June 24, 2017

The NYT takes on the problem of groups of non-gay women going to gay bars.

"How ‘Gay’ Should a Gay Bar Be?"
“They use the space to become ‘wild girls,’” said Chris McKenzie, a 35-year-old computer programmer in West Hollywood. “It’s not at all in concert with what the gay men are there for.”...

“They think of us as ‘fun’ and ‘free,’” said Vin Testa, a 27-year-old educator in Washington, D.C. “It seems like they’re coming in to find their next accessory, like a new handbag.”...

“The women always say they come to these bars to be left alone,” said Larry Kase, a comedy writer in West Hollywood. “But it seems like they want as much attention from gay men as possible.”...

Chadwick Moore, a 33-year-old freelance writer in New York, [said gay bars] have become a choice setting for first Tinder dates by straight couples. “I believe the women are thinking, ‘I’m going to take the guy somewhere where I’m the only one to look at,’” he said. “Also, ‘I can check out whether he’s “down with the cause.”’”

"CNN has admitted it printed what President Donald Trump calls 'very fake news' and retracted..."

"... a demonstrably inaccurate hit piece on the President and his allies after a Breitbart News investigation uncovered significant inaccuracies and flaws in CNN’s work."

Reports Breitbart.

At the Catfé...


... it's lazy summer Saturday.

(But if you must shop, please shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Urban Cowboy?

From "Both Sides of a Breakup," The Cut speaks to both parties to a breakup and then presents the different points of view as a dialogue. These are real people (presumably!), a 38-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man. He's a free-lance photographer — "super-talented," as she puts it. She has a "skin-care business," but found money "always tight." At first she thought maybe he lives like he does because there's "family money," but there wasn't:
Jackson: I didn’t make the kind of money she wanted me to, which bothered her way more than me. I feel like I’m lucky that I have a rent-stabilized apartment and work that I enjoy. In my eyes, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t provide for her or her son. Love, affection, adventure. I was devoted. Dollar signs weren’t a thing as far as I was concerned.

Carly: It started to annoy me, big time, how little he worked, how rarely he thought about money or ambition. He’d do the littlest thing, like maybe smoke a joint with my friends, and I’d just boil over inside. Like, “You fucking stoner deadbeat!” Meanwhile, all my friends were also smoking and I’d be like, “Cool, love you guys.” But I was conflicted — he and my son had gotten so close and there was so much I loved about Jackson too.

Jackson: She wanted to change this very innate quality about me, which is that I’m not driven by money. I’m not materialistic. I don’t need fancy things. I just need good people, creativity, inspiration, honesty, a beautiful woman, a cold beer on my front stoop…

Carly: The Urban Cowboy thing got real old.

Jackson: I would have done anything to make it work, except get a terrible, soul-crushing job. And that was the only thing she ever wanted me to do.…
Her new boyfriend is a lawyer — a "corporate lawyer." No word on what he looks like, but Jackson was "really sexy, long-ish hair, amazing eyes, great body."

Anyway... "Urban Cowboy"? That's a reference were supposed to get in 2017? Is it the John Travolta movie from 1980?

I'm not seeing anything useful at Urban Dictionary, where the least up-voted entry seems most apt: 
An urban male who wants to be a [rugged] individualist without performing manual labor to make a living. These people include actors, singers (mainly country singers), government workers & Democrats. All Symbolism, but no Substance. They want the look, but not the work.

"Never have I ever felt more grateful for my limited responsibilities in life than when I was wandering through the Magic Kingdom watching other families roll their eyes and sometimes yell at each other."

"With every child’s tantrum I witnessed, I felt more at peace. Someday, I’m sure, I will have to peel a screaming toddler off the ground outside Peter Pan’s Flight. On this trip, however, I only had to answer to myself and to my boyfriend, who agreed that we should definitely try a wine in every country at Epcot. It was perfect, unexpected Zen."

From "Go to Disney World Now, Before You Have Kids," by Allie Jones in New York Magazine.

If the travel idea is go where you can see other people struggling under circumstances that do not afflict you, then why not visit prisons and cancer wards? I guess the key is that children are a very particular kind of circumstance.

You might be troubled by the impression that children are wonderful and the meaning of life and that you ought to get to that real life soon so you can live and do all the things people do with children like take them to Disney World.

If that's how you're thinking, a trip to Disney World without children could work well. First, it would prove that you can go to Disney World without having a child first. Second, it would help you see that there's good and bad in having or not having children. It's not that you'd learn that children afflict you like prison or cancer, but just that it's a mixed experience, a different mix from life without children.

The use of the word "pornified" in a NYT headline gets me to read a Bret Stephens column.

It's not that "pornified" isn't a word. I mean, it's not in my dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary:
But it's in the Urban Dictionary:
And it doesn't need to be in any dictionary for you to understand it as a coinage. The word has appeared in the NYT quite often enough over the last dozen years, beginning in 2005, mostly in reference to the book "Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families."

But Ross Douthat brought the word to the op-ed page in 2010, in "Sex, Marriage and Upper Class Obligation":
American elites don’t have a strong personal interest in trying to stigmatize pornographers (instead of being amused by their antics), or in allying with anti-obscenity crusaders (instead of making fun of them). But I think there’s a pretty good case that they should do it anyway, because other people’s children, further down the ladder of education and income and prestige, might stand to gain from a less pornified society. That would be a kind of noblesse oblige, and it would be admirable and welcome.
Douthat was talking about actual pornography, but that's not what's going on in the new column by Bret Stephens (the other conservative columnist in the NYT). Here, the word is used metaphorically — and ironically titillating us in "How Twitter Pornified Politics."
This is the column in which I formally forswear Twitter for good.... Why now? Because... it occurred to me that Twitter is the political pornography of our time: revealing but distorting, exciting but dulling, debasing to its users, and, well, ejaculatory. It’s bad for the soul and, as Donald Trump proves daily, bad for the country.
Stephens says he was influenced by this New York Magazine article — "Pornhub Is the Kinsey Report of Our Time" — which has this quote" "Pornography trains us to redirect sexual desire as mimetic desire. That is, the sociological theory — and the marketers’ dream — that humans learn to want what they see."

Stephens explains:
That is what Twitter has been for our politics... If pornography is about the naked, grunting body, Twitter is about the naked, grunting brain. It’s whatever pops out. And what pops out is altogether too revealing.
That's what I like about Twitter and perhaps why my favorite thing about Donald Trump is his tweeting. I want the nakedness of the mind. Trump is great at tweeting, so to continue the metaphor, I wonder if Stephens's withdrawal from Twitter is like a guy deciding to abstain from sex because he's not up to the high-level antics he sees in pornography.

Is the analogy imperfect? When you have sex you're not (usually!) making pornography, but everyone who tweets is just writing a few words on Twitter. What the President of the United States does is, in form, exactly what any one of us can do — write a few words. The President just happens to be brilliantly effective at it. But as Stephens sees it, Twitter fits Trump's "style of crowd politics: unmediated, blunt and burst-like." It's "the reptilian medium for the reptilian brain."

If all that haughtiness and puritanism about terse speech and porn is making you want a laugh at Stephens's expense, let me show you what I encountered scrolling through the last few days of Stephens's Twitter feed:
The reptilian medium for the reptilian brain... indeed.

Mark Zuckerberg is in Iowa — running for President? —  and I'm scrutinizing the the rhetoric.

"I'm visiting small towns in Iowa, and just stopped in Wilton, population 2,800," says Zuckerberg, presumably somewhere on the path to running for President. He seems to be wondering why people even live in Wilton, Iowa. I mean, his theme is economic mobility demands geographic mobility. Boldface added:
Research on economic mobility shows that your ability and willingness to move for better opportunity often determines whether your quality of life will be better than your parents'. In many places, people are less likely to move, and that contributes to less upwards economic mobility.

However, in many places in Iowa and across the Midwest, people are raised with values that lead them to be more likely to move to other places for college or jobs, and therefore have greater upwards mobility...

The people I met in Wilton shared these values around mobility....
Wilton is doing better than some other towns in Iowa, and Zuckerberg met some people in Wilton who'd moved to Wilton from somewhere else in Iowa. Zuckerberg — who's lived his life in the Northeast and northern California — has found a way to say Honey, how come you don't move?* to Iowa people without seeming to reject Iowa. But Iowans better at least be willing to move somewhere else in Iowa if they want to escape blame for your downward mobility.

In Z's political rhetoric, willingness to blame the individual is expressed in the positive: You people of the Midwest have values. Your values will get you moving economically, because your values will make you face up to the reality that you need to mobilize out of the Midwest to a thriving economic hotspot like Wilton, Iowa.

I'm making a new tag: Zuckerberg rhetoric. I only make a special "rhetoric" tag for a person when I'm seriously following a run for President and I expect a lot of material.

By the way, Mark Zuckerberg is only 33 years old, not old enough yet to be President, but old enough to run. Anybody who wants to support him will have to give up the argument that it was ridiculous for Trump to think he could begin a political career with the office of President and that a lifetime of experience in business isn't transferable to the presidency. (And Zuckerberg is less than half Trump's age, and his career in business is only 13 years long, and Trump had half a century in business.)

* The italicized words are the last line of Bob Dylan's "On the Road Again."

June 23, 2017

At the Stalking Cat Café...



... you can talk about anything you want.

And if you need to buy a cat bell or anything else, please consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Divorce and adultery were considered shameful, and the era was one of making do—the prevailing maxim was 'Cou he,' or 'Improvise together.'"

"People learned to be content with patched clothes, bland meals of leftovers, and serviceable if unromantic unions. But now, she said, economic progress had diversified people’s choices: 'Money buys options. Men with cash want upgrades in everything, wives included.' Turning her face away from me, the woman said quietly, almost to herself, 'Something I figured out recently is that, in my bones, I don’t respect him—not his character or treatment of others. I think that, deep down, he knows this.' I asked her why, in that case, she didn’t consider divorce, and she paused, brushing a finger across the rim of her sunglasses. 'You know, for a while, I also asked myself the same question,' she said. 'I realized it’s because I’ve sacrificed too much for this marriage. It’s like a house I’ve given my life to construct, but that effort is hardly felt by people on the outside. Then, one day, he decides he wants to kick me out because he feels like it—how can I let him?'"

From "China’s Mistress-Dispellers/How the economic boom and deep gender inequality have created a new industry," by Jiayang Fan in The New Yorker. In China, a mistress is called a "Little Third," and one can have a career as a "Mistress Dispeller."

And here's a quote from one mistress dispeller: "Marriage is like the process of learning to swim... It doesn’t matter how big or fancy your pool is, just like it doesn’t always matter how good your husband is. If you don’t know how to swim, you will drown in any case, and someone else who knows how to swim will get to enjoy the pool."

"When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? I want to clarify: I’m not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it’s been a while and maybe it’s time."

Said the terribly stupid Johnny Depp. (NYT)

I think sometimes people who are very beautiful don't get a good read of how stupid they are. It's unfair really. Unfair to the rest of us that they are so good looking, and unfair to them that they don't get normal feedback over the course of a lifetime.

"Any Obamacare replacement needs to cover more people than Obamacare, or else it is dead on arrival."

"Any skilled persuader would see that," says Scott Adams.
Now, President Trump and the Republicans have the “going second” problem. The public will compare their proposed bill with Obamacare and conclude that the one metric they understand – the number of people covered – does not compare favorably with Obamacare. The contrast is fatal.

"California invested heavily in solar power. Now there's so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it."

The L.A. Times reports.
When there isn’t demand for all the power the state is producing, CAISO [the California Independent System Operator, which runs the electric grid and shares responsibility for preventing blackouts and brownouts] needs to quickly sell the excess to avoid overloading the electricity grid, which can cause blackouts. Basic economics kick in. Oversupply causes prices to fall, even below zero. That’s because Arizona has to curtail its own sources of electricity to take California’s power when it doesn’t really need it, which can cost money. So Arizona will use power from California at times like this only if it has an economic incentive — which means being paid....
This is complicated! Why don't they store the extra in batteries? They don't know how yet.


"My dad told me he knew he wanted to marry my mom when the McDonald's opened in Moscow after the USSR crumbled and she ate 6 Big Macs in a row."

From "Married men of Reddit: what moment with your future wife made you think 'Yup, I'm asking this girl to marry me'?"

Is CBS trying to say — without taking responsibility for saying — that the 2 holdout jurors in the Cosby case were black?

The article, which went up last night, is titled "Prosecutors "really screwed it up when it came to the charges" against Cosby, juror says." Here's the key paragraph:
The jury was comprised of seven men and five women, and two jurors were African American. The juror told CBS News that they were not split down gender lines or age lines. He said the jurors' ages ranged from 21 to 86.
A comment from JerryK2B at the link:
The writer states "The jury was comprised of seven men and five women, and two jurors were African American. The juror told CBS News that they were not split down gender lines or age lines. He said the jurors' ages ranged from 21 to 86." So is this code for the two holdouts were African American? If it is then shame on you CBS.
Why, exactly, is it shameful?

1. Because we shouldn't talk about race? We should be colorblind? If it's okay to talk about the differences between individuals in terms of gender and age, what's wrong with talking about their race? A jury is supposed to represent the different kinds of people in the community, and we purport to value different points of view. Why shouldn't we want to think about the point of view of black people when a white woman accuses a black man of sexual assault?

2. Because it's coy? Either it's acceptable to talk about it or it's not. By using "code," CBS displays shame. It's shameful to do what you think is shameful, even if it wouldn't be shameful to do it if you were not ashamed. If you think it's wrong to say something, then don't find some sneaky way to say it. Either speak straightforwardly or keep it to yourself.

3. Because we've been given information in a form that is unclear enough that we are not able to talk about it. We are roped into the secretiveness and shame.

Meanwhile... Bill Cosby is not participating in the mainstream media shame agenda:
“Mr. Cosby wants to get back to work,” his spokesman Andrew Wyatt said on WBRC’s “Good Day Alabama” in Birmingham. “We’re now planning town halls and we’re going to be coming to this city sometime in July … to talk to young people because this is bigger than Bill Cosby. This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today, and they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying, when they’re doing certain things that they shouldn’t be doing. And it also affects married men.
Birmingham, Alabama — so central to the Civil Rights Movement — has a population that is 73.4% black.

Birmingham, Alabama... young athletes... Is the Cosby spokesman speaking in code?

"What I've told leadership very clearly is I'm going to need time, and my constituents are going to need time, to evaluate exactly how this is going to affect them."

"I personally think that holding a vote on this next week would definitely be rushed. I can't imagine, quite honestly, that I'd have the information to evaluate and justify a yes vote within just a week."

Said my sensible Senator, Ron Johnson.

June 22, 2017

Trump reveals that he doesn't have and did not make "'tapes' or recordings" of his conversations with James Comey.

Trump comes out with a 2-part tweet today:
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea...

...whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
Trump originally tweeted back on May 12th:
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
A couple weeks ago, after Comey's testimony, Trump said that he'd tell us soon whether there were tapes and reporters were "going to be very disappointed with the answer." We did a poll back then about why he was being coy and not just telling us whether or not there were recordings. Here are the poll results:

Some readers observed that the first and third responses could both be true. I think that's probably right. It certainly did restrict Comey's testimony. At one point, Comey said "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," and some people took that to mean I hope there are tapes because they will prove me right, but I thought that statement could just as well mean I hope there are tapes because otherwise I'm unnecessarily restricting myself.

At the time of Trump's May 12th tweet — the original "Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes'" —  I thought it was interesting that he put "tapes" in quotes and said:
Is that to fend off inquiry into whether actual tape is used in making recordings? I remember when he famously tweeted that Obama "had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower," and later he — and others — made much of the quotation marks.
In today's tweet, he put "tapes" in quotes again but doesn't leave us wondering if he's hedging somehow. He makes it "'tapes' or recordings," with "recordings" not in quotes.

But Trump does leave some ambiguity with respect to whether there could be tapes that someone else made. He's not always so scrupulous about distinguishing between what he knows personally and what he has heard. For example, a few days ago, Trump tweeted that he's under investigation, but (according to his lawyer) he only meant that he saw that The Washington Post report that an anonymous source said that. Trump didn't personally know. Today's tweet acknowledges the strict factual reality that there could be recordings that Trump doesn't know about. I don't know if he wrote like that because he's become more precise and lawyerly in his use of language. Another motive to write that way is that he wanted to take a jab at the overreaching deep state. He succumbed to the temptation to insinuate that there are intelligence people who might record him without his knowledge.

By succumbing like that, he left open a loophole that a truly lawyerly writer would have seen and plugged. Today's tweet leaves open the possibility that he knows of recordings that he didn't make — because someone else did — and he doesn't have those recordings, but either: 1. Someone else is preserving those recordings or 2. Those recordings have been wiped (like with a cloth or something).

At the Arugula Café...


... here at Meadhouse we can't look at arugula without saying "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" but you can talk about whatever you want.

And, please, use The Althouse Amazon Portal to buy your 3/4 pants and jinbei and whatever else you might need.

"Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping. But it’s a tricky balancing act. We don’t want to dilute the magic."

"The British public and the whole world need institutions like it," said Prince Harry.

Also: "We are involved in modernising the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people... Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time."

"Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, recently tweeted that he and Queen Elizabeth II were 'friends with mutual benefits.'"

"I sympathize: English expressions are confusing, some of them feel almost deliberately obscure – designed to exclude non-native speakers from the joke," writes Mona Chalabi, who was inspired to interview her mother — whose first language is Arabic — about what various English expressions might mean.

It's a good idea, but the mother is too self-protective to serve up the kind of comic fun that, say, Ricky Gervais extracted from Karl Pilkington over the meaning of "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones":

Cosby jurors "initially voted overwhelmingly, in a non-binding poll, to find the entertainer not guilty on all three counts of aggravated indecent assault."

But in the end, it was 10 to 2 for finding him guilty of digitally penetration without consent, and it was it was 10 to 2 for finding him guilty of of the charge based on giving the woman intoxicants without her knowledge. But it was 11 to 1 to acquit him of the charge that was based on her being unconscious.

That's based on an interview given by one juror to ABC.