June 1, 2019

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The rape allegedly occurred in King’s presence; the FBI document claims King 'looked on, laughed and offered advice' to the preacher."

"Mr. Garrow said neither he nor the FBI could be sure who that woman was, though he continues to try to identify her. He notes that there is no evidence in the documents he has seen that FBI agents who were apparently listening in when the alleged rape occurred tried to stop the attack. As someone who admired King, Mr. Garrow said it brought him no pleasure to reveal what he found about King hidden among 54,000 digital files concerning President John Kennedy’s assassination that the National Archives dumped onto its web page over the past two years. 'But I felt a professional obligation to say... Hey folks, we are probably going to have documented evidence that’s not pleasant about King in 2027.'"

From "Former Pitt professor reassessing view of MLK after he uncovers new FBI documents/Historian David Garrow won 1986 Pulitzer Prize for biography on King" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

"So no one should express partisan certainty regarding President Trump’s suggestion that the Supreme Court might well decide that impeaching a president without evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors is unconstitutional."

Writes Alan Dershowitz, surprising me (and I taught the constitutional law relating to impeachment for many years). He writes:
Two former, well-respected justices of the Supreme Court first suggested that the judiciary may indeed have a role in reining in Congress were it to exceed its constitutional authority. Justice Byron White, a John F. Kennedy appointee, put it this way:

"Finally, as applied to the special case of the President, the majority argument merely points out that, were the Senate to convict the President without any kind of trial, a Constitutional crisis might well result. It hardly follows that the Court ought to refrain from upholding the Constitution in all impeachment cases. Nor does it follow that, in cases of presidential impeachment, the Justices ought to abandon their constitutional responsibility because the Senate has precipitated a crisis."

Justice David Souter, a George H. W. Bush-appointee, echoed his predecessor: “If the Senate were to act in a manner seriously threatening the integrity of its results … judicial interference might well be appropriate.”

It is not too much of a stretch from the kind of constitutional crises imagined by these learned justices to a crisis caused by a Congress that impeached a president without evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The president is not above the law, but neither is Congress, whose members take an oath to support, not subvert, the Constitution. And that Constitution does not authorize impeachment for anything short of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Here's the case he's talking about Nixon v. United States. — about a federal judge named Nixon who challenged the procedure the Senate used to convict him. All of the Justices rejected Nixon's attempted appeal to the judiciary. The Souter and White opinions were concurring opinions. The majority opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist (and joined by Stevens, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas) stressed the "textually demonstrable commitment" of the issue to the Senate, which is given the "sole Power to try all Impeachments." (The House is given "the sole Power of Impeachment.") Even though that case was about a judge, the Court took into account the special need for finality that would exist in the case of a President:

The NYT risks looking transphobic, with "Chest Binding Helps Smooth the Way for Transgender Teens, but There May Be Risks/People who use binders report symptoms like back and chest pain, overheating and shortness of breath."

And the comments to the article (by Amy Sohn) are full of expressions of thanks. The top-rated comment:
Thank you, Amy Sohn for this article. Thank you. And thank you for naming the work of 4thwavenow. The health impacts of experimental transgender medicine on children and teens very much needs to be brought to the public's attention.

From the doctor [quoted in the article]: “It’s strange to me that someone would think of a binder as being a form of self-harm when there are so many other garments used by gender-typical people to change their appearance that are also extremely uncomfortable (hello high heels …).”"

Everyone should be concerned about this blase attitude from clinicians with regards to potential harm being done to otherwise healthy bodies. And the bodies of children at that. High heels are not benign. High heels hurt women's feet, backs, knees, and can permanently change your physical structure. Binders should be seen as yet another way of "fixing" the female body, when there is nothing wrong in the first place.

Again, thank you.
Another comment:
Thank you for this article , it’s the first time I’ve seen the Times recognize (if ever so slightly) the epidemic of teenage girls suddenly identifying as trans. Breast binding, cross sex hormones, double mastectomies (what you call “top surgeries”) and phalloplasties are dangerous, invasive interventions with lifelong consequences. None of these coping strategies for bodily distress are healthy or sustainable. There is little proof that they are even effective at relieving dysphoria / dysmorphia. Teen girls that are in distress about their bodies need loving and intense therapeutic support. If they aren’t heterosexual and/or feminine, they need and deserve full family acceptance of this. Parents should never enable or validate self harm or self hatred. These kids deserve better care that teaches them to love and accept their bodies and themselves. If they decide to medically transition as adults, in full understanding of the risks and benefits , that’s their choice. But kids should not be pushed onto this beltway.


"We also observed detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space, thus limiting access to the toilets."

"A cell with a maximum capacity of 12 held 76 detainees, another with a maximum capacity of eight held 41, and another with a maximum capacity of 35 held 155, according to the report. '[Customs and Border Protection] was struggling to maintain hygienic conditions in the holding cells. With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks... Corrective action is critical to the immediate health and safety needs of detainees, who cannot continue to be held in standing-room-only conditions for weeks until additional tents are constructed'..."

So says a report on a leaked forthcoming report by The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General about an inspection of an El Paso Border Patrol facility. I'm reading that at ABC 10 News San Diego, but it says the report was obtained by CNN. I went to CNN.com to get their link, because I prefer the direct source, but multiple searches of the CNN front page make me think it is not there. And there are a lot of headlines on the CNN.com front page, and much of that stuff is inconsequential clickbait, such as "Jennifer Aniston's plane lost a tire, and somehow Jimmy Kimmel is involved" and...
Maybe that's a robot that laughs just like you, CNN, you creepy, quasi-human entity, but don't say I smile and frown like that. How about some serious coverage of this overcrowding? I watched a little of your TV channel yesterday, and I heard your newsfaces emitting sounds on the subject of Trump's tariffs (which I see as a desperate effort to shock Mexico into helping us with the border emergency) and they were going on about how price increases on goods from Mexico would cost us Americans some money — as if that's a human tragedy, avocados getting pricey. I watched Jake Tapper maintaining that frown he does so well. Does he frown just like Sophia?

I want to be fair, so I'm going to the transcript of yesterday's show, which I only watched out of the corner of my eye as I was trying to read. I remember noticing the style and mannerisms of the guest Robby Mook, which are very exaggerated and make him seem to be something from the uncanny valley. (By the way, the men's faces on Tapper's show are thickly slathered with opaque makeup, and I was commenting out loud that the men look like they are made of latex (and that was before I "met" Sophia the Robot).)

The transcript helps me avoid the distraction of the facial fakery. And I can see that there was, in fact, some talk of the inspector's report:

Insect politics.

May 31, 2019

At Purple Café...


... you can talk all night.

Trump at the Air Force Academy graduation, saluting and shaking hands with every cadet — individually, over the course of an hour, and with unflagging — even escalating — enthusiasm.

"He was accused of spying for the United States for poorly reporting on the negotiations without properly grasping U.S. intentions."

He = Kim Hyok Chol, who was the head negotiator for the summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump, and who, it seems, was executed in March. The quote in the post title comes from an unidentified source.

ADDED: Who knows? Maybe it's just a "death recorded."

UPDATE, June 4: "The report's veracity was called into question Sunday after North Korean state media reported that Kim Yong Chol attended an art performance alongside Kim Jong Un. An invitation to join to join the North Korean leader in public would likely not be extended to someone who had fallen out of favor" (CNN). My "Who knows?" above was written just a few minutes after the original post, so I was dubious about this story from the start.

"Today who believes anything in the WaPo or NYT?"

Said David Begley in the comments to "The Washington Post spoke to seven scholars of the eugenics movement; all of them said that Thomas’s use of this history was deeply flawed."

I spend most of my news-reading time on WaPo and the NYT because they're better, and the alternatives are worse. I've defended my practice many times. I'm so often challenged by readers when I engage with the text of these MSM outlets. They ask why I'm still reading that, and my answer has always been that it's the best there is. Readers prod me to read The Daily Caller and Breitbart, but my view has been that stuff is too trashy. I can't stand it, and I'm not interested in writing about it.

But this morning the issue strikes me in a different way because yesterday I encountered the opinion, "You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad." I wrote:
[The] idea seems to be that there's a special harm in exposing yourself to things that are only somewhat good. Better to read outwardly trashy things than trash that has been inflated. And then there's also the idea that those who inflate trash are dead.
It was Gertrude Stein (as presented by Hemingway) who said "You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad." And she characterized Aldous Huxley as "dead" because his writings were not truly good but trash "inflated" to seem somewhat good. ("Why do you read this trash? It is inflated trash, Hemingway. By a dead man.") So I'm thinking about that.

Maybe the worst thing to read is something that's dressed up to seem as though it's not trash. Maybe it is better to read The Daily Caller and Breitbart... and Slate and Vox or whatever. Read the frankly bad.

Ah, but I don't need to protect myself like that. I hope you're reading me because you think I'm "truly good," and I pursue true goodness by reading the somewhat good things for you. I'm choosing to expose myself to the deleterious, inflated trash. I'll approach the corpse. Gertrude Stein still talked about the "dead" man who inflated trash. That's all I'm doing, talking about the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Bonus debate issue: Trump's tweets are frankly bad, and that's why it's good to want to read them.

Second bonus debate issue: If there's one thing that deserves to be viewed as deleterious, inflated trash, it's judicial opinions. (I am a professor emerita, having spent too many years palpating that corpse.)

The source of the myth that you need 10,000 steps a day is a Japanese clockmaker that marketed a pedometer called Manpo-kei in 1965.

There's no more science to it than that. Read Marketwatch, here.

Believing hitting the 10,000 number might motivate you to push a little further or to do it every day. Sorry to spoil that for you. But did you actually believe that 10,000 was magical?

Do you have any beliefs involving numbers? Do you know the point at which it deserves to be called "arithomania"? It would be funny if your answer to that last question had a number in it? (It's arithmomania when you've got 10 beliefs about numbers.)
Arithomania is a mental disorder that may be seen as an expression of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). Individuals suffering from this disorder have a strong need to count their actions or objects in their surroundings. Sufferers may for instance feel compelled to count the steps while ascending or descending a flight of stairs or to count the number of letters in words. They often feel it is necessary to perform an action a certain number of times to prevent alleged calamities. Other examples include counting tiles on the floor or ceiling, the number of lines on the highway, or simply the number of times one breathes or blinks, or touching things a certain number of times such as a door knob or a table....
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why/Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike/They've all come to look for Arithomania....

IN THE COMMENTS: EDH brings up Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule and "New Study Destroys Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule." And Limited blogger said "I always thought 10,000 Maniacs was an unusually large number of maniacs." Here's the Wikipedia article "10,000" where you can make many discoveries about the meaning of 10,000. I'll just pick one, from Taoism:
The great Tao covers everything like a flood.
It flows to the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things depend upon it
and it denies none of them.
It accomplishes its task yet claims no reward.
It clothes and feeds the ten thousand things
yet it does not attempt to control them.
Therefore, it may be called "the little."
The ten thousand things return to it,
even though it does not control them.
Therefore, it may be called "the great."

So it is that the True Person does not wish to be great
and therefore becomes truly great.

"The Washington Post spoke to seven scholars of the eugenics movement; all of them said that Thomas’s use of this history was deeply flawed."

Does anyone read something like that and simply trust the "scholars" to give the true account of the eugenics movement and what today resembles it? I say no, because I'm not including the trust that skips a step and believes the the scholars because they want to preserve abortion rights and they need Clarence Thomas to be wrong. My question is whether scholars these days are trusted as a source of truth about a hot social issue.

WaPo has 7 scholars, and they deliver the conclusion — "a gross misuse of historical facts,"  "amateur historical mistake," "really bad history," "historically incoherent," "ignorant and prejudiced," "just not historical." That's the bottom line if that's all you need, but I need the article to quote Thomas, accurately and in context, and to have the historians specify what is bad, otherwise I don't know whether they are doing the same thing they say he's doing, using what they can find and making interpretations that serve their policy preferences. The fact that they're "scholars" doesn't work anymore (if it ever did).
“Eugenicists were initially hostile to birth control because they knew that the women who would use it were the type of women they would want to encourage to reproduce, so-called ‘better’ women — upper-middle-class women,” said Kevles, the Yale professor. “When they finally came around to it, they did it in the face of a practical reality — they caught up to what their constituency was doing.... I’ve been studying this stuff for 40 years, and I’ve never been able to find a leader of the eugenics movement that came out and said they supported abortion,” Lombardo said. 
Thomas cited high rate of abortion for fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome in developed countries (98 percent in Denmark, 90 percent in the United Kingdom, 77 percent in France and 67 percent in the United States, according to the statistics he cites), the practice of sex-based abortions in Asia (to eliminate female fetuses), and statistics that show higher rates of abortion among blacks than whites, to make his argument that abortion is akin to eugenics.

But many of the historians were quick to point out that abortion — a personal choice by an individual — differed significantly from the state-mandated programs foisted involuntarily on others by eugenicists.
That's not a disagreement about history, their area of expertise. That's an argument about how far to go in using history. I agree with the historians about the distinction — and said so when the case came out, here — but I didn't use historical analysis to arrive at that view. The historians are reaching beyond their area of expertise and doing legal analysis. That's fine. They're entitled to participate in the debate about the meaning of legal rights, but the idea that because of their scholarship their opinion trumps Thomas's fails.

WaPo quotes a historian whose book was cited by Thomas — "It was absolutely decontextualized" — and a reaction from Ed Whelan at the National Review — "just another in the sorry genre of 'you properly cited my work in the course of an argument I don’t agree with.'"

When you're reading the newspaper and you see something that makes you say, "Hey, I thought that was my idea!"

I'm reading "Rat-infested pop-up bar to open in San Francisco" in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The project comes from the folks behind the San Francisco Dungeon at Fisherman’s Wharf, a haunted house-like venture specializing in theatrical recreations of historical events. The pop-up is slated to run from June 13 to 15 at 145 Jefferson St. In 2017, this same group brought a similarly styled rodent spot to the city called the Black Rat Cafe.

The pop-up is a ticketed event at $49.99 per person.... After the show, patrons will have 30 minutes to spend touching and picking up the rats before heading to an upstairs cash bar...

Supplying the event’s rats will be nonprofit Ratical Rodent Rescue...
The Black Rat Cafe?! Isn't that one of my old posts? And don't tell me they had the Black Rat Café back in 2017. This new SF rat café is not the first one. I see that. But my rat cafés go back to 2016, beginning with:

October 6, 2016


... you can talk about anything you want.

(All rats were drawn by me, in quick succession, using my fingertip in the new iPhone messaging software which lets you send drawings instead of typed words. I started drawing rats after Meade incorrectly identified some squiggle I'd sent as a rat.)

They broke the Spelling Bee.

Did you watch last night? I had a hard time staying up as an adult in the Central Time Zone, but these were 13 and 14 year olds in the Eastern Time Zone, and they'd been challenged and stressed since 10 a.m. I was interested in seeing who would win, but ultimately I felt I was watching child abuse, not just because they'd been grilled for so long and so late but because all of them were obviously only there because they'd been put through some kind of highly refined (and expensive) process that just doesn't seem right. It was after midnight!

There were 8 co-winners, because they had to change the process as they were running out of words and the process of elimination wasn't happening. These kids simply got everything right, because something has changed in the preparation. There was little of the amusement of seeing sweet children striving and, eventually, failing. The bell of failure never rang, and it seemed these kids would go on until they started nodding off into sleep and having a dream, perhaps that they were spelling some other word.

From the NYT article: "There have been marathon spelling bees before — the 2017 event went 36 rounds, with two spellers battling it out after the 17th round — but the competition has never hosted such a large group of spellers who could not be defeated. The field is typically winnowed down to fewer than four by the 16th round." Last night, the game was simply ended after the 20th round, after an announcement that everyone remaining would be a co-winner if they made it that far, and then 8 of them did.

From the WaPo article:
By 3 p.m., the Bee’s organizers resorted to what Shalini Shankar, a professor at Northwestern University, called a “lawn mower” round of extremely hard words intended to winnow the remaining field. It worked, with spellers knocked out by head-spinning words such as Wundtian, coelogyne and yertchuk. Yet other spellers vanquished the likes of huiscoyol, bremsstrahlung and ferraiolone to advance to the finals.

“I was very tired, and I also did not drink a lot of water,” the Clarksville, Md., middle schooler said. “Since it’s going so fast, if you go to the bathroom you might miss your turn.”
See what I mean? How is that an acceptable way to treat children? That's just what it was like in the afternoon. The show continued until after midnight. Who is this show for? I used to love to watch the children. I will not watch again.
The winning words from [years ago] — croissant in 1970, incisor in 1975, luge in 1984 — would make today’s finalists laugh....

Another game-changing development is the new invitational program known as “RSVBee,” now in its second year. In the past, spellers reached the national event only by winning a regional bee and securing a sponsor, often a newspaper, to cover expenses. But with the advent of RSVBee, which supplied 292 of this year’s 565 contestants, families who can afford a $1,500 entry fee — plus six nights at the $300-a-night Gaylord and other expenses — can bypass the traditional path to the Bee.
So it's a rich kids game? Sorry, I know there are people these days who would say, "Well, okay, then, go ahead and abuse them. I wish rich-kid Trump had been abused as a kid. Can we get Barron to plunge down this rich-kid rat-hole of pointless achievement?"
Scott Remer, a New York-based tutor and author of a spelling bee textbook, coaches three of the 16 finalists. He said winning the Bee takes more than rote memorization. His students study word roots and how to spell sounds in Latin, Greek, German, Japanese and several other languages.

“A good speller knows a lot of words,” Remer said. “A great speller is able to spell pretty much any word that you throw at them because they’re able to use this process to break the word down and come up with a very well-educated guess.”
Yes, it was easy to see that system was working, and congratulations to the tutors who've figured it out and to Remer specifically for getting his self-vaunting quotes into The Washington Post without having to cough up a number for what he charges per hour and how many hours it takes to turn a child into a "great speller."

The comments at WaPo are full of gratuitous politics, some of which is cleverly based on Trump's penchant for misspelling, e.g., "Very cool story. Maybe when Trump has them to the White House for hamberders, they can teach him a thing about spelling." Some of which is more insanely peevish, like:
"8 young Americans smarter than the entire Republican party. This is the future King Don...a multiracial, multi ethnic America..and there's nothing you can do to stop it. This is the future and you are the rapidly dying past."
Speaking of a dying past... spelling. Why waylay the brightest kids into such a narrowing, unnecessary enterprise? It seems to me, the misspelling champ, Donald Trump, is President and what there's nothing you can do to stop is all his winning. The kind of smartness we need is people who can outsmart Trump at his game — tweeting, rallying, fighting off all criticism — and not people who've learned the tricks of spelling and can stand until midnight enunciating the proper letters.

"It is with heavy hearts we announce that early this morning, May 30th, 2019, Leon Redbone crossed the delta for that beautiful shore at the age of 127."

Read the official statement at his webiste, quoted in "Singer Leon Redbone Dies at 69/In a nod to how Redbone sought to exist outside of time, much less current musical styles, his death announcement gave his age as 127" (Variety).
Although Redbone’s pop-defying predilection for seemingly antiquated musical styles of the ’20s and ’30s made him the unlikeliest of stars, he became one anyway, appearing several times as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” — including two spots in the inaugural 1975-76 season alone — and landing frequent appearances with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” into the 1980s....
Enough of that, more from the official website:
He departed our world with his guitar, his trusty companion Rover, and a simple tip of his hat. He’s interested to see what Blind Blake, Emmett, and Jelly Roll have been up to in his absence, and has plans for a rousing sing along number with Sári Barabás. An eternity of pouring [sic] through texts in the Library of Ashurbanipal will be a welcome repose, perhaps followed by a shot or two of whiskey with Lee Morse, and some long overdue discussions with his favorite Uncle, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites. To his fans, friends, and loving family who have already been missing him so in this realm he says, "Oh behave yourselves. Thank you…. and good evening everybody."
And here's what Bob Dylan said (in 1974):
“Leon interests me. I’ve heard he’s anywhere from 25 to 60, I’ve been [a foot and a half from him] and I can’t tell, but you gotta see him. He does old Jimmie Rodgers, then turns around and does a Robert Johnson.”
I saw Leon Redbone at least once, somewhere in the 1970s, maybe at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Here's how he looked and acted back then, maintaining his mysterious comic character:

I'm writing "mysterious," but I see he said, "I don’t do anything mysterious on purpose. I’m less than forthcoming, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m mysterious. It just means I’m not inclined to go there." And: "Very little of my life goes into my music.... I’ve never considered myself the proper focus of attention. I’m just a vehicle … not so much for the particular kind of music I prefer, music from an earlier time, as for a mood that music conveys."

May 30, 2019

At Little Bug's Café...

tree fungus at quarry ridge

... you can talk all night.

"What’s done is done," "What will be will be" — these "tautophrases" "preserve and burnish the established order."

"When God informs Moses, 'I am that I am,' he is telling the prophet, 'Look, get off my back, I’m God.'... 'Boys will be boys' and 'A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do' excuse mischief and usually worse, reinforcing the dominant masculine code....  'You do you is the ultimate self-­referential slogan for the ultimate self-­referential presidency,' [a Wall Street Journal writer 'fumed.'] 'It’s the Be yourself piety of our age turned into a political license by Mr. Obama to do as he pleases.' According to The Journal, Obama’s millennial affectations and his age-­inappropriate preening provide context for the rise of ISIS, our crummy foreign policy, immigration amnesty’s wrong turn. 'You do you,' taken to its extreme, provides justification for every global bad actor.... Might as well do you. Perform the impersonation of your best self. Maybe you’ll get it right this time."

From a 2015 column in the NYT "How ‘You Do You’ Perfectly Captures Our Narcissistic Culture" by Colson Whitehead. I'm reading this because I've been studying the phrase "You do you," and I am only just now noticing that he's the author of a novel I happened to write about yesterday, "Underground Railroad."

ADDED: At English Language and Usage, back in 2015, they discussed that NYT column, and somebody wrote:

"You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad."

Said Gertrude Stein to Ernest Hemingway, quoted in "A Moveable Feast," which I'm reading after someone (who?) mentioned it in the comments recently. Here's the larger context, all of which I really liked:
I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

To keep my mind off writing sometimes after I had worked I would read writers who were writing then, such as Aldous Huxley, D. H. Lawrence or any who had books published that I could get from Sylvia Beach’s library or find along the quais.

“Huxley is a dead man,” Miss Stein said. “Why do you want to read a dead man? Can’t you see he is dead?”

I could not see, then, that he was a dead man and I said that his books amused me and kept me from thinking.
Aldous Huxley was not actually dead at the time. Huxley had the distinction of dying on the same day JFK was assassinated. Hemingway, who died in 1961, did not live one single day when Huxley was not also alive.
“You should only read what is truly good or what is frankly bad.”

“I’ve been reading truly good books all winter and all last winter and I’ll read them next winter, and I don’t like frankly bad books.”

“Why do you read this trash? It is inflated trash, Hemingway. By a dead man.”
Stein's idea seems to be that there's a special harm in exposing yourself to things that are only somewhat good. Better to read outwardly trashy things than trash that has been inflated. And then there's also the idea that those who inflate trash are dead.

Parallel great runs on "Jeopardy!"

1. James:

2. Alex: "Alex Trebek Reveals Some of His Tumors Have Shrunk by 50 Percent: ‘It’s Kind of Mind-Boggling’" (People):
Although the cancer has a 9 percent survival rate, Trebek has been responding very well to chemotherapy. “The doctors said they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory.... I’ve got a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy directed towards me and their prayers... I told the doctors, this has to be more than just the chemo, and they agreed it could very well be an important part of this... I’ve got a lot of love out there headed in my direction and a lot of prayer, and I will never ever minimize the value of that.”

Cleese doubles down.

"Until today, I have defended Mueller against the accusations that he is a partisan."

"I did not believe that he personally favored either the Democrats or the Republicans, or had a point of view on whether President Trump should be impeached. But I have now changed my mind. By putting his thumb, indeed his elbow, on the scale of justice in favor of impeachment based on obstruction of justice, Mueller has revealed his partisan bias. He also has distorted the critical role of a prosecutor in our justice system. Virtually everybody agrees that, in the normal case, a prosecutor should never go beyond publicly disclosing that there is insufficient evidence to indict. No responsible prosecutor should ever suggest that the subject of his investigation might indeed be guilty even if there was insufficient evidence or other reasons not to indict. Supporters of Mueller will argue that this is not an ordinary case, that he is not an ordinary prosecutor, and that President Trump is not an ordinary subject of an investigation. They are wrong. The rules should not be any different. Remember that federal investigations by prosecutors, including special counsels, are by their very nature one sided.... Th[e] determination of guilt or innocence requires a full adversarial trial with a zealous defense attorney, vigorous cross examination, exclusionary rules of evidence, and other due process safeguards. Such safeguards were not present in this investigation, and so the suggestion by Mueller that Trump might well be guilty deserves no credence.... No prosecutor should ever say or do anything for the purpose of helping one party or the other.... Shame on Mueller for abusing his position of trust and for allowing himself to be used for such partisan advantage."

Wrote Alan Dershowitz yesterday.

Self-cancellation... when apologies are not enough.

It's in his self-interest at this point though, isn't it? And he's not committing suicide or — say — resigning from a Senate seat like Al Franken. He has the power to come back when it suits his interests. This is his best hope to get people to buy his book, better at this point than going around telling people buy my book (with some whining about how he's apologized). It's better for him to lie low. Yes, there's something horribly beta about it. Moby is mopey. But I'm guessing that fits his overall self-presentation, so it just might work.

The book is called "Then It Fell Apart." It's all so poetic.

IN THE COMMENTS: William said:
I myself am a beta male, and I'd just like to express my thanks to Moby for showing the way. Truly inspiring leadership. He didn't back down. He backed out...... It's not often a guy who looks like Moby ends up on a bed with a girl who looks like Portman. When such things happen, it's important for all of us to know that such a rare and welcome event has come to pass. Now, you Gods, stand up for betas.....I think Moby could put even a little more spin on the passive aggressive fists of fury by explicitly denying that he and Natalie ever had any kind of physical relationship.

"There are people who say this is an argument against abortion yet would argue against health insurance for everyone. NICU is expensive!"/"I think this IS a blow to abortion rights. Who is paying for the baby's hospital care and future development issues?"

Comments at The Washington Post on "'She’s a miracle': Born weighing about as much as ‘a large apple,’ Saybie is the world’s smallest surviving baby."

The baby, delivered by Caesarian section at 23 weeks, was only 8.6 ounces. Younger babies have survived, so this birth doesn't affect calculations of "viability" within abortion analysis, which look at age. In this case, the mother and the baby's life were in danger (from preeclampsia) and the pregnancy had to end. With 23 weeks of gestation, she chose to endure the abdominal surgery, not knowing how low-weight the baby would be. Based on the age alone, the baby was estimated to have only a 20% chance of survival. With the very low weight, survival seemed impossible, but the "parents decided that if she had a heart rate 'they wanted everything done.'"

The neonatologist said "I thought her chances of making it probably weren’t good. I told the folks every hour I would update them, but there’s a good chance she’s going to die." Now that the super-tiny baby has survived, he says, "It lets everyone know that it is possible."

Would I be Bremmering if I said President Trump wanted to hire David Copperfield to make the USS John McCain disappear?

I don't know. It's the Era of That's Not Funny, and nobody seems to have understood my "treason" joke in last night's café.

May 29, 2019

At the Purple Dot Café...


... you can talk all night.

Photos by Meade... flowers by Meade.

Maybe it will all come down to the leadership of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin.

So pay attention to this big decision, about which the Capital Times has taken a position.
[David] Bowen has been a solid progressive legislator... We have no doubt that he’s sincere...

Yet we think [Ben] Wikler is better positioned to jump-start the party.

Why shouldn't Nepal take their money?

I'm reading "After Deadly Season On Everest, Nepal Has No Plans To Issue Fewer Permits" at NPR.
Nepal's government doesn't put a specific limit on permits. This year 381 people were permitted to climb – a number the AP says is the highest ever. Foreign climbers must pay a fee of $11,000 for a spring summit of Everest, and provide a doctor's note attesting to their fitness....

In a statement Monday, the tourism board expressed condolences to the bereaved family and friends of those who died, and added that it takes the matter seriously and was "disturbed" by the news.... "As is known, climbing Everest is a hardcore adventure activity, a daunting experience even for the most trained and professional climbers," it said in the statement....
Nice/smart of them to be polite, but it doesn't bother me that Nepal cashes in on this tourism. This is something I thought before I read the headline in The Onion: "World Populace Actually Fine With Rich People Dying On Mount Everest." Nepal might want to think about whether it's getting hurt by tourists or whether the image of crowds is undermining the prestige of climbing the mountain. Maybe just raise the fee. $11,000 isn't enough.

"John Cleese was hit with a deluge of criticism online after accusing London of not being an 'English city any more.'"

The Evening Standard reports.

I read that after seeing on Twitter that "John Cleese" was trending.

"All people deserve to be treated with dignity. If someone identifies as non-binary, I will respect that choice. I cannot, however..."

"... happily countenance the willful disregard of grammar required to refer to a single person by a plural pronoun. Why not use, 'one,' or, 'it,' or simply the proper name of the person in question?... There seems to be a fundamental contradiction between advocates for non-binary, who argue that gender roles are a socially-imposed order that needs to be, 'destroyed,' and advocates for the trans community, who argue that gender identity is innate and that trans people should be acknowledged as full members of categories into which they do not biologically fit. Can this divide please please get resolved before the other 99% of us are called insensitive for not understanding how to proceed and we start changing laws to reflect the new convention?"

That's the second-most-liked comment on "Which Box Do You Check? Some States Are Offering a Nonbinary Option/As nonbinary teenagers push for driver’s licenses that reflect their identity, a fraught debate over the nature of gender has arrived in the nation’s statehouses" (NYT), which begins with the grammar issue:

"This makes the butterfly in my chest alive."

A comment submitted for the old post, "Please don’t give them those eyebrows that look like black electrical tape or they won’t get job":

I hit delete, of course, and yet I did not want to crush the butterfly. Fly, butterfly, fly.

This gets the "translation" tag. I don't know whether that phrase is a literal translation of a phrase that's idiomatic in another language or whether the English phrase "I've got butterflies in my stomach" has been translated into a foreign language into something that then literally translates back into English as "This makes the butterfly in my chest alive."

"Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, will speak about the Russia investigation at 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning..."

"... his first public comments since he took over the inquiry two years ago, the Justice Department announced."

The NYT alerts us. (Nice photo at the link.)

I was just noticing James Comey's new column in the Washington Post, "No ‘treason.’ No coup. Just lies — and dumb lies at that."

I had passed over it earlier today, because I have low tolerance for that sort of thing these days, but I got interested in it when I read this enticing interpretation from wildswan in the comments in last night's café.
We weren't plotting against Trump, we were also plotting against Hillary and everyone else. Our goal was power over them all. But our plots seemed about to fail. We had to cut Hillary down to size; but then, while we maneuvered against her, unexpectedly Trump won. Of course, we had an insurance policy against him, so that swung into action. We formatted it as usual as an "investigation." But unexpectedly there was trouble getting his people to accept our lies. And he wouldn't give in. It was His fault that we had to ratchet up our attack so much. And if He wants to call our investigations and jailings and leakings a coup, it was a self-inflicted coup and also it didn't happen. Due to Him. We aren't to blame. We tried to "investigate", as we call it, Him into impotence. God knows how we tried; and so do Melania, Barron, Kelley Ann Conway, George Conway, General Flynn, his wife, his son, Papadopoulos, his fiance, Manafort, the members of his firm, Roger Stone, Sarah Sanders and assorted individuals fired for no reason except supporting Him against the "investigation". Nothing is my fault; they should have given in. They should give in now. Last chance. I am FBI.
Don't know if that's accurate. Don't know if that's remotely related to what Mueller wants to say to us.

There's also this, which came out in the NYT yesterday: "White House Insider Account Has Feel of an Outside View, and Prompts a Mueller Denial":
Two years ago, the author Michael Wolff parlayed his access to one of President Trump’s most powerful advisers, Stephen K. Bannon, into “Fire and Fury”... Now, Mr. Wolff is back with a sequel, “Siege: Trump Under Fire,” which appears to rely just as heavily on Mr. Bannon. But the author’s source left the White House in August 2017 and has watched Mr. Trump’s circuslike presidency from afar since. That gives the disclosures in Mr. Wolff’s latest book a secondhand feeling — and one of his most sensational claims drew a quick, emphatic rebuttal.

A spokesman for Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russia investigation, denied Mr. Wolff’s claim that in March 2018, Mr. Mueller was preparing to indict the president for obstruction of justice on three counts, including witness tampering. Andrew Weissmann, one of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors, whom Mr. Wolff says led that effort, did not even work on the part of the investigation that focused on obstruction....
I'm guessing that's what Mueller wants to talk about.

UPDATE: Why did Mueller make an occasion out of his closing of the office and resigning? He took no questions and he mainly said the written report is the thing and we should read that and that alone. "The report is my testimony," etc. etc. I know there's a lot of chatter on the TV news channels, but they have to do that.

The Washington Post fact-checker gives 4 Pinocchios to the Planned Parenthood assertion that, before Roe v. Wade, "thousands" of American women died every year from illegal abortions.

The repeated assertions come from Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood:
“We face a real situation where Roe could be overturned. And we know what will happen, which is that women will die. Thousands of women died every year pre-Roe.”

“Before Roe v. Wade, thousands of women died every year — and because of extreme attacks on safe, legal abortion care, this could happen again right here in America.”

“We’re not going to go back in time to a time before Roe when thousands of women died every year because they didn’t have access to essential health care.”
Responding to "a reader" who asked for a fact check, Glenn Kessler writes:
Erica Sackin, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, directed us to a 2014 policy statement issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): “It is estimated that before 1973, 1.2 million U.S. women resorted to illegal abortion each year and that unsafe abortions caused as many as 5,000 annual deaths.”...

Wen is a doctor, and the ACOG is made up of doctors. They should know better than to peddle statistics based on data that predates the advent of antibiotics. Even given the fuzzy nature of the data and estimates, there is no evidence that in the years immediately preceding the Supreme Court’s decision, thousands of women died every year in the United States from illegal abortions....

Unsafe abortion is certainly a serious issue, especially in countries with inadequate medical facilities. But advocates hurt their cause when they use figures that do not withstand scrutiny. These numbers were debunked in 1969 — 50 years ago — by a statistician celebrated by Planned Parenthood. There’s no reason to use them today.
The commenters at WaPo rebel. The most-liked comment is:
This is a revolting misuse of a "fact check" function. How can Kessler do a fair "fact check" on a formerly illegal activity that admittedly has only "fuzzy numbers?" If thousands of women died in the 1930s from illegal abortion, that is a recent enough statistic in my mind. If 39 died, that's too much. Kessler deserves four Pinocchios for picking the wrong target
And there's a poll at the bottom of Kessler's column inviting readers to do their own rating of the statement in question. You're probably not surprised to hear that 42% of those who voted judged the statement to be true. Only 35% agreed with the 4 Pinocchio rating Kessler chose. I think there are a LOT of people out there whose idea of truth is what they want to be true.

What makes Biden Biden has been designated "creepy," and he's said he gets that, but deep inside, he believes in what to him feels like charm and lovability.

I know I don't really know how he feels deep inside. I'm just imagining. I'm also capable of imagining that — having been a politician all these years — he has no deep inside. There's just a superficial style and self-presentation, and it's become instinctive and habitual, and it's worked all these years. What else can the old man do? If you don't want his bundle of instincts, you don't want him, do you?

How will he go on — with antagonists everywhere looking to take his adorable moments and spin them into stuff like "CRINGE: Joe Biden gets handsy with young girl, says ‘I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking'" — which I'm reading this morning at Twitchy.

By the way, the word "cringe" originally meant "To contract the muscles of the body, usually involuntarily; to shrink into a bent or crooked position; to cower" (OED). It was about fear. It acquired the figurative meaning: "To experience an involuntary inward shiver of embarrassment, awkwardness, disgust, etc.; to wince or shrink inwardly; (hence) to feel extremely embarrassed or uncomfortable." It's used casually in political discussions, but if you picture the reaction — a sustained muscular contraction (meaning #1) or quick spasm felt only internally (meaning #2) — the person doing the cringing looks ridiculous.

It's a vivid word worn down by overuse. The OED's examples include this watered-down use from Time Magazine in 1993: "Privately, Clinton advisers cringed at the wreckage left behind by all the U-turns." It's like the Clinton advisers are looking at dead bodies in that car-wreck metaphor and shivering in horror.

But this is the emotional politics we've created for ourselves. It's the American culture. Do you feel comfortably part of it or are you, like me, feeling distanced and put off? I'm coolly observing all this by the way. Not shivering or spasming at all.


"As an avid spelunker and one who also ventures into dark underground places thought abandoned, the geek in me looked forward to this book. Alas..."

"... it never really conveyed the way I feel when in these places aside from a Rick Steves-tourist aspect. It's cool...we all see the world differently and maybe this book is for those who would never dream of going into the crawlspace under their house"/"I bought this book for my husband and it did not meet his expectations. He said it mainly covered the gruesome underground swampy creepy areas under cities. I expected that it dealt with underground facilities that were ancient but no."

Those are the 2 one-star reviews at Amazon for "Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet." I like to read one-star reviews of books that have, overall, great reviews. Sometimes the dissenter is right. A "Rick Steves-tourist aspect" felt like a serious warning, though "I bought this book for my husband and it did not meet his expectations" was not. What do I know about her husband? He sounds rather peevish. Let him buy his own books.

Ah, well. I bought the book anyway. I was moved to buy it after I stumbled into it while searching for another book with the title "Underground." There's also the highly praised novel "Underground Railroad" and the great classic "Alice's Adventures Underground."

I can't think why one would want to go on a reading spree of books with a distinctive word in the title, but maybe you've done that once. If so, what was your word? If not, and you had to do it, had to read 4 books with the same distinctive word in the title, what word would you choose? (Note: distinctive word. No joke answers in the "the" category.)

From the 1-star reviews of "Underground Railroad": "Readers are expected to credit a literal Underground Railroad; too feeble an authorial imagination for magic realism, so result is confusing anachronism"/"It is obvious that this book won the Pulitzer because of politics, not the quality of the writing. It was so disjointed. I also object to his altering of history such as portraying the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad. The story of slavery is poignant enough. I know it is a novel but there are some facts with which you should never take liberties!"

From the 1-star reviews of "Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche" (the book I was originally searching for): "this review has nothing to do with content, but im pretty furious that i have found MULTIPLE typos in the kindle version....."

May 28, 2019

At the Jack-in-the-Pulpit Café...


... you can talk all evening and into the night.

FROM THE COMMENTS: From Ingachuck'stoothlessARM: "Trump-like triphyllum ! look at that coif" (Ingachuck'stoothlessARM). Ha ha. We wondered if anyone would see it the way we did.

"I started keeping a log of funny things said, including, 'I saved some for Little Goo' (her sister), and 'can I have some mau to warm me?'"

"It turned out something I was initially ashamed of doing ultimately felt normal. Her current vocabulary for it is 'Mom can I have a teeny?,' as in 'a teeny sip.' When she asks for 'more teeny' it sounds exactly like 'martini' — to her, it’s always five o’clock somewhere.... What if more of us came out of our boxes and shared our stories? We’d evolve past harmful judgment — and have a few more laughs."

Writes Liza Monroy in "Breast-feeding a 3.5-year-old isn’t creepy, it’s hilarious" (WaPo).

"The court said it was taking no position on 'whether Indiana may prohibit the knowing provision of sex-, race-, and disability selective abortions by abortion providers.'"

"It said that since the 7th Circuit is the only appeals court to have considered the issue, 'we follow our ordinary practice of denying petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional courts of appeals.' Justice Clarence Thomas, in a 20-page statement, said the court will eventually have to decide the question of what he called 'eugenic abortions.' 'The Court’s decision to allow further percolation should not be interpreted as agreement' with the 7th Circuit, Thomas wrote. He included a long history of the birth-control movement. 'Enshrining a constitutional right to an abortion based solely on the race, sex, or disability of an unborn child, as Planned Parenthood advocates, would constitutionalize the views of the 20th-century eugenics movement. No other justice joined Thomas."

Writes Robert Barnes in "Supreme Court compromise on Indiana abortion law keeps issue off its docket" (WaPo).

I don't agree that preventing the state from looking into the minds of abortion-choosers "would constitutionalize the views of the 20th-century eugenics movement." It would only continue to constitutionalize the woman's right to make her own decision about going forward with a pregnancy and not impose an exception for when the decision is based on a reason that is legislatively designated as wrong. There are many bad reasons for having an abortion, and we could try to sort through what is good and what is bad, but the long-established right is to leave it to the one who is pregnant to go through the reasons and make a decision.

ADDED: I do think that the argument can be made that the case law establishes that there is one and only one reason that must be the reason for there to be a constitutional right to an abortion (other than to protect her own life or health): The woman must actually believe that what she is destroying is not a person.

"But I think I was a good dad. I wasn’t a great dad. The great dad... I can’t stand the great dad."

"They’re not even friends with you anymore. They’re so busy they don’t have time to get a cup of coffee. I can’t stand them. Go. Go be with your kid. Who gives a shit. So the great dads, they renounce their lives.... They bother me, the great dads."

Said Larry David, in one of the interviews in that Howard Stern book of interviews.

"Even the 'blogosphere' of the early 21st century, in which independently run blog sites posted items on news and responded both to Big Media stories and to each other..."

"... was more like traditional media in some respects than like Usenet or social media. To read content on blogs, readers had to go there. To interact, bloggers had to read each other’s sites and decide to post a response, generally with a link back to the post they were replying to. If you didn’t like a blog you could just ignore it. A story that spread like wildfire through the blogosphere still did so over the better part of a day, not over minutes, and it was typically pretty easy to find the original item and get context, something the culture of blogging encouraged.... In addition, a story’s spreading required at least a modicum of actual thought and consideration on the part of bloggers, who were also constrained, to a greater or lesser degree, by considerations of reputation. Some blogs served as trusted nodes on the blogosphere, and many other bloggers would be reluctant to run with a story that the trusted nodes didn’t believe. In engineering parlance, the early blogosphere was a 'loosely coupled' system, one where changes in one part were not immediately or directly transmitted to others. Loosely coupled systems tend to be resilient, and not very subject to systemic failures, because what happens in one part of the system affects other parts only weakly and slowly. Tightly coupled systems, on the other hand, where changes affecting one node swiftly affect others, are prone to cascading failures.... [On Twitter,] little to no thought is required, and in practice very few people even follow the link (if there is one) to 'read the whole thing.'"

I'm reading Glenn Reynolds's "The Social Media Upheaval," which just came out today. It's only 67 pages in Kindle, so I got halfway through it reading between sleeps in the middle of the night.

"It was nonstop ticks the whole time."

"Two dogs, three adults, one state park add up to 100 ticks in less than 24 hours" (Star Tribune).

ADDED: Just thinking about that story, I hallucinate ticks crawling on me!

IN THE COMMENTS: Tommy Duncan said, "Both my dog and I have had Lyme disease. It was a awful experience for both of us." That makes me want to link to this new NYT story, "Living With Lyme Disease, Stronger With Love/Brian Nicholson thought Brooke Geahan was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. He also knew that she was very ill." It's the "Vows" story of the week (that is, a wedding story). When the 2 met, the woman, who was 40, was already struggling with the disease:
A summer tick bite had dropped Ms. Geahan to a low beyond her imagining. Formerly wildly social, an avid tennis player, and a mainstay of New York City’s downtown literary scene, the illness kept her in her apartment for days at a time. At the Catskills house, she ensconced herself in a “sick fort,” wrapping herself in blankets and nesting into a couch with Paddington, her beloved rescue dog....

Mr. Nicholson felt a tinge smitten, but he was also a realist. “It’s crazy to think of someone that ill out of your league, but that’s what I felt,” he said. Instead he pinned his hopes on a possible friendship.

Ms. Geahan had zero energy for any starry-eyed attachment. “I was older than Brian, miserably sick, and broke from treating Lyme,” she said. “I was not a great catch.”...

One night, Mr. Nicholson exposed deeper feelings, but for Ms. Geahan, a relationship was still untenable. “I was a total freak who didn’t eat regular food, couldn’t drink, couldn’t exercise, couldn’t dance, and was stinging herself with bees every other day,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.”
There's something called "bee venom therapy." She had that, and she also had Salman Rushdie speaking at her wedding. He said: “It takes patience, understanding, determination, passion, tenderness, tough-mindedness, originality, desire, imagination, and love, above all, love.”

ALSO: In yesterday's post "Today, the heart of Facebook is blackish-purple," mocking Facebook's promotion of "groups," I wrote in the comments:
I actually am in 2 Facebook groups — both are about the place I lived when I went to high school. I joined them long ago. I considered, just now, joining some other groups. I was especially interested in the one about Wisconsin State Parks, but I considered joining one of the groups about Bob Dylan and one of the groups about anosmia. But the Dylan groups didn't follow the paths of interestingness I want to travel, and the anosmia group required you to request admission and I didn't feel like explaining myself. Actually the Wisconsin State Parks one, the only one I tried to join, requires them to accept you. If I'd realized that, I wouldn't have clicked "join." I don't like asking for acceptance. That's what I like about this blog!
Well, I was accepted into the Wisconsin State Parks group and, as a consequence, the first thing I saw was that "nonstop ticks" article. I followed my passion — going for walks in Wisconsin state parks — and the first thing that happened was passion-crushing. Facebook is evil.

"Several household employees also made allegations of neglect, including that Ms. [Peter] Max withheld food from her husband and sometimes put 'large Brazil nuts' in his smoothies, on which he might choke."

"Not everyone agreed with the portrayal of an abusive marriage. One court-appointed lawyer testified that Mr. Max 'stated several times, without prompting, how much he loved his wife' and that removing him from their home could be 'highly detrimental' to Mr. Max’s mental well-being... Mr. Max continued to travel to the studio... and sign works of art, even as his condition steadily worsened....  The artist’s dementia, [a gallery employee said], made Mr. Max even more creative and prolific... Luke Nikas, a top art lawyer in New York... did not dispute that Mr. Max suffered from dementia, and noted that the 20th-century Dutch-American artist Willem de Kooning also had the ailment and remained productive. He compared Mr. Max to Warhol and conceptual artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, who exert creative control but typically rely on others to paint or construct the art. 'Not a single work goes out the door without being hand signed by Peter Max,' Mr. Nikas said... One Wednesday evening in April, I showed up at Peter Max’s apartment.... I told Mr. Max that I was a Times reporter... He just shrugged, asked me several times what year it was and then told me that he had spent his childhood in Shanghai.... I wanted to ask him directly about his career and the drama of recent years, but now that I saw his confusion for myself, I didn’t attempt an interview. So I thanked him and turned to leave...."

From "Dementia Stopped a Major Artist From Painting. For Some, That Spelled a Lucrative Opportunity/Now Peter Max’s associates are trading lurid allegations of kidnapping, hired goons, attempted murder by Brazil nut and art fraud on the high seas" by Amy Chozick (NYT).

Did you know that paintings with the Peter Max signature are sold on all of the major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian, and Norwegian has a Peter Max-themed ship?

Didn't you love Peter Max 50 years ago? If you were around back then. If so, now you are old, and maybe you go on cruises and it would feel nice to go on a cruise on ship painted with Peter-Max-style art and to buy a painting that was signed "Max," and you'd hate to learn that not only was the painting done by someone else but that the signature was accomplished because the demented Mr. Max was "instructed to hold out his hand, and for hours, he would sign the art as if it were his own, grasping a brush and scrawling Max."

Oh, the happy cheerful bright colors! Peter Max was the picture of our youth. His art epitomized youthful optimism and energy. There's no going back, and now it seems he's the epitome of age. How old we all are! His decline reminds us. What year is it? We spent our childhood in Maxland.

ADDED: Here's CBS touting Max 4 years ago....

You do see him painting and hear him talking there. Do you detect dementia? There's something horribly phony about the "CBS This Morning" presentation. The pinchedly smiling face of Michelle Miller made me queasy.

May 27, 2019

At the Green-On-Green Café...


... you can talk all night.

"A British climber who died on the slopes of Mount Everest had warned of the dangers of huge queues for the summit just hours before his death."

"Robin Haynes Fisher died after reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain and is believed to be one of at least seven people to have died on the overcrowded slopes in just nine days. The deaths have sparked concerns over the large numbers of people scaling Everest, with images emerging of large queues up to the summit.... Mr Fisher and a sherpa reportedly reached the summit of Everest at around 8.30am on Saturday and had descended 150 metres when he fell unconscious and could not be revived."

Yahoo news reports.

Here's Fisher's Instagrammed warning:

View this post on Instagram

Climbed up to camp 3, 7500m but the jet stream had returned closing the summit after only 2 days so I descended to basecamp. Around 100 climbers did summit in those 2 days with sadly 2 deaths, an Indian man found dead in his tent at camp 4 and an Irish climber lost, assumed fallen, on his descent. A go fund me page has been set up for a rescue bid for the Irish climber but it is a well meaning but futile gesture. Condolences to both their friends and families. Both deaths happened above 8000m in the so called death zone where the majority of deaths of foreign climbers happen. Around 700 more people will be looking to summit from Tuesday the 21st onwards. My revised plan, subject to weather that at the moment looks promising, is to return up the mountain leaving basecamp Tuesday the 21st 0230 and, all being well and a lot of luck, arriving on the summit the morning of Saturday the 25th. I will be climbing with my Sherpa, Jangbu who is third on the all time list with an incredible 19 summits. The other 4 members of our team decided to remain on the mountain and are looking to summit on the 21st. My cough had started to return at altitude so I couldn’t wait with them at altitude for the window to open without the risk of physically deteriorating too much. Furthermore as I had missed due to sickness the earlier camp 3 rotation best practice was for me to descend to allow my body to recover from the new altitude high so I could come back stronger. This was not an easy decision as the 13 hours climbing from basecamp to camp 2 in a day was the hardest physical and mental challenge I had ever done, now I have it all to do again. Finally I am hopeful to avoid the crowds on summit day and it seems like a number of teams are pushing to summit on the 21st. With a single route to the summit delays caused by overcrowding could prove fatal so I am hopeful my decision to go for the 25th will mean fewer people. Unless of course everyone else plays the same waiting game. #everest #everest2019 #lhotseface

A post shared by Robin (@1c0n0clast22) on

From the comments there: "It sounds like you knew what was coming but chose to take the risk for reasons that most of us will never understand I sense the hesitation and concern in your voice and words...I hope your soul feels that it was worth it. #RIP"

"@ianbremmer now admits that he MADE UP 'a completely ludicrous quote,' attributing it to me. This is what’s going on in the age of Fake News."

"People think they can say anything and get away with it. Really, the libel laws should be changed to hold Fake News Media accountable!"

Tweeted Trump early this morning.

He's writing about something I addressed yesterday in "It's called satire."

Here's a WaPo article about it: "A political scientist caused confusion when he made up a Trump quote. The president noticed."

My problem wasn't with the political scientist mocking the President with an Onion-style made-up quote. It was with the stupid news media and commentators who pass it along as if it's real.

From the WaPo article:
The tweet, styled as a direct quote, was shared by some people who did not verify it. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and CNN contributor Ana Navarro-Cárdenas shared it....

Bremmer initially defended the tweet, writing that he believed it was both obviously ludicrous “and yet kinda plausible.”... But he apologized Monday as media coverage grew, saying he had made the quote in jest....

The ease with which misinformation spreads on social media remains a pressing problem as the 2020 presidential race gears up. Last week, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media companies allowed a video that was doctored to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appear drunk to be uploaded to the sites, where it was viewed millions of times.
Yeah, stop waiting for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to save you. Shame on the serious people who tweet while humor deaf. Comedy doesn't have to die that you might live in dignity. You deserve the exposure to embarrassment. You need to have the sense to notice that when something sounds bad, it might be humor. The solution is not for other people to stop making jokes while you expect Mama Facebook and Daddy Twitter to make the world safe for your stupidity.

"In optimistic appreciation of everyone's artistic potential, I am a staunch advocate of completing a book no matter how unenjoyable the experience may be."

I'm reconnecting with my old practice of reading 1-star reviews of books I have read and liked. The quote above is from a 1-star review of "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" (by Haruki Murakami).

I find this review super-quotable, because it doesn't say anything specific about this book.* Almost.**

The dissatisfied reviewer continues:
This book wanted to be picked up and desired with anticipatory giddiness, but it did not want to be read. In fact, it did everything it could beyond page 1 to be unpleasant.

Sometimes books take a little while to warm up; stretch the legs; get a lay of the land. This book demonstrated a game face no defense would worry over. Uninteresting background information, bland writing style, no "hook" to catch interest, etc. Right before giving up, I had the sense I was reading the first draft of somebody's daily journal recorded for their own personal posterity...never to see the light of day...some words to reflect on an average life--a life, by the way, that seemed like it was going to last 300 years. None of it was leading anywhere. I finally tapped out when a chapter started off with a paragraph about fish from a restaurant...not an eating contest, rare delicacy, celebrity sighting, or bad wait-service tale in sight....
I like the humor of asserting you're a "staunch advocate" of something and then proceeding to do complete opposite.

*It reminds me of the essay I wrote in 4th grade to be handed in the next time I did something wrong in school that earned the punishment of having to write an essay. It's hard to write well and generically, specifics being the usual spice of writing — it's always a girl in a white dress with a white parasol or something like that. It seems interesting because it's specific. Try being interesting without any specificity.... Dear teacher, I acknowledge and bewail the misdeed which I have grievously committed, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation. I am heartily sorry... Am I getting away with that? I'll just say that if you ever try and do seem to be getting away with it, do not laugh or brag.

**As you'll see if you read the indented text, there is the fish, and that's specific, but not that specific. Here's the paragraph that begins Chapter 2, where the dissatisfied reviewer tapped out because of the fish, the fish that didn't do anything:

"I do not see in religion the mystery of the incarnation, but the mystery of the social order; religion attaches to heaven an idea of equality that stops the rich from being massacred by the poor."

Said Napoleon, in 1804. I'm reading Napoleon quotes, just because Napoleon came up as part of the random jumble in the previous post.

"Amelia Brookins, object handler, arranges a poster of Bella Abzug to be photographed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History."

Photo caption at "The Smithsonian is digitizing political and military posters — 18,000 of them/More than 200 posters a day are being converted to make them more accessible to the public" (WaPo).

I like that job title, "object handler."

From the article:
Neither of the young Smithsonian object handlers knew of the formidable New York feminist and three-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Brookins said she had heard of Abzug, who died 21 years ago, for the “first time in the poster.”...

The Bella Abzug poster, in orange, black and white, shows her in one of her trademark hats, along with the slogan “This Woman’s Place is in the House . . . the House of Representatives!” (The Smithsonian also has one of her hats.)
You'll have to imagine the orange lettering:
Pictures really do help us to remember. Pictures of posters, posters that helped us to have an idea of the candidate at the time. The hat helped too. It's another visual (and the Smithsonian is preserving one of her hats). This woman really did imprint herself on the public by wearing a hat. She was the one with the hat.

These days, Trump is the one with a hat, and he imprinted himself on us by making his head distinctive not with a hat but with a very odd hairstyle.

Anyway, these kids today. They don't know much about history. But maybe if you give them some pictures, some glimmer will arise. And what do you really know about history? What's there in your odd head? Isn't it — to be fair — just some posters? Stuff like...
Oh, my. Does he looks like Trump?
It's so powerful, the visual. In the visual archive of my own head, there is John McCain leaning over and muttering the names of dictators in the ear of Amy Klobuchar at the Trump inaugural. Trump/dictator. It's connected.

And look at the hands... Trump has tiny hands... what is he hiding?
What does the candle mean? Why is it burning low? Look at the other hand, look at the objects... the pen, the sword, the orb...
We are all object handlers in the mind's visual archive.