August 30, 2016

Rick Perry is doing "Dancing with the Stars"?!

Fine with me. It's good to dance.

He'll be competing with Olympians Ryan Lochte and Laurie Hernandez.

Some very large, freakishly cartoonish mushrooms have been popping up around town.



"They say the clowns live deep in the woods, near a house by a pond."

"At the edge of dark, dark woods in South Carolina, children have been telling adults that a group of clowns have been trying to lure them into the cluster of trees...."

"Trump said something sarcastic about Kaepernick finding a country that he likes better."

"Persuasion-wise, the stronger play was to support Kaepernick’s right to free speech and invite him to be part of the solution, as I just did."

Says Scott Adams... who managed, without actually saying it, to create the idea in my mind — I know he's a hypnotist — that "The Star-Spangled Banner" will soon be widely regarded as racist and no longer acceptable as the national anthem. And that's before I read the CNN article he linked to: "Slavery and the national anthem: The surprising history behind Colin Kaepernick's protest."

And even though I personally reject the argument that Kaepernick needs to love America because it's better than the alternatives — it goes against my aphorism "Better than nothing is a high standard"* — I think Kaepernick's forefronting of the general abstraction of patriotism helps Trump.

I can imagine a psychological study that divides undecided American voters into 3 groups. Group 1 watches some well-crafted propaganda designed to inspire love for America. Group 2 watches a serious exploration of the pros and cons of whether Americans should love America. And Group 3 watches something — no more or less entertaining — that has nothing to do with patriotism. I'm guessing Group 2 would lean more toward Trump than Group 3.

* Yes, you have to live somewhere, but you don't have to love it. Back in the 60s, those who didn't like the various anti-war and other protests had a slogan "America — love it or leave it." It was kind of like the old parental demand — on presentation of some unappetizing food — "You'll eat it and you'll like it." Why must I also like it? And how can I be ordered to like it? More sensible parents — like mine — would just say: "That's what's for dinner." They didn't prod me to go see if I could go get dinner at someone else's house and taunt me with predictions that I wouldn't even like it. This is dinner. This is what we're having. You need to eat. But you can have your own thoughts about it and dislike it even as you use it to fulfill your needs.

IN THE COMMENTS: Balfegor said something I meant to make you think:
I wouldn't be surprised if Group 2 actually leaned more towards Trump than Group 1 too . . . sort of like what we saw with Obama, Obama benefited when race was made salient in voters' minds (e.g. by the media and his other proxies), but less so when voters were beaten about the head about racism (cf. his late fade against Clinton II back in the 2008 primary). However well-crafted, propaganda that articulates a clear point of view can provoke a counter-reaction. That said, I suppose that means it just wasn't well-crafted enough.

"He got this bright idea that he could save money on haircuts. So he let his hair grow, he got a perm, and decided he would never need a haircut again."

"Before he could change it back, though, the perm became his company's logo — Ross hated it. 'He could never, ever, ever change his hair, and he was so mad about that... He got tired of that curly hair.'"

The truth about Bob Ross.
"Bob used to lay in bed at night, he told me, he rehearsed every word," Kowalski says. "He knew exactly what he was going to say on every one of those programs."

Like this famous phrase: "You know without question that we don't make mistakes here. We just have happy accidents."

"This may be the first time that such routine fossil damage has been interpreted as evidence of tree dwelling and death by falling."

"For good reason. If palaeontologists were to apply the same logic and assertion to the many mammals whose fossilised bones have been distorted by geological forces, we would have everything from gazelles to hippos, rhinos, and elephants climbing and falling from high trees."

From "Archaeologists are fuming over a new study about how early hominin Lucy died."

I was just going to lambaste the NYT for this headline, but it's changed.

I'm looking at something my son John put up on Facebook 9 hours ago...

... and I'm snarking over there...
So the "research" is into how to needle him. It's positively professorial....

The headline makes HC look good and DT look bad, but why isn't it the opposite? This isn't about who's studying the policy issues more deeply.
... and thinking I need to blog it. But I click through... and the headline is...
Hillary Clinton Piles Up Research in Bid to Needle Donald Trump at First Debate
... and I've got no problem with that.
As Mrs. Clinton pores over this voluminous research with her debate team, most recently for several hours on Friday, and her aides continue searching for someone who can rattle her as a Trump stand-in during mock debates, Mr. Trump is taking the opposite tack. Though he spent hours with his debate team the last two Sundays, the sessions were more freewheeling than focused, and he can barely conceal his disdain for laborious and theatrical practice sessions.

“I believe you can prep too much for those things,” Mr. Trump said in an interview last week. “It can be dangerous. You can sound scripted or phony — like you’re trying to be someone you’re not.”
I don't think we really know who's doing what and who thinks what. I think we only know what the NYT chooses to say about how 2 campaigns choose to frame their candidate's attitude toward debates. Both the NYT and the campaigns are trying to influence how we think about the candidates. Hillary's people want you to think she's a thorough and hard worker and that Trump has flaws that she's going to skillfully extract and display for us when the debate finally happens. And Trump's people want you to think he's efficient and direct and doesn't need to develop a special show for the occasion, like Hillary, so get ready to see honest, capable Trump and big phony Hillary.

Let me collect 2 things that are spaced apart in the article (boldface added):
Mrs. Clinton, a deeply competitive debater, wants to crush Mr. Trump on live television, but not with an avalanche of policy details; she is searching for ways to bait him into making blunders....

Mr. Trump’s certitude — “I know how to handle Hillary,” he said — reflects his belief that the debates will be won or lost not on policy points and mastery of details, which are Mrs. Clinton’s strengths, but on the authenticity, boldness and leadership that the nominees demonstrate onstage....
So "his belief" is the same as her belief.
These Clinton advisers agree with Mr. Trump’s belief that the debate will not be remembered as pitting a policy expert against a Washington outsider. Instead, her campaign is preparing ways for her to unnerve Mr. Trump and provoke him to rant and rave.

The Clinton camp believes that Mr. Trump is most insecure about his intelligence, his net worth and his image as a successful businessman, and those are the areas they are working with Mrs. Clinton to target.
Hmm. I don't think Trump is insecure about any of those things. But maybe those are just the areas they want him to think they are targeting, and they're really targeting something else. Or maybe provoking him to "rant and rave" is not the idea at all. Maybe they're trying to lure him into toning everything down, being boring, and not riveting the audience with the kind of attacks on Hillary that we haven't seen yet and that she can't predict and prepare for.

So, who will play the role of Donald Trump in Hillary's practice debates? What friend of the Clintons will confront her with — for example — Bill's sexual offenses and her lies and enabling in the way that approximates what Trump might do?
Mrs. Clinton’s allies have floated several options: Representative Joseph Crowley of New York, who is from Queens, where Mr. Trump grew up; James Carville, Mr. Clinton’s chief strategist in 1992, who has a gift for lacerating banter; or Mark Cuban, another billionaire businessman... At least a few old Clinton hands have suggested enlisting professional entertainers, like Jon Stewart or Alec Baldwin.
It's easy to ape Trump's bluster, but these sessions are not a comedy show for the public. And Trump has the advantage of knowing what they think of him and how they'll portray him. And he's flexible — or so he says — and likes to surprise. But Hillary's people know that, and they can try to get a step ahead. Still, Hillary is Hillary, and how can she change? What is she going to do but plant herself on the stage, maintain a steely but smiling demeanor, and deliver long flat lines that will wear most of us down to the grim realization that this is what we've going to get for the next 4 years?

"[T]he professors recommend that white-dominated newsrooms no longer cling to traditional standards of pure objectivity, but instead try something they call 'active objectivity.'"

Capital Time editor and executive publisher Paul Fanlund writes about UW–Madison journalism professors Sue Robinson and Kathleen Bartzen Culver:
“When white reporters cover issues involving race, they often fall back on traditional, passive voices of objectivity, such as deferring to official sources and remaining separate from communities,” they wrote.

Robinson and Culver contend there is an ethical tension between this neutral tone and the need to build trust in communities of color.... “An active objectivity remains committed to credible, verified facts and information, but adds educated interpretation.... Active objectivity calls for news organizations as institutions and journalists as individuals to detach from power, emphasize social, historical and cultural contexts in stories, question explicit and implicit biases, build trust among communities not often visited, and invest efforts over time to build relationships with people rather than go-to leaders.”...

Their conclusion was edgy: “Through their embrace of value-neutral and facts-only reporting, many Madison news outlets failed to build trust, diversify their sourcing, and tell the true stories of race....  A journalism that is loyal to citizens is a journalism of courage — of recognizing the disparities and concerns that plague some within our communities and carrying them forward to the attention of all"....
Is that edgy? It seems to me all the journalistic outlets already have activism within whatever objectivity they maintain. The question is the nature of the activism, and those who don't like that can push back by saying the journalism isn't properly objective enough or openly talk about what they don't like about the way the activism is going.

The journalism professors concentrated on reporting on a 2011 controversy over a charter school that was aimed at helping young African American male students. I wrote about that several times, including, here, "Madison school board votes down charter school designed to lift up poor minority kids."

August 29, 2016

At the Cleome Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(The photo is by Meade, taken just a short while ago, as twilight fell.)

On the strategy of huddling together...

323 reindeer, huddling together in a storm, were struck dead by a single bolt of lightning.

"It's only with the heart that one can see clearly..."

"Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts..."

"... not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."

MEANWHILE: As long as we're talking about the VMAs and not covering up, did you see this?

"A professor at the University of Iowa is concerned that the school’s hawk mascot, Herky, looks angry..."

"... and its appearance could be contributing to a culture of violence, depression, and even 'suicide.'"
“I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,” clinical professor of pediatrics Resmiye Oral, wrote in an e-mail to the school’s athletic department...
This is so 3 years ago. Remember the angst when UConn made its husky less nice?
UConn basketball coach Geno Auriemma said the logo “is looking right through you and saying, ‘Do not mess with me.’ This is a streamlined, fighting dog, and I cannot wait for it to be on our uniforms and court.”

In response, [the feminist student] wrote, “What terrifies me about the admiration of such traits is that I know what it feels like to have a real life Husky look straight through you and to feel powerless, and to wonder if even the administration cannot ‘mess with them.’ And I know I am not alone.”
It actually is kind of sad when you can't get it just exactly right — fighting and tough and yet infinitely lovable:

"I want... I want... I want everything I've ever seen in the movies!"

"I'll do it! By God, I'll do it! I'm Leo Bloom! I'm me! I can do whatever I want! It doesn't matter! I'm Leo Bloom!"

He was Gene Wilder.

"As Boys Get Fatter, Parents Worry [Their Son's Penis] Is Too Small."

A NYT article.
The penis can be buried in the fat pad that sits in front of the pubic bone, and it can remain hidden as boys go through adolescence. What is called a “hidden penis” can be a combination of being prepubertal (so the penis has not begun to grow), being overweight (so the fat pad is significant), and in some cases an anatomical condition in which the soft tissue below the skin of the penis doesn’t adhere well to the Buck’s fascia, the thick covering that surrounds the penile nerves and arteries. This fixation problem can yield what [Dr. Aseem Shukla, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and associate professor of urology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania] described as a “slidey” penis, in which the actual shaft retreats and only the skin, or the foreskin, in an uncircumcised boy, is clearly apparent....

Dr. Shukla said that he tries to reassure preadolescents that if they lose some weight and still feel that there is a problem when they reach puberty, they can come back to address it. “I push down and I show them the length and width,” Dr. Shukla said.

"There will be no formally assigned homework this year. Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance."

"Rather, I ask you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early."

The second grade teacher Brandy Young wrote to the parents. The letter has gone viral.

What do you think of the teacher's approach? (Multiple answers accepted.) free polls

"So Huma is separating from her husband... but wasn't she already separated... kinda?"

That's what I said out loud when I saw the headline: "Humiliated Huma FINALLY dumps sexting Weiner: Hillary's top aide separates from her husband just hours after he sent an admirer a photo of his crotch while their four-year-old son slept beside him."

And let me elevate my own comment from my earlier post this morning:
They're a fascinating mystery. She's so closed and he's so open. Why are they together? Why were they ever together? Why are they still together? Are they together now for the child? Would that explain the exposure of the child in a sexual context? What do I have to do to unlock myself from this locked off lady?
ADDED: Meade just said: "If this was really about crossing a line with a child, that child would never have appeared in the movie."

"The color of a lobster is no more important than the color of a person. This lobster is like all the others in the ways that matter."

"And all that matters is that lobsters want to be free to live their natural lives just like us, not cooked alive and eaten. Sending a yellow lobster to an aquarium while killing the rest isn’t praise worthy except in a society that fails to grasp the concept that all animals matter equally."

But people do care intensely about the color of their various pets and often choose one or the other based on color. Should we stop that because of the actual real-world human problem of racial prejudice?

Even with respect to human beings, we have lots of color preferences that aren't part of the race-prejudice problem. You might love seeing a woman in a red dress. You might want to dye your hair blue. You might want to see multicolored tattoos on other people's arms. You might adore Elizabeth Taylor because her eyes were a color that it seemed nobody else had.

Are all these pleasures something about which we should become self-critical?

If you want to be be self-critical, how about being self-critical about your precious attention to your own morality — that wonderfully named sin called scrupulosity — and consider whether likening the everyday joys of color perception to the age-old suffering of racism is itself a racist error.

What made me say "Oh! Interesting" in this new Trump ad.

"'Two Americas: Economy' is a 30-second spot that will run in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado," says Politico pointing at this new Trump ad:

Did you catch what struck me? Let me clip it for you:

I'm thinking about Colin Kaepernick and the sudden intrusion of an old simmering issue: Why should black people love America?

Weiner's wiener is back in the news.

It's just another phallic Monday:
While his wife, Huma Abedin, travels the country campaigning for Hillary Clinton, the disgraced ex-congressman has been sexting with a busty brunette out West — and even sent her a lurid crotch shot with his toddler son in the picture, The Post has learned....

Weiner was clearly aroused by his conversation with the 40-something divorcee when he abruptly changed the subject.

“Someone just climbed into my bed,” Weiner wrote.

“Really?” she responded.

Weiner then hit “send” on the cringe-inducing image, which shows a bulge in his white, Jockey-brand boxer briefs and his son cuddled up to his left, wrapped in a light-green blanket.

“You do realize you can see you[r] Weiner in that pic??” the woman wrote.

Moments after forwarding the photo, Weiner freaked out over the possibility he had accidentally posted it publicly — just as he did during the infamous episode that forced him to resign from Congress in 2011.

“Ooooooh . . . I was scared. For half a second I thought I posted something. Stop looking at my crotch,” Weiner wrote back....
Carlos is into the danger. Have a little empathy. You know I do. It's his sexual orientation. And it's safe sex. Except the part where you humiliate your wife, whose name I'd put right next to the word "humiliate" if a thousand writers hadn't already done that juxtaposition. It's not a new humiliation, just another iteration of the old humiliation.

Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself, "the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

But this is Anthony Weiner's third time.

The first got him bullied out of Congress by who knows exactly which forces within the Democratic Party — Hillobaschumer? Tragic!

The second was when he was running for major of NYC, the comical repeat documented in the movie "Weiner," which we were just watching the other day. Yes, truly: farce. 

And now, again. Once more, with feeling. Once more, with the child in the picture. Once more, with open discussion of the excitement he gets from risking fucking his wife again. Fucking — I mean that metaphorically.

I'd say the third time is the modern psychological novel — inviting us to explore the complications of a modern marriage.

UPDATE: I put up a new post about Huma finally separating from Anthony: here.