October 20, 2017

Afternoon walk.

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"It’s highly inappropriate for the president to write a check to the father of a slain service member."

Writes Alison Buckholtz at Slate.
There’s no way to know what goes on within a family, but if the slain service member designated his mother to receive a payout for what is basically the calculated value of his life, and decided his father should not receive any benefit from his death, there was a reason why....

More alarming, though—and separate from the role of the beneficiary—is that President Trump’s personal payment to this Army dad may ultimately threaten the unity of American military families.... The feeling that we’re all in it together... is imperiled by Trump’s offer of a payout to one individual...

The existing system of compensation works. The status quo satisfies. If it doesn’t, then there’s a real conversation to be had....

How bad are things going on that new Megyn Kelly show?

It's hard to believe it can be this bad:

AND: I'm just noticing the lyrics on the song: "I know you want me." But she knows we don't want her. Sad!

What would it mean for Harvey Weinstein to take "sex addiction rehab" seriously?

The headline at Page Six is "Harvey Weinstein doesn’t seem to be taking sex rehab seriously":
The source told us, “In one group therapy session, Harvey arrived 15 minutes late. Then, when it was his turn to speak, he launched into a speech about how this is all a conspiracy against him.”...

Another source close to Weinstein says... “He insists he never raped or assaulted anyone, and that all the encounters were consensual. He realizes he has acted like an a–hole, but he still insists he’s not a rapist...."
Much of what people are accusing him of is criminal. How is he supposed to participate in group therapy if frank, sincere discussion would entail confessing to crimes? Both sources seem to be revealing that Weinstein is doing something I would regard as taking it seriously: being defensive against criminal liability. I'm sure that defensiveness is annoying to everyone else, especially if they think he's lying. But that doesn't make him unserious. It just makes him serious within a frame of reference that isn't how to stop being addicted to sex.

I haven't looked deeply into the evidence question, but I think generally the patient has a privilege to prevent other members of a therapy group from testifying, but the particulars are going to vary from place to place. You lawyers who are reading this: What would you say to someone in Weinstein's position who's trying to rehabilitate his business reputation by appearing to take his "sex addition" problem seriously, but who will be talking about things that could be used against him in a criminal (or civil) case?

And who are these people leaking information about what went on in group therapy? How can anyone feel secure about opening up in these sessions? I note that the Page Six article quotes the second source as saying that Weinstein doesn't do group sessions anymore — "for obvious reasons." If it's so obvious, why did he ever do them?

At the Red Leaf Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

And you can shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

50 years ago today: Bigfoot!

I can't believe in Bigfoot. I can't even believe how long the Wikipedia article "Patterson–Gimlin film" is.
The Patterson–Gimlin film (also known as the Patterson film or the PGF) is an American short motion picture of an unidentified subject which the filmmakers have said was a Bigfoot. The footage was shot in 1967 in Northern California, and has since been subjected to many attempts to authenticate or debunk it....
The film was shot 50 years ago today, if you can believe the filmmakers' account, but even that is questioned.
Patterson said he became interested in Bigfoot after reading an article about the creature by Ivan T. Sanderson in True magazine in December 1959. In 1961 Sanderson published his encyclopedic Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, a worldwide survey of accounts of Bigfoot-type creatures, including recent track finds, etc. in the Bluff Creek area, which heightened his interest....
"In 1962 he visited Bluff Creek and talked with a whole host of Bigfoot-believers. In 1964 he returned and met a timber-cruiser named Pat Graves, who drove him to Laird Meadows. There Patterson saw fresh tracks—for him an almost unbearably exciting, spine-chilling experience. What a tremendous feat it would be—what a scientific breakthrough—if he could obtain unshakable evidence that these tracks were not the work of a prankster, but the actual mark of a hitherto unknown creature! If he succeeded, he would be famous! And rich!..."
Almost unyetiably exciting. No it isn't. I can't possibly read this, the most overlong article I've ever seen in Wikipedia. I am out of here....

Frame 352 from the Patterson-Gimlin film

"Natasha De Alencar, the widow of Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, released video of her conversation with President Trump."

This is not the phone call that's been talked about in the news, but it does give you an example of how Trump handles these phone calls:

"I could have hit him, I could have hurt him ... but something in me said, ‘You know what? He just needs love.'"

Said Aaron Courtney, a 31-year-old African-American high school football coach, about why he hugged a man who was wearing a swastika T-shirt. At the link is the viral video of the hug, with Courtney saying "Why don’t you like me, dog?"
“I had the opportunity to talk to someone who hates my guts and I wanted to know why. During our conversation, I asked him, ‘Why do you hate me? What is it about me? Is it my skin color? My history? My dreadlocks?’” he told the Daily News.

But the man simply looked off into the distance and brushed off his questions as Courtney pleaded with him and grew increasingly upset.
It should be noted that before this happened, the man, Randy Furniss, was "surrounded by a crowd of protesters who screamed, punched and spat on him."
“After beating around the bush, and avoiding my questions, I asked him, I pleaded with him, I almost broke out in tears, growing increasingly angry because I didn’t understand,” he said.... The crowd around them immediately reacted and when Courtney pressed him again, asking “Why do you hate me?” Furniss finally answered, “I don’t know.”

“I believe that was his sincere answer. He really doesn’t know,” Courtney said.
Furniss was surrounded and in a physically dangerous situation. What could he do? And that hug was a big physical encroachment on him. Even loving hugs should be consented to, but it's not clear — I've seen the video — that the hug expresses love. I think if I were in that situation — not that I'd wear a swastika T-shirt...
... I would experience the question "Why don’t you like me, dog?" as threatening.

I am not so naive as to believe that a distinct line exists between love and hate.

"After the assault, the woman said Burd asked her to give him 'a little time before you contact the cops so I can down a couple beers before I go to jail.'"

"He also told her to tell police to care for his mother's ashes. Burd was arrested a short time later and charged with first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree rape, second-degree burglary and third-degree kidnapping."

Daily News.

"The mere thought of tangling with the Trumpster’s foul, prevaricatory, sneering tweets offends Obama’s own sense of civil discourse between politicians."

"This revulsion is just another form of self-indulgence... It isn’t as if Barack Obama doesn’t realize what he is doing and what is happening in this self-enriching bubble he has shaped, post presidency.... He can’t seem to help himself."

Wrote Ralph Nader, quoted in "The far left’s attacks on moderate Democrats get old," by Paul Fanlund, editor of Madison's Capital Times.

"For the first time in its 64-year history, Playboy magazine will feature a transgender Playmate..."

"... a decision that Cooper Hefner, a top executive at the magazine, said on Thursday was in keeping with its founding mission of embracing changing attitudes about sex," the NYT reports.
Selecting [Ines] Rau “very much speaks to the brand’s philosophy,” said Mr. Hefner, 26, Playboy’s chief creative officer. “It’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving.”

Mr. Hefner said he selected Ms. Rau to be a Playmate two months ago because she’s “lovely” and has “a remarkable personality,” but also to resolidify the magazine’s voice. “This is really a moment for us to take a step back and say that so much of what the brand stood for in the early years is very much still alive in culture.”
Resolidify. I didn't know what to do, so I looked up "resolidify" in the Oxford English Dictionary, where I go to resolidify. It means "To make (something, esp. a melted substance) solid again; to solidify (something) again."

In other words — to speak more Playboyesquely — to get hard again.

Speaking of stiff... Hugh's dead.

Watch out what's on your mind when you pet the dog.

Here in Wisconsin, I see that Republican state Rep. Andre Jacque has introduced a bill to make animal abuse a felony (instead of a misdemeanor) and to "close a loophole changing the definition of sexual contact to be more inclusive of contact with any part of an animal for sexual gratification."

"The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions, classes, make them mine, me theirs. Taken separately, they’re unacceptable and untenable."

Wrote Barack Obama to his girlfriend Alexandra McNear, in one of the excerpts from letters, dated 1982 to 1984, that were released from the collection at Emory University, reported at WaPo.
“I must admit large dollops of envy for both groups, my American friends consuming their life in the comfortable mainstream, the foreign friends in the international business world,” Obama writes McNear in one letter. “Caught without a class, a structure, or a tradition to support me, in a sense the choice to take a different path is made for me.”...

“I don’t distinguish between struggling with the world and struggling with myself... I enter a pact with other people, other forces in the world, that their problems are mine and mine are theirs... The minute others imprint my senses, they become me and I must deal with them or else close part of myself off and make myself and the world smaller, lukewarm.”
Speaking of lack of warmth, his attitude toward McNear was, as WaPo puts it, "cooling." As Obama put it:
“I am not so naive as to believe that a distinct line exists between romantic love and the more quotidian, but perhaps finer bonds of friendship... but I can feel the progression from one to the other (in my mind).”
Poor McNear! McFar.

I went looking for a picture of Alexandra McNear and found this Daily Mail piece from 2012: "First picture of Barack Obama's first serious girlfriend... and how she went on to marry a Serbian boxer who is now one of New York's most famous bartenders":
A friend of Miss McNear [said]: "Alex is so embarrassed about this coming out right now. She has a family and is a grown up, for her to be called somebody's 'girlfriend' is really making her cringe. It was all in the past but her family still tease her about it. I know her sisters say they would have liked to have been in the White House, but ce la vie [sic]. To think she could have been First Lady, and she married a boxer instead. You couldn't make it up."
IN THE COMMENTS: MathMom said:
"The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions, classes, make them mine, me theirs..."

I had to stop reading there. My heart began to pound, my hands began to sweat, I felt dizzy and disoriented...I was reading about intentional cultural appropriation, and that by a revered statesman! Our former president!

I'm getting the vapours...must take to my fainting couch. Words fail me.
And sykes.1 said:
What Obama was unconsciously pointing out is that multiculturalism is not a goal. It, like anarchy, is a tool to break down the existing society. The goal is a totalitarian socialist dictatorship. Socialism insists that all individuals are literally identical, and it adopts policies to make sure that they are identical. These policies are, of course, brutal. There can be no White or black persons, no Jews or Christians, no Hispanics, etc. Socialist man is a single, homogeneous thing.

"What I did was marginalize the incidents. Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse."

Said Quentin Tarantino, accepting responsibility for continuing to work with Harvey Weinstein. Tarantino knew some — who could know all? — of what Weinstein did. He made choices that were in his self-interest at the time, and it has now become so obvious — Mira Sorvino was his girlfriend — that it's also in his self-interest to do a mea culpa now.

Here's the article about him, in the NYT.
“I knew enough to do more than I did,” he said, citing several episodes involving prominent actresses. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

“I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard,” he added. “If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.”
Done the work? Is that psychotherapy talk or is he using the term in some other way? He admits that anything he says now sounds like a crappy excuse, so he knows "if I had done the work" is a crappy excuse.

I think, reading the article carefully, that "done the work" means that he should have taken the parts of the story he knew were real — Sorvino, Rose McGowan, and another actress the NYT doesn't name — and inferred the existence of "a larger pattern of abuse." I'm sorry, I don't believe that 3 solid data points plus all the rumors don't force an intelligent person to hypothesize that there is a modus operandi. I think Tarantino would have had to have done work to distance himself from the obvious and to view the 3 things he knew as isolated instances.

I put the right 2 sentences in the post title. He tells us the "work" he did: "What I did was marginalize the incidents."
When Mr. Tarantino read the articles about Mr. Weinstein, he was horrified by the scope and severity of the alleged abuse, especially the rape accusations, he said. But some of the accounts were deeply familiar to him. “Everyone who was close to Harvey had heard of at least one of those incidents” chronicled in the first few articles, he said. “It was impossible they didn’t.”
Everyone who was close to Harvey facilitated him. 
Now Mr. Tarantino said he regretted not taking the women’s stories seriously enough. “I chalked it up to a ’50s-’60s era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk,” he said. “As if that’s O.K. That’s the egg on my face right now.”
Oh, please! He's talking about the late 90s, four decades after the era of laughing at the image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk. The use of the corny old expression "egg on my face" is a tell. There's no way he wasn't up to speed on what sexual harassment and sexual assault are. I cared about his movies back then. "Pulp Fiction." "Jackie Brown." If I had thought at the time that he had the mindset he's now claiming to have had, I wouldn't have been interested in that idiot's movies. But he is not an idiot. He's a man who did what was in his interest then, and he's doing what's in his interest now. 
Asked how the news about Mr. Weinstein would affect how the public views his own record and body of work, Mr. Tarantino paused. “I don’t know,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t.”
It does.

"I hope it doesn't" is the last sentence of the article, and I wondered whether the NYT, having given the man a nice platform for his mea culpa, was ending with a nudge to the reader to react the way I did: This changes the meaning of your movies.

But one thing makes me think this was not the intent of the NYT: They've disallowed comments.

ADDED: The NYT does allow comments on its other big Harvey-Weinstein-related interview published the same day, "Lupita Nyong’o: Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein."

Why doesn't Lupita Nyong’o get the same protection from comments undercutting her opinion that the NYT gave Tarantino? What bargaining goes on behind the scenes as these famous names give their stories to the newspaper? Maybe the difference is just that Nyong'o will be seen as a victim and the prediction was that comments will praise her for her courage in telling her story now, but Tarantino looks like a facilitator and there was a real risk that commenters would say things like what I've said here.

Nyong'o concedes that she was part of "the conspiracy of silence that has allowed this predator to prowl for so many years." Her excuse is that she "felt very much alone" and "blamed myself for a lot of it," but now can tell her story because she can see it and explain it as "part of [Weinstein's] sinister pattern of behavior."
Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage.... I began to massage his back to buy myself time to figure out how to extricate myself from this undesirable situation. Before long he said he wanted to take off his pants. I told him not to do that and informed him that it would make me extremely uncomfortable. He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door... I opened the door and stood by the frame. He put his shirt on and again mentioned how stubborn I was. I agreed with an easy laugh, trying to get myself out of the situation safely. I was after all on his premises, and the members of his household, the potential witnesses, were all (strategically, it seems to me now) in a soundproof room....

I didn’t quite know how to process the massage incident. I reasoned that it had been inappropriate and uncalled-for, but not overtly sexual. I was entering into a business where the intimate is often professional and so the lines are blurred.....

[On another occasion, at some bar or restaurant in NYC] Harvey arrived and the assistant immediately disappeared... [H]e announced: “Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.” I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.
She declined, and he backed off, saying "Then I guess we are two ships passing in the night,"* an expression she'd never heard before. He told her to go, and she did. She worried that he would hurt her career, but she offers no evidence that he did. Not long afterward, Nyong'o appeared in the movie "12 Years a Slave," and she won an Oscar. She never worked on a Weinstein project. She adopted a "survival plan" of "avoid[ing] Harvey and men like him at all costs." And that plan worked for her, but now she wants to be part of "a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies" that can outweigh the power of individuals like Weinstein.

I wrote all that before reading any comments. They do — as I think the NYT could predict — praise Nyong'o lavishly. The top-rated comment is: "What an incredible young woman who can say, 'I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking...' This is exactly what a mother wants in a role model for her daughter. Absolutely brilliant."

______________________

* Is this — like "egg on my face" — a Hollywood thing? When they need to get some distance, do Hollywood guys use corny clichés? Do they retreat into blatant uncoolness or is this some kind of ironic hipster pose? By the way, "ships that pass in the night" originates in a Longfellow poem, "Tales of Tales of a Wayside Inn/Part Third/The Theologian’s Tale/Elizabeth":
Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

October 19, 2017

I believe that it's wrong to give this story air, but you might want to talk about it.

So I will give you the video:

If you were relying on the "hipster racism" fad 10 years ago...

... prepare to get raked over the coals of social media now.

"Actor David Cross’ excuse for ‘racist’ joke to Asian American actress raises eyebrows" (Twitchy):
“Arrested Development” actor-comedian David Cross recently found himself in hot ham water after Asian American actress Charlyne Yi shared an uncomfortable memory with her Twitter followers:
Charlyne Yi ✔ @charlyne_yi
I think about the first time I met David Cross ten years ago & he made fun of my pants (that were tattered because I was poor). Dumbfounded I stared at him speechless and he said to me "what's a matter? You don't speak English?? Ching-chong-ching-chong".
She must hate him to dredge that up out of context now. You can read the tweets that followed and Cross's effort to explain. It happened in Shreveport, and I must have been referencing Shreveport by doing a Southern redneck racist character, not my actual self.

I did enjoy the "hot ham water" link.

And if you've forgotten about "hipster racism," here's the Wikipedia article on the subject:
Hipster racism, is engaging in behaviors traditionally regarded as racist and defending them as being performed ironically or satirically.... Van Kerckhove used the term hipster racism in an article, "The 10 biggest race and pop culture trends of 2006" [PDF]...
See? 2006. Cross was on trend when he performed what I believed was hipster racism 10 years ago. Is David Cross a hipster? I actually googled that. I found a 2015 interview in which he deplored hipsters:
There’s this smug elitism to it; this cultural elitism. The whole thing is, You’re perpetuating this. This thing you report to hate and you think is such a bad example of our culture, that exists because people like you talk about it with detached irony, yet you’re still supporting its very existence.

At the True Love Café...

DSC00424

... talk about whatever you like.

(And show some love for this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

John McWhorter goes on an epic tirade against Ta-Nehisi Coates (and the white people who make a show of embracing him).

This is really something:

Disallowing the disappointable flâneuse to augurate.

The OED homepage has a list of "recently published" words. Right now it's:
augurate, v.
disallowing, n.
disappointable, adj.
flâneuse, n.
Try to use them all in one sentence.

"Augurate" is familiar as 80% of the word "inaugurate," but it's more easily understood by seeing the word "augur," which means to predict the future using signs and omens. I don't see why you'd ever need "augurate" when you have "augur," but it's in some old books, so you might need to look it up. But I wonder how "inaugurate" got started. The etymology does go back to using "omens from the flight of birds, to consecrate or install after taking such omens or auguries."

"Disallowing" is one of those words that, if you use it, some pendants will inform you, is not a word. But the OED found lots of old examples, e.g., "A petition..against the disallowing of the drawbacks on calicoes and foreign linens, was offered to be presented to the house" (1764).

"Disappointable" needs no explanation. Example: "Idealists..are very disappointable people—disappointed in themselves for failing their own high expectations and in others" (Colorado Springs Gazette, 1985).

"Flâneuse" is easy if you know "flâneur" and understand French endings. A "flâneuse" is "A woman who saunters around observing life and society; a leisurely woman about town." There's an example from 1879, but I like that the OED has a quote from just last July (in the Sunday Telegraph): "Elkin has written a delightfully meandering study of Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys and other female flâneuses who dared to stroll." The italics seem to indicate that the Telegraph believed it was using a French word. But the OED is proclaiming it an English word.

Now, I want to get out and saunter around, observing life and society in Madison, Wisconsin, but I invite you to use the 4 newly official English words in one sentence.

IN THE COMMENTS: tcrosse asked:
So has "fuckable" yet been admitted to the Language of Shakespeare?
As a matter of fact, it has:

"The fly agaric is the quintessential mushroom of fairy tales."

"Its big, bright fruiting bodies scatter in great numbers across mossy forests of North America and Europe. They emerge from the soil first like white eggs, abandoned by some mysterious creature of the woods. They can grow up to a foot tall, as warts appear on the cap. The mushroom often blushes red in the process. Finally, they crack open and flatten into a polka-dot disc that would make a gnome’s perfect dinner plate...."

Writes Joanna Klein in the NYT.

The photos of the mushrooms are very cool, but this is what caught my eye:
They are called the fly agaric because in some places, people lace milk with bits of it to lure and kill flies. The insects become inebriated, crash into walls and die, according to the blog of Tom Volk, a mycologist at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.
Click on that word "blog" to see some eye-searing retro website design (from 1999) that might cause you to become inebriated and crash into walls. You will not die, but you will be sucked into a past that is a place you will find hard to believe ever existed.

Klein tells us that the chemicals in the mushroom, ibotenic acid and muscimol, can cause "dry mouth and rapid heartbeat to euphoria, hallucinations, feeling closer to God and fear."

I had all those effects just looking at the mycologist's website.

ADDED: I remember where I've seen those mushrooms. On this nutty book from that caused a freakout in 1970:


"[John Marco] Allegro argues, through etymology, that the roots of Christianity, and many other religions, lay in fertility cults, and that cult practices, such as ingesting visionary plants to perceive the mind of God, persisted into the early Christian era, and to some unspecified extent into the 13th century with reoccurrences in the 18th century and mid-20th century, as he interprets the fresco of the Plaincourault Chapel to be an accurate depiction of the ritual ingestion of Amanita muscaria [fly agaric] as the Eucharist. Allegro argued that Jesus never existed as a historical figure and was a mythological creation of early Christians under the influence of psychoactive mushroom extracts such as psilocybin."

Here's that Fresco: