August 16, 2014

"'Qajaq... the first Scrabble-sanctioned palindromic word to include a 'j' or 'q,' is 'irresistibly attractive' to some players..."

It's another way to spell "kayak."

"People used to feel sorry for us Muslim women and think we must be ashamed of ourselves for covering up..."

"... but now they see all these pictures online of us smiling and looking happy and fashionable and realize it’s not a sign of oppression," says Zulfiye Tufa, 24, who Instagrams a hijab selfie every day.

"Modesty is the opposite of what Instagram is about, so it can certainly be controversial," said Melanie Elturk, 29, founder of a Chicago company that markets head scarves and modest clothing. We're told she "tries to limit the number of selfies she posts to keep her ego in check."

Quoted in "A Makeover for the Hijab, via Instagram/Muslim Women Add Personal Style to a Traditional Garment," where I learned a new word: mipsters (i.e., Muslim hipsters). But somebody tell Urban Dictionary, which seems to think it's either a hipster in the Mission District of San Francisco ("Says things like 'Clean is the new dirty,' with no sense of humor") or a Mainstream Hipster ("They are hipster because it's the mainstream. They listen to primarily chart music, but some of this is a little indie/alternative because it's in the charts (eg Ed Sheeran)"). I wonder if there are multiple -ipster words for all the letters of the alphabet.

"They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole."

"... until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting — which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question — make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is."

Writes Jonathan Chait in "This Indictment Of Rick Perry Is Unbelievably Ridiculous."

A football note.

"Robin... was afraid Bobby [De Niro] was going to blow him off the screen."

"I said, ‘I won’t let that happen.’ So it was my job to keep Robin from being funny. We had a shorthand signal for when he got a little flamboyant, improvising," said Penny Marshall, the director of "Awakenings."
She curled her fingers tight and dropped the fist to her groin: “It meant ‘More balls.’ ”

"A recent report showed that 64% of China's rich are either migrating overseas or have plans to leave the country...."

"Politics, though, isn't the most important issue on the mind of Ms. Sun, a 34-year-old Beijing resident who's bailing out.... Her 6-year-old daughter is asthmatic, and Beijing's chronic pollution irritates the girl's lungs. 'Breathing freely is a basic requirement,' she says. The girl also has a talent for music, art and storytelling that Ms. Sun fears China's test-driven schools won't nurture."

WSJ link. Google the text if my link doesn't work for you.

"Beyond the sweeping majesty of the snorfle snorfle snarf."

Nice Metafilter title for this video (which begins in timelapse):

"Rosemary's Revenge."

A nice presentation of the Rick Perry story at Drudge:

Here's the video everyone's watching:

This will raise Perry's stature, right?

Further down on the page, you can see Drudge has a "frowns" theme going:

Perry in synch with Merkel and Putin.

ADDED: Notice that in the still shot, Rosemary is making a gun-shooting gesture and the "GOTCHA!" headline implies that she's hit her target. Rosemary's last name is Lehmberg, but you won't find it on Drudge's page. She hit the big time as a first-name only person: Rosemary. "Rosemary's Revenge" sounds like the name of a sequel to the movie "Rosemary's Baby."

AND: "She talks kinda lazy/And people say she she's crazy/And her life's a mystery/Oh, but love grows where my Rosemary goes/And nobody knows like me..."

"We’ll hammer you with ten thousands tiny nails. You’ll love it."

Things I highlighted reading "The Circle" by Dave Eggers.
Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness...

"She has her hands all over him... Why is she touching him like that?"

"He’s just been hanging out with the wrong crowd. I told him he has to stop hanging out with those boys."

Said the mother of a 13-year-old who was allegedly chased down and held in a "bearhug" by a woman who wanted her cell phone back.
"He was so pudgy and was slowing down, so that’s why I caught up to him," [the victim, Clara] Vondrich said, adding she felt sorry for the kid.
The teen was wearing sneakers and Vondrich, 36, had on wedgie sandals that didn't even have a strap around the heel to hold them on. And we're told she held onto the kid for 2 minutes until the police arrived. This happened in Brooklyn, and of course, there are photographs of the scene, published in the NY Post, which withholds the name of the alleged thief but not the photographs of his face and the body-shaming statements about him.

ADDED: Two women compete in a game called "Empathy."

What's the whole story behind the anecdote that begins Paul Campos's Atlantic article "The Law-School Scam"?

Here's the article, which is subtitled "For-profit law schools are a capitalist dream of privatized profits and socialized losses. But for their debt-saddled, no-job-prospect graduates, they can be a nightmare." That's a story we've seen many times, from Campos and others, and it's a common journalistic practice to begin with an attention-getting anecdote that's supposed to set up the sober, evidence-based analysis to follow, even though it's often not all that connected. But this anecdote is just so weird, and it's lacking in the details I would need to make sense of it even aside from whether it has much to do with the "law-school scam" topic.

Last April, David Frakt, a candidate for the deanship at the Florida Coastal School of Law was giving his job talk, we're told, discussing "what he saw as the major problems facing the school: sharply declining enrollment, drastically reduced admissions standards, and low morale among employees."
But midway through Frakt’s statistics-filled PowerPoint presentation, he was interrupted when Dennis Stone, the school’s president, entered the room. (Stone had been alerted to Frakt’s comments by e-mails and texts from faculty members in the room.) Stone told Frakt to stop “insulting” the faculty, and asked him to leave. Startled, Frakt requested that anyone in the room who felt insulted raise his or her hand. When no one did, he attempted to resume his presentation. But Stone told him that if he didn’t leave the premises immediately, security would be called. Frakt packed up his belongings and left.
First, we're seeing the way social media can work within an institution. A speaker may be in a room, experiencing dominance and control over the group by standing and lecturing while they silently and seemingly politely listen, and yet a whole revolution could be going on in text. Objections to phrasings can be texted and twittered about. No one includes the speaker, who rambles along according to his plan. The audience — instead of interacting in the normal manner of human intercourse through the ages — summons an authority from outside the room, and this clownish character rescues the passive-aggressive audience from their oppression.

(If the lawprofs are modeling this insidious new form of classroom participation, they will get their comeuppance when students use it on them. The professor attempts to conduct a discussion, perhaps of some touchy issue like affirmative action or abortion, and the students look disengaged, but they are really having an intense discussion, hurling accusations around. The professor is a racist. The professor is a sexist. Next thing you know, the dean has been summoned, breaks into the classroom, and conducts and on-the-spot trial. Whoa! Get ready, lawprofs.)

Second, what did the faculty find so insulting that they demanded an intervention from an outsider? What would have been enough to propel Stone into the room to interrupt a candidate — mid-presentation — and kick him out? To threaten to call security?! It doesn't make sense to portray this — as Campos does — as distress over the same old "law-school scam," which is about the ratio of jobs to students and the high tuition, and so forth. Even if Frakt presented the statistics vividly and the economic situation at the Florida Coastal School of Law is dismal and disturbing, it would not justify the weird drama. The normal response would be to push the candidate with questions or to look at him blankly and, after the time for the talk was over or close enough to over, drift out of the room having decided to vote against him. It must be something more, and I'm irked at Campos for sticking this anecdote at the top as if it will make readers see the dreadful emergency that is the "law-school scam."

Can somebody email me about what really happened that day? Without more, I would hypothesize that Frakt said some things about race and/or gender that got texted into what felt like a realization that racial/sexual harassment is going on right now. I would guess that Stone got a message that the school itself was condoning some kind of harassment and that he had an immediate duty to end it. Am I right?

Somebody talk to me.

UPDATE: David Frakt has a long blog post at The Faculty Lounge detailing what he said that day he was so rudely interrupted. Does it answer my question? He doesn't know what the faculty were texting and emailing or what Stone was thinking. What could have been perceived as "insulting"? In his account: "I explained that, according to my interpretation of LSAT scores... over half of the students in the 2013 entering class at FCSL [fell] in the 'extreme risk' of failure category." I don't know the precise words or tone of voice he used, but conceivably, the statistics are so horrible that it felt intolerably insulting just to hear the facts stated. Frakt said he "suggested that it was unfair, ethically questionable, and a potential violation of ABA standards to admit students with such poor aptitude for the study of law," and he predicted that the ABA might put the school on probation, which would drive students away and exacerbate the problem. That's pretty frightening, but it's still not enough to justify cutting off his talk. It may nevertheless make Stone's unwise reaction comprehensible.

August 15, 2014

Schoolyard sunset.


"A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, indicted Governor Rick Perry today. Why?"

"For exercising his constitutional prerogative by threatening to veto, and then vetoing, an appropriation to support the public corruption unit in Travis County’s district attorney’s office...."
The Travis County district attorney’s office has long been a cesspool of corruption. It was that office, controlled by the Democratic Party machine, that infamously indicted Tom DeLay for nothing. It took years before DeLay could finally clear his name, and his career was ruined.
ADDED: The quote above is from Power Line. Instapundit writes:
Even many of the Dems on my Twitter feed think this indictment is a reach. But, as with Scott Walker, the Democratic Deep State is trying a spoiling attack aimed at clearing the 2016 field.

But if threatening a veto is indictable, well, how many vetoes has Obama threatened?

"The Clintons are keeping the Castros very close to them."

"It’s a natural friendship waiting to bloom."

"The U.S. public health establishment buries overwhelming evidence that abstinence is a cause of heart disease and early death."

"People deserve to know that alcohol gives most of us a higher life expectancy—even if consumed above recommended limits."

That's abstinence from drinking alcohol. I don't know about the evidence about other forms of abstinence.

"To get that ultra look, that Tilda Swinton thing, you have to go in there and strip all the melanin away."

"It’s practically like introducing albinism."

Quote from a character in a novel about race-reassignment treatments, reviewed in the NYT here.
One day Kelly meets a familiar-looking black man. This turns out to be his old friend and bandmate Martin Lipkin, a Jewish guy who has undergone what he calls “racial reassignment surgery.” Inside, Martin always felt black.
Alternatives to reading that novel:

1. Read "Black Like Me," the bestseller that seared America's conscience in the early 1960s.

2. Or — from the same era — read this short piece in Jet magazine:

3. Select something from Wikipedia's incredibly long "List of entertainers who performed in blackface." I picked Doris Day:

4. Listen to Lou Reed sing "I Wanna Be Black" one more time.

"More than 300,000 people who bought subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act could lose it next month..."

"... if they do not provide proof that they are living in the United States legally, the Obama administration said Tuesday."

"Thus did humans inadvertently create an ecological niche for a predator in one of the most densely populated regions of the country."

"In an exceedingly brief period, coyote, wolf and dog genes have been remixed into something new: a predator adapted to a landscape teeming with both prey and another apex predator, us. And this mongrel continues to evolve."

That NYT Magazine article seems like something the British sociologist Ben Pitcher should express concern about.

"The time has come to think seriously about whether we have a national character or not."

"Today, unfortunately, the atmosphere is that if you go to anybody for work, that person will immediately ask, ‘What is in this for me?’ When he learns that there is nothing for him, he will say, ‘Why should I?’ We have to break out of this cycle of ‘what is in this for me’ and ‘why should I.’ We need to shine our national character."

Consider who might be saying this before clicking here.

"I had never expected to receive such a thing from a company with a caliber such as yours, and am saddened that I will no longer to be able to shop with you."

Lands' End was just trying to "reward our valued customers with magazine subscriptions highlighting fashion and lifestyle topics," but the parents who were buying school uniforms were shocked at the magazine that was selected for them: GQ.

"I'm taking up a new hobby: tattooing... I'm practicing on this piece of raw beef..."

"This is actually worse than Trayvon Martin, you have standoffs in the streets. [Obama] has met it with his dispassionate speaking."

"That is not useful.... We have a big racial problem, and he has tiptoed around it."

Said Anthea Butler, associate professor of religious studies and Africana studies at The University of Pennsylvania, quoted in "Should Obama Do More on Ferguson and Other Racial Issues?"

Belief in the power of Obama's speaking has faded. And yet... there's still a belief that he could solve problems through great speech. The word "dispassionate" reveals that remaining hope. As if injecting passion might work.
Obama’s caution on what happened in Ferguson is not surprising. It’s not just a racial issue, but one of policing and local control. Early in this tenure, Obama, at a press conference, had said Massachusetts police “acted stupidly” in arresting Harvard professor and Obama friend Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in front of his home. The police action was probably unwise, but the president was criticized for weighing into a local law enforcement matter.
So passionate speech doesn't do the trick either.

"The world is filled with billions of people, and most of them live in conditions where they will never see an architect or an architect-designed space..."

"... To have a first-rate architect pay attention to those in need of shelter, and build better-quality buildings to serve their aesthetic and human needs — that is wonderful."

Said Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was a member of the jury that awarded the Pritzker Prize to the architect Shigeru Ban, the subject of "Paper Palaces/The architect of the dispossessed meets the one per cent."

"To be so afraid that — when you're pulled over, for, like, a tail light — you cringe. Because of: The Past."

August 14, 2014

Signs, clear and unclear, of progress in Iraq.

1. "Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on Thursday night said he agreed to relinquish power, state television reported, a move that came after days of crisis in which Mr. Maliki’s deployment of extra security forces around the capital raised worries of a military coup."

2. "Yazidi leaders and emergency relief officials on Thursday strongly disputed American claims that the siege of Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq had been broken and that the crisis was effectively over, saying that tens of thousands of Yazidis remained on the mountain in desperate conditions." Obama said: "The bottom line is the situation on the mountain has greatly improved and Americans should be proud... We do not expect there to be an additional operation to get people off the mountain."

3-year-old girl survives for 11 days in the Siberian wilderness with the help of her puppy Kyrachaan.

"Rescuers came across numerous bears before eventually finding the child. The tot was extremely thin, with mosquito bites covering most of her body, as well as scratches on her feet. Larina remembered everything about her frightening ordeal, especially how Kyrachaan had kept her safe and watched over her...."

That's the report from Central European News.

Gregory out. Todd in.

At "Meet the Press."

As expected.

"Onstage in Detroit... two weeks after a five-day riot had left forty-three people dead, hundreds injured, and the city in ruins," she cried: "Detroit, you did it... I love you, Detroit — you did it!"

"She was met with roars of approval, which one Detroit critic said he presumed had come from 'the arsonists, looters and snipers in the audience.' Another critic, however, wrote that her show let white people know what they had to learn, and learn fast. Was she the voice of national tragedy or of the next American revolution?"

From "A Raised Voice/How Nina Simone turned the movement into music." The concert described above took place on August 13, 1967. The quote — "I love you, Detroit — you did it!" — came right after the song "Just In Time." (You know that song: "Now you're here/And now I know just where I'm going/No more doubt or fear/I've found my way...")



Seja brings the ball and — at Puparazzo — the bat.

Confused logos of feminism at Bust.

I don't normally read Bust, but I was trying to go to Buzzfeed and mis-auto-completed the address. I clicked on a couple feminism things: 1. "How To Create A Women's Empowerment Club At Your School," and 2. "Men's Rights Movement Misunderstands Feminism." Upon seeing #1, I contemplated blogging just about the big logo displayed at the top:

Then I clicked on #2, and here's the illustration at the top:

"Bust" suggests a punch in the face as well as a couple of breasts, so take care, Bust. Get your story straight. Or at least pay a little attention to making it look straight. I know breasts don't always match. ("Even if your girls are the same cup size, they are likely to hang differently.") A good editor, like a good bra, can create the appearance of balance and support. Please try harder.

I looked up "bust" in the (unlinkable) OED, and I see that it has a lot of negative meanings, for example "A binge, a drinking bout," as in:
1939 H. H. Child Poor Player 22 Every now and then I went a bust, walked into Pagani's..and demanded devilled kidneys.
Also: "A financial crash; a sudden failure or collapse of trade."
1894 Alpha Tau Omega Palm Apr. 156 At present in Virginia it is easier to bust a boom than to boom a bust.
Or: "A raid or arrest by a law-enforcement agency."
1938 New Yorker 12 Mar. 38/3 ‘One whiff [of marijuana]’ said Chappy, ‘and we get a bust.’ (‘Bust’ is Harlem for a police raid.)

1959 W. S. Burroughs Naked Lunch 15 Provident junkies..keep stashes against a bust.
Or: "A failure, a flop; a disappointing person or experience."
1859 J. R. Bartlett Dict. Americanisms (ed. 2), Bust, a burst, failure. The following conundrum went the rounds of the papers at the time the Whig party failed to elect Mr. Clay to the presidency: ‘Why is the Whig party like a sculptor? Because it takes Clay, and makes a bust.’
As that old riddle shows, a "bust" is also a sculpture of the upper part of the body, and it's this meaning which leads to "bust" meaning "woman's bosom or breasts."
1858 T. De Quincey Secret Societies (rev. ed.) in Select. Grave & Gay VII. 250 Oh, that dreadful woman, with that dreadful bust!—the big woman, and the big bust!—whom and which to encircle in ‘a chaste salute’ would require a man with arms fourteen feet long!
The sculpture/bosom meaning has a different etymology from the drinking/collapse meaning, which began as a variation of the word "burst."

Police officer drags woman out of car...

... caught on video.

"My grandmother remembers the Arab world much differently than people view it today."

"She remembers a place known for its music, innovation, and intellectual abilities. I may be naive, but I want to help work toward unity in the Arab world — both between our countries and within our countries — so that we can get back to that place again."

"With the lights out, it's less dangerous... I feel stupid and contagious...."

An old song lyric evoked by the new headline "The Science Behind Suicide Contagion."
Publicity surrounding a suicide has been repeatedly and definitively linked to a subsequent increase in suicide, especially among young people. Analysis suggests that at least 5 percent of youth suicides are influenced by contagion....

There’s a particularly strong effect from celebrity suicides....The idea is to avoid emphasizing or glamorizing suicide, or to make it seem like a simple or inevitable solution for people who are at risk. 
I've noticed, in the coverage of the Robin Williams suicide, a grasping onto the belief that he felt compelled: He couldn't help it. That's comforting for survivors, and with some celebrities, everyone feels like a survivor, but it unwittingly sends the message to those who feel drawn to suicide that it's hopeless and that if you succumb, you won't be blamed; in fact, you will have made a profound statement of the magnitude of your pain, and it will fill the survivors with love and understanding (as opposed to the new load of problems and questions that you've created and escaped).

The end of the linked article — which I read after linking to the old Nirvana tune — discusses the Kurt Cobain suicide. It "bucked the pattern" — suicides decreased —  assertedly because journalists were careful to adhere to suicide prevention guidelines. There is no mention of the impact of the uniquely dramatic public performance of Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, reading his suicide letter out loud and interspersing her outraged commentary
I don't really think it takes away his dignity to read this considering that it's addressed to most of you. He's such an asshole. I want you all to say 'asshole' really loud.... God! You asshole.... And I'm laying in our bed, and I'm really sorry. And I feel the same way you do. I'm really sorry you guys. I don't know what I could have done. I wish I'd been here. I wish I hadn't listened to other people, but I did. Every night I've been sleeping with his mother, and I wake up in the morning and think it's him because his body's sort of the same. And I have to go now. Just tell him he's a fucker, OK? Just say "fucker." "You're a fucker." And that you love him.

"I think any camera that takes a picture, it comes out all right."

Said Andy Warhol, quoted in "Digitizing Warhol’s Film Trove to Save It."
“He filmed everything around him,” said Geralyn Huxley, a curator of film and video at the Warhol Museum. “He went to people’s houses and filmed the dinners. He was basically a workaholic and the amount of film is unbelievable.”

But she added: “For all of the film out there, there’s very little of Warhol himself in any of it, actually. You get the sense that he didn’t really like to see himself on camera.”
That "added" is anachronistic. Only in these days of selfies would you think of making a point of a photographer's absence from his own pictures. That's why it was amusing that Alfred Hitchcock made a thing of appearing somewhere in his own films. Here's every Alfred Hitchcock cameo:

Don't miss, at 8:10, "The Birds," with dogs.

August 13, 2014

"I was aware too that this burbling and manic man-child that I watched on the box on my Nan’s front room floor... struggled with mental illness and addiction."

"The chaotic clarity that lashed like an electric cable, that razzed and sparked with amoral, puckish wonder was in fact harvested madness. A refinement of an energy that could turn as easily to destruction as creativity.... Robin Williams could have tapped anyone in the western world on the shoulder and told them he felt down and they would have told him not to worry, that he was great, that they loved him. He must have known that. He must have known his wife and kids loved him, that his mates all thought he was great, that millions of strangers the world over held him in their hearts, a hilarious stranger that we could rely on to anarchically interrupt, the all-encompassing sadness of the world. Today Robin Williams is part of the sad narrative that we used to turn to him to disrupt. What platitudes then can we fling along with the listless, insufficient wreaths at the stillness that was once so animated and wired, the silence where the laughter was?... That all around us people are suffering behind masks less interesting than the one Robin Williams wore?"

Wrote Russell Brand.

ADDED: Brand is an interesting (if purple) writer. I like the verb "burble," and had just used it myself, before reading this, in a comment on an earlier post: "Hate speech. When is it cool and cute and something to burble about?"

AND: "The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame/Came whiffling through the tulgey wood/And burbled as it came!"

Wispy clouds of poodle hair...


... and nostril billows everywhere... I've looked at clouds that way....

More Poodle Lily at The Puparazzo, here.

"Rather than spending hours watching television or playing sports as a kid, Snowden fell in love with books, especially Greek mythology."

"'I remember just going into those books, and I would disappear with them for hours,' he says. Snowden says reading about myths played an important role growing up, providing him with a framework for confronting challenges, including moral dilemmas. 'I think that's when I started thinking about how we identify problems, and that the measure of an individual is how they address and confront those problems,' he says."

"Here, though, there are no oppressors. No one’s forcing you to do this. You willingly tie yourself to these leashes."

"And you willingly become utterly socially autistic. You no longer pick up on basic human communication clues. You’re at a table with three humans, all of whom are looking at you and trying to talk to you, and you’re staring at a screen, searching for strangers in Dubai.... But you’re not very interesting anymore. You sit at a desk twelve hours a day and you have nothing to show for it except for some numbers that won’t exist or be remembered in a week. You’re leaving no evidence that you lived. There’s no proof.... And worse, you’re not doing anything interesting anymore. You’re not seeing anything, saying anything. The weird paradox is that you think you’re at the center of things, and that makes your opinions more valuable, but you yourself are becoming less vibrant. I bet you haven’t done anything offscreen in months. Have you?"

From Dave Eggers, "The Circle."

"A college student accused of killing his roommate asked Siri for advice on hiding a body the day the man went missing..."

"Pedro Bravo... told Apple's digital assistant Siri: 'I need to hide my roommate.'"
In response to this, Siri said: 'What kind of place are you looking for? Swamps. Reservoirs. Metal foundries. Dumps.'...

The pair had gone to Best Buy to buy a Kanye West CD when they had a fight in the car.

"My favorite photos of family are framed in my house, not posted on social media, and they‘ll remain there."

"My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that's gone, and I feel stripped bare."

"A Polish man and woman taking selfies at the cliffs of Cabo Da Roca in Portugal on Saturday fell to their deaths."

"According to investigators, the couple had been taking photos of themselves when they fell down a cliff and into the Atlantic Ocean.... Falling off of a cliff while snapping a photo is an uncommonly tragic event...."

The word "tragic" is often misused in news reports of deaths, as pedants like to observe, but I think this one is correct.

"It is tempting to just whine about how Hollywood is so risk-averse that they will reboot or sequalize any remotely familiar 1980′s/1990′s property they can find."

"But these announcements never fail to make me a little sad. The stench in the air isn’t greed or fear of the new, but rather a token amount of desperation."

From an April 18, 2014 Forbes article titled: "Robin Williams Making 'Mrs. Doubtfire 2' Should Make Us Sad."

"When I told my pal #LaurenBacall I had boyfriend troubles she said "Men, f**k 'em!" Give 'em hell in heaven Betty RIP."

"Here's America today... frivolous entertainment, texting and Twitter replacing serious news reporting, reading, writing and arithmetic...."

If only we weren't so frivolous, if we could get serious, maybe we could figure it all out.

August 12, 2014

Goodbye to Lauren Bacall.

A grand old actress has died. She was 89.

Watch her with Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe in "How to Marry a Millionaire":

AND: Lauren's best lines:

"I'm hard to get, Steve. All you have to do is ask me."

"Secretary Clinton has at every step of the way touted the significant achievements of his presidency, which she is honored to have been part of as his secretary of state."

"While they’ve had honest differences on some issues, including aspects of the wicked challenge Syria presents, she has explained those differences in her book and at many points since then. Some are now choosing to hype those differences but they do not eclipse their broad agreement on most issues. Like any two friends who have to deal with the public eye, she looks forward to hugging it out when ... they see each other tomorrow night."

A beat-up old butterfly...


... on his her last sips of zinnia-nectar.

ADDED: The correction responds to commenters who tell me the color of this tiger swallowtail means it's a lady.

Should the President go on vacation?

There's war in the Middle East — as ever — and illegal immigration seems to be proceeding apace — as usual. Dana Milbank seems to disapprove.

Should the President go on vacation? free polls 

I wasn't even going to talk about the tampons...

... but if Glenn is going to bring that up and the old uproar about being a feminist standing proudly in front of the old sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace ex-President, I'm going to have to link.

What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?

I'm guessing it's not "By the way, I thought of a good contest for your blog: What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?," which is something somebody uttered to me via email just now.

And I'm sure it's not: "I'm guessing it's not 'By the way, I thought of a good contest for your blog: What is the greatest sentence ever uttered by a human being?,' which is something somebody uttered to me via email just now."

"Cladly dressed."

A strange new phrase has appeared on the language landscape, and it's funny because it's so clearly wrong and it's so easy to understand where it came from and what it means. As Language Log says: "Presumably it's a garbled memory of 'scantily clad,' a phrase that involves two rare words often encountered together."

"Scantily clad" is one of the first language issues I addressed on this blog, back in March 2004. This was back in the days before posts had titles and before the word "listicle" existed, but the post is a listicle, and the 4th item is:
4. Kudos to Neil MacFarquhar for thinking of an adjective to precede "clad" other than "scantily." For decades, writers have searched their minds for an alternative and now, finally, a solution: "skimpily clad." (Read the article, too, to learn how "Abdel Hakim, a strapping young Saudi, kissed Kawthar, a raven-haired Tunisian beauty, and all hell broke loose." It's about reality TV in the Mideastern milieu.)
That was written before I read that Elmore Leonard denounced the phrase "all hell broke loose," or I would have mentioned it.

"The writer H. G. Wells is often credited with coining the description of the conflict as 'the war that will end war'..."

"... the title of an essay that became a jingoistic catchphrase, 'the war to end all wars.' As the conflict drew to a close, a more cynical view overtook that sentiment when David Lloyd George, the British prime minister at the time, is said to have remarked: 'This war, like the next war, is a war to end war.'"

From "On Centenary of World War I, Europe Sees Modern Parallels."

"Is an English professor a scientist?"

Asks University of Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank.
I’ve always believed that “scientist” describes a way of looking at the world. What differentiates a tenure-track faculty member or a senior researcher from an informed journalist or interested layperson is that academic researchers are trained to think theoretically. That is, they are trained to bring intellectual frameworks to their exploration of knowledge. They are trained to use evidence to build an argument, often calling upon one or more theoretical frameworks and testing how the evidence supports or does not support the conclusions that a particular theoretical framework would suggest....

Hence, I’ve always believed that an English professor discussing the feminist implications of a medieval manuscript is as much a scientist as the microbiologist analyzing the impact of a particular chemical agent on cell reproduction. What differentiates academic researchers from others who write on similar topics is the intellectual rigor they bring....
But does the English professor really bring "as much... intellectual rigor" as the microbiologist? And what happens when the feminist's framework makes out "intellectual rigor" as a patriarchal concept?

Sorry, I'm a law professor, and my framework is not "to use evidence to build an argument." It's to question the arguments that other people make and to ask what interest they have in making those arguments that way. Your argument is my evidence, and I am not engaged in a building project. (On those last 8 words, I more or less said what I had to say 20 years ago, in "Late Night Confessions in the Hart and Wechsler Hotel" — PDF.)

"Sung Woo Lee was born and raised in South Korea, and yet the poor guy somehow got roped into cheering for the Kansas City Royals."

"He's followed the team for something like two decades now but he has never visited the United States. This week, thanks to a group of nice fans, Sung Woo is getting an ambassador's welcome in Kansas City, and on Tuesday, 'the best Royals fan to have never seen a game in person,' in the Pine Tar Press's phrase, finally made it to the K."

More here

The Royals are on an amazing winning streak right now, by far the longest in baseball.

"If I had my druthers, Meet the Press would revert to the pre-Tim Russert formula of a panel of journalists interviewing newsmakers."

"I am at a loss as to why the show couldn’t revert to that (albeit with a roundtable discussion at the end). It would instantly win viewers from the right if that panel had right-of-center journalists in on the questioning (I have no doubt that one of the main reasons Gregory’s ratings have slumped is that he has zero credibility with right-of-center viewers."

Says Jonah Goldberg, and I guess I might agree but only because I miss Tim so damned much and I don't believe anyone can replace him. But David Gregory is sitting in Tim's seat without seriously trying to do what he did. Gregory is insipidly into his niceness. He doesn't belong there. It's painful. Can Chuck Todd get closer to the Russert ideal? Who knows?

I still think Chuck Todd looks like Murray on "Flight of the Conchords":

"He could go anywhere in the world — and stay in the best hotel..."

"... and he chose to go where anyone can go — and take a flier on the accommodations."

I say, in a comment at Facebook.

"[L]ibertarianism is basically conservatism for people with social anxieties."

A good aphorism from Roy Edroso, in his Village Voice column which reviews what "rightbloggers" are saying, this time focusing on that NYT article "Has the 'Libertarian Moment' Finally Arrived?"

The moment for reading that article never arrived for me, but I'm seeing Edroso's piece because Instapundit linked to Matt Welch at Reason, who quarrels with Edroso about the relative extent of Reason magazine's advocacy of gay marriage and the religion-based rights of businessfolk to discriminate against gay people.

You guys can fight amongst yourselves. I liked the aphorism, but unlike the relative number of statements in Reason about gay marriage and religion-based rights, it's hard to figure out what to count to check its truth. My sense that it's true comes from the embodied intuition and empathy that I feel is relatively lacking in libertarians.

"[M]en with a childhood history of diarrhea showed a distinctive preference for highly feminized female faces..."

"... by contrast, they betrayed no bias at all when asked to evaluate the faces of other men. Since you can’t inseminate another male—believe me, I’ve tried—that makes sense. The inverted pattern appeared for ladies with a childhood history of diarrhea: unlike their peers who preferred male faces with androgynous features, women who’d spent a worrisome amount of time on the toilet as little girls now liked their men, or at least their men’s faces, as manly as possible. Similarly, they showed no particular bias when it came to what makes a woman’s face attractive."

From a Scientific American item titled "This Queasy Love: How Having Frequent Diarrhea as a Child Shapes Your Adult Mate Choice," by Jesse Bering.

August 11, 2014

Continuing the flower theme.

I'm glad I don't have to take drugs to see this, and I suspect it will be as sleep facilitating as leaving one foot or toe out from under the covers.

Cosmic Flower Unfolding from Ben Ridgway on Vimeo.

Bud and flower.




All 62 episodes of "Breaking Bad"...

... ranked from worst to best (with reasons for the ranking articulated).

Sleep with one foot out from under the covers.

Or toe.

UPDATE: Okay, next morning: How did you all sleep? Foot out? Toe out? Well? Badly? I tried foot out, then retreated. Slept just fine, even with 4 windows open, blinds shut, and wind making the blinds knock against the sills all night.

Robin Williams has died.

And they are saying "suspected suicide"!

ADDED: This is very sad. He's exactly my age, and I remember how much we loved him in the 1970s. The first comedy album I ever bought was "Reality... What a Concept."

AND: First appearance on the "Tonight" show, 1981:

AND: Here he is, again with Johnny, 10 years later:

Flowers and their insects.

The delicate and the not-so-delicate... in the front yard today.

"No one in their right mind wants to carry a loaded firearm in public or have one around the house."

"The chances that you will kill or injure yourself or someone you know are far greater than that you will shoot a 'bad guy.' According to the Brady Campaign, a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to kill or injure a family member in a domestic argument, accident or suicide than it is to be used to stop an intruder. Wanting to carry a concealed weapon indicates a level of paranoia or poor judgment that is unfortunate in a private citizen, but in my view, absolutely disqualifying in a person who wants to be Wisconsin's top law enforcement official."

From a column by Madison's former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, denouncing Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, a candidate for for Wisconsin attorney general in tomorrow's Democratic Party primary, because she applied for a concealed carry permit.

Pyongyang... in flow-motion.

"How were you guys allowed to film in Pyongyang?... Were there restrictions on what was allowed to be filmed?... Isn’t this all fake? You don’t see the real North Korea.... Are people allowed to travel to North Korea?"

Hit with a book.

I was looking for an image to illustrate the previous post and Googled that phrase — hit with a book — and didn't get what I was looking for but was highly amused — especially in view of the blog's emerging theme today — to find "Open carry kids book becomes a hit after being mocked by Bill Maher."

Here's "My Parents Open Carry" at Amazon, where it's "#1 in Books > Children's Books > Education & Reference > Government." The comments there are interesting, for example:
I got really excited when I found out there was a sequel coming out for the really little ones: "Goldilocks and the Three Open Carry Bears"

SPOILER ALERT: This does not end well for the blonde moocher who commits a Breaking and Entering.
AND: Here's the kind of illustration I was looking for:

Of course, in today's America, it's going to be a young female hitting a guy with a book. That's from "Buffy Season 8" which means close to nothing to me:
Roden hands her the book he was holding a couple of issues back which has the Twilight symbol on, he tells Faith that he has been promised to be protected from the coming “purge” if he gets rid of Buffy and the book will tell them how. She looks at the book and smiles, “thanks” she tells him, then hits him round the face with the book, "but I never was much of a reader."

"One afternoon in August 1937, Ernest Hemingway strode into the New York office of a Scribner’s editor and slapped a book across Max Eastman’s face."

"He then 'bared his chest to Mr. Eastman and asked him to look at the hair and say whether it was false'... Next, he 'persuaded Mr. Eastman to bare his chest and commented on its comparatively hairless condition.'... Hemingway was simply very pissed off about a manhood-challenging review that Eastman had written for The New Republic four years earlier. Writing about Death in the Afternoon — a nonfiction account of the bullfighting traditions of Spain — Eastman repeatedly jabs at Hemingway, saying 'the only simple thing' about the book is Hemingway himself, and alleging that his literary style is the equivalent 'of wearing false hair on the chest.'"

From "The Review That Caused Hemingway To Slap the Critic in the Face with a Book."

Nice picture at the link of Hemingway sucking in his gut and looking in the mirror at his bare torso... bear torso.

No one speaks of hairy chests as the mark of manhood anymore. I watch baseball games and mute that commercial for a nose-hair trimmer that the male model uses not only in his nose and on his ears and at his nape but also on his chest. A dinky battery-powered hair trimmer on his chest.

And of course, no one admires masculinistic writers who stride into the offices of publishers and slap critics in the face with books. I doubt if it was ever admirably manly to behave like that. The verb "slap" gives it away. Well, at least he strode. He didn't slink or sidle, which is, perhaps, how today's male author would approach a publisher.

By the way... who was Max Eastman? He turns up in what might be one of your favorite books, F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom":
It is pathetic, yet at the same time encouraging, to find as prominent an old communist as Max Eastman rediscovering this truth:

“It seems obvious to me now — though I have been slow, I must say, in coming to the conclusion — that the institution of private property is one of the main things that have given man that limited amount of free-and-equalness that Marx hoped to render infinite by abolishing this institution. Strangely enough Marx was the first to see this. He is the one who informed us, looking backwards, that the evolution of private capitalism with its free market had been a precondition for the evolution of all our democratic freedoms. It never occurred to him, looking forward, that if this was so, these other freedoms might disappear with the abolition of the free market.” [Max Eastman, “Socialism Doesn’t Jibe with Human Nature,” Reader’s Digest, July, 1941, p. 39.]
Slow. Maybe he needed a good slap in the head with a book. Please, no violence. Slap somebody in the head with a book today only metaphorically. And — late clue to Hemingway —  "wearing false hair on the chest" was a metaphor. I hear the ghost of Hemingway — metaphorical ghost — saying "Fuck metaphor!" — "fuck" being, of course, another metaphor. Man and metaphor. It's a tricky business.

ADDED: That reference to Reader's Digest (where Eastman published his "Doesn't Jibe" piece) in the context of hitting somebody with a book got me thinking about Bob Dylan's "Motorpsycho Nightmare":
Well, he threw a Reader’s Digest
At my head and I did run
I did a somersault
As I seen him get his gun...
It's the old farmer who tries to hit Bob with the Reader's Digest and who (like the King of America) threatens him with a gun, and — resonantly enough — what enrages the old farmer is Bob's statement "I like Fidel Castro and his beard." Now, that doesn't mean Bob Dylan is a communist. Bob just needed to come up with something to say that would strike the farmer as "very weird" because he wanted to get thrown out. We all know Bob Dylan is right wing.

ISIS Determined to Strike in U.S.

On "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Lindsey Graham had a talking point he wanted to make sure he nailed:
I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorist ability to operate in Syria and Iraq... a direct threat to the United States... the threat we face from being attacked from Syria, now Iraq... these people... attacking the homeland?

They have expressed a desire to do so.... protect the American homeland.... an existential threat to the homeland.... we're threatened. T

he homeland is threatened by the presence of ISIL in Iraq and Syria.... the threats we face... protecting the homeland... a direct threat to our homeland... we're about to be attacked in a serious way because of the threat emanating from Syria and Iraq... It is about our homeland.

And if we get attacked because he has no strategy to protect us, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages....

... there are more terrorist organizations with more safe havens, with more money, with more weapons, and more capabilities to attack the homeland than there was before 9/11. Mr. President, if you don't adjust your strategy, these people are coming here....
Graham is laying the groundwork. He wants it on record, the equivalent of the famous pre-9/11 memo: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

"King of America" threatens tubers with a shotgun...

... saying he owns the Pine River.

Tubers... Not the potato kind. The kind Spalding Gray wrote about in "Sex and Death to the Age 14": "The only problem with the river as I saw it was the tubers."

And, no, the King of America was not Spalding Gray. Gray died — in a river — a long time ago.

August 10, 2014

Green sunset on Picnic Point...


... with the camera accidentally set to "impressive art."

"The mere possibility of Mr. Obama’s protecting any of the 11 million immigrants living here outside the law is already making Republicans clutch at their chests and cry out: Oh, the legality!"

"He has done nothing yet, but right-wingers have pre-emptively declared him Caesar, crossing a Rubicon into lawlessness."

But isn't that the point of drawing a line — so it won't be crossed? You have to portray the crossing as a dramatic and momentous step or the drawing of a line is not a deterrent. That's why that line-drawing Obama did over Syria was bad: The line was crossed and nothing happened. And that's why it works for the NYT editors (at the first link) to encourage Obama to cross the line:
His power to conduct immigration policy is vast. Congress has given the president broad flexibility and discretion to enforce immigration law. It has also given him the resources to deport about 350,000 to 400,000 people a year, as Mr. Obama has done, relentlessly. It could have given him billions more to deport everyone, but it has not.

For Mr. Obama to use the tools at hand to focus on high-priority targets — felons, violent criminals, public-safety and national-security threats — and to let many others alone would be a rational and entirely lawful exercise of discretion....
The message (from the NYT) is: Go ahead and cross that line and you'll see. It will be just fine

Did Tony Stewart run down Kevin Ward Jr.?

I've seen the video and think Ward is responsible for his fate. How can we interpret a flinch of Stewart's car as Stewart murderously aiming at Ward when Ward was crazily moving about? Maybe in super-slow motion there is insight into Stewart's head....

"You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward."

Said Hillary Clinton, rejecting the positions of the last 2 Presidents. The message is, of course, that she would do it better, and I observe a distinct but deniable message that she as a woman would do it better, that the male instinct is phallic — either aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward or hunkering down and pulling back.

"It takes an army to defeat an army."

Said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Friday.
"It takes an army to defeat an army, and I believe that we either confront ISIL now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future."...

The group is “operating with military expertise, advancing across Iraq and rapidly consolidating its position... Inaction is no longer an option"....
Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, chief of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, used the identical aphorism last Wednesday:
"We must neutralize this enemy... This is an army, and it takes an army to defeat an army.... This is a very, very difficult, dire and dangerous situation here in Iraq...."

"Democratic fratricide..."

In Hawaii.

"Growing up, we listened to a lot of blues and rock and roll in our house, but there was always one particular song that my mother always told me that she hated."

"'Good morning little schoolgirl,' it goes, 'can I go home with you? Tell your mama and your daddy, that I’m a little schoolboy too." Regardless of the era in which it was made, it’s hard to view the song’s lyrics as anything other than flesh-crawlingly creepy, and not just because it was covered by the Grateful Dead and the thought of Jerry Garcia dressed incognito as a schoolboy truly is the stuff of nightmares."

The first paragraph of an essay titled "Why I regret dressing up as a sexy schoolgirl."

I tried to find a photograph of Jerry Garcia in school clothes. This isn't Jerry:

That's Angus Young, iconically in shorts, ironically from a piece titled "25 Short Musicians," which isn't about musicians in shorts, but about short musicians, Young, being 5'2".

Does Young wear shorts because he's short?
Q: Is that just your way of compensating for your short man's complex?

A: Well, America likes big things. I'm really tiny in real life, and I thought, if they got a big one of me, this might fulfill that ambition.
A big what of him? Anyway... looking for a photograph of Jerry Garcia dressed as a schoolboy — unsuccessfully — I stumbled upon a 2012 Vanity Fair article on the "summer of love."
“It was this magical moment … this liberation movement, a time of sharing that was very special,” with “a lot of trust going around,” says Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia, who had a baby with Ken Kesey, the man who helped kick off that season, and who then married Jerry Garcia, the man who epitomized its fruition. “The Summer of Love became the template: the Arab Spring is related to the Summer of Love; Occupy Wall Street is related to the Summer of Love,” says Joe McDonald, the creator and lead singer of Country Joe and the Fish and a boyfriend of one of that summer’s two queens, Janis Joplin. “And it became the new status quo,” he continues. “The Aquarian Age! They all want sex. They all want to have fun. Everyone wants hope. We opened the door, and everybody went through it, and everything changed after that. Sir Edward Cook, the biographer of Florence Nightingale, said that when the success of an idea of past generations is ingrained in the public and taken for granted the source is forgotten.”
Hope and change. Who knew Country Joe was such an intellectual? It's so strange what turns up when you go searching. Now, dress carefully, ladies.

"Maturity is moving from the close-up to the landscape, focusing less on your own supposed strengths and weaknesses and more on the sea of empathy in which you swim, which is the medium necessary for understanding others, one’s self, and survival."

David Brooks attempts an aphorism, ending a column aimed at distinguishing between introspection and narcissism.

Style point: Shouldn't it be seascape?

In October 1880, the New York Times published an article on the word "seascape":
The propriety of this word seems more doubtful if it be borne in mind that landscape seems to run parallel with German landschaft, the primary meaning of which is the circuit of a state, and a secondary one the impression created by nature within such circuit or region on the mind (and, of course, eye) of a spectator, and then its scientific representation by the pencil or brush. Now, it need hardly be said that -schaft has no immediate connection with the root -scep, to see, but with shaffen, to make, and corresponds with our -ship, as in freundschaft, friendship. But this -ship was an Anglo-Saxon or First English -scipe, and belongs to the verbs scapan, sceapan, or scyppan, to form or shape. Our landscape, too, was often written landskip, but whether this is the older form or not I have no materials to prove. It may be a descendant or the above-mentioned scyppan or scipan. Landscipe appears in Bosworth, but not sœscipe, as the sea was probably never regarded as possessing natural lines and boundaries. Landscape is, therefore, not properly a region which the eye beholds or contemplates as a view; and if seascape be regarded as a water view, it is suggestive of a false etymology.
Introspect accordingly.


The strong horse.

"Fighters abandoning al-Qaeda affiliates to join Islamic State, U.S. officials say."
U.S. officials attribute the Islamic State’s rapid emergence to factors both psychological and tactical. Its core group of fighters honed their skills against the armies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the United States when it occupied Iraq. The group has used raids and ransoms to stockpile weapons and cash. And its merciless reputation triggered rampant defections among Sunni members of Iraq’s security forces already disenchanted with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
The post title refers to the famous bin Laden quote: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse." Looking for a link for that, I ran across this New Yorker piece making fun of Thomas Friedman for saying:
No one ever said it better than Osama bin Laden: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse."
The humorist, John Kenney, has 8 examples of "it" not being said "better," e.g.:
Let’s say you see a kitten. Fine, make it two kittens. Let’s say you see two kittens. One’s nimble and fast and cute. The other one is dead. My experience is that people—and by people I mean children—by nature go for the live kitten. They see strength in the live kitten. Also, who wants a dead kitten?
When people see a frightening news story and a silly humor piece, by nature, they will not laugh at the humor piece.