June 26, 2017

The mystical morning light.

Just now, in the backyard, as the sun rises:




I don't know why the light is taking that form. I assume the sun is reflecting off of something. But I am fascinated by the seeming shape of a jawline and ear. 

"If she played the men's circuit she'd be like 700 in the world... That doesn't mean I don't think Serena is an incredible player..."

"I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it'd be a little higher, perhaps it'd be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she's so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke 'cause she's been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit - the men's circuit - that would be an entirely different story."

Said John McEnroe, and I guess this is making the news because 700 is so low. 

Interesting factoid: "President Donald Trump approached McEnroe 17 years ago about playing a $1 million, winner-take-all match against Venus or Serena Williams at his Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City."

I remember the "Battle of the Sexes" matches in the 1970s, with Bobby Riggs bragging tauntingly about the superiority of men and then trouncing Margaret Court. (Later, under questionable conditions, he was beaten by Billie Jean King.)

I see Margaret Court is in the news within the last month. She said: "I mean, tennis is full of lesbians because even when I was playing there was only a couple there but those couple... took young ones into parties and things. And because they liked to be around heroes and what you get at the top is often what you will get right through that sport."

Court, 74, is a Christian pastor, and she was speaking on Vision Christian Radio.

June 25, 2017

Mendota and museum.

Today, in Madison, it was not summery, but we loved it down by the lake:


And we browsed the Samurai exhibit at the Chazen:


"A secretive Washington firm that commissioned the dubious intelligence dossier on Donald Trump is stonewalling congressional investigators trying to learn more about its connections to the Democratic Party."

The NY Post reports.
Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources says it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary, anti-Trump agenda....

The "Gong Show" is back, and it's terrible.

I was a big fan — possibly the biggest fan — of the original "Gong Show" (back in the 1970s). I was interested that they were reviving the show (and would have recorded it if I'd noticed when it was on). It's not easy to make a great show about being a terrible show. The original show achieved that miracle. But how can you do that again? And how can you do it 40 years later, after decades of going meta- about badness? Here, take a look:

More here, explaining the role of Mike Myers made up into a new character with a name I'd tell you if I could remember but I'm not going back to that link to find out.

"Death" framing worked so well for Republicans, so Hillary Clinton tries to deploy it for the Democratic side.

Oh, Hillary. It seems so sad. She attempts a tweet:
Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.
Will DEATH!!!! work as a political message?

The Republicans famously, successfully used "death" to reframe political issues: death tax, death panels. But those were more precise issues that really had to do with death. "Death tax" was a reframing of "estate tax," and "death panels" had to do with end-of-life medical decisionmaking.

"Death party" asks us to believe the Republican Party is happy to let us die.

I would think that crudely shouting DEATH!!!! would cause many people to turn away from the whole discussion. And for many others — especially people facing life-threatening conditions or with family members who are dying or have died — the harping on death causes pain and anxiety.

Is this the right way to try to talk to people?

"Fifty years on from the Casual Revolution, the dream of wearing shorts forever has faded."

"Frustrated by the demands of individual expression, some have begun to yearn again for a shared and public happiness. Behind their desire lies a realization that was once universal: A society hospitable to the down and out will not be afraid to dress up."

The last few sentences of "Dress Up/What We Lost in the Casual Revolution," a longish article at First Things, by G. Bruce Boyer. Gee, Bruce, I don't know. A reader sent me this link, thinking I'd be sympatico, because, you know, I've got this longstanding "men in shorts" problem. But my problem with men in shorts is that the proportions of big baggy shorts and a loose untucked shirt cause an adult man to take the form of an inflated boy, and that's not what anyone ought to think of as sexually attractive.

But that might be your message. Feel free to whole-body announce that you are not to be thought of in sexual terms. But I've taken on the mission of stating outright what the message is.

But I've got nothing against casual clothing in general. G. Bruce Boyer (pronounced Boy-YAY?) is railing against jeans and work shirts:
[T]here has been the gradual gentrification of the proletarian wardrobe since mid-century: the work-wear of what used to be known as “blue-collar” workers, clothes that included blue chambray and denim work shirts and trousers (jeans), civilian uniforms of various types (postal workers, garage mechanics, etc.), farm and range clothing, and active field-and-stream outdoor sports clothing....

How is it that we have gone from wearing suits and ties to the office to wearing T-shirts, baseball caps, and a variety of military garments and ranch hand wardrobes?...
I have zero problem with any of these clothes. The only reason a man might look more sexually attractive in a suit is if he is physically out of shape. The man's suit restructures the body into the best approximation of the ideal by building out the shoulders and disguising the belly. The suit is the reverse of the shorts: It imposes the proportions of an adult male. But if you have these proportions, visible in what G. Bruce calls "the proletarian wardrobe," the message is just fine. 

"Pink-collar jobs are crap jobs for anyone... We need to reinvent pink-collar jobs so men will take them and won’t be unhappy — or women, either."

The closing quote (by a female lawprof) in a NYT article titled "Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree."

The title is a little ambiguous. "Their wives agree" means women don't want their husbands to be nurses, not the wives also don't want to be nurses, but if the closing quote is the point, then the wives also probably don't want to be nurses. (And by "nurses," the NYT means to refer to mostly to home health care workers and hospital assistants, and not the higher level nurses who are more like doctors and who I'm guessing don't appreciate seeing "nurse" as an umbrella term.)

If the closing quote is not the point — and the bulk of the article says it's not — then the problem is that men (and their wives) perceive the job as unmanly, but if they could get over that mental obstacle, men would like the job and be good at it.

There's a third theme, barely touched upon. The work actually is manly, in that it requires the lifting and moving of heavy patients, and men really are needed.

And a fourth theme: Many patients discriminate against men. Nature discriminates against men by killing them off at an earlier age. There are so many elderly women, and many of them don't mind saying that they won't accept a male health care worker. They're afraid of sexual predation. Whether men avoid the job because they're afraid of being thought of as a potential predator (or afraid of false accusation) is not mentioned in the article.

From the comments:
I am a female doctor and I find this whole issue surprising and disturbingly outdated. Gender does not register to my consciousness when working with a nurse, only their skill set. I have never heard the term pink collar but I find that as irritating as the rest of the article. Not all girls do pink. Not all nurses are women. Let's stop the a stereotypes! Nothing beats a good nurse period.
Ha, the female lawprof gets knocked by the female doctor. "Pink" is only used in that lawprof quote. But I think I see where the lawprof's thinking is. It's not that she sees women as "pink." She's implying that other people see women's jobs as insignificant and the old-fashioned term "pink collar" seems to embody that disrespect. And — I'm reading the etymology of the term now — that's always how the term worked:
The term "pink-collar" was popularized in the late 1970s by writer and social critic Louise Kapp Howe to denote women working as nurses, secretaries, and elementary school teachers. Its origins, however, go back to the early 1970s, to when the equal rights amendment, ERA, was placed before the states for ratification (March 1972). At that time, the term was used to denote secretarial and steno-pool staff as well as non-professional office staff, all of which were largely held by women. De rigueur, these positions were not white-collar jobs, but neither were they blue-collar manual labor. Hence, the creation of the term "pink collar," which indicated it was not white-collar but was nonetheless an office job, one that was overwhelmingly filled by women.
But if you don't know the origin of the term, it sounds as though it's insulting women, and it may also repel men from jobs we'd like them to take.

And why can't we stop the sex discrimination against the color pink? "Pink Wasn't Always So Girly/A short history of a complex color." Pink would like to break out of your crabbed little stereotypes and live a richer, fuller life.

June 24, 2017

"Ringo fidgeted at the back of the room. … George resumed tuning his guitar."

"John and Paul exchanged blank looks for a moment. With a distinct lack of enthusiasm, John finally said, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll do something for that.'"

50 years ago today, a grand occasion that didn't much excite The Beatles.

"In our last two performances, the security increased again, and the moment before the assassination became meta-theatrical."

"As the conspirators covertly moved in on Caesar, I wondered how many eyes were on us, at the same time, waiting for their own cue?"

Writes Corey Stoll, the actor who played Brutus in the New York production of Julius Caesar that depicted the assassination of Donald Trump.
[By the final performance] our show had become the target of hecklers and online vitriol, and it felt as if we were acting in two plays simultaneously — the one we had rehearsed and the one thrust upon us. The protesters never shut us down, but we had to fight each night to make sure they did not distort the story we were telling. At that moment, watching my castmates hold their performances together, it occurred to me that this is resistance....

In this new world where art is willfully misinterpreted to score points and to distract, simply doing the work of an artist has become a political act.... The very act of saying anything more nuanced than “us good, them bad” is under attack, and I’m proud to stand with artists who do....

Reenvisioning the Wisconsin flag for the Pride parade.

"We haven’t had a single negative comment. The response has been joyful. People just really think it’s fun."

Nice breezy day, high 68°. Walked 5.9 miles (or so this "health" app says).

Excellent cloud shapes made the lake (Mendota) photographable:


Part of the walk was out to Picnic Point, where we saw some great dogs, including a white French bulldog and a Norwegian blue beagle. I petted but did not photograph the beagle, and I photographed (but did not pet) this toad:


I've never noticed a toad carrying something before. I know the difference between a toad and a frog, but I don't like creating new tags, so "frogs" includes toads, okay? Just a tagging quirk of Althouse.

The NYT takes on the problem of groups of non-gay women going to gay bars.

"How ‘Gay’ Should a Gay Bar Be?"
“They use the space to become ‘wild girls,’” said Chris McKenzie, a 35-year-old computer programmer in West Hollywood. “It’s not at all in concert with what the gay men are there for.”...

“They think of us as ‘fun’ and ‘free,’” said Vin Testa, a 27-year-old educator in Washington, D.C. “It seems like they’re coming in to find their next accessory, like a new handbag.”...

“The women always say they come to these bars to be left alone,” said Larry Kase, a comedy writer in West Hollywood. “But it seems like they want as much attention from gay men as possible.”...

Chadwick Moore, a 33-year-old freelance writer in New York, [said gay bars] have become a choice setting for first Tinder dates by straight couples. “I believe the women are thinking, ‘I’m going to take the guy somewhere where I’m the only one to look at,’” he said. “Also, ‘I can check out whether he’s “down with the cause.”’”

"CNN has admitted it printed what President Donald Trump calls 'very fake news' and retracted..."

"... a demonstrably inaccurate hit piece on the President and his allies after a Breitbart News investigation uncovered significant inaccuracies and flaws in CNN’s work."

Reports Breitbart.

At the Catfé...


... it's lazy summer Saturday.

(But if you must shop, please shop through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Urban Cowboy?

From "Both Sides of a Breakup," The Cut speaks to both parties to a breakup and then presents the different points of view as a dialogue. These are real people (presumably!), a 38-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man. He's a free-lance photographer — "super-talented," as she puts it. She has a "skin-care business," but found money "always tight." At first she thought maybe he lives like he does because there's "family money," but there wasn't:
Jackson: I didn’t make the kind of money she wanted me to, which bothered her way more than me. I feel like I’m lucky that I have a rent-stabilized apartment and work that I enjoy. In my eyes, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t provide for her or her son. Love, affection, adventure. I was devoted. Dollar signs weren’t a thing as far as I was concerned.

Carly: It started to annoy me, big time, how little he worked, how rarely he thought about money or ambition. He’d do the littlest thing, like maybe smoke a joint with my friends, and I’d just boil over inside. Like, “You fucking stoner deadbeat!” Meanwhile, all my friends were also smoking and I’d be like, “Cool, love you guys.” But I was conflicted — he and my son had gotten so close and there was so much I loved about Jackson too.

Jackson: She wanted to change this very innate quality about me, which is that I’m not driven by money. I’m not materialistic. I don’t need fancy things. I just need good people, creativity, inspiration, honesty, a beautiful woman, a cold beer on my front stoop…

Carly: The Urban Cowboy thing got real old.

Jackson: I would have done anything to make it work, except get a terrible, soul-crushing job. And that was the only thing she ever wanted me to do.…
Her new boyfriend is a lawyer — a "corporate lawyer." No word on what he looks like, but Jackson was "really sexy, long-ish hair, amazing eyes, great body."

Anyway... "Urban Cowboy"? That's a reference were supposed to get in 2017? Is it the John Travolta movie from 1980?

I'm not seeing anything useful at Urban Dictionary, where the least up-voted entry seems most apt: 
An urban male who wants to be a [rugged] individualist without performing manual labor to make a living. These people include actors, singers (mainly country singers), government workers & Democrats. All Symbolism, but no Substance. They want the look, but not the work.

"Never have I ever felt more grateful for my limited responsibilities in life than when I was wandering through the Magic Kingdom watching other families roll their eyes and sometimes yell at each other."

"With every child’s tantrum I witnessed, I felt more at peace. Someday, I’m sure, I will have to peel a screaming toddler off the ground outside Peter Pan’s Flight. On this trip, however, I only had to answer to myself and to my boyfriend, who agreed that we should definitely try a wine in every country at Epcot. It was perfect, unexpected Zen."

From "Go to Disney World Now, Before You Have Kids," by Allie Jones in New York Magazine.

If the travel idea is go where you can see other people struggling under circumstances that do not afflict you, then why not visit prisons and cancer wards? I guess the key is that children are a very particular kind of circumstance.

You might be troubled by the impression that children are wonderful and the meaning of life and that you ought to get to that real life soon so you can live and do all the things people do with children like take them to Disney World.

If that's how you're thinking, a trip to Disney World without children could work well. First, it would prove that you can go to Disney World without having a child first. Second, it would help you see that there's good and bad in having or not having children. It's not that you'd learn that children afflict you like prison or cancer, but just that it's a mixed experience, a different mix from life without children.

The use of the word "pornified" in a NYT headline gets me to read a Bret Stephens column.

It's not that "pornified" isn't a word. I mean, it's not in my dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary:
But it's in the Urban Dictionary:
And it doesn't need to be in any dictionary for you to understand it as a coinage. The word has appeared in the NYT quite often enough over the last dozen years, beginning in 2005, mostly in reference to the book "Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families."

But Ross Douthat brought the word to the op-ed page in 2010, in "Sex, Marriage and Upper Class Obligation":
American elites don’t have a strong personal interest in trying to stigmatize pornographers (instead of being amused by their antics), or in allying with anti-obscenity crusaders (instead of making fun of them). But I think there’s a pretty good case that they should do it anyway, because other people’s children, further down the ladder of education and income and prestige, might stand to gain from a less pornified society. That would be a kind of noblesse oblige, and it would be admirable and welcome.
Douthat was talking about actual pornography, but that's not what's going on in the new column by Bret Stephens (the other conservative columnist in the NYT). Here, the word is used metaphorically — and ironically titillating us in "How Twitter Pornified Politics."
This is the column in which I formally forswear Twitter for good.... Why now? Because... it occurred to me that Twitter is the political pornography of our time: revealing but distorting, exciting but dulling, debasing to its users, and, well, ejaculatory. It’s bad for the soul and, as Donald Trump proves daily, bad for the country.
Stephens says he was influenced by this New York Magazine article — "Pornhub Is the Kinsey Report of Our Time" — which has this quote" "Pornography trains us to redirect sexual desire as mimetic desire. That is, the sociological theory — and the marketers’ dream — that humans learn to want what they see."

Stephens explains:
That is what Twitter has been for our politics... If pornography is about the naked, grunting body, Twitter is about the naked, grunting brain. It’s whatever pops out. And what pops out is altogether too revealing.
That's what I like about Twitter and perhaps why my favorite thing about Donald Trump is his tweeting. I want the nakedness of the mind. Trump is great at tweeting, so to continue the metaphor, I wonder if Stephens's withdrawal from Twitter is like a guy deciding to abstain from sex because he's not up to the high-level antics he sees in pornography.

Is the analogy imperfect? When you have sex you're not (usually!) making pornography, but everyone who tweets is just writing a few words on Twitter. What the President of the United States does is, in form, exactly what any one of us can do — write a few words. The President just happens to be brilliantly effective at it. But as Stephens sees it, Twitter fits Trump's "style of crowd politics: unmediated, blunt and burst-like." It's "the reptilian medium for the reptilian brain."

If all that haughtiness and puritanism about terse speech and porn is making you want a laugh at Stephens's expense, let me show you what I encountered scrolling through the last few days of Stephens's Twitter feed:
The reptilian medium for the reptilian brain... indeed.

Mark Zuckerberg is in Iowa — running for President? —  and I'm scrutinizing the the rhetoric.

"I'm visiting small towns in Iowa, and just stopped in Wilton, population 2,800," says Zuckerberg, presumably somewhere on the path to running for President. He seems to be wondering why people even live in Wilton, Iowa. I mean, his theme is economic mobility demands geographic mobility. Boldface added:
Research on economic mobility shows that your ability and willingness to move for better opportunity often determines whether your quality of life will be better than your parents'. In many places, people are less likely to move, and that contributes to less upwards economic mobility.

However, in many places in Iowa and across the Midwest, people are raised with values that lead them to be more likely to move to other places for college or jobs, and therefore have greater upwards mobility...

The people I met in Wilton shared these values around mobility....
Wilton is doing better than some other towns in Iowa, and Zuckerberg met some people in Wilton who'd moved to Wilton from somewhere else in Iowa. Zuckerberg — who's lived his life in the Northeast and northern California — has found a way to say Honey, how come you don't move?* to Iowa people without seeming to reject Iowa. But Iowans better at least be willing to move somewhere else in Iowa if they want to escape blame for your downward mobility.

In Z's political rhetoric, willingness to blame the individual is expressed in the positive: You people of the Midwest have values. Your values will get you moving economically, because your values will make you face up to the reality that you need to mobilize out of the Midwest to a thriving economic hotspot like Wilton, Iowa.

I'm making a new tag: Zuckerberg rhetoric. I only make a special "rhetoric" tag for a person when I'm seriously following a run for President and I expect a lot of material.

By the way, Mark Zuckerberg is only 33 years old, not old enough yet to be President, but old enough to run. Anybody who wants to support him will have to give up the argument that it was ridiculous for Trump to think he could begin a political career with the office of President and that a lifetime of experience in business isn't transferable to the presidency. (And Zuckerberg is less than half Trump's age, and his career in business is only 13 years long, and Trump had half a century in business.)

* The italicized words are the last line of Bob Dylan's "On the Road Again."

June 23, 2017

At the Stalking Cat Café...



... you can talk about anything you want.

And if you need to buy a cat bell or anything else, please consider shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.