December 14, 2017

"For 20 years, I’ve felt it was too early to speak up about Judge Alex Kozinski. Now I fear it’s too late."

"He Made Us All Victims and Accomplices," by Dahlia Lithwick (at Slate).
I have seen Judge Kozinski dozens of times in the past two decades, moderated his panels, sat next to him at high-powered, high-status events and dinners. My husband will tell you he once fielded a call from the judge to my home, in which Kozinski described himself as my “paramour.” I have, on every single such occasion, been aware that part of his open flouting of empathy or care around gender was a show of juvenile, formulaic bad-assery designed to co-opt you into the bargain. We all ended up colluding to pretend that this was all funny or benign, and that, since everyone knew about it, it must be OK. It never was....

But now it’s 2017....
You don't want to be thought of as a cog in a complicity machine.

Get out!

Instapundit rewrites "Cat Person" from the man's point of view.

Part of it anyway, with some good sideways snark at Anderson Cooper.

"'This fire is a beast': Massive inferno keeps growing despite epic battle by firefighters."

The L.A. Times reports.
Across the mountain ridges above Santa Barbara, Summerland and Montecito, firefighters Wednesday were building containment lines, clearing brush, digging breaks and setting small backfires to burn fuel, all in an effort to create barriers to stop the forward march of the fire.

Conditions so far this week have been favorable, allowing firefighters to attack the flames on the southwestern flank of the blaze as it moves west toward the Santa Ynez Mountains.

But the National Weather Service was forecasting sundowner winds blowing southeast at up to 35 mph Friday night, followed by Santa Ana winds Saturday that, at up to 45 mph, could steer the fire toward the southwest.... As firefighters well know, sundowner winds are notoriously unpredictable....

Morgan Spurlock goes proactive in The Reckoning and declares "I am Part of the Problem."

"As I sit around watching hero after hero, man after man, fall at the realization of their past indiscretions, I don’t sit by and wonder 'who will be next?' I wonder, 'when will they come for me?'..."
Over my life, there have been many instances that parallel what we see everyday in the news. When I was in college, a girl who I hooked up with on a one night stand accused me of rape. Not outright. There were no charges or investigations, but she wrote about the instance in a short story writing class....

Then there was the time I settled a sexual harassment allegation at my office. This was around 8 years ago, and it wasn’t a gropy feely harassment. It was verbal, and it was just as bad. I would call my female assistant “hot pants” or “sex pants” when I was yelling to her from the other side of the office. Something I thought was funny at the time....

And then there’s the infidelity. I have been unfaithful to every wife and girlfriend I have ever had....

I am part of the problem. We all are. But I am also part of the solution....

When you happen to watch 2 movies in a row and see a common theme.

There are a million things you might perceive in a movie. So when you see 2 movies in a row, you brain is going to match things up, and then something looks interesting and you go running down that road.

Let me tell you about the 2 movies we happened to watch this week. Because we almost never watch movies, 2 recently watched movies are going to suggest a lot of connections with each other, even when they have little in common.

1. "Magic Trip/Ken Kesey's Search for a Kool Place." This is a documentary about Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters driving a gaudily painted bus from San Francisco to the New York World's Fair in 1964. A man who's written a very successful novel ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") and discovered LSD (by volunteering for a CIA-financed study) lets a speed freak (Neal Cassady) drive him and his friends across America. They take many, many reels of poorly shot film, and 50 years later, some talented filmmakers figure out how to base a watchable documentary on that sprawling footage. Highlights of the film: Kesey on his CIA/LSD trip, painting the bus, going to a blacks-only beach on Lake Pontchartrain (and not being welcomed as integrators), visiting Timothy Leary at his Milbrook Estate (and getting snubbed and looked down on), partying with Jack Kerouac (who wasn't On-The-Road Kerouac anymore, but a boring drunk), and making it back home where LSD really worked better, staying in one place and partying with the Grateful Dead as the house band.

2. "Get Out." This is a 2017 movie, by a black writer-director (Jordan Peele, who came from the world of sketch comedy), about a black man going on a short, strange trip with his white girlfriend to visit her parents, who turn out to be a real horrorshow. I recommend seeing this movie without knowing what's going to happen, so please stop now and come back later if you haven't seen it yet. It came out last winter, but maybe you're like me and you don't get excited about movies because they happen to be new. You might be noticing this movie now because it's on various year-end lists and getting nominated for awards. It's on HBO on Demand, where we watched it. Anyway, the man character — Chris Washington — feels uneasy being around so many white people and takes heart whenever he encounters a black person, but the black people there are very weird, for a reason we eventually learn: There are really white people who got surgically inserted into the black person's head. The black person is still in there, riding along, observing but unable to speak or act. The evil white people are systematically bringing black people to this place, one by one, lured by Allison Williams (of all people), and using them as shells for the aging white people to gain a new life. It's not just a way to avoid aging and death, but a way to experience life as a black person. That's something they all really want, these people who like to tell Chris about as soon as they meet him that they voted for Obama and would vote for him for a third term if they could.

Now, what are the connections I'm seeing between these 2 movies I happened to encounter in sequence?

In both, you've got a group of white people who see ordinary life as a white person in America as a predicament in need of transcendence by radical means. They take drastic, dangerous actions to break out of themselves and get somewhere else entirely. So involved and entranced with their own journey, they impose on everybody else.

"I went through a situation very similar to Margot and Robert [the characters in 'Cat Person,'] where I was in his position."

"I traveled from New York to Virginia for a friend’s wedding and ended up spending the night with one of the other guests, who was actually moving to Brooklyn in a couple weeks. As I left, she handed me a card in a little gold envelope with my name on it, with a note saying she had a good time and her number. It was enough to leave the impression that she wanted to connect in some way when she made it to Brooklyn. I followed up with her, got no response, and left a voicemail referencing how we made out at the wedding and asking if she’d like to make out again. She left me a voice-mail after that saying that my message scared her, and not to contact her again. I called her back right away (I know this was disregarding her request) and apologized, because it was upsetting, and we had mutual friends who encouraged me to contact her. Then I never contacted her again and never asked our mutual friends anything about her. It was a shitty feeling all around, and I was sickened by the thought of making her scared. Simultaneously, I felt manipulated, like that was the worst thing she could say to me to make me leave her alone. I never said that to her or anyone else before this."

Writes "Chris, 38, artist and father of two," quoted in "9 Men on Seeing Themselves in ‘Cat Person'" (New York Magazine).

Should Netflix be shaming/mocking/stalking its own customers like this?

I wouldn't assume Netflix is using actual information about its customers. It's just a jaunty reminder that you can get Christmas movies on Netflix, using the trope that Netflix — like Santa Claus — sees what you're doing and judges you.

And it worked really well. Look at all the re-tweets. And it got the Washington Post to write an article, "What to know about ‘A Christmas Prince,’ the Netflix movie that sparked a controversy."
The response [to the tweet] was massive (retweeted about 110,000 times so far) and alternated between amused and scornful: Wow, Netflix, way to shame your own viewers for watching a movie that you commissioned and featured and promoted on your streaming service. Also, it’s a creepy reminder that this company has access to loads of personal data about all of your viewing habits, and probably has drawn some other intriguing conclusions. And it might tweet about them.

Anyway, the “creepy tweet” kerfuffle has been in the news this week, so for those of you who are confused about this thing called “A Christmas Prince” that sparked such a controversy, here’s everything you need to know about the movie. Spoilers abound.
I don't need to know anything about "A Christmas Prince," so I go back to the thing that pointed me to this "kerfuffle" in the first place, a humor riff — linked at Instapundit"The Sad People Who Watched ‘A Christmas Prince’ 18 Days In A Row Craft A Statement/We've done nothing wrong. But we do need to lay down a marker that watching a good, clean holiday romance every single day of the Christmas season is just good, clean fun" by Mary Kathrine Ham. Sample:
Lindsay: What’s the implication, here, that we’re all lonely cat ladies just because we want to watch a spunky reporter investigate a playboy prince and get herself entangled in some truly royal trouble a couple dozen times??

Martin: I am not a girl or a lady, cat or otherwise. I know I’m outnumbered, here, but really....

Angelica: We do have a lot of cats, to be honest....
Oh! Cats again. Time to reread "Cat Person" for the 3rd going on 18th day in a row:
She learned that Robert had two cats, named Mu and Yan, and together they invented a complicated scenario in which her childhood cat, Pita, would send flirtatious texts to Yan, but whenever Pita talked to Mu she was formal and cold, because she was jealous of Mu’s relationship with Yan....

Before he got out of the car, he said, darkly, like a warning, “Just so you know, I have cats.”

“I know,” she said. “We texted about them, remember?”
Cats take on so much of the blame for what's wrong with us humans. That is, we project our shame onto cats. The cats don't care.

More importantly, what would cats watch on Netflix 18 days in a row?

If you're going to do grandiosity, go big.

You can't do modest grandiosity.

People may admire modesty and humility, but that does not pair well with grandiosity.

With grandiosity, you've got to go big.

The other side of that is if you're choosing to go with modesty, you can't be grandiose about it. Grandiose modesty? That's even worse than modest grandiosity. Much worse!

December 13, 2017

At the Winter Swan Café...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

The photo — of Whooper swans —is by Andreas Trepte,

We walked out on Picnic Point today, where it was very blustery with icy horizontal snow. Out on the lake, there were lots of white birds yelling and laughing like a party full of half-drunk humans. Were they swans? I couldn't get a good enough look and didn't think taking my own picture from that distance would help.

The Wikipedia article on Whooper swans says: "They are very noisy; the calls are strident... kloo-kloo-kloo in groups of three or four." But they are in Asia and Europe. The 3 swans of Wisconsin are: Trumpeter, Tundra, and Mute. I've listened to recordings of all 3, and I'm going to say they were Tundra swans. (Listen here.)

Anyway, this is an open thread. You certainly don't have to talk about swans!

And if you've got some shopping to do on line, I recommend going into Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"But this time, it was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another.... I had to say yes...."

"I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears. Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning. It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then. My mind understood that I had to do it, but my body wouldn’t stop crying and convulsing. At that point, I started throwing up while a set frozen still waited to shoot. I had to take a tranquilizer, which eventually stopped the crying but made the vomiting worse. As you can imagine, this was not sexy, but it was the only way I could get through the scene."

From "Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too" by Salma Hayek (NYT).

The delusion that Elizabeth Warren "slut-shamed" Kirsten Gillibrand.

I'm reading "Did Elizabeth Warren Just Call Her Fellow Senator a Slut?" (by Tyler O'Neil at Pajamas Media) because it was linked by Glenn Reynolds in a post that says "And yesterday [Warren] was 'slut-shaming' fellow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand."

O'Neil is talking about Warren's response to this Trump tweet...
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
... which I blogged about here. I said a few things about what Trump was doing with that tweet, but I ended with:
Trump is toying with sexual innuendo. The woman is "USED!" and she "begg[ed]" and "would do anything."
So it didn't surprise me when, later, I saw that Elizabeth Warren tweeted (in response to Trump's tweet):
Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump....
That's not Warren slut-shaming Gillibrand. That's Warren seeing the same thing I saw, I believe. I said "toying with," where she used the device of asking a question, and I said "sexual innuendo" where she said "slut-shaming." It's the same point.

O'Neil concedes that Trump's language "does seem sexually suggestive," which I think gets him as far as agreeing with me. So what's different about how Warren put it? O'Neil says the term "slut-shaming" is a way to criticize someone who's "blaming the victim of sexual assault" because she was acting or dressing a certain way, so that would mean that Warren implied that Gillibrand must have been overtly manifesting sexuality and that it was wrong of Trump to react to her expressiveness in a negative way.

I think that's what O'Neil is groping at. I'm trying to help O'Neil make sense even as I think that O'Neil does not make sense and that whatever shred of sense there may be is used at the price of looking as though he'd just do anything to attack Elizabeth Warren.

Volokh Conspiracy has moved from The Washington Post to and it's not just about getting out from under the paywall.

It's also about wanting to be free of the censorship of "vulgarities."

And the Volokh bloggers don't even use vulgarities in the own writing. They just want to be able to quote things like "Fuck the Draft."
[I]t's hard for me to see what value... redaction adds. And the symbolism is important to me... More importantly, we want the decision whether or not to redact to be ours, not the Post's. This is so for the familiar vulgarities, but also as to similar decisions about what to do with quoting incidents that involve offensive epithets, allegedly offensive team names and band names, allegedly improper use of pronouns to refer to various people, and much more. Once we acknowledge that it's proper to constrain our accurate reporting about one kind of offensive word, how would we effectively be able to defend our right to judge how to report on incidents involving other words?

Esther Perel "wants to redress a traditional bias against cheating spouses, to acknowledge 'the point of view of both parties—what it did to one and what it meant to the other.'"

"In practice, it must be said, her method seems to demand heroic levels of forbearance on the part of faithful spouses. They are asked not only to forgo the presumption of their own moral superiority but to consider and empathize with what has been meaningful, liberating, or joyous about their partners’ adulterous experiences. The affair that has caused them so much anguish may have been prompted by boredom or a longing for sexual variety, or it may have been a bid for existential 'growth, exploration, and transformation.'... They are also asked to control their vengeful impulses, learning to 'metabolize' their desire for vengeance 'in a healthy manner.'... They must resist the desire to 'know everything' and avoid demanding details about the physical acts involved in their partners’ betrayals. (They can ask 'investigative questions' about feelings but not 'detective questions' about hair color, sexual positions, or the size of genital organs.) Americans, Perel observes, are particularly inclined to believe that a process of forensic confession is a necessary forerunner to the restoration of trust, but 'coming clean,' she argues, is often more destructive than it is salutary, and 'honesty requires careful calibration.'"

From "In Defense of Adulterers/Esther Perel’s new book argues for a more compassionate understanding of our unruly desires," by Zoë Heller in The New Yorker.

The book under discussion is "The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity." I'm trying to think who would be inclined to read this book. But the article about it caught my eye.

"What Conversations About Bitcoin Sound Like to Me."


Me too!

The linked article is by Ethan Kuperberg at The New Yorker. Full disclosure: He also wrote (last April) "What I Have in Common with Trump."

"Hip New York Restaurant Reportedly had a ‘Rape Room.'"

New York Magazine reports.
The Spotted Pig, located in Manhattan’s West Village, [had] an invitation-only space that employees and industry insiders claim has been nicknamed the “rape room.” [Co-owner Ken Friedman allegedly] made it clear that regular restaurant rules do not apply on the third floor, and guests frequently groped female employees there....

Did Anderson Cooper call Trump a "tool" and a "pathetic loser"?

Or did "someone gain[] access to [his] twitter account," which is what somebody with access to Anderson Cooper's Twitter account is saying now?

Link goes to Breitbart, which calls this "yet another catastrophic blow to CNN’s credibility, a news outlet that indentifies as objective."

ADDED: Breitbart can snark "a news outlet that indentifies as objective," I presume, because Breitbart does not "identify as objective."

That reminds me... yesterday Fox News had an article "CNN mocked for airing segment on Trump's soda consumption while NYC faced terror attack," and it has this:
While viewers scrambled to hear the latest news, several people took to Twitter to mock CNN’s programming’s decision. Blogger Ann Althouse noted that the New York Times article that first mentioned Trump’s soda habit came out a few days ago and added, “CNN is hopeless,” after expressing frustration that CNN didn’t offer the live report on the attempted terror attack.
Would it kill them to link? Here.

Another Trump tweet, further processing the Roy Moore defeat.

We've been talking about what Trump tweeted at 10:08 PM. Now, here's what he tweeted at 5:22 AM:

Here's the NYT article about the new tweet:

"Sexually assaulted in full view of millions, the 18-year-old boy really has no option but to treat it as a joke."

I just happened to land on this post from a mere 5 years ago:
Look at the photograph of the hulking Jenny McCarthy grabbing Justin Bieber by the throat and suctioning the back of his neck:
"Wow. I feel violated right now," he said, laughing.

"I did grab his butt," McCarthy said backstage. "I couldn't help it. He was just so delicious. So little. I wanted to tear his head off and eat it."
Imagine the sexes reversed. If you can. McCarthy is more than twice Bieber's age. She's 40. But, oh, she's trying so hard to project sexuality....
I said "stop molesting teenagers. That's not funny, even if circumstances require Bieber to pretend that it is." Here's the photograph:

How did I happen upon that? I was searching my archive for "men's project," after seeing a link at at Instapundit to the Campus Reform piece "The University of Wisconsin-Madison has confirmed that it has disbanded its 'Men’s Project,' a program designed to teach 'men-identified students' about the harms caused by traditional notions of masculinity."

The McCarthy molestation post had the word "men's" ("She first posed for the men’s mag at 21, which helped launch her career as a sexy doofus") and "project" ("She's 40. But, oh, she's trying so hard to project sexuality").

Anyway, the UW "Men's Project." I must have paid attention to that, since it involves my school and topics I care about, but I can't find an old post. My question is whether the Men's Project was as heavy-handed and demeaning as Campus Reform makes it sound.

IN THE COMMENTS: CJ said points to this "SNL" routine with Tina Fey as a teacher fantasizing about sex with her student, played by Justin Bieber. This is from April 2010:

CJ's comment is "I remember watching this when it aired and saying to my fiancee at the time - 'God this skit could've been so much funnier but they're obviously scared of sexualizing Bieber too much - but that's the whole point of the sketch!'"

I think that sketch is great. Pitch perfect, right down to the "I'm going to go call Gloria Allred." It's prescient... about a future that still isn't quite here, the point when #MeToo extends to men accusing women.

Eligible for almost 30 years, The Moody Blues finally make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I never liked that overblown, lavish style of rock music, and I don't really care who gets into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (a place I like enough to have visited twice), but I just want to say that I remember when the first Moody Blues song came out, and it was simple and charming in that 60s pop-song way I'll always like:

Here's the news, from the L.A. Times:
The induction of veteran English art-rock band the Moody Blues will quell a raft of fans who have consistently, and loudly, made their voices heard each year when the group was overlooked previously. Although the Moodys became eligible in 1989 under the hall's requirement that 25 years elapse after an act's first recording, the group perhaps best known for its 1967 ambitious and heavily orchestrated concept album "Days of Future Passed," and the single it yielded, "Nights in White Satin," appeared on the nominees list for the first time this year....
On the ballot for the first time, they're coming in along with 3 groups that I always think of in terms of MTV videos in the 1980s: Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, and The Cars. (Those 3 links go to videos I watched about a million times in the 80s.)

The write-ins wrote out Roy Moore.


Add it up yourself:

The photo of Roy Moore is a screen grab I made from "LIVE NOW: Roy Moore's Election Night Headquarters...." (which you can watch non-live).

The graphic of the vote was grabbed from the NYT article "Alabama Election Results: Doug Jones Defeats Roy Moore in U.S. Senate Race."