December 20, 2014

"'I'm Putting Wings on Pigs Today,' a person believed to be the gunman wrote on Instagram..."

"... in a message posted just three hours before the officers were shot through their front passenger window."
“They Take 1 Of Ours … Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post continued, signing off with, “This May Be My Final Post.”

Mark Bittman shows James Hamblin how to cook spaghetti squash.



Comment at The Atlantic:
"Oh James, I could so teach you to cook. And I love the look of bewilderment on Mark's face when James eats the raw spinach of the box."

"What's your drinking nationality?"

The booze calculator.

(I'm Equatorial Guinea!)

The sound of ice formation...



... on the last day of fall, on Lake Mendota, in the state park of the Gaylord Nelson, where we hiked across stretches of a thousand shades of brown...

IMG_0012

We need more ice and more snow and we settle in for the solstice.

ADDED: I don't know about you, but for me, when my clinking ice video ended, YouTube sent me to an ASMR video "Bowl of Ice Cubes, wonderful tapping/rain sounds."

"Who's winning GOP Cuba policy smackdown?"

"Marco Rubio vs. Rand Paul."

"Like many graduate degrees, a Master of Fine Arts carries rising costs and brings limited job prospects. So why are more Americans pursuing one?"

Intro to an Atlantic article quoted by its best-rated comment, which says: "The article doesn't answer its own question. The writer didn't ask even one MFA student, 'So... why are you getting an MFA if you're going to spend your life behind a Starbucks counter?'"

Third best-rated comment: "Next in The Atlantic: Forming a garage band. An increasingly popular, increasingly bad financial decision. Next: Playing minor league sports. An increasingly popular.... Come on. People have dreams, and mostly they fall through. Why pick obsessively on the academic ones."

"The state Government Accountability Board’s top officials proceeded with a secret probe into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative political groups for months without authorization..."

"... from the six retired judges who run the board, court records unsealed Friday allege. The documents filed by a target of the investigation also allege that the board voted to end its involvement in the probe in July but that staff continued to work on it."

ADDED: This strikes me as the ultimate in bullshit:
... David Deininger, the retired appeals court judge who chaired the board during the launching of the John Doe investigation, defended [GAB chief counsel Kevin Kennedy and Jonathan Becker, administrator of the agency’s ethics and accountability division].

Deininger... said he didn’t recall exactly when the board was made aware of the investigation, “but something of this magnitude would have been brought to our attention at the earliest opening. They would know this would have been something the board needed to be up to speed on from the get-go." 
He also vouched for Kennedy and Becker, saying impartial administration of election laws was their “modus operandi." "They are professionals and they have always been so," Deininger said.
The GAB is enforcing the letter of the law on its targets. You cannot defend them by saying but they are good people who mean well and who never departed from the spirit of the law. Sticklers must be judged by stickler standards.

"UW-Madison graduate students trump 3 teams, win 'Amazing Race.'"

"The 'Sweet Scientists' team, aptly named for DeJong and Warren’s research topics of candy and ice cream, barely made it to the finale after finishing behind three other teams at the end of last week’s episode. But in a surprise ending, the show kept the duo for the finale, which elicited some frustrated remarks throughout the episode from the other teams."

I'm glad to see a UW team win. I didn't watch because I have tried and failed to enjoy "The Amazing Race." I tried, because it's said to be good. I failed, because it involved scenes of travel difficulties, dealing with airport personnel at ticket counters and so forth, and that's too real.

"They called me an unbeliever for defending democracy, which the Islamic State says is against the Koran."

Said Mohamed Taha Sabri, who is losing support at the House of Peace mosque in Berlin.
“The Islamic State. It is like an invisible arm, coming to poison the wells where our children drink,” Sabri said. “We are losing something precious. We are losing our young people.”...

[T]he Tunisian-born Sabri, who was imprisoned and tortured in the 1980s as a student protester before moving to Germany, called a series of youth meetings. He prominently displayed the flags of Germany and the European Union. His point: Muslims should be proud to live in a thriving Western democracy.

Sabri called the gatherings five days in a row, stringing up new flags each day. But every morning, he said, he arrived to find that some of the youths had taken down both flags before violently shredding them with pocket knives.

"I was disappointed that Lennon got away with giving it to Spector, and even more disappointed with what Spector did to it."

"It has nothing to do with the Beatles at all. ‘Let It Be’ is a bunch of garbage.... [Spector] puked all over it. I’ve never listened to the whole thing, I’ve only listened to the first few bars of some things and said, ‘Oh, forget it.’ It was ridiculously, disgustingly syrupy."

Said the recording engineer and producer Glyn Johns.

Also at the link: Johns on The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin.)

December 19, 2014

"On Thursday, we noticed about 1.3 million of Kim Kardashian’s vanished. Rihanna’s decreased by about 1.2 million."

"Katy Perry’s went down 300,000. Even Oprah lost 100,000."

What did they lose?

"[A] single senior officer, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.... appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment..."

"... with tragic consequences for the United States. Her story runs through the entire report. She dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked.... [S]he has been promoted to the rank of a general in the military... [T]his woman... had supervision over an underling at the agency who failed to share with the F.B.I. the news that two of the future 9/11 hijackers had entered the United States prior to the terrorist attacks...."

From "The Unidentified Queen of Torture," by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

ADDED: I wonder what the basis is for using the word "gleefully."

"Boston.com wanted to paint me as a bad guy, and in general it’s their right to tell the story as they see fit."

"But my emails, right there for all to see, specifically indicated that I wanted the restaurant to refund all customers who had been overcharged. Somehow that key fact ended up totally missing from almost all the media coverage.... From my perspective, the most distressing aspect of the media coverage was how little attention the articles paid to my true motivations."

Said Ben Edelman, the Harvard professor whose email to a restaurant made so many people think he was a world-class asshole.

"We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all fucking people.... we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane."

Said George Clooney.

ALSO: Obama said: "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States... I would have told [Sony executives], do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks."

Stephen Colbert lays down the mask.

A great conclusion to the great show. 

ADDED: GIFs of the cameos. My thoughts: 1. The first one I saw was the person I like best: Willie Nelson. 2. Samantha Power really wants you to think she's a very fun person, 3. Bill Clinton claims and gets special attention.

Can Oklahoma and Nebraska get the U.S. Supreme Court to stop Colorado from facilitating the commerce in marijuana?

States suing states can file their case directly in the Supreme Court, as you may know. Here's the NYT article about the lawsuit:
“Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states,” the suit says, undermining their marijuana bans, “draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.”...

Nebraska and Oklahoma’s challenge is aimed more at the commercial side of marijuana legalization, which created new systems of regulations and taxes as well as recreational stores, dispensaries and production facilities that are monitored and licensed by state officials. The suit does not specifically seek to overturn the portion of Amendment 64 that made marijuana legal for personal use and possession, meaning that portions of legalization could survive even if Nebraska and Oklahoma prevail.
States are not obligated to help the federal government enforce its laws, and clearly Colorado can decide to do nothing and let the feds enforce their own law. That's why Nebraska and Oklahoma has focused on the active things Colorado is doing to facilitate the commerce in marijuana.
The lawsuit... accused Colorado officials of participating in a “scheme” that cultivates, packages and distributes marijuana in direct violation of controlled-substances laws while “ignoring every objective embodied in the federal drug control regulation.” ...

While it is against the law to take legally purchased marijuana across state lines, Nebraska and Oklahoma said that Colorado does not require consumers to smoke or eat their marijuana where they buy it, and said that despite purchasing and possession limits, anyone can easily visit several dispensaries and stock up. Some sheriffs in bordering states say they have pulled over drivers and found edibles and marijuana from multiple Colorado retail outlets.
You can read the state's Motion for Leave to File Complain, Complaint, and Brief here.

How many of the articles about Obama and Cuba mentioned cigars?

Like about 11,000.

"IT’S 2014, PEOPLE. WHY ARE WE STILL EXTREME-CONTOUR SHAMING?!?!"

"Also, we have ACTUAL GIF evidence that she looked absolutely incredible in the moving flesh."

The Justice Department makes a big move on transgender rights.

"Attorney General Holder announced today that the Department of Justice will take the position in litigation that the protection of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status."
Attorney General Holder informed all Department of Justice component heads and United States Attorneys in a memo that the department will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex excludes discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender discrimination, reversing a previous Department of Justice position.  Title VII makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate in the employment of an individual “because of such individual’s…sex,” among other protected characteristics.

“This important shift will ensure that the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are extended to those who suffer discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status,” said Attorney General Holder.  “This will help to foster fair and consistent treatment for all claimants.  And it reaffirms the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

"I believe that the international motion picture audience is racist — in general pictures with an African American lead don’t play well overseas."

"But Sony sometimes seems to disregard that a picture must work well internationally to both maximize returns and reduce risk, especially pics with decent size budgets."

From the leaked Sony email, the remarks of an unnamed producer. This was in the context of explaining why a particular film didn't do well in foreign countries, but the analysis extends to future planning:
"No, I am not saying ‘The Equalizer’ should not have been made or that African American actors should not have been used (I personally think Denzel is the best actor of his generation).... Casting him is saying we’re ok with a double if the picture works.... He’s reliable at the domestic (box office), safe, but has not had a huge success in years. I believe whenever possible the non event pictures, extra ‘bets’ should have a large inherent upside and be made for the right price. Here there isn’t a large inherent upside."
"Double" isn't some movie-industry term, apparently. It's "double" as opposed to "home run." A baseball analogy. That baseball analogy gives way to a gambling analogy, and we can see that the people channeling the money are trying to make money. It's a money-making business, not a lofty art project or a social-change movement.

But let's take a hard look at the old argument: I'm free of racial bias, but my customers are not. That's the argument restaurants used to defend a whites-only policy half a century ago, before Congress made it illegal. Movies, of course, are a form of expression and not places of public accommodation. There can't be any laws relieving movie-makers of the urge to cater to the racial bias of the audiences. That's true even if we think the producers have nothing sincere to say to us and only use expression as a means to an end to get us to hand over our money.

We can withhold our money. The movie business seems to notice when people avoid a movie. That's what the unnamed producer was doing in that leaked email. And yet it's difficult to imagine people staying away from movies they want to see in an effort to contribute to some inchoate message to the film industry that it should treat black actors the same as white actors.

But to see the leaked emails is to get a clearer picture of the decision-making that underlies the product that we are invited to purchase. We don't buy food when we know the factory is squalid.

The death of a 300-year-old tree.

Goodbye to the President's Tree, the oldest tree on the University of Wisconsin campus:
Long before the tract of land next to Lake Mendota became the University of Wisconsin, an acorn embedded itself in the soil not far from some burial mounds created by the original occupants of the land....

“We wanted to keep it as long as we could,” said Daniel Einstein, UW-Madison historic and cultural resources manager. “But in the past few years with the drought and harsh winter, the tree has declined pretty rapidly.”

December 18, 2014

"My thriftiness overwhelmed my modesty, and I removed my T-shirt, stripped off my briefs and marched back to the store."

"If it was hard to buy produce without clothing and with a poor command of the language, it was more difficult to return it. Perhaps the poignant sight of a flat-chested, middle-aged American woman seeking to buy a voluptuous French melon melted the icy heart of the clerk. She found me another watermelon."

From "Vacationing in the Nude, With Mom" (in the NYT).

"Just as people are free to contract, they are also free from contract, and we find it neither prudent nor permissible to impose contractual liability for offhand remarks or grandstanding."

Said the 11th Circuit today, denying $1 million to the law student about whom I said, 5 years ago, "Give this law student a million dollars."

A criminal defense lawyer had argued that his client could not have committed the murder he was accused of because the time frame was impossible. From the opinion (PDF):
[F]or the last leg of the journey, Serrano would have had to get off a flight in Atlanta’s busy airport, travel to the La Quinta several miles away, and arrive in that hotel lobby in only twenty- eight minutes. After extensively describing the delays that would take place to render that twenty-eight-minute timeline even more unlikely,[the lawyer James Cheney] Mason stated, “I challenge anybody to show me, and guess what? Did they bring in any evidence to say that somebody made that route, did so? State’s burden of proof. If they can do it, I’ll challenge ‘em. I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it.”
A law student, Dustin S. Kolodziej, made the trip within 28 minutes, demanded the million dollars, and when it was not forthcoming, sued Mason's law firm for breach of contract. Kolodziej's theory was that Mason's challenge was an offer to form a unilateral contract and that he could and did accept by performing the task. According to the court (applying Florida law), that depended on whether "a reasonable, objective person would have understood [Mason's words] to be an invitation to contract."
The exaggerated amount of “a million dollars”—the common choice of movie villains and schoolyard wagerers alike—indicates that this was hyperbole….

We could just as easily substitute a comparable idiom such as “I’ll eat my hat” or “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle” into Mason’s interview in the place of “I’ll pay them a million dollars,” and the outcome would be the same. We would not be inclined to make him either consume his headwear or assume a simian relationship were he to be proven wrong; nor will we make him pay one million dollars here.
ADDED: Werner Herzog did eat his shoe:

"I believe that all of what we manifest — all of our brain activity, everything we experience — is due to the way the brain functions."

"This includes self-awareness. Being aware of what's going on around you and the way you are and what you are is an experience. An experience is a mechanism, a processing happening inside your brain. So if you make a copy of all of that processing, then I'm convinced that copy will include self-awareness.... If you have an exact copy of the entire brain and you aren't leaving out the parts that are involved with emotions, then why wouldn't you have humor, why wouldn't you have empathy? You would have the same sense of humor in your substrate independent mind as you do in reality. Having a sense of humor is just a certain way of processing activity that goes through your brain, just like the concert pianist who plays Beethoven in a certain way."

From "This Neuroscientist Is Trying to Upload His Entire Brain to a Computer."

But people don't have that much empathy and humor, so why would you think human brains uploaded into computers — severed from the remainder of the nervous system and from a fleshly body capable of interaction with other bodies — would generate nicely friendly emotions? We may love and hope to preserve empathy and humor, but why wouldn't the bodiless brain manifest unpleasant emotions, like rage and sadness? I don't think the neuroscientist really believes what he's saying. Notice the "if" clause and the question mark and the words "just like" in that Beethoven analogy.

"This is the final installment of the Illustrated Scroll of Jack Kerouac’s novel 'On the Road.'"

"I started making one drawing for each page of the book in 2012 and reached the end at page 309 a few weeks ago...."
Last month, Paul Slovak, editor at Viking Penguin called to see about publishing the drawings as a book. He had some great ideas about packaging and design and it looked like it was going to be in stores next fall, but we got some bad news from the Kerouac Estate. They decided not to grant permission because they feel that the project “detracts from the book,” is a “dumbing down” of On the Road, and “diminishes the aura” that the novel possesses....
Ah! Too bad! You can see the drawings by Paul Rogers at the link. Here's a list of things Jack Kerouac called "dumb" in "On the Road":

"'The support of Pope Francis and the support of the Vatican was important to us, given the esteem with which both the American and Cuban people hold the Catholic Church...'"

"'... and in particular Pope Francis who has a substantial history in Latin America and is the first pope to be chosen from Latin America,' a senior administration official said."
Obama also discussed the issue at length with the pope during his public visit to the Vatican in March....

Obama is determined that the pincer movement of economic modernisation and regional and spiritual cajoling will help bring about the longer-term breakthroughs in human rights and democracy that he concedes are largely absent from the existing deal so far.
The pincer movement of economic modernisation and regional and spiritual cajoling...

A "pincer movement" is "a military maneuver in which forces simultaneously attack both flanks (sides) of an enemy formation.... [O]pposing forces advance towards the center of an army that responds by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks to surround it. At the same time, a second layer of pincers may attack on the more distant flanks to keep reinforcements from the target units."

So picture economic modernization and and spiritual cajoling closing in and attacking like that.

By the way, "pincer movement" has 2 layers of metaphor, since the military term is itself a metaphor.



"Pincers, often red-hot, have been used as an instrument of torture since ancient Roman times or earlier."

Torture ≈ cajoling.

By the way, Samuel Johnson called "cajole" "a low word." The OED defines it as "To prevail upon or get one's way with (a person) by delusive flattery, specious promises, or any false means of persuasion."

"A New Zealander and two Burmese men have gone on trial in Myanmar on charges of insulting Buddhism."

"The trio, who run a bar in Yangon, are accused over a flyer promoting a drinks event depicting Buddha... with his eyes shut, wearing large headphones, and surrounded by lurid colours."

"This whole thing is just scary... It’s emails, it’s your private stuff. And the whole town is scared . . . nobody knows what to do."

"You say the wrong thing — you see what happened to [Sterling]... I’m not defending what Sterling said at all, but if that’s not the First Amendment then what the [bleep] is? And what did he say, ‘I don’t want my girlfriend hanging out with black basketball players’? Me neither!"

Said Chris Rock. 

"Sometimes I think, maybe they'll let the bear eat berries and honey in the forest, maybe they will leave it in peace."

"They will not. Because they will always try to put him on a chain, and as soon as they succeed in doing so they tear out his fangs and his claws."

Said Vladimir Putin.

"Obama feels liberated..."

"... and sees the recent flurry of aggressive executive action and deal-making as a pivot for him to spend his final two years in office being more the president he always wanted to be."

"Hours after an announcement that U.S. authorities determined North Korea was behind the recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures..."

".... the entertainment company announced it was pulling the release of the film The Interview."

"But white collar vs. blue collar is not interesting enough."

"My mom and dad were visiting and I’m looking at all the contestants thinking, how can we break these people up? And there was clearly a group of educated, white collar types. And there was clearly a group of blue collar types. But white collar vs. blue collar is not interesting enough. That’s kind of the mixture in our show all the time. But I kept looking at this other group and there was a guy who worked down on the beach, and a woman on a sailboat, and an artist, jeweler, musician, actor, athlete. And I kept starting at them, and all of a sudden it just hit me—the term 'No Collar.' And those are the people that break the rules. And once that came out, I felt like we had the theme, which was: make the rules, follow the rules, break the rules. One says, 'I represent the status quo, we’re going to do it my way, I’m in charge.' The next says, 'I got the rules, let me get out there and get ‘em done for you.' And the next says, 'F— your rules! Here’s what I’m doing.'"

The best of Colbert.

(In honor of his final show, which is tonight.)

The "Serial" finale.

Here. We've listened. Have you? I don't have to say "spoiler alert," do I? Anyway, both Meade and I reacted to the conclusion by saying "bullshit." We both listened to the whole series believing that Adnan was, in fact, guilty, and the finale made that awfully clear, even though Sarah Koenig ultimately copped out with a how-do-we-really-ever-know ending.

Koenig only toyed with the problem of her own self-interest. After letting another person — the office "Mr. Spock" — sum up the evidence logically, Koenig anguishes over whether she's done the whole series for no reason. She needs the show not to have been a ridiculous tease — a cruel tease, denying closure to the family who lost their beautiful girl. Koenig lacked the guts to turn on herself and to say, I benefited, I became famous, I made a show that 5 million people hung on — even Althouse punched in at the exact minute (6 a.m. Central Time) when the finale became available.

Koenig had to pose as the person with empathy. Poor Adnan! Arrested at the age of 17! Handsome and charming! His friends say he was not capable of such an act. Let that other person in the office — whose name I can't remember — give the real ending of the show and explain how the data points in combination reveal Adnan as the murderer. Koenig gets to be the embodiment of feeling and philosophic doubt — the artist, not the logician or lawyer. And she lures her listeners into joining her in the comfortable place, where we are just not sure enough to accept that this man, this former teenager, is in prison.

I'm resisting that the temptation. I was skeptical from Episode 1, because I didn't hear honesty in Adnan's voice, but I went on the journey anyway. Why? It had to have been the seductive quality of Koenig's voice and storytelling. And that music. It was all very well done, and yet, that ending... that emoting in The Theater of the Unknowable... too easy. And — this is what was left unacknowledged — self-serving.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd said: "I wish NPR would bring in a heartless Vulcan to tell it like it is at the end of all their news stories."

ADDED: Dwight Garner in the NYT:
[N]o matter how “Serial” stuck its landing, I had decided by Episode 3 that I would follow Ms. Koenig’s work wherever it takes her. She is an agile writer of cool, declarative sentences. Her voice — literate, probing, witty, seemingly without guile — is an intoxicating one to have in your head....

If a part of the impact of “Serial” has been watching Ms. Koenig’s rise, another part has been watching the revivifying of an old form, the radio serial. She’s made a show that seems dowdy and postmodern all at once. Each episode found its own length, from 28 to 56 minutes. There’s a primal pull to radio drama that many of us had nearly forgotten. We were eager on some level (perhaps too eager) to submit to the spell that “Serial” cast.
Yes, "We were eager," but do not forget that a young woman was murdered. The meta question of guilt is: Should we have taken our pleasures here? 

December 17, 2014

At the Rock Face Café....

P1260545

... take a hard look.

(And if you're shopping, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

Marco Rubio vows to "make every effort to block this dangerous and desperate attempt by the President to burnish his legacy at the Cuban people’s expense."

"Appeasing the Castro brothers will only cause other tyrants from Caracas to Tehran to Pyongyang to see that they can take advantage of President Obama’s naiveté during his final two years in office,” he said. “As a result, America will be less safe as a result of the President’s change in policy. When America is unwilling to advocate for individual liberty and freedom of political expression 90 miles from our shores, it represents a terrible setback for the hopes of all oppressed people around the globe.”

ADDED: "This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people and I want to thank and recognize support from the Vatican and especially from Pope Francis for the improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States," said Cuban President Raul Castro.

"The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns..."

"... according to finance records and government officials. The woman, Estefanía Isaías, had been barred from coming to the United States after being caught fraudulently obtaining visas for her maids. But the ban was lifted at the request of the State Department under former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton so that Ms. Isaías could work for an Obama fund-raiser with close ties to the administration. It was one of several favorable decisions the Obama administration made in recent years involving the Isaías family, which the government of Ecuador accuses of buying protection from Washington and living comfortably in Miami off the profits of a looted bank in Ecuador."

Reports The New York Times.

Campaign finance transparency... this is how it works.

How to power-vault modestly.

I'm reading the headline of the new Dana Milbank column out loud to Meade:
ME: "Elizabeth Warren is not the left’s Ted Cruz. She is the left’s Jim DeMint." What does that even mean?

MEADE: Who is Jim DeMint?

ME: I know.
It's not that we don't know anything about Jim DeMint. He's... a Senator... right?
ME (reading from the Milbank column): "DeMint, the former Republican senator from South Carolina who now runs the conservative Heritage Foundation, is widely seen as the godfather of the tea-party movement."

MEADE: So much for my Tea Party credentials, then. I guess I'm not much of a tea-bagger after all.
Back to the column:
The left’s tea-party equivalent is still in its infancy. But it could be seen recently in the opposition by environmental activists to the reelection of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who lost her seat this month. They wanted to punish her for opposing them on energy issues — even though the conservative replacing her is less to their liking.

This was very much the logic of DeMint, who said he’d prefer a minority of conservative senators to a majority of moderates: “I’d rather have 30 Marco Rubios than 60 Arlen Specters.”
But where's Cruz in all this?
Cruz, long an establishment man, arrived late in the tea party movement, opportunistically embracing its themes to vault himself to power in 2012. His stands in Washington have been less about advancing a policy agenda than about causing mayhem and positioning himself to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

DeMint, by contrast, cared about policy and took a long view of politics....
So you see Milbank's point. Elizabeth Warren is not vaulting herself. She's building a movement, a group project. You can see that — in Milbank's mind — this makes Warren a much better candidate for President. Of course, Warren could just be clever enough to figure out how to seem to lack individualistic, personal lust for power. If so, good for you. There is nobody in this country who can become President on his own....

What's that candy?

"The candy is mentioned in two episodes of the AMC series Mad Men and displayed in others. In 'Three Sundays,' we learn it was Archibald Whitman's favorite candy. In 'Far Away Places,' Peggy — who has an important presentation that day — anxiously searches in vain for her pack and explains to Abe that Donald Draper once gave it to her before a presentation. She dismisses Abe's suggestion to buy a replacement, because it 'wouldn't be the same.' When she finds it in her desk drawer at work, she tells her SCDP colleagues, 'Oh. Thank God. I couldn't take one more omen of doom.' In season six, we see that she continues to keep the candy in her desk drawer, even at CGC."

"A jar of red paint happened to be situated on his desk on the day he first drew a picture of a little girl and a big dog."

"He wanted to name the dog Tiny, though his wife, Norma, discouraged the obvious joke and named him Clifford, after an imaginary friend from her childhood. The little girl who owned him, Emily Elizabeth, was named for their infant daughter."

From the NYT obituary for Norman Bridwell.

How do lawprofs know when they are caving to the feminist activists?

Harvard lawprof Jeannie Suk has an article in The New Yorker called "The Trouble with Teaching Rape." This struck me especially hard because the other day, when I was cleaning out my office, I encountered a folder of notes written 24 years ago, when I taught a law school seminar on rape. ("You're teaching a whole seminar on rape?" That's the first line of the notes.) I'd just read these notes last night — after not looking at them for more than 20 years — so it was interesting to see how different everything was back then and whether my attitude had changed.

I was teaching a seminar on rape because I was immersed in a writing project that had grown out of my experience teaching Evidence. All the evidence casebooks have a section on the "rape shield rule," which limits inquiry into the alleged victim's "other sexual behavior." (This project became "The Lying Woman, The Devious Prostitute, and Other Stories from the Evidence Casebook,” 88 Northwestern Law Review 914 (1994).") If you taught Evidence, you'd have to go out of your way to avoid rape, and the books — highlighting the threat to the criminal defendant's rights — presented the women as liars. 

Professor Suk teaches Criminal Law (not Evidence), so the subject is less about who's telling the truth and more about the act and the state of mind that constitute a crime.  She reports that the teaching "environment" has changed in "the past couple of years" and students "seem more anxious... about approaching the law of sexual violence."
When I teach rape law... I focus on cases that test the limits of the rules.... We ask questions like: How should consent or non-consent be communicated? Should it matter whether the accused realized that the complainant felt coerced? What information about the accused and the complainant is relevant to whether or not they should be believed? How does social inequality inform how we evaluate whether a particular incident was a crime? I often assign students roles in which they have to argue a side—defense or prosecution—with which they might disagree.

These pedagogical tactics are common to almost every law-school topic and classroom. But asking students to challenge each other in discussions of rape law has become so difficult that teachers are starting to give up on the subject. 
Suk doesn't say whether she's had difficulty. She shifts from describing what sounds like her own stellar teaching to references to generic teachers who somehow just can't hack it anymore. Exactly what is happening in those classes? I'd like to hear something specific. Maybe those professors who are giving up never did a very good job with the topic, the students are speaking up about the professors' fumbling, and those professors jumping at the chance to skip the topic altogether.

When I went to law school, more than 30 years ago, the substantive criminal law class didn't focus on any particular crimes. We spent the whole semester on actus reus, mens rea, and a few defenses (like impossibility). There was a section of the book on particular crimes, and we might have dipped into murder and theft, but that was the kind of material you could learn quickly in your bar review course. It wasn't the meat of criminal law. I think if you go back and figure out the history, rape got into the criminal law course because law professors caved to the political argument that not to teach it was to say that it's not important.

That was never true, and if the activists demand that rape be taken out and the professors cave, they are, ironically, paradoxically, uncaving.

December 16, 2014

"It is quite unusual... Judge Schwab appears to have reached out quite aggressively to engage the lawfulness of the President’s actions" on immigration.

Says lawprof Jonathan Adler. And on the merits, he's "not persuaded":
[T]he executive branch has exercised a substantial degree of discretion in implementing and enforcing immigration law for decades.... It is true, as Judge Schwab notes, that the President’s announced policy identifies broad criteria for deferring removal of individuals unlawfully in the country. This would appear to make the action somewhat legislative, but I don’t think it’s enough to make the action unlawful.... It’s no more unconstitutional than a US attorney telling the prosecutors in his office not to prosecute low-level marijuana possession absent other factors that justify federal prosecution....

I'm germophobically squeamish about that photo with that headline.

Headline (at TNR): "Jeb Bush Just Flushed Marco Rubio's 2016 Hopes Down the Toilet." Photo: Jeb wiping his hand on Marco's hand.

Chris Hughes bought TNR and ousted the oldies and this is what we get? I find it unacceptably crude... and faintly racist.

"Congress quietly ends federal government's ban on medical marijuana."

"Now the fight moves on to legalization of all marijuana... This is the strongest signal we have received from Congress [that] the politics have really shifted.... Congress has been slow to catch up with the states and American people, but it is catching up."

At the Christmas Café...

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... you can talk about anything you want.

IN THE COMMENTS: EMD said: "I hope to God/Bhudda/Allah/Flying Spaghetti Monster that's a 'holiday" tree."

And I said: "It's a Christmas tree, and it even has a sign in front of it telling us it's a Christmas tree." Here, look:

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"I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States."

Jeb Bush revealed today, via Facebook.

Just this morning, I'd said (out loud, here at home) that Bush must run in 2016. If he's ever going to run, he needs to do it when Hillary Clinton is running, to fend off the not-another-Bush attacks.

Thanks...

... to all who've been doing their shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. I really appreciate the support you've shown for this blog.

"Hey! Somebody's from down south!"/"You’re right, I’m from down south. And I’m your MOTHER."


"This was not planned. She called in on the normal line."

150 years ago today: A union victory in the Battle of Nashville.



"The Battle of Nashville was a two-day battle in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign that represented the end of large-scale fighting in the Western Theater of the American Civil War."
Federal casualties in the battle were 387 killed, 2,562 wounded, and 112 missing. As only a few of the Confederate units submitted reports on the battle, Confederate casualties are difficult to ascertain. [Maj. Gen. George H.] Thomas reported capturing 4,561 prisoners in the battle itself, with an unknown number captured during the retreat. One historian made an educated guess that 2,500 Confederates were killed and wounded at Nashville....

The Battle of Nashville marked the effective end of the Army of Tennessee. Historian David Eicher remarked, "If [Lt. Gen. John Bell] Hood mortally wounded his army at Franklin, he would kill it two weeks later at Nashville." Although Hood blamed the entire debacle on his subordinates and the soldiers themselves, his career was over.....

"States start to crack down on parents 're-homing' their adopted kids."

"Among pet owners, 're-homing' an unwanted dog or cat is a relatively straightforward process...."

"We thought it must be the children playing some game. But then we saw a lot of firearms with them."

"As soon as the firing started, we ran to our classrooms. They were entering every class and they were killing the children... Then I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet... All the children had bullet wounds. All the children were bleeding...."

ADDED: "The Taliban has killed dozens of children at a Peshawar school in a revenge mission for Pakistani schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai being awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize."

AND: "They burnt a teacher in front of the students in a classroom.... They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch."

3 Pinocchios for Dick Cheney's assertion that we did not prosecute Japanese soldiers for waterboarding.

WaPo's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler says:
Cheney dismissed too cavalierly [Chuck] Todd’s question about the prosecution of Japanese soldiers for waterboarding. One could quibble about whether these practices were exactly like the techniques practiced by CIA interrogators. But Todd raised a legitimate question and, contrary to Cheney’s assertion, waterboarding was an important charge in a number of the lesser-profile cases. Moreover, waterboarding also resulted in at least one court martial during the Vietnam War.

"Why is Warren depicted as populist true believer and Cruz as a wacko bird?"

To ask the question is to make the point that needs to be made.

Beautiful job on that Google doodle for Wassily Kandinsky's 148th birthday.



The Guardian says:
Like symphonies, Kandinsky’s great abstract paintings speak directly to our senses and feelings. Their constellations of mysterious marks are like waves of sound that trigger emotions. For him, the world they pointed towards was a spiritual realm, a hidden truth.
The Telegraph says:
Despite the lack of medical proof for Kandinsky's synaesthesia, the correlation between sound and colour was a lifelong preoccupation for the artist. He recalled hearing a strange hissing noise when mixing colours in his paintbox as a child, and later became an accomplished cello player, which he said represented one of the deepest blues of all instruments.... Kandinsky discovered his synaesthesia at a performance of Wagner's opera Lohengrin in Moscow: "I saw all my colours in spirit, before my eyes. Wild, almost crazy lines were sketched in front of me."
The Independent:
Fifty seven of his paintings were confiscated by the Nazis during a raid on the Bauhaus art school and were later put on show in the State-sponsored exhibit “Degenerate Art” in 1937 before being destroyed.
I recommend Kandinsky's book "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" (free Kindle edition).

A surprisingly sympathetic article about the asserted right to decline to make cakes/floral arrangements/photographs for a same-sex wedding.

... in the NYT. There's also an excellent video — excellent other than a big on-screen misspelling ("accomodation") — about one very sincere and appealing cake decorator who was ordered by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission "to retrain all of his employees, who include his 87-year-old mother, and to produce a quarterly report detailing any refusals to bake." (It's not a refusal "to bake," I would emphasize, but a refusal to decorate. He's not refusing to bake cakes for gay people, if they want a cake without the message he believes God forbids him to express.)
“I do like doing the wedding cakes,” he said. “But I don’t like having the government tell me which ones I can make and which ones I can’t make, and trying to control that part of my life.”...

There have been more than a half-dozen other instances of business owners, most citing their understanding of Christian faith, declining to provide services for same-sex weddings....

[T]he defenders of the shop owners argue that creating an artistically involved or personalized service for a same-sex wedding is a form of expression that should not be compelled by the government. They reject the discrimination charge, noting that many of the businesses have gay and lesbian customers, and, in some cases, employees....

On a recent day, as Mr. Phillips decorated what he expected would be his final wedding cake until the issue was resolved — an elegant assemblage of gray and white tiers decorated with hydrangea, calla lilies and gerbera daisies — he reflected on his unexpected role in the debate. 
That description of the cake — and the sight of it in the video — has great persuasive effect, I think, on the minds of those who are most likely to resist the idea that some anti-gay-marriage baker has significant free speech rights. I suspect that many of the people on the anti-discrimination side of this argument were picturing a less elegant cake and a less thoughtful cake decorator.

I'm glad to see the NYT producing this article and video, especially after the way Linda Greenhouse treated the issue last spring, which I criticized here:
Bakers?! Isn't that like calling a fashion designer a seamstress? The "bakers" who are resisting government compulsion are wedding cake decorators. At some point, wedding cake decorating is an art, and maybe Linda Greenhouse thinks it's a low art, but please [look at some elegant wedding cakes]....

Where is the low and where is the high when it comes to expression deserving of freedom from government compulsion?...

... I'm stunned by Greenhouse's... phrase: "Despite its free-speech garb, the religious essence of Elane’s argument is clear...." This is horrifying, for at least 3 reasons: 1. The quick disparagement of expression rights as a flimsy coverup ("garb"). 2. The failure to recognize the interrelatedness of expression and religion — religion is expression and expression is often about or motivated by religion. (There's a reason free speech and freedom of religion were written into the same constitutional amendment.) 3. The most important speech is speech that has a core of deep and true belief, so if there's religious essence seeking protection under free-speech garb, the reasoning that begins with "Despite..." is garbage.

December 15, 2014

Lennon or McCartney?



(Via Metafilter.)

Why was I not informed that Eggagog returned after a long hiatus and took to tweeting in March 2013?

I was just saying I missed Eggagog. I was Eggagog's biggest fan (unless Eggagog had a bigger fan, which would have been a tad unbalanced of that other fan). I googled "Who was Eggagog?" and found the brief Twitter emergence and resubmergence of Eggagog.

It was a brief, shining moment in March 2013.

Why did this come up?, you may ask. The answer is: On today's post, Lake shore watch, The Cracker Emcee, looking at my photo of a synagogue, asked "Church, synagogue, or train station?" I said "Synagogue!" And Meade, reading that, said: "Synagogue? Eggagog!"

All I can say is: Molotov!

"I'm both grateful and happy that I was the only one there... but once I stepped out of the theater, all confused and dizzy..."

"... it could have been more intense if I had someone to share it with. In that way, I'm torn about the experience. It was incredibly intense then and there, but after the fact and forever after, I miss having someone to share it with," said the man who had his own private Bob Dylan concert (for a Swedish reality show in which someone does something alone that is almost always not done alone). I blogged about this last month, but now we have the video:

The U.S. has an ambassador at large for international religious freedom.

It's David N. Saperstein, a Jewish rabbi, confirmed by the Senate last Friday.

Lake shore watch.

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"In my observation, most rescuers are motivated by an anthropomorphic need to feel morally superior to the 'heartless' people who do not try to fix the unfixable..."

"... and by their own inability to make the difficult but necessary decision to euthanize dangerous animals. The results are uncounted animals like the dog in this story, medical and veterinary bills, and untold frustration, disappointment, and sorrow on the part of the final owners. Dogs, cats, and horses are domestic animals, shaped by millennia of selective breeding for temperament to overcome the aggression of their wild fore-bearers. Until the rise of the rescue movement, it was generally understood that the best way to acquire a pet was to take the time to go to a breeder whose first concern was temperament, and to acquire the pet at an age when it could be well-socialized top the family in which it would live out its life. Badly bred animals who were innately aggressive, or those which had been badly socialized were destroyed before they could hurt someone, and wisely so. People and other animals were safer and happier with one another, and aggressive animals did not reproduce, and did not live out what otherwise would have been their angry, fearful lives. That approach took a kind a maturity, discipline, and emotional strength that appears to be missing from the current rescue movement."

Comment at a NYT opinion piece called "The Wrong Dog."

"All who planned, all who implemented, all who carried out the torture should be criminally prosecuted. How else do we as a society express our outrage?"

"How else do we deter it in the future—except by criminal prosecutions?" said law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, recommending the prosecution of law professor John Yoo, who co-authored the Office of Legal Counsel memo that supported the interrogation techniques criticized as torture in Senate Intelligence Committee’s report.
The Federal Torture Act defines torture broadly, as “an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering…upon another person within his custody or physical control.”

Yoo [has written] “I believed that the federal law prohibiting torture allowed the CIA to use interrogation methods that did not cause injury—including, in extraordinary cases, waterboarding—because of the grave threat to the nation’s security in the months after the 9/11 attacks.” He added that he was “swayed by the fact” that he believed “the CIA would use the technique only on top Al Qaeda leaders thought to have actionable information on pending plots.”
I'm not a criminal law expert, so help me out here. This issue is specific intent, right?

Dead Hollywood.

An appealing memorial to those who crossed over to the other side this year:



Via Throwing Things where there's one comment: "TCM totally made the right call on their choice for the final slot. My mind just went directly to James Garner." But James Garner is second to the last, not the last. And the person shown last is the right call. And it's not Robin Williams or Philip Seymour Hoffman.

"Honey, I just think it speaks volumes about you, about what a real creature of the theater you are that the only time that you ever had an orgasm..."

"... was saying the words of a homosexual man. It was as far from a heterosexual orgasm as you could possibly get."

Said Alec Baldwin to Elaine Stritch after she described having "an orgasm for the first time in my life" on stage in a very emotional moment of Edward Albee's play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" ("You know, that big scene? ‘Our son,’ he yells in my face, ‘is dead.’ And I went ‘No!’ At the height of my force, I said no to him.")

That's in the transcript of the May 13, 2013 episode of Baldwin's podcast "Here's The Thing." Here's the audio, with Stritch doing a very dramatic yelling of "Nooooo!" She was 88 at the time, suffering from diabetes, and a year and a month away from her death.

Autocorrect of the day.

I was putting one of my fog-walk photos on Facebook...

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... and — prompted to write something about it — I began "Yesterday, on the foggy shore..." and got autocorrected to "foggy whore."

Dick Cheney went on "Meet the Press" yesterday to talk tough, and he was rock solid, unshakable.

Chuck Todd stayed with him a long time. Please read the whole transcript to get the effect I'm describing. I'll excerpt one thing:
CHUCK TODD: Let me go through some of those techniques that were used, Majid Khan, was subjected to involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration. It included two bottles of Ensure, later in the same day Majid Khan's lunch tray consisting of hummus, pasta, sauce, nuts and raisins was pureed and rectally infused.... Does that meet the definition of torture?...

DICK CHENEY: --in my mind, I've told you what meets the definition of torture. It's what 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11. What was done here apparently certainly was not one of the techniques that was approved. I believe it was done for medical reasons.

CHUCK TODD: I mean, medical community has said there is no medical...

DICK CHENEY: If you go and look, for example, at Jose Rodriguez book, and he was the guy running the program, he's got a very clear description of how, in fact, the program operated.. that was not something that was done as part of the interrogation program.

CHUCK TODD: But you won't call it torture?

DICK CHENEY: It wasn't torture in terms of it wasn't part of the program.
Is there no medical basis for rectal feeding and hydration? Obviously, the answer to that question does not establish whether it was chosen for other reasons, but if it has no medical purpose — or at least if it couldn't be thought to have a medical purpose — then it must necessarily have been chosen for nonmedical purposes. Here's a Bloomberg article on the subject:
Rectal feeding or hydration, known as proctoclysis, has been performed for centuries. It is rarely done now, though a 1998 report found water or saline given rectally was safe and effective for terminally ill cancer patients.

The first reports, on papyrus going back 3,500 years, show ancient Egyptians used reeds and animal bladders to infuse liquids like wine and milk into the rectum for a variety of ailments, according to a blog post by Eric Aadhaar O’Gorman, the author of “Complete Tubefeeding.” Perhaps the most famous patient was U.S. President James Garfield, who was fed whiskey and broth rectally after being shot since his doctors restricted what he could eat.
From O'Gorman's post (written in 2012, without any attention to the ulterior purpose of torturing, tormenting, or coercing a prisoner):
Rectal feeding does (thankfully) seem finally to have gone out of fashion although I am told that some medical students these days, upon learning of things like James Garfield's ordeals discover all over again that colonic absorption is a very fast way to get drunk. Apparently. Don't try it though, OK?
ADDED: In calling Cheney "rock solid, unshakable," I'm not vouching for the correctness of his position. I am simply observing that he came on the show with a message to deliver, and he stuck to it in a staunch and stalwart manner. Todd had a different template, which he kept trying to impose, and Cheney wouldn't budge.

"[A] lone gunman would have difficulty sustaining the siege for long, monitoring a large group of hostages without eventually needing sleep."

"And reports that the hostage taker had requested an Islamic State flag suggested poor planning. 'That strikes me as an ego-driven personal demand rather than something you might expect from a terrorist group.'... [T]he hostage taker seemed likely to be either 'a lone wolf sympathetic to the issues of the Islamic State and the goal of jihad more generally' or a case of 'psychopathology in search of a cause.'"

Says University of Wollongong Professor Adam Dolnik, who studies terrorism.

ADDED: The hostage-taker has been identified as Sheikh Man Haron Monis. He already has a Wikipedia article:
"Hate mail" campaign. Haron, together with his colleague Amirah Droudis, undertook a campaign protesting the presence of Australian troops in Afghanistan, by writing letters to the families of soldiers killed there, in which he called the soldiers murderers...

Murder case. On 15 November 2013, Haron was charged by NSW Police with being an accessory before and after the fact to the murder of Noleen Hayson Pal, allegedly stabbed and set alight in a Werrington apartment stairwell on 21 April 2013. His partner Amirah Droudis, was formally charged with Pal's murder. Pal was Haron's ex-wife.... On 22 January 2014, Haron... He told the court he has been charged in connection to the murder of his ex-wife because ASIO is conspiring against him to have him jailed... Haron stood outside the Parramatta Local Court wearing chains and holding a sign claiming he has been tortured in jail. He said: "This is not a criminal case. This is a political case."

Sexual assault case. On 14 March 2014, Haron was arrested and charged with sexually and indecently assaulting a young woman who went to his consultancy in Wentworthville, New South Wales for "spiritual healing", after seeing an advertisement in a local newspaper. Haron claimed he was an expert in "astrology, numerology, meditation and black magic" services.
AND: "An Iranian-born gunman and one of his hostages were reportedly shot dead in a chaotic firefight as police stormed the Sydney cafe to end the terrorist siege."

December 14, 2014

The Christmas scene at the Wisconsin Capitol today.



We were on a downtown fog-walk and stopped in to see the Christmas tree. There were carolers singing, and a rather interesting array of religious and anti-religious displays.

I had a religious experience there myself. I was scampering down the stairs as the carolers were singing "O Holy Night," and 2 steps from the bottom, I thought I'd reached the floor and took a misstep that caused me to fall on my knees exactly at the line "Fall on your knees!"

ADDED: The tree was decorated with ornaments made by school children. The assigned theme was: honoring Wisconsin veterans:

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50 years ago today: The Supreme Court upheld Congress's Commerce Clause power to ban race discrimination in places of public accommodation.

In Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States:
[The record in both houses of Congress in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964] is replete with evidence of the burdens that discrimination by race or color places upon interstate commerce.... This testimony included the fact that our people have become increasingly mobile, with millions of people of all races traveling from State to State; that Negroes in particular have been the subject of discrimination in transient accommodations, having to travel great distances to secure the same; that often they have been unable to obtain accommodations, and have had to call upon friends to put them up overnight, and that these conditions had become so acute as to require the listing of available lodging for Negroes in a special guidebook which was itself "dramatic testimony to the difficulties" Negroes encounter in travel. These exclusionary practices were found to be nationwide, the Under Secretary of Commerce testifying that there is "no question that this discrimination in the North still exists to a large degree" and in the West and Midwest as well. This testimony indicated a qualitative, as well as quantitative, effect on interstate travel by Negroes. The former was the obvious impairment of the Negro traveler's pleasure and convenience that resulted when he continually was uncertain of finding lodging. As for the latter, there was evidence that this uncertainty stemming from racial discrimination had the effect of discouraging travel on the part of a substantial portion of the Negro community...

Fog-walked out of Meadhouse.

Up to Blue Mounds, that monadnock...

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We had our trekking poles and our Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction Systems, so we made it through 7 miles of rocky terrain before the absurdly early nightfall that plagues Wisconsin around the time of the winter solstice.

We went out precisely because it was foggy. I wanted to see the woods in the fog. There's nothing prettier, if you adjust your aesthetic and keep an eye out for pops of color and design:

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"Cereal Killer is just one of the latest in a growing trend of quirk-centric cafes opening across the city..."

"... like the first cat café, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, which opened in Shoreditch [London] earlier this year."
The tiny venue plays up to its name with portraits of famous fictional serial killers Hannibal and Dexter made entirely of cereal (and that are also available for purchase). A selection of campy 90s pop songs and cult TV theme tunes play in the background as patrons choose their favorite childhood cereal or decide to try something completely new. I opted for Kellogg’s Cinnabon with a carafe of strawberry milk, while my friends chose cereal cocktails of strange continental “strawberry pops” and Reeses Puffs that were sickly sweet. Other options on the vast menu include South Korean Oreos cereal that is apparently one of the biggest sellers, a Barbie cereal that promises a chance to win a real diamond, and a Y2K-themed cheerios called Millennios.

"Elizabeth Warren is catching fire."

Headline at Politico.

"Yes, beer names based on penis jokes do exist. But these represent men making fun of themselves..."

"... rather than being objectified by women. I'm sorry to say that the still-glaring under-representation of women in the craft beer industry (not to mention millennia of systematic oppression and patriarchy) will require more than a few names like 'Morning Wood' labels to iron out this issue."

"How come I know you don’t write anything you don’t want broadcast in an email? How come I know that? Who’s advising people?"

Said the actress Lisa Kudrow, commenting on the leaked emails of Sony executives (in which, for example, Leonardo DiCaprio was called "despicable").
"It doesn't matter how many times [an email] says 'This is confidential, meant for just between the sender and the recipient,'" [Kudrow] said. "Why don't we know that there are no rules? Everything is broadcast and published. That's the part I just don't understand."

That tough reality has made Kudrow extremely cautious of what she says.

"I mean, I have almost no opinions anymore," she joked.
Kudrow asks a good question — and she seems to imply that the answer is that these executives were embarrassingly ignorant and out of touch with modern life. But there could be other explanations. I thought of two:

1. Email is an efficient way to conduct business, but only when the speech is sharp and clear and cuts through all the crap. The successful executives are the ones who can communicate like this, and for them, at least until now, it has been worth the risk. Email couched in pleasantries and euphemisms would waste everyone's time and make you look insufficiently hard-assed. The risk of leakage was far outweighed by the potential to succeed, and those who weigh the risk otherwise don't get to these positions of power in the first place. It's fine for an actress to cultivate her niceness image, but she's got a entirely different kind of career. And having "almost no opinions" is a good low-risk strategy for her.

2. The Hollywood executives actually don't mind if these opinions leak out. They won't come forward now and own up to actually thinking Leonardo DiCaprio was "despicable" to withdraw from whatever commitment he made to play the role of Steve Jobs in another Steve Jobs biopic or that Angelina Jolie, who was bothering them somehow over another biopic of Cleopatra, is "a minimally talent spoiled brat." Pressuring/controlling/manipulating celebrities is what these executives need to do, and creating anxieties about whether they will get their projects funded or will get work in the future is part of how they play their game. Maybe the executives want Leo and Angie and the others to know that the executives expect better compliance.

I'm not saying I'm sure either or both of those things are true. I'm just playing with alternate scenarios and trying to open up the discussion.

Lynching effigies don't make good anti-racism protest art.

Unattended displays like this don't work.
"The anonymity connected to that expression, whether it was by antagonists or allies, contributes to the racial terror that black people have to face in the country. We find it radically insensitive at best and a re-inscription of racial terror...."
That's in Berkeley. There was something similar in Madison recently, blogged here.

Mugshot of innocence.



"Alabama educator cleared after student recants sex charges/Catherine Bell, 34, was suspended from her job as an assistant principal at Pelham High School and resigned under pressure following the scandalous accusations."

Cheers.



(Via.)

"Across America, whites are biased and they don’t even know it."

Writes Chris Mooney in the #3 "most-read" article in The Washington Post.
[I]mplicit biases... are measured by... the computerized Implicit Association Test, which has been taken by over two million people online at the website Project Implicit...  people who, for some reason, chose to take an online test measuring their implicit biases....

Overall, looking at a map like this one tells us something pretty crucial to our understanding of racial bias: It is everywhere....

We have a huge amount of work to do.
The #1 most-liked comment at WaPo is:
Are you serious? An online test of "people who, for some reason, chose to take an online test measuring their implicit biases"? Do you even know if they entire sample set was white? If not, then you can just throw this nonsense out. And why just test white bias? As noted below, everyone has some bias.

Garbage. This test, this article, and this newspaper. Thanks Bezos.
To that comment, somebody says: "Only guilty people get defensive. It's pretty obvious who knows they are racially biased by who gets upset about articles like this."