May 23, 2017

"One of the soldiers of the Caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the Crusaders in the city of Manchester."

ISIS claims credit.

ADDED: "[T]he man who blew himself up the previous night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, was 23-year-old Salman Abedi, who was known to British authorities prior to the attack."
There was security at the concert, but the bomber apparently didn't try to get into the venue, instead blowing himself up in an entrance foyer area as concertgoers flooded out of the arena. Prime Minister May said the attacker had deliberately chosen "his time and place to cause maximum carnage" in the young crowd.

Goodbye to Roger Moore.

"Mr. Moore was the oldest Bond ever hired, taking on the role when he was 46. (Sean Connery, who originated the film character and with whom Mr. Moore was constantly compared, was 33.) He also had the longest run in the role, beginning in 1973 with 'Live and Let Die”' and winding up in 1985 with 'A View to a Kill.'"

ADDED: I don't know if I've ever blogged the obituary of a movie star whose movies I have never seen. The last James Bond movie I saw was "Diamonds Are Forever," the last Sean Connery Bond movie, which we went to see as basically a joke. It was 1971, and we thought James Bond was absurdly passé. So I never saw Moore as Bond or any of the other later Bonds. And I've looked over the list of Moore's movies, and I haven't seen a single one. I might have seen him in some late 50s/early 60s TV shows. (He appeared in a couple episodes of "77 Sunset Strip," which I watched, and I might have followed the season of "Maverick" with Beauregard Maverick.) I really feel no connection to Moore, but I'm guessing some of you may care a lot and want a place to talk about him, so here it is.

"Many of the commenters here show a bad trend in commenting. I wasn't awake and attempting to moderate..."

"... but I would like those who participated here to reflect on the dynamic among the commenters and let me know" — I wrote in the comments — "whether you see what I am talking about, whether you unwittingly contributed, whether you got off causing this to happen, or something in between. I would like to see comments that address the substance of the post, and this idea of calling out each other by name and doggedly insisting on always taking another shot and naming somebody who also needs to get the last shot, drives up the quantity of comments but makes them unreadable to anybody who's not among the named. If your name keeps coming up multiple times in comments threads, you are contributing to what I regard as a comments disease, and you need to help stop it or I will see you as doing it intentionally. It's shameful that you let this happen in a post about children being murdered.... If you keep finding yourself in what I call 'back and forth,' you need a new approach to commenting. There are a few people who regularly end up getting named in long back and forth and it's incredibly boring to read. I don't want that here. If you're one of these commenters and you don't understand why this is happening to you, then my advice is to think: substance.... Make your points alongside other people's points. You can respond to what other people say, but respond to the substance. Don't make it personal.... I'm only talking about the way people who are here in the comments name each other and go back and forth in a personal way. Instead of disagreeing with the substance, they frame their comment in the 'Jane, you ignorant slut' format...."

"The Democratic National Committee reported its worst April of fundraising since 2009..."

"... according to Federal Election Commission records released Monday."
[T]he drop in donations coincides with an effort by DNC Chair Tom Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to rally support for the party. The two traveled the country on a "unity tour."
The DNC raised $4.7 million in April. Meanwhile, the RNC raised $9.6 million in April. The RNC has $41 million cash on hand. and the DNC $8.8 million. But Trump's in trouble. Wait for those midterms. The Dems will flip the House and the Senate. That's what I read in the MSM.

Incredible people and amazing monuments.

Trump spoke yesterday at the private residence of Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. Full transcript here. Excerpts:
[T]hank you for that beautiful tour. Melania is still talking about it.... This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God. I’ve been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites, and the generosity of your incredible people. Because it’s all about the people....
The themes are: 1. Love for the human beings, and 2. Respect for what is inanimate, this place. Everyone knows love for human beings come first. Here they are in this beautiful place. And he just came from another beautiful place:
In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including King Salman, who treated us so beautifully and really wants to see great things happen for the world. He really does. I got to know him well, and he really does.
Really, really, really. Love, love, love. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
We are willing to work together. I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen.... It’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope.
Deals. That's his special skill. Making deals. But out there in his business life, he was on one side, trying to close a deal if he could get a good one and also willing to walk away. Here, he's the mediator between 2 sides, not making a deal of his own, and there's nowhere to walk away to, just an endless unmade deal in the same old place. But it's a beautiful, amazing place. Melania is still talking about it.

Those 2 words together like that.

Is it a big deal?
The Obama administration at least twice – in 2011 and then again last year – corrected photo captions and datelines that had read “Jerusalem, Israel” to “Jerusalem,” reflecting longstanding executive branch policy that the city should not be described as being in any country until there is a final status agreement. (Congress recognized the city as Israel’s capital in 1995.)

The George W. Bush administration also routinely captioned photos and listed the city on schedules and in news releases as simply “Jerusalem.”

As a candidate, Trump pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, but since assuming the presidency he has retreated.
Maybe it was just — as with Obama — a mistake.

ADDED: In July 2012, when he was running for office, Mitt Romney said: “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel."
That was a powerful statement, Jennifer Rubin writes, since the Obama administration has "repeatedly put out documents suggesting that Jerusalem isn’t in Israel and has attempted to scrub from the White House Web site the reference to Israel’s capital."

"If you have good luck with your instincts, you might as well trust them. It’s an emotional art form. It’s not an intellectual art form at all."

Said Clint Eastwood, talking about movies and himself, but he could also be talking about politics and Trump.

He also talked about humorlessness in connection with himself and movies...
“A lot of people thought ['Dirty Harry'] was politically incorrect. That was at the beginning of the era that we’re in now, where everybody thinks everyone’s politically correct. We’re killing ourselves by doing that. We’ve lost our sense of humor."
... and that could also be about politics and Trump.

Now, that doesn't mean that if Eastwood is right about his approach to movies that Trump is right about his approach to politics. Movies and politics are different! One man's movie could fail and it doesn't really matter except to him and to whoever invested in his project. We're all invested — whether we chose him or not — in the President of the United States.

To some extent, it's good for a politician to think that because he's had "good luck with [his] instincts" that he "might as well trust them." That seems like a pretty good statement of how Trump blew past 16 GOP rivals and made the final leap over the keeled-over shell of a woman that the Dems put up for a candidate. But to continue with nothing but trusting instincts and good luck when you're actually President — that would be utterly unethical. I'm not saying that is what Trump is doing, just that it better not be what he's doing.

The least relaxing thing about this work chair setup...

It looks like a dentist's office.

Waldkita — forest kindergarten — in Germany.

There are 1,500 of them in Germany.
Most have opened in the last 15 years and are usually located in the city’s parks, with a bare-bones structure serving as a sort of home base, but others... rely on public transportation to shuttle their charges daily out into the wilderness, where they spend most of the day, regardless of weather. Toys, typically disparaged at waldkitas, are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves. A 2003 Ph.D. dissertation by Peter Häfner at Heidelberg University showed that graduates of German forest kindergartens had a “clear advantage” over the graduates of regular kindergartens, performing better in cognitive and physical ability, as well as in creativity and social development.

The American journalist Richard Louv, who coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in his 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods,” is cited often by Robin Hood staff, as is “Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature,” by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown. (“Savage Park,” by Amy Fusselman, is another book that chronicles uninhibited play and was inspired by a visit to an adventure playground in Tokyo.) The pedagogical philosophy of waldkitas, which privileges outdoor play and hands-on environmental learning, comes originally from Scandinavia, but, as one teacher put it to me, “they don’t make a big fuss about it like they do here.” The trend’s non-Teutonic origins are somewhat surprising: There might be nothing “more German” than a state-funded preschool based primarily in a forest....
I strongly support this approach to childhood education, but writing about it this morning — after the Ariana Grande concert, which was full of little girls — a sad thought occurred to me. Children who are outdoors never have to run for narrow exits and get crushed by larger people pressing toward the doorways. If you stay outside, it's easier to get away, and you'll be in the habit of moving with quick agility. And yet, the biggest terrorist attack that targeted children — that I can think of — took place in an outdoor setting — on a 26-acre, forested island.

May 22, 2017

"At least one explosion, which may have been a suicide bombing, thundered through a Manchester concert arena on Monday night just as a performance by the pop star Ariana Grande ended..."

"... in what the police described as a 'terrorist incident.' They said at least 19 people had been killed and 50 wounded as panicked spectators, including adolescents, screamed and fled."

The Washington Post writes an ambiguous headline.

"Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership."

When I opened the tag for that article (hours ago) I assumed that the professor got his membership terminated, but now I see I am wrong.
An Alexandria gym terminated the membership of white nationalist Richard Spencer last week after he was confronted by a Georgetown University professor who recognized him and lambasted him over his alt-right views.
Why was the person who got confronted terminated?

The professor, C. Christine Fair, of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, asked Spencer if he was Richard Spencer, and when he denied it (because he didn't want trouble, she said: "Of course you are, so not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi." And: "I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap... As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable."

Finally, as the professor tells it, the general manager told her she was creating a "hostile environment" at the gym, and "Fair responded that Spencer’s views create a 'hostile environment' for gym employees who are women and people of color." But later:
Fair said she was contacted by a corporate representative for the gym last week, who informed her that Spencer’s membership had been terminated. The gym wanted her to come in to provide more information about the incident.“I’d do it again,” she said of the episode. “I told the fellow, ‘I think we can have a deal here: You don’t let any more Nazis in, and I won’t be making a scene.’ ”

The work of thinking about doing the work.

The "mental load."

ADDED: Here's what I recommend doing if you find yourself in the household "manager" position, putting all the mental effort into noticing what needs to be done and planning ahead. Explain the issue to the other person. Talk about it. It's possible that he's carrying a mental load consisting of things you are not keeping track of. It's something you don't see each other doing. But if it's really true that he's only ever waiting to be asked, use your acquired manager position to assign him a fair share of tasks. Give him more than you keep for yourself to balance out the mental work. It's pretty easy nowadays — isn't it? — to text a list of things he needs to do. If a lot of your work is going about the house noticing and doing little things — such as picking up clutter — that are more work to assign than to do, just give him enough of the big tasks to compensate and equalize. If this managerial assigning approach is objected to, then he wasn't just waiting to be asked, so you've at least punctured that illusion.

"Are we able to stay at home and explore the meaning of the things around us, at least until the world has gotten a little more 'normal' again? "

"Pierre Bayard, a professor and psychoanalyst in Paris... may provide us with some additional requisite know-how on how to not lose face and even be comfortable with staying at home. In How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel, he dissects the reports of the likes of Marco Polo, Jules Verne, Karl May, on minute details of geographies they had never visited, to tell the reader they were wrong. He exposes the alternative reality they unfolded, but he doesn’t blame them: 'Ill-equipped to defend itself against wild animals, inclement weather or illness, the human body is clearly not made for leaving its usual habitat and even less so for traveling to lands far removed from those where God intended us to live.' And: 'We know from Freud and the works of other psychiatrists who have studied various travelers’ syndromes that traveling a long way from home is not only liable to provoke psychiatric problems: it can also drive you mad.'"

From "Between Everywhere and Nowhere/A little review of travel literature," by Bernd Brunner, which I'm reading mostly because it has something about Paul Theroux — "one of the grand doyens of travel writing... His passion for the foreign appears to have been lost, if only partly so" — whose novel "The Mosquito Coast" I started reading after seeing it likened to a movie I loved ("Captain Fantastic").

But I got interested in Bayard, and added How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel to my Kindle. Love the title, and I'm fascinated by the critique of travel, since I love to read and feel prodded to travel, and reading is so much faster and simpler than traveling.*

I had the vague feeling that I'd blogged about that book before, but it was another book by Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, which I blogged about without reading.


* You know me, I'm not up for a challenge.

"Suddenly, male actors who make other kinds of movies are ageing into mid-career obsolescence as quickly as female actors once did."

"The idea that ageism has caught up with their tiresome rock-star behaviour is almost as satisfying as watching Meryl Streep cruise nobly into her late 60s with a full dance card of upcoming productions."

Big game hunter dies...

... when an elephant that had been shot falls on top of him.

"There's an image I really want to do with that Trump orb thing."

I said earlier this morning, after starting the day with a post about the Trump orb and then a post about that statue of Karl Marx — you can see it here — that China gave to Trier, German (Marx's birthplace).

I still haven't taught myself how to photoshop 2 images together, but my complaint about how I was too lazy to learn somehow lit a fire under Rick Lee, and he made this:

Rick Lee is a professional photographer. You can see his website here.

And I know you might ask what that new image is even supposed to mean. Uh... late capitalism!

ADDED: Since Rick is a professional photographer, accepting this image made me think of something I saw yesterday that amused me: "Tired Of Being Asked To Work For Free, This Artist Started Drawing These Client Requests."

"I felt that, in that moment, he was being typically Donald, which is performing and shocking. Almost like Andrew Dice Clay, the stand-up comedian."

"Does he really do the things that he's saying or is that his act? And in Donald's case, I equated it that way. When he said what he said, I'd like to think if I had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to me, I'd have called the FBI."

Billy Bush speaks.

I think a lot of people don't get Trump's statements because they don't understand the humor. But why should they? They don't want to let him off the hook more than they don't want to look like they have no sense of humor.

There's the famous feminist punchline: That's not funny

I think it's important to perceive the humor, so you can understand why he says some of the weird things he does. You don't have to think it's funny or have a taste for that kind of humor, but you should understand that it is humor, unless you have some reason to want to stand on your obtuseness. It could serve some political purpose that you like, perhaps for yourself, perhaps for others. But if you can understand how a statement is humor and you engage in speech that treats it as if it is intended to be taken seriously because you find it useful for other people not to see the humor, you are a propagandist.

"A precedent of this Court should not be treated like a disposable household item—say, a paper plate or napkin — to be used once and then tossed in the trash."

"But that is what the Court does today in its decision regarding North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District: The Court junks a rule adopted in a prior, remarkably similar challenge to this very same congressional district."

Writes Justice Alito in the dissenting opinion to Cooper v. Harris, a 5-3 opinion released today.

About that Orb...

"Here it is..."

A hit of the Orb to MisterBuddwing, in the comments to "The Orb," about that Orb...

Morning light and shadows...

... on Meade's alliums: