July 6, 2019

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can talk about anything.

With all the talk about The Russians!!!! these last few years, it was fun to watch "The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!"...

... the 1966 entry in my "imaginary movie project." (As you may have noticed already, I watch a movie for each year, beginning in 1960, that I saw in the theater at the time it came out.)

This is a big long sprawling comedy, with a lot of people getting crazy and driving around, so it's an awful lot like "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," my 1963 movie, blogged here, where I observed that the theme was:
Order or chaos. Society or a raw state of nature. Driving according to the rules of the road or speeding and veering and sailing off a cliff. They must decide!

It's a comedy, so they keep choosing chaos. They only come back to order — let's work together — now and then to create a new opportunity for crazy chaos.
Well, "The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!" is also a comedy, and there's also a struggle between order and chaos, but though the people do keep freaking out and running amok — because they think the Russians are invading — they keep coming back to order. They even find harmony with the Russians — who are climbing onto an American island because their submarine ran aground — simply by experiencing their common humanity. It's sort of like in that 1985 Sting song...

"... real deep color. And I kinda go in here at the bottom..."

Didn't see that one coming... from r/youseeingthisshit

ADDED: The debunking.

AND: What gives it away as fake is how badly she strokes the lipstick on the lower lip before the shaking begins. You put lipstick on more carefully than that. But she knows the shaking is about to occur and she's already putting the lipstick on badly when the shaking begins. This may be in part because she can't act normal knowing the abnormality is about to hit, but I think it's more because she knows she needs to be pressing the lipstick hard against her mouth so she'll produce the comical smear across the cheek (and not have her hand shake loose and not leave a mark).

"I think we need to get under the desk."

Why I'm not convinced by Scott Adams's reasons for thinking Trump is not considering dropping Mike Pence as VP.

Two words: Nikki Haley.

Trump didn't choose Pence in 2016 because he'd make the best Vice President. He chose him because he was the best help in winning. The question is who will be the best help in 2020. And we know Trump loves political theater.

Adams goes on about how Pence has "subjugated" his own ambition. Subjugation lends itself to more subjugation. If Trump wants Pence to gracefully withdraw, he will. Don't you think? There doesn't need to be anything "wrong" with Pence for Trump to move him aside. Adams says Pence has "earned it" and asks his viewers don't they all agree that Pence has "earned it." I don't think that's the test!

I forgot to take note of the 30-year anniversary of the premiere of "Seinfeld."

That was yesterday.

I see my son John blogged the occasion by identifying his 20 favorite Seinfeld episodes. His #1 is the one I've always thought of as my favorite.

He cross-posted at Facebook here, where he says (responding to people who were surprised "The Contest" didn't make his top 10):
I wrote the list after watching each episode and thinking about the whole thing, including the weak points, which every episode has. The weakness of “The Contest” is it’s all focused on the same theme for all 4 characters, which can get boring. I mean, is Elaine crushing on John F. Kennedy Jr. one of the best things in the series? I don’t think so. While it’s one of the best episodes, I think there are at least 10 that are most consistently great overall (not just the most memorable moments)....

Also, it’s my personal reaction to the episodes, and some of them like “The Contest” have gotten a little less exciting just because they’re so famous. Some of the more obscure or off-beat ones are especially fun to watch precisely because they’re *not* quoted all the time.
So... a preference for the off-beat over the beat off.

"Forgive your worst enemies... The moment I forgave the Nazis, I felt free from Auschwitz and from all the tragedy that had occurred to me."

Said Ewa Kor, quoted in "Eva Kor, survivor of Mengele, dies during annual trip to Auschwitz/Forgiveness advocate who dedicated her life to Holocaust awareness testified in 2015 trial of SS officer Oskar Groening" (The Guardian).
During the trial, Kor described her experiences at the hands of Mengele, who had a fascination for twins. She and her twin sister, Miriam, were 10 years old and managed to survive the regular mystery injections from Mengele, who was dubbed the “Angel of Death”.

Kor recalled how, suffering a high fever, she saw Mengele at her bedside, “laugh sarcastically”. “Too bad, she’s so young. She has only two weeks to live,” she recalled him saying.

Crawling on the floor because she was unable to walk, Kor said she went on to find her sister who had been injected with a substance to freeze the growth of her kidneys. “If I had died, Miriam would have been killed with an injection in the heart. Mengele would have performed comparative autopsy,” she said.

"I will set out a vision for Britain as the greatest place on Earth. The greatest place to be, the greatest place to live, to raise a family. The greatest place to send your kids to school, the greatest place to breathe clean air."

Said Boris Johnson.

Trump only proposed making America "great" (and only "again," that is, only as great as it was in the past). Boris goes for the superlative, "greatest," but he ties greatness to aspects of ordinary life — just living and having kids and breathing fresh air. That's not the mode greatness that characterized Britain's past. There's a smallness to the greatness.

"I believe that we were created to birth without invention and that women possess the God-given wisdom and intuition to birth their babies free from regulation."

Wrote Angela Hock, on her website advertising midwife services, quoted in "Unlicensed Nebraska Midwife Is Arrested in Newborn’s Death After Home Delivery/Angela Hock could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of negligent child abuse resulting in the death of a baby" (NYT).

Her lawyer says, "She is not a medical provider. She makes that clear with respect to her clientele. My client is an old school midwife, in that she’s not certified. Midwife is in the Old Testament, if you will.... They wanted to have a birth in their bedroom. Didn’t want to go to the hospital."

"Midwife" is, indeed, in the Old Testament...

Genesis 35:16-18:
While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
Genesis 38:27-30:
When the time came for [Tamar] to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez. Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

"You'd have to do a Vlad the Impaler fezznailing move to get a MAGA cap on my head. But Helmstetter is a self-righteous jerk who got what he deserved."

"And was lucky he didn't get his clock cleaned in the process. Good call by the restaurant."

A comment on "After confronting a diner in a MAGA hat, customer gets tossed from Hill Country Barbecue" (WaPo).

From the article:
A public relations contractor who previously worked for the Democratic National Committee said that he was kicked out of Hill Country Barbecue Market after he confronted a diner wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat on the Fourth of July....

“We had just walked in when I saw the guy sitting by the bar with the MAGA hat,” Helmstetter wrote. “I said, ‘Hey, are you from D. C.?’ ” The man said no, and Helmstetter said he responded, “We don’t tolerate racism in this city.”...

On Twitter, Helmstetter said that Hill Country “chose to protect the Nazi’s right but not mine” to dine at the restaurant...

In the cold accounting of Twitter, Helmstetter’s comment was getting “ratioed,” meaning his tweet had received more negative replies than likes. By Friday afternoon, before Helmstetter made his account private, his tweet had garnered nearly 2,300 likes compared with nearly 5,000 comments, many of them negative....
He didn't just get negative comments, he garnered them.

Example of a negative comment:
You didn't stand up to a Nazi. You harassed a guy for wearing a hat you don't like and called him a Nazi because he doesn't agree with your politics.

You threw a hissy fit, made a scene and got asked to leave as a result.

Did you know that Alan Arkin co-wrote "The Banana Boat Song"?

Before he was an actor, he was a member of the folksinging group "The Tarriers," and before Harry Belafonte had a big hit the the song, it belonged to The Tarriers:

From Arkin's IMDB biography:
He was born Alan Wolf Arkin on March 26, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. His family were Jewish emigrants from Russia and Germany. In 1946, the Arkins moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, California. His father, David I. Arkin, was an artist and writer, who worked as a teacher, and lost his job for merely refusing to answer questions about his political affiliation during the 1950s Red Scare. His father challenged the politically biased dismissal and eventually prevailed, but unfortunately it was after his death....

[Alan Arkin] sang in a college folk-band, and was involved in a drama class. He dropped out of college to form the folk music group The Tarriers, in which Arkin was the lead singer and played guitar. He co-wrote the 1956 hit "The Banana Boat Song"...

Marianne Williamson edits herself into the Vogue photoshoot of female Democratic candidates.

Via "Marianne Williamson was left out of a photo shoot of the women running for president. So she posted an edited version" (CNN).

July 5, 2019

At the Hollyhock Café...


... you can talk all you like.

In "Dr. Zhivago," one line stands out — starkly — and reveals the meaning of the long, stately sequence of images.

Ah, I know I could not understand it in 1965 when I was 14, and I could barely understand movies at all. I hadn't yet accustomed myself to cinematic storytelling. I was continually confused. Why are they going there? Is that the same guy? It took me a while to face the fact that it was my job to pick up the clues and put things together. If you're drifting along waiting for things to make sense, wondering what you're looking at that and why are they doing that, a 3-hour-and-39-minute movie is an awful slog.

And it was a slog the second time around too. Even with better understanding of the grammar of film, I wasn't patient with the filmmaker's approach to storytelling, the long lingering on images — branches of trees waving in the wind, a corpse inside a grave, the gray sky, the balalaika, the expanses of snow, the frosted-up windows, the lovers' eyes. It was only thinking about it the next day that it occurred to me that all those shots represented the poetry that formed inside the head of Dr. Zhivago. We were told time and again that he was a great poet, but not one word of his poetry was ever heard. Instead, we got the poetry of the filmmaker (David Lean). I don't believe his shots were wonderful enough to stand in for great poetry, but then, if we'd heard the words, they probably wouldn't have sounded so great either. So let the big brown gazing eyes of Omar Sharif represent ART!

The line that reveals the meaning of the movie is: "The personal life is dead in Russia. History has killed it." The revolution has taken place and Zhivago is confronted by the Bolshevik commander Strelnikov (Pasha Antipov):
Pasha: I used to admire your poetry.
Zhivago: Thank you.
Pasha: I shouldn't admire it now. I should find it absurdly personal. Don't you agree? Feelings, insights, affections... it's suddenly trivial now. You don't agree; you're wrong. The personal life is dead in Russia. History has killed it. 
I had trouble in 1965 — and I had trouble in 2019 — understanding why I should care about Dr. Zhivago's romantic life. He has a wife, and she's perfectly fine (Tonya, played by Geraldine Chaplin), but he's fixated on another woman (Lara, played by Julie Christie), and we're supposed to root for Lara, apparently because her eyes are fakely lighted up and a balalaika tune plays every time Zhivago feels drawn to her.

You give up your privacy, but other than that...

"At the same moment she put her birth control on full display — and as other users posted comments such as 'yeetus the fetus,' meaning to get an abortion..."

"... the abortion debate was raging across the country. 'I was thinking while I was making it, "Do I want to post this?" Because it is a controversial thing,' she says. 'But I think that birth control is being normalized with teenagers, so I didn’t think it would be a big deal.... I think it’s definitely cool that one girl can do something, and then all these other girls see it, and it’s normalized...'... The story of this particular viral video... showcases young women in all their random, irreverent, teenage glory... It’s no wonder TikTok is wildly popular amongst Gen-Z’ers, given their inclination toward humor...Videos such as Bass’s show that they’re creative; they’re politically aware; they’ve got a sense of humor: "When I watched the video, I thought, "Gosh, this just totally encapsulates what Generation Z is."'"

From "TikTok is a wildly popular app among teenage girls. Here’s how one 15-year-old’s birth control video went viral/Ava Bass wasn’t expecting the video of her pill case to garner more than 2 million views — but its success encapsulates much about Generation Z" (at WaPo's The Lily).

Here's the video, showing the creation of an image of a woman throwing a swaddled infant away.

The image decorates a birth-control-pill package, so it represents the rejecting of the idea of having a baby, not the abuse of a living child. But it did cause commenters to write "yeetus the fetus," which is a crude (and new to me) expression of enthusiasm for abortion.

"I don’t have to atone... my record stands for itself. I’ve never been accused by anybody... of not being an overwhelming supporter of civil rights and civil liberties... This is kind of a new thing."

Said Joe Biden, quoted in "Harris’s views on busing come under question after her debate criticism of Biden’s past position" (WaPo).

I guess the old man isn't ready to deal with "a new thing."

I'd like to see him lean into that. Of course, a President must be able to deal with a new thing. But saying "This is kind of a new thing" doesn't mean he didn't anticipate the attack Harris let fly at the debate. It's rhetoric. He's saying he's been credited for many many years as a supporter of civil rights and he has a long record supporting that big reputation. That's a way of saying you know who I am and you can trust me. You don't know this other person who's leveraging her reputation, saying things about me that you know are not true, and all because I'm the front-runner, and she doesn't have a long record. You shouldn't trust her. That's what I hear. It's all implied, and he's reinforcing his strongest point: He's the one with the long, solid record.

He shouldn't punch down, but should he punch up? Now, I'm reading "‘I’d smack him in the mouth’: Biden seeks to dispel concerns about his ability to take on Trump after shaky debate performance" (WaPo):
“The idea that I’d be intimidated by Donald Trump — he’s the bully that I knew my whole life,” Biden said [in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo]. “He’s the bully that I’ve always stood up to. He’s the bully that used to make fun when I was a kid that I stutter, and I’d smack him in the mouth...."
Okay. Trump's the bully, so punch him in the face. Yeesh. But what about Harris, the Democrat, the female can?
"I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn’t prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me,” Biden said, adding that he felt he and Harris knew each other well and that she also knew his late son, Beau Biden.
Not prepared? But I thought you had all that life experience with bullies? Don't bullies come at you when you're not ready to fight? Either you know the ways of the bully and are ready to go or you are not. I guess it's definitional. Who's a bully? Maybe the answer for Biden is whoever makes you want to punch them in the mouth.

"President Trump on Friday said he is 'thinking of' issuing an executive order to allow for a citizenship question on the 2020 census..."

"... as his administration faced a midafternoon court deadline to say how it planned to move forward.... Mr. Trump said he was considering four or five options about how to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census after the Supreme Court ruled that the administration’s rationale for creating such a question was 'contrived.' ... 'We’ll see what happens,' Mr. Trump said on Friday. 'We could also add an addition on. So we could start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision. So we’re working on a lot of things including an executive order.... I have a lot of respect for Justice Roberts, but he didn’t like it... But he did say come back — essentially he said come back.'"

The NYT reports.

"I have no patience for contemporary handlebar mustaches. They anger me. They look indulgent and ridiculous."

"If you have a handlebar mustache, that is pretty much all you are. You are a delivery system for a handlebar mustache. I saw a guy in Brooklyn once with a handlebar mustache, pierced ears, a fedora hat and jodhpurs. He was a collage of sartorial attempts at evading himself. It looked as if he were interrupted during a shave in the mid-1850s and had to grab some clothes and dress quickly while being chased through a time tunnel."

From "My Desperate, Stupid, Emotional Hunt for the Perfect Pants" by Marc Maron (NYT, 2013).

Watch Melania as the band plays the "beauty of the lilies Christ" verse of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" at yesterday's salute to America.

I was waiting to see if the band — I think it's the United States Marine Band ("The President's Own") — would sing the strikingly religious, decisively Christian verse of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

There's a long pause, so you think the song might be over, but then it begins —
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.
So I was watching very closely at this point, and I found Melania's reaction fascinating:

I'm seeing her lean toward Trump as if by magnetic force at the first line of that verse. I think she's affected hearing about Christ. She's religious (perhaps) or struck by the daring of the inclusion of forthright religion. Or maybe the words "born across the sea" felt personal to her, born overseas. Does she associate her husband with Christian religion?

Is the magnetism charisma?
Charisma (/kəˈrɪzmə/) is compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.

Scholars in sociology, political science, psychology, and management reserve the term for a type of leadership seen as extraordinary; in these fields, the term "charisma" is used to describe a particular type of leader who uses "values-based, symbolic, and emotion-laden leader signaling."

In Christian theology, the term appears as charism, an endowment or extraordinary power given by the Holy Spirit....

The basis for modern secular usage comes from German sociologist Max Weber... "Charisma is a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities."
By the way, in that clip, do the singers keep the original line, "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free," or do they change "die"? I know sometimes "die" is changed to "live," but they don't do that. I hear the "-ie" sound clearly, but with no articulation of the "d." Do they say "hie" — which means hurry — "Let us hie to make men free"?

I think if you're going to sing that verse at all and compare yourself to Christ, you need to stick with the original, "die." I can see dropping the whole verse, because it's questionable as a matter of taste, theology, and the separation of church and state. But if you're going to sing it, the best way to justify your choice is history, so hew precisely to the original text.

"This isn’t a question of property rights. This is a question of fraud. In this modern era, social media networks are the new public square."

"Banning – and worse, secretly banning while deceiving the user into believing their content is being shared equally – excludes individuals from public life.... Social media companies cannot eat their cake and have it too. They cannot enjoy the privileges of being a platform, such as immunity from liability for users’ content, while also enjoying the privileges of being a publisher to control what everyone may or may not say on their network."

Said John Reilly, a Republican in the Michigan legislature, about a new bill. He's quoted in "Michigan Bill Would Ban ‘Viewpoint Discrimination’ By Facebook, Google" (michigancapitolconfidential.com)(via Instapundit).
The legislation would amend the state Consumer Protection Act to explicitly prohibit “a provider of an interactive computer service” that represents itself as “viewpoint neutral, impartial, or nonbiased” from taking certain actions based on a user’s political views. It could not: “block a user's speech; censor a user's speech; ban a user; remove a user’s speech; shadow ban a user; deplatform a user; deboost a user; demonetize a user; otherwise restrict the speech of a user.”
Based on that language, I'm going to assume that Facebook/Google could maintain their independence and avoid endless litigation by making a clear statement that they retain the right to censor and minimize any speech that in their sole judgment violates their terms of service and that — because judgment is unavoidably subjective — they cannot and therefore do not promise to operate in a manner that is viewpoint neutral, impartial, or nonbiased.

If the law is premised on fraud, Facebook and Google could simply eliminate what Reilly is characterizing as fraudulent. If what they want is to force the private companies to uphold freedom of speech, they run into the problems of the free speech rights that the companies themselves can claim.

Slate's Trump-of-July headline is not a complete left-wing nightmare.

"Donald Trump’s 'Salute to America' Was Not a Complete Authoritarian Nightmare."

That's the headline. From the text:
Credit where it’s due: The president did not go full authoritarian on the National Mall today.

At his “Salute to America” event, Donald Trump did not reference his reelection campaign; condemn undocumented immigrants; describe journalists as enemies of the people; or attack Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or Bette Midler while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial flanked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and some of the world’s deadliest military hardware. Yes, this is a low standard, but the president has not always shown the same level of restraint in military settings.

Except for a few brief mentions of border security and the defeat of ISIS, there was almost no discussion of current events, debates, or controversies.... [I]n truth, the speech itself was fairly innocuous as Trump speeches go....

Trump closed his speech on a note of unity, describing Americans as “one people chasing one dream and one magnificent destiny.” But the event, which will likely be viewed by half the country as a patriotic tribute to men and women in uniform, and the other half as a corrupt, quasi-fascistic boondoggle, only highlighted yet again that as a people, we are anything but one.
Well, you guys backed off from calling it "a corrupt, quasi-fascistic boondoggle." Why do you assume that the rest of us are so set in our ways?

I know, they didn't call it "a corrupt, quasi-fascistic boondoggle," but they got those words in there. They did that by attributing the thought to other people — the other people being HALF the people in the country.

It's delusional to think that 100% of the people in the country pay attention to politics and have a specific, set viewpoint. I'd bet most Americans, when forced to think about political matters at all on July 4th, are amenable to the notion of coming together and feeling reasonably good about who we are as a nation. But Slate ends with the idea that we're just split down the middle, and the best Trump could do is just not make it any worse — that is, he was "fairly innocuous."

July 4, 2019

Watch the “Salute to America”...

... and talk about it here.

"It is a sure sign that summer has arrived in China when men start rolling up their shirts, ideally resting them on the natural ledge of their beer belly."

"The theory, based in traditional Chinese medicine, is that exposing one’s midriff helps air out the warm 'chi' energy around the internal organs. So in parks and on street corners, on motorbikes and at open restaurants, men think nothing of pulling up their shirts and letting it all hang out. But now authorities in cities around the country have declared that the broader practice of exposing body parts that should be covered — including chests, bellies and feet — is unseemly...  Many commenters on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, supported the various governments’ efforts. The most popular response was the one that recommended promoting this effort nationwide. Another supporter said: 'I can’t stand it. They make public places their own home. It’s as if they are taking the sky as their quilt and the earth their bed.'... 'It’s not a big deal. It’s just our habit. We have to do this when it’s hot,' said a man... sitting in a deck chair outside his building supplies store in a Beijing alley... his blue shirt entirely open. 'We are shirtless because we need to cool down,' he said, while his wife yelled from inside the store: 'It’s not civilized.'...  'It’s a personal style, said one [man]. 'If women reveal their belly it’s beautiful, but when we do it, it’s ugly?'

From "A mainstay of the Chinese summer, the ‘Beijing bikini,’ is under threat" (WaPo). Top-rated comment:
"It’s as if they are taking the sky as their quilt and the earth their bed." — Beautiful language, but the ancient wisdom is captured in this story: "What are you doing meditating in your hut with no pants on?" "The whole world is my hut. This small room is my pants. What I want to know is, what are you doing in my pants?"
I tried to track down that "ancient wisdom." I'm always dubious about references to "ancient Chinese wisdom." It's here, in one book at least... at most? I'm skeptical, but also, it's not an apt joke — that's all it is, a joke, not wisdom, even if it is ancient — because it's one thing to be naked in your home, another thing to inflict it on others in public. But as we say in American free speech analysis: Avert your eyes.

It's the Era of That's Not Funny.

I've been saying it with my tag since November 17, 2017, but here's Drudge, noticing that John Waters has noticed it:

The Waters link goes to a June 28th piece in Vulture, which I blogged on June 28th, here. I've already quoted the relevant stuff. Asked if Trump makes him laugh, Waters said:
Never. But neither do most of the Democrat character candidates running now either. And you could argue it’s not a funny time, which is true.... There are 40 [Democrats] that are going to divide it all up. You know, the gay one I like. I’d vote for any of them, even though it would be really hard for me to vote for Elizabeth Warren who has never once said a funny thing in her entire life....
But what's this other story?! "MAD Magazine to Cease Publication." I click through to the article at comicbook.com and it begins with an update: "Details have emerged regarding the future of MAD magazine following the end of original content later this year." There's a link, and I click through to another comicbook.com piece:
MAD magazine will not be completely closing down, as previously reported -- although most of its new content will cease, and availability for the iconic humor magazine will be reduced... Rather than closing up shop, the plan at present is to continue publishing issues that will feature reprinted classic MAD pieces, wrapped with new covers art....

The venerable humor magazine, which launched in 1952 at EC Comics, relaunched in 2018.... The 2017 reorganization and subsequent 2018 reboot both struggled with finding an identity for MAD in an increasingly satire-saturated world.
So maybe it's not the Era of That's Not Funny. Maybe it's the Era of Too Much Funny.  We're told "MAD struggled to find an elusive niche," and it "doubled down on lampooning the Trump administration." But that didn't work! Too much competition, and you lose all the pro-Trump readers. But you can't do pro-Trump humor. You alienate the anti-Trump readers, and Trump himself does the pro-Trump humor so well that you have to compete with him. By the way, are conservative humor publications ever good? For example, The Babylon Bee? Always bad.

"For a public gathering that is ostensibly targeting an audience of hundreds of millions of Americans, the display of weaponry, aircraft and pyrotechnics has been scripted primarily to satisfy an audience of one."

"By having Trump speak to a select audience, flanked by armored tactical vehicles, organizers hope he will avoid the prospect of facing a smaller crowd of the sort that gathered on the Mall for his swearing-in. But the White House has also been scrambling in recent days to line up enough attendees, as Trump’s aides fret that either thunderstorms or the traditional free concert on the other end of the Mall could diminish the crowd for Trump’s 6:30 p.m. speech.... White House officials have repeatedly urged Trump to stick to the script his staff has prepared for him to deliver Thursday, which includes a unifying message about patriotism and avoids political taunts or attacks, and aides say he has agreed not to give a political speech. But his aides were tentatively planning to play campaign music when he takes the stage, according to one individual familiar with the plan...."

That's from "Inside the effort to build suspense — and crowds — for Trump’s Fourth of July," where the Washington Post titillates its readers with hopes of what could go wrong. The headline is very restrained, but I read that as self-protective. The Post doesn't want to look bad if things go really well. But it has its own "effort to build suspense," as it shows Trump-hating readers how to enjoy the otherwise irritating "Trump Fourth." It might be a screw-up!

And the end of the article pushes back the Trump haters, hinting of the risk in over-dramatizing:

A terrible NYT headline, "Robespierre’s America/We need to reclaim the spirit of 1776, not the certitudes of 1789"...

... for a column by Bret Stephens.

If we are reclaiming something, then we are taking back what we once had. What was it we had in 1789? It was the United States Constitution! The first Congress met and declared it in effect. The Bill of Rights was proposed and sent out for ratification. The first President was chosen and inaugurated, and the Departments of State, War, and the Treasury were established. Why shouldn't we "reclaim" that "certitude"?

Oh... I see... "Robespierre's America." The "certitude of 1789" is what happened in France. How would we reclaim that? We never had it.

I know there's a column here likening the present-day times to the French Revolution, but I'm annoyed... and not just by the inaccuracy of "reclaim." I'm annoyed that the New York Times thinks 1789 is obviously a reference to French history — as if 1789 were not a phenomenally important year in American history.

With such rockets-red glaring ignorance at the top, the rest of the column feels worthless.

I skim enough to see that the ignorance that bugs me doesn't come only from the headline writer. Stephens himself says:
I’m writing this column on the eve of July 4. But the country I’m describing each year seems to feel the spirit of 1776 less and the spirit of 1789 more. “Armed with the ‘truth,’ Jacobins could brand any individuals who dared to disagree with them traitors or fanatics,” historian Susan Dunn wrote of the French Revolution. “Any distinction between their own political adversaries and the people’s ‘enemies’ was obliterated.”
The Fourth of July is a date traditionally associated with the name of Thomas Jefferson. Nobody today denies his hypocrisies, flaws, bigotries and misjudgments. I’m still glad I live in the country he helped make, not the America that our latter-day Robespierres would design.
1789 isn't even a good way to refer to Robespierre!
As one of the leading members of the insurrectionary Paris Commune, Robespierre was elected as a deputy to the French Convention in early September 1792, but was soon criticised for trying to establish a triumvirate or a dictatorship. In Spring 1793 he urged the creation of a "Sans-culotte army" to sweep away conspirators. In July he was appointed as a member of the powerful Committee of Public Safety. Robespierre is best known for his role during the "reign of Terror", during which he exerted his influence to suppress the Girondins to the right, the Hébertists to the left and the Dantonists in the centre. Robespierre was eventually brought down by his obsession with the vision of an ideal republic and his indifference to the human costs of installing it. The Terror ended with Robespierre's arrest on 9 Thermidor and his execution on the day after, events that initiated a period known as the Thermidorian Reaction.
Are you enjoying Thermidor?
Thermidor (French pronunciation: ​[tɛʁmidɔʁ]) was the eleventh month in the French Republican Calendar. The month was named after the French word thermal which comes from the Greek word "thermos" which means heat....

Like all French Republican Calendar months, Thermidor lasted 30 days and was divided into three 10-day weeks called décades (decades). Every day had the name of an agricultural plant, except the 5th (Quintidi) and 10th day (Decadi) of every decade, which had the name of a domestic animal or an agricultural tool, respectively.
The 4th of Thermidor is "ryegrass" (French: "ivraie"). Here's the Thermador calendar page for contemplation:

"I don’t think we get anything out of it," said Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser about the "Salute to America" July 4th celebration.

She's "an American who loves celebrating the Fourth of July as a nonpolitical event," and has "some concerns about a president not celebrating the military but glorifying military might. That scares me the most." (Politico.)

I guess we "celebrate the military" without "glorifying military might" on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, where the stress is on the courage and sacrifices of individual human beings. The 4th of July does offer an occasion to express enthusiasm, excitement, and optimism about fighting wars. The fireworks are the "bombs bursting in air" of the National Anthem. Now, the 4th marks the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, so the ideas of freedom and self-government are the most accurate focus. But the Declaration started a war, and that worked out well, and we're glad we did it — or so we say on the 4th. So what's so bad about "glorifying military might"?

Trump opponents are doing pretty well not falling into the trap of disparaging the military. Bowser gets a little close to the trap, saying she finds the glorification of the military scary (presumably because it might lead us into using the military more than we should). But she's pretty circumspect. She sounds a little wary of all the nonresidents pouring into her city, but she's careful to say, "Our stance is to support the activities of the federal government for July Fourth as we have always done." The city of Washington can't get away with saying it would prefer to exclude the rest of Americans, as if we are outsiders to our capital.

July 3, 2019

At the Koi Kaffe...


... keep in the swim.

In 1964, when I was 13, I went to the movies to see "A Hard Day's Night," and it was a double feature.

The other movie — the movie I've chosen for 1964 in my "imaginary movie project" — was "For Those Who Think Young."

That poster says it's "The swingin'est young people's picture of the year," and I saw it immediately after that other "young people's picture," "A Hard Day's Night." Two entirely different visions of "young."

Compare Pamela Tiffin (who was was 22 in 1964) with Pattie Boyd (who was 20):

I made both of those screen grabs, and I can tell you Tiffin was done up like that for a day at the beach. Tiffin oozed maturity. Movies like this were called "beach party" movies, but her character was a college student who was continually attending to her studies and she was insistent that her boyfriend, the rich kid (James Darren), treat her with complete respect. Boyd played a schoolgirl whose role was to gawp at the Beatles and say her one line, "Prisoners?!"

Why didn't I pick "A Hard Day's Night" for my project? It fits the requirement that I need to have seen it in the theater when it came out. But I'd already rewatched "A Hard Day's Night" a time or 2, and I want to compare my original response with what I feel now, so... too much static. And there's something specific I remember about seeing "For Those Who Think Young" when I was 13: I enjoyed it more than "A Hard Day's Night."

But why? That's a mystery to solve. First, I loved Bob Denver. The show "Gilligan's Island" debuted in the fall of that year, but I knew him from my favorite TV show, "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," which was on from 1959 to 1963. I had a 8"x10" glossy photo — I'd sent in for it — of Denver as Maynard G. Krebs. I loved the beatnik character who questioned all of society's conventions — especially work.

Let me show you about 10 minutes of "For Those Who Think Young," beginning with the Bob Denver character. He's meditating, and this is 4 years before The Beatles took up Transcendental Meditation. This segment continues with some Tiffin/Darren interplay and reaches a peak with Bob Denver buried in the sand using his mouth in a way that I found gut-bustingly hilarious in 1964. And don't miss Nancy Sinatra:

Did you see that early #MeToo wokeness? Nancy hits Bob for kissing her in an entirely nonphysical way. The meditation is so strong.

The Bob Denver character, Kelp, is employed as Darren's assistant, and we see him running over to serve him and Tiffin some drinks in tall glasses. Before running off, Kelp then slips one of those glasses into his swimsuit pocket, where it bulges like an erection I didn't notice in '64.

"A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, the Justice Department reversed course on Wednesday..."

"... and said it was hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump. Officials told a federal judge in Maryland that they thought there would be a way to still add the question, despite printing deadlines, and that they would ask the Supreme Court to send the case to district court with instructions to remedy the situation. President Trump had been frustrated with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for mishandling the White House’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to an administration official, and [tweeted] on Wednesday... 'The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!... We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.'"

The NYT reports.

"The earliest and most sophisticated 20th Century case for renewables came from a German who is widely considered the most influential philosopher of the 20th Century..."

"... Martin Heidegger. In his 1954 essay, 'The Question Concerning of Technology,' Heidegger condemned the view of nature as a mere resource for human consumption. The use of 'modern technology,' he wrote, 'puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such… Air is now set upon to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium…to yield atomic energy.' The solution, Heidegger argued, was to yoke human society and its economy to unreliable energy flows. He even condemned hydro-electric dams, for dominating the natural environment, and praised windmills because they 'do not unlock energy in order to store it.'... Heidegger, like much of the conservation movement, would have hated what the Energiewende has become: an excuse for the destruction of natural landscapes and local communities. Opposition to renewables comes from the country peoples that Heidegger idolized as more authentic and 'grounded' than urbane cosmopolitan elites who fetishize their solar roofs and Teslas as signs of virtue."

From "The Reason Renewables Can't Power Modern Civilization Is Because They Were Never Meant To" (Forbes).

"I’m sick of being told I should like penis. I don’t like penis. That’s why I’m a lesbian. That’s the whole point."

Says a lesbian quoted in "Some women have penises. If you won’t sleep with them you’re transphobic/87.5 percent of respondents to a recent survey said they would only consider ‘cis’ people as potential sexual partners" by James Kirkup (in American Spectator), which I'm reading because it's linked at Instapundit ("21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Some women have penises. If you won’t sleep with them you’re transphobic").

But is it really true that, for everyone who is a lesbian, the reason is the utterly genitalia-focused notion "I don’t like penis"? To be fair to the quoted individual, she did say "That’s why I’m a lesbian" (emphasis added). She doesn't purport to speak for all lesbians, and she can't from her own personal experience exclude the possibility that other lesbians are attracted to other aspects of a woman, perhaps subtle qualities that we label "gender."

I'm not sure what exactly that is, and it's hard to put it into words without coming across as sexist, but what are transgender women feeling when they say that inside they feel like a woman? I'd like to think that women come in infinitely variable forms, so that it doesn't make sense to say you feel like "a woman." Which woman of the infinitely variable forms of women are you talking about? But people do talk like that. It's not just for transgenders. We hear the song "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman," and we understand — in fact, we find it especially deeply meaningful. It's standard movie dialogue for a female character to say that a man makes her "feel like a woman" (or for a male character to say that a woman makes him "feel like a man"). If it were all about the genitalia they wouldn't long for confirmation like that. They could just take a gander at their nether regions.

But nobody should bully anybody about having sex, and you're entitled to say "no" for any reason. You don't need to offer an explanation. You have the right to say no. Every young person should be taught that. Anyone who doesn't accept that you've declined the invitation and starts accusing you of having bad thoughts — including being "transphobic" — is a manipulator or someone who does not understand boundaries. With sex, you should be turning down almost everybody. There can't be a presumption that if you say "no," it's for any particular reason. And if they persist and demand justification, that's another reason for saying "no."

People often say "no" when the precise reason would be very rude to say out loud! It might be "transphobic" to tell a transgender person bluntly that you would never have sex with a transgender, but it's other kinds of -phobic to tell somebody who wants you that they're fat or old or homely or poor or too religious or a race you don't like. You still get to say "no" for any of those reasons.

Your body is not a social justice stomping ground.

"Am I in love? Or are you the only other person my age who works here?"

It's 4th of July eve. Everybody's in their car, driving, driving, to Washington D.C.... got to see the big man's $2.5 million extravaganza.

No, I'm not going anywhere. Maybe for a walk after I decide this blog is off the ground for the morning, on a morning when I feel you guys are all off and running somewhere.

But if you're looking for conversation, I give you this tidbits:

"Julián Castro calls July 4th parade a "waste of money" meant to boost Trump's ego" (CBS):
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro...chastised Mr. Trump's administration for reportedly diverting $2.5 million from the National Park Service to the celebration and focusing on a military procession instead of improving conditions for American veterans.

"Instead of addressing something like veteran homelessness, he's spending it on boosting his ego with a parade that's fundamentally about him," said Castro, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration....
"Trump's July 4 extravaganza sets a political trap" (CNN):
His latest grandiose photo op appears to be a reflection of his own vanity, obsession with crowd sizes, craving for the spotlight, penchant for military hardware and his flirtations with authoritarianism.

But from the President's perspective, he's on to a winner. Cries of outrage from Democrats and the media at Trump's hijacking of the July Fourth celebrations will not offend all Americans. For a lot of them, it may be a welcome display of the country's strength.

And by serving as the arbiter of patriotism -- as he did during the controversy over kneeling NFL players -- and as a strong commander-in-chief, Trump is also laying a political trap.
From "3 Reasons Not to Worry About Trump’s Fourth of July—and 1 Big Reason to Worry/Other presidents have celebrated the Fourth. It's hard to think of one who has less sense of what it's about" by Jeff Greenfield (Politico):
There’s also a more personal dimension to the Trumpification of the Fourth. Throughout his presidency, he has taken outsize delight in over-the-top celebrations and honors given him by foreign governments, a delight that seems to translate into bizarre foreign policies. Receive the Gold Medallion from Saudi Arabia, and you brush aside the kingdom's murder and dismemberment of an American resident. Enjoy lavish banquets in China, and the brutal crackdown on a million Uighurs goes unmentioned. Get a “beautiful letter” from Kim Jong Un and maybe North Korea can keep its nukes. (And would you really be totally shocked if Kim showed up at the White House to help Trump celebrate the Fourth?)

The Oxford English Dictionary "Word of the Day" is "Dylanesque."

The (unlinkable) OED defines "Dylanesque":
Resembling or reminiscent of Bob Dylan or his work, esp. his songs or records, which are characterized by poetic, often enigmatic, lyrics, a distinctive, abrasive vocal delivery, and music rooted in traditional American styles, such as folk, blues, and country; (sometimes) spec. typical or redolent of the folk music of his early records, which combined lyrics of social protest with acoustic guitar and harmonica playing.
I read that definition out loud to Meade and — saying I thought "poetic, often enigmatic, lyrics" got to the heart of it — asked him to dredge up a "Dylanesque" line from the junkpile of his memories. He said:
And she buttoned her boot
And straightened her suit
Then she said, “Don’t get cute”
That's "Fourth Time Around."

I said the first thing that came to my mind was:
Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
But I knew I only thought that because I remember Bob on "60 Minutes" saying:
I don’t know how I got to write those songs.... All those early songs were almost magically written. Ah… “Darkness at the break of noon, shadows even the silver spoon, a handmade blade, the child’s balloon…” Well, try to sit down and write something like that.
If I'd really consulted the junkpile of my memories, I'd have said:
You know it balances on your head
Just like a mattress balances
On a bottle of wine
So you can see how Meade and I go together — he's got the suit getting straightened and I've got the leopard-skin pillbox hat balancing on the head. There is order over chaos in the midst of the poetic, often enigmatic.

By the way, I'm working on writing up my post for the 1964 entry in my "imaginary music project," and by chance it contains a ridiculous Dylan lyric:
Now the beach is deserted except for some kelp...
You always responded when I needed your help
Is that Dylanesque? It's not enigmatic. It's just a very ordinary statement about a relationship —  "You always responded when I needed your help" — and daring to put the least possible effort into finding a rhyme for "help."

The best advice re song lyrics and "help" — which only has 2 other rhymes ("whelp" and "yelp") — is don't put it at the end of a line. When The Beatles wrote a whole song "Help," they kept it at the beginning of lines, and made the words at the ends of lines all easy to rhyme ("down," "way," "ways," "insecure").

Do The Beatles have their own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary? Yes, but it's just "Beatle" — "Applied attributively to the hair-style or other characteristics of ‘The Beatles’ or of their imitators." The examples — all from the mid-60s — are about things other than poetry: "the Beatle cut," "Beatle fans," "Beatle wallpapers," "Beatle wigs."

And that sends me back to the enigmatic junkpile of Dylan lyrics. Dylan has 5 song lyrics with "wig" (and if you can name all 5 you get a Bob Dylan merit badge):
1 & 2 (the same line is in 2 different songs): "... they’re beatin’ the devil out of a guy/Who’s wearing a powder-blue wig..."

3. "... Jezebel the nun she violently knits/A bald wig for Jack the Ripper..."

4. "I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind/I’m no pig without a wig/I hope you treat me kind..."

5. "She took off her wheel, took off her bell/Took off her wig, said, 'How do I smell?'"
I wish I knew, but I've got this anosmia/I wish I could wake up and smell the cosmea...

IN THE COMMENTS: khematite remembers a 6th Bob Dylan "wig" lyric (which was obscured from my search because it's "wig-hat" (and I've always found that a funny expression, because a wig is a kind of hat, isn't it?))?
I sat with my high-heeled sneakers on
Waiting to play tennis in the noonday sun
I had my white shorts rolled up past my waist
And my wig-hat was falling in my face
But they wouldn’t let me on the tennis court
Hey! Man in shorts! Bob Dylan in shorts. Has that ever even happened?
I'm going to say no.

"I think I once spent 18 hours sitting on the couch eating potato chips."

Top-rated comment on "What’s it like to run 90 miles around the Beltway on the hottest day of the year? ‘Terrible.’" (WaPo)("Michael Wardian was sitting in traffic on I-495 20 years ago when a thought crossed his mind... 'Wow, I could run to the office faster than sitting in this traffic... And then I started thinking I could probably run around the entire Beltway'... On Saturday, Wardian... ran a nearly 90-mile loop around the Capital Beltway...").

July 2, 2019

At the Pink Poppy Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Readers... speculated about the love lives of such local figures as conservative blogger Ann Althouse, charming NBC 15 anchor Leigh Mills and scandalous Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton...."

"State politics weighed heavily on readers’ minds over the past decade, even in the context of an advice column. A liberal woman felt guilty about her dreams of having sex with Gov. Scott Walker...."

The Isthmus advice columnist signs off after 10 years of answering questions from Madisonians.

A link is provided to the one about me, "Should UW law prof Ann Althouse marry her commenter Meade?"

How do I get to be "conservative"? By being looked at by left-wingers.

When actual conservatives look at me, I never get to be a conservative.

I'm always the other.
... and I left myself open to misinterpretation. Many readers thought I was asking for directions, as if "How do I get to be 'conservative'?" was like "Do you know the way to San Jose?"

I am not writing this blog with the aim of getting perceived as conservative. I am writing to be free, and one of the things I most want to be free of is the obligation to ensure that I am perceived as liberal. The Isthmus is part of the disciplinary apparatus of a kind of liberalism that isn't worth the name. They labeled me "conservative" to hurt me for choosing freedom, to make an example out of me.

“If a female Dalai Lama comes, she should be more attractive," said the Dalai Lama, laughing.

"People prefer to not see a 'dead face,' he told [the interviewer Rajini] Vaidyanathan while twisting his face into a grimace. He also said that she should 'spend money on makeup.' When Vaidyanathan said that a lot of women might feel this kind of statement objectifying, and that the person should be judged on her character, the Dalai Lama agreed but said that, ultimately, both matter. 'Real beauty is inner beauty, that’s true. I think the appearance is also important,' he said."

NY Magazine reports, along with quotes from the apology subsequently issued by his office:
"His Holiness genuinely meant no offense. He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies."

The statement also described the Dalai Lama as consistently emphasizing “the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances.” It also said he has “a keen sense of the contradictions between the materialistic, globalized world he encounters on his travels and the complex, more esoteric ideas about reincarnation that are at the heart of Tibetan Buddhist tradition.” But that his “off-the-cuff” comments might lose their humor during translation.
I want to hear the "complex, more esoteric ideas about reincarnation" involved here. Isn't the future Dalai Lama the same person? If I understand that correctly, he's saying if I am a woman in my next incarnation, I hope I'm a good-looking woman, and I'll use makeup and facial expressions to keep up my outward appearance. And I hear self-effacement. Isn't he implying that he thinks he's funny looking? He hopes the new Dalai Lama looks better.

"Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog said Tuesday."

"Its report describes standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.... In June, inspectors from the department visited five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and found children had few spare clothes and no laundry facilities. Many migrants were given only wet wipes to clean themselves and bologna sandwiches to eat, causing constipation and other health problems, according to the report. Children at two of the five facilities in the area were not given hot meals until inspectors arrived."

The NYT reports (with a copy of the Inspector General's report).

"The Trump administration said Tuesday that it had ordered the Census Bureau to start printing forms for the 2020 census without a question asking about citizenship..."

"... abandoning its quest to add the query after being blocked last week by the Supreme Court... It was also a remarkable retreat for an administration that typically digs into such fights.... It was unclear what prompted the administration to walk away from its effort. Word of the action came in a one-sentence email from the Justice Department to lawyers for plaintiffs in a New York lawsuit that sought to block the question’s inclusion in the head count. The email offered no explanation...."

The NYT reports.

It's not that hard to figure out. It wasn't worth the political ugliness, and they could easily have lost the second-time around through the courts.

"Decorated Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher was found not guilty of premeditated murder in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq."

"While Gallagher was serving Mosul in 2017, Navy prosecutors said he killed a young ISIS fighter who was being treated by US medics, posed for photos next to his corpse and then pressured other SEALs not to report him. He was also accused of shooting at noncombatants. In total, the chief special warfare operator faced seven criminal counts. He was found not guilty of all but one charge, posing for a photo with a human casualty. He faces a maximum sentence of four months when he is sentenced later Tuesday, although he has already served 201 days."

CNN reports.

"We have to take the people... And we have to do something... We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up."

Said Trump, about the homelessness in San Francisco and L.A....

"We cannot ruin our cities. And you have people that work in those cities. They work in office buildings and to get into the building, they have to walk through a scene that nobody would have believed possible three years ago.... When we have leaders of the world coming in to see the President of the United States and they’re riding down a highway, they can’t be looking at that. They can’t be looking at scenes like you see in Los Angeles and San Francisco."

I ran across that at WaPo, where the headline is, "Trump paints a dark picture of homelessness in cities: 'We may intercede.'"

Dark, they love that world. Trump is painting it, painting it dark.

And what is the intercession? What does it mean to "take the people"? I assume it was just an awkward, unformed thought, and it could have been fleshed out to something like, We have to take care of the people or We have to take the people as they are, and they are troubled, some are sick, some are mentally ill, it's a complicated problem.

The commenters over at WaPo think the worst of him. They paint him dark:
This is the key quote: “We have to take the people,” he said. “And we have to do something.”

I dread what that means ...
Trump only seems concerned with people having to experience the presence of the homeless rather than caring about homeless people. This attitude exemplifies how superficial he is, both mentally and emotionally. Oh, and the economy is great!
ADDED: I haven't used the tag "Trump's urban renewal" in a long time, not since August 2017. I started it in December 2016, when Trump nominated Ben Carson for HUD Secretary.  After I created the tag "Trump's urban renewal" in December 2016, I went back and added it to a post from August 2016, "Asking for the black vote."


I'm really speechless. from r/blackmagicfuckery

ADDED: I think you have to click through to get the sound... which is kind of the whole point. Don't know how to change that. Wouldn't have posted if I'd anticipated silence...

The notion that detained migrants were told to drink out of toilets.

Looks like fake news to me.

Challenged to prove that "Swinging Statues" was a real child's game and not just something some older kids in my childhood neighborhood did to take advantage of the little kids...

... I found this video:

The game described there is more elaborate than what we played in the late 1950s in Delaware, but the basic idea is there. Our swinging method was more "dangerous" — holding an arm and a leg as opposed to 2 arms.

Trump invites his antagonists to naysay about the 4th of July.

Here's the bait:

Here's the NYT doing a decent job of mostly resisting: "Trump Says Tanks Will Be on Display in Washington for July 4":

Hard to understate?

I was looking up "quick-drying cement"...

.... because left-wingers purportedly added it to milkshakes they threw at right-wingers at demonstration in Portland.

I really did wonder whether "quick-drying cement" is the name of a real product. It seems like a phrase that would be written on a package delivered to a Looney Tunes character. Ah, yes! Here:

So I googled the term, and I'm seeing a lot of packaging, and "quick-drying cement" doesn't seem to be the standard term. I'm seeing "fast-setting" and "rapid set." I do think "quick-drying cement" is the more comical way to put it.

But I'm pretty sure the most comical way to put it is "Quick-drying glue toothpaste adhesive plaster to stick a drill cement cell phone beauty nail diy material is special" — seen at AliExpress (part of the Chinese equivalent of Amazon)(click to enlarge and clarify to the point of readability):

I condemn assaults, including assaults with humorous-sounding objects like milkshakes (or, in the old days, pies). But let's get the facts straight. My link at the top of this post goes to "How a Dubious Claim of Cement Milkshakes in Portland Became a Right-Wing Meme/The police claimed that left-wing protesters were hurling cement drinks. There’s no evidence to back that up" at Mother Jones:

What these Washington Post headlines really mean.

"Democrats convulse over race as debate exchange reverberates."

Don't they notice the near rhymes — race... debate... reverberates? For me, they ring out and what WaPo wants me to take soooo seriously sounds carefree and silly, like the worst Dr. Seuss book ever written.

Convulse... reverberates... It's so obvious that they're desperate to generate excitement from dull material. Me, I have a very concrete mind — hey, don't put quick-drying cement in that milkshake — and the headline-writer's dead metaphors are alive. I see the candidates falling to the floor, twitching, flailing, spasming. I entertain the notion that the use of the metaphor is disrespectful to persons with epilepsy.

Anyway, the debate was last week. I think The Washington Post is straining to come up with material to fill up the front page. Look at the rest of that stuff. Would the age-old story of water shortages in India rise to the top if there was some good new bad news? The picture is a cracked dried-up lake in Chennai, India, but you know it wouldn't festoon the front page if there were any fresh mud to throw at Donald Trump.

And what's that in the top left corner? "Trump’s hard-line approach appears to soften in meetings with world leaders." The Trump news is only as bad as they can make it by referring to the past. He had a hard-line approach, but he's not using it now. "President Trump has dismissed criticism that he is failing to make big deals, arguing that his patience and relationship-building will pay off for the country." Yeah, "he is failing" — that's the best they've got, as they struggle to make the good news bad.

Under that: "Trump’s surprise meeting with Kim is over. For Pompeo, the real work has just begun." Working hard on the "he is failing" theme, they're portraying Trump's meeting with Kim as mere show, with the "real work" left to be done, but still, we can see this is good news about Trump.

Next: "Fact Checker: No, Obama didn’t beg Kim Jong Un for a meeting." I laughed out loud when I read that. The word "beg" is the obvious set-up for making Trump look bad. We all know, without reading, that Obama wanted to do something about North Korea, and he had to hand the terrible problem over to Trump. Who cares about the degree to which Trump may have misstated exactly how Obama tried to do something about North Korea as the problem worsened over his 8 years in office? This headline, in spite of itself, underscores that Trump is making progress and Obama did not. (But if you click through, you'll see that Trump gets 4 Pinocchios for saying "The Obama administration was begging for a meeting. They were begging for meetings constantly.")

Down in that lower left corner, we see the problems at our southern border continue to look ugly, but the 2 stories are about crap posted on social media. Should I click through to see who said what? Oh, there's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young Congresswoman, rising onto the front page again. She's looking passionate, and it seems that somebody somewhere on the internet is being mean to her. Who? I don't know. The headline is funny grammatically. There's no human being targeting her, just "posts." Yes, dear readers, posts are out there, doing their nasty work.

My conclusion is: Wow! We are living in good times! Enjoy it, my friends. This is how the newspaper looks when we're luxuriating in peace and happiness. Learn how to recognize it, because The Washington Post is not going to tell you things are good. Things are good.

July 1, 2019

At the Treefall Café...


... you can talk all night.


I guess the big windy storm yesterday took this tree down. Madisonians will recognize the location, just to the east of the UW boathouse.

The 1962 movie in my "imaginary movie project" is the film version of a great Broadway play, "The Music Man."

The #1 thing I remember about my reaction to this movie when I saw it in the theater at the age of 11 is that I was horrified by the talk of tarring and feathering the main character, the con man, Harold Hill (Robert Preston). I did not know exactly what tarring and feathering was, and back then, there was no way to pause the movie and research the question on a smart phone. I should have understood entertainment well enough to know that in a peppy, chirpy movie about the foibles of small-town Iowa folk, things would not take such a dark turn that the protagonist would be tortured to death before our eyes. But I wasn't sure enough not to feel horrible.

And did Hill deserve to die for what he'd done? I felt very intense empathy for this character, who I thought might be facing the death penalty. He's hunted down by a mob — these nice people are stirred up into a mob. They're even carrying torches at night as they track him down. We see a makeshift trial. It's so unfair... as a legal matter. But narratively, it is fair, because he came to town, where the people had no problems other than their own dullness and conventionality, and he stirred them all up (just to trick them into giving him money for musical instruments and uniforms for the boy's band that was supposed to solve the problems they didn't have):

That's the best thing in the movie. "Ya Got Trouble." Ha ha. I couldn't help thinking of Donald Trump. The charisma, the effect on the crowd. He made them think he was putting into words problems that they knew they had.

"Cement truck mows down Brooklyn cyclist in 15th bike fatality of 2019; ‘too many bikes’ on streets, says truck’s owner."

The Daily News Reports.
The rider had slowly rolled a few feet into the intersection when the fast-moving truck hit her, video from the scene shows. She was dragged underneath the truck. Medics declared her dead at the scene....

Her favorite so far.

"Police officers allow a core group of protesters to storm the offices of the Legislative Council. The demonstrators are defacing portraits and the walls, and some raised a British colonial-era flag."

The NYT reports in "Hong Kong Protest Live Updates: Protesters Occupy Legislature After Police Leave" (updated 4 minutes ago).
A few hundred protesters stormed into Hong Kong’s legislative complex on Monday, pumping their fists in the air, after riot police appeared to back away from a confrontation, leaving the compound hours after the core group of demonstrators started bashing their way in.

Protesters wearing safety helmets and masks had been steadily destroying the facade of the Legislative Council, leaving broken glass and torn metal panels in their wake, hours after the government held a ceremony commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s return to China from Britain. Using metals bars and makeshift battering rams to break the building’s outside glass walls and doors, some protesters entered the building and forced open metal roller shutters that sealed the entrance to the lobby leading to the legislative chambers.

For hours, riot police with gas masks and shields had guarded the facility from within the building, holding up signs warning the protesters that they would use force if the demonstrators charged....
UPDATE: "Hundreds of riot police used tear gas and shields after midnight to disperse protesters near the legislative building, after hundreds of demonstrators stormed the offices and occupied it for three hours."

Bernie Sanders said: "Does anybody think it's a good idea to put a kid on a bus, travel an hour to another school and to another neighborhood that he or she doesn't know?"

If nobody thinks it — which is what his question implies — why did Kamala Harris castigate Joe Biden for not supporting it and why did Joe Biden defend himself by saying he only didn't support it when it was imposed by the federal government?

A look at the full context — from yesterday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" — might help you answer my question:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to pick up on an issue that came up in Thursday night's debate. It was between Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, who are raising his opposition to busing back in the 1970s. I want to bring the debate forward. You've mentioned -- you're concerned about the idea of resegregation of our schools. Does that mean that busing should be on the table today?

SANDERS: Well, I think what we -- resegregation is a very, very serious problem. And the federal government has failed in fighting for fair housing legislation. We need basically in this country well funded public schools, we need to honor our teachers, respect teachers, make sure that they're earning a living wage. We need to take care of those schools today, which have a lot of kids who are, in some cases, actually hungry, coming from troubled families. We need to build public education in this country. We need to make sure that kids go to community schools, which are integrated and that means we have to focus on fair housing legislation and enforcement.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But does that also mean busing? Because your website actually says that you are coming out for repealing of the ban on funding for busing.

SANDERS: No, we've -- busing is certainly an option that is necessary in certain cases, but it is not the optimal. Does anybody think it's a good idea to put a kid on a bus, travel an hour to another school and to another neighborhood that he or she doesn't know? That's not the optimal. What is the optimal is to have great community schools which are integrated, that's what I think most people want to see. That's what I want to see.
Sanders was so evasive! Look how long he filibustered the question the first time Stephanopoulos asked it.  Stephanopoulos repeated the question, fortunately, and really cornered him with that statement from the website. I think Sanders said — if I may paraphrase for clarity — busing is bad, but it might be the least bad option, so it shouldn't be off the table. And let me infer: If busing — that bad idea — isn't on the list of options, it's harder to motivate people to do what is better and spend money on improving schools.

I've been noticing the phrase "We need to make sure" in political speech lately. Sanders says "We need to make sure that kids go to community schools, which are integrated and that means we have to focus on fair housing legislation and enforcement." I see "We need to make sure" as a sort of lie. It really only means we ought to try to get to a place out there that would be really nice to get to.

Here, the very nice place to be is where kids go to schools that are both integrated and in their community. If you're at all considering busing, then you are willing to sacrifice community schools to get more integration. You're obviously not planning to make sure.

Now, Sanders does offer a way of making sure: "fair housing legislation and enforcement." You can get integrated community schools through fair housing legislation? It's a good idea to eradicate racial discrimination in the housing market, and it might have some effect on the racial mix in some community schools, but I don't see how it would make sure that kids go to integrated community schools. So... doesn't that mean that Sanders is, necessarily, for the bad option he wants to keep on the list of options — busing?

No, it just means either: 1. He's incoherent, or 2. The question — "Does anybody think it's a good idea to put a kid on a bus, travel an hour to another school and to another neighborhood that he or she doesn't know?" — is a trick question. His answer is: No, but sometimes the best idea is a bad idea.

"Shooting at Madison's Shake the Lake sparks panic, 'stampede.'"

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.
Neither Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway nor Madison police chief Mike Koval would go into detail Sunday about what kinds of security were in place for Shake the Lake...

“It is entirely unacceptable that someone brought a gun to ... an event enjoyed by thousands of people, including many children,” [Rhodes-Conway] said.
Brought a gun.... Not used a gun.... That's Madison.
Rhodes-Conway used the incident to blame the Republican-controlled Legislature for its failure to pass tougher gun laws. “Our job is made more difficult by a state Legislature that advances reckless gun laws and at the same time curtails the rights of cities to take further action,” she said.

"Toward the end of dinner, Elizabeth confessed that she had needed to go to the bathroom for a while, but had been nervous about leaving her drink with someone she didn’t know."

"'That’s just how I walk through the world,' she said later, 'being constantly worried that I’m going to be taken advantage of.' (I’m with Elizabeth on this one. She’s not weird; blind dates are.) Jordan didn’t take it personally and told her the only way to feel totally at ease would be to take her drink with her to the bathroom. It was sound logic, but she decided to wait it out anyway.... He was down to hook up if she was, but he didn’t get that sense from her — correctly, as it turned out. Elizabeth was interested, however, in being walked home: 'He was very gracious in offering his male privilege to me in that way.'... He asked her if she was attracted to him. She told him she was still figuring that out."

From "Date Lab: He thought she was sweet. But was she weird enough?" (WaPo).

"I’ve heard people say people who do these things are just 'hiking their own hike.'"

"The first time I heard music on speakers in the backcountry, I thought, 'This can’t possibly be.' Now it’s very frequent, and people are blasting it.... That doesn’t mean you do what you damn well please. Trails are on public property and come with rules and regulations. Roads are public property, too, and we share them with a lot of people. I can’t just drive my own drive. … That mentality astounds me. Trails are being inundated with a lot of new, clueless people right now, and we need a massive public-education campaign."

From "Piles of poop, litter on trails, trampled wildflowers. In the social-media era, Washington’s public lands are being destroyed. What can be done?" (Seattle Times).

There are a lot of Instagram accounts used to collect the bad that people who are proud of themselves post on other sides. For example, from nationalparkshateyou, there's this: