August 27, 2016

Picnic Point, a little while ago.


You can talk about whatever you want in the comments.

Over 300 comments on that "Alt-Right" post...

... on a late summer Saturday afternoon.

It makes me want to ask a question. And please read the earlier post and make sure you know what "Alt-Right" means before you answer. Don't just guess. It doesn't mean people who think Althouse is right. And don't assume that if you don't know (or use) the term that it can't apply to you.

To what extent are you part of the "Alt-Right"? free polls

This will just seem like the most boring interview in the world...

... unless you watch what's happening in the background:

The extreme boringness of the interview makes the backgroundiness of the action sheer accidental genius.

Did the Alt-Right play its big day right?

Hillary Clinton said "Alt-Right" on Thursday, suddenly throwing a new word in America's face. That was an astounding opportunity for whoever has been wearing that label to spring into action. The readiness to take advantage was instantly expressed by that guy in Hillary's audience who — on hearing the word — shouted "Pepe!"
[A] man in the crowd was ejected for yelling “PEPE!”, the name of the iconic green frog meme that has become the alt-right’s mascot, as soon as she mentioned the movement....

"I proudly consider myself a member of the Alt Right… now saying that, or admitting that publicly has its drawbacks because of the false narrative being peddled by the regressive left that the Alt Right is all Neo-Nazi Russian Agents, hell bent on establishing a White Supremacist world takeover, all bullshit" said Sean in an interview with [a Breitbart reporter, Charles Nash]. "I call myself alt right because the conservative establishment right in this country does not represent my views, they are just as much to blame for the disaster taking place in America as the left, the alt right to me is fiscal responsibility, secure borders, enforcement of immigration laws, ending the PC culture, and promoting AMERICA FIRST (Not Sharia First)... If you come to this country legally, follow the laws, learn our language, and love the country, you are equal, no matter your color, or religion. Basically alt-right is to separate ourselves from the failing establishment right."
And then what happened? At, we got "the 20 worst lies" in the Hillary speech, which not address her use of the term "Alt-Right," and this quickie interview with Milo Yiannopoulos, who said:
“Hillary Clinton created the alt-right that she spoke about yesterday, her and people like her, and now she thinks the solution is to keep calling people names and to widen the net of name calling from a couple of people she doesn’t like on the Internet and her political opponents to millions of Americans that she is now describing as racist and sexist... It’s going to have electoral consequences."
That fails to claim that the Alt-Right is something good. He's reinforcing Hillary's idea that it works as name-calling.

The NYT has "Hillary Clinton Denounces the ‘Alt-Right,’ and the Alt-Right Is Thrilled," which is what I read that inspired this post and made me ask the question I use for the post title.

"That being said, there are women out there who just don’t. They don’t wear swimsuits. They don’t go to the beach."

"They basically forgo summer, and the camera, because they hate the way they look. Thus, our excursion to the roof. I put on sunscreen, and lipstick, and a new size 16 swimsuit, black with a ruffled pink trim and a little slip of a skirt. I took a deep breath, pulled my shoulders back, and tried to believe that I looked O.K. and not to flinch as he said, 'Here we go.' Inside, I picked out my favorite shot, skipped the filters, went to my Facebook page, held my breath and hit 'post.' The next time I looked, there were dozens of pictures of women in swimsuits — women who looked more like me, less like the airbrushed, perfected creatures I seem to spend my life looking at."

That's Jennifer Weiner writing on a topic I have seen as long as I've been reading the news for women (i.e., since the 1960s). Body anxieties heightened by the desire to wear a bathing suit. The Facebook part is new, but I don't think that's why the NYT is publishing this piece in late August. Weiner makes no mention of the French "burkini" issue, but I think that's what's pushing this old American topic forward right now.

Here's that Facebook photo showing the suit she picked picked out. It's a lot less silly looking than "ruffled pink trim and a little slip of a skirt" makes it sound. But Jennifer Weiner is 46 years old. Why is she resorting to a skirt with pink ruffles to deal with her body anxieties? I was researching the burkini issue and got to thinking about women who want more coverage for whatever reason — religious or other expression, modesty, sun protection, aversion to shaving — and I discovered these swim capris (and swim tights). I hadn't noticed these before, so I'm thinking there are many women — possibly including Weiner — who are locked into thinking swimwear must expose your legs (if not half or more of your buttocks). It's odd, because Weiner discusses the Olympics, and the Olympic swimmers — female and male — all wore suits that covered their thighs.

I'd like to encourage women to think about wearing swim separates with the longer legwear, capris and tights. 2-piece suits have been around for a long time, so the tops are easily available, both bra tops and tankini tops.I think this is a nice, comfortable option for all kinds of women, and it has the positive side effect of making those who wear covered-up styles for religious reasons feel less conspicuous (which is what covering up is supposed to achieve).


"Study Says Lazy People Are Smarter."

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm said (efficiently): "Natural efficiency."

Tim Maguire said: "The smart people we've heard of aren't lazy." And by that, I assume he means that the smart and lazy people are being efficient by not drawing attention to themselves. The workplace is often administered by people who want to see that you're hard at work. The stupidest waste of time is looking busy, but it would be stupid to attract the supervision of somebody who will impose the requirement of looking busy when you have worked out ways of getting things done efficiently and want to benefit from your cleverness, not cede all the benefits to your overseer.

I have been in situations where a colleague will go on about how stressed out and terribly busy she is and assert that so are we all. The dead silence in a roomful of professors is ludicrous. You know damned well that many — I hope most — have figured out ways to work very efficiently and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the job. But no one with an eye on self-protection will stand up and admit to not being a workaholic. And so stressed-out, busy-busyness is the atmosphere that prevails because the ones who talk are the ones who haven't found the lazy-smart path (or they have and want to deny its legitimacy for some sadistic reason).

ADDED: I recommend "Essays in Idleness" by the Buddhist monk Kenko, "In Praise of Idleness" by Bertrand Russell, and "An Apology for Idlers" by Robert Louis Stevenson. That last one begins:
BOSWELL: We grow weary when idle.

JOHNSON: That is, sir, because others being busy, we want company; but if we were idle, there would be no growing weary; we should all entertain one another.

Just now, when everyone is bound, under pain of a decree in absence convicting them of lèse-respectability, to enter on some lucrative profession, and labour therein with something not far short of enthusiasm, a cry from the opposite party who are content when they have enough, and like to look on and enjoy in the meanwhile, savours a little of bravado and gasconade. And yet this should not be. Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself....
Gasconade... There's a word you haven't used in a sentence recently, I'll bet.

"... Ann Coulter writes the following words on page 3 of her new book about how Trump is awesome: 'there’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven. Except change his immigration policies.'"

"Given Trump’s gyrations on immigration this week, this is such an unfortunate sentence. It leads to sad headlines like, 'Trump Betrayal of Ann Coulter Timed Perfectly to Release of Ann Coulter Book About Always Trusting Trump' and sad pictures of Coulter steeling herself to give book talks and angry Coulter tweets at Trump.... Like Rush Limbaugh (words I never thought I would type in that order), my first reaction upon hearing that sentence was [hysterical laughter]. Watching Coulter go through the five stages of grief in the span of 24 hours has also been a gift from the schadenfreude gods. Yet as Coulter has finally arrived at the realization that she can’t abandon Trump, I can’t fully commit to savoring her discomfort...."

Writes Dan Drezner (at WaPo) in "Ann Coulter is currently experiencing every nonfiction author’s nightmare/Sympathy for the devil in Prada."

One more reason to blog instead of writing a book.

But I'm not sure Coulter is a big loser here. Her book is getting a lot of attention because people who love to hate her see a hilariously colossal clash between her book — "In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!" — and Trump's supposed "softening." There's so much more reason now to bring her on the shows — where she can continue to promote herself — than there might have been if this was just another book by Ann Coulter. There are so many! Don't all the liberal (and conservative) show hosts want to needle her about her dramatic experience in publishing timing. And suddenly she's leveraged as the expert on how Trumpsters feel when he flips on their favorite issue.

25 years ago today: Pearl Jam released its first album.

"25 years ago today, on August 27, 1991, Pearl Jam released its debut album, Ten, which most people would probably agree is the band's best...."
Pearl Jam has never been one of my favorite bands. But I give them a lot of credit: they sincerely tried to make a work of art with "Jeremy," and they succeeded....
So writes my son John, who played a lot of this genre of music (grunge) around the house — much of it not recorded music — in the 1999s. Very little of it was Pearl Jam though.

There seems to be a phenomenon — in every genre and in all time periods — of musical performers/groups that seem to be very popular but that actual people profess only to dislike or to concede to enjoying only as a "guilty pleasure" or hating except for that one song.

Anyway, back in 2008, John worked out a top 40 of grunge songs. It's extremely well worked out with explanations for all the choices. Example: "The labyrinthine nine-chord progression of the verse is a rarity -- more akin to the Beach Boys' 'Don't Talk, Put Your Head on My Shoulder' or the Beatles' 'Because' than the average song from the '90s."

"It’s a sign of the times, unfortunately, that when there was an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at the company, some of the sweaters there were from our current assortment."

Said the chief executive of Gap, quoted in a WaPo article titled "Why are sales suffering at so many women’s stores? They made bad clothes./Consumers have started spending again, but that doesn't mean they'll buy just anything."

Better than "just anything" is a low standard. But as I always like to say: Better than nothing is a high standard. When shopping for clothes, nothing is always a good choice. The store has to beat nothing.

August 26, 2016

"France’s top administrative court overturns burkini ban."

"After a month of intense national scandal and heightened international outrage, France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État, on Friday overturned the so-called burkini bans in 26 of the country’s coastal towns and cities. Imposed in the name of secularism, perhaps France’s most sacred ideal, the bans had prohibited Muslim women from wearing the 'burkini' — a full-body bathing suit designed to respect traditional codes of modesty — on the beach.... The argument... was — and remains — that Muslim modesty somehow impedes the rights of women in the historic French Republic of liberty, equality and fraternity. This is why, for instance, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed his opposition to the bathing suit in nothing less than the language of human rights: the burkini, he said, was a means of 'enslavement.'... The court struck down both arguments for the bans: It ruled that the burkini is neither an insult to the equality of women nor a harbinger of terrorism. The attempts to ban it, the judges maintained, insulted 'fundamental freedoms' such as the 'freedom to come and go, the freedom of conscience and personal liberty.'"

WaPo reports.

I agree with the court. It's not for the government to tell people what they need to wear — for religious reasons or other reasons. It's legitimate to worry that some women are being coerced into hyper-modest bathing suits, but coercing them into skimpy suits is not the answer.

And religion isn't the only reason you might want to cover up on the beach. I've been noticing these UV-protection swim tights, which can be worn with a long-sleeved UV-protection shirt by those of us who want to avoid sunburn. And I like the swim capris — and not just for sun-protection, but for fashion and — yes! — modesty. Have you got a problem with that? Fine. Just don't ask the government to help you with that problem.

Meet Kevin, the boy who is excited about 4th grade.

(Via Reddit.)

ADDED: Did you notice the part where he said "I want to be a creator, like inventing stuff, and I need to learn a lot of math to do it"? He's absorbed that "creator" talk that has infected the discussion of business and technology. Everyone who's not getting left behind in the new economy is now in the "creative class." It has nothing to do with art anymore.

Hillary introduces America to the term "alt-right" — the "emerging racist ideology" — and Trump calls Hillary a "bigot."

Do you want to talk about race or do you want to talk about words?

Because we could talk about what "bigot" means. It could mean only those who consciously embrace the idea that some group is despicable, or it could also cover those with unwanted feelings of hate that they are struggling with, or it could include everyone who has even unacknowledged feelings of only slight disgust toward some other group, or it could extend even to people who don't care enough about groups other than their own and have failed to go very far out of their way to do something to help the when they experience misfortune and suffer economic hardship. It's that last thing that Donald Trump is saying about Hillary, so he's making a good point, wrapped within a complicated linguistic issue that might — if people get caught up in it — ultimately work out in his favor. It's the same point as: "What have you got to lose?" Who cares about the tenderness of the hearts of the white people who want black people to vote for them? Shouldn't you vote for the candidate who will help you and your community? Isn't the real bigotry — the bigotry that matters — the bigotry that comes in the form of relegating your community to disorder and depression? We could talk about that.

And we could talk about the political value of saying "alt-right," all right? I mean, who even knew that word until Hillary said it yesterday? Even when you know the word and hear the definition — which she had to provide in the speech since people don't know the term — do you know that this is a real social phenomenon that we need to worry about? Or should we wonder if Hillary is trying to scare us with a bogeyman?

David Brooks thinks the woman candidate should be more "gracious" and "relinquish control" and assures her that "in surrender you’ll actually gain more strength."

Why didn't he or the NYT editors notice the sexism?

I guess he was distracted by the point he was intent on making, which is that having a lot of experience — Hillary's strong point — isn't that good if you haven't gained the virtues that we like to think experience brings. Within Brooks's way of telling it, whatever we don't like about Hillary would then be what she should have gotten from all that experience. What is it Brooks doesn't like about her? "[T]here’s often a whiff of inhumanity about her campaign that inspires distrust." She hasn't — like "[t]he people in public life we really admire" — arrived at "graciousness."

Now, right there, anyone versed in feminism should get suspicious. The woman is being criticized for not being warm enough and not being gracious.  Would a male candidate at her level of warmth and graciousness be called out for this shortcoming? Brooks could have gone straight for the distrust: We distrust her because of specific things she's done and the lies and half-lies she's told. But instead he smells some inhumanity about her that "inspires distrust."

Why contort yourself like that? It could be that Brooks got enthralled by his own cogitation about experience. She's got experience, so let's think about experience and the reasons why we value it and how that relates to why Hillary isn't all that she should be by now.

Brooks drifts into reverie — replete with names like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. — about how in the best people experience creates humility which transforms into graciousness. Based on that, he faults Hillary for the continuity in her manner over a long period of time:
Her posture is still brittle, stonewalling and dissembling. Clinton scandals are all the same. There’s an act of unseemly but not felonious behavior, then the futile drawn-out withholding of information, and forever after the unwillingness to ever come clean.
He's identifying the bad character trait of dishonesty. Fine. But in bullshitting it up, he lets out whiffs — I'll use his word — of sexism: She's "brittle." She should be more pliable. She should find her strength in "surrender." She should be gracious.

"Totally selfishly, [sex] is so much better for me being jacked because you feel so much more confident and you see yourself as this much more sexual person, which is really fun."

Said the actor John Krasinski, who is married to Emily Blunt:
“The truth is, she really is that person who would like me anyway. But I don’t think she’s going to kick the eight-pack abs out of bed,” he said.
But it's for him, he's doing it "totally selfishly," he says, to make himself "feel so much more confident" and to see himself "as this much more sexual person, which is really fun." He's talking like a woman in a TV commercial for hair dye... in the 1970s.

So weird! And look at him. He's hypermasculinized — more muscular definition than any manly labor or team sport would ever produce. But he's delivering the kind of lines that were — for propagandistic purposes — traditionally assigned to women. Who talks about becoming a "much more sexual person"? It sounds so silly next to "being jacked," which sounds silly anyway.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to discourage men from working out, looking good, and having abs, and I guess it's good to believe that you do it for yourself and not for your wife and that she'd "like [you] anyway." Something about talking about it though. The potential for sounding inane is high. Hearing a man say it helps see why it's also inane for a woman to say it.

I do it for me.

IN THE COMMENTS: I'm getting challenged. I'm told to Google "best NFL abs," so: here. Now, I don't know if Steve Weatherford got that way from playing football or whether he did targeted ab exercises. And I don't know how much Photoshopping went into that photograph. But, nice going, Steve.

A woman selling crickets and worms in the NYC subway "suddenly threw them all over the crowded car" — and it was so crazy...

... that some fool did the one thing you might think to do — because it is an emergency — but you absolutely should not do if you want to get to the next station as quickly as possible: He pulled the emergency brake!
The air conditioning shut off and the screaming passengers were all stuck inside the sweltering car with the woman, who then treated them to antics for half an hour as the crickets jumped on passengers. The worms just wriggled on the floor.

“She was banging on the doors and trying to climb out the windows. Everyone had crickets on their arms. My girlfriend was crying,” said Calabrese. “Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”
It could have been worse. It could have been underground. Luckily, the train was crossing the Manhattan Bridge, so there was light and a view of the real, noncrazy world. And you could tweet. E.g.: "There are crickets in subway rn and they won't stop being loud af." 

By the way, did you know that crickets stink? I learned that from the David Sedaris story "April in Paris" (April is a spider):
April hadn’t eaten in more than a week when, just by chance, I happened upon a pet store and learned that it sold live crickets, blunt little black ones that looked like bolts with legs. I bought a chirping boxful and felt very proud of myself until the next morning, when I learned something that no nature show ever told me: crickets stink. They reek. Rather than dirty diapers or spoiled meat—something definite you can put your finger on—they smell like an inclination: cruelty, maybe, or hatred.
“Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”

We need an "Insect Politics" tag over here!
I like to use my insect politics tag whenever I can, but I didn't see how to make the stretch here. EDH provides the video that clinches it:

"This case inspires terror in some artists who fear they could end up in court for denying that a work they did not do isn't theirs."

The artist who got sued for saying he didn't paint that — has won his case.
The evidence, the judge said, showed this was a case of imperfect memories, coincidences and mistaken identity. He said it was a different Peter Doige, who spelled his name with an "e," who created the artwork. Feinerman rejected the idea that Doig, the renowned artist, and Doige were the same person.

[Robert] Fletcher, 62, testified that he bought the painting of a desert landscape [for $100] while Doig was serving prison time in Canada's Thunder Bay Correctional Center. But Feinerman said it was Doige — who was several years older and painted at the time — who was briefly in prison.
2 Doig[e]s, painting in the same prison. That's odd! The plaintiff still thinks he's got a real Doig, and who knows how much  money he can get for what he at least once believed was good for $10 million.

ADDED: The quote in the headline is from a law professor, and you might be disinclined to pull it apart enough to see that it's got too many negatives, as the first 2 commenters simultaneously point out:
I think there's an extra negative in that sentence. — campy at 6:53 AM

I hesitate to say that I don't disagree with you. — rhhardin at 6:53 AM

The federal government is about to end the tourist fun of swimming with dolphins...

... at least with Hawaiian spinner dolphins.
Dolphins typically forage offshore in the night for fish, shrimp and squid, then return toward land during the day to relax. They swim even when they are sleeping. But officials say the presence of boats and swimmers is disrupting their habits, causing “a departure from natural behavioral patterns that support the animal’s health and fitness,” according to the proposed guidelines....
The rule would require people to stay at least 50 yards away.
“It would be the end of legitimate dolphin swimming,” said Kevin Merrill, an owner of Dolphin Discoveries in Kona, on the island of Hawaii. “We couldn’t offer the people the quality interaction that they expect.”...

Roberta Goodman, the owner of Wild Dolphin Swims Hawaii in Holualoa... said she did not see signs that they were disturbed by the tour groups. “We watch them nurse, and make love, and play, and travel and sleep,” she said. “They continue with their natural behaviors while they’re in the water with us. They’ve accepted us into their environment with them.”
Yeah, I'm sure they love you. They're still smiling, right?
“You don’t swim with the dolphins,” [Merrill] said. “The dolphins choose to swim with us.”
And the humans choose to soak in narcissistic self-deception.

"The weird thing is, people don’t care why. They only care if you’re on their side. So it actually made most of the problems go away. Almost instantly, people stopped calling me Joseph Goebbels."

"In terms of my safety, it absolutely worked, exactly as I imagined it would work. . . . I’m actually safer because I’ve endorsed Hillary Clinton."

Said Scott Adams, explaining to the Wall Street Journal why he endorsed Hillary Clinton even though "he doesn’t vote, disagrees with both candidates on policy, and thinks both are too old."

Was Adams actually unsafe when people were inferring that he supported Trump? "I don’t go out much, and when I do, people don’t recognize me," so he'd had no scary encounters. The danger was merely inferred — perhaps to spice up observations about the comparison of Trump to Hitler. He says that calling Trump Hitler is "a call for assassination": "There’s no other way you can [expletive] interpret that."

And if Trump is Hitler and he's perceived as "Hitler"'s propagandist, then he is "Goebbels":
"A few dozen times, people referred to me publicly as [Nazi propagandist] Joseph Goebbels, just because I was talking about Trump’s persuasion skills, not his policies or anything."

"To me that was a call to violence. It’s an indirect call, but it’s saying if you kill Joseph Goebbels, you’re doing the country a favor."
If Adams were really afraid he'd get killed, he wouldn't contribute to stirring up the Hitler-Goebbels-assassination ideation. But it's interesting banter, all of it — including (and especially) the notion that people are professing support for Hillary Clinton because other Hillary supporters are making it feel dangerous not to support her. And that seems like some insidious (pro-Trump) persuasion move, doesn't it?

I believe Adams isn't for either candidate, but he's doing what he likes to do: writing about what's interesting to him. I could be wrong, because I am biased: It looks to me as though he does what I do. And I understand how people construe writing about Trump without contempt as support for Trump.

You must assure the good people that you are for Hillary, and Adams makes a game out of giving people the assurance they demand. That exposes the coercion involved, and most people don't like to be coerced. So the expression of support for Hillary cues people to think it would be transgressive and liberating to vote for Trump. Safe too, since the vote is secret.

By the way, I read Scott Adams's book, and "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life," and it corroborates the assertion that people don't recognize him:
For over a decade I’ve been semifamous for creating Dilbert, but I’m still generally unrecognized in public. When I meet people for the first time without the benefit of a full introduction, I’m treated like any other stranger. But if the topic of my job comes up, people immediately become friendlier, as if we had been friends forever.
Did you know that book is about 1/4 diet book? His advice is summed up as: "I eat as much as I want, of anything I want, whenever I want." The trick is in the "want," and if you think of yourself as a robot, there is a way to want what you need to want.

August 25, 2016


The documentary about Anthony Weiner is available now. We watched it last night. I think it's a bit overpraised. Check out the blurbs:

But we enjoyed it quite a bit. The filmmakers did well with the material they had, which was the implosion of Weiner's mayoral campaign. It was interesting to be a fly on the wall for some painful moments for Anthony Weiner, but you're not really a fly on the wall. As Weiner himself says to the filmmaker at one point: Why is the fly talking? 

Oh... that sounds wrong. The fly. Seems like the fly on his trousers! Poor Weiner! He means the documentarians are supposed to be a fly on the wall but they nevertheless prompted him sometimes, obviously trying to get better material. You'd like to know what he's thinking.

And as for those scenes with Huma Abedin, she clearly doesn't want to reveal her thoughts. She rarely says anything. She's just appearing as the long-suffering wife, but you know very well that she's got plenty to say when the cameras aren't around. At one key point, we see the camera shut down because she needs to have an argument with him.

There's no getting to the real Huma. I mean, we paused it many times and speculated about what she must be thinking and the nature of their relationship. Does she love him? He seems to be heavily infused with testosterone — is that working out well for her on some level? Were they always just a fake couple, put together for show and for the acquisition of political power?

You can't tell from the movie. Did Weiner do that sexting because it seemed like trivial fun and he probably won't get caught or was he trying to bust loose from the stifling grip of the ravenous political ambition of Huma Abedin?

Who knows?! I have an odd soft spot for Anthony Weiner. He's a human being. And she's Huma Abedin.

"To members of the liberal class, the Democratic Party offers constant reminders that the technocratic order whose upper ranks they inhabit is rational and fair..."

"... that whether they work in software or derivative securities they are a deserving elite; creative, tolerant, enlightened. Though it is less tangible, the moral absolution in which Democrats deal is just as important. It seems to put their favorite constituents on the right side of every question, the right side of progress itself. It allows them to understand the war of our two parties as a kind of cosmic struggle between good and evil— a struggle in which they are on the side of light and justice, of course.... And what is rightest and most inspiring about it is the Democrats’ prime directive: to defeat the Republicans, that unthinkable brutish Other. There are no complexities to make this mission morally difficult; to the liberal class, it is simple. The Democratic Party is all that stands between the Oval Office and whomever the radicalized GOP ultimately chooses to nominate for the presidency. Compared to that sacred duty, all other issues fade into insignificance.... The Democrats posture as the 'party of the people' even as they dedicate themselves ever more resolutely to serving and glorifying the professional class. Worse: they combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach-turning. And every two years, they simply assume that being non-Republican is sufficient to rally the voters of the nation to their standard...."

This calls to mind something I just read in Thomas Frank's book  "Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?"

"Let's stay on the Democratic Party plantation, recommends Donna Brazile..."

Writes Glenn Loury.
Unfortunately, Ms. Brazile -- the veteran Democratic strategist, who personifies the enduring legacy within the Party of Jesse Jackson's presidential aspirations from the 1980s -- makes no reference in her piece to the substantive policy issues -- jobs and education -- where her party's establishment has repeatedly failed to foster the interests of poor urban blacks....

By sweeping such difficult issues under the rug, Ms. Brazile misses the key point: it's a "Negotiation 101"-level observation to note that a credible threat to withhold our votes from the Democrats gives black people more leverage WITHIN the party, as it endeavors to manage what are the necessarily conflicting interests of its varied constituencies...

This commonsense observation is not a plug for Donald Trump (though Democratic party leaders will hope blacks construe it that way, the better to avoid accountability and to silence dissenting voices like my own...)....


The first minute of this is very funny:

The rest is too long and too damned jaunty, but it might work for you if you are strongly inclined to find young women as cute as they seem to think they are.

The topic of "hanger" — the word and the phenomenon — was explored on this blog 11 years ago, so for me, it's not a new word, it's an old word that tried and failed to go big and if you watch the whole video you'll probably see why that happened. Or let me just quote from my old post:
[A]bout this new social trend of adults excusing themselves for the babyish weakness of losing control when hungry... Oh, lord, these people sound annoying. Do you have a cute slang term for getting cranky when people impose too much information about their private physical needs on you?...
In general men do not seem to suffer hunger-related moods as frequently as women do, or at least they are not as likely to admit it....

[Blogger] Cherie Millns [writes] "My mother told my husband before we got married to make sure he always carried a banana with him, in case of a sudden cranky-pants emergency," Ms. Millns wrote. "It might just save his life."
"Cranky-pants"? Banana?... [W]hat's wrong with these people? It's one thing to get hungry and to deal with it by eating something, but it's quite another to make a conspicuous production out of it or, worse, to let it become a major issue in your love relationships. And to have your mother tell your husband how to care for you in the very way you'd care for a toddler? Is this really what's going on around America in 2005?

Why do you text and drive?

ADDED: This video is very affecting and has an important message, which I don't mean to diminish, but I'm just going to appropriate it for a couple seconds to make a nonverbal argument about what is surely a less important matter, but it is something I've been talking about for a long time: men in shorts:

"If there are guns in your bags, there will be dildos in mine. If you pack heat, we’re packing meat! We’re going to make you as uncomfortable as we are."

So shouted a University of Texas student, rallying a crowd protesting what is, in Texas, a right (when licensed) to carry a gun into the classroom.

What interests me most here is how the protesters have suddenly forgotten the interest all students have in being free from sexual harassment. They are making a big in-your-race display of the graphic sculptural depiction of the erect penis.
Event organizer Ana López said protesters are fighting absurdity with absurdity, and she placed blame for the campus carry law on “reluctant legislators,” the National Rifle Association and others.

“I have a huge dildo strapped to my backpack because these people believe it is their God-given right to carry a weapon into my classroom,” she said. “Let me tell you something. I don’t think that those who drafted the Bill of Rights thought that a well-regulated militia started in my organic chemistry classroom.”
Putting the organ in organic. 

When a deaf person has an encounter with the police.

On Facebook, my son John links to "Deaf man fatally shot by North Carolina cop was ‘afraid’ of police, devastated brother says."

That made me wonder about how deaf people think ahead about what they will do if they have to interact with the police, something I discuss in the comments at John's post. And I found this useful Marlee Matlin video that I want to post here.

"Here are REAL COMMENTS students have made to me about their exams. What I say to them is in quotations, and what I’m thinking is in italics."

"I’m not so proud of my thoughts in these times.  I very clearly need to work on practicing my patience."

That's from "Lawprofblog" who, I guess, is a real law professor, writing at Above the Law. I'm assuming it's a real law professor based on the reputation of Above the Law, not because I as a law professor identify with the experience, which I actually don't.

The University of Chicago picks vibrant free speech over insulating sensitivities.

It's getting celebrated on the internet for this letter it sent new students:
Welcome and congratulations on your acceptance to the college at the University of Chicago. Earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement and we are delighted that you selected Chicago to continue your intellectual journey.

Once here you will discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristics is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. … Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort....

Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
Nice branding, University of Chicago!

"Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine/How a strange new class of media outlet has arisen to take over our news feeds."

That's the headline at the New York Times. Think about why the NYT wants to alarm us about that terrible money-making company, Facebook.

My hypothesis is that the NYT is losing readers and advertising money to the "strange new class of media outlet" and would like its readers to cling to old media, where it's not strange and insane, but safe, gigantic by design, and subtle in its partisanship.

The article — written by John Herrman — is especially concerned about "political news and advocacy pages made specifically for Facebook... like Occupy Democrats; The Angry Patriot; US Chronicle; Addicting Info; RightAlerts; Being Liberal; Opposing Views; Fed-Up Americans; American News; and hundreds more"*:
Individually, these pages have meaningful audiences, but cumulatively, their audience is gigantic: tens of millions of people. On Facebook, they rival the reach of their better-funded counterparts in the political media, whether corporate giants like CNN or The New York Times, or openly ideological web operations like Breitbart or Mic. And unlike traditional media organizations, which have spent years trying to figure out how to lure readers out of the Facebook ecosystem and onto their sites, these new publishers are happy to live inside the world that Facebook has created. Their pages are accommodated but not actively courted by the company and are not a major part of its public messaging about media. But they are, perhaps, the purest expression of Facebook’s design and of the incentives coded into its algorithm — a system that has already reshaped the web and has now inherited, for better or for worse, a great deal of America’s political discourse.

*Just when the NYT is looking to reassure me of its comfortable normality, it unleashes a fistful of inexplicable semi-colons.

"A case can be filed against men who stare at women for more than 14 seconds."

Said Rishiraj Singh, an "excise commissioner" in Kerala, India.

ADDED: 14 seconds is a long time to look at someone.  Singh sounds ridiculous mostly because he specified a number and it's not a more normal-seeming number like 10. (I checked the Wikipedia article on the number 14 to see if 14 might be special in India, but the closest I'm seeing is the number of years of Rama's exile in the forests.)

If you look at articles on making eye contact with people, you'll see that even a quarter second can make the difference in moving a glance to an expression of interest. Example:
My man tells me that construction workers in Canada are told to obey the "3 second rule" by their employers... So basically it's one second to look at the girl, another second to study her and decide if she is pretty, and another second to enjoy the view, before returning eyes to the task at hand.  Anything beyond that is creepy and likely dangerous in some way.  I would agree....

Subway staring is a big problem where I live (Toronto). It is often the result of "DeathFace", which is a common syndrome out here affecting the overworked, causing them to forget they are in a subway and stare off blankly into what they mistakenly think is space, but usually is people.... I am often the victim of these types but have learned to ignore them. I pity them, actually....
AND: "Staring into someone’s eyes for as little as 10 seconds can be an intense experience of connection, or one of discomfort.  So what happens when you look into a person’s eyes for 10 minutes?... A new Italian study finds that when people look into each other’s eyes for a long period of time, they often experience symptoms of dissociation — including feelings of detachment from one’s body and from reality — and full-on hallucinations."

"With her short long pants and her long short skirts, she could put the haunting hemline question to rest."

From a 1973 fashion article about the "outrageous things" Sonia Rykiel could get away with.

Linked to in the NYT obituary for the designer who "made fashions for women who, like herself, were proud of their pregnancies, sophisticated about sex and too busy to fuss over the latest designer fads — women who wanted to look smart, but needed to get on with their lives."
[A] dramatic, sparrowlike woman, always in black, with a pale powdered face engulfed in a mass of Titian flame hair and bangs that fell to heavily mascaraed green eyes. She looked a bit like Édith Piaf, France’s national chanteuse.

“My color is black,” she once told an American fashion editor. “And black, if it’s worn right, is a scandal.”...

“I think creativity is inside you,” Ms. Rykiel told The Times Magazine in 1982. “If you have something to tell, you expose it. I never went to any design school. I was so strong in my thinking and my way of seeing fashion, I knew exactly what I wanted. I said to myself, ‘I have no limits.’ ”

August 24, 2016

I finally learned how to notice goldfinches in time to not flush them.

Got this picture today.


Took one more step to try to get a better picture, and they flew away. They're always in twos.

The picture makes it clear why they're so hard to see, despite the bright yellow. The dark portions seem like dark leaves or other background.

"He doesn't mean we're going to make America great again. He means: We're going to make America straight and and and white."

Said Cher to an adoring, raucous audience at a Hillary fundraiser in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I've already blogged about this here, focusing on what Cher said about Hillary. This new post is about what she said about Trump. The transcription (from this video) is mine.
"He wants the crowds. He wants the adulation. He doesn't give a shit about the world.... He doesn't mean we're going to make America great again. He means: We're going to make America straight and and and white.... He just says the weirdest shit in that kind of bizarre thing..." 
Cher made the observation — as have others — that Trump said "LGBTQ" as if he'd only recently learned that letter sequence and she leaps from that straight to: "I just think he's a fucking idiot." The crowd erupts in laughter, applause, and even quite a bit of squealing and screaming.

Then Cher wants to tell us about who Trump reminds her of. At first she thought: "Oh, despots. You know: Stalin, Hitler." But that wasn't quite it, even though Hitler did say he was "going to make Germany great again." The comparison she that seemed perfectly apt to her was Patty McCormick in "The Bad Seed."
"Consummate liar, doesn’t care who she hurts, insane and, you know, sociopathic narcissist."
The feminine pronouns are confusing. Don't forget we're talking about Trump, not Hillary. Patty McCormick in "The Bad Seed" is female and Trump is like her. To remind us this is about Trump, she blurts out a death wish:
"I just wish he’d fall off the face of the earth."
Did you think death wishes weren't allowed? Well, Cher's audience roared with approval. Whether they knew the old movie, I don't know. It's from 1956. (You can watch the whole thing on line, here.) It's kind of a cult movie, and they probably know Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which might be named after "The Bad Seed."

It's the classic movie about an evil child, but the child is a blonde girl, a girl who lacks any warmth, so it's beyond me why Cher would bring it up in the vicinity of Hillary and expect us to think of Trump... other than that she's with an adoring audience within the embrace of Provincetown. It must all feel so good to her.

She finishes with:
"I know that if he got into office, our world would be the worst place. I don’t think we could imagine how bad it could get. If breaking news ever happened and he had to go to the podium, we would just all go... fuck."
Big laugh. The irony of rough speech to denounce a man who's mostly denounced for his rough speech is beyond the realm of the Cher comfort zone.

Facebook thinks I'm a liberal.

From "Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You" (in the NYT):
Go to on your browser. (You may have to log in to Facebook first.)

That will bring you to a page with your ad preferences. Under the “Interests” header, click the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab. Then look for a box titled “US Politics.” In parentheses, it will describe how Facebook has categorized you, such as liberal, moderate or conservative.

(If the “US Politics” box does not show up, click the “See more” button under the grid of boxes.)

Facebook makes a deduction about your political views based on the pages that you like — or on your political preference, if you stated one, on your profile page. If you like the page for Hillary Clinton, Facebook might categorize you as a liberal....

Even if you do not like any candidates’ pages, if most of the people who like the same pages that you do — such as Ben and Jerry’s ice cream — identify as liberal, then Facebook might classify you as one, too.
I've never "liked" any political candidate or political party or political cause on Facebook. According to Facebook: "You have this preference because we think it may be relevant to you based on what you do on Facebook."

Shy crushed pulled-in Hillary, working for you every moment of every day and why don't see how fun and warm she really is?

The NYT reports on Cher's speech at a very Cher-friendly fundraiser in Provincetown, Massachusetts. And I watched the full video here and did my own transcription.

Cher is talking about getting to know Hillary through much experience doing teas with her, and Cher says she told Hillary, "You are so much fun and you are so warm and you are all these things I've never seen when you speak."

Cher asked Hillary why and, as Cher tells it:
She said because she got so crushed — I hope she doesn't mind my telling this story — too late now!— and she said because she got so crushed by the G.O.P., just for trying to set up health care, and she never thought it would be so personal, and she said it made her kind of pull in and she's shy, so it was difficult, and so she kind of kept that with her, but, you know, she is shy, and she's not the greatest speaker in the world, but...and this is what I believe, and this is what I know: She will work every moment of every day.... This chick is just tougher than Chinese algebra.
So she's tougher than Chinese algebra, but she got so crushed when the GOP opposed her health care plan. Which is it? Maybe she's tough in private, after she kind of pulls in. She's so shy and kind of kept that with her. Kept what with her? That crushed, pulled in feeling that she got when Congress didn't go along with that plan she worked so hard on?

She might not be that good at speaking, but she'll pull back into herself and work every moment of every day. Work work work! She may not talk too much — and we know she won't take questions from the press. It's just so crushing when they don't go along with everything she worked so hard on. But she will pull in and turn that crushing into hours and hours of work work work and if only you really knew her, as Cher does, you would know she's so much fun and so warm and... all these things.

But let's take a closer look at that Chinese algebra. Is that racist? Is that sexist? Math class is tough...

... as Barbie said long ago, outraging feminists. And I guess you throw "Chinese" on top of that and get some kind of reference to the stereotype that Chinese students are especially good at math. Why carelessly throw "Chinese" around to try to be funny?

But Cher didn't put those 2 words together all on her own. "Chinese algebra" is enough of an expression that it has an Urban Dictionary definition going all the way back to 2003: "a hard type of math." But I don't know if it was ever used to talk about math. It seems all along to have been a way to talk about erections. It looks as though the original use of the word was from Tom Waits, back in 1976, "Pasties And A G-String":
She's a-hot and ready, creamy and sugared
And the band is awful and so are the tunes
Crawlin' on her belly, and shakin' like jelly
And I'm gettin' harder than Chinese algebra-ssieres...
So Cher thinks Hillary is as hard as Tom Waits watching an erotic dancer. But shy, too! Very very shy. Shy and crushed and pulled in. It's so difficult! So keep it all deep within you and work — work every moment of every day.

Mocking the sexual desire of a 100-year-old tortoise.

I clicked on the clickbait: "100-year-old tortoise walks 6.5 miles for romance with plastic dome" ("A 100-year-old tortoise that escaped her owner's California yard was found 6 1/2 miles away attempting to romantically court a small dome.")

But I disapprove of laughing at the creature's sexuality. We cannot comprehend the longing of 100 years. We cannot know how it feels to be so separated from your fellow species that something in the rough shape of what feels like your counterpart fixates you.

And the euphemism "attempting to romantically court" is quite disgusting. I encounter that after reading the NYT story about Cher's anti-Trump speech to a crowd in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which includes such dirty-word avoidance as "'I just think he’s' an idiot, Cher said of Donald J. Trump, adding a decidedly unprintable modifier."

It's not "unprintable." It's quite printable: fucking. See? The NYT merely chooses not to print it. "Unprintable" is a cornball expression. "Fucking" is a crudeness that bothers some people, but where is the concern for people like me who are bothered by the prissy way you posture to avoid it?

"Unprintable" is a word that was created to express the idea that something is "Not fit to be printed" because it is "too shocking to appear in print; obscene, rude." I'm quoting the (unlinkable) OED, which finds the earliest appearance in print in 1830, in something called "Age": "A sham improvisatore held up to the ridicule of society by the excellent but unprintable jeu d'esprit of James Smith."

What is an "improvisatore"? The OED says: "A poet who composes or performs verse extemporaneously." James Smith seems to have been one of the freestyle rappers of his day, mocking some unnamed other one as a sham. It was excellent but unprintable... so we can't read whatever it was.

Improvisatore... improviser. When we don't have a script — when we don't want a script — if we want anything to happen at all, we must improvise, like a tortoise with his sham tortoise, the plastic dome.

IN THE COMMENTS: CJ points us to an episode of "Futurama" that treats the sexual needs of a 100-year-old with excellent humor and quality profundity:

"I haven't seen a female of my kind in well over 100 years!"

"E' un dramma. Il paese non c'è più."

Said the Mayor of Amatrice, reported in the Italian press.

From the NYT:
Strong earthquakes struck a mountainous stretch of central Italy early Wednesday, killing at least 38 people, the Italian news media reported, trapping scores under debris and setting off tremors that awakened residents in Rome, nearly 100 miles to the southwest.

The first, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, struck at 3:36 a.m. near the town of Accumoli, which the Civil Protection Department identified as among the hardest hit, along with the nearby towns of Amatrice and Arquata del Tronto.

August 23, 2016

At the Goldenrod Café...


... soldier on.

"Jolen cream bleach turns the mustache on your upper lip to the exact color of Richard Gephardt's hair, which is better than its looking like Frida Kahlo's mustache, but it's still slightly hairier than you mean it to be."

Wrote Nora Ephron, a while back.

I'm finding that this morning, because Dick Gephardt is in the news today, blogged here, where William asked "How did Gephardt spend so many years in public life without being relentlessly mocked for his orange hair. I guess back then people were more tolerant of orange hair...."

Also, Bob Shrum, in "No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner," describes a Dukakis ad (in 1988) that mocked Gephardt by showing a "gymnast with comically dyed orange hair dressed in a suit... trampolining and tumbling forward and back and forward and back again" with the voice-over describing Gephardt's various flip-flops.

So orange hair got mocked, even in the old days. It's not just something invented recently to attack Trump. I certainly remember Reagan's hair getting mocked, especially since he denied dyeing it. The much-repeated joke attributed to Gerald Ford was: "Ronald Reagan doesn't dye his hair, he's just prematurely orange."

About those 4 "half-naked" men who broke into a school office in Humpty Doo and released saltwater crocodiles.

This stupid vandalism took place in Australia, but it's getting attention in America, including a substantial article in the NYT. Presumably, we're supposed to be amused. But why?

1. Crocodiles are scary. But if you watch the video, you'll see that they are tiny crocodiles, and you'll hear that they'd been out of water for a long time and were actually in bad shape and suffering. The story isn't really about scary animals — at a distance, for our safe horror — but animal abuse, and abusing animals isn't funny.

2. Humpty Doo is a very funny name for a town. I'll give you that.

3. Half-naked men. It sounds racy at first, but wait a minute? Which half is naked? These are just men without shirts. These are men in shorts.

ADDED: Wikipedia says the name was originally Umpity Doo, perhaps based on "umpty" used by the Army to mean a Morse code dash or a corruption of an Aboriginal original word "Umdidu," but if the "h" was always there, the name could be slurred pronunciation of the English word "two" as "doo" and the idea that this was the second of more than one hump, and "humpty doo" might have been slang for "upside down." The Wikipedia article on Humpty Doo doesn't mention Humpty Dumpty, but he's a character in a nursery rhyme that's been around since at least 1797:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Four-score Men and Four-score more,
Could not make Humpty Dumpty where he was before.
That's not the version we're familiar with, just the oldest. Some people think Lewis Carroll created the character, but he just appropriated and repurposed him. "Through the Looking-Glass" doesn't come out until 1872. Humpty Dumpty appears in a great little vignette, a favorite of lawyers and law professors. I'll boldface the part most likely to be quoted and cited in a law review article or judicial opinion:
"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,' " Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't—till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!' "

"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument'," Alice objected.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. "They've a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

"If this judge isn't careful, he might determine the course of the election and discredit the judiciary branch..."

"... as the Supreme Court did with its election of Bush even against the popular count. Judges should stay out of the political process and let the people decide how much honesty or bombastery they want."

That's the most-liked of the NYT-picked comments on the NYT article, "Hillary Clinton’s 15,000 New Emails to Get Timetable for Release." The article begins:
The dispute over Hillary Clinton’s email practices now threatens to shadow her for the rest of the presidential campaign after the disclosure on Monday that the F.B.I. collected nearly 15,000 new emails in its investigation of her and a federal judge’s order that the State Department accelerate the documents’ release.

As a result, thousands of emails that Mrs. Clinton did not voluntarily turn over to the State Department last year could be released just weeks before the election in November. The order, by Judge James E. Boasberg of Federal District Court, came the same day a conservative watchdog group separately released hundreds of emails from one of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides, Huma Abedin, which put a new focus on the sometimes awkward ties between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department....
That is, the timetable is what it is because Clinton didn't turn over all the email. It's not as though the judge is synchronizing the email with the eve of the election to try to affect it. It's more as though he's endeavoring to get through his work in time to thwart what looks like a scheme of depriving us of material we need until after the election.

And I love the way the opening line of the NYT article is structured to eclipse the human actor: "The dispute over Hillary Clinton’s email practices now threatens to shadow her for the rest of the presidential campaign...."

Is Hillary the person even there? The subject of the sentence is the "dispute." Better watch out for the active and dangerous character called The dispute. It "threatens." What does it threaten to do? To shadow her. The dispute is a creepy stalker! Hillary is there in the sentence. Not where her name is. That's the possessive, modifying "practices," which is what the dispute is about. Hillary the person is there as the "her," the victim of the creepy stalker that is the dispute.

"Consultant Raised Cash for Hillary Clinton, Used Access to Seek Meeting for Coal Giant, Emails Reveal."

Reports The Intercept.

The "Coal Giant" is Peabody Energy.  The political consultant is Joyce Aboussie, who wrote to Huma Abedin:
“Huma, I need your help now to intervene please. We need this meeting with Secretary Clinton, who has been there now for nearly six months,” Aboussie wrote. “It should go without saying that the Peabody folks came to Dick and I because of our relationship with the Clinton’s,” she added.
Dick is Dick Gephardt, who was House Majority Leader from June 6, 1989 to January 3, 1995 and House Minority Leader from January 3, 1995 to January 3, 2003. That is, he led the Democrats in the House of Representatives during the entire Bill Clinton administration. Gephardt started a lobbying firm in January 2006, the month he left office.

Gephardt ran for President in 1988 and 2004, and he was considered a strong candidate for VP in 2004. There was even a New York Post cover saying that John Kerry had picked him:

(Kerry picked the now-disgraced John Edwards, who had better hair.)

“It should go without saying that the Peabody folks came to Dick and I because of our relationship with the Clinton’s,” she added.

Huma must have rolled her exotic eyes and thought "what kind of amateurish influence peddler so consciously violates the rules of pay to play omertà?"
I imagined her rolling her eyes over something else — the illiteracy of "to Dick and I" and "the Clinton's." In my hypothetical scenario, she's saying:
How stupid is Peabody to pay big money to a guy who can't avoid making rank grammatical errors and sending them to me? To me! It's one thing to be married to a man who impulsively sends dick pics to skanky women, but to craft to-Dick-and-I email and send it to me! Ugh!

August 22, 2016

Red and yellow.

What Meade texted me from his bike ride:


What I texted Meade from my walk:


"I need to move out of my place before I viciously murder my roommates."

Tweeted a man who, days later, confessed to shooting his roommate to death.

"Included among the Abedin-Band emails is an exchange revealing that when Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain requested a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton..."

"... he was forced to go through the Clinton Foundation for an appointment. Abedin advised Band that when she went through 'normal channels' at State, Clinton declined to meet. After Band intervened, however, the meeting was set up within forty-eight hours. According to the Clinton Foundation website, in 2005, Salman committed to establishing the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program (CPISP) for the Clinton Global Initiative. And by 2010, it had contributed $32 million to CGI. The Kingdom of Bahrain reportedly gave between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. And Bahrain Petroleum also gave an additional $25,000 to $50,000."

From "New Abedin Emails Reveal Hillary Clinton State Department Gave Special Access to Top Clinton Foundation Donors."

At the Purple-and-Red Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

"He had a wild urge to consume metal. Even for us, the experienced surgeons, it was frightening."

"He says he swallowed some knives folded, and some unfolded. When we took out the knives -- some were found folded, some were open, and some had even started rusting and were broken."

That would be 40 knives. Why did he swallow them? He said: "I just enjoyed its taste," he "developed a taste for metal," and he "loved the way blades tasted."

No, no, absolutely not.

The Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk in China with a glass floor through which you can look down 4,600 feet.

The view seems like the view from a plane. Would you enjoy riding in a plane with a clear floor?

"Being a good persuader is like having a magic power. There is an ethical consideration, of course."

"You don’t want to persuade people to do things that are not in their best interest. And it might feel creepy and manipulative if you find yourself too skilled at persuasion. I’ve learned so much on the topic of persuasion that I intentionally dial it back when I feel like I’m in a stick fight with someone who has no stick. I’m sometimes happier not getting my way than I would be if I felt manipulative. It’s a powerful skill that should be used judiciously."

From Scott Adams, "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life" (p. 134).

That resonated with me. Not because I think I'm that highly skilled at persuasion (though I have had some unsettling experiences of convincing people of things when I didn't even mean to). But because I choose not to persuade. It's not something I like to do to people and it's not how I want to use my verbal skills, whatever they are. You might say: But, Althouse, you are a lawyer. I was a lawyer for about 18 months more than 30 years ago. I'm not interested. My idea of being a law professor doesn't involve convincing anyone of anything, and the same goes for blogging. I'm not even trying to stop men from wearing shorts.

"Her people have been trying to pin it on me," said Colin Powell.

"The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did."

"Hillary Clinton is considering having multiple people play the role of Donald Trump in debate prep... and Alan Dershowitz... would love to do it."

But he says he hasn't been asked yet.
Dershowitz... said he is well-suited for the role “if they were looking for a loudmouth New Yorker. Of course I would do it if asked — I think I could do a pretty good Donald Trump impression....”
It's not like casting the role for a movie! I should think the key would be making the kinds of statements and arguments that might come up. I suppose part of it is creating the feeling of the opponent's presence, especially if there was concern that your candidate could be intimidated or provoked. But I have the feeling Hillary Clinton is so used to standing her ground and making her points and keeping her standard expression that imitating Trump's bluster is not very important.

And it could even backfire. Let's say you take somebody — Dershowitz, perhaps — who hates Trump and is disgusted by him. Now, he thinks he can embody that object of his contempt. Is he really going to create the effect that the real Trump will present on stage at that debate or will he give Hillary a false sense of her opponent as someone who can be fought in ways that won't look right when the real event happens? She might get the idea that tilting her head back and smirking and occasionally shaking her head or laughing will get us viewers on her side. But he's going to have a fake Hillary to practice with and he'll have worked out some strategies. Can Dershowitz — through the fog of contempt — perceive what these will be and provide her with an opportunity to work out an effective style?

A couple days ago, I said "Watch out for Nice Trump. What will Hillary do if Nice Trump arrives on the scene?" And in the comments Left Bank of the Charles said: "As for Hillary, I'm sure she'd love it if Nice Trump shows up for the debates. But I'd advise her to expect the rope-a-dope."

So... she might prepare for the blustery jackass of the Trump hater's fever dreams, then be surprised by a kinder, gentler Trump. But if Nice Trump arrives on the debate set, it may be a trick to lure her into debating the wrong way, and late in the debate — perhaps when she's tired (or getting too comfortable) — he may surprise her in some unpredictable way.

On CNN's "State of the Union" yesterday, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook said they haven't come up with someone to play Donald Trump in the mock debates. The moderator Dana Bash tried to get him to talk about the "incredibly delicate task" — which I think referred to confronting Hillary with very negative material, such as her lying and her husband's treatment of women. But Mook just used the question as an opportunity to attack Trump:
It's very hard to find someone to mimic the reckless temperament and the hateful instincts and divisive instincts of Donald Trump.... The challenge is finding someone who -- who can recreate the kind of reckless temperament, the kind of hateful language and divisive language that's become Trump's hallmark.
But it's funny that Dershowitz is eagerly waving his hand and saying me! me!

Dershowitz has a new book, "Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for Unaroused Voters." And if you enjoy that pun, let me guess: You are over 70 and not a woman. But if you are under 50 and a Hillary supporter, it might be just the thing to trigger you into thinking yes, this is the jerk who can play Trump.

ADDED: There's no reason to do a mock debate with someone acting like the Trump people won't like. If that's the Trump who shows up for the real thing, he'll hurt himself. Imagine the best Trump, the one who can win the election. That's what he's trying to do right now. You don't want to get caught flat-footed, like Obama in the first debate in 2012.

"When I was in college, and for many years after, I liked the natural world. Didn’t love it, but definitely liked it. It can be very pretty, nature."

"And since I’d been fired up by critical theory, and was looking for things to find wrong with the world and reasons to hate the people who ran it, I naturally gravitated to environmentalism, because there were certainly plenty of things wrong with the environment. And the more I looked at what was wrong— an exploding world population, exploding levels of resource consumption, rising global temperatures, the trashing of the oceans, the logging of our last old-growth forests— the angrier and more people-hating I became. Finally, around the time my marriage was breaking up and I was deciding that pain was one thing but spending the rest of my life feeling ever angrier and more unhappy was quite another, I made a conscious decision to stop worrying about the environment. There was nothing meaningful that I personally could do to save the planet, and I wanted to get on with devoting myself to the things I loved. I still tried to keep my carbon footprint small, but that was as far as I could go without falling back into rage and despair. But then a funny thing happened to me. It’s a long story, but basically I fell in love with birds. I did this not without significant resistance, because it’s very uncool to be a birdwatcher, because anything that betrays real passion is by definition uncool. But little by little, in spite of myself, I developed this passion, and although one half of a passion is obsession, the other half is love. And so, yes, I kept a meticulous list of the birds I’d seen, and, yes, I went to inordinate lengths to see new species. But, no less important, whenever I looked at a bird, any bird, even a pigeon or a sparrow, I could feel my heart overflow with love."

From "Pain Won't Kill You," In "Farther Away: Essays," by Jonathan Franzen.

"When your mother comes from a certain location, you tend to like that location. I do feel Scottish..."

"... but don’t ask me to define that. There was something very strong from my mother.... I have a lot of money."

Said Donald Trump on his visit to the Outer Hebrides in 2008, quoted in the first chapter of "Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power," which comes out tomorrow. The first chapter is available at Amazon, where I am reading it. Be aware that the book was written by a team of writers put together by The Washington Post.
[Trump's mother Mary Anne MacLeod] grew up in this remote place speaking the local Gaelic dialect. Tong had been home to Mary’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, as well as countless cousins. The land around the home was known as a croft, a small farm typically worked by the mother, enabling the father to spend much of his time fishing. It was a spare existence, with many properties “indescribably filthy, with doors so low it is necessary to crawl in and out,” according to a local history. Families struggled to cobble together incomes through a combination of farming in the acidic soil and raising animals, fishing in the nearby bay and rivers, and collecting peat to be sold or used as fuel and seaweed to be used as fertilizer on the difficult land. It was all too common for men to sink with their sailing ships, a fate that in 1868 befell Mary’s thirty-four-year-old grandfather, Donald Smith, who had the same first name Mary gave decades later to her son, Donald Trump.

Trump is "an improviser" — "someone who jumps out and tries to provoke and tries to connect with people by speaking plainly."

"And he truly believes that all publicity is good publicity. He also truly believes that where you are on a particular issue doesn’t especially matter. What matters is connecting with people and getting what you wanted, getting the final step. The bottom line is what’s important to him. And this has been true throughout his business career and his personal life. It’s all about him. It’s am about getting to the goal. And he is quite willing to run roughshod over people to get there."

Said Marc Fisher, co-author of "Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power." Fisher was answering a question, on "Face the Nation" yesterday, from the host John Dickerson, about what are Trump's "core beliefs." After that answer, Dickerson sums it up as: "Just getting a win. Just calling it a win."

At that point, I was talking to the television, saying something like: Yes, but what counts as a win when you are President of the United States? There's no way to win for yourself alone. You have to win for the country. It doesn't make sense any other way. That's the definition of a win — Make America Great Again.

Fisher continued:
Getting a win. He grew up in a house where his father warned him against being a nothing. And his whole life has really been structured around proving to himself and others that he is something, something big and important. And this is only the latest step in really a very consistent pattern throughout his life.
And now he offers to win for us as a country. What is wrong with that idea? And I'm not asking that question as a way to say Nothing wrong with that! I'm really asking the question seriously. What is wrong with a man with a powerful, deep-seated orientation toward winning offering to merge his independent individual persona with the entire country and then winning for us?

I mean, other than that it seems to jump off the page as the definition of fascism.

Shouldn't Republicans love it that "Donald Trump, With Bare-Bones Campaign, Relies on G.O.P. for Vital Tasks"?

The quote is a headline at the NYT, which seems to want to nudge us to think that Donald Trump is doing it wrong.

But don't Republicans pine for small government and don't we all like efficient government?

Why is the big-spending Clinton campaign with its gigantic staff held up as the standard compared to which Donald Trump falls short?

You could answer that it's wrong to compare the style of a campaign to the style by which the candidate would govern. And yet we're continually pushed to infer that Donald Trump, as President, will speak the same way and display the same demeanor we see at rallies. But perhaps that's because the speech and demeanor strike people as inappropriate for a State of the Union address or a face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader. It works as anti-Trump, so the media like that argument, and they don't like the argument that he's running an innovative, efficient campaign. It's the same reason the media don't stress Hillary Clinton's extreme resistance to press conferences and frame that as a terrible characteristic for a President.

The media feel like lawyers for the Clinton campaign, taking whatever the evidence is and presenting it as advantageous to their client.

From the above-linked article:
Mr. Trump spends little on polling and made his first advertising purchase of the general election campaign only last week. His rapidly growing digital fund-raising and voter-targeting operation is a partnership with the Republican National Committee, relying significantly on lists built and maintained in recent years by the party....

Although he has opened offices in Ohio and Florida in recent weeks, Mr. Trump’s field efforts rely primarily on roughly 500 Republican National Committee organizers scattered across 11 swing states.

The arrangement is a kind of throwback to the pre-Citizens United era, when party organizations — not independent “super PACs” and political nonprofits — assumed many of the financial and organizational burdens of national campaigns....
Clinton is the one running on the argument that Citizens United is a horrific Supreme Court case that must be overruled because it's wrecking the way we do politics, but ironically she's the one doing politics that way and Trump — despite the freedom of the outside groups to spend money on his behalf — is running his operation on his own and relying the resources of the party whose nomination he worked hard to win.

But, we're told, Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers don't want to help him. And some GOP insiders are trying to figure out how to deprive Trump of the resources of the GOP.
The difficulty, though, is that as November approaches, the Republican National Committee is more reliant on Mr. Trump for cash than on other recent nominees. Millions of dollars are coming in through a small-donor-focused committee operated jointly with the committee, which is splitting a share of the proceeds with Mr. Trump. Over half the money raised by the Trump campaign and the committee combined in July came from donors giving less than $200, far more than for any recent Republican nominee....
I would think that sounds great, and yet — to the NYT — it's a "difficulty."

August 21, 2016

The 3 meanest men Hunter S. Thompson ever met — one was Jimmy Carter.

"He will eat your shoulder right off...."

ADDED: Here's the Rolling Stone article he's talking about, from June 3, 1976, "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '76/Third-rate romance, low-rent rendezvous — hanging with Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and a bottle of Wild Turkey." Excerpt:
There was not much anger in his voice when he started talking, but halfway through the speech it was too obvious for anybody in the room to ignore. But there was no way to cut him short, and he knew it. It was the anger in his voice that first caught my attention, I think, but what sent me back out to the trunk to get my tape recorder instead of another drink was the spectacle of a Southern politician telling a crowd of Southern judges and lawyers that "I'm not qualified to talk to you about law, because in addition to being a peanut farmer, I'm an engineer and nuclear physicist, not a lawyer....… But I read a lot and I listen a lot. One of the sources for my understanding about the proper application of criminal justice and the system of equities is from Reinhold Niebuhr. The other source of my understanding about what's right and wrong in this society is from a friend of mine, a poet named Bob Dylan. Listening to his records about 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll' and 'Like a Rolling Stone' and 'The Times They Are A-Changin',' I've learned to appreciate the dynamism of change in a modern society."

At first I wasn't sure I was hearing him right and I looked over at Jimmy King. "What the hell did I just hear?" I asked.

King smiled and looked at Paul Kirk, who leaned across the table and whispered, "He said his top two advisers are Bob Dylan and Reinhold Niebuhr."
AND: Doesn't this description (not of Carter) sound like Trump:
His hair was bright orange, his cheeks were rouged, his forehead was caked with Mantan.... No! I thought. This can't be true! Not now! Not so soon! Here was this monster, this shameful electrified corpse – and raving and flapping his hands at the camera like he'd just been elected president.

Can I get some better math analysis than "Trump Has Strong Fundraising Month, but Doesn't Catch up to Clinton"?

That's the headline at ABC, and I think it fails to capture the dynamics of the relationship between the fundraising and the rate of spending. I can't do the math myself, but let me see if I can get you to do a problem for me.

Trump raised $36.7 million in July, after raising $20 million in June, and $3 million in May. So there's a path of increase in money-raising.

But Clinton raised more money in each of those months $52.3 million in July, $36.4 million in June, and $26.4 million raised in May. Her money-raising is increasing too, but not at the same rate.

Then there is the rate of spending, reflected by how much cash is left on hand: Trump has $38 million and Clinton has $58.5 million. And we also know that Clinton spent $38.2 million in July while Trump spent $18.5 million.

Can you use those numbers to say some sophisticated things about whether Trump has caught up to Clinton? I'm sorry I can't do my own math, but I can at least see the application for math here. My intuition says that Trump actually has caught up — more than caught up — if the numbers are understood realistically. Thanks in advance for helping me explore this intuition.

At the Sunday Fish Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Martin O'Malley is outraged by "racist mimes."

On "State of the Union," Sunday, August 21, 2016, O'Malley criticized Donald Trump for retweeting "racist mimes."

Yes, I know he meant racist memes, but racist mimes... what a concept! I've heard criticism of people appearing in blackface, but watch out for those in whiteface.

"I said to [my children], 'I hope you never have children,' which is an awful thing to say."

"It can bring me to tears easily," said 67-year-old Nancy Nolan, who had children before she learned found out about climate change.

Quoted in "Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?" at NPR.

ADDED: I think Nancy Nolan is being a drama queen. If anybody really cares about carbon emissions, stop your crying and be hard-headed about what emits carbon. It's not the person per se, but what the person does. Back in 2010, I made a list of changes you could make to your behavior. No air conditioning isn't on the list, because that is already a given. If you haven't done that yet, Nancy and the Weepers, you are crying crocodile tears. So get up and switch that off. Forever. And now, read my list:
1. Your weight should be at the low end of normal, indicating that you are not overconsuming the products of agriculture.

2. You should not engage in vigorous physical exercise, as this will increase your caloric requirements. You may do simple weight-lifting or calisthenics to keep in shape. Check how many calories per hour are burned and choose a form of exercise that burns as few calories as possible.

3. Free time should be spent sitting or lying still without using electricity. Don't run the television or music playing device. Reading, done by sunlight is the best way to pass free time. After dark, why not have a pleasant conversation with friends or family? Word games or board games should replace sports or video games.

4. Get up at sunrise. Don't waste the natural light. Try never to turn on the electric lights in your house or workplace. Put compact fluorescent bulbs in all your light fixtures. The glow is so ugly that it will reduce the temptation to turn them on.

5. Restrict your use of transportation. Do not assume that walking or biking is less productive of carbon emissions than using a highly efficient small car. Do not go anywhere you don't have to go. When there is no food in the house to make dinner, instead of hopping in the car to go to the grocery store or a restaurant, take it as a cue to fast. As noted above, your weight should be at the low end of normal, and opportunities to reach or stay there should be greeted with a happy spirit.

6. If you have free time, such as a vacation from work, spend it in your home town. Read library books, redo old jigsaw puzzles, meditate, tell stories to your children — the list of activities is endless. Just thinking up more items to put on that list is an activity that could be on the list. Really embrace this new way of life. A deep satisfaction and mental peace can be achieved knowing that you are saving the earth.