January 19, 2018

1965 and 1967 — a comparison.

"Do you think racial stereotypes are false? Are you sure? I’m not asking if you’re sure whether or not the stereotypes are false..."

"... but if you’re sure whether or not you think that they are. That might seem like a strange question. We all know what we think, don’t we?... [W]e might be sincerely mistaken about our own beliefs.... Studies show that people who sincerely say that racial stereotypes are false often continue to behave as if they are true when not paying attention to what they are doing.... People think that the stereotypes are true but also that it is not acceptable to admit this and therefore say they are false. Moreover, they say this to themselves too, in inner speech, and mistakenly interpret themselves as believing it. They are hypocrites but not conscious hypocrites. Maybe we all are...."

From "Whatever You Think, You Don’t Necessarily Know Your Own Mind" by Keith Frankish (Big Think).

“The #Metoo movement... and the highly visible cases that are similar to Cosby (powerful men, similar patterns of behavior, multiple victims) make the environment one that is more supportive of the prosecution’s case."

Said Cornell Law School professor Valerie Hans, quoted in "Will the #MeToo Moment Shape the Cosby Case?" (NYT).

There has long been a debate on just how much judges are, or should be, swayed by public opinion. Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the United States Supreme Court said that listening to public opinion is “a road to perdition” for judges.

“We’re not there to be popular,” he added in a video that was posted on a public policy website, bigthink.com “We’re not there to decide according to the majority; we’re not there to decide according to what the press is going to write.”

Others, such as the Harvard law professor Michael Klarman have argued that certain landmark rulings like Brown v. Board of Education would never have been possible if judges had not been reflecting shifting social mores.

"A.D.H.D. prescription rates increased... by 700 percent among women aged 25 to 29, and by 560 percent among women aged 30 to 34."

The NYT reports (on the period between 2003 and 2015).
Between 3 percent and 6 percent of adult women in various age groups got these prescriptions in 2015, the researchers found, compared with 1 percent or less in 2003. The rate rose among women ages 20 to 24, for example, to 5.5 percent in 2015 from 1 percent in 2003....

Recent changes in diagnostic guidelines have extended the criteria to adults who have experienced inattentiveness and restlessness since childhood.... But many also acknowledge that these drugs have wide appeal as performance-enhancers: among students as study aids, and among adults seeking an edge in their work.

Moira Donegan, the young woman who put the "Shitty Media Men" spreadsheet on line.

"I was watching the spreadsheet fill up. It became clear to me that a problem I had already understood as widespread was in fact, much, much broader."
DONEGAN: “So much of the conversation after the spreadsheet was made public was about the methodology of the spreadsheet, and sort of the tactics that anonymous women were using to try and keep each other safe. People were more worried about a hypothetical man whose reputation might be damaged than real women who were really raped.”

TIEFENTHÄLER: “It’s not a hypothetical man, right? There were men who were named on this who had to suffer repercussions in their real life.”

DONEGAN: “Some companies decided to conduct investigations. Not all, but some of them did result in men leaving their jobs or being fired, because they were found to have committed wrongdoing. I think it’s their responsibility that they acted that way.”

The Frozen Butt Hang — winter hammock camping in Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a long article (with some good pictures) about this annual event. Patterned after a Minnesota event, it was started by Nick Gordon, who "vowed to start my own in Wisconsin." It's been as cold as -41° with snow as deep as 3 feet.
"I think winter camping is a lot more social" than summer camping, Gordon said. "There's so much communal time around the fire."

Larson removed a Dutch oven from its perch hanging above the fire and offered up its contents — a cheesy mix of eggs, sausage and potatoes — to the group. Someone else melted water from a frozen jug. Another added 3-foot-logs to the long fire.

This is how they spend most of the day — "we stand around and eat," someone joked. Gordon said he'll consume 6,000 calories a day when camping in the winter....
Is it all men? The Sentinel calls it "a male-heavy brigade, many with hearty beards," ah, but here, it quotes a woman, "Karla with a K":
"I used to make fun of (Nick) for hammock camping... until I tried it one time. It was 19 degrees and it sleeted that night, and I was so warm...."

"I would say, having been called fake news myself, that the President of the United States is the king of fake news. He is the king of fake news."

"He said Barack Obama was not born in this country. He said Mexican are rapists and criminals. He has said many things. He has said he lost the election because undocumented people voted by the millions. He said that he had the largest inauguration crowd of all time. The list goes on and on."

Said Jim Acosta at a free-press forum at the Newseum on Wednesday night, which turned out also to be the night President Trump announced his "Fake News Awards" on the RNC website.

Now, I see (looking at my email this morning) that Trump is taking a vote (at his campaign website) asking people to vote for "KING OF FAKE NEWS of 2017." Is this in direct response to Acosta — a kind of I'm not the king, you're the king?

The options on the ballot are ABC, NYT, Washington Post, etc. — whole news organizations, not human individuals, so I don't think the term "king" can be flipped back at the media very well. And a king is the head of a government. The press is a counterbalance to government. The press only works by saying things that the people consume and react to. The safeguards are built-in. A king has power by way of a hereditary position and by his own will operates levers of power. No one is King of the News or the Fake News... unless you just mean "king" in the weak sense, as in Elvis is the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

Here's the point in the post where I'm triggered to look up "king" in the OED. The 4th meaning of the word is "A male person or being whose authority or pre-eminence is comparable to that of a king." Thus, God has long been called the "King of Heaven" or the "King of Glory" (which seems like a step down for God).

Then you get things like: "He is kynge of dronkardes and of dronkenes" (1509), "He's the king o' gude fellows, and wale of auld men" (1793 R. Burns), and "A never before assembled album of original RCA recordings of the King of Rock 'n' Roll—Elvis Presley" (1981 Weekly World News advertisement.)

There's the industrial/commercial use. In the 19th century, various magnates were called "cotton king," "fur king," "railway king," and these days, we're most likely to say "drug king." That makes me think of "drug czar," an informal term for an American government official in charge of drug control. A "czar" is the same thing as a "king," but it sounds foreign and funny. We don't call anyone in American government "king" unless, like Jim Acosta, we mean to insult him. We have a history with that term...

January 18, 2018

At the Snow Bike Café...


... put on your electric boots and ride.

Don't have any safety yellow bike wear thermo overshoes? Get them on Amazon, here. And get whatever else you want on Amazon using the Althouse Portal. You know, there actually is something called "electric boots." It's not just a stray phrase from "Bennie and the Jets." Check it out: here.

Writing fast or slow.

Robert A. Caro, in a new interview in the New York Review of Books:
My first three or four drafts are handwritten on legal pads. For later drafts, I use a typewriter. I write by hand to slow myself down. People don’t believe this about me: I’m a very fast writer, but I want to write slowly.

When I was a student at Princeton. I took a creative writing course with the literary critic R.P. Blackmur. Every two weeks, I’d give him a short story I’d produced usually at the last minute. At the end of the semester, he said some complimentary words about my writing, and then added, “Mr. Caro, one thing is going to keep you from achieving what you want—you think with your fingers.”

Later, in the early 1960s when I was at Newsday, my speed was a plus. But when I started rewriting The Power Broker, I realized I wasn’t thinking deeply enough. I said, “You have to slow yourself down.” That’s when I remembered Blackmur’s admonition and started drafting by hand, which slows me down.

"the things you think you love — like a pair of Gucci booties — can't reciprocate. That relationship is one-sided."

Writes Mary Carlomagno, a de-cluttering expert, quoted in a WaPo article that talks about many techniques, but has one I haven't see before:
Take a photo. Carlomagno likes the idea of taking a photo to keep ("that leather pencil skirt that you were only able to wear once, after you had food poisoning in 1994") and letting the object go. This solution was a revelation for me when it came to gifts and paper memorabilia — a way to preserve programs from a wedding or an aunt's teacup without having to find a place for them.
The love for things is unreciprocated, so treat them like people who don't love you, whom you may still love. Keep a photograph:

"After a brief moment of existential crisis, Google’s question 'Is your portrait in a museum?' has the potential to bring people closer to great works of art."

"After all, I was linked to amazing individuals who sat for accomplished artists housed in major museums around the world. But is it really that effective? A quick review of social media confirms that the Twitterverse is weighing in on their art historical doppelgängers. Alas, the comments of the Twitter hive mind are rather superficial...."

From "Here’s My Problem With the Google Arts & Culture Face-Matching App" (Smithsonian).

What's up with the empty shelves at Whole Foods

Business Insider investigates:
  • Whole Foods employees say stores are suffering from food shortages because of a newly implemented inventory-management system called order-to-shelf, or OTS.
  • Whole Foods says the system reduces unnecessary inventory, lowers costs, and frees up employees to focus on customer service.
  • Employees acknowledge that less food is spoiling in storage rooms, but they describe OTS as a "militaristic" system that crushes morale and leads to many items being out of stock.
  • "Last week, we ran out of onions and potatoes twice," an employee of a Brooklyn Whole Foods store said. "Entire aisles are empty at times."
  • "It has for weeks had empty shelves, and I shop there twice a week," one customer told Business Insider. "The prepared-food section is not refreshed, and food looks stale."
ADDED: The Madison Whole Foods is nowhere nearly as bad as what you see in the photographs at the link, but there are gaps in the shelves, giving an impression of deficiency where once we saw abundance. It makes a big psychological difference! The real-world store is theater, and it's not at all like a website.

"The Times editorial board has been sharply critical of the Trump presidency, on grounds of policy and personal conduct."

"Not all readers have been persuaded. In the spirit of open debate, and in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand the views of those who don’t, we wanted to let Mr. Trump’s supporters make their best case for him as the first year of his presidency approaches its close. Tomorrow we’ll present some letters from readers who voted for Mr. Trump but are now disillusioned, and from those reacting to today’s letters and our decision to provide Trump voters this platform."

Wrote the NYT editors yesterday, so today's the day for the page full of pro-Trump letters.

That's a big step away from the Don't-Normalize-Him narrative of a year ago.

ADDED: A few excerpts, each from different letters:

"If I wanted a scripted smooth talker for president, I’d have voted for someone else. An unscripted Mr. Trump feels more authentic to me, and I still don’t see him as a politician. If the election were held again today, I would 100 percent vote for him again."

"Who knew that all it would take to make progress was vision, chutzpah and some testosterone?"

"I loved George W. Bush, but he failed on policy over and over again. If it takes putting up with Mr. Trump’s brash ways to see things get done, that is a deal I’m willing to accept. To be honest, I’m not sure he would have accomplished what he has so far without being an unrelenting public bully."

"As a child of the ’60s I admire his iconoclastic nature, optimism and unapologetic humanity. When asked during the campaign about his truthfulness, he replied that maybe he is too truthful."

"I have a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor’s and master’s from Harvard; I’m a former hedge fund trader and now an academic.... [Trump] has turned a fragile nation 'anti-fragile' (the scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s term). Before Mr. Trump, we were scared of any volatility. Oh no, ISIS! Oh no, banks! The more chaos there was, the worse we were. Now volatility is our friend. The more chaos, the better! Entrepreneurship up. Optimism up. Good old American problem solving is back! You know who loves change? Capitalists. Mr. Trump has led us on that spiritual exodus."

"Trump’s Border Wall Prototypes Are Minimalist Art — and Should Be a National Monument."

NY Magazine.

Asking Philip Roth to take #MeToo seriously.

At the NYT, Charles McGrath interviews the venerable novelist, who says a lot of words, but does not answer the question:
C.M. One of your recurrent themes has been male sexual desire — thwarted desire, as often as not — and its many manifestations. What do you make of the moment we seem to be in now, with so many women coming forth and accusing so many highly visible men of sexual harassment and abuse?

P.R. I am, as you indicate, no stranger as a novelist to the erotic furies. Men enveloped by sexual temptation is one of the aspects of men’s lives that I’ve written about in some of my books. Men responsive to the insistent call of sexual pleasure, beset by shameful desires and the undauntedness of obsessive lusts, beguiled even by the lure of the taboo — over the decades, I have imagined a small coterie of unsettled men possessed by just such inflammatory forces they must negotiate and contend with. I’ve tried to be uncompromising in depicting these men each as he is, each as he behaves, aroused, stimulated, hungry in the grip of carnal fervor and facing the array of psychological and ethical quandaries the exigencies of desire present. I haven’t shunned the hard facts in these fictions of why and how and when tumescent men do what they do, even when these have not been in harmony with the portrayal that a masculine public-relations campaign — if there were such a thing — might prefer. I’ve stepped not just inside the male head but into the reality of those urges whose obstinate pressure by its persistence can menace one’s rationality, urges sometimes so intense they may even be experienced as a form of lunacy. Consequently, none of the more extreme conduct I have been reading about in the newspapers lately has astonished me.
Maybe you forgot the question by the end of all that!

The question is whether he has come to understand a woman's point of view that has become so widely publicized in the past year, and he talks and talks, and he never says one thing about a woman.

It's as if he's telling us by showing us that women are nothing at all. They're the background against which we are able to see what a man is.

What do you make of the moment we seem to be in now...? Nothing!

The question wasn't about a woman's point of view, it was about male sexual desire and its manifestations. That's precisely what Roth answered.
The question was an invitation to see male behavior in terms of the many highly publicized accounts given by women. This is a woman's point of view. His answer makes the women invisible. He says nothing about how the women have told their stories. He says there's no "moment" to make something of as far as he's concerned, because he's been looking deeply into the sexual behavior of men. He's already told the story... and more... and better. There's nothing new here for him. In fact, we ought to read his old books, because he's been way ahead of us for decades.

And when you're a star they let you do it — you can do anything — and they can tell an eagerly listening world exactly what you were like.

People want access to the star, as Donald Trump famously observed: He's automatically attracted to beautiful women — like a magnet.... And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. They let you do it. You can do anything... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

That's the up side of being a star: You're attracted to somebody beautiful and she lets you have her body.

But the downside is that, because you're a star, if she ever has an inclination to tell the story of what sex was like with you, everybody wants to hear it. The media will publish all the details, down to the awkwardness of your "claw" move:
She says Ansari began making a move on her that he repeated during their encounter. “The move he kept doing was taking his two fingers in a V-shape and putting them in my mouth, in my throat to wet his fingers, because the moment he’d stick his fingers in my throat he’d go straight for my vagina and try to finger me.” Grace called the move “the claw.”
Little, private things that weren't even the slightest bit abusive will be splashed on the front page of The Daily Mail. She says that you said she was "beautiful and smart just like his daughter," and the world will react with horror as if you'd called her by your daughter's name while you were having sex. She says that you had intercourse in the "textbook generic... one position" that people "would expect someone [your] age to do," and people will laugh derisively, just as they would have laughed if you done something less usual, such as having her urinate in the bed.

You're a star, and you can do anything... and anything can be done to you.

"Trump displays unalloyed masculine strength. His supporters do not care if he is predatory, insulting, or offensive as long as he is never in doubt..."

"... especially if he is kicking the limp Washington establishment around. Trump’s instinct-driven behavior confirms that he is the archetypal alpha-male, the unfiltered reptilian brain, concerned only with sustenance, survival or sex. If anything enters his world, they know he must either eat it, kill it, or mate with it. That’s why they like him. For about half of America, that is terrifying. For the other half, Trump’s strength is the only thing they can count on to protect them from return of the elite bloodsuckers who would devour them.... Trump’s supporters don’t expect his unrestrained id to ponder the details of briefing papers before he eats the red meat in front of him. As long as Trump displays strength and grabs the media, the establishment and America’s adversaries by the pussy, he’s the T Rex many of his supporters want."

Said Alex Castellanos, "a veteran Republican media consultant and Trump loyalist," asked to comment on the subject of "why Trump and his supporters are immune to the attacks of the #MeToo movement," and quoted in "Can Democrats Follow #MeToo to Victory?" (NYT), the column by Thomas B. Edsall discussed in the previous post.

I had to break out that quote for a separate post, because it's so well written! But is it true? It's at least truthy.

If you ask the question like that, out loud... "Can Democrats Follow #MeToo to Victory?"...

... I hope it's because you believe the answer is no. If this is your actual strategy, you better keep it to yourselves. If you can. Don't repeat the Jennifer Palmieri screwup. Remember, earlier this month?
The Center For American Progress (CAP) Action Fund circulated a memo... co-authored by former Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri...  “The fight to protect Dreamers is not only a moral imperative, it is also a critical component of the Democratic Party’s future electoral success..."...
"Can Democrats Follow #MeToo to Victory?" is a NYT column by Thomas B. Edsall. I haven't read it yet, but I suspect that he's posing the question to answer it in the negative. Let's see:
The issue has the potential to accelerate the growing discontent among well-educated white women with the Republican Party. But it could also intensify hostility to the liberal agenda among conservatives, particularly white men, many of whom view women’s complaints of discrimination as “an attempt to gain advantage” in the workplace....
Edsall goes on to quote a lot of academics and pollsters in a way that should inspire caution about using this issue too much. He mostly lets data and experts do the talking for him, and the closest he gets to answering the question in the column title is "what looks like a favorable climate now for Democrats is in fact highly volatile."

One of the pollsters — Alex Castellanos — says something so interesting that I'm going to make it a separate post. So if that's what you're inclined to talk about, please save your comment for a post that will come up next and very soon.

January 17, 2018

Trump's "Fake News Awards."

The GOP site is swamped, but Fox News has the list:
1) The New York Times’ Paul Krugman claiming markets would ‘never’ recover from Trump presidency

2) ABC News' Brian Ross’ bungled report on former national security adviser Michael Flynn

3) CNN report that the Trump campaign had early access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks

4) TIME report that Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office

5) The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel tweeting that Trump’s December rally in Pensacola, Florida, wasn’t packed with supporters

6) CNN’s video suggesting Trump overfed fish during visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

7) CNN’s retracted report claiming Anthony Scaramucci-Russia ties

8) Newsweek report that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake Trump’s hand

9) CNN report that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute President Trump’s claim he was told he was not under investigation

10) The New York Times report that the Trump administration had hidden a climate-change report

11) In Trump’s words, "‘RUSSIA COLLUSION!’ Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. THERE IS NO COLLUSION!”

"I hope the ~500 RTs on the single news write-up made that burgundy lipstick bad highlights second-wave feminist has-been feel really relevant for a little while."

Said Katie Way, the reporter who wrote up the story about bad sex with Aziz Ansari. She's criticizing Ashleigh Banfield, a Headline News anchor who'd criticized that story.

Nothing says feminism like a woman criticizing another woman's hair and makeup... and yet, I find it hard to watch cable news because I feel bad about the extremely heavy makeup and the mussy spaniel ears of hair/"hair" on just about all of the newswomen.