April 13, 2013

"America's Medicated Kids."

A 1-hour BBC documentary by Louis Theroux. I share Theroux's skepticism about medicating children, but I don't think he ends up explaining much about the problem in general. Instead of "America's Medicated Kids," a more accurate title would be "3 Medicated Kids in Pittsburgh." I do recommend this. Worth discussing.

ADDED: Next morning thoughts at the end of this post.

"But I understand why my readers suspect me, and other pro-choice mainstream journalists, of being selective..."

"... of not wanting to cover the story because it showcased the ugliest possibilities of abortion rights. The truth is that most of us tend to be less interested in sick-making stories — if the sick-making was done by 'our side.'" 

Says Megan McArdle. She rejects the excuse that it's not a national issue — that murder is a matter for state law. I would say that there are plenty of general policy issues you can extract from that story — at least as many as we get from the Newtown murders and the George Zimmerman case (to name 2 stories that have received massive national press).

The linked piece dithers, but I think it's a confession that she just didn't want to have to think about it. It was squeamishness and a political commitment to abortion rights that she didn't want rumpled.

Let's talk about the morality of the seen and the unseen. This is a shallow morality that infects our lives. If the human entity is inside the womb, and it is cut into pieces that is one thing, but if it's "partially born" so that a nurse sees it clenching and unclenching its fists as it meets its demise, it's another. And if it slips entirely out, and everyone sees a living child and then the doctor severs its spine, then everyone is supposed to know it's murder. From the inside, these deaths are all the same. But no one sees from the inside of that now-dead brain. Why not shine a bright light on Kermit Gosnell and yell monster? Make it clear to everyone that you think he is so different from properly professional abortionists.

If you don't, you reveal that you have a nagging suspicion that he is not. And that's the one thing you don't want anyone to see.

IN THE COMMENTS: Matthew Sablan says:
The thing is, you don't even have to frame the story about abortion. I fully acknowledge Gosnell is probably not what most abortion providers do. It needs to be framed as another example of how the state failed to protect its people.
I respond:
I agree that's the way those who support abortion rights should cover it. But why did they not jump at the opportunity to display so vividly that health care services to the poor (or to women) are not what they should be and no one cares?

They didn't want to risk that. There's a deep fear — true shame — about this other matter that I'm talking about. 

"Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late."

That's the title of an op-ed in the NYT by a Jeremi Suri, a history/public affairs prof. ("The Korean crisis has now become a strategic threat to America’s core national interests. The best option is to destroy the North Korean missile on the ground before it is launched. The United States should use a precise airstrike to render the missile and its mobile launcher inoperable. President Obama should state clearly and forthrightly that this is an act of self-defense in response to explicit threats from North Korea and clear evidence of a prepared weapon.")

And here's Rush Limbaugh, a couple days ago: "Folks, we have discovered the missile silos in North Korea. We know where they are. My question is, why are they not rubble? If we know where they are and we haven't taken them out, what is this automatic assumption that if they launch, we are going to obliterate their country? Do any of you believe that would happen? I'm serious. North Korea launches nukes at us. They can't hit us yet, so they fall whatever hundreds, thousands of miles short. But the intent was clear. You think we'd retaliate?"

Now, as in real life, at the National Spelling Bee, it's not enough to know how to spell words...

... you need to know what they mean.

Dinga DINga!... who rings the doorbell like that?

Sounds all friendly. Jaunty.

Meade answers. It's the spit-in-the-tube government guy again.

He's back. On a Saturday morning. Maybe he was hoping somebody else would answer the door. But it's Meade again. Still refusing to succumb to the $90 bribe. The man inquires, Mind if I ask why? Meade says that the spit-in-a-tube part is a little over-the-top, plus he's read the brochure, and he's not convinced of the value of the mission. The man shifts to sympathy mode: I know how I'd feel if someone came to my door. And Meade says: Well, there you have it. Hearing Meade's account of the colloquy, I say: I guess their argument is, we want to give you $90. If $90 doesn't overcome your resistance, they've got nothing.

"Feds scoop up medical marijuana patient records in Oregon investigation..."

"Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level – and it’s only by letters of understanding that the U.S. Department of Justice has held off taking action against medical marijuana growers, suppliers and buyers – related records can be seen as evidence of wrong doing."

Tiger Woods incriminates himself: "Well, I went down to the drop area, that wasn’t going to be a good spot..."

"... because obviously it’s into the grain, it’s really grainy there. And it was a little bit wet. So it was muddy and not a good spot to drop. So I went back to where I played it from, but two yards further back, and I took, tried to take two yards off the shot of what I felt I hit. And that should land me short of the flag and not have it either hit the flag or skip over the back.... I felt that that was going to be the right decision to take off four right there. And I did. It worked out perfectly."

Penalized 2 strokes for breaking a rule. Ironically, he had just yesterday opined "Well, rules are rules" when asked about the 1-stroke penalty given to Guan Tianlang — the 14-year-old who made the cut at the Masters — for slow play.

ADDED: Why wasn't Woods disqualified? He's ratings

"When a marital therapy book looks promising, Mr. and Mrs. Dash buy two copies, one for each of them."

"When they’re both finished, they exchange copies to see what their partner has underlined. They never underline the same passages. It’s like a pair of photos by two different photographers, where you can’t tell that they’re of the same landscape. Two soothsayers reading the same entrails and foreseeing two entirely different fates."

A super-short fiction by RLC, written a few years ago, but long after the time when I was married to him. These days, books are bought as ebooks, so you don't have to buy 2 copies of everything, you just have to authorize 2 Kindles/iPads on the same account — which is what Meade and I do — and the husband and wife can simultaneously read the same book or — as in our case — the same 300 books that we wander around in endlessly, perhaps eventually encountering a passage that we'd underline electronically if the other hadn't already done the underlining. Are there any marital therapy books? Not unless "Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank" counts. Or "Lady Chatterley's Lover." Or "The Obamas." Or — this has a self-helpish title — "How to Be Alone."

"Rules for Radicals"
? Rule 13: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." There's marriage for you!

Why was I reading that old post? Because when I read that wonderful garden club politics article out loud, I said it was like a compressed novel and Meade said it was like one of RLC's super-short fictions which you can read the best of in book form or read at his blog. The one about married couples reading marriage therapy books simultaneously is just what's at the top when you click the "fiction" tag.

I was also considering blogging "If We Could Only Understand a Pink Sock" — a propos of the fuzzy pink socks that played a central role in the news story of the week, how North Korea is about to drop a nuclear bomb somewhere Mitch McConnell's people considered quoting things Ashley Judd wrote about herself.

"Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc."

Wow! Howard Kaylan has a book that just came out today. Stumbled over it, looking for other things.

Not in Kindle, for some reason, but here's an excerpt that was in Rolling Stone:
I was snorting coke on Abraham Lincoln's desk in the White House. Yes, that Abraham Lincoln and that White House. A bunch of hairy peacenik dopers from California though we were, it seems that Tricia Nixon, daughter of Tricky Dick himself, was a fan of the Turtles and had requested our presence. Our first instinct: you've got to be kidding! No way in hell!

Yet here we were, our noses vacuuming lines off the surface of Honest Abe's very own workspace.
Oh, all the drugs that have been taken at the White House over the years! Someone should collect all that on one webpage... including the 100% uncut speculation. 

The iconic red Solo Cup.

Suddenly, it's everywhere. Or... I mean... it appears in 2 different (and excellent) articles on the front page of the nytimes.com right now.

1. It's in that article — which I just said I loved — about the political microcosm that is one nutty garden club:
[April Ward] listed many indiscretions she said she had seen, smelled or heard around the shed area on summer nights. Smoking (of more than one substance). Grilling. Bonfires. Club money used to pay for charcoal, propane and food. Composting bins used for Solo cup storage. Physical fighting, once resulting in stitches. “Sex noises.” At least one instance of adultery and a resulting divorce.

“We have people in the club who are recovering alcoholics or addicts; they can’t be around people drinking,” Ms. Ward said. “You come to the garden, you expect it to be people gardening. And these people aren’t gardening. They’re having a party.”
2. It's in this profile of the fascinating internet character Jenna Marbles, who puts up junky YouTube videos that young girls love so much she's up to over 1 billion clicks.
In a hushed tone, she chews over a thorny problem of young adulthood: how to apply full evening makeup when you’re already inebriated from drinking all day?

She begins her tutorial by wielding that totem of collegiate binge drinking everywhere: a red plastic Solo Cup. One jump cut later (after a “Law and Order: S.V.U.” drinking game), she re-emerges, thoroughly intoxicated. She misapplies a gob of glue. It dangles from a false eyelash. She lines her lips with a black pencil....

The video, titled “Drunk Makeup Tutorial,” is completely awesome to some, bewildering to others — and above all, classic Jenna Marbles....
Searching the back archives of the NYT, looking for the source of devotion to this icon, I see (from last fall):
Last year Toby Keith literally stumbled his way back into pop culture relevance with “Red Solo Cup,” an ode to the drinking vessel of choice for soused common folk everywhere....
Okay, obviously, I need to catch up with this meme:

I get it. Apparently, you do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glass. Henceforth, I will keep track of this pop culture symbolism. Sorry I was slow on the uptake, readers. I'm trying. I'm really trying. Some day, if I can sharpen or blur my perceptions sufficiently for internet purposes, maybe I too will have 1 billion clicks.

Meanwhile, speaking of activities involving red Solo Cups — which you're free to buy at Amazon — here in Madison, the Chief of Police, Noble Wray, would like you to know:
There will be no Mifflin Street Block Party on or around Saturday, May 4th in 2013. The spring student party will no longer be a City permitted or sanctioned event... The nuisance house parties on Mifflin Street, with the rampant over-consumption of alcohol and the attendant safety issues will no longer be tolerated by the City of Madison....

If you are considering hosting a party in the downtown area on or about 05/04/2013,the City of Madison is strongly recommending that you reconsider....
Among the laws that will be enforced with a "no tolerance" policy that day:
The City of Madison has established a glass ban on Mifflin Street and surrounding areas from 05/03/2013 through 05/05/2013. This ban is meant to help keep residents, guests, visitors, police and fire personnel safe. ALL GLASS containers will be banned on public property, even if it is not alcohol. Please avoid any glass containers. If you have glass on the street, sidewalk, or terrace, you will be cited.
No glass, but — I heard it from Toby Keith — you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glass.

"You come to the garden, you expect it to be people gardening. And these people aren’t gardening. They’re having a party."

" I was elected to get rid of that and get things done."

April Ward, the  president  — arguably ousted — of the Roosevelt Island Garden Club, quoted in a NYT article by Vivian Yee that depicts the political microcosm of a garden club in hilarious, delightful detail.
“Since she came, oh my God, everybody’s fighting,” said Raphael Elbaz, a longtime garden member.... “It’s like the slave became the king.”...

“People start to be afraid of having a garden when you have a dictator like that,” Mr. Elbaz said.

The final straw for many came when Ms. Ward declared that the formerly neutral territory known as the border plots, which encircle the patchwork of individual gardens, would be divided up and given to anybody who wanted them, even associates, no waiting list necessary, so that the border could be maintained with the proper shrubbery and florals. It was, full members protested, a violation of the two most basic tenets of the garden club: that one must wait one’s turn for a plot, and thus full-member status (even if it might take three to six years), and that associates may help, but may not own (a longstanding class distinction).
A coup ensues... Read the whole thing. And I'm going to follow Vivian Yee on Twitter.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 12, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
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by AquaTeak
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Teaching critical thinking: What if you had to argue the other side of an issue?

What if you were teaching critical thinking and the issue you assigned the students to argue the other side of was something that it would be very difficult and uncomfortable to have to argue? Would you think you'd come up with an excellent assignment or would you find yourself under attack in the national news and in danger of losing your job?

What if you had to argue that the high school teacher who assigned his students to justify the Nazis' antagonism toward the Jews had come up with a pretty good assignment or at least an acceptable assignment, especially since he asked the students "to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and to construct an argument that Jews were 'the source of our problems' using historical propaganda and... a traditional high school essay structure"?
Your essay must be five paragraphs long, with an introduction, three body paragraphs containing your strongest arguments, and a conclusion,” the assignment read. “You do not have a choice in your position: you must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”
What if you had to argue that the teacher did not display "a severe lack of judgment and a horrible level of insensitivity," as charged by Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, the Albany, NY superintendent of schools? What if you had to argue that Wyngaard's reaction is anti-education and anti-academic freedom and destructive of the very mental powers that, if developed, enable a citizenry to resist government propaganda of the kind the Nazis deployed?
“The assignment is flawed in its essence,” Rabbi Eligberg said. “It asks students to take the product for a propaganda machine and treat it as legitimate fodder for a rational argument. And that’s just wrong.”
What if you had to argue that Rabbi Eligberg was wrong to say that's wrong, because students will be subjected — throughout their lives — to propaganda that is much less obviously wrong and that will seem like rational argument and that working from the inside of creating propaganda from bad information, making it seem persuasive, is how you strengthen your power to resist propaganda and to dismantle it?
Nick Brino, a 10th grader, said he had heard about the assignment from a classmate. “I thought it was wrong,” he said. “But she was flipping out, saying if anyone was going to do it, she wasn’t going to be their friend.”

Ninth-grader Jyasi Nagel, though, said he thought the teacher was not anti-Semitic, but just trying to teach different points of view. Jyasi’s father, Moses Nagel, who is Jewish, said that he was not in favor of a harsh punishment for the teacher, but that another topic might have provided a more palatable lesson.

“It just seems like there’s a million other examples to use rather than going there,” he said.
What if you had to argue that requiring "palatable" lessons will make the students' minds flabby and lazy?

April 12, 2013

"Amanda Palmer: The art of asking."

Beautiful! I love that. I loved it even before I got to the part where I understood that Amanda Palmer is the singer in The Dresden Dolls, who did this song, which I've embedded before:

"Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story."

"The dead babies. The exploited women. The racism. The numerous governmental failures. It is thoroughly newsworthy."
"Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news. We understand that," [says the grand jury report]. "But we think this was something more. We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion."...

Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn't make national headlines?

But it isn't even solely a story of a rogue clinic that's awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions! If I were a city editor for any Philadelphia newspaper the grand jury report would suggest a dozen major investigative projects I could undertake if I had the staff to support them....
That's Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic, challenging the news media to explain their noncoverage.

"No one would be in trouble over this scandal if only David Corn had the news judgment to recognize a nonstory."

Says James Taranto. The distinction between this bland chat about things Ashley Judd wrote in her memoir is nothing like the explosive conversation in Bartnicki v. Vopper, the Supreme Court case that said "a stranger's illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern."
[M]embers of the Pennsylvania State Education Association discussed violently retaliating against school board members who were their adversaries in collective-bargaining negotiations. A quote from the tape: "If they're not gonna move for three percent, we're gonna have to go to their, their homes.... To blow off their front porches, we'll have to do some work on some of those guys...."
In Bartnicki, Justice Stevens (joined by Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer) says there's "a conflict between interests of the highest order — on the one hand, the interest in the full and free dissemination of information concerning public issues, and, on the other hand, the interest in individual privacy and, more specifically, in fostering private speech." But: "The normal method of deterring unlawful conduct is to impose an appropriate punishment on the person who engages in it." And: "It would be quite remarkable to hold that speech by a law-abiding possessor of information can be suppressed in order to deter conduct by a non-law-abiding third party." 

"When the church is self-referential... inadvertently, she believes she has her own light..."

"...he ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness," said Cardinal Bergoglio in the 4-minute speech addressing the Cardinals and — as the WSJ reports — leading them to pick him as the new Pope.

Goodbye to Jonathan Winters.

"Mr. Winters did much of his best work in nightclubs, but he hated life on the road. In 1959 he suffered a nervous breakdown onstage at the Hungry I in San Francisco and briefly spent time in a mental hospital. Two years later he suffered another collapse, and soon after that he quit nightclubs for good. Between 1960 and 1964 he recorded his most-requested monologues for Verve on a series of albums, notably 'The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters,' 'Here’s Jonathan' and 'Jonathan Winters: Down to Earth.'"

I remember seeing these albums in my parents record collection — in there with all the Julie London and Ray Coniff Singers — and I don't remember any other comedy albums. I remember trying to grasp the idea of a "nervous breakdown" and the relationship between comedy and inner pain.

Here are  "The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters,” “Here’s Jonathan” and "Jonathan Winters: Down to Earth."

Jonathan Winters was  — as I understood it, possibly wrongly — the greatest of all comic geniuses, but we only ever got to see a small part of what he might have done, and the greatness and the denial of the whole were part of a single phenomenon, something about his mind. From the first link:
“Mother and dad didn’t understand me; I didn’t understand them,” he told Jim Lehrer on “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” in 1999. “So consequently it was a strange kind of arrangement.” Alone in his room, he would create characters and interview himself.

The family’s fortunes collapsed with the Depression. The Winters National Bank failed, and Jonathan’s parents divorced. His mother took him to Springfield, where she did factory work but eventually became the host of a women’s program on a local radio station. Her son continued talking to himself and developed a repertory of strange sound effects.
He studied art and married an art student when he was 23. They were married for 60 years, until she died. His entry into show business came at the urging of his wife, who pushed him to enter a talent contest, which he won and which led to a morning radio show, on which he created characters and interviewed himself.

At Blondie's Sandwich Shop...


... it's lunchtime.

Rewarding "hard-working, high-achieving, and outstanding employees"...

... in the post-union era.

"Did Recording the McConnell Meeting Violate State Law?"

Orin Kerr takes a look at the Kentucky eavesdropping statute and this relevant commentary:
A conversation which is loud enough to be heard through the wall or through the heating system without the use of any device is not protected by KRS 526.020. A person who desires privacy of communication has the responsibility to take the steps necessary to insure that his conversation cannot be overheard by the ordinary ear.
Kerr comments:
This is arguably quite relevant: the McConnell campaign discussion apparently was loud enough to be overheard from outside the door; from what we can tell, it was recorded from a phone or video camera without audio amplification. So that language makes me think that the recording was probably not a crime. At the same time, the commentary is ambiguous. It could be read as merely making the obvious point that eavesdropping requires a device. That is, listening with your ears is different from recording with a microphone.
Obviously, you don't want to make a crime out of happening to hear a conversation on the other side of a door or wall. Perhaps there's something a little more wrong about stopping to listen, once you realize you can hear people talking. If you can hear through the wall when your neighbors talk, should you have an obligation not to pay attention or is it their responsibility to make sure you can't hear? Yet to record them seems to cross a moral line, I would think.

But what would you say about writing down quotes? Many times, I've sat in cafés and heard people talking, and I've jotted down quotes I've found interesting. And here's a specific example: Once we sat in a café at a table where we could not help overhearing a conversation. We recognized one participant as a famous professor and he was saying some extraordinarily foolish things. There's a certain word, that — if you knew how to pronounced it the way this professor did — you could say and crack me up in one second. I could have written down a lot of quotes that day and blogged them. Decency constrained me. But, surely, that could not be made into a crime in the United States.

ADDED: I'm musing about what we might consider morally wrong because it relates to what the statute might mean and also what the government may — if it chooses — criminalize.

AND: It seems to me that putting your ear against the wall/door is wrong in a way that pausing to listen when you hear talking through a wall/door is not. Here's a passage from David Rakoff's book "Half Empty":
Once during the day... I could hear Raul Rivas having sex in the office downstairs. I skittered around the apartment like a cockroach on a frying pan, trying not to make noise while desperately looking for a knothole in the crappy floorboards. Eventually I just lay down flat against the tile of the kitchen floor, listening. Lying flat against the tile of the kitchen floor listening to someone else have sex is essentially my early twenties in a nutshell.
Morally wrong, but how morally wrong?

"It is important not to create a precedent validating the prohibition of the sale of any object of a sacred nature..."

"... regardless of the culture concerned... Our goal has always been to showcase Hopi culture and make it accessible to the largest number of people and in strict compliance with the law."

Happy 5th bloggiversary...

... to Jaltcoh, who marks the occasion, as he does every year, with a list of what he considers his top 10 posts of the year. A nice range of topics: the "acting alone" fallacy, Scalia's remarks on sexual orientation and murder, playing sad songs and easy guitar parts, businesses helping people...

A man preferred the wife he had before she started taking anti-depressants.

The old sarcasm and sense of the absurd aligned with his, and now it's gone, superseded by optimism.

Have you seen "Room 237" — the movie about what people think about the movie "The Shining"?

It was released for streaming — watch it here — at the same time that it opened in theaters. We watched last night. It will be quite fun for you, I think, if you've seen the movie "The Shining" — even if you're not obsessed with the movie — if you're interested in the way a work of art can draw people in and open up the doors of perception. With the revered genius director Kubrick cramming visual details in every shot, a viewer's mind can run wild with theories. The viewers' response to the movie parallels the Jack Nicholson character's response to the hotel. How crazy are these people? What do those cans of Calumet Baking Powder really mean?

Was Kubrick deliberately nudging you to think that the movie is really about the genocide of the Native Americans? Start looking for the other clues. It's amazing. It's a maze. You could get lost in there.

Was Kubrick trying to drive Stephen King crazy, like by making Jack's Volkswagen Beetle yellow instead of red and then later showing a crushed red Beetle under that semi in the snow?

Kubrick does these dissolves between scenes that have some interesting superimposed images — liked the peaked hotel roof and the ladder in the lobby — and the movie has several instances of characters walking backward — Shelley Duvall retreating up the stairs and swinging a baseball bat at Jack and the little boy retracing his steps in the snow to escape — and there's the backwards writing — "redrum" — so maybe Kubrick would like us to project the movie backwards and forwards simultaneously on one screen? Think what you could learn! All the secrets!

Well, I learned that Kubrick likes symmetry and puts things smack in the middle of the screen, which increases the likelihood of interesting combinations if you project backwards over forwards, but these people who obsess about the movie think Kubrick was trying to say something important. And what a coincidence! The message is about that person's central obsession — the slaughter of the Indians, the Holocaust, sex... 

"There are not many groups of people that can get a meeting with any senator they want, whenever they want."

"These are smart, articulate people, who don’t have a scintilla of Washington about them... But they virtually cannot be denied a meeting."

Victimhood has its privileges.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin writes: "Mitchell and Webb the victim's opinion story questioned." Great link!

"Born with raised moles on her cheek that loosely resembled the constellation of The Big Dipper, Schiaparelli didn't have them removed..."

"... rather, she commissioned Cartier to make her a Big Dipper brooch, with diamonds for stars, mirroring the pattern of the moles on her face. Instead of the classic fur coat that Audrey Volk swore by, [Elsa] Schiaparelli designed high-heeled ocelot fur bowling shoes, as well as a hat made out of the taxidermied face of a cheetah whose open mouth looked like it was swallowing Schiaparelli's head."

From an NPR story about Patricia Volk's new book "Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me."

And here's Elsa Schiaparelli's own book "Shocking Life."

The "shocking" business relates to the "shocking pink," the shade of pink used on the box for Schiaparelli's perfume named Shocking, which came out in 1937, when it was possible for a magazine advertisement to look like this:

Purchase of the day.

From the April 10, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Yuasa YUAM3RH2S YTX12-BS Battery
By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want, pay nothing extra, and make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And only if you tell us will we know it's you.

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"I typed up a cicada story... not every piece needs to be about the meaning of the universe..."

"... but it did make a good point about cicada behavior: They don’t really interact with us the way other insects do...."
They’re in their own universe. They do not care about us. They don’t care about the war in Iraq, the prisoner abuse scandal, the presidential race, the federal deficit or the rising price of gas...

Try to interact with a cicada. It shows no fear. Indeed, it doesn’t seem to see you at all. It has beady red eyes but might as well be blind. If you pick one up it will wriggle its legs and maybe flit its wings, but with no genuine buggy emotion. They don’t know the basic animal trick of fleeing....

There is a temptation to scorn cicadas, what with their narrow, molt-mate-and-die agenda, the one-note song of the males that sounds like someone has left the pod-bay door ajar, and their general adaptive tendency to rely entirely on numbers rather than skill or savvy or strength or any other evolutionary adaptation....
That's Joel Achenbach, who hasn't heard of insect politics... because — as you should know by now...
Insects don't have politics.... they're very brutal. No compassion.... no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first insect politician. I'd like to, but.... I'm an insect.... who dreamed he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over, and the insect is awake....

"Death presents journalists with another dangerous temptation — the egomaniacal urge to link your life to the deceased’s..."

"... however tenuous the connection might be. It’s a way of siphoning off some of the ambient good will, but it was not true in my case. In my 'Roger and me' story, I don’t come off looking so hot, either."

$147-million pitcher Zach Greinke lowered his non-throwing shoulder to absorb the impact of the charging Carlos Quentin...

... and Greinke's left collarbone broke. Video at the link. Quentin had been struck by a pitch.
The slugger started walking toward the mound and Greinke appeared to say something. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Quentin then charged the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, who is 6-2 and 195 pounds. They dropped their shoulders and collided, and Quentin tackled the pitcher to the grass....

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was livid, saying it shouldn't have happened because Quentin was hit on a 3-2 pitch in a one-run game.

"That's just stupid is what it is," Mattingly said. "He should not play a game until Greinke can pitch. If he plays before Greinke pitches, something's wrong...."

April 11, 2013

Instapundit: "Bras make boobs saggier, study finds."

Posted this evening, but please note that in June 2009, I wrote — on Instapundit:
DO BRAS PREVENT SAGGY BREASTS? “There is, so far as [The Straight Dope] can discover, zero evidence that bras prevent saggy breasts.” I recommend bralessness. At least don’t let fear of drooping breasts stop you.."
I had a corresponding post on Althouse, so there was a comments thread here. The first commenter was Bissage (the dearly missed Bissage):
I’ve always worn briefs instead of boxers, just in case.
Then somebody else said: "For older women, the bra offers one benefit. It holds the sagging organ away from the skin beneath it." And I said: "Go braless so you don't develop a place called 'under your breasts.'"

I also have a September 2005 post on this subject (which is close to my heart).  It started out talking about the old Maidenform bra ads, and I was criticizing the ones that featured a woman staying home with her kids:

"If we could strip away the influences of modern Western culture and media and the high-fructose, high-salt temptations of the junk-food sellers..."

"... would we all be eating like Inuit elders, instinctively gravitating to the most healthful, nutrient-diverse foods? Perhaps. It’s hard to say. There is a famous study from the 1930s involving a group of orphanage babies who, at mealtimes, were presented with a smorgasbord of thirty-four whole, healthy foods. Nothing was processed or prepared beyond mincing or mashing. Among the more standard offerings— fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, chicken, beef— the researcher, Clara Davis, included liver, kidney, brains, sweetbreads, and bone marrow. The babies shunned liver and kidney (as well as all ten vegetables, haddock, and pineapple), but brains and sweetbreads did not turn up among the low-preference foods she listed. And the most popular item of all? Bone marrow."

Mary Roach, "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal." (pp. 63-64).

Who secretly recorded the McConnell campaign?

A "longtime local Democratic operative" accuses "leaders of the Progress Kentucky super PAC" of what is, apparently, a felony.

"Obama said 'chill, you gonna get me impeached'/But you don't need this shit anyway/Chill with me on the beach."

Jay-Z in his "Open Letter" which is — according to the NYT — "lash[ing] out at members of Congress who have raised questions about the legality of his recent trip to Cuba with Beyoncé, his wife."
On Friday, Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart said in a letter to Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, that the trip looked like a tourist visit. “Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple’s trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda,” the letter said.

But the Treasury Department responded that site-seeing [sic] was allowed during the off-hours on an educational visit and Jay-Z and Beyoncé had fulfilled their educational obligations by meeting with the La Colmenita theater group and talking with students at the Superior Art Institute.
I'm reading these lyrics, and I don't think he's (just) lashing out at the critics in Congress.
Politicians never did shit for me
Except lie to me, distort history
Do the "politicians" include Obama? Reread that part I put in the post title. I think he's challenging Obama to drop the charade. Imagine Obama taking Jay-Z's advice, deciding he's not a politician and he doesn't need this shit, and he should just say and do everything he really wants, get himself impeached and move on to better things, AKA the beach.

Jay-Z calls himself "the Bob Dylan of rap music" and riffs on the "Idiot Wind" lyrics:
Idiot wind, the Bob Dylan of rap music
You're an idiot, baby, you should become a student
Oh, you gonna learn today
Where the fuck have you been
The world's under new management
The new role model, fuck this Zoolander shit
Here are the lyrics to Dylan's "Idiot Wind" if you want to compare them to Jay-Z's "Open Letter." They are so much more elaborate and interesting that it makes the phrase "the Bob Dylan of rap music" sound as though it were meant as an insult to rap music.

But more importantly: "fuck this Zoolander shit" is directed at Obama, isn't it? Is it mocking Obama as phonily posing, like the movie character the male model Derek Zoolander?

I've never watched that movie past the first half-hour or so, but now, I'm reading the plot summary, and I see "Zoolander" has a political assassination plot!
[T]he fashion industry has been behind several political assassinations, and the brainwashed models are soon killed after they have completed their task.... As Derek takes the runway, Mugatu's disc jockey starts playing "Relax", activating Derek's mental programming....  
So what's Jay-Z talking about? I don't like seeing even oblique references to assassination in statements about the President.

Also in the Jay-Z song: "Wanna give me jail time and a fine/Fine, let me commit a real crime...."  And: "You know whenever I'm threatened, I start shooting, bark/Catch a body, head to Houston." Bark? Does he really say "bark"? Does that mean "Barack"? At least he said "Houston" and not "Dallas."

"Man tries to take photo of beaver; it kills him."

Take a lesson, men.

Old white guy — a USC polisci prof — rails against old white guys — the GOP.

"A professor... appears to have used a fall semester 2012 political science class to deliver sustained and angered attacks on Republicans, who he characterized as old, white, racist, and 'losers.'"

This video is edited, and I doubt if the edit is intended to do the professor any favors. And to my (lawprof) eye, this professor is trying to get a rise out of the students. He's muttering blunt and provocative statements, then pausing. Ah, but what's a student to do? Engage in classroom debate — the supposedly wonderful opportunity for which they pay exorbitant tuition? Some of them do. They're not entirely inert. The option of making secret video and dumping it online is an alternative to classroom debate, if you come to believe that debating with the professor is a mug's game.

Ironically, this professor is teaching that it's all about power and you need to use hardcore tactics to win, and the student seems to have learned this lesson well. The edited video, dumped on the internet is a hardcore tactic, flipping the power on the old white guy.

"Why Elitists Hate" the Brad Paisley/LL Cool J song "Accidental Racist."

According to novelist Will Shetterly (one of six commentators on the much-maligned recording):
The song’s first sin is it’s earnest. There’s no irony to please hipsters.

Its second sin is it’s about members of the U.S.’s racially and regionally divided working class, a southern white Lynyrd Skynyrd fan in a Confederate battle flag T-shirt and a northern black rapper in a do-rag, gold chains and sagging pants. This song wasn’t made for, by or about people who consider themselves the cultural elite, and elitists hate the idea of being irrelevant, especially in a discussion of an issue as important as race.

Its third sin is featuring a rap artist. Many elitists hate rap as much as they hate country, though they don’t like to admit it for fear of appearing racially insensitive....

Its last sin is its title -- "Accidental Racist" -- which reminds academic race theorists of a pet term, “unintentional racism,” the racism practiced by people who don’t realize they’re racist. The song is about the opposite phenomenon, the assumptions of people who see racism where it isn’t present because they misunderstand the symbols of a different culture....

"At Howard University, Rand Paul Falsely Claims He Never Opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act."

Writes Adam Serwer in Mother Jones, quoting a 2010 interview in which Rand Paul said:
PAUL: I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I'm all in favor of that.


PAUL: You had to ask me the "but." I don't like the idea of telling private business owners—I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant—but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that's most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind.
Back in 2006, some of you may remember, I got into a very uncomfortable situation with some libertarians over precisely this issue. Rand Paul wasn't around, but I got a close-up view of some libertarians displaying an attitude about private race discrimination that literally made me cry:

"Johns Hopkins excludes black speaker from graduation."

Writes Instapundit, linking to a report that says "Neurosurgeon Ben Carson announced his withdrawal as speaker at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine commencement."

What constitutes "exclusion"? If Carson declines to step up and face the protests and criticisms, does he deprive his supporters of the "exclusion" taunt? Obviously, Instapundit doesn't think so.

Carson cites "the national media" attention to his "statements as to [his] belief in traditional marriage" and professes a belief that it is "in the best interests of the students" for him "to voluntarily withdraw," since his "presence is likely to distract from the true celebratory nature of the day." Graduation should be about the students, he says and then gets in his shot, which contains a well-cloaked accusation of exclusion:
"Someday in the future, it is my hope and prayer that the emphasis on political correctness will decrease and we will start emphasizing rational discussion of differences so we can actually resolve problems and chart a course that is inclusive of everyone."
Ironically, it was the lack of inclusiveness on the part of Carson that made Carson seem like an inappropriate graduation speaker. Graduation really does need to be a politically correct occasion, and Carson's withdrawal cites exactly that need. Did Johns Hopkins exclude him? Some people at Johns Hopkins made him feel excluded — excluded by the very nature of graduation. Even as he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, he believes that graduation is about the students' positive feelings. Is Carson hoping that in the future, graduation ceremonies will include speakers that challenge the students' comfortable set of beliefs?

That would be as nontraditional as same-sex marriage!

Purchase of the day.

From the April 10, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
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"'Yoni Ki Baat,' loosely translated as 'Talk of the Vagina,' is a nationwide theatre ensemble..."

"... dedicated to creating a space in which womyn of color can express their own views on sexuality and their bodies - topics which are traditionally kept 'hush-hush' in many of our cultures and communities.... YKB also aims to end the silencing of violence against womyn, especially in diasporic cultures around the world."

Email inviting me to a (free) theatrical performance which will take place at Madison's glitzy Overture Center.
We are proud to present UW-Madison's fifth production of YONI KI BAAT, also known as the womyn of color Vagina Monologues. We will be performing the narratives and stories of womyn in the diaspora, some of which have been written by the performers themselves.

The yoni (Sanskrit word for "vagina") has long been held sacred in Hindu mythology, but through years of patriarchy and colonialism, it has rarely been allowed to speak its mind. In 2003, South Asian Sisters, a collective of progressive desi womyn, decided that the yoni needed a chance to get on stage and tell its side of the story. Thus, "Yoni ki Baat" (YKB) was born.
Thanks for defining "yoni," but what about "diaspora"? The OED (which I can't link, unfortunately) gives only one meaning of "diaspora," and it relates to the Jewish people:

Why was David Corn offered that secret audio of McConnell and his aides talking about how to attack Ashley Judd?

Corn, who won't reveal his source, says he doesn't know and didn't ask, but he guesses it was because he was the one who leaked the "47%" video that wrecked Romney.
Indeed, in the wake of the Romney revelation, Corn has received a mini-flood of would-be audio and video leaks about Washington figures. Some of these have looked promising, but none have become public — yet. Corn said he hasn’t been able to vet them to his satisfaction or work out terms for making them public. He has “passed” on several of the offers for a variety of reasons.
So then the question becomes: Why did Corn publish the McConnell material? He says he made sure it wasn't "faked, doctored or taken out of context," and he sought a response from McConnell, but that doesn't explain why he put effort into this material rather than all that other material in that "mini-flood" of material that now flows his way.

Corn cites "newsworthiness":
“I think voters and citizens have a tremendous right to know almost as much as possible of the elected officials who come before them and ask for their votes,” he said. “I think people can decide for themselves how outrageous [McConnell’s] behavior is, but it gives you a glimpse inside his campaign’s thinking.”
That quote doesn't explain anything at all about why this particular audio is newsworthy. It's a generic statement that would justify publishing the secret recordings of the planning sessions of every political campaign! 

There is absolutely zero particularity about why McConnell's campaign was the one Corn selected from the mini-flood of audio and video leaks that he hasn't vetted yet. One is forced to conclude that Corn wanted to get McConnell. That's a political standard, not the journalistic standard.

It's not "newsworthiness." It's partisanship.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some commenters react to this post by saying, more or less, duh, Mother Jones is partisan. They are missing the fact that the link goes to a front-page Washington Post story elevating Corn in the journalistic profession.

April 10, 2013

MTV executives thought that "Buckwild could fill a void left by one-time juggernaut Jersey Shore."

I have heard that those without religion have a "God-sized hole" in their lives. But imagine having a Jersey-Shore-sized hole.

"Buckwild" was a reality show with fun-loving young people in West Virginia, but then its best character, Shain Gandee, died. The cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, apparently a consequence of one of the supposedly fun activities, "mudding" — driving off road. You don't want the tailpipe of your vehicle stuck in the mud. Poor Gandee was only 21. And now the show is cancelled.
After several days spent weighing the implications of moving forward with the reality show, MTV brass ultimately decided it would be imprudent to do so...

According to one series insider, internal conversations were had on the day of Gandee's death about potentially "softening" the show, which has focused on such behavior as off-roading, tire roll-downs and hard partying. But doing so likely would prove incongruous with the show's brand -- and potentially turn off viewers in the process. 
The brand. It can't include struggling with the death of a young person. The Jersey-Shore-sized hole in the MTV viewer's life doesn't yearn to be filled like that.

What if we actually let Gandee's death open a new door of meaning? What if we fixed our eyes on the reality of the consequences of endless wild fun and let the sadness of Gandee's fate transform us and bring new dimension to the lives of young people who are hurting and longing for some depth, something to hold onto in this world that seems so heartless sometimes?


The brand. The brand.

"By age 3, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words in his home environment..."

"... than a child from a professional family. And the disparity mattered: the greater the number of words children heard from their parents or caregivers before they were 3, the higher their IQ and the better they did in school. TV talk not only didn’t help, it was detrimental."

There are some big correlation/causation problems lurking in there, obviously.

Rand Paul's theory on why black people turned away from the Republican Party.

Speaking at Howard University, he said that black people "'became impatient" during the Great Depression because 'they wanted economic emancipation.'"
Republican policies, he said, aren't as tangible and don't "put food on the table" as quickly as Democratic polices...

Clarence Thomas was not surprised that a black man was elected President...

... but "he always thought a black president would have to be 'approved by the elites' in the media and in society." And: "If I was going to have hard feelings, it’d be mostly on race issues."

At the Blonde Squirrel Café...


... scamper in.

When things fall into the wrong hands.

From Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong's "The Brethren," the 1979 book about the the Supreme Court (in the 1969 Term through the 1975 Term). This vignette takes place after the oral argument in the Watergate tapes case (United States v. Nixon) at page 374:
The clerks turned to humor to kill time as they waited to learn what was going on. One of Powell’s clerks, disturbed by his boss’s memo the day before, drafted a phony opinion and gave it very limited circulation to the clerks’ dining room. “We believe the principle of executive privilege is important…. This case is different from all others that will come before the Court. The Court should be guided by a solicitous concern for the effective discharge of the President’s duties and the dignity of his high office.

“However, we’re deciding this case differently, because Nixon is a crook and somebody ought to throw the son of a bitch in jail.”

Marshall laughed heartily when his clerks showed him a copy. The copies were destroyed for fear that one might fall into the wrong hands.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 9, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
Samsung UN55EH6000 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV (Black)
By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want, pay nothing extra, and make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And only if you tell us will we know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: easy set up and connect, high-def, exceptionally vibrant, yet always natural-looking.

"Thunderstorms contain 'dark lightning,' invisible pulses of powerful radiation."

News flash.

When Sandra Day O'Connor lit into Walter Dellinger in Clinton v. Jones.

Reading the case again today (for conlaw class), I went back to what is, for me, one of the best snippets in Supreme Court oral argument. O'Connor is withering, and I think you can hear Dellinger — arguing that civil suits against the President must be delayed until after he's out of office — losing in 3 minutes of real time.

I love the way the other female Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg comes in — after Scalia's I like rules! outburst — and echoes O'Connor — using a somewhat kinder, gentler tone — but essentially saying — as I hear it — this is destroying you.

The jurisdiction questions in the same-sex marriage cases.

Explained in a layperson-friendly way by lawprofs:

"Why Thatcher Wouldn’t Succeed in Our ‘Lean In’ Culture."

By Amity Shlaes.
As [Sheryl] Sandberg laboriously notes [in her bestseller "Lean In"], Harvard Business School, which already famously focused on teamwork and consensus, has lately emphasized teamwork even more. It’s hard to imagine Thatcher (“Defeat? I do not recognize the word”) thriving at HBS.

The result of the collaborative culture is that corporations or government institutions focus intensely on internal culture and pour their energy into achieving minuscule policy changes relating to workplace efficiency, gender or race. The great victory with which future Thatcher biographers are likely to open their accounts is her winning back the Falkland Islands from the Argentine junta. The great victory with which Sandberg opens her book was getting Google Inc. (GOOG) to establish reserved parking for pregnant women.
IN THE COMMENTS: MayBee asks: "What is with this annoying attempt to get people to use the phrase 'lean in'?" I've been irked by this too. Obviously, Sandberg was trying to sell her book and came up with something she wanted to make into a meme, but how did she get so many media people to adopt it?

Why does the meme seem useful? Is it some subliminal effect? I see the connotations of slimming down and also being lazy (like when you're leanin' on the shovel/mop instead of working).

I suspect that media people are mostly just lamely grasping at ways to make the same old material seem new. I'm guilty of spreading the meme too, since I put this post up, but I have actually been avoiding "Lean In" stuff. I fell for it this time because of the Margaret Thatcher + Amity Shlaes prod.

ALSO IN THE COMMENTS: "I enjoy watching a woman 'lean in.'" And: "Lean In while wearing a low cut blouse, and you're sure to get a promotion." Is that the subliminal sustenance people are receiving?!

About those robot surgeons.

"There also have been a few disturbing, freak incidents: a robotic hand that wouldn't let go of tissue grasped during surgery and a robotic arm hitting a patient in the face as she lay on the operating table...."

"Now’s the time to get engaged."


Now’s the time to get engaged. Now’s the time to get involved. Now’s the time to push back on fear and frustration and misinformation. Now’s the time for everybody to make their voices heard, from every statehouse to the corridors of Congress.
Now's the time to say now's the time.

Time's up!

"Anthony Weiner eyeing run for mayor of New York City."

Count the phallic symbols in the photo illustrating this headline.

AND: Compare this puff piece in the NYT Magazine: "Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin’s Post-Scandal Playbook." It begins:
One day in early February, I met Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin for breakfast at the Gramercy Park Hotel, one of their regular joints, just a few blocks from their apartment on Park Avenue South. The first thing Weiner said when I sat down was that their 13-month-old son, Jordan, had just moments ago taken his first step. They were both giddy, kvelling with baby-pride, especially Weiner, who, with all his free time, has become his son’s primary caretaker....
They're kvelling. I'm gagging.

IN THE COMMENTS: CatherineM said: "Wow, so I guess he moved out of Forest Hills. No need since he's not representing a district anymore. So, I guess he's loaded if he's in Gramercy." Yeah. Good point. Where did all that money come from? Maybe the answer is in that NYT article, but the one bite of that cream puff was too much for me.

ADDED: To try to answer my question "Where did all that money come from?" without slogging through the whole thing, I searched the entire article text for various words: money, income, wealth, salary. Nothing. I resorted to "pay." "Pay" came up twice. Here:
"'You’re not paying enough attention to me'... And, I would then maybe play out, you know, if they told someone else that I was not paying attention to them anymore...."
Ha. That's just Weiner talking about his idiotic scandal that we're supposedly "post."

"I’ve got a woman’s ability..."

"... to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it."

"An X-ray image shows how far inside the man's body the eel was able to get."

A gruesome image, but it's not like it was the eel's decision to enter the man's body:
A man in China's southeastern Guangdong province admitted himself to a local hospital after he reportedly got a live eel stuck inside him. According to British tabloid The Sun, the man inserted the 20-inch-long Asian swamp eel into his anus after seeing it done in a porn movie, and he had to endure all-night surgery to have it extracted.
So it was a Lemmiwinks situation!  

Hurry onward Eeliwinks, or you will soon be dead.

"How Roger Ebert Embraced Black Beauty" — another headline I misread.

I'd forgotten I had the page open to "The Root." An hour ago, I'd clicked from the front page of The Washington Post on a teaser that read "Time for Jay-Z to set down the mike?" and I'd opened a tab that had the more stolid headline "Jay-Z Is More Interesting as a Mogul Than as a Rapper," which I didn't feel like reading. So a person I'm not interested in is more interesting one way rather than another. The teaser made me think Jay-Z had said something that might be bloggable.

(By the way, I notice that on The Root page, the spelling "mic" is used, though on the main WaPo page, they use "mike." We've had this spelling discussion on the blog before — more than once. And I noticed a few days ago, Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the subject: "We in broadcasting spell the abbreviation for microphone 'mic,' m-i-c. We don't say m-i-k-e.")

Anyway, a tab was open — among many open tabs, things I hadn't clicked off and might get around to — and — without realizing I was at The Root, the WaPo offshoot that specializes in issues relating to black people — I glanced at that headline in the sidebar:  "How Roger Ebert Embraced Black Beauty."

I know that Roger Ebert was married to a black woman. Here's a nice Buzzfeed piece: "Roger And Chaz Ebert's Beautiful Marriage, In His Words."

But in my experience, "Black Beauty" is the title of the book that lined up next to "Heidi" on the bookcase in my sister's childhood bedroom, which made it seem to me like one of the 2 most famous and revered books of all time

I grew up thinking everyone idolized the girl Heidi and the horse Black Beauty. Whatever else I have learned over the years, that's how my brain is wired.

How Roger Ebert Embraced Black Beauty...

Wrong image!

From the "Black Beauty" link above:
Black Beauty is the prettiest young horse in the meadows, and spends many happy days under the apple trees with his friends Ginger and Merrylegs. But this easy life comes to an end when Beauty is sold and goes from farm to inn to cabhorse in London, enduring rough treatment from foolish and careless masters. Beauty remains faithful, hardworking, and full of spirit despite his trials, and through him we learn that all horses and humans alike deserve to be treated with kindness.
Oddly enough, Black Beauty sounds like the Uncle Tom of horses.

Misread headlines... misread photographs.

So... I saw this over at HuffPo...

And I thought, well, really how many men go in for a waxing? I remember when Christopher Hitchens went in for a Brazilian wax and wrote about it in Vanity Fair:
The male version of the wax is officially called a sunga, which is the name for the Brazilian boys’ bikini. I regret to inform you that the colloquial term for the business is “sack, back, and crack.” I went into a cubicle which contained two vats of ominously molten wax and was instructed to call out when I had disrobed and covered my midsection with a small towel. Then in came Janea Padilha, the actual creator of the procedure. She whipped away the exiguous drapery and, instead of emitting the gasp or whistle that I had expected, asked briskly if I wanted any “shaping.” Excuse me? What was the idea? A heart shape or some tiger stripes, perhaps, on the landing strip? I disdained anything so feminine and coolly asked her to sunga away.
Whipped away the exiguous drapery... Oh, lord, I miss Hitchens!

And now, I'm looking at the photograph and thinking, well, this guy is none too bulgy. (Have you heard the news? Women prefer men with large penises!) And what is that? A dragon image on the underpants? Hey, wait a minute! That's not a guy! This is not an article about "men's bikini wax preference." This is an article about women's bikini waxes and what men think about them!
A new study... surveyed 1,000 men and found... 43 percent...said they preferred women's hair natural with a "Bermuda triangle" (i.e. trimmed hair and waxed sides). 17 percent said they like a "landing strip," 15 percent dig a heart shape, and only 12 percent said they prefer a full-on Brazilian (no hair at all).

"Let's face it, who does not love this music?" asked Obama, referring to Memphis soul...

... which apparently includes Justin Timberlake. Oh, I am cynical enough to think that Obama really wanted to bring Timberlake over to the house to sing for his young daughters, and the Memphis soul business was constructed around that project to give it the needed air of dignity, worthiness, and tribute.
Obama said the unique blend of musical styles created in segregated Tennessee in the 1960s was special because it "played an important part in our history." He also noted the music sought to bridge racial divides and "create a little harmony with harmony."
I was impressed by how smoothly the webstream flowed. It looked crisp and utterly unhinky on my desktop monitor. I know that costs money, presumably taxpayer money, and that's inconsistent with the suffering-under-the-sequester political meme pursuant to which White House tours have been cancelled. But if they're going to have these concerts at all, in these days of the internet, they owe a quality stream to us, the people.

How much could that cost, anyway? I loved the live unedited feed, like when Queen Latifah had to realign herself after some technician pointed out the tape marks on the floor, and how Malia and Sasha looked stone-faced on either side of their parents (who were incessantly bopping their heads), and how some aide came in to lean over and consult with the frowning, deep-in-thought Obama (in political theater that made me say out loud "A plane has struck the second tower").

I want the feed. Feed us!

"Make us your slaves, but feed us."

April 9, 2013


Drudge mocks and embeds...

UPDATE: I've changed the link to the Drudge archive site so you can see how the page looked at the time.

Baroness Thatcher died sitting up in "a top suite" at the Ritz Hotel in London.

She was in bed, reading a book. She'd been staying there since Christmas, where she'd moved after a hospital stay. It was "one of her favourite places – and she was invited by its owners the Barclay brothers to stay there for the foreseeable future."

The article doesn't say what the book was. What book do you like to think it was?

Sitting up reading in bed — would you not want that to be your final moment? What book do you like to think you would be reading? If you say the Bible, name the chapter.

"It didn't have eyes or a mouth but it was like screeching, making this noise."

"It was weird. It sounded like a little alien."

The nurse — who'd been "handed a 18- to 24-inch-long newborn in a glass pan by an assistant who asked for her help" — said she was "so 'freaked out' that she left the room and did not know what happened to the baby."

"I honestly didn't even know I was missing, I didn't know I was gone, I didn't know anything was going on."

"I just thought I was in a big dream," said Kyndall Jack, an 18-year-old woman who had gotten lost in the forest and was hallucinating from dehydration.
She said the last thing she remembers is fighting off an animal with [her friend Nicolas] Cendoya after darkness fell, but she does not recall how the two got separated or what she did between then and her rescue. She hallucinated she was being eaten by a python, she tried to eat rocks and dirt, and thought that tree twigs were straws from which she could suck water....

Her mouth was so full of dirt the first man to reach her was afraid she would choke if he gave her water.
UPDATE, May 2, 2013: Cendoya arrested for felony methamphetamine possession.
Authorities found the drug in the vehicle belonging to 19-year-old Nicolas Cendoya while responding to his and 18-year-old Kyndall Jack's disappearance.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 8, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
Coleman Quickbed
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"Brad Paisley is not a racist."

"He’s not an 'accidental' one (whatever that means) or even an on-purpose one. The man just wants peace and racial harmony, and he’s collaborated with LL Cool on a new song, 'Accidental Racist,' to bring about the post-racial utopia he dreams of. And he’s achieved it, in a way — people of all races are joining hands and coming together as one to mock the song’s colossal wrongheadedness."

Oh? It's like "Ebony and Ivory" all over again.

ADDED: I haven't read all the criticisms of "Accidental Racism," but I have now listened to the song, and the LL Cool J part is the worst, especially the line: "If you forget my gold chains... I’ll forget the iron chains...."

Secret recording of Mitch McConnell strategy session about how to go after Ashley Judd.

David Corn at Mother Jones has lots of audio clips and transcript, but he doesn't tell us who made the tape and gave it to him. Surveillance on a political campaign? If that's not bad, should we revise our opinion about the Watergate burglary?

Corn would like us to think he's got material that's quite nefarious, because "McConnell and his aides considered assaulting Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views." But doesn't every campaign brainstorm about everything that could possibly be used? One campaign aide said:

The U.S. government sent a man to our door to pay $90 if one of us would answer a few questions and spit in a tube.

Me, I don't answer the doorbell unless I already know who is there, but Meade went to the door to find a man with a clipboard and a National Health and Alcohol Study badge. If somehow I'd gone to the door, I'd have seen through the window that it was a man with a clipboard and given my no-none-of-that-here hand gesture and never opened the door. And if somehow I'd started talking to the guy and he'd said the first thing — that he was doing a government health survey — I'd have abruptly refused. No way! And if he'd reached the part about giving a saliva sample, I'd have laughed in his face.

But Meade — a Hoosier, much friendlier than I am — talked to the man for what was, to me, a puzzling length of time. Of course, Meade refused to do the survey or part with the saliva, but he did receive these papers:


"Questions like age and education, drinking, medicine and drug use, mood, anxiety, behavior and medical conditions and personality." No way! Yet over 100,000 people have participated. $90 is an impressive amount of money, perhaps especially to people with alcohol problems. As Meade said later, you could buy a lot of gin for $90. I'm irked as a taxpayer. Is this a federal jobs program to tide over erstwhile census workers?

Above, you see the little brochure, and Meade was also given this copy of a letter that was previously sent in the mail to soften us up for government interrogation. I vaguely remember tossing it right in the trash recycling bin:


Interestingly, the softening-up letter doesn't mention the part where the government's independent contractor makes you spit in a tube. It also refers only to alcohol and alcohol-related mental issues. Unlike the brochure, it doesn't mention drug use. It does, however, boldface the $90. You get $45 to sit for the interview, but $45 is withheld until you get to "the end."

But "It's okay to skip questions you don't want to answer for any reason." So, you're answering questions and then there's one you don't want to answer? Speaking of anxiety! And then they want the saliva sample. By the way, one of the mood/behavior issues around drug and alcohol use is lying. Presumably, they will detect that.

But don't worry, this is for "research purposes only." We're assured our personal information will be stripped away. What? Are you paranoid? How does that paranoia relate to your drug/alcohol use?

The government simply wants to "decide how best to use money and staff to solve national health problems." How about not handing out hundreds of thousands of pairs of $45 checks to collect data from the kind of people who don't know how to say no to a government that manipulates them into surrendering their freedom for a handout?

ADDED: Meade tells me the man said the saliva was for DNA, something about checking one's ancestry for alcohol (and drug?) related problems.

Rush Limbaugh calls Margaret Thatcher "one of the greatest Americans, quote, unquote, that I've ever met."

He describes a dinner party at which the hostess, Gay Gaines had seated him next to her longtime friend Margaret Thatcher and was urging him to talk about the latest political issue, which he said he was too tired to do. Thatcher said  "Gay, he doesn't wish to speak about politics. So let's talk of the rule of law" and, as Rush puts it:
... bam, there we are off on a discussion, the rule of law. She loved the founders. She absolutely thought they were the most brilliant people, 'cause they were Brits, don't forget. Our founders were British. She loved them.

She loved Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was it. But she loved them all. She knew the history of this country better than most people in this country do, and she revered it. She was one of the greatest Americans, quote, unquote, that I've ever met.
What topic would you suggest if your tablemate said he was tired of talking about politics? The rule of law?! I'd hear a cue to go somewhere lighthearted. Perhaps something about pop culture.

Here's a "Firing Line" appearance from 1977 that's up at the Rush Limbaugh website:

That's a 15-minute clip, not all of which was played on yesterday's radio show, but here's one of the parts that was:
THATCHER: I think what we've learned in Britain is that we've gradually, over the last certainly 12 or 13 years, with perhaps a little interruption, gone slowly further and further away from the free society towards something else.... At the same time we've found -- I don't find it strange, but some other people do -- that we have stopped creating wealth. We've had a large number of increasing restrictions. And you've been finding two things: First, that we are more and more concentrating on redistributing the wealth we've got, rather than creating any more. To create more, you need a slightly freer society, and you need an incentive society. Naturally when I see that happening, I look with very great alarm to societies which have gone even further left. That is, they've tried to redistribute even more and haven't had the incentives for people working hard on their own account, doing well for their families and often then being able to create jobs for others, they've produced a much more prosperous society than we have. But by and large you've got the two broad, different economic and political approaches.

RUSH: Here we are, 1977, and again, the value here, not just an illustration of who Lady Thatcher was, for those who don't know, but rather in 1977 it was known what is known today. And it was being executed then, as it's being executed now. And in 1977 it failed, i.e., the redistribution of wealth, the stoppage and the creation of wealth, which happens at the same time. The moment a society becomes redistributive, it stops creating wealth. She was cataloging current circumstances in Britain in 1977. And this was, of course, to set up her eventual triumph as prime minister.

April 8, 2013

"Maybe there are notes in all sorts of books."

A video I made today, in the University of Wisconsin faculty library — Lubar Commons. I was sitting by the window and I idly picked up one of the earliest volumes in the books that contain the decisions of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

"38 Things Minnesotans Are Too Nice To Brag About."

#1 is Bob Dylan and #38 is Prince.

That reminds me, for some reason, as we were driving home today, I remembered the line: "Name me someone that’s not a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him."

"A French intelligence agency threatened a Wikipedia volunteer with jail unless he deleted an article with which he had no connection..."

"... but which the spooks found inconvenient. Not surprisingly, that article has been restored and is now really popular."

"The interview was part of an ongoing roll-out of Chelsea Clinton’s public persona."

"Last week, the formerly camera-shy first daughter hosted several panels at the Clinton Global Initiative."

What? Her public persona wasn't rolled out before? This is some new re-roll-out. Is she going to go away again, hope that we forget, then re-re-roll out?

Remember how she was a TV journalist and failed and excused on the ground that she was "set up for a fall"?

Annette Funicello has died.

The greatest of all the Mouseketeers and the perfect early 60s teenage girl.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 7, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
The NEAT Whiskey Glass -Set of 2
By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want, pay nothing extra, and make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And only if you tell us will we know it's you.

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At the Entropy Café...


... I felt like the canary in a coal mine.

"Since Wisconsin stopped forcing public employees to pay union dues against their will..."

"... union membership in that state has plummeted," writes John Hinderaker.
[N]ot only did Scott Walker’s reforms strike an important blow for employee freedom, they also had the happy side-effect of depriving the unions of a large chunk of their funding, and therefore their ability to sway elections. So it is a win-win for everyone, except union bosses and the politicians they support. 

Lilly Pulitzer dresses were "really wearable only by the few who were so rich that they could afford to have bad taste."

Says the NYT in the obituary for Lilly Pullitzer, who built a "fashion empire" out of "tropical print shift dresses and lighthearted embrace of jarring color combinations like flamingo pink and apple green." Lilly was born into wealth and married into more wealth. She had 3 children and a nervous breakdown.
“I went crazy. I was a namby-pamby; people always made decisions for me. The doctor said I should find something to do.”
The family estate included citrus groves, so she opened a juice stand with another woman, and juice stains inspired the print dresses.
At first, her dresses were seen almost exclusively in Palm Beach circles, and then globally when her wealthy friends began appearing in the designs in magazines. Jacqueline Kennedy, a classmate from Miss Porter’s, wore a Pulitzer dress while on vacation: “It was made from kitchen curtain material and people went crazy,” Ms. Pulitzer said. “They took off like Zingo.”
Zingo? The (unlinkable) OED defines "zingo" as an interjection that means the same thing as "zing." Historical examples:
1914   Sat. Evening Post 17 Jan. 7/1   Just when he was bursting with happiness because he was going to be a real big leaguer and one of us—zingo! he was back where he started.
1941   B. Schulberg What makes Sammy Run? ii. 32   It didn't take nearly this long to think. It went zingo, just a look....
There's a word that I never noticed was a word. But how about these dresses?
“Puritan ethics of balance and value,” as Laura Jacobs wrote in a Vanity Fair profile of Ms. Pulitzer in 2003. They were accessible to most, but really wearable only by the few who were so rich that they could afford to have bad taste. A minidress of green peacocks dancing with merry seashells is not for just anyone.
Here. You can access this but can you wear it? Do you know the difference?

"We should immediately distinguish between paternalism about means and paternalism about ends."

"Means paternalism is like a GPS. You can ignore what the GPS says and try your own route, but if you do so, there is a serious risk that you will get lost. To return to the fuel efficiency example: means paternalists would steer consumers in the direction of considering all relevant costs at the time of purchase, certainly by providing relevant information, and if a fuel economy mandate would help consumers on balance, they would be willing to consider it."

Cass Sunstein is talking up paternalism again.
Yes, we've heard it before, but I thought you might like the GPS analogy, and it seems to summarize his new book, "Simpler: The Future of Government."