January 17, 2015

"Under President Obama, the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty than ever before."

Mitt Romney makes income inequality his issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Necessary rebranding for Mr. 47%.

At the Big Colors Café...


... we need more color on January 17th!

That's an old picture, from August 2009, but it cheered me up just now, as I was doing some unnecessarily somber searching through the blog archive (for the phrase "he died doing what he loved," a topic in the comments thread on the first post this morning).

Anyway, in the winter, it's hard to keep up a stream of new photographs. Even when it's a bit warmer — as it has been these last few days — it's still awfully dim and gray most of the time. Meade found a few rays of light over at the dog park last Thursday. I thought Lucy looked pretty grand, seeking out the sunshine:


Anyway, this is a "café" post, so talk about whatever you want.

"When a homophobic preacher began spewing his hateful rantings on an M train this week...

"... one subway rider blessed with the voice of an angel decided to take matters into his own hands and shut him up...."

"An Oklahoma inmate executed amid a legal challenge over lethal injection began complaining about the effects on his body before the drugs were administered..."

"... prompting some to question whether he may have exaggerated his symptoms to help his fellow death row inmates' case."
Charles Warner, who was executed Thursday for the killing of an 11-month-old girl in 1997, said during his last words: 'It feels like acid.' The comment came before any of the lethal drugs were administered and while he was only receiving a saline drip through an intravenous line....

Warner was the first person put to death in Oklahoma since a botched execution in April that left Curt Lockett gasping for air and writhing in pain for 43 minutes. The procedure drew national attention to the drugs used in lethal injections.

On Thursday, after the first drug, a sedative, was administered, Warner again complained: 'My body is on fire.'

"Not only does this postponement... expose the utter brutality of this punishment, it underlines its outrageous inhumanity."

"The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous."

ADDED: That case, from Saudi Arabia, made me think about what Justice Scalia has said about flogging in the United States:
You’ve described yourself as a fainthearted originalist. But really, how fainthearted?

I described myself as that a long time ago. I repudiate that.

So you’re a stouthearted one. 

I try to be. I try to be an honest originalist! I will take the bitter with the sweet! What I used “fainthearted” in reference to was—

Flogging, right? 

Flogging. And what I would say now is, yes, if a state enacted a law permitting flogging, it is immensely stupid, but it is not unconstitutional. A lot of stuff that’s stupid is not unconstitutional. I gave a talk once where I said they ought to pass out to all federal judges a stamp, and the stamp says—Whack! [Pounds his fist.]—STUPID BUT ­CONSTITUTIONAL. Whack! [Pounds again.] STUPID BUT ­CONSTITUTIONAL! Whack! ­STUPID BUT ­CONSTITUTIONAL … [Laughs.] And then somebody sent me one.

"For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families..."

"... according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation...."
Schools, already under intense pressure to deliver better test results and meet more rigorous standards, face the doubly difficult task of trying to raise the achievement of poor children so that they approach the same level as their more affluent peers....

Many Republicans also think that the government ought to give tax dollars to low-income families to use as vouchers for private-school tuition, believing that is a better alternative to public schools....

The report comes as Congress begins debate about rewriting the country’s main federal education law, first passed as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and designed to help states educate poor children.

"Was Times ‘Disgusting’ to Grant Anonymity to Al Qaeda Source?"

NYT "public" editor responds to FBI director James B. Comey.

Man dies in the middle of a days-long internet-gaming binge.

"Hsieh was a regular customer here and always played for consecutive days. When tired, he would sleep face-down on the table or doze off slumped in his chair. That is why we were not aware of his condition in the beginning."

My post title reflects a problem I have with the headline at the link: "Man dies after three-day internet gaming binge."

January 16, 2015

"Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred."

"Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs."

Good! (Second thing I've read about Holder today that made me write "Good!" (Here's the first.))

"Right after the French Revolution, France abrogated its old laws making blasphemy a crime—and so Charlie Hebdo’s blasphemous depictions of Muhammad are not a crime."

"At the same time, France’s press laws, which date to the late nineteenth century, make it a crime to 'provoke discrimination, hatred, or violence toward a person or group of persons because of their origin or belonging to a particular ethnicity, nation, race, or religion.' In other words, you can ridicule the prophet, but you cannot incite hatred toward his followers. To take two more examples, the actress Brigitte Bardot was convicted and fined for having written, in 2006, about France’s Muslims, 'We are tired of being led around by the nose by this population that is destroying our country.' Meanwhile, the writer Michel Houellebecq (whose new novel was featured in the issue of Charlie Hebdo that came out just before the attack) was brought up on charges, but acquitted, for having said in an interview that Islam 'is the stupidest religion.' Bardot was clearly directing hostility toward Muslim people, and was thus found guilty, while Houellebecq was criticizing their religion, which is blasphemous, but not a crime, in France."

From the New Yorker article "Why French Law Treats Dieudonné and Charlie Hebdo Differently."

"Barry Blitt drew next week’s cover, inspired by the photographs of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that are everywhere again."

"'It struck me that King’s vision was both the empowerment of African-Americans, the insistence on civil rights, but also the reconciliation of people who seemed so hard to reconcile,' he said. 'In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things. Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early. It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.'"

The Green Bay Packers are "completely addicted" to the board game "The Settlers of Catan."

The Wall Street Journal reports:
The number of players that have devoted a long night to the game is in the double-digits—including most of the team’s starting offensive line, among others.... The game’s object is to build settlements on the board using “resource” cards. Think of it as a fantasy version of Monopoly. “At first we’re like, ‘What the hell is this? Brick? Wool? What kind of game is this?’” said starting center Corey Linsley....

“Everyone is super competitive, so when you first start playing they don’t tell you all the rules. So you start your moves and they say ‘well, actually you can’t do that’ and it sort of screws you in the game,” [Packers center Garth Gerhart] said. “They get very salty.”...

The game’s popularity among the Packers is due in part to the lack of other things to do in town. Green Bay is the smallest town in the NFL. “We’re always looking for something to do, it’s cold. No one wants to go outside, better find something,” Flynn said. “And this is a great game.”
You can buy the game at Amazon, here.

The Supreme Court takes the same-sex marriage cases.

SCOTUSblog reports:
The Court said it would rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state. A total of two-and-a-half hours was allocated for the hearings, likely in the April sitting. A final ruling is expected by early next summer, probably in late June.
ADDED: This simultaneously boring and exciting. It might be the most exciting boring thing or the most boring exciting thing I've ever seen the Court do.

AND: "In a statement issued on Friday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department will file a friend-of-the-court brief calling for gay and lesbian Americans across the country to be able to marry." Good!

It's really painful to wince for 3 and a half minutes, but I'm afraid you must look at this.

"Secretary of State John Kerry is in Paris after the White House apologized for not sending a high-ranking official to a massive unity rally after the terrorist attacks there," and he's using James Taylor to convey the message "You've Got a Friend."

I love James Taylor, so this is really difficult for me. But of all the douchebaggery in the history of the world... this takes the gateau!

AND: I felt compelled to write some parody lyrics, but then I heard Meade typing away. "Are you writing parody lyrics?" I ask. More typing. Meade: "First!" I see he's written:
I'll come running
to appease you again
Is parody even needed:
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.
I'm overwhelmed by the absurdity of the idea that on one's darkest nights, it would help to visualize John Kerry.
Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
They'll take your soul if you let them,
Oh, but don't you let them.
Indeed. Kerry was cold. Don't let him take your soul! Is that what our dear James was thinking as he sang those holy words with his honestly bald head so steadfastly bowed down?

ADDED: James Taylor has helped Obama before. There was this from October 2012:

Can't you just feel the moonshine?

The boy came back to say that he didn't come back.

He took it all back.
"I did not die. I did not go to Heaven... Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short…. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention...."
 (And yes, as was always there in plain sight, the boy and his father's name is: Malarkey.)

ADDED: From the OED entry for "malarkey":
Etymology: Origin unknown.

A surname Mullarkey , of Irish origin, exists, but no connection is known between any person of that name and this word. Another suggested etymology is from modern Greek μαλακός soft, or its derivative μαλακία , in fig. use (see malacia n.).
From the OED entry for "malacia":
Etymology: In sense 1 < classical Latin malacia a disorder of the stomach, especially as experienced by pregnant women (glossed by Oxf. Lat. Dict. as ‘sickness, nausea’ but interpreted by earlier authors as denoting a craving for unusual or unnatural foods) < ancient Greek μαλακία softness, homosexual desire, sickness < μαλακός soft (see malaco- comb. form) + -ία -ia suffix1. 

"The French authorities are moving aggressively to rein in speech supporting terrorism..."

"... employing a new law to mete out tough prison sentences in a crackdown that is stoking a free-speech debate after last week’s attacks in Paris. Those swept up under the new law include a 28-year-old man of French-Tunisian background who was sentenced to six months in prison after he was found guilty of shouting support for the attackers as he passed a police station in Bourgoin-Jalieu on Sunday. A 34-year-old man who on Saturday hit a car while drunk, injured the other driver and subsequently praised the acts of the gunmen when the police detained him was sentenced Monday to four years in prison. All told, up to 100 people are under investigation for making or posting comments that support or try to justify terrorism..."

The NYT reports. 

(Photograph at the link shows the coffin of one of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre: It has cartoons drawn all over it.)

Mark Zuckerberg's book club isn't working out too well.

"See, when Zuckerberg actually hosted the first book club 'meeting' — a Facebook Q&A yesterday with the book’s author, Moises Naím — he faced a problem familiar to far more plebeian bookclubs: Hardly anybody showed up. (And of those who did, few had actually read the book.)"
“We’re kicking off our Q&A now with Moisés Naím, author of The End of Power,” advised whatever poor Facebook employee runs the “Year of Books” community page. “As a reminder, please keep all questions and comments relevant to the book.”

Among the 137 “questions” that followed: several requests for a pirated PDF of the book, a conspiracy theory involving Saudi social media and the price of oil and a photo of a Maltese wearing a frilly dress, along with many more on-topic, but still fairly stupid, questions.

The Pope needs no telephone.

A great comic juxtaposition by Drudge:

After the massacre, Mark Zuckerberg justifies Facebook censorship.

"It wasn’t just a terrorist attack about just trying to do some damage and make people afraid and hurt people. This was specifically about people’s freedom of expression and ability to say what they want."
“That really gets to the core of what Facebook and the internet are, I think, and what we’re all here to do. We really stand up and try to make it so that everyone can have as much of a voice as possible,” he said.
The sleight of hand is: the greatest good for the greatest number. For "everyone" to have "as much" freedom of expression "as possible," some people need some silencing.
“There are limits and restrictions on these things, but across the board we generally are always trying to fight to help as many people as possible share as much as they want."
Again — "as many as possible" and "as much as they want" — this is the idea of the sum total of speech, shared by large numbers.

Vox is pleased at getting over 500,000 page views for re-posting a bunch of old stories.

"In a five-day period, we ran 88 of these [2+-month-old] stories, and collectively they brought in over 500,000 readers. That was great to see... "
What was interesting — though not completely unexpected — was that no one even seemed to notice that we were flooding the site with previously published content. A lot of the articles were enthusiastically shared by people who had shared them the first time around, too. No one seemed gripped by a sense of deja vu, or, if they were, they didn't mention it.
Vox is so pleased that they're adopting a policy of re-running old stories as if they weren't old, to give them another chance to win traffic. Here's the spin on why this is a good — as opposed to lame and lazy — policy:
On the modern web, content tends to arrive via miscellaneous streams rather than coherent chunks. So the meaning of strict chronology is breaking down regardless of what publishers do. If we can use our archives as a way to deliver more great pieces to today's audiences, then that's a huge win — for us and for them.
Let me re-spin that in the opposite direction: The internet is completely incoherent anyway, and nobody's going to notice, so why shouldn't we take advantage of this strategy?

Question: Why call attention to the strategy? Answer: To immunize themselves from criticism if anyone ever notices and cares. Or: Because they actually do think they're very clever and deserve credit for this journalistic efficiency.

The Menopause of the "Monologues."

"The Vagina Monologues" is — at long last — not a fertile text.

Young people have moved on and need to write their own plays, express their own ideas. They should feel free to steal the secret of the structure of Eve Ensler's play: 1. a set consisting of nothing but stools (it's cheap, actors conserve energy, and there's none of that crossing about the stage that requires directing and rehearsal), 2. lines read from index cards (so no one has to memorize lines or even pretend that they're not just reading), and 3. a series of monologues (so the actors just take turns instead of having to relate to each other, and the audience is distracted from the absence of a story arc).

When I wake up in the morning, I look at Memeorandum to get up to speed on what stories everyone's blogging about, and I see this one about Mount Holyoke ending its annual V-Day production of "The Vagina Monologues" because — as one blogger has put it — "it's not feminist enough," and I think: 1.  This is the ready-made bloggable story of the day (the story that prompts commenters to profess incredulity about its not yet having been blogged, so that I feel dogged into blogging it to keep you from thinking I'm out of touch), 2. The usual anti-feminist crowd is going to blog this the wrong way (so even though I could resist the pressure to blog it because it's the bloggable story of the day, it feels like my job to push back the inevitable misblogging), and 3. "The Vagina Monologues" was ALWAYS a bad play (certainly undeserving of annual productions everywhere, so congratulations to the young people who finally got the guts to say NO).

January 15, 2015

"Parents investigated for neglect after letting kids walk home alone."

The distance: 1 mile. The place: Silver Spring. The children: a 10-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. The parents:  a climate-science consultant and a physicist at the National Institutes of Health.
The Meitivs say that on Dec. 20, a CPS worker required Alexander to sign a safety plan pledging he would not leave his children unsupervised until the following Monday, when CPS would follow up. At first he refused, saying he needed to talk to a lawyer, his wife said, but changed his mind when he was told his children would be removed if he did not comply.

Google gives up on Glass.

"Google has tried to present this announcement as just another step in the evolution of an amazing innovation. But make no mistake - Google Glass is dead, at least in its present form."
As I found when I spent a couple of months wearing Glass, it has a number of really useful aspects - in particular the camera. There is however one huge disadvantage - it makes its users look daft, and that meant that it was never going to appeal to a wide audience.

"maybe this is what happens when you spend too much time with a movie: you start thinking about it when it’s not around, and then you start wanting to touch it."

"i’ve been watching 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY regularly for four decades, but it wasn’t until a few years ago i started thinking about touching it, and then over the holidays i decided to make my move. why now? I don’t know. maybe i wasn’t old enough to touch it until now. maybe i was too scared to touch it until now, because not only does the film not need my — or anyone else’s — help, but if it’s not THE most impressively imagined and sustained piece of visual art created in the 20th century, then it’s tied for first. meaning IF i was finally going to touch it, i’d better have a bigger idea than just trimming or re-scoring...."

Writes Steven Soderbergh, and if you go to that link, you can watch his re-edit of "2001."

There's still not enough snow for skiing, and we do have those ice skates we bought 4 years ago...

... that year when Lake Mendota froze into black ice.

But now I'm a little afraid to go out on the ice. And yet, if we don't skate today — it's finally sunny and it's a warm 32° — I'm never going to skate again. Completely insecure, I accomplished my goal: some forward motion and no falling.

"I am glad that the subject of figure training is under consideration, because so much nonsense is talked on the subject of tight-lacing."

"The fun of it is, all the condemnation comes from those who don't wear stays, either from men or from women with hobbies and without waists. All who have tried tight-lacing speak approvingly of it. I would not give up my well-made, tight fitting stays for anything. The sensation of being laced in tight is an enjoyable one that only those who have experienced it can understand. I have been in corsets ever since I was eight years of age, and I am now past my teens, and though I am five feet four inches tall and broad in the shoulders, I only measure nineteen inches, and I am in capital health."

That's a letter published by The Toronto Daily Mail on May 5, 1883, quoted in the long Wikipedia article titled "Corset controversy," where I ended up following my idiosyncratic train of thought after reading the Instapundit-linked NYT article "Can Compression Clothing Enhance Your Workout?" ("The clothes also are thought to refine proprioception, which is someone’s sense of how the body is positioned in space [and are] also... believed to reduce fatigue and soreness after exercise by literally squeezing the muscles with a kind of no-hands massage and, by increasing blood flow to muscles, help to flush out unwanted exercise-related biochemicals.")

The reason I was moved to blog this — other than my delight at the sheer length of the "Corset controversy" article — was that phrase "women with hobbies and without waists."

50 years ago today: LBJ and MLK talked on the telephone... "I don't want to follow Hitler, but he had a... he had a idea..."

Transcript and audio here. Excerpt:
LBJ: We want equality for all, and we can stand on that principle. But I think that you can contribute a great deal by getting your leaders and you yourself, taking very simple examples of discrimination where a man's got to memorize [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow or whether he's got to quote the first 10 Amendments or he's got to tell you what amendment 15 and 16 and 17 is, and then ask them if they know and show what happens. And some people don't have to do that. But when a Negro comes in, he's got to do it. And we can just repeat and repeat and repeat. I don't want to follow [Adolph] Hitler, but he had a--he had a[n] idea...

MLK: Yeah.

LJB: ...that if you just take a simple thing and repeat it often enough, even if it wasn't true, why, people accept it. Well, now, this is true, and if you can find the worst condition that you run into in Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana, or South Carolina, where... well, I think one of the worst I ever heard of is the president of the school at Tuskegee or the head of the government department there or something being denied the right to a cast a vote. And if you just take that one illustration and get it on radio and get it on television and get it in the pulpits, get it in the meetings, get it every place you can, pretty soon the fellow that didn't do anything but follow... drive a tractor, he's say, "Well, that's not right. That's not fair."

MLK: Yes.

LJB:  And then that will help us on what we're going to shove through in the end.

MLK: Yes. You're exactly right about that.

LJB:  And if we do that, we'll break through as--it'll be the greatest breakthrough of anything, not even excepting this [19]64 [Civil Rights] Act. I think the greatest achievement of my administration....

Who said "If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch"?

Pope Francis!

What about turn the other cheek?!

That's from "Pope on Charlie Hebdo: There are limits to free expression."
Francis, who has urged Muslim leaders in particular to speak out against Islamic extremism, went a step further when asked by a French journalist about whether there were limits when freedom of expression meets freedom of religion. Francis insisted that it was an "aberration" to kill in the name of God and said religion can never be used to justify violence.
Unless you insult his mother?
"There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others," he said. "They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit."
Dr. Gasparri was just the man standing next to him. This isn't specifically about  Gasparri. It's the Pope saying free-speakers, insulting religion, are asking for it.

The Pope came very close to saying that the threat of violence is a good enforcer of the limits that he wants to see enforced.

ADDED: That's Regina Maria Sivori — front and center...

... in case you've got something smart to say and want to make Francis stop this Popemobile and come back there.

"At The Oscar Nominations, It's A Good Year To Be An Idiosyncratic Man."

The headline, at NPR, for analysis by Linda Holmes. You have to scroll down to get to the part I was googling to find:
Even for the Oscars — even for the Oscars — this is a really, really lot of white people. Every nominated actor in Lead and Supporting categories — 20 actors in all — is white.
The actor nominees are all white people! You'd think that — at least for show — they'd have felt compelled to nominate the man who went to all that trouble to impersonate Martin Luther King Jr. (in "Selma"). That took effort. You have to really want a whites-only slate to exclude him. (His name, which everyone is now free — at last! — to forget, is David Oyelowo.)

But I'd also noticed how very male-centered the nominated movies are. Holmes says:
• Every nominated director is male. Every nominated screenwriter is male.

• ... Every Best Picture nominee here is predominantly about a man or a couple of men, and seven of the eight are about white men, several of whom have similar sort of "complicated genius" profiles, whether they're real or fictional....
So... "It's A Good Year To Be An Idiosyncratic Man"... but shouldn't it be "It's An Especially Good Year To Be An Idiosyncratic Man"? Movies about an idiosyncratic man are the norm and have been for a long time. Think of all the trailers that begin "In a world where... one man..." Here are "The 10 best 'In a world...' movie trailers."

You'd think Martin Luther King Jr. would fit right in as that one man in a world.

But no. From Oscar's point of view, 2014 was An Especially Good Year To Be An Idiosyncratic White Man.

ADDED: Oscar's answer is: Hey, we did "12 Years a Slave" last year! Wasn't that enough for you?! That is, basically the same argument as: Hey, we elected a black President! Can we stop talking about race now? The answer, even for Hollywood, is: no.

"'Dick Poop' was nominated for an Oscar."

"Sorry, Cheryl, Twitter heard everything."

The view from Drudge: Chaos!

The link goes to an AP story about how it will be hard for the IRS to get to the phone because: "Congress cut the IRS by $346 million for the budget year that ends Sept. 30. [IRS Commissioner John Koskinen] says the agency's $10.9 billion budget is its lowest since 2008. When adjusted for inflation, the budget hasn't been this low since 1998, he said."

So... the usual bellyaching about not getting enough money. The IRS has a lot of nerve to whine about its $10.9 billion while grabbing our last few measly thousands, which we'd like to keep to use to pad our own little budgets.
Koskinen said the IRS has increased efforts to educate tax preparers and the public about the tax implications of the health law, devoting a section of the agency's website to answering questions. Koskinen's advice to taxpayers with questions: Don't call the IRS unless you absolutely have to.
To be fair, the telephone really is an outdated mode of communication. Who, struggling with taxes these days, thinks it will help to call the IRS on the phone? 

"I know such English that I will leave the British behind. You see sir, I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, I can run English, because English is such a funny language."

"English Phrases Used Only By Indians Which The World Knows Nothing About."

In 2012, Mitt Romney was nominated on August 27th. In 2016, Mitt Romney is going to be nominated on July 20th.

The GOP has decided to do the convention more than a month earlier this time around.
“A convention in July is a historic success for our party and future nominee,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “The convention will be held significantly earlier than previous election cycles, allowing access to crucial general election funds earlier than ever before to give our nominee a strong advantage heading into Election Day.”
So, it's all about the money — not about speeding up the selection process? We always know by July who the candidate is. (Finding out who's the VP choice might be in play.) The convention is a theatrical event and it's good to stage it when it will have the best impact, but who watches live TV anymore and are they more amenable to staring at the tube in July than in August? I'll assume it's mostly about money, but perhaps it's a bit about theater.

Did you like my little theater... in the post title?

Oscar nominations about to happen. Watch live here! OSCAR SHOCK: Only white actors nominated!

I would not have noticed, but my younger son IM'd me — at 7:20 a.m., which seemed odd.

ADDED: I took out the live-stream embed, because it's over. You can read the lists of nominees here.

My off-hand observations: Sniper killed. Selma snubbed. Everything looks super male-character-centered. And: Laura Dern!!!

ALSO: The acting nominees are all white people. This, in a year with "Selma."

AND: I have more to say about the race and gender politics here.

January 14, 2015

"El Capitan’s Dawn Wall Climbers Reach Top at Yosemite."

When the men reached the top, they were greeted by a crowd of 70 and enjoyed Champagne and fried chicken.

Should we — can we — ban selective abortion?

Over at Slate, Amanda Marcotte is writing about a bill in the Indiana legislature that would ban abortion motivated by the disability including "a mental disability or retardation; a physical disfigurement; Scoliosis; Dwarfism; Down syndrome; Albinism; Amelia; and physical or mental disease."
Bills banning sex-selective abortions are trendy among the anti-choice set because, while those abortions aren't actually common in real life, it's politically expedient to traffic in ugly stereotypes of daughter-hating Asian immigrants.... Banning the non-existent problem of sex-selective abortion is an easy way to grandstand and score "pro-life" points while preening about how pro-woman you are. But banning abortions for fetal abnormalities could negatively affect all sorts of women—and their husbands—including those that tend to vote Republican.
Such ugliness to that rhetoric! This is such a sad subject, from either side. Show some empathy! Show some soul! 

"People have to realize, we try cases in the real world. We take our witnesses as we find them."

"We did not pick Jay to be Adnan’s accomplice. Adnan picked Jay. Remember, Jay committed a crime here. He was an accomplice after the fact in a murder. A very serious crime. And there is almost always during a trial when you’re dealing with people out of a criminal milieu, that they have a lot of things they don’t want to talk about.... Like I said, people who are engaged in criminal activity, it’s like peeling an onion. The initial thing they say is, ‘I don’t know a thing about this.’ And then ‘Well, I sort of saw this.’ You get different stories as you go along. This is the real world. We don’t pick our witnesses, we have to put them on as they are. There were a lot of inconsistencies throughout Jay’s prior statements. Almost all of them involve what we would call collateral facts. A material fact is something directly related to the question of guilt or innocence. A material fact would have been, ‘I was with Adnan,’ and then you’ve got the cellphone corroborating that material fact. A collateral fact would be, We were at Joe’s Sub Shop,’ but then you find out actually they were at the auto repair store. That’s a collateral fact. It’s not necessarily material to the question of guilt or innocence. So, many of the material facts were corroborated through the cellphone records including being in Leakin Park...."

From the excellent Intercept interview with the prosecutor in the case that was the subject of the popular podcast "Serial."

"2 UVA Frats Refuse to Sign Agreement Forged After Rape Story."

"Alpha Tau Omega and Kappa Alpha Order said the university was wrong to suspend all Greek life in the wake of a Nov. 19 article that purported to detail the gang rape of a woman named 'Jackie'..."
“The fact is the university has never acknowledged that they made a mistake in suspending 25 percent of the student body that had nothing to do with an article that proved to be erroneous,” said [Kevin O’Neill, a lawyer for the two frats]. “The university has not apologized and has not explained why they took this action.... Some of the things they are asking students to do, like stand at top of the stairs and monitor rooms, creates a duty the school should be bearing themselves if that’s their concern."

After all this talk about free speech, France arrests 54 persons for hate speech and defending terrorism!

"France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and those glorifying terrorism...."
Authorities said 54 people had been arrested for hate speech and defending terrorism since terror attacks killed 20 people in Paris last week, including three gunmen. The crackdown came as Charlie Hebdo's defiant new issue sold out before dawn around Paris, with scuffles at kiosks over dwindling copies of the satirical weekly that fronted the Prophet Muhammad anew on its cover....

Among those detained for a Facebook posting was Dieudonne, a popular and controversial comic who has repeated convictions for racism and anti-Semitism. He was later released and will be put on trial next month for justifying terrorism, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity in keeping with French custom.

Like many European countries, France has strong laws against hate speech, especially anti-Semitism in the wake of the Holocaust.
As I said earlier this morning, noting the Dieudonne arrest, this is no way to to sell free speech values to those who haven't accepted them yet. How do you explain these arrests to people who don't understand why there shouldn't also be censorship of images of Muhammad?

ADDED: Glenn Greenwald writes:
As pernicious as this [Dieudonne] arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west. The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, I coincidentally documented the multiple cases in the west – including in the U.S. – where Muslims have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for their political speech. Vanishingly few of this week’s bold free expression mavens have ever uttered a peep of protest about any of those cases – either before the Charlie Hebdo attack or since. That’s because “free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game.
It's the oldest free-speech game in the book: Free speech for me but not for thee.

Snowmen deemed "anti-Islamic."

"Ces derniers jours, un joli manteau blanc recouvre le nord de l'Arabie saoudite. Mais que petits et grands ne se réjouissent pas trop vite. Car, à en croire Mohammad Saleh Al-Munadjid, un des cheikhs islamiques les plus influents du royaume, ceux qui seraient tentés de confectionner des bonshommes de neige feraient preuve d'un comportement 'anti-islamique.'"

"The lion cubs of the Khilafah."

One of the saddest photographs I've ever seen. It's a still from an ISIS video, via "ISIS Films Child Soldier Purportedly Executing Russians."

"Before eating guests are taken to a 'beauty identification area' where they are photographed and considered."

"The Jeju Island restaurant, a Korean eatery in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, says the 50 most handsome people to arrive at its gates each day will be spared paying their bills."

"Thousands of people all over the world participated in the No Pants Subway Ride on Sunday."

"The 14th annual Subway Ride became a huge hit when people braved the cold weather and went pantsless. Part of an yearly tradition started by a group of seven boys, the event has grown into a global tradition.... According to the rules, underpants must be worn. Uniforms and business suits are encouraged to amplify the lower-half effect as are props - bicycles, prams, shopping bags or a briefcase. Participants are also forbidden from speaking to one another. They are instructed to bring to behave in a normal manner- read a newspaper, book."

That reminds me — and this is only slightly related — Jay Leno was on the Bill Maher show last Friday. You might have read about it in the context of his saying that Hillary Clinton "seems to be sort of very slow." But the part that got me was that he said that he never wears shorts — doesn't own a single pair.

"All I could hear were ceaseless gunshots, explosions, screams from people and chants of 'Allahu Akbar' from the Boko Haram gunmen."

"I remained in my hiding place until Tuesday evening. Every night when it was dark, I would furtively scale the fence into my house to quickly eat garri and drink water and go back to my hideout.... Some of the Boko Haram gunmen camped outside the Baga main market just 700 metres from my hideout... At night I could see lights from the power generator they ran. I could also hear their cheering and laughter.... "

The survivor Yanaye Grema tells his story.

(What is garri? "To make garri, cassava tubers are peeled, washed and grated or crushed to produce a mash. The mash is placed in a porous bag and allowed to ferment for one or two days, while weights are placed on the bag to press the water out. It is then sieved (or sifted) and roasted by heating in a bowl. The resulting dry granular garri can be stored for long periods.")

"One week ahead of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union, three prospective Republican presidential candidates delivered speeches Tuesday that looked a lot like auditions for a joint session of Congress."

A Politico article topped with a photo of Scott Walker, who also gets the most flattering treatment in the text. I'll just give you the part that's about football:
“I had plenty of fun hugging ‘owners’ in the stands at Lambeau Field,” Walker said Tuesday....
This is a reference to fellow presidential hopeful Chris Christie, who famously hugged the rich-guy owner of the Dallas Cowboys, the team our fan-owned team just beat.

All who "have proclaimed 'I am Charlie' should know that this also means 'I am secularism.'"

Writes Gérard Biard in the lead editorial in the new issue of Charlie Hebdo. He adds: "The first victims of Islamic extremism are the Muslims."

Among the cartoons:
One cartoon shows jihadists talking with one saying: "We must not touch people from Charlie Hebdo." The other jihadist responds: "Otherwise, they will pass for martyrs, and once in heaven, they are going to steal all our virgins!"

Another shows Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders huddled around a globe at the Vatican. "I keep the western sector, you keep the eastern sector," the caption says.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility Wednesday for last week's deadly rampage at France's Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper -- and said the attack was years in the making.

AQAP commander Nasr Ibn Ali al-Ansi...  praised that attack, saying it was revenge for Charlie Hebdo's depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. And according to the video, the late Anwar al-Awlaki masterminded the attack before his death in 2011. If true, that means the planning for the massacre started at least three years ago....
And — to be filed under: how not to sell free speech values to those who haven't bought them yet:
Controversial French humorist and actor Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, better known as simply Dieudonne, was arrested in Paris, accused of publicly supporting terrorism, multiple French media reported. One Facebook post read: "You should know tonight that as far as I am concerned I am Charlie Coulibaly" — an apparent reference to Amedy Coulibaly, the man who killed four hostages at a Parisian kosher grocery store Friday.
What idiocy!

ADDED: As the lead-in to that last quote should cue you, my "What idiocy!" refers to the arrest.

AND: Why did CNN (at the second link) use the word "masterminded"? The 9/11 attacks can be said to have been "masterminded," but the Charlie Hebdo massacre was on the level of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Maybe CNN is just buying the hype in the terrorist's video.

Justice Scalia arrived late to work yesterday.

"Just after 10:10 a.m., after the argument had been underway for four or five minutes, the center curtains stirred behind the Chief Justice, and Justice Scalia moved a short distance to the stage, or to his seat on the bench (which is often his stage, of course). A few minutes later, an aide brought his silver coffee go-cup and some case materials. At 10:21, Justice Scalia felt sufficiently up to speed to chime in. 'Can I ask something about this,' he said to the lawyer before him. The solicitous tone was uncharacteristic, and reminiscent of the courtly way that now-retired Justice John Paul Stevens would enter an argument before asking a razor-sharp question. Before too long, with a few sips of his coffee, Justice Scalia was back to himself, interrupting the lawyers to grill them without asking their permission."

That's the end of the (surprisingly long!) essay at SCOTUSblog about what Supreme Court observers experienced as the dramatic absence of Justice Scalia on a morning when 2 of his opinions were announced. Chief Justice Roberts took over the reading of the announcements, noting only that Justice Scalia had asked him to do so. What thoughts raced through the heads of the observers before they got the word that Justice Scalia was — how mundane! — stuck in traffic?

"Can you imagine a world in which it could be a crime to say words that you can hear on cable TV every night?"

"That’s the world of the Sixties, in which there were legal prohibitions of the work of Henry Miller and Allen Ginsberg and comedians such as Lenny Bruce. So this was pathbreaking."

 "This" = the legal work of Al Bendich, who "was the last living member of the defense team in the 'Howl' case" and" the sole defense lawyer in the first of Bruce’s obscenity trials... the only one to end in an acquittal."

Well, of course, we can imagine a world like that. We live in such a world. Maybe not the United States — not right now anyway — but the world is more than the United States.

"There is no way to know whether Mr. Walker will have the appeal and discipline necessary to win a presidential primary."

"But he has won three contested elections in a blue state, even while running and governing as a conservative. He naturally speaks the language of cultural conservatives, frequently invoking faith and God, which is crucial in the Iowa caucuses. In 2012, evangelical Christians represented 57 percent of Iowa caucus-goers, according to entrance polls. It is not at all obvious that Mr. Walker’s Midwestern persona, which may strike some as lacking sizzle, is a negative on the prairies of Iowa. In the end, Mr. Walker will have to capitalize on his opportunity, and prove as compelling on the campaign trail and in debates as he is on paper. If he does, he would be a far more serious contender for the presidential nomination than many of the candidates who have received substantially more news media attention over the last few years."

The New York Times takes Scott Walker seriously and treats him with respect.

This is is a significant breakthrough for Walker.

Up to 11.

What can you say about 11? The 10th anniversary of this blog was marked last year:
So this is it. The big milestone of the blog. I've made it to the last time-related goal that matters. It was all, always, done for the sheer intrinsic pleasure of it — to live freely in writing, in real time, daily — even the time-related parts, like noticing the annual anniversary on January 14th, 2 days after my birthday, feeling like it's more important than the birthday.
I can say, once again, that I have blogged every single day of the past year. I have blogged for 11 years, every day, never ONE day without sitting down and seriously looking for some things to blog. Maybe there are a handful of days in the archive with only one post — none from the past year — but these were never posts written in advance and scheduled to make it look as though I'm blogging. I've been here every day, sometimes — like right now — before 5 a.m.

But last year was 10, the big one. Now, we are 11. But this is America, and in America, we think 11 is special too, because we like say "up to 11." There's a Wikipedia article for "Up to 11."
"Up to eleven" or "these go to eleven" is an idiom from popular culture, coined in the movie This Is Spinal Tap, where guitarist Nigel Tufnel proudly demonstrates an amplifier whose volume knob is marked from zero to eleven, instead of the usual zero to ten. The phrase has come to refer to anything being exploited to its utmost abilities, or apparently exceeding them. Similarly, the expression "turning it up to eleven" refers to the act of taking something to an extreme.
So... extreme blogging... nonstop for 11 years. The 11th bloggiversary, here on the Althouse blog.

January 13, 2015

Frozen sunset, Lake Mendota.


This evening.. On Picnic Point.


"If you were wondering what Amazon was going to do to follow up its Golden Globes success with Transparent, wonder no more..."

"... Tuesday morning, Amazon Studios announced that Woody Allen will create his first TV series ever for it."

IN THE COMMENTS: Eric the Fruit Bat said: "Fantastic!!! Now I can treat myself to even more of an elderly neurotic man's internal dialogue as spoken by gorgeous young women I'd love to bang!"

If a man makes a woman move 4 to 9 feet from one room to another in her house, has he "force[d] her to accompany him"?

"Federal law establishes enhanced penalties for anyone who 'forces any person to accompany him' in the course of committing or fleeing from a bank robbery."... Larry Whitfield, fleeing police after a botched bank robbery, entered the home of 79-year-old Mary Parnell through an unlocked door. Once inside, he encountered a terrified Parnell and guided her from the hallway to a computer room (which Whitfield estimates was between four and nine feet away.). There, Parnell suffered a fatal heart attack. Whitfield fled, and was found hiding nearby."

So Whitfield made the old woman move 4 to 9 feet. Does the basis for enhancing the sentence apply?

"I know parents who carry an 'autism card,' saying that their child is not spoiled or misbehaving."

"They deal with scornful looks by wordlessly handing out the card and walking away. The mere fact that so many parents believe that [they] have to carry this prop reveals the scope of the problem."

"There are some who believe that a path to Republican victory is to run to the mushy middle, is to blur distinctions."

"I think recent history has shown us, that’s not a path to success. It doesn’t work. It’s a failed electoral strategy. I very much agree with President Ronald Reagan that the way we win is by painting with bold colors and not pale pastels and I think that’s gonna be a debate Republicans are gonna have over the next two years. It is certainly a debate that I intend to participate in vigorously."

Ted talks.

"Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an effort to have yoga become recognized first and foremost as an Indian practice grounded in the Hindu tradition."

"For India to effectively claim to own yoga, Modi would need to secure what’s called a 'geographical indication.'"
A geographical indication is a formal acknowledgement of location’s importance to a specific product—in the European Union, it’s what protects a fizzy beverage made in the Champagne region of France from imitators produced elsewhere...

"We would be honored if our Carolina Panthers became your team. We would make you proud by the classy way we would represent you."

Wrote Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson in what was the only letter a 12-year-old boy received after he hand-wrote letters to every NFL team owner. Cade Pope wrote:
"My family and I love football. We play fantasy football and watch NFL games every weekend. My parents are St. Louis Ram's fans. My brother is a Kansas City Chiefs fan. I don't have a team to cheer for yet. I am ready to pick an NFL team to cheer on for a lifetime!"
I don't know if this is a cute story or if the country is full of kids hand-writing letters to various organizations trying to get free stuff. In this case, the kid got not only a letter, but a helmet.

"Well, Reggie, it’s actually not a consolation to me that my campaign for president can help subsidize your love life."

Obama said to his "bodyman" Reggie Love, after Love said "You know, sir, if it’s any consolation, I’m having the time of my life." The "consolation" was offered after Obama walked in on Love when he was in bed with a woman:
I remember the most peremptory of knocks, the sound of his voice talking even as he walked in. … He was charged up, going a mile a minute.

“Hey, Reggie, we need to go over the schedule” – at which point the senator finally noticed my friend in bed, covers pulled to her throat, mortified.

“Oh,” he said. “I apologize.” Then he turned around and hurried out.
ADDED: I'm going to guess that Love's job included constant access, and that the routine was to knock on the door to give an alert but then to barge in.

That is the routine that was followed in judicial chambers when I was a law clerk, and we clerks needed to consult with the judge. We were supposed to knock but then go right in, not make the judge come to the door or yell out "Come in." Once, I went in that way, and the judge was lying on the sofa (reading), and I said "I'm sorry." I got the impression that even saying "I'm sorry" was an unnecessary distraction. Just get on with whatever it is we are working on and ignore these personal, bodily details.

Obama's relationship with Love was more intimate than that, and my instinct is to say: Obama did nothing wrong by barging in, Love shouldn't have diminished Obama's full right of access to his personal aide by having a lover in the hotel room, and Love shouldn't be cashing in on his erstwhile intimacy with the President by telling us things like this.

A reader emails "Why don't you start publishing Mohammed images yourself, everyday?"

"There are 1000s of images available online, from glorious Islamic portraits of the 16th century to the Danish and French cartoons.  If many people, especially people with big megaphones, did this maybe we would get to the point [slain Charlie Hebdo editor] Stephane Charbonnier aimed at, making lampooning Islam as banal as lampooning Catholicism."

I've been putting off talking about this, out of respect for the dead and out of opposition to terrorism and murder. But if I were to talk about it, I would say something similar to what I said about "Everybody Draw Mohammed" day. I wrote 2 posts, back in 2010:

1. "'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' is not a good idea."
I have endless contempt for the threats/warnings against various cartoonists who draw Muhammad (or a man in a bear suit who might be Muhammad, but is actually Santa Claus). But depictions of Muhammad offend millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats. In pushing back some people, you also hurt a lot of people who aren't doing anything (other than protecting their own interests by declining to pressure the extremists who are hurting the reputation of their religion).

"The Genius of Obama's Two-Year College Proposal/The plan's potential to promote socioeconomic and racial integration is critical to advancing higher education."

Richard Kahlenberg in The Atlantic:
While some argue that free tuition for upper- and middle-class students is a waste of resources, in fact it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that community colleges are socioeconomically integrated.... [W]ealthy students outnumber poor students at the most selective four-year colleges by 14 to one, while community colleges educate twice as many low-income students as high-income students....

[T]he growing number of low-income and working-class students in community colleges has been associated with reduced educational expectations and a less-rigorous curriculum.... As economic segregation rises in community colleges, students are less likely to be surrounded by well-prepared middle-class classmates who model academic success.

The Obama proposal could begin an important process of reversing the negative effects of socioeconomic segregation in higher education... [L]et’s see whether expanding universal public education to the two-year sector will, in the end, begin to reduce higher education’s economic divide and strengthen community colleges to become the engines of social mobility they were designed to be.

Does the attachment of nearly invisible religious symbols to public utility poles violate the Establishment Clause?

The Second Circuit said no, last week:
A religious zone established by Orthodox Jews in Westhampton Beach with the help of utility poles does not violate the separation of church and state outlined in the U.S. Constitution, a panel of federal judges has ruled.

The zone, called an eruv, allows Orthodox Jews to push strollers, carry keys and perform other tasks not otherwise allowed on the Sabbath or on High Holy Days. It has been in place for five months in Westhampton Beach and is marked, in part, by strips of black pipe attached to 45 poles owned by the Long Island Power Authority and Verizon.
From the court's summary order (PDF):
An eruv is a “demarcation of a defined geographic area within which adherents subscribing to a certain interpretation of Jewish law believe that they may perform certain activities that are otherwise prohibited on the Jewish Sabbath and Yom Kippur.” Compl. ¶ 19. It is undisputed that the Westhampton eruv was delineated by “nearly invisible” staves and wires attached to utility poles. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 20. Plaintiffs do not allege that these staves contain any overtly religious features that would distinguish them to a casual observer as any different from strips of material that might be attached to utility poles for secular purposes.

Plaintiffs have not plausibly pleaded that there was no secular purpose to the governmental action here — LIPA’s entry into a paid licensing agreement allowing the installation of items of religious significance on utility poles. While plaintiffs repeatedly state in their complaint that the establishment of an eruv serves no secular purpose, the complaint does not contain similar allegations with regard to LIPA’s action of permitting the EEEA to attach lechis to its utility poles, and does not allege that LIPA granted access to its utility poles in a non-neutral manner. Neutral accommodation of religious practice qualifies as a secular purpose under Lemon. See, e.g., Good News Club v. Milford Cent. School, 533 U.S. 98, 114 (2001). And other courts have held that absent evidence that the erection of an eruv is facilitated in a non-neutral manner, permitting an organization to attach lechis to utility poles serves the secular purpose of accommodation. See, e.g., Long Branch, 670 F. Supp. at 1295-96.
Is that neutral accommodation? What if members of other religious groups had charms that they wanted to attach to public property to enhance their life in the town — would they receive equal treatment? In Good News Club, the case the court cites, the religious group wasn't seeking a special accommodation, but only to be treated the same as nonreligious groups who were using public school buildings after hours. The school tried unsuccessfully to justify discrimination against religion as way to observe Establishment Clause values. You see the neutrality principle there. In this case, the religious group gets a special treatment, and the court seems only to be saying that there is no evidence that anyone else is asking for the same kind of accommodation and getting refused. That's a different kind of argument.

By the way, it was a Jewish group — Jewish People for the Betterment of Westhampton Beach — that sued the city.

January 12, 2015

"At about 9:10 on Monday evening, laughter and a round of applause broke out among the surviving staff members of Charlie Hebdo, followed shortly by cries — joyous if ironic — of 'Allahu akbar!'"

"The group was cheering Rénald Luzier, the cartoonist known as Luz, who on the umpteenth try had produced what the editors thought was the perfect cover image for the most anticipated issue ever of this scrappy, iconoclastic weekly, which will appear on Wednesday. It showed a figure of the prophet Muhammad holding a sign saying, 'Je suis Charlie' ('I am Charlie'), with the words 'All is forgiven' in French above it on a green background."

So begins the NYT article, titled "Charlie Hebdo’s New Issue Has Mohammed on Cover."

ADDED: You'll have to look elsewhere for an image of that cover, of course. The NYT has decided not to show cartoons depicting Muhammad:
[NYT executive editor Dean] Baquet told me [NYT "public editor" Margaret Sullivan] that he started out the day Wednesday convinced that The Times should publish the images, both because of their newsworthiness and out of a sense of solidarity with the slain journalists and the right of free expression....

Ultimately, he decided against it, he said, because he had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers. To many of them, he said, depictions of the prophet Muhammad are sacrilegious; those that are meant to mock even more so. “We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.”

“At what point does news value override our standards?” Mr. Baquet asked. “You would have to show the most incendiary images” from the newspaper; and that was something he deemed unacceptable.
AND: You can see the new Charlie Hebdo here. One thing the NYT verbal description leaves out: cartoon Muhammad is crying.

50 years ago today: Lorraine Hansberry died at the age of 34.

The author of "A Raisin in the Sun" — an alumna of the University of Wisconsin—Madison — succumbed to pancreatic cancer.
James Baldwin believed "it is not at all farfetched to suspect that what she saw contributed to the strain which killed her, for the effort to which Lorraine was dedicated is more than enough to kill a man."

Hansberry's funeral was held in Harlem on January 15, 1965. Paul Robeson and SNCC organizer James Forman gave eulogies. The presiding minister, Eugene Callender, recited messages from Baldwin and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. which read: "Her creative ability and her profound grasp of the deep social issues confronting the world today will remain an inspiration to generations yet unborn."
Her writings were adapted into a play with the title "To Be Young, Gifted and Black." I was researching that phrase today because there is an organization here in Madison now that calls itself the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition. Last Friday, they sent a letter to the Madison Police Chief Michael Koval, demanding, among other things, "the immediate release of 350 Black people from the Dane County Jail, with the ongoing demand to keep this number out of the jail." They say:
Although Madison's model of community policing and attempt to build trust between the community and police, even acting as “social workers,” may be a step above certain other communities, our arrest rates and incarceration disparities still top the nation. The relationship that we desire to have with the police is simple: no interaction. Our ultimate goal is to be able to hold our own communities accountable and to expel what we consider an occupying force in our neighborhoods. Our people need opportunities for self-determination, not policing.
I assume the group chose its name to honor Hansberry, but wonder if many who see the name will recognize the source.  David Blaska riffs on the name in the title of his new column: "Who will call out the Young, Foolish and Racist of Madison?"

Here's Nina Simone:

"Enter Marvina, a high-end weed subscription service with the ability to deliver a glossy black box of curated pot..."

"... to anyone in San Francisco with a medical marijuana card and a wallet. Partnered with experienced budtenders at a local dispensary, Marvina combines the ease of delivery with the luxury of an expert calling the shots."
An example box on Marvina’s website shows the contents of a Sativa-heavy package (marijuana that’s more likely to induce feelings of excitement than lethargy) and an Indica one (more likely to cause drowsiness.) In the Sativa package is “1 heavy eight of jack herer, 1 gram Sour Diesel, 1 gram Blue Dream, and 1 gram SFV OG.” All told, less than $100 — and most importantly, legal.
Legal, eh?

"This is not only a front-runner for worst red carpet look of 2015..."

"... we’re pretty sure we’d have no problem putting this in a Top Ten list of the worst red carpet looks of the past five years or so. THAT’S how bad it is."

"Back in London, enjoying my photos of ethereal icescapes and brilliantly comic penguins, I wonder again whether I should feel guilty for having been in Antarctica?"

Asks Juliet Rix at the end of a BBC.com piece titled with another question: "Should tourists be banned from Antarctica?" The article is peppered with similar questions: "Should I be here? Am I, just by setting foot on this extraordinary continent, disturbing a pristine environment and polluting the last great wilderness on earth?

She supplies the answer from a "polar expert" named Jane Rumble: "No, just do what you can to preserve it." Well, that's ambiguous! It's apparently the answer to the "should I feel guilty?" question, and the answer to that could be: No, because that's just self-absorbed obsessing within your own mind. It's not doing a damned thing to preserve Antarctica. But should you stay away and guilt-trip others into not going? That would be something you could do to preserve it.

I'm just trying to understand the wit and wisdom of polar expert Jane Rumble.

Josh Earnest sent to express the view that the Obama administration "should have sent someone with a higher profile" to the Paris march.

"We agree that we should have sent someone with a higher profile in addition to the ambassador to France," the White House press secretary said, obviously impelled by what WaPo calls "intense scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic on Monday, with Republicans sharply criticizing the president at home and both domestic and foreign media raising questions about the dearth of U.S. presence at the event."

Eh. It's only the White House press secretary. And he's stepping on John Kerry's message:
This is sort of quibbling a little bit in the sense that our assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was there and marched, our ambassador was there and marched, many people from the embassy were there and marched.
But: "The Wall Street Journal reported that Nuland actually marched in Washington, D.C." And: "The Associated Press reports that Kerry said he was going to France on Thursday, to reaffirm U.S. solidarity with its oldest ally." And this garbler of messages is our chief diplomat!

And what about Eric Holder, who was in Paris at the time? The Justice Department got out the message that he had "changed his schedule to travel to Paris this weekend to personally express his solidarity with the people of France," but "he had to return to Washington Sunday afternoon." It doesn't say why could could change his schedule but not the part where where "he had to return."

Not impressed. 

On finally owning a paper shredder.

For years I kept papers that couldn't be thrown out in the trash in a couple brown paper bags that I seriously believed I was going to burn one day. For a year, I had those bags near the fireplace, but no fire was ever built. Meade talked about burning them outside, in the charcoal grill, but that never happened. I'm trying to relieve the house of clutter, so I didn't like the idea of taking ownership of a new electrical appliance, but last week, I finally did it. I bought a paper shredder.

I let it ripen a day before taking it out of the box and a few more days before turning it on and feeding some papers in. This morning, I finally got through the process by opening it up to empty out the shreds. Hey, this stuff is great...


There must be something you can do with it. And I mean other than photograph it and blog about it. I google and find this "What to do with shredded paper" Pinterest and am instantly cured of whatever twinges of craftiness I might once have felt. I mean...

Gilbert the Shredded-Paper Rabbit says: Noooooo!

"Buried within the splendid Roger Ebert documentary 'Life Itself' lies a mini-debate over what might be called critical etiquette."

"Specifically, while Ebert formed close relationships with directors and other talent whose work he critiqued, longtime Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss makes clear he doesn’t want to know his subjects at all, joking that he prefers to think of them as fictional characters," writes Brian Lowry at Variety, and I immediately think: That's how I feel about judges and politicians. I do not want to know them. Any personal connection incites empathy. You've got to keep your edge!

"Your revolution will not succeed because you have not yet learnt to be frivolous."

A line from the 1987 novel "Saints and Scholars" by the communist (his word) academician Terry Eagleton. Asked about that line — why is comedy important? — he says:
“It is... because comedy can be a form of friendship, solidarity. I mean, one of the difficulties of being a radical is always being against or outside things. Radicals want to come in from the cold as much as anybody else.” For Eagleton, it seems, the cold is part of the radical life – he is now both thinking of Bertolt Brecht and quoting him: “‘We who wanted to prepare the ground for friendship could not ourselves be friendly.’ ”
Eagleton says he was "an earnest, high-minded, grim-lipped intellectual" until feminism — of all things! — turned him toward "'low-minded' virtues such as bathos, irony and... comedy." How earnest, high-minded, and grim-lipped a man must be for feminism to lighten him up!

100 years ago today: The House of Representives voted 174 to 204 against the proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

"Woman suffrage was discussed from every point of view for more than ten hours in the House today," wrote The New York Times. "At the close of the debate the proposed constitutional amendment giving nation-wide suffrage to women was rejected by the overwhelming vote of 174 to 204."
Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, President of the National Suffrage Association, said... "I am not gratified, but the vote was better than I had expected. We now have an alignment from which we can move onward. It is now a political and national question, for Congress would not take up a local or sectional matter in this way. It can never be said again that it is a local or partisan question. The National House of Representatives has discussed suffrage and has voted upon it...."

Mrs. Arthur M. Dodge, President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, said... "The deliberations of the House of Representatives today were, of course, of the greatest importance because the final vote was such as to persuade the country forever that the National Congress will not undertake to dictate to the various States what they shall do with their franchise. In my opinion today's work in the House demonstrated that from now on the wave of hysteria in which the suffragists have indulged or of which they have been the victims will be on the wane."
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Josephine Dodge founded this National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage in 1911 because she "believed that woman suffrage would decrease women’s work in communities and their ability to effect societal reforms." The NAOWS had a newsletter called Woman’s Protest (retitled Woman Patriot in 1918) that "continued to be published through the 1920s, generally opposing the work of feminists and liberal women’s groups."

Here's the Wikipedia article "Anti-suffragism," which says:
Anti-suffragism was not limited to conservative elements. The anarchist Emma Goldman opposed suffragism on the grounds that women were more inclined toward legal enforcement of morality (as in the Women's Christian Temperance Union), that it was a diversion from more important struggles, and that suffrage would ultimately not make a difference. She also said that activists ought to advocate revolution rather than seek greater privileges within an inherently unjust system. Progressives criticized suffrage in the Utah Territory as a cynical Mormon ploy....
Here's a postcard from 1915:

Tina Fey's rape joke.

She was hosting the Golden Globes (along with Amy Poehler ) last night:
“In ‘Into the Woods,’ ” Fey said, “Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from a tower for her prince, and Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.” She and Poehler then took turns with their impressions of Cosby saying “I put the pills in the people . . . ” (Anyone can do a Cosby impression; anyone who remembers Cosby’s Jell-O Pudding Pops ads.) It was not the sharpened moment of post-feminist commentary that, fairly or otherwise, so many of us look for from the duo.
I don't know what "sharpened moments of post-feminist commentary" are. That writing is from WaPo TV critic Hank Stuever. I don't know how to sharpen a moment, and I don't know when Tina Fey was supposed to have passed the segment of time that is feminism into the period that lies beyond feminism — post-feminism — but I do know that if you're going to make a rape joke, you'd better figure out why you are doing it and whether you've got a good enough reason and a good enough joke.

Rape was the topic chosen by George Carlin for his "I believe you can joke about anything" monologue. (Previously discussed in last summer's post: "There's a gray area of rape, and I call it 'grape.'")

Is the fact that you can do a Cosby impression — when, per Stuever, anyone can — a good enough reason? No. But there's more: Fey's female. That might give an extra layer of protection. The ultimate justification is: Comedians should take hard shots at the powerful, and that's what this is.

Leaving The New Yorker to join a lyrics-annotating website?!

"Sasha Frere-Jones, the longtime pop music critic for The New Yorker, has left the magazine to join Genius, a website mounting an ambitious expansion after starting as a forum for annotated rap lyrics online."

Signs of the apocalypse for old media? Or just another data point in the very old process of taking a job that offers much better pay?
Mr. Frere-Jones will be an executive editor at Genius, two of its founders, Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman, said in an interview, with a focus on annotations of music lyrics. He will start this week.

Genius, which was originally called Rap Genius before changing its name last summer, has received $55 million of venture capital funding and broadened its mission beyond music to include restaurant menus and Shakespeare, among other texts.
The reason Frere-Jones gives is "I don’t want to stay up until 4 a.m. any more at shows, and you can annotate lyrics during the day." He's 47. I get it. Sometimes I think, I'd love to live in New York again, because there are all those things you can only do in New York. But then the question becomes: Yes, but would you do them? And the truth is, even when I was in my 20s, when I lived in New York, I found it a struggle to listen to music that went on after midnight. I believe Frere-Jones that the work fits a non-young person's life more comfortably. Good for him for getting the money. And give the New Yorker gig to somebody new, who's up for that sort of thing. We'll all survive.

And Genius is a nice format for annotating lyrics, a writing format that's very similar to blogging, and quite delightful, really. A big distinction from blogging, however, is that your writings remain stuck on the lyrics you've attached them to. They don't continually sink down as new stuff is put on top. Not that a blog's archive can't be searched, but in blogging, you do have this sense of layers of time, with the top layer fresh and soon to be pushed down by the next new thing. The tyranny of the timeline is most notable on Twitter and Facebook. If you're a serious writer, it can really get to you.

Not that annotating lyrics on Genius seems serious, but the hiring of Sasha Frere-Jones makes it a little more serious than it was before.

ADDED: Hey, Genius has a law section. (They should give me a million dollars!) Here's Marbury v. Madison. [AND: The cases are too long to annotate in the spiffy way that works for songs. The Marbury annotations alternate between boring explanations of technical terms and smart-ass observations, for example, pointing out over-broad/unsupported assertions. And most of the lines are just there — in hard-to-read white text on black — without annotation.]

When I'm 64...

is... today.

ADDED: Meade IMs links to Grooveshark versions of the old Beatles song, first Judy Collins, then David Grisman. I love the David Grisman (including the location of the cottage — not the Isle of Wight but Tennessee — and the names of the children — not Vera, Chuck, and Dave but Elviry, Charles, and Dave). As for Judy Collins — dear lady, this is not your song. When I get older losing my hair... Judy Collins, bald? As a consequence of mere aging? Judy Collins has managed to get quite old while maintaining a full head of glorious hair.

January 11, 2015

The Anti-Christie.

"More than three million people have taken part in unity marches across France after 17 people died during three days of deadly attacks in Paris."

"Up to 1.6m are estimated to have taken to the streets of the French capital. More than 40 world leaders joined the start of the Paris march, linking arms in an act of solidarity."
World leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, EU President Donald Tusk, and Jordan's King Abdullah II joined the beginning of the Paris march.

"Paris is the capital of the world today," French leader Francois Hollande said.
No leaders from the United States? That's weird.

ADDED: Drudge, linking to the Daily News (which points out that Eric Holder was in Paris):

AND: I suspect that Holder (and other American politicians) don't want to seem to be supporting what might be perceived as hate speech.

A view of the Wisconsin state capitol building...


... seen from Picnic Point today.

"'Deviance' had long been a preoccupation of sociology and its mother field, anthropology."

"Most 'deviance theory' took it for granted that if you did weird things you were a weird person. Normal people made rules—we’ll crap over here, worship over here, have sex like so—which a few deviants in every society couldn’t keep. They clung together in small bands of misbehavior. Becker’s work set out to show that out-groups weren’t made up of people who couldn’t keep the rules; they were made up of people who kept other kinds of rules. Marijuana smoking, too, was a set of crips, a learned activity and a social game. At a time when the general assumption was that drug use was private and compulsive, Becker argued that you had to learn
how to get high."

From "The Outside Game/How the sociologist Howard Becker studies the conventions of the unconventional," by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker. ("Crips" refers to the jazz music Becker had learned — "short phrases that can be combined in a million ways, subjected to all possible variations.")

"I’d be happy with a 1/4″ thicker iPhone that lasted for 2 or 3 days."

Says Instapundit. I disagree. Thinner is better as long as you can get through the day. A once-a-day routine is easier to follow than an every-other-day or every-third-day routine, so you don't really gain that much from a > 1 day battery life. Not saying a longer battery wouldn't be nice, but the super-thin iPhone is lovely and delightful. 1/4″ thicker would be about twice as thick!

R. Crumb gives an interview about the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

To Celia Farber at The New York Observer. Crumb has lived in France for quite a while, and Farber is speaking from the U.S.:
Farber: We don’t have a context for this tradition here, merciless, political satire. One thing I keep noticing is commentators here are pointing out that the cartoons were very offensive and insulting. It’s as if we don’t understand that was by design. Very intentionally offensive, and very clear about why that couldn’t be compromised. That’s the part we don’t get, as Americans. It’s like, “Why did they have to be so mean?”

Crumb: It’s a French thing, yeah, and they value that very highly here, which is why there’s like a huge amount of sympathy for the killing of those guys, you know, huge demonstrations and crowds in Paris – people holding up signs that say, “Je suis Charlie.”...

Farber: It’s not the faith that is being insulted. It’s the extremism, the psychosis. The totalitarian impulse.

Crumb: …All the big newspapers and magazines in American had all agreed, mutually agreed, not to print those offensive cartoons that were in that Charlie Hebdo magazine. They all agreed that they were not going to print those, because they were too insulting to the Prophet. Charlie Hedbo, it didn’t have a big circulation. A lot of French people said, “Yes, it was tasteless, but I defend their right to freedom of speech.” Yeah, it was tasteless, that’s what they say. And perhaps it was. I’m not going to make a career out of baiting some fucking religious fanatics, you know, by insulting their prophet. I wouldn’t do that. That seems crazy. But then, after they got killed, I just had to draw that cartoon, you know, showing the Prophet. The cartoon I drew shows me, myself, holding up a cartoon that I’ve just drawn. A crude drawing of an ass that’s labeled “The Hairy Ass of Muhammed.” [Laughs.]
Here's the drawing. It's a drawing labeled "The Hairy Ass of Mohamid!" held up by Crumb himself who is saying "Actually it's the ass of my friend Mohamid Bakhsh, a movie producer who lives in Los Angeles, California," which is apparently a reference to the animator Ralph Bakshi with whom Crumb has a longstanding feud over Fritz the Cat. The whole drawing of Crumb with his drawing of an ass is labeled "A Cowardly Cartoonist." His wife Aline, also a cartoonist, made a drawing of herself looking at this drawing saying "Oh, my God, they’re going to come after us! This is terrible…I want to live to see my grandchildren!" and Crumb saying "Well, it’s not that bad. And, besides, they’ve killed enough cartoonists, maybe they’ve gotten it out of their system."

One more bit from the interview:
Farber: What was your reaction inside when you first heard about [the Charlie Hebdo massacre]?

Crumb: I had the same reaction I had when 9/11 happened. I thought, “Jesus Christ, things are really going to turn ugly now.”... The right wing here is very down on the Arabs. And France has an Arab population that’s like, 5 Million, something like that – huge population of Muslims in this country, most of whom just want to mind their own business and don’t want to be bothered. Those kinds of extremists are a very small minority. We have friends here who are from that background, you know, Moroccan or Algerian. And they just don’t want any trouble, and their kids are mostly even more moderate than they are.

At the Aaron Rodgers Café...

... you can talk about the big game.

And watch this ad featuring British comedian Tom Wrigglesworth, who looks a lot like Aaron Rodgers:

IN THE COMMENTS: Ctmom4 said: "Did you hear the New York Bozo call? I like him even better now. Go Pack!"

Rodgers, interviewed after the game, said he had no idea what that meant, but here's a story that suggests it refers to Chris Christie:
On second-and-2 on the Green Bay Packers' opening drive on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, quarterback Aaron Rodgers called out an audible that — best guess — had a funny little double meaning.

"New York Bozo! New York Bozo!" Rodgers shouted as he scanned over the defense.

Hmm, let's see ... who is the most talked-about guest of a certain Cowboys owner? Yes, we imagine this was the Packers' response to New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his infamous red sweater being pals with Jerry Jones and a guest at the divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field, as well as several other big games this season dating back to Thanksgiving.

Yes, New Jersey is not New York, but it's one fewer syllable. Same difference in some folks' minds, maybe in all Wisconsinites' minds Sunday.
ADDED: Twitchy seems sure it refers to De Blasio. Anyway, watch it yourself. Click the speaker icon in the lower right corner to unmute.

"Firebombing at German paper that ran Charlie Hebdo cartoons."

"Rocks and then a burning object were thrown through the window.... Two rooms on lower floors were damaged but the fire was put out quickly."

"Rod Taylor?"

Bill Harshaw makes a suggestion in the comments to "If there's a rule of 3 about celebrity deaths, we have a set of 2." I connected Anita Ekberg and Taylor Negron based on their appearance in iconic movie scenes — "scenes so utterly memorable that when the death is announced, everyone seems compelled to put that scene first."

I saw the obituaries yesterday, but I'd skipped blogging Rod Taylor's death, even though I love the movie "The Birds."

I don't think of him as being iconic in any scene in "The Birds" though. He was just continually around for Tippi and Suzanne to bounce off of. And Veronica and Jessica. That's a woman movie.

The man is only there because you've got to have a man somewhere, like to put a table in front of the fireplace when birds take it into their heads to come down the chimney.

The table-in-front-of-the-fireplace is perhaps the 20th image you'd think of from "The Birds."

Camille Paglia has a book about "The Birds." Too bad it's not on Kindle, but at least Amazon has a "look inside" function for it, so it's possible to see the extent to which she saw Rod Taylor as important. I searched for "Taylor," and got 6 hits, excluding the index, and 2 of them aren't Rod Taylor — they're Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor is, of course, not in "The Birds." The remaining 4 mentions are minimal, with the only substantive statement being: "Taylor is all male, with a bluff Australian heartiness that doesn't qu...."

I actually have this book and have read it, but I can't find it, so I have to go on memory and what Amazon gives me before clipping it short. (A bluff Australian heartiness that doesn't quite... what?!) But I think it's fair to say that Taylor is in "The Birds" to be the hunk of masculinity for the actresses to play against.

There's also "The Time Machine":

I've seen the movie. It's much worse than that poster, but that's a great poster.

I need to get back to my "tidying up" project. If I'd only gotten through the book stage — which comes second, right after clothing — I would have easily found Camille Paglia's "The Birds," assuming it passed the "spark of joy" test:
"The criterion [for books] is, of course, whether or not it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it. Remember, I said when you touch it. Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgment. Instead of asking yourself what you feel, you’ll start asking whether you need that book or not. Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?"