April 26, 2018

At the Dichotomy Café...


... you can find your way around.



The photos, including the one of the wall card, are from the "Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Austin’" exhibit at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin.

And here's the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Cosby guilty.

What is that guy-reading-a-newspaper painting in that photo of Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron at the National Gallery of Art?

It's "The Artist's Father, Reading 'L'Événement'" (1866) by Paul Paul Cézanne:
In The Artist's Father Cézanne explored his emotionally charged relationship with his banker father. Tension is particularly evident in the energetic, expressive paint handling, an exaggeration of Courbet's palette knife technique. The unyielding figure of Louis-Auguste Cézanne, the newspaper he is reading, his chair, and the room are described with obtrusively thick slabs of pigment. The Artist's Father can be interpreted as an assertion of Cézanne's independence. 
Ah! Just like Melania asserting her independence from the unyielding figure of Donald J. Trump!

Looks a little like Trump, too, don't you think? Trump or Marlon Brando.

By the way, and a propos of the first post of the day, did you know that Marlon Brando was the Coen brothers' first choice to play the big Lebowski (that is, the rich old guy) in "The Big Lebowski"? (Others on their list: Robert Duvall, Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Norman Mailer, George C. Scott, Jerry Falwell, Gore Vidal, Andy Griffith, William F. Buckley, and Ernest Borgnine. In the end, David Huddleston got the role.)

Trump motormouthing on "Fox and Friends" this morning.

My notes, jotted down in real time, listening to this after posting the video:

"Some self-identified incels... have developed an elaborate sociopolitical explanation for their sexual failures, one that centers on the idea that women are shallow, vicious, and only attracted to hyper-muscular men."

"They see this as a profound injustice against men like them, who suffer an inherent genetic disadvantage through no fault of their own. A small radical fringe believes that violence, especially against women, is an appropriate response — that an 'Incel Rebellion' or 'Beta [Male] Uprising' will eventually overturn the sexual status quo.... These incels post obsessively about so-called 'Chads,' meaning sexually successful and attractive men, and 'Stacys,' attractive, promiscuous women who sleep with the Chads. Both are positioned as unattainable: The Chad is the masculine ideal, one incel men cannot emulate for reasons of poor genetics, while the Stacy is whom every incel man wants to sleep with but cannot because they aren’t a Chad. It’s this embrace of helplessness, of their certainty of their own sexual doom, that makes the more extreme incel communities so dangerous... They see the world through the lens of entitlement: They are owed sex but cannot have it because women are shallow. This manifests in a deep and profound hatred for women as a group.... They see themselves as a class, oppressed by a social system that’s rigged in favor of other men. One post on an incel subreddit compared their worldview to Marxism, with incels playing the part of the proletariat and Chad the bourgeoisie...."

From "Incel, the misogynist ideology that inspired the deadly Toronto attack, explained" (Vox).

"On Tuesday night, the comedian Patton Oswalt was in Chicago at an event to promote 'I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,' a chilling true crime book about the Golden State Killer..."

"... who committed a string of unsolved rapes and murders in California in the 1970s and ’80s. Mr. Oswalt told the crowd that he believed the killer would be caught soon, that his time was running out. In fact, just hours before, Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, had been arrested in California on a warrant stemming from two of the murders. On Wednesday, the authorities identified him as the Golden State Killer, citing DNA evidence connecting him to the crimes. For Mr. Oswalt, the news of Mr. DeAngelo’s arrest feels deeply personal. His late wife, the writer Michelle McNamara, had spent the final years of her life chasing the Golden State Killer, hoping to identify him in her book, 'I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.' But Ms. McNamara died before she could see the killer brought to justice, or her book published. Exhausted and anxious after spending years immersing herself in details about the unsolved murders, she died in her sleep in April 2016, at 46. An autopsy found that she had an undiagnosed heart condition and had taken a mix of prescription drugs, including Adderall, the pain narcotic fentanyl and the anti-anxiety medication Xanax...."

From "Michelle McNamara Died Pursuing the Golden State Killer. Her Husband, Patton Oswalt, Has Questions for Him" (NYT).

"The White House withdrew the nomination of Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician, to lead the Veterans Affairs Department..."

"... after lawmakers went public with a torrent of accusations leveled against him by nearly two dozen current and former colleagues from the White House medical staff," the NYT reports.

I was surprised at the headline because I'd heard Trump say over and over that it was up to Jackson to decide whether he would resign, but I see in the third paragraph that it was Jackson, issuing the statement saying that he was withdrawing:
“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Dr. Jackson said in a statement provided by the White House press office.

He said that the charges against him were “completely false and fabricated.”
What was he accused of? What came out yesterday was the worst:
In one instance, Dr. Jackson stood accused of providing such “a large supply” of Percocet, a prescription opioid, to a White House Military Office staff member that he threw his own medical staff “into a panic” when it could not account for the missing drugs, the document said.

In another case, at a Secret Service goodbye party, the doctor got intoxicated and “wrecked a government vehicle.”

And a nurse on his staff said that Dr. Jackson had written himself prescriptions, and when caught, had simply asked a physician assistant to provide him with the medication.
ADDED: The idea of a White House doctor handing out drugs calls to mind the JFK conspiracy theory buff in the movie "Slacker":

"Kanye West is not in fact losing millions of followers for tweeting his love of Donald Trump."

The Verge has figured out. Well, it was easy to figure out, because by "followers," The Verge simply means followers on Twitter, and anybody can look and see how many follower he has. 27.9 million. He follows exactly 1 person, his wife.

West has been tweeting things like:
You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.
my wife just called me and she wanted me to make this clear to everyone. I don't agree with everything Trump does. I don't agree 100% with anyone but myself.
And even:

All that fire! And that led to:

"One group of scientists analyzed bear scat and revealed that a foraging grizzly could gobble 40,000 moths in a day."

"At that rate, the bear can consume about one-third of its yearly energy requirements in just 30 days..." (Yellowstone Gate).
Hillary Robison extensively researched army cutworm moths as part of the grizzly bear diet while a doctoral student the University of Nevada in Reno.... Robison hiked and horse-packed deep into the backcountry to find the steep, rock-strewn talus slopes favored by moths. The heat of the day drives the moths to seek cooler, moist shelter under large rocks broken off of headwalls and other rock formations above timberline. However, the sheltering rocks pose little obstacle for hungry bears.
I'm turning over this rock this morning because moths suddenly appear in the last few lines of the previous post and it reminded me of something from a documentary Meade was watching on TV the other day.

"I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I’ve made some poor choices in my past. ‘Boogie Nights’ is up there at the top of the list."

Said Mark Wahlberg (last November).

I would have blogged that last November if I'd seen it at the time, but I didn't, so why (you may ask) am I seeing it this morning? I've been up since 4:30 a.m. and reading about the movie we happened to watch last night, which was something that had been sitting on the DVR since early March, "The Big Lebowski." Everyone was talking about "The Big Lebowski" back then because it was the 20th anniversary of the release of the film, which was a big flop in theaters (I saw it at the time) but became the very definition of a cult film over the years.  I found it on some cable channel, recorded it, then left it festering.

Weirdly, it made about exactly the same impression on me, watching it for the second time, that it made originally, which was something like this is awfully self-indulgent and I'm uncomfortable with the treatment of women. But I woke up this morning — song cue — thinking about the women of "The Big Lebowski" in a different way. The men in that movie are ruined and marginalized, and the women are doing the marginalizing (and rarely on screen because the cameras are trained on the dead ends of loserville).

So I was reading things like "Maude and The Dude: Feminism and Masculinity in The Big Lebowski" (Bitch Flicks) and thinking about Julianne Moore (Maude) led me to "Julianne Moore Reacts to Mark Wahlberg's Boogie Nights Diss: 'It Made His Career!'"

There's something so sad about that. Moore is laughing at him for feeling bad about something that gave him worldly success and showing no feeling whatsoever for Walhberg's religious orientation, which (I assume) would make him more penitent about the things he did that brought him worldly success. Bible verse that comes to mind:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

April 25, 2018

Today's oral argument in Trump v. Hawaii — the "Muslim ban" case we now (pretty much) know Trump will win.

Here's Mark Walsh at SCOTUSblog reporting on the big oral argument on the last day of the 2017 Term — Trump v. Hawaii. I haven't read this yet, but from the short article I have read (at the NYT), I think everyone knows Trump is going to win.  I'll live-blog my reading, giving you snippets and comments.

Walsh begins with the weather — "warm but drizzly day" — and observations of who's in the gallery — Orrin Hatch and "a touch of true celebrity and talent when Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author (and original player of the title role) of the Broadway hit 'Hamilton'" and Josh Blackman (who tweets a photo of the autograph he got from Miranda on his pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution) — so this is chronological and grandiosely whimsical.

Walsh calls the argument a "fast-moving, hard-hitting hour" and clues me in that there's another post at SCOTUSblog that's the "main account" of the substance of the argument. I'll get to that. I continue with Walsh.

At Amy's Café...


... it's time to talk about anything (and to buy anything through the Althouse Portal to Amazon).

"Oh, I'm surprised at that," says George Stephanopoulos when Ronan Farrow tells him that Hillary Clinton cancelled an interview with him...

... after "her folks" heard he was "working on a big story" — "the Weinstein stuff."

Reported at Mediaite, with video that allowed me to transcribe the "Oh, I'm surprised at that," which I find funny, and Mediaite left out.

I find it funny — and I believe this is why Mediaite left it out — because I read Stephanopoulos to be lying. He knows why Hillary Clinton wouldn't want to be interviewed by someone who's digging into the Harvey Weinstein story.

1. Hillary was part of what the New York Times called Weinstein's "complicity machine":
In late September [2016], emails show, he was discussing a documentary television show he was working on with Hillary Clinton. He had long raised campaign cash for her, and her feminist credentials helped burnish his image — even though Tina Brown, the magazine editor, and Lena Dunham, the writer and actress, each say they had cautioned Mrs. Clinton’s aides about his treatment of women....

Over the years, Mr. Weinstein provided [theClintons] with campaign cash and Hollywood star power, inviting Mrs. Clinton to glittery premieres and offering to send her films. After Mr. Clinton faced impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he donated $10,000 to Mr. Clinton’s legal defense fund. Mr. Weinstein was a fund-raiser and informal adviser during Mrs. Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, a guest in her hotel suite when she won and a host of an A-list victory party. He was an early backer of both her presidential bids.
2. Hillary was vulnerable to questioning about her protection of Bill Clinton over the years, and Ronan Farrow was emerging as the one who was fighting to take sexual harassment and rape seriously. Hillary's people were right to worry that he would have the nerve to really push her on questions about her behavior toward the women whose voice Farrow was about to amplify.

Stephanopoulos obviously knows this. He looked ludicrous playing the naif.

The plot against Scott Adams.

I like the discussion under that tweet:

"In much of the world, the concept of basic income retains appeal as a potential way to more justly spread the bounty of global capitalism while cushioning workers against the threat of robots and artificial intelligence taking their jobs."

"But the Finnish government’s decision to halt the experiment at the end of 2018 highlights a challenge to basic income’s very conception. Many people in Finland — and in other lands — chafe at the idea of handing out cash without requiring that people work," the NYT reports. "The basic income trial, which started at the beginning of 2017 and will continue until the end of this year, has given monthly stipends of 560 euros ($685) to a random sample of 2,000 unemployed people aged 25 to 58. Recipients have been free to do as they wished — create start-ups, pursue alternate jobs, take classes — secure in the knowledge that the stipends would continue regardless."
“There is a problem with young people lacking secondary education, and reports of those guys not seeking work,” said Heikki Hiilamo, a professor of social policy at the University of Helsinki. “There is a fear that with basic income they would just stay at home and play computer games.”...

The Finnish government was keen to see what people would do under such circumstances. The data is expected to be released next year, giving academics a chance to analyze what has come of the experiment....

"Over the last several months, I’ve spent evenings watching my fiancée, Lara, inject herself with smaller and smaller doses of estrogen."

"I’ve watched her stand in front of a mirror, singeing each hair out of her face with a secondhand electrolysis machine. The return of her testosterone hasn’t resulted in just the resurgence of facial hair; her pants now fit differently, too. My own skin has been plagued by acne since I got off the pill six months ago, and my default states are angry, hungry or sleeping. Such are the perils of trying to have a child the way Lara and I are trying, without in vitro fertilization, or cryogenically frozen sperm. The way fertile cisgender people do: They simply couple up, and boom — a child is born. For many young trans people, the question of having babies is likely the last thing on their minds. Who could blame them? Like all young people, they’re figuring out their future.... But unlike all young people, young trans people are often making choices that have long-term consequences for their fertility. Which is part of how I, a 32-year-old cisgender lesbian, and Lara, my 33-year-old trans fiancée, came to be in the situation we’re in today: trying to conceive a child, even though Lara transitioned four years ago."

From "Adventures in Transgender Fertility" by Joanne Spataro, "a New York-based writer who is engaged to a transgender woman" (NYT).

The comments at the NYT are surprisingly hostile. Here is the second-highest rated one:
Here is how I understand this story: a woman who is not sexually attracted to men met a man who says he was supposed to be a woman and took hormones to suppress his maleness. The woman fell in love with the man and was sexually attracted to him because now he seems like a woman. But the woman wanted to get pregnant, and so the man who now seems like a woman stopped taking the hormones that make him seem like a woman, in order to once again produce testosterone to be used to impregnate the woman.
A lot of the comments express hostility to the term "cisgender." On the topic of language, I'll just say I hate the vogue use of the interjection "boom" (as in "They simply couple up, and boom — a child is born").

"Will the 'blue wave' continue with Arizona special election?"

Yesterday, on MSNBC (video at link):
Today’s special election in Arizona’s eighth district is being watched closely to see if Democrats can continue flipping seats held by Republicans. Dr. Hiral Tipirnen, the Democratic candidate in the race, joins Katy Tur to discuss today’s election.
Answer, in yesterday's special election: NO.

Let's see how MSNBC reports the story: "Republican Debbie Lesko scores tight win in Arizona special election, NBC News projects/Lesko's lead might have kept a conservative congressional district in Republican hands — but the margin might be too close for comfort."

How tight?
Lesko held a 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent lead over Tiperneni, or 91,390 votes to 82,316 — an Republican advantage of 9,072 votes, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Arizona secretary of state's office.
Doesn't seem tight to me.
That margin may concern Republicans. President Donald Trump carried the district in the conservative Western Phoenix suburbs by 21 percentage points, and its previous occupant, Trent Franks, a Republican, ran unopposed.
The blue wave. It's there even when it's not there.

Are we to be impressed that the Toronto police did not shoot ?

Here's the video presented by the NYT as evidence of police showing how to defuse a dangerous situation:

Here's the NYT article, "When Toronto Suspect Said ‘Kill Me,’ an Officer Put Away His Gun."
“This is going to be a great training video in the future,” said Ronal Serpas, who led police departments in New Orleans and Nashville and is now a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. “It almost gives you chills how well he handled himself.”...

“Clearly the guy driving the van was on the edge; he knows what he just did. But by the way the officer handled himself, he ends up becoming docile and submits to an arrest,” said Mr. Serpas, the former New Orleans police chief. “It was a great outcome in a horrible situation.”
Obviously, I'm no expert, but I find it hard to believe that a police officer is supposed to take this much personal risk. The man, Alek Minassian, has just mowed down 10 people with his car, he's not responding to multiple commands, and he seems to be pointing a gun aggressively at the cosmically cool Constable Ken Lam.

"A hat is a celebration of oneself. It is about presenting one’s most adorned, spit-shined, upright self to God, social media or, in this case, the history books."

Writes Robin Givhan (at WaPo) about the hat Melania wore yesterday at the greeting ceremony for French President Macron. These days, hats are not "about fashion," but "more of an affectation, whether it be the religiosity of Sunday church service or the self-conscious flamboyance of the Kentucky Derby."

The hat was a "magnificent halo of pure white light perched atop first lady Melania Trump’s perfectly groomed head."
Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else.

That hat, broad-brimmed with a high, blocked crown, announced the first lady’s presence as boldly and theatrically as a brigade of trumpeters. It was the bright white hat of a gladiator worn on an overcast day, a kind of glamorous public shield when sunglasses would not do at all. That hat was a force field that kept folks, the wrong folks, from getting too close.

It was a diva crown. A grand gesture of independence. A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen.
So, I'm seeing 3 things the hat does: 1. Showing off (yay, me, trumpets!!!), 2. Creating a religious aura (looks like a halo, like a lady in church), and 3. Keeping everyone away (force field!).

As to #3, the first thing I think of is the kissing. I saw Macron and Trump kissing. This was the greeting ceremony. Was none of that cheek kissing to be aimed at Melania?

But Givhan emphasizes independence from Trump: "A grand gesture of independence." And she combines #2 and #3 by continuing: "A church hat. The Lord is my shepherd. Deliver us from evil. Amen."

Remember, according to Givhan, the hat says everything: "Nothing else mattered. There was nothing else."

Silent, stoic, statuesque Melania cries out to the Lord. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death — the White House, with my satanic president-husband — I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

ADDED: Of course, hats were huge in Trump's campaign. No one ever made as much headway through a hat as Trump. And when Hillary wore a hat, Rihanna wore a picture of it — Hillary + hat — on a T-shirt. And Hillary very famously wore a hat — a big blue hat (presaging a blue dress?) — at the first Bill Clinton inauguration.

ALSO: Is that first line quoted in the post title an intentional reference to Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"?
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
But Melania could not have felt at ease on the grass at that tree-planting ceremony (where Brigitte Macron grasped Trump's shovel shaft). She along with Madame Macron was wearing stilettos. In order not to sink completely into the sod and get stuck, they were both tasked to walk and stand entirely on their toes.

April 24, 2018

"I just want to lead with love. I want to be about love.... I love Donald Trump."

Said Kanye West.

IN THE COMMENTS: Kevin said:
Love Trumps Hate

What did it mean? Scott Adams wrote in "Win Bigly":
One of the more notable persuasion failures from the Clinton campaign involved the slogan Love Trumps Hate. The first two thirds of the slogan is literally “Love Trump.” Again, human brains put more weight on the first part of a sentence than the end. On a rational level, the sentence makes perfect sense, and it says what Trump’s critics wanted it to say. But in the 3-D world of persuasion, this slogan simply told the world to either love Trump or love the things he hates, such as terrorism and bad trade deals.
Just one more thing Scott Adams got right.

AND: Here's something Ted Rall got wrong:

Turned out we didn't get that 4 to 8 years of stupid — not that particular form of stupid, anyway (the stupid of getting called "sexist" every time you criticized the President).