June 22, 2013

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Zimmerman judge excludes testimony from voice experts.

The prosecution wanted witnesses who analyzed the background screaming on the 911 calls.

The low quality of these supposed experts was discussed here, last May. Quoting TalkLeft, who found this statement "laugh-out-loud funny":
[A]pproximately one second after the start of CALL3, Mr. Zimmerman makes a seemingly religious proclamation, "These shall be." His speech is characterized by the low pitch and exaggerated pitch contour reminiscent of an evangelical preacher or carnival barker....

He "will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity. … He is the Chosen One. He'll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations."

Can you identify the "he"? It's not Barack Obama. The statement was made by the man's father, quoted in an article printed in Slate in July 2000. I ran across that article, which is written by Bob Wright (whom I talk to from time to time on Bloggingheads), because I'd just done that post about the problem of shame, and I knew shame was one of Wright's big topics. (He's pro-shaming.)

"The idea that 'shame works' — that stigmatizing behaviors and shaming the people who do them are necessary and honorable tools of public policy..."

"... is a recurring theme in both conservative and more communitarian/paternalistic liberal rhetoric. It’s often based on personal experience, or home truths from one’s mom, and because people do sometimes say that shame worked for them I had a hard time articulating why I rejected this rhetoric so completely."

Writes Eve Tushnet, who figured out the answer from reading "Middlemarch."

What? You're ashamed never to have read "Middlemarch"? I'm not, because I have read it, not that I remember the part about shame.

An awful lot of people are calling Chelsea Clinton stupid for saying it's bad that her great-grandmother did not have access to family planning services.

At The Blaze: "Isn’t this basically like saying you’re sad to be alive today?"

Well, no, it is not. Otherwise, I'd have to be happy about Hitler, since my parents met in the Army in World War II.

We all owe our existence to countless murders and rapes that have occurred through the ages. When we say we are happy to be alive, we are inherently accepting the nonexistence of the completely different set of persons who would be alive today if the past did not contain its many horrors. We could never express sorrow over events in the past if we had to refrain from implicitly regretting everything that happened as a consequence of those events.

Talking about the past isn't like time travel fiction. Chelsea wasn't like Marty in "Back to the Future" (who needs to make sure that his parents, who aren't a loving couple in the present, really do get married, or he will never be born).

"FIRE Writes to Wisconsin Governor Urging Veto of Unconstitutional Budget Measure."

"On June 6, we reported on an addition to the Wisconsin State Legislature’s budget proposal that would forbid University of Wisconsin (UW) faculty from working with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism organization. FIRE then wrote a letter to Governor Scott Walker on June 13, expressing our concern with this provision and explaining its unconstitutional effects.... FIRE has written again today to Governor Walker strongly urging him to veto this modification to the budget in order to protect the academic freedom of UW faculty. We sincerely hope that he recognizes the serious ramifications of such a limit on UW faculty and that he does not allow this measure to go into effect."


(Note: the Wisconsin Governor can veto any part of a bill.)

Paula Deen's apology... why didn't it work?

I had guessed — when we first talked about Paula Deen, here — that Paula Deen would be okay. In the comments:
Rumpletweezer said...
I just hope she turns out to be a Democrat.

Ann Althouse said...
Paula Deen is a Democrat, so she'll probably be okay.
But Paula Deen was fired from the Food Network, even after making this apology:

That had elements of a sincere apology. None of the typical "I apologize to anyone who was offended." Why didn't it work? 4 ideas:

1. She opted out of "Today" show Matt Lauer interview, supposedly because she was in so much pain, but she admits that she caused pain, so she should have gone through the pain to expiate the pain caused. And, really, avoiding Lauer wasn't about pain, it was about the fear of probing questions.

2. The video isn't good enough. She's very poorly lit. There's distracting stuff in the background: a creepy painting, a roll of paper towels, a large display of makeup, wires on the floor. The first quarter of the video presents excuses for not going on the "Today" show that sound untrue. She was "physically unable" to go on the show? She wrecks her own credibility at the outset. She moves on to "the pain that I have caused to myself" pause "and to others." She put herself first there. That's revealing.

3. The Food Network had its polls and its ratings. These are cold, grim economic calculations. Perhaps the time for Paula Deen has ended. I see she'd just come out with a new commercial product called "Finishing Butters," which sounds like the title of a "South Park" episode. The whole Paula Deen thing seems based on a joke. The joke is over.

4. Racism is the unforgivable sin in America. Once it's stuck to you, you can't pull it off. Everyone else must act quickly to keep any of you getting stuck to them.

What do you think? All of the above?

June 21, 2013

"Gandolfini’s death prompts rampant fat-shaming."

Says Salon, displaying lots of tweets. I question whether that stuff ought to be called "shaming." What I'm seeing looks more like This should be a wake-up call to anyone who's fat.

[Fill in the blank]-shaming is a meme, and it includes defining shame downward. I get that. But let's think about whether we want "shaming" to be a commodious category or a narrow one. I'm inclined to recommend narrow, but I'm highly influenced by the time I spent at the Wisconsin protests, amongst angry people chanting "Shame, shame, shame."

In this "fat-shaming" example, we might say the death of a respected actor ought to be an occasion to praise him, and not to offer up ideas about what he might have done to avert his fate. But I don't hear shaming in that. I hear this wish to avoid death: If only he'd lost weight, he might not have died. And: Fat people need to lose weight, or they might die too. That's more fear than shame.

The person who calls the response "shame"... what's his motivation? He might think "fat-shaming" is a funny, trendy way to refer to any statement about anyone being fat. But I think it's more like: Don't you dare talk about how anyone is fat, because fat people now have a way to bounce what we hear as an insult right back at you.

"Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden..."

"...  and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials. Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property...."

"You refer to the toupee you used to wear as 'the squirrel.' I gather from your memoir that when they made you take it off in prison, it was traumatic."

"Nah. After you get convicted and you’re doing four and a half years in jail, taking off a toupee is the least of your worries, especially in an all-male environment. In fact, I enjoy life without the squirrel. I get a haircut maybe once every couple of weeks, and that’s all I have to worry about."

"We made sure our son was not born only to suffer. He died in a warm and loving place, inside me."

"In having the abortion, we took a risk that my body would expel both fetuses, and that we would lose our daughter too. In fact, I asked if we could postpone the abortion until the third trimester, by which time my daughter would have been almost fully developed; my doctor pointed out that abortions after 24 weeks were illegal. Thankfully, Kaitlyn was born, healthy and beautiful, on March 2, 2011, and we love her to pieces. My little boy partially dissolved into me, and I like to think his soul is in his sister."

"When May the Government Require Groups to Endorse Certain Views in Order to Get Government Benefits?"

Eugene Volokh frames the question of what was at issue in the Supreme Court's opinion in Agency for Int’l Development v. Alliance for Open Society Int’l, Inc. and quotes his own brief which was — I would say; he doesn't assert so — influential:

The Human Nest.

That's what I've been calling this twig construction that Meade has shaped and reshaped for reasons I don't quite understand:


So I was blown away to see this article in the NYT: "Twigitecture: Building Human Nests."

Whoa! Human nests! I invented the human nest! Or Meade did. Or, hey, Meade, you need to make that human nest into a New York Times Human Nest!
Designed and built by Jayson Fann... the nest, which costs $110 a night, is always booked.

From New Age cocoons and backyard playthings of the rich to public installations made from the wood of hurricane-felled trees to contemporary art objects that you can buy along with your Richters and Oldenburgs, human nests are having a bit of a moment....

But it is not just the appeal of the handmade object — twig and daub as a rebuke to glass and steel...
Oh, here it comes. The anti-prefabbishness snobbishness.

Twigs are twee.

"Why Are Guys Afraid to Wear Speedos?"

"American men need to get over their Freudian fear of showing off their junk."

The title and subtitle to a Slate article about men's bathing suits.

Random sentence: "My interest is not entirely sordid. My primary motivation is, in fact, safety."

North West.

They really did name the baby North West. (I like it.)

"We live in an age of what William James called 'medical materialism,' so instead of fretting about a fallen world..."

"...we speak of a poisoned one."
In a modern version of original sin, the corruption of our environment is so thorough that it defies individual efforts to transcend it: “Even those making good lifestyle choices still shower with city water, eat meals at restaurants, and live, work, and shop in buildings that have been cleaned and fumigated with toxic chemicals,” writes [Alejandro Junger in "Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself"]. We might add to his list other features of daily life that we suspect may be dangerous but haven’t been banned by the authorities: cell-phone signals that may lead to brain cancer, endocrine disruptors that drive our hormones crazy, probably leading, again, to cancer. Distrustful of our surroundings, we try to close ourselves off to malign influences and to purge them. It is no accident that Clean dwells obsessively on defecation and elimination. Junger wants us to flush out shit, “toxic waste,” even mucus, which he says has “a dense and sticky quality; it resonates with and attracts dense, toxic thoughts and emotions.”
(Here's the relevant William James book, one of the great classics, including a free Kindle edition.)

ADDED: Having downloaded the free Kindle version of "Varieties of Religious Experience," I can give you the relevant text right here:

The snobbish rejection of pre-fabbishness.

We're finally getting around to putting wood flooring in the one room in this big house that hasn't had it, and we got into comparing pre-finished wood flooring and what I call — in my impoverished lingo — real floors. In the showroom, I had to suppress my urge to say things like "It doesn't look real" and "It looks like fake wood" and "You might as well have wood-patterned linoleum" more than... well, what do you think is decent? 20 times?

Back at Meadhouse, 12 hours later, we had a conversation about the prejudice against pre-fab things. We're not disrespecting pre-fab homes anymore. Some of the best-made, coolest houses are in this category. And no one sniffs at ready-to-wear clothing, because no one even knows anyone who wears couture. You might sew your own clothes and knit your own sweaters if you had some meditative, aesthetic relationship with fabric/yarn, but you still wouldn't think ill of the pre-made stuff in the stores. Some people might coo over handmade pottery, but it's more elevated aesthetically to value straightforward perfection that's mass produced and machine-made.

So, let's talk about packaged food — processed food. It's another category of prefab, and it's an area where rejection is on the upswing. The idea of cooking your own food and making everything from scratch — the finest, purest scratch — is pushed by opinion leaders. Should we be following Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan — or would a scoop of skepticism hit the spot? Here's a long — really long — article in The Atlantic with the somewhat distracting title "How Junk Food Can End Obesity."
Foodlike substances, the derisive term Pollan uses to describe processed foods, is now a solid part of the elite vernacular. Thousands of restaurants and grocery stores, most notably the Whole Foods chain, have thrived by answering the call to reject industrialized foods in favor of a return to natural, simple, nonindustrialized—let’s call them “wholesome”—foods....

The Pollanites seem confused about exactly what benefits their way of eating provides. All the railing about the fat, sugar, and salt engineered into industrial junk food might lead one to infer that wholesome food, having not been engineered, contains substantially less of them....

The fact is, there is simply no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy.... The results of all the scrutiny of processed food are hardly scary, although some groups and writers try to make them appear that way....

In many respects, the wholesome-food movement veers awfully close to religion.
When pre-fab things are good, opposition is superstition. That's not sophisticated. The better class of snobs is looking down on you.

ADDED: Meade, reading this post, getting to the excerpts from the really long article, observes that they are the equivalent of fast food. My blogging is processed journalism. Blogging is pre-fab.

ALSO: Here's the actual pre-fab flooring we ended up liking — specifically, the "stained white wash." We're still comparing that to "real floors" — hardwood that is installed and then finished.

"Outside the United States (and certainly outside the South), the tyranny of the smile is considerably weaker."

"In France, even women with the most naturally perky of faces seem to purposely cultivate BRF to enhance their je ne sais quoi."

"Mothers still didn't like to see it, of course, and many tried to stop it."

"But it wasn't something to be stamped out without pity. And expert opinion, instead of telling mothers that they should panic, now told them the opposite. 'It nearly drove me crazy to see him do it,' a mother at the time says, 'but my doctor told me to just let it pass, so I did.'"

Is the topic not obvious?


The Google doodle.

"Revealed: Bush ancestor was heavily invested in kidnapping Africans into slavery."

I assume this report is true and that the tainted blood of the Bush clan is interesting, but why is it being revealed now?

Because Obama's in trouble, and it's the next thing that could be pulled out of the country's miscellaneous bag o' distractions?

Because Jeb's in that lineage too, and he's in the running for next President, and he said something embarrassing recently, so it was a good time to kick him?

Because the George Zimmerman trial is getting underway, and that hasn't worked out as well as some in the race-baiting industry had hoped, and maybe some unrelated racial disturbance would resonate?

Because Paula Deen said something really stupid about slavery, so the editors at Slate looked around in their storehouse of as-yet-unpublished articles and found one that had slavery?

"Egypt appoints member of terror group that once massacred tourists to run tourism region."

WaPo article which I found because it was #6 on a Buzzfeed list of "100% Picture-Perfect Ironic Photos."

AND: As long as we're over here on Buzzfeed: "23 Pictures That Prove Society Is Doomed." (But it's not the terrorism.)

UPDATE: "Islamist governor of Egypt's Luxor quits after uproar."

June 20, 2013

The "Batman" theme song, by actual bats.

(Explained here.)

"The world has grown accustomed to a gentle image of Buddhism defined by the self-effacing words of the Dalai Lama..."

"... the global popularity of Buddhist-inspired meditation and postcard-perfect scenes from Southeast Asia and beyond of crimson-robed, barefoot monks receiving alms from villagers at dawn."
But over the past year, images of rampaging Burmese Buddhists carrying swords and the vituperative sermons of monks like Ashin Wirathu have underlined the rise of extreme Buddhism in Myanmar — and revealed a darker side of the country’s greater freedoms after decades of military rule. Buddhist lynch mobs have killed more than 200 Muslims and forced more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes.
Why was "the world" such a nitwit?

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"If any couple chooses to consummate their sexual cravings, then..."

"... that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations," said the judge.
“The wording in the judgment seems odd, but it’s a way of addressing the larger issue of rights of persons over one another when they are in such unions,” said Urvashi Butalia, a feminist writer and founder of Zubaan, a nonprofit publishing house.

“I think that the statement that couples who have sexual relations are to be considered married is a bit absurd,” she said. “It brings in a morality that should not be there.”...

[H]aving sex before marriage is still widely condemned in India. Last year, a Delhi High Court judge, as he imposed a jail sentence on a woman convicted of killing her live-in boyfriend, described such relations as a “fad” and an “infamous Western cultural product.”

"WikiLeaks says Michael Hastings contacted it just before his death."

"Are they implying he was murdered?"
Michael Hastings was a much admired freelance journalist who covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and helped to bring down General Stanley McChrystal. He was tragically killed this week in a car crash in Los Angeles, after his car hit a tree. Hastings is believed to have been alone in the vehicle.

At the Iris Café...


... because cf requested it, and we aim to please.

"This result is a good one if you like free speech, and fear that government funding can be used as a powerful tool to shape private speech (potentially thought, too)."

"But make no mistake about the context: Roberts and Alito are gearing up for a world where exemptions and protections from generally applicable laws will be sought primarily by conservative groups. The main framework will probably be religious liberty, which opponents of same-sex marriage have increasingly identified as the value under attack when government recognizes same-sex marriage and requires various organizations to do the same. But free exercise of religion is in the First Amendment, too. If he could be made to understand the new emerging politics of the First Amendment, Rehnquist’s anguished ghost might be appeased."

Writes Harvard lawprof Noah Feldman, about the Supreme Court's decision today in Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc. (which we've been talking about in some detail, here). Feldman's article, at Bloomberg.com, is titled "Roberts's Liberal Ruling Will Protect Conservatives."

Read the whole thing to understand the role of "Rehnquist’s anguished ghost."

Russia and The Stoned Fox.

"When British artist Adele Morse put her stuffed fox up for sale on eBay, she was surprised to get fan mail from Russia.... Unbeknown to Ms. Morse, her fox — sitting cross-legged, with a vacant stare on its face — had become an Internet sensation here...."

Article in the WSJ. Video:

How well do you understand the rules of baseball?

Take this test.

Canada's War of 1812 monument.

"Toronto artist Adrienne Alison, who has been chosen to design the monument, said Tuesday that the inclusion of a woman on the three-metre tall monument will likely be one of the changes that result from the final design process now underway with the government."
Alison’s original concept included seven figures — all male — representing militiamen, sailors, British soldiers, Métis, First Nations fighters and others, as required by the proposal guidelines....

The monument is expected to cap two years of federal government-sponsored commemorations of the War of 1812 that cost in the neighbourhood of $30 million. The federal government has termed the war a “seminal event” in the making of Canada but has sparked little excitement among Canadians.
It seems that we here in the United States paid close to zero attention to the 200-year anniversary of that war. By the way, who won? The Canadians — even though little excited — seem more stoked about this than we are, so that might suggest that they think they won more than we do.
"Had things gone differently in this conflict, Canada would not exist today, and the bottom line is we are still here."
Canadian triumphalism! Settle down, Canada.

On the subject memorializing women in war, from the last link, here's U.S. heroine Betsey Doyle:

"Washington & Lee pioneered an experiential third-year program that has won accolades"... but employment stats for graduates are terrible. .

Lawprof Deborah Merritt — who does clinical ("experiential") teaching herself — explains the program at Washington & Lee’s School of Law (which aims to make grads "practice ready"), shows the truly bad results for students who had reason to hope they'd be more (not less!) marketable, and comes up with 4 possible reasons for the unintended consequences:

1. Practice-ready lawyers don't cause there to be more jobs openings (and they might even cause there to be fewer jobs, if these people can do more work sooner).

2. For all the talk about practical training in law school, employers might not care quite that much when it comes to choosing among job applicants.

3. The practical experience in law school might not align closely enough with the job. Merritt teaches a criminal defense clinic and admits that students who take this clinic "are stereotyped as public defenders, do-gooders, or (worse) anti-establishment radicals–even if they took the clinic for the client counseling, negotiation, and representation experience." She also asks: "If a student chooses experiential work in entertainment law and intellectual property, does the student diminish her prospects of finding work in banking or family law? Does working in the Black Lung Legal Clinic create a black mark against a student applying to work later for corporate clients?" The political slant of law schools — especially when it comes to who wants to teach clinics — tends to result in clinics that may send the wrong signals to the employers who have slots to fill.

4. Maybe the program stimulates "higher or more specialized career ambitions" in the students, so that they don't want the kinds of jobs that are available. The actual practice of law — as experienced by most lawyers — might not be what these supposedly "practice-ready" graduates want to do.

I'm sure you can add to this list or synthesize these elements.

"The Battle of $9.99: How Apple, Amazon, and the Big Six Publishers Changed the E-Book Business Overnight."

Publishers Weekly has put out a $1.99 ebook.
Little did Apple know when it introduced the iPad in 2010 that it would be setting itself up to land in federal court on price-fixing charges. This blow-by-blow account charts how five of America’s six largest publishers, afraid that bookselling powerhouse Amazon's $9.99 price for Kindle e-books would undermine the industry, spent a few frantic weeks in early 2010 deep in negotiations with Apple to introduce a new business model for e-books, just in time for the launch of the iPad and the iBookstore.
ADDED: I was dreaming when I wrote this/Forgive me if it goes astray/But when I woke up this morning/Coulda sworn it was judgment day/The sky was all purple/There were people running everywhere/Trying 2 run from the destruction/You know I didn't even care/They say two thousand one zero party over/Oops out of time/So tonight I'm gonna read like it's nine point ninety-nine...

Congress's ill-starred effort to prescribe the orthodoxy of anti-prostitution.

Today, the Supreme Court found that it violated the First Amendment for Congress to grant anti-AIDS funds only to organizations that have "a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking." The case is Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc. (PDF).

Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, ends his opinion with what is perhaps the most lofty expression in all of the Supreme Court Reports:
We cannot improve upon what Justice Jackson wrote for the Court 70 years ago: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." [West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U. S. 624, 642 (1943).
Justice Scalia (who's joined by Thomas) does not appreciate the invocation of Jackson's famously fixed star. He said it was a distraction from "the elephant in the room: that the Government is not forcing anyone to say anything." Congress simply demanded that the recipients of federal funds have "an ideological commitment relevant" to the work that the government is funding. Barnette was about requiring American children to pledge allegiance to the flag. But the U.S. Constitution itself requires legislators to take an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the government, and that shows that the founders believed in "the wisdom of imposing affirmative ideological commitments prerequisite to assisting in the government’s work."

You may remember a 1991 case called Rust v. Sullivan, where the Supreme Court upheld HHS regulations that required recipients of federal health-care grants for family planning services to refrain from discussing abortion as an option. Congress was exercising its spending power, and:
That power includes the authority to impose limits on the use of such funds to ensure they are used in the manner Congress intends. Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U. S. 173, 195, n. 4 (1991) (“Congress’ power to allocate funds for public purposes includes an ancillary power to ensure that those funds are properly applied to the prescribed use.”)
In Rust, Roberts says, Congress was defining the program it funded, which was to "encourage only particular family planning methods." Even though Congress limited what they could say as they carried out the funded activity they agreed to do, it did not try to limit their speech outside of the program and it did not require them to espouse a government-prescribed anti-abortion policy.

Justice Scalia said that the government is entitled have its own viewpoints, and it can express that viewpoint by excluding recipients who believe things they don't want promoted.
If the organization Hamas—reputed to have an efficient system for delivering welfare—were excluded from a program for the distribution of U. S. food assistance, no one could reasonably object. And that would remain true if Hamas were an organization of United States citizens entitled to the protection of the Constitution. So long as the unfunded organization remains free to engage in its activities (including anti-American propaganda) “without federal assistance,” United States v. American Library Assn., Inc., 539 U. S. 194, 212 (2003) (plurality), refusing to make use of its assistance for an enterprise to which it is opposed does not abridge its speech. And the same is true when the rejected organization is not affirmatively opposed to, but merely unsupportive of, the object of the federal program, which appears to be the case here. (Respondents do not promote prostitution, but neither do they wish to oppose it.) A federal program to encourage healthy eating habits need not be administered by the American Gourmet Society, which has nothing against healthy food but does not insist upon it....
So how much do you worry about the government exploiting its immense power to channel money into controlling what people are able to say?  Just don't fall for the temptation of taking the money and you can say whatever you want — that's the Scaliaesque answer.

As the government rakes in more and more money and turns around and redistributes it with strings attached, I'd say we should worry a lot. I'm glad to see the free speech right strengthened here.

Watch for the moment when the bear decides You know what, I don't want to be in your stupid iPhone viral video.

Hit pause or mute at 1:40 if you don't want to hear the man say "holy shit."

Live-blogging the Supreme Court opinions.

Possible excitement this morning. I'm hanging out here, waiting for the latest news.

UPDATE 1: The first case is Descamps: "The modified categorical approach does not apply to statutes that contain a single indivisible set of elements." Kagan, the least senior Justice, wrote the opinion. "In Plain English, it is now harder for the government to use the facts of a prior conviction to enhance a federal criminal sentence." This case has 1 dissenter: Alito.

UPDATE 2: Here's the PDF of the Descamps opinion. From the Alito dissent:
Suppose that a defendant in Massachusetts was charged with breaking into a structure like the Lozman floating home. In order to convict, would it be necessary for the jury to agree whether this structure was a “building” or a “vessel”? If some jurors insisted it was a building and others were convinced it was a vessel, would the jury be hung? The Court’s answer is “yes.” According to the Court, if a defendant had been charged with burglarizing the Lozman floating home and this Court had been sitting as the jury, the defendant would have escaped conviction for burglary, no matter how strong the evidence, because the “jury” could not agree on whether he burglarized a building or a vessel.
This is not unlike the question of Alito and the Phillie Phanatic's glove that we were bandying around earlier this morning.

UPDATE 3: The second case of the day is American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant: "The Federal Arbitration Act enforces a class action arbitration waiver; cannot defeat the waiver on the ground that individual arbitration is too expensive." It's 5-3 and written by Scalia, who is the most senior Justice, other than the Chief, so only more Scalia opinions or opinions by the Chief remain to be announced today.

UPDATE 4: Presumably, no Fisher (affirmative action) case today, since we think we know that Kennedy has that opinion, and he's junior to Scalia.

UPDATE 5: The next case is written by the Chief: Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc. "The Court holds that the policy violates the First Amendment by compelling affirmation of a belief outside the scope of the program." The federal law in question required organizations to have a policy against prostitution and sex trafficking to receive funding for anti-AIDS programs.

UPDATE 6: Excitement time over. Take a deep breath. No same-sex marriage. No affirmative action. No Voting Rights Act. These will all need to wait until next week. Monday will be nerve-wracking. 

UPDATE 7: Here's the PDF of the AID case. Scalia and Thomas dissent, so I will take a look at that... in a new post.

Racial clowns: What Paula Deen said in the deposition.

"Perhaps most damning for the butter-loving mogul, who recently came out with her own line of spreads at Walmart, the Enquirer claims that Deen wanted to use a 'slave motif' at her brother's 2007 wedding."
Deen said she got the idea from another restaurant at which the couple dined. Said Deen, per the Enquirer: "Well, what I would really like is a bunch of little n-----s to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts, and black bow ties. You know, in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around."
All right, this is so wrong on so many levels. First, obviously, don't use the n-word. Second, a slave-themed wedding is a terrible idea. But — and I know these are lesser offenses, but I've got to say it — slaves don't wear shorts. Modern American white men wear shorts all too often and look like overgrown boys when the do so. For all of the diminishment of black men over the years — including calling them "boy" — the stereotype did not have them dressed in shorts.

And, obviously, there were all sorts of problems with the way black people were depicted in old Hollywood movies, let's at least get it clear in our minds what the movie reference is. There was a 1935 Shirley Temple movie called "The Littlest Rebel," and here's what it looked like when Bill Bojangles Robinson (playing the slave "Uncle Billy") danced. He's not tap dancing "around" — as if slaves dance around while working — he's giving a performance at an elegant affair — as a soloist, not in "a bunch." And he's not in shorts and shirt-sleeves. He's wearing long pants and a vest and a jacket. So Deen's mental image of what went on in the bad old days of Hollywood is itself an embarrassing distortion.

Everyone's in love with fluffy cows.

A traditional grooming method, which is just getting noticed.

Loving fluffy cows seems harmless, but some people are always looking for the down side:
Others in the beef industry worry that the focus on "fluffy cows" could backfire. Indeed, some Reddit and Twitter followers responded to photos with comments like, "That's too cute to kill" and "That almost makes me want to become a vegetarian."

"I'll admit, I cringe a little bit when I hear someone comparing these cattle to teddy bears. I do worry that folks will get the wrong idea that these cattle are pets, not livestock," [Matt] Lautner said.

Congressman chokes on popcorn.

WDAM.COM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Highlights of that video: a brief appearance from George Bush (giving advice) and the Congressman, Ted Poe, saying "I'm just glad I didn't throw up on anybody."

"Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito tosses first pitch at Rangers game, dishes on his love of baseball."

The Dallas Morning News has the story:
Before Wednesday’s game, when his high and tight two-seamer would have started a riot in a Dodgers-Diamondbacks game, Alito had thrown out a first pitch twice: once at a spring training game between the Phillies and Tampa Bay, the other at a regular season game in Philadelphia.
How did those go?

“In Philly, I thought it was good. The fact that the Phillie Phanatic caught it without a glove was slightly insulting to the speed of it.”
Slightly insulting to the speed of it...

I guess he threw the pitch — as they say in the Supreme Court — with all deliberate speed.

ADDED: The lawprof in me wants to probe into the statement that "the Phillie Phanatic caught it without a glove." What is the meaning of "glove"?

Is that "hand" not also/inherently a "glove"? It's not as if there are nerve endings in the green material of the costume. The human hand is inside that "hand," which can be said to make it a "glove," especially in the context where the issue is whether the ball hit so softly that the hand would not be hurt. On the other... hand... perhaps all that matters is the symbolism, and the "hand" however well-padded symbolizes a hand and not a glove, so even without any potential for pain, even from a fast pitch, the lack of a symbolic catcher's mitt sent the message that the pitch was weak.

And now that I'm getting this technical, do you want to criticize Alito for using the word "glove" rather than "mitt"?

June 19, 2013

Goodbye to James Gandolfini.

Dead at 51, of an apparent heart attack.

This is very sad. What a great actor! "The Sopranos" was — must I add perhaps? — the greatest television show of all time, largely because of him.

ADDED: Here's the NYT obituary.
James Joseph Gandolfini Jr. was born in Westwood, N.J., on Sept. 18, 1961. His father was an Italian immigrant who held a number of jobs, including janitor, bricklayer and cement mason. His mother, Santa, was a high school lunch lady....

He had an impressive list of character-acting credits but he was largely unknown to the general public when David Chase cast him in “The Sopranos” in 1999.

“I thought it was a wonderful script,” Mr. Gandolfini told Newsweek in 2001, recalling his audition. “I thought, ‘I can do this.’ But I thought they would hire someone a little more debonair, shall we say. A little more appealing to the eye.”
AND: The show's creator, David Chase, said: "He was a genius... Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, 'You don’t get it. You’re like Mozart.' There would be silence at the other end of the phone."

(I just watched the first episode again. So brilliant!)

"Here come the Edward Snowden truthers."

"What’s surprising about the Snowden theories is that one might think he’d be a sympathetic figure to people deeply skeptical of government power. But instead of holding him up as hero (or even a traitor), some are intent on labeling him a co-conspirator."

Who was Misty Malarky Ying Yang?

Just a test to see how well you know your...

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"What was written — what I supposedly said — is insensitive and hurtful."

"I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame."

Serena Williams apologizes and I'm not surprised she seems perplexed that she would need to.

"Morris has become an expression of how fed up people are with all the parties and a political system that does not represent us."

"Tired of voting for rats? Vote for a cat."

"Quinoa always keeps a spare 'urban outfit' in my purse in the event we're going to be around a lot of chain link fencing."

"One time Quinoa thought she had accidentally squashed a bug, but what she had really squashed was all the predictable style rules society has tried to place on her."

From the hilarious Pinterest "My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter."

Via Metafilter. Sample comment there: "OK, Quinoa is pretty much the greatest fake toddler name ever. I just know I would absolutely hate her parents. In fact, I do hate her parents, even if they're not real. GOD I HATE THOSE PEOPLE SO MUCH. I HATE THEIR STUPID FACES!"

"New York's narrowest house, which measures just 9.5 feet wide and 30 feet deep..."

"Located at 75 1/2 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, the three-story townhouse is legendary for both its size and its famous past inhabitants, which include Cary Grant, John Barrymore, Edna St Vincent Millay and Margaret Mead." Mead live there with her sister and her sister's wife, the cartoonist William Steig.

I love this place, which I've noticed in person many times. The linked article includes the floor plans and photos of most of the the interior spaces.

ADDED: I mean husband. What is happening to my mind in this world today!

Stockings that make it look like you have really hairy legs.

"A caption below touts them as the perfect 'summertime anti-pervert' device and 'essential for young girls going out.'"

60 years ago today, the Rosenbergs were executed.

Here's the NYT article that appeared on the 50th anniversary of the execution.
The available evidence now suggests to historians that Julius Rosenberg did in fact spy for the Soviet Union. The evidence against Ethel Rosenberg, however, is considered flimsy at best. But whatever they may have done, it is far from evident that they had handed Moscow the key to its first atomic bomb, as charged at the time.

The couple remain a special case. The United States has had many spies over the last 50 years, including some believed to have done great harm to American interests. Not one was put to death.
Here's the Wikipedia page:
The Rosenbergs were the only two American civilians to be executed for espionage-related activity during the Cold War. In imposing the death penalty, [Judge Irving] Kaufman noted that he held them responsible not only for espionage but also for the deaths of the Korean War:
“I consider your crime worse than murder...

"Try eating a couple of raisins."

A tip from a list of tips. Guess what the goal to be achieved is before you click through.

ADDED: David in the comments guesses longevity, which is wrong. I don't think commenter David is David Sedaris, but in the new David Sedaris book, Sedaris describes his father's formula for longevity:
The secret, he tells me, is to eat seven gin-soaked raisins a day.

“Blond or dark?” I asked.

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Could I possibly cut out the gin part? Marinate them in, I don’t know, coffee or something.”

“Do you want to live or don’t you?” he asked.

When I told my father about Dan’s prophecy [that the first person who’ll reach the age of two hundred has already been born], he said, “Aw, baloney. A twenty-year-old kid in Holland, what does he know?”

“He learned it in school.”

“No, he didn’t,” my father said. “The guy was just pulling your leg.” He had a similar opinion of the plastic bags hanging in Francine’s doorway [for keeping the flies away]. “It’s just a load of BS.”

“As opposed to seven gin-soaked raisins keeping you alive until you’re eighty-nine?”

“Hey,” he said, “those raisins work!”

Madison Mayor Soglin's terrible idea — previously discussed on this blog — went down to defeat in the City Council last night.

Here's our previous discussion. (I said: "What is the point of this? To facilitate political discrimination?") Here's news from last night:
Despite an impassioned plea from Mayor Paul Soglin, the Madison City Council on Tuesday rejected [11-9]a measure that would have required those receiving city contracts worth more than $25,000 to disclose contributions to certain advocacy groups....

Soglin said there is no constitutional right to donate money in order to affect elections and remain anonymous. He said the measure was a “very, very small crumb in a layer cake of political, financial shenanigans” that have been going on for centuries.

“It doesn’t mean we can’t take one small step,” he said.
That makes it sound like his proposal was a crumb in a shenanigans cake.

In other Madison news, the council approved that street painting nonsense that we were talking about here.

"A man doing yard work in Burnett County in northwestern Wisconsin was mauled by a black bear..."

So do we need to start worrying about bears? In Wisconsin?
The incident on Monday night started when Brown's dog tangled with the bear. Brown tried to intervene and was mauled.
I can't imagine getting into a dog-bear melee. There was a similar story a month ago that also began with a bear and a dog and the dog's man getting involved. That was the one where the man's wife came to the rescue with a shotgun and hit the bear with the gun, which she didn't know how to load.

Here's a poll (where you need to assume you have a dog):

If you had no weapon, would you fight a bear to try to save your dog?
pollcode.com free polls 

"The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease..."

"... a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments."

The question whether something is a disease is really beside the point, unless you define "disease" to mean: that which is helpful to view as disease.

This reminds me of those plastic surgeons who say that small breasts are a "deformity."

ADDED: Instapundit notes a discussion about a call for more "public health" research on guns and quips "[M]y suggestion to the 'public health' community is to focus on actual diseases, rather than politically-disapproved behaviors." But all you have to do is crank the rhetoric forward one turn and guns are a disease.

AND: I googled "guns are a disease" and got over 29 million hits, including: "Doctors target gun violence as a social disease" and  "I am a physician and guns are a disease" and "Treat gun violence like disease, Medical College expert says."

Female politicians "have resorted to flexing their womb-manhood."

Writes Kathleen Parker, riffing on Sarah Palin's statement that "goes something like this: 'I’m more fertile than you are.'"

(If you scroll down you'll get to the actual quote: "I say this as someone who’s kind of fertile herself." Palin was reacting to Jeb Bush's recent awkward reference to the fertility of immigrants. Parker seems to like to rewrite quotes: What Jeb said "sounds an awful lot like, 'Hotahmighty, those people can’t tie their shoes without getting pregnant.'")

It wasn't just Sarah Palin who flexed her womb-manhood to make a political argument. Parker also points to Nancy Pelosi:

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday suspended negotiations with Washington..."

"... over a security agreement that would regulate the presence of U.S. troops here beyond 2014, apparently angered by the U.S.-backed initiative to start formal peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar."
The announcement came a day after Taliban envoys appeared before reporters to give a U.S.-demanded statement that they did not want to plan or launch attacks on other countries from Afghan soil, and were open to talking with other Afghans....

However, the Taliban representatives also told reporters that their group would continue fighting NATO and Afghan troops inside Afghanistan even as the U.S. and Taliban delegations explore the possibility of peace talks. In keeping with that statement, the Taliban asserted responsibility on Wednesday morning for a rocket attack on a large U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan that killed four American troops.

"The director of national intelligence, in March, did directly lie to Congress, which is against the law."

"[James Clapper] said they were not collecting any data on American citizens, and it turns out they're collecting millions of data on phone calls every day."

Rand Paul. Video at the link.

NYT acknowledges Obama's difficulties interacting with foreign leaders.

The article has headline that shifts the blame away from Obama — "Extending a Hand Abroad, Obama Often Finds a Cold Shoulder" — but read the first few paragraphs, and you'll see that the style Obama uses on us American citizens doesn't work on foreign leaders.

Paragraph 1:
Over porterhouse steak and cherry pie at a desert estate in California earlier this month, President Obama delivered a stern lecture to President Xi Jinping about China’s disputes with its neighbors. If it is going to be a rising power, he scolded, it needs to behave like one.
You've got to wonder why "deliver[ing] a stern lecture" and "scold[ing]" equals "extending a hand."

Paragraph 3 has Obama trying "to lighten the mood" with Vladimir Putin "by joking about how age was depleting their athletic skills." Putin responded with what the NYT calls "a taut smile": "The president just wants to get me to relax." Including Putin in the self-deprecation that's supposed to be friendly and humorous is — unlike lecturing and scolding — fairly characterized as "extending a hand," but the point is, the article portrays Obama as ineffectual.

Scrolling toward the end:
Mr. Obama differs from his most recent predecessors, who made personal relationships with leaders the cornerstone of their foreign policies. The first George Bush moved gracefully in foreign capitals, while Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush related to fellow leaders as politicians, trying to understand their pressures and constituencies.

“That’s not President Obama’s style,” said James B. Steinberg, Mr. Clinton’s deputy national security adviser and Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state.
But what is his style then? Steinberg doesn't say and one must struggle to read between the lines. I would tend to infer that Obama is relying on the way people are supposed to relate to him, which is to love or at least really like him. Others are supposed to respond to his uplifting presence.

The article ends, not with a conclusion about what Obama is doing and why it doesn't work, but with more detail on Putin:
Their first meeting was marked by a nearly hourlong lecture by Mr. Putin about all the ways the United States had offended Moscow. At their second, Mr. Putin kept Mr. Obama waiting 30 minutes.
And there's a quote informing us that "Obama doesn’t really take kindly to being harangued," which is interesting, considering that the article began with the steak-and-cherry-pie anecdote about Obama lecturing Xi.

"The 35 Most Spectacular Wildlife Photos From The National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest."

#30 made me laugh. #5 is my favorite.

But don't take my word for it. I've been up since 4 a.m., woken by birds, the usual pre-dawn twittering racket having been made unusually wacky by an intermittent bass line contributed by an owl.

"Okene likely holds the new record for most time spent trapped underwater."

"As the ship settled on the ocean floor, the water stopped rising."
For the next 60 hours, [Harrison] Okene—who was without food, water, or light—listened to the sounds of ocean creatures scavenging through the ship on his dead crewmates....

Okene’s salvation—the air bubble—was trapped because the overturned boat acted as a sort of diving bell....

Humans require 10 cubic meters of air per day. So for Okene to continue breathing for 60 hours, he needed 25 cubic meters of air.... But Okene was breathing at 100 feet, or 30 meters, below the surface of the water. For every 10 meters a person descends, one atmosphere of pressure is added....

June 18, 2013

At the Pathway Café...


... tread gently.

"World's most powerful leaders pose under a dark, ominous storm cloud."

At the G8 meeting, a perfect shot.

"Photographer sues BuzzFeed for $3.6M over viral sharing model."

"The copyright issues poses a threat to BuzzFeed and similar websites, including Upworthy and For the Win, which have an editorial model based on finding content — especially images — that readers are likely to share on social media."
Last year, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti explained to the Atlantic that the site pays to license images from companies like Reuters and Getty, but that it also pulls from amateur sites like Tumblr and Flickr. In these cases, the provenance of the images can be unclear — in some cases, the photographer has made them available for public use while other times the author is simply unknown.

"Perhaps Regina Marcia Benjamin should suggest teaching pro-abortion-rights bloggers that masturbation is part of human sexuality."

Says Meade, here, in the discussion of the ugliness of the mockery of the "masturbating fetus," and alluding to Benjamin's predecessor in the role of Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders, who was fired by Bill Clinton in 1994 for saying that children should be taught that masturbation "is a part of human sexuality, and it's a part of something that perhaps should be taught."

(She meant taught about, but there was much mockery, as people assumed or pretended they believed that she thought that school teachers should be showing children how to do it, as opposed to simply teaching that it's something that many people do, that isn't physically harmful, and that avoids pregnancy and disease.)

This mockery of masturbation is quite fascinating. I'm drawn to Scalia's notorious dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, in which he defended the state's power to criminalize sodomy:
State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices.
Imagine a state today attempting to prosecute the crime of masturbation. Of course, the defense would be the right of privacy, and the courts would hear masturbation described in the loftiest terms. It would parallel what we heard — over the past few decades — about homosexuality, which was initially viewed as a lowly or ridiculous matter that didn't belong in the treasured realm of constitutional rights.

Given the importance of privacy rights to the pro-abortion-rights bloggers, I think their laughing at the masturbating fetus shows the poverty of their understanding of the very rights they'd like to pressure others to believe in.

By the way, that much-produced theater piece "The Vagina Monologues" gets reverent about masturbation:
I lay back and closed my eyes. I put the mirror down. I watched myself floating above myself. I watched as I slowly began to approach myself and re-enter. I felt like an astronaut re-entering the surface of the earth. It was very quiet this re-entry, quiet and gentle. I bounced and landed, landed and bounced. I came into my own muscles and blood and cells and then I slid into my vagina. It was suddenly easy and I fit. I was all warm and pulsing and ready and young and alive. And then, without looking, with my eyes still closed, I put my finger on what had suddenly become me. 
As the Supreme Court said: "one's own concept of existence." Or as the commenter at the fetus-mocking pro-abortion-rights blog said: "'I fap, therefore I am'? Sounds like a plausible slogan for today’s GOP wankers. Jesus God." Exactly. Jesus. God. Cosmic.

I propose a new abortion regulation.

At the end of this post.

"What's so 'ugly' about the mockery?"

Asks grinder, in the comments to the post — "Texas Congressman: Masturbating Fetuses Prove Need for Abortion Ban" — about pro-abortion-rights bloggers mocking the statement of Rep. Michael Burgess, a former OB/GYN, who commented on the "purposeful" motions of 15-week-old unborns who may "stroke their face" and "have their hand between their legs."

I answered in the comments:
The Congressman described the fetus's humanity: It does something that we are invited to recognize as part of our shared human condition and therefore to appreciate its reality and to feel empathy.

The mockers are taking this delicately stated image of the fetus touching or holding its genitals and turning it into a picture of a baby masturbating — "jerking off," "spanking the monkey" — and asking us to laugh at it, even as we are expected to accept its being killed. The very thing that the Congressman used to call us to think of it as human, they would laugh at before killing it.

If you are going to take it into your hands to kill a human being, you don't diminish it and laugh at it first. For example, an execution — assuming it is permitted at all, as it is in the United States — is carried out with somber respect. Even as this human being will be killed, we must demonstrate that we understand the profundity of what we are doing.

Picture executions where the condemned person is subjected to mockery first. (That was done to Jesus, by the way.) Some would say any death penalty is wrong, just as some would say that any abortion is wrong. But few would say that ridiculing the condemned being — dehumanizing him — is acceptable.

In their eagerness to deny that the fetus is a person, abortion rights proponents — some of them — are making sport of it.

This reminds me of Kermit Gosnell joking about a large fetus, saying that it was big enough to walk to the bus stop. Think about why that was considered shocking by many people.
Let's remember that, under the law, the abortion right — in the Supreme Court's idealized image — is based on the idea of the woman's entitlement to define her own concept of "the mystery of human life." This is a "philosophic exercise" that "originate[s] within the zone of conscience and belief." This is a deeply serious matter — to the Court. But who believes it? Abortion opponents resist the idea either because they are sure the fetus is a human being or because they wouldn't trust the woman to base her decision whether to abort on sincere conscientious beliefs about the humanity of the unborn. Those who support abortion rights seem — for the most part — to have forgotten the nature of the decision that is reserved, under the law, for the woman. Laughing at the unborn is egregious evidence of this forgetting.

Here's an idea for an abortion regulation that I've never heard anyone else discuss, but which occurred to me as I've read and reread the Supreme Court cases. A woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement: I have reflected on the nature of the procedure I am about to undergo, and I attest to my sincere belief that it will not kill a human being.

Charlie Rose interviews Obama about Iran, Syria, the NSA leaks, etc.

The 45-minute video.

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"Texas Congressman: Masturbating Fetuses Prove Need for Abortion Ban."

This anti-anti-abortion snark isn't funny:
As the House of Representatives gears up for Tuesday’s debate on HR 1797, a bill that would outlaw virtually all abortions 20 weeks post fertilization, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) argued in favor of banning abortions even earlier in pregnancy because, he said, male fetuses that age were already, shall we say, spanking the monkey.

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” said Burgess, a former OB/GYN. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”
This is getting a fair amount of attention from pro-abortion rights bloggers, and I'd just like to say — and note that I support abortion rights — that this mockery is very ugly.

ADDED: Pharyngula writes, obviously intending humor:
... I think the good Christians of Texas ought to regard this as an argument for abortion — the sinful little self-polluters must be punished!
Balloon Juice jokingly detects sexism and instructs readers ("Juicers") to find the hilarity:
Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, some dude bro starts talking about male fetuses jerking off, and then your brain starts to cry... I find it very interesting that the concern is only for male fetus pleasure. Because women are just brood mares who can’t feel pleasure. Where’s the love for female fetuses? Damn.

Have fun with this one, Juicers.
The first commenter says: "'I fap, therefore I am'? Sounds like a plausible slogan for today’s GOP wankers. Jesus God. Where is that meteor already?"

Speaking of "the good Christians of Texas," why don't good liberals seriously believe "I fap, therefore I am"? At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

ADDED: I respond to the question "What's so 'ugly' about the mockery."

"Headless running robot cat."

"The headless, four-legged robot is about the size of a house cat, and its legs were designed with a typical kitty in mind..."

A typical kitty without a head...

"Banff motorcyclist pursued by ‘massive’ grey wolf along stretch of B.C. highway, takes pictures."

Tim Bartlett gives an interview. Excerpt:
Banff, of course, swells with thousands of European and Asian tourists each summer who would kill for this type of mystical “close encounter” with Canadian wildlife. Were you hit with any kind of “nature high” after the experience?

I’ve still got it. I’m having a hard time getting down to the ground, actually, and it was almost a week ago. You just feel so privileged. I mean, this is why I live in Banff. This happens and you just think “this is something totally off the charts.” It’s way more than I’d even hope to imagine. Just seeing a wolf is one thing, to have it run beside you and chase you is another thing altogether.

"The vast majority of the 1,430 education programs that prepare the nation’s K-12 teachers are mediocre..."

"... according to a first-ever ranking that immediately touched off a firestorm."

This is your brain/face on drugs/morphing.

How'd they do that?

"We want the Beacon Food Forest to serve as a model for cultural equality... and food justice."

Free food, for foraging, in Seattle.

... Glenn Herlihy... hopes visitors will practice "ethical harvesting"--taking what they need, or what they can eat right away. But for those feeling greedy, there will be a "thieves garden" containing lower-grade stuff. "We also plan to have a lot of people around, so you’re not going to feel comfortable taking a lot of stuff," he adds....

Falling Fruit’s founders, Caleb Phillips and Ethan Welty, see foraging as more than just another source of food. "Foraging in the 21st century is an opportunity for urban exploration, to fight the scourge of stained sidewalks, and to reconnect with the botanical origins of food," they say, at their website.

Defending Miss Utah.

Linda Holmes at NPR says think about how the question was dumb.
These dumb questions aren't intended to actually see whether you're smart or not. Miss Utah USA might be smart and she might not be, but the last thing I'd use to guess at whether she's smart is whether she can answer this kind of question "correctly." Because "correctly" here just means smoothly, expertly, without hesitation or stammering....

She's not in the news for being dumb; she's in the news for being bad at spontaneous but convincing balderdash manufacturing....
When you're in a contest, you know the standards in that contest, and you're judged by how well you do under those standards. She was given an open ended prompt — a factoid about women's income and "What does this say about society?" — and she was supposed to speak fluidly while looking poised. Pausing and looking lost and uttering disconnected phrases is incorrect. Holmes is really only saying she doesn't like beauty pageants. Personally, I don't care one way or the other, but they are what they are. If you don't like the game, don't play. Miss Utah chose to play and ended up on the blooper reel. We get to laugh, just like we get to laugh at stuff like this:

Leave Michelle Obama alone.

She's growing out her bangs, okay? Have you never gone through the issues of growing out bangs? It's not easy.

"'Standing man' inspires Turkish protesters in Istanbul."

"Performance artist Erdem Gunduz stood silently for eight hours, facing a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey."
"I'm nothing... The idea is important: why people resist the government. The government doesn't want to understand, didn't try to understand why people are on the streets. This is really silent resistance. I hope people stop and think 'what happened there?'"

"We don’t cook at home, but, yes, we have separate trash for composting stuff."

Says Mayor Bloomberg, who's proposing food-waste composting for NYC, quoted in a NY Post article titled "It’s a heap of trouble: Vermin fear over Mike's compost bid."

We don’t cook at home... that's rich.

June 17, 2013

At the Movingly Succulent Café...

... please settle down.

(Motion added to my image by Chip Ahoy, who explains it here.)

The funniest thing in the world: rubber bands.

(Via Metafilter.)

"As soon as they pulled near the barn, [Jimmy] Hoffa was dragged out of the car, and bound and gagged."

"A shallow hole was already dug in the barn floor. He put up a fight, but he was easily overpowered. …(One of the men) picked up a shovel and cracked Hoffa over the head with it. …They threw him into the hole, and buried him alive. He wasn't shot, he wasn't stabbed, nothing like that. A cement slab of some sort was placed on top of the dirt to make certain he was not going to be discovered. And that was it. End of story."

UPDATE: Under that slab, no Hoffa found.

"President Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin put on an almost comically awkward show of unity for the cameras today..."

"... as they made virtually no eye contact and grimaced as the other spoke following a bilateral meeting at the G8 Summit."

That thing of not wearing ties looks really bad when they're not cozying up.

"The father wanted to rape his daughter again in the morning inside the house and..."

"... that was when the young girl picked up the bush knife and chopped her father's head off."

"Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now."

Edward Snowden answers questions, including "Edward, there is rampant speculation, outpacing facts, that you have or will provide classified US information to the Chinese or other governments in exchange for asylum. Have/will you?" His answer is such a conundrum...
This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as the US media has a knee-jerk "RED CHINA!" reaction to anything involving HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.
... that the questioner comes back and demands "a flat yes or no." He says:
No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists.
I still don't know the complete answer to the first question, however, which asked if he will provide — that is, in the future — classified information to the Chinese.

"Among young voters, only 48 percent approve of the president's performance, a 17-point decline..."

"... since the last CNN/ORC poll. These are the president's most loyal supporters, and the future of American politics."

The National Journal asks "Is Scott Walker the GOP's Sleeper Presidential Candidate?"

"He's a popular blue-state governor with tea party appeal...."
"The recall was a gift to him in that it put him in touch with the big funders in the Republican Party, and I'm sure he keeps that Rolodex pretty close," said Brian Sikma, a spokesman for a conservative government watchdog group in Wisconsin. "I don't see any reason why he wouldn't run, and if you look at the tea leaves, he's taking all the traditional steps."...
But despite the attacks, Democrats have struggled to find a credible challenger eager to run against Walker in [the gubernatorial race in] 2014. The governor amassed a $30 million war chest for the recall campaign, while depleting the labor unions. Charles Franklin, a Marquette University professor of law and public policy, said Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is viewed as more beatable in 2016 than Walker is in 2014.

"The Democratic bench is thin right now, and Democrats face a real issue of how to fund a campaign against him," Franklin said.
So it looks like he begins with plenty of money to use to run for reelection as governor and to run for President. In retrospect, that recall looks so profoundly stupid.

CORRECTION: The link goes to the National Journal. I had "The Washington Post" in the headline for some reason.

"Miss Utah flub steals spotlight from Miss USA winner Erin Brady."

So would you rather win or be famous on the internet?

"The Ministry [of Gossip] gives it a 10 for scrambling, a 10 for rambling, and bonus points for using the phrase 'create education better.' And add 10 to that for pulling it all off in an evening gown, with a huge smile and big hair. It all adds up to third runner-up."

"The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, allows voters to register using a federal form that asks, 'Are you a citizen of the United States?'"

"Prospective voters must check a box for yes or no, and they must sign the form, swearing under the penalty of perjury that they are citizens. The state law, by contrast, required prospective voters to prove that they were citizens by providing copies of or information concerning various documents, including birth certificates, passports, naturalization papers or driver’s licenses, that are available only to people who are in the state lawfully."

The Supreme Court, 7-2, said the federal law preempted the state law, Adam Liptak explains:

The Althouse Amazon portal: your gateway to making finer, closer and more detailed touches to your artwork.

By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want and – while paying nothing extra – make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And unless you draw us a picture, we'll never know it's you.
Pitt Artist Pens - Wallet Set of All 4 Pen Styles in Black
by Faber

"Sex on screen can teach us about so much more than sex."

Writes Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the last of a set of 6 short essays in the NYT answering the question "What's the difference between a good sex scene and a gratuitous one in films?"

The sentence above is the 4th to the last sentence in her essay. The next 3 sentences are:
At the recent Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto, Mia Gimp and Clark Matthews won “sexiest short” for their entry “Krutch,” shot on an iPhone 5 on the streets of Midtown Manhattan. The film tells the story of a disabled woman who, faced with the challenges of navigating a world made for able-bodied individuals, finds solace and erotic pleasure with her crutch. For depictions that push against sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and ableist, heteronormative beauty ideals – as it turns out, porn is now the place to look.
Ironically, my phobia is about movies depicting sex for the purpose of teaching me anything. Put that on your list of things you can't push against with porn.

Supreme Court live-blog.

Here. Possible excitement today.

UPDATE 1: An opinion in Salinas v. TexasPDF — which is about the right not to incriminate oneself ("prosecutors can comment on the silence of an accused who has not yet been arrested").

UPDATE 2: Alleyene: Justice Thomas writes the opinion holding that "Any fact that increases the mandatory minimum is an 'element' that must be submitted to the jury." Joining him are Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. A 5-4 decision with Thomas and the liberals. Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito dissent. PDF.

UPDATE 3: A Kennedy opinion, but not the long-awaited Fisher (the affirmative action case). This is Maracich v. Spears, the Driver's Privacy Protection Act case. Another 5-4 decision. "An attorney's solicitation of clients is not a permissible purpose covered by the DPPA's litigation exception." PDF.

UPDATE 4: Scalia writes for the majority in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council: "Arizona's proof of citizenship requirement is preempted by the federal law requiring that states use the federal voter registration form." Only 2 dissenters: Thomas and Alito. PDF.

UPDATE 5: And that's it for today. There will be more opinions on Thursday.

Which of the opinions are you most interested in hearing me say something about?
pollcode.com free polls 

"Rubio has killed himself with his base through a classic example of hubris and Freshman overreach."

"He could have gotten behind an immigration bill, but getting behind this immigration bill, another cooked-up-in-a-backroom you’ve-got-to-pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it monstrosity was a mistake. His second mistake, and the really fatal one, has been expressions of contempt toward his base. Suggesting that people who don’t support his bill are racist, and that American workers are dumb, is political poison. And his staff should know better than to say this kind of thing to any journalist, however friendly-seeming. All in all, a really disappointing performance from Rubio."

Writes Instapundit.

But why did the Freshman arrive at this hubris? How did he get into this position in the "Gang of 8" from which he could do this overreaching?

Seeing where he is and knowing that it was the insane, inane hopes that conservatives reflexively projected onto him, he understandably views this base as at least rather dumb and a tad racist.

"An extraordinary fuss about eavesdropping started in the spring of 1844..."

"... when Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian exile in London, became convinced that the British government was opening his mail. Mazzini, a revolutionary who’d been thrown in jail in Genoa, imprisoned in Savona, sentenced to death in absentia, and arrested in Paris, was plotting the unification of the kingdoms of Italy and the founding of an Italian republic. He suspected that, in London, he’d been the victim of what he called 'post-office espionage': he believed that the Home Secretary, Sir James Graham, had ordered his mail to be opened, at the request of the Austrian Ambassador, who, like many people, feared what Mazzini hoped—that an insurrection in Italy would spark a series of revolutions across Europe. Mazzini knew how to find out: he put poppy seeds, strands of hair, and grains of sand into envelopes, sealed the envelopes with wax, and sent them, by post, to himself. When the letters arrived—still sealed—they contained no poppy seeds, no hair, and no grains of sand. Mazzini then had his friend Thomas Duncombe, a Member of Parliament, submit a petition to the House of Commons. Duncombe wanted to know if Graham really had ordered the opening of Mazzini’s mail. Was the British government in the business of prying into people’s private correspondence? Graham said the answer to that question was a secret."

So begins "The Prism: Privacy in an age of publicity," by Jill LePore at The New Yorker.

"Happy. Free. Confused. Oppressed by the patriarchy. At the same time."

It's FeministTaylorSwift — which WaPo tells me is a Twitter sensation. The actual Taylor Swift Twitter feed has the tag line "Happy. Free. Confused. Lonely. At the same time." Nice profile pic:

Or is this all kind of too obvious... or I mean... obvious in light of first seeing this in the context of a whole big WaPo article about it that's trending #1 most-popular on WaPo's "Most Popular" list? And — oh! — did I go off in a negative direction at the cue that another female is popular?

Happy. Free. Confused. Buffeted by mainstream media. At the same time.

"On March 12, 2004, acting attorney general James B. Comey and the Justice Department’s top leadership reached the brink of resignation over electronic surveillance orders that they believed to be illegal."

So begins the WaPo article titled "U.S. surveillance architecture includes collection of revealing Internet, phone metadata." It continues:
President George W. Bush backed down, halting secret foreign-intelligence-gathering operations that had crossed into domestic terrain. That morning marked the beginning of the end of STELLARWIND, the cover name for a set of four surveillance programs that brought Americans and American territory within the domain of the National Security Agency for the first time in decades. It was also a prelude to new legal structures that allowed Bush and then President Obama to reproduce each of those programs and expand their reach.
Much more at the link.

June 16, 2013

At Succulent Café...


... any juicy stories?

"China is pushing ahead with a sweeping plan to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years..."

"The government, often by fiat, is replacing small rural homes with high-rises, paving over vast swaths of farmland and drastically altering the lives of rural dwellers...."
Across China, bulldozers are leveling villages that date to long-ago dynasties. Towers now sprout skyward from dusty plains and verdant hillsides....

Instead of creating wealth, urbanization could result in a permanent underclass in big Chinese cities and the destruction of a rural culture and religion....

“For old people like us, there’s nothing to do anymore,” said He Shifang, 45, a farmer from the city of Ankang in Shaanxi Province who was relocated from her family’s farm in the mountains. “Up in the mountains we worked all the time. We had pigs and chickens. Here we just sit around and people play mah-jongg.”