October 17, 2017

At the Autumn Café...


... you can talk all night.

And, please, if you've got some shopping to do, use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

50 years ago today: The musical "Hair" opens at the Public Theater in NYC.

The off-Broadway run began on October 17, 1967.
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a... product of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s... The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of "rock musical", using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-In" finale.
Here's how the review looked in the NYT:
If good intentions were golden, 'Hair,' at Joseph Papp's new Florence Sutro Anspacher Theater, would be great. As it is it is merely pretty good; an honest attempt to jolt the American musical into the nine-sixties, and a musical that is trying to relate to something other than Sigmund Romberg.
Sigmund Romberg? The reference is lost on me. (Here.)
If it had a story — which to be honest it hasn't — that story would be about the young disenchanted, turned on by pot, switched off by the draft, living and loving, the new products of affluence, the dispossessed dropouts. That, if it had a story, would be what "Hair" is about.

Man, what an old fogey the NYT was! The reviewer was Clive Barnes.

I was 16 at the time, and I probably only heard about the show after it moved to Broadway. I scorned it, because it seemed that old people and commercial interests were trying to trade on the hippie movement, which seemed too pure and beautiful to have anything to do with Broadway. I didn't regard the music as rock music, so it was annoying to hear it called a "rock" musical. Like Clive Barnes, I resisted the show, but for what was — in "generation gap" terms — a completely different reason.

"Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium..."

"... the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews. Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show...."

The Hill reports.

"What Would Women Be Doing if We Weren’t Constantly Dealing With Male Abuse?"

"The torrent of #MeToo stories reveals just how much time we spend dealing with this shit," writes Joan Walsh in The Nation.

The last 2 paragraphs confused me:
Then I think about a couple of consensual experiences with men hugely my superiors. The come-ons took me by surprise, and flattered me, and seemed real. Like, of course I deserve this attention! I’m great! Or at least pretty great, right? In none of these instances was I chasing a job, or an affair either. I was flattered by the unexpected attention of a powerful man I respected. I knew I could learn from them; I enjoyed spending time with them. Also, by the way, they were married, so it was safe, right? I confidently spent time alone with them, believing they were interested in my mind and my work. Who wouldn’t be?

They weren’t. I would eventually learn that there was no actual relationship offer on the table, and no professional benefit either. And again I felt like: I am a fucking fool.
That sounds like she accepted a date and wanted a relationship (and even liked that the guy was an adulterer). Let's not mush everything together! This #MeToo stuff could get really stupid. At least she announces I am a fucking fool. I know, she means back then. But she's using the present tense.

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt said:
Yeah, a married guy who chases after young women is safe--who thinks this way?
Absolutely no one. Joan Walsh, who is 59 years old, is still selling herself as a naive, innocent girl. She was going out with some other woman's husband, as far as I can tell. Look, we're in an important moment, when women can come together and support other women. Don't mess it up with bullshit like this.

"But the two dictators were would-be intellectuals—Adolf Hitler a failed painter inebriated with the music of Wagner, and Mussolini a onetime schoolteacher and novelist."

"Unlike American philistines, they thought literature and the arts were important, and wanted to weaponize them as adjuncts to military conquest.... During World War I German patriotic propaganda vaunted the superiority of Germany’s supposedly rooted, organic, spiritual Kultur over the allegedly effete, shallow, cosmopolitan, materialist, Jewish-influenced 'civilization' of Western Europe.... Hitler invested considerable money and time in the 1930s, and even after World War II began, in an effort to take over Europe’s cultural organizations and turn them into instruments of German power.... Goebbels and Hitler were as obsessed with movies as American adolescents are today with social media. Convinced that cinema was their era’s main engine of cultural influence, they tried to control filmmaking as far as their influence could reach.... The dominance of American films had troubled European filmmakers and intellectuals from the beginning.... Hitler’s efforts to stem the mass appeal of Hollywood films and jazz only made them... more seductive and, in a final irony, prepared for the triumph of American music, jeans, and film in the postwar world by trying to make them taboo...."

From "The Cultural Axis" in The New York Review of Books. The reviewed book is "The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture."

"Hours before it was to take effect, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order on Tuesday blocking, for now, President Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban."

"It would have indefinitely stopped almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the Muslim-majority nations included in his original travel ban."


"I’m a human being, and there’s a lot that I’ve chosen not to share, but absolutely I am deeply, deeply hurt if any women who has been assaulted — or man — thinks that in any way I was victim-blaming."

"In 900 words, I did the best I could to describe an entire, very complicated dynamic that is really best left for a thesis or an hourlong talk," said Mayim Bialik, quoted in The Daily Mail.

She's apologizing after getting criticized for writing (in a NYT op-ed):
I have... experienced the upside of not being a "perfect ten." As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms. Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the “luxury” of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money.
She overplayed the comic idea of ugly privilege. Reverse lookism is dicier than you might think.

"[NAME DELETED] didn't realize what an eyeful she'd get when she bought her million-dollar apartment overlooking Marcus Garvey Park."

"Beside the sweeping views of the Birch, Maple and Sweetgum trees that fill the park, she can often see men and women having sex there in broad daylight. 'I saw a lot of b---jobs, guys having sex, guys masturbating, I really saw the whole gamut,' [NAME DELETED], who lived in the complex for five years, said. She moved out in August.... Construction workers noticed it when the building was being constructed, doorman David Lamboy said. At first, he thought the construction crew was exaggerating. But when a resident asked him to water the plants while she was on vacation, Lamboy saw it with his own eyes. 'I’m a lifelong New Yorker. I’ve seen many things, but what I saw that day shocked me,' the doorman recounted...."

From DNAinfo.

... water the plants while she was on vacation, Lamboy saw it with his own eyes....

I wish Harvey Weinstein hadn't got me thinking about potted plants the way I am now. Or — jeez how debased we are — I see the restaurant owner is confirming the story but correcting a key detail:
“What I remember about this incident is that my sous chef came into my office, furious, telling me that ‘some fat fuck’ saying he’s an owner — he didn’t know the name — had come into the kitchen with a woman and shoved a $100 bill at him and told him to get out,” [Armin] Amiri told THR. “It was like 1:30 in the morning and he’d been the only one still there. The chef told me he was going to quit.” Later, Amiri said he saw Weinstein fix his belt behind the bar, but couldn’t see that there was a woman with him. While [Lauren] Sivan said Weinstein masturbated into a potted plant, Amiri recalls that he’d actually done it into a pot: When the chef picked up a pot placed on the stove, “It had been defiled,” Amiri recalled. “It was so bizarre. We couldn’t believe it happened."
That's improved my ideation around potted plants, but I never want to eat in a restaurant again. 

"Imagine if everywhere you looked — even in the dark — you saw static, as if the entire world were an untuned analogue TV."

"For people with a mysterious condition called 'visual snow,' that’s the frustrating, often agonizing daily reality: endless static, often accompanied by floating spots, bright flashes, trails of light, and other visual phenomena that make it hard to see or concentrate."

(The Cut (NY Mag)).

Lawrence Lessig tells us the 5-step procedure for getting Hillary to be President, and none of the steps are "????"

But you probably already know what these steps are. They're just so unlikely that they're obviously not going to happen:
If number 1: If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia, he would be forced to resign or be impeached.

If number 2: If Trump is removed, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

If number 3: If Pence becomes president, he should resign too, given that he benefited from the same help from Mother Russia.

If number 4: If Pence resigns before appointing a vice president, Ryan would become president.

If number 5: If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.
I'm quoting the paraphrasing at Newsweek, by Julia Glum. I don't like the wording at #1, "If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia...." That makes it sound as though he's already been found to have colluded with Russia (just not "definitively" or "directly").

And I hate the jocose use of the term "Mother Russia." I know that female personification of the country exists in Russian history — originally in an anti-Bolshevik context...

Glum's use of the phrase feels like some stray sexist taunting — as if Trump and Pence are mama's boys.

Here's the Lessig original, at Medium. It doesn't have the wording that bothers me. Step 1 is:
What if there were a conspiracy?

This “if” has got to be specified very precisely. The question is not whether Trump obstructed justice, or is guilty of tax evasion, or has violated the Emoluments Clause or done any other act justifying impeachment. The “if” here is quite specific: It relates explicitly to the validity of the election. The question I’m asking here is what should happen if Trump conspired with a foreign government to get elected?
Lessig doesn't even say "colluded with." He says "conspired with." Step 1 is a huge "if," and Lessig isn't implying (as I read this) that we're already part of the way toward finding a conspiracy. I'd say that so much time and effort have been put into looking for collusion/conspiracy that we're pretty far along toward saying definitively that there wasn't one.

But I think something else is missing here, something that is key toward establishing points #3 and #5. Was the participation of Russia what caused Hillary Clinton to fall as short as she did in the Electoral College? If only Trump conspired, but Trump won because of his open message to the voters and Hillary Clinton's shortcomings, then we're missing a causation element that would be needed to reject Pence and Ryan and to persuade Ryan that the "right thing" would be to give the presidency to Hillary. Lessig says:
By hypothesis, we’re assuming the office was effectively stolen from the legitimate winner by a criminal and treasonous act of the (previous) leader of Ryan’s own party.
No. Even if we knew that Trump conspired with Russia to get Russia to do some things like spread disinformation in social media, we wouldn't know that without that, Hillary would have won.

I don't think the things Russia is said to have done were enough to shift the Electoral College victory from Hillary to Trump. So, let's say Step 1 is satisfied. Okay: Impeach Trump. But unless you can establish that without that conspiracy, the people would have elected Hillary, you haven't shown why the people aren't entitled to have Pence as their President, and you haven't shown why Ryan would step down and why he would bring in the defeated candidate from the other party.

I know it's hard for Lessig and many others to believe that the people preferred Trump — the man and his policies — to Hillary Clinton — the woman and her policies — but that's what I think happened, and it would be very hard to make me believe that something the Russians did tipped that preference.

Professor Lessig, you need a causation element. 

When Courtney Love was asked, in 2005, "Do you have any advice for a young girl moving to Hollywood?"

She said "I’ll get libeled if I say it. If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go."

Via TMZ.

(By "I’ll get libeled if I say it," she meant "I'll get sued for libel if I say it," and really, "libel" is the wrong word. It should be "slander" or "defamation.")

ADDED: Also at TMZ:
Our Weinstein sources say he knows he's "momentarily toxic" but thinks with a little time, writers and actors will seek him out again because of his track record. He believes -- and probably rightly so -- that TWC exists because of him. He believes he can go back and produce movies, or he can just as easily do it somewhere else.
"Momentarily toxic." What a phrase! But O.J. Simpson has been seen chatting up women in a Las Vegas bar, so maybe cleansing toxins is a thing that happens in America.

ALSO: I wonder what calculations went through Ms. Love's head as paused. She began with a long "Umm" (an umm that I hear as knowing and sarcastic, not as slow-thinking or hesitant). She makes a show of looking over at a companion or adviser (which I see as performance). It's meant to focus the listener's attention, as is the next line: "I’ll get libeled if I say it." We're really ready to hear it now. Then, very quick, conveying the sense of urgency, danger, and being let in on a secret, she says: "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go."

Now, what if Love had been sued for libel? First, why would Weinstein sue? He'd be opening the door to discovery about his modus operandi, which had been going on for over a decade at that point. The shit would have hit the fan 12 years before it did. And he would have lost the case for sure. Courtney's line doesn't state a fact about him. She's just advising actresses on what to do IF there's an invitation, and she doesn't say why the actress should not go. Plus, Harvey Weinstein was a public figure and would have had a high burden of proof.

So I wish Weinstein had sued Love because — and maybe at the time Love realized this at the time — the lawsuit would have advanced an important cause. Love has $100+ million and could afford great lawyers. And she'd have been a big feminist hero.

IN THE COMMENTS:Virgil Hilts said:
As a lawyer who dislikes almost all lawyers (the profession where the 98% who are bad apples make the other 2% look bad) I'm upset more lawyers are not being crucified in connection with this. If Weinstein enterprise was like a mafia whose goal was not so much to make $ as to allow HW to assault hundreds of women with impunity, then the attorneys here were the hit men. Its one thing to defend a client who screws up once or twice (say, like OJ!). It's another thing to become the legal oppression grease that makes a young-woman rape machine continue to run like a well-oiled machine over 20-30 years. Any attorneys who helped HW more than twice were complicit IMHO and shouldn't be getting a pass. But they have.

"Individual pours will be sold for $55 each, in timed, ticketed experiences in Klatch’s private tasting room."

Individual pours of coffee.

"Some 130 million years ago, in another galaxy, two neutron stars... produced gravitational waves... a brief flash of light a million trillion times as bright as the sun..."

"... and then a hot cloud of radioactive debris. The afterglow hung for several days, shifting from bright blue to dull red as the ejected material cooled in the emptiness of space. Astronomers detected the aftermath of the merger on Earth on August 17... Using infrared telescopes, astronomers studied the spectra—the chemical composition of cosmic objects—of the collision and found that the plume ejected by the merger contained a host of newly formed heavy chemical elements, including gold, silver, platinum, and others. Scientists estimate the amount of cosmic bling totals about 10,000 Earth-masses of heavy elements."

From "The Plume of Gold Ejected by a Cosmic Collision" (The Atlantic).

"57 Things I Need You to Stop Doing to the Women You Work With/I'm begging you: Don't be a creep at work."

I was going to say, that headline, if it wants to meet its own high standards, seems wrong because it assumes the reader is a man (and a heterosexual man at that), and I was going to say that's all right because it's in Esquire.

But now, I'm thinking the "you" works on women and nonheterosexual men. You shouldn't do these things to women in the workplace.

And you shouldn't do equivalent things to men in the workplace.

So I'm just going to take issue with the last sentence: "And if she wants to fuck you, she will tell you."

October 16, 2017

A-ha... the same song, in 2017, without the familiar video.


"For the first time since gruesome accounts of the systematic detention and torture of gay men began leaking out of Russia’s republic of Chechnya..."

"... a young man has gone public with his story," WaPo reports.
Maxim Lapunov, 30, told reporters on Monday that he was demanding justice from the Russian government for the 12 days he spent locked in a blood-soaked jail cell, led out daily with a plastic bag over his head to be beaten by police officers demanding he confess to being gay...

Lapunov, who is ethnically Russian, is the first person to make a formal complaint to Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee challenging a government narrative that the “gay pogrom” in Chechnya never existed because no victims have come forward....

Kadyrov, the powerful head of Chechnya, was installed by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in 2007 with wide-reaching powers to suppress a militant insurgency in the region. He has built a powerful cult of personality and championed conservative values in the mostly Muslim region.

“If there are any [gays], take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them,” he told HBO in a televised interview in July.

"The sun went bang, with smithereens of birds bursting in all directions."

Wrote D.H. Lawrence in "Mornings in Mexico" (1927).

Whence this word "smithereens"? It's smithers, with an Irish diminutive ending, but the OED can't figure out where "smithers" came from.

I had never noticed the word "smithers" before, but Charles Dickens used it in "Our Mutual Friend" (1865): "The old lady nearly blowed us into shivers and smithers, many times."

"Smithers" does work as a last name. There's Mr. Smithers on "The Simpsons," and Dickens has a Miss Smithers in "The Pickwick Papers," but why would you throw an Irish diminutive ending on that name and use it to mean small fragments? The OED doesn't make the obvious move of connecting it to "smith" and I don't know enough about smithing to have any idea if small fragments are created (other than that I'm seeing photos of blacksmiths who are not wearing eye protections).

"Smithereens" was the name of a 1982 movie about a young woman from New Jersey getting into the NYC punk rock scene. It was the first film by Susan Seidelman, who went on to make "Desperately Seeking Susan."

Also in the early 80s were The Smithereens, a rock band from New Jersey. What was it about New Jersey and smithereens back then?

I'm thinking (remembering?) that feeling fragmented was arty and cool in that time and place.

According to Wikipedia, "The band's name comes from a Yosemite Sam catchphrase, 'Varmint, I'm a-gonna blow you to smithereens!'"

There's a town in British Columbia called Smithers, named after some railroad guy was named Smithers, and it seems to be the case that townsfolk prefer to be called Smithereens, rather than the less snazzy Smitherite.

"I think there's a lack of information out there about rope jumping..."

"... anyone who watches these jumping videos, please please don't try it on your own!"

ADDED: That video was shot in Yosemite National Park. Right after reading that, I saw this piece about a couple dying in Joshua Tree National Park:
Two bodies have been found in Joshua Tree National Park, locked in an embrace, nearly three months after a southern California couple vanished while hiking nearby....

Orbeso and Nguyen's car, a burgundy Lexus, was discovered near the Maze Loop, in the northwest area of the park, and footprints were seen leading away from it. 'The way the tracks were picked up indicate these people could be walking in circles, which is not uncommon when people are lost,' George Land, a spokesman for Joshua Tree National Park, told the Orange County Register.

Temperatures in the park had topped 100 degrees and it was unclear whether the couple had water and supplies with them. Land said the couple did not appear to be experienced hikers.

"Lars von Trier Denies Bjork’s Sexual Harassment Allegations."

Variety reports.
“It was extremely clear to me when I walked into the actresses profession (sic) that my humiliation and role as a lesser sexually harassed being was the norm and set in stone with the director and a staff of dozens who enabled it and encouraged it,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “When I turned the director down repeatedly, he sulked and punished me and created for his team an impressive net of illusion where I was framed as the difficult one. Because of my strength, my great team, and because I had nothing to loose (sic) having no ambitions in the acting world, I walked away from it and recovered in a years time.... the director was fully aware of this game and I am sure of that (sic) the film he made after was based on his experiences with me. Because I was the first one that stood up to him and didn’t let him get away with it.”
The film von Trier made with Bjork was "Dancer in the Dark." The next one — which Bjork believes was based on Von Trier's experiences with her — was was "Dogville." I saw the harrowing "Dancer in the Dark," because I'd been led to believe it was a significant work of art. I avoided "Dogville" however. The description in Variety is enough to remind me why: "Nicole Kidman’s character was repeatedly raped after being accused of betraying the townspeople of a small American village."

"One deputy's rescue efforts late Sunday night and early Monday morning in the Mark West area during the Tubbs Fire."

Sonoma Sheriff Robert Giordano said: "I think it really tells the story of how dangerous and how difficult the event was. It’s absolutely human and it’s very real and very honest and transparent."

Trump in the Rose Garden.

Live now (and you can scroll back to the beginning):

ADDED: "Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope! Hillary, please, run again!"

Reading Hillary's book, Part 2: "wax."

As you may remember from Part 1, I am not reading Hillary Clinton's  book ("What Happened"). I put it into our Kindle because Meade wanted to do some proto-blogging. That's my term for his reading and searching and talking to me and sending me links. That sometimes gets me to things I want to blog, and that's what we're doing with this book.

For Part 2 in the "Reading Hillary's book" series, my note for getting to the material I want to talk about is "wax." Beginning at page 5, Hillary writes about what I would call her friendship with Donald Trump. As you can see she denies that she was ever friends with him, even though she and her husband, former President of the United States Bill Clinton, attended Trump's wedding:
I had known Donald Trump for years, but never imagined he’d be standing on the steps of the Capitol taking the oath of office as President of the United States. He was a fixture of the New York scene when I was a Senator—like a lot of big-shot real estate guys in the city, only more flamboyant and self-promoting. 
I think she should mention that Trump was a big donor to Democrats. Wasn't that the relevant "scene"? 
In 2005, he invited us to his wedding to Melania in Palm Beach, Florida. We weren’t friends, so I assumed he wanted as much star power as he could get. Bill happened to be speaking in the area that weekend, so we decided to go. Why not? I thought it would be a fun, gaudy, over-the-top spectacle, and I was right. I attended the ceremony, then met Bill for the reception at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. We had our photo taken with the bride and groom and left.
She makes it sound as though she's all about having "fun," but then why get your photograph taken and then bug out? If you came to the big lavish party for fun, wouldn't you have wanted to eat the food and dance to the music and so forth? You just had your photo taken with the couple and left? That sounds kind of mean and rude. Why are you saying it like that? It seems as though you just want to elbow us into believing that you were never friends and assume we won't be thinking that this is a game of extracting money from a rich guy by making him think he was your friend.
The next year, Trump joined other prominent New Yorkers in a video spoof prepared for the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner in Albany, which is the state version of the more famous White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. The idea was that the wax figure of me at the Madame Tussauds museum in Times Square had been stolen, so I had to stand in and pretend to be a statue while various famous people walked by and said things to me. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said I was doing a great job as Senator—then joked about running for President in 2008 as a self-funder. When Trump appeared, he said, “You look really great. Unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. The hair is magnificent. The face is beautiful. You know, I really think you’d make a great President. Nobody could come close.” The camera pulled back to reveal he wasn’t talking to me after all but to his own wax statue. It was funny at the time.
It's actually pretty funny now. And Trump was gamely self-deprecating (while also, until the punchline is revealed, gushing compliments at her). Maybe he only did that to get attention, but I think it shows that they had a friendly relationship. She goes into no detail denying that they were friends. Trump's making a joke at the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner immediately becomes segue to: "When Trump declared his candidacy for real in 2015, I thought it was another joke, like a lot of people did." And the book is off into a discussion of Trump's political rise.

But I want to stop at the comic sketch that has Hillary playing the part of her own wax dummy. It's an old comedy idea, documented at TV Tropes. It's a subcategory of a trope called "Paper-Thin Disguise":
A character that the other characters should recognize (or at least recognize as out of place) dons a disguise and is treated as neither recognizable nor conspicuous. This disguise is so completely transparent that the audience wants to shout "For the love of God, it's him!"...

While not a Dead Horse Trope, these days Paper Thin Disguises are parodied as often as they are used seriously. The trope is still an important dramatic convention in live theater and opera productions — where a really good disguise would render the character unidentifiable from the cheap seats, and be beyond the scope of the prop budget to boot — but is usually employed along with some kind of nod to audience acknowledging the absurdity. This can sometimes be exaggerated for comedic effect, for example wearing bunny ears and becoming indistinguishable from a real rabbit, or pretending to be an ancient statue by simply standing still in a specific pose. Children's shows still employ this trope regularly without any parody element.
The link on "standing still in a specific pose" goes to "Nobody Here but Us Statues":
Alice tries to hide from Bob, so she pretends to be a statue (or, in more cartoonish settings, even a painting or a relief) in a museum, art gallery etc. Sometimes she has to Walk Like an Egyptian to fit in, or get in a suit of armour, or end up holding an empty picture frame in front of herself. Bob typically doesn't catch on, though he looks at Alice suspiciously (bonus points if he says "I'll never understand this modern art" or "What an ugly statue!").
In the Legislative Correspondents Association dinner sketch, Hillary didn't pretend to be a wax statue of herself to hide. Rather, the set-up had her enlisted to cover up the problem that the real wax figure had been stolen. It's a nice sketch and it was funny — I can tell even from reading the leaden waxen prose — because Trump was funny. He was funny in part because he made fun of himself, and Hillary didn't have to do anything except stand there. She didn't have to stand still for any jokes at her expense. Nobody said "What an ugly statue!" or anything like that but Trump allowed himself to seem like a ridiculous narcissist for saying "I really think you’d make a great President. Nobody could come close."

They all laughed...

ADDED: The first comment on this post, from sodal ye, is: "Hillary just broke a toe in the UK." I do a quick search and get to The Daily Mail and the headline begins: "I was running downstairs in heels with a cup of coffee and fell backwards!" I sincerely hope she's feeling better, but I've got to say that strikes me as really freaky — falling backwards in high heels — just after I've made a big leap from Hillary Clinton to Ginger Rogers, whose most famous quote is that she did everything that Fred Astaire did but "backwards and in high heels."

And I've already written about "backwards and in high heels" — and it was in a post that began by being about Hillary Clinton and then leaped into Ginger Rogers. It was September 4, 2016 and people were questioning whether Hillary was doing enough when her favorability rating had dropped as low as Donald Trump's. ABC News chief political analyst Matthew Dowd said:
[Hillary] is judged -- she is judged a little bit, I have to say, all of the controversy surrounding her and they're both -- Donald Trump and her, she's judged a little bit on a Ginger Rogers standard, which is, is that the bar is so low for him. I mean, Ginger Rogers, the famous like she did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in heels.
I said: "Suddenly, Trump is the Fred Astaire, judged by an easier standard when what his opponent/partner is doing is actually harder?"

There's more good stuff at that old post, including the debunking of the idea that Ginger Rogers is the source of the quote, the Ann Richards use of the quote, and Trump on "SNL" dancing like Fred Astaire Drake.

"There's something wrong with Hillary Clinton. It is not just her constant lying. It is not just that she throws off menacing glares..."

"... and seethes thwarted entitlement. Watch closely. Something much darker rides along with it. A cold creepiness rarely seen."

Tweets Julian Assange
after taking this hit from Clinton:

"Footage shows Trump squeezing and kissing a woman while talking about offering a job to a 'beautiful' teenager."

"Getting named to Salon’s list of The 25 Conservatives Actually Worth Following On Twitter is either a grievous insult or..."

"... a certification that you suck. Salon is saying that you’re not a carrier of a hardcore conservative contagion, and that the liberal establishment doesn’t need to worry. At best, Salon thinks you’re no threat. At worst, it considers you a fellow traveler. And some of these selectees really are straight-up Fredocons... The simple fact is that Salon’s list, the mainstream media panels, and the editorial pages don’t want straight-up conservatives... Basically, it’s all part of a campaign to construct a safe space for triggered libs, but their ostrich strategy won’t help them.... About half of America likes what Trump is doing, and if you only read Salon or the NYT or WaPo, or watch only MSNBC or CNN, you have absolutely no clue why. That’s okay with us. We’re always pointing out how, 'That’s why you got Trump,' but they never listen.... So when Trump is re-elected in 2020, their shock and dismay will be that much sweeter."

Writes Kurt Schlichter are Townhall.

"Saturday Night Live" had a sketch designed to address the Harvey Weinstein story that was so obviously avoided the week before:


That's Leslie Jones as Viola Davis, Cecily Strong as Marion Cotillard, and Kate McKinnon as the fictional character Debette Goldry.

It's too late and I'd also say: too little.

They lined up some chairs, plunked female cast members and had them say there's a lot of sexual harassment in Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein is ugly.

Harvey Weinstein's ugliness was joked about in terms of how he looks, not what he has done and is accused of doing, which really is ugly.

The cheap joke, which could be used against any man, was that he was hanging upside down naked and he looked pretty much the same as if he were not upside down. A man's face is as ugly as genitalia. Notice all the problems:

1. Judging people by the way they look.

2. The baseline assumption that male genitalia is ugly (which undercuts the complaint about sexual harassment by trading on the notion that the male body is inherently repulsive and nothing a woman would want).

3. The lack of anything specific about Harvey Weinstein. (He is said to have done many things, but I don't think hanging upside down naked is one of them).

4. If the idea is that Harvey Weinstein is ugly, so no one would want to have sex with him, that actually sounds like a form of humiliation that has often been directed at women. It's like the terrible old rape jokes that responds to a rape accusation by talking about how unattractive the woman is, so who would rape her? (And some of that "Debette Goldry" material was supposed to be funny because she's physically unattractive — she's old (get it??) — and yet even she had experienced sexual harassment.)

Later in Saturday's show, in the "Weekend Update" section, there were a few Weinstein jokes and again the idea of his physical ugliness dominated. As the NYT described it:
Michael Che, the other co-anchor of “Weekend Update,” noted that the Weinstein scandal put comedians in a “tough spot” because it was hard to make jokes about sexual assault. Then, with a photo of Mr. Weinstein on the screen, Mr. Che added:
“But it’s so easy to make jokes about a guy that looks like this. I mean, he looks like chewed bubble gum rolled in cat hair.”
It's hard to make jokes that are actually on the subject of what Weinstein did wrong, so let's make jokes that could be made against him if he were a great guy. I wish Che had entered into the realm of self-deprecation and said something more like:

We know we have to make some jokes about Harvey Weinstein. We know because we got scorched in social media last week for weaseling out of it. Lorne Michaels said "It's a New York thing." What's a New York thing? Running away from humor that too hard to do? So we are scampering this week. The weasels are scampering, trying to come up with something we can say to make you laugh about sexual harassment, and I've got to admit, 99.9% of the ideas we came up with boiled down to the fact that Harvey Weinstein is ugly. We were coming up with material like "he looks like chewed bubble gum rolled in cat hair." It's like we were liberated to do jokes about physical ugliness because a guy who did horrible things is, fortunately, ugly. It was funny because half the people pitching the jokes to Lorne were also physically ugly. Maybe they knew so many jokes because they've been hearing them all their lives. Probably a lot you out there, staying home watching TV on Saturday night, are ugly too. And just saying that, I feel ugly... on the inside.

"Many Americans have debated whether the country would be better off with Pence as President."

"From a purely partisan viewpoint, Harold Ickes, a longtime Democratic operative, argues that—putting aside the fear that Trump might start a nuclear war—'Democrats should hope Trump stays in office,' because he makes a better foil, and because Pence might work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich predicts that Pence will probably get a chance to do so. 'I think he’s the most likely Republican nominee in 2024,' he said. Ron Klain, who was chief of staff to the former Vice-President Joe Biden, is skeptical of this, given Trump’s accumulating baggage. 'There is no success for Mike Pence unless Trump works—he cannot run far enough or fast enough to not get hit by the falling tree,' Klain said. 'But he may think he can.' Evidently, the next chapter is on Pence’s mind. Over the fireplace in the Vice-President’s residence, he has hung a plaque with a passage from the Bible: '"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."'"

Last paragraph of "The Danger of President Pence/Trump’s critics yearn for his exit. But Mike Pence, the corporate right’s inside man, poses his own risks," by Jane Mayer (in The New Yorker).

"Bowe Bergdahl, Called a ‘Traitor’ by President Trump, Pleads Guilty."

The NYT reports.
He was charged with desertion, which carries a potential five-year sentence, and with misbehavior — essentially, endangering the troops who were sent to search for him — which carries a potential life sentence.

The negotiations for his release became a presidential campaign issue and an attacking point for Republican critics of President Obama’s foreign policy. Last year, as a candidate, Donald J. Trump repeatedly called the sergeant a “traitor” and called for him to be executed.

At the Slow Start Café...


... what is there to write about? I'm still trying to figure that out....

October 15, 2017

Saturday in the Alumni Park.

Long view...





"But simply having the [MAOA-L] gene doesn’t doom you to become a psychopath."

"A certain environment or experience is required in order to allow those tendencies to express themselves. And not all of those who have the condition are dangerous. In fact, many CEOs and others at high station are known psychopaths.... The main component is an inability to empathize with others. This can lead to unfulfilling relationships, as partners often dislike emotional distance. Psychopathic types have difficulty bonding with others, are more prone to antisocial behavior, and at the extreme wing of the spectrum, tend toward hyper-sexuality and outbursts of violence.... Previous research has shown that most children who show psychopathic tendencies don’t want to participate in group activities, are disruptive, and show little regard for the emotions of their peers. In this study, researchers showed that boys with such tendencies said they didn’t want to laugh when others did. Brain scans showed that the sounds of laughter had less of a neurological response than in other children...."

From "Kids Who Don’t Do This Might Grow up to Be Psychopaths, Researchers Find."

"Real octopi are sea creatures, of course. But the Cartographic Land Octopus - CLO for short - need not worry about being in the right ecosphere."

"Being fictional, it is not restricted to the sea. It can (and need) do only one thing: instil map-readers with fear and revulsion.... The Cartographic Land Octopus was born two-thirds into the 19th century, when the intra-European tensions were slowly gearing up towards the First World War; it flourished until the end of the Second World War. But it still maintains its grip on the cartographic imagination today, as will be shown towards the end of this concise timeline of CLO cartoons...."

From "Cartography’s Favourite Map Monster: the Land Octopus," which has lots of great illustrations. My favorite is this — "Recognize the Danger":

(I ran into that article after encountering a misplaced octopus in a Maureen Dowd column, which I wrote about here.)

"At a fund-raiser for the president at his Westport, Conn., estate Monday night, Harvey Weinstein spoke in a softly lit room shimmering with pink dahlias, gold Oscars, silvery celebrities and black American Express cards."

Wrote Maureen Dowd in August 2012, in a column I'm reading because in my previous post, about Dowd's current column, I observed that Dowd had been writing about the movie business for a long time and wondered whether she'd ever gone after Weinstein. She quoted somebody calling Weinstein a "master" at avoiding bad press by "giving to liberal causes."

So let's see what press Dowd gave Weinstein in the heat of the 2012 presidential election. That column — which begins with the sentence I've used as the post title — continues:
“You can make the case,” Weinstein said of Barack Obama, “that he’s the Paul Newman of American presidents.”...
Paul Newman, Dowd explains, was aloof
[T]he president does not think people should expect too much in return for paying $35,800 for an hour of his time, as they did at the Weinstein affair, or in return for other favors....

“[Obama] realized that he could stir crowds while also thinking to himself that it was all a game and posturing,” [said David Maraniss, author of “Barack Obama: The Story"]. “He is always removed and participating at the same time, self-conscious and without the visceral need or love of transactional politics that would characterize Bill Clinton or L.B.J. or even W., in a way.”...

“His [will] is cool and [Bill] Clinton’s is hot, but they burn at the same temperature inside,” [Maraniss] said. “So he does some of what he finds distasteful, but not all of it, and not all of it very well.”
By the way, 60 guests paid $35,800 for the dinner at Harvey's.

There's not a whiff of negativity about Weinstein in this old column, which is about Obama's cool lack of interest in being "a glad-handing pol." The phrase "a glad-handing pol" seems to relate more to going out among the common people. At Harvey's, Obama was ensconced with the beautiful elite. I have to go to a different NYT article for this:
Among the guests were Anne Hathaway, who played Catwoman in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the new Batman film; Jerry Springer, the talk show host; Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine; Joanne Woodward, the actress and widow of Paul Newman; Aaron Sorkin, creator of television shows like “The Newsroom” and “The West Wing”; and Gov. Daniel [sic] P. Malloy of Connecticut.

Mr. Obama made sure to single out Ms. Hathaway, who was wearing “a silver dress with puffed sleeves gathered from the elbow to the shoulder, and a tight bodice,” according to a pool report by Dave Boyer of The Washington Times. “She’s spectacular,” Mr. Obama said....
ADDED: Other old Weinstein mentions by Dowd:

From  November 2015: "The Women of Hollywood Speak Out/Female executives and filmmakers are ready to run studios and direct blockbuster pictures. What will it take to dismantle the pervasive sexism that keeps them from doing it?"
In her black-and-cream miniskirt and black Balenciaga hightops, [Leslye] Headland was a magnetic presence with a throaty voice and a booming laugh. She had a Nicki Minaj ring tone, ‘‘Truffle Butter,’’ and several movie tattoos: ‘‘redrum’’ from ‘‘The Shining’’ on her lower back; a line from ‘‘War Games’’ — ‘‘The only winning move is to not play’’ — on her left forearm; ‘‘How would Lubitsch do it?’’ in script on her right. Harvey Weinstein, for whom Headland worked as a receptionist and assistant, calls her ‘‘wildly talented.’’
From December 1998, "Liberties; Icon and I Will Survive":
The President's head is on the block, and the First Lady has never looked more radiant. As her husband gets dragged through the mud by bone-headed Republicans, she glows. She looks as if she's traveling with her own pink baby spotlight.

Here she is on the cover of Vogue, looking Hallmark happy and Hollywood glamorous. Here she is making the flashbulbs pop, with Harvey Weinstein and Gwyneth Paltrow at the New York premiere of Miramax's ''Shakespeare in Love.''...

Last Thursday she repaid the generosity of Mr. Weinstein, the co-chairman of Miramax who is a big contributor to Clinton campaigns and the Clinton legal defense fund. As Alex Kuczynski reported in The Times, the First Lady went to Mr. Weinstein's premiere and spoke in praise of ''my friend Harvey.'' Sounding very Tina Brownish, Mrs. Clinton raved about ''the buzz'' around Miramax, and said the company ''has done a great service.''...

"The fundamental predatory nature of Hollywood is young, attractive people — largely females — putting themselves in front of men to be judged and appraised and chosen."

"It is a dark equation. From the moment the proverbial girl gets off the bus, the odds are stacked against her. In Hollywood, unlike at other Fortune 500 companies, the one-on-one meetings take place in hotel suites and bars. It’s an exploitative and oddly personal process."

Said Janice Min, the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter (who also describes a media event that took place last April at which Barack Obama gives a speech and, immediately afterwards, "amid rapturous applause," walks "right over to Harvey Weinstein and gives Harvey a hug").

Quoted in "Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood’s Oldest Horror Story," by Maureen Dowd (NYT).

5 more things about this Dowd column:

1. She follows the now-standard script of dragging Trump into the story, but she keeps that scene short. She merely sticks a "Like Trump" onto the front end of one sentence about Weinstein:
Like Trump, that other self-professed predator, there were complaints that in business deals he stiffed people on bills (advertising and public relations payments), and he had a reputation for lying, cheating, taking advantage, acting like a thug.
2. She doesn't otherwise talk about the political world, except to pass along Min's idea that Weinstein was "a master at protecting himself... by the veneer of power he cultivated, by giving to liberal causes and cultivating friends in the media and politics." Here, another name is stuck in: "just as Hugh Hefner was."

3. There's something a little sleazy about slipping in other names — Trump and Hefner — without specifying the points of comparison. The charges against Weinstein are so awful, that this "like X" style of writing flaunts unfairness.

4. And note the unopened door: Calling Weinstein "a master at protecting himself... by giving to liberal causes and cultivating friends in the media and politics" makes it sound as though he was a genius and ignores the lameness of the journalists in allowing this obvious and simple ruse to give him cover. Shine some light on the weakness of your own profession, Ms. Dowd. You've been writing very extensively about the movie business for years. Why didn't you go after Weinstein? Were you and your colleagues bought off by his generosity to causes that you like?

5. Dowd often does clever things with language, but some of her efforts are strained, and sometimes an idea just does not work and should be abandoned:
He relished the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands,” given to him by filmmakers who did not like his domination in the editing room. But the nickname could work just as well for his octopus ways with women, which resulted in lots of hush money being paid out.
You just can't merge "octopus ways" with Scissorhands when you're talking about a man approaching a woman's body. Scissorhands cut and even if the cut is skillful, the presence of blades near vulnerable flesh is dangerous (erotically so, in the movie):

The octopus has soft suctioning parts, nothing like scissors, as most memorably depicted in the 1814 Hokusai woodcut print "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife":

These Scissorhands and octopus images are presented (by male artists) as powerfully erotic from the woman's point of view, but the eroticism is distinctly different and it doesn't helpfully connect up film editing with paying hush money. It's funny that Dowd was writing about editing when she let a stray octopus into that paragraph.

October 14, 2017

How to use art: Enjoy. Interact. Respect.


I'm not sure if that's the instructions in general for what to do with art. It's on the base of this new University of Wisconsin sculpture, which I see is titled "Well Red":


I'd interpret the sign to mean: Feel free to sit on this sculpture's lap, but no funny business.

"Hollywood’s de facto governing body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to 'immediately expel' Harvey Weinstein..."

"... breaking with 90 years of precedent and turning one of the biggest Oscar players in history into a hall-of-fame pariah. The academy’s 54-member board of governors made the decision at an emergency session after investigations by The New York Times and The New Yorker that revealed sexual harassment and rape allegations against him going back decades...."

The NYT reports.

The Board sought distance from the monster:
“We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society.”
But that doesn't mean there are not other monsters. Getting rid of the one who's been outed doesn't send a message that you'll do anything about sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in your industry that hasn't been the subject of a big exposé. You'll have to do a lot more to convince me that the "era... is over." Message not yet received.

As the NYT points out, Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby are still members of the Academy.

One member of the Academy's board, Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy "told fellow board members that she was outraged by the allegations... [but] was also said to be aware that pushing him out could put the academy on a slippery slope."

If the slope is slippery, the era is not over.

At the Certainty-and-Doubt Café...


... you can talk about anything you like, however certain or doubtful.

The photograph was taken at this exhibition at the Chazen Museum here in Madison.

Please resolve any shopping uncertainties in favor of using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Harvey Weinstein's brother says he was a victim of Harvey's abuse too, but he knows he can't expect any sympathy.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:
I was also the object of a lot of his verbal abuse — at one time physical abuse. And I am not looking for one bit of sympathy from anyone. I do not put myself in the category at all of those women that he hurt. But it's a complicated situation when it's your brother doing the abusing to you as well. I saw it and I asked him to get help for many years. And that's the truth. He avoided getting the help. We begged him.

This hurts, but I don't feel an ounce of remorse coming from him, and that kills me too. When I heard his written, lame excuse… Not an excuse. When I heard his admission of feeling remorse for the victims and then him cavalierly, almost crazily saying he was going to go out and take on the NRA, it was so disturbing to me. It was utter insanity. My daughters all felt sick hearing this because we understood he felt nothing. I don't feel he feels anything to this day. I don't.

Reading Hillary's book, Part 1: "mustered."

I wasn't going to buy Hillary Clinton's new book — "What Happened" — because I did not want to read it. And if you're thinking Althouse is going to read it, so we don't have to you're wrong. I'm not going to read it. But I am going to blog it. I bought it because Meade asked me to put it in our Kindle  account, because — a propos of the Harvey Weinstein exposé — he had some search terms to apply to the text.

Now, Meade is doing something with the text that I'll call proto-blogging: He reads and speaks aloud the kinds of thoughts I might have if I were doing the reading. And that might get me to something I want to put in writing here on the blog. You'll just have to imagine the Meadhouse interplay that precedes the posts in this series. I'll just say he's the one who's kind-of/sort-of reading the book, we have conversations, and I dip into the text to get things to spin out for this new series.

So Meade is going to almost read it, so Althouse doesn't have to, so you don't have to. But it will be prime stuff. Nothing is blogged here unless I think it's blogworthy. Everything in this series is 100% guaranteed interesting. To me.

I've heard it said that the first maybe 100 pages of the book is a pretty good read, but after that it gets boring. I don't know if that's true, but I have found evidence that the first chunk of the book had a different author (or editor) than the rest of the book. The evidence is the word "muster," which I used to find a section of the text Meade and I were talking about, a section about Hillary's decision to show up for the swearing-in of Donald Trump. The passage in question ended with:
That’s how I ended up right inside the door of the Capitol on January 20, waiting to be announced. It had been such a long journey to get here. Now I just had to take a few more steps. I took Bill’s arm and squeezed it, grateful to have him by my side. I took a deep breath and walked out the door with as big a smile as could muster.
We were making various jokes — such as interjecting "I didn't inhale" after "I took a deep breath" — and got to talking about the word "muster" — which I said was like "garner." (I first blogged my objection to "garner" here.)

I wanted to blog various things about the Trump inauguration scene, and to get to the text, I searched for the word "muster." It was a good search term because I remembered it from our conversation, and it's unusual enough not to be likely to appear too many times in the text. Here are the results of the search:
The word appears 4 times in the book, and all 4 are in the first 100 pages. I don't have the kind of sophisticated software that can be used to detect whether various texts are written by the same author, but I think such software looks for many examples like this. I'm just entertaining the hypothesis that someone was involved in writing of the first 100 pages who did not work on the rest of the book.

Also, I'd like to say that "muster" is a rather silly word, though its true silliness only emerges when you use the past tense and create the homophone with "mustard." (If you did the Thursday NYT crossword this week, you might have enjoyed or groaned over the use of this homophone at 16 Across.) But "muster" is an okay word. I've used it 4 or 5 times in the 50,000+ posts on this blog, but I don't like to see it coming up 4 times in 100 pages. That's over reliance on a distracting word that could be replaced by words you would be more likely to use in conversational speech, like "pull up" or "bring together."

There's a phoniness to "muster" when someone uses it to convey how it feels to draw upon your inner resources to do something you need to do. In the above-quoted example, Hillary "walked out the door with as big a smile as could muster." Later, on page 41, she's talking about another loss, not to Donald Trump but to Barack Obama:
By the end, he led in the all-important delegate count, but our popular vote totals were less than one-tenth of a percent apart. That made it all the more painful to accept defeat and muster up the good cheer to campaign vigorously for him.
Again, the word is used in the context of holding back negativity and putting on a game face. The phony-sounding word aptly expresses her being genuinely phony on those 2 occasions.

On page 32, there's:
I prayed that my worst fears about Donald Trump wouldn’t be realized, and that people’s lives and America’s future would be made better, not worse, during his presidency. I’m still praying on that one, and I can use all the backup you can muster.
That seems to say: Yeah, I know this reference to prayer is bullshit. If she really believed in prayer as a defense against Trump at his worst or even just thought her readers took prayer seriously, I think she would have said something more like: and I hope you are praying too. Or: and I know many of you pray that God will give our president wisdom and good judgment. (And I don't like saying she "can use all the backup" as if she's the prayer leader and we're behind her.)

Finally, on page 92, we get the last "muster" in the book, and it's in one of these goofball girly passages:
Someone once asked what we talked about on long flights. “Food!” we chorused. It’s funny how much you look forward to the next meal when you’re living out of a suitcase. In 2008, we often relied on junk food to see us through; I remember a lot of pizza with sliced jalapeños delivered right to the plane. This time I was determined that we would all be healthier. I asked friends for good on-the-go snack recommendations. A few days later, shipments of canned salmon, as well as Quest and Kind protein bars, arrived at my house, which we lugged onto the plane in canvas totes. When the Quest bars got cold, they were too hard to eat, so we sat on them for a few minutes to warm them up, with as much dignity as one can muster at such a moment.
This is the best use of "muster" in the book, because she's describing something silly: sitting on her food to warm it up. And the thing being mustered — dignity — is supposed to be funny. There's no dignity in using your ass as a makeshift microwave.

By the way, "muster" comes from the Middle French word "monstrer" which means "to show," which is the same source for "demonstrate," which is a much better word, that is, a word you can use in casual conversation without seeming weird.

"Some Girl Scout badges promote stereotypical notions of femininity. Many are about helping others."

"Even the flowers badge asks girls to 'find out how flowers help people.' There’s also a focus on appearance. The independence badge, for 'striding down your path to changing the world,' includes learning how to 'make your clothes look great.' The 'eating for you' badge — recently called 'eating for beauty' — emphasizes how nutrition helps with 'smooth skin, shiny hair and strong nails.' The Scout Law for [Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts] includes similar virtues, like being honest, helpful and friendly. But girls might be better off, too, if more boys earned badges like those from the Girl Scouts for respect and fair play, and for taking responsibility for their actions, not to mention babysitting and making dinner. In that spirit, here are 10 Girl Scout badges that might benefit Boy Scouts...."

From "Things Boys Could Learn at Girl Scouts" (NYT).

"The movie industry I’ve known for the past 30 years... is reconstituting itself in my mind this week like pieces of a broken mirror being glued back in place..."

"... the cracks now forever visible," writes Dana Stevens (at Slate), who's been writing about movies for something like a decade, yet claims she "truly didn't" know "any of the more sordid Weinstein rumors." (Did she know any of the less sordid rumors? She does "guiltily question" whether she should have picked up some clues and could have dug into them.)

In this metaphorical reglued broken mirror in her mind, Stevens sees:
Gwyneth Paltrow holding her Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, standing beaming next to the man whose hotel suite she had to escape from a few years earlier after he invited her to the bedroom for a massage.... Or Mira Sorvino getting her Oscar for Mighty Aphrodite and then mysteriously—or perhaps not so mysteriously anymore—fading from the screen. Or Rosanna Arquette never going on to the career she deserved....
But the linked column doesn't go where I would take it. When I saw the headline at Slate — "The Harvey Weinstein Scandal Is Changing How I Look at the Movies" — I thought it going to say what I've been saying: Because movies are shot through with human exploitation, we should withhold our patronage. These big expensive projects create immense power that is used to grind up young women, and we should not want to expose our mind to this material. If you need stories about human beings, read. A writer of books works alone (mostly) and uses words to create images of beautiful women and other human beings who do and say interesting, meaningful things. No actors needed.

But Stevens has no plan to redirect her consumption of stories. Well, her job is movie critic, so she can't just say no, can she?

October 13, 2017

"Of all the world’s storied thoroughfares, it must be confessed that none produces quite the effect of Hollywood Boulevard."

"I have been downcast in Piccadilly, chopfallen on the Champs Elysées, and doloroso on the Via Veneto, but the avenues themselves were blameless. Hollywood Boulevard, on the contrary, creates an instant and malignant impression in the breast of the beholder. Viewed in full sunlight, its tawdriness is unspeakable; in the torrential downpour of the rainy season, as we first saw it, it inspired an anguish similar to that produced by the engravings of Piranesi."

S.J. Perelman.

"There’s a lot of abuse in this town. Young actresses are mistreated in all sorts of ways by powerful men..."

"... who can dangle jobs or access to exciting parts of show business. I think a lot of people are mistreated and they don’t realize how badly they’re being mistreated.... People do not want to put their livelihoods at risk... That’s why people like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby get to operate like this for so many decades. The people around them — executives, assistants, drivers — they don’t want to risk everything."

Said producer and director Judd Apatow.

"Everyone knew [about Weinstein’s alleged behavior], just as they know about other high-profile people with power in the industry who get away with the exact same things. This is far-reaching, it is endemic, and we have to believe that the toppling of this mogul will lead to the toppling of others…. This is a bigger issue than taking down one person."

Said Kelly Marcel (a female screenwriter and producer).

(L.A. Times.)

Meanwhile, Rose McGowan has blown off the nondisclosure agreement and is saying that Harvey Weinstein raped her.
In a Twitter thread posted Thursday afternoon, addressed to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, McGowan said, “I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. Over & over I said it.”...

(She is reported to be the anonymous actress who pulled out of Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker story, telling him, “The legal angle is coming at me and I have no recourse.”) This week, McGowan asked if she’s “allowed to say rapist,” and in October 2016, she said she was raped by a studio executive. McGowan’s tweets come just after her account was suspended by Twitter Wednesday night.

"The show isn’t afraid to go dark; death is a fact of life, as Springsteen acknowledges..."

"... when he recounts narrowly slipping out of the Vietnam War draft and wonders who might’ve gone in his stead."

From New York Magazine's very positive review of Bruce Springsteen's Broadway show "On Broadway."

He "acknowledges" that "death is a fact of life" when he tells about "narrowly slipping out of the Vietnam War draft"? Springsteen avoided the draft — I'm reading here — by failing the physical "largely due to his deliberately 'crazy' behavior and a concussion previously suffered in a motorcycle accident."

I don't see that as acknowledging that "death is a fact of life." It's more of an acknowledgment that selfishness is a fact of life. But that is credibly called "dark," and it does take some courage to admit to something you did in the past that could be seen as a failure of courage.

ADDED: From the NYT review:
But now, entire swaths of the Walter Kerr Theater, apparently unmindful of downbeat lyrics like “I ain’t nothing but tired,” started clapping along to “Dancing in the Dark,” Mr. Springsteen’s biggest hit, from 1984.

He stopped cold. “I’ll handle it myself,” he said, shutting them down with a small, sharky glint of a smile....
Ha. Great.

"If someone were to look at your entire social media feed, including links and retweets, would they have doubts about your ability to cover news events in a fair and impartial way?"

From "Social Media Guidelines for The Times Newsroom" (NYT).

• In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.

• Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.

"President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage..."

Politico reports.
“Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare,” [Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders] said. “In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments. …The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.”...

While Republican lawmakers complained the subsidies were never properly appropriated by Congress, many were wary of ending them suddenly....

"It's time for Congress to fix this bill. That's what needs to happen. Congress has got to get together," [Attorney General Jeff Sessions] said. "Republicans and the Democrats, they've got to come on board and they've got to develop a plan that will actually work. It can not continue in this fashion. It's in a death spiral it seems to me."
Trump is carrying on the Obama tradition of doing everything in the Executive Branch. The complaints should be directed at Congress.

"I'm a believer that you wait until this thing gets to trial. I believe a man shouldn't be condemned by a vigilante system."

"It's not easy what he's going through, either. During that period he was a rival. I never did business with him and didn't really know him. I've heard horror stories on everyone in the business, so I'm not going to comment on gossip. I'll wait and see, which is the right thing to do."

Said Oliver Stone.

I agree on due process and not turning into a lynch mob, but horror stories on everyone in the business? Tell me more. Do you mean that cheap allegations are everywhere or sexual harassment is pervasive?

"[T]his is a real horse and it has been bred to meet the demands of a particular market that likes a particular appearance."

“Where will it end? Is it really so bad for a horse to look like a horse and not a cartoon character?" (UK Telegraph).
The farm described the horse as a step towards ‘perfection’, but equine experts warned the animal may find it difficult to breathe and exercise with such a flattened nose.

UK equine expert Tim Greet of Rossdales Veterinary Service, in Newmarket, said although Arabians were known for their ‘dished’ features, the new colt ‘takes things to a ridiculous level,’ and said the deformity could be even worse for a horse than for a dog.
Notice the effort to distinguish horses and dogs. Clearly, many of us accept the extremes of dog breeding.

Extreme breeding of horses and dogs is...
pollcode.com free polls

"TMZ is privy to Weinstein's 2015 employment contract, which says if he gets sued for sexual harassment or any other 'misconduct' that results in a settlement or judgment against TWC..."

"... all Weinstein has to do is pay what the company's out, along with a fine, and he's in the clear," says TMZ without providing the entire text of the contract.

Notice the focus there is on the use of corporate funds:
According to the contract, if Weinstein "treated someone improperly in violation of the company's Code of Conduct," he must reimburse TWC for settlements or judgments. Additionally, "You [Weinstein] will pay the company liquidated damages of $250,000 for the first such instance, $500,000 for the second such instance, $750,000 for the third such instance, and $1,000,000 for each additional instance."
But we're also told — without enough text from the contract:
The contract says as long as Weinstein pays, it constitutes a "cure" for the misconduct and no further action can be taken. Translation -- Weinstein could be sued over and over and as long as he wrote a check, he keeps his job.
I'd like to see the text there. I can't believe the corporation would put its knowledge and facilitation of an illegal scheme into the text.

We're also told that the text provides that "a material fraud against the company" is a firing offense, so it seems that Weinstein — as he (and his lawyers) pressured the company not to fire him — must have said that the scheme was well known, so there was no fraud. It's easier to imagine behind-the-scenes negotiations in these terms than actually going to court with such arguments, but just as Weinstein settled with his accusers, he was a deal-maker, not a litigator. As for the board, they have to worry that they have spiraling liabilities now. What they owe or don't owe Weinstein seems to be the least of it. We saw board members suddenly resigning last week, which might just have been to make it look as though they were shocked, shocked to learn what Weinstein was up to. But if the contract is what TMZ makes it sound like, then didn't they know all along?

Again, I'm not seeing the whole text of the contract, and I'd like to know a lot more about how the different terms fit together, but it's really hard to understand why this thing was written like that. I suppose it could be argued that Weinstein needed protection from false accusations (and perhaps there was a background understanding that there would inevitably be many disappointed supplicants for his favor and it's predictable that some would take revenge with accusations about sexual things that happen when they were alone with him).

"For Nationals, a crazy night ends with anguish and a season-ending loss to Cubs."

WaPo headline. (Am I being too pedantic if I complain about "season-ending"?)
Four straight Cubs reached base in unconventional ways, some known only to true baseball seam heads — an intentional walk, a strikeout with a passed ball (about which there was some controversy), catcher interference and a hit batsman. The website baseball-reference.com has 2.73 million half-innings in its database. None of them contain those four events — let alone from four consecutive hitters.
“That was probably one of the weirdest innings I’ve ever seen,” Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said.

Also in WaPo: "All defeats are not created equal. For Nats, this one is a special kind of painful."
[I]n the new world of baseball challenges and replays, doing things that would have been satisfactory since the 19th century is no longer good enough. Lobaton’s foot came off the base for an instant. The Cubs challenged. And he was ruled “out” after the crowd of 43,849 waited in agony for 96 seconds.

“I thought I was safe. I didn’t know my foot came off,” said Lobaton, adding later, “That’s baseball. You got to win. You got to lose. And you got to take it.”

For now, “and you got to take it” may have to be the Nationals motto after six seasons with the talent to contend for a World Series spot, but not even one year in the National League Championship Series....

"Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?"

Asks a headline for a long NYT Magazine article.

From the comments there, here are 4 answers:

1. "The bar to get into a top college has been raised so high it requires our children to perform Herculean feats before they are even adults."

2. "Let's face the truth--Social media is toxic. Possession of smart phones should be illegal under 21 years of age."

3. "How much of this correlates with the rather recent development that middle class children go nowhere without an adult nearby until they are teenagers?"

4. "The economic security and growing prosperity Americans used to enjoy has disappeared."

What's the best answer? (You can pick multiple answers, but don't pick all 4 or there's no point in voting.)
pollcode.com free polls

Husband, 70, and wife, 65, trapped by the wildfire, survive by getting in a swimming pool (and freezing for 6 hours).

They waited as long as they could before getting in the water: "As they stood at the edge of the pool, the neighbors’ house caught fire. A big tree next to the pool went up in flames. The railroad ties framing the concrete steps leading to the pool ignited."
They submerged themselves in the blackened, debris-filled water. They had grabbed T-shirts to hold over their faces to protect themselves from embers when they surfaced for air. They moved to the part of the pool farthest from the house. John was worried about having to tread water, or hanging on to the side, which could be dangerous with all the burning objects flying around. Blessedly, the pool had no deep end. It was about 4 feet deep all the way across. To stay warm, they held each other. They stood back to back. They spoke about their deep love for each other and their family.
Fabulous. Beautiful. But they should have evacuated sooner! They got into bed for the night when they knew the fire was only 11 miles away. Their daughter in San Francisco had called to urge them to evacuate, but all they did was put some valuables — including 2 carefully wrapped Dale Chihuly bowls — in the truck.  When the fire arrived, they had no path to drive the truck out (though they tried, with not just the truck but a Mercedes-Benz car).

The whole neighborhood burned down, including their house, which was the kind of house you'd invent if you were writing a fictional story of an old couple stuck in this predicament:
Their mountaintop home was built like a boat with small rooms on 11 levels. It was filled with dozens of John’s paintings. Each room was designed to remind them of places they’d encountered during their travels. One had tatami mats, an idea from a restaurant in Bangkok. Their bedroom was inspired by a house they’d rented on Thailand’s Ko Samui Island. Their expansive decks, the site of countless parties over nearly four decades, offered spectacular views of the hills.
Maybe some movie company can rebuild the house for them, exactly as it was, film a movie about their story in it, and then give it to them. It would have to be on a different mountain though.

October 12, 2017

At the Thinker Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

The photo shows the most popular sculpture in the new Alumni Park (at the Memorial Union at the University of Wisconsin). I know there have been a lot of protests about statues lately, but hopefully Bucky won't raise any hackles.

While you're here, please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Sorry the photo isn't better. It's very hard to get a chance to photograph the statue without people sitting on it, doing their me-and-Bucky photos. The other day I was looking closely at Bucky's backpack, trying to figure out why it has hinges on one side and a lock on there other — is it a time capsule? — and some lady told me I needed to move because I was standing within the frame of a photograph that needed to be taken by someone who'd waited in line to pose their children on the badger's lap.

"With these actions... we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market..."

"... and taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare... This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for... and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care."

Said President Trump, quoted in "Foiled in Congress, Trump Signs Order to Undermine Obamacare" (NYT).
Mr. Trump directed three cabinet agencies to develop rules that would expand access to less expensive, less comprehensive insurance, including policies that could be sold by trade associations to their members and short-term medical coverage that could be offered by commercial insurers to individuals and families....

Mr. Trump’s order could eventually make it easier for small businesses to band together and buy insurance through new entities known as association health plans, which could be created by business and professional groups. A White House official said these health plans “could potentially allow American employers to form groups across state lines” — a goal championed by Mr. Trump and many other Republicans.

"The Boy Scouts’ decision to open its ranks to girls appears to be less an evolution toward openness and inclusion than a calculated business strategy."

"The move allows the organization, which has been rocked by revelations of decades of sexual abuse, to improve its public image.... Most crucially, it’s a direct attack on the Girl Scouts, a group that shares some historical roots with the Boy Scouts but has grown into a very different organization, with very different values. Unlike the Boy Scouts, in which individual troops are overwhelmingly affiliated with churches — a large share are tied to conservative denominations; an estimated 20 percent of scouts are Mormon, for instance — the Girl Scouts are a secular organization.... The Girl Scouts have long focused on social justice, diversity and inclusion in their activities...."

From a NYT op-ed titled "Girls, Don’t Become Boy Scouts," by Kate Tuttle.

If I were a young girl, I'd pick the organization that had activities that were fun and useful for me to learn, and "social justice, diversity and inclusion" doesn't even sound like an activity.

Arctic foxes are great... even before they attack the camera.

"How Top NBC Executives Quashed The Bombshell Harvey Weinstein Story."

From HuffPo:
At an NBC News town hall Wednesday, NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said: “The notion that we would try to cover for a powerful person is deeply offensive to all of us. We were on that long list of places that chased this thing, tried to nail it, but weren’t ultimately the ones who broke it.”

Then he struck a rueful tone, suggesting that the NBC iteration of the story had died of natural causes. “We reached a point over the summer where we, as an organization, didn’t feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air,” he said.

Yet interviews with 12 people inside and outside NBC News with direct knowledge of the reporting behind Farrow’s story suggest a different cause of death. All of the sources who spoke to HuffPost asked not to be named, either because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media about the story or because they were fearful of retribution from NBC News executives. These sources detailed a months-long struggle within NBC News during which Oppenheim and other executives slow-walked Farrow’s story, crippling it with their qualms and irresolution....

"A CNN investigation of a Russian-linked account shows its tentacles extended to YouTube, Tumblr and even Pokémon Go."

CNN reports.
The campaign, titled "Don't Shoot Us," offers new insights into how Russian agents created a broad online ecosystem where divisive political messages were reinforced across multiple platforms...

The Don't Shoot Us campaign... used these platforms to highlight incidents of alleged police brutality, with what may have been the dual goal of galvanizing African Americans to protest and encouraging other Americans to view black activism as a rising threat....

Specifically, the Don't Shoot Us contest directed readers to go to find and train Pokémon near locations where alleged incidents of police brutality had taken place. Users were instructed to give their Pokémon names corresponding with those of the victims.... It's unclear what the people behind the contest hoped to accomplish....
Okay. Well, tentacles sound really scary...