December 10, 2011

Another GOP debate is about to begin.

There will be 6 candidates participating. It's on ABC. I'll update with comments if they inspire me.

8:05 CT: Diane Sawyer talks to us as though we're children. It's ridiculous. I think she just saluted the candidates for their hard work. Then she asked them what their "distingwishwing" characteristic is. Yeesh! This will be a long night.

8:09: Romney announces he's about to go through a list of 7 things. I think he's trying to make Rick Perry — he who couldn't remember 3 things that time — feel bad.

8:26: Romney seems to have gotten under Newt's skin. Newt, defending himself, sounds cantankerous and keeps banging the table. Newt dings Mitt for bragging about not being a career politician, when the only reason he hasn't been is that Teddy Kennedy beat him in an election. Mitt quips: "If I'd have been able to get into the NFL, I'd have been a football star."

8:32: Bachmann makes a great little speech claiming to be the true conservative on the stage. She refers repeatedly to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as a single entity named "Newt Romney." A great sound bite... if anyone wants to pick it up.

8:41: Mitt tries to make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry about what's in Mitt's book about the individual mandate. Rick says he's "not in the betting business." Either that or he knows Mitt can correct him... and he does.

8:44: Do we honestly believe Romney and Gingrich — who have argued for the individual mandate in the past — are going to get rid of it in 2012? Michele Bachmann asks. And the entity she calls Newt Romney looks at itself and nods yes.

8:49: Is adultery relevant? That's the question. It puts only Newt on the hot seat.

"I meant coke! And fizz! Screw this auto cucumber!"

The Top 50 Fan Favorite entries in Damn You Autocorrect's first year.

I just made a nuisance of myself laughing way too much. Meade thinks most of them are fake. They're not that funny it you think they're fake. So, if you want to laugh, you've gotta believe. But if you do that, don't read them near a nonbeliever, because you will be very annoying.

Via Metafilter.

"Lawsuit for ADA violations and wrongful seizure. The plaintiff's four service monkeys..."

"... were taken from her as she attempted to change their diapers and feed them on Bourbon Street."

From "Today in Pro Se Litigation," noting a lawsuit against the Louisiana State Department of Wildlife & Fishery, and the fact that these monkeys on Bourbon Street were dressed up as pirates.

(Via Boing Boing.)

"Despite not yet having bestowed a single law degree, UC Irvine says it has placed nearly a fifth of its 2012 graduates with district and circuit court judges."

Wow! Impressive!

How could that happen? One thing is that there are only 58 students in the class of 2012. And the school offered them all full scholarships, which allowed it to be extremely selective (even though it wasn't yet accredited or ranked). There's more to it than that, of course. Congrats to UC-Irvine for a great start.

"Our children aren't there to be subjects of teachers and teachers unions."

"But the decisions that have been made in the Madison Metropolitan School District for a mighty long time have been determined by adults getting what they need first before kids."

Said Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, who has been trying to get approval for the Madison Preparatory Academy, a charter school aimed at low-income, minority students.
At one point, Madison Prep agreed to hire union teachers, and the union agreed to remain neutral on the proposal. When that plan proved too expensive, Madison Prep revised its plan to use nonunion teachers....

The union contract, which expires in 2013, doesn't allow Madison to hire nonunion teachers. Exceptions have been made previously through negotiated agreements between the union and the district.
There's some disagreement about whether, under under the state's new collective bargaining law, such an agreement would nullify the whole contract.

Renting a summer house for a month or 2 or 3.

Any advice on websites?

"Be for Romney: He's the Republican Clinton!"

A slogan, invented by me, in the course of a conversation with Meade, in which we were both speaking well of Romney and Bill Clinton.

Be careful about planking...

... in Wisconsin.

Ceramic watches.

Some lovely deals on impressive-looking items at Amazon.

Or how about something in the camera category.

And here's the general portal to Amazon.

The South Korean buildings that look like the World Trade Center on 9/11.

"It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks... nor did we see the resemblance during the design process," but "I have to admit that we also thought of the 9/11 attacks."

ADDED: Assume the architects intended to allude to the 9/11 image. Why would they do that? It can't be to give offense! Why would that be effective, to refer to 9/11 as if you were happy about it? If this building deliberately evokes the WTC in a state of destruction, it can't be to approve of the destruction, because the architects must want people to love their building. The point would need to be something more like: We defy the terrorists of the world. We stand for building skyscrapers in defiance of the nihilists.

Negative images can be adopted and re-purposed in a positive way. To cite an obvious example: the crucifixion of Christ. A crucifix is not displayed celebrate the torture and execution of Jesus. We invariably and easily understand it as a symbol of resurrection and eternal life.

So the building, if it indeed intentionally refers to the WTC, should be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization.

Are you happy because you are generous to your spouse?

Or are you generous to your spouse because you are happily married to him/her?

I should just say "her," because this article, in the NYT is surely aimed at women, who are invited to think about whether their husbands are generous enough. There's a study cited, naturally, but the study did little other than correlate self-reported happiness with answers to questions about how often the spouse performed acts of generosity.

I love this from the comments at the Times:
Someone should do a study of how many thoughtful writers in the NYT have jobbed out their own fine judgment to a "study" in the past, say, year. David Brooks, a fine and compassionate writer, is just one leading example among many.

This article is in the same vein. We should do this or that, be this way or that, "in order to" make our marriages work better, or whatever.

Generosity is a profoundly natural human impulse. What has happened to bury that natural impulse?

If I bring my partner coffee IN ORDER TO make our marriage better, then it isn't really generosity. It's simply mutual self-interest. Another dreary arms-length dealing. Instrumental and conditional "love" is no love at all. Love brings coffee because it brings coffee. It needs no empirical study.

What if someone acts generously on the expectation of better "results" that don't happen? Then what? Kindness can make a great difference, but only if we come FROM kindness, rather than trying to get TO kindness by justifying it with empirical studies.

Even the most profoundly spiritual things are, in our society, subjected to the utilitarian slavery of statistical studies. The minute we say "in order to", the conversation is over. We are simply acting as machines made of meat. We are ignoring the spark of the divine in everyone.

That spark yearns to fetch coffee and do a million other kindnesses. Forget the metric-worshiping statistical STUDIES! Listen to your heart!
Boldface added.

The Supreme Court will hear the Texas redistricting case — quickly, in time for the 2012 primary.

Adam Liptak reports:
The court stayed orders from a special three-judge court in San Antonio, which issued electoral maps late last month that seemed to help Democrats and Hispanic voters.

“This thrusts the Supreme Court right into the partisan thicket,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. “It is no exaggeration to say that with three or four additional Democratic seats at issue under the original court-drawn plan, the decision could help decide control of the House.”
In typical fashion, the NYT forefronts the Supreme Court's intrusion into politics when it runs counter to Democratic Party interests. But the lower court intruded itself into the matter, redrawing districts originally made by the Texas legislature (which is controlled by Republicans). The Supreme Court is reviewing the work of a court that shifted power toward Democrats. Officially — legally — what they're arguing about is whether the Texas legislature shortchanged Hispanic voters under the standards of the Voting Rights Act.

ADDED: From the Austin American-Statesman:
"We are hopeful that the Attorney General and his team will be able to demonstrate to the Court the necessity of throwing out the panel's maps," [said Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas]. "Further, we hope the Court will either restore the original district lines of the Legislature, or at the very least, make revisions to the district court panel's maps which are more in tune with the legislative intent."

"Santorum: 'Science Should Get Out Of Politics.'"

That's the headline at Talking Points Memo — a twist on the conventional statement Religion Should Get Out of Politics. But what did Santorum actually say?
The Des Moines Register reports from a Santorum campaign stop at the University of Northern Iowa, where he talked about education:
Discussing controversial classroom subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum said he has suggested that “science should get out of politics” and he is opposed to teaching that provides a “politically correct perspective.”
TPM follows up with a cute Simpsons reference — "A prayer in a public school! God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place within organized religion!" But what was Santorum really saying? "Science Should Get Out Of Politics" is the kind of provocative line that can work in a speech precisely because it has a bad interpretation. The listeners perk up, and the speaker proceeds to lead them to a very good interpretation. I'm sure there's a Greek name for that rhetorical device.

The Des Moines Register doesn't give any more context for the quote, however, and when I Google it, it get a string of hits for the quote — taken out of context — on numerous apparently left-leaning blogs. For example, The Stranger blog Slog says:
Buttsex-Obsessed Jesus Wizard Rick Santorum Says "Science should get out of politics"

What a fucking moron:
Discussing controversial classroom subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum said he has suggested that “science should get out of politics” and he is opposed to teaching that provides a “politically correct perspective.”
Rick Santorum is such a bucket of Santorum.
In the last line, "Santorum" is linked twice to the website used in the campaign to turn Santorum's name into a neologism with a filthy meaning. That campaign is affecting web searches on his name so that it's hard to Google for anything serious about Santorum. I did find his official website (by Googling "santorum official website"), and I've poked around over there but not found the text of the science-out-of-politics speech or anything that helps me figure out the context of the remark. I'm guessing the context has to do with the misuse of science somehow.

Perhaps Santorum people monitor what people are saying about him on blogs, and they'll respond to this post by sending me the text of the speech, which I would like to analyze.

December 9, 2011

Full moon in Warsaw.

The cab driver "does not like it when foreigners think of Poland as the 'former communist country.' It’s not that to him and I can tell that he dislikes my references to that communist past.... He does not know that I am, in fact, Polish. Or from Poland...."

Harassment of Wisconsin teacher who appeared in a Scott Walker ad opposed to the recall.

Here's the kind of email Kristi LaCroix is receiving:
“On Facebook there are lots of people willing to join the Fire Kristi movement. You are alone in a wilderness. Your financial help from the likes of the Koch brothers will dry up once your liabilities outweigh your assets, which will be very soon. Your best bet is to start a job search soon. Enjoy your isolation.”

"New York University will offer a class next semester on Occupy Wall Street (possibly two)."

The Department of Social and Cultural Analysis lists a course called "Cultures and Economies: Occupy Wall Street."

Reminds me of my old college days at the University of Michigan, circa 1970. Everything needed "relevant." The teachers, out of fear or their own ideology, put the word "revolution" into the titles of things.

What are the chances that someone not currently running will win the GOP nomination?

Nate Silver analyzes it and finds "a small but nontrivial chance that the Republican nominee could be someone like Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty or Chris Christie."

"Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" — a pro- or anti-bullying story?

If you said anti- because you think the bullied reindeer was ultimately incorporated into the group and valued, think again! Rudolph was only accepted because his idiosyncratic feature happened to prove useful to the group. Then all the reindeers loved him....

(Via Overlawyered.)

At the Brown Dog Café...

Brown dog

... you can howl all afternoon.

California bumper sticker: "California: It's All True."

A proposed bumper sticker, deemed brilliant by Peggy Noonan, who adapts it for her column "Gingrich Is Inspiring — and Disturbing":
That's the problem with Newt Gingrich: It's all true....

Ethically dubious? True. Intelligent and accomplished? True. Has he known breathtaking success and contributed to real reforms in government? Yes. Presided over disasters? Absolutely. Can he lead? Yes. Is he erratic and unreliable as a leader? Yes. Egomaniacal? True. Original and focused, harebrained and impulsive—all true.
The question isn't what it is, but: Do you want it?

It's all true, but do you want it?
Not California, but Gingrich.
Not either.
Just California. free polls 


At the Volokh corral.

"This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chavez."

Krauthammer interprets Obama's Osawatomie speech:
But with high unemployment, economic stagnation and unprecedented deficits, what else can Obama say?

He can’t run on stewardship. He can’t run on policy. His signature initiatives — the stimulus, Obamacare and the failed cap-and-trade — will go unmentioned in his campaign ads. Indeed, they will be the stuff of Republican ads.

What’s left? Class resentment. Got a better idea?
A good question!

University of Texas Law School Dean resigns "under pressure."

I don't know what that's all about, but...
In an interview, Sager characterizes the faculty compensation issues as "circumstances that undermine" the success he has achieved at the law school. He says he became a dean at a time when nontransparency regarding faculty compensation was the norm at UT and other law schools. But during his tenure, he says, "transparency began rolling in" and "the transition between transparency and nontransparency" created problems. Specially, in the 2009-2010 academic school year, he says he shared compensation information with a budget committee composed of faculty members but due to privacy concerns, he allowed only a subcomittee to see one-time loan arrangements with certain faculty members. Subsequently, some faculty members sought and received the open records information regarding compensation, he says.
Loan arrangements... the transition between transparency and nontransparency... One can only speculate about the discord that... rolled in....

Look, you can see their salaries.

"President Obama, who took office pledging to put science ahead of politics, averted a skirmish with conservatives in the nation’s culture wars..."

"... by endorsing his health secretary’s decision to block over-the-counter sales of an after-sex contraceptive pill to girls under age 17."

So begins the New York Times report, and it's hard not to read this as criticizing Obama, who phrased his support Sebelius in terms of his role "as the father of two daughters."
“And as I understand it, the reason Kathleen made this decision was she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going into a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect. And I think most parents would probably feel the same way.”...
Odd that all the attention is on the child's health. Who is impregnating 10- and 11-year olds? We're talking about serious crimes! One reason very young girls shouldn't be able to purchase this drug on their own is that it prevents criminal behavior from coming to light. The Times quotes James Trussell, director of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University saying “Where is an 11-year-old going to get the $50 to buy this product?” What willful blindness! There is a male in the picture somewhere, a male facing a severe criminal penalty.

The NYT refers to "[s]ome Democrats" offering reasons for "avoiding a divisive debate over teenagers’ sexuality." Teenagers' sexuality? When we talk about the Penn State scandal, there's no discussion of the "teenagers' sexuality." What "divisive debate" are these Democrats talking about?

December 8, 2011

At the Orange Café...

... you can talk all night.

(And consider doing a little shopping at Amazon. I just bought a couple more 24-packs of 100-watt incandescent bulbs. I hate to think of running out some day!)

"So far it appears that only Republicans and conservatives want Kagan to recuse herself from hearing the [Obamacare] case..."

"... while liberals and Democrats take the opposing view. I have been a liberal constitutional law professor for more than 20 years, and a loyal Democrat. I believe the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and that it would be truly unfortunate for the country (and the party) if the court strikes it down. I also recognize that there is a much greater chance of the court erroneously striking down the PPACA if Kagan recuses herself. That said, I believe that as a matter of both principle and law, Kagan should not hear the case."

Eric Segall in Slate.

"Mitt happens."

Newsbusters takes Jake Tapper to task for that "toilet" humor, but what I think is worse can be seen in the whole quote:
Absolutely. You know, in 2008, Romney was known for attacking his opponents. He has generally held back. But with the threat from Gingrich, here we have it: Mitt happens. And what we have here is Mitt Romney basically saying in this ad, "Yes, I'm a Mormon. But at least I'm not a philanderer, like Newt Gingrich."
What's worse is the casual swipe against Mormons. Tapper seems to think that's cute. Despicable.

Natalie Johnson says Macy's fired her for telling a male he could not use the women's dressing room.

The customer was shopping for women's clothes...
“I had to just be straightforward and tell him, ‘You’re a man,’ and of course that … really got him steamed,” Johnson told KSAT.

The teenager’s friends argued with Johnson, reportedly telling her that Macy’s allows transgender people to change in the dressing room of the gender they identify with.

“I made my choice the other day,” Johnson said. “I refuse to comply with this policy.”
She's trying to say that because her opinion is based on religion, she's been discriminated against. I don't see how that can work. It's not her store.

"The Heisman View From Wisconsin: Montee Ball."

Analysis by Mike Fiammetta in the NYT:
A significant portion of Ball’s Heisman hype lies in his 38 total touchdowns, one less than the 39 Barry Sanders scored for Oklahoma State in 1988. Sanders did so in 11 games — Ball has played 13, and will play another in the Rose Bowl Jan. 2 — but scored a touchdown every 10.1 touches. Ball, meanwhile, has scored a touchdown every 7.8 touches.

Sanders’ record stands alone as part of arguably the finest season a running back — collegiate or professional — has ever had. Breaking it would place a capstone on Ball’s stellar 2011 season, but his singular accomplishments already speak for themselves.

Isthmus ousts its conservative blogger, David Blaska.


Blaska's a terrific blogger, but it was obvious that the lefty readers of our left-leaning newspaper's website couldn't handle a sharp point of view humorously challenging their pat opinions.

From the link, which goes to an Isthmus discussion forum: "Firing Blaska was a candy-assed move. Isthmus is [a] rag. Own it." Ha ha. Meade wrote that.

Class warfare, Madison-style.

Last night, around 6 p.m., Meade — who's driven cars for 40 years without ever getting into an accident — was driving our Audi TT in the right lane on University Avenue, going the speed limit. Suddenly, a Toyota Yaris cut directly in front of him, missing our front left fender by half a car length. About 150 feet later, the Yaris braked and turned into the Whole Foods parking lot. Meade turned there too and drove over to where the Yaris was parking. When driver — a 40-ish white female — emerged, Meade called out, politely: "Excuse me. Do you realize that you cut me off over on University Avenue?"

Her comeback, in an acid tone: "Honey, if I had your Audi, I would drive better."

Why mention the Audi? What was she thinking? I mean, it's hard for me to imagine saying anything but "I'm really sorry." And there's no way Meade could have driven better. I assume she meant he should have driven faster, above the speed limit, because she wanted to go faster, and she needed to be in the right lane so she could make her turn into Whole Foods. We were just annoyingly in the way. And annoyingly riding in an Audi sportscar. She's in a Yaris. We're in an Audi TT, so fuck us. Honey.

IN THE COMMENTS:  edutcher said:
She was trying to bluff her way out of the fact she was at fault. 
Not so much bluff as distract. Like she's saying: You think I did something wrong. You did something wrong. You own something expensive. Not shame on me. I am the 99%. Shame on you!

"'[S]arcastic' media-savvy comedies and morally murky antiheroes tend to draw Dems."

"[S]erious work-centered shows (both reality shows and stylized scripted procedurals), along with reality competitions, tend to draw conservatives."

At the link: lists of liberals most and least favorite shows and conservatives most and least favorite shows. "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" appear on the liberals' favorite and the conservatives' least favorite lists. That's understandable, because both shows are written with a strongly liberal perspective. What show appears on both the liberals' least favorite and the conservatives' favorite lists? "Swamp Loggers"! "Swamp Loggers"... what's going on there? Check it out. It's about really hard work. Okay? Enough said?

Recent Obama gestures in the gay rights and abortion categories.

1. This one's for all you gay people and the people who love them:
[T]he president directed all U.S. agencies to “promote and protect” the rights of gay and lesbian people through diplomatic means, including the allocation of foreign aid. And in a rousing speech before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Hillary Clinton defended the universality of the administration’s cause, saying, “Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct, but in fact they are one and the same.... Being gay is not a Western invention... It is a human reality.”
(Meanwhile, Obama doesn't support same-sex marriage here in the United States, but look over here don't look at that. Unless you don't cotton to gay rights, in which case, please look at that.)

2. And this one's for you folks who care about the rights of unborn human beings:
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius yesterday overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to make Plan-B, the morning-after pill, available without a prescription to any woman of child-bearing age...

Plan B is currently available without a prescription to any woman aged 17 or over. Anyone younger than that needs a prescription. The FDA’s recommendation would have allowed girls as young as 11 to purchase the drug in any drug store without any parental consent or doctor’s prescription....

Women’s advocacy groups were also quick to denounce Sebelius. From this morning’s Washington Post:
“We are outraged that this administration has let politics trump science,” said Kirsten Moore of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. “This administration is unwilling to stand up to any controversy and do the right thing for women’s health. That’s shameful.”
(So abortion-rights supporters must accept a little pain. They know Obama is really on their side. He's just got to establish a little credibility on the other side right now. Harsh criticism from people like Kirsten Moore is exactly what Obama needs, isn't it? A phony wedge between him and the abortion-rights advocates.)

"Four is the new three."

"Not only did Col. Potter join his predecessor Lt. Col. Henry Blake in the great M*A*S*H tent in the sky today, but in what has to be one of the oddest 'celebrity' death days in recent memory, also passing today were: Dobie Gray, he of 'Drift Away' fame; Pusuke, who at 26 was the world's oldest dog; and Barbara Orbison, the widow of Roy Orbison."

Writes AlexG.

Reince Priebus on the Trump debate.

"I think that having a successful businessman serving as a moderator has a lot of value. But the issue here is whether the moderator should still be a person who’s still batting around the idea of running as an independent. I think that should give some of these candidates some concern."

Some concern. Please, it's absurd for a potential candidate to moderate a debate.

"If the Obama administration did arrange for the shipment of arms to Mexican drug gangs..."

"... not for any legitimate public purpose but in order to advance a left-wing political agenda, and those guns were used to murder hundreds of Mexicans and at least one American border agent – which they were – then we are looking at a scandal that dwarfs any in modern American history."

John Hinderaker, trying to fathom Fast and Furious.
We really do need an explanation. If Hinderaker's conclusion seems extreme, consider that it could be easily refuted by a clear statement from the Obama administration disclosing the true and legitimate purpose. The absence of such a statement propels us toward the extreme conclusion.

December 7, 2011


Michigan insists it's the state that looks like a mitten. Miffed at Wisconsin's horning in on the mitten iconography.

Goodbye to Harry Morgan.

He died today, at the age of 96. Maybe you think of him in "M*A*S*H" or "Dragnet," but I liked him in "Pete and Gladys":

Mumia Abu-Jamal escapes the death penalty.

He'll remain in prison for life, but...
... a federal appeals court in April declared the death sentence unconstitutional, ruling that the jury instructions at Abu-Jamal's original 1982 murder trial were unclear.
And prosecutors have decided not to redo the sentencing phase with a new jury and appropriately clear instructions. The murder conviction stands:
Witnesses testified that Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner in the back and head after the officer pulled his brother over during a late-night traffic stop. He was wounded in the encounter and later confessed to the killing, according to other testimony.

Blagojevich gets 14 years.

Even though he's saying he's "unbelievably sorry."
"There is a line between routine politics, horse trading and campaign politics... I thought they were permissible and I was mistaken."
He's sorry he misunderstood where the line was. Unbelievably sorry.

78 right-of-center bloggers respond to a poll about the 2012 Republican candidates.

At Right Wing News. I'm one of the respondents, by the way, and I don't usually answer RWN polls, mainly because I don't have answers to the questions John Hawkins tends to ask. Let me highlight the Gingrichy results:
If you had to pick a 2012 GOP contender today, which of the following candidates would you select?... 1) Newt Gingrich: 39.2% (31 votes)
Romney came in third, with 10 votes. Rick Perry got in at second place with 21.
Do you consider Newt Gingrich to be a conservative?

Yes: 63.6% (49 votes)
No: 36.4% (28 votes)...

Do you consider Mitt Romney to be a conservative?

Yes: 33.3% (26 votes)
No: 66.7% (52 votes)

If you had to choose between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, which candidate would you select?

Mitt Romney: 26.3% (20 votes)
Newt Gingrich: 73.7% (56 votes)

Which candidate do you think would be more likely to beat Barack Obama in 2012?

Mitt Romney: 42.3% (33 votes)
Newt Gingrich: 57.7% (45 votes)
So there you have it. The right-of-center bloggers are gaga for Gingrich.

"Wound licking is an instinctive response in humans and many other animals to an injury."

"Dogs, cats, rodents and primates all lick wounds. The enzyme, lysozyme which is found in many tissues is what is the aid for the wounds.... Wound licking can clean wounds and accelerate healing, so it can be thought of as a form of animal self-medication (zoopharmacognosy)."

Wow! What a great Wikipedia entry. I can't excerpt all the cool stuff, but here's a taste (if you know what I mean)(links within the passage omitted):
In an unusual case, an Oregon teacher was reprimanded after licking blood from wounds on a track team member's knee, a football player's arm, and a high school student's hand. An Oregon public health officer commented that "We do know that animals lick their own wounds, and it may be that saliva has some healing properties. But my very strong recommendation is that you confine yourself to licking your own wounds."...

The Saint Magdalena de Pazzi is said to have cured a nun of sores and scabs in 1589 by licking her limbs.... Pliny the Elder in his Natural History reported that a fasting woman's saliva is an effective cure for bloodshot eyes....

There are potential health hazards in wound licking due to infection risk... The practice of metzitzah during circumcision is controversial as it can transmit the herpes virus to the infant....

Dog saliva has been said by many cultures to have curative powers in people. "Langue de chien, langue de médecin" is a French saying meaning "A dog's tongue is a doctor's tongue"... appears in a 13th century manuscript....

To "lick your wounds" means to "to withdraw temporarily while recovering from a defeat."

The phrase was spoken by Antony in John Dryden's 17th century play All for Love:
“They look on us at distance, and, like curs
Scaped from the lion's paws, they bay far off
And lick their wounds, and faintly threaten war.”
Licked any wounds lately?

"A skeleton, dressed as Santa Claus, nailed to a cross" — on display at a Leesburg, Virginia courthouse.

It's controversial, and a lady ripped it down, but "Skele-Claus" was accepted by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. The creator of the anti-Christmas display, Jeff Heflin said: "It depicts how society's materialistic obsessions and addictions are killing the season's peace, love, joy and kindness."
The leader of the Northern Virginia Atheists, Rick Wingrove, says tearing down the display was illegal, and people should keep an open mind.

"Offense is in the eye of the beholder. We're offended by the religious displays on government  property. We think it's constitutionally improper," Wingrove said.
See, this is why you don't want to turn government property into a public forum for speech in the form of unattended displays. If that's what you've got, free speech law proscribes viewpoint discrimination. (There are ways to have Christmas decorations without running into this problem, but they risk running into Establishment Clause problems.)

I don't like these "atheists" who are really religion-haters. If you really only think there is no God, why are you so hostile toward people who think otherwise? Find something else to do. Why obsess about religion? And why can't you enjoy festive displays of things that you don't actually believe in? Virtually everyone who puts up a Santa Claus display doesn't believe in Santa Claus. It's just a lightweight seasonal amusement. What's to hate? I wouldn't dignify virulent religion-haters with the neutral appellation "atheist." It's not fair to all the amiable, well-balanced atheists out there.

"Losing It: In which an Aging Professor laments his shrinking Brain..."

That's the name of new book — buy it here — by Michigan lawprof William Ian Miller, who has ripened to the age of 65 years. He gives a fascinating (and not decrepit) interview:
Because we no longer have mandatory retirement, we... must take ourselves out of the game; we have to figure out when we no longer are up to it, no longer worth our salary, no longer wanted, no longer really count for much. How can you rightly read where you stand when your ability to think is decaying at an accelerating pace?...

The book has six parts. The first deals with mental decay.... The second takes on wisdom and casts a fairly jaundiced eye in that direction. What wisdom is to be expected from people whose brains are shrinking, who cannot remember much very well, and who tediously repeat stories, or in the manner of Polonius, give advice the young find boring and manifestly ignorable?...

The third part deals with complaining, the various styles of complaint, such as pissing and moaning, kvetching, lamenting, whining, etc.... The fourth is about retirements from revenge; it is the medieval stuff that got me going on this project.... The fifth part has me dealing with going soft... And last: how to go out in style....
This sounds great. I'm going to read this book. Miller is very sharp, despite his advanced age. You could also read this excerpt from the book if you don't have much time (left).

Miller scoffs at the studies that purport to show that oldies are especially happy folk: "My suspicion is that if there is in fact happiness, it is a symptom of the brain shrinkage that comes with old age, of no longer being able to think very precisely. "

"[Scott] Walker implies recall workers are paid."

"I’ve assumed all along that between activists and paid circulators, if they paid enough people they’d ultimately be able to get that number."

IN THE COMMENTS: Don't Tread 2012 said:
Being paid for something is the result of a simple business transaction between 2 parties. Last time I checked it is not illegal.

Questionable and illegal are different.

If a person exchanges his/her time for pay collecting signatures I have no problem with it, provided the signatures are valid.

It (used to be?) is the American way.
Fine. Work for pay is honorable, even in politics. A political campaign isn't carried out entirely through volunteers. But money in politics matters. In fact, Scott Walker's antagonists lambaste him for his connection to monied interests. Some folks stress getting the money out of politics. They rail about Citizens United and so forth. That's one way to go, the wrong way I think, because it's not going to work and it violates freedom of speech. But part of freedom of speech — key to the majority's opinion in Citizens United — is the public's interest in receiving information. In this light, what is crucial when it comes to money in politics is that we the public receive information about who's spending the money and where.

Thus, what I want is to know to what extent signature-gatherers are being paid. Who is being paid, how much, and by whom? I want to follow the money.

December 7, 1941 — 70 years ago, today...

... 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time:
About 120 survivors will join Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, military leaders and civilians to observe a moment of silence in Pearl Harbor... the moment the attack began seven decades ago....

President Barack Obama hailed veterans of the bombing in a statement proclaiming Wednesday "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."

"Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II. As a nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms," he said.
One survivor's story:
“As quiet a day as you’ve ever seen... Beautiful sunshine, nothing going on.”

Suddenly, not far from his seat in the dining hall: bang, bang, bang.

“Somebody says, ‘It’s the Chinese New Year,’ ” he said.

But then, a bullet broke through the glass window of the dining hall. Another flew just past [Army Private Francis ] Stueve and knocked the butter dish off the table.
The survivors who remain are now very old:
For more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered here every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack by the Japanese that drew the United States into World War II. Others stayed closer to home for more intimate regional chapter ceremonies...

But no more. The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association....

“We had no choice,” said William H. Eckel, 89....

“We just ran out of gas, that’s what it amounted to,” [said Harry R. Kerr.]  “We felt we ran a good course for 70 years. Fought a good fight. We have no place to recruit people anymore: Dec. 7 only happened on one day in 1941.”

December 6, 2011

At the Side-View Café...

A Madison truck

... don't look back.

"The Mitt Romney campaign is making an immediate shift in tactics..."

"... a move that is necessary because, as one Republican close the campaign put it, 'What they are doing now isn’t working.'"

"'Baby It's Cold Outside' is known as the Christmas Date Rape Song."

"Bitch Magazine wonders: does She & Him's gender-reversed version make it less creepy and less rape-y? Meanwhile, Persephone Magazine's 'Listening While Feminist' has an alternative take on the holiday classic."

The most popular gifts...

... from Amazon.

Bob Woodward said "sitting next to Gore is taxing... In fact, it's unpleasant."

He was stuck sitting next to him at the Organization for International Investment’s annual dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in D.C.

The article at the link is minimal, so I can't tell what's so taxing and unpleasant about sitting next to Gore at the Ritz-Carlton, but when I think about the taxing, unpleasantness of Gore, I always drift back to this:

Ha ha. That will never not make me laugh. "What about the Dingell-Norwood bill?" That makes a hilarious household catchphrase, whenever anything's amiss: "What about the Dingell-Norwood bill?" Try it!

School lockers are becoming extinct.

Students aren't using them anymore.

Obama in Kansas: "It's great to be back in the state of Texas."

He was there to give his big speech, doubling down on class politics. (Growing — "gaping" — disparity in income "gives lie to the promise at the very heart of America: that this is the place where you can make it if you try.")

Want to talk about comments?

Here's the permanent location for complaints and suggestions and discussions about the comments here on the Althouse blog. Meade and I will pay attention and participate, so you don't need to email us anymore. Just comment at that link. The thread will go on indefinitely. Enjoy the meta-conversation!


From the Wall Street Journal:
•Six of the last 12 U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush, have been lefties.

• Left-handed people earn on average 10% lower salaries than righties, according to a recent study. Findings of some earlier studies on income have been mixed.

•Despite popular misperceptions, lefties aren't more accident prone than right-handed people and don't tend to die at a younger age.

•Left-handedness has been linked to increased risk of certain neurodevelopmental disorders like schizophrenia and ADHD. Mixed-handedness is even more strongly associated with ADHD.

•Most people's brains have a dominant side. More symmetrical brains of mixed-handed people may explain the link to some neural disorders.

"Die, Penny, Die!"

(Via Instapundit.)

The NYT presents liberal fear-mongers as if they were intelligent, sober critics of Republican policy.

Monica Davey, reporting for the NYT from Madison, Wisconsin, looks at why "Many Workers in [the] Public Sector [Are] Retiring Sooner" and what it will mean for the states. Excerpts:
“You start to feel like, ‘What will they do next?’ ” said Bob McLinn, 63, a labor union president who left his job with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in March, earlier than he planned, after political leaders pressed to cut benefits and collective bargaining rights for workers.

“There’s always been this promise that if you came to work and did your job, at the end there would be your reward — a defined retirement. The idea was you could retire with respect and dignity. But that whole idea has been slashed now, and I felt like, ‘What is the point?’ ”
What demagoguery! We have to contribute more to our pensions as we get each new month's pay, but there was no cut in the ultimate reward. Getting out early isn't a way to preserve the retirement benefit. It's just a decision not to continue putting a chunk of your pay into your pension as you go along working before retirement. If McLinn's communication is typical of labor union presidents, no wonder so many people freaked out and protested last winter.

Now, are states better off if a lot of older workers leave their jobs?
“What we’re going to see is a lot of young people reinventing the wheel,” said Karen Gunderson, 56, who retired this year from her information technology job with the State of Wisconsin after 26 years, a few years sooner than she had intended, saying she felt that public workers were being “turned into scapegoats” for a troubled economy.
“We’re going to waste a lot of tax dollars with young people attempting things that were tried before. You can get people cheaper, but whether you save money, I don’t know.”
I'm mostly curious why the NYT chose to feature this quote and the one above. This isn't serious analysis of what the state did and the real effect on workers. It's more of an effort to propagate hysteria. What did Gunderson — a woman who thinks she was scapegoated — do in "information technology" that younger workers — working at lower pay — would do more expensively? The secret wisdom of the elders is lost, apparently, when somebody retires, and their replacements must puzzle over how to do the complicated work the oldsters had down pat. Is that what it's really like?
[H]ere, in Wisconsin, the battle over public workers may have been the loudest... Union supporters pushed back, leading an effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker next year over the issue. But government workers also left: 16,785 workers filed retirement applications as of Oct. 31, while in all of 2010, 11,750 workers had done so.

“It’s about fear,” said Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. “A lot of people are seeing this war on public employees and saying, let’s get out.”
Where did that all that irrational fear come from? A lot of people are seeing this war... why? Why are they seeing the governor's effort to fix the budget as a "war"? Why do they see themselves as "scapegoats"?

Remember "The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things"?
Why are so many fears in the air, and so many of them unfounded?...

We compound our worries beyond all reason....

We had better learn to doubt our inflated fears before they destroy us. Valid fears have their place; they cue us to danger. False and overdrawn fears only cause hardship....

Any analysis of the culture of fear that ignored the news media would be patently incomplete, and of the several institutions most culpable for creating and sustaining scares the news media are arguably first among equals....
The link goes to a long passage from that book at the "Bowling for Columbine" website. "Bowling for Columbine," you may remember, was the Michael Moore movie about guns in America, and the point was that the gun-clinging sector of America was seized with irrational fear.

I'd like to see some balance in the diagnosis of fear in the media, for example, the New York Times.

December 5, 2011

"Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue..."

From a 1951 essay by Bertrand Russell:
1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.,,,
"Liberal" meant something once!

"There goes the balls again!"

Rejected post title: "Hard to keep your pucker up if it's not lubricated."

(Via Metafilter.)

System One and System Two — the brain's " two independent sytems for organizing knowledge."

Writes Freeman Dyson, explaining Daniel Kahneman's new book "Thinking, Fast and Slow":
System One is amazingly fast, allowing us to recognize faces and understand speech in a fraction of a second. It must have evolved from the ancient little brains that allowed our agile mammalian ancestors to survive in a world of big reptilian predators. Survival in the jungle requires a brain that makes quick decisions based on limited information. Intuition is the name we give to judgments based on the quick action of System One. It makes judgments and takes action without waiting for our conscious awareness to catch up with it. The most remarkable fact about System One is that it has immediate access to a vast store of memories that it uses as a basis for judgment. The memories that are most accessible are those associated with strong emotions, with fear and pain and hatred. The resulting judgments are often wrong, but in the world of the jungle it is safer to be wrong and quick than to be right and slow.

System Two is the slow process of forming judgments based on conscious thinking and critical examination of evidence. It appraises the actions of System One. It gives us a chance to correct mistakes and revise opinions. It probably evolved more recently than System One, after our primate ancestors became arboreal and had the leisure to think things over. An ape in a tree is not so much concerned with predators as with the acquisition and defense of territory. System Two enables a family group to make plans and coordinate activities. After we became human, System Two enabled us to create art and culture.

The question then arises: Why do we not abandon the error-prone System One and let the more reliable System Two rule our lives? Kahneman gives a simple answer to this question: System Two is lazy. To activate System Two requires mental effort. Mental effort is costly in time and also in calories. Precise measurements of blood chemistry show that consumption of glucose increases when System Two is active.
This is a fabulous article with lots of great stuff worth reading, but I just want to lock onto the point about consuming calories. Yes, we're lazy, but we do all manner of ridiculous things to consume calories and they tend to require overcoming laziness. If activating System Two is a substitute for trudging on a Stairmaster or whatever, maybe even lazy people will do it. Can we lose weight by thinking hard? I'll leave it to others to collect and analyze the evidence. That's just my instant, intuitive take on the matter.

"Donald Trump Mulls Third-Party Bid as He Enjoys GOP Kingmaker Role."

According to the Wall Street Journal.

If that's his attitude, he should not be moderating a debate!

Cain to endorse Newt.

Today. They're saying.

The Supreme Court is a group project.

I'm just repeating something I said 2 days ago, on the occasion of creating a new tag — in the previous post — for "group projects."

I tested out the site again, and it's still not working. Here's the poll I concocted for the test:
Is the state supreme court a "group project"?
Yes, but in a good way.
Yes, and it's a damned shame.
No, these are fiercely independent individuals.
No, but they should start acting like one and let the smartest kid do all the work.

"You could ask, ‘Why should it be free?’ But why shouldn’t it be free?"

"The core of our mission is to give material to people who need it," says Salman Khan of the Khan Academy, described in this NYT article:
Mr. Khan’s critics say that his model is really a return to rote learning under a high-tech facade, and that it would be far better to help children puzzle through a concept than drill it into their heads....

Today, the Khan Academy site offers 2,700 instructional videos and a constellation of practice exercises. Master one concept, move on to the next. Earn rewards for a streak of correct answers. For teachers, there is an analytics dashboard that shows both an aggregate picture of how the class is doing and a detailed map of each student’s math comprehension. In other words, a peephole.

Diane Tavenner, chief of the Summit chain of four charter schools, said that at first she was ambivalent about using Mr. Khan’s software. It would require buying laptops for every student and investing in more Internet capacity. And she found the Khan Academy model of instructor and blackboard — albeit a digital one — to be a bit too traditional.
Rote learning. Teacher and blackboard. Traditional. You'd think the teacher herself would be perfect at doing what this website does.
In the past, math class at the Summit schools was always hands-on: the class worked on a problem, usually in small groups, sometimes for days at a time. But getting an entire class of ninth graders to master the fundamentals of math was never easy. Without those, the higher-level conceptual exercises were impossible.

That is where the machine came in handy. The Khan software offered students a new, engaging way to learn the basics.
So.... let the website do the traditional work of teaching the fundamentals so the teacher can spend more of her time subjecting the kids to group projects?

ADDED: Pollcode isn't working right now. The options should be:
How do you feel about group projects in school?

1. Loathe them. What this article does is point the way to home-schooling.

2. They're part of a nice mix. It's good to free the teacher to spend more time on what she loves.

3. Love 'em. Let the computer do the technical stuff and bring on the group projects!
I'll turn it into a poll if I can get the site to process the code.

The Kahn Academy stuff is killer. I use it with my kids and recommend it at work every week. There is nothing about the Kahn approach that necessitates group work in my understanding.

The thing that teachers HATE about the Kahn approach is that it is detail rich and gives tons of info regarding how well each student is doing at the touch of a button. It requires the teachers to teach because it takes away excuses through data.

December 4, 2011

"In the United States, emissions dropped by a remarkable 7 percent in the recession year of 2009, but rose by just over 4 percent last year..."

"This country is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, pumping 1.5 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere last year."

As Joni Mitchell sang in "Big Yellow Taxi": "Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got til it's gone?"

How about a little love for recession when we've got it?

Newt + Obama = the largest possible "how smart they think they are" minus "how smart they really are"...

... according to Dan Drezner.
"I think they're both actually reasonably intelligent guys, but I think both of them have a much higher opinion of themselves than they actually are."
Okay. Hmmm. Can you think of any other pair of individuals with a greater self-esteem/merit gap when it comes to intelligence?

In my experience — and I'm old, so it's long — people who make a noticeable exhibition of their smartness are not the most intelligent people. They're not the dumbest people. But the smartest people are strategic about displaying intelligence. That's how they outsmart you.

Senator Coburn finds it "difficult" to support Gingrich.

On Fox News Sunday:
"I'm not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich's having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership... I found it lacking often times....

"There's all types of leaders. Leaders that instill confidence. Leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk. Leaders that have one standard for the people they are leading and a different standard for themselves. I just found that his leadership lacking."

Did you realize there was another GOP debate last night?

I didn't! But here, you can watch the whole thing — which took place on the Fox News "Huckabee" show.  Romney, Bachmann, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, and Perry were there. Missing were Cain and Huntsman, Cain more understandably than Huntsman.

Here's the LA Times report:
In a Saturday night Fox News forum hosted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the contenders appeared one at a time, under strict orders to avoid mentioning rivals by name. But the questions from a panel of three GOP state attorneys general did elicit some major policy differences among them, most notably on illegal immigration, a major point of contention on the campaign trail.
Here's the NYT:
Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, was pressed on how conservatives can “trust that a President Gingrich will not advance these sorts of big government approaches” that he had advocated, including his one-time support for a mandate that citizens obtain health insurance. Mr. Gingrich noted that he did so in league with other conservatives and that “every conservative has in fact left that kind of a model.”...

And Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was asked pointed questions about his health care overhaul there, and what he would say to President Obama if Mr. Obama were to note during a general election debate its similarities to the federal health care law so hated by Republicans. “Why didn’t you give me a call?” he said, reprising a well-worn line from the campaign trail.
Asked why conservatives should trust that he won’t advance “big government approaches,” given his history of supporting an individual health-care mandate, climate change policies and a larger federal role in education policy, Gingrich said it was his years in Washington that made him best-suited to transform government.

“You cannot get the scale of change we want, and you can’t get the scale of change the tea parties want, by just appointing good people who have no understanding of the fight they’re about to be in,” Gingrich said.


Get some shopping done today at Amazon (and, by using that link, show some love for the Althouse blog).

"If any judge wants to pack, I think the next thing I'd put on the agenda is to have security cameras in every chamber and in the corridors."

Said Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson as the Wisconsin Supreme Court addresses the question of guns in the courts.

What's so terrible about internet comments?

Rebecca Rosen complains about the structure of the commenting systems, which, she says, tend to make even well-written comments feel "more like lists of unconnected ideas than genuine conversations." In other words, chronological order is such an old, boring, and obvious order. But it's clear and comprehensible. Do you prefer comments "nested" under the comments they're supposedly responding to or comments that are re-ordered based on commenters voting on comments?

Does chronological order bother you — in comments sections and elsewhere? You know, you have to live your life in chronological order. And that's what's so cool about blogging. Like life, it's in chronological order. I used to resist chronological order. I have an old fantasy of living life out of order, having the power to reshuffle one's allotted days. But you can't do it. And if you abandon chronological order for you blog, it's not a blog anymore.

Respect chronological order. It's the order to beat. You think you have a better order? Prove it.

IN THE COMMENTS:Peter Hoh said:
There ought to be a way to highlight or star a comment like Freeman's "weird out, future man" comment.

That way, someone who is part of this community, but having a busy day, could still read a comment like that without having to plow through the whole thread.

Of course, one could do like I do when there's a long thread -- use the "find" function in my browser to see if Freeman stopped by to leave a comment.
My way to highlight or star a comment is front-paging! Now, you might think I should front-page Freeman's comment, which — I agree with you — was great, but under the circumstances — "standing between two mirrors" — it makes more meta-sense to front-page you.

The Althouse that won $100,000 at the Big Ten championship game last night.

Yes, the University of Wisconsin football team eked out a win against Michigan State last night, and we were thrilled and amazed. But I was stunned to see the name Althouse pop up in the context of a football-throwing competition:
Kaitlyn Althouse, an Eastern York High School graduate and Lancaster General College student, won the grand prize scholarship of $100,000 during a halftime competition at the Big Ten championship game Saturday night in Indianapolis.

Althouse won the tuition giveaway, sponsored by Dr Pepper, by throwing the most footballs into a two-foot-wide target five yards away in 30 seconds. Althouse made 10 of the throws, while her competitor, Antron McCullough of Ocklawaha, Fla., made nine.
Click through to see the video showing why she was given a chance. Here's McCullough's video. Good luck to both Althouse and McCullough in the future. One of them had to lose, and Michigan State had to lose. So... onward to the Rose Bowl, where it will be Badgers and Ducks.

The Wisconsin protesters "are exactly the people that the O.W.S. crowd should not learn from..."

"... if they aspire to appeal to a wider audience than left-wing activists usually reach," writes Ross Douthat in the NYT. They represent "the decadent left, which fights for narrow interest groups rather than for the public as a whole."
The Wisconsin protests didn’t defend American workers’ right to bargain for their fair share of company profits, as traditional union protests have. They defended government employees’ right to negotiate with elected officials over the division of taxpayer dollars — a recipe for profligacy that even liberal icons like Franklin Roosevelt and the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s George Meany once opposed....

Whatever your politics, there’s arguably more to admire in the ragtag theatricality of Occupy Wall Street than in that sort of self-righteous defense of the status quo. Even if it has failed to embrace plausible solutions, O.W.S. at least picked a deserving target — what National Review’s Reihan Salam describes as the “moral rupture” created by Wall Street’s and Washington’s betrayal of the public trust.