July 21, 2017

"I'm not elitist. I'm elite. There's a difference."

Overheard on the street in University Heights (Madison, Wisconsin).

Sean Spicer resigns.

"Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director," the NYT reports.

ADDED: Earlier this morning, from Politico:
Scaramucci, who is a frequent TV surrogate for Trump, is liked by the president. Trump "thinks he is really good at making the case for him," one of these people said. "He loves him on TV."
Here's how he looks on TV (from a month ago), in case you want to check out what Trump loves:


Man hands.

A Drudge theme right now:



A topic that came up in the Dali thread, where I'd said "What path did your eye take and how many points of interest did you take in before you saw... the snake around her wrist?" and holdfast said: "before you saw...the creepy man-hands?" Closeup:



Classic "Seinfeld" bit:

"Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer. In order to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment..."

"... it is not suitable to bring in badly behaved entertainers. We hope that as Justin Bieber matures, he can continue to improve his own words and actions, and truly become a singer beloved by the public."

Said the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture (responding to an inquiry from a Chinese Bieber fan).

What could be more surrealistic than exhuming the surrealist?

You might say, no, it's not surrealistic. There's nothing more down to earth than digging a decayed corpse out of the ground. But Salvador Dali — the surrealist in question — was extracted not from some graveyard, but from a crypt within his own museum.

Here's the NYT article about the exhumation, done according to a court order in a case about whether Pilar Abel, "a 61-year-old Tarot card reader," has a claim to "the worth hundreds of millions of dollars that Dali left to the Spanish state." So it's not as though Dali avoided writing a will. He tried to give all his money to the government. (Am I wrong?)
The tombstone was lifted with a pulley to allow access to the painter’s coffin below. Forensic experts then collected hair, teeth and nail samples, as well as a couple of bones...
Are they making a collage?!
... which will be replaced once the DNA testing is completed.

Ms. Abel wants to be recognized as Dalí’s daughter, born as a result of what she has called a “clandestine love affair” that her mother had with the painter in the late 1950s in Port Lligat, the fishing village where Dalí and his Russian-born wife, Gala, built a waterfront house.

Dalí died at 84 in 1989, seven years after Gala, with whom he had had an unusual and childless relationship: Gala moved to a castle overlooking Púbol, another Catalan village, and Dalí could only visit her there if she extended a written invitation....
Gala was 10 years older than Dali. From her Wikipedia page:
Due to his purported phobia of female genitalia,* Dalí was said to have been a virgin when they met on the Costa Brava in 1929. Around that time she was found to have uterine fibroids, for which she underwent a hysterectomy in 1936. She was Dalí's muse, directly inspiring and appearing in many of his works.
Here's the most prominent image, "Portrait of Galarina":



What path did your eye take and how many points of interest did you take in before you saw...

"When something is threatened to be taken away, people start to rally around it."

Even the people who didn't want it in the first place.

"These Americans Hated the Health Law. Until the Idea of Repeal Sank In" (NYT).

This can't be a surprise to anyone, and it's also not a surprise the Republicans have no idea what to do next. That's why Obamacare had to be stopped before it started, so people didn't become reliant on whatever it was, even though it was never good enough. But it wasn't stopped. So what are Republicans going to do? The only hope, it seems, is for them to fall short of having enough power to do anything.

"It’s very, very scary to think about not having health insurance. If the condition doesn’t kill you, the stress of having it does, in this country. The fact that people do without health insurance is a sin, in my opinion," says one woman, quoted in the NYT article.

But think what it's like for the Republicans. The stress of having political power is killing them. One way back to health is to fracture into parts that can get back to playing from the comfortable minority position.

Remember the old affirmation: I’m so glad I’m a Beta... I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta...

O.J. Simpson and his lawyer caught on a hot microphone talking about how O.J. is like Trump.



They're talking about the author of the book "Guarding the Juice: How O.J. Simpson Became My Prison BFF," who's said things like "O.J. Simpson is not suffering in prison. He's eating well. He's exercising well. He's got a flat screen TV." O.J.'s lawyer compares that to news reports about Trump that say things like "he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else."

O.J.: "That guy [the author of the book, (Jeffrey Felix)], he's shameless."

O.J.'s lawyer (Malcolm Lavergne): "Kind of like President Trump. Trump gets two scoops. Everyone else gets one."

O.J.: "Oh, I heard that. I heard that."

July 20, 2017

At the Succulent Café...

P1140097

... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please help support this blog by doing you Amazon shopping through The Althouse Portal.)

"Are you humbled by this incarceration?"/"Oh, yes, sure. I wish this would have never happened."

Said O.J. Simpson, winning parole.

He also said: "I’m in no danger to pull a gun on anybody. I’ve never been accused of it. Nobody has ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them."

Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson never accused him. They were dead. But O.J. — chattering away and seemingly under the impression that he is well-loved — didn't seem to see any need to avoid statements that would make us think of those old murders.

Still, he was acquitted of those murders, and they had no role in the parole board's decision (or so they said). He'd served 9 years for armed robbery, and he met the standard and deserved parole. But why didn't he act humbled and remorseful and keep his statements short?

That would have worked better in the effort to obtain parole. It must be that he believes he can be popular. That might seem delusional, as I heard Jeffrey Toobin on CNN call him. But it might not be wrong. From Page 6: “Everyone in town is shopping him a reality show.”

"Suprihmbé is a proheaux womanist thot scholar who wants to promote freedom, is Morrison political, and likes cats."

Okay, I just learned a new word: "proheaux."

The quote in the post title is the blurb about the author of something I was reading (at Wear Your Voice), "Being Naked With My Son/My nudity does not offend my son, because he has not been exposed to trivial conversations about modesty. My nudity means nothing to him." Excerpt:
Why is my nakedness around my child an issue? Why is him seeing my genitalia in a non-sexual manner an issue? Is he worried my child is going to develop some sort of Oedipus complex? According to Freudian lore, my son being just about around 5-years-old, is in the phallic stage. Freudian psychology is heterocentric and cissexist–it deals in binaries and doesn’t take into account a spectrum of identities. For its time it was revolutionary–but science is permeated with sexist and racist men, polluted with biases.

... At this age my son is supposed to have formed some sort of erotic attachment to me. Yet here he is, playing pretend in our living room, oblivious to the projected sexual nature of our being naked and sweating in our little house.
Ah! Freud came up. I brought up Freud this morning, in the context of the hard, pointing prong of Callista Gingrich's hair, and as I did that, I was thinking, life was so much more interesting when adult conversation flowed easily into Freudian speculation. Then prissy demands for science spoiled the fluid fun. Suprihmbé seems to be saying that Freud's work was patriarchal, but the rejection of Freud's ideas for their failure to fit the rigors of science is also patriarchal, so there is perhaps something of the counter-patriarchial in restoring Freudianism, sparingly and strategically, such as in the discussion of Callista's pointy prong.

But that word! Proheaux. I looked it up and got another article by Suprihmbé: "proheauxism: a working definition." Key to understanding the coinage: Heaux is a way to spell the plural of ho. (Do you have a better idea? I wrote "the plural of ho" because I didn't.) The definition has 4 parts. I'll just quote #3:
Sex positivity for black and brown women and femmes. Specifically sex worker & trans inclusive. Might be: a professional heaux, a refined heaux, an elegant, sensual woman of divine sex. One who owns oneself, regardless if she is attached to a man or masculine person or not. One who understands and reveres the power of healthy femininity (and masculinity) and understands that this power is beyond the physical. It is political, it is economic, it is survival, it is personal. Fuck classism. Fuck respectability. Fuck the norm. Fuck free emotional labor.

Trump has a script?

"Trump goes off-script and fumes about Sessions and Russia probe." (Politico.)

“The style and fashion of Mod will always be my favourite. It’s a timeless look that everyone from all over the world recognises."

"Mod is something that stretches across generations; there are no age, class or race boundaries, which is so rare."

"The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again."

"A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad."

Wrote Kingsley Amis in "Lucky Jim," quoted in "The Metaphysics of the Hangover."
Amis may go over the top, but still: A small woodland creature of the night voids himself there, then finds it a convenient place to end its days. (Elvis Presley, stepping to the mic in Vegas, complaining, maybe, of his own hangover, once growled, “My mouth feels like Bob Dylan’s been sleeping in it.”) But the night before—ah, the night before—the mouth was a source of great pleasure—the marvelous taste and scent of the wine, the beer, or the spirits.

"How would you feel about your ex boyfriend getting a robot that looked exactly like you, just in order to beat it up every night?"

"I mean, it might be alright, it might mean he can be calmer and more normal with you - think about Aristotle’s theory of catharsis. But we really haven’t discussed this as a society. We’re drifting towards it and the technology is very close to being available, but we just aren’t talking about it."

From "Why female sex robots are more dangerous than you think" (in the UK Telegraph).

I'm in favor of these robots (I realized as I was commenting in the last post about "sex" robots), and I'm interested in the way some people seem so afraid that robot girlfriends will be treated badly, rather than feeling encouraged that men (or women) without companions will get psychological comfort and pleasure from a full-sized replica of a human being.

I'd like to flip the question that I put in the post title and ask "How would you feel about your ex boyfriend getting a robot that looked exactly like you, just in order to shower it with all the love and conversation you never seemed to want?"

"It is difficult to conceive of a deceit so degrading or a deceit so damaging to the victim on its discovery."

Said the judge (in the UK) as he sentenced Gayle Newland, 27, to 6 1/2 years in prison for "pretending to be a man [by] using a fake penis."
The complainant said she was persuaded by the defendant to wear a blindfold at all times when they met and only found out she was having sex with Newland when she finally took off her mask.

Newland claimed her accuser always knew she was pretending to be Kye Fortune - a Facebook profile she created at the age of 15 using an American man's photographs and videos - as they engaged in role play while struggling with their sexuality.

She said no blindfold was used as they had sex on about 10 occasions at the complainant's flat in Chester in 2013.... The defendant spent "hundreds" of hours talking on the telephone to her friend as Kye and more than 100 hours in each other's company.

"Callista Gingrich’s hair is a fabulous shout-out to a mythic Washington."

WaPo headline for a Robin Givhan essay.

Ms. Gingrich was appearing at her confirmation hearing — she's nominated for ambassador to the Vatican — and her hair was "a perfectly styled chin-length bob with a side swoosh... controlled and proper and smooth."

Yes, but what is "mythic Washington" that has anything to do with Callista's surrealistic hair?
[H]er hair is being discussed because it manages to be both utterly unique and a marker of the kind of place that Washington... once believed itself to be but certainly is no longer.... a mythic Washington: a place of order and comportment, stuffy but reliable, self-conscious, mannered, impervious. And most of all, studiously dignified.
Is it so stuffy and sober? It's got that insouciant, elongated, extra curve...
Who has done that before while saying take me seriously? If Callista Gingrich were a liberal, wouldn't Robin Givhan be enthusing about how modern and impudently playful it was?

Oh, but it's hard, it "does not move or swing a la Anna Wintour’s timeless golden bob."

It's a stiff hard prong, like a horn, for the lady who's going to represent us in the Vatican. If you wanted to say it poked at convention in a delightful new way, you could.

That side swoosh made me think of all the talk of the significance of upward curves in Seurat paintings like "Le Cirque" and "Le Chahut":

What does it mean, the upward curve? I remember reading (long ago) that Seurat thought it meant happiness and joy, but I can't confirm that. Rereading this post, I'm tempted — by the horned devil? — to make the Freudian leap and say it signifies the erect penis. And that's not inconsistent with happiness and joy. And perhaps that's why it's disconcerting — to Givhan and others — that it's so stiff and hard.

"On Wednesday, Kirkland worried about her pet parrot, Rookie, whose cage didn’t fit in her Jeep. After she saw flames cresting a hill near her house..."

"... she left within 15 minutes and had to leave Rookie behind. Rookie likes to imitate the sound of firetruck sirens. But that afternoon, the bird was quiet. Kirkland thinks the parrot sensed something was wrong."

The parrot was right.

Kirkland is Janet Kirkland, 72, quoted in "'An insane amount of heat' as fire near Yosemite National Park moves with frightening speed," in the L.A. Times.

Was it mean of the L.A. Times to use that quote? It should be known that Kirkland saved her 2 dogs, and I can see not wanting a loose parrot in the car with the dogs. You know, you can get a travel-size carrier for a bird.

"On Tuesday, 27-year-old Polish cyclist Pawel Poljanski showed off what his legs look like after 16 stages of the famous cycling event."

Yikes!

A post shared by Paweł Poljański (@p.poljanski) on

ADDED: Interesting tan.

July 19, 2017

At the Succulent Café...

P1140098

... you can talk all night.

(And shop all night at The Althouse Amazon Portal, which is always a way for you to show support for this blog.)

"Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president."

"How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president."

Trump, in an interview with the NYT.

There was what looked like an attempt to charm the NYT reporters with a performance by Ivanka's daughter Arabella.
At one point, his daughter Ivanka arrived at the doorway with her daughter, Arabella, who ran to her grandfather and gave him a kiss. He greeted the 6-year-old girl as “baby,” then urged her to show the reporters her ability to speak Chinese. She obliged.
Those last 2 words say: You can't soften us up.

"Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, his office said Wednesday."

"The Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix said tests revealed 'a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma” associated with a blood clot above his left eye that was removed last week,'" The Washington Post reports.

It was just a few weeks ago, after the Comey hearing, that people were wondering at his "confusing" speech. For example, here, at Vox (on June 8th).

"The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily allowed the Trump administration to enforce restrictions on the nation’s refugee program..."

"... but it let stand a court order from Hawaii that grandparents and other relatives who want to travel to the United States to visit family must be admitted while the case proceeds on appeal," the NYT reports.

The Milo Yiannopoulis interview Milo says NPR doesn't want you to hear.



Via Breitbart, "NPR reportedly refused to air a radio interview with former Breitbart Senior Editor MILO despite verbal and written assurances to the contrary because he 'sounded too reasonable.'"

ADDED: Newsweek examines whether NPR is silencing Milo but doesn't get very far:
Yiannopoulos said he believes McEnroe and WNPR “were expecting a low-rent troll — someone who would assure the broadcaster’s ossified audience that anyone sympathetic to the president must be a redneck or an idiot.”...

[The NPR interviewer Colin] McEnroe did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did a producer who worked on the Yiannopoulos interview and communicated with members of his staff. A representative for NPR, which rented studio space in New York City to WNPR for the interview, noted that it has nothing to do with McEnroe’s show.

“I am waiting to hear back from WNPR when they’re expecting to air this interview,” the press representative said.
On whether they are silencing Milo, they are silencing themselves. That gives free rein to all who want to say NPR was flummoxed by the troll who wouldn't troll on cue but spoke rationally about the value of a troll.

Why the Chinese banned Winnie-the-Pooh.

They didn't want people to see this:



(That's Chinese President Xi Jinping as the Pooh to Obama's Tigger.)

"It was just an odd shape. I just knew it was not something that you usually find."

Said Jude Sparks, age 10, interviewed by the NYT about the stegomastodon fossil he tripped over when he was 9.
Jude said that he went through a phase — between the ages of 5 and 8, to be exact — when dinosaurs and fossils excited him.... “I’m not really an expert, but I know a lot about it, I guess,” he said...
If you don't like going to the NYT, here's the story at Fox News, with a different interview with young Mr. Sparks:
“I tripped on the bottom of the tusk and fell flat on my face... It looked like large chunks of bone.”

How I wasted the last half hour.

I clicked on "See James Franco hilariously fail at acting in 'The Disaster Artist' trailer" and watched the trailer...



... and I did not think that looked as though it would be good movie.

And I do think it's possible to make a good movie about a bad movie. I loved "Living in Oblivion." And "Ed Wood" was an excellent movie about making bad movies, including what everyone used to say was the worst movie ever made, "Plan 9 From Outer Space."

Though I thought the movie "The Disaster Artist" looked bad, I thought the memoir it was based on could be good. I considered buying "The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made." And I was interested in the way I was interested in it, because "The Room," is a movie I absolutely refused to see, because I hate movies in which a woman and child (or woman or child) is trapped and we have to spend a lot of time staring at the faces of female/child actors looking very anxious and afraid.

But it turns out there are 2 movies called "The Room," and "The Disaster Artist" is about the other one.

So... that was a squandering of my magic power — paying attention.

"For you to be seen with a black man wouldn’t in any way jeopardize your career, if anything it would make you seem that much more open and exciting."

"But for me at least in my previous perception I felt due to my ‘image’ that I would be letting down half of the people who made me what I thought I was. Like you said, I haven’t been the kind of friend I know I am capable of being... I never meant to hurt you."

Wrote Tupac Shakur to Madonna in a letter that Madonna says was stolen from her. A judge has blocked the auction that had been scheduled to take place. (WaPo link.)

The tweet that got Nick Lutz suspended from the University of Central Florida.



He's accused of cyberbullying her for posting the letter — marked up with mock pedantic comments — that she left on the windshield of his truck after he'd blocked her on his phone and on social media. He didn't reveal her name or any other information about her. He didn't threaten her. He just put up her words on a document that she'd given to him and his own humorously distanced commentary.

I'm getting the additional facts from this article in The Washington Post.
[Lutz's lawyer] wrote in the appeal that the ex-girlfriend, who felt she was cyberbullied, filed a complaint with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, but the case was never prosecuted. She then complained to the university, where she is not a student. Several weeks later, Lutz was called into a meeting with the student conduct and Title IX directors to discuss the tweet....
The most-liked comment at WaPo is good: "He blocked her on his telephone and on social media. He wanted no contact with her. She wouldn't leave him alone. She put the letter on his personal property in an attempt to undermine his wish to cease all contact. It seems like he was the one being harassed and she was the harasser."

And the second-most-liked: "I'll say this: The guy's action towards his ex-girlfriend seems jerky and cruel. It sounds like he should apologize to her, and then both of them should move on with their lives. Having said that, I have no idea why the school would insert themselves into this. The girl isn't a student, and it's bizarre to me the school would want to give the impression that this kind of thing is their responsibility. It also seems as though the school's rules concerning conduct are so vague as to be unenforceable. I think they've opened a big can of worms here, and it will be interesting to see how the school tries to get out of this."

Notice how those 2 commenters say a lot without even getting to the First Amendment problem (which is indepedently decisive in Lutz's favor).

Fake news?


He's talking about reports like "Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation" in the NYT and "Trump had undisclosed hour-long meeting with Putin at G-20 summit" in The Washington Post.

IN THE COMMENTS: The first comment, by Matthew Sablan, is just perfect:
They probably just were talking about their grandkids.

Tapper vs. Sarsour.





I don't want to link to anything specific for this post.

I just want to observe that stories about young women getting killed are now — almost always, it seems — illustrated by a selfie. You see the smiling-while-pursed lips, the carefully lowered chin, the raised eyebrows, the widened eyes that you know are gazing (judgmentally) into themselves. The attributes of the selfie inspire complex emotions — admiration, mockery, revulsion, desire — even when the person in the photograph is not dead. It's hard even to understand what you feel when the story is that a young person has died and here is that person, represented by a stereotypical selfie.

Before selfies became the stock representation of a young human being, stories of untimely death were illustrated by photographs in which the dead person looks truly young. We saw pictures perhaps from a family's photo album. The girlish toothy smiling seemed to express what parents and friends said about her: She was so happy, so loved. In those old pictures, lips are never arranged into that pursed smile that expresses nothing but an awareness that women who can get their mouth into the position are considered sexually desirable.

"Philosopher Theodore Sider used the characters [Goofus and Gallant] in an argument against the notion of a binary Heaven or Hell conception of the afterlife."

"Sider conceived of Goofus and Gallant as near-equals, with Gallant only marginally better than Goofus, in arguing that sending the former to Heaven and the latter to Hell is antithetical to God's justice."

For some reason, we're talking about Goofus and Gallant this morning. (Actually, I know the reason, but I'm too discreet to reveal it.)

The origin of Goofus:
"We couldn't have Gallant without Goofus," said Highlights Editor Kent Brown, a grandson of the founders and, he proudly claims, the inspiration for Goofus. "Without Goofus, Gallant would be bland and no one would pay attention. But kids see parts of themselves in both characters. No one is as good as Gallant, and no one is as bad as Goofus. But being more like Gallant is something to strive for."
But you could have Goofus without Gallant. That was "Beavis and Butt-Head." Mike Judge (the "he" in this paragraph) explains:
Does that give some insight into why Trump won the election? And why Mitt Romney did not?

July 18, 2017

"We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it."

"We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they're going to say to us, how do we fix it, how do we fix it, or how do we come up with a new plan?"

"The police in Saudi Arabia arrested a woman on Tuesday who appeared in a video posted online in which she wears a miniskirt and crop top..."

"... exposing her legs and midriff in violation of the country’s strict dress code for women," the NYT reports.
The video of the woman, identified online only as Khulood, prompted a debate on social media soon after it was uploaded to Snapchat over the weekend....

Some people on Twitter called the woman brave and accused Saudi Arabia of hypocrisy for often celebrating the beauty of foreign women while denigrating that of its own citizens.

Other Saudis condemned the woman not just for flaunting her figure but also for flouting the kingdom’s well-known rules. “She shouldn’t be out in a conservative country looking like this; she should respect the laws, or her destiny will be known,” wrote one person who shared the video despite those comments.
Here's the video:

"Here’s something I do: If you’re in the process of interviewing with us..."

"... I’ll text you about something at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Sunday just to see how fast you’ll respond."

At the Succulent Café...

P1140100

... have a luscious conversation.

(And consider buying something through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

The "Breaking News" concept hits a new low.

Right now, at USA Today:



And that's not one of these articles that reports on the existence of a report in another publication. USA Today makes no mention of the Politico article that I blogged first thing this morning, "Is the President Fit? Donald Trump is the least athletic president in generations. Here’s why it matters."

As Kevin said in the comments to that earlier post: "Is this what's left to them after the collusion with Russia effort failed? Bullying Trump about his weight?"

Did some memo go out?  This is the talking point — Trump is fat??!!

Retro website design.

Like this.

It's the thing now. (Please click that link, which is for a new, hip restaurant.)

I learned about that trend in the NYT, and I know you won't necessarily click that link, but you will not regret clicking of the top link.

From the NYT article, on the subject of the website you'll see at that top link:
[The] restaurateur... tapped his buddy... to slap together something quick... The result recalls a personal website built by a bored teenager in the days before Facebook and Myspace, with flashing Comic Sans text, dancing MC Hammer GIFs and cheesy keyboard music. A banner declaring “now with working email” scrolls across the top.

Mr. Silverman said he regularly gets emails from customers who are confused. A common note: “‘I love your restaurant but saw your website and think I can help you out.’”
Hey, email is cool. The Internet. Hey, I'm on a site. Hey, download tonight.... The Internet....

Share joy!

Who's afraid of Kid Rock?

Apparently, people are finding this very powerful:



I like that his issue is clear speech. That's one of my long-term issues (and one of my favorite tags). There's something poignant in the thought that all we really want is to understand what the hell is going on.

Last 6 words of the previous sentence brought to you by Mr. Clear Speech, Donald Trump...

Health bill succumbs.

Just because the old law is dying doesn't mean its replacement won't be stillborn.

NYT: "Health Care Overhaul Collapses as Two Republican Senators Defect."

AND: At Politico: "Trump blindsided by implosion of GOP health care bill/While the president strategized with Republican lawmakers at the White House over steak, two senators were finalizing their statements tanking the current proposal."

Let them eat steak!



ADDED: Speaking of cake, I'd never seen this before, from Trump's election night party...


... snarked at, early in the evening, in The New Republic: "This cake is a nightmare... Does he know he’s going to lose?"

"So what's the saddest Dylan song?"

Asked BudBrown in yesterday's "Purple Café" (following on a discussion we had 2 days ago about what is the saddest country song).

I give the beginning of an answer over there: "I don't know, but the first one that crossed my mind was 'Ballad in Plain D'" (Lyrics, audio).

Politico fat-shames Donald Trump.

"And even by his own charitable metrics—last year, Trump claimed to stand 6-foot-3 and weighs 236 pounds—he is five pounds shy of obese under the body mass index. By any measure, America’s president is overweight...."

Politico fat-shames Trump's supporters too: "The red states that went for Trump tend to have higher rates of obesity, sedentary lifestyles and even shorter lifespans...." But that appears in a paragraph in which a Harvard professor — from Harvard, not some red-state school — enthuses about how much these chubby folk could be helped if Trump took up even a modest fitness routine.

I thought I'd remembered reading that Trump is the least fit of any modern American President, but actually it says Trump is the modern American President who "has evinced" the least "interest in his own health." There are at least 2 reasons why it has to be put that way:

1. Other modern American problems had serious health problems. FDR was permanently paralyzed from the waist down, but maybe he took an interest in his health. JFK had Addison's disease and osteoporosis with pain so bad he had trouble putting on his shoes. Drugs he took: codeine, Demerol, methadone, Ritalin, meprobamate, librium, barbiturates, thyroid hormone, and gamma globulin. But you might still say he was interested in his health, and yet if he was so interested, why was he bent on riding in a convertible when, as President, he was a target for assassination?

2. Presidents show us what they want to show us. We don't know what's really true. Trump likes to show off that he's happy eating the fast food that we all can eat, and he takes advantage of golf carts to get from one walkable place to another. Other Presidents have chosen to exhibit themselves exercising. For example, here is Bill Clinton doing probably about the best he can while the camera is on (and giving a when-will-this-end look at his watch):



Trump might be very interested in his health, but just not into the JFK-style political showbiz of exercising for the camera. But JFK did that because he was so unhealthy. It was propaganda!

July 17, 2017

"'There’s a basic human right that everybody’s entitled to a sexual life,' Professor Sharkey said."

"But is the basic human right to a sexual life the same as a universal entitlement to a young, attractive woman? Because that is what it is being subverted into here."

From "The Trouble With Sex Robots," by Laura Bates... in the NYT, which declines to offer a comments section for this one. It's ironic, because the topic is that sex with a robot excludes the "pesky" interaction with a human being who might not just go along with you.

ADDED: It occurs to me that the preference for a robot over virtual reality reflects a longing for a real human companion. You have this human-sized, human-looking object in your home. Why would you want that? Perhaps to give the feeling you have company, someone to talk to. And it would talk to you. If it were only for sex, wouldn't virtual reality work better and seem more realistic as sex?

There are so many lonely people. Bates seems blind to their existence. You might say: Deprive them of realistic robots so they will be forced to get out in the world and find somebody. But not everyone can do that easily (or without exploiting or manipulating another human being). I don't want to say that anyone is too old, ugly, disabled, diseased, or disagreeable to find a sex partner, but it's a big challenge for some people.

"I wish McCain well, but I hope he sees the irony..."

"... of his delaying a vote on a bill to deprive millions of his fellow citizens of health care and downgrade the care of millions more while his own surgery and recovery are fully covered by his gold plated US Senate health insurance, courtesy of US taxpayers."

The second-highest-rated comment on "McCain’s Surgery May Be More Serious Than Thought, Experts Say" (NYT).

Nothing like brain surgery to tune up your sense of irony.

Brain Surgery Irony... sounds like an album title from 1973.

Oh! I'm thinking of Brain Salad Surgery.

WaPo scratches its head at poll showing the Don Jr. "smoking gun" hasn't budged opinion about Trump and collusion with Russia.

People haven't moved from where they were back in April.
It’s hard to delineate all of the things that have changed since [the April] poll: The firing of James Comey, the appointment of the special prosecutor, reports about Trump hoping to intervene for Michael Flynn, the revelation of classified information in a meeting with the Russians — not to mention the Trump Jr. emails. But only a small change in the percentage of people who believe Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians....

Would any new evidence convince Trump supporters of collusion? We’re in the weird position, one week after the release of the Trump Jr. email, of already seeing that shockingly unexpected document as part of the background fabric of our political discussion....
Maybe you shouldn't have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. You built up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.

At the Purple Café...

P1140081

... you can keep the conversation going. Talk about what you like (and consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal).

"As one of my lawprofs at Yale said, students aren’t the consumers of legal education, they’re its product..."

"... and nobody asks a Buick on the assembly line whether it wants to have AC installed."

But it was Yale, so they knew they weren't Buicks, and they could take it. They could relax and laugh and know they were more of a Mercedes Benz. At least.

"We will yield nothing to anti-Zionism, because it is the reinvented form of anti-Semitism."

Said French President Emmanuel Macron, quoted in a NYT article about a Holocaust remembrance event, which took place at the Vélodrome d’Hiver, where 75 years ago, "France... organized" the roundup of 13,000 Jews, by the French, and "not a single German." The quotes are Macron's.
Some 77,000 French Jews died in Nazi concentration camps or extermination camps before the end of World War II, the vast majority of them at Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland.

For decades, many French have held on to the idea that their ancestors had been either victims or resisters of Nazis, or of the collaborationist regime that was set up in Vichy, France....

In April, Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front leader whom Mr. Macron defeated in a May runoff election, declared that “France was not responsible for the Vel d’Hiv”...
Le Pen's explanation was the the Vichy government didn't count as "France."
Mr. Macron condemned that argument. “Admittedly Vichy was not all of the French,” he said, “but it was the government and the administration of France.”

Mr. Macron’s comments came during a period of resurgent anti-Semitism in France, fueled by right-wing nationalism and by fundamentalist Islam....

How does Gillette know you are an 18-year-old guy?

It doesn't always:


Via the NYT, which says: "Gillette, which is owned by Procter & Gamble, has mailed razors to young men for their 18th birthdays since the 1990s." The spokeswoman for Gillette says: "it takes a lot of data to reach two million men — and there are a number of steps between identifying the men, securing shipping information and then fulfilling the razors."

Fulfilling the razors is a funny expression — as if the razors were getting off on their skin contact with you.

"I gotta find out where I can do a better job. Can I do a better job from the outside, kind of working the perimeter of the political scene, being open to talk to anybody?"

"Or are you better off from the inside, and we are in the process of determining that."

Caitlyn Jenner muses about running for office. The U.S. Senate is the proposed entry point. Why not? When you're a star, they let you go in wherever you want. Look at Kid Rock. Look at Donald Trump.

Everybody's talking about "Game of Thrones."

I see that the entire "Most Viewed" list at The Vulture is about "Game of Thrones":
8 separate articles, all beating everything else. I get it that the 7th season premiered last night. I have no idea why it matters so much (especially if the most interesting thing is that Ed Sheeran did a cameo (and I do know who Ed Sheeran is (see, I have a tag for him (I even like him)))).

I've never watched even part of any episode. I really don't even know what it's about other than it's set somewhere in the distant past and there are a lot of characters, enough for there to be a lot of them dying, season after season. I find it hard to understand how people are interested in such large numbers of characters when it seems to be well known by now that the idea is to kill them off. I need to invest in caring about them so it will hurt or at least shock me when they are killed?

That sounds like a lot of work. I don't see the entertainment value. Is it the sets and costumes? The talk-talk-talk in English accents? The talk-talk-talk suddenly interrupted by garish murder? I have no idea. I've heard that "Game of Thrones" has "changed television forever" and that sort of thing. I genuinely have no idea why.

"What campaign wouldn't seek motherlode of Clinton emails?"

Asks Byron York.
"The feeling was that they [the emails] must exist somewhere," [a former Trump aide said], "because once something is digital, it's never truly gone."... "There was never a thought of who might have them," the aide said. "Nobody at the campaign was trying to find them."...

Would it have been appropriate for the Trump campaign to try to find the emails?... What if an intelligence operative from a friendly country got them and offered them? And what about an unfriendly country? Would there be a scale, from standard oppo research on one end to treason on the other, depending on how the emails were acquired?
York asked "three veteran Republican operatives." You should go read all that. I'll just quote what was said by Barry Bennett ("who ran Ben Carson's 2016 campaign and also served briefly as an adviser to the Trump effort)":
"If someone I didn't know reached out and said, 'I have them,' I would have immediately called the [Trump campaign] committee and said this person says he has them... I wouldn't want to touch them. But I would very much want them out there in the public. It is still hard for me to believe that copies of them aren't out there somewhere... Even during the Carson campaign I didn't meet with anyone I didn't know... How do you know you're not being set up? I had people come to me and say they had dirt on [Ted] Cruz. I passed. Information can only be as trusted as the source that gives it to you. You can get easily burned with bad info or even looking like you want dirt. This is why everyone outsources research. No one in their right mind would want to touch documents under subpoena. No lawyer would ever let you. All of this being said, of course you want them to go public.... If the Russians had them, the last thing they would do is call a goofy record promoter in England and set up a meeting with a lawyer that can't even get a visa. Instead, DHL them from Asia to the New York Times."
ADDED: I'm rereading Bennett's last sentence. Bennett seems to be saying Don Jr. was a fool: 1. For getting personally involved in acquiring the material, and 2. If he thought the Russian government would hand over material in this manner. #2 also supports the inference that the Russian government wasn't behind the Don Jr. meeting. It wouldn't operate like that. But that also could mean that Don Jr. didn't think he was dealing with the Russian government and that he simply didn't think too much about what he was doing. He was a neophyte.

By the way, Hillary Clinton tried to pass off her destruction of the email as some sort of rookie mistake. I don't think anyone believed that. But, as York says (at the link), Donald Trump was effective just talking about how bad she was — having an insecure system, destroying the email while it was under congressional subpoena, and lying about it.

July 16, 2017

At the Purple Bud Café...

P1140088

... you can talk all night.

(And you can shop all night through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"PHOTOS: The Sidewalk Pill Peddlers Of Port-Au-Prince."

NPR dispenses PHOTOS.

You may be able to see the Northern Lights in Wisconsin and other northern states tonight.

"The best time to see the northern lights in Wisconsin should be between 10 p.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. Monday... the result of a solar flare that erupted out of a sunspot late Thursday into early Friday. The flare released a wave of charged particles that take a few days to reach Earth...."

Scott Adams laughs hysterically at the idea the Democrats are intimidated by Kid Rock.

And before he gets to that, there's some excellent discussion of why — given his opinion that everyone smart would have taken the meeting Don Jr. took with the Russian lawyer — some people who seem to be smart claim they would not have taken the meeting. Adams does a great job with the comic delay of the answer. And I love the part where he demonstrates what it's like for the kind of person who takes a lot of meetings to process the introductions at a typical meeting:

"41 years! I've been in this business, you know, I don't know why I'm still alive, but somehow it keeps on going. I feel I should be dead, it's been so long."

At the Flower Soup Café...

P1140116

... maybe you'd like to argue that I should call it the Flowery Soup Café, but you will have a formidable opponent, me — a professor opponent, a professorly opponent. But you can argue — or talk prettily — about whatever you like.

And if you need to buy something — like soupy spoons or baseballistic bats — please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Tone policing (also tone trolling, tone argument and tone fallacy) is an ad hominem and antidebate appeal based on genetic fallacy."

"It attempts to detract from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone in which it was presented rather than the message itself. In Bailey Poland's book, [Haters:] Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online, she suggests that tone policing is frequently aimed at women and attempts to derail or silence opponents who may be lower on the 'privilege ladder.'... In Keith Bybee's How Civility Works, he notes that feminists, Black Lives Matter protesters, and anti-war protesters have been told to 'calm down and try to be more polite.' He argues that tone policing is a means to deflect attention from injustice and relocate the problem in the style of the complaint, rather than address the complaint itself."

From the somewhat Wikipedia article on "Tone Policing," which is a term I feel as though I'm hearing about for the first time. Here's the context where it came up.

The Wikipedia article is kind of badly written. Am I tone-policing Wikipedia? But Wikipedia itself tone-polices its writers. Everything's supposed to be edited into sober neutrality. 

Tone-policing is just about the same thing as what I've been calling "civility bullshit." (It's my observation that calls for civility are always bullshit. It's always because of what you are saying, because if the civility enforcers agreed with you, they'd be celebrating your passion.)

I want to stress that men get tone-policed too. The most tone-policed person in the world is Donald Trump. 

And I want to connect this to something I wrote about yesterday: that NYT op-ed arguing that speech that comes in the wrong form — like Milo Yiannopoulos, but not Charles Murray — should be understood as "literally a form of violence" and suppressed.

Form is part of expression. I like this passage from Justice Brennan, dissenting in the case that upheld the FCC's power to censure the radio station that played George Carlin's "Filthy Words":
My Brother STEVENS [writing for the majority]... finds solace in his conviction that "[t]here are few, if any, thoughts that cannot be expressed by the use of less offensive language." The idea that the content of a message and its potential impact on any who might receive it can be divorced from the words that are the vehicle for its expression is transparently fallacious. A given word may have a unique capacity to capsule an idea, evoke an emotion, or conjure up an image.... Mr. Justice Harlan, speaking for the Court [in Cohen v. California], recognized the truism that a speaker's choice of words cannot surgically be separated from the ideas he desires to express when he warned that "we cannot indulge the facile assumption that one can forbid particular words without also running a substantial risk of suppressing ideas in the process."

Bret Easton Ellis is feeling the new zeitgeist.



The black female librarian introvert at the 5-day conference.

Instapundit writes:
YOU KNOW, STUFF LIKE THIS MAKES ME WONDER WHY WE EVER BOTHERED TO END SEGREGATION. IT’S JUST SO STRESSFUL BEING IN AN INTEGRATED ENVIRONMENT WHERE PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU. NYU librarian laments ‘fatigue’ from ‘presence of white people.

If you could send these stories back to 1964, would we even have a Civil Rights Act? Or would most of America have knocked itself unconscious from the massive face-palming.
The link goes to a Campus Reform report on this blog post by a black librarian named April Hathcock. From the actual blog post:
I’m an introvert, an over-achiever, and an over-joiner, so I’m always faced with having to be conscious about taking breaks, saying no, and engaging in other forms of self-care. But when you combine that with 5 days of being talked at, over, and through by folks in a profession that’s 88% white…well, let’s just say I hit my limit.

Its been 5 straight days of being tone-policed and condescended to and 'splained to. Five days of listening to white men librarians complain about being a “minority” in this 88% white profession–where they consistently hold higher positions with higher pay–because they don’t understand the basics of systemic oppression... Five days of having “nice white ladies” tell you to be “civil” and “professional” when you talk about the importance of acknowledging oppression and our profession’s role in it. 
See? She's raising the problem I call "civility bullshit."
Even with well-meaning white people, friends even, it’s been exhausting; the fatigue is still there. Five days of having white colleagues corner you to “hear more” about the microaggressions you’ve suffered and witnessed, not because they want to check in on your fatigue, but because they take a weird pleasure in hearing the horror stories and feeling superior to their “less woke” racial compatriots.
Hathcock is describing her personal experience as a black woman and — it's important to see — an introvert. It's difficult for introverts to do conferences and tp need to talk so much with people, even at a 2 or 3 day conference. But this was a 5-day conference! The hell! I'm not even sure I'm that much of an introvert, but after 3 days, I'd be running off and hiding in my room as much as possible, just because it's a 5-day conference. I can't imagine how bad that would feel, if, on top of the sheer difficulty of relating to other people for 5 days straight, I was continually having interactions that focused on something about me that puts me in a small minority, and I would be at my wit's end if those interactions entailed efforts to restrict how I talk, especially if I believed that my style of speech came from my emotional connection to my minority status and other people were advising me to rein it in.

April Hathcock's statements make complete sense to me. And I don't see how it undermines the arguments for banning race discrimination that there are going to be some negative experiences in a mixed-race environment. It seems really wrong to say: We gave you the integration you said you wanted, so don't complain about how you're treated now that we stopped excluding you.

In this light, you might want to read: "A Conversation with Malcolm Gladwell: Revisiting Brown v. Board." Excerpt:
I’m really examining the social science at the core of [Brown] and saying that the social science argument that the court made was wrong—or at least was painfully and tragically incomplete....

The court, for its own peculiar reasons, wanted to claim that black people, as a result of segregation, had suffered a kind of grievous and catastrophic psychological injury. And I’m sorry, that’s just not true....

[T]o draw the sweeping conclusion that the court did—that unless black kids can sit next to white kids in a classroom they can’t get an education—is nonsense!...
Here's Gladwell's podcast on the subject.

AND: Maybe it's time, once again, to read "Caring for Your Introvert."
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate?....

"Music that comes out of an enclosed, close-knit world is qualitatively, profoundly different from music that comes from a very diverse, open world."

"That’s the essence of the difference between country and rock ’n’ roll. I use the example of the saddest country song of all time to talk about how it could never have been a rock ’n’ roll song. Rock ’n’ roll is just incapable of speaking that kind of emotional language."

Says Malcolm Gladwell. He's teasing an upcoming podcast, and he doesn't name the "the saddest country song of all time." I haven't listened to country music all that much over the years, but I immediately assumed the song is "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

I guess I should wait until I can hear Gladwell's full argument about the difference between country and rock ’n’ roll, but his generalizations kind of irk me. I think what bothers me is the us-them of it and how it feels so much like the political liberal's distancing from the "deplorables" — those bitter clingers in their enclosed, close-knit world, those little people, so different from us — we who are thriving and flourishing in a very diverse, open world.

The Gladwell interview is mostly about something else, and I'm going to use that in the next post, so please, in this comments thread, only talk about the quote about the difference between country and rock ’n’ roll. Did it irk you too? For the same or a different reason? And is there any question that I've named the saddest country song?

Yes, it's not Springtime for Hitler anymore.

"Poll finds Trump’s standing weakened since springtime."

(Washington Post headline.)

NYT headline: "Soviet Veteran Who Met With Trump Jr. Is a Master of the Dark Arts."

The article is about Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist.

What are the "dark arts" and how is he "a master"?

According to the first paragraph, Akhmetshin has often told journalists not to use email to send information that you want kept secret. That's something everyone should know though, right? That can't rate the "dark art" label? Just because someone as smart as Hillary Clinton didn't seem to know something doesn't mean it's ultra-sophisticated knowledge. It's something everyone functioning in the modern world ought to know.

A little further down, we see that Akhmetshin has done a lot of "opposition research" — he "was a skilled practitioner in the muscular Russian version of what in American politics is known as opposition research." Does it become a "dark art" because it's "muscular" and "Russian" and he's "skilled"? Opposition research is a normal part of American politics. What's "dark" about his "version" of it?

The article says that in Russia, opposition research uses "stolen or fabricated documents," "pilfering private information through hacking and physical intrusion into offices and filing cabinets." I think we have that in America too. And I'm not seeing Akhmetshin accused of doing any stealing or fabricating, only that he "has acquired a reputation for obtaining" these things. Again, is that unusual? The NYT is famous for publishing the Pentagon Papers. Is it practicing a "dark art" when it "obtains" information other people have broken the law to get?

Very well into the article we get this (boldface added):
There is no evidence that Mr. Akhmetshin’s efforts on behalf of any of his clients, whether they had close or hostile relations with the Kremlin, were illegal. Nor is there evidence that he personally engaged in the technical aspects of hacking himself....
Maybe he's so good at the "dark arts" that he leaves no evidence. Anyway, I'm disturbed by the headline and the straining to tar this man.

And I do understand that the phrase "dark arts" is used in the area of spying. For example, from 2013 (in ZDNet): "GCHQ's dark arts: Leaked documents reveal online manipulation, Facebook, YouTube snooping/A fresh set of documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how the UK intelligence agency can manipulate online polls and debates, spread messages, snoop on YouTube and track Facebook users."

But I'm uneasy and skeptical when I see this term used in a headline and the definition and support for it are not apparent. It's as if journalism is some sort of... dark art.

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt said: "Trump Jr. met with a witch!"