February 15, 2020

At the Saturday Night Café...

... I hope you can find some topics to talk about!

"I imagine girls will drift back into not participating in competitive sports, which is the way it was when I was in high school. What's the point anyway?"

"The inability to win is just one more reason to say no to athletic competition. Yes, decades of encouragement will fail, but on the positive side, there will be no mean rejecting of transgenders. As we noncompetitive softies like to say: Everybody wins."

I wrote, over on Facebook, in a discussion thread started by my son John, who linked to an NBC story, "Girls sue to block participation of transgender athletes/The families of three female high school runners filed a federal suit seeking to block trans athletes in Connecticut from participating in girls sports."

One of the participants in the discussion pointed to his own essay, "The Discriminatory Costs of Preserving Women’s-Only Sports." Excerpt:
The past half century will be looked back on as the golden era of women's sport, where segregated categories gave women a chance to compete on a playing field that excludes men, transgender people and intersex people....  Eliminating gender restrictions would make sport... would have a crushing effect on women athletes, especially those who currently compete to earn a salary or a scholarship. In a gender-free meritocracy, almost every scholarship would go to men....  “Traditional” womens-only sport is at a confounding impasse: eliminate the restrictions to compete in an act of “inclusion as highest value” OR accept the necessity of discrimination in an attempt to protect the status quo. 
I remember the pre-Title IX days. I never considered participating in any sport or regarded any female athlete as an inspiration. My friends didn't do competitive sports. We hated gym class, and we were only interested in doing some simple calisthenics for the purpose of looking good. The gym teachers seemed to regard us as a worthless bunch, and I think they were vaguely amused, not terribly upset with our lack of competitive spirit.

Today, the pressure to be empathetic toward transgenders is so great that I believe women, known for our empathy and our desire to appear compassionate, will let go of competitive sports and return to the inclinations that dominated back in the days when I went to high school. It's a trade-off, a trade-off between the potential for athletic victory and the feeling of being kind and inclusive. The latter is something quite valuable and within the reach of all women. The former is a dream, and it's only a dream for an elite few among women.

UPDATE: More discussion here.

Find your thrill on Bloombergery Hill.

The fine print says:
Sources close to Bloomberg campaign tell DRUDGE REPORT that candidate is considering Hillary Clinton as running mate, after their polling found the Bloomberg-Clinton combination would be formidable force... MORE

DRUDGE has learned that Bloomberg himself would go as far as to change his official residence from New York to homes he owns in Colorado or Florida, since the electoral college makes it hard for a POTUS and VPOTUS from the same state... Developing...
I think this is dull news. Of course, Bloomberg is "considering" all the possible running mates. He'd have to announce his choice during the primaries and have her out there running with him for it to mean anything. Does anyone picture that happening?

It would be wildly distracting, but I don't see it helping Bloomberg. He needs to establish himself as presidential. And she'd be taking a step down from where she was last time. Why would that work? Why would she do it? Why would he do it? Makes little sense except as a Saturday internet diversion.

"In 1920, Americans spent more than half their income on food (38 percent) and clothing (17 percent)..."

"... and almost all of that was through traditional retail stores. Today, food eaten outside the home and in it accounts for 10 percent of spending and clothing just 2.4 percent. Economists debate theories of why we have shifted to services and away from goods but no one questions that it has happened."

From "Never Mind the Internet. Here’s What’s Killing Malls/Yes, the internet has changed the way we shop. But taken together, other factors have caused greater harm to traditional retail stores, an economist says" (NYT).

The article doesn't say, and I haven't done my own research, but what are the "theories of why we have shifted to services"? My guess is that we just have a lot more income, so we have more left over after we buy the food and clothes we need (or want). Also, clothes have gotten much cheaper, especially if you consider the move away from dressing up and toward rugged, generic casual clothes (like jeans and T-shirts).

If you put things in terms of proportion of money spent, it exaggerates how little we spend on food and clothes. When people were poorer, they still had to eat and cover their bodies. Nevertheless, there's a question what we do with our extra money, and retail stores would like us to bring it to them.

Good for us if we don't! What the hell were we doing all those years poking around in shops, looking for crap to bring home with us? See? I reversed the question, so it's not why aren't we doing that anymore but why did we ever do that?

"Smugglers in Juárez have engineered camouflage hook-and-ladders made of rebar that blend in so well with the border wall that it can be hard to detect, according to U.S. Border Patrol."

"The ladders are the same rust brown color as the mesh panels or steel beams of the fence. El Paso's urban stretch of border is littered with the rusted rebar ladders at the base on both sides — ladders lying in wait on the Mexican side, ladders pulled down by border agents or abandoned by smugglers on the U.S. side.... [T]he rebar ladders started turning up in large numbers in the El Paso sector last year... They've been a go-to method for scaling the fence in the urban footprint since."

Reports El Paso Times.

"As Mike Bloomberg celebrated his 48th birthday in 1990, a top aide at the company he founded presented him with a booklet of profane, sexist quotes she attributed to him."

"A good salesperson is like a man who tries to pick up women at a bar by saying, 'Do you want to f---? He gets turned down a lot — but he gets f----- a lot, too!' Bloomberg was quoted in the booklet as saying. Bloomberg also allegedly said that his company’s financial information computers 'will do everything, including give you [oral sex]. I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business.' At the time, some Bloomberg staffers said, they laughed off the comments in the 32-page booklet, 'The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg,' as a macho side of one of the nerdiest men on Wall Street.... After The Post informed the Bloomberg campaign that it planned to put online a copy of the full booklet, spokesman Stu Loeser said, 'Mike simply did not say the things somebody wrote in this gag gift, which has been circulating for 30 years and has been quoted in every previous election Mike has been in.'"

From "Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women’s allegations of profane, sexist comments" (WaPo).

And here's the booklet.

From the booklet. I read it. His favorite song is "My Way." He likes to mention blow jobs. Like this:

"Shoe Bar, as it’s aptly called, specializes in $17 cocktails with names like Billionaire and Husband Daycare."

"It sells wine by the glass, half a dozen craft beers, and plates of chicken wings and meatballs. And by 4 p.m. most days, it’s packed. 'What better experience is there? It is the most fabulous thing,' said Kathy Miller, 70, of Carefree, Ariz., who recently stopped in for a couple of whiskey sours — and Aquatalia boots.... Across the country, shopping centers, malls and major chains like Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, Whole Foods and Giant are increasingly allowing — even encouraging — customers to imbibe while they browse.... 'I don’t know why it took us so long to put drinking and shoes together, but it’s a great combination,' chief executive Erik Nordstrom said at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference last month. 'Customers at the bar, drinking — it helps sell things.'"

From "Shopping under the influence/Chardonnay in the shoe department: Retailers are increasingly serving alcohol to woo shoppers, vying to create an experience they can’t get online" (WaPo).

From the comments over there: "Supermarkets should entice shoppers with free weed. Once the munchies hit, they will load up multiple carts of food!"

Temperature 15°, wind gusts up to 33 mph — a good opportunity to test the meaning of the notion of the "feels like" temperature...


... which was -5°.

Answer: My face got quite cold, but I've been in actual -5° cold, and I wouldn't say it felt that cold as the wind was gusting, but I did wish I'd brought a scarf to cover my cheeks and nose. The rest of me was just fine, even a bit hot.

Side issue: Running around trees in the wind is dangerous. I saw one downed branch, and I heard some creaking. You really can get killed out there in the wind.

ADDED: So what is the wind speed that should make you decide against being out around trees?
- at 32 to 38 mph, whole trees will be in motion....

- at 39 to 46 mph, branches and limbs can be broken from trees....
That sounds precise, but imprecise. Surely, the type and age of the trees must matter.  Wouldn't the temperature and the moisture level affect breakage? And then there's the question whether these trees are maintained. In our neighborhood, there are lots of big, old trees, but people are supposed to tend to them and get dead branches removed. We have a 200-year-old tree in our yard — along with other big trees — and we spend lots of money on arborists who take out the dead branches. I run in the woods, but it's the university's woods, and it's extremely well kept. So what does that mean? Go ahead and run as long as it's not gusting over 38 mph? Who knows?!

February 14, 2020

At the Friday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Donald Trump is terrified of Michael Avenatti..."

As the news comes in today that "Michael Avenatti guilty on all counts in Nike extortion case," there's a lot tweeting of this montage from the days when the media inflated Avenatti into a Trump destroying folk hero:

Presidential restraint.

"Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region passed the country’s first law criminalising offences such as sexual harassment and rape in 2016."

"Rape victims in the east African nation are stigmatised and forced to marry assailants. Convictions under the law are rare, as police are either unaware of the law or do not see violence against women as a serious crime, say women’s rights campaigners."

From "STRAIGHT TO HELL/Two paedos who gang-raped and killed a 12-year-old girl are executed by firing squad in Somalia" (The Sun).

Today at Instapundit: a simultaneous cultgasm.

Link. Link.

Bloomberg moves ahead of Biden in the newest Florida primary poll.

From Real Clear Politics. Look how dominant Biden once was:

The Florida primary is March 17th, 2 weeks after Super Tuesday. The whirlwind that is Bloomberg is about to hit.

AND: RCP collects all the Super Tuesday polls here. I'm not seeing the same Bloomberg action there.

By the way, reading the polls, I was saying "O'Rourke? Who's O'Rourke?" I had to be reminded. O'Rourke... Beto O'Rourke. Without the "Beto," I was utterly flummoxed by the name O'Rourke. Was P.J. O'Rourke running some sort of joke campaign?, I wondered.

Time for everyone to feel nice and warm!

What's a secret ingredient for chili that most people wouldn't think of?

I just thought of: peanut butter.

I googled my question and found "7 Ingredients You Wouldn’t Think to Put In Your Chili, But Definitely Should," and damned if peanut butter isn't one of the 7 things.

Got to get more creative!

AND: Here's "10 Secret & Bizarre Chili Ingredients—Here's the Best" and, again, peanut butter is one of them.

Are people understanding Barr's "impossible for me to do my job"?

I'm tired of reading all the articles about it. Or, more accurately, I'm averse to reading much of anything about it. But I do assume that Barr is helping Trump. Deliberately, of course.

In which I pick 3 sentences from a NYT Valentine's Day column so you can talk about something you haven't read.

"More than two decades later, here I was breaking my rule, agreeing to go out on a second date when the first hadn’t done anything for me. And sure enough, this one was falling flat too. We weren’t running out of topics, but our chat about the prescience of 'The Handmaid’s Tale,' our children’s endless college tours and the decline of the subway, felt generic."

The piece is titled: "How My Worst Date Ever Became My Best/Agreeing to see him again would require a minor miracle. A minor miracle is exactly what happened."

Imagine a milieu in which the idea that "The Handmaid's Tale" was prescient is so well engrained that to agree about it is experienced as generic.

"The Handmaid's Tale" came out in 1985 and tells this story:
After a staged attack that killed the President of the United States and most of Congress, a radical political group called the "Sons of Jacob" used quasi-Christian ideology to launch a revolution. The United States Constitution was suspended, newspapers were censored, and what was formerly the United States of America was changed into a military dictatorship resembling a theonomy, known as the Republic of Gilead. The new regime moved quickly to consolidate its power, overtaking all other religious groups, including traditional Christian denominations. In addition, the regime reorganized society using a peculiar interpretation of some Old Testament ideas, and a new militarized, hierarchical model of social and religious fanaticism among its newly created social classes. Above all, the biggest change is the severe limitation of people's rights, especially those of women, who are not allowed to read, write, own property or handle money....

In this era of declining birth rates due to increasing infertility caused by environmental pollution and radiation, [fertile woman are] forcibly assigned to produce children for the "Commanders", the ruling class of men... Apart from Handmaids, other women are also classed socially and follow a strict dress code.... [A Handmaid] is treated poorly by a... Commander's wife... [T]he Commander [engages in] a sexual ritual obligatory for handmaids and intended to result in conception in the presence of his wife....
What in hell about the way the real world turned out was more like that story than that story was like the way things were in 1985? And yet these 2 date-goers couldn't figure out how to be anything other than dull because they could only toss around the conventional wisdom that the United States is on track for the Canadian writer's fever dream.

(If you can read the NYT story, it does have an interesting twist that makes it fun.)

Political theater, Alabama style.

Al.com reports:
A state representative from Birmingham filed a bill Thursday that would require Alabama men to get a vasectomy once they reach 50 years old or father three children, “whichever comes first.”

The legislation by state Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham, says that a man will have to pay for the vasectomy “at his own expense."

Hollis said the bill is a response to last year’s abortion bill that passed the legislature and included a near-total ban on abortion.

"What makes Buttigieg an easy and reassuring choice for these older, white, straight people, and a disturbing possibility for the queer people who seem to be criticizing him for not being gay enough?"

"It is that he is profoundly, essentially conservative. He is an old politician in a young man’s body, a straight politician in a gay man’s body."

Writes Masha Gessen in "The Queer Opposition to Pete Buttigieg, Explained" (in The New Yorker).
He chose to wait [to come out] until after he graduated from college, after he had served in the military, after he had been elected mayor.... until after attitudes toward homosexuality had changed...

One kind of queer politics is rooted in ideas of liberation, revolutionary change, and solidarity. The vision of this politics is a society that is radically changed by many kinds of people fighting many kinds of injustice, a society in which economic, social, political, and sexual relationships have been transformed....

The other, more mainstream, and often more visible kind of L.G.B.T. politics aims to erase difference. Its message to straight people is “We are just like you, and all we want is the right to have what you have: marriage, children, a house with a picket fence, and the right to serve in the military.”....

Buttigieg embodies the second kind of gay experience and the second kind of gay politics.... Buttigieg is the ultimate candidate of the country’s post-2016 trauma. He is not a woman. He is not a socialist. He is decidedly not a revolutionary. He does not make big, sweeping promises...
MEANWHILE: "Did anybody catch a screenshot or see what [Washington Post writer Dave] Weigel tweeted? Supposedly he tweeted something from a movie that was clearly homophobic (towards Pete?), sparked some Twitter fury and took it down. Does anyone know what he did?" (Reddit).

The story of "Dance Monkey."

February 13, 2020

At the Snow Still Life Cafe...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Pick a side.

Who do you side with?
pollcode.com free polls

What's missing from this diagram?

From "How to Make Your Marriage Gayer/Same-sex spouses feel more satisfied with their partners than heterosexual ones. What’s the secret?" by Stephanie Coontz (NYT):

They don't even consider that the man might do the majority of the dishwashing! Either it's the woman or it's 50/50. It seems to me that dishwashing is a great choice as the chore for the partner who isn't doing the cooking or if one partner is more fastidious about clutter and clean floors and bathrooms so there's a clear and obvious daily task for the other to take responsibility for. Why aren't men doing the majority of the dishwashing in a lot of couples?

That doesn't have anything to do with acting more gay. I question the whole proposition that the article is based on, though I concede that it got my attention and caused me to click. And blog. Please don't make stupid sex jokes in the comments. The gayness theme has to do with the sex roles assigned to/pursued by men and women in our cultural traditions. It's just another way to discuss equality in marriage.

A complex mind game, played by President Trump.

What is going on here? Let's break it down:

1. "Mini Mike is a 5'4" mass of dead energy who does not want to be on the debate stage with these professional politicians" — a simple attack on Bloomberg — he's short and he's dull. There's a single vivid image: a "mass of dead energy" that's a particular size, 5'4".

2. Trump purports to know that Bloomberg doesn't want to debate, that Bloomberg knows he'll be bad. That at least primes us to see him as bad when he finally does show up in a debate.

3. The other debaters are "professional politicians." That's an attack on everyone else. Trump attacks them all in the first sentence. Who knows which Democratic candidate he'd most like to face in the general election? I can't tell, but I'm given reasons to look down on all of them. Especially Bloomberg, who is, in Trump's numbers, shorter than I am.

4. "No boxes please." Another vivid image, previously pushed by Trump. Did Bloomberg even ever ask for a box, or is this Bloomberg needs a box thing a complete invention of anti-Bloombergers? Again, we're reminded that he is short and his shortness is given a whiff of weirdness and petulance.

5. "He hates Crazy Bernie and will, with enough money, possibly stop him. Bernie’s people will go nuts!" Now, he's just stirring things up, trying to get the Bernie people to go after Bloomberger for him.

6. Let all the Democrats tear each other apart. Bloomberg's mere existence supposed to drive Crazy Bernie's crazy supporters even crazier. Crazy crazy crazy. He's got "crazy" stuck all over Bernie.

Most memorable takeaway: "a 5’4” mass of dead energy."

Which reminds us: There is live energy, and we know where it is: around Bernie. Crazy Bernie, whose craziness is threatening all of us, according to Trump, who would like to channel that tornado of energy and aim it at Bloomberg. And his little box too.

Winter upholstery.


Temperature: 9°. Feels like: 9°!

The sun is up. Time to bask in the cushiony backyard.

"In [Roger] Stone’s case, the guidelines worked a severe result. In tampering cases, a guidelines enhancement calls for a drastic increase in the sentence..."

"... if the defendant threatened the witness with physical injury. This drove Stone’s 'offense level' from 21 to 29 on the guidelines grid, so even though he is a first offender... his recommended sentence zoomed to 90 to 108 months — instead of 37 to 46 months....  [T]he prosecutors’ submission was an accurate (if extreme and unyielding) rendition of federal sentencing law....[T]he president went bonkers on Twitter upon learning of the recommendation... [but] the DOJ and the White House have had no communications about the case.... Late Tuesday, the DOJ filed a revised sentencing memo, which does not recommend a specific sentence but strongly suggests that a term calculated without the eight-point enhancement — i.e., between 37 and 46 months’ imprisonment — would be just. The new memo concedes that the prosecutors’ calculation in the original memo was 'arguably' correct, but contends that it would be unreasonable under the circumstances... But for his connection to Trump, Stone would never have been pursued in a collusion fever dream that Mueller’s prosecutors knew was bogus when they charged him. Yet his crimes, while exaggerated, were real. He was convicted by a jury... though he could be spared by the judge....  If President Trump is afraid, in an election year, to take the political hit that a pardon for Stone would entail... he should bite his tongue.... The Justice Department’s job is to process cases, including Mueller cases, pursuant to law. If the president wants to make those cases disappear, he has to do it himself and be accountable."

Clear analysis from Andrew C. McCarthy in "The Roger Stone Sentencing Fiasco." (National Review).

Rush Limbaugh imagines what's going on in the desperate, desolate minds of Democrats.

"You’re looking at your options today, and you’re asking, 'Okay, can we win with Klobuchar? We don’t want to put Klobuchar up there because she doesn’t have a prayer. Trump’s gonna wipe the floor with her, and that would mean two women in a row get wiped out by Donald Trump. Two Democrat women in a row. We can’t have that! We can’t let that happen.' Then they’re sitting there and they’re looking at Mayor Pete — a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage — and they’re saying, 'Okay. How’s this gonna look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump? What’s gonna happen there?' They gotta be looking at that, and they’ve gotta be saying that despite all the great progress and despite all the great wokeness and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president. They have to be saying this, don’t they? Now, there may be some Democrats who think that is the ticket. There may be some Democrats who think, 'That’s exactly what we need to do, Rush. Get a gay guy kissing his husband on stage! You ram it down Trump’s throat and beat him in the general election.' Really? Having fun envisioning that. What are you left with? Crazy Bernie. They’re left with the avowed revolutionary socialist who isn’t even a Democrat. So which of those three…? They want to take all three out. They would like to get rid of all three of those, the establishment of the Democrats. But if they can’t, which of those three would they rather lose with? Who among those three losing will do the least damage to the Democrat Party going forward? That’s what they are facing, if you ask me."

Link to Rush Limbaugh website.

I went to the official website for the link after reading (and listening to) "Rush Limbaugh: 'Mr. Man Donald Trump' will 'have fun' with Pete Buttigieg because he kisses his husband" at Media Matters. Media Matters intends to hold Rush up for contempt. Here's a comment from over there:
We don't want to get into what Flush likes to kiss, other than to say it did earn him a Medal of Freedom. And is there any more word on an exact time that the grim reaper will dispatch Flush to the fires below? I ask for millions of like-minded people who want to plan their block parties.
I think it's interesting that anti-Trump, anti-Rush people would view what Rush said as homophobic. He's imagining that Democrats are thinking that voters are homophobic. How is that different from what Democrats are saying out loud when they say — and they say this over and over — that black people won't vote for Buttigieg? They're all but coming out and saying that black voters are homophobic? It is different in one way — it disparages black people. If it's not disparagement, but simply an effort to understand how voters react to candidates, then what's wrong with what Rush said. The speech is too clear?

By the way, it's fantastic to hear Rush Limbaugh going strong on the radio. Even Rush haters should feel cheered by a man's strength against the forces of nature.

"I was just surprised to hear that he seems to be copacetic about retiring. I think it’s bothering me more than him. I identify him with this. This is his identity. I’m sad about it."

Said Susan Berk, the wife of Jack Weinstein, quoted in "After legendary 53-year career, Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein hangs up his robe at age 98."

Weinstein himself said, "I just about used up my reserves of energy and I felt that I could not really go on and have the assurance that I could give full attention and full energy to each one of these litigants."

I interviewed with Judge Weinstein when I was a law student, and at the time, Judge Weinstein seemed to be the most prominent federal district judge in New York City. I graduated from law school in 1981, and I have been retired for 3 years.

I enjoyed the wife's use of the word "copacetic." It's a word my mother liked to use (and she was from the same generation as Weinstein). I understood it to be a beatnik word. The OED has no information at all on the origin of the word which it defines as "Fine, excellent, going just right." It traces the word back to 1919:
1919 I. Bacheller Man for Ages iv. 69 ‘As to looks I'd call him, as ye might say, real copasetic.’ Mrs. Lukins expressed this opinion solemnly... Its last word stood for nothing more than an indefinite depth of meaning.
From the article about Weinstein:

When the Wisconsinite Reince Priebus was Chief of Staff, Trump would question him about the Wisconsin animal, the badger: "Are they mean to people? Or are they friendly creatures?"

According to "Trump repeatedly asked Reince Priebus if Wisconsin badgers are 'mean to people,' how they 'work,' and what they eat..."  at Business Insider, quoting from a new book, "Sinking in the Swamp: How Trump's Minions and Misfits Poisoned Washington."

Which makes me wonder: Can badgers swim in a swamp or do they sink?

The book is written by Daily Beast reporters Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng, and that makes me wonder, does a daily beast sink in a swamp, and what would happen if a badger and a daily beast got in a fight? Would the badger tear the daily beast to shreds or would the daily beast skitter away and scribble scurrilous — squirrelous? — things?

From the book:
The president would also ask if Priebus had any photos of badgers he could show him, and if Priebus could carefully explain to him how badgers 'work' exactly.

He wanted Reince — resident White House badger historian, apparently — to explain to him Wisconsin's obsession with the animal, how the little critters function and behave, what kind of food they like, and how aggressive or deadly they could be when presented with perceived existential threats.

Trump also wanted to know if the badger had a 'personality' or if it was boring. What kind of damage could a badger to do a person with its flashy, sharp claws?

An obviously enthralled president would stare at Priebus as the aide struggled for sufficiently placating answers, all the while trying to gently veer the conversation back to whether we were going to do a troop surge in Afghanistan or strip millions of Americans of healthcare coverage.
Placating?! Why would Priebus seek to placate in the middle of a hilarious conversation with the funniest man in the world?! What a missed opportunity! And wasn't Trump essentially talking about Priebus when he talked about badgers and whether they have a personality or are boring. I don't know what words Priebus said, but he answered quite clearly: We badgers are very boring and have no sense of humor or inclination toward building camaraderie and having fun. We won't banter and we don't fight. There's nothing like flashy sharp claws or flashy anything. Just dull dull dull, exactly what you New Yorkers expect.

Thanks a lot, Reince. Thanks for representing Wisconsin so well and then padding away to tattle to the daily beast.

February 12, 2020

At the Wednesday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(The photo shows this morning's sunrise.)

“When you think of wildlife photography, do you see mice brawling on a dirty London Underground platform?”

An unusual choice for the win, on view at NPR.

"How do you write a novel that doesn’t go stale by the next election?"

Writes Lauren Oyler in "Are Novels Trapped by the Present?" (The New Yorker):
In speculative fiction, the refraction that takes place between this world and the fictional one creates a comfortable distance between the novelist and the news. The realist novelist who wants to acknowledge Trump, climate change, and the rest has to speculate in a different way....

[M]ost realist fiction has addressed modern politics from the same sky-is-falling, center-left vantage as op-ed columnists and hashtag promoters, by which the past is mined for lessons to deal with the seeming impossibility of a future. “Sometimes I think that people today must be the saddest people ever, because we know we ruined everything,” the narrator of Lucy Ellmann’s thousand-page “Ducks, Newburyport,” thinks at one point....
Note to self: Do not write a novel.

What if, in the end, you have to choose between Trump and Bernie Sanders? Who do you pick?

My son John asks and answers the question here.

How about you? (Me, I'm not answering. I'm maintaining my cruel neutrality.)

What if you had to choose between Trump and Sanders for President?

pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: Poll results:

Sunrise at 7:07 (actual sunrise time today, 7:01).


This morning, stepping onto my path, I startled an owl that had perched nearby, about to feast on a mouse (or was it a vole?). He swooped down and flew across my path — with that rodent draped from its beak — and up into the woods — in search, no doubt, of a more private breakfast nook.

"Even by Trumpian standards, the jowly Barr, in his large round glasses, pinstripe suit and Trump-red tie, was strikingly sycophantic."

"'In his State of the Union, President Trump delivered a message of genuine optimism filled with an unapologetic faith in God and in American greatness and in the common virtues of the American people: altruism, industriousness, self-reliance and generosity,' he read, deadpan. Trump, he went on, 'loves this country,' and 'he especially loves you.' The boot-licking performance continued, about Trump’s wise leadership, his unbroken promises and even the just-impeached president’s passionate belief in the 'rule of law.' Then Barr turned to the enemy. He attacked 'rogue DA’s' and 'so-called social-justice reformers,' who are responsible for 'historic levels of homicide and other violent crime' in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore. Politicians in sanctuary jurisdictions, he said, prefer 'to help criminal aliens evade the law.'"

From a Dana Milbank column in The Washington Post with the somewhat strange headline "Why Bill Barr’s DOJ replaced Catholic Charities with Hookers for Jesus." That headline focuses on something that appears at the top of the column, the news that a group called Hookers received a grant from the Justice Department for its work with victims of human trafficking. I know nothing about the group, but Milbank is simply expecting us to register instinctive contempt for prostitutes, but that's glaringly inconsistent with empathy for the victims of human trafficking.

The description of Milbank at the bottom of his column is: "He sketches the foolish, the fallacious and the felonious in politics." So, in this case, it's Barr — jowly Barr, in his large round glasses — who I think bears a strong resemblance to Elton John at the Oscars — looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid...

It's pretty easy to mock someone for being fat and wearing glasses. It's the cheapest shot of all, perhaps even foolish, fallacious, and felonious.

And what about those Hookers for Jesus? Milbank links to this Reuters article, which says:
Hookers for Jesus, which received $530,190 over three years, is run by a born-again Christian trafficking survivor who has lobbied against decriminalizing prostitution.... Hookers for Jesus operates a safe house for female adult trafficking victims that, in 2010 and in 2018....

Hookers for Jesus founder Annie Lobert denied that her organization requires safe house residents to attend services at her church. “We are not going to discriminate toward anyone,” she said. “But,” she added, “we are Christian. And there is an understanding before they come in here that we are Christian.”...
Here's the Wikipedia page for Annie Lobert:
Annie Lobert (born September 26, 1967) is an American former call girl and sex industry worker, who founded the international Christian ministry Hookers for Jesus.... Lobert worked as a prostitute in Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Hawaii for 16 years. She left the sex industry with the support of Al Nakata, one of her regular customers, who had fallen in love with her....

In 2008, Hookers for Jesus established a safe house program in the Las Vegas area with one of The Church at South Las Vegas intern homes. The program, titled "Destiny House", is a safe haven for victims of sex trafficking and primarily serves prostitutes and local sex trade workers. Annie left CSLV (Church of South Las Vegas) and currently has a new Destiny House Estate.
What's wrong with giving this group a federal grant?

ADDED: From the comments over at WaPo:
Dana, once again, you've shown this President and his jackboots to be naked partisans, willing to sacrifice the good of our Nation for Trump's own personal gain....
That raises 2 questions: 1. Are you really naked if you're still wearing shoes/boots? and 2. If you read about victimized prostitutes and then you feel moved to talk in terms of nakedness, is your heart in the right place?

What should Biden do now? (To me, it's obvious!)

Great NY Post cover. The article there is "The spectacular collapse of Joe Biden as Democratic frontrunner." Biden came in 5th in New Hampshire, and he conspicuously left the state before the results started coming in, while people were still voting. Perhaps he meant to signal to them that they should vote for Pete or Amy if they want to stop Bernie.
Political experts said the 77-year-old Biden’s campaign has been dealt repeated blows by poor debate performances, his family’s ties to the Ukraine scandal, cringe-worthy gaffes, low-energy events and a lackluster ground game in early states....

By ditching New Hampshire, Biden has essentially bet the house on the Feb. 29 primary in South Carolina, where he has by far the most support from black voters. He is hoping for a resounding victory there, in what his campaign is betting will be a firewall state for him....
I think he should get out now, not skew the voting any longer. He's not going to make it, and he doesn't deserve to make it. He's been the Jeb of the 2020 Democratic race, standing in the way of others but unable to succeed himself. He should bow out now, which will look gracious. It won't look gracious later, after 2 or more weeks of clinging to lost hope. He can endorse Pete or Amy and give one of them a boost now, when it will really count.

But then, if what he secretly wants is to help Bloomberg, he should just cling to his horrible campaign and keep telling us it's all about South Carolina. Choke off support for Pete/Amy and keep the ground clear for Bloomberg's big entrance on Super Tuesday.

"In 'Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear,' the French historian Patrick Boucheron joins an estimable list of scholars who have been trying to debunk the crude stereotype of Machiavelli as a fascist enabler and tyrant whisperer."

I'm reading a book review by Jennifer Szalai in the NYT.
The standard reading of “The Prince” views it as Machiavelli’s attempt to ingratiate himself to the returning Medicis by offering them what amounted to a book-length job application: a treatise filled with underhanded tactics for seizing and maintaining power.

“It is much safer to be feared than loved”; “people should either be caressed or crushed”; “the new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict,” and “must inflict them once and for all.” This is the Machiavellian Machiavelli: amoral, conniving and cruel, responding to whatever the situation demands...

“Machiavelli is the master of disillusioning,” Boucheron writes. “That’s why, all through history, he’s been a trusted ally in evil times.”... A resurgence of Machiavelli suggests something has gone awfully awry. “If we’re reading him today,” Boucheron writes, “it means we should be worried.”

I have a tag for "dogs," but only one dog breed has its own tag.

ADDED: I'm looking at the Wikipedia entry for "Poodle." It begins: "For the political insult, see Poodle (insult). For the security vulnerability, see POODLE. For the archaeological site in Peru, see Kanichi, Peru."

So I read the entry for "Poodle (insult)":
In politics, "poodle" is an insult used to describe a politician who obediently or passively follows the lead of others....

In June 2001, Colette Avital unsuccessfully tried to have the term's use banned from the Knesset.

During the 2000s, it was used against Tony Blair with regard to his close relationship with George W. Bush, and the UK's involvement in the Iraq War. In July 2002, singer George Michael infamously used it in his song "Shoot the Dog", the video of which showed Blair as a "poodle" on the lawn of the White House....
Check it out:

That's really something. I don't know if you can make it through the whole thing. (I couldn't.) But it's interesting to go back to the day — this video is less than a year after 9/11 — when George W. Bush was vilified as a dangerous war monger and a complete idiot.

"Please, Democrats, don’t tell me you need Sanders’s big, ill-thought-through, revolutionary grand schemes to get inspired and mobilized for this election."

"You want a revolution? I’ll give you a revolution: four more years of Donald Trump, unencumbered by the need to get re-elected. That will be a revolution!...  [You can win] by not only talking about how to redivide the pie — which we need to do — but by also talking about how to grow the pie, how to create more taxpayers and how to inspire more innovators. Ours is a capitalist country.... I was glad to see candidates with this kind of message, like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, trending better in Iowa and New Hampshire.... But there is one candidate on the Democratic side who not only has a track record of supporting all those issues but also has the resources to build a machine big enough to take on the Trump machine...  This candidate is not cuddly.... He’s made mistakes, especially around stop-and-frisk policing in New York City.... His mistakes, though, have to be weighed against a record of courageously speaking out and devoting enormous personal resources to virtually every progressive cause — gun control, abortion rights, climate change, Planned Parenthood, education reform for predominantly minority schools, affordable housing, income inequality and tax reform.... In an age when political extremists go all the way, and moderates tend to just go away, Bloomberg has the right stuff — a moderate progressive with a heart of gold but the toughness of a rattlesnake...."

From "Paging Michael Bloomberg/Democrats need to nominate the right person to prevent Trump from winning a second term" by Thomas L. Friedman (NYT).

I wonder how Democratic and independent moderates who have watched Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg fight their way to the front, with endless travel and events and debate, will feel about shunting them aside and embracing the latecomer who's using his vast wealth to barge to the front without all that trouble. I myself am a moderate independent, but I'm not as upset with Trump as the Democrats continually tell me I should be.

There was a big attack on Bloomberg yesterday, with the release of audio recordings of his harsh talk about the need to stop and frisk young black men. I keep hearing questioning whether black people will vote for Pete Buttigieg, but what's the word on whether black people will vote for Bloomberg? The Daily Beast has "Black Voters Turn to Mike Bloomberg/His belated and convenient stop-and-frisk mea culpa might be good enough for voters concerned with beating Trump, and protecting the fraught gains of the past half-century" by Christina Greer (a polisci professor who specializes in "black ethnic politics").
I have spoken to three black NYC political operatives who are quietly thinking about joining the campaign, which is gaining momentum, hiring nationwide, and paying top dollar. These aren’t mercenaries but self-defined pragmatic progressives who believe Bloomberg has the best chance at an electoral victory against Trump in November. I have spoken to a friend who says his black fraternity’s message boards—full of college-educated black men of diverse financial backgrounds, in various professional sectors, living in towns and cities across the country—are full of favorable talk about Bloomberg....

Black voters are strategic voters.... Candidates like Bernie Sanders propose blowing up the ship, but it is black voters who built the ship, as wayward as it may be. Joe Biden presented a more moderate vision... but his promise that he can beat Trump has been sorely tested by the struggles of his campaign so far. Other moderates, like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, are viewed as out of touch by many black voters...
I'm struck to see the phrase "like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg" in this column because it was also in the Friedman column, and I almost took the trouble to make fun of it when I saw it the first time. Obviously, the column writers don't mean candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. They mean Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. It's sloppy writing, but when I see it twice, in such similar columns, I feel as though the writers are working off the same talking points memo.

February 11, 2020

At the Morning Moon Cafe...


... talk about anything except the presidential primary, which is up for discussion in the previous post.

“It’s the Klobuchar miracle,” I say out loud.

Watching some super early returns.

“Klomentum,” Meade says.

UPDATE: At 6:46 CT, Gloria Borger said “Klomentum” on CNN.

UPDATE 2: “Klomentum” has been around since before Meade independently coined it. Not trying to claim first.

UPDTE 3: Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang have dropped out.

AND: Steyer is out. ADDED: I heard that on tv, but I am not seeing it in print, so I doubt it.

ALSO: My son John looks back on the Yang performance in the debates.

"A Cook County, Illinois, grand jury has returned a six-count indictment against actor Jussie Smollett for making false reports, a special prosecutor said Tuesday."

"Smollett, who is gay and black, he said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack near his Chicago apartment on January 29, 2019," CNN reports.

"Express yourself with your body..."

"The 'famous Cosmo skincare question,' as it has become known, has gone viral more than once this election cycle, thanks to some eye-popping answers."

"In October, an uncharacteristically flummoxed Pete Buttigieg declared that he washes his face with soap and doesn’t moisturize—drawing a gentle rebuke from [Cosmo editor Jessica] Pels and a correction from Buttigieg’s husband, who tweeted a photo of the moisturizer they keep at home. In January, a far more confident Elizabeth Warren announced that the only product she uses is Pond’s Dry Skin Cream and that, based on some 50-year-old advice from her cousin Tootsie, she never washes her face. The internet exploded with reactions, from praise of Warren’s preternaturally smooth complexion to fact-checks from dermatologists, prompting one political reporter to tweet, 'Politics Twitter is Skincare Twitter today.'"

From "Is America Ready for a Frank Discussion About Skincare?/Female politicians are suddenly comfortable talking about makeup and hair. What changed?" (Politico).

The husbandly rebuke:

Only $35 for 4.2 ounces at the manufacturer's website. Costs more at Amazon, so I'm not giving you an Amazon link. I can see how to defend Buttigieg against the seeming charge of dishonesty (from his husband!): It could be regarded as sunscreen.

Mayor Bloomberg said: "Ninety-five percent of murders- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops."

"They are male, minorities, 16-25. That's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city. And that's where the real crime is. And the way you get guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them."

From "Bloomberg heard in 2015 audio clip defending ‘stop and frisk,’ throwing minority kids against wall: report" (Fox News).

"Let me just tell you how thrilling it really is... because... the question is whether we're going forward to tomorrow or whether we're going to go past to the back!... That's a Hoosierism. You've got to get used to that!"

Are you getting used to Hoosierisms?

But that's not the Hoosier Pete Buttigieg. The elision after "because" was "in 1988." The quote is from Dan Quayle speaking to the California delegates at the Republican National Convention in 1988.

That just happens to be the top quote on the Dan Quayle page at Wikiquote where I went looking for another quote.

I also found this really Trumpesque line: "This is what I say about the scorn of the media elite: I wear their scorn as a badge of honor."

And here's one where it really seems that he's talking about Trump: "People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history."

Quayle really was a man who looked into the future: "In George Bush you get experience, and with me you get the future"/"The future will be better tomorrow"/"I believe that I've made good judgments in the past, and I think I've made good judgments in the future." So why not credit him with predicting the Trump presidency?

The quote I was actually looking for was his awkward riff on "A mind is a terrible thing to waste":
What a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful, how true that is.
I was thinking of that and how true it is, when I saw the headline "The Great Liberal Freakout Has Begun/Biden is fading fast, and Democrats are losing their minds." That's by Robert Stacy McCain in American Spectator. Excerpt:
In a panel discussion following Friday night’s debate in New Hampshire, [Chris] Matthews went on a rant against socialism, recalling his Cold War–era visits to Vietnam and Cuba: “Being there, I’ve seen what socialism is like. I don’t like it, OK? It’s not only not free, it doesn’t freaking work. It just doesn’t work.” As his fellow MSNBC panelists looked aghast, Matthews continued, saying that if “the Reds had won the Cold War, there would have been executions in Central Park, and I might have been one of the ones getting executed, and certain other people would be there cheering, OK?”

Sunrise, 7:04.



Keeping up with "The Great Gatsby."

I had to look up Wint. He's "one of the most notable accounts associated with 'Weird Twitter,' a subculture on the site that shares a surreal, ironic sense of humor." Notable and duly noted. Don't let that distract you. Click on the image and read the wonderful English paper that still somehow gets a D.

ADDED: I think the 2 checks over "class role as a 'house cat'" suggest why he didn't fail outright. He'd absorbed some left-wing ideology. That was worth something.

PLUS: I had to look up "Midnight Society," written above "Submitted for the approval of English 101." To me "Submitted for your approval" is the classic line from "The Twilight Zone" (a show I watched when it originally aired and currently have 50+ episodes of on our DVR). The Midnight Society comes from a 90s TV show "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" where some teenagers who called themselves "The Midnight Society" told each other scary stories, beginning with "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society..." The creator of the show intended that line as an allusion to "The Twilight Zone."

It's funny to me that the student wrote about Tom and Jerry instead of the older, grander "Great Gatsby" and the teacher wrote about "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" instead of the older, grander "Twilight Zone."

Do I watch those episodes of "The Twilight Zone"? Yes! I watched "Mr. Bevis" over the weekend after I read that Orson Bean had died. And I watched "The Howling Man" last night.

ALSO: Do I think the Tom & Jerry paper is real? No. I think it's a joke, a fantastic joke. Let's follow Alexis De Wokeville on Twitter.

"For the first time since 2004, nobody dropped out after Iowa..."

Says the NYT, in "What’s at Stake in the New Hampshire Primary/Here are the candidates competing in the primary."

I just want to say:

1. 2004 was not that long ago.

2. What do you mean "after Iowa"? We never got to "after Iowa."

3. Maybe that's why we never got to after Iowa — The Democratic Party needed to keep everyone in, so the results were withheld, lest somebody drop out.

Retweeted by President Trump, who is himself older than 67 and deserves no special mercy on account of his age.

I agree that the recommended sentence is ridiculously harsh, but not because us people in our 60s deserve extra compassion.

Why am I giving this post my "Trump pardons" tag? The more vindictive the prosecution looks, the easier it seems for Trump to do what we expect him to do.

"It's a place where Gal Gadot, Brie Larson, and Sigourney Weaver could come onstage to offer the awful platitude that 'all women are superheroes'..."

"... in the same evening in which Sound Editing winner Donald Sylvester got a round of applause for thanking his wife for giving up her editing career so he could pursue his."

Writes Alison Willmore in "The Academy Awards of Self-Flagellation" (Vulture).

Here. Subject yourself to the painful display:

"[I]n the liberal individualist way of thinking, the individual is always an adult male in his prime, who, just at this particular moment when we encounter him, happens to have no needs and dependencies that would bind him to others."

Masha Gesson prompts Judith Butler, in "Judith Butler Wants Us to Reshape Our Rage" (The New Yorker). Butler answers:
That model of the individual is comic, in a way, but also lethal. The goal is to overcome the formative and dependent stages of life to emerge, separate, and individuate—and then you become this self-standing individual. That’s a translation from German. They say selbstständig, implying that you stand on your own. But who actually stands on their own? We are all, if we stand, supported by any number of things. Even coming to see you today—the pavement allowed me to move, and so did my shoes, my orthotics, and the long hours spent by my physical therapist. His labor is in my walk, as it were. I wouldn’t have been able to get here without any of those wonderful technologies and supporting relations.

Acknowledging dependency as a condition of who any of us happens to be is difficult enough. But the larger task is to affirm social and ecological interdependence, which is regularly misrecognized as well. If we were to rethink ourselves as social creatures who are fundamentally dependent upon one another—and there’s no shame, no humiliation, no “feminization” in that—I think that we would treat each other differently, because our very conception of self would not be defined by individual self-interest.

Does HuffPo really think Donald Trump doesn't understand that Larry David is not a Trump supporter?

So Trump tweets this a clip from Episode 1 of the new season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," showing Larry David putting on a "Make America Great" hat to appease a motorcycle guy who's angry at him:

Larry, the character in the show, got the MAGA hat for the purpose of repelling other people, so he can be left alone. The twist in this little vignette is that the hat that makes the kind of people in his social group loathe him also — with another kind of people — works to undo loathing.

Trump knows TV. Trump knows humor. There's zero chance that Trump is mistaking Larry David for a Trump supporter. He may not have time to be watching "Curb" episodes, but he surely grasps that there's some back story to Larry's having the hat and can see that Larry is afraid of the "tough guy" and using the hat to mollify him.

But here's HuffPo: "Trump Just Tweeted A Clip From A TV Show That Was Totally Making Fun Of Him/The clip came from Larry David’s MAGA-centric episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.'" I guess that will get many clicks from people who are hungry for news that Trump is an idiot.

The HuffPo article does nothing but explain the episode, to get the readers up to speed, so they can understand that Larry was "totally making fun of" Trump. Duh. There's no consideration of why Trump would tweet that clip if he knew that, which is what I assume.

How does it benefit Trump to propagate that clip even if Larry was making fun of him? Forgive me for spelling out something so obvious, but I can see there are some obtuse people who think Trump is a dummy who made a mistake.

The clip shows Larry as an oblivious, terrible driver who seriously endangers a motorcyclist and then is terrified at the coming confrontation. Larry is not the "tough guy" and he deserves the tough guy's anger. The tough guy is very expressive (with bad language and a threat of violence). Larry puts on the hat as a fake representation of camaraderie and saves himself.

When Trump offers this clip with "TOUGH GUYS FOR TRUMP," he's implying that you should want to be the tough guy. He's a good guy. He's a motorcycle guy, and he follows the rules of the road, but he gets rightfully angry when affluent, oblivious, insulated jerks violate the rules. You don't want to be like Larry, do you? He's not tough. He's not a good driver. He's a faker. And he's desperate to escape accountability.

Quite aside from how to read the clip, it's to Trump's advantage just to get people seeing that pop culture is using the Trump brand in an unusual and fun way. More Trump. More MAGA hats. Pure familiarity. And if it gets the Trump haters like HuffPo indulging in their own Trump-is-an-idiot fantasies, and they really do seem crazy, as Trump loves to say they are.

I'm as interested in Amy Klobuchar as the next person... You know me, I said in December 2018...

"I'm just going to be for Amy Klobuchar."

But I am amazed that on the day of the first primary, this is what I see at the top of my go-to political link webpage Memeorandum:

"Clay Aiken on 2020 primary...."

Clay Aiken!??

Is there some other Clay Aiken than the Clay Aiken I know, the guy who came in second in the second season of "American Idol"? No, this is that Clay Aiken.

Apparently, his opinion on who's the best Democrat this time around is the most important political news this morning.

I clicked through to the column, even though it's at USA Today, which is so clogged with ads that I feel like a person who doesn't even know how to read. But here's a paragraph. I'll put it over here so I can see it:
I, for one, am tired of candidates trying to dazzle me with meaningless platitudes or beat me over the head with poll-tested spin. I’m not so stupid that I can’t realize when a candidate doesn’t answer the question. I am not so forgetful that I don’t remember when they spit out the same talking points in every interview. The political world is littered with self-important candidates who speak to us like … well … politicians. We need a candidate who, instead of speaking with scripted talking points, is straightforward, honest and down to earth. Klobuchar is relatable.
Okay, I was with you until you asserted that Amy is not like all those other candidates....

And at that point, I got distracted into the "Not Like Other Girls" phenomenon:

To conclude: Amy is a politician, and Clay is a pop singer, and today is the New Hampshire primary, and you know me, I said it long ago, I'm just going to be for Amy Klobuchar.

ADDED: I'm reading those other links pictured in the Memeorandum screen-grab above. There's "Trump Rallygoers Confident He Can Beat Any Democrat This November" at HuffPo. That quotes one woman's opinion of Amy Klobuchar: "She seems like a bitch. She’s got that bitch face on her all the time... I have no use for her. I think she’s crazy.”

February 10, 2020

At the Pink Fog Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Klobuchar on the upswing meets Biden on the downswing.

On the Real Clear Politics graph of poll averages for the New Hampshire primary, both candidates hit 11.3:

I think a strong message is being sent to New Hampshire voters to drop Biden and vote for someone else — Buttigieg or Klobuchar — if you want a chance to stop Bernie.

Less than a month ago, Biden was on top:

"More than 550 new words, senses, and sub-entries have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary in our latest update, including mentionitis, awesomesauce, safe space, and shticky."

The OED announces.

Wow, they stooped to "awesomesauce"! The earliest published use of "awesomesauce" was in a usenet discussion of a Taco Bell ad in 2001:
2001 Re: Shadowy Men in Taco Bell Ad! in alt.tv.kids-in-hall (Usenet newsgroup) 22 Sept. You guys are awesomesauce.
And then there's Twitter:
2009 @BKanizay 25 Nov. in twitter.com (O.E.D. Archive) Awesomesauce!!! The Muppets sing Bohemian Rhapsody. The most awesome thing you'll see today.
What makes the word a dictionary-worthy part of the language is its normalization in things like this:
2018 Woman's Era (India) (Nexis) 1 Apr. For enthusiastic travellers as well as passionate music lovers, this assorted mix of the most awesomesauce music carnivals are worth travelling for.
"Mentionitis," a word I've never noticed, though it's completely easy to understand. The only question is what sets it apart from all the other instant coinages that use "-itis"? Asking that, I have questionitis — questionitis on top of my bloggeritis, etc. etc. "Mentionitis" went through a journey. It originally was more about being fastidiously comprehensive, but it now means "a tendency towards repeatedly or habitually mentioning something, esp. the name of a person one is attracted to or infatuated with, regardless of its relevance to the topic of conversation." The reason "mentionitis" is in the OED, though, isn't because the OED is obsessed with mentioning all coinages to be comprehensive, but because it is associated with a pop culture character:
1999 H. Fielding Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason ii. 41 ‘It's Mentionitis,’ Jude was saying. ‘What's that?’ said Magda. ‘Oh, you know, when someone's name keeps coming up all the time, when it's not strictly relevant: “Rebecca says this” or “Rebecca's got a car like that”.’
"Shticky" you don't need a dictionary to understand once you know "shtick." I'll just observe that "shticky" feels usable because it's so close to "sticky." Or, actually, it's harder to use. You could be misunderstood. You just seem to be saying "sticky" with a speech impediment. Hint: Never say it, write it.

"Safe space" is "a place or environment in which people, esp. those belonging to a marginalized group, can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm." The first use in writing has been discovered in 1974:
1974 Daily Independent-Jrnl. (San Rafael, Calif.) 26 Feb. 13/1 Miss Bernhardt believes she must make a safe place, a warm environment where there is trust, where people's identity is respected and where they will not have to perform or be judged... ‘Then it is safe to say something you have not said out loud to anyone... You have a safe space to try new things.’

Is it too late even to try to understand Joe Biden's calling a woman a "lying dog-faced pony soldier," or is this nothing but an absurd epitaph on a dead political campaign?

ADDED: Here's my reaction, and I have not looked at much of the commentary. I think Biden believes he's lovable, and he can kid in a silly way and people will know it's all in good fun. I don't know why he thinks he can swing around so freely when he's trying to gain the deep trust needed to be President, but I don't know why anyone pushing 80 thinks he can be President or why a grown man in politics thinks he can nuzzle and sniff at the hair of young girls other than to think he thinks he's Joe and everybody knows Joe. Joe is Joe.

That's all just pretty crazy but not all that different from Trump's confident barreling ahead, being himself. Maybe that just works. Many people get it. Some people. The only question is are there enough people who connect with that sort of thing. For Trump, there are. For Biden, maybe not, but what other path is there for Biden? Come on, people, get him — understand him the way he wants to be understood — as a fully competent, experienced politician who knows how to have fun with you lying dog-faced pony soldiers.

The only thing I'll add to that is I have and will have a special problem with "dog-faced" until Roseanne Barr is uncanceled. The greatest female comedian of all time was banished from her #1 TV show — had it snatched away and her brilliant character killed even after the actress was booted out — for the sin of comparing a woman to an animal. I was just looking at Joaquin Phoenix's Oscar speech, where he said, "I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes."

BONUS: "Dog-faced" has its own entry in the (unlinkable) OED. The examples go back to 1607:
1607 E. Topsell Hist. Foure-footed Beastes 11 He describeth them to be blacke haird, Dog-faced, and like little men.
1663 J. Mayne tr. Lucian Part of Lucian 272 That ugly, Dogg faced Aegyptian...
2002 Vanity Fair (N.Y.) Oct. 332/1 Degas was not exaggerating when he revealed his dancers to have been a depressingly dog-faced bunch.
Here's that Vanity Fair article about Degas's unpleasant-looking ballerinas. Excerpt:

Sunrise, 0°.



"We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby... Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal."

Said Joaquin Phoenix, accepting the Oscar last night for his performance as a clown-faced murderer. As you can see in that short quote, he's expressing effusive empathy for his fellow creatures, but I wouldn't see his movie, because I believe there is something soul-damaging — something erosive of empathy — in watching the graphic depiction of murder. I don't know why Phoenix considered "Joker" a good place to put his talent, then lectures us about our insufficient love for the living things of earth. And I'm writing that as I drink my coffee with milk.

Here's the full transcript, worth seeing in text, because the actorly performance of the text makes it harder to understand the rationality of it. It feels like an emotional cascade. You get caught up wondering how does he feel and does he really feel what he is expressing and what is he really saying and is he coherent and is coherence necessary?
I’m full of so much gratitude now. I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love...
This speech will also end with "love" — "Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow" — and we just saw a montage of the nominated actors that ended with Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) saying "Remember, truth may be vital, but without love, it is also unbearable." But the love in question at this point was:
... the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know where I’d be without it. But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many people in [this industry] is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless.
Oh, no! It's going to be a political speech. The Oscars got off to a bad start with Brad Pitt — who won the best supporting actor Oscar — saying he only had 45 seconds to speak, "which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week" and maybe Quentin Tarantino could do a movie about the impeachment where "in the end the adults do the right thing." Tarantino has been doing movies based on historical events where the good guys win in the end, and the movie Pitt won his Oscar for is one of those movies, so his line was well-crafted, but I hated seeing one political side given precedence. The show was just starting, and he was telling half the country their perspective on the world is not valued. Ah, maybe not. His remarks are focused on the desire for witness testimony in the Senate, not the quest to be rid of the President. That puts him in the Susan Collins position, which isn't all that divisive. But it rubbed me the wrong way. Me — and I'm not a Trump voter — I'm just someone offended by the 3 years of disrespect shown to the people whose candidate won an election.

But Phoenix didn't go into partisan politics. In fact, he is trying to pull people together:
I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’ve been facing collectively. I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality.
That's the opposite of divisive.
I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity. I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.
We're called back to nature, away from the disconnection. If we put milk in our coffee, there is — somewhere out there — a cow that was used. Phoenix doesn't go from there into a PETA lecture. He gets back to human life:
We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.
That's almost right wing. It's at least inclusive of the right. The environment matters, but we can go for innovation and technology and find solutions. It's not about giving things up. Then comes another right-wing-friendly idea, personal responsibility:
I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish.
This reminds me of Trump, last Thursday, going on about his impeachment acquittal: "We went through hell, unfairly, did nothing wrong, did nothing wrong, I've done things wrong in my life, I will admit, not purposely, but I've done things wrong." Oh, Trump couldn't confess "I have been a scoundrel all my life," but he did confess "I've done things wrong in my life."
I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes...
A clear statement against the cancel culture.
... but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption. When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said: "Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow."
The brother, River Phoenix, died in 1993, when he was 23. He wasn't rescued or educated or guided. Joaquin Phoenix was 19 when he lost his brother, and now he resurrects that brother's spirit in a simple call for love.


February 9, 2020

At the New Snow Café...


... talk about whatever you like.

Photo taken at 7:23 this morning. Actual sunrise time was 7:05. The day to day change in the sunrise time is getting much bigger. The sunlight period is increasing by more than 2 and a half minutes a day — 

“Bill Gates has ordered the world’s first hydrogen-powered superyacht, worth an estimated £500m ($644m) and boasting an infinity pool, helipad, spa and gym.”

“The boat boasts five decks, and with space to accommodate 14 guests and 31 crew members. In a further environmentally friendly feature, gel-fuelled fire bowls allow guests to stay warm outside without having to burn wood or coals. But its most cutting-edge feature is tucked away below decks - two 28-tonne vacuum-sealed tanks that are cooled to -423F (-253C) and filled with liquid hydrogen which powers the ship. The fuel will generate power for the two one-megawatt motors and propellors via on-board fuel cells, which combine hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity. Water is a by-product.”

The Guardian reports.

The tortoise and the tourist.

I'm reading "More than tortoises: UW-Madison professor writes about the real Galapagos" (in The Wisconsin State Journal). This is an interview with Elizabeth Hennessy, author of "On the Backs of Tortoises: Darwin, the Galapagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden":
I write about these imaginations we have about the Galapagos as a pristine, nearly untouched place. That really isn’t accurate, but it is often what tourists hear about the archipelago. And I think that does a disservice to the people who live and work there. They play essential roles in conservation and the tourism economy, but if the islands are supposed to be pristine, then where do they belong?...

With cruise ships it’s easier to control tourism ... (visitors) are with a naturalist guide the whole time. When you’re staying in town, the park can’t have that kind of control. But land-based tourism is an important way for money to stay in the local economy. I think there’s a problem with tourist mentality. I think it’s troubling that we want to go some place and check off a list of animals we want to see. I would encourage people to try to get to know what it’s like to live in the Galapagos and be more engaged with local communities....
Sounds like it's better to be a cruise ship tourist, because you minimize yourself and remain under control and you get steered to the things that are (almost) pristine and see the distinctive animals made you want to go to that specific place. But Hennessy is stressing the local people — bringing more money to them and getting to know them — and yet you know very well that people do not spend all that money and travel all that way to get to know the human beings who happen to live in the Galapagos.

The Marvellous Party.

"I Went to a Marvellous Party" is a 1938 song — I guess it's a rap song, no? — by Noël Coward.
Noël Coward composed this song after he and Beatrice Lillie attended a beach party given by Elsa Maxwell in the south of France, an event which his memory placed in either 1937 or 1938. The lyrics in the first stanza are based on a real life experience of Coward and Lillie: The two were invited to "come as they were," but on arriving they discovered the other guests were formally dressed....
I encountered that song again this morning as I was looking back on my "homophobia politics" tag and reread "Romney, the man who says 'marvelous.'" Excerpt:
Obama mocked Romney this way: "He said that he's 'very supportive' of this new budget, and he even called it 'marvelous' — which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget." Comic pause. "It's a word you don't often hear generally."...

My first association, on hearing one man mock another for saying "marvelous," was: Gay. It's an I'm-more-manly move. I heard a smidgeon of homophobia....

I Googled "gay men say marvelous." Sorry, to be so crude, but research can be so easy and I got the most marvelous return. It's Noël Coward's "I've Been To A Marvellous Party," in which male homosexuality and excessive wealth are merged marvelously...
I went to a marvellous party we didn't sit down til ten
Y'know young Bobby Carr did a stunt at the bar with a lot of extraordinary men
And then Freda arrived with a turtle which shattered us all to the core
And then the Duchess passed out at a quarter to three
And suddenly Cyril cried 'fiddle-de-de'
And he ripped off his trousers and jumped in the sea
I couldn't have liked it more...
I'm just waiting for young Paul Ryan to do a stunt at the bar with a lot of extraordinary men and then for Mitt Romney to suddenly cry "fiddle-de-de" and rip off his trousers and jump in the sea. And then Obama arrives with a turtle...