April 26, 2014

"You're supposed to be a delicate white or a delicate Latina girl."/"I'm a mixed girl."/"Ok well."

Horrific people in the news. Never heard of them before. Old man with no decent right to be jealous is jealous of his arguably beautiful, inarguably younger girlfriend. Somewhat young woman lets the whole world eavesdrop on her pathetic argument with a repulsive billionaire.

"@Voxdotcom… has no idea of what Japanese popular culture is like, does it? Somebody needs to start calling this Vox-shaming, or something."

Says Moe Lane, linking to my post "Avril Lavigne picked a bad week to go all racist" and something David said in the comments: "If examined closely Japanese popular culture would explode the brain of the average political correctness warrior in the USA."

"If Vox wants to criticize cultural appropriation [then] it should find writers who are a little less provincial and a little more experienced with the culture in question," says Moe Lane, embedding "a not entirely atypical example... chosen partially because the artist (Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) is both popular and known for her adoption of Western styles and themes – but mostly because it is, by our standards, highly insane," and I have watched this astounding video, which had me alternately laughing and saying "Oh, no!"



That was truly mindbending... a great escape from the dreary, daily American chidings about what is and is not appropriate.

ADDED: In the comments yesterday Mary Beth also pointed to the "PonPonPon" which she said was "pretty popular on the internet despite its racism." ("Skip to the 34 second mark to see what I mean.")

The trout lilies are in bloom again.



Such a strange flower...

Meanwhile, at Meade's, "I once got lost, but now I'm found...."

"Celebration, below its twee veneer and even below its shoddy craftsmanship, is a pretty sustainable idea...."

"... Public spaces, walkable streets, downscaled housing, and good schools, all within a compact downtown. Even its critics have to admit that it's better than swampy, sprawling hellscape that lies just outside of it, dripping with strip malls and sweaty drive-thrus."
So why don't we think of it as a success? For one thing, the mere whiff of utopia sets our teeth on edge these days. After a century of high-profile failures—from Fordlandia to Helicon Home Colony—most of us can't shake the idea that behind those neocolonial shutters lurks something sinister, whether as simple as tax evasion or as truly nightmarish as a violent cult. In other words, Celebration is not only a victim of its own marketing, but a victim of a public that perceives planned communities as deeply creepy....
That's healthy isn't it, our suspicion of planned communities?  We perceive them as creepy because excessive planning, imposed on us by experts who purport to know how we should live, is creepy.

The sudden, shocking death of Janis Joplin... the big Broadway show.

"I mean, shows close all the time — I get that. But what happened with ‘Janis’ was surreal," said one of the performers. But what was surreal?

"In his animal-law classes, Wise told me, he has his students consider the actual case of a 4-month-old anencephalic baby..."

"... that is, a child born without a complete brain. Her brain stem allows her to breathe and digest, but she has no consciousness or sentience. No feelings or awareness whatsoever. He asks the class why we can’t do anything we want with such a child, even eat her."
“We’re all instantly repelled by that, of course,” Wise said. When he asked his students that question, they “get all tied up in knots and say things like ‘because she has a soul’ or ‘all life is sacred.’ I say: ‘I’m sorry, we’re not talking about any characteristics here. It’s that she has the form of a human being.’ Now I’m not saying that a court or legislature can’t say that just having a human form is in and of itself a sufficient condition for rights. I’m simply saying that it’s irrational. . . . Why is a human individual with no cognitive abilities whatsoever a legal person with rights, while cognitively complex beings such as Tommy [the chimpanzee], or a dolphin, or an orca are things with no rights at all?”
The link goes to a NYT Magazine article by Charles Siebert titled "Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?" I'm sure the part I've excerpted will cause many readers to want to talk about abortion.  The line — from law professor Steven Wise — "I’m not saying that a court or legislature can’t say that just having a human form is in and of itself a sufficient condition for rights" — seems to raise the topic without saying the word. It's a strangely twisted sentence, especially coming from a law professor who is highlighting the demands he makes on his students to think and speak precisely and clearly.

"I’m not saying that a court or legislature can’t say that just having a human form is in and of itself a sufficient condition for rights." There are 2 obvious negatives in that sentence and a few more fillips of semi-negation ("just," "in and of itself," and "sufficient"). The repetition of "to say" is also strange: I'm not saying that other people can't say. That's not the same as: I'm saying that other people can say. What is he saying?

Should the opposite of miracles count against sainthood?

"An Italian man was crushed to death on Thursday by a giant crucifix dedicated to the late Pope John Paul II, just days before the Polish pontiff will be made a saint in a ceremony at the Vatican."
In a bizarre coincidence, the 21-year-old man was reported to have been living in a street named after Pope John XXIII – who will also be canonised in the ceremony on Sunday, in an event that is unprecedented in the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church.

The man, named as Marco Gusmini, was posing for a photograph with a group of friends in front of the 100ft-high cross when it suddenly collapsed.
(There's a photograph of the fallen crucifix at the link, where the article mentions the unusual bending forward of the sculpture in its intact condition, which you can see here.)

"U.S. Reporters Grill Obama in Asia: Did You Like Your Green-Tea Ice Cream?"

The state of journalism today.

The President later burbled about it to the Empress.

ADDED: The "it" in "burbled about it" is ambiguous. Here's the reported colloquy with the Empress Michiko:
“The press was asking if I enjoyed the green tea ice cream,” Obama said.

“Did you enjoy it?” the empress asked.

“Yes, absolutely,” he replied.
I've made a multiple choice question in the style of the new SAT approach to understanding words in context.

What does "it" mean in the phrase "burbled about it"?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

NYT editors embrace what they call "Wise Controls on E-Cigarettes."

Because when it comes to puffing on e-cigarettes: "Nobody knows what the net impact of all this would be on the nation’s health." And: "Dozens of studies are underway to find out."

If you're less of an enthusiast for nannyism, you might think that the studies should come first and that ignorance — nobody knows! — is an insufficient foundation for government action.

But think of the children:
Some nonsmokers might become addicted to nicotine after smoking e-cigarettes and move on to regular cigarettes. And young people who smoke only e-cigarettes can still suffer damage to the developing brain. 
It's not just young people, of course. I "smoke" e-cigarettes for fun sometimes, and I'm not and have never been a member of the Communist Party smoking public.

April 25, 2014

Turtle, without and with duck.







(These photos are by me, not Meade. These are not dogs!)

"It was neither psychic nor much of a massage... He was more like a $250-an-hour life coach who happened to have good hands..."

"... which he ran lightly over my arms, legs, lower back and abdomen. He said he did this to get a better read of my energy. And when he was done, he reported, 'There’s nothing wrong with you, Jeremy.' He reassured me I was just sensitive."

ADDED: In this week's episode of Skeptoid — #411 — Brian Dunning returns to what was the very first topic of the long running podcast: the human body's energy fields.

"People in Madison are ready to talk about race. It isn't fun, but it is necessary."

"Madison has to prove itself as liberal and progressive right here and right now...."
Racism is inherent in people's disbelief that there is inequality in Madison. It is possible to be progressive and ethical and still have racist tendencies. You cannot get rid of those racist tendencies by ignoring them. It might make you vulnerable and it might make you feel bad about yourself for a little while, but once you see the racism here for yourself, you won't be able to ignore it anymore.
ADDED: This is that thing of liberals getting after liberals for not being liberal enough. It reminds me of Phil Ochs singing "Love Me, I'm a Liberal." The liberal's desire to be loved for being liberal: 1. Is ludicrous and just makes you want to puncture the vanity, and 2. Creates great vulnerability to attacks based on almost nothing.

At the Dog-or-Hand-Puppet? Café...



... you never know quite what you are looking at.

(Photo from the best dog photoblog on the internet, Dogging Meade.)

"The next time you interact with a teenager, try to have a conversation with him or her about a challenging topic."

"Ask him to explain his views. Push her to go further in her answers. Hopefully, you won’t get the response Turkle did when interviewing a 16-year-old boy about how technology has impacted his communication: 'Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.'"

From "My Students Don't Know How to Have a Conversation/Students’ reliance on screens for communication is detracting—and distracting—from their engagement in real-time talk," by Paul Barnwell.

Turkle is Sherry Turkle, author of "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Ourselves."

Avril Lavigne picked a bad week to go all racist.

She's in big trouble for this:



Do you not see what's so cliven about it? Well, then, you might want to submit to Vox, the website that explains everything to the point needed by an adequately intelligent but generally pretty busy person:
Stone-faced, expressionless Japanese sidekick dancer ladies? Check. Inexplicable sushi-eating and photo-taking scenes? Check. Centering the song on a weird, creepily sexual dubstep chorus that rhymes "Hello Kitty" with "you're so pretty?" Congratulations, Avril — you've hit some kind of Orientalist Japanese Stereotype trifecta....

It's always hard to pinpoint background cultural influences on art specifically, but it makes sense that cultural penetration would produce unintentionally offensive cultural appropriation....

"RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!!," Avril tweeted. "I love Japanese culture...." In her defense, this kind of makes sense. Japanese pop does have a pretty camp vein running through it, one that "Hello Kitty" apes.
"Hello Kitty" apes? I love those 3 words together, because I can picture "Hello Kitty" Apes... just like I can picture "King Kong" Kitties, but do not market a product called King Kong Kitties. That would be racist.
Racist or otherwise culturally insensitive depictions of non-Americans have been around as long as America has.
Ironically, that Vox sentence is culturally insensitive to America's native people, who must be the subjects of the oldest culturally insensitive depictions in this portion of the globe (which has been around long before America):



But perhaps all of this is beyond what needs to be explained to the adequately intelligent, yet awfully busy inhabitants of the internet.

ADDED: The Vox-shaming continues here

Remember when the President called us to "a national conversation on race" and told us to "Be blunt"?

Back in 1997.
A therapeutic model of group dynamics seems to underlie the president’s initiative. We are supposed to be getting our long-hidden fears, resentments, and frustrations out in the open. "Be blunt," the president instructed [the audience at his "artfully conducted" town hall meeting in Akron, Ohio].

Mansplaining mansplaining.

Here (and it's a woman doing the mansplaining of mansplaining, which, she mansplains, women do too).

"Compare this reception of Sotomayor’s deeply personal dissent with how her colleagues talk about Thurgood Marshall’s time at the court..."

Dahlia Lithwick invites us into the world of comparative race consciousness. There are so many disparate points of comparison. Thurgood Marshall was a black man born in 1908. Sonia Sotomayor is a Hispanic woman born in 1954. And Lithwick is comparing written responses to a written judicial opinion and spoken reminiscences about private personal interactions with a colleague. But anyway, here are Lithwick's musings:
Maybe the outcry at Sotomayor’s reflections on why race and racism still matter is merely a function of her tone. Nobody likes to be told they are out of touch with reality, even if they work in a palace and surround themselves with silent, sock-footed clerks. Or maybe it was different when Marshall lectured them, or browbeat them into changing language in written opinions because he was a man. Or maybe they endured it because he was funny. Or maybe, and I suspect this is it, they could hear him because he was a part of the era that the majority of the current court wants to relegate to history: Marshall argued Brown. But Brown solved racism! 
There's no reason to suspect that anyone on the Court thinks "Brown solved racism!" Does anyone anywhere think that?
Maybe Marshall was allowed to talk about race because Marshall lived in a time the current justices still acknowledge was an era of “real” racism. Which in their view ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Or maybe Marshall was allowed to speak so pointedly and openly about the intersection of race, law and his own life, precisely because, as Justice White explained it, White and his colleagues were well aware of all that they “did not know due to the limitations of our experience.” But maybe the time of acknowledging that you don’t know as much as you thought you knew about race is over. Because, seemingly, and by popular acclaim, racism itself is over.
Where is this "popular acclaim"? Stressing the importance of "reality," Lithwick invents a cartoon picture of how other people think. The issue that divides the Court isn't whether or not racial problems persist, but whether the government should be classifying human beings by race as it goes about trying to solve the various problems and risks making them worse.

And Lithwick never even mentions Clarence Thomas, who would seem to offer a second basis for comparison. How have his colleagues received the things he's written that disrupted the way they wanted to think about race? To be fair, Clarence Thomas did not write an opinion in this new case Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative, Integration and Immigration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary, which had 5 opinions, only one of which was a dissenting opinion. Thomas joined Justice Scalia's opinion, which deserves a separate post. I'm just calling attention to Thomas because Lithwick is ignoring him, even as she patronizes those who act like it's passé to acknowledge that you don’t know as much as you thought you knew about race. Those other people need to acknowledge that they don't know as much as they think, but the things not known surely don't include the things Clarence Thomas has been writingnotably in Grutter v. Bollinger, which begins with a passage from Frederick Douglass, who was born 90 years before Thurgood Marshall. 

What happened to Robert De Niro's iPhone?

Via HuffPo. I've got to put this below the fold because I don't like something that moves on its own on the front page. You've got to click the speaker icon for the sound. It's worth it. I watched it about 20 times, mesmerized.

"Sue. Since you last left me, my heart has felt a great loss...."

A newspaper personal ad saved from 1973:



Click to enlarge. Via Reddit.

Cloven Bundy.

Are people deliberately making devil jokes or is this a case of the unconscious machinery of spellchecking spitting out wit?

My lassitubularity on the occasion of the phony coulrophobic reaction to the redesigning of Ronald McDonald's costume.

The Washington Post collects commentary:
Mr. McDonald’s old mustard-yellow jumpsuit and candy cane sleeves are out."Now he’s sporting a pair of 'manpris,' a red blazer and a bowtie.
1. I don't really care what Ronald McDonald is wearing these days — couldn't even remember what his old getup was — but apparently some people do.

2. The old old comedy topic of clowns being scary is predictably recycled in the commentary about the new costume. I find that sad. Or creepy! And scary! I have coulrophobiaphobia — a fear of the fear of clowns. Look: Here's a whole Wikipedia article on the subject of coulrophobia, with citations to the relevant episodes of "The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld" and "Frasier" and the Stephen King book on the topic and the "internet meme" and the Alice Cooper song and the 2009 movie "Zombieland." Noted. A thousand times.

3. I almost clicked on the link on "manpris" — which my reader's mind pronounced as "man priss" — then I saw it was a portmanteau of "man" and "capris," obviously pronounced "man preeze," and I was spared the trouble of clicking, and I needed to be spared, because I'm experiencing internet lassitude — let's portmanteau that into lassitube — this morning. Is there anything new this morning — new and interesting? What if that question itself becomes horribly old and boring? Then you're suffering from lassitube, and even the coinage lassitube is unutterably dull.

4. Now, pull up your short or long pants and get to work.

5. Why are you still here? Why am I adding to this numbered list? I wanted you to know that I found it vaguely interesting — moderately anti-lassitubular — that I'd typo'd "The Washington Pose" as I wrote this pose post.

April 24, 2014

"Well, it's a little private, but she's doin' somethin' for her dad..."

"... right? Got it."

The dog...

... knows/nose.

"Given his grand claims regarding what American freedom means, it is inadequate to call him historically illiterate or misinformed about the conditions of slavery..."

"... the constant, brutal violence that reinforced it and the way it robbed people of the ability to make the most basic choices about their lives...."
He talks about freedom and “ancestral” rights, but grazes his cattle on public land—our land, not his homestead—without paying his share.... Too many conservatives have been charmed by the notion of a cowboy singing the anthem on horseback and threatening to turn guns on bureaucrats. They can’t just proclaim themselves stunned here....

"Fashion is reactionary... If it’s long, it gets short, and if it’s short, it gets long."

We've been having "a close-to-the-body moment." "The shrunken silhouette has been dominant... The teeny jacket and impossibly narrow sleeves. It’s logical there is a change."

Look out! Everything's about to get huge!

My favorite theme in humor has to do with playing with size — mixing up big and small. And my favorite thing about fashion is humor. So I am up for this!

What's the most interesting/coolest oversized/undersized thing you've ever worn — not as a costume or to horse around but as actual clothing that was part of your wardrobe?

The NYT mourns its loss of Nate Silver...

... with this tragically striving effort at data-crunching and display.

Scott Walker named one of the world's 100 most influential people (according to Time).

And the write-up is by Chris Christie (who's not).
[Scott Walker's] battle to bring fairness to the taxpayers through commonsense reform of the public-sector collective-bargaining laws brought him scorn from the special interests and a recall election. Despite these threats, he stood tall. His reforms have brought tax reductions to his citizens and economic growth to his state. They have allowed public workers the freedom to choose whether to belong to a union. They have made Wisconsin a better place to live and work.
Doesn't that read like it was written for a children's newspaper?

ADDED: I don't know if Christie wrote that or just agreed to put his name on it, because from what I've seen so far on this Time list, it's all written in that flat, simple tone that assumes the reader has a mental age of about 10. For example: "Holder uses his power to defend Americans’ freedoms and thus our values of democracy and justice."

AND: "How much suffering can human beings tolerate? Unless he starts taking care of his people, the young generalissimo may be the first Kim to find out." And here's "Madeleine Albright" on Putin: "History is filled with aggressors who triumphed for a moment. Then failed." And: "Gray Davis" on Jerry Brown: "No longer the new kid, he’s now the adult in the room — the wise steward of our state’s resources." And: "If Kirsten Gillibrand wants to be a rock star, she’ll be a rock star. But she’d make a great President."

"UW-Madison professors propose making first two years of college free."

"Students could have their first two years of public university paid for by the federal government, according to a plan proposed by University of Wisconsin-Madison professors."

That's the headline and the first sentence of a news article. Somehow that pairing made me laugh.

From the "Happiness" sequence...



... at Dogging Meade.

Madison’s Urban Design Commission approves non-code-compliant "Tiny Houses."

Because the code-violations come from the heart.

"Leave it to Jodie Foster to go and get married and not make a big deal out of it."

"Fact is ... it's pretty clear (Foster has) never felt a need or obligation to make a public declaration, and by getting married she's merely living her life...."

What would Camille Paglia say about Camilla the Duchess's brother?

1. Here's Camille Paglia singing the praises of alcohol. Specifically, she's arguing for lowering the drinking age from 21, which I completely agree with, and I even agree with most of what she says about alcohol's superiority to marijuana (because of its long tradition and its enrichment of the great pleasures of food and conversation). But Paglia goes pretty far. ("Exhilaration, ecstasy and communal vision are the gifts of Dionysus, god of wine. Alcohol’s enhancement of direct face-to-face dialogue is precisely what is needed by today’s technologically agile generation....") It's not that she says nothing about drunkenness. (In fact, she stresses the big problem with the 21-year drinking age: It pushes young people into destructive house-party drinking.) In fact, I've got to say, I pretty much agree with everything she says — including the worry that marijuana "saps energy and willpower and can produce physiological feminization in men."

2. Here's Mark Shand, brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, dead from a door — dead as a doornail, nailed by a door. He was drinking in the posh bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel, which he had to exit, through a revolving door, to smoke a cigarette — the long history of drinking and smoking having been disrupted by the demand that smokers take their disapproved-of habit outdoors. Having left through the revolving door and smoked, it was time to return to his drink, and he never got back in. Somehow the drinking and smoking and door revolving sent him falling onto the sidewalk, forever separated from that drink, gone for good. Is drinking to blame? The law that separates drinking from smoking? The revolution of the door? One more British death in an American revolution. Whatever happened to American freedom, within which a man with a drink and needing a smoke could stay put in his chair and not have to test his alcohol-laden skills in the dangerous door?

"For aspiring community organizers who go to college and then grad school before moving into a job that the government defines as public service, the forgiven debt can be $150,000..."

"... or more, courtesy of the taxpayer. And unlike with some other federal programs, when the government forgives the debt of one of the exalted class of nonprofit or government workers, the do-gooder doesn't have to report it as income to the IRS. Who wouldn't want to pick up $150,000 tax-free?"

Sotomayor's "race-sensitive admissions policies" is not just a euphemism for "affirmative action."

James Taranto notes. It's a euphemism for a euphemism. Which puts Sotomayor on "what cognitive scientist Steven Pinker calls the euphemism treadmill."
A new euphemism is needed because the old one has lost its power to obscure: Its real meaning is too obvious, even though it is unrelated to the literal meanings of either "affirmative" or "action."

Ironically, Sotomayor's new euphemism comes considerably closer than "affirmative action" to being a literal description of the underlying reality. "Admissions policies" is far clearer than "action," and "race-sensitive," unlike "affirmative," at least acknowledges that what's going on has something to do with race.

The word "sensitive" does all the euphemizing work. But it cuts both ways. Defenders of segregation were, in their own way, "sensitive" when it came to race.
"We're all sensitive people," as Marvin Gaye sang in the begging-you-to-do-what-I-want song "Let's Get It On." You're sensitive? Well, I'm sensitive too. He's arguing his case to some woman, whom we can only imagine, a woman who's been resisting his sexual action. She's presumably claimed to be very sensitive. That's why there's that line "We're all sensitive people."

That song is about sex, not race, but you see my point about one side to an argument/conversation making a claim to sensitivity. There's sensitivity all around. We're all sensitive people, with so much to give....

A more common expression than "race-sensitive admissions policies" — and it must be somewhere on that treadmill journey — is "race-conscious admissions policies." Why "sensitive" instead of "conscious"? "Sensitive" connotes feelings of warmth (and irritability), and "conscious" connotes mental clarity and perception. If they're going to talk about when government may take race into account, judges should be speaking about sharply observed and understood facts about the real world. It's called "strict scrutiny" for a reason. "Sensitivity" suggests a more vaguely sourced intuition about how things ought to be, the very stereotypes and prejudicial impulses that strict scrutiny is supposed to preclude.

April 23, 2014

"By using a common four-letter term for sexual intercourse... Lawrence was trying to remove the stain of profanity from plain English words."

Writes the NYT in an obituary for Richard H. Hoggart, the cultural historian who was the star witness in a case about the censorship of "Lady Chatterley's Lover." Hoggart testified in 1960 about why D.H. Lawrence wrote the word "fuck" in 1928, and the NYT still won't print the word in 2014.

But the NYT did print the word "fuck" 4 days ago — as I noted here — in the sentence "Fuck Brooklyn!" which is just some dumb thing a basketball team's general manager yelled:
With A list celebrities, including rappers Drake, Jay-Z and Beyonce, occupying courtside seats, an embarrassing technical malfunction and a jaw-dropping expletive delivered by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to thousands of frenzied supporters at a pre-game pep rally, the first game of the NBA postseason offered a little bit over everything.
Why print "fuck" the hurtful, intentionally brutal slam, and not "fuck" the nonmetaphor, used descriptively, with love and artistic force? Have a rule and stick to it. Your rule could be only sometimes, but what rule would justify "fuck" the sports arena epithet over "fuck" a great author's word choice for which free speech advocates fought governments? Perhaps: "Fuck" is fit to print to vividly convey how wrong it is to yell fuck in front of a lady like Beyonce.

As for the other lady, Chatterley, she asked "But what do you believe in?" and he said:
"Yes, I do believe in something. I believe in being warmhearted. I believe especially in being warm-hearted in love, in fucking with a warm heart. I believe if men could fuck with warm hearts, and the women take it warm-heartedly, everything would come all right. It's all this cold-hearted fucking that is death and idiocy."

"But you don't fuck me cold-heartedly," she protested.

"I don't want to fuck you at all. My heart's as cold as cold potatoes just now.... It's a fact!... Anything for a bit of warm-heartedness. But the women don't like it. Even you don't really like it. You like good, sharp, piercing cold-hearted fucking, and then pretending it's all sugar. Where's your tenderness for me? You're as suspicious of me as a cat is of a dog. I tell you it takes two even to be tender and warm-hearted. You love fucking all right: but you want it to be called something grand and mysterious, just to flatter your own self-importance. Your own self-importance is more to you, fifty times more, than any man, or being together with a man.... I'd rather die than do any more cold-hearted fucking."

"Benghazi attack could have been prevented if US hadn't 'switched sides in the War on Terror' and allowed $500 MILLION of weapons to reach al-Qaeda militants, reveals damning report..."

Reports the British paper The Daily Mail.

Be careful with that... The Daily Mail is part of the chain of commerce conspiracy, identified in the Clinton White House "Conspiracy Commerce" Memo of 1995 (PDF).

An awful lot of what seems like scientific information about nutrition deserves to be called "nutritional folklore."

According to George Johnson, who cites extensive research into cancer that has found "little evidence that fruits and vegetables are protective or that fatty foods are bad." Back in 1997, there was a big authoritative review of over 4,000 studies that pushed green vegetables to prevent lung and stomach cancer,  and broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts for thyroid and colon cancer. Onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and citrus fruits seemed generally helpful in the fight against cancer. But 10 years later, it was all taken back.

The pro-produce advice had relied on interviewing people about what they remembered eating in the past, and the newer, more rigorous studies used "'prospective' protocols, in which the health of large populations was followed in real time." And:
With even the most rigorous studies, it is hard to adjust for what epidemiologists call confounding factors: Assiduous eaters of fruits and vegetables probably weigh less, exercise more often and are vigilant about their health in other ways...
All this badgering about eating lots of fruits and vegetables, all the cabbage and broccoli we've been pressured to buy and wash and cut up and cook and choke down! There was never good evidence for it. Obviously, it seemed good to people because it fit what we already thought was supposed to be good. But why?!

***

Let me show you this passage I've remembered for a long time, from James Joyce's "Ulysses" (scroll to line 7825):
Only weggebobbles and fruit.... They say it's healthier. Windandwatery though. Tried it. Keep you on the run all day. Bad as a bloater. Dreams all night.

ADDED: A poll:

How much vegetables would you eat if you found out, for sure, that there was no particular health benefit? (Not counting potatoes!)
  
pollcode.com free polls 

AND: What is the environmental cost to producing all these vegetables and trucking and flying them about? What of all the money families spend on vegetables, because they've heard the propaganda, money that could be spent on more satisfying, concentrated protein? What of all the torment we've caused schoolkids giving them lunches they hate that leave them hungry and running for the vending machines for junk food? Where is the science?

"D’Souza Case Is Political, Lawyer Says."

Headline at the NYT. Excerpt:
[The lawyer, Benjamin] has filed court papers contending that... there was “good reason for concern” that Mr. D’Souza, the author of the best-selling 2010 book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” was “selectively targeted for felony prosecution because of his outspoken, vigorous and politically controversial criticism and condemnation” of the president and his administration.

Mr. Brafman said that a review of similar campaign finance violation cases shows many were typically not referred for felony prosecution and where they were, it often took several years. “The speed with which the authorities responded to the conduct in this case is virtually unprecedented,” he wrote.

Shakespeare's 450th birthday.

It's today, presumably.

How will you celebrate? May I recommend searching for some word — search here — and telling us in the comments what word you searched for and what you found that was interesting? I decided to search for "America," and it appears only once in all of Shakespeare, in "The Comedy of Errors." Dromio is describing a woman whose width is the same as her height, so "she is spherical, like a globe," and he can find all the countries on her body. Antipholus proceeds to ask where various countries are. Ireland, according to Dromio, is "in her buttocks: I found it out by the bogs." Scotland is in the palm of the hand, France is in the forehead, England in the chin, Spain was not seen but felt ("hot in her breath")....

"Where America, the Indies?" asks Antipholus, and Dromio says:
Oh, sir, upon her nose all o'er embellished with
rubies, carbuncles, sapphires, declining their rich
aspect to the hot breath of Spain; who sent whole
armadoes of caracks to be ballast at her nose.
There's only one more question: "Where stood Belgia, the Netherlands?" And the punchline answer is "Oh, sir, I did not look so low."

Anyway, America, the nose, seems to be all of the new world, and Spain is sending a fleet of ships to get whatever can be drained out of it. And that's all America was to Shakespeare — a big, pimpled, runny nose... for Spain.

Lots of HBO coming to Amazon Prime video streaming.

Unlimited access all of "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Deadwood," "Rome," "Six Feet Under,""Eastbound & Down," "Enlightened,"and "Flight of the Conchords," lots of comedy specials and miniseries (e.g., "Band of Brothers" and "John Adams") and much more.

If you don't already have Amazon Prime let me recommend using this Amazon Prime link. Like other Amazon links I put up, it let's you make a contribution to this blog without paying more for something you want to buy anyway. I'm genuinely encouraged by the appreciation for this blog readers have shown by using these links. Thanks to everyone.

How does Sonia Sotomayor really feel about affirmative action?

Instapundit calls attention to Sonia Sotomayor's dissent in yesterday's Schuette case. He links to James Taranto's "First Among Equals: An Orwellian dissent from a muddled ruling" and to my post "The way to get a concurring opinion out of Chief Justice Roberts is to rewrite his famous aphorism." I'd counted 11 repetitions of the phrase "race matters" within a short segment (4 paragraphs) of Sotomayor's very long dissent, and Instapundit quips: "She also repeats the phrase 'race matters' a lot. But then, it does. It’s how she got her job."

You might think, as I initially did, it's wrong to degrade a particular individual's status by saying they only got it through affirmative action. How many times has Clarence Thomas expressed his outrage at that kind of abuse? But then I happened upon The Washington Post's treatment of the Sotomayor dissent (by Robert Barnes) and saw this:
Sotomayor, 59, has spoken extensively about how affirmative action was key to her rise from a public housing project where her parents spoke only Spanish. The search for minorities to diversify student bodies in the 1970s won her invitations and scholarship offers from Ivy League schools she had only just learned existed.

She excelled at Princeton, winning the top undergraduate prize, and went to Yale Law School. But she has drawn diametrically different lessons about the experience than Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only African American, who said affirmative action cheapened his Yale Law degree.
So I guess the Instapundit gibe bounces off Sotomayor and hits Clarence Thomas. And why not? Sotomayor is going to vote to uphold affirmative action, even as Thomas consistently votes against it. (Doesn't "vote" look wrong there? Is it too late or too prissy or too unrealistic to say we should scrub "vote" from our speech about the judicial work that's done in group-project form?)

But — as Barnes detected (combing through the 58-page dissent) — Sotomayor has arrived at an aversion to the term "affirmative action." As Barnes puts it:
She even wrote that she was not going to use the term “affirmative action” because of its connotation of “intentional preferential treatment” such as quotas, because the court has outlawed such practices. Instead, she called it a system of “race-sensitive admissions policies.”
She even wrote… What is the function of "even"? Barnes credits Sotomayor with enthusiasm for affirmative action, then encounters her rejection of the term and substitution of a euphemism. The word "even" implies additional enthusiasm, not its opposite. I found that a bit puzzling. Here's the relevant text from Sotomayor's opinion, at footnote 2:
Although the term “affirmative action” is commonly used to describe colleges’ and universities’ use of race in crafting admissions policies, I instead use the term “race-sensitive admissions policies.” Some comprehend the term “affirmative action” as connoting intentional preferential treatment based on race alone—for example, the use of a quota system, whereby a certain proportion of seats in an institution’s incoming class must be set aside for racial minorities; the use of a “points” system, whereby an institution accords a fixed numerical advantage to an applicant because of her race; or the admission of otherwise unqualified students to an institution solely on account of their race. None of this is an accurate description of the practices that public universities are permitted to adopt after this Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003) . There, we instructed that institutions of higher education could consider race in admissions in only a very limited way in an effort to create a diverse student body. To comport with Grutter, colleges and universities must use race flexibly, id., at 334, and must not maintain a quota, ibid. And even this limited sensitivity to race must be limited in time, id., at 341–343, and must be employed only after “serious, good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives,” id., at 339. Grutter-compliant admissions plans, like the ones in place at Michigan’s institutions, are thus a far cry from affirmative action plans that confer preferential treatment intentionally and solely on the basis of race.
Here is this term — "affirmative action" — composed of 2 very positive words —  "affirmative" and "action" — a term that has been used and defended for decades, and Sotomayor decides it's time for a euphemism? She may perseverate for 58 pages, but that backing off from the traditional term of art shows insecurity in the soundness of the position. In fact, going on for 58 pages — longer than the 4 other opinions combined — can also be regarded as a sign of insecurity.

What if a Supreme Court Justice, writing an opinion upholding the right to abortion, suddenly announced — in a footnote — that she wasn't going to use the word "abortion" anymore, because "some comprehend" it to mean things she thought were incorrect and distracting? Henceforth, she's only going to call it "reproductive freedom."

I'm sure you can think of other examples to make the point that it's a sign of insecurity in the acceptability of the practice. Imagine a 19th-century judge writing an opinion upholding the right to own slaves and dropping a footnote to say he wasn't going to use the term "slavery" anymore, because it set opponents' minds reeling into thoughts he needed to control. He's only going to refer to it as "our peculiar institution."

So… how does Sonia Sotomayor — the Justice chosen for her empathyreally feel about affirmative action?

"Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook."

Tweeted the New York Police Department, apparently not foreseeing that this bid for good PR would bring responses like this:

April 22, 2014

What's up with the mules?

Okay, I've seen this twice in 2 days as we've driven into work:



What does it mean?!

Meade took the photo, on campus, on University Drive.

"I felt an incredible anxiety—the same anxiety I had felt every day since my diagnosis. Then, like a switch went on..."

"... I went from being anxious to analyzing my anxiety from the outside. I realized that nothing was actually happening to me objectively. It was real because I let it become real. And, right when I had that thought, I saw a cloud of black smoke come out of my body and float away."

A quote from "Prescribing Mushrooms for Anxiety/A New York University research team is using hallucinogenic experiences to help patients come to terms with their mortality."

So what do you think?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

A long NYT obituary for someone whose accomplishment lay in the field of editing Wikipedia.

"'It is a huge loss for Wikipedia,' said Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation in San Francisco that runs Wikipedia, who has made a priority of getting more women to edit it. 'She may have been our single biggest contributor on these topics — female authors, women’s history.'"
Ms. Wadewitz defied many of the stereotypes of a Wikipedia editor — young, male, tech-obsessed. But she was typical of Wikipedia editors in “being persnickety, fact-obsessed, citation-obsessed,” Ms. Gardner said.
While Wikipedia is famously the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, the bulk of the unpaid work is done by a relatively small number of people willing to devote the time to do the research, navigate the editing system and learn the community mores.
Adrianne Wadewitz was 37. She died in a fall, rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park.

IN THE COMMENTS: David said (referring to the mockery of a 3rd-year law student who takes school seriously):
This woman probably would have enjoyed the third year of law school. I have stopped being surprised at the high quality of many Wikipedia articles. All these people who love their subjects and are willing to share their knowledge while getting so little credit. Bless them all.
Yes, there are saints on the internet, and they do things like this.

"Vertigo is a carnival world and I was the Human Bumper Car."

"I moved without authority because the simple act of shifting my head’s plane threw me into chaos. But so did remaining motionless. I was never comfortable or relaxed, never at ease, at home in my world."

Who defines what is victimhood... when the target of sadistic pranks is somewhere on the autism spectrum?

Hanna Rosin describes a teenage boy and the pretty girls who are being prosecuted, whom he would still like to see as friends.
For a boy like Michael, wooing a girl, winning her trust and then trying to participate in her pranks, even while they made him uncomfortable and put him in some danger, took courage. The girls betrayed that... [b]ut reducing Michael’s responses and feelings to an embarrassing tic of the severely disabled will not lead to justice — or confidence or empowerment — for Michael and people like him. It will only cause a different kind of harm, which is to make him a perfect victim.

"And you actually enjoy studying law? That's weird."

From the finalists in Above the Law's Law Revue Video Contest, this one's from my old law school NYU (language warning):



For the record, I think the main character in this video has it right, it's what I expect from all my students, and it's the way I pretty much (kind of) was as a law student (30+ years ago)(except that I added a level of difficulty — pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation — to my 3L year).

The way to get a concurring opinion out of Chief Justice Roberts is to rewrite his famous aphorism, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative, Integration and Immigration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary, today's new Supreme Court opinion (discussed at length in the previous post), Chief Justice Roberts, having joined the plurality opinion, wrote a very short concurring opinion, apparently because of what may have felt like a personal attack in Justice Sotomayor's concurring opinion.

Sotomayor quoted what I think is the Chief Justice's most famous line, the aphorism that ends his opinion in the 2007 school-desegretation case Parents Involved: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Sotomayor rejects this "sentiment" as "out of touch with reality," and delivers 3 didactic paragraphs each of which begins with what might very well feel like a condescending use of the phrase "race matters":
Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process...

Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society...

And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable.
I'm sure many readers will love the lilt and pithiness those 9 "race matters" bonks on the over-abstract head of the Chief Justice, but I suspect that inside that head, it felt like an attack that had to be met with an even pithier response. First, Roberts can't let stand this assertion that he doesn't understand reality, and second, the very next thing she does is repurpose his best aphorism. She says:
The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination. 
Eyes open, not blind, and mouths open and not sparing you from the ongoing conversation about race. As an added fillip, she equates color-blindness with "sit[ting] back" and trying to "wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society": "It is this view that works harm, by perpetuating the facile notion that what makes race matter is acknowledging the simple truth that race does matter."

That's 2 more bonks with the "race matters" hammer, for a total of 11.

He had to respond, and his response, though couched in politeness, shows he felt wounded:
[I]t is not “out of touch with reality” to conclude that racial preferences may themselves have the debilitating effect of reinforcing precisely that ["I do not belong here"] doubt, and — if so — that the preferences do more harm than good. To disagree with the dissent’s views on the costs and benefits of racial preferences is not to “wish away, rather than confront” racial inequality. People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.
Interestingly, each Justice accused the other of shutting down the conversation about race. Sotomayor expressed the desire for everyone "to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race," and Roberts wanted respect for the "the openness and candor" of the argument for race-neutral government policies (which, it really must be conceded, can be favored even by those who get that race matters in real life).

The Supreme Court decides Schuette, the affirmative action case about Michigan's state constitutional law ban on affirmative action.

Unsurprisingly, the Court reversed the 6th Circuit, which had found a federal constitutional violation in amending the state constitution to forbid affirmative action. But the breakdown of the opinions is important. SCOTUSblog summarizes:
The opinion is divided. Justice Kennedy wrote the plurality joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Alito. They conclude in their opinion that there is no authority in the federal constitution or in the Court's precedents for courts to set aside Michigan laws that commit to the voters the determination whether racial preferences may be considered in governmental decisions, in particular with respect to school admissions.
Here's the opinion. I'm reading it and will have more soon.

ADDED: Schuette is the case Slate's Emily Bazelon called "The affirmative-action case liberals deserve to lose," which I translated to: "liberals should want to lose."

AND: The only dissenting opinion is from Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg. This is a very long dissent, more than the combined length of the plurality and the 3 concurring opinions. America's history, we're told, is a "long and lamentable record of stymieing the right of racial minorities to participate in the political process," and this case is a "chapter" in that history: "A majority of the Michigan electorate changed the basic rules of the political process in that State in a manner that uniquely disadvantaged racial minorities." In a footnote, Sotomayor assures us that "of course" she's not saying that "Michigan’s voters acted with anything like the invidious intent... of those who historically stymied the rights of racial minorities." The phrase "anything like the invidious intent" doesn't state a belief in the complete absence of invidious intent, only a big difference from the degree of invidiousness in the historical cases.

This footnote refers to the last footnote in Justice Scalia's concurring opinion, which says that it would be "doubly shameful to equate 'the majority' behind §26 with 'the majority' responsible for Jim Crow." The first aspect of shamefulness would be, in Scalia's words, for the Court to "stand in the way" of the people of Michigan as they amend their constitution to adopt a policy of color-blindness.

Scalia's opinion is joined by Justice Thomas, and the 2 of them argue for overruling the line of cases that have found Equal Protection violations in laws that make the political process more difficult for those who want the government to do more to protect the interests of racial minorities. The plurality, in minimalist fashion, preserves the old case law but finds it inapplicable to this change in the political process that makes it more difficult to get the government to adopt affirmative action policies.

ALSO: The plurality opinion (written by Justice Kennedy and joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Alito) does preserve the political process branch of Equal Protection doctrine, but it reins in some of the language and import of the Seattle School District case that the 6th Circuit had relied on. The Seattle case was about making it harder for local government to use busing to remedy de facto segregation (which was assumed to support race-based treatment of school children at the time). In the Seattle case, the Court talked about changing the political process for a remedy that "inures primarily to the benefit of the minority," and the plurality thinks that should be understood to refer only to changes that carry "the serious risk, if not purpose, of causing specific injuries on account of race."
To the extent Seattle is read to require the Court to determine and declare which political policies serve the “interest” of a group defined in racial terms, that rationale was unnecessary to the decision in Seattle; it has no support in precedent; and it raises serious constitutional concerns. That expansive language does not provide a proper guide for decisions and should not be deemed authoritative or controlling. 
Note that affirmative action in admissions is based on the government's interest in diversity, which is portrayed as benefiting all of the students, so — in that view — the loss of affirmative action isn't a specific injury to members of the minority group who won't gain admission if the policy is race-neutral. An affirmative action policy may be more generally in their interest, but that's not relevant to the way the policy process doctrine works now.

MORE: Chief Justice Roberts, in addition to joining the plurality opinion, also wrote a concurring opinion, and Justice Breyer wrote a concurring opinion. Justice Kagan recused herself.

Chief Justice Roberts's opinion is very short. It begins with a complaint about how long the dissent is: 11 pages of Sotomayor’s “own policy preferences” (topped off with a denial that her own policy preferences have anything to do with the legal question). But it goes on to something that I want to break out into a new post, which you can read here.

"Just because Justice Scalia has every right to say stupid stuff doesn’t mean it’s a responsible move for someone occupying high office."

"He should apologize," says Joe Patrice at Above the Law, who I suspect just never liked Scalia anyway. Patrice is (or is pretending to be) all exercised about what is one of Justice Scalia's stock responses to what is a predictable question as Justice Scalia routinely travels around giving essentially the same speech about his thoroughly well-known, deeply entrenched theory of constitutional interpretation. The wonder is that it even gets reported let alone a big, drama queen response like Patrice's.

Scalia is really just pointing out The Declaration of Independence, which lies behind the Constitution. Patrice bandies the word "treason" about — his post title is "Justice Scalia Literally Encourages People To Commit Treason" and he ends with "apparently Justice Scalia thinks acts of treason are justified..." — so you'd think he'd have paused at some point to remember Patrick Henry's response to the cries of "Treason!"
It was in the midst of this magnificent debate, while he was descanting on the tyranny of the obnoxious Act, that he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a god, "Caesar had his Brutus - Charles the first, his Cromwell - and George the third - ('Treason,' cried the Speaker - 'treason, treason,' echoed fro every part of the House. - It was one of those trying moments which is decisive of character. - Henry faltered not an instant; but rising to a loftier attitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished his sentence with the firmest emphasis) may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.
I supposed if Joe Patrice had been there on the scene back in 1765, he'd have editorialized at length about the need for an apology.

ADDED: Patrick Henry had the best instant comeback to heckling in the history of the world, even before you add in that, in the end, quite a few years later, people took his advice and made the most of it.

What's newly fit to print.

"Fuck Brooklyn!"

Do people get nicer or crankier as they age?

Nicer! Science says. Some of us, anyway, according to this Wall Street Journal article, "Personality Research Says Change in Major Traits Occurs Naturally/Many people become more agreeable, dependable and emotionally stable, and also more introverted."
From the ages of 20 to 65, people report increases in positive traits, such as conscientiousness, and decreases in negative traits, such as neuroticism. Most people tend to become more agreeable, more responsible, more emotionally stable—in other words, their personalities improve. 
Do they also become less self-critical? That might be a factor if you're asking people about themselves. But I believe this research. I think when you are younger, you have to fight for your place in the world and you're keenly aware of the competition. You want the edge, so you're edgy. You need that vigor, and it's built into the young body, just like sexual desire. Over the long evolutionary stretch of time, it has been what younger people need. Looking back, what I'd say to young people is: Don't take what your elders call a "negative" personality negatively. It's a real physical energy to be used in positive ways for your own benefit, so that when the maturity that old people call a "positive" personality sets in, you'll have made a good life for yourself, and with your newly arrived ease and complacency you can enjoy the great pleasures of growing old.

"I’d rather pay down my credit cards than take on another bill for something I don’t know that I’m going to need."

Says one lady, quoted in a NYT article about people who have chosen not to buy health insurance. These seem to be mostly people who just can't budget the cost, but some of it is about malfunctioning websites and some is ideological opposition to Obamacare.

April 21, 2014

"I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued. We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but..."

"... staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it's a valuable thing my mum created. And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour. I'm sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That's why relationships work…"

Said Kirsten Dunst, causing Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan to decline "to couch this much," because Dunst is by profession an actress, not a gender theorist, so it's not surprising that she'd say something "kind of dumb," but that burst a geyser in Andrea Peyser, who asserts, in the NY Post, that "The sisterhood went psychotic." Where? Where is this psychotic? Who is this "sisterhood"? There was Ryan, who was perfectly bland, more or less quoting bemusedly. There was one other "sister" in this outbreak of mass Dunst-induced psychosis, one Stacey Ritzen at a place I'd never heard of called Uproxx. What Ritzen writ was just a lighthearted wisecrack:

"Jennifer DeFalco is creative director for Cannabrand, a marketing agency named for a mashup of 'cannabis' and 'branding.'"

"DeFalco and her business partner are banking on Colorado's marijuana industry becoming big business — one in need of flashy logos, memorable catchphrases and eye-catching ads."
[T]he whole point of marketing is to grow a business by reaching people who are on the fence about trying marijuana.

"So part of the rebranding of cannabis is really just making the dispensaries more inviting and more welcoming," she says....

"One thing that is interesting and important for the industry is this question of exposure to kids," says Margaret Campbell, a marketing professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. To reach new markets, she says, the industry as a whole needs to strip away the marijuana user stigma.
Reaching new markets... reaching people on the fence about trying marijuana... and it's interesting, this question of kids somehow falling within the grasping reach of marijuana marketers.

Get ready. This is where we are now, and there is no way back. The link goes to NPR, where the headline is "To Keep Business Growing, Vendors Rebrand Pot's Stoner Image" and there's a photo of a broadly smiling wholesome female marketer. NPR itself is participating in this optimistic rebranding. We're not just talking about decriminalization. We're talking about promotion and encouragement, and the state — and its complacent people — are in on the action via taxation.

"Easter Bunny Lurking Behind Obama..."

"... Can’t Help But Look Creepy."

"He left the presidency very comfortable with his record. I think that’ll carry through into the release of information from it."

"I think he believes his actions were justified and that the records will demonstrate that."

He = George W. Bush, who's chosen to be very liberal in the release of documents from his presidential archive.

"Rick Perry’s extreme makeover."

A Politico headline. I guess they believe in the Superman/Clark Kent concept of extreme makeover. Put glasses on and you're like a completely different guy.

To be fair, Rick Perry had a problem with the "deer in the headlights" look, and glasses could be especially effective for him if they work to tone that down.

"Brett Hulsey's running for governor," I say, laughing...

... as I look at this story in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Meade does a triumphant fist pump and exults: "Yes!"

"Why are you reacting like that?" I ask, and he says, "Oh, because we have so much stuff on him."

Click the Brett Hulsey tag and scroll.

What is NBC going to do about the post-Russert crashing ratings of "Meet the Press"?

It's not just that no one can match the magnificent Tim Russert, because David Gregory has fallen behind the elderly Bob Schieffer (on "Face the Nation") and the once-cute but never particularly popular George Stephanopoulos (on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos"). So what is NBC doing about its David Gregory problem? I'd recommend reading my blog posts on the subject, like this one. ("Gregory plays favorites, shoring up liberal commentators when they seem to be stumbling, supplying arguments and glossing over rough spots for them. Russert would go in for the kill.") I'm a longtime viewer who loved Tim Russert, and I've kept up my habit of watching the show (which I record along with other Sunday shows), and I am very unhappy with it.

But according to this WaPo article, here's something NBC has done in an attempt to fathom its Russertlessness problem:

Radio alert: The Crack Emcee is on Uncle Ray's Psychedelic Soul again.

Listen here. Or listen later on the podcast.

Scroll down here for the Top 100 Albums they've been counting down over the last few weeks, so you can see which artists they're getting to (but not which album cut).

UPDATE: "If I can't hear a rap about a woman's heavy period in the morning I'm not up yet," says Crack, highlighting the line in the song that jumped out at me: "My attitude is bitchy, cuz my period is heavy." That's Missy Elliot (in "Funky Fresh Dressed").

Then they were talking about this blog and the commenters here, specifically what's going on in the comments on yesterday's Hurricane Carter post. The verb "to spew" is deployed.

Now, they are making fun of people who like Bruce Springsteen, who's next up on the countdown. "The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle” is #51, and Ray said he picked the cut he picked because it's the shortest.

UPDATE 2: They spend a lot of time talking about the extreme ugliness of Joe Jackson, who Crack said, elicits gasps from the live audience who have seen photographs but are still stunned at the real thing.



UPDATE 3: The topic is The Rolling Stones and Crack says "Brown Sugar" is "one of the most racist songs ever." Why does that get "a pass"? Ray asks if they have "a ghetto pass," and Crack's answer is "Jagger got big lips." They proceed to discuss whether other big-lipped stars have "a ghetto pass" and they are emphatic that the answer is no for Carly Simon and yes for Steven Tyler.

UPDATE 4: Crack sort of tries to read this comment from me (in the comments on this post):
Crack, a sometime commenter, goes on the radio, I blog about that, people comment, then Crack on the radio talks about the comments, and I comment in the comments about Crack the commenter on the radio commenting on the comments. Now, if they talk about that on the radio it's the ultimate new media moment.
So that must have been it, the ultimate new media moment. Have you achieved transcendence?

I'm still waiting for Crack to pronounce my name right. He seems to enjoy saying "Outhouse," even as Ray spells my name and questions the pronunciation. But Crack proceeds to mention Meade's blog, so that's nice.



That's "Bandit the Border Collie." And I've got to walk back "ultimate new media moment," because for me the ultimate and endless new media moment is Meade.

UPDATE 5: Crack announces that he's got a job in case you are "emotionally invested in that." And he says that the picture of the dog that I put embedded in Update 4 is the very same one he'd just shown to Uncle Ray. The races are in alignment, says the Ebony-and-Ivory dog, Bandit.

UPDATE 6: Kisses:

Reliving the Terri Schiavo case.

A 13-minute video — and an article — at the NYT today:


Why revisit this controversy now? Scanning the 13-paragraph article for an answer to my question, I find the NYT variation on my question in Paragraph 7: "What, if anything, is the enduring legacy of this painful episode?" In the middle of the next paragraph, I find a key:
[W]hen she was in the news almost daily, there was a discernible increase in the number of Americans who prepared living wills and comparable directives, according to groups like Aging With Dignity, a nonprofit organization that supports end-of-life wishes.
The Terri Schiavo case was effective, like nothing else we've seen recently, in pushing people to sign those documents that will enable medical personnel to shunt them beyond that resource-consuming hospital bed. In these days of aging Baby Boomers and awareness of how we're all paying for everybody else's medical care, there's a growing interest in attaching "living wills and comparable directives" to all the pre-corpses of America.
Perhaps some politicians have learned a lesson: that these life-or-death decisions are probably best left to families and, should irreconcilable differences surface, to the courts....
Yeah, "perhaps"! I notice the phrase "death panels" does not appear in the article. There isn't even a mention of the Affordable Care Act and the recent congressional foray into the field of health care. The Act made it through Congress on the narrowest possible margin and it nearly died over the question of facilitating death.

And here's a second key to why the NYT is revisiting Terri Schiavo now:
Larger questions remain, affecting an estimated 25,000 Americans deemed by doctors to be in a vegetative state. Complicating matters are studies like those reported last week by a team in Belgium and earlier by Adrian M. Owen, a British neuroscientist working in Canada. They have found through brain-imaging techniques that residual cognitive capacity may exist in some people classified as vegetative.
That's phrased awfully delicately, don't you think? What if people start to disbelieve the story that Terri Schiavo was an unburied corpse, with a liquefied brain, tended over by sentimental parents who resisted the straightforward facts delivered by doctors? What if the scientific consensus breaks down because of actual science and we learn that those 25,000 Americans are still in there, longing — some of them anyway — to return to this life? What are we willing to spend to try to bring them back?

If everyone would sign the relevant documents before entering this state, the rest of us will not be asked these questions, because the assumption will be that whatever longing persists in the persistently vegetative is longing for death.

By the way, the NYT article begins and ends with literary riffs on the name Schiavo, which is Italian for "slave." Paragraph 1 portrays Schiavo as a metaphorical slave — "slave to an atrophied brain... slave to bitter fighting.. slave to... court hearings... to politicians...." And the last paragraph ends:
[T]he woman born Theresa Marie Schindler had no control over the powerful forces that controlled her own fate. Just as if she were a schiavo, a slave.
Is that poignant or maudlin? "Slave" was the name of the man who fought for her death. Schindler was the name of the parents who fought for her life. And slavery is a profound topic unto itself. Should it be repurposed as a metaphor? It's a facile metaphor, the literal meaning of the woman's married name, and it degrades the meaning of the word "slave," because lying inert in bed is not much like slavery, which is forced labor. Slaves are human beings with minds capable of making decisions who are deprived moment-by-moment of the autonomy that belongs by right to the human mind.

Terri Schiavo's freedom and autonomy were accorded profound respect. Her problem was her incapacity to form or communicate her choice. That's terribly sad, but it is not slavery.

I think the technical term for this is "bench-clearing incident."



The voice over the action is a little distracting as Carlos Gomez reflects after the event, so notice that after he hits the ball, he hesitates in the manner normally associated with enjoying the pleasure of a home run. Then, he has to run, and he gets to third base, so maybe he could have made it all the way home. Anyway, once on the third, he reacts to a taunt from the pitcher.

ADDED: What did the pitcher say?
At issue was Gomez's flip of the bat following a third-inning triple....

"I grabbed the ball from (third baseman Josh Harrison) and I said, 'If you're going to hit a home run, you can watch it. If you're going to hit a fly ball to center field, don't watch it.'" said Cole. "I didn't curse at him, I didn't try to provoke a fight. I was frustrated and I let my emotions get the better of me."
I'm theorizing that what makes a taunt really aggravating is when it repeats and gives reality to the nagging voice you've already got in your head. Gomez knew that it was stupid and embarrassing to watch the ball fly and not take off running, and when Cole said exactly that Gomez was overcome with emotion.

AND: The alternative theory is that a person reacts more strongly to untrue or unfair statements, out of outrage and surprise. Which is it? I'm not just talking about Gomez, but the whole category of incidents in which one person says something and the other loses emotional and physical control. What is more of a trigger — hearing what you already fear or believe is the truth or hearing something that you hadn't thought was true about yourself?

AND ALSO: Yes, I know. Cue the comments in the category: See, this is what happens when you let women watch sports.

April 20, 2014

"British Pathé, the U.K. newsreel archive company, has uploaded its entire 100-year collection of 85,000 historic films in high resolution to YouTube."

"The collection, which spans 1896 to 1976, comprises some 3,500 hours of historical footage of major events, notable figures, fashion, travel, sports and culture. It includes extensive film from both World War I and World War II."

Wow. Beautiful.

It's all here. Explore! I'll cherry-pick one:



ADDED: From 1947, "No more babies!"

At the Moonrise Café...



... find some light.

"The wounded man looks up through his one dyin’ eye/Says, 'Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!'"

"Yes, here’s the story of the Hurricane/The man the authorities came to blame..."

Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, dead, today, at age 76.

Dylan's song came out in 1976, and:

Did you miss any of the 20 things I blogged about yesterday?

1. How to be as unheterosexual as possible.  2. Knocking the cover off the baseball.  3. Elitist chickening. 4. The history of the letter W.  5. The Clinton "conspiracy commerce" memo. 6. A Monica sequitur. 7. Stages of mocking the stages of grief. 8. Nevada wants its land back. 9. VAWA amended to help U.S. Attorneys off the hook for their chronic failure to prosecute domestic violence cases. 10. The down side of desegregation. 11. The game young folks spurn. 12. Theme blogging. 13.  Floating nuclear power plants. 14. Lawyers in shorts.15. The political football. 16. The Alienation Museum. 17. Outsourcing umpiring.18.  Idol fluff. 19. Eiffel fluff. 20. Flying tentacles of Drudge.

ADDED: A commenter seems to have missed these posts because, he says, he was out getting a tattoo. Since he seems 1. To like tattoos and 2. To want to make up for his lapse in failing to read yesterday's 20 posts, I suggest that he get 20 tattoos, corresponding to the 20 posts:
1. 2 men who look alike, 2. A deconstructing baseball, 3. a fancy-schmancy chicken, 4. a W, 5. Hillary looking offended, 6. the smiling face of Monica Lewinski, 7. the Grim Reaper laughing, 8. Harry Reid wrestling with a map of Nevada, 9. A lawyer with the letters "U.S." on his shirt, looking the other way while a woman is getting strangled, 10. Zora Neale Hurston, Elijah Muhammad, and W.E.B. Du Bois all frowning disapprovingly, 11. An old man with a bag of golf clubs supplicating at the feet of a young man who is holding out his hand in the "Stop!" gesture, 12. Female hands on a keyboard, 13. 3-Mile-Island-style towers rocking atop a Hokusai wave, 14. Alan Dershowitz drawn in an R. Crumb style with skinny hairy legs showing because he's wearing shorts, 15. Leave a lot of room somewhere for that entire 1889 cartoon about Benjamin Harrison, 16. A lady seen from the back next to a framed painting of a woman of approximately the same shape appearing only as a silhouette, 17. An umpire "powwow," 18. Dexter Roberts, 19. The Eiffel Tower, 20. Michelle Obama, Johnny Depp, and Antonin Scalia, the first 2 with their hair swirling Medusa-ishly and the latter waggling his fingers in the "Boo!' gesture.

Inane War-on-Women headlines of the day.

From The Washington Post:

1. "75 years after ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ we need Ma Joad in the White House." The author, an English professor named Susan Shillinglaw, expresses enthusiasm for Ma Joad's threats of violence — that she’ll "knock you belly-up with a bucket" or "slap ya with a stick a stove wood" when you're sleeping or have your back turned. Domestic violence is such a thrill when it's a woman hitting a man, I guess. Shillinglaw also admires the rabid totalitarian spirit: "She would fire up the country with collective energy, too. 'Maybe if we was all mad in the same way.'" A demagogue would be great... if she's a female demagogue.

2. "Why we root for Chelsea Clinton." This one is just egging you on to say I don't root for Chelsea Clinton. Watch out. It's a trap. Don't react by attacking Chelsea. That's what they want you to do, and when you do that, you're giving them a target in the war. You've got to outsmart the enemy... and by enemy, I mean devious liberal politicos who are propagating the meme that conservatives want to hurt women (i.e., they are at war against women). So I would recommend responding to this article by latching onto that word "root." If "we" are "rooting" for someone, then "we" are cast as cheerleaders. Cheerleaders???!!!! Sexist stereotype! I am not a cheerleader looking on while someone else plays and scores. I am the active participant! How dare you consign me to the sidelines, with pom-poms, hopping around girlishly, admiring somebody else! See? That's how you do it.