June 13, 2015

Breakage.

IMG_0360

Hillary brings back her "basic bargain" phrase from 2007.

From today's big speech:
It’s America’s basic bargain. If you do your part you ought to be able to get ahead. And when everybody does their part, America gets ahead too....

Prosperity and democracy are part of your basic bargain too."
From Hillary's announcement of her candidacy in January 2007:
[I]t is time to renew the promise of America. Our basic bargain that no matter who you are or where you live, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can build a good life for yourself and your family.

I grew up in a middle-class family in the middle of America, and we believed in that promise.

I still do. I’ve spent my entire life trying to make good on it.

Whether it was fighting for women’s basic rights or childrens’ basic health care. Protecting our Social Security, or protecting our soldiers. It’s a kind of basic bargain, and we’ve got to keep up our end.

The problem of drunk-on-drunk sex.

"Most men and women lead lives at the worst so painful, at the best so monotonous, poor and limited that the urge to escape, the longing to transcend themselves if only for a few moments..."

"... is and has always been one of the principal appetites of the soul. Art and religion, carnivals and saturnalia, dancing and listening to oratory—all these have served, in H. G. Wells’s phrase, as Doors in the Wall. And for private, for everyday use there have always been chemical intoxicants. All the vegetable sedatives and narcotics, all the euphorics that grow on trees, the hallucinogens that ripen in berries or can be squeezed from roots—all, without exception, have been known and systematically used by human beings from time immemorial. And to these natural modifiers of consciousness modern science has added its quota of synthetics—chloral, for example, and benzedrine, the bromides and the barbiturates. Most of these modifiers of consciousness cannot now be taken except under doctor’s orders, or else illegally and at considerable risk. For unrestricted use the West has permitted only alcohol and tobacco. All the other chemical Doors in the Wall are labeled Dope, and their unauthorized takers are Fiends."

Aldous Huxley, "The Doors of Perception." I'm thinking about that book this morning because, in a dream last night, I asked someone if she'd ever read that book and she said no, and I decided — extravagantly — that no one reads books anymore and no one talks about books. When you think of the title to Huxley's book — if you ever do — you remember — if you can remember — the epigraph that begins the book: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." That's from William Blake. Read it in context here. But there's also the H.G. Wells, which you can read in full at the first link.

"American history is full of tales of partly black people 'passing' as white, trying to shed the burdens of an oppressed people, but doing the reverse is much rarer."

"... Faking a racial history, in either direction, raises difficult questions about what race is and why it matters, and about the assumptions people make.... 'There was very little to be gained by identifying yourself as black, so if you did, no one questioned it,' said Ms. Sandweiss, author of 'Passing Strange,' an acclaimed book about a man who did just that in the late 19th century. 'It shows how absurd racial classifications often are.' There have been other examples of white people living as black, in American history and culture, but not many. When with his black wife and children, Clarence King, the subject of Ms. Sandweiss’s book, pretended to be a black Pullman porter, while in his parallel life he was a famous white geologist and surveyor with powerful friends. Mezz Mezzrow, a jazz musician who died in 1972, often passed as black, called himself 'a voluntary Negro.'..."

From a NYT article titled "Black or White? Woman’s Story Stirs Up a Furor."

The article has this quote from a Guardian columnist named Steven W. Thrasher: "The reason that [Rachel Dolezal's] story is so fascinating to me and to the rest of the world is that it exposes in a disquieting way that our race is performance — that, despite the stark differences in how our races are perceived and privileged (or not) by others, they are all predicated on a myth that the differences are intrinsic and intrinsically perceptible."

A wan watch party for the first major speech of Hillary's campaign.

An amusing moment on CNN just now:



What did these 5 people have to say? I don't know, but Bernie Sanders is in Iowa, drawing hundreds...

"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on..."

"... whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons."

— Douglas Adams ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)"), quoted by sunsong in the comments to "Polar bears are eating dolphins."

"Hackers have breached a database containing a wealth of sensitive information from federal employees’ security background checks..."

"... the Obama administration said Friday — news that experts say could deal a devastating blow to U.S. intelligence gathering.... The hackers are believed to have obtained data from a security intake form known as a Standard Form-86, which includes details such as financial trouble, past convictions, drug use and close relationships with citizens of other countries. The form is used for background checks of current, former and prospective federal employees...."

ADDED: Here's the PDF of Standard Form-86. Excerpt:

"The president will have to make that determination. My position was that you need to have boots on the ground."

"As you know, I made a very difficult decision. A fair number of people in our country were saying that it was impossible to defeat al-Qaida — which is ISIS as far as I am concerned. They said I must get out of Iraq. But I chose the opposite — I sent 30,000 more troops as opposed to 30,000 fewer. I think history will show that al-Qaida in Iraq was defeated. And so I chose the path of boots on the ground. We will see whether or not our government adjusts to the realities on the ground."

George Bush, in a new interview.

At the First-There-Is-A-Mountain Café...

P1320705

... you can talk about whatever you want.

The photo is by Meade, who has returned from the mountain.

Polar bears are eating dolphins.

But don't hate the polar bear. Hate yourself, because it's global warming — global warming trapping the dolphins in the fjords.

ADDED: If you care about dolphins trapped in fjords, murdered by polar bears, I offer my old advice, originally printed here in 2010:

"I did mean the part about having trouble with girls," said the scientist.

"It is true that people - I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it's very disruptive to the science because it's terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field.... I’m really, really sorry I caused any offense, that's awful... I certainly didn't mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually."

That's the latest from the stumbling, bumbling from the Nobel Prize-winning Tim Hunt, quoted in an article at TPM titled "Female Scientists Show Just How 'Distractingly Sexy' They Can Be," which includes a lot of #distractinglysexy #womeninSTEM tweeting by female scientists, showing themselves (with intended humorous effect) looking (supposedly) unsexy while doing scientist work. For example:



But everything is potentially sexy to somebody, including that, perhaps especially that. There is a problem of co-workers getting sexually attracted to each other, and it's not going to go away. The humor of those tweets is nice and appropriate — please, go view them all — but I don't think the message should be women in science are not sexy. It would also be nice and appropriate to send the message that women in science are sexy. You want youngsters — female and male — to see the appeal of a career in science. The larger point is that women and men need to learn how to get along professionally in the workplace, and that's not inconsistent with having a sex drive or with wanting to be sexually attractive. We don't do sex segregation in America anymore, and we need to get better about making integration work. You can't just stick your head in the ground.

"You're attracted to me. You're intrigued by me. You think I'm a wild horse that needs to be tamed. I understand all of that; it's the new frontier of misogyny."

"Take a woman that's in control of her life, and then silence her. And I'm up for it!" That's a line from an episode of "Girls" that aired last March and I finally got around to watching this week. (I'd been keeping up with the show all these years until an episode last winter when the Lena Dunham character took to her bed in depression and wouldn't get out. I guess I felt that I, at least, had to get out.)

Anyway, I was intrigued by that new frontier of misogyny, and I think there really is a thing properly described as "Take a woman that's in control of her life, and then silence her."

But what got me looking up a recap of that episode — Season 4, Episode 8 — was the line, in response to that old cliché "It's not about you" — "It's not not about me." There's a conversational move you might want to consider.

I felt like there was an old "Seinfeld" episode about the phrase "It's not about you," but it turns out that — "The Lip Reader" — was about the similar but different phrase "It's not you, it's me."
Gwen: It's not you, it's me.

George: You're giving me the "it's not you, it's me" routine? I invented "it's not you, it's me". Nobody tells me it's them not me, if it's anybody it's me.

Gwen: All right, George, it's you.

George: You're damn right it's me.

Recipient of the world's first penile transplant impregnates a woman through sexual intercourse.

I rewrote the BBC's headline, which is "First penile transplant recipient 'to become father.'" There are obviously ways that a man could become a father other than through sexual intercourse with a functioning penis.
The 21-year-old recipient, whose identify is being protected, lost his penis in a botched circumcision. The operation took place in December. Surgeons at Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital performed a nine-hour operation to attach a donated penis.
Dr Van der Merwe said he was "very pleased" when he heard that the man's girlfriend was pregnant, and had not asked for a paternity test as there was no reason not to believe the couple. "This is what we intended, that he should be able to stand up and be able to urinate and have intercourse, so it is a milestone for him," Dr Van der Merwe told the BBC.

"Pelosi Knifes Obama."

Headline at The Wall Street Journal. (Google some text to get a link to enter as a nonsubscriber.)
Mr. Obama began [Friday] by paying a rare, unannounced visit to Capitol Hill for an emergency closed-door pep rally with House Democrats, which was in retrospect a bad omen. His talk was reportedly well received at first but then he advised the caucus that “a vote against trade is a vote against me,” while Democrat Peter DeFazio of Oregon noted that the President “tried to guilt people and impugn their integrity.” In other words, it was a vintage Obama performance.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had until Friday promised the White House she’d remain neutral. But after the meeting she took to the floor to deliver a rambling speech that sounded off-the-cuff and encouraged Democrats to vote against a program called Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA. To understand how remarkable this surprise attack was, imagine Pearl Harbor as an inside job....

"I don't exercise… I just hold my body in a way that activates muscles all day long."

Salma Hayek is either lying or in possession of an amazing secret that she really ought to share.
"I work with a woman in London who taught me how to hold my body in a way where the muscles are activated all day long. So even when you brush your teeth, you're working the muscles. She taught me to tone them without clenching them. You relax them and focus on the parts that need to be used, but never with tension.... If you're aware of your body, you'd be surprised by the effect it can have."

June 12, 2015

"Good question, overheard at brunch: why is it considered OK to emulate someone else's gender but not OK to emulate someone else's race or ethnicity?"

This is a question that my son John put up on Facebook last February, that's relevant to the big internet story of the day — that poor lady, Rachel Dolezal, who's suddenly way overfamous. (Already blogged 2 posts down.)

The discussion there is interesting, though it's not about the full-scale life transition that you see with transgender people or with what Dolezal seems to have done. It's about temporary performances, like drag shows and blackface routines.

Is our internalized rejection of blackface helpful in critiquing what Dolezal seeems to have done? Maybe not. I don't see any basis for accusing her of mocking or disparaging black people or trying to leverage any negative feelings other people have toward black people. And she might be genuinely identifying herself with black people, perhaps to the point of delusion, but perhaps in some lucid and enlightened way that we don't yet fully understand.

"You can’t have my surname and not be grateful for the blunt, good words that come from Old English..."

"... but I confess a personal predilection for words of Latin origin, with the arch distance they offer from the realm of ordinary speech, and their secret etymological histories, which seem to me to bestow a peculiar romance upon the craft of writing. I cannot say the word 'procrastinate'—a useful word for a writer—without hearing embedded therein 'cras,' the Latin word for 'tomorrow,' which, St. Augustine noted, sounded like the croaking cry of the dilatory raven that was sent from the ark and never came back."

Writes Rebecca Mead in a New Yorker piece titled "Writers Choose Their Favorite Words."

"A Civil Rights Leader Has Disguised Herself As Black For Years, Her Parents Say."

"Larry Dolezal told BuzzFeed News he could not fully explain why his daughter [Rachel Dolezal] might have wanted to pose as a black woman."
But, he added: “She has over the past 20 years assimilated herself into the African-American community through her various advocacy and social justice work, and so that may be part of the answer.” He went on to say that Rachel cut off all communication with him and her mother, and “doesn’t want us visible in the Spokane area in her circle because we’re Caucasian.”...

On Thursday, Dolezal retained support from at least one friend and fellow member of the Spokane NAACP, the Inlander reported.... “In my opinion, it wouldn’t make a difference to me,” [Cedric Bradley] said. “It’s not about black and white, it’s about what we can do for the community.”
And: "Here Are Rachel Dolezal’s Responses So Far Concerning Her Race And Hate Mail."

I found that story via Instapundit, who is making jokes like: "She's trans-black, don't shame her" and "She’s obviously transitioning, and we should support her choice." I'm simply noting that opportunity for humorous insight, not signing onto it myself. I want my distance from transgender jokes. But the analogy is significant and worth thinking about seriously.

As for trans-racialism, I think, to some extent, people do choose which race to identify with. It is, to some extent, a matter of personal expression and the general social convention is to allow people to simply say what race they are and not to question it. At what point is it ethically wrong? Presumably, it has something to do with whether you've taken some benefit that was designated for others, especially if that's the only reason you've chosen this identification.

ADDED: Here's something Meade wrote in the comments back in 2008. Looks really prescient now:
I'm hoping Barack has a sex change and runs for reelection as a white woman with a really even tan. Talk about historic! The first transgendered president formerly known as a white male. That would shake things up, wouldn't it? He could truly be all things to all people. He could write a sequel to his autobiography and title it Daydreams of My Mother, Myself.

Meanwhile, back from the ranch... Part 2.

P1320695

P1320612

Photos by Meade, who's back now, from the ranch in Colorado.

Meanwhile, back from the ranch...

... Meade brought pictures of the cowboy's dog:

P1320577

More pictures of Rollo at The Puparazzo. I don't know who or what Rollo is named after — here's Wikipedia's disambiguation page for "Rollo" — but my first association is Rollo the rich kid in the great comic strip "Nancy":

An arm-wrestling match between Scott Walker and Marco Rubio...

... will determine whether the GOP ticket will be Walker/Rubio or Rubio/Walker.

ADDED: The larger point here is that the GOP candidates are — wisely — not attacking each other.

After the Freddie Gray incident in Baltimore, police retreat and murder advances.

The NYT reports: "West Baltimore’s Police Presence Drops, and Murders Soar."
At least 55 people, the most since the early 1970s, have been murdered in Baltimore since May 1, when the state’s attorney for the city, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced the criminal charges against the officers. Victims of shootings have included people involved in criminal activity and young children who were simply in the wrong place....

At the time of her announcement, Ms. Mosby’s charges were seen as calming the city. But they enraged the police rank and file, who pulled back. The number of arrests plunged, and the murder rate doubled. 
55 (in 40 or so days) is only a doubling?!

June 11, 2015

At the All-Tied-Up Café...

IMG_0355

... as long as you're here, why not write something?

"Why I’m finally convinced it's time to stop saying 'you guys.'"

"If you get a jump on changing now, you can avoid being like your grandfather who is still saying 'negro' because he doesn't mean anything by it and that's what they used to say in his day and he doesn't see the point of evolving. Don't get left behind, y'all/friends/everyone/folks."

An article at Vox.

By the way, this isn't only about being inclusive toward women. Some men don't like being called guys.

"The situation at Twitter must be much worse than it appears, as replacing the C.E.O. is such a big step,"

"Pressure on [Dick] Costolo grew in recent weeks after Chris Sacca, an early Twitter investor, went public with an 8,500-word analysis of what Twitter could be and how it could get there...."
Mr. Sacca’s manifesto calls for a much deeper rethinking of Twitter’s service, which is still focused on 140-character text messages, to attract new users beyond the 302 million active users it reported for the first quarter....
Isn't weird that a service that's all about cramping us forever into this tiny number — 140 — is desperately pressured to get ever bigger and certainly cannot be allowed to stagnate at 302 million?

ADDED: Here's the manifesto. I was interested to read:
New user growth has stalled.
Almost one billion users have tried Twitter and not stuck around....

Twitter can be indispensable, engaging, and fun for everyone on the planet, and make even more money in the process. So why isn’t that happening?

1. For most people, Twitter is too hard to use.
2. For most people, Tweeting is scary.
3. For most people, Twitter feels lonely.

None of this is a surprise, as Twitter was mostly built by and for its power users....
AND: Here I was last month emoting in the manner of one of Chris Sacca's "most people":

Josh Marshall wants to know WTF is Diane Rehm's problem.

"If you're interviewing President Obama and you ask him whether Osama bin Laden is his brother or whether he's conspiring with Iran to destroy America, that's not just a question. Why not ask an African-American congressman if he's held up any 7-Elevens recently? People are going to say, rightly, WTF is your problem? It's not a question, at least not phrased anything like that. You're dignifying, laundering hate speech. And when you get a flat denial you're not helping put the rumor to rest. That's CYA after the fact."

He's addressing the controversy we're already talking about in the first post of the morning "Did NPR host Diane Rehm just make an honest mistake when she said to Bernie Sanders 'Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel...'?"

"Despite what you've heard, tenure is unchanged."

Explains Christian Schneider in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This piece begins with some funny — funny now — material:
A century ago, the American Association of University Professors issued its famous "declaration of principles" in response to several high-profile faculty firings. These principles, such as insisting that only faculty members may judge one another, were meant to protect academic freedom within university systems.

What immediately followed could be considered the Golden Era of Terrible Research. In 1916, University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Michael Vincent O'Shea developed a child development theory that said children shouldn't be scolded for having dirty hands and bad table manners, and that 16- and 17-year-old boys shouldn't be allowed to show interest in girls. University progressives were busy working their eugenics theories, which they believed would create a master race if the feebleminded were sterilized.

That same year, UW-Madison medical school professor H.C. Bradley gave a speech in which he extolled the nutritional virtues of cannibalism. Bradley said the "ideal food would be man flesh" and other meats are indigestible when compared with "human steak."
Schneider's key substantive point — which I've blogged already — is that "tenure will be alive and well, it just will be the responsibility of the regents, not state law." This protection at the state level (which goes back only to 1973) is unique in the nation.

Meanwhile, at Talking Points Memo, "Josh Marshall Says Goodbye To One Of America’s Great Public Universities" is the front-page teaser, going to a piece titled "Goodbye, Madison," which NOWHERE mentions that the change is only moving tenure from the state statutory level to the regent level, putting Wisconsin in the same position as everywhere else. This deceptive article is illustrated with a photograph of Governor Scott Walker looking like an idiot who doesn't give a damn.

You know, it was just a year ago that liberals were getting upset about Michigan taking a decision away from the state university's regents and putting it into the state law. If the level at which university decisions are made matters, which way does it matter?

"Microbiologist Takes Handprint of Her Son After Playing Outside and Incubates the Results."

Amazing and beautiful.

And for some reason it reminded me that I wanted to blog "I rediscovered my Jurassic Park dossier when cleaning out a cupboard... "

Why put out the news that dogs have picked up the scent of the murderers who escaped from prison?

"[A]bout 3 miles from the prison... dogs involved in the manhunt picked up a scent... There is growing confidence this scent is from the two fugitives, the sources say."

If you knew dogs were on your trail, what would you do? I'd look up how to evade them. Here's  "How to Evade and Escape Tracking Dogs":
The best you can hope for is to delay the dog(s)... You need to also keep in mind many of the myths that exist about evading tracking teams. Running through water or across hard ground may help hide your foot prints, but your scent will always remain behind. It is possible to utilize waterways by crisscrossing them several times, but staying in them along their course is almost like drawing a direct map from the dog's nose to your location. It is important to always remember that there is very little chance you will actually confuse a well-trained tracking team enough to simply escape to a nearby hideaway. The end goal for any evasion plan should be to get to a location where you can get easier escape with a bike, motorcycle or car. If you stop before you have put a sizeable distance between you and your trackers, they will find you.
So I guess that's why the authorities want the escapees to know the dogs are on their trail. You'll either waste time doing dumb stuff that won't work, give up because you believe nothing will work, or you'll do the one thing that might work, go fast, which will require you to expose yourself to the roadblocks that are ringing the whole area.

ADDED: Of course, the news may have nothing to do with capturing the escapees and everything to do to reassuring people that the police are hot on their trail. The people will eventually lose interest, and this calming news might help.

Reddit shuts down 5 subreddits, including "Fat People Hate," "to prevent harassment."

"Our goal is to enable as many people as possible to have authentic conversations and share ideas and content on an open platform."
We want as little involvement as possible in managing these interactions but will be involved when needed to protect privacy and free expression, and to prevent harassment. It is not easy to balance these values, especially as the Internet evolves. We are learning and hopefully improving as we move forward. We want to be open about our involvement: We will ban subreddits that allow their communities to use the subreddit as a platform to harass individuals when moderators don’t take action. We’re banning behavior, not ideas.
 One of the best comments at that post — management announcing the new policy — is "What you just did:"

"Proponents of yoga argue the discipline involves more than just stretching but does it have deeper meaning still?"

"Senior Muslim leaders in India are unhappy that some state governments are giving children compulsory lessons in yoga, which they say involves some practices contrary to Islamic beliefs."
Leaders say the practice of “surya namaskar” or sun salutation–a series of poses–goes against Shariah or Islamic law, which doesn’t allow Muslims to bend before anyone other than Allah, or God.

“We don’t believe in praying to the sun,” said Mohammad Abdul Rahim Quraishi, spokesman for Lucknow-based All India Muslim Personal Law Board....

India’s ruling Bharaitya Janata Party says yoga is a secular activity. Yoga “is a science that deals with the well-being of the human mind and body,” said BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli. “There is no religious angle to this at all.”

"Rapp sat alone on a rock. A raven appeared. Unflinchingly, it approached..."

"... and patiently ate a piece of salami out of her hand. It had never happened to her before. 'The way the raven looked at me, so intently, so. …,' Rapp said, the thought drifting, unfinished. 'Yeah, it was Dean.'"

The last few lines of a NYT article by John Branch titled "Lost Brother in Yosemite/Dean Potter jumped. Graham Hunt followed. Potter’s longtime girlfriend snapped photographs. Then came confusion, hope and despair."

The writing style — "Unflinchingly, it approached... the thought drifting, unfinished..." — bugged the hell out of me, but refocus: There's interesting material about whether BASE jumping should be allowed in the National Parks, especially Yosemite, the best BASE jumping place in the world.
The frustration for Potter and other BASE advocates has been the apparent lack of consistency in park policies. It is generally legal to catch a fish but not to pick flowers. Horses are allowed on many trails, but mountain bikers are not. The Merced River is a jumble of colorful rafts carrying tourists; El Capitan is a dot-to-dot slate of climbers and ropes; and Yosemite even allows hang gliding on a limited basis off Glacier Point, not far from Taft Point. Potter was allowed to string tightropes between formations. But if he fell, it was illegal, in theory, to prevent his own death with a parachute.
Regulations. At least try to be consistent. Jumble of rafts tourists and dot-to-dots of climbers and ropes — that sounds bad. If that's allowed, things that seem less bad should be allowed... maybe. Do we want people to in the parks, using these grand landscapes or not?

Who are the right kind of people for the national parks? People who drive through and stop at the lookout points and maybe take a short hike where they stay on the trail? That's pretty much what I do. I'm into quiet contemplation of unspoiled beauty.

From a selfish perspective, I'd like rules — in these great gems of American scenery — that enforce reverence. But I'm a little too freedom-loving to want to wreck the fun of folks who like their rubber-raft thrill rides or whatever.

And yet, there's a part of me that identifies with the Malaysians who arrested a British tourist for responding to a mountain they regard as sacred by stripping off her clothes:
Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, the deputy first minister of neighbouring Sarawak state... told state media: "Some places have their own historical background and are sacred to the local community and, as such, visitors to these places should respect the place, the local traditions and cultures. If we go to a mountain, there is what I call a mountain protocol to be observed. We local people believe that there is someone, the guardians of these places, and there is a form of order of sacredness for those who go to the mountain to respect."...

"To appease the mountain protector, the 10 western tourists who stripped and urinated on Mount Kinabalu should be fined 10 head of buffalo, according to local customs," said Tindarama Aman Sirom Simbuna [a tribal elder]. He said the fee was more than the usual fine of 10 chickens or one pig. 'According to local beliefs, the spirit of the mountain is very angry. The tourists who angered the guardian of the mountain should pay for their mistakes by giving 'sogit’ (a peace offering)," he said.
The anger was manifest by an earthquake, and readers of the liked article, in the British press, are of course, expected to regard the reverence for the landscape as ignorant and to embrace the lovely, young, selfie-taking Westerner. Here she is in her "yoga pose":



Yoga is a way to look cute and free and flexible. A mountain is just a mountain and a bendy twisty pose is just exercise. Or it is whatever it is to you. Or when do you you rein yourself in a respect what others revere?  A raven, unflinchingly, approaches and the thought drifts, unfinishedly... yeah, it was God.

"A Manhattan man who lost his apartment after an Airbnb user threw an 'XXX freak fest' orgy there..."

"... said he's now homeless and 'blacklisted' from leasing apartments."
"I just don't know where I'm going to sleep next, and that's getting to be annoying," the comedian [Ari Teman, 33] told the Daily news....
Airbnb spokesman Jakob Kerr said the company "took immediate action to find Ari a safe place to stay and reimbursed him" over a year ago, and the man who rented his space was "permanently removed from our community."
But (if you read far enough into this article), you'll see that the Airbnb guest denies that that this orgy ever happened:

"How a history of eating human brains protected this tribe from brain disease."

A grisly but jaunty headline for a WaPo article that begins:
The sickness spread at funerals.

The Fore people, a once-isolated tribe in eastern Papua New Guinea, had a long standing tradition of mortuary feasts — eating the the dead from their own community at funerals. Men consumed the flesh of their deceased relatives, while women and children ate the brain. It was an expression of respect for the lost loved ones, but the practice wreaked havoc on the communities they left behind. That’s because a deadly molecule that lives in brains was spreading to the women who ate them, causing a horrible degenerative illness called “kuru” that at one point killed 2 percent of the population each year.
So brain-eating caused disease and the people who didn't die it but lived to propagate their genes passed on resistance. That's the kind of PR deadly diseases are always flogging.

If you get past the titillating native-rituals material, there's more to the story:

"The North-South Divide on Two-Parent Families....It’s not just a red-blue political divide..."

David Leonhardt reports in the NYT (with a map that vividly depicts the split).
The new geographic analysis comes from W. Bradford Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist, and Nicholas Zill, a psychologist.... Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Zill argue that there are actually two models for having a large share of stable families...

In the blue-state model, Americans get more education and earn higher income — and more educated, higher-earning people tend to marry and stay married.
This, they say, explains Minnesota, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
In the red-state model, educational attainment is closer to average, but “residents are more likely to have deep normative and religious commitments to marriage and to raising children within marriage,” write Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Zill.
This explains "much of the Great Plains and Mountain West, including Nebraska and Utah."

Did NPR host Diane Rehm just make an honest mistake when she said to Bernie Sanders "Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel..."?

Sanders corrected her, and she immediately stepped back saying, "I understand from a list we have gotten that you were on that list, forgive me if that is...."

Why would she say something wrong like that and embarrass herself if she weren't making an honest mistake? Why would she float an accusation right in front of Sanders, if she knew it was wrong, when he'd smack her down instantly?

I have here in my hand a list of journalists who are known to be fellow travelers of the Hillary Clinton campaign and who nevertheless are still working in mainstream media.

It was only last weekend that Bernie Sanders shocked the Clinton campaign in the Wisconsin straw poll by getting 41% to Hillary's 49%. He's not an amusing sideline anymore. What can be done to keep Democrats from drifting his way?

An outright lie about him doesn't work, does it? Well, yes it does! It made everyone take notice that Bernie Sanders is Jewish. He's not an Israeli citizen. That's cleared up, but the impression remains: He's Jewish. That stirs up any free-floating anti-Jewishness that may be useful to his opponent. It stirs up suspicion that Sanders feels affiliated with Israel in a way that is inconsistent with the American presidency. I'm sure many people hadn't even noticed that Sanders is Jewish, and now we all know that, and we know additional facts. From the first link above, which goes to Politico: "Sanders, who is Jewish, has visited Israel several times and spent several months working on a communal farm called a Kibbutz in the 1960s."

That's all powerfully useful to Hillary. Am I supposed to believe this was a mere oopsie by a nice old lady? She's 78, give her a pass? Did you know Diane Rehm is an Arab?

June 10, 2015

At the Wisconsin Supreme Court today, the new chief justice, Patience Roggensack, had to tell the old chief, Shirley Abrahamson, "You are out of order."

"You are out of order. ... I never did this to you when you operated as chief justice, to keep going back when you tried to move to an item on the agenda. You really need to give me the same courtesy, please."

Abrahamson — who is suing in federal court to get the position of chief justice back — answered: "But I never silenced anyone. I didn't call the question. I let everyone speak, but maybe that was not the right thing to do but that's what I did to everyone and I expect the same courtesy."

And then Roggensack said: "I run the meeting perhaps a little differently than you do."

I think it looked something like this:

What if Joyce Carol Oates told a joke...

... and nobody got it ... even though you had to go to this obvious joke even to see what she was talking about....

"I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor."

"I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right."

Said Tamikka Brents, a mixed martial arts competitor, who got a concussion and a broken eye socket in a fight with the transgender Fallon Fox.

Via Jaltcoh who asks "Anyone have a problem with this?"

"What it’s like, lately: He smacks my chest and says something unintelligible with growing urgency."

"If I don’t act, he cries a practiced cry of total betrayal, before which I am powerless. He tries to lift up or pull down my shirt, depending. I tug it down, maybe. He screams. I relent, pull out a boob, he lunges toward me with his mouth open wide. He latches onto me and then starts flinging his body from side to side on my lap, doing the dance of the satisfied. He stands up on me with my boob still in his mouth. He claws at my cleavage, pinches my other nipple with his tiny fingernails if I don’t keep it hidden. If I do, he tries to get at it, too, yanking at my shirt and my bra. He likes to pop back and forth between them, to collapse and fling and laugh and grab at my stomach..."

From "Does My Baby Only Like Me for My Boobs?"

A new PPP poll has Clinton losing Ohio by 7 points to Ohio Governor Kasich and by 3 points to Rand Paul.

Rubio ties her, and Walker, Carson, and Cruz are only one point behind. Bush has 2 points to make up, and Huckabee — a person I see as having no chance at all — trails by a mere 3 points.

(PDF.)

The get-Rubio movement.

We're seeing evidence of this movement this week with the NYT article "Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled by Financial Struggles" and last week's "Marco Rubio and His Wife Cited 17 Times for Traffic Infractions." These are ludicrously weak attacks. Rubio bought an $80,000 fishing boat (which the NYT called a "luxury speedboat") after he received an $800,000 and he chose to lease an Audi (a "luxury item") when he needed a car in 2015. And he's gotten 4 traffic tickets in 18 years. The main thing we learn from all that is that the NYT really wants to get him.

Let me take you back to May 22, when the NYT had a piece titled: "A Hillary Clinton Match-Up With Marco Rubio Is a Scary Thought for Democrats." ("Steve Schale, the Florida strategist who wrote the 'Marco Rubio scares me' blog post, said that when he worked for the Democratic leader of the Florida House of Representatives, his boss, Dan Gelber, had a saying about Mr. Rubio’s effect on crowds, and about his sincerity: 'Young women swoon, old women pass out, and toilets flush themselves.' And Mr. Gelber himself recalled the day in Tallahassee, Fla., in 2008 when he and Mr. Rubio, then the speaker of the State House, gave their farewell speeches. He spoke first, followed by Mr. Rubio, as Mr. Gelber’s wife looked on. 'She’s sitting there weeping,' Mr. Gelber recalled, still incredulous. 'And I look up, and I mouth, ‘Are you kidding me?'")

I recorded a Bloggingheads episode with Bob Wright on the day that "Marco Rubio is scary" NYT article came out, and I used it when Bob was talking about the idea that Marco Rubio is not the right kind of Hispanic:



A bit later in that discussion, I'm invited to predict who the GOP nominee will be, and I say Rubio:

"She said it was a grief haircut, not a 'Grease' haircut."

A correction in the NYT on an article titled "St. Vincent, an Experimenter in Music and in Makeup." The originally botched sentence is: "I got an unfortunate grief haircut over the holidays that I like to call 'Audrey Hepburn with an anger problem.'" I guess the transcriber was picturing this:



Now does that look like Audrey Hepburn with an anger problem?

"Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor shaved their faces..."

"... according to ['celebrity facialist' Kate] Somerville, who said that an aesthetician who worked with them told her. She declined to reveal which of her celebrity clients shave their faces, but said that she recommends it widely and that many comply."

ADDED: An Esquire cover from 1965:

More Jerry Seinfeld complaining about how political correctness is getting in the way of comedy.

Watch the clip, because Seinfeld quotes are best when heard (and, in fact, the audience laughs at many lines that would not read as humor at all):



Seinfeld had a joke about the way people scroll through their cellphones like "a gay French king" — a joke with a very funny gesture, but maybe audiences are indicating that they're not going to accept that kind of foolery anymore: "I could imagine a time where people say, ‘Well, that’s offensive to suggest that a gay person moves their hands in a flourishing motion and you now need to apologize.’ I mean, there’s a creepy PC thing out there that really bothers me."

The other guy on the show — the Seth Meyers show — is New Yorker editor David Remnick, and he lets on that he recently rejected an idea for a New Yorker cover that played on the Vanity Fair’s Caitlyn Jenner cover. Seinfeld — like any ordinary person — wanted to know what the idea was, and Remnick wouldn't tell. And then Meyers follows on: No jokes about Caitlyn Jenner. Not yet, at least. Jenner somehow won entitlement to a circle of seriousness. Seinfeld doesn't like it, but he lets Remnick and Meyers off the hook, seemingly on the theory that eventually Jenner will be mockable.

ADDED: I'm trying to guess what the rejected New Yorker cover was. (I think Remnick called is a "misfire.") I'm thinking it was putting somebody else in the same costume and pose used for Jenner. Maybe Obama? Lindsey Graham? Or maybe flipping it and showing a woman — Hillary is the most obvious choice — wearing clothing that is as masculine as Jenner's satin bathing suit was feminine and striking a pose that is as masculine as Jenner's twisty cringe was feminine.

AND: My proposal is to show Hillary's people — desperate and furious — looking at the Jenner cover and trying to outfit and pose Hillary like this:



But get rid of the cigarette. Replace that with... oh, what can we replace that with?... A carrot!

"But is humour a useful tool in an anti-Isis campaign?"

Asks Roula Khalaf at The Financial Times.
Before Isis exploded on to the scene, experts at Demos, a British think-tank, argued that antiterrorism policies should include humour to expose a terrorist organisation (at that time they were referring to al-Qaeda) as ridiculous. Citing how humour was used as a potent weapon against the British Fascist party in the 1930s, they said al-Qaeda’s image as a “tough guy” gang could be countered by showing the group’s incompetence.

Maybe so. But it’s not easy to draw the line between what is funny and what will be seen as offensive to victims of Isis. And some of what is online, including the unexpected jihad memes, is more distasteful than comical. As Simon Cottee, a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent, wrote in The Atlantic: “We can certainly make fun of Isis but its very outlandishness narrows the scope of humorous material.”

"Pat Robertson Tells Grieving Mother Her Dead Baby Could’ve Grown Up to Be Hitler."

A headline at Mediaite. What Robertson said — when I woman asked how a good God could have let her 3-year-old child die — was:
As far as God’s concerned, He knows the end from the beginning and He sees a little baby and that little baby could grow up to be Adolf Hitler, he could grow up to be Joseph Stalin, he could grow up to be some serial killer, or he could grow up to die of a hideous disease. God sees all of that, and for that life to be terminated while he’s a baby, he’s going to be with God forever in Heaven so it isn’t a bad thing.
He could have made his theological points more clearly and he could have been gentler to the poor mother, but Mediate goes overboard. For one thing, Robertson didn't say that God took her baby because it "could've grown up to be Hitler." He's circling around some pretty conventional ideas: We can't know why God does what he does — allowing bad people to live and good people to die. And: When little children die, they go to Heaven.

Mediaite goes on question "this logic":
If Robertson’s version of God truly can see what he says He can see, then why didn’t he kill Hitler, Stalin, or all those serial killers while they were children? Did he see them draw a pretty picture or save a puppy from a fire and then assume that they wouldn’t [would've?] go on to become evil, so He spared them? Because that’s seems a bit short of seeing “the end from the beginning.”
That's just atheist talk, essentially mocking (or failing to understand) the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.

"We don’t yet have a complete strategy," but Obama about to send 500 more troops into Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal reports:
President Barack Obama is poised to send hundreds more American military advisers to a new base in a strategic Iraqi region to help devise a counterattack against marauding Islamic State militants, U.S. officials said Tuesday, a shift that underscores American concern over recent battlefield losses....

"Like the pay phone and pager before it, voice mail is on its way out."

I'm sure you don't need to read the article to know why.

Why would anyone leave voicemail when they could email (or text)?

"We’ll have a rotating first lady."

Said Lindsey Graham, who's running for President in the strange condition of being unmarried. I'm saying strange, because we haven't had an unmarried President since Woodrow Wilson's wife died, while he was President, and he got a new wife a year later. So Wilson was the opposite of a celibate kind of man. For that, we must go back to James Buchanan and Grover Cleveland.

Buchanan, President from 1857 to 1861, is the only President to remain unmarried his whole life, though he did have a close relationship with another man, William Rufus King:
The two men lived together in a Washington boardinghouse for 10 years from 1834 until King's departure for France in 1844. King referred to the relationship as a "communion", and the two attended social functions together.... Andrew Jackson called them "Miss Nancy" and "Aunt Fancy" (the former being a 19th-century euphemism for an effeminate man), while Aaron V. Brown referred to King as Buchanan's "better half"....

In May 1844, Buchanan wrote to Cornelia Roosevelt, "I am now 'solitary and alone', having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone, and [I] should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection."
Cleveland is more recent. President from 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897, he was unmarried when first elected, but, after using his sister in the First Lady role for the first 2 years, he got married to a woman who was only 21. He was 49 and President of the United States. How's that for a power imbalance in marriage? The woman, Frances Folsom, was the daughter of his friend Oscar Folsom:
This marriage was unusual, since Cleveland was the executor of Oscar Folsom's estate and had supervised Frances' upbringing after her father's death; nevertheless, the public took no exception to the match.
Just imagine how the media would react today.



They had 5 children, including "Baby" Ruth...



... who was not the source of the name for the Baby Ruth candy bar, though the Curtiss Candy Company claimed she was when they renamed their Kandy Kake bar in 1921, right when baseball's Babe Ruth was huge. An epic denial.

But let's return to the denial that is celibacy. Is it denial to eschew marriage? Have you ever read the notes Charles Darwin wrote to himself as he pondered the pros and cons of marriage? From the "pro" column:
Constant companion,(& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one,— object to be beloved & played with.— —better than a dog anyhow.— Home, & someone to take care of house— Charms of music & female chit-chat.— These  things good for one’s health.— but terrible loss of time. —
Better than a dog anyhow.... Lindsey could just get a rotating dog....

June 9, 2015

"HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR."

Arguably the greatest headline of all time (especially if greatness is measured by memorability out of proportion to the significance of the news that was reported).

Written for The New York Post in 1983, by editor Vincent Musetto, who has died at the age of 74, and has a nice, long obituary in the NYT.
(The corresponding headline in The New York Times that day proclaimed, genteelly, “Owner of a Bar Shot to Death; Suspect Is Held.” Headlessness was not mentioned until the third paragraph; toplessness not at all.)

Mr. Musetto’s headline, exquisitely emblematic of The Post under Rupert Murdoch, quickly insinuated itself into popular culture.... But... it was not Mr. Musetto’s favorite among the many headlines he wrote for the paper. That honor, he often said, went to one composed the next year: “GRANNY EXECUTED IN HER PINK PAJAMAS.”

Maybe Hillary's giant-gaping-collar costume was supposed to remind us of Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn.

That's Neo-Neocon's theory, and she's got the pictures to prove it.

Maybe that's what Hillary's stylists were going for, but it badly misses the mark because of the glossy fabric and the menswear collar. And because it's a blouse. Jackie and Audrey are wearing jackets — jackets made of stiff fabric, probably wool. There's no shirtliness about their garments. Jackie's neckline has the look of a folded-over cowl and Audrey's is as plain as possible, like a sliced-off pipe. Both women look encased. The neckline seems wide so they can retract their cute heads into the shell if they needed to for protection. It's darling (possibly) but not at all presidential.

"Teenage American Civil War buff Bill Martin was fascinated by a legend of soldiers at the battle of Shiloh whose wounds glowed an eerie blue-green at night..."

"... and who subsequently had better recoveries, a phenomenon dubbed 'the angel's glow.' He knew from his microbiologist mom's work that some soil bacteria were bioluminescent, and wondered if there could be a connection. Turns out, yes there probably was!"

"Sakai is now part of the Virgin Academia program and goes to life drawing classes, sketching naked women..."

"... as he begins to understand the female body and what he could aim for in the future."
"The first time I did this, in autumn last year, oh . . . I was so amazed. Their bodies are incredibly beautiful. There is no need to be so pessimistic... After all, being a virgin isn't fatal."

"Oh, God save us. What have they done?!!!"/"Crazy b******s!!! This is the end."

Tweets from Tyumen in south central Russia, where a big cloud looked like a nuclear explosion. 

ADDED: Irene photographed a very similar cloud in Verona, Wisconsin back in 2011.

"The married woman prison worker, 51, suspected of helping 'Shawshank' escapees break out after being lured by 'handsome, womanizing' double murderer and his cop killer friend."

A Daily Mail headline.

A description of the woman:
Mitchell, a registered Republican lives in a two-story gray home with a 'Don't Tread on Me' Gadsden Flag — made popular by the Tea Party movement — flying out front. The Stars and Stripes and a U.S. Air Force flag are also on show, according to the Press Republican newspaper.... There was speculation she may have fallen for Matt's good looks, with the source saying he 'had a way with the ladies'.

"What’s different in this instance, is this conversation is tied to ideas of authentication: 'What is authentically a woman?'"

"There is this idea, this notion that there is this one specific experience that all – all – non-transgender women must have, and that transgender women can never have. So [exclusionary feminists] couch it in terms of being born a woman – that there is one essence of woman somewhere out there that’s either experiential, or somehow physical, or spiritual."

Said Cristan Williams, editor of TransAdvocate.com, quoted in a Christian Science Monitor article titled "What does being a woman mean? Caitlyn Jenner’s emergence rekindles debate./Some radical feminists say that males who transition to females can hardly embody the unique experiences, both physically and culturally, that constitute being an authentic female."

Does being a woman mean something or not? Or are we seeing a fight over a middle ground, where being a woman matters, but only in some ways, and it's a struggle over drawing the line around which ways matter. 

"Friend, will you come shooting with me?"

Email from Ted Cruz.
... Click here now to enter for a chance to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights and come shooting with me... After you've entered, make a generous Shoot With Ted contribution of $35, $50, $100 or more to my campaign. Together we can reignite the promise of America and bring true, conservative leadership to the White House....

"All the other cops came across great on camera. They were relaxed and calmly in control. It was, after all, just a bunch of kids."

"Then there was the one cop running around like a paranoid lunatic who'd just had a Red Bull enema. I don't think that video portrays the police in a bad light. Just that one looped out cop."/"There's a longer video on YouTube that starts off with him literally doing a running barrel roll. I am not kidding. It's ridiculous. He acted like a lunatic all right."

The top-rated comment (and a follow-on comment) at a WaPo article titled "Didn’t the McKinney,Texas police officer know he was being recorded?"

"Last fall, I wrote about a young man named Kalief Browder, who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime. "

Writes Jennifer Gonnerman, in a new New Yorker piece, an update on Browder, who has now killed himself.
That afternoon, at about 12:15 P.M., he went into another bedroom, pulled out the air conditioner, and pushed himself out through the hole in the wall, feet first, with a cord wrapped around his neck. His mother was the only other person home at the time. After she heard a loud thumping noise, she went upstairs to investigate, but couldn’t figure out what had happened. It wasn’t until she went outside to the backyard and looked up that she realized that her youngest child had hanged himself.

June 8, 2015

I asked for an explanation of Hillary's giant-gaping-collar costume, and you answered!

Here's where I ask, and here's the puzzling outfit:



I'm going to say right off the bat, my favorite — because it made me laugh a lot and because it's pretty damned arty — comes from Unknown, who remembered this get-up worn by the actor Emil Jannings in the 1930 movie "The Blue Angel":



And extra points to Eric the Fruit Bat for subtlety, saying "I'll let the link do the talking" and taking us here:



And to m stone for having the same idea but spelling out the functionality of a big, gaping collar: "The collar is designed to accept the bubble helmet that is worn with it." He chooses "the Alan Shepherd model":



Then we've got 2 from "Star Trek," from Quaestor and madAsHell, respectively:





The first guy is doing especially well in the gaping collar department, while the second one connects with the medallion around the neck.

And, also with a bold medallion, it's the Emperor Ming, from yoobee:



ObeliskToucher said "She's Sontaran, obviously...":



And finally — also getting a LOL from me — Joe Schmoe said "I thought she was going for the turtle look":


"It is a joke. It is nothing serious. Now it looks Japanese: large dishes, small portions, no taste, but very expensive."

Said Roger Vergé, in 1985, about what had happened to the nouvelle cuisine movement he had founded back in the 1960s. Originally, called "the cuisine of the sun" and "happy cuisine," it was based on the cooking of his mother and his Aunt Célestine, in Provence. It was "the antithesis of cooking to impress — rich and pretentious." It was "a light-hearted, healthy and natural way of cooking which combines the products of the earth like a bouquet of wild flowers from the garden."

 Roger Vergé died last week at the age of 85.

Can anybody explain Hillary's giant-gaping-collar costume?



It's like an old-fashioned satin blouse for a person with an insanely giant neck... perhaps the Incredible Hulk on a day when he's feeling girly and is tired of the color green.



And she's wearing a medal around her neck. Is this a costume for a cameo role in some sci-fi movie about a dystopian future America?

I don't know, but Drudge has chosen the goofball photo go with his headline: "NADER: MACHO HILLARY USED MILITARY TO 'OVERCOMPENSATE' FOR GENDER," which goes to PJ Media, where Ralph Nader is quoted saying :
"This is the problem of women trying to overcompensate in becoming more aggressive and macho so they are not accused of being soft on the need to kill and war, right? Instead of taking the tradition of women of peace, and turning into a muscular waging of peace of conflict and prevention, she [Clinton] did the reverse, and [Madeline] Albright did the reverse and Anne Marie Slaughter did the reverse and some of Obama’s advisers did the reverse."
So muscular, but not macho is how Ralph likes his women. Should we jump on Ralph for this stew of sexism? Or should we let loose and analyze all the teeming genderosity of everything political? Does Hillary have immunity from any criticism that purports to understand her psyche in terms of its essential femininity? We are currently soaking in a vat of cultural ferment in which there are female brains and male brains. Should we eschew it or can we talk about it? And don't tell me the answer is that you can do it if (and only if) you do it (like Ralph) from the left.

IN THE COMMENTS: So many great and hilarious answers to the question in the post title that I had to do a new post: here

The President, not the Congress, gets to decide whether a person born in Jerusalem can have his place of birth listed on his passport as Israel.

Here's the PDF of Zivotofsky v. Kerry, which just came out. There's a majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, with 5 votes. The Chief Justice writes a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Alito. Justice Scalia has a dissenting opinion, joined by the Chief and Justice Alito. And Justice Thomas concurs in part and dissents in part.

Justice Kennedy uses the 3 categories from Justice Jackson's opinion in Youngstown. This is a category 3 case, where the President and Congress are in disagreement, but the President's position prevails when the court finds the President's power "exclusive" and "conclusive." That was the case here, Kennedy writes, where the issue is the formal recognition of a foreign sovereign, and Congress was trying to require the President to "issue a formal statement that contradicts the earlier recognition."

"History's Worst Political Photo Ops."

Funny... but where's the one with Cuomo and the manhole?

ADDED: "Better jump down a manhole/Light yourself a candle/Don’t wear sandals/Try to avoid the scandals..."

"Why Indigenous Cultures Don't Have Back Pain."

"'That S shape is actually not natural... It's a J-shaped spine that you want.'... [I]t's not that the J-shaped spine is the ideal one — or the healthiest. It's what goes into making the J-shaped spine that matters: 'You have to use muscle strength to get your spine to look like a J shape'...."

From an article at NPR.org that includes 5 tips for getting to J.

Shaft... Shafter... Shaftest....

"Sate bullet train officials have cut eight miles of track from an initial 130-mile section of construction in the Central Valley as a result of legal disputes with local cities. Instead of ending in the outskirts of Bakersfield, the rail work will now stop just north of Shafter. A still-pending legal battle also could eliminate a proposed elevated structure that would have carried high-speed trains through Shafter's downtown...."

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged."

Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Secretary of State Robert Gates in "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" (p. 60):
The difficulty of extending the surge to September 2007 (when Petraeus would submit his report on progress), much less to the spring of 2008, was underscored by the rhetoric coming from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The frequently used line “We support the troops” coupled with “We totally disagree with their mission” cut no ice with people in uniform. Our kids on the front lines were savvy; they would ask me why the politicians didn’t understand that, in the eyes of the troops, support for them and support for their mission were tied together. But the comments that most angered me were those full of defeatism— sending the message to the troops that they couldn’t win and, by implication, were putting their lives on the line for nothing. The worst of these comments came in mid-April from the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, who said in a press conference, “This war is lost” and “The surge is not accomplishing anything.” I was furious and shared privately with some of my staff a quote from Abraham Lincoln I had written down long before: “Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.” Needless to say, I never hinted at any such feelings publicly, but I had them nonetheless.

"When I was young and first read the book I was immersed in the Boulder counterculture where madness was regarded as a liberating experience and being clinically insane was thought to be kind of cool."

"Of course those who believed this nonsense had never experienced real insanity first-hand. They only knew about it from reading bullshit authors like Ken Kesey, R.D. Laing, Charles Reich, and Theodore Roszak, among others. Pirsig was not a bullshit author but it seems that most of his readers (myself included) misinterpreted his writing and placed him in the 'madness-is-subversive-and-liberating' crowd. The fact that his descent into madness was a function of his study of the Tao greatly enhanced his appeal, since Eastern religions and philosophies enjoyed great cachet at the time. Which is to say, it was very hip of Pirsig to be driven crazy by the intensity of a mystical experience induced by his Taoist studies. Most people had to swallow heavy doses of LSD to have that experience, and he did it 'naturally'! What a lucky guy! What silly, frivolous, dangerous times those were. What a stupid time."

Writes Roughcoat in the comments to "Mr. Huntington built the treehouses over several months last year with the help of what he called a 'bronado' of friends," where the topic turned to "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

There's also discussion of "man caves" that begins with "Guys are so desperate to find a place to get away from women that it has come to this. How come we never hear about 'woman caves'?" and moves on to "There are no 'women caves' because women dominate every other space in the universe." Which incites Freeman Hunt to say: "I thought it was because women aren't so gauche as to demand a room in the limited space of the house that is only for themselves."

"Still, a local blog directly blamed the shaming video for Laxamana’s suicide."

"And on a Facebook page called 'Justice for Izabel,' commenters called for the father to be prosecuted or publicly shamed himself. The video is just the latest in a growing trend of 'shaming' videos, in which angry parents around the country seek to discipline disobedient children by filming their humiliation. The videos are then uploaded to Web sites like YouTube or Facebook where the child’s friends can watch. Laxamana’s original 'shaming' video has been removed from the Internet, but a bootleg recording of the video appears to show Laxamana in her family’s garage. Sporting a fresh, jagged haircut, she stares at the camera as a man, reportedly her father Jeff, films her. 'The consequences of getting messed up, man, you lost all that beautiful hair,' he says. The camera then pans down to a tangle of black hair on the ground. 'Was it worth it?' the man says. 'No,' Laxamana replies faintly. 'How many times did I warn you?' he asks. 'A lot,' she says in a near whisper."

From a WaPo piece called "'I could have died too' says driver hit by 'shamed' girl who jumped from bridge."

As for the call to publicly shame the father, this is already the public shaming of the father, the father who lost his 13-year-old child.

June 7, 2015

"The governor marveled at the particulars of the escape, in which the two inmates had cut through a steel wall of their adjacent cells..."

"... shinnied down a series of internal catwalks, and burrowed their way more than a city block away before emerging from a manhole. Mr. Cuomo said that there had been a number of contractors working in the facility, and that the escapees’ work may have been safeguarded by the silence of other prisoners.... 'When you look at how the operation was done, it was extraordinary,' Mr. Cuomo said...."

From a NYT article titled "With Power Tools and a Ruse, 2 Killers Escape New York Prison."

Another entry in the reconsidering-the-70s series.

Last week, you may remember, Meade pushed me to reconsider America. The band, America. I scoffed, because I scoffed back in the 70s. Today — on my own, unprompted by Meade, just based on hearing this song on the satellite radio — I want to take you back to the utterly douchey charming music of Loggins and Messina:



"Love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup/Drink it up..."

ADDED: I'd heard this song many times, but for some reason it was a complete surprise to me that it was called "Danny's Song." Somebody should make a list of songs with titles that don't pop up anywhere in the lyrics. Speaking of lyrics, there's a line "Seems as though, a month ago, I was Beta Chi/Never got high." What's Beta Chi? A fraternity? Googling I got to the amusing Urban Dictionary definition: "a word used by kenny loggins in his version of 'danny's song.'" There's a second definition, and it's twice as down-voted as up-voted so I won't quote it. Ah, a little more searching and I get a message board discussing the lyric and somebody says: "Dan Loggins was my fraternity brother in Beta Chi at Cal State University in Los Angeles in the mid 60's. Hope this sheds some light on this subject."

"I know there is serious concern among the faculty about the changes in tenure and governance proposed by the Legislature."

Writes University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank in a letter emailed to the faculty just now. (and posted here):
This is not surprising, given the lack of any consultation with higher education leaders or with the public prior to announcing these changes.

The proposal would remove tenure from state statute. I am pleased that the Board of Regents voted Friday to adopt into Regent policy the language establishing tenure that previously existed in state statute. We can discuss the pros and cons of having tenure established in statutory versus Regental policy, and I recognize that many faculty are worried about this change. This is a conversation we need to have. Almost all of our peers have long operated with tenure policies established by their governing boards.

Question: "Why is Barack Obama drinking beer at 11am?"

Answer: He's in Bavaria, acting Bavarian.
Angela Merkel... treated him to a full Bavarian breakfast of white sausages, pretzels and foaming lager... Bavarians don’t down a quick pint before heading to the office every morning. It originates in Frühschoppen — a local tradition of meeting for a drink late in the morning on Sundays and holidays. According to Bavarian custom, the sausages cannot be eaten after 12 noon, because no preservatives are used and they are made fresh every day. Therefore those who wish to wash their sausages down with a beer must get supping before that time. The local saying is that the sausages must not be allowed to hear the church bells chime noon.
I have too many Obama tags already and it's too late in The Story of Barack Obama to make an "Obama eats food" tag, so I'm just going with the closest thing I've got. It begins with "Obama eats..." anyway. Too bad I don't have "Obama drinks beer." There was that famous "beer summit" that maybe half of the people have forgotten by now. That would have been the time to create an "Obama drinks beer" tag. So I'm going with "Obama and drugs." Close enough, no?

Politico: "The man to beat in Iowa: Scott Walker."

"He is reluctant to embrace the front-runner’s mantle. But his Iowa roots, plain-spoken style, and familiarity as the governor next door have made him a force in the key early state."
The governor’s day began at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Des Moines — right in his comfort zone. A longtime motorcycle enthusiast who counts himself as the proud owner of a Harley Road King, Walker arrived wearing blue jeans, black gloves and boots, and a Harley-Davidson jacket. While other Republican candidates held their own events nearby, only Walker availed himself of the chance to ride with Ernst, trailed by several hundred bikers, on a 39-mile ride through the roads of central Iowa.
A the link: a photo of lots of photographers getting their shot of Walker in the motorcycle getup.

Big-fin nostalgia.

P1140173

On State Street, yesterday.

"Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court has upheld the sentence of 1,000 lashes and 10 years of imprisonment on blogger Raif Badawi..."

"Speaking from Canada, his wife Ensaf Haidar told news agency AFP, 'this is a final decision that is irrevocable.'"
In 2012, Badawi was arrested and charged with "insulting Islam through electronic channels". For four years he had been running the Liberal Saudi Network, which encouraged online debate on religious and political issues.... Saudi Arabia enforces a strict version of Islamic law and does not tolerate political dissent....

"Milo Yiannopoulos watches Emma Sulkowicz's new sex tape so you don't have to."

Writes Instapundit, who includes 4 paragraphs of Yiannopoulos's Breitbart article. I've read Instapundit, so does that mean I don't have to read Yiannopoulos? Can I get 2 layers of protection? I don't want to watch any porn, let alone some young feminist artist's self-porn. I'm no Sulkowicz fan, but from what Instapundit includes, I'm no Yiannopoulos fan either:
It’s revealing of her vanity that she insists on being filmed from four angles. Every crevasse of her unappealing naked body must be considered. Her congressional interlocutor is a gruesome sight in three dimensions, chosen, probably, to make young Emma look thinner. Which doesn’t work, I’m sorry to say.... But you do at least have to give an actress credit for doing nude scenes with a man who has larger breasts than she does....
I'm not entertained by the straining at humor that comes in the form of jocose phraseology like "congressional interlocutor." And criticism of Sulkowicz's body is counterproductive to any point worth making. But I do click over there and funnily enough I see that I still have 2 layers of protection. Yiannopoulos begins:
In preparing for this review, my researcher had to watch Emma Sulkowicz, a.k.a. “Mattress Girl,” perform fellatio on an overweight man eleven times. He tells me that he is now seriously considering homosexuality.
So Yiannopoulos did not watch Emma Sulkowicz's new sex tape so we don't have to. Yiannopoulos got an assistant to do the scut work. Why reveal that you don't do your own research? Apparently, it's to get off a stupid (and very old joke) about homosexuality.

ADDED: I see that Yiannopoulos identifies himself as "a queer." That makes the joke about "considering homosexuality" seem less homophobic and the criticism of the woman's body... different. And I'm puzzled about whether Yiannopoulos watched some or all of the video along with the male heterosexual assistant who — for reasons I don't quite understand — "had to watch" Sulkowicz "perform fellatio" 11 times. Did Yiannopoulos force the man to watch the video? Did he force him to watch it 11 times or did Sulkowicz perform fellatio 11 times in one video? I'm assuming it's one or the other of those 2 options because 11 is a prime number. I'm confused! I can't believe I got myself mired in something I was trying to avoid. I don't watch porn and I don't like to hear the details of what's in porn (unless it's on the level of David Foster Wallace in "Big Red Son").

IN THE COMMENTS: I wrote:
Based on those articles in Breitbart and The Daily Caller and some of these comments, I suspect that Sulkowicz's performance art isn't so much the video, but the commentary that will come out around it. She's making this happen. You are performing as anticipated. Enjoy being part of the show, you knuckleheads.

"Do women and men have different brains?"

"Back when Lawrence H. Summers was president of Harvard and suggested that they did, the reaction was swift and merciless. Pundits branded him sexist. Faculty members deemed him a troglodyte. Alumni withheld donations. But when Bruce Jenner said much the same thing in an April interview with Diane Sawyer, he was lionized for his bravery, even for his progressivism. 'My brain is much more female than it is male,' he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender...."

From a NYT op-ed by Elinor Burkett called "What Makes a Woman?" Read the whole thing. Burkett makes a lot of points, though virtually nothing the actual organ, the brain. Burkett finds a neuroscientist to quote who asserts that that "the difference between male and female brains are caused by the 'drip, drip, drip' of the gendered environment." Focused on preserving the success of the women's movement, Burkett ends up here:
The struggle to move beyond [gender] stereotypes is far from over, and trans activists could be women’s natural allies moving forward. So long as humans produce X and Y chromosomes that lead to the development of penises and vaginas, almost all of us will be “assigned” genders at birth. But what we do with those genders — the roles we assign ourselves, and each other, based on them — is almost entirely mutable.
This NYT piece does have a comments section. By far, the most up-voted comment is: "I was disappointed that Caitlyn Jenner came out as a sexpot. A stereotypically male stereotypical vision of what a woman is."

"The stoke-the-base approach is a hallmark of Mrs. Clinton’s young campaign manager, Mr. Mook."

"By emphatically staking out liberal positions on gay rights, immigration, criminal justice, voting rights and pay equity for women, Mrs. Clinton is showing core Democratic constituencies that she intends to give them a reason to support her. It is a starkly different style from that of Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 campaign, when she was often concerned about being seen as too liberal to appeal to centrists... 'The highest-premium voter in ’92 was a voter who would vote for one party some and for another party some,' said James Carville, Mr. Clinton’s chief strategist in 1992. 'Now the highest-premium voter is somebody with a high probability to vote for you and low probability to turn out. That’s the golden list. And that’s a humongous change in basic strategic doctrine.'"

From a NYT article — with (annoyingly)  no comments section — titled "Hillary Clinton Traces Friendly Path, Troubling Party."