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."

What happened in Wisconsin's John Doe investigation — a forewarning to Robert Mueller?

I'm reading "Governmental accountability board? More like Wisconsin's Secret Police," by Glenn Reynolds, which ends:
It’s too early to say, as one account does, that the Wisconsin debacle prefigured the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation into Trump’s campaign, though there are certainly similarities between the attitudes of “The Resistance” in Washington and the Wisconsin establishment’s response to Walker. Writing in The Washington Post last week, Ed Rogers wrote that, though he’d supported Mueller in the past, Mueller needed to get a handle on the overwhelming partisan slant of his prosecutors or he’d be discredited.

It’s good advice. Mueller and his investigators should take care not to get wrapped up in partisan politics while conducting a criminal investigation. Because that seldom ends well.

When has this happened in the last 50 years? Everyone's talking about the same short story!

This is the second post on the topic of "Cat Person" by Kristen Roupenian, so start here if you don't know what I'm talking about already. This post just collects some of the fascinating tweeting under #CatPerson:

"When I was reading the #CatPerson short story, my first reaction was to be annoyed with the protagonist, but then I realized that I was annoyed because I myself have felt powerless to stop situations that felt bad to me in the past because I didn't want to hurt the other person." — Mina Salome.

"#CatPerson was such an odd thing to be published. Girl meets socially inept loser, aggressively pursues him despite lack of attraction so she can use his reaction to feel like a goddess, then dumps him and no one is surprised when he sends a mean text." — keanu steves.

"Margot can be shallow, rude, naive and still be the victim of patriarchy. Robert can be a bad kisser and a creep and still be sweet, considerate and deserving of sympathy. Good literature will resist simplistic moral interpretations. Call me ‘bout it." — Claire Ní Carol-aigh.

"One great thing about #CatPerson is I’ve never seen so many men suddenly collectively decide fatphobia is a real thing." — BridgetCallahan. (In the story, the young woman is grossed out by the man's slight tubbiness.)

"#CatPerson male opinion: He knew she was uncomfortable and ignored it. He knowingly took advantage of her unwillingness to say no. He was aware of her characterisation of him and intentionally groomed her by playing into it. We aren't stupid, we're predators. Story is spot on." — difgefs uktyuk.

"A girl meets an older guy with old fashioned tastes & he gives her a Pepe lighter & some food when she's hungry. Later, after she coerced him into fucking her, she finds him repulsive. And fat. #CatPerson." — Problematic Lola.

"What I like about #CatPerson: it destroys the 'loveable awkward oaf' excuse that assholes lean on when they behave manipulatively/poorly. Being a socially awkward nerd doesn't excuse you from treating people like shit." — Grace Lau.

"Can we please talk about how sis was in the car going to God knows where thinking 'I hope he doesn’t murder me' and then homeboy said 'don’t worry I’m not going to murder you' and then sis says 'It’s OK, you can murder me' GIRL WHAT?! #CatPerson." — The Honorable Chemist.

Trump absorbs the Roy Moore loss: "the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!"

That's a modest, well-balanced response, but will he get any credit for that?

In the primary, Trump fought hard for Moore's GOP opponent, but he adjusted and found a way to support Moore — who was made very hard to stand anywhere near. Now that Roy Moore is out, Trump is moving on. He's an optimist who tends to see the good in whatever happens and to go searching  for new ways to win. In this case — I'll say, modeling optimism — Trump is better off looking for good things elsewhere than stuck with Roy Moore, his candidate, in the flesh, in the Senate, vocalizing social conservatism in an unappealing way and attracting a big expulsion effort.

Do you remember that it was called a "stunning defeat" for Trump when Roy Moore won the primary?* On September 27, I blogged by WaPo's Robert Costa, said:
Moore’s win... demonstrates the real political limitations of Trump, who endorsed “Big Luther” at McConnell’s urging and staged a rally for Strange in Huntsville, Ala., just days before the primary. The outcome is likely to further fray Trump’s ties to Republicans in Congress, many of whom now fear that even his endorsement cannot protect them from voter fury.
I said:
What if this thing that seems to be Trump is bigger than Trump — a wave he figured out how to ride for a little while, but from which he can fall and which will roll on without him? Or is the whole thing — whatever it is (anti-establishment fury?) — already played out? We can't have an endless string of characters like Trump and, now, Moore... can we?...

How many "out there" candidates can there be? How wild can you be before people won't trust you? It's hard to know in post-2016 America. We've got a taste for the bizarre and we don't trust the appearance of normality anymore.
Yesterday, Alabama chose normality, and there's good in that for Trump, who's pretty bizarre.

December 12, 2017

"Two FBI agents assigned to the investigation into alleged collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia exchanged text messages referring to the future president as an 'idiot'..."

"... according to copies of messages turned over to Congress Tuesday night by the Justice Department," Politico reports.
“I just saw my first Bernie Sanders bumper sticker. Made me want to key the car," [Lisa] Page wrote in an August 2015 exchange.

“He’s an idiot like Trump. Figure they cancel each other out,” Strzok replied....

2 people watching the election results — on 2 different channels, at different locations — just told me they can tell the newspeople already know Roy Moore will win.

I wasn't watching the election results yet. I was finishing that last post.

Meade was watching Fox News, and he just started talking about how he could tell by the way they were talking that they are seeing some sort of information — which they're not revealing — that shows them Roy Moore will win.

A minute later, I got a text from my son Chris, saying "The tone of the punditry on CNN makes me think they know he'll win."

UPDATE: NYT declares Jones the winner!

I was drawn in by the creepy close-up and started reading before "Cat Person" became an internet phenomenon.

See? You can't look away. The shape of his mouth. The prickly growths. It's the same can't look away that's luring you out to see "The Shape of Water"....

Women... and the creepy monsters they feel compelled to have sex with....

"Cat Person" is just a New Yorker short story. I get The New Yorker every week and almost never read the short stories, but I started "Cat Person" (by Kristen Roupenian), and I'm certain the photograph (by Elinor Carucci) made me do it. But I only got 7 paragraphs into it before moving on, intending to come back, but knowing my relationship with these mouth people might never be consummated.

And then I found out the internet was going mad for this story. So now, I've read it, and I'm reading the stories about how and why it when viral. Let's dip into the discussion with "The reaction to 'Cat Person' shows how the internet can even ruin fiction," by Laura Adamczyk at the AV Club:
Response to the story has varied from praise for its relatability to flat dismissal to jokes about how everyone is talking about a—Who’da thunk it?—short story of all things, with much of the conversation focusing on who is the more sympathetic character between Margot and Robert. On Sunday, someone created a “Men React To Cat Person” Twitter account, compiling screenshots of responses to the story, wherein some men express confusion over its merits, others defend Robert as the story’s victim, and one wonders if the story should exist at all, stating that the events depicted don’t just happen to women....

Debating over who’s the bigger jerk in this [story about a short male-female relationship], or any, work of fiction misses the point.... And yet because so many people came to the story through social media, as opposed to having the print issue delivered to their mail boxes, they clicked through and read without seeing its “fiction” designation. This no doubt encouraged some people to read the story not only as nonfiction but also as something that was up for debate, something they should or should not agree with...
I'm not going to read any more of the internet chatter, at least not right now. But I'll just say, based on my own reading of the story, that it makes a good jumping off point for discussing the problem of bad sex. Bad sex is something you need to distinguish from a criminal assault and take responsibility for avoiding. And reading the story is a good vicarious experience that might help women (and men) get better at ending an evening at an appropriately early point. The sex in that story is very graphic — graphic in a completely nontitillating way. In fact, the sex in that story is such that it would make excellent reading for an abstinence-only class.

How I calculated that my nap lasted 2 hours and 54 minutes.

I did not intend to be able to calculate the length of the nap nor to sleep anywhere nearly that long. But I know the last thing I heard on my audiobook and the next thing I heard on my audiobook, and I can see in my app (Audible) how much time was left in the book — "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen" — at each of those 2 points.

This paragraph — which I heard about half of — happens with 3 hours and 36 minutes left in the book:
People have surprisingly strong feelings about word breaks [at the end of a justified line of text]. A long time ago I met a man on a ship in the Dodecanese who complained to me about the way The New Yorker broke “English” and “England.” We follow Merriam-Webster’s, which divides words phonetically, giving us “En-glish,” “En-gland.” Webster’s New World Dictionary (among others) divides words along meaningful units and goes with “Eng-lish” and “Eng-land.” What bothered my shipmate was the way “glish” and “gland” looked on the next line, especially at the top of a column. What bothered me was that here in the Aegean an American— a college English professor, to judge by the tan Hush Puppies he wore— was grilling me about word breaks. (He also complained about his subscription.) The truth is that I, too, disliked it: “glish” and “gland” are unsightly stand-alones. Yet I was deeply invested in our way of doing it and resentful about having to defend it while I was on vacation.
I woke up in the middle of this:
At that pencil party, I encountered for the first time a handheld long-point pencil sharpener. Until then, I had not known that a handheld pencil sharpener could be anything but a toy; I have one in the shape of the Empire State Building that I treasure for sentimental reasons, but it is useless except as a cake decoration. The party featured a Sharpening Lounge, where there were state-of-the-art wall-mounted X-Acto sharpeners along one wall (they not only deliver a beautiful point but do so in reverent silence) and copies of a pencil-yellow manual called How to Sharpen Pencils, by David Rees. It is one of very few books worthy of the dual category “Humor/ Reference.”
42 minutes left.

Now, Meade is asking "Do you want chili for dinner" and I'm saying "I want breakfast."

"Roy Moore shows up to vote on horseback."

Reports the NY Post (with a photo).

ADDED: The first commenter and (I'm thinking) a million people on the internet responded with some variation of "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on."

Hey, whyntchya leave me alone, I'm tryna do my routine here.