June 29, 2017

Trump tweets that Mika Brzezinski "was bleeding badly from a face-lift."

Just this morning:
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..

... to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
Wow. That's harsh. He must know facelifts to be so confident he can diagnose the source of the bleeding. She had blood coming out of her wherever... face.

Why's he suddenly going back to New Year's Eve? And what's with all the "Crazy" and "Psycho"? It seems... crazy and psycho.

Here's the NYT story on the subject:
The graphic nature of the president’s suggestion that Ms. Brzezinski had undergone plastic surgery was met with immediate criticism on social media...

Mr. Trump’s comment on Thursday echoed a contentious remark that he made about another female television anchor, Megyn Kelly, during last year’s presidential campaign. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” Mr. Trump said, a remark that was widely seen as a reference to menstruation and drew rebukes from women’s groups.
Yes, widely seen as a reference to menstruation, but who knew he might have been talking about facelifts?

Over at The Washington Post, Callum Borchers is calling it a "blatantly sexist attack." Ridiculous. Men get facelifts too. In fact, it's Borchers who's supplying the sexism:
When Trump hits Brzezinski and Scarborough on Twitter, he hits Brzezinski harder, more personally and in a way that seems designed to portray her as insecure (“facelift”) and unintelligent (“low IQ”) — as a side piece who would not be on TV if not for her romantic relationship with Scarborough, to whom she was recently engaged.
Trump didn't say "sidepiece" or characterize plastic surgery as a marker of insecurity.  That's Borchers projecting. What I read in that tweet is that he found it ludicrous that the person trying to insinuate herself into his company was bleeding from the face. That doesn't sound at all like insecurity. Quite the opposite.

"An Agoraphobic Photographer’s Virtual Travels, on Google Street View."

Ha ha. I love these — in The New Yorker — screen grabs from Google street view.
After a while, [Jacqui Kenny, a New Zealander living in London] began seeking out certain kinds of views: arid regions with clear horizons; latitudes where she found that the sunlight fell at a dramatic slant....

Kenny now posts photos from the collection on an Instagram account called Agoraphobic Traveller.... Kenny, who is friendly and witty in conversation, suffers from anxiety that, on a bad day, can make it difficult to leave the house.... Kenny—who doesn’t consider herself a real photographer but clearly has a very particular eye—is drawn to stark landscapes and orderly arrangements: the straight lines of a road receding into the distance; a tree in perfect butterfly symmetry with its shadow; identical boxy houses sitting in neat rows.... The scenes are simultaneously revealing and distancing—as if you’re peering into people’s daily lives through a telescope....
I've done the same thing myself. I started the tag "Google grab" back in 2011. I can see that I was planning to do it a lot, but I mostly only did the first one, which convinced me it was an exciting idea:

Juarez street corner

Or I guess I did it twice. Why didn't I keep going?

It is cool to wander around in Google street view, and — agoraphobic or not — it could be better than actually going places, because I think you will go to different places when you don't have to worry about your health and safety or with needing to interact with people and feeling that you might be intruding. And when you travel, you're likely to go to the famous scenic places, but there's no point in looking at those on Google maps, because there are many better photographs of these things already on line.

This topic could fit as one more chapter in the book I'm reading right now: "How to Talk About Places You've Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel," by Pierre Bayard:
There is actually nothing to show that traveling is the best way to discover a town or a country you do not know. Everything points to the contrary— and the experience of numerous writers supports this— if you want to be able to talk about a place, the best thing to do is stay at home....

[T]he question is not what we can gain from a knowledge of foreign places— acquaintance with which can only be beneficial to anyone with an open mind— it is to know whether this acquaintance should take place directly or whether it isn’t wiser to practice it through means other than physical travel.

Interview with @pixelatedboat, the man who created Milkshake Duck.

It was the perfect tweet: "The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist."

The backstory:
"I can't remember, exactly, but my best guess now is it was probably the Chewbacca Mom," @pixelatedboat, a comics artist from Australia, who asked not to use his real name, explained of the inspiration behind it. Chewbacca Mom, a woman who went viral for laughing in a mask — it was a much more innocent time last year— later came under heavy criticism for a misguided attempt at fomenting racial harmony. She got Milkshake Ducked.

"It was a thing that had happened a few times that seemed to be a trend," he went on. "I was trying to come up with a joke that would sum it up because I hadn't seen that joke done before, so I was trying to come up with the most absurd version of that that I could."...

"You’re well taken care of here. They got resources and... I don’t know there’s just something about the place. They call it the vortex."

"I’ve left. I’ve been to Arcata and Santa Cruz and I’ve tried Florida. I’ve been around America. Ain’t nowhere like Berkeley, man.... I sat out here before like depressed and starving but still too proud to hold my head up and ask somebody for food. I’m just sitting here with my head down. I look up, and there’s this guy handing me like French toast in a box. I was like, ‘Thank you, man.’ I had my headphones in. I put it down, I put my head back down, and when I look back up I see his fist in my face and he had ‘LOVE’ tattooed on his knuckles and he was trying to give me knuckles and I thought that was pretty awesome, man. And just shit like that happens all the time, man. You see a lot of manifestation out here. Manifestation is what I like to call it. When you need something, it just comes to you. As long as you need something important. Something that you actually need, you’ll get it. I don’t know if that’s manifestation or blessings. I guess it’s all the same."

From "How people living on the streets in Berkeley find their food."

50 years ago today: "[Jayne] Mansfield died in a sedan that slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler that was shrouded in 'fog' from a mosquito-spray truck."

"The impact drove the car's engine into the front seat, killing the actress, two adults and a Chihuahua (who rode up front) but sparing Mansfield's children. Mansfield's wig was thrown to the side of the road, where it was mistaken in news stories for her head."

From a 1997 interview with the undertaker, who said "Her head was attached as much as mine is... People always figured wrong about Jayne... About the way she lived and the way she died." (NYT link.)

Wind blows Irish weatherman off screen.

"They lost their freedom because they love freedom."

"The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has helped a small Cornish village buy its Methodist chapel."

"One villager, Valerie Wallace, had the idea [to email him] as a last ditch attempt, with the group having failed to raise sufficient funds elsewhere. 'We thought nothing of it and then we began to get phone calls from Dubai... We thought we were being hoaxed but it was no hoax.'"

Reports the BBC.

"This has been a long-stewing simmer for him, and after they cut him loose he was like, ‘Screw them, I owe them nothing.’”

“After the election, he made no secret of how pissed he was—he feels that he won that thing all on his own. They wrote him off for dead and cut all his money off... He was already left for dead and when you’re left for dead and you keep walking, there’s a pretty remarkable level of strength that comes with that.”

That's a quote in The Daily Beast from an unnamed "Wisconsin Republican political operative" in "Republicans Left Ron Johnson for Dead Last Year, Now He Could Kill Their Health Care Bill/Months after they left him cold and alone on the campaign trail, Sen. Ron Johnson is enjoying his newfound freedom from leadership."

ADDED: I'm skeptical of this story, so let me front-page something I wrote in the comments: 
Ron Johnson has such a modest, low-key Wisconsinite demeanor that it seems funny to me to picture him seething and cursing, just burning up and ready to go wild and break things.

"He was with my purse and he took off and I took off after him. Me being five months pregnant, I chased a little ways then come back, jumped in the car..."

"... threw it in gear and come across the curb and ran him over. I was not going to let him get away with it. It's not right, it's not fair."

Said Christine Braswell, quoted in "SEE IT: Pregnant North Carolina woman mows down shirtless purse thief with her SUV in Walmart parking lot." The "see it" is real: You can see video of the woman running straight into the man.

"Every day, millions of sweltering Pakistanis struggled to forgo food and water from sunrise to sunset, then roused themselves before dawn to wash, pray, cook and eat."

"The Ramadan ordeal has brought into sharp relief the chronic water and power shortages plaguing this arid, Muslim-majority country of 180 million. In cities, families had to fill jugs and bottles from public taps at 3 a.m. In villages, long daily electrical outages stopped fans from whirring and tube wells from pumping water to irrigate parched fields."

Temperatures during this ordeal were as high as 128°. It was like Death Valley during the day — long summer days — and they could not drink water. At night, it was still very hard to get water, with pumps not working.

The story — at The Washington Post — doesn't mention whether anyone died. If you had described those conditions to me as a hypothetical and asked me to predict how many would die — out of 180 million — my guess would be in the millions.

And what is the rule, really, about not drinking any water in the daytime during Ramadan? There is some kind of allowance to keep people from succumbing to heat stroke and dehydration, isn't there?

"And a leading religious scholar in Karachi clarified... that Islam allows the elderly, sick or weak to interrupt fasting in extreme situations. People shouldn't risk their lives for a religious duty," said a cleric named Mufti Naeem, quoted in "Ramadan leads to dehydration in Pakistani heat wave." That's from 2 years ago, when the temperature got as high as 113° (15° cooler than this year). That article says "More than 1,100 people have already died." And the problem isn't simply dehydration from too little water. There's also damage from drinking too much water once it is permitted:
"It's possible that the body cannot cope with this, depending on its overall condition"... Drinking too much at once... dilutes the body's electrolytes too much, causing water to be drawn out of cells through their membranes.... [T]his can lead to cerebral or pulmonary edema in people with existing health conditions."
Here's a lengthy discussion of the religious issue, by Dr. Kashif N. Chaudhry (at CNN):
Prophet Mohammed is... known to have discouraged fasting for the sick, and for pregnant women and nursing mothers. At another place, he equated those who fasted during times of hardship to those who did not fast during normal conditions -- both disobeying God...

Until the Pakistani government does its job of providing round-the-clock power and air-conditioned public shelters, those exposed to the current heat wave -- especially the children, elderly and sick -- must ensure proper hydration for themselves. And once these harsh weather conditions change for the better, they can repay the missed number of days at a later time.

This approach is in line with the requirements of wisdom -- and the teachings of Islam.

June 28, 2017

Woman shoots a man to death with a .50-caliber Desert Eagle firearm and says it was his idea as a stunt for her vlog.

He was holding a book, and she says he believed the book would stop the bullet and that he'd already tested the bullet-stopping power of another book. 

Before the shooting, she had tweeted "Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE."
[Monalisa] Perez told authorities that Ruiz had been trying to convince her "for a while" to shoot the book while he held it for a YouTube video.

Ruiz had set up a GoPro camera and another camera on a ladder nearby to record the stunt, according to the complaint. The two cameras — which recorded the shooting — have been secured as evidence for the investigation.
She shoots that .50-caliber gun from a foot away. Here's what that gun looks like:

How could he possibly have thought the book would protect him? But how can she be lying if there is 2-camera footage of the entire incident? She's charged only with manslaughter, so the authorities must believe her story, right?

The new Project Veritas video: Van Jones saying "That Russia thing is just a big nothing-burger."

WaPo's "What the latest James O’Keefe video leaves out" attests to the absence of unfair, out-of-context quotes.

Paul Farhi says "it’s what the video doesn’t show that may be as important as what it does," but I think what's most important is what Farhi doesn't put on his list of what's not in the video.

The omissions Farhi identifies are:

1. The video identifies the man on camera as John Bonifield, a "supervising producer," but fails to specify that he works on health and medical stories.

2.  The video fails to specify that Bonifield is based in Atlanta and "not in Washington or New York, where most of CNN’s coverage of national affairs and politics are produced."

3. The video doesn't say who the man making the video is or how he gained access to Bonifield.

See what's missing? There's absolutely nothing saying that Bonifield's statements were edited to distort or take anything out of context or encourage misinterpretation. There's nothing on Farhi's list that makes us feel we need the unedited footage to be fair to Bonifield and CNN. Every single thing is about additional facts that can be presented to us without access to the complete footage that Project Veritas holds in its possession.

These additional facts are perfectly easy for Bonifield or CNN or The Washington Post to share with us, including the identity of the Project Veritas operative and how he got access to Bonifield. Obviously, Bonifield knows that. According to Farhi:
People at CNN said Project Veritas’s operative was referred to Bonifield through a social-services organization in Atlanta called Rainbros that matches young adults with mentors. 
The link on Rainbros takes us to a website that says "Rainbros. Where Gay Gets Easier./Peer Coaching for Gay Atlantans/How can we help you make your life better?"

Farhi says: "Bonifield met the man in question about five times, and apparently was under the assumption that he was interested in a career in journalism." Yes, it's not very nice to use a mentoring service to get to some presumably kind-hearted person who is devoting his energy to (I hope!) helping young people. And this kind of trickery from Veritas is hardly surprising at this point, and we can talk about that. But I'd also like to know more about how The Washington Post and CNN get access to all the leakers that have been feeding the Russia craziness in the media that made the Project Veritas operation worth doing.

Let's talk about all of it. But let's recognize that Bonifield really made those statements and — from what I can see so far — there was nothing unfair about how they were presented in the edit we got yesterday.

"A man yelled 'Freedom!' as he crashed his vehicle into Arkansas' new Ten Commandments monument early Wednesday..."

"... nearly three years after he was arrested in the destruction of Oklahoma's monument at its state Capitol, authorities said."
In the video [on Michael Reed's Facebook page], the sky is dark and the Arkansas Capitol's dome is visible. Music is heard followed by a female voice, likely on the radio, saying, "Where do you go when you're faced with adversity and trials and challenges?" The driver is then heard growling, "Oh my goodness. Freedom!" before accelerating into the monument. The vehicle's speedometer is last shown at 21 mph (33 kph) and then a collision can be heard. Arkansas' monument fell from its plinth and broke into multiple pieces as it hit the ground. The debris had been cleaned up by midmorning Wednesday....

Arkansas' granite monument weighed 6,000 pounds (2,721 kilograms). It was installed Tuesday morning on the southwest lawn of the Capitol with little fanfare and no advance notice. A 2015 law required the state to allow the display near the Capitol, and a state panel last month gave final approval to its design and location.
By the way, in the Biblical story, Moses breaks the 10 Commandments tablets. Did you ever understand why? There are many explanations. Here are 4 explanations. 

Of all people, Phil Donahue says: "Don't be so sensitive." That's his advice to journalists who feel attacked by Trump.

"I think that the best way to handle this is to just keep working. Don't be so sensitive. Don't look like you have a glass jaw."

The MSNBC host, Stephanie Ruhle, seems to have no idea what "glass jaw" means. She asks, "What does that mean?" and Phil takes on the burden of mansplaining:
"That means you go down -- it's a boxing phrase, a boxer with a glass jaw is one who can't take a punch, goes down with a left jab instead of a right cross," Donahue explained. "And I think the press has to be above that. All you can do is pray that the people you serve will understand this and appreciate the job that you've got."
Speaking of mansplaining, do I need to 'splain my "Of all people"? Phil Donahue was the prototypical sensitive man

"'No jump, it’s important, no jump,' he said... But Ms. Mol, apparently misunderstanding his pronunciation, heard, 'Now jump.'"

"She threw herself from the ledge — and plunged to her death. The harness she was wearing had not yet been secured to the bridge."

From "Deadly Bungee Jump in Spain Could Lead to Criminal Charges" (NYT).

Vera Mol was 17. The bridge was 130 feet high.

"It’s been over 7 months since Trump was elected, yet my professors show no signs of putting their political digressions on hold."

"Because my English professors at Yale are largely liberal, the political message in my classes is always the same: Trump is a demagogue, American society is doomed, and English literature is our refuge. Liberal professors and students increasingly feel that it is their duty as professors and humanists to promote their vision of the political good. Meanwhile, the remaining campus conservatives have become less outspoken and remain fearful that they may suffer academically as well as socially for their views...."

Writes Finnegan Schick, who says he's "center-left, voted for Hillary Clinton, and... dislike[s]" Trump.

"But really, it would have been fine to skip this strange celebrity ritual, this complicated stew of personal indulgence, brand tending and sociopolitical me-too-ism."

"Yes, pregnancy is beautiful and powerful and worthy of celebration. You are womanly. You are phenomenal. God bless. But it has become virtually impossible for a celebrity to go through a pregnancy without getting naked for the cameras, her fans and — presumably — herself."

From "Let Serena Williams’s naked pregnancy photo shoot be the last of its kind," by Robin Givhan (in The Washington Post).

As Givhan notes, it all started with Demi Moore back in 1991. It was surprising then — unlike now — and it's never been done better. The photographer was Annie Leibovitz, who also did the Serena Williams portrait.

Givhan concludes:
But what is the broader value of the bared baby bump? Under the best of circumstances, pregnancy is a beautiful and life-changing experience. And every woman’s pregnancy is unique and captivating to her. But even if a woman is a celebrity, that doesn’t make her pregnancy newsworthy.
I'm not sure I agree. We could talk about the frivolity of our celebrity culture and the excess of vanity, nudity, and photography in American life today. But pregnancy is actually more important than we generally take it to be. It is our central purpose from a biological, evolutionary point of view. Our deep understanding of that reality pops out in weird distorted ways, but when we see the weirdness, we should take it as a cue to remember what we so often forget: We are all here because women carried babies in their bodies. Pregnancy is beyond newsworthy. By comparison, the idea of "news" is frivolous.

What books has Hillary Clinton been "losing [her]self in"?

"I finished Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, I devoured mysteries by Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd... I reread old favorites like Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, the poetry of Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver. I was riveted by The Jersey Brothers and a new book of essays called The View From Flyover Country, which turned out to be especially relevant in the midst of our current health-care debate."

New York Magazine reports.

Sorry, I can't seem to get beyond New York Magazine this morning. That's where I landed after starting out in the South China Morning Post. Somehow, I only told you about the beer cans in China. I could have told you about...

1. The "pro-democracy lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung" and his fight to keep from getting his hair cut while he's in prison.

2. The tourist who fainted when informed that the jade bracelet she just broke costs 300,000 yuan (US$44,110).

3. The 80-year-old lady who threw coins into a jet engine for good luck and got the flight delayed for hours.

4. The man who was fined for cutting the roof off his car to make it into a "convertible."

5. The thing that got me to that website in the first place (because it was linked at Drudge): "Police in Shanghai on Monday closed down an unlicensed fight between two teams – one led by a tai chi master and the other by a leading mixed martial artist – just weeks after footage of a similar, very bloody, contest went viral online."
In late April, Xu [fighter and promoter of mixed martial arts] scored a convincing victory over [tai chi master] Wei, after making controversial remarks about tai chi in which he said he wanted to “expose” its lack of merit.

“[I] crack down on fake things, because they are fake. Fake things must be eliminated. No question,” he was quoted as saying...