November 30, 2013

"Administration officials are preparing to announce Sunday that they have met their Saturday deadline for improving HealthCare.gov..."

"... according to government officials, in part by expanding the site’s capacity so that it can handle 50,000 users at once."
But they have yet to meet all their internal goals for repairing the federal health-care site, and it will not become clear how many consumers it can accommodate until more people try to use it.
50,000 users at once... was that the goal set for the deadline?

If you can set the goal at the point of seeing how far you've gotten when the deadline arrives, doesn't that make the whole notion of a deadline pretty much a scam?

"Jack went out of his way to look poor, partly because he didn't want to be badgered by people who wanted money."

Jack McDonald, who died at the age of 98, left $198 million to 3 institutions — Seattle Children's Research Institution, the Salvation Army, and — because law, too, is good — the University of Washington School of Law.

"Scott Walker's new book 'Unintimidated' is getting destroyed in the reviews on Amazon right now. The average reviewer gives it only 2.5 stars!"

Says a AFSCME page at Facebook:
Don't waste a second reading it though - let us save you some time by sending you right to the parts where he mocks public employees as lazy, overpaid, and corrupt here...
Linking to the Uppity Wisconsin post that I explained in my post about the Amazon reviews.
and here....
Linking to a Cap Times article attacking the book.
Now, here's your chance to tell Scott Walker how you feel about him -- and his latest attacks on public employees. Submit your own review here on Amazon and then copy it into the comments below as well.
That last "here" goes to Walker's book — I'll substitute an Althouse portal to it — where the top "most helpful" comment says:

At the Sunlight Café..

Untitled

... you can talk about whatever you want.

It's the Obamacare website deadline.

What's up?
"November 30th does not represent a relaunch of HealthCare.gov," said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates the site. "It is not a magical date. There will be times after November 30th when the site, like any website, does not perform optimally."
Oh, right. It was a deadline, but it wasn't a deadline deadline. You must have misunderstood, but the Obama administration would like to thank you for accepting the 2-month quieting they procured by making you somehow feel there was a deadline. It's quite similar to the way they quelled opposition with the promise that if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance. You are to be praised for your respectful submission to the management of expectations.

"Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it's God's will."

Says the Amish man, who is hiding his daughter, who has lymphoblastic lymphoma.
"If we do chemotherapy and she would happen to die, she would probably suffer more than if we would do it this way and she would happen to die."

A court last month sided with the children’s hospital and appointed a guardian to make medical decisions for Sarah. Days before the ruling, the family took off from the small Amish community in Spencer, Ohio and headed for Central America to pursue holistic methods at a natural cancer treatment center.
Right after that, in the linked Daily News article, there's a photograph of a horse-drawn hay wagon.  I don't think they "took off... for Central America" by power of horse. And this sounds less like religion than like an ordinary, unscientific belief in alternative medicine.

"Mitt Romney’s son rescued four people from a car crash—then tweeted a photo of himself grinning next to the wreck."

"Bad move if you’re an aspiring politician from a family with a reputation for being out of touch."
“Was first on scene to big accident, see pic of car in the house,” Josh tweeted. “I lifted 4 people out to safety. All ok. Thankful.” Accompanying the tweet was a the moral equivalent of a selfie of Josh standing proudly in front of the wrecked SUV that had just destroyed some homeowner’s kitchen.

Weirdly, he is grinning—the symptom of either a relentlessly sunny personality or else an alarming incapacity to empathize with another person’s horrible luck.
Poor Josh Romney. Even when he's out there saving lives, he must be ever on guard lest he create evidence that can be used to say, one more time, Romney is out of touch.

By the way, Barack Obama is always smiling — including while standing in front of wrecks worse than a car that crashed into a kitchen but didn't injure anyone. Somehow his smile always fits the preferred media framing: Whatever happens, we still love him as a person.

IN THE COMMENTS: MadisonMan said:
How is that a selfie? Is his right arm 25 feet long with multiple joints?
CWJ said:
[M]y take was that either Josh reflexively smiled when the camera was pointed at him, or that the amateur photographer might actually have said "cheese" or its equivalent.
I said:
Yeah... I can imagine a lot of jokes that could be made, like "Hey, where's Seamus?!!!"

The neverending cruise, promoted as the "world's first floating city."

It's the Freedom Ship, a name that does not work on me. It telegraphs imprisonment.

And I love that it uses the roof for an airport and landing strip on the top level, so the 50,000 residents — instead of having a place to experience sunlight and sky — can feel and hear jets landing and taking off.
The benefits of ocean occupation would involve brand new schools, hospitals, businesses, parks, promenades, landscaping, public art and saltwater aquariums.
What's the law enforcement? Will that be experimental too?
"This will be a very heavily capitalised project and the global economy in the last few years hasn't been too inviting for unproven progressive projects like ours. Happily, though it has experienced a hiatus, the Freedom Ship now looks as if it is a live project again. In the last six months we're getting more interest in the project and we are hopeful we will raise the $1 billion to begin construction."
Looks as if... as if...

It looks as if this is a project for bilking billionaires getting articles written about nonsensical boyish fantasies.

I know. I shouldn't give these clowns attention. But I just hate cruises.

"A Manhattan man who sued because his real-life identity was outed on MTV's 'True Life: I'm a Chubby Chaser'..."

"... is fat out of luck, a Manhattan judge has ruled."
Tristan Watson and roommate Nadine Crosbie filed suit against the reality show's producers last year, claiming they were duped into thinking their home address would not be shown and that Watson would only be identified by the name "Tee" on the show, which focused on people who intentionally seek out extra-plump partners.
Of course, MTV makes anyone participating in this sort of show sign a written contract agreeing not to sue about anything, and the lawsuit was always doomed... which make you wonder why — if he were truly so troubled about getting outed — he'd sue, making his identity even more well known. I'd have never heard of this character if I hadn't seen this news report about the lawsuit. One must conclude that he wanted the publicity. He participated in the show, and then he drew even more attention to himself.

Watson claimed that he received a death threat "slipped under the front of his door of his apartment," but as the top comment says: "Why would he receive a death threat because he's a chubby chaser? That makes absolutely no sense." That question gets a funny reply: "maybe it was 'Fit Mom' threatening him, LOL."

(Do you know about "Fit Mom," the lady who got temporarily banned from Facebook for complaining about media boosting the self-esteem of fat people people of fatness?)

(That last link goes to Jezebel, where I am struggling very hard to resist the temptation to click on the "top story" in the sidebar: "The Epic, Disgusting Removal of a Blackhead 25 Years in the Making." Talk about the need for will power!)

If you want your wearable computer in wig form...

... Sony has invented it for you.
"We think one of the biggest reasons is the style... the focus has been function, not style," said Hiroaki Tobita and Takuya Kuzi.
This was a quote from 2 guys, speaking — what? — in unison? Were they aided by a SmartWig?
"The goal of SmartWig is to achieve both natural and practical wearable devices," they said, adding the "natural appearance" of their invention -- which can be made from human hair -- could prove a selling point.
I agree. I've been waiting decades for the trend that — back in the 60s — Andy Warhol seemed to be doing a fine job of making seem hip and cool.

"Rachel Tutera... runs a blog called The Handsome Butch."

"Daniel Friedman... makes custom men’s suits, mostly for corporate clients in his end of Park Slope, Brooklyn."
When she wrote to him last year, seeking a sales job, she had a proposition: Why couldn’t Mr. Friedman, with his expertise in men’s suits, make them for women like her — not women’s suits, but the same gear he was making for guys, with the same masculine profile, but fitted to women’s bodies? It was a question he had never considered.
That's an excerpt from an article in the NYT, and here's the blog, The Handsome Butch, which is very aesthetically pleasing and makes an immediate visual argument that females can look quite naturally attractive in man-tailored clothes.

From the NYT article:
What is the meaning of a man’s suit? Every day men disappear into them, as into uniforms. In wool and creased flannel, the suits tell a story of power and belonging. When Ms. Tutera approached Mr. Friedman, she offered a new twist on that story.

“We started looking at these weddings from Maine, because it had legalized gay marriage,” he said. “And these women who were getting married in these tuxedos looked ridiculous. They looked awful. The suits were giant. And I can only imagine these people going into a Brooks Brothers in Maine and saying, ‘I want a men’s suit that’s going to fit me,’ and I can imagine how uncomfortable it was for both sides.”
Note the statement that "men disappear" into suits, so it's not just those women in tuxedos who look "ridiculous." Everyone looks better in clothes that fit properly. No one...



... almost no one... wants his body lost inside a giant suit. But there is the meaning of "disappear" that means — as the NYT acknowledged — I am powerful and I belong here amongst the powerful. Not all men in a suit "disappear" that way. Some disappear into: I'm forced to wear this thing because of the occasion and I don't really belong here. They're like the lesbian in the wedding tuxedo that bothered Mr. Friedman.

Do your clothes fit? Do you fit your clothes? If not, why not? Is it is the clothes, is it you, or is it what you are doing?

November 29, 2013

"A Nepali girl shut off from her family and peers during her decade as a living goddess..."

"... says she's happy to have settled back into normal life..."

"Why is it that women can’t think if drunk but men can?"

"Why is it always about men controlling themselves and being responsible for any sex act while women are treated as children?" asks Dr. Helen.

You can theorize about a double standard, but I think there is one clear practical point. The article under discussion — the Roxanne Jones piece that we were talking about yesterday here — is warning men about how to protect themselves from accusations of rape. That's what men are afraid of and therefore it's what don't-be-a-victim advice aimed at men looks like. Women tend to be afraid of getting raped, and don't-be-a-victim advice aimed at them comes in the form of warning them about what they're wearing and how much they are drinking.

As I said in my post yesterday, "Telling males to send some nice texts is interestingly similar to telling females not to go traipsing about in short skirts." And we all know that advice about how not to be a victim can be aggravating, because it seems to minimize the wrongs committed by the actual bad actor.

If men were more afraid of rape — and they certainly can be raped — maybe we'd see more advice about things they should do to avoid getting raped. And if women were more afraid of getting falsely accused of rape — and it's possible for a woman to commit rape — maybe we'd be lecturing them about how they need to be careful about getting (and documenting) consent.

I would replace Dr. Helen's question with: Why do we always assume that the man wants sex? Why assume that men, simply because they are men, are "asking for it"?

If your answer is something along the lines of well, duh, then you need to see how you are contributing to the dynamic. 

Michelle, Malia, and Sasha "have made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my cockamamie ideas, the running for office and things."

Said Barack Obama (talking about staying in Washington after his term in office, especially given Sasha's interest in completing high school at Sidwell Friends).

"Christie leads possible 2016 GOP contenders in CNN/ORC poll."

"A new national poll indicates, that for the first time, there may be an early frontrunner in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination."

Christie gets 24%, polling against Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, and Rick Santorum.

What about Scott Walker?

At the Washington Post, pressure on Justices Ginsburg and Breyer to retire.

"There’s absolutely no question about it; if they want to secure the principles they have fought for during their careers, the best thing both of these senior liberal justices can do is to retire right now...."
If Republicans happen to gain six or more Senate seats in 2014, and with them a Senate majority, it’s very likely they will simply bottle up most judicial nominations in committee, not even allowing floor votes.... That’s after the 2014 elections. In 2016, in addition to another shot at Senate control, Republicans certainly could win back the White House....
So... panic mode along with making it really really obvious that Supreme Court Justices are partisan ideologues? Great set-up for the 2014 elections that you're so afraid your side will lose.

At Cooper's Café...

Cooper

... get your warm fuzzies.

The Daily Beast front-pages this teaser: "Scott Walker's Indian Mascot SNAFU."

What's the SNAFU?

Artist seems to think he invented the image of a woman with snakes for hair, accuses Damien Hirst of plagiarism for depicting Rihanna as Medusa.

"It's always fun to take a pop at Hirst, but... the charge against Hirst is not plagiarism – it is sheer artistic ordinariness."
Neither he nor [Jim] Starr have added anything original to the image of Medusa. The GQ cover is as insipid as some late Victorian mythic erotica. Compared with the great Medusas of the classical and baroque ages, Rihanna with snaky hair is just plain dull.

"I think a lot about what it means to exist as a Female-Identified Woman in this world when people very, very close to me use 'rape' as an ordinary verb, like feel or eat or think or do."

"The answer is not that I surround myself with Bad People, and certainly not that I involve myself with those who intend harm."
These are smart people; they have great jobs, work hard. Some of them have known struggle. Others were raised in big, happy, wealthy families. They’re decent. They’re in love. Passionate. Artists. Good people who will be there when you call them. People who have families and buy presents for babies. People who can quote a whole movie. People who matter.

So why do they feel the need to reappropriate such a word as “rape”?

"Madison restaurateur Dan Fox fed table scraps that may have included animal products to his pigs — a practice barred by state law..."

"... had them slaughtered and then distributed the meat to more than a dozen restaurants, all without the necessary state permits, according to records of a state investigation into his operation."

Recycling. You've got to do it the right way. No animal parts in the table scraps to be thrown to the pigs. No hamburger, no bacon bits, no chicken bones, no Italian mobsters.

Are you going to go all Black Friday today?

Is it an in-person sport for you or will you do it on line? If the latter, please exploit the occasion to show your support — if you have it — for this blog by entering Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

The persistence of hits and blockbusters in the era of the internet and "the long tail."

Nicely analyzed in The New Yorker. Excerpt:
Although “The Long Tail” proclaimed a coming revolution, [Chris] Anderson was careful never to predict the demise of blockbusters. “Hits, like it or not, are here to stay,” he wrote. But he believed that the cultural power of hits was fading, and he presented his economic analysis as a moral crusade. “For too long,” he wrote, “we’ve been suffering the tyranny of lowest-common-denominator fare, subjected to brain-dead summer blockbusters and manufactured pop.”

"It was satisfying to hear his screams. Mamma mia how he screamed!"

"In the end I didn't see anything... nothing remained!"

"An LDS Bishop went undercover as a homeless man in his congregation last Sunday."

"He wanted to use his disguise as a tool to teach on compassion this Thanksgiving." (Video at the link.)
Ward member Jaimi Larsen also didn't recognize the homeless man as [David] Musselman... "He was dirty. He was crippled. He was old. He was mumbling to himself"....

Larsen says she watched from the chapel as Musselman walked to the pulpit - his disguise so real, she had no idea that he was about to reveal himself as their bishop. "He quoted the song 'Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?'," said Larsen.
That story made me think of this passage in the New Testament:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

November 28, 2013

Thanks...

... for reading. And thanks to all who have used (and will use) the Althouse Amazon portal.

At the Black-and-White Café...

Untitled

... everybody say thanks...

Untitled

... for everything you have.

Untitled

"In the video below, you'll see a local boffin get to work digging for bones with a nasty hook/knife implement."

"At this point cunning Reg readers are probably thinking that a very large, rather dead, creature is going to have rather a lot of gas trapped somewhere within its innards. And that if the organ containing said gas isn't handled well, nasty things may result. Let's roll tape to put that hypothesis to the test...."



Oh, quiet down. It's not like you weren't warned. I know it's Thanksgiving. Maybe you'll be deterred from overeating, and this is one more thing to be thankful for.

The Cap Times reporter Jack Craver refers to me as a "Walker fan."

He is such a weasel. Craver I mean. Not my darling Scottie.

Why is Linda Greenhouse singling out Justice Scalia in this op-ed about the question of religious exemptions to the Affordable Care Act?

The Supreme Court granted cert. in the Hobby Lobby case, in which a business seeks to avoid the requirement to provide coverage for abortifacient-type birth control on the ground that it burdens its free exercise of religion and is not justified by a compelling government interest. This claim is based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that was designed to give religious believers rights that the Supreme Court had recently determined were not guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution. The case that restricted the scope of the Free Exercise Clause was Employment Division v. Smith, and the majority opinion was written by Antonin Scalia.

That is, of all the Supreme Court Justices who have resisted constitutional arguments for giving special exemptions for religion, the first name on your list should be Antonin Scalia!

But Linda Greenhouse's piece ends:

The cute animated animals celebrate Thanksgiving...

... in today's Google Doodle.

Meade will attest that I said "aw" at least 3 times, watching that:
How many times did I say "aw"?

3.

Exactly 3 or at least 3?

Exactly 3, at least, but I may have inhibited you.

You mean I said "aw" exactly 3 times but you could tell you were inhibiting me and that I would have otherwise said it more, or are you saying that you're sure about the 3 times, and I may have said it more times, and I probably would have said it even more than that 3 or more, had it not been for the inhibiting force you were exuding? I'm trying to write a blog post here. Do you mind if I reproduce this dialogue?

Uh, no.

"Fans asked not to dress as squirrels when Scunthorpe United play Alan Knill’s Torquay United."

Incomprehensible headline of the day.

"The job of the college professor as we know it will continue to exist in elite institutions, but in most cases it will cease to exist."

"I predict that the change will come more rapidly than we can structurally or emotionally accommodate."

"Crazy, I know, but I've actually been encouraging my son and his friends to use sexting — minus the lewd photos — to protect themselves..."

"... from being wrongly accused of rape. Because just as damning text messages and Facebook posts helped convict the high-schoolers in Steubenville of rape, technology can also be used to prove innocence."

Writes Roxanne Jones of ESPN. She's getting some attention for this, notably from Melissa McEwan, who's the type of blogger who, approaching this topic, begins with "[Content Note: Rape culture.]," which is — if I understand the culture of people who say "rape culture" —an enactment of the belief that encountering the topic of rape triggers a post-traumatic experience. Why doesn't the warning itself cause alarm? Isn't that the nature of warning? I suspect that the message isn't so much to the individuals who experience post-traumatic stress but to everyone: Never forget how deeply rape hurts.

After the warning, McEwan writes:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Untitled

What are you thankful for?

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The dog, photographed by Meade, is a real sweetheart named Bucky. She loved posing for the camera in the golden sunlight.

November 27, 2013

"The Democrat's Guide to Talking Politics with Your Republican Uncle."

At yourrepublicanuncle.com... a website that seems to work well enough, put up by the Democratic National Committee.
"This time of year, the only thing more annoying than holiday traffic is an awkward conversation with family about politics," DNC Digital Director Matt Compton wrote in an email announcing the site. "We designed YourRepublicanUncle.com so that it look greats and loads quickly on your phone -- no getting ambushed when you go back for seconds on stuffing."
I like the line drawing in the sidebar of a table place setting with a mobile phone next to the knife, presumably open to Your Republican Uncle, so you can be a good Thanksgiving companion by referring to the Democratic talking points during dinner.

What if an aspect of being a Republican uncle is expecting nieces and nephews to speak sincerely drawing on thoughts that actually exist in their head? And not keeping the iPhone on the table?

Yesterday's doodling.

Replete with sepia wash coffee:

Untitled

Britons asked to label the American states...

... produce results like this:



Lots more here — including more references to "Breaking Bad." And it was almost true that everyone still got Texas and California, but there's one where California is left blank, Texas is called Nevada, and Nevada is called L.A.

AND: As long as I'm at Buzzfeed, I like this list, especially #9.

At the Angular Café...

Untitled

... come in and talk about whatever you want.

"PEEP SHOW: NYTIMES publishes nipple on front page..."

Says Drudge, with a photo of a sleazy guy in the doorway of a peep-show storefront. The link goes to this PDF of the front page of today's NYT which does indeed show nipple — the top third of one nipple, just below a 2-inch surgery scar. The story is "Push to Test for Cancer Gene Sets Up a Dilemma in Israel." The woman — whom we see only from neck to mid-breast — has a nipple-sized Star of David tattooed at clavicle-level.

Too sensationalistic? Does it stir up old suspicions that breast cancer is getting extra credit in the clamor amongst the diseases for our attention? Is the matter-of-fact(ish) inclusion of nipple a way for the New York Times to say: We're about New York, and New Yorkers are a cut above the rest of the world when it comes to maturity and sophistication? Or is it just the latest, most pathetic sign that the NYT is desperate for readers?

If the last, it worked. Drudge reeled us websters in, and one can only imagine the effect at the real-world newsstands.

IN THE COMMENTS: Brando says:
Forget about the nipple! Isn't there a rule in Jewish law against having tattoos? Or have I been misled?
Neo-Neocon has more on the tattoo taboo.

I like the old Lenny Bruce routine on this subject. He'd gotten a tattoo when he was in the Navy in WWII. When his mother saw it, she screamed: "Now you can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery!" He said: "Its OK, Ma. I'll be buried in a Jewish cemetery. They can amputate my arm and bury it in a Catholic cemetery. It can wave to my body."

"For his senior thesis, he turned the Bill of Rights into a play. 'I made each amendment into a character...'"

"'The First Amendment is a loudmouth guy who won't shut up. The Second Amendment guy, all he wanted to talk about was his gun collection. Then the 10th Amendment, the one where they say leave the rest for the states to decide, he was a guy with no self-esteem.'"

From the Wikipedia article on David E. Kelley, the TV writer and producer (who made "Ally McBeal," "Boston Legal," and a lot of other shows). The play in question was written while he was an undergrad at Princeton. He later attended Boston University School of Law and was a lawyer before he branched out into TV writing.

How did I end up on that article, of all articles? I got there from the page on Michelle Pfeiffer (who happens to be his wife), and I was reading about her because we were talking about the movie (which I love) "The Witches of Eastwick," which we were talking about because the Susan Sarandon character in that movie is an elementary school music teacher who has some scenes with the band that are reminiscent of the school band scenes in "The Music Man." (Sarandon is inspired by the Devil, and the Music Man is a bit of a devil, a trickster palming off a fake system for kids playing musical instruments.)

And we were talking about "The Music Man" because Meade was singing "'Til There Was You" as a consequence of my asking for more examples of songs about nature seeming to express the feelings of the singer, such as "Close to You," which begins "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you walk near." I rejected "'Til There Was You" as an example of what I was looking for, since it's not a fantasy about nature, but a true statement of the singer's increased awareness of the beauty of nature. "There were birds in the sky/But I never saw them winging/No, I never saw them at all/'Til there was you."

The "Close to You" fantasy is really the same idea, expressed subjectively. The birds seem to appear because love has heightened the singer's awareness of the existence of birds, but she doesn't seem to understand, as does Marian the Librarian (the lovely Shirley Jones, whom you can cause to suddenly appear if you click on that last link, above). The "Close to You" singer (let's pick Karen Carpenter) presents herself as baffled by the phenomenon. She asks "why?" Marian/Shirley is the fully/overly rational woman, the librarian with book-learning of the existence of birds, and she too has some fantasy — the notion of never having seen birds at all before the arrival of love. She means: I never really saw them. Or perhaps: Seeing without the emotional lift of believing that the birds are about this love of mine is not really seeing.

So continue this long train of thought with me as we circle back to the Bill of Rights and talk about the infusion of human emotion into that which is not human. Do you picture the rights as human entities with feelings and motivations, and if you do — or force yourself to do it — is the 10th Amendment a guy with no self-esteem?

I am outraged at the disparagement of the character of the 10th Amendment!
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The man who knows the scope of the job he's been hired to do and doesn't spread himself thin taking over things that other workers have been doing for a long time — and know how to do better — isn't a sad sack. It's the guy with the inferiority complex who feels he's got to take over everything. Mr. 10th Amendment is smart and competent. He knows he's got plenty of important work that needs to be done well, he sticks to that, he has the integrity to resist seeking brownie points for doing extra work, he's not a jerk who can't trust the other workers to do things well enough, and he's not an egomaniac who thinks he's got the one right answer that must be applied to everyone regardless of the different ideas they might have and good experiments they might like to try.

I know you need a villain to pump some drama into your play, but I think in a theater piece about the Bill of Rights, the villain should be the federal government. The rights are all heroes. In my play.

"The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites..."

"... as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document."
The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority....
The document justifies the targeting based on their expressions indicating that "Non-Muslims are a threat to Islam" or "offensive jihad is justified," or "the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself."

Do you object to the NSA preparing to discredit people like that by collecting information on their use of pornography? The linked article, at the Huffington Post, reminds us of the old FBI history of keeping files on, among others, Martin Luther King, Jr.

The FBI today displays its file on MLK, here. If you go there, you can click into lots of files through the links in the sidebar. Writing this post, I got distracted into reading about whether Lucille Ball and Groucho Marx were Communists. Somehow these 2 were nevertheless on TV all the time in the 1950s.

And did you know the FBI wasted time trying to figure out what was up with ESP? From the file on William Foos: "Should his claims be well-founded, there is no limit to the value which could accrue to the FBI  — complete and undetectable access to mail, the diplomatic pouch; visual access to buildings — the possibilities are unlimited insofar as law enforcement and counterintelligence are concerned."

Ridiculous... but in the end, they only had to wait for email, and then they had it — complete and undetectable access to mail... the possibilities are unlimited insofar as law enforcement and counterintelligence are concerned.

Who killed Alec Baldwin's TV show?

Alec offers some clues:
"People who I worked with that I cared about—these people were all very supportive of the show. Now there was somebody on the staff who I did not want to work with. There was somebody on the staff who I thought wasn't a good fit for me. And I wouldn't rule out if that person went to the Post and gave them that story."
The story that he called a paparazzo a "cocksucking faggot."

"According to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, three of the best options for women seeking greater equality are..."

"... Cuba, Nicaragua, and Burundi."
[W]ith such a wealth of data and intellectual prowess at their disposal, how did the authors [including Laura D’Andrea Tyson, former chair of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Ricardo Hausmann, director of the Center for International Development at Harvard] arrive at the conclusion that the United States ranks 23rd in terms of closing the gender gap, whereas Nicaragua is 10th, Cuba 15th, and Burundi just edges us out, coming in 22nd? I [Weekly Standard writer David Adesnik] contacted both Tyson and Hausmann to inquire about the study’s counterintuitive results. Both of them referred me to Saadia Zahidi, a senior director at the Forum as well as coauthor of the gender gap report. Zahidi committed to providing additional information, although none has yet arrived. Thus, I had to figure out for myself why advanced statistical analysis might indicate that the women of Cuba, Nicaragua and Burundi face less discrimination than those in the United States....

A rash of 1-star reviews for Scott Walker's book "Unintimidated."

At Amazon. Samples:

1. "Wow, this is not a book. it is a 'selfie' by Scott Walker. He has tanked Wisconsin with his corrupt leadership and this book is so poorly written, I'd give it a zero if I could. Don't waist [sic] your money on this advertisement."

2. "This book is a piece of crap written by the most self-serving narcissist to ever come down the pike. This book should be filed under fiction on the shelves....."

3. "Gah. What a terrible person. There should be a zero stars option. Good god. The man is a narcissist....."

November 26, 2013

"Wow, is it cold out. The deer must think the same thing, as I haven't seen a thing."

Scott Walker goes deer hunting.

ADDED: Walker on Fox News, more or less running for President:



ALSO: From Walker's book "Unintimidated":
We soon began to get a steady stream of death threats. Most of these Dave and his team intercepted, and kept from Tonette and me. They were often graphic (one threatened to “gut her like a deer”) but for the most part they amounted to little more than angry venting.

"The CBS News correspondent Lara Logan and her producer, Max McClellan, made serious errors in an Oct. 27 report on the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya..."

"... and have been asked to take leaves of absence, the network announced Tuesday," the NYT reports.
The moves come after weeks of criticism directed at a “60 Minutes” report....
I'm not saying "60 Minutes" did a good job, but I'm skeptical of CBS's motives here. What will it take to get the full story on Benghazi? Less suppression. More information. Why aren't other reporters delving into this?

At the Snow Dogs Café...

Bowie and Cooper

... feel free to share.

Zeus and Gus

Dems plummet from 50%-42% edge for 2014 congressional elections to a 47%-49% deficit.

A 10 point shift in one month.

"The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear arguments in a case challenging Obamacare's birth control coverage requirement on religious freedom grounds."

"Obamacare's employer mandates are at issue in the case, which involves whether corporations and religious institutions themselves enjoy the same First Amendment [sic] rights as individuals," says a Breaking News email from CNN.
Among the plaintiffs is Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of about 500 for-profit arts and crafts stores. David Green and his family are the owners, and say their Christian beliefs clash with parts of the law's mandates for comprehensive coverage. They say some of the drugs that would be provided prevent human embryos from being implanted in a woman's womb, which the Greens equate to abortion.
ADDED: Full CNN story here.

AND: Note that the claim is based not on the Constitution, but on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal statute. Congress can change the statute. That counts heavily in my book.

Does your city allow you to build a little house in your backyard — an "accessory dwelling unit"?

Madison, Wisconsin does. Here we see a couple that has a house, and they're building a tiny house behind it, on the footprint of what had been a detached garage, 12 x 18. Then, they bring in tenants and make income for a while, and ultimately, as they age and no longer can or want to manage the big house, they move into the tiny house.
"We thought we might live in it when we're too old to live in the larger house... It's a way for us to stay in the neighborhood and live here."

"I've always liked the idea of living smaller and more beautifully... This idea is pretty neat."
So what do you think? Is this a great way to increase density in the city, build up the tax base, free people to make income from their property, provide appropriate housing for younger and older people, and boost the tiny house movement? Or is this a bad intrusion onto existing neighborhoods, pitting homeowners against each other?

I look out on our backyard and see 4 detached garages impinging on our view. Would we be worse off if those were converted into little houses? Put the cars in the driveways or on the street, and install little old couples or singles into those spaces. Or maybe Meade and I should build our perfect little dream house in our backyard, then sell the big house to new owners who will loom over us until we move on to the ultimate truly tiny house.

"Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is trying to make the case that Wisconsin voters should trust her..."

"... in part, because of the nearly 1,000 jobs created in the state by Trek Bicycle Corp., a firm founded and run by her family."
But now Burke is coming under criticism from some within her own party following a decision last week by the U.S. Department of Labor. The federal agency found that up to 20 former Trek Bicycle employees are eligible for special federal aid via the Trade Adjustment Assistance program because they lost their jobs due to foreign trade.
Actually, this is evidence that the Democratic Party does not exploit its power within government to affect electoral politics.

Based on these 45 self-portraits...

... and only these self-portraits, which drug would you pick if:

1. You wanted to produce the best artwork?

2. You had to take the drug all the time and would always feel the way it makes you feel?

3. You could take the drug sometimes, when you were in the mood for it, as a variation on normal, undrugged life?

Don't worry about the illegality of some of the drugs. The question is only about the drug experience as understood through the artist's depiction. Don't factor in other things you may know about the drugs. Restrict yourself to the evidence in the self-portraits. Pick ONE drug per question.

I won't ask which is the last drug you'd take on this list of 45, because more than half of them seem like an obviously very bad idea.

I'll give my answers later because I don't want you to be under the influence... of Althouse.

"Why I’m Happier in a Sexless Marriage."

A headline at Redbook. Excerpt.
I appreciate the idea of sex, but I feel about it like I feel about working out...

My husband’s the same way.... Not having sex be a regular part of our routine means we’ve had to work harder to fulfill each other’s emotional needs.

What would I do if my husband wanted more sex? Well, then, he wouldn’t be my husband...

"Lazy Men Are Responsible for the Great Orgasm Deficit."

A headline at Cosmopolitan. Excerpt:
These days, it feels like men are letting themselves off the hook for one-sided orgasms a little too easily.... "I know some women don't have orgasms every time. Don't worry about it." Now that he's framed it like you're the one who's being forgiven for your tricky, finicky genitals...
Framing. It's not just for politics.

"So... we should all just be thankful we don't live in France, right?"

"French pharmaceutical company HRA Pharma has just released a warning stating that the morning-after pill 'Norlevo' is completely ineffective for women weighing over 176 pounds. The pill even begins to lose effectiveness for women weighing 165."

The effort at humor in the headline deploys a logical fallacy that has a name. Can you name it?

"Odd that there are only investigations into conservative groups breaking campaign finance laws. Sort of like the IRS only vetting conservative groups tax-exempt status."

Quoting mccullough the commenter in our conversation last night about the partisan-seeming judge in the Wisconsin John Doe investigation, Instapundit says: "The bureaucracy is a one-party state."

It's unusual for men to describe their feelings about losing a child to abortion.

Last summer, we had some heated discussions on this blog about men who feel bad that, unlike women, they don't have the choice to abort a baby they don't want (and may be forced to support that unwanted child).

But what about men who don't want the child aborted and lose their own child against their will? Or men who support the abortion but then have regrets? Think of all the social and psychological pressure to keep silent. But, here, 3 men tell their stories.

The sentences above were written before reading any of the 3 stories, which turned out to be less profound than I thought they'd be. Highlights:

1. "If I said things like I’d be a good father to the child or even if I told her I was against abortion, I feel she would’ve kept it."

2. "In terms of being supportive, I made it very clear I was not in support of bringing a baby into the world.... No matter what decision she makes, especially if she makes the decision you kind of wanted in the beginning, you can’t seem too joyous about it, and as a matter of fact I wasn’t very joyous about it. So I was walking very carefully with this thing."

3. "Even though to me I was like, this is her decision, she really empowered me. We were on the phone a lot. I still felt like I was making these decisions on something that ultimately wasn’t my decision to make, so being conscious of the fact that this is not my body, I won’t be going through the changes."

The woman's choice really is empowering for the man, is it not? Leaving aside the problem discussed last summer — that a man might end up with a child he'd have nipped in the embryo — the man can say it was all her doing and he wasn't even allowed to intervene. He can decide that there's no moral responsibility at all and even feel righteous about his nonintervention on behalf of the child.

"Though you haven't heard of it, there are some fundamentalist churches that encourage dating and marrying nonbelievers and trying to convert them."

"It's called 'missionary dating' and it's a real thing."

November 25, 2013

The blind dog sees.

Sunny, Zeus

The dog on the left, Sunny, is blind. She gazes at Zeus. And into the sunset:

Sunny, Zeus

Sunny was rescued (while not yet blind) from Hurricane Katrina.

Sunny

Do you understand?

"We are machines, we are robots, we plug our scanner in, we're holding it, but we might as well be plugging it into ourselves."

"We don't think for ourselves, maybe they don't trust us to think for ourselves as human beings, I don't know."

Top 10 Spanish mustaches.

Beginning with Salvador Dali ("who described his pointy facial hair as 'antennae with which to trap art,' used date sugar to sharpen the ends and also attract 'clean flies'").

A friend "remembers occasionally going to watch a movie with [Adam] Lanza after a dance marathon and chatting with him about current events and chimpanzees."

The inane/absurd search for meaning in the mind of a lost and now-hated soul.

"1 judge with tie to John Doe probe signed Scott Walker recall petition."

Headline at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Excerpt:
One judge with at least minor involvement in a secret investigation of campaign fundraising and spending during Wisconsin's recent recall elections signed the recall petition against Gov. Scott Walker two years ago....

Duvall, a former Democratic district attorney of Buffalo County, was appointed to the bench by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in 2005 and has been elected twice since then.....

At Rumor's Café...

Rumor

... have you heard the latest?

Council of Croatian Community in France files suit against Bob Dylan in a Paris court, accuses him of racism.

"He was without any doubt inciting hatred against Croatians," according to the Council of Croatian Community in France. What did Bob do? In an interview with Rolling Stone, he said (as quoted at the link): "Black people can sense Klan blood, Jews can sense Nazi blood and Serbs can sense Croat blood."

What does that mean "sensing blood"? Talking in terms of blood does have a racist feeling to it. He's a poet though, so there's that tendency to use vivid metaphor. Blood is one of the great metaphors — used in 49 Dylan songs — but it's complicated and refers to many different things. The word "sense" is vague, unlike say "smell" or "taste," and tied to "blood," it can cause too much confusion, and I don't recommend judicial relief.

Here's the Rolling Stone interview (which came out last year). Check the context and the actual verbatim quote:

"This is leaves... Do you know how to... do this?... I'll show you."

Continuing with today's theme of what to do with leaves....



(Earlier what-to-do-with-leaves post here.)

At UCLA: Protesting microaggression, microaggressively.

"Rest assured I take this extremely seriously. I humbly dedicate myself to listening and to learning from this experience. Together, as a community, we will work towards just, equitable, and lasting solutions. Together, we shall heal."

Wrote Val Rust, the UCLA professor whose class was chosen as the site for a sit-in to protest "microaggression." One of various charges against Rust was that he overdid the marking up of their papers with spelling and grammar corrections. There were other offenses as well, such as failing to intervene in a classroom dialogue between 2 students in which a black male was telling a white female that she's not entitled to use "Standpoint Theory," because she's not a member of an oppressed group. Rust underdid that part of his role, in the view of the protesting students, who seem to have wanted more "support" from him.

Are you keeping your leaves and, if so, have you shifted into bullying your neighbors who still put their leaves out to the curb for pickup?

We keep our leaves (and even take in some neighbors' leaves), and Meade has a composting process that takes a form I like to call an art installation. I've shown photographs of the various stages. Here's how it looked 9 days ago:

Untitled

Anyway, we don't go around shaming the neighbors who dump their leaves at the curb for city pickup, which costs tax money and involves a lot of truck driving that's harmful to the environment, although if they read my blog they might feel a little bad about it.

But this NYT article — "Rake the Leaves? Some Towns Say Mow Them" — ends with an anecdote about a lady who's gone into shaming mode:
In northern Westchester, Fiona Mitchell of Bedford is a mulching convert... And she has become something of a proselytizer for the practice among her neighbors and those in other towns.

“I’m afraid I’m becoming a bit of a mulching police,” she said. “My friends call out, ‘I’m mulching, I’m mulching,’ when I walk by their houses.”
The boldfacing is mine, to explain the tag I'm putting on this post: religion substitutes. That's a tag that frequently goes along with another one of my tags: environmentalism. I once wrote an exam for my Religion and the Constitution class that had a school district arguably violating the Establishment Clause with its environmentalism rituals and recitations.

"I may have missed something, I cannot help but wonder, Professor..."

"... given your many recent blistering critiques of Obama, if you now regret voting for him."

Asks St. George in the comments thread to yesterday's post "Juan Williams reveals that the White House is calling the Republicans' opposition to Obamacare "the original sin.'"

I expressed whatever regret I have in the form of voting against Obama's reelection, but I have never said I think it was a mistake to have voted for him the first time. For the voter, the decision-making point arrived in November 2008 and the choice was between Obama and John McCain. I stand by my contemporaneous post "How McCain lost me." How can you compare what Obama actually did to imagined scenarios about McCain? If McCain had won in 2008, we'd have heard about the amazing brilliant alternative path into history we might have taken with Barack Obama.

"'LIFE OF PI' tiger 'damn near drowned'... 27 animal deaths on 'THE HOBBIT'..."

"Dog punched repeatedly in popular DISNEY movie... Secret emails, documents exposed... Spielberg protected by cover-up of 'WAR HORSE' death... MORE..."

Drudge top-pages a set of headlines — including the main headline, "MOVIES, TV AWASH IN HIDDEN ANIMAL ABUSE"— aiming massive attention at a Hollywood Reporter article with a much subtler headline, "No Animals Were Harmed."

November 24, 2013

At the 2 Dogs Café...

P1010104

... we can all be friends.

Juan Williams reveals that the White House is calling the Republicans' opposition to Obamacare "the original sin."

Here's Juan Williams this morning on "Fox News Sunday":

"Movember as microaggression... characterized by too many moustaches, overarching shows of masculinity, and a general overload of testosterone."

"The pure and charitable sentiment is there – raising money for prostate and testicular cancer research, and fighting mental health problems among men – but what once started out as a harmless campaign has become sexist, racist, transphobic, and misinformed."
The idea of suggesting that men show solidarity with each other by growing moustaches is completely absurd....

[Blogger Jem] Bloomfield... remarks that, “This campaign, intended as a project by men for men, has immediately been turned into a pretext for demanding that women submit themselves and their bodies to male approval.... I don’t want to be told that a moustache makes me a man, or that my identity depends upon shaming women into being presentable to the male gaze.”
"Completely absurd" is a great phrase here. Who knew mustaches were such a problem beyond the mere aesthetics of a given man's face?

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor "Rebecca M. Blank was a top candidate in 2011 to lead President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, but" she said a bad word.

Redistribution!

This is the post where I paraphrase 10 things in the NYT article "Tension and Flaws Before Health Website Crash."

Here's the text, by Eric Lipson, Ian Austen, and Sharon LaFraniere. I'm blocking and indenting their text and boldfacing key words that made me feel compelled to paraphrase so I could see what they were muting or failing to pursue with investigative vigor.

1. Government officials and its contractors were in conflict, and some people — who? — made questionable decisions and demonstrated poor leadership.
[T]ensions between the government and its contractors, questionable decisions and weak leadership within the Medicare agency turned the rollout of the president’s signature program into a major humiliation.
2.The Obama administration, dazzled by its grandiose idea of making a dazzling website, refused even to engage with the reality that was plaguing the computer technicians: It was impossible to meet the deadline with a website that even worked.

"Centrists Should Mourn the Demise of the Filibuster: Only the extremists win—and in the end, mostly the Republicans."

A Slate headline, quoted in its entirety at Instapundit, as if he's not seeing the snark.

To see the snark, examine the logic

1. After the filibuster, only the extremists will win.

2. Most of the winners will be Republicans.

3. [Unstated.] Most of the extremists are Republicans. 

What counts as "extremism"? In this context, it has to do with how we think about judges. (And executive nominees, but I'll leave them to the side for simplicity's sake.) The "extreme" should be understood as the more ideologically slanted or threateningly powerful individuals that the President would otherwise have refrained from nominating. But even with the minority party disabled by the inability to filibuster, there are political constraints.

Obama can't just nominate, say, Bill Ayers.

"This first step will create time and space over the next six months..."

"...  for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program, and because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program."

Said Barack Obama.

ADDED: John Bolton (U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, 2005-06) in The Weekly Standard: "Abject Surrender by the United States/What does Israel do now?"
Even modest constraints, easily and rapidly reversible, do not change that fundamental political and operational reality....

Israel... must make the extremely difficult judgment whether it will stand by as Iran maneuvers effortlessly around a feckless and weak White House, bolstering its economic situation while still making progress on the nuclear front....

[I]n truth, an Israeli military strike is the only way to avoid Tehran’s otherwise inevitable march to nuclear weapons, and the proliferation that will surely follow....

"Singing and acting are actually very similar things."

Says Harry Dean Stanton:
"Anyone can sing and anyone can be a film actor. All you have to do is learn. I learned to sing when I was a child. I had a babysitter named Thelma. She was 18, I was six, and I was in love with her. I used to sing her an old Jimmie Rodgers song, 'T for Thelma'." Closing his eyes, he breaks into song: "T for Texas, T for Tennessee, T for Thelma, that girl made a wreck out of me." He smiles his sad smile. "I was singing the blues when I was six. Kind of sad, eh?"
ADDED: Here's "T for Texas," sung by Joe D. Johnson. I'm not familiar with this singer, but get the feeling he was better known for "Rattlesnake Daddy."