April 22, 2018

"An 11-year-old boy in El Paso died on Friday after getting hit by a pickup truck while his school held a walkout to protest gun violence."

The NYT reports.
The boy, Jonathan Benko, and a group of about 12 to 15 other students from Parkland Middle School in El Paso decided not to participate in the walkout, and instead left the campus to visit a park on the other side of Loop 375, a busy highway that surrounds parts of the city, officials said.

Jonathan, a sixth grader and the last one to try to cross, was struck by a Ford F-150 pickup truck, Officer Darrel Petry, a spokesman for the El Paso Police Department, said on Saturday.

"Associating hate with [Sam] Harris is bizarre. I’ve grown fond of his preternaturally composed, hyper-rational style..."

"... on the Waking Up podcast. But when he talks about [Ezra] Klein, he is not quite himself. He can’t disguise his bewilderment. He sounds like Spock discovering his shorts are on fire. 'Captain, I have detected . . . flames and singed flesh . . . in the vicinity of . . . my perineum.'"

I'm trying to read "Ezra Klein’s Intellectual Demagoguery" by Kyle Smith at The National Review, but I've run into an atrocious men-in-shorts/Star Trek smash up and my heart cries out I don't belong here.

And I've got to say, if you wanted to be a racist — or any kind of evil devil in this world — the best approach would be to adopt a demeanor that is preternaturally composed and hyper-rational.

But I've started this post, so let me soldier on. I've avoided the Sam Harris/Ezra Klein discord for quite a while, but something made me feel that I could catch up by reading Kyle Smith:
[Harris's] tone remains steady...
Ugh... tone...
... but the words are uncharacteristically pointed. During the debate, as Klein keeps delivering lectures to Harris on the history of racist injustice and repeatedly accuses him of having a “blind spot,” you can hear Harris sighing. Does Harris — does any intelligent person — really need to be told that blacks have been victimized by racism? Of course they have been. It’s a different conversation from the one about what we do and don’t know about IQ scores.

Harris, who has to his credit a philosophy degree from Stanford, a Ph.D. from UCLA in cognitive neuroscience, and several well-reviewed books, has described himself as on the left on virtually every issue. How disorienting it must have been to find himself reclassified as a neo-Mengele and besieged by the social-media mob because he spoke with ["Bell Curve" author Charles] Murray....
If Harris is as educated and sophisticated as all that, he shouldn't have been "disorient[ed]." He should have been prepared for Klein's utterly predictable attack. Was Harris so lost in self-love — thinking he's one of the good people — that he didn't see how mean his seeming friends would be if he questioned one of the Good People's Articles of Faith?

What is the largest number of pitches thrown in a single at bat that ended in a home run?

I'm trying to find the answer to that question after last night's walk-off home run by Jesus Aguilar::
Jesus Aguilar's epic at-bat leading off the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday was so long, Brewers manager Craig Counsell almost forgot it began with two strikes.

And it was so good, with Aguilar flicking seven two-strike fouls before crushing the 13th pitch from Marlins reliever Junichi Tazawa for a walk-off home run and a 6-5 Brewers win at Miller Park, that Aguilar could proudly say he'd never had a better at-bat.
I can see that the most pitches for a single at bat is 20:
[Ricky] Gutiérrez holds the modern-day MLB record for seeing the most pitches (20) in a single at bat. On June 26, 1998 at Jacobs Field, Gutiérrez, then a member of the Astros, squared off against Cleveland Indians pitcher Bartolo Colón to open the top of the eighth inning. Colón's first two pitches were strikes, but over the next 17, Gutiérrez took three balls and hit 14 fouls. With the 20th pitch of the at bat, Gutiérrez struck out. This single match up accounted for 18% of the pitches that Colón threw in the game.
But Gutiérrez struck out. Is 13 the record for an at bat that ends in a home run?

In my so-far futile search, I did find this (at Athlon), answering the question "What is the record for most foul balls hit in a single at-bat?"
There are no records kept for foul balls during particular at-bats, but there is one unusual record in this category that is likely to never be broken. Philadelphia outfielder Richie Ashburn, who played from 1948-62, was known for his ability to prolong at-bats by fouling off pitches. During one such at-bat in Philadelphia, he fouled off 14 pitches. One of them struck a woman who was sitting in the stands, breaking her nose. While she was being carried off on a stretcher, she was hit by a second foul ball from Ashburn during the same at-bat.
Now, that is amazing. And I remember Richie Ashburn (because my father and grandfather — in Delaware — watched the Phillies in those days). But it doesn't answer my question other than to suggest that there is no way of knowing.

IN THE COMMENTS: Curious George was able to find an 18-pitch at bat that ended in a home run, here. It's Alex Cora (a Dodger) against Cubs pitcher Matt Clement in 2004. But it's not a walk-off home run, so maybe Aguilar has the record for most pitches in a single at bat that ends in a walk-off home run.

"Twitter reportedly blocked a British pro-life activist with Down Syndrome for more than 24 hours after she posted pro-life pictures."

"Charlotte 'Charlie' Fien rebuked the social media giant with a trenchantly worded tweet once her account was restored Tuesday," reports Life Site.
“Funny how Twitter allows paedophiles and other scum. Funny how Twitter doesn’t like my Pro Life pics and blocks them,” she tweeted....

[Fien gave a speech to United Nations delegates in Geneva last March in which s]he likened the growing genocide of Down’s babies to the Nazi euthanasia programs of the 1930s.

“I am not suffering,” she told delegates. “I am not ill. None of my friends who have Down’s syndrome are suffering either. We live happy lives. We just have an extra chromosome... We are still human beings. We are not monsters. Don’t be afraid of us. … Please don’t try to kill us all off.”

"Dignity and stuff like that" — Ivana Trump gives a great interview.

At Page Six. I'm seeing a lot of highlighting of one thing she said:

But all she said was — when asked — “I’ll tell you something, I don’t think it’s necessary... He has a good life and he has everything. Donald is going to be 74, 73 for the next [election] and maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune." That's such an inconsequential thing to say. It's only highlighted, I think, because a lot of people obsess about what will make Donald Trump go away.

But I note that Ivana's reason why he might not run would have just as well applied to his 2016 decision to run, and it's an idea that Donald Trump himself has expressed many time: He doesn't need it, he could live a very pleasant life without all this. But he did run in 2016, so why wouldn't he run in 2020? You could say, he's already proved he can be elected President. Yeah, but he hasn't yet proved he can be re-elected. And if you take him at his word — a concept that will annoy the hell out of his haters — he didn't do it to magnify himself but because he really thought he knew what the country needs and believed that only he can provide it.

Ivana also talked about her son Don Jr's impending divorce. She sees her boy as the winner and the mother of her grandchildren as the loser:
“Donald Jr. is a good-looking guy. He is successful. He is not going to have a problem to find a girl,” she said. “Maybe Vanessa might have a little problem because she has five kids . . . who is going to date and marry the woman who has five children? Especially since she is young [40] and she might want to have more.”
As for Don Jr's adultery:
“It’s always distressing, because I’ve been there,” said Ivana of the cheating allegations. “But who am I to judge and who knows what was the situation at that moment? It’s a long time ago now, so I think Vanessa knew it all along and maybe she just couldn’t get over the hurt to forgive him. But I honestly don’t know that many men who can keep their zippers up.”
Keep their zippers up is a very old-fashioned expression. It absurdly implies that the pants have a life of their own. And she wants us to be charitable toward her son, that poor man:
“He knows with Vanessa he made a mistake so I would not punish him anymore. He has enough of the problem as it is and five kids to raise.” 
Speaking of adultery, she talks about Melania:
“I feel bad for [Melania] because I know how bad I did feel. It hurts a lot... I divorced Donald immediately [after I discovered the Maples affair] because I told myself, ‘Am I going to live with the person [who] is going to say, ‘I’m going to go and play golf’ [leaving me to] think, ‘Is he really going to go and play golf?’ I cannot do it. I have pride and I have dignity and stuff like that, but so many women, around the world, they live with the men knowing that they are cheating and stuff like that. Everybody handles their situation their own way.”
Dignity and stuff like that...
“[Stormy Daniels] is not playing a fair game... [She is] paid to strip. . . She goes pole dancing or whatever she’s doing.”
I love the insight you can get about the English language from quotes by non-native speakers. Why does "She goes pole dancing" sound odd to me? It implies that it's a recreational activity, like "She goes bowling." As a native speaker, I'd use "does" before "goes," and it's not easy to explain why I know to do that. There's also (above) "He has enough of the problem as it is." Native speakers would say "He has enough of the problems as it is." "The problem" sounds like something specific that we're referring to knowingly, like "that time of the month" or (to dredge up another old-fashioned expression) "I'm going to give him the business."

Ivana is glad she's not First Lady (or so she says):
“Honestly, I prefer that [Melania is] in [the White House rather than me]... “I like to do what I want to do and like to go wherever I want to go with whomever I want to go.... It’s a hard adjustment because she cannot go anywhere. She cannot go shopping, she cannot go out to the theater, she cannot go to restaurants because she has Secret Service and 15 cars in front and 15 in back. So she’s sort of a little bit stuck in the White House — and Donald is busy from morning to night and he’s a workaholic — so I’m not sure how much you really can do.”
And Melanie is not getting any love from the fashion and celebrity magazines:
“I don’t think it’s her fault,” she said. “I think she would do it in a minute if she would be asked. But . . . she doesn’t speak a lot and the magazines [want to interview someone who talks]. You can speak to me for hours and I talk. Some people are more quiet.”
Well, I think the magazines are snubbing her because they hate her husband (or think they need to act like they do), not because she's insufficiently chatty. Maybe Ivana craftily causing us to think  she was the better companion for Trump. She can match his wild banter.

As for Ivana's sex life, it sounds kind of great: “I’m not dating... I have companions. They’re based all around the world.” I guess "dating" implies looking for the next husband. She's already had 4 husband, Donald being the second. I think "companions... based all around the world" is an excellent concept for the unmarried and strong woman.

"Apparently, this is something the public needs to hear in 2016: Please stop drinking hand sanitizer."

"The common disinfectant is typically used on, well, hands. But a recent anecdote from a former Wells Fargo banker in an article in The New York Times, who claimed to drink it as a stress reliever, brought the issue into the national spotlight, the newspaper also reports. And earlier this month, it was parodied on 'Saturday Night Live,' when Emily Blunt's character needs to have her stomach pumped after downing hand sanitizer. Perplexing as it may seem, drinking the alcohol-based sanitizer appears to be a growing problem..." (U.S. News).

What's perplexing?! It's alcohol!

Remember when Kitty Dukakis drank rubbing alcohol? Here's the NYT, November 9, 1989 (a year after Kitty's husband Michael lost the presidential election):
Kitty Dukakis's doctor said today that she was hospitalized after drinking a small amount of rubbing alcohol....

''Kitty has suffered from chemical dependency and struggled with depression for many years,'' the statement said. ''These two problems are often related. Autumn has been a particularly bad season for her.''

Dr. Plotkin said Mrs. Dukakis was now ''completely out of danger,'' and was moved out of intensive care and into a private room today.
A "small amount"... "intensive care"...
The statement did not say how much rubbing alcohol Mrs. Dukakis had consumed. Dr. Plotkin, reached by telephone tonight, declined to elaborate on his statement and refused to say what her motive might have been....

Rubbing alcohol differs in its chemical structure and reactions from ethanol, which is the form of alcohol contained in standard beverages. Rubbing, or isopropyl, alcohol is also contained in after-shave and hand lotions and many other products. Isopropyl alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines, and ingesting three to four ounces of it can cause severe symptoms like bloody vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. A relatively small amount of isopropyl alcohol can produce an extreme hangover. It can also produce changes in the blood similar to those produced by severe diabetes or starvation.
So is hand sanitizer made with ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol? Don't take my word for it, but Wikipedia says Purell is ethyl alcohol and "Purell purposely adds an unpleasant bitter taste to its product to make it undesirable to drink and to discourage ingestion."

"[P]eople choose friends who resemble themselves, right down to the moment-to-moment pattern of blood flow in the brain."

"The tendency toward homophily, toward flocking together with birds of your inner and outer feather, gives rise to a harmonious sense of belonging and shared purpose, to easy laughter and volumes of subtext mutually, wordlessly, joyfully understood. But homophily, researchers said, is also the basis of tribalism, xenophobia and racism, the urge to 'otherize' those who differ from you and your beloved friends in one or more ways... One recent study from the University of Michigan had subjects stand outside on a cold winter day and read a brief story about a hiker who was described as either a 'left-wing, pro-gay-rights Democrat' or a 'right-wing, anti-gay-rights Republican.' When asked whether the hypothetical hiker might feel chilly as well, participants were far more likely to say yes if the protagonist’s political affiliation agreed with their own. But a political adversary — does that person even have skin, let alone a working set of thermal sensors? 'Why must it be the case that we love our own and hate the other?' Nicholas Christakis of Yale University said. 'I have struggled with this, and read and studied a tremendous amount, and I have mostly dispiriting news. It’s awful. Xenophobia and in-group bias go hand-in-hand.... In order to band together, we need a common enemy'...."

From "Friendship’s Dark Side:'We Need a Common Enemy'" by Natalie Angier (NYT).

This is important and useful, but watch out for the idiots who will seek to ban friendship. We're already seeing some efforts in schools to break up "best friends." This is from a column in U.S. News last January, by the psychologis Barbara Greenberg:
I am a huge fan of social inclusion. The phrase best friend is inherently exclusionary... A focus on having best friends certainly indicates there's an unspoken ranking system; and where there is a ranking system, there are problems. I see kids who are never labeled best friends, and sadly, they sit alone at lunch tables and often in their homes while others are with their best friends.

My hope is that if we encourage our kids to broaden their social circles, they will be more inclusive and less judgmental. The word "best" encourages judgment and promotes exclusion....

April 21, 2018

"Members of the Tennessee Air National Guard have been removed from their posts after using a dinosaur puppet in a re-enlistment ceremony."

Contemplating the shrine to the mid-60s.


Detail of the display, from the LBJ library,  under the 1964-1966 sign:


The model on the cover of Playboy looks kind of like Ann Margret, but it's Venita Wolf, She was a minor actress who lived from 1945 to 2014 — not too minor to have a Wikipedia article:
Venita Wolf... appeared in the Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos" (1967) as Yeoman Teresa Ross.

Other than that, she had only a short stint on popular television from 1966 to 1969, including guest roles in The Flying Nun, The Monkees, Gunsmoke and The Beverly Hillbillies, among others. She appeared unbilled in The Oscar (1966) but her only feature film credit was a supporting role in the beach movie Catalina Caper (1967)...
"Arabesque" was a 1966 movie. It was, like "Charade," one of those Hitchcock movies not by Hitchcock but by Stanley Donen.

"The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby" is a Tom Wolfe book from 1965. Here's its Wikipedia article:
Many versions of the book are headed by an incomplete quotation from Kurt Vonnegut: "Verdict: Excellent book by a genius." Vonnegut's full quotation was "Verdict: Excellent book by a genius who will do anything to get attention." 
Speaking of orangeness, there's Tang. And that grand triad of mid-60s fun: the Spirograph, the Frisbee, and Operation.

John Lennon didn't depict himself as Hitler.

I'm reading "Portraits by John Lennon depicting himself as Hitler going for $54K" (NY Post), which speaks of a "crude sketch" — from Lennon's art college days — that "shows Lennon on a podium with his hand raised in a Nazi salute and the words 'Heil John' repeated several times, as if being chanted by an audience below."

I had to look elsewhere to find the image:

That's not John as Hitler. That's John as John, getting the response from the crowd that Hitler got. Perhaps he simply longed for vast and unquestioning admiration.

I see that John wanted Hitler as one of the faces on the Sgt. Pepper album cover.

This NY Post cover seems not to be taking this "sex cult" — with "a perv" and "a slave" — very seriously.

But it caught my attention because I'm having my own trouble understanding what's wrong with a sex cult. People are allowed to enter into voluntary relationships in which they adopt a slave role, aren't they? The crimes are, we're told, sex trafficking and forced labor. The Post article doesn't work terribly hard at framing this as a crime (other than using the word "forced" and "made" (and note that what is "forced" is labor, not sex):
The actress first lured the women into the secret society within Nxivm known as “The Vow” — and cajoled them into providing “collateral” like embarrassing photos and statements to use as blackmail, federal prosecutors allege. She then allegedly groomed the slaves for sex with [Keith] Raniere — ordering them to adhere to extremely restrictive diets, refrain from removing their pubic hair, and to stay celibate, according to court documents. She also forced them to pose naked for photos — “including on one occasion close-up pictures of their vaginas” — which were given to Raniere and also used as collateral, the feds charge. Mack and other slave “masters” allegedly made their slaves participate in “readiness” drills, requiring them to respond to requests at any time of the day or night so they were “seriously sleep-deprived.”...
I'm switching to the Washington Post article:
Raniere is the founder of NXIVM, which bills itself as a self-help and empowerment organization, but is described by authorities as a cultlike group whose members recruited women to be sex slaves, and branded their pubic regions with Raniere’s initials.... Mack, 35, is alleged by prosecutors to have recruited slaves for pay...
I think that means Mack got paid, not that the slaves were paid. Terrible writing.
... forcing the women to have sex with Raniere, and using explicit photos and damaging information to ensure their compliance.... “Mack and other … masters recruited … slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicate purported weaknesses the NVIVM curriculum taught were common in women,” prosecutors said. But “the victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor to the defendants’ benefit,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.
So the women voluntarily joined a female empowerment group and were persuaded to think that having sex with Raniere would eradicate their weakness?

I'm not approving of the Post cover or brushing off the significance of sex crimes. I'd just like to see the law explained. Was fraud charged? Rape?

"For as long as Kim Jong-un has been North Korea’s leader, he has called for the simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic growth with the aim of making the nation a 'great socialist nuclear power.'"

"On Saturday, however, Mr. Kim abruptly announced he was retiring his signature policy, known as byungjin, or 'parallel advance.' The strategy has been at the center of his government’s propaganda and is enshrined in the charter of the governing Workers’ Party. But Mr. Kim said it was now time to adopt a 'new strategic line' and focus the nation’s resources on rebuilding its economy."

So begins "Will Kim Jong-un Trade His Nuclear Arsenal to Rebuild Economy?" (NYT).

Out on Picnic Point today...

... just taking a walk...


... what?


There's this:


At the Pedernales Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And think of buying a little something for yourself through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The photo was taken on April 14th at Pedernales State Park in Texas, where people seem to love walking on those rocks, which could suddenly turn into a killer waterfall, we were warned.

"The problem is that cities have been shocked to discover that thousands of electric scooters have been dropped onto their sidewalks seemingly overnight."

"Often, the companies ignored all the usual avenues of getting city approval to set up shop. And since the scooters are dockless, riders can just grab one, go a few blocks and leave it wherever they want, causing a commotion on sidewalks and scenes of scooters strewn across wheelchair ramps and in doorways. So officials in cities like San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif., have been sending cease-and-desist notices and holding emergency meetings. Some even filed charges against the scooter companies. 'They just appeared,' said Mohammed Nuru, director of the San Francisco Public Works, which has been confiscating the scooters. 'I don’t know who comes up with these ideas or where these people come from.'"

From "Electric Scooters Are Causing Havoc. This Man Is Shrugging It Off" in the NYT. "This man" is Travis VanderZanden, the CEO of the electric scooter company Bird Rides.

We saw lots of Bird Rides scooters in Austin, Texas when we were there last week. It made me feel sorry for B-Cycles, which require a docking station to secure the bikes and human muscle power to make them go. Because the scooters are electrically powered, they are essentially self-locking. To make them go, you use your phone app.

"Michael Cohen... famously said I'll take a bullet for Donald Trump. Well, now that he's looking at prison time, we'll see if he'll take a dick."

That's Bill Maher's homophobic rape joke, which I transcribed from the recording of last night's episode of "Real Time."

Here, you can watch it.

I cannot believe prison rape remains a stock comic subject. Quite aside from the general problem of casual joking about rape, the prison rape topic is not only very stale — I've heard these jokes for 50 years — but it shows enthusiasm for punishing human beings convicted of crimes in a manner that extends beyond the legal sentence. It's laughing at the torture of persons held in captivity. When I hear Maher tell that joke, I picture him standing alongside Lynndie England and Charles Graner, grinning toothily and giving the thumbs-up sign.

I remember when it became clear that Hillary Clinton was going to win the 2016 election.

I'm reading "It’s becoming clear that Trump won’t run in 2020" by Joe Scarborough. I mean, I'm reading the headline and laughing. It's on the most-read list at The Washington Post. It's what people want to read, and isn't that what fake news is all about, giving the people what they want (and getting them to want what you want them to want)?

Okay, now I've read the article for you. Isn't that what blogging is all about? I'll give you what I think is the most substantive paragraph in support of the proposition in the headline:
Now, even Trump’s most steadfast allies are quietly admitting that the Southern District of New York’s investigation poses an existential threat to his future, both politically and legally. Trump allies are telling the president his “fixer” could flip for the feds, just like Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. In Washington and across the country, Republicans are sensing the president is a wounded political figure, leading them to withhold their future support or — in one high-profile case — to challenge the president directly.
Allies are quietly admitting... Republicans are sensing... and Joe Scarborough is picking up the message. It seems to me Trump has faced vicious opposition all along, and he keeps winning in spite of/because of it. I remember believing — back in October 2016 — that Trump would drop out. I had a tag, Trump drops out....

Listening to music through earphones has been the norm for a long time, so why do we still play the television out loud?

I remember the days of annoying music-playing. I was a horrible offender myself when I was a teenager living with my parents. But headphones became the norm, and I wonder if people today even realize how much annoyance we are spared.

And yet TV rages on, filling the sound space of our homes and leaking out onto the neighbors. Where are the headphones? I know you can rig something up, and I have an old Roku with a headphone jack, but it's not the norm.

Here at Meadhouse, we have exactly one television and it's right next to where I work on my desktop computer. All of this is by choice. We could have more TVs, and I have another desktop computer in a distant room and a perfectly good laptop computer and many comfortable rooms where I could blog.

I'm not complaining, but I did have the occasion to wonder aloud this morning about why TVs don't have headphones. This led to a discussion of the Dylan line "You should be made to wear earphones," from the 7th (and last) verse of "Ballad of a Thin Man":

"Over time, the obsession with terrariums faded, but it returned in the 1960s and ’70s..."

"... when the environmental movement—and hippies—burst onto the scene in America and the U.K. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962, revealed the toll of pollution on the environment and laid the groundwork for a movement that coalesced into the establishment of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Terrariums were the physical embodiment of that movement: little shrines encapsulating the fragility of nature. These terrariums were mostly homemade, using a fishbowl or another sort of container that would have otherwise been discarded (a perfect example of what has come to be known as upcycling). Of course, terrariums were commodified, too. A company called Tiara Casa mass-produced a DIY terrarium kit—consisting of a large plastic globe atop a tall white stand—that became a fixture in many 1970s living rooms.... [T]he 1970s terrarium was a political statement."

From "Terrariums Let Anyone Create a 'Perfect World' in Their Own Apartment" (Artsy), which is mostly about a present-day artist who works in the terrarium form.

Ugh! Remember those awful terrariums on a white pedestal? Here, you can buy one at Ebay:

That was emphatically not hippie style or "political statement" style. That was the kind of thing that made us hippies hate the modern look and want to take refuge in everything really old-fashioned looking (e.g., heavy dark oak furniture). The classic hippie terrarium would be made from the old aquarium where you used to try to keep your neon tetras and angelfish from dying.

"The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with..."

"... are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will 'flip.' They use.... ....non-existent 'sources' and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if.... ....it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!"

3 tweets by Trump this morning — here, here, and here.

Who is "the drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael"?