March 17, 2018

A view of "Love."


At the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Feel free to talk about anything.

"Ha. I read that, totally believed you meant Hillary looks like me..."

"... and said to Meade: That's what I thought. That's how I think I look walking around town. But I enjoyed the piano music. Reminded me of Chico Marx. I didn't recognize the music, but I said out loud: 'That's what bad taste sounded like 200 years ago.' And I mean that in an admiring way. Thanks for seeing me in her. I'm complimented. And I still do believe I traipse about in my natural habitat looking like broken-wrist Hillary."

I commented, in a thread where I was skimming, in which Mr. Fabulous said "She looks just a bit like the Professor, yes?" I'd blogged twice today about a picture of Hillary in India — here and here — but Mr. Fabulous was talking about Valentina Lisitsa playing "La Campanella":

"'La campanella'... is the nickname given to the third of Franz Liszt's six Grandes études de Paganini... Its melody comes from the final movement of Niccolò Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, where the tune was reinforced by a little handbell."

To test my observation, here's Chico:

"Been reading this blog so long now that when I saw this, I immediately thought of Althouse..."

Said somewhy in the Museum Café, pointing at this

Ha ha. Thanks. I think that makes my point.

"Andrew McCabe was just offered a job by [my] congressman so he can get his full retirement. And it just might work."

WaPo reports.
“My offer of employment to Mr. McCabe is a legitimate offer to work on election security,” [said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)]. “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of American democracy and both Republicans and Democrats should be concerned about election integrity.”...

The job doesn't matter so much as the fact that he's working within the federal government with the same retirement benefits until or after his 50th birthday. (Though this former official stressed that it would probably look more ethical if McCabe worked for at least a pay period rather than just one day.)

Escape from Indianapolis.


We stopped in at Milktooth to get some waffles, grits, and pancakes before hitting the road back to Madison. But there was a huge St. Patrick's Day march/walk going on when we got back to the car, and we drove way down a one-way street before we got to where the police had blocked the street off. It wasn't enough that the nice Indianapolis cop was able to give us permission to drive the wrong way on a one-way street, there were all kinds of roadblocks keeping us from escaping from this area of town, and the cop spent 10 minutes looking at his information trying to figure out what else we'd need to do. It involved finding a sequence of alleys — things that are not on Google Maps. And we had to remember these weird, winding directions.

I photographed the low-level chaos from the car window.

You know, in the movies, protagonists in strange towns — in a panic, and going at high speed — are able to find these secret escape routes.

At one point, we needed to make a left turn across the lane that the marcher/walkers were on. We were coming out of an alley, so it was not blocked off, and the cop had told us to cross in front of them — the same cop who was preventing us from cutting through from the street he was guarding. When we reached that point, there was a woman in a car in front of us, and she seemed as though she was going to hesitate forever, the stream of marcher/walkers being endless.


Meade got out of the car and — risking seeming threatening — approached her to explain what she had to do and stopped a few walkers and motioned her out before getting in the car and nudging into the left turn and over to the on-ramp to I-70 just a few feet away.


That's what I'm going to title this comic juxtaposition at Drudge today:

At the Museum Café...


... talk about anything!

ADDED: The terra cotta figure, called "Standing Woman" (1941) is by Sargent Johnson, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

I think she looks nice. It's a natural look. (Sorry about the injuries, though.)

"It takes a village: Hillary Clinton layers a scarf, shawl and custom kurta with extra-long sleeve to hide broken wrist after hotel tub fall while touring Jaipur."

Speaking completely sensibly about Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo, it's Terry Gilliam.

Finally, a real and intelligent person speaks credibly and aptly.
"It is a world of victims. I think some people did very well out of meeting with Harvey and others didn't. The ones who did knew what they were doing. These are adults, we are talking about adults with a lot of ambition. Harvey opened the door for a few people, a night with Harvey -- that's the price you pay... Some people paid the price, other people suffered from it....

"It's crazy how simplified things are becoming. There is no intelligence anymore and people seem to be frightened to say what they really think. Now I am told even by my wife to keep my head a bit low... It's like when mob rule takes over, the mob is out there they are carrying their torches and they are going to burn down Frankenstein's castle.... I don't think Hollywood will change, power always takes advantage, it always does and always has. It's how you deal with power -- people have got to take responsibility for their own selves."

"Donald Trump flops over his pink and white baby walker and rolls it around his family's modest home in Kabul, blissfully unaware..."

"... of the turmoil his 'infidel' name is causing in the deeply conservative Muslim country. The rosy-cheeked toddler's parents named him after the billionaire US President in the hope of replicating his success. But now he is at the centre of a social media firestorm in Afghanistan after a photo of hit ID papers was posted on Facebook.... 'I didn't know at the beginning that Afghan people would be so sensitive about a name,' Sayed [said]... 'When I go out of the house I feel intimidated,' he said."

Channel News Asia reports, and I see that people are so mean that some of them sank to the level where I immediately found myself: "There are even suggestions Sayed is using the moniker to wangle asylum in the United States...."

March 16, 2018

At the Escalator Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will review the case of Michelle Carter, convicted of involuntary manslaughter for texting encouragement to a man who committed suicide.

The Boston Herald reports:
“Carter is the first defendant to have been convicted of killing a person who took his own life, even though she neither provided the fatal means nor was present when the suicide occurred,” Carter’s attorneys wrote....

Carter’s lawyers urged the SJC to take the case because, they contend, convicting someone of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging another person to commit suicide “with words alone” violates the First and Fifth Amendments.
I objected to the prosecution in a number of posts, including this one:
There's too much danger of selective prosecution, going after the people who seem awful, and too much power put in the hands of suicidal people to wreak harm on others, finally going through with a suicide after someone who's making them angry lets slip with some text daring them to stop talking about it and do it already.

"Gal Gadot’s Seemingly Innocent Tribute To Stephen Hawking Pissed Off Some People/ Several disability rights advocates called it ableist."

I haven't read this HuffPo piece yet, but I'm pretty sure I know the sentimental, conventional idea that Gadot expressed and exactly why people who care about disability rights got pissed off. I'm not irascible enough to get "pissed off" about it, but I've been objecting to quite a few things, including a cartoon I saw that showed Hawking's wheelchair empty, and the figure of Hawking walking toward the stars — free at last, supposedly, even though Hawking, the real man, famously said "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

Now, I'm reading what Gadot (AKA "Wonder Woman") tweeted, and it's exactly what I thought: "Rest in peace Dr. Hawking... Now you’re free of any physical constraints. Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever."

To me, that's like saying about a Christian who has passed on something like "It's so sad that his beautiful soul is gone forever." You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism.

But it's worse than that, because it's saying that the life that he did have was a burden he's lucky to be rid of. Especially given that he did not believe in an afterlife (or so he said), the life he had was all he had. It was not worse than nothing. Hawking said (at the second link, above): "I accept that there are some things I can't do. But they are mostly things I don’t particularly want to do anyway. I seem to manage to do anything that I really want." And:
Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
I'm now reading what the supposedly pissed off people said, and it's what I thought, not just people flying off the handle and being inappropriately mean to an "innocent" actress trying to deliver a "tribute":
I think you’re fantastic Gal but this tweet is very ableist. His physical constraints didn’t stop him from changing the world. People with disabilities don’t wish for death to be free of their challenges. We wish to be valued for what we CAN do, not pitied for we can’t.
You know, Wonder Woman, Gadot's movie character, has superpowers, and we love our superpowers in the movies. We need to think harder about what we celebrate, and Hawking is a stellar example of living well within limitations, and we all have limitations.

"Chelsea Clinton Warns Media Amid Donald Trump Jr. Divorce Reports."

HuffPo reports.
"Please respect the privacy of President Trump’s grandchildren. They’re kids and deserve to not be your clickbait. Thank you."

Neil Young says "Trump likes my music. He’d come to all my shows.”

Quoted in "Neil Young Fires Back at His Biggest Troll, Dana Loesch: ‘I’m Glad I Got Under Her Skin’/The NRA spokesperson apparently harbors a burning hatred of the music icon that goes back decades" (Daily Beast).

Things you don't want — less than don't want — but you can't throw out.

Got any stuff like that?

6,000 pounds of gold and silver fell out of a Russian airplane.

The Daily News Reports.

The NYT preports the firing of General McMaster.

"But in the nine months since [he introduced his Cabinet as a 'phenomenal team of people'], Mr. Trump has fired or forced out a half-dozen of the 'incredible, talented' people in the Cabinet Room that day: his secretaries of state and health, along with his chief strategist, his chief of staff, his top economic aide and his press secretary.... ''There will always be change. I think you want to see change,' Mr. Trump said, ominously, on Thursday. 'I want to also see different ideas.' That could include replacing Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser. Three people close to Mr. Trump said that he has concluded that he should remove General McMaster, but that the time and successor were not yet something he had disclosed to others.General McMaster has often been at odds with Mr. Trump on policy. But unlike last year, when General McMaster tried to conform to please the president, he is now ready to leave and is merely waiting for Mr. Trump to ask, two people familiar with the adviser’s thinking said...."

Write Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman.

ADDED: Even stronger preporting at WaPo by Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig:
President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, according to five people with knowledge of the plans, preparing to deliver yet another jolt to the senior ranks of his administration.

Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up, these people said.

"Extra innings throughout the minor leagues will start with a runner at second base."

The NYT reports.
"We believe these changes to extra innings will enhance the fans' enjoyment of the game and will become something that the fans will look forward to on nights where the game is tied late in the contest," NAPBL President Pat O'Conner said in a statement.

"Player safety has been an area of growing concern for our partners at the Major League Baseball level, and the impact that lengthy extra innings games has on pitchers, position players and an entire organization was something that needed to be addressed."

March 15, 2018

Right outside my window, watching me blog...


... it's Meade's avatar.

Talk about anything you like in the comments. This is an open thread.

And remember The Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"'Clock boy' Ahmed Mohamed's lawsuit against Irving ISD, city dismissed."

My clock says that took too long.

"BuzzFeed may have found a legal opening to allow the porn actress Stormy Daniels to discuss her alleged relationship with President Donald Trump and a $130,000 payment she received..."

"... just before the 2016 election as part of a nondisclosure agreement she is now trying to void. The same Trump attorney who brokered the deal with Daniels, Michael Cohen, filed a libel suit in January against BuzzFeed and four of its staffers over publication of the so-called dossier compiling accurate, inaccurate and unproven allegations about Trump’s relationship with Russia. Now, BuzzFeed is using Cohen’s libel suit as a vehicle to demand that Daniels preserve all records relating to her relationship with Trump, as well as her dealings with Cohen and the payment he has acknowledged arranging in 2016...."

Politico reports.

Interesting! Read the whole thing. Seems like it could work.

By the way, I'm having a hard time remembering why I should care about something Stormy Daniels could say that I haven't already heard. The fight to keep her quiet takes up a lot of the attention we could be giving to other distractions. Perhaps most of the players have an interest in doing precisely that.

Well, I am tired of headlines like that.

"Perhaps tired of winning, the United States falls in World Happiness rankings — again" (WaPo).
President Trump has not made America happier again.

For the second consecutive year, the United States has taken a tumble in the World Happiness Report’s annual ranking of more than 150 countries, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative of the United Nations.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network...

Today — perhaps you noticed — United Nations’ International Day of Happiness.

And the U.N. sort of way of thinking about happiness has us in 18th place.
Finland is No. 1, edging out Norway, the 2017 champion. Denmark was third, followed by Iceland and Switzerland....
What kind of white supremacist propaganda is this?!

"Sanctions also were imposed on individuals known as 'trolls' and Russian organizations that supported them in connection with the election interference."

WaPo reports, just now, in "Trump administration sanctions Russian spies, trolls over U.S. election interference, cyber attacks."

"Top Democrats tell me that if they take back the House in November, a restoration of Speaker Nancy Pelosi is no longer guaranteed."

"Conor Lamb, 33, won his U.S. House race in Pennsylvania this week after saying he wouldn't vote for her for leader — a new template for moderates."

Says Mike Allen at Axios.

I love the Conor Lamb effect. I am cheering it on. Conservative Democrats! Break up the old clods of power and give us something crumbly and fresh!

Harper Lee's estate is suing over Aaron Sorkin's script for the stage version of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

The NYT reports.
In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Alabama, the estate argued that Mr. Sorkin’s adaptation deviates too much from the novel, and violates a contract, between Ms. Lee and the producers, which stipulates that the characters and plot must remain faithful to the spirit of the book.

A chief dispute in the complaint is the assertion that Mr. Sorkin’s portrayal of the much beloved Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel....

“I can’t and won’t present a play that feels like it was written in the year the book was written in terms of its racial politics: It wouldn’t be of interest,” [said the producer of the play, Scott Rudin]. “The world has changed since then.”...

"A Portland transgender woman filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming that the popular dating app Tinder is discriminating against transgender people by deleting their dating profiles."

The Oregonian reports.
Tinder offered the following statement Wednesday, saying it has not been discriminating:

“While we do not comment on pending litigation, we can say, categorically, that we do not ban users from Tinder due to gender identity. At Tinder, we fundamentally believe that gender is not binary and we support inclusivity and acceptance of all people, which is why we offer more than 37 gender identity options for our users in the United States.”
ADDED:  Are corporations people? Do they have the capacity to "fundamentally believe" anything? I'm reminded of arguments I beat to death when the Hobby Lobby case was pending. (Could a corporation have a religion that could be substantially burdened by having to pay for abortions?)

When a corporation says "we fundamentally believe X," isn't it simply deploying a slogan intended to win favor from customers? Isn't Tinder simply saying the corporation's position is what it's management has determined is most likely to enhance its profits? Or, especially in this case, it's saying what is most like to fend off lawsuits, like this one, which cost money and generate what we've determined is bad PR.

Until this post, "vamoosing" was a hapax legomenon in the Althouse archive.

And until this sentence "hapax legomenon" was a hapax legomenon in the Althouse archive.

I'd never used the word "vamoosing" (or "vamoose") in the entire 14-year archive of this blog until I used it in the previous post— which I did mainly for the alliteration with "value," but also because I really like it — it has a moose! — and had simply never thought to use it before.

I learned the term (and the concept) "hapax legomenon" reading Bryan A. Garner's "Nino and Me: My Unusual Friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia":

"Ironically, the demonstrations in favor of school safety featured, in some instances, attacks on non-conforming students."

"At one Minneapolis high school, two students stood apart from the throng calling for more gun control. One of them carried a sign that said “Blame the Culture, Not Guns.” The other carried a Donald Trump banner. He was cursed, pursued, knocked down and beaten up by “pro-school safety” demonstrators. School officials, who purport to be so concerned with the safety of their students, did nothing to intervene. It is fair to say that school administrators and teachers organized children’s demonstrations on behalf of the Democratic Party. Today, the Democratic National Committee sent out an email fundraising on the students’ gun control protests...."

Writes John Hinderaker at Powerline in "ON TODAY’S DESPICABLE MISUSE OF CHILDREN."

When I heard that the children in my school district were cutting school in my city to attend a demonstration, my reaction was as one of the school district taxpayers, who pay for this expensive benefit to children that they were just throwing out one day's worth of. I imagined their answer. Actually, I performed it out loud (we were in the car): This demonstration is a real-world education that is more valuable than one another routine day in the classroom, and if you don't believe that, you ought to ban all field trips. To which Taxpayer Me said: I do want to ban all field trips. Go places on your own time!

But now that I'm reading John Hinderaker, I'm thinking: This is a campaign finance violation! 

I loathe the use of children in politics (and if you click that link, you'll see all the past posts with this theme). I really love and feel a strong urge to protect children, so I'm not going to display the image of 3 sweet teenage girls holding up a sign that reads, "@Donald Trump/If your place of work is a gun-free zone, then why isn't mine?" I wonder whether it ever occurred to them how wrong those words are. But if I were in real-world space with them, circulating the way I did during the Wisconsin protests, I would have approached them and nicely engaged them: Excuse me, can I ask you, what does your sign mean?

And if benevolent pedantic adults would engage protesting children in conversations like that, then the public square would be a better free-speech forum, and I'd think better of the value of vamoosing the classroom.

March 14, 2018

At the Tree Shadow Café...


... you can talk all night.

(And think about using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"Richard Simmons must pay National Enquirer, Radar nearly $130,000, judge rules."

He sued them for defamation after they wrote that he was transitioning to female. The judge dismissed the lawsuit last year on the ground that it doesn't necessarily hurt one's reputation to be known as transgender, and now Simmons is ordered pay the defendants' attorneys' fees, the LA Times reports.

I don't remember reading about the judge's decision (in September), but last May I'd blogged "Richard Simmons sues The National Enquirer for defamation — but is saying that someone has had sex reassignment surgery defamatory?" At the time, I wrote:
I notice the difficulty — if one wants to maintain pro-transgender values — of arguing that it hurts one's reputation to be known to have had what the NYT calls "a sex change." The Times serves up a lawprof quote: "I think it would be an open question as to whether or not it’s capable of a defamatory meaning."
I'm trying to decide if I'm surprised at the outcome of the case. It seems that Simmons will appeal the decision.

"Once known for trouble, even sticking a piece of chicken into the opening of his penis in a restaurant, for shock value, and getting sued for it, he has visibly mellowed."

"Despite his wild success, Mr. Hirst still sees himself as an outsider in what he calls a 'stuffy' scene in which people 'look their nose down' at him for breaking rules. Like many powerful men, he retains a deep desire to be accepted by the working class world he arose from — in his case, a postwar industrial Leeds of poverty and broken homes. Growing up without money, and then being known for it as much as the work, still stings.... 'He’s sober, which makes communication a lot more reliable,' [said the art dealer Larry Gagosian]. 'He’s healthy, he’s into yoga. He likes to tease people, but there’s not a mean bone in him....”

Not even a chicken bone?

The passage is from "Damien Hirst’s Post-Venice, Post-Truth World/The artist worked in secret on his first love, painting, for his new show. This is the anti-Venice, he says."

The new paintings are colorful dots, a sentimental tribute to Bonnard and to large sellable rectangles.

That's Bonnard. Click on this link to the Gagosian gallery to see the Hirsts. Ooh, I have a bit of a feeling that if I stared at them the right way a 3-D image would pop.

Good thing nobody gave Mr. Pitt the idea of "sticking a piece of chicken into the opening of his penis." Did Damien Hirst really do that and what piece of chicken? Thigh? Wing? You're lucky I looked it up for you. From The Guardian (2000):
Hirst's new self-awareness does not seem to have eroded his talent for bad behaviour. He reveals that he is facing legal action after he dropped his trousers in the restaurant of a Dublin hotel last month and inserted a chicken bone in the end of his penis.
Ah! So it was a bone! But a bone from what piece of the chicken? The drumstick? I'm just going to picture a delicate softly pointed rib, even though it makes me think of the death of America's oddest founding father, Gouveneur Morris:
After suffering from crippling gout throughout the fall of 1816, the Founding Father’s pain grew even worse when he began to experience a urinary tract blockage. From the don’t-try-this-at-home department, Morris then attempted to clear the obstruction by using a piece of whale bone as a catheter. The unsuccessful procedure led to further internal injuries and infection. Morris passed away on November 6, 1816, in the same room in which he was born 64 years earlier on his family’s estate, Morrisania, in what today is the South Bronx.
And that's all I'm going to say about Damien Hirst for now.

When I saw this Katy Perry kiss on "American Idol," I said, "He should sue her."

I assume the contestants sign away their right to sue for various intrusions on their dignity, including sexual harassment, but I'd like to see them struggle to defend themselves. In a #MeToo world, this must be called sexual assault:

I'm glad to see the NYT covering this story and making it clear that the contestant Benjamin Glaze did not somehow, behind the scenes, agree in advance to be subjected to a scripted, faux-unwanted kiss. Glaze had never been kissed, but Perry invited him to give her a kiss on the cheek, and as he meekly complied, she rotated her head and gave him a smacking kiss on the lips:
”I was a tad bit uncomfortable,” Mr. Glaze said by phone this week, after the incident aired on the season premiere. His first kiss was a rite of passage he had been putting off with consideration. “I wanted to save it for my first relationship,” he said. “I wanted it to be special.”

“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he said.
Well, she did ask him, but only, apparently, for a cheek kiss, which he, pressured, offered. He's using "kiss" there to mean a kiss on the lips — a sexy and not merely social kiss.

Why is Hillary doubling down on her old, unfortunate "deplorables" theory?

Quoted here and in many other places where I'm seeing her criticized as clueless about why she lost, but I want to say something else.

First, the quote:
If you look at the map of the United States, there is all that red in the middle where Trump won. I won in the coasts, I win, you know, Illinois, Minnesota, places like that. But what the map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that represent two thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his whole campaign, “make America great again,” was looking backwards. You know you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian American succeeding more than you are. Whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it.
I don't think she is in any way deluded about why red-state Americans rejected her. They sensed her contempt and lack of concern for their predicament. It wasn't hard. She had contempt during the campaign even when she was under pressure to act like she cared, and it's no surprise that she has it when she's free of that pressure. To express her contempt and lack of empathy now is simply to revel in the freedom of not having to appeal to the people for their votes.

And isn't it refreshing to hear her straightforward pride in having the support of the economically successful people?  She "won the places that represent two thirds of America’s gross domestic product." And she equates having the money with being "optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward." The rich are not just different because they have more money.* They are also better people all the way down.

Are they rich because they're better, or are they better because they're rich? I don't know, but hooray for the well-off, and maybe those poor people are poor for good reason — that's what I hear from Hillary, exulting in India, where I don't know how well that sort of attitude plays.

In a really terribly stratified society, it may help to indulge in a philosophy that says you have what you rightfully deserve, and we don't have to worry too much about the dispossessed, because their own failings have got them where they belong.**

And isn't it lovely to have Hillary Clinton swan over from the United States to bestow such convenient wisdom — convenient for the best people, of course. For the losers, you are even bigger losers if you listen to someone who tells you he's going to solve your problems. That's beneath Hillary Clinton. And she's free to say so even more clearly now.

And here's the video, which conveys a truly queenly imperiousness:


* I'm reminded of the mythical exchange between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway: "The rich are different from you and me"/"Yes, they have more money." Hillary seems to be on the F. Scott side of that debate.

** I'm thinking of Social Darwinism and karma.

"What a triumph his life has been... His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more..."

"... around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds — a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination," said Cambridge cosmologist Martin Rees, quoted in "Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos/A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations to hinder his quest to answer 'the big question: Where did the universe come from?'"

Here's something from last year, "Stephen Hawking says we need global government to protect us from killer computers":
“Since civilization began, aggression has been useful inasmuch as it has definite survival advantages... It is hard-wired into our genes by Darwinian evolution. Now, however, technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war. We need to control this inherited instinct by our logic and reason."...

He suggests that “some form of world government” could solve the problems, as long it doesn’t enslave us first. “But that might become a tyranny,” he warned. Hawking now spends much of his time warning humanity of its impending doom. He recently said the human species could be brutally finished off by “rogue” robots that are too strong for us to defeat, as long as greedy humanity manages to avoid eating itself to extinction before then.

The legendary egghead is one of the most prominent critics of the unrestrained development of artificial intelligence....
The legendary egghead... you have to go back in time, before the obituaries, to encounter cheeky language like that. Or, I don't know, you're getting it here, right now.

Goodbye to the legendary egghead!

A pigment that "we think is the blackest material in the universe, after a black hole."

Writing about Anish Kapoor — in that post about "The Bean" and "The Clenched Fist of Truth" — got me to an article that reminded me that I need to write about the death of Stephen Hawking. I'm going to write about Hawking in the next post, but first I want to read this 2016 Guardian article "'You could disappear into it': Anish Kapoor on his exclusive rights to the 'blackest black'/Artist defends controversial deal with developers of Vantablack, the blackest material ‘after a black hole.'"
The pigment is comprised of microscopic stems of colour that are 300 times as tall as they are wide, so that about 99.6% of all light “just gets trapped in the network of standing segments”, he explains. “It’s literally as if you could disappear into it.” The pigment was being developed for scientific and military use due to its “masking ability”....

But when Kapoor won exclusive rights to the material in February, it came with backlash from the artistic community. “I’ve never heard of an artist monopolising a material,” the artist Christian Furr told the Daily Mail. “All the best artists have had a thing for pure black – Turner, Manet, Goya … This black is like dynamite in the art world. We should be able to use it. It isn’t right that it belongs to one man.”

Kapoor defended his exclusive use of the material: “Why exclusive? Because it’s a collaboration, because I am wanting to push them to a certain use for it. I’ve collaborated with people who make things out of stainless steel for years and that’s exclusive.” He believes much of the debate comes down to emotion. “The problem is that colour is so emotive – especially black ... I don’t think the same response would occur if it was white.”

Kapoor, who has had two decades of psychotherapy, said it’s the “psycho side” of black that makes us want to possess it. “Perhaps the darkest black is the black we carry within ourselves,” he says. “It’s not the night where you switch the lights off – it’s the night where you close your eyes. There’s a psycho side to blackness that we don’t associate with other colours readily. I suspect red does the same. I’ve worked with red a great deal, for not dissimilar reasons.”
A psycho side to blackness.... That sounds wrong, but he's an artist; what does he have to do with politics? Read in that post about "The Bean" and "The Clenched Fist of Truth" and find out.

Can you own a color? You can have a color as a trademark (like UPS has brown), but obviously Kapoor can't own "the blackest black." But what he got was a particular substance, a pigment, that allows black to be seen in way that reflects no light at all. There's a distinction between pigment and color. Color is what is perceived in your brain when light enters your eye. Pigment is stuff that light can hit before bouncing into your eye.

ADDED: Also missed by me back in 2016, the maker of the "pinkest pink" retaliated against Kapoor for hogging the Vantablack:
To keep Kapoor away from PINK, buyers of the paint were asked to sign a legal declaration at checkout to ensure that the artist and his associates would not be able to buy it for him.
And here's Kapoor's response:

"Artist Anish Kapoor 'disgusted' that The Bean appears in NRA ad."

The Chicago Tribune reports:
Anish Kapoor — the Indian-born, British sculptor responsible for the work colloquially known as The Bean — said the 2017 ad titled “The Clenched Fist of Truth” and starring NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch used footage of the sculpture without his consent “by the NRA to promote their vile message.”

The sculpture was used as a stand-in for former President Barack Obama in the ad, which was widely criticized at the time of its release in April. The ad paints a nightmarish vision of modern city life and states that “the only way to save our country, the only way to fight this violence of lies is with the clenched fist of truth.”

In a statement issued by a New York gallery that represents him, Kapoor also said that his sculpture and other works of iconic modern architecture were used by the NRA in the ad to represent a hidden and threatening “other,” or a version of “Liberal America” against which NRA members need to arm themselves....
Here's “The Clenched Fist of Truth” — which I'd never have noticed without Kapoor's complaint:

I was going to say Streisand effect, but I don't think Kapoor's speaking out hurts the very interest he is trying to promote. He's getting a platform for expressing his anti-NRA beliefs, and he's calling attention to his artwork, which appears in so much photography that he can't possibly control. You can't dominate a public square with a stationary piece of personal expression and then limit the speech of everyone who uses the square. You can only keep talking, contributing more speech, and that's what Kapoor is doing.

Like the Statue of Liberty in NYC, the "bean" — officially, "Cloud Gate" — irretrievably merges with popular culture:
The sculpture has been used as a backdrop in commercial films, notably in the 2006 Hollywood film The Break-Up...  the ending scene of Source Code...  The Vow when the lead characters share a kiss under it. It also appears in the video to "Homecoming", a song by Chicago native Kanye West...  The sculpture is also featured in the 2008 mumblecore film Nights and Weekends. It was also featured in the Bollywood film Dhoom 3 and the 2014 movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction...  A modified reproduction of Cloud Gate is also included in Watch Dogs....
There is a copyright issue here, but I'm not going to explain it.

ADDED: When you're pushing a minimal version of the Second Amendment, you're helping the other side if you simultaneously push a minimal version of the First Amendment. The NRA (in that very video) warns that our freedom is at stake. Don't threaten non-gun freedoms or you enhance the NRA's message! And that advice applies even though — or especially because — Kapoor is not an American.

"Democrat Conor Lamb clings to lead in too-close-to-call Pennsylvania House race" in a "very Trumpy district."

"On the other hand, Conor Lamb is a conservative former Marine who ran, basically, as the kind of conservative Democrat Pennsylvania used to elect routinely. If this is Dems’ formula for taking back the House, it might work, but it will mean abandoning the party’s activist base."

Writes Glenn Reynolds.

I have 4 thoughts, from least to most frivolous:

1. Lamb's presence in the House is disruptive, and hence more Trumpian than Saccone. As Trump himself put it, Saccone would be a reliable vote for Republicans. Just another Republican. But Lamb is a force for change within the Democratic Party. I'd like to see the Democrats challenged from within like that.

2. Trump asserted that Lamb, once elected, would turn into nothing more than a vote on the Democratic side — basically, the kind of nonentity that was Trump's characterization of Saccone. But Lamb faces another election in the fall, less than 8 months from now. He'll be monitored. He needs to prove that he didn't lie to the people in his district. He can't hide.

3. If the looks were switched, Saccone would have won. Obviously.

4. Even though the vote is too close to call, Lamb took the stage 12:45 a.m., introduced as "Congressman-elect," and he was all: "It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it!" That sent me on a memory trip back to that amazing Wisconsin year, 2011, when Scott Walker antagonists pinned their hopes on a state supreme court election. One of my favorite videos from the Wisconsin protests was, "April 5, keep hope alive, vote Kloppenburg":

On the day after the vote, with a 200 gap between Kloppenburg and Prosser, Kloppenburg — expressing elation and gratification — declared victory. Here's video, which you should watch knowing that within a day, in the re-canvassing, Prosser picked up over 7,000 more votes. The joy you see here is about something that did not happen:

March 13, 2018

"Conor Lamb, the Democrat running in a Republican stronghold that overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016, likely needs everything to go right Tuesday to win the special election..."

"... in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Some of his supporters are gaining confidence that everything might, indeed, go right," Real Clear Politics reports.
Lamb ran a TV ad where he faced the camera directly to remind voters that he wouldn’t support Pelosi as leader.... Paul Berginc, a retired airline mechanic, had been a Democrat for most of his life, but switched parties and supported Trump in 2016, saying that the Democratic Party “left me.” Asked about Lamb at the Trump-Saccone rally Saturday, he scoffed, dismissing the candidate as a “Pelosi Democrat.” When a reporter pointed out that Lamb had said he would not support the California congresswoman, Berginc shrugged it off: “I don’t care what he says. I would say anything too, if I were in his shoes, to get elected and that’s what he’s doing. I don’t believe it one bit.”...

"A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is '100 percent fatal.'"

MIT Technology Review reports on Nectome.

But wait a minute. Quite aside from the fact that they're going to kill you to do the procedure, the procedure only preserves your body "as a statue of frozen glass" and it's merely a possibility that "someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation." It's just the old "cryonics," with an updated preservation method and the bold innovation of murder. Oh, but it's not murder if they start with a terminally ill patient within the meaning of California’s End of Life Option Act.
“The user experience will be identical to physician-assisted suicide,” [says one of the founders]. “Product-market fit is people believing that it works.”
I understand what he's saying. It doesn't need actually to work. The benefit is realized at the point of entering death with the belief that you are not really dying.

"State Department staffers who talked to The Daily Beast described the secretary of state’s downfall as a liberation..."

"... even as they grimly recognized that recent history, literal and metaphorical, suggests that what follows liberation is chaos and occupation."
While career State Department officials have a highly difficult relationship with the president, whose approaches on everything from refugees to Russia to race relations have prompted a wave of diplomatic departures, they are in lockstep with Trump over hating Tillerson – though for much different reasons....

"Elon Musk Wanted to Buy ‘The Onion,’ Now He’s Hiring Its Staffers for a Secret Project."

The Daily Beast reports.
“It’s pretty obvious that comedy is the next frontier after electric vehicles, space exploration, and brain-computer interfaces,” Musk said. “Don’t know how anyone’s not seeing this.”
See? He thinks he's a comedian.

He's also quoted as having said, last year, that he was paging through The Onion "in order to understand the essential truth of things." And "I think you can find [the truth] in The Onion and occasionally on Reddit."

Not the penis museum....

In case you're skeptical, there really is a "penis museum" — The Icelandic Phallological Museum. I blogged about it in 2016, in "I came to see if it was true, that there really was a penis museum in Reykjavik...."

"The Voice had 11.7 million viewers and a 2.3 rating among adults 18-49, while American Idol‘s time slot debut had 8.4 million viewers and a 1.8 rating...."

"ABC countered as if they don’t care, noting the network 'nearly tied' NBC to win the night, and that Idol improved their time period average for the season...." (Entertainment Weekly).

I've never watched "The Voice," but I like the old familiar "American Idol" format. I've watched half of what's aired so far in the new season, and it seems pretty good to me. I like the simple pleasure of some appealing young people getting a chance balanced by some other young people who have deluded ideas about how wonderful they surely must be.

And in one case there was a combination of those 2 things — an appealing new audition by a girl who had — years ago — spectacularly misjudged her own singing — of the national anthem — and gotten ridiculed mercilessly on the internet:

By the way, who — especially in the younger, 18-49-year old group — has a problem watching 2 shows that happen to air in the same time slot? Doesn't everyone use a DVR or some kind of streaming?

How far must I scroll into "Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick for CIA director, tied to use of brutal interrogation measures" before I see a picture of Gina Haspel?

My sexism detector is triggered by this Washington Post article. The first woman has been selected as the director of the CIA, and — let me put the "tied to use of brutal interrogation measures" part aside for a moment — the screen looks like this:

They ran a picture of the vacancy! They'd rather show nothing than a picture of a woman who is not the right kind of woman.

Behave, ladies, and you might win our approval.

Has a male appointee at this level ever been treated with such disregard? I'm thinking this is special for women. This is what happens to women when they don't adhere to the required politics. Be warned!

Scrolling down, the next image is:

Men. It's an article about Gina Haspel. Why am I seeing Trump and Tillerson?

Another screen's scroll downward and we finally get a picture of the woman, nudged over to the side:

Don't worry, Gina. The building will love you.

I'm complaining about the formatting of the page, not the choice to decline to do a dance of celebration for this female first. The story of the involvement in "harrowing interrogation measures widely condemned as torture" would, I assume, be told the same way for a male nominee, and it should therefore be told about the female nominee, even when she is a first. If you don't muck it up with insinuations that it's a perversion of femininity not to be caring, it's fine. Give us the facts:
Her extensive involvement in a covert program that used harrowing interrogation measures on al-Qaeda suspects resurfaced last year when she was named deputy director of the CIA....  Haspel ran one of the first CIA black sites, a compound in Thailand code-named “Cat’s Eye,” where al-Qaeda suspects Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaida, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were subjected to waterboarding and other techniques in 2002....

Haspel later served as chief of staff to the head of the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez, when he ordered the destruction of dozens of videotapes made at the Thailand site. Rodriguez wrote in his memoir that Haspel “drafted a cable” ordering the tapes’ destruction in 2005 as the program came under mounting public scrutiny and that he then “took a deep breath of weary satisfaction and hit Send.”
I wonder how many people think this background helps overcome concerns they'd otherwise have about a female CIA director. And I wonder how many people would impugn my womanhood for having said even that.

Is that a way to say that no one was surprised?

"In the end, no one was more surprised that Tillerson was fired than Tillerson" — Washington Post headline.

"The essential, almost frightening, point about Oskar Gröning is that he is one of the least exceptional human beings you are ever likely to meet."

"Yet when he finally came to trial in Germany, [Oskar] Gröning was accused as an accomplice in the murder of some 300,000 Hungarian Jews who had been transported to Auschwitz in 1944. By the time he was sentenced to a four-year jail term — which his lawyers appealed — he was 94."

From "Oskar Gröning, the ‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz,’ Is Dead at 96" (NYT)(My post headline is a quote from a BBC journalist.)

"The five passengers who were killed when a helicopter without doors splashed into the East River on Sunday night were cinched into heavy-duty harnesses and tied to the helicopter floor..."

"... with only a knife to free themselves from frigid waters. Given little more than a brief safety video beforehand, they were left at the mercy of a stiff current as the helicopter dragged them 50 blocks south, upside down and underwater, before rescue divers could cut them free. The crash... exposed what aviation experts called startling safety gaps in the fast-growing industry of doors-off photo flights, once reserved for professional photographers but increasingly marketed to tourists looking to dangle their feet outside and share stomach-churning pictures of the skyline on Instagram."

From "Doors-Off Helicopter Flights Under Scrutiny After East River Crash" (NYT).

It's so important not to fall out that it eclipses the question of how to get detached if there is a crash. There must be many situations where your attention to a primary safety issue exacerbates a secondary safety issue.

I'm sorry to hear about this accident. Look how happy these passengers were, just before dying:

Photo by Trevor Cadigan posted to Instagram on Sunday.

"We were not really thinking the same... Really, it was a different mind-set, a different thinking."

Said Trump talking to reporters today about his firing of Rex Tillerson, the NYT reports.
Mr. Tillerson found out he had been fired before dawn, shortly after his flight returned from a weeklong trip to Africa, said Steve Goldstein, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy. There was no indication during the five-nation visit that Mr. Tillerson’s departure was imminent....
What about Tillerson's calling in sick? Fake?
Mr. Tillerson has been out of favor with Mr. Trump for months but had resisted being pushed out. His distance from Mr. Trump’s inner circle was clear last week when the president accepted an invitation to meet with Mr. Kim, to Mr. Tillerson’s surprise....

His profound disagreements with the president on policy appeared to be his undoing: Mr. Tillerson wanted to remain part of the Paris climate accord; Mr. Trump decided to leave it. Mr. Tillerson supported the continuation of the Iran nuclear deal; Mr. Trump loathed the deal as “an embarrassment to the United States.” And Mr. Tillerson believed in dialogue to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, but Mr. Trump repeatedly threatened military options.

Veteran diplomats said they could not remember a time when a president so regularly undermined his secretary of state so brazenly in the midst of a tense situation. Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who served many Republican presidents, last fall urged Mr. Tillerson to quit....

The turning point for Mr. Tillerson came when NBC News reported that he had called the president a “moron”.... The growing distance between the men was on clear display during Mr. Trump’s trip to Asia in November, when Mr. Tillerson visited the prison that once housed Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who is a frequent critic of the president.

But perhaps the most puzzling part of Mr. Tillerson’s tenure was his poor oversight of the State Department. As a former top business executive, his managerial skills were thought to be his chief asset....
What a dismal finish for this man!

Trump lowers the boom on Tillerson.

"Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!"

Trump just tweeted.

ADDED: I like the Astros photo-op that's the top of Trump's twitter page right now:

I love the blue checked jacket on Altuve and that other guy (who's got an entire suit in blue plaid).

I liked the way Trump pronounced "Jose Altuve," making it sound like poetry:

You see the spin there. For more of that kind of ideating, see "Jose Altuve's Day At The White House Looked Pretty Awkward" (Deadspin). I look at the same pictures and think, Altuve, #1, looked great, and, #2, was behaving in a careful, controlled way that's exactly what you should do when you are on camera and in the background for a 20-minute photo op. Anyone taking constant photographs in that situation can frame an instant — like this — where he seems to be thinking what you'd like to project into his head, but that strikes me as propaganda. I don't know if Altuve talks about politics, but I don't think he's even an American citizen. He's Venezuelan. If I were Venzuelan, I'd be most worried about Venezuela, and looking at Trump, I'd be thinking, is there some way he can help Venezuela?, or, if I was inclined to the hostility anti-Trumpers are seeing in his face — Why hasn't President Trump done something yet about Venezuela?

AND: What's up with the "plaidgate" tag? I was seeing if I had a tag for "plaid" — I didn't — and the old tag "plaidgate" came up, so I added it. It's presence on this post just represents the subject of whether plaid means something.

ALSO: From last December, "A former top national security official says Venezuela is one of Trump's top 3 priorities — alongside Iran and North Korea" (Business Insider).

Photographs I can't understand.

I'm trying to read — well, scan — "25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going" in the NYT Magazine.

This is one of these tarted-up pages at the NYT website that made me blog (on March 9th): "I'd like a browser that can be set so nothing moves on my screen unless I click something to make it play/Can I get that anywhere? I loathe movement near something I'm trying to read...." If you want to see what I'm saying I loathe, you'll see it if you click through. The moving image behind the words at the top of that page physically nauseates me. Intellectually, I deplore the clutter, which waves in our face the NYT's desperate need for us to believe that it's a trendy website and not just an old newspaper displayed on screen.

Now, I do appreciate the play button at the entry for each of the 25 songs. You can instantly play (and pause) as you read (or instead of reading). But I am appalled at the hand-drawn squiggles around the various words and images. The Times says it's going to "tell us where music is going," but I've seen squiggles like that before, so the message to me is, we're going back to the 1980s.

But what I really want to talk about, as the post title indicates, is a photograph — this one, accompanying the first song, "Bodak Yellow," by Cardi B, next to the all-caps text, "AN UNAPOLOGETIC ANTHEM FOR WOMEN IN A YEAR OTHERWISE DEFINED BY PANDERING AND SETBACKS":

The photograph doesn't seem to be "for women" or in opposition to the "pandering and setbacks." It seems to embody the retrograde attitude toward women. That heavy makeup and that dopey, sleepy expression might be aimed at other women, but if it is, it's not in a way that fits with the idea of an "unapologetic anthem for women," which sounds like marching in the streets and denouncing oppression, not weakly melting into a selfie.

But the NYT has, for whatever reason, decided to promote Cardi B as an icon of feminism. On my own, I would not read any further. I'd just be disgusted, but since you're here, I'm going to read the entry (which is by Jamie Lauren Keiles).
Women in this world are taught to believe that every problem must have a buyable solution. Not sleeping well? Get a lavender-vanilla pillow spray. Overrun with stress? Buy a skin-care routine. The market is rife with solace for sale — a product on offer for anything that ails. 
Popular music is another one of these products. Isn't an "anthem for women" a proffered cure for a presumed woman-specific ailment?
This past year, our own systemic subjugation was no exception. With a former beauty-pageant owner in the White House, Clinton in Chappaqua and high-profile men being exposed for their crimes, feminism reached its most shoppable form....
Keiles references pussy hats and other paraphernalia that — I'll use the headline's word — pandered to women after the election. And what does the song do?
Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” ... begins with an outright provocation: “Lil [expletive], you can’t [expletive] with me if you wanted to.” 
Let's be clear. The first expletive is "bitch" and the second is "fuck." Cardi B is addressing women with contempt.
Her tone is confident in a way that feels easy. To paraphrase one commenter on YouTube: It’s a song that will make you want to fire your own boss.
Let's check NYT's characterization of the lyrics, which you can read here. I really don't have the patience to read and think about all these lyrics, but I cannot see how they are in any way an "anthem for women." They might be an anthem for a woman. The singer seems to want to brutally dominate everyone else. She brags about material goods, claims to be "the hottest in the street" and taunts other women — "Think these hoes be mad at me, their baby father run a bill... If I see you and I don't speak, that means I don't fuck with you/I'm a boss, you a worker, bitch, I make bloody moves." That sounds like one woman hating other women.

The NYT writer brings up pussy hats and "pussy" is a big word in the hating-Trump enterprise, so let me show you the occurrences of "pussy" in this song. The first is a literal reference to the singer's genitalia:
I might just feel on your babe, my pussy feel like a lake
He wanna swim with his face, I'm like, "Okay"...
The second appearance of "pussy" is the insult to another person (whom she's threatening with gun violence): "If you a pussy, you get popped, you a goofy, you a opp." The lyrics site (linked above) helpfully explains a joke: "Getting 'popped' is slang for getting shot, which Cardi B connects to the sexual image of 'pussy popping' in which a woman exposes her genitals by bending over in a provocative way." "Opp," we're told, means "opposition... members of a rival gang."

The third appearance of "pussy" is, "My pussy glitter as gold, tell that lil bitch play her role." Again, I'm seeing the complete absence of sisterhood. I can see how an individual woman might feel strong by imagining herself in the place of the singer, insulting and hating and threatening and demeaning all the other women, but that is not a strength that has anything to do with women banding together in a political movement.

I think the NYT is obtuse, perhaps deliberately, but at least I do now understand the photograph.

March 12, 2018

"President Trump Hosts the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros."

At the Cruddy Troll Café...


... come on in and slog around.

(And think of going into Amazon via the Althouse Portal. Here's a nice iguana statue for your lawn, a cute Iggy the Iguana Beanie Baby, and a high-quality iguana hand puppet. All 100% inedible.)

"It might be most helpful to compare a social network to a party. The party starts out small, with the hosts and a few of their friends."

"Then word gets out and strangers show up. People take cues from the environment. Mimosas in a sun-dappled atrium suggest one kind of mood; grain alcohol in a moldy basement suggests another. Sometimes, a pattern emerges on its own. Pinterest, a simple photo-sharing site founded by three men, happened to catch on among women aspiring to an urbane life style, and today the front page is often a collage of merino scarves and expensive glassware. In other cases, the gatekeeping seems more premeditated. If you’re fourteen, Snapchat’s user interface is intuitive; if you’re twenty-two, it’s intriguing; if you’re over thirty-five, it’s impenetrable. This encourages old people to self-deport."

From "Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet/How do we fix life online without limiting free speech?" by Andrew Marantz (in The New Yorker).

I went to Pinterest to see if the front page was a collage of merino scarves and expensive glassware, and I couldn't figure out how to get there — it was impenetrable — other than as myself, the person who opened a Pinterest account to collect photos to show my hairstylist. So this is what I see on the front page:

Lots of chopped off hair — and one Jack Kerouac — but no scarves and glasses.

IN THE COMMENTS: Rabel corrects:
Three Jack kerouac's plus Women of the Beat Generation.
AND: Here's Kerouac on the subject of glassware:
What she was doing whoring in Mexico at that age and with that tender cheek and fair aspect God knows. Some awful grief had driven her to it. She drank beyond all bounds. She threw down drinks when it seemed she was about to chuck up the last. She overturned glasses continually, the idea also being to make us spend as much money as possible. Wearing her flimsy housecoat in broad afternoon she frantically danced with Neal and clung about his neck and begged and begged for everything. Neal was so stoned he didn’t know what to start with, girls or mambo.

"I can only imagine it’s worse for women, but it happens to me on a weekly basis. The other night, some gentlemen drank a little bit too much..."

"... and then they were saying things about me, like that I’m delicious. You have women leaving their numbers or playing coy. The women who hit on me do so in a way that is more acceptable. They don’t cross certain lines, whereas men are much more blunt, forward and obvious."

Said Tyler Jakes, a NYC waiter quoted in "THE TIPPING EQUATION/At restaurants across America, servers calculate how far is too far, weighing harassing behavior against the tips they need to make a living wage." (NYT).

64 entertainingly quotable quotes from one speech — who can do that?

Only Trump, but even as Chris Cillizza grabs eyeballs by serving up a long list of Trump quotes, he has to present them as deplorable, in "The 64 most outrageous lines from Donald Trump's untethered Pennsylvania speech."

From the list, here's the part cherry picks from Trump's discussion of how people say he should be more presidential (and he comically imitates the "presidential" version of himself):
56. "But you'd be so bored because I could stand up, right? I'm very presidential."

So so presidential. The most presidential president likely ever.

57. "If I came like a stiff, you guys wouldn't be here tonight."

Remember: Trump is, first and foremost, an entertainer. And he views the presidency through the lens of entertainment.

58. "I don't know if I'm a good speaker. But every time I have a 25,000-seat stadium, we fill it up."

Campaign rally as therapy session.
Here's that part of the speech. Look how funny it is (and he has real points to make):

The heads of Drudge, eating iguana, and the evidentiary value of a DNA test.

On Drudge, just now:

I don't really know what Drudge is trying to say, but the women — Ivanka and Elizabeth Warren — both have bands around their heads (I know Ivanka's is an entire hat) and the men's heads are more differentiated:

1. Musk's head is enclosed within a space helmet, 2. Bezo displays baldness glossily, 3. Eminem, like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, has his noggin inside a baseball cap wrapped in a hoodie.

I was going to discuss Elizabeth Warren's crudely photoshopped "Indian" headband (and arrows), but I took a moment to click to see what Jeff Bezos has on that tray, and it's the entire body of a cooked iguana and he's posing seemingly eating a chunk of it!

From the text of "Bezos Says He’ll Spend ‘Amazon Lottery Winnings’ on Space Travel"(Bloomberg):
The Amazon chief executive officer wasn’t the only billionaire at the glitzy event at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. West Coast industrial real estate tycoon Ed Roski and Frederik Paulsen, a Swedish pharmaceutical titan and pole explorer, perused the tarantula, cockroach and roasted iguana appetizers amid 1,200 guests including James Lovell, the first person to journey twice to the moon, on Apollo 8 and Apollo 13.
Boldface added. Eat what you're told! I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy)...

But, okay, here's the Elizabeth Warren article Drudge links to: "Elizabeth Warren refuses DNA test to prove Native American heritage." There's no "Indian" paraphernalia in the photo there (at the New York Post). I think it's grotesque and irrelevant to demand a DNA test.

"Mueller Weighs Putting Off Trump Obstruction Decision/Delay would let him wrap up less explosive parts of inquiry/Obstruction decision might undercut probe, one way or another."

Headline and subheadlines at Bloomberg this morning.

I'm a little skeptical of this presentation...
The revelation is a peek into Muller’s calculations as he proceeds with his many-headed probe, while pressure builds from the president’s advisers and other Republicans to show progress or wrap it up....
So who needs to be prodded to wrap it up, just the Republicans? But Mueller breaks the investigation in two because he's choosing to wrap up part of it, but strategically extends the other part on and on, to where? No "pressure build[ing]" about that?
But even if Trump testifies in the coming weeks, Mueller may make a strategic calculation to keep his findings on obstruction secret, according to the current and former U.S. officials, who discussed the strategy on condition of anonymity.
Isn't this leaking worse than any of the substance of what could be called obstruction?

I chose not to read the whole weird article, which is by Chris Strohm and Shannon Pettypiece, so I'll close by saying — and this is knocking me in the head after quoting Charles Dickens in the previous post — I love that name "Pettypiece." Perfect!

"The little girls started screaming: 'We want Davy; we want the Monkees'... You could almost see the little girls asking their mothers: 'Mom why is that man setting his guitar on fire.'"

Mickey Dolenz, playing in Greenwich Village last Saturday, delivered patter about the time the Monkees on tour had Jimi Hendrix as their opening act. And then Mickey and his current band played "Purple Haze."

The band last Saturday included Mickey's sister Coco, who sang "Daydream Believer" "I'm a Believer" with him — that song (which was written by Neil Diamond) had the late Davy Jones originally singing the lead — and Coco took on the erstwhile role of Linda Ronstadt in a version of "Different Drum" and the Grace Slick part in "White Rabbit":

Here's Coco in 1967, as photographed in Fave:

I think Fave was a spin-off from Tiger Beat. First issue:

ADDED: I tried to find "Davy's Private Glads & Sads!" but Google has a better memory of the the mid-19th century:

The high and the low of the fight against drugs.

The high: "The artist Nan Goldin and around 100 fellow demonstrators threw pill bottles into the moat surrounding an ancient Egyptian temple at the Metropolitan Museum in New York on Saturday, to protest sponsorship by the family that owns one of the largest makers of opioids. The pill bottles had been labeled by the protesters to say “prescribed to you by the Sackler Family”. The Sackler family wholly owns Purdue Pharma, which makes the prescription painkiller OxyContin. In 1974, the family paid for the Sackler Wing at the Met, in which the 2,000-year-old Temple of Dendur stands.Goldin, who recently recovered from a near-fatal addiction to OxyContin, led the protest. 'Shame!' she shouted. 'As artists and activists we demand funding for treatment: 150 people will die today, 10 while we are standing here, from drug overdoses'" (The Guardian).

As artists, we demand....

The low: "'When I was in China and other places, by the way, I said, "Mr. President, do you have a drug problem?" "No, no, no, we do not,' Trump said. 'Big country. 1.4 billion people, right? Not much of a drug problem... I said what do you attribute that to? "Well, the death penalty." Hey, if you are a drug dealer and you know you are going to get caught and you know that you are going to kill people... You're killing our kids.... But if you go to Singapore, I said, "Mr. President, what happens with your drugs?" "We don't have a problem"... I said "what do you mean no problem?" "We have a zero tolerance policy." What does that mean? "That means if we catch a drug dealer, death penalty,"' Trump said to applause.... 'A drug dealer will kill 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 people during the course of his or her life... You can kill thousands of people and go to jail for 30 days... They catch a drug dealer. They don't even put him in jail. Think of it. You kill one person, you get the death penalty in many states or you get life in prison. Think of it. You kill 5,000 people with drugs because you're smuggling them in and you're making a lot of money and people are dying and they don't even put you in jail. They don't do anything.'"  (The Hill).

Think of it! That is: let it fester in your rotting heart for a while, and we'll see what happens.

March 11, 2018

The Anxiety Clown.

I was looking for an image of an "anxiety clown," because I was speculating — at the end of the previous post — that the use of the epithet "clown" to describe your antagonists reveals your own anxiety. You may want to say that your opponent is stupid and ridiculous, but people are anxious about clowns, so you're saying — perhaps unwittingly — I am unnerved and scared of my opponent.

I really just wanted to add an image at the end of that other post, but I stumbled upon that picture of Joseph Grimaldi (18 December 1778 – 31 May 1837) — an English actor who "expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes." The Clown took on the name "Joey" (for Joseph) and "both the nickname and Grimaldi's whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns."
Grimaldi became recognised as one of London's leading Clowns. Grimaldi originated the catchphrase "Here we are again!", which is still used in pantomime. He also was known for the mischievous catchphrase "Shall I?", which prompted audience members to respond "Yes!"
But what made me break out that image for a separate post was the caption: "Detail from hand-coloured etching by George Cruikshank (1792 – 1878), first published in the 19th century."

Cruikshank! Man, I love blogging! We were just talking about Cruikshank! Remember? "Snuffing Out Boney" and "At the Monstrosities Café."

You know, Grimaldi's Clown was — according to the above-linked Wikipedia article — "the 'undisputed agent' of chaos." There's a lot of chaos in blogging. You have to love the chaos — and not be anxious about it — to blog (really blog). And if you're living in the chaos, when things match up — harmony strikes — it's a full-body thrill,  like the "frisson" (or "aesthetic chills" that "roughly two-thirds" of us can get from music.

Do you get that? The frisson? From what? I'd read the articles on people who get it from music — it was a trending topic in May 2016 — and noticed that I hadn't been getting that from music lately. But just in these last few weeks, I've noticed myself getting chills from songs that, intellectually, I believe are below my actual, official taste level. Just yesterday, I got chills on repeated listenings to Richard Harris singing about Camelot, which I'd brought up in the comments here, after somebody had quoted an anti-Trumper's confession "I carry a little plastic Obama doll in my purse." And later that day, listening to the car radio as we drove out to Blue Mounds, I got chills over "Please Come To Boston" — a song I wasn't aware I especially admired. Back when it was a hit, in the 1970s, I probably turned off the radio if the song came on.

And isn't Trump a bit like that? He is for me. I don't particularly like him. I don't know why he should be assessed as any good at all. He seems like a ridiculous man who belongs in a past decade (the 80s). But in some confounding physical way, he hits a button.

I am reading the Wikipedia article on "Please Come to Boston," and I see it was the first single from [Dave Loggins's] album Apprentice (In a Musical Workshop)." The Apprentice! See? Random resonance, attainable through blogging. It's all only chaos, and coincidences are part of the randomness.
The three verses of the song are each a plea from the narrator to a woman he hopes will join him in, respectively, Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles, with each verse concluding: "She said 'No - boy would you come home to me'"; the woman's sentiment is elaborated on in the chorus which concludes with the line: "I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee." Tennessee is the home state of Dave Loggins, who has said of "Please Come to Boston" - "The story is almost true, except there wasn't anyone waiting so I made her up. In effect, making the longing for her stronger.... Some forty years later, I still vividly remember that night, and it was as if someone else was writing the song."
Someone else was writing the song... for a woman who did not exist. I just hope there really was a girl who holds the world in a paper cup.

Here we are again! Shall I? Yes!

ADDED: My hope that "there really was a girl who holds the world in a paper cup" doesn't work as a hope. I assumed there was only one Loggins, but there are 2 — the Dave Loggins of "Please Come to Boston" and the Kenny Loggins of the girl who holds the world in a paper cup in "Danny's Song." So there was a girl like that, but she wasn't Dave's. She wasn't Kenny's either. Kenny wrote the song for his brother Danny. The line "think I'm going to have a son," didn't refer to a son of Kenny's named Danny. The son was Danny's boy Colin. Colin was also the inspiration for "House at Pooh Corner":

In other late-breaking Loggins family news (to me), Kenny and Dave are second cousins. They're both 70 now.

AND: I'm confused by too many Loggins and too many log ins.

One of these things is not like the others.

The top 4 headlines right now at Real Clear Politics are all about Trump:

ADDED: The Matt Gillow piece in the Independent begins:
Mention the President of the United States in day-to-day conversation and you’ll get the inevitable; a sigh, a shake of the head, a brief eulogy on how Donald Trump is unfit to be president. I’m no different. I’m the first to criticise Trump. I wouldn’t have voted for him if you’d paid me, and think he’s got some pretty damaging, regressive points of view.

But during a recent, daily grumble about The Donald, I got thinking; if you look past the ridiculous Twitter pronouncements, and the President’s general veneer – what has he actually done? How bad has the 45th President of the United States actually been for the country?

The answer, it might surprise you, is not that bad at all....
Of course, that's not the one that's not like the others. The one that's different is the "clown car" one in The New Yorker, which — as I see it at the link — is titled "Donald Trump and the Stress Test of Liberal Democracy/Resistance must take the form of the affirmation of the values and institutions that the President has scorned and threatened." No clowns. The text does begin with the "wheels coming off the clown car" metaphor:
Minute by minute, the wheels are coming off the clown car that is the Trump Administration. The circus animals are deserting, wriggling through every available window and door....
Bad metaphor. A clown car is a little car full of clowns, not the entire circus. There are no animals in it. Only clowns:

"SNL" awkwardly needles the audience about the reality that Robert Mueller is not going to get Trump out of office.

There are many long silent pauses in last night's cold open (possibly because people were not up to speed on what happened recently on the reality show "The Bachelor"):

I've read enough about "The Bachelor" to get what they were parodying. The man who'd chosen a particular woman to marry later dropped in to give her the news that he wasn't going to marry her after all. She's surprised and crushed or something.

In last night's parody, a woman who'd been hoping that Mueller was going to get rid of Trump is dropped in on by Mueller who — in the style of The Bachelor — breaks the news that he's not going to be able to get Trump and we're going to need to find a way to accept and go forward with the reality that Trump is President.

Maybe you'll find it funny precisely because of the many long silent pauses that speak of the audience not finding it funny at all. The cast members — Kate McKinnon (as Mueller) and Cecily Strong (as the woman who can't believe this is happening to her) — are fully aware that they are — as actors say  — dying out there, and it's interesting to watch them soldiering on with the material to which they must remain committed until they finally get to the part when they can break character and shout "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night" and unleash the blaring saxophone music and the cornball announcer spewing as many unfamiliar names as a Mueller indictment.

"You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over."

"You recall the evening of the American election, the traditional medias were shocked. They could never have believed that the Americans had finally voted in their own interests.... The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.... God bless America and vive la France."

So said Steve Bannon at a conference of Marine Le Pen’s National Front in Lille, France, The Guardian reports.

Marine Le Pen is estranged from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the party, but he's quoted in the article:
“I think Bannon’s OK … but it’s not exactly the definition of de-demonising [the party] and it’s a bit of a paradox given that Steve Bannon was supposed to be Trump’s most radical adviser,” he said. “But who knows. She [Marine] may end up coming round to my way of thinking.”
The Guardian says Jean-Marie was "thrown out of the party for xenophobic and racist comments," so I'm inferring that "my way of thinking" means leaning into the kind of rhetoric that got the party demonized in the first place.  Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal...

AND: Here's yesterday's post about Steve Bannon's mission in Europe.