May 27, 2016

"Hinckley stocks up on cat food at PetSmart ($100 per visit); frequents Wendy’s, KFC, and Sweet Frog (he likes its yogurt)..."

"... and haunts used-record stores (recent purchases include David Bowie’s The Next Day). 'It can be boring at times,' he has said. Once, after seeing a Beatles cover band, Hinckley noted being turned off by Williamsburg’s 'conservative' crowd. At least one night per trip, Hinckley attends group therapy, including at a local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. His caseworker noted being 'floored' by Hinckley’s interest in the gatherings. 'It’s really refreshing to be in a group of people who aren’t completely out of their minds,' Hinckley once explained. 'Their mental-health problems are more like depression and anxiety. They can carry on regular conversations.' He described to a therapist how nicely he’d hit it off with one gentleman in particular: 'He’s my age. He has three cats. What else could I ask for?'"

Humanizing Hinckley — "How John Hinckley Lives Now."

The cat food is for the 2 dozen plus feral cats he feeds.

"The populist uprisings on her left and her right seem almost designed to draw from Clinton a defense of the country itself..."

"... that its systems of aspiration and its commitment to civic duty are intact, that things are working. And yet, she has hesitated. Among voters doubt is deeply ingrained, and élites are broadly distrusted. Watching Clinton campaign this time I have often wondered, does she herself still believe? There is another way to put this, which is that the trouble for Hillary Clinton is not only that voters do not trust her. That only deepens and complicates her essential problem, which is that Americans do not trust."

The last lines of a New Yorker article by Benjamin Wallace-Wells titled "Does Hillary Clinton Still Believe?"

Worth clicking through if only for the photograph — of Hillary in 1992 with her father and mother. The difference in demeanor of the 2 parents toward their eminent daughter is almost humanizing.

"Chinese schoolkids climb a 2,625-foot cliffside ladder to get home."

"Every two weeks, when the students, ages 6 to 15, return from boarding school, they climb a chain of 17 bamboo ladders, secured to a sheer cliff face and leading some 2,625 feet up, according to reports. Locals say the ladders — which lead through treacherous terrain in the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province — have been there nearly as long as the village...."

WaPo reports.

More here, with photos and video, in The Guardian:
The photographs were taken by Chen Jie, an award-winning Beijing News photographer... “There is no doubt I was shocked by the scene I saw in front of me,” he wrote.... "It is very dangerous. You have to be 100% careful...If you have any kind of accident, you will fall straight into the abyss.”

"A constant stream of changes and scuffles are roiling Donald J. Trump’s campaign team..."

"... including the abrupt dismissal this week of his national political director. A sense of paranoia is growing among his campaign staff members, including some who have told associates they believe that their Trump Tower offices may be bugged," the NYT reports in "Donald Trump’s Campaign Stumbles as It Tries to Go Big."

My favorite part of this article is:
Asked for comment about his management style, and the current state of his campaign, Mr. Trump declined, criticizing the reporters writing this article. “You two wouldn’t know how to write a good story about me if you tried — dream on,” Mr. Trump said in an email relayed by his spokeswoman, Hope Hicks.
The reporters in question are Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman. Haberman has written 15 or so articles about Trump in the NYT in the last few days. Parker has written 5 or so. So I guess he has a basis for wanting to starve them of Trumpisms.

As long as I'm talking about Trump and dreams, here's Loudon Wainwright III with "I Had a Dream," which is about dreaming that Donald Trump is President:

I ran across that because I was looking for that quote from Donald Trump calling Bernie Sanders "a dream": "I'd love to debate Bernie, he's a dream."

NPR commentator examines Taylor Swift's status as an "Aryan goddess" and finds her extreme "whiteness" unremarkable.

"For the record, Swift has no affiliation with any white supremacist groups... None of this means, or even remotely suggests, that Taylor Swift is into white supremacy...."

"Elderly couple who cut wealthy neighbour's grass verge for 12 years given land in 'squatters' rights' ruling."

Adverse possession.... not in the U.S.... as you can tell by "verge."

"Women used warmer, gentler words in their status updates on Facebook compared to men, who were more likely to swear, express anger and use argumentative language..."

"... a study of 10 million postings released on Wednesday found."
The most commonly cited topics by women included words such as “wonderful,” “happy,” “birthday,” “daughter,” “baby,” “excited” and “thankful.” Women were more likely to discuss family and social life, relying on words that described positive emotions, such as “love,” and intensive adverbs, such as “sooo,” “sooooo,” and “ridiculously,” the study said.

Men more frequently discussed topics related to money or work, and favored words tied to politics, sports, competition and activities, such as shooting guns or playing video games. Men commonly used words such as “freedom,” “liberty,” “win,” “lose,” “battle” and “enemy.”

“The differences were interpreted as reflecting a male tendency toward objects and impersonal topics and a female tendency toward psychological and social processes,” the report said.
Of course, as I've observed enough over the years that some people call this the "Althouse rule": whatever is found to be true of the female will be presented as good. In this case, we get: "a male tendency toward objects and impersonal topics and a female tendency toward psychological and social processes." If the rule were flipped and the researchers felt the need to portray the male side as the good one, they could just as easily have written something like: a male tendency toward abstraction and principle and a female tendency toward emotionalism and pleasing others.

"Taoiseach, is this an Irish prime minister?"

"Biniou... Is that a Breton bagpipe?"

96-year-old man performs the Heimlich maneuver and saves a choking woman's life.

The 96-year-old man was Dr. Henry Heimlich, using his famous method, invented in the 1970s, for the first time.

How racist would a culture need to be to give rise to a TV commercial like this?

I found that through the NYT: "Chinese Detergent Ad Draws Charges of Racism."
[I]n China, where racial stereotypes in popular culture are rampant, the commercial did not seem to provoke a great deal of reaction.

Xu Chunyan, an agent for Qiaobi [laundry detergent] based in the southeastern city of Suzhou, brushed aside the criticism, saying the ad was meant to be provocative. “We did this for some sensational effect,” she said. “If we just show laundry like all the other advertisements, ours will not stand out.”...

“Much of China’s simmering intolerance is color-based,” [wrote Raymond Zhou, a columnist for the English newspaper China Daily]. “It is not an exaggeration to say many of my countrymen have a subconscious adulation of races paler than us. The flip side: We tend to be biased against those darker skinned. It’s outright racism, but on closer examination it’s not totally race based. Many of us even look down on fellow Chinese who have darker skin, especially women.”

"Are we all O.K. with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity — in your capacity — to exercise self-censure, through social norming..."

"... and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?... Is there really no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious?”

Wrote Erika Christakis last fall, reacting to a Yale Intercultural Affairs Committee memo warning students about potentially offensive Halloween costumes. Christakis was an Associate Master of Silliman College— the word "master" has been changed since then — but her comments outraged some students. Protests ensued. And now the news comes that Christakis and her husband, Professor Nicholas Christakis, who'd been the master head of Silliman College, are stepping down from their position.

The NYT reports the news with the headline: "Yale Professor and Wife, Targets of Protests, Resign as College Heads." I'd like to protest the headline. It seems to me that it was the wife's trenchant speech that stirred up this controversy in the first place. The husband became involved in the controversy, and, it's true, the husband is the one whose tweet announcing the resignation appears in the NYT, but I think Ms. Christakis deserves better position than "professor's wife." She is the director of the  Human Nature Lab at Yale, and her statement was premised on her expertise in the psychological development of the young. The husband is a sociologist and physician. I admire them as a couple and would like to see them talked about as equals.

When I blogged about this controversy last fall, I noted the video of Yale students yelling at Mr. Christakis and saying:
“As your position as master, it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in Silliman... You have not done that. By sending out that email, that goes against your position as master. Do you understand that?... Who the fuck hired you?”
This student told Mr. Christakis he should resign because his role as master is “not about creating an intellectual space” but about “creating a home.” At the time, I said:
To be fair, I'd like to know more about what representations Yale made to the students it lured into matriculating. Was a "safe space" promised?... A vibrant "intellectual space" sounds exciting to me, but is that what they were told they'd get if they came to Yale? Maybe some other schools offered a challenging intellectual environment and they passed on it, preferring a caring, nurturing setting. Were they deceived?
Yesterday on this blog, we were talking about Nathan Heller's excellent New Yorker article "Letter from Oberlin/The Big Uneasy/What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus?" The Yale disturbance appeared first on a list of incidences from the past year that showed liberal arts campuses were "roiling with activism that has seemed to shift the meaning of contemporary liberalism without changing its ideals." Heller writes:
Such reports flummoxed many people who had always thought of themselves as devout liberals. Wasn’t free self-expression the whole point of social progressivism? Wasn’t liberal academe a way for ideas, good and bad, to be subjected to enlightened reason? Generations of professors and students imagined the university to be a temple for productive challenge and perpetually questioned certainties. Now, some feared, schools were being reimagined as safe spaces for coddled youths and the self-defined, untested truths that they held dear. Disorientingly, too, none of the disputes followed normal ideological divides: both the activists and their opponents were multicultural, educated, and true of heart. At some point, it seemed, the American left on campus stopped being able to hear itself think.
I read that "true of heart" as sarcasm. Is "true of heart" an expression? I associate it with David Eggers, "A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius," which begins:
First of all:
I am tired.
I am true of heart!

And also:
You are tired.
You are true of heart!

Bernie on Hillary: "Just a tinge of arrogance there."

May 26, 2016

"I’m thinking, Oh, God! I’m cast in one of my least favorite plays of all time, ‘The Crucible,’ by Arthur Miller!"

The laugh-out-loud line (for me) in "Letter from Oberlin/The Big Uneasy/What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus?" a great New Yorker article by Nathan Heller. The line is spoken by Roger Copeland, a professor of theater and dance who's been teaching at Oberlin since the 70s.
In the late fall of 2014, during rehearsals for a play he was coördinating, he spoke sharply to a student: a misfire not of language, he says, but of tone. The student ran out of the room. Copeland says that he wanted to smooth ruffled feathers and keep the production on track, so he agreed to meet with the student and his department chair. At the meeting, the student asked that he leave the room, and she and the department head spoke alone for about half an hour.

Later, the dean of arts and sciences asked to meet with him. He reported complaints that Copeland had created “a hostile and unsafe learning environment,” and that he had “verbally berated” a student—but said that it must be kept confidential which student or incidents were concerned. Then the dean asked Copeland to sign a document acknowledging that a complaint had been lodged against him.

“I’m thinking, Oh, God! I’m cast in one of my least favorite plays of all time, ‘The Crucible,’ by Arthur Miller!” he told me. He gave the dean a list of students he thought could confirm that he hadn’t “berated” anyone. He says the list was brushed aside: “They said, ‘What matters is that the student felt unsafe.’ ” Then he was told that, because gender could have been a factor, the issue was being investigated as a possible Title IX violation. That inquiry was later dropped; by then, Copeland had hired a lawyer. In September, 2015, the original inquiry was still going on, and Copeland said that the dean told him that if he wouldn’t meet without his lawyer he would be brought before the Professional Conduct Review Committee. Copeland and his lawyer welcomed that idea: the committee process would bring some daylight. They never heard back.
Much, much more in the article. Highly recommended. You should be able to read it without a subscription.

Sometimes life looks like YouTube... and you feel you can press "PLAY."


Seen, this morning, and photographed by Meade.

The "straddling bus"... an idea from China.

"The bus, powered in part by solar energy, would run on tracks, carrying up to 1,200 passengers in raised compartments that can glide over the traffic below."
Critics at the time it was first unveiled questioned whether the hovering bus could interact safely with other vehicles. They also argued that the tracks would require relatively straight roads not found in many older urban areas, and that the overhead boarding stations that the bus needed would take up too much space.
I find it disturbing, but maybe it makes more sense than a train... or isn't it actually really a train? It goes on tracks. But it's like a bus, because it runs on the road along with cars. It's a very cool (but disturbing!) variation on a bus, and I would recommend that if they think they could do this in America, they should not call it a bus. Call it a train. Americans don't like the idea of riding on a bus. We like the idea of a train. And I think a lot of Americans would enjoy the way this vehicle makes things very weird for the cars, getting in their space, overwhelming and digesting them. The anti-car people might love this, even as cars are taking over. And we'll have our self-driving cars soon, so the emotional distress of getting overtaken by a straddling bus won't affect the maneuvering of the cars. It will just screw with the heads of the passengers of the cars, who will already be reeling in a new reality.

IN THE COMMENTS: traditionalguy sees what's so unsettling:
There is something Female about that bus engulfing your penis shaped little car. Was it good for you? 
Yes, trains, planes, cars — all the moving vehicles — have been phallic. A vaginal vehicle is beyond all normal experience. Yes, we've ridden vehicles into garages and tunnels, but those things hold still.

The cube...

"I think you solved the mystery of the pyramids."

Should a 6-month-old be water skiing — 686 feet across a lake?

"People don’t realize that it was done properly... It was planned and she was ready for it."

"America can’t eat its way out of this massive cheese problem."

Yes, we have a cheese problem. I'm acknowledging it by quoting that headline I like, but it's in the Washington Post behind its pay way, so you probably won't bother clicking on this link. I'll quote a bit:
[E]ach American would have to eat an extra 3 pounds of cheese this year, on top of the 36 pounds we already consume per capita, to eliminate the big yellow mountain. Even for a society that piles the stuff on sandwiches and rolls it into pizza crusts, that’s a tall order....

... Americans will probably never top the world champion cheese-eaters, who are, of course, the French, with annual per capita consumption of 57 pounds.
So we need to go from 36 to 39 to solve the problem, and the French already do 57. So why can't we eat our way out of this massive cheese problem? We'd need to increase our cheese intake by about 8%. What's that — an extra slice of pizza every 3 weeks? One extra slice on a sandwich once a week? Of all the things we are asked to do to help our country (and to help Wisconsin)....

Here's the Wall Street Journal article from a few days ago: "A Cheese Glut Is Overtaking America/Rise in production comes just as exports are hit by strong dollar; can you eat three pounds more?"

A Washington Post editorial: "Clinton’s inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules."

"While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules. In the middle of the presidential campaign, we urge the FBI to finish its own investigation soon, so all information about this troubling episode will be before the voters."

ADDED: From The Hill: 
The potential for any of this to end Clinton’s White House campaign, while slim, is real. And it clearly fuels Sanders’s hope that a noxious legal cloud will cost Clinton the nomination. What Sanders signals to his voters in the weeks to come could be critical to Clinton’s ability to win them over later. Taking a victory lap now could cost her victory in November.

In the perceptual entropy of the metamodernist, the Sanders revolution has already happened.

From an Atlantic article — "This Is How a Revolution End/The Democratic insurgent’s campaign is losing steam—but his supporters are not ready to give up.s" — by Molly Ball:
The Sanders movement has become impervious to reality. Some have even called into question the nature of reality itself: “Bernie Sanders’ ‘political revolution’ is political only inasmuch as thought is political,” a self-described “metamodernist creative writer” named Seth Abramson wrote in the Huffington Post a few days ago. “By the very nature of things—we might call it perceptual entropy—the impossible, once perceived, enters a chain of causation whose natural conclusion is realization.” By this logic, Abramson reasons, Sanders is actually winning. It’s, like, the Matrix, man, or something....

Clinton, for her part, has taken to pretending Sanders does not exist....
Just stop believing and he'll go away.
Sanders was introduced [in Anaheim] by a blind Filipino delegate and a gay actress who... compared Sanders to a unicorn, because “he seems too good to be true.”...
Ball is pushing the Hillary theory: It can't be true. A blind lady can see that he looks like a unicorn. Why won't everyone just stop?!!

But it's not that kind of year. And that unicorn is getting in position to win California.

IN THE COMMENTS: shiloh said:
ok, Althouse just wanted another excuse to use her Hillary's in trouble tag.
I said:
I made that tag to correspond to my tag for Obama: "Obama's in trouble."

That tag arose from a comic take we had at Meadhouse, which was, in longer form, "Obama's in trouble! We need to help!" I thought that was the tone of the news around Obama, and we were — I am not kidding — riffing on the old TV show "Lassie," where Lassie would bark about someone being in trouble and people would then know to spring into action and help.

But with Hillary, we don't have that instinct: If she's in trouble, then that means we need to help. She just doesn't inspire us that way. Few politicians do.