December 29, 2012

Finally, after all these years, not since the 90s, we will have a name for our decade!

I just realized that with the arrival of 2013, a great void will be filled. There will be an end to the lack of a name for the decade. With '13, will be in The Teens!

Don't tell me we had a name for the first decade of the new millennium. We talked a lot about what it would be called, and then it came and instead of calling it something, we just worked around the lack of a name. Don't tell me we called it the "ohs" or the "aughts." We did not. And we entered the second decade of the new millennium with the same problem. 2010, 2011, 2012... Don't tell me we called that the "tens." Obviously, we didn't.

Relief from the torment of namelessness arrives on Tuesday. Don't worry about 13 being unlucky. That's superstition. I am talking about real life. We need a name for a decade. I have fond memories tied with the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, and the 90s. There's pizzazz and warmth and eclat and resonance in those terms. We've been empty and hungry for 13 years. The gnawing craving for meaning is over.

It's the Teens!

A couple of books.

I was just asking for some ideas for a conversation about end-of-the-year things, and now I've had the conversation, which I'll be showing you when it's up, but right now, I'm buying 2 books that were recommended in that conversation:

1. "When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?"

2. "Veil Politics in Liberal Democratic States."

After I bought them, Amazon started making recommendations in the philosophy category, and I noticed that "Complete Works of Plato" (only $1.99) was ranking at #5. Maybe you think that's about where it belongs, but that would depend on what else is ranking. Here are those best sellers in philosophy. #4 is "Fifty Shades of Grey Decoded: A Man's Playbook." I can understand why it's #4, but I can't understand why it's philosophy. By the way, it's only 19 pages long, which is to say, it's not only not philosophy, it's not a book. You can get the first page free at the link, and it tells you that "sex slave" contracts are all over the internet, so the author isn't going to write one out for you. You should just "find one that suits your needs and tweak it." And "keep in mind that this is not 'real' slavery." Noted.

What was the biggest pop culture phenomenon of the year, do you think? "Fifty Shades of Grey" or "Gangnam Style"? Those are 2 things that, in the future, will seem so 2012. We're not taking them with us into the new year, '13.

Blogging, paying attention to each day as it happens, makes it hard to assess a whole year.

So I'll feel better once we've crossed over into the new year. All this year end business is a drag to me. I used to do these year-end posts where I'd highlight one blog post from each month of the past year or list my favorite quotes. I had my archive to mine for this sort of material. But I've written close to 5,000 posts this year. I'm not going to run through all of that, even quickly. I can only wonder what the hell was it? I know the feeling of assurance that there is always something to write about, that each day brings a new set of topics, but I'm puzzled, at year end, at the what could have mattered. 5,000 things?!

If I had to list what really mattered, not for its day, but enduringly, what would it be? Of all the things we talked about, each in its own day, what do we carry with us into 2013?

I know: President Obama got reelected. We did a hell of a lot of yammering for that one take away. Is everything else ephemera?

A euphemism for "aging": "evolving."

One of my wise [yoga] teachers told us that after 50, she began to cross off the list poses that she no longer felt made sense for her evolving body.
Cue the episode of "Outer Limits" where David McCallum enters the evolution machine:

Tip for "wise" teachers: You're not evolving. And why you find the notion of evolving more comforting than aging is a mystery you might want to ponder.

"Your ignorance makes me ill and angry."

Also... here's the trailer for "Altered States":

"France's Constitutional Council on Saturday rejected a 75% upper income tax rate to be introduced in 2013..."

"... in a setback to Socialist President Francois Hollande's push to make the rich contribute more to cutting the public deficit."
The Council, made up of nine judges and three former presidents, is concerned the tax would hit a married couple where one partner earned above a million euros but it would not affect a couple where each earned just under a million euros.
Why does that make it unfair? It seems as though the court is sticking up for the single-earner household — for traditional marriage. Why does fairness require that? I think this is what we here in the United States would call a policy decision, to be left to the legislature. (Yeah, a 75% tax rate is really high, but that's not the legal flaw this court found.)

"Boyfriend Bears is a non-profit organization that encourages pre-teen and teenage girls to live a life of purity."

"Our bears serve as a reminder that we promote purity to be a lifestyle. Boyfriend Bears provides the opportunity for girls to make a stand for what they believe in and to stay strong in their morals."

Via Metafilter. Sample comments from there:
"It's like Japanese body pillow girlfriends, but not as creepy, because it's pure."

"This is what killed Timothy Treadwell."

"Wow, that part about writing letters to your future husband, tucking it into a special pocket in the teddy bear and then giving them to him on your wedding day...that squicked me out."

"Does this mean the purity rings are not working?"

"'It’s wrong to stop girls from going out' of the house... but there’s little choice because the city is so unsafe for women."

"Revulsion and anger over the rape have galvanized India, where women regularly face sexual harassment and assault, and where neither the police nor the judicial system is seen as adequately protecting them."

Growing old tests your atheism.

"Live your life."

"Animal activists have been attacking our family, our company, and our employees for decades because they oppose animals in circuses."

"These defendants attempted to destroy our family-owned business with a hired plaintiff who made statements that the court did not believe.... This settlement is a vindication not just for the company but also for the dedicated men and women who spend their lives working and caring for all the animals with Ringling Bros. in the face of such targeted, malicious rhetoric."

The ASPCA pays $9.3 million to get out of this case, which continues against the other defendants, the Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, various lawyers, and a former Ringling employee named Tom Rider.

"Madam, this dress is so sexy it’ll give your husband ideas."

"Why, does a brain come with it?"

"It’s almost always a mistake to read only a first-rate writer’s masterpieces."

"A great deal of Fussell’s best, most perceptive and, frankly, most hilarious work arrived in books like 'Class: A Guide Through the American Status System' (1983). The idea of talking about social class is so taboo in America, Fussell reported, that when he explained his book’s topic to strangers, they reacted as if he had said, 'I am working on a book urging the beating to death of baby whales using the dead bodies of baby seals.' It’s a book that, especially if you are uncertain of your own class status, can still draw blood."

Ha. Well, I loved that book.

"Don’t trade up..."

That's a rule that "starts out as a bit of simple, practical instruction — don’t back out of a social engagement just because a snazzier offer came along — and broadens out into an entire perspective on how to live."
Don’t grade friendships on a hierarchical scale. Don’t value people based on some external indicator of status. Don’t take a competitive view of your social life. There are very few rules I carry around with me every day. Don’t trade up is one of them, and I truly can’t tell you how many seemingly complicated situations it resolved into clarity and fairness. I am grateful to you for that.
One of the lessons learned. 

Plus... handmade impromptu gifts, like a little chair made out of that wire that goes around a champagne cork.

"It's bubbly time, Jerry."

A truly charming and funny encounter.

The deaths of 2012.

Wikipedia provides a very extensive, day-by-day list of the names of the notables who departed this year. Many others died too. Do you have any idea how many? And by the way, do you know the answer to the question whether there are more human beings alive right now than there are dead — total dead from the species homo sapiens?
The world population hit 7 billion last year, and the number of people who have ever lived is around 107.7 billion. But what about the future? [Carl Haub, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau] said the percentage of people ever born who are still living may increase.
The U.S. Census Bureau says that 55,530,627 human individuals have died in 2012, but there's some clearly false specificity there, considering the additional statement that 1.8 human beings die every second. The stream of humanity is continually refreshed, though, as 4.2 babies arrive. It's impossible to individually mourn the millions who have died. Even if you did nothing else with your life, you could not properly acknowledge even one person per second, shortchanging the .8. How many died while I was clumsily framing that last sentence? And what have I done with myself, each second, as 1.8 persons die? Enough to deserve my place among the 7 billion, the 7 billion, each of whom has his death second, waiting ahead, somewhere in the next 300 million seconds?

But the notables. Let's scan the list of notables. Most of these names, if I've seen them before, I don't remember. There are so many, even among the notables, that I can't trouble myself to read all the names. Riccardo Schicchi, 59, Italian pornographer, renal insufficiency... Sophie Firth, 3, English child actress (Emmerdale), multiple organ failure from blood infection... I try to read the list, and I can't. I give up. Then I realize I'm only looking at the list for December. The notables merge with the non-notables, the 50+ million dead of 2012. Meanwhile, 134 million have joined the temporary festival of life. Who on earth are they?

Things done in 2012.

1. Eating ribs in Muskogee.

2. Caught a lost dog.

3. ...

Blog project begun. Not completed.

A map depicting each country in the world with the single word that appears most often...

... on that country's "History of..." page in Wikipedia (excluding the country's own name along with some list of common words like "the" and "was"). The project seems designed to throw "war" in our faces, so what I found interesting was looking for whatever isn't war. For example, Australia gets "new." Here's the big image of the map for your inspection.

Only one has 2 have the name of an individual human being. Not North Korea, because "Kim" isn't just one person. And, no, kids, Monte Video is not a guy, though he sounds like an amusing guy. That's Montevideo, broken into 2 lines. You knew that, but don't be so pleased with yourself, because, chances are you don't know one thing about the history of... Do you even know where Montevideo is?

Maybe a good project would be those "History of..." pages, not just for their most common words — WAR! — but to have had it run through your head, at least once, what happened in all of those places. Do you know how many pages we are talking about? The number of members in the United Nations is not the right answer, but do you know that number? It's 193. Wikipedia lists 206 sovereign states (including those with disputed sovereignty).

Let's make a New Year's resolution: Each day, read one Wikipedia "History of..." page. Will you join me? We'll go in alphabetical order, and I'll prompt you with blog posts.

Will you join me? free polls

December 28, 2012

At the Photo-Free Café...

... it's an open thread. Enjoy!

"Senate Republicans refuse to confirm Kerry until Hillary testifies about Benghazi."

I approve!

"Gregory had no intent to commit a crime; he was committing journalism instead."

"Gun owners often say they want the government to leave them alone; why then are some clamoring for Gregory to be prosecuted?"

Asks Howard Kurtz, with amazing naivete. The implied argument is quite weird and perverse.

First, he's got this either/or premise: If you're doing one thing, you're not doing something else. If you're doing journalism, you can't also be doing something else. That might make sense if the crime in question had a required mental element that would be negated by the intent to "commit journalism," but it doesn't. Mere possession is enough. The most virtuous individuals with the best intentions get stuck with this law applying to them. If you don't like that, then you don't like this law. You've got an objection to the law, and yet, ironically, Gregory was arguing for more laws like that! That was the nature of the "journalism" he was "committing." He ought to be the first one prosecuted, not the last.

Second, Kurtz, a journalist himself, is mired the same sense of entitlement that people are objecting to in Gregory. He thinks journalists are special people who float above it all, who don't live in reality. You are the very people who are supposed to be observing reality, understanding it, and explaining it. But you don't even see that you are part of it. You have less awareness of it than the people you're getting paid to inform. Maybe you think you're just too important to have your time wasted by consequences that would befall ordinary people. You need to be free to continue to sit there mouthing outrage about the next terrible thing that befalls some ordinary person out there in the real world.

Third, Kurtz thinks he's caught others in hypocrisy. If gun owners want the government to leave them alone, why would they want Gregory to be prosecuted? It's like Kurtz wants us to laugh in his face. Yet he seems to think he's being quite clever. Why would he think that? Puzzling, isn't it? My only answer is that he does not believe in the rule of law. It doesn't occur to him that what gun owners who "want the government to leave them alone" want is for legislatures to refrain from passing laws and to repeal existing laws and for courts to declare laws null under the Second Amendment. Why should these people like it if one privileged, prominent man escapes prosecution? The laws remain, affecting everyone else, even as the oppressiveness of the laws is falsely minimized.

What does the NPR article "Assessing Hillary Clinton's Legacy" say about Benghazi?

Only this:
Clinton also played a key role in the international action in Libya. So far, she has avoided much of the criticism over the attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in September.
That's the second-to-the-last paragraph. The last is:
"She will be leaving this job, in my view, with almost no asterisks* and that, it seems to me, in this day in age, is a real accomplishment," [said Aaron David Miller, vice president of the of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars].
In the higher-up paragraphs, we get Miller saying:
"She has pursued an agenda, which has been highly constrained by both the kind of cruel and unforgiving foreign policy world out there and by the president's own determination to withhold, in my view, the most consequential issues related to national security, war, peace, big-think strategy"...

What was left, he says, is an agenda that Clinton shaped, one Miller describes as "planetary humanism." That includes women's issues, the environment, press and Internet freedom, and social media.
Women's work. And now the lady has a headache. Don't trouble her about Benghazi.



"Britney Spears... just wasn’t crazy enough."

You have to understand what your job is.

"A Madison police officer will face no criminal charges after fatally shooting a man who had mistakenly entered the wrong residence..."

"... struggled with the homeowner, then charged at the officer and reached toward his gun, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Thursday."
Attorney Jeff Scott Olson, who is representing [Paul] Heenan's family, said "I believe it was unjustified".... He maintains Heimsness could have used other tactics against Heenan, 30, a local musician who "weighed 150 pounds and never hurt a fly in his life," after the two were separated by about 5 to 6 feet after the physical confrontation.

Travel to Istanbul for a mustache implant.

It's a big "beauty tourism" trend.
“Both in Turkey and in Arab countries facial hair is associated with masculinity, and its lack can cause social difficulties. In Turkish there is a word for it: köse – baldness of the face – and it is usually not considered a good thing”....

A Turkish tourism agency specializes in hair implant tour packages that costs approximately $2,300 for the four day long procedure and treatment, which also covers medical and overnight expenses....

Why didn't EPA adminstrator Lisa P. Jackson fulfill "high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change"?

Maybe you can find clues in the NYT article about her departure. I note:
After his re-election, and a campaign in which global warming was barely mentioned by either candidate, Mr. Obama said that his first priority would be jobs and the economy and that he intended only to foster a “conversation” on climate change in the coming months....
In political rhetoric, "conversation" usually means: I don't want to talk about it.
After Republicans took control of the House in 2010, Ms. Jackson became a favored target of the new Republican majority’s aversion to what it termed “job-killing regulations.” One coal industry official accused her of waging “regulatory jihad,” and she was summoned to testify before hostile House committees dozens of times in 2011. She was frequently subjected to harsh questioning that at times bordered on the disrespectful.

Ms. Jackson, the first African-American to head the E.P.A....
Oh! Those terrible Republicans! Harshly questioning an African-American! Why it bordered on the disrespectful. At times.

Among Jackson's modest achievements (which appear to be limited mostly by President Obama's re-election-conscious decisions):
[N]ew vehicle standards will eliminate billions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions and double the fuel efficiency of the American light-duty transportation fleet over the next decade.
Billions of tons over a decade? Did you know human beings on earth exhale about 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year?

The NYT article ends with this quote from Jackson: "Before me... some people said that African-Americans don’t care about the environment. I don’t think that will ever be the case again." Ironically, that's the first time I've ever heard that stereotype.

ADDED: I was surprised to read that the EPA has 17,000 employees. What's the carbon footprint of an agency with 17,000 employees?

"So why is compromise so hard in the House?"

"Some commentators, especially liberals, attribute it to what they say is the irrationality of Republican members of Congress."
But the answer could be this instead: individual members of Congress are responding fairly rationally to their incentives. Most members of the House now come from hyperpartisan districts where they face essentially no threat of losing their seat to the other party. Instead, primary challenges, especially for Republicans, may be the more serious risk.

I finally figured out what David Gregory displaying that prop reminds me of.

Yesterday, I was asking: Why was that prop so important to David Gregory? If possession of that high-capacity magazine was a crime, and the NBC folk knew it and had even contacted the police and thus even knew they'd created rock-hard evidence that they knew it, why did they go ahead and have Gregory flaunt that illegal possession on television? They had to have thought it was a devastatingly powerful prop. My first guess was that they imagined that viewers — some viewers, at least — would find the object itself scary.

Now, I've got to show you another one of Chip Ahoy's little riffs, because it's what jogged my thinking on the subject for some reason. Here's Chip in the comments thread to that other post, the one where I showed those David Gregory masks (designed by Chip). This is a little dialogue:
"No. It doesn't look that threatening to me. If that's what you were thinking. No. It just doesn't."

"What do you mean? Are you insane? This magazine holds thirty rounds."


"So? So? So? Is that all you got? It holds thirty!"

"So. It's small. Looks like a PEZ dispenser to me."

"WHAT? So, this is amusing to you? You find this amusing."

Caption: "It holds 30." I'm not sure exactly why that jogged my thinking, but suddenly I understand the drama Gregory (and his people) were trying to enact. It's a deep psychic memory of childhood. Gregory sought dominance over his interlocutor, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, and the idea — in the act of picking up that magazine and beginning an interrogation about it — was that Gregory would become (subliminally) a parent figure who would push LaPierre into the subordinate role of the little boy, the cowering child confronted with undeniable evidence of his wrongdoing. What's THIS I found in your room?

The plan was for LaPierre to babble lamely, scrambling to explain it away, like the kid trying to concoct some cockamamie reason why that (whatever) got into his room. He'd look foolish and guilty, as Dad continues to hold up the item which the kid knows will be the defeat of every idea that flashes through his stupid, stupid brain.

The scenario didn't play out as scripted. LaPierre is a stolid veteran of many a confrontational interview. He's not going to let the interviewer get the upper hand that easily. Somebody needs to tell Gregory: We all want the hand. Hand is tough to get.

December 27, 2012

"Tired of being stopped at airports? Can you do without all the hassles of unreasonable arrests?"

"Had it up to here )) skeet (( *cut at the neck* with all those intolerable fines and inconsistently applied regulations and restrictions?" asks Chip Ahoy, offering these Official Washington, D.C. Gun Passes in sturdy laminate/sun proof colors/long lasting bands/Large holes for clear vision/slip proof:

South African president Jacob Zuma said owning a dog is part of "white culture."

He said that loving dogs more than people shows a “lack of humanity” and an effort to “emulate whiteness.” He's gotten some criticism for these remarks.
The president’s office sought to clarify his remarks, saying he was encouraging “the previously oppressed African majority” to uphold its own culture.

What going off the "fiscal cliff" will cost you...

... in increased taxes.

Common Cause v. Biden, challenging the Senate filibuster, was "a nostalgic evocation of the old days of public law litigation."

Observes Garrett Epps.
The federal courts have become almost implacably hostile to this kind of reform lawsuit, and those who bring them know that their chances of victory are vanishingly slim. Whatever one may think of the filibuster, however, we can be glad this suit was dismissed; its cure for the filibuster would be worse than the disease.

Why was that prop so important to David Gregory?

"Yeah, asking for permission is pretty damning when you ignore what you are told directly from the law enforcement authority and do it anyway."

But what it tells us is that the prop was really, really important to Gregory. Let's think about why. He knew he was going to have NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre across the table and that he'd push him with one question after another, building the pressure. Here's how that moment looked:

You hear the tension in Gregory's voice as he's about to confront LaPierre with the prop — actually 2 props: the high-capacity magazine and then the smaller one. At the point when Gregory picks up the first prop, you see his eyes dart over to the side. He doesn't have the script memorized, but the precise text is important as he displays one prop and then the other. He need the prompter.

Of course, if this prop display is supposed to be explosive, it doesn't work, because LaPierre is good at not getting agitated. Predictably good, so Gregory's routine looks silly to me. But maybe it inflamed some people in the "Meet the Press" viewership. Maybe there were lots of folks at home going "OMG that thing is huge!!"

I'm trying to think of other examples in political/policy debates when somebody whipped out a prop for dramatic effect. Especially examples where it really worked. I remember President Clinton waggling his pen. Anything else?

ADDED: I was thinking about the value of a fetus replica for a pro-lifers, and, googling, happened upon this 3D-printed replica made from an MRI image.

UPDATE: I figured it out!

"Isn’t there something creepy about Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz having... 'asked his Washington-area employees to write "Come Together" on each customer cup today, tomorrow and Friday, as a gesture to urge leaders to resolve the fiscal cliff'?"

Asks Mickey Kaus.
Did Schultz take a poll of his employees–sorry, “partners,” he calls them–before ordering pressuring asking them to join in this lobbying effort? What if he were, say, the CEO of Chick-fil-A and he “asked” his “partners” to write “Preserve the Family” on the outside of cups and containers?

I’m not saying what Schultz did is or should be illegal, certainly not in a Citizen’s United world. If he wants to run a hybrid coffee-shop-political-organization, that’s fine with me. But maybe he should have made that clear to his workers when they signed up.
What troubles me about the slogan "Come Together" is that it's a pretty obvious reference to the Beatles song that begins with Lennon saying "shoot me" over and over. Given the recent massacre — and the fact that Lennon himself was shot to death — it's not good resonance.

As for an employer telling employees what to say to customers, I've got no legalistic problem with that. The first job I ever had was as a waitress, and I was required to greet the customers with the lengthy "Hello, my name is Ann, and I will be your waitress tonight." How do you give that wooden line a good reading?

I'd much rather say "Come Together," especially if I was serving muddy water, brewed with a mojo filter.

"[W]e estimate the elasticity of homicide with respect to gun prevalence as between +0.1 and + 0.3."

Some numbers.

What is Drudge trying to say about Sonia Sotomayor?

This is at the top of the right-hand column at Drudge this morning:

Now, as we saw last night, what Justice Sotomayor did was deny an emergency injunction. That would have required a finding that "the legal rights at issue are indisputably clear," which clearly, they are not. And her opinion never mentions "morning-after" pills, only contraception, generally. (The challenged HRSA’s guidelines refer to "all Food and Drug Administration . . . approved contraceptive methods.")

With that rather strange photograph and the reference to "morning-after," I've got to infer that Drudge intended sexual humor aimed at the Justice. I think the photograph was chosen for the "bedroom hair" and the groggy eyes. Or do you focus on the hand? Does it seem to be tossing pills at us?

"15 Things Overachievers Do."

Penelope Trunk's list is — in typical Trunk style — highly provocative, full of surprising details and counterintuitiveness.
2. They use pharmaceuticals. Adderall is de rigeur [sic] for the high-powered jobs in high-powered cities...

8. They get pregnant at 25. If they’re a woman, that is. It’s clear that only a very small, anomalous group of women can have a high-powered job when they have young kids. So women should make a plan to have kids early, and then they can position themselves for a high-powered job once their kids are all grown up....

12. They don’t write books. The book industry is dead. They have no control over distribution channels and they have no control over author publicity, so the value publishers add in the book business is pretty much zero.... So for now, if you have an idea, put it in a blog. Harvard Business Review says that people who are serious about ideas are blogging.

13. They don’t let themselves get fat....
Read the whole thing... and this other thing that — in accordance with item #15 — she stole the idea from.

"Are gun owners now going to be stigmatized like sex offenders?"

Asks TalkLeft.
I think it's an attempt at intimidation. I wonder if any of those whose addresses were published are immediate family members of federal officials or employees, and covered by 18 USC Section 119, which prohibits publishing home addresses for intimidation. Or if the internet publication of home addresses of gun owners can be considered cyber stalking, cyber-bullying, harassment or invasion of privacy under state laws? Just because the information is available under a FOIA request, does that mean it can be publicly disseminated? I'm sure they checked with their lawyers and felt like they were on safe ground, but I hope somebody sues them.
This incident reminds me of the mailings that went out last spring showing the names and addresses of residents in one's neighborhood and whether they'd voted in recent elections. At the time, I called it "incredibly creepy":
This is an effort to shame and pressure people about voting, and it is truly despicable. Your vote is private, you have a right not to vote, and anyone who tries to shame and harass you about it is violating your privacy, and the assumption that I will become active in shaming and pressuring my neighbors is repugnant. 
In a second post on that topic, a commenter, The Drill SGT, pointed to some social science research on the effectiveness of manipulating social pressure with this sort of information about what neighbors are doing. Apparently, if this sort of thing works, they'll be plenty more of it.

Get ready.

Going Galt means different things to different people.

Observes Roy Edroso, reading Will Spencer:
[W]e've seen folks Go Galt by leaving lousy tips, by alerting local merchants that they planned to "buy nothing – other than vacations out of the country – until the president exits," by quitting smoking, etc. Or at least talking about doing it.

I had despaired they'd ever get serious about it. Spencer, though, has an impressively meticulous list of tactics...

So next time some guy at the DMV fills in his license application with scribbles, then winks at you; or sneakily takes a whole stack of change of address forms from the post office; or takes a government job and, unlike any other civil servant you've ever seen, goofs off — then you'll know the revolution is afoot. This time for sure!

"A well-known Capitol protester was charged Wednesday with receiving stolen property for allegedly keeping a State Capitol police officer's jacket..."

We've reached a very late stage in the Wisconsin protests, which begin in February 2011:
The jacket belonged to Officer Tammy Torstenson, who said she had taken off her jacket during protests at the Capitol and put it behind her work station but later found that it was missing, according to the complaint.

The mother of Jeremy J. "Segway" Ryan, 24, of Madison, found the jacket in October while she was cleaning out Ryan's apartment....

Ryan said he never wore the jacket outside his apartment but would put it on as a joke when friends were over, "because being a Capitol Police officer is a joke to him and his friends"....
The Capitol Police were a joke to them? Here's something I wrote in September 2011:
In observing the protests nearly every day through the entire period of the protests, Meade and I often tried to figure out what the police were doing, including the Capitol police. There seemed to be a policy of facilitating the protesters, perhaps because it actually was the best strategy for maintaining order when the police were vastly outnumbered. I have video of protesters assuring me that "The police are on our side."

"Audience Participation Cues for the My Dinner with Andre Midnight Screening."

When those "Rocky Horror" events leave you feeling empty and questioning your very existence, it's time to move on to the Andre scene...
When André tells the story of his attempt to workshop a production of The Little Prince, and how he found himself eating sand in the Sahara desert with a Buddhist monk, eat some sand.

Throw a banana at the screen every time André mentions his wife Chiquita....

When André and Wally discuss the lamentable state of the theater and wonder if it’s possible to create a theatrical experience that would shake people out of their complacency, ask yourself: Is attending this screening/performance of My Dinner With André making you less complacent, or does it allow you to wrap yourself in yet another protective layer of ironic detachment? Is endlessly reenacting My Dinner With André a way for members of The MDWA Midnight Madness Troupe to hide behind a mask of performance and avoid exposing who we really are? Are we really saying anything with this show, or is it just an excuse for people to get drunk and dress up on a Friday night?

Treat yourself to a nice amaretto when Wally orders an after-dinner drink....

December 26, 2012

At the 10 Commandments of Love Café...

... take happiness with the heartaches and go through life wearing a smile.

"Antidepressants to treat grief?"

"Psychiatry panelists with ties to drug industry say yes."

"The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to block the Obama administration's contraception mandate from taking effect."

"Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected a request for an emergency injunction that would have shielded employers from the mandate."

Opinion: here:
Applicants do not satisfy the demanding standard for the extraordinary relief they seek.... This Court has not previously addressed similar RFRA or free exercise claims brought by closely held for-profit corporations and their controlling shareholders alleging that the mandatory provision of certain employee benefits substantially burdens their exercise of religion.

"150 years ago, on December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were hung in Mankato, Minnesota."

"It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The men were hung after being convicted by a U.S. military commission for participating in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Originally, 303 were sentenced to death, but President Lincoln commuted the sentences of most of those convicted."

The 100 Best Lists of All Time.

#1 is the periodic table of the elements and #2 is the Bill of Rights. I'll leave it to you to guess what #3 must be, with the additional clue that #4 is the 10 Commandments.

"Should drowsy driving be prosecuted like drunken driving..."

"... or is nodding off at the wheel simply an accident – like hitting a patch of ice?"

George Will on religion and politics.

This is a great presentation. I heard it on satellite radio as I was driving the other day and recommended it to Meade, who noticed it on C-SPAN on TV and also recommends it. I wish I had a full transcript to point some things out, but really... watch this.

ADDED: Here's the text: PDF.

"NBC's David Gregory, the subject of a now-popular police investigation..."

Politico's Dylan Byers seems to think the deliberate flouting of D.C. gun laws — committing a crime, knowingly, right there on network TV — is some kind of absurd winger obsession.

Emily Yoffe asserts that I attacked her "as a tool of the racial and ethnic preference lobby."

She stands by her ethical advice to someone, but quite aside from my problem with that ethical advice, I'd like to say that it's unethical to portray what I said so inaccurately.

Here's the post I wrote, which isn't a general attack on her support for affirmative action. I was calling attention to the problem of incomplete honesty from those who seek to benefit from affirmative action and the way the school applying its policy has shared interests that cause it not to want to know about a false or misleading statement. This is the very issue that had been in the news with respect to Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. The schools want to be able to say that they have a good proportion of minority students, so they may not mind if an applicant claims, based on family lore, to be a member of a minority group.

Yoffe professed not to notice any harm to anyone in this interaction between a school and an applicant. That was, at best, willfully blind. As an ethicist, she ought to want to address the larger problem. And now, after linking to me as she did, she has an ethical obligation toward me that needs some attention.

"Where's Hillary?"

Is she hiding or truly ill?

"Putting kids together and sorting by age also created that dysfunctional creature, the 'teenager.'"

"Once, teen-agers weren’t so much a demographic as adults-in-training."
They worked, did farm chores, watched children and generally functioned in the real world. They got status and recognition for doing these things well, and they got shame and disapproval for doing them badly.

But once they were segregated by age in public schools, teens looked to their peers for status and recognition instead of to society at large.

The Tuber and The Turpitude.

The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association invokes the moral turpitude clause in its contract with Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton, recently outed as a prostitute.

Polyamory on the march.

"It's all based on a really high degree of love and trust," says the wife.

I love the look on the face of the moderator at 1:57.

"And then, after a while, it didn't really bother me," says the goat-bearded husband.

Something about the music track — so cheesily happy! — makes me especially dubious about the actual happiness achieved by this exemplary couple.

The wife looks way happier than the husband. Check the look on her face at 2:11 as she pops some food in his mouth (enacting the supposed charms of domesticity).

Oh, wait... there are 2 different women here, but they look kind of alike. I notice this halfway through, at which point, I don't really care who's getting sexual satisfaction where, because I simply don't believe their protestations of pleasure. You can't believe what regular, closed-marriage couples say about themselves either. It's all perfectly smarmy until a marriage breaks up, not that you can believe what the broken-up halves of erstwhile marriages have to say about what happened.

By about 4:42, my impression of what I might be looking at here is gay people who want to live in nuclear family units, with their own biological children. This would be something entirely different from the "polyamory" model that is being pitched in the media. That is, 2 homosexual couples could reorganize into 2 married opposite sex couples for the production of children, whom they would live with in one household. The married couples wouldn't have a sexual relationship (beyond producing the children), and they would have an enduring, happy sexual relationship with their homosexual partner. The 2 couples could live nearby and serve in an uncle/aunt role toward each other's children.

"Boy, I can't think of a better Christmas present than to read about these vile unpleasant asocial deluded individuals suffering..."

"... all locked together in a big metal box. Schadenfreude to the max."

My post title "Buttons offed" made one reader picture "2 hands clasping the lapels of their own jacket and ripping them apart to reveal not a blouse but 2 voluptuous naked breasts."

"Buttons offed, pop pop, that's the image that happens" — says commenter Chip Ahoy, prompting Dr Weevil to say "Photoshop or it (your fantasy) didn't happen."

If he hadn't achieved this status yet — and I think he had — Chip Ahoy became the #1 Althouse commenter of all time — not counting Meade — by producing the Photoshop. (There's a link within that link, so nothing NSFW unless you click again.)

Forbes, ranking the "Best States for Business," finds "a clear separation between right-to-work states and those that are not."

"All but one of the top 10 states have right-to-work laws on the books (No. 5 Colorado is the exception). Of the bottom 10 states, No. 46 Mississippi is the only right-to-work state."

Tracking down Tawana Brawley in pursuit of a $429,000 in damages (and interest) for defamation that occurred in 1987.

"In all these years, she’s never told the truth about this hoax or paid me a cent," said Steven Pagones, the former Dutchess County prosecutor who was called a "gang-raping, kidnapping racist."
The case was catapulted onto the national stage by attorneys Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason, and the then-little-known Rev. Al Sharpton, who claimed she was raped 33 times.
Celebrities weighed in, with Bill Cosby posting a $25,000 reward for information on the case, Don King promised $100,000 for Brawley’s education and boxer Mike Tyson gave her a $30,000 watch to ease her pain.
Brawley has just been located, working as a nurse, under an alias, in Virginia.

"I witnessed light sexual play among officers, a lot of e-cigarette vaping, and a whole lot of officers laughing and clowning in regard to some of your nude images, dear passengers."

What goes on in those sealed rooms where TSA agents look at X-ray images of passengers in screening machines? The agents are isolated where they won't see the in-the-flesh individuals being screened, but they will see them naked. How would you expect human being to act while doing a job like that?

I love the placement of e-cigarettes in the scenario, as if they make the TSA workers more disreputable and sleazy — in a high-tech kind of way that meshes with the high-tech way they are peeping at nudity.

Quite aside from the TSA and its awful problems, vaping e-cigarettes can be amusing way to do something with your mouth and hands. Here's a kind that doesn't even deliver nicotine.

"I still have to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best: killing people."

Wrote William Spengler Jr., 62, after ambushing and killing 2 firefighters who arrived at a fire he set.
“There was no motive in the note. There were some ramblings in there,” [said Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering].

“It spoke mainly that he intended to burn his neighborhood down and kill as many people as possible.”
Spengler committed suicide.

"If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization."

"Thousands people here who are under the persicution of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever."

Real or fake?

"We know what the future of the Internet's going to be."

"It's going to be a great, big video platform."

And here I thought it was all about the return to reading and writing.

The Bnei Menashe — one of the "lost tribes" — immigrate from India to Israel.

BBC reports:
"The members of this tribe have never forgotten where they came from and we are excited to be able to help them come back," [said  said Michael Freund, chairman of the Shavei Israel group which helped organise the journey for the Bnei Menashe members.]

But some critics say the Bnei Menashe's link to Judaism are "historically untenable". They accuse the community of using their status to escape poverty India.
There were 10 lost tribes in all. Were these people one of them? They maintained an oral tradition — dating back to the 8th century B.C. — telling of their migration through Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, China, and ultimately to settle in northeastern India. Should skepticism be aimed at these people, or is it better to honor them and welcome them as symbolizing the idea of the lost tribes — which itself may be only a myth?

Here's the Wikipedia article on the 10 lost tribes, including details of all the various claims and speculations. There are so many candidates — in Africa, all over Asia (the Pashtuns, the Japanese), in Europe (the Irish), and even in the Americas. The Book of Mormon goes into this topic:
In the Book of Mormon, Lehi (Hebrew לחי Léḥî / Lāḥî "jawbone") was an ancient prophet who lived around 600 BC...

Shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, Lehi escaped with his family, along with his friend Ishmael and his family, and another man named Zoram. Together, Lehi led them south down the Arabian Peninsula until they reached a fertile coastal region they named Bountiful. There, they built a ship, and sailed across the ocean to the Americas. Lehi's sons Nephi and Laman are said to have established themselves and to have founded Israelite nations: the Nephites and the Lamanites....

Many Mormons consider Native Americans to be descendants of the Lamanites. Officially, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints appears to accept this position....

December 25, 2012

Buttons offed.

I finally figured out how to rid this blog of those damned "share" buttons. It's not that I'm against sharing — on Christmas! — but those things were slowing down the page loading. Had you noticed? Are you noticing a difference?

"The governor knew what he had to do. He confiscated their sports equipment..."

"... telling them that if they insisted on celebrating Christmas as a 'matter of devotion' they could do so privately at home, 'but there should be no gaming or reveling in the streets.'"

"Has anyone ever told you that your high-wattage passion for no-collar American food makes you television’s answer to Calvin Trillin, if Mr. Trillin bleached his hair, drove a Camaro and drank Boozy Creamsicles?"

"When you cruise around the country for your show 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,' rasping out slangy odes to the unfancy places where Americans like to get down and greasy, do you really mean it? Or is it all an act?"

3 of the many questions in Pete Wells's now-legendary, all-questions review of Guy's American Kitchen, one of 6 "Must-reads of 2012" in the "food" category, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. Wait — actually, there's one non-question, the last sentence: "Thanks."

Also on the enticing list:

"How the Chicken Conquered the World." ("How did the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance? It is all the more surprising in light of the belief by many archaeologists that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting.")

"Here Are Our Five Favorite Food-Cliché Sentences."
("The velvety-smooth bisque's unctuous mouthfeel is lobster-tastic with its toothsome tidbits. To. Die. For.") I prefer the article upon which this writing game is based: a list of food-writing clichés. ("Mouthfeel: The blow-job-iest of all food words.")

"An Oyster in the Storm." ("[O]ysters... once protected New Yorkers from storm surges [and] played a critical role in stabilizing the shoreline from Washington to Boston.")

"I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter." ("I know a lot of chefs who write their first book themselves. Then they say "I’ll never do that again." It’s just not worth it.")

"The Twee Party." ("Is artisanal Brooklyn a step forward for food or a sign of the apocalypse?")(By the way: 1.  "artisan" is on that banned clichés list noted above, and 2. art is anal.)

The DC police are investigating the David Gregory incident "to determine if the magazine was in fact real." reports (and quotes the criminal statute).

What's to investigate? Here's the "Meet the Press" transcript. Gregory said:
Let's widen the argument out a little bit. So here is a magazine for ammunition that carries 30 bullets. Now isn't it possible that, if we got rid of these, if we replaced them in said, "Well, you could only have a magazine that carries five bullets or ten bullets," isn't it just possible that we can reduce the carnage in a situation like Newtown?
Either he violated the criminal law or he lied. He certainly expected us to believe he held in his hand what he said he held. What made him think he could do that (or appear to do that)? He must think the law doesn't apply to him, or he wouldn't even pretend to break it.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
It seems like a chickenshit complaint, and a chickenshit law.

But Gregory is advocating that, which reaches mostly into humor.

He has to pretend to take seriously what he doesn't take seriously.

At the Santa Claus Café...

Christmas 1953

... the traditionalists here at Althouse seem to believe that Christmas is not complete without this photograph from 1953.

"The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit — replacing what works with what sounds good."

Writes Thomas Sowell, in a column called "On Christmas, Liberals Are By No Means Liberal."
After watching a documentary about the tragic story of Jonestown, I was struck by the utterly unthinking way that so many people put themselves completely at the mercy of a glib and warped man, who led them to degradation and destruction. And I could not help thinking of the parallel with the way we put a glib and warped man in the White House.
Wow. That's harsh.

Here's the documentary about Jonestown. And here's Sowell's excellent book "Intellectuals and Society."

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last/ Next year we may all be living in the past."

The original lyric to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which I learned about after happening to catch the tail end of "Meet Me in St. Louis" while channel surfing last night. We happened to drop in just as Judy Garland was about to sing the much-loved Christmas tune, which might have been less-loved if Judy hadn't pushed for happier lyrics. The line, revised, is "Let your heart be light/Next year all our troubles will be out of sight."

What Judy and Margaret O'Brien are so sad about there is moving to New York. They love St. Louis.

Judy's version, in turn, was insufficiently happy for Frank Sinatra, who got the line "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow" changed to "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough." Here's Frank. I think "muddle through" would have suited him — that edge of sadness. And "bough" is a silly word.

There's another place in the song with alternate lyrics: "Through the years, we all will be together if the fates allow," was originally "if the Lord allows." Judy sang "the fates," but returning to "the Lord" is something you can always do.

Meadhouse, kinkaidified...

... by Chip Ahoy:

... who explains how he did it here.

This is my original, mere reality, deemed too bleak by those who find fulfillment in the work of Thomas Kinkade:


And here's a genuine Kinkade Christmas scene, whose deer look familiar... except it seems that Chip took the trouble to give the older deer an upturned tail to match the fawn's. It's that kind of attention to detail that turns our hearts aglow, like windows in that humble cottage... there, across yon half-frozen stream:

"American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western."

"It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them."

Spike Lee, being noble
, perhaps, but also horning in on another director's movie. Still, why should Quentin Tarantino be able to get away with doing a movie about slavery?
"All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors to see that film. That's the only thing I'm gonna say... I can't disrespect my ancestors. I can't do it. Now, that's me. I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody but myself. I can't do it."
And that's the only thing he's going to say.
"What does he want to be made, an honorary black man?... I want Quentin to know that all African-Americans do not think that word is trendy or slick."
He had to say that too.

I think it's fine for him to say all these things. First, it looks like people are going to him with questions. And, second, everything he said was true.

Did you get what you wanted?

Like I did, back in 1958:

Christmas 1958

"From bone fragments to Higgs boson, the tiny finds with huge consequences."

The scientific breakthroughs of 2012.

Whither the Denisovans?

"I want you to see what you're up against... okay?... What hope have you got?... Quit while you're ahead!"

[ADDED: Bad language warning on the videos.]

The "flunky pig tryin' to con" Al Pacino was Charles Durning.

It's Christmas, but that doesn't mean nobody dies. Goodbye to the great character actor, who was in everything. Here he is in "O Brother Where Art Thou?"

You slump-shouldered sack o' nuts.

Kerry Gordon — "sensational scientist!" — asked by Sam Wilson — "a wastrel wordsmith" — to fulfill his "one wish: wedlock!"

"Dare she pursue this preposterous proposition?"

See all "32 Fables from the Foreseeable Future," in PDF, here.

"Seal songs finally make sense...."

"No: Ennui...."

Forecast: "prancing party ponies with precipitation of presents."

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve.


Merry Christmas!

Jack Klugman has died.

At the age of 90. You probably think of "The Odd Couple" or, maybe "Quincy," but here he is in a 1960 episode of "The Twilight Zone," called "A Passage for Trumpet":

The dark-eyed junco.

I didn't have the presence of mind to grab the camera and take a picture of the globular gray bird with a white belly, perched on the deck railing just beyond the glass. Instead I scrambled for my glasses, and the bird flew away. But we remembered how it looked, and Meade figured out it was dark-eyed junco, and googling, I found lots of photos but what I liked best was this lovely illustration and story.
The junco was not so much flying in to the window as it was flying right up against it. It would fly up and down the window's length, using its claws to aid in climbing. All the while it peered at us. It did this repeatedly. Various hypotheses were tossed about as to why a junco was engaging in this risky, precious energy expending behavior....
Dark-eyed juncos are "the 'snowbirds' of the middle latitudes." Of the middle latitudes? That makes me look up "snowbird" in the OED. Snowbird... I just think of that cornball Anne Murray song. But the OED says a "snow-bird" is "One or other of various small European or American birds, esp. the snow-bunting (Plectrophanes nivalis), snow-finch (Montifringilla nivalis), or snow-sparrow (Junco hiemalis)":
1694  Philos. Trans. 1693 (Royal Soc.) 17 996   The Snow-bird which I take to be much the same with our Hedge Sparrow; this is so called because it seldom appears about Houses but against Snow or very cold Weather.
OED has this 3rd definition: "3. U.S. slang. One who sniffs cocaine (cf. snow n.1 5d); gen. a drug addict":
1923   J. F. Fishman Crucibles of Crime vi. 126   It was discovered that each of them [sc. handkerchiefs] has a small ink mark in one of the corners..these handkerchiefs had been dipped in cocaine... The mark in the corner notified the ‘snowbird’ that it was ‘loaded.’
There's a 4th definition, also U.S. slang:
1923   Nation 31 Oct. 487   In winter, when building is at a standstill in the North, northern workmen, ‘snow birds’ or ‘white doves’ in Negro parlance, flock south.
And a 5th definition: "A person who likes snow; a snow-sports enthusiast." And here we get a D.H. Lawrence quote from 1928: "I am no snow-bird, I hate the stark and shroudy whitemen, white and black." [ADDED: Is "whitemen" an error in the OED?!] That's from something called "Not I," which I can't seem to find on the web. But with some "snow-bird" searching, I did come up with this D.H. Lawrence poem, "Self-Pity":
I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.
You're not feeling sorry for yourself on Christmas Eve, are you?

"Certainly, if LaPierre had shown up with that magazine, there would be howls of gotcha, and widespread media demands for prosecution.

"Why should NBC News and its star be above the law?"

"This is what a several hundred person staff and a massive brand name can do, bitches!"

"This isn’t the future of journalism. It’s a legacy – and still troubled – brand like the New York Times taking off the gloves, no longer pretending it can compete with nimble blogs and throwing one hell of a punch at all of those lean newsrooms around the country."

"British paper sues Lance Armstrong for $1.5m over lost libel action."

"Sunday Times paid now-disgraced cyclist $485,000 in 2006 over claims that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs."

That reminds me of this news item from The Des Moines Register, June 18, 1959, reprinted in Bill Bryson's "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir" (p. 106):
A high court jury awarded entertainer Liberace 8,000 pounds ($22,400) damages Wednesday in a libel suit against the London Daily Mirror. The jurors decided after 3½ hours of deliberation that a story in 1956 by Mirror journalist William N. Connor implied that the pianist was a homosexual. Among the phrases Liberace cited in his suit was Connor’s description of him as “everything he, she or it can want.” He also described the entertainer as “fruit-flavored.”

How does Amazon know that author you're reviewing is a member of your family?

It's easy to see why Amazon would want to edit out biased reviews, but how can it know who is biased? And then there's that lady who has published an average of 7 reviews a day for over a decade, 99.9% of them 4- or 5-star — can anything be done about her?

ADDED: One thing Amazon can see easily is where you ship packages, presumably presents. It has names and addresses, so if it has the author's name and home address, that would match up. 

"Intimidation: NY Newspaper Publishes Names, Addresses of Gun Permit Holders."

"I guess nobody could object to people putting the newspaper staff’s addresses on the Web now, right?, says Instapundit, and as I click to get the URL for a link to the post, I see an update has gone up, adding what I was planning to say, which is that the newspaper has unwittingly hurt everyone who isn't listed, because burglars and home invaders can see which houses don't have guns... permitted guns anyway.

People who don't keep guns are free-riding on the gun owners, benefiting from the uncertainty that plagues burglars who know there's some risk that the person inside has a gun. Are gun owners happy to provide that aura of protection to the whole community, or would they prefer publicity that identifies the unprotected? Ironic that the anti-gun owners — seemingly scrambling for safety — are tossing aside the free protection.

Why don't they understand the value of the guns their neighbors own? Somehow it's easier to ideate about a gun owner going crazy. For some reason, they like thinking about gun owners as potential crazies. There are the dangers you love to obsess about, and the dangers you willfully ignore. But why? What rivets your attention to one problem and not to another?

At the Snow Dog Café...


... make a splash.

Galeazzo Frudua replicates the sound of the Beatles' singing with remarkable accuracy...

... except for that bit of Italian accent, which proves it really is him singing all the parts. And he explains what he's doing in that charming accent in a series of YouTube videos. Here he is with "Nowhere Man":

Frudua doesn't talk about the personalities of The Beatles, but his demonstration made me think about the way John was singing his song, and George (with the lower voice) harmonized by going more toward monotony, while Paul (with the higher voice) got fancier and more dramatic, making the backup into the show-off spot. George, you might say, was modest and self-effacing, while Paul was competitive, to the point where he almost seems to be daring John to slug him for taking over his song. And yet the sound is of 3 men blended perfectly.

It's fascinating to me that Frudua is so finely tuned to the details of sound, yet retains his accent. Maybe he's choosing that. If so, it's a nice touch.

What Obama said about mass murder after the Aurora massacre, at the second presidential debate.

This is interesting, considering what he's saying now, after the Newtown massacre, after reelection:
We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves....

[M]y belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement.

But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.

And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity; that our schools are working; that if there’s violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control.

And so what I want is a -- is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.
If reelection gives special weight to Obama's policy preferences, we should hold him to what he said to the voters. Now, there's a little something for everyone in those remarks, as my boldfacing highlights. I know — because I live-blogged — that what jumped out at me was the idea of getting "into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur." That seems spookily invasive, like the movie "Minority Report." But after Newtown, I'm drawn to ideas about identifying and stopping those who manifest dangerous mental illness. And yet, if you examine the words from the debate closely, he wasn't talking about finding people with violent impulses and doing something to control them. He was talking about the usual social welfare schemes that promise "opportunity" to "young people." If only they had enough wealth and education, violent impulses would not arise. And so mass murder becomes another reason for the economic policies he already supports anyway.

"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to... run."

Tagg Romney tells on his dad, Mitt.
"If he could have found someone else to take his place...  he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention."
Imagine what it would have been like if Mitt Romney had broken open and expressed all of this, but maybe that was inherently impossible. A self-effacing modesty was baked in.

In this context, here's a Ross Douthat column from last August, prompting Romney to reveal his Mormon faith:
The broader Mormon experience... could help make the case for his philosophy as well as illuminate his human core.... Conservatism sometimes makes an idol of the rugged individual, but at its richest and deepest it valorizes local community instead — defending the family and the neighborhood, the civic association and the church. And there is no population in America that lives out this vision of the good society quite like the Latter-day Saints.

Mormonism is a worldlier, more business-friendly religion than traditional Christianity, but it does not glorify wealth for wealth’s sake... Mormonism represents “our country’s longest experiment with communitarian idealism, promoting an ethic of frontier-era burden-sharing that has been lost in contemporary America.”
Imagine if all of that were opened out and shown to the American people. Well, you can't. I can't. Not in one modest man's campaign. Not with all the predictable pushback.

"See? You can be messy on the inside, and no one knows."

Step inside a 400-square-foot apartment space, transformed by elaborate built-ins:

The quote I've used for the post title appears about midway and marks the spot where my mood began to shift from delight to despair. What do we think of this man, who is promoting what seems to be a simplified, de-cluttered way of life, but who is, himself, in a business, promoting expensive merchandise, the machinery of compression. Do we want to be compressed thusly? It's one thing to live like this on board a cruise ship, but permanently? For a certain type of person — perhaps this man, or the man he pretends to be — it's a fine, joyful existence. Would he ever really have a dinner party for 10 in this space, as we see enacted at the end? It's not a real party, because it's an on-camera demonstration of the space. Watch closely and notice how the women are responding. There is something they do not love, and it is visible even in this crisply edited production. I felt empathy with these women and resistance to the man's sales pitch. And I remembered the gutted space shown at the beginning of the video, and thought that I could be happy, living in SoHo, in that 400-square-foot space as it looks right then. Just do the kitchen and the bathroom, nice and modern and constrained into a modest space, and let me put in some normal furniture — a good-sized table near the window for my work and eating space (that can be cleared off if anyone needs to come over for dinner) and I'll order a sleeper sofa from Design Within Reach. Spare me all those insane, ever-encroaching built-ins, and those crazy pop-up extra beds for guests. Guests to the city can get a hotel room or sleep on the floor or I'll add sleeper chair. By the end of the video, I felt paranoid that the government had a plan to shift us into smaller and smaller pods with evil corporations getting rich fitting them out with soul crushing storage bins. Mayor Bloomberg! Who fixed your ducts? Huh? Fixed your ducts, all right. I told you before - they fixed themselves. Oh, yeah? Then where did this come from, eh? Out of your nostril? Eh? Nostrils, eh? Central Services. They don't take kindly to sabotage. Sabotage, huh? Jesus, this place is in a terrible state. Just a minute! You're not gonna leave it like this, are you? Why not? All you gotta do is blow your nose and it's fixed, innit?

"Am I a bat? Some form of demon? Or perhaps some species of bee?"

"Come to Argentina, where our bat-bee-demon women will cater to your needs!"

"Come to Malaysia, or my dragon-riders will burn down your villages and a hundred years of darkness and winter will befall you all!"

"We’re all kinda depressed in Denmark at the moment."

"Middle seat gets both armrests. This way, everybody gets at least one armrest, and it best equalizes everybody's space."

"If you think that the shared armrests are for whoever first claims them — a rule that frequently would leave the middle-seater wedged between two elbowy people — you have entitlement issues."

#8 on a list of 12 rules for airports and airplanes.

And this post is following a rule for blogging that I just noticed: If you find something to blog about via a blog that deserves a "via" (or "hat tip") link, you can better fulfill your obligation by finding something else on the hat-tippable blog and doing a separate post about that. This post represents the something else, and the next post will be the thing I found via this blog, and I'm not going to put a "via" link on the next post.

The idea is that the blog I'm linking to here will get far more click-through readers from this post than from a "via" link that telegraphs its obligatory quality. I'm going to follow this rule in the future — and by the way, I think Instapundit follows it — but I'm not going to keep pointing out that I follow it. And I won't follow it unless I genuinely would have chosen to blog the something else, in accordance with the longstanding Althouse Principles of the Bloggable.

"The Ultimate Amenity: Grandparents."

A NYT article about highly affluent couples who are spending their copious money to purchase housing for their own parents, so that their immensely privileged children will have the ultimate amenity: grandparents in their daily life.

Published the very next day in the NYT is an article — charting at #1 on the NYT most-emailed list — "For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall." ("Melissa, an eighth-grade valedictorian, seethed over her mother’s boyfriends and drinking, and Bianca’s bubbly innocence hid the trauma of her father’s death.") Proposed alternate title: The Ultimate Privation: No parents.

David Gregory, neatly tweaked...

... by Drudge (in Christmas colors):

The links are: "Did David Gregory Violate DC Gun Law On National TV?" and "Mocks NRA Chief for Proposing Armed Guards; Sends Kids to High-Security School..."

And here's the transcript for the whole interview. We watched it. Gregory was all heated up, eager to extract his sound bites from LaPierre, in the typical style of recent gun control debates I've seen, like this one between Bob Wright and Jacob Sullum. The one who wants gun control cranks up the emotion, and the gun control opponent stolidly stands his ground.

It's like they intended to make an implicit argument, premised on the question: This is what a human being is like; do you want people to have guns? The gun control advocate models the answer "no" (because people run on emotion and might do unpredictable, regrettable things). The gun control opponent models the answer "yes" (because people are stable and rational).

It's all about control: Do you think people are self-controlled or is government control needed? And now, I see this post is about to bust loose into a much more general set of observations about politics, and I don't want to do that. This is a blog post, the first of the day, and it needs to come to an end. So let me leave you with 3 brief bonus observations:

1. David Gregory was not appearing on "Meet the Press" as a gun control advocate. He's the moderator... some sort of "journalist."

2. If a new federal gun control program includes a buy-back of some newly banned "assault" weapons, it will be like Cash for Clunkers. I hated Cash for Clunkers.

3. The post-Newtown gun control advocates have been emphasizing the gun, rather than the person, on the theory that a person may have murderous impulses but if he doesn't have a gun, he won't be able to do as much damage. But in real life, if you had someone in you midst who was bent on murder, you would not think: Well, at least he doesn't have a gun. If he goes off, what's the worst he can do, maybe 4 or 5 kids, max?

December 23, 2012

Skiing... today at Odana Hills...

Meade has a camera strapped to his head.

At the Snowfall Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(And consider shopping through the Althouse portal.)

Are "lockdown" drills traumatizing schoolkids?

Catherine Crawford used to think so.
[R]epresentatives from the Department of Education unexpectedly showed up and announced that they would be conducting a special drill to prepare students in the event of a gunman in the building.... “All the kids were corralled in the block area out of sight, the classroom doors were locked, blinds drawn, and they all had to be quiet. They were so quiet. I couldn't believe it. Obviously they had done it before. Then, the DOE guys came and jiggled the door, kind of pretending to get in, and the kids had to stay quiet through that as well. You would have been really proud.”...

According to my 7-year old, it all felt like a game and was kind of “exhilarating” — her word.

Suzy Favor Hamilton — exposed as a call girl — had gotten in a couple other PR jams.

For one thing: "She became famous during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 for intentionally falling to the track in the 1500 meter final when it became clear she could not medal in honor of her late brother, Dan."

But I recall her... as the young woman in one of the most horrid and controversial commercials ever shown on U.S. television. The Nike spot, a dozen years ago, showed her being chased out of her house in the dark woods — stripped to her bra — by a maniac with a chain saw. Running through the woods, she finally outdistances him thanks to her Nikes. Protests centered on exploitation of violence against women (especially one half-naked) and it was soon pulled.

American Girl dolls in stop-motion video.

A YouTube phenomenon.

Those American Girl dolls are expensive, but if a kid is interested in stop-motion animation, she (or he) doesn't need any particular kind of expensive doll. Here's "The Klutz Book of Animation: How to Make Your Own Stop Motion Movies." And here's "Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies - Epic Films for $20 or Less."

"FBI Investigated 'Occupy' As Possible 'Terrorism' Threat..."

According to documents obtained by a FOIA request by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

"Cannabis makes pain more bearable rather than actually reducing it..."

"Using brain imaging, researchers found that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis reduced activity in a part of the brain linked to emotional aspects of pain."

"So Meade, in your marriage, which one of you is the whore?"

A question asked in the webpages of Isthmus by Madison politico Stu Levitan.

Non-Madisonians may not know the name, but: "Stu Levitan has been a mainstay of Madison media and government for thirty-five years, a leader in both politics and the press since 1975. In addition to Books and Beats, Stu hosts Access: City Hall on the Madison City Channel and serves as chair of the Madison Community Development Authority and on the Madison Landmarks Commission. Since 1987, he has been a mediator/arbitrator for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission."

Scroll up at the first link for the context, which is a discussion, initiated by Levitan, about the discovery that Madison sports heroine Suzy Favor Hamilton has been working as a call girl.

Scenery chewing in the Theater of Outrage over Wayne LaPierre's unremarkable news conference.

Read the transcript of what LaPierre said, if you haven't already, so you know what the purveyors of outrage are characterizing for their readers.

Here's the NYT editorial, which is entitled "The N.R.A. Crawls From Its Hidey Hole."
[W]e were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant.

Mr. LaPierre looked wild-eyed at times....

We cannot imagine trying to turn the principals and teachers who care for our children every day into an armed mob....
He proposed a mob? This is a failure (or pretended failure) of imagination. What if those who worked in schools were offered training in weapons and permission to carry in schools if they could qualify — entirely optional? Is that idea obviously mendacious, delusional, and almost deranged? The NYT is hot to exclude it as something any sane person would even begin to contemplate. They'd like an instant crazy image of teachers gone wild.
People like Mr. LaPierre want us to believe that civilians can be trained to use lethal force with cold precision in moments of fear and crisis. That requires a willful ignorance about the facts. 
If "civilians" can't be trained, how can noncivilians be trained? And quite aside from how well people hit targets, isn't the presence of an armed guard a deterrent from beginning an attack, and doesn't pointing a gun at the criminal sometimes end his attack?

Moving on from the NYT, here's Andrew Sullivan absorbing LaPierre into an all-out assault on the GOP titled "Enough!":
Between the humiliating and chaotic collapse of Speaker Boehner's already ludicrously extreme Plan B and Wayne La Pierre's deranged proposal to put government agents in schools with guns, the Republican slide into total epistemic closure and political marginalization has now become a free-fall. This party, not to mince words, is unfit for government.
If that kind of hysteria — sounding deranged in the condemnation of derangement — is what counts as unminced words these days, I'd like to put in an order for minced words. I'd like to aim a precise scoff at the phrase "government agents in schools." Agents! Sounds very scary, but the truth is, teachers are government agents.

Anyway, Sullivan's style of hysterical talk wins The Game of Internet, where the score is kept in traffic statistics. And Sullivan himself is boasting that his "Enough!" post "has just blown up on Facebook." Kablooey! He's so sensitive about those terrible guns, but his metaphor of choice is explosion.