March 24, 2017

At the Canyon Café...



... you can talk about whatever you want.

(The photos are from Bryce Canyon National Park, March 8th.)

(And remember to think of doing your shopping through the Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"I’d stir the water from the hose into the earth … and make thin, soupy mud, which I would then rub on my hands, arms, feet, and legs."

"I would pretend to be a dark-skinned princess in the Sahara Desert or one of the Bantu women living in the Congo … imagining I was a different person living in a different place was one of the few ways … that I could escape the oppressive environment I was raised in."

"Why had I dragged my family — my wife and our Snapchatting 12-year-old daughter and our longhaired, talkative 9-year-old son — away from work and school to see, of all places, Mount Rushmore?"

Asks Sam Anderson in a NYT Magazine article with a title that caught my attention, "Why Does Mount Rushmore Exist?/This gargantuan shrine to democracy has never felt so surreal." How does anybody know the how surreal Mount Rushmore has felt over its close-to-one-century existence? Whose feelings have counted and why does Sam Anderson — speaking of feelings — feel that he should behave as if he's the arbiter of surrealism?

But now I'm wondering why he's taking his children out of school to go on a trip? Is truancy just some concept relevant to other classes of people than those who write for the NYT?

Here's Anderson struggling with the question in the post title:
I couldn’t say, exactly. All I knew was that I seemed to be suffering a crisis of scale. America was taking up a larger part of my mind than it ever had before. It was dominating my internal landscape, crowding out other thoughts, blocking my view of regular life. I couldn’t tell if it was reaching its proper size, growing the way a problem tends to grow just before a solution is found, or if it was swelling the way an organ does before it fails and bursts.
Is this about Trump? Wait. I get it. America, growing way beyond its proper size and failing and bursting. Big President heads carved out of a South Dakota rockscape in the 1920s and 30s are showing us the horror of Donald Trump's dangerously swelled ego that's about to blow.
And it began to seem foreign to me, our American obsession with size. We are born a fantasy of bigness. We are tall and strapping, with big hats and big hair and loud clothes and booming voices....
We are? 
Why does goodness have to be huge? It is a dangerous belief....
But who believes it?

Saks Fifth Avenue — once a purveyor of sophisticated clothing for women — shows faux-schoolgirl clothes on a model who's much too small for the clothes, so that she looks even tinier than a schoolgirl.

Seen in the sidebar to my blog just now:

Look how oversized everything is, including the very long belt that hangs down to her knees. The girl is sad and stumbling. She looks as though she can barely walk and hardly knows what to think about anything. Her lack of any capacity is symbolized by the absence of visible hands. They're somewhere inside those overlong sleeves.

How can this be how women are now invited to see ourselves? Feeble, vulnerable children.

This makes me want to show you a photo I snapped the other day at the hair salon:

Celebrity feminists in their filmy lingerie

I didn't go out of my way to put those 3 magazines together. That was what was arrayed in front of me: Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Emma Stone, all posing in thin lingerie. Stone, in particular, looks naked. These are the same movie stars who lecture us about feminism.

For the annals of bad right-wing jokes.

"I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms."

"Cruel anarchists have perpetrated an incredibly effective, image-shattering hoax on the American public."

Said Richard Nixon — reacting to the fake news that Spiro Agnew's farts were killing people — in a comic strip by Skip Williamson, who died last week at the age of 71.
“I was always more political than most of the other underground artists,” Mr. Williamson told The Comics Journal in 1986. “Or antipolitical. I believe honestly that if you vote for these bastards, you only encourage them.”
You can see some of the artwork at the link (which goes to the NYT obituary). Here's Williamson's Facebook page, which also has a lot of artwork showing. Somewhere in there is "When the Twerms Came" — the comics version of an Arthur C. Clarke story that appeared in Playboy. As the NYT put it, the story is about "aliens conquering Earth with a Psychedelic Ray, an Itching Beam, a Diarrhea Bomb and Tumescent Aerosol Spray."

Scott Adams agreed to an interview that he knew would be a hit piece...

... because — this was before the election — he thought "it would be funny to have them write about how wrong I was… just as the election was about to prove how right I was."

The article is only coming out now, long after the election: "How Scott Adams Got Hypnotized by Trump/Come to his Dilbert-shaped home. Bite into a Dilberito. Be persuaded on genocide, mental orgasms, and his fellow Master Wizard, the president of the United States." It's by Caroline Winter and published in Bloomberg.

And here's Adams — who doesn't seem to be having too much fun — with a 16-point demonstration that it's fake news. Here's the serious lesson:
By the way, Bloomberg did have a third-party do fact-checking on the article by running a bunch of questions by me for verification. That is standard practice for the big publications. None of the things I mentioned here were in the fact checking. The fact-checkers don’t check the writer’s own eye-witness accounts for accuracy, and they don’t check for missing context.

When normal citizens read the news, they think it is mostly accurate. But when you are the subject of reporting, you can see the fake news all over it. I thought I would share this view with you so you can increase your skepticism when you see this sort of thing presented as truth.
All right then, we should take the lesson and apply it to his 16 points, which are what he sees as fake or misleading. His calling things fake should also be read with skepticism.

#4 accuses Bloomberg of anti-Adams bias for using a photograph of Adams looking down and working on his computer tablet which casts its light upward onto his face.* He prefers a photo that looks like a generic publicity head shot, complete with perfectly flattering lighting and a pleasant smile. But the publicity-shot type photo is boring. It doesn't show Adams at work, and it doesn't speak of Winter's access to his private space. I understand Adams wanting to look as handsome as he can, but ultra-flattering publicity-style photography isn't interesting. It doesn't pull us into the article. It looks more like the little photos of columnists that papers run with each column. It doesn't say: There's something new here, we got inside and have something to show you.

"I love the NYT. I have been reading it for 50 years. I'm begging it to go straight."

I say in the comments, half an hour after posting "The NYT struggles to fight off Trump's use of that NYT headline 'Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides.'"

And Original Mike says:
You are in an abusive relationship and you're the enabler. Isn't there a hot line you can call?

March 23, 2017

The NYT struggles to fight off Trump's use of that NYT headline "Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides."

I recommend reading this closely, looking for the weasel words: "Fact Check: Trump Misleads About The Times’s Reporting on Surveillance," by Linda Qiu. I've been blogging too long today to parse through this right now, but let me highlight a few things. First, Trump was right about the headline, but maybe wrong about the NYT motive to change it. As Qiu puts it:
There were in fact two different headlines on the online and print versions of the article, which is typical. At no point was either headline altered. Times headlines often differ in print and online....
It's still true that the NYT said "Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides." Why they changed it, who knows? Qiu refers to what is "typical" and "often" happens, yet we can't know exactly why what happened in this case happened. But it could have changed for some neutral reason. [ADDED THE NEXT MORNING: I can see I've written this confusingly, saying "changed" when Qiu's point is that nothing was ever changed. I only mean that the print headline was written and for some reason, a different/changed headline was written for the web. Qiu has taken pains to show that the web headline wasn't belatedly tweaked to eliminate the hot word "wiretapped."]

Liu writes that Trump was "misleading" to say that the Times said that "wiretap data" was "used in inquiry of Trump aides." "Misleading" is NOT the same as false, so Liu really is admitting that it was true. The reason it's misleading, according to Liu, is that the article doesn't say that "Mr. Obama ordered surveillance on him." Did Trump say Obama ordered surveillance on him? There's no Trump quote to that effect, and it makes me suspicious that Trump is being paraphrased to confine him to what can be refuted, which — talk about misleading! — feels very misleading. See:
The Times reported that there were intercepted conversations involving Mr. Trump’s associates, but it did not report that they or Mr. Trump were the subject of wiretap orders. To date, The Times has not found evidence of that.
What seems to have happened is that that the official targets were other than Trump people, but that Trump people got swept in, and these people were legally entitled to protection from surveillance. Here's how Liu (misleadingly?) puts it:
American intelligence agencies typically monitor the communications of foreign officials of allied and hostile countries, and so they routinely sweep up any conversations between American citizens and those officials — called “incidental collection.”

For example, it is routine for F.B.I. counterintelligence officials to keep the Russian ambassador under surveillance. Therefore, when Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, spoke on the phone with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, the government intercepted that conversation because it was wiretapping the ambassador.

Mr. Trump claimed he used the word “wiretapping” as a broad definition of surveillance.

“Now remember this. When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes.”

This is misleading. Mr. Trump did put the word in quotes in two of his tweets, but explicitly accused Mr. Obama of wiretapping his phones.
That sounds like a concession that Flynn was wiretapped! He may not have been the original target or the official target, but he got swept in, and we shouldn't even know about that. But there was a leak, and wasn't the leak targeted on him — a gross violation of law designed to take him down? I can't believe we're nitpicking Trump's use of the term "wiretapped" rather that outraged about a shocking abuse of power for political purposes.

Many words are dead metaphors, and "wiretapped" may be one, whether it's in quotes or not. Who cares if there were "wires" that were "tapped"? It's like looking for eaves when someone is said to be eavesdropping. I think the stress on the word "wiretapped" is part of an effort to say that some other party was targeted — some foreign official was listened in on — and that caused the overhearing of some Trump-associated persons. There was a wiretap, but the wires tapped (metaphorically) were not a Trump associate's.

But to use that opportunity — that wiretap — to listen in is a terrible infringement on the non-target, and the law required the protection of these non-targets from an invasion of their privacy. Instead, the leakers did the opposite and took advantage of what they heard and deliberately exposed what they were legally required to mask. That's what I gather from Liu's article anyway.

Why doesn't the NYT care about this problem!

"The Washington Post's Bob Woodward warned... that there are people from the Obama administration who could be facing criminal charges for unmasking the names of Trump transition team members from surveillance of foreign officials."

"During an interview on Fox News, Woodward said that if that information about the unmasking is true, 'it is a gross violation.'"
He said it isn't Trump's assertion, without proof, that his predecessor wiretapped Trump Tower that is of concern, but rather that intelligence officials named the Americans being discussed in intercepted

"[T]he idea that there was intelligence value here is really thin," Woodward said. "It's, again, down the middle, it is not what Trump said, but this could be criminal on the part of people who decided, oh, let's name these people."

He drove the point home, adding that "under the rules, that name is supposed to be blanked out, and so you've got a real serious problem potentially of people in the Obama administration passing around this highly classified gossip."

"Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old hacker who they said was the main suspect in a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States..."

"... appearing to crack a case that has sent a chill through the American Jewish community.
The surprising arrest of the Jewish man, who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, came after a trans-Atlantic investigation with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies. U.S. Jewish groups welcomed the breakthrough in the case, which had raised concerns of rising anti-Semitism and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.
I'm not surprised that/if the threats turn out to be from a person who is not an anti-Semite but someone hoping to create the impression that there is anti-Semitism. I've seen so many "hate crime" stories turn out to be fake that it's my assumption. I guess that's optimism. The assumption is rebuttable, but show me evidence. I'm not going to assume the worst about people. But this crying wolf is bad, because it does cause people like me to resist believing if and when something bad really happens.

"The 'phone Romeo,' as he is known here, calls numbers at random until he hears a woman’s voice, in the hope of striking up a romantic attachment."

"Among them are overeager suitors ('Can I recharge your mobile?'), tremulous supplicants ('I am talking to you, madam, but my body is shaking”') and the occasional heavy breather ('I want to do the illegal things with you'). Intentionally dialing wrong numbers is a labor-intensive way to find a girlfriend. But it is increasingly common in a range of countries — Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and India are examples — where traditional gender segregation has collided head-on with a wave of cheap new technology...."

From "India’s ‘Phone Romeos’ Look for Ms. Right via Wrong Numbers" (in the NYT).

Bill Flanagan interviews Bob Dylan. Read the whole thing — it's nice and long...

... here. Bob is pushing his new album, "Triplicate," which is 3 discs of him singing standards like "That Old Feeling" (my favorite song when I was about 4 and had no old feelings) and "Sentimental Journey" (the song my parents considered their song for reasons I only came to understand, suddenly, 4 years ago).

Bob gives an explanation for why he put the 30 songs on 3 CDs when they would have fit on 2 CDs:  
Is there something about the 10 song, 32 minute length that appeals to you?

Sure, it’s the number of completion. It’s a lucky number, and it’s symbolic of light. As far as the 32 minutes, that’s about the limit to the number of minutes on a long playing record where the sound is most powerful, 15 minutes to a side. My records were always overloaded on both sides. Too many minutes to be recorded or mastered properly. My songs were too long and didn’t fit the audio format of an LP. The sound was thin and you would have to turn your record player up to nine or ten to hear it well. So these CDs to me represent the LPs that I should have been making.
That's either mystical, metaphorical, or bullshit.
Are you concerned about what Bob Dylan fans think about these standards?

These songs are meant for the man on the street, the common man, the everyday person. Maybe that is a Bob Dylan fan, maybe not, I don’t know....

The renaissance of manufacturing in America.

Gummy bears!
"Most of all they just like the business environment," [Scott] Walker said.
Great. Now, legalize marijuana and we've got something.

The best tiny house.

Here's the article: "A Secret, Little Glass Home in the Heart of New York" (in the NYT).

Home? Yeesh. Never use "home" when "house" is at all possible. But it's particularly bad there. Not only are you talking about art and architecture, but there's no domesticity or family warmth at all.
Naysayers have always charged that Johnson’s committed minimalism had none of the political and social gravitas of his European influencers — indeed, his later-renounced support of Nazism would haunt him all his life. He was a social creature, a party boy, and the Guest House was a monument to ego, money and establishment, not to mention a place that lacked any conventional domestic comforts.
The place is called the "Rockefeller Guest House." It was built as a place to distance visitors from the family. There's a reason "guest home" doesn't sound normal. And, of course, "glass home" looks ridiculous when "glass house" is so obviously a standard expression — in the old saying "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" and in connection with Philip Johnson.

But it's only the headline writer who used "home," so throw the stones at her (or him).

AND: Here's the post from last week: "'The designation between house and home – is it semantics or is there a difference. Can I as 'the architect' influence the difference one way or another?' Is it all up to the people who move into the structure? Is modern-style architecture impairing their progress from house to home?"

"I coined the word homophobia to mean it was a phobia about homosexuals.... It was a fear of homosexuals..."

"... which seemed to be associated with a fear of contagion, a fear of reducing the things one fought for — home and family. It was a religious fear, and it had led to great brutality, as fear always does."

Said the psychotherapist George Weinberg, the man who coined the term "homophobia" (in the 1960s). He has died at the age of 87.
Over time, “homophobia” evolved from a rallying cry to a contested term. Critics, both gay and heterosexual, argued that however useful the word might be as a political tool, or as a consciousness raiser, it did not withstand scrutiny. Homophobia, they pointed out, was not precisely equivalent to an irrational fear of snakes or heights, and the emotions associated with it were more likely to be anger or disgust than fear. Its meaning had become too diffuse, they argued, covering everything from physical assault to private thoughts to government policies.

At the Hoodoo Café...


... you can overcome all the obstacles.

(Photo taken while walking the Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park on March 8th.)

(And please think of doing your shopping through the Amazon Althouse Portal.)

"I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know. Say hello to everybody OK?"

TIME's interview with Trump is hilarious, right down to his last line, quoted above.

I'm just going to say: Hello, everybody!

What incorrect belief did you carry around for the longest time and how did you find out you were wrong?

A question that occurred to me in this context.

I'm not looking for philosophical, religious, or political beliefs of the sort that people disagree about, where you shifted sides — such as realizing that God does/doesn't exist, that free markets are good/bad, or the world is real/unreal.

I'm looking for facts that turned out not to be facts, such as believing that Jacques Cousteau and Jean Cocteau were the same person.

"The Most Beautiful College in Every State."

According to Travel + Leisure.

Lots of pretty photographs, but the one chosen for the University of Wisconsin–Madison is a bit puzzling. It shows the roof line of the stock pavilion against the sky. You should show the placement of the campus on the isthmus: