June 8, 2019

At the Lake Shore Café...


... you can talk all night.

On April 10th, I challenged you to diagram a 153-word sentence from "Paradise Lost."

It all started with a weather report that used the word "haboob," which got me thinking about whether "haboob" is related to "hubbub." It's not. "Hubbub" comes (probably) from the ancient Irish war-cry "ub! ub! ubub!" Looking "hubbub" up in the OED, I came across a snippet from "Paradise Lost": "A universal hubbub wilde Of stunning sounds and voices all confus'd." I wanted the complete sentence and found what I thought was the whole thing, a passage 153 words long.

Today, I get an email from Clark who says, "I have been noodling your sentence from Paradise Lost. Here is my attempt." He informs me that the 153-word text in my post is not the full sentence. There's an opening clause, and it seems to have been harder to diagram the sentence without these additional 30 words. Here's the diagram Clark sent me (click and click again to enlarge and clarify):


Here's the full 183 word passage from John Milton's magnificent poem.

"You have to go all the way back to President Harry Truman to find a president who even participated in the formal Washington celebration."

"(In 1951, Mr. Truman spoke from the Washington Monument about the progress of the Korean War.) In 1970, during the fractious era of Vietnam, President Richard Nixon videotaped remarks to be shown on the Mall. Other leaders have largely remained out of the picture, visiting troops or attending naturalization ceremonies or hosting bipartisan picnics on the South Lawn of the White House.... Mr. Trump, by contrast, cares not at all about public unity...."

Writes Michelle Cottle in "Trump Hijacks the 4th of July/The president decided that the one thing missing from the capital’s celebration was himself" (NYT), and I wonder how much she cares about public unity. Because I'm not feeling it. I mean, what's so bad about being like Harry Truman? It might be bad to "hijack" the occasion to propagandize about a war, and yet the 4th of July is kind of about enthusiasm about fighting wars. Those fireworks represent bombs bursting in air, don't they? Anyway, I think it's a good gesture to show up, if you do it the right way. It could be overly self-centered, but it doesn't have to be. I can be done in an appropriate scale and tone. We don't say Presidents "hijack" Easter when they do those egg roll events. Could everyone just calm down?

"Jeopardy!" genius James Holzhaeur — amusingly modest on Twitter — adopts a Weird Al "I Lost on Jeopardy" avatar.

I just noticed this:

I went to his feed to look for this (also amusingly modest):

And here's the great Weird Al parody of a song no one would remember without the parody (but is actually cheesily enjoyable):

The Weird Al song predates the Alex Trebek version of the ancient game show. And:
The song has been referenced several times on the game show itself, including once as a category on the current Alex Trebek-hosted version, and later when Yankovic appeared on Rock & Roll Jeopardy!....

The video takes place on a re-creation of the original set from the 1964-75 version of the quiz show Jeopardy! (for some reason, the exclamation point used in the show's original logo was missing). The video also depicted a "behind-the-scenes" look at the show, and featured cameo appearances by original Jeopardy! host Art Fleming and announcer Don Pardo, Yankovic's mentor, Dr. Demento, members of Yankovic's band, his real-life parents and a brief cameo by Greg Kihn [writer of the original song, "(Our Love's in) Jeopardy"] at the end....

Yankovic lands in the back seat of an Alfa Romeo Spyder convertible driven by Kihn himself, with the license plate reading "LOSER". In the original ["(Our Love's in) Jeopardy" video, Kihn drives away with a female bride in an MG MGB convertible, with the license plate reading "LIPS"...

"With Venezuela in collapse, towns slip into primitive isolation."

A Reuters headline.
At the once-busy beach resort of Patanemo, tourism has evaporated.... These days, its Caribbean shoreline flanked by forested hills receives a different type of visitor: people who walk 10 minutes from a nearby town carrying rice, plantains or bananas in hopes of exchanging them for the fishermen’s latest catch....

“The fish that we catch is to exchange or give away,” said Yofran Arias, one of 15 fishermen who have grown accustomed to a rustic existence even though they live a 15-minute drive from Venezuela’s main port of Puerto Cabello. “Money doesn’t buy anything so it’s better for people to bring food so we can give them fish,” he said, while cleaning bonefish, known for abundant bones and limited commercial value....

“I haven’t been to the city center in almost two years. What would I do there? I don’t have enough (money) to buy a shirt or a pair of shorts,” said a fisherman in Patanemo who identified himself only as Luis. “I’m better off here swapping things to survive.”...

In the mountains of the central state of Lara, residents of the town of Guarico this year found a different way of paying bills - coffee beans. Residents of the coffee-growing region now exchange roasted beans for anything from haircuts to spare parts for agricultural machinery....
Inflation is more than a million percent. The "primitive isolation" is a barter economy. They have absolutely no money.

Here's an article from 2016 in The Atlantic, "The Myth of the Barter Economy/Adam Smith said that quid-pro-quo exchange systems preceded economies based on currency, but there’s no evidence that he was right."
The man who arguably founded modern economic theory, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, popularized the idea that barter was a precursor to money.
In Venezuela, barter is a successor to money, which is some evidence that barter was a precursor to money, but this Atlantic writer, Ilana Strauss, questions whether human beings really ever lived without currency:
[V]arious anthropologists have pointed out that this barter economy has never been witnessed as researchers have traveled to undeveloped parts of the globe.
That was back in 2016.
“No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money,” wrote the Cambridge anthropology professor Caroline Humphrey in a 1985 paper. “All available ethnography suggests that there never has been such a thing.”...

When barter has appeared, it wasn’t as part of a purely barter economy, and money didn’t emerge from it—rather, it emerged from money. After Rome fell, for instance, Europeans used barter as a substitute for the Roman currency people had gotten used to.
So barter as a successor to money doesn't tend to show that barter was ever a precursor to money....

Own... rent... it's all a state of mind, isn't it?

I'm reading "They See It. They Like It. They Want It. They Rent It. Owning nothing is now a luxury, thanks to a number of subscription start-ups" (NYT):
Many young American urbanites have resigned themselves to a life of non-ownership, abandoning the dream of their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents before them, often out of financial necessity. But renting isn’t just a matter of necessity these days. It’s become almost posh....

“We were raised to save and invest and buy a home and do all of these things,” said Miki Reynolds, 38, who pays a monthly fee for much of what she uses in her day-to-day life in Los Angeles. “But my mentality to currently rent — it’s not YOLO. It’s more living in the present as much as planning for the future because I feel like nothing is guaranteed.”...

“I want nice things, but I’m also not going to drop thousands of dollars all at once on a bunch of things when I don’t know in a year if I’m going to be in the same place,” [said Lili Morton, 36, who recently moved to Seattle from New York].... “I’m going to get a facial or a massage or get my hair blown out,” she said, “things that make me feel good and happy, rather than some impulse purchase that makes you feel good for a bit but maybe you get tired of it.”
The NYT presents this as a youthful change, but the big change is all these services that make it easy to rent different kinds of things. And it's not just for the young, is it?

This is also something us Baby Boomers might want. Get rid of all the accumulated stuff — Marie Kondo the hell out of your life — unload the real estate and move somewhere with no idea if in a year you're going to be in the same place.

Permanence is an illusion, and if you like that illusion, you can bolster it with an ownership relationship to your things, but you can embrace and highlight impermanence through rental.

And these rental services are there to help (and to employ both Miki Reynolds and Lili Morton, you'll see if you look closely).

This subject calls to mind the old joke: "You don't buy beer, you rent it." It's funny (or was funny, when it was funny) because of the graphic depiction of impermanence. You have paid and you think you own what you bought, but it is only flowing through you. You can't hold onto that beer or, in the long run, anything else. If that troubles you, raise your spirits with a certificate of ownership.

What is it time to start worrying about?

Click to enlarge and clarify:

The headlines on the front page of the Washington Post are: "U.S. and Mexico reach deal, averting tariffs, Trump says," "U.S. hiring slows sharply as trade war starts to bite," and "Perspective: It’s time to start worrying about the economy." Maybe later this morning the "perspective" will change. Or perhaps I should worry that Trump is lying about a deal with Mexico. Is he just manipulating the perspective?

From the "U.S. and Mexico reach deal" piece:
The agreement, which came just two days before Trump had vowed to impose a 5 percent, across-the-board tariff on one of the United States’ top trading partners, called for the Mexican government to widely dispatch its national guard forces to help with immigration enforcement, with priority in the south, on its border with Guatemala, according to a joint statement.

In addition, the two countries would expand a program known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), created this year, that allows the United States to return Central American migrants to Mexico while they await the adjudication of their asylum hearings in U.S. immigration court, a process that can take months....

On Friday, Mexican finance officials said they had frozen the bank accounts of 26 people because of their alleged involvement in human trafficking, another sign of escalating enforcement efforts....
I see that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has tweeted about the agreement as well,  but Chuck Schumer, WaPo tells us, "reacted sarcastically":
“This is an historic night! @realDonaldTrump has announced that he has cut a deal to ‘greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico, and into the United States,’ ” Schumer wrote on Twitter. “Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”
So he's telling us to worry that it's a phony claim of a deal — fake news. Or does he sound like a sarcastic jerk, hearing about progress dealing with a problem and snarking about how it's not actually completely solved? But what's the poor man to do? His party suffers if there is an immigration problem and if Trump has any success solving it. Oh, I don't know, he could be gracious and hopeful.

Here's the top-rated comment at WaPo, which went up 20 hours ago on a version of the article that did not include Trump's announcement of the deal: "My opinion: There are not going to be any tariffs on Mexico. There never were going to be any tariffs on Mexico. Mexico will change something, Trump will proclaim victory and the charade will be over."

That's prescient, except to the extent that the charade will never be over.

June 7, 2019

At the Friday Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

Nice things.

The quasi-religion of New York Magazine clickbait is making me uneasy and a little sad.

Just 2 things I'm seeing on the front page of New York Magazine right now...

I'm not recommending reading these. I haven't clicked through. I'm just contemplating the meaning and the emptiness.

"I’ve never owned a crop top before and I was nervous at first about wearing it but my husband loved the way it looked on me and encouraged me to wear it since I liked it so much."

"I really felt cute in it and now I never wanna wear that shirt again even though it was the first time I ever wore it and I felt good about my self in it."

Says a woman who wore a crop top, quoted in a Daily News article that's mainly about men in crop tops, "Just in time for summer, crop tops for men are coming into style." Of course, it's a bad idea. I'm just quoting her a propos of the "wife guy" phenomenon, noted yesterday.

Photos at the link.

Biden bullied into supporting federal money for abortions.

I'm reading "In reversal, Biden opposes ban on federal money for abortion" (AP).

I thought the whole point of Biden was that he was the one that other people would vote for. If he squares up his positions with the other Democratic candidates, the Biden's reason for being a candidate collapses.

I was going to say the Democrats are screwing up their "other people" reasoning, but I see that it's pretty clever of all the non-Biden candidates to lure him into surrendering his big advantage. Well played!

NPR people are way too jazzed up about a "transcranial direct current stimulation" device.

This is a very cutesy video that sort of acts like these characters are doing a scientific test, while also admitting — twice — that it's "unscientific":

What is NPR for? This seems like a 10 minute ad for a dicey product. The NPR reporter, Elise Hu, purports to want to know how an actual athlete would respond to the product, and then we get to hear from an athlete who is sponsored by the manufacturer! The athlete says, "To me, like, all of a sudden, it was just like everything was a lot easier for me." Later, Hu interviews the co-founder of the company, who, we're told, thinks his product could "actually increase our life span." She invites us to worry about the inequities that might emerge if humans get "upgraded too much."

I watched this so you don't have to. It's 9 minutes, so I'm not recommending it. Maybe scroll to the part I think is most ridiculous, the interview with the co-founder, which begins at 5:50.

This style of ultra-perky video is just atrocious, but it must work on someone. And I'm sending hits their way, so I'm probably encouraging it.

"Despite all of these alluring architectural features, folks in Madison still moan, 'oh, the Humanities (Building)!' or call it a 'munitions plant from some bleak dystopian fiction.'"

"Brutalism often gets dismissed as the most hated or ugliest architectural style... To people coming of age during the height of the style's popularity, Brutalist buildings were ready symbol of the establishment that spawned protests and punk songs. Folks of that generation perhaps started the 'Brutalism is ugly' myth, taking Brutalist buildings as symbols of the cold bureaucracy, ignoring the human-scale articulation and thoughtful formal elements that are characteristic of the style. But the progressive, utopian, often socialist ideals that Brutalism also represents are back in vogue for today's young people. The resurgence of the left, in combination with the fact that Brutalist buildings' bare concrete exteriors look great on Instagram, could be fueling a renaissance of the style. Brutalism is back, baby!"

From "Towards an appreciation of Brutalism: Or, the Humanities Building is very good/Madison's most-maligned structure embodies a misunderstood, utopian school of architecture" by Mary Dahlman Begley (Tone).

Here's the "look great on Instagram" link, so judge for yourself if Brutalism looks great in Instagram's glossy little squares. I've experienced walking-around life with that Humanities Building for more than 30 years, and it's pretty horrible, but maybe I'm just a creature of the age group that hates it. I've walked by and through it many times, and I've done figure drawing sessions in the gloomy top floor where (I seem to remember) the windows are at ankle level. It will be very disruptive to tear it down, and maybe it is wrong to tear down a monument, even if you believe it's a monument to ugliness.

Thanks to our regular commenter David Begley for sending me that link. I don't know if I'd ever noticed Tone before. Here's another article there: "Madison dodged a monorail grift and barely even noticed" by Scott Gordon. We talked about that crazy thing a few days ago — here. Gordon writes:
In most of Transit X's renderings, and a hilariously bad video the company produced, the pods seem to be about 15 feet above ground and improbably tiny, looking more like weird oblong suitcases than passenger cars holding multiple people. The sense of scale here is severely off. City staff, perhaps fearing decapitation by massive black jellybeans, have wisely advised that we stick to the plan to bring bus rapid transit to Madison.
The video, at the link, is indeed hilarious.

"It was around this time that I started separating the alphabet into good letters, V as well as M, and bad letters, S, F and T, plus the terrible vowel sounds..."

"... open and mysterious and nearly impossible to wrangle. Each letter had a degree of difficulty that changed depending upon its position in the sentence. Much later when I read that Nabokov as a child assigned colors to letters, it made sense to me that the hard G looked like 'vulcanized rubber' and the R, 'a sooty rag being ripped.' My beloved V, in the Nabokovian system, was a jewel-like 'rose quartz.'"

From "My Stutter Made Me a Better Writer/At times it caused suffering, but it also gave me a passion for words and language" by Darcey Steinke (NYT).

"While singing along to a rap song in Kloey’s car, Grace, who is white, used a hateful racial slur for what she said was the very first time."

"Kloey, also white, posted the photo on Snapchat to commemorate the occasion, spelling out the slur in the caption.... Kloey’s post helped set off a violent clash the following Monday that involved students, teachers and police officers. The scuffle ended with a black 16-year-old girl being tackled and arrested. That prompted the school’s handful of black students to demand that the school take on its culture of racism. Their efforts led to messy, uncomfortable conversations that would have seemed impossible not long ago. Sitting in a Mexican cafe three months after the unrest, Kloey struggled to explain why she had felt so comfortable using the racial slur. Maybe it was because she had a relative who would sometimes use the word when talking about black people and then laugh, she said, so it did not seem meanspirited. Perhaps it was ignorance or selfishness, she said. 'I think it comes from a place of racism,' said Abang, the girl who was tackled and arrested, recalling that she had told Kloey back in middle school not to say the word, but that she had continued to say it anyway.... To make matters worse, after Kloey’s post had gone viral, two more Snapchat posts by other white students, both using the same offensive racial slur, began to circulate that day. One was from a white student who posted a selfie flashing his middle finger, with a caption that accused Owatonna’s black students of 'playing the black card.'"

From "Few Talked About Race at This School. Then a Student Posted a Racist Slur./When white students at a Minnesota school posted a slur to Snapchat, black classmates demanded action. Their efforts led to uncomfortable conversations about race" (NYT).

"There's only one 'Tom Terrific,' and that's Tom Seaver."

Said Congressman Peter King, complaining about Tom Brady's application for a trademark on the name "Tom Terrific," BBC reports.

All honor and respect to Tom Seaver, but if you want to say there's only one Tom Terrific, it's this guy:

That was part of the "Captain Kangaroo" TV show in the late 50s and early 60s. Wikipedia:
Drawn in a simple black-and white style reminiscent of children's drawings, it featured a gee-whiz boy hero, Tom Terrific, who lived in a treehouse and could transform himself into anything he wanted thanks to his magic, funnel-shaped "thinking cap," which also enhanced his intelligence. He had a comic lazybones of a sidekick, Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog, and an arch-foe named Crabby Appleton, whose motto was, "I'm rotten to the core!" Other foes included Mr. Instant the Instant Thing King; Captain Kidney Bean; Sweet Tooth Sam the Candy Bandit; and Isotope Feeney the Meany....
"Terrific" is an old-fashioned word of praise. It felt old-fashioned when it was used for Tom Seaver half a century ago, and Brady doesn't really want to be called that. He says he doesn't like it, and I believe him. I presume he's simply trying to prevent other people from profiting off of his brand.

By the way, "terrific" originally meant causing terror. In "Paradise Lost," there's "The Serpent... with brazen Eyes And hairie Main terrific." "Terrific" became "an enthusiastic term of commendation" in the late 19th century. (I'm quoting the unlinkable OED.)

I almost never use the word. I associate it with FDR, whose last words were, "I have a terrific headache." I can't say I've never used the word. I once said a cartoonist had "a terrific drawing style," and I've blogged about other people using the word, notably: 1. the woman who was thrown clear of the car wreck that killed Jackson Pollock, who wrote that she and Andy Warhol had "a terrific crush on each other," and 2. the WaPo columnist who wrote in 2013, "Barack Obama has what it takes to be a terrific law student. It’s less clear those are the ingredients of a successful president."

June 6, 2019

At the Deeply Purple Café...


... you can stay up all night.

"It didn’t feel right to explain that women these days were trying not to use that word metaphorically."

Writes Vanessa Grigoriadis in "Madonna at Sixty/The original queen of pop on aging, inspiration and why she refuses to cede control" by Vanessa Grigoriadis (NYT), referring to "I felt raped" in this context:
She told me she wasn’t yet over the release of her last album, “Rebel Heart,” in 2015, which sold less than her others. The songs had leaked online several months early, far from perfection. “There are no words to describe how devastated I was,” she said. “It took me a while to recover, and put such a bad taste in my mouth I wasn’t really interested in making music.” She added, “I felt raped.”
It's a long article. Some nice photos too. I just want to pick out this bit about Harvey Weinstein:
“Harvey crossed lines and boundaries and was incredibly sexually flirtatious and forward with me when we were working together; he was married at the time, and I certainly wasn’t interested,” she said. She added: “I was aware that he did the same with a lot of other women that I knew in the business. And we were all, ‘Harvey gets to do that because he’s got so much power and he’s so successful and his movies do so well and everybody wants to work with him, so you have to put up with it.’ So that was it. So when it happened, I was really like, ‘Finally.’ I wasn’t cheering from the rafters because I’m never going to cheer for someone’s demise. I don’t think that’s good karma anyway. But it was good that somebody who had been abusing his power for so many years was called out and held accountable.”
And this about Donald Trump, who has claimed "She called and wanted to go out with him, that I can tell you." (Don't let the "him" confuse you. That was back when Trump would call up reporters and identify himself as "John Miller," Trump's publicist.)
What she remembered was talking to him on the phone in Florida. “I did a Versace campaign with Steven Meisel at his house in Palm Beach,” she said. He kept calling to talk to her. “He kept going: ‘Hey, is everything O.K.? Finding yourself comfortable? Are the beds comfortable? Is everything good? Are you happy?’ ”
She said that Trump had a weak character but that this wasn’t a surprise for an alpha male. “They’re overcompensating for how insecure they feel — a man who is secure with himself, a human who is secure with themselves, doesn’t have to go around bullying people all the time.” What about alpha women, I asked? “It’s the same,” she said. “It’s good to be strong, but again, it’s always about, where’s that strength coming from? What are your intentions? What is the context that you’re using your strength in? Are you abusing your power? Women can also abuse their power. And if that’s also backed up by a lack of intelligence, emotional or intellectual, a lack of life experience, a lack of compassion, then it’s really a bad mixture.”
ADDED: Instagramming in response to Grigoriadis's chiding about the metaphorical use of "rape," Madonna says: "It makes me feel raped. And yes I'm allowed to use that analogy having been raped at the age of 19." She has other complaints as well:

Madame ❌ on the cover of N.Y.T. Magazine photographed by my dear friend @jr..........Also sharing my fav photo that never made it in, along with pre-shoot chat and a celebratory glass of wine 🍷 after many hours of work! To say that I was disappointed in the article would be an understatement- It seems. You cant fix society And its endless need to diminish, Disparage or degrade that which they know is good. Especially strong independent women. The journalist who wrote this article spent days and hours and months with me and was invited into a world which many people dont get to see, but chose to focus on trivial and superficial matters such as the ethnicity of my stand in or the fabric of my curtains and never ending comments about my age which would never have been mentioned had I been a MAN! Women have a really hard time being the champions of other women even if. they are posing as intellectual feminists. Im sorry i spent 5 minutes with her. It makes me feel raped. And yes I’m allowed to use that analogy having been raped at the age of 19. Further proof that the venerable N.Y.T. Is one of the founding fathers of the Patriarchy. And I say—-DEATH TO THE PATRIARCHY woven deep into the fabric of Society. I will never stop fighting to eradicate it. 💔
A post shared by Madonna (@madonna) on

"A 'wife guy' is not just a husband. He is a man who has risen to prominence online by posting content about his wife...."

"A man posting about his wife on the internet is usually banal, so it is almost impressive when he has managed to make it appear, instead, ludicrous. The wife guy defines himself through a kind of overreaction to being married. His wife hurt herself, and he filmed it. He is sexually attracted to his wife, and he talks about it as if he were some kind of hero. The wife guy is a mutation of the 'Instagram husband,' the man who exists to take flattering photos of his wife, except that the wife guy is no longer content behind the scenes. He is crafting a whole persona around being that guy. He married a woman, and now that is his personality.... The wife guy... exhibits a heady combination of privilege and desperation. In this way, he feels related to the incel (short for 'involuntary celibate'), the guy who has crafted a whole online persona around his nonexistent sex life. But where the incel acts entitled to a relationship with a woman, the wife guy seems to expect to be congratulated for entering into one, sometimes with literal rewards.... The wife guy is interesting precisely because he heightens the many contrasts of modern hetero masculinity. Although getting married is increasingly associated with adulthood, the wife guy acts like a child. Though heterosexual marriage is a more traditional choice than ever, he postures as if it is a progressive triumph...."

From "The Age of the Internet ‘Wife Guy’/He’s not just a husband. The wife guy married a woman, and now that is his personality — perhaps even his job" by Amanda Hess (NYT).

Here's an example of a "wife guy." This is embedded in the article, but I know you can't all get through the pay wall. I'm putting this here for your convenience, not because I was amused or found it particularly interesting. Meade watched it and said it's "well done":

"It is legal for someone as young as 12 to request and receive euthanasia, as long as the parents give their permission, according to Dutch law."

"For those 16 to 18, parents must be aware of the request but their permission is not necessary....  [Steven] Pleiter, the director of the end-of-life clinic in The Hague, said that gaining approval for euthanasia was a complex process. After the clinic receives a request, he said, it is reviewed, with doctors and nurses making home visits and conducting multiple interviews. Every person seeking euthanasia must meet criteria set by Dutch law, which include ensuring that the request is voluntary, that the person is in unbearable suffering with a poor prognosis that shows no improvement, and that he or she is mentally able to understand the process and its consequences.... The clinic received 2,600 euthanasia requests in 2018 — 27 percent to 28 percent of them were from mentally ill patients, according to Mr. Pleiter. Of the 727 patients who were euthanized last year, about 50 were patients with mental health problems, he said."

From "Dutch Teenager’s Death Sets Off Debate, and Media Corrections" (NYT). The teenager, Noa Pothoven, was not, contrary to news reports, given this Dutch euthanasia. She asked for it but was denied for reasons that are not disclosed. She died, we're now told, by her own action of ceasing to eat or drink. It sounds as though she was with her family and under medical care when she died but no lethal injection was delivered by a doctor. Her mother is quoted as having said, before the death, "Noa doesn’t want this life anymore. She just longs for peace."

ADDED: A few important details from the BBC report:

1. The "friends and family want people to know that she did not die of euthanasia" and want their privacy respected. I presume they are not happy about the criticism they received after the way the story was originally told.

2. After Noa Pothoven stopped eating, she was force fed through a tube for a while, but "[e]ventually her family accepted her wish to die, so they stopped forcing her to stay alive and instead used palliative care to make her final days as peaceful and bearable as possible." There seems to have been "palliative sedation... to alleviate suffering" as she died. This is easy to confuse with euthanasia, but it's not the same as the euthanasia procedure described above.

3. The girl's own refusal to eat is considered the cause of death. The use "palliative drugs" to ease a path to death when force-feeding is still a way back to life could be characterized as euthanasia, but it's not that official process defined in Dutch law. The Royal Dutch Medical Association is anxious to communicate this distinction: "Under Dutch law, euthanasia is defined as the active termination of life, by a physician, at a patients voluntary and well informed request... on persons who suffer unbearably from a medical condition." Accepting that a person is committing suicide and not actively intervening to save her is not euthanasia as defined in Dutch law, even if drugs are given to ease the pain.

4. The parents blame the Dutch authorities for making her wait "more than a year" to get treatment for her eating disorder. When she finally got treatment, it was intense — including an induced coma with tube feeding. The BBC article does not go into the difference that might have been made if she had received treatment for anorexia much earlier or the psychological effect of forcing a tube into a person who was traumatized by rape.

"People who get easily outraged are the stupidest people on social media... It's just very low-level thinking. These are the foot-soldiers in the mob..."

This is a long and very high-quality podcast. I clipped out one part that I especially liked:

"Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site."

"As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies."

Tweeted YouTube, quoted in "YouTube is refusing to punish a star with millions of fans after he hurled homophobic slurs at a journalist" (Business Insider).

Thanks to YouTube for taking the strong free-speech position. Let us hear and decide for ourselves what we think of insults. Don't overprotect us, or we will become children.

ADDED: I was running off as I wrote this post, so I didn't get to 2 topics that commenters are talking about:

1. YouTube doesn't just allow people on and kick people off; it also monetizes and demonetizes. Different considerations arise, and I understand advertisers not wanting their product juxtaposed with, say, homophobic slurs. I used to work in an ad agency in the 1970s, and I remember putting it in the contract that an ad for an airline wouldn't run next to a story about an airplane crash. Placement of ads matters, and YouTube is selling ad space and needs to be able to present advertisers with places where they want their ads, not just flow money to video providers based on the size of the audience. Nasty speech can grab a lot of eyeballs. There need not be an automatic cash reward for that.

2. The use of the word I've been talking about for 2 days — here and here — "deeply." I think "deeply offensive" is the worst of the deeply phrases. And frankly, I don't think the purported deep offense here and elsewhere is that deep. In fact I think it's damned shallow. Deeply shallow.

Linda Greenhouse has noticed "a meme in conservative media" that liberals are using the idea of the Supreme Court's "legitimacy" to flip John Roberts to the liberal side.

She says, in "Who Cares About the Supreme Court’s ‘Legitimacy’?" (NYT).
“There’s a wooing going on,” David French warned in National Review in March under the headline “The Temptation of John Roberts.” His focus was not the census case but abortion and the Mueller report. “According to this construct,” Mr. French wrote, “it’s Roberts the ideologue who would vote to restrict abortion rights. It’s Roberts the conservative who would back the Trump administration. But a chief justice who cared about the institution of the Supreme Court? Well, he guards Roe. He checks Trump.”

In The Wall Street Journal last month, under the headline “John Roberts’s ‘Illegitimate’ Court,” the newspaper’s editorial columnist, William McGurn, wrote: “For those not fluent in modern Beltway, let us translate: It’s a threat, aimed at John Roberts. If the chief justice does not produce the desired progressive outcome, the Roberts court will find itself attacked as institutionally illegitimate.” This week, The Journal’s editorial board took aim at the new development in the census case under the headline “Census Target: John Roberts.” “Whenever you read ‘legitimacy’ in a sentence about the court, you know it’s a political missile aimed directly at Chief Justice John Roberts.”...

[T]he steady flow of right-wing commentary mocking concerns about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy (and I readily admit to having added my voice to those concerns) leaves me with this thought: What about the other justices? Why is it assumed on the right that Chief Justice Roberts is the only conservative on the court who has its welfare in view and who worries about the loss of public confidence if the justices come to be seen as mere politicians in robes?

Maybe the question answers itself....
No, the question shouts out, I'm not the question!

And the "right-wing commentary" is not "mocking concerns about the Supreme Court’s legitimacy." Everyone on the Court is concerned about its "legitimacy," a concept that includes, among other things, a lot of fretting about whether the Court will be perceived as deserving the power it wields, which is, ironically, a very political concern.

"Legitimacy" is a category of rhetoric, and everyone uses it. The most frustrating thing for liberals is that non-lawyer people tend to think that the conservative approach to constitutional interpretation is the right way to do it and that the liberals seem to want to use the courts as an alternative to the legislative process.

The wooing of Chief Justice Roberts that Greenhouse quotes is an effort to get the legitimacy talk working in the liberal direction. It's not a new subject. It's a big, long, old conversation.

"Today we remember those who fell and we honor all who fought right here in Normandy. They won back this ground for civilization."

"To more than one hundred and seventy veterans of the Second World War who join us today – you are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic.... To the men who sit behind me, your example will never grow old. Your legend will never die. The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made, did not just win a battle, it did not just win a war… they won the survival of our civilization."

Trump, today, at Normandy.

Polls are feeding the delusion that Biden is the one Democrat who can defeat Trump.

Things like this will skew rational Trump-haters to embrace Biden (click to enlarge and clarify):

The support for Biden is so much about imagining what other people want. And a poll like that reinforces the belief that other people will reject all non-Biden Democrats, and Biden is the neutral Democrat, the one who won't trigger aversion in others.

Trump is "really unpopular" and "deep underwater" in some states he needs for 2020.

According to Vox.

Did Vox read my attack on the word "deeply" (here, yesterday)? Well, "deep underwater" does seem to fit with the childish "really unpopular."

And the truth is, "deep" is an adverb, which is one more reason to be irritated by "deeply." The OED finds "deep," the adverb, all the way back to the year 1000. Chaucer used it — "And swore so depe to hire to be trewe." Shakespeare used it — "That Fooles should be so deepe contemplatiue." Pope used it — "A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring." Let's keep going! There's Oliver Goldsmith — " To tie him up..from playing deep." Sir Walter Scott — "An hundred dogs bayed deep and strong." Charles Lamb — "The reason..scarcely goes deep enough into the question."

And yet the OED itself calls "deep," the adverb, obsolete when qualifying an adjective (which is what is going on with "deep underwater"). There's an exception for adjectives for colors. It sounds wrong to say "She wore a deeply blue dress" and right to say "She wore a deep blue dress" (even though we might logically think that the dress was deep). "Deep" as an adverb modifying a verb isn't wrong. Would you say "We went deep into the forest" or "We went deeply into the forest"? "Deeply" has pretty much taken over, but John Milton wrote (in "Paradise Lost"):
Oh, conscience! into what abyss of fears
And horror has thou driven me; out of which
I find no way, from deep to deeper plunged!
Yes, Trump is still President, still not impeached, and still — don't we all know? — likely to win in 2020. He's gathering strength there in the abyss, deep underwater, whatever those paltry polls have to say.

June 5, 2019

At the Wednesday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Life isn't about finding yourself — or finding anything. Life is about creating yourself."

The news is nicely boring this morning, isn't it?

That's nothing to complain about. I like boring.

Just yesterday, I was thinking again of a quote I'd blogged a couple months ago: "People soon get tired of things that aren’t boring, but not of what is boring."

I think that was because Meade sent me this quote from Aldous Huxley: "Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty - his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure."

It makes me think of the idea that in China, the curse is "May you live in interesting times." Here's the Wikipedia article on the subject:
Despite being so common in English as to be known as the "Chinese curse," the saying is apocryphal, and no actual Chinese source has ever been produced.... The nearest related Chinese expression is 寧為太平犬,莫做亂離人; nìng wéi tàipíng quǎn, mò zuò luàn lí rén; which is usually translated as "Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a human in a chaotic (warring) period."...

The basic premise of the curse may also be found in a quote by the German philosopher Hegel: “World history is not the ground of happiness. The periods of happiness are empty pages in her.”...

Research by philologist Garson O'Toole shows a probable origin in the mind of Austen Chamberlain's father Joseph Chamberlain dating around the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Specifically, O'Toole cites the following statement Joseph made during a speech in 1898: “I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. (Hear, hear.) I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety. (Hear, hear.) [emphasis added]”

From this it is likely that the Chamberlain family may have inadvertently transmitted a folk etymology by expanding Joseph Chamberlain's use of the concept to refer to some Chinese curse.

"I asked the traffic officer, why people taking pictures and he said, ‘You don’t watch TV? That’s a famous guy.'"

From "Woman involved in Tracy Morgan Bugatti crash speaks out: ‘I got scared'" (NY Post).

Famous guy... and a $2-million car.

It's not clear to me which driver is to blame for this fender-bender, but judge for yourself whether the lady had reason to be scared:

Tune in, turn on, drop out — with Hillary Clinton. Listen to the colors of your mind.

I'm reading Architectural Digest's Step Inside Bill and Hillary Clinton's Deeply Personal Washington, D.C., Home." Deeply personal? Is that even possible
Ms. Clinton’s mother, Dorothy Rodham, partnered with her daughter in selecting most of the furnishings and landing on just the right paint and patterns... “Both my mother and I love color, and you can see, we have a lot of color in the house that came from our collaboration.”... “I have to say, it was a very nice refuge from my life in the Senate,” says Ms. Clinton of the process. “I’d come home or I’d get sent color samples, or fabric swatches, or pictures of furniture, and it was a nice way to turn one part of my brain off and turn the other on.”
Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.

From the slideshow...
An anteroom ahead of the kitchen, this nook is used for informal meetings.... The space has a little desk that Ms. Rodham had used for correspondence and paying bills.
We're calling her "Ms. Rodham now? And I'm supposed to picture her sitting at a little desk paying her own bills and doing "correspondence"? What is it, the 19th century all of a sudden? Is she still selling the idea that she doesn't know anything about email? [ADDED: Sorry, "Ms. Rodham" must be the mother Dorothy.]
[The decorator Rosemarie] Howe experimented in order to find just the right red for these walls, something coral and not too blue. She landed on Benjamin Moore Bird of Paradise 1305. The painting over the love seat is by Virginia artist Barbara Ryan. “It was something I saw and admired so long ago,” says Ms. Clinton. “We’ve had it for many years. Someone who looked at it remarked and laughed: If you look at the cloud or smoke in the back, it looks like a comic profile of my husband. But that’s not why I bought it.”
Not why I bought it but I enjoy telling people the puff of nothingness in the background looks like my husband... who used to have a little nook next to the Oval Office for informal meetings.

I'm sorry! Am I going too deeply personal? All right then, I'll turn that part of my brain off and turn the other one on, the one that thinks somebody has some D.C. real estate to unload and a glitzy magazine to assist in reeling in a credulous buyer.

But listen to the color of your dreams/It is not living, it is not living/Or play the game "Existence" to the end/Of the beginning...

ADDED: Here at Meadhouse, the word "deeply" is considered deplorable. Read the 2014 post, "Deeply... it's such a poser word."
Said Meade... It made me wish I'd had a tag on the word "deeply" all along. It's a metaphor, creating an image of abstract concepts in space. Where are you when you are "deeply in love"? There are so many trite usages — deeply in love, deeply disappointed, deeply religious, thinking deeply, deeply troubled, deeply concerned, deeply offended, deeply regret — and "deeply" is deeply embedded in constitutional law doctrine with the phrase "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." But I'm interested in seeing how is "deeply" is deployed in various political and cultural statements, so I've searched this blog's archive, and here's the best of what I found....
There's a list of 12 items, and it deserves a new one, the unlucky 13th: "Step Inside Bill and Hillary Clinton's Deeply Personal Washington, D.C., Home." Interestingly enough, 2 of the items on the old list have Hillary:
5. Last May [2013[, Tina Brown said: "Now that Chelsea is pregnant, and life for Hillary can get so deeply familial and pleasant, she can have her glory-filled post-presidency now, without actually having to deal with the miseries of the office itself..."...

8. "Clinton’s interest in global women’s issues is deeply personal, a mission she adopted when her husband was in the White House after the stinging defeat of her health care policy forced her to take a lower profile." 
"Deeply" — in the Hillary Clinton context — seems like a cloud or puff of smoke in the shape of defeat.

June 4, 2019

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... talk about whatever you want.

Last night, I watched the first movie in my "imaginary movie project"...

... described here. I don't know if I'm really doing the project, but I did watch the movie that would be the first movie, the 1960 Doris Day movie, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies." In 1960, I was 9 and I was taken to see this movie in the theater, I suppose by my mother, who must have liked Doris Day. I know she loved the Doris Day recording, "Sentimental Journey," and maybe she looked a little like Doris Day, especially around 1960, when she'd bleached her dark hair blonde. I remembered how I reacted to the movie when I was 9: I couldn't understand it, had no idea what was going on. Watching the movie last night, it was plain to see that the movie was incomprehensible to a 9 year old.

Though it had kids in it — Doris Day's 4 unruly sons — it was the story of a married couple with a disagreement about how to live — city or country? — that got the husband — David Niven — into a position to be sorely tempted to commit adultery. The husband and wife also kept approaching but not having sex, as those unruly sons would inevitably interrupt them (in a manner that I can now understand must have been funny to adults in 1960s even though it still doesn't make me laugh). Sexual frustration is expressed in the lyrics to the song "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" — "Here I am waitin' and anticipatin'... I'm so romantic but I'm gettin' frantic" — which is inexplicably sung by Doris while dancing in a circle with a couple dozen schoolchildren.

The husband is a New York City theater critic, and much of the story depends on fathoming what this job is and the sort of ethical issues that arise within it — should you pan a play written by your friend? — and the dynamic at cocktail parties and how success as a critic might warp a man's personality. None of that was accessible to me when I was 9!

Niven wants to live in NYC and go to literary parties. Doris wants a house in the country:

The Perpetual Diamond.

"Listening bars — cafes with high-end audio equipment, where patrons listen to vinyl records, carefully selected by a bartender, from a record library behind the bar..."

"... have been an institution in Japan since the 1950s. They are a subset of the kissaten, the small and idiosyncratic coffeehouses dotting side-streets in Tokyo. Only recently have several emerged in New York City, Los Angeles and a few other places. Shakily, a culture and a lore are growing, of connoisseurship and grace and obsession. At this early stage, the American listening bar (sometimes called a hi-fi bar) remains a social experiment, because a bar is still generally understood as a place to talk, not listen.... At best, the listening bar raises good questions about whether there might be an unrealized public-listening or group-listening ideal in a ritual as familiar as going out for a drink.... 'Please keep your conversations below the music,' read a small folded card on each table. 'To hear more, say less.' The coffee was good, and the music was fully present but not exactly loud. The vibe felt like a lunar tidal pull in there.... I did not experience the usual American cafe-feeling of needing to be productive. In fact, I wondered whether this represented the best possible use for cafes: a total break in your waking hours. A cleaned window. An open window!"

Writes Ben Ratliff in the NYT.

"Noa Pothoven, 17, has been legally euthanized in the Netherlands, saying the pain she was dealing with after a childhood rape was 'insufferable.'"

"The teen wrote an autobiography called 'Winning or Learning,' which details her battles with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anorexia after being molested and raped as a young child.... Pothoven asked her friends and followers on Instagram to 'not convince me that this is not good, this is my decision and it is final.' Children as young as 12 can opt for euthanasia in the Netherlands, but only after a doctor determines that the patient’s pain is unbearable" NY Post.


"Thinking is the best way to travel..."

Classic hippie advice from the Moody Blues. That's from 1968, which we're reminiscing about this morning a propos of "Of course, I'm reading 'If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home?/In the age of global warming, traveling — by plane, boat or car — is a fraught choice.'"

Of course, the hippie way of life is also a fraught choice.

Speaking of travel that occurs entirely within the mind... there's "The Wizard of Oz." And that Moody Blues video — if you can stick with it long enough — looks a bit like Glinda the Good Witch is about to arrive...

Of course, I'm reading "If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home?/In the age of global warming, traveling — by plane, boat or car — is a fraught choice."

In the NYT.

This is one of my longtime issues — the hypocrisy of those who purport to care deeply about carbon footprints yet enthusiastically imprint their feet all over the world and encourage (and even pressure) others to do the same.

I like to see how the NYT deals with this subject — the NYT, with all its concern-mongering about climate change and all its travel articles and ads and its need to serve the emotions and vanities of its readers. What are we having today? A little shame, spiced with humorous self-deprecation, along with the usual self-esteem boosting about our progressivism and our love of the good life?

For this article, the author is by Andy Newman. Let's read:
[T]hese are morally bewildering times. Something that seemed like pure escape and adventure has become double-edged, harmful, the epitome of selfish consumption. Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change. One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere. And yet we fly more and more....
What's morally bewildering? If you believe what the consensus of climate scientists and the proponents of the Green New Deal are telling us, you should never travel. Everything else is morally wrong. If you are bewildered, you're just bewildered about whether you — as opposed to those other people — want to center your life on morality.

"Madison police have been investigating Lion of Judah [House of Rastafari] since March, after receiving a tip that it was little more than a place to sell marijuana."

"Schworck and Bangert claim they provide marijuana as a 'sacrament' in exchange for donations.... Schworck and Bangert have sued the city in U.S. District Court, alleging the city violated their freedom to practice their religion when police seized marijuana on March 26 and the city, two weeks later, ordered them to stop the sale and use of marijuana at the church."

From "Landlord seeks to evict 'church' that took 'donations' for marijuana" (Wisconsin State Journal).

"Company proposes ‘flying solar pods’ as new public transit alternative in Madison."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports, with this horrifying picture:

Why would that be better than self-driving "pods" (cars) on the street? Because you could spend a billion dollars constructing eyesores at the second story level? Because people have so much fun suspended in the air? Because it's easier to exclude people who can't walk upstairs? Because... SOLARRRRRR!!!!

"You might ask yourself: 'What’s wrong with saying yes and keeping people happy?'"

"It might be a hard pill to swallow, but consider this: compulsive people-pleasing can be a form of manipulation. The teacher and author Byron Katie sums it up brilliantly: 'It’s the biggest fallacy that I can manipulate you to love me.' We kid ourselves that we’re just being decent people by acquiescing to others, but things can turn unexpectedly sour when our own needs aren’t met.... [T]he billionaire businessman Warren Buffet famously said: 'Successful people say no to almost everything.' Saying no allows you to say yes to what is important to you. It allows you to be a better person because when you say yes, it comes from a good place, not from resentment or fear. It creates space for what matters most to you, rather than drowning in busyness, like most of us are."

I'm reading "Want to improve your life? Just learn to say no/We are used to saying yes to please others but it can be harmful not to be more assertive. And imagine what you can do with all that free time" (The Guardian).

I'm reading that in spite of the fact that it's always been my instinct to say no. The author, Chloe Brotheridge, suggests that you remember all the times you found yourself doing things you didn't want to be doing — having coffee with people, going to weddings, sitting through meetings — to stimulate yourself to avoid things you're going to feel trapped in later. That advice is for other people. Is it helpful for you?

My instinct for saying no is so strong that I had to worry it would get me in trouble. I was concerned, in a professional setting, that hesitating when presented with invitations would make me look bad. You have to take a half second to realize going to lunch, say, would not be that interesting, and then concoct the excuse — at least another half second. At some point, people will notice. I had to overrule my own instinct and adopt the practice of saying yes. How'd that work out? Disastrously!

June 3, 2019

At the Sit-Next-to-the-Queen Café...

... you can be your usual charming self.

(Photo source: Andrew Dunn.)

"Jeopardy!" spoiler alert.

"James Holzhauer’s ‘Jeopardy!’ Streak Ends Just Shy of a Record/The show’s most dominant player in years came just $58,484 short of the $2.52 million Ken Jennings won during his famous run," the NYT reports.
The surprising end caused even the famously dispassionate host to practically lose his composure.

“What a game!” Alex Trebek exclaimed after [Emma] Boettcher’s final score popped up. “Oh my gosh!”

Holzhauer walked over to give Boettcher a high-five.

“Nobody likes to lose,” Holzhauer said in an interview. “But I’m very proud of how I did, and I really exceeded my own expectations for the show. So I don’t feel bad about it.”
I like the way Boettcher used a James-style approach to the old game, and I hope she goes forward and breaks some new records. I like to see an amazing champ, and she beat the most amazing champ, so let's see her carry on the tradition.

I have found it: the most pleasant news story of the day.

"A medieval chess piece that was missing for almost 200 years had been unknowingly kept in a drawer by an Edinburgh family.... The Lewis Chessmen are among the biggest draws at the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.... 'They brought it in for assessment... That happens every day. [Sotheby's] doors are open for free valuations. We get called down to the counter and have no idea what we are going to see. More often than not, it's not worth very much. I said, 'Oh my goodness, it's one of the Lewis Chessmen.'...  The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword and the equivalent of a rook on a modern chess board, which 'has immense character and power'" (BBC).

"Somewhere in between normcore, cyberpunk, goth, and sportswear chic exists the possibly real trend known as 'health goth.'"

According to "Introducing Health Goth, a New Lifestyle Trend" in New York Magazine, which quotes another website that defines the term jocosely (I assume it's jocose):
"Health Goth relies on an anti-nostalgic dystopian present, refracting the Other by means of an exaggerated profile and tribal-aesthetics … Health Goth creates a proto-narrative of returning to paradise lost by embracing mortality as a One-World consciousness and devotion as means to deliver us from late Capitalism … Health Goth speaks to an intrinsic psychic connection with the elements, be they fire, water or fauna and the ability to incorporate ambient nature into the corporeal realm."
NY Mag restates the idea as "wearing black but also working out and eating right." And: "That feeling of sadness, but also sportiness." But is it cool? No, "mainstream narcs have already ruined it."

Some of what I found after that that last post made me google, "How to be more attractive without plastic surgery?"

"I Asked Three Plastic Surgeons How They Would Change My Face And Everyone Answered Differently/Beauty is even more subjective than we think it is" (Buzzfeed).

"12 People Talk About Their Scars, Birthmarks, Skin Conditions, And More/'Everyone is flawed; some of us just have more visible scarring to show for it'" (Buzzfeed).

"12 Ways To Look Hotter (Without Plastic Surgery)." (I'm not putting a link for that because the first 2 items were "Try Cryotherapy" and "Drink Collagen" and the look of disgust on my face was, I'm afraid, making me less attractive.)

"How do I get prettier without makeup or plastic surgery?" (Quora). The answers here are so obvious that they're just a prompt you to notice that you already know the answer: It's all the things you should do for your health and wellbeing anyway.

"Much like women getting breast implants, South Koreans getting eyelid surgery, or bodybuilders taking steroids, the posters on incel forums seem at first to be motivated by..."

"... the undeniably relatable desire to look better — and therefore be treated better. Natalie Wynn is an academic turned 'one of YouTube’s leading B-list transsexuals' (her words). On her YouTube channel, ContraPoints, she comments on far-right internet culture while sipping wine and sporting 18th-century cosplay. Her most popular video is on incels, and she grants the group more sympathy than you’d expect. 'I’m just as obsessed with bones as the goddamn incels,' she says at one point, noting that she’s about to pay 'luxury-car amounts of money' for facial-feminization surgery. Some transgender people are against that surgery, she tells me by phone, because 'they think we’re trying to pass and look cis, which is only a thing that we’d want to do in a really transphobic society.'...  Unlike transgender people who pursue surgery, of course, incels tend to be perpetrators, rather than targets, of violence and discrimination. Still, the positions of some incels I talked to echoed Wynn’s analysis. PostSingularityVirgin, a 21-year-old Canadian, started reading incel forums when he was 17. Soon after, he dropped out of college to save up for cosmetic surgery, which he has yet to get. He believes people like him are the future; in the next century, cosmetic surgery will be widespread and affordable to everyone, he tells me. 'I feel like inequality in humans is like the greatest source of misery,' he says. 'Wealth inequality, how you’re treated because of the way you look. A lot of those things are being eliminated by technology.'"

From "How Many Bones Would You Break to Get Laid? 'Incels' are going under the knife to reshape their faces, and their dating prospects" (New York Magazine). This is a long article, with much more going on in it than I thought there would be when I looked at that headline. (If the headline makes you wonder why is it okay to be incelphobic when it's not okay to be transphobic, you need to get past the headline and read the article.)

The word "skyscraper" referred to 7 other things before it was used on buildings.

You can look it up — I used the OED — so try to guess, but I'll reveal the answer after the jump.

Drudge portrays Trump's hat hair as having to do with visiting the Queen of England.

Drudge's link goes to a UK paper, The Sun, which is, I guess they can't help it, focused on British royalty: "COMB ON OVER Donald Trump sports slick new ‘hat hair’ before flying to meet the Queen." But Trump's hair has nothing to do with the Queen. It has to do with wearing a hat — he'd been golfing — and then finding himself in a situation where he had to take off the hat. You can get this info just from reading The Sun: "Trump had come straight from a game of golf and had only just taken off his baseball cap when he got in front of the cameras at a Virginia church." The Sun goes on to survey social media, where the most common joke seems to be about how, unlike usually, he looks "normal."

What Trump was doing — apparently spontaneously, without taking time to do his hair — was attending a church memorial service for the victims of the Virginia Beach shootings:

Trump's lack of vanity is a bit disarming (considering how much effort he's put into maintaining his trademark elaborate hairdo over the years), but it's really nothing compared to the profundity of the religious observance for the recently murdered human beings.

Trump haters who feel disarmed — because they can't lob their usual "narcissist" insult — could say that he deliberately suddenly changed his hairstyle to get people to talk about it and then he'd win in the end because he'll be able to call them trivial for not respecting religion and murder victims. Because that's the kind of thing he does, right? Like the way he wants to be impeached.

UPDATE: Here's how Trump actually looks with the Queen today. The hair is pretty much back to his usual swooping, sweeping style, maybe slightly more sedate, but the best part of the video is when Melania comes into view (looking more magnificent than ever):

"As someone who defended Mueller’s motivations against the unrelenting attacks of Trump, I found his press conference to be baffling..."

"... and it raised serious concerns over whether some key decisions are easier to reconcile on a political rather than a legal basis. Three decisions stand out that are hard to square with Mueller’s image as an apolitical icon.... What is concerning is not that each of his three decisions clearly would undermine Trump or Barr but that his decisions ran against the grain for a special counsel. The law favored the other path in each instance. Thus, to use Mueller’s own construction, if we could rule out a political motive, we would have done so. This is why Mueller must testify and must do so publicly."

Writes lawprof Jonathan Turley.

The 3 decisions:

1. "Refusal to identify grand jury material. One of the most surprising disclosures made by Attorney General William Barr was that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein expressly told Mueller to submit his report with grand jury material clearly marked to facilitate the release of a public version...."

2. "Surprise letter sent to the attorney general. ...While Barr has described Mueller’s letter as 'snitty,' it was in fact a sucker punch."

3. "Refusal to reach an obstruction conclusion.... ... Mueller contradicted himself in first saying that he would have cleared Trump if he could have, but then later saying that he decided not to reach a conclusion on any crime.... If Mueller believed such conclusions are impermissible, why did he not submit the matter to the Justice Department inspector general?... It was an effort to allude to possible crimes without, in fairness to the accused, clearly and specifically stating those crimes."

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a sobering assessment of the prospects of the Trump administration’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan in a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders..."

"... saying 'one might argue' that the plan is 'unexecutable' and it might not 'gain traction.' He expressed his hope that the deal isn’t simply dismissed out of hand. 'It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, "It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me," that is, "it’s got two good things and nine bad things, I’m out,"' Pompeo said in an audio recording of the private meeting obtained by The Washington Post.... 'I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love,' he said. 'I understand the perception of that. I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit.'... Pompeo, unlike previous secretaries of state, is not overseeing the peace effort... [Jared] Kushner, a real estate scion from New Jersey, and [Jason] Greenblatt, the former chief legal officer for Trump and the Trump Organization, have led the initiative since the president took power. The two men, both practicing Orthodox Jews, did not come in with political experience but have shared a long interest in and connection to Israel.... [After Pompeo's meeting with Jewish leaders,] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition and Israel’s parliament voted to dissolve itself, sending the country back to elections in September. Now, if the White House wants to avoid rolling out a peace plan during a sensitive election campaign period for Netanyahu, it will have to wait until at least November, when... the Trump administration will be stepping up its own reelection campaign...."

From "Exclusive: Pompeo delivers unfiltered view of Trump’s Middle East peace plan in off-the-record meeting" (WaPo)(audio at the link).

Do you think that's something Pompeo wanted to get out? Should we presume one of the "Jewish leaders" leaked it? What's the motivation? If Pompeo wanted it out, is it that he believes Kushner has handled it badly and wants the blame to go where it belongs? It seems that failure of the plan is predictable, but why get the failure process going in advance? To make the collapse less sudden?

The highest-rated comment at WaPo is:
What a bunch of morons. Seriously. What did they think would happen when they moved the embassy to Jerusalem? Why did they think prior presidents didn't do that? And now they think they can slide in with a peace plan.

Was never a big fan of the Three Stooges.
So who linked the recording?

June 2, 2019

At the Sunday Night Café...

... here's a table for you. Scribble away.

ADDED: Possible topic: Trump's hat hair.

2 longterm interests of mine intersect: Men in Shorts and Jeff Goldblum.

I'm normally censorious about grown men in shorts, but I'm going to give Jeff Goldblum a pass, because he found his own way and, also, because to me, he will always be Brundlefly:

Apparently this has something to do with "Sonic" (a new movie based on the old video game about a blue hedgehog), but it's not as though Goldblum is in it. Here's the trailer that just came out 2 days ago and has been viewed on YouTube almost 33 million times:

I'm not keeping up with present-day taste in movies. I'm just amused by Jeff Goldblum. And have you ever heard of hedgehog politics? Neither have I. Hedgehogs don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the hedgehog.

"In any other area, the left would look at a history like this and ask whether those formal convictions are the only thing that matters, or whether the eugenic past..."

"... still exerts a structural influence on the present. And in any other area of policy [Clarence] Thomas’s point about how legal abortion appears, in the aggregate, to act in racist and eugenic ways would be taken as an indicator that something more than just emancipation is at work. Yes, in their theoretical self-conception, pro-choice institutions are neutral custodians of the right to choose. In theory the genetic-screening industry exists only to provide information. In theory the high abortion rate in black America is just the result of countless individual decisions. But in practice, liberal technocracy still has a 'solve poverty by cutting birthrates' bias inherited from a population-panic age, and abortion-rights rhetoric still has a way of sliding into Malthusian fears about too many poor kids in foster care. In practice the medical system strongly encourages abortion in response to disability, with predictable results. In practice... the disparate impact of abortion on black birthrates is shaped by that reality and others, not just by free choice."

From "Clarence Thomas’s Dangerous Idea/Does anything link the eugenics of the past to abortion today?" by Ross Douthat (NYT). There is this idea in constitutional law that you need to pick one approach to interpretation and use it consistently, across all the issues, and that's what keeps you deciding cases according to law and not policy preferences. An argument can sound completely cogent, but if it's not the kind of argument you always make, it's a lawyer's argument, not a judge's reasoning. Of course "the left" are political actors, entitled to make their lawyer's arguments, and they may not be embarrassed to find themselves switching approaches to constitutional law to use whatever works best to get the outcome they want. It's another matter to show that Clarence Thomas changes his interpretive method this way and that, but there's no practical need to reach Clarence Thomas on abortion rights. You only need 5 to win, and he's the least likely to be in the left's 5. They only need to keep 5 of the remaining 8 away from the Thomas position that — talking about eugenics — seems designed to lure lefties to the right on abortion.

"Lying deliberately and repeatedly to the public."

That's the last sentence — well, sentence fragment — of a paragraph that begins "Praising the 'very fine people on both sides' when torch-wielding white supremacists and antisemites marched through the streets clashing with anti-racist campaigners."

That's the first paragraph of "It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump/The US president gives comfort to the far right. The prime minister should speak truth to power" by Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, writing in The Guardian.

Khan purports to be concerned about deliberate and repeated lying, but he passes along the oft-repeated  "very fine people" lie. Is he doing that deliberately?

4 days ago, I said "if Democrats want to really fight in Wisconsin, they have a magnificent opportunity in Ben."


And this afternoon, I see that Ben has won! Ben Wikler is the new Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Fantastic!

I'm hearing that Nancy Pelosi will "cuddle with her caucus."

The topic is impeachment, on "Meet the Press" today, and NBC's Carol Lee must have meant to say, Nancy Pelosi will "huddle with her caucus" (which is what they've got in the transcript). But listen for yourself. It's cute and funny:

"And you're going to see in the coming week Speaker Pelosi try to figure out where the next step goes. Because, you know, she'll have a Monday night leadership meeting. She'll then cuddle with her caucus. This is the point at which she's under the most pressure than she's been about impeachment."

Don't trust that transcript. Look, the closed captions back up what you hear with your own ears:


Just a delightful "speako" (a typo of speech).

Don't freak out, Chuck...


I love the gender politics of it all. The female talking head, talking about the female Speaker of the House, wanted to get to that word from the quintessentially masculine activity — football — and she couldn't quite get there. She got 5 sixths of the way there. Got the "-uddle" but not the "huddle." And she ended up with the quintessentially feminine activity — cuddling.

But I don't know if we can do that anymore, cuddle. Ask Joe Biden. We're supposed to have woken up to the importance of personal space and no physical intrusions.

And yet, maybe that's what we need at long last. A big group hug.

Make America cuddlesome again. 

"I get a coffee, egg whites and a bowl of grits. I’m trying to cut out bread. Oh, I have one slice of buttered, whole-wheat bread with grape jelly."

"I go to a place across the street. It’s called Academy. Coffee, cream and three natural brown sugars. No more sugar for me."

From "How Spike Lee Spends His Sundays" (NYT).

There must be a Greek term for the rhetorical device he uses twice in that quote. I really enjoyed that. The Times has a regular feature on how somebody or other spends their Sunday. I enjoy the feature, but I especially like this Spike Lee one, because he doesn't fit their pattern, doesn't treat Sunday as special. The usual celebrity has some fussy Sunday particularity to it, and he so delightfully unspecial about Sunday: "I wake up, brush my teeth, take a shower, put my clothes on, and I go to work. It’s not like for me Sunday is the Sabbath. I got work to do."

"Sister Harney found a book on the vows — poverty, obedience, chastity — that she had bought once but never read."

"'I saw Alan creeping around with his cellphone to take a picture of the cover, and then next time I saw it Sarah had been reading it and it was full of Post-it notes all over,' Sister Harney said. 'Millennials were looking at it like this is the glue. They were looking for the secret sauce of how we do this.' The sisters began to see that the millennials wanted a road map for life and ritual, rather than a belief system. On one of the first nights, Sister Judy Carle said, one of the young people casually asked the sisters, 'So, what’s your spiritual practice?' 'That’s the first question, not, "What do you believe?"' she said... 'So many of the millennials would say, "I’m looking for rituals"'... [The millennial Sarah Jane Bradley said,] 'It sounds like it’s about taking orders, but the sisters helped me see it’s about preparing the heart for dialogue and a deep internal listening for truth... The vows opened up this portal in which to really appreciate how countercultural the lives these sisters have led are.' It’s hard to adopt practices that stem from vows without belief...  For example, the millennials became interested in the idea of discernment, a process the sisters use to sift and orient options to more closely listen for God’s call. [The millennial Adam Horowitz said,] 'But now I’ve heard millennials saying they need to "discern what I’m up to this afternoon"... And it’s so important we don’t dilute it.'"

From "These Millennials Got New Roommates. They’re Nuns/A project called Nuns and Nones moved religion-free millennials into a convent" (NYT).