May 24, 2017

Iris gets ready to overtake the allium...


... in Meade's garden.

This Washington Post article — "How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe" — is extremely hard to read.

I needed to read it out loud with Meade and discuss it sentence-by-sentence and almost word-by-word. It took me at least 10 minutes to get past the first 2 sentences.

So I don't have the time or patience to parse through this entire thing, and I encourage you to read it carefully and try to figure out what the Washington Post is trying to pump up or minimize, who's lying or stretching the truth, and whether the underlying story in the document has any element of truth to it. Why did 3 of the 4 key characters named in the document flatly deny everything and one refused to speak?*

If everyone always thought the document was unreliable,** why is it being held up now as having had an effect on Comey's decision to go public in July? There's an idea that he was afraid that the Russians would be able to dump this story after Lynch took a position, undercutting her authority. But why did it help for Comey to go public first? The story could still have been dumped on him, undercutting his authority (though it wasn't).

It seems that Comey just knew about a (fake?) story that the Russians could dump if and when they wanted. What exactly was he afraid of and why are we hearing about it now? And how do I know the story wasn't true? It sounds like something that could have happened... in which case, why tell us about it? What's the motivation to leak a story about a fake story if everyone always thought it was fake? Is it that the story is true and they're trying to get out ahead of it with some sort of reason why we should perceive it as fake?

We're told that several of the "people familiar with the Russian document" — anonymous people who aren't supposed to talk about it — are — in the words of the Washington Post — "concerned that revealing details now about the document could be perceived as an effort to justify Trump’s decision to fire Comey." So, there's a document that might help Trump, but they want to make sure that it's only used to — to what? — help Comey? Why are they revealing it when they're not supposed to? We're told these people support Comey, but then shouldn't it be clear how this document explains why Comey did what he did last July? It's certainly not clear. It seems to have had more to do with protecting Loretta Lynch and helping the Clinton campaign, and I don't know who it helps now. If it doesn't help the people you want to help, why are you leaking?

The more labyrinthine it feels, the more I lean toward accepting the story that Debbie Wasserman Shultz really did write that email. And in the current manner of doing political analysis — when it's aimed against Trump — I could say let Wasserman Shultz prove she didn't do that.

And this really puzzled me:
While it was conducting the Clinton email investigation, the FBI did not interview anyone mentioned in the Russian document about its claims. 
Why not?! We're supposed to believe that the document had a big effect and 3 of the 4 people named in it would flatly deny what it said, but they were never asked? Why not? Either it's just a crap document that no one ever believed or it needed to be checked out. The only other option seems to be that they didn't want to know whether it was true. Why not?

I feel as though I have to try to unravel the WaPo report because I cannot trust WaPo to do anything other than to try to hurt Donald Trump.*** I have to take it apart and put it back together in some guess at what might be a straight story.

* The document says that there is email from Debbie Wasserman Schultz (then DNC chair) to Leonard Benardo (of George Soros's Open Society Foundations) saying that Loretta Lynch had assured Amanda Renteria (a senior Clinton campaign staffer) that — as WaPo puts it — "the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter." Wasserman Schultz, Leonard Benardo, Amanda Renteria all deny, and Loretta Lynch won't talk about it. And yet we are told that Lynch did meet with FBI officials, and that she told them — in what was not a formal interview — "I don’t know this person [Renteria] and have never communicated with her." If that is correct, why wouldn't she acknowledge as much when WaPo tried to talk to her for this article?

** I'm assuming that there is a document and that it's from the Russians, but that's just what the Washington Post tells me its unnamed sources are telling them.

*** I'm thinking about what I heard Bob Woodward say this morning on C-SPAN:
“There is this kind of sense of too many people writing things like—when is the impeachment coming, how long will it last, will he make it through the summer, and so forth. No, there may be stuff that comes out, but it has to be hard evidence. I worry for the business and I worry for the perception of the business by people, not to just Trump supporters, but people that see that kind of smugness that they are talking about.”

"Demanding that women smile is akin to suggesting that women are not entitled to be in charge of their own emotional life."

"But for women who live the greater part of their lives in the public eye, smiling is a kind of code for being not only engaged, but also being engaging. For a woman who was once a model, who ostensibly is practiced in the art of nonverbal communication, the willingness to forgo a grin seems less like an accident and more like the tiniest declaration of personal control and rebellion. She is here for you, but she is not going to perform for you."

Writes Robin Givhan, about Melania Trump, under a headline that struck me as comical juxtaposed with the photograph:

I'm not sure where the "control and containment" is supposed to be — maybe in the constricting leather skirt or maybe it's something she's extracting from the President who scampers at her heel — but from the waist up, I'm seeing a more freewheeling style, an eschewing of a fully controlled structure. I'm not criticizing this choice, I'm just saying this isn't the Jackie Kennedy choice of clothing as armor, but a stretchy sweater over something less than the most rigid undergarments. I see an amusing combo of loose and tight.

The headline is probably not written by Givhan. I'm just poking fun at WaPo there. I mainly wanted to show you that part about women smiling, which is a long-term feminist issue. It's sexist to tell women to smile,* so what do you do when you want to comment on Melania's unsmiling face? Givhan reads it as "the tiniest declaration of personal control and rebellion," which sounds as though she — in her own little way — is part of the female resistance against Trump.

* See "The Sexism of Telling Women to Smile: Your Stories," "Why you shouldn't tell a woman to smile," "Telling a woman to smile may seem like an innocent request, but there's a darker undertone," "It’s Important For Men to Understand That They Need To Stop Telling Women to Smile," "The Sexism Behind Telling Women to Smile," "Why We Should Stop Telling Women to Smile," "'Stop Telling Women To Smile' Goes National," "'Stop telling women to smile.'"

At the Allium Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please consider supporting this blog by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"Michelle Obama proves there is a grown-up way to do the cold shoulder trend."

No, this is not an article about how — unlike Melania Trump* — Michelle Obama has a good way to keep her husband from touching her, it's about that not-dead-quite-yet fashion trend of wacky necklines that expose the shoulder.

And I have no idea why this particular blouse of Michelle's is supposed to look "grown-up" — or why children are getting blamed for what has always looked to me like just a last-ditch effort to find a new approach to baring female flesh. Okay, we did midriffs, we did lower back, we did ass cheeks, so... how about shoulders? Yes, let's break out the shoulders! Most women want to wear bras and most bras have shoulder straps, so it's at least a challenge of some sort, even if no one's too fixated on shoulders, but maybe they once were.

There was a 1931 movie "White Shoulders":

And not long after that, Evyan introduced White Shoulders perfume:
Actually it is probably the iconic American fragrance. Classified as a Floral Aldehyde, it is: beautiful, sweet, sexy, powdery, radiant, maternal, refined, approachable, fresh, gracious and warm but at [its] core — very "night"...

Anyway, sorry to veer over into all that whiteness. The correct answer — I think — to why the UK Telegraph article characterizes Michelle Obama as "proving" that the bared shoulder look can be worn in a "grown-up way" is simply that Michelle Obama is doing it. In syllogistic form: Whatever Michelle Obama does is grown up, Michelle Obama is wearing a "cold shoulder" garment, therefore it is possible to wear the "cold shoulder" look in a grown-up way.

* Twice, Melania has been shown on video seemingly rejecting Trump's effort to hold hands with her. She doesn't just let him (to coin a phrase — have you ever heard that phrase? I just came up with it!). And speaking of Melania, did you see that she (and Ivanka) wore a black veil on her head to meet the Pope? She didn't cover her head for the Muslims, but she covered her head for the Catholics? I'd say, she didn't cover her head for the political leaders in Saudi Arabia, but she did cover her head for the religious leader in the Vatican. As for the flicking away of her husband's hand, I'd defend her this way: He has expressive hands and instinctive affection, but she is a model, more concerned with appearances and focused on walking with professional elegance in high heels and not getting thrown off balance. There's a bit of a conflict there, and the subtle flick of the wrist would normally go unnoticed, and it would work just fine. But a million eyes are scanning each microsecond of video, and the tiniest gestures will be detected and magnified. And if they want to use you to show that your husband is hateful, they will find whatever they can. Just as anything Michelle Obama does can count as how to be a "grown up" — or whatever the hell — anything Melania does might count as evidence that Trump is loathsome.

"Mushrooms are the safest of all the drugs people take recreationally, according to this year’s Global Drug Survey."

"Of the more than 12,000 people who reported taking psilocybin hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2016, just 0.2% of them said they needed emergency medical treatment – a rate at least five times lower than that for MDMA, LSD and cocaine."
“Magic mushrooms are one of the safest drugs in the world,” said Adam Winstock, a consultant addiction psychiatrist and founder of the Global Drug Survey....

“Death from toxicity is almost unheard of with poisoning with more dangerous fungi being a much greater risk in terms of serious harms.”
What about the problem of people foraging for hallucinogenic mushrooms and picking toxic mushrooms by mistake? It doesn't sound as though the study counts that against hallucinogenic mushrooms. But I guess all of these statistics are complicated by the illegality of the drug. When is the visit to the emergency room because of something that could have been avoided if the drug were sold legally, with assurances of purity and known doses?
“Drug laws need to balance the positives and problems they can create in society and well crafted laws should nudge people to find the right balance for themselves,” said Winstock.

“People don’t tend to abuse psychedelics, they don’t get dependent, they don’t rot every organ from head to toe, and many would cite their impact upon their life as profound and positive. But you need to know how to use them.”

The argument that anti-male talk on campus creates a hostile educational environment in violation of Title IX.

Is that the argument Glenn Reynolds is making here, or is he only saying that campus "diversity workshops" should give equal time to the problem anti-male talk?

Examples of anti-male talk that the shapers of campus speech should address:  "toxic masculinity," "testosterone poisoning," "frat boy," "bro." And then there's the problem of "rape-gendering":
[I]t’s sexist — and in light of data from the Centers for Disease Control showing rough equality here, it’s scientifically inaccurate — to pretend that sexual coercion on campus is strictly, or even largely, a male-on-female phenomenon. Discussions of sexual assault that assume a male perpetrator and a female victim, or the use of phrases like “Teach men not to rape,” constitute the gendering of a crime that is in fact committed by people of all genders. That is not okay.
Another alternative, not discussed in the linked essay, is to back off on diversity instruction and let the free-speech market do its work. 

Shillong — the Indian town that loves Bob Dylan.

From Charuskesi Ramadurai in the UK Independent:
Dylan has never visited – in fact, he’s never performed in India and is thought to have visited only once, for a wedding – but the people of Shillong don’t care. For several decades now, the city has hosted an informal celebratory concert every year on his birthday: 24 May.
(Happy birthday, Bob.)
The annual tradition was started in 1972 by local celebrity Lou Majaw – known as the grand old musician of Shillong, and homegrown Dylan fan – some say fanatic.... This 70-going-on-17-year-old musician regularly performs Dylan’s songs at some of the most popular pubs and cafés in town....
Here's a documentary about Majaw and Shillong:

"Two homeless men... Steve Jones and Chris Parker, were in the area to sleep and beg for money."

Steve Jones: "We had to pull nails out of children's faces."

Chris Parker: "I saw a little girl… she had no legs. I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said 'where’s your mum and daddy?'"

From "The two homeless heroes who helped Manchester attack victims."

IN THE COMMENTS: Paul Zrimsek attacks the very poorly written headline:
"The two homeless heroes who helped Manchester attack victims."

So it wasn't ISIS after all?

You'd think a place the size of Manchester would be capable of attacking a bunch of little girls without the aid of vagrants.

"Like some bizarre parody of a Trump rally, a belligerent man in a 'Make America Great Again' hat was booted off a plane in Shanghai Sunday..."

"... defiantly waving as a crowd of passengers jeered in the terminal: 'Lock him up! Lock him up!,'" WaPo reports.
“Obviously, the hat provoked some of the stuff,” said Alexis Zimmerman, who was flying back to Newark from a business trip... “He wanted to sit in the whole row by himself,” Zimmerman said.

Her video shows him leaning back in his seat — hands folded behind his red hat, feet propped on someone else’s arm rest — while a woman in crutches and many others stand in the aisle, snap photos and glare....

The man said he was a diabetic, Zimmerman said. But at one point, passengers said, he also dared the flight crew to cuff him and drag him off the plane — reminding other passengers of last month’s infamous deplaning, amid a barrage of in-plane horror stories that have plagued United and the rest of the airline industry in recent years....

“He was trying to explain to the crew and captain … because he had points, he felt he deserved an upgrade,” he said. “So this was his way of getting it.”
The Trump angle is interesting, and (unsurprisingly) the video shows the incident beginning after things had cranked up, but I'm not surprised if passengers behave badly, given the incentive of special treatment (upgrades) and nervous fear-of-litigation payoffs. 

IN THE COMMENTS: Matthew Sablan said:
Does the author know what a parody is? Where's the comic exaggeration? What is funny about "lock him up?" That's not parody; that's irony.

"It’s unclear whether Chinese police did jail the man or who he was." -- If we don't know who he was... what's the story?
Ah! This is why I have a tag "MSM reports what's in social media." The story is that something's in social media. And that's the end of it. La la la. How funny!
I mean, the guy sounds like a nutjob, if we believe everything that these people reported.

I mean... really? The guy wearing the MAGA hat engages in every leftist stereotype, even the cackling "I wasted your time!" like a cartoon villain?

"The man remained defiant until the end — jeered in multiple languages, surrounded by police, he finally walked down the concourse and out of sight to an unknown fate."

WHY is his fate unknown? You're a Goddamned News Reporter. If you're going to report this, at least have the bleepin' nerve to do your job and follow up on the story to find out WHO this guy is, WHAT happened to him, etc. As it is, this sounds like an urban legend, or maybe the Chinese disappeared the MAGA Man. Who knows? Who cares! WaPo got to publish a 5-minute hate.

Why don't we hear from the female passenger he berated, or the one he called a lesbian?

So many questions that a decent reporter could solve.
MSM is just traipsing along after social media, thinking that's what we must want. It will do that, then suddenly reel around and yell at us for not wanting to receive our news as curated by professional journalists.

May 23, 2017

"One of the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the Crusaders in the city of Manchester."

ISIS claims credit.

ADDED: "[T]he man who blew himself up the previous night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, was 23-year-old Salman Abedi, who was known to British authorities prior to the attack."
There was security at the concert, but the bomber apparently didn't try to get into the venue, instead blowing himself up in an entrance foyer area as concertgoers flooded out of the arena. Prime Minister May said the attacker had deliberately chosen "his time and place to cause maximum carnage" in the young crowd.

Goodbye to Roger Moore.

"Mr. Moore was the oldest Bond ever hired, taking on the role when he was 46. (Sean Connery, who originated the film character and with whom Mr. Moore was constantly compared, was 33.) He also had the longest run in the role, beginning in 1973 with 'Live and Let Die”' and winding up in 1985 with 'A View to a Kill.'"

ADDED: I don't know if I've ever blogged the obituary of a movie star whose movies I have never seen. The last James Bond movie I saw was "Diamonds Are Forever," the last Sean Connery Bond movie, which we went to see as basically a joke. It was 1971, and we thought James Bond was absurdly passé. So I never saw Moore as Bond or any of the other later Bonds. And I've looked over the list of Moore's movies, and I haven't seen a single one. I might have seen him in some late 50s/early 60s TV shows. (He appeared in a couple episodes of "77 Sunset Strip," which I watched, and I might have followed the season of "Maverick" with Beauregard Maverick.) I really feel no connection to Moore, but I'm guessing some of you may care a lot and want a place to talk about him, so here it is.

"Many of the commenters here show a bad trend in commenting. I wasn't awake and attempting to moderate..."

"... but I would like those who participated here to reflect on the dynamic among the commenters and let me know" — I wrote in the comments — "whether you see what I am talking about, whether you unwittingly contributed, whether you got off causing this to happen, or something in between. I would like to see comments that address the substance of the post, and this idea of calling out each other by name and doggedly insisting on always taking another shot and naming somebody who also needs to get the last shot, drives up the quantity of comments but makes them unreadable to anybody who's not among the named. If your name keeps coming up multiple times in comments threads, you are contributing to what I regard as a comments disease, and you need to help stop it or I will see you as doing it intentionally. It's shameful that you let this happen in a post about children being murdered.... If you keep finding yourself in what I call 'back and forth,' you need a new approach to commenting. There are a few people who regularly end up getting named in long back and forth and it's incredibly boring to read. I don't want that here. If you're one of these commenters and you don't understand why this is happening to you, then my advice is to think: substance.... Make your points alongside other people's points. You can respond to what other people say, but respond to the substance. Don't make it personal.... I'm only talking about the way people who are here in the comments name each other and go back and forth in a personal way. Instead of disagreeing with the substance, they frame their comment in the 'Jane, you ignorant slut' format...."

"The Democratic National Committee reported its worst April of fundraising since 2009..."

"... according to Federal Election Commission records released Monday."
[T]he drop in donations coincides with an effort by DNC Chair Tom Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to rally support for the party. The two traveled the country on a "unity tour."
The DNC raised $4.7 million in April. Meanwhile, the RNC raised $9.6 million in April. The RNC has $41 million cash on hand. and the DNC $8.8 million. But Trump's in trouble. Wait for those midterms. The Dems will flip the House and the Senate. That's what I read in the MSM.

Incredible people and amazing monuments.

Trump spoke yesterday at the private residence of Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. Full transcript here. Excerpts:
[T]hank you for that beautiful tour. Melania is still talking about it.... This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God. I’ve been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites, and the generosity of your incredible people. Because it’s all about the people....
The themes are: 1. Love for the human beings, and 2. Respect for what is inanimate, this place. Everyone knows love for human beings come first. Here they are in this beautiful place. And he just came from another beautiful place:
In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including King Salman, who treated us so beautifully and really wants to see great things happen for the world. He really does. I got to know him well, and he really does.
Really, really, really. Love, love, love. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
We are willing to work together. I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen.... It’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope.
Deals. That's his special skill. Making deals. But out there in his business life, he was on one side, trying to close a deal if he could get a good one and also willing to walk away. Here, he's the mediator between 2 sides, not making a deal of his own, and there's nowhere to walk away to, just an endless unmade deal in the same old place. But it's a beautiful, amazing place. Melania is still talking about it.

Those 2 words together like that.

Is it a big deal?
The Obama administration at least twice – in 2011 and then again last year – corrected photo captions and datelines that had read “Jerusalem, Israel” to “Jerusalem,” reflecting longstanding executive branch policy that the city should not be described as being in any country until there is a final status agreement. (Congress recognized the city as Israel’s capital in 1995.)

The George W. Bush administration also routinely captioned photos and listed the city on schedules and in news releases as simply “Jerusalem.”

As a candidate, Trump pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, but since assuming the presidency he has retreated.
Maybe it was just — as with Obama — a mistake.

ADDED: In July 2012, when he was running for office, Mitt Romney said: “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel."
That was a powerful statement, Jennifer Rubin writes, since the Obama administration has "repeatedly put out documents suggesting that Jerusalem isn’t in Israel and has attempted to scrub from the White House Web site the reference to Israel’s capital."

"If you have good luck with your instincts, you might as well trust them. It’s an emotional art form. It’s not an intellectual art form at all."

Said Clint Eastwood, talking about movies and himself, but he could also be talking about politics and Trump.

He also talked about humorlessness in connection with himself and movies...
“A lot of people thought ['Dirty Harry'] was politically incorrect. That was at the beginning of the era that we’re in now, where everybody thinks everyone’s politically correct. We’re killing ourselves by doing that. We’ve lost our sense of humor."
... and that could also be about politics and Trump.

Now, that doesn't mean that if Eastwood is right about his approach to movies that Trump is right about his approach to politics. Movies and politics are different! One man's movie could fail and it doesn't really matter except to him and to whoever invested in his project. We're all invested — whether we chose him or not — in the President of the United States.

To some extent, it's good for a politician to think that because he's had "good luck with [his] instincts" that he "might as well trust them." That seems like a pretty good statement of how Trump blew past 16 GOP rivals and made the final leap over the keeled-over shell of a woman that the Dems put up for a candidate. But to continue with nothing but trusting instincts and good luck when you're actually President — that would be utterly unethical. I'm not saying that is what Trump is doing, just that it better not be what he's doing.

The least relaxing thing about this work chair setup...

It looks like a dentist's office.

Waldkita — forest kindergarten — in Germany.

There are 1,500 of them in Germany.
Most have opened in the last 15 years and are usually located in the city’s parks, with a bare-bones structure serving as a sort of home base, but others... rely on public transportation to shuttle their charges daily out into the wilderness, where they spend most of the day, regardless of weather. Toys, typically disparaged at waldkitas, are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves. A 2003 Ph.D. dissertation by Peter Häfner at Heidelberg University showed that graduates of German forest kindergartens had a “clear advantage” over the graduates of regular kindergartens, performing better in cognitive and physical ability, as well as in creativity and social development.

The American journalist Richard Louv, who coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in his 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods,” is cited often by Robin Hood staff, as is “Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature,” by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown. (“Savage Park,” by Amy Fusselman, is another book that chronicles uninhibited play and was inspired by a visit to an adventure playground in Tokyo.) The pedagogical philosophy of waldkitas, which privileges outdoor play and hands-on environmental learning, comes originally from Scandinavia, but, as one teacher put it to me, “they don’t make a big fuss about it like they do here.” The trend’s non-Teutonic origins are somewhat surprising: There might be nothing “more German” than a state-funded preschool based primarily in a forest....
I strongly support this approach to childhood education, but writing about it this morning — after the Ariana Grande concert, which was full of little girls — a sad thought occurred to me. Children who are outdoors never have to run for narrow exits and get crushed by larger people pressing toward the doorways. If you stay outside, it's easier to get away, and you'll be in the habit of moving with quick agility. And yet, the biggest terrorist attack that targeted children — that I can think of — took place in an outdoor setting — on a 26-acre, forested island.

May 22, 2017

"At least one explosion, which may have been a suicide bombing, thundered through a Manchester concert arena on Monday night just as a performance by the pop star Ariana Grande ended..."

"... in what the police described as a 'terrorist incident.' They said at least 19 people had been killed and 50 wounded as panicked spectators, including adolescents, screamed and fled."

The Washington Post writes an ambiguous headline.

"Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership."

When I opened the tag for that article (hours ago) I assumed that the professor got his membership terminated, but now I see I am wrong.
An Alexandria gym terminated the membership of white nationalist Richard Spencer last week after he was confronted by a Georgetown University professor who recognized him and lambasted him over his alt-right views.
Why was the person who got confronted terminated?

The professor, C. Christine Fair, of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, asked Spencer if he was Richard Spencer, and when he denied it (because he didn't want trouble, she said: "Of course you are, so not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi." And: "I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap... As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable."

Finally, as the professor tells it, the general manager told her she was creating a "hostile environment" at the gym, and "Fair responded that Spencer’s views create a 'hostile environment' for gym employees who are women and people of color." But later:
Fair said she was contacted by a corporate representative for the gym last week, who informed her that Spencer’s membership had been terminated. The gym wanted her to come in to provide more information about the incident.“I’d do it again,” she said of the episode. “I told the fellow, ‘I think we can have a deal here: You don’t let any more Nazis in, and I won’t be making a scene.’ ”

The work of thinking about doing the work.

The "mental load."

ADDED: Here's what I recommend doing if you find yourself in the household "manager" position, putting all the mental effort into noticing what needs to be done and planning ahead. Explain the issue to the other person. Talk about it. It's possible that he's carrying a mental load consisting of things you are not keeping track of. It's something you don't see each other doing. But if it's really true that he's only ever waiting to be asked, use your acquired manager position to assign him a fair share of tasks. Give him more than you keep for yourself to balance out the mental work. It's pretty easy nowadays — isn't it? — to text a list of things he needs to do. If a lot of your work is going about the house noticing and doing little things — such as picking up clutter — that are more work to assign than to do, just give him enough of the big tasks to compensate and equalize. If this managerial assigning approach is objected to, then he wasn't just waiting to be asked, so you've at least punctured that illusion.

"Are we able to stay at home and explore the meaning of the things around us, at least until the world has gotten a little more 'normal' again? "

"Pierre Bayard, a professor and psychoanalyst in Paris... may provide us with some additional requisite know-how on how to not lose face and even be comfortable with staying at home. In How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel, he dissects the reports of the likes of Marco Polo, Jules Verne, Karl May, on minute details of geographies they had never visited, to tell the reader they were wrong. He exposes the alternative reality they unfolded, but he doesn’t blame them: 'Ill-equipped to defend itself against wild animals, inclement weather or illness, the human body is clearly not made for leaving its usual habitat and even less so for traveling to lands far removed from those where God intended us to live.' And: 'We know from Freud and the works of other psychiatrists who have studied various travelers’ syndromes that traveling a long way from home is not only liable to provoke psychiatric problems: it can also drive you mad.'"

From "Between Everywhere and Nowhere/A little review of travel literature," by Bernd Brunner, which I'm reading mostly because it has something about Paul Theroux — "one of the grand doyens of travel writing... His passion for the foreign appears to have been lost, if only partly so" — whose novel "The Mosquito Coast" I started reading after seeing it likened to a movie I loved ("Captain Fantastic").

But I got interested in Bayard, and added How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel to my Kindle. Love the title, and I'm fascinated by the critique of travel, since I love to read and feel prodded to travel, and reading is so much faster and simpler than traveling.*

I had the vague feeling that I'd blogged about that book before, but it was another book by Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, which I blogged about without reading.


* You know me, I'm not up for a challenge.

"Suddenly, male actors who make other kinds of movies are ageing into mid-career obsolescence as quickly as female actors once did."

"The idea that ageism has caught up with their tiresome rock-star behaviour is almost as satisfying as watching Meryl Streep cruise nobly into her late 60s with a full dance card of upcoming productions."

Big game hunter dies...

... when an elephant that had been shot falls on top of him.

"There's an image I really want to do with that Trump orb thing."

I said earlier this morning, after starting the day with a post about the Trump orb and then a post about that statue of Karl Marx — you can see it here — that China gave to Trier, German (Marx's birthplace).

I still haven't taught myself how to photoshop 2 images together, but my complaint about how I was too lazy to learn somehow lit a fire under Rick Lee, and he made this:

Rick Lee is a professional photographer. You can see his website here.

And I know you might ask what that new image is even supposed to mean. Uh... late capitalism!

ADDED: Since Rick is a professional photographer, accepting this image made me think of something I saw yesterday that amused me: "Tired Of Being Asked To Work For Free, This Artist Started Drawing These Client Requests."

"I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian."

"Does he really do the things that he's saying or is that his act? And in Donald's case, I equated it that way. When he said what he said, I'd like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I'd have called the FBI."

Billy Bush speaks.

I think a lot of people don't get Trump's statements because they don't understand the humor. But why should they? They don't want to let him off the hook more than they don't want to look like they have no sense of humor.

There's the famous feminist punchline: That's not funny

I think it's important to perceive the humor, so you can understand why he says some of the weird things he does. You don't have to think it's funny or have a taste for that kind of humor, but you should understand that it is humor, unless you have some reason to want to stand on your obtuseness. It could serve some political purpose that you like, perhaps for yourself, perhaps for others. But if you can understand how a statement is humor and you engage in speech that treats it as if it is intended to be taken seriously because you find it useful for other people not to see the humor, you are a propagandist.

"A precedent of this Court should not be treated like a disposable household item—say, a paper plate or napkin — to be used once and then tossed in the trash."

"But that is what the Court does today in its decision regarding North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District: The Court junks a rule adopted in a prior, remarkably similar challenge to this very same congressional district."

Writes Justice Alito in the dissenting opinion to Cooper v. Harris, a 5-3 opinion released today.

About that Orb...

"Here it is..."

A hit of the Orb to MisterBuddwing, in the comments to "The Orb," about that Orb...

Morning light and shadows...

... on Meade's alliums:




Trump at the Western Wall.

Raw video:

"It is important to note that Mr. Albee wrote Nick as a Caucasian character, whose blonde hair and blue eyes are remarked on frequently in the play, even alluding to Nick’s likeness as that of an Aryan of Nazi racial ideology."

“Furthermore, Mr. Albee himself said on numerous occasions when approached with requests for nontraditional casting in productions of ‘Virginia Woolf’ that a mixed-race marriage between a Caucasian and an African-American would not have gone unacknowledged in conversations in that time and place and under the circumstances in which the play is expressly set by textual references in the 1960s."

Said the letter from the estate of Edward Albee, quoted in a NYT article about the refusal to grant rights for a Portland, Oregon production "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" with a black actor cast in the secondary role of Nick (the character George Segal played in the movie with Richard Burton in the leading male role).

"Why the Phrase 'Late Capitalism' Is Suddenly Everywhere/An investigation into a term that seems to perfectly capture the indignities and absurdities of the modern economy."

By Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic.
A job advertisement celebrating sleep deprivation? That’s late capitalism. Free-wheeling Coachella outfits that somehow all look the same and cost thousands of dollars? Also late capitalism. Same goes for this wifi-connected $400 juicer that does no better than human hands, Pepsi’s advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, United Airlines’ forcible removal of a seated passenger who just wanted to go home, and the glorious debacle that was the Fyre Festival. The phrase—ominous, academic, despairing, sarcastic—has suddenly started showing up everywhere.

This publication has used “late capitalism” roughly two dozen times in recent years, describing everything from freakishly oversized turkeys to double-decker armrests for steerage-class plane seats. The New Yorker is likewise enamored of it, invoking it in discussions of Bernie Sanders and fancy lettuces, among other things. There is a wildly popular, year-old Reddit community devoted to it, as well as a Facebook page, a Tumblr, and a lively Twitter hashtag. Google search interest in its has more than doubled in the past year....
Read the whole thing to understand how the usage of the term has changed over time. It used to be more of an intellectual, analytical, dark Marxist term. Now, it's more just gesturing at various absurdities of whatever it is we're doing these days.

I loved the Tumblr page, by the way. The total effect must be experienced at the link. I'll just pass on one perfect image:

"What’s the best part of trucking?"/"Freedom. Oh my God, I cannot tell you."

From a NYT collection of interviews with truck drivers: "Alone on the Open Road: Truckers Feel Like ‘Throwaway People’/President Trump ignited a national discussion of blue-collar jobs./Truck driving, once a road to the middle class, is now low-paying, grinding, unhealthy work. We talked with drivers about why they do it."

The "throwaway people" line came from a 54-year-old man who is the one interviewee who doesn't appear in the photograph that goes with his words. The line I quoted in the title came from a 33-year-old man who is a co-owner-operator.

Why am I too lazy to learn photoshop?

There's an image I really want to do with that Trump orb thing. If I took one day, I'm sure I could learn it, and yet I feel if I can't do it right now, it just doesn't matter anymore. But why not learn it today, so I'd be ready the next time some idea hits me? But that's the nature of my form of laziness kicks in: I'm completely industrious about everything I can do right now, but unwilling to prepare to do something in the future.

You might think this attitude seems immature and childish, but it's actually pretty appropriate in the old. 

"Maybe a certain naïveté is not always bad if it prevents over-interpretation, so you don’t always dissect things in detail and suspect everything."

Said Wolfram Leibe, the mayor of Trier, Germany, where Karl Marx was born. He's talking about the town's acceptance of a gift, a 18-foot-tall statue of Karl Marx, to be erected in a public square, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth. Leibe asserts that “It was a gesture of friendship and has nothing to do with ideology,” and yet he recounts the statement of the sculptor, Wei Weishan, on seeing the square: "This square is too small and cramped. Karl Marx was a great man and we can’t put him in a small square." 

The NYT reports, noting that "[m]illions* died in Communist political campaigns after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, and in a famine precipitated by an effort to collectivize agriculture in the late 1950s," but "Marx is officially revered in China."

The article also quotes Chang Ping, "a Chinese journalist who has lived in exile in Germany since 2011":
“This is not just a question of commemorating a historical figure. It’s also a question of how to deal with the Chinese government’s ambition to shine on the world stage. I think that I can see better than ordinary Germans the hideous grin behind the statue that is to be erected in Trier, and the threat it represents to the civilized political cultures of the world.”
And Geremie Barmé, "a founder of the Wairarapa Academy for New Sinology in New Zealand, the sculpture is an expression of party power":
“The Germans’ suggestion was for an early, humane, humanist Marx, a source for change in China — not the heroic, sclerotic, formalized Marx used for party purposes that Wu offered. Since we’re the only one that’s been successful and adapted Marxism to state leadership, we’ll tell you what it’s about.”
Meanwhile, in America, we're not putting up statues of heroes — revered or rejected — we're taking them down.


* "Millions" is not an adequate way to express what is something more like 45 or 65 million.

The Orb.

"'One orb to rule them all': image of Donald Trump and glowing globe perplexes internet."

The longer view:

ADDED: The "orb" is a globe, and I've already compared Trump to Chaplin in "The Great Dictator." Back in January, when this photograph was installed at the Smithsonian...

I said, "Nice picture. Especially because the apple represents the geographic place Trump dominated, it makes me think of Chaplin tossing the globe around in 'The Great Dictator'":

May 21, 2017

Trump isn't telling them what to do, but he is telling them what to do.

Here's the full transcript of Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia, which I listened to live. I want to pick out a few things:
I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope....
Trump selects a theme of hope — not, say, carnage, which some people think was the theme of his inaugural address. He doesn't think that, of course. In fact, he brings up his inaugural, as if its theme was also hope:
In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America's oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.... Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.
3 things there that will recur throughout the speech: 1. He's not going to tell them what to do, 2. We all have children and our children are the future, and 3. He knows something of what God thinks.

Idea #1 repeats:


On "Face the Nation" today, the key word was "nervous":
ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS & SURVEYS DIRECTOR: [The people who were conditional supporters of Trump have] an increasing feeling of nervousness that they say that they feel this is back to the idea that -- that this relates -- this investigation relates to the president's judgement and temperament…. But that said, everyone that we re-interviewed [was] increasingly nervous, saying that's the word they consistently use, that they're getting more and more nervous about what the administration is doing… [F]olks who were on the fence are sort of coming over to that firmer opposition, in part because of... that nervousness....

MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": … I spent most of my week talking to Republicans on Capitol hill and their staff and people around the Congress and… they're very nervous when -- when Anthony was talking about the -- the nervous Trump curious voters out there in the country, that was very much the vibe I got from Capitol Hill Republicans. They really still want him to be something that he hasn't been so far. They are incredibly nervous by all of these things happening….

RAMESH PONNURU, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": [O]ne of the things that's happening with congressional Republicans is, look, they've got this feeling in the pit of their stomach. They wish the president would act in different ways, but they are keenly aware that the vast majority of Republican voters across the country, including the voters in their districts, still supports this president. And you will see a pattern where the House Republicans who are in swing seats are more nervous. The senators who are in blue or purple states are more nervous. But the bulk of Republicans don't fit into either of those categories and they're nervous but they're still going to be supporting this president....

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: [T]hey're nervous and what about the agenda? Are they nervous about that too?… They're nervous about an unpredictable president, but what about the future in terms of getting stuff done?

Watch Trump's Saudi Arabia speech — about to stream live.

"Spiteful and destructive... sophomoric and petty."

Insulting words from one critic of Maine Governor Paul LePage, who declines to put up signs marking the way to Katahdin Woods and Waters — which Obama designated a national monument — because the Trump administration might reverse Obama's decision. LePage says Obama made "a horrible, horrible decision" and resists spending "taxpayers’ money" on signage that might not be permanent.  to signage or any type of project without knowing that it [the monument] is in place and that everyone is on board with it,” he said.

The land was donated to the federal government by the family that rich on the Burt’s Bees brand, and it's one family member — Lucas St Clair — who supplied those adjectives I put in the post title.

ADDED: Speaking of family fortunes, I wonder if LePage is related to the mucilage people:

"It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever."

"But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel."
When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.
Redefining forever: turns out to be only 9 years.

And there wasn't even a disaster, just one unusually hot season, in the end of 2016, when temperatures were over 7C above normal. Is it scientifically sound to refer to the temperatures in one season as caused by global warming? And speaking of what's scientific, they obviously were conning us with claims about the impregnability of the Global Seed Vault.

Trump in Arabia — the raw footage.

Scene 1:  

The 81-year-old King walks — with a cane — to greet President Trump:

It was 100+ degrees in Riyadh yesterday. The old king may be used to it, and he's got loose, mostly white clothing, but what keeps Trump and Melania — in their cinched black outfits — from keeling over? (Hillary keeled over on 9/11 when it was only 79°.)

Scene 2: 

Trump bobs to the rhythm alongside the Saudis doing the old "sword dance" (not real swords though, right? (because how could the Secret Service permit that?)):

Trump's moving without really doing the dance is reminiscent of his (sometimes mocked) swaying at the African American church:

And how did Tillerson and Wilbur Ross look doing the sword dance, with Priebus and Bannon wistfully wallflowering:

Scene 3:  

Trump gets a medal (does he bow or does he figure out some other body-lowering move so people wouldn't say he bowed (except all the haters (of course, they said he bowed)?):

Here's the famous Obama bow to the king (done in greeting, not by necessity if you want to receive a medal (not that Trump's people couldn't have nixed the medal-giving)):

May 20, 2017

Comey's delicate stomach: connecting "just completely disgusted" with "mildly nauseous."

An emailer connected these 2 expressions of Comey's, and I subsequently noticed this comment in last night's post about Comey's "just completely disgusted" remark, from hombre:
July 5, 2016. That was the day that anyone with integrity and associated with, or knowledgeable about, law enforcement understood that Comey was a lapdog for his Democrat masters.

His sanctimonious posturing makes me a lot more than "mildly nauseous."
The "mildly nauseous" phrase came from Comey's May 5, 2017 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (He said "It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election." July 5, 2016 was the date Comey determined that "no reasonable prosecutor" would proceed against Hillary Clinton over the email matter.)

And I found this from CNN last night connecting the recent "just completely disgusted" with "mildly nauseous." They played a clip of Comey's friend Benjamin Witte saying:
Comey really did not want to go to that meeting. He just really doesn't believe that the president and the FBI director should, you know, have any kind of social relationship or, you know, shows of warmth…. And so if you watch the video, he extends his hand and Comey's arms are really long and he extends his hand kind of preemptively and Trump grabs the hand and kind of pulls him into a hug but the hug is entirely one-sided. Comey was just completely disgusted by [OTHER VOICE: Disgusted?] disgusted by the episode. He thought it was an intentional attempt to compromise him in public.
After some discussion, the host Chris Cuomo said: "[L]et's not forget who James Comey is in our political context. He said was -- felt, you know, nauseated by it. He was also seen nauseous -- as inducing nausea -- by Democrats for what he did."

Disgust and nausea are synonymous. I think it's interesting — but what exactly does it mean? — that Comey expresses himself with the metaphor of an aversion to or a revulsion after eating. I don't know how enlightening that might be about his psychology. As you think about it, you might want to factor in the vivid, horrible experience Comey had when he was 16.

"'The conceptual penis as a social construct' is a Sokal-style hoax on gender studies."

"This paper should never have been published."
Titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” our paper “argues” that “The penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” As if to prove philosopher David Hume’s claim that there is a deep gap between what is and what ought to be, our should-never-have-been-published paper was published in the open-access (meaning that articles are freely accessible and not behind a paywall), peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences. (In case the PDF is removed, we’ve archived it.)

"It would be good if top Hill Republicans went en masse to the president and said: 'Stop it. Clean up your act. Shut your mouth. Do your job. Stop tweeting.'"

"'Stop seething. Stop wasting time. You lost the thread and don't even know what you were elected to do anymore. Get a grip. Grow up and look at the terrain, see it for what it is. We have limited time. Every day you undercut yourself, you undercut us. More important, you keep from happening the good policy things we could have done together. If you don't grow up fast, you'll wind up abandoned and alone. Act like a president or leave the presidency.' Could it help? For a minute. But it would be constructive -- not just carping, leaking, posing, cheering and tweeting but actually trying to lead. The president needs to be told: Democracy is not your plaything."

Writes Peggy Noonan in "Democracy Is Not Your Plaything/When the circus comes to Washington, it consumes everything, absorbs all energy" (in the WSJ).

Here are the top-rated comments there:

1. "Though I usually enjoy your articles, Ms. Noonan, this is way overblown. Wrenching questions? Seriously? Methinks you need to turn a critical eye to your own profession. Many of the slithering reptiles in Washington are incendiary journalists who revel in this circus. A circus of its own making. This latest piece of yours is part of the act. But do you realize it?"

2. "Nice try Peggy. It's not Trump, it's your lefty friends. And your left is not interested. They are so radical they want a coup and they are going to get it. This is a revolution and your side wants power and will get it even if we all have to get trampled in the mud. Duly elected POTUS? Doesn't matter. This is a coup. The left is not just out of control, they are severe, violent radicals. Violent times are coming, thanks to the left."

"President Trump has said he believes Twitter put him in the White House. Recently, Mr. Williams heard the claim for the first time. He mulled it over for a bit..."

"... sitting in his Medium office, which is noteworthy only for not having a desk. 'It’s a very bad thing, Twitter’s role in that,' he said finally. 'If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry.' The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Williams’s remarks."

From a NYT Magazine article on Evan Williams — one of the founders of Twitter and a co-creator of Blogger (where we are right now) — who currently runs Medium. The article is called "'The Internet Is Broken': @ev Is Trying to Salvage It."

I had forgotten about Medium, but now I remember it was supposed to solve some kind of problem. Why the long article about it now? It came out in 2012, but what's happening? We're told Medium is "a new model for media in a world struggling under the weight of fake or worthless content" and "social and collaborative without rewarding the smash-ups" and "a force for good."

According to the NYT article — which is by David Streitfield — "Medium is not afraid to be dull." Is it just failing (or not trying to succeed)?
Mr. Williams is deliberate to a fault, and his stint as Twitter’s chief executive in 2008 was not a managerial success. “He’s not C.E.O. material,” his former girlfriend and the co-developer of Blogger, Meg Hourihan, said in 2010 when the Twitter board pushed him out....

In a commencement speech at the University of Nebraska this month, Mr. Williams noted that Silicon Valley has a tendency to see itself as a Prometheus, stealing fire from selfish gatekeeper gods and bestowing it on mere mortals. “What we tend to forget is that Zeus was so pissed at Prometheus that he chained him to a rock so eagles could peck out his guts for eternity,” Mr. Williams told the crowd. “Some would say that’s what we deserve for giving the power of tweets to Donald Trump.”

Mr. Williams’s mistake was expecting the internet to resemble the person he saw in the mirror: serious, high-minded....

“While today is an important victory and an important vindication, the road is far from over, the proper war is just commencing."

“The claim by the UK that it has a right to arrest me for seeking asylum in a case where there have been no charges is simply untenable.”

Said Julian Assange, quoted in The Guardian.
On what happens next, Assange signalled that he would remain inside the embassy for the time being, and that he was seeking dialogue with British and US officials...
... The UK refuses to confirm or deny at this stage whether a US extradition warrant is in the UK territory. While there have been extremely threatening remarks made [in the US]. I’m always happy to engage in a dialogue with the Department of Justice about what has occurred.
What are the "extremely threatening remarks"? Here's another Guardian piece, "Trump and Assange's friendship may come to a quick halt as US charges loom/The president and WikiLeaks founder were partners not more than four months ago, but now the US may charge him for publishing classified material":
A threat by the Donald Trump administration last month to imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might, from Assange’s perspective, seem ungrateful.

It was WikiLeaks that published a steady drip of awkward emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman in the run-up to the November election. It was WikiLeaks that exposed plotting inside the Democratic National Committee to ruin the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. And it was WikiLeaks that Trump associates such as Roger Stone touted as the force that would finish off Clinton.

“I love WikiLeaks,” Trump himself said at a Pennsylvania rally a month before the election, brandishing a printout of a Clinton campaign email, to cheers from the crowd.
Why should Trump act grateful? He needs to look independent, not like he was in collusion or encouraging the law-breaking. Bursting out with "I love Wikileaks" at a rally may show how little Trump thought in terms of law, but it's not taking a legal position, just exulting at something that was producing a result that was helping him. 

The day in disgust.

What's been disgusting people in the last 24 hours? I wondered, after blogging something that disgusted Meade and me and noticing the the new post went on top of yesterday's post about Comey being "just completely disgusted" when Trump subjected him to a handshake.

Here's what I've come up with:

1. The avolatte. "Yes, this is a latte served inside of an avocado. Look at it. It’s sickening."

2. What's that white thing that seems to be growing out of your child's gums? It's not some weird new disease, just some fingernail bitings. One woman — who ultimately tweezed out 27 shreds — made video of her adventure in her son's mouth and posted it on Facebook. The son's name — if this is relevant to analyzing her level of vigilance about health matters — is Kale.

3. "If Trump took a dump on his desk, you would defend it," said Anderson Cooper last night to his guest Jeffrey Lord.

4. In Japan, promoting the movie "Tokyo Ghoul," there's a Tokyo Ghoul café. Here's the website for the café with some pictures from the comic book and the dishes intended to evoke them. (Here's a trailer for the new movie.)

5. I avoided the hoo-ha over the men's romper, but maybe I can catch the wave on the jeado. "Real men wear speedos, but it takes a confident man to wear a jeado."

6. "It's not that Trump isn't or shouldn't be frightening. But it's conspicuous that our media landscape is now a perfect Ailes-ian dystopia, cleaved into camps of captive audiences geeked up on terror and disgust. The more scared and hate-filled we are, the more advertising dollars come pouring in, on both sides."

7. From "'Alien' Is Sci-Fi Horror's Most Feminist Movie Franchise," by Tom Seymour: "The Alien movies visualize the two things so many men look upon with disgust and horror—getting penetrated themselves, and watching a woman giving birth... In the Alien films... moments of rape are always moments of impregnation. They provide a dual, intensified horror."

8. From "As Indians, we take our cotton heritage too lightly": "Remember the outrage last year in the US when an Indian supplier of 'Egyptian cotton' bedsheets to major department stores was found to have used other cotton? The disgust and horror was akin to sturgeon caviar being found to have been diluted with dyed salmon roe or horsemeat being detected in so-called beef products in UK. But how many know that India also produces... an equally wonderful ESL cotton variety, albeit rather unimaginatively named Suvin, the result of a 'marriage' of a local cotton gal 'Sujatha' with a Caribbean cotton lad called St Vincent in the mid-1970s?"

9. "Where do we draw the line on sledging?" I don't know. I had to figure out what "sledging" even is. Fortunately, there's an entire Wikipedia article on this cricket-specific issue: "Sledging is a term used in cricket to describe the practice whereby some players seek to gain an advantage by insulting or verbally intimidating the opposing player.... There is debate in the cricketing world as to whether this constitutes poor sportsmanship or good-humoured banter."

10. "Found this while doing yard work. My brother asked why women would buy baseball themed pads."

"This is a brilliant way to make smarter sun protection choices easier."

A Glamour beauty editor enthuses about an improvement of "choice" that is simply eliminating the choices government and health industry officials don't want you to make.

The genius move by CVS is to limit the selection of products so you can't buy "sun care products" with an SPF lower than 15. So you can't get a product like Australian Gold SPF 4 Spray Oil Sunscreen, which "promotes tanning," while "allowing you to stay in the sun up to 4 times longer without burning." What if you're not planning to be in the sun very long? And isn't some sun good for your health? What if I think it is — for the vitamin D — and I'm only going to be out in the sun for an hour? I'm supposed to use SPF 15? It seems to me that withholding products like Australian Gold SPF 4 just forces people to switch to products that aren't "sun care" at all. In the old days — the 60s — girls who wanted a sun tan used plain old baby oil or baby oil with iodine.

It's sort of like the way depriving women of the choice of legal abortions would channel some women into the government's preferred choice of childbearing, but it would drive other women into the baby-oil-with-iodine version of abortion, the so-called back-alley abortion.

I don't think Glamour editors would squee "This is a brilliant way to make smarter pregnancy choices easier." But when it's on some sweet-spot subject — like averting the scourge of dark tanning — it's touted as brilliant to take away choices. And these supposed lovers of brilliance don't notice how unbrilliant they sound when they say taking away choices is making choices "easier."

I don't see the words "sponsored content," but it's such an ad for CVS. It even contains an embedded ad. I urge you to watch this — if you can. Both Meade and I, watching separately, were grossed out at the same point and had to pause for a while before going on. But we watched to the end and had a long discussion about what kind of women respond well to material like this and who the first woman reminded us of.*


* I'll tell you later. But: somebody famous.

May 19, 2017

Why was Comey "just completely disgusted" when Trump pulled into the handshake and grabbed him around the shoulder?

"He thought it was an intentional attempt to compromise him in public."

Comey didn't want to shake hands at all...
[Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes, a close friend of Comey's] said Comey "really did not want to go to that meeting" and tried to distance himself from Trump to ensure the FBI's independence from the White House. Comey, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall, was wearing a dark blue suit and stood near the similarly colored curtains in the back of the room, hoping that Trump would not spot him.
Video at the link.

And that seems to have prompted Philippe Reines to tweet us some video of himself playing the role of Trump in Hillary Clinton's debate prep:

ADDED: I don't think trying to evade a handshake makes you look good. But what do you do when confronted with a person who has a handshake-plus move? There's the right hand doing the basic shake, and then the left hand gropes you on some other part of your anatomy — the upper arm or the shoulder? Do you just let him? If he's a star?

"Nature is great and all but I like seeing what Mankind made and then destroyed. Or seeing examples of Mankind being ironic, irreverent, or incompetent."

"It gives us insight as to who we are and what we were in the past," said the Hipstercrite when her mother took her to the Grand Canyon. I ran across this piece as I was writing yesterday's post about post-tourism. Hipstercrite uses the term post-modern tourism.

Her travel recommendations make the idea pretty clear: Salton Sea ("It’s full of dead fish and Botulism and empty trailers and salt-encrusted lawn chairs. It’s reeks of death and the humidity is oppressing. IT’S HEAVEN."); Dollywood ("Because it’s a theme park in the middle of Deliverance-land created by a country singer with Double D breasts."); Marfa, Texas (" Long after minimal artist Donald Judd left, his big city grime stayed spluged over the sleepy town. New Yorkers/Angelenos/Austinites have been flocking to Marfa to add their own seed ever since."); all of New Mexico ("[I]t’s vast. And it’s desolate."); Picher, Oklahoma ("Picher was once the home of lead and zinc mining and over 1640 people. Now it’s the home to gigantic holes to the center of the Earth and 20 people.").

I feel some affinity to this kind of thinking — especially when it comes to photography. Remember when we pulled over in Orderville, Utah to photograph the "Food & Drug" sign?

ADDED: Here's another example of my interest in depressing signage, from last February:


"I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job."

Said Donald Trump to Russian officials — "according to a document summarizing the meeting," according to the NYT. He's also said to have said: "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off."
The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.
ADDED: An awful lot of people are quick to call Trump crazy, and here he is calling Comey crazy. Everybody's crazy now. Maybe the idea of insanity doesn't mean much anymore — doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

"Will Melania Trump wear a headscarf in Saudi Arabia?"

WaPo's Adam Taylor asks, bringing up this tweet from 2015:

The media really are terribly negative toward Trump.

A serious-looking report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
The report is based on an analysis of news reports in the print editions of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, the main newscasts of CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, and three European news outlets (The UK’s Financial Times and BBC, and Germany’s ARD)....

• President Trump dominated media coverage in the outlets and programs analyzed, with Trump being the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents. He was also the featured speaker in nearly two-thirds of his coverage....

• Trump has received unsparing coverage for most weeks of his presidency, without a single major topic where Trump’s coverage, on balance, was more positive than negative, setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.

• Fox was the only news outlet in the study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall, however, there was variation in the tone of Fox’s coverage depending on the topic.
Lots more at the link, including many graphs, like this:

ADDED: This new report makes me want to repost something I wrote on March 3rd, "Do the Democrats see their only hope as getting an investigation going and somehow reliving Watergate?"

"Lieberman emerges as front-runner for FBI post."


Politico reports:
A person familiar with Wednesday’s meeting said Trump bonded with Lieberman, and the president left leaning towards the former Connecticut senator, who retired in 2013...
Bonded with him, eh? What are his qualifications? This strikes me as an insane choice.
The pick would be an unorthodox one – the FBI is not usually run by politicians. Additionally, Lieberman is 75 years old, and FBI directors are typically appointed to serve 10-year terms.

Lieberman ran alongside Democrat Al Gore in 2000. He now works as special counsel at the same law firm with Marc Kasowitz, Trump's longtime lawyer in New York, which could be an issue for Democrats, a senior Democratic aide said.

Trump often talks to Kasowitz, who’s also represented Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News anchor, and other prominent New Yorkers.
That doesn't sound right.

Time to talk about Anthony Weiner again.

He's pleading guilty to "a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor."
A likely result of the plea is that Mr. Weiner would end up as a registered sex offender... The charge carries a potential sentence of between zero and 10 years in prison, meaning Mr. Weiner could avoid prison...
Go to the link to see the artistically hilarious photograph of Weiner the NYT chose to illustrate its article. It's not one of Weiner's selfies, but a portrait by a NYT photographer, Damon Winter, that has Weiner looking greasy and defeated.


Why do we prefer clockwise? Is it because we're in the northern hemisphere — that is, does it have to do with clocks, which were modeled on sundials? And was clockwise a concept (and a preferred direction) before we had the word "clock," and if so, what there a word for it?

What about the way lids and screws and things are designed to be turned clockwise to tighten? Is that related to clocks or to the fact that most of us are right-handed and right-handed people are stronger turning things clockwise and it's more important to have strength to tighten than to loosen? Ever notice that left-handed people are good at opening jars?

Or do you think the preference for clockwise is related to our left-to-right writing system, and clockwise is really a matter of going from left to right? Or does our writing system go left to right because of: 1. The direction of the sun, or 2. The fact that most of us are right-handed?

The answers to most of these questions are in the Wikipedia article "Clockwise."

"Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer."

The headline kind of misses the point.
“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy,” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education. “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”...

In 1993, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that the “capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.” Boredom is a chance to contemplate life, rather than rushing through it.... “It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested, rather than take time to find what interests him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one’s time,” added Phillips.
Did your parents make great efforts to provide you with things to do over the summer? If you have kids: Did you generate lots of activities for your kids (or think you should)? Were you, as a child, admired for showing interest in things your parents pointed you toward? If you have kids: Do you express admiration for them when they show interest in the activities you provide for them? Do you ever stop and think they should get bored? 

"At the heart of laptop ban debate, officials ask which is worse: Bombs or accidental battery fires?"


"DEMOCRATS: Trump’s leaks are outrageous and treasonous. Hey, look how good Chelsea Manning looks in her new publicity photo!"

Quips Instapundit.

"Until you live in Silicon Valley, you don’t realize how many dumb rich people there are."

The last line of "The Mad King of Juice: Inside the Dysfunctional Origins of Juicero" at Gizmodo.

"Everything feels like the future but us."

Working in the Tesla factory.

Sentence of the day.

"It is a mildly disconcerting experience, seeing conscious evolutions and experiments in style; baroque, ornate, urgent, dyspeptic; the repetitions and modalities at various points and the stylized categorizations and oppositions – prudes and perverts, monsters and insanity, measures and tests, inquiries and examinations, bodies and boys, punishment, pleasure, asceticism, suicide; the going back over old themes in new ways; how the old becomes new but how the new can never entirely disown the old; the desire for both fidelity in the evocation of moods and worlds, but not necessarily strict historical accuracy, whatever that might in the end be taken to mean; and the desire to write all this up somehow as a history of the present."

From a TLS article with a nicely short title, "Foucault investigates."

Things not believed: "I'm looking forward to voting Democrat again."

That "Democrat" is a tell. Someone actually looking forward to voting for Democrats would say "voting Democratic." But I don't trust the transcription in the Washington Examiner, because it also identifies the speaker of this line as "the acclaimed philosopher."

Camille Paglia is a philosopher?

Here's a 2005 article by Camille Paglia: "Ten great female philosophers: The thinking woman's women/Radio 4's 'Greatest Philosopher' poll yielded an all-male Top 20. But is philosophy really a female-free zone? On the contrary, insists Camille Paglia - and here are 10 to prove the point." In the note identifying the author, she's listed as a "Professor of Humanities at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia." If she had any claim to being considered a philosopher, I think we'd have seen it there. She said:
I feel women in general are less comfortable than men in inhabiting a highly austere, cold, analytical space, such as the one which philosophy involves. Women as a whole - and there are obvious exceptions - are more drawn to practical, personal matters. It is not that they inherently lack a talent or aptitude for philosophy or higher mathematics, but rather that they are more unwilling than men to devote their lives to a frigid space from which the natural and the human have been eliminated....
Paglia loves to personalize things, so you can bet she'd have said but not me! if she could.
A philosopher for me is someone who is removed from everyday concerns and manipulates terms and concepts like counters on a grid or chessboard.
Obviously, Paglia does not meet her own definition of philosopher. She likes to talk about ideas in connection with art — high and low art of all kinds. 
Both Simone de Beauvoir and Ayn Rand, another favourite of mine, have their own highly influential system of thought, and therefore they belong on any list of great philosophers....
The term philosopher is passé, anyhow, and should be abandoned. The thinker of modern times should be partly abstract and partly practical. Karl Marx, the winner of the Radio 4 poll yesterday, was indeed a truly major thinker.
A "major thinker" — which is what Paglia probably thinks she is — but not a "philosopher," because:
He was not a captive of abstraction and always kept his eye on society and its evolution...

Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre.
Who wants to be a philosopher anyway? Nobody good, certainly not Paglia:
This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments. Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity.... Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry.
Man, I know the feeling! I had to stop at this point and listen to "Life During Wartime":

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?/Gonna be different this time/Can't write a letter, can't send no postcard/I ain't got time for that now... We got computer, we're tapping phone lines/I know that ain't allowed... Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?....

Anyway, back to the I-don't-trust-it Washington Examiner article I've been trying to read as the sun comes up here in Madison, Wisconsin, where nobody I know is manipulating terms and concepts like counters on a grid or chessboard, and I am thrown back to 1979, when I was trying to be a law student and The Talking Heads were distracting me with word of impending chaos and the futility of further education. I was writing in notebooks — what good are notebooks? — and nobody I knew got computer.

But speaking of chess, have you ever seen this picture?

That's "A Jew and a Muslim playing chess in 13th century al-Andalus." I found that in the Wikipedia article "Al-Andalus," which I clicked through to from "Alcázar," which I'd looked up because it was the hardest answer in the Friday NYT crossword.

Change 2 letters in chess, and you get the opposite of chess: Chaos! And chaos is what made me want to blog that Washington Examiner fragment about whatever it was Camille Paglia may have said. The key line for me wasn't Paglia's spurious expressing of hope to vote Democrat, but her assertion about what's going on with the attacks on Trump:
"Democrats are doing this in collusion with the media obviously, because they just want to create chaos... They want to completely obliterate any sense that the Trump administration is making any progress on anything... I am appalled at the behavior of the media... It's the collapse of journalism....  I feel that the media has so utterly lost its credibility that I think people are going to vote against the media again."
I wanted to quote that because I agree with it. A partisan plot to cripple the American President, to make it as difficult as possible to accomplish anything? "Chaos" is a fun-loving term compared to "treason," but we don't say "treason" anymore, do we?
In the 1790s, opposition political parties were new and not fully accepted. Government leaders often considered their opponents to be some sort of traitors. Historian Ron Chernow reports that Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and President George Washington "regarded much of the criticism fired at their administration as disloyal, even treasonous, in nature." When an undeclared Quasi-War broke out with France in 1797–98, "Hamilton increasingly mistook dissent for treason and engaged in hyperbole." Furthermore, the Jeffersonian opposition party behaved the same way. After 1801, with a peaceful transition in the political party in power, the rhetoric of "treason" against political opponents diminished.
Oh, but these days, part of the chaos-making is calling treason on Trump.