November 20, 2017

At the Fair Trade Café...

53289770194__1E516C6F-8888-4276-A21B-056C620F7849

... you can talk all night.

(And please think of doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. It's much appreciated!)

"The New York Times said on Monday that it was suspending Glenn Thrush, one of its most prominent reporters..."

"... after he was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior," the NYT reports.
The move came after the website Vox published a report containing allegations from four female journalists that Mr. Thrush, who was hired by The Times in January to cover the Trump administration, had acted inappropriately toward them. Mr. Thrush was a star reporter at Politico before joining The Times....

The women cited in the Vox article described Mr. Thrush’s behavior as including unwanted kissing and touching. Three of the women were not identified by name. The fourth, Laura McGann, wrote the article, which was presented in the first person.....
ADDED: Excerpt from the Vox piece (by Laura McGann):
I started to think maybe I shouldn’t be in journalism if I couldn’t hang in a tough newsroom. I found myself on edge, nervous and anxious all the time. I started to believe I had brought this all on myself.

In the course of reporting this story, I was told by a male reporter who’d worked at Politico at the time that my instinct was right. He said that the day after that night at the bar, Thrush told him about the incident, except with the roles reversed. I had come onto him, the reporter said Thrush told him, and he had gently shut it down....

The source said that Thrush frequently told versions of this story with different young women as the subject. He would talk up a night out drinking with a young attractive woman, usually a journalist. Then he’d claim that she came onto him. In his version of these stories, Thrush was the responsible grown-up who made sure nothing happened....

"Eight women say Charlie Rose sexually harassed them — with nudity, groping and lewd calls."

WaPo reports on the inner workings of Charlie Rose Inc., where if you didn't like the boss's behavior, your only recourse was the executive producer Yvette Vega:
Multiple women said they had at first been reassured by the presence of Vega, Rose’s executive producer, who has worked with him for decades. Two women who spoke to The Post said they repeatedly reported Rose’s inappropriate sexual behavior to Vega.
But:
“I explained how he inappropriately spoke to me during those times,” Godfrey-Ryan said. “She would just shrug and just say, ‘That’s just Charlie being Charlie.’"...

“I should have stood up for them,” said Vega, 52, who has worked with Rose since the show was created in 1991. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”...
It's a very long article, and I won't undertake to describe Rose's alleged modus operandi, using his small (15-person) operation to bring vulnerable women into his orbit and to isolate them in his remote beach house where Rose (we're told) used the mating technique of walking around naked.

PBS and Bloomberg LP have distanced themselves from Charlie Rose Inc., which is a separate entity. They tell the Post they knew nothing, nothing. And they've suspended distribution of the show.

The most up-voted comment at WaPo is: "Is Trump the only man in the world that is not being held accountable?"

A liberal icon crashes to the ground and what can a liberal do but scream at the sky — Trump!!?

Trump, hitting back at Jeff Flake, calls him "Flake(y)."

Here's the tweet, which is funny for a few reasons:
Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls) was caught (purposely) on “mike” saying bad things about your favorite President. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is “toast.”
The funniest thing about it to me is Trump calling himself "your favorite President." It's absolutely accurate, because he is our only President. I mean, you might try to write a screwball comedy — in the manner of "My Favorite Wife" — where some strange occurrence causes there to be 2 Presidents, but even if you think Hillary was cheated out of the presidency, there's no way she is the President. And if you try to say, but my favorite President is Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt, I'm going to say it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

There's also some rock solid content. Flake has decided not to expose himself to an actual election process in Arizona, where a GOP incumbent should be able to win, and instead — with no judgment of the electorate to worry about — he's just speaking out against Trump. Flake's speaking has struck me as vain and attention-seeking, and the love he's getting from liberals would never translate into support in an actual political contest.

The "(purposely)" is funny, because who doesn't believe that Flake meant for his remark to be heard? Making it seem secret was a way to amplify it. That was my opinion and my favorite President agreed. Good. I also like that he used the "mike" spelling and not "mic." (Maybe Laurence Tribe will apply his massive brain to the question whether "mike" is a "distinctly Jewish" spelling.)

"Toast" is funny because "toast" popped up in Flake's open mike remark "If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast." So Trump is just flipping the insult back. Reminds me of "Puppet? No Puppet. You’re the Puppet" at that debate with Hillary:



It is childish, but Trump doesn't have time for longer statements.

And on a deeper, emotional level, "toast" is a warm, delicious word. Toast! We're toast! I love toast! Mmmm, toast! A toast to toast!

But what I really came here to opine about is the name-calling: Flake(y). Should a President be sticking names on everyone? I don't know but Trump doesn't do it to everyone. Only to those who hit him with a low blow. It is undignified, and I prefer the idea of going high when they go low, but that's not Trump. That's not what our favorite President does. (That's the name he's gotten me to start using for him. It's sticky.)

So let's move on to the question whether Flake(y) is a good name for Jeff Flake. "Flake" was already a funny name — already connoting flakiness — and Flake has lived and achieved with it. How can you make it more of an insult by adding "y"? Is it worse to be "flaky" than to be a "flake"? I think it's worse to be a flake, since it suggests it's the entirety of what you are as opposed to merely one of your attributes. (Reading the definition of "flaky/flakey" in the OED, I see that President Reagan called Qaddafi "flaky.")

But when I think about "Flakey," my first association is Flakey Foont!
Do you know what I'm talking about? Are you not up on Mr. Natural comics?
Mr. Natural has strange, magical powers and possesses cosmic insight; but he is also moody, cynical, self-pitying, and suffers from various strange sexual obsessions. He is endlessly being accosted by would-be disciples seeking the truth (among them such long-running Crumb characters as Flakey Foont and Shuman the Human). He typically regards them with amused condescension and a certain grudging affection, although his patience often wears thin and he takes sadistic pleasure in making them feel like idiots. While he is typically very cool and in control, he sometimes ends up in humiliating predicaments like languishing for years in a mental institution.
The really weird thing is thinking of Trump as Mr. Natural!

Let's talk about Trump's shoplifting-in-China tweets.

You've probably seen these already:



I have 3 responses, in this order:

1. The President should execute the duties of his office to the best of his abilities and not pick and choose depending on who's expressing gratitude.

2. These are statements made about what he did and how he thinks about it, and they might be honest and straightforward. But they might be twists of the truth or comedy, in which case we need to ask whether a President should be speaking like this, fooling around with the idea of treating the duties of his office as the distribution of favors and singling out individuals as undeserving of the benefits he has the power to provide.

3. We can try to understand the value of the President's tweet talk (even if we disapprove of it). At this level the question is why would he think there was some political advantage in saying these things? Here, we might say that he's baiting his antagonists to reinforce what LaVar Ball said and claim that shoplifting isn't a big deal. Trump might see value in that as it promotes his reputation for law and order and makes the other side feel like the forces of chaos. Also, Trump says nothing about race but creates an opportunity for his antagonists to racialize the controvery, which might benefit him.

Your turn.

ADDED: Remember Michael P. Fay, the American who was sentenced to 4 lashes on his bare buttocks after he pleaded guilty to vandalism in Singapore? (Fay had spray painted some cars.)  Who was President then and why wasn't he spared the painful, humiliating corporal punishment?
In Washington, President Clinton expressed disappointment with Singapore's decision, saying, "I think it was a mistake, as I said before, not only because of the nature of the punishment related to the crime but because of the questions that were raised about whether the young man was in fact guilty and involuntarily confessed."
To be fair, Singapore reduced the number of lashes from 6 to 4 as "a gesture of good will" to the American President. 

Thanks for the legal advice, CNN.

"Minnesota statutes state that 'intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks' is not considered criminal sexual conduct."

Extracted from "Woman says Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010." ("According to [Lindsay] Menz, she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010, almost two years after Franken was elected to the Senate. Her father's small business was sponsoring a local radio booth... When Franken walked in... her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken 'pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,' Menz said. 'It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek. It wasn't around my waist. It wasn't around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt... I was like, oh my God, what's happening.'")

Oregon leads the way in the protection of minors from sexual abuse: Teachers who think a student may be having sex must report it to the police.

WaPo reports.
According to Oregon law, anyone under 18 years old cannot legally give consent, meaning all sexual activity between minors is considered sexual abuse. This policy, [Salem-Keizer school] district officials say, stems from Oregon’s mandatory reporting and child abuse laws....

The subject came up at a training session for teachers and staff in the school district because “we felt like we hadn’t made it clear enough,” as Superintendent Christy Perry told the Statesman Journal....

Some pointed out that this leaves high school students without anyone to speak with about sex.

“You can’t have a conversation about safe sex without talking about sex,” Deborah Carnaghi, a program coordinator for Child Protective Services in Oregon’s Department of Human Services, told the Statesman Journal. Others pointed out that sexual activity among high school students is common....
Then abuse is common (abuse as defined in the state's criminal law). And why are you instructing students on how to be safe during abuse? Time to get back to abstinence only as the safe-sex training?

Here's a  quote from an 11th-grade girl: “I lose the ability to have a private conversation with a trusted adult who works for the district, about something personal to me. Talking about sexual activity between teachers and students should be confidential.” Ambiguity alert.

The people of Oregon need to think and talk about what kinds of laws they want. They need to notice the hypocrisy and the contradictions. Should teenagers under 18 be having sexual intercourse or not? If the answer is no, no means no, right?

The problem with calling Roy Moore a pedophile.

Rachel Hope Cleves (a history professor) and Nicholas L. Syrett (a gender studies professor) write in the Washington Post that it's important to set the label "pedophile" aside and confine it to its technically correct meaning ("recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger)"), because...
In the midst of a storm of allegations against powerful men in the world of politics and entertainment, we should see Moore not as an outlier but as another man who allegedly used his position to focus on those who he believed were the most vulnerable.
There are a lot of comments on this op-ed, and many of the most-liked ones don't get the point, and seem to insist on saying "pedophile" because they hate what Moore allegedly did and want to use a strong word to express that and they're not interested in sparing Moore on a technicality.  There are also many other commenters telling these people they didn't understand the article or just read the headline — "Roy Moore is not a pedophile" — and jumped into the comments section.

The authors, Cleves and Syrett, are not out to go easy on Moore. They're interested in going big attacking men in general. Moore may be an extreme case, going after young teenagers, but he's in a set of men that can't be isolated and ostracized as easily as pedophiles. Putting him in the category of men who pursue sex by exploiting a power differential integrates him with men we have not exiled from decent society, but it also creates potential for influencing the bad behavior of many more men. And that's what Cleves and Syrett are eager to do.

I got hit by a drone the other day.

I was walking in my very quiet neighborhood, wearing a long wool coat, listening to an audiobook in my usual there-but-also-somewhere-else manner, and suddenly I'm hit in the leg with what I thought was a rock. Is someone throwing a rock at me? I turn and see a rather pathetic man holding a controller of some sort in his two hands and glance down at the ground and see the stupid drone toy of his that hit me. I give him a look that must have expressed my opinion that this is the dumbest loser I have had to interact with in a long time, said nothing, and moved on. I was glad nobody threw a rock at me and glad I didn't express my sense of relief but only my opinion of his loserhood when I had to look at him.

Also, recently: We were walking down a quiet residential street near where we live, and suddenly BANG! — a big car crash. On a street with practically zero traffic, a black car made a left turn into the path of a red car going straight. No one seemed to be hurt, but the black car spun around and had its whole passenger's side crushed in. I realized how situationally unaware I am when I'm walking. I had my eyes open and looking straight in the direction where it happened, but I don't feel that I saw it. The sound of the crash got my attention, and I looked at the aftermath and deduced what happened, but I really did not see the hit. I think I get caught up in my thoughts and I'm somehow blind without being aware of how blind I am.

"One wonders if the boy did not know what would happen. I do not know about you, but in my youth I have never been in situations like this."

"Never. I was always aware of what could happen. When you are in somebody’s bedroom, you have to be aware of where that can lead to. That’s why it does not sound very credible to me. It seems to me that Spacey has been attacked unnecessarily.... People know exactly what's going on [about Weinstein]... And they play along. Afterwards, they feel embarrassed or disliked. And then they turn it around and say: 'I was attacked, I was surprised'. But if everything went well, and if it had given them a great career, they would not talk about it. I hate rape. I hate attacks. I hate sexual situations that are forced on someone. But in many cases one looks at the circumstances and thinks that the person who is considered a victim is merely disappointed."

Said Morrissey.

ADDED: These remarks made me wonder how smart Morrissey is. My guess was that he's very smart, and he likes to look at things from different points of view and talk about what he sees, and that can get you into trouble, at least if your smartness doesn't lead you to see what you're going to get if you waft miscellaneous ideas where people expect you to say only one thing and you decide to protect yourself by keeping quiet.

I read the "Early life" section of Morrissey's Wikipedia page, and see that his parents were "working-class Irish Catholics," and he "failed his 11-plus exam" after elementary school "and proceeded to St. Mary's Technical Modern School, an experience that he found unpleasant." He was good at sports but still "an unpopular loner." He said his education was "evil and brutal," and "All I learnt was to have no self-esteem and to feel ashamed without knowing why." He did read a lot, we're told, including feminist literature and Oscar Wilde. And he turned to music — very successfully — as the solution.

Even here, music was a solution. Morrissey could have saved these ideas for song lyrics, which can be enigmatic, ambiguous, and seeming to arise from a character the singer embodies.

Gone at last.

November 19, 2017

"I mean, have you ever really looked at a woman naked? Really objectively looked at a woman’s body?"

"What do you see? A fat boy with overdeveloped breasts, that’s what you see. Basically, a badly made youth. A child who’s somehow managed to shoot up to adult height without growing any muscle – a chronic anaemic who haemorrhages regularly thirteen times a year. What do you expect to come out of them? Wit?"/"If what you say is true, then how can it be that I so easily came to think of her as my intellectual equal?"/"Hallucination. The mesmerising power of a skirt. Or perhaps the two of you really have become equals. Perhaps the capillary power of her vacuity has actually sucked your brains out and brought her up and you down to the same moronic level."

That's August Strindberg, as delightfully translated by David Greig, in the play "Creditors," a production of which we saw this afternoon. A snapshot of the set:

IMG_1643

The last performance is less than 2 hours from now, so if you're nearby, consider snapping up one of the few tickets left and running out to Spring Green.

Laurence Tribe calls Trump's misspelling of "Frankenstein" "at least subconsciously antisemitic."

Trump tweeted:

Lawprof Laurence Tribe tweeted:

All right, this has us rereading and highlighting the hilarious, mean, and thought-provoking things Trump crammed into his little tweet. He's got the memorable, powerful nickname for Al Franken, connecting him to the famous monster. Yeah, it's obvious and Franken himself has done it...
... but it's lodged in our head now. And Trump successfully raised an issue that I hadn't thought of, that the photographer would have taken bursts of images and the one we are seeing is the one Franken himself chose to give to Leeann Tweeden to inform her of the prank, so he must have thought he looked rather impishly cute. What about the other pictures?

But let's concentrate on the misspelling. Why would Trump do that? Laurence Tribe is presumably serious when he says he wants us to believe that he thinks Trump thought the "Frankenstien" spelling would convey anti-Semitism. What other reason is there to spell the word wrong? Well, first, there's a simple mistake, perhaps influenced by the "i before e" rule.

Tribe — who must know about Occam's Razor — tries to exclude the simple mistake by stating that "Trump had to override autocorrect," but I opened a compose window in Twitter and typed "Frankenstien" and it did not autocorrect. I tried another "i before e" mistake and wrote "recieve" and it autocorrected, so I know how Twitter autocorrect works, and it doesn't reject "Frankenstien."

So Tribe just sounds ridiculously conspiracy-theory-oriented. Why didn't he test autocorrect before making that assertion? I'm so careful about things like that that I feel the need to say right now that maybe Tribe's Twitter experience, perhaps in a different browser, works differently from mine. And I'm not spreading scurrilous hate by calling somebody anti-Semitic.

I'm so embarrassed for Tribe, dipping into this kind of crap. I wonder where his hands go when he's typing out tweets that he chooses not to publish to the world? This is what he thinks is impishly cute or brilliantly smart or importantly alarming??

And the dumbest part of it is, who thinks of "Frankenstien" as "distinctively Jewish" in a way that "Frankenstein" is not? There are many Jewish names that end in "-stein." If anything, the "-stein" ending might cause me to think Jewish. But of all the names that end in "-stein," the last one I'd think of as Jewish is "Frankenstein." Who thinks of the Frankenstein monster as Jewish? Here's the full text of Mary Shelley's novel, and there isn't one reference to Jews or Jewishiness or Judaism.

But if the subject is on your mind, perhaps you'd get the idea that misspelling the familiar name would be a way to make it seem Jewish, but who thinks about "-stien" as being Jewish? I've never even noticed that name before and have no association with it. I don't think it's familiar enough for Trump to have thought the old e-i switcheroo would trigger something anti-Semitic in his readers. I had to look up the name, and I'm still not seeing it as Jewish. Ancestry.com calls it a "Norwegian: habitational name from any of numerous farmsteads." I looked up my own last name on the same website and got "Americanized form of German and Jewish Althaus," which surprised me, as that was the first time in my life I'd seen the name called Jewish. But that shows that Ancestry.com doesn't hold back from calling a name Jewish.

I can't believe the badness of that Laurence Tribe tweet. Maybe the idea is something like: Trump's bad tweets work for him. Bad is good. You've got to tweet badly.



You're putting me on.

ADDED: If anything here seems anti-Semitic it's jumping to call something "distinctively Jewish."

Speaking of hunting....

Trump and the elephants — what just happened?

So you've probably heard that Trump made an announcement that had to do with killing elephants, people got upset — because people love elephants — and then Trump took it back — kind of.

I see that even Scott Adams — who revels in explaining why whatever Trump does is some genius "master persuader" move — thought Trump blundered ridiculously. Even though (if?) Trump's plan made good sense at the real-world factual level, it was horrible messaging at the emotional level, which is what matters in politics, and he shouldn't have done it. In that view, Trump's quick turnaround was a correction, abandoning rational policy to realign with emotional politics.

But let's undertake the thought experiment: What if it was a good idea to temporarily waft the idea of ending the ban on importing elephant trophies? I've been toying with a few thoughts on the subject.

No elephants actually died. The idea was out there and then squelched, just something to think about. What most people seemed to think about was how great elephants are. We love elephants. They're just about the favorite animal on earth. I mean, what's the competition? Dogs? Giraffes? Human beings? Pandas? We just got all balled up in our warm, enthusiastic love for the gigantic beasts with the big ears and the long trunks.

It's an almost childlike response. Didn't you draw elephants when you were a child? Every drawing of Noah's Ark has an elephant. We've been trying to draw elephants for a long time:
An elephant is the first thing the author tries to draw in "The Little Prince":
We have many soft buttons about elephants. The first thing I saw this morning on Facebook was an old photograph of a little girl sitting on a stool next to an elephant. The elephant is also seated (I guess because getting elephants to sit down was a standard circus trick imposed on captive elephants), and the girl has her arm as far as she can get it around the elephant. The elephant doesn't have its arm around the little girl because elephants don't have arms, and it's unlikely that the elephant loves the little girl. But we see love, because the love is in our heart.

But did you know that just in India, 100 to 300 human beings are killed by elephants every year? I'm reading that at the World Wildlife Fund website:
Elephant-human conflict poses a grave threat to their [that is, the elephants'] continued existence.... When elephants and humans interact, there is conflict from crop raiding, injuries and deaths to humans caused by elephants, and elephants being killed by humans for reasons other than ivory and habitat degradation. Elephants cause damage amounting from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. Every year, 100 humans (in some years it may be 300 people) and 40-50 elephants are killed during crop raiding in India....
We have no wild elephants in America, and I notice the "Pleistocene re-wilding" plan (blogged here in 2005) didn't get too far. We don't have elephants trampling cropland and little girls in Nebraska. For us, elephants are like unicorns. They live in Imaginationland. If Trump kills them, he kills out dreams.

Do you think he didn't know that? I'm going to suggest that he knew he could make elephants fill our brain. They are huge, not just in real life, but in our mind. You won't be able to ignore the elephant in the room that is your head space, and Trump put him there. The question is what were you not thinking about when you were thinking about the elephant? It's the most perfect distraction ever. It was so distracting that you didn't even notice what was that thing about Trump that we'd have been harping on if it weren't for the SAVE THE ELEPHANT!!! I think it was Roy Moore molested children, therefore Trump should be impeached.

Yes, we were thinking about big unruly penises, but a human penis looks like nothing compared to the elephant's trunk. Look at that thing! It's huge! It's prehensile!

By the way, "trunk" sounds like "Trump." And elephants "trumpet." Don't you hear them in your head now? Trump and elephants begin to merge in that deep part of your psyche that makes no sense. Suddenly, you love Trump. You were loving elephants, and Trump is saving the elephants now. All is good, the arc of elephant-saving bends toward justice.

Once the Trump and trumpet wordplay had us screwing around with blowing Trump's crazy hair:
But now Trump is trumpeting like an elephant...



... an elephant that in real life might like to trample you to death, but an elephant that exists in your mind as the lovable creature that Trump saved.

"I was wrong – Althouse obviously had her finger on the pulse of America when she started posting about Wankgate 24/7."

"I was wrong – Althouse obviously had her finger on the pulse of America when she started posting about Wankgate 24/7. It really has become the defining sociocultural (and political) event of 2017," writes Paco Wové in last night's Worn-Out Laugh Café.

Let me be the first to say, Time Magazine's 2017 Man of the Year should be the little man — the penis.

ADDED: I see that Time is currently running a poll on the subject. Current results here. Vying for the top position — each with only 7% — are Carmen Yulín Cruz, Taylor Swift, and (the nonperson who I think will actually win) #MeToo.

What about Trump? He gets 6%. Wasn't he Man of the Year last year? You can't just give it to the President every year. You might think a Trump antagonist would win, but the main 2 they've put on the list — James Comey and Robert Mueller — are lagging at 2% and 4%.

I'm okay with #MeToo getting the honor, even though I'd like to see something more precisely focused on all the women (and men) who spoke out about sexual abuse. The fact that there's a hashtag mixes up the bigger story with the existence of social media. (If you want to give the honor to social media, give it to Twitter.) And #MeToo has some problems with it, chiefly #MeToo what? Not everyone who uses the tag really belongs in the category that ought to be defined as the problem. There's a real danger that the category will be diluted to the point where people will stop caring about victims of abuse and start worrying about the moral panic and the urge to delete flawed human beings from the midst of the supposedly good people.

"As soon as Broaddrick’s story starts to impose on today’s tribal loyalties, and possibly impugn Hillary, it loses credibility."

"Suddenly, Broaddrick’s account is 'wildly unlikely.' Broaddrick was obviously misreading Hillary’s remark, [Michelle] Goldberg speculates [in her NYT column]. 'Most reporting about the Clinton marriage shows Bill going to great lengths to hide his betrayals.' On the question of Bill Clinton’s decades-long history of sexual abuse, Goldberg implies, Hillary Clinton had absolutely no idea what was going on. And yet this is what Goldberg also believes about Hillary Clinton: that she’s an intelligent, shrewd political operator; a woman who pioneered the notion of a First Lady as co-president; someone intimately involved in every aspect of her husband’s career and campaigns; supremely attuned to what her enemies could use against her; a wife whose televised defense of her husband’s account of his sexual past in the primary season saved his career; a master of detail and strategy; worldly because she had to be. And yet at the same time, Goldberg believes that Hillary knew nothing about her political partner’s history of abusing, harassing, and exploiting women, was for decades a staggering naïf, and not an equal partner, was kept out of the information loop all along, and shocked, shocked, every time one of these bizarre accusations emerged...."

Writes Andrew Sullivan at New York Magazine.

November 18, 2017

At the Worn-Out Laugh Café...

P1110953

... you can talk about anything you like.

The photo was taken a year ago today.

The usual reminder: Your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal helps keep this blog going. It encourages the blogger (if that's something you want to do).

So I guess all the Freudian analysis and mockery of men and their planes is true.

A Navy pilot drew a giant penis in the sky.


Thanks for dispelling the age-old mystery.

"What is 'Top Gun'? You think it's a story about a bunch of fighter pilots?"/"It's about a bunch of guys waving their dicks around?"

What the new editor of Vanity Fair — Radhika Jones — wore to her first meeting with staff.

A navy blue dress that Women's Wear Daily described as "strewn with zippers" and tights "covered with illustrated, cartoon foxes."

WWD retreats into quoting Anna Wintour (who is not only the editor of Vogue editor but also the artistic Director of Condé Nast of which Vanity Fair is a part). Wintour only made a gentle gibe, "I’m not sure if I should include a new pair of tights in her welcome basket."

I'm more interested in interpreting the metaphors. What can you say about a navy blue dress strewn with zippers? It says women have the power now. The zipper's strongest association is with the fly on a man's pants. We might say a man with uncontrolled sexual compulsions has a "zipper problem," as in "Jackie Collins Knew Bill Clinton Had A ‘Zipper Problem’" (HuffPo, 2011)("I remember, before Clinton was president, I was sitting at a dinner in Beverly Hills and one of his aides was there and told me that he was definitely going to be president, except for one problem: the zipper problem.... They knew way before he was elected!").

And then a navy blue dress... I think of Monica Lewinsky.



That dress was strewn with Bill Clinton's genetic material.

Therefore I interpret Radhika Jones's dress as wry political commentary: the end of the political subjugation of women, the end of silencing — zip your lip, not mine — and a new era of female domination.

Now, let's consider the item of clothing that was even more attention-getting and metaphor-pushing than a blue dress strewn with zippers: tights covered in foxes.

What do foxes mean? When the political website FiveThirtyEight chose a fox as its corporate logo, Nate Silver quoted the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

So there were many zippers on the dress and many foxes on the tights, which is a message of multiplicity already. But each of the many foxes is also a symbol of knowing many things.

There is, of course, the idea of women as "foxes," which was already laughably sexist when Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin played Festrunk Brothers in 1978 (and Garrett Morris had to explain that you can't talk about American women like that):



I'd say the foxes on Radhika Jones's tights represent a reclaiming of an old diminishment, amplified and multiplied, and complicated by zippers. Foxes run around, finding out about everything, uncovering what is hidden, and zippers enclose while suggesting a sudden, perhaps shocking disclosure. That's all very apt as a message about journalism, and it's an exciting way to say that a woman is now in charge.

ADDED: Also consider that the top-rated meaning for "zipper" at Urban Dictionary is: "A death trap for your dick."

And I created a "zippers" tag and went back and applied it to old posts. I was amused by how many times over the years I've talked about the Brian Regan comedy bit about Zipper, the bad dolphin (in contrast to Flipper) — "Zipper's surly. He is uncaring."

Meade, reading this post, said his first association with zipper was the "zipless fuck" (in Erica Jong's "Fear of Flying"). I had to do some additional retroactive tagging, because I'd only searched for "zipper." Searching for "zipless," I found places where I'd talked about Erica Jong's idea, including one in the context Trump's "Access Hollywood" remarks, from October 8, 2016 (the day after the sudden, shocking disclosure of the tape):
[I]f you watch the whole video, you see him winning with another woman, Arianne Zucker, the one who, in Trump's words, is "hot as shit, in the purple." Zucker is the one who inspired him to say "I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."

And in fact, you see the female version of that power trip: The woman plays on the man's sexual interest. Grab them by the crotch. Zucker looks entirely pleased with herself, demands to walk in the center and grabs the arms of both men. If that is what is expected and that is the norm in your workplace, how can you be the cold one who keeps her sexuality to herself?

I invite you to contemplate why this got me thinking about Erica Jong's concept of the "zipless fuck":
The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not "taking" and the woman is not "giving." No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one.