November 30, 2019

At the Juniper Café...

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... keep the conversation going.

And don't forget to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon when you're buying your various things.

"I knew that they were paper backs. They arrived on time, undamaged."

I was amused by this wan review — at Amazon — of "Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats (Modern Library Classics)":
I bought two copies of this book, one for myself and one for my grandson (only 5, but he was able to recite There was a naughty boy in front of his and another class at his school in Kent) they met expectations, I knew that they were paper backs. They arrived on time, undamaged.
I was buying the book for myself, after Keats came up in that post today about the "Midwestern zest for consensus." You remember, I was researching the word "zest" and got to that fantastic Keats poem with the magnificent "zest"/"breast" rhyme ("O! let me have thee whole,—all—all—be mine!/That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest /Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine/That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast"). I decided I wanted to read more text at that high level.

I bought the Kindle version, so I didn't need to worry — like that man in Kent — about the thing arriving damaged. I read his review because he gave it 4 stars, and I was curious why anyone would give something like this other than 5 stars. I still don't know why he marked it down. Because it only met but did not exceed expectations? Because he doesn't really like paperbacks, but that's what it was. He knew it, but still.

One person gave the book only 1 star. The review: "Front cover torn, 25+ pages dog eared and back cover folded on itself." Did not meet expectations!

Anyway, maybe you have a 5 year old who can memorize "There was a naughty boy." That link goes not to Amazon but to Poetry by Heart, a great resource for those — including children — who want to commit poetry to memory. Kids start here.

Who's the Mr. Rogers of the presidential race?

Earlier this morning, we considered whether it was Pete Buttigieg.



But, here, Elizabeth Warren is vying for the title:

The malarkey.


ALSO:

"Sure, Trump has been consumed by the impeachment proceedings, popping off daily, if not hourly, about what he dubs a 'hoax.' But..."

"... he and his aides also have staged photo opportunities and public events designed to showcase the president on the job — a strategy one year out from the election to convince the American people that he is hard at work for them at the same time that Democrats are trying to remove him from office. 'I’m working my ass off,' Trump told a thunderous rally crowd of roughly 20,000 on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla. He added: 'The failed Washington establishment is trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you and because we’re winning. It’s very simple.'... Trump interrupted his Thanksgiving vacation here in Florida with a 36-hour trip to Afghanistan, where he... rallied about 1,500 uniformed military personnel packed into a hangar at Bagram.... Lacking a bevy of big achievements of late, Trump has striven to make a show of whatever he can. On Monday, he invited journalists into the Oval Office to observe him signing the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act...."

From "Trump’s photo op play: Facing impeachment, the president strives to look hard at work" by Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.

All right, then, I'm thinking this is about 10 more articles of impeachment. Everything he does he does as a political ploy. We know what's in his head! That Ukraine call had no legitimate purpose. Impeach! And if he goes to Afghanistan, it's just for a rally, a trick to look like he's doing the job of being President. Impeach! We're onto his game — striving to look hard at work. These seeming accomplishments are nothing but an anti-impeachment campaign, a re-election campaign. Personal interest, not national interest. It's impeachable all the way down. He doesn't give a damn about suffering animals. He just figures animals are popular, so he poses as a benefactor of animals.

Speaking of popular, you know who was popular? Bill Clinton, back when he was getting impeached. Trump "recently met... with former Clinton strategist Mark Penn, who counseled the president to focus on governing and travel frequently." That's what Clinton did when he was impeached. But "Clinton had a built-in advantage that Trump does not enjoy: popularity." Sorry, Trump, you're not popular. Whatever you do will be used against you.

ADDED: From the comments at WaPo: "Does he take Barbie with him everywhere he goes? He rails against Hunter Biden being on a board in Ukraine because of Joe Biden's connections, yet Ivanka is stuck to him like glue, and we taxpayers are paying for every perk she gets. DISGUSTING!!"/"He's grooming her for 2024, god forbid"/"Silicone barbie has the personality (and brains) of a doormat; she's not going anywhere."

It wasn't an "honest mistake"...

As long as I'm on the subject of Newsweek's attitude toward Trump, let me give you this. (Jessica Kwong is the Newsweek reporter who wrote the Trump-trashing Thanksgiving article — "HOW DID TRUMP SPEND THANKSGIVING? TWEETING, GOLFING..." — that needed updating when his trip to Afghanistan came to light.)

"Donald Trump Campaign Disputes Claim that Photo of President as Rocky Balboa Was 'Doctored.'"

Says Newsweek, and I hope they know they're being funny, but they seem to have a hard time acknowledging that the Trump side of this is funny.

WaPo was dumb enough to tweet, "Trump tweets doctored photo of his head on Sylvester Stallone’s body, unclear why." Most responses seemed to be laughing at WaPo for saying that what was obviously photoshopped was "doctored" — as if something hard to detect and sneaky was going on.

But Team Trump was witty enough to say, "Washington Post claims - without evidence - that @realDonaldTrump shared a 'doctored' photo."

That's not — as Newsweek imagines — a dispute of WaPo's "claim" that the photo did not show the real body of Donald Trump. It's making fun of WaPo for saying what didn't need to be said.

I believe it is also intended as mockery of the use of the phrase "without evidence" in reports on the impeachment hearings. I was just blogging about that little journalistic trick, back on November 11th. A NYT article — "What Joe Biden Actually Did in Ukraine" — said "Mr. Giuliani has claimed, without evidence, that Mr. Biden’s push to oust Mr. Shokin was an attempt to block scrutiny of his son’s actions...." I wrote:

Last year's comedy is this year's seriousness.

The desperation is showing.


ADDED: Here's Tulsi on Joe Rogan's show justifying her going on Fox News:



If you want to watch the whole show, it's here. Very long. More than 2 hours. I've listened to most of it, and I'm really not terribly impressed by her. She has some big points, which she keeps making, and they don't really cohere. So often she says something that makes me think Joe is about to say, "Then why isn't Trump right?" He comes close a few times. He's cagey. He wants to make sure everyone knows he is against Trump, but he's putting pro-Trump ideas out there, whether he means to or not.

"[Y]ou could classify Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders as the pugilists in the field, whereas Mr. Buttigieg, he of the earnest manner and Midwestern zest for consensus, fashions himself a peacemaker."

I'm trying to read "2020 Democratic Candidates Wage Escalating Fight (on the Merits of Fighting)/For all the emphasis placed on the various divides among the candidates, the question of 'to fight or not to fight' might represent the most meaningful contrast" by Mark Leibovich (NYT).

I have a little trouble with "Midwestern zest for consensus."

I don't think these coastal elites who characterize midwesterners know much at all about them/us. (Should I say "us"? I've only lived in Madison, Wisconsin, a special island in the sea of the midwest, and I didn't begin living here until I was 33 years old, past my formative years, which were spent in Delaware and New Jersey, but I did grow up with a midwestern mother, though her midwest was that other college town, Ann Arbor, and I did go to college in my mother's midwestern hometown.)

It's partly my annoyance at the blithe stereotype of midwesterners as blandly nice. Is that even true? And what is this interest in superficial getting along really about? Would it really make you want a leader who acts like that too, or would you want a leader who's willing to take on the hard fighting that you won't do yourself?

Anyway... "zest" bothers me too. "Zest for consensus" — seems like too wacky a state of mind to be present throughout an entire region.

The original meaning of "zest" is the outer peel of a citrus fruit, the bright-colored part that you use to make a "twist" for a drink or grate into some dessert recipe. From there comes the figurative meaning: "Something which imparts excitement, energy, or interest; a stimulating or invigorating quality which adds to the enjoyment or agreeableness of something... Enthusiasm for and enjoyment of something, esp. as displayed in speech or action; gusto, relish" (OED). Here's the highest peak of usage, from John Keats:
O! let me have thee whole,—all—all—be mine!
That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine,
That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,
Yourself—your soul—in pity give me all,
Withhold no atom’s atom or I die
Or living on perhaps, your wretched thrall,
Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
Life’s purposes,—the palate of my mind
Losing its gust, and my ambition blind!
Compare the zestiness of consensus to the zestiness of a warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast. Oh, no! This just popped up in my head:



There's your million-pleasured breast. There's your pugilist in the field.

ADDED: Can you beat the fighter with the nonfighter? There's this fantasy that what we need now is Mr. Rogers and that Pete Buttigieg is Mr. Rogers....



(That's just one of many articles you'll find if you google Buttigieg is Mr. Rogers.)

Brandishing a narwhal tusk to fight the London Bridge terrorist.

The terrorist was armed with a knife, and the narwhal tusk was 5 feet long, I'm reading in "Narwhal tusk and fire extinguisher used to tackle London Bridge attacker/Members of the public, including a convicted murderer, bring terrorist to the ground" (The Guardian).
Scotland Yard is investigating how 28-year-old Usman Khan was able to launch the attack in London Bridge, despite being known to the authorities and fitted with an electronic tag to monitor his movements. He was allowed out a year ago after serving time for his part in a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange.

In footage that has since emerged, Khan is sprayed with a fire extinguisher, while another man tries to suppress the assailant with a narwhal tusk – a long pointed tooth from a type of whale – lunging at him. It is believed the item was pulled from the wall of Fishmongers’ Hall, a grade II-listed building on London Bridge, by a Polish chef called Lucasz....
ADDED: I'm re-reading "Moby-Dick," so let me give you the chapter on the narwhal:

The NYT has a list of "The 10 Most Influential Films of the Decade" and, wow, is it depressing.

You've got an entire decade. When I think of the films of the 1960s or 1970s, there's such a strong feeling of a vibrant culture, a specific time that we've lived through. But what's this past decade? We're going to be getting a lot of lists like this, and I'm afraid it's going to be sad. Maybe it's because the decade had no name. It's been the what?

Soon, we'll have a named decade: We'll be living in The Twenties! But what has this last decade been? Unlike the decade before it, we didn't even try to think of a name. At least with 2000-2009, people talked about calling it the aughts or the naughts or the ohs, but we just dropped the whole idea of referring to the decade when we got to 2010-2019. It was the decade we didn't bother to think of as anything at all, and I think these decade-ending lists are going to show that something was missing.

I'm reading "The 10 Most Influential Films of the Decade (and 20 Other Favorites)/Our co-chief film critics say these were the films of the 2010s that made a difference in the world of entertainment and beyond" in The New York Times. What film mattered?!

According to the NYT, what mattered included "The Avengers." Why? "It heralded the dominance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where we all now live whether we like it or not." Speak for yourself, NYT film critics. I don't "live" there, and even if I did, I wouldn't care about dominance heralding. What kind of crazy fascist talk is that? I don't know. Maybe if I'd been watching those movies, I'd be into the heralding of dominance, but my uncontaminated brain considers that ridiculous bullshit, at best. At worst, it's dangerous, despicable cultural rot.

Another peak of influence in the Decade With No Name is "Frozen." Why? Because the lead character, Elsa, "announced the might of the female." It's all about heralding dominance for these critics!

Then there's "Get Out," but no, that movie didn't herald the dominance of black people. It was "a ferocious rebuke to the (white) canard that the Obama era had ushered in a post-racial United States." I note that the NYT film critics can't say that "Get Out" heralded the dominance of white people, because you don't herald the dominance of white people. You ferociously rebuke the white people for dominating.

The domination that NYT film critics celebrate movies for heralding is the dominance of "the female" and "the Marvel Cinematic Universe." See? It's depressing! Mattering in the Decade With No Name is a shallow business of seeing who's dominating.

The dawn run in the 35° rain.

1. A little colder — with snow — would be warmer — emotionally — but I celebrate diversity — not just in human beings but in the inanimate aspects of nature.

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2. It's built into this sunrise running project that some days will have more brilliance and pleasing comfort. You've got to value the full range, perhaps think of a morning like this in terms of "subtle nuance." I put that in quotes not for sarcasm but because I thought of the phrase at the time — I'm quoting my brain — and "subtle nuance" really did help me enjoy the experience. I thought of the analogy to human personalities: Today is an introvert.

3. My AirPods were dead, so I had to run — not in silence — in the sound — the subtle nuance sound — of nature. The raindrops were tiny and soundless. A little rustling wind. Some duck quacking. I think of the music as giving energy, making the run easier, but oddly enough, it was easier without the podded-in music. There was a mindless, timeless feeling. The songs mark out time and they have words that release old memories and draw me into elaborate ideas.

4. There was the sound of conversation — some, not all of the time. I mentioned the idea you see there in point #3, and Meade said something that made me say, "Thoughts meander like a restless wind..."

5. And then there was the sound of singing, not me, but Meade, not "Across the Universe," but "And I'm proud to be an American/Where at least I know I'm free/And I won't forget the men who died/Who gave that right to me...." I said, "Oh, no, you're going to blow my cover," meaning: Remember where you are and be discreet. In fact there was one other runner coming down the path. But don't worry, he said, she's wearing "ear tampons" (i.e., AirPods).

6. If you're going to sing "Proud to be an American," then you ought to sing "You Can't Always Get What You Want." And Meade sang out his version:
I saw her today at the convention
A glass of Miller Lite in her hand
I knew she wanted to make a connection
At her feet was a socialist man
No, you can't always get Bernie Sanders
You can't always get sleepy Joe Biden
You can't always get Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren
But if you try sometime, you'll find
You get Donald Trump...
7. No one heard that, no one but me, and we made it back to the car without getting our fair share of abuse.

8. Driving home, we had to stop for turkeys — a dozen turkeys making their way across the road. What are they doing here? Why are they not eaten? I rolled down the car window and congratulated them: "Good work! You made it! Thumbs up!"

9. The turkeys survived Thanksgiving and their mindless crossing of the road, we survived the trip home from the sunrise run, and words are flowing out like endless rain, so I'll stop this list at 9.

November 29, 2019

At the Friday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

And please consider doing your shopping through the Althouse Portal to Amazon. It's a great way to show your appreciation for this blog!

"I’d rather be in Auschwitz than New York City." Pause. "I mean now, not when it was open."

Said Louis C.K., quoted in "Louis C.K. tells Israeli crowd ‘I’d rather be in Auschwitz than New York City.'"
The funnyman reportedly conceded in Israel that he had masturbated in front of female fans, which he admitted was wrong, and doesn’t recommend doing.

"If they say ‘yes,’ then still don’t do it, because it’s not popular,” he joked....

My TikTok selections of the day,

1. In case you need to be convinced that climbing a tree is not a way to escape from a bear:



2. 2 examples of a woman who can't see the person she's looking at:


"Trump impeachment drive has similarities to Wisconsin recall."

ABC News is just noticing.

I don't need a refresher on the Wisconsin uprising against Scott Walker, but the key similarities lie in the future. After Walker-haters stormed their way to a recall election, they not only lost the recall, they lost the next regular election.

The ABC article tells us:
Walker ultimately won the recall election in June 2012, becoming a conservative hero on his way to a short-lived run for president in 2015. In a testament to Wisconsin’s political division, just five months after Walker won the recall vote, Obama cruised to victory in Wisconsin on his way to reelection....
Yeah, but Walker won his next election. That fact is tucked away in the article, here:

"Cell phones, hotspots and any other devices emitting a signal were confiscated from everyone traveling on Air Force One — yes, even the president himself."

"But his staff ensured tweets would be sent from Trump’s Twitter account so Trump-watchers wouldn’t get suspicious that the normally Twitter-obsessed president wasn’t tweeting — like they did last year. And this time, 12 of the 13 journalists who traveled with Trump — representing news wires, print and broadcast outlets — were picked up on the roof of a public parking garage near Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington and not even told where they were traveling until just before they arrived in Afghanistan. Trump secretly slipped out of Mar-a-Lago earlier that evening and departed from an undisclosed airport on a flight a little after 7 p.m. Wednesday. The 13th journalist on the Afghanistan trip — a television correspondent — was aboard that flight and described it in a pool report as 'bare-bones, except for four blue leather chairs and a moderately fancy port-a-potty that had been brought in for the occasion.' Trump greeted the crew of that plane and even stayed in the cockpit for takeoff, the pool report said. The presidential aircraft that Trump had flown to Florida a day earlier remained parked at Palm Beach International Airport, allowing travelers to see the modified blue-and-white 747 aircraft known around the globe as Air Force One. That was a decoy. Secretly, a twin plane also used as Air Force One was hidden inside a cavernous hangar at Joint Base Andrews — instead of being lit up on the tarmac as usual — allowing the president to clandestinely hop on a flight without the public catching on...."

From "Behind Trump’s secret war-zone trip: A Mar-a-Lago escape, a twin Air Force One and a Twitter plan/The president gave his thanks to the troops in a visit to Afghanistan shrouded in secrecy and packed with the displays of military strength Trump loves" (Politico).

"Go to the meat-market of a Saturday night and see the crowds of live bipeds staring up at the long rows of dead quadrupeds."

"Does not that sight take a tooth out of the cannibal's jaw? Cannibals? who is not a cannibal? I tell you it will be more tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a lean missionary in his cellar against a coming famine; it will be more tolerable for that provident Fejee, I say, in the day of judgment, than for thee, civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras. But Stubb, he eats the whale by its own light, does he? and that is adding insult to injury, is it? Look at your knife-handle, there, my civilized and enlightened gourmand, dining off that roast beef, what is that handle made of?—what but the bones of the brother of the very ox you are eating? And what do you pick your teeth with, after devouring that fat goose? With a feather of the same fowl. And with what quill did the Secretary of the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Ganders formally indite his circulars? It is only within the last month or two that that society passed a resolution to patronize nothing but steel pens."

From Herman Melville, "Moby-Dick."

Powdered sugar snow at dawn.

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Time, 7:12. Actual sunrise time, 7:06.

Poppy Noor at The Guardian says "Trump posted a picture of himself as Rocky. No one knows what to make of it."

Link, collecting Twitter snark about the pic.

But "no one" is a strong statement. Really? Did no one know what to make of it. I could tell you what I made of it, but it's simpler and more impressive to just look at what the Hong Kong protesters are making of it. They're carrying and flaunting big posters of that picture. The link goes to the New York Post, which says that "President Trump is Hong Kong’s sudden hero":
Hours after he signed two bills to support human rights in Hong Kong, angering Chinese government officials, pro-democracy protesters in the beleaguered city held a “Thanksgiving Rally” Thursday night to commend him for taking the action. And front and center at the rally were printouts of the president’s Wednesday tweet showing his head on Rocky Balboa’s chiseled body.
That image is like a MAGA hat, but already fully distributed on the web. Anyone can print it out and have their poster to display, and it's obvious that anyone who sees Trump as a hero can vividly (and with fun good humor) express that emotion. It works especially well in a crowd (as you can see in the photograph of the Hong Kong protesters at the the NY Post link).

The immediate deployment of the photo in such an appealing, effective way makes the Guardian's collection of I-don't-know-what-to-make-of-it snarkers seem obtuse and wet-blanket-y.

Betrayed by dogface.

"I think there’s the potential for the whole range of human emotions, right from humiliation when you give someone a gift. It’s important to us how others feel about our behavior and how it comes across."

Said a psychologist, quoted in "Millennials Want To Ban Secret Santa Because It Gives Them Anxiety" (The Daily Wire).

I'm tired of the reflexive attacks on "snowflake" millennials. Save it for when they really deserve it. Feeling bad about "Secret Santa" events at work is not some special new problem. It's always made people feel bad! I've only been stuck inside one of these things once in my life, and it was way back in the 1970s. It was bad then and it's still bad. I'll bet there are episodes of "The Office" about Secret Santa parties that made everyone — Boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials — feel bad. I don't know, and the reason I don't know is that office stuff like that makes me feel so bad that I cannot enjoy watching a sitcom about it. And this is leftover bad feeling from the 1970s. Millennials want to ban Secret Santa because it gives them anxiety?! Everyone wants to ban Secret Santa because it gives them anxiety. Now, that's hyperbole, so don't tell me you like Secret Santa. Obviously, some people like it. I'm sure on "The Office" there are episodes that reveal what kind of people like Secret Santa and take the lead in making sure the horrible festivity is perpetuated.

Okay, I looked it up. There is a "Secret Santa" episode of "The Office," Season 6, Episode 13. I'm not going to watch it.

For Kamala Harris, it wasn't "The Truths We Hold." It was The Truths We Polled.

From the NYT article — discussed at greater length in the previous post — about how Kamala Harris's campaign "unraveled." I've got to break this out for a closer look:
Then there was Ms. Harris’s campaign message. Extensive polling led her to believe that there was great value in the word “truth,” so she titled her 2019 memoir “The Truths We Hold” and made a similar phrase the centerpiece of her early stump speech: “Let’s speak truth.” But she dropped the saying out of a belief that voters wanted something less gauzy. 
Gauzy! Is truth gauzy? No, but just using the word "truth" doesn't convey a serious grounding in truth.

And apparently, that "truth" bullshit was never serious. It was just something that polled well.

For Kamala Harris, it wasn't "The Truths We Hold." It was The Truths We Polled.

ADDED: If "truth" didn't work, how about lies? How do lies poll? Well, the truth is, lies poll really well, if you have the right lie. You wouldn't use the word "lie." The word "lie" is just as abstract as the word "truth," but only "truth" comes across as "gauzy," because only truth is presented to the people in abstract form. To base your campaign on lies, you have to be specific! And the truth is, the claim that you're basing your campaign on truth is itself a lie.

ALSO: The NYT deployed the word "gauzy" against John Kerry in 2004:
Mr. Kerry has for the most part avoided harsh political attacks on the president, instead emphasizing his expansive plans and offering gauzy-sounding talk of sunrises and grabbing onto dreams.
Blogging that — in the first year of this blog — I said: "You know how gauze sounds, don't you? In fact, some folks would rather listen to "a thin, loosely woven surgical dressing" than the Senator's drone."

Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have a front-page article today about how the Kamala Harris campaign is failing.

At The NYT, it unraveled: "How Kamala Harris’s Campaign Unraveled/Ms. Harris is the only 2020 Democrat who has fallen hard out of the top tier of candidates. She has proved to be an uneven campaigner who changes her message and tactics to little effect and has a staff torn into factions."

At WaPo, it fizzled:



The internal headline is "Harris faces uphill climb amid questions about who she is."
At first, Harris pitched herself as the candidate “speaking truth” and asserted that she alone would talk candidly about the nation’s problems, including racism, sexism and gun violence. But she tiptoed around specific aspects of her record, which undermined the truth-talk, as did equivocations on Medicare-for-all and other policies....

Harris has... been hindered by the internal dynamics of her campaign, which is run by her sister, Maya, along with longtime advisers and their partners in a California-based consulting firm. Multiple people in and around the campaign described competing power centers and said it’s unclear who, exactly, is in charge....

Maya Harris, whose political leanings developed in liberal activist circles, advocated a more apologetic posture to appeal to criminal justice advocates and black activists — and has tried to pull her sister further left, according to multiple campaign staffers and longtime Harris allies. Other advisers opposed that approach, wondering what Harris could offer to voters if not her criminal justice résumé, and suggested she trumpet it. Initially, they settled somewhere in between, using her record as a prosecutor to explain her experience but not necessarily leaning on it as a staple of her pitch....
Is the sister— the campaign chairwoman — the biggest problem?! From the NYT:

November 28, 2019

At the Thanksgiving Café...

DAF04C89-43DF-468D-BEFA-8D53164E714C_1_201_a

... you can keep the conversation going.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The photo was taken at 7:03 this morning. The actual sunrise time was 7:08.

President Trump visits the troops in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving.



NYT: "President Trump paid an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to American troops here on Thursday and said that he had restarted peace negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after he scuttled talks with the group. 'The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,' Mr. Trump said here during a meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani. 'We’re going to stay until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly,' said Mr. Trump... Mr. Trump made his first visit to Afghanistan under a shroud of secrecy, arriving in a darkened airplane just after 8:30 p.m. local time on a trip that the White House had concealed from his public schedule for security reasons."

Donald Trump Jr. gets in on the travel shaming... as a joke, presumably.


ADDED: I'm reading the responses. There's this:

"In keeping with the spirit of our show, last week we invited someone from the other side of the debate, Posie Parker, a gender-critical ex-feminist, to give us her perspective."

"The discussion was equally productive even though her take on some issues seemed a bit intransigent to us. We pushed back on a number of her arguments. The discussion was civil, entertaining, funny and informative... However, 24 hours later we received a notification informing us that the video had been deleted by YouTube because it constituted 'hate speech that incites hatred or violence.'... In the ensuing storm of complaints from our fans and neutral observers, YouTube appear to have caved to social media pressure and reinstated the video.... The reality revealed by this incident is that the big tech giants answer to no one. While there is a formal right of appeal, the tech giants of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube act as judge, jury and executioner. In many cases, the decision is made by automated algorithms and then superficially reviewed by faceless apparatchiks. We weren’t told which aspects of our video were 'hate speech' and, beyond throwing around this catch-all term, no justification was offered for taking it down. In essence, YouTube is accountable to no one. The libertarian argument that YouTube is owned by a private company which is entitled to police content as it wishes is no longer sustainable. We live in a digital world in which a handful of big tech companies have seized control of the public square. As I have argued before, we need a First Amendment for the Internet...."

From "YouTube Censored My Interview With Posie Parker," by Konstantin Kisin.

Here's the interview:

I'm reading "Are There Benefits to Intermittent Fasting?" in The New York Times.

Subtitle: "The best diet is the one where you are healthy, hydrated and living your best life. If you want to fast, it offers similar weight-loss benefits to just cutting calories." And I'm not at all impressed by the science — quotes from a couple nutrition professors who say that fasting is nothing more than another way to restrict total calories. But I do love this comment, from someone who adopts the old Marcel Duchamp pseudonym "R. Mutt"* and says he's in Timbuktu (aren't we all?):
Interesting article but as others have stated it focuses more on the weight loss benefits and not on the many other aspects of fasting. Our bodies and metabolisms have evolved to deal with a continuous cycle of feast or famine ... if it is all one or the other we will have problems. Living in an age where near unlimited access to an abundant supplies of food (both good and bad) encourages overeating and unfortunately if you live in a neighbourhood with limited access to a good grocery store you will be forced to eat mostly processed foods. The quality of what you are eating while doing an intermittent fast is a crucial component. I am lucky to have access to healthy food and have for most of my life incorporated different approaches to fasting into my day and have come to realize that as we age our metabolism slows and we must adjust our diet accordingly. I am only eating one nice healthy meal a day and feel great; have lost weight, more energy and clarity of mind, skin is feeling and looking better, senses mental clarity have been heightened, less aches and pains ... that's good medicine. I am also physically active which is another important component in the overall feeling of well-being. A fasting couch potato in my opinion would probably not reap the same benefits. It's not rocket science ... whether intermittent fasting or not, listen to your body and adjust your eating habits accordingly. And please remember to "stop eating all the time" guys ;-)
Hey! I'm writing about fasting on Thanksgiving! Why not fast for Thanksgiving? I see — also in The New York Times — "The Horrible History of Thanksgiving/Before you fill your plate, please remember why we mark this day," by Charles Blow, who says:
I spent most of my life believing a gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving, thinking only of feasts and family, turkey and dressing.

I was blind, willfully ignorant, I suppose, to the bloodier side of the Thanksgiving story, to the more honest side of it.

But I’ve come to believe that is how America would have it if it had its druthers: We would be blissfully blind, living in a soft world bleached of hard truth. I can no longer abide that.
Well, hell, how can you feel that bad and have it just be step 1, before step 2, "fill your plate"? No plate for you! How can you be all "I can no longer abide" and proceed to the piles of turkey and high-carb side dishes? It reminds me of Lewis Carroll's walrus:
"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
Whether we can expiate all of America's sins by fasting on the feasting day, I don't know. I doubt it.
"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear...
The Walrus was weeping over the great quantities of sand on the beach. He cared! He mused, and he went about his way, doing everything he wanted. But he still cried all the while. Wasn't that good of him?

How about fasting for Thanksgiving? Will you join me? If R. Mutt is right, we may get some "clarity of mind" and an "overall feeling of well-being." Ah, that sounds to good for us! Better to cry and simultaneously stuff your face. That's the new American tradition.
_____________________

* It's the famous signature that made a urinal art:



Duchamp explained:
Mutt comes from Mott Works, the name of a large sanitary equipment manufacturer. But Mott was too close so I altered it to Mutt, after the daily cartoon strip "Mutt and Jeff" which appeared at the time, and with which everyone was familiar. Thus, from the start, there was an interplay of Mutt: a fat little funny man, and Jeff: a tall thin man... I wanted any old name. And I added Richard [French slang for money-bags]. That's not a bad name for a pissotière. Get it? The opposite of poverty. But not even that much, just R. MUTT.
You remember "Mutt and Jeff":

"These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them."

Said Gordon Sondland, quoted in "Multiple Women Recall Sexual Misconduct and Retaliation by Gordon Sondland/Three women recall Sondland made unwanted sexual contact in business settings. One says he exposed himself. All recall professional retaliation after they rejected him. Sondland denies the allegations" (ProPublica).

Why are these stories coming out now rather than earlier, when Sondland first appeared on the scene and seemed to be offering important anti-Trump testimony? If this is not a "concocted" or at least "coordinated" attack done for "political purposes," then why were these complaints withheld until after it appeared that Sondland helped Trump?

Trying to tear Sondland down this way — at this time — has the effect of bolstering the pro-Trump aspects of his testimony. It makes one think that Sondland's testimony was very damaging to the case for impeachment (that's why there's scrambling to discredit him and to warn others away from helping Trump). Moreover, it might — for some observers — reinforce the belief that the impeachment drive has been unfair — procedurally irregular and aggressive, a witch hunt.

I have no opinion on whether what the women are saying is true. I'm just talking about the timing and the politicalization of accusations of sexual misconduct.

November 27, 2019

At the Dark Blue Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

And if you're buying things, please think of using the Althouse Portal to Amazon. That link is always at the top of the sidebar, and it's the easiest way for you to support this blog.

Men in shorts.


"The reality is that Barr is... marketing apocalyptic hogwash because, for his boss to get re-elected, Trump’s supporters must continue to believe..."

"... that liberals and the Democratic Party are the embodiment of evil, determined to destroy the American way of life. Relentless pressure to maintain the urgency of that threat is crucial to Trump’s political survival. It is embedded in the president’s rhetoric, core to his manic ambition and essential to his re-election strategy. The unanswered question is whether it is necessary not only to bolster Trump’s at once inflated and fragile ego, but also for the continued competitive strength of the Republican Party. Based on the evidence before us now, it certainly seems that it is."

Those are the last few lines of "Liberals Do Not Want to Destroy the Family/Or society, for that matter. How did this preposterous idea leap to the forefront of conservative thinking?" by Thomas Edsall (NYT). He's reacting to the recent speech in which Barr railed against "licentiousness — the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good."

I'm too jaded to take any of that seriously. Don't liberals also rail against "the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good"? And don't Democrats, to get elected, seem to think people must believe that the GOP is the embodiment of evil, determined to destroy the American way of life?

"I was OK with this article until they got to talking about overweight women. The body shaming needs to stop! I'm shocked that WaPo allows this type of research to be discussed."

"I agree with you. Some folks would consider me to be obese because I carry a lot of 'junk in the trunk' like Kim Kardashian, but I also get a lot of compliments and I have no intention of changing my eating habits."

2 comments on the WaPo article "‘There’s something terribly wrong’: Americans are dying young at alarming rates," which looks at various factors, including obesity:
The average woman in the United States today weighs as much as the average man half a century ago, and men now weigh about 30 pounds more. Most people in the United States are overweight — an estimated 71.6 percent of the population age 20 and older, according to the CDC. That figure includes the 39.8 percent who are obese, defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher in adults (18.5 to 25 is the normal range). Obesity is also rising in children; nearly 19 percent of the population age 2 to 19 is obese....
That's hardly leaning on the women. Those commenters seem to have a hair trigger on the topic of female fat.

"In 2016, I hated both [candidates]... I went with Hillary because Trump had no history as a politician. He’s not exactly the person I’d have as my best friend..."

"But he’s a great president. Most politicians just talk about doing things, but Trump does them."

Said Juli Anna California, 57, a nurse from Coral Springs, Florida, quoted in "They Voted Democratic. Now They Support Trump/Two-thirds of battleground state voters who chose Trump in 2016 but selected Democrats in the midterms say they will return to the president next year."

Yes, the headline is about voting for Trump twice and deviating to the Democrats in the 2018 midterms, but that doesn't describe what the person I'm quoting did. Much of the article is about how people vote against the party in power in the midterms (which can be seen as a preference for divided government). But I picked Ms. California as the one to quote because I too hated both candidates in 2016 and voted for Hillary because Trump was — as I would put it — too weird. As for 2020, I have no plans yet. I like to wait and see what happens. But clearly Trump is less weird now that he actually is President, and, oddly enough, he's caused Democrats to become quite weird.

"In [Peter] Berlin’s ideal world, we would abandon work and fulfill the horny needs of society."

"And to him, his image exemplifies what he believes to be our society’s sexual appetite. 'My wish didn’t come true that I would inspire people to the point where I see hundreds of Peter Berlins running around on the street. I don’t see one,' he says. In Berlin’s sexual utopia, we wouldn’t be 'desensitized' and 'robotic' but rather libidinous animals in tight white pants. When he looks at People’s 'Sexiest Man Alive,' he finds 'nothing hot about it,' he exclaims.... 'Who is a sex symbol for me?' he asks. 'There is none. There is only Peter Berlin … At one point I said to myself, "My God, I wish I would look like that," to my own picture.' He’d prefer that all of us believe the same about our own self-images, in a world of blatant sexuality."

From "Peter Berlin, Retired Gay Porn Star and Selfie Pioneer, Thinks You Work Too Much" (New York Magazine).

Here's his book "Peter Berlin: Icon, Artist, Photosexual."

I'm trying to understand the trending hashtag #PeteButtigiegCalledMe.


I click through to the article at The Root, which went up last night. It's written by Michael Harriot, who is described at The Root as "World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of 'it.' Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive." Harriot had written an article about Buttigieg — "Pete Buttigieg Is a Lying MF" — objecting to something Buttigieg said 8 years ago:

Look what Trump just tweeted 10 minutes ago!



When I saw this in my Twitter feed, the photograph was only partially showing, only the belt level. I had to click on it to make the full image appear. I laughed out loud. A lot.

ADDED: I don't know how many votes can be swayed, but what it looks like to me is that it's really fun and lots of laughs to be on Trump's side, and it's painful and infuriating to be against him.

IN THE COMMENTS: "Wince" connects this tweet to Trump's "gorgeous chest" discourse at last night's rally:

Outrebounded.

A strange word — blogged long ago — reappears today, in "Duke, the Nation’s No. 1 Team, Loses to Unranked Stephen F. Austin" (NYT)("the biggest upset in the N.C.A.A. in 15 seasons").

I don't really understand how the Lumberjacks won. I'm not a basketball person. But I see that they "were outrebounded, outassisted and outshot by Duke." And I am a language person, and "outrebounded" jumped right out at me as I know it did the last time I saw it, in March 2015, when I wrote "Outré basketball commentary of the day":
I'm not much of a sports person... [especially]...basketball. I want the Badgers to win everything, of course, but I'm a complete outsider to basketball.

So I have my outré commentary. 5 days ago, I called it "the indoor game with unusually large people — men in silky skorts — in a cramped, squeaky place." 2 days ago, I commented on the chairs:

What happened to Warren? Look at this peak and collapse:



The Democrats need somebody to run against Trump. Biden is the default, a kind of presumption in need of rebutting. Doesn't everyone know that it shouldn't be him? But you have to beat him with somebody, and for a while there, the idea was maybe it could be Warren. People imagined that, and have rejected it. Now they're setting up to test Buttigieg. Maybe it could be Buttigieg. The purple line is on the rise, but that just means people are beginning to visualize him as really actually getting the nomination and not just a fanciful idea that seems nice. The purple line will cross over the brown line soon, don't you think? But then won't the same thing happen again, collapse when it gets too real? And the good old green line will continue to prance along at the top.

About that man in Germany who died from bacteria transmitted by a dog's lick.

I'm noticing something in "A healthy man was licked by his dog. He was dead within weeks" (by Lateshia Beachum in The Washington Post). My first question was: Where did this happen? I get my answer in the 5th paragraph: Germany. It took 4 days in the hospital before they identified the cause of his symptoms:
After they ran the test that finally showed the Capnocytophaga canimorsus infection, doctors added another antibiotic and an antifungal treatment to the patient’s medical routine as some of his afflictions waned and others worsened. The treatment was too late.

Toward the end of his life, all of his extremities had gangrene and a CT scan showed that he had severe brain swelling with a lack of oxygen, according to the paper.

The man’s relatives made a mutual decision to reduce his treatment. He died after 16 days of care, according to doctors.
I added that boldface, and I want to highlight the treatment of recent cases in the United States:
Last year, a Wisconsin man lost his legs, hands and nose after contracting the same bacteria from his dog’s saliva. He’s walking again with the help of prosthetics, FOX 6 reported.

In July, an Ohio woman had both her arms and legs partially amputated after waking from a coma that was caused by C. canimorsus, Fox 8 Cleveland reported.
If the German man had received amputations and continued full-strength antibiotics, would he not still be alive? The real story here seems to be not that a dog's lick could kill you — the attention-getting scare headline — but that the readiness to solve medical problems with death varies from place to place.

ADDED: From place to place and from relative to relative.

ALSO: Here's the 3rd-highest-rated comment at WaPo:
Dear Conan the Dog,

PLEASE tell me you licked the President during your White House visit.

- A True Patriot

Of course, Trump's photo op with the hero dog was all wrong.

There's no way it could have been right, so the question only was which aspects of the op would journalists select in saying it was wrong.

I'm reading "How the White House ruined the hero dog," an opinion piece by Molly Roberts in The Washington Post. It will have to stand in for all the other hero dog stories in the anti-Trump press. (I'm writing a blog here and can't survey everything. I have my instinct, based on looking around, and I'm going to pounce on this one thing.)

Paragraph #1 identifies the main screwup, confusion about the sex of the dog that has — as Roberts puts it "garnered praise and plenty of pets." (There's that word, "garnered," here, alongside wan alliteration. I wish Roberts had worked harder and done the alliteration with "g" — something like "garnered goodly gobs of 'good girl!' greetings." You've got to convince us you alliterated on purpose. Accidental alliteration at the 3-word level needs editing.)

Now, the best thing about Trump's dog photo op was his comic banter:
“This is Conan, right now probably the world’s most famous dog,” President Trump announced. “It’s trained that if you open your mouth, you will be attacked... They were going to put a muzzle on the dog... but then it gets even more violent.... Conan is a tough cookie, and nobody’s going to mess with Conan... You’re very lucky, because he’s not in a bad mood today."
But Trump haters can fault that. The dog is a successful, trained killer, and it did something very serious. It's no joke. We should be somber about the killing we needed to do. It's not the time for a comedy routine. Maybe you could say that. But as a comedy routine, it was very funny. Trump's endless antagonism of the press took the form of suggesting that the dog — the trained dog — would attack them if he were simply "in a bad mood."

Roberts returns to the subject of the dog's sex. (Interestingly, the word "sex" does not appear in the article. To avoid that utterly apt but perhaps triggering word, Robert's sticks to the language of children: Is it a "boy" or a "girl," a "he" or a "she"?) The screwup is not even Trump's! You have to get to the 9th paragraph for the Trump-favoring concession: "President Trump, in other words, was right." Earlier the White House had communicated reporters that the dog was female, then, hours later, corrected it. The dog is male. After admitting that Trump was right all along, Roberts struggles to make it bad, conjuring up "plenty of people" to contain the feeling that there's still something wrong having to do with the sex... I mean boy-or-girlness of the dog:
Call them cynics, or call them skeptics, or call them everyday people stumbling around a landscape of dissimulation and conspiracy theories emitted from the highest echelons of government — but plenty of people didn’t really buy it.
I note the alliteration — "plenty of people." And the poetic imagery —  "a landscape of dissimulation." It's a bad image, because landscapes don't dissimulate. I guess she doesn't want to accuse the "everyday people" doing the dissimulation. They're just confused and trying to understand, so they are "stumbling." That puts them on a landscape. It's a stumble-producing landscape because "dissimulation and conspiracy theories" have been "emitted" onto it. Maybe what's been dropped from above — "from the highest echelons" — is like a heavy rain, gouging arroyos.
Was it really possible that an administration apparatchik had sent a girl dog into a memory hole from which it emerged a guy dog, purely to preserve the president’s ego? And should we freak out if the answer is yes?
Great questions! There really is no reason to feel confident that the dog shown is the actual dog and not some doggy double. Maybe there were several model dogs brought to the White House and the one that reacted the best to Trump, Pence, and Melania was selected, and it turned out to be a male rather than, as expected, the female. Or maybe Trump got to pick his favorite, and he's a male supremacist and insisted on the male.

Roberts concludes by saying that a dog story really ought to have brought us all together, but it didn't. Isn't that terrible? Well, it's 100% predictable. Trump wanted to do his photo op and it should have been something that brought us together. But how can you blame Trump if it didn't work?

November 26, 2019

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... keep the conversation going.

In which I select my favorite TikToks of the day.




"Critics of Mayor Pete’s demeanor don’t recognize that his persona reflects the consequence of living in the closet, or 'packing away his feelings,' as he put it...."

"Despite eventually coming out, getting married, and being the first openly gay man on the Democratic presidential primary stage, the coping mechanisms that he developed from being in the closet did not immediately vanish. When people criticize him for being calculated or robotic, I see the familiar traits of a gay man who had desperately tried to live in both worlds. Often, homophobia is easy to spot.... It’s harder to name the prejudice and discrimination when critics indict Mayor Pete for a deportment that he cultivated in order to survive. During Tuesday’s debate, one critic on Twitter suggested that someone should just give him another Boy Scout badge so he would sit down. But appearing as a Boy Scout was how he likely survived. It’s evidence of how he straddled a painful divide, of how he felt he was forced to choose one career and life over another. When critics make these gibes, they intend to be clever, even humorous—but what they don’t realize is that they are attacking the shields that many gay men have fortified to defend themselves. And when other gay men—ostensibly familiar with best little boys in their own circles—participate in the pile-on, they are unfortunately fueling a slippery kind of homophobia."

Writes Jim Downs in "Queer Like Pete/Buttigieg is getting slammed for being a type of gay man America doesn’t understand" (Slate).

"Biden Retakes Lead As Warren Plunges, Buttigieg Rises, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Voters Not Swayed By Impeachment Hearings."

Quinnipiac reports.
Biden receives 24 percent of the vote among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets 16 percent, Warren receives 14 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders gets 13 percent.... In an October 24 poll, Warren received 28 percent, Biden had 21 percent, Sanders was at 15 percent, and Buttigieg got 10 percent....
Trump's approval rating has improved since the October 23 poll. He's at 40%, as opposed to 38% last month. 54% disapprove now, and it was 58% last moth. So before it was a 20-point gap and now (after the impeachment hearings), it's only 14 points. And the opinion on impeachment has moved in Trump's direction:
While 45 percent of American voters think President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 48 percent don't think he should be. In an October 23 poll, 48 percent thought he should be impeached and removed and 46 percent didn't think so....

Today's "actual sunrise" happened at 7:04.

The most intense color came earlier, at 6:51:

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Here is the view of the state capitol at 6:59:

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At 7:08, the sun had obliterated all the red, magenta, and violet. It chose yellow and orange and tolerated the  blue:

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Pete Townshend pictures death as "a joyful moment of waking up one day and disappearing into dust."

From "The Who’s Pete Townshend grapples with rock’s legacy, and his own dark past" (NYT):
And, remember, “Tommy” ends with a prayer. A secular prayer to the universe celebrating the spirit of life, the value of suffering, the transformation of suffering into joy. And it’s a death, a hopeful transformation. I wish I were in Tommy’s shoes, in a joyful moment of waking up one day and disappearing into dust. I’m not quite there, and I don’t know whether I will get there. I’ve been waiting, and I’m pushing 75....

A hopeful transformation is what I wish for at the end of my life. I would be comfortable with wherever it was. Whether it would be turning to dust or falling into the hands of astral angels or finding myself at the gates of heaven and being turned away.
The last song in "Tommy" — what Townshend is calling a "secular prayer" — is "See Me, Feel Me." Lyrics here. I don't know that I ever thought of that song as Tommy's death. I've seen the movie "Tommy" and I don't remember how the ending was visualized. It's interesting to hear Townshend talking about it like that now.

It's fascinating to think of being comfortable with finding yourself "at the gates of heaven and being turned away." Perhaps just to know that there is a heaven even if it's not for you.

"Simpson and Fritsch acknowledge that several of Steele’s most sensational allegations remain unproven and that others were almost surely wrong... [but] 'a spy whose sources get it 70 percent right is considered to be one of the best'..."

"and... while reporters focussed on the most salacious details, they 'tended to miss the central message,' about which they say Steele was largely correct. They note that, in his first report, in June, 2016, Steele warned that Russian election meddling was 'endorsed by Putin' and 'supported and directed' by him to 'sow discord and disunity with the United States itself but more especially within the Transatlantic alliance'—six months before the U.S. intelligence community collectively embraced the same conclusion. Steele also was right, they argue, that 'Putin wasn’t merely seeking to create a crisis of confidence in democratic elections. He was actively pulling strings to destroy Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump,' an assessment the U.S. intelligence community also came to accept. And they note that, as of September, 2019, U.S. officials confirmed that the C.I.A. had 'a human source inside the Russian government during the campaign, who provided information that dovetailed with Steele’s reporting about Russia’s objective of electing Trump and Putin’s direct involvement in the operation.'"

From "The Inside Story of Christopher Steele’s Trump Dossier/In a new book, the founders of the firm that compiled it defend their work" by Jane Mayer (in The New Yorker).

About those "sensational allegations":

Prudish renters object to the "Picasso" "art work."

David Sedaris has a new story in The New Yorker, "Hurricane Season/On storms, repairs, and family." His beach house on Emerald Island in North Carolina was destroyed by hurricane Florence. The house next to it survived the storm, and that's his house too. His partner Hugh bought when it came on the market to prevent somebody else from tearing it down and putting up a McMansion. The house was purchased "with everything in it," but the artwork on the walls was horrible beach house junk, so Hugh, an artist, did some paintings for the house, reproductions of Picasso paintings, done at the level worthy of a professional forger. One of the paintings was "La Baignade," which looks like this...



You see the appropriateness: It's a beach scene.
Hugh did three others—all beach-related—and got a comment from a renter saying that, although the house was comfortable enough, the “art work” (she put it in quotes) was definitely not family-friendly. As the mother of young children, she had taken the paintings down during her stay, and said that if he wanted her to return he’d definitely have to rethink his décor. As if they were Hustler centerfolds!
Prudery is funny. It would be more interesting, though, if the objection had been feminist. Then it would be harder for New Yorker readers to look down on the humble renters. There's male gaze coming from that man out there in the water and you can say that the we see like him, with the women's bodies distorted and rearranged to suit his desires.

ADDED: I'm not saying the feminist analysis would be correct, only that someone doing feminist analysis could come up with a hostile interpretation. I can also see how you could claim this is a feminist painting, full of female empowerment and actively excluding the male gaze. That vulva is pointed away from him. His body is entirely covered by the water. And the women's elongated arms look like dangerous weapons.

November 25, 2019

At the Monday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"But in temperatures like this, you don’t die of the cold. You drown. Within the first five seconds your body goes into shock..."

"... it’s very difficult to breathe. The only thing I can do is count every stroke, 'One. Two. Breathe. Three. Four. Breathe.' It doesn’t get any better after that. As the cold envelops you, it gnaws at your muscles and they start seizing up. Stretching one arm in front of the other gets harder and harder because you’re shivering – everything feels strained. I’m only wearing Speedos, goggles and a cap; I don’t grease my body for insulation like long-distance sea swimmers usually do, because if a seal or a killer whale goes for me, my team could struggle to drag me to safety.... As I reached the last 150 metres of the swim, I went past a group of elephant seals basking on the shore. Six times the size of a polar bear, they’re slow on land but in the water they’re as slick as they are powerful...."

I'm reading "What it feels like to swim in sub-zero waters/Plunging into the ocean near Antarctica, Lewis Pugh was determined to push the limits of human endurance." It's in The Economist, so "sub-zero" is sub-zero centigrade. It was -3˚C, so only 26.6° Fahrenheit. He goes one "kilometre," and that's 0.6 of a mile. I think it would be easy to run 0.6 of a mile in a bathing suit when it's 26.6°, so it's that mysterious difference between air and water... that and the seals six times the size of a polar bear. But they were sunbathing, not swimming alongside.



That difference between air and water is, of course, huge. Here's the article "What is cold water?" and says water feels "quite cold" to most people when it's 70°. And "cold shock" — where you lose control of your breathing — reaches its "maximum intensity" between 60-50F (15-10C). But you can get past the cold shock. That's what you need to remember if you ever find yourself in that position. The Icelandic fisherman Gudlaugur Fridthorsson swam 6 hours in 41-43F (5-6C) water until he got to shore after a shipwreck that killed the 4 others on the boat. His advantage was obesity.

"Technically speaking, ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, meaning that it numbs your body and makes you feel apart from your environment — like you’re watching your own life happen..."

"... instead of living it. But that doesn’t begin to capture the weirdness of what it feels like to get high on K. As one friend put it to me: 'It’s like walking from your kitchen to your living room, and from your living room to your kitchen, and it’s uphill both ways, but you’ve never had so much fun walking up a hill.' It’s true that K can make both you and the world feel tilted — as if you’re walking on an underwater treadmill pitched at a 45-degree incline. Thought-trains jump their tracks, anxieties float off like helium balloons, and everything becomes silly and warped, like filming a movie through a camera with a fish-eye lens.... [K]etamine puts life on airplane mode. 'Phones aren’t really a thing when you’re on K... You’re creating an internal world. You’re not trying to reach out or engage with anyone but yourself and who you’re with.'... 'Everyone I knew was gone, but for some reason I was very complacent. I was just a ball of energy in a galaxy far far away, and from there I was kind of watching worlds and societies form in fast motion... Apparently I just said I’m out, good night, the world doesn’t exist, good-bye family.'... 'My theory is that ketamine is a response to the overabundance of information and the disengagement a lot of people have from the millennial job market, and now Trump, and seeing the world burn before our eyes'..."

From "A Party Drug for the End of the World" (title on the front page, inside it's "Leave Your Body at the Door How ketamine became the drug of choice for our dissociated moment") (New York Magazine).

"I don’t know if it’s the fact that my husband has voiced that sometimes too sexy is just overkill and he’s not comfortable with that."

"I listen to him and understand him. Still, at the end of the day, he always gives me the freedom to be and do what I want. But I have kind of had this awakening myself. I realized I could not even scroll through Instagram in front of my kids without full nudity coming up on my feed pretty much all the time. And I definitely contributed to that. I mean, one of my most iconic covers was the Paper magazine one, when I was all oiled up and ripping my dress off. I also did think, like, Okay, I’m here in the White House and then the next day I was posting, like, a crazy bikini selfie. And I was thinking, I hope they don’t see this. I have to go back there next week. I think I’m evolving to where I don’t feel the need to want to keep up. Not that I did it to feel like I had to keep up, but I guess I just don’t care as much anymore to want to take tons of photos in a thong bikini. I actually just want to lay out. I don’t care to take the time out of my day on vacation like I used to, where I’d pull up to the house and I’d see, This is a setup, this is an Instagram pic. Now this is a different setup. Oh, this place has so many different setups. This is going to be amazing. And now I’m just like, 'Let’s actually live in real time and enjoy it. If we happen to get a photo, great.'"

Said Kim Kardashian, asked about "dressing a little less sexy" and quoted in "In the 2010s, Fame Went Multi-Platform/Kim Kardashian West on life as a brand and her political awakening" (New York Magazine).

ADDED: It's funny that she speaking of "keeping up": "I don’t feel the need to want to keep up. Not that I did it to feel like I had to keep up..." This whole thing got started with the message to everybody else that we needed to be "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." It's a fascinating tell: She felt that she needed to keep up. Keep up with what? We were supposed to be keeping up with her. That says something about the emptiness and futility of the imagined race.

Why I'm laughing out loud 3 seconds after clicking on "This White Wisconsin County Has No Time for Trump."

Here's the Bloomberg article (at Yahoo Finance).

Why I'm laughing and why it took only 3 seconds. I click through with the #1 question, which county? I spotted the name of the county right away:
White voters were the key to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory. Their continued support for him is the main reason he is unlikely to be removed from office by impeachment. They are the foundation of his political support heading into 2020. Unless, of course, they live in Dane County, Wisconsin....
Ha ha ha! Dane County. My county! Well, duh, Madison, Wisconsin loathes Trump. Very funny, Bloomberg.
Dane County does not buy what Trump sells. About four in five residents of the county, which includes the state capital of Madison, are non-Hispanic white. Nationally, according to the U.S. Census, about 60 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white. The electorate in Dane is generally even whiter than the county’s general population. Yet in 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in Dane County by a margin of three to one.
Yeah, we're overwhelmingly white here, and we vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, over and over. It's a hotbed of liberalism. I'm surprised that Trump got even one in four votes around here. If you lived here, you'd wonder who the hell voted for Trump, not isn't it amazing that even though it's full of white people, Hillary Clinton trounced Trump.

Sometimes God chooses cancer.

July 22, 2015: "Rick Perry just gave an epic speech raging against Donald Trump and comparing him to a 'cancer'" (Business Insider).
"Let no one be mistaken - Donald Trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded," Perry said.... "It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world - the cause of conservatism.... [M]ost telling to me is not Mr. Trump's bombast, his refusal to show any remorse for his comments about Senator McCain, but his admission that there is not a single time in his life that he sought the forgiveness of God... A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God's forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House."
November 25, 2019: "Rick Perry says Trump is the 'chosen one' sent 'to do great things'" (The Hill).
"God's used imperfect people all through history. King David wasn't perfect. Saul wasn't perfect. Solomon wasn't perfect,” Perry said in the clip. “And I actually gave the president a little-one pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago and I shared it with him... I said, 'Mr. President, I know there are people that say you said you were the chosen one and I said, 'You were.’  I said, 'If you're a believing Christian, you understand God's plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government.'"
It's all in the plan, including cancer.

If you make it to the top, you're the chosen one, that time. As for John Adams, who prayed that a man like Trump would never occupy the White House (according to Perry), he must have been the chosen one in 1796 when he won the presidency, but being chosen once doesn't mean you'll be chosen twice, and he was not the chosen one when he ran for reelection in 1800. So even if you subscribe to this notion that the winner is necessarily the chosen one, it doesn't mean that "chosen one" Trump will win in 2020.

The plan is always a mystery until we see what happens.

What polls is he seeing? Is this just fantasy?

Actual sunrise time this morning was 7:03.

At 7:02...

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At 7:04...

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November 24, 2019

Sunrise this morning came at 7:02.

7:08 (eastern view):

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7:11 (western view)

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7:12 (eastern view):

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"I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America. We cannot afford four more years of President Trump’s reckless and unethical actions."

"He represents an existential threat to our country and our values. If he wins another term in office, we may never recover from the damage."

Said Michael Bloomberg, announcing his bid for the Democratic nomination, reported at AP.

Bloomberg is more than 10 times as rich as Trump — something like $50 billion, compared to $3 billion. He could spend a billion dollars of his own money and it would be a mere trifle to him. It's the amount Elizabeth Warren would confiscate for the government every year — 2%.

Bloomberg is the 11th richest person in the world. Trump is only 259th.

Bloomberg has plans to spend $100 million of his pocket change on internet ads attacking Trump. I'm eager to see these ads, because I'm so used to attacks on Trump, that I have a hard time imagining what an effective attack ad could be. But go ahead, Mayor, buy some ads. Meanwhile Trump puts up tweets that cost nothing, and that get more attention than any ad.

How many Twitter followers does Bloomberg have? 2.3 million, presumably people who already like him, not the audience he needs to win more support. I was going to start following him, and I almost unfollowed him, because I clicked what I thought was the "follow" button, and I was already following. I've never noticed his tweets. I've noticed Trump's tweets multiple times every day. Trump may have less money than Bloomberg but he has monumentally more Twitter volume.

"The fumie...were brass images, sometimes set in wooden boards, depicting either the Christ or Mary. Every single person that lived in Nagasaki was ordered..."

"... to go through the [annual] practice of stepping on the fumie.... 'It was an obligation, the commoners, the samurai, the Buddhist monks, even sick people couldn't miss it - they would bring the wooden board to their house. Every single person had to do this... It was quite well thought out because at the time, Christians relied a lot on images. People prayed in front of an image - Mary, Jesus - so many thought that part of the God was inside the image. It was a link to the divine... for them to tread upon this, was something very fearful.'... The Christians who refused to tread on the fumie were killed, or, more commonly, tortured. 'They would sometimes torture them by hanging them over a pit filled with excrement. They would cut slits around their temples to release [the pressure] so they wouldn't die'.... In 1858, the fumie practice was abolished in Nagasaki. In 1873, Japan's long ban on Christianity was finally lifted - more than two centuries after it was first put in place. 'When Japan opened up its borders again, around 20,000 Christians reappeared and came out of hiding,' said Mr Mullins. 'In that sense, the [fumie] policies were effective. You'd gone from around 500,000 to 20,000 Christians.'...  'It is only because some made an existential decision to trample on the fumie, despite their belief that this action was gravely sinful, that Christianity in Japan was able to survive.'"

From "The Japanese Christians forced to trample on Christ" (BBC). This article coincides with a visit to Nagasaki by Pope Francis.

"Hong Kong's opposition pro-democracy movement has made major gains in the Chinese territory's district council elections, local media reports say."

"It took 201 of the first 241 seats declared, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper. Pro-Beijing candidates took just 28. More than 2.9m people voted, a turnout of more than 71%, against 47% in 2015."

BBC reports.

I encounter one of the slow-moving robots of the University of Wisconsin.

Oh, I don't think he should have any dinner at all. Just send him to bed.

"The Queen has scrapped plans to host a party for Prince Andrew to mark his 60th birthday in February. Instead, the monarch is said to be arranging a small family dinner for the Duke..." (The Daily Mail).

Male TikTok versus Female TikTok.

It pains me to stereotype, but compare this...



... to this...

"People close to the president say his proclivity to retreat to the residence during work hours has built up over the course of his presidency...."

"Early in this presidency, Trump’s staff tried to nudge him out into the city more often for dinners or to attend events, but the plans always fell apart, said one of the former senior administration officials who called Trump a 'homebody.'...  Now he tends to go to the Oval Office and adjacent private dining room for five to six hours a day for formal meetings, lunches and ceremonial events, current and former administration officials say. But the bulk of his work in the mornings, late afternoons, evenings and weekends happens in his private quarters where Trump can call staff and advisers as early as 6 a.m. and up to midnight.... He also uses it during working hours as a place to watch TV freely, tweet and serve as own his one-man communications director and political strategist. The residence serves like a bunker for his impeachment response and his real-time reaction to testimony, witnesses and public hearings.... Trump also loves to open up parts of the private residence to special guests, personally taking them on tours of the Lincoln Bedroom where he’ll show off a copy of the Gettysburg Address. It’s a party trick he deployed in an attempt to wow German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a move he uses with a wide array of other White House visitors...."

From "Forget the Oval. The real Trump action is in the residence/Fixated on impeachment proceedings against him, Trump is increasingly taking his official business to the White House’s executive residence to escape perceived risks of his formal office space" (Politico).

What a lonely weirdo he is!



ADDED: The article suggests it would be better if he'd go out at night in Washington, go to restaurants, as if he could just go out to a place and it wouldn't shut everything down. He can't really get "out." He's in the bubble wherever he goes and cannot just go be a regular person somewhere. At most, he can try to put on a show of doing something a normal person would do, like go to 5 Guys for a cheeseburger....