April 22, 2017

Fuzzy, purple.


"What has happened over the last 10 years, Newton has got more affluent, more two-family houses, not as many people do their own lawn care, and more and more landscapers coming into neighborhoods."

"It’s not just one landscaper, once a week. It’s one comes, then it’s 20 minutes later another one."

Banning leaf-blowers in Newton, Massachusetts. It was hard — harder than raising taxes — but they did it.

I wish they'd do it here in Madison.

"I intend to return Berkeley to its rightful place as the home of free speech — whether university administrators and violent far-left antifa thugs like it or not."

"I will bring activists, writers, artists, politicians, YouTubers, veterans and drag queens from across the ideological spectrum to lecture, march and party."

Says Milo Yiannopoulos (and he won't say who's inviting him or backing him).

At the Daffodil Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"So the guy in charge of 'Greek' life on campus is worried about cultural appropriation?"

My favorite comment on a WaPo column (by Catherine Rampell) titled "A fraternity was told it was ‘appropriating culture.’/Administrators won’t say which."

I think it's actually pretty clear what the appropriation was. The fraternity was doing a badminton-based fundraiser and it called it "Bad(minton) and Boujee." There's a rap song "Bad and Boujee" and "boujee" is a distinctive spelling of the shortened form of "bourgeois" that's used as an insult and more commonly spelled — if anybody tries to write it — "bougie." The spelling "boujee" is actually good because it's phonetic and it keeps people from pronouncing it "boogie," which actually is a racial slur!

Here's the OED entry for the noun "boogie":
U.S. slang. offensive.

A derogatory term for an African American.

1923 Confessions of Bank Burglar vii. 40 Three coons came into the barn..the three of them took a drink and then put the bottle in the hay... At noon the ‘boogies’ came in for another shot.
1925 Flynn's 1 Aug. 572/1 One of the cops..caught two boogies. We picked up the two hard-lookin' young negroes.
1925 Flynn's 1 Aug. 572/1 The boogie jus' got up and grinned.
1937 E. Hemingway To have & have Not iii. xiv. 205, I seen that big boogie there mopping it up.
Anyway, the spelling "boujee" is associated with black people, especially when used in connection with the rap song title. Here's the video of the song. Once you've watched that, you'll have to stoop to faux naivety to act like you don't know what the university was talking about. It's a separate question whether cultural appropriation is bad and whether it's something universities should patrol and how clearly they need to speak when they do.

Anyway, I'm just getting up to speed on the word "boujee," and I found a helpful blog post by Damon Young at Very Smart Brothas, "THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOUGIE, BOUJEE, AND BOURGIE/BOURGEOIS, EXPLAINED." Excerpt:
Bougie Black people are mostly urban, have completed some form of secondary education, and, most importantly, possess and are mindful of a certain urban/educated aesthetic. These are the people discussed and deconstructed in my Shit Bougie Black People Love series....

Anyway, Boujee describes the type of nouveau/hood rich that would totally, definitely cook up some dope with an Uzi.* They may have even made more money last year than their Bougie and Bourgie/Bourgeois counterparts, but the IRS would never, ever, ever know.


* That's a reference to the lyrics to the song "Bad and Boujee": "My bitch is bad and boujee/Cookin' up dope with an Uzi."

ADDED: The word pronounced boujee or bougie seems to have originated in speaking about black people. The first printed examples — according to the (unlinkable) OED — were spelled "bourgie" (showing the connection to the word "bourgeois" more clearly). The OED defines this word as "slang (chiefly U.S., orig. in African-American usage). Chiefly depreciative... A person, esp. an African-American, regarded as bourgeois or middle-class, or as exhibiting characteristics attributed to the middle class, such as conventionality, materialism, or pretentiousness." Example:
1968 Negro Digest Nov. 64/2 Instead of recognizing differences among members but valuing the common cause, individuals will begin to call some people ‘Uncle Toms’, ‘bourgeois’ or ‘bourgies’, conservatives, foot-shufflers, black Caucasians and a variety of other uncomplimentary names.
It was also an adjective, again, "Originally used chiefly of and by African Americans." Example:
1968 Ramparts 26 Oct. 29/1 Silly-ass Kenneth Freeman..said some bull crap about ‘Huey P. Newton come from a bourgie family.’

The problem with mocking McDonald's "soul-crushing uniforms for our modern dystopia."

AV Club is snarking about the new gray-on-gray outfits:
The new looks will be distributed to all 14,000 of its U.S. locations beginning this month, their total elimination of distracting colors facilitating the orderly consumption of beef discs and potato sticks by an estimated factor of 40 percent, under the watchful eye of Commander McCheese.

Still, lest you think their monochromatic drabness somehow runs counter to the notion of that all-important individuality, McDonald’s points out that its uniforms also include a denim apron that “may be worn full or as a half apron to fit restaurant employees’ personal style.” Personally, I don’t know that I would trust some insouciant, half-apron rebel to hand me a Serenity Meal. But leaving that up to the manager’s discretion is what makes McDonald’s the industry leader in acknowledging that free will has not yet been totally eradicated.
And I'm seeing this at Gizmodo (with photos):
To me, [the new uniforms] invoke a very Logan’s Run future. But mandatory gray-on-gray with a dash of black is pretty much universally recognized as the standard uniform for bleakest of futures... Or, if you prefer, maybe it’s a bit more Hunger Games... Or if you want something even more recent, how about Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale?
Here's my problem. They are not thinking from the perspective of the the people who work at McDonald's. They're talking about how they feel as customers who are used to seeing McDonald's workers in garish colors that scream I work at McDonald's. I think it's obvious from the company's press release that they are trying to be more respectful to the employees, who feel conspicuous or embarrassed when traveling to and from work and who want to blend in with other people who work at other kinds of jobs. The respect — expressed through restrained gray-on-gray uniforms — is not soul-crushing except in the mind of the people who are not wearing those uniforms.

AV Club surrounds quotes from the press release with efforts at humor that in fact reveal its I don't work at McDonald's snobbery:
“Individuality is important to McDonald’s restaurant employees,” McDonald’s says in a press release, charitably recognizing that many of its workers are separate entities from their stations, some even boasting identities and interests that go well beyond operating deep fryers. As such, the company partnered with designer Waraire Boswell to create these fun, flirty, uniquely gray-on-gray uniforms that can provide an “easy transition from the restaurant to a social environment,” where they may engage with their fellow civilians in more casual discussions of deep-frying techniques.
It's AV Club that is failing to see the humanity of the employees. The phrase "easy transition from the restaurant to a social environment" implies that the company knew that the garish orange uniforms made it difficult for employees as they commuted to and from work, perhaps picking up and dropping off their children or doing errands or wanting to do things with friends before getting home and changing into street clothes. The new uniforms are more like ordinary clothes and they make it possible for restaurant workers to blend in with other people. That only translates to "soul-crushing" to people who feel sure they won't have to work in a fast-food restaurant.

The new gray-on-gray uniforms are actually sensitive to the well-being of McDonald's employees.
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Donald Trump Jr. shoots dogs — prairie dogs.

He's going to Montana to help Greg Gianforte with his campaign for the U.S. House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke (the new Secretary of the Interior). Gianforte is reveling in the the occasion:
"As good Montanans, we want to show good hospitality to people. What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents?"
That's quoted at Yahoo News, where the headline says there's "backlash." Backlash at taking out plague-ridden vermin? Who is backlashing?
[P]rairie dogs are also listed as a species of concern by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks because their numbers have declined and because of threats like disease.
They carry disease. The disease is bubonic plague! Isn't this a concern that supports culling them?
More than 100 other animals depend on the prairie dog as food or move into the burrows they dig, said Lindsey Sterling Krank, the organization's director for its Prairie Dog Coalition. Now is the time year when prairie dogs are still nursing their new offspring, meaning hunters who shoot lactating females are condemning the pups to starvation, Sterling Krank said.

"I would love to take Donald Trump Jr. out with a spotting scope and shoot the prairie dog with our cameras," Sterling Krank said. "Shooting a prairie dog colony is not a good conservation message."

Gianforte, whose campaign has focused on gun rights, dismissed the organization's concerns. "Clearly they've never shot a prairie dog," he said. "They don't know how much fun it is."
The lines are drawn. Montanans will vote and get the Congressperson they want. I'll just say I love the name Lindsey Sterling Krank. Oh! I see I've said that before...
... the director of the Prairie Dog Coalition, an "environmental scientist," with the sublimely perfect name Lindsey Sterling Krank....
That was back in 2015, in the context of Boulder, Colorado's Naropa University, which had a big prairie dog colony on land where it wanted to put up some new buildings.
"All of sudden it was, 'The Buddhists want to kill the prairie dogs,' but we had no intention of killing them," said [Naropa spokesman Bill] Rigler, who isn't a Buddhist. "The very act of applying for a [lethal control] permit triggers an open comment period, which gives everyone the opportunity to say, 'I have a site for relocation,' or put forward other ideas."
I wonder how that dispute worked out? Did the Buddhists give in to the dogs?

"Animals have no place in art."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote to the artist who sat — for 23 days in a Paris art museum — on a nest of chicken eggs until they hatched.
"There is nothing to celebrate in the birth of this chick born alone in a museum," the organisation said in an open letter to the artist. Considered merely as a part of an 'artistic' performance, it will never meet its mother. ...."
What do you think of PETA's criticism of the "human hen" artist?
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"Here’s the deal breaker with the Republican Party. And the deal breaker is, 'You mess with my community... you don’t give us equality and a fair shot, I’m coming after you.'”

Said Caitlyn Jenner.

When dead columnists tell state governors which prisoners Jesus would pardon and a governor follows the prodding from beyond the grave...

Is there outrage at a flyover state's governor's embarrassing delusion, inability to maintain the separation of church and state, and outrageous approach to doling out special treatment to prisoners?

No! Because it's not a flyover state. It's New York. It's Governor Andrew Cuomo. And the prisoner was part of a famous incident in the history of American radicalism.

I'm reading — in the NYT — "Judith Clark, Getaway Driver in Deadly Brink’s Heist, Is Denied Parole/The decision came despite a commutation by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for Ms. Clark, 67, who was convicted in a 1981 crime in which a guard and two police officers died."

Here are paragraphs 2 and 4:
Speaking at the funeral of the former Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin in March, he went further.

“It was a hard political decision,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I could hear Jimmy’s voice saying, ‘She made a mistake — we all do. She learned, she paid the price, she spent her life in a cage, and she is now different. Jesus would pardon her. Who the hell made you better than Jesus?’”
Cuomo had the power to order her immediate release, but chose a lesser exercise of power, which only made her eligible for parole and left it to the parole board to decide whether she'd get out.

Was Jimmy that specific about how Jesus would handle the case? Was Jesus?

The linked article includes a recent snapshot — supplied by Clark's daughter — of Clark posing — I'm not kidding — with 2 Labrador Retrievers.

From the article's description of the murders:
[In a 2012 interview, Clark] said that as a new mother, she was nervous about the plot, but she agreed to be the getaway driver, fully aware of what she was doing. As she sat in a car in a parking lot of a mall in Nanuet, her associates approached the Brink’s van. Gunfire erupted. One guard was killed; another was left in a pool of blood.
"Gunfire erupted" is a classic hiding of human agency. And then one guard "was killed" and another guard "was left." The dead guard was Peter Paige.

Later, the fleeing group encounters a roadblock and kills 2 police officers, Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown.
At the time of her trial, Ms. Clark was still inflamed by her beliefs, and she represented herself. She expressed no remorse, telling the jury that revolutionary violence was a “liberating force.”
The daughter — the one who supplied the photo with the dogs and who was the baby who made her mother nervous about joining the "liberating force" — is quoted saying "My mother did not kill anyone, and it’s hard for me to understand who is served by making her die in prison, which is what decisions like this eventually amount to."

April 21, 2017

"Ann Coulter rejected an offer to speak at the University of California at Berkeley on a new date..."

"... after the university canceled her event because of safety concerns, then quickly reversed itself, saying it would reschedule her speech," WaPo reports.
In a series of tweets Thursday night, Coulter criticized the university, saying Berkeley officials were adding “burdensome” conditions to her speech. She said she had already spent money to hold the event on April 27 and was not available to appear May 2. She also pointed out that the later date would coincide with a reading period before final exams, when there are no classes on campus and fewer students are around. Instead, she vowed to speak in Berkeley on April 27 whether the university approves or not.
Berkeley is making a fool of itself. I laughed out loud when I heard the spokesperson on TV:
University spokesman Dan Mogulof responded to the lawsuit threat, saying, “We are confident that we are on very solid legal grounds.... We are concerned about her disregard for the assessment and recommendations of law enforcement professionals whose primary focus is the safety and well-being of our students and other members of our campus community"... 
Pathetic. At best, "confident that we are on very solid legal grounds" is a bald-faced lie.

"We’re told by many wise and well-meaning people that it is a huge and even fatal mistake for liberals (and for constitutional conservatives) to respond negatively to every Trump initiative, every Trump policy, and every Trump idea."

Adam Gopnik considers the possibility that Trump Derangement Syndrome "is a thing" and that perhaps he's got it and should do something about it.

"I am beginning to wonder if it isn't blackness that Dolezal doesn't understand, but whiteness."

Because growing up poor, on a family farm in Montana, being homeschooled by fundamentalist Christian parents sounds whiter than this 'silver spoon' whiteness she claims to be rejecting."

Lake Mendota, today, early afternoon.


The French election is, apparently, about Trump... because everything is.

"Now, with the French election starting this weekend, Mr. Trump faces the biggest test yet of whether nationalist and nativist ideas like his appeal to voters elsewhere in the Western world."

"The trustees of Columbia wrote a $2.5 million check to the faculty and said, 'Figure this out. What's going on with sex and the sex lives of students?'"

"My life over the past two years has been thinking about college students and sex, and it's both really boring and really disturbing in sort of twin ways."

At the I-Took-Notes Café...


... I took note.

(Maybe you need to buy a notebook and a fountain pen. If so, please use my Amazon portal.)

"How many folks, I wonder, who have engaged in the Tiny House Movement have ever actually lived in a tiny, mobile place?"

"Because what those who can afford homes call 'living light,' poor folks call 'gratitude for what we’ve got.'"
And it’s not just the Tiny House Movement that incites my discontent. From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor-household staples, it’s become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle — and it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.
Is this discontent necessary? When there's something you have no choice about, and somebody else who has a choice chooses that, why would you feel worse about it? I can see being envious that somebody else had a choice, but if they chose the thing you're stuck with, wouldn't that give you a fresh, positive perspective on how good that thing is? And if it doesn't, aren't you the one who needs a better attitude?

Let's try to think of examples other than living in a small house (something some people are compelled to do because they can't afford larger). These are not all exact analogies, but I want to explore the general area that the author of the linked essay (July Westhale) calls "poverty appropriation." I think she's describing something that's a subcategory of what I'm going to call envy shortcircuiting.

1. X is disabled and cannot walk and sees her neighbor Y choosing to sit at every possible opportunity.

2. X is diabetic and her doctor has forbidden her to eat anything with added sugar. She's having dinner with Y who doesn't order dessert because she just doesn't like sweets.

3. X lives in a sleepy midwestern town. Y — who had several job offers in different places — chose to move to this town.

4. X is a member of a religious group that requires him to wear black clothing. He knows this other guy who has no obligation to wear black but adopted an all-black wardrobe to make shopping and getting dressed in the morning more efficient.

5. X was a poor student in high school and couldn't get into college, so he found a job working in construction. One of his co-workers is Y, a guy he went to high school with who had excellent grades and went to a good college and graduated. X asked Y, "What are you doing working here?" And Y said: "I like to work outdoors. I like to make things."

"The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period."

"It's not just the number of friends you have, and it's not whether or not you're in a committed relationship. It's the quality of your close relationships that matters."

"The price of a can of soda in a vending machine can now vary with the temperature outside."

"The price of the headphones Google recommends may depend on how budget-conscious your web history shows you to be, one study found. For shoppers, that means price — not the one offered to you right now, but the one offered to you 20 minutes from now, or the one offered to me, or to your neighbor — may become an increasingly unknowable thing."

I want to call this New Yorker article a puff piece... but it's about marijuana edibles.

But I really do think there's a sad lack of critical edge in this thing, "The Martha Stewart of Marijuana Edibles," by By Lizzie Widdicombe. Excerpt:
Ricardo Baca, the founding editor of the Cannabist, told me, “Laurie [Wolf] represents a voice in the food-and-cannabis space that can be trusted.” Her columns are full of global ingredients and lush food photography meant to attract what she calls “the CB2 and West Elm crowd.” Her books would not seem out of place on the shelf next to the latest tome from the Barefoot Contessa or Yotam Ottolenghi. Evan Senn, the editor of the California-based cannabis magazine Culture, told me that, increasingly, foodies are the target audience for pot. “I love to drink wine, and I’m kind of a snob about it,” she said. “I’m not going to drink Franzia out of a cardboard box. I’m going to buy a nice bottle of Pinot Noir and aerate it and enjoy it. I have the same approach to edibles.”
But there's one big difference: Cannabis doesn't taste good. All the recipes are about disguising the flavor and smell. (Many are also impaired by the need to avoid deactivating the ingredient by getting it too hot.)

I read The New Yorker a lot, and this is one of the articles that make me think the magazine isn't for people like me — people who want more raw intelligence and edge — but for people who really want to be shown how to happily enjoy a bourgeois lifestyle. These are the people for whom Laurie Wolf manufactures "gourmet" marijuana foods. I wish I could feel that Widdicombe wrote "marijuana-free chicken Marbella and couscous, paired with infused sides and appetizers" with some comic intent, but I don't think she did.

But she does let it show that the food-prep problem here is that you're trying to force in an ingredient that you actually don't want there for any food-related purpose:
Wolf pulled a Mason jar of infused olive oil from a shelf and encouraged me to smell it. It had a powerfully green scent. “Olive oil infuses beautifully,” she said. “It’s very earthy.” A jar of infused canola oil, on the other hand, smelled like bong water. Wolf had used the infused olive oil to make the stuffed mushrooms as well as a spinach tart. Those who wanted even more weed could slather their food with an infused feta sauce made with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and red onion. “Strong flavors help conceal the taste,” Wolf said. “It is a challenge to keep the foods from tasting like cannabis. That’s probably the hardest thing about making edibles.” Dessert was a “mildly infused” strawberry trifle in a big glass bowl. For palate cleansers, there were frozen grapes—an old standby for Wolf. “They’re wonderful when people get stoned,” she explained.
A guest shows up who claims to be "not really an eater," which I found funny, even though I can't tell if that person just meant she doesn't use eating as her method of getting cannabis into her body or whether it's a more general way of life, a kind of euphemism for anorexia. I thought it was funny because I assumed the latter, but now I think it's the former. The woman goes on to say "Joints, vape pens. I like the patch a lot."

People want cannabis for the feeling it gives them, and they can get it various ways that don't require eating it, so if it tastes bad, why put it in food?! I think the answer is right there in that "Martha Stewart" idea, that vision of The New Yorker that puts me off. There are people — probably mostly women — who want to think they of themselves as appreciating the finer pleasures of life, and maybe that desire is heightened when they approach a psychoactive substance. They don't want the stark confrontation with getting high — they're not that kind of girl — but need to see themselves as involved in something more complex and tasteful.

"I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."

Said Jeff Sessions, quoted in The Washington Post in "Jeff Sessions doesn’t think a judge in Hawaii — a.k.a. ‘an island in the Pacific’ — should overrule Trump." The piece is by Aaron Blake, who has "a few problems":

1. "Hawaii is a state...."

2. "[T]he judge isn't a Hawaiian judge, per se" — he's a federal judge. (But "federal" isn't a place. The federal district courts are in particular places, and this one is in Hawaii, and the judge, Derrick Kahala Watson, happens to have been born in Hawaii, like the President who appointed him, even though he's been off the island and even gone to Harvard Law School, like the President who appointed him.)

3. "Hawaii does have major ports of entry, with international travelers arriving regularly."

What do you think of the "a judge sitting on an island" remark? (Multiple answers allowed.)
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"Every sculpture needs space. That is the nature of sculpture. If you put something else there, it changes it."

"Fearless Girl" is “cute,” but “you don’t stand up for women’s rights at the expense of the artist’s rights. Each right is equally important. I am saying this as a woman.”

Said Gabriel Koren, an artist who made a statue of Frederick Douglass that is situated in Central Park, looking into Harlem. What if a second statute — a figure reacting to Frederick Douglass — were put close to it? Should Koren have final say about whether the second statue can be there? I'd say no, but I think she has moral power to influence the decision, and I think that would be enough to preserve the space around Frederick Douglas.

But that's in part because it's Frederick Douglass...

.... not a charging bull. There's a debate to be had about whether things should be put near other things, but the first thing to go up shouldn't become a tyrant. Sometimes putting things together makes a dialogue that benefits the people, who, after all, have our space cluttered by all sorts of art and art-like junk. And sometimes the first thing that goes up is kind of bad or an incomplete statement, and continuing the "conversation" with something else is an improvement.

Considering the urge to take down statues that don't say what the public wants said, we ought to keep open the option of putting up another sculpture nearby and changing the meaning. For example, in New Orleans:
Statues of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are targeted for removal in New Orleans, after a federal appeals court approved the city's plan to change how it treats symbols of its history. Opponents of the move vow to keep fighting it in court....

In addition to the statue of Lee, [Mayor Mitch] Landrieu and other city officials want to take down a statue honoring Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and a monument to the paramilitary White League, which launched a Reconstruction-era rebellion against the integrated Metropolitan New Orleans Police Force....

"White House officials said Mr. Trump took a personal interest in her case.... 'He just said, "Let’s bring her home."'"

From the NYT report, "American Aid Worker, Release Secured by Trump Officials, Leaves Egypt."

This article, new today, appears in the print edition not on the front page, but on page 10. On the home page of the web edition, it's hard to find. I did a search for the woman's name and found nothing, then for "Egypt," and found the headline tucked away... do you see it?

It's not under "World" or "U.S." but "Politics" — politics? — sandwiched between "Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss" and "Jeff Sessions Dismisses Hawaii as ‘an Island in the Pacific.’"

By contrast, the Washington Post home page has the story at the top of the home page, with the woman's name, Aya Hijazi, in clear print:

The visual effect is a triad of bold females challenging the powers that be: 1. There's "Aya Hijazi, a charity worker... incarcerated without trial on charges that were widely derided." 2. There's that "Fearless Girl" sculpture we've been talking about. (It's not a new story, so it seems especially conscious to put the story front and center today. (The article has an interesting feminist angle: The male artist expresses pain that his bull — against his original intent — has become a symbol of male chauvinism.)) 3. There's Marie Le Pen, boosted by the latest Paris terrorist attack.

It's hard — isn't it? — for the liberal media to give President Trump credit for anything, but they should gracefully give him the credit he genuinely deserves. Imagine what the NYT would look like if President Obama had brought Aya Hijazi home! Trump was portrayed in a negative light for cozying up to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, but the Obama administration tried and failed to bring Hijazi home. From WaPo:
It was not until Trump moved to reset U.S. relations with Egypt by embracing Sissi at the White House on April 3 — he publicly hailed the autocrat’s leadership as “fantastic” and offered the U.S. government’s “strong backing” — that Egypt’s posture changed. Last Sunday, a court in Cairo dropped all charges against Hijazi and the others.
Let's talk about which is better, Obama's words or Trump's words? Do Trump's words seem ridiculous and clownish — calling Sissi "fantastic" — when we see that Trump got results?

WaPo prods us to think of the Trump administration in terms of "confusion" (it's the old "chaos" template, that alternates with "evil" in the elite media's coverage of Trump):
What the White House plans to celebrate as vindication of its early diplomacy comes at the end of a week in which the administration has combated charges of foreign policy confusion. Although the president received wide praise for his decision to punish Syria for its presumed chemical weapons attack with a barrage of cruise missiles, the administration has been criticized for contradictions over policy toward Syria and Turkey, and misstatements on the U.S. response to North Korea’s weapons activity.
Successful action is camouflaged in verbiage about things that have been said. Some of his words may sound like confusion, but that doesn't mean Trump is confused about what he is saying. Maybe he knows how to use words. There's an awful lot of evidence that he does. You can look down on him and call him confused, but when the results come in, you ought to question your analysis of what he is doing with words.

Toward the end of the WaPo article:
The senior Trump administration official said the agreement for Hijazi’s release was the product of Trump’s “discreet diplomacy” — meaning the president’s efforts to cultivate warm relations with strongmen such as Sissi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in part by avoiding public pronouncements on human rights that might alienate the foreign governments.
Discreet. Consider the notion that Trump is discreet

April 20, 2017

At the Early Garden Café..


... you can talk about whatever you want.


The photos are by Meade.

And please consider supporting this blog through the use of The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Here's a wider view of the garden where Meade found those things. This picture was done by me, standing on the deck.


You can compare it to a picture from about the same place 5 days ago, here.

"Trump and Clinton Swap Sexes in Off-Broadway Play 'Her Opponent.'"

I've blogged about this before — in "Fantastic theater experiment: A male Hillary and a female Trump."
Using text and gestures and tone from the 2016 debates, actors play the 2 candidates, with the gender flipped. The audience is surveyed before and after, and pretty much everyone is stunned to discover that gender bias did not work at all as they thought it did. The male Hillary was rather repulsive, and Trump's approach to communication was quite successful coming from a woman....
We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back.
Here's an article about the theater experiment, which you can see in NYC. The title is "Her Opponent."
The two creators are admittedly liberal and expected the project to reinforce the shock they experienced on election night — “I was struck by the aggressive body language that Trump was using and thought it would never be tolerated by a woman,” recalls [co-creator Maria Guadalupe]of the debates — but found themselves understanding how the outspoken businessman and reality TV star won the presidency. After each performance, [director Joe] Salvatore conducts a discussion with the audience, who generally dislike the male Clinton character’s mansplained fact flood and “all the nodding and smiling that a woman needs to do to be listened to,” says Guadalupe, and favor the female Trump character’s visible passion and clear messaging.
Obviously, Guadalupe is wrong about what a woman "needs to do." It's more like what she thinks she needs to do. The unsmiling, forceful, engaged female Trump has a better effect.  I think the show is evidence that women can be like that. They don't need to tone everything down and try to act pleasing. And maybe they shouldn't. It's phony. Now, Hillary Clinton was her own special version of phony, so you can't just generalize.

There's a clip at my old post. And here's another clip (within an MSNBC program):

Here's a clip showing one rehearsal technique:

I'm so interested in this show! I hope they put the whole thing on line in the end. It is so educational. Such a great perspective on how we experience gender.

"Scientists believe their facts and logic convinced all the smart people to their side already, so now they need a new strategy for the dumb ones."

"A different version of reality, as seen through the Persuasion Filter, is that citizens who don’t understand history are doomed to believe whatever the experts tell them. Half the country has been persuaded to climate alarmism by fear, not an understanding of the issue. At the same time, those who know the most about both history and science realize that complex climate models are generally not credible, so they are not persuaded by fear."

Scott Adams. Obviously. Who else says "Persuasion Filter"?

Frank Bruni talks with Camille Paglia and Andy Cohen.

I haven't watched much of this yet, but somebody prodded me to make this available for commenting. Have at it.

ADDED: At about 22:00, Paglia talks about how only a power-hungry "monomaniac" would run for President, because the campaigns "go on far too long." She says "We need to shorten the period, and this will make it more likely that we'll get women candidates, okay, who are not going to have to go around the country and giving up 2 years of their lives, okay. It's brutal."

This immediately made me think of my blog post from 6 days ago about Elizabeth Warren. Warren has a new book in which she tells of her decision not to run for President in 2016. She wrote that she seriously considered it, but decided against it after a discussion with her husband — the aptly named Mann — who said that campaigning for President "looks pretty terrible" and "a lot worse" than running for Senate. I commented:
And you wonder why we haven't had a woman President.

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

Note: I don't really believe that was her reason. I just don't enjoy bullshit that leverages the stereotype that women won't do work that is too strenuous.
But here's Paglia saying that somehow we ought to soften the ordeal of running for President so women (and non-megalomaniacs) will take it on. Contemplating whether Paglia had read my blog post, I was then floored when her next subject was hormones, because my next subject in that post is hormones. I say:
As long as we're talking about the stereotype about women, let me show you something I've been listening to that's kind of blowing my mind — even though I heard it when it originally aired in 2002 — the recently rebroadcast "Testosterone" episode of "This American Life."...
In the video, Paglia proceeds to say that it's not misogyny that's kept women out of running for President, but "the sheer brutal experience" — "you have to be a fighter or have a very thick skin. Most women seem to personalize, the barrage of negativity...." When Bruni asks if women "have thinner skin," she answers: "You know, hormonally, it's true. I know hormones have been out at the New York Times for many a decade."

(If you're wondering whether Camille Paglia even knows who I am, read "My Dinner with Camille.")

Posing at the White House.

Photo posted at Facebook by Shemane Nugent.

More, from Sarah Palin, here.

I guess Trump must think it's funny to keep that portrait of Hillary hanging there. Lord knows what is said in its vicinity. If that portrait could talk....


TRUMP: That's my line!

ADDED: I'm thinking they keep the portrait hanging crooked to get the same joke started again and again.

NEW GUEST TO THE WHITE HOUSE: You know the portrait is crooked.

TRUMP: A very accurate portrait, yes, I agree.

NEW GUEST #2: I feel the urge to straighten that portrait.

TRUMP: I've never heard of anyone wanting a portrait to be less lifelike.

Anti-Althousiana in the Instapundit comments.

Glenn linked to my "tired of Democratic partisan emotion" post, and it brought out the Althouse haters (and some defenders). Some spicy examples:
Althouse has always been a self-entitled, privileged, upper class woman who likes to preen about her pseudo-victimhood and responsibility while enjoying her life of luxury and lack of consequences.
A defender said: "That is not true. She has never played a victim card. She has always been fair to both sides. She tends to take the other side in a devil's advocate kind of way, to see if people would react in same way if the names/parties were different. You must not read her blog."

Which caused somebody else to say:
You missed the "splooge stooge"* meltdown where she told all of her readers to fuck off and die, closed down comments and stayed drunk for 2 months and pouted. To say that she is emotionally unstable is an understatement. She is an alky on a decades long bender, someone who makes Hillary look sober and steady. The devil's advocate part might be right, if you leave out "advocate"....
Althouse is an Obamavoting cunt. There. It is said. It is out there....

* Here's where I originally wrote "splooge stooge."  It was in the context of saying men are responsible for the children who are born when they have failed to control where their genetic material goes. That was unrelated to shutting down the comments, which I had to do for a time because of a technical problem — later solved by some people at Blogger — that had made moderation next to impossible.

"Gorsuch Looks Poised to Rule That States Must Sometimes Subsidize Churches."

Writes Mark Joseph Stern.

Another way to put that is: The Supreme Court Looks Poised to Rule That Sometimes Not Discriminating Based on Religion Is More Important Than the Strict Separation of Church and State.

ADDED: The cases is about whether Missouri can exclude religious organizations from an otherwise generally available program to distribute recycled tires for surfacing playgrounds. Missouri is taking a strong no-aid-to-religion approach that entails discriminating based on religion.

Amy Howe analyzes the argument at SCOTUSblog:

"Did what Bill supposedly did really amount to a firing offense or were his accusers just looking for money or fame, as O'Reilly himself has implied?"

"Or was it just a political hatchet job by the seemingly endless legions who spend all their waking hours and seemingly most of their sleeping ones doing their best to oppose, discredit, and destroy all things Trump?"

Asks Roger L. Simon.

April 19, 2017

"Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host on Fox News..."

"... the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of multiple settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His ouster brings an abrupt and embarrassing end to his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television," the NYT reports.

ADDED: The NYT takes — and probably deserves — credit:
Mr. O’Reilly’s departure comes two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly even as sexual harassment allegations piled up against him. The Times found that the company and Mr. O’Reilly reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.

At the White Tree Café...


... you can talk about anything.

(And consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. If you're thinking, I just want to buy what Althouse just bought, then you should buy this parasol.)

"Democrats begin to wonder: When do we win?"

"For all the anger, energy, and money swirling at the grassroots level, Democrats didn’t manage to pick off the first two Republican-held congressional seats they contended for in the Trump era, and the prospects aren’t markedly better in the next few House races coming up: the Montana race at the end of May, and the South Carolina contest on June 20...."

Politico channels Democratic emotion. 

I get really tired of Democratic partisan emotion. I'm someone who sometimes votes for Democrats, and I've voted for a lot more Democratic candidates than Republicans over the years, but I have nothing but a negative reaction to all this anger at losing. If they'd won, they'd be exulting and gloating, with no empathy for the other side. Republicans don't act like that. I mean, maybe some Republicans somewhere do, but mostly they're better sports about winning and losing. It makes them look more responsible and more respectful of democracy. Could the Democrats grow up and stop being so offputting... so ossoffputting?

"I’m not going to look foolish for you. I’m not going to gesture in some way that you’re going to capture that’s going to make me look foolish or awkward.”

“I’m not going to be portrayed this way by the left-wing media. I’m not going to let the left-wing media frame me in some way that is going to be damaging to me."

What Michele Bachmann said, as remembered/paraphrased by Chris Buck, the photographer of the 2011 Newsweek cover that came to be known as "Crazy Eyes."

Buck comments:
I was shocked, because one, it’s amazing for someone just to speak their mind so directly, but two, we had really just begun. And I was asking for something pretty standard, you know? Not to say that she has to do everything I say, but there are other ways to deflect or refigure something without directly accusing me and my client of trying to disparage her.
He was — as he tells it — asking her to "relax, and maybe even if you want to gesture a little bit, we can even talk so you can be more relaxed," so he could get something "more animated with more life."

The interview is from 2011, but it's only getting published now, the occasion being a new book of Buck's photographs, "Uneasy: Portraits 1986-2016." (Buck sent me a copy of the book, but I haven't got it yet.)

"I mean, I'm a girl and I like being a girl, but I've just never been into it like they have. I think I get that from my dad."

"I'd say I'm more of a Jenner than a Kardashian... I was a huge tomboy... I had a phase where I wore boys' clothes. I was always hanging out with guys. I've always connected with guys more."

"For awhile, I was seeing a guy who really liked David Foster Wallace. He once forced me to do cocaine..."

"... by shoving it inside me during sex. He wasn’t the first man to recommend Wallace, but he’s the last whose suggestion I pretended to consider. So while I’ve never read a book by Wallace, I’m preemptively uninterested in your opinion about it. These recommendations from men have never inspired me to read Wallace’s magnum opus, Infinite Jest, or his essays, or stories, or even to take the path of least resistance and see the Jason Segel movie about him. Said recommendations have, however, festered over such a long period that they’ve mutated into deeply felt opinions about Wallace himself: namely, that he was an overly self-aware genius who needed a better editor and that I’d hate his writing."

Writes Deirdre Coyle in "Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me."

So that's how books are getting recommended these days.

It's a wonder anybody reads anything anymore. All these hideous men have marked the territory before your arrival, and now there are nothing but pissed on books. Who'd want to pick those things up?

"Retired high school teacher Tom Gilding stands next to an inflated chicken made to resemble President Donald Trump on Tuesday during a protest ahead of Trump's visit to Snap-On in Kenosha."

Man, I love an informative caption.

IN THE COMMENTS: Infinite Monkeys said — correctly — "It looks like a cheap knockoff of the giant Chinese Trump chicken."

"But 'Girls' was a show in which any kind of confident male authority or presence was simply gone, among most of the older characters as well as among the millennial protagonists."

"The show’s four girls had mostly absent fathers (the only involved and caring one came out as gay midway through the show) and few Don Draper-esque bosses to contend with. The toxic bachelors they dated were more pathetic than threatening, and the 'sensitive' guys still more so; even the most intense relationships they formed were semi-pathological. A few men on the show (the oldest of the younger characters, most notably) exhibited moral decency and some sort of idealism, a few were genuinely sinister — but mostly the male sex seemed adrift, permanently boyish, a bundle of hormonal impulses leagues away from any kind of serious and potent manhood.... [T]he male absence felt more like a signifier of masculine failure than feminine empowerment...."

That's Ross Douthat, in his column at the NYT, grinding "Girls" through his NYT-friendly traditionalist conservatism. He even drags in Donald Trump for Times-readers' delectation.
Of course the real-life civilization [the girls] are part of just elected Donald Trump as president, making all those prestige-drama portraits of toxic patriarchy seem quite relevant to our circumstances again, and the travails of life under social liberalism a little less immediately pressing.

"Russian artist Nikita Golubev has been turning other people's unwashed vehicles into works of art."

"Using the name 'ProBoyNick' he has drawn various designs in Moscow for the past two weeks and sharing his work online."

Love it. Best use of Instagram I've ever seen.

Let's go to Newfoundland...

... and see the icebergs.

At some point, the trans-friendly mom gets tired of people inquiring about whether her tomboy daughter is really a transgender boy.

An op-ed in the NYT by Lisa Selin Davis (with a headline that might make you think the woman is defensive and not as pro-transgender is she, in fact, clearly wants to appear).
My daughter... is asked by the pediatrician, by her teachers, by people who have known her for many years, if she feels like, or wants to be called, or wants to be, a boy.

In many ways, this is wonderful: It shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity and transgender issues. It is considerate of adults to ask her — in the beginning.

But when they continue to question her gender identity — and are skeptical of her response — the message they send is that a girl cannot look and act like her and still be a girl....

Let’s be clear: If my daughter does begin to feel that the gender in her mind and the sex of her body don’t match, I will be supportive. I will research puberty blockers and hormones (more than I already have).....
Davis is trying so hard to be politically correct, and everything she writes is so scrupulously polite. But in the process she's shedding light on an important problem: More pliable parents and children are being urged to interpret gender-role fluidity/nonconformity as a condition that needs treatment with medical interventions. 

"Mr. Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit."

"Mr. Hernandez hanged himself utilizing a bed sheet that he attached to his cell window...."
[Aaron] Hernandez was not on a suicide watch because there was no indication he wanted to harm himself. Corrections officers found him when they were doing a regular hourly round in the unit. There are no reports of a suicide note....

"Her heroines have been seen as ‘unlikeable’ – does anybody ever find a male hero ‘unlikeable’?"

"Never! Whether it’s Tony Soprano or Philip Roth’s Zuckerman, or even James Bond, male protagonists are never subjected to such criticism. But when it comes to women – every critic feels that he or she has the right to complain. I once read a 19th Century review in which a cranky male critic said of Jane Eyre, 'I would never hire her as a governess!' This may seem funny to you – it’s certainly absurd, but it happens all the time to women who write. I’ve often wondered how we can change this. In the US, Hillary Clinton was pilloried for being ‘unlikeable’ so we got Donald Trump who, not even three months into his presidency, has historically low approval ratings – yet was he somehow more ‘likable’?"

Erica Jong, riffing on likeability. (The "her" in the post title is Lena Dunham.)

April 18, 2017

"I’m beginning to understand why this beautifully published book went to No. 1 on The Times’s nonfiction best-seller list."

"It’s not that people are suddenly nostalgic for Bush.... The success of 'Portraits of Courage'... testifies to our genuine, bipartisan determination to do it better this time — to support healing in all of its forms, even from the president who most made that healing necessary. It reflects our fascination with how leaders process pain and regret...."

From Jonathan Adler's NYT review of George W. Bush's excellent book of paintings.

Making steppingstones.



ADDED: Musical accompaniment.

I've been avoiding talking about "Shattered" — the new book about Hillary Clinton's failed campaign — because...

... the excerpts I saw were written in such a pulpy, trashy style.
"She had let him down. She had let herself down. She had let her party down. And she had let her country down. Obama’s legacy and her dreams of the Presidency lay shattered at Donald Trump’s feet. This was on her. Reluctantly she rose from her seat and took the phone. ‘Mr President,’ she said softly. ‘I’m sorry.’"
Yeesh. It's like a bad young-adult book.

But the NYT has given “Shattered,” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, the dignity of a Michiko Kakutani review, and I will read that. One significant thing I learn is that Allen and Parnes had some good sources:
Allen and Parnes are the authors of a 2014 book, “H R C,” a largely sympathetic portrait of Clinton’s years as secretary of state, and this book reflects their access to longtime residents of Clinton’s circle. They interviewed more than a hundred sources on background — with the promise that none of the material they gathered would appear before the election — and while it’s clear that some of these people are spinning blame retroactively, many are surprisingly candid about the frustrations they experienced during the campaign.
And there's a lot of blaming of Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook. He relied on "data analytics," he "underestimat[ed] Sanders," he "fail[ed] to put enough organizers on the ground," and — after the primary season ended — he "declined to use pollsters to track voter preferences in the final three weeks of the campaign." Okay. Is that really such a big deal?

Here's Kakutani's last paragraph:
In chronicling these missteps, “Shattered” creates a picture of a shockingly inept campaign hobbled by hubris and unforced errors, and haunted by a sense of self-pity and doom, summed up in one Clinton aide’s mantra throughout the campaign: “We’re not allowed to have nice things.”
There's something bland about this review. It doesn't get at what I want to know which is why the book is taken seriously as something special, something other than a rehash of a lot of stuff we already know. The review seems to offer up exactly the language the authors can use to promote the book. What I want to know is: Why give this book a big lofting?

If I had to sketch out a theory, it would be that the Russians-stole-the-election meme is flagging and something else is needed to support the theory that Trump is not a legitimate President. But what is this collection of details from the story of the Clinton campaign? It strikes me as me as pretty normal — typical of campaigns (even winning ones) — and not the "Titanic-like disaster... epic fail" Kakutani says the book depicts.

I certainly think Clinton was bad, but Trump was also pretty bad in a lot of ways. Personally, I've digested the results. Trump won. I'm not buying the theory that Clinton was epically bad anymore than I think Trump is a monster.

At the Springtime Café...


... you can jump right in.

Talk about whatever you want, and take a moment to think about doing your Amazon shopping through The Althouse Portal.

"Would you like symbolic arrests?"/"If so, where and when?"

Questions from the Berkeley Police Department.

"It pains me to say it, but I am a failed artist. 'Pains me' because nothing in my life..."

"... has given me the boundless psychic bliss of making art for tens of hours at a stretch for a decade in my 20s and 30s, doing it every day and always thinking about it, looking for a voice to fit my own time, imagining scenarios of success and failure, feeling my imagined world and the external one merging in things that I was actually making. Now I live on the other side of the critical screen, and all that language beyond words, all that doctor-shamanism of color, structure, and the mysteries of beauty — is gone. I miss art terribly. I’ve never really talked about my work to anyone. In my writing, I’ve occasionally mentioned bygone times of once being an artist, usually laughingly. Whenever I think of that time, I feel stabs of regret. But once I quit, I quit; I never made art again and never even looked at the work I had made. Until last month...."

So begins "My Life As a Failed Artist" by the art critic Jerry Saltz.

I like the part when he looks at his old work — it's a long series illustrating Dante's "Divine Comedy" —  decides it's "fabulous!," then gets his wife, who's also an art critic, and she looks at the stuff for a long time, and says it's "okay." He's all: “Okay?! What do you mean ‘okay’? I think they’re beautiful. Aren’t they great?”
She turned back to the drawings, looked a little longer, and finally said, “They’re generic. And impersonal. No one would know what these are about. And what’s with the triangles? Are they supposed to be women?” I shot back, “No! They’re Hell!”
There must be at least 10 cleverer ways to answer the question "what’s with the triangles — Are they supposed to be women?" without losing the idea that the triangles were Hell. Why aren't we getting better repartee from Saltz? He's an art critic, he's being self-deprecating, and he quotes Oscar Wilde repeatedly:
Oscar Wilde said, “Without the critical faculty, there is no artistic creation at all.”...

[Wilde] wrote that art that’s too obvious, that we “know too quickly,” that is “too intelligible,” fails. “The one thing not worth looking at is the obvious.”...

Wilde also wrote that “the vague is always repellent.”...
Wilde [wrote] “All bad poetry... springs from genuine feeling … It is with the best intentions that the worst work is done.” ... [H]e also wrote, “Criticism demands infinitely more cultivation than creation does.”

"Since the Easter Egg Roll was revived under Betty Ford, most of the first ladies who have hosted the event wore suits, or at least jackets, suggesting it was a professional commitment."

"Hillary Clinton displayed her penchant for rainbow-colored pantsuits when she was host, resplendent one year in buttercup yellow, another in grass green. When the Obamas were in the White House, they significantly relaxed the rules, the president often going without a tie or jacket, and Michelle Obama most often in pants with a J. Crew T-shirt or cardigan and Converse (one Tracy Reese floral dress excepted). The message was one of a new, more relaxed, modern and active era."

From a NYT style piece explaining why Melania Trump's "classic... Easter dress... was actually something of a break with tradition." It seems as though Melania isn't so much the First Lady as a woman playing the part of First Lady, wearing "costumes for a series titled 'In The White House.'"

Here are a bunch of old photos from White House Egg Rolls of the past. Here's one showing Hillary in a suit that is not a pantsuit:

Here's how the First Lady (Grace Coolidge) looked in 1927:

Was there an Easter Raccoon back then? Actually, that's a Thanksgiving raccoon.

Female academics spend more time on internal "service" work than their male colleagues.

"New study suggests female professors outperform men in terms of service -- to their possible professional detriment."

I object to that word "outperform." I got to that article via Paul Caron's post at Facebook, where I wrote:
Why is spending more time doing something considered "outperforming"? What I noticed over the years before I retired is ever increasing committee work, more meetings, more papers, and people who seemed to think it was a good idea to inflate this kind of work. I don't call this "outperforming." This is like complaining about how women spend more time on housework when their husbands are doing much less, without trying to figure out if the husbands are actually doing 50% of what should be done if things were done competently and efficiently. I don't see why the efficient, no-nonsense people aren't seen as performing better.
From the linked article:
As to righting the imbalance, [Joya Misra, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst] said that it may seem like “women simply need to become more protective of their research time, as men are.” Yet they face “grave consequences if they are not perceived as team players,” she said, while men usually don’t.
Stop "outperforming" in doing internal administrative tasks and start outperforming in your scholarship. You can't do both, and you're competing with people who know that and are protecting their time. Another solution is to recognize that there is a problem and start promoting efficiency, but how do you do that? Maybe Althouse should chair a committee to study efficiency in administrative work. We could put 12 people on that committee and divide it into subcommittees, each working on an aspect of administrative work and spend a year writing a long report developing a proposal for the reduction of administrative work that could be discussed at successive faculty meetings. Sorry I mentioned it. Excuse me while I protect myself.

"Trump actually congratulated Erdogan on the outcome."

"Trump apparently thought it was a good thing that, despite all the flaws in the process, a bare majority of Turkey’s citizens voted to strengthen their populist leader. I don’t think any other post-Cold War president would have congratulated a democratic ally that held a flawed referendum leading to a less democratic outcome. This is not that far off from Trump congratulating Putin on a successful referendum result in Crimea if that event had been held in 2017 rather than 2014."

Writes Dan Drezner.

"This article is an embarrassment to the Post. It's sensationalist fluff, from the picture of a snarling mountain lion and the dime-store novel title through the complete absence of useful information."

"Beyond the *possibility* that it a mountain lion entered a house to eat a dog and the fact that most of CA is a habitat for mountain lions, there is little of use about the article at all. How did the animal get inside? How many attacks have there been on pets in recent years? On humans? This story is the fluff journalistic equivalent of the movie 'Jaws,' demonizing an animal for shock value. This kind of shoddy journalism is not why I bought a subscription to this paper."

That's the most-liked comment on a Washington Post article titled "‘Shadow of an animal’ creeps into sleeping homeowner’s room, snatches pet dog, leaves trail of paw prints."

Looking at the sidebar, the "most read" list, I think I'm glimpsing what's happening at WaPo:

Perhaps readers have become averse to clicking on the political articles that crowd the front page, even when the teaser headline try to make something sound like it's about a scary animal — "Trump’s no populist. He’s a swamp monster" — or dessert — "Trump’s cake and golf presidency." (Those are actual headlines on the WaPo front page right now.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd offers an alternate headline: "Dog Dies In Darkness."

My law school is as ideologically left as the average lawprof who teaches Feminist Legal Theory.

That's what I learned from Figure 2 and Figure 4 in this article "The Legal Academy’s Ideological Uniformity," by Adam Bonica, Adam Chilton, Kyle Rozema, & Maya Sen (who are lawprofs at Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern, and Harvard).

I got there via Paul Caron, who nudged me to notice that the University of Wisconsin Law School is the 3d most left-wing law school, according to the study. If you limit your view to the top 50 law schools, we're #1:
I know you're going to say: And that was before Althouse retired. But I think the calculation was done by looking at campaign contributions. I give money to nobody.

Here's Jonathan Adler:
Assuming there is substantial ideological uniformity in the legal academy, and that this is a problem, there remains the problem of what to do about it. 
Here's my idea for any law school that wants to look less conspicuous in the next study that's done with this methodology. The professors should find some innocuous or liberal Republicans or Republicans who were going to win anyway and throw some money at them.

But that's just me and my lateral thinking. The main solutions being talked about are: 1. affirmative action for conservatives, which seems to go against everybody's predilections, and 2. some vague commitment to intellectual diversity. As Adler puts is: "the way forward begins with efforts to cultivate an appreciation of the value of differing perspectives and viewpoints and a broader recognition that ideological uniformity undermines effective legal education."

I disagree with Adler. I think professors at a pervasively left-wing law school would readily agree with the intellectual diversity abstraction. It would change nothing. Maybe Adler would push back and say that he wrote "cultivate an appreciation" — there needs to be more growth in appreciation — and "broader recognition" — there's recognition but it should be wider. I don't know. It's so anodyne. The way forward begins... Begins! I see this going nowhere.

Somehow the word that comes to mind is: nothing.

That's a teaser on the front page of the NYT website that goes to an article titled "With a Hollywood Writers’ Strike Looming, Here’s What to Know."

Subtle shift from "Here's what you need to know" to "Here's What to Know." That teaser was bossy.

But here's one Q&A from the article:
Why is it always the writers who go on strike?

As a rule, the directors are well paid and feel valued by entertainment companies, and the actors’ union can be a bag of infighting cats. That leaves the writers.

According to historians, the friction between “scribes” and studios dates to the end of the silent film era. Studios suddenly needed writers to provide witty dialogue, so they imported wordsmiths from New York. But they treated writers — or at least many writers have felt this way ever since — as expendable stenographers.

Put another way, writers see their craft as artistic expression. For the most part, studios see it as commerce.
But the writers must see it as commerce if they are striking.

April 17, 2017

At the Magnolia Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Trump’s playbook should be familiar to any student of critical theory and philosophy. It often feels like Trump has stolen our ideas and weaponized them."

Writes Casey Williams in "Has Trump Stolen Philosophy’s Critical Tools?" in The NYT.
For decades, critical social scientists and humanists have chipped away at the idea of truth. We’ve deconstructed facts, insisted that knowledge is situated and denied the existence of objectivity. The bedrock claim of critical philosophy, going back to Kant, is simple: We can never have certain knowledge about the world in its entirety. Claiming to know the truth is therefore a kind of assertion of power....

People who produce facts — scientists, reporters, witnesses — do so from a particular social position (maybe they’re white, male and live in America) that influences how they perceive, interpret and judge the world....
How you get from that to the idea that Trump has "stolen" anybody else's "tools," I don't know. It's a description of what everybody is always already doing, and Trump, being one of us humans, is doing it too. He just does it very well. Williams admits as much, but insists that "Trump’s relationship to the truth seems novel, if only because he doesn’t try to hide his relativism." Which would make Trump more honest, no? If only honesty were something real.
In his essay “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam?” Latour observed that conservatives had begun using methods similar to those of critical theory to muddy debates around issues, like climate change, that required immediate and decisive action. Conservatives were casting doubt on the reality of planetary warming by pointing to “the lack of scientific certainty” around the issue. Latour had made a career questioning “scientific certainty” and worried that his critical “weapons” had been “smuggled” to the other side:
Entire Ph.D. programs are still running to make sure that good American kids are learning the hard way that facts are made up, that there is no such thing as natural, unmediated, unbiased access to truth, that we are always prisoners of language, that we always speak from a particular standpoint, and so on, while dangerous extremists are using the very same argument of social construction to destroy hard-won evidence that could save our lives.
Okay, now I get the idea that the "tools" have been "stolen." There were insights that were not kept secret, because it was thought that they'd help only one political side, and it didn't work out that way. The "tool" and "stealing" metaphors are inapt here, because each mind that thinks an idea contains the idea and doesn't deprive anyone else of the idea. And different minds can reach the same idea independently. And someone who never thinks the idea himself may behave in a way that is illustrative of the idea (which is probably what Trump is doing). I'm not saying Williams doesn't realize all of this. He's just expressing annoyance that ideas that came from the left didn't restrict themselves to serving only the interests of the left. That's not how ideas work. They get out and about and wreak havoc.

"Why Don’t All Jobs Matter?"

Paul Krugman asks, musing on Trump's stress on bringing back coal mining and manufacturing jobs.
In an ever-changing economy, jobs are always being lost: 75,000 Americans are fired or laid off every working day. And sometimes whole sectors go away as tastes or technology change....

While we can’t stop job losses from happening, however, we can limit the human damage when they do happen. We can guarantee health care and adequate retirement income for all....

I don’t want to sound unsympathetic to miners and industrial workers. Yes, their jobs matter. But all jobs matter.
Is there something different about coal mining and manufacturing jobs? Is it just politically useful (because conservatives can blame liberals and foreigners for the job losses? because these are jobs for, mostly, white men?)?

I'm a little surprised to see Krugman adopting the rhetorical format so recently seen in the much criticized "all lives matter" response to "black lives matter." Trump is essentially saying "mining and manufacturing jobs matter," and Krugman is responding "all jobs matter." The first speaker says there's a special problem here, and the second speaker — with the "all Xs matter" response — cancels out all the work of the first speaker. I'm not saying the second speaker is always wrong, just that the "black lives matter"/"all lives matter" sequence is so freshly critiqued that I'd choose different words if I wanted to enlarge the frame around a problem that someone else has taken pains to identify and get other people to care about.

By the way, I remember when Obama wanted to pay special attention to jobs that "fit with how [men] define themselves as men."
[F]rom Ron Suskind's new book "Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President" (pp. 18-19)(boldface added):
“Look, these are guys,” [Obama] said. “A lot of them see health care, being nurse’s aides, as women’s work. They need to do something that fits with how they define themselves as men.” ...

As the room chewed over the non-PC phrase “women’s work,” trying to square the senator’s point with their analytical models, [Alan] Krueger — who was chief economist at the Department of Labor in the mid-1990s at the tender age of thirty-four — sat there silently, thinking that in all his years of studying men and muscle, he had never used that term. But Obama was right. Krueger wondered how his latest research on happiness and well-being might take into account what Obama had put his finger on: that work is identity, that men like to build, to have something to show for their sweat and toil.

"'I felt this need to subversively convince people. I wanted to hook them more emotionally, with something they can relate to.' So she chose food. 'It is so integral to how we see ourselves and how we live every day.'"

Said the artist Allie Wist, who has created and photographed a dinner table with what you'll perhaps be eating after the global warming.

Click through to see "Flooded," a dinner spread of "burdock and dandelion root hummus with sunchoke chips; jellyfish salad; roasted hen of the woods mushroom; fried potatoes with chipotle vegan mayo; salted anchovies; and oysters with slippers."

The link goes to NPR, an American website, but I don't think Americans say "oysters with slippers." It might just be a way to say oysters on the half shell. I Googled "oysters with slippers" and got this Tori Amos song "Oysters" — which doesn't put oysters in slippers. She, the woman, has "ruby slippers," and she's "gonna turn oysters in the sand." On my own, I think of Lewis Carroll ("The Walrus and the Carpenter"):
But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.
Leaving aside the well-shod, footless oysters, remember the Walrus and the Carpenter were — before they invited the oysters to take a walk — crying over the way the beach was covered in sand — "If this were only cleared away/They said, it would be grand!"

Stop your crying. The problem is solved, and not by the Walrus's proposed solution — "seven maids with seven mops," sweeping "for half a year." Global warming is coming to relocate the beach sand underwater, where it will be unseen seabed. And apparently you can still eat your oysters — along with your jellyfish salad and assorted horrible grungy little roots like burdock.

And here's something Leo Tolstoy wrote in his journal about a shoot of burdock he saw in a plowed field:
"Black from dust but still alive and red in the center... It makes me want to write. It asserts life to the end, and alone in the midst of the whole field, somehow or other had asserted it."
That was written in 1896, when, perhaps, artists still felt some urge to uplift and encourage us. Rather than wake us up for the purpose of telling us bad news.

Donald Trump does the Easter Egg Roll.

This is the best part:

"I've seen those kids, and they're highly, highly competitive. That I can tell you."

This morning, Neil Gorsuch asked his first questions as a Supreme Court Justice.

Reporting at SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe stresses how strongly Gorsuch displayed his commitment to texualism:
Chris Landau was the first attorney... on the receiving end of Gorsuch’s first question as a justice. Exactly what part, Gorsuch wanted to know, of the federal statute at issue provided for the path that Landau was advocating? Landau started to respond by pointing to a Supreme Court case, but he didn’t get far before Gorsuch interrupted him to focus again on what he described as “the plain language” of the statute.

A few minutes later, Landau sought to reassure the justices that his client was not asking the Supreme Court to “break new ground” with its ruling. But Gorsuch again seemed skeptical, suggesting that what Landau was in fact asking the justices to do was to “just continue to make it up.”...

Gorsuch [asked] Brian Fletcher, the assistant to the U.S. solicitor general... whether it wouldn’t “be a lot easier” if we just followed the plain language of the statute. And when Fletcher started to outline the reasons underlying the government’s position, Gorsuch pressed Fletcher to explain “where” in the statute the government’s proposed rule found support.
In contrast to that textualist pedestrianism, Justice Alito "stole the show" — in Howe's view — by complaining that the statute is “unbelievably complicated.” He asked, colorfully: "who wrote this statute? Someone who takes pleasure in taking the wings off flies?"

You know what I take pleasure in? The opportunity to give a post the "insect politics" tag.