVR'd it if I'd noticed it was about to be on, but it wasn't promoted enough for me to see that, even though I'm on line every day, reading many MSM news sites (as well as Facebook and Twitter). I'd have checked it out, and I am checking out articles about it, including the above-linked report on "What [I] missed." #1, I missed the censorship.
In the "All in the Family" episode, which aired first, the Bunkers played host to the Jefferson family after Edith (Marisa Tomei) accidentally volunteered to have her home be the site of a going away party. Archie (Woody Harrelson) is annoyed by the idea of having a black family in his home. What unraveled was a discussion about race and privilege, with Archie on the defensive as his son-in-law and daughter (Ike Barinholtz and Ellie Kemper) tried, as always, to educate him on the new world order. The script was performed exactly as it had been written for a 1973 episode called "Henry's Farewell."
... except that Jamie Foxx (as George) screwed up his lines and broke character to say "It's live." Mm. Yeah. It was live, but it wasn't "Saturday Night Live." You had time to practice your lines, and you're inviting us to watch a prime-time live-TV event. Maybe that's why the show wasn't promoted enough for me to notice in time to tune in.

Look at how Entertainment Weekly fawningly covers Foxx: "Jamie Foxx Hilariously Flubs Line in Live 'All in the Family' Remake and Recovers Like a Champ." I'm sure the actors who didn't screw up appreciate that this is what's getting the coverage:

May 22, 2019

At the Allium Café...


... you can go all in.

"Emma, a healthy Shih Tzu mix, was euthanized recently because her owner left explicit instructions in her will..."

"The fur baby was to be put down — and laid to rest with her. 'Heartbroken' shelter volunteers at Chesterfield County Animal Services — where Emma had a two-week reprieve from death — said she was a well-bred, pampered and much-loved pup. They appealed to the executor of the dead woman’s estate, begging them to not go through with ending Emma’s life — but their pleas were ignored.... After she was cremated, her ashes were placed in an urn and returned to the 'authorized representative of the estate,' following her owner’s last wishes to the letter.... 'WTF!!! people don’t care for animals in life or death!!! this is heartless, inhumane, and pitiful!!!!,' one particularly heated [tweet] reads. 'And the people who killed said dog are even more trash!!' While killing healthy pets so they can be interned with owners is sparking ethical debates on social media, the law is crystal clear, says Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association. 'It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains — or any animal — in a casket and bury them,' says Spiaggi as his chocolate Lab, Peace, trots laps around him."

I'm reading "Healthy dog euthanized to be buried with dead owner as her will requested") in the NY Post.

First, the word is "interred" (not "interned").

Second, the article is clear that the dog cannot and will not be "be buried with dead owner," so that headline is pathetic. The dog was killed and cremated ashes were given to the estate. And the quoted funeral expert explained the law on the subject. It's one thing to have your dog killed, and you can do that, but putting nonhuman animal remains in a cemetery is outlawed. I can see why. One lady might want her dog in her casket with her, but the other people using the cemetery don't want it to be a pet cemetery.

Third, I'll leave it to you to discuss how awful it is to dictate that your dog be put down when you die. I wonder exactly what the thinking was. I imagine the woman believed and wanted to believe that the dog was so completely bonded to her that it could not live with another person and it would require a mercy killing without her. Or maybe she believed that the dog would be released to join her in the afterlife. It's not necessary to judge the dead woman to be a horrible person, even though I don't like that the dog was killed.

"The traveling, the air conditioning is so weird. You become like a lizard."

From Howard Stern's big book of interviews, a little insight into the travails of travel:
Howard: Then when this song becomes a hit, they send you out on tour, and that’s where you freak. You hated it.

Sia: Well, there were parts that I loved.

Howard: What’s the worst part of it? Is it just being in a hotel? Not being around your stuff?

Sia: It’s lonely. You have this family with you, this traveling family of wolverines that you create, and that’s not lonely. But if you’ve developed relationships outside of that, when you leave them it’s really hard to nourish them. I couldn’t ever maintain a love relationship. I don’t know. The traveling, the air conditioning is so weird. You become like a lizard.
The song mentioned above is "Breathe Me," which became a hit after it was used in the brilliant ending to the great finale episode of the TV show "Six Feet Under." Here's the official video for the song:

And here's that fantastic final sequence for "Six Feet Under":

When you travel, you're not 6 feet under, but the air conditioning is so weird and you do become like a lizard.

Oak Park and River Forest High School will spend $53,794 to redo its yearbook because 18 students made the "OK" hand sign.

Newsweek reports.
“I want to be clear that we are not making any presumptions about students’ intent in using the gesture,” [Superintendent Joylynn] Pruitt-Adams wrote. “Regardless of intent, however, there is a real and negative impact. Many students, not only our students of color, experience this gesture as a symbol of white supremacy. Potentially subjecting our students to this trauma is simply not acceptable.

“We are concerned that the gesture will become more closely associated with White supremacy in the future. Publishing the photos in question could not only harm students today but could subject students to potentially a lifetime of questions or penalty from colleges, employers, etc.”

As reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the OK hand gesture being linked to white supremacy started as a trolling campaign by users on the controversial message board 4Chan. The “Operation O-KKK” campaign was launched to trick people into thinking the gesture—frequently used by President Donald Trump during his public speaking—was meant to promote white supremacy as the fingers spell out WP (white power).

"The 'OK' symbol hoax was so widespread in the spring and summer of 2017 that a number of people on the far right began deliberately to use the gesture—typically making the sign while posing for photographs uploaded to social media—in order to continue the trolling and spread it further,” noted the ADL....
Pruitt-Adams sounds completely lucid. The effect on the observer matters — OK may be experienced as a white power statement — and the students doing the gesturing — even if they just meant "okay" — could find their reputations damaged in the future. And yet the "OK" sign and the great American word "OK" ("okay") are a damned important part of our speech. And if we reject it now, then, going forward, all those past images of simple positivity will become confusing and subject to misinterpretation. And it seems this big, artificial move — changing an important part of our expression — is all about destroying Donald Trump. But nothing destroys Donald Trump! All efforts at destroying him destroy something else! Stop being do damned destructive... OK?

"McDonald's has made the decision to stop selling milkshakes when there's a Brexit rally nearby... Burger King U.K. came under fire after tweeting, 'Dear people of Scotland. We're selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun.'"

From "Throwing milkshakes as a political statement makes a splash in Britain" (CBS News).

Is the entire cup thrown at the person or just the contents? I'm not sure, but this "milkshaking" seems to be the same activity as pie-throwing (where, usually, it's shaving cream in a pie tin, smashed into a person's face). I guess for milkshaking you don't need to get as close, and it's easy to buy your loaded weapon in a fast-food joint. In the UK, there's debate about whether this should actually be called "violence," but obviously it is.

Wikipedia has an entry for "milkshaking":
Milkshaking is a term that refers to the use of milkshakes and other drinks as a means of political protest in a manner similar to egging.
Well, with egging, the hard shell is always part of the projectile, and you've got to hit hard enough to break the egg.
The target of a milkshaking is usually covered in a milkshake that is thrown from a cup or bottle.
Usually... so perhaps sometimes the cup is also thrown.
The trend gained popularity in the United Kingdom in May 2019 during the European Parliament election and was used primarily against right-wing and far-right politicians and activists, such as Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage, Carl Benjamin, and members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and Brexit Party.
Robinson was the first one to be milkshaked, and when he got milkshaked the next day, he punched the person who did it.

In American slang, "milkshake," used as a noun, refers to a woman's body "and the way she carries it." Urban Dictionary has various entries for "milkshake," the verb, going back to 2005, including the idea of throwing a milkshake at someone, from 2013. That doesn't have the political-theater angle, just a mindless prank, done from a moving car, aimed at a random pedestrian. The British activity is also there, entered 2 days ago.

And here's the rather extensive Wikipedia article on pie throwing. Excerpt:
The probable originator of pieing as a political act was Thomas King Forcade, the founder of High Times magazine. In 1970, Forcade pied Otto N. Larsen, the Chairman of the President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography; his action was called the first Yippie pieing[.] Aron Kay, also a Yippie, went on to take up Forcade's pieing tactics. Kay pied, among many others, William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly, G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, and Andy Warhol....
Though pieing may not have been a political protest before 1970, pieing appeared — almost appeared — in the great 1964 film "Dr. Strangelove," and the context was distinctly political:
But for a last-minute change of Kubrick’s heart, the moment of reckoning was to be preceded with a riotous battle with pastries from the War Room buffet table. The fight, which was shot but cut out before the final print, begins with Soviet Ambassador de Sadeski (Peter Bull) responding to the threat of a strip search by hurling a custard pie at US general Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott), which misses and hits the American president.

“Gentlemen,” rallies Turgidson, holding his wounded leader (Peter Sellers) in his arms, “our beloved president has been infamously struck down by a pie in the prime of his life! Are we going to let that happen? Massive retaliation!” Chaos ensues in fast-motion, in a manner recalling the silent slapstick of Mack Sennett and the Keystone Cops....

"Eventually, Strangelove fires off a gun and shouts ‘Ve must stop zis childish game! Zere is Verk to do!’ The other characters sit around on the floor and play with custard cream like children building sandcastles. ‘I think their minds must have snepped from the strain,’ Strangelove announces."
Pie throwing goes way back — to stage shows and silent movies. The first is the 1909 film "Mr. Flip." There are many many pie-in-face bits in the movies but (judging from the Wikipedia article) the ultimate was this 2-minute sequence from "The Battle of the Century" (1927) with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy:

Stop! Stop! This has gone far enough! Love thy neighbor!

May 21, 2019

Raccoons of Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

bank card (old comic)

A post shared by Poorly Drawn Lines (@poorlydrawnlines) on

Now, go take a walk.


Or hang out here and talk about whatever.

When did everyone decide that the photo angle for a selfie was from the perspective of someone looking down on me?

Look, it's Joe Biden, doing what I think was once just a silly, vain thing for young women to do:

I know people look saggy and grumpy looking down into their phones. I was just commenting on that here, where a NYT photographer had captured people at a Biden event looking "dull and inert" in part because some were staring down into their iPhones.

But just because looking down is bad doesn't mean you've got to go to the opposite extreme. Traditionally, a portrait is done looking pretty much straight into the subject's eyes:

Seeing eye to eye is an expression that means agreement. (That expression probably first appeared in English in translations of the Bible: "For they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion" (Isaiah 52:8, King James Bible).) Isn't that sense of agreement — and equality and harmony — something a politician should want?

My screen capture of Joe Biden comes from a WaPo front-page teaser for "Trump says Biden ‘deserted’ Pennsylvania. In Scranton, he’s a ‘hometown boy.’" As the article points out, Biden's father — looking for better job opportunities — moved the family from Scranton to Wilmington, Delaware when young Joe was only 10. So it was kind of jerky for Trump to say to the crowd at yesterday's rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania last night, "Biden deserted you. I guess he was born here, but he left you, folks. He left you for another state."

Biden will be stressing his Pennsylvanianess, of course, over his Delawareness, because Pennsylvania is a big swing state and Delaware is a tiny blue state. And Trump will be antagonizing him on that subject: "This guy talks about ‘I know Scranton.’ Well, I know the places better. He left you for another state and he didn’t take care of you, because he didn’t take care of your jobs." That is, the question isn't where a candidate has his personal roots, but what did he do for the people of that place? Biden was a Senator and — aside from the fact that he represented Delaware — he was in a position for a long long time to push for policies that would help the people of the states he now needs to vote for him, and — as Trump puts it — "he didn’t take care of you, because he didn’t take care of your jobs."

Biden's father is responsible for the family's move. That's not on Biden. But Biden's father was in search of a job, and that's a basis for caring deeply about the loss of job opportunity in Pennsylvania. How did that motivate Biden as he lived out his political career? That's a good question, and it's not answered by going on about Biden being a Scranton guy at heart.

Nobody you need to convince is going to click on stuff like this anymore.

That's purely for the delectation of the already committed.

ADDED: I'm reminded of the book title "Three Felonies a Day" (subtitle: "How the Feds Target the Innocent") and that line from "Through the Looking-Glass," "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

AND: This movie clip seems relevant (with Chait as "Peewee"):

"When I do my Twitter now, I’m always super happy, fake-friendly, nice. Initially, I didn’t know what it was for..."

"... so I just called everyone a whore, and then I got two defamation suits that cost me, like, $780,000," said Courtney Love (to Howard Stern, quoted in his big book of interviews).

ADDED: "When I do my Twitter now"... there's that geriatric possessive again — my Twitter. (She's 54.)

"'I Don’t Want an Exciting President'/Joe Biden makes his supporters feel safe, but nominating him is risky."

A NYT op-ed by Michelle Goldberg, which you probably feel you don't need to read because the headline says it all. In fact, I haven't read it, because that's how I feel. But I'm blogging it because the photographs at the link — by Damon Winter — are so eloquent and hilarious (or terrifying, if you're a Trump hater). You see the Biden crowd, and they look dull and inert. (Some of their dullness is the look of a person staring into an iPhone, and photographers will be able to catch people looking like that everywhere.)

ADDED: My son John blogs the Goldberg column and links to something I blogged on July 29, 2004:
Is anyone listening to the speeches at the Convention

who isn't listening through a filter of thinking about the way someone else would be hearing the speech? I think not. I think the someone else, for whom the speech was written and to whom it is delivered, is not tuned in at all. Everyone listening is either already a Kerry supporter hoping the speech will convince someone else or a journalistic observer analyzing whether the speech is the sort of thing that will have the effect on the target audience it is intended to have.

ADDED: My son John Althouse Cohen emails:
You wrote about how everyone watching the convention is imagining how the speeches will seem to someone else, even though it might be that none of those "someone elses" are actually watching the speeches. The same thing happened when Kerry won the primaries. Everyone was voting for him because they thought he would appeal to someone else. And those voters believed at the time that that was the politically savvy thing to do. But it was actually politically disastrous: if everyone was just voting for him because they thought someone else would like him, then NO ONE ACTUALLY LIKED HIM.

One problem is that if you're trying to choose the most "electable" person, I would imagine that you'd be likely to do it by process of elimination -- by ruling out all the candidates with obvious political liabilities. I think this is the number-one reason why Kerry won the primaries: he was the only candidate who didn't seem to have anything particularly wrong with him. Edwards was too inexperienced; Clark was a poor campaigner; Dean seemed kind of insane; Gephardt was too liberal; Lieberman was too conservative. So they choose the one candidate who has no qualities that would really make anyone hate him. The problem is that he also has no qualities that would really make anyone like him either.