February 25, 2018

Weird Al-evator.

Yesterday, after reading the Washington Post article about Weird Al, I watched his video "Tacky," which — the article explains — was made in a single unedited shot that includes a ride down an elevator:

Here's the Pharrell Williams video it parodies, which is charmingly entertaining but not as inventive photographically. You can watch the 2 videos playing side by side here. There's also a video at the WaPo link with background on the making of "Tacky," where we learn that the room we see in that freeze frame is also in "The Big Lebowski."

Last night, I dreamed I needed to get around in a strange hotel with an unusual, confusing elevator. I said "The hotel had a weird elevator... a weird al-evator."

Peter Sloterdijk is known for "impressionistic coinages—' anthropotechnics,' 'negative gynecology,' 'co-immunism' —that occasionally suggest the lurking presence of some larger system."

"A signature theme of his work is the persistence of ancient urges in supposedly advanced societies. In 2006, he published a book arguing that the contemporary revolt against globalization can be seen as a misguided expression of 'noble' sentiments, which, rather than being curbed, should be redirected in ways that left-liberals cannot imagine. He has described the Presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as a choice 'between two helplessly gesticulating models of normality, one of which appeared to be delegitimatized, the other unproven,' and is unsurprised that so many people preferred the latter.... Sloterdijk’s comfort with social rupture has made him a contentious figure in Germany, where stability, prosperity, and a robust welfare state are seen as central to the country’s postwar achievement. Many Germans define themselves by their moral rectitude, as exhibited by their reckoning with the Nazi past and, more recently, by the government’s decision to accept more refugees from the Syrian civil war than any other Western country. Sloterdijk is determined to disabuse his countrymen of their polite illusions. He calls Germany a 'lethargocracy' and the welfare state a 'fiscal kleptocracy.' He has decried Merkel’s attitude toward refugees, drawn on right-wing thinkers such as Martin Heidegger and Arnold Gehlen, and even speculated about genetic enhancement of the human race. As a result, some progressives refuse to utter his name in public...."

From "A Celebrity Philosopher Explains the Populist Insurgency/Peter Sloterdijk has spent decades railing against the pieties of liberal democracy. Now his ideas seem prophetic" by Thomas Meaney (in The New Yorker).

ADDED: The term "negative gynecology" never reappears in the article, and I was curious enough to dig up "Taking Up The Challenge Of Space: New Conceptualisations Of Space In The Work Of Peter Sloterdijk And Graham Harman" by Marijn Nieuwenhuis in a journal called "continent," which I'd have advised is a terrible name — what with its medical, excretory meaning — but the subtitle is "maps a topology of unstable confluences and ranges across new thinking, traversing interstices and alternate directions in culture, theory, biopolitics and art," so get your head out of the toilet. Nieuwenhuis explains:
Sloterdijk empirically demonstrates that within the womb... it is impossible to draw an epistemological distinction between the object and the subject. This is because the foetus does neither recognise the placenta nor the “‘nobjects’ ([ie.] neither subjects nor objects) such as placental blood, intrauterine acoustics, and other medial givens… [The] child develops [therefore] an identity not by recognizing itself at a distance in the mirror but through presubjective resonances” (van Tuinen 2007: 281). This “negative gynaecology” (negative Gynäkologie), Sloterdijk argues, embodies the perfect immersion of “Being-a-pair” [Paar-Sein] in a bubble, which ultimately bursts when the natal process commences.

“In terms of its dramatic content, what one generally calls ‘cutting the [umbilical] cord’ is the introduction of the child into the sphere of ego-forming clarity. To cut means to state individuality with the knife. The one who performs the cut is the first separation-giver in the subject’s history; through the gift of separation, he provides the child with the stimulus for existence in the external media.” (Sloterdijk 2011: 388). The moment the child is “thrown-into-the-World” and has bid farewell to the placenta (“primal companion” or the Urbegleiter) is also the moment in which it will have to form new relationships and in turn create and dwell in new bubbles....
Does the New Yorker article ever talk about the womb? Only here:
“The car is like a uterus on wheels,” [Sloterdijk] says. “It has the advantage over its biological model for being linked to independent movement and a feeling of autonomy. The car also has phallic and anal components—the primitive-aggressive competitive behavior, and the revving up and overtaking which turns the other, slower person into an expelled turd.”
The return of the toilet.

February 24, 2018

At the 15 Minutes Café...

... the suspense is killing me.

By the way... remember to do your Amazon shopping through the Althouse Portal.

"The House Intelligence Committee released a redacted Democratic memorandum on Saturday countering Republican claims that top F.B.I. and Justice Department officials had abused their powers in spying on a former Trump campaign aide."

The NYT reports.

Here's the whole memo.

Trump's tweets in response:

1. "The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!"

2. "Dem Memo: FBI did not disclose who the clients were - the Clinton Campaign and the DNC. Wow!

3. “'Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump' @FoxNews Of course not, because there is none, and never was. This whole Witch Hunt is an illegal disgrace...and Obama did nothing about Russia!"

4. "'Congressman Schiff omitted and distorted key facts' @FoxNews So, what else is new. He is a total phony!"

He's on the Judge Jeanine show right now, phoning it in. He's going from one topic to another, seemingly in full campaign mode.

The Olympic squirrel.

No, he was talking about Clinton.



"Wooden circles in structure of new UW-Madison music hall aren't windows but there to improve acoustics."

The Wisconsin State Journal explains those weird wagon-wheels we've wondered about.
“The acoustical considerations for all three of [the performance] spaces makes for very complicated architecture and mechanics,” said Peter Heaslett, UW-Madison’s project manager. “Just to keep the outside noise out makes it complicated.”

The acoustic system can be altered depending on the type of concert or event in the concert hall, which Heaslett called a “box inside of a box.” Heaslett said the “round windows that aren’t really windows” connect to large, open chambers on each side of the concert hall that will improve the acoustics in the hall....

"Church was every Sunday and sleepovers were forbidden, as was anything even remotely risque."

"Yankovic remembers an issue of TV Guide arriving at the house that contained a photograph of an actress in a bikini. Mary took out a felt pen to fill out the suit. Did he ever do drugs? No. Because his parents told him not to."

From "Was ‘Weird Al’ the real star all along?/After nearly 40 years of parodying celebrities, the accordion-playing nerd has become a legend in his own right"(WaPo).

The "flaunt"/"vaunt" distinction.

As footnoted in the previous post, I just use the word "vaunt" for the first time in the 50,000+-post history of this blog. I almost wrote "flaunt," but I stopped and wondered, why isn't it "vaunt"? I've used the word "flaunt" many times — including making fun of mixing it up with "flout" — but maybe "flaunt" has, in my mind, eclipsed the similar word "vaunt."

Don't get too cocky about knowing the "flaunt"/"flout" distinction if you are not even keeping track of the "flaunt"/"vaunt" distinction.

Here's "Flaunt, Flout, Vaunt" (in the AMA Style Insider):
[T]he confusion between flaunt and vaunt stems not only from their marked similarity in sound but also from their somewhat similar meanings (to display oneself boastfully or ostentatiously, often so as to show off one’s attractiveness or possessions, compared with using language boastfully, often to boast of an accomplishment). Indeed, given the similarities in sound and meaning that exist between these two words, it is perhaps surprising that they are not confused more often. On the whole, however, language users usually seem to recognize the difference between these words, and even descriptive usage does not yet support the use of vaunt in place of flaunt or vice versa.

In short, flaunt, flout, and vaunt are sometimes used as malapropisms for one another, particularly in spoken language. However, these terms have distinct meanings and, despite their similarity in sound as well as the increasing support in some circles for sometimes using flaunt in place of flout, currently it is preferable to maintain the distinctions between these terms and to use them as they have predominantly been used over time. Or, to take some liberties with the quasi-transitive:
If you’ve got it, flaunt it;

If you did it, vaunt it;

If they forbid it, flout it.—Phil Sefton, ELS
A better poem:
When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and check'd even by the selfsame sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
ADDED: I just spent a little time trying to understand that "better poem," which is Shakespeare's Sonnet 15, and I quickly ended up doing a Google search which brought me to "You’re Missing Shakespeare’s Best, Most Sophisticated Boner Jokes" by Nathalie Lagerfeld. The title is so English teacher. Unfortunately, it says nothing about Sonnet 15, and I'm left with stupid suspicions engrafted in me by English teachers of yore. Cliff's Notes says Sonnet 15 just means the youth — the entire man (not merely one part) — is youthful, and knowing he'll get old makes him seem even better in his currently youthful state.

I tried to watch Trump's CPAC speech. I'll just read the transcript and blog it, beginning at the place where I clicked it off and said "It's a white power speech."

The video is embedded in the previous post, along with some comments from last night's open thread. I watched a little, thought Trump looked a lot better than usual, theorized that he'd used that classic beauty trick to reduce puffiness, then clicked it off when he said:
Year after year, leaders have stood on this stage to discuss what we can do together to protect our heritage, to promote our culture, and to defend our freedom.
Here's what I said out loud (to my audience of one): "That's a dog whistle. White power." Questioned, I said, "heritage... culture... freedom..." Even freedom? "Yes, in context with our heritage, our culture, and then our freedom. Our freedom."

I switched to the transcript (here, at Vox). I'll live-blog my reading of it, with excerpts and commentary. Trump forefronts his judicial appointments, presumably because this is the place where he can claim and successfully vaunt* conservative credentials:
We have confirmed a record number, so important, of circuit court judges and we’re going to be putting in a lot more. And they will interpret the law as written and we have confirmed an incredible new Supreme Court justice, a great man, Neil Gorsuch. Right. 
He admits no doubt here. Conservative = doing it right = Gorsuch. I won't slow this post down to lawprofsplain what's specious about all that.

Trump himself swiftly moves on to his second-best accomplishment, taxes:
We have passed massive, biggest in history, tax cuts and reforms. I don’t use the word reform...
I didn't just say what I said.

"Got to watch the entire CPAC speech on CSPAN tonight. Trump was in his prime and relaxed with his friends."

"How anyone honestly still hates him after this year of being an authentic leader and brilliant at communicating truth to us is a mystery," wrote traditionalguy (in last night's Cactus & Mushroom Café).

Here's the speech (which I haven't watched, not yet anyway):

Grackle responds:
It is fear. They know he is systematically ending their game. It must be difficult to contemplate obscurity after so long on top.

I would like President Trump to tweet (favorably) about Jordan Peterson and Scott Adams. Both Peterson and Scott are NOT “conservatives.” Both extremes of the political spectrum (radical Left, radical Right) are condemned by them. Neither of them are “ideological” in any classical sense of the word.

Scott is a self-professed casual classical liberal who favors socialized healthcare and is merely an explainer of the Trump phenomenon and who provides some useful analytical tools to help those who are interested to understand Trump.

Peterson is a bona fide intellectual who at the moment is attacked by the Left and is thus mostly concerned with them but who has no love of the radical Right. This is not immediately evident since the radical Right is mostly leaving him alone and he doesn’t have to respond to them. Peterson, for instance, is conservative on sex and pornography. He advises never to have sex on the first date (or second or third, for that matter), to be cautious with new encounters and to ignore pornography which he believes is dangerously soul-killing. Keep in mind that the man is a practicing clinical psychologist, as well as a university professor.

A tweet from Trump regarding either of them would detonate the usual ideological Leftist shitstorm and that is good. The more of these shitstorms Trump can generate the better because they serve to reveal the true nature of the neo-Marxist Left – which is most of the MSM, educators, intellectuals and Democrats and which is arbitrary, totalitarian and anti-intellectual.

And Trump himself is anti-ideology. Trump is a slightly right of center pragmatist. And he is pulling the Right more toward the middle of the spectrum – which is also good because the radical Right (alt-rightists and white supremacists), while small at the moment, could grow quickly into a larger movement, which would be very bad. If most of the Right is near the center of the spectrum it would marginalize the radical Right. Eventually I believe Trump will also pull the Left more toward the center. This is where I want the bulk of the political class to be – near the middle.

The only things I think that can stop Trump now is assassination (which I worry about constantly) and an unpopular war, which I doubt will happen.

February 23, 2018

At the Cactus & Mushroom Café...


... you can talk about anything you like.

And please remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon whenever you need to buy anything on line.

"Oh, I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks. I work hard at it. It doesn’t look bad. Hey, we are hanging in, we are hanging in, we are hanging in there. Right? Together, we are hanging in.”

That's Trump at CPAC. I found that at the NYT, which fleshes out the wisp of a story with other details about Trump's efforts around his bald spot, such as the time in June 2015 when he had a woman at some campaign event touch his hair and answer the question "Is that sucker real?" Her answer was "It’s thin, but it’s real."

A Madison man walks into Shorewood Elementary School and hands a teacher a piece of cardboard with the word "gun" written on it.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports. What was he doing? I think I understand:
Shorewood Hills Police Chief Aaron Chapin said Jonathan M. Fitzgerald, 35, activated a front door buzzer at the school, 1105 Shorewood Blvd., around 10 a.m., requesting access to the building. When he was allowed in, he walked past the school office where visitors are required to check in, Chapin said.

A staff member followed Fitzgerald as he went down the hall to the classroom his child was in, Chapin said. “Fitzgerald made statements to the teacher in the room about being an intruder who was allowed access to the school and gave the teacher a piece of cardboard with the word ‘gun’ on it,” Chapin said.

Chapin said Fitzgerald left the classroom and went to the administrative office where he made similar statements and handed staff another piece of cardboard with “gun” written on it, then left the school building.
Based only on those facts, I would assume that he was trying to demonstrate that the children are not safe, that a person with an actual gun would not have been stopped.

He was arrested. On what charge? Disorderly conduct. That is defined in the Wisconsin statutes as "violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance." The statute goes on to specifically provide that "a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading a firearm, or for carrying or going armed with a firearm or a knife, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or the firearm or the knife is concealed or openly carried." But, of course, a piece of cardboard with the word "gun" written on it is not a firearm.

ADDED: Meanwhile, in Allen Parish, Louisiana, they got a search warrant against teenager who made a comment about the way the square root symbol looks like a gun.
"The students were working together, and a student made a math symbol of a square root sign, which kind of looks like a pistol. And he was helping a weaker student, and the student says, 'Well, that looks like a pistol!' And he just made a comment [like] 'let's just get to work before I shoot you with a pistol,” said Superintendent Doucet.

Gossip turned it into a rumor about the student plotting to carry out a mass shooting at Oberlin High School. The rumor warranted a search of the student's home for guns.

"I never know what I’ll do here when I walk in the door. I get here about 10 and leave late in the afternoon. It’s sort of magical."

"I’ll screw around. I’ll write in my journal. I’ll write letters. I’ll play the piano. Maybe I take a nap. Maybe I wake up at four in the afternoon with all these thoughts and characters in my head and ask myself, ‘Now what’s all this?’ and start to write. I really don’t understand any of it but it sure beats working... I really am so fortunate to have discovered the career that I have.... I was talking with my Broadway producer and he said, ‘Why don’t you write a play about Harvey Weinstein?’ And so I did."

Said David Mamet, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, which describes the "multilevel townhouse that functions as an office that he comes to five or six days a week":
There are guitars on the floor, a piano in the corner, art on the walls, comfortable furniture and, among many talismans of Chicago (old postcards, old button pins), a small framed poster from Riverview, the bygone amusement park.
The house isn't in Chicago. It's in Santa Monica, California.

What an edgy KFC ad.

KFC is apologizing for running out of chicken (in the UK).

"In the Philippine capital, Manila, meat is recycled from landfill tips, washed and re-cooked."

"It's called 'pagpag' and it's eaten by the poorest people who can't afford to buy fresh meat." BBC video:

ADDED: I'm trying to understand the Britishism "landfill tips." As an American, my first thought was that people are hearing the news — getting a "tip" — that meat has been deposited in a landfill. But I think the "tip" is the deposit of garbage into the landfill. A container is dumped or tipped, and where we say "dump," they say "tip." I looked it up in the OED, which has "rubbish tip" — with no definition — in its entry for "rubbish." 3 quotes are offered, perhaps to orient us, and one is the deliberately weird: "On a step a gnome totting among a rubbishtip crouches to shoulder a sack of rags and bones." That's James Joyce, "Ulysses." Google Books gives me the larger context. I scroll up to get a running leap into it and find: "Peep at his wearables. By mighty! What's he got? Jubilee mutton. Bovril, by James. Wants it real bad. D'ye ken bare socks? Seedy cuss in the Richmond? Rawthere! Thought he had a deposit of lead in his penis. Trumpery insanity...."

"Vulnerable women are most likely being 'extensively' abused across the UK and ministers need to urgently review sex exploitation laws..."

"The government said it would 'look carefully' at Mr Spicer's 33 recommendations, which also included a need for research into the cultural background of abusers, many of whom in the case of Sanctuary were from a 'predominantly Asian or British Minority Ethnic culture or background.'Mr Spicer, who carried out the serious case review... said it was clear 'adults were being targeted, groomed and exploited' as well as children. But he said authorities did not have the powers to intervene with adults to stop them 'making bad choices"' or forming 'inappropriate relationships.'"

BBC reports.

"More than 100 girls are still missing three days after suspected Boko Haram extremists attacked their school in northern Nigeria..."

"... parents said Thursday, as fears grew that they may have been kidnapped... Boko Haram horrified the world when it abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok almost four years ago. Though some escaped and many others were released as part of negotiations, about 100 remain with their captors. The extremist group has kidnapped thousands of people over the years."

The L.A. Times reports.