August 10, 2019

At the Yellow Flower Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy things all night.)

"How do you see a TV show 'by accident'?"

A theory...

So much better from r/PhilosophyMemes

"Don’t play games with me, kid," Joe Biden snapped at a young woman who'd asked him how many genders there are.

At first, he gave an answer: "At least 3." But then she asked him to name them. That's when he said, "Don’t play games with me, kid." And then he grabbed her by the arm, The NY Post reports.

It was a great one-two question combination, and according the Post, the questioner came from a right-wing student organization. How are candidates supposed to answer that "How many genders are there?"?

Was "at least 3" a clever try... or something that's obviously not going to work? You have to anticipate the "name them" follow-up, and then what do you say?

I'm picturing Joe stumbling along: There are at least 3 genders: male, female, and... what's the third one there? Let's see. Male, female and, let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops.

I adapted that from the stylings of Rick Perry in that awful debate in November 2011:

ADDED: I'll bet all the candidates have figured this out already, but I'll say it anyway. The right way to answer the "How many?" question is to decline to speak in numerical terms. Say something like, "I believe gender is a matter of individual feeling and expression and not something for politicians to talk about and count."

If you're going to plaster your car with bumper stickers, you'd better drive properly, or it's like you're arguing for the other side.

This car veered across a solid white line and cut sharply in front of us as the street diverged and he suddenly needed to be in our lane:


Note the taped over left tail-light, indicating he'd cut somebody else off even more sharply on some prior occasion. He proceeded to drive for blocks straddling the white line like that. When he finally committed to a lane, I took 2 pictures of him as we passed on the left. I won't put those pictures up. He was a very old guy, and I don't think he even noticed me photographing him, so the intended message that we didn't appreciate his driving never reached him.

The stickers include "Recall Walker," the blue fist shaped like the map of Wisconsin (oft seen during the anti-Walker protests), and various pro-union things.

"One boring day in September, a co-worker brushed her fingers against my bare forearm, and when I glanced up, she held my eye contact a fraction too long. A millisecond."

"In the time it took for me to blush, the entire world shifted, came into focus, brightened. She was a charismatic person in the workplace with an unofficial fan club. It wasn’t her masculine energy that attracted me. It was her ability to make any day fun, her intense brown eyes and my own strangling loneliness. Her attention was flattering. I was stunned that I had worked with her for a couple of years and not noticed our chemistry before. How could I have missed it? I had been boy-crazy in junior high and married to my husband exactly 20 years. I had never considered anything other than male partners. She became my work wife, in office terms, and then some. Though I considered myself straight, I crushed hard. The idea was in my head, and this woman was in my heart. My husband lived only in my house...."

From "Seduced, Then Scorned, by My Work Wife/With my husband checked out of our marriage, I found flirtation at the office. It didn’t go well" a NYT "Modern Love" column by Carrie Malinowski.

"At 76, [Joe Biden] has enviable sharpness and physical fitness. But at 76, there are limits. And somehow, at 73, Trump’s psychological sickness..."

"... gives him an edge: a gob-smacking drive to keep going and going and going, with no signs of flagging at all, and many signs of mania. Who in their 70s is crazy enough to keep up? Even as he claimed he was seeking healing and unity this week, Trump was still tweeting insults, filming a shameless campaign video, and comparing crowd sizes with Beto O’Rourke’s. The sheer sociopathic narcissism in the face of such grief and trauma beggars belief. But it sure makes Trump seem younger than he is."

Writes Andrew Sullivan in "Biden Knows How to Make the Moral Case Against Trump" (NY Magazine).

What if the secret to maintaining youthful vigor while getting old is mental illness?!

Finally, another chance to use my "charming bad logic" tag!

By the way, Sullivan indulges in fat-shaming:
If I were Biden, I’d [emphasize substantive policy issues].... But avoiding the lardaceous orange elephant in the room seems like a defensive dodge to me. It gives the impression of weakness. It cedes too much to Trump and normalizes him. It is not the relentless, epiphanous stare-down of Trump that a successful 2020 opponent needs to muster, and that so much of the country is yearning for. And it misses what is in fact the central issue in 2020: the unique danger this bitter bigot poses to this country’s liberal democracy and civil peace....
Vocabulary Lesson of the Day: Wow readers by adding endings to easily comprehensible nouns to achieve adjectival speed bumps. "Lard" can bulge expansively and metaphorically into "lardaceous," and "epiphany" will perversely resist sudden, intuitive perception as "epiphanous."
Biden... reminded us that in politics, words are acts, and they have consequences when uttered by a national leader: “The words of a president … can move markets. They can send our brave men and women to war. They can bring peace. They can calm a nation in turmoil. They can console and confront and comfort in times of tragedy … They can appeal to the better angels of our nature. But they can also unleash the deepest, darkest forces in this nation.” And this, Biden argues, is what Trump has done: tap that dark psychic force, in an act of malignant and nihilist narcissism.

Yes, Biden powerfully argued that Trump was an enabler of “white supremacy” in the sense understood by most people, and not the absurdly broad, new left definition that counts as a white supremacist nearly everyone not actively virtue-signaling on left Twitter....
So President Biden would deploy the super-power of presidential speech to get just precisely the right degree of racial critique into the mind of the people? That's very hard to believe. He's already fuzzed everything up badly. What is the right sense of "white supremacy" that's already understood by the people? I can see wanting to fend off  "the absurdly broad, new left definition" of "white supremacy," but I don't see precision or clarity in Biden's speech or in the mind of "most people." Sullivan insists that he sees it, but I find that incredible.
And although some of this might once have seemed like pabulum, in the Trump era, it comes off as fresh. There was even a nice line designed to get under Trump’s skin, ridiculing the listless condemnation of white supremacy Trump recited in the wake of the El Paso massacre: that “low-energy, vacant-eyed mouthing of the words written for him condemning white supremacists this week.”
Biden really said that? I guess he, ironically, was mouthing words written for him. Let's see how that looked and sounded:

He's trading in deep deceit and purporting to stand on the high ground. What a nauseating fraud!
And more importantly, Biden was able to express all this with authority.... 
Lying and race-baiting — with authority. That is the Biden campaign. He's doubled-down and committed. And we're supposed to see that as the antidote to the poison of Trump?
I’ve never been a huge fan of the logorrheic, egotistical grandstanding Biden sometimes engages in; I don’t agree with him on some issues; his treatment of Anita Hill was disgracefully off-key. But I have never doubted Biden’s core decency. Maybe I have a soft spot for a well-meaning Irish-uncle type. 
What if all you wanted for President was a "well-meaning Irish-uncle type"? Frankly, I don't know what an "Irish-uncle type" is and this use of ethnicity to describe an individual's personality traits makes me want to go "all absurdly broad, new-left" style and say that this too is white supremacy.

Epstein dead!

ADDED: Is it really suicide? NYT:
Jeffrey Epstein Commits Suicide at Manhattan Jail

Mr. Epstein, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, hung himself and his body was found this morning.
AND: This happens as new information hits: "Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Names Powerful Men in Alleged Sex Ring/In newly unsealed documents, Virginia Giuffre claims that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell trafficked her to politicians, princes, and a high-flying financier, among others" (Daily Beast):
Virginia Giuffre, who says that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to powerful people for erotic massages and sex, claimed in depositions in 2016 that Maxwell directed her to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Britain’s Prince Andrew (whom she has accused before), wealthy financier Glenn Dubin, former senator George Mitchell, now-deceased MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, and modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, as well as “another prince,” a "foreign president," a well-known prime minsiter" and the owner of a “large hotel chain” in France.
ALSO: Back on July 24th, there was news of a suicide attempt by Epstein. I was dubious at the time. With a recent suicide attempt — by hanging, too — how was he kept in a way that would allow him to kill himself by hanging? He was so important as a person with knowledge of possible crimes by many other people — such important people — the government had an especially strong obligation to keep him alive.

PLUS: Who will believe this was truly suicide? The conspiracy theories will go on forever. This is like Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. Even if Epstein directly sought and achieved his own death, the authorities apparently KNEW that he wanted to kill himself and therefore they caused the death by not stopping it. They were on notice and they let him do it. I infer they wanted him dead and got what they wanted, whether he killed himself or not.


AND: I'm checking out the hashtags on Twitter, and what I'm seeing is the political weaponization of the Epstein death. Some people are jumping to blame the Clintons, and anything that seems like conspiracy thinking is already triggering observations that you're a nutcase.

Helter skelter in the cathedral.

"For such a place, steeped in mystery and marvel to buy in to sensory pleasure and distraction, is to poison the very medicine it offers the human soul," said The Right Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to the Queen, quoted in "Norwich Cathedral helter skelter 'is a mistake'" (BBC).

"The central aisle of Rochester Cathedral has also been converted into a crazy golf course..."

1. I already knew a "helter skelter" was some kind of British ride (which is why The Beatles sang, "When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide/Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride/Till I get to the bottom and I see you again!").

2. But I didn't know precisely what the ride was. I'd thought maybe something like Tilt-a-Whirl. But no, it's exactly the thing you see in the first video above, a slide wrapped around a tower.

3. The word "helter-skelter" dates back to 1593. The OED quotes T. Nashe Strange Newes: "Helter skelter, feare no colours, course him, trounce him." The definition is: "In disordered haste; confusedly, tumultuously, pell-mell." The word started meaning "A tower-like structure used in fun fairs and pleasure-grounds, with an external spiral passage for sliding down on a mat" in 1906, with "The World's Manufacturing Company, examples of whose ‘helter-skelter’ lighthouses are at Earl's Court, Blackpool, Southport, and other places."

4. We could go down the language rathole with "fun fairs"? "Pleasure-grounds"? The British have their own language, don't they?

5. Which brings up "crazy golf." That's British for miniature golf.

6. Or are you still wondering what was the "Strange Newes" in 1593? Wikipedia tells us that Thomas Nashe was "an Elizabethan playwright, poet, satirist and a significant pamphleteer." He was friends with Robert Greene who is famous for "Greene's Groats-Worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance," an attack on William Shakespeare. Greene had made fun of the writer Richard Harvey in "A Quip for an Upstart Courtier," and that inspired Harvey to make fun when Greene died. Nashe's "Strange News" is some sort of response. Here's the full text. Kind of complicated, so I'll just give you an easy example of Nashe's poetry:
"Unhappyie me," quoth she, "and wilt not stand?
Com, let me rubb and chafe it with my hand!"
7. When I went to to get the lyrics for The Beatles' "Helter-Skelter" it looked like this:

Shirley Manson is a Scottish singer — whom you might know as the lead singer for Garbage. Manson is her name by birth, so there should be no association with the murderous Charles Manson. It's not like Marilyn Manson, which is a stage name and an intentional reference to the evil man. What strange advertising decision or algorithm put the ad for Shirley Manson on "Helter Skelter" lyrics page?

8. Here's what Wikipedia has at "Helter Skelter/Charles Manson interpretation": "Charles Manson told his followers that several White Album songs, particularly 'Helter Skelter,' were part of the Beatles' coded prophecy of an apocalyptic war in which racist and non-racist whites would be manoeuvred into virtually exterminating each other over the treatment of blacks. Upon the war's conclusion, after black militants had killed off the few whites that had survived, Manson and his 'Family' of followers would emerge from an underground city in which they would have escaped the conflict. As the only remaining whites, they would rule blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running the United States. Manson employed 'Helter Skelter' as the term for this sequence of events. In his interpretation, the lyrics of the Beatles' 'Helter Skelter' described the moment when he and the Family would emerge from their hiding place – a disused mine shaft in the desert outside Los Angeles." "Healter Skelter" was written (misspelled like that) in blood at the scene of the LaBianca murders. Manson wanted John Lennon to testify at his trial. John Lennon, years later, said: "All that Manson stuff was built around George's song about pigs ['Piggies'] and this one, Paul's song about an English fairground. It has nothing to do with anything, and least of all to do with me."

9. I've been avoiding all the stories about the 50th anniversary of the Manson murders which just could not avoid getting written this month. It took that helter skelter in the cathedral to get me here.

10. A cathedral has to do with a long-ago murder... or should I say attempted murder? Or will you say an execution is not a murder, whatever the circumstances?

11. Should there be fairground amusements inside a cathedral? Is it a sacrilege? One could argue that all the amazements and decorations of a traditional cathedral are themselves sacrilege and that if you don't think they are, you ought to accept the addition of other wonderful marvels to attract and grab hold of people. Or maybe that's precisely why you should object: Don't mix marvels! Keep the religious wonders separate from worldly tricks...

12. ... unless your aim is to knock religion down to earth.

August 9, 2019



I'm not intrigued by any news stories this morning. It seems the papers are full of non-news. Did Biden make a gaffe? Did Trump draw attention to himself? Is the news on vacation?

Crossword constructing.

"Promise Rings and Immigrant 'Invasions': How Evangelical Purity Culture Helps Explain Trumpism."

Headline at Vanity Fair for an article by Jill Filipovic.

Subheadline: "My virginity-until-marriage pledge was based on the premise that if you don’t know any better, you’ll never want anything more. Similarly, adherents to Trumpism would rather know less, and risk stagnation and decline, than come into contact with information that complicates their view of America."

Excerpt: "Making America great again and forgoing kissing for courtship both promise an easy route to a glorified past. Both come from a fear of the unknown, an aversion to new experiences, a deep disgust at a perceived other attaining equal footing....  Much has rightly been written about the racism at the heart of Trumpism.... But I also hear the same fear that echoed in the anti-experimentation, anti-sex warnings repeated to me as an adolescent.... I took off my promise ring because not long after I got it, it became clear to me that the primary beneficiaries of these rules were men.... Purity proponents, like Team Love It or Leave It, assuage their fears with a demand that everyone else keep their life small..."

"Erm, something's really wrong with these McDonald's Japan cups."

You'll have to click through to Mashable.

Finally another use for my "accidental imagery" tag! It's been almost 4 years!

Just happened...

By the way, $7 really is the perfect price for lemonade. You have to get the pricing right. Most people won't buy $7 lemonade, but that's not the point. You're not really selling lemonade. Who wants the liquid that random children have in a vat? And that's the point: You're selling the opportunity to demonstrate belief in the goodness of children. And for those who are buying, it's got to cost $10, i.e., the $7 list price plus the $3 topping up for the added boost of the joy of showing the kids that you don't expect them to step down from their dreams and engage in the grubby business of making change. Indeed, if you are a politician, it's a great conversation opener. Hand the kids a 10 and say: I don't need change. It's you who need change. And when I am President, you are going to see change.

"One of her abortions was 'this profound sense of liberation, a profound sense of My life has come back tenfold... It was sort of a revelatory, peak moment...'"

"... or peak experience, of life. That’s what an abortion can be if it’s well supported.'"

From "New Madison group offers 'abortion doulas,' supports pregnancy options" (Wisconsin State Journal).
The group — known as Pregnancy Options Wisconsin: Education, Resources and Support, or POWERS — includes a dozen doctors, nurses, midwives, activists and doulas, which are best known for providing emotional and physical comfort during births....

“We have no agenda. It is just what that person calling needs it to be,” [nurse midwife Ingrid] Andersson said. “Personally, what almost all of us do for a living is more birth-related, whether it’s doula, midwifery or doctor work.”

August 8, 2019

At the Thursday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"It is rare for Trump to express regret or admit mistakes. But he said his brother’s short, tragic life scarred him like no other event..."

"... and he said he remains haunted by watching Fred Jr.’s handsome features fade.... Freddy, as everyone called him, was the firstborn son, so he was given the name of his father. His friends said in interviews that he was the opposite of Donald Trump — soft-spoken, playful, and often joking.... Fred Jr. saw flying as an honorable profession, his friends said. He applied to be trained as a pilot for TWA and passed a rigorous set of requirements to enroll in a 1964 class of about a dozen students. He flew for a number of months as a secondary pilot. 'What he loved doing was flying airplanes,' Donald Trump said. 'I remember being at the house and other pilots from TWA would come to the house and they’d come to work with Fred because he was a very natural talent.' Three pilots who trained with Fred Jr. said in interviews that they saw signs of his alcoholism emerging. The pilots said they didn’t know anything about the pressure Trump was under from his family to join the business, but they said he clearly was under stress that he could not handle.... [O]ne of Fred Jr.’s friends, Annamaria Forcier, who as a teenager in 1958 moved to the Queens neighborhood where the Trump family lived, thought Fred Jr. left TWA because of the pressure from the family. 'My impression of it was that he was basically forced to go work for the family firm,' she said. 'There was a lot of tension between not only the old man but also between him and Donald. There was a lot of tension because they didn’t want him to be an airline pilot.'"

From "Trump pressured his alcoholic brother about his career. Now he has regrets" by Michael Kranish (WaPo). Donald Trump is quoted saying to his brother, “Come on, Freddy, what are you doing? You’re wasting your time." And we're told that their father, Fred Sr., said that to be an airline pilot is to be "a chauffeur in the sky."

"Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black people..."

"... they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause. The comfort of being 'naturally better than,' of not having to struggle or demand civil treatment, is hard to give up. The confidence that you will not be watched in a department store, that you are the preferred customer in high-end restaurants—these social inflections, belonging to whiteness, are greedily relished. So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble."

Wrote Toni Morrison in "Making America White Again/The choices made by white men, who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status," originally published in the the November 21, 2016, issue if The New Yorker, in a collection of pieces titled "Aftermath: Sixteen Writers on Trump’s America" and featured today on the front page of the magazine's website. Morrison died on August 5th.

"[T]aking social photos changes the way vision works—a process that began with the advent of cameras and is still evolving today. Teen-agers are cyborgs..."

"... and their phones are mechanical eyes that help them interpret their experience. 'To document,' Jurgenson writes, 'is to be involved with our own experience instead of passively letting it float by.' On this subject, Jurgenson has all the right, if somewhat dutiful, opinions: nostalgia is overrated, but he’s not into 'digital austerity.' We shouldn’t hark back to an era in which we were less attached to technology—mostly because that era doesn’t exist. 'Our reality has always been already mediated, augmented, documented,' he writes, 'and there’s no access to some state of unmediated purity.'.... For him, the risk of constant documentation is alienation: a sense that our bodies are generating still moments rather than constant movement. He cites Wolfgang Schivelbusch, a German scholar who wrote about the effect of the railway on human perception. With its speed and glass windows, 'the train flattens nature into something smooth and predictable, not something traveled within but something easily seen and consumed,' Jurgenson writes. 'As more of life is experienced through camera screens, does it occur at a similar remove, where the messiness of lived experience is made into something merely observable?'"

From "How Social Media Shapes Our Identity/The Internet constantly confronts us with evidence of our past. Are we losing the chance to remake ourselves?" by Nausicaa Renner (in The New Yorker). "Jurgenson" is Nathan Jurgenson, author of "The Social Photo/On Photography and Social Media."

A distinctive moment of sunlight.

Just now:


For those of you who couldn't see the spider in last night's café...


From the comments in last night's Picnic Spider Café: "I didn't see any spiders, but I'm sure they're in there somewhere...."

(Not positive it's a spider. I count 4 legs on one side and 2 on the other. That adds up to 6 so...)

"I saw some geezer shouting into Pete’s microphone, saying we were a load of crap, which got up all our noses."

"Then I saw Pete come up — I’m not sure whether he hit Abbie Hoffman with the guitar, I think he pretended to hit him. Pete yelled, 'Do it again and I’ll kill you.' He wouldn’t have recovered if Pete had hit him on the head with a Gibson guitar. And Pete was never tried for murder, so I gather he didn’t actually do it. It was a kind of a stunt move.... Woodstock wasn’t peace and love. There was an awful lot of shouting and screaming going on. By the time it all ended, the worst sides of our nature had come out. People were screaming at the promoters, people were screaming to get paid. We had to get paid, or we couldn’t get back home."

Said Roger Daltrey, quoted in "WOODSTOCK AT 50/The Who’s Roger Daltrey Is Not Nostalgic for Woodstock/The singer remembers the endless waiting and how 'the worst sides of our nature had come out'/(But also how great Creedence Clearwater Revival was" (NYT).

There's no film footage of Abbie Hoffman barging onto the stage with The Who (who were famously terrible at Woodstock, playing at 5 in the morning), and the NYT tells us Hoffman said "that the focus shouldn’t be on music, but on the MC5 manager John Sinclair, who was in prison on a minor marijuana charge." But there is a sound recording, and it's possible to give a verbatim quote. I'll transcribe for you: "I think it's a pile of shit, while John Sinclair rots in prison." That's as far as Hoffman gets, before Pete Townshend does whatever he does, and the big crowd cheers.

Here's what Hoffman wrote about it in his autobiography:

"The Scary Proposition That Trump Is Gradually Becoming More Popular."

Headline at NY Magazine.

From the article by Ed Kilgore:
[F]ormidable number cruncher Nate Cohn... calls attention to something most of us have ignored since Trump took office: the president’s personal favorability ratings.... "Millions of Americans who did not like the president in 2016 now say they do. Over all, his personal favorability rating has increased by about 10 percentage points among registered voters since Election Day 2016, to 44 percent from 34 percent...."...

Cohn acknowledges that the odds are pretty good Democrats will nominate a more popular opponent for Trump than Hillary Clinton was in 2016, though nobody knows how she or he will compare to the president in personal favorability. I think it’s pretty important to remember that Trump won among the 18 percent of the electorate who disliked both candidates by a robust 47/30 margin....

From a longer perspective, my guess is that the narrow band of favorability and job approval numbers for Trump is just another testament to the partisan polarization that made it possible for him to win in 2016, despite his unpopularity.... 
ADDED: Another scary thing about Trump in NY Magazine: "The Owner of SoulCycle and Equinox Is Throwing a Fancy Trump Fundraiser." I find that especially funny. If you were relying on riding a stationary bike to meet the needs of something you like to think of as a soul, you deserve disillusionment.

I thought that picture would help understand the problem under discussion here. I clicked to that from "The Owner of SoulCycle and Equinox Is Throwing a Fancy Trump Fundraiser." It's an ad for Equinox that predates Trump's election, an ad discussed at "See Steven Klein’s Muscly, Freaky Fitness Ads," a New York Magazine article from January 2016. Doesn't it eerily presage the nation's "white supremacy" fetish?

"Trump offers no moral leadership, seems to have no interest in unifying this nation. No evidence that the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least."

"Indeed, we have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism and division."

Said Joe Biden, yesterday, quoted at The Hill, where I'm also seeing these responses from Trump:

1. "Watching Sleepy Joe Biden making a speech. Sooo Boring! The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy. It will be over for them, not to mention the fact that our Country will do poorly with him. It will be one big crash, but at least China will be happy!"

2. "My critics are political people. They’re trying to make points. In many cases, they’re running for president and they’re very low in the polls."

To summarize: Biden looked for moral leadership and Trump said, hey, think about ratings, think about polls.

ADDED: In one way, Trump reinforced Biden's point. Trump isn't about finding what is true and good and leading the people to a higher ground. Trump is about entertainment. What's good TV? What polls well?

And that shows how, in another way, Trump undermines the idea that Trump is about "hate, racism and division." Trump is being exciting and interesting and entertaining. He's reacting to the response — positive and negative — that he gets from the crowds and from media and continually reprocessing the material to keep people interested and excited.

If it's hate, racism, and division — or something some people hear or pretend to hear as hate, racism, and division — it's because that's what he's learned excites and interests and entertains. He tries moral leadership too, but that's not heard and amplified. Not good ratings.

"For as long as the internet has been around, the story of media has been one of fragmentation and atomization."

"Thanks to all these new formats, new business models, and new distribution technologies, we’ve been drowning in an unprecedented level of choice in movies, music, TV shows, books and, especially, sources of news. As a result, everything is personalized and polarized — we’re all split into social-media-selected tribes, where our consumption of news and culture feels constantly shaped by a privacy-invading algorithmic determination of one’s innermost sense and sensibility. And yet, in the last few years, something counterintuitive has been happening with mass media: It’s been getting more mass.... Across the cultural industries, blockbusters are getting blockbustier: Despite the barrage of choice, more of us are enjoying more of the same songs, movies and TV shows. We are not nearly as siloed as we tend to think we are.... While the internet has made a mess of our politics, it’s starting to do something remarkable for our culture businesses...."

Writes Farhad Manjoo in "This Summer Stinks. But at Least We’ve Got 'Old Town Road'/Lil Nas X’s smash single shows how digital media is creating a shared global culture in an otherwise atomized age" (NYT).

Do you agree with that — the internet has made a mess of our politics, but it's doing something remarkable for our culture businesses? I'd say, first of all, the "more" in "more of us are enjoying more of the same" is less when you're looking at songs, movies, and TV shows than it is when you're talking about politics. The same song has been #1 since last March, but what percentage of Americans love it enough to enjoy seeing it maintain this conspicuousness? Probably less than the number that loves having Donald Trump as President.

Politics involves much more consensus, fine-tuning the same issues. Substantively, it's boring. And yet it's required. Whether you participate or not, the power that will be exercised will be over you too. Music and movies and TV can be completely fragmented, and you can pay attention to anything you want and ignore whatever you want, and the effect, if any, is diffuse and mostly indirect. When we come together at all over a song/movie/TV show it feels special. It feels like unity. But it was entirely voluntary and we're free to disperse at will. And that seeming unity wasn't even a majority. Politics demands that we come together, en masse, over and over, about dealing with problems that — unlike songs — don't have an off switch.

August 7, 2019

At the Picnic Spider Café...

Picnic Point

... you can lurk...

Picnic Point

... or talk all night.

(And don't forget the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy whatever you want.)

"Tourists have been spooked by the realization that one passenger’s share of the exhaust from a single flight can cancel out a year’s worth of Earth-friendly efforts...."

"The newly coined concept of flygskam, or 'flight shame,' has turned some Swedes bashful about their globe-trotting. A guerrilla campaign used Instagram to tally the planet-busting travels of top Swedish celebrities. Next door in Norway, meanwhile, the prime minister felt the need to assure citizens that they need not apologize for flying to see family in the high north."

From "Europe’s flight-shame movement has travelers taking trains to save the planet" (WaPo).

I like that there's a word, flygskam. I already knew there was a word in German, Flugscham. I saw that in "The Problem With Greta Thunberg’s Climate Activism/Her radical approach is at odds with democracy" (NYT, August 2):
In Germany the word “Flugscham” is one of the last year’s more interesting coinages. It means not fear of flying but shame of flying, and of the pollution it brings about. The German economist Niko Paech urges shaming people for booking cruises and driving S.U.V.s, too.
These are fascinating words, and I do think we need to be circumspect about the effect of travel on the environment, but I'm concerned about the increasing role of shame in our culture. Have we become a "shame society"?
In cultural anthropology, the distinction between a guilt society (or guilt culture), shame society (also shame culture or honor-shame culture), and a fear society (or culture of fear) has been used to categorize different cultures. ...
  • In a guilt society, control is maintained by creating and continually reinforcing the feeling of guilt (and the expectation of punishment now or in the afterlife) for certain condemned behaviors. The guilt-innocence world view focuses on law and punishment. A person in this type of culture may ask, "Is my behavior fair or unfair?" This type of culture also emphasizes individual conscience.
  • In a shame society, the means of control is the inculcation of shame and the complementary threat of ostracism. The shame-honor worldview seeks an "honor balance" and can lead to revenge dynamics. A person in this type of culture may ask, "Shall I look ashamed if I do X?" or "How people will look at me if I do Y?" Shame cultures are typically based on the concepts of pride and honour, and appearances are what count.
  • In a fear society, control is kept by the fear of retribution. Fear-Power worldview focuses on physical dominance. A person in this culture may ask, "Will someone hurt me if I do this?"...
  • Guilt-Innocence: more associated with Islam, Christianity and Judaism
  • Shame-Honour: more associated with Eastern religions
  • Fear-Power: more associated with animist and tribal societies

"Here is a fact rarely, if ever, mentioned: 26 of the 50 states set their all-time high temperature records during the 1930s that still stand (some have since been tied)."

"And an additional 11 state all-time high temperature records were set before 1930 and only two states have all-time record high temperatures that were set in the 21st century (South Dakota and South Carolina). So 37 of the 50 states have an all-time high temperature record not exceeded for more than 75 years. Given these numbers and the decreased frequency of days of 100 degrees or higher, it cannot be said that either the frequency or magnitude of heat waves are more common today."

From "Throwing cold water on extreme heat hype" by Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather Founder and CEO (at AccuWeather).

"Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement - & be quiet!"

Tweeted Trump late last night.

He was reacting to something Beto O'Rourke said, that Trump should not visit El Paso: "He helped to create what we saw in El Paso on Saturday. He's helped to produce the suffering that we are experiencing right now. This community needs to heal."

And here's Beto's Instagrammed proof that "Beto" is not a phony name (found via WaPo, at "‘Be quiet!’: Trump claims Beto O’Rourke uses a ‘phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage’"):

"'Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism,' was the correct description in the first headline by the Failing New York Times, but it was quickly changed to, 'Assailing Hate But Not Guns'..."

"... after the Radical Left Democrats went absolutely CRAZY! Fake News - That’s what we’re up against... 'This is an astounding development in journalism. I’ve never seen it happen before, I’ve just never seen anything like this! Is that journalism today? I don’t think so!' Mark Penn, Former Clinton Advisor.
@TuckerCarlson After 3 years I almost got a good headline from the Times!"

Tweeted Trump this morning.

We talked about the NYT headline switcheroo yesterday, here.

Here's some discussion of the topic in the Columbia Journalism Review, "Times public editor: The readers versus the masthead":
[R]eader expectations of the Times have shifted after the election of President Trump. The paper... saw a huge surge of subscriptions in the days and months after the 2016 election... The Times has since embraced these new subscribers in glitzy commercials with slogans like “The truth is more important now than ever.” Yet there is a glaring disconnect between those energized readers and many Times staffers, especially newspaper veterans. [Executive Editor Dean] Baquet doesn’t see himself as the vanguard of the resistance... He acknowledges that people may have a different view of what the Times is, but he doesn’t blame the marketing. “It’s not because of the ads; it’s because Donald Trump has stirred up very powerful feelings among Americans. It’s made Americans, depending on your point of view, very angry and very mistrustful of institutions. And some may think newsrooms like the New York Times and the Washington Post are supposed to be Donald Trump’s adversaries or the leaders of the adversarial movement to take down Donald Trump.... I think it’s healthy for each generation to come in and discuss what the rules are. You have to accept that there’s something at the core of the New York Times and the Washington Post that won’t change, but there’s a lot that can change at the edges.”

"I’m trying not to offend anybody. I did it for the purpose of being happy, being positive, and I think it’s cute and quirky and kind of funny, and certainly was a time for the emoji."

Said Kathryn Kidd, quoted in "'Emoji house’ feud erupts as frustrated residents urge Manhattan Beach to take action" (LA Times). Kidd had her house painted as you see below after she was reported by a neighbor for using the house as an AirBnB and fined $4,000.

The Instagrammer, Z the Art, did the painting. Now, neighbors have reported the paint job and are seeking action from the city, which seems cowed by the notion that Kidd has a free-speech right to paint her house like that. I'd need to know if there's some generally applicable law about murals to have an opinion about that.

One of the neighbors, Chris Strickfaden, is quoted saying:
“Besides the obvious ugliness — and no one believes this is just artistic expression — it has now become a traffic nuisance issue with people stopping by to take selfies in front of the emoji house. It’s nuts... I believe generally people should be able to do what they want with their property within the guidelines of the city, without governmental interference, including painting their exterior. However, this situation is not about the right of the homeowner. It’s about one homeowner saying F-U to the person she blames for her plight and F-U to the rest of the street.”
I wonder what he means by "just artistic expression." If you're expressing hostility, it's not artistic?! To single out the "fuck you" expression is viewpoint discrimination.

"Warren agrees that her belief in Socratic dialogue informs how she instinctively engages with people professionally."

"In part, she said, Socratic teaching is about that back-and-forth, a breaking down of ideas and examining them from all angles. So when she and her policy team began discussing a wealth tax, she said, 'I kept taking the side of the opposition: Wouldn’t this create a problem? … We’re pulling it apart to stress-test it, see if it would work.'... One of Warren’s former students who declined to be named had a theory about the seeming paradox of a woman known as a bold political progressive adhering to an old-fashioned, rule-bound approach to teaching. It reminded him, he said, of Thurgood Marshall, who was known for being punctilious about civil procedure even as he broke revolutionary ground on civil rights. This student talked about how Marshall understood that rules could be used to enforce equality, and that as soon as you introduced flexibility and discretion, those with more power would take advantage of the wiggle room. Regulations, calling every name in a classroom, could serve as a set of guide rails, a system it would be harder to take advantage of. It’s easy to see how Warren’s fondness for just this kind of formal system jibes with her view of regulations in the financial industry. It is also true that teachers love rules.... It’s true that people may resent teachers. It’s also true that people are primed to resent teachers, because they resent women who might wield power over them, and it is still new and uncomfortable to think about women having political — presidential! — power. And yet: People who have had great teachers love them in ways that are intense and alchemical and irrational and sometimes difficult to convey — which is also, oddly enough, how some people love the politicians they believe in and choose to fight for."

From "Elizabeth Warren’s Classroom Strategy A lifelong teacher, she’s the most professorial presidential candidate ever. But does America want to be taught?" by Rebecca Traister" (The Cut).

The "30-50 feral hogs" guy.

Via "The '30–50 Feral Hogs' Guy Actually Had a Point" (Slate).
The tweet was an immediate sensation. Someone made a video game (“Protect your 2 children from 30-50 feral hogs within a 3-5 mins time limit“), Slate published a feral hog–themed riff on a classic short story, and feral hogs trended on Twitter. The tweet was wonderfully specific, and the image it conjured was absurd on its face. Making feral hog jokes became a welcome respite from days of mourning mass shootings and arguing about their causes online.

But there was one question that few people thought to ask: What if feral hog guy was right?...
If you too enjoyed the "wonderfully specific" writing of William McNabb, let me recommend the subreddit r/suspiciouslyspecific.

"This style—let’s call it 'Faulknerian,' after its other Nobel-winning master—is heady and clause-dense."

"Long associated with the South, Faulkner’s great theme, it eddies and circles, with an often maddening indirection. The Faulknerian style’s weakest imitators simply view it as a license to slather adjectives and metaphors all over the page. Morrison, who hated seeing her fiction described as 'lyrical' or 'poetic,' had a deeper understanding of Faulkner’s stratagems. In her Paris Review interview (a must for any appreciator of Morrison’s genius), she delivers a brilliant dissection of Absalom, Absalom, a novel that fascinated her: Faulkner, she says, 'spends the entire book tracing race and you can’t find it. No one can see it, even the character who is black can’t see it. … Do you know how hard it is to withhold that kind of information but hinting, pointing all of the time? … So the structure is the argument.' The elliptical nature of Faulkner’s style epitomizes the paralyzed condition of Southern culture: Everything in it gestures toward the one thing it can’t bring itself to talk about. This paradox gives Faulkner’s fiction its power, but for any writer seeking to follow in his footsteps, it leads to a dead end."

From an article at Slate by Laura Miller that I clicked on because of the teaser "How Toni Morrison’s Revolutionary Novels Broke Open American Literature." I wondered what this "breaking open" consisted of. For these words to make sense it would need to be that many other writers followed along. The headline at the article is more modest "Toni Morrison Reshaped the Landscape of Literature/Her novels made moves that no other novelist, black or white, attempted." There's no revolution, no breaking open, no implication that other writers followed on, only that she did something alone. She reshaped, she didn't break. And it's not a military metaphor — revolution. It's a landscape. From front page to inside page, it seems we moved from masculine to feminine. Is that analogous to the difference between Faulkner and Morrison?

Let me read the thing I would not have read without that overheated teaser. Okay. I read it. There's no mention of other writers! I see no argument that Morrison reshaped the literary landscape (or led a revolution). All I'm seeing here is that Morrison put some things on the surface that Faulker "pushed below the surface."

"Moral clarity, these days, it means a lot less than I would like it to mean."

Said Jia Tolentino on "Fresh Air" yesterday. Here's the context:
We will have a mass shooting in America and people will get online and express their very true anguish, and people express their anger and their righteousness, and this formidable undeniable moral narratives [sic] about how children should not be dying in the U.S. like this — and then nothing happens.

And so the gun control debate is just a continual reminder to me: An opinion doesn't necessarily translate to action. Moral clarity, these days, it means a lot less than I would like it to mean. ... 
But there's nothing formidable about the "moral narratives" that "children should not be dying in the U.S. like this." It's "undeniable," but that's because everyone already agrees with the obvious truth that mass murder is bad. It's obtuse to speak of "moral clarity" about something that's isn't the slightest bit susceptible to unclarity.

What Tolentino is unclear about is the distinction between problems and solutions. Indeed, she is expressing this unclarity with anger and righteousness. It's a dangerous bait and switch. There is clarity and energy about the problem — mass murder is evil — and Tolentino (and others) attempt to appropriate that feeling and transfer it into action to adopt a particular solution. But there is still unclarity about the solution, and you can't dispel unclarity by mixing it with clarity. You can only trick people into thinking what was unclear became clear.

Here, quick, drink this glass of pond water. I just ran some tap water into it.

And you wonder why people don't act. I think they don't act because they've got the experience and presence of mind to see where the clarity is and where it isn't.

August 6, 2019

At the Road Ahead Café...


... keep the conversation going.

"Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate who transfigured American literature, dies at 88."

WaPo reports.
“The Bluest Eye” (1970), Ms. Morrison’s debut novel, was published as she approached her 40th birthday, and it became an enduring classic. It centered on Pecola Breedlove, a poor black girl of 11 who is disconsolate at what she perceives as her ugliness. Ms. Morrison said that she wrote the book because she had encountered no other one like it — a story that delved into the life of a child so infected by racism that she had come to loathe herself.

“She had seen this little girl all of her life,” reads a description of Pecola. “Hair uncombed, dresses falling apart, shoes untied and caked with dirt. They had stared at her with great uncomprehending eyes. Eyes that questioned nothing and asked everything. Unblinking and unabashed, they stared up at her. The end of the world lay in their eyes, and the beginning, and all the waste in between.”

"A neo-Nazi website took credit for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s (D-HI) qualification for the first two Democratic primary debates."

"The Daily Stormer, a notorious white supremacist and antisemitic website, proclaimed in April 'we did it' — after the Hawaii congresswoman reached the 65,000 donor threshold needed to participate in the first two debates."

Jewish Insider reports.
The website said it had promoted Gabbard to “make the Jews go nuts” and “trigger the kikes.” Although it did not explicitly support Gabbard’s candidacy, the site said her participation in the debate was an opportunity to “talk about Jews starting all the wars.”

"@sundarpichai of Google was in the Oval Office working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing..."

"... that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election, and that they are NOT planning to illegally subvert the 2020 Election despite all that has been said to the contrary. It all sounded good until I watched Kevin Cernekee, a Google engineer, say terrible things about what they did in 2016 and that they want to 'Make sure that Trump losses in 2020.' Lou Dobbs stated that this is a fraud on the American public. @peterschweizer stated with certainty that they suppressed negative stories on Hillary Clinton, and boosted negative stories on Donald Ttump. All very illegal. We are watching Google very closely!"

Tweeted Donald Trump (AKA "Ttump") this morning.

ADDED: "Donald Ttump" is trending on Twitter. Some are laughing at Trump for being so stupid he can't spell his own name, but of course, the mistake tends to absolve him of stupidity for all the other misspellings. This one is clearly a typo. He's a guy who doesn't fuss over the proofreading. It may even be intentional. It's such a silly distraction — "Ttump." Ttump ttump ttump ttuh ttuh tuh ttump. I hear this tune.

By the way, I often typo my own last name. The familiarity itself seems to cause the glitch.

"Computerized Solitaire 'Addiction': Fact Or Fiction?/Can excessive Solitaire playing be addictive?"

A new article in Psychology Today.

Before you read that, please take my survey:

Do you play solitaire on your computer or digital device? free polls

From the article (by Mark D. Griffiths):
[A]ddictions rely on constant rewards (what psychologists refer to as reinforcement) and each game of Solitaire can be played quickly and individuals can be quickly rewarded if they win (positive reinforcement) but when they lose, the feeling of disappointment or cognitive regret can be eliminated by playing again straight away (negative reinforcement – playing as a way to relieve a dysphoric mood state). I also stated that addictions typically result in a coping mechanism to other things in a person’s life. They use such behaviours as a way of escape and the repetitive playing of games can help in such circumstances....
Griffiths says you'd need to meet all of the following criteria to be considered addicted to Solitaire (and I'd be very surprised that even if you play Solitaire a weird amount of the time, you won't even meet the first criterion):

The NYT changes a headline.

ADDED: I'm not sure I understand the headline "Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism." I see 2 interpretations.

One would be clearly expressed if the "vs." were translated into English and written as the word "against." (Many judges and law professors say the names of cases with the "v." changed to the word "against.")  If it's "Trump Urges Unity Against Racism," then Trump's idea is that we should unite to oppose racism. That's respectful and supportive toward Trump.

But because I expect hostility toward Trump, I'm not sure the headline doesn't mean that Trump is urging 2 ideas — unity and racism — and these ideas are in conflict with each other.

To use parenthesis as in a math equation: Trump Urges (Unity vs. Racism).

That is, unity is in an endless struggle with racism, and Trump pushes this struggle upon us, and he's a big troublemaker, jerking us around by rooting for unity some of the time and at other times rooting for racism.

BUT: I don't want to be confusing about what Nate Silver is highlighting, which is the editorial opinion shoehorned into a news headline. What Trump talked about is the news and that's what the headline should say. There's an infinite number of things that Trump didn't talk about, and headlines shouldn't report what didn't happen. The choice to put one thing that didn't happen in a headline — embracing gun control — turns it from news into opinion. The necessary implication is that he ought to have embraced gun control.

CORRECTION: When I wrote all of the above, I believed that "Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism" was the second headline! Silver thinks "Assailing Hate But Not Guns" is an improvement. Well, it's more clearly written. That is true.

ALSO: I saw on Twitter that #CancelNYT was trending. It was a reaction to the first headline, "Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism." And the NYT apparently changed the headline to appease people who expected a better demonstration of hostility toward Trump.

"The man who killed nine and injured 27 in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, was the lead singer of a 'pornogrind' metal band..."

"... a genre defined by its explicit subject matter and themes of gore and violence, specifically sexual violence and necrophilia," BuzzFeed News reports.
The band's song titles are explicitly sexually violent, such as "Preteen Daughter Pu$$y Slaughter" and "Cunt Stuffed With Medical Waste - Sexual Abuse Of A Teenage Corpse." The album art is equally explicit. One album cover shows a woman consuming feces, while another shows an illustration of a young woman's headless body chained to a bed, covered in blood, as a man puts his pants back on....

The band's Facebook page, which had nearly 1,700 likes, and YouTube accounts appear to have been deleted in the wake of the shootings, according to cached versions of the Google search results page.... Before its deletion, the page advertising the band's discography featured, as its background images, maggots and a woman with sperm covering her face and in her mouth.

On Sunday night, the account of the "black metal antifascist" band Neckbeard Deathcamp tweeted that [the murderer] was a member of the band — but then the account later clarified that no one in the band personally knew him....

On Monday, a popular death metal and grindcore meme page posted a message to and from the community referencing the Dayton attacks and confirming that the shooter was a member of the Menstrual Munchies.

"Pornogrind is like an offshoot of goregrind that's more lighthearted and has more sexual themes," the person who runs the page... told BuzzFeed News.... "The music is pretty obscene but the people who revolve around it are usually really cool people."
The murderer, whose name I won't publicize, is said to be the person on the right in this picture:

"Germany's Fiona Kolbinger has beaten more than 200 men to become the first woman to win the Transcontinental Race, cycling more than 2,485 miles across Europe in just over 10 days...."

"After finishing in a time of 10 days, two hours and 48 minutes, Kolbinger says she could have 'gone harder,' adding: 'I could have slept less.' Britain's Ben Davies is poised to take second place, but he is yet to cross the finish line. He was still 124 miles (200km) away when Kolbinger finished on Tuesday morning.... Racers can choose their own route but must pass through four control points, taking them over varied terrain that includes gravel tracks and tough climbs.... The cyclists are not allowed to ask anybody the way or receive technical support from anyone else, and must find their own food and accommodation."

BBC reports.

The next competitor was 124 miles back when she crossed the finish line.... Is this a legit race? How do they exclude cheating?

ADDED: Here's the Wikipedia article on the race:
It is not a stage race, the clock never stops from the moment the riders leave the start to the moment that they reach the finish, so it is a long individual time trial. Riders must therefore strategically choose how much time to devote to riding, resting, and refueling each day. Being self-supported or unsupported means that drafting is not allowed, receiving any form of support from other racers is not allowed, nor is it from friends or family; all food, accommodation, repairs, etc., must be purchased from commercial sources....

Racer positions are monitored using GPS satellite-based tracker devices mounted on all participants' bikes that upload their positions every 5 minutes.... During the race, volunteers are stationed at each control point to register the passage of each rider. Volunteer "dot watchers" remotely follow the progress of each racer's tracker position and inform the organizers of possible rule violations (e.g., individual riders appearing to ride together for extended periods or people riding on prohibited roads)....

The organizers hope that an honor system is sufficient to curb violations, and in 2015 an online form was created for people to submit reports of rule-breaking. It is impossible to know how big a problem cheating actually is, but it is hoped that it is low since winning has no monetary value....
ALSO: There's a link on "honor system." Let me expand this posts topic with material on the honor system generally:

August 5, 2019

At the Prairie Cloud Café...


... expand and expound.

(And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy whatever you want.)

"David Whitlock has not showered or bathed for 15 years, yet he does not have body odour."

"'It was kind of strange for the first few months, but after that I stopped missing it,' he says. 'If I get a specific part of my body dirty, then I’ll wash that specific part' – but never with soap. As well as germs, soap gets rid of the skin’s protective oils and alters its pH level.... For Whitlock, a former chemical engineer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not washing has been a serious science experiment, the success of which has led him to become a trailblazer in a skincare revolution in soap-free, microbiome-friendly and probiotic products. His inspiration came from researching why horses roll in dirt. His conclusion? To top up their ammonia-metabilising bacteria, making the skin less susceptible to infection. Whitlock had hoped that he would naturally acquire this type of bacteria simply by stopping washing. He didn’t – and grew quite pongy. So, he harvested bacteria from the soil at a local farm and fed them with ammonia and minerals. When they turned the ammonia into nitrate, he knew he had what he wanted and started narrowing them down to a single strain that seemed happiest on human skin. After he applied the bacteria he had cultured – the stuff the horses were apparently after – he stopped smelling."

From "'I don’t smell!' Meet the people who have stopped washing/A growing number of people are eschewing soap and trusting bacteria to do the job instead – and an entire industry has sprung up to accommodate them" (The Guardian).

That made me want to copy a passage from Bill Bryson's "At Home: A Short History of Private Life":
“Wash your hands often, your feet seldom, and your head never” was a common English proverb. Queen Elizabeth, in a much-cited quote, faithfully bathed once a month “whether she needs it or no.”... In France, King Louis XIII went unbathed until almost his seventh birthday, in 1608....  The aristocratic Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who was one of the first great female travelers, was so grubby that after shaking her hand a new acquaintance blurted out in amazement how dirty it was. “What would you say if you saw my feet?” Lady Mary responded brightly. Many people grew so unused to being exposed to water in quantity that the very prospect of it left them genuinely fearful. When Henry Drinker, a prominent Philadelphian, installed a shower in his garden as late as 1798, his wife Elizabeth put off trying it out for over a year, “not having been wett all over at once, for 28 years past,” she explained.

"The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years."

"News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!"

Tweets Donald Trump this morning.

He also has this:
We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them. Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!
I'm reading his tweets this morning because I see the NYT has a headline "Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Doesn’t Propose Gun Laws After Shootings." I guess he condemned white supremacy somewhere other than on Twitter. Let me read this NYT thing:
“In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Mr. Trump said....

He warned of “the perils of the internet and social media” with no acknowledgment of his use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics.

It remained unclear whether Mr. Trump’s 10-minute remarks....
Let's find the video. Here:

ADDED: Trump's main proposal is to develop methods of detecting mass murderers before they act. The idea is then to prevent them from buying guns and to provide mental health treatment and, in some cases, involuntary confinement.

ALSO: Trump read the speech stiffly and with some awkwardness. I think that's his style when he needs to be serious, but to some it may sound as though he's feeling forced. He seemed short of breath, as if he was tired, but he didn't look tired. There was a lot of talk about the need for bipartisanship, but I don't have any hope that the mass killings of the past weekend will lead to any new bipartisanship.

On the subject of white supremacy, mental illness, and detecting murder before it happens, I wonder if there is any expert opinion about where the white supremacy arises in the process. Do mentally ill people get drawn into the delusions and distortions of white supremacy as they move forward toward acting out murderously or is the white supremacy there at the outset, drawing the future murderer into insanity? Are there white supremacists in the United States who are not mentally ill? I guess that depends in part on how you define white supremacy. But if you use a narrow definition... aren't they all mentally ill? Is it perhaps a way for the mentally ill to exacerbate existing illness and feel reinforced and dedicated and to lose track of right and wrong?

"Xu likes to cast his series as an act of reclamation, even rebellion—an attempt, as he writes, to 'queer the heteronormativity' of his parents’ household..."

"... and, in so doing, to disrupt the domesticity that smothers him during his visits home. And yet his images transmit a stubborn love for the parents with whom he shares so little of his new life in America, where he goes by Gary."

From "A Chinese Photographer’s Secret Installations Inside His Parents’ Home" (The New Yorker). Interesting photos at the link if you can get it to work for you. I'm a subscriber. It's a very clean, brightly lit home with lots of photos and posters plastered all over the place. The artist, Guanyu Xu, "grew up in Beijing... in an apartment on the seventeenth floor of a military-housing complex," where "he was forbidden from hanging posters on his bedroom walls" but "accumulated a stash of film and fashion magazines." Xu moved to the United States, then, on a visit back to China to see his parents, while they were away at work, he "transformed the family home into a brazen art installation" he photographed and titled "Temporarily Censored Home." He took all the stuff down before his parents got home from work. This sentence appears in The New Yorker: "As far as he’s aware, neither of his parents knows that he’s gay." And: "He hopes that his parents won’t discover his work, but he accepts that one day they may. 'I’m just taking the risk, I guess.'"

"Dick (what my friends and I call him) and I have been officially dating for about a month; I’m queer and poly so we’re ethically nonmonogamous...."

"I’d been celibate for the first six months of 2019 — I had been having a lot of meaningless sex and finding myself trying to force feelings for people I didn’t care about. Then came Dick. We met at graduate school. He found out I was celibate and made it clear he enjoyed tempting me. After a month of flirting, I relented. Then a woman he’d been flirting with found out, and caused drama, flirting aggressively and nonstop with him and trying to make me feel like shit about myself. He cut ties with her and apologized profusely. We were good again for a couple days, before he went on a date with another woman and claimed to be in love with her. Two weeks later, that all blew up too and he came crawling back. Against my better judgement I gave him a third chance — and it’s been wonderful so far."

From "The Polyamorous Woman Coming Off 6 Months of Celibacy," a "Sex Diaries" piece at The Cut, i.e., New York Magazine, to which I subscribe and you probably don't. Why am I blogging this? I was interested in the phrase "I’m queer and poly so we’re ethically nonmonogamous." Where do people get the idea of proclaiming themselves "ethical"? There no talk of ethics in this diary. Similarly, when do people proclaim themselves "celibate"? Is it just a matter of going without until something good enough comes along or is must there be some substance to this way of life before the term "celibate" comes along? When do you declare it and why? All I see here is that "He found out" and it put him in a condition of "enjoy[ing] tempting me," which makes it sound like the old playing hard to get.

"But this summer Ivanka transformed into someone entirely alien and new. She’s a frum Donatella Versace, her platinum hair parted severely down the middle..."

"... clad in increasingly conservative floor-length dresses, with an uncanny-valley beauty that’s the inverse of her father’s slack meat sack, and speaking in the ever-huskier whisper of a phone-sex operator who went to boarding school.... In her rebellious phase, she dyed her hair blue, listened to grunge and country music, and cried over Kurt Cobain’s death, none of which her parents were excited about. She also developed another habit that friends say her father did not like — she became a prodigious reader of great novels, burying her nose in Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Austen, Morrison. In her 20s, she said her favorite book was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and she had modeled herself on its capitalist heroine, Dagny Taggart.... She was the flashy shiksa daughter of a celebrity showman in Manhattan, and Jared was the buttoned-down Orthodox Jewish real-estate heir from New Jersey, which sounds like a rom-com plot and seemed, at least at first, like a way for Ivanka to break with tradition; she’d gone with a straight arrow for a mate instead of a wild man.... With Jared by her side, Ivanka left her hard-partying crowd for tamer friends.... After her father’s election, Ivanka... told friends she wanted to stay in New York. Jared argued for D.C., saying they needed to protect her father, and, by the way, now anything — everything! — was theirs for the taking. At their synagogue, at least a few people began referring to Ivanka, the first Jewish member of an American First Family, by a new nickname, that of a savior. ...[T]hey called her Esther, after the beautiful Jewish wife of a Persian king who convinced him to cancel an order to annihilate the Jews."

A couple snippets from the long New York Magazine article, "Ivanka Aeternum After the White House, she probably can’t go back to the city that made her. So she has cannily devised another exit strategy" by Vanessa Grigoriadis."

"She’s a frum Donatella Versace...." I know Donatella Versace, the 64-year-old fashion mogul who has aged quite weirdly... but what is "frum"?

Wikipedia says:
Frum (Yiddish: פֿרום‎, lit. 'religious', 'pious') is a word that describes Jewish religious devotion.... The term connotes the observance of Jewish religious law in a way that often exceeds its bare requirements.... Frum can be used in a negative sense for 'hypocritically pious', 'holier-than-thou', 'sanctimonious'; or in a positive sense for 'pious', 'devout', 'God-fearing', and 'upright'....