Nats would spend less time with their families!


Home cooking eschewed by the champs:
Leading Washington personalities have long been famous for quitting good jobs "to spend more time with their families."

The Washington Nationals have turned their backs on this old bit of regional hokum. Last night, they won the 2019 World Series, winning four games as the visiting team as compared to the Houston Astros, who managed to win only three.

Some people claim that they enjoy spending more time with their families. The modern high-end baseball player excels when such folk aren't around.

In related news: In related news, we've come to see that we'll never understand the Washington Post's Nick Anderson.

Anderson reports today on the nation's new ACT scores. As we'll detail before the week is done, his report doesn't make any sense, except as anthropology.


THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: At trial, a logical puzzle!


In the press, complexities disappear:
As we noted on Tuesday, we were struck by the way the New York Times described what happened that night.

In late September, Concepcion de Leon wrote the paper's profile of Chanel Miller's forthcoming book, Know My Name: A Memoir. What happened on the night in January 2015 when Miller was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner after a Stanford frat party?

In her profile of Miller's new book, de Leon offered this cleaned-up account:
DE LEON (9/23/19): On Jan. 17, 2015, Chanel Miller was seven months out of college and working at an educational technology start-up when she decided to accompany her younger sister to a Stanford fraternity party. She remembers going, having some drinks and, hours later, regaining consciousness in the hospital.

What happened in between she pieced together primarily from news reports...
Miller remembers "having some drinks!" That's what the New York Times said!

For all we know, de Leon may have submitted a less bowdlerized account of the evening's events, only to have her copy adjusted by some unnamed editor who understands the tribal narrative involved in this unfortunate case. At any rate, that account in the glorious Times struck us as highly misleading.

In fact, assuming basic journalistic competence, that passage strikes us as deceptive. In fact, Miller had so many "drinks" that night that, by her own account, she was "blackout drunk" by roughly midnight.

According to an estimate offered by the prosecutor who charged Turner with sexual assault, Miller's blood alcohol content was 0.25 at the time of the assault—three times the so-called legal limit. At some point, she lost consciousness because she was so drunk.

There's nothing "wrong" with being drunk, even with being publicly drunk, although, as everyone knows, extreme levels of public drunkenness can lead to a wide array of very bad outcomes. For that reason, bartenders are expected to stop serving people of whatever age when they become excessively drunk.

As Stanford's president slept that night, the children overseeing a drunken frat party didn't perform such duties. They let a 19-year-old college freshman and a 22-year-old college graduate become extremely drunk, then head off into the night.

Within our scripted "liberal" tribe, such basic facts have been widely suppressed in discussions of this high-profile matter. By the time The New Yorker got hold of the topic, it seemed that alcohol had made no appearance, none at all, in the events of that night.

Alas! We currently live in the (journalistic) Age of the Novel—an era in which basic facts and logic will be disappeared to produce the kinds of morality tales which constitute the official knowledge of our nation's various tribes. That includes our hapless "liberal" tribe, which is committed to certain ways of approaching and describing destructive events of this particular type.

Miller was three times the legal limit that night. De Leon sanded that off with a silly representation in which Miller "remembers having some drinks."

Miller became unconscious because she was extremely drunk. De Leon's report left the question of cause and effect to the reader's imagination. In this way, the Times presented the type of cartoonized story which makes tribal hearts glad.

We were struck by the fact that the New York Timers didn't include two basic numbers in its news report. According to the prosecution's estimates, Miller would have blown a 0.25 that night. Turner would have blown a 0.171.

Each young person was very drunk as they were sent off into the night. Later, widely-respected Stanford authorities feigned shock and surprise, and expressed faux concern, about what happened next.

That pair of numbers didn't appear in the New York Times report. Nor did the numbers appear in Jennifer Weiner's glowing review of Miller's well-written book.

In each case, we were struck by the omission, but news reports and book reviews contain only so many words. When we read the fascinating book in question, a book of some 328 pages, we were struck by the fact that those basic numbers don't appear there either.

Don't get us wrong! In her book, Miller does convey the fact that she was blackout drunk on the deeply unfortunate night in question. That said, among her many skills as a writer, Miller possesses an inordinate amount of skill at couching certain types of facts inside a blizzard of misdirections and advertisements-for-self.

Have we ever read a major text whose author was so determined to consider no possible point of view other than her own? We're not sure, but this relentless shaping by Miller is one of the several qualities which make her book so fascinating.

Perhaps understandably, Miller seems determined to insist that nothing she did that night played any role to the events which ensued. Did it matter that she was so drunk that she blacked out, starting roughly at midnight, then later lapsed into unconsciouness? Did her extreme drunkenness play any role in what happened that night?

Miller is a very young person. Beyond that, she was the victim of what has plainly been a life-altering act of assault.

That said, her dismissiveness concerning her own drunkenness is one of the many remarkable features of a distraction-filled book. Below, for example, you see the way Miller starts Chapter 8, the chapter in which she describes some of her own time on the witness stand during Turner's trial.

"Tiffany" is Miller's sister—the sister who had to leave the drunken frat party to help another drunken friend find her way back to her dorm room. The italics are Miller's own:
MILLER (page 189): The trial would continue for the rest of the week, though I wasn't allowed inside the courtroom. I lived inside my strange parallel universe; all day I'd putter around aimlessly and at night I'd check coverage of the local news. On Tuesday, Tiffany finished her testimony and I asked my DA who was next. A blackout expert, she said. I waited a beat for her to tell me she was kidding. I wanted to say, I'm the real blackout expert am I right. The expert, Dr. Fromme, had been paid ten thousand dollars by Brock's side to testify. She claimed I could have been ready, willing and able to consent even if I could not remember it.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Based on her previous four or five blackouts while in college, Miller herself was the real blackout expert, not this absurd Dr. Fromme!

Fromme actually is an academic specialist on matters of blackout drinking. To peruse an intriguing Buzzfeed interview with Fromme, you can just click here.

At trial, Fromme introduced a basic distinction. As we noted yesterday, the fact that someone is "blackout drunk" doesn't mean that they're "unconscious," though that may come to pass later.

As we noted yesterday, people who are "blackout drunk" are up and walking around. They're saying and doing various things, none of which they'll recall.

They're making various decisions, some of which may be extremely unwise. After all, they're very drunk, though other people may not be able to discern this fact.

These basic, elementary facts create a logical problem. At trial, Turner testified that he and Miller left the frat party together, and that Miller consented to engage in sexual behavior once they got outside.

Did Miller voice some such consent? We have no way of knowing, but then again, neither does Miller! By her own account, she doesn't remember anything she said and did after roughly midnight that night, and the assault occurred at roughly 1 A.M.

Miller doesn't remember making some phone calls she plainly made that night. She doesn't remember leaving at least one voice message, a message she plainly left.

This doesn't mean she didn't make those calls and leave that voice message. It simply means she was blackout drunk when she did those things.

That said, Miller also doesn't remember anything about the way she exited the frat house that night. She doesn't remember anything she said to Turner. She doesn't remember anything either one of them said or did.

This creates the difficult type of situation which has increasingly appeared in high-profile campus cases involving allegations of sexual assault. In these cases, we've moved beyond the already difficult "he said/she said" dynamic to a different state of affairs, in which "he says/she can't remember."

In such cases, it's clear that sexual conduct has occurred. But the woman has no recollection of the way such conduct occurred.

At various points in her book, Miller seems to say, suggest and insist that she didn't voice any type of consent to Turner. That said, it's hard to know how she can possibly make such a claim since she acknowledges that she doesn't remember any of the events in question.

For this reason, we'd always been puzzled by the logic of the Turner jury's unanimous guilty verdict:

Turner said Miller voiced consent; Miller said she had no memory of the events in question. How does a jury convict the accused in a case like that? How does a prosecutor bring such a case to trial?

After the trial, one juror emerged to explain the logic of the jury's unanimous guilty verdict. We'd say that logic makes a type of perfect sense.

We'd also say that logic may be a bit strained, for a reason we haven't yet mentioned. But so is the quality of mercy, or so the bard once declared.

Turner says that Miller consented; Miller can't remember. Miller was extremely drunk, but Turner was very drunk too.

As we noted yesterday, people who are blackout drunk will sometimes end up having sex, perhaps with perfect strangers. By what logic did the jury convict in this terrible, horrible case?

Tomorrow, we'll describe that juror's logic. Also, we'll return to the conduct of the people who enabled this destructive event.

We think the juror's logic makes good sense, but then again it possibly doesn't. But of one thing you can be certain:

In this, The (ongoing) Age of The Novel, tribal sachems will shield you from the need to peruse these nagging complications. You'll be pleasured by the way these tribals keep it simple.

At the Times, you'll be told that Miller "remembers having some drinks." Soon, all reference to such complications will wholly disappear.

Tomorrow: When both young people are drunk...

The secret ingredient which improves fish!


Like Jesus, anthropologists wept:
Our handlers keep trying to steer us away from the daily features on the New York Times' hard-copy page A3.

Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves keep taking a different approach. These despondent scholars keep insisting that page A3 is where the ultimate secret lurks.

Thus prompted, we went there again today. At the top of the page, we found this:
Of Interest

The population of Guatemalan-Angelenos includes more than 250,000 people, the largest group outside of Guatemala.

Mayonnaise—a seasoned emulsion of oil in water—is mostly fat, making it a great delivery mechanism for the fat-soluble flavor compounds found in many aromatics, while leaving behind no distinct flavor of its own.
No distinct flavor of its own left behind! At any rate, those were the first two "noteworthy facts" included in today's Of Interest feature.

As printed, that first entry doesn't exactly parse. But it was the second "noteworthy fact" which had us shaking our heads.

Good lord, we thoughtfully said. The Times lists seven "noteworthy facts" from today's paper, and one of the seven entries involves the way mayonnaise works!

Already, we thought this morning's page A3 had made the anthropologists' point. But then we looked at the daily feature directly below the "noteworthy facts."

On this, the 30th day in October, that daily feature did look, in part, like this:
The Conversation


2. The Secret Ingredient That Improves Meat Every Time
A smear of mayonnaise before cooking makes beef, pork, chicken and fish better as if by magic, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt opined in this highly read article, one of two from the Food section to crack the top 5 most read articles on Tuesday.
Good lord! The article about mayonnaise was one of the day's "most read!" As it turned out, so was "this review of Peter Luger, the Brooklyn steakhouse."

The Luger review was listed as "most read and shared post" number 3. The fourth "most read and shared" entry went exactly like this:
4. Early to Bed, Early to Rise Makes Me Exhausted, Depressed and Sick
This Op-Ed article by Vanessa Barbara about living with a chronic circadian rhythm problem was one of Tuesday's most emailed articles.
Just for the record, the circadian rhythm complainer piece was appearing on the "most read/most shared" list for the second straight day. Yesterday, the Times reported that the piece "was popular with readers on Monday."

A smear of mayonnaise before cooking makes beef, pork, chicken and fish better! In other news today, the Times published a lengthy report beneath these hard-copy headlines:
Erased by Rising Seas by 2050
Research Paper Says 150 Million Are Living on Land that Will Be Inundated by Midcentury
In our Washington Edition, that report appeared on page A6. It didn't make the "noteworthy facts" or the "most read and shared" lists.

Those anthropologists have a strong point. Like Jesus, these top experts wept!

THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: What does it mean to be blackout drunk?


The fate of the over-served:
Chanel Miller has routinely been praised on a perfectly sensible basis.

To what standard assessment do we refer? Just last week, Lisa Bonos expressed this assessment quite directly in the Washington Post:
BONOS (10/21/19): As #MeToo unfolded, the woman, Chanel Miller, felt emboldened to make her name public with a searing memoir that came out last month and quickly became a bestseller. “Know My Name” is remarkable for how Miller, who had blacked out from drinking, refuses to blame herself for what Turner had done to her. In a recent podcast conversation, Oprah Winfrey told Miller that this mind-set was a big change from how Winfrey and other survivors of her generation frequently blamed themselves for being assaulted, perhaps because of how they dressed or how much they had to drink.
Miller refuse to blame herself. This makes her book remarkable.

Should Chanel Miller "blame herself" for what Brock Turner did, whatever that may have been? Obviously, no, she shouldn't!

In fairness, it isn't all that easy to say what Turner actually did on the very late evening in question. In March 2016, a unanimous jury ruled that he committed a sexual assault. Tomorrow, we'll examine the slightly peculiar, challenging logic behind that jury's verdict.

Today, though, we return to that other question of blame:

Obviously, it never makes sense to blame Person A for something Person B did. If Person A passes out in the public square and Person B walks away with his wallet, Person B, not Person A, has committed a crime.

This doesn't mean that Person A might not have been careless, or perhaps unwise, in this circumstance. In the act of theft described above, if Person A passed out in public because he'd become "extremely drunk," then Person A might sensibly consider the role this act of public carelessness played in the events which followed, in which he may have lost a large amount of cash.

Presumably, everyone is careless or unwise at some point in time. That doesn't mean that we should be blamed for someone else's immoral or criminal conduct.

That said, Miller "refuses to blame herself" in a way which strikes us as a bit unwise. We return to the early statement in Know My Name which defines the well-written book's basic ethos:
"I, to this day, believe none of what I did that evening is important..."
As we noted yesterday, Miller makes that slightly imprecise statement at an early point in her book. Given the disastrous events of the evening in question, we strongly disagree with that statement.

Even today, Miller remains a very young person and the victim of a sexual assault—an assault from which she is still struggling to recover. The damage done by that assault is very important. So therefore was her somewhat unwise behavior on the night in question.

In what did that unwise behavior consist? It consisted in the fact that Miller, than just 22 years, became "blackout drunk" in a public place, on a campus whose august authority figures enable the kind of criminal conduct which ensued that night.

Obviously, what Miller did wasn't criminal, or even immoral—but what she did was less than perfectly wise. In a slightly different location, the behavior of those authority figures might have qualified as criminal. Here's what those august figures did:

They allowed a 19-year-old college freshman to be served so much alcohol that he would stumble out into the night with an estimated blood-alcohol content of 0.171—more than two times California's "legal limit."

In a Palo Alto bar, it would have been against the law to serve that 19-year-old freshman any alcohol at all! But on the nearby Stanford campus, he was served so much alcohol that he was severely drunk as he stumbled into the night at roughly 1 A.M.

That isn't all these august authority figures allowed to happen that night. They also allowed a 22-year-old woman to be served so much alcohol that her estimated BAC was 0.25 at 1 A.M.—three times the legal limit!

In fact, they allowed her to be served so much alcohol that she had become "blackout drunk" at approximately midnight.

She then made phones call, and left voice messages, which she doesn't remember making and leaving. What else did she do in that missing hour?

Because these pillars of the community had allowed her to be so vastly over-served, she has no idea what she said and did in the hour after midnight. But she seems to have left the party around 1 A.M. with the aforementioned Turner.

Eventually, she became unconscious. At some point along the way, the assault in question occurred.

In our view, the logic by which Turner was convicted of sexual assault is a slightly peculiar logic. We'll examine that logic tomorrow. For today, let's try to get a bit more clear on what it means to be "blackout drunk."

Just for starters, let's be clear—no one disputes the fact that Miller was "blackout drunk" on the evening in question. At trial, she testified to this fact, saying that she had also been blackout drunk four or five times while in college.

As noted, the fact that someone is blackout drunk doesn't mean that they should be blamed for the subsequent conduct of others. But what does it mean to be blackout drunk, and why should the nation's most revered figures avoid over-serving very young people until they attain this dangerous state?

What does it mean to be blackout drunk? For starters, and most important, it doesn't mean that the person in question is unconscious. The person in question hasn't "passed out," although that may happen later.

A person who is "blackout drunk" is up and about and walking around; she's saying and doing things. He or she is very drunk, but he or she hasn't passed out.

He or she can walk and talk and make all sorts of decisions—but his or her judgment may be badly impaired. In this publication from the National Institutes of Health, Aaron White described some of the unwise decisions such impaired people commonly make:
WHITE: As might be expected given the excessive drinking habits of many college students (Wechsler et al. 2002), this population commonly experiences blackouts. White and colleagues (2002c) recently surveyed 772 undergraduates regarding their experiences with blackouts...Of those who had consumed alcohol during the 2 weeks before the survey, 9.4 percent reported blacking out during this period. Students in the study reported that they later learned that they had participated in a wide range of events they did not remember, including such significant activities as vandalism, unprotected intercourse, driving an automobile, and spending money.


In a subsequent study, White and colleagues (2004) interviewed 50 undergraduate students, all of whom had experienced at least one blackout, to gather more information about the factors related to blackouts. As in the previous study, students reported engaging in a range of risky behaviors during blackouts, including sexual activity with both acquaintances and strangers, vandalism, getting into arguments and fights, and others...Roughly half of all students (52 percent) indicated that their first full memory after the onset of the blackout was of waking up in the morning, often in an unfamiliar location. Many students, more females (59 percent) than males (25 percent), were frightened by their last blackout and changed their drinking habits as a result.
People who are "blackout drunk" are extremely drunk. Their judgment may be affected by this state of drunkenness.

According to White, they report "engaging in a range of risky behaviors during blackouts, including sexual activity with both acquaintances and strangers." The next day, they won't remember doing these things.

White has long been recognized as a major authority on such topics. He's often cited in press reports warning about the danger involved in such excessive consumption.

In 2015, CNN's Kelly Wallace cited White's work in a lengthy piece about blackout drinking. Wallace was discussing a new book on the subject by Salon editor Sarah Hepola, a book which received a glowing review in the New York Times.

What happens when people are blackout drunk? Wallace had interviewed White and quoted him as shown:
WALLACE (8/7/15): Blackouts are periods of amnesia about things a person did or places a person went while intoxicated, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Blackouts are not the same as passing out while intoxicated, and a drunk person and others around him or her might not realize they're happening. For most people, the sign of a blackout is waking up wondering, "What happened?"

"They're very common, frighteningly so," especially among college students who drink alcohol, said Aaron White, PhD, senior adviser to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and one of the country's leading experts on blackouts.


In a blackout, you could be doing mundane things like brushing your teeth, walking home or talking to a friend. Or, you might carry out more emotionally charged or risky behaviors such as having sex. Whatever it is, while that's happening, your brain is unable to create memories for those events.

Hepola writes about coming out of a blackout in a Paris hotel room while she was having sex with a man that she had no memory of meeting.

"I was not asleep," she said. "It's almost like your mind goes online again after being kicked offline ... and I come out of this blackout and I'm on top of this guy and I'm having sex with him, and I don't know where he came from, and it's the strangest thing that had ever happened to me."

The man Hepola was having sex with most likely had no idea she was in a blackout, White said.

"Even for spouses of hardcore alcoholics, they report usually not being able to tell when their spouse is in a blackout," he said.
According to White, other people can't necessarily tell when someone is "blackout drunk." Meanwhile, the party who is blackout drunk may engage in a wide array of behaviors, including those described above.

For the reasons listed above, we'd always wondered about the basis upon which the jury was able to find that Turner was in fact guilty of a sexual assault on that very unfortunate night. Tomorrow, we'll explain that logic. It's a logic which is somewhat shaky, but it's also a logic which makes a type of perfect sense.

For today, we'll only say this. People who vastly over-serve young people, then send them clattering off into the night, are engaging in deeply irresponsible conduct.

In our view, their conduct only gets worse when they express shock and surprise about what sometimes happens next. In our view, it's hard to have sufficient contempt for the august authority figures who engage in conduct like this.

In our view, august figures at a famous school behaved very irresponsibly in the incident under review. To a slightly lesser extent, so do the adult journalists who agree to overlook the many shortcoming with Chanel Miller's well-written but often poorly reasoned new book.

That said, we live in The Age of the Novel, an age in which facts and logic are routinely disappeared in search of tribal simplification and pleasing story-lines. It's an age in which our floundering liberal tribe tends to reason in the language of fairy tale, trending at times toward cartoon.

Tomorrow: One juror explains

"How to improve your outdoor space!"


No other newspaper like it:
Skillfully, we barked out this morning's orders to the eager young analysts.

"Bring us the dope on the Times' Ronda Kaysen," we skillfully, yet thoughtfully, said.

As it turns out, Kaysen is an award-winning journalist. We know that because she's willing to say so, at her own web site:
I am an award-winning freelance journalist and longtime contributor to the New York Times, where I write two regular columns. Right at Home takes readers along on my many misadventures in homeownership. Yes, figuring out how to install a home security system is confusing and no, I am not at all ashamed that I am addicted to open houses (I’m not the only one, either!)


I have won numerous awards,
including the 2018 President’s Award for the Best Freelance Collection from National Association of Real Estate Editors.

I got my start at The New York Observer, where I wrote about celebrities, books, wedding engagements and Manhattan neighborhoods...
We like to joke about the way our journalists use the award-winning term, "award-winning." That said, Kaysen's use of the term is perhaps a bit heavy-handed, even for scufflers like us.

At any rate, so what? We issued our orders today because of Kaysen's performance in the Times' daily "Here to Help" feature (print editions only). On this morning's page A3, it starts exactly like this:
Here to Help

Your instinct might be to start with plants, but resist that urge. RONDA KAYSEN
Already, we were hooked! As we greedily perused the feature, we thought Kaysen's best work almost surely involved the enduring importance of shade:
Choose a shady spot for seating. “Shade is hugely important,” said Cara White, the founder of Elevations, an urban design studio in New York. “Where is your best opportunity to create shade?”

But if your only option is to have your seating area beneath the blazing sun, install a shade sail, a retractable awning or a large umbrella. Or, step it up and build a pergola, letting vines grow over it to create a natural canopy.
To her credit, Kaysen wasn't afraid to consult an expert on the question of whether shade is important when you're sitting outdoors. From there, Kaysen proceeded to earn her keep on her own:

Who else would think of erecting an awning, or perhaps even a large umbrella, to block the blazing sun? You simply can't gain insights like these in any other newspaper!

Increasingly, Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves tell us that the Times' page A3 is the only newspaper page worth reading at this extremely late date.

"Mister Trump's War is drawing near," these disconsolate future scholars have glumly repeatedly told us. "On page A3, we see the remarkable folderol which will soon, at long last, bring the end times to pass."

Also on today's A3, we learned that this hard-hitting news report was "Monday's most read article." If you click, you'll see that it was the news report about Donald J. Trump getting booed at the baseball game.

Is there any way out of this hard-wired mess? Everything is possible, nine out of ten future logicians somewhat improbably claim!

THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: Profile of a drunken brawl!


Who enables this culture?:
When we read Concepcion de Leon's profile of Chanel Miller's new book, we were immediately struck by the highlighted statement:
DE LEON (9/23/19): On Jan. 17, 2015, Chanel Miller was seven months out of college and working at an educational technology start-up when she decided to accompany her younger sister to a Stanford fraternity party. She remembers going, having some drinks and, hours later, regaining consciousness in the hospital.

What happened in between she pieced together primarily from news reports...
According to de Leon's profile, Miller "remembers having some drinks" at the Stanford frat party in question. Assuming basic competence on the part of de Leon and her unnamed New York Times editor, that anodyne statement strikes us as an act of journalistic deception.

We say that because Miller actually had a very large number of "drinks" on the evening in question. She had so many "drinks" that her blood alcohol content was estimated to be 0.25—more than three times the so-called "legal limit"—by the time of the behavior which a jury unanimously ruled to have been an act of criminal assault.

According to her own sworn account, Miller had been "blackout drunk" for roughly an hour by the time of the assault. That it, she'd been up and about, walking around, saying and doing things, but without the ability to form memories of the things she had said and done.

By 1 A.M. or thereabouts, Miller was unconscious, though no one says that she'd been drugged and no one says that she'd been mugged. She had "had [so many] drinks" that she first went blackout drunk, then later passed out.

In our view, de Leon and her unnamed editor made the journalistic decision to withhold these facts. Even worse, they decided to insert an anodyne account designed to deceive their Times readers.

Let's be clear! De Leon didn't have to mention the "drinks" at all. In all likelihood, Miller may also have "eaten some pretzels" at this gruesome Stanford bacchanal, but any such consumption would be completely irrelevant to the criminal assault which occurred later that evening.

De Leon skips the pretzels, but she does mention the drinks. And sure enough! When she does, she massively understates what actually happened. Presumably, she and her editor chose to do this for a pair of reasons:

They mentioned the drinks because the "drinks" almost surely were relevant to the horrible events which happened later that night. At the same time, they downplayed Miller's state of drunkenness because we liberals know that current tribal dogmas require us to mislead others, and ourselves, in this ridiculous fashion.

Early in her well-received book, Miller makes a fascinating declaration. The statement defines the approach she takes all through her well-written but highly evasive book.

The statement appears in Chapter 1, right there on page 4. It isn't completely obvious what the statement means, but the statement goes like this:
"I, to this day, believe none of what I did that evening is important..."
In context, that seems to mean that Miller's state of drunkenness wasn't "important" that night. This claim is mandated by tribal dogma, but on balance the claim seems absurd.


Does anybody actually think that the sexual assault in question would have occurred if Miller's hadn't been "extremely drunk" that night? If she hadn't been blackout drunk by roughly midnight, unconscious by roughly 1 A.M.?

We find it very hard to believe that her interaction with Turner would have occurred at all, absent the massive amount of drinking. In our view, this makes the massive drunkenness extremely important.

Though everyone knows to avoid this question, no one has ever claimed that Miller was forced to leave this drunken frat party with Turner. Presumably, she did so of her own volition, to the extent that a person can be said to have volition when her blood alcohol content is 0.25—when she's blackout drunk.

Asked at trial to testify about her departure from the party; asked to testify about what occurred once she and Turner were outside; Miller testified that she doesn't remember. The court was left with Turner's account of those events, but with no account from Miller.

Miller acknowledged that she can't say what happened as she and Turner left the party. But just to be clear, that doesn't mean that Miller was unconscious when at that time.

Beyond that, it doesn't mean that she was dragged from the fraternity house—that she was physically forced to go outside with Turner. Everything is always possible, but no one has ever said that that's what happened that night.

Miller's inability to testify about events from midnight on means that she was "blackout drunk" that night. She was up and about and walking around, but unable to form memories of the things she was saying and doing.

Before the week is done, we'll link you to further information about the widely-chronicled dangers of this undesirable state. But we know of no reason to believe that Miller would have left the party with Turner at all had she not been "extremely drunk."

Given the awful events which ensued, we would therefore have to say that her unfortunate state of drunkenness was indeed very important.

Let's be clear. There's nothing about Miller's degree of drinking that night which is necessarily "immoral" (as opposed to perhaps unwise).

There's nothing about her drinking that night which meant that, on a moral basis or in a perfect world, she should have been subjected to a criminal act of assault, or to any other sort of misconduct.

Her degree of drunkenness wasn't immoral that night. It certainly doesn't mean that she committed some sort of crime, as Turner was judged to have done.

That said, Miller's degree of drunkenness was dangerous that night. Before we ask you to wonder about who enabled this state of affairs, it might be worth pausing for a brief moment approaching comic relief.

As we noted yesterday, Miller and Turner were both very drunk on the evening in question. In the Stanford Daily, Hannah Knowles reported the data presented at trial, with Miller referred to as "Doe:"
KNOWLES (3/21/16): Alice King—a supervising criminalist for Santa Clara County—also testified. Given nominally hypothetical situations corresponding to Doe and Turner on Jan. 18, King estimated that the Doe and Turner’s blood alcohol content (BAC) levels at 1 a.m. would have been .242 to .249 and .171, respectively.
According to the prosecution, Turner's blood alcohol content was more than two times the legal limit. Miller's BAC was more than three times the level at which a person can legally drive.

These young people were both very drunk. Who had enabled this dangerous state of affairs? First, consider a further report from Knowles about the frat party in question.

As we noted yesterday, Miller had gone to the party with her younger sister, a college student, and with a friend of the sister. The sister's friend was a Stanford student.

Why wasn't Miller's sister on hand to keep her from leaving the party with Turner? In her report about the trial, Knowles reported the relevant testimony. Who enables such nonsense as this?
KNOWLES: At some point, Doe’s sister left the party to get a highly intoxicated friend into bed on campus. That was the last time the sister saw Doe that night, though she searched for her later.

“When you weren’t worried about her?” [the defense attorney] asked.

He noted that in a police interview, she said Doe seemed “fine” at the time.

“She was standing; her eyes were open,” Doe’s sister told him.
The sister's friend, or perhaps some other friend of her sister, had been so drunk that she needed help to get back to her dorm room! This left Miller, who was blackout drunk, alone at the party with Turner, who was 19 years old and apparently would have blown a 0.17 himself.

By the way, please note what Miller's sister testified at trial. She testified that she couldn't tell that Miller was impaired when she left this drunken brawl to help her drunken friend find her way to her dorm room.

That's the nature of the state of being "blackout drunk." This plays a role in the peculiar logic of the Turner trial, which we'll describe before the week is done.

At any rate, behold the state of play! The sister's friend was so drunk that she couldn't make it to her dorm room by herself. Miller herself was blackout drunk, at three times the legal limit. Turner was more than two times the legal limit. According to a unanimous jury, a criminal assault then occurred.

The events we're describing didn't happen inside a dorm room, or in someone's apartment. They didn't happen inside some biker bar, where laws about underage drinking, and strictures concerning dangerous over-serving, were perhaps being ignored.

Where did these brain-dead events occur? Who enabled the obvious danger involved in such absurd levels of drunkenness?

We'll answer your question as the week proceeds. But in our view, the journalistic lesson here is clear:

De Leon and her unnamed editor understand the childish tribal logic which now controls large amounts of pseudo-liberal discussion. For that reason, Times readers were told that Miller "had some drinks" that night, with all that that phrase concealed.

More accurately, Miller was blackout drunk that night. In all fairness, is our routinely ridiculous, self-impressed tribe really much more lucid?

Tomorrow: A slightly peculiar logic

Who is going to win the World Series?


Anthropology all the way down:
"Math is hard," Talking Barbie famously said.

According to major anthropologists, so is working with statistics! Consider what happened when a substantial number of human beings recently tried to do that.

As of last Wednesday night, the Washington Nationals had won the first two games of the World Series, and they'd done so as the visiting team!

The Nats had won the two games in Houston! Every sports pundit from here to Sochi got busy repeating a script:

Very few teams who accomplished that feat have ever gone on to lose the World Series! It looked like the Nats were in!

How many teams have ever won the first two games as the visiting team, then proceeded to lose in the end? Every joker had the answer:

It hadn't happened since 1996, when the Braves accomplished the feat, losing to the Yankees. Before that, it had happened in 1985 and 1986. But those were the only three times it had occurred in all of World Series history!

And no, it hadn't happened a single time in the past 23 years!

This information was widely used to suggest that the Nationals had the Series wrapped up. Prodded by despondent future scholars, we decided to check a bit farther. This is what we found:

It's true that, in recent decades, very few teams have ever won the first two games on the road then gone on to lose the Series. But that's mainly because very few teams have ever won the first two games on the road.

The Braves won the first two games as the visiting team in 1996. But only two other teams have won the first two games as the visiting team since then—the Yankees in 1999 (they went on to win the series), and the Nationals this year.

From the year 2000 through 2018, no team ever won the first two games of the World Series as the visiting team! From 1987 through 2018, it only happened twice—the two times we've already mentioned (1996 and 1999).

In short, very few teams lose the World Series after winning the first two game on the road because very few teams ever win the first two games on the road! In fact, of the past four teams to win the first two games on the road (1985, 1986, 1996, 1999), three of those teams went on to lose the Series! Only the Yankees managed to overcome their early success!

In short, the Nats were dead when they won those first two games in Houston! According to disconsolate anthropologists, the embarrassing fact that "statistics is hard" kept us inveterate knuckle-draggers from grasping this obvious fact.

Warning from anthropologists: The language used to discuss this topic will tend to prove confusing to humans. Our species' highly imperfect brains weren't wired for assignments like this.

With that in mind, let's state it again in its simplest form:

The visiting team rarely wins the first two games of the World Series. In the years since 1986, it had only happened twice before the Nats did it this year!

THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: New York Times readers get misled!


Two numbers disappear:
Chanel Miller's well-received book, Know My Name: A Memoir, was officially published on September 24.

At the New York Times, Jennifer Weiner's review of the book appeared on line that same day. In print editions, publication of Weiner's review was somewhat delayed. Eventually, the piece appeared on Sunday, October 13, in the high-profile Book Review section.

Weiner's highly favorable review was somewhat oddly delayed. That said, one day before Miller's book appeared, the Times published a lengthy profile of the author and her book.

The piece was written by Concepcion de Leon, who had interviewed Miller. De Leon is a youngish writer, seven years out of college (Grinnell, class of 2012.) On September 23, her profile appeared on the front page of the Times' Arts section.

If memory serves, de Leon's profile was the first account we read of Miller's book. When we read the piece, we were struck by the way de Leon summarized the basic events of the deeply unfortunate night when Miller, then 22, was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, a 19-year-old Stanford freshman.

De Leon described the events as shown below. As an act of journalism, this basic account strikes us as highly truncated. It also strikes us as misleading in a highly significant way:
DE LEON (9/23/19): On Jan. 17, 2015, Chanel Miller was seven months out of college and working at an educational technology start-up when she decided to accompany her younger sister to a Stanford fraternity party. She remembers going, having some drinks and, hours later, regaining consciousness in the hospital.

What happened in between she pieced together primarily from news reports. She was found unconscious behind a dumpster with Mr. Turner on top of her, she said, by two graduate students who intervened and held Mr. Turner until the authorities arrived. He was arrested and later charged with three counts of felony sexual assault.
De Leon may not have read Miller's book at that point in time. In that passage, she seemed to be reporting the contents of the interview she'd conducted with Miller, not the contents of Miller's book itself.

What did Miller specifically say to de Leon? We have no way of knowing. But as an act of journalism, the account we've posted above strikes us as significantly misleading, possibly even as "slick."

What's misleading about de Leon's account? Consider what she says in that passage, but also what she omits. As far as we know, everything she says is accurate—but a great deal has been left out.

It's true! By all accounts, Miller did go to a Stanford fraternity party on that deeply unfortunate night. By all accounts, including her own, she did "have some drinks" at that party.

Hours later, Miller did "regain consciousness in the hospital." All those representations are accurate, but a great deal has been left out. Meanwhile, consider the various misimpressions a reader might get from reading that brief account.

Start with this. There are various ways a young woman can end up unconscious, behind a dumpster, after attending a fraternity party where she "had some drinks."

To cite one possibility, so-called "knockout" or "date rape" drugs may have been surreptitiously placed in her drinks. That said, no one has ever claimed that that's what happened here.

As a second ugly possibility, the young woman who was found behind the dumpster could have been physically assaulted—"mugged"—and rendered unconscious in that manner. Once again, no one has claimed that that's what happened here.

De Leon's truncated account of what happened that night lets the reader imagine various possibilities. But what actually did occur in this case? Taking some implied advice which Miller offers near the start of her book, let's turn to a news report about the testimony which occurred on March 21, 2016, during Turner's trial.

Reporter Tracey Kaplan covered the trial for the San Jose Mercury-News. In the passage posted below, she reported some basic facts which de Leon chose to omit.

In this passage, Miller is referred to as "the woman" because her name was being withheld from public reports at this time:
KAPLAN (3/22/16): Prosecutor Aleleh Kiancerci, on the other hand, contends that the woman was clearly extremely drunk—and Turner knew it...She did not wake up for at least three hours. The woman’s blood-alcohol was more than .24, or three times the legal limit. Turner’s blood-alcohol content was .17, or more than twice the legal limit of .08.
In this passage, Kaplan is reporting some basic information which emerged at trial. According to Kiancerci—the prosecutor Miller portrays at her major ally—Miller and her assailant were both very drunk at the time of the assault.

Indeed, in Kaplan's account of the prosecutor's presentation, Miller was "extremely drunk" at the time of the assault. That said, it's perfectly clear that Turner was very drunk too.

Whatever adjectives one may use, two numbers were present in Kaplan's report, as they had emerged at trial, for a reader's perusal. In Kaplan's account, the prosecutor was stressing how drunk Miller had been at the time of the behavior the jury would later judge to have been an assault.

A basic question arises. Why was the woman prosecuting Turner stressing Miller's state of drunkenness? We'll explain that point as the week proceeds. It forms a basic part of the slightly peculiar logic which prevailed at trial—a slightly peculiar logic which has generally been ignored in subsequent public debate.

First, though, Hannah Knowles, a reporter for the Stanford Daily, included those same numbers in her own news report about the testimony at trial. Knowles' report was slightly more detailed than Kaplan's would be. Also, throughout Knowles' report, Miller was called "Emily Doe:"
KNOWLES (3/21/16): Alice King—a supervising criminalist for Santa Clara County—also testified. Given nominally hypothetical situations corresponding to Doe and Turner on Jan. 18, King estimated that the Doe and Turner’s blood alcohol content (BAC) levels at 1 a.m. would have been .242 to .249 and .171, respectively.
Again, those numbers were presented at trial by the prosecution. They were offered as part of the successful effort to convict Turner of sexual assault.

At present, we all live in The Age of the Novel—perhaps in an age when our own tribe's tribal reasoning tends to borrow from the realm of the fairy tale, or even of the cartoon. For that reason, every liberal knows how to react to those remarkable numbers, which say that Miller was three times the "legal limit" at the time she was assaulted.

At this point, we liberals are all expected to make an accurate statement. We're expected to say—accurately, of course—that a person who is extremely drunk can't legally be assaulted or mistreated in other obvious ways.

Plainly, that statement is accurate. If you come upon a man who is so drunk that he has passed out, you aren't allowed to walk away with his wallet. And if you come upon a man or a woman who is extremely drunk, perhaps even unconscious, you aren't allowed to interact with them in a sexual manner.

If the man or woman is unconscious, you aren't allowed to interact with them sexually at all, but also this:

If the man or woman is "extremely drunk" but is still upright and walking around and talking, you aren't allowed to engage with them sexually, even if they voice consent.

These are basic facts about the state of the law in various jurisdictions. The reasoning behind them is obvious, though the logic may start to falter a bit if both parties are "extremely drunk."

The logic may start to falter at that point. But this brings us back to the truncated way de Leon described the events of that deeply unfortunate night.

De Leon left it to the reader to decide, perhaps to imagine, how Miller ended up unconscious that night.

In a choice her editor should have amended, she reported that Miller had "had some drinks" at the fraternity party, full stop. She didn't report that Miller had actually "had so many drinks" that she would have tested at more than three times the so-called legal limit, and that she had been so-called "blackout drunk" for roughly an hour at the time the assault occurred.

According to Miller's testimony, she had been "blackout drunk" for roughly an hour at the time of the assault. Tomorrow, we'll offer a quick overview of what that term actually means.

That said, Miller had had so many drinks that she was "blackout drunk" by midnight that night, and was fully unconscious at or around 1 A.M., though no one says that she had been drugged and no one says that her state of unconsciousness had been brought on by a "mugging."

De Leon's highly truncated account disappears those basic facts. New York Times readers were left to imagine what happened that night. Miller herself can't remember a great deal of what happened, but New York Times readers weren't told!

In most places and in most circumstances, it isn't against the law to be "extremely drunk." But because we live in The Age of the Novel, we liberals all know that we should pretend that Miller's extreme drunkenness had nothing to do with the profoundly unfortunate events which eventually took place on that unfortunate night.

Miller directly makes a form of that claim at the start of her well-written book. The claim is extremely hard to credit. It comes from the ream of the fairy tale, and it tends to enable an age of more such acts of assault.

Meanwhile, we liberals! We live in highly tribal times and, like tribal groups through the annals of time, we just aren't especially sharp and are devoted to dogmas. For these reasons, we tend to think that we should applaud Miller for this highly unlikely claim. (Explicit example to follow.)

Beyond that, we may be inclined to think that de Leon and her editor did the right thing in withholding the basic facts which emerged at trial.

Miller "had some drinks" that night? On a journalistic basis, is that statement an act of omission, or is it perhaps better seen as an act of outright deception?

In our view, New York Times readers got misled when some editor waved that account into print. We'd also say that this type of novelization enables an age of assault.

Tomorrow: Portrait of a culture

THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: Premises concerning assault!


Sympathy for all victims:
As noted yesterday, we agree, if in a limited way, with one of Jennifer Weiner's reactions to Chanel Miller's substantially well-written book, Know My Name: A Memoir.

Miller's book "especially deserves to be read by the next generation of young men," Weiner writes in her glowing review of the book. As we suggested yesterday, Weiner perhaps goes on to over-emote about that large group of young men.

As we ourselves read Miller's book, a memoir about an act of sexual assault and its lengthy aftermath, we had that same general thought about her Chapter 4. In that well-written chapter, Miller describes the street harassment she says she experienced during the summer of 2016, when she was taking art classes in distant Providence, Rhode Island.

We also agree with something Lisa Ko wrote in a somewhat dogmatized column about Miller's book in the New York Times. We'll likely discuss Ko's column next week, but we ourselves took this thought away from Miller's impressive if imperfect book:
"There is no singular, or universal, survivor experience."
So wrote Ko in her column. For the record, Miller describes herself as both a "victim" and a "survivor."

("I have no qualms with this word," she writes, referring to the fraught term victim, "only with the idea that it is all that I am.")

Miller describes her long experience dealing with the sexual assault which occurred in January 2015, but also with her experiences with the legal system after she decides to file charges against the young man who was eventually found to have criminally assaulted her.

Based on her well-written account, it's plain that Miller has endured years of struggle in the aftermath of this assault. We often wondered, reading her detailed accounts, how her lengthy experience compares to the experiences of other people subjected to such assaults.

From Miller's accounts of her experiences, it's plain that she has struggled, in endless ways, to recover from that act of assault and from its legal aftermath. In part because she plainly is a "gifted young writer" (we're quoting Weiner), her extremely detailed writing made us wonder about the experiences of the many other people, mostly women, who endure such assaults.

That said:

We don't mean to say that Miller displays perfect judgment as she recounts her various experiences. Nor is there any earthly reason why she should be expected to do so.

Miller was still just 26 as she composed her widely-praised book. There's no reason to think that such a young person should display perfect judgment as she assesses these life-altering events.

As we'll discuss next week, we don't think she does.

In certain ways, it gets even worse than that! We think Miller's well-written book extends the culture of novelization which has become a major part of struggling liberal culture as exhibited by much older writers and talkers.

We liberals! Within this culture of novelization, we tend to disappear accurate facts and invent inaccurate "facts." We also tend to ignore basic points of logic, all in search of perfect morality tales peopled with perfect heroes and with perfect villains.

In our view, Miller's book is fascinating, in large part, because of the extent to which it adopts and extends this generally unhelpful culture. That said, we can hardly blame a gifted but very young writer for adopting the culture her elders have built, especially when that very young person is still trying to come to terms with a criminal act of assault.

Let's set Miller's well-written book to the side for the briefest of moments. We think the way her book has been assessed and reviewed by older, upper-end journalists brings this culture of novelization into view in a deeply instructive way.

As Miller's book has been reviewed, elementary facts have been disappeared. Elementary points of logic have been ignored.

In the process, elementary questions have gone unasked, unassessed, unanswered. In our view, one obvious potential villain has been permitted to walk away from the scene of this (extremely common) crime.

Next week, we'll review a few basic facts which have been almost wholly disappeared from the way this story is told. We'll also explore some basic points of disappeared logic.

We'll see these disappearances occur in Miller's well-written book, but also in the major reviews. As we do, we'll be working from three basic premises, the first of which is of course blindingly obvious:

First premise—no one should ever be sexually assaulted: We'll assume that this is obvious, That said, tribal impulses will encourage us to say that people who don't recite stale tribal dogma are failing to honor this premise.

In such ways, we keep enabling, and electing, people like Donald J. Trump. For at least the past three decades, our tribe has been extremely unimpressive, except to our own tribal minds.

Second premise—Chanel Miller was the victim of an act of sexual assault: We base this upon the unanimous verdict of a duly constituted jury. Within our journalistic conventions, when juries reach such decisions in criminal cases, allegations of criminal conduct are transformed into facts.

Why do we feel the need to say this? We do so because of the rather puzzling logic we will explore next week.

Third premise—it doesn't make sense to criticize the reactions of a victim of assault: In our view, Chanel Miller, a gifted young writer, has perhaps displayed imperfect judgment in some of the assessments she offers in her well-received book.

Our reaction would be, So what? We've never had an experience like the experience she describes. We have no reason to think that we would display perfect judgment in all ways in reacting to such an event.

We do think that upper-end, adult journalists should be held to conventional standards when they assess Miller's book and the events it describes. It seems to us that many upper-end journalists have hurried off to fail this test, in ways which help explain how our floundering, upper-end tribe has helped elect people like Trump.

Starting perhaps with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, our tribe has tended to craft a series of novelized tales which recall the Brothers Grimm.

We reinvent facts and recast logic in search of illustrative moral fables with perfect heroes and villains. This conduct looks stupid to everyone else and in fact it pretty much is.

Even as we state our three basic premises, we'll promise one special treat. All next week, we'll be offering you a new villain, since that's what we liberal tribals seem to want and need.

That new villain will be a person who enabled the remarkably stupid drunken brawl which preceded the criminal act of assault which sent one young person to jail and has left another young person in a difficult process of recovery over the past several years.

For ourselves, we're not eager, as a general matter, to see people marched off to prison. For that reason, we won't be naming the name of our new villain, and we won't suggest that he should languish there.

We do think that this person behaved very badly in creating the brain-dead circumstance out of which this assault emerged. Our frequently ridiculous, floundering tribe has agreed to ignore all this.

We've done so because, like all human tribes, we tend to default towards dogmatic and dumb. Or so top major anthropologists keep telling us, despite the objections we lodge.

That act of assault should not have occurred. No one should be assaulted.

Next week: Are basic facts missing here?

Black congressmen frogmarched, plus parents to jail!


The strange career of moral panic:
What's the nature of moral panic? And where does such panic come from?

We can't necessarily explain moral panic, but we know it when we see it! Consider a few examples or offshoots in this morning's press.

We're so old that we can remember when liberals and progressives thought there were too many people in jail. That said, we're currently being served heaping portions of schadenfreude concerning the "college admissions scandal" as parents are marched off to jail.

Kate Taylor's brief report in this morning's New York Times starts off like this:
TAYLOR (10/23/19): Jane Buckingham, a youth marketing consultant who has written advice books including “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life,” was sentenced by a federal judge on Wednesday to three weeks in prison for paying to have a test expert take the ACT exam in place of her son.
Without criticizing Taylor, the source of the schadenfreude is obvious there. We love the fact that a hoity-toity "youth marketing consultant" (whatever that is) is being frog-marched to jail.

To be sure, this consultant's behavior was pitiful and deeply pathetic, as you can see from reading Taylor's brief report. Journalistically, though, we were most struck by the way the short report ended:
TAYLOR: “I know that words alone are never going to make up for what I’ve done—nothing’s going to ever make up for what I’ve done,” Ms. Buckingham told the judge, choking back tears.

“I wake up every morning,” she continued, “and when I remember what I’ve done and how many people I’ve hurt, I know that I’ll never be able to forgive myself.”
In that way, this brief report ends. On a journalistic basis, we'd call that a highly peculiar ending. As a literary form, that's an old-fashioned morality tale.

For a more striking example of moral panic, consider the reaction to Donald J. Trump's attempt to create a distraction yesterday by using the newly fraught term, "lynching," in a way which would make people mad.

In response to Trump's attempt to create a distraction, our Dimmesdales have swung into action. After Candidate Biden scolded Trump from his misconduct, Biden himself is being scolded for having misused the term on one occasion in 1998.

But it wasn't Senator Biden alone! In this morning's Washington Post, two reporters are willing to name other names:
VISER AND WOOTSON (10/24/19): Biden, whose standing in the race has been supported by a huge advantage among black voters, was not alone, however.

The Post identified at least five other Democratic lawmakers—current and former congressmen Danny K. Davis (Ill.), Gregory W. Meeks (N.Y.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.)—who talked about a “lynching” or “lynch mob” when it came to Clinton’s impeachment.
Viser and Wootson are too correct to note that three of these other miscreants—Davis, Meeks and Rangel—are socially identified as black. Today, all must repent or be frogmarched far away, into the countryside.

Was something actually wrong with saying what those miscreants said? We'll suggest that you consider the possibility that the answer is pretty much no.

We'd have to say that this latest wave of recrimination is the latest moral panic. It's the kind of "cultural revolution" which tends to come from those who are posturing, can't think of something constructive to do, or are morally lost.

We were especially struck by Michele Norris' full-length opinion column on this topic in today's Washington Post.

Norris has always seemed like the most decent person in the world, which she probably is. Today, she's warning everyone not to "trifle with the history" locked inside that newly-fraught word.

Question! Did Norris fashion any such commentary back in 1998, when the aforementioned miscreants were misbehaving in the manner described? We're going to guess that the answer is no. This leads to a question:

Why not?

"Man [sic] is the scripted animal," top anthropologists keep telling us. Plus, these experts keep telling us that we humans just aren't all that sharp.

That said, what's the nature of moral panic?

We think it tends to come from those who are perhaps a bit morally lost. It tends to traffic in guilt and self-loathing. We're not sure this actually helps.

THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: Catcalls and fear in Providence!


With a slight hint of novelization:
At one point in her review of Chanel Miller's impressively-written new book, Jennifer Weiner cites the part of the book we thought was most instructive.

Perhaps we should say it's the part of the book with which we found the fewest significant flaws. We refer to the part of the book which Weiner cites in the second highlighted passage:
WEINER (10/13/19): “Know My Name” is one woman’s story. But it’s also every woman’s story—the story of a world whose institutions are built to protect men; a world where sexual objectification is ubiquitous and the threat of sexual violence is constant. Before Turner assaulted her, Miller had already survived one act of deadly misogyny near her college, the University of California at Santa Barbara, when Elliot Rodger, a privileged young man enraged that he’d never had a girlfriend, went on a spree and killed six people.

After the assault, Miller enrolls in art school in Rhode Island. But the East Coast proves no safer. Walking back from class, “I passed three men sitting on a car who fastened their eyes on my legs, clicked their tongues and smacked their lips, performing the sounds and hand gestures one might use if attempting to summon a cat. … I trained myself to tuck my head down, avoiding eye contact, feigning invisibility.”
In this part of her review, Weiner refers to Miller's Chapter 4, in which Miller spends the summer of 2015 taking classes at the Rhode Island Institute of Design in humidity-soaked East Providence.

After describing some of her experiences in Providence, Miller also describes one part of her previous undergraduate experience. Specifically, she discusses the mass murder conducted by Elliott Rodgers, a mass murder which occurred in May 2014, late in her senior year at UCSB.

Despite the purplish tint to Weiner's prose, Miller "survived" this murderous act by this "privileged young man" only in the technical sense. She says some police cars passed her on the street as they sped to the scene of Rodgers' crime, and that she and her friends then received a mass email in which the university told all students that they should stay indoors.

Weiner's prose may be somewhat purple as she describes Miller's relationship to that heinous event. Beyond that, there may be a slightly tabloid feel to Weiner's account of Miller's East Coast summer.

As Weiner notes, Elliott Rodgers murdered six people near the end of Miller's years in Santa Barbara. In the most obvious sense, "the East Coast" did, in fact, "prove a great deal safer" than that when Miller took classes there.

Miller describes no privileged person committing mass murder during her Providence summer. Indeed, she describes not acts of physical violence at all.

That said, Miller does describe a series of incidents in which she was approached by men, in undesired ways, while walking the streets of Providence. Weiner quotes from Miller's description of one such incident in the passage posted above. The very first of these numerous incidents is described by Miller in this passage:
MILLER (pages 79-80): I walked an average of six miles a day, taking myself to parks, movie theaters, bookstores, intent on discovering my new land. No matter where I went, the same thing kept happening. At first it was an older man, who nodded and said, Good morning, beautiful, and I turned to see who he was addressing until I realized it was me. Confused, I said Good morning, before even deciding if I should've said anything at all. Be kind to the elderly. A bald man said, Hey, pretty girl, you sure are pretty. His smile spread slowly as if his face was unzipping, and I said, Thank you.

These remarks peppered my walks, as common as birds in the trees...
For Miller, this frequent experience starts with that comment by that elderly man, followed by a comment by someone who's bald. Soon, though, her uninvited interlocutors are younger, and strike her as more menacing.

"I began avoiding certain streets," Miller writes on page 80. "If I was spoken to going one way, I'd come back a different way, and found myself winding around many blocks."

"I started using my phone to discreetly record videos as I passed clusters of men," she writes on page 81.

"Walking down the street was like being tossed bombs," she writes two pages later. "I fiddled with the wires, frantically defusing each one."

"One day, I tried wearing headphones and reading a book as I walked, hoping to appear immersed, busy busy busy," Miller writes on that same page. "I made it one mile." As her Providence summer proceeds, she feels more threatened, and becomes more angry at the constant intrusions on her personal space.

Miller begins shouting insults at her unwanted admirers. At one point, she and two woman friends even chase a van down the street, yelling at "three heavyset guys" who had asked them where they were going.

By the end of the summer, Miller is sleeping only one or two hours per night. She almost misses the final critique for her print-making class because, in her exhaustion, she has fallen back asleep after waking from a fitful sleep that morning.

Personally, we thought this was the most instructive part of Miller's book. In our view, this is the part of Miller's book which most strongly justifies the highlighted judgment by Weiner:
WEINER: “Know My Name” is a beautifully written, powerful, important story. It marks the debut of a gifted young writer. It deserves a wide audience—but it especially deserves to be read by the next generation of young men, the could-be Brocks and Elliots, who have grown up seeing women’s bodies as property to plunder, who believe that sex is their right.
Question: Are most members of that "next generation of young men" actually "could-be Brocks and Elliots," except in the most attenuated technical sense?

Weiner can't seem to stop herself from tossing off such remarks. There isn't even any reason to say that most members of that next generation will end up harassing young women on the street, in the way Miller describes in her Providence chapter.

That said, it seems to us that young men have a lot to gain from reading about the experiences of young women like Miller.

Miller's chapter on her East Coast summer recalls the videotape which drew attention in 2014—a videotape which showed the catcalls a young woman experiences walking around New York City.

Miller account of her Providence term struck us as highly instructive. That said, there are potential problems with Miller's presentation, even here.

Because Know My Name is a personal memoir, we of course have no way of vouching for the accuracy of Miller's accounts of these repetitive events.

Beyond that, we couldn't avoid noting a certain "novelized" feel to the events described in this chapter. Had Miller never been subjected to this type of behavior on the streets of Palo Alto and Santa Barbara?

No such prior events are described. The streets of Providence almost seem to be presented as the scene of an unwanted, unholy baptism. We couldn't help wondering about the selective feel of the presentation, even as we wished that it would trigger a wider attempt to describe and document, and publicize, young women's unwanted experiences in this general area.

In her account of her East Coast summer, Miller briefly moves away from the largest problem with the writing in her skillfully-written book. That problem involves the way her story-telling reflects the values and practices of this, The Age of the Novel, in which our liberal tribe toys with basic facts and elementary logic to fashion perfect morality tales with perfect heroes and villains.

The sexual assault which Miller experienced quickly became such a novelized tale within the upper-end press. This was true long before Miller discussed these events at all, long before her name was even known.

In the course of this novelization, some basic facts quickly disappeared. Elementary matters of logic slid beneath the waves as well, as we in the liberal world took to fashioning our latest perfect tale.

In reading the first upper-end reviews of Miller's book, we were struck by a pair of numbers which didn't bark—by two significant numbers which seemed to have disappeared.

When we read those first reviews, we were struck by the absence of these numbers in thousand-word newspaper essays. We were even more struck when we read Miller's book—a book of some 320 pages in which these numbers don't appear.

As these numbers disappeared, so did some basic questions about this high-profile assault. In our view, the most obvious villain in this whole event was thereby granted a reprieve. A certain type of "moral panic" seems involved in this repetitive tribal conduct.

This type of behavior is on wide display in this gifted young writer's book. Would that older, more experienced writers were willing and able to say so!

Tomorrow: Two numbers, plus a villain

The blood lead levels of yesteryear!


Looking in, once again, on the devolving culture:
Luckily, the people at Slate keep "working while other folk sleep. We say that because they offered these posts, in rapid-fire succession, on today's "Recently in Slate" basic contents page:
STOYA / OCT 23, 2019 / 5:55 AM
My Hang-Up in Bed Is So Basic that I Feel Like a Freak

JAMILAH LAMIEUX / OCT 23, 2019 / 6:00 AM
Dear Care and Feeding: My Boyfriend's Daughter Forbids Us From Having Sex

JAMILAH LAMIEUX / OCT 23, 2019 / 6:01 AM
I'm 23, and My Mom Wants Me to Visit Every Weekend

My Secret Winter Moisturizer Is Meant for Pregnant Ladies

Help! My fiancé falls asleep on the couch almost every night.
At that point, the people of Slate scattered in maybe three reports about actual news topics. Soon, though, we were returned to our floundering tribe's rapidly evolving idiocratic culture:
Celebrity Food TV Has Gone Too Far

Dolly Parton May Be the Least-Disliked Famous Person in the World

MARISSA MARTINELLI / OCT 23, 2019 / 11:15 AM
Here's What's Disappearing From Netflix in November

Help! I Need My Mom to Start Wearing Underwear When She Visits
At that point, the afternoon shift took over! Question: Does anything about this topic selection seem peculiar to you?

Then too, we have the Here's to Help section in today's New York Times. Kidding you not, the feature today on the paper's page A3 (hard-copy only) starts exactly like this:
Here to Help

How do you decide on a hobby? Here are some ways to figure out what is best suited to you. TARA PARKER-POPE
Parker-Pope is back to puzzle the world again with her never-ending advice about the various complexities involving in selecting and maintaining a hobby.

Today, she offers an array of suggestions about how to choose a hobby. Her suggestions seem so inane that it's hard to know what to say about them. Here's one example, exactly as it appears in today's print editions:
Increase your reading. You might decide to collect rare books or make it a point to explore independent bookstores. You can take a writing course, attend story slam events or start a blog.
You might decide to collect rare books! Who knows? Maybe that inexpensive hobby would be "best suited to you!"

Aristotle is widely said to have said it: "Man [sic] is the rational animal."

The Times has been working very hard to debunk this time-honored bromide. Day after day, we think of the things we've learned from Kevin Drum's work about the very high blood lead levels which prevailed, all over the country, when today'a adults were kids.

"Idiocracy," Mike Judge said.
To us, he's the new Aristotle!

Full disclosure:
We were assisted in this analysis by Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, a despondent group of international experts who report from the years which follow the global conflagration they describe as Mister Trump's War.

They report through the nocturnal transmissions the haters refer to as "dreams."

THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: Emergence of a gifted young writer!


Who may have her thumb on the scale:
Jennifer Weiner thinks very highly of Chanel Miller as a gifted young writer, and we aren't here to tell you she's wrong.

On Sunday, October 13, Weiner reviewed Miller's new book, Know My Name: A Memoir, for the New York Times Book Review section. (Weiner's review had appeared on line several weeks before.)

"Miller is a poetic, precise writer with an eye for detail," Weiner writes in her review. She also says the following, and we won't tell you these judgments are wrong:
" 'Know My Name' is a beautifully written, powerful, important story. It marks the debut of a gifted young writer."
We aren't literary critics around here, but we aren't going to tell you that these judgments are wrong. As it turns out, Miller's mother is a writer, one who has written four books in Chinese. Based upon the memoir in question, it sounds like Miller came of age with the thought that she too might become a writer. Her book seems to the work of an actual writer from its first few words on.

That said, Miller is also a young writer, and her book was written during a somewhat peculiar era. We're referring to this era as The Age of the Novel. It's an era during which the liberal world has been constructing novelized versions of highly important real-world events, sanding off all complexity until we're left with the primal anger, fear and loathing traditionally associated with the world of the fairy tale.

According to Weiner, Miller is a gifted writer, but she's one who is also quite young. There would be no reason to expect such a young person to overturn or challenge the cultural oddities of her time and her place, and it seems to us that she doesn't do so—not at all—in her well written new book.

Upper-end mainstream reviewers like Weiner aren't going to notice such facts. Consider the passage, shown below, in which Weiner attempts to capture Miller's strengths as a writer:
WEINER (10/13/19): “Know My Name” is an act of reclamation. On every page, Miller unflattens herself, returning from Victim or Emily Doe to Chanel, a beloved daughter and sister, whose mother emigrated from China to learn English and become a writer and whose father is a therapist; a girl who was so shy that, in an elementary school play about a safari, she played the grass. Miller reads “Rumi, Woolf, Didion, Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Banana Yoshimoto, Miranda July, Chang-rae Lee, Carlos Bulosan.” She rides her bike “through the Baylands … across crunchy salt and pickleweed.” She fosters elderly rescue dogs with names like Butch and Remy and Squid. She rages against a form that identifies “victim’s race” as white. “Never in my life have I checked only white. You cannot note my whiteness without acknowledging I am equal parts Chinese.”
In that passage, we're told that Miller isn't just a gifted young writer. We're told that she's also been a reader—and that she fosters elderly rescue dogs with names like Butch and Squid.

Perhaps a bit oddly, we're also told, or seem to be told, that Miller "was so shy" when she was a girl that "in an elementary school play about a safari, she played the grass." Weiner seems to present this as a fact, as a fact on a par with the factual statements about Miller's mother and father.

Did Miller actually "play the grass" in a grade school production? We're prepared to assume that she did. That said, a slightly less accepting reviewer might be struck by the way Miller "unflattens herself" with this revelation.

Depending on where you start counting, the claim about that grade school play is the very first claim Miller makes in her book. After a brief Introduction, in which Miller reveals her age, her Chapter 1 starts like this:
MILLER (page 1): I am shy. In elementary school for a play about a safari, everyone else was an animal. I was grass. I've never asked a question in a large lecture hall. You can find me hidden in the corner of any exercise class. I'll apologize if you bump into me. I'll accept every pamphlet you hand out on the street. I've always rolled my shopping cart back to its place of origin. If there's no more half-and-half on the counter at the coffee shop, I'll drink my coffee black. If I sleep over, the blankets will look like they've never been touched.

I've never thrown my own birthday party. I'll put on three sweaters before I ask you to turn on the heat. I'm okay with losing board games. I stuff my coins haphazardly into my purse to avoid holding up the checkout line. When I was little I wanted to grow up and become a mascot, so I'd have the freedom to dance without being seen.
There follows a third paragraph which seems intended to demonstrate how shy—or perhaps, how thoughtful and understanding—Miller is.

"My whole life I've counted in tigers," she writes at the end of this third paragraph. She is now on the second page of her thoroughly written new book.

Is Miller so shy that she played the grass in a grade school production? For ourselves, it's hard to know how to react to the several claims lodged within that statement.

For her own part, Weiner accepts this declaration on face. She seems to say that it's merely one part of the way Miller "unflattens herself" in her book.

That said, Miller never exactly explains why she starts her book with a page-long rumination about how shy she is. A more searching reviewer might notice that this opening passage defines Miller, not simply as shy, but also as the most accommodating person who ever appeared on the earth:

She hurries away from the checkout line with her purse all a mess, then puts her shopping cart where it belongs. That's how "shy" she is, based on her own self-description!

Miller does strike us as a gifted young writer, and writers gotta write. That said, she starts her book, not merely by unflattening herself, but also by presenting herself in a rather peculiar light.

She won't ask you to turn on the heat, nor will she tell the barista that there's no half-and-half! This is a rather peculiar self-portrait, but Weiner is willing to plow right ahead. She repeats its first presentation as established fact and sees no reason to wonder about the way Miller "unflattens" herself.

As noted, Miller is a very young person. With perfect justice, Weiner describes her as "a gifted young writer."

Miller is gifted but young. For ourselves, we would never expect a young person to straighten out the cultural foibles and failures of the floundering adult culture into which she's emerging.

We especially wouldn't expect that of a young person who is writing about having been sexually assaulted, and a duly constituted jury unanimously decided that Miller was sexually assaulted in the aftermath of a Stanford frat party in January 2015.

We would never expect such a person to overthrow the cultural practices which define this, The Age of the Novel. It's an era in which our liberal world is strongly inclined to discard plainly relevant facts; to perhaps invent inaccurate facts; to stress wholly irrelevant facts; and to ignore the most elementary bits of logic, all in service to the need to construct simplified stories designed to encourage anger and loathing by creating simplified, highly familiar, standardized heroes and villains.

Again and again, our floundering tribe's novelized stories have tended to bleed into the realm of the Brothers Grimm—into the scary, familiar realm of the fairy tale.

We wouldn't ask a very young person who has sustained an act of sexual assault to address this peculiar, unhelpful tribal culture. We would perhaps think that major journalists might be able to take such steps—and then there's the (former) president of Stanford University, on whose campus this act of assault occurred.

Why did Miller, a gifted young writer, start her book with that slightly peculiar, perhaps self-flattering act of self-description? We can't answer that question, but we can say this:

In Miller's book, but also in major reviews, some elementary facts have disappeared and some obvious questions have gone unaddressed. Beyond that, one apparent villain, if it's villains we need, has been allowed to slide from the scene.

Tomorrow, we'll start asking why.

Tomorrow: A pair of terrible numbers

"The American people are pretty sharp!"


No distraction left behind:
In this morning's column, Paul Krugman offers some basic words of caution about the politics of Medicare-for-all in an election year.

That said, we'll admit that we were provisionally puzzled, as we often are, by something in Krugman's second paragraph. The column started like this:
KRUGMAN (10/22/19): On Sunday, Elizabeth Warren said that she would soon release a plan explaining how she intends to pay for “Medicare for all.” Like many policy wonks, I’ll be waiting with bated breath; this could be a make or break moment for her campaign, and possibly for the 2020 election.

There are three things you need to know about Medicare for all, which in the current debate has come to mean a pure single-payer health insurance system, in which the government provides all coverage, with no role for private insurers.
As we've noted in the past, we've long been puzzled by the description of Medicare as a "single-payer" system. We've been puzzled because there are two major "payers" in the current Medicare system—the federal government on the one hand, and the individual health care recipient on the other.

Why call the system "singe-payer" when there are two major payers? Such matters are rarely allowed to intrude on our hapless American discourse.

That said, "Medicare for all," as formulated by Bernie Sanders, really would be "single-payer." Essentially, the federal government would pay the whole tab. Earlier this year, PolitiFact spelled it out:
GREENBERG (2/19/19): For individuals, there would be no costs—no deductibles, no copays or coinsurance. The two exceptions would be for some prescription drugs—though that would be limited to $200 a year—and possibly for long-term care.


Medicare for All is much more generous than the current Medicare program. Right now, the Medicare program is for Americans 65 and over; they receive care, but they’re also responsible for part of the costs. Unlike traditional Medicare, Sanders’ Medicare for All would cover medical bills completely, with no burden on the patient. There would be no Medigap insurance or Medicare Advantage.
Presumably, this explains why Krugman refers to "Medicare for all" as "pure single-payer." That said, how many voters understand such matters?

Not too many, we'll guess. As a nation, we spend all our time discussing whatever Donald J. Trump most recently said, preferably in the last fifteen minutes.

Today, the thing Trump said in the last fifteen minutes involved the fraught term "lynching." In response, everyone has swung into action, from Whoopi and Newt on down.

In theory, Medicare-for-all would be a dream in certain major respects. As with the financing of public schools, so too here—there would be no charge to the individual who received some medical treatment.

That doesn't mean that MFA isn't tricky as a political proposition. Krugman explains some of the problems—and eventually, he also says this:
KRUGMAN: An independent estimate from the Urban Institute (which is, for what it’s worth, left-leaning) suggests that a highly comprehensive Medicare-for-all plan, similar to what Sanders is proposing, would substantially increase overall health spending, although a more modest plan wouldn’t.
Why did we stumble over that? Here's why:

On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to read that Medicare-for-all would "increase overall health spending." If everyone is covered, and no one has to pay anything out of pocket, it stands to reason that many more people would receive many more medical services.

On the other hand, there's this:

At present, we already spend two to three times as much on health care, per person, as any comparable nation. In the abstract, it's hard to believe that a competent overhaul of the health care system might not be able to reduce overall spending.

That said, the question of America's massive health care spending is virtually non-existent within the American press. Donald J. Trump said "lynching" today! The children are struggling with that!

"The American people are pretty sharp!" Plainly, it's the oldest song in the nation's political song book.

Except we actually aren't pretty sharp, or so the anthropologists tell us, at least not when it comes to conceptual matters like this.

Our most brilliant elites are in charge of this game. As Donald J. Trump seems to know full well, few distractions will be left behind!

THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: Journalist pleased that we don't know the facts!


A retreat to the realm of the novel:
On Sunday, October 13, in the New York Times' Book Review section, Jennifer Weiner reviewed Chanel Miller's new book, Know My Name: A Memoir.

The review was very favorable. Weiner described Miller as "a poetic, precise writer with an eye for detail." She described Know My Name as "a beautifully written, powerful, important story" which " marks the debut of a gifted young writer."

Plainly, Chanel Miller actually is a writer. Tomorrow, we'll look at the intriguing paragraphs with which she opens her book.

In January 2015, Miller also became the unfortunate victim of a widely-publicized sexual assault—the so-called "Stanford rape case." The case was widely discussed, for several years, within the mainstream press.

For that reason, the most interesting element of Weiner's review may be a wholly irrelevant factual error she seems to make. Weiner makes this apparent error as she provides the basic background to the story Miller tells.

Weiner's completely irrelevant apparent error occurs in the passage shown below. It shares space in this passage with two other basic elements in the type of modern anti-journalism we have described in the past as "the novelization of news:"
WEINER (10/13/19): In January 2015, Miller was 23 and a recent college graduate when she went to a fraternity party with her sister and a friend. She sipped warm beer, tossed down vodka, went outside to pee. “I was bored, at ease, drunk and extremely tired, less than 10 minutes from home. I had outgrown everything around me. And that is where my memory goes black, where the reel cuts off.” (A good thing, as it spares us the specifics of exactly what happened after Turner got her alone behind a dumpster, the kinds of details that have become commonplace in the small but emerging genre of survivor memoirs. If you aren’t already angry, consider that the genre of survivor memoirs is a thing that exists, and that Miller joins the likes of Jaycee Dugard and Michelle Knight, abductees who wrote about the horrors they endured in their captivities.)
Know My Name is a fascinating, intriguingly written book. That said, the passage shown above—from the Sunday New York Times—is fascinating in its own right.

What's the wholly irrelevant error Weiner seems to make in that passage? It's her statement that Miller was 23 when the assault in question occurred.

If that's an error, it's wholly irrelevant—so why do we find it intriguing? We do so because, quite literally, what's shown below is the opening sentence in just the second paragraph of Miller's fascinating book:
"In January 2015, I was twenty-two, living and working in my home town of Palo Alto, California."
In the winter if 2015, Miller was 22! In the second paragraph of her book, Miller makes this unambiguous statement. But even as she raves about the superb writing found in Miller's book, Weiner misstates this elementary fact.

Let's be clear! As suggested above, it doesn't actually matter whether Miller was 22 or 23 on the winter night in question. But we're struck by Weiner's apparent error—by what it can be said to show about this journalistic and political age, which we'll now call The Age of the Novel.

As we've noted in the past, everyone makes mistakes. If Weiner misstated Miller's age, it's an irrelevant error.

That said, Weiner would be misstating a very basic fact—a fact which appears at the start of paragraph 2 of Miller's memoir. As such, this apparent error can be said to help us see something important about this current era:

In this anti-journalistic age, basic facts no longer count! Or at least, elementary facts no longer seem to matter in the way they once supposedly did.

Is it true that basic facts no longer matter to major journalists, or no longer matter as much? In this instance, such a claim may seem absurdly harsh, but let's turn to something else Weiner says in that summary paragraph:
WEINER: ...[Miller] sipped warm beer, tossed down vodka, went outside to pee. “I was bored, at ease, drunk and extremely tired, less than 10 minutes from home. I had outgrown everything around me. And that is where my memory goes black, where the reel cuts off.” (A good thing, as it spares us the specifics of exactly what happened after Turner got her alone behind a dumpster, the kinds of details that have become commonplace in the small but emerging genre of survivor memoirs...)
What a remarkable statement! Weiner, a major American journalist, seems to say we should be grateful because we've been "spare[d]...the specifics of exactly what happened" in the widely-discussed incident under review.

Question: When's the last time you saw a journalist make such an unusual statement? When's the last time you saw a journalist say how lucky we are that we don't exactly know what happened in a widely-discussed, widely-debated, highly significant incident?

Because we're sympathetic people, we moderns will almost surely agree to agree on a basic point. We'll agree to agree, almost surely correctly, that Weiner didn't mean for us to take that statement in the way we're now suggesting.

Instead, we'll agree to agree that Weiner more likely meant something like this:
What happened after Miller's "memory went black" was surely very ugly. As such, we've been spared knowledge of the type of specifics decent people don't want to read about in detail.
We'll agree to agree, almost surely correctly, that Weiner meant something like that. We'll also agree to look beyond a basic fact Weiner omits in her account of the way about Miller's "memory [went] black."

What basic fact can Weiner perhaps be said to omit, or gloss, or fail to articulate in that summary paragraph—indeed, in her entire review? The basic fact is this:

According to Miller's account, her memory went black at roughly midnight that night. That was roughly an hour before the assault in question took place.

According to Miller's account, her memory didn't go black during the assault. Her memory went black roughly one hour earlier.

As such, it isn't just details of the assault which Miller can't remember. She explicitly says that she doesn't remember various phone calls she made that night. She doesn't remember other events as well.

As such, Miller has acknowledged—though only implicitly—that she doesn't remember "how Turner got her alone behind a dumpster" that night. Before the age of the novel took hold, this might have led a major journalist to note a basic corollary:

Because she was "blackout drunk" at the time, Miller doesn't remember if Turner actually "got her behind a dumpster" at all, what with all the obvious baggage Weiner's turn of phrase implies.

So far, we've seen Weiner make an extremely basic factual error. We've also seen her thank the gods that we don't know exactly what happened on the night in question.

We've also seen her omit basic facts about the timing of the evening's events, the events we can't exactly describe.

That said, the passage we've posted above includes one more basic element which helps define the prevailing culture of the modern journalistic novel. We refer to the part of the passage where Weiner might be said to prompt us in a particular way:
WEINER: ...[Miller] sipped warm beer, tossed down vodka, went outside to pee. “I was bored, at ease, drunk and extremely tired, less than 10 minutes from home. I had outgrown everything around me. And that is where my memory goes black, where the reel cuts off.” (A good thing, as it spares us the specifics of exactly what happened after Turner got her alone behind a dumpster, the kinds of details that have become commonplace in the small but emerging genre of survivor memoirs. If you aren’t already angry, consider that the genre of survivor memoirs is a thing that exists, and that Miller joins the likes of Jaycee Dugard and Michelle Knight, abductees who wrote about the horrors they endured in their captivities.)
Weiner has misstated one elementary fact. She has omitted or glossed another fact—a fact which isn't quite so meaningless.

She has even said she's glad that we don't know exactly what happened! Arguably, the reason for that somewhat peculiar statement may now be more clear:

The point of Weiner's summary is to make us angry, not to make basic facts clear.

In the reports which will follow, we'll be referring to the current age as The (journalistic) Age of the Novel, not as The Age of the Fairy Tale. But might we think of the Brothers Grimm as we read this passage by Weiner, in which complicating facts are dropped, perhaps in the search for increased anger and fear?

Tomorrow: The premises of our report

Also this: For a brief overview of this series, see yesterday's report