July 27, 2017

At The Red Bloom Café...

P1140146

... you can talk about whatever you like.

And do remember The Althouse Amazon Portal. It's the easiest way to show your support for this blog. (But you know, some readers use the PayPal buttons in the sidebar and make a simple contribution. When you make a one-time contribution, there's a space that lets you leave a note, and I receive those notes by email. Someone might tell me about something in particular I'm doing that they like, which is really nice! Other readers use the "subscribe" button, which lets them set up a monthly contribution, such as $5. It's really wonderful to know there are readers who visualize the blog as something like a magazine, worthy of a subscription. I wanted to thank you for that.)

"Researchers analysed the writing of regular bloggers with either terminal cancer or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who all died over the course of the study..."

"... and compared it to blog posts written by a group of participants who were told to imagine they had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and only had only a few months to live. They looked for general feelings of positivity and negativity, and words describing positive and negative emotions including happiness, fear and terror. Blog posts from the terminally ill were found to have considerably more positive words and fewer negative ones than those imagining they were dying – and their use of positive language increased as they got close to death."

From "We fear death, but what if dying isn't as bad as we think?/Research comparing perceptions of death with accounts of those imminently facing it suggest that maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about our own end."

Shorter version: Dying is better than you think.

Morbid cartoon about John McCain.

Published in The Nation.

It's very well drawn and written. You might not like the message, but it's excellent work by Matt Bors.

And as long as I'm talking about cartoons in magazines I know many of you disdain, I really liked "Reasons Your Creative Type Has Broken Up with You," by Ruby Elliot.

"The shock expresses itself in women and girls who sleep for days on end, seemingly unable to wake up..."

"... said Hussein Qaidi, the director of the abductee rescue bureau. 'Ninety percent of the women coming out are like this,' he said, for at least part of the time after their return.... A video... shows what happened when the sisters saw their family for the first time after their return. Their relatives rushed to embrace the gaunt women. They cried.... A day after the video was taken, reporters went to see the women, and they could no longer stand. They lay on mattresses inside the plastic walls of their tent.... Family members said that except for a few brief moments, the women have not awakened since then, over a week ago."

From "Freed From ISIS, Yazidi Women Return in ‘Severe Shock'" (in the NYT).

"'Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,' Scaramucci said."

"He channelled Priebus as he spoke: '"Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months."'"

From "Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon/He started by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. It escalated from there," by Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker.
Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”...

Unlike other Trump advisers, I’ve never heard [Scaramucci] say a bad word about the President. “What I want to do is I want to fucking kill all the leakers and I want to get the President’s agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people,” he told me.
ADDED: Scaramucci responds via Twitter:
I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump's agenda. #MAGA
And:
I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won't happen again.

"Kakutani was a fearsome and unpredictable gatekeeper, more so because she has been a singularly private person, almost never seen or heard from outside of her reviews."

"She is said to be close friends with Maureen Dowd and Alessandra Stanley, part of a long-standing clique of empowered and influential women at the Times.... Kakutani joins dozens of other Times employees who have opted to take voluntary buyouts as the Times implements a plan, as I wrote about earlier this week, to free up budget for some 100 additional reporters. While the buyouts, which are to be finalized today, were primarily aimed at copy editors, both writers and other editors were eligible to apply for the exit packages, too. Kakutani is the most high-profile taker to emerge so far...."

From "MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE LEGENDARY BOOK CRITIC AND THE MOST FEARED WOMAN IN PUBLISHING, IS STEPPING DOWN FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES/Kakutani, who helped make the careers of writers from Foster Wallace to McEwan, and put fear in the hearts of Mailer and Vidal, will leave her post as one of the most formidable critics in the Times history" by Joe Pompeo (in Variety).

That was a nonapology from the leader of the Boy Scouts.

All day, I've been seeing that there was an apology, and I just got around to reading it:
I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.
The leader (Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive) is obviously reacting to criticism. He knows there are people who were offended, and he's mollifying them. It's not the most exaggerated form of nonapology, because he doesn't say I'm sorry if you were offended or I'm sorry that you were offended, but he's speaking to the offended and showing that he cares about their feelings.

It's also missing the most important element of an apology: An admission of wrongdoing. In fact, Surbaugh argues that the Boy Scouts did everything right. They were completely politically neutral, making the same invitation to the President that they always make and not intending for the President to inject any politics into the event. I'd say Surbaugh's purpose here is to defend the Boy Scouts and concede nothing.

Interestingly, Surbaugh does not even say that the President did wrong. The President got the standard invitation, accepted it, and showed up and said what he decided should be said. He was given a speech opportunity and he operated independently of the Boy Scouts, who just gave him the platform. He was free to speak, and, as is often the case, some people think he made some bad choices. What Surbaugh seems to care about is that the President's choices about what to say not be attributed to the Boy Scouts, because he, understandably, doesn't want any political positions to seem to belong to the Boy Scouts.

(It reminds me of cases in which a public school gives the valedictorian the podium at graduation and the valedictorian, given a speaker's slot, chooses to thank Jesus. The school isn't endorsing religion, just following a neutral policy of giving a forum to the student with the highest grades. In that situation, the school has an obligation to avoid taking a position on religion, and the valedictorian, speaking for herself, is free to thank Jesus. That can be accepted as perfectly fine.)

Something else that makes what Surbaugh said not a real apology is that there's nothing about the future. It sounds as though the Boy Scouts are going to keep doing what they've done since 1937 and invite the President to speak and that the President will be on his own. Surbaugh doesn't even say he hopes that the criticism the President received this year will influence Presidents in the future to keep politics out of the Jamboree speech. He just regrets that it happened this time. Regret is an element of an apology, but only one of several elements.

Conclusion: That was a nonapology.

"The military’s policy permitting transgender individuals to serve remains in place, the country’s highest military officer said on Thursday..."

"... clarifying some of the confusion surrounding President Trump’s announcement on Twitter that transgender people would no longer be accepted or allowed in the military.... [T]he policy on who is allowed to serve will not change until the White House sends the Defense Department a rules change and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines."

The NYT reports.

I've been wary of the Trump = chaos template, but this is too chaotic for me.

The most embarrassing thing about this CBS News puff piece isn't that it proclaims that "Hillary Clinton lets her 'guard down'" based on nothing more than that...

... the Introduction to her new memoir makes the statement "Now I'm letting my guard down."



If NBC News cared about factual reporting, it would say "Hillary Clinton Claims She Is "Letting [Her] Guard Down' in Her New Memoir." Most of us won't believe that, and NBC must know that, so why would it ludicrously tout the book as if someone at NBC had read the book and found it revealing and forthcoming?

But the most embarrassing thing in that NBC news article is in the third paragraph. Did you notice? Let me close in on it:



They called it a "novel"!

Ironically, that's more believable than the idea that she's letting her guard down.

By the way, the book is called "What Happened." No question mark. You're supposed to read that title in a flat just-the-facts tone of voice. Not in a comical what-the-hell-just-happened? way.

IN THE COMMENTS: tcrosse said: "'What Happened' has to be the most disingenuous book title since 'If I Did It.'"

At the Purple Café...

P1140154

... you can talk while I go air myself out.

And please — I know it's weird after that last post — use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Bezos just became richer than Gates.

He's now the richest person in the world, the NYT reports.
Forbes now estimates the wealth of Mr. Bezos, currently Amazon’s chief executive, at about $90.6 billion, compared with $90 billion for Mr. Gates.

Mr. Bezos has added tens of billions of dollars in wealth — at least on paper — over the last year as Amazon shares surged more than 40 percent during that time period....

According to a filing with securities regulators in April, Mr. Bezos holds nearly 81 million shares of Amazon — almost 17 percent of the company. Forbes also estimates the value of his other investments — including his ownership of The Washington Post and the rocket company Blue Origin — and cash from the sale of securities as part of its wealth calculations....
In this light, what explains the pay wall at The Washington Post? Isn't owning that, for him, something to do to influence what people think? Why make it harder to read? Ah, if I understood stuff like that, I'd be wealthier myself. I'm going to assume he's one of those people who are excited about money as money and love bigness as bigness. How big can it get? It's an orientation.

UPDATE, later the same day: Gates pulled back ahead of Bezos.

"The elders — who effectively served as the family’s 'panchayat,' or village council — decided that justice should be served as revenge."

"They instructed the victim’s brother, who is also about 16, to rape the teenage sister of the attacker in return for his crime, Ahsan Younis, head of the Multan city police, told The Washington Post."
So the 16-year-old brother followed suit, assaulting the teenage girl in his family’s home and effectively carrying out what Younis called a “revenge rape.”

Two rapes, within two days, all in one extended family. It turns out the first assailant’s father is a brother of the second assailant’s grandfather....

Authorities ordered the arrests of 29 people — all members of the extended family.... Family members admitted to police that the second rape was ordered as retaliation for the first one. But they asserted that the decision was a consensual one between the two families.

The "aggressive thrill ride" — The Fire Ball — breaks in mid-swing, riders topple out, and at least one person dies.

Here are search results from which you can choose a story/video.

This happened at the Ohio State Fair.

The death of Rocky the Squirrel (and Natasha of Boris and Natasha).

Did you know June Foray?



"June Foray, the last of the great old voice actors, has passed away at the age of 99...."

"There are thousands of transgender people already serving among the 1.3 million active-duty members of the military."

"These are people who have volunteered their service and have potentially put their lives on the line, and yet their President, who managed to come up with a flimsy doctor’s note back in the day, denies them their dignity, their equality. He will not 'accept or allow' them in the military. Imagine the scale of this insult.... When you begin to consider the meanness of what Trump has done, it is worth remembering him saying that he was 'smarter' than the generals on military matters, and that he mocked John McCain’s service in Vietnam because 'I like people who weren’t captured.' When you begin to think about the scale of this offense, it is worth remembering Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who lost a son in Iraq, addressing Trump directly from the lectern of the Democratic National Convention: 'You have sacrificed nothing and no one.'"

From "The Cruelty and Cynicism of Trump’s Transgender Ban/The President’s tweets are a naked attempt to divert attention from his scandals," by David Remnick (in The New Yorker).

ADDED: Look how positive Trump was to LGBT rights when he was campaigning:

A lefty buzzword has become Scaramucci's "favorite" word, and the Columbia Journalism Review endeavors to explain it to us.

Do you know the word? Had you noticed Scaramucci relying excessively on any particular word )or words)?

The word is "binary."

Now, when I first saw — in "The meaning behind Scaramucci’s favorite word" — that the word was "binary," I thought it must be that Scaramucci is using it to destablize a question. Some interviewer tries to pin him down, and he distances himself from the question by calling it "binary." Actually, the issue is complex and multifaceted. And then he can explain why and work his way toward something he is willing to say.

But, no. Scaramucci uses the word like this:
“Tomorrow I’m going to have a staff meeting,” he said on the CBS program Face the Nation. “And it’s going to be a very binary thing.…If they want to stay on the staff, they’re going to stop leaking.” A few seconds later, he said, “But if you’re going to keep leaking, I’m going to fire everybody. It’s just very binary.”
He's not using the word to inject complexity. He's the one imposing the clarity. Either you're with us or you're against us. 

I associate the word with the left because, as Columbia Journalism Review puts it:
[R]ecently, “binary” has been applied to gender, with the traditional view being that biological sex is binary, only male or female. Many people, though, identify themselves as “nonbinary,” meaning they don’t think of themselves as either male or female, or as only male or female, and the concept of the “gender binary” is often questioned.
Searching this blog's archive, I'm seeing the word used in various things I've quoted. For example, in March 2015, I quoted a Slate writer who said:
Dividing the world into males and female is such a big part of the culture that it can seem impossible, and perhaps even aggravating, to try to think outside those categories. This is not only a problem for squares stuck in a binary way of thinking — many of the terms associated with genderqueerness end up referring back to masculinity or femininity in some way, which is a bit tricky if the ideal is to move beyond the gender binary entirely.
But just a couple weeks ago, "binary" came up in the context of good and evil. I quoted the Wikipedia entry for "Goofus and Gallant":
Philosopher Theodore Sider used the characters [Goofus and Gallant] in an argument against the notion of a binary Heaven or Hell conception of the afterlife. Sider conceived of Goofus and Gallant as near-equals, with Gallant only marginally better than Goofus, in arguing that sending the former to Heaven and the latter to Hell is antithetical to God's justice.
So the word has been used, I observe, to disparage those who see things simplistically in black and white. Sophisticated people are not stuck in a binary way of thinking.

And now, here comes Scaramucci. He may have put some sophisticated thought into what he's doing, but as he delivers the message, he's out-and-proud binary. Very binary.

***

Scaramucci used "very" with "binary" both times in that quote at the top of the post. If you're the kind of usage stickler who frowns at "very unique," you should see the problem with "very binary." You shouldn't say "very unique," because "unique" already means only one. There's no way to be more one than some other one. The same goes for "binary." It means exactly two. Just as there's no way to be more one than one, there's no way to be more two than two.

But I see the argument on the other side. When we speak of people who have a binary way of thinking, we mean that they have a tendency to think in terms of opposites that seem clearly distinct to them. The strength of the tendency can vary. Scaramucci would like us to think that he is a binary thinker of the most intense sort. I'm the kind of person who imagines that he probably has nonbinary reasons for wanting us to think that's how he operates. There's some 3-dimensional chess in there, won't you agree?

July 26, 2017

At the Revery Café...

P1140175

... you can talk all night.

And maybe you have some shopping to do — a Bob Marley album, some new Nine Inch Nails, the greatest album by a woman, a book about the wild horses of Sable Island, or men's pajamas with a rubber-ducky pattern — so please use those links or The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Because of Bob’s mixed blood, he was often teased as 'the little yellow boy' or 'the German boy.' He was described as shy, resourceful, and clever."

"In 1957, Marley and his mother moved to Kingston, settling in a dense, ramshackle neighborhood referred to as Trench Town. Marley fell in with a crowd that dreamed of making music. He formed a group with Neville (Bunny Wailer) Livingston, Peter Tosh, Beverley Kelso, and Junior Braithwaite. They eventually called themselves the Wailers, and their sound fused American-style soul harmonies with the island’s jumpy ska rhythms. Under the guidance of Joe Higgs, a singer and producer, the Wailers were a local sensation by the mid-sixties. But island stardom brought little financial security. After moving briefly to Wilmington, Delaware, where his mother had relocated, Marley returned to the Wailers in 1969, just in time for a revolution in Jamaican music: the jolting, horn-inflected styles of ska and rocksteady were slowing down. Reggae was the new craze."

From "Manufacturing Bob Marley/A new oral history shows just how much of his story is up for grabs," an article in The New Yorker (about this book, "So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley").

There are many interesting things in that article, but the most interesting thing to me was that Bob Marley lived in Wilmington, Delaware in the 1960s. I look up his address — 2312 Tatnall Street — and find it in Google Street View:



Google calculates how far that was from where I lived — 5.5 miles. I left in 1964, and he didn't arrive until 1965.

In a New York Magazine interview with Trent Reznor, will there be any mention of Donald Trump?

There shouldn't be, but there can't not be.

1. "I’m very familiar with the rage that seems to fuel the Trump voter or the angry internet commenter..."

2. Prompted with "Trump is the question hanging over so many artists right now": "I’ve been struggling with that, especially as far as the live performance and my trying to be a provocateur. I’m sure I’m doing what many people are trying to do in response to the election: understand, quantify, justify, rationalize, find comfort, feel animosity, should I say something? Should I do something? Should I give up?"

3. Asked "So have you landed on anything helpful?": "Well, the weird thing now is looking at politics as a father. My kids walk in the room and I’ve got CNN or MSNBC on and I have to hit the mute button because I don’t want to get into a discussion about how embarrassing the president is. He’s a fucking vulgarian. Aside from whatever ideological beliefs he has — if he has any — he’s a grotesque person who represents everything I hate. I’m repulsed by everything about him and he’s the president, you know? I haven’t figured out how to rationalize that to my kids’ beautiful little optimistic minds. I grew up in a shitty little town full of Trump voters, so I think I can I understand the point of view of someone who supports his message. What I don’t understand is supporting that messenger."

50 years ago today: Day 4 of the 12th Street Riots.

We've been following the story of this 5-day incident using Wikipedia. Earlier posts here (Day 1) and here (Day 2).
Starting at 1:30 on Tuesday, July 25, some 8,000 Michigan Army National Guardsmen were deployed to quell the disorder. Later, their number would be augmented with 4,700 paratroopers from both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions [sent by LBJ], and 360 Michigan State Police officers....

Some analysts believed that violence escalated with the deployment of troops, although they brought rioting under control within 48 hours...  Tanks and machine guns were used in the effort to keep the peace.... By Thursday, July 27, sufficient order had returned to the city that officers withdrew ammunition from the National Guardsmen stationed in the riot area and ordered them to sheath their bayonets...

The Detroit riot was a catalyst to violence elsewhere as the riot spread from the city into adjoining suburbs and to other areas of Michigan.... The state deployed National Guardsmen or state police to other Michigan cities as simultaneous riots erupted in Pontiac, Flint, Saginaw, and Grand Rapids, as well as in Toledo and Lima, Ohio; New York City and Rochester, New York; Cambridge, Maryland; Englewood, New Jersey; Houston, Texas; and Tucson, Arizona. Disturbances were reported in more than two dozen cities.