February 27, 2017

George W. Bush is blandly noncommittal, asked about Trump and the press.

You can read his words any way you want:
"We needed the media to hold people like me to account," Bush told TODAY'S Matt Lauer. "Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.... It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves," he said.

Bush also addressed the controversy over Trump advisers and the role they may have played in the scandal involving Russian hackers who tried to intervene in the election.... “I think we all need answers,” he said, noting that he was not a lawyer so, “I’m not sure the right avenue to take.”...
And, on immigration: "I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law."

He seems so gentle and modest. If he has any actual opinions on these subjects, he's completely hiding them. And yet I'm sure many people think what he's saying accords with what they think. He's speaking the language of traditional American politics — the language Trump eschews. Me, I'm a proponent of clear speech. But Bush is being civil and diplomatic and continuing to follow his policy of not trying to cling to presidential power.

What a nice man. And yet they called him Bushitler.

By they way, he did the show not to dump on Trump but to publicize his book of paintings of military presidents.

I thought that Oscars mixup was some kind of political performance art.

I didn't watch the Oscars last night, and I'm sorry I missed the real-time WTF fun. I saw the news on my iPhone in the middle of the night, then slept on it before reading the details and seeing video.

As the NYT explains it, I don't think it was fake news: There's video, and there's a transcript of what happened. We've got Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway on stage and presenting, and the only reason I can think of why they'd give those two the honor of announcing the most important award is: White Privilege. Rich, old, white people. They rule America and they rule Hollywood. And of course, the white movie "La La Land" wins in their world. All the white La La people file up on stage to take the naked-man statuette, and they start blah-blahing about their la la-ing, and then it's: Oh, no, white people! There's a revolution! The real winner is "Moonlight," the black movie. All the black people come up on the stage. Yay! Victory! Things are not what they seemed! What you thought happened didn't really happen. Who you thought won didn't really win! Wake up from your nightmare! If only President Donald Trump were only a nightmare. Ha ha. La la. Blah blah.

Now, I know Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were Bonnie and Clyde. This here's Miss Bonnie Parker. I'm Clyde Barrow. We rob banks. American outlaws. To put those 2 together is to wink: the rules don't apply. And Warren Beatty has some political wit. (Isn't Trump a bit like Beatty's Bulworth?) So Beatty hesitates over the card, then hands it to Dunaway and she finally says "La La Land." The NYT reports that Beatty says that the card they looked at was the card for the Best Actress award, which said "Emma Stone/La La Land." That's an explanation for why they said "La La Land" for Best Picture? Obviously, that would be the wrong card, though it is a (feeble) excuse for saying "La La Land." It's the only name of a movie on the card.

I said I thought the NYT did a good job of reporting, using transcript and video. And they've got a quote from Beatty:
“I opened the envelope, and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny. This is ‘Moonlight,’ the best picture.”
I trust that he said that, but I don't know that he's not lying. He might have wanted to make the big political gesture. He might have thought it's justified because the world in which Donald Trump is President is not a normal world. Fair is foul, and foul is fair. You can do it and you can lie too. It's art, and it's poetic justice. White people — unhand that Oscar. Donald Trump — ungrab that pussy. Unbreak America's heart!

Warren Beatty for President.

February 26, 2017

"When I was a kid, my dad said he hated green, and I was like, 'Yeah, me, too!'"

"And besides, green is too close to blue. Like get out of here, it’s an off-brand blue."

At the Hot Tea Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And if you're shopping, please remember to use The Althouse Amazon Portal. If you want a tea glass like the one in the picture, here it is.)

"I had been disregarded, overlooked and ignored because of my size for so long that I didn’t even realise it until people started being nice to me – until, in other words, I was 'normal sized.'"

"No one had ever done those things for me before. He opened that door for me because I wasn’t physically offensive to him, and I knew. And it was in that moment that I realised how terrible we are as a society to people, based solely on their appearance. This realisation broke me. It broke me in a way that I’ve never been broken before. He certainly didn’t deserve my outburst, but in that moment I couldn’t help myself."

Writes Stacie Huckeba (at The Guardian). I'm seeing her slammed by some bloggers I like, and I think they are missing the point. She's not saying it was good to lash out at a man who opened the door for her. She's expressing sadness at the realization of what the door opening means. It's not traditional etiquette borne of respect for women. It's special treatment for some women.

"If you’re writing thousands of words a day, then don’t check your phone, don’t clean up your office, don’t spend inordinate amounts of time on food, and sleep only when you must."

"Apologize to your significant other that you are so distracted — but between the two of us, it’s really a #sorrynotsorry kind of moment."

From Dan Drezner's "So you want to write a nonfiction book/A few tips for those writers intimidated by the idea of writing something that contains many pages and a spine" at WaPo. It might be very good advice because Drezner has written 6 nonfiction books.

I have more than 6 unwritten nonfiction books, and I'm ever more committed to doing only unwritten books when I read Drezner's point #4: "Ration your social media.... the time suck of these platforms is considerable. Only let yourself go on it for small segments of time, or as a reward for finishing an intermediary goal." I'm a blog supremacist, so I reverse-engineer that advice into do not become distracted by long writing projects. They'll ruin your blog mind.

By the way, I love the illustration at the link, with the caption: "Still life of girl sitting on floor and writing in a notebook. (iStock))" That girl is not writing a nonfiction book. But I identify with her because she looks like she might be jotting down some blogging ideas.

"I just learn the Buddha’s advice and keep the holiness within myself for my own sake."

"Having the holiness in myself makes me good, not killing anyone or criticizing anyone. That is the holiness in myself: to make myself good," said Im Chaem — Grandma Chaem.

She was accused by United Nations-backed tribunal "of overseeing the killing of tens of thousands of people as a Khmer Rouge official in northwestern Cambodia in 1977 and 1978." Last Wednesday, the charges were dropped on the theory that she was "neither a senior leader nor otherwise one of the most responsible officials of the Khmer Rouge regime."
Did she know all the crimes she was accused of: the murder, the slavery, the extermination?

“You don’t need to ask me. You know it,” she shot back. “If you know it, you know it.”

"People seem to be very touched. They come and talk into the crack, read poetry to me, or tell me about their nightmares or their dreams."

"They are not so much talking to me, I think, as to the stone. I am very happy that the stone has got into their heads.... We are already locked into our own bodies... It's very complex. You pass from one feeling to an another. Like you are being carried away on a raft... It's like tripping."

Said the artist, who's spending a week inside a man-shaped hollow within a 2-ton split-in-half, pushed-together rock.

The "tripping" part reminds me of the movie "Altered States."

February 25, 2017

In the Big Room...


... we talk about everything.

(And, when we've got shopping to do, go through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

"I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!"

Trump tweets.

It's enemy territory.

"Look at how beefed up she is. It’s because she’s taking an enhancement. Whether she’s a boy, girl, wants to be purple or blue it doesn’t matter."

"When you’re using a drug and you’re 10 times stronger than the person you’re wrestling because of that drug, that shouldn’t be allowed."
While Beggs has said he’d prefer to wrestle against boys, University Interscholastic League rules force Beggs to compete as a girl. The UIL uses an athletes birth certificate to determine gender, a measure overwhelmingly approved by the state’s school superintendents a year ago.

The rule prohibits girls from wrestling in the boys division and vice versa.

UIL provides an exception for a steroid that is prescribed by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose. The UIL has reviewed Beggs’ medical records and granted him permission to compete while taking testosterone.
Mack Beggs is 55-0.

"Nearly 150,000 American teenagers from 13 to 17 years old — or one out of every 137 — would identify as transgender if survey takers asked..."

"... according to an analysis of state and federal data that offers an answer to a question that has long eluded researchers."

That mysterious sentence begins a NYT article.

What kind of analysis sees the answer to a question that is not asked?
The analysis, an extrapolation based on adult responses to a federal survey, represents an indirect way of arriving at a figure that many advocates consider to be of crucial importance.
So if you really, really want a number badly enough, a number can be derived?
[T]he researchers applied an advanced statistical technique regarded by some academics as an emerging gold standard for making state estimates using national data, based on well-worn demographic and geographic patterns...
An emerging gold standard.  Some academics.

Pick the option that is closest to what you think of the news story:
pollcode.com free polls

"Law professors seek to have Kellyanne Conway disbarred for bringing 'shame upon the legal profession.'"

"Here’s the actual letter, complete with the names of the law professors who have disgraced themselves. But if you want to establish a rule like this for all lawyers in the public eye, well, enjoy it. Sauce for the goose, and all that."

"Perez came very close to winning DNC chair on the first ballot. There were 427 votes cast, making the threshold for victory 214.5 votes."

"Perez received 213.5 votes. Ellison got 200. The crowd is stunned. A second round of balloting is about to get underway...."

UPDATE: "With 235 votes, former Labor secretary Tom Perez wins the DNC chairmanship on the second ballot. Ellison received 200 votes."

ADDED: Meade is laughing over the "Breaking News" headline at the NYT: "Democrats elected former Labor Secretary Thomas Perez as party chairman over Keith Ellison, a liberal from Minnesota." Do you see what's so funny? Why is Ellison referred to as "a liberal from Minnesota"? Yeah, where's Tom Perez from? Ah. New York. Why isn't he called "a liberal from New York"?

Commenter — without realizing it — takes my side in what has been a 2-day debate between me and Meade.

In the comments to yesterday's post about "Captain Fantastic," robother said:
I read the end of the movie as pure fantasy in his head after leaving Albuquerque. If not, The Man is far more benign and forgiving than Chomsky, Mortenson's character or even I imagine.
Thank you! And spoiler alert for those who haven't seen the movie. (You can stream it from Amazon, here. Please do that first, then join this discussion.)

"There was a moment, sometime between 2008 and 2010, when a woman’s insides — her exploits, her eating habits, her feelings, her sex life — became a lucrative internet product."

"Women, of course, have been writing about such things for years, including on the internet, but commodifying that writing had proven fraught. Marketing the entirety of the self through a personal blog — like Heather Armstrong’s Dooce, or Emily Gould’s iteration of Gawker — led to writer burnout and reader disillusionment. A better, more sustainable way to commodify the self was to do so piecemeal. For female authors, this meant writing personal essays on the most sensational slivers of their lives. For websites, this meant paying those authors — hundreds of them, the supply was nearly unlimited — somewhere between $0 and $100 for each sliver. I know about this economy because, for about four years, I was part of it...."

So begins "Tales From the Personal Essay Industrial Complex" by Anne Helen Petersen (a NYT book review, covering "How to Murder Your Life" by Cat Marnell and "All the Lives I Want/Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers" by Alana Massey).

Word that I'm glad to see doesn't appear in this article: Feminism.

Why I'm glad: I don't see how this sort of self-exploitation by young women counts as feminism.

ADDED: "I am myself the matter of my book. You would be unreasonable to spend your leisure on so frivolous and vain a subject."

The disruption of people who won't accept disruption: Those terrible "legacy customers."

At WaPo, Larry Downes, co-author of "Big Bang Disruption," takes aim at people who "who simply refuse to migrate to disruptive innovations even after they’ve become both better and cheaper, and even after almost everyone else has made the shift."
[T]he real holdup is that non-adopters — mostly older, rural and less-educated — just aren’t interested in Internet access, at any price.... [T]he resisters are wrong....

[N]on-adopters ultimately cost more to serve. Printing information is increasingly a waste of scarce resources as digital alternatives continue to get better and cheaper. And all of us pay for the waste...

To overcome the inertia of legacy customers, it may be appropriate for governments to step in....

[S]ome technology dinosaurs need help being euthanized. Here, regulators can serve as a catalyst, providing the final nudge for legacy customers. Once it was clear that smart LEDs would become better and cheaper than inefficient incandescent lightbulbs, for example, governments around the world began passing laws banning production of the older technology.

And while things got a little messy at the end, in 2009 Congress succeeded in turning off analog TV, switching the few remaining holdouts over to digital. To ensure no one had to go without “Let’s Make a Deal,” lower-income families were given converter boxes for older tube TVs.
What about hipsters who insist on old-fashioned turntables and vinyl record albums? How come they're not in the article? I don't have to answer the question. To ask it is to have the answer jump off the page: older, rural, less-educated, Let’s Make a Deal....

And by the way, what's newer is not necessarily better. Consider: "The TV Is Hard to Hear... Flat-screen TVs, inconsistent streaming boxes and cinematic series have many asking, ‘What did they say?’"

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm said: "Isn't the WaPoasaurus calling for its own death here?"

"Video captures mouse walking on baby’s crib in Kushner-owned Brooklyn home."

But why is the mouse there? I'm reading all the way to the end of that Daily News article:
Some in the building said video and the complaints stemmed from a rent dispute.

“This is a small group of people who have been here from the beginning and have stopped paying rent,” one resident said. “They haven’t paid rent in about eight months and they don’t want to pay.”

But others say they have complained about many issues, to no avail.

“There have been vermin, and the mouse video is crazy,” said another tenant. “We’re all paying about $4,000 a month — that’s a great deal of money to put up with all of this.”

When we see video, what do we know?

Tricking CPAC Trumpers to wave the Russian flag — What are the lessons?

Social media had great fun with something that happened yesterday at CPAC:
Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, passed out roughly 1,000 red, white, and blue flags, each bearing a gold-emblazoned “TRUMP” in the center, to an auditorium full of attendees waiting for President Trump to address the conference. Audience members waved the pennants—and took pictures with them—until CPAC staffers realized the trick: They were Russian flags.
What are the lessons?

1. There are lots of people out there who are not on your side. Withhold your trust until you know who you're dealing with. There are endless scams. Don't be a soft touch.

2. Young guys and their pranks lighten the grind of politics. It was fun back in the 60s when Yippies found cool ways to put across what were weighty political opinions, and it's fun now. We need our clowns, including the pranksters who figure out ways to offload the clownery onto others.

3. Don't pass on messages that others have handed you. Think of your own ideas. Let the words of your mouth and the gestures of your body come in a form shaped by your mind. Be original. Be yourself. Have a self that's worth being.

February 24, 2017

"Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing."

"Aides to Mr. Spicer allowed in reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed to attend."
Organizations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended....

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”
How bad is this? Pick the closest to your opinion:

pollcode.com free polls

UPDATE: The sentence quoted in the post title later included the names of more news organizations. I'm cutting and pasting this at 7:45 CT on February 25th: "Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC and The Huffington Post were among those shut out of the briefing." There's no notation at the article that it was updated, but the sentence just quoted is the only sentence in the article with the word "Politico" in it, so clearly the article was updated.

Here are the results on the poll (possibly skewed by my emphasis on the apparently false fact that only 3 organizations were excluded):