June 26, 2017

"CNN is imposing strict new publishing restrictions for online articles involving Russia after the network deleted a story and then issued a retraction late Friday..."

Buzzfeed reports, citing "an internal email," from Rich Barbieri (CNNMoney's executive editor), which read:saying "No one should publish any content involving Russia without coming to me and Jason." (Jason Farkas is a CNN vice president).

Buzzfeed also quotes an anonymous source saying the deleted story was a "massive, massive fuck up and people will be disciplined."

Meade texts me a photo of the backyard, and I squint at the image. Did a huge branch of the oak tree just fall down?

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Home, I hurry through to the deck that overlooks the yard from the second floor, and nothing seems to have changed. Meade is casually raking the semi-circular yard. What was I seeing in that photograph? That's the view from the roof — which is 3 floors above the ground. I'd been out walking the shores of Lake Mendota one more time...

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He knows I don't like to think of him up on the roof, and I guess he took advantage of my absence to climb out there and clear the gutters.

Here's a view — from last February — of how that branch looks from the second floor — that is, how I see it for many hours every day — to give you an idea of how weird that texted photograph looked to me:

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"The justices, in effect, said that foreigners with ties or relationships in the United States would not be prohibited from entering the country."

"But, those applying for visas who had never been here, or had no family, business or other ties could be prohibited.... The justices said the distinction should be easy to administer. 'In practical terms, this means that' the executive order 'may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.'"

Trump's (modified) win in the Supreme Court this morning, explained by Adam Liptak in the NYT.

"Sleeping on the job is one of those workplace taboos — like leaving your desk for lunch or taking an afternoon walk — that we’re taught to look down on."

"If someone naps at 2 p.m. while the rest of us furiously write memos and respond to emails, surely it must mean they’re slacking off. Or so the assumption goes."

From a pro-nap article in the NYT.

I'm pro-nap, not that I think anyone else should have to pay you for the time you spend asleep, but what amazes me here is that there is now a culture — is there? — of disrespect for the lunch hour. Eating at your desk is required now?

That quote I put in the post title seems — I hope! — to have a real one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others problem. Lunch relates to a time, not just the non-work behavior. It seems to me that you can go out for a walk or find a discreet place to sleep during the lunch hour just as well as you can go to a restaurant. Eating seems different from walking and sleeping because it is pretty easy to work and eat at the same time. It's hard to walk and work simultaneously and almost impossible to sleep and work at the same time. [ADDED: I'm assuming a desk job.] But what's wrong with not working during the lunch hour? Do whatever you want with your free time.

You want to know how to walk and work? I read and walk all the time, so if reading is part of your work, you can do that. But if thinking is part of your work, you can do some great thinking while walking. You can also be walking with a co-worker or a client and getting something done.

But how to sleep and work? If you're thinking about a work problem during the day, you might find that, after sleeping, you've made new progress toward a solution. I'm not saying you should bill by the hour for the entire sleep period (or even the estimated REM part of it), but I'd count that as work.

Back to the NYT article:
The Japanese even have a word for strategically sleeping on the job: “inemuri,” roughly translated to “sleeping while present.”...
That reminded me of this idea I find intriguing: "Mind-windering/The rise of the anti-mindfulness movement." Excerpt:
[M]ind-wandering is showing every sign of becoming a thing, buoyed to the surface of popular culture by the overlapping interests of business and self-help. At the root of this turnaround: the idea that mind-wandering is not a waste of attention but simply a different kind of focus....

[M]ind-wandering is offered not as an alternative to mindfulness, but as a complement to it: "One mental mode is potentially just as beneficial as the other," as Fast Company puts it. A better question would be: why are these opposing philosophies of mind gaining popularity at the same time? What does it tell us about ourselves that we desire simultaneously to focus and escape?
ADDED: To sleep at your desk and help the Althouse blog, buy Nap Pillow, BotituDouble Layer Head Office Pillow with Arm Support, for Noon Break Desk Pillow at Amazon.

SCOTUSblog live-blogs the Supreme Court.

Here. 
Because today is the last day the court will issue opinions, we can actually predict which six opinions will come today.
ADDED: "The court has denied review in Peruta, over a dissent from Thomas and Gorsuch." From the sidebar descriptions of cases:
Peruta v. California Whether the Second Amendment entitles ordinary, law-abiding citizens to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense in some manner, including concealed carry when open carry is forbidden by state law.
"Justice Thomas dissented from the denial of review in Peruta, joined by Gorsuch."

AND: They took the cake!
Masterpiece Cakeshop has been granted....

The big addition today is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. This is a challenge by a Colorado man who owns a bakery and regards himself as a "cake artist." He objects to having to create cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies, on the ground that it would violate his religious beliefs.
AND: The Court summarily reversed Pavan v. Smith, "a challenge to an Arkansas law that requires a married mother's male spouse to be on the birth certificate, even if he is not the biological father" but does not require the same fro married same-sex couples." The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the law.

AND: The first case announced is decided by Thomas, which elicits a "Whoa!" from SCOTUSblog because it reveals that all the decisions today will be written by either Thomas, Kennedy, or Roberts. (The opinions are announced in reverse order of seniority.)

AND: Trinity Lutheran — the case I'm most interested in — is written by the Chief Justice. The state loses its effort to exclude the religious school from a program of distributing shredded tires for use in playground resurfacing. This is the legal problem of separation of religion and government versus the principle of not discriminating based on religion:
Roberts writes that, although the state's policy "is nothing so dramatic as the denial of political office," "the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand."
Here's the opinion. I'll have more to say about this later.

I'd like to think how Trinity Lutheran might affect Masterpiece Cake. Trinity Lutheran is about treating the religious entity the same as other applicants for a government benefit. Masterpiece Cake is about wanting a special exception because of religion. Do you want a nondiscrimination principle or a pro-discrimination principle or do you think religion should win both ways: Government can't give us special treatment to hurt us, but it also must give us special treatment to help us?

AND: Trinity Lutheran has 6 votes in the majority on the Roberts opinion. (Kagan is in there.) But there is a footnote, footnote 3, that's not the majority (because Thomas and Gorsuch don't join). It says: "This case involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing. We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination." [ADDED: There are 6 votes on the Roberts opinion, with T & G opting out of that footnote. And Breyer also concurs. So there are 7 votes for the outcome. Only Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissent.]

AND: In Trinity Lutheran, Gorsuch (joined by Thomas) addresses footnote 3. Thomas writes a separate concurrence (joined by Gorsuch) to call Locke v. Davis into question. ("This Court’s endorsement in Locke of even a 'mil[d] kind,' id., at 720, of discrimination against religion remains troubling.") Locke allowed the state to withdraw a scholarship from an otherwise qualified college student because he declared a major in devotional theology. [ADDED: It was important in Locke that the discrimination wasn't based on animus against religion but, supposedly, a benevolent tradition of separating religion and government. Thus, you should see the importance of footnote 3: There was animus in this case, and these were not the good-hearted government discriminators who prevailed in Locke.]

AND: "The [immigration ban] cases weren't included in this morning's orders.... The justices might rule on it separately later today or they might include it in an orders list tomorrow morning."

AND: "We have action on the travel ban. 'We grant the petitions for certiorari and grant the stay applications in part.'" THE STAY IS GRANTED! in part.
On the stay in part: "We grant the Government's applications to stay the injunctions" blocking the implementation of the ban "to the extent the injunctions prevent enforcement of Section 2(c)" -- the provision suspending entry from six countries -- "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.... "We leave the injunctions entered by the lower courts in place with respect to respondents and those similarly situated."...

So this means that the government can enforce the travel ban with regard to people who don't have a relationship to the United States, but not with regard to the named challengers or people like them -- for example, who have relatives who want to come.

How to lose your job in higher education: Speak freely and cause offense... about white privilege.

1. The University of Delaware is declining to rehire the "part-time professor" Katherine Dettwyler who wrote on Facebook (and later deleted): "Is it wrong of me to think that Otto Warmbier got exactly what he deserved... His parents ultimately are to blame for his growing up thinking he could get away with whatever he wanted. Maybe in the US, where young, white, rich, clueless white males routinely get away with raping women. Not so much in North Korea. And of course, it's Ottos' parents who will pay the price for the rest of their lives." She spoke of privilege, perhaps relying, ironically, on the privilege of freedom of speech.

2. Essex County College fires adjunct professor Lisa Durden after she defended a blacks-only Black Lives Matter event (on Tucker Carlson's show). She said: "What I say to that is, boo hoo hoo... You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white-privilege card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter all-black Memorial Day celebration." She said white people have had "white days forever," and this was one day when black people were saying "stay your asses out... We want to celebrate today. We don’t want anybody going against us today."

Both women voiced a critique of "white privilege." Is it evidence of white privilege that this is the offense that gets you fired? I observe that both of them spoke clearly and with edge but were inviting or participating in dialogue.

Dettwyler posed a question, beginning "Is it wrong of me...?" Are people so afraid to have that conversation? Yes, it was a time of overflowing empathy for the unfortunate man and his grieving family, but Dettwyler wasn't showing up to yell at Warmbier's funeral. She was showing her thoughts on Facebook and exposing an issue that some people might want to discuss, even if others want to slam the door on that line of inquiry.

Lisa Durden had the nerve to go on Tucker Carlson's show, where guests must know they are going to be hounded. Carlson had the easy side of the debate: Racial discrimination is bad. And Durden gamely jousted: The traditionally discriminated-against group is justified promoting and participating in a one-race festivity; can't you white people back off for one day and give us that?

Dettwyler and Durden should not have lost their jobs over this.

The mystical morning light.

Just now, in the backyard, as the sun rises:

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I don't know why the light is taking that form. I assume the sun is reflecting off of something. But I am fascinated by the seeming shape of a jawline and ear. 

"If she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world... That doesn't mean I don't think Serena is an incredible player..."

"I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it'd be a little higher, perhaps it'd be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she's so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke 'cause she's been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit - the men's circuit - that would be an entirely different story."

Said John McEnroe, and I guess this is making the news because 700 is so low. 

Interesting factoid: "President Donald Trump approached McEnroe 17 years ago about playing a $1 million, winner-take-all match against Venus or Serena Williams at his Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City."

I remember the "Battle of the Sexes" matches in the 1970s, with Bobby Riggs bragging tauntingly about the superiority of men and then trouncing Margaret Court. (Later, under questionable conditions, he was beaten by Billie Jean King.)

I see Margaret Court is in the news within the last month. She said: "I mean, tennis is full of lesbians because even when I was playing there was only a couple there but those couple... took young ones into parties and things. And because they liked to be around heroes and what you get at the top is often what you will get right through that sport."

Court, 74, is a Christian pastor, and she was speaking on Vision Christian Radio.

June 25, 2017

Mendota and museum.

Today, in Madison, it was not summery, but we loved it down by the lake:

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And we browsed the Samurai exhibit at the Chazen:

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"A secretive Washington firm that commissioned the dubious intelligence dossier on Donald Trump is stonewalling congressional investigators trying to learn more about its connections to the Democratic Party."

The NY Post reports.
Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources says it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump agenda....

The "Gong Show" is back, and it's terrible.

I was a big fan — possibly the biggest fan — of the original "Gong Show" (back in the 1970s). I was interested that they were reviving the show (and would have recorded it if I'd noticed when it was on). It's not easy to make a great show about being a terrible show. The original show achieved that miracle. But how can you do that again? And how can you do it 40 years later, after decades of going meta- about badness? Here, take a look:



More here, explaining the role of Mike Myers made up into a new character with a name I'd tell you if I could remember but I'm not going back to that link to find out.

"Death" framing worked so well for Republicans, so Hillary Clinton tries to deploy it for the Democratic side.

Oh, Hillary. It seems so sad. She attempts a tweet:
Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.
Will DEATH!!!! work as a political message?

The Republicans famously, successfully used "death" to reframe political issues: death tax, death panels. But those were more precise issues that really had to do with death. "Death tax" was a reframing of "estate tax," and "death panels" had to do with end-of-life medical decisionmaking.

"Death party" asks us to believe the Republican Party is happy to let us die.

I would think that crudely shouting DEATH!!!! would cause many people to turn away from the whole discussion. And for many others — especially people facing life-threatening conditions or with family members who are dying or have died — the harping on death causes pain and anxiety.

Is this the right way to try to talk to people?

"Fifty years on from the Casual Revolution, the dream of wearing shorts forever has faded."

"Frustrated by the demands of individual expression, some have begun to yearn again for a shared and public happiness. Behind their desire lies a realization that was once universal: A society hospitable to the down and out will not be afraid to dress up."

The last few sentences of "Dress Up/What We Lost in the Casual Revolution," a longish article at First Things, by G. Bruce Boyer. Gee, Bruce, I don't know. A reader sent me this link, thinking I'd be sympatico, because, you know, I've got this longstanding "men in shorts" problem. But my problem with men in shorts is that the proportions of big baggy shorts and a loose untucked shirt cause an adult man to take the form of an inflated boy, and that's not what anyone ought to think of as sexually attractive.

But that might be your message. Feel free to whole-body announce that you are not to be thought of in sexual terms. But I've taken on the mission of stating outright what the message is.

But I've got nothing against casual clothing in general. G. Bruce Boyer (pronounced Boy-YAY?) is railing against jeans and work shirts:
[T]here has been the gradual gentrification of the proletarian wardrobe since mid-century: the work-wear of what used to be known as “blue-collar” workers, clothes that included blue chambray and denim work shirts and trousers (jeans), civilian uniforms of various types (postal workers, garage mechanics, etc.), farm and range clothing, and active field-and-stream outdoor sports clothing....

How is it that we have gone from wearing suits and ties to the office to wearing T-shirts, baseball caps, and a variety of military garments and ranch hand wardrobes?...
I have zero problem with any of these clothes. The only reason a man might look more sexually attractive in a suit is if he is physically out of shape. The man's suit restructures the body into the best approximation of the ideal by building out the shoulders and disguising the belly. The suit is the reverse of the shorts: It imposes the proportions of an adult male. But if you have these proportions, visible in what G. Bruce calls "the proletarian wardrobe," the message is just fine. 

"Pink-collar jobs are crap jobs for anyone... We need to reinvent pink-collar jobs so men will take them and won’t be unhappy — or women, either."

The closing quote (by a female lawprof) in a NYT article titled "Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree."

The title is a little ambiguous. "Their wives agree" means women don't want their husbands to be nurses, not the wives also don't want to be nurses, but if the closing quote is the point, then the wives also probably don't want to be nurses. (And by "nurses," the NYT means to refer to mostly to home health care workers and hospital assistants, and not the higher level nurses who are more like doctors and who I'm guessing don't appreciate seeing "nurse" as an umbrella term.)

If the closing quote is not the point — and the bulk of the article says it's not — then the problem is that men (and their wives) perceive the job as unmanly, but if they could get over that mental obstacle, men would like the job and be good at it.

There's a third theme, barely touched upon. The work actually is manly, in that it requires the lifting and moving of heavy patients, and men really are needed.

And a fourth theme: Many patients discriminate against men. Nature discriminates against men by killing them off at an earlier age. There are so many elderly women, and many of them don't mind saying that they won't accept a male health care worker. They're afraid of sexual predation. Whether men avoid the job because they're afraid of being thought of as a potential predator (or afraid of false accusation) is not mentioned in the article.

From the comments:
I am a female doctor and I find this whole issue surprising and disturbingly outdated. Gender does not register to my consciousness when working with a nurse, only their skill set. I have never heard the term pink collar but I find that as irritating as the rest of the article. Not all girls do pink. Not all nurses are women. Let's stop the a stereotypes! Nothing beats a good nurse period.
Ha, the female lawprof gets knocked by the female doctor. "Pink" is only used in that lawprof quote. But I think I see where the lawprof's thinking is. It's not that she sees women as "pink." She's implying that other people see women's jobs as insignificant and the old-fashioned term "pink collar" seems to embody that disrespect. And — I'm reading the etymology of the term now — that's always how the term worked:
The term "pink-collar" was popularized in the late 1970s by writer and social critic Louise Kapp Howe to denote women working as nurses, secretaries, and elementary school teachers. Its origins, however, go back to the early 1970s, to when the equal rights amendment, ERA, was placed before the states for ratification (March 1972). At that time, the term was used to denote secretarial and steno-pool staff as well as non-professional office staff, all of which were largely held by women. De rigueur, these positions were not white-collar jobs, but neither were they blue-collar manual labor. Hence, the creation of the term "pink collar," which indicated it was not white-collar but was nonetheless an office job, one that was overwhelmingly filled by women.
But if you don't know the origin of the term, it sounds as though it's insulting women, and it may also repel men from jobs we'd like them to take.

And why can't we stop the sex discrimination against the color pink? "Pink Wasn't Always So Girly/A short history of a complex color." Pink would like to break out of your crabbed little stereotypes and live a richer, fuller life.

June 24, 2017

"Ringo fidgeted at the back of the room. … George resumed tuning his guitar."

"John and Paul exchanged blank looks for a moment. With a distinct lack of enthusiasm, John finally said, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll do something for that.'"

50 years ago today, a grand occasion that didn't much excite The Beatles.

"In our last two performances, the security increased again, and the moment before the assassination became meta-theatrical."

"As the conspirators covertly moved in on Caesar, I wondered how many eyes were on us, at the same time, waiting for their own cue?"

Writes Corey Stoll, the actor who played Brutus in the New York production of Julius Caesar that depicted the assassination of Donald Trump.
[By the final performance] our show had become the target of hecklers and online vitriol, and it felt as if we were acting in two plays simultaneously — the one we had rehearsed and the one thrust upon us. The protesters never shut us down, but we had to fight each night to make sure they did not distort the story we were telling. At that moment, watching my castmates hold their performances together, it occurred to me that this is resistance....

In this new world where art is willfully misinterpreted to score points and to distract, simply doing the work of an artist has become a political act.... The very act of saying anything more nuanced than “us good, them bad” is under attack, and I’m proud to stand with artists who do....

Reenvisioning the Wisconsin flag for the Pride parade.

"We haven’t had a single negative comment. The response has been joyful. People just really think it’s fun."

Nice breezy day, high 68°. Walked 5.9 miles (or so this "health" app says).

Excellent cloud shapes made the lake (Mendota) photographable:

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Part of the walk was out to Picnic Point, where we saw some great dogs, including a white French bulldog and a Norwegian blue beagle. I petted but did not photograph the beagle, and I photographed (but did not pet) this toad:

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I've never noticed a toad carrying something before. I know the difference between a toad and a frog, but I don't like creating new tags, so "frogs" includes toads, okay? Just a tagging quirk of Althouse.

The NYT takes on the problem of groups of non-gay women going to gay bars.

"How ‘Gay’ Should a Gay Bar Be?"
“They use the space to become ‘wild girls,’” said Chris McKenzie, a 35-year-old computer programmer in West Hollywood. “It’s not at all in concert with what the gay men are there for.”...

“They think of us as ‘fun’ and ‘free,’” said Vin Testa, a 27-year-old educator in Washington, D.C. “It seems like they’re coming in to find their next accessory, like a new handbag.”...

“The women always say they come to these bars to be left alone,” said Larry Kase, a comedy writer in West Hollywood. “But it seems like they want as much attention from gay men as possible.”...

Chadwick Moore, a 33-year-old freelance writer in New York, [said gay bars] have become a choice setting for first Tinder dates by straight couples. “I believe the women are thinking, ‘I’m going to take the guy somewhere where I’m the only one to look at,’” he said. “Also, ‘I can check out whether he’s “down with the cause.”’”

"CNN has admitted it printed what President Donald Trump calls 'very fake news' and retracted..."

"... a demonstrably inaccurate hit piece on the President and his allies after a Breitbart News investigation uncovered significant inaccuracies and flaws in CNN’s work."

Reports Breitbart.

At the Catfé...

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... it's lazy summer Saturday.

(But if you must shop, please shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Urban Cowboy?

From "Both Sides of a Breakup," The Cut speaks to both parties to a breakup and then presents the different points of view as a dialogue. These are real people (presumably!), a 38-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man. He's a free-lance photographer — "super-talented," as she puts it. She has a "skin-care business," but found money "always tight." At first she thought maybe he lives like he does because there's "family money," but there wasn't:
Jackson: I didn’t make the kind of money she wanted me to, which bothered her way more than me. I feel like I’m lucky that I have a rent-stabilized apartment and work that I enjoy. In my eyes, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t provide for her or her son. Love, affection, adventure. I was devoted. Dollar signs weren’t a thing as far as I was concerned.

Carly: It started to annoy me, big time, how little he worked, how rarely he thought about money or ambition. He’d do the littlest thing, like maybe smoke a joint with my friends, and I’d just boil over inside. Like, “You fucking stoner deadbeat!” Meanwhile, all my friends were also smoking and I’d be like, “Cool, love you guys.” But I was conflicted — he and my son had gotten so close and there was so much I loved about Jackson too.

Jackson: She wanted to change this very innate quality about me, which is that I’m not driven by money. I’m not materialistic. I don’t need fancy things. I just need good people, creativity, inspiration, honesty, a beautiful woman, a cold beer on my front stoop…

Carly: The Urban Cowboy thing got real old.

Jackson: I would have done anything to make it work, except get a terrible, soul-crushing job. And that was the only thing she ever wanted me to do.…
Her new boyfriend is a lawyer — a "corporate lawyer." No word on what he looks like, but Jackson was "really sexy, long-ish hair, amazing eyes, great body."

Anyway... "Urban Cowboy"? That's a reference were supposed to get in 2017? Is it the John Travolta movie from 1980?



I'm not seeing anything useful at Urban Dictionary, where the least up-voted entry seems most apt: 
An urban male who wants to be a [rugged] individualist without performing manual labor to make a living. These people include actors, singers (mainly country singers), government workers & Democrats. All Symbolism, but no Substance. They want the look, but not the work.

"Never have I ever felt more grateful for my limited responsibilities in life than when I was wandering through the Magic Kingdom watching other families roll their eyes and sometimes yell at each other."

"With every child’s tantrum I witnessed, I felt more at peace. Someday, I’m sure, I will have to peel a screaming toddler off the ground outside Peter Pan’s Flight. On this trip, however, I only had to answer to myself and to my boyfriend, who agreed that we should definitely try a wine in every country at Epcot. It was perfect, unexpected Zen."

From "Go to Disney World Now, Before You Have Kids," by Allie Jones in New York Magazine.

If the travel idea is go where you can see other people struggling under circumstances that do not afflict you, then why not visit prisons and cancer wards? I guess the key is that children are a very particular kind of circumstance.

You might be troubled by the impression that children are wonderful and the meaning of life and that you ought to get to that real life soon so you can live and do all the things people do with children like take them to Disney World.

If that's how you're thinking, a trip to Disney World without children could work well. First, it would prove that you can go to Disney World without having a child first. Second, it would help you see that there's good and bad in having or not having children. It's not that you'd learn that children afflict you like prison or cancer, but just that it's a mixed experience, a different mix from life without children.

The use of the word "pornified" in a NYT headline gets me to read a Bret Stephens column.

It's not that "pornified" isn't a word. I mean, it's not in my dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary:
But it's in the Urban Dictionary:
And it doesn't need to be in any dictionary for you to understand it as a coinage. The word has appeared in the NYT quite often enough over the last dozen years, beginning in 2005, mostly in reference to the book "Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families."

But Ross Douthat brought the word to the op-ed page in 2010, in "Sex, Marriage and Upper Class Obligation":
American elites don’t have a strong personal interest in trying to stigmatize pornographers (instead of being amused by their antics), or in allying with anti-obscenity crusaders (instead of making fun of them). But I think there’s a pretty good case that they should do it anyway, because other people’s children, further down the ladder of education and income and prestige, might stand to gain from a less pornified society. That would be a kind of noblesse oblige, and it would be admirable and welcome.
Douthat was talking about actual pornography, but that's not what's going on in the new column by Bret Stephens (the other conservative columnist in the NYT). Here, the word is used metaphorically — and ironically titillating us in "How Twitter Pornified Politics."
This is the column in which I formally forswear Twitter for good.... Why now? Because... it occurred to me that Twitter is the political pornography of our time: revealing but distorting, exciting but dulling, debasing to its users, and, well, ejaculatory. It’s bad for the soul and, as Donald Trump proves daily, bad for the country.
Stephens says he was influenced by this New York Magazine article — "Pornhub Is the Kinsey Report of Our Time" — which has this quote" "Pornography trains us to redirect sexual desire as mimetic desire. That is, the sociological theory — and the marketers’ dream — that humans learn to want what they see."

Stephens explains:
That is what Twitter has been for our politics... If pornography is about the naked, grunting body, Twitter is about the naked, grunting brain. It’s whatever pops out. And what pops out is altogether too revealing.
That's what I like about Twitter and perhaps why my favorite thing about Donald Trump is his tweeting. I want the nakedness of the mind. Trump is great at tweeting, so to continue the metaphor, I wonder if Stephens's withdrawal from Twitter is like a guy deciding to abstain from sex because he's not up to the high-level antics he sees in pornography.

Is the analogy imperfect? When you have sex you're not (usually!) making pornography, but everyone who tweets is just writing a few words on Twitter. What the President of the United States does is, in form, exactly what any one of us can do — write a few words. The President just happens to be brilliantly effective at it. But as Stephens sees it, Twitter fits Trump's "style of crowd politics: unmediated, blunt and burst-like." It's "the reptilian medium for the reptilian brain."

If all that haughtiness and puritanism about terse speech and porn is making you want a laugh at Stephens's expense, let me show you what I encountered scrolling through the last few days of Stephens's Twitter feed:
The reptilian medium for the reptilian brain... indeed.

Mark Zuckerberg is in Iowa — running for President? —  and I'm scrutinizing the the rhetoric.

"I'm visiting small towns in Iowa, and just stopped in Wilton, population 2,800," says Zuckerberg, presumably somewhere on the path to running for President. He seems to be wondering why people even live in Wilton, Iowa. I mean, his theme is economic mobility demands geographic mobility. Boldface added:
Research on economic mobility shows that your ability and willingness to move for better opportunity often determines whether your quality of life will be better than your parents'. In many places, people are less likely to move, and that contributes to less upwards economic mobility.

However, in many places in Iowa and across the Midwest, people are raised with values that lead them to be more likely to move to other places for college or jobs, and therefore have greater upwards mobility...

The people I met in Wilton shared these values around mobility....
Wilton is doing better than some other towns in Iowa, and Zuckerberg met some people in Wilton who'd moved to Wilton from somewhere else in Iowa. Zuckerberg — who's lived his life in the Northeast and northern California — has found a way to say Honey, how come you don't move?* to Iowa people without seeming to reject Iowa. But Iowans better at least be willing to move somewhere else in Iowa if they want to escape blame for your downward mobility.

In Z's political rhetoric, willingness to blame the individual is expressed in the positive: You people of the Midwest have values. Your values will get you moving economically, because your values will make you face up to the reality that you need to mobilize out of the Midwest to a thriving economic hotspot like Wilton, Iowa.

I'm making a new tag: Zuckerberg rhetoric. I only make a special "rhetoric" tag for a person when I'm seriously following a run for President and I expect a lot of material.

By the way, Mark Zuckerberg is only 33 years old, not old enough yet to be President, but old enough to run. Anybody who wants to support him will have to give up the argument that it was ridiculous for Trump to think he could begin a political career with the office of President and that a lifetime of experience in business isn't transferable to the presidency. (And Zuckerberg is less than half Trump's age, and his career in business is only 13 years long, and Trump had half a century in business.)
______________________

* The italicized words are the last line of Bob Dylan's "On the Road Again."

June 23, 2017

At the Stalking Cat Café...

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... you can talk about anything you want.

And if you need to buy a cat bell or anything else, please consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Divorce and adultery were considered shameful, and the era was one of making do—the prevailing maxim was 'Cou he,' or 'Improvise together.'"

"People learned to be content with patched clothes, bland meals of leftovers, and serviceable if unromantic unions. But now, she said, economic progress had diversified people’s choices: 'Money buys options. Men with cash want upgrades in everything, wives included.' Turning her face away from me, the woman said quietly, almost to herself, 'Something I figured out recently is that, in my bones, I don’t respect him—not his character or treatment of others. I think that, deep down, he knows this.' I asked her why, in that case, she didn’t consider divorce, and she paused, brushing a finger across the rim of her sunglasses. 'You know, for a while, I also asked myself the same question,' she said. 'I realized it’s because I’ve sacrificed too much for this marriage. It’s like a house I’ve given my life to construct, but that effort is hardly felt by people on the outside. Then, one day, he decides he wants to kick me out because he feels like it—how can I let him?'"

From "China’s Mistress-Dispellers/How the economic boom and deep gender inequality have created a new industry," by Jiayang Fan in The New Yorker. In China, a mistress is called a "Little Third," and one can have a career as a "Mistress Dispeller."

And here's a quote from one mistress dispeller: "Marriage is like the process of learning to swim... It doesn’t matter how big or fancy your pool is, just like it doesn’t always matter how good your husband is. If you don’t know how to swim, you will drown in any case, and someone else who knows how to swim will get to enjoy the pool."

"When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? I want to clarify: I’m not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it’s been a while and maybe it’s time."

Said the terribly stupid Johnny Depp. (NYT)

I think sometimes people who are very beautiful don't get a good read of how stupid they are. It's unfair really. Unfair to the rest of us that they are so good looking, and unfair to them that they don't get normal feedback over the course of a lifetime.

"Any Obamacare replacement needs to cover more people than Obamacare, or else it is dead on arrival."

"Any skilled persuader would see that," says Scott Adams.
Now, President Trump and the Republicans have the “going second” problem. The public will compare their proposed bill with Obamacare and conclude that the one metric they understand – the number of people covered – does not compare favorably with Obamacare. The contrast is fatal.

"California invested heavily in solar power. Now there's so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it."

The L.A. Times reports.
When there isn’t demand for all the power the state is producing, CAISO [the California Independent System Operator, which runs the electric grid and shares responsibility for preventing blackouts and brownouts] needs to quickly sell the excess to avoid overloading the electricity grid, which can cause blackouts. Basic economics kick in. Oversupply causes prices to fall, even below zero. That’s because Arizona has to curtail its own sources of electricity to take California’s power when it doesn’t really need it, which can cost money. So Arizona will use power from California at times like this only if it has an economic incentive — which means being paid....
This is complicated! Why don't they store the extra in batteries? They don't know how yet.

Meanwhile:

"My dad told me he knew he wanted to marry my mom when the McDonald's opened in Moscow after the USSR crumbled and she ate 6 Big Macs in a row."

From "Married men of Reddit: what moment with your future wife made you think 'Yup, I'm asking this girl to marry me'?"

Is CBS trying to say — without taking responsibility for saying — that the 2 holdout jurors in the Cosby case were black?

The article, which went up last night, is titled "Prosecutors "really screwed it up when it came to the charges" against Cosby, juror says." Here's the key paragraph:
The jury was comprised of seven men and five women, and two jurors were African American. The juror told CBS News that they were not split down gender lines or age lines. He said the jurors' ages ranged from 21 to 86.
A comment from JerryK2B at the link:
The writer states "The jury was comprised of seven men and five women, and two jurors were African American. The juror told CBS News that they were not split down gender lines or age lines. He said the jurors' ages ranged from 21 to 86." So is this code for the two holdouts were African American? If it is then shame on you CBS.
Why, exactly, is it shameful?

1. Because we shouldn't talk about race? We should be colorblind? If it's okay to talk about the differences between individuals in terms of gender and age, what's wrong with talking about their race? A jury is supposed to represent the different kinds of people in the community, and we purport to value different points of view. Why shouldn't we want to think about the point of view of black people when a white woman accuses a black man of sexual assault?

2. Because it's coy? Either it's acceptable to talk about it or it's not. By using "code," CBS displays shame. It's shameful to do what you think is shameful, even if it wouldn't be shameful to do it if you were not ashamed. If you think it's wrong to say something, then don't find some sneaky way to say it. Either speak straightforwardly or keep it to yourself.

3. Because we've been given information in a form that is unclear enough that we are not able to talk about it. We are roped into the secretiveness and shame.

Meanwhile... Bill Cosby is not participating in the mainstream media shame agenda:
“Mr. Cosby wants to get back to work,” his spokesman Andrew Wyatt said on WBRC’s “Good Day Alabama” in Birmingham. “We’re now planning town halls and we’re going to be coming to this city sometime in July … to talk to young people because this is bigger than Bill Cosby. This issue can affect any young person, especially young athletes of today, and they need to know what they’re facing when they’re hanging out and partying, when they’re doing certain things that they shouldn’t be doing. And it also affects married men.
Birmingham, Alabama — so central to the Civil Rights Movement — has a population that is 73.4% black.

Birmingham, Alabama... young athletes... Is the Cosby spokesman speaking in code?

"What I've told leadership very clearly is I'm going to need time, and my constituents are going to need time, to evaluate exactly how this is going to affect them."

"I personally think that holding a vote on this next week would definitely be rushed. I can't imagine, quite honestly, that I'd have the information to evaluate and justify a yes vote within just a week."

Said my sensible Senator, Ron Johnson.

June 22, 2017

Trump reveals that he doesn't have and did not make "'tapes' or recordings" of his conversations with James Comey.

Trump comes out with a 2-part tweet today:
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea...

...whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
Trump originally tweeted back on May 12th:
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
A couple weeks ago, after Comey's testimony, Trump said that he'd tell us soon whether there were tapes and reporters were "going to be very disappointed with the answer." We did a poll back then about why he was being coy and not just telling us whether or not there were recordings. Here are the poll results:



Some readers observed that the first and third responses could both be true. I think that's probably right. It certainly did restrict Comey's testimony. At one point, Comey said "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," and some people took that to mean I hope there are tapes because they will prove me right, but I thought that statement could just as well mean I hope there are tapes because otherwise I'm unnecessarily restricting myself.

At the time of Trump's May 12th tweet — the original "Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes'" —  I thought it was interesting that he put "tapes" in quotes and said:
Is that to fend off inquiry into whether actual tape is used in making recordings? I remember when he famously tweeted that Obama "had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower," and later he — and others — made much of the quotation marks.
In today's tweet, he put "tapes" in quotes again but doesn't leave us wondering if he's hedging somehow. He makes it "'tapes' or recordings," with "recordings" not in quotes.

But Trump does leave some ambiguity with respect to whether there could be tapes that someone else made. He's not always so scrupulous about distinguishing between what he knows personally and what he has heard. For example, a few days ago, Trump tweeted that he's under investigation, but (according to his lawyer) he only meant that he saw that The Washington Post report that an anonymous source said that. Trump didn't personally know. Today's tweet acknowledges the strict factual reality that there could be recordings that Trump doesn't know about. I don't know if he wrote like that because he's become more precise and lawyerly in his use of language. Another motive to write that way is that he wanted to take a jab at the overreaching deep state. He succumbed to the temptation to insinuate that there are intelligence people who might record him without his knowledge.

By succumbing like that, he left open a loophole that a truly lawyerly writer would have seen and plugged. Today's tweet leaves open the possibility that he knows of recordings that he didn't make — because someone else did — and he doesn't have those recordings, but either: 1. Someone else is preserving those recordings or 2. Those recordings have been wiped (like with a cloth or something).

At the Arugula Café...

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... here at Meadhouse we can't look at arugula without saying "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" but you can talk about whatever you want.

And, please, use The Althouse Amazon Portal to buy your 3/4 pants and jinbei and whatever else you might need.

"Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping. But it’s a tricky balancing act. We don’t want to dilute the magic."

"The British public and the whole world need institutions like it," said Prince Harry.

Also: "We are involved in modernising the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people... Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time."

"Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, recently tweeted that he and Queen Elizabeth II were 'friends with mutual benefits.'"

"I sympathize: English expressions are confusing, some of them feel almost deliberately obscure – designed to exclude non-native speakers from the joke," writes Mona Chalabi, who was inspired to interview her mother — whose first language is Arabic — about what various English expressions might mean.

It's a good idea, but the mother is too self-protective to serve up the kind of comic fun that, say, Ricky Gervais extracted from Karl Pilkington over the meaning of "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones":

Cosby jurors "initially voted overwhelmingly, in a non-binding poll, to find the entertainer not guilty on all three counts of aggravated indecent assault."

But in the end, it was 10 to 2 for finding him guilty of digitally penetration without consent, and it was it was 10 to 2 for finding him guilty of of the charge based on giving the woman intoxicants without her knowledge. But it was 11 to 1 to acquit him of the charge that was based on her being unconscious.

That's based on an interview given by one juror to ABC.

"Man sent home from work for wearing shorts in over 30°C heat comes back in a dress."

His protest resulted in the company amending the dress code to allow men to wear "3/4 length shorts" but only in beige, navy, or black.

30°C = 86°F

3/4 length shorts? The internet did not give me a clear answer on that. It might mean knee length, but it might mean below the knee. My search on Amazon yielded up many items — for men — that were called "capris." And now I've relearned the word "manpris."

The NYT acknowledges that Trump's rally speeches are "mesmerizing"  — "even for his detractors."

Here's Maggie Haberman's report on Trump's performance at a rally in Iowa last night:
Style-heavy and substance-light, the speech went over an hour: an epic version of the fact-challenged, meandering and, even for his detractors, mesmerizing speeches he gave during his upstart presidential campaign....

Free from his handlers for roughly 70 minutes, Mr. Trump described his administration as he wished it to be: one in which he had made historic governing accomplishments and been stymied solely by the “resistance.”...

And the president frequently embellished details during his speech, or told outright falsehoods. He tried to catch himself at one point, saying, “I have to be a little careful, because they’ll say, ‘He lied!’”...

"At least 17 children in eastern Syria have been paralyzed from a recently confirmed outbreak of polio, the World Health Organization said Tuesday..."

The NYT reports.
The polio virus, once thought to verge on eradication, is one of the most contagious diseases in inadequately protected areas... [There is] an urgent need to vaccinate more than 400,000 children under the age of 5 in the Deir al-Zour area...

The vaccine, a weakened form of the polio virus that triggers the immune system’s response, is secreted in the waste of vaccinated children, and over time can mutate into an infectious strain that may afflict the unvaccinated. The risks are especially high in areas where not all children have received the vaccine and where the mutated virus can spread from contaminated sewage or water.

"Israeli airline employees cannot ask women to change seats to spare a man from having to sit next to them, a Jerusalem court ruled on Wednesday..."

"... handing down a groundbreaking decision in a case brought by a woman in her 80s," the NYT reports.
Strictly religious Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women, for fear of even inadvertent contact that could be considered immodest, are a growing phenomenon that has caused disruptions and flight delays around the world....

El Al’s lawyers argued in court that passengers often ask flight attendants to reseat them to be closer to a relative, or farther from a crying baby, or for many other reasons.... El Al denied that it discriminated against women, saying its reseating policies applied equally to men. And the airline argued that the principle of taking religious sensibilities into consideration has been defended and recognized in Israeli court....
The plaintiff, Renee Rabinowitz, "escaped the Nazis in Europe as a child."

"Be honest: the roses one encounters in daily life are, mostly, hideous."

"Think of the colors: syphilitically inflamed orange, or highlighter-pen salmon, or nylon pink, or overripe-banana yellow. How often have you bent to smell a neighbor’s rose, ready to snort up a lungful of Turkish-delight deliciousness, only to discover no scent at all?... What’s more, they are dangerous.... Haven’t you heard the stories of gardeners who, after a single rose-thorn puncture, lost an arm, or more? Would you keep a shark in your front yard?... Roses are not urban beasts. So, although we may dream of an elegant granite wall with a Mme. de Something rose arching against it in sweet-smelling pearly swags, the reality is considerably grimmer: my taxi-driver neighbor’s viciously pruned, yellow-budded toilet brushes, or the suburban crematoria whose residents are united by the horrible lollipop standards on their resting places. There is a simple solution: let’s give up on the scentless, hard-pruned, spiky Day-Glo disasters. Henceforth, licenses will be issued only to those with space to do them justice...."

From "Let's Ban Roses" by the novelist Charlotte Mendelson (in The New Yorker).

What will become of the "money in politics" issue after Hillary Clinton and Jon Ossoff?

I see that, just before he lost the election, Jon Ossoff complained (on NPR) that "money in politics is a major problem." But Ossoff spent far more money than Handel. If he had won it would have bolstered the argument that more and more money must be donated because with enough money, victory can be bought.

Meanwhile, back at the presidential election, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton used vast piles of money scare off challengers, but each of them had a scrappy low-budget nemesis.

If Bernie Sanders had been a little more hardcore (early on he let go of the email issue) and if the DNC hadn't (apparently) rigged it, he could have been the Democratic Party candidate.

Jeb Bush and his super-PAC spent over $110 million and never got anywhere in the primaries. Trump spent the least of the 17 contenders for the GOP nomination.

In the general election, Hillary spent far more than Trump. She spent heavily on those things that campaigns tell donors they need so badly:
Clinton's campaign placed a far greater emphasis than Trump on television advertising, a more traditional way of reaching swaths of voters. She spent $72 million on TV ads and about $16 million on internet ads in the final weeks. The former secretary of state also spent more than $12 million on travel—about double what Trump spent. Clinton, who not only had a money advantage over Trump but a staffing edge, spent more than $4 million on a nearly 900-strong payroll.
But Trump did rallies and social media and won.

Is the money-in-politics issue dying?

June 21, 2017

Ken in shorts.


"Today Barbie® announced the expansion of its Fashionistas® line with 15 new and diverse Ken® dolls, featuring three body types – slim, broad and original – and a variety of skin tones, eye colors, hairstyles and modern fashion looks...."

Actually, I have the original Ken doll and the only clothes he ever had were, essentially, shorts — that is, his little red swim trunks. And I don't really care if the child's toy Ken wears shorts. My men-in-shorts problem is not a Ken-in-shorts problem because it is about adult men looking like children. But girls are playing with Ken, so let him be a boy.

(And yeah, I know: man bun. Did you see the man bun cover on the new New Yorker?)

"It’s obscene... It’s outrageous, OK? the Democrats are nothing now but words and fantasy and hallucination and Hollywood."

"There’s no journalism left. What’s happened to The New York Times? What’s happened to the major networks? It’s an outrage. I’m a professor of media studies, in addition to a professor of humanities, OK? And I think it’s absolutely grotesque the way my party has destroyed journalism. Right now, it is going to take decades to recover from this atrocity that’s going on where the news media have turned themselves over to the most childish fraternity kind of buffoonish behavior."

Said Camille Paglia, talking to Sean Hannity on his radio show yesterday.

"What Happened To Black Lives Matter?"

The title of this long Buzzfeed article is a question I've been asking, but I'm not sure if you'll find much of an answer there.

The Democratic Party wants to know which aspects of the Trump presidency I find most distubing.

I got the "Official 2017 Democratic Party Survey" in the mail today. There are something like 10 questions (depending on how you define "question"), but I was only in the mood to photograph and display this one:

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I like the way they give you the option of not finding the Trump presidency disturbing, even though — if that's your choice — you can't follow the instructions and "please choose four." I guess that last option is for a laugh. Who could read through the preceding push-pollery and not, by the end, be disturbed?

Serviceberries....

They've survived the attacks of the birds and reached the point of what is, for me, palatable ripeness.

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Yesterday, I had one of my all-time best experiences of picking fruit and immediately eating it. Unlike some people I know, I have never made money as a fruit picker, and also unlike some people I know, I've never paid money to go out in somebody's pick-your-own-berries field. So my experience is limited. And — as you may know — my sense of taste is also limited, which makes me hesitate to eat any fruit, lest it come across as irritatingly sour. But the serviceberries yesterday were nicely sweet. I don't know why the birds hadn't got them all. This was the first time since we got the tree planted in '09 that I got the chance to pick and eat a lot of the berries.

"Bricolage is a French loanword that means the process of improvisation in a human endeavor."

"The word is derived from the French verb bricoler ('to tinker'), with the English term DIY ('Do-it-yourself') being the closest equivalent...."
Instrumental bricolage in music includes the use of found objects as instruments... In art, bricolage is a technique where works are constructed from various materials available or on hand... Bricolage is considered the jumbled effect produced by the close proximity of buildings from different periods and in different architectural styles... In literature, bricolage is affected by intertextuality, the shaping of a text's meanings by reference to other texts.... In cultural studies bricolage is used to mean the processes by which people acquire objects from across social divisions to create new cultural identities....
AKA cultural appropriation.
In his book The Savage Mind (1962, English translation 1966), French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss used "bricolage" to describe the characteristic patterns of mythological thought...

In her book Life on the Screen (1995), Sherry Turkle discusses the concept of bricolage as it applies to problem solving in code projects and workspace productivity. She advocates the "bricoleur style" of programming as a valid and underexamined alternative to what she describes as the conventional structured "planner" approach...

The fashion industry uses bricolage-like styles by incorporating items typically utilized for other purposes. For example, candy wrappers are woven together to produce a purse. The movie Zoolander parodies this concept with "Derelicte", a line of clothing made from trash.

MacGyver is a television series in which the protagonist is the paragon of a bricoleur...

The A-Team, the 80s television series, uses bricolage as a means to create alternative escapes or weapons in every episode, for example, building from scrap a tank that fired cabbages.
I got to that Wikipedia article after looking up the word "bricoleur" in this 1982 NYT review of Paul Theroux's "Mosquito  Coast" (which I recently read and am rereading). From the review:
[The main character, Allie Fox] is, by his own account, a kind of industrial Darwinist, a comber of beaches and dumps: ''The things that get to this beach are indestructible remnants that survived the storms and tides and the bite of the sea. They've proved themselves - stood the test of weather and time. By putting them to use, we are making a settlement that can't be destroyed. Your average Crusoe castaway lives like a monkey. But I'm no fool. Take those toilet seats. That's natural selection.'' But if Father's theories are suspect, his practice is astonishingly effective. As the centerpiece of his creation at Jeronimo, this inspired bricoleur constructs his masterwork, a gigantic edifice of old pipes and boilerplate which, in effect, transforms fire into ice.
Question that occurred to me, reading the Wikipedia bricolage about bricolage: What is bricolage in politics? Is Trump a bricoleur?

After Ossoff.

1. Trump revels: "Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0."

2. Cruder gloating from Kellyanne Conway: "Laughing my #Ossoff." "Thanks to everyone who breathlessly and snarkily proclaimed #GA06 as a "referendum on POTUS @realDonaldTrump"/You were right/#winning."

3. A WaPo column (by Paul Kane) rationalizes: "Ossoff chose civility and it didn’t work": "So Ossoff chose the high priest route instead of the fierce warrior. It was civil disobedience rather than civil unrest. And he still lost, by an even wider margin than the almost forgotten Parnell."

4. A Daily Beast columnist (Patricia Murphy): "Jon Ossoff's $23 Million Loss Shows Dems Have No Idea How to Win in the Age of Trump."

5. Another WaPo column (by Aaron Blake): The Democrats "had nine weeks after the primary to get from 49 percent of the vote that day to 50 percent-plus-one on Tuesday, and they didn't do it. For a party still smarting from somehow losing a 2016 presidential race that was well within their grasp, they have to feel the need to do some soul-searching and figure out why their strategies aren't resulting in actual wins. Commence bloodletting."

6. Matt Yglesias at Vox: "Jon Ossoff’s Georgia special election loss shows Democrats could use a substantive agenda."
Karen Handel didn’t argue that the Republican Party’s health care bill is a good idea (it’s very unpopular) or that tax cuts for millionaires should be the country’s top economic priority (another policy that polls dismally). Instead, her campaign and its allies buried Ossoff under a pile of what basically amounts to nonsense — stuff about Kathy Griffin, stuff about Samuel L. Jackson, stuff about his home being just over the district line, stuff about him having raised money from out of state — lumped together under the broad heading that he’s an “outsider.”...

Ossoff’s team... attempted to counter this move by positioning Ossoff as blandly as possible — just a kind of nice guy who doesn’t like Donald Trump — and dissociating him from any hard-edged ideas or themes....
7. Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin in the NYT: "Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: ‘Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump.'"
[A] half-dozen Democratic elected officials and operatives privately vented in text messages and phone calls about a dispiriting trend emerging in this year’s special elections: When their candidates appear to gain traction in the polls, Republicans can easily halt the momentum by invoking Ms. Pelosi....

[P]opulist forces on the left took Mr. Ossoff’s defeat as an occasion to criticize the whole notion of centrism as a Democratic strategy. Jim Dean, the chairman of Democracy for America, a liberal activist group, blasted Mr. Ossoff overnight for “lighting millions of dollars on fire” and delivering an “uninspiring message” that he predicted would fail again in 2018. “The same, tired centrist Democratic playbook that has come up short cycle after cycle will not suffice,” Mr. Dean said in a statement.

"The State Department has opened a formal inquiry into whether former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aides mishandled classified information while she was the nation’s top diplomat..."

"... Fox News has learned. Despite being under investigation, Clinton and her staffers still have security clearances to access sensitive government information. The department’s investigation aims to determine whether Clinton and her closest aides violated government protocols by using her private server to receive, hold and transmit classified and top-secret government documents...."

It never ends. Why should it? 

"Climbing Down Into Airline Hell, Year by Year" — a fascinating time line.

By Joe Nocera at Bloomberg.

You know the story: deregulation, competition, and the people voting with their money for cheapness. But it's worth perusing the time line. You can see the prices fall along with with quality.

A factor not displayed: The increase in the size of the average American from 1980 (when deregulation kicks in) to today. The allocated space has decreased even more if you factor in how much larger we are.

I think, given the problem of global warming, there should just be a lot less air travel. If the government would impose quality requirements, the airlines would raise prices, and fewer people would travel. Everybody wins! You can disagree with that if you're a climate change denier, but if you're a believer, you must agree.

"Haidt is fearful not only for the country but also for himself. His default intellectual style is provocation."

"He used to relish posing questions like, 'List all the good things Hitler did,' and he even invented a game, 'Racist Jeopardy,' in which he names a stereotype and asks students to identify the ethnic group it describes. 'It was very uncomfortable,' he says, adding that he no longer plays the game because he’s worried about running afoul of NYU’s bias-response team. He’s already been the subject of at least two student complaints. 'I’m used to skating on thin ice, but I knew how thick the ice was,' he says. 'Now I have no idea.'"

From "Can Jonathan Haidt Calm the Culture Wars?" in The Chronicle of Higher Education, which passes along Haidt's assurance that he's "never voted for a Republican, never given a penny to a Republican candidate, never worked for a Republican or conservative cause."

Haidt is a social psychologist (at the NYU Business School), and he observes the strong bias against conservatives in psychology departments: "If you say something pleasing to the left about race, gender, immigration, or any other issue, it’s likely to get waved through to publication. People won’t ask hard questions. They like it. They want to believe it... [It's] a real research-legitimacy problem in the social sciences."

"The Bayview Park Cross has stood in Pensacola, Fla., for around 75 years after being originally erected in 1941."

"Now, due to the recent declaration of a federal judge, the park has 30 days to remove it."

"I don't (want) to fight you publicly but you raised a half of million dollars for Justified Anger and have not reported ONE outcome to the community."

“My first thought when I’m thinking about Justified Anger is, I wonder where all that money went... It’s disheartening to see so much financial backing behind something that I personally cannot see in action."

“We keep our ear to the street. I’ve heard good and bad things about it.... I know there's a lot of people angry at Justified Anger."

Quotes from "Justified criticism? Alex Gee's Justified Anger Coalition works to clarify its purpose" in the Cap Times (the Madison, Wisconsin newspaper).

"Until now, Uber’s aggressive culture was celebrated and emulated across Silicon Valley, while its excesses were largely dismissed as the cost of 'disrupting' the hyper-competitive transportation industry."

"The term disruption itself, emblematic of a Silicon Valley firm that uses digital chops and a fast-moving, rule-breaking approach to challenge entrenched industries has become synonymous with Uber."

From "Uber founder Travis Kalanick resigns as CEO amid a shareholder revolt." (WaPo)

June 20, 2017

Ossoff has lost.

The anti-Trump excitement has fizzled.

In the light green hostas... the Viking ship cat with the light green eyes... dreams of...

DSC_0022

... bunnies, I think...

I love the incidental shamrock... today in the front yard of Meadhouse.

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"In the politics of scandal, at least since Watergate, you don’t have to engage in persuasion or even talk about issues."

"Political victories are won when you destroy your political opponents by catching them in some wrongdoing. You get seduced by the delightful possibility that your opponent will be eliminated. Politics is simply about moral superiority and personal destruction."

Writes David Brooks in "Let’s Not Get Carried Away," which is about "the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington." Brooks ends by quoting a Trump tweet...
“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story.”
... and adding:
Unless there is some new revelation, that may turn out to be pretty accurate commentary.
Why say "may turn out to be" and not "is"? "Unless there is some new revelation" already locates you in the present, looking at the sum total of the evidence we have now. Trump said it amounted to "zero." Either you agree with that or you don't. I understand weasel words, but why double up on weasel words? What are you afraid of?

"For ten seconds I said the ‘F’ word as loud as I could as many times as I could then I started making my plans for survival."

A story of survival at mile 960 of a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.
“You can look at a pass and know what it is, but a river, you don’t have control. You’re at the mercy of the river and how much force is going to be on your body... When I got to the stream, I had already done streams similar to it,” [said Marcus Mazzaferri ]. “I though it would be the same thing.... I remember getting in twice up to my waist and chickening out... It was just on the threshold of my comfort. I couldn’t decide if it was too strong. I let my gung-ho hiker get ahold of me and decided to just go for it, but that was a mistake. The whole reason I share this story is because I made some mistakes that got me in a hazardous situation, but then I made good decisions to survive.... I got through a quarter of it and it was getting pretty strong, so I faced upstream and used my trekking poles... I go to take another step and I put my weight on the rock and it felt fine, but once I shifted all my weight over and took my next step, the rock slipped and came out, and just that little shift let the current take me away."
He got free of his heavy backpack and swam to shore, but the pack was lost — over the waterfall — so he had none of his supplies, and the nighttime temperatures would go below zero.

The yearning, stirring passions of the suburban white woman.

New York Magazine has this, by Rebecca Traister, "Can the New Activist Passion of Suburban White Women Change American Politics?":
To visit Georgia’s sixth in the days before the runoff is to land on a planet populated by politically impassioned women, talking as if they have just walked off the set of Thelma & Louise, using a language of awakening, liberation, and political fury that should indeed discomfit their conservative neighbors, and — if it is a harbinger of what’s to come — should shake conservative America more broadly....

Women speak with the youthful fever of having found new friends, or new love — of politics and each other....

“I tell people that I am fresh out of fucks,” says Tamara Brooking [a 50-year-old research assistant to a novelist]. “Seriously. I’m done. I’m done pretending that your hateful rhetoric is okay. I’m done pretending that people like us must be quiet to make you feel comfortable.”
I know you love seeming "youthful," but no one over 22 — and really no one — should be using no-fucks-left-to-give rhetoric. And by the time you're 50, Ms. Brooking, the stock prejudice is that it's the utterly mundane consequence of aging for you to have "no fucks."
In their nascent activism there are echoes of another American moment in which middle-class white women snapped to political consciousness. When describing their past inertia and isolation, these activists often sound more than a little bit like Betty Friedan, who wrote in the first paragraph of The Feminist Mystique, about the “strange stirring,” and “sense of dissatisfaction [and] yearning” that “each suburban wife struggled with …alone.”...
Apparently novelists have research assistants but New York Magazine doesn't have editors. The book is called "The Feminine Mystique," not "The Feminist Mystique."

And that book is about individual women wanting individual fulfillment in life by getting out of the house and into careers. It wasn't about collective action in politics!

And all that yearning, stirring passion is for a 30-year-old man

The idea that the Court "should have more carefully balanced the interests of free speech with the strong public policy against prejudice and discrimination."

Expressed in an op-ed in USA Today called "A win for state-sponsored bigotry." The author is a lawyer who filed an amicus brief for the losing side in the "Slants" case. (A musical group won the right to trademark their name "The Slants," even though the government deemed that name "disparaging.")
Genuine concern for free expression requires a more tailored solution than the Supreme Court reached. “Reclaiming” an ethnic slur or other derogatory term with entrenched historical and cultural connotations to turn it into something more positive requires collective action and community acceptance.

Removing the federal bar against registering disparaging marks does not empower minority communities to “reclaim” previous slurs to show pride or make the terms acceptable. It only threatens vast social harm by opening the federal registration system and its benefits to epithets and terms of personal abuse.
I'm so glad that side lost. It's horrible, this notion that the individual must wait for the "collective."

And I like the way the poll is going over there at USA Today:

Does that mean there's a special place in hell for them?

"Women Are Leading the Charge in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District/The local Indivisible chapter is campaigning hard for Jon Ossoff, but they have their eyes on a bigger prize as well." (The Nation)

(Post title refers to this.)

"Inkblot" is the wrong meme for the gerrymandering problem in the case the Supreme Court is looking at.

The NYT has the headline "Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S." and the writer — Michael Cooper — gets very far along presenting the problem in terms of the seemingly apparent wrongness of having a sprawling, weirdly shaped legislative district:
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case on partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin is being closely watched in other states, including Pennsylvania, where a lawsuit is challenging the process that gave the state its so-called Goofy Kicking Donald Duck-shaped congressional district.... A Rorschach-test inkblot of a district that has been likened to “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck,” this district meanders through five counties and is so narrow in parts that it is only the width of a restaurant in King of Prussia and of an endoscopy center in Coatesville, according to a lawsuit filed by voting rights activists last week....

Democrats in Maryland drew plenty of crazily shaped districts to help their party in 2011 — its Third District has been likened to a “praying mantis” — but a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s last round of redistricting is focused on one: the Sixth District, which yoked Democratic voters from the Washington suburbs to Republican voters in the rural west of the state.
But the Wisconsin case is just about the opposite problem, as Cooper lets us see in the closing paragraphs of the article:
[O]ne of the defenses made by Wisconsin officials is that their districts are compact....

“They don’t look bizarre,” William Whitford, one of the Democratic plaintiffs suing over the Wisconsin map, said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “But if you really know the Wisconsin political geography — and that’s a learning curve! — they are bizarre.”
The problem in Wisconsin is that Democratic voters are concentrated in these compact — not inkblot-like — districts, so that there are "wasted" votes, and Democrats win by wide margins in those places instead of getting their voters spread into some other districts that could become competitive, instead of safe for Republicans. That is, the Democrats are fighting for something more like the Maryland Sixth District. In the new Supreme Court case, the plaintiffs want to "yoke" more Democratic voters in urban areas to Republican voters in more suburban/rural places.

Did the NYT not notice that the article is insane? The problem in the first half is the solution in the second half! You can't have it both ways. Which is kind of why the Supreme Court hasn't figured out what to do with these cases (other than to allow the litigation to proceed, which is some sort of deterrent to the most aggressively partisan gerrymandering).

Goodbye to José Jiménez.

The comedian Bill Dana has died at the age of 92. From the NYT obituary:
Mr. Dana had been writing for television for several years and performing in nightclubs for nearly a decade when, in 1959, he created José, who appeared for the first time in a sketch on “The Steve Allen Show.” The conceit of the sketch was that José, whose first language was clearly not English, worked as an instructor of department store Santa Clauses. (“Ho ho ho” was written on his blackboard as “Jo jo jo.”) The sketch introduced his signature line, “My name José Jiménez,” which Mr. Dana delivered with such a heavy accent that it came out “ My naing o-ZAY Ee-MAY-nez.”

The character became an immediate hit, and over the next decade Mr. Dana invented a variety of preposterous professions for José, including deep-sea diver, wild animal trainer and, most famously, astronaut. He recorded several hit comedy albums as José (often rendered without accents) and appeared as his alternative self on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “The Andy Williams Show,” “The Hollywood Palace” and even, in a cameo role, “Batman.” A series of his own, “The Bill Dana Show,” on which he played José as a hotel bellhop, aired on NBC from 1963 to 1965.

Mr. Dana always claimed that José, whose nationality was never specified, was a fond portrait of a decent, striving immigrant, and that the comedy was rooted not in ethnic disparagement but in the difficulty of assimilation.

“I’ve always detested a certain type of dialect that’s an unkind caricature,” he said in a 1964 interview with The New York Post. “José is not a caricature. He’s the closest representation of a real human being that I can create.” On another occasion, he explained that José was “not a Latin character” but “a universal character.”
The character was truly beloved in the early 1960s. He even performed at an inaugural event for JFK.



Dana retired the character in 1970. Times changed and what may have seemed sweet and affectionate took on the wrong message — that the type of person represented is dumb. There have been mainstream ethnic characters since that time — Andy Kaufman's Latka and Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat — and you can try to figure out how they got through our heightened defenses. (1. Be a comic genius, 2. Pick an amorphous ethnicity from somewhere very far away and not subject to noticeable discrimination in the United States, 3....)

Also in the obit: Dana wrote comedy for others, including the "Would you believe?" routine used by Don Adams in the TV show "Get Smart."