August 24, 2019

At the Green Fly Café...


Alight. Be in the yellow. Unload your thoughts.

(And enjoy the shopping — though the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

I'm getting pretty bored with material like this.

Look at that! It screams: I've got nothing new to say but it feels so important to say it all over again.

Anyway, I didn't read it. The Presidency of Donald Trump Never Gets Any Less Absurd. What I feel is the The Disbelief in the Presidency of Donald Trump Never Gets Any Less Absurd.

I wasn't a Trump fan at the point when he got elected. But he got elected, and I adapted. He became the President. He is the President. Yes, it is absurd, but life is absurd. You can't spend your life pacing about frantically and insisting on telling every passerby that life is absurd. But columns must be written.

I'll bet there's something in there about "I am the chosen one." But doesn't Andrew Sullivan think he is the chosen one — the one chosen to write columns about the unrelenting absurdity of Donald Trump?

Oh, now, I must do a page search to see if I win my bet with myself. And, yes, I do:
In just a few minutes this week, standing next to a noisy helicopter, in what now passes as the only form of press conference that still exists in this White House, he said a series of things that were absurd. He touted a new medicine to cope with veterans’ suicides; he answered a question about loopholes in gun background checks by talking about loopholes in immigration law; he said without irony that in America, “we have great mental illness”; he said that American Jews who vote Democrat are “disloyal to Israel,” as if dual loyalty were an expectation and not an anti-Semitic slur; he said — while looking heavenward — that he is “the chosen one” to tackle trade with China; he said “I have many people from Denmark who live in the United States”; he claimed his predecessor changed the rules on family separation in immigration when his own administration did it; he said (for the umpteenth time) that his term of office might last another 14 years; he threatened to release ISIS fighters in Germany and France to punish those allies; and he said he is “very seriously” considering an executive order to change the Constitution.

If you can begin even to engage this bizarre, dangerous, deranged, and ignorant stream of consciousness, and try to discern some kind of logic or pattern, your brain will break....
So we're all broken?

"Men are hurting, and, according to many researchers, masculinity is what is hurting them..."

"... and making it hard for them to maintain friendships. Society tells men* to be stoic and to suppress their feelings and expects them to be aggressive.... 1. Don't blame yourself. You are a product of a society that expects very particular things of masculinity, so focus on undoing hurtful and restricting belief systems. 'Friendships are coded as not masculine; certainly emotions are coded as ... not masculine.... So if you're not supposed to be emotional that means you're not going to be able to find the intimacy.'... 2. Accept your own desire for intimacy and normalize it for the people in your life.... 3. Model vulnerability.... 4. Ask more questions.... 5. Get close with the children in your life...."

From "Men Can Have Better Friendships. Here's How" (NPR).

What's with the asterisk on "men"?
* For the purpose of this piece, we're using the word "men" to refer to people who identify that way and who can be saddled with the constraints of masculinity.
Get ready for a world where "men" needs an asterisk and where the word refers to people who are "saddled with the constraints" of this condition. Almost makes you wonder why anyone would identify as male when it wasn't their assignment at birth. If you go out of your way to get to manhood — through the post-birth identification process — can you still be "saddled with the constraints of masculinity"? Or is it understood that this is exactly what you are identifying with (in which case it's not a constraint but precisely where you want to be)?

I'm just going to guess — even though I think these are interesting questions — that the answer is no. I'm thinking the identification as male is something deep-seated and not purely a choice. So you're not saying, I want exactly that. And in fact, you might even choose things for yourself that then burden you in many ways, foreseen and unforeseen. I think of the analogy of marriage: People fall in love and marry, intuitively or as a matter of rational choice, and still have constraints and burdens when they get what they want.

Back to the main substance of the article: "Men are hurting, and... masculinity is what is hurting them." Could there be an article "Women are hurting, and... femininity is what is hurting them"? Well, yes. I think there could be, and much of feminism says exactly that. You may think that feminism blames men and to say "femininity is hurting women" seems to put the blame within women. But to blame "femininity" is not to blame women. It blames the culture. But is femininity bad? Is masculinity bad? I'm not sure those are interesting questions. I guess stereotypical ideas about masculinity/femininity can limit your fulfillment as a human being.

As for the desire for better friendships, isn't that something that besets all adults? Do men look at women and think the women have great friendships and I wish I had something like that in my life? But I think many women wish for better friendships too, and also that a lot of women have... I mean... are saddled with the constraints of bad friendships.

"Let me tell you, you know exactly what I meant. It was sarcasm. It was joking. We were all smiling. And the question like that is just fake news. You're just a faker."

Said Trump, stating the obvious and making another joke about the need to state the obvious, speaking to reporters and quoted in "Trump: 'Chosen one' remark was sarcasm."

On a much more important point:
Trump also drew a reaction on social media on Friday morning after he declared on Twitter that American companies were "hereby ordered" to find alternatives to manufacturing in China. When asked Friday night what gave him the power to make such a sweeping decree, Trump cited the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president the power to regulate commerce during exceptional international crises.

Shortly after take off en route to France, Trump reiterated that he had the power to do so, tweeting: "For all of the Fake News Reporters that don't have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!"
For more on that: "'I hereby order': Trump mocked for highly formal, meaningless decree/Trump’s demand that US companies boycott China, which he doesn’t have the power to enforce, inspired responses on Twitter" (The Guardian).

August 23, 2019

At The Friday Night Cafe...

... say what you like.

"When we first spoke, on the phone, Wax explained that she was wary of the media, which she claimed has sometimes misquoted her and has frequently taken her comments out of context."

"Therefore, she was going to record the formal interview. She also said that she planned to occasionally adopt the role of interrogator and ask me questions, such as why some countries were 'shithole countries.' During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, Wax expounded on her beliefs that people of Western origin are more scrupulous, empirical, and orderly than people of non-Western origin, and that women are less intellectual than men. She described these views as the outcome of rigorous and realistic thinking, while offering evidence that ranged from two studies by a eugenicist to personal anecdotes, several of which concerned her conviction that white people litter less than people of color."

Writes Isaac Chotiner, in his introduction to his interview with Amy Wax, "A Penn Law Professor Wants to Make America White Again" (The New Yorker). Yikes. It sounds like she was right to be wary, but she did the interview. I haven't read the transcript yet. I'll update when I have.

UPDATE: The boldface is Chotiner, the rest Wax:
My reading of this was that you are not only embracing cultural-distance nationalism but saying it may, in fact, be necessary to save the country. Is that correct?

Well that’s a little bit of an overheated way of saying it....

"Just don’t … This is not a recommended travel destination for 2019. I understand many people just wanna spend 2 weeks of their boring enough life in a place they think would be cool..."

"...and take a bunch of the same photos their neibours Instagramer wannabe friend’s dog also have. If that’s you, you will fit right in with 500 other moms and pops with their Canon point and shoots. You will be fighting for a spot on the plato with 500 other selfie duck faces, Lululemon yoga pants, and brim hats they just brought from the market at Aquas Calientes which also sell fluffy alpaca faces. Cool. Wake up, to the locals, you are nothing more than the 5000 other money trees. To the Peruvian tourism board, you just happily handover another $150 out of your already over budget Peruvian holiday. All these because maybe you watched some stupid Instagram influencer or YouTuber hyping about everything they see. Do you own research, don’t come to Machu Picchu because you saw a photo on your friends’ feed, or Google tell you it’s a must go location. It’s not."

Wrote Mm Ww, quoted in "The best 1-star reviews of the Seven Wonders of the World" (WaPo).

"David H. Koch, who amassed a multibillion-dollar fortune with his brother Charles from the corporate behemoth they ran and then joined him in pouring their riches into a powerful right-wing libertarian movement..."

"... that helped reshape American politics, has died. He was 79.... Three decades after David Koch’s public steps into politics, analysts say, the Koch brothers’ money-fueled brand of libertarianism helped give rise to the Tea Party movement and strengthened the far-right wing of a resurgent Republican Party....ince the 1970s, the Kochs have spent at least $100 million — some estimates put it at much more — to transform a fringe movement into a formidable political force aimed at moving America to the far right by influencing the outcome of elections, undoing limits on campaign contributions and promoting conservative candidacies, think tanks and policies.... Under the administration of Donald J. Trump, the Koch brothers’ prospects in Washington seemed improved, at least superficially. But beneath the surface lay substantive political and personal differences between the Kochs and Mr. Trump.... As the 2018 congressional elections approached, the Kochs’ frustrations with Mr. Trump broke into an ugly and open exchange between Charles Koch and the president. Charles denounced Mr. Trump’s restrictive trade and immigration policies as divisive, and threatened to withhold the family’s support for Republican candidates who opposed the free-trade, government-shrinking policies at the heart of the Koch political philosophy. Mr. Trump struck back on Twitter, calling the Koch political apparatus 'overrated' and 'a total joke in real Republican circles.'"

From the NYT obituary.

What's the carbon footprint? And if they don't care, why does anyone care?

ADDED: I clicked through to the article and see that the house is 6,900 square feet. I wouldn't call that a "mega-mansion." Maybe a mansion. Here's a list of the 100 largest houses in the United States. #100 — the smallest of the largest — is 39,648 square feet. The Obamas' new house is less than 20% the size of that place. It's less than 4% the size of the #1 largest house (which is — as ever and never-to-be-exceeded — the Biltmore Estate).

The Obamas are mainly getting beautiful land, with lots of trees, and I don't think 6,900 square feet is so large for a couple, especially one that is likely to entertain many house guests over the years. The house isn't even twice the size of the house Meade and I live in, and we don't think of ourselves as living in a "mansion." The Obamas new house is actually rather modest for their purposes.

I regret the snarkiness of my post title. I was influenced by TMZ's word "mega-mansion." Yeah, I do think setting a strong example with respect to the carbon footprint should be important for the Obamas, but I suspect they think that 6,900 square feet with lots of green space around it is pretty good example-setting.

"Residents said they had grown used to the balky elevators at the Manhattan Promenade, where monthly rent for a one-bedroom is $3,695..."

"'They always jump between floors,' said one resident who declined to be identified, likening the rides to something out of a horror movie. 'It’s like that Halloween-night thing when you’re in that scary elevator that hops up and down. It’s really bad.'"

From "Graphic video shows moment man crushed by elevator at Manhattan Promenade building" (NY Post).

"Along with traditional camp pastimes like talent shows and archery... every cabin participates in programs designed to build self esteem and challenge misogyny, transphobia and other prejudices..."

"... whether it be writing love letters to their own bodies or cross-dressing to understand how clothes reinforce socially acceptable gender norms.... ... Zypher Wildera, a 12-year-old cisgender boy from Santa Cruz ... chose the all-gender cabin partly to get away from his brother, but more so because he thought it would be a really cool group of people. Although he is friends with some L.G.B.T.Q. children at his school, adjusting to his cabinmates’ various gender identities and pronouns took a little time, he said. 'I call everyone "dude" and some people in the cabin don’t like that term, so I try to be very conscientious,' Zypher said. 'In boys’ bunks, and with my male friends back home, we’ll jokingly insult each other. But in this cabin, everyone tries to be as kind and generous as possible. It’s made me more accepting and I feel better about myself, too.'"

From "In an All-Gender Cabin, Summer Campers ‘Don’t Have to Hide’/For gender-nonconforming campers, a new all-gender cabin at Camp Tawonga was a rare respite from the outside world, where bullying and the feeling of not fitting in can make growing up difficult" (NYT).

It strikes me as good for children to learn how to operate within a group where the culture is to "jokingly insult each other" and in one where that's not the etiquette at all. Understanding social cues and adapting and getting along — these are good skills!

"Where aristocratic children once reveled in their privilege, meritocratic children now calculate their future—they plan and they scheme..."

"... through rituals of stage-managed self-presentation, in familiar rhythms of ambition, hope, and worry....  A person whose wealth and status depend on her human capital simply cannot afford to consult her own interests or passions in choosing her job. Instead, she must approach work as an opportunity to extract value from her human capital, especially if she wants an income sufficient to buy her children the type of schooling that secured her own eliteness. She must devote herself to a narrowly restricted class of high-paying jobs, concentrated in finance, management, law, and medicine. Whereas aristocrats once considered themselves a leisure class, meritocrats work with unprecedented intensity.... Elite managers were once 'organization men,' cocooned by lifelong employment in a corporate hierarchy that rewarded seniority above performance. Today, the higher a person climbs on the org chart, the harder she is expected to work....  Meritocracy traps entire generations inside demeaning fears and inauthentic ambitions: always hungry but never finding, or even knowing, the right food. The elite should not—they have no right to—expect sympathy from those who remain excluded from the privileges and benefits of high caste...."

From "How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition/Meritocracy prizes achievement above all else, making everyone—even the rich—miserable. Maybe there’s a way out" by Yale lawprof Daniel Markovits (The Atlantic).

If privilege in this new form sucks, it should be self-limiting. The "she" in this tale of woe can easily take the off-ramp by not having children. Why intensify the horrific grind that is your life by having children for whom you can see no other path than the same tortured life? If you don't have better spiritual values, leave the childrearing to others.

On the other hand, is the life of the elite really as bad as Markovits portrays it? I can't help relating his polemic to the lawsuit Asian-American students brought against Harvard. Does one's subjective perception of horror of the meritocracy depend on who is winning the competition?

Finally, the kids can always say no. In my day, we had the hippie movement. The worse the competition is, the easier it is for young people to see that what their parents have is not what they want for themselves.

"I do always listen to myself, discuss with myself... I do like to go in the mountains when it's very rough, to feel the nature scratching you. It's good, I think."

"Tucked away in their home on the shores of Australia's Lake Eildon, behind heavy foliage and barbed wire, seven children in matching outfits and bleached blonde haircuts..."

"... were finishing their morning hatha yoga practice when they heard a commotion on the stairs. Suddenly uniformed police officers stormed into the room and gathered the children up. Moments later they whisked them away from the five-acre compound, into a new reality that would take 15-year-old Ben Shenton years to fully understand. Up to that moment in August 1987, his world had been shaped by Anne Hamilton-Byrne, a glamorous and charismatic yoga instructor who, in the late 1960s, had persuaded her followers to join a cult she called The Family. Members believed that Anne was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that when the world ended they would be responsible for re-educating the survivors. Ben and the other children were told that Anne was their mother. She taught them to avoid outsiders and if any approached them - on the shore of the lake perhaps - to follow the mantra Unseen, Unheard, Unknown."

From "The Family: 'Raised in a doomsday cult, I entered the real world at 15'" (BBC).

"No, Boris Johnson did not insult France by putting his foot on the table in front of Emmanuel Macron."

No, but he did put his foot on the table.

"Forest fires are common in the Amazon during the dry season, which runs from July to October. They can be caused by naturally occurring events..."

"... such as by lightning strikes, but also by farmers and loggers clearing land for crops or grazing. Activists say the anti-environment rhetoric of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged such tree-clearing activities. In response, Mr Bolsonaro, a long-time climate sceptic, accused non-governmental organisations of starting the fires themselves to damage his government's image."

From "The Amazon in Brazil is on fire - how bad is it?" (BBC).

August 22, 2019

At the Thursday Night Cafe...

... it’s your turn to talk.

"There are times when Trump’s hair is blowing in the wind or his tie is blowing in the wind. He’s shouting. It’s just not conducive to the kind of presidential look that we often strove for."

Said a former senior Obama White House official, quoted in "Trump’s ‘chopper talk’ puts media on the defensive/Using Marine One as a backdrop, the White House has replaced formal briefings with impromptu chats where the president sets all the rules" (Politico).
Yet Trump seems to relish the outside sessions, which have aired extensively on cable networks or snippets in news coverage throughout the day. [Veteran New York Times White House reporter Peter] Baker said he believes Trump prefers the natural light to the artificial lighting inside the White House. “He thinks that’s a better look,” he said, “and remember, he’s a TV guy, so he’s thinking about it in terms of how the television image is.”
Yes, "The Apprentice" often had Trump talking to the contestants on a rooftop. And didn't he fly in on a helicopter? He's strangely outdoorsy for his hairstyle and demeanor. I think he prefers to yell — to use what maybe your mother would call his "outdoor voice."
A former senior Trump White House official said Trump “likes settings where the pace to a greater extent, the length of these engagements, is a little bit up in the air.”...
Ha ha. Yes, it's dramatic. It's fun.

"Months before President Donald Trump expressed an interest in buying Greenland, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said he suggested the idea to the President and met with the Danish ambassador..."

"...  to propose the sale of the large land mass to the U.S.... 'Obviously, the right decision for this country,' Cotton said quickly when asked by Talk Business & Politics CEO Roby Brock about Trump’s Greenland tweets. “You’re joking, but I can reveal to you that several months ago, I met with the Danish ambassador and I proposed that they sell Greenland to us.'... Cotton said... Greenland’s 'economic potential is untold,' and the island is 'vital to our national security.' 'Anyone who can’t see that is blinded by Trump derangement,' he said. Cotton said in 2018 the Chinese government sought to essentially bribe the local government of Greenland into allowing it to build three military bases there. But efforts by Trump administration and some in Congress convinced Denmark to weigh in at the last minute and block the deal, Cotton said. 'I told the president you should buy it as well,' Cotton said, adding later that 'He’s (Trump) heard that from me and from some other people as well.'"

Reports Talk Business.

"So whether or not the music feels true to what Trump actually listens to, the whole scene... evokes a deep sense of what Trump stands for."

"And it feels like this question, which we keep referring to, of authenticity: Trump achieves that on an order of magnitude beyond what anyone else is currently doing on the other side," says Michael Barbaro in today's "The Daily Podcast" at the NYT.

The podcast goes with the NYT article "What Do Rally Playlists Say About the Candidates? Presidential campaigns have a sound. We analyzed the playlists of 10 contenders to see how the songs aligned with the messages." (which I blogged a couple days ago here).

The guest on the podcast is Astead W. Herndon, one of the authors of the article. He responds to Barbaro's prompt:
"We know that each of the candidates is trying to introduce themselves to the public and to stand out from what is a crowded Democratic field and music is one of the ways they try to tell that story. When I think about the scene at Trump rallies, before the speakers begin, when the crowd is doing the 'YMCA,' the Wave, and the dancing, I think that there's actual political value in that energy. And whoever wins on the Democratic side will have to motivate their base in a way that matches or exceeds that level of energy. And it has to be done in a way that seems authentic to who that person is and that is not going to be an easy task."
They have to do it and they will not be able to do it.

Listen to the whole podcast. It's fascinating to hear Barbaro and Herndon puzzle over the strange mix that is Trump's playlist. Why is "Memory" from "Cats" there?! Does Trump listen to "Cats"?! What's with all the Queen? Maybe it's not that Trump listens to Queen, but that the entire mix of the music  embodies something of America that the crowd feels as it dances and sings for hours before the speakers even begin. Maybe it's not the lyrics at all. Barbaro and Herndon don't stop to observe that "Cats" and Queen are totally British, not American at all. They also don't say mention the "surprisingly gay swagger" in Trump's music mix — which was the aspect of the "What Do Rally Playlists Say" article that I chose to blog about.

What's really clear — as you can see in my little transcription and will feel much more if you listen to the podcast — is that Trump's use of music is tremendously effective. It's an "order of magnitude beyond" what the Democratic candidates are doing. The Democratic candidates are trying to say who they are and tell their own story. Joe Biden is the average Joe. Kamala Harris is black. Kirsten Gillibrand is a feminist. They're at the level of introduction and standing out from the others. Obviously, Trump doesn't need to do that. We've known who he is for decades. But it's not just that. Trump isn't saying this is my music. Trump has a big crowd of people who have assembled and who are making a "whole scene" out of themselves that goes on and on long before he steps onto the stage.  None of the Democrats are doing anything like that.

ADDED: It's funny — Trump haters are always saying that Trump makes everything all about him. But Barbaro and Herndon are perceiving that Trump rallies are about the people... the people who love Trump. And maybe they love Trump because he creates a space in which they can love themselves. That's why the slogan is "Make America Great Again" (or "Keep America Great").

(Meanwhile, the Democratic Party idea seems to be "America = racism.")

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm said, "Trump does this to people":

Are the people doing it to themselves? Green Day didn't make the people sing like that in Hyde Park.

Rehajm adds, "The clown car of Democrats are Joni Mitchell at Atlantic City scolding the audience for not paying attention." Here's my recent post about Atlantic City and Joni. You may remember that. You probably don't remember that back in 2004, when John Kerry lost me, the thing that bothered me the most was when he snapped at a guy and said "You're not listening," and then in 2008, Barack Obama said almost the exact same thing — "The people who say [I am shifting to the center] apparently haven’t been listening to me."

"It’s boring, at this point, to talk about the cost of living with Donald Trump as president... the massive toll, in terms of time and energy stolen from Americans forced to pay attention..."

"... to inane tweets and half-baked policy, this presidency has had on all of us," writes Dahlia Lithwick  "The Demoralizing Reality of Life Under Trump/Every day is the same, but still awful" (Slate).

And I just wonder why people keep giving Trump what he's only asking for. He's not stealing your attention.

I know the reflexive answer is that because he's President, we must keep paying attention, jumping at his every instigation, but you have to look at yourself. You can only do your part in this wild enterprise. Why can't you figure out how to do that in a way that doesn't give him perpetual dominance?

The reflexive answer to that question is that you think you're defeating him. But no, he's doing it in a way that makes your opposition energizing to him. That's how he became President in the first place. You can't stop, and he's doing it again and again and again.

A little more Lithwick:
The actual psychic toll on our mental health is crippling. The lost sleep, the grinding anxiety, the escalating fears don’t just represent squandered time. They start to chip away at your health and at your soul. The healthy response would be to tune it out altogether, but since actual people are actually suffering the brutal consequences, we cannot. And so here we are back in the narcissist’s loop, fueling his need to be at the center because, well, there he is at the center....
Take responsibility for yourself. Any therapist will tell you that!
Self-care in the form of manicures and time with the kids isn’t making a dent in it.... We are all doing too much. And we are all also not doing enough. And there is nothing wrong with you, beyond being a human being in categorically insane times.
To say "there is nothing wrong with you" is to assert that there's nothing you can do. But you can always only ever do you.

"Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment in 2016, forcing him to resign (before his death), and busted a dam which saw a flood of women step forward who claimed..."

"... they too were harassed by the cable network news chief. Carlson settled with 21st Century Fox for a reported $20M. Kelly also admitted that she was sexually harassed by Ailes. She wrote about those advances in her 2016 book Settle for More. HarperCollins reportedly paid Kelly $10M-plus for the book" (Deadline).

A nicely minimalist trailer:

Last night, we saw "The Book of Will" at The American Players Theater.

Highly recommended! The first scene and the last scene are particularly wonderful, with lots of players in action and doing lines from Shakespeare, beginning with a corrupted version of Hamlet's "To be or not to be," which dramatized the need to collect and preserve a written text. The story line is simply how the First Folio came to be.

I thought I hadn't used the tag "the [blank] community" in many years...

... as I was adding it to that last post, "We have a fat population, so why don’t we have a community?"

But after publishing the post and clicking on the tag — "the [blank] community" — I saw that I'd used it 3 times in the last 2 years. Something about "the nice community of woke people." The notion that Amy Klobuchar gets mad about the use of "community" in press releases. And something about "the BDSM community" (who the hell was "Schneiderman" that I blogged about him without a first name?).

Before that, though, you have to go all the way back to Fall 2008 to find the tag. It flourished that season. There are 4 posts. One of the 4 posts is about about the loner community (and refers back to 2 other posts about the loner community):

"I'm here on the internet and I can't find any communities for loners."

"... I'm so deeply put-off of people from my grueling experiences with extroverts and socialites. So, I'd like to get a chance to talk to my own kind a little. I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way as me... but I can't find a message board for them."

That's a new comment on a post from last August. Perhaps you'd like to respond to the commenter, whose name is Autonomous. I'll redirect him/her to this post, so use this comments section.

Oddly, I've joked twice on this blog about "the loner community": here and here.
In the comments there, Freeman Hunt says:
I guess I'm weird around here. I'm definitely extroverted. Not in the social butterfly, small talk, loud sense--I don't like boring conversation and some of this social butterfly talk seems to imply that--but I definitely enjoy the company of people. I like people, all kinds of people, a lot. Call me crazy.

In fact, I've always hoped that there will someday be a nationwide Althouse get together. You people interest me. :)
That was responded to by Meade (whom I would meet in real life 2 months later):
I like Freeman's idea but wouldn't it be a riot if we all got together only to find out that in person we all rub each other the wrong way because in person we're all just a bunch of loud annoying energy-sapping attention-seeking opinionated extraverts who do nothing but talk over each other?
For a disquisition on whether the spelling is "extrovert" or "extravert," go here.

The original "the [blank] community" post was from the first year of the blog, 2004. I took issue with the term "the sniper community."

"We have a fat population, so why don’t we have a community?"

"We want to be a resource for people to feel loved and welcomed. We knew there was a need, and we knew that if we did something like this, people would show up," said Elizabeth Chinn, a founder  of Fat Babes Club of Columbus, quoted in "Hulu’s ‘Shrill’ popularized the body-positive pool party. These women threw their own/On a recent Saturday night, the Fat Babes Club of Columbus welcomed attendees with pool floaties and Lizzo tunes" at The Lily (the women's section of WaPo).
While “Shrill” normalized a body-positive pool party for streaming audiences, the goal of the Fat Babes Club pool party was to change perceptions through social media. “Since social media is a huge thing, we can construct a counter-narrative outside the mainstream,” said 28-year-old co-founder Krystal Orr. “We’re able to create a community.”
Here's the trailer for "Shrill" (with a "fat babes pool party" at 0:54):

Here's the Instagram announcement for the Fat Babes Club of Columbus pool party:

One more Instagram pic from the Columbus fat babes:

View this post on Instagram

Making BIG moves this morning 😉❤️

A post shared by Fat Babes Club of Columbus (@fatbabesclubofcolumbus) on

August 21, 2019

At the Motivational Café...


... find it in yourself to keep the conversation going.

(... and to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can make your own selections.)

The OED "word of the day" is "Nowheresville."

I can't link to the OED, so I'll just tell you it's "colloquial and humorous (orig. and chiefly U.S.)" and it's "A largely unknown or uninteresting place, esp. a small, rural town; (also figurative) obscurity, insignificance, limbo." The oldest in-print use was from 1917 T. H. Litster, "Songs your Heart & Mine": "I came from back of Nowheresville, From Concession number three,.. It's the place where I was born, you see."

I like this 1959 use in The Washington Post: "Legally speaking, the Coffee and Confusion Club, the beat generation's contribution to Foggy Bottom, was in Nowheresville yesterday." I couldn't find that text in the WaPo archive (or elsewhere) but I did find this picture:

The etymology of "Nowheresville" is easy: "nowheres" + "-ville."

But is "nowheres" really a word? Well, yeah, "regional and nonstandard." Dickens has a character say it in "Bleak House" (1853): "Don't let me ever see you nowheres within forty mile of London, or you'll repent it." And Mark Twain has somebody say it in "The Adventures Huckleberry Finn" (1884): "I hain't been nowheres."

The "-ville" ending is interesting. What else do you think of besides "nowheresville"? I think of "dullsville." The ending makes a word into "a fictitious place" or "a particular quality suggested by the word to which it is appended." Among the examples in the OED are "Meatville" (from a sign in a butcher shop in an 1843 comic), "Sluggersville" ("a slugger from Sluggersville," 1891), "Winnersville" ("That girl is a winner from Winnersville," 1906), "Boneheadville" ("you're the biggest bonehead from Boneheadville," 1932).

So that's one way to do it: X from Xville (or Xsville). Looks like repeating the root word felt funny in the first half of the 20th century.

Later you get "Squaresville" ("This guy is from Squaresville, fellas, I'm telling you. He wouldn't know a ·45 from a cement mixer" — Ed McBain, "Cop Hater," 1956). Similarly: "Cubesville." And "Hicksville." Also: "Deathville" and "dragsville" — for boring.

Seems like the "-ville" ending took on a negative feeling. And after such a bright beginning with Meatville, Sluggersville, and Winnersville.

"What was the embittered left — Democratic presidential candidates and their media allies — supposed to do when their hopes of Russia-Trump collusion crashed on the boulevard of broken dreams?"

"Pivot. They had invested so much in their fantasy that President Donald Trump was a treasonous agent of Russian boss Vladimir Putin. But when special counsel Robert Mueller’s report came out, and there was no collusion, no crime charged, their fantasy collapsed. And so, after a brief spasm of despair, the left pivoted to their default position: race. Race. Race. Race. Race. Race.... In the short term, Democrats and their media allies are using race and charges of 'white supremacy' to herd those 60 million or so Trump voters back into Hillary Clinton’s basket of deplorables. But once you brand 60 million people as 'white supremacists,' and 'Nazis,' what can you do with them?"

Writes John Kass in The Chicago Tribune.

"Trump Says Jews Should Love Him Because He’s Almost Literally Jesus."

Says Jonathan Chait.

He's paraphrasing. I'm sure it's a fair paraphrase, don't you think?

ADDED: From the WaPo article on the same subject:
President Trump went on Twitter on Wednesday to quote a conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist who praised him as “the greatest President for Jews” and claimed that Israelis “love him like he is the second coming of God.”

In his tweets, Trump thanked Wayne Allyn Root for “the very nice words.”

Root has promoted numerous conspiracy theories, including that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States, that Democratic National Committee staff member Seth Rich was killed by any one of a number of prominent Democrats, that a mass shooting in Las Vegas was coordinated by Muslims and that the person responsible for the death of Heather Heyer at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville was paid by a wealthy Democrat.
UPDATE: He really knows how to yank people's chain:


"The cancellation of what was considered an important state visit in Denmark was described as a 'farce' by the leader of the populist Danish People's Party, Kristian Thulesen Dahl."

"'What is this man thinking of though? And with grounds that are worthy of an April Fools' joke,' he wrote in a tweet. Danish Conservative MP Rasmus Jarlov, who earlier said that 'of all things that are not going to happen, this is the most unlikely,' accused Mr Trump of lacking respect for his country in a tweet on Wednesday."

BBC on the Greenland ruckus.

ADDED: It's August. It's hot. We're tired of thinking about the southern border and "racism" and — who remembers? — Mueller and whatever it was last week. We're having a mental vacation is Greenland. So cool. So remote. So imagination-y. The escapism is fantastic.

And who cares if Danes are miffed? They're white people. Nice choice of antagonists, Trump. Why do they have Greenland anyway? They were not the first people of Greenland or even the first Europeans:

"One researcher... accused the dogs in the National Park of Brasilia, where they hunted in massive packs, of scaring off natural predators."

"It was found that the closer humans lived to a nature preserve, the more likely dogs had penetrated it But perhaps most striking? The dogs were neither feral nor domestic — but somewhere in between. 'All the dogs we detected had an "owner" or a person that the animal has a bond with... The species population increases following human populations, exacerbating their potential impact on wildlife.'... [Researchers] set up cameras and discovered dozens of dogs in the [Tijuca forest, one of the world’s largest urban woodlands]. They estimated more than 100 dogs were in the park — not residents, it turned out, so much as frequent visitors, tracking in from nearby favelas. 'These are people who are very poor... They don’t have money to build walls. . . . When the owners leave for work, the dog leaves, too, and only returns when the owner comes back to the house from work.' The owners often have no idea what their dogs are up to. Even if they were told... they almost certainly wouldn’t believe it.... 'We’d do interviews with the farmers: "Have you seen these dogs?" And they’d say, "Yeah, but my dogs aren’t the problem; it’s my neighbor’s dogs."'"

From "The dog is one of the world’s most destructive mammals. Brazil proves it" (WaPo).

"My man was afraid of dust. So we bid on an apartment that hadn’t even been built yet, and I spent the year making obsessive scrapbooks..."

"... just like my mother before me. I planned for wallpaper (my friend Payton Cosell Turner’s Flat Vernacular does the best, and I’ve had the same pattern in three bedrooms in three apartments) and bought Josef Frank pillows and Nancy’s Blushes Farrow & Ball paint for the bedroom. I had art by Rob Pruitt and Ellen Berkenblit ready to go (queer and female painters are my thing). I even had all my mother’s Melmac dishes in queasy pastels. He was on tour, so she and I set the kitchen up, stuffed the closets, and placed the tchotchkes on the mantel for the great unveiling. And he hated it. He didn’t want to hate it. He tried not to hate it. But he didn’t like living among the insides of my mind. I thought I was giving him a gift, like the time I came home from summer camp and my mother had painted my walls four different chalky colors and installed a poster, a candle shaped like a slice of honeydew melon, and an inflatable chair (all this for under $100 at Woolworth’s—RIP Woolworth’s). I wanted to give him the magic that she’d always given me by dreaming her maddening dreams. But he wanted a Restoration Hardware couch and a giant watch to hang on the wall. I felt sick every time I made a design concession or covered up pink with dove gray. Love can only survive so much."

From "Lena Dunham Finds Her Happy Place/After years of chasing (and mentally decorating) her dream space—and with a bevy of projects in the works, including the upcoming HBO series Industry—actress, director, producer, and podcast host Lena Dunham discovers home is where you make it" (Domino).

If you're like me, your first question is: What the hell is a "bevy"? Can you really have "a bevy of projects"? According to the OED, a "bevy" is "The proper term for a company of maidens or ladies, of roes, of quails, or of larks." I think a "bevy" is composed of human or animal creatures. Interestingly and as you might suspect if you stopped and thought about it, the word "bevy" is (probably) related to "beverage" and "it has been conjectured that bevy may have passed from the sense of ‘drinking-bout’ to ‘drinking-party,’ and to ‘party’ or ‘company’ generally." But is it wrong to use "bevy" for a collection of inanimate objects or abstract things (like "projects")? No. It originally referred animate creatures, but there are examples of the inanimate use going back to the 17th century.

With that out of the way, let's proceed to the second thing that jumps off the page, which is something more deep and substantive: interior decoration and intimate relationships. Is the shared home the woman's space, to be decorated according to her taste, and it's the man's role to feel grateful he is accepted into the warmth of a home and to make a separate space for himself (a den or workshop or man-cave) if he wants? If yes, is it more yes when the woman has thrown off a traditional sex roles and styles herself a feminist?

Thirdly, Dunham's relationship with the man who was afraid of dust ended. We're told that as he left, he said — "through tears" — "You can finally eat in the bed without anyone getting mad at you." Let me suggest — for your comments pleasure — the topic of what interior decoration says about the relationship that exists and that is planned. If you make a space that very aggressively says "I exclude you," won't your companion eventually take a hint? Or is there a companion — a better companion? — who can live lightly and pleasurably within his loved one's distinctive space and goes out for a walk or retreat into his den when he needs restoration and Restoration Hardware?

Finally, when a relationship has ended, does a person find solace in thinking about inanimate things? He was afraid not of me, not of intimacy, but of dust. But what is the fear of dust? The fear of death? You can have a home, you can decorate it with the most aspirational taste and personality, it's so specifically yours, but there really is no one special place for you.... All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

"The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office can’t or won’t say why, but the criminal case against the man who allegedly stole Frances McDormand’s Best Actress Oscar in 2018 is over..."

"... at least for now. Terry Bryant was up against a felony grand theft charge for lifting the Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri star’s statuette at the post-ceremony Governors Ball. But that all went away Tuesday in what seemed like a Keystone Kops move in Los Angles Superior Court. 'The District Attorney’s Office today told the court that we are unable to proceed at this time,' a spokesperson for D.A. Jackie Lacey said. 'The defense made a motion to dismiss the case, and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta dismissed it,' the D.A’s office added. 'We don’t have further comment.' They don’t have further comment for an incident that was captured by photographs and put on Facebook by a tux-wearing Bryant himself, who has always insisted on his innocence in the admittedly odd incident."

Deadline reports. 

Doesn't seem anything like the Keystone Kops.

"If there is a single micro-genre of American journalism more nauseating than the 'Jay-Z and Beyonce woke discourse circa 2007-2019,' I can't think of it."

"Why exactly we settled on these two billionaire entertainers as the embodiment of progressivism is utterly beyond me. There was never anything revolutionary about 'Woke Queen Bey.' Her weird 2010s monarchist turn was the will-to-power artfully packaged for 20-something Teen Vogue editorial assistants; lyrics like 'I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow bone it / I dream it, I work hard, I grind till I own it' are essentially Randian.... As for Jay-Z, his — gag me — 'feminism' is about as sincere as you might expect from someone who got rich mouthing along to lines like 'In the cut where I keep em / Till I need a nut.'... All of which is to say that I can't believe anyone is actually surprised, much less upset, by Jay-Z's recent partnership with the NFL on racial issues.... Nobody bats an eye when Rush Limbaugh says things like 'I think we're past kneeling.' Why should anybody be surprised when the guy who did 'Big Pimpin'' tells us the same thing? Of course he's 'the NFL's black boyfriend.' He's been upper-middle-class white frat bros' black boyfriend for two decades now."

From "Jay-Z's cardboard corporate activism" by Matthew Walther (The Week).

Interesting to call Beyonce's lyrics "Randian." I had to look up "yellow bone it." From the annotations at
“Yellow bone” refers to being black but having light-skin.... Bey’s considered “yellow-boned” opposed to “red-boned” because her complexion has more of a “honey” tone to it, and is thus “yellow.” Jay Z referred to Beyonce as a “high yellow broad” on his 2009 song “Off That.”
What does Ayn Rand say about race? From Rand's "Virtue of Selfishness":
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage — the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas — or of inherited knowledge — which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.

Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination....
I'm not going to go any further into the study of whether Beyonce lyrics accord with Randian philosophy! If my head were full of Beyonce lyrics — which maybe they would be if my last 10 years were my teenage years — I might want to sort through whether Beyonce-ism is as left-wing as left-wing commentators had been presenting her up until this football foofaraw. But my teenage years were in the 60s. My head is full of Dylan lyrics. And I've already blogged about whether Dylan is as left-wing as some people seem to think or whether he's really somehow right-wing. So that's it for me for now about the political meaning of musical artists.

August 20, 2019

A slow aerial view of Madison.

Via r/Madison, where somebody asks "Isn't it pretty dangerous to just fly a drone above traffic and people?"

"More than 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds were killed after 'baseball-sized' chunks of hail fell on a Montana wildlife management area last weekend..."

"Ducks and shorebirds with broken wings, smashed skulls and other signs of internal bleeding were found on the shores around Big Lake Wildlife Management Area in Molt, Mont...."

NY Post.

The NYT finds a surprising "gay swagger" in President Trump's choice of music for his campaign rallies.

I'm reading "What Do Rally Playlists Say About the Candidates? Presidential campaigns have a sound. We analyzed the playlists of 10 contenders to see how the songs aligned with the messages."

Pugnacity, high drama, self-congratulation and Top 10 familiarity — preferably all at once — are clear requirements for the playlist at Mr. Trump’s rallies. They’re oldies with a swagger … including, surprisingly, gay swagger. The default sentiment is combative self-confidence; the default sound is a martial blare. — JON PARELES
Here's a graphic depiction of the "gay swagger" of Trump's songlist:
I was dubious about this depiction of the "most frequent words" in Trump's songlist:

That is just part of a bigger diagram, emphasizing the frequency of "love." The downward slant of the purple line continues (and Sanders is the one with the least "love").

But what caught my eye was "macho." How could "macho" have come in second in frequency? They only left out "filler words like 'the,' 'yeah,' and 'bam.'" But as I was thinking about that, "Macho Man" played in the background, and the word "macho" is indeed repeated in great profusion in that song. Looks like about 100 times...
Every man wants to be a macho, macho man
To have the kind of body, always in demand
Jogging in the mornings, go man go
Work outs in the health spa, muscles glow
You can best believe that, he's a macho man
Ready to get down with, anyone he can
I love the recommendation of a "health spa," because we know that when Trump mocked a man for being fat, he told him, "Go home. Start exercising." Home?! And then there's also the notion, promulgated by the press in 2017, that Trump opposes exercise (other than golf) because he believes that "a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy."

"We at the Folger revered Justice Stevens for his independent-mindedness. But his denial of Shakespeare’s authorship is founded on a conspiracy theory..."

"... that no reputable Shakespeare scholar countenances. The historical evidence of Shakespeare’s career as an actor and a playwright—including praise of his greatness by his contemporaries—is clear and undeniable. Those interested in the question should consult Shakespeare Documented, the Folger’s authoritative Web site. While we at the Folger will remember Justice Stevens fondly, we strongly disavow his wrongheaded opinions about Shakespeare."

Letter to the editor in the new issue of The New Yorker.

The letter is a reaction to "Justice Stevens’s Dissenting Shakespeare Theory/Among the late Supreme Court Justice’s controversial opinions: a belief that the Bard’s works were actually written by Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford" (where we learn that Scalia shared the same discredited belief.) Also in The New Yorker, "An Unexpected Letter from John Paul Stevens, Shakespeare Skeptic," by the author of "Contested Will," James Shapiro, who interacted with Stevens on the subject and wrote:
... I was curious about what led so wise a jurist to embrace a conspiracy theory—and that’s the only word for it, since there’s not a shred of documentary evidence linking Oxford to Shakespeare’s plays, only speculation and surmise. To look back on my exchange with Stevens is a reminder of how firmly conspiracy thinking has taken hold in America, from anti-vaxxer propaganda to the belief that the moon landing was faked....

The Bible of the Oxfordian movement was J. Thomas Looney’s “Shakespeare Identified,” published in 1920. Stevens knew from having read my book that Looney, a member of the cultish Church of Humanity, had landed upon Oxford as an alternative candidate because the Earl’s life (inventively reimagined) dovetailed with Looney’s own nationalist and reactionary views. Looney’s interest in Shakespeare was more political than literary: he despised modernity and was profoundly anti-democratic. The plays of Shakespeare, understood as the works of an aristocrat, offered Looney a guide for a wished-for restoration of a repressive feudal regime, in which everyone knew his or her place....
Through a series of letters, Stevens doggedly stuck with his arguments and Shapiro refrained from writing about what he clearly regards as nonsense until after Stevens died.

The fish tube.

I found that through "The Nihilistic Euphoria of the Fish Tube" by Rachel Riederer (in The New Yorker). Excerpt:
For a couple of days, Twitter could not stop thinking about the fish tube or imagining what the voyage must be like for the cannoned salmon. Some have cast it as a jaunty adventure, as when set to the theme song from “DuckTales,” but others have conjured it as an aquatic trauma. As the writer and editor Tyler Coates tweeted, “imagine if you were a fish and this shit happened to you.” The most compelling visions of the fish tube have a note of nihilistic euphoria, as in the rewritten Smashing Pumpkins lyric “despite all my lube / i’m still just a fish in a tube,” or as crystallized by the cartoonist and illustrator Matt Lubchansky, who tweeted, “stick my disgusting body into that fish tube and fire me into the goddamned sun!!! let’s GO”...

One imagines that the fish [feels greatly disturbed]. Yet is there not a strange peace to be found in surrendering to whatever chaos has plucked you from your personal mental river? A salmon in a tube can do nothing but relax while physics does the work.... Twitter-scrolling and life itself can sometimes feel akin to being throttled through some strange and endless pneumatic tube—would that all our journeys could resolve so gently.
How did this writer get that far and not say the internet is "a series of tubes"?! Did you know "A Series of Tubes" has its own Wikipedia page?

Joe Biden has "created a bizarre simulacrum of endless — well, not youth, but certainly a long gone upper middle age."

"The combined effect of the tan, the teeth, the hair, and maybe Botox and fillers, if not a facelift, is on the verge of unsettling. We all know Biden is old, but he seems determined to avoid reminding us. Rather than admitting his vitality is, quite naturally, on the wane, Biden is trying to prove he can keep up with rivals young enough to be his children or even grandchildren. This week, however, The Hill reports Biden allies 'have been floating the idea of altering the former vice president's schedule in an effort to reduce the gaffes he has made,' because their candidate tends "to make the blunders late in the day' when he is tired. This is a good idea, and one Biden should embrace openly. Admit he needs to relax in the evening. Acknowledge that most 76-year-olds are having dinner at 5 p.m., not rolling into their third campaign stop in eight hours. Use the schedule change to talk about what voters can realistically expect if they choose the oldest president in U.S. history. Running against the perpetually sleep deprived Trump, maybe use it to talk about how a good sleep schedule helps avoid the mental decline old age can bring. For candidates nearing 80, the best way to convince voters they're not too old is to own their oldness."

From "Joe Biden, own your age" by Bonnie Kristian (in The Week). Not act your age (the standard expression (which I attacked recently)). Own your age. "Act your age" tells you to change and be a better you. "Own your age" says you are what you and spare us the bullshit.

A woman and her simulacrum — Whitney Cummings has a sex robot/doll made in her own image.

An hour and 30 minutes have passed since the first post of the day.

It was that thing about the vasectomy cake, which might make you think I have a low standard, but in fact the vasectomy cake met a very high standard, and I have been looking ever since to find something else that meets my standard.

I really mean it when I say better than nothing is a high standard. The vasectomy cake was in fact the only thing in an hour and a half of reading that was better than nothing. I considered and rejected:

1. "The U.S. must take Greenland by force!" by Dana Milbank (WaPo). Who cares how Milbank hits a softball?

2. "Trump is melting down. Again" by Eugene Robinson (WaPo). First line: "Uh-oh. President Trump is in such a state of panic about his dimming reelection prospects that he’s getting his lies mixed up and occasionally blurting out the truth." I considered a post title like "Uh-oh, WaPo is in such a state of panic about the Democrats' dimming reelection prospects that..." and then I just felt disgusted with the me who would write like that. A computer could be programmed to write a blog that just flips the partisanship of every headline.

3. "Conservative Scholar: The Real Racists Are People Who Call Trump Racist" by Jonathan Chait (NY Magazine). So the conservative scholar flipped a liberal meme to make it anti-liberal and liberal Chait will flip it back. Am I supposed to expend my cruel neutrality on such low-effort stuff? Chait has to write a column. He's paid to do it. I don't and I'm not.

4. "A Party Room and a Prison Cell Inside the Friends writers’ room," a book excerpt by Saul Austerlitz (at NY Magazine). I'm interested in "Friends," and the article is long. I read it. But that doesn't mean it has to become a blog post. It's less interesting than the vasectomy cake. And a vasectomy cake would be a great plotline for a "Friends" episode.

5. "Neil Young’s Lonely Quest to Save Music/He says low-quality streaming is hurting our songs and our brains. Is he right?" I love Neil Young. Nice black-and-white photograph of Neil Young. The first sentence is "Neil Young is crankier than a hermit being stung by bees" and we were just talking about bees, but the article is about digital audio, a topic he's been perseverating about for a quarter century. I make a mental note to pull out "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" for the next time we get together to play records.

A cake to celebrate...

... vasectomy (at Reddit).

August 19, 2019

At the Monday Night Cafe...

... keep the conversation going.

"When it was announced this year that break dancing would be added to the program for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris... Bumblebee suddenly had a new life goal."

"In many ways, the story of the Chernyshevs, father and son from Voronezh, a former manufacturing hub of around a million people about 300 miles south of Moscow, is the story of break dancing over the past three decades, with its unlikely journey from the streets of New York to every corner of the globe and to its surprising inclusion, pending a final vote in December, in the Olympics. Bumblebee himself embodies a new kind of aspiring Olympian, excelling in the sort of niche, nontraditional sport that the International Olympic Committee has recently promoted: surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, kiteboarding. Many of those events will soon be featured at the Games, too, reflecting the interests and ambitions of a younger generation, and an Olympic movement eager to attract its attention. Bumblebee has spent half his life breaking, with a style and skill set nurtured by streaming video and social media, feeling every bit a part of, and protective of, hip-hop culture — a culture that has room, in his mind, for the Olympic Games."

From "A Russian B-Boy Dreams of Gold/The inclusion of unconventional sports in future Olympics is creating a new breed of aspiring medalist. Sergey Chernyshev, a break dancer known as Bumblebee, is one of them" (NYT).

"To me, Pepe is just a Hello Kitty-like character."

Said one of the Hong Kong protesters, quoted in "Hong Kong Protesters Love Pepe the Frog. No, They’re Not Alt-Right/To much of the world, the cartoon frog is a hate symbol. To Hong Kong protesters, he’s something entirely different: one of them" (NYT).
“It has nothing to do with the far-right ideology in the state,” [another] person wrote on LIHKG, an anonymous forum that has been the center of discussion for protesters. “It just looks funny and captures the hearts of so many youngsters. It is a symbol of youth participation in this movement.”...

Emily Yueng, 20, said... "different countries have very different cultures.... Symbols and colors that mean something in one culture can mean something completely different in another culture, so I think if Americans are really offended by this, we should explain to them what it means to us.”...

Pepe was not always seen as a racist symbol. He was created more than a decade ago by Matt Furie, who killed off the character in 2017 after it was adopted by the alt-right.... “It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate,” he said in 2016, when the Anti-Defamation League added Pepe to its list of hate symbols.

It's cooking, but "it's not #1 on the burner."

Am I the only one who is noticing that the TV talking-heads news shows are shifting their approach to...

... makeup? A month or so ago, I couldn't listen to what they were saying because I was exclaiming that they looked like they were wearing rubber masks. It was freaky. The skin did not look like skin. How did I know these were human beings at all rather than simulacra? But something seems to have changed in this past week. Maybe it's the summer heat and air conditioning doesn't work right anymore, but I've seen at least 2 shows with panelists gleaming as if they were sweating. Is this a deliberate reenvisioning of the best way to do makeup for high-definition television? The panelists convey reality more convincingly, and now I can't hear what they're saying because I'm talking over them about how they're all sweating, they're glowing, as if they are live, breathing, feeling human beings.

From the Wikipedia article "Simulacrum":
Simulacra have long been of interest to philosophers. In his Sophist, Plato speaks of two kinds of image making. The first is a faithful reproduction, attempted to copy precisely the original. The second is intentionally distorted in order to make the copy appear correct to viewers. He gives the example of Greek statuary, which was crafted larger on the top than on the bottom so that viewers on the ground would see it correctly. If they could view it in scale, they would realize it was malformed....
If we could see Jake Tapper eye-to-eye, we would realize... what?!
Postmodernist French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. According to Baudrillard, what the simulacrum copies either had no original or no longer has an original (think a copy of a copy without an original). Where Plato saw two types of representation—faithful and intentionally distorted (simulacrum)—Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality; (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretence of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which "bears no relation to any reality whatsoever."...  
A great topic! To be continued! New tag: "simulacra."
ADDED: Another makeup anomaly I've been seeing is what looks like painted-on lower eyelashes on men — something like what Twiggy did in the 1960s:

I don't think this is drawn on with eyeliner, Twiggy-style. I think it is added on within the computer. Look for these eyelashes, please, and let me know when you see them. They're freaky! I suspect the rubberized look I was seeing was also a computer manipulation.

"But, now that the children have graduated [from college] and moved back into my house as they search for jobs and eventually first apartments..."

"... I will say the thing that we as parents are not supposed to say: What happened to my empty nest? The very definition of home has changed. Mine will always be their family home, their spiritual home, but it cannot be their primary home. This is now my primary home, alone. I know that this arrangement is temporary, and I want to help my children out in every way possible, but it would be dishonest to say that their reappearance in 'their rooms,' which I now call guest rooms, has not been jarring. No matter how much I try to resist the urge, I’m reverting to my last-phase parenting mode — worrying about whether they’re eating enough and eating healthfully, washing their clothes and taking them to their rooms...."

Writes Charles Blow in the NYT. He also says: "Since my oldest son was 6 and my twins were 3, I have been a single dad." I had to look him up in Wikipedia to try to fill in the facts. It says he's divorced, he's openly bisexual, and his kids went to college at Yale, Middlebury, and Columbia. I'm not sure why young people with such advantages in life don't have jobs immediately upon graduating from college or why they'd want their father musing about their situation in the New York Times. I see that Blow's home is in New York City. Who's lucky enough to have multiple guest rooms in New York City? Is this really a story of real estate?

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

"He’s 26 years old but still sees a pediatrician: Why some young adults don’t move on" (WaPo).

What the hell is wrong with sticking with your regular family doctor? You have a relationship with this person. He or she is a real doctor. It's not like you're going to a veterinarian. You like what you have. Why is The Washington Post age-shaming the young?

Well, age-shaming the young is an old game. Grow up, they say and have been saying for eons. If it's not that you're acting too babyish and unserious, it's that you're old before your time. I say a young person can be young in the way that feels right to them. I say you are the master of your own time. You are how you feel, and you don't have to match up your chronological age with a stereotype of how people that age are supposed to be. I mean, take care of yourself, don't hurt others, and work on making your life what you want it to be. And use your actual chronological age when interfacing with a system that uses chronological age — getting a driver's license, running for President, etc. But other than that, you're your own person. Don't let people push you around with act-your-age shaming.

Anyway... from the article (which I'm finally skimming):
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) attempted to address the issue of transition from pediatric care into adult care in a policy statement in 2017 and concluded “the age of transition” should be based not on a number but on the patient’s individual needs. The decision “should be made solely by the patient (and family, when appropriate) and the physician and must take into account the physical and psychosocial needs of the patient and the abilities of the pediatric provider to meet those needs,” the policy statement said. In addition, it said that ‘the establishment of arbitrary age limits on pediatric care by health care providers should be discouraged. Health care insurers and other payers should not place limits that affect the patient’s choice of care provider based solely on age.”...

Living at home and remaining on parents’ insurance policies aren’t the only reasons ­20-somethings stay with pediatricians. Medical advancements over the past decade are extending the life expectancy of those with chronic childhood illnesses, such as congenital heart issues, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia and diabetes, and the pediatricians who cared for children with these conditions sometimes remain with them as they get old....
And I want to criticize the Washington Post's illustration for its "26 years old but still sees a pediatrician" article (skillfully, charmingly rendered by Ery Burns):

The idea is, clearly, that the millennial is a snowflake. Now, what I think is interesting is that of course the generic snowflake millennial is a white male. Secondly, his snowflakitude is signaled by the playthings (presumably the stuff one encounters in a pediatrician's waiting room) but also by the colors he wears, notably pink pants. I've got a problem with the use of pink to say weak and childish. Pink is associated with females. It's a purplish pink and the jacket is purple. I think the message is: effeminacy. I reject the use of femininity to mean weakness and childishness.

What is the NYT's "massive unfunded liability" that Trump is tweeting about?

I see "Trump Hit With Fact-Check After Claiming New York Times Is ‘Losing A Fortune’/The president said the paper — which recently reported a spike in revenue and strong readership — would be 'out of business soon after I leave office'" (HuffPo), but that only addresses the question of whether the Times is losing money. ( A NYT tweeter says "Revenues up, subscriptions at a record high, profits at $37.9 million in the second quarter.") It says nothing about the "unfunded liability."

In finance and economics, a liability is a legal obligation of a person, organization or government entity to pay a debt arising from a past or current transaction or action. In brief, a liability is a claim on the debtor's current or future assets. An unfunded liability is a liability that does not have current or projected assets to cover the liability; therefore it is said to be unfunded.
I'm seeing the term most often used in reference to pension plans.

So... Trump is either bullshitting or saying something sophisticated about accounting. Or... what do you think?

What is Trump saying about the NYT and "massive unfunded liability"? Choose what you think is the most likely explanation: free polls