August 22, 2017

At the Green Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And please consider using The Althouse Amazon Portal.

By a vote of 3-to-2 vote, the Supreme Court of India invalidated the law that let Muslim men divorce their wife by saying "talaq" (divorce) 3 times.

The NYT reports:
Of those who voted against, two said the practice was unconstitutional and one said it went against Islamic law. One of the dissenters was a Muslim judge; the other was the court’s chief justice, who urged Parliament to come up with a new provision.
That is, only a minority said it was a violation of the constitutional right to equality. Moreover, the tone was, according to one law professor, demeaning to women:
“The patronizing tone towards Muslim women in all the opinions is quite breathtaking,” Ratna Kapur, a law professor and author of a forthcoming book on gender and human rights, wrote on Facebook. “Women are talked about as if they are in need of protection, not in terms of their rights.”

She added, “Nearly every reference to the Muslim woman in the majority and dissenting opinions reduces Muslim women to ‘suffering victims.’ ”

McMaster used a 1972 black-and-white photo of 3 Afghan women in mini skirts to persuade Trump about Afghanistan.

According to The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail is extracting a tidbit from an WaPo article titled "'It’s a hard problem’: Inside Trump’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan":
One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.
Second-highest-rated comment at The Daily Mail: "Gee - maybe if someone sends him pictures of short-skirted nurses in Sweden, we'll get single-payer health care..."

Breitbart — now with Bannon — covers Trump's Afghanistan speech.

A screen shot of the front page right now:

Key word: "Flip-flop."

Seemingly ready-made joke that contains a pop-culture reference you might need to be over 40 to get: "…HIS MCMASTER’S VOICE."

Whether you get the reference or not, you might be interested to know that Wikipedia has a page for "His Master's Voice":
His Master's Voice, abbreviated HMV, is a famous trademark in the music and recording industry and was the unofficial name of a major British record label [parent of RCA]. The name was coined in the 1890s as the title of a painting of a dog....

[T]he dog, a terrier named Nipper, had originally belonged to Barraud's brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark's voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas....

In 1968, RCA introduced a modern logo and restricted the use of Nipper to the album covers of Red Seal Records. The Nipper trademark was reinstated to most RCA record labels in the Western Hemisphere beginning in late 1976 and was once again widely used in RCA advertising throughout the late 1970s and 1980s....
"His Master's Voice" is also the title of a sci-fi book by Stanisław Lem:
It is a densely philosophical first contact story about an effort by scientists to decode, translate and understand an extraterrestrial transmission.... [T]he scientists are able to use part of the data to synthesize a substance with unusual properties. Two variations are created: a glutinous liquid nicknamed "Frog Eggs" and a more solid version that looks like a slab of red meat called "Lord of the Flies" (named for its strange agitating effect on insects brought into proximity with it, rather than for the allegorical meaning of the name).... "Frog eggs" seems to enable a teleportation of an atomic blast at the speed of light to a remote location, which would make deterrence impossible....

By the time the project is ended, they are no more sure than they were in the beginning about whether the signal was a message from intelligent beings that humanity failed to decipher, or a poorly understood natural phenomenon.
But back to Breitbart. It's easier to understand than Lem's frog eggs. I'm not going to read all these articles. As a collection of headlines, they make a spicy first page, but I'm just going to use a sampling method by clicking on one. I choose "Flynn: An Old Casino King Doubles Down on a Bad Hand in Afghanistan." Flynn is a Daniel J. Flynn, not Michael Flynn, the general who used to have Trump's ear, and the headline distracted me into thinking Trump's old confidant had taken a swipe at him. No sooner do I succumb to the click than I get the feeling there's nothing here that isn't already understood from the headline, which now looks like a one-liner for a late-night talk-show host.

But Trump himself introduced the idea that he's playing a card game. From the text of the speech:
No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions. When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems. But, one way or another, these problems will be solved -- I'm a problem solver -- and, in the end, we will win.
He didn't say "I was dealt a bad and very complex hand," nor did he say "we will play to win." He didn't stress the card-playing metaphor, and but — by using the word "hand" — Trump played into the hands of comedians and headline writers who easily connect his presidential rhetoric to his old work in the gambling business.

The term "double down" comes from blackjack: "to double the bet after one has seen the initial cards, with the requirement that one and only one additional card be drawn." That's the OED, which explains the extended use: "to engage in risky behaviour, esp. when one is already in a dangerous situation." I'm fascinated by one of the examples, from a 1991 set of essays by Joseph Epstein called "Line Out of a Walk."

Epstein's weird title is easily understood once you learn that the artist Paul Klee described how he draws by saying, "I take a line out for a walk." And if that interests you, remember I have a whole series of blog posts called "How to draw/paint like Paul Klee," including "Approximating biomorphs," which sounds frog-egg-related, and see how this blog post is taking a line out for a walk?

Anyway, Epstein's quote, illustrating how to use "double down," is "Let me double down..and see if I can't win some points for being a racist by asserting that, for some while now, black men have worn hats with more flair than anyone else in America."

And that's where this walk abruptly ends, because Amazon's "look inside" feature excludes the page with that quote and there's no Kindle edition. I'll just assume the venerable essayist is only joking about being a racist, back in 1991 when smart white people were comfortable with the notion that everyone is racist and exposing a detail of one's own particular racism felt like a mark of sophistication. 

"That was what she did. She just wandered places. She trusted somebody, and then this is what happened."

Said Christopher Harress‏, a colleague of the 30-year-old free-lance reporter Kim Wall who took a ride on a "personal submarine" and never returned, quoted in "A man accused of killing a journalist on his private submarine ‘buried her at sea,’ police say" (WaPo).

The "inventor" of the submarine, Peter Madsen, says she died in an accident.
Before his story changed, Madsen told police that he dropped Wall off from the ship late on Aug. 10, and later barely made it after the ballast tank malfunctioned and the Nautilus sank in less than a minute. “I couldn’t close any hatches or anything,” Madsen told a Danish television station.

But a witness contradicted this. He told reporters that he saw Madsen emerge from the belly of the vessel and stay in the submarine's tower until water began pouring into it. Only then did Madsen swim to a nearby boat, the witness said. “There was no panic at all,” he told a Danish outlet. “The man was absolutely calm.”

The Washington Post takes Daily Caller click bait... probably because Chelsea Clinton got something right.

You don't have to click on any of this:

1. The Daily Caller: "It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House." (The occasion: Barron Trump, wearing a T-shirt and shorts, was photographed walking with his parents from Air Force One after some trip from New Jersey back to Washington. Barron's mother is wearing a sun dress (with the usual high heels) and his father is wearing the same thing he always wears. The Daily Caller refers to Melania and Donald's clothes as "their Sunday best" — an old-fashioned expression that isn't even accurate, since bare shoulders are a traditional no-no for church.)

2. Chelsea Clinton tweeted (linking to The Daily Caller): "It's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone & let him have the private childhood he deserves."

3. The Washington Post followed on with: "Chelsea Clinton defends Barron Trump after conservative website bashes his clothes."

August 21, 2017

Trump's Afghanistan speech.

Chasing a break in the clouds to get a look at the 85% solar eclipse.

It was overcast here today in Madison, so we jumped in the car and headed for the blue:


About 40 minutes north we pulled over where if all else failed we still had a great look at the prairie:


We got a nice crisp view of the eclipse using the glasses I'd picked up at Walmart. I shared my glasses with Meade and with a nice couple from Mineral Point who happened to drive up. After the peak of the eclipse, we drove a short distance to Palfrey's Glen, where the eclipse affected the dappling light:


And we hiked all the way to the waterfall, where a big patch of light gave an excellent view of the last part of the eclipse:


On the way back home, we took the Merrimac Ferry across Lake Wisconsin:


Did you break all the rules and look at the sun? Trump did!

Pics, at CNN, of the Prez squinting at the famous disc of fire.

"Even talking about this… Men get so mad when they hear women talk about them this way. They get so defensive."

I watched that video a few days ago, and it's haunting me. Something about the demeanor of the 2 women — Amanda Marcotte and Fiona Helmsley — is just so weirdly enervated as they bemoan the deplorable energy ("fragility") of men.

More transcript here, at Salon:
I think the single greatest threat, and I’ll say to humanity, at the moment is male fragility, and men just not being able to process their feelings of insecurity, their feelings of anger....

What they were chanting in Charlottesville: ‘You will not replace us.’ Who is trying? Who is trying to replace you?...

I think it’s just the way that society raises them. Women are raised to have some concern about the way that they look, and they’re encouraged to be more sensitive. A lot of men aren’t....
So they're taking the nurture side of the old nature-or-nurture argument. And they're happier with women because they've been nurtured to care about how they look? Shouldn't a feminist oppose the nurturing of women to care about how they look and whether they're "more sensitive"? That sounds as though low-level vanity is meritorious.

And oddly enough those Charlottesville Alt-Right guys were concerned about how they look. There's this (in Vice):
... Andrew Anglin, who runs the popular hate site the Daily Stormer, published a truly astounding blog post... that explains how the movement he helped build should market itself [at the Charlottesville rally]....

"It may be a trend, but I can’t be the only person to find the term ‘cougar’ repulsive."

"It’s predatory, naff, insulting to the woman and the man. And ‘toyboy’ isn’t exactly complimentary to anyone, either. (A boy to be toyed with? No, thanks.) Instead, I’m going to campaign for older women who are dating younger men to henceforth be called WHIPs – Women who are Hot, Intelligent and in their Prime. And the men shall be called really bloody lucky."

From "Now I'm in my 50s, young men want to date me: Welcome to the world of WHIPS" (in The Telegraph).

Nuclear enthusiasm posters from North Korea.

More at "With Color and Fury, Anti-American Posters Appear in North Korea" (NYT).
“What is typical in these posters is the image of an undaunted, fierce North Korea that is not fazed by the moves by the United States or the United Nations,” Koen de Ceuster, an expert on North Korea at Leiden University in the Netherlands, told Reuters.

“It reinforces the images of the strides North Korea made in missile capability,” he said, “and how North Korea is undaunted by any challenges to its sovereignty.”

"This is the second time in the past two months where a US guided-missile destroyer has been involved in a collision in the region."

"In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven navy sailors were killed, and two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald were removed after the incident."

And, in the past 24 hours, "Five US Navy sailors are injured and another 10 missing after guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker early on Monday morning (Aug 21) off the coast of Singapore."

How are accidents like this possible? 

I'm worried someone is messing with our navigation systems.
etbass said:
Starting to look like the US Navy is pretty vulnerable to fairly primitive battle tactics that have been around a couple millennia.
Which seems more likely to you: free polls

I served in the Navy and spent many hours doing underway deck watches as an officer. I would like to know exactly what the deck watches were doing during the 30 minutes prior to the collisions. Were the watchers distracted? Internet surfing? Chatting up enlisted sea(wo)men?

Published comments after the first one gave us no information other than the heroics after the collision.
Much as we should feel concern for the personnel who are injured, missing, or killed, we should resist being manipulated by demands to pay attention only to that and not to the serious questions about why this has happened twice now.

"But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of the perfect object."

"This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is."

Said Harry Shearer, one of the few people who have actually seen the long-suppressed "The Day the Clown Cried." The movie, directed by Jerry Lewis, starred Jerry Lewis as a comedian who made fun of Hitler and got arrested and forced to entertain children in a Nazi death camp.
Lewis biographer Shawn Levy probably sums it up for many of us when he says the interest in Clown is the “the inconceivable oddness of it. Jerry Lewis is still such a strange and singular bird that I think the very concept is intriguing. And the people who’ve seen the film and spoken about it – Harry Shearer, say – are so vivid in their description that they’ve made it a holy grail. Plus, the fascination with grindhouse, Ed Wood, and movies so bad they’re good (a dubious category) virtually insures there’s a cult for something like this.”
Here's Jerry Lewis saying it will never be seen because it's bad and he's embarrassed by it and he's grateful he had the power to suppress it.

But he didn't destroy it, and in fact he donated it, along with other films, to the Smithsonian, and the instructions are simply that it not be shown until at least 2025. And Lewis once said:
“After I’m gone, who knows what’s going to happen? The only thing that I do feel, that I always get a giggle out of, some smart, young guy is going to come up with an idea, and he’s going to run the fucking thing. I would love that. Because he’s going to see a hell of a movie!”
He's gone now, so maybe we will see it. I've expressed my opinion before (in 2013):
Even if it was in the end, a terrible idea — but wasn't it basically the idea in "Life Is Beautiful"? — can't we see it now, with the understanding that it was a mistake and extract the good and learn from the lesson about what badness is?
It ended with a notoriously cringe-inducing scene of cavorting clown Lewis leading the laughing kids into the gas chamber. Overcome by the grief of what he is being forced to do, he chooses to stay in the gas chamber with them as they are killed.
Let us see it. Of all the Nazi-related things to be ashamed of... maybe this excessive shame about bad art is shameful. Or is it the other way around... and more bad art should be destroyed before anyone can see it?

The sun rises again, not knowing or caring...

... about the United States, where millions are motoring to position themselves in a shadow the moon will cast — for a couple minutes — on a place called the United States.


That's a photograph I took just now from our backyard in Madison, Wisconsin. The sky was very orange at that moment, but the orange has dissipated in the couple minutes it's taken me to get the picture up here.

Yes, we will not be among the millions in the moon shadow. It's not that we didn't plan. We were onto the eclipse very early and had hotel reservations in Boise, Idaho, which looks like just about the best place to be. But we canceled. It was one of the many things we could have done, but clouds got in the way.

ADDED: I seriously considered hopping in the car and barreling down to Nebraska — not worrying about hotels, just sleeping in the car when necessary. But here's the morning weather report for Nebraska:
The morning showers and thunderstorms could leave some significant cloud cover over parts of the region through Monday afternoon, leading to potentially difficult eclipse viewing in some locations, the National Weather Service office in Valley said. However, a few breaks in the clouds cannot be ruled out. In southeast Nebraska, there is a good chance of high-level clouds, but they may be thin and broken with peeks at the sky possible. Looks at the sky may be more possible closer to the Interstate 80 corridor and north, the weather service said.
That's where I'd be, on I-80. But what's I-80 going to be like today — especially if people start chasing the breaks in the clouds? I'm picturing people pulling over everywhere on I-80 and then just even stopping right in the lanes and the whole thing becoming an insane parking lot. Then everyone runs out of gas, including the gas stations, and we have to wait until the federal government saves us.

At CNN, it says:
"This will be like Woodstock 200 times over -- but across the whole country," said Alex Young, solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
I missed the real Woodstock too. I had a ride and all, but I couldn't afford the $17 ticket and how was I to know people would just tear down the fences and get in free? And yet my friend who would have driven me there came home and told me that with all the rain and mud it was impossible to enjoy "unless you were part pig."

August 20, 2017

The great Jerry Lewis has died!

NYT obit.
A mercurial personality who could flip from naked neediness to towering rage, Mr. Lewis seemed to contain multitudes, and he explored all of them. His ultimate object of contemplation was his own contradictory self, and he turned his obsession with fragmentation, discontinuity and the limits of language into a spectacle that enchanted children, disturbed adults and fascinated postmodernist critics.
ADDED: I like this 1995 interview (with Charles Grodin, whose show I, unlike most people, loved):

And here's the car chase scene from "The Disorderly Orderly," which I saw when I was 13:

That scene revealed a whole new dimension of hilarity to me. I'd had no idea how funny something could be — just waves and waves of funnier and funnier. With possibly one exception, it's the most I ever laughed at a movie.

AND: Here's the Marc Maron interview with Jerry Lewis.

At the Questionable Artwork Café...

... you are invited, once again, to examine the political significance and possible offensiveness of a painting. This time there's no hiding the name of the painter. Even if I smudged out the signature, I think you'd know it's Norman Rockwell. I'll add that it's from 1926 and titled "Love Song." The rest is up to you. I especially encourage you to discover the 5 things that are egregiously wrong with this picture.

And it's a café post, so that means that you can talk about any subject and that I remind you that if you want to encourage my scurrilous scribblings here, you can shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal or make a direct contribution using the PayPal buttons in the sidebar. The advantage of using the Amazon Portal is that you can buy things you want to buy anyway and send a contribution to me without paying anything more. The advantage of using the PayPal button is you're not burdened by pesky packages arriving by truck and you'll have a space where you can write a note that I'll get by email. For example, recently somebody gave me $100 and said: "I am particularly grateful for your recent focus on the media."

"When you put a hat and sunglasses on it, it kind of takes the raunchiness out of it."

"I want to raise the bar for dick pics. If you’re going to send one, at least make me laugh. Put some effort into it."
[Soraya] Doolbaz says her husband is very supportive of the idea and dick pics in general, noting that they dated long-distance for a while. Before that, she says she received enough dick pics to give her plenty of inspiration for the project: “Oh my God, when I was single, I would get a ton of them,” she says. “And my friends would get them too and we would show them to each other.”
That's from a Village Voice piece published in 2015. I found that as a result of searches inspired by discussion in the comments to yesterday's "Questionable Artwork Café," where I'd invited people to impose political analysis on a Thomas Hart Benton painting of a farm scene. Participating in the comments myself, I said:
Huge vagina symbol in foreground.

Empowering for women or insulting?

Horse is big phallic symbol, but far from adequate to that huge vagina. Also the harnessing of the horse is emphasized. Is that empowering for women?
And after I got a little pushback for seeing a vagina symbol, I added:
Freud thought a hat was a vagina symbol.
And then the fanciful notion:
That suggests that when a man is having sex with a woman, he's wearing her.

Not wearing her out. Wearing her like she's a very elaborate hat.
Robt C brought up one of my all-time favorite books:
If what Althouse says about sex and hats is true, it give a whole new meaning to Oliver Sacks' book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
I said:
Suddenly, everything makes sense!

The man wasn't wrong at all. He was right and everyone else was wrong. And that's the way of the world, if we could only see things from a different point.

As Bob Dylan sang: "We always did feel the same/We just saw it from a different point of view."
Meanwhile, CWJ had said, "Well there are pussy hats after all." But those are hats for your head. To get the humor — and it's my favorite form of humor — you have to picture the ridiculous big-and-small foolery. The penis is wearing that hat. I figured somebody had already made a project out of putting little hats on penises, and I was right. The big-and-small element or humor is not present in the art project shown at The Village Voice. Soraya Doolbaz — great name! — makes penis-sized clothing, including hats, and dresses real penises up for posing in photographs. In the woman-as-hat notion that amused me, the "head" for the hat is much smaller than the head in a normal hat, but the hat is much larger than the normal hat, so you've got a very radical disproportion.

As I said in a post back in 2009, I have long been aware I am usually amused by humor about the size of things:
We were talking about the expression "postage stamp lawn," that is, a very small lawn, perhaps the size of an area rug. But what if there really were a postage stamp the size of an area rug? That would be a huge postage stamp. Ha ha. Imagine the size of the envelope you'd put it on. Okay. That to me is hilarious, and it reminded me of the joke I found so funny — decades ago — that I laughed so hard the teller of the joke got mad at me for laughing so much. I was cutting the joker's hair — I used to think I could do haircuts and acted upon that belief — and I noticed a bright red dot on the top of his head — the size of a pimple, but not a pimple — and not something he'd ever have noticed. I said, "What's this red dot on top of your head?" He said, "That's my Santa Claus hat!"
I have ever since regarded that as the funniest spontaneous remark I've ever heard, and maybe that will give you some insight into how I feel about the woman-as-hat notion that amused me so much yesterday. Or maybe you have the same taste in big-and-small jokes and you're laughing too. Click the "big and small" tag for more insight into Althouse's big-and-small fetish. In any case, I hope you like the photographs of Soraya Doolbaz.

And apologies to all of you who are thinking I waited nearly 4 hours for the 3d post of the day and this — this!! — is what I get? This post, half written, spurred a real-world conversation that took up nearly the entire interval. So that makes me think if you'll find plenty to say in the comments.

NYT headline offers Trump a measure of praise.

"Protesters Flood Streets, and Trump Offers a Measure of Praise."

Here's the part of the article about Trump:
President Trump, who has faced unyielding — and bipartisan — criticism after saying that there was “blame on both sides” in Charlottesville, tweeted Saturday that he wanted “to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”

He also wrote: “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

It was an abrupt shift in tone. The president posted earlier Saturday that it appeared there were “many anti-police agitators in Boston.”
Nothing in the Times about Trump's need to delete and retweet after misspelling "heal" as "heel," a topic of mirth in the lesser New York paper, The Daily News, where the headline is "Trump roasted over pair of tweets saying country must ‘heel.'"

That's not just a nonsense misspelling like covfefe. "Heel" has meaning, as a tweeter named @dexter_doggie barked: “Donald Trump intends to bring you to heel."

"Every time I do your show, it's almost like I'm on a black station... There's a certain clairvoyance that black folks born with."

"We don't have as much as we used to, but that's always been there. And so, they can listen to you and know ain't no tricking going on, ain't no nothing. They don't even have to question. Very seldom you hear a black person talking about conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory is The New York Times and The Washington Post and NBC and CBS. And just thank God that all these radio stations like yours...."

That's just the first thing I ran into as I looked for old video of Dick Gregory — old in the sense of not things put together on the occasion of his death. That's Dick Gregory talking to Alex Jones.

Here's the obituary in the conspiracy theory New York Times:
Dick Gregory, the pioneering black satirist who transformed cool humor into a barbed force for civil rights in the 1960s, then veered from his craft for a life devoted to protest and fasting in the name of assorted social causes, health regimens and conspiracy theories, died Saturday in Washington. He was 84....

In 1962, Mr. Gregory joined a demonstration for black voting rights in Mississippi. That was a beginning. He threw himself into social activism body and soul, viewing it as a higher calling.

Arrests came by the dozens. In a Birmingham, Ala., jail in 1963, he wrote, he endured “the first really good beating I ever had in my life.”

He added: “It was just body pain, though. The Negro has a callus growing on his soul, and it’s getting harder and harder to hurt him there.”...

There seemed few causes he would not embrace. He took to fasting for weeks on end, his once-robust body shrinking at times to 95 pounds. Across the decades he went on dozens of hunger strikes, over issues including the Vietnam War, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, police brutality, South African apartheid, nuclear power, prison reform, drug abuse and American Indian rights.

And he reveled in conspiracy theories, elaborating on them in language that could be enigmatic and circuitous. Hidden hands, Mr. Gregory insisted, were behind everything from a crack cocaine epidemic to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; from the murders of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon to the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr. Whom to blame? “Whoever the people are who control the system,” he told The Washington Post in 2000.
Correction appended: "An earlier version of this article misstated the year of the Sept. 11 attacks. They were in 2001, not 2011." Of all the dates to botch.