February 21, 2018

Who are the good trolls?

The results from yesterday's poll after 505 responses:

Discuss these results any way you like. You can still go back and respond to the poll. I deliberately avoided expressing an opinion in the post or the comments, but you can figure out something of my opinion from the way I composed the answers. I'm particularly interested in thinking about this subject in light of the hand-wringing over Russians trolling the 2016 election. I believe the fear of trolls is dangerous to a culture of freedom of speech, and I'd like to welcome people all over the world to participate in the political debate in America, just as I want Americans to be able to talk to people in other countries about what we think about their politics. We need to build up our vigor, not become more dependent on the government to filter out things that might confuse us.

Not feeling the Burns.

"Michael Screnock, Rebecca Dallet advance in SCOWIS primary."
Tim Burns, who took the unusual approach of running as a Democrat and taking partisan stands on issues, was eliminated.

Caption on a GIF at the NYT: "Some seafood specialties such as sea bream are served so fresh they are still twitching."

Another caption on a GIF: "San-nakji, raw octopus, so freshly killed that the pieces squirm on your plate. It has become a dare of sorts for uninitiated visitors."

And by GIF, I mean, you see the food moving on your computer screen.

Leg parts cannot be alive and conscious. The octopus's brain is somewhere else.* But that twitching fish is still alive, is it not? The head is intact, still attached to the body which is slivered up for the diner's delectation. I've never seen — or felt that I'm seeing — so much expression on the face of a fish.

The article is "An Olympic Challenge: Eat All the Korean Food That Visitors Won’t." Like you're not sophisticated and inclusive of other human cultures if you are squeamish.
Many restaurant owners here... [say] it has felt as if the Games were not even going on. Visitors don’t seem to be venturing outside the Olympic bubble, they said.

I was determined not to be that sort of visitor. So I’ve swanned into press boxes with pork broth practically dripping off my clothes. I’ve interviewed some of the world’s top athletes with raw garlic on my breath. I am beginning to sense some of my colleagues growing alarmed with my behavior. But I can’t stop.
Elsewhere in the NYT, we are beaten over the head for our shortcomings in empathy. And, to be fair, there is a call to empathy here: empathy for the Korean restauranteur.

* Suffering? To answer that question, you must consider 2 subquestions: 1. "Octopuses are super-smart … but are they conscious?" and 2. "Do you really stay conscious after being decapitated?"

"Madison high schools are erupting in chaos. Three high schools in one day, Monday, February 19, over the noon hour."

"Bad enough for the cop on duty to call for reinforcements. Police responded to melees at Madison West, Madison Memorial, and Madison East high schools. From what we can determine, the misbehaving students were not peacefully protesting for gun control, social justice, or better cafeteria food. They were just fighting."

Writes David Blaska, with a "barebones" report from the police chief, a note to the parents from the West High School principal, and a letter from an unnamed parent. Excerpt from the parent's letter:
My son said this was a very loud and aggressive happening involving a subset of the student population that he cannot help but notice and comment has also coincidentally been involved in all other altercations (including not just “verbal altercations” but also actual physical assaults and various melees including ones with torn-off hair strewn on the floor and a vast crowd of students teeming at the edges, filled with adrenaline, watching and getting thrills from the witnessing thereof).

… These altercations are seen as the NORM because students engaging in them are coddled and the peaceful majority of students are the real victims— living in constant awareness that for reasons unknown to them and that can and will never make sense to them — West High and the District are engaging in experimental, ill-advised, and dangerous tactics to essentially bend over backwards to not “offend” the OFFENDERS.

My son is also aware of and afraid, as are most students, that at any given moment, the PARENTS of the violent pupils can and HAVE enjoined the fray themselves, coming upon school grounds....
Read the whole thing.

Scott Adams imagines what the news would be like if it stopped "mind-reading" and reported only "facts."

See if you can read my mind about why I put "mind-reading" and "facts" in quotation marks.

Here's Adams's blog post. Example:

Factual Report: Donald Trump exploited doubts within the Republican base about President Obama’s birth certificate to gain a political advantage. This is a common political tactic. Candidate Trump used the same strategy against Ted Cruz, who was born in Canada but is an American citizen.

Mind Reading: We can read Trump’s inner racist mind and we know the real reason he was involved with birtherism is to send a silent dog whistle to the racists in the Republican party.
That "factual report" contained mind reading: Trump did what he did "to gain a political advantage." If you're going to strip away the mind-reading, you can't leave traces of mind-reading that skew the so-called "facts" away from the direction where the MSM's mind-reading tries to take us.

Other examples at the link are "Some illegal Mexican immigrants are criminals and some are not," "Charlottesville," "KKK Disavowal," "Judge Curiel," and "Shithole Countries."

Adams's point is that "the anti-Trump media created the 'monster' version of Trump based on mind-reading punditry" and, that "Factual reporting would not have created that impression in the public’s mind."

Notice that Adams is reading a mind even more inscrutable than Trump's — "the public's mind."

Is there such a thing? I don't believe in that monster (I assert, but you don't know if I'm lying).

Inside that mythical beast — "the public's mind" — there is a "monster" that Adams purports to see. And Adams even purports to read the public's mind as it would exist if only the news media had not presented the news as if it could read Trump's mind. Adams is the master mind-reader.

I'm sure Adams is already aware of all these insights, because I'm reading his mind.

Billy Graham talks to Woody Allen in 1969.

The obituary for Billy Graham is discussed in the previous post. Please use the comments section here only to discuss this wonderful conversation, which includes a debate over the rule against sexual intercourse before marriage, Woody's idea that he might convert Graham to agnosticism, and Woody and Billy's shared rejection of drugs and alcohol:

There's also a discussion of their "greatest sin." Woody makes an inconsequential joke, and Billy cops to "idolatry" (but the conversation moves on before he says exactly what god he's put before God).

I don't think the word "Jesus" (or "Christ") ever comes up. Graham is elegantly and discreetly inclusive.

Billy Graham has died.

The great evangelist walked the earth for 99 years.

Here's the USA Today report. Excerpt:
From the gangly 16-year-old baseball-loving teen who found Christ at a tent revival, Graham went on to become an international media darling.... Presidents called on Graham in their dark hours, and uncounted millions say he showed them the light. He took his Bible to the ends of the Earth in preaching tours he called "crusades."....

Franklin has mocked both Islam and LGBT rights...
That's not the right tone for an obituary. "Mocked"? That's a hostile characterization, and I don't even want to look up the actual quotes on the theory that it's inaccurate. It's simply inappropriate for an obituary. [ADDED: I missed the "Franklin." Only the son is accused of mockery. That makes the offense I'm feeling much less bad.] Let me retreat to my go-to news source, the New York Times:
A central achievement was his encouraging evangelical Protestants to regain the social influence they had once wielded, reversing a retreat from public life that had begun when their efforts to challenge evolution theory were defeated in the Scopes trial in 1925.

But in his later years, Mr. Graham kept his distance from the evangelical political movement he had helped engender, refusing to endorse candidates and avoiding the volatile issues dear to religious conservatives.

“If I get on these other subjects, it divides the audience on an issue that is not the issue I’m promoting,” he said in an interview at his home in North Carolina in 2005 while preparing for his last American crusade, in New York City. “I’m just promoting the Gospel.”....

He was not without critics.
That's an appropriate tone.

"North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the vice president softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics."

"North ­Korea would have strongly ­preferred the vice president not use the world stage to call attention to those absolute facts or to display our strong alliance with those committed to the ­maximum-pressure campaign. But as we’ve said from Day One about the trip: This administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics."

Said Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Mike Pence, quoted in WaPo in "Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials during the Olympics before last-minute cancellation."

Speaking of nice photo ops at the Olympics, how about those cheerleaders? "EXCLUSIVE: Exposed – the sinister masked minders watching every step of the North Korean cheerleaders as they try to turn Winter Olympics into propaganda victory for Kim Jong-Un" (Daily Mail):
CNN called them 'weirdly mesmerizing' and Vox described them as 'social media stars.' The Wall Street Journal called them 'weapons of mass distraction.' In reality, however, their every move is guarded carefully by a group of guards who wear masks in an apparent attempt to keep their identities shielded....

[I]n 2006, 21 members of North Korean cheering squads who traveled to South Korea for sports events were sent to a prison camp for talking about what they saw in the South....

CPAC wants nothing but distance between itself and Dinesh D’Souza.

Via Mediaite:

February 20, 2018

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about anything you like.

"I have seen representations of Roman boxing gloves depicted on bronze statues, paintings and sculptures, but to have the privilege of finding two real leather examples is exceptionally special."

"The hairs stand up on the back of your neck when you realise you have discovered something as astonishing as these boxing gloves" (BBC).

"The dimensions of American office paper are standardized so thoroughly, they seem almost naturally occurring — something inherent in the idea of office paper (that is, until you go to Europe, where letter paper is longer and narrower)."

I'm reading "Just-So Tech Stories: How the 8.5" x 11" Piece of Paper Got Its Size/The unfortunate size of office paper is why we double-space our documents" (in The Atlantic) because I bought a made-in-France Clairefontaine spiral notebook and wondered why it wasn't 8 1/2 by 11 inches — it's 8 1/4 by 11 3/4. I felt so awkward with it. It seemed perverse. I really did have that sense that 8 1/2 by 11 is "naturally occurring."

But — according to this article —  8 1/2 by 11 really isn't naturally good for reading. A magazine that wide would use 2 or 3 columns per page to help the eye get from the end of a line to the beginning of the next line. And that's why we double space, to make the beginning of the next line easier to see.
Why do we use a paper size that is so unfriendly for the basic task of reading? According to a very interesting post by Paul Stanley, the rough dimensions of office paper evolved to accommodate handwriting and typewriters with monospaced fonts, both of which rendered many fewer characters per line. "Typewriters," he explains, "produced 10 or 12 characters per inch: so on (say) 8.5 inch wide paper, with 1 inch margins, you had 6.5 inches of type, giving ... around 65 to 78 characters." This, he says, is "pretty close to ideal."
Of course, I'm using my spiral notebook for handwriting, and I produce about 30 characters per line. That should be perfectly easy to read, but I'm less interested in how easy it is to read than in whether my arm feels normal when I'm reaching up to the top lines. That suggests that notebooks should come in different sizes the way men's shirts come with different sleeve lengths.

MORE: Wikipedia has an article "Letter (paper size)." Excerpt:
Ronald Reagan made this the paper size for U.S. federal forms in the early 1980s; previously, the smaller "official" Government letter size, 8.0 by 10.5 inches... was used in government, while standard 8.5 × 11 inch paper was used by most other offices....

The precise origins of the dimensions of US letter size paper (8.5 × 11 in) are not known. The American Forest & Paper Association says that the standard US dimensions have their origin in the days of manual paper making, the 11" length of the standard paper being about a quarter of "the average maximum stretch of an experienced vatman's arms."
Ah! So it is about arms! An experienced vatman's arms. You can see why that extra 3/4 of an inch feels awkward to me, since I am not an experienced vatman.

That time I didn't violate a rule but I also didn't "feel free."


I think this can be regarded as a photograph of the First Amendment concept known as "the chilling effect."

ADDED: This is why it's good for law to be negative. Let the government say what it's forbidding me to do. Don't tell me what I'm permitted to do. It gives the impression that I need affirmative permission for everything.

"A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet)..."

"... in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago. Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security... cameras running. Another False Accusation. Why doesn’t @washingtonpost report the story of the women taking money to make up stories about me? One had her home mortgage paid off. Only @FoxNews so reported...doesn’t fit the Mainstream Media narrative."

2 tweets by Trump — here and here — published within the last hour. The piece looks like this in the middle of the front page of The Washington Post right now:

From the article, recounting something Rachel Crooks said happened Jan. 11, 2006:
“He was waiting for the elevator outside our office when I got up the nerve to introduce myself,” she said now, remembering that day when she was 22 years old and Trump was 59. “It’s not like I was trying to upset the apple cart. I don’t know. Maybe I was being naive.... He took hold of my hand and held me in place like this,” she said, squeezing the sides of the water glass, shaking it gently from side to side. “He started kissing me on one cheek, then the other cheek. He was talking to me in between kisses, asking where I was from, or if I wanted to be a model. He wouldn’t let go of my hand, and then he went right in and started kissing me on the lips.”

She shook the water glass one final time and set it down. “It felt like a long kiss,” she said. “The whole thing probably lasted two minutes, maybe less.”

“Like you were another piece of his property,” the hostess said.

“And with those orange lips!” another woman said.

"Thirty-two years ago I, too, fell in love with a man I worked with. It started the way so many office romances start..."

"... with common interests and a sense of shared purpose, but that isn’t where it stopped. All these years later... I still remember the way the temperature in that tiny grad-school office changed when he walked in the door, the way the heat radiating from him charged every atom in my body with desire, the way I thought I would not survive another second if I couldn’t touch his skin. We all know this heat. It can reduce people to ashes. It can make us take incredibly stupid risks and give no thought at all to the consequences. Wise people know better than to put themselves in circumstances that would allow an illicit desire to flower, but people aren’t always wise. And sometimes it is when we are least wise that we are also most human."

So concludes Margaret Renkl in "Nashville’s Mayor Has Stumbled. Who Will Cast the First Stone?" in the New York Times, which I'm reading because Instapundit blogged:
#METOO, NASHVILLE EDITION: Megan Barry’s lover Sgt Rob Forrest paid $53K more than other bodyguards combined. To be fair, he was providing more services.

The nice thing is, when you’re a female Democrat you can have an affair like this — at taxpayer expense — and a female columnist in the New York Times will womansplain how you’re the real victim here.

Who are the good trolls?

You can Google that...

You can do a poll...

Who are the good trolls? Check as many answers as you want.
pollcode.com free polls

And you can discuss it in the comments...

Feel the Burns.

The UW is pushing student turnout on this dark rainy morning...

For discussion of the Wisconsin Supreme Court primary (and a basis for understanding this post's title), go to last night's post, here. It's a real puzzle who to vote for, especially if you're a political hack.

A shameful political framing.


"Michael Moore participated in anti-Trump rally allegedly organized by Russians" (Fox News).

(If that link fails, I'm going to have to stop linking to Fox News.)

The post title is a witting allusion to the latest indictment in the Mueller investigation.

And let me quote Trump's best tweet one more time: Get smart America!

Aw, no one's that mean!

ADDED: Via Drudge, at the L.A. Times, "Fake videos are on the rise. As they become more realistic, seeing shouldn't always be believing."

Trump said it all in 3 words: "Get smart America!"

ADDED: This...

Made me think of this...

He didn't do it. But he thought it was funny to photograph looking like he was about to do it.