April 28, 2017

"Foreign countries and companies might appreciate the idea that they can more easily handle Donald Trump if they lavish his daughter with attention..."

"... this is a common enough practice when dealing with authoritarian governments. But it should at least cause a little unease here at home," writes Amy Davidson in "The Global Effort to Flatter Ivanka" (in The New Yorker). She's writing about that panel discussion about women and entrepreneurship that happened at the W20 conference, where Ivanka Trump got to share the stage with Angela Merkel, Queen Máxima, Christine Lagarde, and Chrystia Freeland.
And one saw, again... how the perceived need to pander to Ivanka Trump can distort almost any conversation. At one point, Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister, while making a point about the important role that fathers play in their daughters’ progress, said, as she looked at Ivanka, who nodded in agreement, that behind “every successful woman” was a very supportive father.
So it's Ivanka's fault that the Canadian Foreign Minister said something plainly wrong and obviously damaging to the self-esteem of millions of women?!
The moment played less as a shout-out to men in the developing world (which was likely what Freeland intended) than as a validation of the First Daughter concept.
Why does Freeland get the benefit of charitable interpretation and Ivanka get the blame for the negative aspect of a remark she did not make?
And it left little room for the fatherless, or for the defiant, or even for the sort of complexity experienced by, say, Queen Máxima, who is originally from Argentina, where her father was a member of the junta that ran that country’s Dirty War. Whatever their relationship, Máxima went along with the decision not to invite him to her wedding to the Crown Prince of the Netherlands, in deference to Dutch public opinion. Even royalty has to listen, sometimes.
Even royalty? Here you have Davidson complaining about the stature acquired by the daughter of a U.S. President, and somehow simultaneously viewing royalty as lofty. Ivanka may have her position by birth but the U.S. President was elected by the people. Royalty gets its power by birth and by marriage.

By the way, did Davidson ever critique the global effort to flatter Barack Obama's wife (not to mention the truly insane effort to flatter Bill Clinton's wife — which is the main reason we've got Ivanka Trump's father as President).

"... the Old Vic's upcoming production of Girl From the North Country which is written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan."

"Brought to life by a 20-piece company of actors and musicians, award-winning playwright Conor McPherson beautifully weaves the iconic songbook of Bob Dylan into this new show full of hope, heartbreak and soul."

IN THE COMMENTS: AReasonableMan said...
From their web site:

"Duluth, Minnesota. 1934. A community living on a knife-edge huddle together in the local guesthouse. The owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth is losing her mind and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for. And, when a preacher selling bibles and a boxer looking for a comeback show up in the middle of the night, things start to spiral beyond the point of no return…"

I guess they ran out of cliches at that point, the 'point of no return'.

April 27, 2017

"Am I taking this too seriously? The casual racism of the Asian salad stems from the idea of the exotic — who is and isn’t American is caught up wholesale in its creation."

"This use of 'Oriental' and 'Asian' is rooted in the wide-ranging, 'all look same' stereotypes of Asian culture that most people don’t really perceive as being racist.... [T]he language of the Asian salad is revealing of the dangers of bland, disembodied generalization: When you fail to see countries and cultures as discrete entities, what kind of consideration could you be expected to give to individual people?"

From a NYT column titled "Why Is Asian Salad Still on the Menu?"

In the comments over there, a lot of people are answering that question "Am I taking this too seriously?" They're all saying yes. And the highest-rated comment is:
I'm just going to go out on a limb here and credit the "white audience" with the smarts to know that the Asian salad isn't any more Asian than the Ortega tacos are Mexican or the SpaghettiOs are Italian. I'm pretty liberal and Asian, but this is the kind of crying wolf - whining wolf actually - that makes people tune out when we complain about actual racism. Gimme a break.

"Several years ago, I lost my power of smell. So I can't smell anything...."

Says Scott Adams at the beginning of this video (which someone who knows I have the same disempowerment alerted me about):

ADDED: Adams makes 2 surprising claims:

1. His sense of taste is unchanged. I'm not going to say he's lying, but I don't believe him. I think he's right when he says he may be delusional about it, that his brain has filled in the experience of tasting. You've got the part of taste that isn't smell, so you're still getting salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and whatever (umami), and you're enjoying the texture and temperature and appeasement of hunger and you've learned to see that as enough. If you say it's the same, it's perhaps because you've forgotten what it used to be. Or perhaps your inability to smell is located in your brain (rather than your nose) and you have become unable to think of what smell is, so you literally don't know what you are missing.

2. He doesn't want his sense of smell back — even though once his house was filling up with leaking natural gas and he had no idea — because there are more bad smells than good. Of course, it's subjective which smells are bad and good — especially when it has to do with other people's bodies — and you have some choice about what you put near your nose — whether to live in a polluted city, how clean to keep your house and your clothing, what to cook, whether to use cologne, and so forth. But even if we assume he's right and there's more bad than good, a lot of what's bad is important information — about what not to eat, whether a place is safe, when to clean. And I don't think what smell gives you is just plus and minus, with zero being a good setting. Smell is an integral element of emotion and memory and the feeling that the world is real and alive.

"Does Le Pen have a chance of winning French presidency?"

"Since his impressive first-round victory on Sunday, Mr Macron is still at least 20 points ahead, which sounds an unassailable lead.... So what could go wrong for him?"
All she needs is to advance a little more in the polls, and this is how she could do it.

"If she gets 42% of the vote, which isn't impossible, and Macron gets 58%, normally she loses the election," physicist and Sciences Po political expert Serge Galam told RMC radio. "But if 90% of people who said they would vote for Le Pen do it, and at the same time only 65% of people who declared they would vote for Macron actually do it, then it's Marine Le Pen who wins the election with a score of 50.07%."

Under Serge Galam's mathematical formula, he gives three examples of how Marine Le Pen can win, where she is candidate "A turnout x" and Emmanuel Macron is "B turnout y" with a Turnout (T). He calls this model "differentiated abstention."

Movie review that I literally almost blogged.

"The Circle literally plays as if it has been written by a bunch of elites that have spent a little bit too much time on their phones, decided that the world has become too dependent on technology, and now they're going to make a film that saves people from themselves. It's smug, condescending, and completely without incident. In fact, The Circle is the reason why people hate Hollywood. It feels like a decree laid down to 'the people' from those up in their ivory towers, a call to arms for everyone to put down their keyboards and just come together in peace, love, and heart-emojis, but which unfolds in an overly heightened and sensationalized world with barely a semblance of reality. There's literally no complexity to the characters...."

That's where I stopped reading this movie review by Gregory Wakeman at Cinema Blend, which I'd arrived at via Rotten Tomatoes, where I looked to see what critics were saying about the movie made from a novel I read a few years ago.

At the Wet Pink Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.


(And if you're doing any shopping, you can think about supporting this blog by using The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"… there’s a weird number of people battling snails from medieval times … Why is this?"

"We don’t know. Seriously. There are as many explanations as there are scholars."

One answer is: "Since human knights are often seen trembling before—or, indeed, losing to—the harmless, slow-moving snails, it makes sense that the image is a way to emphasize cowardice."

I finished reading "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign."

Here's the book. You might remember that I was pulling out interesting quotes — here and here — as I went along, and the last one I had was 30% of the way through. Maybe it's me, but the book seemed to get tedious after the first third, as though they'd edited it more intensively but then didn't bother and just left us with dumped notes from their interviews with Clinton insiders. There was a lot of semi-digested material about the mechanics of getting speeches written and where to expend funds and how nervous and uncomfortable various people felt at various times. I got pretty bored.

But there were 3 more things I highlighted as I read. I'll give you these:

1. 34% of the way into the book: "While they were in the car, thinking about how Nevada could really turn the race on its head, [Democratic campaign operatives Tad] Devine’s phone rang. It was Podesta. The Clinton campaign chairman was upset. The day before, Bernie’s brother, Larry, had wondered aloud to a reporter whether Bill [Clinton] was 'really such a terrible rapist' or 'a nice rapist.' President Clinton doesn’t like being called a sexual predator, Podesta told Devine, especially not by a Democratic candidate. What kind of bullshit strategy is that? Devine tried to calm Podesta.... 'Did you see what I said?' Devine said of a television appearance he’d made the previous day. 'Larry is eighty years old. He lives in England. He gave this interview, and he’s not going to talk to the press anymore. This is not a strategy.' Podesta was not assuaged."

2. 67% of the way in: "But [Hillary] accepted the conventional wisdom that she could win or lose the presidency based on her performances [in the debates] against Trump — a rival who thrived on getting under the skin of an opponent. And what [Phillippe] Reines found, [playing the role of Trump] as he practiced against her, round after round, is that Hillary’s heavily nuanced policy arguments were boring and easy to pick apart with a sharp retort. Her strength and her weakness were one and the same: she mastered so much material. 'As the guy who would kick her ass over and over again,' it was obvious to Reines that Trump’s messaging was better, said a source with singular knowledge of his thinking.... [H]er stiffness and her inability to reply to specific questions with thematic answers... were painfully obvious in the debate-prep sessions. Reines had been able to exploit them and outperform her. Heading into the first debate.... Hillary and her team were nervous that Trump might do the same thing. "

3. 68% of the way: "As she had done before facing Bernie Sanders in the primaries, Hillary huddled with Klain, Dunn, Sullivan, and Podesta before the debate. This time, she seemed on edge. There was so much riding on a curious, nationally televised piece of performance art. It was such a poor test, she thought, of which candidate would make a better president. Normally so stoic, she betrayed the butterflies in her stomach by nervously joking with her aides about the outsize significance the debates took on. They tried to reassure her. Have fun, they advised. The winner of the debate was usually the candidate who appeared to be enjoying the moment more." (That was bad advice, don't you think? Her laughing, I'm-having-fun routine seemed phony, smug, and not well matched to the subject matter.)

"You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely."

Said the anonymous email that caused Portland to cancel its Rose Festival Parade, WaPo reports.
Set to march in the parade’s 67th spot this year was the Multnomah County Republican Party, a fact that so outraged two self-described antifascist groups in the deep blue Oregon city that they pledged to protest and disrupt the April 29 event.

Then came an anonymous and ominous email, according to parade organizers, that instructed them to cancel the GOP group’s registration — or else...  200 people would “rush into the parade” and “drag and push” those marching with the Republican Party.

“We will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” it said....
So now that's all it takes to end freedom of expression in Portland. What a flimsy, pathetic place.

And it was only a threat to drag and push a specific set of people who were going to be present at a particular place and time. Do the police in Portland not know how to manage crowds? Let the parade happen, let the protesters arrive and protest, and deal with the situation as it unfolds. If you won't do that, you don't have a free society.

ADDED: The threat to shut down roads is particularly absurd to me after what I've seen in Madison down at the state capitol. When the protesters were coming, the police themselves would shut down the roads to make it easier on everyone. I've also seen the police here deal with situations where they knew antagonistic groups were going to be in the same place at the same time. There are techniques for this. You don't just give up and say now we can't assemble in groups anymore.

$10,000! This should be entertaining. How close to $10,000 do you think the bidding will ever go?

"United Airlines will offer up to $10,000 when a traveler voluntarily gives up a seat on an oversold flight, part of a policy overhaul following the passenger-yanking video seen around the world."

Can state law require that churches permit women to breastfeed openly — with no covering — in the congregation during a service?

Virginia has a law that gives women a right to breastfeed wherever they are "lawfully present." I can see why laws like this get passed, and I feel sympathy for this woman who was embarrassed to be told she can't breastfeed in the manner she presumably believed was okay (especially after the government has purported to enshrine this right in the law)...

But I think privately owned places — especially religious institutions — should be allowed to impose their own standards of modesty. There's a big difference between being deprived of the freedom to  breastfeed wherever you are and being required to drape a light cloth over the exposed breast.

This WaPo report on the subject completely takes the perspective of the woman and makes the churchgoers seem prudish and ignorant of the law:
A woman promptly asked the Dumfries mother to decamp to a private room, she said. Peguero declined and was later told that the church does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers “uncomfortable,” she said. One woman told her the sermon was being live-streamed and that she would not want Peguero to be seen breast-feeding....

It is also a legally protected right in Virginia, where the legislature passed a 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be....
The woman, Annie Peguero, is described as a "42-year-old personal trainer and fitness and nutrition specialist" and — these are her words — a “hippie mama."

It seems to me that churches — and other religious organizations — have rules about how covered up you need to be in the building or during a service. And the last time I looked, Virginia has a Religious Freedom Preservation Act, § 57-2.02:
No government entity shall substantially burden a person's free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (i) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (ii) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Quite aside from whether Peguero has a statutory right to breastfeed uncovered in church (and I don't think she does), as a matter of etiquette and caring for others, she should have willingly covered her breast as soon as she noticed the exposure distracted or bothered anybody.

Here's the highest-rated comment at WaPo:
As someone who has lived all over the world, I can assure you America is the only place on earth where people get hysterical seeing mothers breastfeed their babies.

Exactly what is it about a breast that has you guys upset? It is not a sex organ. It was made for women to feed their babies. The fact that it has been sexualized by men does not make it a sex organ.
Here's the second-highest-rated:
I get the whole "it's natural" thing, but have a little consideration for those around you. You still cannot walk around nude freely in our society. And, it does make people uncomfortable ... which is also "natural". Use a blanket or step out of the room. Why is that such a huge deal?
 ADDED: I'd originally misread a sentence in the article that said: "Now Peguero, and an attorney, are pressing church leaders to issue a statement and reverse their policy." I've corrected the post.

IN THE COMMENTS: I Have Misplaced My Pants said:
Haha. Women who make a fuss about this are almost always attention seekers best ignored.

I am on my fourth breastfed-into-toddlerhood child over 15 years (didn't breastfeed the adopted one, alas) and I have always nursed wherever I happen to be and no one has ever once given me so much as the stink-eye, let alone approached me and been an ass. Of course I've been discreet when appropriate, finding a quiet corner if it seemed like the thing to do, but I have never nursed under a drape or cover of any kind and I have never nursed in a bathroom.

The whole "zomg men sexualize the breast waah waah waah" thing is a hoax. Again, in 15 years of off and on public breastfeeding and hanging out with other public breastfeeders I have never had a man be anything but polite. I'm calling bullshit.
Policraticus said...
You know, I'm all for modesty and things having a time and place. I am sure the mother in question could have been a little more discreet.

But... the reaction of the church officials crosses over into the absurd. The idea that a woman breastfeeding a child should hardly be shocking. The image of Maria Lactans is ubiquitous in Christian art and you can find images of Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus pretty much everywhere you look. Irony. It can be pretty ironic sometimes.
Good point (though I think the images of Mary are not so common among protestants). Here's an example:

There's also Lactatio Bernardi, where Mary squirts some milk sideways onto Saint Bernard:

April 26, 2017

"Ann Coulter said Wednesday that she was forced to cancel her speaking event Thursday at the University of California, Berkeley amid concerns of violence..."

"... calling it 'a dark day for free speech in America.'"
"I have my flights, so I thought I might stroll around the graveyard of the First Amendment," Coulter said in an emailed message when asked if she was still coming to Berkeley.

Taking a picture of a water droplet and, later, seeing the inverted tree.

I couldn't really see what I was getting in the rain in the Arb today, but when I saw this on the computer screen, I was truly delighted:

Version 3

Closeup, in case you don't see it:


"The NYT's new columnist defends his views on Arabs, Black Lives Matter, campus rape."

"It’s a decision that infuriated many of the paper’s liberal readers. [Bret] Stephens may be a vocal critic of Donald Trump, but his views are firmly right-wing...."

Meet your newest conservative NYT columnist, joining Ross Douthat and David Brooks.

I have to add the tag Bret Stephens and publish this post so I can click on it and see what I've said about him over the years. Hang on a sec....

ADDED: I've got 2 old posts tagged Bret Stephens:

1. April 28, 2015: I posted about a column of his that was called " "Hillary’s Cynical Song of Self/The Clintons are counting on America to digest their ethical lapses the way a python swallows a goat." I said:
Does Stephens's analogy function properly? He isn't saying Americans will be able to do the equivalent of slowly digesting the a goat, only imagining that Clinton's people must be hoping that will happen. But the slow digesting can only occur if the goat is swallowed. The python performs 2 tricks: swallowing the goat and digesting the goat. The swallowing must come first. Without the swallowing, the devastating evidence is preserved....
2. April 15, 2014: I just quote something he writes and call it "very sarcastic." It's:
No, what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him. This man is Rand Paul....

"Wild boars mauled three Islamic State (Isil) fighters to death near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk...."

"Some refugees saw the bodies on the edge of a farm when they were fleeing and they told us. A few days later Isil started to kill pigs around the area...."

"I've been in a lot of locker rooms. I don't know where in locker rooms where it is acceptable to talk about, 'Man, I was out this weekend and boy, I got a piece of her, and I did this and I did that.'"

"The guys who usually say that are usually the ugliest sons of bi— guns in the room. Here's the deal guys, you gotta speak up. You cannot let that kind of talk be bred on a college campus.... When you see something, if you're a fraternity brother and you see a young freshman co-ed in the second week dead drunk, and him walking her up the stairs, you gotta go up to him and say, 'Hey, not in my house, Jack. Not in my house.' Because if you don't, you are an accomplice. You know what's about to happen. You know!... I say to you guys, please, please act like men. Rape and sexual assault are not about sex, it’s about power. If you want to be a man, stand up, man. And if you can't get her to say yes because she wants to, you ain't much."

Says Joe Biden, who is out and about talking to guys the way guys talk to guy or so Joe Biden seems to think is the way guys talk to guys.

I certainly agree with him about not raping anyone, not having sex with anyone who is drunk, and intervening to stop drunks from getting victimized.

But he is imposing a crude stereotype on men, and there is some problematic lookism in that quote.

"One of the leading voices of the Trump resistance is not some black-masked radical or a marching young woman with a pink knit hat but a man with gray hair, a name you know and a neatly knotted tie."

It's Dan Rather — the subject of a Politico article titled "Dan Rather’s Second Coming/With millions of Facebook fans and the freedom to speak his mind, the 85-year-old journalist is back in the arena—facing the opponent he’s been waiting for his entire life."

Yes, Dan Rather is back, and he's on... Facebook.

Has Trump been thinking about breaking up 9th Circuit?

"Absolutely, I have. There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It's outrageous."
"Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic," Trump said.

His comments came one day after U.S. District Judge William Orrick temporarily blocked Trump's efforts to withhold funds from any municipality that refuses to cooperate with immigration enforcement officers....

"You see judge shopping, or what's gone on with these people, they immediately run to the 9th Circuit," Trump said. "It's got close to an 80 percent reversal period, and what's going on in the 9th Circuit is a shame."

Controlling the "100 days" narrative.

With 3 days left to go in the vaunted "100 days"...

1. Trump drops his tax proposal...
President Trump on Wednesday proposed sharp reductions in both individual and corporate income tax rates, reducing the number of individual income tax brackets to three — 10 percent, 25 percent and 35 percent — and easing the tax burden on most Americans, including the rich.

The Trump administration would double the standard deduction, essentially eliminating taxes on the first $24,000 of a couple’s earnings. It also called for the elimination of most itemized tax deductions but would leave in place the popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, which Mr. Trump has railed against for years, would be repealed under his plan....
2. NAFTA is about to get knocked out...
President Trump is likely to sign an executive order formally withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a senior administration official, a move that would set the stage for renegotiating the deal with Canada and Mexico and fulfill one of Mr. Trump’s major campaign promises.

In recent days, the White House has announced that it will impose tariffs on Canadian lumber and asserted that Canada has treated the American dairy industry unfairly.
3. Healthcare reform comes back to life...
The House Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-line conservatives who were instrumental in blocking President Trump’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month, gave its approval Wednesday to a new, more conservative version, breathing new life into Republican efforts to replace President Barack Obama’s health law.

Senior White House officials, led by Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, have relentlessly pressed Republicans to revive the health care push before Mr. Trump’s hundred-day mark on Saturday, and with conservatives falling into line, the bill has a chance to get through the House, possibly as early as Friday....