March 22, 2014

In Colorado...

... there were hints of Wisconsin, to which we have returned.



"Recall Walker"— on a Colorado car! But we enjoyed our temporary place at Colorado's table...



A toast to Colorado...



(And to the Wisconsin Badgers, for whom we chewed our fingertips to the bone this evening.)

Undertheorized.

Alexis C. Madrigal at The Atlantic attempts to explain why the academic journal "Porn Studies" is needed:
[S]o many people look at so much porn... And yet the majority of Americans say looking at porn is "wrong." Porn is a national contradiction baked into the daily ablutions of hundreds of millions of people.
Baked into ablutions, eh? Okay. I don't see much contradiction in the belief that something is wrong and the doing of it anyway. Isn't that part of the charm? Madrigal continues:
So pornography remains undertheorized.
"Undertheorized" is a funny word. Almost as funny as "ablutions." But you see the point: To declare something "undertheorized" is to long for academic study. For example, I found a law review article (humorously) titled "The Under-Theorized Asterisk Footnote" (by Charles A. Sullivan):
The asterisk footnote... identifies the author... This footnote is used by every scholar but analyzed by none. This scholarly inattention is shocking given the remarkable growth and development of the asterisk footnote over the last 40 years. This Article is the first effort to address this gaping lacuna in scholarship. It is my hope (perhaps not my expectation) that it will launch a wave of asteriskian studies that will throw new light on the legal academy.
So... what else is undertheorized? What is overtheorized? What is better left undertheorized?

Who are the people who go into theorizing, and why would they specialize in porn?

(I remember when a certain type of feminist went seriously theoretical over porn. "Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice." The theory is that it is the theory. But that theory fell out of fashion.)

Socks and sandals.

Believe it.

This is perhaps the worst-received Sartorialist photograph ever. From the comments:
Lucky your post’s title had Paris in it otherwise I would have thought it was ironic! Now I just think how decadent Parisians must be to find this edgy! Normcore huh! It reminds me of the French character in one of Nancy Mitford’s books who tells her English friends she’s discovered the most chic London store full of marvellous things and they’re all wondering what they’ve overlooked and it turns out to be ‘the Woolworth’.

“nomakeupselfie is the biggest load of rubbish I've ever heard."

"How does putting a selfie with no make up on support cancer?"

MORE: BBC:
Across the UK, social media timelines have been bombarded with the #nomakeupselfie hashtag. It has been used almost 15,000 times on Twitter and many thousands more on Facebook as well. So what prompted the unusual trend? Most of the pictures are accompanied by phrases like "cure cancer" and "cancer awareness" but - at least to begin with - they weren't associated with any specific goal or charity. This was not an orchestrated campaign.

Baffled by the trend, a backlash began in earnest. One confused tweeter posted: "Because not wearing make up is like... having cancer? I hope I'm missing the point here." Another said: "I don't get the #nomakeupselfie for cancer? How does it help? I'd rather donate money towards it that take a picture." Soon bloggers were entering the fray too.

Cancer Research UK says it has had more than 800,000 text donations since Wednesday - raising more than £1 million ($1.6 million).
Video at that last link has a reporter on video supposedly explaining the connection between no makeup and cancer. I've watched it, and I didn't hear an explanation. 3 things I thought of are: 1. No-makeup selfies get attention, and the women are thinking, now that I've got your attention, I'll encourage you to do something good, which is to give to a charity I like, 2. A makeup-free woman is somehow like a cancer patient, perhaps because she looks less vibrant (more sickly?), 3. A makeup-free woman is exposing the stark reality of her physical being which includes the vulnerability of the physical being to diseases such as cancer.

"Because serious muckrakers who parrot their husband's captive political POVs in a once-grand newspaper buy lipstick at Kmart..."

"... and smear it all over themselves, because, hey, they're serious people -- and also sexually desirable. Or something."

A comment on WaPo's "Why we wrote about the Koch Industries and its leases in Canada’s oil sands," which responds to Power Line's "Washington Post Falls for Left-Wing Fraud, Embarrasses Itself," which referred to a WaPo article by Steve Mufson and Juliet Eilperin titled (apparently falsely) "The biggest lease holder in Canada’s oil sands isn’t Exxon Mobil or Chevron. It’s the Koch brothers."

Power Line responds to the material at the first link with "The Washington Post Responds to Me and I Respond to the Post," and I got there via Instapundit, who said: "I’d really like to see a list of who’s married to/sleeping with whom in the Washington press corp, rather than having this drip out scandal by scandal."

Here's the lipsticky pic that Power Line includes at the "Responds to Me/I Respond" post that seems to have fired up the commenter I quoted:



When does it detract from your argument to go after a woman for her looks? When the aspects of her looks that strike you as ridiculous are things that she's done to herself? When your objection to her seems to have something to do with how she's deployed her looks to make herself part of a Washington power couple? When she's been really despicably deceptive and you want to lock onto an image to feel hate toward?

Why go after the female half of a co-written article? Because the male half has maintained the kind of natural look for himself that is really not much of a choice for a man. Only a woman's look — because there's such a range of choice — seems revelatory of the inner space of her mind. But be careful of getting drawn in to your fantasies of what's going on in that female mental vortex. You could get hurt. Badly. Quite aside from the way it distracts us from the meat of your argument.

Whither the meat?

"The Rhode Island School of Design alumna, who calls herself an artist first, actress second, is cautiously aware of the 'specialness' of her situation..."

"... but reasons, 'if someone was willing to show my work now, I don’t really care why. I’m honored to have the platform.'"

The actress-artist is Jemima Kirke (of the HBO show "Girls"). The article is in the NYT.

From the comments (links added):
First Shia Labeouf tries to pass off the work of Dan Clowes as his own. Now Jemima Kirke is ever-so-earnestly describing how the friends she painted deeply inspired her "art" rather than the Alice Neel coffee table books she clearly cherishes and studies. There is something fundamentally wrong with this Napster generation. Just because you can play a passable cover of "Needle in the Hay" does not mean you ARE Elliott Smith or that you actually WROTE the song. Ms. Kirke's attempt to pass off her work as anything other than homage is reminiscent of a classic headline from The Onion: "Judge Awards Heather Mills Writing Credit On Eleanor Rigby."
Many commenters carp about the similarity to the work of Alice Neel and some attack the Times for failing even to mention Neel. For contrast, when the NYT wrote about that painting George Bush did of himself in the bathtub, it did not fail to cite Pierre Bonnard — "Pierre Bonnard’s strangely chaste, luminous paintings of his wife reclining in a bathtub."

How do you feel about celebrity artists getting attention when lesser-known, better artists are ignored? Is it okay as long as any artists they steal from also get the press? Is it okay as long are there's no different treatment based on the politics of the celebrity artists? Or is it just all about the clicks and nothing here really matters?

"I need a taller college aged brunette female student to take a math placement test for me in person as I am out of state currently."

"If you believe that you can be of help please respond to this ad and let me know your math qualifications. Must know college level math. Willing to pay a neg fee. This could turn into more work in the near future if interested. Serious inquiries only as I need this done ASAP! Thank you!"

Casual, open cheating via Craigslist.

A bill in Massachusetts that would require you to get permission from a judge in order to have sex in your own home.

1. The requirement would apply during the pendency of a divorce, separation, or restraining order proceedings and only where there are children in the home.

2. The state senator who introduced the bill is Richard J. Ross, a Republican.

3. After Think Progress called attention to this in a post titled "Bill Forces People Going Through Divorce To Get A Judge’s Permission Before Having Sex In Own Home"...
Ross’ staff told ThinkProgress that the senator is "not in support" of the bill. It was filed on behalf of a constituent, Robert LeClair, as a courtesy to him. Massachusetts law allows legislators to put forth a citizen’s piece of legislation, as Ross did in this case, though there is no requirement that they do so.
4. What?!

5. Googling, I see that back in 2011, one Robert Leclair — identified then as a "local Massachusetts lawmaker" — was proposing the law himself (and not as a constituent of Ross's). We're told: "Leclair is a divorcee himself and also the former president of Fathers United for Equal Justice."

6. I'm very sympathetic to children caught in the upheaval that is divorce, and a new man in the home — stepping into Dad's old role — may sometimes/usually make life harder for them, but: a. Maybe if ex-husband weren't so intent on using raw power to control his ex-wife, she'd still be married to him, b. Just because something is recognized as a problem doesn't mean that your solution is better than the problem, c. Laws that on paper oversolve problems and that in reality cannot/will not be enforced at all make a mockery of the rule of law, d. Legislators who introduce bills that they don't even support should be banned from engaging in sexual activity in the home or anywhere else until they withdraw that bill.

Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin.

We drove 1,000 miles yesterday. Hence the late start today.

I need to adjust to the new time zone and altitude. I'll have something for you to read soon...

Here's a photo from Boulder. I like the curved building, the glass bricks, and the colors next to the deep blue sky, but I took this picture for the sign in the window, "Obama Stimulus Pizza" (what's on it?!):

March 21, 2014

"A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not offer any Algebra II courses..."

"... while a third of those schools do not have any chemistry classes."
Black students are more than four times as likely as white students — and Latino students are twice as likely — to attend schools where one out of every five teachers does not meet all state teaching requirements....

Time to Split Boulder.

"Well, bisexual people are kind of like that dog... They’re misunderstood. They’re ignored. They’re mocked."

"Even within the gay community, I can’t tell you how many people have told me, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t date a bisexual.’ Or, ‘Bisexuals aren’t real.’ There’s this idea, especially among gay men, that guys who say they’re bisexual are lying, on their way to being gay, or just kind of unserious and unfocused."

Said a man who identifies as a bisexual. He also identifies as a lawyer, and he once represented a lady whose gay neighbors were — as the NYT article "The Scientific Quest to Prove Bisexuality Exists" puts it — "trying to have her dog put down." The man, Brad S. Kane, said he took the side of the dog — not the anti-dog gay guys — because the dog was "the underdog." "The dog needed help, needed a voice."

Nothing I've quoted above says "science" to me. I think there's a social quest to affirm the existence of bisexuality. People choose (or happen) to think of themselves that way and feel that it's mean not to accept them at their word. But that can be a prompt for scientific research. Somehow, I don't believe people really want a scientific answer to the question... unless it's the answer they want.

The lack of scientific orientation is apparent in the article title, which, you'll note, is not The Scientific Inquiry Into Whether Bisexuality Exists.

Suddenly, I feel like paraphrasing Voltaire: If bisexuality did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

Obama says that in midterm elections, Democrats "get clobbered..."

"... either because we don’t think it’s important or because we get so discouraged about what’s happening in Washington that we think it’s not worth our while."

But in a presidential election year, Democrats "do pretty well," because "[s]uddenly a more representative cross section of America gets out there."

"It’s virtually impossible for anyone other than Clinton to raise money or build a campaign infrastructure, the thinking goes, with Clinton hovering overhead."

"Yet Clinton’s allies believe it’s not true — and increasingly they are saying so."
In fact, they argue the opposite: that the former first lady is shielding other prospective Democratic contenders from months of attacks and scrutiny they’d probably face without her in the picture. There’s simply no need for Clinton to start a campaign this early, they say....

“I actually think it’s a good thing — if Hillary has frozen the field, it’s a good thing,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell... “To be honest, people start these campaigns far too early...The desire to keep a Democratic president will still be strong [within the party] … it’ll be a more compact campaign, and to that extent maybe a less damaging and divisive campaign.”
ADDED: A new Gallup poll has the top reason for voting for Hillary that she'd be the first female President. Only 18% though. Experience gets 9%. Importantly, 49% say nothing or no opinion.

"The senior guard Aaron Craft of Ohio State after his last-second shot bounced out, giving 11th-seeded Dayton a win over the sixth-seeded Buckeyes."

Caption to a great photo. Cool writing too:
Aaron Craft lay on the floor, his arms behind his head, staring up at the arena ceiling, as if the hardcourt were a poolside chaise longue.

Red was all around him, the jubilant scrum of Dayton players racing around the court, dancing and laughing, while Craft, Ohio State’s senior guard, just lay there, in the middle of it, the popped balloon at a raging party.

His mind raced: the last four seconds, the last four years....

Airbnb is, apparently, worth more than Hyatt.

$10 billion.

Why build all those buildings when you can build all that with your mind?

"A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer."

That's the subhead of a new Atlantic article by Hanna Rosin — head: "The Overprotected Kid" — which is actually mostly about a playground in North Wales that's really not the sort of thing Americans would accept in their towns:
The ground is muddy in spots and, at one end, slopes down steeply to a creek where a big, faded plastic boat that most people would have thrown away is wedged into the bank. The center of the playground is dominated by a high pile of tires....

[S]omeone has already started a fire in the tin drum in the corner, perhaps because it’s late fall and wet-cold, or more likely because the kids here love to start fires.... Nearby... a stack of filthy mattresses... large structures made up of wooden pallets stacked on top of one another... a frayed rope swing that carries you over the creek and deposits you on the other side, if you can make it that far (otherwise it deposits you in the creek).... the kids seem excited by a walker that was donated by one of the elderly neighbors...
It's an eyesore. It's low class. And also kids will get hurt, which I'm sure is the socially acceptable complaint.

March 20, 2014

"The way to prove you love thy neighbor is to warn them they’re committing sin."

"You’re not going to get nowhere with that slop that 'God loves you,'... That’s a diabolical lie from hell without biblical warrant."

Said Fred Phelps Sr., whose earthly days are over now after 84 years.


"You can’t believe the Bible without believing that God hates people... It’s pure nonsense to say that God loves the sinner but hates the sin. He hates the sin, and he hates the sinner. He sends them to hell. Do you think he loves the people in hell?"

Why did we pay attention to this man? Do you think that people who truly believe God condemns some of us to hell say things like he said? It's perfect nonsense, but he served some purpose for those who made him famous. Who really gives a damn?

At the Boulder Café...



... rock on.

"In a remarkable post yesterday, Moulitsas, founder and publisher of the progressive community site DailyKos, celebrates the departure from the Senate..."

"... of 10 moderate Democrats over the last decade, and makes clear his hope that Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) lose their tough reelection battles this year. He doesn’t name some other moderates in tight races, like Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), but his logic suggests that he’d be only too happy to say goodbye to them as well."

Liberals against free speech. Well, duh!

David Savage has a piece titled "Supreme Court faces wave of free-speech cases from conservatives," and he's at pains to portray liberals as the erstwhile strong proponents of free speech.
For decades, liberals wielded the 1st Amendment to protect antiwar activists, civil rights protesters and government whistle-blowers. These days, however, the Constitution's protection for free speech and religious liberty has become the weapon of choice for conservatives.
Give me a break! When did "these days" begin? 30 years ago?! I have a strong feeling for the free-speech liberalism of the 1960s, which is what Savage refers to, but I haven't seen that from political "liberals" in 3 decades. So the notion that conservatives are the ones pushing free speech values is hardly surprising!

Anita Hill says that Biden did a "terrible job" of running the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing.

In a new interview:
“I think he did two things that were a disservice to me, that were a disservice more importantly to the public," Hill said. "There were three women who were ready and waiting and and subpoenaed to be giving testimony about similar behavior that they had experienced or witnessed. He failed to call them."
Hey, journalists: Ask Biden about it!

"News Anchor Retracts Claim That Jay Carney Gets Questions In Advance."

Lame and getting lamer.

"He’s a skinny kid who got through a skinny hole."

"I walked around the construction site and figured out how to access the Freedom Tower rooftop," said the 16-year-old Justin Casquejo who made it past the "ring of steel" security (AKA a "clueless" elevator operator and a sleeping guard) and was able to climb to the top of the WTC spire. He spent 2 hours cavorting — "he ran hog wild" — before he was noticed and removed.

Bruce Rauner, "denounced by union leaders, some of whom say they fear he will try to be the next Mitch Daniels... or a knockoff of Gov. Scott Walker..."

In the NYT: "Union Leaders Gird for Battle Against Republican Running for Governor of Illinois."
While struggles over the role of unions have boiled over in recent years in Republican-held Midwestern states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, a fight in Illinois, President Obama’s home state and a Democratically controlled union stronghold, marks new ground. His Democratic opponent in November, Gov. Pat Quinn, is seen as vulnerable....

“I’m not anti-union,” [Rauner] said last week. His complaint, he says, is with public sector union leaders who donate to political leaders. “When government union power can influence politicians in the contract negotiations for pensions, for pay scales, for health care, it’s a direct financial incentive — in effect as a bribe — with someone across the negotiating table.”

Why interviews with Obama are done standing up.

"But what was interesting--a side note--is the reason why we're standing, I was told by one of his staffers, is because he likes to get comfortable when he's sitting and he tends to get very chatty. And so this was another way to keep him — and us — at the four minutes that they were suggesting that we not go over."

Isn't it nice of the reporters to take suggestion?

Did you know that the oldest meaning for the English word "suggestion" — according to the (unlinkable) OED — is "Prompting or incitement to evil; an instance of this, a temptation of the evil one"? ("Deedly synne hath first suggestion of the feend." Chaucer, Parson's Tale 1386)

That meaning is obsolete now, but nevertheless interesting. I went looking up the word because I thought of "taking suggestion" in terms of hypnosis. The hypnosis meaning — which goes back to the late 19th century — is "The insinuation of a belief or impulse into the mind of a subject by words, gestures, or the like; the impulse or idea thus suggested." I think that's about right for the effect of Obama's people on the reporters.

What can be done to wake these people from their hypnotic state?
1. Tell them they are becoming more and more awake at each count and begin slowly counting from one to a predetermined number.

2. Tell them to "get up" or "wake up". If they don't, repeat step 1.

3. If there are still problems, remember that the participant may either be actually asleep, or simply is being stubborn about getting up out of the trance.
What's happening with these reporters?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Why little David wasn't shocked when he peed on an electrical outlet.

In yesterday's post about toilets, the commenter David-2 recounts a story of getting up in the middle of the night to pee when he was a little boy and not only missing the toilet, but hitting "a very badly placed electrical socket."
I still remember the fireworks show! I wasn't shocked (electrically, I mean) or hurt ... just damn surprised!
A nice thing about blogging one commenter's lifelong mystery is solved by other commenters. SJ takes the first shot, but kind of misses:
And I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out why you didn't receive an electric shock... The path-of-least-resistance for electricity was from the +110V AC wire to the neutral wire, and not through the urine to you. Now, I'm no longer surprised that you weren't shocked.
That brought correction from sojerofgod:
Actually, that is not why he wasn't shocked. Water does not actually flow in a stream. The surface tension of the liquid is such that it actually forms discrete droplets that are invisible to the eye due to the "analog" nature of vision. (See: Visual persistence.) Only if the voltage had been high enough to arc from droplet to droplet would the electricity have found him. -or if the distance was very short, which would kind of blur the line between "accidentally" and "deliberately" if the boy chose the latter, well, lets just say its a weird way to light up your life...

Boulder, sunrise.



The view from our window just now. Longer view, with moon and hotel:

March 19, 2014

Potato doughnuts dipped in chocolate.



Delicious!

A trend in search words that have brought people to this blog.

As shown by Site Meter, percentage of recent visitors to this blog:

"Nate Silver's new venture, FiveThirtyEight, is now live, and the reviews are starting to come in. To summarize: it's terrible."

Says Ryan Cooper at The Week:
Reviewers from Paul Krugman to Tyler Cowen — who seldom agree on much — have panned the launch. If you need to be personally convinced, just check out this example. Yikes.
I was going to post about that very example when I noticed it yesterday...

Rand Paul at Berkeley on "The N.S.A. vs. Your Privacy."

"He seemed at ease, reclining in a chair on stage as he answered questions... Wearing baggy bluejeans, an oxford shirt with a red tie and cowboy boots...."
Mr. Paul seemed amused by the incongruity of his appearance here and grinned as he discussed his reasons for accepting the school’s invitation.... “I see it as a way to attract new people to the party”.... The point of his visit, he said, was “hopefully showing that the message of a Republican with a libertarian twist may well be acceptable to people, even in Berkeley.”

"Just what every successful woman wants chiselled on her gravestone: 'Herein lies the girlfriend of a man more famous than her.'"

Cries of sexism in the reporting of the death by suicide of fashion designer/Mick Jagger girlfriend L'Wren Scott.
Fashion writer Laurie Brookins tweeted: "You set feminism back 100 years, @NYTStyles, when you can't manage to put L'Wren Scott's name first in favor of who she dated #Disrespect."
This was a suicide, an act of murderous violence, and it includes all of the killer's loved ones as victims. I therefore have absolutely no problem with putting Mick Jagger first in these news reports.

My blog post 2 days ago only had 2 tags: Mick Jagger and suicide. Commenter rcommal said: "Tagging for this post is...interesting."

I responded: "Think about it as boring, because that does explain it, interestingly enough."

Is that too enigmatic? My point is that I had the option of creating a new tag for L'Wren Scott, because there wasn't an existing tag for her, as there was for Mick Jagger. If I didn't have a tag for her before — I doubt if I have any tags for individual fashion designers — I wasn't going to create one on the occasion of her suicide.

Let's not sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide. It is the murder of a human being, a human being who is getting away with murder. It is not a closed system of a unified murderer and victim. There are living victims, and in this case, one of those victims is a very famous artist whose work and life we have followed for half a century.

"The Malaysians have kept American investigators at a distance since the plane vanished in the early hours of March 8..."

"... angering some lawmakers in Washington who believe the F.B.I. should have been playing a larger role in the investigation from the beginning."

And this, from someone related to a passenger: "The Malaysian government is a bunch of cheats. All the governments of the world must join together to pressure the Malaysian government to give an explanation."

The news about toilets — reported by a woman at the statistically oriented website FiveThirtyEight.

Yesterday, I noted the "awful gender optics" at the website FiveThirtyEight.
They've got one female and 6 males... [and] the one woman they've got, Mona Chalabi, has as her first topic on her list of 3 topics, toilets. They have the woman doing the toilets!
But let's look at that article about toilets, "Toilet Seat Covers: To Use or Not to Use." As the headline indicates, Ms. Chalabi focuses on those paper shields that one sometimes encounters on toilets. The first few words suggest that the reader is presumed to be female: "When your date casually mentions his flossing routine...." Chalabi signals her cleanliness which extends even to the males she dates. They are the type whose small talk assures the female that they attend to the finer aspects of hygiene.

Anyway, as noted, the topic is toilet seat covers, and Chalabi — following the FiveThirtyEight approach to journalism — mines a paper published in Pediatrics for statistics that relate to why one might not want to sit directly on a toilet seat. There are 8 paragraphs of that, and then one last paragraph:
You can decide for yourself whether the covers are a low-cost way to minimize risk or an expensive waste of paper. But there is one other piece of research that might be relevant, especially if you’re a man. Between 2002 and 2010, doctors documented 8,959 incidents of “penile crush injury related to a toilet seat” in U.S. emergency rooms. We’re not sure how those happened — for example, whether most occurred sitting or standing — but we thought you should factor it into your decision about the seat covers.
Ha ha. That sounds like it's meant to be funny. It's only a penis, and what are these men, so inept that they can't deal with the up-and-down of a toilet seat? We’re not sure how those happened... 

If you go to the summary of the study, at Chalabi's link, you'll easily picture how it happened, and it's not cute or funny at all. There were 13,175 genitourinary injuries related to toilet seats in the U.S. in the years 2002–2010.
The most common mechanism involved crush from accidental fall of toilet seat, described in 9011 (68.4%, 95% CI 6907–11 115) cases.

Most crush injuries were isolated to the penis (98.1%). Of crush injuries, 81.7% occurred in children aged 2–3 years and 99.3% occurred in the home. Crush injuries increased over the period 2002–2010 (P = 0.017) by ≈100 per year, ending with an estimated 1707 (95% CI 1011–2402) by 2010.
The journal, remember, is Pediatrics. These are very little boys just learning to pee at the toilet, with their penis in a vulnerable spot, after they've swung the seat into an incompletely upright position. Once you visualize the problem, the design defect of the toilet seat is actually quite shocking. And yet here is Chalabi — supposedly into statistical revelations — transforming this information into something like a joking parting shot for the article. The reader is prompted to laugh at a grown man — perhaps a bad "date" — who can't even protect his own penis when he opts to pee standing up.

Thanks to Meade for reading the toilet article (which I had referred to in yesterday's post without reading). His comment on yesterday's post was:
[W]ho knew so many American males (1000+ per year) suffer the injury of penile crush caused, apparently, by plumbing design catering to womens' gender specific demands to have the toilet seat DOWN?

The President of the United States signals his vigilance to the needs of the nation in these troubled times.

"Obama reveals Final Four bracket picks."

"I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they’re the right ones," said Obama, assuring us of his stability and wisdom as we move forward into what some say is if not a resurgence of the Cold War then something chilly that reminds them of the Cold War.

They say Putin laughed at Obama, but it is Obama who laughs at Putin, now, with this masterful show of attending to the frippery of a college sports tournament.

"Pedestrians were more likely to think that a well-dressed individual was more likely to have the money to buy something in the store."

"Shop assistants thought the opposite. Those more familiar with the luxury retail environment were more likely to assume that a gym-clothes-wearing client was confident enough to not need to dress up more, and therefore more apt to be a celebrity making a purchase than someone wrapped in fur."

From a Wall Street Journal article titled, "Success Outside the Dress Code/The subtle cues that help nonconformists break from the pack and thrive; Power of sweatpants."

March 18, 2014

"Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people."

Said President Vladimir V. Putin, embracing Crimea as a part of Russia.
Mr. Putin dipped into deep wells of emotion, starting with the 10th century baptism of Prince Vladimir, whose conversion to Orthodox Christianity transformed the kingdom then known as Rus, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which left many Russians of his generation feeling that they had been stripped of their nation overnight.

“Millions of Russians went to bed in one country and woke up abroad,” he said. “Overnight, they were minorities in the former Soviet republics, and the Russian people became one of the biggest — if not the biggest — divided nation in the world.”...

Mr. Putin brushed aside concerns about economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation, saying the West had forced Russia’s hand. By supporting the political uprising that toppled Ukraine’s president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, the United States and Europe crossed “a red line,” Mr. Putin said, forcing him to act to protect Crimea’s population from what he called “Russophobes and neo-Nazis” that had seized control in an illegal coup abetted by foreigners.

"They had to cut my head off basically, I have scar from ear to ear. That was my first experience."

"You think circumcision's bad? Wait till they cut your fucking head off! But my grandmother told me for my entire life — everyday, 'John, you're the luckiest boy in the world.' And when you hear that everyday from somebody you actually start to believe it, which made me adventurous, which made me not afraid to try things, which made me not care about stopping myself from doing things that people said you shouldn't be doing."

That's John Mellencamp, answering "What adventure changed your life?," the first question in an excellent interview. (Via Metafilter.) He was born with spina bifida, and what they did back then "is let the kids lay there, and they would die, that's just what they would do." But a doctor (in Indiana) had an experiment to try and Mellencamp's parents allowed it.

(My mother had a sister, born circa 1930, who was born with spina bifida, who died in exactly the way Mellencamp describes.)

The awful gender optics at FiveThirtyEight.

Yesterday, we were talking about Nate Silver's big new project, an ambitious news website founded on his highly successful approach — originally done solo — of processing statistical information. Silver made his reputation crunching election polls and predicting outcomes. That is, he had lots of raw information, and there were specific events in the future that would occur on a particular, known date and which many people care about intensely. How does that scale up into a whole news website? I'm going to be watching, and I've read a few articles and will keep reading and reporting my observations.

But I've just got to show you this, the entire array of "contributors" displayed in the sidebar on the main page at FiveThirtyEight:



They've got one female and 6 males. I guess it says something about their orientation toward numbers that they put 3 males then the female, then the other 3 males. That's sorta like gender-balancing. I'm not going to say they need to equalize the numbers for the sake of appearance, because I wouldn't want them to further degrade the significance of women by padding the operation with females who are not respected. My criticism is that the one woman they've got, Mona Chalabi, has as her first topic on her list of 3 topics, toilets. They have the woman doing the toilets! Her second topic is: teeth. Teeth!

I know these guys are statistics-focused, but somebody has got to have some sturdy intuitions about how things look and feel.

"Heathers: The Musical."

I loved the movie, which came out in 1989 — pre-9/11, pre-Colombine — but quite aside from the whole problem of making movies into Broadway musicals, the theme of a teenage rebel blowing up all the kids at school feels quite different. But The New Yorker says the "issues of bully-related suicide, school shootings, and bomb threats are even more relevant."

"Bully-related suicide" is an interesting expression here. The bullied kids commit murder and disguise it as suicide. It's a dark and comic fantasy of revenge against the bullies, taken to the extreme of a willingness to blow all the other kids away. That's what — post-"Heathers"-the-movie — the Colombine shooters and Adam Lanza did. So the themes from the old movie are "relevant" only in a very distorted way. Where's the comedy now in killing the mean kids at school?

(I suspect The New Yorker writer was writing from a press release and doesn't actually know the movie and what the story really is.)

March 17, 2014

3 views of Boulder.

Very Boulder:



Looking out:



Looking closely... pulsatilla:

"24 Mind-Blowing Facts About Marijuana Production in America."

"The way marijuana is grown in America, it turns out, is anything but sustainable and organic," explains Mother Jones.

Mick Jagger's long-time girlfriend, the fashion designer L'Wren Scott "used a scarf to hang herself from an L-shaped doorknob."

How can a 6'3" woman hang herself on a doorknob? "You lean away from the door applying pressure till you pass out.... After that, gravity takes over."

One friend said: "L'Wren is probably the only person I look at her Instagram and say she has such a glamorous life. She was always on a plane. She was always very controlling, strong."

"The point is that data journalism isn’t just about using numbers as opposed to words."

"To be clear, our approach at FiveThirtyEight will be quantitative — there will be plenty of numbers at this site. But using numbers is neither necessary nor sufficient to produce good works of journalism...."
So perhaps we should think more carefully about the process by which anecdote is transformed into data and information. We might break it down into four rough steps... the collection of data or evidence.... organization....  explanation.... generalization.....

"Obamacare leaves the average 27 year old facing a gender-averaged 47.5 percent premium increase..."

"Even after subsidies, that’s an expense that many Millennials can’t afford. Perversely, such high costs make it even harder for us to purchase health insurance in the future, when we can afford it. By not signing up for expensive plans now, insurance rates will increase as soon as next year — for everyone. That leaves us with two choices: Buy an unaffordable plan now, or wait and buy an unaffordable plan later."

From a piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal titled "We’re young, but we aren’t stupid."

"Gender-averaged"? I'd like to see that broken down into what the average increase is for a 27-year-old male and a 27-year-old female. The decisions are being made by individuals, each of whom is either a male or a female. I assume that males are looking at a much larger increase and are seeing much less advantage in having the insurance and that this is precisely why they are the most desirable members of the pool.

Young males know better than to gripe too bitterly about the burdens on the male. The above-linked article is written by a male — Evan Feinberg, the President of Generation Opportunity (whatever that is) — and he means to express himself strongly, yet he's bound by present-day gender politesse and only tells us about the "gender-averaged" problem.

With so much gender politics pandering to women, it's strange that men, feel the need to adopt a "gender-averaging" approach to talking about problems. I mean, I understand the desire to be safe and adopt a self-defensive posture, but some of this gender etiquette is utterly obfuscatory.

Life with robots — Is it pathetic to want them to insult us?

It's just a Scrabble-playing robot that says things like "I can't believe your feeble mind was able to play that word," but still... it's some kind of sign of our craving for more human interaction. But I think robots that insult us are a very old idea in sci-fi books and movies. I was prompted to blog this because it's in the Wall Street Journal, but as I'm writing this post, I'm thinking that the only thing that's interesting here is that the Wall Street Journal thinks it's interesting.

I Googled "robots that insult," and the first thing that came up was a long list of insults Dr. Smith aimed at the robot on "Lost in Space." "Bellicose Bumpkin" (used 4 times on the series),  "Bubble-headed Booby" (9 times), "Cowardly Clump" (7 times), "Quivering Quintessence of Fear" (only once). That was back in the 60s, and Dr. Smith was insulting the robot, not programming the robot to insult him so he could feel less bereft of human contact.

My search also led me to a piece from last fall titled "Barack Obama: Being like this robot isn't an insult."
Maureen Dowd of The New York Times likened the Barack Obama-Joe Biden relationship to the "Robromance" on "Almost Human," a Fox cop show arriving Nov. 17.

Dowd compared Obama to the show's "attractive black robot who is highly evolved, logic-based and designed to be as human as possible." Then she wrote dismissively of "Obama's android air."...
The columnist tells us about the "Almost Human" robot character who is "as altruistic and considerate and empathetic as you'd want," and concludes:
Being called a robot isn't an insult if you're being compared to Dorian. It's a compliment.
Again, I have not found an article about a robot who insults. This is the assertion that it's not an insult to be called a robot... at least not when you're Obama. Because if Obama is like a robot, it must be a wonderful robot.

Erwin Chemerinsky leans heavily into Ruth Bader Ginsburg: She "should retire."

The influential dean of the UC Irvine School of Law puts his weight into the Ginsburg-must-retire movement.

It is necessary — don't you know? — for the over-aged woman to step aside. For the good of liberals.

Hey! What about Hillary?! This completely overlaps with the liberal interest in convincing Americans that Hillary is not too old to be President. I Googled "Hillary is too old" and got "[a]bout 56,900,000 results," including a column in today's USAToday titled "Is Hillary too old for 2016?"

Shouldn't Chemerinsky, et al., be conveying their message to the venerable Ginsburg in a more dignified behind-the-scenes manner? Or is that known to have failed? Or is there some other message — for Us the People — to be absorbed for some reason I'm missing?

Does Chemerinsky have anything new to say — anything that doesn't make the pressure on Ginsburg even more unseemly? Her birthday just came up a couple days ago, and she hit 81. Last year was the landmark 80. 81 is not special, other than to be — yikes! — even older than 80. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and John Paul Stevens both served until they were 90.

Is the 90 mark only for men? This would be the "war on women" if the President were a Republican. But the President is a Democrat, so it's Step aside, old lady.
[O]nly by resigning this summer can she ensure that a Democratic president will be able to choose a successor who shares her views and values....
Chemerinsky frets about the Democrats' losing the Senate this fall, and Ginsburg's retiring in June, he assumes, will give Obama the power to pick "virtually anyone he wants" for the Court. Filibuster is unlikely, Chemerinsky informs us, and anyway, the Democrats have the power to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court Justices. They've already eliminated the filibuster for the rest of the federal judiciary.

Chemerinsky doesn't touch upon the political repercussions of such a drastic and obvious move, but he can't be so shortsighted and judge-focused that he doesn't notice. Is he so pessimistic about the Democrats in the fall elections that he thinks they might as well throw their power around this summer while they still have it?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 16, 2014

At the Doggy-in-the-Window Café...



... come in and bring us company.

"Hey God, you know you’re kind of a [expletive] when you’re in a movie with Russell Crowe and you’re the one with anger issues."

"Conservatives are always going on about how Americans are losing their values and their morality, well maybe it’s because you worship a guy who drowns babies."

Sayeth Bill Maher, and it's interesting logic, on many levels. 1. It's a joke; he's a comedian. 2. It's viral; I'm linking; Drudge is linking; everyone's talking. 3. It attests to his atheism, because if there really were a God like that, you wouldn't dare incur His wrath by telling the truth. Thus, it is, paradoxically, a statement that can only be made by one who doesn't believe the statement. 4. For those who do believe in God, they must resist absorbing this observation, because to see the point is to risk horrific retaliation. When you cannot escape the clutches of a "psychotic mass murderer" — to use another of Maher's epithets for God — you must appease and appease (and you may find peace in Stockholm Syndrome). 5. Tweaking the conservatives; it's always fun for liberals to think they are making steam blow out of conservative ears. 6. Dead babies... abortion... get on it, conservatives... surely, you can connect this up and hit back... this stuff always connects... babeeees... that insufferable prick said babeeees....

Whither the NYT? It no longer notices the difference between "kvelling" and "kvetching."

Yeah, it's Maureen Dowd, but the NYT has editors. How embarrassing to go cutesy with the Yiddish but use completely the wrong word!

My link goes to Power Line, which has an update saying the NYT has corrected the mistake without a correction notice. Well, this just happens to be one of those rare occasions when I have a copy of the print edition at hand. Here's a photograph of the laughable gaffe:

"Watched several young 'writers' (aggregators) cry as they stared at barely nudging view/share counts."

"Two I heard calling their parents."

Life in new media, as tweeted by the pseudonymous Media Man, who might be reporting from behind the scenes and might be a comic writer guessing about what it's like. What difference does it make anyway?

Writing and eyeing the statistics about your readership — how awful is it? Some writers are writing only for themselves. These are the diarists who don't even dream that some day their words will be published. In new media, you see the readership stats immediately, and you can avoid ever looking and think that you're being truer, more genuine than those other people who want to know. You can look a little and enjoy the side game. Oh! I have some readers!

It's a long continuum, and at one extreme, you have the websites that are entirely premised on getting traffic and that hire young people and pressure them constantly to write for traffic. These young people collect their pay and know the nature of their work. It's a grueling sell-out job for some and maybe an exhilarating sport for others. Should we cry for the writers who take a job they can't hack? Or do we say why don't you wait tables or drive a cab while you write your truly genuine scribblings if you think they matter (even if they only matter to you)?

The real question is why anyone reads anything that's produced in the sick climate of new media? I'd like to think the answer is: Because there is this one blogger, who has always only said what she really thinks, and let the traffic fall where it may....

"Bobby Jindal... and Scott Walker both have strong education records."

Says Instapundit, causing me to think he was snarking on Walker's lack of a college degree. He's not, but anyone who has ideas about pushing Walker in the 2016 presidential campaign needs to be aware of this obvious weakness of his, which opponents will exploit like mad.

The Flight 370 pilot, "Zaharie Ahmad Shah was an ‘obsessive’ supporter of Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim."

"And hours before the doomed flight left Kuala Lumpur it is understood 53-year-old Shah attended a controversial trial in which Ibrahim was jailed for five years...."

Copying the URL to make that link (to The Daily Mail), I was surprised to see it contained the word "sodomite": Doomed-airliner-pilot-political-fanatic-Hours-taking-control-flight-MH370-attended-trial-jailed-opposition-leader-sodomite. That must be an aspect of The Daily Mail's highly successful traffic-pulling game. It's not entirely unsupported by the text. Scrolling quite far down, there's the detail that the charge against Ibrahim was "sodomy."

Now, political supporters of Ibrahim see it as political persecution, and I would assume it is. Of all the sodomites in Malaysia, why is an important political leader imprisoned?

Whether or not Shah is the demon we now suspect, if you knew the facts about him we now know, would you get on a airplane he piloted? Knowing that you don't know anything about your pilot — or maybe he tells you his name once you are in the air under his complete control — how can you stand to get on any airliner? I guess the favorite answer to that question is: You're always only playing the odds, whether you get in a car or an airplane.

You could be "safe" at home when your building blows up. When your number comes up, it's up. Live for the day. Live while you can.

Who is tempted by Colorado pot tourism?, Part 2.

In the comments to the previous post, where I asked what all the attention to Flight 370 was distracting us from, Left Bank of the Charles said:
Why is Althouse inviting trolling on her own blog? To distract from the fact she is in Ogallalla en route to Colorado, where she no doubt wants to test the new products that were the subject of her previous post. Spring break indeed!
I've already blogged about how if we go to Colorado again, people will say that. Here, back on January 2, in a post titled "Who is tempted by Colorado pot tourism?"
As you may know, I'm a travel skeptic, and these potrepreneurs and "Highlife Tours" only heighten my aversion. Imagine these guys wrangling you with a crowd of shambling boomers and bullshitting about the fine varietals of local weed. But you could put together your own road trip to Colorado. In fact, Colorado is the main place I've headed on my personal road trips, even before I married Meade, who has family in Colorado. Despite our lack of general enthusiasm for travel, we do drive to Colorado, and now when we drive to Colorado, as we will again soon, you're going to think we're pot tourists.
Much more at that link, including my oft-stated belief that we are not free to use marijuana until it is no longer a federal crime. That is, the law as it is now only unfairly, unequally burdens those who either believe rules must be followed or are so afraid of the government that it's not enough that the states have de-criminalized and the feds have said they will refrain from enforcement. That's an exquisitely special form of oppression.

As for Meade and me, this week, it's spring break and as travelers by car, we can decide where to go at the point when the weather forecasts firm up. There are other places where we could see driving — Bayfield, New York City, Austin, West Lafayette — but the path to Colorado was clear.