May 24, 2018

"North Korea said on Thursday that it had destroyed its only known nuclear test site, three weeks before its leader, Kim Jong-un, is scheduled to meet with President Trump."

The NYT reports this morning.
The action came two days after Mr. Trump backed away from his demand that Mr. Kim completely abandon his nuclear arsenal without any reciprocal American concessions.
Does this mean that Kim did what Trump had publicly demanded after Trump made a public statement that he was not demanding it?

"What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of waifing it for his royal master and mistress?"

"What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish. What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?"

From Chapter 89 "Moby-Dick" — "Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish" — which I'm reading this morning because of one of the best comments I've ever read on this blog, written by Left Bank of the Charles, on a post about an article in Slate in which a man complains about the difficulty making money by picking up and recharging the electric scooters of Santa Monica.

(The earlier post gives you a longer passage from "Moby-Dick" and the connection to the electric scooter problem, but new comments would be better on this new post.)

May 23, 2018

At the 7 PM Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"It is unconstitutional for public officials, including the president, to block Twitter followers who criticize them, a court ruled today in a legal dispute over President Trump’s account."

The Verge reports.
[The court wrote that] Twitter’s “interactive space,” where users can interact with Trump’s tweets, qualifies as a public forum, and that blocking users unconstitutionally restricts their speech. The decision rejected arguments from the president’s team that President Trump’s own First Amendment rights would be violated if he could not block users....

The court, while not going so far as to enter an order against the president and social media director Dan Scavino specifically, ruled more generally that public officials violated users’ rights when blocking them on the platform. The decision says such action is “viewpoint discrimination,” and that “no government official — including the President — is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared.”...

Notably, the decision distinguished between Twitter’s block and mute functions, and the judge found the argument that the two functions were equivalent “unpersuasive.” ... 
ADDED: Here's Eugene Volokh's reaction:
[According to the court,t]he Tweets themselves aren't a forum, because they are the President's own speech; but the space for public replies is a forum. The court's concern is that replies are a valuable means for the repliers to speak to fellow members of the public. The court recognizes that there's no right to speak to the President in a way that the President is obliged to read; the President remains free, for instance, to use Twitter's "mute" function, which would keep him from seeing the user's replies when he reviews his own feed.
Volokh thinks that part is relatively easy, but this the question whether the President is acting as a private citizen or a government official:
[E]ven when the President is giving a public speech, he is understood at least in part as expressing his own views... [C]onsider a related issue under another First Amendment provision, the Establishment Clause—even Supreme Court justices who believe that the government may not endorse religion think that it's fine for government officials to express religious views in their speeches. 

"One summer day, Mia accused me of leaving the curtains closed in the TV room."

"They had been drawn the day before when Dylan and Satchel were watching a movie. She insisted that I had closed them and left them that way. Her friend Casey had come over to visit and while they were in the kitchen, my mother insisted I had shut the curtains. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore and I lost it, yelling, 'You’re lying!' She shot me a look and took me into the bathroom next to the TV room. She hit me uncontrollably all over my body. She slapped me, pushed me backwards and hit me on my chest, shouting, 'How dare you say I’m a liar in front of my friend. You’re the pathological liar.' I was defeated, deflated, beaten and beaten down. Mia had stripped me of my voice and my sense of self. It was clear that if I stepped even slightly outside her carefully crafted reality, she would not tolerate it. It was an upbringing that made me, paradoxically, both fiercely loyal and obedient to her, as well as deeply afraid...."

Moses Farrow tells his story in a blog post titled "A Son Speaks Out."

"Satchel" = Ronan Farrow.

The NFL bans kneeling during the National Anthem.

The option to simply stay off the field remains available.
"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem," commissioner Roger Goodell said. "We want people to stand -- that's all personnel -- and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices."

"In reversal, Giuliani now says Trump should do interview with Mueller team."

WaPo reports.
“I guess I’d rather do the interview. It gets it over with. It makes my client happy,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The safe course you hear every lawyer say is don’t do the interview, and that’s easy to say in the abstract. That’s much harder when you have a client who is the president of the United States and wants to be interviewed.”
Maybe Giuliani is just adding his weight to the useful assertion that Trump really wants to do the interview. To use a Trump phrase: We'll see what happens.

"I hope you understand that we're puppets"/"You said we had free will"/"No, I didn't."

"James Clapper did NOT say what Donald Trump keeps saying he said."

A hilarious headline that expresses the end-of-my-rope frustration of anti-Trumpers, from Chris Cillizza at CNN.

Clapper was on "The View" yesterday and it went like this:
BEHAR: "So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump's campaign?"

CLAPPER: "No, they were not. They were spying on, a term I don't particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do."

BEHAR: "Well, why doesn't [Trump] like that? He should be happy."

CLAPPER: "He should be."
Well, Trump seems happy that the word "spying" slipped out of Clapper as he was talking about what the FBI was doing. Clapper obviously knew he slipped, since he immediately tried to (subtly) erase it.

Trump displayed his happiness by tweeting: "'Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign' No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!" And, talking to reporters: "I mean if you look at Clapper ... he sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign yesterday inadvertently. I hope it's not true, but it looks like it is."

Here's how Cillizza tries to wriggle out of it:
Clapper makes crystal clear that the FBI was not spying on the Trump campaign. And he also makes clear that while he doesn't like the word "spying" -- because we are talking about the use of a confidential source -- that, to the extent there was any information gathering happening in conversations between the FBI's informant and members of the Trump campaign, it was entirely designed to shed light on Russian meddling efforts related to the 2016 election.
Clapper began by saying "no" to the question whether the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign, but then concedes that they were spying. He doesn't like the word, because it's politically hot (and maybe illegal/unethical), but he used it. Then the question is where were they spying. They were spying on the Trump campaign.

The qualification "on what the Russians were doing" refers to the Trump campaign, not to the Russians generally. I understand that the motivation may have been to see what was the interaction between the campaign and the Russians, but that is still spying on the campaign. Now, the motivation could also have been to figure out a way to defeat Trump. I don't know.

To my ear, the phrase "on what the Russians were doing" is there as a denial of the political motivation, to say that it was legitimate to spy on the Trump campaign because the reason was to deal with genuine concern about Russians doing things within the Trump campaign. My interpretation is supported by Behar's response, "Well, why doesn't [Trump] like that? He should be happy," which Clapper jumped to ride along with, "He should be."

Clapper said that the FBI didn't spy on the Trump campaign. He said that the only information gathering that happened with the confidential source was related to Russian interference. 
That just says that the spying on the Trump campaign was limited, not that there wasn't spying on the Trump campaign!
Any honest reading of the entirety of what Clapper said -- and you can read the whole quote in about 15 seconds! -- makes clear that a) Clapper doesn't believe the FBI was spying on Trump's campaign and b) the information gathering being done by the FBI's confidential source was aimed at Russia and designed to protect Trump and his associates, not to mention American democracy more broadly.
Any honest reading...  so, by Cillizza's lights, I'm not being honest.

How could reading what Clapper said make clear that Clapper does't believe something? Clapper could be lying or bullshitting. What's inside somebody's head is rarely clear even when the statements are clear. But looking only at the meaning of the text, Cillizza's interpretation doesn't sound right to me, and his assertion that his view is the only "honest reading" is an affront to our intelligence.

But let's put aside the technicality of what may be an inadvertent mistake in writing about what Clapper believes (as opposed to what he asserts). Cillizza's efforts at calling Trump wrong fail because Cillizza is only talking about the reasons why the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, not whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign.

ADDED: Since Clapper was on "The View," he should have said "Yeah, it was spying, but it wasn't spying spying."


At McSweeney's, incel jokes.

1. "JORDAN PETERSON’S NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC!" is a list of satirically reimagined songs, some of which show familiarity with what Peterson does tend to talk about — "Rock Lobster Domination Pose," "It’s Draining Men (The Low Testosterone Song)" — and some of which doesn't — "I’m Hot for Teacher (Who Should Be Forced to Have Sex With Me Forever)" — but I just want to highlight the incel material: "Incelebration."

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou....
Continued, at the link. Here's the T.S. Eliot poem for reference.

Tribe's "momentary lapse" not so momentary.

"The rep made it sound like there was just free money sitting on the sidewalk each night, just waiting for me to scoop up."

"Bird [the electric scooter sharing service] sent me three chargers, and a peppy rep gave me a quick briefing: Each night I was to switch on the newly enabled 'charger' mode in the Bird app and collect scooters flagged as available for charging. Although juicing up most Birds would give me $5, ones that had been AWOL for a while became progressively more valuable, up to $20.... But it turns out the charging system is akin to a real-life Pokémon Go, albeit one rife with cheating. The app purports to tell you where nearby chargeable scooters are, but in reality that’s rarely the case. Duplicitous collectors have created a thriving ecosystem of stockpiling, hiding, and decoying that makes it well-nigh impossible to find a scooter in need of charging...."

From "For the Birds/I spent two weeks trying to charge electric scooters for extra cash. What I got was a lot of headaches" (Slate).

IN THE COMMENTS: Left Bank of the Charles said:
This guy needs to read Moby Dick on the subject of loose fish and fast fish. He assumes the guys in the pickup trucks are ripping off the company, but maybe their strategy is to collect scooters as quickly as possible, and then take the time to log them when they get back to their charging stations. That may be working perfectly well for the company.
And here it is, Chapter 89 of Moby-Dick, "Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish." Excerpt:
I. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it.

II. A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it. But what plays the mischief with this masterly code is the admirable brevity of it, which necessitates a vast volume of commentaries to expound it.

First: What is a Fast-Fish? Alive or dead a fish is technically fast, when it is connected with an occupied ship or boat, by any medium at all controllable by the occupant or occupants,—a mast, an oar, a nine-inch cable, a telegraph wire, or a strand of cobweb, it is all the same. Likewise a fish is technically fast when it bears a waif, or any other recognised symbol of possession; so long as the party waifing it plainly evince their ability at any time to take it alongside, as well as their intention so to do....

Is it not a saying in every one's mouth, Possession is half of the law: that is, regardless of how the thing came into possession? But often possession is the whole of the law. What are the sinews and souls of Russian serfs and Republican slaves but Fast-Fish, whereof possession is the whole of the law? What to the rapacious landlord is the widow's last mite but a Fast-Fish? What is yonder undetected villain's marble mansion with a doorplate for a waif; what is that but a Fast-Fish? What is the ruinous discount which Mordecai, the broker, gets from the poor Woebegone, the bankrupt, on a loan to keep Woebegone's family from starvation; what is that ruinous discount but a Fast-Fish? What is the Archbishop of Savesoul's income of 100,000 pounds seized from the scant bread and cheese of hundreds of thousands of broken-backed laborers (all sure of heaven without any of Savesoul's help) what is that globular 100,000 but a Fast-Fish. What are the Duke of Dunder's hereditary towns and hamlets but Fast-Fish? What to that redoubted harpooneer, John Bull, is poor Ireland, but a Fast-Fish? What to that apostolic lancer, Brother Jonathan, is Texas but a Fast-Fish? And concerning all these, is not Possession the whole of the law? But if the doctrine of Fast-Fish be pretty generally applicable, the kindred doctrine of Loose-Fish is still more widely so. That is internationally and universally applicable.

What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of waifing it for his royal master and mistress? What was Poland to the Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England? What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All Loose-Fish.

What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?

Confronting Jordan Peterson with a statement he says he didn't make, Michelle Goldberg says "Google it!"

This video Googles it for you:

Via the Jordan Peterson SubReddit, which I'm reading this morning because it was linked in something I was reading at Slate, "Jordan Peterson Seems Like a Terrible Therapist/Therapists are supposed to empower their clients, not use them to support their own worldview."

I'll transcribe Goldberg: "Recognize how threatened some women feel when, for example, the kind of, you know, best-selling and most prominent intellectual in the world right now says in an interview, maybe if women don't want the workplace to be sexualized, they shouldn't be allowed to wear makeup."

Peterson says he didn't say that, and Goldberg's response is, "It was a Vice interview — Google it!" Okay, now I've Googled it and come up with the relevant clip:

Peterson says it's hard to know if men and women can be in the workplace together, and "We don't know what the rules are." Then he snaps out a little Socratic test: "Here's a rule: How about no makeup in the workplace?" The interviewer giggles and brushes away Peterson's suggestion that makeup is "provocative." Peterson presses him: "What's the purpose of makeup?" The interviewer professes to have no idea why women put on makeup (though I assume he's just thinking that women should be free to wear makeup if we want and it's not his place to inquire into why). Peterson sticks in his intense, crisp, challenging mode: Women wear lipstick because lips "turn red during sexual arousal." Peterson then makes it clear that he's "not saying that people shouldn't use sexual displays in the workplace." And then, on the prompting of the interviewer, he agrees that women who don't want sexual harassment in the workplace are" hypocritical" if they wear makeup.

So Goldberg did misspeak and left herself open to attack, but she would have been fine if she'd said: "if women don't want the workplace to be sexualized, they are hypocritical if they wear makeup."

How would that revised, accurate statement connect with the idea of "how threatened some women feel"? It might connected better! The disallowance of makeup in the workplace is annoying and repressive, but is it "threatening"? And yet, is it "threatening" to be called a hypocrite? Well, what's threatening is the idea that women bring sexual harassment on themselves by doing anything to make themselves sexually attractive. That really is repressive.

May 22, 2018

Philip Roth has died.

The New Yorker reports.

Obstructing injustice.

A Twitter dialogue between Max Boot and Scott Adams:

The White House is the one that’s doing the stonewalling. As I write today, Trump is imitating a tried and true authoritarian tactic—investigate the investigators—to escape accountability:
What was the alternative?
The alternative is pretty simple: don’t obstruct justice. Let the lawful investigation proceed unimpeded. Uphold the oath of office. Defend the Constituon [sic].
Obstructing justice would be bad. Obstructing INJUSTICE is why voters hired him. It's his job to know the difference, and he's showing his work. I appreciate his transparency on this. Presidents have freedom of speech too.
Ah! Now, I'm seeing that Adams is in the middle of a live Periscope. I'll just put this post up and watch this later when I can start at the beginning. I like this term "obstructing injustice," so let's see where Adams goes with it:

ADDED: I'm going to read Boot's WaPo column, linked in the first tweet, because I really don't understand that investigating the investigators is "a tried and true authoritarian tactic." It seems to me that in an authoritarian governmental system, the leader controls the investigators, so how can they be investigated by any governmental authority that is in a position to impose consequences? You've only got private citizens — notably, journalists — trying to do investigations. The ability to investigate the investigators seems to me to be an attribute of a free and open society.

So, Boot's column begins:
Remember that old adage that a frog will jump out of a boiling pot but won’t notice if the temperature is slowly raised until it’s boiled alive? 
Well, that's not an "adage," but I know the analogy you're talking about. Thanks for letting me know up front that attention to accurate language isn't important to you. It would make more sense to call it a "fable," which is the term used at the Wikipedia article, "Boiling frog." I love Wikipedia. I'm abandoning the project of reading Boot's blather so I can dive into a delightful hot bath of Wikipedia:
The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that arise gradually.

While some 19th-century experiments suggested that the underlying premise is true if the heating is sufficiently gradual, according to contemporary biologists the premise is false: a frog that is gradually heated will jump out. Indeed, thermoregulation by changing location is a fundamentally necessary survival strategy for frogs and other ectotherms.
As part of advancing science, several experiments observing the reaction of frogs to slowly heated water took place in the 19th century. In 1869, while doing experiments searching for the location of the soul, German physiologist Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that a frog that has had its brain removed will remain in slowly heated water, but an intact frog attempted to escape the water when it reached 25 °C.
I see good potential for metaphor, because it is kind of like America has had its brain removed. When did that happen? Pop culture, fake news, too much fixation on screens, drugs — sorry, I can't pursue that brain(ha ha)storm right now. But you see the idea. If we're the frog that doesn't jump out of the boiling water that means we've had our brain removed — the soul-search Friedrich Goltz ghoulishly figured that out for us. What would we do without German physiologists?

Anyway, there's more science detail at that Wikipedia article, and when I get back to Boot, I see he knows his "adage" about frogs is wrong:
It turns out that it just isn’t true. In fact, frogs will hop out when the temperature turns uncomfortable.
Then why start a column with that bullshit?
Which suggests that we may not be as smart as slimy green amphibians. 
Only if we don't jump out of slowly heating water.
President Trump is throwing one democratic norm after another into a big pot and rapidly raising the heat, and we’re too busy watching the royal wedding to notice. 
This metaphor is annoying me. Are the "democratic norms" supposed to be the frogs that won't jump out? They sound like ingredients being added to a soup, but what's bad about soup? Something that could be killed and that has the power to save itself needs to be in the pot. Are we in the pot, and are democratic norms being put in there with us? I think a metaphor should be abandoned if you can't get the moving parts right!

Boot proceeds to enumerate Trump's transgressions on "significant norms." The headings are: "Revealing intelligence sources," "Politically motivated prosecutions," "Mixing private and government business," "Foreign interference in U.S. elections," "Undermining the First Amendment."

Boot's point is that we're not getting upset enough. We should be jumping at these early transgressions, like the nonexistent frog.
Republicans approve of, or pretend not to notice, his flagrant misconduct, while Democrats are inured to it. The sheer number of outrages makes it hard to give each one the attention it deserves. But we must never – ever! – accept the unacceptable. Otherwise our democracy will be boiled alive.
But in real life, the frog does jump out when it gets too hot. The slow heating does not interfere with that capacity. Using the real-life analogy, we're not getting terribly upset yet because we don't think it's too hot yet, and we will be able to jump when we decide that it is. That last sentence forgets the science and screams at us to jump now because otherwise we'll be boiled alive. But that's alarmism. Frogs don't live like that, so why should we?

Boot wrote "we may not be as smart as slimy green amphibians," but maybe we are, and we don't fritter away our life's energy by abandoning one acceptably warm pool on the theory if it turns out to be a fatal boiling pot we will die.

By the way, here's another Wikipedia article about a reaction-to-heat metaphor, "Out of the frying pan into the fire."

"Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it: Summa … Laude."

WaPo headline.

Publix has a computer system where the customer types in the words they want on a cake, and some bad words — including "cum" — are simply automatically censored. So this is just a hilarious screw-up by a company with a convenient but unsophisticated automatic system for getting writing onto cakes.

But what happens next? I think we should all laugh, and Publix should give the family some free cake and tweak its computer program so that "cum" is okay when it's followed by "laude" (though I'm capable of thinking of ways to get to the sexual use of "cum" in a phrase that follows "cum" with "laude").

But no. This is America, and there must be outrage.
Jacob was “absolutely humiliated,” [his mother Cara] Koscinski said to The Post. “It was unbelievable. I ordered the special graduation edition cake. I can’t believe I’m the first one to ever write 'Summa Cum Laude' on a cake." Koscinski said she then had to explain why the grocery store censored “cum” from Jacob’s cake to her 70-year-old mother.

Jacob didn’t eat much of the cake after that but his mother says the chocolate and vanilla cake was delicious.

Koscinski called Publix on Monday and explained the situation to the assistant manager. She said she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else in the future. Publix offered to remake the cake. She declined.

“No,” she said, “you only graduate once.”
 If the boy is so "humiliated," why go to the media and connect his name forever to sensitivity to "cum"?

ADDED: I've got to front-page something I wrote in the comments:
Maybe the mother should have thought twice about putting "cum" on a cake....

Publix should say: You know, Ms. Koscinski, a cake really is better without cum on it. We really believe that here at Publix. What if some wag at your party thought to make a joke out of cutting a slice of cake so that just the word "cum" was on one piece? What if he'd served that to your 70-year-old mother and everyone was laughing and she didn't understand why and you had to explain that? Really, we protected you from some consequences you might not have considered.

The NYT reports on a Tibetan businessman who was sentenced, in China, to 5 years in prison for interviews that he gave to the NYT.

"Tibetan Activist Who Promoted His Native Language Is Sentenced to Prison":
The businessman, Tashi Wangchuk... was arrested in early 2016, two months after he was featured in a New York Times video and article about Tibetan language education. He stood trial in January this year, charged with “inciting separatism” for comments he had made to The Times....

The Chinese Communist Party for decades maintained policies intended to keep ethnic minorities, especially Tibetans and Uighurs, under political control while giving them some space to preserve their own languages and cultures. But under Xi Jinping, the staunch Communist Party leader who came to power in 2012, China has adopted more assimilationist policies, designed to absorb these minorities into the fold of one Chinese nation.

At his trial in January, Mr. Tashi, speaking in Chinese, rejected the idea that his efforts to rejuvenate the Tibetan language were a crime. He has said that he does not advocate independence for Tibet, but wants the rights for ethnic minorities that are promised by Chinese law, including the right to use their own language....
Here's the NYT video from 2016:

Tashi, in the video: “In politics, it’s said that if one nation wants to eliminate another nation, first they need to eliminate their spoken and written language.... In effect, there is a systematic slaughter of our culture.”

Starbucks in Japan

So inspiring! Beautiful!

Meanwhile, in the United States, Starbucks struggles to blend in. Via Reddit:
Starbucks on Monday emphasized in communications with The Wall Street Journal that employees have detailed instructions on what to do if someone is behaving in a disruptive manner. It said disruptive behaviors include smoking, drug or alcohol use, improper use of restrooms and sleeping.

The company's latest message shows the challenges companies face when they address socially sensitive policies in an era of social media when every corporate move can be immediately telegraphed. Some people tweeted and posted supportive comments about Starbucks's policy of inclusiveness, demonstrating the tightrope the company must walk in trying to cater to all customers....

Managers and baristas, Starbucks said, should first ask a fellow employee to verify that a certain behavior is disruptive and if it is, respectfully request that the customer stop. Starbucks says employees only should call 911 if a situation becomes unsafe.

Other examples of disruptive behavior include talking too loud, playing loud music and viewing inappropriate content. The company provided employees with examples of when they should call 911, which includes when a customer is using or selling drugs.
I can only gesture at the question whether differences between Japanese and American culture account for the differences in handling these 2 problems of one corporation interfacing with a culture. It is easier to blend in architecturally than socially and politically. Architecturally, you know what to look at: the surrounding buildings. You can observe concrete elements and attempt to copy them. But socially and politically, what do you do? You've been criticized in a sudden spate and you're suddenly sticking out because one incident hit media virally. Any solution brings new problems, leading to new incidents and, perhaps, the silent draining away of your old patrons.

May 21, 2018

At the Redbud Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"How a girl disposes her legs when seated can instantly signal your most effective approach."

"Of the prevalent leg positions displayed on these pages, pay particular attention to the Schemer and the Philanthropist...."

From "The Language of Legs" in the April 1969 issue of Playboy (click to enlarge):

I'm just flipping through this issue of Playboy because it contains the interview with Allen Ginsberg that I'd read at the time and wanted so much to be able to reread again that I subscribed to Playboy. I chose 1-month of unlimited access to the archive, which cost $8.

Sample from the Ginsburg interview:

"God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are."

Pope Francis says it's fine to be gay.

Why I subscribed to Playboy.

For the interviews!

Specifically, I wanted to read the interview with Allen Ginsberg in the April 1969 issue, and that's something I'm doing right now. But I also loved the idea of getting access to all of the back issues, including all the issues that were available to me to read (or otherwise gaze upon) when I was growing up in Delaware and New Jersey in the 1950s and 60s.

I love the old ads too:

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upholds employer-employee arbitration agreements that provide for individual proceedings.

In an opinion by Justice Gorsuch, it says the text of the federal Arbitration Act is clear and the National Labor Relations Board wrongly found a way to avoid it. Justice Ginsburg writes for the dissenters (joined by Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan). As SCOTUSblog excerpts from the dissenting opinion:
"It is the result," she says, "of take-it-or-leave-it labor contracts harking back to the type called 'yellow dog,' and of the readiness of this Court to enforce those unbargained-for agreements. The [Federal Arbitration Act] demands no such suppression for the right of workers to take concerted action for their 'mutual aid or protection.'"

Concern of dissent is that individual claims tend to be small, so that it's not necessarily worth the expense to pursue individually, but now they can't pursue together either.

Justice Ginsburg is now reading from her dissenting opinion. This is a relatively rare and significant move.
This is a big win for management — Epic Systems, Inc. v. Lewis.

ADDED: I'll excerpt this from the majority opinion:
[The employees] don’t suggest that their arbitration agreements were extracted, say, by an act of fraud or duress or in some other unconscionable way that would render any contract unenforceable. Instead, they object to their agreements precisely because they require individualized arbitration proceedings instead of class or collective ones. And by attacking (only) the individualized nature of the arbitration proceedings, the employees’ argument seeks to interfere with one of arbitration’s fundamental attributes.

I guess Exley is — what? — her dog?

Here's the "pustule" thing she retweeted (with the comment "I knew he was rotten but I thought it was on the inside"):

Maddie Poppe sings Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide"...

... on the "American Idol" finale last night. The results are revealed tonight, in a show that will include, among other things, Maddie Poppe singing her audition song, "Rainbow Connection," with Kermit the Frog. I don't know what you like to watch on TV but Maddie Poppe singing "Rainbow Connection" with Kermit the Frog sounds like the best thing that's been on TV in years.

Here's the audition version of "Rainbow Connection" (one of my all-time favorite songs):

ADDED: "If not for american idol i may have never heard her artistry.she is so cute.when i hear her sing it makes me want to ride a merry go round at the county fair" — a comment on this video from last year, before the TV-show competition began:

"Political correctness: a force for good?"

A debate with Michael Eric Dyson and Michelle Goldberg for the proposition and Stephen Fry and Jordan Peterson against.

"New York City is rife with scents that make it a diverse 'smellscape'..."

According to "New York Today: Smelling Your Way to Work" (NYT).
On one recent work-bound walk to the F train, I was puzzled to meet a half dozen separate smells along just one block. Garbage, which seemed peculiar on a decently clean sidewalk; skunk, which left me wondering how prevalent the animals are in the city; cookies, which nearly caused me to detour; and burned rubber, then grass, then dish soap.

The scents may come from miles away, according to Kate McLean, a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal College of Art in London, whose research has focused on mapping urban “smellscapes.”...

She noted... subway stations and pretzel stands... [and] a composite of fried garlic, wheat grass and tarmac.... “The smell from the sidewalk, and the reflective qualities of the tarmac, and garlic — it’s very, very New York. It’s healthy living alongside the traffic alongside the heat.”
McClean conducts "smellwalks" for tourists. And here's one of her "smellmaps."

"Socialism Is on a Winning Streak."

It's John Nichols, at The Nation.
From the 1910s through the 1940s, Socialist Party members served as state legislators, mayors, city councilors and school board members. The Pennsylvania party, with its deep roots in Reading, produced national Socialist leaders, including candidates for president and vice president....

But the dry spell is over. Socialists have been on an electoral winning streak in some parts of the country for a number of years—Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant made her electoral breakthrough in 2013, winning a major race for the Seattle City Council—but the results from western Pennsylvania in the past two years have been particularly striking. And, now, national observers are starting to take note. “Democratic Socialists scores big wins in Pennsylvania,” declared CNN this week, while The New Yorker announced: “A Democratic-Socialist Landslide in Pennsylvania.”

... “We’re turning the state the right shade of red tonight,” declared Arielle Cohen, the co-chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of DSA....

Official logo of the Democratic Socialists of America via Wikipedia.

ADDED: About that official logo. I presume the white and black outlines for the shaking hands are intended to represent white and black people coming together in socialism. Why then is white the color for the outlining of the rose? It seems to convey the dominance of white. You might try to defend the design by saying the socialists want to say that there is white supremacy and it needs to be recognized in order to be fought, but portraying white supremacy as a rose would suggest that it's good. And, in any event, the red rose (according to the above-linked Wikipedia article) is a traditional symbol of socialism. The logo infuses the symbol of socialism with whiteness, the whiteness that is the white hand that shakes the black hand. It seems to say that white people welcome black people into what is a white enclave.

"In no way would a fourth-hand report from a Maltese professor justify wholesale targeting of four or five members of the Trump campaign."

"It took Christopher Steele, with his funding concealed through false campaign filings, to be incredibly successful at creating a vast echo chamber around his unverified, fanciful dossier, bouncing it back and forth between the press and the FBI so it appeared that there were multiple sources all coming to the same conclusion. Time and time again, investigators came up empty. Even several sting operations with an FBI spy we just learned about failed to produce a Delorean-like video with cash on the table. But rather than close the probe, the deep state just expanded it. All they had were a few isolated contacts with Russians and absolutely nothing related to Trump himself, yet they pressed forward. Egged on by Steele, they simply believed Trump and his team must be dirty. They just needed to dig deep enough...."

From "Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all" by Mark Penn (The Hill).

"Right now we’re living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy. No, there are not tanks in the streets, but what’s happening right now goes to the heart of who we are as a nation..."

"... and I say this not as a Democrat who lost an election but as an American afraid of losing a country. There are certain things that are so essential they should transcend politics. Waging a war on the rule of law and a free press, de-legitimizing elections, perpetrating shameless corruption and rejecting the idea that our leaders should be public servants undermines our national unity. And attacking truth and reason, evidence and facts should alarm us all."

Who knows whether all or some or none among the graduating class at Yale were alarmed when Hillary Clinton intoned those words? But I do note that somebody was sitting right there in the front row wearing a witch's hat...

So if we're doing witch hunts, I found one. I mean, I know there's a hat thing going on at Yale. the linked article (in the New Haven Register) does talk about it:
It is Class Day tradition for the seniors to wear silly, imaginative headgear and Clinton held up a Russian fur cap, saying, “I brought a hat too — a Russian hat. Look, I mean, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!”
Join the Russians.

Meanwhile, at the other hyper-elite school: "Hillary Clinton will receive Harvard’s prestigious Radcliffe Medal for her 'transformative impact on society.'"

May 20, 2018

At the Flower Tree Café...


... you can talk about anything.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!"

The newest Donald Trump tweet.

Also this morning — in order from oldest to newest:
Things are really getting ridiculous. The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!

....At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption... the Hillary Clinton Campaign where she deleted 33,000 Emails, got $145,000,000 while Secretary of State, paid McCabes wife $700,000 (and got off the FBI hook along with Terry M) and so much more. Republicans and real Americans should start getting tough on this Scam.

Now that the Witch Hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the rest of the World, they should easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party. Don’t worry about Dems FISA Abuse, missing Emails or Fraudulent Dossier!

What ever happened to the Server, at the center of so much Corruption, that the Democratic National Committee REFUSED to hand over to the hard charging (except in the case of Democrats) FBI? They broke into homes & offices early in the morning, but were afraid to take the Server?

....and why hasn’t the Podesta brother been charged and arrested, like others, after being forced to close down his very large and successful firm? Is it because he is a VERY well connected Democrat working in the Swamp of Washington, D.C.?

The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia - so now they’re looking at the rest of the World. Oh’ great!

"Will it soon be possible... to simulate the feeling of a spirit not attached to any particular physical form using virtual or augmented reality?"

"If so, a good place to start would be to figure out the minimal amount of body we need to feel a sense of self, especially in digital environments where more and more people may find themselves for work or play. It might be as little as a pair of hands and feet...."

From "In Virtual Reality, How Much Body Do You Need?/It might be as little as a pair of hands and feet, researchers in Japan found after recording subjects who wore an Oculus Rift headset." (NYT).

"Afro-pessimism and its treatment of withdrawal as transcendence is no less pleasing to white supremacy than Booker T. Washington’s strategic retreat into self-help."

"Afro-pessimism threatens no one, and white audiences confuse having been chastised with learning... My father used to say that integration had little to do with sitting next to white people and everything to do with black people gaining access to better neighborhoods, decent schools, their share. Life for blacks was not what it should be, but he saw that as a reason to keep on, not check out. I had no idea how much better things were than they had been when he was my age, he said.... A couple of decades later I was resenting my father speaking of my expatriate life as a black literary tradition, because I understood him to be saying that I wasn’t doing anything new and, by the way, there was no such thing as getting away from being black, or what others might pretend that meant. Black life is about the group, and even if we tell ourselves that we don’t care anymore that America glorifies the individual in order to disguise what is really happening, this remains a fundamental paradox in the organization of everyday life for a black person. Your head is not a safe space."

From "The Afro-Pessimist Temptation" by Darryl Pinckney in the New York Review of Books, reviewing "We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy" by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

"I had never heard the name 'Kelvin' before. There isn’t anyone who names their kid Kelvin... So when I thought more about it, I realized that no one else has this name. It became unique. Now we think it is better than Kevin."

From "Mom Changes Son’s Name After Tattoo Artist Misspells It on Her Arm" (People).
“The spelling did not look wrong to me at firs... For me, the text is upside-down so it’s in the right direction when I’m standing. It says Kelvin instead of Kevin. I didn’t think it was true.”
In the right direction when I’m standing.... As opposed to the right direction when she's sitting? Whatever. This tattoo thing is going to end someday... someday soon... right? It's such a pitfall for the stupid.

There's a wonderful verse in Proverbs: "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." But I say: No. Not if he has a tattoo. Now, give the Old Testament credit: It forbids tattoos. No tattoo and no talking and maybe you can keep your foolishness a secret.

There's also the aphorism, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." If you think Abraham Lincoln (or was it Mark Twain) said that, here's the Quote Investigator inquiry into the subject.

The ban on tattoos is Leviticus 19:28: "'Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."

That makes me want to show you this from Lenny Bruce's autobiography, "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People":
I have a tattoo on my arm, and because of this tattoo, I can never be buried in a Jewish cemetery. That’s the Orthodox law. You have to go out of the world the same way you came in—no marks, no changes.

Anyway, I told how, when I got back from Malta and went home to Long Island, I was in the kitchen, washing with soap, and my Aunt Mema saw the tattoo. So she flips. A real Jewish yell.

“Look what you did! You ruined your arm! You’re no better than a gypsy!”

So the producer [of the Steve Allen TV show] says that I can’t do this on the show because it would definitely be offensive to the Jewish people....

I said if they wouldn’t let me do that, I wouldn’t do the show... They had a meeting about it. They argued for about an hour while I was kept waiting in a corner, like a leper with a bell on my neck.

“We talked it over, Lenny. You know, it’s not only offensive to the Jewish people, but it’s definitely offensive to the Gentile people too.”

“Oh, yeah—how do you figure that?”

“Well, what you’re saying in essence is that the Gentiles don’t care what they bury.”
By the way, you know what would be a great name for a kid? Celsius. For a boy, of course. If it's a girl, we're calling her Fahrenheidi.

"Meghan Markle's wedding was a rousing celebration of blackness."

A column at The Guardian by Afua Hirsh.
The sermon, delivered by the Episcopalian church leader the Rev Michael Curry, began with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr before enlightening the congregation on the wisdom of spirituals – traditional African American music rooted in the experience of slavery – and casting Jesus as a revolutionary. If there had been any doubts about what cultural experience Curry would bring to the service, they were swiftly and decisively answered....

Markle used her wedding to introduce her new peers to blackness. The teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.... The Kingdom gospel choir sang soul classic Stand By Me....

Markle’s choice was clear, and people responded. The wedding has transformed Windsor itself – a town only 20 miles from London but which, in its lack of visible diversity, can feel culturally thousands of kilometres away – that is suddenly full of people of colour. The day before the wedding, I saw African American women dressed in white lace dresses, some wearing tiaras, others wearing Meghan Markle masks....

[B]y allowing her wedding to be not just a pageant of tradition, but also a celebration of blackness, she’s started as I hope she means to go on.
Were those only "African American women" wearing the "Meghan Markle masks"? I kind of doubt it! First, how do you even know that people walking around in Britain are American? Or is "African American" a clumsy synonym for black? Second, I think a lot of white people were wearing Meghan Markle masks, and I'm wondering why that isn't a blackface problem rather than an advancement? Third, did the Meghan Markle masks really express anything about racial feeling? There were Prince Harry masks too. I'm reading "These Creepy Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Masks Prove British People Have No Chill" (at Life & Style):
Fans of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are putting their faces on cardboard and wearing them around town in anticipation for the actress to walk down the aisle, and TBH, it's creepy....

"Just saw a woman walking alone through market square with a Meghan Markle mask on, u ok?" one resident tweeted before another chimed in, "People dressed up as the royal family, one in a wedding dress wearing a Meghan Markle mask parading through Hugglescote. Do people not have jobs?"

"What are the US Democrats' big ideas?"

A column at BBC news (by Anthony Zurcher) based on an "Ideas Confererence" put on the Center for American Progress. The conference seems to reflect an awareness that Democrats are politically vulnerable because they are defined by what they are against and not what they are for. But reading this column, I wonder if they downplay what they are for because it isn't politically popular.

For example, under the heading "Minimum wage and 'freeloader fees'":
Sherrod Brown... pushed what he calls a "corporate freeloader fee" - imposing a penalty on companies with more than $100,000 in payroll taxes that do not pay their workers high enough wages to keep them off public assistance programmes.

Mr Brown and other Democrats also mentioned raising the federal minimum wage from its current $7.15 an hour level, which was set in 2009. Some states have passed much higher minimum-wage levels.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey said the federal government should guarantee Americans a job if they want one, which he said was not a "radical idea".

"Why not invest on the front-end with secure jobs so that you're not seeing negative impacts that come with low-employment or unemployment like foreclosures and evictions?" he asked.
The other headings are "Expanding public schooling" ("Who said that public education should be a right for everybody between [the ages of] five and 18, but not for those either before five or after 18?"), "Ethics, reform and oversight," "Dismantling the oligarchy" ("a 'substantial' increase of the estate tax"), and "Guns, the environment and healthcare."

"The mountain lion dragged the man into the woods as the survivor escaped on his bike to find help about 30 miles east of Seattle."

The Daily News reports.
The survivor told police the cat attacked him first.

"The second victim turned and started to run away," King County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said. "The cougar saw that and went after the second victim."
So in this case, running triggered the animal to abandon the prey it already had in its clutches and to prefer the running man.

Here's a Scientific American article from 2009, "Should You Run or Freeze When You See a Mountain Lion?/New study disputes conventional wisdom to stay put or risk triggering lion's instinct to pursue."
Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis,* studied the behavior of 185 people who were attacked by mountain lions (aka pumas or cougars) between 1890 and 2000 in the U.S. and Canada.... [H]alf of the 18 people who ran when they were attacked escaped injury. The study also found, however, that those who ran had a slightly higher chance of being killed in an attack—28 percent (five) of those who fled died as a result of injuries, compared with 23 percent (eight) of those who remained motionless during big cat attacks. About 39 percent, or 28 people, who moved away slowly when approached by a mountain lion escaped without injury.

On the other hand, people who froze were the least likely to escape injury when a mountain lion attacked. Only 26 percent of them escaped. They also had the greatest frequency of severe injuries: 43 percent of those who stood still in the face of a lion were badly injured compared with 17 percent of those who fled, according to the study.

"Immobility may be interpreted by the mountain lion as a sign that you are vulnerable prey," Coss tells, adding that not moving could lead the predator to think you're not aware of its presence or are incapable of escaping. Staring down a puma can let the animal know you’re aware it’s looking, though distance can reduce its effectiveness.

* The phrase "Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis" needs to be rewritten so that it doesn't seem that the "predator–prey relationships" are on the the University of California, Davis campus. Perhaps: "Richard Coss, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis who focuses on the evolution of predator–prey relationships."

"Texas school shooter killed girl who turned down his advances and embarrassed him in class, her mother says."

The L.A. Times reports.
One of [Dmitri] Pagourtzis' classmates who died in the attack, Shana Fisher, "had 4 months of problems from this boy," her mother, Sadie Rodriguez, wrote in a private message to the Los Angeles Times on Facebook. "He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no."

Pagourtzis continued to get more aggressive, and she finally stood up to him and embarrassed him in class, Rodriguez said. "A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn't like," she wrote. "Shana being the first one." Rodriguez didn't say how she knew her daughter was the first victim.

May 19, 2018

At the Gray-Green Café...


... you can open up and talk about whatever you like.

What kind of state governor would say about a 17-year-old "He didn't have the courage to commit suicide"?

Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Whatever outrage you feel fired up or politically motivated to express, do not put that idea out there for young people to consume: Suicide is an act of courage.

There was a lot of this sort of thing.

Did anyone count the number of times Harry touched his face?

Nice dress. Tom and Lorenzo opine:
No one should care what these two queens think about wedding gowns, but this style has always been our favorite. It never ages badly. It will always look chic in pictures. From a personal-statement standpoint, we think this is very much of a piece with Meghan’s style, which has shown itself, post-engagement, to be minimalist and cleanly chic in tone. She’s not a gal who goes for a lot of foofaraw....
I wish everyone well.

I was up on my own naturally at 4 a.m., so I watched enough of the show to experience all sorts of feelings — squishy, tender, lofty, queasy... and I don't want to be awful... but Harry kept touching and rubbing his face and I just couldn't help thinking about Harry's mother and what I know about the thoughts that rushed through her head on that day that the world watched her bogus "fairytale" wedding.

So I'll stop here and say good luck to all the newlyweds of this world. I myself got married ago on a May 19th (45 years ago, in a marriage that lasted 14 years). You can watch all sorts of couples get married — people congregate to witness weddings — but you can't know what the marrying minds are thinking. Is it wrong to look at the outward signs that there is a big disconnect between the spoken words and real person who is enduring the theatrical ritual?

May 18, 2018

At the Magenta Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

And please use my portal to Amazon.


I wrote "ditsy" this morning (to describe an article titled "I’m Ready for the Female Takeover of the Democratic Party/The Venusification of the Democratic Party is on, and this man says it’s high time"), and Known Unknown wrote: "I prefer 'ditzy.' The z works better at communicating the thought."

I didn't think about the spelling, but now that I am thinking about it, I agree with Known Unknown. "Z" is a much more interesting letter than the ultra-common "S," so I don't want to miss any opportunities to use "z," but is "ditsy" even an acceptable spelling? Was I influenced by "itsy bitsy"? Clearly, there's a noun "ditz" and you'd never think of spelling it "dits."

I Googled "ditsy" and got some indication that it's an acceptable alternate spelling, and I even got the idea it might be the British spelling, but then I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, and it wasn't there at all.

So "ditzy" it is.

The etymology is unknown but it might be a corruption of "dicty." Do you know that word? It's African-American slang for "A black person regarded as snobbish, pretentious, self-important, or ‘stuck-up" or " Snobbish, pretentious, self-important, ‘stuck-up’; having or characterized by aspirations to gentility or elegance; flashy, showy" or "High-class, fancy; elegant, stylish." For example, here's something from 1932: "Harlem's reigning sheik is Cab Calloway... His dicty clothes in zebra patterns set the style pace for ebony swells along Lenox Avenue." And from 1945: "People with slight education, small incomes, and few of the social graces are always referring to the more affluent and successful as ‘dicties’, ‘stuck-ups’, ‘muckti-mucks’, ‘high-toned folks’, ‘tony people.'"

Back to "ditzy." It means "stupid, scatterbrained; ‘cute.'" Why is "cute" in quotations? Anyway, it's mostly said of women. Examples:
1981 Time 12 Jan. 45/1 Bob Newhart plays the President of the United States: Madeline Kahn is his dipso wife, Gilda Radner his ditsy daughter....
1985 N.Y. Times 31 Jan. a22/2 According to a wholly unscientific sample, this decade's terms [for ‘dumb’] so far include, besides airhead, retard, ditsy and wifty.
Ooh! Both examples spelled it "ditsy."

"Ditz" is a backformation. It only goes back to 1984.
1985 Guardian 22 June 12/4 Meryl Streep is serious, Suzanne Somers isn't... I've been both. I used to be a ditz. Now I'm talented.
2007 N. Barker Darkmans 614 ‘I'm a nutter, a ditz, a turd, a ding-bat..' she shrugged.
Something very 80s about "ditz" and "ditzy." What was going on there? Sexist retrogression after the 60s and 70s?

"Obama’s Legacy Has Already Been Destroyed."

It's the new Andrew Sullivan column.
In one respect, it seems to me, the presidency of Donald Trump has been remarkably successful. In 17 months, he has effectively erased Barack Obama’s two-term legacy....
If Trump has destroyed Obama’s substantive legacy at home and abroad, the left has gutted Obama’s post-racial cultural vision. And those of us who saw him as an integrative bridge to the future, who still cling to the bare bones of a gradually more inclusive liberal order, find ourselves on a fast-eroding peninsula, as cultural and political climate change erases the very environment we once called hope.

"Jordan Peterson, Custodian of the Patriarchy/He says there’s a crisis in masculinity. Why won’t women — all these wives and witches — just behave?"

Whoa! That's a pretty insulting title for a new NYT article about Jordan Peterson. The article is by Nellie Bowles who spent 2 days with him, with access to his home — check out the unflattering photograph of him in his home — and listening in to his phone calls and following him backstage at a lecture.
Wherever he goes, he speaks in sermons about the inevitability of who we must be. “You know you can say, ‘Well isn’t it unfortunate that chaos is represented by the feminine’ — well, it might be unfortunate, but it doesn’t matter because that is how it’s represented. It’s been represented like that forever. And there are reasons for it. You can’t change it. It’s not possible. This is underneath everything. If you change those basic categories, people wouldn’t be human anymore. They’d be something else. They’d be transhuman or something. We wouldn’t be able to talk to these new creatures.”...

Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.

"China’s leading 'rage comics' brand, Baozou Manhua, has been silenced on multiple online platforms after one of its videos was accused of slandering revolutionary heroes and martyrs."

Sixth Tone reports.
The Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law, which came into effect on May 1, makes such conduct punishable....

In the clip, host Wang Nima dons a rage face mask and narrates: “Dong Cunrui stared at the enemy’s bunker, his eyes bursting with rays of hate. He said resolutely, ‘Commander, let me blow up the bunker. I am an eight-point youth, and this is my eight-point bunker.’” The script was a pun on a KFC sandwich available for a limited time in 2014.

Another part of the clip tampered with a line from Ye’s poem, changing “Climb out! Give you freedom!” to “Climb out! Painless induced abortion!” to mock rampant advertising for abortions....
Is there some kind of 8-point sandwich at KFC? Hard to understand the humor, but I oppose the government censorship and feel heartened to see efforts at free speech in China.

"The Madison Reunion will be a nostalgic homecoming for lefty activists who called Madison home in the 1960s. But it won’t be the only game in town."

Isthmus reports.
“We heard about the Madison Reunion being organized from people telling us, ‘I don’t see anything I’m interested in here, this isn’t the radical Madison I know.’ It’s organized as an academic conference,” says Sarah White, a member of the local Gray Panthers and an organizer of the Radical Perspectives teach-in....

[There will be] a dozen workshops planned for Saturday, June 16, ranging from “Women Unmasking Power & Building Movements” to “The New Left’s Radical Legacy For Today.” There’s also a kickoff event the night before, including Max Elbaum reading from his book Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che.

“I’d say there’s a Marxist throughline to what we’re doing that you haven’t heard in a few decades,” White says....

The approach at the teach-in will be hands-on, with an emphasis on connecting older radicals with young people who are active today. “It’s about passing the torch,” White says. “We’re old, we can’t march in the streets anymore, we have to pass the torch to other people. People are really eager to engage in dialogue with young activists.”

That’s why there are several panels on high school activism....
IN THE COMMENTS: Referring to the topic — from an earlier post — of ambiguous headlines ("crash blossoms"), rehajm writes:
Women Unmasking Power & Building Movements

There’s your crash blossom.
And I said:
Good observation.

And now I'm picturing a building that shits.
And I realize that I can picture a building that shits, because I've seen a lot of great anthropomorphized buildings drawn by one of my favorite artists Mark Beyer. Example:

From "Life and Times of Thomas House," by Mark Beyer.

"A man yelling about Donald Trump opened fire early Friday in the lobby of a Miami-area golf resort owned by the President...."

CNN reports.
Authorities received a call of an active shooter at the Trump National Doral Golf Club at 1:30 a.m., said Juan Perez, director of the Miami-Dade police.... Perez did not provide details on what the shooter was saying about Trump, who was at the White House at the time.

"I’m Ready for the Female Takeover of the Democratic Party/The Venusification of the Democratic Party is on, and this man says it’s high time."

Headline at The Daily Beast for a ditsy column by Michael Tomasky.

"Clinics that provide abortions or refer patients to places that do would lose federal funding under a new Trump administration rule..."

The NYT reports.
The policy would be a return to one instituted in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan that required abortion services to have a “physical separation” and “separate personnel” from other family planning activities. That policy is often described as a domestic gag rule because it barred caregivers at facilities that received family planning funds from providing any information to patients about an abortion or where to receive one....

The policy could prompt legal challenges, as it did soon after the Reagan administration adopted it. Planned Parenthood and other groups filed lawsuits that blocked the rules, and while the Supreme Court decided in 1991 that they could move forward, they were never fully carried out. President Bill Clinton rescinded the policy in 1994.

Living in The North.

It's going all the way up to 75° today, so we've got all the windows open to maximize the chill and fortify us against the coming heat. Right now — and I'm typing in front of 2 big windows — it's 54°.

Of all places to search for food, why would you go to the desert?

Here's a headline I misread: "Empty stomachs drive Venezuela soldiers to desert in droves" (Yahoo).

This is what Language Log refers to as a "crash blossom." Here's a good NYT column explaining the term:
In their quest for concision, writers of newspaper headlines are... inveterate sweepers away of little words, and the dust they kick up can lead to some amusing ambiguities. Legendary headlines from years past (some of which verge on the mythical) include “Giant Waves Down Queen Mary’s Funnel,” “MacArthur Flies Back to Front” and “Eighth Army Push Bottles Up Germans.” The Columbia Journalism Review even published two anthologies of ambiguous headlinese in the 1980s, with the classic titles “Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim” and “Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge.”

For years, there was no good name for these double-take headlines. Last August, however, one emerged in the Testy Copy Editors online discussion forum. Mike O’Connell, an American editor based in Sapporo, Japan, spotted the headline “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms” and wondered, “What’s a crash blossom?”... Another participant in the forum, Dan Bloom, suggested that “crash blossoms” could be used as a label for such infelicitous headlines that encourage alternate readings, and news of the neologism quickly spread....

One of my favorite crash blossoms is this gem from the Associated Press, first noted by the Yale linguistics professor Stephen R. Anderson last September: “McDonald’s Fries the Holy Grail for Potato Farmers.” If you take “fries” as a verb instead of a noun, you’re left wondering why a fast-food chain is cooking up sacred vessels. Or consider this headline, spotted earlier this month by Rick Rubenstein on the Total Telecom Web site: “Google Fans Phone Expectations by Scheduling Android Event.” Here, if you read “fans” as a plural noun, then you might think “phone” is a verb, and you’ve been led down a path where Google devotees are calling in their hopes.

Nouns that can be misconstrued as verbs and vice versa are, in fact, the hallmarks of the crash blossom. Take this headline, often attributed to The Guardian: “British Left Waffles on Falklands.”....

I wasn't going to participate in the Yanny/Laurel thing...

... although I have been reading about it. (Here's the NYT, "Laurel or Yanny? What We Heard From the Experts," and here's the original Reddit post.)

I mean I wasn't in a position to blog about it when it was relatively new and it so quickly got Harry-and-Meghan old that I didn't see any value to my chiming in. Does it help anyone to know that I hear "Yanny"?

But the White House response is truly funny:

And — less funny and a bit arcane — I read the EW recap of the TV show "Survivor," and there's a contestant this season whose name happens to be Laurel. In this week's recap, there's this description of a puzzle-solving challenge in which Laurel narrowly edged out another contestant, Wendell, because, though he finished first, she yelled "Jeff!" first (Jeff being Jeff Probst, the show's host, who has to come over and check that the puzzle is in fact correctly solved). The recap goes like this:
The contestants were in the middle of an immunity challenge that ended in a slide puzzle, and the first person to finish it would win immunity — or so we thought.

Wendell went into this portion of the challenge with a huge lead. Yanny was the third person to start on the puzzle, but she had the advantage of having worked on it before at the opening marooning challenge. (By the way, not a fan of recycling the same puzzle twice in one season. Not sure the thinking behind that one.) After sliding back and forth like we wanted to cha-cha real smooth, Wendell appeared to have the puzzle solved. He paused, looked it over, and extended his arms to the side.

Then, out of nowhere, Yanny yelled “Jeff!” He came over, looked at her puzzle and called her the winner. But was she?

“I guess I had to scream your name,” protested Wendell mildly.

“What? Did you call me?” asked Probst.

“I didn’t call you,” admitted Wendell.

“Well, you gotta call it,” said Probst. “Wendell, you understand, right? Because a puzzle’s not done until you tell me.”

At this point, Yanny entered the fray, explaining that she also had it and could have called it earlier as well....
That is, the recapper, with no explanation, just started calling Laurel "Yanny."

If you're interested in the "Survivor" rules question, here's "Survivor: Jeff Probst addresses Wendell–Laurel challenge controversy":
Nothing like this has ever happened before. It was bizarre. I think Wendell was half-checking his puzzle and half-dazed. Truthfully, I didn’t even know he had it because there was no sign from him at all. It was only seeing it back in editing later that I could clearly see he had it finished before Laurel. But we are deep into this game, and cognitive function is in rare supply, and I honestly think Wendell just had a slight lapse. What impressed me most was how both Wendell and Laurel handled it. Laurel obviously took the necklace, but she was aware it was a tricky situation. And Wendell just handled it straight up. He didn’t complain at all. He was frustrated, but he owned it as his mistake.
The "typo" tag refers to the big punchline at the end of the White House video.

May 17, 2018

At the Bear/Badger Café...


... enjoy the warmth.

And consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon. Me, I just used Amazon to buy a new clothes dryer. It took me about 5 minutes today to pick one and to click the buttons that set up the delivery and installation that will happen on Monday. What pleasant ease! So boring to go to an appliance store to buy something like that and to schedule and wait for the installation. The last clothes dryer I bought worked for more than 30 years. The Social Security Actuarial Table gives me a life expectancy of 19 more years, so presumably I'll never have to buy another clothes dryer.

The Bucky Badger sculpture is one of many in Madison this summer. That one, near Picnic Point, was painted by Angelica Contreras.

Haspel confirmed.

"Two Republican no votes — and opposition from Senator John McCain of Arizona, the victim of torture in Vietnam who was not present for the vote — were more than offset by Democrats, most of whom represent states that Mr. Trump won in 2016," the NYT reports.

One of the most impressive female firsts in American history.

"The man admitted he had found the wine amusing upon purchasing it. But he said he had lost interest and described himself now as 'rather left-wing orientated.'"

"An Austrian man has been locked up for glorifying Nazism after cops found multiple bottles of Hitler-branded wine at his home," The Mirror reports. He bought the wine in Italy:
On the Italian side of the Brenner Pass linking the country to Austria, where Hitler and Mussolini met three times in the 1940s, fascist 'souvenirs' are still widely sold. But they are forbidden across the border in Austria. One souvenir shop owner claimed "it was mainly youngsters" buying such items, saying "there is a huge demand" for wines with the labels of Mussolini, Hitler and other fascists and Nazis.

The worst place to be.

"A Boring Presidential Nominee? Bring It, Democrats."

Writes Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg, reacting to the FiveThirtyEight "fantasy draft"...
Of the 24 candidates they drafted, somewhere between a quarter and half of the selections are basically nontraditional candidates. The theory seems to be: Now that President Donald Trump has proved it can be done, we should expect total outsiders and politicians without conventional credentials to win a fairly large share of future nominations.
Bernstein's not having it. He gestures wanly at Amy Klobuchar, John Hickenlooper, Martin O’Malley, Terry McAuliffe, Chris Murphy, and Jeff Merkley.

That reminds me. I have a tag, "I'm for Boring," which I introduced early in the 2016 campaign process. The first post with this tag came in July 2014:
I'm sick of inspiration and claims of historiosity. We should all be perfectly jaded by now. Inoculated. It's healthful and wholesome. And so what if watching the campaign day by day is "a boring, grinding affair"? That's a problem for [Buzzfeed's Ben] Smith, running his buzz-dependent website, [fretting about how Hillary Clinton "hasn’t unlocked the only thing that could really turn a campaign into a movement... authentic excitement among American women at her historic candidacy"], but it's a nonproblem for the rest of us. Think of the time you can save not reading the websites that try to make something out of the presidential campaign every damned day. What will you do with all that time? Instead of thinking about how what happened in the last hour might be history, you could, for example, read history. May I recommend the Amity Shlaes biography of Calvin Coolidge?

Coolidge was boring. Good boring. Let's be boring for a change.

I want a boring President. Stop trying to excite me.
Perhaps if Clinton hadn't tried to excite us, America wouldn't have opted for the insanely exciting Donald Trump. I do think an outright, openly boring person would be the best foil for Trump. But we saw how he took down "Low Energy Jeb," so....

"What do you say to a four-year-old white supremacist?"

"A child’s uncensored racist commentary is a harsh reminder that while society has moved forward, the book on discrimination isn’t closed yet" (The Guardian):
It was Friday night, 22 February 2015. My friend Nuha (a Sudanese American) and I (an Egyptian American) walked into a restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi. Both of us are different shades of non-white. The scene could have taken place anywhere in America.

The waitress seated us at the corner of the hibachi table, next to a white man who appeared to be in his mid-30s and his two young sons. As I reached to pull my chair away from the table, the youngest boy, the one sitting adjacent to my seat, looked at me and said: “White skin don’t marry brown skin, but it’s OK, you can sit here anyway.”...

Nuha asked the boy: “Who taught you that brown skin and white skin don’t marry?” The little boy looked confused, as though we had asked an unnecessary question. He then timidly looked to his right and slowly lifted his finger, pointing at his father.

“You did, Dad!”

He stuttered. “N-no, no I didn’t. I never taught you that. Maybe it was your mom, but I didn’t teach you that.”...

"Sleep, little one/If you don’t sleep/The crab will eat you."

From "18 Dark And Disturbing Lullabies From Around The World" (HuffPo).

"If so, this is bigger than Watergate!"

ADDED: Here's the Andrew McCarthy article, "Did the FBI Have a Spy in the Trump Campaign?" — published 5 days ago.

"Counterintelligence investigations can take years, but if the Russian government had influence over the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. wanted to know quickly."

"One option was the most direct: interview the campaign officials about their Russian contacts. That was discussed but not acted on, two former officials said, because interviewing witnesses or subpoenaing documents might thrust the investigation into public view, exactly what F.B.I. officials were trying to avoid during the heat of the presidential race. 'You do not take actions that will unnecessarily impact an election,' Sally Q. Yates, the former deputy attorney general, said in an interview. She would not discuss details, but added, 'Folks were very careful to make sure that actions that were being taken in connection with that investigation did not become public.'"

From "Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation" (NYT). There's much more to this article, which I'm still trying to digest. My confidence in the NYT is undermined by this correction: "An earlier version of this article misstated that news organizations did not report on the findings of the retired British spy Christopher Steele about links between Trump campaign officials and Russia. While most news organizations whose reporters met with Mr. Steele did not publish such reports before the 2016 election, Mother Jones magazine did." You got an easily checkable, important fact plainly wrong. How can we trust your reporting?

ADDED: At WaPo, Erik Wemple has "New York Times acknowledges it buried the lead in pre-election Russia-Trump story":
In a massive article Wednesday on the FBI’s 2016 snooping into the possible nexus between Russians and the Trump presidential campaign, reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos include these two paragraphs:
In late October, in response to questions from The Times, law enforcement officials acknowledged the investigation but urged restraint. They said they had scrutinized some of Mr. Trump’s advisers but had found no proof of any involvement with Russian hacking. The resulting article, on Oct. 31, reflected that caution and said that agents had uncovered no “conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.
That’s one heck of a concession: We buried the lead! In their book “Russian Roulette,” authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn report that editors at the New York Times “cast the absence of a conclusion as the article’s central theme rather than the fact of the investigation itself,” contrary to the wishes of the reporters....
AND: "10 Key Takeaways From The New York Times’ Error-Ridden Defense Of FBI Spying On Trump Campaign" by Mollie Hemingway (The Federalist).
ALSO: From the Hemingway article:
[T]he admissions in this New York Times story are coming out now, years after selective leaks to compliant reporters, just before an inspector general report detailing some of these actions is slated to be released this month. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that people mentioned in the report are beginning to get previews of what it alleges. It’s reasonable to assume that much of the new information in the New York Times report relates to information that will be coming out in the inspector general report.

By working with friendly reporters, these leaking FBI officials can ensure the first story about their unprecedented spying on political opponents will downplay that spying and even attempt to justify it. Of note is the story’s claim that very few people even knew about the spying on the Trump campaign in 2016, which means the leakers for this story come from a relatively small pool of people.