August 28, 2016

"We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe.... Our zoo family is still healing..."

"... and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us," said Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo.
For example, replying to a Twitter post about zebras and their unique stripes, one user wrote: “U had a unique way of killing Harambe.”

On a post celebrating Elephant Day, another wrote: “Harambe loved elephants.”
Maynard's request for sympathy for the humans only encouraged the memesters, and Thane and the Zoo ended up deleting their Twitter accounts. 
Depending on how the meme is used, #JusticeforHarambe can either be associated with a petition with nearly 500,000 signatures that seeks to hold the boy’s parents responsible for his wandering into the exhibit, or serve as a launching pad for jokes that lampoon activism, according to Ryan Milner, an assistant professor of communications at the College of Charleston and the author of the coming book “The World Made Meme.”
Ironically, "The World Made Meme" is only available in hardcover. It is "invaluable to internet scholars" — did you know such creatures roam the earth? — according to the author of "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things/Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture."

A study of how young adults make the decision to go childless child-free.

"Blackstone and Stewart went with a qualitative approach, asking evocative, open-ended questions to 21 women and 10 men who have chosen not to have kids...."
A couple chords were struck again and again in people’s reasoning. Many saw their siblings or close friends have kids and decided that it was not something they wanted to arrange their lives around. The men tended toward individualized decision-making, noting that they wouldn’t be able to travel or pursue other meaningful projects.... Women were more outwardly focused in their decision-making, referencing how having kids would alter their adult relationships or contribute to overpopulation and other environmental impacts, or that the world as it is isn’t hospitable to new children. The authors reason that the outward-facing decision-making for women may be a result of the greater cultural pressure on them to reproduce.
We don't really learn what people think from what they say, only how they choose to talk about it. Why can't women, like men, just admit they want to keep more of their time and money for themselves? Or why don't men feel more of a need to couch their selfishness in terms of doing good for others and for the world?
It should be noted that a study at this scale is limited: It’s homogeneous in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation, and it would be super-useful to have more research done around how people of different identities decide whether to have kids, especially since birthrates, at a macro level, are so strongly correlated with education: The better educated people are, the fewer kids they have. 
That's a hell of a sentence. New York Magazine. What do you think of 2 colons in the same sentence? I don't think this author really thought about it. It looks more like he just kept this one sentence going so long that he forgot about the first one. And it's kind of sad to see a science writer trying to spice up the boring demand for more research with the childish "super-useful" and the righteous plea for more diversity. And by the way, this locution is silly: "The better educated people are, the fewer kids they have." You can't have any fewer than zero children. Get all the PhDs you want, you can't have negative numbers of kids.

"'Babies"' made from flour sacks or eggshells have been used for to teach children about the responsibilities of parenthood..."

"... but a new study using lifelike simulated babies in Western Australian schools had a surprising result: girls enrolled in the Virtual Infant Parenting Program (VIP) were twice as likely to give birth in their teens."

A Metafilter discussion that includes this comment:
This American Life had a segment about robot babies where (spoiler alert!) one of the teenagers turned out to have a better opinion of pregnancy and childrearing after her experience. Turns out the producer of that segment [Hillary Frank] wrote about the Lancet study two days ago.
From that last link (to the Hillary Frank piece):
17% of the intervention (robot babies) group had teen pregnancies; while 11% of the control group had teen pregnancies....
Was there evidence that the simulators made teens interested in becoming moms? Or less afraid of accidental pregnancy? [Dr. Sally] Brinkman said there was no way to know the answer to this question. The study was designed to track pregnancy, not whether the pregnancies were intended or unintended. But, she added, they did study the pregnancy termination rate in both groups. And the group that got the infant simulators had a 6% lower proportion of abortions, compared with the control group. But, of course, there’s no way to really know if that lower rate means the girls who experienced the infant simulators felt more comfortable with the idea of becoming moms....
The robot baby program was designed to push teenage girls to avoid pregnancy. They're supposed to see how much trouble it is to be woken up and to hear the crying and have to feed a baby. The study is especially bad news for the company that makes the robots... unless there are schools somewhere that think it would be a good idea to convince young people to accept the responsibilities of parenthood. We might be need that one day... as more and more young people resist the lure of babies and devote themselves to education and career launching and get used to the convenience and unshared wealth of life without children.

Poll results...

I assume some of the 2% in that last category are pranksters screwing up the poll. And yet maybe some of the people in the second-to-last category are racists trying to hide it.

August 27, 2016

Picnic Point, a little while ago.


You can talk about whatever you want in the comments.

Over 300 comments on that "Alt-Right" post...

... on a late summer Saturday afternoon.

It makes me want to ask a question. And please read the earlier post and make sure you know what "Alt-Right" means before you answer. Don't just guess. It doesn't mean people who think Althouse is right. And don't assume that if you don't know (or use) the term that it can't apply to you.

To what extent are you part of the "Alt-Right"? free polls

This will just seem like the most boring interview in the world...

... unless you watch what's happening in the background:

The extreme boringness of the interview makes the backgroundiness of the action sheer accidental genius.

Did the Alt-Right play its big day right?

Hillary Clinton said "Alt-Right" on Thursday, suddenly throwing a new word in America's face. That was an astounding opportunity for whoever has been wearing that label to spring into action. The readiness to take advantage was instantly expressed by that guy in Hillary's audience who — on hearing the word — shouted "Pepe!"
[A] man in the crowd was ejected for yelling “PEPE!”, the name of the iconic green frog meme that has become the alt-right’s mascot, as soon as she mentioned the movement....

"I proudly consider myself a member of the Alt Right… now saying that, or admitting that publicly has its drawbacks because of the false narrative being peddled by the regressive left that the Alt Right is all Neo-Nazi Russian Agents, hell bent on establishing a White Supremacist world takeover, all bullshit" said Sean in an interview with [a Breitbart reporter, Charles Nash]. "I call myself alt right because the conservative establishment right in this country does not represent my views, they are just as much to blame for the disaster taking place in America as the left, the alt right to me is fiscal responsibility, secure borders, enforcement of immigration laws, ending the PC culture, and promoting AMERICA FIRST (Not Sharia First)... If you come to this country legally, follow the laws, learn our language, and love the country, you are equal, no matter your color, or religion. Basically alt-right is to separate ourselves from the failing establishment right."
And then what happened? At, we got "the 20 worst lies" in the Hillary speech, which not address her use of the term "Alt-Right," and this quickie interview with Milo Yiannopoulos, who said:
“Hillary Clinton created the alt-right that she spoke about yesterday, her and people like her, and now she thinks the solution is to keep calling people names and to widen the net of name calling from a couple of people she doesn’t like on the Internet and her political opponents to millions of Americans that she is now describing as racist and sexist... It’s going to have electoral consequences."
That fails to claim that the Alt-Right is something good. He's reinforcing Hillary's idea that it works as name-calling.

The NYT has "Hillary Clinton Denounces the ‘Alt-Right,’ and the Alt-Right Is Thrilled," which is what I read that inspired this post and made me ask the question I use for the post title.

"That being said, there are women out there who just don’t. They don’t wear swimsuits. They don’t go to the beach."

"They basically forgo summer, and the camera, because they hate the way they look. Thus, our excursion to the roof. I put on sunscreen, and lipstick, and a new size 16 swimsuit, black with a ruffled pink trim and a little slip of a skirt. I took a deep breath, pulled my shoulders back, and tried to believe that I looked O.K. and not to flinch as he said, 'Here we go.' Inside, I picked out my favorite shot, skipped the filters, went to my Facebook page, held my breath and hit 'post.' The next time I looked, there were dozens of pictures of women in swimsuits — women who looked more like me, less like the airbrushed, perfected creatures I seem to spend my life looking at."

That's Jennifer Weiner writing on a topic I have seen as long as I've been reading the news for women (i.e., since the 1960s). Body anxieties heightened by the desire to wear a bathing suit. The Facebook part is new, but I don't think that's why the NYT is publishing this piece in late August. Weiner makes no mention of the French "burkini" issue, but I think that's what's pushing this old American topic forward right now.

Here's that Facebook photo showing the suit she picked picked out. It's a lot less silly looking than "ruffled pink trim and a little slip of a skirt" makes it sound. But Jennifer Weiner is 46 years old. Why is she resorting to a skirt with pink ruffles to deal with her body anxieties? I was researching the burkini issue and got to thinking about women who want more coverage for whatever reason — religious or other expression, modesty, sun protection, aversion to shaving — and I discovered these swim capris (and swim tights). I hadn't noticed these before, so I'm thinking there are many women — possibly including Weiner — who are locked into thinking swimwear must expose your legs (if not half or more of your buttocks). It's odd, because Weiner discusses the Olympics, and the Olympic swimmers — female and male — all wore suits that covered their thighs.

I'd like to encourage women to think about wearing swim separates with the longer legwear, capris and tights. 2-piece suits have been around for a long time, so the tops are easily available, both bra tops and tankini tops.I think this is a nice, comfortable option for all kinds of women, and it has the positive side effect of making those who wear covered-up styles for religious reasons feel less conspicuous (which is what covering up is supposed to achieve).


"Study Says Lazy People Are Smarter."

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm said (efficiently): "Natural efficiency."

Tim Maguire said: "The smart people we've heard of aren't lazy." And by that, I assume he means that the smart and lazy people are being efficient by not drawing attention to themselves. The workplace is often administered by people who want to see that you're hard at work. The stupidest waste of time is looking busy, but it would be stupid to attract the supervision of somebody who will impose the requirement of looking busy when you have worked out ways of getting things done efficiently and want to benefit from your cleverness, not cede all the benefits to your overseer.

I have been in situations where a colleague will go on about how stressed out and terribly busy she is and assert that so are we all. The dead silence in a roomful of professors is ludicrous. You know damned well that many — I hope most — have figured out ways to work very efficiently and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the job. But no one with an eye on self-protection will stand up and admit to not being a workaholic. And so stressed-out, busy-busyness is the atmosphere that prevails because the ones who talk are the ones who haven't found the lazy-smart path (or they have and want to deny its legitimacy for some sadistic reason).

ADDED: I recommend "Essays in Idleness" by the Buddhist monk Kenko, "In Praise of Idleness" by Bertrand Russell, and "An Apology for Idlers" by Robert Louis Stevenson. That last one begins:
BOSWELL: We grow weary when idle.

JOHNSON: That is, sir, because others being busy, we want company; but if we were idle, there would be no growing weary; we should all entertain one another.

Just now, when everyone is bound, under pain of a decree in absence convicting them of lèse-respectability, to enter on some lucrative profession, and labour therein with something not far short of enthusiasm, a cry from the opposite party who are content when they have enough, and like to look on and enjoy in the meanwhile, savours a little of bravado and gasconade. And yet this should not be. Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself....
Gasconade... There's a word you haven't used in a sentence recently, I'll bet.

"... Ann Coulter writes the following words on page 3 of her new book about how Trump is awesome: 'there’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven. Except change his immigration policies.'"

"Given Trump’s gyrations on immigration this week, this is such an unfortunate sentence. It leads to sad headlines like, 'Trump Betrayal of Ann Coulter Timed Perfectly to Release of Ann Coulter Book About Always Trusting Trump' and sad pictures of Coulter steeling herself to give book talks and angry Coulter tweets at Trump.... Like Rush Limbaugh (words I never thought I would type in that order), my first reaction upon hearing that sentence was [hysterical laughter]. Watching Coulter go through the five stages of grief in the span of 24 hours has also been a gift from the schadenfreude gods. Yet as Coulter has finally arrived at the realization that she can’t abandon Trump, I can’t fully commit to savoring her discomfort...."

Writes Dan Drezner (at WaPo) in "Ann Coulter is currently experiencing every nonfiction author’s nightmare/Sympathy for the devil in Prada."

One more reason to blog instead of writing a book.

But I'm not sure Coulter is a big loser here. Her book is getting a lot of attention because people who love to hate her see a hilariously colossal clash between her book — "In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!" — and Trump's supposed "softening." There's so much more reason now to bring her on the shows — where she can continue to promote herself — than there might have been if this was just another book by Ann Coulter. There are so many! Don't all the liberal (and conservative) show hosts want to needle her about her dramatic experience in publishing timing. And suddenly she's leveraged as the expert on how Trumpsters feel when he flips on their favorite issue.

25 years ago today: Pearl Jam released its first album.

"25 years ago today, on August 27, 1991, Pearl Jam released its debut album, Ten, which most people would probably agree is the band's best...."
Pearl Jam has never been one of my favorite bands. But I give them a lot of credit: they sincerely tried to make a work of art with "Jeremy," and they succeeded....
So writes my son John, who played a lot of this genre of music (grunge) around the house — much of it not recorded music — in the 1999s. Very little of it was Pearl Jam though.

There seems to be a phenomenon — in every genre and in all time periods — of musical performers/groups that seem to be very popular but that actual people profess only to dislike or to concede to enjoying only as a "guilty pleasure" or hating except for that one song.

Anyway, back in 2008, John worked out a top 40 of grunge songs. It's extremely well worked out with explanations for all the choices. Example: "The labyrinthine nine-chord progression of the verse is a rarity -- more akin to the Beach Boys' 'Don't Talk, Put Your Head on My Shoulder' or the Beatles' 'Because' than the average song from the '90s."

"It’s a sign of the times, unfortunately, that when there was an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at the company, some of the sweaters there were from our current assortment."

Said the chief executive of Gap, quoted in a WaPo article titled "Why are sales suffering at so many women’s stores? They made bad clothes./Consumers have started spending again, but that doesn't mean they'll buy just anything."

Better than "just anything" is a low standard. But as I always like to say: Better than nothing is a high standard. When shopping for clothes, nothing is always a good choice. The store has to beat nothing.

August 26, 2016

"France’s top administrative court overturns burkini ban."

"After a month of intense national scandal and heightened international outrage, France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État, on Friday overturned the so-called burkini bans in 26 of the country’s coastal towns and cities. Imposed in the name of secularism, perhaps France’s most sacred ideal, the bans had prohibited Muslim women from wearing the 'burkini' — a full-body bathing suit designed to respect traditional codes of modesty — on the beach.... The argument... was — and remains — that Muslim modesty somehow impedes the rights of women in the historic French Republic of liberty, equality and fraternity. This is why, for instance, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed his opposition to the bathing suit in nothing less than the language of human rights: the burkini, he said, was a means of 'enslavement.'... The court struck down both arguments for the bans: It ruled that the burkini is neither an insult to the equality of women nor a harbinger of terrorism. The attempts to ban it, the judges maintained, insulted 'fundamental freedoms' such as the 'freedom to come and go, the freedom of conscience and personal liberty.'"

WaPo reports.

I agree with the court. It's not for the government to tell people what they need to wear — for religious reasons or other reasons. It's legitimate to worry that some women are being coerced into hyper-modest bathing suits, but coercing them into skimpy suits is not the answer.

And religion isn't the only reason you might want to cover up on the beach. I've been noticing these UV-protection swim tights, which can be worn with a long-sleeved UV-protection shirt by those of us who want to avoid sunburn. And I like the swim capris — and not just for sun-protection, but for fashion and — yes! — modesty. Have you got a problem with that? Fine. Just don't ask the government to help you with that problem.

Meet Kevin, the boy who is excited about 4th grade.

(Via Reddit.)

ADDED: Did you notice the part where he said "I want to be a creator, like inventing stuff, and I need to learn a lot of math to do it"? He's absorbed that "creator" talk that has infected the discussion of business and technology. Everyone who's not getting left behind in the new economy is now in the "creative class." It has nothing to do with art anymore.

Hillary introduces America to the term "alt-right" — the "emerging racist ideology" — and Trump calls Hillary a "bigot."

Do you want to talk about race or do you want to talk about words?

Because we could talk about what "bigot" means. It could mean only those who consciously embrace the idea that some group is despicable, or it could also cover those with unwanted feelings of hate that they are struggling with, or it could include everyone who has even unacknowledged feelings of only slight disgust toward some other group, or it could extend even to people who don't care enough about groups other than their own and have failed to go very far out of their way to do something to help the when they experience misfortune and suffer economic hardship. It's that last thing that Donald Trump is saying about Hillary, so he's making a good point, wrapped within a complicated linguistic issue that might — if people get caught up in it — ultimately work out in his favor. It's the same point as: "What have you got to lose?" Who cares about the tenderness of the hearts of the white people who want black people to vote for them? Shouldn't you vote for the candidate who will help you and your community? Isn't the real bigotry — the bigotry that matters — the bigotry that comes in the form of relegating your community to disorder and depression? We could talk about that.

And we could talk about the political value of saying "alt-right," all right? I mean, who even knew that word until Hillary said it yesterday? Even when you know the word and hear the definition — which she had to provide in the speech since people don't know the term — do you know that this is a real social phenomenon that we need to worry about? Or should we wonder if Hillary is trying to scare us with a bogeyman?

David Brooks thinks the woman candidate should be more "gracious" and "relinquish control" and assures her that "in surrender you’ll actually gain more strength."

Why didn't he or the NYT editors notice the sexism?

I guess he was distracted by the point he was intent on making, which is that having a lot of experience — Hillary's strong point — isn't that good if you haven't gained the virtues that we like to think experience brings. Within Brooks's way of telling it, whatever we don't like about Hillary would then be what she should have gotten from all that experience. What is it Brooks doesn't like about her? "[T]here’s often a whiff of inhumanity about her campaign that inspires distrust." She hasn't — like "[t]he people in public life we really admire" — arrived at "graciousness."

Now, right there, anyone versed in feminism should get suspicious. The woman is being criticized for not being warm enough and not being gracious.  Would a male candidate at her level of warmth and graciousness be called out for this shortcoming? Brooks could have gone straight for the distrust: We distrust her because of specific things she's done and the lies and half-lies she's told. But instead he smells some inhumanity about her that "inspires distrust."

Why contort yourself like that? It could be that Brooks got enthralled by his own cogitation about experience. She's got experience, so let's think about experience and the reasons why we value it and how that relates to why Hillary isn't all that she should be by now.

Brooks drifts into reverie — replete with names like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. — about how in the best people experience creates humility which transforms into graciousness. Based on that, he faults Hillary for the continuity in her manner over a long period of time:
Her posture is still brittle, stonewalling and dissembling. Clinton scandals are all the same. There’s an act of unseemly but not felonious behavior, then the futile drawn-out withholding of information, and forever after the unwillingness to ever come clean.
He's identifying the bad character trait of dishonesty. Fine. But in bullshitting it up, he lets out whiffs — I'll use his word — of sexism: She's "brittle." She should be more pliable. She should find her strength in "surrender." She should be gracious.

"Totally selfishly, [sex] is so much better for me being jacked because you feel so much more confident and you see yourself as this much more sexual person, which is really fun."

Said the actor John Krasinski, who is married to Emily Blunt:
“The truth is, she really is that person who would like me anyway. But I don’t think she’s going to kick the eight-pack abs out of bed,” he said.
But it's for him, he's doing it "totally selfishly," he says, to make himself "feel so much more confident" and to see himself "as this much more sexual person, which is really fun." He's talking like a woman in a TV commercial for hair dye... in the 1970s.

So weird! And look at him. He's hypermasculinized — more muscular definition than any manly labor or team sport would ever produce. But he's delivering the kind of lines that were — for propagandistic purposes — traditionally assigned to women. Who talks about becoming a "much more sexual person"? It sounds so silly next to "being jacked," which sounds silly anyway.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to discourage men from working out, looking good, and having abs, and I guess it's good to believe that you do it for yourself and not for your wife and that she'd "like [you] anyway." Something about talking about it though. The potential for sounding inane is high. Hearing a man say it helps see why it's also inane for a woman to say it.

I do it for me.

IN THE COMMENTS: I'm getting challenged. I'm told to Google "best NFL abs," so: here. Now, I don't know if Steve Weatherford got that way from playing football or whether he did targeted ab exercises. And I don't know how much Photoshopping went into that photograph. But, nice going, Steve.

A woman selling crickets and worms in the NYC subway "suddenly threw them all over the crowded car" — and it was so crazy...

... that some fool did the one thing you might think to do — because it is an emergency — but you absolutely should not do if you want to get to the next station as quickly as possible: He pulled the emergency brake!
The air conditioning shut off and the screaming passengers were all stuck inside the sweltering car with the woman, who then treated them to antics for half an hour as the crickets jumped on passengers. The worms just wriggled on the floor.

“She was banging on the doors and trying to climb out the windows. Everyone had crickets on their arms. My girlfriend was crying,” said Calabrese. “Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”
It could have been worse. It could have been underground. Luckily, the train was crossing the Manhattan Bridge, so there was light and a view of the real, noncrazy world. And you could tweet. E.g.: "There are crickets in subway rn and they won't stop being loud af." 

By the way, did you know that crickets stink? I learned that from the David Sedaris story "April in Paris" (April is a spider):
April hadn’t eaten in more than a week when, just by chance, I happened upon a pet store and learned that it sold live crickets, blunt little black ones that looked like bolts with legs. I bought a chirping boxful and felt very proud of myself until the next morning, when I learned something that no nature show ever told me: crickets stink. They reek. Rather than dirty diapers or spoiled meat—something definite you can put your finger on—they smell like an inclination: cruelty, maybe, or hatred.
“Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”

We need an "Insect Politics" tag over here!
I like to use my insect politics tag whenever I can, but I didn't see how to make the stretch here. EDH provides the video that clinches it:

"This case inspires terror in some artists who fear they could end up in court for denying that a work they did not do isn't theirs."

The artist who got sued for saying he didn't paint that — has won his case.
The evidence, the judge said, showed this was a case of imperfect memories, coincidences and mistaken identity. He said it was a different Peter Doige, who spelled his name with an "e," who created the artwork. Feinerman rejected the idea that Doig, the renowned artist, and Doige were the same person.

[Robert] Fletcher, 62, testified that he bought the painting of a desert landscape [for $100] while Doig was serving prison time in Canada's Thunder Bay Correctional Center. But Feinerman said it was Doige — who was several years older and painted at the time — who was briefly in prison.
2 Doig[e]s, painting in the same prison. That's odd! The plaintiff still thinks he's got a real Doig, and who knows how much  money he can get for what he at least once believed was good for $10 million.

ADDED: The quote in the headline is from a law professor, and you might be disinclined to pull it apart enough to see that it's got too many negatives, as the first 2 commenters simultaneously point out:
I think there's an extra negative in that sentence. — campy at 6:53 AM

I hesitate to say that I don't disagree with you. — rhhardin at 6:53 AM