July 27, 2017

The most embarrassing thing about this CBS News puff piece isn't that it proclaims that "Hillary Clinton lets her 'guard down'" based on nothing more than that...

... the Introduction to her new memoir makes the statement "Now I'm letting my guard down."

If NBC News cared about factual reporting, it would say "Hillary Clinton Claims She Is "Letting [Her] Guard Down' in Her New Memoir." Most of us won't believe that, and NBC must know that, so why would it ludicrously tout the book as if someone at NBC had read the book and found it revealing and forthcoming?

But the most embarrassing thing in that NBC news article is in the third paragraph. Did you notice? Let me close in on it:

They called it a "novel"!

Ironically, that's more believable than the idea that she's letting her guard down.

By the way, the book is called "What Happened." No question mark. You're supposed to read that title in a flat just-the-facts tone of voice. Not in a comical what-the-hell-just-happened? way.

At the Purple Café...


... you can talk while I go air myself out.

And please — I know it's weird after that last post — use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

Bezos just became richer than Gates.

He's now the richest person in the world, the NYT reports.
Forbes now estimates the wealth of Mr. Bezos, currently Amazon’s chief executive, at about $90.6 billion, compared with $90 billion for Mr. Gates.

Mr. Bezos has added tens of billions of dollars in wealth — at least on paper — over the last year as Amazon shares surged more than 40 percent during that time period....

According to a filing with securities regulators in April, Mr. Bezos holds nearly 81 million shares of Amazon — almost 17 percent of the company. Forbes also estimates the value of his other investments — including his ownership of The Washington Post and the rocket company Blue Origin — and cash from the sale of securities as part of its wealth calculations....
In this light, what explains the pay wall at The Washington Post? Isn't owning that, for him, something to do to influence what people think? Why make it harder to read? Ah, if I understood stuff like that, I'd be wealthier myself. I'm going to assume he's one of those people who are excited about money as money and love bigness as bigness. How big can it get? It's an orientation.

"The elders — who effectively served as the family’s 'panchayat,' or village council — decided that justice should be served as revenge."

"They instructed the victim’s brother, who is also about 16, to rape the teenage sister of the attacker in return for his crime, Ahsan Younis, head of the Multan city police, told The Washington Post."
So the 16-year-old brother followed suit, assaulting the teenage girl in his family’s home and effectively carrying out what Younis called a “revenge rape.”

Two rapes, within two days, all in one extended family. It turns out the first assailant’s father is a brother of the second assailant’s grandfather....

Authorities ordered the arrests of 29 people — all members of the extended family.... Family members admitted to police that the second rape was ordered as retaliation for the first one. But they asserted that the decision was a consensual one between the two families.

The "aggressive thrill ride" — The Fire Ball — breaks in mid-swing, riders topple out, and at least one person dies.

Here are search results from which you can choose a story/video.

This happened at the Ohio State Fair.

The death of Rocky the Squirrel (and Natasha of Boris and Natasha).

Did you know June Foray?

"June Foray, the last of the great old voice actors, has passed away at the age of 99...."

"There are thousands of transgender people already serving among the 1.3 million active-duty members of the military."

"These are people who have volunteered their service and have potentially put their lives on the line, and yet their President, who managed to come up with a flimsy doctor’s note back in the day, denies them their dignity, their equality. He will not 'accept or allow' them in the military. Imagine the scale of this insult.... When you begin to consider the meanness of what Trump has done, it is worth remembering him saying that he was 'smarter' than the generals on military matters, and that he mocked John McCain’s service in Vietnam because 'I like people who weren’t captured.' When you begin to think about the scale of this offense, it is worth remembering Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who lost a son in Iraq, addressing Trump directly from the lectern of the Democratic National Convention: 'You have sacrificed nothing and no one.'"

From "The Cruelty and Cynicism of Trump’s Transgender Ban/The President’s tweets are a naked attempt to divert attention from his scandals," by David Remnick (in The New Yorker).

ADDED: Look how positive Trump was to LGBT rights when he was campaigning:

A lefty buzzword has become Scaramucci's "favorite" word, and the Columbia Journalism Review endeavors to explain it to us.

Do you know the word? Had you noticed Scaramucci relying excessively on any particular word )or words)?

The word is "binary."

Now, when I first saw — in "The meaning behind Scaramucci’s favorite word" — that the word was "binary," I thought it must be that Scaramucci is using it to destablize a question. Some interviewer tries to pin him down, and he distances himself from the question by calling it "binary." Actually, the issue is complex and multifaceted. And then he can explain why and work his way toward something he is willing to say.

But, no. Scaramucci uses the word like this:
“Tomorrow I’m going to have a staff meeting,” he said on the CBS program Face the Nation. “And it’s going to be a very binary thing.…If they want to stay on the staff, they’re going to stop leaking.” A few seconds later, he said, “But if you’re going to keep leaking, I’m going to fire everybody. It’s just very binary.”
He's not using the word to inject complexity. He's the one imposing the clarity. Either you're with us or you're against us. 

I associate the word with the left because, as Columbia Journalism Review puts it:
[R]ecently, “binary” has been applied to gender, with the traditional view being that biological sex is binary, only male or female. Many people, though, identify themselves as “nonbinary,” meaning they don’t think of themselves as either male or female, or as only male or female, and the concept of the “gender binary” is often questioned.
Searching this blog's archive, I'm seeing the word used in various things I've quoted. For example, in March 2015, I quoted a Slate writer who said:
Dividing the world into males and female is such a big part of the culture that it can seem impossible, and perhaps even aggravating, to try to think outside those categories. This is not only a problem for squares stuck in a binary way of thinking — many of the terms associated with genderqueerness end up referring back to masculinity or femininity in some way, which is a bit tricky if the ideal is to move beyond the gender binary entirely.
But just a couple weeks ago, "binary" came up in the context of good and evil. I quoted the Wikipedia entry for "Goofus and Gallant":
Philosopher Theodore Sider used the characters [Goofus and Gallant] in an argument against the notion of a binary Heaven or Hell conception of the afterlife. Sider conceived of Goofus and Gallant as near-equals, with Gallant only marginally better than Goofus, in arguing that sending the former to Heaven and the latter to Hell is antithetical to God's justice.
So the word has been used, I observe, to disparage those who see things simplistically in black and white. Sophisticated people are not stuck in a binary way of thinking.

And now, here comes Scaramucci. He may have put some sophisticated thought into what he's doing, but as he delivers the message, he's out-and-proud binary. Very binary.


Scaramucci used "very" with "binary" both times in that quote at the top of the post. If you're the kind of usage stickler who frowns at "very unique," you should see the problem with "very binary." You shouldn't say "very unique," because "unique" already means only one. There's no way to be more one than some other one. The same goes for "binary." It means exactly two. Just as there's no way to be more one than one, there's no way to be more two than two.

But I see the argument on the other side. When we speak of people who have a binary way of thinking, we mean that they have a tendency to think in terms of opposites that seem clearly distinct to them. The strength of the tendency can vary. Scaramucci would like us to think that he is a binary thinker of the most intense sort. I'm the kind of person who imagines that he probably has nonbinary reasons for wanting us to think that's how he operates. There's some 3-dimensional chess in there, won't you agree?

July 26, 2017

At the Revery Café...


... you can talk all night.

And maybe you have some shopping to do — a Bob Marley album, some new Nine Inch Nails, the greatest album by a woman, a book about the wild horses of Sable Island, or men's pajamas with a rubber-ducky pattern — so please use those links or The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"Because of Bob’s mixed blood, he was often teased as 'the little yellow boy' or 'the German boy.' He was described as shy, resourceful, and clever."

"In 1957, Marley and his mother moved to Kingston, settling in a dense, ramshackle neighborhood referred to as Trench Town. Marley fell in with a crowd that dreamed of making music. He formed a group with Neville (Bunny Wailer) Livingston, Peter Tosh, Beverley Kelso, and Junior Braithwaite. They eventually called themselves the Wailers, and their sound fused American-style soul harmonies with the island’s jumpy ska rhythms. Under the guidance of Joe Higgs, a singer and producer, the Wailers were a local sensation by the mid-sixties. But island stardom brought little financial security. After moving briefly to Wilmington, Delaware, where his mother had relocated, Marley returned to the Wailers in 1969, just in time for a revolution in Jamaican music: the jolting, horn-inflected styles of ska and rocksteady were slowing down. Reggae was the new craze."

From "Manufacturing Bob Marley/A new oral history shows just how much of his story is up for grabs," an article in The New Yorker (about this book, "So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley").

There are many interesting things in that article, but the most interesting thing to me was that Bob Marley lived in Wilmington, Delaware in the 1960s. I look up his address — 2312 Tatnall Street — and find it in Google Street View:

Google calculates how far that was from where I lived — 5.5 miles. I left in 1964, and he didn't arrive until 1965.

In a New York Magazine interview with Trent Reznor, will there be any mention of Donald Trump?

There shouldn't be, but there can't not be.

1. "I’m very familiar with the rage that seems to fuel the Trump voter or the angry internet commenter..."

2. Prompted with "Trump is the question hanging over so many artists right now": "I’ve been struggling with that, especially as far as the live performance and my trying to be a provocateur. I’m sure I’m doing what many people are trying to do in response to the election: understand, quantify, justify, rationalize, find comfort, feel animosity, should I say something? Should I do something? Should I give up?"

3. Asked "So have you landed on anything helpful?": "Well, the weird thing now is looking at politics as a father. My kids walk in the room and I’ve got CNN or MSNBC on and I have to hit the mute button because I don’t want to get into a discussion about how embarrassing the president is. He’s a fucking vulgarian. Aside from whatever ideological beliefs he has — if he has any — he’s a grotesque person who represents everything I hate. I’m repulsed by everything about him and he’s the president, you know? I haven’t figured out how to rationalize that to my kids’ beautiful little optimistic minds. I grew up in a shitty little town full of Trump voters, so I think I can I understand the point of view of someone who supports his message. What I don’t understand is supporting that messenger."

50 years ago today: Day 4 of the 12th Street Riots.

We've been following the story of this 5-day incident using Wikipedia. Earlier posts here (Day 1) and here (Day 2).
Starting at 1:30 on Tuesday, July 25, some 8,000 Michigan Army National Guardsmen were deployed to quell the disorder. Later, their number would be augmented with 4,700 paratroopers from both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions [sent by LBJ], and 360 Michigan State Police officers....

Some analysts believed that violence escalated with the deployment of troops, although they brought rioting under control within 48 hours...  Tanks and machine guns were used in the effort to keep the peace.... By Thursday, July 27, sufficient order had returned to the city that officers withdrew ammunition from the National Guardsmen stationed in the riot area and ordered them to sheath their bayonets...

The Detroit riot was a catalyst to violence elsewhere as the riot spread from the city into adjoining suburbs and to other areas of Michigan.... The state deployed National Guardsmen or state police to other Michigan cities as simultaneous riots erupted in Pontiac, Flint, Saginaw, and Grand Rapids, as well as in Toledo and Lima, Ohio; New York City and Rochester, New York; Cambridge, Maryland; Englewood, New Jersey; Houston, Texas; and Tucson, Arizona. Disturbances were reported in more than two dozen cities.

"Foxconn Technology Group will announce at the White House on Wednesday its plans to build a massive plant in Wisconsin that would employ thousands."

"The project could reshape the economy of southeastern Wisconsin and involve not just a large factory but a virtual village, with housing, stores and service businesses — spread over as much as 2,300 acres, one source said. That acreage, an area totaling more than 3 square miles, potentially could be assembled from parcels that initially weren’t contiguous, he said."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

" The psychiatric establishment should follow the American Psychoanalytic Association’s defiant lead and retire the Goldwater Rule altogether."

Argues Jesse Singal (at New York Magazine).
As Stat News reported yesterday,* earlier this month the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association told its 3,500 members in an email that they should feel free to flout the Goldwater Rule... To be sure, this is a drop in the bucket in terms of the wider world of psychiatry, given that the American Psychiatric Association has more than 37,000 members...

[A] psychiatrist commenting on a public figure is simply making informed inferences based on the publicly available information, in much the same way an aviation expert might comment on a deadly plane crash without having direct access to the crash site or the details of the subsequent government investigation....

In reality, it is very unlikely that credible psychiatrists would make public statements of concern about public figures’ psychiatric well-being in all but the most urgent cases, given the potential hit to their professional reputations. Those who would take these claims too far, who would politicize vital questions of mental health, would be drowned out and ostracized by their more professionally responsible colleagues
In reality? Singal's grasp of reality is way different from mine. 76% of psychiatrists are Democrats. Their political beliefs are very likely to skew their assessment of when it's "urgent" to get the word out that a political candidate is disordered and when they should "ostracize" a fellow psychiatrist who's spoken out. What happened with Goldwater is what will happen again. Even if only 1% of psychiatrists jump into the public spotlight to opine on the craziness of Candidate X, that's still 370 psychiatrists. And how many of the rest of them — the "more professionally responsible colleagues" — will passively enjoy the damage done to the candidate they'd like to see taken down? Meanwhile, a profession that needs to be believed in is going to get its credibility undermined. And that self-interest is the driving force behind the Goldwater rule.

* I blogged that here.

"As long as white children are constructed as innocent, we must continue to demand that children of color are as well."

"Because the idea of childhood innocence carries so much political force, we can’t allow it to be a whites-only club. The problem, however, is that every time we insist that the gates of innocence open to children of color, we limit ourselves by language, a 'frame,' as the linguist George Lakoff would say, that is embedded in racism. When we argue that black and brown children are as innocent as white children, and we must, we assume that childhood innocence is purely positive. But the idea of childhood innocence itself is not innocent: It’s part of a 200-year-old history of white supremacy.... All children deserve equal protection under the law not because they’re innocent, but because they’re people. By understanding children’s rights as human rights, we can begin to undermine the political power of childhood innocence, a cultural formation that has proved, over and over, to be one of white supremacy’s most potent weapons."

From "Let Black Kids Just Be Kids" by Harvard African-American Studies professor Robin Bernstein (in the NYT).

You might want to read that alongside this New Yorker article, which I happened to read earlier today, "The Life of a South Central Statistic/My cousin became a convicted felon in his teens. I tried to make sure he got a second chance. What went wrong?," by Danielle Allen. Excerpt:
A kid from a troubled home, trapped in poverty, without a stable world of adults coördinating care for him, starts pilfering, mostly out of an impatience to have things. In Michael’s first fourteen years, his story includes not a single incidence of violence, aside from the usual wrestling matches with siblings. It could have had any number of possible endings. But events unfold along a single track. As we make decisions, and decisions are made for us, we shed the lives that might have been. In Michael’s fifteenth year, his life accelerated, like a cylinder in one of those pneumatic tubes, whisking off your deposit at a drive-through bank. To understand how that acceleration could happen, though, another story is needed....

"The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women."

According to NPR.

#1 is an album Meade and I were just talking about this morning as we were talking about something that made it appropriate for one line in our dialogue to be Meade singing "I am on a lonely road and I am traveling, traveling, traveling...."

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."

"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you."

Said Trump, just now.

Here's the NYT story.
Mr. Trump made the surprise declaration in a series of posts on Twitter, saying he had come to the decision after consulting with generals and military experts, whom he did not name.

The closest statement to my reaction is:
pollcode.com free polls

Trump can fire Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller, so "The real question is why Trump doesn’t fire them himself rather than whine constantly about all three of them."

Ed Morrissey frames the question, and once the question is framed, I think you see the answer, don't you?

And that's why "Trump will sit and fume, but do nothing about it."

And if you see it, obviously Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller know it.

"Gorsuch’s maiden Martin-Quinn score is 1.344. (Higher positive numbers represent more conservative positions.)"

"The final score of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch replaced, was 1.577. Even with his small sample size, Gorsuch is lining up with the court’s conservative bloc and is beginning to resemble the 'Scalia clone' we predicted in January. Gorsuch’s score is also comparable to certain select terms of recent right-leaning justices Sandra Day O’Connor (1.382 in 1986) and William Rehnquist (1.371 in 2003)."

"We" = FiveThirtyEight.

Insane government billboard: "We don’t need pot to have fun. We’re Hispanics… We’re cool by default."

That was done by the Washington State Department of Health. The AP reports that the Department is "apologizing after some people were offended."

Some people were offended?!!

It's patently bad. It's not something that happened to offend "some people" and is therefore the subject of an apology. The government should have known all along that the message was offensive.

But the advertising idea reminds me of something I've seen around here, an ad against drunk driving that says something like: real men drive sober. It's appealing to the pride of a particular group. I don't know about that "real men" ad. I find it offensive, but I don't think it's insane to think it would be okay.

But "We’re Hispanics… We’re cool by default" is a terrible thing for the government to be saying. Even though the billboard has a photograph of a bunch of smiling young people who are being made to look as if they are saying that, it is the government putting out an ethnic stereotype.

It's also stupid because it sends the implicit message: If you're not Hispanic and thus not automatically cool, you should use marijuana so you can be cool too. And also: Hispanic people seem like they're on marijuana even when they are not. Which ought to remind us of why the government calls the substance "marijuana" and not "cannabis":
Throughout the 19th century, news reports and medical journal articles almost always use the plant's formal name, cannabis. Numerous accounts say that "marijuana" came into popular usage in the U.S. in the early 20th century because anti-cannabis factions wanted to underscore the drug's "Mexican-ness." It was meant to play off of anti-immigrant sentiments.

A common version of the story of the criminalization of pot goes like this: Cannabis was outlawed because various powerful interests (some of which have economic motives to suppress hemp production) were able to craft it into a bogeyman in the popular imagination, by spreading tales of homicidal mania touched off by consumption of the dreaded Mexican "locoweed." Fear of brown people combined with fear of nightmare drugs used by brown people to produce a wave of public action against the "marijuana menace." That combo led to restrictions in state after state, ultimately resulting in federal prohibition....