February 23, 2018

"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.

"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...


... 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!

What effect does this kind of news coverage have on those who are thinking of becoming the next school shooter?

pathetically weak

I made that screenshot from the front page of The Guardian because that's where I happened to click, but similar shots could be made from many prestigious news sites.

First light at Althouse.


MeTwo: These Gucci models are not carrying their own severed head.

They still have their heads on straight, but are merely carrying a second head, perhaps to replace the original head — why? (we see the operating tables) — or, no, I could be wrong. They could already have had their head replaced and the head they're carrying is the original head.

Here's video of the show. The MeTwo* models appear around 0:50:

My screenshots:

When something is presented in visual form, I prefer to look and come up with my own opinion. Whatever answers exist should be there in the thing that was intended to exist in the world as a visual object. This is like being a constitutional textualist. But maybe you think the intent of those who made the thing matters, in which case, the Washington Post reports on an effort at extracting the intent** of the framers from Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele.

Michele cites an essay, “A Cyborg Manifesto” by Donna Haraway, which, we're told, is "a critique of identity politics and the idea that people must fit within predefined cultural boundaries."
“Limiting fashion to something that only produces business is too easy,” Michele said of the theme, according to Reuters.

So why severed heads? According to Michele, they were about accepting one’s self and “looking after your head and thoughts.”
Who knows what role Michele played in producing the theater of this fashion show? Does he even know the origin of this duplicate-head idea? As he speaks to reporters now, he is part of a larger performance, advertising his business and caring or pretending to care about art and politics and philosophy. In that role, whatever it really is, he steers us to an essay and offers a gentle, sweet interpretation that could be accepted at face value — yes, I should visualize my own head as a lovable baby to be cradled and protected  — or felt as a nudge to see that he lying — the models are carrying heads that are not attached to their bodies and look at those operating tables... what do you think will happen there or has it already happened? Get out!

Here's the Wikipedia article on "A Cyborg Manifesto." Excerpt:
Haraway calls for a revision of the concept of gender, moving away from Western patriarchal essentialism and toward "the utopian dream of the hope for a monstrous world without gender," stating that "Cyborgs might consider more seriously the partial, fluid, sometimes aspect of sex and sexual embodiment. Gender might not be global identity after all, even if it has profound historical breadth and depth."

Haraway also calls for a reconstruction of identity, no longer dictated by naturalism and taxonomy but instead by affinity, wherein individuals can construct their own groups by choice. In this way, groups may construct a "post-modernist identity out of otherness, difference, and specificity" as a way to counter Western traditions of exclusive identification.

* My coinage.

** WaPo's headline is "Gucci models walk the runway — with replica severed heads of themselves," which presumes the head the model carries was originally attached to this model — who now has a replacement head — or to this model's identical twin. But it could represent what it obviously is, a replica head which was never severed from anything at all. We could see it as nothing but a 3-D selfie! It's not dripping blood, like the Trump mask Kathy Griffin grimly displayed.

February 21, 2018

At the Wednesday Night Cafe...

... you can say all your Wednesday things.

Who are the good trolls?

The results from yesterday's poll after 505 responses:

Discuss these results any way you like. You can still go back and respond to the poll. I deliberately avoided expressing an opinion in the post or the comments, but you can figure out something of my opinion from the way I composed the answers. I'm particularly interested in thinking about this subject in light of the hand-wringing over Russians trolling the 2016 election. I believe the fear of trolls is dangerous to a culture of freedom of speech, and I'd like to welcome people all over the world to participate in the political debate in America, just as I want Americans to be able to talk to people in other countries about what we think about their politics. We need to build up our vigor, not become more dependent on the government to filter out things that might confuse us.

Not feeling the Burns.

"Michael Screnock, Rebecca Dallet advance in SCOWIS primary."
Tim Burns, who took the unusual approach of running as a Democrat and taking partisan stands on issues, was eliminated.