April 23, 2018

At the Green Pool Café...


... you can bask in the sun.

And shop through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"I have dwarfism. I was 13 when Verne Troyer hit our screens as Mini-Me in Austin Powers sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me."

"The character was a compound of stereotypes of people with dwarfism. He was hypersexual, unintelligent and aggressive. He was not even a character in his own right but a replica of another, average height role. Like dwarf performers in circuses of days past, his character only existed in contrast to others.... Throughout the series he serves as Dr Evil’s biddable pet. I imagine few who watched it know that in the past aristocrats and monarchs often 'kept' dwarf people like this – abusing, ridiculing, and, sometimes, even killing them... Troyer died on Saturday. He was just 49 years old. A statement on his Facebook page, said he had struggled with 'his own battles' but that 'unfortunately, this time was too much.'... Even in death, his body marks him as a target for ridicule. Ignorant still but much less malicious were comments that he was 'bigger than [insert height here],' 'a small guy but had a big heart,' or 'a big man in a tiny package,' and so on. Such remarks, commonly used by the media, propagate assumptions that dwarfism is something negative for which we have to compensate through our achievements or character.... [I]t is often in death that average height and able-bodied people easily erase an individual’s disability or difference – as demonstrated by the recent passing of Professor Stephen Hawking – to claim they were 'larger than life' or are 'finally free from their disability.'"

From "Verne Troyer’s tragic death underlines the harm Mini-Me caused people with dwarfism/The role of the aggressive, biddable pet in the Austin Powers films did huge damage to the dwarfism community and our struggle for respect" by Eugene Grant (in The Guardian).

This continues the discussion we were having last month when Hawking died, here, after the actress Gal Gadot, surely believing she was being nice, said "Now you’re free of any physical constraints."

And here's the Wikipedia article on "Court dwarfs" ("Court dwarfs enjoyed specific placement right next to the king or queen in a royal court during public appearances and ceremonies, because they were so small, the king appeared much larger and visually enhanced his powerful position").

There's some interesting artwork, such as this, by Velasquez (c. 1645):

"Why are the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas and Melania smiling so broadly at a funeral?"

Asks a columnist at The Guardian.
The picture is not sombre, even though this is a funeral. Obama and Bill Clinton are smiling broadly; W has that lopsided grin that suggests he’s cracked one of his fratboy jokes. They seem relaxed. And the source of that relaxation? Could it possibly be their collective relief that Trump is not there?
Oh! The snark never ends. Consider the possibility that these people are smiling because they believe in their professed religion.

At the funeral, Jeb Bush said that the last time he saw his mother, she said, "Jeb, I believe in Jesus and he is my savior. I don't want to leave your dad but I know I'll be in a beautiful place."

"A 12-year-old Sydney boy stole his parents’ credit card, tricked his grandmother into giving him his passport and flew to Bali on his own after a family argument."

The Guardian reports.
Telling his family he was going to school, he rode his razor scooter to his local train station, from where he travelled to the airport and, using a self-service check-in terminal, boarded a flight for Perth, then another for Indonesia....

Discovering he was in Bali, his mother, Emma, flew there to collect him. Emma said the boy doesn’t like hearing the word “no”. “Shocked, disgusted, there’s no emotion to feel what we felt when we found he left overseas,” she told...
There’s no emotion to feel what we felt....

How could such a smart boy have such a stupid mother? I hypothesize that intelligence is not hereditary, and the condition of having a stupid mother encourages the development of one's own ideas, schemes, and skills.

"12 Rules sets out an interesting and complex model for humanity, and it really has nothing to do with petting a cat or taking your tablets or being kind to lobsters."

"It is about strength, courage, responsibility, and suffering, but it is deep and difficult, and it is not easy to pigeonhole. In a sense, 12 Rules contains a number of hidden structures and hidden processes, and confusingly, these are not always made explicit in the text. The first of these is Deep Time. We are biological creatures, evolved beings who can only be truly understood through a model that encapsulates the notion of geological time.... Quite apart from the immensity of Deep Time, our story must take into account indescribable spans of historical time... His message is far from a 'Christian' one: it is a Jungian one...  Like Jung, Peterson senses a secret unrest that gnaws at the roots of our being, because we have forgotten too much from our long and dangerous journey. We must listen to our myths, understand them, and learn from them.... This leads to a second hidden concept: the Unconscious. Here Peterson recaptures ground that’s become unfashionable in modern psychology. His model is heavily influenced by Freud and Jung. 'You don’t know yourself,' he says. We are not who we thought we were. We carry secret, shameful knowledge that’s scarcely accessible to conscious exploration (Freud). We also carry elements of a Collective Unconscious (Jung) that’s glimpsed via our myths and creation narratives. If you think you are an atheist you are wrong, says Peterson, because your mind has been bent and shaped and molded by a god-fearing past stretching back into the unfathomable abysm of time."

From "Jordan Peterson and the Return of the Stoics/His book in part is about accepting the ubiquity of human suffering. No wonder reviewers don't get it" by Tim Rogers in The American Conservative.

You can buy the book at Amazon, here.

And here's Jordan Peterson doing a nice job on Bill Maher's show last Friday:

An art collector has paid $6.4 million over the years for a Jeff Koons sculpture called “Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels (Magenta)" that may not even be in the process of getting made.

Now, he's suing, saying things like "'Ponzi meets The Producers" in the complaint, reports Courthouse News Service.
“Defendants’ enterprise of ostensible civil corruption bleeds collectors of deposits and payments, drawing on their funding without supplying a product in exchange therefor,” the complaint states. “While the design, manufacture and completion of the so-called Jeff Koons sculptures wallow at best and are continually and fraudulently postponed by a factor of years and contracted collectors wait interminably for delivery, Larry Gagosian and Jeff Koons live extravagant lifestyles financed in part by inappropriate and highly questionable practices underwritten by plaintiff and other collectors.”

Tananbaum says the refusal of Gagosian and Koons to identify the foundry that is purportedly manufacturing the sculptures keeps collectors in the dark as they manufacture false hope. Meantime the money Gagosian and Koons leech from collectors through “brutal payment plans” is used to fulfill a host of other obligations including “the manufacture of sculptures or other contracted “artistic” obligations commissioned at an earlier date by similarly duped collectors and/or to line the pockets of defendants.”

“The ‘estimated completion dates’ supplied by defendants to the collectors are a sham from the very outset,” the complaint states. “Defendants have and had no intention of completing the sculptures according to a completion and delivery schedule. At heart, this interest-free loan system – unbeknownst to the collectors – is less about creating timeless works of art and more about creating an ouroboros by which defendants maintain a never-depleting source of funds at the expense of eager and trusting collectors.”
My questions are: What were the terms of the contract you signed, you rich knucklehead? And: Is the complaint a work of art? And: Why can I never remember what an ouroboros is and have to look it up every damned time?

In China, the questionable aesthetics of "refining" cities and getting rid of whatever is zangluancha.

By Zhou Wang (assistant professor at Nankai University’s Zhou Enlai School of Government) in Sixth Tone:
First, municipal officials have embraced the need to “refine” the country’s cities. From vast metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to thousands of smaller Chinese cities, the same government-sponsored buzzwords appear: “high-end,” “aesthetically pleasing,” “cosmopolitan.” Chinese urban planners strive to realize socially positive notions of “modern” and “green” cities, and the most successful are recognized by government ministries in a series of competitions. Cities are also eager to earn national awards for being exceptionally clean or “civilized.”

Municipal officials define “refinement” in remarkably similar ways. Typically, it involves inviting a renowned international architect to design a capital-intensive landmark building — say, Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House or Meinhard von Gerkan’s Chongqing Grand Theater. Officials may also clear huge public squares in front of municipal government buildings, construct avant-garde statues largely devoid of any local cultural or historical significance, and erect “central business districts” that resemble cut-and-pasted copies of the Manhattan skyline. The natural result of this is cities that are indistinguishable from one another, something that continues to be a source of public complaint.

“Refinement” also means clean urban environments, a sense of order, and standards for the appearance of residences and street advertisements... Urban managers don’t want their cities referred to as zangluancha — a colloquial term used for anything substandard that comprises the characters for “dirty,” “messy,” and “inferior.”...
ADDED: There's a link on zangluancha that goes to "My Mission to Clean Up China’s Atrocious Public Toilets" by the founder of an organization devoted to that mission:

"Travis Reinking, the suspected Waffle House shooter, feared pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him in his Illinois hometown..."

"... and hacking his phone and Netflix account, according to fits of delusions detailed in police reports," the NY Daily News reports.
When confronted by cops in a parking lot near Peoria during the 2016 incident, Tazewell County Sheriff's Office deputies said Reinking was convinced the singer... was following him. He believed she wanted to meet him at a nearby Dairy Queen.

He tried meeting Swift at the fast food joint but she yelled at him from across the street and bolted, according to his version of events. He gave chase "in an attempt to get her to stop harassing him," the police report read.

"Taylor climbed up the side of a building and Travis followed. However, when he reached the rooftop, Taylor was gone," according to the report.
Reinking is still on the loose, as of this 8:30 AM report:
Reinking, a 29-year-old Illinois native, was last seen wearing black pants as he ran away from his Antioch, Tenn., apartment complex early Sunday.

He previously stormed into the Waffle House wearing nothing but a green jacket, wielding an AR-15-style rifle, at about 3:25 a.m. local time.

Too many Democrats vying for the chance to challenge Governor Scott Walker.

And the primary isn't until August. I don't see how the Democrat has a chance. Here's the left-liberal Capital Times, "Large field of governor candidates worries some Wisconsin Democrats, emboldens others":
As the candidates in an already large field search for ways to separate themselves from the pack four months ahead of the August primary, some Democratic insiders aren't pleased by the latest developments — but others say the continued interest in running is just a sign of strong tailwinds for Democrats going into November....
There are 11 candidates at this point. The newest one is Mike Crute ("co-host of the political Devil's Advocates radio show, owner of WRRD "Resistance Radio" and a Madison-area property manager"):
Crute, 47, said he's getting in because none of the candidates already in the field — which has been growing since last summer — are demonstrating the "boldness of candidacy" it would take for a Democrat to beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a skilled politician with a strong campaign infrastructure.

"It’s not that there are not people I admire in the field. They’re all really nice people," Crute said. "But Scott Walker, in my opinion, is an S.O.B. and if you are not willing to at least act that part when necessary, then you probably cannot beat him in a head-to-head matchup."
Ha ha, very funny. That's one way to stand out in a crowd. Ask Donald Trump.
"Mike Crute, doing what he is doing, makes this look like a circus. It is not serious," the insider said. "This field is naturally winnowing itself out and he is crowding it to serve his own ego. It’s a stunt, and it is bad for the race."
But it is a circus. So why not be a first-rate clown. Again: it worked for Trump.
Prior to Crute's announcement, 38-year-old corporate attorney Josh Pade announced his own plans to join the field... Shortly after Pade and Crute joined the race, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was considering another run.
Now, that's funny. Barrett is the one Walker beat in 2010, when he first became governor, and then beat again in 2012 when he was subjected to a recall.
But [a] Dem strategist — who voted for Barrett in 2010 and 2012 — feared a Barrett campaign would harm the party's chances. "He offers neither a fresh face nor fresh ideas," the strategist said.
Do any of the 11 already in the race have "fresh ideas"? Really, I'm just asking. Please, tell me in the comments: What are the "fresh ideas" offered by any Democrats in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race? If there aren't any, why not be out and proud? Your face is an unfresh face, and we should love that old face. Old faces are lovable too. And if you're destined to lose to Scott Walker — which I think you are — why not go down gracefully with the man who's got the most experience losing to Scott Walker?

Shania Twain "would have voted for [Trump] because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest... Do you want straight or polite?"

"Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bull—-. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”

That's what the Canadian pop star — who was just on "RuPaul's Drag Race" last week — said in an interview The Guardian published yesterday morning, WaPo reports. Social media got right on her case with a hashtag, #ShaniaTwainCancelled, and by evening poor Shania — the erstwhile lover of no bullshit — had apologized.

Here's the 4 tweetsworth of apology/"apology":
I would like to apologise to anybody I have offended...
She begins with classic nonapology words.
... in a recent interview with the Guardian relating to the American President. The question caught me off guard.
She blurted out that she likes the way Trump seems to speak his mind, his spontaneous transparency, but her own following of his model, just saying what she thinks straight out is something to regret and bemoan. She didn't have time to think it all through and plan it all out, so she hopes what she said won't count against her, as she retreats into the opaque, evasive world that she'd just decried.
As a Canadian, I regret answering this unexpected question without giving my response more context (1/4)
What's it like to regret as a Canadian? Is it a special sort of regret? I'm not picking up the applicable stereotype. Is she trying to say I don't vote in your elections so I should not have joined the debate about your leader? Or does she mean Canadians are supposed to be especially circumspect and polite — she who just said "Do you want straight or polite?" I guess you got your answer, at least from the "hundreds" of tweeters who jumped on that hashtag. They want polite — more than polite. They want silence, unless you're anti-Trump.
I am passionately against discrimination of any kind and hope it’s clear from the choices I have made, and the people I stand with, that I do not hold any common moral beliefs with the current President (2/4)
She won't get in trouble for that ridiculous absolute statement about moral beliefs.
I was trying to explain, in response to a question about the election, that my limited understanding was that the President talked to a portion of America like an accessible person they could relate to, as he was NOT a politician (3/4)
Oh! Here come the deplorables again — that "portion of America" — those dopes. Shania sees that those people could relate to that man who's so horrible she can't share one moral belief with him.
My answer was awkward, but certainly should not be taken as representative of my values nor does it mean I endorse him.
But you said you'd have voted for him. Do you mean you loathed Hillary? Because that would make sense of these remarks. Not that I need any sense to be made other than you got disciplined by the Trump haters and you caved. Why speak out at all if you're so vulnerable to push back?
I make music to bring people together. My path will always be one of inclusivity, as my history shows. (4/4)
Were those hashtagging tweeters fans of your music who know your history or just Trump haters ready to jump on any entertainment figure who fails to maintain the required hostility?

April 22, 2018

At the First Lady Café...


... you can talk all night.

And use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The Waffle House hero says "I did that completely out of a selfish act. I was completely doing it just to save myself."

"I don't want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that. I figured if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it."

That charming speech makes James Shaw Jr., 29, even more of a hero. The man with what CNN calls an assault rifle had already killed 4 persons, and — as the police spokesman put it — Shaw "decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away, tossed it over the counter."

"[I]n California... the state’s nonpartisan primaries present a unique hazard: State law requires all candidates to compete in the same preliminary election, with the top two finishers advancing to November."

"In a crowded field, if Democrats spread their votes across too many candidates, two Republicans could come out on top and advance together to the general election. There are at least four races in California where Democrats fear such a lockout, including the 39th Congressional District, where in addition to Mr. Cisneros and Ms. Tran there are two other Democrats running: Sam Jammal, a youthful former congressional aide, and Andy Thorburn, a wealthy health insurance executive who is backed by allies of Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont. The district is among the most coveted for Democrats nationwide — a seat left open by the retirement of Representative Ed Royce, a popular Republican, in an area Hillary Clinton won by about 8 percentage points."

From "Fearing Chaos, National Democrats Plunge Into Midterm Primary Fights" (NYT).

Great dialogue on ABC's "This Week" this morning on the subject, "Will Michael Cohen flip?"

From the transcript, with George Stephanopoulos and lawprof/defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, legal analyst Dan Abrams, and former prosecutor Mimi Rocah:
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Oh, it's a very serious threat [that Cohen will flip on Trump]. This is an epic battle for the soul and cooperation of Michael Cohen. And prosecutors have enormous weapons at their disposal. They can threaten essentially with life imprisonment. They can threaten his parents. They can threaten his spouse. They have these enormous abilities to really put pressure and coerce a witness. On the other hand, the president has a unique weapon that no other criminal defendant or suspect ever has, he has the pardon power. And go back to Christmas 1992 when President Bush exercised that pardon power and pardoned Caspar Weinberger, precluding him from pointing the finger at him....

"Once, in Hong Kong, I smiled so much that the woman I was talking to recoiled and stepped away."

"My European and Latin American friends agree that Americans smile far more than people do in their home countries."

From "An American Woman Quits Smiling" by the novelist Lisa Ko (NYT).

If someone recoiled from me and stepped away — especially in a foreign country — I would not presume to know why. But Ko is a novelist, and it's the novelist's superpower to feel she knows what is in the mind of others.

"An 11-year-old boy in El Paso died on Friday after getting hit by a pickup truck while his school held a walkout to protest gun violence."

The NYT reports.
The boy, Jonathan Benko, and a group of about 12 to 15 other students from Parkland Middle School in El Paso decided not to participate in the walkout, and instead left the campus to visit a park on the other side of Loop 375, a busy highway that surrounds parts of the city, officials said.

Jonathan, a sixth grader and the last one to try to cross, was struck by a Ford F-150 pickup truck, Officer Darrel Petry, a spokesman for the El Paso Police Department, said on Saturday.

"Associating hate with [Sam] Harris is bizarre. I’ve grown fond of his preternaturally composed, hyper-rational style..."

"... on the Waking Up podcast. But when he talks about [Ezra] Klein, he is not quite himself. He can’t disguise his bewilderment. He sounds like Spock discovering his shorts are on fire. 'Captain, I have detected . . . flames and singed flesh . . . in the vicinity of . . . my perineum.'"

I'm trying to read "Ezra Klein’s Intellectual Demagoguery" by Kyle Smith at The National Review, but I've run into an atrocious men-in-shorts/Star Trek smash up and my heart cries out I don't belong here.

And I've got to say, if you wanted to be a racist — or any kind of evil devil in this world — the best approach would be to adopt a demeanor that is preternaturally composed and hyper-rational.

But I've started this post, so let me soldier on. I've avoided the Sam Harris/Ezra Klein discord for quite a while, but something made me feel that I could catch up by reading Kyle Smith:
[Harris's] tone remains steady...
Ugh... tone...
... but the words are uncharacteristically pointed. During the debate, as Klein keeps delivering lectures to Harris on the history of racist injustice and repeatedly accuses him of having a “blind spot,” you can hear Harris sighing. Does Harris — does any intelligent person — really need to be told that blacks have been victimized by racism? Of course they have been. It’s a different conversation from the one about what we do and don’t know about IQ scores.

Harris, who has to his credit a philosophy degree from Stanford, a Ph.D. from UCLA in cognitive neuroscience, and several well-reviewed books, has described himself as on the left on virtually every issue. How disorienting it must have been to find himself reclassified as a neo-Mengele and besieged by the social-media mob because he spoke with ["Bell Curve" author Charles] Murray....
If Harris is as educated and sophisticated as all that, he shouldn't have been "disorient[ed]." He should have been prepared for Klein's utterly predictable attack. Was Harris so lost in self-love — thinking he's one of the good people — that he didn't see how mean his seeming friends would be if he questioned one of the Good People's Articles of Faith?

What is the largest number of pitches thrown in a single at bat that ended in a home run?

I'm trying to find the answer to that question after last night's walk-off home run by Jesus Aguilar::
Jesus Aguilar's epic at-bat leading off the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday was so long, Brewers manager Craig Counsell almost forgot it began with two strikes.

And it was so good, with Aguilar flicking seven two-strike fouls before crushing the 13th pitch from Marlins reliever Junichi Tazawa for a walk-off home run and a 6-5 Brewers win at Miller Park, that Aguilar could proudly say he'd never had a better at-bat.
I can see that the most pitches for a single at bat is 20:
[Ricky] Gutiérrez holds the modern-day MLB record for seeing the most pitches (20) in a single at bat. On June 26, 1998 at Jacobs Field, Gutiérrez, then a member of the Astros, squared off against Cleveland Indians pitcher Bartolo Colón to open the top of the eighth inning. Colón's first two pitches were strikes, but over the next 17, Gutiérrez took three balls and hit 14 fouls. With the 20th pitch of the at bat, Gutiérrez struck out. This single match up accounted for 18% of the pitches that Colón threw in the game.
But Gutiérrez struck out. Is 13 the record for an at bat that ends in a home run?

In my so-far futile search, I did find this (at Athlon), answering the question "What is the record for most foul balls hit in a single at-bat?"
There are no records kept for foul balls during particular at-bats, but there is one unusual record in this category that is likely to never be broken. Philadelphia outfielder Richie Ashburn, who played from 1948-62, was known for his ability to prolong at-bats by fouling off pitches. During one such at-bat in Philadelphia, he fouled off 14 pitches. One of them struck a woman who was sitting in the stands, breaking her nose. While she was being carried off on a stretcher, she was hit by a second foul ball from Ashburn during the same at-bat.
Now, that is amazing. And I remember Richie Ashburn (because my father and grandfather — in Delaware — watched the Phillies in those days). But it doesn't answer my question other than to suggest that there is no way of knowing.

IN THE COMMENTS: Curious George was able to find an 18-pitch at bat that ended in a home run, here. It's Alex Cora (a Dodger) against Cubs pitcher Matt Clement in 2004. But it's not a walk-off home run, so maybe Aguilar has the record for most pitches in a single at bat that ends in a walk-off home run.

UPDATE: Just today — in an amazing coincidence — the 20-year old Gutiérrez record was broken:
With an epic 21-pitch at-bat in the top half of the first inning against Angels rookie Jaime Barria, [Giants first baseman Brandon] Belt broke the Major League record for the most pitches seen in an at-bat.
The pitcher won that battle. Belt hit a fly ball caught by right fielder Kole Calhoun.

Maybe Aguilar's amazing at bat last night gave Belt the idea to specialize in hitting a lot of foul balls.

"Twitter reportedly blocked a British pro-life activist with Down Syndrome for more than 24 hours after she posted pro-life pictures."

"Charlotte 'Charlie' Fien rebuked the social media giant with a trenchantly worded tweet once her account was restored Tuesday," reports Life Site.
“Funny how Twitter allows paedophiles and other scum. Funny how Twitter doesn’t like my Pro Life pics and blocks them,” she tweeted....

[Fien gave a speech to United Nations delegates in Geneva last March in which s]he likened the growing genocide of Down’s babies to the Nazi euthanasia programs of the 1930s.

“I am not suffering,” she told delegates. “I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down’s syndrome are suffering either. We live happy lives. We just have an extra chromosome... We are still human beings. We are not monsters. Don’t be afraid of us. … Please don’t try to kill us all off.”

"Dignity and stuff like that" — Ivana Trump gives a great interview.

At Page Six. I'm seeing a lot of highlighting of one thing she said:

But all she said was — when asked — “I’ll tell you something, I don’t think it’s necessary... He has a good life and he has everything. Donald is going to be 74, 73 for the next [election] and maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune." That's such an inconsequential thing to say. It's only highlighted, I think, because a lot of people obsess about what will make Donald Trump go away.

But I note that Ivana's reason why he might not run would have just as well applied to his 2016 decision to run, and it's an idea that Donald Trump himself has expressed many time: He doesn't need it, he could live a very pleasant life without all this. But he did run in 2016, so why wouldn't he run in 2020? You could say, he's already proved he can be elected President. Yeah, but he hasn't yet proved he can be re-elected. And if you take him at his word — a concept that will annoy the hell out of his haters — he didn't do it to magnify himself but because he really thought he knew what the country needs and believed that only he can provide it.

Ivana also talked about her son Don Jr's impending divorce. She sees her boy as the winner and the mother of her grandchildren as the loser: