June 22, 2019

At the Deep Shade Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The sheer volume of noncompetitive competitors is a distraction that Democrats can ill afford, given the enormity of the disaster at hand."

"Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than getting that mean-spirited, embarrassingly gauche, wishy-washy blowhard out of the White House. All of the Democratic fuming about staging a political revolution, shaking up the power structure, fighting the fossil fuel industry, taking down Wall Street, busting noses of the corporate elite, launching ground assaults on power and wealth-transforming the country — all that should be given over to building a well-planned and well-staffed presidential campaign apparatus that can support the candidate best able to do something about what’s happening now.... This is no time for Democrats to humor the ambition of newbies seeking to enter the big time or to pamper grizzled veterans out for a last hurrah... Democrats simply don’t have the luxury of engaging in months of intramural infighting that ends up trashing those most electable against Trump. The last thing they need is a battered nominee limping into the general election...."

Writes Colbert I. King in "All these wannabe Democratic nominees are wasting everybody’s time" (WaPo).

That's one very obvious position, but who's the pampered "grizzled veteran"? Isn't it Biden, and isn't he also the one who's supposed to be the closest to a sure thing that everyone else can get behind? And how can Trump-haters really believe that the blandest choice is really best?

King lists the ones he thinks are the extras who need to get out of the way: Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Michael F. Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang. Why isn't Buttigieg on that loser list? Why isn't Klobuchar? And why is Hickenlooper there? He could emerge as the serious, stable alternative to Trump that everyone could get behind.

Even if Trump opponents agree that what's crucially important is to beat Trump, plenty of them will say that a more excitingly progressive campaign is the better bet. Look at how Trump himself won (and look back to how Obama won). You have to look at what Americans have become and try to figure out what will be moving us 16 months from now. It's not easy, and it will take some magic.

I'm using the word "magic" to evoke President Trump, who recently asked about Biden, "Where's the magic?"

"I would love to see vintage Pete Rose in today’s game. He would get absolutely annihilated."

"Guys that are striking out 200 times, like Joey Gallo — in 1990 he would have hit 75 home runs every year because he’s facing guys with an average velocity of 90 miles an hour, good command and O.K. breaking balls," said Trevor Bauer, quoted in in "Trevor Bauer, Baseball’s Imperfect Evangelist" (NYT).
Strikeout and home run rates have never been higher in the majors, and walk rates are at a 10-year peak. To Bauer, those three so-called true outcomes indicate that the game is better than it has ever been — and held to a different standard from basketball and football.

“The N.B.A. is true outcomes: Either dunk the ball or shoot a 3, and that’s the direction it’s going,” he said. “The N.F.L. is more true-outcome based, as well: throwing high-percentage passes. So other sports are going this way, but they’ve found a way to make it popular.”

"A Guardian investigation reveals that cities around the country are no longer recycling many types of plastic dropped into recycling bins. Instead, they are being landfilled..."

"... burned or stockpiled. From Los Angeles to Florida to the Arizona desert, officials say, vast quantities of plastic are now no better than garbage.... Once the largest buyer of US plastic waste, [China] shut its doors to all but highest-quality plastics in 2017. The move sent shockwaves through the American industry as recyclers scrambled, and often failed, to find new buyers. Now the turmoil besetting a global trade network, which is normally hidden from view, is hitting home.... In total, only about half (56%) of the plastic waste that America once exported is still being accepted by foreign markets in the wake of China’s ban. This week, the Guardian revealed that what still goes overseas is inundating countries including Vietnam, Turkey, Malaysia and Senegal. But much of what remains has nowhere to go."

The Guardian reports.

"Brussels has decided against decorating its iconic Manneken-Pis statue in a Michael Jackson costume as planned for the 10th anniversary of the US pop icon's death, officials said Friday."

"The decision was made in the wake of a new documentary, 'Leaving Neverland,' which since its release this year has revived claims the singer sexually abused children. Brussels' famous Manneken-Pis statue of a nude young boy has been cheekily urinating into a Baroque fountain for 400 years. He is dressed about 130 times a year in various outfits often donated by organisations or embassies to mark a special occasion or event, such as the Chinese new year or the start of football's World Cup."

Yahoo reports.

Well, at least the Belgians aren't clamoring to take down the statue taken down (which is the incipient practice in the United States). What can they do when the thing is such a landmark? How many tourists assemble at the foot of this little boy every day?
Manneken Pis (About this sound[ˌmɑnəkə(m) ˈpɪs], meaning "Little Pisser" in Dutch) is a landmark 61 cm (24 in) bronze sculpture in the centre of Brussels (Belgium), depicting a naked little boy urinating into a fountain's basin. It was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder and put in place in 1618 or 1619. The current statue is a replica which dates from 1965. The original is kept in the Museum of the City of Brussels.[ Manneken Pis is the best-known symbol of the people of Brussels. It also embodies their sense of humour (called zwanze in the dialect of Brussels) and their independence of mind.
At that last link (to Wikipedia), there are several photos on the Mannekin Pis in costumes (and the explanation that the statue is dressed in costumes several times a week). I'll just pick one, the Dracula:

By the way, the Belgians have installed a female version of the Manneken Pis, the Jeanneke Pis, erected in 1987. Also in Belgium, Het Zinneke (Zinneke = bastard), a statue of a dog urinating. Why Belgians want to be associated with pissing, I'm not so sure. I guess once one thing is very famous, other things will refer to it. Or maybe I just need to understand more about zwanze:
Not easily defined, zwanze is characterised by mockery, self-deprecation, a wariness of power and an incredulous response to all types of authority, which on occasion is too forgiving of official blunders.

"Zwanze is a bit like gueuze (a Belgian beer) and grenadine,” remarks [the author Alain] Berenboom. “It is a combination of bitter beer and sweet syrup, two apparently incompatible products Belgians like to mix to make a drink called Mort subite [Sudden death], which is only fatal for cranky people... "

"How Change Happens, Sunstein tells us, 'reflects decades of thinking.' This is another way of saying that it repeats decades of writing."

"To call it his 'new book' you’d have to accept that there is something meaningfully distinguishing it, beyond the physical barrier of its cover and binding, from his previous books—an assumption that in Sunstein’s case is easily disproven. Like an unstuck Mallarmé, Sunstein does not produce books so much as The Book, a single volume of ideas that’s recycled, with only minor variations, from title to title. Broaching a new Sunstein these days, you already know what you’re going to get: a section on the joys and uses of cost-benefit analysis, some dashed-off thoughts about utilitarianism and negative freedoms, three or four chapters on nudges and their importance to the design of seatbelt policy, the primacy of Daniel Kahneman–style 'slow thinking' over intuition and moral heuristics, some tut-tutting about social media, a Learned Hand quote or two, and a few weak anecdotes about Sunstein’s time as President Obama’s regulator-in-chief, all delivered through a prose that combines the dreariest elements of Anglo-American analytical style with the proto-numerate giddiness of a libertarian undergrad who’s just made first contact with the production possibility frontier.... How Change Happens conforms so comically to type that it repurposes several passages of text from Sunstein’s previous books, even his most recent ones. Hence he tells us that people typically think that more words, on any given page, will end with -ing than have n as the second-to-last letter—an anecdote you would have already encountered had you made it as far as page 30 of The Cost-Benefit Revolution. He explains the Asian disease problem and provides a number of choice-framing analogies also found in The Cost-Benefit Revolution. He retells the David Foster Wallace water parable spotted on page eleven of On Freedom, published in February of this year...."

From "The Sameness of Cass Sunstein/His books keep pushing the same technocratic fixes. But today’s most pressing questions cannot be depoliticized" by Aaron Timms (The New Republic), which as you can tell from the subtitle, goes on to find more substantive problems than chatty repetition.

What does "Like an unstuck Mallarmé" mean? I had to look it up. Here (from "Blocked/Why do writers stop writing?" (The New Yorker, 2004)):
After the English Romantics, the next group of writers known for not writing were the French Symbolists. Mallarmé, “the Hamlet of writing,” as Roland Barthes called him, published some sixty poems in thirty-six years. Rimbaud, notoriously, gave up poetry at the age of nineteen. In the next generation, Paul Valéry wrote some poetry and prose in his early twenties and then took twenty years off, to study his mental processes. Under prodding from friends, he finally returned to publishing verse and in six years produced the three thin volumes that secured his fame. Then he gave up again. These fastidious Frenchmen, when they described the difficulties of writing, did not talk, like Wordsworth and Coleridge, about a metaphysical problem, or even a psychological problem. To them, the problem was with language: how to get past its vague, cliché-crammed character and arrive at the actual nature of experience. They needed a scalpel, they felt, and they were given a mallet.
So you get what Timms is saying about Sunstein.

June 21, 2019

At the Take-over Café...


... come in for the conversation.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon (which is always over there at the top of the sidebar).

"I despair at obscenely specific proper names, groan at clues that make reference to other clues without a clever payoff, and (worst of all) sigh with abyssal disappointment..."

"... at grids that waste their longest words, those that fill the full fifteen-space span—effectively the puzzle’s pièce de résistance—on the inelegant or the uninteresting. Why would you ever devote that full row or column to phrases as pedestrian and beige as real-estate agent or express delivery when you could let your solvers luxuriate in the golden sunshine of hallucinogenics or no, i’m a frayed knot?"

From "The Art and Politics of Crosswords" by Helen Rosner (The New Yorker).

"Oregon’s Democratic governor, Kate Brown, has dispatched state troopers to find missing Republican senators and bring them back to Salem to legislate."

"All 11 Republican senators are in hiding, at least some of them out of state, in order to prevent the Senate from having the quorum it needs to operate. They can’t abide the Democrat-backed carbon cap and spend bill that is up for a Senate vote today."

The Oregonian reports.

Ah! Memories of the Wisconsin protests. Remember "Meet The 14 Wisconsin Democratic FLEEBAGGERS Everyone Is Talking About":
The media latest stars of the Union protests that have been consuming much of the news cycle the past week are the so-called Fleebaggers.
The term "fleebagger" was a play on "teabagger."
These are the 14 Democratic senators from Wisconsin who have fled the state in protest of bills requiring concession from union workers.

By leaving the state, these legislators prevent the Wisconsin senate from reaching the minimum number of members required for voting, known as a quorum.

By fleeing to other Democratic states the assumption is they can't be coerced by police to return. Presumably it's just a matter of time before Bill O'Reilly launches some sort of ambush special aimed at finding them....
They were "stars" when they were Democrats. And a bad old Republican — remember Bill O'Reilly? — had to be hypothetically dragged into the picture to give it a good-and-evil dimension. With the Republicans absconding, in Oregon, the fleebaggers are automatically bad and the Democrats — ready to legislate and deprived of the quorum — are the easy good guys. The narrative clicks into place.

"We tend to think of our looks as separate from who we are. But it turns out that physical traits like height or attractiveness may shape our personalities, behaviours, even politics."

A BBC article.
One study out of Germany’s University of Göttingen recently reported that of more than 200 men, those who were physically stronger and who had more “macho” bodies – including larger chests and biceps – also tended to be more extroverted, especially in the sense of being more assertive and physically active. The same strength-extroversion association was not found among the women in the study.

Other research has found that physically more formidable men also tend to be more prone to aggression and less neurotic (as in, less fearful and worrisome). Again, this makes sense if you see personality as an adaptive strategy. If you are physically weak, then being cautious and wary of danger is likely to lengthen your lifespan. But if you are physically formidable, you can afford to be more of a risk-taker....

We often think of our personalities and beliefs as reflecting the essence of who we are – whether shy or outgoing, commitment-phobic flirt or devoted partner, left-wing or right-wing. And we like to think that these traits derive from cerebral, moral or even spiritual sources. The idea that these aspects of ourselves might instead, at least in part, reflect a strategic adaptation to our physical size and appearance remains for now a controversial theory....

"President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions."

"As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations. Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said."

MSN reports.

How to pack for your week-long bicycle camping trip.

You could do that, couldn't you?

June 20, 2019

Swan song of the peonies.

The bulgy peonies have their June days here Madison, but they can only hold up their overstuffed heads for so long.


They're clonking onto the pavement today.

Anyway... just a photo from my morning walk.

Treat this post as an open thread.

The Supreme Court looks at Notre Dame in Paris as an example of how a religious monument can become an important secular monument.

In today's opinion, American Legion v. American Humanists Association, about a large cross memorializing WWI dead, Justice Alito wrote for the majority:
With sufficient time, religiously expressive monuments, symbols, and practices can become embedded features of a community’s landscape and identity. The community may come to value them without necessarily embracing their religious roots. The recent tragic fire at Notre Dame in Paris provides a striking example. Although the French Republic rigorously enforces a secular public square, the cathedral remains a symbol of national importance to the religious and nonreligious alike. Notre Dame is fundamentally a place of worship and retains great religious importance, but its meaning has broadened. For many, it is inextricably linked with the very idea of Paris and France. Speaking to the nation shortly after the fire, President Macron said that Notre Dame “‘is our history, our literature, our imagination. The place where we survived epidemics, wars, liberation. It has been the epicenter of our lives.’”

"ALITO, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–B , II–C , III, and IV, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER, KAGAN, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II–A and II–D, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which KAGAN, J., joined. KAVANAUGH, J., filed a concurring opinion. KAGAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. GORSUCH, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which THOMAS, J., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined."

That's the line up in American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the case about the 32-foot cross on public land that honors soldiers who died in WWI. The American Legion won — the case is reversed and remanded. It will take me a little time to find my way through those opinions. The precedents in this area of the Establishment Clause have been very confused, and (as someone who taught those cases for many years) I want to know how the Court puzzled through them this time.

I hope to have something more soon or eventually. It's interesting that only Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissent. Breyer was the key vote in the 10 Commandments cases 14 years ago, so what he has to say is important. Maybe I'll start there.

ADDED: Breyer's concurring opinion is short, and it is joined only by Justice Kagan. The vote was 7-2, so there's a majority without including Breyer and Kagan. I'm reading this opinion first simply because Breyer was the decisive vote in the 2 10 Commandments cases in 2005, where he voted against the display in one and for it in the other. I blogged that here, with the conclusion:
So multifactored, contextualized judgment continues to be the rule about government displays with some religious content, and there will be borderline cases where the outcome is uncertain and reasonable judges will disagree.

Maybe the best advice is for the strict separationists to choose their battles well. And certainly, one thing is clear: leave the old monuments and courthouse friezes alone.
Now, onto Justice Breyer's new effort (which relies heavily on his concurring opinion in the 10 Commandments case (Van Orden)):
I have long maintained that there is no single formula for resolving Establishment Clause challenges. See Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U. S. 677, 698 (2005) (opinion concurring in judgment). The Court must instead consider each case in light of the basic purposes that the Religion Clauses were meant to serve: assuring religious liberty and tolerance for all, avoiding religiously based social conflict, and maintaining that separation of church and state that allows each to flourish in its“separate spher[e].”

"But what is exhausting about the current debate over the use of the words concentration camp goes beyond Trump and his made-up reality."

"At its heart, the question is: Should we call these camps, where a distinct group of people is being detained by the government, by their proper scholarly name? Or should we avoid it because it invokes* the Holocaust and might somehow diminish from the attendant suffering of those who perished there? Again, the question turns on emotion, on individualized reactions to the specific words, rather than on accuracy and precision; as many have pointed out, the term 'concentration camp' predates the Holocaust and does not require an intention toward genocide.... Are we now spending more time on the labels than on the actual harms? In a time of information overload and outrage fatigue, is fighting over what we call things coming at the cost of fighting against the things themselves? The sometimes threadbare political axiom 'if you’re explaining, you’re losing' comes to mind.... But we must question whether battles over who is most affronted by references to the Holocaust come under the category of explaining, or trying to find shared meanings, or reaching for truth.... What matters is that words still have the capacity to move, inspire, and terrify us. If they can still do that, perhaps they can still push us to act, even if we don’t always agree."

I'm reading "The AOC–Liz Cheney 'Concentration Camp' Fight Might Just Be a Distraction" by Dahlia Lithwick and Susan Matthews (Slate).


* In an essay about words, it's a good idea to use the right words yourself. It should be evokes, not invokes.

"A congressional hearing erupted when Quillette writer Coleman Hughes trashed a bill to study slavery reparations as a 'moral and political mistake,' forcing the chair of the hearing to tell the audience to 'chill' several times."

Mediaite reports (with video).
The audience at the hearing booed Hughes after he said, “Black people don’t need another apology. We need safer neighborhoods and better schools. We need a less punitive criminal justice system. We need affordable health care. And none of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery.”

“Nearly everyone close to me told me not to testify today,” Hughes noted, adding, “They told me that even though I have only ever voted for Democrats, I would be perceived as Republican and therefore hated by half the country. Others told me that by distancing myself from Republicans, I would end up angering the other half of the country. And the sad truth is that they were both right. That’s how suspicious we have become. Of one another. That’s how divided we are [a]s a nation[."]......

As the audience booed Hughes, subcommittee Chairman Steve Cohen banged the gavel and said “Chill, chill, chill, chill!” As the chamber quieted, Cohen added: “He was presumptive, but he still has a right to speak.”
He was presumptive?! What does that mean? Uppity?

"Horns are growing on young people’s skulls. Phone use is to blame, research suggests."

A WaPo headline.

Yeah, it got me.

Horns! Are phones the Devil's device?!
New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls — bone spurs caused by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion. The result is a hook or hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck....
It's not the phone. It's the bowed head. We're bowing, but not in prayer. And we're growing horns. Think about it, people!
That the bone growth ["enlarged external occipital protuberance"] develops over a long period of time suggests that sustained improvement in posture can stop it short and even ward off its associated effects....

[David Shahar, the paper’s first author, a chiropractor who recently completed a PhD in biomechanics] is pressing people to become as regimented about posture as they became about dental hygiene in the 1970s, when personal care came to involve brushing and flossing every day. Schools should teach simple posture strategies, he said. Everyone who uses technology during the day should get used to recalibrating their posture at night.
Hey, I remember when there was a lot of chiding and instruction about posture... back in the 1950s:

ADDED: I was surprised to see I had a tag for "posture" — and there are a lot of posts.

"'My whole life is a bet,' the President of the United States says, resting his forearms on the edge of the Resolute desk in the Oval Office."

"It’s a steamy evening in mid-June, and Trump is facing a set of high-stakes tests around the world. Tensions rising with Iran. Tariffs imposed by India. Protesters flooding the streets of Hong Kong. But Trump is confident, ready to joust. He has invited a group of TIME journalists for an interview, blown past the allotted time and settled in for a wide-ranging discussion. Along the way, he orders a Diet Coke with ice with the push of a small red button set into a wooden box on the desk, and directs an aide to fetch a copy of a hand-delivered birthday letter sent from Kim Jong Un...."

So begins the TIME cover story, "‘My Whole Life Is a Bet.’ Inside President Trump’s Gamble on an Untested Re-Election Strategy."

A few tidbits:
A “progressive” will probably win the primary, Trump predicts, running down the competition with evident relish. Joe Biden “is not the same Biden,” he says, adding later, “Where’s the magic?” Kamala Harris, he notes, “has not surged.” Bernie Sanders is “going in the wrong direction.” Elizabeth Warren’s “doing pretty well,” he allows, but Pete Buttigieg “never” had a chance.

Why? “I just don’t feel it,” Trump says. “Politics is all instinct.”...

“We all have our meetings,” the President says. “But I generally do my own thing.” Campaign staff have been hired to follow Trump’s lead, and the President has made it known that when he tweets a new policy or improvises an attack at a rally, everyone had better be ready to follow along. “He blows the hole and everyone runs into the breach,” says an aide....

Cory Booker's great response to Biden's "Apologize for what? Cory should apologize. He knows better. There's not a racist bone in my body."

Booker's response: "For someone to show the lack of understanding or sensitivity to even know when they've made a mistake, and to fall into that defensive posture and said, 'I'm not apologizing' — that I should apologize to him! — is really problematic.… The fact that he has said something that an African-American man could find very offensive, and then to turn around and say, 'I'm not a racist! You should apologize to me!' … As Angela Davis used to say, in a time of racism, it is not enough to say that 'I'm not a racist'; you need to be anti-racist. What we need from a former vice president, from a presidential candidate, what we need from each other is to be allies, to be seeking understanding, to be seeking empathy.… So for his posture to me to be, 'I've done nothing wrong; you should apologize to me; I'm not a racist,' is so insulting, and so missing the the larger point that he should not have to have explained to him."

I'm reading these quotes this morning at my son John's Facebook page.

Biden's "Apologize for what?" came after Booker criticized him for saying "I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy'; he always called me 'son'" (and so forth). Booker's response to that was "You don't joke about calling black men 'boys.' "

Neither of those remarks makes complete sense. Why was Biden impressed that Eastland called him "son" and not "boy"? Biden isn't black. I guess Biden was just thinking about the way old men might patronize young men by addressing them as "son" and not thinking about the much more denigrating use of "boy" to address black men. That's the only sensible interpretation, really, but it does show Biden's a bit out of touch. It's unsympathetic to regard that as a "joke about calling black men 'boys.'" Not only is it unlikely that Biden was referring to the old practice of calling black men "boys," it doesn't at all look like any kind of joke.

But Cory Booker is running for President, and he's running way behind Joe Biden. He has to grab for an issue when he can. He got a lot of attention and he really hurt Biden. But he did it by deliberately pretending to misunderstand Biden (or possibly, by actually misunderstanding Biden, which is much less likely). Booker could have said, instead of "You don't joke about calling black men 'boys,'" something more like: Biden is so out of touch about race that he talks about an old segregationist calling him "son" and not "boy" without even noticing how bad that sounds to anyone who remembers the way black men were called "boy."

The newer statement from Booker is much better formulated. Quite impressive, I think. And he would never have said it if Biden hadn't gone big with, "Apologize for what? Cory should apologize. He knows better. There's not a racist bone in my body."

Biden's instincts are bad! And his rhetoric is almost babyish. And clichéd — "not a racist bone in my body." That's a silly metaphor, the idea that character traits are located in particular bones. And it's also the sort of thing you say about someone else when you're vouching for them. You can't claim it for yourself. The dumbest part of Biden's statement is that it turned all eyes on Booker, who's been struggling to get some attention, and Booker took advantage.

I particularly like "it is not enough to say that 'I'm not a racist'; you need to be anti-racist." It's not that helpful to bring up Angela Davis, but the sentiment is a good one. Maybe the conversation about race would go better if we stopped accusing people of being "racist" and only criticized them for not being  anti-racist enough.

June 19, 2019

At the Wilting Blue Café


... keep talking!

"Keith Raniere, a self-help guru, has been found guilty of presiding over an ultra-secretive society that imprisoned women as sex slaves branded with his initials."

"The case established an unexpected link between an organization preaching self-empowerment and an internal, cultlike subgroup dedicated to serving the carnal – and now criminal – demands of its founder. Raniere, who claimed to be one of the smartest people in the world and boasted a devoted following, was found guilty of all counts against him, including racketeering, forced labour, sex trafficking and child abuse images charges. The jury reached their decision in less than five hours of deliberations... Only in opening statements and closing arguments did Raniere present any explanation, offering through his defense counsel that whatever had taken place was consensual. On Monday, before Judge Nicholas Garaufis handed the case to the jury, Raniere’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, simply described DOS as a 'social club,'  arguing that his client’s followers acted of their own volition, making 'adult choices.' 'He doesn’t need DOS to generate intimate partners,' Agnifilo said of his client. 'One has nothing to [d]o with the other. This is just his lifestyle.'"

From "Nxivm trial: Keith Raniere found guilty on all counts in sex cult case/Jury sided with prosecutors, who said Raniere used blackmail and starvation and to force women into becoming ‘first-line slaves’" (The Guardian).

"c-sections can be very dangerous through a foot of fat tissue."

Sentence from a comment by an obgyn on a NYT article, "When You’re Told You’re Too Fat to Get Pregnant/Does it make sense, medically or ethically, when fertility clinics refuse to treat prospective mothers they consider too large?"

I wouldn't have cared in the slightest about watching the new Taylor Swift video...

... but The Federalist was going on about it incomprehensibly to the point where it was easier to watch the video:

The piece at The Federalist, by Emily Jashinsky, is "Taylor Swift’s ‘You Need To Calm Down’ Is Breathtakingly Elitist." I will now try to read it:
While tech billionaires mine our divisions for profit, Taylor Swift is playing house in a trailer park. That’s the irony of “You Need To Calm Down,” which belongs to the dark era of shrieking keyboard warfare it rebukes, despite a blindingly bright aesthetic.
Yes, it's very candy colored. Taylor Swift makes herself a cotton candy smoothie for breakfast. We're in a special fantasy world.
To illustrate her LGBT pride anthem, Swift assembled the glitterati, casting them as the heroes of a utopian trailer park where her feud with Katy Perry ends, and ugly gay marriage protesters meet their match in a fabulous show of celebrity force.
This badly needs a copy editor. What are "ugly gay marriage protesters" supposed to be protesting? At least give me a hyphen between "gay" and "marriage" so I can see that we're not talking about ugly gay people protesting marriage.

The feud with Katy Perry (news to me) ends with Swift dressed up as a packet of French fries and Perry dressed up as a cheeseburger... and they hug. Because they go together.
[T]he protesters... look like they should be playing banjos in “Deliverance”: toothless, badly dressed, holding misspelled signs.
Who should identify with these people? They're such a cartoony exaggeration, they don't look like anyone who really exists. So everyone's safe.

"Biden’s nostalgia for the good old days of backslapping, and his conviction that it can be revived through interpersonal charm, is a durable Washington myth."

"But Biden’s habit of invoking his friendship with segregationists to illustrate it is particularly dense. For one thing, the example doesn’t actually support the point he’s trying to make. Biden is attempting to tout his ability to work across the aisle, but he’s citing friendships with members of his own party.... For another, by citing segregationists, he is revealing the very reason the bipartisanship he longs for can’t return. The era of bipartisanship was built on suppressing racial conflict. The white South could only be cajoled into a coalition that supported bigger government by preventing African Americans from voting and, at times, outright denying them the benefits of government altogether. He’s invoking the most unappealing aspect of the bipartisanship era. You can argue that forging American consensus was worth the cost of suppressing racial conflict, but actually highlighting the grotesque moral costs of that era is a bizarre way to advertise it.... The most favorable interpretation of Biden’s bipartisanship nostalgia is that he knows he’s peddling baloney, but he’s doing it because people like it...."

From "Joe Biden’s Segregationist Nostalgia Is Even More Ignorant Than It Sounds" by Jonathan Chait (in NY Magazine).

It's inconvenient to Democrats for Biden to remind us of their deplorable historical record. Maybe some of the younger people hadn't noticed that the Democratic Party was the one with all the segregationists.

Biden's an old man, and maybe he's too old to do the onerous job of President, but he does have the advantage of remembering a longer stretch of history. Today, he's being savaged for remembering it with some fondness. Those were the bad old days, say the people who didn't live through them, who demand that the badness be forefronted and beaten into our head continually.

We've already got Trump saying "Make America Great Again." It's weird for Biden to pick up that theme, especially when he's finding the greatness so close to actual, vicious racism. Trump never said Nazis were "very fine people." But he said something somewhere in the vicinity of that and his antagonists made sure it got remembered that way. And now here comes Biden, not saying segregationists were very fine people, but saying something close enough to that to give his antagonists a way to drive it into our head that that he did indeed say that.

Poor Biden! But you've got to be smart and wily to win the presidency, and he needs to be put to the test. He's going to fail, isn't he?

"For a liberal boomer like myself, there’s much to admire about the young: their passion for social justice, their empathy for the underdog, their celebration of racial and gender diversity, their respect for rules..."

"... their penchant for collaboration. But there are troubling signs too—a victim mentality, an intolerance of viewpoint diversity, a distrust of institutions, a wariness about human nature, an aversion to risk, a cynicism about the whole American experiment.... Politically and ideologically, Mosaics are a tsunami-in-waiting. Four million will turn 18 this year. Another four million next year. And so on, for as far as the eye can see. If you’re wondering why the new guard of the Democratic Party has put forward such an audacious agenda this year—wealth tax, carbon-neutral economy, tuition-free college, Medicare for All, universal child care, racial reparations—wonder no more. They’re racing left to keep pace with their future base, which wants leaders who shoot for the moon... The drought in social trust among the young is especially worrisome. In a fast-paced entrepreneurial economy, trust is the grease that keeps the gears from grinding. In an increasingly pluralistic society, it’s the glue that holds the mosaic together. In a self-governing democracy, it’s a rationale for voting and predicate for pragmatic compromise. Why are Mosaics so distrustful?"

From "They're a Blue Tidal Wave—If They Vote/Today's teens are likely to be even more progressive than the millennials who voted in 2018, but will they show up?" by Paul Taylor (American Prospect).

"Mosaics" is Taylor's word for the post-millennial generation. The idea is that these people "want to live in a society where boundaries of race, gender, and sexual orientation are porous, and everyone is free to be whoever he/she/they wants." It's not about Moses, it's about the artwork made up of lots of individual tiles...

(Mosaic of female athletes playing ball at the Villa Romana del Casale of Piazza Armerina, 4th century AD.)

By the way — I just learned this — the word "mosaic," for the artwork, is not derived from the name Moses. It goes back to the Medieval Latin musaicum ‚ "mosaic work, work of the Muses." It's about Muses, not Moses.

"Marijuana Pepsi Vandyck completed her dissertation and received a Ph.D. from Cardinal Stritch University in May."

"She kept her birth name of Marijuana Pepsi to prove to herself and others that you can overcome any obstacles in life and achieve your dreams" — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Her mother, Maggie (Brandy) Johnson, who still lives in Beloit, picked out her name and proclaimed that it would take her around the world... As much as people blamed and judged her mother for the name, Marijuana credits her mom with making her the strong, balanced, entrepreneurial woman she is today. ...

It's fitting that an African American woman who has gone through life as Marijuana Pepsi chose as her dissertation topic: "Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions."

She interviewed black students at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.... Many of the students reported an experience that Marijuana knew all too well. The teacher would stop on their names while taking attendance and begin quizzing them about it in front of everyone.

"I'm sorry," Marijuana replied to a professor who did that to her at Whitewater. "You didn't ask anyone else that. Why are you asking me? My name is Marijuana, thank you."...

"Despite weeks of hype from the president and his campaign, the official kickoff rally for a re-election campaign that he has been running since the day he took office was, in the end, just another rally."

"Mr. Trump had no new campaign message to unveil. He had no new theory of the case to mount against any of his potential opponents. He instead spent much of his time relitigating his outrage against Hillary Clinton’s email server, promising that he would build a wall that was 'stronger, bigger, better and cheaper' and talking about the 'Russia hoax.' When Mr. Trump seemed to sense that the crowd’s energy was sagging, he quickly started polling attendees about what campaign slogan he should use."

That's Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni in "What We Learned From Trump’s Orlando Rally" (NYT), and I agree. I looked forward to the big announcement rally, and I mostly zoned out because I've watched many Trump rallies and this was just another one. I recognized all the riffs.

The NYT article is an 8-point list of observations. What I quoted above was #1: "It was just a rally."

ADDED: It's conceivable that Trump is engaging in some devious trickery, seeming as though he's got nothing new and he'll just be running on autopilot. Maybe he's got all new stuff — or will have it — and he's waiting to drop it when the time is right, and that's not now. If he puts out the new material now, 20 Democratic candidates will rip it apart, and the Democratic race will be about their capacity to counter what will be his actual 2020 campaign. If he withholds it, the Democrats will have less to talk about, and they'll pick their nominee based on who's best suited to fight the Trump of the past.

"That is very bourgeois for such a dedicated leftist. Glad he got stuffed by his own side. I always laugh when liberals get caught in their own traps."

That's one of the comments on "'He's finished!' U2 guitarist The Edge's dreams of building $100million family compound on an untouched Malibu mountainside are shattered after he loses a 14-YEAR legal battle"   (at the The Daily Mail). He spent $9 million for the land and $10 million for the litigation.

The top-rated comment: "U2 the hypocritical band They put their money offshore to evade Ireland taxes. Fly separately in private jets, each have a limosine back stage, then the band walk out and tell fans global warming is bad and preach for 10 minutes. Glad this environment was protected from another U2 hypocrite."

The rejected plan was to build 5 houses, which he called "Leaves in the Wind" to convey the message that these things — bigger than 12,000 square feet each — would barely be noticed. Later, the houses were scaled back to the 9,000-square-foot range.

The quote "He's finished!" comes from a Sierra Club lawyer.

June 18, 2019

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

Coming soon... the live-stream of Trump's Orlando rally, where he's expected to announce that he's running for reelection.

It starts in about half an hour, but you can watch the live stream and listen to the music. As I was writing this post, the music was the old Rolling Stones come-on, "Let's Spend the Night Together" ("I've satisfied your every need/And now I know you will satisfy me..." (so apt!)).

From 1961, in my "imaginary movie project," it's "The Absent-Minded Professor."

As you may remember, I am rewatching movies — one for each year beginning in 1960 — that I saw in the theater when they originally came out — for fun and to compare my present-day reaction to what I can remember feeling when I was young. For 1961, when I was 10 years old, I watched "The Absent-Minded Professor."

1. The professor, played by Fred MacMurray, was really only "absent-minded" about one thing: the woman he was supposed to marry. As the movie begins, he is forgetting to attend his own wedding after already missing 2 attempted weddings — not weddings to different women. There's just one woman and he can't seem to remember to show up to get married to her, and she's about ready to give up. Of course, it's obvious that in the end he will marry her, but I'm sure I worried a lot more about this problem when I was 10. These days, I'm just a little annoyed that the woman's role is to be the long-suffering but perfectly nice match for the man who's the only interesting person here.

2. You'd think a professor would have a professional lab and assistants, but the professor putters around in a shed in his backyard assisted only by a cute dog who listens to his narration. The professor creates "Flubber" (flying rubber) through some freewheeling experimentation that blows up the place. With no regard to public or personal safety, the professor puts the Flubber in his Model T Ford and goes flying about the town.

3. As a kid, I didn't understand much about how the world works, so I must have been open-minded about the flying car and the use of it to bounce on top of road-bound cars driven by people the professor needed to harass. I accepted it when Flubber was smeared on basketball shoes so that the professor's home team could win a basketball game by bouncing over their opponents. To me now, the behavior with the car was a criminal assault and the intervention in the basketball game was cheating.

"Mr. Reich traced the metamorphosis of American society through three levels of consciousness: Consciousness I, the nation’s early self-reliance; Consciousness II, the conformism of the New Deal era..."

"... and Consciousness III, an unshackling from the stifling moral constraints of the 1950s, focusing on spiritual fulfillment. 'The extraordinary thing about this new consciousness,' he wrote, 'is that it has emerged from the machine-made environment of the corporate state, like flowers pushing up through a concrete pavement.... For those who thought the world was irretrievably encased in metal and plastic and sterile stone, it seems a veritable greening of America.'... 'The Greening of America'... might not have appeared in print if Mr. Reich’s mother, who ran the Horace Mann School for Nursery Years in New York, had not mentioned to a parent at the school that her son’s manuscript was languishing at a publisher. The parent was Lillian Ross, a writer for The New Yorker and paramour of the magazine’s editor, William Shawn. The book became a best seller in 1970 despite mixed notices. Reviewing it in The Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt proclaimed that in Mr. Reich 'youth culture has gotten its very own Norman Vincent Peale,' referring to the author of 'The Power of Positive Thinking.' In Mr. Reich’s utopia, he wrote, 'we’ll just stop consuming what we don’t need, stop doing meaningless work, stop playing war and ego games.'"

From "Charles Reich, Who Saw ‘The Greening of America,’ Dies at 91" (NYT).

Angela Merkel shakes disturbingly during the German national anthem.

You see her here standing next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on a hot day in Berlin:

Afterwards, she said "Since then I have drunk at least three glasses of water – I obviously needed that and so I'm doing very well now."

The Mayo Clinic website does not list shaking as a symptom of dehydration.

About that German national anthem (from Wikipedia):
The song is also well known by the beginning and refrain of the first stanza, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles"... but this has never been its title. The line "Germany, Germany above all" originally meant that the most important goal of 19th-century German liberal revolutionaries should be a unified Germany which would overcome loyalties to the local kingdoms, principalities, duchies and palatines (Kleinstaaterei) of then-fragmented Germany.

The melody of the "Deutschlandlied" was written by Joseph Haydn in 1797 to provide music to the poem "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (English: "God save Franz the Emperor") by Lorenz Leopold Haschka... Haydn's work is sometimes called the "Emperor's Hymn". It is often used as the musical basis for the hymnal "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken".
Losing physical control during the German national anthem got me thinking about the last scene in "Dr. Strangelove."

That said, I hope Angela is doing fine, I think Haydn wrote a beautiful song, and I have participated in the singing of "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" many times.

"Tony Robbins punishes followers who fail at his self-help tasks by calling them onstage in front of large crowds and making them drink an unidentified mixture 'designed to have a lasting effect for several hours.'"

"Video and internal documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal that Robbins places 'L' stickers on audience members’ foreheads and then, while the song 'Loser' by Beck plays over the speakers, forces them to down a 'gross shot' whose contents he does not disclose to them.... Robbins’ lawyers denied that the “gross shot” contained laxatives –– only 'pickle juice, apple juice, lemon juice, tomato juice and a dash of tabasco'..."

Buzzfeed reports.

"The question of impeachment hasn't just been employed as effective hospice care, it's become a major talking point among House Democrats..."

"'I shouldn't be judged based on what said when I was 16,' says the 18 year-old applying to colleges that entirely base their decisions on high school resumes."

That's the top-rated comment on "Racist Comments Cost Conservative Parkland Student a Place at Harvard" (NYT).

From the article:
Of the many student activists who emerged from the tragic shooting last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Kyle Kashuv stood out as a conservative defender of the Second Amendment, surrounded by classmates who were mobilizing for sweeping new controls on guns....
“While I support a conservative viewpoint on the Second Amendment, I know that finding common ground is the path to protecting our students,” he wrote [in his college application essay. “I still believe that from the pits of despair, goodness can and will prevail.”...

On Monday, Mr. Kashuv revealed on Twitter that the university this month rescinded its admission offer over a trail of derogatory and racist screeds that it turns out Mr. Kashuv, 18, wrote as a 16-year-old student, months before the shooting that would turn his high school into one of the most famous in the country.
A trail of derogatory and racist screeds.

"'I will find your a** and cut you!'/OJ Simpson is accused of sending threatening messages to parody account @KillerOJSimpson on Twitter after urging operator to delete it."

A Daily Mail article about this:

A true threat? The parody OJ guy does repeatedly indicate that he finds it funny. He also says he only has about 300 followers, and he's got more than 2,500 now. That is, OJ (assuming that's really OJ) is boosting the visibility of the parody account he's trying to get rid of. Another variation on the Streisand effect.

The Twitter account (used in the messaging) is the account that has been in the news and which has video of OJ talking about how he's going to use Twitter:

He's trying to seem super-cheerful, but nearly everything he says cuts two ways. Cuts. He wants to hold other people accountable...

"They put a gun in my daughter's face, and you're asking me about drawers?... My family has been through enough. You see in the video the fear. The sounds of my daughters crying, and you're asking me about some drawers? That's insensitive, that's insulting... I thought we were all going to be executed. By the grace of God, someone was there to video this."

Said Dravon Ames, quoted in "Phoenix PD releases surveillance video showing moment four-year-old girl stole a doll and her father shoplifted underwear from Family Dollar store before family was held at gunpoint by cops... Family is now suing the city for $10million and Jay Z is paying their legal bills" (Daily Mail).

This connects to the Oberlin story we were discussing 2 days ago, when I blogged that I understood the argument that the accusation of racism did not depend entirely on the question whether the suspected shoplifters were guilty. I wrote:
The store clerk seems to have suspected shoplifting not because of the person's race but because he could see 2 wine bottles hidden under his coat, but he "chased the student out onto the street and tackled him," and that's what's racist (in this view). If the chase-and-detain approach is racist, even when the shopkeeper is right about the theft, then it's not false to accuse the shopkeeper of racism.
There's a very long comments thread at that post, and while I haven't read it all, I know many of you resisted what I was saying. I encourage you to continue the conversation here, where the police went wild confronting shoplifters.

ADDED: If I weren't taking this legal issue so seriously, I would be sorely tempted to say now we can replace the question mark in the famous "South Park" mystery....
Phase 1: Collect underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit
Phase 2 is bring a $10 million lawsuit.

June 17, 2019

At the Monday Night Café...

... you can talk all you want.

Anderson Cooper pays tribute to his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who has died at the age of 95.

"White students in New York City are 10 times as likely as Asian students to have a 504 designation that allows extra time on the specialized high school entrance exams."

"White students are also twice as likely as their black and Hispanic peers to have the designation. Students in poverty are much less likely to have a 504 for extra time.... Students with 504s make up a small percentage of all students who took the specialized school exam with more time. Most students granted extra time are served under laws for students with severe disabilities. Using extra time, students with 504s — and therefore less severe disabilities — performed better than the median test-taker, while students with more severe disabilities performed worse. It sometimes falls to families to request 504s, which are typically granted after an often expensive consultation with a professional.... As the number of students using 504s has ballooned nationally over the last decade, experts have questioned whether the practice has become another way for parents to game standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT."

From "Some Students Get Extra Time for New York’s Elite/High School Entrance Exam. 42% Are White" (NYT).

"The key to dealing with the Islamic Republic is to appreciate that it is an exhausted regime, perhaps well on its way to extinction."

"A vulnerable, resentful enemy is a dangerous one. The U.S. should shore up its military might in the region and harden defenses around bases and diplomatic compounds. But the regime's essential weakness means it can't muster sufficient strength for a prolonged conflict with a determined superpower. The mullahs' clenched fists, slogans of martyrdom, and staged demonstrations shouldn't be confused with real power. The Trump administration's strategy of maximum pressure shouldn't be diluted as the two sides edge closer to the negotiating table. Despite the criticisms from Democrats and Europeans, Mr. Trump's Iran policy has had considerable success. He abrogated a deficient agreement that was smoothing Iran's path to a nuclear weapon. He restored sanctions, which many Iran-deal partisans insisted couldn't be done effectively. The economic pain Tehran feels today is as great as when the Europeans implemented their oil embargo in 2012. Iran's oil exports have contracted rapidly, denying the regime billions of dollars in hard currency. The key challenge for the Trump administration now is to sustain its strategy as the Iranians start dangling the possibility of a diplomatic opening."

From "America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran" by Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh (Wall Street Journal).

"I’m sad to report that three or four decades ago, many gay-assertive people (myself included) looked at some of those who identified as bisexual with suspicion..."

"... if not scorn. It wasn’t because we didn’t believe that many were telling the truth about their experience. It was because so many people that I, for one, knew actually identified as gay had been exploiting the 'bi' term as a sexual caveat to avoid the risks of coming out completely. Or, at the very least, they were taking the term on loan as a baby step in that direction.... When celebrities whom everyone knew to be gay—but who hadn’t affirmed it in the media—were asked about such things, they tended to deliver exactly the kinds of statements we hear from some LGBTQ people today. They’d say, 'I don’t want to be labeled,' or 'I’m just sexual,' or 'I’m open.' Today, those descriptions signal broad-mindedness. Back then, they felt like a betrayal, a hedging that pushed the movement back a step, making those of us who had come out feel more isolated and vulnerable at a time when being out had far greater consequence.... If nearly any progressively minded person can find some way to identify as queer, what, exactly, does the term even mean? When I hear about fluidity in that context, it sounds like something made to wash away gay history—my history—drowning it in inclusiveness to broaden its clout."

From "Categorically Gay/For queer people who grew up in an era when rigid identities were essential, today’s fluidity can feel like their history is washing out with the tide" by Jim Farber (in Slate).

Drowning it in inclusiveness to broaden its clout — an interesting phrase. The metaphor is a little overambitious. You've got the water of "fluidity" and it's "washing away" and "drowning," but it's also designed to have "clout." A "clout" is something done with a fist or a hard object. "Fluidity" doesn't deliver "clout."

I'm just talking about whether the metaphor is good, not saying I can't puzzle out the meaning. Bear with me a little longer.

In the phrase, what's getting washed away and drowned is gay history, but the clout has a different target. The clout is to — what? — all the forces of heteronormativity (or something like that). There's too much going on there.

But I can see what he means. Broadening is weakening. Inclusiveness is diluting.

"One House of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process."

Writes Justice Ginsburg for the majority this morning in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, a racial gerrymandering case that the court below decided against the state of Virginia.

The majority consists of the refreshing assemblage of Ginsburg, Thomas, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch. Alito writes a dissenting opinion joined by Roberts, Breyer, and Kavanaugh.

After the 3-judge district court decided the case against the Virginia State Board of Elections, the state Attorney General said that the state would not appeal. (The appeal would be directly to the Supreme Court under the jurisdiction statute.) "Virginia has thus chosen to speak as a sovereign entity with a single voice," and the House of Delegates had no standing to continue the litigation. That's the majority's take.

The dissent stresses the 3-part "injury-in-fact" test for standing, finds that the House has the needed "concrete and particularized injury," and declares it "revealing that the Court never asserts that the effect of the court-ordered plan at issue would not cause the House 'concrete' harm." You can articulate an injury the House faces, and Alito does:

The Supreme Court rules that the cable company's public access channel is not a state actor.

Here's Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, released moments ago. It's 5-4, written by Justice Kavanaugh, and the split is where you'll guess without looking.

From SCOTUSblog:
This was a case in which the public-access channel was sued after it suspended two people who produced a film that was critical of the channel from access to the channel's facilities and services.

Justice Kavanaugh emphasizes that the First Amendment's prohibitions apply only to state (governmental) actors and concludes that the threshold requirement of state action is missing here.

"lunch (n.) 'mid-day repast, small meal between breakfast and dinner,' 1786, a shortened form of luncheon...

"... which is of uncertain origin; it appears to be identical with an older word meaning 'thick piece, hunk' (1570s), which perhaps evolved from lump (n.) [OED]. There also was a contemporary nuncheon 'light mid-day meal,' from noon + Middle English schench 'drink.' Old English had nonmete 'afternoon meal,' literally 'noon-meat.'... As late as 1817 the only definition of lunch (n.) in Webster's is 'a large piece of food,' but this is now obsolete or provincial."

From Etymology Online, which I'm reading after having a conversation based on the discussion in the previous post of the Trump quote "I’m not a breakfast guy at all, fortunately. I like the lunches but the dinners is what I really like."

So the original use of "lunch" is like this (from the OED):
1600 R. Surflet tr. C. Estienne & J. Liébault Maison Rustique vii. xxv. 850 He shall take breade and cut it into little lunches [Fr. loppins] into a pan with cheese.
And the oldest in-print use of "lunch" to mean the meal is:
1829 H. D. Best Personal & Lit. Mem. 307 The word lunch is adopted in that ‘glass of fashion’, Almacks, and luncheon is avoided as unsuitable to the polished society there exhibited.
Somehow, people decided it was low class to say "luncheon."  In the 1600s, people were saying "luncheon" to refer to a meal, and it was originally a snack between breakfast and the midday meal (called "dinner"):
a1652 R. Brome Madd Couple Well Matcht v. i, in Wks. (1873) I. 92 Noonings, and intermealiary Lunchings.
4 words, and 3 of them are new to me: l. noonings, 2. intermealiary, 3. lunchings.

"Nooning" (as a synonym for "lunch") appears in Mark Twain's "Tramp Abroad" (1880): "A German gentleman and his two young lady daughters had been taking their nooning at the inn."

Trump talks about FDR's wheelchair ramp and Obama's preference in paintings.

There are things in the unedited transcripts of Trump's interview with George Stephanopoulos that were not used in the prime-time ABC show that aired last night.

I've noticed a few (and I've speculated about why these things were cut when there was so much repetition of Stephanopoulos badgering Trump about the use of the word "collusion"). There's this, which perhaps was cut because it conflicts with the narrative that Trump only cares about Trump. The 2 men are walking through the colonnade at the White House:
TRUMP: It’s an incredible part of the White House, it is and you see it all of your life and you know you see president's walking back and forth with others. This is an incredible place. And you have a ramp over there, and the ramp you can see was put in and it actually doesn’t qualify under… because it’s supposed to be more gradual--


TRUMP: But that was put in for FDR. He didn’t want anybody lifting him with the wheelchair. So you have ramps throughout certain areas of the White House. But, uh this one over here was, uh, it’s pretty tough to walk down it, actually. I’m always a little bit careful walking down that ramp, it’s steep.
The TV version cut all of the discussion of the ramp.

And, later, in the Oval Office:
STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s the biggest personal touch you’ve put on the office?

TRUMP: I put a lot of them. The flags. You didn’t have flags to any great degree. You had an American flag, but for the most part you didn’t have flags. Uh, it’s quite a bit different than President Obama. Uh he had some fairly modern paintings, a couple. We didn’t want that. We brought it back to Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton, George Washington, very famous picture of George Washington and I like that.
The part about the flags was left in, but not the discussion of the paintings.

I liked the personal things, the things devoid of politics. I especially liked this (spoken as he walks to his office in the morning):
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you a big breakfast guy?

TRUMP: Uh I’m not a breakfast guy at all, fortunately. I like the lunches but the dinners is what I really like.
He likes dinners. How about you? Are dinners your big meal? Do you end big or are you a big breakfast person? Put the meals of the day in the order that you're big on them....

Did Trump say that Obama was behind a group of people who were trying to steal the election using the fake dossier?

From the unedited transcripts of Trump's interview with George Stephanopoulos (which aired in edited form on ABC last night). I'll boldface the crucial language:
TRUMP: [T]hey could not get the fake dossier printed prior to the election... But had that been printed before the election, that could have changed the whole election. And that's what they wanted to do: steal. And Comey and all these lowlives, they wanted to have that fake dossier, which was all phony stuff. They wanted it to go out before the election, George. And you know what? Had that gone out before the election, I-- I don't think I could've-- I don't think I would've had enough time to defend myself--

STEPHANOPOULOS: You clearly believe there was-- a group of people working against you. Do you think President Obama was behind it?

TRUMP: I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain. But you're going to find that out. I'm not going to make-- that statement quite yet. But I would say that President Obama had to know about it....

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe that President Obama spied on your campaign--

TRUMP: I don't know. But hopefully we're going to find out.
He ends with that "I don't know," but I think he revealed that he did know. Why would he say "I'm not going to make that statement quite yet" if he didn't already have a plan to make the statement in the future? To say "you're going to find that out" suggests that he has already found out.

Notice that Stephanopoulos asks his question 2 ways and gets different answers. When asked whether Obama was "behind" what was "a group of people working against" him, Trump says he's not ready to talk about that "quite yet," while indicating, I believe, that he himself already know. The follow up question has Obama directly involved in a specific activity — Did Obama spy? As to that, Trump says he doesn't know but hopes to find out.

June 16, 2019

At the Sunday Night Café...

... you're on your own.

"In 2016, the people on the campaign like to say that they were building the airplane while it was in flight. This time, he will have a campaign that is befitting of an incumbent president of the United States."

Said Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for the 2020 Trump campaign, quoted in "Trump campaign makes a radical break from 2016/The president’s 2020 campaign is flipping the script from its ham-fisted approach the first time Trump sought elected office" (Politico).
Indeed, one official involved in Trump’s first presidential campaign likened the experience to a slow-motion plane crash: “We were strapped in on a sloppily assembled machine that was gradually spiraling out of control.”

"Death will come soon to hush us along/Sweeter than honey and bitter as gall..."

Goodbye to Franco Zeffirelli, hushed along at age 96.

Here's the NYT obituary, "Franco Zeffirelli, Italian Director With Taste for Excess, Dies at 96."
His interest in Shakespeare was awakened by an older British woman, Mary O’Neill, who tutored him in English as a child and imbued him with ethical values that foiled the Fascist curriculum served up at school.

“She kept injecting in me the cult of freedom of democracy that remained in my DNA for the rest of my life,” Mr. Zeffirelli told Opera News....

He went on to study architecture at the University of Florence, until the onset of World War II interrupted his education. He joined Communist partisan forces, first fighting Mussolini’s Fascists and then the occupying Nazis. Captured by the Fascists, he was saved from the firing squad when his interrogator miraculously turned out to be a half brother whom he had never known. The half brother arranged his release....

In the late 1940s, the director Luchino Visconti spotted Mr. Zeffirelli, blond and blue-eyed, working as a stagehand in Florence.... A smitten Mr. Visconti gave him his big break in 1949, making him his personal assistant and set designer .... The two became romantically involved and lived together for three years. In his autobiography, published in 2006, Mr. Zeffirelli wrote that he considered himself “homosexual,” disliking the term “gay” as inelegant....
"Romeo and Juliet" is the 1968 movie in my "imaginary film project." What an impact that had on me when I was 17! My high school "outing club" "arts society" took the bus into Manhattan to see it.

The lyrics quoted in the post title are from the song "What Is a Youth" that you hear in the beautiful film clip embedded above. The words do not appear in the text of "Romeo and Juliet." The song lyrics were gathered (by Eugene Walter) "from songs in other Shakespearean plays, particularly Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice." The composer is the great Nino Rota.

On Friday, I complained that the NYT published only "thin, undigested AP material" on the Oberlin punitive damages verdict.


But later that day, the Times published a full-scale article — "Oberlin Helped Students Defame a Bakery, a Jury Says. The Punishment: $33 Million" by Anemona Hartocollis — and it's a little obscure but, reading it carefully, I understood Oberlin's argument for the first time. I had thought that Oberlin just got the facts wrong when it accused the bakery of racism. I now see that the argument is that even if the bakery stopped blatant shoplifters, the accusation of racism stands.

Let me show you how this argument emerges from the text:
Gibson’s bakery, a local establishment known for its whole wheat doughnuts and chocolate-covered grapes, became the target of a boycott by students who accused it of racially profiling a black student.... Oberlin maintained that college officials had gotten involved only to keep the peace, and that it was supporting its students, not their claims that Gibson’s was racist. But the jury found that Oberlin had clearly chosen sides without first examining the facts....

Oberlin tried to distance itself from the protesters in court papers, saying it should not be held responsible for their actions. It blamed the store for bringing its problems on itself.

“Gibson bakery’s archaic chase-and-detain policy regarding suspected shoplifters was the catalyst for the protests,” the college said. “The guilt or innocence of the students is irrelevant to both the root cause of the protests and this litigation.”
Got that? It's irrelevant that the suspected shoplifters were real shoplifters. What the students called racist was the "chase-and-detain policy."

The store clerk seems to have suspected shoplifting not because of the person's race but because he could see 2 wine bottles hidden under his coat, but he "chased the student out onto the street and tackled him," and that's what's racist (in this view). If the chase-and-detain approach is racist, even when the shopkeeper is right about the theft, then it's not false to accuse the shopkeeper of racism.
Allyn Gibson, the 32-year-old store clerk, was trained in martial arts, according to Oberlin’s court papers, and his decision to chase down and tackle a student “beyond the borders of their store and into full public view of their customer base” opened him and the store up to public criticism....

Neither the college nor the dean ever said or wrote anything defamatory about the plaintiffs, the college said. In fact, it added, there was a split in opinion within the college community as to whether the Gibsons were racist or not, and it was their constitutional right to express their opinions on that score....

“Part of the narrative that has been built up is that Oberlin’s administration weaponized students against Gibson’s out of malice,” [Kameron Dunbar, who just graduated from Oberlin]. “I find that concept to be pretty insulting. We’re autonomous.”
The larger question — barely gestured at in the article — is what is racism? It may be a good idea to consider each human individual "autonomous," but the school is part of the culture that shapes the concept of racism, and racism can be understood broadly, perhaps broadly enough to include a chase-and-detain policy, broadly enough to make the policy racist without regard to guilt or innocence.

When can you express the opinion that someone is racist? The term is thrown around a lot these days. Is it defamation to use "racist" in the broad sense? There are a lot of people these days who think anyone who supports Trump is a racist. If some shop loses business because people know the owner voted for Trump and that's their idea of racism and they go around telling each other not to shop in the store because it's owned by a racist, can the shop owner sue them all and win damages?

How does free speech work if we can't call each other racist for any damned thing we choose to imagine is racist?

"So while in the past it might have been applauded and seen as almost an honor to have... your culture absorbed by some rarefied French fashion house..."

"... I think today people - you know, they don't see that as an honor. They see that as insult. They see it as, how dare you? Like, I own this. You don't."

Said Robin Givhan, quoted in "Mexico Calls Out Carolina Herrera For Appropriating Indigenous Groups' Patterns" (NPR).

No pictures there. (It's "radio.") Here are some pictures of the offending clothes at The Daily Beast. The fabrics will look very familiar. Herrera isn't the first designer to appropriate them. It's more like she's reappropriating the stuff of decades of hippiewear.

LATIN HOLIDAY Sunrise in Tulum The light of Lima Strolls in Mexico City The waves of José Ignacio Dancing in Buenos Aires The colors of Cartagena The Carolina Herrera Resort 2020 collection takes on the playful and colorful mood of a Latin holiday. Inspired by the House spirit of alegria de vivir that is synonymous with the resort season, this collection is about visceral reactions of delight—eclectic patterns, unexpected silhouettes, pulsating energy. This is my favorite collection that I have ever been a part of and I am so grateful to my amazing design team and the brilliant patternmakers and seamstresses who tirelessly brought it to life. And an especially huge thank you to the genius that is @tabithasimmons. These are just a few of the gorgeous images by @dariocatellani. Go to vogue.com to see the rest ❤️💙💚🧡💛
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Vanessa Friedman at the NYT validates cultural appropriation (but not completely):