August 3, 2019

10 years ago today: "What happened on Bellyache Ridge."

Today's a big milestone!

AND: "Where we were. What we were doing."


AND: "Commenting from a mountaintop: we are still sitting on the rock...."


"The Reverend Bill Owens Stands Behind Trump."

Isaac Chotiner interviews Bill Owens (in The New Yorker).

Owens said that Trump has talked with him and other "inner city pastors" about "ways the President could help the African-American community with their challenges and their problems." Trump was, according to Owens "very receptive" and had (to use Chotiner's words) "a pretty deep understanding of the problems affecting the black community."

Owens justified Trump's criticism of Elijah Cummings on the ground that Cummings attacked Trump and Trump "felt he should respond."

Chotiner prodded Owens to say that Trump's recent attacks on "the four Democratic congresswomen" had "a racial basis," and Owens said:
I don’t see that. This country is based on race now. Everybody tries to make a race issue out of everything, because they are trying to say the President doesn’t like black people. I don’t see that. They are using that because it is popular to do it now, and it polarizes black people against the President. I think it is very unfortunate.
Owens said that black pastors are often "reluctant to be interviewed by the press":
They ask, “Where is the trap? What are you trying to get me to say that I don’t want to say?” That happens every day to me. But I am bold enough to take my shot and try to be as honest as I can, regardless to where it takes me.
Chotiner asks about same-sex marriage, which Owens has opposed. He still opposes it:
It’s terrible! It has terrified children! Look at what they have done. Look at the men playing women in kindergarten. I forget what they call it, where they call it a civil right. These big men pretending they are women, playing with little children. And it sends the wrong message to little children. They think it is O.K., and it is not O.K.
Well, then, how does Owens feel about Trump's "romances and sleeping with porn stars," Chotiner asks. Owens answers like a preacher: "If you are a sinner, and repent your sins, your sins are forgiven."

Asked about the separating of families at the border, Owens prioritizes "the black children in America who have lost their parents":
For years, they put the black father out of the home. The federal government hired a hundred thousand social workers to put the black father out of the home and put the mother on welfare. What did that do to children? It was done by our government on purpose.... Can we just take children from all over the world and do better with them than we have with our citizens? Black people died for this country. We fought for this country for hundreds of years. And we are still being neglected, and no one is talking about it.

"He made eye contact with almost everyone in the first few rows of the standing crowd. It was as mesmerising as it was slightly terrifying."

"It was clear that while he may have fallen from grace for the alleged sexual assaults he did not feel any apparent remorse."

Said the writer Barbie Latza Nadeau, quoted in "Kevin Spacey makes first public appearance since sex assault allegations with pointed poetry reading" (UK Spectator).
Spacey appeared in front of the Greek statue Boxer at Rest in Rome, to read Gabriele Tinti’s poem The Boxer... [which] contains the lines: "They used me for their entertainment, fed on shoddy stuff. Life was over in a moment" and "The more you're wounded the greater you are. And the more empty you are. I have endured no end of sleepless nights. I have spent hours and hours sweating to destroy and fall."

Here's the "Boxer at Rest" (cc by Livioandronico2013):

"The best send up of Williamson was by Sigourney Weaver playing Debra Moorehouse in the gay film Jeffrey."

Writes J. Farmer — in the comments to my post "Marianne Williamson escapes the paw-like grip of Bill Maher" — linking to this video clip:

The movie is from 1995, and here's a contemporaneous San Francisco Chronicle article, which mentions the "self-help guru Debra Moorehouse (Sigourney Weaver)": "Powerful, full of 12-step cliches, Debra is obviously a send-up of Marianne Williamson and other charismatic, quick-fix evangelists."

"Ms. Gabbard comes across as shy or maybe tense. She is not the jovial politician cracking jokes with her staff or buttering people up."

"Doom is her main talking point. The only personal topics she speaks about easily are veganism and fitness. She says she is a big fan of mixed martial arts and drops in on classes while on the trail. As a child, she could not afford taekwondo classes, so she started doing capoeira, which was taught in the park for free, she said. Her husband is more chatty. At a snack break, Mr. Williams grabs a Capri Sun and sticks the straw in the opposite way, which he says is better. 'When we were first dating, one of my best friends said, "Dude, you’re gonna be in the White House one day,"' and I was just like, "Yeahhh."'"

From "Tulsi Gabbard Thinks We’re Doomed/Or we will be if America doesn’t leave the rest of the world alone. That’s why the 38-year-old congresswoman from Hawaii is running for president," a weird little article in the NYT.

I don't know what "sticks the straw in the opposite way" means!

The article doesn't have the word "doom" in a quote from Gabbard. It does have her saying, "There are thousands of nuclear missiles pointing right at us, and if we were to get an attack, we would have 30 minutes, 30 minutes, before we were hit," but that's a fact that's a component of any serious thinking about national security, so I don't see how citing it makes "Doom... her main talking point."

I'm going to warily give this post my "NYT pushes Kamala" tag. That's where I keep track of my suspicion that the Times (and MSM generally) predetermined that Kamala's the one. Here's the mention of Kamala Harris in the article:
After Ms. Gabbard tore into presidential candidate Kamala Harris for her prosecutorial record during the second Democratic debates on Wednesday, the California senator on CNN called Ms. Gabbard an “apologist for an individual, Assad, who has murdered the people of his country like cockroaches.”
The article doesn't have Gabbard responding specifically on Assad, but quotes her saying, "We should be coming to other leaders in other countries with respect, building a relationship based on cooperation rather than with, you know, a police baton."

Gabbard is also connected to some people Democrats will be wary of: Ron Paul ("Tulsi Gabbard by far is the very, very best"), Ann Coulter ("Go Tulsi!"), and Joe Rogan ("Tulsi Gabbard’s my girl, I’m voting for her I decided, I like her"), Twitter's Jack Dorsey (who's contributed), and David Duke (who "has tweeted approvingly").

I think what's going on is that Gabbard is dangerous to Democratic Party interests. The doom sensed is defeat in the presidential election.

"It's a (expletive) joke. Major League Baseball's turning this game into a joke. They own Rawlings, and..."

"... you've got Manfred up here saying it might be the way they center the pill. They own the (expletive) company. If any other $40 billion company bought out a $400 million company and the product changed dramatically, it's not a guess as to what happened. We all know what happened. Manfred the first time he came in, what'd he say? He said we want more offense. All of a sudden he comes in, the balls are juiced? It's not coincidence. We're not idiots."

Said the pitcher Justin Verlander, quoted in "These scientists may have solved MLB's 'juiced' baseball problem" (USA Today).

The "pill" is the core of the baseball. Rawlings manufactures baseballs and is owned by Major League Baseball, which has an interest in producing exciting games. "Manfred" is MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Lloyd Smith, a professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering who's been studying baseballs, said to USA Today: "I would like you not to say that we’ve solved the problem... We’ll say that once Major League Baseball is satisfied with our results and willing to make a public statement.... If this was an easy answer, we would’ve had this a year ago. But it’s a hard answer and that likely means we’ve got a noisy signal. And interpreting noisy data is tricky."

"This is a naturally eroding coastline. There’s really no rhyme or reason, but that’s what it does naturally."

"This is what it does, and this is how [our] beaches are actually partially made. It actually has these failures."

Said Encinitas Lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles, quoted in "Collapsing California cliff claims 3 lives along beach" (WaPo)("A 30-foot-long slab of the cliff plunged onto the sand near Grandview Beach north of San Diego... Long stretches of beach in Encinitas are narrow strips of sand between stiff waves and towering rock walls").

"We’re not dating, but we’re still sleeping together three years after breaking up. Sleeping — not having sex."

"So we’re married? Ha. We can date other people if we want. So, we’re open? No, 'open' implies a relationship. Are we poly? No. Single? Technically. And we have no desire to date? Not at the moment. We are more than friends but less than partners. Maybe not 'less.' This girl is my soul mate. Would I someday like to marry her? Someday. Maybe. When we’re like 60. Sometimes [it] feels as if we already are."

A "Modern Love" story — published along with various other snippets in the NYT.

Marianne Williamson escapes the paw-like grip of Bill Maher.

You can see that he wanted to nail her on religion (his longtime bugaboo). "You were Oprah's spiritual leader," Maher says, and when she murmurs modestly — "Oprah was very generous to me" — he gives an "mmm-hmmm" in a tone that gets a laugh out of the audience. (Exactly why? I hear insinuation that the relationship was sexual, and that feels like retrograde homophobia. My Googling about Williamson's sexuality diverted me to "Marianne Williamson Implies Mike Pence Is Gay/'Well, there are all kinds of theories about that, aren’t there?'")

Maher presses her on the book — "A Course in Miracles" — that is the basis of her teachings. It sounds like Scientology, he says, and she enacts mild, lighthearted offense. He's concerned about anything based on one book, and she says the book collects spiritual wisdom from "all religions and no religions — like you." The audience slowly absorbs the "like you" and builds into a laugh. That breaks Maher's pace. He giggles and places his big hand on her shinily padded shoulder.

His next move is to confront her with the fact that the author of "A Course in Miracles" said she "took dictation from Jesus." This is just about the first thing you learn about the book if you read Wikipedia or the "Course in Miracles" website:
A Course in Miracles was “scribed” by Dr. Schucman between 1965 and 1972 through a process of inner dictation. She experienced the process as one of a distinct and clear dictation from an inner voice, which earlier had identified itself to her as Jesus.
Williamson says, dismissively: "Well, there's nothing in the book" — she blows a puff of air — "Maybe she felt that." Maher pushes, she deflects. The book doesn't even try to get us to believe in God or Jesus: "The book tries to get us to believe in each other." Maher hits the table lightly with his fist, says, "We can't argue with that," and moves on.

He compliments her. In the debates, unlike everybody else, she "goes to the root of things." He mostly wants to talk about how people don't eat right and pharmaceutical companies are greedy and "all the toxicity and the chemicals," but she wants to talk about the need for love and spiritual wholeness. They chatter at cross purposes. Then she comes around to talking about "the corporations" and he cuts her off: "Don't become a politician now!"

ADDED: Let me front page something I just wrote in the comments:
By the way, the show continued with MW participating along with the panel of 3 other guests. During this part of the show, which I didn't find on video, but watched on TV last night, Maher showed his dislike for MW in ways [that] felt sexist to me....

He intended to make her look bad and his plan failed and he was irritated about that. MW is good at receiving and redirecting negative energy, and BM is under pressure to keep his show moving and interesting and funny and he couldn't make her happen the way he wanted.

August 2, 2019

At the Friday Night Cafe...

... talk about whatever you want.

"My 12-year-old daughter had a sticker on her water bottle with a quote from Dr. Seuss: 'You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.'"

"A classmate told her the sticker was racist because many people can’t choose what they want to do because of structural racism. My daughter peeled off the sticker and threw it away. When she told me about it, I was at a loss. I believe structural racism is real and pernicious, but I also think we should teach children that they have agency. And my daughter and I like the sticker’s message. Help!"

A question asked of a NYT advice columnist. The answer isn't interesting (just something about having a nuanced conversation with the daughter).

Hey, remember when Melania Trump tried to donate some Dr. Seuss books to an elementary school and the librarian rejected them?
[W]e will not be keeping the titles for our collection.... You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature....  Another fact that many people are unaware of is that Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you’ll see the racist mockery in his art. Grace Hwang Lynch’s School Library Journal article, “Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books,” reports on Katie Ishizuka’s work analyzing the minstrel characteristics and trope nature of Seuss’s characters. Scholar Philip Nel’s new book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, further explores and shines a spotlight on the systemic racism and oppression in education and literature.
ADDED: If that Dr. Seuss quote is racist, then isn't just about every graduation speech racist? Aren't kids given racist advice all the time? You can be whatever you want. Is that a good message?

"I wait for him to misspell or mispronounce something, and then I wait for my Serial Brain to decode."

Said Michelle Sellati, who attended Trump's Cincinnati rally last night, quoted in "Fear and gloating in Cincinnati" (WaPo). She was one of the "noticeable contingent of rallygoers wearing the symbols of the QAnon conspiracy theory." WaPo explains that QAnon "helps explain the president’s foibles to those who see him as the author of living scripture" and that Serial Brain is "a YouTube channel that she says analyzes the missing letters in the president’s tweets — and the garbled words in the president’s mouth — for clues to what’s going to happen in the future." Asked to explain something that did take place after a coded clue from Trump, Sellati said, "The chemtrails are gone. Since July 4. Look at the sky. It’s beautiful." I'm just going to hope Sellati and Serial Brain are wily pranksters.

"My second year we were told we had to be sexier, so we went that route, and now they're saying it's too sexy and women aren’t being respected."

"Now they’re solving the problem by getting rid of it, and that’s kind of a slap in the face to women who worked so hard on the team."

Said Tiffany Fontaine, a former member of the Milwaukee Bucks dance team, quoted in "Milwaukee Bucks Dancers are being replaced with the gender-inclusive 414 Crew. Former members say it's a 'slap in the face'" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The new group will have "dancing, tumbling, break-dancing, tricking and other unique talents." Sounds great to me. Styles in cheerleading change, and the sexy all-female approach isn't the most traditional style. It's a style and if it's gone out of style, good! I'd like to see some men and some break dancing. And I don't know what "tricking" is, but it sounds more promising than the sexy cheerleaders show that came from the 1970s.
"We're kind of constantly looking to evolve and broaden our reach and be as inclusive as we possibly can," Bucks President Peter Feigin said. "We've seen the trend change. We've seen dance entertainment teams morph into a lot of different things, and we loved what the co-ed dance teams were starting to look like."
It's a trend to express the idea with the word "inclusive." But it's not the words that matter. It's the show.

I looked up "tricking":

And here's Wikipedia on the history of cheerleading. It was an all-male activity until the 1940s:

50 years ago today, I know where I was: at the Atlantic City Pop Festival.

The Atlantic City Pop Festival took place in 1969 on August 1, 2 and 3rd at the Atlantic City race track, two weeks before Woodstock Festival... [T]he stage the acts performed on was created by Buckminster Fuller...

Memorable performances included:

Look out. It's a trap.

If the idea is what a crazy flouting of any respect for the truth, be careful. Just last month, Joe Biden declared: "I promise you if I'm elected president, you're going to see the single most important thing that changes America, we're gonna cure cancer."

But if you want to take down Biden, go right ahead and savage Trump for promising to cure cancer.

Realistically, it probably doesn't hurt Trump or Biden to overstate their impending triumph over cancer. It's hyperbole, but it's dedication to the fight against cancer.

"Apple has suspended its practice of having human contractors listen to users’ Siri recordings to 'grade' them..."

"The company said it would not restart the programme until it had conducted a thorough review of the practice.... The suspension was prompted by a report in the Guardian last week that revealed the company’s contractors 'regularly' hear confidential and private information while carrying out the grading process, including in-progress drug deals, medical details and people having sex. The bulk of that confidential information was recorded through accidental triggers of the Siri digital assistant, a whistleblower told the Guardian. The Apple Watch was particularly susceptible to such accidental triggers, they said.... Although Apple told users that Siri data may be used 'to help Siri … understand you better and recognise what you say,' the company did not explicitly disclose that this entailed human contractors listening to a random selection of Siri recordings, including those triggered accidentally...."

The Guardian reports.

What is voluntarily stopped can be voluntarily restarted. And why trust mere assurances — especially when they come from an entity that just screwed up and only stopped because it got caught? The answer is obvious: We like the good things we're getting from the technology. We're voluntarily letting go of our privacy values.

Sometimes I wonder whether we ever really did have very strong privacy values. Perhaps we have a deep-seated need to be watched over — if not by our parents or by God, then by Apple. Apple does seem to have been listening to us so it could take better care of us. It's benevolent, we want to believe. It's much like our other beliefs.

You can shift over to fear of horrible things in the offing — with Apple and with God and maybe even your parents. Throw them all off, if you want, if you can. But will that make your life better? See, that's why you're trusting Apple (and God and your parents) and that's why you don't put all that high a value on privacy.

Want a life firmly, fully premised on privacy? What would that really be like?

"Are You Rich? This Income- Rank Quiz Might Change How You See Yourself."

This is a little 5-question quiz in the NYT.

One of the questions is "In your view, being 'rich' means having an income in the ..." — with various choices: "top 25%, top 20%, top 15%, top 10%, top 5%, top 1%." So the answer you get to "Are you rich?" is based on your own definition of who is rich. I only need to make $153,000 to be in the top 5% where I live and only $175,000 to be in the top 5% in the NYC metropolitan area. Who thinks they're rich if they make $175,000 in NYC? Can you even afford a 1-bedroom apartment?!

From the article accompanying the quiz:
The researchers found that a “vast majority” of their respondents believed they were poorer, relative to others, than they actually were. The people who thought they were right in the middle of the income distribution – perfectly middle class, you might say — were, on average, closer to the 75th percentile. And as a group, respondents whose incomes actually resembled the true median thought they were closer to the bottom fourth....
People are looking at outward manifestations of wealth and thinking about their own capacity to buy things. The perspectives are different. Also, we think about social class, and in that view, "The Rich" are those other people. F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said "The rich are different from you and me," and some people like to think that Ernest Hemingway retorted, "Yes, they have more money," and that "they have more money" is the right answer and also what they'd have retorted if they'd been there at the time.

The NYT quiz seems to think that too, but I'm with Fitzgerald. There's more to it than money, though some people have so much money that, of course, you call them rich, no matter what their other attributes are. But the quiz tries to set a line: Make $175,000 and you're rich. But it takes no responsibility because that 5th question puts it on you to define rich.

Now, that 5th question does let you bail out and answer "don't know/none of these." When I asked Meade if he thought we were rich, he said yes and it was because "Everyone in America is rich." It's all a matter of perspective. If you give the "don't know/none of these" answer on the NYT quiz, it will tell you — instead of "You're rich" or "You're not rich" — "You’ll have to decide for yourself if you’re rich or not."

"Now that you know who you are/What do you want to be?"

(Does the "scientist" in the video look familiar? Look closely, guess, then click here to see his father's last name.)

"... Playboy was quietly relaunched this year — this time as a thick-stock, matte-paper, ad-free quarterly. It is edited by a millennial triumvirate..."

"... the openly gay Mr. Singh, 31; Erica Loewy, 26, the creative director; and Anna Wilson, 29, who oversees photography and multimedia.... The summer issue, out now, features an interview with Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the MeToo movement, conducted by Dream Hampton, whose documentary about R. Kelly led to multiple charges against the singer. There is a queer cartoon and a feature on gender-neutral sex toys. The fall issue will feature a photo feature by the artist Marilyn Minter celebrating female pubic hair. 'We have red hair, blond hair, black hair — it’s basically every color of the rainbow,' said Liz Suman, 35, the magazine’s arts editor. She added that elsewhere in the publication, 'I’ve been sneaking in some penises, too.'....  In the office, members of the staff use terms like 'intersectionality,' 'sex positivity,' 'privileging' and 'lived experience' to describe their editorial vision — and tout their feminist credentials. Two editors are former employees of Ms.... 'We talk a lot about what’s the Playboy gaze and how we need to diversify that,' said Rachel Webber, 37, the chief marketing officer.... 'It’s a little like being in a gender studies class,' she added."

From "Can the Millennials Save Playboy?/The Hefners are gone, and so is the magazine’s short-lived ban on nudity — as well as virtually anyone on the staff over 35" (NYT).

Playboy is just a brand name. You can completely change a product under a name. Will it work? Was there enough value in the old version of the product that it's not good business to repurpose the name? Look at this big NYT article they got out of it!

Remember Cosmopolitan magazine?

It had been around since 1886 when Helen Gurley Brown took over in 1965. Originally, it was introduced as a "first-class family magazine" with articles on fashion, interior decoration, childcare, and cooking. In 1905, William Randolph Hearst took over and changed it into a place with articles like "The Growth of Caste in America" and writers including George Bernard Shaw and Upton Sinclair, and Ida Tarbell. By the 1950s, the circulation was way down and it was considered very dull.
Helen Gurley Brown took over and completely changed it into an active promotion of sex for the single woman.
In Brown's early years as editor, the magazine received heavy criticism. In 1968 at the feminist Miss America protest, protestors symbolically threw a number of feminine products into a "Freedom Trash Can." These included copies of Cosmopolitan and Playboy magazines. Cosmopolitan also ran a near-nude centerfold of actor Burt Reynolds in April 1972, causing great controversy and attracting much attention....

Victoria Hearst, a granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst..., has lent her support to a campaign which seeks to classify Cosmopolitan as harmful under the guidelines of "Material Harmful to Minors" laws. Hearst, the founder of an evangelical Colorado church called Praise Him Ministries, states that "the magazine promotes a lifestyle that can be dangerous to women's emotional and physical well being. It should never be sold to anyone under 18."... 
ADDED: One nice thing about the new Playboy website is access to old Playboy interviews. I once subscribed to Playboy, the website, just because I wanted to read the Allen Ginsberg interview (from 1969). But here it is now, free: "A poet, a mystic, a homosexual, a psychedelic proselyte, a revolutionary, a bearded prophet of doom for what he considers society's 'sick' values, he is among the most famous and certainly the most controversial of living poets." There was plenty of detail about homosexuality in that interview (which I read when I was 18, in my family home, where Playboy was always openly available):
Would you explain what you mean when you say there's a natural element of homosexuality in every man?

There's homosexuality in every Playboy reader. To say that in a Playboy Interview is interesting because obviously every Playboy reader expects me to say that; so I'll say it and liberate him from his fear that somebody will say it sooner or later.

August 1, 2019

At the Yell and Swallow Café...


... you can speak in an intense tone of voice and gulp whatever you've got there in your cup.

(And you know there's that the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy Yellies and whatever the hell else you need?)

"Nowhere is the left more nuts than on climate. Biden, the 'reasonable' person on stage, says 'no more fossil fuels'..."

" his presidency. Think about this, folks. No oil, gas, coal. No diesel trucks, airplanes, fighter jets, chainsaws."

Tweets Kimberley Strassel.

I couldn't believe it when I heard it last night:
BIDEN: We will end any subsidies for coal or any other fossil fuel. But we have to also engage the world while we're doing it. We have to walk and chew gum at the same time.

BASH: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Just to clarify, would there be any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration?

BIDEN: No, we would -- we would work it out. We would make sure it's eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either -- any fossil fuel.
I said out loud at the time: "So, no more airplanes?"

To be fair, I think it's likely that Biden understood the question to mean is there any place for government subsidies and that's all he's thinking of eliminating. Alternatively, he means to eliminate coal and he uses the term "fossil fuel" without realizing it includes oil and gas.


Here's the etymology of the word "fossil":
1610s, "any thing dug up;" 1650s (adj.) "obtained by digging" (of coal, salt, etc.), from French fossile (16c.), from Latin fossilis "dug up," from fossus, past participle of fodere "to dig," from PIE root *bhedh- "to dig, pierce."

Restricted noun sense of "geological remains of a plant or animal" is from 1736 (the adjective in the sense "pertaining to fossils" is from 1660s); slang meaning "old person" first recorded 1859. Fossil fuel (1833) preserves the earlier, broader sense.
That slang usage — meaning "old person" — could be used on Biden. Maybe he's the fossil that should be rejected.

Anyway, the first usage of "fossil" in the figurative sense referred to the government. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson (in 1844): "Government has been a fossil; it should be a plant."

The first use to refer to a person came from Charlotte Brontë (in 1857): "When a man endures patiently what ought to be unendurable, he is a fossil."


What Biden was said was dumb, and while he was saying it, he evoked an old expression about dumbness. He said, "We have to walk and chew gum at the same time." The original line was "He's so dumb that he can't walk and chew gum at the same time." That was a President talking about a man who later became President. LBJ said it about Gerald Ford. Or so the fit-to-print newspapers reported. It's necessary to add that he really said "He's so dumb that he can't fart and chew gum at the same time."

Compare: Kamala Harris and Tulsi Gabbard.

Transcript at "Gabbard vs. Harris: You Kept Prisoners Locked Up For Labor, Blocked Evidence That Would Free Man On Death Row."

Based on this exchange — please watch the video before voting — who is the stronger candidate? free polls

And the reality is...

From the transcript of last night's debate, in chronological order:
HARRIS: The reality is that our plan will bring health care to all Americans under a Medicare for All system.

GABBARD: The reality is right now, we don’t have a healthcare system. We have a sick care system….

HARRIS: The reality is that — what — under my Medicare for All plan, yes, employers are not going to be able to dictate the kind of healthcare that their employees get....

DE BLASIO: Ask people about the reality of premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses....

DE BLASIO: Why are we even discussing on one level whether it's a civil penalty or a criminal penalty, when it's an American reality?...

HARRIS: And the reality is that I would take any Democrat on this stage over the current president of the United States….

BOOKER: Science didn't become a reality yesterday....

HARRIS: And the reality of it is that we have a person in the White House right now who has been shielded by a memo in the United States Department of Justice…

BENNET: We need to recognize a very practical reality... we've got the August recess, then we are four months away from the Iowa Caucuses....
YANG: Instead of talking about automation and our future, including the fact that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs, hundreds of thousands right here in Michigan, we're up here with makeup on our faces and our rehearsed attack lines, playing roles in this reality TV show. It's one reason why we elected a reality TV star as our president.
Clearly, Yang takes the cake. If quality is what counts. And I think it does. He was examining and challenging the very concept of reality in politics. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

But if you want to talk quantity, Kamala Harris has a rhetorical tic — "the reality is." It's her "Let me make one thing perfectly clear," her "let me say this about that."

"My husband and I found this odd metal ball in the jungles of Guam. It’s about 3 pounds with an 1.5in diameter."

Says a woman in the subreddit whatisthisthing with a photograph of the thing in the palm of a fake-fingernailed hand. The post is marked "Solved" and the solution that rose to the top is: "Retired USAF here. That is a WWII era bomblet from a cluster bomb! Call police now! Those can be really unstable! Great personal harm could come to you!" There's also a moderator's post at the top — something I've seen before at whatisthisthin: "Your post indicates you may possibly be in possession of unexploded ordnance (UXO)." Did she bring that thing home on an airplane?

"We cannot keep with the Republican talking points on this. You got to stop."

Said Kamala Harris at the Democratic Party candidates' debate last night. She was pushing back Michael Bennet, who'd said that her health-care plan would eliminate employer-based insurance and cost an amount of money equal to 70% of what government collects in taxes. She goes on to say that employer-based private insurance that follows all the new rules can continue and people will have a choice between "a private Medicare plan" and "a public Medicare plan."

I don't want to attempt to compare the various health-care plans (and I don't believe that electing a particular candidate will result in our getting their plan any more than electing Trump got us a border wall (and Mexico will pay for it!)).

I just want to talk about the rhetoric "Republican talking point." It wasn't just Kamala Harris. It was Joe Biden: "This is not a Republican talking point." And Julian Castro: "Open borders is a right-wing talking point."

And (to go back to the Tuesday night debate), Elizabeth Warren said it twice: "We should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other...." And "What you want to do instead is find the Republican talking point of a made-up piece of some other part and say, Oh, we don't really have to do anything."

There was Bernie Sanders: "And, Jake, your question is a Republican talking point."

Marianne Williamson used the phrase, but warily: "And I do have concern about what the Republicans would say. And that's not just a Republican talking point."

It's such a cliché already that its usefulness may already be gone, but let me do my part to try to kill it. I assume — and I am a moderate voter in Wisconsin, capable of going for either party's candidate — that the Republicans' talking points are their best arguments on all the various issues. A Democratic Party candidate, to be any good, better demonstrate skill at countering these arguments, these talking points!

It's especially bad to use the line against the debate moderator, as Bernie did — "Jake, your question is a Republican talking point." It sounds as though he's implying that Jake Tapper should go easy on him and not challenge him with the very arguments he'll have to deal with if he's the Democratic Party candidate.

And it's terrible to use the phrase as a way to refuse to deal with a problem with your position. Julian Castro said "open borders is a right-wing talking point, and frankly I'm disappointed that some folks, including some folks on this stage, have taken the bait." His whole argument was Shut up, you sound like a Republican. And he wasn't even talking to the other candidates. He was talking to one of the moderators (Don Lemon), who had quoted President Obama's homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson. Your immigration policy sounds like open borders! If it's not open borders, you'd better explain why!

And look at that Kamala Harris quote I put in the title: "We cannot keep with the Republican talking points on this. You got to stop." You've got the slang "We cannot keep with" and the (intentionally?) bad grammar "You got to stop." Is that supposed to be sassy and cute? To me, it sounds tired and unprepared. Or worse... it sounds like you know your policy is bad and vulnerable to attack but you're going to bull forward with it anyway. It's the best you got... the best you've got.

"Republican talking point" is a Democratic talking point.

Kirsten Gillibrand: "So the first thing that I'm going to do when I'm president is I'm going to Clorox the Oval Office."

From last night's debate, and I've got to think that was a scripted joke, because it was a response to an invitation to explain how the Green New Deal — "which includes the guarantee of a job with medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security for everyone in America" — is realistic

It seems as though she had a joke and had no compunction about sticking it in where it didn't belong:
So the first thing that I'm going to do when I'm president is I'm going to Clorox the Oval Office. The second thing I'm going to do is I will reengage on global climate change. And I will not only sign the Paris global climate accords, but I will lead a worldwide conversation about the urgency of this crisis.
Maybe that Clorox stuff is there to separate her answer from the question — which is about the realism of guaranteeing everyone medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security — not simply getting back to the Paris accord and having a conversation. I want to talk about the Clorox, but I've got to stop and say I'm so tired of hearing that what we need is "a conversation." It sounds like no solution at all and a way to delay. But "conversation about the urgency" is quite special — delaying by talking about how delay is not an option. And if dealing with climate change is all important, why is the Green New Deal cluttered with guarantees of medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security?

Gillibrand settles in to expatiate about climate change. Here's something that drives me nuts. There's always time to say the name of some specific individual in Iowa:
The greatest threat to humanity is global climate change. I visited a family in Iowa who -- water spewed into her home, Fran Parr, it tossed her refrigerator upend, all the furniture was broken, all the dishes were broken, and mud was everywhere. That is the impact of severe weather right now on families' lives.
So, this Fran Parr character, did she live on a flood plain? I notice that her house was a mess and admire the thematic unity of Gillibrand's little speech, which on first hearing felt like a mishmash. The theme is: a dirty house that needs cleaning up. But this answer is a jumble. I feel like it needs tidying up. There's the ludicrous phrase, "her home, Fran Parr." There's "upend" used as an adverb. There's the muddling of "climate" and "weather" and "water spew[ing]" (which I have to guess was a flood).

She devolves into all-purpose blather about doing things:
And so the truth is, we need a robust solution. When John F. Kennedy said I want to put a man on the moon in the next 10 years, not because it's easy, but because it's hard, he knew it was going to be a measure of our innovation, our success, our ability to galvanize worldwide competition. He wanted to have a space race with Russia. Why not have a green energy race with China? Why not have clean air and clean water for all Americans? Why not rebuild our infrastructure? Why not actually invest in the green jobs? That's what the Green New Deal is about. Not only will I pass it, but I will put a price on carbon to make market forces help us.
The question was how is it realistic to guarantee a job with medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security for everyone in America. That sounds like just imposing requirements — burdensome requirements — on private businesses, which is nothing like sending a man to the moon, where government itself performs the task. Gillibrand never addresses those requirements at all. She switches to "green energy" and clean air and water. She declares "That's what the Green New Deal is about" as if to exclude the very things that were the subject of the question — requiring private businesses to provide medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security.

With all that disorder — like broken dishes and furniture in a mud-splattered house in Iowa — let me get back to the Clorox. Clorox — do all listeners know? — is bleach. Do you clean with bleach? You can, but most people think of bleach as a whitener. We're so prodded to think of racism these days that I got sidetracked wondering whether the use of bleach will be regarded as racist. Will some people hear the white woman promising to whiten things up?

And when was bleach just in the news? Oh! Jussie Smollett!

In the staged attack, the meaningful liquid allegedly thrown was bleach.

And then there's BleachBit — the method Hillary Clinton used to thoroughly destroy her 33,000 emails.

I wouldn't have brought up bleach. And why would a woman candidate present herself in the metaphor of housecleaning? "I'm going to Clorox the Oval Office." Why would you need to Clorox the Oval Office? The question makes me think of Bill Clinton and his famous bodily fluids. Donald Trump is known for posh interiors, not dirtying a place up. Of course, it's metaphorical dirt — the person as filth. Isn't it morally wrong to talk about human beings as filth? Well, maybe not. I'm sure many Trump-haters routinely refer to him in scatological terms. But this is a presidential debate, and Gillibrand seems to be appealing to our desire for cleanliness. I guess you stimulate that desire by making people feel uneasy about excrement and germs.

Elsewhere in the debate, Gillibrand called herself "a white woman of privilege" who "can talk to those white women in the suburbs." You know those women, always worrying about tidiness and warding away infection with chemical sprays on household surfaces. She can "explain to them what white privilege actually is, that when their son is walking down a street with a bag of M&Ms in his pocket, wearing a hoodie, his whiteness is what protects him from not being shot."

Protects him from not being shot?

The mind of Kirsten Gillbrand is like a bag of M&M rattling around in the pocket of a hoodie.

July 31, 2019

Oh, no!! It's debate time again.... must we... really?

Don't know if I'll say anything, but here's your place to talk.

Looks like John (my son) is taking this thing seriously. Check that out.

I can barely tolerate the idea. I guess it's just the thought of Joe Biden's teeth, shining like the Cheshire Cat, that gives me enough of a little lift to keep going... into the horror... what? does this go on until... 2 a.m. or something....


7:50 Central Time — Way too much back and forth about health care, with an unfair amount of time lavished on Kamala Harris. I've had it with the effort to shoehorn in anecdotes about grandmothers and what life was like growing up. I'm going to give the health care round to Joe Biden.

8:21 — Cory Booker is doing a good job of standing next to Biden and giving him the eye. Booker seems to have a nice joy of the game. I'm enjoying his performance.

9:39 — The best of the night? Tulsi Gabbard. A brutal attack on Kamala Harris. Excellent deep, strong voice. Well-grounded seriousness.

"We have a generation coming up where yelling is really not a very acceptable way of expressing yourself."

“For them, the value in anger and aggression has not yet been untied from toxic masculinity. I tell my patients that anger, like anxiety, can be a very important and useful emotion when harnessed correctly. Often, we get to the most onerous, blistering, radical truth about something when we’re angry. But, over all, there is a more reserved and muted sense of emotional expressivity... I think if you’re a young man in America, the notion that you’re going to yell in anger is hugely conflictual and no longer acceptable, and potentially will get you medicated.... I hear people being much more reflective. They’ve been raised on words like ‘inclusivity’ and ‘community’ and ‘organic.’ ”

Said the psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, quoted in "The Decline of Yelling" by Amanda Petrusich (at The New Yorker).

This is interesting to see this morning, because last night, live-blogging the Democratic candidates' debate, I wrote, "So much yelling and stress" (at 7:34 CT) and "May the yelling end soon. I am weary" (at 8:58 CT). To my ear, Bernie Sanders was nearly always yelling. Elizabeth Warren was often yelling. It really bothered me.

Petrusich brings up "The Primal Scream" — that 1970s book by Arthur Janov. It was a kind of psychotherapy. Yelling will help. Supposedly. But there's later research:
A 2015 paper published in Current Biology studied how screams—or any noise that results “from the bifurcation of regular phonation to a chaotic regime,” thereby making it “particularly difficult to predict and ignore”—occupy “a privileged acoustic niche,” neurologically distinct from other communication signals. It’s that niche—what scientists refer to as “roughness,” or a modulation rate between about thirty and a hundred and fifty hertz—that makes a scream... cut through all other stimuli, regardless of relative volume. Physically, it’s nearly impossible for a human being not to be deeply and instinctively alarmed by yelling....

"Snopes, however, was not content with performing its vital public service of debunking crazy rumors and easing childhood fears."

"It had pretensions to be something more. It took the cultural goodwill built up over years of truth-telling and decided to make a real difference. It kept fact-checking urban legends... but it also began fact-checking politicians and news sites, and conducting its own investigative reports... And that brings me to one of my favorite websites, the Babylon Bee. It’s distinctly conservative, it’s distinctly Christian, it’s very, very funny (especially if you’ve grown up as an Evangelical Christian), and it’s obviously, clearly satire.... Snopes has fact-checked whether Democrats demanded that 'Brett Kavanaugh submit to a DNA test to prove he’s not actually Hitler.' It’s fact-checked whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly 'guessed "free" on TV show "The Price is Right,"' and whether Ilhan Omar actually asked, 'If Israel is so innocent, then why do they insist on being Jews?'...  [L]ast week Snopes... fact-checked an article called 'Georgia Lawmaker Claims Chick-Fil-A Employee Told Her To Go Back To Her Country, Later Clarifies He Actually Said "My Pleasure."'... [I]t questioned whether the article was satire, accusing the Bee of 'fanning the flames of a controversy' and 'muddying the details of a news story.'... [If Snopes] wants to serve its purpose, it must not use its remaining cultural power and its remaining commercial influence to target the satire that stings its allies. Hands off the Babylon Bee."

Writes David French in "Hands Off the Babylon Bee" (National Review).

First, let me disclose my bias. I loathe The Babylon Bee. I don't try to read it. I encounter it because Instapundit puts up the attention-getting headlines so I'm forced to read them and do the half-second-long mental work of seeing that it's just a joke and I never find the joke funny. It's always, oh, no... it's The Babylon Bee. It's like Instapundit is Rickrolling me. But David French says "it’s very, very funny." Not to me, it isn't. Admittedly, I did not grow up as an Evangelical Christian, but I don't know why that would make me more open to attaching nasty fake quotes like "If Israel is so innocent, then why do they insist on being Jews?" to a real name like Ilhan Omar.

It doesn't sound as though Snopes is confused about The Babylon Bee and thinks it's purporting to be a real news site. But even when you completely understand the format is satire, like The Onion, you believe that the satire relates to something real. You have to wonder what is the real thing that happened that this is a satire of. So, for example, in the case of "If Israel is so innocent, then why do they insist on being Jews?," you'd have to assume, if that's supposed to be funny, Ilhan Omar must have said some anti-Semitic things. The presentation of the quote as satire implies that there is something out there that is being satirized. You extrapolate.

So, in the case of the insist-on-being-Jews quote, Snopes tried to find the factual basis for the satire:
In this case, the website’s intent was to ridicule Omar’s reaction to escalating violence on the Gaza Strip (“The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable,” she tweeted, emphasizing the plight of Palestinians) by attributing barely coherent anti-Semitic quotes to her. Earlier in the year, Omar was accused by members of both parties of using “anti-Semitic tropes” in criticizing Israel’s influence over U.S. politics. She has made no public statements resembling those in the Babylon Bee article, however.
That is an unusual form of fact-checking, but it is real fact-checking. Snopes also fact-checks The Onion in the same way. For example, there's: "Did ICE Hurl a Pregnant Woman Over a Border Wall?/In June 2018, a piece of satire from 'The Onion' became more confusing to social media users":
The Onion is, of course, a satirical web site that was founded in newspaper form in 1988.

Readers’ mistaking The Onion's humorous material for real news is not uncommon on social media, as demonstrated by questions we’ve received from readers about warring cruise ships and a photograph of Cuban people clinging to the wings of Air Force One.
It's not that people believed the photograph that showed a crowd of people on the wings of Air Force One as it flew, but some readers imagined that something happened, that at least some Cubans clung to the wings of the plane while it was still on the ground.

It's not just this inference that something underlies satire, but that headlines get decontextualized in social media. This is what's I've found so irritating encountering The Babylon Bee at Instapundit. And, yes, I know that lately Instapundit includes some note that the quoted headline is satire — sometimes with a reference to Snopes but also with a nudge that it's awfully close to what's true. For example: "Note to Snopes: It’s the Babylon Bee, so this is satire — or is it?"

So, yeah, I'm defending Snopes. I don't see the problem with what it's doing. I'm sure it leans left, but those who are attacking it lean right. Websites have political leanings. Big deal. So what? That's not worth getting excited about. Who's doing anything wrong here? I don't see much of a problem anywhere. The Babylon Bee isn't very good, in my opinion, and I can't avoid it because it's constantly linked on Instapundit, and I'm not going to quit Instapundit, but I completely own that as my problem.

"It’s $500 billion dollars — $200 to $500 billion dollars — payment of a debt that is owed. That is what reparations is."

"We need some deep truth-telling when it comes. We don’t need another commission to look at evidence, I appreciate what Congressman O’Rourke has said. It is time for us to simply realize that this country will not heal. All that a country is is a collection of people. People heal when there is some deep truth-telling. We need to recognize when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America. It does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with. That great injustice has had to deal with the fact that there were 250 years of slavery followed by another 100 years of domestic terrorism. What makes me qualified to say $200 to $500 billion dollars? I’ll tell you what makes me qualified. If you did the math of the 40 acres and a mule given that there were four to five million slaves at the end of the Civil War and they were all promised 40 acres and a mule for every family of four. If you did the math today it would be trillions of dollars. And I believe anything less than $100 billion dollars is an insult and I believe that $200 to $500 billion is politically feasible today because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface and an emotional turbulence that only reparations will heal."

Said Marianne Williamson at last night Democratic Party candidates' debate, quoted by Eugene Scott at "Marianne Williamson makes the case for reparations in her breakout debate moment" (WaPo)(Scott writes "million" for billion in this piece that went up 6 hours ago, and no one at the Washington Post has noticed yet).

Scott writes:
Reparations has not polled particularly well with the American public, but the topic has seen renewed focus this year as many presidential candidates have been asked to address it and the House held a hearing on it earlier this summer.
From the comments over there: "Reparations is the dumbest idea democrats have ever had. If you want to motivate republicans try this bs." I guess that means it's a "dumb" idea because it's politically dangerous for Democrats. It's not a dumb idea in terms of moral reasoning. It has some practical and legal problems. And it might be a smart idea politically if your goal is to impede the progress of excessively left-wing candidates.

Anyway, I give Williamson high marks for rhetoric and delivery. She's on fire.

"All breeds are welcome here, including pit bulls. Haters, back off or the thread will be locked/Edit: You were warned."

That's the top comment on a Reddit thread that was, in fact, locked by moderators:

Out of nowhere this adorable baby jumped into my car. His owner finally showed up to fetch him and said his name is Opie. from r/aww

This is the subReddit r/Aww, and the moderation may be specific to r/aww — where people go to collect warm feelings.

It seems, perhaps, that people are training their dogs to jump into cars through the window. This is cute... until it's not...

July 30, 2019

At the Kind of Buzz Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And let me remind you of the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy what you might happen to need.)

I guess we’re watching the Democratic Party candidates’ debate.

Not promising I’ll have anything to say, but here’s a place to talk about it.

And my son John is live-blogging it here.

7:07 — Oh, no! A gun! Tim Ryan doesn't have his hand over his heart for the National Anthem. Great rendition of the song.

7:11 — Amy and Liz are wearing red jackets (Liz's is brighter and longer), and Marianne is in an all-black suit. The men are, of course, all in dark suits, but Buttigieg is distinguished with a somewhat lighter blue-colored suit.

7:14 — Opening statements, what a bore! Bullock — he gets stuff done. He says people "can't wait for revolution" — that's ambiguous! Marianne Williamson rails against an "amoral economic system" which has become "a false god." John Delaney is against "impossible promises" that "will get Trump reelected." Tim Ryan has a top-of-the-head/bottom-of-the-head-disproportion... and not in the right direction. Hickenlooper shares progressive values but is "a little more pragmatic." Who's clearing their throat into the mike while Hickenlooper is talking?! Amy Klobuchar has "had it with the racist attacks" (not sure if she means the attacks from Trump or on Trump). Beto O'Rourke wants to stand up against "a lawless President." Buttigieg says "our country is running out of time." What's that thing on his face? Elizabeth Warren says Trump is a "disgrace" but he's just part of a "rigged system" that "kicks dirt" at... oh, is that what happened to Buttigieg's face? Bernie Sanders is pissed at Amazon. His upper lip is Nixonizing.

7:26 — The first question goes to Bernie Sanders and lets him plug in his health-care proposal. Dull! He's pitted against Delaney, who's criticized Sanders's plan. "Why do we gotta be the party that's taking something away from people?" Warren breaks in. Her theme tonight seems to be about how the Democrats really all want the same thing. She insists on telling an anecdote about a "cute little boy." It's all out of control! Jake Tapper breaks in to tame her: Are you for Medicare for all? She brushes it off to get back to her anecdote — "I want to get back to Addie" — and the crowd laughs. She chides, "It's not funny." We are scolded, scolded for expecting her to answer the question asked.

7:34 — The health-care issue is too complicated to discuss in this agitated, rushed way. It's making me ill. So much yelling and stress. I'm tuning out on this issue. I don't think it works well in a debate, not with all these contestants and tight time limits and permitting candidates to break in and go overtime. It's incredibly irritating.

7:45 — A lot of concern about union members losing the private health insurance benefits in the move to Medicare for all. Delaney explains how health care will decline under that plan — it's a matter of simple arithmetic — and Sanders accuses him of profiteering off private insurance. It seems like a wild slur. Sanders gets so mad and turns bright red. It's so off-putting!

7:51 — They're talking about immigration. Sanders just assured us we would have "strong border protections," but most of the talk is about "de-criminalizing" crossing the border. Bullock was sounding a bit like Trump and then he said the whole problem was Trump. I'm hearing a lot of emotion and railing against Trump, but the substance is a jumble. No one is standing out. Maybe Buttigieg, just for staying calm.

7:58 — Guns. I don't think any of this is new. How much longer is this debate? Another hour.

8:06 — Bullock brags about "gettin' the Koch brothers out of Montana." That doesn't sound right to me! Singling out particular private citizens and driving them out of your state?

8:11 — Is Bernie Sanders too far left to beat Trump? Tapper asks Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper doesn't give a clear "yes" and there's such a barrage of words that I have no idea what he said. He's not defining himself, so he is losing. There is some cute byplay when Hickenlooper says Sanders just throws his hands up and Sanders does the throwing-the-hands-up gesture and Hickenlooper does it back at him.

8:17 — Elizabeth Warren is "not afraid" and she thinks Democrats win when they figure out what they believe in and fight for it. Delaney says something pragmatic and she smashes him with: "I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for." That’s the quote of the night.

8:24 — Amy Klobuchar is invited to say who is making promises just to get elected. She declines to attack anyone individually... other than, of course, Trump. But now that I think about it, no one is landing any serious attack on Trump. It's a given, often repeated, that Trump must be defeated, but I'm not hearing anything memorable undermining Trump.

8:33 — Climate change. I got distracted looking into what that necklace is that Williamson's wearing....

8:37 — I'm checking out Twitter. Interesting that some of the candidates are tweeting during the debate. In other words, the illusion that they tweet their own tweets is ruined.

8:40 — I don't know what Marianne Williamson was just saying, but it was very exciting and I kinda got chills.

8:47 — Drudge has a "who's winning?" poll. I thought a second, then voted for Williamson. Turns out she has 43% of the vote. That's way out in front. Delaney is next, with only 10%. Not scientific, but weird.

8:58 — May the yelling end soon. I am weary....

9:28 — I thought this would end at 9, and I’ve basically treated it as over since then. I am kind of listening, but... whoa! Marianne!!! Okay, I checked back in for that radical psychic energy, and now I’m back out again.

9:39 — That thing is now gone from Pete Buttigieg’s face. I wonder what it was?

"Chester coming out of the pouch for his first hop. He doesn't stay out long, but he was brave and that was a great first hop."

"It’s ok Chester, I don’t like to stay out long either. Introverts unite!"

"I really like trying to re-create bad haircuts I gave myself when I was like 6. I think there’s something powerful about re-creating looking in the mirror..."

"... and going, Oh shit, this was a horrible idea. I shouldn’t have done this with these scissors. A lot of my inspiration comes from people cutting their own hair and kids cutting their own hair, for sure.... With a step, you lose all the hair around your face — you lose any opportunity to hide, which is cool. I think bangs are there to kind of hide behind a bit. But with a step, there’s no hiding; you have to have your face out in the open.... When you hit the lobes, there’s something about it that feels medieval and kind of pre-Raphaelite; it’s something you can recognize. The second you take it past that, it completely fucks with the golden ratio in your head. You start going, Why is it doing this? It’s not supposed to look like that, which I also like doing to people, I’m not gonna lie."

Said the hairdresser Dylan Chavles, quoted in "Can You Handle These Bangs?" (NY Magazine). This hairstyle is crazy, but it may hoodwink kids too young to think "mullet." Chavles even says, "Youʼll have two bobs — a little ’20s bob up here and a regular bob in the back," which is sounds a lot like "Business up front, party in the back," the classic description of a mullet. And yet "’20s bob" sounds like the party and "regular bob" sounds like business, so it's actually more party up front, business in the back, but that doesn't make it any more aesthetically pleasing. Here's Chavles’s own proud promotion of his work:

A post shared by Dylan Chavles (@dylanchavles) on

Alan Dershowitz asks a tricky question about 16 year olds.

The thread at Twitter continues. Dershowitz goes on to say:
I challenge my readers to distinguish the cases, as a matter of constitutional law. I did not suggest that it is moral to have sex with a 16 year old, but rather that the issue presents a constitutional conundrum worthy of discussion. 2/
I also pointed out that, statutory rape laws are applied quite selectively and often against young teenagers. That’s why I also say there are Romeo and Juliet exceptions. Lets debate not name call. End/
He's taunted by tweeters who say things like:
OK, perv.
Could this be because you raped a 16 year old?
But I'm going to take his question about abortion seriously. And here are my questions: When a woman under the age of consent seeks an abortion, it is always the case that she is the victim of statutory rape, is it not? If statutory rape is a serious crime — as Dershowitz's taunters apparently believe — shouldn't the abortion providers always report the crime to the police? Providing an abortion to an underage woman and doing nothing about the sexual abuse is covering up a crime, isn't it?

"Mostly the Democrats are taking tweet-size bites out of one another’s hind parts in Heathers-style putdowns, or engaging in virtue-signaling contests, like they’re running for president of Woke Twitter."

From "The Iowa Circus/An overstuffed field of candidates is repeating the Republicans’ 2016 primary-season errors" by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone).

It's a long article. Feel to read it. I'm just going to cherry-pick some stuff about Marianne Williamson:
Precisely because socioeconomic stresses have pushed them into heightened awareness, she says, the American public sees what she calls “a transition from democracy to aristocracy,” and the corporate sector’s “insatiable appetite” for money that dominates American life....

Williamson [says] that most Americans are aware that their government is now little more than a handmaiden to sociopathic forces. She describes a two-party system that, at its worst, operates in perfect harmony with the darkest impulses of corporate capitalism, and at best — presumably she refers more to Democrats here — sounds like institutionalized beggary.

“ ‘Pretty please, can I maybe have a hundred-thousand-dollar grant here?’ ” she says. “ ‘Pretty please, can we maybe have a million dollars in the budget for all this?’ ”

Heads are nodding all over the place.

“They say, ‘I can get you a cookie.’ ”

This elicits a few yeahs from the crowd.

Christ, I think. This woman is going to win the nomination....

Ludicrous Assertion of Expertise of the Day.

"I Played Trump in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Debate Prep. Here’s What It Takes to Beat Him" — Philippe Reines (Politico).

But wait. Let me read this. It's possible that Reines will soul search and admit that he failed to figure out what Trump was doing that worked and that his contempt for Trump led him to portray a beatable Trump and caused Hillary to practice the wrong way.
To prepare myself for her grueling debate prep, I watched the 15 Republican primary debates and forums in which Trump participated three times each: once the whole way through; a second time focusing entirely on the exchanges he was part of; a third time with the sound off to watch his mannerisms and body language. I might know his debating style—if you want to call it that—better than anyone on the planet (aside from Hillary Clinton, of course).
So... there's a false confidence! Better than anyone on the planet. But if you understood it all wrong, you might be more wrong about Trump's debating style than anyone on the planet. (Note the use of a superlative with a weasel word. We were talking about that in connection with Scott Adams yesterday, here.)
These are the qualities that make Trump such a tough opponent in a debate, despite the fact that he is possibly the worst debater in presidential history....
Okay, now, I'm creating a new tag, "superlative + weasel word." This is perhaps the greatest tag in the history of blogging.
The bluster, vulgarity, innuendo and refusal to admit he’s wrong.... [I]magine if you didn’t care whether you got the job. Or worse, imagine if you’ve gotten every other job simply by being your obnoxious self, with no filter. A malevolent George Costanza. That guy is Donald Trump....
He assumed Donald Trump is malevolent?! That was the key?!! I can see trying to deliver that message to viewers of a debate, but to have that as your background understanding of what's really going on inside Donald Trump? That strikes me as disastrous. George Costanza might be a helpful idea, but if you add malevolence, you've got George Constanza all wrong. Hey, Hillary, here's what you do: You know George Constanza? Yeah, that, but here's the twist: He's malevolent! Now, get out there and have a glorious debate.

Having thus established his credentials as just possibly the world's greatest expert on debating Donald Trump, Reines offers his advice:
Democrats need to be able to communicate and attack in the same kind of blunt language that has until now been inappropriate in national politics—or at least not get caught flat-footed when Trump makes a typically rude or crass comment. Blunt and direct does not, however, mean juvenile or immature....
Why should Trump's opponents adopt Trump's style? I guess you could say that's not what Hillary did and she lost, so what the hell? Do the opposite...

As I slog through the nether regions of this column, I see that Reines is displaying his woeful inability to comprehend what Trump did that was effective. With no glimmer of understanding of how this dismissive, contemptuous attitude disserved the candidate he was hired to help (Hillary Clinton), Reines tells us Trump doesn't admit he's wrong and Trump lies.
So who is best able to call out his lies in real time, while standing a mere 10 feet away from him?
Reines makes a sudden descent into sexism! Here's how the column ends, outrageously blaming Hillary's failure on her gender:
Like it or not, many people associate Trump with strength—and they find it appealing. He knows that, too, which is partly why he loomed over Hillary during the October 2016 town hall-style debate. For at least some people, that menacing show of physical size made him appear the dominant candidate....  Recently, Sen. Cory Booker said his testosterone, “sometimes makes me want to feel like punching Trump.” Biden has said that he “would take Trump behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” Both men—probably to the eye rolls of many across the country—might try to out-muscle Trump on a debate stage. It’s also worth noting—no matter how unlikely a matchup—that at 6 foot 5, de Blasio would tower above Trump. (Watching the Republican debates, it seemed to me Jeb Bush’s height advantage unnerved Trump.)
Yeah, that worked out well for Jeb.

"For as long as Smith can remember, his mother, Barbara, was secretive, especially when it came to the cardboard box in the freezer."

"Talking about the box was considered a 'no-no conversation,' he told KSDK, and each time he asked about it, Barbara rebuffed him. 'Now I know why,' he told the Post-Dispatch. Despite not taking a peek all those [37] years, Smith’s curiosity got the better of him over the weekend when he was sorting through his [deceased] mother’s belongings... 'Even as she was on her deathbed, she never told me what was in that box'... Smith said... that he only recently found out from a relative that his mother had given birth to twins, but one was stillborn and the other was given up for adoption... It just dawned on him that for his 'whole life' he had eaten food from a freezer that possibly stored his 'frozen sister.'... 'Who absolutely keeps their own child in a box for this long?... I just have so many thoughts. It’s just insane.'"

From "His mother kept a cardboard box in the freezer for decades. Inside, he found a ‘mummified’ baby" (the #1 most-read article at WaPo right now).

ADDED: Why take this story to the press?

Judging Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, WaPo's fact-checker Glenn Kessler — instead of giving a Pinocchio rating — concludes "Readers have to view these proposals mostly as political messaging statements."

I'm reading "Bernie Sanders vs. Kamala Harris on taxes for Medicare-for-all." Here's the whole conclusion:
Readers have to view these proposals mostly as political messaging statements.

Sanders acknowledges that he will raise taxes on most Americans, but argues that all but the wealthy will experience a net gain in income. Harris is trying to one-up him by saying that she would not impose additional taxes on the middle class, even though Sanders’s pitch is exactly the opposite — that the middle class will experience higher incomes and lower health-care costs. She sidesteps the issue of whether most Americans should pay some kind of premium to get their health care, as they do currently under both Medicare and Obamacare.

Her proposal to impose a financial transactions tax would roughly make up for the lost revenue from not imposing premiums on people making less than $100,000 — but there could be gaping holes elsewhere.
You can see that doesn't say he's avoiding the usual Pinocchios (so, of course, there's no explanation of this deviation from the usual). Has Kessler ever before silently eschewed Pinocchios and substituted a line like "Readers have to view these proposals mostly as political messaging statements"?

I'm a reader, is he telling me what I "have" to do, what point of view I must take? And look at that weasel word: "mostly." Even if I accept his instruction and mostly think That's a political messaging statement, what about the rest of my thoughts? In that part, should I think Bernie and Kamala are somewhat shading the facts (1 Pinocchio), committing significant factual errors or obvious contradictions (2 or 3 Pinocchios), or telling whoppers (4 Pinocchios)? (See the fact checker's own description of the ratings here).

On my own, not following anyone's instructions, I already tend to view everything politicians say as "political messaging statements." So I wonder what's so special about Sanders and Harris that they emerge from a fact checking without experiencing judgment? We, the readers, are told that we shouldn't be so judgmental! Why am I slogging through a fact-checker column when it's perfectly easy to relegate everything candidates to the category "political messaging statements"? I could become the cynic who mutters "It's all politics!" It would save me a lot of time.

I checked the WaPo archive to see if Glenn Kessler had ever used the phrase "political messaging" before. He has not. This is a new exit route for him, it seems. I give it one Pinocchio. I don't know if he's favoring Harris and Sanders or if the straightforward answer is that no one can speak accurately about something as complex as restructuring the financing of health care.

But if the truth is the candidates can't do more than make political messaging statements, then a fact-checker, to be truthful, needs to say that these facts cannot be checked. Ah, but then you see the way in which Harris and Sanders deserve at least 1 Pinocchio: They're making statements about things they cannot know, offering assurances where there is, necessarily, insecurity.

July 29, 2019

At the Sun Corn Café...


... the conversation goes on long after sunset.

"[W]e are like a musician who faintly hears a melody deep within the mind, but not clearly enough to play it through."

Wrote the priest and ecologist Thomas Berry, quoted on the last page of "Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet," by Will Hunt, the audiobook of which I finished today. The audiobook I listened to just before that was also titled "Underground" — "Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche," by Haruki Murakami. That's what's known as a mildly interesting fact — 2 books with the same title, read in sequence. For balance, let me quote something from the last page of the Murakami "Underground": "Reality is created out of confusion and contradiction, and if you exclude those elements, you’re no longer talking about reality. You might think that—by following language and a logic that appears consistent—you’re able to exclude that aspect of reality, but it will always be lying in wait for you, ready to take its revenge."

"[T]he dawning of space tourism seems ignoble. NASA announced in June that it would rent out the International Space Station to private parties..."

"... for $35,000 a night per person, a pittance considering that any customer will have paid someone else tens of millions of dollars for the trip by rocket. A Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, has booked a putative voyage around the moon with Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. 'I will be heading to the moon,' he claims, 'just a little earlier than everyone else.' He’s calling it an art project. You might call it thrill-seeking for plutocrats. Looked at coolly, the moon doesn’t seem promising as a tourist destination. If it were on earth, no one would want to go there. I say leave it alone for a while. When we looked close up, we found barren sand, inanimate rock of indeterminate color, and no urgent reason to stay. The moon abides. It rules the firmament. Waning crescent, waxing gibbous, it raises the oceans and tugs at our thoughts. 'It still holds the key to madness,' E.B. White wrote fifty years ago, 'still controls the tides that lap on shores everywhere, still guards the lovers who kiss in every land under no banner but the sky.'"

So ends "Moon Fever" by James Gleick (in The NY Review of Books).