October 20, 2017

Afternoon walk.

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"It’s highly inappropriate for the president to write a check to the father of a slain service member."

Writes Alison Buckholtz at Slate.
There’s no way to know what goes on within a family, but if the slain service member designated his mother to receive a payout for what is basically the calculated value of his life, and decided his father should not receive any benefit from his death, there was a reason why....

More alarming, though—and separate from the role of the beneficiary—is that President Trump’s personal payment to this Army dad may ultimately threaten the unity of American military families.... The feeling that we’re all in it together... is imperiled by Trump’s offer of a payout to one individual...

The existing system of compensation works. The status quo satisfies. If it doesn’t, then there’s a real conversation to be had....

How bad are things going on that new Megyn Kelly show?

It's hard to believe it can be this bad:

AND: I'm just noticing the lyrics on the song: "I know you want me." But she knows we don't want her. Sad!

What would it mean for Harvey Weinstein to take "sex addiction rehab" seriously?

The headline at Page Six is "Harvey Weinstein doesn’t seem to be taking sex rehab seriously":
The source told us, “In one group therapy session, Harvey arrived 15 minutes late. Then, when it was his turn to speak, he launched into a speech about how this is all a conspiracy against him.”...

Another source close to Weinstein says... “He insists he never raped or assaulted anyone, and that all the encounters were consensual. He realizes he has acted like an a–hole, but he still insists he’s not a rapist...."
Much of what people are accusing him of is criminal. How is he supposed to participate in group therapy if frank, sincere discussion would entail confessing to crimes? Both sources seem to be revealing that Weinstein is doing something I would regard as taking it seriously: being defensive against criminal liability. I'm sure that defensiveness is annoying to everyone else, especially if they think he's lying. But that doesn't make him unserious. It just makes him serious within a frame of reference that isn't how to stop being addicted to sex.

I haven't looked deeply into the evidence question, but I think generally the patient has a privilege to prevent other members of a therapy group from testifying, but the particulars are going to vary from place to place. You lawyers who are reading this: What would you say to someone in Weinstein's position who's trying to rehabilitate his business reputation by appearing to take his "sex addition" problem seriously, but who will be talking about things that could be used against him in a criminal (or civil) case?

And who are these people leaking information about what went on in group therapy? How can anyone feel secure about opening up in these sessions? I note that the Page Six article quotes the second source as saying that Weinstein doesn't do group sessions anymore — "for obvious reasons." If it's so obvious, why did he ever do them?

At the Red Leaf Café...

P1150319

... you can talk about whatever you want.

And you can shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

50 years ago today: Bigfoot!

I can't believe in Bigfoot. I can't even believe how long the Wikipedia article "Patterson–Gimlin film" is.
The Patterson–Gimlin film (also known as the Patterson film or the PGF) is an American short motion picture of an unidentified subject which the filmmakers have said was a Bigfoot. The footage was shot in 1967 in Northern California, and has since been subjected to many attempts to authenticate or debunk it....
The film was shot 50 years ago today, if you can believe the filmmakers' account, but even that is questioned.
Patterson said he became interested in Bigfoot after reading an article about the creature by Ivan T. Sanderson in True magazine in December 1959. In 1961 Sanderson published his encyclopedic Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, a worldwide survey of accounts of Bigfoot-type creatures, including recent track finds, etc. in the Bluff Creek area, which heightened his interest....
"In 1962 he visited Bluff Creek and talked with a whole host of Bigfoot-believers. In 1964 he returned and met a timber-cruiser named Pat Graves, who drove him to Laird Meadows. There Patterson saw fresh tracks—for him an almost unbearably exciting, spine-chilling experience. What a tremendous feat it would be—what a scientific breakthrough—if he could obtain unshakable evidence that these tracks were not the work of a prankster, but the actual mark of a hitherto unknown creature! If he succeeded, he would be famous! And rich!..."
Almost unyetiably exciting. No it isn't. I can't possibly read this, the most overlong article I've ever seen in Wikipedia. I am out of here....

Frame 352 from the Patterson-Gimlin film

"Natasha De Alencar, the widow of Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, released video of her conversation with President Trump."

This is not the phone call that's been talked about in the news, but it does give you an example of how Trump handles these phone calls:

"I could have hit him, I could have hurt him ... but something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love.'"

Said Aaron Courtney, a 31-year-old African-American high school football coach, about why he hugged a man who was wearing a swastika T-shirt. At the link is the viral video of the hug, with Courtney saying "Why don’t you like me, dog?"
“I had the opportunity to talk to someone who hates my guts and I wanted to know why. During our conversation, I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?’” he told the Daily News.

But the man simply looked off into the distance and brushed off his questions as Courtney pleaded with him and grew increasingly upset.
It should be noted that before this happened, the man, Randy Furniss, was "surrounded by a crowd of protesters who screamed, punched and spat on him."
“After beating around the bush, and avoiding my questions, I asked him, I pleaded with him, I almost broke out in tears, growing increasingly angry because I didn’t understand,” he said.... The crowd around them immediately reacted and when Courtney pressed him again, asking “Why do you hate me?” Furniss finally answered, “I don’t know.”

“I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know,” Courtney said.
Furniss was surrounded and in a physically dangerous situation. What could he do? And that hug was a big physical encroachment on him. Even loving hugs should be consented to, but it's not clear — I've seen the video — that the hug expresses love. I think if I were in that situation — not that I'd wear a swastika T-shirt...
... I would experience the question "Why don’t you like me, dog?" as threatening.

I am not so naive as to believe that a distinct line exists between love and hate.

"After the assault, the woman said Burd asked her to give him 'a little time before you contact the cops so I can down a couple beers before I go to jail.'"

"He also told her to tell police to care for his mother's ashes. Burd was arrested a short time later and charged with first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree rape, second-degree burglary and third-degree kidnapping."

Daily News.

"The mere thought of tangling with the Trumpster’s foul, prevaricatory, sneering tweets offends Obama’s own sense of civil discourse between politicians."

"This revulsion is just another form of self-indulgence... It isn’t as if Barack Obama doesn’t realize what he is doing and what is happening in this self-enriching bubble he has shaped, post presidency.... He can’t seem to help himself."

Wrote Ralph Nader, quoted in "The far left’s attacks on moderate Democrats get old," by Paul Fanlund, editor of Madison's Capital Times.

"For the first time in its 64-year history, Playboy magazine will feature a transgender Playmate..."

"... a decision that Cooper Hefner, a top executive at the magazine, said on Thursday was in keeping with its founding mission of embracing changing attitudes about sex," the NYT reports.
Selecting [Ines] Rau “very much speaks to the brand’s philosophy,” said Mr. Hefner, 26, Playboy’s chief creative officer. “It’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving.”

Mr. Hefner said he selected Ms. Rau to be a Playmate two months ago because she’s “lovely” and has “a remarkable personality,” but also to resolidify the magazine’s voice. “This is really a moment for us to take a step back and say that so much of what the brand stood for in the early years is very much still alive in culture.”
Resolidify. I didn't know what to do, so I looked up "resolidify" in the Oxford English Dictionary, where I go to resolidify. It means "To make (something, esp. a melted substance) solid again; to solidify (something) again."

In other words — to speak more Playboyesquely — to get hard again.

Speaking of stiff... Hugh's dead.

Watch out what's on your mind when you pet the dog.

Here in Wisconsin, I see that Republican state Rep. Andre Jacque has introduced a bill to make animal abuse a felony (instead of a misdemeanor) and to "close a loophole changing the definition of sexual contact to be more inclusive of contact with any part of an animal for sexual gratification."

"The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions, classes, make them mine, me theirs. Taken separately, they’re unacceptable and untenable."

Wrote Barack Obama to his girlfriend Alexandra McNear, in one of the excerpts from letters, dated 1982 to 1984, that were released from the collection at Emory University, reported at WaPo.
“I must admit large dollops of envy for both groups, my American friends consuming their life in the comfortable mainstream, the foreign friends in the international business world,” Obama writes McNear in one letter. “Caught without a class, a structure, or a tradition to support me, in a sense the choice to take a different path is made for me.”...

“I don’t distinguish between struggling with the world and struggling with myself... I enter a pact with other people, other forces in the world, that their problems are mine and mine are theirs... The minute others imprint my senses, they become me and I must deal with them or else close part of myself off and make myself and the world smaller, lukewarm.”
Speaking of lack of warmth, his attitude toward McNear was, as WaPo puts it, "cooling." As Obama put it:
“I am not so naive as to believe that a distinct line exists between romantic love and the more quotidian, but perhaps finer bonds of friendship... but I can feel the progression from one to the other (in my mind).”
Poor McNear! McFar.

I went looking for a picture of Alexandra McNear and found this Daily Mail piece from 2012: "First picture of Barack Obama's first serious girlfriend... and how she went on to marry a Serbian boxer who is now one of New York's most famous bartenders":
A friend of Miss McNear [said]: "Alex is so embarrassed about this coming out right now. She has a family and is a grown up, for her to be called somebody's 'girlfriend' is really making her cringe. It was all in the past but her family still tease her about it. I know her sisters say they would have liked to have been in the White House, but ce la vie [sic]. To think she could have been First Lady, and she married a boxer instead. You couldn't make it up."
IN THE COMMENTS: MathMom said:
"The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions, classes, make them mine, me theirs..."

I had to stop reading there. My heart began to pound, my hands began to sweat, I felt dizzy and disoriented...I was reading about intentional cultural appropriation, and that by a revered statesman! Our former president!

I'm getting the vapours...must take to my fainting couch. Words fail me.
And sykes.1 said:
What Obama was unconsciously pointing out is that multiculturalism is not a goal. It, like anarchy, is a tool to break down the existing society. The goal is a totalitarian socialist dictatorship. Socialism insists that all individuals are literally identical, and it adopts policies to make sure that they are identical. These policies are, of course, brutal. There can be no White or black persons, no Jews or Christians, no Hispanics, etc. Socialist man is a single, homogeneous thing.

"What I did was marginalize the incidents. Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse."

Said Quentin Tarantino, accepting responsibility for continuing to work with Harvey Weinstein. Tarantino knew some — who could know all? — of what Weinstein did. He made choices that were in his self-interest at the time, and it has now become so obvious — Mira Sorvino was his girlfriend — that it's also in his self-interest to do a mea culpa now.

Here's the article about him, in the NYT.
“I knew enough to do more than I did,” he said, citing several episodes involving prominent actresses. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

“I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard,” he added. “If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.”
Done the work? Is that psychotherapy talk or is he using the term in some other way? He admits that anything he says now sounds like a crappy excuse, so he knows "if I had done the work" is a crappy excuse.

I think, reading the article carefully, that "done the work" means that he should have taken the parts of the story he knew were real — Sorvino, Rose McGowan, and another actress the NYT doesn't name — and inferred the existence of "a larger pattern of abuse." I'm sorry, I don't believe that 3 solid data points plus all the rumors don't force an intelligent person to hypothesize that there is a modus operandi. I think Tarantino would have had to have done work to distance himself from the obvious and to view the 3 things he knew as isolated instances.

I put the right 2 sentences in the post title. He tells us the "work" he did: "What I did was marginalize the incidents."
When Mr. Tarantino read the articles about Mr. Weinstein, he was horrified by the scope and severity of the alleged abuse, especially the rape accusations, he said. But some of the accounts were deeply familiar to him. “Everyone who was close to Harvey had heard of at least one of those incidents” chronicled in the first few articles, he said. “It was impossible they didn’t.”
Everyone who was close to Harvey facilitated him. 
Now Mr. Tarantino said he regretted not taking the women’s stories seriously enough. “I chalked it up to a ’50s-’60s era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk,” he said. “As if that’s O.K. That’s the egg on my face right now.”
Oh, please! He's talking about the late 90s, four decades after the era of laughing at the image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk. The use of the corny old expression "egg on my face" is a tell. There's no way he wasn't up to speed on what sexual harassment and sexual assault are. I cared about his movies back then. "Pulp Fiction." "Jackie Brown." If I had thought at the time that he had the mindset he's now claiming to have had, I wouldn't have been interested in that idiot's movies. But he is not an idiot. He's a man who did what was in his interest then, and he's doing what's in his interest now. 
Asked how the news about Mr. Weinstein would affect how the public views his own record and body of work, Mr. Tarantino paused. “I don’t know,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t.”
It does.

"I hope it doesn't" is the last sentence of the article, and I wondered whether the NYT, having given the man a nice platform for his mea culpa, was ending with a nudge to the reader to react the way I did: This changes the meaning of your movies.

But one thing makes me think this was not the intent of the NYT: They've disallowed comments.

ADDED: The NYT does allow comments on its other big Harvey-Weinstein-related interview published the same day, "Lupita Nyong’o: Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein."

Why doesn't Lupita Nyong’o get the same protection from comments undercutting her opinion that the NYT gave Tarantino? What bargaining goes on behind the scenes as these famous names give their stories to the newspaper? Maybe the difference is just that Nyong'o will be seen as a victim and the prediction was that comments will praise her for her courage in telling her story now, but Tarantino looks like a facilitator and there was a real risk that commenters would say things like what I've said here.

Nyong'o concedes that she was part of "the conspiracy of silence that has allowed this predator to prowl for so many years." Her excuse is that she "felt very much alone" and "blamed myself for a lot of it," but now can tell her story because she can see it and explain it as "part of [Weinstein's] sinister pattern of behavior."
Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage.... I began to massage his back to buy myself time to figure out how to extricate myself from this undesirable situation. Before long he said he wanted to take off his pants. I told him not to do that and informed him that it would make me extremely uncomfortable. He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door... I opened the door and stood by the frame. He put his shirt on and again mentioned how stubborn I was. I agreed with an easy laugh, trying to get myself out of the situation safely. I was after all on his premises, and the members of his household, the potential witnesses, were all (strategically, it seems to me now) in a soundproof room....

I didn’t quite know how to process the massage incident. I reasoned that it had been inappropriate and uncalled-for, but not overtly sexual. I was entering into a business where the intimate is often professional and so the lines are blurred.....

[On another occasion, at some bar or restaurant in NYC] Harvey arrived and the assistant immediately disappeared... [H]e announced: “Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.” I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.
She declined, and he backed off, saying "Then I guess we are two ships passing in the night,"* an expression she'd never heard before. He told her to go, and she did. She worried that he would hurt her career, but she offers no evidence that he did. Not long afterward, Nyong'o appeared in the movie "12 Years a Slave," and she won an Oscar. She never worked on a Weinstein project. She adopted a "survival plan" of "avoid[ing] Harvey and men like him at all costs." And that plan worked for her, but now she wants to be part of "a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies" that can outweigh the power of individuals like Weinstein.

I wrote all that before reading any comments. They do — as I think the NYT could predict — praise Nyong'o lavishly. The top-rated comment is: "What an incredible young woman who can say, 'I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking...' This is exactly what a mother wants in a role model for her daughter. Absolutely brilliant."

______________________

* Is this — like "egg on my face" — a Hollywood thing? When they need to get some distance, do Hollywood guys use corny clichés? Do they retreat into blatant uncoolness or is this some kind of ironic hipster pose? By the way, "ships that pass in the night" originates in a Longfellow poem, "Tales of Tales of a Wayside Inn/Part Third/The Theologian’s Tale/Elizabeth":
Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

October 19, 2017

I believe that it's wrong to give this story air, but you might want to talk about it.

So I will give you the video:

If you were relying on the "hipster racism" fad 10 years ago...

... prepare to get raked over the coals of social media now.

"Actor David Cross’ excuse for ‘racist’ joke to Asian American actress raises eyebrows" (Twitchy):
“Arrested Development” actor-comedian David Cross recently found himself in hot ham water after Asian American actress Charlyne Yi shared an uncomfortable memory with her Twitter followers:
Charlyne Yi ✔ @charlyne_yi
I think about the first time I met David Cross ten years ago & he made fun of my pants (that were tattered because I was poor). Dumbfounded I stared at him speechless and he said to me "what's a matter? You don't speak English?? Ching-chong-ching-chong".
She must hate him to dredge that up out of context now. You can read the tweets that followed and Cross's effort to explain. It happened in Shreveport, and I must have been referencing Shreveport by doing a Southern redneck racist character, not my actual self.

I did enjoy the "hot ham water" link.

And if you've forgotten about "hipster racism," here's the Wikipedia article on the subject:
Hipster racism, is engaging in behaviors traditionally regarded as racist and defending them as being performed ironically or satirically.... Van Kerckhove used the term hipster racism in an article, "The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006" [PDF]...
See? 2006. Cross was on trend when he performed what I believed was hipster racism 10 years ago. Is David Cross a hipster? I actually googled that. I found a 2015 interview in which he deplored hipsters:
There’s this smug elitism to it; this cultural elitism. The whole thing is, You’re perpetuating this. This thing you report to hate and you think is such a bad example of our culture, that exists because people like you talk about it with detached irony, yet you’re still supporting its very existence.

At the True Love Café...

DSC00424

... talk about whatever you like.

(And show some love for this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

John McWhorter goes on an epic tirade against Ta-Nehisi Coates (and the white people who make a show of embracing him).

This is really something:

Disallowing the disappointable flâneuse to augurate.

The OED homepage has a list of "recently published" words. Right now it's:
augurate, v.
disallowing, n.
disappointable, adj.
flâneuse, n.
Try to use them all in one sentence.

"Augurate" is familiar as 80% of the word "inaugurate," but it's more easily understood by seeing the word "augur," which means to predict the future using signs and omens. I don't see why you'd ever need "augurate" when you have "augur," but it's in some old books, so you might need to look it up. But I wonder how "inaugurate" got started. The etymology does go back to using "omens from the flight of birds, to consecrate or install after taking such omens or auguries."

"Disallowing" is one of those words that, if you use it, some pendants will inform you, is not a word. But the OED found lots of old examples, e.g., "A petition..against the disallowing of the drawbacks on calicoes and foreign linens, was offered to be presented to the house" (1764).

"Disappointable" needs no explanation. Example: "Idealists..are very disappointable people—disappointed in themselves for failing their own high expectations and in others" (Colorado Springs Gazette, 1985).

"Flâneuse" is easy if you know "flâneur" and understand French endings. A "flâneuse" is "A woman who saunters around observing life and society; a leisurely woman about town." There's an example from 1879, but I like that the OED has a quote from just last July (in the Sunday Telegraph): "Elkin has written a delightfully meandering study of Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys and other female flâneuses who dared to stroll." The italics seem to indicate that the Telegraph believed it was using a French word. But the OED is proclaiming it an English word.

Now, I want to get out and saunter around, observing life and society in Madison, Wisconsin, but I invite you to use the 4 newly official English words in one sentence.

IN THE COMMENTS: tcrosse asked:
So has "fuckable" yet been admitted to the Language of Shakespeare?
As a matter of fact, it has:

"The fly agaric is the quintessential mushroom of fairy tales."

"Its big, bright fruiting bodies scatter in great numbers across mossy forests of North America and Europe. They emerge from the soil first like white eggs, abandoned by some mysterious creature of the woods. They can grow up to a foot tall, as warts appear on the cap. The mushroom often blushes red in the process. Finally, they crack open and flatten into a polka-dot disc that would make a gnome’s perfect dinner plate...."

Writes Joanna Klein in the NYT.

The photos of the mushrooms are very cool, but this is what caught my eye:
They are called the fly agaric because in some places, people lace milk with bits of it to lure and kill flies. The insects become inebriated, crash into walls and die, according to the blog of Tom Volk, a mycologist at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.
Click on that word "blog" to see some eye-searing retro website design (from 1999) that might cause you to become inebriated and crash into walls. You will not die, but you will be sucked into a past that is a place you will find hard to believe ever existed.

Klein tells us that the chemicals in the mushroom, ibotenic acid and muscimol, can cause "dry mouth and rapid heartbeat to euphoria, hallucinations, feeling closer to God and fear."

I had all those effects just looking at the mycologist's website.

ADDED: I remember where I've seen those mushrooms. On this nutty book from that caused a freakout in 1970:


"[John Marco] Allegro argues, through etymology, that the roots of Christianity, and many other religions, lay in fertility cults, and that cult practices, such as ingesting visionary plants to perceive the mind of God, persisted into the early Christian era, and to some unspecified extent into the 13th century with reoccurrences in the 18th century and mid-20th century, as he interprets the fresco of the Plaincourault Chapel to be an accurate depiction of the ritual ingestion of Amanita muscaria [fly agaric] as the Eucharist. Allegro argued that Jesus never existed as a historical figure and was a mythological creation of early Christians under the influence of psychoactive mushroom extracts such as psilocybin."

Here's that Fresco:

"Perhaps the longer a violation persists, the greater the affront to those offended."

Wrote 4th Circuit Judge Stephanie D. Thacker, responding to dissenting Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory, who said that the fact that the 40-foot cross had gone unchallenged for 90 years is a reason to let it stay where it is, on a highway median in Prince George’s County.

WaPo reports.
The initial challenge in Maryland was brought by the American Humanist Association, a Washington-based group that represents atheists and others. The group did not dispute the monument is a memorial, but said in court that a giant cross on government property sends a message of exclusion in violation of the First Amendment....

At oral argument last December, Thacker and Wynn suggested the legal issues could be resolved outside of court by moving the site of the cross — or by cutting off the arms of the cross to form an obelisk.
What message is sent by the government's cutting off the "arms" of a cross?! Talk about a cure worse than the disease. Were these judges joking?

I'm linking to the Washington Post because that's where I first saw the story, but I was confused by its statement that the cross "has marked a major intersection in Prince George’s County for 90 years" and "had been public property for 50 years without a constitutional challenge." Here's the actual judicial opinion, with the statement "the Cross has stood unchallenged for 90 years."

If the Post is leaving such glaring mistakes, what does that suggest about about the things that are hard to notice and check? The linked article has been up since 2:57 PM yesterday. Does nobody over there at least try to clean up embarrassing shoddiness?

Also, now that I'm reading the opinion, I see that the idea of cutting off the "arms" of the cross seems to have come not from the judges but the appellants. Footnote 7:
Appellants later clarified their desired injunctive relief as removal or demolition of the Cross, or removal of the arms from the Cross “to form a non-religious slab or obelisk.” [Joint Appendix] 131.
This question of giving special respect to old monuments goes back to something Justice Breyer wrote in one of the 10 Commandments cases in 2005. Breyer's vote was the deciding vote, and as I explained back in 2011, when issue of the day was "Big Mountain Jesus":
Justice Breyer quoted the 1963 school prayer opinion written by Justice Goldberg: "[U]ntutored devotion to the concept of neutrality can lead to invocation or approval of results which partake not simply of that noninterference and noninvolvement with the religious which the Constitution commands, but of a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular and a passive, or even active, hostility to the religious."

And Breyer concluded that taking down the old stone monument in Texas would "exhibit a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions" and "encourage disputes concerning the removal of longstanding depictions of the Ten Commandments from public buildings across the Nation," which would "create the very kind of religiously based divisiveness that the Establishment Clause seeks to avoid."
That's the prevailing Supreme Court precedent to which we can compare the new 4th Circuit case. Think about that quote in the post title: "Perhaps the longer a violation persists, the greater the affront to those offended." But the longer the monument persists, the more taking it down feels like a message of hostility to religion.

Or do you think the people watching the arms cut off a cross would see the symbolic meaning as the enforcement of Establishment Clause values?

By the way, the obelisk originally "symbolized the sun god Ra, and during the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten was said to be a petrified ray of the Aten, the sundisk."


"Joseph Sells Grain" by Bartholomeus Breenbergh (1655).

The struggle to purge religion from public view will go on forever, because there is just too much religion embedded everywhere. To try to remove one thing is to create something else:

"Virginia Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Ralph Northam omitted any mention of Justin Fairfax, the party’s African American candidate for lieutenant governor..."

"... from about a thousand pieces of campaign literature, a move Fairfax called a 'mistake' and that has stoked tensions within the Democratic ticket and threatens to alienate African American voters three weeks before Election Day. The palm cards with photos of Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) were produced for canvassers with the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which asked that Fairfax be excluded because it did not endorse him. Fairfax has spoken critically of two proposed natural gas pipelines that the union supports."

WaPo reports.

It's a "mistake" only in the sense that what they did completely intentionally has received attention and made them look bad. And do you even believe the explanation for why they did it? These were palm cards with photos. I would guess that the party is afraid that black people who see a photo of a black face will decide that's the one to vote for.

ADDED: I'm misreading this, so my guess there is wrong. Northam is the only Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. So the Democrats can't be accused of trying to redirect black voters to a white candidate. They may be trying to hide the black candidate from voters who don't like or are skeptical of black candidates, but I'm willing to believe the union's argument: they don't like his position on pipelines and didn't mind risking alienating black people (until it got too much attention).

IN THE COMMENTS: cubanbob said:
So the Democrats are hiding the candidate the union rank and file would be against since he is against their interests. That's the problem for the Democrats; too many interest groups to placate and many of them at cross purposes.

The Cake Artists brief says our right to freedom of expression is a strong as the right of artists who work in media other than cake.

I'm noticing the BRIEF FOR CAKE ARTISTS AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF NEITHER PARTY (PDF) in the pending Supreme Court case — Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Phillips — about whether there's a religious freedom exemption to the requirement not to discriminate against gay people.

I love this brief. It says what I believe I've been saying in numerous posts. It's not a question of whether people with a religious objection to same-sex marriage can refuse to sell all manner of goods and services to gay customers. Nor is about about whether the cakeshop is forced to "bake a cake" for the wedding. It's about whether it must decorate the cake — apply icing and other materials to the surface of the cake to shape images and write words that say something substantive about the wedding. 

From the brief:
Amici take no position as to which party should prevail in this specific case. Their interest lies in making a single point—that their work, like that of petitioner Jack Phillips, requires artistic exertion within an expressive endeavor to generate works of art. Many of the amici listed below would gladly have prepared the cake that respondents requested—but they would have done so by accepting a commission to create a work of edible art. Amici wish to illustrate—literally, through the images of their own work in this brief—that cake design and preparation is an art....

Cakes for every conceivable occasion, ranging from the grandeur of weddings to abject apologies, can convey articulable messages. Sometimes words are used to assist in conveying those messages. But the art of custom cake design and creation is not so limited. Other times, the art behind a cake is simply sheer beauty or the technical mastery that it required. Cake artists must be adept at a multitude of artistic endeavors beyond simply “baking.” They must have visual-arts skills to design a cake that is pleasing to the eye—painting, drawing, and sculpting. They need the skills of an interior de- signer to create a unified whole from a series of individually artistic elements. They require the grace and technical powers of an architect, so that the final product moves from the theoretical to the real....

[C]ustom wedding cakes—even of the traditional variety—typically involve subtle elements that reflect the personality of the new couple (and perhaps the artist).... Cakes can still be instantly identifiable as part of the wedding genre yet involve stunning and unique elements that appear only as part of a special design.

The argument continues in this vein, with many more photographs of cakes, so please go to the link and see.

At one point, the argument turns to "America’s multi-cultural traditions" and shows an example of a very distinctive cake celebrating a wedding and the couple's Indian cultural heritage:
Even as a wedding cake carries a message about the wedding, the photograph of the cake conveys a legal argument: Art can come in cake form and the expression contained in cake can be complex and even — bonk you over the head, liberal Justices — multi-cultural.

This has me thinking that gayness is also a culture within "America’s multi-cultural traditions." A cake for a same-sex wedding might be a generic cake, but the Cake Artists wouldn't give this couple just another cake. They'd get specific. Yes, I'm seeing the brief goes in this direction at page 16. Some of the Cake Artists on the brief make cakes for same-sex weddings, and they make them a specific expression of gay pride. I'd been thinking of the expression in terms of the icing and other stuff on the outside of the cake, but the brief describes a cake with coloring in the batter, so that the cake-cutting at the reception would be a performance: revealing a rainbow.

That idea of performance is used, later in the brief, to counter the argument that cakes are transitory food:
But the fact that any given cake is a vanishing work does not distinguish it from artistic performances on the stage (or, indeed, protests on the street). Nature’s beauty is no less revealed through the flower that blooms for a single day than through the tree that lives for a thousand years; likewise, an ice sculpture is not inherently less artistic than one carved from stone....
That's getting poetic. Are legal briefs art?

The conclusion is not about who ought to win the case, but only "that cake artists are indeed practitioners of an expressive art and that they are entitled to the same respect under the First Amendment as artists using any other medium."

October 18, 2017

"People have to be careful because at some point I fight back. I'm being very nice. I'm being very, very nice."

"But at some point I fight back, and it won't be pretty," said Donald Trump on a radio show when he was asked about John McCain's speech complaining about "half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems."

McCain's line sounds nasty as he delivered it (which you can see at the link), but really isn't that bad if you examine it word for word. He's not denouncing "nationalism," just nationalism that's not good enough. And he's saying he prefers to solve problems. That is, he's not that interested in ideas, and yet maybe he would be interested in an idea — including nationalism — if the people using it would develop it in a careful and serious way.

I'm also interested in the mixed metaphor because of the effort to keep it unmixed by pairing "half-baked" with "cooked" and then wrecking it with "scapegoats." Though goats can be cooked, a scapegoat is not cooked, but sent out into the wilderness.


"The Scapegoat" by William Holman Hunt, 1854.

Looking at that picture, I wondered if the "scape" in "scapegoat" was like the "scape" in "landscape," but the OED tells me it's like the "scape" in "escape.” "Landscape" comes from the Dutch "landschap," with the "schap" part being like the "-ship" ending in words like "friendship" and "scholarship." The word "landscape" began in painting, and I did like that painting of the scapegoat in the landscape. I'd like to title it "Goatscape."

"Obama picks genius hip-hop portraitist Kehinde Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait."

"Known for lush, larger-than-life portraits that overlay black street culture with European classical motifs, Wiley is an exciting choice for the presidential portrait. Imaginably, the New York-based artist will have a novel spin on the traditionally formal composition. Wiley has painted rapper LL Cool J in the style of John Singer Sargent, Ice T as Emperor Napoleon by David and young African American men in stained glass tableaus, like saints in a cathedral."

Quartz reports (showing examples of Wiley's work to give you an idea of what the Obama portrait might looks like).

More images at Metro — "Obama’s chosen the coolest artist for his official presidential portrait."

"IT HELPS WHEN YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO WIN: Investor’s Business Daily: Trump Defeats ISIS In Months — After Years Of Excuses From Obama."

I'm reading that at Instapundit, but instead of clicking through to Investor's Business Daily, I follow my well-worn path to The New York Times, where I still believe I'm going to get the official news, the real news, the professional news.

At the NYT, the headline is: "With Loss of Its Caliphate, ISIS May Return to Guerrilla Roots." So, we have a great victory — don't we? — but we can't take a moment to feel good about it. Immediately, we plunge into doubt. Maybe we're even worse off if these people don't have their territory. That's the vibe at the NYT article. Here's how it begins:
Its de facto capital is falling. Its territory has shriveled from the size of Portugal to a handful of outposts. Its surviving leaders are on the run.

But rather than declare the Islamic State and its virulent ideology conquered, many Western and Arab counterterrorism officials are bracing for a new, lethal incarnation of the jihadi group.

The organization has a proven track record as an insurgency able to withstand major military onslaughts, while still recruiting adherents around the world ready to kill in its name.

Islamic State leaders signaled more than a year ago that they had drawn up contingency plans to revert to their roots as a guerrilla force after the loss of their territory in Iraq and Syria. Nor does the group need to govern cities to inspire so-called lone wolf terrorist attacks abroad, a strategy it has already adopted to devastating effect in Manchester, England, and Orlando, Fla....
Read the whole thing. It continues in that vein. It ends by saying that al Qaeda might win back the young hotheads who'd been attracted to ISIS and frightens/titillates us with the idea of a newer, younger bin Laden:
The older group has been urging followers to pivot from the Islamic State’s focus on the battlefields of the Middle East and instead put an emphasis on attacks in the United States and other foreign lands. It has also been promoting a younger, charismatic new leader: Hamza bin Laden, 27, the son of Osama.
I went looking for a picture of this charmer. Here:

At the Accomplished Writer Café...

DSC08285

... accomplish whatever writings you want.

And if you have any shopping to accomplish, please accomplish it through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

I accomplished that photograph in 2010. The future that cookie predicted is now.

"And, during this time, a female producer had me do a nude lineup with about five women who were much, much thinner than me."

"And we all stood side-by-side with only paste-ons covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating lineup, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.... I asked to speak to a producer about the unrealistic diet regime and he responded by telling me he didn't know why everyone thought I was so fat, he thought I was perfectly 'fuckable.'"

Said Jennifer Lawrence, at Elle's Women in Hollywood, giving us a glimpse of the kind of female producers you get in Hollywood.

Listen up, columnists who proffer the solution of putting some more women in positions of executive power.* Women do hurt other women, and they can do it in a system in which the men are out to sexually exploit women. For one thing, some women are into sexually dominating/humiliating other women. For another, if the men are structuring the workplace around their own sexual interests, the women who rise within the power structure may be the ones who play along, facilitate, and demonstrate what tough gals they are. And then there's just good old fashioned woman-on-woman cruelty — all that envy and the burning desire to be The Woman.

_________________________

* For example, NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg, who reacted to the Harvey Weinstein story with "Put Women in Charge" (though, to her credit, she said, "Obviously, female bosses can be abusive and can create cultures where abusive behavior toward underlings is tolerated"):
Feminism’s energy has shifted left, toward women who want to dismantle the ruling class, not diversify it. When “broader female access to executive perches in Wall Street and Silicon Valley gets treated as some sort of movement-wide victory, then something clearly has gone wrong in our understanding of what feminism is and can do,” Jessa Crispin wrote in The New Republic. ...

Nevertheless, as long as we have a hierarchal society, the gender of those at the top matters....

"Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!"

Wow. I thought — even knowing Trump's penchant for defending himself — that he'd have kept silent on this one.

A woman's husband had died, Trump made a 5-minute telephone call, and Rep. Frederica Wilson, claiming to have been sitting with the widow and listening to the conversation on the speakerphone, went public with a snippet of quote from the conversation — the man "knew what he signed up for... but when it happens it hurts anyway" — and to assert that the widow remarked that Trump didn't remember the dead man's name.

The man's name was La David Johnson, and I'm thinking that if Trump resisted saying the name, perhaps he worried that he didn't have the right name: Could it really be La David? Is that a man's name?

And what was the whole context of the conversation? The chain of words "knew what he signed up for" could appear in a good-enough message of condolence. I've heard this idea expressed many times. It's one way that we praise those in the all-volunteer military. They are courageous and generous to put their lives on the line for us.

But I chose not to say anything like that yesterday, because I believed in the etiquette of giving priority to the widow's grief. The power of Congresswoman Wilson's speech was, I would have thought, that you can't respond to it. Common sense says: You'll only make it worse. You'll be taking the bait, giving the story another day of life and creating new evidence that will be used against you.

But Trump — the man is not normal — did not take the common-sense approach and keep silent. He's a man who fights back. His response is pretty good and in classic Trump style: "Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!"

He goes after the Congresswoman (and doesn't mention the widow, whose exposure was all the Congresswoman's doing).

He tells us the Congresswoman is a Democrat. We might stop there and say: This is politics. A Trump-hater, probably, taking the awful step of appropriating the widow's grief for political purposes.

Or we might read more about her. In the article I linked to (in The Daily Mail), I see that she — like the widow and the dead soldier — is African-American. She's also rich, 74 years old, misses a lot of votes in Congress, and avoided the Trump inauguration. Now, I'm thinking way too much about Wilson, but the question is: Did she lie? Who knows? I assume she at least presented what she knew in a manner that would hurt Trump. This becomes another Democratic Party in Trumpland story.

The claim that he has "proof" and the closing shot "Sad!" are classic Trump. Whether he has good enough character can't matter when he doesn't have enough characters (in the Twitter sense). Can it?

Of course it can, especially to people who already hate him. But they can't hate him anymore than they already do. Those who love Trump, I suspect, will accept "(and I have proof). Sad!" It's brusque — so is "he knew what he signed up for." But that's Trump, the man they love.

As for the people who neither love nor hate Trump, the lovers and haters might think such people do not exist. He's the ultimate love-him-or-hate-him guy. But I'm here to tell you there are such people. It's weird. But we exist.

Reese Witherspoon, why have you protected this man for a quarter century and why do you still protect him?

The 41-year-old movie star said this at ELLE's Women in Hollywood event:
I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate. A lot of the feelings I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action. True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment.
And I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault, and I don’t speak about them very often, but after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.
The answer to the question in my post title seems to be: I wanted the job. It sounds as though she was made to understand the conditions of employment, when she could have gone to the police, and that she decided to join a conspiracy of silence.

She was only 16 years old, which makes the crime worse and her failure to report it more forgivable, but if she was 16, she was surely represented, and there was someone there on her side, someone with much more experience and understanding of how the business works. Yes, I see the word "agents" in that first paragraph. Did the girl's own agent participate in grooming her into the Hollywood life?

You haven't been a girl for a long time, Ms. Witherspoon. I appreciate your confession to "guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action," but you are saying this after reaping rewards for 25 years, while other girls entered the system and faced a man you could have exposed in 1991. You say you feel "less alone" now, but had the power all this time to help other women feel "less alone." What held you back? Somebody else had to go first? Some reporter (like, today, Ronan Farrow) needed to build a substantial structure around you and others to make it safe?

Why was there no Ronan Farrow in 1991?

1991 was the year that the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded that America understand sexual harrassment, as it grilled Clarence Thomas on charges of sexual harassment. There, the allegations were not about any physical assault, but pressure to go on dates and some remarks about pornography and pubic hair, and the person on the receiving end was no teenager but a Yale-Law-School-trained adult. Once those allegations were taken seriously as sexual harassment, why were there no journalists looking to break stories?

Why wouldn't someone have talked to the Women of Hollywood?

I hear my readers yelling at the computer screen: Because of politics. Sexual harassment was only taken seriously in 1991 as a means to an end, to defeat the conservative Supreme Court nominee. And the Men of Hollywood were liberals and donors to liberal causes and therefore the journalists had no motivation to go looking. Looking the other way was the means to what was the same political end. That's the obvious hypothesis. (It could also be that the knowing, sophisticated journalists understood the desire for sex and didn't want to blow up the whole game. Perhaps they themselves or their loved ones would be vulnerable if rampant exposure got going.)

This has been one hell of a conspiracy of silence. It's full of so many people — people we like, such Reese Witherspoon.

Behind the glossy, smiling faces of the Women of Hollywood, I see a crowd of women's faces. I sense the ghostly presence of all of the women who no to the conspiracy, who didn't want the job enough to go along with a system that victimized them and victimized and would continue to victimize other women.

There's a long way to go to extract yourself from the harm, Ms. Witherspoon. Feeling guilty for not speaking up earlier is a good start. Now, how about naming the man you just referred to? You were 16, and I can look at your IMDB page and see what directors you worked with in 1991. I should think you'd name the man if only to avoid casting suspicion on the 2 or 3 other names from that time.

And what about all the "multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault"?

It's not enough to stand up at the Women in Hollywood event and spout generalities and say you feel empowered. If the truth doesn't pour out now, the conspiracy of silence will have won.

October 17, 2017

At the Autumn Café...

Untitled

... you can talk all night.

And, please, if you've got some shopping to do, use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

50 years ago today: The musical "Hair" opens at the Public Theater in NYC.

The off-Broadway run began on October 17, 1967.
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a... product of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s... The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of "rock musical", using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-In" finale.
Here's how the review looked in the NYT:
If good intentions were golden, 'Hair,' at Joseph Papp's new Florence Sutro Anspacher Theater, would be great. As it is it is merely pretty good; an honest attempt to jolt the American musical into the nine-sixties, and a musical that is trying to relate to something other than Sigmund Romberg.
Sigmund Romberg? The reference is lost on me. (Here.)
If it had a story — which to be honest it hasn't — that story would be about the young disenchanted, turned on by pot, switched off by the draft, living and loving, the new products of affluence, the dispossessed dropouts. That, if it had a story, would be what "Hair" is about.


Man, what an old fogey the NYT was! The reviewer was Clive Barnes.

I was 16 at the time, and I probably only heard about the show after it moved to Broadway. I scorned it, because it seemed that old people and commercial interests were trying to trade on the hippie movement, which seemed too pure and beautiful to have anything to do with Broadway. I didn't regard the music as rock music, so it was annoying to hear it called a "rock" musical. Like Clive Barnes, I resisted the show, but for what was — in "generation gap" terms — a completely different reason.

"Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium..."

"... the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews. Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show...."

The Hill reports.

"What Would Women Be Doing if We Weren’t Constantly Dealing With Male Abuse?"

"The torrent of #MeToo stories reveals just how much time we spend dealing with this shit," writes Joan Walsh in The Nation.

The last 2 paragraphs confused me:
Then I think about a couple of consensual experiences with men hugely my superiors. The come-ons took me by surprise, and flattered me, and seemed real. Like, of course I deserve this attention! I’m great! Or at least pretty great, right? In none of these instances was I chasing a job, or an affair either. I was flattered by the unexpected attention of a powerful man I respected. I knew I could learn from them; I enjoyed spending time with them. Also, by the way, they were married, so it was safe, right? I confidently spent time alone with them, believing they were interested in my mind and my work. Who wouldn’t be?

They weren’t. I would eventually learn that there was no actual relationship offer on the table, and no professional benefit either. And again I felt like: I am a fucking fool.
That sounds like she accepted a date and wanted a relationship (and even liked that the guy was an adulterer). Let's not mush everything together! This #MeToo stuff could get really stupid. At least she announces I am a fucking fool. I know, she means back then. But she's using the present tense.

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt said:
Yeah, a married guy who chases after young women is safe--who thinks this way?
Absolutely no one. Joan Walsh, who is 59 years old, is still selling herself as a naive, innocent girl. She was going out with some other woman's husband, as far as I can tell. Look, we're in an important moment, when women can come together and support other women. Don't mess it up with bullshit like this.

"But the two dictators were would-be intellectuals—Adolf Hitler a failed painter inebriated with the music of Wagner, and Mussolini a onetime schoolteacher and novelist."

"Unlike American philistines, they thought literature and the arts were important, and wanted to weaponize them as adjuncts to military conquest.... During World War I German patriotic propaganda vaunted the superiority of Germany’s supposedly rooted, organic, spiritual Kultur over the allegedly effete, shallow, cosmopolitan, materialist, Jewish-influenced 'civilization' of Western Europe.... Hitler invested considerable money and time in the 1930s, and even after World War II began, in an effort to take over Europe’s cultural organizations and turn them into instruments of German power.... Goebbels and Hitler were as obsessed with movies as American adolescents are today with social media. Convinced that cinema was their era’s main engine of cultural influence, they tried to control filmmaking as far as their influence could reach.... The dominance of American films had troubled European filmmakers and intellectuals from the beginning.... Hitler’s efforts to stem the mass appeal of Hollywood films and jazz only made them... more seductive and, in a final irony, prepared for the triumph of American music, jeans, and film in the postwar world by trying to make them taboo...."

From "The Cultural Axis" in The New York Review of Books. The reviewed book is "The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture."

"Hours before it was to take effect, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order on Tuesday blocking, for now, President Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban."

"It would have indefinitely stopped almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the Muslim-majority nations included in his original travel ban."

(NYT.)

"I’m a human being, and there’s a lot that I’ve chosen not to share, but absolutely I am deeply, deeply hurt if any women who has been assaulted — or man — thinks that in any way I was victim-blaming."

"In 900 words, I did the best I could to describe an entire, very complicated dynamic that is really best left for a thesis or an hourlong talk," said Mayim Bialik, quoted in The Daily Mail.

She's apologizing after getting criticized for writing (in a NYT op-ed):
I have... experienced the upside of not being a "perfect ten." As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms. Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the “luxury” of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money.
She overplayed the comic idea of ugly privilege. Reverse lookism is dicier than you might think.

"[NAME DELETED] didn't realize what an eyeful she'd get when she bought her million-dollar apartment overlooking Marcus Garvey Park."

"Beside the sweeping views of the Birch, Maple and Sweetgum trees that fill the park, she can often see men and women having sex there in broad daylight. 'I saw a lot of b---jobs, guys having sex, guys masturbating, I really saw the whole gamut,' [NAME DELETED], who lived in the complex for five years, said. She moved out in August.... Construction workers noticed it when the building was being constructed, doorman David Lamboy said. At first, he thought the construction crew was exaggerating. But when a resident asked him to water the plants while she was on vacation, Lamboy saw it with his own eyes. 'I’m a lifelong New Yorker. I’ve seen many things, but what I saw that day shocked me,' the doorman recounted...."

From DNAinfo.

... water the plants while she was on vacation, Lamboy saw it with his own eyes....

I wish Harvey Weinstein hadn't got me thinking about potted plants the way I am now. Or — jeez how debased we are — I see the restaurant owner is confirming the story but correcting a key detail:
“What I remember about this incident is that my sous chef came into my office, furious, telling me that ‘some fat fuck’ saying he’s an owner — he didn’t know the name — had come into the kitchen with a woman and shoved a $100 bill at him and told him to get out,” [Armin] Amiri told THR. “It was like 1:30 in the morning and he’d been the only one still there. The chef told me he was going to quit.” Later, Amiri said he saw Weinstein fix his belt behind the bar, but couldn’t see that there was a woman with him. While [Lauren] Sivan said Weinstein masturbated into a potted plant, Amiri recalls that he’d actually done it into a pot: When the chef picked up a pot placed on the stove, “It had been defiled,” Amiri recalled. “It was so bizarre. We couldn’t believe it happened."
That's improved my ideation around potted plants, but I never want to eat in a restaurant again. 

"Imagine if everywhere you looked — even in the dark — you saw static, as if the entire world were an untuned analogue TV."

"For people with a mysterious condition called 'visual snow,' that’s the frustrating, often agonizing daily reality: endless static, often accompanied by floating spots, bright flashes, trails of light, and other visual phenomena that make it hard to see or concentrate."

(The Cut (NY Mag)).

Lawrence Lessig tells us the 5-step procedure for getting Hillary to be President, and none of the steps are "????"

But you probably already know what these steps are. They're just so unlikely that they're obviously not going to happen:
If number 1: If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia, he would be forced to resign or be impeached.

If number 2: If Trump is removed, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

If number 3: If Pence becomes president, he should resign too, given that he benefited from the same help from Mother Russia.

If number 4: If Pence resigns before appointing a vice president, Ryan would become president.

If number 5: If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.
I'm quoting the paraphrasing at Newsweek, by Julia Glum. I don't like the wording at #1, "If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia...." That makes it sound as though he's already been found to have colluded with Russia (just not "definitively" or "directly").

And I hate the jocose use of the term "Mother Russia." I know that female personification of the country exists in Russian history — originally in an anti-Bolshevik context...



Glum's use of the phrase feels like some stray sexist taunting — as if Trump and Pence are mama's boys.

Here's the Lessig original, at Medium. It doesn't have the wording that bothers me. Step 1 is:
What if there were a conspiracy?

This “if” has got to be specified very precisely. The question is not whether Trump obstructed justice, or is guilty of tax evasion, or has violated the Emoluments Clause or done any other act justifying impeachment. The “if” here is quite specific: It relates explicitly to the validity of the election. The question I’m asking here is what should happen if Trump conspired with a foreign government to get elected?
Lessig doesn't even say "colluded with." He says "conspired with." Step 1 is a huge "if," and Lessig isn't implying (as I read this) that we're already part of the way toward finding a conspiracy. I'd say that so much time and effort have been put into looking for collusion/conspiracy that we're pretty far along toward saying definitively that there wasn't one.

But I think something else is missing here, something that is key toward establishing points #3 and #5. Was the participation of Russia what caused Hillary Clinton to fall as short as she did in the Electoral College? If only Trump conspired, but Trump won because of his open message to the voters and Hillary Clinton's shortcomings, then we're missing a causation element that would be needed to reject Pence and Ryan and to persuade Ryan that the "right thing" would be to give the presidency to Hillary. Lessig says:
By hypothesis, we’re assuming the office was effectively stolen from the legitimate winner by a criminal and treasonous act of the (previous) leader of Ryan’s own party.
No. Even if we knew that Trump conspired with Russia to get Russia to do some things like spread disinformation in social media, we wouldn't know that without that, Hillary would have won.

I don't think the things Russia is said to have done were enough to shift the Electoral College victory from Hillary to Trump. So, let's say Step 1 is satisfied. Okay: Impeach Trump. But unless you can establish that without that conspiracy, the people would have elected Hillary, you haven't shown why the people aren't entitled to have Pence as their President, and you haven't shown why Ryan would step down and why he would bring in the defeated candidate from the other party.

I know it's hard for Lessig and many others to believe that the people preferred Trump — the man and his policies — to Hillary Clinton — the woman and her policies — but that's what I think happened, and it would be very hard to make me believe that something the Russians did tipped that preference.

Professor Lessig, you need a causation element. 

When Courtney Love was asked, in 2005, "Do you have any advice for a young girl moving to Hollywood?"

She said "I’ll get libeled if I say it. If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go."



Via TMZ.

(By "I’ll get libeled if I say it," she meant "I'll get sued for libel if I say it," and really, "libel" is the wrong word. It should be "slander" or "defamation.")

ADDED: Also at TMZ:
Our Weinstein sources say he knows he's "momentarily toxic" but thinks with a little time, writers and actors will seek him out again because of his track record. He believes -- and probably rightly so -- that TWC exists because of him. He believes he can go back and produce movies, or he can just as easily do it somewhere else.
"Momentarily toxic." What a phrase! But O.J. Simpson has been seen chatting up women in a Las Vegas bar, so maybe cleansing toxins is a thing that happens in America.

ALSO: I wonder what calculations went through Ms. Love's head as paused. She began with a long "Umm" (an umm that I hear as knowing and sarcastic, not as slow-thinking or hesitant). She makes a show of looking over at a companion or adviser (which I see as performance). It's meant to focus the listener's attention, as is the next line: "I’ll get libeled if I say it." We're really ready to hear it now. Then, very quick, conveying the sense of urgency, danger, and being let in on a secret, she says: "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go."

Now, what if Love had been sued for libel? First, why would Weinstein sue? He'd be opening the door to discovery about his modus operandi, which had been going on for over a decade at that point. The shit would have hit the fan 12 years before it did. And he would have lost the case for sure. Courtney's line doesn't state a fact about him. She's just advising actresses on what to do IF there's an invitation, and she doesn't say why the actress should not go. Plus, Harvey Weinstein was a public figure and would have had a high burden of proof.

So I wish Weinstein had sued Love because — and maybe at the time Love realized this at the time — the lawsuit would have advanced an important cause. Love has $100+ million and could afford great lawyers. And she'd have been a big feminist hero.

IN THE COMMENTS:Virgil Hilts said:
As a lawyer who dislikes almost all lawyers (the profession where the 98% who are bad apples make the other 2% look bad) I'm upset more lawyers are not being crucified in connection with this. If Weinstein enterprise was like a mafia whose goal was not so much to make $ as to allow HW to assault hundreds of women with impunity, then the attorneys here were the hit men. Its one thing to defend a client who screws up once or twice (say, like OJ!). It's another thing to become the legal oppression grease that makes a young-woman rape machine continue to run like a well-oiled machine over 20-30 years. Any attorneys who helped HW more than twice were complicit IMHO and shouldn't be getting a pass. But they have.

"Individual pours will be sold for $55 each, in timed, ticketed experiences in Klatch’s private tasting room."

Individual pours of coffee.

"Some 130 million years ago, in another galaxy, two neutron stars... produced gravitational waves... a brief flash of light a million trillion times as bright as the sun..."

"... and then a hot cloud of radioactive debris. The afterglow hung for several days, shifting from bright blue to dull red as the ejected material cooled in the emptiness of space. Astronomers detected the aftermath of the merger on Earth on August 17... Using infrared telescopes, astronomers studied the spectra—the chemical composition of cosmic objects—of the collision and found that the plume ejected by the merger contained a host of newly formed heavy chemical elements, including gold, silver, platinum, and others. Scientists estimate the amount of cosmic bling totals about 10,000 Earth-masses of heavy elements."

From "The Plume of Gold Ejected by a Cosmic Collision" (The Atlantic).

"57 Things I Need You to Stop Doing to the Women You Work With/I'm begging you: Don't be a creep at work."

I was going to say, that headline, if it wants to meet its own high standards, seems wrong because it assumes the reader is a man (and a heterosexual man at that), and I was going to say that's all right because it's in Esquire.

But now, I'm thinking the "you" works on women and nonheterosexual men. You shouldn't do these things to women in the workplace.

And you shouldn't do equivalent things to men in the workplace.

So I'm just going to take issue with the last sentence: "And if she wants to fuck you, she will tell you."

October 16, 2017

A-ha... the same song, in 2017, without the familiar video.



Lovely.

"For the first time since gruesome accounts of the systematic detention and torture of gay men began leaking out of Russia’s republic of Chechnya..."

"... a young man has gone public with his story," WaPo reports.
Maxim Lapunov, 30, told reporters on Monday that he was demanding justice from the Russian government for the 12 days he spent locked in a blood-soaked jail cell, led out daily with a plastic bag over his head to be beaten by police officers demanding he confess to being gay...

Lapunov, who is ethnically Russian, is the first person to make a formal complaint to Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee challenging a government narrative that the “gay pogrom” in Chechnya never existed because no victims have come forward....

Kadyrov, the powerful head of Chechnya, was installed by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in 2007 with wide-reaching powers to suppress a militant insurgency in the region. He has built a powerful cult of personality and championed conservative values in the mostly Muslim region.

“If there are any [gays], take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them,” he told HBO in a televised interview in July.

"The sun went bang, with smithereens of birds bursting in all directions."

Wrote D.H. Lawrence in "Mornings in Mexico" (1927).

Whence this word "smithereens"? It's smithers, with an Irish diminutive ending, but the OED can't figure out where "smithers" came from.

I had never noticed the word "smithers" before, but Charles Dickens used it in "Our Mutual Friend" (1865): "The old lady nearly blowed us into shivers and smithers, many times."

"Smithers" does work as a last name. There's Mr. Smithers on "The Simpsons," and Dickens has a Miss Smithers in "The Pickwick Papers," but why would you throw an Irish diminutive ending on that name and use it to mean small fragments? The OED doesn't make the obvious move of connecting it to "smith" and I don't know enough about smithing to have any idea if small fragments are created (other than that I'm seeing photos of blacksmiths who are not wearing eye protections).

"Smithereens" was the name of a 1982 movie about a young woman from New Jersey getting into the NYC punk rock scene. It was the first film by Susan Seidelman, who went on to make "Desperately Seeking Susan."

Also in the early 80s were The Smithereens, a rock band from New Jersey. What was it about New Jersey and smithereens back then?



I'm thinking (remembering?) that feeling fragmented was arty and cool in that time and place.

According to Wikipedia, "The band's name comes from a Yosemite Sam catchphrase, 'Varmint, I'm a-gonna blow you to smithereens!'"

There's a town in British Columbia called Smithers, named after some railroad guy was named Smithers, and it seems to be the case that townsfolk prefer to be called Smithereens, rather than the less snazzy Smitherite.

"I think there's a lack of information out there about rope jumping..."

"... anyone who watches these jumping videos, please please don't try it on your own!"

ADDED: That video was shot in Yosemite National Park. Right after reading that, I saw this piece about a couple dying in Joshua Tree National Park:
Two bodies have been found in Joshua Tree National Park, locked in an embrace, nearly three months after a southern California couple vanished while hiking nearby....

Orbeso and Nguyen's car, a burgundy Lexus, was discovered near the Maze Loop, in the northwest area of the park, and footprints were seen leading away from it. 'The way the tracks were picked up indicate these people could be walking in circles, which is not uncommon when people are lost,' George Land, a spokesman for Joshua Tree National Park, told the Orange County Register.

Temperatures in the park had topped 100 degrees and it was unclear whether the couple had water and supplies with them. Land said the couple did not appear to be experienced hikers.

"Lars von Trier Denies Bjork’s Sexual Harassment Allegations."

Variety reports.
“It was extremely clear to me when I walked into the actresses profession (sic) that my humiliation and role as a lesser sexually harassed being was the norm and set in stone with the director and a staff of dozens who enabled it and encouraged it,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “When I turned the director down repeatedly, he sulked and punished me and created for his team an impressive net of illusion where I was framed as the difficult one. Because of my strength, my great team, and because I had nothing to loose (sic) having no ambitions in the acting world, I walked away from it and recovered in a years time.... the director was fully aware of this game and I am sure of that (sic) the film he made after was based on his experiences with me. Because I was the first one that stood up to him and didn’t let him get away with it.”
The film von Trier made with Bjork was "Dancer in the Dark." The next one — which Bjork believes was based on Von Trier's experiences with her — was was "Dogville." I saw the harrowing "Dancer in the Dark," because I'd been led to believe it was a significant work of art. I avoided "Dogville" however. The description in Variety is enough to remind me why: "Nicole Kidman’s character was repeatedly raped after being accused of betraying the townspeople of a small American village."

"One deputy's rescue efforts late Sunday night and early Monday morning in the Mark West area during the Tubbs Fire."



Sonoma Sheriff Robert Giordano said: "I think it really tells the story of how dangerous and how difficult the event was. It’s absolutely human and it’s very real and very honest and transparent."

Trump in the Rose Garden.

Live now (and you can scroll back to the beginning):



ADDED: "Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope! Hillary, please, run again!"

Reading Hillary's book, Part 2: "wax."

As you may remember from Part 1, I am not reading Hillary Clinton's  book ("What Happened"). I put it into our Kindle because Meade wanted to do some proto-blogging. That's my term for his reading and searching and talking to me and sending me links. That sometimes gets me to things I want to blog, and that's what we're doing with this book.

For Part 2 in the "Reading Hillary's book" series, my note for getting to the material I want to talk about is "wax." Beginning at page 5, Hillary writes about what I would call her friendship with Donald Trump. As you can see she denies that she was ever friends with him, even though she and her husband, former President of the United States Bill Clinton, attended Trump's wedding:
I had known Donald Trump for years, but never imagined he’d be standing on the steps of the Capitol taking the oath of office as President of the United States. He was a fixture of the New York scene when I was a Senator—like a lot of big-shot real estate guys in the city, only more flamboyant and self-promoting. 
I think she should mention that Trump was a big donor to Democrats. Wasn't that the relevant "scene"? 
In 2005, he invited us to his wedding to Melania in Palm Beach, Florida. We weren’t friends, so I assumed he wanted as much star power as he could get. Bill happened to be speaking in the area that weekend, so we decided to go. Why not? I thought it would be a fun, gaudy, over-the-top spectacle, and I was right. I attended the ceremony, then met Bill for the reception at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. We had our photo taken with the bride and groom and left.
She makes it sound as though she's all about having "fun," but then why get your photograph taken and then bug out? If you came to the big lavish party for fun, wouldn't you have wanted to eat the food and dance to the music and so forth? You just had your photo taken with the couple and left? That sounds kind of mean and rude. Why are you saying it like that? It seems as though you just want to elbow us into believing that you were never friends and assume we won't be thinking that this is a game of extracting money from a rich guy by making him think he was your friend.
The next year, Trump joined other prominent New Yorkers in a video spoof prepared for the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner in Albany, which is the state version of the more famous White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. The idea was that the wax figure of me at the Madame Tussauds museum in Times Square had been stolen, so I had to stand in and pretend to be a statue while various famous people walked by and said things to me. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said I was doing a great job as Senator—then joked about running for President in 2008 as a self-funder. When Trump appeared, he said, “You look really great. Unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. The hair is magnificent. The face is beautiful. You know, I really think you’d make a great President. Nobody could come close.” The camera pulled back to reveal he wasn’t talking to me after all but to his own wax statue. It was funny at the time.
It's actually pretty funny now. And Trump was gamely self-deprecating (while also, until the punchline is revealed, gushing compliments at her). Maybe he only did that to get attention, but I think it shows that they had a friendly relationship. She goes into no detail denying that they were friends. Trump's making a joke at the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner immediately becomes segue to: "When Trump declared his candidacy for real in 2015, I thought it was another joke, like a lot of people did." And the book is off into a discussion of Trump's political rise.

But I want to stop at the comic sketch that has Hillary playing the part of her own wax dummy. It's an old comedy idea, documented at TV Tropes. It's a subcategory of a trope called "Paper-Thin Disguise":
A character that the other characters should recognize (or at least recognize as out of place) dons a disguise and is treated as neither recognizable nor conspicuous. This disguise is so completely transparent that the audience wants to shout "For the love of God, it's him!"...

While not a Dead Horse Trope, these days Paper Thin Disguises are parodied as often as they are used seriously. The trope is still an important dramatic convention in live theater and opera productions — where a really good disguise would render the character unidentifiable from the cheap seats, and be beyond the scope of the prop budget to boot — but is usually employed along with some kind of nod to audience acknowledging the absurdity. This can sometimes be exaggerated for comedic effect, for example wearing bunny ears and becoming indistinguishable from a real rabbit, or pretending to be an ancient statue by simply standing still in a specific pose. Children's shows still employ this trope regularly without any parody element.
The link on "standing still in a specific pose" goes to "Nobody Here but Us Statues":
Alice tries to hide from Bob, so she pretends to be a statue (or, in more cartoonish settings, even a painting or a relief) in a museum, art gallery etc. Sometimes she has to Walk Like an Egyptian to fit in, or get in a suit of armour, or end up holding an empty picture frame in front of herself. Bob typically doesn't catch on, though he looks at Alice suspiciously (bonus points if he says "I'll never understand this modern art" or "What an ugly statue!").
In the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner sketch, Hillary didn't pretend to be a wax statue of herself to hide. Rather, the set-up had her enlisted to cover up the problem that the real wax figure had been stolen. It's a nice sketch and it was funny — I can tell even from reading the leaden waxen prose — because Trump was funny. He was funny in part because he made fun of himself, and Hillary didn't have to do anything except stand there. She didn't have to stand still for any jokes at her expense. Nobody said "What an ugly statue!" or anything like that but Trump allowed himself to seem like a ridiculous narcissist for saying "I really think you’d make a great President. Nobody could come close."

They all laughed...



ADDED: The first comment on this post, from sodal ye, is: "Hillary just broke a toe in the UK." I do a quick search and get to The Daily Mail and the headline begins: "I was running downstairs in heels with a cup of coffee and fell backwards!" I sincerely hope she's feeling better, but I've got to say that strikes me as really freaky — falling backwards in high heels — just after I've made a big leap from Hillary Clinton to Ginger Rogers, whose most famous quote is that she did everything that Fred Astaire did but "backwards and in high heels."

And I've already written about "backwards and in high heels" — and it was in a post that began by being about Hillary Clinton and then leaped into Ginger Rogers. It was September 4, 2016 and people were questioning whether Hillary was doing enough when her favorability rating had dropped as low as Donald Trump's. ABC News chief political analyst Matthew Dowd said:
[Hillary] is judged -- she is judged a little bit, I have to say, all of the controversy surrounding her and they're both -- Donald Trump and her, she's judged a little bit on a Ginger Rogers standard, which is, is that the bar is so low for him. I mean, Ginger Rogers, the famous like she did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in heels.
I said: "Suddenly, Trump is the Fred Astaire, judged by an easier standard when what his opponent/partner is doing is actually harder?"

There's more good stuff at that old post, including the debunking of the idea that Ginger Rogers is the source of the quote, the Ann Richards use of the quote, and Trump on "SNL" dancing like Fred Astaire Drake.