June 27, 2017

"Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me."

"One is sometimes asked 'by what right' one presumes to offer judgement. Quo warranto? is a very old and very justified question. But the right and warrant of an individual critic does not need to be demonstrated in the same way as that of a holder of power. It is in most ways its own justification. That is why so many irritating dissidents have been described by their enemies as 'self-appointed.' (Once again, you see, the surreptitious suggestion of elitism and arrogance.) 'Self-appointed' suits me fine. Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me. I can’t be fired any more than I can be promoted. I am happy in the ranks of the the self-employed. If I am stupid or on poor form, nobody suffers but me. To the question, Who do you think you are? I can return the calm response: Who wants to know?"

From "Letters to a Young Contrarian" by Christopher Hitchens.

Samurai armor.

From the exhibit at the Chazen Museum:



You can talk about whatever you want in the comments. I'm ending the morning session of blogging before the sharpness, humor, and insight fade.

(May I just add a reminder that you can support this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal?)

"Keeping his own gray suit immaculate and his tone emotionless, O'Brien calls intermittently on a team of hazmat-suited torturers, issuing such concise instructions as 'Fingertips' or 'Teeth.'"

"Bursts of strobing light and jackhammer sound effects follow those orders, but even though we see the bloody aftermath and not the acts, the carnage is not for the faint of heart. Even worse is the ghastly anticipation fed by O'Brien's one vivid description of the ultimate torture, which plays on Winston's pathological fear of rats to make him surrender all sense of self.... There's no doubt that this imaginative production conveys the claustrophobic terror of a totalitarian state. But, especially right now, when many of us read the news each morning with a sick feeling of dread, who wants to go there?"

From a review of a New York play based on Orwell's "1984."

From "Why Broadway's '1984' Audiences Are Fainting, Vomiting and Getting Arrested":
The cast knew how the shocking scenes would be presented, but “it wasn’t until we got in front of an audience, when I saw and heard people responding, that I was suddenly aware of how powerful it was,” said Reed Birney, who has previously yelled back at a ticketholder who pleaded for his character to stop the torture. Meanwhile, Tom Sturridge, whose character bleeds heavily while being electrocuted, told THR that he makes a point of staring into the eyes of individual audience members, calling them “complicit” as they watch him suffer onstage.
That seems to be inciting audience members to come up on stage and save the character. I'm thinking of that protest at the "Julius Caesar" performance recently where a woman went up on the stage and denounced the performance. Here, the actors are breaking the 4th wall and begging the people in the audience for help. 

The travails of a puppeteer.

"The White Man Who Was Inside the Black/Rasta/Mammy Puppet at the Fremont Parade Says He Is Not a Racist."
I am the anonymous puppeteer who had the large black puppet in the Solstice Parade, and got such a public drubbing for being racist.... I fully intended for my puppet to portray in the most positive and upful way the contribution of people of color to the celebratory spirit of humanity.

One lady (white) came up at parade beginning and said that because I was white my puppet was racist—I was hurt surprised and shocked. I thought she was maybe a little nuts (from that Trump guy being president, all the shootings of black people, and the general rise of open racism recently). I told her I did not share her perspective on my puppet but she was having none of it....

Behind me a bare assed Trump statue was flipping everyone off—was this why people thought I also was disrespecting them? I never felt so misunderstood in my life....

What's the most disgusting thing about this Looper video, "Actors Who Were Drunk During Filming"?

I'll give you my answer later.

ADDED: The commenter Virgil Hilts essentially got it, in this comment that went up 9 minutes after the post (and it took 6 minutes to watch the video):
Thinking like Ann -- wow, the only examples they could come up with for actresses related to shooting sex scenes.

Thinking like most men -- wow, why didn't they show the actual sex scenes from the movies involving the drunk actresses.
Yes, all — I think all — of the actresses had used alcohol to get through sex scenes. There was variety to the stories of the male actors, and I don't think any of it had to do with sex (or even with overcoming inhibition caused by the ordeal the script imposed on them (unless you count Omar Sharif's fear of falling off a camel)).

Meade says that morning posts and morning comments are the best — sharp, humorous, insightful.

Later in the day, the quality declines, and at night... look out.

Is Meade right?
pollcode.com free polls

Project Veritas captures a CNN exec agreeing that the Russia narrative is "bullshit" and volunteering that it's all about ratings.

As the Project Veritas website puts it: "CNN is actively plotting a fake news campaign, aimed squarely at Trump--and Project Veritas just caught them red-handed."

"This 3,000-Year-Old Wooden Toe Shows Early Artistry of Prosthetics."

"Crafted from leather and wood, the ancient Egyptian prosthesis was was adjusted to precisely fit its wearer’s foot."

"Between new shops, expansions, and menu upgrades, 2017 is set to be the breakout year for edible cookie dough."

"Dō — based in New York City, where there is a line for everything — certainly garnered a lot of publicity during its January opening, but it wasn’t the only doughy debut of the year. In February, Tart Sweets bakery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, started selling its dough in 'doughwiches' and by the scoop through its cookie dough bar.... Earlier this year, Yoyo Berri frozen yogurt shops in Nebraska and South Dakota started offering raw cookie dough to liven up yesterday’s snack craze...."

Eater reports, giving the answer to my main question and using that word I've told you not to use.

My main question about eating cookie dough is: What about the problem of raw eggs and salmonella? The answer is they use "pasteurization and heat treatment" — i.e., the eggs are not raw. So if you like your cooked eggs with lots of sugar and flour mixed in, you're ready to enjoy this trendy dessert.

The word I told you not to use is, of course, "garner."

Urban Dictionary Word of the Day: Broflake.

"Straight white male offended by any feminist or ethnic activity which is not directly designed for him."

"Zillow is threatening to sue me if I don’t delete most of the posts on this blog."

Says McMansion Hell (a very funny and useful blog).

ADDED: The blogger is not deleting the blog. Start here and scroll to see the posts. I'm pretty sure I've linked to it before. If you like mockery of bad architecture and interior decoration, it's great.

Reason.com presents LSD Microdosing as "The New Silicon Valley Productivity Hack."

That's mostly an interview with George Burke, who takes a tenth of a "typical dose" of LSD every day.
"I notice that my brain seems to be able to solve problems a little bit better than...before," says Burke, who runs a startup called Fuel that helps its clients custom tailor their diets to their unique genetic makeups.
I notice that his noticing is under the influence of LSD and that he's subtly acknowledging that by saying "my brain seems...." Why should we believe his perception? I'd like to see some scientific studies of how LSD affects problem solving ability.

Also, Burke talks about taking medication for ADHD and LSD working as a substitute for that drug. So he's struggling with something that is or has been diagnosed as a mental disorder. He's not beginning at normal/"normal" and edging away from that, but at disordered and attempting to replace whatever drug someone in the medical profession prescribed.

So the video isn't very convincing except as an appeal to freedom: We should be allowed to experiment with our own brains. We feel strongly entitled to affect our mind through reading, talking, and thinking about ideas, whether these ideas are at all likely to be useful or true and even if the ideas are shown to be plainly false and actively dangerous. If you can read, say, "Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose," why can't you take a daily microdose of LSD? Whatever the actual value of either of these things to the human mind — even if it's nothing or less — it's a matter of freedom of thought, and it belongs in the realm of the individual.

June 26, 2017

Obama "didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."

4 Trump tweets from a few hours ago:

1. "The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win.."

2. "...and did not want to 'rock the boat.' He didn't 'choke,' he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good."

3. "The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia..."

4. "..under a magnifying glass, they have zero 'tapes' of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!"

Police seem to confirm what most viewers of the viral video were saying.

That girl was to blame for falling out of the Sky Ride gondola.

Of course, it was decent and good for people to gather underneath and risk injury to catch her, even if she was to blame for getting herself into that dangling-from-a-gondola predicament.

Here was a memorable comment that appeared on the WaPo article that appeared yesterday (before the police blamed the girl):
As a past ride operator at an amusement park I am going to chime in here. The way she was situated at the beginning of the video suggests to me she somehow got herself into that predicament. I'm not saying definitively this is true. But, I've seen people do pretty risky things on rides. One trick is to lift your knees as the staff is checking the bars are secure. This allows the bar to not be as tight as it should be. I've caught hundreds of people doing that in my years as a ride operator. Another thing people do is try to rock carriages to scare each other. I don't know if it is possible on that ride. In terms on the knee bar lift, it is the responsibility of the ride staff to catch people doing it. It is also the responsibility of the staff to not let people ride who are super anxious. Who knows if she was or not. At the end of the day, I'm sooo happy she is ok! How amazing the people who caught her!....

"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?


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 lawn. 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...


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:


"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-wandering/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.

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.