September 2, 2014

Saving the "Bucket Bear."


I clicked on "Three sentences no one should forget about onions."

But it actually said "Three sentences no one should forget about unions." I would never have clicked on that. And now I'm sad not to have 3 sentences not to forget about onions. Please help me do better than this:

1. "Get those onions out of here!" (That's what Philo Kvetch said to "Onions" Oregano on "The Soupy Sales Show.")

2. "That was strange, having real onions and the rest of the stuff phony." (Andy Warhol's diary entry for Monday, August 27, 1979, commenting on a sandwich he ate at McDonald's.)

3. "Be an onion!" (According to Mark Twain, that's what a Bermudian says to his son.)

There is a such a thing as a coffee nap!

I'd thought I was weird, drinking coffee in the afternoon, when I'm groggy and trying to perk up, and soon falling asleep anyway, and getting a pretty nice nap. But science says this is a thing:
It might sound crazy: conventional wisdom is that caffeine interferes with sleep. But if you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness. Here's the science behind the idea....

"I don't care about the consequences; put this plane down."

"I lost two dogs in the last month. I want her off of here, or I'm going to leave; or I want you to stop the plane."

Said the lady on the plane, whose crazy argument worked to force the plane down.

What was the relevance of the dead dogs? To her, I mean. I'm interested in bad arguments. I have a tag charming bad logic, but it's not quite right here, obviously, since everyone on the plane had their time massively wasted by this woman who must have seriously believed in the profundity of her special need.

Stepping out...


... with Howie and Ollie (at The Puparazzo). And more with just Ollie (the Labradoodle) here. Ollie's a Labradoodle, but what is Howie? He reminds me of the cats in Betty Boop cartoons.

"NFL executives, you see, are 'architects'... coolly calculating what is in the best interests of his organization."

"An architect is solemn, constructing something built to last that is of value to a community. Irrationalities like 'prejudice' and 'gay panic' never enter the thought process, not when you are building the football equivalent of the new wing at the Guggenheim. Michael Sam, meanwhile, and the media who care about his journey constitute a 'circus.' What could possibly be less serious and more frivolous than a circus? For that matter what could possibly be less 'manly' than a circus? A drag show, perhaps?"

Writes Dave Zirin in The Nation.

Yes, what is less manly than a circus?

Any words you use may be used against you.

On the first day of school...


... you can pass all the notes you want to your friends.

The Russians send 5 geckos into space for a sex experiment.

They all die.

"If every state had an official dessert, what would it be?"

Did they get your state right?

WaPo owner Bezos replaces publisher Katharine Weymouth with Frederick J. Ryan Jr.

So the 48-year-old female who got her position through membership in the Graham family, which had owned the paper since 1933, will be superseded by a 59-year-old male lawyer, who worked in the Reagan administration — the Reagan administration! — and who co-founded Politico.
Ryan’s background in Republican politics also is certain to raise questions about the direction of The Post’s editorial page, among the most influential in the nation....
Ryan edited the books "Ronald Reagan: The Wisdom and Humor of the Great Communicator" and "Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator." Hey, Ryan, tear down that paywall!
Weymouth was touched by controversy early in her tenure when Politico...
... reported in 2009 that she had attempted to schedule a series of exclusive, off-the-record dinners at her home — called “salons” — with business leaders, administration and congressional officials and Post journalists. Amid public backlash, the events were canceled before any were held.
Oh, yeah. I remember blogging that, under the heading "The Washington Post loses its mind."
"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate. Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders."

Price: $250,000. With "parameters" said to ensure that that the newspaper "did not in any way compromise our integrity" (such as it was).
Good luck to Ryan and Bezos. And tear down that paywall.

"When parents reported their daughters missing, it could take 24 hours for the police to turn up...."

"Some parents, if they called in repeatedly, were fined for wasting police time. Some officers and local officials told the investigation that they did not act for fear of being accused of racism. But [Alexis Jay, a former chief inspector of social work who was commissioned by the Rotherham Council to carry out an independent investigation] said that for years there was an undeniable culture of institutional sexism. Her investigation heard that police referred to victims as 'tarts' and to the girls’ abuse as a 'lifestyle choice.' In the minutes of a meeting about a girl who had been raped by five men, a police detective refused to put her into the sexual abuse category, saying he knew she had been '100 percent consensual.' She was 12.... During an interview at her home outside Rotherham, [one victim] recalled being questioned about her abuse by police officers who repeatedly referred to the main rapist as her 'boyfriend.'"

The NYT reports on the Rotherham rape scandal.

Climbing out to precarious, vertiginous places toward Instagram fame.

Beautiful, unsettling pictures.

What could go wrong?

"My casual choice to use the word 'smarter' really provoked a reaction!"

"I could just have easily written 'I prefer LD's tweet.' But people are so touchy about anything that suggests an actual comparison of IQs. A lot of pride and anxiety at that location, I suspect."

Said I, commenting at 5:01 AM at what is at the moment the end of a comments thread on a post where I'd called Lena Dunham's tweet about the naked-celebrity-pics leak "smarter" than the tweet by Ricky Gervais.

I didn't even say I thought Lena is smarter than Ricky, though it sure would be fun to watch them go head to head on the LSAT.

ADDED: Ricky's subtextual message to readers of his tweet was: It's okay to look at the pictures. Lena's overt message was: "It's not okay." That's the basis for my preference.

September 1, 2014

50 years ago this month: the first time Pete Townshend destroyed his guitar as part of an on-stage performance.

"Pete Townshend said it was an accident the first time he smashed his guitar. He was playing with The Who in a small cramped room at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, west London. The ceiling was damp with condensation, the room smoky, a smell of sweat and stale beer. The Who were playing 'Smokestack Lightning,' 'I’m a Man,' and 'Road Runner' when..."

I don't think the precise day is known, so I can't say "50 years ago today" as I normally do, and it wasn't a planned action, so this is an ambiguous milestone. Later, Townsend would do it on purpose. But even if it was intentional, it was long after the first planned performance of instrument destruction. I don't know what was the first, but Wikipedia has an article titled "Instrument destruction," which gives the honor to a performance that took place in 1956, amazingly enough, on the Lawrence Welk TV show. It was Rocky Rockwell, doing an Elvis Presley impersonation, and it looked a little something like this:

Maybe because that was comical, it shouldn't count. Rockwell wasn't sincere in his Elvisosity, so the destruction expressed only a rejection of the music he was inviting us to laugh at and reject. And they say Jerry Lee Lewis set his piano on fire in the 1950s. Charles Mingus famously got mad at someone and broke his $20,000 bass.

But there's some restriction of the definition of the feat that puts Pete Townsend first. Here's Jeff Beck aping Pete's routine in the 1966 movie "Blowup":

"Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on the computer."

Tweeted Ricky Gervais, after a big naked-celebrity security leak at iCloud.

He's getting reamed for saying that.

A smarter tweet from Lena Dunham: "Remember, when you look at these pictures you are violating these women again and again. It’s not okay. Seriously, do not forget that the person who stole these pictures and leaked them is not a hacker: they’re a sex offender."

And: "Also sad I can’t make one joke about having shown my t*ts on purpose without a massive qualitative tit debate. Some of y’all, dang. The 'don’t take naked pics if you don’t want them online' argument is the 'she was wearing a short skirt' of the web. Ugh."

IN THE COMMENTS: John Nowak said:
I wish people would stop saying "the Cloud" and replace it with "Someone else's server."

I think that would make some decisions more clear for what they are. 
I don't think people realize that they may have their iPhone set to store photos automatically on Apple's servers. Many lovers just fool around with the phone camera. Are you smart enough to know how stupid you need to be to make the "Jennifer Lawrence mistake"?

"To me, bad teachers don’t do anybody any good. So the unions need to recognize that parents are not going to stand for it anymore."

Said Whoopi Goldberg today, Labor Day.

In the buff.

"What color is buff?" I was asked recently, after I mentioned that the English dandy Beau Brummel mostly only ever wore the colors white, blue-black, and buff.

I answered "in the buff," as if the color is the color of a random naked person, but I looked it up in the OED, and the relevant meaning is "Of the colour of buff leather; a light brownish yellow." Buff leather is buffalo leather, and from that comes the meaning that "buff" is naked skin and "in the buff" means naked. I'd never thought of the the nakedness usage of "buff" as having anything to do with "buffalo." The word "buff" meaning an enthusiast — as in "film buff" — comes from the enthusiasm for going to fires, in that NYC volunteer firemen at one time wore buff-colored uniforms.

I guess Americans don't use the color name "buff" so much anymore. We do have a tendency to identify light brownish colors as "tan." Obama's summer suit, much-discussed last week, was almost invariably called "tan." Some said "khaki," which the OED calls a "dull brownish yellow." As for "tan," the OED calls it "The brown colour of tan; tawny," "tan" being a cocoction made from oak bark, used in tanning leather. I've long been influenced by the Crayola crayon that was labeled "tan" (at least in the 1950s and 60s), so I see this more as the color of a suntan. Of course, back then, Crayola had a crayon labeled "flesh." That got re-named "peach" in 1962. We knew the Civil Rights Movement had momentum.

Is it only an accident that the subject of race has arisen in the context of what to call the color of Obama's suit? Is the concern about the color of his suit unconscious displacement of concern over the color of his skin? Consult this chart:

Here's the suit:

Buff? Maybe it depends on whether you're an Obama buff. "Buff" also means — referring to a man — "muscular, well-toned; physically attractive." A Google image search for "Obama's buff suit" turns up pictures of him in a bathing suit, presumably in admiration of his bare chest, but perhaps because he's partially in the buff. Be careful though. The etymology all goes back to "buffalo." Remember the infamous "Water Buffalo Incident" of 1993?

On a lighter note, it's Labor Day: Don't wear white after Labor Day.

That was the biggest hunk of bait I've ever seen on this blog...

... the first comment, totally off topic and saying obscene things about the Christian religion. Admirably, you talked about what I'd invited you to talk about, Ted Cruz saying "Sadly, the state of the world is the Russian bear is encountering the Obama kitty cat."

Said troll arrived just as Meade and I were leaving to go to the theater, another drive out to Spring Green to the American Players Theater, this time to re-see "Travesties," that Tom Stoppard play that has Vladimir Lenin and James Joyce as characters and uses elements of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." We saw the Wilde play on Friday, dodging lightning. And that made the second viewing of "Travesties" more different from the first than most re-seeings. Re-seeings are always different though, in good ways. Anything I like enough to see a second time I prefer to see with the experience of having seen it before. The surprises are gone, and undistracted by predicting and looking for surprises, you notice everything that's been planted along the way to make the coming surprises surprising. It's at least different. Do you agree that it's better?

At the elite level, the Supreme Court cogitates about the subtle psychological pressure to pray when a private chaplain performs an invocation at a government meeting.

Here, for example, is Justice Kagan dissenting in the Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway:
A person goes to court, to the polls, to a naturalization ceremony — and a government official or his hand-picked minister asks her, as the first order of official business, to stand and pray with others in a way conflicting with her own religious beliefs. Perhaps she feels sufficient pressure to go along — to rise, bow her head, and join in whatever others are saying: After all, she wants, very badly, what the judge or poll worker or immigration official has to offer. Or perhaps she is made of stronger mettle, and she opts not to participate in what she does not believe — indeed, what would, for her, be something like blasphemy. She then must make known her dissent from the common religious view, and place herself apart from other citizens, as well as from the officials responsible for the invocations. And so a civic function of some kind brings religious differences to the fore: That public proceeding becomes (whether intentionally or not) an instrument for dividing her from adherents to the community’s majority religion, and for altering the very nature of her relationship with her government.
At the non-elite level, say Winter Garden, Florida, the mayor himself performs the invocation, calls out a citizen who fails to rise on his order, chastises the citizen who quietly cites his desire and right to decline to participate, and — when the man also declines to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance kicks the man out of the meeting. Witness Mayor John Rees:

"Why Uber must be stopped/The touted start-up is proving to be the embodiment of unrestrained hyper-capitalism. What happens when it wins?"

Hysterical headline at Salon, illustrated by a photoshop of Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko and Leonardo Di Caprio as the Wolf of Wall Street, together at last, glaring at us rapaciously.

Here's Power Line's attack on Salon.