March 25, 2017

"Diners at Upland, the California-inflected brasserie in Flatiron, would have a story they could tell their great-grandkids: about the day they saw President Obama — gracious, handsome, tieless — while taking forkfuls of little-gem salad."

The love affair — the press with Obama — continues.

And new love arrives: "Did Senator Cory Booker and Mindy Kaling Just Set Up a Real-Life Date Over Twitter?"

"Incredibly, he was able to instead survive by following a group of monkeys, who dropped him fruit and lead him to shelter and water every day."

"Maykool had been found in very weak condition; nine days in the rainforest had left him dehydrated, his skin ravaged by bites, botflies, and spines, his feet and ankles painfully swollen."

"I said I wanted to get some outside stuff, and I looked out the window and saw it was getting darker and darker... There wasn’t very much thought to it."

Said Don Hunstein, the man who took the photograph that's on the cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" — quoted in his NYT obituary. He was 88.

That photograph has been stared at by a lot of people and inspired many, many fantasies — especially of what it should be like to have (or be) a girlfriend.

IN THE COMMENTS: Paddy O said:
Reminds me of a dream I once had. Was it even my dream? It wasn't. It was a dream I once heard about. A dream Meade had one day many years ago, a dream of freewheelin' with a blog hostess.

Is Trump "unhappy" that Jared Kushner went on a ski trip to Aspen just as the healthcare bill got stymied?

That's what some source said, causing the anti-Trump media to blurt out headlines like "Trump unhappy Jared Kushner took a powder on the ski slopes as health care bill floundered."*
Kushner was on vacation until Thursday, skiing with family in the posh Colorado town of Aspen. Paparazzi caught Jared and Ivanka taking leisurely strolls, enjoying ice cream cones with their three kids and winding their way down the slopes.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Trump was fuming. According to a source close to the president, "[Trump] is upset that his son-in-law and senior adviser was not around during this crucial week." Kushner did appear at the White House on Friday during the last gasps of the Obamacare repeal effort.
I smell fake news! I think someone is just guessing — and hoping — that Trump is having tantrums. Even if I believed he's that touchily emotional, I wouldn't believe that he thinks the Kushners' ski trip is bad political theater. Because... it's not... is it? I think it says: Everything's going along just fine, we've got everything under control, everybody's happy. And also: Trump isn't dependent on having his kids at his elbows at all times keeping him normal.

But, yeah, if he freaks out when they're gone, he sounds unhinged. Which is why I think CNN carried the story.

* I loathe that kind of cornball writing — took a powder on the ski slopes — especially when they went ahead and used floundered instead of coming up with something else that sounds ski-related.

By the way, is the right word flounder or founder?
A flounder is a fish,** but as a verb, it means to blunder about, to be in serious trouble....

A founder is someone who starts something, but as a verb, founder literally means "to sink." Figuratively, it's "to collapse or fail completely."...

Flounder and founder are happy little nouns that don't get mixed up. But it all falls apart when they're verbs — if you're floundering, you're struggling. If you're foundering, you're failing completely. You're sunk! You can't even hold onto the letter l.
Take a powder, of course, does not actually relate to the powder that is snow. But exactly what does it refer to?
The phrase take a powder meaning to "scram, vanish," is probably from the 20's; it was a common phrase as a doctor's instruction, so perhaps from the notion of taking a laxative medicine or a sleeping powder, with the result that one has to leave in a hurry (or, on another guess, from a magician's magical powder, which made things disappear). Powder blue (1650s) was smelt used in laundering; as a color name from 1894.

Fish keep turning up in strange places. I think the intended word is smalt — which is cobalt glass.


** Footnote to a footnote: This is another reason to reject "flounder." With that powder... ski business, the writer has just nudged us to think concretely about random words and be amused by the image, and a flounder cannot swim in snow, but it is one of those subjects people have had passionate, pointless arguments about.

"You know the more Trump fails, the more we're just getting what we want: Not Hillary."

Overheard at Meadhouse.

"Instead of watching it on a TV screen, I wanted to recreate the conditions under which I’d originally enjoyed this movie, so I booked it at Chicago’s Music Box Theater..."

"... as part of my film series, 'Is It Still Funny?' It was a packed house, and as Harold embarks on that first fake suicide, I could feel my own tension building."

From "A Movie Date With My Younger Self" by Marc Caro (in the NYT).

"With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme."

"Look for the new meme to dominate the news, probably through the summer. By year end, you will see a second turn, from incompetent to 'Competent, but we don’t like it.'"

Writes Scott Adams, about the biggest thing that happened yesterday, as he sees it, which was not the failure to get to a vote on healthcare reform.
[I]n the 3D world of persuasion, Trump just had one of the best days any president ever had: He got promoted from Hitler to incompetent. And that promotion effectively defused the Hitler-hallucination bomb that was engineered by the Clinton campaign.
By the way, we were just talking about Scott Adams on the blog yesterday — talking about that Bloomberg article and how he thought it had fake-newsed him — and he stopped by in the comments:
I like the comments where people are reading my mind and determining how much fun I am having, or not having.

The Bloomberg experience was fun for me from top to bottom. That's why I did it. And it went exactly as I told my brother and several others it would. That includes my blog on the experience, which I decided to write before the story appeared. (It was obvious how the article would turn out.)

Based on the reaction on Twitter to my blog, a lot of people liked it and appreciated the glimpse behind the curtain.

You might be confusing me with people who feel shame or anger from this sort of experience. I'm not normal that way. I can see how that would be confusing. I laughed as hard as my brother did in the video on my blog.
Makes me think of the old line You must have mistaken me for someone who cares.

You have to care at least enough to say that.

The other day, I was talking about the weather with a woman who might have been about 30 or so.

She got to describing the movie "Twister" (the special-effects laden tornado movie from 1996), and I said I'd never seen it. To lighten the mood, I said "I've seen 'The Wizard of Oz.'" To my utter amazement, she said "I haven't." How can you not have seen "The Wizard of Oz"?!

ADDED: In case you, like me, don't know "Twister," this is a good way to get up to speed:

AND: Nice to see Bill Paxton again. And Philip Seymour Hoffman.

HEY: There's also an Everything Wrong With for "The Wizard of Oz"!

What a deceptive headline at The Daily Caller!

"Transgender Teacher Gets $60k After Co-Workers Won’t Call Her 'They.'"

I shouldn't reward them with traffic, so let me not leave this post too enigmatic. There was a lot of harassment against this teacher — who adopted the self-presentation as gender neutral after she had breast cancer surgery and opted for reconstruction to a masculine rather than feminine-looking chest.

Here's the underlying article in The Oregonian, so I recommend getting the facts there, not at The Daily Caller, with its fake-news click-bait headline.
Leo Soell... identifies as neither male nor female and uses the pronoun they instead of he or she. But, Soell wrote, coworkers continuously called Soell "she," "lady" or "Miss Soell." Someone smeared Vaseline on Soell's cabinets, the complaint said, and another yelled insults in the school hallway. Others conspired to prevent Soell from using the school's lone gender-neutral bathroom, the complaint said....

If kids asked whether Soell was a boy or a girl, district leaders told Soell to respond, "We all have private lives, and it would not be appropriate to talk about our private lives during the school day."...

Soell said coworkers responded by intentionally calling Soell "lady" or "Miss Soell."

"Another teacher yelled at me openly in the school hallway, saying that my gender is a 'belief system' that I do not have the right to make other people follow and that God is on her side," Soell said in a complaint, obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
I understand that many people are traditional about maintaining the distinction between the sexes, but if you want to be taken seriously as traditional, you'd better display traditional etiquette and decency. 

"The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it... That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you're dead."

Wrote Trump in "The Art of the Deal." Also: "Know when to walk away from the table."

I'm reading these quotes in yesterday's Washington Post, in "Trump’s health care ultimatum is straight out of ‘The Art of the Deal.’ It just might work."

But is anyone talking about Trump's "walk away" approach today, after the ultimatum failed? Or is everyone saying: Trump failed. And: So much for the "Art of the Deal." And: Trump got a stark elementary education in the complicated reality of Washington politics — that art-of-the-deal stuff doesn't fit the exquisite complexity of Congress.

The "walk away" strategy isn't just a bluff, is it? Sometimes, you really do walk away. Long term, that builds your game, doesn't it? Or, maybe it's wrong to say "just a bluff," because in poker, if you need your opponents to think you bluff, so they'll stay in when you've got a good hand. Poker bluffing is not a good analogy for what Trump did in saying the vote had to happen on Friday or that was the end. What corresponds to the hidden hand? All that's hidden is whether Trump really will declare it over if those hearing the ultimatum don't believe this really is their last chance. They know what the bill is, and if they decide not to vote for it because they want something else, then Trump might follow through with his threat and back out. But the balky members of Congress are the ones who are staying in and taking the risk that Trump won't stay in, so they seem to be the ones doing the bluffing. Isn't it Trump who's in the position of a poker player who folds because he thinks the other guy has a better hand?*

Whether poker bluffing is a good analogy or not, we still need to think about how well Trump's approach to Congress is working. In this analysis, we need to think about what Trump really wants. I'm not sure. He may want to fulfill a campaign promise, but that promise was always contingent on Congress doing what he wants, and it's questionable whether the bill was even what he promised. If nothing passes, it ends an intra-party fight, a fight that would have continued into the Senate, straight into the wheelhouse of Rand Paul...

... who likes to stand in front of a poster with Trump's "Art of the Deal" words on it.

But I'm not sure Trump wanted to keep that promise. I think maybe he could see that there would be terrible problems under any bill that might pass, and that his name (and his party's name) would be on all those problems — which the Democrats and their many friends in the media would elaborate and amplify in the run up to the mid-term elections.

With the bill rejected — swiftly thrown away in a grand gesture — Obamacare remains, and the coming problems are all (or mostly) on the Democrats. They passed that slow-toppling disaster, with no buy-in from Republicans, and they refused to participate in the earnest effort to save America from the collapse.

I don't think Trump gave up. He saw a better path and set up a quick way to get on it.

Now, I expect that the media will belabor the defeat and the proof that Trump is no artist of the deal and that Trump will get moving on different, better, happier deals like walls and airports — tangible, buildable things.

After 30 years of marijuana use, Woody Harrelson gives it up because it was "keeping me from being emotionally available."

"Still, he has nothing bad to say about marijuana, which he calls 'a great drug.'"

He's right — isn't he? — about the biggest problem with marijuana.

I've been averting my eyes from the healthcare roundelay.

Hey, that is the first time in my life that I stopped to think of the right word and came up with roundelay. Where did that come from? This must be a special kind of aversion I've been feeling....

And is roundelay even correct?

Roundelay — originally "A short simple song with a refrain," according to the OED — has the figurative meaning "A repetitive and apparently pointless cycle of events; a farce." Here are the historical examples for the figurative usage, which — though it sounds very old-fashioned to me — go back only to 1949:
1949 Los Angeles Times 3 Nov. ii. 5/1 So long as this roundelay continues, the nation will be losing real wealth, and our standard of living will slowly deteriorate.
1968 Wall St. Jrnl. 9 July 18 Some cynics have treated all this as just another political roundelay.
1990 N.Y. Mag. 30 Apr. 48/2 It's another night at the office, another in the constant roundelay of political money-making exercises.
2005 D. Goewey Crash Out viii. 118 The past decade had been a roundelay of failed attempts to keep him out of lockup.
I went looking to see where roundelay appeared in the NYT archive and this headline from WWII grabbed my attention — from 1941 (so, still the figurative usage):

ADDED: Maybe this animation at the NYT caused me to think "roundelay":

Needs a few more pointing hands, no?

"There were five Wisconsin players and one whirring blur of white cleaving all of them..."

"... a Florida point guard motoring up the court, veering out of control and finally planting his foot at just the right spot. It had to be the right spot, just beyond the 3-point line. It had to be the right time. It had to float for what seemed like an eternity and disappear softly through the net."

Sportswriting. In the NYT.

That's written by Zach Schonbrun. The game is lost. Let's rate the sportswriting. Just the part I've quoted above.

Rate the sportswriting quoted above. free polls

March 24, 2017



At the Canyon Café...



... you can talk about whatever you want.

(The photos are from Bryce Canyon National Park, March 8th.)

(And remember to think of doing your shopping through the Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"I’d stir the water from the hose into the earth … and make thin, soupy mud, which I would then rub on my hands, arms, feet, and legs."

"I would pretend to be a dark-skinned princess in the Sahara Desert or one of the Bantu women living in the Congo … imagining I was a different person living in a different place was one of the few ways … that I could escape the oppressive environment I was raised in."

"Why had I dragged my family — my wife and our Snapchatting 12-year-old daughter and our longhaired, talkative 9-year-old son — away from work and school to see, of all places, Mount Rushmore?"

Asks Sam Anderson in a NYT Magazine article with a title that caught my attention, "Why Does Mount Rushmore Exist?/This gargantuan shrine to democracy has never felt so surreal." How does anybody know the how surreal Mount Rushmore has felt over its close-to-one-century existence? Whose feelings have counted and why does Sam Anderson — speaking of feelings — feel that he should behave as if he's the arbiter of surrealism?

But now I'm wondering why he's taking his children out of school to go on a trip? Is truancy just some concept relevant to other classes of people than those who write for the NYT?

Here's Anderson struggling with the question in the post title:
I couldn’t say, exactly. All I knew was that I seemed to be suffering a crisis of scale. America was taking up a larger part of my mind than it ever had before. It was dominating my internal landscape, crowding out other thoughts, blocking my view of regular life. I couldn’t tell if it was reaching its proper size, growing the way a problem tends to grow just before a solution is found, or if it was swelling the way an organ does before it fails and bursts.
Is this about Trump? Wait. I get it. America, growing way beyond its proper size and failing and bursting. Big President heads carved out of a South Dakota rockscape in the 1920s and 30s are showing us the horror of Donald Trump's dangerously swelled ego that's about to blow.
And it began to seem foreign to me, our American obsession with size. We are born a fantasy of bigness. We are tall and strapping, with big hats and big hair and loud clothes and booming voices....
We are? 
Why does goodness have to be huge? It is a dangerous belief....
But who believes it?

Saks Fifth Avenue — once a purveyor of sophisticated clothing for women — shows faux-schoolgirl clothes on a model who's much too small for the clothes, so that she looks even tinier than a schoolgirl.

Seen in the sidebar to my blog just now:

Look how oversized everything is, including the very long belt that hangs down to her knees. The girl is sad and stumbling. She looks as though she can barely walk and hardly knows what to think about anything. Her lack of any capacity is symbolized by the absence of visible hands. They're somewhere inside those overlong sleeves.

How can this be how women are now invited to see ourselves? Feeble, vulnerable children.

This makes me want to show you a photo I snapped the other day at the hair salon:

Celebrity feminists in their filmy lingerie

I didn't go out of my way to put those 3 magazines together. That was what was arrayed in front of me: Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Emma Stone, all posing in thin lingerie. Stone, in particular, looks naked. These are the same movie stars who lecture us about feminism.

For the annals of bad right-wing jokes.

"I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms."

"Cruel anarchists have perpetrated an incredibly effective, image-shattering hoax on the American public."

Said Richard Nixon — reacting to the fake news that Spiro Agnew's farts were killing people — in a comic strip by Skip Williamson, who died last week at the age of 71.
“I was always more political than most of the other underground artists,” Mr. Williamson told The Comics Journal in 1986. “Or antipolitical. I believe honestly that if you vote for these bastards, you only encourage them.”
You can see some of the artwork at the link (which goes to the NYT obituary). Here's Williamson's Facebook page, which also has a lot of artwork showing. Somewhere in there is "When the Twerms Came" — the comics version of an Arthur C. Clarke story that appeared in Playboy. As the NYT put it, the story is about "aliens conquering Earth with a Psychedelic Ray, an Itching Beam, a Diarrhea Bomb and Tumescent Aerosol Spray."