December 22, 2012

Firing a woman because you find her "irresistably attractive" is not sex discrimination.

Said the Iowa Supreme Court (unanimously).
An attorney for Fort Dodge dentist James Knight said the decision, the first of its kind in Iowa, is a victory for family values because Knight fired Melissa Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not because she was a woman....

Nelson, 32, worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her a stellar worker. But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion....

Nelson filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, arguing she would not have been terminated if she was male. She did not allege sexual harassment because Knight's conduct may not have risen to that level and didn't particularly offend her, Fiedler said.

"The most nearly perfect physical specimen of womanhood at Cornell is Miss Elsie Scheel" — 5'7", 171 pounds.

"Remarkably similar" to the Venus de Milo — according to an article published in the NYT in 1912. She measured 34.6 inch chest, 30.3 inch waist, and 40.4 inch hips, and was "an ardent suffragette."

After the blizzard — a sunny Saturday.

"You Can Search YouTube for LITERALLY ANYTHING + 'Rap' and Get Instant Sad."

That's true... except the assumption it will make you sad. It made me happy!

9th Circuit panel blocks California ban on gay "reparative" therapy.

"The appeals court's order prevents the state from enforcing the law, SB1172, while a different three-judge panel considers if the measure violates the First Amendment rights of therapists and parents."
Earlier this month, two federal judges in California arrived at opposite conclusions on whether the law violates the Constitution.

"I think that any (laws) there are in Constitution or in life, are already made."

Hey, come on. That's kind of a great answer. Now, it gets a bit odd after that:
I think that we should have a straight way to go in our similar, or ... in our lives. For example, I am a surfer and I think that the best wave that I can take is the wave that I wait for it.
But still... I see the sense in it: Libertarian!

State appeals court says the Wisconsin domestic partnership law doesn't violate the state constitution.

The state constitution was amended to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and to forbid the creation of other legal status for same sex couples if it's substantially similar to marriage. The court said:
"The same-sex domestic partnerships created by the legislature are substantially different than marriages because, among other differences, domestic partnerships carry with them substantially fewer rights and obligations than those enjoyed by and imposed on married couples"...

"Should Santa Claus still be fat?"

"Santa is a role model, and kids don't want to have a role model that's fat."

Kids don't want? Has any kid ever complained about Santa being fat? But various adults are keen on controlling the messages that reach kids, and in this light, Santa needs to be thoroughly examined for inappropriate messages. I'm going to begin a list:

1. He keeps a list. I have here in my hand a list... This is McCarthyesque and oppressive.

2. He's checking and rechecking the list. This is the stuff of obsessive compulsive disorder.

3. He's a grown man obsessing over whether children are naughty and nice. Obviously creepy. Also puritanical.

4. He watches children when they are sleeping. This condones the invasion of privacy (or worse).

5. He smokes. (This bad-example-setting has already come in for censorship.)

6. He wears fur.

7. He stokes materialism.

8. He takes credit for the work of others (deflecting appreciation that properly belongs to the parents).

9. He operates as an endorsement of a rigid class system by creating the impression that wealthy children are more deserving of gifts than the poor.

10. He breaks into houses at night.

11. He relies on sweatshop/slave labor.

12. He exploits animals.

"When I was a CCW instructor, I decided that I wanted more teachers with skin in the game, so I started a program where I would teach anybody who worked at a school for free."

"I personally taught several hundred teachers. I quickly discovered that pretty much every single school in my state had at least one competent, capable, smart, willing individual."
Some schools had more. I had one high school where the principal, three teachers, and a janitor showed up for class. They had just had an event where there had been a threat against the school and their resource officer had turned up AWOL. This had been a wake up call for this principal that they were on their own, and he had taken it upon himself to talk to his teachers to find the willing and capable. Good for them.

"A man accused of desecrating the Koran was burned alive by a mob at a Pakistani police station..."

"The unnamed man was a traveller who spent Thursday night at a mosque in Seeta, in the southern Sindh province, local imam Maulvi Memon said. He claimed the charred remains of the Koran were found there the next morning, adding, 'He was alone in the mosque during the night. There was no one else there to do this terrible thing.'"

"Suddenly There's A Meadow In The Ocean With 'Flowers' Everywhere."

Frost flowers.

"Listen I don’t necessarily think having an armed guard outside every classroom is conducive to a positive learning environment."

Said Gov. Chris Christie when he was asked to respond to the NRA's proposal about school safety.

Not that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said there should be an armed guard outside every classroom. That's an interpretation imposed by Christie for the purpose of rejecting the proposal. Christie conceded that he didn't "know the totality of the proposal," but he seemed to think that "from a law enforcement perspective," you’d have to have an armed guard outside every classroom since schools have so many doors. But isn't that like saying there's no point having police officers on the street unless there can be one on every corner? Wouldn't an armed guard somewhere in the school be able to rush to the scene of a disturbance anywhere in the school within a few seconds? That would be better than waiting for the police, wouldn't it? And consider the deterrent value. A school with an armed guard wouldn't seem like such an obvious soft target, and that might make all the difference to the sort of coward who would murder children.

Christie says: "You don’t want to make this an armed camp for kids. I don’t think that’s a positive example for children. We should be able to figure out some other ways to enhance safety it seems to me. I think that’s the easy way out."

Okay, what are the other ways? It's good to be open to other ways, but, ironically, Christie only perceives one way to implement the NRA proposal. He sees the school looking like an "armed camp" with a guard displaying a gun at every door. That's the easy way to dismiss the NRA proposal. Why not consider positive ways to bring armed security into the school — at least before rejecting the idea? Claiming you're resisting the "easy way" when you refuse to do that is pure sophistry.

Pat Sajak condemned as a pronunciation Nazi.

When "seven swans a-swimmin'" for "seven swans a-swimming" costs Navy Intel Specialist Renee Durette $4,000.

The "a-" beginning makes it seem as though you should be doing Southern American dialect, but "The 12 Days of Christmas" is set in an English aristocratic milieu (with lords and ladies).

More importantly, "Wheel of Fortune" is all about letters, so obviously they've got to be pedantic about getting all the letters.

Anyway... one more reason to be sick of that song. Or do you like it? Here it is by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.

"The Weird World Of 2004 John Kerry Election Memes."

At Buzzfeed, 19 photoshops + #20 "Not a photoshop, still funny."

Dana Loesch sues to escape from the "indentured servitude" that is

"The internal disputes roiling the website founded by the late conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart broke out into the open Friday, when a star blogger sued to be freed from her contractual obligations to the site."
Loesch is seeking her freedom from the company and at least $75,000 in damages. is "binding Loesch to what amounts to an indentured servitude in limbo," she charges in the suit....
Mixed metaphor: Limbo is a place you can never get out of. Indentured servitude is marked by a specific period of time. Come on, lawsuit drafters. Sharpen up.

"Lady Jerks of 2012: A Year in Review."

Today seems to be my day for finding screwy ideas in Slate. This one seems to be a twist on the old feminist bumper sticker "Well-behaved women rarely make history." I can't quite tell whether Amanda Hess is trying to encourage/facilitate female jerkiness or what. Yeah, there's the ancient problem of wanting to be liked, which is really only a problem if you want it too much and want it above other, better goals. It's perfectly idiotic to think that the solution to the excessive desire to be liked is to be unlikeable.

But, whatever... the women Hess recognizes as the "Lady Jerks of 2012" are: the CIA agent who complained that she shouldn't have had to share the Distinguished Intelligence Medal for finding bin Laden; Anne Hathaway, the actress who talked back haughtily when asked about the photographs that paparazzi somehow were able to take of the body part Hess refers to as "her vagina"; Julia Gillard, the prime minister of Australia who called some political opponent a misogynist; Taylor Swift, the pretty young singer who crashed a Kennedy wedding with her Kennedy boyfriend; and Susan Rice, who, as Hess would have it, lost out on getting to be the next Secretary of State because people thought she was “prickly,” “hard-headed,” “temperamentally unfit,” and “always right on the edge of a screech.” Hess writes: "The personality police eventually moved Rice to withdraw her name from the running." That's not what I heard!

"The liberal news and culture website Slate published an online map Friday that it says will show a 'daily tally of gun-deaths in America'..."

"... basing that tally on incidents collected by an anonymous Twitter user. The organization, however, won’t say who is behind the tweets or how reliable its data is as a statistical compilation."

Gun deaths? So... just mix in the accidents and the suicides. Now, personally, as you may know from previous discussions on this blog, I think suicide is murder. Morally, it should be recognized as the deliberate killing of a human being. But many people withhold moral judgment and express only sadness and sympathy. I am sympathetic when the self-killer is mentally ill, but I'm also sympathetic when those who murder others are mentally ill.

But what's with grouping self-murder and murder of others for the purposes of Slate's gun-death map? It's a great way to boost the numbers. Google statistics, and I think you'll see that in the United States, there are twice as many suicides as murders, and that proportion is also true within the category of gun deaths. Shooting oneself is the most common method of suicide.

I realize some people think that there would be less suicide if people didn't have guns at hand. But I wonder how many of the mentally disturbed/emotionally overwrought men who shoot themselves to death are self-executors — that is, persons who feel a compulsion toward violence and stop themselves. There are murderers — like Adam Lanza — who murder and then kill themselves. There is no sympathy for these suicides, yet many people think: I wish he'd killed himself first.

If he had, it probably wouldn't have made the news, but if you'd read his story, you would have reacted the way you usually do to suicide: How sad... if only he'd perceived that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem... whatever it is you usually think when you read that an isolated, bullied 20-year-old man has shot himself in the head. Would you ever think to speculate that he knew that he had an irresistible, evil impulse to gun down children, and, thank God, he had one last shred of humanity and turned the gun on himself?

Gun deaths. You can collect them on a map as faceless pins, all looking alike. It's all numbers. No individuality. What are you counting? I don't know what these pins represent. Use a different color for suicides. And which suicides are uncontrolled mental illness? Who is checking out because of uncontrolled physical pain? Identify the justified killings, done in self-defense. I want to know which ones are criminals gunning down other criminals. I'd like to think about policy with some complexity and without irrational fear mongering.

Ironically, Slate seems to want to inspire urgency about the loss of human life, but it is reducing the lives we're supposed to care so much about to a bunch of dots who matter only because they're a massive crowd. Where is the individuality? There is particularity to each death, despite the common element of the gun.

"'Well-placed conservative voice' says Paul Ryan in line to replace Boehner."

Out with the old. In with the new.

Meade says: "It's time for some hope and change."

December 21, 2012

At the Look-at-the-Tree Café...

... aw, look at the tree.

Scott Brown will go back to the Senate, into the seat Kerry will vacate...

... unless this poll is way off.

The strongest potential opponent is Deval Patrick, and he's running 7 points behind Brown.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Says Wayne LaPierre, delivering the NRA's answer to the Newtown massacre:
The NRA is gonna bring all its knowledge, all its dedication and all its resources to develop a model national schools shield emergency response program for every single school in America that wants it. From armed security to building design and access control, to information technology, to student and teacher training, this multifaceted program will be developed by the very best experts in the field...

If we truly cherish our kids, more than our money, more than our celebrities, more than our sports stadiums, we must give them the greatest level of protection possible. And that security is only available with properly trained, armed good guys.

Overdosing on Brussels sprouts.

Too much vitamin K!

"President Barack Obama today will nominate Sen. John Kerry... to be the next secretary of State..."

"... a senior administration official tells CNN," says email from CNN.

"Does A Speaker Survive This?"/"Will Boehner’s speakership survive until Plan C?"

Talking Points Memo/Ezra Klein.

Meme watch. Coming in from the left.

ADDED: Here's the presentation of the same material, from the right, at National Review:
The speaker looked defeated, unhappy, and exhausted after hours of wrangling. He didn’t want to fight. There was no name-calling. As a devout Roman Catholic, Boehner wanted to pray. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” he told the crowd, according to attendees.

There were audible gasps of surprise, especially from freshman lawmakers who didn’t see the meltdown coming. Boehner’s friends were shocked, and voiced their disappointment so the speaker’s foes could hear. “My buddies and I said the same thing to each other,” a Boehner ally told me later. “We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and just groaned. This is a disaster.”

The view from inside, post-Draco.

Back view, the morning after the big blizzard:


Front view, showing meticulous Meademanship accomplished late last night:


Feel free to treat the comments section here as an open thread. And if you have any shopping to do — and a bit of love for this blog — please consider doing your shopping at Amazon and entering through the Althouse portal. This close to Christmas, it's a good time to think about gift cards and Kindle books (which can be sent by email and scheduled to arrive on Christmas day).

"The quickest route to ridicule, it seems, is for aging rockers to proceed as if nothing has changed."

"The truth is, years have passed, and to deny this is a form of visual dishonesty."

Yeah, but what counts as denial? The writer knocks Roger Daltrey for performing with his shirt unbuttoned and then dares to classify Iggy Pop as somehow in denial for going entirely shirtless. It seems to me Iggy Pop is letting you see exactly what he is. He's the opposite of dishonest.

The monster in Peggy Noonan's childhood closet was... Abraham Lincoln!

Writing about childhood fears (post-Newtown), she reveals:
One night when the moon was bright and the wind was moving the trees, I looked from my bed into the shadowed closet . . . and suddenly the clothes and the things on the shelf above had transformed themselves into Abraham Lincoln, in top hat and shawl, staring at me and waiting to be shot. That fear came every night for years. At some point a neighbor saw my nervousness or overheard my obsession, asked what was wrong, came to my house, opened my closet and announced triumphantly "See? Lincoln isn't there!" I knew she meant well, but how dumb can you get? Lincoln only came at night.
She also talks about a child who was afraid of ET, so I was expecting a parade of Spielberg characters tormenting kids: the "Jaws" shark, a T-Rex, TinTin, Oskar Schindler... But here's where she's going with this:
Newtown, like 9/11, reminds us of "the mystery of being alone in the world as it is and as we are." The world is imperfect, broken, "with cracks running through it." A central fact of our lives... is that "We are all vulnerable. Anything can happen to anybody at any time."...

We attempt to respond to tragedies politically.... But there is no security from existence itself. The only answer is to "plunge into" life. "We have to engage in life and take it on with all the risks it entails, or we won't be alive at all."

If we truly care deeply about the death of young children...

... what are the most effective things we can do? There's so much talk about gun control in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, but rather than fixating on the particular device that has fixated our attention, perhaps we should reflect on what actually causes the most fatality in children, particularly since we have so much power to act affirmatively to prevent these deaths.

Here is a chart (PDF) from the National Center for Health Statistics, showing the "10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2010." Young children's lives are clearly most threatened by accidents.

Here's a chart (PDF) showing "10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Unintentional Injury Deaths, United States – 2010." You can see that the greatest threat, by far, is the motor vehicle accident. Second, for 5- to 9-year-olds, is drowning. Third is fire. Homicide by firearm is fourth for this age group.

Go ahead and talk about the problem of murder, but let's remember that one thing we've learned from the Newtown massacre is how much we love and want to protect children. Children are continually dying from crashing cars, drowning, burning, suffocating, and poisoning. There are so many things we could do to be more careful and protective every day. Some of these things are fabulously banal, like keeping your eyes on the road and not walking away from the bathtub. There are no political enemies here to demonize, no legislation to stuff down your stubborn opponent's throat.

We're fixated by violence, and we love remedies for violence that have a frisson of (metaphorical) violence. But if we really care about the death of young children, we could take care.

I feel bad about all the winners of the Big Ten's Suzy Favor Athlete of the Year Award.

If your name has been pasted on others as an honor, you have a special responsibility not to besmirch it. I feel sorry for the winners of that award, but otherwise, I wasn't in the mood to add to the exposure of "Three-time Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton [who] says she coped with depression and a troubled marriage by turning to a life of prostitution."
One of the country's best-ever middle-distance runners, Favor Hamilton competed for the U.S. at the Olympics in 1992, 1996 and 2000 but did not win a medal. She won seven U.S. national titles. She lives in Madison, Wis., where... she and her husband, Mark, live in a $600,000 home and appear to be in no financial distress....

Favor Hamilton told the website that only her husband was aware of her escort work, but that, "He tried, he tried to get me to stop. He wasn't supportive of this at all."
Favor Hamilton has been attempting to tweet her way back into respectability, working the mental health angle, saying she had "reasons for doing this made sense to me at the time and were very much related to depression" and that she was "drawn to escorting in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life."

This is the standard approach famous people use to explain sexual misbehavior when they get caught. But here's a person who worked for an escort service that scheduled $600 an hour dates for her in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. It's a business venture that seems organized and deliberate, not some sad symptom of mental illness. Too bad she can't own it.

What time is the world supposed to end?

It is 12/21/12 at long last, I just noticed, after paying some some attention to the real, albeit mini, apocalypse that is Draco the Blizzard. I was going to note that the world hasn't ended, but there's the question of what time the Mayans pinpointed on this Day of Days:
I know the world isn't really going to end today, and I think it's absolutely ridiculous that anyone would believe it is. But my 11-year-old brother thinks it's going to end, and I want to be able to go scream "I told you so!" in his face as soon as possible.

ABC is checking midnight in each of the world's time zones. Weather prediction noted:

I like NASA's reassuring web page. Excerpt:
Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?

A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.
Wikipedia has a huge article on the somewhat larger topic "2012 phenomenon." Excerpt:
Many assertions about the year 2012 form part of Mayanism, a non-codified collection of New Age beliefs about ancient Maya wisdom and spirituality.... Archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni says that while the idea of "balancing the cosmos" was prominent in ancient Maya literature, the 2012 phenomenon does not draw from those traditions. Instead, it is bound up with American concepts such as the New Age movement, millenarianism, and the belief in secret knowledge from distant times and places. Established themes found in 2012 literature include "suspicion towards mainstream Western culture", the idea of spiritual evolution, and the possibility of leading the world into the New Age by individual example or by a group's joined consciousness. 
Is there a bigger crock than secret knowledge from distant times and places?

"Models also pointing toward a significant winter storm blowing up across the Plains Christmas Day..."

A tweet from The Weather Channel's Eric Fisher...

... who's so cute that it's easy to picture him surrounded beautiful women — models — pointing at storms.

"EPIC!! #uwmadison #snowday #snowfight #Draco #Madison #Wisconsin #bascom."

"All my residents came back from the Bascom Hill snowball bruised, battered, & bleeding. #HoFoProblems Good thing it was a #lakeshorevictory"

Collected tweets — with pics — of the latest classic Madison snowball fight.

What are #HoFoProblems? I don't know, and that tweet seems to be the only tweet on Twitter with that hashtag. Urban Dictionary suggests that "Hofo" is short for "homophobic" or — less likely — a combination of "ho" and "mofo."

IN THE COMMENTS: James said: "HoFo is a House Fellow." HaHa.

December 20, 2012

Are you keeping up with the tweeting of the Pope?

I started "following" him, but then there were no tweets, and I check Twitter so rarely, that I hadn't read any of his tweets. Then, I read in Vanity Fair: "Pope Starts Tweeting, Can’t Stop Tweeting, Is Called a 'Huge Bummer." Wow. Okay. So, I'll check what the Pope is tweeting. (I am not Catholic, so I'm under no obligation!)

Going for the embed code, I get to see everyone who's replying to that:

"Sarah Palin does not care for Time magazine’s selection of Barack Obama as Person of the Year."

"Time magazine is so irrelevant, she argued on Fox News last night, that it once called Sarah Palin relevant."

"If ever there was a case to balance private property rights versus the public good..."

"... to save something historically important to the cultural legacy of the city, this was it."

Where's the ball?

A dialogue about question marks, intentionally punctuated.

Althouse: "Why are question marks really needed."

Meade: "That's a good question."

Althouse: "What did you say when I said why are question marks really needed."

Meade: "That's a good question."

I find myself omitting the question mark more and more lately. Why is it needed. The question is already in the words. It's absurd silliness, if you think about it — that rococo curlicue.

"'Candyass Blogger' Update: Free Speech Absolutists Who Banned Mr. Althouse UPDATE: 'These Are Historical Dildos.'"

I wasn't going to wade into the Loomis lunacy, but that headline caught my eye. I won't even try to summarize the post, by Robert Stacy McCain, other than to say that I read it out loud to Meade and we both laughed a lot and that it contains the phrases "Everest's testicles" and "historical dildos."

As for Loomis, I lean heavily toward academic freedom, freedom of speech, and the comprehension of metaphor, but against the hypocrisy that for purposes of this blog goes under the tag "civility bullshit" and against the appropriation of a child massacre for diversion and propaganda.

"A really important moment for this movement against unpaid internships."

The Charlie Rose show settles with interns who claimed they should have received minimum wage.

"Morpho Towers — Two Standing Spirals."

"[I]t's ferrofluid, which is oil laced with bits of iron oxide. When the magnets are turned on, the little bits of iron (and the oil with them) are pulled by a magnetic field into columns and shapes that produce the 'tree.'"

"Does comedy help people to deal with controversial issues?"

"Sure it helps! That’s like asking a plumber if removing clogged faeces from pipes helps people deal with a fetid stench."

"Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back to a healthy growth pattern."

Which is why squeezing breasts might stop cancer.

Via Instapundit who says, "They haven’t done human trials yet, but I say: Why take chances?" I take it he's recommending mammograms.

Prof. Jacobson is refraining from tokenism.

1. "I would never be so insulting as to accuse the NY Times of tokenism."

2. "I would never be so insulting as to accuse the U. Penn Political Science Department of tokenism."

3. [To be continued?]

"At News Conference, Reporters Skip Past Gun Control and Face Instant Criticism."

The reporters wanted to get back to the fiscal cliff.

Is it "unbelievable" and "shameful" that the press corps wanted to talk about the fiscal cliff? Or has the Newtown massacre been a diversion from the fiscal cliff?

I use the word "diversion" here with circumspection. The word connotes amusement and entertainment, and the murder of children is terrible and serious. Nevertheless, our fixation on something is not immunize from criticism on the ground the thing we are focused on is terrible and serious. Our fascination with it may be morbid and prurient.

This is the 4th definition of the word "diversion" in the OED: "The turning away of the thoughts, attention, etc., from fatiguing or sad occupations, with implication of pleasurable excitement; distraction, recreation, amusement, entertainment."

What is the fatiguing/sad occupation and what is functioning as a diversion? The media and the American public were energized by the massacre and spurred into to producing/consuming copious media. Politicians, including and especially the President, seized the opportunity to demagogue massacre.

So I would honor the professionalism of the press corps in dragging our attention back to the fatiguing and sad occupation of attending to the federal budget.

At the Snow-Romp Café...

... hey, there!

Pre-blizzard update.


Waiting for Draco.


France provides free birth control to girls aged 15 to 18 — and bars doctors from notifying parents.

Amanda Marcotte approves:
Straightforward, almost boring health care policy story about a government taking sensible, cost-effective measures to curb a public health problem. But the story isn't really about health care policy — the underlying narrative here is that the French are yet again making American politicians look like a bunch of out of touch prudes....

Needless to say, the measure sailed through the French legislature without any kind of political battle...

"The First Amendment affords a publisher - not a reporter - absolute authority to shape a newspaper's content."

Says a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the dismay of AlterNet:
Rather than uphold their rights both to unionize and to speak out against bad editorial practices, the federal court instead said their dismissals were protected by the publisher's First Amendment Rights to print whatever she wanted.

The dispute began in 2006, when nearly all the top journalists and editors at the Santa Barbara News-Press quit because the paper's owner and publisher Wendy McCaw was interfering in the editorial content.
If a business employs people to do the work of writing, it gets to direct the work it's paying for. How could it be any other way? I'm only talking about the law — the extent to which courts should interfere. Obviously, there's endless room to criticize newspaper owners who demand biased or bad journalism. That's more speech in the speech marketplace.
"The First Amendment affords a publisher - not a reporter - absolute authority to shape a newspaper's content," Judge Stephen Williams wrote for a three-judge panel.

As the Santa Barbara Independent notes, the court's judges are overwhelmingly conservative — a bias clearly reflected in this ruling.
Clearly! Nonsense.

CORRECTION: I'd mistakenly identified the court as the 9th Circuit. (The events took place in Santa Barbara.)

"Gallup: More Americans Favor School Officials Having Guns Than Weapon Ban."

"See, states like Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, which are looking at arming teachers, are just in touch with America. Why is Barack Obama so out of touch with America?"

Power Line is really interested in the Miss Universe contest.

"I didn’t live-blog tonight’s Miss Universe show, but I kept notes as it went along, and so what follows are my impressions as the event unfolded. With a lot of stuff left out, like how mediocre the music was, and who in the world are the judges, anyway? So here goes...."

I guess there's still a place in pop culture for beauty contests, but I haven't considered watching one in decades. I remember when I was a kid, around 1960, watching Miss America and Miss Universe and feeling like these were very important events that everyone was watching. Even Miss U.S.A. and the Junior Miss pageants seemed important.

We were just talking last night — an in-person conversation, not a blog thread — about how American culture these days is no longer fixated on ideal feminine/masculine beauty as set apart from actual beautiful individuals who perform as actors or singers. This subject came up in the context of watching a documentary about a historical political figure who was fixated on ideals of feminine/masculine beauty represented in sculptures and paintings and so forth.

The pre-blizzard.

The blizzard is scheduled to arrive later this morning. This was the pre-blizzard.

I love the way the snow plow deposited a special huge snow boulder right at the end of our driveway. We — meaning Meade — need to get that out of the way before the real storm comes. The storm has a name: Draco. When did winter storms start getting names? And why Draco?
What do you think of when you read the name, "Draco?" Do you picture a dragon because you studied Latin? Or do you jump to Greece because you are an historian? Or do you turn to law because Draco was the first "lawgiver?" Or do you combine all three reasons and pop right to "Draconian?"

The weatherfolk probably had fun naming the first, named blizzard. Why did they skip the alphabetical process used for hurricanes?

December 19, 2012

"Hey, there, Zeus! Thanks for coming over."

ADDED: Serious doggy cuteness (not my video):

Reason's Jacob Sullum defends gun rights...

... in this Bloggingheads debate with Bob Wright. Bob is pushing a proposal he writes about here, and Sullum is really solid:

ADDED: Here's the section where Wright hypothesizes a school massacre every day... or every hour. Sullum calmly responds.

AND: I know a lot of my readers think Bloggingheads is too much of a slog, so here's a 17-second clip that says something shocking about rationality:

"The University of Wisconsin has selected Utah State’s Gary Andersen to be its next head coach."

"A source close to the UW football program told the State Journal on Tuesday night it is a done deal: Andersen is UW athletic director Barry Alvarez’s choice to succeed Bret Bielema, who left to become the head coach at Arkansas."

"Reagan's Justice" — an ominous New York Review of Books article about Robert Bork.

I remembered the title of the scary piece (by Ronald Dworkin), which was published in 1984, and I remembered the uber-creepy David Levine caricature that accompanied it:

After Bork got borked, Dworkin got another piece in the NYRB — "What does Bork’s defeat mean? Did the American public reject Bork’s announced philosophy of original intention? If so, what alternative constitutional philosophy, if any, did the public endorse?" — and David Levine drew him again. Look how cute:

Now that he's not a threat, he's a lovable Santa Claus. That's art, baby!

AND: From high(ish) art to low, here's an old Letterman Top 10 list: "Top 10 Names for Robert Bork's Beard":

"Bork, he was the biggest bleeding-heart liberal of us all."

An old University of Chicago Law School anecdote.

And here's a letter Robert Bork wrote to the Wall Street Journal in 2005:

Democrat, Democratic, Democratical.

Today, I encountered a word I'd never noticed before: "democratical." I was writing about the "common sense" meme and arrived at the Thomas Paine pamphlet "Common Sense" and John Adams's criticism of it as "so democratical, without any restraint or even an attempt at any equilibrium or counter poise, that it must produce confusion and every evil work."

The OED defines "democratical" to mean the same thing as "democratic," and it gives some usage examples going back to 1589 and continuing only to 1850:

Drudge revolts against the British.

Yes, of course, the British don't like our guns.

They're still licking their wounds from the 18th century.

"How to Be OK Pursuing Happiness as a Warm Friend To a Puppy Not of One's Own but By Borrowing Your Neighbor's Best Friend and Taking Him to Dog Parks Where He Can Make Lots of Friends of His Own."

The title of the book Meade says he would write if he "wanted to write a book motivated purely out of my love for humanity."

It's based on the clichés ("all true"): "If you want a friend, get a dog" and "If you want a friend, be a friend." Also, there were those self-help best sellers from the 60's and 70's "How To Be Your Own Best Friend" and "I'm OK - You're OK" plus, the classic Charles Schulz' "Happiness is a Warm Puppy."
What's stopping me from writing it is I just don't have that much love for humanity. I'd write it for caninity but of course canines don't read. And besides, they don't need self help — they need our help.

Bob Marley spoke some harsh but true truth when he said: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”

And he was right!
That's from the comments thread about the cartoon "I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You," by Yumi Sakugawa, which I love. It's spurred a lot of conversation. For example, Meade and I got into a long conversation after he quoted commenter Skyler's remark that the cartoon was "pathetic." Wasn't it only that the character in the cartoon was pathetic — and why was that? — and not the cartoon itself as a work of art? Are comics art? Are comics comical? What is art? It's art because it made us have this conversation about it. Whatever happened to works of art that found their completion in all the many conversations they inspired?

ADDED: I just found 2 Yumi Sakugawa books on Amazon for $1.99: "There Is No Right Way To Meditate"  and "Special Message For You Hand-Delivered To You In The Universe." I read some of "There Is No Right Way" out loud to Meade:
10 Ways to Get Rid of Your Bad Mood

1. Have your doppelganger extract your bad mood from your chest so he/she can make fun sculptures with it.

2. Paint out your bad mood. When you're finished with your painting, set it on fire...
Meade said: "This is where Yoko Ono meets Chip Ahoy."

Robert Bork has died.

He was 85.

From the above-linked NYT obituary:
Judge Bork, a bear of a man with a scraggly red beard and untamed frizz on a balding pate who liked to eat, drink and smoke for much of his adult life, handled himself poorly in front of the [Senate Judiciary] committee and failed to give doubters confidence. As Tom Shales, the television critic for The Washington Post, wrote of his testimony: “He looked, and talked, like a man who would throw the book at you — maybe like a man who would throw the book at the whole country.”
See that's what I was just talking about: Liberals used to express abhorrence of law-and-order types.

The NYT obit refers to "the notion that the nominee was somehow unfeeling as a judge." Somehow... a notion... Where, oh, where could it come from?!
This [notion] was amplified when, asked by a sympathetic senator, Alan Simpson, Republican of Wyoming, why he wanted to serve on the Supreme Court, Judge Bork replied that it would be “an intellectual feast.”
And that was it, the worst answer ever given to any question in the history of the United States. Intellectual feast! The feast turned out to be a feeding frenzy for the liberal media. Why, they're still picking kinky reddish beard hairs out of their back molars! Burrrrp! Tasty! What a time! And no Supreme Court nominee has said one interesting thing since. Every single one has promised to be a good little judge who would never ever do anything but serve humbly and modestly deciding the cases according to the law.

You think it was interesting that John Roberts said he saw himself as an umpire, calling balls and strikes? That proves my point! I know, Clarence Thomas, "high-tech lynching," but that wasn't about doing the judicial work, so I'm excluding that from the point, which is that they all learned what not to do from Bork. Presidents learned to avoid even picking someone Borkish, so no one was allowed to look weird, speak quirkly, seem like an intellectual with ideas of his own, it would just be bland blandness served atop a steaming pile of blandness. That is: Not tasty! As a live-blogger of nomination hearings, I want to know: Where's my intellectual feast?

ADDED: When C-SPAN put its entire archive up on-line, the first thing I looked up to relive was the Bork hearings:

And here's Teddy Kennedy's infamous and nutty denunciation of "Robert Bork's America":

Republicans used to stress "law and order," and Democrats — sounding more educated and compassionate — said we needed to look at the "root causes" of crime.

Back in, say, the Nixon era, we Nixon-hating types used "law-and-order" as an adjective expressing contempt. We might say, for example, "Governor Reagan is a law-and-order idiot."

Remember when Nixon caught flak for saying — about Charles Manson — "Here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.... Here is a man, yet, who, as far as the news media coverage was concerned, appeared to be rather a glamorous figure..."?

Nowadays, everyone's for law and order. The disagreement is only over the nature of the order. The Democrats don't react to mass murder with pleas to understand mental illness, economic strains, and cultural malaise anymore. They offer tougher laws (in the form of gun control).

Meanwhile, the mentally ill live on the streets or — once they've acted out — are incapacitated in prisons, and one hears very little concern about it from Democrats.

Gun control and the "common sense" meme.

I got 19,300 results from a Google news search for "common sense" and "Sandy Hook."

To be fair, not all of the "common sense" is a characterization of gun regulation proposals. Here's "Parenting common sense and solace," for example. And here's one referring to "the common-sense procedures" that schools can put in place — and that in fact were in place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But most of them seem to be about "common sense" gun control.

Why is "common sense" the meme of choice?

1. The massacre itself feels senseless, and we want things to make sense. Our fervent desire for sense about what happened in the past makes us amenable to related ideas for making sense. Politicians and policymakers step forward to fulfill/manipulate this need for meaning.

2. To say that this "sense" is "common" is to say: a. It's easy, relax, and see what is right in front of your eyes, and b. This conversation is over, and only weird/bad people are cluttering it with other ideas. "Common sense," by offering closure and comfort, seems well-meaning and helpful, but it is also manipulative and power-enhancing.

3. "Common sense" says: I'm moderate. I'm not about banning and confiscating guns, but doing a few modest things that will constrain the bad people of this world without burdening the good people (like you). In that, it's similar to "balanced approach," which is getting a workout in connection with the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Those who want more taxes — only for the bad guys, not for you! — want to look sensible and moderate. It's those other people who are unbalanced.

4. "Common sense" is a quintessentially American frame of mind. It was the title of the pamphlet Thomas Paine wrote in 1775, stirring up revolutionary fervor. It was completely incendiary and treasonous. And it led to quite a bit of gun violence.
There were those in high places who, while in agreement with Paine's sentiments, voiced criticism of his method. John Adams, ... in his Thoughts on Government wrote that Paine's ideal sketched in Common Sense was "so democratical, without any restraint or even an attempt at any equilibrium or counter poise, that it must produce confusion and every evil work."
Ah! So balanced approach has deep roots too. We are a pragmatic people, and we like practical proposals. We're amenable to arguments framed as balanced and common sense. But if we are indeed practical, we know these are propaganda words, and we look on them with suspicion.

"France psychiatrist guilty over murder by patient."

BBC reports:
Daniele Canarelli was given a suspended prison sentence of one year, in the first case of its kind in France.....

While accepting that there was no such thing as "zero risk" in such cases and that doctors could not predict the actions of their patients, the court found that Canarelli had made several mistakes in [Joel] Gaillard's treatment....

The court's Fabrice Castoldi said Canarelli should either have placed him in a specialised unit for difficult patients or referred him to another team.

Gaillard killed 80-year-old Germain Trabuc with an axe in March 2004 in the town of Gap.

He had been judged not responsible for his actions due to his suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was freed under medical supervision.
I can't understand the logic of saying that the doctor should "have placed him in a specialised unit for difficult patients" when the court let him free. Maybe I'm missing some subtlety about the similarity between this "unit" and "medical supervision." Are we talking about confining the man or not?

Using criminal law against the doctor is extremely hard to comprehend. (In the U.S., I think the issues have only been about civil cases in which private citizens seek damages.) But if we did want to try to institutionalize more of our mentally ill citizens — the ones who seem to threaten violence — we could exploit the doctors by scaring them with criminal liability. 

December 18, 2012

"Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than..."

"... her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics."

Observes Nate Silver, and yet 31% of Democrats own guns (compared to 58% of Republicans). 31% seems like a lot to me, especially when you consider that women are more likely to be Democrats. Women are less likely to own guns, but not by that much: 37% to 48%.

Americans like their guns, and yet the elite class is suddenly adamant about gun control. I think it's funny that those who act like they're so much wiser than the clinging-to-their-guns peasants so often let it show that they don't know what they're talking about.

"Inquiry Into Libya Attack Is Sharply Critical of State Dept."

The NYT reports:
An independent inquiry into the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans on Sept. 11 sharply criticizes the State Department for a lack of seasoned security personnel and relying on untested local militias to safeguard the compound....

"I have a confession to make. I think I'm in friend-love with you."

"I don't want to date you or even make out with you. Because that would be weird. I just so desperately want for you to think that I am this super-awesome person because I think you are a super-awesome person."

An incredibly charming cartoon. Via Metafilter, where bitteroldman says: "Ha - boy did this resonate! For about 10 years now, my only socializing has been with my wife, her friends, her friends' spouses, and people at work."

At the Snow Romp Café...


... you can have fun all night.

And if you happen to have any shopping you need to do, entering Amazon through this link will — at no extra cost to you — channel a little money my way. I thank everyone who's been doing that. I do notice, and it does encourage me.

"By far the most important debate about climate change is taking place among scientists, on the issue of climate sensitivity..."

"How much warming will a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide actually produce?"
The conclusion... is this: A doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6°-1.7°C (2.9°-3.1°F).

This is much lower than the IPCC's current best estimate, 3°C (5.4°F)....
A cumulative change of less than 2°C by the end of this century will do no net harm. It will actually do net good... Rainfall will increase slightly, growing seasons will lengthen, Greenland's ice cap will melt only very slowly, and so on.
The difficulty has to do with water evaporating from the warmed up seas, and the way water vapor counts greenhouse gas. But how does it count? We're talking about clouds, and clouds also have cooling effects.

2 billion pixels of Mount Everest...

"It's, I think, almost 400 images taken with a 300-millimeter lens that are then stitched together. When you view them in the browser, allowing you that deep zoom capability.... Yeah, it's just extraordinary and we're so excited by that image. I have myself climbed Everest five times and been to the mountain 15 times. And when I'm breathless at almost 18 or 19,000 feet recording these images, I have very little time to study the mountain and learn about it. And, of course, I can't focus my eyes as closely as that lens can."

Says David Breashears.

Here's the image.

The new era begins.

"Maryland police say a high school student was committed to a hospital's psychiatric ward after classmates reported feeling threatened and his parents said he had access to weapons."

Compare: "The gunman who slaughtered 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school may have snapped because his mother was planning to commit him to a psychiatric facility...."

Snow dogs.




That German Shorthaired Pointer — Belle — was really great at running for the ball. That other black Lab — Colby — liked running with his near-twin Zeus (our borrowed dog).

"Instagram said today that it has the perpetual right to sell users' photographs without payment or notification..."

"... a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry."
The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.

Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency.
Think the outcry is enough to change this? Facebook must monetize all that traffic it's acquired. Remember that Facebook paid a billion dollars for Instagram.

AND: May you ought to quit gramming because it's so annoying, as explained here:

"Look at this Instagram: eggs benedict, side of ham.... Drinking mai tais on a cruise/just a coincidence it's also boobs..."

"Tuesday night’s Hollywood premiere of 'Django Unchained'... has been canceled out of respect for those affected by the Newtown shootings."

A fear grips Hollywood: What if the Christmas crowds don't feel like sitting through 2 hours of violent revenge fantasy?

Poor Quentin Tarantino and Jamie Foxx! And poor Ke$ha — the radio won't play her hit song “Die Young.” Another celebrity who's been hurt is Anne Hathaway's Vulva. Its moment in the sun... gone!

ADDED: Tarantino "said at a press junket in New York for the film on Saturday that he was tired of defending his films each time the US is shocked by gun violence."
"I just think you know there's violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers... It's a western. Give me a break."
Yeah, Quentin's tired. Give him a break.

At the Snowfall Café...

... it's so quiet here.

"In the olden days, when leftists wished to argue against gun owners, they claimed that guns were phallic symbols..."

"... and that the excessive love of guns demonstrated latent homosexuality," says William (the commenter), tapping his own memory as "I'm an old man and a living link with the past."
Keep oiling and loading that pisstool, big boy. We know what you're really doing....
Can we not now claim that excessive fear of gun ownership indicates a streak of homophobia? They don't want to ban guns. We know what they really want to ban.

Drudge features huge, horrible Pelosi laughing skull-face.

This is expressive:

You have to click over to Drudge to get the real effect. The picture is huge. The link goes here.)

"Autism is related to different ways of processing information in the brain, but not in those areas related to violence..."

"Can autistic individuals get flooded emotionally and act irrationally?... Of course they can, like everyone else, but that’s not a defining characteristic."

Autism advocacy groups fend off the taint of Adam Lanza.

"Understanding Obama," the law school course.

Understanding... presumably from a legal perspective.

Ah, here: The professor — who was one of Obama's lawprofs — describes the course this way:
This reading group will focus on the way in which race, religion, and politics have impacted the development of President Obama as a leader... We will explore his views as a biracial child, his time as a student at Harvard Law School, the successes and failures of his political campaigns, and the way religion and his views on faith nearly derailed his campaign. Finally, time will be spent analyzing the challenges he faces as president of the United States in establishing both his domestic and global policies.

Danny Boyle has declined a knighthood.

He's about being "an equal citizen," he says.

Who else has declined a knighthood? Among others:
David Bowie, musician
Francis Crick, physicist and Nobel Prize winner
Michael Faraday, scientist
Albert Finney, actor
E. M. Forster, author and essayist
Michael Frayn, novelist and dramatist
John Galsworthy, playwright and novelist
Graham Greene, novelist
Stephen Hawking, scientist
David Hockney, CH, RA, artist
Aldous Huxley, author
Rudyard Kipling, author
Henry Moore, sculptor
J.B. Priestley, novelist and playwright
George Bernard Shaw, playwright and critic
Paul Scofield, actor
Ralph Vaughan Williams composer
H.G. Wells, writer
Meanwhile, also at the link: Winston Churchill declined a Dukedom, Neville Chamberlain declined an earldom, John Cleese declined a barony, and John Lennon returned his MBE "in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts."

The United States is constitutionally forbidden to grant titles of nobility. How different would we be now if we'd been doing that sort of thing all these years?
Dignities and high sounding names have different effects on different beholders. The lustre of the Star and the title of My Lord, over-awe the superstitious vulgar, and forbid them to inquire into the character of the possessor: Nay more, they are, as it were, bewitched to admire in the great, the vices they would honestly condemn in themselves. This sacrifice of common sense is the certain badge which distinguishes slavery from freedom; for when men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
Said Thomas Paine.

"Scarlett Johansson Nude Photo Hacker Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison."

10 years?!

"Maybe she can get one of those Wisconsin doctors to write her a fake note."

Instapundit's intro to "Where’s Hillary’s Medical Report?"

Here's my original 2/19/11 report on the doctors offering to write sick notes for protesters who were skipping work for the Wisconsin protests:
At first I thought it was some sort of comic street theater, but it was, apparently, real doctors, defending what they were doing.... I asked if it was dishonest or unethical, and the answer was that everyone has symptoms, perhaps a migraine, diarrhea, or insomnia....
In that light, I'm sure Hillary does have symptoms. She's probably suffering horribly from the anxiety around the Benghazi attack and the possibility that she might have to speak about it. And she keeps telling us she's tired:
RUSH: Susan Rice last night on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.  He played a portion of his interview with Susan Rice, and then he asked her, "Why was it you that Sunday morning?" Why did they send you out there to every Sunday show, five of them?  "Of all the people in government, why the US Ambassador the United Nations answering questions about the attack at Benghazi?"

RICE:  Secretary Clinton had originally been asked by most of the networks to go on.  She had had an incredibly grueling week dealing with the protests around the Middle East and North Africa.  I was asked. I was willing to do so. It wasn't what I had planned for that weekend originally, but I don't regret doing that.

RUSH:  Did you hear what she just said there?  She said they asked her to go 'cause Hillary was tired. Hillary Clinton had originally been asked by most of the networks to go on.  It was Obama who shut it down.  Obama wanted Susan Rice out there.  He wanted somebody far away from the story telling this lie that it was the video that led to the unrest.  Somebody close to it woulda had a little bit tougher time with any credibility telling the lie. But you get Susan Rice, she's distant. She is the UN ambassador, got nothing to do with Benghazi, not in the State Department. She has no representation at the consulate or at Benghazi, send her out there, and so Brian Williams said, "Why send you?"  "Well, you know, Hillary, she originally was asked, but she really had a grueling week.  I mean, dealing with protests in the Middle East and North Africa, she was really tired."
Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice — the spent and the expendable.

"It's an argument with which older, calmer people needle the emotional young."

I wrote in the previous post. Meade asks: "Did you mean 'the emotionally young'?"

No, I'm not insulting anyone for emotional immaturity. I'm characterizing young people as more emotionally raw. They're not emotionally young, they're emotional, as is typical of the young. Note that I referred to "older, calmer people."

It's like that Cat Stevens song, "Father and Son." We hear the calm voice of the man who's "old... but happy," saying "it's not time to make a change," and one ought to "relax" and put much more time into thinking and learning. Then — at 1:24 — Stevens suddenly switches to the young man's voice, and he's so wound up and emotional. He can't deal with his father at all, he's sick of the same old thing, and he's got to run away. The old man returns at 2:44 ("sit down, take it slowly"), and the young man again at 3:15 ("All the times I have cried...").


Please keep the comments on topic. I want none of the usual diatribes about Cat Stevens's religious notions relating to fatwa and so forth. Let me just say in advance, I will delete anything in that category along with discussion of this decision to delete, though you're welcome to discuss any of that in the next or the last open thread. Or click on the Cat Stevens tag and revisit all the times we've already done that.

Why are people having so much trouble understanding rhetorical devices?

You may remember Justice Scalia the other day tweaking the kids at Princeton for not being able to handle reductio ad absurdum:
It's a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the 'reduction to the absurd'...
It can't be, of course, that the Princeton students never get argument that comes in the form of taking a principle you know your interlocutor holds dear and presenting him with other things that could fall within the principle that you know he'll object to. It's irritating to be on the receiving end. The one who wields that argument is playing with ideas, fun-loving, and challenging. The one on the receiving end doesn't want to play along. He may get super-serious and offended: How dare you talk about something I hold dear alongside those horrible things that all decent people loathe?! It's an argument with which older, calmer people needle the emotional young.

Scalia never said homosexuality is like bestiality. Here's the passage in his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas that heats up his opponents:
State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are... sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.
Now, it's rhetoric to act like he equated homosexuality with bestiality. It's rhetoric to say — as the Princeton student did — "Do you have any regret or shame for drawing these comparisons you did in your dissents?"

It's rhetoric to respond to that question — a demand for an account of Scalia's inner life — by mocking the student's inability to understand rhetoric. That was cold, intentionally cold. Hey, you Princeton guys are supposed to be smart. But Scalia could have chosen a warmer approach without selling himself out. That question could have been answered:
Actually, I do have feelings and I know that many of the opinions I write upset people, but what would cause me regret or shame would be to let things like that sway me from deciding the cases according to the law. I'm a judge, and when I'm doing my judge work, I have to stick to being a judge. And part of being a judge is to demand that a case express a rule that can be applied to other things that are similar. The question in Lawrence was whether moral feeling, standing alone, is enough to support a law. If the majority was saying no, then it needed to commit to that proposition across the board, and I was testing that, and a test really does need to be sharp and probing. I get that it pains you, but step up and argue with me. Tell me why bestiality is different from the other things on the morality-only list. Actually, it's pretty easy: The animal has feelings. We have feelings. Animals have feelings. Feelings matter. But as a judge, I can't do feelings. Come on, have some empathy for me in my plight!
I've gone on quite long about Scalia, but Scalia wasn't the inspiration for this post. What got me started on this track was the difficulty readers had with 2 of yesterday's posts that entailed the use of rhetorical devices. One consisted of 2 quotes: "What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?"/"I dunno. What is the gay community going to do about Penn State?" This linked to Instapundit, who provided the source of the quotes and who now has a couple updates that suggest he's getting pushback similar to some of what I see in my long comments thread, e.g., "Professor Althouse, the comparison is absurd, bigoted and offensive any way you cut it. You should be ashamed of yourself for linking to it with approval."

See? Shame on you! I am offended! Come on, think about it. Figure out the puzzle. It's an analogy, pithily phrased, and thus an occasion to pick apart the ways in which the 2 statements are/are not parallel. Many readers in my comments thread did understand the rhetoric and deal with the coherence of the analogy, but many fell into the sort of expression of outrage that's so common and so dull these days. At least show you understand the rhetoric and then tell me it's in bad taste to be humorous and challenging over topics so raw and painful.

The second post that got me started on this topic was the one that linked to this Matt K. Lewis item "The media should be ashamed of its Connecticut coverage." I'd quoted only the last few lines of that piece, where he proposed "some common sense media control." He's doing a twist on the post-Newtown gun control arguments, switching the right under threat from the 2d Amendment to the 1st Amendment. I thought that was clever and thought-provoking, but unfortunately some readers didn't get it. One said: "Professor Althouse, I'm not sure whether you got punked or if you get that this article is satire and are endorsing it's [sic] specious point." Oh, jeez, that's annoying! I like to keep things crisp around here. Are people going to be so dull that all humor will need arrows pointing at it saying it's humor?

Actually, I see that the 2 comments I've selected for quotation here are by the same person. Maybe he's simply pretending to be dull and doing the Theater of Outrage. That's rhetoric too, and I need to get it.

December 17, 2012

"I've been so many places in my life and time..."

We're listening to "A Song for You" here at Meadhouse tonight. The original, by Leon Russell, and this version by The Carpenters.

ADDED: Interesting that the lyric is "life and time," not "life and times." The stock phrase is "life and times." You see it in many subtitles — "Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla," "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" — and titles — "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid." "Times" refers to the era in which the character lives, so "life and times" is a reference to 2 related things — the person and the setting where we find him. But "time" without the "s" seems to refer to the period of time that is the character's life. Think of how we say things like: Your time is almost used up or My time here on earth. "Life and time," then, is a redundancy, 2 references to the character's own life, and none to the era. When I listen to the Leon Russell original, I feel that I can hear an implied "s" on "time" (and a similar effect on the word "rhyme" in the rhyming line: "I've sung a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhyme"), but then I listen again and it's not there at all. I check Karen Carpenter's ultra-clear articulation: It's "life and time" and "some bad rhyme." It's odd when you contemplate the meaning of language, but when you think about the sound, closing down those lines on the hum of "m" is so much nicer than hissing into an "s."

AND: 1. "The Best of Leon Russell," and 2. "Carpenters Gold."

"We have of course gotten used to mommy bloggers embarrassing their children..."

"... saying which child they like best or how much they drink while stuck at home doing art projects."
Louis C.K. regularly embarrasses his kids and surely one day they will get their revenge. These are humiliations that might require a kid to get therapy later, but they are not on the same order as what [Liza] Long did. They are unlikely, for example, to prevent the kids from getting a job. So far the children’s rights movement has focused on protecting children from neglect and abuse, but maybe it’s time to add a subcategory protecting them from libel, by their own parents.
That's Hanna Rosin, writing about the "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" blogger, whom we talked about here.

"What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?"

"I dunno. What is the gay community going to do about Penn State?”

"What a liar" — famously muttered into an open mike.

It's the one thing I've always remembered about Daniel K. Inouye.

Dead now, at age 88.

Larry, Gus, Ruby, and Zeus.

3 Labs and a Barbet... video by Meade, who brought Zeus to the dog park and encountered the others:

"From the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s and onward, young men – and young white men in particular – have increasingly been asked to yield what they’d believed was securely theirs."

"This underlying fact, compounded by the backdrop of violent entertainment and easy access to weapons, creates the conditions for thousands of young men to consider their future prospects and decide they would rather destroy than create."
Can you imagine being in the shoes of the one who feels his power slipping away? Who can find nothing stable to believe in? Who feels himself becoming unnecessary? That powerlessness and fear ties a dark knot in his stomach. As this knot thickens, a centripetal hatred moves inward toward the self as a centrifugal hatred is cast outward at others: his parents, his girlfriend, his boss, his classmates, society, life....
More post-Newtown cogitation at The Stone, the NYT "forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless." This one is from Princeton French prof Christy Wampole.

If you crashed your $376,000 Lamborghini Aventador into a snowy ditch and walked away from it...

... you'd Instagram it. You know you would! (Compare me, in 2005, when I wrecked my car.)

"Our gun culture promotes a fatal slide into extreme individualism."

"It fosters a society of atomistic individuals, isolated before power — and one another — and in the aftermath of shootings such as at Newtown, paralyzed with fear. That is not freedom, but quite its opposite. And as the Occupy movement makes clear, also the demonstrators that precipitated regime change in Egypt and Myanmar last year, assembled masses don’t require guns to exercise and secure their freedom, and wield world-changing political force. Arendt and Foucault reveal that power does not lie in armed individuals, but in assembly — and everything conducive to that."

So writes Firmin DeBrabander, who is a philosophy prof at the Maryland Institute College of Art, in the corner of the NYT called "The Stone," which calls itself "a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless."

I'm not familiar with Firmin DeBrabander but I would like to know if he extends his principle generally to all of the individual rights currently protected in the various interpretations that have emanated from the Supreme Court.

Does our abortion culture/free speech culture promote a fatal slide into extreme individualism? Do abortion rights/free speech rights foster a society of atomistic individuals, isolated before power — and one another. Would Professor DeBrabander say that abortion rights and free speech rights are not freedom but the opposite?

Let me offer a bonus literary reading to sharpen the question. It's from a famous book. I've added some boldface to stress things relevant to DeBrabander's philosophy:
"You are thinking... that my face is old and tired. You are thinking that I talk of power, and yet I am not even able to prevent the decay of my own body. Can you not understand, Winston, that the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigour of the organism. Do you die when you cut your fingernails?...

"We are the priests of power.... God is power. But at present power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you must realise is that power is collective. The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual. You know the Party slogan: "Freedom is Slavery." Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone— free — the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to realise is that power is power over human beings. Over the body— but, above all, over the mind....

"We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation— anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wished to...."

At the Green Tower Café...


... we're picking up signals.

Feel free to chat open-threadily, and if you'd like to support the Althouse blogging enterprise, shop here (if you need to shop).

"A gun show in Montgomery County drew a huge crowd on Sunday, despite calls for stricter gun control..."


Is that the right word?

"The founding fathers never envisioned the damage that could be done by a 24-hour news cycle."

"The media incentivizes killers by giving them attention, and they put innocent people in danger."
Clearly, we cannot sit by and hope this situation will improve. How many more deaths will it take before someone does something?

I know what you're thinking: Free societies are inherently messy. And what about the First Amendment?

I'm not suggesting we completely abolish the media. But perhaps we should curtail it. Isn't it time for some common sense media control?
It's time for a conversation and perhaps a commission... about common sense control....

If Kerry becomes Secretary of State, his replacement could be... Michael Dukakis!

Democratic Governor Deval Patrick will get to appoint someone pending a special election (which would come in late spring or early summer).

Dukakis is — we're told — the obvious choice if the idea is to install a placeholder.

Tim Scott "will become the only African-American currently serving in the Senate and the first black Republican to serve in the upper chamber since the 1970s."

Appointed by Nikki Haley to replace Jim DeMint.
Scott was first elected to the House in 2010, winning an open seat after defeating the son of longtime Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), the former segregationist who held the state’s other Senate seat for nearly 50 years until 2003.

He will become just the seventh African-American to serve in the Senate and the first black senator from the South since the 1880s.

Only three black senators have been voted into office by their constituents: Sen. Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) and now-President Barack Obama (D-Ill.). The others were elected by their state legislatures (before direct election of U.S. senators began) or appointed.
DeMint's term runs until 2016, but there will be a special election in 2014, so it remains to be seen whether this black Republican from the South can win a state-wide election.

ADDED: The linked WaPo article identifies Thurmond — "the former segregationist" — as a Republican, but when he was a big-time segregationist, he was a Democrat:
Thurmond represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 until 2003, at first as a Democrat and, after 1964, as a Republican....

In opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, he conducted the longest filibuster ever by a lone senator, at 24 hours and 18 minutes in length, nonstop. In the 1960s, he opposed the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965 to end segregation and enforce the voting rights of African-American citizens. He always insisted he had never been a racist, but was opposed to excessive federal authority.