May 27, 2016

96-year-old man performs the Heimlich maneuver and saves a choking woman's life.

The 96-year-old man was Dr. Henry Heimlich, using his famous method, invented in the 1970s, for the first time.

How racist would a culture need to be to give rise to a TV commercial like this?

I found that through the NYT: "Chinese Detergent Ad Draws Charges of Racism."
[I]n China, where racial stereotypes in popular culture are rampant, the commercial did not seem to provoke a great deal of reaction.

Xu Chunyan, an agent for Qiaobi [laundry detergent] based in the southeastern city of Suzhou, brushed aside the criticism, saying the ad was meant to be provocative. “We did this for some sensational effect,” she said. “If we just show laundry like all the other advertisements, ours will not stand out.”...

“Much of China’s simmering intolerance is color-based,” [wrote Raymond Zhou, a columnist for the English newspaper China Daily]. “It is not an exaggeration to say many of my countrymen have a subconscious adulation of races paler than us. The flip side: We tend to be biased against those darker skinned. It’s outright racism, but on closer examination it’s not totally race based. Many of us even look down on fellow Chinese who have darker skin, especially women.”

"Are we all O.K. with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity — in your capacity — to exercise self-censure, through social norming..."

"... and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?... Is there really no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious?”

Wrote Erika Christakis last fall, reacting to a Yale Intercultural Affairs Committee memo warning students about potentially offensive Halloween costumes. Christakis was an Associate Master of Silliman College— the word "master" has been changed since then — but her comments outraged some students. Protests ensued. And now the news comes that Christakis and her husband, Professor Nicholas Christakis, who'd been the master head of Silliman College, are stepping down from their position.

The NYT reports the news with the headline: "Yale Professor and Wife, Targets of Protests, Resign as College Heads." I'd like to protest the headline. It seems to me that it was the wife's trenchant speech that stirred up this controversy in the first place. The husband became involved in the controversy, and, it's true, the husband is the one whose tweet announcing the resignation appears in the NYT, but I think Ms. Christakis deserves better position than "professor's wife." She is the director of the  Human Nature Lab at Yale, and her statement was premised on her expertise in the psychological development of the young. The husband is a sociologist and physician. I admire them as a couple and would like to see them talked about as equals.

When I blogged about this controversy last fall, I noted the video of Yale students yelling at Mr. Christakis and saying:
“As your position as master, it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in Silliman... You have not done that. By sending out that email, that goes against your position as master. Do you understand that?... Who the fuck hired you?”
This student told Mr. Christakis he should resign because his role as master is “not about creating an intellectual space” but about “creating a home.” At the time, I said:
To be fair, I'd like to know more about what representations Yale made to the students it lured into matriculating. Was a "safe space" promised?... A vibrant "intellectual space" sounds exciting to me, but is that what they were told they'd get if they came to Yale? Maybe some other schools offered a challenging intellectual environment and they passed on it, preferring a caring, nurturing setting. Were they deceived?
Yesterday on this blog, we were talking about Nathan Heller's excellent New Yorker article "Letter from Oberlin/The Big Uneasy/What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus?" The Yale disturbance appeared first on a list of incidences from the past year that showed liberal arts campuses were "roiling with activism that has seemed to shift the meaning of contemporary liberalism without changing its ideals." Heller writes:
Such reports flummoxed many people who had always thought of themselves as devout liberals. Wasn’t free self-expression the whole point of social progressivism? Wasn’t liberal academe a way for ideas, good and bad, to be subjected to enlightened reason? Generations of professors and students imagined the university to be a temple for productive challenge and perpetually questioned certainties. Now, some feared, schools were being reimagined as safe spaces for coddled youths and the self-defined, untested truths that they held dear. Disorientingly, too, none of the disputes followed normal ideological divides: both the activists and their opponents were multicultural, educated, and true of heart. At some point, it seemed, the American left on campus stopped being able to hear itself think.
I read that "true of heart" as sarcasm. Is "true of heart" an expression? I associate it with David Eggers, "A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius," which begins:
First of all:
I am tired.
I am true of heart!

And also:
You are tired.
You are true of heart!

Bernie on Hillary: "Just a tinge of arrogance there."

May 26, 2016

"I’m thinking, Oh, God! I’m cast in one of my least favorite plays of all time, ‘The Crucible,’ by Arthur Miller!"

The laugh-out-loud line (for me) in "Letter from Oberlin/The Big Uneasy/What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus?" a great New Yorker article by Nathan Heller. The line is spoken by Roger Copeland, a professor of theater and dance who's been teaching at Oberlin since the 70s.
In the late fall of 2014, during rehearsals for a play he was coördinating, he spoke sharply to a student: a misfire not of language, he says, but of tone. The student ran out of the room. Copeland says that he wanted to smooth ruffled feathers and keep the production on track, so he agreed to meet with the student and his department chair. At the meeting, the student asked that he leave the room, and she and the department head spoke alone for about half an hour.

Later, the dean of arts and sciences asked to meet with him. He reported complaints that Copeland had created “a hostile and unsafe learning environment,” and that he had “verbally berated” a student—but said that it must be kept confidential which student or incidents were concerned. Then the dean asked Copeland to sign a document acknowledging that a complaint had been lodged against him.

“I’m thinking, Oh, God! I’m cast in one of my least favorite plays of all time, ‘The Crucible,’ by Arthur Miller!” he told me. He gave the dean a list of students he thought could confirm that he hadn’t “berated” anyone. He says the list was brushed aside: “They said, ‘What matters is that the student felt unsafe.’ ” Then he was told that, because gender could have been a factor, the issue was being investigated as a possible Title IX violation. That inquiry was later dropped; by then, Copeland had hired a lawyer. In September, 2015, the original inquiry was still going on, and Copeland said that the dean told him that if he wouldn’t meet without his lawyer he would be brought before the Professional Conduct Review Committee. Copeland and his lawyer welcomed that idea: the committee process would bring some daylight. They never heard back.
Much, much more in the article. Highly recommended. You should be able to read it without a subscription.

Sometimes life looks like YouTube... and you feel you can press "PLAY."


Seen, this morning, and photographed by Meade.

The "straddling bus"... an idea from China.

"The bus, powered in part by solar energy, would run on tracks, carrying up to 1,200 passengers in raised compartments that can glide over the traffic below."
Critics at the time it was first unveiled questioned whether the hovering bus could interact safely with other vehicles. They also argued that the tracks would require relatively straight roads not found in many older urban areas, and that the overhead boarding stations that the bus needed would take up too much space.
I find it disturbing, but maybe it makes more sense than a train... or isn't it actually really a train? It goes on tracks. But it's like a bus, because it runs on the road along with cars. It's a very cool (but disturbing!) variation on a bus, and I would recommend that if they think they could do this in America, they should not call it a bus. Call it a train. Americans don't like the idea of riding on a bus. We like the idea of a train. And I think a lot of Americans would enjoy the way this vehicle makes things very weird for the cars, getting in their space, overwhelming and digesting them. The anti-car people might love this, even as cars are taking over. And we'll have our self-driving cars soon, so the emotional distress of getting overtaken by a straddling bus won't affect the maneuvering of the cars. It will just screw with the heads of the passengers of the cars, who will already be reeling in a new reality.

IN THE COMMENTS: traditionalguy sees what's so unsettling:
There is something Female about that bus engulfing your penis shaped little car. Was it good for you? 
Yes, trains, planes, cars — all the moving vehicles — have been phallic. A vaginal vehicle is beyond all normal experience. Yes, we've ridden vehicles into garages and tunnels, but those things hold still.

The cube...

"I think you solved the mystery of the pyramids."

Should a 6-month-old be water skiing — 686 feet across a lake?

"People don’t realize that it was done properly... It was planned and she was ready for it."

"America can’t eat its way out of this massive cheese problem."

Yes, we have a cheese problem. I'm acknowledging it by quoting that headline I like, but it's in the Washington Post behind its pay way, so you probably won't bother clicking on this link. I'll quote a bit:
[E]ach American would have to eat an extra 3 pounds of cheese this year, on top of the 36 pounds we already consume per capita, to eliminate the big yellow mountain. Even for a society that piles the stuff on sandwiches and rolls it into pizza crusts, that’s a tall order....

... Americans will probably never top the world champion cheese-eaters, who are, of course, the French, with annual per capita consumption of 57 pounds.
So we need to go from 36 to 39 to solve the problem, and the French already do 57. So why can't we eat our way out of this massive cheese problem? We'd need to increase our cheese intake by about 8%. What's that — an extra slice of pizza every 3 weeks? One extra slice on a sandwich once a week? Of all the things we are asked to do to help our country (and to help Wisconsin)....

Here's the Wall Street Journal article from a few days ago: "A Cheese Glut Is Overtaking America/Rise in production comes just as exports are hit by strong dollar; can you eat three pounds more?"

A Washington Post editorial: "Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules."

"While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules. In the middle of the presidential campaign, we urge the FBI to finish its own investigation soon, so all information about this troubling episode will be before the voters."

ADDED: From The Hill: 
The potential for any of this to end Clinton’s White House campaign, while slim, is real. And it clearly fuels Sanders’s hope that a noxious legal cloud will cost Clinton the nomination. What Sanders signals to his voters in the weeks to come could be critical to Clinton’s ability to win them over later. Taking a victory lap now could cost her victory in November.

In the perceptual entropy of the metamodernist, the Sanders revolution has already happened.

From an Atlantic article — "This Is How a Revolution End/The Democratic insurgent’s campaign is losing steam—but his supporters are not ready to give up.s" — by Molly Ball:
The Sanders movement has become impervious to reality. Some have even called into question the nature of reality itself: “Bernie Sanders’ ‘political revolution’ is political only inasmuch as thought is political,” a self-described “metamodernist creative writer” named Seth Abramson wrote in the Huffington Post a few days ago. “By the very nature of things—we might call it perceptual entropy—the impossible, once perceived, enters a chain of causation whose natural conclusion is realization.” By this logic, Abramson reasons, Sanders is actually winning. It’s, like, the Matrix, man, or something....

Clinton, for her part, has taken to pretending Sanders does not exist....
Just stop believing and he'll go away.
Sanders was introduced [in Anaheim] by a blind Filipino delegate and a gay actress who... compared Sanders to a unicorn, because “he seems too good to be true.”...
Ball is pushing the Hillary theory: It can't be true. A blind lady can see that he looks like a unicorn. Why won't everyone just stop?!!

But it's not that kind of year. And that unicorn is getting in position to win California.

IN THE COMMENTS: shiloh said:
ok, Althouse just wanted another excuse to use her Hillary's in trouble tag.
I said:
I made that tag to correspond to my tag for Obama: "Obama's in trouble."

That tag arose from a comic take we had at Meadhouse, which was, in longer form, "Obama's in trouble! We need to help!" I thought that was the tone of the news around Obama, and we were — I am not kidding — riffing on the old TV show "Lassie," where Lassie would bark about someone being in trouble and people would then know to spring into action and help.

But with Hillary, we don't have that instinct: If she's in trouble, then that means we need to help. She just doesn't inspire us that way. Few politicians do.

"Some irrational youths threw flammable missiles at the houses of Christians in the village and some women ran away in their nightgowns."

Said Tarek Nasser, the local governor in Minya, Egypt, putting his spin on what the UK Independent reports as:
A 70-year-old Christian woman has been stripped naked, beaten and paraded through the streets by a mob of around 300 Muslim men in a village in southern Egypt.

The mob also burned down seven homes belonging to Christian families, according to an unusually outspoken statement issued by the local Orthodox Coptic church, after rumours circulated in the village that a Christian man was having a relationship with a Muslim woman... The woman who was stripped naked was reported to be the mother of the man involved in the rumoured affair.
Police did not respond until after the mob had dispersed on its own, 2 hours after the terror began.

ADDED: Remember 2011? We in Wisconsin were subjected to things like "Wisconsin and Egypt: A tale of two uprisings/Reflections from a Madison labor activist in Cairo": "So while political imagination is blooming in Cairo, it is somewhat disappointing in Wisconsin."

And here was that man with the sign "Egypt, Libya/Madison, Wisconsin/Civil Unrest Is Best" who — when Meade asked "Are you calling for civil unrest — here?" — said "Uh, sure, why?" and then, a few questions later, "Get your head fucked."

"I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest."

Said Peter Thiel — the PayPal billionaire — explaining why he bankrolled Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker. He said it was "less about revenge and more about specific deterrence." The "revenge" part relates to the fact that Gawker had once written about him "Peter Thiel is totally gay, people." Revenge looks backward, getting recompense for wrongs done. Deterrence looks to the future:
“I can defend myself. Most of the people they attack are not people in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves.” He said that “even someone like Terry Bollea who is a millionaire and famous and a successful person didn’t quite have the resources to do this alone.”...

“I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations,” he said. “I think much more highly of journalists than that. It’s precisely because I respect journalists that I do not believe they are endangered by fighting back against Gawker.... It’s not like it is some sort of speaking truth to power or something going on here. The way I’ve thought about this is that Gawker has been a singularly terrible bully. In a way, if I didn’t think Gawker was unique, I wouldn’t have done any of this. If the entire media was more or less like this, this would be like trying to boil the ocean.”...

“[W]e would get in touch with the plaintiffs who otherwise would have accepted a pittance for a settlement...."
If you keep reading over at the link — which goes to the NYT — past the quotes from lawprofs who explain there's no ethical violation in Hogan's receiving help from an unnamed donor and no effect on the merits of his case and past some defense of Gawker from its founder and into the part about Thiel's brilliant career, you'll eventually get to:
A libertarian, Mr. Thiel is a pledged delegate for Donald J. Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention.
The top-rated comments at the Times all pick on this point: 1. "After reading this my respect for Peter Thiel, as it were, disappeared." 2. "At least Gawker relies on truth. Trump, on the other hand, disseminates lies like confetti. Wonder how Thiel reconciles that reality." 3. "Isn't it funny how libertarians don't want any rules, until they do?" 4. "I was actually rooting for Mr. Thiel until I read, 'Mr. Thiel is a pledged delegate for Donald J. Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention.'"

#3 is a good comment. I'd up-vote that.

Jimmy Kimmel has brokered a deal between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: They will debate.

Trump was on Kimmel's show last night, and when Jimmy asked, he said yes — with the condition that the proceeds would go to charity. Bernie immediately tweeted "Game on"!

This is great — great of and for both men.

Great for Trump because it shows — in addition to the instinct to toward charity — that he's unafraid and not inclined toward the passive role of standing back and letting his opponents beat each other up.

Great for Bernie because he's shown his readiness to debate and Hillary turned him down. She turned him down the day after she said — on "Meet the Press," when asked if she'd do the debate Bernie had accepted — "You know, I haven't thought about it." I wrote at the time: "How is that possible? That's an unforced lie." When she declined the debate the very next day, I thought it was ridiculous. She never bothered with the pretense of taking the idea of the debate seriously.

But Trump is game. And so is Bernie "Game on!" Sanders.

May 25, 2016

At Meade's Garden Café...


... you can talk about anything.

(Photo by Meade... a closeup of his elegant work.)

Matt Yglesias explains Hillary Clinton's mindset — it all goes back to Vince Foster.

From "Vince Foster's death and subsequent conspiracy theories, explained" at Vox:
If you ever find yourself wondering how it is that Clinton doesn't manage to resist the temptation to accept paid speaking gigs even when she's already rich and clearly gearing up for a presidential campaign, Foster is basically the reason. Where most politicians would be warned by staff to avoid even a slight appearance of impropriety, Clinton feels from experience that she'll be slammed regardless of what she does, so she might as well let her own conscience be her guide star in terms of policy and cash whatever checks she's offered.

"Protesters Throw Rocks at Police Horses Outside Trump Rally in Albuquerque."

That NYT headline should make it clear that the protesters were anti-Trump protesters. In fact, there's close to nothing in the text of the whole article that specifies who the protesters were. Midway through, you get this:
The raucous scene outside the convention center was matched by Mr. Trump’s fiery tone inside the rally, which protesters disrupted less than three minutes after he started speaking.
And then the rest of the article displays Trump's fieriness. So the only evidence that these awful protesters — throwing rocks at horses! — were anti-Trump, rather than fired-up supporters, was the news that they "disrupted" Trump.

"The State Department’s inspector general sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had."

The NYT reports.
In a report delivered to members of Congress on Wednesday, the inspector general said that Mrs. Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business” with officials responsible for handling records and security but that inspectors found “no evidence” that she had.

"No need for ironing, neat, stain resistant, and with a common touch... This has made the jacket a favorite informal attire for Chinese officialdom."

"The jacket has been loved by generations of leaders, because it is versatile and easygoing... The jacket look is lively and exudes vigor."

Quotes from Chinese media about the "Xi jacket" — the navy-blue, zippered windbreaker worn by President Xi Jinping of China, from a NYT article titled "China’s Leader Wears Many Hats, but Only One Jacket."

And here's a quote from an Australian professor, Louise Edwards, who, we're told, "has studied the political symbolism of clothes in China":
“It is sufficiently distinct from the worker ant conformity of the Mao suit but still invokes the same spirit as the Mao suit: frugality, practicality, proximity to the people.... He wears the windbreaker when he wants to show he is down to work.”

The jacket’s message, she said, is, “Running the country is my job, I labor at it, I am a political worker.”
In the summer, Xi just wears "a long-sleeved white shirt and dark trousers." According to the NYT, in what I would have thought as too potentially racist-seeming to print: "When accompanying officials follow suit, as they often do, they call to mind a rookery of emperor penguins."