March 29, 2017

"The pufferfish looks so pleased with itself as it works..."

"... as well it should be."

At the Narrow Gate Café...



... you can talk about anything you want.

These are pictures I took in Arches National Park on March 10th. To get a sense of the scale, notice the human being standing between the rocks in both pictures.

And — if you like this blog and want to support it — please think of using The Althouse Amazon Portal when you have shopping to do.

3 storm chasers die chasing a tornado. And not from the tornado.

"The cause of the crash remained under investigation. It was raining at the time of the collision, and there did not appear to be any tire skid marks, Sgt. John Gonzalez, a department spokesman, said...."
Today, apps on smartphones provide real-time data, making storm chasing a pursuit accessible to all — seasoned professionals and trained meteorologists, as well as homegrown enthusiasts with a thirst for thrills and the celebrity that comes with posting dramatic videos on YouTube.

“That information — available to everyone — says to a lot of people, ‘Let’s go chase this storm,’” [said Tim Marshall, a meteorologist and engineer at an engineering firm in Irving, Tex., who has been chasing severe storms since 1977.] “Back in the early days, I would have a storm to myself. Today, that would not happen.”

"If someone steps down or something changes, I’ll then ask and answer those questions at that time. But right now, no, I’m not running for public office."

Says Chelsea Clinton speaking — in her exquisitely annoying fashion — and purporting to find it "all rather hysterical" that people keep asking if she'll run for office, acting as if she's ending the inquiry, yet obviously keeping alive the hope/fear that she will — if some unstated condition clicks — run for office:

Robot news.

1. "Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs." (NYT)
For every robot per thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs and wages fell by as much as three-fourths of a percent, according to a new paper by the economists, Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University. It appears to be the first study to quantify large, direct, negative effects of robots....
2. "Humans and robots are companion species on this planet. We need each other." (Slate)

3. Tiny girl seems to think a water heater is a robot, attempts to engage with it, is deemed cute by internet.

4. "Ingestible Snake Robot Could Slither Through Your Intestines." (Live Science)
"The external shape of the robot is a 2D projection of a rotating helix. The result is a continuously moving wave. We can simply reverse the direction by reversing the direction of rotation of the motor," said one of the robot's inventors, David Zarrouk, a mechanical engineer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
5. "A robot designed simply to burn every single tweet sent by Mr Trump has amassed thousands of Twitter followers."

"Eleven people who slaughtered a sheep, stripped naked and chained themselves together outside the gates of Auschwitz last week were... not neo-Nazi extremists..."

They were pacifists.

According to prosecutors.

Why did John McCain choose to insult Kim Jong-un at the expense of the mentally ill, the overweight, and the very young?

Whatever loose talk a political official might want to use to talk about world leaders, shouldn't he take into account the collateral damage?

John McCain may properly think Kim Jong-un is terrible, but to call him a "fat crazy kid" is to drag in 3 categories of vulnerable people who shouldn't be used to symbolize worthlessness.

The focus in the press — if I may go by New York Magazine — is on how seriously North Korea takes the dignity of its leader. It issued a statement calling it "grave provocation little short of declaration of war" and threatened retaliation. If it's retaliation in kind, it will only be what we do to our President continually.

But what concerns me is how blithely McCain concocted his insult out of disdain for qualities possessed by millions of Americans who don't deserve the careless swipe. 

"Snappy Fishsuit; Acne Fountain; Sex Fruit; Loser; Fat Meat; Stud Duck; Ghoul Nipple; Number 16 Bus Shelter; Yeah Detroit; Tula Does The Hula In Hawaii; Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk And The Flash Combined; and Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116."

Actual names cited by the lawyer for the Georgia Department of Health in a letter to the ACLU explaining that there is some power of the state to reject names that parents might want to impose on their babies. But the lawyer was also denying that the last name "Allah" was rejected because there was something substantively wrong with the name. The state says the problem is only that the last name on a birth certificate from the Office of Vital Records needs to be either the mother's last name, the father's last name, or some combination of the 2. If you want some other name, you should petition the court for a name change, and any problems with the name will be addressed at that point.

Here's the report in the NYT, which seems to be saying that the ACLU's argument is only based on a provision of the state statutory code that says birth certificates need a name "as designated by both parents." I'd like a link to the whole statutory provision. I guess the fight is over whether parents get to choose a last name as well as a first name at the birth certificate stage. An ACLU lawyer is quoted saying the parents "feel very strongly that they want all of their children to have the same last name." The parents — whose last names are Handy and Walk — already have 2 children with the last name Allah. (One of them is named Masterful Allah.)

Remember when Paul Kantner and Grace Slick named their baby God? False! Grace Slick just said the baby's name was "god" — "We spell it with a small g because we want her to be humble" — but that was just some fluffy blah blah of the time. The baby's name was China.

"The two antiabortion activists who mounted a hidden-camera investigation against Planned Parenthood officials have been charged with 15 felony counts..."

"... of violating the privacy of health-care providers by recording confidential information without their consent. In announcing the charges against David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the duo used manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet medical officials and covertly record the private discussions they initiated.... The secretly recorded conversations dropped during the politically tumultuous summer of 2015, amid a crowded field of Republican presidential contenders, and turned Daleiden into the biggest star of the antiabortion movement.... Daleiden’s lawyer, Steve Cooley, a former district attorney of Los Angeles, blamed the charges on Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), a former attorney general of California whose office initiated the investigation that produced Tuesday’s charges. He claims Harris corrupted the current attorney general’s office to 'pander to her constituents and her supporters.'"

Reports The Washington Post, which embeds the privacy-invading video.

"The next generation would be justified in looking back at us and asking... 'Couldn't you hear what Mother NATURE! was screaming at you?'"

Lots of Trump in that trailer for "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power." And, ironically, Al Gore seems to be trying to TALK! like Trump.

"A man has died after being savaged by his dog while being interviewed by a BBC documentary film crew in north London."

"The man, named locally as Mario Perivoitos, 41, was with the film crew at his home in Wood Green on 20 March when his Staffordshire bull terrier attacked, biting him in the neck."

The police say the documentary was "entirely unrelated" and BBC won't say what the documentary was about.

When you search for song lyrics with the word "nothing," you get... nothing.

Is that some kind of joke*?

There are at least 2 big "nothing" songs: "Nothing Was Delivered" and "Too Much of Nothing." These are songs you can find searching for other words, like "sympathize"...
Nothing was delivered
But I can’t say I sympathize
With what your fate is going to be
Yes, for telling all those lies
... or "freeze"...
Now, too much of nothing
Can make a man feel ill at ease
One man’s temper might rise
While another man’s temper might freeze
In the day of confession
We cannot mock a soul
Oh, when there’s too much of nothing
No one has control
There's also "Beyond Here Lies Nothin'" — and a search of the website for "nothin'" works to find it.
Listen to me pretty baby
Lay your hand upon my head
Beyond here lies nothin'
Nothin' done and nothin' said
I think the nothing result for "nothing" is a deliberate joke.


* Deliberate reference to "Desolation Row" —  "Yes, I received your letter yesterday/(About the time the doorknob broke)/When you asked how I was doing/Was that some kind of joke?"

"Bob Dylan will finally accept his Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm this weekend, the academy has announced."

BBC reports.
The academy said it would meet Dylan, 75, in private in the Swedish capital, where he is giving two concerts. He will not lecture in person but is expected to send a taped version. If he does not deliver a lecture by June, he will have to forfeit the prize money....
From the Nobel website:
In a few days Bob Dylan will visit Stockholm and give two concerts... Please note that no Nobel Lecture will be held. The Academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point.....

The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.

What do you think now of Dylan's approach to the Nobel people? free polls

50 years ago today: 40 children go to a New York publishing company to "Find Out What Their Daddies Do at the Office."

According to the headline in the NYT at the time. (The first sentence of the article includes mothers parenthetically.) It was the idea of the president of Hayden Publishing Company, James S. Mulholland, who said: "I got the idea for the tour from a sociological report I read a few years ago. It theorized that middle-class delinquency, particularly among boys, stems from their not knowing what their fathers do and so not having a model to pattern themselves after."

One of the pictures shows Mulholland with his own son, who "pronounced himself bored by everything but [the] big I.B.M. accounting machine":

We're told the accounting machine was an IBM 401, which I see dates back to 1933 and was "an early entry in a long series of IBM alphabetic tabulators and accounting machines... The 401 added at a speed of 150 cards per minute and listed alphanumerical data at 80 cards per minute." I'm looking for a picture of this thing the boy was prescient enough to love, but here's what a 402 looked like:

"Ann, minute to chat?"

I don't know, Tom. It depends on what the meaning of "chat" is....

Click to enlarge the email I just got from Tom Perez:

That doesn't look like chatting to me. That looks like 7 big red "DONATE" buttons.

You could at least pretend to want to talk to me, Tom. That was such a radical subject-line-to-body-of-the-text switcheroo, Tom, it wounded my sense of belonging. Not that I had any, but you didn't know that. Because you never take the time to chat with me, Tom.

"And gold aviator eyeglasses are one of the sexiest shapes you could possibly wear."

For the annals of sexiest shapes imaginable. Aviator glasses are back in style, we're told in the NYT.

I'm not buying that these glasses are obviously sexy. There's also:
"I think part of the aviator returning is a result of old shows from the 1980s and 1990s that we get to watch on Netflix. It’s fun to look back at ‘Friends’ episodes and ‘Beverly Hills 90210.’ The eyewear of that time is definitely influencing our designers.
There's also:
"One of my style icons is Gloria Steinem, and she’s worn that look forever."
I think it's more like: Once an old style has been abandoned even by old people, it can be reinstalled as new and retro. You put the old style on young models, and it looks cute, the way nerd glasses once did. Then the long process begins: Less stylish people adopt it, even completely out-of-style people are choosing it, and eventually, it will be pushed out by something else seeping slowly into the culture, and it can be picked up again as retro. I think the cycle takes about 50 years.

I don't know why that one quote talks about the 80s and the 90s. Aviator glasses were adopted by stylish people in the 60s. I'll never forget seeing Mort Sahl — the political satirist — on "The Tonight Show" holding up a picture of Gloria Steinem and railing against her, harping specifically on her glasses. As I remember it, he took the position that it was ludicrous to wear aviator glasses unless you were an aviator.

"You may have told Glenn you were a 'sly trickster' but you were only being a sly trickster when you did."

"I think you could more accurately be described as a perceptively independent observer who enjoys pointing out where a generally accepted opinion is, if not wrong necessarily, at least questionable. Contrarians are more indiscriminate. Maybe the word you were looking for was impish."

Wrote Luke Lea in the comments to "I resist Glenn Loury's label for — me — 'contrarian,' explain why, and offer an alternative label, which he then readily slaps on himself."

That felt very accurate to me... except for the suggestion that the right word is "impish."

I wonder if the word "contrarian" felt wrong to me because it seems indiscriminate — like someone who disagrees for the sake of disagreeing. I'm discriminate, but you might not see the way I'm being discriminate. I'd have a little trouble myself explaining exactly what gets me going disagreeing with people, but it has a lot to do with whether those people are pleased with themselves and think they're better than other people because of what they think.* Smugness, self-righteousness, identification as one of the good people, looking down on people who don't agree — that brings out the contrarian in me.

Anyway, "impish"... it means "Having the characteristics of an imp; pertaining to or characteristic of a little devil or mischievous urchin." Sounds "a trifle too satanic" (to quote The Rolling Stones).


* Yesterday was a good example, when everyone was scolding Chuck Schumer for demanding that a rich old lady tell him why she voted for a liar. I said "I think it's nice that Chuck Schumer displays his opinions and personality in full public view." In the comments, I even said "I cop to trolling on this one. Used the word on my own talking to Meade before I read this." ("This" = Paco Wové saying the post needed an "Althouse trolls her commentariat" tag.)

"How the Republicans Sold Your Privacy to Internet Providers."

If you think that NYT headline is an overstatement, explain why.
The bill is an effort by the F.C.C.’s new Republican majority and congressional Republicans to overturn a simple but vitally important concept — namely that the information that goes over a network belongs to you as the consumer, not to the network hired to carry it. It’s an old idea: For decades, in both Republican and Democratic administrations, federal rules have protected the privacy of the information in a telephone call. In 2016, the F.C.C., which I led as chairman under President Barack Obama, extended those same protections to the internet.
I = Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman, 2013-2017.

Yesterday, AT&T forced me to update U-Verse again and bragged about the special features that would give me new "functionality" — I think that was their word — figuring out my tastes and suggesting things I might like. There were 2 buttons and the "accept" button was highlighted. I switched to "reject" and opted out.

AT&T must really want this.

March 28, 2017

"We are not going to be a majority Mormon nation; we are not going to have Utah’s cultural homogeneity."

"But we could have more politicians like Lieutenant Governor Cox, and even more honest and sympathetic conversations about poverty. We could offer more, and better, help to people who need it. Why not look for more promising scripts than the ones played out across the U.S. today? With inspiration from Utah, perhaps the U.S. could inch toward Utah-level mobility — and toward the American Dream."

Writes Megan McArdle, who "went to Utah precisely because it’s weird."

I just went to Utah myself, but I didn't go because it's weird. I went to Utah because it's beautiful.

Capitol Reef National Park

I resist Glenn Loury's label for — me — "contrarian," explain why, and offer an alternative label, which he then readily slaps on himself.

The label is...