1. There's a woman in my workout class who works for a trendy hair salon, and I thought it'd be fun to have her recommend a fru-fru shampoo for me. My hair has been pretty ratty lately, and gets very wiry and big.
So now I'm the proud owner of this which boasts, "The rich formula is infused with precious gold to enhance hair's shine and leave it soft to the touch." Whatever man, we all need our distractions in life.
2. I was at an appreciation event yesterday, to recognize people who were retiring or otherwise leaving. Five speeches in a row began, "When Dr. X asked me to say a few words about Y, I had [this reaction of writer's block] because of the [something vague and good about Y]." Let's all agree to edit that part out of our next speeches and just start with the content.
3. Ace is dancing to:
at her recital, and I could not love this song more. Sophia Loren, not Dean Martin.
4. I am all burnt out on the news from this week and seeking a frivolous thread. Tell me some dumb frivolous thing, please.
I don't know what to say about the Alabama ban that wasn't said in the thread from Sunday.
- The accounts of how terrible the Senators are at understanding science and biology are not amusing or interesting to me at all. They're not interested in the science because they're motivated by misogyny. Tossing off flippant sciencey comments is about the same as when I make a joke about not understanding football - they don't believe that they understand it and they truly don't give a shit, and that's the point.
- I think Roe v Wade will be struck down, and we'll go back to a patchwork of states situation. That matches how we are on everything else: some states protect voting rights, expand medicare, and enact legislation that helps their citizens, and other states do the opposite. States will continue to diverge unless there's some sort of energy otherwise, and I see very very little evidence of any energy against this trend.
- The main difference between the future and the pre-Roe time is the existence of RU-486 and other abortion pills. The black market that springs up won't be about transporting women out of Alabama so much as getting the abortion pills into Alabama on the sly.
One consequence is that unsupervised RU-486 is much less deadly than unsupervised surgical abortions, so the stories of women dying won't quite reach the caliber that they did 50 years ago.
The worst consequences - of fucking course - will fall on the most vulnerable women, the women who need abortions after the abortion pill deadline has passed, or who aren't able to acquire it because they're young, or poor, or have medical issues involving the pregnancy or otherwise.
(Also, am I being dumb about something? Why is Alabama's law blowing up social media way more than Ohio/Georgia/whoever else has done the same thing in the very recent past? People who don't usually weigh in seem to be voicing strong opinions about it, in my channels.)
Moscha writes: And not just in Venezuela. It's no news that PRC statistics are unreliable, but it is notable that they're getting worse: provincial-level padding appears to have increased steadily since the late 1990s (following changes in party evaluation criteria), and national-level corrections for that padding to have deteriorated since the early 2000s, worsening sharply after 2008, but starting well before then. The upshot, among other things:
Calculations suggest that the current nominal size of the economy is about 18 per cent lower than the official level of US$13.4 trillion at the end of 2018.1
While the stats rot, economic policy is incoherent. Declared national priorities include improved air quality and conversion to renewable energy. Due however to the concentration of the economy in SOEs,2 and of the SOEs in power and construction, and the neverending stimulus since 2008,3 coal-fired plants equivalent to 25% of existing capacity are currently under construction, with provincial permissions (presumably in line with those same evaluation criteria). Those plants will cost US$210 billion; the cost of shutting them down would be US$332-655 billion in stranded assets, depending on how slowly they are phased out. Since the construction is done by governments and SOEs, the debts are implicitly guaranteed by the state; unless air quality goals are abandoned, which looks politically unlikely, the central government will probably end up absorbing most of a minimum US$332 billion dollar writeoff.4
Meanwhile, satellite analysis shows nearly a third of Chinese cities to have shrinking populations, more than in previous studies. The party, however, does not promote people for managing problems, but for managing growth, and so these cities continue to plan for growth and, this being a party state, to pour concrete. (Contra stereotypes, most of these are not in the northeast rustbelt. Per this infographic piece, the region has 46 shrinking cities of 938 total (4.9%), while its share of total population is 7.9%.)
1. The underlying report. Describes various ways published national level figures are becoming less accurate and more opaque.2. A concentration Xi is committed to expanding.3. Where, in fairness, the developed world has totally failed to pull its Keynesian weight; but the sheer fact of Chinese vulnerability to domestic OECD policies is telling.4. For comparison, TARP cost ~$430bn, recouped at a profit.
Heebie's take: Thanks, Mossy, for writing all that up.
Also: SOE = state-owned enterprises.
I don't watch Game of Thrones because I don't like nearly everything that makes good TV, I guess. But maybe you are watching it? Everyone seems really angry at the writers. Have at it!
Mobes writes: Even the good guy in Caddyshack is, at best, an attempted statutory rapist
A whole book on Trump's cheating at golf seems a bit too much, even if it is clearly a window into his soul. Two reviews of the book seem about right. Vox's review very nicely pulls out the parts explaining just how big of a shit is Trump. The Atlantic goes off in the weeds about how Trump's behavior is hurting golf just as the sport was losing its plaid-trousered rich-asshole trappings. I say if he continues to drive decent people away from golf, that's at least one thing you can't fault Trump on.
Heebie's take: Our commander-in-shithead, ladies and gentlemen:
Trump sees Ted on the 9th hole and and decides to drive his cart over. He tells Ted: "Congrats on winning the club championship, but you didn't really win it, because I was out of town."
Ted tries to laugh it off, but Trump is dead serious. Trump says, "We're gonna play these last six holes for the championship." And Ted's like, "Oh, well, I'm playing with my son, but thanks anyway." But Trump says, "It's okay. Your son can play, too." So what are you going to do? He's the president. It's his course. They end up playing.
Apparently, they get to a hole with a big pond in front of the green. Both Ted and his son hit the ball on the green, but Trump hits his in the water. By the time they get to the hole, though, Trump is lining up the son's ball. Only now it's his ball and the caddie has switched it.
The son is like, "That's my ball!" But Trump's caddie goes, "No, this is the president's ball; your ball went in the water." Ted and his son look at each other confused, not sure if this is really happening. Trump makes that putt, and wins one up. Then, according to Golf.com, he tells Virtue something like, "I'll tell you what, we'll be co-champions."
But the members tell me that when you look at the plaques on Trump's locker there, it says: "2018 Men's Club Champion." No "co-" at all.
He is just. the. biggest. shit. It would admittedly be hilarious if he didn't have so much power.
What is up with this onslaught of abortion-outlawing bills in so many states, simultaneously? Is something coordinated going on here? Or is it just that Kavanaugh's confirmation made this legislative session seem like an oppportunity, plus being the news story du jour? It's really horrifying and widespread. It's also impossible to tell what's fact and what's fiction, or rather what's bluster that won't have any effect, and what's bluster that will be tangled up in the courts before it gets struck down, and will have huge effects. (Frex, Georgia's detail about it being illegal to go out-of-state to get an abortion.) I saw a twitter thread - maybe Jessica Valenti? - compiling an incomplete list of women who have been arrested and tangled in the courts and jails for various lengths of time, for having miscarriages. (Poor and minority women, nearly all.)
It's really unnerving to witness the hollowing out of women's rights and know we're on the decline side of this arc, and not know how far away the bottom is. It is a new thing for me to think, "Things used to be better - the rhetoric around X, Y, and Z was considered unacceptable and Republicans were more timid about their proposed restrictions." We're in a precarious position and could actually fall off a ledge. Happy goddamn mother's day.