November 16, 2013

"If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History."

A book by Jeff Greenfield that's getting a lot of attention this week (with the 50th anniversary of the JFK murder coming up next Friday). I don't know what Greenfield came up with as he broke #4 of my "10 rules for writing about the 50th anniversary of the day John F. Kennedy was shot," but the "If Kennedy Lived" fantasy was thoroughly examined by Meade and me in August 2012:

Your early evening Meade dog.


It's Gavin.

"It helps no one when women feel that their feelings about their own personal experiences with abortion and contraception are somehow 'not okay.'"

"Which is why it’s wonderful that New York and Elle are reclaiming these stories from religious conservatives."

 Writes L.V. Anderson in a DoubleX article titled "Feminists Are Sharing Abortion Horror Stories. And That’s a Good Thing."

"In the days when success in life had depended on marriage, and marriage had depended on money, novelists had a subject to write about."

"The great epics sang of war, the novel of marriage. Sexual equality, good for women, had been bad for the novel. And divorce had undone it completely. What would it matter whom Emma [Bovary] married if she could file for separation later?"

Says a character in the Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel "The Marriage Plot," reviewed here.
Eugenides, speaking for himself, made a virtually identical argument in Slate several years ago, substituting “Anna Karenina” for “Madame Bovary”: “You can’t have your heroine throw herself under a train because she left her husband and ruined her life. Now your heroine would just have a custody battle and remarry.”
Oh, yeah? And what about cell phones? They're wreaking havoc on hack plots. Of course, the answer is to throw in some bit about how there's no signal or the battery is dead.

There must be a stock list of reasons why a modern-day woman cannot divorce. 1. Make her religious, 2. Inheritance, 3. Children, 4. Husband gives access to some needed social or business network, 5. Hey, I'm not a writer of plots! You figure it out, writer man.

Marijuana may be legal(ish) in Denver, but the neighbors can still call the cops over violations of the odor ordinance.

If the olfactometer says you're over the stink limit, the fine is $2,000.

And, by the way, there's a great article about the difficulties of legalizing marijuana in the new issue of The New Yorker: "BUZZKILL/Washington State discovers that it’s not so easy to create a legal marijuana economy." But you'll need to subscribe to read it. Odor ordinances are the least of it. There are big problems with trying to eliminate the black market. Just one is: Young people under 21 aren't going to be allowed to buy legally, and these are a huge part of the marijuana market. Life isn't going to change for them. Another is that the state is seeing legalization in tax terms, which means it's tempted to overprice — which sends folks back to the black market — and it's getting addicted to a cash flow based on heavy users (because it's probably true that something like 20% of the users will by 90% of the product).

At the 3 Dog Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.


Snuggle House finally opens.

"Lonnie Johnson, one of four staff members at the touch-therapy business... said staff were relieved to see the business get past the city paperwork problems and regulatory issues that had prevented the business from opening as planned on Oct. 15."

"The Fall of the House of Moon
/Sex rituals, foreign spies, Biden offspring, and the Unification Church's war-torn first family."

A long article by Mariah Blake in The New Republic. Excerpt:
Hunter Biden and his lawyer, Marc LoPresti, maintain that the deal was fair, given the state of the company. But people close to Park say he was emotionally fragile and felt indebted to the Bidens, which put him in a vulnerable position.

Finally, in 2008, the economy collapsed, after which it emerged that Allen Stanford, whose firm was soliciting investors for one of Paradigm’s funds, was running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. While the fund itself was solid, investors were spooked. In 2010, Paradigm filed for voluntary liquidation. “It was a thicket,” Hunter Biden told me. “Every time you thought you saw a way out, there would be another road block.”

"Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

Your favorite aphorism?

Here's a take on it:

Yeah, I know. The response to that is obvious to a decently educated person, but this is an effective viral video aimed at... other people. And even if you know what's wrong with the argument in that video, it's about manipulation of opinion at an emotional level.

"Emotional support animals... travel free, and restrictions on their size and species are left to the airlines’ discretion."

"They are not required to be caged. And unlike service animals, which undergo extensive training, they require no training."
Their task is to provide comfort to their companions. To serve the needs of the animals and their owners, a cottage industry of websites and doctors advertising documents that certify emotional support animals has emerged....

Carla Black, a psychotherapist in Marina del Rey, Calif., began receiving enough requests for emotional support animal certification that this year she began advertising on her website. For $99, she provides an hour of her time, over the phone or Skype, and a clinical assessment, along with a prescription letter, which is valid for one year.

Ms. Black said in a telephone interview that before she issues a letter she ensures the client is eligible under criteria set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. “I make sure they qualify for depression or whatever, P.T.S.D.,” she said, referring to post-traumatic stress disorder.
I take it that must be covered by an Obamacare-compliant health plan, which must cover mental health.

One more reason to avoid getting on an airplane. I picture myself seated between the lady with a potbellied pig on her lap — his dripping snout overhanging the armrest — and the man who's having a breakdown because he's allergic to pigs.

"Is it right to waste helium on party balloons?"

"We're going to be looking back and thinking, I can't believe people just used to fill up their balloons with it, when it's so precious and unique."

A movie documentary about the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes."

Is there a point to this, when the strips are all there and easy to read and reread?

"Scientists discover world's oldest clam, killing it in the process."

The clam was 507 years old, and the scientists were screwing around with it in their effort to research climate change — because old clams are (as the Christian Science Monitor puts it) "palimpsests of climate change."
[T]he lines on its shell to estimate its age, much as alternating bands of light and dark in a fish’s ear-bones are used to tell how old the animal is."
The clam "born in 1499." (Are clams born?)
This is the same year that the English hanged a Flemish man, Perkin Warbeck, for (doing a bad job of) pretending to be the lost son of King Edward IV and the heir to the British throne. It’s also the same year that Switzerland became its own state, the French King Louis XII got married, and Diane de Poitiers, future mistress to another French king, Henry II, was born.
It's not like the clam could reminisce about such things. What could the clam say? What's one century or the next to a clam? It's one eternal moment down there. Is it not? Do you revere a clam because it is 500 years old? Does it have a greater clam to continued life than all the little clams in the last bowl of chowder you gulped?

Oh, but those are not little clams in your chowder. Those are cut up large clams, often ocean quahogs like that Oldest Clam in the World, and probably often over a century old.

ADDED: I see I wrote "Does it have a greater clam to continued life." For years, I've had an uncanny tendency to write "clam" for "claim." Taking notes in law school, I used to sometimes need to stifle a laugh. But I don't think I ever wrote "clam" for "claim" while writing about clams. The claims of clams.

What does that clam claim?

"The problem with anti-rape underwear."

Headline at the Guardian. Guess what "the" problem is with anti-rape underwear? That is, assuming there's one problem — because it would be easier to think of 5 problems — what's the problem?

November 15, 2013

At Bandit's Café...


... you can talk all night.

An occasion for my "Big Government sounds like a creepy stalker" tag.

Email received just now:

"That leaves 30 years — 30 years of what? You’re going to knit? That's just crazy!"

Anne-Marie Slaughter is alarmed:

About those "got insurance?" ads from Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education.

I thought these were a spoof at first, but they're not. I didn't think about what was going on until I was listening the podcast of Rush Limbaugh's Wednesday show, and then it dawned on me, not because I looked at it the way Rush did, but something about his take made me see the light.

So here's what Rush said:
These ads are promoting this irresponsible behavior and assuring you that you'll be okay if you engage in this irresponsible behavior if you get insurance.  The ads are designed to convince young people, Millennials, to go sign up for Obamacare....
Rush focuses on this:

"We pass over the silly remarks of the President."

"For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of."

"There are a lot of briefs, and people doing a lot of talking. I mean, it’s law."

Clarence Thomas said about the work of the Supreme Court.

He also said:
Even the most boring cases are fascinating to me…. I love the cloistered life — I was in the seminary. I love my law clerks. I have this wonderful work to do.
And, as summarized by David Lat:
Justice Thomas is patient enough to wait for history to catch up with him, comparing some of his jurisprudence to “a fine wine — it just needs aging.” He noted that it took the first Justice Harlan, author of the great dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, sixty years to be vindicated.

Obama's IYLYPYCKYP fix isn't legal.

Jonathan Adler argues:
According to various press reports, the Administration argues it may do this as a matter of enforcement discretion.... In other words, the Administration is not changing the law. It’s just announcing it will not enforce federal law....

Does this make the renewal of non-compliant policies legal? No. The legal requirement remains on the books so the relevant health insurance plans remain illegal under federal law....
I've got to run, but if I had more time I'd try to compare this to the efforts at "legalizing" marijuana in Washington and Colorado — a gigantic felonious conspiracy —  while the Justice Department says it won't enforce.

"John Oliver gets his own show — on HBO."

"HBO President Michael Lombardo said that the network wasn’t 'searching for another weekly talk show'..."

Oh, no? Because Bill Maher has been just awful.

"...  but aimed to snag Oliver after seeing him fill in as a guest host for Jon Stewart on 'The Daily Show' over the summer while Stewart directed a film."

True! Oliver deserves it, and I look forward to watching. 

The NYT acknowledges Obama's in trouble by reminding us that Bush was really, really bad. Remember?!!

At the website front page the teaser headline  — which is also the headline in the paper version — is:  "As Troubles Pile Up, a Crisis of Confidence for Obama." But if you click to the article, the headline becomes "Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Parallels to Bush’s Hurricane Response."

I can think of a whole bunch of non-parallels:

1. Bush's political party didn't design and enact Hurricane Katrina.

2. Bush didn't have 5 years to craft his response to the hurricane.

3. Bush didn't have the power to redesign the hurricane as he designed his response to it.

4. The Republican Bush believed he could not simply bully past the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and impose a federal solution, but the Democrat Obama and his party in Congress aggressively and voluntarily took over an area of policy that might have been left to the states.

5. The media were ready to slam Bush long and hard for everything — making big scandals out of things that, done by Obama, would have been forgotten a week later (what are the Valerie Plame-level screwups of Obama's?) — but the media have bent over backwards for years to help make Obama look good and to bury or never even uncover all of his lies and misdeeds.

6. If Bush experienced a disaster like the rollout of Obamacare, the NYT wouldn't use its front page to remind us of something Bill Clinton did that looked bad.

But let's check out the asserted parallels in that NYT article by Michael D. Shear:
The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.

But unlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn. 
Oh, well, that's another nonparallel. Republicans oppose Obama, unlike those Democrats who sometimes helped Bush. And the NYT reinforces my point #5 (above).

But think about it this way, NYT. What if Bush and the Republicans had created the hurricane, and the Democrats adamantly believed it would be better not to have a hurricane? Would the Democrats have been "occasionally cooperative" to Republicans who smugly announced that they won the election and they've been wanting this hurricane for 100 years and canceling the hurricane was not an option?
Republicans readily made the Hurricane Katrina comparison. 
Oh? Note the wording. It doesn't say that important Republicans were bringing up Katrina on their own. I suspect that the journalist, Shear, asked various Republicans to talk about Bush and Katrina and some of them did.
“The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie,” said Peter D. Feaver, a top national security official in Mr. Bush’s second term. “Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website.” 
Okay, so Shear got Feaver to put a name on the assertion that Republicans made the comparison. No other Republican is named. Shear moves on to Obama's "top aides" and tells us — here's my point #5 again —  that they stressed how unlike Katrina it is, since "Mr. Obama is struggling to extend health care to millions of people who do not have it. Those are very different issues."

I agree. The health care screwup isn't a natural disaster. Obama and the Democrats made their own disaster, stepping up to do something they should have known they weren't going to be able to do well, and they lied about what they were doing to get it passed.

And yet they meant well. They wanted to help people. Unlike Bush, who — what? — asked for that hurricane?

ADDED: My point #4, above, draws from this passage in Bush's "Decision Points" (previously blogged here):
If I invoked the Insurrection Act against [Governor Blanco's] wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African American city. That left me in a tough position. That would arouse controversy anywhere. To do so in the Deep South, where there had been centuries of states' rights tensions, could unleash holy hell.
And the NYT would have framed it that way (which is my point #5).

Insurance company insider says Obama's IYLYPYCKYP fix "doesn’t change anything other than force insurers to be the political flack jackets for the administration."

As quoted by Evan McMorris-Santoro at BuzzFeed and repeated in the headline.

What the hell is a "flack jacket"? A jacket to keep flacks away?

Perhaps he meant "flak jacket," I don't know. The flacks really have been annoying lately.

China changes its 1-child policy to allow 2 children if one parent was an only child.

I can't tell from the CNN report what happens where both parents were only children, but I'm guessing the rule is a maximum of 2 children, and that rule applies if either or both parents were only children.

And, for what it's worth: China announces it's abolishing labor camps. 

ADDED: Here's a more substantial article:

November 14, 2013

At the Princess Café...


... we've all got something to give.

"If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself..."

"... then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more."

Is Jonah Goldberg enjoying himself too much?

10 rules for writing about the 50th anniversary of the day John F. Kennedy was shot.

It's coming up next Friday, and I'd like to help with that op-ed or blog post you might have in the works.

1. Don't repeat the cliché that everyone who was around at the time remembers where he was and what he was doing when he heard the news.

2. Don't tell us — especially don't tell us as if it were not a big cliché — what you happened to have been doing and how you've always remembered that. After 50 years, can you not finally see that it doesn't matter?

3. Don't even attempt to say that the assassination had a profound effect on people. There is no new way to say that. We know!

4. Don't make up alternate histories of what would have happened if Kennedy had not been killed. Everything would have been different; we would all have been different. If you're American and under 50, you can assume that you would never have been born.

5.  Don't recount the conspiracy theories. Here's Wikipedia's article on the subject. If you're into that sort of thing, enjoy it some day in your spare time, but don't lard your 50th anniversary writings with that. It's tawdry and undignified, and we've heard it all a thousand times. And by "all," I don't really mean all. What's the one about the Federal Reserve? I just mean, if that's what you've found to talk about, just shut up.

6. Don't connect the story of JFK to Obama. I know it seems as though everything is about Obama, but resist. It's cheap and inappropriate.

7. Don't tell us about other Kennedys. Don't drag in the recent news that Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's son Jack appears to have reached adulthood in nonugly form and has grown a large head of hair and is therefore presumptive presidential material. That's annoying and off-topic.

8. Don't commemorate murder. A man managed to kill the President. He's already gotten far too much press. He doesn't deserve our endless attention. I'm sick of "celebrating" a death day. We don't make anything of Lincoln's death day. We celebrate his birthday, like Washington's, because he was such a great President. We don't celebrate JFK's birthday — I don't even know what it is — because he was not great enough. We celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday, not the day he was assassinated. Why? Because of his greatness, and because we don't want to direct our attention toward his murder. So why do we focus on Kennedy's death day? It must be because he was not great enough, and because of points #1, #2, and #3, above. It's about ourselves. A man died and we morbidly relive it annually, for some reason that must make little sense to those under 50.

9. Do write to end the annual ritual of death commemoration. Nail down the coffin lid and give the dead President some peace. Inspire us to move on to modest acknowledgements of the date at 10 or 25 year intervals up until 2063, when we — those of us who survive — can go big for the centennial.

10. Do make it — if not original — short.

"At 35, I still want to save sex for someone who is mutually in love with me and who accepts my virginity as a gift."

"After so many years of holding out, I can’t change now. I just hope my hopes don’t go stale before he shows up or, perhaps more important, before I recognize that he’s been hanging around, waiting, the whole time."

Writes Amanda McCracken in a NYT op-ed, which also contains the sentence, "I like being naked with boyfriends." And "I’ve happily taken on a dominatrix role and men have enjoyed it." So take that into account as process her evidence of the psychology of preserving virginity. Maybe this shouldn't be called "virginity" at all. It's more of a sexual orientation that excludes intercourse. Which I'm not knocking, by the way.

What's happening with charging smokers extra under Obamacare?

I was noticing this in an old post:
The Affordable Care Act... allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting [Jan. 2014]. For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.
At the time, I wondered about picking only on smokers and also whether this sort of targeting would move on to other sinners in the Religion of Health.

But now I'm just wondering who will admit to smoking? When they're fiddling around on a website that's known to be a disaster and they see they'll pay thousands more if they check "yes" for smoking, are they really going to resist switching to "no"?

The whole system was built on a lie — IYLYPYCKYP — and the system provokes and antagonizes people who are being trusted to be truthful. And you know smokers are rebels.

ADDED: That James O'Keefe Project Veritas video has Obamacare "navigators" advising the undercover investigator to lie about smoking: "You lie because your premiums will be higher... Don’t tell them that.... I always lie on mine."

"But as you sit there sipping wine and eating pork belly, watching a marathon of The Sopranos — which sounds like a very nice evening..."

"... keep in mind that the distance between you and some imagined figure pounding Mountain Dew and Quarter Pounders while watching hours of Pawn Stars is not so vast."

Willa Paskin, tweaking the snobbish consciences of Slate readers
who may have lost touch with old-fashioned it-will-rot-your-brain snobbery about watching too much television.

"It’s Not a Trap."

Writes Jeffrey H. Anderson at the National Review, reacting to Erick Erickson's "It's a Trap" at RedState.

So the righties are in conflict over the proposed legislation fix for the IYLYPYCKYP problem.

ADDED: If Erickson were right, wouldn't Obama have refrained from offering a fix that does not require congressional action?

Nudging in the U.K.: labeling stairwells in public buildings with calorie counts.

"Using a dedicated website and app, people will be able to scan 'smart signs' on stairs and track their number of calories burnt over time."
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “Anything that gets people more active and helps tackle obesity is a good thing in my book. This initiative is a great mix of old fashioned common sense and smart technology to track and incentivise.”

StepJockey got a £50 million government grant for that website and app. Its founder Helen Nuki says:
"The world is a gym and we aim to label it as such. It has the added benefit of cutting carbon emissions by reducing the number of lift journeys."
Ah, these Brits, always leading the way. Shakespeare wrote:
All the world's a gym,
And all the men and women merely gymrats:
They have their sidewalks and their stairwells;
And one man in his time burns many calories...

"It’s possible that the myth of the lone genius on his crag is so romantic that readers, authors, and critics can’t help but subscribe to it, at least somewhat."

"I don’t care for it a bit myself, and subscribe instead to the Edward Lear view: 'You earnest Sage! aloud they cried, your book you’ve read enough in!/We wish to chop you into bits to mix you into Stuffin’!')"

From an essay by Maria Bustillos about whether book reviewers ought to be nice.

Feminism/racism in the Lily Allen comeback video "Hard Out Here."

I don't care about this kind of music and dance, and I've never paid any attention to this lady who — I see — went away and has come back, but I've been interested in the ins and outs of the discourse of feminism since before Ms. was a magazine. And I've been observing American racial politics at least since I was 10 years old, when Life magazine featured photographs like these. Everyone read Life, but not every 10 year old had, set out next to Life on the family coffee table, the latest issue of Playboy.

So indulge me while I take a look at the race trouble that's befallen Ms. Allen and inquire into soundness of her "I'm protesting the objectification of women" story. Here's the video that went up 2 days ago and has over 2 million views.

(I have no idea whether that viewership represents actual hunger for more from an artist who'd been away for a while or virality over this race-and-sex controversy to which I'm contributing.)

The video begins with the singer submitting to the violent intrusions of the liposuction wand while a mean old white businessman type guy harangues her about her body. The lyrics bitch about all the pressure to "lose some weight 'cause we can't see your bones" and "fix your face or you'll end up on your own/Don't you want to have somebody who objectifies you?" The chorus is "It's hard out here for a bitch/It's hard, for a bitch."

So, you see, it's pretty basic, mainstream, contemporary, young-person feminism: complaining about the way other people make her obsess about her body all the time. Of course, she proceeds to show off her body and the bodies of many other females, dancing in the manner that she's supposedly so outraged about those terrible other people causing to happen. Let's leave to the side the hypocrisy and lameness of feminism like that, because Allen's in trouble about race.

Here's Ayesha A. Siddiqi writing in Vice.
In full-sleeved dresses Allen mocks her inability to twerk amidst women of color in body suits who launch into exaggerated dance moves, licking their hands and then rubbing their crotch. Her older white male manager tries to get to her to mimic them. Meanwhile she sings, “Don’t need to shake my ass for you/‘Cause I’ve got a brain.”....

It is not feminist to mock talented dancers of color for exercising skills Allen doesn’t possess. It is not feminist to claim that women who cook and dance provocatively are as damaging as a manager barking at her to lose weight. It is not feminist to remain blissfully colorblind in a world that functions along race.

As long as white womens’ empowerment requires lowering everyone else their “feminism” is just rebranded white supremacy.

November 13, 2013

"SECRET: I DO NOT multitask! I give what I'm doing full attention, with integrity and focus."

"Reason I've had success in clutteredmanic world," tweets Matt Drudge, whose task seems to be making the world more manic and cluttered for the rest of us. Ironic!

Only 26,794 have been able to sign up through the federal health insurance exchange in its first month.

These come from the 36 states that are not running their own exchanges. There are also 79,391 who have signed up using the 15 exchanges set up by the remaining states and the District of Columbia.
The numbers represent a fraction of the half-million health-plan enrollees that the Obama administration had initially projected, before the Web site’s rocky rollout thwarted many shoppers’ attempts to sign up for insurance. Budget forecasters previously projected that 7 million people would enroll in coverage during the open enrollment period for the insurance exchanges, which runs until March 31.

At Max's Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

"A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans' personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project..."

The debt was purchased for $400,000.
Andrew Ross, a member of Strike Debt and professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University... said the group had received letters from people whose debt they had lifted thanking them for the service. But the real victory was in spreading knowledge of the nature of the debt industry, he said.

"Very few people know how cheaply their debts have been bought by collectors. It changes the psychology of the debtor, knowing this. So when you get called up by the debt collector, and you're being asked to pay the full amount of your debt, you now know that the debt collector has bought your debt very, very cheaply. As cheaply as we bought it. And that gives you moral ammunition to have a different conversation with the debt collector."

"Well, I am 85 - and was online before many of you were born, or 'the Internet' was even available."

"I bought one of the first Radio Shack Model 1 computer in 1978, had it connected - by dialup modem - by 1979 I was operating the first computer 'Bulletin Board' in Colorado Springs," says a man named dave19, commenting at a WaPo article titled "Gap between those who use Internet and those who don’t is widening."

He continues:

"In the mid-1970s, the tiny Canadian town of Dauphin... acted as guinea pig for a grand experiment in social policy called 'Mincome.'"

"For a short period of time, all the residents of the town received a guaranteed minimum income. About 1,000 poor families got monthly checks to supplement their earnings."
Evelyn Forget, a health economist at the University of Manitoba, has done some of the best research on the results. Some of her findings were obvious: Poverty disappeared. But others were more surprising: High-school completion rates went up; hospitalization rates went down. “If you have a social program like this, community values themselves start to change,” Forget said.
Evelyn Forget is such a great name that I almost want to believe what she's selling. But I'm one of those people who fear the lost incentive to work. I remember a professor here at UW some years ago propounding a guaranteed minimum income of $20,000. He just assumed most people would work so they could have more than that. What if you were just starting out in life and knew you could go work-free if you were willing to live on $20,000?

I'm sure if that deal were offered to me when I was 20, I'd have taken it. I'd have worked at living on that $20,000. Oh, yes, eventually I might have wanted to write a book called "How to Live Well on $20,000 a Year" — because it would have amused me and I wouldn't have minded some extra spending money.

But who knows what the psychology of it all would be? It's one thing to experiment on a tiny town in Manitoba, but what happens when it gets bigger... and less Canadian?

"Grasshoppers boiled in every direction, ricocheting off my face and chest."

"Some latched on to my bare arms and a few tangled their spiny legs into my hair. Others began to crawl into my clothing — beneath my shorts, under my collar. They worked their way into the gaps between shirt buttons, pricking my chest, sliding down my sweaty torso. For the first time in my life as an entomologist, I panicked."

Jeffrey Lockwood, in "The Infested Mind," quoted at The Dish.

Too bad that book's not out on Kindle. I ended up buying "Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects," which is.

ADDED: "Wicked Bugs" also uses the verb "to boil" to describe grasshoppers:

Only "46% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the president purposely misled Americans about the potential impact of the health care law."

"45% disagree and think Obama honestly expected the law to work out the way he said it would" and 10% don't know, according to a new Rasmussen poll.
Seventy-four percent (74%) of Democrats believe the president was saying what he honestly expected to happen. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans and 51% of voters not affiliated with either major party think the president was deliberately misleading the country....

Younger voters are much less critical of the administration’s response than voters 40 and over are. Most voters under 40 think the president was honestly mistaken about the impact of the health care law.....
This is great news for Obama, considering how bad the lie was, all the press it's getting, and the extra incitement to anger caused by the horrible website. I'd say he's taken the worst hits, and now has no reason to (pretend to) try to keep "promises" made to that small — what is it, 15 million? — set of persons who liked the — substandard! — health insurance they had. Triage, baby. The death panel says: Let those broken promises die. Palliative care only. The website is what must be saved.

The important thing — for those who want Obamacare to succeed — is to continue to pull everyone into the system. The people are well on their way to processing what might be new information — it's not true that some folks get to stay out — so ignore them while they work through their stages of grief. All the effort should go into the website, the intake point to the system that all must enter.

If you don't want Obamacare to succeed, you can keep pounding the Democrats over the lies and broken promises, but I think your hopes are in rooting that the website will remain in its permanent vegetative state as various deadlines come and go and next year's election comes around, and then maybe you can get your mitts on that pullable plug.

"Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s apology doesn’t pass the drishti test."

Well, there's a headline. That's in the Washington Post. I don't know what a "drishti test" is, but I got a laugh watching the "I’m sad/I’m really sad" apology video. What's he apologizing for? He said —explaining the transparency of some of his company's yoga pants — "Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work," and "It’s about the rubbing through the thighs."

I see the article explains "drishti" — which Wilson "should be aware of." It's "the gaze — outward and inward — that a yogi is supposed to apply to life."

Oh, you don't need any fancy-schmancy mystical stuff to know that if your low-quality-high-price scheme is exposed along with some ladies' asses, you shouldn't point out that the asses are fat. Having goofed that up, how should you keep the cash flowing, now that the ladies you've lured into overpaying know that your sucking up to them was just a sham? I sort of like his "I'm sad/I'm really sad" routine. It's like he's living and being real, right there on camera. Of course, it's bullshit. And is he really sorry? I sort of suspect that he's glad he got the message out that: "some women’s bodies just actually don’t work." Our clothes are not for everyone. Just the special women. The best women. 

It's the snobbery that justifies the price. Are you good enough for Lululemon?

"I mean, I don’t know why people should hate me because it’s just a photo. I didn’t design the Web site."

"I didn’t make it fail, so I don’t think they should have any reasons to hate me."

So... I guess it's also not okay to hate these people.

"Well, you know, I don't want to put the men senators down. There are some really great men senators here..."

"... but I do see women working collaboratively and listening more to people to try to find their core common ground to get something done."

"Whatever Bill Clinton’s motives — Republicans say he is distancing his wife, Hillary Clinton, from the ObamaCare debacle in advance of a White House run..."

Says Jonathan Easley at The Hill in a piece titled "Obama is boxed in by Bill Clinton."

Do we really need Republicans to explain that Bill is out to help Hillary? How could anyone begin to analyze Bill Clinton's remarks about Obamacare without the assumption that he's positioning Hillary for 2016?

Now, Bill's main quote was: "I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, that the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they’ve got." And I think we know that it's not really possible to keep Obamacare and somehow force private insurance companies to re-activate all the plans that have been canceled. What Bill is really saying is Obama lied. Obama made promises he knew would be broken, because that's what it took to get the government's health-care machine going.

Hillarycare failed, but the up side of that is that Hillary isn't loaded with the political damage that had to happen in the process of dragging everyone into the machine. That's all on Obama. Millions feel the pain and the anger as the big machine grinds into motion and pulls them in. In retrospect, it's a benefit to Hillary that Obama got the win in '08 and that his name went on the "care" that's hurting so much.

Once Obamacare is in motion and everybody's in and the screaming at the intake point has given way to muffled groaning from inside the grinding machinery, a beneficent Hillary will sweep forward with plans for easing that pain. The competent one is here at last, now that you're all in there and can't complain to her about that nasty, deceitful intake process.

ADDED: Jonathan Cohn explains how "Bill Clinton Is Wrong" about "How Obamacare Works." But Cohn is assuming (or pretending) that Bill isn't smart, devious, and political (which I'm taking for granted).

"When I was little, I thought you'd live forever..."

"I was a stupid kid...."

(Via Metafilter.)

The "quiet dignity" of 4 World Trade Center.

Not to be confused with 1 World Trade Center — the 1776-foot-tall "Freedom Tower" — 4 World Trade Center is designed to reflect the reflecting pools that occupy the place where the original Twin Towers stood. The video is worth waiting out a the commercial. I especially enjoyed the views of the interior and the modest, gentle expressiveness of the architect Gary Kamemoto. Listen for what he says about craftsmen.

"As architects, if we push and try to do something extraordinary and give the workers that opportunity, we see that everybody is wanting to prove their trade."

Let me explain what Richard Cohen, a person of conventional views, meant by "People with conventional views."

I gestured at the Richard Cohen vortex last evening, and I wasn't going to help silly people with their nonproblem, but I woke up feeling a little merciful, so, here, let me help.

As far as I can tell — and I'm guessing because I don't see the value of looking too long into chaos — the younger generation just doesn't read the word "conventional" the same way we oldies do. (I'm 62, and Cohen is 72.) The sentence that got him in trouble with the sensitive youths of America was:
People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.
I suspect that Cohen thought he'd found a cute and clever way to kick conservatives and had zero reason to think that his readers would do anything other than assume that he was kicking conservatives, since that's what liberals always do. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would think that old Cohen would do anything other than state a... conventional view.

Okay. See what I did? I used "conventional" in the pejorative way that oldies do. I happen to like to kick liberals, mostly because they think so damned well of themselves and I find that tedious and cloying.

Richard Cohen — the one we're talking about here (i.e., not my ex-husband) — is the sort of liberal who says the usual things that liberals say. It's quite dull. Why would he suddenly be anything else? To me, he is conventional, a conventional liberal, and older folks think we're sticking in the dagger when we call people "conventional."

But when Cohen (complacently, predictably liberal) said "conventional views," he didn't mean liberals, even though liberals (including, notably, him) are quite conventional. He meant those other guys — the bad guys — and he had no idea that anyone could think of him as anything other than one of the good guys — the liberals — because that's how conventional he was!

Now, I will close the door on these boring people and let them fight amongst themselves. I hope they benefit from the exercise and emerge from it with more vigor and discernment.

November 12, 2013

"The liberal Internet has been in a righteously indignant tizzy (my favorite kind) today over a new column from Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen..."

"... (there’s even a hashtag, #FireRichardCohen, for ease of expression). Cohen has long been derided for lame op-ed writing and general 'unreconstructed,' 'power-worshiping' bigotry. But many readers and critics, including my Slate colleague Matthew Yglesias, apparently found today’s piece — a familiar rehearsal of the resistance Chris Christie, a relative moderate, might encounter during a GOP presidential campaign in more socially conservative contests like Iowa and South Carolina — to be the final, actionable offense."

Good lord! Liberals got themselves into a vortex.

I just wanted to say — as I've said before...
That's WaPo columnist Richard Cohen, or as we call him around here: the never-slept-with-Althouse Richard Cohen.
UPDATE: I wrote another post on this topic, here.

At your Afternoon Dog Café...


... everything is perfect in the last of today's light.

"'Don’t Get Screwed By Obamacare, Find A Sugar Daddy!' Says Dating Website."

Okay, I agree that's pretty sleazy.

But I'm not sure I'm allowed to complain, because back in the summer of 2008, I said this:

And that was picked up right here by Meade — I talk back to him here — whom I married just about exactly one year later.

ADDED: Still waiting on the sonata!

"I've been around iron all my life ever since I was a kid. I was born and raised in iron ore country - where you could breathe it and smell it every day."

"And I've always worked with it in one form or another. Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways there is no difference."

Said Bob Dylan, who's been welding iron gates.

I read that quote out loud to Meade, and he sang in his best "Another Side" Dylan voice:
Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me
“How good, how good does it feel to be free?”
And I answer them most mysteriously
“Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”

"'Sobbing' Hugo Lindgren Stuns New York Times Magazine Staff... This was not an amicable separation."

"Sources close to the paper’s upper masthead confirmed to Gawker that executive editor Jill Abramson had voiced dissatisfaction with Lindgren’s direction of the magazine over the past several months."

James O’Keefe exposes some Obamacare "navigators."

Description and video here.

Tracing "Valley Girl" type "uptalk" back to Dust-Bowl era Okies...

... using the evidence of a recording of a 1940 interview with Woody Guthrie.
I should also forestall the readers who will respond "But it doesn't sound like Woody Guthrie is asking questions!" by asking them to apply the same judgment to Taylor Mali's famous "Totally like whatever" screed. And then to tell me what the difference between "yes/no question rises" and other sorts of final rises really is — after reading this.

"Who paints like that?"

Says Meade, critiquing my step stool.


I defend myself: "It's Pollockesque. I don't know that I did that painting walls. That maybe happened down in the studio. That might be gesso."

"Chinese farmer saws off his own legs as insurance will not cover medical costs."

"Zheng Yanliang spent much of the last 18 months sitting in a wheelchair in his Hebei farmhouse, a sheet concealing his ruined legs. His mother could not bear to look at the protruding bones...."
Finally in April of last year, when his family was away, Zheng took a small fruit knife and a saw to his own legs. He chomped down on a towel wrapped around a backscratcher. He cut off his left foot at the ankle and severed his right leg at the thigh....

Horror stories like Zheng's keep making the headlines on the mainland, exposing gaps in the country's health safety net, even as authorities trumpet the health care reforms that have provided 95 per cent of the population some basic health insurance....

"While the craze over regional mascots continues, recent mishaps involving some characters shows not everything is rosy in the 'yuru-kyara' (soft character) industry."

The Japan Times reports:
Late last month, the city of Tosu, Saga Prefecture, population of 72,000, halted all PR activities tied to its official character, Totto-chan... made several comments suggestive of female genitalia during the show....

Hyakuman-san, the official character of Ishikawa Prefecture... became a bone of contention in the prefectural assembly last month, after some members attacked the design of the Daruma doll-inspired, mustachioed mascot as being “ugly” and “unpleasant.”
You call this unpleasant?

That is essence of pleasant in my book.

Daruma doll, eh?

I'd say more like somebody took LSD and found and found an old can of Pringles.

Is this the last of the numerically interesting dates of the earlier 21st century?

Today is 11/12/13.

When your dog drags home a human leg, what do you do?

1. Call the police, or 2. Bury the leg.

"I don't believe the two ships pass in the night. I believe they collide. And the state has a bigger ship, so we will win."

Said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley who used the cliché "two ships passing in the night" to refer to the opponents' arguments about the constitutionality of the collective bargaining reforms made back in 2010 and previously considered by the court in 2011. The lawyer on the other side came up with:
"With all due respect to the attorney general, the Titanic was a big ship, too.... What Act 10 has run into is the Wisconsin Constitution, and it has violated the Wisconsin Constitution."

When China got tough on the purveyors of shoddy statuettes of Chairman Mao.

This is a news story from 2010:
... Mao's hometown of Shaoshan sold 124 million yuan (£12.4 million) worth of trinkets last year, of which almost three-quarters were Mao statuettes. But buyers have complained that some Mao statues do not even resemble the founder of modern China and that substandard statues have melted in the heat or chipped easily.

"The new guidelines include a ban on plastic and plaster because plastic deforms and plaster is easy to break," said the head of the Standardisation department at Hunan province's Quality Supervision Bureau, who declined to give his name.

"We will have a team of art and craft experts working with factories to determine the likeness of the statues, based on photographs of Chairman Mao in historic moments, in order to decide which ones are authentically Mao," he added.
If they really cared about standards, they wouldn't revere Mao, but who's buying these things? Tourists?

I ran across that article yesterday while looking for a photograph of the statuette I saw in a house in Madison that was staged for sale.

What paper are you using for your drawings these days?

For example, Ben Blake draws on coffee filters.

Decades ago, on the theory that it's the best paper, I used to draw on money. Then I got scared that it violated a criminal statute, and I chickened out. The limitations period is long past, so don't come after me, feds.

What nonpaper are you using for your incredibly lame little confessions these days? I'm using Blogger.

Amazon gets the Postal Service to do Sunday deliveries.

And WaPo calls it "Amazon’s brilliant plan to rescue the Postal Service and disrupt the shipping industry."
Amazon could have offered to pay the Postal Service for carrying more of its packages generally, and USPS would have gotten a much-needed injection of cash....

By launching Sunday deliveries, the Postal Service has moved to where its longtime competitors aren't. Hardly anybody in any industry delivers on Sunday, with the exception of newspapers. As a business idea....

The other reason it's disruptive? This is one of the few cases we've seen of what we'll call reverse contracting — when the private sector hires a government agency to fill its need rather than the other way around. 
This might be a good place to remind you of the brilliance of the Amazon Associates Program, which lets you make a cost-free contribution to writers like me. (The "shop Amazon" link is always at the top of this blog in the banner.)

In 6 weeks, only 40,000 have signed up through — if "signing up" means putting a plan in your "shopping cart."

"That amount is a tiny fraction of the total projected enrollment for the 36 states where the federal government is running the online health-care exchange, indicating the slow start to the president’s initiative."

Though the number is inflated with those who haven't actually purchased a plan, it's not not additionally puffed up with those who signed up for Medicaid. That number is said to be 440,000, which means only 8.3% of those who have managed to use the website are actually buying health insurance, and 91.6% have used it to access a welfare program.
A spokesman for the insurance industry’s main trade group said the slow early enrollment does not matter as much as how many sign up by the spring. “That’s what will determine how well these reforms are going to work,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for the group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The insurance industry has a substantial stake in who enrolls, as well as how many do so. Unless enough young, healthy Americans sign up, the cost of coverage is likely to escalate — in turn, discouraging people from getting or keeping coverage.
So the number — 40,000 — is dismal, but if it turns out these are disproportionally the sort of person who will be using a lot of health care services — and don't you think they are? — that's an even bigger problem.

By the way, what's with "young, healthy"? I understand "healthy," but why "young"? If we're going to use stereotypes and generalizations about the groups of people who are less likely to incur health-care costs, why stop at "young"? Why not say "Unless enough young, healthy, male Americans sign up"?

November 11, 2013

"Like Barbie, Ken is from Willows, Wisc."

#5 of "15 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Ken."

As for surprising things you don't know about Althouse, I was an early adopter of the Ken doll. I have the original version, with his original swim trunks. Unfortunately, he has no other clothes, as I spent all my doll clothes money on Barbie, who — additional misfortune — never had a bathing suit, having been originally purchased in Nighty Negligee Barbie form.

"My doctor told me that it was fine to fly up until the third trimester, so when I was five months pregnant I decided to take one last big trip... to Mongolia."

"People were alarmed when I told them where I was going, but I was pleased with myself.
I liked the idea of being the kind of woman who’d go to the Gobi Desert pregnant, just as, at twenty-two, I’d liked the idea of being the kind of girl who’d go to India by herself.... I liked sitting in a booth in a dark room full of smoking, gay Mongolians, but my body was feeling strange.... When I woke up the next morning, the pain in my abdomen was insistent....

Real estate is a subtle matter.

Who knows what will warm the heart of the buyer? It depends on the context. When you "stage" your house, what do you leave out and what do you put away? Let's say you had one of these:

Out or in? Assume Madison, Wisconsin.

Charles P. Pierce — who "back[s] up to nobody in my respect and love for The Master" — is irked that somebody else is writing about Bob Dylan.

"Songs of his I could not understand in my youth mean more to me now than a lot of Scripture does," but when he reads Elizabeth Wurtzel expressing all manner of reverence for Dylan, Pierce shifts to being one of the many here among us who feel that Dylan is but a joke. "Desolation Row" —  for just this one moment — becomes "one of the great stand-up comedy routines." Because nothing's funnier than a heart-attack machine.

At the Midday Snow Café...

... the autumn leaves have piled up (submerging the pumpkins of yesterday), and the pre-winter snowflakes bestow glittering promises of what is to come.

"On Sunday the protest artist Petr Pavlensky sat naked on Red Square and drove a nail through his scrotum and into the pavement."

"Pavlensky had staged disturbing protests before."
In July of last year, he sewed his mouth shut and stood outside a cathedral in St. Petersburg in a show of solidarity with the jailed art collective Pussy Riot. In May he had himself wrapped, naked, in a cocoon of barbed wire and placed on the steps of the St. Petersburg legislature. He lay immobile while the police hunted for a pair of garden shears, severed the wire and then struggled to avoid being cut themselves. That time Pavlensky was protesting a series of restrictions on freedom of speech and of assembly....

Each of these actions required the police to deal with Pavlensky’s body — something Russian law enforcement officials almost never have to do, even though they routinely mangle, maim and kill protesters, convicts and perceived violators of rules and laws.

"I pledge to be a servant to our President."

From January 2009, offered today for your amusement/outrage/nostalgia.

Meade pointed me to that just now, and it made me laugh (and cringe). I knew I'd already talked about an Obama nostalgia movement — here, 3 days ago — but I see I was talking about it as far back as October 2011.
I know you may scoff and say that every single reference to the abstractions and fuzzy feelings of 3 years ago will only draw derision and intensify the pain. But there's so much pain... At some point, won't people want to take the drug that worked so well that other time. What intense pleasure! What brilliant hallucinations! It calls to you.
Ouch. At the time, the old video I highlighted was Michelle Obama's 2008 line "Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

Barack will never allow you to go back.... But what if you want to go back... back to the day when a line like Barack will never allow you to go back did not feel like a warning... but you can't go back... Barack will never allow you to go back... 

Writing this, I played an old song in my head:
I think I'm goin' back
To the things I learned so well in my youth
I think I'm returning to
Those days when I was young enough to know the truth

"Imagine America, which was prepared and very rich, still had a lot of challenges at the time of Hurricane Katrina, but what we had was three times more than what they received."

"We’re afraid that it’s going to get dangerous in town because relief goods are trickling in very slow... I know it’s a massive, massive undertaking to try to feed a town of over 150,000 people. They need to bring in shiploads of food."

"You know life has changed when you’re hanging out with Jane Fonda backstage."

"There is no greater embodiment of being outspoken on behalf of what you believe in — and being 'all in' in every way — than Jane Fonda. And it’s a huge honor just to even briefly have shared the stage with her."

Said U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power.

"He came in with his right hand raised and basically kept it raised the entire semester," said Alan Dershowitz about Ted Cruz.

"Every year you see two or three [Harvard Law] students who you know are natural leaders. Everybody saw that with Barack Obama . . . Everybody saw that with Elena Kagan. There are students who come in with charismatic qualities who other people follow. He was one of them."

But how much easier to be the leader at Harvard when you are voicing liberal opinions!

What if you bitched on Facebook about the raw deal you got under Obamacare and nobody "liked" you?

Shocked at the new and worse deal she was offered under Obamacare, Lori Gottlieb wrote an item titled "Obamacare or Kafkacare?” on Facebook. Facebook is a website that — unlike — works, so she expected lots of "likes." She liked her old insurance, and Obama said if you like it, you can keep it.

Like, like, like!

Everything is, like, about liking these days, and Lori must have thought she was likeable enough, but nobody liked her.
Instead, aside from my friend David, who attempted to cheer me up with, “My dad, who never turns down a bargain, would take the sex change just because it’s free,” my respondents implied — in posts that, to my annoyance, kept getting more “likes” — that it was beyond uncool to be whining about myself when the less fortunate would finally have insurance.

“The nation has been better off,” wrote one friend. “Over 33 million people who did not have insurance are now going to get it.” That’s all fine and good for “the nation,” but what about my $5,400 rate hike (after-tax dollars, I wanted to add, but dared not in this group of previously closeted Mother Teresas)? Another friend wrote, “Yes, I’m paying an extra 200 a month, but I’m okay with doing that so that others who need it can have health care.”

I was shocked. Who knew my friends were such humanitarians? Has Obamacare made it un-P.C. to be concerned by a serious burden on my family’s well-being?
Gottlieb got seriously burned, but had she really never noticed this form of liberal disciplining before? It's funny to act surprised that these people are suddenly "such humanitarians," but she's experiencing heightened awareness because $5,400 is so specific and real, and she, in her personal anger, made the mistake of thinking her "friends" (Facebook friends) were people of empathy toward individual others. But sober observation should have taught her that left-liberals expect individual self-sacrifice for the good of the group.

It will be interesting to see how that website that works, Facebook, will process the stories of individuals burned by Obamacare. Ironically, Gottlieb is nudging Facebookers not to complain if they find themselves losers. Hers is a cautionary tale: You will not be liked. But perhaps enough stories will break through the fear of not being likeable, and a tipping point will be reached. There could be a cascade of liking not liking Obamacare.

"The family of writer Gore Vidal has hinted he had sex with underage men in claims that have surfaced as they contest his $37 million will."

What's the connection between the validity of a man's will and evidence of criminal sexual behavior? Gore Vidal left all his money to Harvard University and the family is irked. Now — after it's too late to punish the man for any crimes he may have committed — they're leaking this material?

I would infer that he did not do the things the disappointed, would-be heirs are talking about. Wouldn't he have been more likely to leave them money if he'd had a motivation to shut them up? He left them pissed and litigious. That speaks of a clean conscience!

I'm noticing this story this morning because of the way it's trumpeted in The Daily News, but the source is this far more sedate article from 3 days ago in the NYT. The NYT begins with the news that Vidal kept a fire burning even on hot days, because he had a titanium knee and had experienced hypothermia in the Army in WWII. The second paragraph details the decor of his living room where he died. We learn about the chair where he, in his elderly weakness, peed.

A pissed and litigious disappointed would-be heir is described as "not angry... but... bruised and resigned." Vidal's gift to Harvard is portrayed as the product of dementia. I see that Vidal did not attend Harvard. He went into the Army instead and later quipped: "What was the point of going into another institution when I had already written my first novel?"

Eventually, you arrive at the material the Daily News cherry-picked, about a nephew Burr Steers and his mother, Vidal's half-sister Nina Straight. Straight claims to have paid a million unreimbursed dollars into Vidal's lawsuit against William F. Buckley. Buckley had called Vidal "a queer," but why sue when, in fact, one is homosexual? Truth is a defense to defamation, even if the truth is stated nastily. Here's the buried story:


Writing the previous post, quoting the original Armistice Day proclamation, fixing on the word "sanguinary," I noticed that I had not looked a word up in the Oxford English Dictionary in a long time. Of course, I know that "sanguinary" means bloody, but what would motivate anyone to use the word "sanguinary," instead of "bloody"?

One reason is that "bloody" "has long had taboo status, and for many speakers constituted the strongest expletive available... Following the original use in England, Scotland, and Ireland, the sense spread to most other parts of the English-speaking world, with the notable exception of the United States, where it has apparently only ever achieved limited currency, e.g. among sailors during the 19th cent." (I'm quoting the OED, which I cannot link.)

So, "sanguinary" is a useful word for avoiding offense to those who take offense, and the OED even officially defines "sanguinary" — at definition #4, slang — as "a jocular euphemism for bloody adj., n., and adv., in reports of vulgar speech." Examples:
1800   S. T. Coleridge Coll. Lett. (1956) I. 564   This Extract breathed the spirit of the most foul & sanguinary Aristocracy—& depend upon it, Sheridan is a thorough-paced bad man!
1890   R. Kipling in Macmillan's Mag. LXI. 155/1   This is sanguinary. This is unusual sanguinary. Sort o' mad country....
1910   G. B. Shaw Lett. to Granville Barker (1956) 168   The inhabitants raise up their voices and call one another sanguinary liars.
I'm not suggesting that Woodrow Wilson, in his original Armistice Day proclamation, intended to attach the suggestion of an obscenity to "war" — the noun modified by "sanguinary" — though it is common enough to call war an obscenity.

The first meaning for "sanguinary" is "Attended by bloodshed; characterized by slaughter; bloody," and the second is "Bloodthirsty; delighting in carnage." The first meaning for "bloody" is "Containing blood; composed or consisting of blood; resembling blood," which, interestingly, is less emotive than the original meaning of "sanguinary." So "sanguinary" can be considered more apt — quite aside from any desire to avoid a frisson of obscenity.

"Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals..."

"... and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and..."
... it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.... the President of the United States is... inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
Today is Veterans Day, the original observance — based on the text — demonstrating friendly relations with all other peoples.

What would be an appropriate ceremony of friendly relations with all other peoples?

November 10, 2013

"Is he a fool or is he lying? I'm leaning toward lying..."

Here's an old post of mine, from July 21, 2009:
"You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about."

Obama answering the question: "Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?"

Is he a fool or is he lying?

I'm leaning toward lying because of the way his answer emphasizes keeping insurance — which (I think) the bill permits — and avoids talking about writing new policies — which (I think) it forbids.
AND: Remember Obama's program to collect information on "fishy" things people were saying about Obamacare?

ALSO: From August 2009, a discussion of how the health-care debate would have gone if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency:
She wouldn't have blithely assumed Americans would quietly accept the vast, complex restructuring of health care that the congressional Democrats dumped on us. Obama naively thought that he was enough, and the more-liberal-than-America Democrats imagined they could get by on the magic of our admiration for the charming new President, who would look even lovelier as he amassed glittering accomplishments. Wouldn't he be wonderful? Wouldn't America be wonderful to have elected such a fine man President?
MORE: Now, this is what I was really looking for when I went back into my old posts under the Obamacare tag. I took a "cold look" at a speech Obama gave on September 9, 2009. I quoted him:



"Survivors 'Walk Like Zombies' After Philippine Typhoon Kills Estimated 10,000."

"Super typhoon Haiyan destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte province on Friday.... As rescue workers struggled to reach ravaged villages along the coast, where the death toll is as yet unknown, survivors foraged for food or searched for lost loved ones."

Chris Christie, being all Governor of New Jersey + presumptive presidential candidate, on all the Sunday shows.

Did you watch? I did. All of them — if "Fox News Sunday," "Face the Nation," and "Meet the Press" constitute all of them, as they do in my DVR. Did he say anything memorable? Well, he kept saying he was about being the Governor of New Jersey and simultaneously doing a performance of "This Is How I'll Look Running for President."

"The foolish leader, the two normal people who realize how foolish the leader is but are inhibited from saying so, and the creepy suck-up."

A template for fictional characters proposed by my son John in an iChat discussion about "Flight of the Conchords":
When I first saw the show, I felt like, "well, I'm not that interested in the two main characters, so I probably won't like the show very much."... It's weird for those 2 characters to be so central, yet I see almost no differentiation between them. In any given episode, Brett might be acting differently from Jemaine. But it doesn't seem to be part of any larger character trait — "oh, that's so Brett!"
I said: "sometimes having a bland center works as a plot device. i learned that when I studied 'tom jones' in high school." John said:
[Brett and Jemaine are] kind of like Jim and Pam on The Office. And Michael Scott is like Murray. And Mel is a lot like Dwight. Those 4 fit the same basic template.
So there's the more general idea of the dull central character (or characters) and the more specific idea of 2 bland central characters with 2 livelier characters, one of whom is the foolish leader and the other who's some kind of weird suck-up. Examples?

"Who knew that the world-famous sex therapist was sent to Switzerland with a group of German-Jewish children in 1938, when she was ten years old..."

"... and was treated like a servant there? Or that her entire family was killed by the Nazis? Or that she moved to Palestine as a teen-ager and became a sniper in the Haganah? Who knew that her success as a radio-show host was due to a vow she made to herself to 'repair the world' because she survived the Nazis, when more than a million Jewish children didn’t?"

Good luck getting the trans fat out of microwave popcorn.

If the FDA proposal goes through. It's not easy.

"We've mastered it, and I'm not going to tell you how we did it," says a spokesperson for Orville Redenbacher (AKA ConAgra.) It took them 4 years "a lot of money." So... another win for Orville, that crafty geezer.

Update on the leaf installation at Meadhouse.

I showed you Meade's leaf project 6 days ago. It looked like this:


3 days ago, it looked like this:


The pumpkins — nicely and sharply carved — were picked up by the side of the street down the block. And here's how it looks this morning:


I like the way the pumpkins — with appropriate facial expressions — appear to be drowning in leaves and the unintended and unnoticed inclusion of Zeus.

"They stink, have rough skin and look like old dogs. No wonder they have to pay for a man."

"Men won’t touch them where they come from," said a male "sex worker," quoted in an article with a title in the form of a question that assumes a fact I didn't know was in evidence: "Why Is Female Sex Tourism Embraced By Society?" 

Via Instapundit, who says: "Female sexuality is always to be celebrated, unlike that icky and dangerous male sexuality." But that's missing something, and I'm saying that as an "old dog" — shouldn't that be bitch? — myself. If male sexuality is "icky and dangerous," how can an older woman leave the safety and comfort of her home country and travel somewhere foreign specifically for the purpose of exposing her vulnerable body — in some private, as-yet-unknown space — to this grotesque and physically stronger being? I don't see how you can "celebrate" the woman here without also celebrating the male.

What I see being celebrated is the power of money and the value of sex.

Why would a libertarian get miffed about that?

"Animal rights activist, 31 of her dogs found dead in garage."

"Cops said they believe 62-year-old Sandra Lertzman, of Moreland Hills, Ohio, committed suicide but aren’t sure how long she and the animals were dead inside a running vehicle before they were discovered."

"This is unbelievable, but the fruit fly G tridens has somehow evolved to have what looks like pictures of ants on its wings."

"Seriously, its transparent wings have an ant design on them complete with 'six legs, two antennae, a head, thorax and tapered abdomen.' It's nature's evolutionary art painted on a fly's wings."

Wow! Awesome! It was even in the New York Times! Evolution, baby! What can't it do?!

Well, it didn't do that, but it did produce a human mind capable of settling down after viewing something awesome and figuring out what we're really looking at:

"Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?"

From a great collection of anti-Communist posters and ads, some of which are far better graphically. I picked this one out to display here because it's an interesting mix of rational argument and emotional appeal... by a commercial advertiser.

"Men Should Pay for Maternity Care Because BABIES."

Headline at DoubleX about babies, written in babytalk. Here's the argument:
The long-term prosperity of the U.S. depends on healthy citizens, men supply the sperm, it’s just a genetic lottery that made you a man and not a woman, and think of your mother who had to bear you!

But even if you don’t care at all about the women bearing the children, you should care about live human babies that are going to be born regardless of whether their mothers get adequate prenatal care. And really, really bad things happen to babies whose mothers don’t get adequate prenatal care. 
At the point when you purchase insurance, the individual customer would like only to insure for things that are possible. Everyone at the point of purchase knows whether they are male and thus naturally and absolutely immune to the risk of pregnancy. So why can't they get a price based on what they need to insure? The argument at the link is coherent only if you concede that we are no longer talking about insurance. We're talking about taxation to pay for a welfare benefit. 

If we weren't so deeply embroiled in Obamacare, it might be interesting to talk about whether the government should subsidize all maternity care. To do so would nudge women away from abortion. Perhaps the government could use the opportunity to gather information about the quality of the parenting that is likely to ensue and to take stronger actions to protect the "long-term prosperity of the U.S."

Remember, women's bodies are the portals through which all future generations of humanity must enter the scene. Old-school feminism took umbrage at thinking about women as containers of babies, but today's feminists are more like old-fashioned wives, and the message is: Pay the bills!