November 24, 2017

At the Secret-Ingredient Café...


... what do you know?

It's "Black Friday," an occasion to remember to show your appreciation — if any — for the Althouse blog by doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.

"... haunting... audacious... ingenious... brilliant... intricate... masterly... restless... fascinating new... magnificently funny, sucker-punch-tragic... assured... sinister and charming... stunning... fierce and unsettling... powerful..."

Modifiers that appear before the word "novel" in the NYT "100 Notable Books of 2017."

I've only read one of the novels — the "magnificently funny, sucker-punch-tragic" one.

There's a headache-inducing flashing illustration at the link, so if your brain function is anything like mine, be prepared to scroll immediately downward if you click through. Or here's an Amazon link to the book. (Please think of doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

I haven't read any of the non-fiction, though I do have Hillary Clinton's "What Happened" in my Kindle and I've done some searches and blogged some snippets. If I had to pick one to read, it would be "KRAZY/George Herriman, a Life in Black and White" (only $4.99 in Kindle).

"The term 'blivet' for the impossible fork was popularized by Worm Runner's Digest magazine."

"In 1967 Harold Baldwin published there an article, 'Building better blivets,' in which he described the rules for the construction of drawings based on the impossible fork. In December 1968 American optical designer and artist Roger Hayward wrote a humorous submission 'Blivets: Research and Development' for The Worm Runner's Digest in which he presented various drawings based on the blivet. He 'explained' the term as follows: 'The blivet was first discovered in 1892 in Pfulingen, Germany, by a cross-eyed dwarf named Erasmus Wolfgang Blivet.'..."

From the Wikipedia article "Impossible trident," which I'm reading this morning because Bad Lieutenant — commenting in the post about Kim Kardashian's "body shapers" — said "Sausage casings come to mind. I was thinking more along the lines of 'blivet.'"

I was trying to remember how I'd heard that word defined, and I don't think it's what Bad L was thinking of (which comes up in the Urban Dictionary definition: "Ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag").

And I'm sure it wasn't The Impossible Trident, which is this familiar thing that exists only in drawings:

So what was my old, forgotten understanding of "blivet"? Hey! It's in the Oxford English Dictionary:
U.S. slang. (chiefly joc.).

A pseudo-term for something useless, unnecessary, annoying, etc.; hence, = thingamajig n.
The oldest published use is in a slang dictionary in 1967, looking back to WWII:
1967 H. Wentworth & S. B. Flexner Dict. Amer. Slang Suppl. 673/2 Blivit, n., anything unnecessary, confused, or annoying. Lit. defined as ‘10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag’. Orig. W.W. II Army use. The word is seldom heard except when the speaker uses it in order to define it; hence the word is actually a joke.
So Urban Dictionary is more right than Wikipedia, but Wikipedia seems to know it's getting it wrong, since it also has an article for "Worm Runner's Digest," which is identified as (partly) satire:
The W.R.D. published both satirical articles, such as "A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown", and scientific papers, the most famous of which, "Memory transfer through cannibalism in planaria", was a result of McConnell's RNA memory transfer experiments with planarian worms and was later published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry.
It's pure poetry that Kim Kardashian's body shapers led us to "A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown":
Consider now an elemental strip of cloth isolated as a free body in the area of plane B of figure 1. The two tangible forces F1 and F2 are equal and opposite as before, but the force W(weight of dress) is not balanced by an upward force V because there is no cloth above plane B to supply this force. Thus, the algebraic summation of horizontal forces is zero, but the sum of the vertical forces is not zero. Therefore, this elemental strip is not in equilibrium; but it is imperative, for social reason, that this elemental strip be in equilibrium.....

"They're evangelical Christians — but they're nice."

Said a man, commenting in my presence, on the UW campus yesterday. The woman who was with him — his wife, perhaps — calmly instructed him that he should not have said "but." "And" would have been more appropriate.

The learning never ends.

How the women's magazine Marie Claire tried to entice me into giving it my email address.

"She just looks so fake now, the white wigs, the excessive makeup, I can’t picture her getting dirty or riding ATVs"/"I'd watch an episode of that reality show."

Comments on a Tom & Lorenzo blog post about the Marie Claire cover story on Gwen Stefani, which says:
On life with Blake Shelton – recently named People’s Sexiest Man Alive – and how they spend their time on Shelton’s ranch in Oklahoma: “It’s very tribal. Blake has a sister, she comes with her kids. We cook and get muddy and dirty. There are ATV’s. Being a mother of three boys, it’s kind of the perfect place. Everything is real now, whereas before, things didn’t seem so real.”
So the subject is: What is reality and can you picture it? It's possible that her claim of getting to what is real is a con. But certainly all that wiggery and makeup is a con, except that it's real in the context of the cover of a fashion magazine. It's frankly fake.* It's the cover of a magazine, exactly what it is, and not some pretense of the "natural look" (achieved with subtle makeup and hair styled into "windblown" strands or faux "bedhead").

Stefani invites you to picture her getting dirty riding ATVs on a ranch in Oklahoma, but she doesn't give you pictures of that. The pictures would necessarily be posed. You have to use your imagination, and you will be very much grounded in the reality that what you are seeing is your mental picture.


* "Coco Chanel is credited for having coined the phrase 'frankly fake' and igniting a craze for high wattage, oversized baubles set with obviously faux pearls and gems...."

Little things that don't play anymore: Al Franken says he's "a little disappointed" that Chelsea Handler's blouse is not a pajama top.

From last June:

Everything seems so wrong in retrospect.

Would you rather have a wife or be a wife (with "wife" understood as the traditional stay-at-home helpmeet)?

New York Magazine just reprinted "‘I Want a Wife,’ the Timeless ’70s Feminist Manifesto," by Judy (Syfers) Brady:
I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc....

I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up.... I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick....

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life....

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it....

... I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.
There is only one comment up over there:
I asked a man once if he wanted someone who would do all of these things. He replied with an emphatic 'yes', eyes practically glazed over imagining it. Then I said to him, 'me too.'
Since flipping sex roles is the point of the essay, why didn't the commenter think of flipping her question? The famous old essay is a woman's experimenting with the idea that the man's role in a traditional single-earner household is preferable. I say ask the man: Would you like to do all of these things for a woman you love if that woman did all the outside-of-the-household work and brought home an ample income?

And I note that the famous old essay says nothing about yardwork and car maintenance. I searched the article for "car" and found "care" 10 times, but not one "car." There's nothing about mowing the lawn and gardening. But include all that in the flipped question: How would you like to be the stay-at-home partner in a marriage, dealing with all the tasks that are not the income-producing job that is the full responsibility of the other partner? I'll bet a lot of men would say I'd like it (or I'd only like it if you could assure me other people wouldn't look down on me).

4 other observations:

1. The essay has 2 references to mending clothes. Who spends much if any time mending clothes today? In the old days, clothes were (I believe) much more expensive (in relation to income) than they are today, and women had sewing kits and baskets of "mending" (that is, things that needed mending). It wasn't just sewing buttons back on and closing the occasional burst seam. It was darning socks and stitching on patches. Mending is one aspect of traditional wife-work that's just not anything anymore. There's also much less ironing.

2. Shopping for clothes and other household items is much, much easier. Even though, in the old days, women could outfit the kids by sending mail orders to Spiegel or Sears, it's much easier today to find almost everything you need on line. (By the way, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.) The clothes are also, as noted, much cheaper, and almost never in need of ironing. Clothes for children (and adults) are much more casual today and much easier to assemble into appropriate outfits and keep clean and presentable. (We did not wear T- and sweat-shirts and jeans to school in the 1960s.)

3. Let's talk about sex. Both partners — whether they're the single-earner or not — should be saying both "I want a partner who is sensitive to my sexual needs" and "I want a partner who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it." Was the author of the essay saying she'd prefer to have a sexual partner whose consent is a nonissue, who feels obligated to perform whenever called upon and only when called upon? Is she saying, I want a "wife" because I want to be the one who gets to sexually control the other person?

4. The answer to the questions at #3 is probably no. The author is satirizing very selfish men to show how bad unequal roles can be. She doesn't explore the potential for a good division of labor in a single-earner household. I'm not saying she should have had to do that. It's a short, humorous, very memorable essay. But it does manipulate readers to think, I'd better have a career of my own and get out of the home, or I'm an easy victim.


"Mom puts recorder in child’s backpack to catch bullying, now... charged with felony use of device to intercept oral communication and misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor."

November 23, 2017

"Lazy Meade bastard’s turkey."

That's video by Meade and title by Meade (based on the comment by Yancey Ward, here, "That Meade is a lazy bastard").

"She was 17 when I met her, and... we've been married now almost 42 years."

Let's think about Franni Bryson. Here's Al Franken, last June, talking about the love of his life:

What made you think you could be an actor?

"The search for the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan reached a 'critical' point on Wednesday amid fears the 44 crew members..."

"... could be on their last day of oxygen, as the country’s navy said they had found “no trace” of the missing vessel.
“We are continuing with this phase of search and rescue. We are in the critical part, it has reached the seventh day in terms of oxygen, supposing that for seven days it has not had the capacity to go the surface and renew the oxygen. But we are not dismissing the other options, that it could be on the surface.”

More than 4,000 personnel from 12 countries are now scouring the South Atlantic search zone, braving stormy conditions with high winds and waves up to seven metres high....

The British contingent has drawn insults from far-Left figures in the country where the dispute over the Falklands remains contentious. Leaders of the Workers’ Party and of radical Left wing group Quebracho branded British forces “pirates” and occupiers on Twitter, but were widely condemned by Argentine users.

"Malia Obama's Harvard boyfriend revealed to be British student Rory Farquharson who was head boy at Rugby School."

That's very nice. Good luck to the lovely couple.

ADDED: Jeez, how do you pronounce that name? It's pronounced just how it's spelled, Farquharson.

"I changed my mind. I decided not to roast a turkey after all. Here. Here's your turkey."

Said Meade, tossing this on my toast plate:


ADDED: And if you're thankful for the Althouse blog and want to support it, you can buy Epic Turkey bars at through this link — click the arrow to see all 11 flavors — or anything else at Amazon through The Althouse Portal. The frugal Meadhousehold is thankful for your kind support, on special days and normal days.

"Isn't Thanksgiving more deserving of a naysayer? I mean, really, we eat dinner every day."

"Is it that for Thanksgiving--as opposed to Christmas--you are only asked to give thanks, not presents? To give thanks and eat dinner. But you must give thanks and eat dinner in a way that outdoes the thanks-giving and dinner-eating of other days. I do think there should be a Scrooge/Grinch analog. The Thankswithholder. The Ingrate."

That's what I said on this blog's first Thanksgiving, which I'm reading this morning as I scan old posts under the "Thanksgiving" tag, looking for something to say about Thanksgiving. I want to acknowledge the special day, but I prefer normal days. As I said in 2014, on the topic of refraining from doing Thanksgiving (because your family members have other plans, which had been portrayed in the NYT as a virtuous letting-go):
I love when doing nothing — especially when it avoids a lot of effort — amounts to the higher path. Virtue in not acting. That applies to a lot more than Thanksgiving. As for Thanksgiving, I always appreciated it when my sons' father wanted them over. Thanksgiving is the last weekend of the semester, and there follows a lovely, long winter break. Thanksgiving is precisely the weekend when I am not looking for more of a workload. So I was glad to step back and let the ex-husband have the boys over. If I got extra points — kindness credit — for letting go, that was nice, but I was always openly grateful for the relief. I was glad to do nothing. It's Thanksgiving, and as they say — and I truly mean it: Thanks for nothing!
The second Thanksgiving on this blog introduced a character, the Thanksgiving squirrel: "Find some critter to eat." He was back the following year — "Oh, my! There he is! It's the Thanksgiving Squirrel! Keep safe everyone. Boil your meat well" — but then I forgot about him... until just now. Ah! Just think of all the things we've forgotten. No, you can't. You've forgotten. Unless you've got notes somewhere, like the archive of a 13-year-old blog, replete with tags. But if you're like me and you love the negative space of life and you see the joyful meaning of "Thanks for nothing!," then you can be thankful for all the things you've forgotten.

ADDED: In the stories with a Christmas naysayer, the narrative arc is toward yea-saying. The Scrooge/Grinch of Thanksgiving would find the true (i.e., conventional) meaning of Thanksgiving, in its most essential form.

So he'd begin with remarks like mine: It's just dinner. We have dinner every day.

And in the end, it would be...

He HADN'T stopped Thanksgiving from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Gurkey, with his gurkey-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came with out stuffing! It came without pie!"
"It came without cranberries, and I don't know why!"
And he puzzled 3 hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Gurkey thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Thanksgiving," he thought, "is not about food."
"Maybe Thanksgiving... is more of a mood!"

November 22, 2017

At the Buttoned-Up Café...


... you don't have to relax.

Talk about whatever you want in the comments, and please consider supporting this blog by shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal

"Not only did people look the other way, but they went after the women who came forward and accused him."

"And so it doubled down on not only bad behavior but abusive behavior. And then people attacked the victims."

Says Kathleen Sebelius, the former secretary of Health and Human Services and Kansas governor, talking with David Axelrod on his show "The Axe Files."
Sebelius extended her criticism to Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton White House for what she called a strategy of dismissing and besmirching the women who stepped forward—a pattern she said is being repeated today by alleged perpetrators of sexual assault—saying that the criticism of the former first lady and Secretary of State was "absolutely" fair. Sebelius noted that the Clinton Administration's response was being imitated, adding that "you can watch that same pattern repeat, It needs to end. It needs to be over."
It's still too little, too late. Too easy to say this now when it's convenient. Nevertheless, good to hear.

"An international survey has revealed that spirits are often associated with feelings of energy, confidence and sexiness..."

"... but on the flip-side anger and tearfulness – while red wine is the drink most commonly linked to relaxation, but also tiredness."

"Mature women"?

Apparently not!
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week.

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down."

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.