February 23, 2018

At the Cactus & Mushroom Café...

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... you can talk about anything you like.

And please remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon whenever you need to buy anything on line.

"Oh, I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks. I work hard at it. It doesn’t look bad. Hey, we are hanging in, we are hanging in, we are hanging in there. Right? Together, we are hanging in.”



That's Trump at CPAC. I found that at the NYT, which fleshes out the wisp of a story with other details about Trump's efforts around his bald spot, such as the time in June 2015 when he had a woman at some campaign event touch his hair and answer the question "Is that sucker real?" Her answer was "It’s thin, but it’s real."

A Madison man walks into Shorewood Elementary School and hands a teacher a piece of cardboard with the word "gun" written on it.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports. What was he doing? I think I understand:
Shorewood Hills Police Chief Aaron Chapin said Jonathan M. Fitzgerald, 35, activated a front door buzzer at the school, 1105 Shorewood Blvd., around 10 a.m., requesting access to the building. When he was allowed in, he walked past the school office where visitors are required to check in, Chapin said.

A staff member followed Fitzgerald as he went down the hall to the classroom his child was in, Chapin said. “Fitzgerald made statements to the teacher in the room about being an intruder who was allowed access to the school and gave the teacher a piece of cardboard with the word ‘gun’ on it,” Chapin said.

Chapin said Fitzgerald left the classroom and went to the administrative office where he made similar statements and handed staff another piece of cardboard with “gun” written on it, then left the school building.
Based only on those facts, I would assume that he was trying to demonstrate that the children are not safe, that a person with an actual gun would not have been stopped.

He was arrested. On what charge? Disorderly conduct. That is defined in the Wisconsin statutes as "violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance." The statute goes on to specifically provide that "a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading a firearm, or for carrying or going armed with a firearm or a knife, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or the firearm or the knife is concealed or openly carried." But, of course, a piece of cardboard with the word "gun" written on it is not a firearm.

ADDED: Meanwhile, in Allen Parish, Louisiana, they got a search warrant against teenager who made a comment about the way the square root symbol looks like a gun.
"The students were working together, and a student made a math symbol of a square root sign, which kind of looks like a pistol. And he was helping a weaker student, and the student says, 'Well, that looks like a pistol!' And he just made a comment [like] 'let's just get to work before I shoot you with a pistol,” said Superintendent Doucet.

Gossip turned it into a rumor about the student plotting to carry out a mass shooting at Oberlin High School. The rumor warranted a search of the student's home for guns.

"I never know what I’ll do here when I walk in the door. I get here about 10 and leave late in the afternoon. It’s sort of magical."

"I’ll screw around. I’ll write in my journal. I’ll write letters. I’ll play the piano. Maybe I take a nap. Maybe I wake up at four in the afternoon with all these thoughts and characters in my head and ask myself, ‘Now what’s all this?’ and start to write. I really don’t understand any of it but it sure beats working... I really am so fortunate to have discovered the career that I have.... I was talking with my Broadway producer and he said, ‘Why don’t you write a play about Harvey Weinstein?’ And so I did."

Said David Mamet, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, which describes the "multilevel townhouse that functions as an office that he comes to five or six days a week":
There are guitars on the floor, a piano in the corner, art on the walls, comfortable furniture and, among many talismans of Chicago (old postcards, old button pins), a small framed poster from Riverview, the bygone amusement park.
The house isn't in Chicago. It's in Santa Monica, California.

What an edgy KFC ad.



KFC is apologizing for running out of chicken (in the UK).

"In the Philippine capital, Manila, meat is recycled from landfill tips, washed and re-cooked."

"It's called 'pagpag' and it's eaten by the poorest people who can't afford to buy fresh meat." BBC video:



ADDED: I'm trying to understand the Britishism "landfill tips." As an American, my first thought was that people are hearing the news — getting a "tip" — that meat has been deposited in a landfill. But I think the "tip" is the deposit of garbage into the landfill. A container is dumped or tipped, and where we say "dump," they say "tip." I looked it up in the OED, which has "rubbish tip" — with no definition — in its entry for "rubbish." 3 quotes are offered, perhaps to orient us, and one is the deliberately weird: "On a step a gnome totting among a rubbishtip crouches to shoulder a sack of rags and bones." That's James Joyce, "Ulysses." Google Books gives me the larger context. I scroll up to get a running leap into it and find: "Peep at his wearables. By mighty! What's he got? Jubilee mutton. Bovril, by James. Wants it real bad. D'ye ken bare socks? Seedy cuss in the Richmond? Rawthere! Thought he had a deposit of lead in his penis. Trumpery insanity...."

"Vulnerable women are most likely being 'extensively' abused across the UK and ministers need to urgently review sex exploitation laws..."

"The government said it would 'look carefully' at Mr Spicer's 33 recommendations, which also included a need for research into the cultural background of abusers, many of whom in the case of Sanctuary were from a 'predominantly Asian or British Minority Ethnic culture or background.'Mr Spicer, who carried out the serious case review... said it was clear 'adults were being targeted, groomed and exploited' as well as children. But he said authorities did not have the powers to intervene with adults to stop them 'making bad choices"' or forming 'inappropriate relationships.'"

BBC reports.

"More than 100 girls are still missing three days after suspected Boko Haram extremists attacked their school in northern Nigeria..."

"... parents said Thursday, as fears grew that they may have been kidnapped... Boko Haram horrified the world when it abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok almost four years ago. Though some escaped and many others were released as part of negotiations, about 100 remain with their captors. The extremist group has kidnapped thousands of people over the years."

The L.A. Times reports.

"We were in the right lane and as we came up to the bridge we went to the middle lane. It was an old guy yelling – something we couldn’t hear – super pissed-off."

"We just tried to get the heck away from him. He followed us the whole length of the bridge, driving crazy.... My friend opened his window and just said, 'I apologize, we were just trying to go upstate... [He said] 'You know who the f— I am?'... Then he started cursing at me for no reason and said, 'I am going to ruin your lives!' I said, 'F— you!' Then he yanks open their car door and yells, 'I’m going to punch you in the nose' and he came after me and had his hands in my face... I said, ‘Get the f— away from me!’... I closed my car door and locked it but he was still trying to get in at me when a nurse and an off-duty cop escorted him away... I didn’t know who he was — I was just trying to defend myself. He was physically trying to harm me... I looked him up on Google and I still didn’t know who he was... He didn’t look like he looked when he made his movies."

Said Michael Landrio, who was arrested for kicking Chevy Chase. Chase, is 6' 4" and 240 pounds. Landrio is 5'11" and 155 pounds.

ADDED: I posted about this incident yesterday — exactly 24 hours ago, to the minute, by chance. So we're already in the middle of this conversation. I just wanted to add the words of the man in the truck. By the way, shouldn't Chase have been arrested too (or instead)?

"Florida shooting: Bullets flew for 4 minutes as armed deputy waited outside."

CNN reports.
School resource officer Scot Peterson never went in, despite taking a position on the west side of Building 12, where most of the carnage happened, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday.

"I think he remained outside for upwards of four minutes," Israel said Thursday in a news conference. The shooting, he said, lasted six minutes....

President Donald Trump made his first remarks about Peterson while departing the White House on Friday, saying the deputy "certainly did a poor job."

"He trained his whole life," Trump said. "But when it came time to get in there and do something, he didn't have the courage or something happened. But he certainly did a poor job, there's no question about that."
Did he train his whole life for this situation, to go in single-handedly and stop an active shooter, somewhere in a building amid many other people? Or are we really just thinking, how could he not go in and die trying rather than to stay alive only to be mired in hopeless shame?

Moving away from the pitiful figure of Scot Peterson, I want to know how much you think school security guards are going to help. Is Peterson the outlier, or should we expect all the guards we hire to turn out to be a Scot Peterson when the crisis hits?

Somehow I wasn't bothered as much by this...



... as by the German cross-country skier who accepted a German flag as he skied into the stadium and waved it as he crossed the finish line. I said out loud: "I don't see how you can wave the German flag." Prompted to think of all the great Germans in history, I said: "You can express pride about particular Germans" — I'm thinking, Beethoven... — "but don't express pride in Germany." Maybe in 100 years.

IN THE COMMENTS: Livermoron wrote:
I lived in Germany for a decade. The Germans are very split on this issue. Here is an article from 17 years ago that addresses that issue. Note that a parliamentary representative was taken to task for saying he is proud to be a German while the former Bundespraesident refused to say the same thing.

The Germans are a fucked-up people, politics-wise. They took away the wrong lessons from WW2. Instead of learning that they need to stand up and actively fight against evil they simply fall back on a lazy and disingenuous pacifism and let others do the lifting. Maybe it is because they don't trust themselves to do the right thing. They shouldn't.

My German wife (yes, I organize my wives by nationality) and I were discussing current German politics and the debacle that Deutschland has become. We wondered why there were no great German champions of Democracy/natural rights. No Rousseau, no Locke.

Ultimately we ended-up agreeing that people who derive their politics from German philosophers, well...shouldn't.

"The New ‘Heathers’ Is a Trumpian, LGBT-Bashing Nightmare."

Samantha Allen at The Daily Beast reviews the new TV show based on the great 80s movie about high school outsiders who murder the mean popular kids.
The television reboot of Heathers opens with a guidance counselor asking the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Veronica whether or not she is “a hermaphrodite”—the implication being that even though she has a 4.2 GPA and a high SAT score, Veronica needs some sort of marginalized identity to get accepted anywhere other than her safety school....

If you believe that kids these days are fragile “snowflakes,” that political correctness is running amok, and that LGBT people are now society’s true bullies, this new Heathers is the show for you. The premiere of the rebooted cult classic, now airing for free online, takes place in a universe—clearly a fictional one—where the football team is oppressed and yesteryear’s fat, queer, and black victims now rule the school with manicured fists. The show feels like it was written for aging Fox News viewers who get angry about people’s gender pronouns—which is odd because it’s clearly being marketed to a young and therefore progressive-leaning audience who may not remember the 1988 original.....

The new Heathers is for people who want to see a heteronormative status quo restored before it has even been meaningfully disrupted. (“You know, what if the next truly revolutionary thing was just to be totally normal?” Veronica asks.)
I added the link for watching it free, but do you want to watch it? I'm kind of interested in the turnabout, if it could be done with real intelligence and sharp writing. And I love the original movie. I watched it many times... before Columbine. Once outsider kids killing their schoolmates started happening in real life, the satire lost its fun and its edge. Who wants to laugh at schoolkids killing schoolkids now? Fortunately, I can still enjoy "Dr. Strangelove."

Red is the new orange: I thought the archbishop was a prisoner.

From the front page of The Daily News:

"Eager to be seen as leading the debate, Trump tossed out ideas like so much fish food."

WaPo's Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker toss out random red meat in "‘We’re going to take action’: Inside Trump’s shifting stance on gun rights," teased on the front page as "How Trump cast himself as the main protagonist in the unfolding gun drama."

Presumably "fish food" is an intentional allusion to an incident that came in at #6 on President Trump's "2017 Fake News Awards": "CNN FALSELY edited a video to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister. Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding."

Also in the new article:
The president, who has often struggled to convey empathy, clutched a slim notecard with reminders about how to communicate with the grieving — “I hear you,” read one — that officials said White House Communications Director Hope Hicks jotted down during a huddle with Trump to prepare for the event.
So he held a piece of paper that had 5 notes from Hope Hicks? Wouldn't you think you'd want to look at the transcript to see how many times the man you portray as empathy-challenged used the phrase Hope Hick wrote down for him? I checked. Here's the transcript. The answer is zero.

Maybe that note card will make the 2018 Fake News Awards list. Remember this story about George H.W. Bush?
There was no card, but it did sound like a talking point accidentally read out loud. H.W.'s idiosyncratic locutions could have been portrayed as charming and evidence that he really was speaking straight from the heart. As George W. Bush put it in "41: A Portrait of My Father":
At one town hall, he delivered an underwhelming line to New Hampshire voters: “Message: I care.” No doubt he did care, a lot.
That was 1992, and H.W. Bush went on to lose his bid for reelection. It was the last time a U.S. presidential incumbent lost — the time the man had to read his empathy from a card. It didn't happen then, and it didn't happen with Donald Trump. But if it makes sense to you, if it strikes a chord, if it rings true, it is true.

February 22, 2018

At the Happy Face Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you like.

And please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon when you've got some on-line shopping to do.

Snapchat loses $1.3 billion in market value after Kylie Jenner tweets that she doesn't open up the app anymore.

Bloomberg reports.

Here's all it took: "sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me... ugh this is so sad."

We think of these social media companies as so successful, but they could collapse in an instant, if people just stopped going there.

Related: I've stopped using Facebook.

Do Hollywood stars think life works like a movie?

TMZ reports:
Chevy [Chase] claims he was traveling over NY's Tappan Zee Bridge on February 9 when a black pickup cut him off. He told cops he though[t] the truck hit his car, so he flashed his high beams and followed it until the driver pulled over.

According to police docs ... Chevy realized there was no damage to either vehicle, but approached the driver to "speak to him about his reckless driving." He claims there were 3 other people in the truck, and one of 'em flipped him off....

Chevy says he fired back, "If I were a lot younger I'd bust your nose" ... then one of 'em got out and kicked him in the shoulder so hard he went to the ground.
The kicker told police that Chase actually did try to punch him, and the kick was in self-defense.

What kind of person, cut off by a truck in NYC, follows the truck and actually gets it to stop and walks up to it? Chase is a 74-year-old man, and he either didn't know who was in the truck or knew there were 3 people in it. He followed them, which is threatening, and, further threatening them, forced them to stop and approached them and (apparently) yelled at them. Did he think he'd be recognized as a celebrity and celebrated?

Perhaps he's desperate to get in the news and willing to die for it. Here he was last month going on "Good Morning Britain" to reminisce about the time — back in 1989 — when, pursuant to a "Saturday Night Live" script, he dumped popcorn on Donald Trump's head:



Oh, no, wait, Chase claims that was spontaneous ad lib slapstick: "I saw that hair and thought, 'I've got to spill some popcorn on him.'... He's just a big construction worker to me.... Unfortunately he's now running the country – a construction worker!" Well, Mr. Chase, the billionaire was able to inspire construction workers and other blue collar people to feel he cared about them. And here you are sneering at the people. And scolding and threatening truck drivers who you only imagine have damaged your fancy car.

How tone-deaf and un-self-aware can you get?

The infinitely subtle manipulations of Donald Trump.

The NYT would love to hear your most intimate sex stories. Please describe in graphic detail.

Does this seem creepy?
We’ve seen it play out on a public stage, from the Aziz Ansari incident to The New Yorker’s “Cat Person” story. So-called “gray-zone sex” has prompted impassioned conversations about — and personal reflection on — what constitutes consent and how we signal our desire or apprehension in the moment.... We want to hear how you handle consent for sexual intimacy in relationships and encounters. Do you have a particular experience you find yourself thinking back to? What was said, texted or hinted at, through words or physical cues, that moved the encounter forward — or stopped it? How did it make you feel at the time, and how do you think about it now?...

• We are seeking accounts from college undergraduates worldwide in 500 words or less.

• Visuals that illustrate your story (text message conversations, social media screenshots or similar images) are welcome....
I note that the solicitation is written in a gender-neutral way. Other than the reference to the Ansari incident and the Kristen Roupenian short story, there is no indication that they are only seeking stories from women who've had encounters with men. I'd like the Times to reveal in the end what proportion of the submissions (double meaning intended) are from women encountering men. 99%? Would a man who grudgingly provided sex to a woman and regretted it — or extracted himself after inspiring expectations — write up the graphic details for the New York Times? With screenshots!

Isn't it a question of who feels righteous about invading another person's privacy?

Did NYU serve a racist dinner to celebrate Black History Month?

The NYT describes the controversy:
On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, corn bread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water.

Nia Harris, a sophomore in N.Y.U.’s College of Arts & Science, sought an explanation from Weinstein Passport Dining Hall’s head cook. The cook dismissed her objections, Ms. Harris said in an email to university officials, telling her that the Kool-Aid was actually fruit punch (it was not, she said) and that the dining hall served fruit-flavored water “all the time” (it does, she said, but not watermelon).

The head cook also told Ms. Harris that the employees who planned the menu were black.

Ms. Harris, 19, posted a screen shot of her email on Facebook, along with a post that began, “This is what it’s like to be a black student at New York University.” It spread quickly....
The university president blamed Aramark, the company that provides the university's food service. Aramark blamed 2 of its workers. Supposedly, they deviated from the company's "longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion." So those 2 guys got fired, which can't be what Nia Harris wanted, can it?
In a phone interview Wednesday evening, Ms. Harris said she chose to believe that the Aramark employees had acted out of ignorance of their menu’s implications, not out of malice. But she added that, while she was glad they had been fired, it should not have been her responsibility to point out the problem — one that she said went far beyond a single incident.
To fire the 2 low-level workers is to say this is not a systemic problem but an inconsequential deviation from the norm by 2 inconsequential people. They're out and now we can return to our proud tradition of diversity and inclusion. [AND: The article is cagy about revealing the facts, but if I'm reading this correctly, the 2 men who lost their job are black.]

ADDED: This post caused me to make a new tag, "watermelon," and to apply to posts in the archive. In this process of retroactive tagging, I found 2 fascinating things.

First, the time Dan Rather said, about our first black President, Barack Obama, "if a state trooper is flagging down the traffic on a highway, Obama couldn't sell watermelons."

Second, the story of how Sayyid Qutb — who inspired al Qaeda — grew to hate Americans. So I dug up the text of "The America I Have Seen: In the Scale of Human Values" Sayyid Qutb ash-Shaheed (1951). The relevant excerpt:
As for their food, that too is very strange. You will attract attention, and cause disbelief, if you request another cube of sugar for the cup of coffee or tea that you drink in America. Sugar is reserved for pickles and salads, while salt, my good sir, is saved for apples and watermelons.

On your plate you will find combined a piece of salted meat, some boiled corn, some boiled peas, and some sweet jam. And on top of all this is what Americans call gravy, which is composed sometimes of fat, vinegar, flour, broth, apples, salt and pepper, and sugar, and water.

We were at the table in one of the cafeterias of the University, when I saw some Americans putting salt on their watermelon. And I was prepared to see these strange fads and also to play jokes on them from time to time. And I said, faking innocence, "I see you sprinkling salt on the watermelon." One of them said," Yes! Don't you do the same in Egypt?" I said, "No! We sprinkle pepper!" A surprised and curious giri said," How would that taste?" I said, "You can try for yourself!" She tasted it and said approvingly," It's tasty!" and so did all the others.

On another day in which watermelon was served, and most of the same people were at the table, I said "Some of us in Egypt use sugar at times instead of pepper." One of them tried it and said, "How tasty!" and so did all the others.
How nice we were to him!