June 1, 2013

At the Saturday Peony Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"For many years, the liberal arts were my second religion..."

"Defending the liberal arts in the condition in which they now linger on scarcely seems worth the struggle."

"Wash. State Police Dogs Must Unlearn How To Smell Pot."

Headline at Talking Points Memo.

If you read the article you'll see it's a lot more complicated than that. For one thing, the new law only decriminalizes the personal possession of marijuana and only up to one ounce. How do you detect the remaining marijuana crimes? Yet it seems that the best approach is to have a dog that doesn't alert on smelling marijuana, so that it's easier to show probable cause and get a warrant to search for the drugs other than marijuana.

Goodbye to Jean Stapleton.

The actress — who played the "slow-witted, big-hearted and submissive — up to a point — housewife on the groundbreaking series 'All in the Family'" — was 90.
Her father, Joseph, was an advertising salesman; her mother, Marie Stapleton, was a concert and opera singer, and music was very much a part of her young life. Young Jeanne was a singer as well, which might be surprising to those who knew Ms. Stapleton only from “All in the Family,” which opened every week with Edith and Archie singing the song “Those Were the Days.” Ms. Stapleton’s screechy half of the duet was all Edith; the actress herself had a long history of charming musical performances. She was in the original casts of “Bells are Ringing” and “Damn Yankees” on Broadway in the 1950’s, and “Funny Girl,” with Barbra Streisand, in the 1960’s, in which she sang “If A Girl Isn’t Pretty,” and “Find Yourself a Man.” Off Broadway in 1991, she played Julia Child, singing the recipe for chocolate cake in the mini-musical “Bon Appétit.” On television, she sang with the Muppets.
Here's the audio of Stapleton singing "If A Girl Isn't Pretty."

ADDED: Here's an interview with her from 2000. At about the 6-minute mark, she talks about first meeting Carroll O'Connor when the 2 were cast in an episode of the TV show "The Defenders."


I'm not sure what bothers me more here — the word "healthing" or the notion of spraying germ-killer all over the house. What passes for cleaning these days? What passes for healthy? What passes for language?!


ALSO: I looked up "fungi" in the OED, hoping for some better pronunciation info, after many commenters said the "fun guy" pronunciation was correct and/or subliminally useful. I got distracted by the 1c definition of fungus:
c. A beard. Also face fungus n. at face....

1925 P. G. Wodehouse Sam the Sudden xiii. 89 Where did you get the fungus?
1936 P. G. Wodehouse Laughing Gas xxiv. 255, I had fallen among a band of criminals who were not wilful beavers, but had merely assumed the fungus for purposes of disguise.
1937 ‘R. Crompton’ William—the Showman x. 240 ‘Is it to be me or that ass with the fungus on his cheeks?’ demanded Richard belligerently....

"Fashion blog Ivy-Style.com posted an article today hypothetizing that four-term Republican North Carolina State Representative Bryan R. Holloway is the anonymous blogger..."

"... known as Richard, responsible for the much criticized WASP 101 fashion blog, widely excoriated around the internet for its frequent racist, sexist, and classist overtones (and for having bad fashion sense, too)."

Metafilter post (containing many useful links which I'm not taking the time to copy for you). From the comments:
I'm sure it's him, but this would be a pretty hilarious way to smear a politician. Cut the head out of some otherwise identifiable photos, start up an incredibly douchey fashion blog, and then delete it when people start sniffing around. I suppose this will be Holloway's line of defense: he's being smeared! No one will believe him, and rightly so. What a great way to smear someone.

"Cheerios had to disable comments on YouTube – I’m not going to repeat them but you can imagine the general witless racism..."

"... with stereotypes about minorities and warnings of race-mixing as the end of civilization. Late Friday night, after a day of widespread news coverage, the ad had more than 8,400 thumbs-up votes on YouTube, versus about 900 thumbs-down."

So we don't know who put up the comments and we don't have to suffer through reading them, whatever they were, but we're all watching the ad with the adorable little girl who conveys the message that Cheerios fend off heart attacks and loving females therefore feed their men Cheerios.

Viral ad campaign works swimmingly well.

Racism is bad. Well-known opinion, shared by everyone you know, is stated with indignant new fervor that seems justified by whatever that thing was that no one saw, and what slips in so easily is a genuinely questionable opinion: that eating packaged, processed grain food is good for your health.

Also, kids: In real life, pouring food on your dad when he's sleeping on the sofa is not a good way to cause him to wake up thinking I love you.

ADDED: This is a good time to look back on this great old George Bush viral video: "you're working hard to put food on your family.

"Americans are overly deferential to bureaucracy, but, in my observation, they are uniquely fearful of the state’s tax collectors..."

Mark Steyn writes:
I am an immigrant to this great land, and I love it, but I will make a small observation from my years in the United States which I hope won’t be taken the wrong way: Like citizens of almost all Western democracies in the 21st century, Americans are overly deferential to bureaucracy, but, in my observation, they are uniquely fearful of the state’s tax collectors to a degree I have never seen with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in London or equivalent agencies in Paris, Ottawa, Rome, Canberra. The IRS has, in American terms, extraordinary powers.... Americans are fearless if some guy pulls some stunt in a shopping mall, but an IRS assault is brutal and unending. Many activists faded away, and the media began writing stories about how the Tea Party had peaked; they were over; they wouldn’t be a factor in 2012. And so it proved.... [T]he plan worked.

Megyn Kelly dominates the males who strain to assert that the male is dominant.

They probably had to let her smack them around. Probably some uber-male at Fox News told them — Erick Erickson and Lou Dobbs — that they had to sit still for their punishment. Or maybe this is male dominance, like in those old movie melodramas where a big strong male stood still while his woman pounded her little fists on his chest until she broke down in tears and he could comfort her in his big strong arms. Except Megyn Kelly never breaks down. And Lou and Erick end up beaten to a bloody pulp.

Here's Amy Davidson in The New Yorker, quoting some of the best quotes:
Erickson had followed up with a blog post saying that “many feminist and emo lefties have their panties in a wad over my statements,” but that it was a biological truth that “kids most likely will do best in households where they have a mom at home nurturing them, while dad is out bringing home the bacon.”...

KELLY: I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think I’m an emo-liberal, and I don’t describe myself as a feminist —

ERICKSON: I don’t think you are either.

KELLY:—but I will tell you, I was offended by the piece nonetheless. I didn’t like what you wrote one bit, and I do think you are judging people. To me, you sound like somebody who’s judging but wants to come out and say, “I’m not, I’m not, I’m not, now let me judge, judge, judge. And, by the way, it’s science, science, science, it’s fact, fact, fact, fact, fact.” Well, I mean, I have a whole—this is a list of studies saying your science is wrong and your facts are wrong.
If you're going to play the science card, make sure you have a good science hand, because — unless you're just playing at home with a few lazy/dumb/weak friends, your bluff will be called.

Davidson portrays Kelly as bucking the system over there at bad old Fox News:
And, every now and then, the ideological blindness seems too much for her, and she makes it clear that she’s smarter than the men around her, rather than deftly letting them think they are.
Davidson thinks that the Fox News regulars who find themselves in the Erickson/Dobbs position "pretend, as they fall through the holes in their logic, that the ideological ground under them is still there." But I think it's more likely that the whole scene was planned that way, that it served the well-understood interests of Fox News, that Kelly had the role of dominant female delivering a beating, and Erickson and Dobbs knew that they had to receive 50 lashes of female retribution and restorative justice in order for the Fox News machine to move forward with the 2 of them as component parts.

Considering all the scandals...

... why was nothing dropped yesterday? It's Saturday morning. I'm not seeing anything particularly bloggable. Whatever happened to the old Friday night document dump?

A Google news search on "IRS"... "IRS turns over video of employees line dancing to Congress"...

Googling "Eric Holder"... "Attorney General Eric Holder Tells Media Outlets Leak Guidelines Will Change"...

Googling "Benghazi"... "Officials instructed Benghazi hospital to list Stevens as 'John Doe'"...

ADDED: There's this:
The Internal Revenue Service has told House GOP investigators they have identified 88 IRS employees who may have documents relevant to the congressional investigation into targeting of conservative groups, according to a congressional source familiar with the investigation.

May 31, 2013

"When we're talking about statewide expansion of voucher schools we're talking about moving into communities that don't want or need them..."

"... and in most cases are downright outspoken in their opposition to them... We're talking about diminished resources for students in our neighborhood public schools while private voucher schools essentially get a blank check at taxpayer expense with zero accountability."

"So the next time you see me sitting down during 'God Bless America,' don’t give me the 'hairy eyeball'..."

"... or say I’m un-American. In our great country, each of us has the right to his or her own religious beliefs, and we celebrate our nation’s diversity and plurality. My deeply held and sincere religious beliefs just don’t countenance this ritual."

From the Wikipedia article on the song:
Music critic Jody Rosen comments that a 1906 Jewish dialect novelty song, "When Mose with His Nose Leads the Band," contains a six-note fragment that is "instantly recognizable as the opening strains of 'God Bless America.'". He interprets this as an example of [Irving] Berlin's "habit of interpolating bits of half-remembered songs into his own numbers....

In 1938, with the rise of Hitler, Berlin, who was Jewish and a first-generation European immigrant, felt it was time to revive it as a "peace song," and it was introduced on an Armistice Day broadcast in 1938, sung by Kate Smith on her radio show. Berlin had made some minor changes...
The original lyric was "Stand beside her and guide her to the right with the light from above."
... by this time, "to the right" might have been considered a call to the political right, so he substituted "through the night" instead. 

"My argument that men should be saved is that, despite certain imperfections, men are fundamentally good..."

"... and are sort of pleasant to have around."
Most women still like to fall in love with them; all children want a father no matter how often we try to persuade ourselves otherwise. If we continue to impose low expectations and negative messaging on men and boys, future women won’t have much to choose from.
Even the proponents of men speak in terms of what's good for women!

"So you dislike Democrats as much as you dislike the GOP?"

Details asks Woody Harrelson (who played Steve Schmidt in that movie about Sarah Palin, "Game Change")"
It's all synchronized swimming to me. They all kneel and kiss the ring. Who's going to take on the oil industry or the medical industry? People compare Obama to Lyndon Johnson, but I think a better comparison is between Obama and Nixon. Because Nixon came into office saying he was going to pull out of Vietnam, and then he escalated the war. A lot of us were led to believe that Obama was the peace president, but there are still, I think, 70,000 troops in Afghanistan. Corporations like Grumman are so powerful that—I don't know, is this the kind of shit we want to talk about? It's making me depressed.

We'll meet a crane...

... don't know where... don't know when... but I know we'll meet a crane... some sunny day.

"In a technology age marked by vigilante heroes like Julian Assange and Anonymous, the line between journalism and espionage has grown thin."

"[Senator Mitch] McConnell was quick to frame himself as the victim of a crime, which was to be expected. It was the guilty repositioning of a politician who has been caught being craven."

"This boils my skin. One of my entire shifts will go 6.5 hours without a meal."

"If we need to cut back on money I could come up with 100 other places.... Instead, we will target the biggest contributor to morale. I must be losing my mind. What is our senior leadership thinking? I just got back from flying my ass off and in a few days, I will not have a meal to replenish me after being away for over 9 hours.'"

A Marine at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.

"Is Murder in a State Without the Death Penalty a Mitigating Factor in a Federal Death Penalty Case?"

A 6th Circuit panel had said yes, in a case where a man was convicted — under federal law, in federal court — of a murder in a  national forest in Michigan.

From the opinion (PDF):
The question is whether the fact of the location of the body so close to a line that forbids the death penalty...
The body was located only 227 feet within the boundary of the national forest.
...  allows counsel to try to convince one or more jurors that imposing the death penalty in these circumstances would treat life or death in a random and arbitrary way based on chance. The phrase “any mitigating factor” plainly includes information about Michigan’s policy against the death penalty and an argument based on the absence of proportionality in punishment when life or death is made to turn on chance and the lives of other equally guilty psychopaths are spared...
 ADDED: En banc, the 6th circuit voted 12-4 to reverse. 

At the Next Peony Café...


... keep talking.

"Mayor Rahmbo had already come under suspicion as being an advocate of privatization but his current move left little doubt."

"Emanuel’s demonstration demolition is meant to endear him to the elite privatization movement. The destruction of public education will make way for more neoliberal policies, and of course, some nice business opportunities for friends and contributors. The only force strong enough to oppose the corporate ‘reformers’ is the teachers unions, which has made them enemy no. 1. If the unions fail to stop the looters it will be open season on universal education throughout America."

Alarm is raised at FireDogLake.

"6 Inexplicably Hostile Interviews With Famous Musicians."

Amusing... and I'm trying to make it up to Cracked for not linking them in this post.

"Fame can become very addictive. And I've had all the fame a man could want."

Said George Bush.
I asked him if he had enjoyed the fame.

"Yeah, to a certain extent. I mean, it wasn't my life. It wasn't the center of my life. But I mean, when you're -- let me rephrase that. I enjoyed being president. And when you're president, you're famous. Now whether I enjoyed fame itself, I just, you know, you'd have to get the psychoanalyst on me," he said....

"I don't long for [fame]. Nor do I long for power. I've come to realize that power can be corrosive if you've had it for too long," Bush said. "It can dim your vision. And so I came to the conclusion that, you know, I don't long for fame. And really, gonna shy away from it. Not shy away from it. Avoid it. I'm not very shy. Avoid it."

"Which Highly Ranked Law Schools Operate Most Efficiently?"

Another permutation of the U.S. News Ranking.

My school comes out at #4 on this one, so I'm inclined to be impressed. The idea of "efficiency" is "Spending per student for each point in the overall U.S. News score." That is, the thing schools are visualized as competing for is U.S. News rank, and the less money you spend to get to whatever rank you've been assigned on the master ranking — "Best Law Schools" — the better you do on this "efficiency" ranking.

Another way of looking at this is — to get back to a popular old activity among law professors — is to impugn the master ranking. Here, one would say that what you can infer from this new chart is that many schools are simply buying their way up the rankings, overshadowing some deeper, truer, more substantive qualities that are revealed if the things money can buy are stripped away.

That's how folks tend to talk around here.

Should Republicans make the 2014 elections about Obama?

"'I don’t think I’d personalize it,' said John Linder, the former congressman from Georgia who ran the National Republican Congressional Committee during the late 1990s while Newt Gingrich and House Republicans were preparing an impeachment case against President Bill Clinton."
Mr. Linder said he fought and lost a battle with Mr. Gingrich over their strategy in the 1998 midterm elections, which Mr. Gingrich thought should be focused on assailing Mr. Clinton’s character.

“I didn’t want to talk about Clinton at all,” Mr. Linder recalled, saying the same logic should apply today. “Obama was not in the Justice Department. Obama was not working in the I.R.S.” His advice? “Don’t overreach,” he said.
The analogy to 1998 isn't exact. Clinton was active in doing the things that got him into impeachment trouble, but those things weren't about the political ideology that he shared with the Democrats in Congress. Voters might want Congress to go after him more aggressively, but it made sense, if you agreed with Democratic Party ideology, to regard the sex-and-lies scandal as secondary to the overall legislative agenda when deciding who should represent your district in Congress.

Obama is — or looks — passive. You've got the difficulty of attaching him to the scandals. You have to argue that he should have known more, or he must have known more than we're seeing, or he's not rigorous enough in supervising his multitudinous underlings, or he's responsible for the "climate" within which everyone understands the sorts of things they ought to do to satisfy their superiors. Voters need to be convinced to blame Obama for the things that have gone wrong. But what has gone wrong is something that is wrong with governing.

In both cases — Clinton and Obama — there's room for the argument that we need stronger supervision from Congress. But going after Clinton over sex and lying was only loosely connected to the ongoing work of government. With Obama, the most central work of government has been compromised. It's not just a matter of letting the President off the hook and moving forward to deal with the real problems that affect Americans. Regardless of how directly Obama is implicated and how much any given voter wants to blame Obama, the scandals make a strong argument for opposite-party control of Congress.

That's all I'm going to write this morning about how 2014 is different from 1998 other than to say I have not made the argument that Republicans would do well to personalize the election.

"14 Photographs That Shatter Your Image of Famous People."

Actually, a couple of these confirm my image. What dictator doesn't have his "I'm a child at heart" photos? In fact, as I look back through this photo set, every single picture seems to reinforce the image I already had.

ADDED: Link changed to Cracked, where this piece originally appeared.

"[I]n a hypothetical state with no guns and no religion, we’d expect a suicide rate of 17 (per 100,000)..."

"In a state where everyone had guns, and no one practiced religion, we’d expect a suicide rate of 39. If everyone were religious, but no guns: 11. Everyone religious, everyone owns a gun: 21. From a political perspective, there’s really something for both the left and right to like here."

May 30, 2013

207 years ago today, Andrew Jackson — the future President — committed "a brutal, cold-blooded killing."

I've read a few descriptions of this incident, and this one is especially interesting:
By May 1806, Charles Dickinson had published an attack on Jackson in the local newspaper, and it resulted in a written challenge from Jackson to a duel. Since Dickinson was considered an expert shot, Jackson determined it would be best to let Dickinson turn and fire first, hoping that his aim might be spoiled in his quickness; Jackson would wait and take careful aim at Dickinson. Dickinson did fire first, hitting Jackson in the chest. Under the rules of dueling, Dickinson had to remain still as Jackson took aim and shot and killed him. However, the bullet that struck Jackson was so close to his heart that it could never be safely removed. Jackson's behavior in the in the dual outraged men of honor in Tennessee, who called it a brutal, cold-blooded killing and saddled Jackson with a reputation as a fearful, violent, vengeful man. He became a social outcast.
More here:
Though acceptable by the code of the times, many people considered it a cold-blooded killing. I presume the rules of engagement were for each man to draw and fire at the same time, upon hearing the signal, but if one fired, there was no "second round" until the other man fired. The implication is that magnanimity would have required Jackson to fire into the air rather than taking a slow deliberate aim at 24 feet.

"I feel like a complete oddity, but I am a male who hates sex."

"I feel dirty and gross during and after the process. When I’m with a partner I do my best to help satisfy their needs and desires, but I almost always have to rush to the shower afterward. Some times I simply can't even be touched without jerking away and having a panic attack. But I do love going on dates, making dinner together, snuggling while watching movies."

A question for Emily Yoffe.

In a similar vein: "The married couples who NEVER have sex but insist they're happy: Are they deluded - or just honest?"

At the Peony Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"American voters say 76 - 17 percent, including 63 - 30 percent among Democrats, that a special prosecutor should be appointed..."

"... to investigate charges the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today."

"As Anger at Eric Holder Grows, So Does His Value as Obama’s Lightning Rod."

"Holder is the latest in a long line of attorneys general who do the boss’s dirty work and absorb anger that would otherwise reach the president, writes Nick Gillespie."

Via Instapundit (where there are additional links on this topic).

Wisconsin appellate court upholds voter ID law, reversing the decision of a Dane County judge.

"We express no opinion as to whether such an argument might have merit if supported by fact finding regarding the burdens imposed," Judge Brian Blanchard wrote. "However, in this facial challenge in which the League does not rely on any fact finding or evidentiary material, the implied argument falls short."
The court also ruled that plaintiffs had not shown that the requirement presents an "additional qualification" for voting -- which they had argued violated Article III of the state's constitution -- and that the Legislature had not exceeded its authority by passing the law, saying it has "implicit but broad constitutional authority to establish a voting registration system."
ADDED: Here's what I said about the state constitutional law argument at the time of the trial level decision (boldface added):
[This argument] is nothing like the arguments against voter ID laws based on the U.S. Constitution that you may be familiar with. It's about the "Suffrage" section of the state constitution that declares a big group of residents to be qualified electors, then gives the legislature the power to pare away from that group (in 2 specific categories, convicted felons and incompetent persons). To agree with the judge, I think you need to see a person without an ID as a type of person who is being excluded from the right to vote (and not within one of those 2 categories, so not within the legislature's power to exclude)....

I don't think a person without an ID is being disqualified from voting the way, say, convicted felons are disqualified.

There's just a step in the process that hasn't been completed. To say not presenting an ID is excluding you from the category of people permitted to vote seems like saying people who don't go to the polls when the polls are open are being excluded. It would be strange to say closing the polls at 8 is creating a new category of disqualified voters — those people who do not arrive before 8.
AND: From today's opinion (boldface added):
We are not persuaded that the photo identification requirement here is, on its face, more like a categorical bar to certain classes of potential voters, held to be a “qualification” under Knowlton, than it is like a number of voting procedures, including registration requirements, which indisputably would pass muster under Knowlton or any other authority the League cites.

The League argues that Knowlton stands for a test “that looks to the law’s effect of disqualifying a qualified elector.”  However, under the League’s proposed test, at least as stated, virtually any requirement placed on voters would be an unconstitutional and impermissible additional “qualification,” again contrary to the League’s concessions stated elsewhere in its briefing.  For example, under the League’s proposed test the requirement that voters must be in line at the polling place by 8:00 p.m. on election day would be unconstitutional because it has the effect of “disqualifying,” in the League’s terms, any person, no matter how qualified and registered to vote, who arrives at 8:01 p.m.  See Wis. Stat. § 6.78 (regulating poll hours).  As the state officials argue, any such argument was foreclosed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court long ago under the authority cited above.  For these same reasons, we disagree that the circuit court in this case correctly articulated any constitutional rule that supports its conclusion, on this record, that the photo identification requirement is a “qualification” that “masquerade[s]” as “an election regulation requirement.” 

"Chemists Grew Microscopic Crystal Flowers on a Razor Blade."


(Via Metafilter.)

"The four spellers before you receive 'quandary,' 'ethanol,' 'brigadier' and 'chary.'"

"Then you're asked to spell ahn-uh-MASS-tuh-kon, 'a collection or listing of words especially in a specialized field.' Yeah, life's not fair sometimes."

Drudge makes the old "our women are prettier" argument...

... in juxtaposed pictures:

The notion that conservative women are prettier than liberal women is a popular meme with conservatives. In case you've never noticed that and don't believe me, read "Hot or Not: Why Conservative Women Are 'Prettier' Than Liberal Ladies." Excerpt, examining the etiology:
American conservatism is profoundly tied up with the old-fashioned gender paradigm in which husbands are active providers and women are passive nurturers. In that paradigm, a woman's job—the core of her femininity—is to make herself as pretty as possible and then sit back and wait to be picked. That is a deeply conservative idea. You could argue that the conservative path is much friendlier to conventionally attractive women than it is to those with less "mainstream" looks....

And beyond that, the fact that it's something of a conservative mandate to be "pretty" encourages conservative women—no matter what physical hand they're dealt—to make signaling "pretty" a top priority....

And, on the flipside, I can imagine that liberalism actively attracts people who are shut out of that old-timey paradigm, because once you find yourself outside of it, it's easier to call bullshit on the whole thing....
Feel free to call bullshit on any of that. Here's a photograph that might help you think about it:

El Salvador's highest court rejects abortion for woman with lupus whose fetus is anencephalic.

"[I]n a 4-to-1 ruling, the court cited the country’s legal 'absolute impediment to authorize the practice of abortion,' and ruled that 'the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those' of the fetus."
The court recognized that Beatriz has lupus, but it said that her disease was currently under control and that the threat to her life “is not actual or imminent, but rather eventual.” It ordered that her health continue to be closely monitored, saying that if complications arose that put her right to life in imminent danger doctors “could proceed with interventions.”

While abortion is banned, doctors are allowed to induce premature birth if the mother is facing imminent risk, possibly saving the life of the mother and the baby at the same time, according to José Miguel Fortín Magaña, director of the Institute of Legal Medicine, which advises the court on medical issues.

In the ruling, the court cited doctors as saying that “an eventual interruption of the pregnancy would not imply, much less have as an objective, the destruction of the fetus.”

Beatriz’s lawyer, however, described the ruling as “misogynistic” because it placed the rights of a fetus with little chance of surviving after birth over the welfare of a sick woman who already has an infant boy to care for. “The court placed the life of the anencephalic baby over Beatriz’s life,” said Víctor Hugo Mata, one of her lawyers, speaking by phone from the Supreme Court. “Justice here does not respect the rights of women.”
We could discuss whether the court in El Salvador is "misogynistic," but I would like to direct discussion toward how we — especially Americans — think about access to late-term abortion. Let's say Woman A has a health problem (like lupus) that makes pregnancy risky, but she chooses to go forward with the pregnancy, because she wants a child. Later, past the point of viability, a serious birth defect becomes apparent, and she assesses the risk differently. She wants to abort because of a combination of the health risk and the low value she puts on the specific unborn child she knows she is carrying. Woman B has no health problem, but she finds out, equally late in a pregnancy, that her child has the same birth defect. There are 3 moral positions available: 1. Neither woman should be permitted to have an abortion, 2. Both women should be permitted to have an abortion, and 3. Woman A must be permitted to have an abortion, but Woman B must be forbidden.

I think position #3 is hard to understand and suspect that those who are arguing for position #3 are setting up the argument for position #2. It seems that the supposed appeal of Beatriz's case is that her baby is relatively worthless, but if we are willing to mark some severely disabled human beings as low value, why shouldn't any woman be able to avoid the pains of late pregnancy and childbirth? That is, we move toward position #2. But if you commit to the right to life and say — like the right-to-life spokesperson at the link — that you must protect "all human beings however small, poor, vulnerable or defenseless," don't you have to go to position #1, at least until the point where the medical procedure to be performed is for the precise end of saving the woman's life and not aimed at destroying the child?

UPDATE: Following the court's opinion, doctors performed a Caesarean section, and the baby lived for 5 hours and died. That is, the child's personhood was respected, the woman's health needs were met, and the abortion-rights demagoguery became more obvious.

Vatican walks back Pope on atheists?

"Just one day after the pope's now famous words in Rome on May 22, a Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica released a statement...."
"All salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body," Rosica wrote. "Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her."
Here's what the Pope had said:
"If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter," Francis said. "We must meet one another doing good. 'But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good: we will meet one another there."

3 Pinocchios to John Kerry for asserting that the U.S. is "below the Kyoto levels" on emissions.

WaPo's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler finds "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions." But look at what the problem is:
While Kerry noted in his comments that more needs to be done on climate change, his inaccurate recounting of U.S. performance on the Kyoto emissions targets leaves the wrong impression. Low natural gas prices and the economic downtown — not specific policies — have been the prime factors in the emissions reductions, especially for carbon dioxide.
There were supposed to be specific policies clamping down on the offenders, not a big recession that the government was (supposedly) trying to avoid/reverse.

Isn't it sad that in all of our suffering through economic malaise, we failed to rejoice and soothe ourselves with the knowledge that we were restricting the production of greenhouse gases? That was not the kind of suffering that the environmentalists had hoped for, and to proclaim the recession a good thing would not have played well in the political arena.

But how different would the environmentalists' specific policies have been? If we'd voluntarily submitted to specific policies, we could have prided ourselves in our virtue. To have inadvertently reached the same result doesn't feel the same.

But the climate change problem isn't about our virtue and our feelings. Is it?

Robot knows what you are about to do.

Serves you better.

May 29, 2013

"Gut-check time for the press: If they’re truly offended by the DOJ’s secret snooping on James Rosen and the AP..."

"... they won’t agree to attend Holder’s gladhanding session unless/until he agrees to make it on the record, right?" 
How many off-the-record, on-the-QT, and very-hush-hush meetings have Obama or his lieutenants scheduled with favored members of the media lately? There was the one with the White House press corps on May 10 to talk about the IRS scandal that began as off-the-record but ended up as “deep background” after people started murmuring about it on Twitter. There was the instantly-infamous one on May 21 in which online Obama-water-carrying glitterati were called in for a consultation on Scandalmania. There was another one last Thursday with foreign-policy reporters after O’s big speech in which he tried to B.S. them about his drone policy having changed when, evidently, it really hadn’t. And now here’s Holder, willing to talk to the press about how sorry-ish he is for rifling through their phone records and e-mails in pursuit of leakers but not willing to do it in a forum where anyone outside the room will know what he said....

"One of the reasons I love living in New York is that no one gives a shit about celebrities."

"Susan Sarandon comes to your deli, Lou Reed's in your kickboxing class, David Mamet flips you off, whatever, most New Yorkers really don't care."

A stray line from an article that's basically about "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)."

Personally, I don't care about celebrities, but somehow I care that Lou Reed is kickboxing.

"Buddhist Mobs Burn Mosque and Muslim School in Myanmar."

"... a sign that radical strains of Buddhism may be spreading to a wider area of the country."

At the Horse Chestnut Café...


... you can trot out your crazy ideas.

"But, at the same time, there's a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, 'Well, if this is God's plan, it's very peculiar'..."

"... and you have to wonder about that guy's personality — the big guy's personality. And the thing is — I may have told you last time that I believe in God — what I'm saying now is I choose to believe in God, but I have serious doubts and I refuse to be pinned down to something that I said 10 or 12 years ago. I'm totally inconsistent."

Stephen King, elaborating on his choice to believe in God.

Bachmann gives up.


ADDED: "Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) just handed a gift to the House Republicans’ campaign organization."

"Mother of the Chinese baby flushed down the toilet says she was abandoned by the boy's father..."

"... after their one night stand and could not afford an abortion."

This case is getting a lot of attention because of the vivid details seen in photographs, but realize that it's the seen part of something much larger and mostly unseen:
There are frequent reports in Chinese media of babies being abandoned often shortly after birth, a problem attributed variously to young mothers unaware they were pregnant, the birth of an unwanted girl in a society which puts greater value on boys or China’s strict family planning rules.

"Enough said!"

Not since "Snakes on a Plane" has there been such a perfect movie concept.

Via Throwing Things.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the performance of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" that caused a riot.

Or so the story goes.
The Rite and the riot become entangled in memory making this event, as he puts it, "some kind of gate to modernism, to the 20th Century."
He = Esteban Buch, director of studies at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Science in Paris.
There had been some noise two weeks earlier at the premiere of Debussy's ballet, Jeux, and critics had heaped abuse on Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography. Now Nijinsky had choreographed the Rite of Spring - rumoured to be the last word in Russian primitivism or modernist chic, depending who you believed. So part of the audience may well have been predisposed to be outraged.

"There was an existing tremor in the air against Nijinsky before any curtain went up," says Stephen Walsh, professor of music at Cardiff University. Others say the trouble began with the start of the overture and its strangled bassoon melody, and other strange sounds never before conjured from an orchestra.

Igor Stravinsky, for his part, said the storm only really broke after the overture, "when the curtain opened on the group of knock-kneed and long-braided Lolitas jumping up and down".
Picture yourself, 100 years ago, losing your composure over this:

"The U.S. needs a leader, not a law professor."

Says the Washington Post in line 2 of a front-page teaser. The first line is: "Barack Obama, Agonizer in Chief" — which implicates a stereotype about law professors.  

(Do we agonize? Maybe the law school class is some sort of theater of agonizing over whatever it is we're talking about as we do what we can't do — or we'd be lying/putting ourselves out of work — just tell the students what the answer is.)

But when I click on the link I get to this Ruth Marcus column which begins: "No doubt: Barack Obama has what it takes to be a terrific law student. It’s less clear those are the ingredients of a successful president." So... not even a law professor. A law student. I guess the WaPo couldn't bring itself to tease us with "The U.S. needs a leader, not a law student."

Marcus tells us that a "terrific law student" analyzes everything "in a dispassionate, balanced way" without necessarily really taking much of a position, which is what, she says, Obama did in his speech last week at the National Defense University. "Barack Obama... the Agonizer" is at least way better than "George W. Bush... the Decider," because Obama must be better than Bush, because Bush was terrible. Bush was so not terrific. Bush, Marcus tells us, "decided too precipitously and agonized too little." But Obama is just too thoughtful.

Marcus compares Obama's speech to "scribbling exam answers in a blue book." She calls him "ever the A-plus student," even as she looks ready to give him a C- as he calls Guantanamo "this legacy problem" that ought to be "resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law."
This answer doesn’t even pass the law student test. How, exactly? That the solution is elusive does not justify this blatant dodge.
The lawprof in me wants to say that if Obama's speech is the text to be understood, Marcus is the one who's not a terrific student. Her writing rests on the presumption that the words of his speech are the same words that run through his head as he thinks about the various problems and the words that he speaks in private. I say "her writing" because I'm not deluded enough to think that the words in the Washington Post are the words inside Marcus's head. She's arguing to him and his advisers that he needs to do something different and he's not getting away with the seemingly dispassionate, balanced analysis. She'd like to manipulate his mind.

And Obama, in his speech, was attempting to manipulate our minds. The performance in the Theater of Agonizing is for a purpose. We can try to discern his purpose — perhaps to get us to trust in his caretaking and to be patient while he continues to do the things that need to be done and not to look too closely at the incoherencies and possible illegalities. This is what leaders do.

Scrutinizing the logic of Obama's to-do list.

Email, received just now, from Obama with the subject line "My to-do list."
Ann --

I keep a to-do list in my desk.

It's ambitious, but you and I didn't set out to do easy things.

As long as I can count on you to be a part of this, we will find a way to make progress on all of it -- continuing to create good-paying jobs, fixing our broken immigration system, finding a common-sense way to reduce gun violence in this country, and more.

No president can do it alone.

Say you're in:


There's a lot of work to do -- thanks for doing your part.

So... as long as you can count on me to be a part of this, we — not just you — fill find a way to make progress on all of it. I'm contemplating the consequences of my noncontribution. Sounds like he'll still make progress on some of it. If I do contribute, he — or, that is, we — will make progress on all of it. Yet still, it will only be progress, not actual goal achievement. He's cagey about what he's promising in there with his guilt-tripping.

Also, in case you didn't get enough of this topic a month ago: He said "good-paying jobs."

ADDED: That email makes me want to quote Bob Dylan:
Half of the people can be part right all of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time
But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that

"Kudos to @JCPenney for the right tone in response. #SocialMediaDoneRight."

It's good to know that JC Penney didn't intend to make the teapot look like Hitler. And it's cute to say "If we'd designed the kettle to look like something, we would've gone w/a snowman :)" and include this essence-of-cute pic:

But I've got to step on the cuteness and say: That's not a tea kettle. That's a teapot.

Don't let the old song confuse you.

"The conversations I had participated in for decades have now gone in another direction (indeed, in several other directions)..."

"... and I have neither the time nor, if truth be told, the intellectual energy required to catch up. Farewell to all that," said Stanley Fish, on selling his collection of books in preparation from his move from a house to a smaller apartment.
In the hours and days following the exodus of the books I monitored myself for a post-mortem (please excuse the hyperbole) reaction. Would I feel regret? Nostalgia? Panic? Relief? I felt nothing. What should have been a momentous event barely registered as I moved on to what seemed the more important task of choosing a new carpet. I was reminded of what a colleague who had left a university after 23 years replied when I asked him if it was difficult to do. He said, “It was like checking out of a motel.”

"Harvard Dean Steps Down Following Secret Searches of E-Mail Accounts."

"Evelynn M. Hammonds, dean of Harvard College, the university's main undergraduate division,... found herself at the center of a scandal-within-a-scandal after trying to plug a leak in a university inquiry into a cheating debacle that prompted dozens of undergraduates to withdraw from the college."
Ms. Hammonds and Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, last fall authorized searches of the e-mail accounts of 16 resident deans without informing them first.

The resident deans, faculty members who reside in undergraduate housing and oversee the students who also live there, sit on a committee charged with investigating the cheating scandal. Ms. Hammond and Mr. Smith suspected that one resident dean had leaked confidential information about the investigation to the news media, according to The Boston Globe.

Those suspicions turned out to be correct....

May 28, 2013

At the Dogwood Café...


... all is not lost.

Kids with peanut allergies now want $20,000 allergy service dogs to accompany them everywhere.

Allergy Alert dogs are "capable of sniffing out a single peanut in a pile of leaves."

Too much gay sex?

1. Steven Soderbergh is asserting that all the movie studios turned down his Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" (now playing on HBO) because it was "too gay." This is a story of a wealthy 58-year-old entertainer going after an 18-year-old guy and it includes explicit scenes depicting anal intercourse — 2 elements that major studios might reject even in heterosexual love stories, but crying homophobia may work to lure in the very viewers who would be repelled by old+young and anal sex in a heterosexual love story.

2. Meanwhile, at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palme D'Or went to "Blue Is the Warmest Color," which has "intensely erotic, incredibly realistic, quite lengthy, and almost certainly unsimulated sex scenes" with 2 women:
I clocked the first sex scene between Adèle and Emma — replete with fingering, licking, and, as a friend called it, "impressive scissoring" — at an approximate ten minutes. Audience walkouts began around minute nine. That turned into spontaneous applause (and relieved laughter), when the women climaxed and finished a minute later. Was that scene, and the many other graphic, erotic moments to follow, "necessary to tell the story?" Film.com's Jordan Hoffman asked in his review. "Please believe the part of my brain that doesn’t house a lecherous voyeur when I say yes, absolutely."
What's going on?

ADDED: The more a movie approaches pornography, the more viewers are justified in deciding what they want to watch based on their own sexual proclivities.

AND: There's a point — and it may be different for different viewers — where a movie becomes pornography. At that point, you might walk out, as some people did at "Blue Is the Warmest Color." But let's say you like watching pornography. Still, you might prefer to watch it at home and in private. And you might get impatient with the excessive dramatic scenes around the sexually explicit parts. In "Blue Is the Warmest Color," I see that "[t]heir relationship falls apart because of subtle differences in social class and ambition." Well, that sounds awfully tedious by porn standards! And if it's porn, of course, you get to reject the actors — like Michael Douglas as Liberace — whose bodies are not sexually stimulating to you. That's not anti-gay. That's your own sexual preference, which you are entitled to.

IN THE COMMENTS: Misinforminimalism says it's "worth noting":
1. The protagonist is 15.
2. This is based on a graphic novel (i.e., a comic) that was far less graphic than the movie. Tells you something about the director.
3. The movie's 183 minutes long, so perhaps the ten minute sex scene leaves nearly 3 hours to develop the plot so it's all ok?
4. Did I mention the protagonist is 15? 
I had not noticed the age in this movie. As I said up there at #1, accusations of homophobia may be used to pressure us not to numb ourselves to something that we would otherwise object to.

"Kettle that looks like Hitler brews trouble for JCPenney."

It's even doing the Hilter salute!

Just another rainy Tuesday.


"I Love ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ And You Should, Too."

Okay, I tried to watch this show as a result of that article, but I couldn't put up with 10 minutes of it. Like a typical network comedy, the lines were delivered with a big nudge, followed by overdone audience laughter. The characters — we're told over and over — are supposed to be super-intelligent, but we are not credited with enough intelligence to discern the presence of a joke, even when it's in TV-script gag format. It's not that I feel personally insulted, just that everything feels bogged down, boring, and stupid.

Question asked at the link: "Why can Penny-the-waitress afford her own apartment, while physicists Sheldon and Leonard have to share? Why doesn’t fancy engineer Howard, with a bigshot JPL job, have any money?" I can answer that: Sheldon and Leonard have done the math, looking at all the factors, planning for future contingencies, including retirement. Penny spends down to her last penny (and beyond).

ADDED: The link goes to Instapundit, but the underlying article is in the NYT. I'm surprised that the NYT allowed this usage (boldface added): "In his dervishy nerdiness, he seemed to evoke any number of classic TV neurotics or fussbudgets: Paul Lynde, Tony Randall, Pee-wee Herman."

The (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary has only one meaning for "dervish": "A Muslim friar, who has taken vows of poverty and austere life. Of these there are various orders, some of whom are known from their fantastic practices as dancing or whirling, and as howling dervishes."

File under: Althouse, more politically correct than the NYT.

AND: I'm contemplating the possible conflation of dervishy with derpy

"The unusual order makes Myanmar perhaps the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group..."

"The local authorities in the western state of Rakhine in Myanmar have imposed a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya families, a policy that does not apply to Buddhists in the area and comes amid accusations of ethnic cleansing during earlier sectarian violence."
It was unclear how the local government would enforce the rule, and the announcement could be as much about playing to the country’s Buddhist majority as about actual policy....

A spokesman for Rakhine State, Win Myaing, said the new program was meant to stem rapid population growth in the Muslim community, which a government-appointed commission identified as one of the causes of the sectarian violence.

Although Muslims are the majority in the two townships in which the new policy applies, they account for only about 4 percent of Myanmar’s roughly 60 million people....

"McCain slips into Syria to meet with rebel leaders."

"The White House declined to comment on the GOP senator's visit."

I assume McCain coordinated with the White House. Is there any reason to think he did not?

The live-blog of new Supreme Court opinions.

Going on now at SCOTUSblog.

UPDATE: "Time to roll out the hashtag that one of our readers suggested: #waiting for fisher." Fisher is the affirmative action case we've been waiting for since last fall. There were 2 new cases today, both dealing with procedural matters relating to raising constitutional challenges to criminal convictions.

Predicting the 2016 candidates: Rahm Emanuel vs. Rand Paul.

That's Meade's prediction. I'm delighted by that prospect, because I'd like to see these 2 highly verbal guys tearing into the issues.

I see that back in March, Ann Coulter said Rand Paul could not be the GOP candidate because "You can't run a short candidate," which may or may not be true, but both Rahm and Rand are short(ish). Rahm is 5'7" and Rand is 5'8". I don't think that's actually short, but there is a tendency among male politicians to be tall. We could speculate about the personality traits that are linked with male tallness/shortness and what that entails in their politics.

Wikipedia has a nice article on "Human Height," which includes a chart of the average heights in all the different countries. For the United States, the average height for men is 5'9.5" (5'10" if you restrict it to men in their 20s, and 5'10.5" if you restrict it to white men 20-30).

I see that the average height for females is 5'4", which makes me taller than average, even though I have had people refer to me as "short," to which I've always responded "Actually, I'm exactly average." I will change that to "Actually, I'm taller than average." (I'm 5'5".)

Now, Ann Coulter is 6 feet tall, so we might speculate about the personality traits of very tall women and the politics that ensue, but I'll just say perhaps contempt toward less tall men seems likely.

Studying college-age females and their "fat talk" (in which 93% of them indulge).

"Alexandra F. Corning, a research associate professor in psychology at the University of Notre Dame... showed 139 undergraduates photos of two thin and two overweight women, each making either a positive or negative remark about her body."

Before reading on, answer this: Which woman do you think was considered most likable?

Dr. Corning professed to be surprised by her result, but I'm not surprised at all.
The most likable woman chosen by the students was overweight and quoted as saying: “I know I’m not perfect, but I love the way I look. I know how to work with what I’ve got, and that’s all that matters.”...

But, she acknowledged, her experiment had limitations. “Are the students really liking these women the most? Or are they saying it because they think they should?” said Dr. Corning. “They might like them more, but would they really want to hang out with them?”
Fat talk is — we're told — "airless and scripted." One person exclaims about her fat and the other responds with an equivalent exclamation about her fat. So it's really small talk, social etiquette like "How are you?"/"Fine. How are you?" But Corning portrays the interchange as a problem to be solved — a "hungry cry for affirmation," met with a "toxic" reciprocation.
Dr. Corning said that to break the cycle, a person shouldn’t engage. But particularly for younger women, it’s hard to say something like, “Hey, no negative self-talk!” or “Why do we put ourselves down?”
I suspect there's a positive side to the "negative self-talk" that's hard for older folks to hear. For one thing, in the script, the second speaker is declining to lie or to reinforce the first female's negative opinion of herself. Instead, she shifts the focus to herself, but in the friendly way of offering company: I'm fat too.

Corning seems to be about examining the presumed problem of low self-esteem among females, so she doesn't consider — as far as I can tell from this article — whether what's really going on with this "fat talk" is a kind of mutual comforting and camaraderie in the denial of what is a health problem. Ironically, the psychologist is joining in this activity with her self-esteem talk.

(Note: The linked article — "'Fat Talk' Compels but Carries a Cost" — is by Jan Hoffman, who wrote my all-time favorite NYT article.)

Affirmative action is not what it used to be.

The NYT reports.

Uncomfortable paragraph on page 2:
A black associate at one Houston firm, who requested anonymity so as not to jeopardize his chances of making partner, used a familiar legal term to describe his unease at work, saying he sometimes felt there was a “rebuttable presumption” that he was there to fill a quota and was not as qualified as white colleagues.

"Now, you might say, 'Well, turtles are dangerous' — but why do you have to have two codes?"

"Your doctor has to inform the government whether you've been struck by a turtle or bitten by a turtle."

Canadians complaint that their new plastic $100 bills smell like maple syrup.


Maybe the inconvenient truth is that maple syrup smells like plastic.

May 27, 2013

"Hitching a Ride With Larry David."

By Paul Samuel Dolman. Excerpt:
P.D.: What brings you the most satisfaction?
L.D.: That’s a tough one … I guess it’s when I discover a really great idea and start developing it.
P.D.: That’s number one?
L.D.: And making a woman laugh. What is that about? And the prettier the woman, the more satisfaction I get. It doesn’t make any sense, but I’m being honest.

Backyard carnage.

Meade saw a hawk swoop by with a furry creature in its claws. We were afraid it was Blondie (our favorite squirrel). Meade leaned out the upstairs window for quite a while capturing the carnage. I edited it down to 28 seconds. Something happens at 20 that made me laugh. And, relax, it's not Blondie. It's one of our many chipmunks, none of which have names.

I asked Meade to name the chipmunk and he said "Mick McChipmunk." He named the hawk "Dick Cheney."

Memorial Day, 2013.




Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin.

"Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Chastain among the front-runners to play Hillary Clinton in 'Rodham.'"

"Rodham - about the younger years of the former First Lady and senator..."

"Rodham"... based on a true story. That reminds me: When I was a kid, I thought "Rodan" was based on a true story. Here's the 1957 trailer. I was 6 years old and could not discern the difference between that and the news:

"Nothing escapes this monstrous beast of evil."

"The Lose the Lads' Mags campaign by UK Feminista and Object is calling on high-street retailers to immediately withdraw lads' mags..."

"... and papers featuring pornographic front covers from their stores. Each one of these stores is a workplace. Displaying these publications in workplaces, and/or requiring staff to handle them in the course of their jobs, may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Similarly, exposing customers to these publications in the process of displaying them is capable of giving rise to breaches of the Equality Act."

More here:
"For too long supermarkets have got off the hook, stocking lads' mags in the face of widespread opposition, but this time we have the law on our side," said Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista. "Every shop that sells lads' mags – publications which are deeply harmful to women – are opening themselves up to legal action."...

"One woman said to us: 'Those magazines don't do women any favours, they are appalling and demeaning to women, but what can little old me do about it?' Well, employees need to know they don't need to put up with it any more."

There is only 1 man in the world who was born in the 19th century.

There was one other man, but he died last Thursday. There are also 21 women, and that's counting women born in the year 1900. 

The last man from the 19th century, Jiroemon Kimura, is also the oldest person alive today. I hate to tell you, but he's only 116, so if you're clinging to the notion that human beings can make it to 120, the evidence in support of that belief is awfully weak.
Mr Kimura retired in 1962 aged 65, after working for 45 years in the Japanese post office. He now lives in Kyō¯tango, Kyoto Prefecture, with his eldest son's widow, 83, and his grandson's widow, 59, and attributes his long life to eating small portions of food, and admits to spending most of his time ''in bed.''
ADDED: "How long do you want to live?"
Over the past three years I have posed this query to nearly 30,000 people at the start of talks and lectures on future trends in bioscience, taking an informal poll as a show of hands. To make it easier to tabulate responses I provided four possible answers: 80 years, currently the average life span in the West; 120 years, close to the maximum anyone has lived; 150 years, which would require a biotech breakthrough; and forever, which rejects the idea that life span has to have any limit at all....

The results: some 60 percent opted for a life span of 80 years. Another 30 percent chose 120 years, and almost 10 percent chose 150 years. Less than 1 percent embraced the idea that people might avoid death altogether.
AND: Here's Wikipedia's "List of the verified oldest people." There's exactly one person who lived to be 120 (and died at 122). There's one more who made it to 119 and then 2 who made it to 117. That's it.

"The 25 Most Epic Cat Beards Of All Time."

"Cat bearding! It’s that thing where your cat is also your beard."

"When you’re in public, you’re in public. What happens in public, is the very definition of it."

"I don’t want you telling me that I can’t take pictures in public without your permission."

Jeff Jarvis, quoted in an article about the intrusions of Google Glass.
Mr. Jarvis said we’ve been through a similar ruckus about cameras in public before, in the 1890s when Kodak cameras started to appear in parks and on city streets.

The New York Times addressed people’s concerns at the time in an article in August 1899, about a group of camera users, the so-called Kodak fiends, who snapped pictures of women with their new cameras.

“About the cottage colony there is a decided rebellion against the promiscuous use of photographing machines,” The Times wrote from Newport, R.I. “Threats are being made against any one who continues to use cameras as freely.” In another article, a woman pulled a knife on a man who tried to take her picture, “demolishing” the camera before going on her way.
Interesting things about that old NYT article:

1.  The word "kodak" — with a lower-case k — is used repeatedly in place of the word "camera," and the word "camera" appears once, toward the end, and only after "photographing machines." Less attention was paid back then, it seems, to the interest in preserving the trademark in brand names. (The loss of "aspirin" and "heroin" as Bayer trademarks came after WWI.)

2. The word "fiends," used repeatedly, connotes evil and addiction. From the same time period, the OED quotes: "The autograph-fiend; the cyclist-fiend; the interviewer-fiend; the newsboy-fiend; the organ-fiend" (1896), "‘A dope fiend’... A victim of the opium habit" (1896).

3. The word "promiscuous" fits with the nature of the perceived harm: women are victims. The article refers to "married men" wanting to bring lawsuits against the photographers. One man is said to have consulted a lawyer about whether "an assault could be charged" if the photograph is taken "against the will." But how sexual is the word "promiscuous"? The etymology connected it to "mixed up," and the oldest meaning is, according to the OED: "Done or applied with no regard for method, order, etc.; random, indiscriminate, unsystematic." The OED has some great quotes for the specifically sexual meaning that seems so central to us today:
1804   S. T. Coleridge Coll. Lett. (1956) II. 1119   He is..addicted to almost promiscuous Intercourse with women of all Classes.
1879   Harlequin Prince Cherrytop 29   Better frig, howe'er the mind it shocks, Than from promiscuous fucking catch the pox....
1924   C. Connolly Let. Dec. in Romantic Friendship (1975) 32,   I am not promiscuous but I can't be loyal to an icicle....
1978   S. Herzel in P. Moore Man, Woman, & Priesthood viii. 119   It is precisely because men can compartmentalize that they are more easily promiscuous than women.

A national holy day.

"Scholars... often make the argument that the United States has a secular 'civil religion' — one with no association with any religious denomination or viewpoint — that has incorporated Memorial Day as a sacred event."
With the Civil War, a new theme of death, sacrifice and rebirth enters the civil religion. Memorial Day gave ritual expression to these themes, integrating the local community into a sense of nationalism. The American civil religion, in contrast to that of France, was never anticlerical or militantly secular; in contrast to Britain, it was not tied to a specific denomination, such as the Church of England. The Americans borrowed from different religious traditions so that the average American saw no conflict between the two, and deep levels of personal motivation were aligned with attaining national goals.

Memorial Day.


May 26, 2013

A prairie walk...

... in Governor Nelson State Park today... with all the euphorbia...


That's Meade... with trekking poles...


... trekking on into the woods...


... where the wild geraniums bloom....


What Bob Dole thinks of Barack Obama.

"He's a great... golfer. Very articulate, I think. As a president, he lacks communication skills with his own party, let alone the Republican Party.."

That was on "Fox News Sunday" today. I've repunctuated the quote to convey the humor that comes across in the audio.

"This White House is so politicized that when it comes to a sort of a controversy like this, what they want to do is to get out a good story instead of getting out the real story."

David Gergen on "Face the Nation" today. (I've added italics that I hear in the audio.) Context (with my boldfacing):

At the Lungwort Café...


... splatter your words.

"This is a fight between extremism and moderate Islam."

"It is easy to say that something is against Islam and get people upset, but there is no article in this law against Islam, and those who say so either have not read it or are just making propaganda."


The word "trunk" has come up — by chance — in 2 posts today.

1. "The plus-size 'bikini'": "Note that the caption refers to the bottoms as 'trunks,' a word that strikes me as way too masculine (perhaps because I associate it with elephant appendages)."

2. "'The Giving Tree' — 'Remember that book...": "In his childhood, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, climbing her trunk, swinging from her branches, and eating her apples. However, as time passes the tree becomes mean, jealous, and stingy...."

When things like that happen around here, it's de rigueur to consult the (unlinkable) Oxford English Dictionary. The first meaning, going back to 1490, is "The main part of something as distinguished from its appendages," which explains how we talk about trees.

"The Giving Tree" — "Remember that book - written in the early 60's by Satanist, Anton LaVey?"

"The story follows the lives of a female apple tree and a male human who are able to communicate with each other; the racist kingdomist tree addresses the human as 'Boy' his entire life. In his childhood, the boy enjoys playing with the tree, climbing her trunk, swinging from her branches, and eating her apples. However, as time passes the tree becomes mean, jealous, and stingy...."

ADDED: Reading that Meadepost, I made the association — for the first time — between the Xs on the eyes that signify death in the language of comics and the XX signifying the female in the world of chromosomes.

As they say on "Project Runway"...

... too much tootie.

The plus-size "bikini."

The "fatkini."

You can wear whatever you want, but what's being sold is not a bikini. I remember bathing suits like that from the days — 1950s and 60s — when few women wore bikinis. What I'm seeing at the link are what were traditionally called "2-piece bathing suits." The bottoms come up to the waist. It's hard to see why that looks prettier than a 1-piece. Is there something special about the section of skin between the bottom of one's bra and the waist? Is isolating the bra from the bottoms a good idea when the shape of the bottoms ends up being granny-panties?