December 18, 2017

"President Trump said yesterday 'No, I'm not' when asked if he's considering firing Special Counsel Bob Mueller."

"Truth is, his high-level Republican allies don't think he will need to," Axios explains.
The Trump lawyers' strategy is to cooperate with Mueller on the inside game. The outside chorus tries to rough up Mueller, in case his findings are trouble for POTUS.

"I think one of the reasons that I feel empty after watching a lot of TV, and one of the things that makes TV seductive, is that it gives the illusion of relationships with people."

"It’s a way to have people in the room talking and being entertaining, but it doesn’t require anything of me. I mean, I can see them, they can’t see me. And, and, they’re there for me, and I can, I can receive from the TV, I can receive entertainment and stimulation. Without having to give anything back but the most tangential kind of attention. And that is very seductive. The problem is it’s also very empty. Because one of the differences about having a real person there is that number one, I’ve gotta do some work. Like, he pays attention to me, I gotta pay attention to him. You know: I watch him, he watches me. The stress level goes up. But there’s also, there’s something nourishing about it, because I think like as creatures, we’ve all got to figure out how to be together in the same room. And so TV is like candy in that it’s more pleasurable and easier than the real food. But it also doesn’t have any of the nourishment of real food. And the thing, what the book is supposed to be about is, What has happened to us, that I’m now willing—and I do this too—that I’m willing to derive enormous amounts of my sense of community and awareness of other people, from television? But I’m not willing to undergo the stress and awkwardness and potential shit of dealing with real people."

David Foster Wallace, quoted in "Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace," by David Lipsky.

I'm reading this book after watching the movie based on this book, "The End of the Tour" (which is free on Amazon Prime). The movie is good for people (like me) who enjoy watching 2 people have a long conversation.

ADDED: "I mean, I can see them, they can’t see me." But just the other day, on one of his Periscopes, Scott Adams deadpanned the joke that the app had been upgraded to enable him to see his viewers. And remember how "Romper Room" regularly assured children that it was able to see them through the TV:

And of course the TVs in "1984" were spying on everyone everywhere, and who doesn't worry that our computer/phone screens are 2-way?

DFW was expressing sadness about the 1-way quality of television. But that was in the context of also feeling sad about using TV as a substitute for in-person human interaction. He confessed to an "addiction" to television and — in the book — says "I’ll watch five or six, I’ll zone out in front of the TV for five or six hours."

"The Internet responded, quickly and in fury. Many say that..."

The Washington Post reports on what "The Internet" thinks.

The quote is from "Mario Batali tells fans he’s ‘so very sorry’ for sexual misconduct. P.S.: Cinnamon rolls!" Batali sent fans some email expressing his contrition about sexual harassment and ended by pointing to a recipe for pizza dough cinnamon rolls.

It's challenging to confront readers with a combination of ingredients. Should you put cinnamon in your pizza dough? Should you put a recipe in your sexual harassment apology email?

I think the recipe in the email is like the traditional marriage scenario where the man brings flowers when he's returning home on a day when the couple had a big fight in the morning.

Anyway, I'm writing this post because I'm following how MSM reports what's in social media and I thought "The Internet responded, quickly and in fury" was a particularly silly example of presenting "The Internet" as if it is an individual person with feelings and a specific opinion on a subject.

"Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem."

"You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa."

Tweets Rose McGowan, quoted in "Rose McGowan Singles Out the ‘Hypocrisy’ of Meryl Streep and Other Actresses Planning Golden Globes Protest" (NY Magazine).

December 17, 2017

At the Green Wall Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And think about doing a little shopping at Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

I love the mural, by the way. Such a weird wall to begin with, then a striking, simple design. The style reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Victor Brauner.

"It’s absurd and Orwellian, it’s stupid and Orwellian, but they are not saying to not use the words in reports or articles or scientific publications or anything else the C.D.C. does."

"They’re saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you. It’s not about censoring what C.D.C. can say to the American public. It’s about a budget strategy to get funded."

An unnamed "former federal official" explained to the NYT what's behind this weird report that "officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been barred from using seven words or phrases, including 'science-based,' 'fetus,' 'transgender' and 'vulnerable,' in agency budget documents."

It wasn't that people inside the CDC were offended by those terms. It was that they feared those words might trigger opposition from Republicans in Congress from whom they are trying to get support. It's self-censorship. Or so it seems. We're not seeing Republicans banning words but how people who feel antagonistic to Republicans are willing to change their speech in order to get more of what they want from Republicans.

"Look at that thing! It's rotating!"

"A video shows an encounter between a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and an unknown object. It was released by the Defense Department's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program," from "Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program" (NYT).
The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012.... The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space....
Something screwy is happening.


Drudge links to The Daily Caller. What is Chris Matthews accused of doing that got NBC to pay $40,000 to settle?
The woman complained to CNBC executives about Matthews making inappropriate comments and jokes about her while in the company of others... Based on people who were involved in matter, the network concluded that the comments were inappropriate and juvenile but were not intended to be taken as propositions.
What were the comments? Blandly referred to like that, they seem like something almost anyone might have done. Should we all be cowering in fear?

"Mueller obtains 'tens of thousands' of Trump transition emails."

Axios explains. Excerpt:
Charging "unlawful conduct," Kory Langhofer, counsel for the transition team, wrote in a letter to congressional committees Saturday that "career staff at the General Services Administration ... have unlawfully produced [transition team] private materials, including privileged communications, to the Special Counsel's Office."...

The transition sources said they were surprised about the emails because they have been in touch with Mueller's team and have cooperated.... The sources say that transition officials assumed that Mueller would come calling, and had sifted through the emails and separated the ones they considered privileged. But the sources said that was for naught, since Mueller has the complete cache from the dozen accounts.

Will The Reckoning be the end of high heels?

Bonnie Wertheim wonders (in the NYT).

The whole beginning of this piece is about a lady in Palo Alto who objected to the emoji her phone suggested when she typed "shoe":
“It was the first time I noticed and stopped in my virtual tracks and stared at the stiletto heel that auto-populated,” [Florie] Hutchinson said. “It was the emoji that broke the camel’s back.”
I didn't know the word "auto-populate" or that there was something called the Unicode Consortium’s emoji subcommittee that you could write to about your objections to emojis. The Palo Alto woman recommended "a ballet flat, a shoe that reads as female but not seductive or sexualized." She was especially concerned about children seeing the stiletto shoe:
“My daughters are already being confronted by these gender-stereotypical norms, totally subconsciously,” Ms. Hutchinson said, “while all of us are having this very vocal conversation about gender biases.”
Anyway, let's scroll past the history of high heels — men wore them too* — and look at the end. Does it say that The Reckoning will cause high heels to become unwearable? They've always been hard to wear, because they are uncomfortable and hobbling, but they may become impossible to wear because they say something that — like sexy remarks in the workplace — you won't want to say anymore.

But that's not where the NYT article goes:
Last year, in The New Yorker, the writer Mary Karr called for the uninvention of high heels. It seems more likely that they will be reinvented. Two companies led by women have developed ergonomic high heels whose insoles are designed to promote stability and even weight distribution, and prevent heel-related hospital visits....
I clicked through both to the Mary Karr article and the supposedly "ergonomic" high heels. I didn't see any reason to believe "ergonomic" high heels are anything but somewhat less bad high heels, so let me try to end this with a bit from Mary Karr's piece:
Oh, womenfolk, as we once burned our bras could we not torch the footwear crucifying us?... Our feet and spines will unknot, and high heels will fade from consciousness along with foot-binding and rib removal to shrink your waist. The species may stop reproducing, but who the hell cares.
No question mark. Who the hell cares.

By the way, "The species may stop reproducing" makes me notice that no one says "Fuck-me shoes" anymore, or so it seems to me, but "Fuck-me shoes" has its own Wikipedia page. Excerpt:
Prominent feminist Germaine Greer brought what had been an "obscure" term to more mainstream notoriety when she used it in 1995. Greer used the term in referring to British journalist Suzanne Moore's alleged "hair bird's-nested all over the place, fuck-me shoes and three fat inches of cleavage." Greer made the remark in response to a column Moore had written about Greer in The Guardian, where Moore had mistakenly repeated an incorrect rumor that Greer had a hysterectomy as a voluntary decision to have herself sterilized....
Tripping into that female-on-female aggression makes me assume that the weapon, the stiletto,** will be kept as an option for a long time to come.


* Would Prince be alive today if he hadn't worn high heels?

** The arm that is the foot.

Something must have happened to Pajamas Media sometime.

This grabbed me by the eyeballs and I opened up the app called Grab and made this capture for you:

That's the "Editor's Choice" in the sidebar when I clicked on "Meryl Streep Admits She Reads Drudge, Watches Fox News."*

Let's talk about the psychology of Pajamas Media or, more accurately, the psychology Pajamas Media imagines in its readers. Somebody there believes that putting those 3 things together will work on you to click one. And they can see which one readers choose. Which way does your anxiety lead you? You can always calm yourself with the "overrated male musicians" if the idea of sexualized boys and adult wussies is too disturbing.

You might take refuge in "overrated male musicians" because it's the one that's not overtly sexual, and you know you'll see familiar faces — warning: you have to click through multiple pages — and you can dreamily lose yourself in contemplating how highly these men are rated and then whether they should really be rated lower. Hey! If you do that, maybe you're experiencing "modern life" and getting transformed into a wussy. What manly man gives a fuck whether musicians are overrated? By the way, the listicle is written by a woman and she begins by talking about Woody Allen and his 40-year-old riff from "Manhattan" about which writers are overrated.

I skimmed "How Modern Life Transforms Men into Wussies," including clicking through 4 pages. Apparently, men these days watch action movies and play video games instead of doing manly outdoor things. Well, if you're reading that article, you're probably not flexing your muscles out in the elements. And be careful. You're a modern man on the precipice of the wussy-making machine. You may be moved to comment over there, participating by whimpering something like: "So you just finished pointing out just how crappy the situation is for men, and then chide us for not participating in it?" Poor man. He should have opened door #3 where he could have calmly nodded over the notion that Stevie Wonder is overrated.

Need I open door #2, "New York Times Celebrates Sexualization of 10-Year-Old Boy"? It must attract PJ Media clicks, since it's an article that's already almost a month old. Of course, the NYT article doesn't talk about the "sexualization" of the boy, and it certainly doesn't "celebrate sexualization" of a child. It merely enthuses about a boy wearing what would be a depressing shitload of makeup on a grown woman. The PJ Media article chides the NYT: "Apparently, there are... many cosmetics companies and fashion magazines willing to whore out young boys for the sake of sales and clicks." But PJ Media is also using that madeup boy to get clicks, and it's putting "sexualization" in the article title and pimping it — weeks after its original publication — in the sidebar under a headline written to scare men about the world turning them into "wussies."


* Don't get too excited about that nonnews. Meryl Streep is talking about news media, because she's in a new Steven Spielberg movie about the Pentagon Papers. She plays the role "of Washington Post reporter Katharine Graham," as PJ Media puts it. Katharine Graham wasn't a "reporter." She owned the newspaper and was its publisher. Anyway, Streep was answering questions about what media she consumes, she listed a lot of things, and on mentioning Fox, added that she looks at it "to see the manipulation." All the media manipulate, so I only wonder if she tries to see manipulation when she looks at media that lean the way she likes, but I'm not a reporter, I'm not interviewing Meryl Streep. I'm just a humble blogger prying my way into Pajamas Media at 5 in the morning.

December 16, 2017

At the Tree Shadow Café...


... please feel free to talk about anything.

And consider doing some shopping at Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"In Estonia, we don’t have Big Brother; we have Little Brother. You can tell him what to do and maybe also beat him up."

Says "a local" to Nathan Heller, author of "Estonia, the Digital Republic/Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure. Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?" by Nathan Heller (in The New Yorker).

Today, in Estonia, the weekly e-residency application rate exceeds the birth rate. “We tried to make more babies, but it’s not that easy,” [Siim Sikkut, Estonia’s current C.I.O.] explained.
Polling-place intimidation is a non-issue if people can vote—and then change their votes, up to the deadline—at home, online.
Vote and change your vote... That's an interesting innovation. We assume that early voters are locked in and therefore unaffected by late-breaking news.

Please read the whole article. I kept puzzling over whether this is the approach to life and government would spread all over the world and whether I should think it's very cool or how we ruin everything and can never get back out again.

In Estonia, we don’t have Big Brother; we have Little Brother....

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a fluffy slipper smooshing a human face — forever.

"This isn't an argument about policy, it's just a dumb attempt to personalize the issue."

Says Glenn Reynolds:
Brookings fellow rips Trump: I entered through lottery system. It’s like the people who defend affirmative action by saying “I’m a product of affirmative action!” as if that should silence any critics.
I loathe these personalized arguments. They are not consistent with progressive politics, because they amplify the voice of the privileged and treat those who have been excluded as if they don't exist. So there's a de-personalization going on that you're encouraged not to notice. If a lottery were not the system, there would be some other system. Who are the people who would have got in under that system? They're not here to clamor for your attention to their personal story.

There's a second form of silencing that goes on: Those who benefitted from the existing system are supposed to support it. This particular "Brookings fellow" is saying it helped me, so I'm for it and you should be too. But what about people who got the benefit but don't like the policy? They'll be told they need to shut up, because they took the advantage. I'm thinking of Clarence Thomas, who people assume got the advantage of affirmative action and who gets called a hypocrite for opposing it.

"At the end of 2016, our country had swung in the direction of gold leaf, an ecstatic celebration of unfeeling billionaire-dom that kept me up at night."

"I couldn’t settle down to read or write, and in my anxiety I found myself mindlessly scrolling through two particular shopping websites, numbing my fears with pictures of shoes, clothes, purses and jewelry. I was trying to distract myself, but the distraction left me feeling worse, the way a late night in a bar smoking Winstons and drinking gin leaves you feeling worse. The unspoken question of shopping is 'What do I need?' What I needed was less."

From "My Year of No Shopping" by Ann Patchett, who gave up shopping for a year and lived to tell the tale (in the NYT). She didn't give up food shopping — or anything-in-the-grocery-store shopping — or shopping for anything she had but ran out of — like shampoo, batteries, and toner cartridges. And she didn't give up buying books, because... books!

I once did something like this, but it wasn't out of some politically motivated desire for psychological renewal. It was the challenge of sending 2 sons through college. My incantation was: Don't buy anything. I found that surprisingly easy to follow. When you reach a certain age, you probably don't need anything (putting aside the things you regularly consume, like food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies). Most of what you're buying is just things you're taking the trouble to think about wanting. You go into a clothing store and look around to find something to want or to feel that you need.

I like that Patchett's last paragraph calls attention to something particularly stupid about what's on the racks in the stores this year: Clothes with the shoulders cut out. It really is best not to go to the insane mental place where you feel you want that. Just project yourself forward into next year when, it's easy to see, you'll think you were crazy to have believed that was even wearable.

"FBI officials’ text message about Hillary Clinton said to be a cover story for romantic affair."

What a crazy story, dropped last night in The Washington Post. Excerpt:
“So look,” the text from Page to Strzok reads, “you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting [because] you feel bad that you’re gone so much but it can’t be helped right now.”...

People familiar with the matter said that, although Page’s message may appear to suggest that she and Strzok used a separate communications channel for discussing the Clinton case, the point of her text was to advise Strzok how to explain to his wife why the two of them had been texting each other.

Page and Strzok used their work on the Clinton case as a cover story for the affair, these people said, adding that there was not a separate set of phones for untraceable discussions of the Clinton case. The text had nothing to do with the Clinton investigation, these people said.
We're talking about a senior FBI lawyer and a senior counterintelligence agent.
“What people are forgetting is the human foible of a having an affair — they forget that the system itself will betray you and your texts,” said David Gomez, a former FBI counterterrorism official. “Using language like that is something a lot of people who have affairs do, but it does create problems with people who are conspiracy minded.’’
We're asked to believe sex made them this stupid. And we're asked not to look too hard because it must have been about sex, and we're "conspiracy minded" if we see anything but their getting stupid because of sex. But their sexual desire — however profound and stupid-making it may have been — doesn't make us stupid. Keep looking.

And Washington Post, come on. You need to do better. The second-to-last paragraph of this story is an embarrassment:
The issue has come up before. In 2014, an FBI agent was caught texting on the witness stand at a trial and then lied under oath about it. She killed herself hours after the incident. Law enforcement officials said her texts were innocuous messages exchanged with her husband while passing time in court.
I'm not saying you ought to kill yourself over that, and I'm sorry for family of the woman who killed herself over lying on the witness stand about texting in 2014, but that's a cheap, lame, overreaching effort to make us lay off Strzok and Page. "The issue has come up before" — what issue?

Nevertheless, he persisted.

From "Nine more women say judge subjected them to inappropriate behavior, including four who say he touched or kissed them" in The Washington Post:
Christine O.C. Miller, 73, a retired U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge, said that around early 1986 — shortly after Kozinski was appointed to his seat in the 9th Circuit — he invited her to attend a legal community function in the Baltimore area.

As the two drove back together, Miller said, Kozinski asked if she wanted to stop at a motel and have sex.

Miller, then in her early 40s and married, said she had considered Kozinski, who had served as chief of the Claims Court, “an ally and a professional friend” but harbored no romantic feelings for him.

“I told him, no, I wasn’t interested and didn’t want to be involved in anything like that,” she said. Kozinski, she said, persisted.

“He said if you won’t sleep with me, I want to touch you, and then he reached over, and — this was the most antiseptic — he grabbed each of my breasts and squeezed them,” Miller said. She said she stared straight ahead, and he soon dropped her off at her home.
Nevertheless, he persisted....

December 15, 2017

At the Littering Café...


... you can drop (or pick up) whatever you like.

That's just a shred of litter I saw on the ground and felt moved to stoop over and photograph.

Is that too profound to preclude my reminding you to shop at Amazon through the Althouse portal?

I searched for God at Amazon and found "God: A Human History," "God and Donald Trump," and Zeus Greek God Holding Thunderbolt Statue with Eagle.

Mira Sorvino cries over confirmed suspicion.

ADDED: Here's the underlying story. Excerpt:
"I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women [Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino] - and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list " [said Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson].... "My experience, when Miramax controlled the Lord of the Rings... was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies. They weren't the type of guys I wanted to work with - so I haven't," he said.

"The woman said that she does not recall how long the unwanted contact lasted, and that she felt unable to do anything to stop it. 'There were people there'..."

"... she said. 'What are they going to think of me, that I’m a whore, if a say something? What would I say? He’s Dustin Hoffman.' According to the woman, the car dropped her near her apartment, but Hoffman put $20 in her hand and instructed her to go to the San Remo, where he lived. 'I didn’t know what to do, the woman said, describing herself as being in 'a kind of fugue state' triggered by her encounter with Hoffman and related to abuse that she suffered as a child. She hailed a cab and asked the driver to 'drive around' for a few minutes, then asked him to take her to the San Remo. There she said, Hoffman was waiting outside the building. She accompanied him upstairs, where, she claimed, he performed oral sex on her and they had intercourse. Asked if she would describe the encounter in the station wagon as non-consensual, she said 'yes.' Asked if she would describe the encounter at the San Remo as such, she said, 'I don’t know.'"

From "Dustin Hoffman Accused of Exposing Himself to a Minor, Assaulting Two Women," at Variety.

A "fugue state" is "a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality, and other identifying characteristics of individuality." It "usually involves unplanned travel or wandering" — perhaps to the San Remo — "and is sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity."