July 29, 2016

"The whole affair has been a festival of inclusiveness. The media is eating it like cake.... That’s how it looks on the surface."

"And if you’re already a Clinton supporter, it probably looks great all the way down. But if you’re an undecided voter, and male, you’re seeing something different. You’re seeing a celebration that your role in society is permanently diminished...."

Wrote Scott Adams, yesterday, before the Hillary speech. He's got a theory that "the Democratic National Convention is probably lowering testosterone levels all over the country." He means that literally.  "And since testosterone is a feel-good chemical for men, I think the Democratic convention is making men feel less happy."

I'm linking to him not just because I always link to him, and not just because I've been saying the whole convention has been a "celebration of diversity and the platitudinous assurances of commitment to equality" (and I like his phrase "festival of inclusiveness"), but because I'm extremely interested in the way equality/inclusiveness/diversity is supposed to substitute for actually doing well and becoming prosperous. That problem with the Democratic Party's message jumped out at me last night when Hillary said:
I've gone around our country talking to working families. And I've heard from so many of you who feel like the economy just isn't working. Some of you are frustrated -- even furious. And you know what??? You're right. It's not yet working the way it should. Americans are willing to work -- and work hard. But right now, an awful lot of people feel there is less and less respect for the work they do. And less respect for them, period.
See the problem with the framing of the problem? People just need to feel better about what they are already doing. You could have the same bad, low-paying job but what needs to change is that you should be — should feel — respected for staying right there.

The next line was also telling:
Democrats are the party of working people. But we haven't done a good enough job showing that we get what you're going through...
How does "we" become "you" in that sentence? I thought all were in the party. But there are the real insiders — those consolidating their own party power — who are the real "we," and they need to show you — you, the people — that they care about you, because we need you to vote for us. 
... and that we're going to do something about it. So I want to tell you tonight how we will empower Americans to live better lives.
See? She doesn't say she's going to empower you to get ahead economically. The idea is "to live better lives" — which sounds like some sort of elevation of your character. You can be "better." You can be "respected."

Yes, she does proceed to declare it her "primary mission ... to create more opportunity and more good jobs" and to make a bunch of disjointed assertions like "our economy isn't working the way it should because our democracy isn't working the way it should" and "That's why we need to appoint Supreme Court justices who will get money out of politics and expand voting rights" and "American corporations that have gotten so much from our country should be just as patriotic in return." You can diminish my point with that additional material if you like, but what jumped out and grabbed me jumped out and grabbed me.

"What's the spot on her tongue?"

Oh, my... yikes...

What she wore.

As the NYT fashion writer Vanessa Friedman put it:
In her white suit, with her white crew neck underneath, Mrs. Clinton looked supremely unflappable: perfectly tailored and in control. Not a hair out of place (but some hair nicely waved). The kind of person who could carry the nuclear codes with aplomb.
... carry the nuclear codes with aplomb....

I'd like to draw that... carrying the nuclear codes with a plum....

I thought white was a good color choice. Friedman notes it's the color Geraldine Ferraro wore in 1984 to accept the nomination for vice president and that it's traditionally held to symbolize purity.

What I noticed about the white was that it wasn't any of those other colors — like that atrocious one I thought of as "swimming pool" that she wore in her event introducing Tim Kaine.

Sometimes men wear white suits. There's Tom Wolfe and Colonel Sanders and John Lennon on the cover of "Abbey Road." But imagine a male presidential candidate stepping out in a white suit. You'd think he was a lunatic. They wouldn't say he could carry the nuclear codes with aplomb. And if he showed up in a plum-colored suit, we'd say...

... man, go.

"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons."

Said Hillary Clinton on about Donald Trump, quoted at Facebook by my son John Althouse Cohen, who comments: "I'm not a big fan of either of them, but that was a good line."

My response (over at Facebook) is:
Has Donald Trump been accused of ever doing any real physical violence? Hillary has. I don't know if the stories are true. But acting out physically is something associated with her, not him. He's a man who uses vivid words and speaks with expression. She uses flat, inexpressive language, but I've read that she's thrown things at Bill. Might be false. I'm just noting that there's nothing like that about Trump. 
Here's a link to a WaPo article: "That ‘Hillary Clinton threw a lamp/book/Bible’ story has been circulating for ages."

In the old days, one person getting through was seen as a token and not necessarily helping anyone else, possibly even hurting the others.

The idea that the first one through breaks what had been "glass ceiling" and now there's no barrier... how did that develop?

Do people even remember why it was called a "glass ceiling"? The idea was that women were coming into various enterprises and not perceiving any barrier. There was no discrimination policy and no one came out and said you can't advance because you're a woman. But as any given woman rose in the system, she encountered a limit, a limit that had not been visible, and when it keeps happening, to all the women, at the same level, at some point, you have to say, it's not something about the various women. It's a problem with the building. There's no visible barrier, but there's an invisible one — a ceiling made of glass.

The idea of shattering the glass ceiling came later, and it was embraced by people who were not too good at metaphor, at least not in the way that I like, which is maintaining a concrete image of what's being talked about. In a real building, shattering a glass ceiling would ruin your hope of getting to the next floor. You'll have wrecked the floor. Let's see if I can get Paul Simon to wander out on stage again....
There's been some hard feelings here
About some words that were said
There's been some hard feelings here
And what is more
There's been a bloody purple nose
And some bloody purple clothes
That were messing up the lobby floor
It's just apartment house rules
So all you apartment fools
Remember: One man's ceiling
Is another man's floor
If we get back to the original idea of a glass ceiling and realize that you can't remove floors, we see that there's nothing to break. The one woman who gets through has found a path, perhaps a stairway in that building, perhaps she's been led around to the special door that the men knew about, perhaps because she's in a sexual relationship with one of the powerful men on the other side — maybe the president of the company.

If some women are finding that access, it doesn't necessarily open the place up for all the women. It can be actually worse for the other women, as they get a false impression that women can rise in the organization in the same way the men do. The image of a glass ceiling only becomes apparent as all the women are stopped when they reach it. If some women get through, then you stop perceiving what is invisible.

But that doesn't mean there isn't sex discrimination. It only means that something more subtle is going on and that if there is discrimination, the perpetrators are more savvy.

July 28, 2016

We've reached the last convention night.

I guess the only thing that matters is Hillary's speech, but feel free to talk about whatever happens. Me, I'm thinking there are just too many speeches. What's left to say?

"When Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk in 1983 the world was enrapt. The dance goes back farther, to the 1930s..."

"... and pops up again in the 50s, before reappearing via mimes and West Coast poppers in the 70s. Follow the circuitous route of an iconic move."


Watch the 11-minute video — replete with Meryl Streep narration — that was supposed to be shown at the Democratic National Convention...

... until the Clinton campaign nixed it. But why?
The decision to cut the film at the last minute left some Democrats involved with the project scratching their heads. The source claimed that there were concerns by Clinton campaign operatives that the video presented too soft or too feminist a vision....

“While we’re all busy judging Hillary: her hairstyle; her wardrobe; whether she looks tired; if she’s talking too loud; she’s just quietly gone about the business of helping women all over the world,” Streep says, before invoking a litany of American women including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Chase Smith, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, Delores Huerta, Geraldine Ferraro and her mother—all described as Hillary’s heroes. “In the end, Hillary did not realize her dream of becoming an astronaut. But, she did soar to a place no woman has gone before... Tonight we say thank you to all the women who would not take no for an answer: You dreamers and schemers, you rabble rousers and hell raisers, you petticoat abolitionists, you chain-smoking, pants wearing exhibitionists, you educators, agitators and aviators, you risk-takers, you rule breakers, you unlikely heroes.”
Probably the smoking.

ADDED:  "all the women who would not take no for an answer"... but doesn't no mean no?!

Also, I was thinking "pants wearing exhibitionists" might sound a little wrong and I googled the phrase. What came up was the kind of links I don't like to click on.

2 pictures of Presidents and the Russians who were out to get them.

You see why I put those up? Because of Trump and Putin? Nyet!!! Because Jack Davis died.
Jack Davis, an illustrator who poked fun at celebrities and politicians in Mad magazine for decades and whose work appeared on the covers of Time and TV Guide, died on Wednesday in St. Simons Island, Ga. He was 91....

He got his start in 1950 selling drawings to EC Comics, which published horror fiction titles like “Tales From the Crypt.” Two years later, amid an outcry over the potentially harmful effects of violent comics on children, the company started what became Mad magazine, edited by Harvey Kurtzman. Mr. Davis was a member of the “Usual Gang of Idiots,” the nickname for the crew that put out the magazine.
Goodbye to a great man!

Hillary Clinton has "a comprehensive plan to defeat and destroy ISIS and keep America safe"?

That's the question I asked out loud as I watched Leon Panetta's speech last night.

I found this fact-checking at CBS:
Clinton has been touting her plan for months. It's hardly comprehensive.The three-part strategy, as described in November, involves crushing IS "on its home turf" in the Middle East, disrupting terrorist infrastructure on the ground and online, and protecting America and its allies. All are elements already included in Obama's anti-IS strategy. And none addresses the biggest gaps in the U.S.-led response to the Islamic State over the last two years, such as the lack of effective local troops to defeat IS in Syria. At what point should U.S. ground troops step in? What levels of civilian deaths are acceptable? How exactly does she propose to end Iraq's age-old Shiite-Sunni divisions? She hasn't said. She's expounded further, but mostly to reject suggestions by Trump and other Republicans.
And here's the full text from last November:  "The strategy Clinton outlined hinges on three main elements – defeating ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and across the Middle East; disrupting and dismantling the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing, arms, and propaganda around the world; and hardening our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats."

At the Pelikan Café...


... have some caffeine and see what you can draw forth.

Trump has jokingly called out to hackers before.

Did Obama laugh at Hillary's slogan?

The line from the speech is:
Most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together – black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young and old; gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.
Obama laughs — scoffingly? — just as he says "stronger together," which is Hillary's slogan. 

Is there some reason why Hillary keeps doing this gaping-maw face?

Seriously. This is driving me crazy. Makes me want to...

IN THE COMMENTS: Sebastian said:
It's the face of someone still haunted by the thought that no one will ever vote for her.
I think he's invoking Bill Clinton's speech last night, which I thought centered on that idea:
She wanted his charisma in her, merged with her, giving her what without which Nobody would ever vote for me.
And it reminded me of what I was saying as I watched the long encounter between Obama and Hillary on that stage last night. I was wondering why she does that wide-open-mouth/insane-elation thing with her face, and my theory was that she's stuck making the best of doing appearances where she needs to look like the person who is intensely loved but she does not believe she is loved.

Next to Obama, the feeling must be excruciating. Obviously, he is loved. He's been loved for so long. The love he naturally attracts overwhelmed her earnestly entitled effort to become President 8 years ago. And now, here he is on the stage, doing his easygoing routine one more time, as if it's for her, and it's supposed to be a big deal for the candidate to unexpectedly hit the stage a day early, but everyone's loving on him.

 What added impact can she have? It doesn't matter. She must get out there and act the part of the person everyone's been longing to see, even though the person they love to see is already out there, owning the stage. She must pretend she's the one they want. She must!

At the Democratic National Convention —  40 Broadway singers scrambling for one microphone to sing "What the World Needs Now Is Love"...

... in what we're told is "a tribute to the lives affected by gun violence":

"Lord, we don't need another meadow/There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow/There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine...."

Please watch the whole thing, while observing your thoughts and feelings, and tell us how this performance affected you.

I'll just say Lord, we don't need another moonbeam. Think about Governor Moonbeam and how he got that name:
The nickname was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that [Jerry] Brown appeared to be attracting “the moonbeam vote,” which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional.

The term had a nice California feel, and Mr. Royko eventually began applying it when he wrote about the Golden State’s young, idealistic and nontraditional chief executive. He found endless amusement — and sometimes outright agita — in California’s oddities, calling the state “the world’s largest outdoor mental asylum.”

“If it babbles and its eyeballs are glazed,” he noted in April 1979, “it probably comes from California.”...

Sometimes Barack Obama sounds like he's doing his own Bad Lip Reading.

ADDED: Here's a real Bad Lip Reading. It's Ted Cruz at the RNC:

Nate Silver: "Why Our Model Is Bullish On Trump, For Now."

A new piece, just posted at FiveThirtyEight (where Clinton is given only a 52.6% chance of winning the election):
Most of the [other election forecasts] give Clinton a better chance than we do – some of them give her as high as an 80 percent chance, in fact, despite her recent slide in the polling. Why are our models more pessimistic about Clinton’s chances?...

Bottom line: Although there are other factors that matter around the margin, our models show better numbers for Trump mostly because they’re more aggressive about detecting trends in polling data. For the past couple of weeks — and this started before the conventions, so it’s not just a convention bounce — there’s been a strong trend away from Clinton, and toward Trump. Although there’s always the risk of overreaction, this time our models were ahead of the curve in understanding the shift....

Does the girl need Daddy to carry her?

That's the image from the other side of the Atlantic, at BBC. The carry-me quote, the "girl" with wide-stretched, up-reaching arms, gazing gleefully into the face of the man she expects to pick her up.

What an image, acknowledging Hillary's inability to make it on her own. Was last April's Boston Marathon stuck in the speechwriters' mind?

The actual quote — I don't know why nonquotes are put in quotes — is "And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands." And let's put it in context.

Here's the whole Obama speech. I'm copying 2 paragraphs worth, with the quote in boldface, and I'm going to pick through this pretty closely. There's a lot going on here:
Look, Hillary’s got her share of critics. She’s been caricatured by the right and by some folks on the left; accused of everything you can imagine – and some things you can’t. 
What is it we can't imagine? I'm having a hard time imagining that — even imagining what the criticism was. What does that refer to? That line forced me to try to think of something, and what came up in my head was: destroying women that Bill Clinton had sex with. Or, second, murdering Vince Foster.
But she knows that’s what happens when you’re under a microscope for 40 years. She knows she’s made mistakes, just like I have; just like we all do. 
So the criticisms of Hillary are just the same things that would be thrown at anybody in public life. It's only because we looked hard — like with a microscope or something? — that we saw things, but you'd see a festering infection if you looked with a microscope at anybody.
That’s what happens when we try. 
She tried. And look what you get when you try!
That’s what happens when you’re the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described – not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…[but] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.” 
The arena! By the way, can Donald Trump get in on this kind of sympathetic reading? He's hurled himself into the arena, striven valiantly, made some errors — a bankruptcy here and there, a Trump University fraudlette. He's not the timid soul. And in the end, high achievement. But Hillary, she's like Teddy Roosevelt, the valiant striver in the arena. Up for a big fight:

Heh. Did you know that's what "The Arena" looks like today? That's a video that went up a month ago and has over 6 million views. It begins with the TR quote, so I assume the speechwriters got it there. I invite you to try to imagine — as we're talking about things that can't be imagined — Teddy Roosevelt striving in that arena. Let me just lace up my ballet shoes.

Back to Obama's speech:
Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s been there for us – even if we haven’t always noticed. And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. 
That's the theme of the convention, you know. You don't like her, but tough. Grow up and do what you've got to do. This is serious. Forget about enjoying this encounter. Don't be ridiculous, you big baby. Put some ice cream on it. Do what you're supposed to....
You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about “yes he will.” It’s about “yes we can.”
He reminds us of his greatest hit...
And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.
And Daddy picks up the little girl. 

July 27, 2016

Oh! The convention. Day 3. Do you care?

What's the point of Day 3? I don't get it. They've got to get the VP nominated, so there's one order of business. Other than that, it's a line-up of speeches, notably President Obama, but also the VP guys, Biden and Kaine. I'm a little curious about whether the convention will finally get around to the substance of the job of a President — notably national security. I'm tired of the celebration of diversity and the platitudinous assurances of commitment to equality. We're watching something else on TV for now — this — but I'm recording the convention and may get around to watching a bit of it. In the meantime, please let it rip in the comments.

Sugar, do you know what I'm saying to you this evening?
Maybe you think I'm being a little self-centered
But I, I said I want to be all of the things you are to me
Surely, surely you can see

Flight of the Pelikan/Drawing like Paul Klee.

Maybe you remember the series of blog posts, back in 2014, How to draw/paint like Paul Klee. I'd found the notebook about which I'd once written:
I have a notebook of drawings/writings done at a big Paul Klee show, done in London in about 2003, just before starting this blog. I'd like to copy the pages and blog it. I was analyzing/riffing on the... ideas that he used.

Wonder where I put that.
And I did a series of posts about what were really instructions based on particular works, including Lesson 7, which included: "using a single line lazy eight movement, make a tree in the center w/ suitable background." If I look back at the post now, I can see the actual Paul Klee work that led me to write that, but today, as I was sitting at the café with the old notebook, I saw only the instructions, and I loosely took the instructions to heart as I idly worked my new Pelikan pen into the pages of the old, old notebook as we carried on an elaborate conversation:



Does that seem absurdly unconnected to the instructions? First, those are efforts ##2 and 3. Here's #1: