March 27, 2015

"While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server..."

"... it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department."

Women and their hard-fought court cases.

1.  "Italy’s highest court overturned the murder convictions of Amanda Knox and her Italian former boyfriend on Friday, throwing out all charges and ending a long-running courtroom drama over the killing of a British student in 2007."

2. "One of Silicon Valley’s most famous venture capital firms prevailed on Friday over a former partner in a closely watched suit claiming gender discrimination.... The plaintiff, Ellen Pao, had accused the firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, of discriminating against her in the course of her employment and eventual dismissal."

"A racist song... caught on video was a fixture within a fraternity chapter at the University of Oklahoma, not an anomaly..."

"... the university reported Friday, and members first learned it at a gathering of the national fraternity four years ago."

It's street construction time around here.

DSC04046

I'm glad it's the small mountain of dirt that got placed in front of our house. Elsewhere, there's heavy machinery...

DSC04050

There's some noisy ripping up of everything getting started, but I'm thinking of the future. The curbs have been crumbled for the entire 30 years I've lived here. It will be startling to see sharp, intact curbs on this street for the first time.

And, no, that's not my yard sign. I don't do yard signs. I'm a distanced observer of the political scene. Cruelly neutral is my brand.

"If you weren't imagining a MALE (NUDE) engaged in PHONE SEX while wearing a SANTA HAT, well... you are now, and you're welcome."

For the fantastic/alarming visual alone, I'm going to give that SW corner the 'Best SW Corner Of All Time' award. … The only thing I'd change about that corner is the "G" in GIMPS. I get that it's supposed to add (I think) to the overall mildly perverted feel of that corner (insofar as 'GIMPS' reminds me of 'The Gimp' from 'Pulp Fiction'), but it's a borderline offensive word (making it a verb doesn't really change that). I'd actually prefer PIMPS there, though I somehow doubt that would fly in the NYT. LIMPS or SIMPS works too. But this is hardly that important. What's important is MALE NUDE PHONE SEX SANTA HAT. *That* is a jolly good time. It's like the rest of the puzzle barely exists..."

From Rex Parker's discussion of yesterday's NYT crossword.

"Shame... is a social feeling, born from a perception of other people’s disgust, a susceptibility to their contempt and derision."

"You see yourself from the point of view of your detractors; you pelt yourself with their revulsion, and as you do you begin... to lose track of the self altogether. Someone else’s narrow, stiffened vision of who you are replaces your own mottled, expansive one. As Lewinsky listened to the recordings of her phone calls, she tells us, she heard her voice as if it belonged to a different person: 'My sometimes catty, sometimes churlish, sometimes silly self being cruel, unforgiving, uncouth.' It was 'the worst version of myself, a self I didn’t even recognize.'"

From a New Yorker article by Alexandra Schwartz called "Monica Lewinsky and the Shame Game."

"A letter found in a waste bin in Andreas Lubitz's apartment indicated he 'was declared by a medical doctor unfit to work'..."

"... Dusseldorf prosecutor Christoph Kumpa said."

And here's a NYT op-ed, written by a former pilot titled "Inside a Pilot’s Mind/After Germanwings Plane Crash, Pondering Pilot Psychology":
I flew many times with a born-again Christian who talked constantly about Adam and Eve and other Bible stories. Could his religious beliefs have caused us to handle an in-flight emergency differently? It never happened, so I can’t say. Another pilot would tell me about his crazy sex life on the road. He’d kiss his wife and kids goodbye and then become a totally different person for seven days.

But these are ordinary varieties of human behavior — nothing that would predict some catastrophic course of action....

Who was that the man who killed the Wisconsin state trooper in Fond du Lac?

We talked about this shoot out here. The topic of race came up, though the article didn't mention the race of the man, Steven Timothy Snyder, who was also shot and killed, or of the trooper, Trevor Casper. But insinuations about race crept into the comments. I was accused of hitting "a new low," because I "must have known the reaction your post would get from some of your horribly racist commenters."

Now we learn something racial about Snyder and not just that he was white:

"You are on notice that we will be watching, reading, listening and protesting coded sexism."

Said email received by NYT reporter Amy Chozick from a group called "Hillary Clinton Super Volunteers," reported at Reason, which says that the problem is that "many if not most" of the words the group says it's looking out for "have been used to describe non-Clinton candidates — some of them men — as well."

Well, of course! How else could it be code? You've got to have your deniability. You can't get off the hook that easily.

You know, I too am watching, reading, listening for the sexism in seemingly sex-neutral language, and I have been doing that for a lot longer than the 11 years of this blog. For example, women are called "strident." It's like calling black people "shiftless" or "uppity." Well, white people can be "shiftless" and "uppity" too. Yeah, but we at least know that saying "shiftless" or "uppity" about a black person is coded racism. It might get more sophisticated and questionable beyond that. Is it coded racism to call a black person "articulate" or "eloquent"? You might want to argue about that, but straight out denial is lame and shallow.

Similarly, in talking about women, there is language that those who care about the equality of women should notice. And the Hillary Clinton Super Volunteers have listed some words:

Now, obviously, these are people pushing Hillary's candidacy, and they're trying to intimidate and manipulate the media. The media can't let this cow them. Mustn't criticize Hillary. We might get called sexist for any criticism we make. That would be incredibly lame, and in fact, I think that if a female President can command that kind of privilege over speech, we'd better not have a female President. I don't want a politician that we're not free to kick around. That's dangerous!

But that's no reason to abandon the project watching for coded sexism in language. That's the reason to look not only for sexism — and racism — but for political interest. We shouldn't take statements at face value. That would be naive. There's a lot going on in language, and we ought to take a closer look at everything... including what Hillary and her people say about other women... words like "narcissistic" and "loony toon."

"In Japan there is a disturbing trend for disaffected young men to fall in love with a pillow printed with their favorite anime character and announce the pillow is their girlfriend."

"So thank goodness your boyfriend does not have such a relationship with any of his [two dozen stuffed animals]. Men have been told that women do not want testosterone-addled brutes in their lives (OK, maybe the success of Fifty Shades sends some mixed messages), and you don’t get much less brutish than a stuffed animal collection. It’s a good sign that the group is only 20 percent of what it once was and that with one exception they live in the closet. You yourself have gone through life with a special teddy bear (do you bring him to your boyfriend’s for a sleepover with his special friend?), so you’re right, you should be more accepting. If this is the only thing that bothers you about a great guy, then you need to look at your own sexist beliefs."

From Emily Yoffe's advice column. 

6 things:

1. Does objecting to one extreme — "testosterone-addled brutes" — mean you're hypocritical to accept the other extreme? That excludes a preference for someone who fits your conception of balanced, moderate, and normal.

2. I don't think people seeking a life partner should be told to "be more accepting." You'd better find somebody who's right in the zone of what you like, whatever it is. The problem I see with this woman is that she's not looking closely enough at what she herself likes. She wants an outsider to pass judgment on whether there's something wrong with the man. I'd say it's not that this woman needs to "be more accepting," but that she shouldn't deny herself the pleasure and fulfillment of accepting this man, if that's what she wants.

3. Is it "sexist" to consider writing off a man who has a big stuffed animal collection? This woman is (apparently) heterosexual, so she's already applying "sexist" judgment in her choice of a partner. If that's okay and not sexist — and what a weird world it would be if we thought we shouldn't do that — then why is it wrong, as you search for a person of the sex you prefer, to search more precisely for the manifestation of masculinity (or femininity) that you find especially appealing? The problem, as stated at #2, is that the woman is having trouble using her own thoughts and feelings and wants to import what other people think.

4. Having her own teddy bear does not obligate the woman to accept a man with huge stuffed animal collection. To have one is very different from having a big collection — in stuffed animals and in many things. But more important, you can quite appropriately want to possess various things and at the same time not want your partner to have things like that. If she discovered that her boyfriend has a big collection of makeup, the argument that she should accept it because she too has makeup is something that we easily see as silly. (Maybe the day is coming when it won't look silly per se.)

5. If the brutishness of brutish men has a physical cause — testosterone — shouldn't we be more empathetic the way we are toward other medical conditions that impair the mind? Isn't it ableist of us to direct hostility toward "testosterone-addled brutes"?

6. "Men have been told that women do not want testosterone-addled brutes in their lives...." What, exactly, have men been told and how have they adjusted? I think the message has been that women don't want violence and subordination. No sensible man should read that to mean that women want babyish men. If the man is too dumb to understand that the rejection of violence and subordination is not a rejection of masculinity, then maybe the problem is that he's too dumb. Or he just doesn't love women enough to get the message straight.

"With investigators set to turn over reports to Dane County’s district attorney Friday on the controversial police shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson..."

"... law enforcement and protesters are preparing for what will happen after the prosecutor announces whether he will charge the officer involved...."
As the investigation wraps up, protest leaders are already planning their response to Ozanne’s decision, and Madison Police Chief Mike Koval says his department has also been working on how it will manage demonstrations following the announcement.....

The chief asked for 24 hours’ notice before Ozanne publicizes his decision, Koval said, so police could reach out to community groups and have officers in place ahead of the announcement....

Madison’s Young, Gifted and Black Coalition... members say they don’t expect Kenny will be charged....

Koval said Thursday he believes Ozanne will likely wait until toxicology test results from Robinson are available — a process he estimated could take another two weeks....
The roll-out of information and decisions is, I take it, an aspect of the management of demonstrations.

"The German investigators said they had not found a suicide note or 'any indication of a political or religious' nature among the documents secured in Mr. Lubitz’s apartment."

"'However, documents were secured containing medical information that indicates an illness and corresponding treatment by doctors,' prosecutors said in a statement...."
Carsten Spohr, the chief executive of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, said on Thursday that Mr. Lubitz had passed the company’s health checks with “flying colors.”

“He was 100 percent flightworthy without any limitations,” Mr. Spohr said.

This Senate seat is lost.

Harry Reid will not seek reelection.

March 26, 2015

That was nerve-wracking.

Celebrating Wisconsin's victory.

"I grew up listening to classic rock, and I'll tell you sort of an odd story: My music taste changed on 9/11."

"And it's very strange. I actually intellectually find this very curious. But on 9/11, I didn't like how rock music responded. And country music collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me. And I have to say, it just is a gut-level. I had an emotional reaction that says, these are my people... So ever since 2001, I listen to country music. But I'm an odd country music fan, because I didn't listen to it prior to 2001."

Said Ted Cruz, quoted in Rolling Stone (where I got via Jaltcoh, who said "On 21st-century rock music, I don't like how Ted Cruz responded").

I can understand feeling so different because of 9/11 that your preference for music would changed. You might resist loud, harsh guitars and self-involved, cynical words. You might find succor in mellower instrumentation and sincere-sounding lyrics. But Cruz's isn't only talking about how he felt, subjectively. He does speak of what "resonated with" him, on a "gut-level." But he's also passing judgment on musicians, how they responded.

"The frustrating/strange/down right annoying thing is, I frequently hear things like 'that's not a real job'...:

"... 'you can't possibly make enough money doing that!,' 'that's only a temporary thing, right?' and '"what are you going to do after this?' But what is a 'real job'?.... Is blogging not a real job because you can't go to school for it or because you don't need a resume to do it? Is it not a real job because you don't need an interview to fill the position or because you don't personally know anyone who does it?... Whatever your answer I assure you, blogging is a real job.... I pay all my own bills with the money I make blogging.... It needs to be acknowledged that any way of supporting yourself even if it isn't traditional, so long as you aren't stealing or hurting anyone, is a real job. It seems awfully silly to criticize someone for making a living doing something they love and enjoy, doesn't it?..."

 Writes The Dainty Squid (on a blog I quite like).

I'm all for giving respect to those who can make their living doing free-lance writing (such as blogging), but part of the respect I'd like to give is that you are free lance, you are independent, you have avoided getting a job.

You ask the question "What is a job?" You made that the centerpiece of your thinking, apparently because you're letting people get into your head, demeaning you with the statement that you don't have a job, and that tracks you into arguing for a broader meaning for the word "job" so that what you do gets to be "a job."

But why do you want that? Because it's the word other people use to make you feel bad about your freedom and success?

I'd say: Get the upper hand in these conversations with jerks. You're lucky not to have to work for somebody else in the structured position known as "a job" (to use the narrow definition of the word you'd prefer to stretch). You're an entrepreneur.

When did the job become the standard of a worthy, successful life?

ADDED: I'd say more about the word "job," but it was only a couple months ago that I wrote "5 things about the word 'job.'"

"There was a 'deliberate attempt to destroy the aircraft'..."

"... Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said Thursday about the Germanwings crash."
The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight “accelerated the descent” of the plane when he was alone in the cockpit, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said Thursday. That can only be done deliberately, he said. The co-pilot was alive until impact, Robin said, citing the sound of breathing in the cockpit.

The most plausible explanation of the crash is that the copilot, “through deliberate abstention, refused to open the cabin door … to the chief pilot, and used the button” to cause the plane to lose altitude....
ADDED: Here's a much more substantial report in the NYT report:
[Brice Robin] said it appeared that the intention of the co-pilot, identified as Andreas Lubitz, had been “to destroy the aircraft.”... He said there was no indication that this was a terrorist attack, and that Mr. Lubitz was not known to law enforcement officials...

The prosecutor said that the authorities had a full transcript of the final 30 minutes of the voice recorder. “During the first 20 minutes, the pilots talk normally,” he said, saying they spoke in a “cheerful” and “courteous” way. “There is nothing abnormal happening,” he said...

“You can hear the commanding pilot ask for access to the cockpit several times,” the prosecutor said. “He identifies himself, but the co-pilot does not provide any answer. You can hear human breathing in the cockpit up until the moment of impact,” he said.

March 25, 2015

"The 1960s Dance Craze That NOBODY Remembers…I’m Crying From Laughing So Hard!"

Well, hell. Go ahead and act like that. Whether the Nitty Gritty is a specific dance or not, I remember the single, and I accept this as absolutely core 60s dancing:

"In what might be the ultimate insult in technology circles, Ms. Hermle also said Ms. Pao was not a 'thought leader,'..."

"... which is Silicon Valley jargon for someone who can tell a room of their peers and superiors things they did not know and make them appreciate it."

From the NYT article "At Kleiner Discrimination Trial, a Battle Between Legal Powerhouses." This is a lawsuit for $16 million over the firing of a female who claims that "Men were judged by one standard and women by another."
The trial has garnered widespread attention because, whatever the truth of what happened to [Ellen] Pao, it is undeniable that women have a minimal presence in venture capital.

"American warplanes began airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Tikrit late Wednesday..."

"... entering a struggling Iraqi offensive to retake the city for the first time after more than three weeks of remaining on the sidelines."
Even as some Iraqi security officials began worrying about the absence of airstrikes, Hadi al-Ameri, the prominent leader of the group of Shiite militias known here as popular mobilization committees, criticized any outreach toward the United States.

“Some of the weaklings in the army say that we need the Americans, but we say we do not need the Americans,” Mr. Ameri said.