April 15, 2017

At the Groundwork Café...

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... we're getting ready. You can talk about whatever you want.

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"Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed Saturday at a 'Patriots Day' rally in Berkeley, the third time the two groups engaged in violent confrontations on city streets in recent months..."

The L.A. Times reports.
Fistfights broke out near Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, where Trump supporters had scheduled a rally. Fireworks and smoke bombs were thrown into the crowd, and a few demonstrators were doused with pepper spray.

Both groups threw rocks and sticks at each other and used a large trash bin as a battering ram as the crowd moved around the perimeter of the park. One bank boarded up its ATM machines before the rally as a precaution....

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers, said he came from Montana with about 50 others to protect Trump supporters. They were joined by bikers and others who vowed to fight members of an anti-fascist group if they crossed police barricades.

“I don’t mind hitting” the counter-demonstrators, whom he called “neo-Nazis,” Rhodes said. “In fact, I would kind of enjoy it.”
I found that hard to read. Both sides are calling each other Nazis? Everybody's hitting everybody?

Or is the L.A. Times choosing to depict this as more confusing than it is?

"Fistfights broke out...," "Fireworks and smoke bombs were thrown..." — the subjects of these sentences are not human beings. 

"Even allies acknowledge Mr. Trump is impulsive, indifferent to preparation and prone to embracing the last advice offered."

"He needs a strong hand to guide him, but insists on appearing in firm command, so any aide perceived as pulling strings can face his wrath sooner or later. It was Mr. Trump, not his children, who pushed Mr. Bannon to the margins, motivated less by ideology than by dissatisfaction with recent failures and his perception that his chief strategist was running an off-the-books operation to aggrandize himself at Mr. Trump’s expense.... [Ivanka] Trump has never been close to Mr. Bannon, although she appreciated the ferocity of his work.... In recent weeks, she has spoken bluntly about Mr. Bannon’s shortcomings to the president. She was especially incensed by articles she believed were planted by Mr. Bannon’s allies suggesting he, not her father, honed the populist economic message that helped sweep the Midwest. She made that point in the strongest terms to her father, who agreed, according to a family friend...."

From a NYT article about the role of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

"You fill me with inertia."



It's Drimble Wedge & The Vegetations in the movie "Bedazzled."

I was pointed to that by somebody at Facebook where I had written:
Apathy nonapathy: I wrote a post that included an apathy theme and gave it an "apathy" tag, which was a new tag, so I applied the tag retroactively, through the 13-year blog archive, and in the process of seeing old posts about apathy, I got some new ideas for things to write.
Here's the post that caused me to add the "apathy" tag.

ADDED: Do not attempt to friend me on Facebook. I receive Facebook friend requests with inertia.

"I could say I wasn’t that mad about it once she’d said she could take or leave it..."

"... and we had sex off and on then for about six weeks till she got pregnant with our son. That’s more than 20 years ago and we’ve not had sex since, though we’ve talked about it a couple of times. We had one tricky spell about five years ago when Alison started to worry we weren’t normal and thought we should go for counselling. I didn’t care about normal – my worry was that she really did want sex and might have an affair, but she promised me that wasn’t the case. None of our friends or family would believe that we have a sexless marriage. We’ll have a spat occasionally, like everyone else, but we’re very cuddly and close to each other and still as interested in each other and do as much together as we ever did.... She’s beautiful and I love her and I don’t think we’ll ever have sex again."

From "'I don’t think we’ll ever have sex again': our happy, cuddly, celibate marriage/Brian and Alison have been together for 25 years and haven’t had sex for the past 20. Here, they explain why" in The Guardian.

"Is it just me, or has testosterone been in the news more lately? I blame Donald Trump!"

"Or maybe Rush Limbaugh. Althouse links to this recently rebroadcast episode of This American Life about testosterone, where there’s an interview with a woman who 'transitioned' into being a man with the help of colossal doses of testosterone."

Says Instapundit, pointing at something I wrote yesterday. After quoting the interviewee's saying that she "became interested in science," he continues:
It’s funny, I was talking to a friend a while back who was very interested in math and science pre-puberty, but lost nearly all interest afterward, and she said, “when the estrogen came in, the science went out.”

Some other stuff in this interview reminds me of my friend (and former editor) Norah Vincent, who lived as a man for a year and wrote a great book, Self-Made Man. She, too, said that as a “bulldyke” woman, she was very masculine, but as a man — in her case, without hormones — she wasn’t all that masculine for a man. And that it was a lot harder to be a man than women think.

Meanwhile, also from This American Life, the most NPR line ever: “I have rage. Unfortunately, it’s impotent rage.” Also, the highest testosterone level among the NPR males is 274, which I believe is treatably low. . . . .

Plus: “If I can’t be the most manly in public radio, where the hell can I be the most manly?”
You might want to connect this to the recent episode of "Survivor," in which a gay man outed a female-to-male transgender. Writing about that a couple days ago, I mentioned that we'd been watching the show believing that "we were looking at a not-terribly-masculine gay man." Varner, the gay man who outed the the other contestant wasn't someone I would assume was gay. He'd have to tell me. Now, Varner caught hell not just for outing his tribe-mate (Zeke). He was also condemned for characterizing closetedness as deception. Here's an interview with Varner:
"I will say that I have spent 10 months stewing in this awful, horrible mistake I made. I have been through I don’t now how much therapy with the show’s therapist, with a local therapist, I have met with and spoken to several LGBT organizations, I have joined the board of a couple of them, I joined a national study on outness. This has changed me drastically. But I don’t want to spend two minutes talking about my experience because this isn’t about me. This is about Zeke. And I can only profusely apologize."
There's a lot there about etiquette and human decency that's complicated by the competition (which everyone knows entails deception and manipulating other people's fears about being deceived and played for a fool (with $1 million at stake)). Varner blundered and is paying a big price. But I wonder how he, as a gay man, felt about Zeke's presenting himself as a gay man. Those of us in the majority — the nongay — should perhaps not be so judgmental about how a gay man feels when a transgender male chooses to present as gay when that person seems relatively unmasculine.

The transgender person Instapundit quoted also said that her — and later, his — role models were James Dean and Jason Priestley, and that "I was better at that as a dyke than I am as a man, I have to say." And:
"It's a bit of a disappointment. It's a bit of a disappointment. I often ask people, what kind of a guy am I? What do you see? And unfortunately, people often respond that they see a nerd, which I never was before. I was always really cool and popular and hip and whatever.
So this person was perceived edgily masculine by people who were seeing what they thought of as a woman, but a boring nerd by those who were perceiving a man. And that was with the testosterone.

ADDED: Nothing against nerds. Nerd can be the identity you embrace. If that's what you want, go for it. 

"There was a man at the IHOP tonight who had on two hats at the same time."

"The base was a stocking cap, and over it was a red floppy thing a woman might wear to a garden party. The waitress, Mary, ignored the guy at first. Then she took his order but made him pay in advance. He wanted coffee with his eggs, and when, after ten minutes or so, he still hadn’t gotten it and asked politely when it might arrive, Mary snapped at him and said that she was busy, O.K.? It made me uncomfortable to watch her be so rude. Had she had trouble with him in the past? Did it have anything to do with his two hats?"

From "The IHOP Years/1983-1990: Life at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the International House of Pancakes," by David Sedaris, which just went up over at The New Yorker.

I love David Sedaris, and I have my own IHOP history. First job I ever had — waitress at the International House of Pancakes. It sound so big and so small. International! But it was just that weird new building with the blue roof they put up at the Preakness Shopping Center.

"Many people do not realize that yoga... is intended to be more than a series of exercises coupled with deliberative breathing and meditation."

"It is a mind and body practice developed under Hinduism, the goal of which is spiritual purification that will lead to a higher level of understanding and eventually union with the divine. Although the Catholic Church teaches that much good can be found in other religions, Catholics believe it is only brought to fullness in Christ... It is for these reasons that Catholics are alerted to the dangers of the practice of yoga and are encouraged to look for other exercise alternatives that do not incorporate a spiritual dimension."

Said Rev. John Riley, chancellor of Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, explaining the new policy removing the word "yoga" from the names of classes that teach yoga or I guess one should say yoga-based exercises. The term "lifestyle fitness" is the replacement.

This makes me wonder where a Catholic analysis of the idea "lifestyle" would go. I actually agree with Riley that "yoga" is a Hindu practice that someone who wants to be strictly Christian ought to think carefully about, and I would add that there is a problem of cultural appropriation, especially when you take the part you like and strip away the deeper part. What if nonChristians wanted to use some of the mannerisms of communion in serving wine and bread?

But the new term "lifestyle" is a word I avoid using. I asked out loud to Meade "What do you think of the word 'lifestyle'?" and he said "I try to avoid it."

Some elitists look down on those who use it. It's one of those words that those who eschew them claim are not a word. But the OED has it, dating back to 1915. The definition is: "A style or way of living (associated with an individual person, a society, etc.); esp. the characteristic manner in which a person lives (or chooses to live) his or her life." (I'd like to hear a Catholic analysis of whether a Catholic college should be teaching an individual style or way of living other than a Catholic way.)

The OED's 1915 example of "lifestyle" is "This spirit of expediency..excludes any possibility of peace or rest in unity with the universe. The author applies to it, as the ‘life-style’ of our age, the term Impressionism." Those quotes give a sense that people were saying "life-style" back then.

I searched the NYT archive and saw that the word really took off in 1968 and 1969, which corresponds to my perception that it's a Baby-Boomer/ counterculture/ hippie word. Here's Ada Louise Huxtable writing about architecture in 1969 in "The Case for Chaos":


I don't think I've ever used the word "lifestyle" on this blog except in a quote. (And I'm not using the word in this post (if you observe the use/mention distinction). Oh, no, wait. I did use it once. I'm checking again with a hyphen, and found this from 2008:
Can singlehood be portrayed as good but only good enough to reduce the number of bad marriages and not good enough to attract the kind of staunch adherents who advocate marriage as a way of life? Is DePaulo's book a nice, reassuring middle-of-the road sort of a thing, designed to take the edge off the predicament of not having a spouse? Or is she really promoting singlehood at the expense of marriage? If she is, you see the problem. That's the basis of my punchline: "The pleasures of singlehood must be kept hush-hush. It's not a legitimate life style, you hear?" I want to be single, and maybe so does DePaulo, but we might live to regret promoting this simple, free, self-indulgent life-style.
Whoa! That's really funny, considering the absolutely direct connection between Bella DePaulo's book and my marriage to Meade in the following year.

So funny the things that crash and connect when you're living the blogging lifestyle.

ADDED: In the blog archive,  I see that "lifestyle" is a word for which Dan Quayle and Valerie Jarrett caught grief.

Quayle:
Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong... Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong. We must be unequivocal about this. It doesn’t help matters when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes today’s intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice.
Jarrett:
"These are good people. They were aware that their son was gay; they embraced him, they loved him, they supported his lifestyle choice. But when he left the home and went to school, he was tortured by his classmates."

"If they get rid of Bannon, you know what’s gonna happen? The motherlode. If Bannon is removed, there are gonna be divorces..."

"... because I know about the mistresses, the sugar babies, the drugs, the pill popping, the orgies. I know everything. If they go after Bannon, the mother of all stories is gonna drop, and we’re just gonna destroy marriages, relationships — it’s gonna get personal.... I have more stories that I haven’t released. I haven’t released every scoop that I have. I release my scoops strategically. I’m sitting on way more stories.... I will go TMZ on the globalists. I will go Gossip Girl on the globalists. I will go Gawker on the globalists.* So you mother-effers going after Bannon, just know I broke two of the biggest stories before anybody else... If you think I don’t know the pills people are popping, the mistresses, the sugar babies—I know all of it. So you better be smart. Because the mother of all stories will be dropped because I don’t care.... Fabricate things about me. I don’t care. You can’t kill what is already dead. What is dead cannot die."

That's Mike Cernovich, the "alt-right ringleader," as The Daily Beast puts it, giving him the attention he seems to crave.

He was ranting on Periscope. But who the hell is he? I don't have a tag for him. Am I supposed to care?

Wikipedia calls him "an American social media personality, writer, and conspiracy theorist. Usually described as part of the alt-right, he describes himself as 'new right' and an 'American nationalist.'" And:
In 2014, Cernovich was a self-proclaimed "champion" of Gamergate, the campaign against feminists in the video-game industry, goading opponents with tweets such as "Who cares about breast cancer and rape? Not me."
Maybe that's why I don't know him. I chose not to invest my time in understanding Gamergate. The word "Gamergate" only appears once before in this blog, in a post that ends "This interests me even though it's partly about 'Gamergate,' the controversy that I refuse to get up to speed on."

I see that The New Yorker did a story on him — "Trolls for Trump/Meet Mike Cernovich, the meme mastermind of the alt-right" I read The New Yorker, but missed that somehow. It was right before the election. Sample paragraph:
Cernovich sat at the kitchen table, facing a mirror, and placed his laptop next to a teapot full of flowers. (Shauna is in charge of decorating.) “Right now, a hundred and twenty-eight people are reading Danger and Play,” he said. “What’s fun is when you get a hot story and watch the number tick up into the thousands, like a video game.” Nowadays, the blog is mostly a platform for pro-Trump spin, but at first it was about how to pick up women. Its name comes from Nietzsche. (“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”) Early posts included “Misogyny Gets You Laid” and “When Should You Compliment a Woman?” (Answer: “During or after sex.”)
________________________

* He might want to read up on what happened to Gawker.

"The Furry Raiders’ leader, a man named Foxler who dresses in a fox suit with a Nazi-like armband (no swastika, only a paw print)..."

"Foxler claims he’s not trying to evoke Hitler, never mind his name (a combination of “Fox” and his supposed surname “Miller”), his Nazi-like armband (he says is based on a character in an old video game), or pictures of him throwing his arm up in a Nazi-like salute (an accident, he said).... Fascist furries are nothing new, but until recently, 'they were rare individuals who were more interested in uniform fetish than espousing Nazi ideology,' Deo, another furry told The Daily Beast. But the rise of the alt-right has ushered in the #AltFurry, a hashtag under which right-leaning furries can organize, and the uninitiated can encounter more cartoon rabbits in Nazi uniform than they possibly expected to see in their lifetimes...."

The Daily Beast is keeping up with things that might matter in "Neo-Nazis Are Tearing the Furry World Apart."

"As an artist, I love Fearless Girl. But as an intellectual property lawyer, I will say that Mr. Da Modica has a valid legal argument."

"Fearless Girl is a work of art that incorporates Charging Bull without permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized use of a copyrighted work — unless it falls within some narrow exceptions — is straight up copyright infringement. In my opinion, Mr. Da Modica is absolutely correct that Fearless Girl completely changes his sculpture’s meaning. You can’t control how people view your copyrighted work necessarily, but you can certainly prohibit them from using it without authorization. The relevant factual question would be, does Fearless Girl use the bull sculpture?"

One of 2 comments at the NYT about the Fearless Girl/Charging Bull controversy, selected by the NYT for publication in a column (the NYT equivalent of what I call, on the blog, "frontpaging"). The other comment loves "Fearless Girl" and credits it with making "Charging Bull" "relevant."

Note that the "Fearless Girl" statue is not attached to "Charging Bull." She's not riding it or grabbing it by the horns or even right up in its face.

She... I think it's sentimental to call the sculpture, an inanimate object, she. A child calls her girl-doll she. An adult, speaking about politics and art, should say it, unless you want to look as though you don't respect any of this as art but are all inside the emotionalism and the propaganda. Say "she" if you mean this is kitsch.

I'll eschew "she," because I don't want to sound childish or snobby. My point is: There's some distance between the 2 sculptures. It is possible to look at them independently and see them one at a time without the other necessarily intruding into your field of vision. You, the viewer, can also choose to position yourself so as to see them together and think of them together. The "Charging Bull" sculptor wants to own the space in the vicinity of his work. If he's right, it would seem that artists could push around museum curators for grouping pieces together.

For example, here's a picture I took at the Museum of Modern Art, where a sculpture was placed in front a painting, creating an excellent relationship between the 2, perhaps something the painter and the sculptor would object to:

Futurism

These 2 works of art are simply positioned near each other so that viewers will often see them together and have perceptions and ideas based on the relationship, but the viewer can also choose to see them separately. The works are unchanged. The painting isn't touching or even that close to the sculpture. The museum and the museum-goer are affecting the proximity. We might criticize the placement and say it's wrong in some way. Or we might think the combination is great. I think the combo effect in my photograph is fantastic, expressive of Futurism, but for all I know one or both of the artists would think putting the 2 together creates a misunderstanding of Futurism. 

The "Fearless Girl" most reminds me of the "Three Soldiers" sculpture at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., which was designed in reaction to the minimalist Maya Lin sculpture. The very simple and dramatic Maya Lin's wall must exist in proximity to the realistic depiction of three men, painstakingly detailed in particular uniforms, with identifiable weaponry, and with faces sculpted to beat us over the head with the fact that one is white, one is black, and one is Hispanic. It's as though "Three Soldiers" and Maya Lin's wall are having a debate about what bad taste is.

The wall had been controversial, and Lin didn't like the intrusion of the second sculpture:
Lin was furious at the adulteration of her design and called the decision to add Hart's piece "a coup," which "had nothing to do with how many veterans liked or disliked my piece." In response to veteran Tom Carhart's comments that her design was a "black gash of shame and sorrow, hacked into the national visage that is the Mall," Lin asserted that she had not received a single negative letter from a veteran, adding that "most of them are not as conservative as Carhart." Hart's addition was placed a distance away from the memorial wall in order to minimize the effect on her design. Still, Lin refused to attend the dedication of the sculpture.
But as far as I know, Lin didn't sue anybody, and "Three Soldiers" is still there in proximity to the wall, so what's the difference between that and the "Fearless Girl"/"Charging Bull" problem? 

April 14, 2017

At the Singletrack Café...



... you can take this anywhere you want. 

But consider going into Amazon through the Althouse path as a way to say you care to keep this blog rolling.

The photo is by Meade who loves the local trails. Though they may look bleak to you, they are open, and that's what matters. He texted me that picture. I was out walking out by the lake, as mentioned in my Lady of the Lake post.

Here's how the bleakness looked from my point of view:

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"How realistic are New York apartments on TV shows?"

"From 'Girls' to 'I Love Lucy,' we break down the hovels, the dream pads and everything in between."

I hope you can get into The Washington Post, because this is delightful with diagrams and floor plans. But you might not care if you've never struggled to get housing in NYC. (I have: I've lived in 6 different apartments in NYC.) And you might not care if you haven't watched the relevant shows, especially "Girls" — which is of special concern here because the series is about to end (this Sunday).

"Amid warnings that North Korea and Iran have plans to take out parts of the U.S. electric grid through a cyber attack or atmospheric nuclear blast..."

"... the Pentagon is taking steps to both protect the nation's communications and power lifeline."

Says the Washington Examiner.

How Trump tromps into an otherwise promising intellectual discussion.

I was listening to the audio of this very nice New Yorker piece by Rebecca Mead about Margaret Atwood. Walking along by the lake, I was transported by this scene and so delighted by the time I got to the word "lubricious" that I ordered myself to remember that word so I could find it in the text and make a blog post when I got home. But then Trump barged in:
One evening in Toronto, Atwood invited me to her home, where we sat in its spacious kitchen on tall stools at a counter, overlooking her wintry, barren-looking garden. Graeme Gibson poured three glasses of whiskey while Atwood sorted through Christmas cards, dispensing with the chore as efficiently as if she were slicing rhubarb. I remarked on an aspect of “Oryx and Crake” that had moved me. The protagonist, Snowman, apparently left alone in the world, strives to remember unusual words he once knew. Atwood writes, “Valance. Norn. Serendipity. Pibroch. Lubricious. When they’ve gone out of his head, these words, they’ll be gone, everywhere, forever. As if they had never been.” Reading this passage in recent months led me to think about the catastrophic devaluation of intellection that seems to have occurred in American society: the willful repudiation of rigorous thinking, and objective facts, that helped propel Trump to victory. I remarked to Atwood that it felt like a prescient metaphor.
Why does crap like that keep happening?! It's like it's a... catastrophic devaluation of intellection.

It seems that these days all trains of thought lead to Trump. But perhaps the pibroch summoned him.

Pibroch? What does it mean? We know "lubricious," but "pibroch"? Here it is in Sir Walter Scott's  "Lady of the Lake":
No rude sound shall reach thine ear,
Armor's clang or war-steed champing
Trump nor pibroch summon here
Mustering clan or squadron tramping.

Elizabeth Warren writes that she seriously considered running for President, but her husband told her it "looks pretty terrible" — "a lot worse" than running for Senate.

The woman listened to the man — The Mann:
In the end, Warren writes, [her husband, Bruce] Mann gave his blessing to her potential candidacy, but she realized it wasn’t her next step.

“Talking with Bruce and asking the question out loud had settled it,” Warren writes. “I wanted to stay buckled down and keep doing my job — my Senate job — as completely and as effectively as I could.”
And you wonder why we haven't had a woman President.

As Barbie once said, "Math class is tough!" And running for President is tough. That's your reason?

Note: I don't really believe that was her reason. I just don't enjoy bullshit that leverages the stereotype that women won't do work that is too strenuous.

As long as we're talking about the stereotype about women, let me show you something I've been listening to that's kind of blowing my mind — even though I heard it when it originally aired in 2002 — the recently rebroadcast "Testosterone" episode of "This American Life." There's so much fascinating/disturbing material, but I just want to focus on what feels relevant here, which is the interview with a man who had had a medical condition that took his testosterone level to zero. He's asked "And during those months, how are you behaving? What was different?"
It wasn't that I was behaving. It was that I was not behaving at all. I was, when I was awake, literally sitting in bed and staring at the wall with neither interest nor disinterest for three, four hours at a time. If you'd had a camera in the room, you would have thought I was comatose. I would go out. I would buy some groceries early in the morning. And that would be it. My day had no content. I had no interest in even watching TV, much less reading the newspaper or a book. Food-- I didn't want my food to taste good or interesting. And when you're blessed with that lack of desire, you can eat a loaf of Wonder Bread with mayonnaise. And that will be your day.... People who are deprived of testosterone don't become Spock-like and incredibly rational. They become nonsensical because they're unable to distinguish between what is and isn't interesting, and what is worth noting and what isn't.... You just have to remember that it doesn't matter if you have nothing if you want nothing. Very tricky to get inside that mindset. In some ways, it's difficult for me to even remember it now. But it had its allure.
In case you're wondering how much testosterone women normally have, here are some numbers. It's not zero but it's a lot less than men. And postmenopausal women — like, presumably, Warren — are much lower than premenopausal women.

$200 million project of building a net to catch jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Originally approved in 2014, the project finally gets under way, to be completed by 2021.
Officials say the net will be positioned 20 feet below the sidewalk and extend out another 20 feet. Made of seven football fields worth of stainless steel, the structure will curve up slightly at its ends and be suspended 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean on both sides of the bridge — invisible to drivers.
Here's the highly memorable New Yorker article "JUMPERS/The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge" — published in 2003. Here's the passage that's so well-known that I am assuming someone would refer to it immediately in the comments:
Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before. Ken Baldwin and Kevin Hines both say they hurdled over the [4-foot] railing, afraid that if they stood on the chord they might lose their courage. Baldwin was twenty-eight and severely depressed on the August day in 1985 when he told his wife not to expect him home till late. “I wanted to disappear,” he said. “So the Golden Gate was the spot. I’d heard that the water just sweeps you under.” On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

Kevin Hines was eighteen when he took a municipal bus to the bridge one day in September, 2000. After treating himself to a last meal of Starbursts and Skittles, he paced back and forth and sobbed on the bridge walkway for half an hour. No one asked him what was wrong. A beautiful German tourist approached, handed him her camera, and asked him to take her picture, which he did. “I was like, ‘Fuck this, nobody cares,’ “ he told me. “So I jumped.” But after he crossed the chord, he recalls, “My first thought was What the hell did I just do? I don’t want to die.”

"The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering."

"We urge all sides to no longer engage in mutual provocation and threats, whether through words or deeds, and don’t push the situation to the point where it can’t be turned around and gets out of hand... No matter who it is, if they let war break out on the peninsula, they must shoulder that historical culpability and pay the corresponding price for this."

Said China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi.

And there's this from a spokesperson for the North Korean army:
“Nothing will be more foolish if the United States thinks it can deal with us the way it treated Iraq and Libya, miserable victims of its aggression, and Syria, which did not respond immediately even after it was attacked.”

Is it really that hard to understand Trump supporters?

There's this on the front page of this NYT website right now...



... oh, I mean a few moments ago. The new teaser is:



The story when you click on the link is "Focused on Trump’s Successes, Many Supporters Are Unfazed by His Reversals." It has a paragraph that I think makes the project of understanding Trump supporters simple:
They knew all along that they were not voting for a man with concrete convictions. And they continue to see that lack of rigidity — his preference for the transactional over the dogmatic — as a quality they want in a chief executive.
Another way to put that is: People chose a decisionmaker, not a packet of pre-made decisions. They saw reason to trust him, and those who don't trust him won't understand that, but they should understand the persistence of trust in those who began with trust. Trump's adapting to his work and to the world as he encounters it should not be a problem to those who had confidence in him in the first place.
As Mr. Trump’s policy reversals and other contentious moves draw scrutiny from the news media and criticism from his political adversaries, many Trump supporters seem to be rallying around him in the face of what they see as a relentless onslaught.

“That does tend to bond them to him — every day they see him attacked,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity....

Judge Andrew Napolitano was apparently right about British surveillance on the American election.

He was openly mocked — and suspended from Fox News — but now, it seems, he was right.

"Jakubowski allegedly broke into Armageddon Supply in Janesville and stole 18 guns before lighting his vehicle on fire."

And now Governor Scott Walker is cancelling the annual Easter egg hunt.

It's not just about Walker. It may have started in Wisconsin — at that store with a name to spark insane ideation — but Joseph Jakubowski has also sent a 161-page manifesto to the White House and it supposedly threatens other government officials, including President Trump.

So it seems this man wants to be well-known as a threat, which isn't the normal way you'd plan a big attack. Even if the store was chosen for reasons other than that name — Armageddon — setting the truck on fire is a highly conspicuous demand for attention. Ordinarily, a thief tries to get away, not draw attention to the scene. And the man is writing long letters and sending them where they will be read and taken very seriously.

I assume there are always some individuals amassing guns quietly and thinking about committing acts of violence. We don't know their names, but we do know the name Joseph Jakubowski. He's the one who wants attention. 

UPDATE: "Terror suspect Joseph Jakubowski captured in western Wisconsin." The time on that news story is 8:11 AM CDT — that is, 1 minute after I put up this post.

UPDATE 2: The Easter egg hunt is back on.

April 13, 2017

"Public opinion research firm Morning Consult found that 44% of adults formed a more favorable opinion of Pepsi after watching the ad..."

"... while only a quarter of them thought less of the soda maker. 28% of respondents said it had no impact on what they thought of Pepsi."
Interestingly, millennials and ethnic minorities seem to have most enjoyed the ad. Half the adults polled between the ages of 18 to 29 formed a better opinion of Pepsi, as compared to just 35% of those older than 65. Just over half of African Americans and a whooping 75% of Hispanic Americans polled thought more positively of Pepsi as a result....
Ha.

More support for my intentional virality theory.

"There is no reason why the simple shapes of stories can’t be fed into computers. They are beautiful shapes."

Said Kurt Vonnegut, drawing diagrams on a blackboard:



I found that via this Atlantic article, "The Six Main Arcs in Storytelling, as Identified by an A.I./A machine mapped the most frequently used emotional trajectories in fiction, and compared them with the ones readers like best."

The 6 shapes are:
1. Rags to Riches (rise)

2. Riches to Rags (fall)

3. Man in a Hole (fall then rise)

4. Icarus (rise then fall)

5. Cinderella (rise then fall then rise)

6. Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)

"It's True, Hot Baths Burn Calories."

But: "calorie counting is almost useless and often misleading."

"I lost my legs because my gov't was afraid to use the tools they had and saw me as expendable. I wish I'd had this admin."

"We begged to use bombs on the minefield ghost town I lost my legs clearing. But by all means-continue your rhetorically righteous tweeting...."

"Third Circuit: neighbors who criticized condo residents over emotional support dogs must face civil rights suit."

"Now the Third Circuit... reversed grants of summary judgment in favor of the two blog writers and ruled that they could properly be sued for damages for creating a hostile environment under the Fair Housing Act."
It described as “harassment” various instances of their critical speech and noted that a single instance of harassing speech could give rise to liability under the law. It is not clear whether the parties raised, and the court did not make any gesture toward considering, whether some or all of the statements involved might be protected by the First Amendment, which is mentioned nowhere in the opinion....
ADDED: Here's the opinion. Key passages:

United Airlines — now, with scorpions.

"It's not clear how the scorpion got on the plane...."

Probably by bumping some lesser arachnid.

"Sculptor wants 'Fearless Girl' to back down (or at least step away)."

"The sculptor of the celebrated 'Charging Bull' statue in New York City’s Bowling Green has complained that the recent installation nearby of another statue, 'Fearless Girl,' violates his copyright...."

"The New York Post Has Come Up With Their Greatest Troll Yet."

Says Gabriella Paiella (at New York Magazine).

Here's the hilarious cover of the Post.



Paiella writes:
Let’s review who loses in this article: First, Dan Rochkind — the man who they used for the lede image — who says he’s sworn off dating models even though … well, you can judge the photo for yourself. Then, Rochkind’s fiancée, who, for some reason, agreed to be in an article about a man who’s decided to date less attractive women than he used to. There’s also this guy, who shows up shirtless and playing the violin for some reason. Hot people in general lose because of unfair stereoty- … wait no, haha, scratch that.

But most of all, we lose — while, as always, the Post wins.

"It was as if he had been preparing for this absolutely unpredictable, completely public, and incredibly vulnerable moment for his entire life. His composure was astounding."

"And when he connected the entire event to the word metamorphosis, I distinctly remember thinking — how in the world did you just do that?"

Says Jeff Probst in an interview about last night's episode of "Survivor," which we're already discussing in a post I put up right after the episode. In the comments on my post, there's an accusation that the show is scripted and some blaming of the show for setting Zeke up. I think Probst's interview deals with that. Here's his response to the interviewer's question about how Zeke — the outed transgender — had thought about what might happen in the course of the competition:
I met Zeke in casting and loved him. I still have my original notes from that meeting. He was very engaging, gifted in his ability to manipulate with his words, and he wore this crazy Hawaiian shirt and had poofy hair. We knew we were doing Millennials vs. Gen X as a theme and we wanted him on the Millennials tribe immediately. It wasn’t until after he left that I was told he was transgender. From that point forward we agreed that if his story was to be told, he would be the one to decide when, where, and how.

As for someone else bringing it up, Zeke was fully aware someone might suspect it or bring it up and he said, “I will deal with it as it arises.” And I have to add it was never a question of Zeke being worried his story would come out. Zeke is a massive Survivor fan and his point with us was very clear — he wanted to be seen as a Survivor player. Not the first transgender Survivor player. I really respected that distinction and I understood it.
Back at my post from yesterday, Scott said:

"Free Speech = Hate Speech."

A sign, photographed on the campus of Brown University.

"A US congressman and environmental group have filed the first lawsuit targeting Donald Trump’s plan to build a 30ft wall on the US-Mexico border."

"The suit, brought by Congressman Raúl M Grijalva of Arizona and the Center for Biological Diversity in the US district court for Arizona, seeks to require the government to undertake a comprehensive environmental impact analysis before beginning construction."
[Randy Serraglio, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity] said the existing border fence had already caused significant environmental damage, including flooding and erosion.

In July 2008, a heavy thunderstorm produced a damaging flash flood at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona after the border fence prevented water from flowing away naturally....

Expanding construction on the border could exacerbate the flooding problems, in addition to threatening the survival of species such as jaguars, ocelots, and wolves, Serraglio said....
Here's the website for the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Photo from the website:



A poll:

Does that photo of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument affect your view of Trump's wall?
 
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"Let's stop calling North Korea 'crazy' and understand their motives."

Writes Isaac Stone Fish — a senior fellow at the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations —in The Guardian.
Kim’s desire for deterrence – to not end up like Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi – helps explain the existence of its weapons program. Someone who has participated in more than a decade of Track 2 dialogues with the North Koreans once recounted to me how North Koreans asked them: “Would the Americans have gone in and done what they did to Gaddaffi, and to Syria, if they had what we have?"...

Besides deterrence and allowing Kim to show he is a strong leader domestically, what explains the provocations? One possible theory is that the more dangerous it presents itself, the more it can milk from countries like China and especially South Korea – who are more incentivized than the United States to have a calmer Pyongyang....

China provides a market, and access to the rest of the financial world, but South Korea provides the cash. If Seoul decides to again gift Kim or other members of the elite hundreds of millions of dollars – a not unlikely outcome – that takes the bite out of sanctions....

Shocking? First tell me who did it, and then I'll decide whether I'm shocked.

"Police Call Qurans Found in Toilet at UTD 'Shocking and Unusual.'"

Linda Greenhouse tells Republicans — about the Supreme Court — you broke it, you own it.

The title of the column is "The Broken Supreme Court."

It's the old "Pottery Barn rule" — associated with military strategy and Colin Powell. The rule is normally invoked before an action is taken, so it works to support an argument against taking action. If you pick up that ceramic plate in the store, you might break it, and the sign wants you to know/believe that you'll have to pay for it. Actually, I think the signs had the more humorous, alliterative wording: "You break it, you bought it."

The real meaning of those signs was: Don't break anything. Be careful. The signs don't create legal liability. It's not that — to use contract law — the sign is an offer and the breaking counts as acceptance. And stores normally eat the loss when a customer breaks something. But maybe the signs encourage people to be more careful handling the merchandise.

But Greenhouse is deploying the old saying after the thing she's deeming breakage has occurred. Too late now to be extra careful! But Republicans were warned in advance of their resistance to Obama's nominee (Merrick Garland) and their going-nuclear vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch. Greenhouse is writing now not to stop anything or to convince any Gorsuch supporters that Republicans have broken the Court. She's saying: We should hold Republicans responsible for what the Supreme Court has become. And, of course, she has the opinion that it's become something awful. And it can always, henceforth, be contrasted to The Court That Might Have Been — The Court That Should Have Been — the Court with a 5-person liberal majority with Merrick Garland in the seat formerly known as Scalia's.

Greenhouse writes:
Going forward, it will be next to impossible for people to look at decisions that may appear on the Republican Party’s agenda — on voting rights, as a prime example — without seeing the Supreme Court as a partisan tool....
That's true, if by "people," you mean the coastal elite of the United States and partisan Democrats in the Blue Islands of Flyover America.

But I think it's easily possible for many Americans to see the Supreme Court as a legitimate, independent branch — and not in spite of but because of the election. The death of Antonin Scalia, less than a year before the presidential election, made what we want from the Court a big issue in the campaign. Denying the outgoing President his choice gave Americans our choice. What sort of person belongs on the Court? Candidate Trump committed to a list of names, and Hillary Clinton had endless opportunities to criticize his choices and offer her own, and the people voted. It seems to have been the decisive issue for many of us. The kind of Justices Trump promised to nominate — and Gorsuch was known and named — are what Americans think belongs on the Court.

Greenhouse thinks — or purports to think — that the process was too political. But would she say the same thing if Hillary had won — with her stress on the abortion rights and gay rights issues — and seized the nomination? I imagine that Greenhouse would read the election as a resounding endorsement of the liberal approach to constitutional interpretation and would cheer it on. Let's have more of it.

And I would not have a problem with that. In fact, the process is political: The President has the power to nominate and the Senate must confirm. That much politics is in the Constitution.

But here's the tricky part. Once the nominee is confirmed and goes on the Court, he (or she) becomes independent. There's life tenure, and the Justice has sworn to follow the judicial method and to stick to deciding cases according to the law. It's not supposed to be political.

So the other way that it's possible for people not to see the Supreme Court as a partisan tool is if they believe what the nominees always say in the confirmation process: Partisanship and political preference have no place in the work of a judge. It's what Gorsuch assured us. It's what everyone else on the Court assured us. And it's what Merrick Garland would have assured us.

Now, it's probably not what Linda Greenhouse believes, nor is it what her compatriots in the coastal elite believe. And I can tell you it's not what is generally believed on the higher altitudes of the Blue Island where I live. But I at least understand how many of my fellow Americans can believe it.

And how can nominee after nominee sit before the Senate and swear they will do something if no one can possibly think that it's true? It's possible.

And that's why the Supreme Court isn't even broken, let alone the sole possession of the Republican Party.

The requirement that transgenders undergo sterilization before the government will change their gender identity on official documents.

This is, we are told, the law in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

All of these countries belong to the European Convention on Human Rights, and The European Court of Human Rights has just held that the requirement violates Article 8 of the convention, which provides that "everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."

April 12, 2017

"I made a mistake; there’s no other way to say it. I got into a topic that I shouldn’t have, and I screwed up."

Said Sean Spicer.

And maybe not everybody, but I hope a lot of people, are thinking: Don't do it. You might think it, but resist. Don't compare somebody to Hitler.

"There they were, gathered around the fire at Tribal Council on Wednesday night’s episode of 'Survivor.'"

"One of the contestants, Jeff Varner, in a last-ditch attempt to keep himself from being voted off the show, turned to a man by his side. 'Why haven’t you told anyone you are transgender?' he said.""

That was a very intense episode of "Survivor," with everyone turning on the man who outed the transgender contestant and that man, Varner, suffering so much opprobrium that I would think almost anyone watching at home would be thinking: Never let that happen to you.

ADDED: The linked article, at the NYT, is extremely unfair to the other contestants on that tribe. The next 2 paragraphs are:
Zeke Smith, familiar to viewers of the previous season, went blank. His eyes lost focus, and it seemed, for a moment, as if he were disassociating. The thing that he had wanted to avoid was now about to unfold, on national television.

Mayhem ensued. Words like “deception” were thrown around. Repeatedly, Mr. Smith was accused of having misled his fellow tribe members because, yes, he was — or had been — trans.
Look at all the passive voice in the last 3 sentences! It gives the impression that a lot of tribemates turned on Zeke, but everyone was strongly supportive of Zeke. Varner, fighting for survival, called Zeke deceptive. Everyone else criticized Varner so severely that I said out loud "He's going to have to commit suicide." Varner was so deeply shamed that he apologized over and over and he too was extremely supportive of Zeke after he realized, under the pressure of all of his tribemates, that he had made an abysmal social blunder.

Mayhem ensued. Yeah: against Varner.

Words like “deception” were thrown around.  Only by Varner, and only trying to save his own skin. No one — absolutely no one — took the serious position that Zeke had done something wrong by following a personal policy of what I call gender privacy.

The antagonism against Varner — who is openly gay — was so intense and obvious that they didn't even need a vote to oust him. Jeff Probst (the host of "Survivor") simply observed that everyone already knew the outcome and all Varner's tribemates agreed.

You can watch the episode on line, here.

"Do you think in your lifetime you’ve drunk more wine than water?"/"That’s a good question. Certainly, the last twenty years, yes."

"I don’t drink that much water, you know? It’s an interesting thing, because now there is an obsession with water. I mean, we go 20 feet, we go walking, and we have to have water. When I was a kid, I left in the morning to go to the woods with my brother, and we never had water. Granted, we stopped in a village, there was a fountain, you drank the water. But even now, I go play boulé or I go mushrooming for two hours, someone says, 'Do you want some water?' No! I can go two hours without a bottle of water."

So begins the GQ interview with Jacque Pépin, which I got to via Metafilter.

At the New Flower Café...

P1130135

... you can talk about whatever you want (and here's where I prompt you to consider doing your Amazon shopping through The Althouse Portal).

"The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump..."

"... part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said," The Washington Post reports.
The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor....

“This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance,” Page said in an interview Tuesday. “I have nothing to hide.” He compared surveillance of him to the eavesdropping that the FBI and Justice Department conducted against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

"Putin Meets With Tillerson in Russia After Keeping Him Waiting."

The NYT reports.
After Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson waited for much of the day, wondering whether he would get to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin, the two men sat down at the Kremlin late Wednesday afternoon in the first face-to-face meeting between the Russian leader and a top official in the Trump administration....
Was this a scripted dance?
 
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"I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late."

"I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve. I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary.”

Said Trump, quoted by Michael Goodwin in a NY Post column titled "Trump won’t definitively say he still backs Bannon."

What struck me most was not that Trump is distancing himself from Bannon or — as I would put it — showing his own sensitivity over accusations that Bannon is somehow Trump's brain. What got me is that he's still saying "crooked Hillary." He's President of the United States. She's reduced to simple citizenship and resorting to posing in pink shoes to get attention. Why is he still hurling the epithet? Maybe it's part of the overall argument that nothing can change him....

I've got to be me was big campaign theme. The old Sammy Davis Jr. song just started playing in my head. I google Trump I’ve Gotta Be Me and get an article titled "Trump: 'I’ve Gotta Be Me'":
“You know, I am who I am. It’s me. I don’t want to change. Everyone talks about, ‘Oh, well, you’re going to pivot, you’re going to.’ I don’t want to pivot. I mean, you have to be you.”
That seemed like a perfect quote to add to this post, and then I kept reading the linked article and was amazed to see that he said that on the day he added Steve Bannon to his staff:
Later in the day came an announcement about the shake-up of his campaign staff.
Donald Trump, following weeks of gnawing agitation over his advisers’ attempts to temper his style, moved late Tuesday to overhaul his struggling campaign by rebuffing those efforts and elevating two longtime associates who have encouraged his combative populism.

Stephen Bannon, a former banker who runs the influential conservative outlet Breitbart News and is known for his fiercely anti-establishment politics, has been named the Trump campaign’s chief executive. Kellyanne Conway, a veteran Republican pollster who has been close to Trump for years, will assume the role of campaign manager.
Paul Manafort – who was ostensibly brought in to “professionalize” Trump’s campaign and image – will apparently stay on, but will obviously be boxed in by these changes....
So remember, Trump brought Bannon in because Trump wanted to be Trump and Manafort had been trying to change him. In that light, reread Trump's new statement. It's the same point: Trump is Trump and no one else's creation. Is that a failure to say he backs Bannon or just a restatement of what Bannon always was to Trump — a man who reinforces Trump's determination to be Trump?

"Creating 702WI was a bit of an experiment for Morgan, who mused, 'If you build it, will they come?'"

"It is the first coworking space of its kind in Madison, so only time will tell if the writers’ refuge will succeed. But as a multipurpose space, Morgan has hope it will be a place that people enjoy."

If you write — outside of job that provides you with a workspace — why wouldn't you just write at home? I'm wondering, as I write in my workspace at home, which I love now and preferred even before retiring from a job that included a nice office.

1. Your home might be unsuitable. Too small. Too noisy.

2. Psychologically, you might need (or want) to leave the house and have the feeling of going to work, giving the day some structure, to keep you from drifting and floating and feeling that your work is everything and, simultaneously, nothing.

3. You want co-workers — people you see every day, colleagues — in your life. It's not the same thing as having friends. Friends you see when and if you want to see them, and there's always the question whether you want to see them, whether they're worth the effort, whether they're good enough friends. Co-workers are different, though not necessarily in a good way. If a particular co-working space has a great group, it's worth a lot. If it's new, weird people to annoy you — and I think the best writers have a high capacity to give and feel annoyance — then you've got a problem. (And you might be the problem.)

4. It costs money — $200 a month if you commit for a year — but you're getting WiFi. Cut off your WiFi at home, save money, and make home more of a refuge.

5. ???

Why did Ruth Bader Ginsburg call Lindsey Graham one of "the women of the Senate"?

She was giving a little talk at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, where she was receiving an honor, and said:
Let’s hope members of Congress, the members that Allegheny College has already honored, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain; the women of the Senate, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham. Let’s hope that they and others of good will lead in restoring harmonious workways.
Video at the link. Scroll to 3:49 to see and hear the quoted part. Here's a quiz to test your perception:

What's the most likely reason RBG called Graham "one of the women of the Senate"?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Shopping for a new car without the ability to perceive new car smell.

It's very dull!

I left feeling cured of the interest in buying a new car. Who cares? What's the point!

April 11, 2017

"Imagine you're the camera taking this picture. Forced to memorize your kind disassembled like that."

"These are cartel methods of torture."

There needs to be a word for the feeling that you are having a feeling that there needs to be a word for.

That's the feeling I encounter as New York Magazine suggests that I read "10 Extremely Precise Words for Emotions You Didn’t Even Know You Had."

This is an article from last June, so why mention it now? It popped up as related when I was reading something else, something new, in the "Science of Us" section.

But it was freaky because only a couple hours earlier I had an experience that caused me to think about this very subject — a particular emotion that could do with a word.

What was the experience? A song comes on the car radio — it was Ringo Starr singing "It Don't Come Easy" — and my immediate instinct was to change the station, but because Meade immediately began singing along, my original instinct was overridden. My mild inconsequential distaste for the song gave way to my awareness that Meade must be enjoying the song. I was thinking of how often we have these slight inclinations that get tipped the other way by sensing that someone else has a preference, perhaps only an exquisitely slight one, and I thought that if there were a word that expressed that experience, we might notice it quite a bit and benefit by the heightened awareness.

Now, I'm thinking we need a word for the feeling that if there were a word for a specific feeling it would enhance our existence.

Packaged revelry — called "Revelry" — rejected...

... as the kids prefer the real thing, AKA the Mifflin Street Block Party.

"The White House on Tuesday accused the Russian government of engaging in a cover-up of the chemical weapons attack last week by Syrian forces that prompted American airstrikes..."

"... saying that United States intelligence and numerous contemporaneous reports confirmed that the Syrians used sarin gas on their own people," the NYT reports.

Why did Peggy Noonan win the Pulitzer Prize for commentary?

She's been around a long time, and I hadn't noticed that she was getting especially good, so why give her the prize in 2016?

The official statement credits here with "rising to the moment with beautifully rendered columns that connected readers to the shared virtues of Americans during one of the nation’s most divisive political campaigns." And it lists 10 columns, all of which can be read at the link (which is great, since they're originally published at the Wall Street Journal, where you need and probably don't have a subscription):
  1. February 27, 2016 Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected
  2. March 5, 2016 The Republican Party is Shattering
  3. April 23, 2016 That Moment When 2016 Hits You
  4. May 7, 2016 Trump Was a Spark, Not the Fire
  5. August 27, 2016 A Wounded Boy’s Silence, And the Candidates’
  6. September 10, 2016 Remembering a Hero, 15 Years After 9/11
  7. September 24, 2016 The Year of the Reticent Voter
  8. October 22, 2016 Imagine a Sane Donald Trump
  9. November 26, 2016 No More Business as Usual, Mr. Trump
  10. December 31, 2016 Shining a Light on ‘Back Row’ America
If I can trust the accuracy of my tagging, I only blogged about 2 Peggy Noonan columns in 2016, and neither is among the 10 the Pulitzer people liked so much.

I blogged about "What to Tell Your Children About Trump" here. I tweaked her as "Kind of vulnerable to flattery." Trump had talked to her on the phone about how she'd been "unfair to him, sometimes mean, sometimes really, really mean." I guess the Pulitzer people liked other columns — the ones where she was mean.

And I blogged about her November 11th column — "What Comes After the Uprising" — here.

"The new age of Ayn Rand: how she won over Trump and Silicon Valley."

A piece over at The Guardian by Jonathan Freedland.
... Trump’s offer to the electorate in 2016 was not a promise of an unfettered free market... So why does Trump claim to be inspired by her? The answer, surely, is that Rand lionises the alpha male capitalist entrepreneur, the man of action who towers over the little people and the pettifogging bureaucrats – and gets things done....

Which brings us to the new wave of Randians... the princes of Silicon Valley....

"Now [Hillary Clinton] can add 'fashion muse' and 'footwear model' to the list [of important titles], thanks to Katy Perry, who designed a pair of pumps in her honor, dubbing them The Hillary."

"And when Clinton got her hands on a pair of the baby pink pumps, she was more than happy to show them off to their best effect for Perry’s Instagram."

Effuses People Magazine's "Style" section.

Speaking of style, what atrocious writing style! When I hear "got her hands on a pair of baby pink pumps," I'm the kind of person who immediately wants to say: and got her feet on a pair of adult blue gloves. And when I hear "more than happy," I go looking for the George Carlin clip:



ADDED: I got to that link via Drudge, who follows it with what I think is a non-accidental line-up of links:



Thanks to Fernandinande (commenting in the café post below) for prompting me to acknowledge Drudge and to perceive intentional drudgtaposition. Notice how the word "pump" appears twice. Well, what do you think? Intentional comic juxtaposition? Here's another way to frame the screenshot. What do you think of this? (Click to enlarge and clarify.)



You've got the 2 images of something normally unseen. We peer in utero at unborn babies. (What are they doing?) And we gawk endlessly at a belly a man had dressed to cover. Bracketing these 2 images of human beings who did not choose self-exposure are 2 women who dearly want and demand our attention, who pose with forthright willingness for the camera: 1. Hillary Clinton, positioning herself like a cute-girl marionette, displays pop-star-branded candy-colored shoes, and 2. Ayn Rand stares at us in utterly serious black and white, imposing her imperious will that says we must see her as both distinctly beautiful and absolutely devoid of girlishness.

At the Fuzzy Bud Café...

P1130187

... you can talk about whatever you want (and consider shopping via The Althouse Amazon Portal).

This is a wonderful palate cleanser after yesterday's exposed-belly doctor getting dragged off the airplane.



It's Natasha Exelby, soaring in the stardom of viral media after screwing up in her role as a newsreader for the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home."

"Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labour. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalised that people are being traded in public...."
One 34-year-old survivor from Senegal said he was taken to a dusty lot in the south Libyan city of Sabha after crossing the desert from Niger in a bus organised by people smugglers. The group had paid to be taken to the coast, where they planned to risk a boat trip to Europe, but their driver suddenly said middlemen had not passed on his fees and put his passengers up for sale.

“The men on the pick-up were brought to a square, or parking lot, where a kind of slave trade was happening. There were locals – he described them as Arabs – buying sub-Saharan migrants,” said Livia Manante, an IOM officer based in Niger who helps people wanting to return home....
Meanwhile, in Europe: "The number of people reported as potential victims of slavery and human trafficking in the UK has more than doubled in the past three years."
"We are starting to recognise a lot more cases as being human trafficking cases," [said Tamara Barnett, from the Human Trafficking Foundation]. "It used to be very much seen as just the trafficking of women into the sex trade. There was quite a narrow view of what it involved but now there is definitely a broader view of what is human trafficking."...

A man who was trafficked to work in the UK from Poland has spoken to the BBC about his experience working in the West Midlands.... "To begin with it was really good, then they started taking half my money and I felt like I was imprisoned," he said. "I started work at 7.30am and finished at 17:00. I should have earned between £380-£400 a week. The money was being transferred into my bank account, but when I went to withdraw it, a person came with me and I would only get half of it. I realised this was definitely wrong and I escaped."

I think the obvious answer is no, but "Is It Okay to Make Your Seder About Trump?"...

... seems to be an issue worth examining to Jonathan Chait.

Is this just another variation on the perennial Thanksgiving columns about sitting down to dinner with your right-wing uncle? Well, it's not just the standard problem of sitting down to dinner with relatives, because "the sitting president [bears] such an uncanny resemblance to a villain from a traditional Jewish narrative."
Like the Pharaoh, Trump is a builder fond of exploitative labor practices and an arch-nationalist, with a nasty habit of making deals then welching on his side of the bargain. To be sure, Trump bears an even stronger resemblance to Purim’s vain, sexually entitled, easily manipulated King Achashverosh.

Both Passover and Purim lend themselves easily to Trump-bashing because they revolve around a common theme deeper than the particulars of their stories: They celebrate a minority group’s survival against persecution, and contain larger warnings about the kinds of conditions that give rise to such persecution....
By the way, speaking of minority groups... is it "welching" — as Chait has it — or "welshing." My research shows both spellings — going all the way back to the 1860s. I'm looking at the (unlinkable OED), which says the word is "Sometimes considered offensive in view of the conjectured connection with Welsh people." But the etymology is "uncertain" and only possibly based on the "alleged dishonesty of Welsh people."

I had thought that "welsh" was the correct spelling and those those who used "welch" were trying to cover up the insult to the Welsh, but now I think "welch" should be preferred, because it's a good, pithy, meaningful word and the ethnic slur origin isn't established and shouldn't be encouraged.

Also, I've read all the quotes at OED, and my favorite one — from Hunter S. Thompson — spells it with the c: "You're 100% right in saying I've ‘fucked up’, but a little ridiculous in implying that I'm welching."

ADDED: If you accept the analogy that Trump is equivalent to the Pharaoh, you are saying that  ordinary working Americans are the equivalent of slaves. That is disrespectful to the suffering of slaves — and there are many slaves in the world even now — and should be anathema.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ambrose said:
Isn't Passover about a large number of undocumented people LEAVING a country? Didn't the Pharaoh want them to STAY AND KEEP WORKING FOE SLAVE WAGES? I think that makes the Pharaoh the complete opposite of Trump. No two people in history have ever been less alike.

"I have come to realize how exhausting and narcissistic and ultimately boring this whole dynamic is, and I finally feel brave enough to create some distance for myself."

In the second-to-last episode of "Girls," one of the girls takes her parting shot.

"Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said on Tuesday that the reign of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was 'coming to an end' and warned that Russia was at risk of becoming irrelevant..."

"... in the Middle East by continuing to support him. Mr. Tillerson, in comments made just before he traveled to Moscow for a high-stakes summit meeting, sought to clear up the United States’ position on Syria while also declaring that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia needed to choose whether to side with Mr. Assad or the West. Russia can be a part of the discussions 'and play an important role,' Mr. Tillerson said at a Group of 7 meeting in Lucca, Italy, or it 'can maintain its alliance with this group, which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interests longer term.'"

The NYT reports.

Also in the NYT this morning: "Feud Over Syria Missile Strike May Have an Upside for U.S. and Russia."
“The hope for a privileged relationship demanded big gestures and compromises, special restraint and complaisance of the tango partners,” Aleksandr Baunov wrote in an opinion piece on the analytical website Carnegie.ru, of which he is editor. “Now none of it is necessary, and the partner can fearlessly step on the other’s toes.”...

Aleksandr Shumilin, head of the Center for Research of Middle Eastern Conflicts, said Mr. Putin was interested in weakening Russia’s dependence on Mr. Assad and did not want to feel responsible for all of his actions.

“The problem is that Russia cannot afford to distance itself in public, as Mr. Assad has already become a hero of the Russian television,” Mr. Shumilin said. “Therefore, on the surface the rhetoric will remain the same, but deep inside there will be efforts to establish some kind of a cooperation and mutual understanding.”

"Just a few years earlier, at age 23, I had purchased an abandoned house in Detroit from a live auction for $500..."

"The structure was filled with trash and had lived a hard life: two monstrous stories of no doors or windows, plumbing, or electricity – nothing. The backyard was a literal jungle, the porch needed to be ripped off and done again, the front yard looked like it wanted to be cut with a scythe...."

The Pope's Laundromat — the Lavanderia di Papa Francesco.

6 washing machines and 6 dryers to be used — by poor people — for free. Free detergent and fabric softener too.

NYT uncovers ATF scandal that began in 2011 and has something to do with Fast and Furious.

" Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used a secret, off-the-books bank account to rent a $21,000 suite at a Nascar race, take a trip to Las Vegas and donate money to the school of one of the agent’s children, according to records and interviews...."
Government spending typically requires a strict audit trail, but the money deposited in the bank account came from an unlikely source. A.T.F. agents told the informants to buy untaxed cigarettes, mark up the cost and sell them at a profit. The sales made millions of dollars, which poured into the account....

It is not clear whether Obama administration officials authorized the unorthodox account, which was opened at a time when the A.T.F. said it was tightening restrictions on undercover operations. The agency was also moving to improve its management after a botched gun trafficking investigation known as Fast and Furious.

Normally, agents use government-controlled funds known as “churning accounts” to finance tobacco smuggling investigations. The new rules imposed greater oversight over churning accounts. By using the secret bank account, agents in Bristol avoided that oversight....

April 10, 2017

50 years ago today: The Supreme Court heard oral argument in Loving v. Virginia.

Listen to the audio here (where you can read the transcript as you go).
[T]here's actually one simple issue, and the issue is, may a State proscribe a marriage between two adult consenting individuals because of their race....

These are slavery laws pure and simple.... [These] laws go back to the 1600s.... There was a 1662 Act which held that the child of a Negro woman and a white man would be free or slave according to the condition of his mother. It's a slavery law and it was only concerned with one thing, and it's an important element in this matter.

Negro man, white woman, that's all they were really concerned with. I think maybe all these still concern with. It's purely the white woman, not purely the Negro woman....

Dark sky.

P1130201

This afternoon in Olbrich Gardens.

Closeup:

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"Trapping [the beavers] might have gone unnoticed if not for retired Madison police detective Sara Petzold."

"She lives near Warner Park and frequently visits with her giant schnauzer, Milo. On a recent walk, she spotted a truck with the license plate 'ITRAP.'"
“First thing I thought was, ‘Uh-oh,’” says Petzold. She then learned the truck belonged to a trapper contracted with the city to remove beavers. He told her that he was placing traps near the underwater entryways to the beavers’ lodge.

“I asked if he was trapping to relocate the beavers or kill them. He said, ‘Some of them are over 70 pounds, and it’s really hard to find a place to put them,’” says Petzold. “He then told me the traps hold the beavers underwater until they asphyxiate. It was disturbing to me that the city was essentially drowning beavers without any notice to residents.”
Warner Park is susceptible to flooding and reverting to marshland if beavers build dams, so they were a genuine problem. You can see why the city might want to deal with pest animals in a low-visibility manner. But the trapper had a vanity license plate, and the animal lover was a retired police detective, and now whatever is to be done must be done in the harsh light of empathy. 

"A man on an overbooked United Airlines flight was forcibly removed from his seat and dragged through the aisle on Sunday..."

"... and video of the anguished protests by him and other passengers spread rapidly on Monday as people criticized the airline’s tactics."

That's the NYT report. Here's something in the WaPo report that isn't in the Times:
“He says, ‘Nope. I’m not getting off the flight. I’m a doctor and have to see patients tomorrow morning,’” [said Tyler Bridges, the passenger who made the video, about the man who refused to leave]...

The man became angry as the manager persisted, Bridges said, eventually yelling. “He said, more or less, ‘I’m being selected because I’m Chinese.’”
I can't bring myself to look at the video, but I'm not as sympathetic to this person as most people seem to be. I don't like the bumping of passengers, but if it's going to happen, and if the airline uses some random method to select the ones to bump, I don't see how the chosen person should be allowed to avoid the bad luck by refusing to leave.

Obviously, choosing people by race would be unacceptable, but this man seems to have resorted to that accusation only after his go-to I'm-a-doctor argument failed. That is, at first he argued in favor of discrimination, that he should get a special doctor privilege. That amounts to an argument that people with less important jobs should be discriminated against — class discrimination.

Maybe it would be a good idea for the airline to have a policy of giving doctors a special privilege over other passengers, but if it hasn't, I don't see why the doctor should get a different outcome through civil disobedience tactics, physically resisting. If the airline actually had a race discrimination policy, I would support resistance, but I don't believe that accusation. I think this was someone who, like everybody else who didn't volunteer to leave, wanted to stay on the flight. Should everyone willing to resist get to stay and the burden of the bumping fall on the people who are too polite and unselfish to go into resistance mode? I just don't understand how caving into people like this will work.

And, again, I don't like bumping, but my understanding is that airline fares are kept low by overbooking and bumping when needed. Doesn't everyone know they are exposed to that risk when they buy an airline ticket?

ADDED: This post already had a "hypocrisy" tag (aimed at the doctor), so check me for hypocristy by reading what I wrote back in 2004 about a bumping incident involving my sons:

At the Early Lunch Café...

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... dig in.

Talk about whatever you want, and — if you need to shop — please consider using The Alhouse Amazon Portal.

Swearing up a storm... over-swearing.

"Gorsuch was sworn in behind closed doors at the Supreme Court building, the first of two oaths he will take today."
His wife, Marie Louise Gorsuch, held the family bible as her husband was administered the oath of office during a roughly 10-minute ceremony. Their two daughters were present, as were Justice Antonin Scalia's widow and all of the justices and their spouses, with the exception of Justice Stephen Breyer.

A public ceremony will be held at the White House at 11 a.m. ET and Justice Anthony Kennedy will administer the second oath of office to Gorsuch. Trump and all of the justices are expected to be at the White House later today for the second ceremony.

Then Justice Anthony Kennedy administers the judicial oath to his former law clerk in a public ceremony in the White House Rose Garden....
Do you think this is over-swearing?
 
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