August 16, 2017

At the Late-Night Questionable Artwork Café...


... I'm soliciting opinion on the possibly deplorable politics of this image. I think there are a lot of suspicious details here, and we may need to raise an outcry.

Or talk about anything you want. It's a café post.

More on the artwork later. I just thought opining on the political correctness of artwork was the order of the day.

Consider supporting my inquiry into questionable artwork by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

ADDED: Here's the card (from the wall at the Indianapolis Museum of Art):

What a manipulative card! Eerily... disquieting... detached... separation... loneliness... transience... anonymity... Can't I have my own feelings? Are the older couple really so alienated from each other? Is the older woman not looking at the man? They don't look happy, but to me, they seem engaged.

Perhaps they're in town for a funeral. They've got their coats. They're going somewhere or they just got back. Something's up, something related to the world beyond this weird room. The young woman with the book is engaged with reading. Reading entails connection to another human being, the writer. Perhaps the young woman represents the youth the older couple have lost. Now, the older couple seem poised, tarrying, at the edge of the grave, represented vertically by the doorway to the dark restaurant. They're on the menu, food for worms.

The lobby the antechamber of death. Outdoors is only a picture on the wall. There's no going back. The green line of life leads in from the left corner. The old lady has plopped into the chair and planted her prim little toes on the line. She looks with anxiety at the man who, one foot on the green line, lamely explains that they've got to keep going. The line turns a sharp corner, into the coffin/desk and the undertaker/desk clerk waits almost invisibly under the half-shown clock where their time is running out.

The Spotted Cheetah — the for-real Cheetos restaurant.

"The menu — which includes Cheetos meatballs, Cheetos crusted fried pickles, and Flamin’ Hot and White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheetos — was created by celebrity chef Anne Burrell. Each of the eleven items range in price, from $8 to $22."

"I bethink me that you may have no objections to hear something of my whereabout and whatabout."

Wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1841. Did you ever think about the word "whatabout," corresponding to "whereabout"? We usually see "whereabout" in the plural — as in "I was right learn of your whereabouts and whatabouts."

I found both of those sentences in the OED as I was looking up "whataboutism" in the OED. "Whataboutism" isn't there — nor is "whataboutery" — but I'm seeing the word "whataboutism" a lot this week. It's in reference to Trump, of course. Trump famously referred to the "alt-left" when asked about the "alt-right," and there's some very heated criticism of that form of argument, which really is very annoying when you're criticizing someone and you don't want to hear that there's a corresponding — and smaller!!! — criticism against you.

One problem is that very few people are willing to give up that form of argument when the tables are turned. In other words, what about your whataboutism?

"Fremont's Lenin Statue Is Currently Under Siege By Trump Supporters and An Alt-Right Troll."

The Stranger reports.

"[Stephen] Stills may be hobbled by arthritis—backstage he bumps fists rather than shakes hands with fans..."

"... he has carpal tunnel and residual pain from a long-ago broken hand, which affects his playing—and he is nearly deaf, but his performance life has continued. Drugs and alcohol may have dented him somewhat, forming a kind of carapace over the youthful sensitivity and cockiness one often saw in the face of the young Stills. Some might infer by looking at the spry James Taylor or Mick Jagger that heroin is less hard on the body than cocaine and booze, which perhaps tear down the infrastructure. ('Stills doesn’t know how to do drugs properly,' Keith Richards once said.) But one has to hand it to a rock veteran who still wants to get on stage and make music even when his youthful beauty and once-tender, husky baritone have dimmed. It shows allegiance to the craft, to the life, to the music. It risks a derisive sort of criticism as well as an assault on nostalgia."

The novelist Lorrie Moore writes a book review (NYRB) for a biography of Stephen Stills

I'm interested in reading the review because Lorrie Moore wrote it. I don't particularly care about Stephen Stills, but if Moore wants to describe him, I'm up for hearing about his carapace and his infrastructure. And I do love this one song...

... which I believe somebody brought up in one of the comments sections this morning. Let's see. Ah, yes. Here it is: pacwest said:

At the Questionable Artwork Café...


... you tell me if this is okay.

Or talk about anything you want.

I'll provide more background on the artwork later. I just thought opining on the political correctness of artwork was the order of the day.

It's midmorning break time for me. Perhaps it's time for shopping. If you're shopping, I encourage you to support this blog by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

ADDED: Here's the wall card from the Indianapolis Museum of Art:

The NYT gives its readers definitions for "alt-right" and "alt-left."

In the transcript (NYT) of yesterday's press conference, we see Trump talking about the "alt-right" and the "alt-left" and challenging a reporter to give a definition:
REPORTER: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these and he linked that same group to those that perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Well, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he is talking about. When you say the alt-right. Define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. No, define it for me. Come on. Let’s go.

REPORTER: Senator McCain defined them as the same group —

[cross talk]

TRUMP: What about the alt-left that came charging at — Excuse me — What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? [cross talk] Let me ask you this: What about the fact that they came charging, that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. So, you know, as far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.
Define your terms — it's a way of slowing down an interlocutor who's letting labels do too much of the work. Trump combines the demand for a definition of one thing that is said with calling attention to what is unsaid: You've got a label for one side but not for the other side.

Perhaps reacting to that demand for definition, the NYT has "Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language" (by Liam Stack).

First up is the definition of "Alt-Right," and I think this definition pushes the word into a much uglier zone than some of the people who have popularized the term deserve:

Apparently, we're in a time to break down, a time to cast away stones.

"To everything... There is a season... And a time to every purpose, under heaven... A time to build up, a time to break down/A time to dance, a time to mourn/A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together...."

Remember that Donald Trump destroyed sculptures.

"In 1979, when he was a relatively unknown New York real estate developer (the mind boggles), a 33-year-old Trump acquired the historic Art Deco Bonwit Teller building, only to demolish it a year later to build what would become Trump Tower. He promised, however, to save two 15-foot-high bas-relief panels that adorned the Teller building and donate them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art should he be able to remove them. Despite his word, the 'pieces that had been sought with enthusiasm by the Metropolitan Museum of Art…were smashed by jackhammers yesterday on the orders of a real estate developer,' as the New York Times report from the time tells it."

From "How Real Estate, Violence, and Public Protest Destroyed These Iconic New York Artworks" (which includes the story of "Tilted Arc," a sculpture people hated because it was massively in the way.)

Trump said at the time that the sculptures were "without artistic merit":
In the New York Times the PR spokesman identified himself as ‘John Barron’. In the Associated Press story the same publicity man called himself ‘Donald Baron’ and was quoted as saying that ‘the merit of these stones was not great enough to save them.’ Both ‘John’ and ‘Donald’ were Trump. ‘What do you think? Do you think blowing up the sculptures has hurt me?’ he asked Vanity Fair a decade later.
Who cares? Let’s say that I had given that junk to the Met. They would have just put them in their basement. I’ll never have the goodwill of the Establishment, the tastemakers of New York. Do you think, if I failed, these guys in New York would be unhappy? They would be thrilled! Because they have never tried anything on the scale that I am trying things in this city. I don’t care about their goodwill.

"Statues dedicated to Confederate heroes were swiftly removed across Baltimore in the small hours of Wednesday morning..."

"... just days after violence broke out over the removal of a similar monument in neighboring Virginia. Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town." (NYT).

Have you ever woken up in the morning to find your city had changed during the night? There's a dystopian edge that called to mind "Dark City"...

And that old Pretenders song with the overly familiar intro, "My City Was Gone":

IN THE COMMENTS: iowan2 said:
I have seen a tag line of late, something about darkness, just can't put my finger on it,

Oh here it is. Washington Post."Democracy dies in darkness"

Prescient I guess
Matthew Sablan said:
There's a way to go about removing the monuments. Doing it with force of arms and threatening the city with violence is not the way.
And doing it under cover of darkness suggests that it's something shameful that needs to be hidden. If you can't do it proudly, by daylight, you're not ready to do it.

"Emad Mishko Tamo was only nine years old, sobbing and reaching out for his mother when ISIS militants captured and separated them..."

"... as the pair attempted to escape the besieged town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, where thousands of Yazidi men, women and children were murdered or abducted. For nearly three years, Mihlo Rafo — who came to Winnipeg along with four of her children in January as government-sponsored Yazidi refugees — knew nothing of Emad's whereabouts...."

Winnepeg Free Press: "'Take me to Canada to my mom,' boy pleads after liberation from ISIS."

The sarcastic meaning of "Hello" is traced to "Back to the Future": "Hello, hello? Anybody home? Hey! Think, McFly. Think."

In the Oxford English Dictionary:

Why am I researching the word "hello" at 4 in the morning? I started out writing something — it will be up next soon — about Trump's press conference, which I wanted to call "hairy." But I wasn't sure "hairy" really is used and understood anymore — "hairy," not in the sense of covered with hair (though with Trump that alternative meaning distracts us), but in the sense of difficult, rough, wild, frightening. It was common slang years ago, enough that The New Yorker had a cartoon in 1971 with the caption "And do you, Elizabeth, take this man, John, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, until the going gets hairy?"

To check for currency, I looked up "hairy" in the Urban Dictionary, and one thing I found was "Hey do you have the hairies on that?," which got me clicking through to "hey," one of the great English language words that you use all the time but don't think too much about. Years ago — back in the 50s and 60s — many adults would correct you if you thought you could get their attention with "Hey." Often they'd deploy the corny riposte "Hay is for horses." I think these were the same adults who would tell you "A kid is a baby goat" if you were crass enough to refer to a human child as a "kid."

Hey, kids...

... I wanted to track down the origin of "hey." "Hey" is such an old word that the OED's oldest use is unreadable: "Hei! hwuch wis read of se icudd keiser!" (a1225). Unreadable, except that we get the meaning of "Hei!" Even 200 years later, it's hard to understand. This is a line in a Christmas carol: "Hey, hey, hey, hey, The borrys hed is armyd gay." I'm just going to guess that there's some excitement about the presentation of a boar's head.

Anyway, "hey" got me thinking about "hi" — a great word that I'll do a separate post about sometime — and then "hello." I thought "hello" had been invented for speaking on the phone, but "hello" — the interjection defined by its use ("Used to attract attention") — goes back to 1826 in the Norwich (Conn.) Courier: "Hello, Jim! I'll tell you what: I've a sharp knife and feel as if I'd like to cut up something or other." And then in 1833, "Sketches & Eccentricities Col. David Crockett":
"I seed a white man walking off with my plate. I says, ‘Hello, mister, bring back my plate.’"

The first telephone-related "hello" comes in 1877 from Thomas Edison: "I do not think we shall need a call bell as Hello! can be heard 10 to 20 feet away. What you think?" I think you are wrong, Mr. Edison. We need a bell!

Did you know that it was Thomas A. Watson, not the man with the name Bell, who invented the bell for the telephone:
It is impossible to say exactly how vital Watson’s role was in the invention of the phone, but he was certainly far more than a mere assistant. During the seven years he worked for Bell, he secured sixty patents in his own name, including one for the distinctive ringing bell that was for decades an invariable part of every phone call made. Remarkably, before this, the only way to know if someone was trying to get through to you was to pick up the phone from time to time and see if anyone was there.
That's from Bill Bryson's "At Home: A Short History of Private Life." I don't know if you had to pick up the phone. It seems as though Edison's idea was that the phone would be left off the hook — if the hook was even part of the phone — and if you were calling you'd say "hello!" and if the person on the other end was within 10 or 20 feet, you'd get their attention, just as if you were there in person trying to get their attention with a "hey!" And why not "hey"? Apparently, "hello!" carries farther.

When shouting from a mountaintop or into a cave — or into a hollow skull — you always choose "hello":

August 15, 2017

Trump won't concede that he was wrong to talk about "many sides," because "before I make a statement, I like to know the facts."

The NYT reports on "a long, combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower."
Mr. Trump repeated that assertion on Tuesday, criticizing “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the nationalist and Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. He said there is “blame on both sides.”
Here's a part of today's statement, in which he is explicit that he did not condemn everyone on the non-counterprotester side.

"I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch... Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

ADDED: Some people thought his remarks yesterday represented a backing off from his much-criticized "many sides" line, but I was not one of them.  I think what he said Saturday, yesterday, and today was basically all the same thing.

"Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death/How a rally of white nationalists and supremacists at the University of Virginia turned into a 'tragic, tragic weekend.'"

This is the kind of newspaper article I'm looking for, detailing what happened in Charlottesville, and I wish I felt more confidence that The Washington Post would tell it straight. Maybe this is straight, but how can I know? What trust has been shot to hell in the last few years of journalism! I'm still reading this, because it's the closest I've come to the kind of careful report I want.


At the Southern Statue Café...


... can we all get together?

(Photograph first posted here in 2012.)

Scott Adams — wearing his Pope hat to make a moral ruling — says that the Confederate statues should come down.

The brand is "America" and it's working against your brand — even if only 20% of the people are feeling offended and excluded. It doesn't matter that you think it doesn't.

He didn't really need his Pope hat for that, because he's not talking about his own moral vision. He's taking a businesslike, corporate view, discussing a branded product called America and noticing the moral opinions of the consumers of the product.

There's also some interesting discussion in there about the internment of persons of Japanese descent during WWII and whether statues of FDR should come down. If I understand Adams's standard correctly, if 20% of Americans are offended — based on serious reasons — then Americans as a group should want to update the American brand and remove the monument, which is just decoration.

ALSO: Pope-hatted Adams makes the moral ruling that the mob's pulling down of a statue of a Confederate soldier is "a moral gray area." There was no violence against persons, only property, and it "comes very close to free speech." It's destructive, but only of "a racist symbol." I'll give this post the "civil disobedience" tag. Adams doesn't use that term, but he briefly acknowledges that the destruction is against the law and that the protesters probably need to be arrested and prosecuted and given a light sentence. In standard civil disobedience thought, the disobeyers accept the legal consequences.

AND: Adams is very funny talking about the notion of gathering America's Confederate statues in a museum: "It would be the world's worst museum." You'd be saying "There's a statue of Robert E. Lee" and then "There's a statue of Robert E. Lee," etc. I'd just note that the sculpture was designed to fit in a park, so how about something outdoors, something like Grūtas Park (AKA "Stalin's World)(discussed in this post of mine from last May (about the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue in New Orleans)).

AND: Let me repeat something from that May post, this image "The Sons of Liberty pulling down the statue of George III of the United Kingdom on Bowling Green (New York City), 1776":

Scaramucci on the Colbert Show.

Worth a watch:

Most interesting thing: He comes right out and calls Steve Bannon a leaker and says if it were up to him Bannon would be gone.

Colbert is kind of annoying for 2 reasons: 1. He's straining too hard to get Scaramucci to do what makes comedians love him while at the same time trying to step on all of Scaramucci's jokes and claim all punchlines for himself, and 2. The audience over-screams with laughter any time Colbert gets off any kind of line, which really spoils the experience for me, watching at home. I want to decide what's funny, not have a bunch of sycophants continually informing me which of 2 men in a man-to-man interview they're rooting for.

I liked the way the band played the "Scaramouche, Scaramouche" section of "Bohemian Rhapsody" as Scaramucci walked on. The song choice is the complete opposite of surprising but I liked the way they played it. Just a cool variation on an old theme.

Oh, wait. There's a Part 2, after the break...

ADDED: Scaramucci doesn't know if Bannon is a white supremacist, but he doesn't like Bannon's toleration of white supremacists.

About to start law school, Tiffany Trump Instagrams from a colorfully surrealistic pool environment.

A post shared by Tiffany Ariana Trump (@tiffanytrump) on

I saw that at The Washington Post, where the headline is: "Tiffany Trump is starting at Georgetown Law next week. Here’s what to expect." What to expect? Another young person goes to law school. Is there anything to see? I've read the article for you. Answer: No. Other than that her Instagramming will be from Washington, D.C.

By the way, I wonder where one buys a pool float with Eldorado breasts like that? You know what I'm talking about, Eldorado? Here's a picture I took a few weeks ago:


"The hunt for survivors of a devastating mudslide on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital has continued, with 270 bodies recovered so far...."

And "thousands missing" — The Guardian reports.

Advance warning of the violent propensities of James Alex Fields Jr.

WaPo reports:
James Alex Fields Jr. was barely a teenager in 2010 when his mother — who uses a wheelchair — locked herself in a bathroom, called 911 and said her son had struck her head and put his hands over her mouth when she told him to stop playing a video game, according to police records....
In the 2010 call, Bloom... said her son was taking medication to control his temper...

In October of the following year, Bloom called 911 to say that her son was “being very threatening toward her” and that she didn’t feel “in control of the situation,” according to a dispatcher’s notes.

And in November 2011, police were asked to come to the house because Bloom was said to want her son to be assessed at a hospital, according to the records. He had spat in her face, said the caller, whose connection to the family is not clear in the records.

The previous night, Fields had stood behind his mother with a 12-inch knife, the caller reported. “Scared mom to death not knowing if he was going to do something,” the dispatcher’s report continued.
Does this make the organizers of the Unite the Right less responsible? Maybe. But you always know mentally unstable, violent people are out there. You should not act like a magnet for them. You should not draw them into a phantasmagoric environment and pump them up with confusing, exciting, chanted words.

I remember the Wisconsin protests, I was worried about the mental health of some of the lost souls who gravitated to the scene. On March 1, 2011, I wrote:
There are young people in the Wisconsin Capitol who have been there, sleep deprived, for 15 days and are truly suffering.

I just watched video Meade brought home, and I am not going to put it on line. But I can tell you, there is at least one person there who has lost his mind from (apparently) sleep deprivation.

Someone needs to go around to everyone who is still there and check them for mental stability. Somebody needs to find the people who need to leave and don't know how to leave. If you are encouraging people to stay, to hang on and remain tough, you need to know that there are some truly sad people there who need to be told that they've done enough and must leave now.

Please, for the love of God, go around to the human beings who are there and talk to them individually. I know you believe in your cause, but there is at least one person among you who needs love and needs to be saved!