June 3, 2017

"Seven people are feared dead after three men with 12-inch hunting knives reportedly stabbed pedestrians after mowing down up to 20 people with a white van on London Bridge."

"The men, described as being 'of Mediterranean origin', reportedly jumped out of the van and began 'randomly stabbing people' along Borough High Street in central London at 10pm. The car, believed to be a B&Q vehicle, reportedly veered in an 'S shape' at 50mph across the bridge and has driven towards the Shard and is south of the river.... One woman said she saw three people with what appeared to be their throats cut on London Bridge amid reports that at least seven people have been stabbed, leaving bodies 'strewn' on the road in central London...."

The Daily Mail reports.

"She has had relationships she describes as purely sapiosexual, in which there was no sex, just intense conversation."

"One man was nowhere near her physical type, but the first time they met, he began reciting poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke. 'I was so amazed at how fluid the whole conversation was,' she said. 'I could feel something happening inside me.' The next time they saw each other, he took her to an art exhibit and gave her all of Rilke’s books. Since then, Rilke has been one of her favorite poets. In such relationships, she said, 'I access my wisdom and love and ability to analyze in this incredible way, and they do, too.' Darren Stalder, an engineer in Seattle, appears to have coined the term 'sapiosexual' in 1998 to describe his own sexuality. 'I don’t care too much about the plumbing,' he wrote in a post on the social network LiveJournal in 2002. 'I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay.' Sapio, in Latin, means 'I discern' or 'understand.'"

From "The Hottest Body Part? For a Sapiosexual, It’s the Brain/In a society obsessed with physical appearance, sexual attraction for some people is based on intellect, and not necessarily on looks" (in the NYT).

The reason I only have 1 post up today (until this one) is that I stopped to watch Bill Maher's show (which I had recorded).

I'd seen that he was the latest target in the game of Destroy a Comedian, and I wasn't interested in playing the game. We need our comedians, and if they're any good, they're going to offend us now and then. Maher does his show live, and he's got to jump at jibes when he sees them, and often he's childish or edgy or low.

I needed to watch the whole thing, and that took a while, because I have a sort of real-live, in-the-room, blogger-and-commenter thing happening here, and it takes a long time to watch the whole show. There's pausing and conversation and rewinding and innumerable points to be made — and not just about Maher's "Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house nigger" response to Ben Sasse's invitation to come out to Nebraska and "work in the fields with us."

Meade and I weren't just talking about that, but about the entire interview with Ben Sasse, who was there to talk about his book — "The Vanishing American Adult" (which I've blogged about before). Sasse was doing a great job holding his ground and seeming like a smart, attractive, independent politician, and it will be a shame if people only want to talk about Maher's zinger with the bad word, but that's what we do these days. Because Sasse is right, adulthood is eroding.

Ooh! Maher said a bad word, Mommy. Punish him! 

And then there was a panel discussion, a completely unbalanced panel with what seemed to be 3 hopped-up Trump haters: Eliot Spitzer — isn't he supposed to be in prison? — Rebecca Traister — author of that NY Magazine Hillary hype, "Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried." — and Jim VandeHei — a co-founder of that new media effort Axios, which aspires to fix what's wrong with media, but might be bad. These 3 jiggled and fidgeted and spluttered. The best part was when Traister, effusing, made a reference to Hillary Clinton redirecting her fundraising "hose." Maher — with almost nothing but facial expression — called attention to the pun, and Traister tsked at him. Meanwhile, sitting between Traister and Maher was Spitzer — Client 9 — but Maher resisted the edgy joke there. He didn't say "Eliot, you know about hos" or anything like that. The panel stumbled on.

In the middle of the panel, there was the most substantive, intelligent part of the show, a little interview with a man named Tristan Harris, whose bottom-of-the-screen identification read: "Former design ethicist, Google." He had a lot to say about the great power of manipulation possessed by Google and Facebook and Apple and the ethical problems of the attention-manufacturing business. But that set up a question Maher threw to Traister and Traister seized the opportunity to chatter manically and we never got back to Harris.

The morning was getting late and the cool breeze in real-life world wasn't going to last. I got out for a long walk. But now I'm back and I see that Maher has apologized:
"Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I’m up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn’t have said on my live show. Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry."
If it were up to me, I'd say fine. The word wasn't directed at anybody (other than at Maher himself). It was mostly just laughing at the idea of Bill Maher working in a field. Worse that the "n-word" itself, in my view — if you want to take racial matters seriously — is that he used slavery in a lighthearted way.

For a different perspective, here's what Malcolm X said about the "field Negro" and the "house Negro" (via "Five (Other) Times Bill Maher Was Racist, Islamophobic, or Sexist"):

What it means to say "He broke me" — the words Kathy Griffin said 3 times and made her cry.

Here's yesterday's post about Griffin's "He broke me." She'd lawyered up, and she'd moved beyond her sincere apology for going too far and wanted all the people who were outraged and attacking her to know that now they'd gone too far, and they had become the bullies. But it shifted from crying out about all the many people who were swarming her, to a focus on the one man, Trump. The key phrase was "He broke me." That one man, he broke her.

If you do a Google image search for "broke me," you'll see something like this:



"Broke me" belongs in melodramatic speech about a love relationship. Where did that visualization of Trump come from? Kathy Griffin never had a love relationship Donald Trump — did she?! — so how could there have been an emotional reservoir from which "He broke me" could spring?

You might argue, it wasn't that kind of "broke me." It was like breaking a horse. She sees herself as a wild, untamed creature — galloping comedy, running free. And Trump tamed her. He got that saddle on her and he's riding her. No. I'm not seeing that.

She was in relationship mode. "He broke me" is of a piece with: I really loved him. But how can that make sense?! It made enough sense for her to stop and listen to herself and say it again and hear herself again and say it once more with overly passionate feeling, like a ham actress in a bad movie. Why?! Where did that come from?

One answer is: We (some of us) are experiencing Donald Trump as our boyfriend. We love him in a romantic way. It's easy to see that we felt like that about Obama. I wrote a post in 2014 about how I already had 54 post with my tag "Obama the Boyfriend." It is something that happens with political leaders, romantic fixation. It was especially strong with Obama, and we could see it and (often) confess to it, because he was outwardly so charming and attractive and we wanted to be seen loving him.

But Trump?! Could Trump's success — his bizarre, how-the-hell-did-that-happen? success — be explained as romantic love? Throughout the campaign season, I know, I always opposed Trump on the sheer merits, but I also observed myself rooting for him. It was absurd, and yet I saw it happening for months. I didn't want him to win, so what was this crazy elation when he did win? I asked myself that question over and over again and observed myself on the heightened scrutiny level of knowing I was doing it and that it was bizarre.

I'm not making a new tag for this. I'll just give it my old tag "Trump derangement syndrome." It's a love/hate relationship.

ADDED:

June 2, 2017

At the Peony Café...

P1130789

... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And please think to use The Althouse Amazon Portal when you have some shopping to do.)

"'Sad.' - to put this in modern Trumpian vernacular. I don't know what the NYT is turning into, but..."

"... it is losing that high-quality veneer that I used to sense when I first fell in love with this paper years ago. As a mid-30s age conservative I have often disagreed with 90 percent of the content of this paper, but that hasn't stooped [sic] me from loving it out of the sheer literary and intellectual quality. That aura is slipping. Some devilish, penny-saving, top-down, 'cutting-edge' algorithm seems to be dragging this paper into the pop-up ad, cheapo swamp of modern online journalism; valuing shiny click-bait multi-media, and poll-tested, echo-chamber-friendly, OBVIOUS content, over brave, individualistic, ORIGINAL, human brilliance. The purging of the public-editor is just another brick in the wall."

Writes Jack M, in what is the third-most-favorited comment on "The Public Editor Signs Off," the last Public Editor column in the NYT.

Kathy Griffin (re Trump): "He broke me. He broke me. He broke me."

Step 1 was going on the attack. Step 2, apologizing. Now, we're at step 3: She's the victim of bullying.
The comedian broke down in tears as she detailed the torrent of abuse she has been receiving online, and the constant death threats which she described as detailed and specific....

[She] said that her career was likely over now as a result of this incident, and that President Trump had 'broke' her, moments after she declared: 'There's a bunch of old white guys trying to silence me!'...

It was also confirmed at the press conference that the Secret Service is investigating Griffin over the image, with the median saying: 'Yeah I might get arrested today. I don't care.'
Video will autoplay after the jump:

"Madison police investigating possible ambush of 'Proud Boy' by anti-fascists."

The Cap Times reports:
On May 13... a group of young men known as the Proud Boys from Wisconsin and possibly other states gathered to confer on their alt-right agenda. A South Chicago anti-fascist group, aware of the Proud Boys meeting at the Irish Pub on State Street, arrived at the bar that same night, waited until the Proud Boys group left, then ambushed one of them.

Madison police have not verified this account, which was posted by an anti-fascist — or "antifa" — group from south Chicago....

Initiated only last year, the Proud Boys, a quirky far-right association of young men, espouses “Western” values, decries Islam and immigration, extols housewives and entrepreneurs, and bans masturbation. In addition, initiation rites include a ritual beating, a requirement for a “Proud Boys” tattoo and a physical confrontation with anti-fascists.

"Our gay bars have long said that you do not exclude people because they’re gay or straight or transgender — you just can’t do that for any reason."

”We have to deal with the bachelorette parties that come to the gay bar. They’re terribly disruptive, but if you forbid women from coming to a gay bar, you’re starting down a slippery slope. It’s discrimination."

Says lawprof Stephen Clark — who says he is "a gay man, and I’ve studied and taught gay rights for years" — who filed an administrative charge against the Alamo Drafthouse for its women-only showings of "Wonder Woman," discussed at WaPo in "Why a gay law professor is trying to shut down women-only ‘Wonder Woman’ screening."

I haven't taken a legal position on this matter, and I explained why here. But I'm very interested in Clark's perspective, shaped by the annoyance of bachelorette parties in gay bars.*

When the historically disadvantaged group creates a special space for expressive purposes — even in a commercial setting like a bar or theater — aren't you sympathetic to its interest in preserving the benefits of the culture it has created? It's not the government. It's a private business. I'm not purporting to interpret the municipal law of Austin, Texas, only to discuss our principles of equality and freedom of association and expression.

________________________

* Maybe gay bars shouldn't be putting up with bachelorette parties! How about some lateral thinking? Clark seems to be implying that places he (or his friends) might wish would be exclusionary have stuck to a principle of nondescrimination and therefore other places should have to follow the same principle. But maybe he ought to consider whether gay bars are unnecessarily hurting themselves by not banning bachelorette parties.

Trump plays the Paris Accordion.

Red states and white states.

"I see a greater polarisation taking place between red states (meat-eating) and white states (chicken eating) Within the white states, meat-eaters will have to skulk about, looking over their shoulder as they bite into a beef kebab."

"Karoshi" — working yourself to death.

In Japan (as reported at BBC).
"It's sad because young workers think they don't have any other choice," [a helpline worker] tells me. "If you don't quit you have to work 100 hours [of overtime a month]. If you quit you just can't live.... We had karoshi is the 1960s and 70s, the big difference is they had to work long hours but they were secured lifetime employment. That's not the case anymore."

"The stakes are indisputably high: The court of appeals concluded that the president acted in bad faith with religious animus..."

".... when, after consulting with three members of his cabinet, he placed a brief pause on entry from six countries that present heightened risks of terrorism... "
“The court did not dispute that the president acted at the height of his powers in instituting” the executive order’s “temporary pause on entry by nationals from certain countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism,” the brief said. The brief also said the order’s “text and operation are religion-neutral.”...

“This order has been the subject of passionate political debate,” the brief said. “But whatever one’s views, the precedent set by this case for the judiciary’s proper role in reviewing the president’s national security and immigration authority will transcend this debate, this order, and this constitutional moment. Precisely in cases that spark such intense feelings, it is all the more critical to adhere to foundational legal rules,” the brief said.....
Quotes from Donald Trump's petition to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, in the NYT article "Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Revive Travel Ban."

"When men message women, women tend to respond most often to men around their own ages. But when women message men..."

"... they’re actually more likely to get a response from younger men than they are from older ones. A 40-year-old woman will have better luck messaging a 25-year-old man than a 55-year-old one, according to the data. And a 30-year-old man is more likely to respond to a message from a 50-year-old woman than a message from any other age group. When women make the first move, the age gap dating norm is reversed."

Is that mysterious?

The comment at 10:04 pretty much punctures the mystery.

ADDED: In case you can't see the "10:04" that I see, here's the comment:
The difference is that most 45 year old women would happily date men their own age or older but, as the survey suggests, men their own age aren't interested in them. And when those men do show interest, it is often with some implied sense of pity and biding their time until someone better (younger) comes along. So if you're a middle aged women and men your age won't respond to you but younger men will, might as well seize those opportunities and enjoy them.

"Science fiction gave people more false hope than two thousand years of Bibles... It was all lies!"

"The space program... It was a hollow, vaunting waste of taxpayers’ money. There is no future in space! I love the word— space! That’s what they were all discovering— empty space!... This is the future.... A little motor in a little boat, on a muddy river. When the motor busts, or we run out of gas, we paddle. No spacemen! No fuel, no rocket ships, no glass domes. Just work! Man of the future is going to be a cart horse. There’s nothing on the moon but ruts and pimples, and those of us who have inherited this senile exhausted earth will have nothing but wooden wheels, pushcarts, levers, and pulleys— the crudest high school physics, that they stopped teaching when everyone flunked it and started reading science fiction. No, it’s grow your own or die. No green pills, but plenty of roughage. Hard backbreaking work— simple, but not easy. Get it? No laser beams, no electricity, nothing but muscle power. What we’re doing now! We’re the people of the future, using the technology of the future. We cracked it!"

Paul Theroux, "The Mosquito Coast" (Kindle Locations 4972-4980).

A passage from a book I just finished that sprang to mind when I read this:
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has spent the last six years working on a giant aircraft capable of launching rockets to space. It's not quite ready to fly, though. Over the next few days, each of the six fuel tanks will be filled independently to make sure that the tanks are properly sealed and that the fueling mechanisms work. How big is it? On a football field, the wingtips would extend beyond the goalposts by more than 12 feet on each side. Video of the rollout here.
At least he's using his own money. What's the carbon footprint? 6 fuel tanks... not very Paris Accord-y. 

"If nothing else, a diary teaches you what you’re interested in."

"Perhaps at the beginning you restrict yourself to issues of social injustice or all the unfortunate people trapped beneath the rubble in Turkey or Italy or wherever the last great earthquake hit. You keep the diary you feel you should be keeping, the one that, if discovered by your mother or college roommate, would leave them thinking, If only I was as civic-minded/ bighearted/ philosophical as Edward! After a year, you realize it takes time to rail against injustice, time you might better spend questioning fondue or describing those ferrets you couldn’t afford. Unless, of course, social injustice is your thing, in which case — knock yourself out. The point is to find out who you are and to be true to that person. Because so often you can’t. Won’t people turn away if they know the real me? you wonder. The me that hates my own child, that put my perfectly healthy dog to sleep? The me who thinks, deep down, that maybe The Wire was overrated?"

From "Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)," by David Sedaris. That passage — from the introduction — appealed to me because it also applies to blogging: It teaches you what you’re interested in. You can set your blog to private, making it just like a diary, something you write for yourself but not without the capacity to think someone else could see this, if I changed the setting. The thing is that if you maintain a daily writing practice, after a year (or so), you'll have worn down, and if you're still there, you can't still be posing for the admiration of your imagined audience. Can you?

And here's the interview Sedaris just did with Terry Gross (on "Fresh Air"), which got especially intense as he talked about the suicide of his sister Tiffany:
Looking back over her life, my mom never really liked Tiffany very much. Tiffany was too much like my mother, and I remember that as a child almost ... I just thought, Ugh, wouldn't want to be Tiffany. ...

The rest of us should've said, "Mom, you need to do something about this, because that's not OK for you to treat somebody that way." But we never said that. We never called our mother on her behavior towards Tiffany. You think, You're 7, what are you going to do? But I wasn't always 7. I was 20 and I was 30. ... Tiffany had a lot of anger at us and a lot of it was really well-founded. We were adults, we could've said to our mother, "This isn't OK." ...
That came after he'd said a lot — and this is only on the audio, not in the text at the link — about how he was his mother's favorite. He made it sound as though he'd acquired much of his own literary power through her.

ADDED: This post had me going back to the starting point of this blog, and I see that in my second post, I describe the moment I decided to start blogging. It was funny to see that it happened in the middle of listening to "Fresh Air":
I was in the midst of cleaning out my office, having just covered the floor with books and papers. I paused the direct streaming "Fresh Air" I was listening to and checked my email, which included a colleague's description of her reasons for starting a blog. I had just emailed her about my admiration for her and my own timidity: "I'll have to think about getting up the nerve to do this sort of thing. It seems if you're going to do it, you need to become somewhat chatty and revealing, which is a strange thing to do to the entire world." Then it seemed altogether too lame not to go ahead and start the blog.
I'm reading some of the earliest posts and — maybe just because I'm reading Sedaris's Diaries — they seem a lot like Sedaris's Diaries:
Next to me at the hair-washing station of the salon was a woman who was ranting about bangs.

"I've always had bangs. Then, not having bangs, I was going crazy."

"If they claim executive privilege, politically it gives the appearance that there’s something to hide, which just amplifies all the criticism."

Said lawprof Mark J. Rozell, quoted in "Comey Expected to Testify Before Senate, if He Isn’t Blocked" (NYT).

I had a hard time making sense of this title — "How to Raise a Feminist Son" — with its subtitle.

The subtitle is "We raise our girls to fight stereotypes and pursue their dreams, but we don’t do the same for our boys" (NYT).

How is raising a boy to "fight stereotypes and pursue [his] dreams" raising him to be "feminist"? Or was the subtitle just miswritten, and they'd intended to say we don’t raise our boys to fight stereotypes that keep girls from pursuing their dreams?

But, no, they mean to put the label "feminism" on the encouragement of boys to pursue careers and do household work that haven't been associated with men.
For children to reach their full potential, they need to follow their interests, traditional or not. So let them. The idea is not to assume that all children want to do the same things, but to make sure they’re not limited.

Offer open-ended activities, like playing with blocks or clay, and encourage boys to try activities like dress-up or art class, even if they don’t seek them out, social scientists say. Call out stereotypes. (“It’s too bad that toy box shows all girls because I know boys also like to play with dollhouses.”) It could also improve the status of women. Researchers say the reason parents encourage daughters to play soccer or become doctors, but not sons to take ballet or become nurses, is that “feminine” equals lower status.
This is fairly anodyne stuff. It even ends with advice that would have looked perfectly ordinary in a women's magazine half a century ago:
Raising a son this way isn’t just about telling boys what not to do, or about erasing gender differences altogether. For instance, all male mammals engage in rough-and-tumble play, Ms. Eliot said.

So roughhouse, crack jokes, watch sports, climb trees, build campfires. Teach boys to show strength — the strength to acknowledge their emotions. Teach them to provide for their families — by caring for them. Show them how to be tough — tough enough to stand up to intolerance. Give them confidence — to pursue whatever they’re passionate about.

"Why is it okay to tell young kids being fat = ugly?"



Detail here (in the NYT):
“Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs” is a computer-animated movie in which the main character, Snow White, voiced by the actress Chloë Grace Moretz, is overweight but becomes tall and thin when she wears a pair of magical red shoes.

A billboard promoting the film at the Cannes Film Festival last month showed both versions of Snow White, with the fuller-figured one standing next to the text: “What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 Dwarfs not so short?”

On Tuesday, Tess Holliday, 31, a plus-size model, shared a photograph of the billboard with her tens of thousands of Twitter followers. “How did this get approved by an entire marketing team?” she wrote. “Why is it okay to tell young kids being fat = ugly?”
This led me to watch the trailer, which has been out since last December and which shows a much worse problem than fat shaming, a problem that has always inhered in the Snow White story:



The dwarfs are creepy peepers! Incredibly, the movie conveys their sexual enthusiasm by focusing on Snow White's strip-tease-like undressing.

Which brings out a third problem in the story. Dwarfs are portrayed as if the smallness of their body keeps their mind in childhood. They act like children. And here they are acting childish while engaging in voyeurism. Great idea for a kid's movie.

That made me think: There must be many porn movies based on Snow White. I hesitate to do searches for things like that, but I see there's a 1995 "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs" that is said to enduringly popular (with "excellent production values" and "beautiful actresses").

June 1, 2017

At the Ants-and-Peonies Café....

P1130863

... go ahead and talk about whatever you like.

(But please consider supporting this blog by doing some shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Hillary won't go away.

"I take responsibility for every decision I make — but that's not why I lost."

I'll just do a poll:

Are you enjoying this new round of Hillary in the media?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Kathy Griffin's grisly photo snapped up for use in an anti-Ossoff ad.



(Background here.)

"President Trump will announce Thursday that he will withdraw the United States from participation in the Paris climate accord...."

"... weakening global efforts to combat climate change and siding with conservatives who argued that the landmark 2015 agreement was harming the economy, officials briefed on Capitol Hill said," the NYT reports.

You can watch Trump say it right here:

"My presence here is an anomaly. My presence shows that people that look like me, that are Pakistani, that are Muslim, are here for peace. We are the sex symbol. We are the people that everybody wants to hit on."

Says Ali Mushtaq, fit to print in the New York Times in "Pakistani-American From California Blazes a Gay Leather and Fetish Trail."
By “here,” Mr. Mushtaq meant at International Mr. Leather, an annual gathering of men (and a few women) in Chicago who are into kink and leather, and culminates with the pageant-style crowning of the year’s winner....

Although he calls himself a Muslim (he studied Arabic and the Quran as a child), Mr. Mushtaq says his relationship to Islam today is “an ethnic identity as opposed to a fundamentalist religious identity.”... His Islam is not “the crazy people with the swords,” as he put it, but professionals “who consider themselves Muslim” and who “might approve of gay marriage.”

"To court a generation of M.B.A.-skeptics, business schools are creating narrowly tailored degree programs..."

The Wall Street Journal reports:
At Villanova University, students can earn a master's in church management. An M.B.A. program at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management is restricted to current and former congressional staffers. At Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, National Football League players can enroll in a program designed to help them transition to new careers. And starting next spring, students at New York University's Stern School of Business will embark on a one-year program in fashion and luxury-goods management....

As enrollment in general management programs across the U.S. declines, universities have augmented their graduate offerings with shorter, more specialized courses, ....

"In what other industry would you handle the problem of shrinking demand for your product by growing the supply?" said Andrew Ainslie, dean of the University of Rochester Simon Business School in N.Y., which offers four specialized master's programs.... 

I opened the comments because I could hear my name called.



Link.

"New York Times picks an AI moderator over a Public Editor."

That's the headline at Engadget in a piece by Andrew Tarantola about the elimination of the "Public Editor" position at the NYT. I've already said a few words — at the end of this earlier post — about this change at the NYT, but I want to continue the discussion here.

What's the "AI moderator"? The Engadget headline is very confusing since it made me think the Times had artificial intelligence that could substitute for the role the Public Editor had played, which was to monitor the journalism in the newspaper. But, reading on, I see that the AI is about culling the comments:
The NYT's commenting system is powered by Google Jigsaw's Conversation AI, a neural network that has been trained to find and flag trolling, hate speech and gratuitous shitposts in the paper's online comments sections. However, the system is currently only working on around ten percent of the sites articles. With Wednesday's announcement, the program will be expanded to nearly all of the publication's articles. "This expansion," Sulzberger Jr. wrote [in a staff memo], "marks a sea change in our ability to serve our readers."
So in addition to getting the Public Editor out of the way, the NYT is filtering out the contributions of readers who might push back against the distortions, omissions, and fake news. That's pretty interesting, considering that Sulzberger's staff memo also justified eliminating the Public Editor on the ground that readers were performing the role of keeping the NYT principled and honest.

From the memo (which appears in full at the link):
The responsibility of the public editor – to serve as the reader's representative – has outgrown that one office. Our business requires that we must all seek to hold ourselves accountable to our readers. When our audience has questions or concerns, whether about current events or our coverage decisions, we must answer them ourselves....
Wow! Did you see the sleight of hand? The public editor was "the reader's representative," but now "we... all" should answer to the readers directly. Then who is representing the readers? You have no intermediary. You have the unrepresented readers, trying to make their questions and concerns heard with no surrogate on the inside, and you're also systematically cutting them off, using automation to distance them even further.
The public editor position, created in the aftermath of a grave journalistic scandal, played a crucial part in rebuilding our readers' trusts by acting as our in-house watchdog....
So you got that taken care of? You think we trust you now? Was it all only about mopping up after the scandal, and that's far enough behind you now? What matters isn't just whether we trust you — and obviously not all of us do — but whether you are actually doing an excellent job according to the best principles of journalism. But I hear you saying, that's good enough trust for now. Or even: The public editor brought some trust but also mistrust, and when trust/mistrust balance cut the wrong way, we ended it.

Here's the pitch from Sulzberger that times have changed and the internet is all the pushback needed to keep the NYT honest and principled:
[T]oday, our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be. Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.
It's not as though the Public Editor was cutting off the flow of criticism, hording it in a single office. You speak of the "modern" world, but you're acting as though the readers' input comes in via paper mail! The Public Editor selected whatever she saw fit to focus on in a column that appeared regularly, but everybody else at the NYT could also see the criticism. If you're just saying that you lazily relied on her and looked to her to answer the complaints, then you are admitting she was not "the reader's representative," she was your representative, saving you the trouble of dealing with the critics. But now you say you want to take on the very role you seem to admit you were avoiding bothering with. Why should we believe that you will take this role seriously if you didn't care about it when you had the Public Editor?
We are dramatically expanding our commenting platform. Currently, we open only 10 percent of our articles to reader comments. Soon, we will open up most of our articles to reader comments. This expansion, made possible by a collaboration with Google, marks a sea change in our ability to serve our readers, to hear from them, and to respond to them.
I've been bothered for a long time that the NYT withholds comments on many articles that need pushback. So now they are going to have more, which is good, but it's still not all, only "most." And it's a bit deceptive to say that the expansion is made possible by Google. All Google is providing is the ability to limit the comments through some kind of automated process. They could have had comments on more or all of the articles, but they chose where to have them, and they apparently still plan to do that, even as they open up more articles to comments, which they're doing because they've built in more power to filter what people try to put up.
We will work hard to curate and respond to the thousands of daily comments....
But what will you work hard to "curate"? What is the standard of what you're keeping out? You won't be revealing that. Maybe you won't even see it. It's the robot's job.
... but comments will form just one bridge between The Times and our audience. We also, of course, engage with readers around the globe on social media, where we have tens of millions of followers. 
We'll see what that means. I'll do my part in social media. I do as much as I can. Who does more?!

We're given the names of 2 editors who will have a special responsibility. Phil Corbett leads a team that "listens and responds to reader concerns and investigates requests for corrections." And  Hanna Ingber will work "to make our report ever more transparent and our journalists more responsive." This seems to be internal work that is not itself transparent. there's no more Public Editor column pointing out problems like lack of transparency, but Corbett and Ingber might make the paper "ever more transparent." How will we know?

"Mr. Met has only 3 fingers and a thumb on each hand but the gesture was unmistakeable."

Ha. That happened last night as the Brewers crushed the Mets.

I'd just like to say that when you have only 3 fingers, it's easier to tell which is the middle finger.

The NYT sees Vladimir Putin "shifting away," but I don't.

The just-up news story begins:
Shifting away from his previous blanket denials of Russian involvement in cyberattacks last year to help the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia denied any state role on Thursday but said that “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved.
What's the shift? All he did was acknowledge the possibility that private actors might have been involved. He's still saying the Russian government did nothing. How could he ever have purported to know what every person in Russia was doing, outside of the government? I think it would be hard for a leader even to know what everyone in the government is doing — does Trump know what every employee of the federal government is doing, what's going on in the "deep state"? — but it's patently impossible to know what every private person is doing. It was necessarily always implicit that he didn't know what private Russian hackers might be doing.

Two things are interesting.

First, Putin is asserting that he doesn't know that there were private Russian hackers doing anything. Maybe he does know but he's disclaiming knowledge.

Second, he's approving of what these people — if they exist — did, because he's calling them "patriotically minded." Or... that's only the first paragraph of the news story, which I've already shown I find misleading. Let's get down to more detailed paragraphs:
Raising the possibility of attacks by what he portrayed as free-spirited Russian patriots, Mr. Putin said that hackers “are like artists” who choose their targets depending how they feel “when they wake up in the morning.”

“If they are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia,” he added.
That's not saying it would be patriotic of private hackers to interfere in the American election! He's talking — and I'm trusting this translation and cherry-picking — about the motives of hackers in general, saying they operate according to their own whims. Putin distances himself from these people. They do what they like, but they might choose to do things that are good for their country. The example he gives is not affecting a foreign country's elections. He speaks only of defending against speech that is disparaging to Russia.

The headline of this story is "Vladimir Putin Hints at Russian Role in Hacking of U.S. Election." I see no hint here at all. I'm calling "fake news" on this.

By the way, The New York Times just revealed that it is ending the position of "public editor":
"The responsibility of the public editor ― to serve as the reader’s representative ― has outgrown that one office,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote in a memo to staff. “There is nothing more important to our mission, or our business, than strengthening our connection with our readers. A relationship that fundamental cannot be outsourced to a single intermediary.”...

Internal complaints about [Liz Spayd, the paper's sixth public editor,] had been rumbling for months. Though all public editors are, to a certain degree, unpopular within their own newsrooms, the disapproval with Spayd was particularly pronounced.

Times editor Dean Baquet called her piece on the paper's coverage of Trump and Russia "a bad column."
I enjoyed Baquet's use of the word "bad" — "a bad column" — so soon after reading Putin's "those who say bad things about Russia." It's so primitive, so elemental. Baquet fights against those who say bad things about The New York Times.

I've got to step up my monitoring of the NYT now that it's not relying on "a single intermediary" anymore. Baquet has triggered heightened scrutiny on "the paper's coverage of Trump and Russia."

You know, I've been working as an intermediary between you and the NYT every day, nonstop, for 13 years.

Anomaly at the Brat Fest.

"Series of fights Saturday causes Brat Fest carnival to shutter early in 'anomaly' incident."

That was here in Madison, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, at the Jersey Shore: A "wild brawl erupted near the iconic Lucy the Elephant attraction in Margate on Saturday."


"Lucy" photo by Robert Brizel.

ADDED: "Amid continuing incidents of gunfire, including a home invasion Tuesday in which a Madison man was killed, the city is still struggling with how to partner with local nonprofits to create a 'rapid response' to gun violence aimed at providing immediate help to victims and their families and preventing further shootings...."
“We’re dealing with chronic stress and chronic trauma in our community,” said Jerome Dillard, director of re-entry services for Focused Interruption and state director of EXPO, Ex-Prisoners Organizing. “We need to get boots on the ground to get the outreach we need to get these lives on track. Many of our young people don’t see themselves as being part of America.”...

“We do have a plan,” Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes said, noting that the mayor’s 11-member rapid response team of city, Dane County and nonprofit representatives that has been shaping the initiatives will continue to meet regularly.... “It’s unfortunate we have community members and leaders who refuse to look at the bigger picture... It became about the Boys & Girls Club. It became about who was going to get funded and not get funded. It’s very unfortunate.”

"The bigger picture is that the country is living two movies at the same time, and Griffin was acting 'normal' in one of them."

Writes Scott Adams.

May 31, 2017

How to photograph a celebrity.

From "Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)," the new David Sedaris book, this entry from May 5, 1994:
As part of the publicity I’m doing for the book (Barrel Fever), I was interviewed and photographed for Avenue magazine. The talking part I’m fine with, but I hate having my picture taken. First the photographer had me pose with Dennis (my cat) while wearing a cat mask. Then she had me pretend to hang from the antlers in the living room. Next I was told to close the louvered doors on my neck and then to hold my freeze-dried turkey head up to my nose. Just as she was running out of film, the photographer said, “Can we try something silly?”
That made me remember I wanted to promote this book Chris Buck sent me, "Uneasy: Portraits 1986-2016." It has 338 photographs of celebrities — including one of David Sedaris (that's not from 1994) — often photographed in some odd, quirky way.

For example, there's Billy Joel sitting on the end of a bed holding one of those theater "applause" signs, there are separate photos of Moby and Ike Turner doing that old little boy's trick of positioning a finger to make it look like his naked penis, there's Margaret Atwood pushing the side of her face and outspread hands against a screen door (photographed from the other side of the door), Casey Affleck lying on a table pushed into the corner of a gaudily wallpapered room, Russ Meyer burying his face in cake shaped like 2 breasts, Philip Seymour Hoffman half-hiding behind underpants hung on a clothesline, and George McGovern wearing just a Speedo and (apparently) doing the twist. Much more!

I recommend it highly, having looked at all the pictures and admired the great variety and the gameness of the celebrities. Since they are mostly not actors and models but writers, musicians, and politicians, people who haven't spent their lives figuring out how to look interesting, it takes some ingenuity: Where can you put them, what can you say to them to try to get a photograph that will affect us in a way that has something to do with who this person is?

The perfect walk.

P1130835

"Wisconsin" is a lot harder to spell than "banana."

You may think it's funny that — of all the states — Wisconsin is the one whose name is the most-searched-for word spelling by the people who live there. But the most-search-for spelling in New Mexico is "banana."

That conversation about Kathy Griffin.

Just now. That's Chris on the left in gray. I'm on the right in blue:

"But for the first time, the Beatles have given us an album of special effects, dazzling but ultimately fraudulent."

"And for the first time, it is not exploration which we sense, but consolidation. There is a touch of the Jefferson Airplane, a dab of Beach Boys vibrations, and a generous pat of gymnastics from The Who.... With one important exception, 'Sergeant Pepper' is precious but devoid of gems. 'A Day in the Life' is such a radical departure from the spirit of the album that it almost deserves its peninsular position (following the reprise of the 'Sergeant Pepper' theme, it comes almost as an afterthought). It has nothing to do with posturing or put-on. It is a deadly earnest excursion in emotive music with a chilling lyric.... What a shame that 'A Day in the Life' is only a coda to an otherwise undistinguished collection of work. We need the Beatles, not as cloistered composers, but as companions. And they need us. In substituting the studio conservatory for an audience, they have ceased being folk artists, and the change is what makes their new, album a monologue."

From the NYT pan of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," released 50 years ago tomorrow.

The pan is from 50 years ago, but here's Jon Pareles today in the NYT, with "The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ at 50: Still Full of Joy and Whimsy."
“Sgt. Pepper” was not universally adored when it appeared. The New York Times panned it, not entirely incorrectly, as “busy, hip and cluttered.” As pop tastes have swung between elaborate musical edifices and back-to-basics reactions, “Sgt. Pepper” has been by turns embraced, reviled and simply ignored.

But now that rock itself is being shunted toward the fringes of pop, it’s a good time to free “Sgt. Pepper” from the burden of either forecasting rock’s eclectic future or pointing toward a fussy dead end. It doesn’t have to be “the most important rock & roll album ever made,” as Rolling Stone declared in 2012, or some wrongheaded counter-revolutionary coup against “real” rock ’n’ roll. It’s somewhere in between, juxtaposing the profound and the merely clever....

Yeah, we tease him a lot cause we've got him on the spot, welcome back...

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back....

"Dear Virgie, I am an elementary school teacher. Recently, there has been some teasing around weight that happened in my classroom."

"My co-teachers and I really want to introduce the idea of body positivity and body diversity to the class. My students are 10 and 11 years old. I was wondering if you had any activities or ideas for opening up this discussion at this age level."

Virgie — at Wear Your Voice/Intersectional Feminist Media — responds with a 5-point list
, but I was disappointed that none of them were actual "activities." Maybe you can help me think of some kind of classroom role-playing or game that would work in a classroom of 10 & 11 year olds.

Covfefe.



Have you followed the "covfefe" kerfuffle?

More here (at the NYT).

Personally, I find it easy to decipher the typo. Trump tweeted: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe." That much-pondered tweet is now gone, I think, but he now has: "Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!"

Well, I can. He meant to write "Despite the constant negative press coverage." It still needs more work, being an introductory clause with no payoff, but "covfefe" is "coverage." And "covfefe" is comedy. I'm not going to say it was comic genius to type it, but it's pretty interestingly comical not to explain it and to run with it and encourage us to "Enjoy!" like he's serving up a big plate of tasty food....

"Trump family sources tell us Barron was in front of the TV watching a show when the news came on and he saw the bloody, beheaded image."

"We're told he panicked and screamed, 'Mommy, Mommy!' As it was put to us, 'He's 11. He doesn't know who Kathy Griffin is and the head she was holding resembled his dad.'"

Reports TMZ.

Do I need to look to see if any Trump antagonists have succumbed to the opportunity to attack Barron?

Charging fearless bull girl dog pissing.

The actual sculptor of "Charging Bull" expressed his outrage at the "Fearless Girl"'s impinging on the space his bull needs to mean what he intends the bull to mean, and he (Arturo Di Modia) has chosen the litigation route. We talked about that here.

But there another path, one that free-speech advocate love: More speech.

So here comes another sculptor Alex Gardega adding another sculpture to the Bull + Girl set. He's installed "Pissing Pug" at the girl's feet:
“I decided to build this dog and make it crappy to downgrade the statue, exactly how the girl is a downgrade on the bull,” said Gardega....
He made it crappy and pissing, but it's not crapping. It's only pissing. It's "crappy" in that it's crudely made.



Gardega quote in the video: "I wanted it to be very lo-fi punk rock, so it would be a step down... The girl, in my mind, is a step down from the bull, and I wanted it to be a step down."

"Free speech or die, Portland. You got no safe place. This is America, get out if you don’t like free speech."

"Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom.... You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.”

Those are 2 statements by Jeremy Christian, from his appearance in the courtroom as he was arraigned after the murders on the MAX Green Line train in Portland. I read those statements first "in the NYT, which uses the verb "shouted" and a photograph of Christian with his mouth wide open to convey the tone of his speech. I was unsatisfied with the NYT because it shifted to the subject of Mayor Tom Wheeler's rejection of permits for "alt-right" events in Portland.

Looking for more detail about the arraignment, I switched to The Washington Post, which has video of Christian making the above-quoted statements. The video makes a different impression:


I was surprised how scripted Christian sounded, as if he were delivering a memorized speech. I also heard an additional sentence, after "Leave this country if you hate our freedom": "Death to Antifa." I'd been inclined to think of Christian as a ranting lunatic, but the delivery of these lines makes him seem more controlled in his structure of beliefs — not that the beliefs are cogent.

Christian leaps from the love of freedom of speech to a sentence of death to those who don't like freedom of speech. "Free speech or die" seems like a variation on "Live free or die," but you have to misunderstand "Live free or die," which is supposed to express willingness to die for the cause of freedom, not a desire for other people to drop dead if they don't value freedom above everything else.

Perhaps it's disgusting to analyze the words of a person who has done something so evil, but Christian's words are being quoted and used. He's not being hidden away and denied a voice, so it's not as if I can close the door and say don't listen to the rants of a madman.

He's being quoted and used as a jumping off point for things people want to say, and what's particularly irritating — aside from the rank sensationalism of bloody murder — is the blithe assumption that Christian's agenda is racism. You can see that the arraignment quotes have no racist content at all. The statements from the murder scene (and in a recording made of him on a train on an earlier occasion) were anti-religion (and not just anti-Muslim). Where's the racism?

The WaPo article proceeds to talk about the "long and violent history of white supremacist and other racist activities" in the Pacific Northwest. It gives us a quote from a professor of urban studies at Portland State University, Karen Gibson: “The idea that Portland is so liberal supersedes this dark, hidden secret about racism.” Maybe so, but the article never establishes that Christian is a racist.

WaPo drags in Donald Trump:
Some residents said President Donald Trump has caused those racist demons to stir again....

“I don’t have that feeling like it can’t happen here — the way people talk about Portland — because we’ve got racism. We’ve got all kinds of things,” said Murr Brewster, who came to see a memorial at the city’s transit center. “It’s everywhere and the trouble is, it’s getting more and more prevalent.”
Primed, we hear next about Mayor Wheeler's effort to stop the planned rally, which, we're told, is billed on Facebook as "a Trump Free Speech Rally." Then this paragraph galumphs in:
Christian attended a similar rally in late April wearing an American flag around his neck and carrying a baseball bat. Police confiscated the bat, and he was then caught on camera clashing with counter-protesters.
That might put him on the pro-Trump side. But where's the racism? Was he armed with a bat because he wanted to fight the counter-protesters? That fits with "Leave this country if you hate our freedom. Death to Antifa."

Elsewhere, I'm seeing assertions that Christian was actually for Bernie Sanders. And here's a piece in The Oregonian, premised on a deep read of Christian's Facebook page: "His posts reveal a comic book collector with nebulous political affiliations who above all else seemed to hate circumcision and Hillary Clinton." And:
The question of whether Christian was a Trump supporter or a Sanders supporter, doesn't have an either/or answer, except: he definitely was not a Clinton supporter.

"Bernie Sanders was the President I wanted," wrote Christian in December. "He voiced my heart and mind. The one who spoke about the way America should gone. Away from the Military and Prison Industrial Complexes. The Trump is who America needs now that Bernie got ripped off."

But on Nov. 11, he posted that he was unable to bring himself to vote for Trump.

"I've had it!!! I gonna kill everybody who voted for Trump or Hillary!!!" he said in another post in early January. "It's all your fault!!! You're what's wrong with this country!!! Reveal yourselves immediately and face your DOOM!!!"
I'd say that sounds like a Bernie Sanders supporter. After Sanders dropped out and endorsed Hillary, he had nowhere to go. I don't know why white supremacists are getting blamed for Christian's insanely murderous rage. It would make more sense to blame the those who've been inflaming anger on the far left.

But back to the NYT, where this post began, because after reading The Washington Post, I did see more reason in the shift from what Christian said at the arraignment to Tom Wheeler's rejection of pro-free-speech rallies. Christian made free speech sound like an ugly, evil cause related to murder. Now, you should see that the violence Wheeler uses to justify repressing a free-speech rally is violence from those who oppose the rally, the counter-protesters. But Christian's extolling of free speech may obscure that. His jumbled, awful remarks at the arraignment are useful to anyone who would like to shape our brains to think: Free speech = Violence. And: To suppress speech is to suppress violence.

And who doesn't wish that the police could have arrested Jeremy Christian when they had him speaking and carrying a baseball bat at a rally?

"Two Kurdish German men accused of helping to kill their sister in 2005 because of her Western lifestyle were acquitted Tuesday in a Turkish court...."

The NYT reports (in an article by Patrick Kingsley).
A child of Turkish-Kurdish immigrants, Ms. Surucu was brought up in Germany before her father pulled her out of school and sent her back to her family’s ancestral village in Turkey, where at 16 she was forced to marry a cousin, according to German news reports.

After the marriage ended in divorce, she returned to Berlin and gave birth to a son, Can, but soon left her parents’ home to live as a single mother.

Prosecutors said that her conservative and religious brothers felt dishonored after she began refusing to wear a head scarf and started dating a German man. A German judge described the attack by Ayhan Surucu as “an ice-cold, execution-style murder.”...

A German court jailed Mr. Surucu in 2006, but acquitted Mutlu and Alparslan Surucu of involvement. A German appeals court later overturned the elder brothers’ acquittal, partly because of the testimony of Ayhan’s ex-girlfriend, who said they had helped him plan the murder.
I would like to see a more detailed explanation of the German court's opinion. The brother who shot the gun was convicted and imprisoned, and his ex-girlfriend implicated the other 2 brothers. I'm guessing her testimony was deemed unreliable hearsay and a violation of due process. [ADDED: Wait. I'm misreading this. I'm not used to seeing an appeal from an acquittal. The appeals court overturned the acquittal, so it seems that the trial court excluded the ex-girlfriend's testimony, and the appeals court said it could be used.]
But the two brothers were able to leave for Turkey, where they lived freely for several years.

In a German documentary released in 2011, Mutlu Surucu said his sister’s “lifestyle change” justified her murder. “Why does a woman need to dress up so prettily?” he reportedly asked. “Why does she need to go out on the town? To attract men.”
It troubles me to see a quote of the questions about the sister's behavior but not for the idea that Mutlu Surucu "justified her murder." To express understanding of the killer's motivation is not to be an accomplice to the murder.

These honor killings are horrible, but they shouldn't undermine our commitment to the rights of the accused.

I'm just trying to understand the article as printed in the NYT. I have to read between the lines, but I'm assuming the brothers were not retried in Germany because there wasn't enough evidence once the testimony of the ex-girlfriend was excluded. That's why they were able to leave Germany and "lived freely" in Turkey. [ADDED: I'm wrong here. We don't have an answer to why Germany didn't do a new trial. Perhaps the ex-girlfriend's testimony was not that promising.]

Why did Turkey prosecute them? Was it because of the documentary? Was Mutlu Surucu prosecuted because he expressed an offensive opinion about women dressing prettily and going out on the town?

The NYT article, at first glance, looks sober, but it's actually — in a low-key way — sensationalistic. And it shows the unfortunate tendency to disregard the rights of the criminally accused whenever it's too much trouble or a distraction from the attitude chosen for the article. [ADDED: My criticism of the NYT was based on my misreading of what the German court's did, so I'll say it's too strong. But I would like more detailed reporting on what courts have done and consistent regard — even when you hate the crime — for the rights of the criminally accused.]

May 30, 2017

Clematis.

P1130801

"A transgender student’s presence in the restroom provides no more of a risk to other students’ privacy rights than the presence of an overly curious student of the same biological sex..."

"... who decides to sneak glances at his or her classmates performing their bodily functions. Or for that matter, any other student who uses the bathroom at the same time. Common sense tells us that the communal restroom is a place where individuals act in a discreet manner to protect their privacy and those who have true privacy concerns are able to utilize a stall. Nothing in the record suggests that the bathrooms at Tremper High School are particularly susceptible to an intrusion upon an individual’s privacy. Further, if the School District’s concern is that a child will be in the bathroom with another child who does not look anatomically the same, then it would seem that separate bathrooms also would be appropriate for pre-pubescent and post-pubescent children who do not look alike anatomically. But the School District has not drawn this line. Therefore, this court agrees with the district court that the School District’s privacy arguments are insufficient to establish an exceedingly persuasive justification for the classification."

From the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District, which affirmed the grant of a preliminary injunction to a Wisconsin transgender student wanting seeking access to the bathroom of choice. (For a shorter read, here's a Slate article about the case.)

So... this happened.


ADDED: Last month there was a controversy about a University of Alaska Anchorage professor's painting of a Captain America holding up the severed head of Donald Trump.

The holding up of a severed head is a traditional theme in Western art. There's Perseus with the head of Medusa...



... and Judith with the head of Holofernes:

"How the Self-Esteem Craze Took Over America."

By Jesse Singal in New York Magazine. Excerpt.
The self-esteem craze changed how countless organizations were run, how an entire generation — millen[n]ials — was educated, and how that generation went on to perceive itself (quite favorably). As it turned out, the central claim underlying the trend, that there’s a causal relationship between self-esteem and various positive outcomes, was almost certainly inaccurate. But that didn’t matter: For millions of people, this was just too good and satisfying a story to check, and that’s part of the reason the national focus on self-esteem never fully abated. Many people still believe that fostering a sense of self-esteem is just about the most important thing one can do, mental health–wise....

Another day at The Peony Café...

P1130800

... where you can get a closer look at anything you like.

And consider shopping via The Althouse Amazon Portal. I know what I'm buying today: "Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)," by David Sedaris. Just out today! I buy the Kindle version and the audio book (even though Amazon isn't offering the cheap add-on "Whispersync" after I've bought the Kindle text). There is no better reader of his own books than David Sedaris. I've listened to all of his books many, many times and am always glad to get another one, whatever he sees fit to serve up to us.

"Portland mayor asks feds to bar free-speech and anti-sharia rallies after stabbings."

That's the hard-to-believe headline at The Washington Post.

Quite aside from the mind-crushingly unAmerican idea of banning free speech about free speech, why is the federal government involved?
The federal government controls permitting for the plaza where both rallies are set to take place. The city of Portland will not issue any of its own permits allowing organizers to hold the events elsewhere, [Mayor Ted] Wheeler said.
The organizer of what is called the “Trump Free Speech Rally,” Joey Gibson, said: “There’s going to be more intensity, there’s going to be more threats. They’re using the deaths of these two people and Jeremy Christian — they’re using it to get Portland all rowdy about our June 4 rally and it’s absolutely disgusting.”

The ACLU — it's still true! — supports free speech:
“It may be tempting to shut down speech we disagree with, but once we allow the government to decide what we can say, see, or hear, or who we can gather with, history shows us that the most marginalized will be disproportionately censored and punished for unpopular speech. If we allow the government to shut down speech for some, we all will pay the price down the line.” 
WaPo found a Portland State University professor, a "longtime activist" named Tom Hastings to reject the ACLU position: “I know these lines are perceived as pretty fuzzy when we’re dealing with constitutional First Amendment rights. But there’s no long fuse anymore. Everybody’s fuse seems to be quite short.” What?! Things are "fuzzy" and "fuses" are deemed short, and that's enough to throw out the free-speech tradition?!

WaPo tells us that Portland has a problem with "anarchists" getting violent at "peaceful anti-Trump demonstrations."
In April, Portland’s typically family-friendly rose parade was canceled after antifa activists threatened to shut down roads if a Republican group wasn’t barred from the event. And earlier this month, dozens of “black bloc” anarchists destroyed property at May Day protests.
So violence gets its way? What a twisted response to the horrible murders!

"David Benscoter honed his craft as an investigator for the F.B.I. and the United States Treasury, cornering corrupt politicians and tax evaders."

"The lost apple trees that he hunts down now are really not so different. People and things, he said, tend to hide in plain sight if you know how and where to look. 'It’s like a crime scene,' Mr. Benscoter, 62, said as he hiked down a slope toward a long-abandoned apple orchard planted in the late 1800s.'You have to establish that the trees existed, and hope that there’s a paper trail to follow.' About two-thirds of the $4 billion apple industry is now concentrated in Washington State — and 15 varieties, led by the Red Delicious, account for about 90 percent of the market. But the past looked, and tasted, much different: An estimated 17,000 varieties were grown in North America over the centuries, and about 13,000 are lost."

From "Hunting Down the Lost Apples of the Pacific Northwest" (in the NYT).

"Saying you’re going to be a bloody difficult woman right at the start of the negotiations..."

"... tends to make sure you do get a bad deal rather than working with partners across Europe. Theresa May has made us look like ogres across Europe. We’re a laughing stock."

"Saying you’re going to be a bloody difficult woman" — It sounds like the sort of thing feminists in America would celebrate. It's a giant step — an ogre step — beyond "She persisted." I mean, I know that sort of thing doesn't work when the woman is on the conservative side, but it's funny to think about how these insults can be flipped and how they would be flipped if a conservative were criticizing a liberal.

In other Theresa May news, the Telegraph has an entire article about how you can tell a man in the audience listening to Theresa May speak is mouthing the word "bollocks." If May were liberal, it would be possible to denounce the man as a despicable sexist.

"As tensions continue in Portland following the racially charged murder of two men on Friday..."

"... the top Republican in the city said he is considering using militia groups as security for public events."
“I am sort of evolving to the point where I think that it is appropriate for Republicans to continue to go out there,” [said Multnomah County GOP chair James Buchal]. “And if they need to have a security force protecting them, that’s an appropriate thing too.”...

The main reason Buchal gave for his attraction to the militia groups was the cancellation of the Avenue of the Roses Parade, an annual Portland community event scheduled for 29 April, after organisers received an anonymously emailed threat of disruption. The anonymous message claimed “Trump supporters and 3% militia” were encouraging people to “bring hateful rhetoric” to East Portland. “Two hundred or more people”, the email said, would “rush into the middle and drag and push those people out”.

When the parade was called off, Buchal issued a statement in which he bemoaned a “criminal conspiracy to commit crimes of riot” and a letter to Mayor Wheeler in which he lamented “rising lawlessness” in Portland....

"Then on Dec. 16, 1989, Panamanian troops shot and killed an unarmed American soldier in Panama City, wounded another and arrested and beat a third soldier whose wife they threatened with sexual assault."

"'That was enough,' President George Bush said in announcing the invasion, which included more than 27,000 troops. A White House statement as the invasion got underway said the United States had acted 'to protect American lives, restore the democratic process, preserve the integrity of the Panama Canal treaties and apprehend Manuel Noriega.' Political commentators at the time assigned other motives, including a way for Mr. Bush to shake off perceptions of weakness; his poll numbers rose significantly after the invasion.... Panamanian forces were quickly overwhelmed as Mr. Noriega escaped into hiding, surfacing days later on Dec. 24 at the Vatican Embassy in Panama City.... American troops descended on the embassy, and a standoff followed. For a time, American forces blasted heavy metal music (including Van Halen’s 'Panama') to torment Mr. Noriega and prevent reporters with directional microphones from hearing conversations between military and Vatican officials. He surrendered on Jan. 3, 1990...."

From the NYT obituary for Manuel Noriega, who has died at the age of 83, after all these years in prison.

"From the sex addict to the vicar, men open up about their manhood — every penis tells a story."

"Me and my penis: 100 men reveal all," in the Guardian, where if you scroll past the first screen you will be confronted with 100 small photographs of waist-to-knee male nakedness. It's tasteful in the sense that we're channeled into viewing these things in a clinical, critical way. These are photographs by from a book by Laura Dodsworth. (Here's her book, "Manhood.")
Does Dodsworth remember her subjects by their penis or by their face? “Face,” she says instantly. “The photographs took only about 10 seconds, then I spent 30 to 60 minutes interviewing them...."...

Did the project make her think differently about men? “Yes, there was a feeling of falling in love with men. It was really lovely.”...

What surprised her most? “A lot more men feel a sense of shame or anxiety about their size, or an aspect of their performance, than I would have thought. What really moved me is how much that shame and inadequacy had bled into different parts of their life.” She says many were teased as children about their penis and never recovered from it....

"Someone attempted to move Christian away from the girls he was verbally harassing with a slight push or shove."

"'Touch me again, or I'm going to kill you,' Macy heard Christian respond. Namkai-Meche was holding up his phone, Macy said. She wasn't sure if Namkai-Meche was trying to show Christian something on the phone or was recording the interaction. Suddenly, Christian hit the phone away and stabbed Namkai-Meche in the neck, she said. 'It was just a swift, hard hit,' she said. 'It was a nightmare.'"

A witness, Rachel May, describes what she saw on the MAX Green Line train in Portland.

It made me think of what James Hamblin wrote in The Atlantic, in response to the Gianforte/Jacobs "body-slamming" incident: "
"The visceral instinct to physically attack a person who has just attacked you is strong; the surge of adrenal hormones makes it feel possible and necessary. That circuitry is increasingly vestigial, but overriding it and playing the longer game requires an active decision...."
Hamblin was praising Jacobs for not reacting to a shove with violence. The ground for the praise was that it's so hard to override the bodily urge to hit back. As Rachel May tells it, Jeremy Christian — who'd been using words (very offensive words) — received a "slight push or shove" and managed to restrict himself to words (a dire warning, "Touch me again, or I'm going to kill you"). He was working on the difficult override of what Hamblin called "the surge of adrenal hormones" that makes physical retaliation "feel possible and necessary." And what came next, the trigger Christian didn't override, was the phone in the face, presumably Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche's effort to get the paranoid/racist's awful behavior on video to show the world.

Also at the link, May's touching story of helping and praying for Namkai-Meche as he died of Christian's attack. She gave him the shirt of her back, literally. Namkai-Meche's last words to her were: "Tell everyone on this train I love them."

May 29, 2017

I'm averting my eyes from the mugshot.

I feel some respect for the man's privacy, and it's painful to see him exposed and brought low like that, a human icon of our time.

At the Peony Café...

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... you can talk about anything you like.

(And please consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me."

"Because they didn't even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look."

"I’ll watch ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ with you if you’ll watch Sean Hannity with me."

Caption on The New Yorker's "Cartoon of the Day."

I think you can see that without a subscription, but if not, it's just a man and a woman sitting side by side on a sofa, looking forward at the TV. The woman has the remote control and is vaguely smiling. The man has his mouth open, signifying that he's the one delivering the remark we're to see as a zinger.

It's funny because:
 
pollcode.com free polls

"Here on land, the seasteaders propose, ideas about how to govern societies have stagnated. Politics is too entrenched..."

"... societal change comes slowly, if at all.... Seasteads would upset [the] dynamic, since each floating city would be small enough and modular enough that individuals could come and go freely, shopping for governments and social structures. If residents didn’t like one utopia, they could simply sail off to a new one.... [T]he Seasteading Institute makes clear that it will not be operating the cities itself. The particulars of each seastead’s political system should be determined by its inhabitants—or an oligarch, if that’s the way it turns out. 'Any set of rules is OK,' the organization’s FAQ page emphasizes, 'as long as the residents consent to it voluntarily and can leave whenever they choose.'"

From "Libertarians Seek a Home on the High Seas/The unlikely rise—and anti-democratic impulses—of seasteading," by Rachel Riederer in The New Republic, who observes that the seasteads represent "a very particular set of politics," politics based on the free market," and:
When [government] works, it protects the vulnerable and guards the commons—essential tasks at which the free market so often fails. Ocean dwellers will also need those protections. Much as we might like to, we can’t escape the political, even by walking into the sea.

Memorial Day.

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"Trump is not an atheist, confident yet humble in the search for a God-free morality. He is not an agnostic..."

"... genuinely doubtful as to the meaning of existence but always open to revelation should it arrive. He is not even a wayward Christian, as he sometimes claims to be, beset by doubt and failing to live up to ideals he nonetheless holds. The ideals he holds are, in fact, the antithesis of Christianity — and his life proves it. He is neither religious nor irreligious. He is pre-religious. He is a pagan. He makes much more sense as a character in Game of Thrones, a medieval world bereft of the legacy of Jesus of Nazareth, than as a president of a modern, Western country...."

Okay, that's where I draw the line, Andrew Sullivan. Imagine what you like about the interior of Donald Trump's soulknock body-slam yourself out — but I've had it with opinion pieces that assume familiarity with Game of Thrones. I don't watch it, and less than 10% of Americans watch it. I don't really mind being confronted with pop culture references I don't get. Why, only yesterday, I got stuck on a pop culture name I didn't remember seeing before, and I looked it up, watched a video, was a little offended but also amused and entertained, and I made the post better with a quote and a link. But Game of Thrones comes up again and again. It's dull, always the same reference. I gather that it has to do with vicious, hard core politics — killing your rivals? — and I'm picturing seething Trump haters staring at it, muttering: Trump!!! 

But one more thing: Pagans are pre-religious? That's awfully ethnocentric and arrogant. From  Owen Davies, "Paganism: A Very Short Introduction" (at Wikipedia):
It is crucial to stress right from the start that until the 20th century people did not call themselves pagans to describe the religion they practised. The notion of paganism, as it is generally understood today, was created by the early Christian Church. It was a label that Christians applied to others, one of the antitheses that were central to the process of Christian self-definition. As such, throughout history it was generally used in a derogatory sense.
So otherizing, Andrew. Bereft of the legacy of Jesus... that's how you accept insulting people these days? I stopped reading.

Kittens.

"For the first time since 1973, panther kittens were spotted north of the Caloosahatchee River, which had formed the northern boundary of the panther’s habitat. In March, a pair of panther kittens tripped an automatic wildlife camera in the Babcock Ranch Preserve, a forested expanse thirty-five miles west of Lake Okeechobee. That means that a female panther swam across the Caloosahatchee and recently mated with a male panther on the other side. (Male panthers, which are larger and have a bigger range than females, have been spotted north of the Caloosahatchee River for many years.) The news cheered scientists and state environmental officials, who have been trying to coax a female panther across the Caloosahatchee for more than two decades."

From "The Return of the Florida Panther," by Dexter Filkins (in The New Yorker).

Some feminist logic.

After quoting something I said about body-slamgate, Instapundit says: "But personally, I’m now sufficiently woke to praise Gianforte for body-slamming rapist Ben Jacobs":



And: "Thanks to male feminist Jordan Hoffman for enlightening me."

Note: Hoffman's post is about the exclusion of men from a movie theater's showing of "Wonder Woman" (which is the topic of my last 2 posts).

"Strange to see Althouse on-board with AnCaps/libertarians about the right of businesses to discriminate as much as they like."

Writes James in the comments to yesterday's post about the female-only showings of "Wonder Woman," which I'd discussed in terms of PR for a movie I find mind-crushingly boring. I'd quoted a writer at Wear Your Voice/Intersectional Feminist Media who made hyperbolic fun of the "cishet men" who are acting (feeling?) outraged over the exclusion.

In blogging the controversy, I quite consciously chose to ignore the legal issue. Not everything has to be approached from a legal perspective. There are many paths into a subject, and opting for law talk can foreclose other interesting insights. Teaching law school classes, I would often begin a discussion of a case with the question whether we (or anybody) should want a particular matter controlled by a legal restriction, monitored by the government. It can be more enlightening to open up that inquiry before you get to a discussion of whether what was done in fact violated a statute and whether a constitutional right trumps the statute. It can help you think about how broadly to interpret that statute and that constitutional right.

I didn't want to talk about the law yet. Other bloggers have announced flatly that what the theaters are doing is against the law, and I acknowledge that those laws exist and should be taken seriously. The theaters are exposing themselves to legal proceedings. I can see some plausible defenses. We could talk about freedom of association cases like Boy Scouts v. Dale. This isn't like a restaurant wanting to exclude a particular type of person. The exclusion has to do with the expression of ideas. But I'm not the movie theater's lawyer, and I haven't worked out the argument. 

In any case, there's a such thing as civil disobedience. I don't know if the freedom of women to assemble in a public space and watch a super-hero movie without men in the room is the sort of thing that's worth risking the consequences that are part of civil disobedience, but it's one way to behave in this world and sometimes good things ensue. For example — to get back to the aspect of the controversy I forefronted — PR.

Anyway, thanks for the challenge, James. I had to look up "AnCaps."
Anarcho-capitalists hold that, in the absence of statute (law by centralized decrees and legislation), society tends to contractually self-regulate and civilize through the discipline of the free market (in what its proponents describe as a "voluntary society").
You know, I'm not the type.