May 22, 2017

The Washington Post writes an ambiguous headline.

"Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership."

When I opened the tag for that article (hours ago) I assumed that the professor got his membership terminated, but now I see I am wrong.
An Alexandria gym terminated the membership of white nationalist Richard Spencer last week after he was confronted by a Georgetown University professor who recognized him and lambasted him over his alt-right views.
Why was the person who got confronted terminated?

The professor, C. Christine Fair, of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, asked Spencer if he was Richard Spencer, and when he denied it (because he didn't want trouble, she said: "Of course you are, so not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi." And: "I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap... As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable."

Finally, as the professor tells it, the general manager told her she was creating a "hostile environment" at the gym, and "Fair responded that Spencer’s views create a 'hostile environment' for gym employees who are women and people of color." But later:
Fair said she was contacted by a corporate representative for the gym last week, who informed her that Spencer’s membership had been terminated. The gym wanted her to come in to provide more information about the incident.“I’d do it again,” she said of the episode. “I told the fellow, ‘I think we can have a deal here: You don’t let any more Nazis in, and I won’t be making a scene.’ ”

The work of thinking about doing the work.

The "mental load."

ADDED: Here's what I recommend doing if you find yourself in the household "manager" position, putting all the mental effort into noticing what needs to be done and planning ahead. Explain the issue to the other person. Talk about it. It's possible that he's carrying a mental load consisting of things you are not keeping track of. It's something you don't see each other doing. But if it's really true that he's only ever waiting to be asked, use your acquired manager position to assign him a fair share of tasks. Give him more than you keep for yourself to balance out the mental work. It's pretty easy nowadays — isn't it? — to text a list of things he needs to do. If a lot of your work is going about the house noticing and doing little things — such as picking up clutter — that are more work to assign than to do, just give him enough of the big tasks to compensate and equalize. If this managerial assigning approach is objected to, then he wasn't just waiting to be asked, so you've at least punctured that illusion.

"Are we able to stay at home and explore the meaning of the things around us, at least until the world has gotten a little more 'normal' again? "

"Pierre Bayard, a professor and psychoanalyst in Paris... may provide us with some additional requisite know-how on how to not lose face and even be comfortable with staying at home. In How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel, he dissects the reports of the likes of Marco Polo, Jules Verne, Karl May, on minute details of geographies they had never visited, to tell the reader they were wrong. He exposes the alternative reality they unfolded, but he doesn’t blame them: 'Ill-equipped to defend itself against wild animals, inclement weather or illness, the human body is clearly not made for leaving its usual habitat and even less so for traveling to lands far removed from those where God intended us to live.' And: 'We know from Freud and the works of other psychiatrists who have studied various travelers’ syndromes that traveling a long way from home is not only liable to provoke psychiatric problems: it can also drive you mad.'"

From "Between Everywhere and Nowhere/A little review of travel literature," by Bernd Brunner, which I'm reading mostly because it has something about Paul Theroux — "one of the grand doyens of travel writing... His passion for the foreign appears to have been lost, if only partly so" — whose novel "The Mosquito Coast" I started reading after seeing it likened to a movie I loved ("Captain Fantastic").

But I got interested in Bayard, and added How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel to my Kindle. Love the title, and I'm fascinated by the critique of travel, since I love to read and feel prodded to travel, and reading is so much faster and simpler than traveling.*

I had the vague feeling that I'd blogged about that book before, but it was another book by Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, which I blogged about without reading.


* You know me, I'm not up for a challenge.

"Suddenly, male actors who make other kinds of movies are ageing into mid-career obsolescence as quickly as female actors once did."

"The idea that ageism has caught up with their tiresome rock-star behaviour is almost as satisfying as watching Meryl Streep cruise nobly into her late 60s with a full dance card of upcoming productions."

Big game hunter dies...

... when an elephant that had been shot falls on top of him.

"There's an image I really want to do with that Trump orb thing."

I said earlier this morning, after starting the day with a post about the Trump orb and then a post about that statue of Karl Marx — you can see it here — that China gave to Trier, German (Marx's birthplace).

I still haven't taught myself how to photoshop 2 images together, but my complaint about how I was too lazy to learn somehow lit a fire under Rick Lee, and he made this:

Rick Lee is a professional photographer. You can see his website here.

And I know you might ask what that new image is even supposed to mean. Uh... late capitalism!

ADDED: Since Rick is a professional photographer, accepting this image made me think of something I saw yesterday that amused me: "Tired Of Being Asked To Work For Free, This Artist Started Drawing These Client Requests."

"I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian."

"Does he really do the things that he's saying or is that his act? And in Donald's case, I equated it that way. When he said what he said, I'd like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I'd have called the FBI."

Billy Bush speaks.

I think a lot of people don't get Trump's statements because they don't understand the humor. But why should they? They don't want to let him off the hook more than they don't want to look like they have no sense of humor.

There's the famous feminist punchline: That's not funny

I think it's important to perceive the humor, so you can understand why he says some of the weird things he does. You don't have to think it's funny or have a taste for that kind of humor, but you should understand that it is humor, unless you have some reason to want to stand on your obtuseness. It could serve some political purpose that you like, perhaps for yourself, perhaps for others. But if you can understand how a statement is humor and you engage in speech that treats it as if it is intended to be taken seriously because you find it useful for other people not to see the humor, you are a propagandist.

"A precedent of this Court should not be treated like a disposable household item—say, a paper plate or napkin — to be used once and then tossed in the trash."

"But that is what the Court does today in its decision regarding North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District: The Court junks a rule adopted in a prior, remarkably similar challenge to this very same congressional district."

Writes Justice Alito in the dissenting opinion to Cooper v. Harris, a 5-3 opinion released today.

About that Orb...

"Here it is..."

A hit of the Orb to MisterBuddwing, in the comments to "The Orb," about that Orb...

Morning light and shadows...

... on Meade's alliums:




Trump at the Western Wall.

Raw video:

"It is important to note that Mr. Albee wrote Nick as a Caucasian character, whose blonde hair and blue eyes are remarked on frequently in the play, even alluding to Nick’s likeness as that of an Aryan of Nazi racial ideology."

“Furthermore, Mr. Albee himself said on numerous occasions when approached with requests for nontraditional casting in productions of ‘Virginia Woolf’ that a mixed-race marriage between a Caucasian and an African-American would not have gone unacknowledged in conversations in that time and place and under the circumstances in which the play is expressly set by textual references in the 1960s."

Said the letter from the estate of Edward Albee, quoted in a NYT article about the refusal to grant rights for a Portland, Oregon production "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" with a black actor cast in the secondary role of Nick (the character George Segal played in the movie with Richard Burton in the leading male role).

"Why the Phrase 'Late Capitalism' Is Suddenly Everywhere/An investigation into a term that seems to perfectly capture the indignities and absurdities of the modern economy."

By Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic.
A job advertisement celebrating sleep deprivation? That’s late capitalism. Free-wheeling Coachella outfits that somehow all look the same and cost thousands of dollars? Also late capitalism. Same goes for this wifi-connected $400 juicer that does no better than human hands, Pepsi’s advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, United Airlines’ forcible removal of a seated passenger who just wanted to go home, and the glorious debacle that was the Fyre Festival. The phrase—ominous, academic, despairing, sarcastic—has suddenly started showing up everywhere.

This publication has used “late capitalism” roughly two dozen times in recent years, describing everything from freakishly oversized turkeys to double-decker armrests for steerage-class plane seats. The New Yorker is likewise enamored of it, invoking it in discussions of Bernie Sanders and fancy lettuces, among other things. There is a wildly popular, year-old Reddit community devoted to it, as well as a Facebook page, a Tumblr, and a lively Twitter hashtag. Google search interest in its has more than doubled in the past year....
Read the whole thing to understand how the usage of the term has changed over time. It used to be more of an intellectual, analytical, dark Marxist term. Now, it's more just gesturing at various absurdities of whatever it is we're doing these days.

I loved the Tumblr page, by the way. The total effect must be experienced at the link. I'll just pass on one perfect image:

"What’s the best part of trucking?"/"Freedom. Oh my God, I cannot tell you."

From a NYT collection of interviews with truck drivers: "Alone on the Open Road: Truckers Feel Like ‘Throwaway People’/President Trump ignited a national discussion of blue-collar jobs./Truck driving, once a road to the middle class, is now low-paying, grinding, unhealthy work. We talked with drivers about why they do it."

The "throwaway people" line came from a 54-year-old man who is the one interviewee who doesn't appear in the photograph that goes with his words. The line I quoted in the title came from a 33-year-old man who is a co-owner-operator.

Why am I too lazy to learn photoshop?

There's an image I really want to do with that Trump orb thing. If I took one day, I'm sure I could learn it, and yet I feel if I can't do it right now, it just doesn't matter anymore. But why not learn it today, so I'd be ready the next time some idea hits me? But that's the nature of my form of laziness kicks in: I'm completely industrious about everything I can do right now, but unwilling to prepare to do something in the future.

You might think this attitude seems immature and childish, but it's actually pretty appropriate in the old. 

"Maybe a certain naïveté is not always bad if it prevents over-interpretation, so you don’t always dissect things in detail and suspect everything."

Said Wolfram Leibe, the mayor of Trier, Germany, where Karl Marx was born. He's talking about the town's acceptance of a gift, a 18-foot-tall statue of Karl Marx, to be erected in a public square, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth. Leibe asserts that “It was a gesture of friendship and has nothing to do with ideology,” and yet he recounts the statement of the sculptor, Wei Weishan, on seeing the square: "This square is too small and cramped. Karl Marx was a great man and we can’t put him in a small square." 

The NYT reports, noting that "[m]illions* died in Communist political campaigns after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, and in a famine precipitated by an effort to collectivize agriculture in the late 1950s," but "Marx is officially revered in China."

The article also quotes Chang Ping, "a Chinese journalist who has lived in exile in Germany since 2011":
“This is not just a question of commemorating a historical figure. It’s also a question of how to deal with the Chinese government’s ambition to shine on the world stage. I think that I can see better than ordinary Germans the hideous grin behind the statue that is to be erected in Trier, and the threat it represents to the civilized political cultures of the world.”
And Geremie Barmé, "a founder of the Wairarapa Academy for New Sinology in New Zealand, the sculpture is an expression of party power":
“The Germans’ suggestion was for an early, humane, humanist Marx, a source for change in China — not the heroic, sclerotic, formalized Marx used for party purposes that Wu offered. Since we’re the only one that’s been successful and adapted Marxism to state leadership, we’ll tell you what it’s about.”
Meanwhile, in America, we're not putting up statues of heroes — revered or rejected — we're taking them down.


* "Millions" is not an adequate way to express what is something more like 45 or 65 million.

The Orb.

"'One orb to rule them all': image of Donald Trump and glowing globe perplexes internet."

The longer view:

ADDED: The "orb" is a globe, and I've already compared Trump to Chaplin in "The Great Dictator." Back in January, when this photograph was installed at the Smithsonian...

I said, "Nice picture. Especially because the apple represents the geographic place Trump dominated, it makes me think of Chaplin tossing the globe around in 'The Great Dictator'":

May 21, 2017

Trump isn't telling them what to do, but he is telling them what to do.

Here's the full transcript of Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia, which I listened to live. I want to pick out a few things:
I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope....
Trump selects a theme of hope — not, say, carnage, which some people think was the theme of his inaugural address. He doesn't think that, of course. In fact, he brings up his inaugural, as if its theme was also hope:
In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America's oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.... Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.
3 things there that will recur throughout the speech: 1. He's not going to tell them what to do, 2. We all have children and our children are the future, and 3. He knows something of what God thinks.

Idea #1 repeats:


On "Face the Nation" today, the key word was "nervous":
ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS & SURVEYS DIRECTOR: [The people who were conditional supporters of Trump have] an increasing feeling of nervousness that they say that they feel this is back to the idea that -- that this relates -- this investigation relates to the president's judgement and temperament…. But that said, everyone that we re-interviewed [was] increasingly nervous, saying that's the word they consistently use, that they're getting more and more nervous about what the administration is doing… [F]olks who were on the fence are sort of coming over to that firmer opposition, in part because of... that nervousness....

MOLLY BALL, "THE ATLANTIC": … I spent most of my week talking to Republicans on Capitol hill and their staff and people around the Congress and… they're very nervous when -- when Anthony was talking about the -- the nervous Trump curious voters out there in the country, that was very much the vibe I got from Capitol Hill Republicans. They really still want him to be something that he hasn't been so far. They are incredibly nervous by all of these things happening….

RAMESH PONNURU, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW": [O]ne of the things that's happening with congressional Republicans is, look, they've got this feeling in the pit of their stomach. They wish the president would act in different ways, but they are keenly aware that the vast majority of Republican voters across the country, including the voters in their districts, still supports this president. And you will see a pattern where the House Republicans who are in swing seats are more nervous. The senators who are in blue or purple states are more nervous. But the bulk of Republicans don't fit into either of those categories and they're nervous but they're still going to be supporting this president....

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: [T]hey're nervous and what about the agenda? Are they nervous about that too?… They're nervous about an unpredictable president, but what about the future in terms of getting stuff done?

Watch Trump's Saudi Arabia speech — about to stream live.