June 28, 2014

"Today, if something like that happened, the vehicles would race away from the scene as fast as they could... But not in 1914."

"This was European nobility at the turn of the century."
Nedeljko Cabrinovic... threw a bomb and missed, wounding an official in the motorcade behind the archduke. Franz Ferdinand ordered the driver to stop. He got out and walked back to inspect the damage and the wounded people....

"Colmes is like Pee Wee Herman saying 'If you love it why don't you marry it?' Except Colmes is cruder."

"And yet it was Pee Wee Herman who got arrested for masturbating in a theater. It's so unfair!"

It's neat with Ice.


Via The Puparazzo (AKA Meade).

One woman's photograph, photoshopped in 25 different countries, following the instruction "Make me beautiful."

An interesting project, with fascinating results, somewhat skewed by the time and skill the different photo editors put into it, but you do get some interesting variations, and not just the different levels of makeup that are deemed "beautiful."

Strangely, the most alien image is the one from...

"To make change in the world is sometimes not as complicated as people make it out to be."

"Sometimes it's just you doing something consistent like giving and receiving love."

"The clown or the trickster is here to wake people up... The best thing I can do is really become that character I've always dreamed about: The Fool."

"Most arrogant and dishonest intellectual professor I've met...."

(Via TaxProf.)

"Facebook Conducted Psychological Experiments On Unknowing Users."

"The study... found that... manipulating the algorithm to show more 'positive' posts in your news feed will actually inspire you to write more 'positive' posts yourself."
Facebook does have terms of service — ones that every Facebook user has agreed to — that specify users’ data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” The researchers of this psychology experiment argue that their experiments fall under these terms of use because “no text was seen by the researchers.” Rather, a computer program scanned for words that were considered either “positive” or “negative.”

“As such,” the researchers write, “it was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.”

What Facebook did was...
pollcode.com free polls 

"Are you proud to be an American?"

Meade asked me yesterday, based on something he'd read, perhaps this Fox News piece "Stunner: 44 percent not proud to be American" ("When asked if respondents 'often feel proud to be American,' a majority of strong liberals, 60 percent, said no.")

I said: "Proud? I don't come from a background where we thought about pride as a virtue. I thought pride was a sin. And anyway, what did I do that I should be proud of? I was born here. I think I'm lucky to be an American. I want to say 'lucky,' not 'proud.'"

Here's the Wikipedia entry on "Pride":
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation. pride refers to an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a satisfied sense of attachment toward one's own or another's choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging.
Lots more at the link, including Aristotle's thoughts on pride as a virtue (and distinguished from hubris), the psychological notion of pride as an emotion (the "pleasant, sometimes exhilarating" result of "positive self-evaluation"), a Buddhist notion that it's a "mental affliction" that gives rise to anger and unhappiness, "National Pride" (with only has one subheading, Germany), "Ethnic Pride" (with the subheadings, Asian Pride, Black Pride, and White Pride), and "gay pride" (which is the strangely inward name for a civil rights movement).

I got onto that Fox News article yesterday, after that conversation with Meade, because I was listening to the podcast of Rush Limbaugh's radio show, which relied on that Fox News article, and Rush was riffing: "If you are proud to be an American you are probably not a liberal, is the upshot of the Pew Research Center poll":
According to a new Pew Research Center study, only 40 percent of consistently liberal Americans say they often feel proud to be Americans. The other 60% say that "proud to be an American" does not describe them. Sixty percent of liberals are not....

The finding is contained in Pew's new 'Political Typology' report...
The Pew Research Center Report?! That morning I had lambasted The New Republic for its hackish misrepresentation of the results of that report, and now — what? — was Rush doing the same damned thing?

Pew had created a survey for the purpose of "sorting people into groups based on their attitudes and values, not their partisan labels." You can take the survey yourself to see which of Pew's 8 groups you fit into, and if you do, you'll see pairs of statements and you're asked to pick which one "comes closest to your view." You're likely to agree with neither statement or wish you could combine the 2 or modify them in some way, but you can't.

The New Republic ran the headline "80 Percent of Conservatives Think the Poor 'Have It Easy.'" But all that happened was that 80% of the people that Pew sorted into the conservative pile had picked "Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return" as coming closer to their view than "Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough to help them live decently."

I hit the wall last night drafting a post about Rush Limbaugh doing the same damned thing after I saw that the quiz that sorted you into the typology did not contain a pair of statements about pride. I think Pew first sorted its respondents into its categories with the test that we see on line and then asked some additional questions, and now I'm having trouble figuring out if the "pride" statistic was produced with the same sort of forced choice between 2 statements or not. I'm beginning to lean toward thinking Pew deserves most of the blame, but I'm irked by the way various news sources are passing along this spurious information.

I'm not proud to end my post like this.

Your humble blogger,


"This is a strike against the professionalism of the industry... Now, anyone can get up off their couch and say, 'I’m a tour guide.'"

Said a licensed Washington D.C. tour guide after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the city's licensing requirement on free speech grounds.

Under the now-defunct requirement, to be a tour guide, you had to pay $200 and get at least 70 question out of 100 right in a test on 14 categories of information about the city:
architecture; dates; government; historical events; landmark buildings; locations; monuments and memorials; museums and art galleries; parks, gardens, zoos, and aquariums; presidents; sculptures and statues; universities; pictures; and regulations.
The court didn't see how restricting tours to guides who could pass that test served a compelling governmental interest, especially since the private businesses on their own would compete to provide quality tours.

You might think the market wouldn't work so well in the tourism industry, because it lures newcomers to the city to do something they'll probably only do once. It they get a bad tour, they've already bought it and they won't affect the market anymore. But the court noted the function of Yelp and TripAdvisor.
"One need only peruse such websites to sample the expressed outrage and contempt that would likely befall a less than scrupulous tour guide."

"I wish I could tell you global brotherhood is best served through greater and greater amounts of money... but I can’t tell you that because it’s not true."

"A free society does make people phenomenally wealthy—and this is a wonderful, beautiful blessing—but not enough to give people a satisfying life."

From "D.C.’s Conservative Guru Finds His Inner Hippie/Arthur Brooks' pursuit of the formula for happiness has some unlikely speakers talking to the American Enterprise Institute. Is the 1 percent really listening to his spiritual gurus?" by Eleanor Clift at The Daily Beast.

There's an "ideology of modern parenting," "a dogged insistence that the adoration you feel for your child makes all the sacrifices worthwhile"...

... and that's why were cling to the hormonal explanation of "postpartum depression," but "many women and men experience significant psychological distress in response to becoming a parent and that much of this distress isn’t caused by a hormonal epiphenomenon of the birth process," writes professor of psychology and of management and organizations Eli J. Finkel in the NYT.

Ironically, Finkel himself seems to need a comforting, shame-avoiding, politically appealing explanation: economics.
[The distress] is driven instead in large measure by the objectively bleak circumstances new parents often face. That you love your child is not always sufficient to counteract this reality....

[T]he circumstances parents face are often demonstrably miserable. The fact that postpartum depression rates are much higher among the poor than among the wealthy, who can purchase peace of mind through hired child care, supports the idea that the phenomenon is, in most cases, more circumstantial than biological.
Finkel leaves in place the ideology of unquestioned, unquestionable love for the child. And that article of faith — that thing we believe and want to believe — is there to exploit to leverage more social welfare.

I imagine that Finkel would like us to think: Free childcare! That's what we need to alleviate real human suffering, the suffering of parents, and it will benefit the children, too, because they're not really having such a great time left in the home with parents who don't really love them are distressed psychologically for economic reasons.

June 27, 2014

"In Democratic Party video ad, Scott Walker nods yes when asked if he’s part of ‘criminal scheme.'"

PolitFact rates this "the definition of Pants on Fire."

ADDED: Here's the whole Wisconsin Democratic Party video:


AND: In case you haven't kept up with this "criminal scheme" business: "Mainstream media forced to walk back Walker ‘criminal scheme’ narrative."

Wedding photography trend: Bridesmaids lift dresses and show their ass.

And maybe the bride too. Like this:

"How to save $400,000, raise 14 children and buy a $1.3 million farm."

"Financial secrets of the Amish."
It’s this incredible bone-deep thrift, which is not really stinginess. It’s a generous frugality. They will go to great lengths to re-use, re-cycle and re-purpose. They don’t do it to be green, they do it to be thrifty.
Here's the book: "Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving."

"A blog is an animal that is always famished," said NYT Assistant Managing Editor Ian Fisher, explaining why the NYT is closing down so many of its blogs.

The NYT told Poynter there would still be "bloggy content with a more conversational tone," but not in blog form. Part of it is that the redesigned site isn't working well with the The Times’ blogging software, but it's also an assessment of where the traffic is going and whether all the work of feeding the hungry animal called Blog is worth it.

Fisher disclosed that little traffic arrived on the NYT site through the blog's first page and we're told "he's rethought: The necessity to brand blogs. 'I’m actually a believer for the most part that we don’t need to be naming things.'"

That sounds odd and in need of interpretation. I think what's going on there is that blogs under the NYT brand failed to develop their own set of loyal readers, and the goal of increasing traffic to the NYT site was not served, not enough to justify writing in that format.

Blogging is a writing format, and it can be mobilized in service of different ends. I'm pleased at the failure of blogging as a means to the end of increasing traffic to a mainstream media website. I have long believed in blogging as a format for independent, individualized personal expression.

You've got to be the blog, not regard it as a pesky Other, always whining for more.

"It is not to be supposed that the death of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand will have any immediate or salient effect on the politics of Europe."

Written 100 years ago in The Guardian.

And for The Annals of Just How Wrong You Can Be.

I love the Supreme Court's emerging unanimity.

And so does former acting solicitor general Neal K. Katyal:
The justices’ ability to cross partisan divides and find common ground in their bottom-line judgment in roughly two-thirds of their cases... should remind us that even in this hyperpartisan age, there is a difference between law and politics....

This path, of trying to forge places of agreement even among people who are inclined to disagree, is the essence of what the American experiment is all about. In an era when the leadership of the House of Representatives is suing the president, when people across the aisle cannot even be in the same room with one another, the modesty and cultivated collegiality of the nine members of the Supreme Court this year remind us all that there is another way.
Do I detect a political agenda in the guise of anti-partisanship?

ADDED: The link goes to the NYT, where the editors flag reader comments they deem worthy of attention. The top editors' pick is:
"Unanimity" but at what price?
Court rulings have been less than nice,
The Koch boys must be
As proud as can be,
This "wedding" of minds? Don't throw rice!

"Unscheduled, unsupervised, playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children."

"The value of free play,  daydreaming, risk-taking, and independent discovery have been much in the news this year, and a new study by psychologists at the University of Colorado reveals just how important these activities are in the development of children’s executive functioning."
Executive function is a broad term for cognitive skills such as organization, long-term planning, self-regulation, task initiation, and the ability to switch between activities. It is a vital part of school preparedness and has long been accepted as a powerful predictor of academic performance and other positive life outcomes such as health and wealth. The focus of this study is “self-directed executive function,” or the ability to generate personal goals and determine how to achieve them on a practical level. The power of self-direction is an underrated and invaluable skill that allows students to act productively in order to achieve their own goals.
When I was a kid, virtually all time not spent in school or sleeping and eating was free play time. Nobody ever spoke of "executive function" or projected developmental improvements of any kind. I was born in 1951, the same year as Bill Bryson, whose wonderful memoir "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" describes how we played back then:
[K]ids were always outdoors... and they were always looking for something to do. If you stood on any corner with a bike—any corner anywhere—more than a hundred children, many of whom you had never seen before, would appear and ask you where you were going. “Might go down to the Trestle,” you would say thoughtfully. The Trestle was a railway bridge over the Raccoon River from which you could jump in for a swim if you didn’t mind paddling around among dead fish, old tires, oil drums, algal slime, heavy metal effluents, and uncategorized goo. It was one of ten recognized landmarks in our district. The others were the Woods, the Park, the Little League Park (or “the Ballpark”), the Pond, the River, the Railroad Tracks (usually just “the Tracks”), the Vacant Lot, Greenwood (our school), and the New House. The New House was any house under construction and so changed regularly....

And when you got to the Trestle or the Vacant Lot or the Pond there would already be six hundred kids there...

Life in Kid World, wherever you went, was unsupervised, unregulated, and robustly—at times insanely—physical....

"An intellectual crisis in the age of TED talks and Freakonomics."

"Can Social Scientists Save Themselves?"
In 2011, a psychologist named Joseph P. Simmons and two colleagues set out to use real experimental data to prove an impossible hypothesis. Not merely improbable or surprising, but downright ridiculous. The hypothesis: that listening to The Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four” makes people younger. The method: Recruit a small sample of undergraduates to listen to either The Beatles song or one of two other tracks, then administer a questionnaire asking for a number of random and irrelevant facts and opinions—their parents’ ages, their restaurant preferences, the name of a Canadian football quarterback, and so on. The result: By strategically arranging their data and carefully wording their findings, the psychologists “proved” that randomly selected people who hear “When I’m Sixty-Four” are, in fact, younger than people who don’t....

The kind of manipulation that went into the “When I’m Sixty-Four” paper, for instance, is “nearly universally common,” Simonsohn says. It is called “p-hacking,” or, more colorfully, “torturing the data until it confesses.”...

"A Jack Russell terrier that was adopted from the Hawaiian Humane Center appeared in a for sale ad on Craigslist only one hour after the adoption..."

"... an act that Internet posters doggedly flagged, leading to a return of the animal to the shelter."
The Craigslist ad, titled “Jack Russell,” claimed that the dog was five years old, while in fact, Sally Mae is 10. The dog had to be sold because “my boyfriend& I is [sic] too caught up with work since we have 2 jobs each and she needs a family that’ll give her that attention. Please.”...

The ad has been removed but numerous Facebook fans of the shelter took a screenshot and uploaded the ad on Reddit.

"I’ve been running through my entire pregnancy, and I felt really, really good during the whole process."

Said Olympian Alysia Montano who ran in the 800m at the U.S. Championships yesterday, when she was 6 weeks short of a full-term pregnancy.
"I definitely was like, OK, I think I can run a pretty decent time... I just knew I didn’t want to get lapped, be the first person to ever get lapped in an 800m. More than anything, I wanted to be here..."

She said she consulted her doctor and midwife, who encouraged her....

“That took away any fear of what the outside world might think about a woman running in pregnancy or exercise in general...  I just felt so supported... I didn’t want to be judged or have any ill things said about me. I just wanted to kind of do what my heart and my desire wanted to do."
Via Metafilter. Video of the race here. (The camera keeps the focus, properly, on the women in front and destined to win. You only see Montano after all the others have crossed the finish line and finishing about 30 seconds later.)

TNR is lying again: "80 Percent of Conservatives Think the Poor 'Have It Easy.'"

That headline refers to the results of a test — which I linked to here — used by the Pew Research Center to sort Americans into various groups, like "Young Outsider" and "Business Conservative," based on their political predilections. If you took the test, you know that you were presented with pairs of statements, both phrased in a fairly extreme and absolute way, and asked, each time, "Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?" You were not allowed to put yourself right in the middle, where I found myself on most questions. You had to tip one way or the other.

The first question, for example, paired "Government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest" and "Government regulation of business usually does more harm than good." Now, I probably picked the first option there, just because of the difference in the phrasing, with "usually" distorting things for me. The first statement is obviously true, since some regulation is necessary and there's no quantitative word like "usually." It really should have been written "Most Government regulation of business is necessary to protect the public interest" to balance the options. But that's a criticism of Pew.

I really want to criticize The New Republic for it's disgusting, deceptive headline. The relevant question had this pairing:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?

Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return

Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough to help them live decently
I suspect most people would have trouble with both statements, but to say that your view comes closest to the first statement is not to say that you "think the poor 'have it easy.'" It's just to reveal that your tendency is to think the government's safety net is too big or too soft or perhaps that too many people are losing their incentive to strive because benefits create dependency.

 So let me ask: Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?
The idiots at The New Republic are too stupid to read and understand the results of the Pew study.

The hacks at The New Republic deliberately twist whatever they can to make conservatives look bad.
IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said:
There is actually a deeper methodological flaw to TNR's analysis. The poll did not identify liberals and conservatives, then ask them this question, then report the results. It used this question as part of the process of determining who was a liberal and who was a conservative.

Of course conservatives answered the way that they did, that was part of Pew's definition of a conservative.
UPDATE: I have another post and it puts more of the blame on Pew Research Center.

And another thing I don't like about the World Cup...

"U.S. soccer advances to World Cup knockout stage despite loss to Germany."
The U.S. men’s national soccer team is going to the knockout stage of the World Cup, not because it defeated — or even tied — Germany on Thursday afternoon. The Americans are headed to the round of 16 next week because of the capital they accrued over 11 compelling days and the series of events that unfolded more than 1,000 miles apart on the final day of group play.

They lost the game, 1-0, but won the right to remain at soccer’s quadrennial jamboree by virtue of a superior goal differential over Portugal in Group G, the so-called Group of Death.
Sorry, World, but that is bullshit. And I don't even care if it helped America. It's not American style to lose but advance. We won a game, we tied a game, and then we lost a game, but still we advance. Why not just give every country in the world a "cup"? A big cup... of lameness.

The Group of Death?! The death I see is the death of rationality and the whole concept of a game

June 26, 2014

A bikini top printed to look like naked breasts.

2 women are promoting this as part of their campaign to "de-sexualize" breasts.
"Explain why women have to cover up their chests, but not men.... The only excitement that comes from seeing breasts is that you are conditioned to think they are something special...."
Of course, thinking you're seeing naked breasts, having to figure out what you're looking at, and deciding what to think about it is only going to make you look longer.

Gary Oldman can't stop apologizing for that Playboy interview he did where he kept denouncing political correctness.


I read the interview. It wasn't such a big deal. Was this all a set-up to get publicity?
I just think political correctness is crap. That’s what I think about it. I think it’s like, take a fucking joke. Get over it....
Apparently not!
We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone, that we all stand on this thing going, “Isn’t that shocking?”
He did say "everyone," so technically, he's not a hypocrite.

Madonna's daughter Lourdes will attend her mother's alma mater — and mine and my mother's — the University of Michigan.

"I want my daughter to go to school there," Madonna said."I keep telling her, Ann Arbor is an awesome place."

I agree, at least it was the last time I was there, in 1977. My mother grew up on South Division Street, a couple blocks from campus.

Jerry Seinfeld: "Will you please explain to me why the entire nation has decided to put on shorts? I'm just so sick of this shorts."

"What is this? A barbeque? A volleyball game? What is everybody in shorts for?"

That's from the new episode of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee":

I was sent there by a reader, who emailed: "Jerry talks about shorts on men and I thought of you."

"With infant gender assignment, in a single moment your baby's life is instantly and brutally reduced from such infinite potentials..."

"... down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished—both intentionally through bigotry, and unintentionally through ignorance. That doctor (and the power structure behind him) plays a pivotal role in imposing those limits on helpless infants, without their consent, and without your informed consent as a parent. This issue deserves serious consideration by every parent, because no matter what gender identity your child ultimately adopts, infant gender assignment has effects that will last through their whole life."

This Slate article — "Don’t Let the Doctor Do This to Your Newborn" by Christin Scarlett Milloy — is... pick the option closest to what you think:

This Slate article is…
pollcode.com free polls 

How did I get to be a "Young Outsider"?

Though I am not young, it's where I fit in "The latest Pew Research Center political typology, which sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values, provides a field guide for this constantly changing landscape."

Oh, wait. That was before I took the quiz, based on reading the descriptions of the 8 categories. After I took the quiz — which never asked if I was old or young, so that's not the cause of this change — I became a "Business Conservative."

How about you? Read the text and take a guess at what you are, as I did, before you take the quiz, and let us know how you turned out.

"Gov. Scott Walker has not been a target of the John Doe investigation into alleged illegal campaign finance coordination..."

"... an attorney for the special prosecutor overseeing the probe said Thursday.
Randall Crocker, the lawyer for special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, noted the investigation has been halted, saying, "At the time the investigation was halted, Governor Walker was not a target of the investigation. At no time has he been served with a subpoena."

Crocker issued the statement a week after a court document Schmitz wrote late last year and made public late last week identified Walker as being part of an alleged "criminal scheme" to coordinate with outside groups and violate campaign finance laws.

Crocker said no conclusions have been made about whether there is enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime.
Let's see if this is noticed by all the news media outlets that said that the prosecution had "accused" Walker or "alleged" that he was at the center of a criminal scheme.

ADDED: Walker's opponent in the fall election, Mary Burke, just put out an ad today that begins "Prosecutors in Wisconsin are alleging that Governor Scott Walker participated in a criminal scheme..."

The ad also criticizes Walker for "launching more attack ads," and we see a bit of Walker's ad. Here's the whole Walker ad:

Both ads attack the opposing candidate, but Walker's ad has a somewhat comical feeling to it with the sprightly music and blackjack table imagery. Burke's ad is news clips and that all-purpose tinkling piano music.

"He’s like the Tennessee River... He flows right down the middle."

Goodbye to Howard Baker Jr.

"We hold that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the 'Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule,' exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority."

Says the New York Court of Appeals (New York's highest court). PDF.
By choosing among competing policy goals, without any legislative delegation or guidance, the Board engaged in law-making and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction of the City Council of New York.
ADDED: "Mayor Bill de Blasio, a frequent critic of Mr. Bloomberg but a supporter of the soda proposal, said he was 'extremely disappointed' by the latest decision, saying it was 'irrefutable' that sugary drinks has detrimental effects on health. The mayor said he would review other options for the city to combat obesity, but his team did not immediately specify what steps might be taken."

Of course, the judicial opinion has nothing to do with whether "sugary" drinks — gah, I hate that adjective — are detrimental to health. It's about the structure of governmental power. 

"Sugary" annoys me, by the way, because it is not the right word for what is covered by the regulation, which defined the term to mean "sweetened by the manufacturer or establishment with sugar or another calorie sweetener; . . . has greater than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces of beverage; . . . [and] does not contain more than 50 percent of milk or milk substitute by volume as an ingredient."

"Sugary" refers to the intensity of the sweetness, and most soda that was covered isn't very sweet. Cola and lemon-lime sodas are only a bit sweet, much less tasting than some juices with no added sugar (like pineapple juice) and coffee drinks made with milk or chocolate milk.

"Did you know the Obama administration’s position has been defeated in at least 13 – thirteen — cases before the Supreme Court since January 2012 that were unanimous decisions?"

"It continued its abysmal record before the Supreme Court today with the announcement of two unanimous opinions against arguments the administration had supported....'

"The lyrics show Dylan's attempts to build a rhyme off of the 'How does it feel' line with phrases like, 'it feels real,' 'does it feel real,' 'get down and kneel,' 'raw deal' and 'shut up and deal.'"

Bob Dylan's handwritten lyrics for "Like a Rolling Stone" have sold for $2.045 million, a world record for a popular music manuscript."

It's "the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics," with some edited-out stuff like "dry vermouth/You'll tell the truth" and something about Al Capone.

"Hillary Clinton has a 'secret deal' with her top aide Huma Abedin to keep Abedin’s troublesome husband, Anthony Weiner, out of the spotlight..."

"... sources tell Page Six, as the former secretary of state mulls a run for president."

I love the set of photos at the link, where there's an illusion that Hillary's hand reaches over to Huma's face.

Massachusetts law imposing a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinic violates the First Amendment, a unanimous Supreme Court says today.

Chief Justice Roberts writes the main opinion, and there's a Scalia concurrence, joined by Kennedy and Thomas, and an Alito concurrence. 

I'm just reading the live blog at SCOTUSblog, so I don't have more than that yet. I also see that the Court decided the case about recess appointments, and:
The President can make a recess appointment without Senate confirmation when the Senate says it is in recess. But either the House or the Senate can take the Senate out of recess and force it to hold a "pro forma session" that will block any recess appointment. So while the President's recess appointment power is broad in theory, if either house of Congress is in the hands of the other party, it can be blocked.
This means that some appointments to the NLRB were invalid, and: "That means that their rulings were invalid. It is unclear what will happen with other NLRB rulings from that period."

"The 11-day search for a missing child in Detroit took a bizarre turn on Wednesday, when the 12-year-old was found hiding in the basement of his father’s home."

"The perplexing case unfolded on live television when, during an interview on HLN, the boy’s father, Charles Bothuell, was informed that his son Charlie had been found in the basement."
The incredulous father appeared bewildered and breathless, taking a moment to recover. “I checked my basement,” Bothuell said. “The FBI checked my basement. The police checked my basement. My wife checked my basement. I’ve been down there several times. We’ve all been checking."
That's really very strange. What did you think of the man's reaction to the news? Consider this additional information:
Charlie was found barricaded behind boxes and a large five-gallon drum, Detroit Police Chief James Craig told CNN affiliate XWYZ. “There’s no way he could have erected his makeshift area of concealment,” he said.

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize."

A quote by Voltaire, in the second-highest rated comment at a Daily Mail article titled: "Hollywood suicide: He is the Brit who conquered Tinsletown. Now Gary Oldman faces ostracism after a spectacularly obscene and non-PC rant against the movie elite."

"Is America's dominant 'man up' ethos a hypermasculine cultural construct, a tenet rooted in biological gender difference or something in between?"

Asks Eric Westervelt at NPR, in a great example of a question that assumes a fact.

America has a "dominant 'man up' ethos"? I doubt that, and yet let's move on and ask what this phantom ethos is — the old nature or nurture question.

Or no, right after asking that question, Westervelt introduces the real subject of his report, a particular character — a teacher named Ashanti Branch — and we are told that he either doesn't care or "doesn't have time to care."
Branch tries to foster emotional maturity through conversation, play and community. The big goal is to help give boys a bigger emotional tool box to better handle the challenges of school and life now and into the future.

"The pain that they're holding on to that they don't really have a space to [let] go, the anger, the sadness — all those things. How can I help them tap into that in ways that they can let it go and not walk around angry all the time? I told one young man the other day: 'You walk around with a tool box full of hammers. You hammer everything. All you needed was a little screwdriver.' "
In the context of NPR, everybody already knows boys are a problem and boys have problems, it's gently inserted that "black and Latino boys" are the main problem, and we don't need to question that assumption anymore or ask why it is happening, because we can feel good about hearing about one good man, "a burly, 39-year-old African-American with long, braided hair," who's got a solution that's exactly what white American females would most like to get males to do: Talk about their feelings.

For the annals of classic NPR radio.

June 25, 2014

"Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto blasted Republicans on Wednesday for preparing to file a federal lawsuit challenging the executive actions of President Barack Obama."

"During an interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Cavuto belittled the effort as 'an enormous waste of effort' and 'a political football,' suggesting that President George W. Bush used similar executive authority."

"EPA Memo To Employees: Please Stop Pooping In The Hallway."

"An administrator at a regional Environmental Protection Agency office in Denver, Colo. had to educate employees about bathroom etiquette...."

"It is not the role of this court to identify and plug loopholes."

"It is the role of good lawyers to identify and exploit them, and the role of Congress to eliminate them if it wishes."

Wrote Justice Scalia, dissenting in ABC v. Aereo, today's Supreme Court case finding a copyright violation in capturing broadcast signals with antennas and streaming the contents to paying subscribers (who are perfectly free to use their own antennas to capture broadcast signals).

"The same people trying to push soccer on Americans are the ones demanding that we love HBO’s 'Girls,' light-rail, Beyonce, and Hillary Clinton."

"The number of New York Times articles claiming soccer is 'catching on' is exceeded only by the ones pretending women’s basketball is fascinating. I note that we don’t have to be endlessly told how exciting football is."

Says Ann Coulter, in my favorite of her 9 objections to soccer.

AND: By "football," she means football.

Pope Francis encourages mothers to breastfeed their babies in the Sistine Chapel.

"If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here."
The child was was “crying its eyes out” with hunger, he said, so he asked the mother to “please give it something to eat!”

He added: “I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat!"

Speaker John Boehner says he's planning some sort of lawsuit against Obama over his use of executive action.

It's hard to picture this as a lawsuit (other than a lawsuit as a form of political expression):
"You know the constitution makes it clear that the president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws and in my view the President has not faithfully executed the laws," Boehner said at a news conference on Capitol Hill....

"This is about defending the institution in which we serve. If you look back over the past 235 years of our history there's been movement between the inherent powers of the executive branch vs the inherent powers of the legislative branch and what we've seen clearly over the past 5 years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch"...

"There is a dichotomy of elitism. Republicans' downfall is economic elitism."

"For generations they've been seen as the party of the rich. Democrats don't have that problem. Their Achilles' heel is cultural elitism: the sense that they value highfalutin' Ivy League degrees more than practical experience; that they look down their noses at folks who go to church, hunt and fish, and salute the flag."

From "Does America like its candidates poor?" by Paul Begala, who is trying to explain why it's okay that Hillary Clinton is rich.

"Sixty-one percent (61%) think most Supreme Court justices have their own political agenda... A year ago, 56% felt that way."

A Rasmussen poll.
Thirty-four percent (34%) say the Supreme Court is too liberal. Thirty percent (30%) think the court is too conservative. One in four (25%) say, in political terms, the Supreme Court is about right ideologically. Voters have long tended to view the court as too liberal, but in recent surveys, the number who consider it too conservative has increased.

Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters say the Supreme Court does not put enough limitations on what the government can do. This finding is up nine points from September. Seventeen percent (17%) say it puts too many limitations on government instead, down two points from previous survey. Thirty-two percent (32%) say the balance is just right.
I had to ask myself: What has happened since last September that could cause a 9 point jump? My first thought was: The terrible roll-out of Obamacare. Why didn't the Supreme Court save us from what Congress did?

But who knows what cases come to mind when a pollster asks questions like this?

"It Looks Like African-Americans Really Did Help Thad Cochran Win."

Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight works the numbers.
It’s clear that Cochran’s vote increases were correlated to the percentage of African-Americans who live in each county. The 10 counties where the incumbent senator improved most were those where blacks make up 69 percent or more of the population.

"In a major statement on privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest."

"Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected from routine inspection."

"For most toddlers, tantrums and clumsiness are just a part of life, something they grow out of."

"Yet a burgeoning number of parents, like Pamela Trigg, are reporting that their children exhibit baffling, intense behaviors. Some overreact, recoiling from loud noises or refusing to wear itchy clothes. Others underreact, showing little reaction to pain or crashing their bodies into walls."

A burgeoning number of parents.... 

Under the theory that there's something called "Sensory Processing Disorder," people are buying "'sensory-friendly' products and attire, from weighted vests to chewable jewelry... sensory gyms... schools that cater to students’ sensory intolerances and allow them to move around, take breaks and wear headphones."
Public libraries host sensory storytimes, theaters stage quiet performances with modified lighting, museums conduct out-of-hours tours with cool-down rooms. Even hair salons are beginning to offer “sensory friendly” cuts. 
Must everything be a disorder? I'd like to suggest that as a culture, we have simply gotten the delusional idea that babies and young children need a lot of stimulation, when, in fact, they do not and it's hurting them.

I wouldn't put a weighted vest on a little kid, but I think quiet, calm, uncluttered environments would be good for children (and for adults too). Turn off the music. Turn off the televisions. Stop tickling and bouncing the babies and continually waggling your big, laughing, over-made-up, over-perfumed face at them trying to get a reaction.

As adults, we may think there always should be something exciting happening lest that terrible monster Boredom arrive and crush us. That's our problem, and it's not a disorder, but a failure of character and insight.

"Tuesday night was bad for Democrats, good for the GOP establishment and great for incumbents of both parties."

A quick summary of what just happened. 

ADDED: "There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats." 

Occupy Madison soldiers on in its project of building a village of "tiny houses" for the homeless.

Isthmus reports on the group's acquisition of an old auto shop as its site and the "unwelcome surprises" of discovering an oil disposal tank buried there and "toxic mold in the leaking roof." Were these really surprises found after the purchase? Wouldn't anyone expect an oil disposal tank on the premises of a 30-year-old auto repair shop?
All of the repairs and renovations are likely to cost around $100,000. A new roof and renovated bathrooms will likely be the biggest ticket items.

"We implore you to stress that we need money," joked Allen Barkoff. "I think a lot of people assume that because we now own property, money isn't an issue."
What did they pay for this place? Here's the article on the purchase of the property. They paid $110,000, with a loan, and one member said:
"There's a couple days of scrub-down before we move anything there.... It's grimy. It's been an auto repair shop for the past 30 years."
What's in the "grime" of 30 years of auto repairs, is it really something you can just "scrub down," and why is this a good environment for homeless people?

Back at the first link, we see that the group is refraining from asking for volunteers to help with the clean up because "the mold and other things... could be hazardous to people." How are amateurs supposed to make a site like that habitable? Are the repairs and renovations really only around $100,000? Do they have insurance to cover the harms that might beset those who work there?

I was going to say that it's interesting to see this well-meaning group needing to face the kind of reality actual businesses face, but the article ends with one board member saying:  "The work we have to do is not that overwhelming... There's some fund raising challenges ahead."

June 24, 2014

NYT reports: "The Internal Revenue Service did not follow the law..."

"... when it failed to report a hard drive crash that destroyed emails belonging to a senior official at the center of a scandal over the agency’s treatment of conservative-leaning political groups, the nation’s top archivist said Tuesday."

I'm the king of the world!!!


If the world is a little orange ball.

More pictures of Marcel at Meade's blog Puparazzo, here.

"People aren’t 'misunderstanding' what Will wrote. They deliberately misrepresented what Will said..."

Instapundit writes:
RESPONDING TO THE SMEAR ATTACK AGAINST GEORGE WILL: Rage Against The Outrage Machine. But let’s be clear. People aren’t “misunderstanding” what Will wrote. They deliberately misrepresented what Will said, and they did it to chill debate. That’s who they are, that’s what they do.
Glenn deploys the classic metaphor: chilling. Notice that this metaphor focuses on the debate, as though the whole conversation about a subject is an entity, a composite that has a temperature.

I think what is happening is more nefarious, because it focuses on the person. It's not just an idea that is put off limits (such as questioning the veracity of a woman who accuses a man of rape), it's the person who dares to say it. You are to be regarded as toxic. It's this fear of being regarded as toxic that inhibits many people from speaking.

The problem isn't merely that the debate is chilled — that people don't get to hear the arguments on different sides — but that people are also influenced to choose their side out of a psychological need to be accepted by others and not shunned. Even if, in a chilled-debate environment, you sought out information and arguments on your own and even if you saw the value in them, you might still choose your position out of a desire to be thought of as one of the good people. So the argument "George Will is toxic" works even on people who think George Will makes a persuasive argument.

I'm using the word "toxic" — the poison metaphor — because I see it a lot, and because to me — someone who has lived and worked in a liberal environment for a long time — it expresses the threat of shunning so well: You are afraid that if you associate at all with the toxic person — if you offer one good word — you will have toxin on you, and others will have to avoid you lest they become toxic.

I note that the focus on the person corresponds to Saul Alinsky's Rule #12 in "Rules for Radicals":
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
Note the word "freeze," which gets us back to the metaphor of coldness, the point in chilling where water turns to ice and what had been flowing has been stopped. The police yell "Freeze!" And "freeze" is a powerful social word, beyond the awkwardness of a "chilly" reception to outright exclusion: You are frozen out.

Robert Plant found a lucky charm, dressed it up with love, and crossed the Seven Seas to you.

"Will it be enough?"

"Some of y'all don't understand that this kind of clapping is killing black folk."

"Do you understand what I'm saying? Killing us."

"It's killing some white folks, too."
At a Carnegie Hall concert recently, Neil Young stopped in the middle of a song because some people in the audience were clapping off-beat. Mike Love of The Beach Boys says that sometimes, it's a cultural thing.

"For instance, the preponderance of American pop music is based on the beat of two and four," he says. "You'll have a lot of cultural influences that cause people to do one and three. I remember being in the Vienna Stadthalle — the town hall in Vienna, with about 12,000 people in it — and it was, like, Teutonic."
ADDED: Remember how the crowd clapping screwed up the beat in "Give Peace a Chance"?
And there was like Tommy Smothers and Tim Leary and Dick [Gregory], and all people sort of clapping along and singing on the chorus. And if you hear the record, it's funny actually, because my rhythm sense has always been a bit wild, and halfway through it, I got on the on-beat instead of the back-beat and it was hard because all the...there were non-musicians playing along with us. And so I had to put a lot of tape echo to double up the beat to keep a steady beat right through the whole record, so it goes Bo-boom, bo-boom, instead of Ba, Ba.

"Cool" adolescents are "pseudomature," and they're not doing too well when they reach their early 20s.

"A constellation of three popularity-seeking behaviors characterized pseudomaturity, Dr. Allen and his colleagues found."
These young teenagers sought out friends who were physically attractive; their romances were more numerous, emotionally intense and sexually exploring than those of their peers; and they dabbled in minor delinquency — skipping school, sneaking into movies, vandalism.

As they turned 23, the study found that when compared to their socially slower-moving middle-school peers, they had a 45 percent greater rate of problems resulting from alcohol and marijuana use and a 40 percent higher level of actual use of those substances. They also had a 22 percent greater rate of adult criminal behavior, from theft to assaults.

"David Brock has a message for liberal millionaires: Don’t sweat being called hypocrites."

"Brock, a former 'right-wing hit-man'-turned-top-big-money-Democratic-operative, is part of a behind-the-scenes campaign to convince donors it’s OK to attack the Koch brothers for spending millions of dollars while doing the exact same thing for the left."

Presumably, Brock makes money saying stuff like this. Koch Brocking.

His idea is: Since the Democrats are in politics to do what is good and the Kochs want what is bad, there's a "false equivalence." Seeing the false equivalence — I observe — requires that you look at the end and not the means.

And, of course, you have to believe that your end is good and theirs is bad... or at least you have to be willing to portray your end as good, which is making the ostensible end only a means. And that's common in politics where the true end is often power, control, and perpetuation of one's own job. Seeming ends like immigration reform or marriage equality can easily be means to those ends.

In any case, let me congratulate Brock for getting these speaking gigs and for the hair. That's political hair par excellence. That's beyond Teddy Kennedy hair. That's outright Bob La Follette hair.

"In a post-speedo world of increasingly European beachwear..."

"... the mankini... the side-bikini... the c-string...."

The link goes to text only, but it contains links that, if you click on them, you will see things that you cannot unsee. But you might get a laugh. I clicked on "side-bikini" and laughed but also said "oh, no!" covered my eyes and walked across the room to avoid.

"If I had an ambitious spirit, I'd write a whole book on this topic."

"Instead, I am stranding this insight here."

So I wrote, just now, in the comments to last night's thread about the inhibitions and obstacles faced by a woman born in 1951, i.e., me.

Yes, now I'm throwing a lifeline to the stranded comment by making it a front-page post. My reason for doing that is that I feel that I've found the psychic key to my favorite tag: "unsaid things."

And now, I feel I've found the psychic key to my 10 years of blogging 10 (about 10) posts a day: The format forces me to say one thing after another, and that liberates me to say many things I'd leave unsaid otherwise.

Did you know that before I started blogging I believed myself to be a person without political opinions? I used to read the New York Times every day and feel that I had no opinion. It was such a distinctive feeling — no opinion was my opinion — that for a while, to counteract it, I challenged myself, upon reading at least one article a day, to arrive at an opinion. What do I think of that?

In blogging, early on, I had to tell myself to stop before moving to the next item and write one more sentence. You have to say something about that. I had to make it a discipline: To write one more thing... in that post... not just to go on and write the one more thing that is the next post.

And now this post needs one more sentence, and yet the old resistance, the old Spirit of Unsaid Things still has its grip on me.

June 23, 2014

"I was alive during the Mad Men era, and I happened to be the prime age to have come of age during the beginnings and real focus of the militant, modern feminist movement."

"There is nobody alive who understands that better than I do. I lived it. I can't tell you how many details. It was horrible. It still is."

Said Rush Limbaugh today, scoffing at the use of the buxom actress Christina Hendricks at the White House Summit on Working Families as an expert on what life was like for women back in the 1960s. Hendricks wasn't born until the mid-70s, and the notion that an actor in a fictional role understands what real life was like in the time and place depicted in the story is absurd.

I'd just like to say that if Rush thinks there's no one who understands it better than he does, I understand at least as well. I was born on the same damned blessed day as Rush Limbaugh, January 12, 1951.

By the way, I've never had any interest in watching "Mad Men." Critical praise might have motivated me, but I've actively avoided it, precisely because I lived through that era, and I know very well how women were held back in a workplace designed for males. It's painful to think about the opportunities I might have found if I'd had the encouragement and obstacle-clearing that young women today have. I don't need a fictional depiction purporting to show me what life was like then, and I can't imagine being entertained by it.

"Mad Men" is made for people who didn't experience it, I think. I could be wrong. Maybe the creators of that show mean to reach out to women like me, but I'll never know. I've always felt put off.

Summer evening.


Today, in the Supreme Court, "EPA mostly wins, but with criticism."

Lyle Denniston explains Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency.
Leaving the federal government with considerable power to impose controls on greenhouse gases that contribute to heating up the planet and causing climate change, on Monday the Supreme Court also delivered a stern lecture to the Environmental Protection Agency for claiming regulatory power that Congress did not give it.

"The Ed Klein book... I read it, and I'm not alleging it doesn't exist and isn't true, any of that, but some of the quotes strike me as odd in the sense that I don't know people who speak this way."

Said Rush Limbaugh on his show today, and that's what I said first thing this morning.

Rush continues:
"I hate that man Obama more than any man I’ve ever met, more than any man who ever lived." I don't know. Does this guy [Bill Clinton] talk that way? "I hate that man Obama more than any man I’ve ever met, more than any man who ever lived." Why would he tell people this? If they've got this public show going on of unity, you know, one of the things you never betray your true feelings about people...

And then it quotes Bill telling Hillary, "I am not going to enjoy this [playing golf with Obama]. I’ve had two successors since I left the White House -- Bush and Obama -- and I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama. I have no relationship with the president -- none whatsoever."
That doesn't sound like what Bill would say to Hillary. That sounds like a bad movie script where the backstory is shoehorned into the dialogue. If you're going to reconstruct (or make up) quotes, write convincing dialogue!

David Sedaris tries out a Fitbit.

"I was travelling myself when I got my Fitbit, and because the tingle feels so good, not just as a sensation but also as a mark of accomplishment, I began pacing the airport rather than doing what I normally do, which is sit in the waiting area, wondering which of the many people around me will die first, and of what."

Here, you can buy a Fitbit at Amazon if you are so inclined.

The Drowned World.

P1100781 - Version 2

That's "The bridge shadow," posted yesterday, turned upside down, as recommended, in the comments, by The Crack Emcee.

"The Drowned World" floated into my head as a good title for this picture, and I had to look it up to remember what it was.
The Drowned World is a 1962 science fiction novel by J. G. Ballard. In contrast to much post-apocalyptic fiction, the novel features a central character who, rather than being disturbed by the end of the old world, is enraptured by the chaotic reality that has come to replace it....

[A] natural catastrophe causes the real world to transform itself into a dream landscape, causing the central characters to regress mentally.
Just as psychoanalysis reconstructs the original traumatic situation in order to release the repressed material, so we are now being plunged back into the archaeopsychic past, uncovering the ancient taboos and drives that have been dormant for epochs… Each one of us is as old as the entire biological kingdom, and our bloodstreams are tributaries of the great sea of its total memory.
The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard... p. 41.
I'd like to read that. Perhaps there's an insight into how we might adapt to the future of rising sea levels. Maybe I have that book in the house, in amongst the old SF paperbacks that my first husband left behind when he moved out:


I was reading this New Yorker article about the book genre of books about books, where the author undertakes some reading project, like "The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading," where writer reads through a set novels that just happened to be shelved together because of the authors' names and alphabetical order.  Also: "The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World" (2004), "Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages" (2008),  and "The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everthing Else" (2010).

I got the idea of reading all the sci-fi books in that box. They're from an era in the past. They are the selections of my ex-husband, and he left them in the house. Who knows what all I could bullshit about reading all that and riffing however the mood strikes me?

.... plunged back into the archaeopsychic past, uncovering the ancient taboos and drives that have been dormant for epochs… Each one of us is as old as the entire biological kingdom, and our bloodstreams are tributaries of the great sea of its total memory....

"Americans’ willingness to accept the Supreme Court’s mystical role is partly a symptom of disappointment in our own democratic capacities."

"Congress is the most directly representative body of the federal government, and almost no one sees it as having principled authority or moral charisma. Hoping that the Supreme Court will make us better than we can otherwise be, better than our own representative institutions, is neither self-respecting nor very likely to succeed."

Writes lawprof Jedediah Purdy in a very layperson-accessible presentation of the progressive case against judicial review. I think he's quite wrong, by the way.

Expect to see much more of this sort of thing in the press as Erwin Chemerinsky's book "The Case Against the Supreme Court," hits the market this September. From the book's description at Amazon:

"Woman in 'selfie' stroke video."

"Quick-thinking Stacey Yepes from Canada films herself on her phone whilst suffering a mini-stroke, after being told by doctors she was stressed."

Is this a vision of the future? (Pick the most likely option.)
pollcode.com free polls 

"My wife and I have always made our whole lives a part of the discourse in the family."

"So if something one of my boyfriends once told me makes me laugh, I'll say that -- 'Oh god that reminds me of something my boyfriend once said.' Or if wife says, 'Oh my god that woman looks like my ex-girlfriend' -- we just don't edit ourselves. And I don't think any bisexual, gay person, lesbian person -- they should not edit themselves in front of their children. Because if you edit yourself your children will grow up to edit themselves and the problem perpetuates."

From a HuffPo article about a married couple discussing "the ways they navigate the ins an outs of an open relationship and information-sharing with their children."

So no editing, that's the goal? I wonder what will happen when these children who have grown up learning not to edit the discourse become teenagers and speak without repression. It's delusional to imagine that teenagers will not get sick of hearing their parents gush about their other sexual partners and — I hope — hearing "Oh God" or "Oh my God" at the beginning of each gush.

Couldn't you at least edit out the part where you gratuitously and inanely take the Lord's name in vain?

And HuffPo, couldn't you edit a capital "G" on "God"? Maybe it's a way not to take the Lord's name in vain, to write "God" as "god," to it look as though these people are continually evoking some minor deity nobody even believes in....

And John Kerry saw that it was good.

"That was good," said John Kerry as he was led to his car by Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, after a 100-minute meeting with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and other senior Iraqi officials at Maliki's "carefully maintained compound, which was the scene of an incident in December 2008 when a shoe was thrown at President Bush."

Over Bush will I cast My shoe...

"What's with the dubious quotes and blogging in the second person this morning, Althouse?" you ask.

"Is this some highly questionable dual 'theme of the day' day?" you wonder.

"Stop crying! I’m trying to sleep. Let me sing you a lullaby if you’re sad."

Things you might overhear from the bedroom you made your baby share with your toddler that are quite different from what you'd worried you be hearing.

Maybe you don't need a separate bedroom for each child and, in fact, you shouldn't want one. 

Why I've been ignoring the Ed Klein book "Blood Feud."

I notice all the attention-getting quotes and how they contain just the right details:
After her conversation with the president, Hillary called Bill Clinton, who was at his penthouse apartment in the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, and told him what Obama wanted her [to say about Benghazi].

“I’m sick about it,” she said, according to the legal adviser, who was filled in on the conversation.

“That story won’t hold up,” Bill said. “I know,” Hillary said. “I told the president that.” “It’s an impossible story,” Bill said. “I can’t believe the president is claiming it wasn’t terrorism. Then again, maybe I can. It looks like Obama isn’t going to allow anyone to say that terrorism has occurred on his watch.”

This adviser continued: “Hillary told Obama, ‘Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.’ But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.’”
Didn't that make you say out loud: "Ah! Just as I suspected! I have always believed that Hillary Clinton must have bristled at the deception she was asked to participate in after the Benghazi attack"?

Isn't it fascinating that I got that quote from you and that it has you saying exactly what I need you to say for my narrative purposes?

Oh, with my prodding you're saying: "Now that you mention it, Professor Althouse, these quotes do sound like they were constructed for the purposes of the book to dramatize a scene about which the author only had a rough outline, and if I'm going to read an imaginative historical narrative, I want something that has the various characters sounding more like real people, not just people who are cranking out the facts — if these really are the facts — in quote form."

June 22, 2014

The bridge shadow.


Yesterday, Lake Wingra.

Lawprof Jonathan Turley ties together the Redskins decision, the IRS denying tax exemptions, and the FEC deciding what counts as "electioneering."

This is an excellent column that goes way beyond what's suggested by the headline, "The patent office goes out of bounds in Redskins trademark case." Here's where he ends up:
When agencies engage in content-based speech regulation, it’s more than the usual issue of “mission creep.” ... [A]gencies now represent something like a fourth branch in our government — an array of departments and offices that exercise responsibilities once dedicated exclusively to the judicial and legislative branches....

What is needed is a new law returning these agencies to their core regulatory responsibilities and requiring speech neutrality in enforcement. We do not need faceless federal officials to become arbiters of our social controversies. There are valid objections to the Redskins name, but it is a public controversy that demands a public resolution, not a bureaucratic one.
Read the whole thing.

A boy, a hot dog, and a handful of ketchup.

What's a boy to do?

That's from last night's Milwaukee Brewers game. Watch the whole thing. It's one of the best kid-in-the-stands-who-doesn't-know-he's-on-TV sequences ever — with an adorable kid and great baseball announcers making it even better.

Also from last night... watch 3 runs come in on a single wild pitch.

It's a bright, sunny day...


... but please be careful.


6 Californias, The Home of the Rave, the Ham-and-Eggs Theory, the original meaning of "brainstorm," and The Gnomes of the Future.

California is too big to be just one state, and bigness begets bigness. The request, in splitting it up, is to split it in 6.

I remember talk in the 60s and 70s about splitting California into 2 states. And I see a NYT report from 1941:
Talk of splitting California into two States along the line of the Tehachapi Mountains has been revived....

This is a recurring discussion, due to the different temperaments and clashing personalities of the two sections.
What was the difference between southern and northern California back in 1941?
To Northern California Southern California is "the home of the rave," where hamburgers and brainstorms alike are super-colossal.
I'm just going to guess that "the rave" is a play on "brave" (as in "the home of the brave"), that it just means that people are raving lunatics, and that "brainstorm" had a more negative meaning at the time.
In the North "screwball" is a satisfactory description of the South — after successive campaigns to defeat such Southern-born notions as End-Poverty-in-California, Utopianism, the Townsend Plan and the Ham-and-Eggs Theory.
Imagine how absurd it would be if states were split up whenever people in one section of a state thought the people at the other end were deranged. I'd be living in a state, in the southern half of what is now Wisconsin, and I believe that state would be named La Follette.

If your state were bisected according to different temperaments, clashing personalities, and food preferences, which direction — north/south, east/west, diagonal? — would the line be drawn and what do you think the 2 parts would be named?

Anyway, I take it you also want to know what was the Ham-and-Eggs Theory. It was, apparently, a Depression Era proposal to give $50 a week to everyone 50 and older. It all started when...
On July 25, 1938, Archie Price swallowed poison and died in Balboa Park. He had notified the local press two years earlier that he would kill himself when his savings were depleted, because, as he put it in a letter found in his pocket with his last two cents, he was "too young to receive an old-age pension and too old to find work." Price was buried, without ceremony, in a pauper's grave...
And I looked up "brainstorm" in the (unlinkable) OED and my guess that the original meaning was much more negative than the current usage is correct. Traced as far back as 1861, it meant "A fit of rage, melancholy, etc.; a sudden change of mood or behaviour; (also) a sudden and severe attack of mental illness; an epileptic seizure." That 1861 quote was from S. B. Hemyng's "Dark Cloud with Silver Lining":
Then a fierce brain-storm swept over her. There was a gloom on her brow, clothing the dimly visible gnomes of the future in dark, shapeless shadows.
Gnomes of the future... I love that phrase. I googled it, and I can't describe my fortuitous path, but I ended up with this, which is too delightfully almost relevant not to show you:

Politics is local, and "Gov. Walker serves up meal at local farm event."

This is Scott Walker at "Breakfast on the Farm" in Sheboygan. Don't miss the slide show, especially photo #5, which I'd like to caption: Stirring the shit.

Anyway... part of the meal Gov. Walker served up was some quotes about the recent document dump by the order of the federal court in the civil rights case against the prosecutors in the John Doe investigation:
“The folks [have said] over and over again, ‘Hang in there, we’re behind you, we support you,’” said Walker.
Asked about the documents that attracted mainstream media headlines about his central position in a "criminal scheme" and the supposedly important email he sent to Karl Rove, Walker said:
"That email’s pretty straight forward.... I was helping get the message out about what the senators did as they were heading into recalls and that’s completely legal."...

"I think in the end, people are going to see that despite the initial reaction, the bottom line is that what we’ve done is completely legitimate and right."
So, that's Walker in Sheboygan. But Walker's also doing national mainstream media — if Fox News counts as mainstream — here, last Friday on "Fox and Friends":

Here's the transcript, at Poltifact, which does a fact check and declares it "false." See if you can find the falsehood:
"You’ve had not one but two judges -- a state judge and a federal judge; a state judge (who is) a well-respected court of appeals judge, and a federal judge more recently -- have both looked at this argument. And in the past, not just recently -- remember this is not new news, it’s just newly released yesterday because documents were opened -- but no charges, case over.

Both judges said they didn’t buy the argument. They didn’t think that anything was done that was illegal, and so they’ve gone forward and not only said, we don’t buy it, they actually shut the case down, both at the state and at the federal level.

So, many in the national media and even some here in Wisconsin are looking at this (case) backwards. This is a case that’s been resolved, that not one but two judges have said is over. And we’re just learning about it because it became open in a document yesterday. But there is no argument there."
See it? "Resolved." There is only a preliminary injunction in the federal civil rights lawsuit against the John Doe prosecutors and it is before the appellate court right now,  so it depends on how you resolve the meaning of the word "resolved." The John Doe proceeding is enjoined, but if the civil rights plaintiffs (the targets in the John Doe proceeding) lose on appeal, it is conceivable that, if freed from the federal court injunction, and if the state court case is also eliminated as an obstacle, the prosecutors (the defendants in the federal court case) might resume the investigation.

How dead must the investigation be before Walker's entitled to use the word "resolved"?

Ask the folks in Sheboygan!

Let's see Walker opponents get out there in the state and assail Walker for the outrageous deception of using the word "resolved" to refer to the state and federal court interventions thus far.

Meanwhile, I'm here in Madison, being a professor in the law school, and my instinct is to look up the word "resolve" in the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary. The verb "resolve" comes from the Latin word resolvere, which means "to loosen, undo, unfasten, to unravel, solve, to unbind, to release, to separate into components, break up, to reduce to liquid, melt, dissolve, to soften, reduce to pulp, to make less tense, relax, to weaken the nerves of, paralyse, to make less strict or disciplined... to put an end to, finish, settle, to cancel, nullify, to refute, rebut...."

The oldest meanings of the word have to do with liquefaction, dissolving, melting, softening, and decomposing, and unbinding. The OED has 26 definitions for the verb "resolve," many with multiple subparts, so you'll have a hell of a time trying to pin Walker with that one word.

The set of meanings that seem most apt in this context has to do with unbinding: "To untie; to answer, solve; to decide, determine," especially "To answer (a question); to solve (a problem of any kind); to determine, settle, or decide upon (a point or matter regarding which there is doubt or dispute)." For example, from Henry Fielding's "Tom Jones": "Whether Mrs. Honour really deserved that Suspicion... is a Matter which we cannot indulge the Reader's Curiosity by resolving."

Have I resolved the meaning of "resolve"? I'm only trying to loosen it up and liquefy it, so that perhaps it looks like whatever it is those farmers are stirring in Sheboygan in photo #5. Because I'm here in Madison, cloistered in the academy, where we should delight in stirring the shit, and nothing can ever be fully resolved. Why, we've been talking for 500 years about "O that this too too sallid flesh would melt, Thaw and resolue it selfe into a dewe."

This John Doe business melted and thawed, it's resolving, and it has resolved itself into — if not quite yet a dew — a doo.

Adieu. It's Breakfast on the Farm time in Wisconsin.