October 17, 2015

3 views of Reedsburg, Wisconsin.

This is the storefront that made us stop and get out:


I wisecracked "Weedsburg." But the town is more focused on fermentation:


The fest was last week. We missed it. But we enjoyed our brief sojourn in Reedsburg...


... one of the places we stopped as we were out driving, looking at orange and red leaves.

"Or maybe your soul is telling you that sex is supposed to mean something, that, in fact, sex is supposed to be the accompaniment of love — the type of love that commits for a lifetime."

"Could be that your soul is sane in a culture that is not."

That's the top-rated comment at a NYT "Modern Love" column by a young woman named Ali Rachel Pearl who's trying to understand why she hasn't had sex in 2 years:
Maybe my secondary abstinence...
Secondary abstinence is abstinence by someone who has been sexually active in the past.
...  isn’t in allegiance to God but to my own broken heart and the fear that seems to produce a kind of magnetic repellant [sic] whenever I come close to someone I desire.

My friends don’t seem to understand my secondary abstinence. They ask if I’ve had sex yet. “How can you go so long?” they ask. “I can’t imagine.” They say: “You have to lower your standards.” “Go to the bar more.” “Join a dating website.” “Make really good eye contact.” “Get rid of your hang-ups.” “Be more open.” “Stop being afraid.” “It’s just sex,” they say. “You have to stop refusing to sleep with people just because you don’t immediately want to marry them.”...

Every night that I go to a concert or a party, every day that I walk around the neighborhood, I find my secondary abstinence trailing me like a sad ghost or an unwanted dog.

"I even turned around to Bernie Sanders at one point and said, ‘Bernie, say my name, will you? Say my name.'"

"In that kind of environment, I was either going to be Mr. Angry or I was going to be a potted plant. That was the only way to try to get into the conversation," said Jim Webb, complaining about the "rigged" debate.

I love the "say my name" business. So "Breaking Bad"...

"I identify as grey-asexual (can't bring myself to call it greysexual) and for me it's a useful term."

"I experience sexual attraction vanishingly rarely and when I do it's often not strong enough to even act on, more of an intellectual curiosity. Some folks in the asexual community can be absolutists about the identity, so that a person with my history, for instance, wouldn't be considered asexual, even though my lived experience is more in line with asexuality than not. Grey-asexual identifies those who fall between asexual and non-asexual and can help those of us who fall on that part of the spectrum understand ourselves. It's not a term with an exact definition and people who identify with it often have their own interpretations, but it's functioning in an area where the language is evolving rapidly as people work to more accurately express their feelings, hence the host of identities in the article."

From the Metafilter comments on a post about a HuffPo article collecting a bunch of words that purportedly identify various sexual conditions. The HuffPo article is not good. It seems like it could be a joke, but if so it would be: 1. not particularly funny, and 2. disrespectful toward some people you'd expect HuffPo to swath in dignity. The HuffPo article can be experienced as funny, as Metafilter commenters point out, if you concentrate on why the various stock photos were chosen to illustrate the particular sexual conditions. Why is the "graysexual" a man in a hat walking down the middle of a country road?

The serious question — the one that made me choose the quote above — is whether having more specific words for feelings helps people understand who they are and what they are doing with their lives? Off hand, I say it depends on what you do with that word once you learn it.

How should you dress to go to the theater?

Point: "For the love of God, stop dressing like crap."
[T]he slobs who turn up at Broadway shows [are] dressed as though they’d just walked in from a tailgating party — one with a three-figure admission price, mind you. When people were invited onstage at a recent performance of “Penn & Teller on Broadway,” many women looked as if they had stepped out of a jazzercise class, while men ambled around in hideous cargo shorts....
Counterpoint: "Wear Whatever The Hell You Want To The Theater":
Theater today is ridiculously inaccessible as it is, and to tell people they have to dress a certain way to participate is unfair.... There are many ways in which the industry is trying to become more accessible to younger people, those who have had little exposure to theater and people with less disposable income.... Theater is changing. Playbills often include hashtags. People wait in line to take selfies with actors post-show, rather than get their autographs, and all of that is great! As time hurtles forward, our traditions change. Not every tradition is worth holding onto.... Finally, I would venture to guess that professional actors do not care what the audience wears. They're picturing you naked, anyway! But seriously, they can't see you; the lights are too bright.
Well, that counterpoint was a jumble of discontinuities. I'll just say 4 things:

1. Traditions change, of course. Tradition is what we've kept as we've left some things behind. The question is what do we want to leave behind.

2. In some theaters, the actors can see you. We frequently see plays at The Touchstone Theater, where the front row of seats is on the same level of the stage and curves around 3 edges of the stage. The people in these seats are full-body visible to the actors and to the rest of the audience. What possesses the minds of theatergoers to choose front row seats and then to arrive in blazing white sneakers and other conspicuously over-casual duds? If I knew I was in the front row, I'd take care to wear dark and respectful clothing. I feel sorry for the actors, who, I think, need to be able to believe that the audience members have the minimal sense needed to understand the play.

3. Don't blame the young and the poor for the sloppy playclothes in the audience. I see mostly older, affluent people in the theater, and they are not bothering with the minimal level of appropriate clothing.

4. A minimal level of appropriate clothing is really all that is appropriate. You should be comfortable sitting still for 2 hours and you shouldn't be distracting. Something simple, inconspicuous and dark. That's not expensive and burdensome. Playing the class card is disingenuous.

"Obama is no socialist. A socialist would have nationalized General Motors, instead of returning it to capitalistic solvency."

"A socialist would not have presided over a doubling of the stock market, without adding significant new taxes to Wall Street’s biggest beneficiaries. For true socialism in action, look to the billionaire Trump. As a developer, he’s tried to use eminent domain — 'state-sanctioned thievery,' in the words of National Review Online — to get other people’s property. There’s your communist. He has no problem taking from others to serve the public 'good.'"

That's Timothy Egan in a NYT op-ed called "Guess Who Else Is a Socialist?"

The NYT deploys a National Review Online quote — presumably for corroboration, conservative opinion backing up liberal — but doesn't bother to give us a link. Here's the article, from April 2011, "Donald Trump and Eminent Domain." Excerpt:
The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment allows the government to take private property for “public use,” so long as “just compensation” is paid. In the infamous 2005 Kelo decision, the Supreme Court held that “public use” could include, well, private use, so long as the new property owner paid more in taxes than the previous one. In other words, it allowed developers and the government to gang up on homeowners. The developer gets more land, the government gets more tax money. The only losers are the original owner and his property rights.

A decade and a half ago, it was fresh on everyone’s mind that Donald Trump is one of the leading users of this form of state-sanctioned thievery. It was all over the news. In perhaps the most-remembered example, John Stossel got the toupéed one to sputter about how, if he wasn’t allowed to steal an elderly widow’s house to expand an Atlantic City casino, the government would get less tax money, and seniors like her would get less “this and that.” Today, however, it takes a push from the Club for Growth to remind us of Trump’s lack of respect for property rights....
The "this and that" link goes to a John Stossel 2004 article at Reason.com titled "Confessions of a Welfare Queen/How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars." Excerpt:
It looked to me like the government was robbing Vera Coking to pay off Donald Trump. The government officials wouldn’t talk to me about it, but Trump did.

Stossel: In the old days, big developers came in with thugs with clubs. Now you use lawyers. You go to court and you force people out.

Trump: Excuse me. Other people maybe use thugs today. I don’t. I’ve done this very nicely. If I wanted to use thugs, we wouldn’t have any problems. It would have been all taken care of many years ago. I don’t do business that way. We have been so nice to this woman.
"Nice" is Trump's favorite word. People think it's "huge," but it's actually "nice."
Trump: Do you want to live in a city where you can’t build roads or highways or have access to hospitals? Condemnation is a necessary evil.

Stossel: But we’re not talking about a hospital. This is a building a rich guy finds ugly.

Trump: You’re talking about at the tip of this city, lies a little group of terrible, terrible tenements -- just terrible stuff, tenement housing.

Stossel: So what?

Trump: So what?...Atlantic City does a lot less business, and senior citizens get a lot less money and a lot less taxes and a lot less this and that.

Sadly, claims that people will be deprived of "this and that" can now be used by politicians to condemn your house. It didn’t seem right to Vera Coking. "This is America," she said. "My husband fought in the war and worked to make sure I would have a roof over my head, and they want to take it from me?"
Stossel goes on to say that Trump lost that case: "Vera Coking got to keep her home. She still lives there, surrounded by Trump’s hotel." That was written back in 2004. I looked up Vera Coking to see how she's doing these days, found a Wikipedia article, and it had this picture of her house:

That's one of what Trump called "terrible, terrible tenements." I guess if you say the adjective more than once it seems more true.

(The structure built around Coking's house in the picture isn't Trump's. It's an erection of Bob Guccione's that never achieved completion and got torn down later as Trump was building his hotel in 1993 and offering Coking a quarter of what Guccione had offered in the 1970s. Trump wanted to put a parking lot in that area. Trump built his hotel, which went out of business in 2014, which was also the year Coking finally sold her house. She got twice the amount Trump had offered in 1993, half what Guccione had offered in the 1970s.)

Obama has a long conversation with the novelist Marilynne Robinson, who's got a new book, a set of essays, on topics like fear and politics.

Obama — who professes familiarity with and love for Robinson's novels — calls attention to the essay "Fear," which, as he puts it, looks "through the prism of Christianity and sort of the Protestant traditions that helped shape us." Basically, he's interviewing her. I can't think of a time when I've read a dialogue with a President where the President is the interviewer:
The President: Tell me a little bit about how your interest in Christianity converges with your concerns about democracy.

Robinson: Well, I believe that people are images of God. There’s no alternative that is theologically respectable to treating people in terms of that understanding. What can I say? It seems to me as if democracy is the logical, the inevitable consequence of this kind of religious humanism at its highest level. And it [applies] to everyone. It’s the human image. It’s not any loyalty or tradition or anything else; it’s being human that enlists the respect, the love of God being implied in it.

The President: But you’ve struggled with the fact that here in the United States, sometimes Christian interpretation seems to posit an “us versus them,” and those are sometimes the loudest voices. But sometimes I think you also get frustrated with kind of the wishy-washy, more liberal versions where anything goes.... How do you reconcile the idea of faith being really important to you and you caring a lot about taking faith seriously with the fact that, at least in our democracy and our civic discourse, it seems as if folks who take religion the most seriously sometimes are also those who are suspicious of those not like them?

Robinson: Well, I don’t know how seriously they do take their Christianity, because if you take something seriously, you’re ready to encounter difficulty, run the risk, whatever. I mean, when people are turning in on themselves—and God knows, arming themselves and so on—against the imagined other, they’re not taking their Christianity seriously. I don’t know—I mean, this has happened over and over again in the history of Christianity, there’s no question about that, or other religions, as we know. But Christianity is profoundly counterintuitive—“Love thy neighbor as thyself”—which I think properly understood means your neighbor is as worthy of love as you are, not that you’re actually going to be capable of this sort of superhuman feat. But you’re supposed to run against the grain. It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to be a challenge....him—that he was old, that he had a young son, and so on—they create the narrative.
From the essay "Fear":
Is Barack Obama a Christian? He adopted Christianity as an adult, true, having been unaffiliated with institutional religion until then, but the whole history of the Spanish Inquisition proves how hard some people find it to trust a convert. There was a time when we Calvinists felt the force of the terror and antagonism that can be raised against those who are not Christian in a sense other people are willing to accept. This doleful trait is being played upon in our current politics....

When Christians abandon Christian standards of behavior in the defense of Christianity, when Americans abandon American standards of conduct in the name of America, they inflict harm that would not be in the power of any enemy. As Christians they risk the kind of harm to themselves to which the Bible applies adjectives like “everlasting.”...

"Yes, the debate was comfortable to Democrats concerned about their front-runner, but it should also have been worrisome to Democrats concerned about their bench."

"'The fact she did well should surprise no one,' a Biden activist told me. 'If she didn’t do well against those guys, then God help our party.” If something serious were to happen to Clinton — self-inflicted or not — the party would be entering a presidential race on favorable terrain but with a substantial talent problem. Martin O’Malley presented no rationale for a campaign; Jim Webb sounded bitter and bizarre; Lincoln Chafee at times appeared confused why he was even onstage. Sanders electrified his core supporters but didn’t suggest any newfound ability to sell his far-left platform to the general public. In a scenario where a Clinton campaign implodes, Democrats will again be desperate for a new candidate and will again review the options. Al Gore’s name will be floated. 'Al Gore is doing nothing,' said a Democrat who sits on a board with him. Same with John Kerry. 'John has not given the slightest indication he would do this,' Bob Shrum, who ran Kerry’s 2004 campaign, told me. What will be real is Biden."

From "We Are Already Months Into the Biden Campaign," by Gabriel Sherman in New York Magazine. 

October 16, 2015

"These things just sortof happened. I needed a job, and I got a job in a day-care center, and it was horrible."

"I started playing the guitar and doing role-play, which is what they do at that age. And the other teachers were like, ‘Are you drugging these kids? Why are they listening to you? Why are they not bored? Why are they not whining?’ I was like, 'I was speaking their language.'" The kids asked: "'Are you a kid or an adult? And also are you a boy or a girl?' They had no idea."

Explained Peaches, who's somebody I'm aware of because she was on Marc Maron's podcast. And I just watched "Dick in the Air."

"If I read it right, you start out scared to talk to women, you learn all these techniques and score a lot..."

"... and then... you meet this woman for whom none of it works and you fall in love and swear off your player ways."/"Yes that’s exactly it, " says Neil Strauss. "Obviously I was a journalist, this community [of pickup artists] already existed, and I went in to describe my experience of it. But because no one had even heard of this world, and the techniques, let’s face it, are so objectifying and horrifying, that the book became the bible of what it was trying to chronicle in a more neutral way. So I think all of a sudden there were these horrid ideas that people read about in The Game and ... The Game became the origin of those ideas...."

The supposedly reformed Mr. Strauss proceeds to blame mothers, saying that what he and Robert Greene ("The Art of Seduction") and Tucker Max all have in common is:
We all have narcissistic mothers. So what happened? What happens when you grow up with your identity being squashed by this mother who never sees you but only sees herself, is you grow up with a fear of being overpowered by the feminine again....
He's still overpowered, in his mind, if he needs to say that. Picture it. His mother exists, and he's telling the world she "squashed" him and only saw herself. Who's squashing here and who's only seeing himself?

"I've never seen anything like that before, and I've lived in Southern California since I was 11."

"It got really scary really quick."


"Nearly 200 vehicles, including 75 tractor-trailers, are trapped on California 58 east of Tehachapi in up to 20 feet of mud and debris after torrential rains pummeled the area and forced drivers to flee."

"There has been this band of brothers idea that there is something special about having only men, and adding women will ruin it."

"The study doesn’t bear that out.”
The [Marine] Corps approached the question of integration differently from other branches. It commissioned the nine-month ground combat study that put 300 men and 100 women in teams that performed combat skills ranging from shooting to hiking and climbing walls.

“Instead of seeing if women could meet standards, they essentially set up a race to see who was better,” [said  Ellen Haring, a senior fellow at the advocacy group and a reserve Army colonel]. The study found all-male units overwhelmingly outperformed integrated units in physical tasks — particularly tasks requiring upper body strength, such as evacuating an injured Marine from a turret or throwing a backpack onto a wall. But, the report said, integrated groups excelled at complex decision-making. It also concluded that adding women to all-male groups would probably improve the behavior of the groups as a whole.

At the Harvest Café...


... you can pick your own topics.

"Does this article say anything I couldn't just easily guess?"

I ask Meade after he sends me a link to a MarketWatch article titled "Why men are threatened by smart women/A new study suggests men might not want to date women who are smarter than them."

He says "no," but then explains that it connects to the themes that have been raised on the blog recently. He perceives the article as advice aimed at men, advice that resembles the kind of advice that's been aimed at women over the years. He's read the article. I haven't. So I was skeptical: "Is this really aimed at men?" At the headline level, it looks like more massage for the female mind, and I'm tempted to translate the title uncharitably to: Why men avoid you: You're smart! A new study suggests that the men who don't want you are not good enough for you.

Okay, now I've read the article. In the study, men were prepped for an encounter with a woman by being told that the woman scored higher than he did on an intelligence test. The men then met the woman and judged her to be relatively unattractive.
MarketWatch asked psychologists about how men can overcome bias (if they have it) against smart women.
This supports Meade's perception that it's advice for men. (It is, at least, if you get all the way to the last 3 paragraphs of a 13 paragraph article.) One psychologist tells men to focus on "appreciating" the woman and to "realize that this is an issue with your own self-esteem." Another psychologist says men could try to become more intelligent and to concentrate on other "areas of your self-concept."

This article was really aimed at...
pollcode.com free polls

"Do you need vulva emoji? Or do you want to keep typing ({|})?"

"Feministing has done an article on Flirtmoji's recent release of 15 vulva emoji, realistically asymmetrical and in a variety of pleasant colors. Designer Katy McCarthy did an interview on her work on these sexually explicit emoji and the necessity of inclusivity."

So says Metafilter. The linked Feministing article is "THESE NEW VAGINA EMOJIS ARE THE BEST." So you've got Metafilter subtly prodding the feminist blog to be a tad more accurate with the genitalia terminology.

Here's the interview with McCarthy, going into the depth of why people need sexy emoji:
What’s really beautiful about sex, and emoji, is that sex is really playful and also really difficult. And at the core of good sex is good communication. So to that end, I think that whatever it takes for you to be able to communicate what you want or need, or what you don’t want and don’t need is fine... I think with sex there are things that are really hard to say and hard to ask for, and that’s such a beautiful window to be able to provide someone with language....
This takes me back to something we were talking about yesterday, the "yes means yes" movement and how it privileges those who are language oriented. 

"We prefer to live in a world where the orgasm-inducing Hawaiian lava mushroom is real."

"A few readers have expressed doubt about the orgasm-inducing mushroom I mentioned yesterday.... None of our readers have, as far as I know, sniffed the mushroom, but they do know their way around Snopes, and they have kindly provided a link to the site's page, which says the mushroom's orgasmic power is UNPROVEN...."

Unproven doesn't mean disproven.

"These days, at least in liberal enclaves, a girl who likes baseball or wants her hair cut short is more likely to be called 'gender-nonconformist' or 'gender-expansive'..."

"... with any suggestion that she’ll grow out of such behaviors suspect as evidence of condemning rather than honoring them. She may be applauded for transcending another paradigm (the dread princess, with her ball gowns, glitter and wands) or monitored closely for signs to her adult orientation."

From a NYT article "Where Have All the Tomboys Gone?" Is there something wrong with the word (or the idea of) "tomboy" (or something good that should be revived)? I think it's better to use a word that expresses what we are seeing in the way a young girl looks and acts as she is now, than to be making predictions about what she'll do later on in life, especially if we're jumping into visualizations of her future sexual preferences and activities. It's creepy to impose adult templates. Leave the child to her freedom and personal privacy. Let children be children.

That doesn't mean you have to say the word "tomboy," which could be objected to because it's calling the girl a "tom" and a "boy," saying she's somehow male. It was a lighthearted word in the old days, and maybe for some it still is, but wearing comfortable playclothes and engaging in sports doesn't need to be associated with maleness. I'd step back and not go all gender-y with children. Let them be individuals and try to support whatever healthy, positive interests and attributes they find for themselves.

ADDED: Proofreading this post, I think I sound absurdly, flat-footedly sensible. The answers here seem so obvious to me. I don't know why so much discussion is needed.

"It’s difficult to envision how we can claim that Western society is highly sleep deprived..."

"... if these groups that live without all these modern distractions and pressing schedules sleep less or about the same amount as the average Joe does here in North America."

"I have so far resisted writing 'the baseball gods' in here but now give up."

"The baseball gods don’t toy with the players, but they enjoy writing tough little S.A.T.s on the odd evening."

Writes Roger Angell, who's written about baseball for a very long time. "I’ve been watching baseball since 1930 and have never seen...." What was it that he'd never seen that broke his career long silence about the baseball gods? Perhaps you were watching the other night.

October 15, 2015

Stephen Colbert mocks the Democrats' debate.

I laughed out loud 4 or 5 times. He's especially funny mocking Bernie Sanders, but there's also plenty of material against Hillary, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chaffee. Only O'Malley seems to evade mockery (unless I'm forgetting something).

"Donald Trump & Ben Carson Watch Democratic Debate."

"The third most popular question from Google is: Is Rand Paul still running for president?"

"And, I dunno, I wouldn't be doing this dumbass livestreaming if I weren't... This is live, we can not edit this, right?"

"The United States will halt its military withdrawal from Afghanistan and instead keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017..."

"... President Obama announced on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years."
“While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures,” said Mr. Obama, flanked by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his top military leaders. “I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.”

"As October 21, 2015, a.k.a. Back to the Future Day, nears, the film franchise is enjoying a nice, topical comeback."

"So much so that Toyota put together this cute teaser of the saga's two heroes, Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox, assessing how accurate the movies were...."

"All 29 Steven Spielberg Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best."

At New York Magazine.

I've never seen #1. Or #4.

"19 People Who Had The Hots For Martin O’Malley During The Democratic Debate."

A Buzzfeed collection of tweets.

Apple owes us $862 million.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison won a big lawsuit.

The "Very Black" project.

What does it mean? That's the point.
"We ask people how they experience the statement. The T-shirt. Us. Their experiences. Their non-experiences. That's if they care, comment or inquire. It's really engaging and no pressure," [ artist-educator André D.] Singleton said.

For both men, there's no single definition for the phrase "Very Black."

"It is for sure empowering, relatable, vast, inclusive and real," Singleton said. "It means a lot of things to a lot of people. We are learning as we go just as we have our entire lives."

"As far as I can tell, the new 'affirmative consent' paradigm allows for a very realistic possibility of two adults raping each other at the same time..."

"... which makes a mockery of the whole concept of rape. And can't people have consensual sex even if they aren't fluent in the same language? And didn't people have consensual sex before the advent of language itself? And don't nonhuman animals have consensual sex without using language? Tying consent to 'explicit permission' seems like the kind of simplistic mistake that might be made by a first-year law student, who should realize upon further reflection that the law needs to be more accommodating of the diversity of real-world situations."

Writes John.

"All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive."

Said Jennifer Lawrence, who only "spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-[BS] way; no aggression, just blunt" and was met with the response (from a male co-worker): "'Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!' As if I was yelling at him."

Yes, I know, you're going to doubt whether the way she spoke was really "in the same exact manner" that she'd heard from males. We weren't there. We don't know. But it does seem that woman are expected to pad their statements for the comfort of others and when we don't, it can be disconcerting. You can leverage that power, you know! You don't have to take care of others. And of course, by talking about it, Lawrence is declining to serve in the role of caring nurturer.

At the link, a WaPo columnist named Alexandra Petri attempts some humor by translating famous lines into the form of speech supposedly expected of a woman in a meeting. E.g.:
“Give me liberty, or give me death.”
Woman in a Meeting: “Dave, if I could, I could just — I just really feel like if we had liberty it would be terrific, and the alternative would just be awful, you know? That’s just how it strikes me. I don’t know.”
It's not like men can just say “Give me liberty, or give me death” at a meeting, and, in fact, Patrick Henry had a lot of verbiage padding the remembered line. And even that sentence had a blabby intro clause easing the bluntness: "I know not what course others may take; but as for me..." That's not that different from Petri's "That’s just how it strikes me...."

How objective are we, really, about the bluntness of other people's speech in comparison to our own? Of course, we are subjective, but that brings us back to Jennifer Lawrence's point: Part of our subjectivity in how we hear others is our response to their gender. That's the texture and energy of human life. It will not be eradicated. But we can be more aware and make better music.

"Rahm Emanuel reaps the whirlwind of Democratic rule."

It's a column by George Will. I don't know why Meade just IM'd me the link to this... maybe because we've been following Rahm Emanuel and once had the notion he'd emerge as the Democratic nominee for President in 2016, but things haven't gone so swimmingly.
It is not Emanuel’s fault that Chicago’s three largest employers, after the federal government, are the public school system, the city government and Cook County’s government...

Emanuel’s task — condign punishment for any Democrat — is to salvage the blue model by making the private sector dynamic enough to generate tax revenues sufficient to fund improvident public contracts and their pension promises. ...
Maybe it's Meade's fascination with George Will. I mean, "condign"... who talks like that?!

Later in Will's column:
The world is indeed wonderfully out of joint when Emanuel, the embodiment of pugnacious progressivism, is proud, and properly so, of the booming market for downtown residences.
The man is poet.

"Out of joint" is a phrase from "Hamlet":
The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
"Wonderfully" is used by Will — not Will Shakespeare, George Will — as just another intensifier like "very" or "really." I think! As in: My dislocated shoulder is wonderfully painful.

Imagine being 12 years old in a world where everyone was reading about your father giving some woman who is not your mother the best sex she ever had.

Politico has a story this morning about Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, "The Quiet Power Behind the Trump Throne/Ivanka Trump is her father’s most influential adviser, his most powerful surrogate—and his total opposite." Excerpt:
The caution and composure Ivanka brings to business is applied in every corner of her life and is, in part, the product of growing up as the child of a mother and father who often made tabloid headlines, including the New York Post front pager—“Best Sex I Ever Had”—about her father. Looking back at that time, when the whole world seemed to be taking sides in her parents’ divorce, she says, “You can’t control for other 12-year-old girls bringing a copy of the newspaper to school. People knew. They heard their parents talking about it at the breakfast table, so they would ask me.” Ivanka sounds like she’s straining as she seeks the most positive light for this dark moment. She says the scandalous episode probably made her appreciate her parents more. But in the end, she concludes, “I actually view it, all in all, as a thing that obviously was negative.”
I was curious about "Best Sex I Ever Had." I couldn't call up the original story, but I found a Post piece from 2012 titled "Worst ‘lust’ Trump ever had":
Marla Maples famously gushed “Best Sex I Ever Had” in a Post Page One headline when she started her affair with Donald Trump back in 1990 — but The Donald wasn’t as thrilled, according to a gossipy police confession tape.

Chuck Jones — Maples’ shoe-fetishist former publicist — has recorded a video statement for Manhattan cops and prosecutors.... “I said [to Trump], ‘Did you love [Maples]?’... He thought about it,... And it’s not like he said, ‘I’m madly in love with her.’ He said, ‘You know . . .I think it was lust . . . and had I the opportunity to do it over, I would have stayed with my family,’ ” meaning Ivana and their three kids.
Interesting... not that there's much reason to believe Jones, who convicted of "burglarizing Maples’ home and stealing 70 pairs of shoes, which he admitted he was having a 'sexual relationship with.'"

Trump is now married to his third wife, and I suppose I think more highly of a man who's on his third wife if I know that he regretted ever leaving his first wife. But how awful to be 12 years old and to see everyone reading about your father giving some woman who is not your mother the best sex she ever had.

"The yes-means-yes standard turns almost all of us into rapists. We have let the radicals hijack this issue..."

"...with disastrous results for innocent young people." = the highest-rated comment at the NYT article "Sex Ed Lesson: ‘Yes Means Yes,’ but It’s Tricky."

The next 3 highest, in order
If we're assuming women are to weak willed or stupid to even say "no" to something they don't want to do, why don't we go full 15th century and require permission from her male relatives and a marriage?

Articles like this make feel good about being 70. Keep 'em coming.

"'Kevin de León, the California State Senate speaker pro tempore and lead sponsor of the high school legislation, said the new law was as much about changing the culture as it was about changing the law.' Changing the culture? This is a law that the California legislature passed and the Governor signed. It is not purely symbolic. Students who find themselves on the wrong side of this law may be expelled from their schools. And California has left it to the students to decipher what the law means because the grown-ups like [Shafia Zaloom, a health educator at the Urban School of San Francisco,] are unable explain it. Apparently you have to break the law to find out what it means. Talk about unconstitutional vagueness!"
ADDED: The article names a particular teenage boy asking a question — “What does that mean — you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?” — and I wonder if he affirmatively consented to having his name associated with that quote in The New York Times. The teacher, who probably consented to having the press in her classroom as she forced this intimate topic on the compulsorily educated students, said: “Pretty much.... It’s not a timing thing, but whoever initiates things to another level has to ask.”

Do you want to risk looking like a dummy in that press-observed classroom by asking what, to me, seem like the obvious questions: Sex has levels? What counts as a level? When does a level begin? Is there always someone who goes to the next level first or is it possible to change levels simultaneously? Can there be 2 new levels coming up at the same time, with one person "initiating things to" new level A while the other person is "initiating things to" new level B?

Actually, now, this has me thinking of a way students could force adults to become more responsible in their sex education behavior. Listen to what the teacher said and ask questions about the meaning of the words. A phrase like "whoever initiates things to another level has to ask" contains material for a hundred questions. Do these teachers really understand what they are saying, as it applies to real human beings, or are they struggling to follow government orders?

By the way, Zaloom is not just another teacher following government orders. As we learn in paragraph 22 of this 30-paragraph article, she "has written a curriculum for affirmative consent programs that is being used throughout the country." I was surprised to see that, because much earlier in the article, she looks like just another teacher trying to follow orders. Paragraph 9 says Zaloom "has taught high school students about sex for two decades, said she was grateful for the new standard, even as she acknowledged the students’ unease."  

Grateful? Is she a receiver of the imposition of the standard or did she... initiate?

October 14, 2015

"Richard Thompson is renowned among cartoonists as the 'artist's' cartoonist."

"Little known to all but those close to him is the extent of his extraordinary art, a gift so rare that it compelled 'Calvin and Hobbes' creator, Bill Watterson, to break an almost 20 year silence and declare, 'Now I have a reason to read comics again.' Cul de Sac, his comic strip, from the beginning."

From Metafilter. I loved this:

The Art of Richard Thompson from GVI on Vimeo.

For the annals of social media celebrity.

"Shoutout to Clegg for being scared of his team mates buzzer... We saw you."/"Clegg jumping at the buzzer on #universitychallenge - does he understand how quizzes work?"

Bernie Sanders made "a Kinsley gaffe—where a politician accidentally reveals a truth he did not intend to admit."

Says Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason.com. What Sanders said was: "Every other major country on Earth, every one, including some small countries, say that when a mother has a baby, she should stay home with that baby."

Does Mangu-Ward mean that Sanders actually thinks the mother should stay home with the baby or did she mean to say it's actually true that the mother should stay home with the baby? If she only meant the former, didn't she make a Kinsley gaffe?

In the classroom theater...

... you might consider taking a much more dramatic approach to covering that text...

ADDED: This is the set of the play we saw last night, "An Iliad." Here's the text of the play, which I just bought for myself, because I want to go over it again.  As for this wonderful production, which some of the commenters on this post have seen and are talking about, here's the description at the American Players Theater website:
This is a story you may think you know; a grand classic born on the backs of gods and warriors. But... Homer’s epic is razed and reborn through the heart of a war-weary poet (Jim DeVita, at his best both in this place and in this role). Bathed in bravery, blood and the heat of battle, the telling ravages our Poet every time. But there’s a reason he’s got the job. He may be able to make us understand. Maybe make us stop. History’s greatest battle whetted to a razor-sharp edge in a stunning night of theater....

Run time: 1 hour and 50 minutes. An Iliad will be performed without an intermission.
The actor's sheer endurance was impressive, and there was no loss of energy at any point. Using the smallness of the classroom — and its tiny props — to represent the arena of the Trojan War by some miracle created the sense that this war was all wars and one death (Hector's) was all deaths. Little things became big. A postcard burnt with a lighter became the burning of Alexandria. (I had to restrain myself from shouting "Fire!" — truthfully — in a crowded theater.) I am, you may know, drawn to the mysteries of relative size — here's my "big and small" tag — and I cannot, after 64 years of life, really get my mind around largeness. So it was extremely significant to me to see the large things explained in tininess, such as sand poured on a small tabletop to represent the final encounter between Hector and Achilles, played out in wiggling fingers.

"I had a Supreme Court Justice tell me it’s over for me," said Drudge.

"They’ve got the votes now to enforce copyright law, you’re out of there. They’re going to make it so you can’t even use headlines... To have a Supreme Court Justice say to me it’s over, they’ve got the votes, which means time is limited... That will end [it] for me – fine – I’ve had a hell of a run...."

Drudge added "that web users were being pushed into the cyber ‘ghettos’ of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram": "This is ghetto, this is corporate, they’re taking your energy and you’re getting nothing in return – nothing!"

Transferable tattoo company bullied into withdrawing part of its collection of designs that celebrate the body's imperfections.

An art student named Lucie Davis worked with Topshop to put out a collection that she said was supposed to "encourage a greater appreciation and personal ownership of ourselves through highlighting imperfections and celebrating difference." The gold-colored tattoos included moles, freckles, and scars.

Somebody named Lucas Shelemy started an on-line petition calling the scars "offensive" and "disgusting." Shelemy says:
"The tagline of the product, of celebrating your 'imperfections' seems distasteful in the case of scars but more worrying still is how the majority of the designs resemble self-harm scars. Topshop should not be normalising self-harm or presenting it as a fashion trend. Not only is the glamorisation of self-injury dangerous for the mainly teenage demographic but harmful for others who have struggled with self-harm and see what for them, is a painful reminder being presented as acceptable – as long as its temporary and elegant."
Somebody wrote at the Topshop website: "I can't believe Topshop are glorifying self-harm scars, whilst not advertised as self-harm scars the scars are placed on the arm in a row which is the stereotypical idea of self-harm, absolutely disgusted."

That was enough. The product was treated as if Davis had intended to celebrate deliberately cutting yourself, a self-hating (or at least self-destructive) impulse, when the idea was to feel happy about the body's imperfections. Talk about destruction: What have the haters created?

My heart goes out to young Lucie Davis. As a person of discontinuous color (freckles), I appreciate her work.

"A Michigan woman who fired at a fleeing Home Depot shoplifter has been charged with recklessly using her concealed handgun."

"The misdemeanor charge against the gun-toting, self-appointed law enforcer is the latest twist in a case that, coming just a few days after a deadly mass shooting in Oregon, helped stir a fierce and ongoing national debate over the utility, and capacity, of ordinary people wielding concealed weapons to stop and prevent crime. The alleged act of vigilantism occurred on Oct. 6, five days after a gunman opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., and killed nine people before committing suicide...."

That's the WaPo article about Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez, who pretty obviously deserved to be charged with a crime. Boy, did she step up fast... not just to stop crime but to pose as poster child for the anti-gun propaganda that says you're delusional if you think concealed carriers of guns are going to protect you — those people are nuts.

"When we called 911, 911 said roll him on his left side. And he started throwing up all kinds of stuff, foaming, throwing up all kinds of things."

"The girls said they didn’t see anything. The police came out and with the ambulance people. They didn’t see anything. The only thing we know for sure is that he was taking an excessive amount of herbal Viagra. Not to say that he wasn’t doing any drugs. But nobody saw anything like that. They saw no effects. What I understand is that he got a phone call and was a little bit somber on Sunday afternoon for a while. And then he kind of shook it off and was having a good time. … They were having a blast with Lamar."

Said Dennis Hof, owner of the Bunny Ranch in Crystal, Nevada.

"Hassina Sarwari herself is an immoral slut and if we had captured her, she would be hanged in the main circle in Kunduz city."

Said Abdul Wali Raghi, a Taliban commander in Kunduz. "Before we managed to take control of the shelter, Hassina Sarwari, the head of the shelter house along with all the runaway sluts and immoral girls, had already left Kunduz city."
Within the first three days of the Taliban occupation, women who ran organizations aimed at helping women had their homes and offices looted, their computers stolen, their furniture, televisions and appliances smashed. Then, the Taliban left messages on their phones, or with relatives or neighbors, saying, “Return and you will be killed.”

Among the organizations destroyed by the Taliban were three radio stations run by women: One was burned, the other two looted. The Fatima Zahra girls’ high school and the Women’s Empowerment Center, which held social and political awareness sessions and taught women to sew, were also looted....

The woman who sued her 8-year-old nephew for his reckless hug loses as the jury returns a verdict that "may have hinged on a plate of hors d’oeuvres."

"'We just didn’t think the boy was negligent,' said [a] juror, who declined to be identified as she left the courthouse."
“When you’re talking about young children, you’re talking about a subjective standard - not an objective standard,” [said Quinnipiac University law professor William Dunlap]. “The child is not required to conform his behavior to the way a reasonable adult is expected to behave.”...

Judge Edward Stodolink instructed the jury to consider what a “prudent” 8-year-old boy would have done when his aunt came to his birthday party. “Prudent,” the judge emphasized.
Is there such an animal as a "prudent 8-year-old boy"? I guess it means a boy as prudent as an 8-year-old can be... or is it a child as prudent as an 8-year-old boy can be? I'm not a Connecticut torts professor. I don't know how specific the reasonable person standard can be. Is the jury allow to say, maybe a prudent 8-year-old girl would no better than to leap into the arms of a 50-year-old-aunt, but 8-year-old boys, even at their most nearly prudent, wouldn't know any better than to leap?

But what was the role of the plate of hors d’oeuvres? The linked article is a tad deceptive in its teasing. It wasn't that a plate of hors d’oeuvres was the more proximate cause of the fall that broke the aunt's wrist. It was that the jurors might have been put off by her testimony complaining about the difficulty she still has holding a plate of hors d’oeuvres. I guess she should have envisioned something less snooty on the plate. A plate of cheeseburgers.

ADDED: Isn't "prudent 8-year-old boy" an objective standard?

AND: "The aunt who sued her nephew for damages said that she was forced to do so by Connecticut law when the insurance company only wanted to pay her one dollar."

Did you get the memo?

The NYT sure did.

Hillary won that debate. She met the test. The nomination is clinched. All true Democrats stand down. Accept destiny. It is won.

The Washington Post got the memo:

Now, I've got to admit... the memo is kind of correct. It's too late for Biden to jump in. Without a significant stumble by Clinton, the debate drives home how wrong it would be for Biden to step on her now. Bernie Sanders can't be President. He's a socialist! He gave a wonderful paean to socialism last night. And who were those other guys on the stage? I mean, really, who the hell were they? Other than Martin O'Malley. Gee, he looked handsome and tall, and he was really trying to register an impression. And you've got to give him credit for at least being a Democrat, which is not a distinction any of the other men on the stage seem to have. You'd think that would be a bare minimum for the Democratic nomination. We'll see if O'Malley gets any traction in the polls, now. It's unlikely. The acceptance of Hillary is jelling. So sayeth the memo.

Here's Bernie's paean to socialism (from WaPo's nicely annotated transcript), in response to Anderson Cooper's question whether a "democratic socialist" can win:
Well, we're gonna win because first, we're gonna explain what democratic socialism is. And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it is immoral and wrong that the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country own almost 90 percent -- almost -- own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That it is wrong, today, in a rigged economy, that 57 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent. That when you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we're not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have -- we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth. Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.
ADDED: CNN got the memo:

Obama's wan approval of the Cubs.

Wow. I can't believe a Chicagoan isn't thrilled about the Cubs. Once your favorite team is eliminated, don't you just lock on to a post-season team to love? We've adopted the Cubs from up here in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin normally regards Chicago as the enemy. By "we," I mean, Meade and me. I haven't talked to everyone. I have heard at least one person say that the Cubs winning is shaking up his world. The Cubs are supposed to be ever the losers. I'd thought, that's why it's so cool when they win at long last. (Did you notice the sign in the crowd last night that read "Party like it's 1908?" (1908 was the last time the Cubs won the World Series.)) But apparently some people want the Cubs to retain their lovable-loser vibe. It's a theme in the music of the Midwest.

October 13, 2015

Oh, the debate was hot!

Headline/photo mismatch at the NYT:

This is the Democratic candidates debate post.

Please comment here. I'm not going to be live-blogging, but I'll be commenting later. I'm putting up this post in case you're looking for a place to talk about it. Some people say no one's going to want to watch this thing, but I see that Donald Trump is going to live-tweet it, so whatever ratings they get, Trump will be saying that he's the cause. You've got to watch to enjoy his tweets.

UPDATE: Did you enjoy the debate? I haven't yet read any of your comments or watched the debate. It's 10:16 Central Time here in Wisconsin and we just had an hour long drive back from Spring Green where we saw an amazing play, "An Iliad." Meade drove, and once we got back within internet range, I went to my son John's blog and read his live blog of the debate. That was efficient and entertaining. I was most amused by:
10:34 – Cooper says he's glad to see all of the candidates "back" after the commercial break, and says he's particularly glad to see Clinton back. Clinton, seeming out of breath, says: "You know, it does take me a little longer!"
UPDATE 2: I also read Meade some of Trump's tweets. This one struck me:

He retweeted "shitty"!

CNN uses the concept of "Vegas" to try to titillate us about the debate.

I found this inappropriately sexual:

Received, just now, in my email.

Now, I'll check my instincts by Googling "what does what happens in vegas stays in vegas mean," because I know the internet is quick with answers to questions like that. For example, earlier today, I found the answer to a question I had: What is happening to the weasel in "Pop Goes the Weasel" when the weasel pops? That question has a very interesting answer:
[T]here have been many suggestions for what... "Pop! goes the weasel" [means], including: that it is a tailor's flat iron, a dead weasel, a hatter's tool, a clock reel used for measuring in spinning, a piece of silver plate, or that 'weasel and stoat' is Cockney rhyming slang for "throat", as in "Get that down yer Weasel" meaning to eat or drink something. An alternative meaning involves pawning one's coat in order to buy food and drink, "weasel" is rhyming slang for "coat" "pop" is a slang word for "pawn.'

A clock reel is commonly called a spinner's weasel, and consists of a wheel which is revolved by the spinner in order to measure off thread or yarn after it has been produced on the spinning wheel. The weasel is usually built so that the circumference is six feet, so that 40 revolutions produces 80 yards of yarn, which is a skein. It has wooden gears inside and a cam, designed to cause a popping sound after the 40th revolution, telling the spinner that she has completed the skein.
As for "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," it was originally a tourism marketing slogan — "What Happens Here, Stays Here" — that was designed connect Las Vegas to something other than just gambling. The idea was:
The emotional bond between Las Vegas and its customers was freedom. Freedom on two levels. Freedom to do things, see things, eat things, wear things, feel things. In short, the freedom to be someone we couldn't be at home. And freedom from whatever we wanted to leave behind in our daily lives. Just thinking about Vegas made the bad stuff go away. At that point the strategy became clear. Speak to that need. Make an indelible connection between Las Vegas and the freedom we all crave....

"Professors guess millennial slang: UC Berkeley edition."

I found that because I was already at The Daily Californian as a result of Instapundit's link to "Berkeley Law’s ‘critical mass’ policy results in racial divisions." I was thinking I should write about that, and maybe I still should, but I've got to say that I impulsively clicked on the "Professors guess millennial slang: UC Berkeley edition" link in the sidebar. I guess I needed some refreshment.

The truth is I don't think what the law school is doing is so bad, within the context of the affirmative action law we have from the Supreme Court, which approved of the "critical mass" theory in Grutter. The law school doesn't have enough black students to get the critical-mass effect in all of its small sections, so it concentrates black students in some of the sections and leaves one section with no black students at all.

The idea of "critical mass," which justified taking race into account in admissions, is — according to Grutter — to have enough students of a particular minority in the classroom so that the minority student in the classroom isn't looked upon as expressing some sort of typical minority viewpoint. The idea is to overcome stereotypes and let all the students see each other as individuals.

First world problems...

"Many Professors Anxious About Legally Armed Students in Their Classrooms."

"I’m sure that many professors in the past were uncomfortable about having women, or blacks, or openly gay students in their classrooms, too. But happily, progress marches on and people’s visceral fears and dislikes weren’t allowed to rule."

Writes Glenn Reynolds.

I can see how it's disturbing to know that students might have guns, but I'm puzzling over the way knowing there are guns becomes more disturbing when you know that some of the people who have guns have them because it's not against the law. You might say, it's irrational to be disturbed, since using the gun other than in self-defense or the defense of others would be against the law, and if you're only worried about people doing things that are against the law, the legality of having guns should be irrelevant (or should cut the other way, since it's possible that a law-abiding, gun-bearing person might defend you against the law-violating, gun-bearing person).

But — as I was saying the other day — a professor could be worried about students who impulsively become violent and, because they have a gun with them, do far more damage than if they were unarmed when they suddenly become murderous.

Anyway, a student with a concealed weapon is not like a student who is female, black, or openly gay. For one thing, you don't have the easy option of leaving your femaleness, blackness, or open gayness back at home. It's possible to cover up these things, but for most of us, it's not easy. A gun isn't a necessary component of your physical being, and carrying a gun is behavior that you can chose to engage in or not. Schools impose many limitations on behavior, frequently based on fairly superficial distaste about things that involve essential personal freedom, such as how you dress and whether you can talk and move around. It's not the case that teachers must learn to tolerate students exercising their personal freedoms in the classroom.

"I live knowing that whatever my blackness means to me can be at odds with what it means to certain white observers, at any moment."

"So I live with two identities: mine and others’ perceptions of it. So much of blackness evolving has been limited to whiteness allowing it to evolve, without white people accepting that they are in the position of granting permission. Allowing. If that symbiotic dynamic is going to change, white people will need to become more conscious that they, too, can be perceived."

So writes Wesley Morris in a long New York Times Magazine article "The Year We ObsessedOver Identity" with the long subtle: "2015's headlines and cultural events have confronted us with the malleability of racial, gender, sexual and reputational lines. Who do we think we are?" The article has some topics that I've covered on this blog over the year — Rachel Dolezal, Atticus Finch — but the reason I wanted to blog this is that it ends talking about a book that I happened to notice for the first time yesterday, "Far From the Tree," by Andrew Solomon. Here's how Wesley Morris uses that book:
It could be that... it’s... in our natures to keep trying to change, to discover ourselves. In ‘‘Far From the Tree,’’ Andrew Solomon’s landmark 2012 book about parenting and how children differentiate themselves, he makes a distinction between vertical and horizontal identity. The former is defined by traits you share with your parents, through genes and norms; the latter is defined by traits and values you don’t share with them, sometimes because of genetic mutation, sometimes through the choice of a different social world. The emotional tension in the book’s scores of stories arises from the absence of love for or empathy toward someone with a pronounced or extreme horizontal identity — homosexuality or autism or severe disability. Solomon is writing about the struggle to overcome intolerance and estrangement, and to better understand disgust; about our comfort with fixed, established identity and our distress over its unfixed or unstable counterpart.

"... Bob Dylan’s backlit corona of hair, the Chicago logo embossed in chocolate and Bruce Springsteen sharing a private joke with the saxophonist Clarence Clemons..."

The album covers of John Berg, who has died at the age of 83.
At Columbia, Mr. Berg’s job drew not only on his flair for packaging but also on his esteemed eye for selection. Assigned to create a cover for “Born to Run,” he found himself contemplating with distaste the sober posed photograph that Mr. Springsteen had chosen.

“Bruce showed me the picture he wanted, which I always describe as ‘John Updike,’ ” Mr. Berg recalled in The East Hampton Star interview. “He looked like an author, one of those back-cover-of-his-book pictures. I asked him to leave the stuff with me and I would go through the contacts.”

Sifting the images, by Eric Meola, Mr. Berg came upon one of Mr. Springsteen in a moment of candid intimacy, his face dissolving in mirth as he leaned on Mr. Clemons’s shoulder.

With that image, the album’s cover became one of the most totemic of all time....

Playboy gets rid of the pictures of naked ladies — because they're "just passé."

"As part of a redesign that will be unveiled next March, the print edition of Playboy will still feature women in provocative poses. But they will no longer be fully nude."
Its executives admit that Playboy has been overtaken by the changes it pioneered. “That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

For a generation of American men, reading Playboy was a cultural rite, an illicit thrill consumed by flashlight. Now every teenage boy has an Internet-connected phone instead....
Ah, the end of an era. My father was one of Playboy's original fans, going back to the first issue, which was in 1953. I was born in 1951, and I don't remember a time, growing up, when I didn't see Playboy openly displayed on the coffee table in the living room. Maybe somewhere there was "a generation of American men," ogling Playboy as "an illicit thrill," but my father, a member of "the greatest generation," was an adult married man when the great magazine began, and I, a baby boomer, never saw the publication as illicit. The idea that the internet, with "every sex act imaginable for free," has ousted the naked ladies from Playboy seems rather absurd. But the magazine lives on, and cutting out the nudity seems to be a way to bring in the younger audience:
There will still be a Playmate of the Month, but the pictures will be “PG-13” and less produced — more like the racier sections of Instagram. “A little more accessible, a little more intimate,” [Flanders] said. It is not yet decided whether there will still be a centerfold.
Its sex columnist, [top editor Cory] Jones said, will be a “sex-positive female,” writing enthusiastically about sex. And Playboy will continue its tradition of investigative journalism, in-depth interviews and fiction.... Some of the moves, like expanded coverage of liquor, are partly commercial, Mr. Flanders admitted; the magazine must please its core advertisers. And all the changes have been tested in focus groups with an eye toward attracting millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 30-something, highly coveted by publishers. The magazine will feature visual artists, with their work dotted through the pages, in part because research revealed that younger people are drawn to art.
Good for you, younger people, drawn to art. At some point, perhaps, you've seen enough photography of nakedness, and drawing and painting are new. The Playboy I remember had plenty of art. All those cartoons... and Vargas.

October 12, 2015

"On the merits of the case, I would have identified with the [Renoir Sucks at Painting] people at a time... when I had left the first class of people who like Renoir and had yet to join the second."

Writes Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker. The 2 groups are:

1. "[T]he young, discovering that art might be something they understand. Renoir’s winsome subjects and effulgent hues jump in your lap like a friendly puppy. He’s easy."

2. "[T]hose who have stopped fortifying their self-esteem with pride in their sophistication."

Hmm. I don't know. I detect pride in #2. I think there's a post #2 position. But then, perhaps, there is, somewhere out there, #3.

"The week, the world learned about Jonah Reider, a 21-year-old Columbia University senior who's operating a 'restaurant' (of sorts) named Pith, which he runs out of his dorm room."

"The idea is that it costs just $10 to $20 for five- to eight-course dinners (capped at four people) that Reider prepares in his dorm's common kitchen."
It quickly became popular among students, and because of the influx of press, Reider says non-collegiate New Yorkers have actually made Pith overbooked. But unlike, say, Flynn McGarry, Reider says he started doing this to get away from high-end restaurant culture, and he's not even sure he wants to make cooking his career. He realizes that, if he does, he'll have to put in a lot more work: "I recognize how presumptuous it is to casually cook and get so much attention," he says.
An interview with Reider at the link.

"Academe has been unfavorably compared to many things: a cult, a bad boyfriend, fraternity-style hazing, or indentured servitude."

"In all of those analogs, victims are bound to perpetrators in such a way that the victims believe they have chosen to stay in dysfunctional relationships, when in reality they have been manipulated or coerced into them."

"The wish to hurt others is tied not to autism but to psychopathy, which manifests in a deficiency or absence of empathy and remorse."

"Some autistic people may not recognize why they cause distress; psychopaths don’t care that they cause distress. Autistic people may see the world from a singular, personal perspective; psychopaths are often cunning manipulators who act according to perceived self-interest without regard for the destruction they cause. Psychopathy seems to have coincided with autism in the cases of Mr. Harper-Mercer at Umpqua and Adam Lanza at Newtown, Conn. Psychopathy apparently coincided with depression and grandiosity in the cases of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine and Elliot O. Rodger at Isla Vista, Calif. Psychopathy almost certainly coincided with schizophrenia in the cases of James Holmes in Aurora, Colo., and Jared Loughner in Tucson. You can categorize such people as having a common madness only if your criterion for madness is their behavior itself...."

From a NYT op-ed, "The Myth of the 'Autistic Shooter,'" by Andrew Solomon. Solomon is identified only as "the author, most recently, of 'Far From the Tree,'" so I looked up "Far From the Tree." Subtitled "Parents, Children and the Search for Identity," it's a very long book about the "startling proposition... that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition—that difference is what unites us."

"I don't know who 90% of these characters are, but they all brought it, didn't they?"

Top-rated comment at "The Costumes of New York Comic-Con 2015," an unusual post for Tom & Lorenzo, who typically cover high fashion shows and celebrities. They say:
[T]here’s no happier nerd than a nerd among his or her kind. Regardless of whether you share the same nerdy passions as any of the people in the following shots, it’s hard not to smile at the glorious self-expression, body-positivity, and technical skill that compels your average cosplayer to put on his or her very own version of a drag show. And like most drag queens, they are all more than happy to immediately cop a pose and hold it for however long it takes you to get a picture.
I like this guy.

Kansas City Royals...

... cartoons.

If we don't get Joe Biden, there won't be one candidate who's running on Barack Obama's record.

8 years ago, Obama ran on "CHANGE," which is what we expect from the candidate from the party that hasn't held the presidency, but now, is the argument to be "CHANGE," once again, including from every candidate in Obama's own party?

Last night, on "60 Minutes," Steve Kroft confronted Obama with the stark fact: "Right now, there's nobody on either side of the aisle that is exactly running on your record." And the NYT has an article "A Likely Debate Highlight: Democrats’ Distance From Obama":
In the seven years since Mr. Obama entered the White House on a wave of excitement, Democrats have developed a complicated relationship with their standard-bearer. And that is especially true for those running for their party’s nomination.

Mr. Obama’s legacy and how much a Democratic successor should embrace it will hover over the debate... Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders promise different approaches from Mr. Obama’s, as much in style as in substance.....
Shouldn't there be a voice saying Obama's been good, we need more of the same? Whether you believe we need more of the same or not, don't you think that should be one of the options for voters and one of the positions taken in the debate? I think there are plenty of Americans who'd like a way to say that Obama has been a success. How sad — for some, at least — to see our President abandoned, run away from! Or at least, isn't it ridiculous, every 4 or 8 years, to hear a new set of imperfect individuals claiming that they've got something different and it's going to be better than the reality we just experienced?

When was the last President who got support from his party's follow-on candidate? John McCain ran away from George W. Bush, and Al Gore distanced himself from Bill Clinton. You have to go back to 1988 to find a candidate who reinforced his party's President.

I'd like to see Joe Biden enter the race with the focused message that Obama has been good, and I am offering America not change, but continuity. Otherwise, it's a grim 15 months we face, with a President getting torn down from all sides. I'm not saying I want a continuation of Obama, only that I want one voice in the debate arguing for the continuation. We need that and we deserve to hear that, not merely, within the President's party, Hillary and Bernie fighting to get better distance between themselves and our President.

Run, Joe!

Impression, sunrise.


A morning walk through the neighborhood, just now.


"You're carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I'm carrying a HUGE DILDO."

University of Texas student begins what she calls #CocksNotGlocks, a protest against the new Texas law permitting the licensed concealed carrying of guns on campus. The protest is accomplished by "strapping gigantic swinging dildos to our backpacks."

Unlike the guns, the dildos are not concealed. They are out there in your face, including the faces of those who — in other contexts — urge us to become sensitized to sexual aggression. How is a rape survivor supposed to feel sitting next to students with "gigantic swinging dildos" hanging from their backpacks? And what of the men who have cared about the critique of the "rape culture"? What are they to think seeing their private parts likened to weaponry and bandied about in disembodied form detached from the feeling, caring body of a human being? And why the specification that the dildos be "gigantic"? Is this not body-shaming the vast majority of men, taunting them with a thoroughly unattainable standard?

Obama distances himself from Hillary's email troubles.

From the transcript of last night's "60 Minutes":
Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton's use of private email server--

President Barack Obama: No.
He's quick with that "no."
Steve Kroft: --while she was Secretary of State?

President Barack Obama: No.

Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem?

President Barack Obama: I don't think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and-- you know, as a general proposition, when we're in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it's been ginned-up is in part because of-- in part-- because of politics. And I think she'd be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But--
The repetition of "in part" is telling. There's a criticism in there. Republicans are making too big a deal of it. But Hillary made mistakes.
Steve Kroft: What was your reaction when you found out about it?

President Barack Obama: This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season.
Obama did not answer the question. Kroft interrupted with a question, Obama continued answering the question he was was working on, and Kroft did not repeat the question. Obama has a packaged, distancing message, and he gets it out.
Steve Kroft: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not-- not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?
Obama has already said that the Republicans have made too big of a deal out of it, but the new question tries to eliminate the comparative. It could be a big deal but not as big a deal as the Republicans have made out of it.
President Barack Obama: Well, I'm not going to comment on--

Steve Kroft: You think it's not that big a deal--

President Barack Obama: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment. I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America's national security was endangered.
More distancing. He covers the ground he could be held responsible for — America's national security — and leaves her to explain herself to the American public. The question wasn't, however, whether Hillary will persuade Americans to let her off the hook, but whether it's "that big a deal." Obama did not help her off the hook. He won't say. And the next question shows why he was smart not to let Kroft nail him down:
Steve Kroft: This administration has prosecuted people for having classified material on their private computers.

President Barack Obama: Well, I-- there's no doubt that there had been breaches, and these are all a matter of degree. We don't get an impression that here there was purposely efforts-- on-- in-- to hide something or to squirrel away information. But again, I'm gonna leave it to--
Steve Kroft: If she had come to you.

President Barack Obama: I'm going to leave it to Hillary when she has an interview with you to address all these questions.
And so the deflecting of Hillary email questions skitters to an end. You got a problem with Hillary, go ask Hillary.

Fitly enough, the next question is whether he wants Joe Biden to get into the race, a question set up by an implicit dig at Hillary — "Right now, there's nobody on either side of the aisle that is exactly running on your record." Obama, continuing his evasiveness, refuses to say: It's up to Joe to decide, but what a great vice president Joe Biden has been:
I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history, and one of the more consequential. 
Didn't every viewer make the same wisecrack we did? Finest vice president... that's not saying much!

Donald Trump "is a great publicity-seeker and at a time when the Republican party hasn't really figured out what it's for, as opposed to what it's against."

"I think that he is tapped into something that exists in the Republican party that's real. I think there is genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in the large portion of at least Republican primary voters. I don't think it's uniform. He knows how to get attention. He is, you know, the classic reality TV character and, at this early stage, it's not surprising that he's gotten a lot of attention.... I don't think he'll end up being president of the United States."

Said President Obama, talking to Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes" last night.

What's notable about that statement — compared to the various pundits who've tried to explain Trump's political success — is that he doesn't go straight for the one big amorphous emotion — anger — that Trump supposedly expresses for the people who are drawn to him. Obama makes it about one issue, immigration, but he frames that issue as an emotion, a "sentiment," focused on a particular type of person, the "immigrant."

But most of what Obama has to say is that Trump is an attention-getter, and he thinks, I think, that the man not only shouldn't be President of the United States, he shouldn't be getting the attention of the President of the United States.

October 11, 2015

"Do you think if you ran again — could run again and did run again — you would be elected?" "I do."

President Obama answers Steve Kroft immediately and in 2 short words... just now on "60 Minutes."

And he's right.

The UW lab volunteers on psilocybin love the string cheese: "They find it very fun because it’s very stringy."

That's my favorite detail from this long article about the study of "pharmacologically-aided psychotherapy" here at the University of Wisconsin.

The subjects can "put on eye shades and headphones," "wear an anti-anxiety blanket," and listen to music that "ranges from contemplative, chanting and classical to Beatles arrangements with no lyrics." (What's wrong with lyrics? Too influential?)

There's a description of one 62-year-old subject's experience:
“I went down the DNA spiral and encountered my ancestry, my family, then the whole human race,” he said. Later, he saw himself and all humankind standing on a cliff. “We joined hands and jumped off. At that point consciousness ended, reality ended, ego ended,” he said.
Strangely enough, these researchers are not looking for the mystical details:  “We’re mainly interested in their blood and urine... This is a pharmacokinetics study.”

This 5'10" man was held at sword point by a 5'7" woman who had trained in medieval combat with the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Karen Dolley, 43, woke up at midnight to the sound of a man's voice, "leapt out of bed, turned on the lights and saw him standing in her living room."
[S]he immediately attacked, punching him about 10 times and cornering him in her bedroom. She reached for her gun in a nearby drawer, but she accidentally opened the wrong drawer.... She reached for her backup weapon, a Japanese-styled sword called ninjato, which she keeps near her bed...
The police arrived 2 minutes after she called, and the guy, Jacob Wessel, apologized as they were taking him away.
Dolley is only upset that the intruder ruined her sleep and angered her cat.

“At the end of the day, I’m glad to know that even if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m not going down without a fight,” Dolley said.

Elaborate NYT graphic makes me think something quite different from what they want me to think.

"Here are 120 million Monopoly pieces, roughly one for every household in the United States," says the text, and we see a large pile of green Monopoly "houses" (blocking the view of the White House), and when we try to scroll down, the screen zooms in, and we see a few red Monopoly "hotels" on the top of the pile. The text changes to: "Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House."

This is a great graphic. Loved it. But it got me thinking, and I read this:
They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters... Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.
Now, first of all, we're talking about spending money on speech, that's what Citizens United "legalized." I'm putting "legalized," in quotes, because what the Supreme Court did in Citizens United was to perceive the existence of a constitutional right, a right to spend money on speech. These are not contributions to the presidential campaigns, but companies [in Citizens United and families and their companies in the NYT study] spending their own money to get their opinions out into the marketplace of ideas, just as The New York Times corporation spends its money to get its ideas out, including its idea that there's something spurious about corporations engaging in political speech.

And, second, if we're talking about families — 158 families — how are they "overwhelmingly... male"? Are there a lot of gay men spending this money or just heterosexual couples who somehow produce far more sons than daughters? Or is it that the NYT is operating within the old stereotype that sees a family with a man in it as headed by the man?

That said, what I really want to talk about is that pile of Monopoly houses, far, far outnumbering the hotels. There are 120 million households, and 158 spend half of what is  spent, and amount that's only $176 million. If all of the households gave just $5, that would be $600 million, vastly overwhelming those supposedly fearsome, overspending, rich, white men. That money could be given directly to that candidate (since it comes, obviously, nowhere near the limit).

Instead of complaining about 158 families spending $176 million (which strikes me as a fairly paltry amount, especially since only $2,700 can be given to a candidate), the clamor should be about the need for everyone to give just a little money to someone. Skip one cup of coffee, one cheeseburger, one movie, and give the money to the candidate you like best. It could be so easy.

And yet bitching about those terrible rich people — those terrible male white people — serves other political interests... interests that the rich white males who own The New York Times have a constitutional right to push with all the powerful rhetoric and lovely graphics they can muster.

ADDED: Why did the NYT draw the line at 158 families? Why not analyze the top 150 families or the top 200? I can't help feeling that the Times drew the line where it would make the other facts seem most dramatic. We're told they contributed "nearly half of the early money." Why not draw the line at exactly half? If we included the next 10% or 20% or 30% of the early money, how many families would we see and how different would the conclusions have to be?

UPDATE: Power Line links to this post and says:
The rich people who own the New York Times, and the reporters and editors who work for them, are very clear about their own First Amendment right to devote corporate assets to weighing in on the issues of the day, but they are eager to deprive everyone else of the same right, especially those who don’t agree with their far-left perspective....

What the New York Times really objects to is diversity. The only way to get free speech nowadays–diverse free speech, anyway–is to pay for it. Thank God there are a handful of people with the means and the will to do so.
And Jaltcoh, at Facebook, quotes my statement — "if we're talking about families — 158 families — how are they 'overwhelmingly... male'?" — and somebody suggests: "Single-person households that only contain men?" That makes me say:
If that's what it is, then I object to the use of the word "families." Has the NYT picked up the sentimentality of politicians, who continually talk about "families," as if single people didn't exist? The word "households" appears in the article, and I think anyone talking about demographics needs to notice the difference between "families" and "households" and be more careful.