August 10, 2013

Saturday, in Wisconsin.

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"In what will surely go down in history as one the greatest architectural blunders..."

"... the town of Benidorm in Alicante, Spain, had almost completed its 47-story skyscraper when it realized it excluded plans for elevator shafts."

And I thought the blunder was that the building looks like a giant pair of pants. No elevators, eh?

ADDED: Apparently, the blunder is only looking like a giant pair of pants.

CNN's Hillary Clinton documentary is making "life more difficult" for Candy Crowley, who's keen on maintaining the separation between journalism and partisan politics.

"You can say all you want, this is a commissioned documentary from people who are not in the employ of CNN. It’s not me. It’s not Wolf Blitzer. It’s not John King. It’s an outside documentary group. But we’re with CNN and so this is not a story where the nuances are well-received, particularly by Republicans."

She ought to know about nuances that Republicans don't receive well, like that nuanced occasion when she was supposed to be moderating a debate between 2 presidential candidates and the Democrat was getting cornered so she fought on his side.

If the NY sales tax exempts "dramatic or musical art performances," can it deny that exemption to strip club dancers?

The state, arguing that there's no "genuine choreographic dance performance," won in the state's highest court, but only by 4-3. The strip club, Nite Moves, is seeking U.S. Supreme Court review, saying government shouldn't be the judge of the "relative 'value' of the speech."

Once dancing counts as speech within the meaning of freedom of speech, what sense does it make to speak of a "genuine choreographic dance performance"? What is "genuineness" in dance? What does "choregraphic" mean other than "dance"? The (unlinkable) OED defines "choreography" to mean "The art of dancing." The oldest use of the word in English is:
1782   C. Burney Gen. Hist. Music II. 50   In Choregraphy, an art invented about two hundred years ago to delineate the figures and steps of dances.
Would a strip club with a more rigorously planned set of dance moves — less spontaneity — get an exemption?

August 9, 2013

Pictures from the first walk on the new floor.

After 8 hours of drying time, I put on socks and walked out onto the new floor:

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"It's just nuts. It's crazy." Why are you texting and driving?

Please watch this half-hour documentary. Made by the great film director Werner Herzog:

The floor project, Day 5, continued.

It's like watching paint dry...

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... but more intensely fragrant.

"Eight staffers at Cory Booker's tech start-up have started looking for new jobs as the company is expected to shutter."

"The video aggregation company is said to be losing cash quickly and it is supposedly being kept alive through early November so that it's closure doesn't hurt Booker's chances at winning the New Jersey Senate race."

(We were talking about Booker and his company Waywire yesterday, here.)

Chicago Public Schools provides "safe passage" maps for school kids...

... to help them deal with new school assignments after the closing of 47 schools and to soothe parental worries about children crossing rival gang territories and vacant buildings and lots.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said... “This is nothing new.... Kids have been crossing gang lines for years to go to school. We have a program in place that’s very clearly worked. We’re doing more of it this year based upon the school closings."...

Because so many schools closed this year, CPS added nearly $8 million to the program and is hiring an additional 600 people to escort students along designated safety routes....

The floor project, Day 5.

It's all over but the drying.

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It will be ready to walk on in 8 hours, and we've got an 8 day break before we move the furniture back. So... ideas for things to do on a big, empty, shiny new floor. Don't say bowling!

"We are fuming - this person acted terribly wrong. We are sorry this happened to @oprah!."

So tweets the Swiss Tourism office after Oprah cries racism when a shopgirl deems a $38,000 handbag "too expensive" and steers her toward other merchandise. Racism has many manifestations, some terribly subtle. Who can tell the difference between a rich lady in don't-you-know-who-I-am mode crushing a humble retail employee and a woman imbued with racial memory vindicating centuries of suffering by perceiving the last nuance of insult?

"I may yet get married — statistically 90% of people get married at some point."

"But I would say that love and craziness has overwhelmed my life, and I am trying to write about it, and at the same time tell the story of New York City from 1609 to the present."

So writes Elizabeth Wurtzel, as quoted and diminished by Amanda Hess. Wurtzel writes about herself — and whatever else goes into the old talking-about-me grinder, like, apparently, the history of NYC — and Hess asserts "Wurtzel’s work has veered, Cat Marnell style, into the realm of self-help," then critiques Wurtzel for not giving good self-help. Is that fair? Maybe I haven't read enough Wurzel — here's here Reddit "Ask Me Anything" — but what I hear her saying is: I'm the wild bohemian, this is something I am deep in my soul and you are not and can never be, and therefore I am the writer and you are the ones who must read me, read me, read me.

Speaking of self-help, I wish I could help myself not to Google "Cat Marnell."

How big law firms entertain summer associates.

They really do try, apparently, even during these troubled times. Above the Law nominates 6 law firm entertainment events for the best of the summer of '13, and you can vote for the best. I voted.

"Feminism, in short, doesn't just empower women. It empowers me."

"It allows me to take on roles that have traditionally been associated with women. It gives me more flexibility in my career. As a man, feminism has had a huge positive effect on my life. It seems like the least I can do in return is own it."

Writes Noah Berlatsky under the heading "All the Selfish Reasons to Be a Male Feminist," posted at Slate's XXfactor. He's certainly not telling us all the selfish reasons, since I can think of at least one additional reason: You can get your free-lance writing published at Slate's XXfactor.

Berlatsky talks about having a wife with a full-time job and health insurance benefits and his own role as primary caregiver for their child while he does his writing, and that catches my eye, because it's the family life I had from 1981 to 1987. He says:
There was a time not so long ago where doing any of those things would have made me the object of ridicule, and quite possibly self-loathing as well. Today, though, it's no big deal — and the reason for that is feminism.
Well, there was feminism back then too, but it didn't save men from the inner turmoil of switching traditional gender roles. We thought we were really sophisticated, advanced, hip, and evolved in the early 1980s. Does that come as a surprise to you, Noah? You say, "it's no big deal," but you're writing at XXfactor, where it's in your interest — you have a selfish reason — to say that. But these things work until they don't work, so don't be smug, and good luck. Have you really thought deeply about your masculine self-esteem? Because, to my ear, your thanks feminism sounds shallow.

"We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now."

"We knew USG would come after us," says CEO Michael Janke.
It hadn’t been told to provide data to the government, but after Lavabit shut down today rather than be “complicit” with NSA spying, Silent Circle told customers it has killed off Silent Mail rather than risk their privacy....

Silent Circle reportedly had revenue increase 400% month-over-month in July after corporate enterprise customers switched to its services in hopes of avoiding surveillance. The company giddily told Forbes it planned to nearly double staff and significantly increase revenue this year in part thanks to the NSA’s practices coming to light.
I'm sure there's lots of money that could be collected for providing services that are impossible to provide, but that's the catch: The service is impossible to provide.

August 8, 2013

Goodbye to Karen Black.

A montage:



Remember when she was in everything?

She was 74.

The floor project, end of Day 4.

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Today, the last of the wood went in around that tricky descent onto the spiral staircase. Then, lots of sanding and vacuuming, and this is the sealer coat going on. After that, coat of poly, then sanding, dust removal, and a final coat. Tomorrow's the last day. Tonight's the night for escaping from the fumes.

Jim S. is right, I need more nominees for Most Embarrassing Sentence in Major Media, 2013.

He says:
I think if you're looking for the most embarrassing quote in major media, you can do no better than this description of Huma Abedin that Instapundit draws attention to:
She wore bright-red lipstick, which gave her lips a 3-D look, her brown eyes were pools of empathy evolved through a thousand generations of what was good and decent in the history of the human race.
Ultra-close readers of this blog with great memories know that I defended that sentence — and some sentences around it — as "so gloriously absurd, that they must be intentional satire and not a new level of good press."

So prod me toward some other nominees.

"Which ultimately does more good — an article or monograph that is read by 20 or 30 people in a very narrow field..."

"... or a blog post on a topic of interest to many (such as grading standards or tenure requirements) that is read by 200,000?"
What if the post spurs hundreds of comments, is debated publicly in faculty lounges and classrooms, and gets picked up by newspapers and Web sites across the country—in other words, it helps to shape the national debate over some hot-button issue? What is it worth then?
These are 2 extremes, with the emphasis on numbers. Blog posts can also get lost in the endless flood of new words onto the internet. What is the value of any of these writings? The thing about a blog post is that you've got pressure to write clearly and to get it out quickly. Some material fits that form well and some does not.

Form and function. Think about it.

10 things Scott Walker should do to position himself to run for President in 2016.

A list, from "Right Turn" at WaPo. Excerpts:
3. Establish himself as the candidate that bridges the gap between the tea party and mainstream Republicans. He’s taken on the left, but not tilted at windmills....

8. Steel himself for the national MSM. Unlike New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been in the New York media market, and Beltway lawmakers who engage the press every day, Walker has had comparatively little experience in the national limelight. He will need a top-flight communications team....

Did Reza Aslan, a Muslim writing about Jesus in "Zealot," intend to say anything about the politics of today's Middle East?

Asks Jonathan Kirsch of Jewish Journal. Aslan said:
I really didn’t. I was very careful in not trying to make any overt political point with this book. It’s a historical biography about a man who lived 2,000 years ago, and nothing else. But a lot of people have brought it up, because nothing much has changed. The politico-religious context of our world is something that Jesus would have understood. The arguments that Jesus made against authority are being made today on the streets of Cairo and Jerusalem. And the role of religion in providing a sense of dignity to marginalized and oppressed people, regardless of their religious background, is a universal that exists in all places and all religions.
Here's the book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." And for those who'd like to see him write about Islam, here's his book "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam."

By the way, I was surprised to see that Reza Aslan is the 6th most popular author on Amazon.

"Government is the same institution that takes over forests to 'protect' them — but then builds logging roads into forests to cut down trees..."

"... that unsubsidized, private roads might never have reached. The forests end up smaller, but people still assume they're safer in government hands than in greedy private hands."
Government is the institution that puts itself in charge of caring for wildlife but recently sent a dozen armed agents into a Wisconsin animal shelter to seize and kill a baby deer named Giggles who was being nursed back to health there, since Giggles wasn't in the right type of approved shelter.

When government screws up, we're supposed to say, "They meant well." When individuals pursuing their own interests screw up, we're supposed to feel ashamed of industrial civilization and let government punish and control us all. If we let it do that, government will do to the economy what it did to Giggles.

"Bob Dylan ran through the 18th century English folk song 'Pretty Saro' six consecutive times during the Self Portrait sessions in March 1970..."

"... but none of those versions made the final cut for the album and the song remained in Columbia's vault for the past 43 years. The track never even leaked onto bootlegs, but on August 27th, it's finally coming out on Another Self Portrait, a 35-track box set of songs cut for Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning."

Details and video of the song here

Here's the old "Self Portrait." "Another Self Portrait" will come out at the end of the month.

"Booker's stake is a bribe."

"He gets money, the bribers er 'donors' or 'partners' get control and access over public policy, at the expense of the voters. This is blatant graft and of a type that used to be common in the late 19th century, which in so many ways our politics and economy seem to be moving back to."

That's the comment ranked highest by readers of the NYT's embarrassingly puffy piece on Cory Booker, "Tech Magnates Bet on Booker and His Future."

Here's the second-highest-ranked:
“Cory is the inspiration architect,” Ms. Ross said. “He really is the thought-leader soul part of the business.”

Translation: he does nothing but we're throwing money at him to buy influence.

And really? Yet another video sharing platform? The tech sector - which I suppose now includes 99% of everyone under 25-years-old - just keeps going deeper and deeper into the well in an endless feedback loop of self-aggrandizement but what they produce becomes less and less relevant or important to society. But they sure can market junk, can't they?
Here's Waywire, by the way(wire), so check for yourself if it's haywire. You can't tell from one look how long these items have been at the top, but the timelessness of the subject matter makes me think: a long time. I mean: "7 Great Beatles Performances," "Top 15 Most Patriotic Songs," "30 Best Summer Songs"...? These seem to pre-date the Internet! But let's be fair and watch "Top News, August 8," which appears in the upper left-hand corner of the grid. It starts off (for me, now, anyway) with a grainy 38 seconds of a guy in a suit drawing all the pingpong balls for a set of Powerball numbers. (That fits with "betting on Booker.") It then proceeds to another video, a minute of Obama on Leno, then another (showing "Suffering in Syria"), then something about Egypt, something about Dustin Hoffman, something else about Egypt, and ending the run through the top news that you need to know today, August 8th, with "Toddler Beaten to Death by Foster Mother." We see her sad face in a thumbnail.

I'm drawn back to the NYT article, which blithely drops the news: "Waywire has put Andrew Zucker, 15, the son of Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, on its advisory board and given him stock options." Kid luck. It's a crapshoot.

"There is no spying on Americans."

"We don't have a domestic spying program."

Mr. Bezos, tear down that wall.

I don't think the ownership of the WaPo has exchanged hands yet, but my first thought on hearing the news that Jeff Bezos had bought The Washington Post is: He should take down the paywall. For about a day, I imagined that maybe he'd already made that happen. I was getting to lots of articles, but it turned out it was just close enough to the beginning of the month that I hadn't maxed out on the free access yet.

This morning, I'm trying to read "Jeff Bezos, The Post's incoming owner, known for a demanding management style at Amazon" and I have to hit the "reader" button to get to the text. Bezos needs to demand that the wall go. Having more readers is what really matters. Turning all that volume into money is something that can happen later. Isn't that how Amazon works? And anyway, Bezos already has so much money that he doesn't need to use WaPo to get more money. He needs it for his personal prestige and power. More readers suits that goal better than squeezing some money out of some of them.

Anyway, what is this "demanding style"? Paragraph 1 says he ends conversations that go on too long. Paragraph 2 says he has a "famously long-term approach." Interesting combination relating to time: patience in one sense and not in another. He's patient with the development of the product and the market, but wants efficiency internally. Paragraph 3 reinforces that point:

August 7, 2013

Most Embarrassing Sentence in Major Media, 2013.

And the first nominee is:
But hanging in the air was an electrifying sense of being in the presence of an ascendant politician they believed understood the potential of the new digital world they were shaping.

The floor project, end of Day 3.

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Tomorrow, sanding and finishing, and then dodging the fumes. The floors, when finished, should be close to the color of the window frames, and Meade plans to paint the walls, which right now are a yellowish cream. What color would you paint the walls? Meade and I are in discussions about that, so help us (me) out here.

Rose of Sharon.

Earlier today, I put up a picture of a big, plate-sized, pink hibiscus, and wildswan wanted to know whether that wasn't what you call Rose of Sharon. It turns out — as I quoted Wikipedia over there to say — that Rose of Sharon is a name used for a particular type of hibiscus, and I associate the name with a smaller flower, clustered on a shrub like this:

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I liked the way the closed-up fallen blooms look on the concrete, which I like to call Tampons of Sharon:

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"In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: 'The Opt-Out Generation.'"

"In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended"
It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In."
A post at Metafilter that contains more links than I copied. Lots of comments there too, comments that you may find more satisfying than the article, which, as many of those comments point out, dwells on the travails of the affluent.

12 years without sex, or as Sophie Fontanel calls it, 12 years of insubordination.

Fontanel did not forgo sex for any moral or religious reason or out of a lack of desire. She was only 27 at the outset. She wasn't prudish, but she rejected the way she'd had sex without being "present" and because it was the thing to do.
I wanted to recover my body. My real desire was to re-want having sex....
She decided: "I will return to sexual activities when it is worth it — and it took more than ten years."

When her book — "The Art of Sleeping Alone" —  came out, "a lot of people — a huge amount of people — began to say that they had the same experience."  That was in France. It will be out here next week. Expect a lot of confessions from people who've gone without sex for a long time. If you've voluntarily gone for years, will you admit how long? It's nice of Fontanel to open the floodgates on this topic, which I think many people are embarrassed to talk about, afraid of looking pathetic or undesirable.

Here's her advice:
I recommend being true to yourself. If you are making love and you’re disappointed, then stop. Recover your freedom. Don’t be afraid of being single, and don’t be afraid of being single for a long time.... It’s very important to learn that it’s not a sin to be alone.
Funny to get to the end of the article and see the word "sin." I think she's being humorous, not revealing secret religiosity. Obviously, I haven't read the book yet, but I suspect that she is saying that people have sex out of habit or to seem normal to themselves and others, and the sex is often worse than nothing.

You know my old aphorism: Better than nothing is a high standard.

Hibiscus.

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Yesterday, at the Centennial Garden.

"Look, Putin doesn't deserve the respect after what he's done with Snowden... He goes out of his way to stick the knife into the United States."

Said Chuck Schumer:
"I know what he is doing. I mean he's trying to make Russia a big power again. But there are good ways and bad ways to do it. Good way build up the economy, create some freedom and strength... Bad way, step on somebody else's back. That's what he is doing."
Meanwhile, Obama was talking to Jay Leno:
Q    Now, were you surprised that Russia granted Snowden asylum?

"We were counting on you to break down the transgender wall but this silly amnesia story, man up and tell the truth."

Man up. There's a phrase.

27-year-old Madison man faces reality and takes action.

So there you are, sitting on your own front porch, working on your laptop, and...

1. A stranger comes up on the porch? What do you do?

2. He sits down next to you? What do you do?

3. He asks you for a cigarette? What do you do?

4. He grabs your laptop and runs? Now what?

In this case, the man did nothing at #1 and #2, and at #3, just said he didn't have any cigarettes. At #4, the man gave chase, tackled the thief, and got the computer back.

Now, next time, don't let a stranger come up on your porch, and whenever you're anywhere in public with your laptop, expect thieves.

I am nostalgic for a culture of front porches, where residents meet the world and chat with passing strangers, but in this vision, no stranger comes up on the porch without invitation. Anyone crossing the sidewalk/porch line has stepped out of The Dream of Yesterday and into They're All Out to Get You. That is, I'm a liberal while you're on the sidewalk, but step onto the porch and I'm a right-winger.

I wasn't going to blog "18 Ways To Eat Hummus All Day Long"...

... as I idly scanned Buzzfeed headlines, but I see it's written by a "Buzzfeed fellow" named Spencer Althouse, and I'm always looking for new posts in the storied line collected under my "other Althouses" tag.
I'm 22, an identical twin, and I don't trust men who shave their armpits. Comedy writer, aspiring screenwriter, Academy Awards enthusiast.
So... there are 2 other Althouses.

Here's Spencer's collection of "The 31 Most Sinfully Sexy Nuns In Movie History." As the countdown continues, you become more and more sure that #1 is Audrey Hepburn in "The Nun's Story," but she's not.

"There is absolutely nothing worse than the stereotypical old fart in the cluttered office telling people 'It’s all crap!!!'—while pulling down, year after year, a handsome if static salary..."

"... and I’m perilously close to that. In classical Chinese philosophy there is an oft-repeated motif of the sage who writes a book and then departs beyond the frontiers, never to be seen again. Perhaps 7DS is that [non-]book."

So writes 62-year-old Philip Schrodt, who retiring from his tenured prof job at Penn State and setting up shop as an independent consultant.

7DS = "Seven Deadly Sins of Quantitative Political Analysis/The Web Site."

(I got to Schrodt's screed via Paul Caron.)

I'm 62, by the way, and last night I had a dream about someone trying to talk me into retiring, so it's odd running into this today. If you read between the lines chez Schrodt, you'll see he's energized about keeping more of the money he brings in. (I don't think he says anything about the pension he's going to collect, but that has to be part of the economic analysis upon which he's run the numbers.) He's also tired of what he's calling the "authoritarian" governance at his university and it's Sandusky-sullied reputation. And he's sick of academic journals:
I’d like to think I’m still doing research that is interesting, but once the work is written, it is out there on the web where anyone can find it, so why go through the agony of dumbing down the work for a major journal which will then hide it behind a paywall?
It's best to set up your work life so that the efforts you expend create the motivation to do more. If there's pointless drudgery and you don't have to do it, it's lazy not to change. You may imagine that laziness feels good, but slogging along doing things you don't value is deadly, and if you don't need to do it for the money, especially if the alternative is intrinsically energizing and more lucrative... honey, how come you don't move?

"Plans by three Catholic hospital systems in Wisconsin to deny admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions would 'be in active violation of federal law'..."

"Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen's Department of Justice said in a court filing last week."
Federal law "provides that hospitals accepting federal funds may not discriminate against a physician because that physician has participated in or refused to participate in abortions," the state Justice Department said in its filing in federal court....
There's a new Wisconsin law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital with 30 miles of their clinics.  That law is being challenged in federal court, as an undue burden on abortion rights. And now the state law — oriented toward religious (and moral) objections to abortion — is having this side effect of burdening religious hospitals.
Seven doctors who provide abortions in the state lack privileges, and at least four are applying for them at religiously affiliated hospitals, according to their employer, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.
Is Planned Parenthood targeting the religious hospitals? Its lawyers observe that many Wisconsin hospitals have religious affiliations, so this is what they law has driven them into doing.

Note that Van Hollen isn't arguing that federal law requires that the abortions be performed in religious hospitals. It doesn't. He's only saying that the hospitals can't refuse admitting privileges to doctors on the ground that they perform abortions elsewhere.

IN THE COMMENTS: MayBee asks some key questions:
What are the admitting privileges for? To admit a patient in the midst of a botched abortion?

Will a hospital that does so be forced, then, to participate in an abortion? Can they ensure the baby will be saved if the mother is brought in during an abortion that is going wrong? Or will the doctor have the "right" to complete the abortion? 

Why is Madison police chief Nobel Wray retiring?

The report in the Wisconsin State Journal ties the retirement to the shooting of Paul Heenan:
Wray and the department have taken much criticism following the shooting of Heenan, who was intoxicated when he entered a neighbor’s home, then struggled with the homeowner and an officer responding to a reported burglary in process. The department and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne cleared Officer Stephen Heimsness of wrongdoing in the shooting, but Heimsness later agreed to resign from the department after Wray sought to fire him for unrelated allegations.

FireDogLake calls out Kos: "Markos Moulitsas’ Ugly, Reverse-Racist Smear."

Kos: "NSA spying is bad! So is stop and frisk. So is splitting up families by deporting children to countries they’ve never been to and don’t speak the language. So is harassing American muslims. Government overreach is bad. But to act like having the government track who you call is the height of government abuse is a very white privileged view of the privacy issue. But as for Greenwald and Snowden? Seriously, I don’t give two shits."

FDL: "Please, Mr. Moulitsas, tell us, what is the proper, non-privileged, multi-cultural view of the 'privacy issue'? Is it one that stays within the confines of what’s allowed by the Democratic Party? Is it one that is relevant to the war on women, or voting rights, or immigration, but ignores the collapse of the rule of law and the justice system (which is far from a 'white privileged' issue)?"

FDL supplements its posting with a word from our leader, from the days when he was free of the burdens of leadership and leveraging our antagonism for the previous leader:

August 6, 2013

The floor project, end of Day 2.

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"I find it so entertaining a small group of whack jobs wants me expelled from UW-Madison."

"Can I only say what the crazy women approve of?"

"I’m polyamorous, which means I believe you can love multiple partners at the same time."

"I’m in a relationship with my husband of nearly 17 years, and my boyfriend, with whom I celebrated my second anniversary in May. (In polyamorous lingo, our relationship is known as a 'V; I’m the 'hinge' of the V and my two partners are the vertices.)" So writes Angi Becker Stevens in Salon, complaining that "the world at large" condemns them.
My boyfriend and I met through our leftist politics...

My daughter, who will be 10 next month, has known that her father and I are non-monogamous for nearly as long as she can remember. She certainly isn’t exposed to sexuality any more than children of monogamous relationships are; she sees child-appropriate displays of affection between me and both of my partners, and she lives in a stable, loving home. I often talk to her about the fact that society frowns on families like ours, and whenever I mention the claims that polyamory is bad for children, she rolls her eyes and says, “Oh no, kids having more people to love them! How horrible!”
Oh, no, kids having more adults showing them how to be sarcastic! How horrible!
When my daughter talks about same-sex marriage or polyamorous relationships, she always looks perplexed and says, “I don’t understand why anyone is angry about people being in love and not hurting anyone.” And I long for a world where everyone is able to see it so simply.
You complicate your own life and then call upon others to be simple as they think about your complications.

"It is ironic that Austen, the elegant, precise satirist that she was, should provoke this crude and unsophisticated and wild meanness."

"She was no stranger to anger, to simmering resentments and harsh judgments, to taking people down a notch, but her sentences were if anything the opposite of 'a bomb was placed in front of your house.'"

Writes Katie Roiphe in Slate, about the Jane-Austen-on-the-banknote controversy we were talking about yesterday.

Why is that ironic? Isn't it more exactly what you'd expect, that an elegant, precise writer's antagonists would be crude? What's ironic is that Roiphe, championing the elegant, precise writer would misuse the word "ironic."

I checked the complete works of Jane Austen to see if old Jane had ever used the word "irony" or "ironic." The answer is no, but the search turned up the uses of "iron" as well, and I was amused by this exclamation, in "Northanger Abby," about James's gig:

The Atlantic empowers readers to post comments next to specific paragraphs.

Instant automatic fisking. It's the new thing.

ADDED: As Rob notes in the comments, the innovation will be in Quartz, one of The Atlantic Media's publications, not in The Atlantic Magazine.

Exile from the big room.

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Waiting for the new floor.

Great ad for a pushup bra.

Virality of the ad noted here.

"You are a drama queen," said the cop to the man he'd just thrown to floor.

Or... what just happened here?



"Wisconsin Capitol Police have been arresting people in the Capitol for singing their grievances against the Scott Walker Administration without a permit for the last two weeks. [On August 5] during one of the multiple arrests, Officer Michael J. Syphard grabbed videographer Arthur Kohl-Riggs and threw him to the ground without any kind of warning or request to move."

What happened in that video?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Click the tag Arthur Kohl-Riggs to see his previous appearances on this blog. [ADDED: 2 videos from March 23, 2011 show Kohl-Riggs moving in on Meade at a protest. Kohl-Riggs's intrusive, get-in-your-face method can be seen in the first video, as he seems to be trying to scare Meade.]

The carrots tag.

Meade read the previous post — which ends with the old University of Michigan "cooked carrots" test — out loud, helping me proofread, and said, "Carrots! We know what carrots mean to Althouse," and I said, "Yeah, the carrots tag. There's a lot of great stuff under the carrots tag."

I was scrolling through the taggage, looking for the thing Meade was referring to, and I found this guy...

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Here's another reference to the cooked carrots test, which "purported to place everyone on a spectrum from very masculine to very feminine, and perhaps the authorities imagined that they could identify the homosexuals."

In 1993, "50% of the women were scoring as masculine" on the Bem Sex Role Inventory...

... "a 1971 survey that uses gender stereotypes to classify personalities as masculine, feminine or otherwise," which surprised Jean M. Twenge, who was a student at the University of Chicago and — we're told in this NYT article — a "Minnesota native and a childhood tomboy" who "had once planned on a career in gender studies."
Dr. Twenge decided to dig up as many old studies using the Bem survey that she could find, average out their scores by year and chart them over time. “I found that across all the studies from the ’70s to the ’90s, there was a very clear upward trend in women scoring higher on this measure of stereotypically masculine traits,” she said.
Twenge went on to use this method of studying generation change to focus on issues of self-esteem and narcissism, not masculinity and femininity. The article seems to attribute this shift on her happening to perceive that theme in the data. Much of the article is about critics of her methodology and what the negative dimension of narcissism really is. (Personally, I suspect that survey-takers get a higher score on a narcissism test because we used to get a stronger message that it's wrong to be selfish and "self-centered," so we self-assessed differently in the old days.)

I'm putting up this post because of the connection to the previous post, which I ended with a recommendation against seeing one's masculinity/femininity balance as any kind of a problem. Twenge took her research in another direction, and I wonder why she may have seen a career advantage in not delving into masculine and feminine stereotypes. In the constitutional case law that I teach, there's a very strong rejection of the use of sex stereotypes, but in the general culture, at least among elites, there's a lot of empathy for those who claim that their body doesn't match their psyche. But I think it's risky to point to that discrepancy. Who wants to step into that crossfire?

By the way, when I got to college, at the University of Michigan in 1969, we were given a bunch of tests, one of which gave a masculine/feminine score, and we were told all the scores but that one. The scores were reported on computer punchcards. We figured out how to read the holes on the punchcards and found our secret scores. I don't remember what I got, but the questions were such that the test was referred to as something like the "cooked carrots test," because a typical true/false statement was: "I like cooked carrots."

ABC News producer Don Ennis was happy you accepted him in transgender form as Dawn Ennis, but he's back to being Don again.

... and hopes you understand:
“I accused my wife of playing some kind of cruel joke, dressing me up in a wig and bra and making fake ID’s with the name ‘Dawn’ on it. Seriously” Ennis wrote....

“It became obvious this was not the case once I took off the bra — and discovered two reasons I was wearing one,” he said, referring to his hormone-induced breasts. “I thought it was 1999 . . . and I was sure as hell that I was a man,” Ennis said...
He claims to have had amnesia at that point:
“Fortunately, my memories of the last 14 years have since returned. But what did not return was my identity as Dawn.... I have retained the much different mind-set I had in 1999: I am now totally, completely, unabashedly male in my mind, despite my physical attributes.... I’m asking all of you who accepted me as a transgender to now understand: I was misdiagnosed...."

“The new change I’m revealing to you today did not arise because I couldn’t hack it, or people wouldn’t accept the new/real/female ‘me,’ or I had trouble finding shoes that fit...”....
Let this be a lesson to... whomever the shoe fits.

Read the whole article at the link. There's some weird stuff about his mother giving him female hormones when he was a child to preserve his acting career, playing young. There are also photos of him as a man and in his female guise. I don't know his whole story, but I suspect there are males who have some effeminate traits that they ought to just accept as part of their individual identity. Maybe we should put more conscious effort into embracing men like this so they don't get the idea that drastic measures are needed to get to some stereotypical notion of normal. Let both males and females partake of masculinity and femininity in whatever proportion and balance feels normal to them. To regard an unusual balance as a problem is to reinforce stereotypes, as if stereotypes are good. But elsewhere in life, we reject stereotyping.

"Bezos believes that a big reset button is being hit on the media ecosystem."

"And the old models don’t work. So there’s plenty of room and opportunity for new models to be created," says Businessweek senior writer Brad Stone, whose book "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," coming out in October, needs updating.
We’re so dominated in our world by our media organizations getting smaller and losing money, and yet to him it’s always been clear that this is an opportunity for more experimentation. So this does fit within that framework.
But Stone thinks the acquisition might be less about the monetizing old media on the web and more about "buying a lot of political influence."
And we can’t discard the fact that Amazon hasn’t been an enormous player, at least up until the dispute over sales taxes, and in buying The Washington Post, he has a seat at the table. And I think particularly legislators and anti-trust regulators are gonna be weighing the dominance of Amazon a lot in the years ahead.
Here's Stone's book, which you can pre-order, obviously at Amazon, which happens to be the best way to monetize a blog, through its Associates program, which you know I participate in. (Feel free to enter Amazon through my portal if you're inclined to buy something and simultaneously express appreciation for my writing.)

The age-old advice: Do something.

CNN reports:
A pair of suspected U.S. drone strikes killed four al Qaeda militants in Yemen as the United States maintained a heightened security alert in the country and urged all Americans to leave immediately.... A Yemeni official said four drone strikes have been carried out in the past 10 days....

It is unclear whether the strikes were related to the added security alert in the country after U.S. officials intercepted a message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to operatives in Yemen telling them to "do something."
Oh, so it's al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who gave out the call to "do something" — not somebody somewhere in the Obama administration. Noted.

Bezos and the WaPo paywall.

"Last March, the Washington Post put up a metered paywall, charging readers who access more than 20 articles a month," but Jeff Bezos, who just bought WaPo, has said, "On the Web, people don’t pay for news and it’s too late for that to change." So what's going to happen?

"This is the inspiring story of Hafid from Dubai, the douchebag who stole my phone."

"He forgot to switch off the camera upload function, that's why we will enjoy a deep insight into his life. Start below."

(More here.)

Ted Cruz said: "Buzzfeed — the leftwing site — y’all know Buzzfeed?"

"Yesterday they did a whole series of graphic pictures basically showing that I was promised one thing on Obamacare and here is what I’m left with.... Look, when Buzzfeed is turning on him, this thing isn’t working."

He was talking about this.

"It's just upsetting to have lost that way. I don't know why it would have counted as the wrong answer."

This is a case study in teaching a child to be a sore loser. Thomas Hurley III lost his $3,000 bet on "Jeopardy" because he wrote "Emanciptation Proclamation" instead of "Emancipation Proclamation."

The judges make their rulings for reasons that obviously have to do with consistency across a broad range of decisions. Quit damaging this kid by letting him blind himself to the explanation and encouraging him to feel like a victim.

Not only did he lose $6,000, but he lost the opportunity to appear in public as a courageous loser, which — over the course of a lifetime — would have been worth more than than $6,000.

How important is spelling? Well, it depends. There are spellings where one adds or omits a silent letter or substitutes a letter for another that sounds the same. Dan Quayle reinforced the typecasting that he was dumb when he prompted a child to add an "e" at the end of "potato." And yet it raised no suspicion that he would have pronounced the word incorrectly.

But the spelling "Emanciptation" raises the supicion that Hurley would have pronounced it "e-man-cip-ta-tion." Many words — like "implementation" — end in "-tation." If it hadn't been final jeopardy, and he'd said "e-man-cip-ta-tion," there's no question the answer would have been rejected. By contrast, misspelling "Proclamation" as "Proclaimation," wouldn't be so bad.

The question was a good final jeopardy question for kids in part because they had to get out 2 big words. He missed one. Don't miss again by playing the victim.

And, by the way... Emancipation Proclamation. That's a clue to get a sense of proportion about the misfortunes that befall human beings.

August 5, 2013

"The Washington Post Co. has agreed to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos..."

"... ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations."

Wow! What an amazing moment of transition in media this is. The new overcomes the old. It's not Amazon that will own WaPo, but Bezos himself, individually.

I hope he gets rid of the paywall.
For much of the past decade... the paper has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers and other “legacy” media organizations. The rise of the Internet and the epochal change from print to digital technology have created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies...

Bezos, in an interview, called The Post “an important institution” and expressed optimism about its future. “I don’t want to imply that I have a worked-out plan,” he said. “This will be uncharted terrain and it will require experimentation.” He said, “There would be change with or without new ownership. But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.”
ADDED: It seems as though the Bezos idea should be to forget about making money — like Citizen Kane — and simply plunge into making a great newspaper. Bezos doesn't need to make money. He can be simply spending money. Do what is good! What else should he do at this point? And even when Amazon was being developed, the need to make money soon was considered a distraction, if I remember correctly. He had the nerve to put that off way into the future. Here's the "Citizen Kane" scene this makes me think of:



"You're right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in... 60 years."

"Wisconsin DNR removes Facebook page amid national outcry over SWAT-style takedown of fawn."

Isthmus article, updated to say that the page is back up. Check it out here. I don't think there is one word of empathy for the poor baby DNR.

The floor project, end of Day 1.

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Here's a little something for those of you...

... who can't get enough of the Meade-Zeus-Wingra combination.



There's something in the first third that makes me laugh every time.

ADDED: A little something extra, not from us. From Russia, with terriers:

The "therapy dog" scam.

This is something I've been pointing out for years, but here's a NY Post article about how shamelessly bad people are getting in NYC.
“I was sick of tying up my dog outside,” said Brett David, 33, a restaurateur whose tiny pooch, Napoleon, wore an unofficial “therapy dog” patch during a visit to Whole Foods on Houston Street.

Sometimes, they’ll give me a hassle and say bring the papers next time, but for five bucks, you order [a patch] off eBay, and it works 90 percent of the time,” he told The Post.... David merely had to say “service dog” at a Starbucks on Delancey Street and again at a dumpling eatery on Broome Street for him and his furry friend to be allowed inside.
This is like medical marijuana. Once there's an exception that people will lie to get into, you might as well let everyone do it. As more and more people fake it, you're only restricting the honest people.

Here's my longstanding "service animals" tag, beginning with "When I travel I tell hotels up front that 'Alexander Dog Cohen' is coming and he is my emotional-needs dog."

"It’s not the content... We don’t regulate content."

Said Madison's Building Inspection Division Director George Hank about the order to remove an 8-foot depiction of a stripper with one hand on a pole and the other holding a dollar. He says the law bans signs painted on buildings. But aren't there murals painted on all sorts of buildings in Madison.
The drawing is considered an advertising sign rather than an artistic expression because it directly promotes the business, [Hank] said.
Could Hank explain the gigantic head of a manic, mustachio'd chef painted on the wall of Lombardino's restaurant?

"To adapt H.L. Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the cynicism and self-dealing of the American political class."

"Witness their ad-libbed decision, at the 11th hour and on the basis of no legal authority, to create a special exemption for themselves from the ObamaCare health coverage that everybody else is mandated to buy."
... The lesson for Americans is that Democrats who passed ObamaCare didn't even understand what they were doing to themselves, much less to everyone else.

Yielding the floor.

Last night we cleared out the big room...

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Except for the WiFi gear, which we relocated, makeshift style, on top of the old air conditioner. Some stuff went into the living room and the dining room, but the important part was the new temporary workspace, which we put in the sunroom...

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So we're holed up in here while the old carpet is ripped out in preparation for a new floor. Zeus (and his bird) keep an eye on the progress:

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"Many workplace set ups undermine introverted employees by failing to accommodate their personalities and productivity styles..."

"... over-stimulation and excessive meetings can easily stunt their full brain power. One study showed that when introverts and extroverts are given math problems to solve with various levels of background noise playing, introverts do best when the noise is lower, while extroverts perform better with louder noise...."

How about all the classrooms and test rooms? If it's really true that performance is affected, then introverts are systematically discriminated against in getting into schools and onto career paths. But to view this as a condition deserving accommodation would be awfully expensive or — if you let people work from computers in their home space — vulnerable to cheating.

"One of the few advantages of dying from Grade 3, Stage IIIC endometrial cancer, recurrent and metastasized to the liver and abdomen..."

"... is that you have time to write your own obituary. (The other advantages are no longer bothering with sunscreen and no longer worrying about your cholesterol.)"

It was a paid obituary, but The New York Times noticed and ran a story about Jane Lotter. That was enough — along with the adorable photo booth pictures of her and the man she married — to make me begin this blog post. As I go along — you have to get to the last third — I see what I think is the real goal of the article: presenting a postcard picture of suicide.
Ms. Lotter took advantage of [Washington state's] Death With Dignity Act.... On July 18, the couple and their two children gathered in the parents’ bedroom. Ms. Lotter asked to keep in her contact lenses, in case a hummingbird came to the feeder [her husband] had hung outside their window.

The last song she heard before pouring powdered barbiturates, provided by hospice officials, into a glass of grape juice was George Gershwin’s “Lullaby.” Then she hugged and kissed them all goodbye, swallowed the drink and, within minutes, lapsed into a coma and died.
Does this picture make you more likely to take the barbiturate way out if you knew you were dying? Would you dissolve the powder in grape juice or some other liquid? Would you play Gershwin's "Lullaby" or something else? Would you be in your own bedroom, hoping to see a hummingbird one last time? Would you include only your closest family — hugging them in a planned sequence — only your most loved one, or would you go alone? As you imagine the theater of a controlled departure — with details corresponding to Lotter's details — are you more favorably disposed to the "Death With Dignity" approach or not? Are you still thinking about yourself, or did you, at some point in reading this paragraph, shift to picturing other people getting enthusiastic about early check-out time and thinking of yourself as one of the taxpayers and insurance buyers — us the living —  who stand to benefit?

"A luxury toilet controlled by a smartphone app is vulnerable to attack, according to security experts."

"An attacker could simply download the My Satis application and use it to cause the toilet to repeatedly flush, raising the water usage and therefore utility cost to its owner.... Attackers could [also] cause the unit to unexpectedly open/close the lid, activate bidet or air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress to [the] user."

So the toilet is not just vulnerable to attack. The toilet can itself attack.

The article, at BBC.com quotes a security expert named Graham Cluley saying "it's hard to imagine how serious hardened cybercriminals would be interested in this security hole." Cluley is a sly one with the double entendre. BBC needs to get a clue(ly).

Anyway, I'm picturing a future where all the things in the house come alive, seemingly with a mind of their own. I'm picturing Tommy Toilet.

It's hard to imagine anyone coming after you through your toilet, but that only amplifies the creepiness of anyone who would.

And what's "Satis" supposed to mean? Short for "satisfaction"? A reference to the cult of deification of the floods of the Nile River in Egyptian mythology? A reference to the home of Miss Havisham, the extremely disappointed rich lady in "Great Expectations"? Oddly, all 3 of those things seem to make sense with respect to the fancy schmancy toilet.
Pip: 'Is Manor House the name of this house, miss?'
Est.: 'One of its names, boy.'
Pip.: 'It has more than one, then, miss?'
Est.: 'One more. Its other name was Satis; which is Greek, or Latin, or Hebrew, or all three—or all one to me—for enough.'
Pip: 'Enough House,' said I; 'that's a curious name, miss.'
Est.: 'Yes,' she replied; 'but it meant more than it said. It meant, when it was given, that whoever had this house, could want nothing else. They must have been easily satisfied in those days, I should think. [...]'
 Tommy Toilet sez, "Had enough?"

"The cultured meat is originally white; the burger had to be coloured with beetroot juice."

"The burger was cooked by chef Richard McGowan, from Cornwall, and tasted by food critics Hanni Ruetzler and Josh Schonwald."
Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms Ruetzler said: "I was expecting the texture to be more soft... there is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The consistency is perfect... This is meat to me. It's not falling apart."

Food writer Mr Schonwald said: "The mouthfeel is like meat. I miss the fat, there's a leanness to it, but the general bite feels like a hamburger. What was consistently different was flavour."
Consistently different. What does it mean? What an awful slogan that would make. The whole point is to make it taste the same as beef, which is the desired consistency. Alternate slogan idea: We take the other white meat, and "beet" it red.

Threats of rape and murder over replacing Charles Darwin on the £10 note with Jane Austen.

The NYT describes "a countercampaign of online harassment.... against several high-profile women." What was the "campaign" corresponding to the countercampaign, who were these "high-profile" women, and how high-profile were the threateners? 
Caroline Criado-Perez, a blogger and co-founder of the Web site The Women’s Room, began her campaign months ago when she realized that soon there might be no women — except Queen Elizabeth II, of course — left on British bank notes. The issue seemed urgent: in April, the Bank of England had announced that the only woman currently featured among five historical figures, the social reformer Elizabeth Fry, would be replaced by Winston Churchill, indisputably male. Surely, Ms. Criado-Perez argued, there were enough women of note in British history to find at least one more?
Nice to hear that bloggers are "high-profile." When do bloggers get pictured on bank notes? And why wasn't the Queen enough? This seems like a pretty lame feminist issue. By comparison, we women of the United States have never gotten a picture of one of our kind on the paper money. They keep putting one of us on a dollar coin...



... and then acting disappointed when no one wants to use it. Get rid of the damned dollar bill! George Washington is on the quarter, the favorite coin. All those already minted dollar coins would circulate like mad if you pushed Washington back to 1 not 2. And don't tell me Lincoln has 2, so Washington should have 2. We're not talking about testicles. We're talking about representation on money. Get rid of the penny and the dollar, push the 2 rivals for best President back to single representation, and it will free Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea to circulate through the pockets and vending machines of America. Release the women from that vault!

There. I — a female blogger — have started my campaign. Let's see if I can hit the high-profile heights of Caroline Criado-Perez.

So who are the nefarious attackers? They were nobodies:
“I’m going to pistol whip you over and over until you lose consciousness,” one Twitter user warned Ms. Criado-Perez, threatening to “then burn ur flesh.”...
Two men, ages 21 and 25, have been arrested so far in connection with the harassment. Scotland Yard’s electronic-crime unit is investigating the Twitter attacks involving mostly anonymous Internet users, so-called trolls.
It's idiotic to threaten anyone on line, even if you think the target can't possibly believe an attack is in the offing. You'd think the hardcore fans of Charles Darwin would be more evolved.

"The student was McGinn’s paid research assistant on a project relating to the evolution of the human hand."

"McGinn, who is 63, admits to engaging in sexual banter with his assistant. He notes, however, that the subject of his study, the human hand, tempted such banter.... McGinn describes his relationship with the student as an 'intellectual romance.' But the student says she received an email from him saying that the two should have sex in his office during the summer when no one else is around. McGinn denies sending such an email. However, he admits sending an email that said 'had a hand job imagining you giving me a hand job.'"

That's Paul Mirengoff writing about the case of the philosophprof Colin McGinn, whom we were talking about the other day here. Mirengoff links to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that says:
While he resigned of his own accord, he says that he “couldn’t win,” because Donna E. Shalala, the university’s president, was determined to drive him out.
I remember when Donna Shalala stood by men accused of sexual harassment:
The highest profile members of the administration, no doubt, will also be sorting out their feelings. In January [1998], Clinton assured his Cabinet he was innocent, and Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state, stepped out onto the White House driveway to back him up.

"I believe the allegations are completely untrue," she said.

"I'll second that. Definitely," said William Daley, the commerce secretary.

"Third it," said Donna Shalala, the secretary of health and human services.
Third it. Ha. That's a lot to live down.

As for McGinn and "hand job." Should we empathize with a brilliant writer's impulse to riff amusingly with images and puns? The need for the inclusion of women in all of the academic fields trumps male complacency about sexual banter. I can't imagine wanting to use a student as a sounding board for anything that could be misconstrued as a sexual advance (unless one really were moving in on this student). McGinn openly attests to his high opinion of his own intelligence, but how can you not see all that risk? I've got to hypothesize that the risk was titillating and he chose to take it. I suspect the presence of Shalala as the authority figure in his territory only made the risk hotter.

August 4, 2013

Dog, boat, ball.

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This morning, Meade took some pics from his kayak on Lake Wingra with Zeus.

What's the point of committing suicide...

... when you're going to be executed in 3 days?

I could understand if a painful or degrading execution lay ahead, but this was a man in Cleveland, and he chose hanging himself over the state's fairly compassionate injection method.

Why do philosophy professors call themselves "philosophers" when law professors don't call themselves "lawyers"?

I think the answer is that "philosopher" sounds loftier than "philosophy professor," but "law professor" sounds loftier than "lawyer." But it could also be that "lawyer" is a specific job that the law professor needs to signal is not what he's doing, but "philosopher" is not a job.

I'm thinking of this question because I see Instapundit linked to my post from yesterday about the philosophy professor accused of sexual harassment, and I was rereading the beginning of the post: "'There was no propositioning,' said the philosopher. 'Remember that I am a philosopher trying to teach a budding philosopher important logical distinctions.'" Boldface added. It's striking. To insiders maybe it's ordinary, but to my ear, it's either beautiful and romantic and somewhat pretentious or romantic.

"'Heaven sees what the people see, Heaven hears what the people hear'/Today, Heaven’s heart feels what’s in the people’s hearts."

"This seems to mean that something happened in the past, but I can’t search for it."

Do you really need that much dessert?

No!

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But we ate it anyway.

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"I’ve done work with the University of Michigan that tracks eye movement as people look at cartoons. The interesting thing is..."

"... that at that 'get it' moment, when someone understands, the pupil sort of pops like it does for a flashbulb," says Robert Mankoff, the New Yorker cartoon editor.
I also collaborated on research in which we used The New Yorker cartoon caption contest. One of the ideas about humor is that it’s our way of coping with negative feelings. In a control study we found people who were primed with negative emotions, through images of illness and death at a subliminal level, create more and funnier captions than those who were not.
I'm interested in this connection between negative emotions and humor skill, but I hate the New Yorker caption contests so much. I should process my negativity into a funnier closing line for this blog post.

Prow dog.

Proud dog Zeus. Yesterday, with Meade on Lake Wingra:

"The pros and cons of sex before marriage."

A article in The Independent Florida Alligator.

The Independent Florida Alligator. The whole idea of an independent Florida alligator tips me toward strong norms of no sex outside of marriage.

"This house can’t believe you’re scrolling through the TV channels one by one instead of just using the damn page button."

#6 on a list of "23 Bitchy Looking Houses That Can’t Believe You Right Now."

"Why Russia Turned Against The Gays."

A headline at Buzzfeed. Excerpt:
Russia’s new laws — banning same-sex foreign couples from adopting Russian children in addition to banning LGBT advocacy — are part of the country’s very search for survival, according to [Russian legislator Yelena Mizulina].

On the one hand, there’s its physical survival — Russia’s birthrate plummeted in the wake of the Soviet collapse and encouraging baby-making (through government grants as well as rhetoric) has been one of Vladimir Putin’s hallmarks. And then there’s its moral survival; if Russia is to survive as Russia it needs to reject the corrupting influences of the West....
According to the article, Vladimir Putin used his image and personality in place of ideology, back when people were tired of Communism. But over time that strategy became ineffective, so:

"How Friedrich Engels’ Radical Lover Helped Him Father Socialism."

That's a headline. What are you picturing? I asked Meade, and he had the same misimpression I had: So Friedrich Engels was gay.

What portal of cultural change did we just pass through that, upon hearing a man had a lover, we pictured another man? It came more readily to mind that a man had a male lover than that a woman was involved in the Marx-Engels intellectual project.

But the article — at Smithsonian — doesn't portray the "radical lover" as much intellectual help. Slogging through it, I see that Mary Burns's help came in the form of house and sex work. (Engels didn't believe in marriage.) The article pushes us to perceive intellectual contribution in her connecting him to the lives of those in extreme poverty.

Had the headline suggested that kind of help, we'd surely have pictured a woman.

As it is, the headline's "father" metaphor invites us to picture sexual interaction that produces a pregnancy. Within that metaphor, Engels ought to be the female partner, since he's the one who goes through the equivalent of pregnancy and childbirth. The intellectual work product is the baby. Even though pregnancy requires man-woman sex, if we visualize Engels as the pregnant one, we expect a male partner.

I got to that article via Joe Malchow at Power Line, who gives his post a sharper headline: "Friedrich Engels Was an Entitled Jerk."