September 5, 2015

I was tempted to write: Authenticity. If you can fake that, you've got it made...

... in the context of this morning's post, "Can Mommy Bloggers Still Make a Living?," about the troubles a mommy blogger has adapting to "native" advertising, that is, monetizing the blog by accepting money to promote products in what looks like regular blog posts. For a mommy blogger, that means integrating your writing about your children with praise for various foods, cleaning products, and what-all. The famous mommy blogger Heather Armstrong said: "The problem is I have to give my readers what they want, I have to give the brand what they want, and I have to be authentic to who I am. And combining all three of those needs is so so so exhausting that I was having panic attacks routinely."

The famous quote is, actually, "Sincerity. If you can fake that, you've got it made." Wait. Sidetrack: What's the difference between "authenticity" and "sincerity"? I ask the question out loud and then answer it before Meade takes a shot at it. I say, "'Sincerity' is when you believe your own bullshit," then add, "You know, sincerity is a big topic I teach about in Religion and the Constitution." That's a topic I've discussed here. It's my absolute favorite topic in law teaching. "Authenticity" is more objective: Are you really what you purport to be?

Anyway, the famous quote is attributed to George Burns. Interestingly, last night I watched an episode of the old Burns and Allen TV show — this one (the only one filmed in color):

The reason I watched that was that I was thinking about Gracie Allen because the new puppy — blogged just below this post — is named Gracie. "Was she named after the great comedienne?" I asked the kids, who didn't know, but said another possibility had been Lucy — strong evidence of yes.

The new puppy.


Note that the title of this post is "The new puppy" — not "The new puppy!"


What's going on?


The agenda:

"The Smashing Trumpkins."

"Billy Corgan applauds Trump for ‘f—ing’ up the political class."

"Can Mommy Bloggers Still Make a Living?"

A piece in The Atlantic — focusing on Heather Armstrong ("Dooce") and the problem of "native" advertising:
“My readers see sponsored content and they want to close the browser immediately,” she said. “The problem is I have to give my readers what they want, I have to give the brand what they want, and I have to be authentic to who I am. And combining all three of those needs is so so so exhausting that I was having panic attacks routinely.”

Over the years, advertisers increasingly wanted Armstrong to post photos of her family using their products. But if [her daughters] Leta and Marlo didn’t want to do that activity that particular day, Armstrong felt tempted to pressure them to do it anyway so she could fulfill her advertiser obligations...

“I wrote a blog because it was fun, and I loved doing it,” she said. “Then it became my job and I hated it. You never want to get to the point where you’re like ‘Ugh I have to go do that thing that I love? Ughhhh.’”
ADDED: There's a larger problem here, beyond making your money as a mommy blogger and beyond blogging and advertising, and that's making a living doing what you love. It seems obviously good to love your work, but that doesn't mean that if you love something that is not your source of income that you'll be happy if only you can generate income through it. You might do better getting your income from something else — which it would be nice to love to some extent — but to keep your truest loves disconnected from your need for income. The word "amateur" is built on "love" (amare)

West Point pillow fight ends with 24 concussions, a broken leg, and dislocated shoulders.

"Colonel Kasker said the annual fight is organized by first-year students as a way to build camaraderie after the summer program that prepares them for the rigors of plebe year."
Photos posted later on Twitter show plebes, as freshmen are called, with bloody faces and bloody pillows, and at least one person being loaded into an ambulance.

“My plebe was knocked unconscious and immediately began fighting when he came to,” an unnamed upperclassman, who was apparently observing from the sidelines, wrote on the social media forum Yik Yak. “I was so proud I could cry.”
ADDED: "But this year the fight on the West Point, N.Y., campus turned bloody as some cadets swung pillowcases packed with hard objects, thought to be helmets...."

That made me think of the old Freakonomics episode, "The Dangers of Safety":
Modern [football] helmets do a good job of preventing skull fractures and on-field deaths: that’s why those numbers are way down historically. But getting lots of concussions isn’t very healthy either. To prevent them, Dr. Cantu could make a more cushioned helmet — but then you might be more worried about skull fractures again. And then there’s this problem: if you did give football players a more heavily cushioned helmet, what are they going to do with it? A lot of people think the biggest problem in the game today is that players use their helmets not so much as protection … but as a weapon.

"I was in a deli, and a man may have cut in front of me in line. When asked if he had, I said: 'I don’t argue over such things. He can go ahead.'"

"The man replied: 'You don’t argue over such things? That’s why you’re fat.' I said, 'You’ll end up in a courtroom.' He replied: 'Good! I’m a lawyer.' I said, 'Well, I am a judge.' The conversation devolved until he accused me of racism. Apparently, he was Hispanic; I hadn’t noticed. But when did it become O.K. to pick on someone’s physical imperfections but not sexual orientation or race?"

A question actually asked of the NYT etiquette columnist, who said:
Are you honestly suggesting that the takeaway from your idiotic spat is that racism trumps fat-shaming? From my perch, both of you acted like lunatics who need to work on impulse control.
The columnist assumes the letter-writer is not a judge. That never occurred to me, but I do think a judge shouldn't be using "I am a judge" to get the upper hand in a conversation with a stranger. I wish I had the confidence in judges that would cause me to read the statement "I am a judge" to mean the person is not a judge. 

"The fanny pack is not just useful; it’s a unifying force."

"Just look at the diversity of those who embrace it. Couture runways like Chanel and Gucci have been littered with them in recent years, Matthew McConaughey endorses them, quarterbacks rely on them, the wrestler Mick Foley hid chicken wings in them and tweaked-out E.D.M. festivalgoers would be lost (and less high) without them.... The fanny pack is utilitarian by design and aspirational in application, because a hands-free life is an engaged life — a life worth living...."

That's at the NYT, where one of the comments is: "I never did understand the objections. Who doesn't appreciate a sexy leather tool belt slung low on the hip? Why, they're mesmerizing! It's the same thing. Makes you sashay a bit...."

But: "Small cross-body bags are the only way to go. All the ease of a fanny pack and you don't look like a dork." I recommend something like this (unless you're out hiking or something).

To avoid performing same-sex weddings, a judge stopped performing all weddings, and now he's under investigation by a a judicial fitness commission.

Marion County Judge Vance Day "made a decision nearly a year ago to stop doing weddings altogether, and the principal factor that he weighed was the pressure that one would face to perform a same-sex wedding, which he had a conflict with his religious beliefs," a spokesman told AP.
The issue of same-sex weddings is "the weightiest" of several allegations against Day that are being investigated by the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability, [the spokesman] said....

Last month, the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Professional Conduct said judges can't refuse to marry same-sex couples on personal, moral or religious grounds. Judges who stop performing all marriages to avoid marrying same-sex couples may be interpreted as biased and could be disqualified from any case where sexual orientation is an issue, the Ohio board ruled.
There's an important line to be drawn here, and it's not clear from the article what the Board of Professional Conduct is doing. We're hearing from the judge's spokesperson about an investigation in which there are a number of allegations. What are they? And it's one thing to say that after a judge opts out of performing all weddings because of opposition to same-sex marriage, he should be disqualified from ruling in cases where sexual orientation is an issue. It's quite another to say that a judge is unfit because he's stopped performing weddings.

40 years ago today: Squeaky Fromme, 2 feet away from President Ford, points a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

A Secret Service agent grabbed the gun, which contained bullets, but had no bullet in its chamber.

Last year, a tape of her interview with a mental health examiner was released. In the interview, done shortly after her arrest, Fromme explained the "X" mark that she and other followers of Charles Manson had on their foreheads:
"Well, it has different levels. On one level it is a cross that's a following cross. On another level it is an 'X' and the 'X' is we are marked out of the system as it stands. We don't go along with it."
She commented on her use of LSD:
"I became aware of the possibilities of different realities as seen through different eyes, as seen through the Chicanos for example. I traveled in my mind into their world, the east Los Angeles. And then I traveled into the ghetto and I traveled into high society."
Here's some video containing interviews with Ford and Fromme looking back on the incident. Notable quote from from: "Of course, I could have shot him, and to me, his life didn't mean more to the redwoods to me."

The comments there (at YouTube) don't take assassination too seriously: "She didn't kill anyone." "Fuck. We could have been rid of that dip-shit." Even those who seem to take it seriously can't be serious: "She remains unrepentant of her actions and her mullet."

Fromme is now 66 years old. She's been out of prison since 2009.

September 4, 2015

"​The one good thing to come out of DeflateGate? This killer navy suit."

"After Tom Brady's four-game suspension was nullified by a federal judge earlier today, the man took a victory lap in his finest outfit. Here's a play-by-play..."

"Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit."

"Most people agree that the hit-to-kill phenomenon stems at least in part from perverse laws on victim compensation. In China the compensation for killing a victim in a traffic accident is relatively small—amounts typically range from $30,000 to $50,000—and once payment is made, the matter is over. By contrast, paying for lifetime care for a disabled survivor can run into the millions. The Chinese press recently described how one disabled man received about $400,000 for the first 23 years of his care. Drivers who decide to hit-and-kill do so because killing is far more economical. Indeed, Zhao Xiao Cheng—the man caught on a security camera video driving over a grandmother five times—ended up paying only about $70,000 in compensation...."

More at the link, including gruesome descriptions of drivers who, having hit a person by accident, proceed to drive over him repeatedly to get a dead victim.

"Trump Defeats Kanye" = Kanye wins in 2020 (and Trump wins in 2016).

A nice new New Yorker cover, by Barry Blitt:

Historical reference:

"Imagine what it takes to live your whole professional and personal life as a 'justice-in waiting.'"

Josh Blackman and Randy Barnett say in a Weekly Standard article titled "The Next Justices/A guide for GOP candidates on how to fill Court vacancies."
Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan was viewed by many on the left as a dream candidate for the Supreme Court. However, in light of her well-documented record of supporting various hot-button liberal causes, she was never even nominated for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Karlan was the antithesis of the “Little Supreme.” But did she regret it? Not at all: “Would I like to be on the Supreme Court?” she asked rhetorically. “You bet I would. But not enough to have trimmed my sails for half a lifetime.” We are not suggesting that Karlan should be a Supreme Court nominee, but she exposed the truth about SCOTUS-wannabes who “trim their sails” and limit their potential based on a fear of a future confirmation hearing: Such persons lack the character a justice needs.

Karlan explained this with her characteristic forcefulness: “Courage is a muscle. You develop courage by exercising it. Sitting on the fence is not practice for standing up.” Imagine what it takes to live your whole professional and personal life as a “justice-in waiting.” These SCOTUS-wannabes spend their careers seeking the approval of others, in the hopes that one day they will be nominated because of their friendships across the political spectrum....

What's happening in the anti-Kim-Davis comic genre?

Well, this is happening on Twitter (Click to enlarge):

It's funny... up to a point, but it leans on stereotyping non-affluent southern white women. And given the prominent photograph of an actual woman who sits next to Kim Davis, there's a problem of appropriating her identity and reputation. Yes, you have to be a fool to believe that's the person writing the Twitter feed, but it is still using her.

ADDED: Here's another use of that woman's image, from a collection at Queerty titled "The Best Kim Davis Memes (So Far)":

"I got nothing. The question was, what did I get for signing the pledge? Absolutely nothing..."

"... other than the assurance that I would be treated fairly. And I’ve seen that over the last two months, where they really have been very fair."

I think Trump gets something more than that, something quite significant. He's planning to get the nomination, and if and when he does, he will characterize his pledge as part of a bargain: Republicans support Republicans. They must support him. They can't peel off and say that at some point The Party's nominee is such a dangerous demagogue that support must be withheld.

Remember, Trump is all about "the deal."

He will hold you to your side of the bargain — your side, as interpreted by him, in the new context, that he foresaw better than you.

Rick Perry: "A broken clock is right once a day,"

Oh, Rick.

Tennessee judge asserts that the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage case has rendered him unable to decide divorce cases.

It's Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton, denying a divorce to an opposite-sex couple:
“With the U.S. Supreme Court having defined what must be recognized as a marriage, it would appear that Tennessee’s judiciary must now await the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court as to what is not a marriage, or better stated, when a marriage is no longer a marriage,” Atherton wrote in his decision.

“The majority’s opinion in Obergefell, regardless of its patronizing and condescending verbiage, is now the law of the land, accurately described by Justice Scalia as ‘a naked claim to legislative — indeed, super-legislative — power.'”

“The conclusion reached by this Court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces… [A]ccording to Justice Scalia, the majority opinion in Obergefell represents ‘social transformation without representation.'”

Atherton continued: “Although this Court has some vague familiarity with the government theories of democracy, republicanism, socialism, communism, fascism, theocracy, and even despotism, implementation of this apparently new ‘super-federal-judicial’ form of benign and benevolent government, termed ‘krytocracy’ by some and ‘judi-idiocracy’ by others, with its iron fist and limp wrist, represents quite a challenge for a state level trial court.”
If following Supreme Court precedent is too much of a "challenge" for you, resign.

How would you like to be the couple who spent their time and money litigating over divorce only to find their judge grandstanding and bullshitting like this?

As for "iron fist and limp wrist" — interesting that the judge didn't edit out the phrase that is certain to be read as homophobic. Obviously, there's room to deny that "limp wrist" referred to gay people in that sentence. It's a description of the government, and the government doesn't have a sexual orientation. But it's like complaining about what the government is doing about race and then calling the government "watermelon-eating."

As for "krytocracy," it's not in my dictionary, and Googling it, I see it had some currency back in 2005, in the context of the Terri Schiavo case.

"Earlier this year, we discussed that, thanks to shorter copyright terms in Canada, things like early Beatles recordings and James Bond had entered the public domain up north."

"It was no secret that the recording industry was totally freaked out about this, and that resulted in the somewhat bizarre situation in which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper single-handedly extended copyright on sound recordings for 20 years by sticking it into a budget update, without any public discussion or concern about the fact that he was simply wiping out twenty years of use of works that the public had been promised."

"What rap did that was impressive was to show there are so many tone-deaf people out there."

"All they need is a drum beat and somebody yelling over it and they’re happy. There’s an enormous market for people who can’t tell one note from another."

Said Keith Richards.

Also: "For most bands, getting the syncopation is beyond them. It’s endless thudding away, with no bounce, no lift, no syncopation.... Millions are in love with Metallica and Black Sabbath. I just thought they were great jokes."

"I’m looking for the next commander-in-chief, to know who Hassan Nasrallah is, and Zawahiri, and al-Julani, and al-Baghdadi. Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?"

"No... You know, I’ll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed. They’ll be all gone. I knew you were going to ask me things like this, and there’s no reason, because, No. 1, I’ll find, I will hopefully find Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the pack... I will be so good at the military, your head will spin. But obviously, I’m not meeting these people. I’m not seeing these people.... Now, as far as what you’re talking about now, I will know every detail, and I will have the right plan, not a plan like this where we’re probably going backwards based on everything that I’m hearing, but we’re probably going backwards, zero respect. We have, we are not a respected country, and certainly as it relates to ISIS and what’s going on, and Iran."

Trump responds to Hugh Hewitt.

Hewitt asked a type of question that we've seen used to trip up presidential candidates in the past. Trump demonstrated a new way to answer. There's none of the fear or shame in getting caught not knowing something.

Compare George W. Bush, running for President in 1999:
''Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?'' asked [Andy Hiller, political correspondent with WHDH-TV]. He was inquiring about Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, who seized control of the country on Oct. 12.

''Wait, wait, is this 50 questions?'' asked Bush.

September 3, 2015

"A Madison police officer who intervened in a street fight Wednesday evening was quickly surrounded by a crowd, some of whom voiced anti-police sentiments, including, "We need to start killing these officers'..."

"The incident alarmed and dismayed local police officials, especially because the officer involved, Caleb Johnson, has spent years reaching out to residents in the area as the neighborhood officer."
"He's done tremendous work there with things like youth basketball tournaments and bike repair clinics," said West District Capt. Vic Wahl. "To be treated like that for his contributions to the neighborhood? Everyone should be angry about that."...

"In a time when so much negative is happening, please don't accuse those who are showing love and appreciation, of being hateful."

"It is very clear to me when someone is showing love and I appreciate these people recreating, loving and broadcasting something to the world that once upon a time I cried myself to sleep over #1LOVE."

At the Sandhill Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"5 Totally Exposed Bathrooms."

Somehow, I love these.

"Kareem – Now I know why the press always treated you so badly — they couldn’t stand you."

"The fact is that you don’t have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again! Best wishes/Donald Trump."

"The drowned child washed up on a Turkish beach captured in a photograph that went around the world Wednesday was three-year-old Alan Kurdi."

"He died, along with his five-year-old brother Galib and their mother Rehan, in a desperate attempt to reach Canada. The Syrian-Kurds from Kobane died along with eight other refugees early Wednesday. The father of the two boys, Abdullah, survived."

ADDED: A photo shouldn't make a difference. Should it?

"The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order."

"If you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems," said the federal district judge David L. Bunning, sending Rowan county clerk Kim Davis to jail for contempt for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Ms. Davis tearfully testified that she had not hesitated to stand by her religious views and defy the courts. “I didn’t have to think about it,” she said. “There was no choice there....

“Marriage is between one man and one woman,” she replied, before a lawyer asked her whether she had “the ability to believe marriage is anything else.” Ms. Davis offered a terse response: “No.”...

Judge Bunning... said Ms. Davis’s explanation for disobeying his order was “simply insufficient." “It’s not physically impossible for her to issue the licenses,” he said. “She’s choosing not to.”
A high-rated comment at the link (which goes to the NYT):
I am an Orthodox Jew. I can't eat milk and meat together as per my own personal beliefs. But if I were a county clerk, and someone wanted to open up a cheeseburger joint, I'd have absolutely zero right as a government official to deny that person his permit on the grounds of the rules of my religion.
The answer to that, in the terms that Judge Bunning found "simply insufficient," would be that the Orthodox Jewish county clerk would not lack the mental capacity to conceive of a cheeseburger joint as a business requiring a permit. It would just be a business he would not patronize and perhaps disapprove of. Davis was arguing a lack of an "ability to believe" that marriage is anything other than the union of a man and a woman. I do agree with the judge that the argument is insufficient. As a government official, she's obligate to treat same-sex marriages the same as opposite as marriages, whether she privately thinks of them as marriages or not. No one is requiring her to believe something she doesn't believe. She's simply required, as a government official, not to violate the rights of citizens.

Trump signs the loyalty pledge!

"I, Donald Trump, affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for President of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is."

Tom Brady wins in federal court.

"Judge Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court in Manhattan did not rule on whether Brady tampered with the footballs in a bid for competitive advantage. Instead, he focused on the narrower question of whether the collective bargaining agreement between the N.F.L. and the players union gave Goodell the authority to carry out the suspension, and whether Brady was treated fairly during his attempt to have his suspension overturned."

A man who traveled to every country on Earth tells us which countries were the hardest to get to.

It too Albert Podell 50 years to accomplish this goal, and it was arduous. I'm voting for Nauru as the worst of the hardest to get to:
From the late 1960s through the early ’70s, the denizens of this tiny Pacific island were the wealthiest people on the planet per capita, due to the dense and valuable guano deposits left on the island by fish-eating seabirds over a period of eons. The last of these rich phosphate resources were depleted by 2006, and the suddenly impoverished Nauruans were compelled to make a living in other ways. First the country became a tax haven and alleged money-laundering hub for Russian criminals. Then it established internment camps for refugees as part of “the Pacific Solution” to prevent the refugees from reaching or remaining in Australia, and effectively closed its borders to all visa-seekers not approved by the Australian High Commissioner to prevent foreigners from monitoring the migrants’ conditions. Nauru relaxed these restrictions with the formal end of the Pacific Solution in 2008. And though the country remains a dumping ground for many refuge-seekers, it is now focused on legitimate enterprises, including tourism, making it far easier to get a visa—the island’s airline arranged mine, and I finally visited in 2011. But unless you are on a crazy quest to visit every country, you might want to skip this uninviting strip-mined mess of a speck of limestone.
He's written a book about it, so this is one of these situations where reading is really preferable to real life.

Another one of his hard-to-get-to countries is Kiribati, one of my favorite countries to read about and never even consider going to. It's the subject of one of my favorite books, "The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific," by J. Maarten Troost.

"It was a clever, bright show on the surface, but its underlying message declared that marriage was, at best, a vapid compromise, insoluble and finally destructive."

Said Dean Jones, about the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company.”
Not long after the opening night of the musical — in which he played the central role of the 35-year-old bachelor Robert, an object of either envy or concern for a circle of married friends — he quit the production, citing stress and depression related to the recent collapse of his own marriage.

He soon after become a born-again Christian... Although he was replaced by Larry Kert, Mr. Jones agreed to record the original cast album, leaving him indelibly associated with the show, which won the 1971 Tony Award for best musical.
Jones was even better known as the standard man in a Disney movie, especially one with animals — “That Darn Cat!,” “The Ugly Dachshund,” “Monkeys, Go Home!,” “The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit,” “The Shaggy D.A.” — or Volkswagens — “The Love Bug” and “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.”

He died on Tuesday, of Parkinson’s disease, at the age of 84.

ADDED: Here he is recording "Being Alive" from "Company":

Here are the lyrics — in case you want to analyze what troubled him so:

Jeb pre-blows his appearance on the first Stephen Colbert "Late Show" show.

Without getting the okay from Colbert, Jeb's campaign is trying to raise money by raffling off a "VIP" ticket to the show, which triggers this kind of funny but obviously also angry response from Colbert:

Jeb! quickly gets a social media response to Colbert...

... but the whole thing feels sad. Both men look worse — Jeb! with his low-energy scripted humor and Colbert with his hard-edged, cranked-up, beaming face.

ADDED: I think this hurts Colbert more than Bush, because it's Colbert who's trying to establish credibility as a late-night host to mainstream America. This video has too much of the feeling of the old Comedy Central show. Don't pre-blow it!

September 2, 2015

The are 3 trillion trees on earth.

8 times as many as previously thought.

420 for every person.

IN THE COMMENTS: Drago said: "If you could be any number of trees, which number would you be?"

"Mitt wants to run. He never stopped wanting to run."

"... a senior member of his 2012 team told me. Other Romney-ites, watching this cycle’s candidates falling short, feel a sense of vindication after all the attacks they endured after Romney's failed 2012 bid. 'These guys like Walker and Perry, they were big deals in their states, but you get them onto the national stage and it's a different story,' a former Romney adviser told me. 'It's like they were in middle school, and now they're freshmen in high school and they're getting their faces slammed in the toilets.'"

From "Romney Is Horrified by Trump — and That’s Restarting ‘Mitt 2016’ Talk" in New York Magazine.

Audi wants you to associate its cars with Bob Dylan.

"As the documentary-style video portrays, at the instant Dylan plugged in and fired up his electric guitar, some of the Newport crowd booed the game-changing decision. Festival founders interviewed for the video said they recognized the new technology as a force to be reckoned with...." Blah blah blah...the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid.

A last article from Oliver Sacks: "Urge."

In the New York Review of Books. Excerpt:
Walter, previously a moderate eater, developed a ravenous appetite. “He started to gain weight,” his wife later told me, “and his pants changed three sizes in six months. His appetite was out of control. He would get up in the middle of the night and eat an entire bag of cookies, or a block of cheese with a large box of crackers.”

“I ate everything in sight,” Walter said. “If you put a car on the table, I would have eaten it.”...

Even more disquieting was the development of an insatiable sexual appetite. “He wanted to have sex all the time,” his wife said....
He's caught with child pornography and a criminal prosecution ensues: "At the end of the trial, the judge agreed that Walter could not be held accountable for having Klüver-Bucy syndrome. But he was culpable...."

Hillary's confidante Sidney Blumenthal called John Boehner "louche, alcoholic, and lazy."

Louche! That really hurts.
Blumenthal went on to compare Boehner unflatteringly with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, saying that while Gingrich was "the natural leader of a 'revolution'", Boehner was "careworn and threadbare, banal and hollow, holding nobody's enduring loyalty."
Hillary's response was just "Thx, as always, for your insights," which is perfectly opaque and boring.

"Louche" is a great word. It means — according to the (unlinkable) OED) — "Oblique, not straightforward. Also, dubious, shifty, disreputable." Sounds like everyone in government, no?

The etymology is: It's French for squinting and comes from the Latin word "lusca," which is the feminine form of the word for one-eyed.

One of the historical examples at the OED comes from George Bernard Shaw, a 1905 letter to Granville Barker: "You could play Snobby. I want a slim, louche, servant-girl-bigamist, half-handsome sort of rascal."

ADDED: For fun, I wanted to add a picture of Hillary squinting. I ran across a bit of Think Progress nonsense from 2008: "Drudge Posts A Picture of Hillary Clinton With Squinted Eyes, Says She’s ‘Feeling Japanese.'" ("Drudge seems to have deliberately chosen a picture of Hillary that hints at Asian stereotypes — slanted eyes, arched eyebrows, and prominent teeth — to pair with the caption that she’s 'feeling Japanese.'")

Oh, that's not Japanese, it's just louche. Here's a better louche Hillary picture...

... with louche Bill as a bonus.

"The Coming Liberal Disaster at the Supreme Court."

Title of a new Jeffrey Toobin piece in The New Yorker. Excerpt:
The liberals’ big victories last term arose from a very particular set of circumstances.... But the conservatives on the Court are poised for a comeback, and the subjects before the Justices appear well suited for liberal defeats....

Affirmative action....


Public-employee unions....

There is not yet a major campaign-finance case before the Justices, but in an election year it would be no surprise to see one surface....

"El hombre no es conservador."

"Besides, he tries to personalize everything. If you're not totally in agreement with him you're an idiot, or stupid, or don't have energy, or blah blah blah."

Jeb Bush lacks the energy to finish a sentence.

"These men are not human. They only think of death. They take drugs constantly. They seek vengeance against everyone."

"They say that one day Islamic State will rule over the whole world."

"I’m not going to expose myself. I’m not a pervert. I’m a transgender woman. I’m a girl."

"I’m just in there to change, do my business, and... if they have any questions about being transgender, they are more than welcome to talk to me, and I’ll be happy to explain it."

And: "The girls have rights, and they shouldn’t have to share a bathroom with a boy."

ADDED: Elizabeth Price Foley has the nerve to say: "And I’m sorry, but 'Lila' is clearly just a dude with a wig, and I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter to share a locker room with him/her/it."

The NYT's embarrassing attack on Clarence Thomas for writing in words that are "not his own."

The Times' Adam Liptak wrote, in paragraph 2, that "opinions contain language from briefs submitted to the court at unusually high rates." And then way down in paragraph 15:
Over the years, the average rate of nearly identical language between a party's brief and the majority opinion was 9.6 percent. Justice Thomas's rate was 11.3 percent. Justice Sonia Sotomayor's was 11 percent, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 10.5 percent.
So, obviously, there is absolutely nothing special about Thomas's use of language that's also in the briefs.

And, I would add, the use of the same language isn't even a problem, because briefs and court opinions are always studded with quotes from old cases and the kind of stock word clusters that make up legal doctrine and shouldn't be paraphrased. I'm surprised the shared language is as low as 11%. I'd guess that any judge that does us readers the service of keeping it concise would have a higher percentage, because there'd be less filler and verbosity to dilute the necessary language.

My link goes to the blog post at, which cites Orin Kerr's trenchant criticism....
The implication is that Justice Thomas is not doing his job. Not only does he not ask questions, he doesn’t even think for himself. For the New York Times audience, it's the kind of ideological catnip that is likely to make a lasting impression...
... and the wan response to Kerr from the New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan:
I thought the article’s language was quite careful, and, from what I can tell, accurate. But the overall impression it left may well have overstated the case.
And I think those 2 sentences are careful — careful not to hurt Adam Liptak's reputation and careful not to get in the way of the game of inspiring contempt for Clarence Thomas.

Sullivan's short piece  is mostly — talk about using words not your own! — a reprinting of email  from Adam Liptak. I'll put these 4 paragraphs after the jump because they're too long and windy (like a not-concise judicial opinion). I read them with growing outrage at the Sullivan's weak acceptance with mild distancing. She couldn't even say that Liptak overstated Thomas's distinctiveness. It had to be "may well have overstated." Embarrassing!

"The Kentucky county clerk facing potentially stiff penalties for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has been married 4 times..."

"... raising questions of hypocrisy and selective application of the Bible to her life," U.S. News reports.
She gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband. They were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second. [Kim] Davis worked at the clerk's office at the time of each divorce and has since remarried.

Davis has described her desire to strictly adhere to the Bible in stark terms and thus far has shown no sign of bending to court orders on same-sex marriage. She said Tuesday she fears going to hell for violating "a central teaching" of the Bible if she complies with the orders.
That's very interesting, but, from a legal standpoint, the scope of Davis's entitlement to relief from substantial burdens on her religion depends on her sincere belief in the religion not on whether she has committed sins within the terms of her religion or whether we think her beliefs are coherent.

In any case, Christians tend to believe that they are forgiven for their sins and to try to go forward without committing new sins, so is this evidence of the "selective application of the Bible to her life"?

It does make Davis a more ridiculous or contemptible person, for those who are inclined to think of her that way. To my mind, it's better simply to see her as someone who cannot hold onto the government job she wants unless she's willing to deal with the public in a manner consistent with our rights.

September 1, 2015

Rules bent, Carly's in.

"CNN reevaluated its criteria and decided to add a provision that better reflects the state of the race since the first Republican presidential debate in August. Now, any candidate who ranks in the top 10 in polling between August 6 and September 10 will be included."

Teaching children "mindfulness" in public school?

Mindfulness in an elementary classroom, brought to you by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and...hip-hop?

Posted by University of Wisconsin-Madison on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Great... or... too religion-y?

"The USA Today opinion page scored a nice little coup yesterday, getting an op-ed by a donor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign who argues that 'there has been no evidence of criminal conduct' by the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee."

"The piece, by lawyer Anne Tompkins, appears to be part of a didactic operation the Clinton campaign undertook in the last weeks of August. In an interview with the Puffington Host’s Sam Stein, published Aug. 21, communications director Jennifer Palmieri promised, in Stein’s paraphrase, 'an end-of-summer effort to educate the public on the classification process for national security material.'" That would be the process that... Mrs. Clinton’s staffers and other defenders insist is too complicated for anyone, much less Mrs. Clinton, to understand. So when they say they’re going to 'educate the public,' it’s a safe bet they mean 'try to confuse the public.'"

From "The ‘Experts’ Spin/Mrs. Clinton faces no legal jeopardy, they say vacuously," by James Taranto. (Google some text if that link doesn't get you there.)

Try to confuse the public can be an effective strategy, and I think it may work for the email thing. The process is: 1. People realize they're supposed to be concerned about something, 2. They start to pay attention, to fulfill their civic duty to understand something that's supposed to be important, 3. They experience difficulty, confusion, and shame, 4. Now, we're ready for the lifeline to save our time and our pride: The problem has been looked at by experts, and they've said it's not a problem anymore. 5. You want to believe those other people who are still pressuring you to understand this business, or do you want to be free to move on to other things, like maybe, ha ha, did you know the sprinkler system went off at hoity-toity Hillary fundraiser in Southampton and lots of well-dressed, fancy richies like Anna Wintour and Martha Stewart got all wet? Oh, that Hillary! It's just one absurd screw-up after another, but the old dame rolls with the punches.

A sleep researcher "told us that if you want to sleep well, you should avoid all screens for half an hour before going to bed. And yet she doesn’t."

"But she promised... [f]or one week, she would not look at a single screen – no TV, no computer, no smartphone – between nine at night and seven in the morning."
HALE: The real challenge is try it for a week and see if you feel better, if you’re sleeping more, if you’re going to bed earlier, and see how you feel.
DUBNER: So how did it go?

HALE: It went great. I was shocked at how many times I wanted to check my phone, turn on the TV, go to the computer, any number of screens as they were all yelling out to me, but I held back and I slept so much better I can hardly believe it.
From the earlier episode:

"Chronic procrastinators often hold misconceptions about why they procrastinate and what it means, psychologists have discovered."

"Many chronic procrastinators believe they can’t get started on a task because they want to do it perfectly. Yet studies show chronic procrastination isn’t actually linked to perfectionism, but rather to impulsivenes.... People may assume anxiety is what prevents them from getting started, yet data from many studies show that for people low in impulsiveness, anxiety is the cue to get going. Highly impulsive people, on the other hand, shut down when they feel anxiety. Impulsive people are believed to have a harder time dealing with strong emotion and want to do something else to get rid of the bad feeling.... Some people claim they purposely leave things to the last minute because they work better under stress, but true procrastinators get stressed out by the delay...."

From "To Stop Procrastinating, Start by Understanding the Emotions Involved/Time management goes only so far; the emotional reasons for delay must also be addressed."

"As Jeb Bush struggles to carry the establishment mantle, some wonder whether the time is right for Mitt..."

But: "If Mr. Romney suddenly entered today simply to defend the declining Bush dynasty against the rising New York dynamism of Mr. Trump, it would shatter the creative awakening that is happening to conservatism and paralyze the rise to positive influence of Mr. Carson and Ms. Fiorina."

Mitt, like Biden, is held in reserve. The question is when and if to roll him out. Me, I like Mitt, but he can't just come barging onto the scene. Not at just any time. It's got to be right. But as we say at Meadhouse whenever the topic comes up — which is often — "It's party time, chumps!"

"They don't know how to explain it. It's not possible. Nobody can turn their unfavorable around, especially that big, 63 unfavorable back in May to 61% favorable?"

"That's a 60-point-some-odd shift [for Donald Trump in Iowa].  No number's ever done that before.  They even admit in this poll they have never, ever seen this before. Numbers just don't reverse themselves like that in a space of a few months or ever, especially when the politician in question is totally known by the electorate.  Once you are both totally known and broadly disliked -- 63% Trump back in May -- you're doomed. One hundred times out of 100 times you are doomed.  You cannot recover from that, except Trump has.  Here's [WaPo's Chris] Cillizza: 'In the almost 20 years -- gulp -- I have spent following politics closer than close, I've never seen anything like the total reversal in how Trump is perceived by Republican voters. It is, quite literally, unprecedented.' You know what else bugs 'em about it?... They haven't had anything to do with it.  Trump goes over their heads.  Trump reversing his favorables and unfavorables is totally on Trump.  The media hasn't helped.  If anything, the media has been trying to cement unfavorability numbers on Trump... That this guy, without their help, in fact, with them working against him, has totally reversed in a matter of five months, what people think of him.  They think it isn't possible, A, and especially it isn't possible, B, without them helping.  And it's not just the media that are perplexed.  The Republican wizards of smart who concocted this theory on how Trump had peaked and it was just a matter of being patient and wait and he'll blow himself up because he can't get anymore popular than whatever he is now.  That was their theory.  He's too well known.  He's too well known now.  There's no way he can change.  And yet he has."

Rush Limbaugh on his show yesterday, making some good points, though "60-point-some-odd shift" is bad math. Iowa's opinion of Trump was 27% favorable and 63% unfavorable last May and is now 61% favorable and 35% unfavorable. That's a 34-point increase in favorability, not 60 points. Rush was double counting. There's a 28-point change in unfavorability, but that 28 switched positions to favorable. You can't add those numbers together. They're the same people. I suspect the change is that people have become accustomed to the idea that Trump hasn't toppled, that the obvious ways of attacking him have failed, so he seems to be a credible candidate. In that sense, the media's attacks have helped Trump, because he got the opportunity to very conspicuously show how he can stand his ground.

Trump on Denali: "Great insult to Ohio. I will change back!"

That's Twitterese (in case you think his locutions have become even more brusque).

Nice concise politicization, taking offense on behalf of the important swing state.

IN THE COMMENTS: tim maguire said: "Do Ohioans care? This former Ohioan doesn't." That parallels my conversation with Meade, who lived in Ohio for about 30 years. Me: "Does Ohio care about McKinley?" Meade: "Ohio doesn't even care about Taft."

Reinflating Brady.

That courtroom artist gets another chance to capture the Brady visage.

"Big Mountain Jesus" survives an attack by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The 3-judge 9th Circuit panel was split, with Judges N.R. Smith and John Owens in the majority.

Smith and Owens found that the U.S. government had a secular purpose: "the statue’s cultural and historical significance for veterans, Montanans, and tourists; the statue’s inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places; and the government’s intent to preserve the site 'as a historic part of the resort.'"

And the majority had 6 reasons for rejecting the notion that the government was "endorsing" religion:
(1) there is nothing in the statue’s display or setting to suggest government endorsement; the twelve-foot tall statue is on a mountain, far from any government seat or building, near a commercial ski resort, and accessible only to individuals who pay to use the ski lift; (2) the statue’s plaque communicates that it is privately owned and maintained — “it did not sprout from the minds of [government] officials and was not funded from [the government’s] coffers”; (3) besides the statue’s likeness, there is nothing in the display or setting to suggest a religious message. The mountain’s role as a summer and winter tourist destination used for skiing, hiking, biking, berry-picking, and site-seeing suggests a secular context...
That's not the usual way we spell "sight-seeing," but I guess it's a site... and here comes a cite:
... the location “does not readily lend itself to meditation or any other religious activity,” and the setting “suggests little or nothing of the sacred,” Van Orden, 545 U.S. at 702 (Breyer, J., concurring in the judgment); (4) the flippant interactions of locals and tourists with the statue suggest secular perceptions and uses: decorating it in mardi gras beads, adorning it in ski gear, taking pictures with it, high-fiving it as they ski by, and posing in Facebook pictures; (5) local residents commonly perceived the statue as a meeting place, local landmark, and important aspect of the mountain’s history as a ski area and tourist destination; and, (6) there is an absence of complaints throughout its sixty-year history, see Van Orden, 545 U.S. at 702 (Breyer, J., concurring in the judgment) (reasoning that the monument’s forty-year unchallenged history “suggest[s] more strongly than can any set of formulaic tests that few individuals … are likely to have understood the monument as amounting … to a government effort to favor a particular religious sect, … to ‘compel’ any ‘religious practic[e],’ or to ‘work deterrence’ of any ‘religious belief’” (alterations in original)).
Note the emphasis on Justice Breyer's concurring opinion in Van Orden, which was the case about the 10 Commandments monument next to the Texas state house. This emphasis is justified, as Breyer was the deciding vote in that case and another 10 Commandments case that came out the same day and went the other way. Following Breyer, you end up with multifactored, contextualized judgment.

The dissenting judge in the 9th Circuit was Harry Pregerson. He didn't go for the Breyer-style multifactored analysis but asked whether a reasonable observer would perceive "a message of religious endorsement."

Lawprof Eugene Volokh — at the first link, above — approves of the outcome. He says "the Supreme Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence" is "not quite right" because: 1. It's too "tricky" to look into "government’s supposed motive" ("[M]ost things that people do — and even more so most things that multi-member government agencies do — have many different motives, whether policy motives or political motives"). 2. The lack of complaints "might simply reflect that complaints about such things are often highly unpopular in many circles, and that many people can be quite upset and yet still not want to fight a thankless and uphill legal battle." 3. It's "unrealistic" to take account of "divisiveness." And what about history? Volokh says: "[T]he Big Mountain Jesus isn’t quite the Bamiyan Buddhas, but 60-year-old items are still pretty historical by American standards," and even though Big Mountain Jesus wasn't really treated like your usual historical monument: "[T]his sort of historical monument ought not be ordered off government land."

The litigation goes all the way back to 2011. Here's my original post on the subject from then. I said:
... I think removing the statue is not necessary to comply with the Establishment Clause. I go back to what Justice Breyer wrote in one of the 10 Commandments cases that the Supreme Court decided in 2005 [Van Orden]. Breyer... was the only member of the Court in the majority in both cases.

Justice Breyer quoted the 1963 school prayer opinion written by Justice Goldberg: "[U]ntutored devotion to the concept of neutrality can lead to invocation or approval of results which partake not simply of that noninterference and noninvolvement with the religious which the Constitution commands, but of a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular and a passive, or even active, hostility to the religious."

And Breyer concluded that taking down the old stone monument in Texas would "exhibit a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions" and "encourage disputes concerning the removal of longstanding depictions of the Ten Commandments from public buildings across the Nation," which would "create the very kind of religiously based divisiveness that the Establishment Clause seeks to avoid."

Big Mountain Jesus is a 50-year-old part of the landscape, so it's probably a good idea to take Justice Breyer's advice seriously and ski clear of divisiveness and a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular.

"This is a slippery slope when the government starts telling parents whether or not their teenagers can get a sun tan."

"You are much, much more likely to sunburn at the pool or the beach. People feel good when they propose this stuff, but in reality it really doesn’t accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish."

Entertaining the idea was an entertaining idea.

"Scott Walker's entertaining the idea of building a wall separating the United States and Canada is being called 'crazy' and 'dumb.'"

What did Walker say, anyway?
Walker’s comments on the Canadian border came in response to a question from NBC News’ Chuck Todd, who asked Walker if the U.S. should consider building a wall along the northern border amid calls by some Republican presidential candidates to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
It sounds as though Todd was thinking of maybe boxing Walker in, making him seem anti-Hispanic if he didn't stick to a principled pro-wall position.

Walker was sort of cagey:
"Some people have asked us about that in New Hampshire," Walker told Todd. "They have raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that's a legitimate issue for us to look at."
What did "that's" refer to? Northern border enforcement in New Hampshire or a wall across the entire land border with Canada?
Walker’s campaign spokesperson AshLee Strong has since said that Walker was not advocating that a wall be built but that he was responding to Todd’s question in saying that he has heard concerns from other people about the security of the border.
So he was trying to give an answer in the general vicinity of the question and shouldn't be taken to have answered the question asked? But that's not how things work in presidential politics. Anything you say will be used against you. It's aggressive but not really unfair. It's an important check on vagueness and evasion.

IN THE COMMENTS: Enough talk about how Democrats are never subjected to this kind of aggression to make me say: "The double standard argument is the go-to retreat for Republicans who want to soothe themselves about the shortcomings of their own candidates. But a candidate for President should be tested hard, and if Walker can't meet the test, he shouldn't be chosen. The fact that Democrats are tested less hard is almost irrelevant, because: 1. Anyone can step up and do the testing, so quit whining and contribute speech, either personally or by voting up the speech of those who are doing it (by your choice of media and through social media), and 2. The Republican in the end will have to go against the Democrat, and if the field is uneven, he'll still have to play on it."

"The management decided that it was a good way to cool people off on a very hot day. They said they were sorry if I was offended...""

"... and I told them that there is no way to apologize to the victims of the Holocaust."

August 31, 2015

"Chrissie Hynde slammed for saying some rape victims 'have to take responsibility.'"

She was speaking from experience (she was raped by a biker gang when she was 21):
"You can’t f- -k about with people, especially people who wear ‘I Heart Rape’ and ‘On Your Knees’ badges — those motorcycle gangs, that’s what they do.... If you play with fire, you get burnt. It’s not any secret, is it? Technically speaking, however you want to look at it, this was all my doing, and I take full responsibility.... If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk? Who else’s fault can it be?... If you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him."

Carson ties it up with Trump in Iowa.

A new Monmouth poll.
When Iowa Republicans are asked who they would support in their local caucus, Ben Carson (23%) and Donald Trump (23%) tie for the top spot. The next tier of candidates includes Carly Fiorina (10%) and Ted Cruz (9%), followed by Scott Walker (7%), Jeb Bush (5%), John Kasich (4%), Marco Rubio (4%), and Rand Paul (3%)....

After 6 posts, I see that the blog has a theme this morning — almost and inadvertently.

The theme is fingers and hands. 3 posts are absolutely clearly on theme:

1. "Slate's education columnist Rebecca Schuman flaunts a series of photographs of herself giving her infant the finger."

2. "Barney's ad gets my attention, reveals secrets" focuses on 2 background figures who are picking at something with their hands as well as hands in the foreground: "I included the hand in my close-up of the Manet painting because it matches the central hand in the Barney's ad."

3. "Donald Trump is emasculating Jeb Bush" talks about Trump's "hand gestures — fingers up, palms out, wave-y wave-y... 'jazz hands'..."

The other 3 posts are harder to portray as on theme, but let me try:

1. "... Wes Craven — of the 'Nightmare on Elm Street"' and 'Scream' movies — who has died, at the age of 76." That one just needs an image:

2. "President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, using his executive power to restore an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America." That one has a poll and the winning option by far is "Obama does too much by executive order." Again, the solution is an image. I pick the handsiest one:

3. The most difficult to whip into theme is: "ISIS money — coins minted in gold, silver, and copper." But one need only explore the psychology of the preference for precious-metal coins over paper money. It's the desire to hold the value in your hands. Here, this can get your started, from The New Republic: "Feces and the Gold Standard: A Psychological Explanation of Goldbuggery."

"Donald Trump is emasculating Jeb Bush."

An interesting thesis by GOP strategist Steve Schmidt.

And a convenient place for me to drop an observation of mine. Trump seems hyper-masculine in some ways, but quite feminine in others. For one thing, those hand gestures — fingers up, palms out, wave-y wave-y. The accompanying effusive speech — "a big, beautiful, powerful wall," etc. etc. etc.

ADDED: Go ahead. Try to imitate Trump. What do you find yourself doing? Not just the "jazz hands," but don't you push out your chest and jiggle along with your over emphatic words? Mixed in, there's the super-macho scowling, pushed out lower lip, and gruff voice — screaming overcompensation.

Barney's ad gets my attention, reveals secrets.

Okay, that was in my email. Ludicrous, no? But! Look closely. What's going on in the background? That stooping and picking:

"President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, using his executive power..."

"... to restore an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America."
Mr. Obama, freed from the political constraints of an impending election in the latter half of his second term, was also moving to put to rest a yearslong fight over the name of the mountain that has pit Alaska against electorally powerful Ohio, the birthplace of President William McKinley, for whom it was christened in 1896.

The government formally recognized the name in 1917, and efforts to reverse the move began in Alaska in 1975. In an awkward compromise struck in 1980, the national park surrounding it was named Denali National Park and Preserve, but the mountain continued to be called Mount McKinley....

The mountain came to be known as Mount McKinley after a gold prospector who had just emerged from exploring the Alaska Range heard that Mr. McKinley had won the Republican presidential nomination, and declared that the tallest peak should be named in his honor as a show of support....
I'd always assumed the mountain got the name as a consequence of the assassination of President McKinley, they way so many things were named after John F. Kennedy. That wasn't the case, and that makes the renaming more apt.

Do you approve of Obama's restoration of the mountain's name? free polls

"Horror movies have to show us something that hasn’t been shown before so that the audience is completely taken aback."

"You see, it’s not just that people want to be scared; people are scared."

Said Wes Craven — of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Scream" movies — who has died, at the age of 76.

Slate's education columnist Rebecca Schuman flaunts a series of photographs of herself giving her infant the finger.

"Sometimes, it takes longer to put the little tyrant to sleep than she’ll deign to remain asleep. It is on those days that I celebrate her hard-won unconsciousness by taking a nice little selfie in which she’s conked out, and I’m flipping her the bird. Then I share that selfie on social media, because otherwise it doesn’t exist. We’ve now got quite a little gallery."

The column quotes a number of philosophers — Aristotle, Kant, Mill — and, having absorbed their lessons in ethics, ends:
For now, I can definitively say that creating my baby bird gallery achieves happiness for me. As long as she keeps refusing to sleep... I will continue expressing... my simultaneous victory and frustration.... It remains to be seen whether my daughter will be too sensitive to take that kind of joke, once she learns what it means. And if she is, I’ll consider the experiment a failure, and I’ll gladly stop doing it. On camera, that is.
Did you find that funny... or are you too sensitive? The daughter only arrives at the personhood inherent in getting power to control her own image on the internet after she learns what giving somebody the finger means. The finger means "fuck you" (or "shove it up your ass"or "go fuck yourself"). When is Schuman going to teach that meaning? When she does teach her that and when the girl sees what she did with her way back when she didn't know what it meant, if she gives mother the finger, will Schuman take that joke? Will Schuman take all that will follow on as the girl challenges her and taunts her with too sensitive and can't take a joke? The "little tyrant" who now frustrates Schuman with crying and difficulty getting to sleep will have far more complicated and active challenges in these experiments that lie ahead, including, perhaps, photographs of Schuman, expressing hostility and posted on the internet.

ADDED: I think what's going on here is Mommy Blogging, the late years. I haven't been a Mommy Blog reader, so I don't know what all has gone on in that genre. Edgy stuff becomes the norm, as women cue other women that it's okay and really helpful and funny to show those feelings that otherwise made them feel alone and ashamed. What can a Mommy Blogger do to surprise and excite readers now? Compare porn.

AND: One question is: Is she a good mother? But another is: Is she a good comedian? Clearly, she thinks she's hilarious. She's a prop comic and the prop is her baby.

ISIS money — coins minted in gold, silver, and copper.

Supposedly breaking free of "the capitalist financial system of enslavement, underpinned by a piece of paper called the Federal Reserve dollar note."
Minting the coins is relatively easy, [said Baghdad-based economist Basim Jameel], as goldsmiths in Mosul imported machines from Italy in recent years, each one able to produce about 5,000 coins a day. The metals probably come from banks the group seized, ransoms, the homes of Christians and other minorities who fled, he said....

Oil, the group said in the video, will now only be sold for gold.... Because Islamic State is classified as a terrorist group, the coins can’t be traded legally.

“They’ll only be used in these areas and people will only buy these coins for their daily needs and expenses,” said the economist Jameel. “Nobody outside their control will accept the currency and I don’t know how they’ll keep up with demand, as they are losing resources day after day,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is a media propaganda tool.”

August 30, 2015

It's hard to photograph the corpse flower.

Yesterday, at Olbrich Gardens.


Even if no one is plunging his head into it — drawn by the famous stench — there are too many signs.


It seems important to get the full misshapen phallus (amorphophallus) in the picture, in which case...


... a closeup feels cut off...

Carson sneaking up on Trump.

"The latest Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows billionaire Trump with the support of 23 percent of likely Republican caucus participants, followed by Carson at 18 percent. When first and second choices are combined, Carson is tied with Trump."

Is Trump clearing the path for Carson? Trump may be causing people to recognize that they don't want a traditional politician more than that the nontraditional person they want is Trump.

Let's look at the word "patsy" — used yesterday by Donald Trump to describe the United States.

Donald Trump filled a speech Saturday with images of the United States on the world stage getting mistreated and taken advantage of — and declared that if he’s elected president in 2016, he won’t let that happen to America anymore....

“We’re tired of being, like, the patsy for everybody,” Trump told those gathered at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies in Nashville.
Is "patsy" an unusual word these days — an old-man word? I see a Tampa Tribune article from a couple weeks ago, "Reject patsy treaty with Iran." And in the NYT last April: "prosecutors were laying down a marker that Dzhokhar [Tsarnaev] was instead a willful young man who was nobody’s patsy." So I'm leaning toward seeing "patsy" as a word with present-day currency.

Perhaps you associate the word with Lee Harvey Oswald:

I associate the word with Patti Smith. Her song about Patty Hearst — a version of "Hey Joe" — ends with the lines: "I am no little pretty little rich girl/I am nobody's million dollar baby, I am nobody's patsy anymore/And I feel so free." Smith hits the word "patsy" hard, and there's no mistaking the intention to resonate with the name "Patty/Patti."

Hearing Trump use the word, I joked that he could be accused of sexism, using a woman's name to express ideas about gullibility and weakness. But from an etymological perspective, "patsy" is more likely related to the man's name Patrick. I got that from the (unlinkable OED) which adds "perhaps influenced by association with Italian pazzo crazy" and "Apparently spread in theatrical slang through the name of a character in a theatrical sketch."
1889   H. F. Reddall Fact, Fancy & Fable 404   A party of minstrels in Boston, about twenty years ago, had a performance... When the pedagogue asked in a rage, ‘Who did that?’, the boys would answer, ‘Patsy Bolivar!’... The phrase..spread beyond the limits of the minstrel performance, and when a scapegoat was alluded to, it was in the name of ‘Patsy Bolivar’..the one who is always blamed for everything.

A study of 61 groups of lawyers by practice area determines that the most liberal group is...

... law professors.

The only surprise is that law professors were considered "lawyers" in a "practice area."

"I used my 'I'm not making a tag for this' tag because I couldn't think of an existing tag that fit or a new idea for a tag..."

"... that would apply to other posts in the future. John suggested 'self-censorship' and — proving the likelihood of future applicability — pointed to 4 old posts that could take the tag...."

Death by falling.

1, "Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the first African-American actor to play the iconic lead role of Jean Valjean in the popular Broadway musical 'Les Misérables,' died on Friday after falling from a fire escape in Brooklyn. He was 21.... The police said that Mr. Jean-Baptiste’s death 'appeared to be accidental.' They said he fell from the fourth-floor fire escape of an apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Mr. Jean-Baptiste was sitting on the fire escape with a 23-year-old female friend, the police said, when he stood up, slipped and fell backward to the street below."

2. "A man in his early 60s died Saturday night after falling more than 40 feet from the upper deck at Turner Field during the seventh inning of the Yankees’ 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.... According to eyewitnesses, a middle-aged man wearing a Braves cap stood up from his seat in the second row behind home plate to boo the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez when he was announced as a pinch-hitter. The man then seemed to lose his balance and fell forward over several women who were seated in the front row. He landed on a concrete walkway in the lower bowl of the stadium, not far from where family members of Yankees and Braves players were sitting."

Oliver Sacks has died.

We knew he was dying. He wrote about it. (Eloquently, as always.) But it's very sad to see that he has departed. He gave us so many fascinating books over the decades. What a terrible loss!

Here's the NYT obituary, which — amid the good — includes the criticism:
Dr. Sacks began his medical career as a researcher but gave up early.... “I lost samples,” he told an interviewer in 2005. “I broke machines. Finally they said to me: ‘Sacks, you’re a menace. Get out. Go see patients. They matter less.’ ”...

Reviewers [of his books] praised his empathy and his graceful prose. Scientists could be dismissive, however, complaining that his clinical tales put too much emphasis on the tales and not enough on the clinical. A London neuroscientist, Ray Dolan, told The Guardian in 2005: “Whether Dr. Sacks has provided any scientific insights into the neurological conditions he has written about in his numerous books is open to question. I have always felt uncomfortable about this side of this work, and especially the tendency for Dr. Sacks to be an ever-present dramatis persona.”

In an otherwise laudatory review of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” in The New York Times Book Review, the neuropsychologist John C. Marshall took issue with what he saw as Dr. Sacks’s faux-naïve presentation (“He would have us believe that an experienced neurologist could fail to have read anything about many of the standard syndromes”), and called his blend of medicine and philosophy “insightful, compassionate, moving and, on occasion, simply infuriating.”

More damningly, the disability-rights activist Tom Shakespeare accused Dr. Sacks of exploiting the people he wrote about, calling him “the man who mistook his patients for a literary career.”
ADDED: "I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying.... I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers...."