May 24, 2014

"A Norwegian artist cooked and ate his own hip and claimed it tasted of 'wild sheep.'"

"Alexander Selvik Wengshoel said he served the hip bone with potato gratin and a glass of wine. He decided to eat a part of his own body on 'a whim.'"
The hip bone, removed by doctors, has gone on display as part of an exhibition. The operation to remove the bone was filmed and forms part of the exhibition also....
He had some kind of physical problem that required the surgery, so it's not as if a body part were needlessly excised and repurposed for food.

In other news of art and flesh: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West got married.

Invisible fence = invisible jerks.

I don't see a fence and I don't see you, owners of property encircled by invisible fencing. You, like your fence, are invisible. You are not around to apologize to me when your dog comes charging out to the sidewalk, barking as if he's about to spring on me. You are not around to — what? — laugh at how I jump with fright, because — look! — there's a sign: Invisible Fence. Yeah, well, fortunately I can read English, not that everyone can. I'm thinking of the little kids. And the fact is, even though I see the sign, when the rampaging dog suddenly appears, at some animal level, my body startles. The fact that I know and I understand the concept doesn't block the lightning bolt that strikes my nervous system. And speaking of lightning, why are you attempting to control your dog with electric shocks? Who the hell are you?

"Why do we so seldom see people smiling in painted portraits?"

"Nicholas Jeeves explores the history of the smile through the ages of portraiture, from Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Alexander Gardner’s photographs of Abraham Lincoln."
A walk around any art gallery will reveal that the image of the open smile has, for a very long time, been deeply unfashionable....

Smiling... has a large number of discrete cultural and historical significances, few of them in line with our modern perceptions of it being a physical signal of warmth, enjoyment, or indeed of happiness. By the 17th century in Europe it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment....

Spring grass.

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This morning, in Owen Park.

"For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me."

"In those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls have never been attracted to me, but I will punish you for it."

MORE: The L.A. Times has more material from the murderer's transcript. 

Camille Paglia talks about Hillary Clinton in 1994.

I'm assuming this 1994, because she's promoting her book "Vamps and Tramps" which came out in 1994. I've excerpted this 2-minute bit about Hillary Clinton (but the whole show is excellent, and if you think you hate Bill Maher, you may change your mind):



The section of "Vamp and Tramps" she refers to is a transcript of a CNN "Crossfire" episode, where she's on with Michael Kinsley and Pat Buchanan, talking about the Whitewater scandal in 1994. I couldn't find video of it on line, but I've got the text, and Kinsley starts of the discussion by saying there's "extraordinary antagonism towards Hillary Clinton, far beyond anything that could be explained by Whitewater or health care or anything like that," and suggesting that it's really "old-fashioned resentment of a successful, powerful woman."

Paglia vehemently disagrees, saying she'd "loved Hillary during the campaign" and "is judging her not as a woman but as a person in public life."
I feel that she has no idea how to maintain herself in that high position. She just hides from accountability. I find her arrogant. I find her cold.
There's more and Paglia has to fight off the accusation of sexism (mostly for daring to judge the expression on Hillary's face). Ah, here's the transcript (minus 2 pages, Google Books style).

Bob Dylan in Madison.

"In honor Dylan's 73rd birthday on May 24, here's an audio piece about his brief Madison period, including my discovery of the place where he hung out back then."

Myrmecochory.

It's the word of the day here at Althouse. Used here, by Meade, in the comments to "Bloodroot":
The plant colonizes in an interesting process known as myrmecochory.
The link goes to Wikipedia:
Myrmecochory... is seed dispersal by ants, an ecologically significant ant-plant interaction with worldwide distribution. Myrmecochorous plants produce seeds with elaiosomes, a term encompassing various external appendages or "food bodies" rich in lipids, amino acid, or other nutrients that are attractive to ants. The seed with its attached elaiosome is collectively known as a diaspore. Seed dispersal by ants is typically accomplished when foraging workers carry diaspores back to the ant colony after which the elaiosome is removed or fed directly to ant larvae. Once the elaiosome is consumed the seed is usually discarded in underground middens or ejected from the nest....
Myrmecochory, elaiosomes, diaspores....

Bloodroot... putting the "ant" in "plant."

This is a good metaphor for... something! I hope it's politics, because one of the big themes here at Althouse is insect politics.

"The 2016 presidential candidate we need."

That's the headline for George Will's new column which begins with a great paragraph:
All modern presidents of both parties have been too much with us. Talking incessantly, they have put politics unhealthily at the center of America’s consciousness. Promising promiscuously, they have exaggerated government’s proper scope and actual competence, making the public perpetually disappointed and surly. Inflating executive power, they have severed it from constitutional constraints. So, sensible voters might embrace someone who announced his 2016 candidacy this way....
The rest of the column is the candidate's announcement. See if it sounds like anyone who exists.

Bloodroot.

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In yesterday's afternoon sun.

"Many of the op-eds and articles on trigger warnings published this week have argued on behalf of the sanctity of the relationship between the reader and the text."

"For the most part, I have agreed with them," writes Jay Caspian Kang in The New Yorker.
A trigger warning reduces a work of art down to what amounts to plot points. If a novel like José Saramago’s “Blindness” succeeds because it sews up small yet essential pockets of human normalcy against a horrific backdrop, a preëmptive label like “Trigger Warning: Violence and internment” strips it down to one idea.

I relayed these thoughts to [Alexandra Brodsky, an editor at the Web site Feministing], along with the anecdote about my professor and “Lolita.” 
His professor had proclaimed: "When you read ‘Lolita,’ keep in mind that what you’re reading about is the systematic rape of a young girl."
“What a delight it must be to read a book full of graphic accounts of sexual violence and still have the book not be about sexual violence to you!” she said. “Why is the depersonalized, apolitical reading the one we should fight for?” I admit, this was an angle I had not yet considered, and I recalled the severe annoyance I’d felt in college seminars and coffeehouse conversations whenever a white person would say a bit too ringingly that a book written by a person of color somehow “transcended race,” as if that was the highest compliment that could be paid to a work written by one of us poor, striving minorities. Every reliable figure, whether from academic study or from the Obama Administration, says that somewhere between one in four and one in five women are sexually assaulted during their time in college....
Every reliable figure?! That sentence really undercut Kang's credibility for me. I note that he says "sexually assaulted" and not "rape" (a word that appears 7 times in his article), and depending on what the meaning of sexually assaulted is — does it include getting grabbed? — the number is up for grabs. But we're seeing that notoriously spurious statistic in a paragraph that's in the middle of Kang's essay. It's a sop to the feminists, a place on his narrative arc before he ultimately delivers us back where he started and agrees with his own original orientation against trigger warnings.

In his final paragraph, he announces that "In a good novel... every word matters." So: "Any excess language—in the form of a trigger warning—amounts to a preëmptive defacement." The author should control the roll-out of shocks — lulling and luring you into a dark alley where — if it's his way — he can rape you mentally assault you.

Sentimentality/tenderness and the gas chamber.

Yesterday, I linked to "'Empathetically Correct' Is the New Politically Correct/The movement for 'trigger warnings' in college classrooms is part of a troubling trend toward protecting people from their own individual sensitivities," an Atlantic article by Karen Swallow Prior, who paraphrased Flannery O’Connor as "famously" saying "that sentimentality always leads to the gas chamber." Always?! I thought that was interesting though puzzling and used it in my headline.

Tamara Tabo emailed: 
I am not sure whether this will make you smile, cringe, roll your eyes, or simply click delete . . . .

I have worn my affection for Flannery O'Connor on my sleeve, so to speak, for about 13 years. This version of the quote comes from Walker Percy who lovingly purloined it from Flannery for use in his novel The Thanatos Syndrome.
Here's her photo:



Wow. Great picture. I can't imagine putting the words "gas chambers" on my body, but I wouldn't get any tattoo, and perhaps — given the use of tattoos by the Nazis — an argument against what they represent is the first or only acceptable tattoo. 

But why is opposition to tenderness an argument against what Nazis represent? And what's with the 2 versions of the aphorism? What meaning is there in the shift from sentimentality to tenderness? And how closely do the thoughts of Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy connect to present-day debates about empathy and trigger warnings?

MORE: In fact, O'Connor, like Percy, used the word "tenderness." She wrote:

May 23, 2014

"Thomas Piketty, the Lena Dunham of economics in 2014, is finally getting to his backlash phase."

"According to the Financial Times, Piketty’s world-rattling best seller on growing inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is based on data that may 'contain a series of errors that skew his findings,' including 'mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets,' which the business paper compares to the humiliating screw-ups found last year in an austerity study by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. Except Piketty is much more famous."

"Politically Incorrect was an American late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002..."

"... first on Comedy Central and then on ABC. Four guests (usually including at least one comedian) would debate topics across the political spectrum in what Maher once described as 'The McLaughlin Group on acid.' Of the 1300+ episodes produced, 190 can be viewed on YouTube."

At the link (to Metafilter) there are links to those 190 videos, with the date of the show and the names of the guests. What a great resource! What did Bryan Cranston and Little Richard talk about on June 14, 2002? Don't you want to know what Phil Hartman brought to the table on March 14, 1997? Ray Davies (with Suzanne Somers!) on April 29, 1998. Way too many crazy match-ups to mention them all in this little post, so I'll leave you with this:
Politically Incorrect was cancelled by ABC in 2002, thanks to an incident that happened six days after 9/11. Maher and political conservative Dinesh D'Souza had this conversation on the show:

Pinkness.

Trillium:

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Allium:

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Tulips:

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Tulips:

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All seen today, on my late afternoon walk. The trillium and the allium grown within the realm of Meadhouse. The tulips graced a nearby landscape.

"In an era when most people eat at the kitchen island or in front of the TV, the dining room has become perhaps the least-used room of the house."

"Now, some luxury home owners are eliminating their dining rooms altogether, instead using the space for libraries, dens and 'living pavilions' — in which dinner may sometimes be served."

How often do you eat a meal in your dining room? If you don't have a dining room, do you wish you had one (or do you realize that if you had one, you wouldn't use it much)?

Have you ever thought of converting your dining room into some other function room (or have you already done that)? To what specific function for which you don't currently have a room would you devote the room that is now your dining room if you decided to abolish the dining room in your house?

"Flannery O’Connor — a writer whose works are rife with warning label-worthy violence — famously said that sentimentality always leads to the gas chamber."

"Without any external anchor in law, mores, or trusted guides — or any openness to being challenged in one’s thinking — empathy turned inward will lead each of us to our individual prisons of the self."

That's the last paragraph of "'Empathetically Correct' Is the New Politically Correct/The movement for 'trigger warnings' in college classrooms is part of a troubling trend toward protecting people from their own individual sensitivities," by Karen Swallow Prior in The Atlantic.

Prior links to this New Yorker article from last year by Paul Bloom called "The Baby in the Well/The Case Against Empathy." Excerpt:
A “politics of empathy” doesn’t provide much clarity in the public sphere, either. Typically, political disputes involve a disagreement over whom we should empathize with....

"I have looked over the edge into the abyss, and I know, that's not where I wanted to be."

Said John All, who fell into a crevasse in Nepal. Watch the video, which includes video of himself at the bottom of his fall, having broken his arm and contemplating how to get back to the world of the living.

ALSO: In China, a baby fell out of a window and was lucky to get caught by a guy. The baby was caught by a passerby, and the catching was caught on video, I guess by someone who happened to be there. (Staged?)

AND: Bear saves baby bear.

Best-ever season of "Survivor"?

I'd said maybe this last season was the best, but Tungster at TV and Treadmills says it was "Heroes and Villains" (from 2010). "Heroes and Villains" had all returning players, and this season's "Brains, Brawn, and Beauty" season had an all-new cast. In the comments at my post, -Peder guessed that this season was great because of the absence of returning players:
It let all kinds of new players have room to breathe. Imagine if Tony had been on the same tribe as Russell or some previous alpha dog. It would have dominated the story line. Same [thing] with Kass, Spencer and Tasha. All of them were better because they were all new to the situation.
That made me comment:
Good point, but at the same time, I had the feeling that a lot of them were playing not just to win -- which is always a long shot -- but to get invited back as a return player.

I'd certainly like to see Spencer again, and Kass was auditioning for the female villain role that always seems to need to be filled.
Maybe another "Heroes and Villains" season is in the offing. 

"Was Jill Abramson fired because she hired too many women?"

Richard Johnson asks.
When Abramson became executive editor of the New York Times in August 2011, just one of the eight newsroom masthead editor jobs was held by a woman. I reported in January that four of the then-nine jobs were held by women.

By the time Abramson was fired last week, that number had increased to five, and Abramson had been trying to hire another woman, Janine Gibson, as co-managing editor for digital.
More here.

"News publishers regard Facebook much the same way ancient peoples perceived their gods: Powerful but mysterious..."

"... it can send monsoons that make the crops grow or a parching drought that brings famine, and it never has to explain why."
Just as the ancients looked to animal bones and cloud shapes for clues to the gods’ intentions, news executives and the journalists who work for them parse every utterance out of Menlo Park for insight into the company’s thinking.

So when a high-ranking product manager takes to his Facebook page to condemn the efforts of the most successful digital publishers, you better believe they’re going to pay attention.
That's Jeff Bercovici at Forbes, talking about some rant put up by a Facebook guy named Mike Hudack. Bercovici quotes a lot of the rant, including this, about Ezra Klein and Vox:
Personally I hoped that we would find a new home for serious journalism in a format that felt Internet-native and natural to people who grew up interacting with screens instead of just watching them from couches with bags of popcorn and a beer to keep their hands busy.

And instead they write stupid stories about how you should wash your jeans instead of freezing them.
And Ezra Klein himself deigned to drop a comment chez Hudack:
It’s funny: last night, we were having a conversation around the mix of content on Vox. And we were saying that if you just looked at what worked well on FB it was a lot lighter than if you looked at what was on the site. We actually try pretty hard not to be swallowed up by those incentives. But it’s a bit baffling to read a post by Facebook’s product director that just ignores the fact that those incentives exist.
What?! Facebook doesn't purport to be a news site transforming the news. Why should Hudack's critique of news media need to include an acknowledgment of such a mundane, banal reality? If Klein actually finds it "baffling" that Hudack didn't cut him some slack for plying readers with candy, he's utterly stupid. I don't think he is stupid. He's just not capable of delivering the website he promises and lacks any good excuses.

"The fact that you don't like that you got a bad grade doesn't give you the right to turn around and try to hurt somebody with false statements of fact."

"The fact that you are sitting behind a keyboard even anonymously doesn't give you the right to go out in an effort to systematically destroy somebody's career... Especially a well-respected professor like this and it shouldn't be permitted. That's not protected speech."

Professor sues former student.

"While physical violence is incredibly detrimental, the emotional enslavement extends beyond physical infliction."

"'Captors convince their victims that they have eyes everywhere and that even their thoughts are not safe,' [says Farrah Parker, executive director for the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women], adding that if a victim’s self-esteem, self-worth, hope, and belief in humanity have all been deflated, 'then she cannot conceptualize life beyond captivity.'"

From an article titled "California kidnapping case: Why didn't woman seek help years ago?/The woman who told police she was kidnapped at age 15, sexually abused, and forced to marry her abductor, reportedly had a car and Internet access. But captors can have a powerful emotional hold, experts say."

"The most relaxing part of most people's day is when they are on the job."

"This is across gender, across education level, across occupation level... So, a pretty strong finding."

More here:
Mothers who work full time and steadily across their twenties and thirties report better mental and physical health at age 45 than mothers who work part-time, who stay at home, or who experience repeated bouts of unemployment.

Further contradicting conventional wisdom, we found that women as well as men have lower levels of stress at work than at home. In fact, women may get more renewal from work than men, because unlike men, they report themselves happier at work than at home. It is men, not women, who report being happier at home than at work.

"Could there be a kind of 'good' bacteria in the dirt that fed off perspiration?"

"He knew there was a class of bacteria that derive their energy from ammonia rather than from carbon and grew convinced that horses (and possibly other mammals that engage in dirt bathing) would be covered in them. 'The only way that horses could evolve this behavior was if they had substantial evolutionary benefits from it,' he told me. Whitlock gathered his samples and brought them back to his makeshift home laboratory, where he skimmed off the dirt and grew the bacteria in an ammonia solution (to simulate sweat). The strain that emerged as the hardiest was indeed an ammonia oxidizer: N. eutropha. Here was one way to test his 'clean dirt theory': Whitlock put the bacteria in water and dumped them onto his head and body."

Whitlock = "David Whitlock, the M.I.T.-trained chemical engineer who invented AO+. He has not showered for the past 12 years."

May 22, 2014

Late afternoon.

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Talk about what you like in the comments, and — please — if you are enjoying this blog, consider making a cost-free contribution by doing some Amazon shopping through the Althouse portal.

"Reformers tend to be difficult people. But they come in different flavors."

Writes Michael Kinsley, reviewing Glenn Greenwald's book ("No Place to Hide").
There are ascetics, like Henry James’s Miss Birdseye (from “The Bostonians”), “who knew less about her fellow creatures, if possible, after 50 years of humanitary zeal, than on the day she had gone into the field to testify against the iniquity of most arrangements.”

There are narcissists like Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. These are self-canonized men who feel that, as saints, they are entitled to ignore the rules that constrain ordinary mortal...

Then there are political romantics, played in this evening’s performance by Edward Snowden, almost 31 years old, with the sweet, innocently conspiratorial worldview of a precocious teenager....

And Greenwald? In his mind, he is not a reformer but a ruthless revolutionary — Robespierre, or Trotsky. The ancien régime is corrupt through and through, and he is the man who will topple it....

Another installment in the continuing series, taking offense at the 9/11 museum.

"9/11 museum’s ‘comfort food’ cafe is a disgrace."
The great restaurateur promises a “soothing” experience, modeled on the “contemplative” spirit of a tea room.

Whew!

But the brains behind the museum apparently regard their cathartic masterpiece as just another cultural venue like MoMA or the Whitney, where [Danny] Meyer also runs restaurants.

I can go for tomato soup and grilled cheese after staring at Picassos for a few hours. My appetite isn’t the same after a tour through hell.
At some point the taking of offense itself becomes offensive.

Maybe out of respect for the dead, no one who still walks the face of the earth should ever laugh or take pleasure in anything ever again. More than 100 billion human beings have died, perhaps right where you are standing/sitting/reclining right now. How dare you ever do anything? Look out your window and visualize the ghosts of all the human beings who, over the course of history and prehistory, died within that view. Will you mourn for them... ceaselessly... until you are one of them? If they could look back and see you mourning for them... ceaselessly... until the day you join them, what would they think of you? If they saw you enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich, would they think: How dare you!?

"30 Things That Are Making You Fat."

Studies show!

And, also... "Stop Pretending You Ate That."

"The recovering alcoholic may well have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. But at least he is not living a drunken lie."

"Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans," writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in "The Case for Reparations."
Won’t reparations divide us? Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a number on something we feel but cannot say—that American prosperity was ill-gotten and selective in its distribution. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.

What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.
And here's Isaac Chotiner in "Get Ready for a National Debate About Slavery Reparations."
The best argument against Coates's proposals is simply that they will prove to be more trouble than they are worth, i.e. that their practical effect will be a negative one... But... [i]f we can't even have the conversation he wants because people are so defensive or unwilling (or plain racist), it's just more evidence for what his essay rightfully bemoans.
ADDED: Look at the fluid interchangeability of "reparations" and "the conversation." Are we talking about "the conversation about race" that we've been talking about (not) having for the last 2 decades? This almost feels like a negotiation about the conversation, where the demand for "reparations" is designed to get your attention and to prepare you to feel relieved that all you really need to submit to is the conversation.

But, as has often been observed, the supposedly desirable conversation isn't a real conversation. On one level, there's nothing to debate. No one who is to be taken seriously opposes the high level abstraction that is racial equality. On a less abstract level, debate isn't really wanted. The conversation-seekers want to teach lessons and have those lessons acknowledged and taken to heart. There is resistance to that kind of conversation, and I don't think it will be overcome by presenting it in terms of "reparations."

Coates speaks of "spiritual renewal." He professes concern about our national spirit, our our national "consciousness," and our national "self-image," our national "psyche." This is the stuff of religion and its substitutes. I don't believe in or really want awakenings on a grand scale. The human mind belongs to the individual. I would resist the charms of relocating psychic and spiritual matters to the nation.

AND: Coates's analogy to the recovering alcoholic makes my point. The recovering alcoholic is an individual, with an individual problem, going through a personal psychological (and physiological) process. It's imaginative but ultimately specious — and dangerous — to think of the nation as a person.

Looking — from the air — for 200 schoolgirls somewhere in jungle the size of West Virginia.

"I don’t think anybody’s underestimating the level of difficulty in both finding them and then being able to launch some kind of recovery mission," said the Pentagon press secretary.

I have no idea how much connection there is between what they say they are doing and what they are actually doing. Why say it before it's done unless that's not what you are doing? Disinformation. Propaganda. To bamboozle them... or us?

"Hillary Clinton’s world was so worried about a Republican investigation of the Benghazi attacks, they sent a message to House Democrats: We need backup."

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) publicly considered boycotting the panel, an idea that Clinton supporters feared would leave the potential 2016 candidate exposed to the enemy fire of House Republicans. So Clinton emissaries launched a back channel campaign, contacting several House Democratic lawmakers and aides to say they’d prefer Democrats participate, according to sources familiar with the conversations. Pelosi’s staff said they have not heard from Clinton’s camp."

So begins the article in Politico. What's supposed to be surprising here? Obviously, the Democrats care about the effect on the investigation on upcoming elections, and they've been trying to figure out whether their attacks on what the Republicans are doing will be more effective from the outside or the inside. I suspect the wavering position on whether or not to participate — assuming it wasn't always only theater — has to do with the whether one focuses on the 2014 elections or looks further ahead to 2016. If the Clintons sent what Politico tellingly terms a "We need backup" message, they were trying to drag the House Democrats away from their immediate concern about winning their districts this fall and into the service of Hillary Clinton's 2016 interests. Think about why staying out of the hearings seems like a good position for fighting to win this October, but getting friendly faces on the inside is so important to the longer game of Hillary's winning the presidency in 2016. Is she not woman enough to face down that panel of Republicans on her own? She needs Elijah Cummings and company to back her up?

"We need backup" is a reminder of the failure of the United States to respond to the request for backup from those under attack in Benghazi.

May 21, 2014

Did Google screw Metafilter?

Google must fend off websites that game its ranking system, but did Metafilter get caught in the crossfire? Sad! I don't think there's anything on line that I've been as devoted to for as long as Metafilter. At least it seems that it will continue to limp along, unlike Television Without Pity, my other longtime favorite, which has died.

Did you — like us — watch the finales for "American Idol" and "Survivor" tonight?

Spoil away in the comments. I'll just say, without spoiling, that "Survivor" had perhaps its best season ever. What a great show tonight! As for "American Idol," it was a strange season, and maybe the best thing tonight was when last week's loser, Alex Preston, did a duet with Jason Mraz. I liked the absence of yelling, and now the old show's gone quiet until 2015. What will we watch on TV? Other than Brewers games I mean.

Early evening, flowering trees.

90 years ago today: Leopold and Loeb, seeing themselves as Nietzschean supermen, murdered Bobby Franks.

Leopold supposedly had an IQ of 210, and he had written to Loeb:  "A superman... is, on account of certain superior qualities inherent in him, exempted from the ordinary laws which govern men. He is not liable for anything he may do."

At trial, they were defended by Clarence Darrow, who delivered a 12-hour closing argument that included lines like:
This terrible crime was inherent in his organism, and it came from some ancestor... Is any blame attached because somebody took Nietzsche's philosophy seriously and fashioned his life upon it?... It is hardly fair to hang a 19-year-old boy for the philosophy that was taught him at the university.
The very entertaining Hitchcock movie "Rope" is based on this incident, and Jimmy Stewart plays the role of the professor who finds out where the philosophy he taught has led.

Rejecting the advice of oldsters Patti Smith and David Byrne...

... artists continue to gravitate to New York City. Why won't they congregate in Detroit?
Smith, the “godmother of punk,” told an audience in 2010 to “find a new city” as New York had “closed itself off to the young and the struggling.” Byrne, co-founder of the new wave rock band Talking Heads, wrote last year that too many neighborhoods had become “pleasure domes for the rich” with “no room for fresh creative types,” in contrast with when he arrived in the 1970s....

GOP Governor Tom Corbett declines to appeal the federal district court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

"I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman," he says, but "My duties as governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the courts and make a judgment as to the likelihood of a successful appeal."
The announcement came on what amounts to the first day of the general election for governor, a race where Mr. Corbett, a Republican, is seen as vulnerable. On Tuesday, businessman Tom Wolf, who supports gay-marriage rights, won the Democratic primary.

Mr. Corbett's announcement was a fresh sign that the politics of gay marriage are rapidly changing. A string of Republican governors have now declined to either appeal or criticize similar rulings in their own states, including Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico.

"It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness."

Said Pharrell Williams, whose song "Happy" was appropriated for the purpose of dancing in a YouTube video made in Iran.
Many Twitter users had used the hashtag #freehappyiranians to put pressure on the Iranian authorities to release the dancers.
Yeah, I know, hashtags. But the kids have been freed — on bail, at least. 

Here's the video at YouTube, where there are many comments, including the funny but inappropriate:
Khamenei was probably sick of hearing this annoying song on the radio so many times and ordered them arrested for making him listen to it again. I don't blame him. The long, hipster beard and skinny jeans doesn't help their case either. I wish being a hipster was illegal all over the world.
Free speech. Know it. Live it. Use it.

ADDED: This post caused me to make a Pharrell Williams tag. I resist making tags on individual names, and I'd like to weed out all the old tags on names that ended up only being used once, but I knew I'd blogged at least once before about Pharrell Williams (when he wore shorts to the Oscars), but I see there was one other post about a year ago: "Is Will.i.am suing Pharrell Williams for using 'I am OTHER' and horning in on his 'I am'?" That made me wonder what had happened to the lawsuit, and I wanted to drop an update that had escaped my notice: They settled.

At the Moral Dog Café...



... the clouds are angry.

About that Washington Post article on dog morality.

While I agree with this dog researcher that dogs at play have lots of signaling gestures and social interactions, I'm not buying the bigger claims about how important this study is for understanding human beings:
[S]tudying dog play is so important, [cognitive ethologist Marc] Bekoff says.... It could ultimately shed light on the evolution of human emotions and how we came to build a civilization based on laws and cooperation, empathy and altruism.

Play may seem a frivolous activity, but because it is not simply a survival reflex, it provides the best opportunity to explore who the animal really is, to peer perhaps into her soul. “When we study play in dogs,” Bekoff says, “we study ourselves.”
Well, in one sense, when we study anything, we study ourselves. When we gaze into crystal balls and tea leaves, we see ourselves. Anything that focuses and facilitates human reflection is likely to cause a human being to see human beings.

Human beings are very self-centered and self-absorbed, and for us, it always comes back to us. Dogs, on the other hand, are dogs. We do love to project ourselves onto dogs, and we see ourselves in them, especially those of us who enjoy ourselves and find personal satisfaction in spending time with dogs.

Plenty of us avoid dogs and spend our time looking at something else — cats, maybe, or clouds — and in what we look at we see ourselves. Whenever we are drawn to look at something for a long time, it's inherent in the activity that we will get the idea that we are really seeing something about us, the human beings.

But to do science, we must overcome this inclination. I suspect that the belief that dogs are like people is one of the great delusions to which human beings fall prey.

Dog morality? You wish.

ADDED: Unbeknownst to me, Meade was simultaneously blogging the same article and pulled the same quote: "When we study play in dogs, we study ourselves."

"They were drinking, eating and laughing when this is pretty much a gravesite."

"I don’t think alcohol should be allowed in there. It’s a sacred ground and they desecrated it."

"AP Editor Accidentally Adds Her Buzzfeed Cover Letter to Photo Caption."

So painful for this poor woman. For everyone else, it's apparently an occasion to make fun of her in the style of a Buzzfeed article (since, of course, her cover letter is written in an effort to demonstrate capacity to write in the style of Buzzfeed). Maybe Buzzfeed could do listicle of text from cover letters it has received that strive after Buzzfeed style. Suddenly, I loathe the idea of professional writing.

"If we did implement a wealth tax, should it tax tenure?"

"Professorial tenure is, after all, a valuable asset. As long as you show up and teach your classes, and you don’t make passes at your students or steal from the department’s petty cash drawer, you can draw a paycheck for the rest of your working life."

That's Megan McArdle, possibly pushing back the lefty academics who are enthusiastic about taxing wealth.

Midway through the piece, she shifts topics from tenure as wealth to the enjoying your job as wealth. Instead of continuing with the job of professor — a job I find immensely enjoyable — she talks about the job of big-media news reporter — maybe because it's the job she knows but maybe because she wants to push back lefty reporters.

She compares the job of big-media news reporters to the job of someone working in a non-famous accounting department. This part of the article amused me because — even though I agree jobs that pay the same may have greatly different value — McArdle, a big-media reporter, assumes that being a big-media reporter is immensely more enjoyable than working in accounting. She regards things like work travel and getting fed at receptions and seeing that other people recognize the name of your employer as big pluses. But some people like to stay close to home and loath aspects of work that resemble genuine social functions with friends and scoff or puzzle at lines like: "When [a big-media reporter] tells people where he works, he gets to see their eyes light up and his impressiveness immediately rise four notches — six, if he reports on something really cool."

It's far more subjective than McArdle acknowledges. But even if we could all agree that it's better to eat out and get far from home and impress people with the name of your employer, we couldn't put a number on it. Imagine doing your taxes and getting to the line where you're supposed to put a dollar value on the enjoyability of your job. Did you just double your salary? Or were you trying to eke out a deduction?

McArdle doesn't really support trying to tax these things. She's mainly brainstorming in resistance to the charms of the book she is reading, Thomas Piketty’s "Capital in the Twenty-First Century."

ADDED: Rereading my phrase "aspects of work that resemble genuine social functions with friends," I am reminded of the idea of the "uncanny valley":
The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some human observers. Examples can be found in the fields of robotics, 3D computer animation, and in medical fields such as burn reconstruction, infectious diseases, neurological conditions, and plastic surgery. The "valley" refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of humans as subjects move toward a healthy, natural human likeness described in a function of a subject's aesthetic acceptability.
I think that some human observers feel this kind of revulsion about work-related social events. Isn't this what the TV show "The Office" was often about? I have to ask because I've barely ever watched the show, which I can't enjoy because of how awful these events do feel to me. It's the uncanny valley between work and your personal life. There are people who feel good in that place, and they are not only revolting, like a too-realistic robot, but they are often in a position to compel you to participate in these events, and they are powered on by their belief that they are making the workplace better and taking on the task of staging these horrors.

"Maybe there are people who read dystopian tales for self-improvement the way people used to read sermons, or for amusement..."

"... people who can edit out the very details that have most preoccupied the person who made them up, and read for the story alone. The stories, boiled down, are usually at bottom just the good old stories...."
For the writer, besides the fun of getting things off his chest, the pleasure must be in his own ingenuity, the inner consistency of the world he’s worked out, forecasting the logical evolutions of present conditions, making up the new names (B-Mor for Baltimore), finding the clever equivalences. A pitfall of dystopian novels is that their writers can become too absorbed in the details of their invented worlds, and in the inner consistency of their visions, which can produce long, perhaps, to some, uninteresting descriptions....
Long, uninteresting description omitted.
There’s an inherent difficulty in sharing someone else’s imaginary land: the farther it departs from what the reader knows, no matter how vividly described, the less telling it is....

If the wellsprings of novel-writing are mysterious, there’s surely a hint of admonition, and an admonitory project is especially clear in dystopia. A question is: Why write in an unlovable genre with an inevitably hectoring tone?

"In 3 states Tuesday night, long-serving lawmakers rolled over tea party opponents."

"Eight-term Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson beat back a challenger supported by Club for Growth, the most influential conservative group targeting elected officials in primaries. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Bill Shuster easily dispatched an opponent once touted as a tea party warrior."
Overshadowing the whole night was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decisive triumph over Matt Bevin, a conservative Louisville investor whose bid drew support from outside groups such as the Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks. Bevin proved entirely unequal to the task of fighting McConnell and saw his public image shredded as McConnell’s campaign picked apart his record on issues from bank bailouts to cockfighting.
 AND: Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law fails in her effort to get back to Congress, despite help from Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"I did reimburse them," Dinesh D’Souza admitted, pleading guilty in federal court yesterday.

"I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids. I deeply regret my conduct."

"Intriguing Lime-Green Blobs Appear In The Andes Mountains."

"Are They Alive?"

May 20, 2014

Oh! So... did you see there's another basketball ball villain?

It's not just Don Sterling anymore.

ADDED: "The emails were so vulgar that most of their content could not be printed here," writes the NYT.
The emails were so vulgar that most of their content could not be printed here. But if you can imagine how a 14-year-old, puberty-driven boy might discuss girls to his 14-year-old, puberty-driven friends, you pretty much have an idea of what Scudamore — a 54-year-old father of five, including two daughters — considered appropriate banter in his work email.

Cinematography.

Gordon Willis.

"The Chemistry Joke That Got a Student Suspended."

"Administrators were not pleased once they figured it out."

"Caleb Johnson — the 23-year-old rocker from North Carolina... — based his appeal on a style of music that fell from fashion two decades ago."

"Jena Irene, a 17-year-old from Farmington Hills, Mich., has been... the one singer who has expressed an interest in current pop, the only person whose performances have felt like they were geared more for the kids than the grown-ups. She'll have a hard time beating Johnson, easily the season's most polished and consistent entertainer. But her penchant for Paramore-style rock, combined with the occasional foray into EDM rhythms and tender piano moments, makes her the only person who has a chance of coming off this show and making any kind of mark on the music scene."

Are you watching the "American Idol" finale tonight?

Are you watching?
  
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"So the 'good' news is that it might take 1000 years (or longer) to raise sea levels several tens of feet..."

"... and the choices we make now can affect the rate of rise and whether we ultimately blow past 69 feet to beyond 200 feet."

Flowering trees, early evening.





Just now, in the Arboretum.

"Actor Michael Jace called police himself to report... 'I shot my wife'...."

"... the actor stayed on the phone, as instructed, until LAPD arrived and found his 40-year-old wife, April Jace dead."
Jace's 2 kids witnessed him allegedly shooting and killing their mom. The kids — both under 10 — were extremely upset and taken to the police station. We're told cops are angry it took Children's Services 4 hours to get to the station and take the kids to the home of a family member where they could be comforted.

"I suggest sheep submit."



Says Meade, about Gavin, the Border Collie.

Gallup depicts the Democrats' problem in the 2014 elections.



Details in text here.

"I jokingly refer to OkCupid as the Man Catalog. Clicking through profiles feels like sifting through the pages of the latest fall trends."

"Oh, that 35-year-old who plays the mandolin would look great sitting next to me at the Weary Traveler; and that blue-eyed 30-year-old who likes to cook, he'd pair well with my appetite for Italian food."

From an Isthmus article titled "Looking for love online: Is Madison's singles pool big enough for dating success?"

Sulzberger explains himself with an inexplicable metaphor: "You don’t cut off one arm, and then wait and cut off the other."

In an interview with Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison. The arm-lopping metaphor refers to the quick, brutally public axing of Jill Abramson.

The key revelation in this interview is the severity of Baquet's reaction to the recruitment of "Janine Gibson, the U.S. editor of the Guardian newspaper, who had worked with various Times editors, notably Dean Baquet, on stories about the N.S.A. documents revealed by Edward Snowden."

Whatever happened to Vox and FiveThirtyEight?

So Ezra Klein and Nate Silver took flight from The Washington Post and The New York Times, respectively, and announced that they were putting together these journalism-transforming websites that were unveiled soon enough to massive attention. But the success of a website has to do with the continual drawing of eyeballs, and there ought to be a constant flow of linkable material that is, in fact, getting linked. I'm not seeing it. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but are people reading and talking about articles at Vox and FiveThirtyEight?

At FiveThirtyEight right now, the front page is full of things I'm not going to click through to: "Only 11 States Have Ever Elected Both a Female Governor And Senator," "How Americans Like Their Steak," "This Man Has Worked For the NBA For the League’s Entire History," "Same-Sex Couples Settle Down More Often in States That Welcome Them," "Eat More Nuts," etc. Okay, I clicked on something, "The Power Bob," which I knew would be about hairstyles, coming from Mona Chalabi, and I got to: "Are Businesswomen With Short Hair a Cut Above the Rest?" Chalabi got out the old 70s style manual "Dress for Success," which showed 5 patterns of women's hairstyles and deemed 2 of them bad for success — "too long" and "too curly." She then classified the hairstyles of the 50 most-powerful women in business today, and found that 8 had "too long" and 1 had "too curly." Chalabi declared herself depressed about her own career prospects, since her hair is long and curly. FiveThirtyEight is oriented to analyzing statistics, and Chalabi generated a statistical study, but it's completely silly, based on a 36-year-old book telling younger people how to become successful and a lot of pictures of older women who already are successful, and ending up with bloggish emphasis on the writer's own emotional state.

At Vox, I'm so put off by the central design concept — yellow highlighter — and all the articles that begin with "Everything You Need to Know About" that I can hardly force myself to look for something to read, but I'll go with "Jill Abramson's ouster from the New York Times," because that's a story I've been following and because it's written by Matthew Yglesias and oh, yeah, they got Matt Yglesias slightly lit up my interest. The format surprises me. It's like I've hit the "Abramson" tag on a blog, and I'm looking at a vertical timeline of posts on the subject. I click on the second one down, titled "The NYT's great explanation of disruption," and I get to "Read the New York Times' insanely clear explanation of disruption," which is written not by Yglesias but by Ezra Klein. Insanely clear. Is that sarcasm or has "insanely" become a normal intensifier like "very"? Serendipitously, the topic of disruption relates to FiveThirtyEight and Vox. The Times text says: "Today a pack of news startups are hoping to 'disrupt' our industry by attacking the strongest incumbent — The New York Times." Ezra, restating the NYT text, reveals that "insanely" really did just mean "very." I am now as immunized to the word "insanely" as I am to the phrase "Everything You Need to Know About."

And that's everything I need to know for now about the insanely disruptive websites Vox and FiveThirtyEight.

ADDED: Proofreading, I got the bloggish, statistics-minded idea of seeing if this was the first time in 10 years of blogging that I had used the word "serendipitously." It turns out I'd used it once before, in this sentence: "Car sticker encountered in Madison, that I serendipitously only had to wait 3 days to find a use for. " The sticker in my then 3-day-old photograph said: "Get your ass to Mars."

"NRA Thinks #BringBackOurGirls Hashtag Isn't 2nd Amendment-y Enough."

Talking Points Memo doubles down on cutesiness. Those who object to the hashtag think it's a conspicuously lame and unserious response to something that deserves strength and seriousness. The response to the objection is to taunt with goofball silliness. Because here in America, we have this long-running standoff about guns, all readers know which side they are on, and it's a relief to retreat to the comfort of the usual political blather.

"Hey! Hillary’s brain is off-limits! Leave her health records alone! Democrats are right..."

"... scouring records of a female candidate is just politics of personal destruction, and for the media to engage in it would be unfair, unethical, and absolutely UNPRECEDENTED. You can’t probe a woman like that because, well, it’s a war on women! Bunch of sexist, big meanies engaging in something heretofore unheard of, for shame...."

From the (damaged?) brain of Sarah Palin: sarcasm you don't need an undamaged brain to recognize as sarcasm.

May 19, 2014

Will that liberal press give that terrible right winger Dennis Miller his due?

Click through the slide show and see as New York Magazine's Vulture does "A Complete Ranking of Saturday Night Live ‘Weekend Update’ Anchors."  There have been "17 anchor iterations to sit behind the 'Weekend Update' desk over the years," and I will tell you that Christopher Guest (1984-85) is dead last, at #17.

"A lot of people told me that I might have done better if I ‘got rid of all that hair, makeup, and those gaudy clothes.'"

"And I said, 'No, I don’t, because this is how I feel comfortable,' I’m not a natural beauty. I kinda patterned myself after the town tramp in our hometown because she had all that yellow hair and makeup. I always wanted that. I always felt more INSIDE than I was on the outside. I figure when I’m 100 years old, I’ll look like Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor. 'Cause it’s almost like a cartoon look. But it’s the way I feel comfortable."

Said Dolly Parton. 

"The New York Times is lawyering again in defense of the Affordable Care Act in an editorial tendentiously titled 'More Specious Attacks on Reform.'"

"Hence the tendentious title of this post," writes Randy Barnett, in a post titled "Another 'specious' defense of Obamacare."
In reality, legal arguments typically have two sides and dismissing one as specious (or frivolous) is almost always unwarranted and undermines the credibility of the critic, in this case the editorial writer of the Times. The editorial gets off on the wrong foot here.
There is an old argumentative tactic of characterizing the opponent's argument as frivolous, not passing the "laugh test," etc. Sometimes that should work, but it's overused, notably in the NYT.

In this case, the argument the NYT would like readers to feel free to dismiss out of hand is based on the Origination Clause.

"I'm glad you gave it the 'smiles' tag."



"That deserved it," I said to Meade. And if you go to this link, you'll see why I also said: "Keep on truckin'."

"Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown. To sell baubles I find quite shocking and repugnant."

"I think it’s a money-making venture to support inflated salaries, and they’re willing to do it over my son’s dead body."

Related: "Man Feeling Guilty About Chowing Down At 9/11 Museum Café."

"My parents never went anywhere. My father probably thought the capital of the world was wherever he was at the time."

"It couldn't possibly be... anyplace [other than] where he and his wife were, in their own home. That, to them, was the capital of the world."

"Satanism as a vessel for symbolic rationalism is a bad, overly abrasive strategy for those who strive for a secularist world."

"I personally disagree with the tactic. But these soft-core Satanists have every right to challenge theism in whatever fashion, so long as their strategy is not based on intimidation or the provocation of violence."

"Don't know what you said, Ann, but you pissed someone off. Maybe Xi and Li like to wear shorts."

"You were blocked by the Great Firewall of China and as a result I had to go two weeks without Althouse. I am back in the states and happily reading through everything I missed now."

Email from a reader with the subject line "I missed you in China."

Ira Glass had "no idea" who Jill Abramson is...

... and, informed of the fuss over her firing, said:
I hate reading media news so I actively sort of — I'm not interested in someone getting fired. No disrespect to people that are, but I literally had no idea who she was, or that she got fired until this moment.
On this one, Ira Glass...
  
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ADDED: I know, I know... I left off the option: I have no idea who Ira Glass is and I'm not interested in people not being interested in someone getting fired. No disrespect to people who are, but I literally had no idea who he was or that he was uninterested in media news until this moment.

Supercell thunderstorm in Wyoming.

Timelapse-photographed yesterday:

At Wake Forest University this morning, Jill Abramson delivered a commencement address and — I think! — a threat.

I listened to the whole thing — here — so you don't have to. The basic theme is that life is always unfinished business and the best test of your character is how you deal with setbacks. This is the most interesting part:
Sure, losing a job you love hurts, but the work I revere, journalism that holds powerful institutions and people accountable, is what makes our democracy so resilient. This is the work I will remain very much a part of.... What's next for me? I don't know!
Well, I kind of think I know. You're going to continue the work you love — the work you revere — by holding the powerful institution that is the New York Times and the powerful person who is Arthur Sulzberger Jr. accountable. That is the work that makes our democracy so resilient, the work you're obviously already very much a part of.

And nice job, so far, Jill. You're demonstrating, from the outside of the NYT, how good you are at the work they ousted you from, the work as you define it, holding powerful institutions and people accountable. They didn't like the way you did it from the inside, and they're not going to like the way you do it from the outside.

Carry on!

"My feeling about the gay community — first off, you can’t live in Hollywood and get along in this business and be in theater companies and improv companies and have issues with gay people."

Says Adam Carolla.
If you [can't] work with gay people, you’re gonna have a difficult time in Hollywood. There’s plenty of gay people and they’re in positions above you. You’re not going to get your movie directed. I don’t have a problem with it — they’ve just turned into a mafia and demanding everyone apologize for every joke and retract every statement.

Lynx.

Link.

"A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it."

Another example — this one in Slate, by Jamelle Bouie — of the endless imprecations to talk about race. This one focuses on millennials, and you can see the liberal's fear that the new generation will drift into the conservative's colorblindness approach. What if the young folks are joining the John Roberts camp and not opening their hearts to Sonia Sotomayor's call "to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race"?

The downside of saying the wrong thing is in their face day to day, and the upside of freedom of speech is more of a vague societal interest than something you might actually want to whip out and use with abandon. One wrong word and your life could be ruined. It's an age of repression, and maybe if we repress it enough, the idea of race could be obliterated.

No, that's absurd, but no more absurd than the come-on-everybody-we-need-to-talk-about-race rallying cries.

It's a good thing the forebears forced forbearance.

Cass Sunstein has a New York Review of Books review of Justice Stevens's book plumping for amending the Constitution to reverse 6 doctrines he abhors. The book is titled "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution," and the book review's spiffier title is  "The Refounding Father."

Words that don't appear in the text of Sunstein's review: "framer," "framers," "founder," "founders," "father," "fathers," "forefather," "forefathers." It's a marvel how Sunstein did that. He says "authors of the Constitution" once, and "the founding generation" twice. He never says "forebears" but he does say "forbearance" a lot, referring to the way Americans have refrained over the years from amending the Constitution (in part, because the framers made the Constitution so hard to amend).

Here's my favorite "forbearance" paragraph:
You might think that the Constitution would be better if one or more [amendments] were part of it, but you might agree that the general pattern of forbearance is also in the national interest. You might even think that the founding generation was wise to make forbearance more likely, if only because of the importance of constitutional stability and the risk of harmful or ill-considered amendments. There could well be strong national majorities in favor of some amendments that Justice Stevens and civil libertarians would deplore, while national majorities would be exceedingly difficult to muster for some of the amendments that he proposes — a point that might strengthen the case for forbearance. And if you approve of forbearance, you might be inclined to reject most or even all of Stevens’s proposals for constitutional change, even if you think that on most or even all of them, he is right as a matter of public policy.

"If one of the most powerful women in the world, helming an organization that champions equal pay, might have been punished for advocating for herself, what hope is there for the rest of us?"

That's the question women have reason to be asking on the occasion of the ousting of Jill Abramson, says The Nation's Michelle Goldberg.

But Goldberg's main subject is how Abramson was on the right side of a few internal debates about journalism — things that were not about gender, like ads that look like editorial content, infusing the text with video, and looking into the BBC sex scandal. The NYT CEO Mark Thompson came to the job from the BBC:
“After Thompson had been hired for the job but before he’d started, Abramson sent Matthew Purdy, a hard-charging investigative reporter, to London to examine Thompson’s role in the Jimmy Savile scandal at the BBC,” writes [Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine]. “Abramson’s relationship with the two executives never recovered. ‘Mark Thompson was fucking pissed,’ a source explained. ‘He was really angry with the Purdy stuff.’ So was Sulzberger. ‘He was livid, in a very passive-aggressive way. These were a set of headaches Jill had created for Arthur.’”

... The suggestion Abramson should have ignored this story because it embarrassed a powerful Times hire says something troubling about the paper’s priorities.

On the cover of this week's New Yorker: a Saul Steinberg drawing of a Milwaukee Braves catcher.

The drawing is from 1954, when the great artist followed what was Milwaukee's baseball team back then. At the link, there's also a slideshow of drawings from Steinberg's baseball sketchbook, including a couple really nice New York Yankees drawings and a fine Milwaukee Brave (#5 (I especially like all the writing on the bat)).

"As we know from experience, in the world of Democratic Party institutions, the choice between an older white woman and a younger black man is an easy one."

Writes Instapundit, on the subject of Dean Baquet's her-or-me ultimatum at the NYT.

And I said something similar, talking to Glenn Loury the other day about the NYT ousting the woman. This is only 17 seconds, so come on, don't be video averse. Watch this:



AND: Notice this detail from Ken Auletta's "Why Jill Abramson Was Fired: Part III," published yesterday in The New Yorker (boldface added):
Extremely well-informed sources at the paper familiar with the reasons for Abramson’s dismissal have also given this account to The New Yorker: they say that Abramson was, essentially, fired for cause, for lying to Sulzberger that she had squared Gibson’s rank and arrival with Baquet when, in fact, she had not. The sources say she misled Sulzberger when she said, in person and by e-mail, that she had consulted with Baquet about the offer to Gibson and had worked it all out in detail with him. Baquet was furious. At a dinner with Sulzberger, Baquet basically described the incident as a humiliation. He could no longer work with Abramson. It was him or her. (Politico reported that, when Sulzberger shared Baquet’s distress with Abramson, she persisted in assuring him that she had told Baquet everything.) According to this account, her breach with Baquet and Sulzberger was irrevocable. Sulzberger decided to fire Abramson and replace her with Baquet, thus making him the first African-American executive editor of the paper—but under the most sour, trying, and confused circumstances.
Who are the "extremely well-informed sources"? Baquet? Sulzberger? Abramson? It would have to be at least 2 out of 3 of them for this all to be based on first-hand witnesses. In this version, there is a conflict in the story that was told about the job offer to Gibson, and one could have gone easy on Abramson and Baquet and said that perhaps the two had different understandings of what they were talking about when they talked about Gibson.

But we are told that Sulzberger fired Abramson for lying, and if that is true, it means that Sulzberger saw it as a direct conflict in which only one person could be telling the truth and the other was a liar, and he decided the liar was Abramson. Why?

If it was Baquet who said he'll leave if she stays, Sulzberger may have chosen to believe Baquet, because if he could only have one or the other, he wanted Baquet and/or he wanted Abramson out anyway. Deciding that Abramson was the liar not only worked to keep Baquet, it bolstered the cause for firing Abramson. So did Sulzberger decide that only Baquet was telling the truth (and not Abramson or both or neither) pursuit to a valid methodology of lie detection or was Sulzberger getting the staffing the way he wanted it anyway and the cover story as good as possible?

"I have no idea if we’ll stay together for the next 50 years, file for divorce next month, or which decision would make me happier."

Writes the pseudonymous Amanda Kling at the end of a Salon piece with the long title "I finally had an orgasm, and my husband didn’t even know/I went to a sex class to spice up our marriage. The toy I bought worked — but afterward, I felt lonelier than ever."
There are still wonderful moments when I look at my husband searching in vain for his pants in the morning, or sitting at his laptop trolling goodreads.com, and I think to myself, “OK, he’s going to be absolutely adorable at 85.” There are times when I see him standing in line next to a little girl at our neighborhood bakery, and I imagine him giving a look, not the look, but a loving, awe-inspired gaze toward our future daughter. I honestly cannot imagine what my future would look like without him.

I suppose I have to decide whether the promise of how things could get better will outweigh what has gone wrong so far. Maybe all of the things I think have gone “wrong” are just the inevitable ups and downs of any long-term relationship. Maybe if I just stop waiting for the perfect look or the perfect moment of sexual intimacy, and start accepting that this longing for more may always be there, I can finally start to enjoy my reality again.
Such are the journalings of a woman talking herself into staying with her husband. Amanda Kling ≈ a man to cling.

Much more sex at the link. I thought you might like the view into a woman's head as she's weighing the option of leaving, or, perhaps more accurately, weighing the option of permanence in an inadequate sexual relationship.

They don't have children yet, so one can only hope that weighing "the promise of how things could get better" doesn't involve experimenting with the creation of new human beings. And in the absence of any actual children, the phrase "a loving, awe-inspired gaze toward our future daughter" is disconcerting. If you have a child, it might not be a female child — a little you — and, male or female, a child does not arrive in the world for the purpose of inspiring awe or posing in cake-shop tableaux that make your husband look romantic.

As for the husband... "searching in vain for his pants" is a telling phrase.

May 18, 2014

David Carr questions "whether The Times can convince female employees that it is a fair place to work, with ample opportunity to advance."

He writes that he has "heard from several talented young women who are a big part of The New York Times’s future." One said: “I really don’t see a path for me here... Are we O.K.?”

Carr also reveals — or this is the first place I've seen this — that Dean Baquet, the new executive editor, laid down an ultimatum to the publisher Arthur Sulzberger, saying "he would leave the paper because he found the situation untenable" (i.e., it's her or me).

ADDED: Do you get leverage to oust a white woman when you use a black man as your fulcrum?

I talk to Glenn Loury about how the NYT called Jill Abramson a "bitch," which leads to a discussion of Clarence Thomas...

... whom Abramson wrote a book about and whom Loury was friends with back in the Reagan Era. Loury responds, based on his personal eyewitness, to the contention that Clarence Thomas had pictures of naked women on his apartment wall (and I'm in the so-what-if-he-did? mode). Loury suggests that it's "crazy" to read between the lines of what other people say and write, and I say it's naive and boring not to. There's some comparison of unspoken race and sex discrimination that leads to a discussion of whether we're any better off having had the experience of a First Black President and what this might mean about the projected benefits of a First Female President, especially if that First Female President is Hillary.



Here's my blog post from 3 days ago on "How the NYT called Jill Abramson... a bitch" — which is what I'm talking about in the beginning of the diavlog.

Here's my blog post about Abramson's book about Clarence Thomas (including the quote about Thomas's approach to interior decoration).

And let me break out this specific clip about pay equity, in which I talk about the hypocrisy of the NYT and Glenn (the economist) says "the 77¢-on-the -dollar talk is infantile... absurd... demagoguery."

"The House Ducks on Defense."

Headline on an editorial at the NYT that I don't think is about vicious mallards patrolling the periphery of the suburban homestead, but that's what I pictured....

Kim Jong-un "sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident."

"A 23-story apartment building that may have housed more than 90 families collapsed in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, last week..."
Earlier Sunday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that the accident occurred at an apartment construction site in the Pyongchon district of Pyongyang on Tuesday, blaming “sloppy building” and “irresponsible supervision and control.” It said there were “human casualties” but did not give figures.

Putting the prom in promenade.

I was contemplating the Golden Pavilion from across a field of grass and wild tulips:



Then, in flowed a progression of teenagers in prom-wear, the girls all in bright colored strapless gowns with big, flouncy skirts:

"The Clintons are now saying how dare you bring up health and age, and they were doing it with abandon in 1996."

Said Karl Rove, referring to how the GOP candidate Bob Dole was treated. But all of Rove's examples are sneaky references to age, like choosing photos of Dole looking particularly old or calling his speech "tired, old, worn-out rhetoric." That's not bringing up health and age "with abandon."

Where's the direct statement from "the Clintons" saying Bob Dole is old? I know that was the message at the time, and it was, in fact, very successfully conveyed.

Rove needs to be accurate or he just makes himself an easy target. Maybe he's drawing fire on purpose here, but he's got a good point to make, and then he overstates it and looks like a liar. Is that something he's in control of — looking like a liar even when he's essentially telling the truth — or is that something he does with abandon?

Arachnophobia...

... the real story behind the Solange attack on Jay-Z.

Calling a bitch a "bitch."

I said it 3 days ago: "How the NYT called Jill Abramson — its axed executive editor — a bitch." I was doing a close reading of the first NYT article on the subject of axing Abramson, "Times Ousts Its Executive Editor, Elevating Second in Command." That article was dated May 14th. What I discovered was that the NYT article linked over to a Politico article (from a year ago) where the man who has now replaced Abramson was quoted saying: "I think there’s a really easy caricature that some people have bought into, of the bitchy woman character and the guy who is sort of calmer... That, I think, is a little bit of an unfair caricature." And that was how it became fit to print to call Abramson a bitch.

But the bulk of the public discussion in the aftermath of the axing focused on Abramson's complaint about pay equity. Now, there's a statement from NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., released yesterday, aimed at pushing back this talk that Abramson was fired because she demanded equal pay with males in the NYT organization. And it is this statement (not the earlier article I'd analyzed) that has led to this headline at Drudge:



Drudge links to a report at Bloomberg — "NYT Publisher Sulzberger Says Abramson Firing Driven By Conduct" — which doesn't print the full text of the statement. The new article at the NYT is called "After Criticism, Times Publisher Details Decision to Oust Top Editor." That too only has excerpts from the statement. The full text is here, at Politico.

So let's pick apart the text of the statement. Based on the Drudge headline, the hypothesis is that in the effort to fight off attacks that put the New York Times in the position of Enemy on the pay equity front of The War on Women, Sulzberger bumbled into the misogyny front.

Now, let's take a close look at the Sulzberger statement.

"Given the size of these bones, which surpass any of the previously known giant animals, the new dinosaur is the largest animal known that walked on Earth."

"Its length, from its head to the tip of its tail, was 40m. Standing with its neck up, it was about 20m high - equal to a seven-storey building."

And may I add that the photo of the paleontologist lying on the ground posing with the half-excavated bone is very cute?