March 27, 2017

Red rock landscape.


In Utah, on March 9th. With Meade.

Use the comments for late-night and overnight discussion of whatever you can get going.


Elon Musk's new company — "focused on developing the capabilities of the brain through technological augmentation."

Trump is amused by the "very, very glamorous" desk.

Seriously hardcore resistance to travel.

In the "Muddy Boots Café," where I alluded to our recent sojourn in Utah, rhhardin said:
I can take the somewhat wind-sheltered daily bike route to the more distant Kroger or the exposed route to the nearer Kroger, for getting out of the house; and nice wifi at home.

What more do you need?
It helps if you're repelled by travel, say from early exposure to world-spanning business trips. No exoticism is worth the hassle and motels. You're always looking forward to getting home.

Glenn Loury and I resist the resistance to Trump.

In this hot new episode of Bloggingheads (recorded on Friday), Glenn Loury objects strenuously to the effort to treat Trump as abnormal, and I agree. Despite that basic agreement, we find a lot to talk about:

[VIDEO APPEARS AFTER THE JUMP.... because I can't figure out how to get it not to autoplay.]

At the Muddy Boots Café...


... you can talk about anything you like... including leggings — already under discussion here — why Meade really wanted to take this picture of me, and whether we could be happily mediocre in southern Utah.

The mud on my boots is not from Utah. Those would be my other boots, the ones with the orange mud. These are my new boots, the ones I told you I was buying from Amazon, and, as you know, I like to remind you to support this blog — if you like it — by doing your Amazon shopping through the Althouse portal.

You'd think, given Trump and his wall, that NYC wouldn't go for an art project called "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors."

But it's ironic.
Ai Weiwei, the provocative Chinese artist, will build more than 100 fences and installations around New York City this fall for “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” one of his most large-scale public art projects to date....
You're not supposed to think that fences are good.
“When the Berlin Wall fell, there were 11 countries with border fences and walls,” Mr. Ai said. “By 2016, that number had increased to 70. We are witnessing a rise in nationalism, an increase in the closure of borders, and an exclusionary attitude towards migrants and refugees, the victims of war and the casualties of globalization.”
So he's building fences against fences. It's sort of like we're supposed to hate his art. Get this thing outta here.

"What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?"/"What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life?"

Now, there's some headline to first line slippage.

The headline is good clickbait, but it sets up an argument that the author — Krista O'Reilly Davi-Digui — never makes. What's mediocre about a small, slow, simple life? Many people would say that the life described in the essay is the essential, most beautiful human life, centered on the real, immediate world of home and family.

The word "mediocre" does appear in the essay, but only to describe relatively unimportant aspects of the small, slow, simple life. Her body is mediocre. She might be a "mediocre home manager" in that she "rarely dusts," sometimes orders pizza, and has some messy "areas" in her house.

"I loved [classical music], but once I heard The 4 Seasons, forget it. That sound!"

"And when The Beatles came out, you know, initially, I didn't even care. I was still reeling from having seen The 4 Seasons on 'Ed Sullivan' doing 'Big Girls Don't Cry.' There was something about that sound. The way they looked! We didn't have guys that looked like that... or sounded like that... He was high. They said 'Walk like a man/sing like a girl.' He could get up there. But the whole vocal sound they had was just amazing. You heard the sound of the city. I said Get me down there."

Said Paul Shaffer in the new episode of "WTF with Marc Maron."

Shaffer was listening to the radio in the early 60s, at the same time I had my most intense radio experiences, and I had exactly the same reaction to The 4 Seasons and to the early Beatles. (What was the big deal in a world that already had The 4 Seasons?!). (Paul Shaffer is about a year older than I am... and exactly the same height (5'5").)

Shaffer wanted to get down there, because he was in Canada, in Thunder Bay, whence you had to drive 4 hours just to get to Duluth, the city Bob Dylan had to get down out of. Shaffer was listening to the radio at night so he could get a station in Chicago, and was blown away when "Sherry" came along.

And here's how that "Ed Sullivan" show looked:

That was a big moment for me too. I was 11. Shaffer, 12, wanted to be like Frankie Valli. Now, that is a man. I wanted to marry him.

ADDED: Frankie Valli looks so tiny there. How tall is he? He's in the 5'5" club with me and Paul.

"What you call the 'Abortion Party' I call the only party that protects and defends women's rights."

"Government has no place in the wombs of women, period. As a woman, the only parties I will ever vote for are those that recognize I'm a fully functioning human being with an autonomous right to choose what I do with my own body. Anything else would be stupid and self-defeating. (And it has nothing, really, to do with abortion, which I've never had and don't plan on having either.)"

That is — by a very wide margin — the top-voted comment at a NYT op-ed "To Win Again, Democrats Must Stop Being the Abortion Party." The op-ed, by Thomas Groome, a theology and religion education professor, is not as unsubtle as the headline makes it sound. Here's the last line: "If Democrats want to regain the Catholic vote, they must treat abortion as a moral issue, work for its continued reduction and articulate a more nuanced message than, 'We support Roe v. Wade.'"

The headline is the NYT's responsibility, and it actually is very weird. Groome never uses the expression "the Abortion Party," and his main topic is the Catholic vote, not pro-life voters in general. He uses the word "Catholic" 21 times. Why isn't "Catholic" in the headline?!

"The working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them."

Said Johnny Rotten/John Lydon. That was about Brexit...
"Where do I stand on Brexit? Well, here it goes: the working class have spoke, and I’m one of them, and I’m with them,” he said.
But he also talked about Trump. He's "a complicated fellow." And:
“As one journalist once said to me, is he the political Sex Pistol? In a way. What I dislike is the left wing media in America are trying to smear the bloke as a racist, and that’s completely not true. There are many, many problems with him as a human being but he’s not that, and there just might be a chance something good will come out of this situation because it terrifies politicians. This is a joy to behold for me.”

When host Piers Morgan described Mr. Trump as “the archetypal anti-establishment figure”, Mr. Lydon said: “Dare I say, a possible friend.”
I like the way this story looked on Drudge:

Drudge arranged that great face along with other faces, including Trump's, diagonally and youngly:

What's the real story of the 2 teenage girls who weren't allowed on a United Airlines flight because they were wearing "leggings"?

I see the airline is defending the decision of the gate agent that these kids didn't meet the condition that passengers dress appropriately. And I see the internet is expressing outrage. But what I don't see is a picture — or an adequate written description — of how the teenagers were dressed. The word "leggings" covers a lot of ground. Leggings can be very thick or very thin, very loose or so radically tight that they are stretched out to the point where the butt crack is fully on display.
The incident was first reported on Twitter by Shannon Watts, a passenger at the airport who was waiting to board a flight to Mexico.... Watts said the girl’s mother told her the two teenagers had just been turned away because the gate agent said their pants were not appropriate travel attire. The woman had a dress in her carry-on bag that the child was able to pull on over her pants, and the family boarded the flight.

“The girl pulled a dress on,” Ms. Watts said. “But please keep in mind that the dad had on shorts that did not hit his knee — they stopped maybe two or three inches above his knee — and there was no issue with that.”
So... maybe it's time to crack down on men in shorts getting on planes. (Sorry for the reappearance of the word "crack." That looks wrong. Crack down. Yes, my leggings are stretched to transparency but when I get to my seat, I'll crack down.)

The airline's explanation is that that the family in question were "pass travelers" — which means they were using a benefit offered to United Airlines employees and dependents that lets them fly free. These people are seen as "representing" the company and held to higher standards that specifically impose dress standards that don't apply to paying passengers.

Under the pass program, they're only flying standby anyway, so they were not missing "their" flight, only stuck waiting for another flight. In the meantime, they changed what they were wearing.

My only problem with all of this — and otherwise I'd 100% support United — is that the man got to wear shorts.

Also, here's United's Contract of Carriage, Rule 21, "Refusal of Transport," which does apply to all passengers:
UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point... Passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed....
Who came up with that language "at any point"? We're talking about an airplane. Scary.

March 26, 2017




In Capitol Reef National Park, photographed on March 10th.

"Petroglyph panels throughout the park depict ancient art and stories of [Fremont and ancestral Puebloan] people who lived in the area from approximately 600-1300 common era (CE)."

Feel free to talk about any subject in the comments.

And please consider supporting this blog by shopping using the Althouse Amazon Portal.

Why did the NYT crossword clue "WASP" as "Martin Van Buren was the first president who wasn't one"?

It's so absurd! Rex Parker freaks out:
What a no-good, terrible, confusing, stupid clue for a perfectly good insect. Does WASP mean "white Anglo-Saxon Protestant" here? If so ... WTF? No one used that term in the 19th century, so ... I mean, "inapt" doesn't even begin to cut it. I can only guess that this is the information at play in the non-WASP designation here:
Martin Van Buren was born on December 5, 1782, in the village of Kinderhook, New York about 20 miles (32 km) south of Albany on the Hudson River. Van Buren was the first President not born a British subject, or even of British ancestry. He was a descendant of Cornelis Maessen of the village of Buurmalsen, near the town of Buren in the Netherlands, who had come to North America in 1631 and purchased a plot of land on Manhattan Island; his son Martin Cornelisen took the surname Van Buren. (wikipedia)
No, wait, forget who knows or cares—even if you knew and cared, in what universe do you take your knowing and caring and turn it into a clue for, of all things, WASP, which is a pretty generic, and in my experience, at least mildly pejorative, term? Baffling. That was at 1-Across ... and the sourness never went away....
In the comments — this cracked me up — evil doug remembers the old "Seinfeld" dialogue:
KRAMER: Alright, so there I am at Lorenzo's - loading up my slice at the fixin's bar.. garlic and what-not... mmmm - and I see this guy over at the pizza boxes giving me the stink-eye. So I give him the crook-eye back, you know...Then, I notice that he's not alone! I'm taking on the entire Van Buren Boys!

JERRY: The Van Buren Boys? There's a street gang named after President Martin Van Buren?

KRAMER: Oh yeah, and they're just as mean as he was!

ADDED: Did you know that Martin Van Buren is the only U.S. President who did not have English as his first language? He was a native speaker of Dutch. I stumbled into that as I was retroactively adding my new tag "Van Buren" to old posts. I encountered this post from 2014 quoting John McWhorter as saying:
"In today’s America, to not be able to get down, or at least pretend to, is to be inarticulate. We live in a distinctly swaggery age. Obama, then, speaks a larger English than Romney – or Reagan, or Kennedy. It complements the fact that he is the first president since Martin Van Buren, who grew up speaking Dutch and broke into it when angry, to be raised in a household where more than just English was spoken. It’s stupid enough that Obama has to downplay his command of Indonesian to avoid looking like a Muslim; must we jump him for using the Black English spice kit?"
Does Obama speak Indonesian? CBS quoted him in July 2008 as saying: "I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing!" Was he lying? This chart lists him as having "partial mastery" of Indonesian (and, interestingly, shows that we haven't had a President who was fluent in a foreign language since FDR).

50 years ago today: "On March 26, 1967, over 10,000 congregated in Central Park for an Easter Sunday 'Be In.'"

Untapped Cities reminds us of the ignition point of what would be The Summer of Love.
The Central Park event was organized by Paul Williams, an 18-year old who had founded the first serious rock and roll magazine, Crawdaddy, as a college freshman a year earlier, and Jim Fouratt, a gay actor who would co-found the Yippies a year later. That January, San Francisco had launched its first “Human Be In,” called Gathering of the Tribes, which had drawn 30,000 people to listen to Timothy Leary, dance to the Grateful Dead, and vibe on the free acid distributed to the crowd. The New York “Be In” would lack even that level of structure (if that’s the right word…), with flyers plastered around the city simply calling on people to “come as you are” to Sheep Meadow.
Here's some video:

Here's a contemporaneous article in the Village Voice, "Central Park Rite is Medieval Pageant," by Don McNeill:
Rhythms and music and mantras from all corners of the meadow echoed in exquisite harmony, and thousands of lovers vibrated into the night. It was miraculous. It was a feast for the senses; the beauty of the colors, clothes, and shrines, the sounds and the rhythms, at once familiar, the smell of flowers and frankincense, the taste of jellybeans. But the spirit of the Be-In was tuned -- in time -- to past echoes and future premonitions. Layers of inhibitions were peeled away and, for many, love and laughter became suddenly fresh....
And here we are in that future, hearing the echoes. 


I used the word in a comment just now [where it, unfortunately, misautocorrected]. And I'm reading the Wikipedia article on the subject. This jumped out:
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan said of Michael Dukakis, a presidential candidate who was rumored to have received psychological treatment, "Look, I'm not going to pick on an invalid."

US President Donald Trump has been noted for repeatedly using apophasis. In 2015, Trump said of fellow Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, "I promised I would not say that she ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground, that she laid off tens of thousands of people and she got viciously fired. I said I will not say it, so I will not say it." In 2016, he tweeted of journalist Megyn Kelly, “I refuse to call [her] a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct."
I didn't remember Reagan as being such an asshole! Sheds a different light on present-day efforts to distinguish Trump from Reagan, like Maureen Dowd in her column today"Donald, This I Will Tell You":
You mused that a good role model would be Ronald Reagan. As you saw it, Reagan was a big, good-looking guy with a famous pompadour; he had also been a Democrat and an entertainer. But Reagan had one key quality that you don’t have: He knew what he didn’t know.

You both resembled Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons, floating above the nitty-gritty and focusing on a few big thoughts. But President Reagan was confident enough to accept that he needed experts below, deftly maneuvering the strings.

You’re just careering around on your own, crashing into buildings and losing altitude, growling at the cameras and spewing nasty conspiracy theories, instead of offering a sunny smile, bipartisanship, optimism and professionalism....

"Even gender-neutral pronouns don’t feel as if they fit me. I feel no identity or closeness with any pronouns I’ve come across. What describes me is my name."

Said Patch, formerly known as Patrick Abbatiello, formerly designated as male, who not only acquired a legal name change — to Patch, just Patch (It's Patch*) — but got the legal gender designation changed to "genderless."

This happened in Multnomah County, which happens to be a county name I know, because it's that county with the idea of spending $22 million building 300 "tiny houses" in the backyards of homeowners who agree to take in a homeless family for 5 years.

The linked article is at HeatStreet — which has an attitude that I find unappealing and where there's a Gender Identities quiz that's freeze-framed on an image that I'm not going to click on but is either snarkily or unwittingly trading in surprising phallus placement:

I'm creating a new tag — "gender privacy" — for this and yesterday's post "What a deceptive headline at The Daily Caller!"

Yesterday's post was about a teacher who, after losing her breasts to cancer, wanted to present herself as gender neutral and to say to any children who wondered about her gender: "We all have private lives, and it would not be appropriate to talk about our private lives during the school day." In the comments, people focused on the problem of what pronoun to use (which really is troublesome as we maintain an interest in speaking in a natural way), and I said:
I didn't take a position on the pronouns.

I talked about etiquette and decency in interpersonal relationships.

Note that this isn't a woman demanding to be spoken of as a man or raising the issue whether she somehow really is a man. This is a person who is asking for no reference to be made to her sex. It's a request for privacy about her body.

Out of simple empathy, you could respect that.

You could also ask why a person's sex is considered properly in the public realm. Why don't we all demand privacy about the body parts we cover up and demand that others cover up. If they must be covered up, why do we feel entitled to talk about them?
These are questions I really want to discuss.

Also, I see an analogy to something that happened in the development of the same-sex marriage issue. Many people started to ask why the government is involved in recognizing people's personal/sexual relationships at all. Why not privatize the whole thing, get government out of marriage? Now, you might want to think about why government concerns itself with our private parts. If you want to say gender is more than genitalia, that it's a state of mind, the question of privacy is only heightened: Why should government concern itself with how we feel deep inside?

As for those pesky pronouns, we have freedom of speech. That too belongs in the sphere of the individual. We get to decide for ourselves how to speak. There are many difficult decisions here, and the government should not be solving them.


* Let's never forget what the Saturday Night Live people found hilarious in the early 90s:

The movie was a big flop, but the character had been hugely successful on SNL in many sketches.

"It’s like a warm peach that kind of gives a little bit, that has extra skin."

Said the Yankees pitcher Greg Bird, about his hairless cat, Mr. Delicious.

To fully savor this post, pair it with the previous post.

"Many Indonesians who are still too poor to eat beef, except on special occasions, can now afford dog or cat."

Said one animal protection researcher quoted in "Indonesians’ Taste for Dog Meat Is Growing, Even as Others Shun It" (NYT).
“From a strictly practical, agricultural point of view, growing dogs and cats for meat requires far less space and feed resources than growing cows, and is therefore cheaper,” [Brad] Anthony said. “The economics of it all is likely the primary motivator for production and consumption.”...

[D]ogs are not classified as livestock, the way cows, pigs and chickens are. Because of this, the slaughter, distribution, sale and consumption of dogs are not regulated.... In Jakarta, Juniatur Silitonga... says he slaughters about 20 dogs in an average week....

“It’s cheaper than beef,” he said. “Eating dog meat is a tradition among local tribes, and they are mostly Christian, but Muslims also eat dog meat soup for medicinal reasons.”
There is a belief that meat from a black dog cures asthma.

ADDED: In the comments — those swamps of vitriol and condescension — they're making a beeline for Obama-eats-dog material. Here's my Obama eats dog tag to beef up — dog up — your witticisms.

But what I really want to talk about is poverty and human health. If dogs and cats are cheap and easy to breed and keep, why shouldn't poor people be accorded respect as they embrace this form of food production? The article doesn't really approach this problem, but immediately distracts us with 2 completely different problems: 1. Cruel methods of slaughter, and 2. Rabies.

These are utterly easy to see as problems. There's no debate about ethics, so it's a fine distraction from the harder question I want to talk about.

And aren't these problems solvable? Can't poor people be educated about and convinced to use the most humane method of slaughter? We affluent people — most of us — don't deny ourselves meat because of the suffering of animals. We just expect that the suffering to be decently minimized.

As for rabies, nobody wants rabies! Let's work on that problem everywhere. According to the article, unregulated commerce makes it hard to rabies, which is "a persistent problem in Bali and elsewhere." If this is a reason to deny a meat source to poor people, please explain to me why affluent people are encouraged to travel to Bali. Here's a NYT article from 2015: "Rabies Deaths Higher Than Previously Thought":
Rabies kills 59,000 people a year, or about 160 a day — more than had previously been assumed — according to a study published last week.
That is a terrible problem. Worry about that, not whether some poor people are taking advantage of the profusion of dogs and cats to get some meat in their diet.

"Must I first define 'privilege' in its current use, or should I imagine that if you’ve reached this paragraph, you’re already among the cognoscenti?"

"As it is known today and discussed in progressive circles, a jurisdiction Bovy writes about with the knowing weariness that comes with longtime residence, privilege is not just about having special advantages available only to the few, but it is also about those advantages that are entirely unearned, and usually ones of which the privileged party is blissfully unaware or, even better, somewhat defensive."

Paragraph 4 of "The last thing on ‘privilege’ you’ll ever need to read/A new book argues that accusing people of unearned advantages does nothing to address inequality — and may only make things worse," a review by Carlos Lozada (in WaPo) of the book "The Perils of 'Privilege': Why Injustice Can’t Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage," by Phoebe Maltz Bovy, who, according to Lozada seems to have "scoured the Internet for every overwrought think piece and self-indulgent personal essay about privilege" and "read all of them." She's even "read the comments sections, those swamps of vitriol and condescension that no one is ever supposed to even contemplate or speak of, let alone wade into."

I know you may never click through, since it's in WaPo, and there's a paywall, so let me tell you that there's a lot more of Lozada displaying his exasperation that anyone would do research into understanding what people are talking about on the internet. Bovy herself worried that there might be a problem with a "microhistory" of some phenomenon as it played out on the internet,* and Lozada — noting Bovy's interest in seeing more variety in what's written about economics and inequality — gives her the send-off:
We could, of course, just start reading something else, too. Not all the waters out there are so swampy.
Yeah, stick to mainstream media like The Washington Post where we keep the opinion tidied up and presentable. Speaking of privilege! It seems to me that Lozada is the privileged party... blissfully unaware or... somewhat defensive. Why is anyone wading the swamps of vitriol and condescension, when we've got these nice, clean newspapers with everything laid out for you?

* But I think there's an excellent chance that this is exactly the kind of research historians will need to be doing. This is public discourse preserved. It will not be enough to study what the big newspapers were saying at the time. People were talking and leaving their discussions in writing. Lozado would like to reject all this discussion as illegitimate — a swamp. He'd like to say: That's not the real public discussion. The people who actually matter were somewhere else, and they did not put their thoughts in writing. These are not real people in here talking. Ignore them. They don't matter.

It's a bit like the way Trump voters are portrayed as people whose ideas and opinions can't possibly matter. We've seen that they matter, whether the coastal elites in mainstream media like it or not. And historians can act aloof and swampophobic, but I don't think that will play out any better than the "Great Man" approach that once kept historians above lowly things.