January 19, 2013

"Stan Musial, one of baseball’s greatest hitters and a revered figure in the storied history of the St. Louis Cardinals..."

"... the player they called Stan the Man — died Saturday. He was 92."

At the Swan Lake Café...


... you were right. Those really were swans out there on icy Lake Mendota this afternoon.

"Sometimes a shadow moved against a dressing-room blind above, gave way to another shadow, an indefinite procession of shadows, that rouged and powdered in an invisible glass."

Earlier today, I made a "café" post out of a photograph of a tablescape that included my small toy robot, and betamax3000 used it as an occasion — a "café" post is an open thread — to speak for the robot, saying Althouse-blog-related things like: "Robot has no need for F. Scott Fitzgerald. Robot has no need for extraneous data." And "Robot would eradicate Gatsby of unnecessary organic units. Story now smaller."

The Althouse blog has an ongoing Gatsby project consisting of quoting and talking about one sentence from "The Great Gatsby" every day. No one remembers why. It's simply a tradition on the Althouse blog. There's talk of switching to "Lady Chatterly's Lover" or "The Little Prince," but these are rumors, borne in on the breeze that sweeps through the windows and makes the curtains swirl upward into the ceiling that seems like a wedding cake.)

So I've chosen a sentence for Robot/betamax3000 with all the organic units pre-eradicated. A shadow moves. That's the action. It moves and gives way to... guess what?!... another shadow. And more and more shadows. A procession of shadows. A shadow parade. Another inanimate thing is the dressing-room blind. And since we've got a dressing room, we can imagine an organic unit putting on makeup — rouge and powder — but our organic units are eradicated, so it's nothing but a shadow, the absence of a living person, and lest you think you see a person in that mirror in the dressing room, F. Scott Fitzgerald will have you know that even the looking-glass is invisible.

Maybe it was named after the buccaneer Peter Wallace.

Belize — our "History of" country today. It's a legend, that the Spanish pronunciation of "Wallace" was Ballis and hence Belize. Belize. Do you know where it is? It's crammed in between Mexico and Guatamala.

In places that today look like this...

... the Mayans flourished and then they were gone. We don't really know why. You can blame the Spanish. (Why not? They deserve it.) But Mayan civilization had collapsed by the time the Spanish got there. Then the English arrived, by shipwreck, in 1638. Squabbling between the Spanish and the English went on for a long time, and there was a lot of piracy and "indiscriminate logging."

Video from the "Guns Across America" rally here in Madison, Wisconsin today.

Here's some edited video showing the crowd and the signs.

In the middle there is a prayer, and at the end is the national anthem. Once you get to the national anthem, it's all national anthem from there on. I decided not to edit that part down because you get a good view of the people who attended the rally and their attitude.

The prayer is quite interesting, including some discussion of what Jesus said to Peter after he cut off a man's ear. (Jesus didn't tell Peter to surrender his sword. He told him to "put it back in the holster." My Bible says "sheath," but Jesus wasn't speaking English.)

At 2:07, you see a sign that says "Political Power Grows Out of the Barrel of a Gun. Mao," held next to a second, matching sign that says — in between 2 peace signs — "Support and Defend the Constitution."

At 2:15, I'm talking to this man about his nice-looking but hard-to-stop-and-read sign:


He asks me if I recognize the face and (despite knowing I'm wrong) I guess Michael J. Fox. He lets me know it's Ayn Rand and I say I'll read it later (knowing I've got the still). It says: "The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other - until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country's official ideology."

At 2:35, I talk to a counter-protester with a sign that says "Ban High Capacity Magazine Clips" and ask "What's a magazine clip?" She knew there was some question about that term, but she'd researched it on the internet and decided that was the term she wanted to use. Perhaps saying "magazine clip" is a way to signal which side you're on. A shibboleth.

ADDED: Other stills from the rally here.

Meade drove me up to the Capitol Square to catch the "Guns Across America" rally.

I jumped out of the car almost before it stopped moving to catch up with this sign: "The Experts Agree/Gun Control Works":


"Rights Don't END Where Feelings Begin" — note the rifle-handle for the sign:


Not sure whether the Anonymous crowd is for gun rights, but the masked man's sign, not fully visible in the photo, said "The Only Criminals That Care About the Gun Laws Are the Ones in Office":


Purchases of the day.

The Queen of Spades and Other Stories (Dover Thrift Editions) [Kindle Edition] by Alexander Pushkin (Author)
Disney Nemo Plush Mini Bean Bag Toy
Mauna Loa Macadamias, Dry Roasted with Sea Salt, (2) 11-Ounce Packages
The Gentleman Stachifier Pacifier

Thanks for shopping through the Althouse Amazon Associates portal.  We earned, respectively, $1.04, $1.02, $0.96, and $1.02 - all without additional cost to the purchaser.

At the Paperweight Café...


... step away from that desk.

"Men try harder, because they know that women want men who earn more."

"Women don’t because they know that men have different priorities, and because they want to quit the rat-race at some point and have kids, making their tolerance for high debt levels rationally lower."

Says Glenn Reynolds, reacting to this Inside the Law School Scam post about how law school — with its high tuition and iffy job market — is a worse deal for women than for men.

This is getting strangely close to the argument that used to be made for discriminating against women in law school admissions (or for excluding them altogether): Since women are less likely to fully use their legal education, we shouldn't give what could be a man's seat to a woman. Women were suspected of going to law school for ulterior reasons, such as to find a good husband or — crazy ladies! — because they are interested in the topic... intellectually.

Speaking of Presidents and nightmares...

I had a dream last night that I woke up, looked at my iPhone, and saw a terrible headline in Drudge. I tried really hard to yell it out to Meade, who was asleep. It was impossible to yell, which should have tipped me off that it was a dream, but it was so realistic — the dream of waking up in bed and doing something that you tend to do while still in bed — that later, when I really did wake up, I grabbed my iPhone, went right to Drudge, and I was so relieved to see the same headline that was there when I went to bed Friday night.

It's a particularly cheerful headline — "Stocks Hit 5 Year High" — with a picture of wine glasses splashily clinking, angled together in a position that parallels Oprah's hands in a picture just above and to the left. Oprah looks alarmed/outraged, but only because "He even lied — to Oprah?!" And how reassuring that is. The outrage of the day is Lance Armstrong, doping and lying, the same old thing, and it's something that only vaguely affects us. Thank God.

What was the headline I saw in my dream? I won't tell you. It's not that I'm superstitious, but ideas affect minds, and it's an image I won't put out there.

"I don’t think we should talk about Lincoln’s underwear..."

"It’s not appropriate for someone so iconic. Even in the bedroom, Lincoln is never shown in his pajamas. He’s in his shirt and pants."

Joanna Johnston, movie costume designer.


"But even the President of the United States/Sometimes must have to stand naked."

Bob Dylan.


"How many Bob Dylan songs have the word 'naked' and how many of them can you name?" I challenge Meade with a Bob Dylan test, as I tend to do when I've done a search at bobdylan.com (as I did for the "It's Alright Ma" quote, above).

Meade immediately says "even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked," then none of the others — not even "You see somebody naked and you say who is that man?" — and makes 2 wrong guesses:
MEADE: "'Mr. Tambourine Man'... just to dance beneath the naked sky..."

ME: "That's 'diamond sky.'"

MEADE: "The one where the farmer is chasing him out of his house."

ME: "'Motorpsycho Nightmare?' No."
In "Motorpsycho Nightmare," Bob Dylan is just trying to get some sleep — no sign that he's sleeping naked — when Rita — "Lookin’ just like Tony Perkins" (i.e., the murderer in "Psycho") importunes him to take a shower. He's freaked out: "Oh, no! no! I’ve been through this [movie] before." Afraid of getting knifed to death, but unwilling to run off unless her father (the farmer) throws him out (because he promised the farmer he'd milk the cows in the morning), his sees his only option as saying "something to strike him very weird." What he says is: "I like Fidel Castro and his beard."

Beards. Fidel Castro made a beard as off limits to an American president — in spite of Lincoln — as Hitler made the mustache. And here I want to go back to that "Becoming Adolf" article by Rich Cohen that were were talking about a couple days ago:
[Y]ou could not wear any kind of mustache after [WWII], because, running from Hitler, you might run into Stalin. Hitler plus Stalin ended the career of the mustache in Western political life. Before the war, all kinds of American presidents wore a mustache and/or beard. You had John Quincy Adams, with his muttonchops...

You had Abe Lincoln, whose facial hair...

... like his politics, was the opposite of Hitler's: beard full, lip bare. You had James Garfield, who had the sort of vast rabbinical beard into which whole pages of legislation could vanish.

You had Rutherford B. Hayes...

Grover Cleveland...

... and Teddy Roosevelt, whose asthma and elephant gun were just a frame for his mustache.

You had William Howard Taft — the man wore a Walrus!

After the war, the few American politicians who still wore a mustache were those who had made their name before Hitler and so had been grandfathered in. Like Thomas Dewey.

Dewey was Eliot Spitzer. He was a prosecutor in New York in the 1930s (and later governor), the only guy with the guts to take on the Mob. For Dewey, the rise of Hitler was a fashion disaster. Because Dewey wore a neat little mustache. Dewey ran for president twice — losing to F.D.R., losing to Truman. In my opinion, without the mustache, the headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune (Dewey Defeats Truman) turns true. One of the few prominent American politicians to wear facial hair in recent memory is Al Gore, who grew a Grizzly Adams beard after he lost to George Bush, in 2000. The appearance of this beard was taken to mean either (1) Gore would never again run for office, or (2) Gore had gone completely mental.

The decision to grow a mustache or a beard is all by itself reason to keep a man away from the nuclear trigger.
Are we going to decide who deserves out trust based on they look? Come on, Abe. Lose the beard. Okay.

Pick one:

"We said, hey, let's do something ridiculous."

"Let's go shoot guns."

ADDED: Via a Columbia Journalism Review "Pass the #popcorn" item, with a lot of intra-journalism analysis

"The 100 richest people in the world earned enough last year to end extreme poverty suffered by the poorest on the planet four times over..."

"Extreme wealth was 'economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive,' the report said."

"Should you get divorced in order to make your children better people?"

"What a good parent you are for asking, but, no, of course not: There are easier ways to get the benefits of being non-religious to your children than going through a divorce."

January 18, 2013

Purchase(s) of the day.

Through the Althouse Amazon Associates portal: "Up in the Old Hotel" by Joseph Mitchell. "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun" [Kindle Edition] by Paul M. Barrett. Travel Blue Secret Sliding Wallet. Associate earnings to the Althouse blog: $0.98, $0.96, and $0.96 respectively. Respectfully, thanks!

At the Winter Light Café...


... I can't tell you what we did.

"P.S. I know you're doing your best."

8-year-old Grant reaches out to President Obama:

"Her expression was curiously familiar — it was an expression I had often seen on women’s faces...

"... but on Myrtle Wilson’s face it seemed purposeless and inexplicable until I realized that her eyes, wide with jealous terror, were fixed not on Tom, but on Jordan Baker, whom she took to be his wife."

Today's Gatsby sentence — we read one sentence from "The Great Gatsby" every day here on the Althouse blog — is very long, one clause after another, and yet, it doesn't tumble all out of control. We get it.

It's a sentence about an expression on a woman's face, a very common and utterly insipid expression, yet obviously very disturbing for the woman herself, even as we are deprived of any reason to feel for her. She's not even right about what she thinks she sees.

"French control over Flanders steadily increased until 1302 when an attempt at total annexation by Philip IV met a stunning defeat.."

"... when Count Guy (who had the support of the guilds and craftsmen) rallied the townspeople and humiliated the French knights at the Battle of the Golden Spurs."

It looked something like this:

That was long ago in the place that we call Belgium... our "History of" country today.

"Being Married Helps Professors Get Ahead, but Only If They're Male."

Headline at The Atlantic. The writer, Alexis Coe, begins with something the Princeton professor James McPherson wrote in the acknowledgements section of one of this books:
"The person most instrumental in helping me produce this volume has also been the most important person in my life for the past forty years, my wife Patricia. In addition to enriching my life every day, she has been a superb research assistant, having read almost as many soldiers' letters and diaries as I have."
Well, you see where this is going, but can I yell stop? It's not that he's male. It's that he is outward manifestation of a 2-person partnership. There is one name on the commercial side of the life they share, which has private arrangements that you don't get to scrutinize.

Ladies, if you are jealous of this lifestyle, ally with a man who would like to live like that, sharing a private life with you while you hold down the income-producing job.

Please contribute to a 10-year old girl's science experiment.

Watch a 6-second video and answer 3 easy questions.

7th Circuit upholds Gov. Walker's much-protested collective bargaining legislation.

"The district court invalidated Act 10's recertification and payroll deduction provisions, but upheld the statute's limitation on collective bargaining. We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety."
Voting to uphold the law in its entirety were Judges Joel M. Flaum and William J. Bauer. Flaum wrote the opinion.

Judge David F. Hamilton dissented in part, saying he believed part of the collective bargaining law violated the First Amendment. Hamilton argued the state could not bar some unions from having their dues deducted from paychecks while it allowed police and fire unions to do so.
ADDED: Here's the opinion PDF.

AND: The panel said it's well-settled that "use of the state’s payroll systems to collect union dues is a state subsidy of speech that requires only viewpoint neutrality." The law didn't target any particular viewpoints. It subsidized the speech of public safety unions but not other public employee unions, and the unions had argued that the speech of the groups that were subsidized would be more favorable to the party that supported the legislation and so Act 10 wasn't genuinely viewpoint neutral, but only the dissenting judge agreed.

"Obama unveils 'Organizing for Action.'"

I read the Politico headline out loud.

Meade immediately improvises a song, and I have the wit and the skill to transcribe as he sings:
Organize for action
Organize for some action, baby
Organize! Organize!
Organize my organ
Activate my organ for organizing
A little girly action
Organize for action
ADDED: "You in?"

"Who of a certain age could forget when a bookish black woman named Anita Hill addressed a Senate committee of 14 white men..."

"... and candidly spoke of graphic sexual harassment by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas? The explosive, race-tinged hearings in 1991 had all of America, especially black America, captivated. Sexual politics became part of the lexicon, and Hill became a divisive figure. We know what became of Thomas — now we get a rare glimpse into Hill's private life with friends and family, who stood by her through it all."

From "14 Films That Matter at Sundance" at The Root.

Photo taken, just now, without getting up from my desk.


ADDED: Dialogue:
MEADE: Did you get video?

ME: No, stills work better.

MEADE: It was blinking.

ME: It could have been winking. Birds in profile. How do you know when they are winking at you?

"Then David said to Abigail 'Blessed is your advice and blessed are you.'"

"Mrs. Phillips chose her pen name herself, taking Abigail after the prophetess in the Book of Samuel... and Van Buren for its old-family, presidential ring."

Pauline Phillips — "Dear Abby" — dead at the age of 94.

"Moustaches, once associated with old men and bikers, have been experiencing a fashion renaissance of late."

"One of winter's hottest grooming trends was the fake moustache, which is available in a range of styles, including the tiny 'Soul Patch' and the big and bushy 'Copstache Standard.'"

I'm not recommending fake (or real) mustaches for adult males, but I do like The Gentleman Stachifier Pacifier:

"American Diversity" class insufficiently heartwarming for some Wisconsin parents.

Daily Mail brings news of a local high school where kids were taught that "minorities had historically been oppressed by white people."
According to handouts..., 'white privilege' in the class was defined as a 'set of advantages that are believed to be enjoyed by white people beyond those commonly experienced by non-white people in the same social, political, and economic spaces...'....
[One] parent became alarmed after seeing the handouts provided to her 18-year-old son... “I felt it was indoctrination,” she said. “This is a radical left agenda and ideology that is now embedded in our school.”
I hate the use of schools for to indoctrinate children, but what exactly is the problem here? The students should be taught American history, and racial oppression is a big part of telling the story fairly and accurately. Maybe the name of the class — "American Diversity" — is misleading, in that it suggests a happy rainbow. That said, I'm not surprised to see parents fretting that the teachers are doing political indoctrination. I understand and share this mistrust.

"I always start with physicality when I’m writing as a woman. So I always have a vagina and think about having periods."

Said Will Self, who has a new novel, "Umbrella," the title of which is based on the Joyce quote "A brother is as easily forgotten as an umbrella."

By the way, the first appearance of the word "umbrella" in English, according to the OED (not linkable), came in 1611:
T. Coryate Crudities sig. Lv,   Many of them doe carry other fine things.., which they commonly call in the Italian tongue vmbrellaes... These are made of leather something answerable to the forme of a little cannopy & hooped in the inside with diuers little wooden hoopes that extend the vmbrella in a prety large compasse.
That predates the first use of "vagina," which was in 1682:
T. Gibson Anat. Humane Bodies 20   It has passages..for the neck of the Bladder, and in Women for the vagina of the Womb.
The etymology of "vagina" is: "Latin vāgīna sheath, scabbard." The etymology of "umbrella" is: "Italian ombrella and ombrello, < ombra < Latin umbra shade."

Here's Perry Como singing "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella."

Fill in the blank: Let a smile be your umbrella. Let a _________ be your vagina.

"What Hostages in Algeria? Manti Te'o Had a Composite Girlfriend!"

Where's your sense of proportion?

"Did the Framers have batteries, or did they have to plug everything in?"

A wisecrack question of mine, just now, in the middle of a long conversation about the theory of original intent. Meade — who is not a lawyer — was engaging me — a law professor —  on the topic because he's off somewhere in the forum section of the local alternative newspaper website arguing with people about the 2d Amendment and so forth and we got to talking about how much of the modern world the Framers could have envisioned.

"Or did they get their electricity from lightning?" I quipped before looking up the history of batteries and seeing:
The usage of "battery" to describe electrical devices dates to Benjamin Franklin, who in 1748 described multiple Leyden jars (early electrical capacitors) by analogy to a battery of cannons.
Footnote 6 at the link quotes "Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin," Volume 2:
"Upon this we made what we called an electrical battery, consisting of eleven panes of large sash-glass, armed with thin leaden plates, pasted on each side, placed vertically, and supported at two inches distance on silk cords, with black hooks of leaden wire, one from each side, standing upright, distant from each other..."

If Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography has nothing at all about law or even politics...

... why would anyone read it?
The book, which covers her life prior to becoming a judge, barely says a word about the Constitution and even less about ideology. Yet one doesn't get the sense that politics were scrubbed from the text; it is rather that the topic isn't of much interest to the author.
That's what a good scrubbing job would do. So there's no bad scrubbing job leaving interesting residue.
One wishes she had shared her intellectual interests with us or discussed the books that captured her fancy or influenced her thinking, since she remarks more than once in "My Beloved World" that the library was a refuge for her as a schoolgirl and later at Princeton. Disclosing the names of books that influenced a childhood wouldn't compromise pending or future cases.
Welcome to the post-Bork world — a "beloved" world? — where judges are dutiful, neutral case processors. The very quality that makes a judge the kind of judge we've come to require — post-Bork — will embody a form of expression antithetical to a good memoir.

"Armstrong did not delve into the details of his doping, and Winfrey never asked."

"He did not explain how it was done, who helped him do it or how, exactly, he perpetuated his myth for so long. He said he was not comfortable talking about other people.... Not once did he look into the camera and say, without qualification, 'I’m sorry.'"

Oprah, too, should have looked into the camera and said "I'm sorry." What a terrible interview! The part I watched, anyway, before deciding it was a big waste of time. Oprah looked and sounded tired and uncomfortable, as if she'd forgotten how to be Oprah. Or they'd had some dispute off camera and she knew this was going to be a robotic exercise in nothingness that wasn't going to save her network. She was going to get zero warmth, zero psychodrama, just a dull little man. Little in every way, including the way that made Oprah look huge.

Oh! If only a second Oprah could have been there interviewing Oprah about what she thought and how she felt about the wee interviewee.

There's still Part 2 — and maybe Lance will look right into the camera and say, without qualification, "I'm sorry" — but will anyone watch? Did anyone, other than journalists covering the "story," stick with Part 1 all the way through? Or did you all snap it off, like we did, after about the third time he prefaced an answer with I know I'm not the most believable guy in the world?

January 17, 2013

Purchase of the day.

Through the Althouse Amazon Associates portal: "A History of the Jews" by Paul Johnson.

Associate earnings to the Althouse blog: $0.98. Cool. Thanks.

Swartz "was deeply committed to civil disobedience and to the moral imperative of breaking unjust laws."

"On the other hand, he seems to have had his soul crushed by the prospect that he would spend time in jail. This is an unusual combination. Usually the decision to engage in civil disobedience comes along with a willingness to take the punishment that the law imposes. But despite Swartz’s apparent interest in legal questions, he seems to have made his decision with a blind spot to the penalties that would actually follow. It’s a strange situation: Swartz was really interested in the law, and he knew he was violating the law. He knew a lot of lawyers who would have told him that this would likely happen if he went ahead with his plan. But there was some apparent blind spot that led him to act anyway."

"Maybe I'm naive, but I still don't think Lance doped."

Michael Ian Black.

At the Black Dog Café...


... I have just got to break free.

"Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry."

Think hard. It doesn't really matter — does it? — that this is today's sentence from "The Great Gatsby," another dutiful posting in our Gatsby project, wherein we look at one sentence, out of context, each day. I know the context of that sentence. I know what happened in the story. You can look it up.

It's so tempting to break out of the form of the project and tell you, to go back into the paragraph, even as I want to tempt you out of the book altogether to look at this proposition that Americans are willing — occasionally! — to be serfs but won't accept the notion that they are peasants. What's the difference?!

But I've got to tell you. There was a rich man — not Gatsby — who tried to get the people in the houses around his house to accept having their roofs thatched with straw. He offered to pay their taxes for 5 years if they'd accept this imposition which would have allowed him to have a nice view of a faux-peasant village. They refused, and the rich man, we're told, "went into an immediate decline." And "His children sold his house with the black wreath still on the door." That's how Gatsby got his house. So that's the peasant idea that offends Americans.

But serfs. We are willing to be serfs.

"Throughout their existence as a separate culture, Ruthenians formed in most cases rural population, with the power held by local szlachta and boyars..."

"... often of Lithuanian, Polish or Russian descent. As in the rest of Central and Eastern Europe, the trade and commerce was mostly monopolized by Jews, who formed a significant part of the urban population."
Since the Union of Horodlo of 1413, local nobility was assimilated into the traditional clan system by means of the formal procedure of adoption by the szlacht... Initially mostly Ruthenian and Orthodox, with time most of them became polonized. This was especially true for major magnate families... whose personal fortunes and properties often surpassed those of the royal families and were huge enough to be called a state within a state. Many of them founded their own cities... with settlers from other parts of Europe. Indeed there were Scots, Germans and Dutch people inhabitating major towns of the area, as well as several Italian artists who had been "imported" to the lands of modern Belarus by the magnates.
Have you thought about Belarus, today's "History of" country?

"My Mom thought the cowl looked like a micro-mini skirt!"

It totally fits like that too. Perfect with leggings as an item of clothing I call an asswarmer.

Is this Mariah-Nicki thing going to work?

Is anyone watching?

We watched the first hour last night (with the rest saved on DVR), and, well, it seems the problem is that Nicki Manaj came to play. She's prepared. She's like the Tracy Flick of "American Idol." She's studied, and she's ready. If this reality show were "Survivor," she's be voted off immediately, because she wants it so bad. Meanwhile, Mariah Carey obviously believed she could simply swan in and be Mariah. That's enough in itself. How awful to have to be one of 2 women, when the other woman wants it so bad. It's like the wife and the mistress.

But there isn't even a husband. Unless America is the husband. But America, in "American Idol," is a whole lot of young girls. And what do they care about a wife and a mistress clawing it out? Poor Mariah! Don't tell me Keith Urban/Randy Jackson count as the husband who will step up — in this exaggerated TV sitcom — and choose the right woman, the true sweetheart, the wife, Mariah. These men are oblivious to the psychodrama. They're floating along aimlessly as if the only thing really happening is a talent show, where various young people try to sing as well as they can, and modestly knowledgeable judges give honest assessments.

Oh! My heart breaks for Mariah. But I must say, Nicki has won it all. She came to win and she crushed the competition in the first hour. Congratulations! But... is anyone watching?

"In this bill we will nullify anything the president does that smacks of legislation."

"And there are several of the executive orders that appear as if he’s writing new law. That cannot happen.... I’m afraid that President Obama may have this 'king complex' sort of developing, and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen."

ADDED: "If not good law, there was worldly wisdom in the maxim attributed to Napoleon that 'The tools belong to the man who can use them.' We may say that power to legislate for emergencies belongs in the hands of Congress, but only Congress itself can prevent power from slipping through its fingers."

"Though party officials typically dance around the unseemly issue of gerrymandering..."

"... this report is surprisingly candid and unabashed."

Get your hiking shoes on!


Quit posing!


Get out here!


"I think there's a very fascistic thing under The Little Prince, you know.... I think there's a kind of SS totalitarian sentimentality in there somewhere."

"You know, there's something, you know, that... masculine love of a certain kind of oily muscle, you know what I mean? I mean, I can't quite put my finger on it, but I can just imagine some beautiful SS man loving The Little Prince. You know, I don't know why, but there's something wrong with it. It stinks!"

A quote from "My Dinner With Andre" that ties together this morning's 3 posts:
Andrew Cuomo's "muscular brand of politics"  

Politicians, including Hitler, using children 

Hitler's resemblance to Chaplin
Is there a Chaplin/Little Prince connection?

Talk about the sentimentality of fascists.

"The toothbrush moustache (also called Hitler moustache, Charlie Chaplin moustache, 1/3 moustache, philtrum moustache, the postage stamp, or soul (mou)stache)..."

"... is a moustache, shaved at the edges, except for three to five centimeters above the centre of the lip. The sides of the moustache are vertical rather than tapered."

I found this Wikipedia article — "Toothbrush moustache" — last night after asserting that Hitler adopted the Hilter mustache to emulate Charlie Chaplin. The topic came up in connection with the array of photographs — Obama/Hitler/Stalin — that we're talking about in the previous post. Meade didn't believe me, and my belief — even if it's wrong — is at least common enough that I could easily do the research. (A couple weeks ago, the roles were reversed: Meade asserted a misconception common enough to have a Snopes article declaring it false.)

The use of children in politics — if you find it persuasive, you'd better sharpen up.

Drudge is doing propaganda here:

But it's very heavy-handed propaganda deployed to critique propaganda. You won't slip into falling for Drudge's propaganda, because it's so obvious. It's ridiculous to equate Obama to Hitler and Stalin, but Obama is using a form of propaganda that should be considered not merely ridiculous but repulsive. For us today to see Hitler and Stalin using children is to easily perceive the absurdity of promoting a political agenda juxtaposing it to a lovely, innocent child.

Who falls for that? No one should! The implicit argument the political leader makes, in all 3 of these pictures, is: I'm making the country good for the sake of the children. The child can't vouch for the policies. The child hasn't competently requested anything. The child is merely a prop representing goodness, innocence, and the future.

I've had a "using children in politics" tag for a while. I've made it part of my work here on the blog to notice this phenomenon, to help you see it, and to build widespread resistance to it. Remember the "children of the future" blaming us? The children taught to chant "Hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker has got to go"? The children delighted by the "Voter Report Card"?

Drudge links to a collection of "Tyrants Who Have Used Children as Props." It's not hard to dig up these things. All politicians pose with children.

Baby-kissing is a campaign cliché.

It's a way of saying: I'm a real person. I'm normal and empathetic.

No reason to condemn that. It's too late to reject the kind of old-fashioned political kitsch that goes in the same category as eating regional food. You know, what Bob Dylan was singing about in "I Shall Be Free":
Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote
He’s a-runnin’ for office on the ballot note
He’s out there preachin’ in front of the steeple
Tellin’ me he loves all kinds-a people
(He’s eatin’ bagels
He’s eatin’ pizza
He’s eatin’ chitlins
He’s eatin’ bullshit!)
Don't you eat the bullshit!

"Democrats hailed Mr. Cuomo's aggressive gun-control push..."

"... citing it as an example of a muscular brand of politics that the governor has made his signature in two years in office. He has bent a Legislature partially controlled by Republicans to his will on other liberal issues, such as legalizing gay marriage and solidifying higher tax rates for the wealthy."

Hail! Governor Cuomo, O muscular leader, you of the aggressive push! Yea, even as Superman to a bar of steel, you have bent a Legislature!

January 16, 2013

"The Ugly Side of the Southern Belle."

An op-ed in the NYT on the occasion of... can you even think what?

A "pedestrian who did not even own a car could be convicted of vehicular homicide in the death of her 4-year-old son..."

"After a long bus trip with her three young children in April 2010, Raquel Nelson did what other bus passengers did that day, and had done so many days before: She attempted to cross the road from the bus stop, which is directly opposite her apartment complex, rather than walk a third of a mile to a traffic light, cross five lanes and walk a third of a mile back, lugging tired children and groceries."

"Lance Armstrong will offer more than the sporting world’s most long-awaited confession..."

"He’s expected to counter the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s portrayal of him as the mastermind of what it called the most sophisticated, professional doping program in the history of sports by saying that doping was endemic to cycling...."

"A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags..."

"... twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea."

More wind, water, and light. We've gotten used to it here in this windy, watery, light-and-dark world of the Gatsby project. This sentence seems like a made up imitation of a sentence from "The Great Gatsby," but I assure you it's there.

"An orange peanut? For me? I accept you."

At the Careful Composter Café...


... be green... and orange.

A cartoon from 1233.

I'm fascinated by the school lesson material at the U.K. National Archive site. That cartoon is from one titled "A Medieval Mystery" that asks students to "decode the dark secrets of this cartoon" and offers tips on things to look for (e.g., devils) and prompts with questions like "How has the cartoonist shown that the man and the woman are Jewish?"

"By 1666 at least 12,000 white smallholders had been bought out, died," or left Barbados.

"Many of the remaining whites were increasingly poor. By 1680 there were seventeen slaves for every indentured servant. By 1700, there were 15,000 free whites and 50,000 enslaved blacks."
... The British abolished the slave trade in 1807, but not the institution itself. In 1816, slaves rose up in the largest major slave rebellion in the island's history. Twenty thousand slaves from over seventy plantations rebelled. They drove whites off the plantations, but widespread killings did not take place. This was later termed "Bussa's Rebellion" after the slave ranger, Bussa, who with his assistants hated slavery, found the treatment of slaves on Barbados to be "intolerable," and believed the political climate in the UK made the time ripe to peacefully negotiate with planters for freedom... Bussa's Rebellion failed. One hundred and twenty slaves died in combat or were immediately executed; another 144 were brought to trial and executed; remaining rebels were shipped off the island...
Slavery was abolished in 1834 in Barbados, today's "History of" country.

ADDED: Here— at the U.K. National Archives website — is a school lesson on Bussa's rebellion, with nice scannings of original documents for students to read. And here's a drawing taken from the rebels that "appears to stress the rebels' loyalty to Britain and to the Crown while conveying their earnest desire for liberty."

God always saves endavour

"Oxygen Media has pulled the plug on 'All My Babies' Mamas,' a reality special... about a musician who has fathered 11 children with 10 different mothers."

The conceived the show. They gave it life. Then they walked away.

ADDED: Rush Limbaugh riffs on the O Media decision:
It's not gonna air now because a bunch of stuffed shirts, a bunch of prisses, a bunch of morality police... objected.... So we were going to expand the definition of a family to include whatever people wanted it to be.... It was a show of love and devotion, how Shawty provides for all, and it's being ripped right out from under him. I mean, who says that this is a marginalized existence?

"I'm an atheist... Eric is in the ground, rotting."

"I know it sounds horrible to say that, but that is where he is. How is that a better place?"
"I was searching frantically for anything that would help me get through this... But everything I found had to do with God: putting your faith in God, believing that God had some sort of plan. I found nothing to help me."
Nothing to help me

"15 Frugal Billionaires Who Live Like Regular People."

Fascinating and really cool. Got us going talking about why someone would do this (other than being nutty). Highlights:

1. Warren Buffet, worth $46 billion, "still lives in the Omaha, Nebraska, home he bought for $31,500 more than 50 years ago." And Carlos Slim Helú, chairman and CEO of Telmex, worth $69 billion, has lived in the same modest house he's had for the last 30 years. Christy Walton, worth $27.9 billion raised her son in an 1896 Victorian house so he could have a normal life and, after her husband died in a plane crash, donated the house to charity.

2. Chuck Feeney, co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers Group, gave away $4 billion, leaving himself with (currently) $2 million, and he orders the second-cheapest wine on the menu. David Cheriton, worth $1.3 billion says he's "quite offended" by people who build big mansions, thinks "there's something wrong" with those people, and recently bought a Honda Odyssey.

3. Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, worth $3 billion, claims to drive a 15-year-old Volvo and always fly economy. He eats in cheap restaurants and has his house furnished with IKEA stuff.  More on him here, including a picture of his unassuming ranch-style house.
He always does his food shopping in the afternoon, when the prices in his local market start to fall....

Explaining his frugal nature, he said: "I am a bit tight with money, a sort of Swedish Scotsman. But so what?

"If I start to acquire luxurious things then this will only incite others to follow suit. It's important that leaders set an example. I look at the money I'm about to spend on myself and ask if Ikea's customers could afford it."
But Kamprad's image may be a big fake, and who knows about those other characters? The modest image helps the company's reputation, and they don't want to attract the attention of tax collectors, government regulators, and criminals (e.g., kidnappers).

"There are three things in life that people like to stare at: a flowing stream, a crackling fire..."

".... and a Zamboni clearing the ice."

Obama resorts to the "if there’s even one life that can be saved" rhetoric.

"If there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, we’ve got an obligation to try."

These are his gun control proposals, including those executive actions that don't require any of that troublesome interaction with Congress.

I loathe the absurd argument that if there is only one life to be saved then we must do something. Obviously, we do not follow that logic generally. For good reason!

IN THE COMMENTS: elkh1 said:
The mother saved three lives, hers and her twin sons' by firing five shots at an intruder.

"if there’s even one life that can be saved, we’ve got an obligation to try." We must require every citizen 18 and up to own a gun for protection. 

"I think the businesses that bring these men in should also be accountable for not providing opportunities that keep them busy outside of work."

"They should check their employees before hiring (if they don't already) and get rid of those who commit ANY kind of aggression toward women or men. Their social responsibility goes beyond the gate or the door. Maybe the answer is for the towns like Williston to heavily tax the companies so that they can afford to police the men the companies employ. If business doesn't see itself more broadly as a player in the overall health of our society, government needs to step in."

That's a reader comment at the NYT article about all the single men working out in the oil fields of North Dakota, which we've been talking about over in this earlier thread. Please go to that thread to talk about the article more generally. I'm opening up this new thread for discussion of the proposition that business should be responsible for the after-work activities of their employees, that the tendency of men to go out after work looking for female companionship calls for the heavy taxation of business, that individuals looking for sexual relationships in their own free time ought to be conceptualized as an issue of collective "health," that overall societal health requires big "players," and that if businesses don't want to see themselves as the players, they leave a gap that government must fill.

A slice of Wisconsin politics.

I framed this screenshot from the lead article at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel webpage:

Meade sent me that link and highlighted the quote: "A few dozen protesters gathered in the rotunda, and their shouts were at times barely audible inside the Assembly chamber during the address."

Wistful echoes of 2 years ago, when thousands of protesters jammed the Capitol and banged drums and chanted for weeks on end.

Meanwhile, in the sidebar over there:
Feingold calls for legislation to rid election campaigns of corruption
And I call for peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

That second sidebar link — "Man arrested at Capitol had earlier run-in with police" — refers to something that is also in the Scott Walker article: "In one surprise at the Capitol Tuesday, police arrested a 20-year-old Milwaukee man for entering the building with what he claimed were Molotov cocktails in his backpack.... So far, however, no evidence has turned up that Smith knew about Walker's speech or was targeting it specifically."

Random Molotov-cockery, not necessarily Scott-Walker-related.

A single-malt whiskey from Waco, Texas beats all the Scottish competition blind-judged by British experts.

Single-malt whiskey distilling is now a big deal in the United States... despite the impediment of "a federal law, enacted in 1938, requiring that they be at least partly aged in previously unused oak barrels."
Unfortunately, malted barley is delicate and prone to lose its flavor in new oak, which is why Scottish distillers prefer barrels that once held sherry, port or bourbon.

To compensate, American distillers often start with a more robust, flavorful mash than a typical Scotch, which can better stand up to new oak, flavor that continues to shine through after the whiskey is bottled.

They also rely on America’s higher temperatures, and bigger temperature swings, to speed the aging process. “A hot day in Scotland is 75 degrees,” said Mr. Tate, of [contest winner] Balcones. “Seventy-five degrees isn’t even a hot day in January here.”

As a result, even Balcones, despite its peat and smoky notes, is unlikely to be confused with an Islay Scotch. “A lot of what we do is riffing on old traditions in new ways,” Mr. Tate said....
That's America! Full of innovation and ingenuity... and stupid, overreaching federal regulation.

Where the unmarried guys are.

Ladies, they are not on the east coast. Here's a map to guide you, but of course, you won't go there. That's why the imbalance exists. You won't go there.

But you guys, in New York and Massachusetts (and #1, my home state, Delaware), you have rich pickings in the female-heavy disproportion, where you can continue to behave in ways that women will angst over in the pages of the New York Times, which the guys in North Dakota and Alaska and Wyoming probably don't read, but if they did, would they shed a tear for you?

Of course not. They're out in the fracking oil fields being sweaty and manly.... Oh, the sexy married life you could have together!

But the NYT would have you believe the men out there are a bunch of sexist louts.
Christina Knapp and a friend were drinking shots at a bar in a nearby town several weeks ago when a table of about five men called them over and made an offer.

They would pay the women $3,000 to strip naked and serve them beer at their house while they watched mixed martial arts fights on television. Ms. Knapp, 22, declined, but the men kept raising the offer, reaching $7,000.

“I said I make more money doing my job than degrading myself to do that,” said Ms. Knapp, a tattoo artist with dark streaks in her light brown hair, a bird tattoo on her chest and piercings above her lip and left cheekbone.
Stay in New York City, ladies. It's really low class out there in the hinterlands. It's not for you.
Many [women in North Dakota] said they felt unsafe. Several said they could not even shop at the local Walmart without men following them through the store. Girls’ night out usually becomes an exercise in fending off obnoxious, overzealous suitors who often flaunt their newfound wealth.

“So many people look at you like you’re a piece of meat,” said Megan Dye, 28, a nearly lifelong Williston resident. “It’s disgusting. It’s gross.”
All the young, highly sexed single men are out there in North Dakota, but stay away! They're disgusting. It's gross!

"[S]he noticed there were more bills, lots of bills, in the snow near the sidewalk, and she figured she had better call police...."

If you would call the police in this situation, would it be because that's the sort of honest, upright person you are or would it be because it was broad daylight and the bills weren't in a neat little bundle but spread out on the snow, in which case the activity of picking them up risks: 1. making you look suspicious (and somebody might call the cops on you), and 2. other people showing up and competing with you in the pickup (in which case, you might need police protection and you want to be the one to get your name on the found-money claim)?

Job applicant tries the old honesty-modesty routine.

And it actually seems to work ... on Wall Street, where an old-fashioned rhetorical pose is received as refreshing.

"Carpenters' union protests Madison businesses; refuses to back up claims."

"On two occasions, two people at two separate NCSRCC offices have sworn emphatically that a phone call would be returned that day or the next, but no calls ever materialized. Someone named 'Tony' from the union once left a voicemail, but then never answered a returned call."

I've seen the 3 guys holding up the sign out by Hilldale shopping center. Twice I tried to read the sign to figure out which place they had a beef with. I assumed it was the steakhouse, which was the place they were closest to, but I couldn't read the name of the place at the bottom of the sign, because the men were letting the sign droop. Now I see their target was Lululemon Athletica, a shop with some nice-looking athletic-wear. Makes me want to run over there and buy some toasty tech tights.

"I know we've got a bunch of mean guys in that locker room that won't quit and are tough and gritty."

"I'll hoop with these guys anywhere in the country. I don't care if it is on blacktop. I don't care if it's snowing. I'll play with any of these guys because they're mean and they want to win. And they know how to win."

Court: "Although her pornography career has concluded..."

"... the ongoing availability of her pornographic materials on the Internet will continue to impede her from being an effective teacher and respected colleague."

Lawyer: "We were hoping we could show you could overcome your past.... I think she’s representative of a lot of people who may have a past that may not involve anything illegal or anything that hurts anybody."

January 15, 2013

"NRA airs new TV ad criticizing Obama on eve of White House gun announcement."

CNN headline.

Here's the ad:

At the Winter Hawk Café...


... you can talk all night.

"He lit Daisy’s cigarette from a trembling match, and sat down with her on a couch far across the room..."

"... where there was no light save what the gleaming floor bounced in from the hall."

Today's sentence, in the Gatsby project, where we read one sentence from "The Great Gatsby" each day.

"The pollen piece looks like a yellow painting... but it’s much, much more."

"It’s not a yellow pigment, which is very important for me. It’s the potential beginning of millions of plants. It’s the semen for the plants. And this I was interested in. It has an appearance, maybe, like a painting, but the sun is not a round ball. It’s much, much more. The sky is not a blue painting. For me, these things were somehow very important. I would have stayed as a doctor, if art was only about this color or that color."

"We know that all kinds of bad things can happen to somebody that gets to that level of intoxication."

"It’s almost a matter of dumb luck as to which bad thing’s going to happen. You’re going to get hit by a car, you’re going to pass out and choke on your own vomit, you’re going to stumble into somebody’s house, you’re going to pass out in the bushes. These things happen in Madison, and they happen with a good deal of regularity. And this case just ended up in probably the worst possible outcome one could imagine."

"I successfully edited Wikipedia!"

Meade exclaims. It's his first time. It was over there in the page on The Gettysburg Address (which I linked to earlier today, as perhaps you noticed). His edit is in the third paragraph, which, before his edit, read:
Beginning with the now-iconic phrase "Four score and seven years ago," referring to the Declaration of Independence during the American Revolution in 1776, Lincoln examined the founding principles of the United States in the context of the Civil War, and memorialized the sacrifices of those who gave their lives at Gettysburg and extolled virtues for the listeners (and the nation) to ensure the survival of America's representative democracy, that the "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Meade took out the "the" before that last quote. Have you ever noticed that there's no "the" before "government" (even as there is a "the" before each of the 3 "people"s)?
... we here highly resolve... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Do you see what a big difference a "the" would make in that sentence? Meade had gotten into a back-and-forth over at the Isthmus forum (a site dominated by typical Madisonians, i.e., left/liberals).

"Can a film be a masterpiece and still make you want to warn people not to see it?"

"Can a movie make you think that an artist has done something extraordinary, original, extremely difficult — and yet you cannot imagine yourself uttering the words, 'You’ve got to go see [blank]'?"

"The Language Movement catalysed the assertion of Bengali national identity in Pakistan..."

"... and became a forerunner to Bengali nationalist movements, including the 6-point movement and subsequently the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In Bangladesh, 21 February is observed as Language Movement Day, a national holiday."

Bangladesh is today's "History of" country.

Here is the monument to the Language Movement martyrs:


What was so important about language?
When the state of Pakistan was formed in 1947, its two regions, East Pakistan (also called East Bengal) and West Pakistan, were split along cultural, geographical, and linguistic lines. In 1948, the Government of Pakistan ordained Urdu as the sole national language, sparking extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Pakistan. 
Would East and West Pakistan be one country today if the government hadn't been so hardcore about Urdu?

"The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man..."

"... who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."

Why are gun-death statistics inflated with gun-suicide numbers?

"I thought we had a right to die...."

Obviously, one reason is: to get bigger numbers. But I think the people that lump gun deaths together believe (or want others to believe) that guns are really dangerous. When it comes to suicide, there are 2 ways to think about the deadly effectiveness of guns: 1. For those who really want to kill themselves, guns are a sensible choice, or 2. The scary deadliness of a gun tempts weak/impulsive persons to go ahead and do something that wouldn't happen otherwise.

You can easily see that those 2 ways to think represent the mindsets that lead to libertarian or authoritarian answers to all sorts of questions. #1 would allow the individual to make his own decisions and to take care of himself, and #2 thinks the individual — call her Julia — needs to be helped and protected (even from herself).

Sorry to go all gender-y, but I'm interested in talking about suicide and attitudes about guns in the context of gender difference, because 4x as many men as women commit suicide and 56% of male suicides use firearms compared to only 30% of female suicides. Those statistics are skewed by the fact that guns are an effective method. It might be that the gender disproportion is because men choose the method that leaves fewer survivors of attempts at suicide. I note that 40% of female suicides use "poisoning" (presumably, that includes drug overdosing). What's the proportion of females attempting suicide by poisoning to females succeeding in killing themselves with poison?

If you have a fantasy of rescuing those who are in the process of committing suicide, you might think taking guns away will give you a better shot.

ADDED: It occurred to me, after the Sandy Hook murders, that blaming guns is a secular substitute for blaming the devil. People find it too challenging to figure out why a human being would do this terrible thing and they latch on to the idea that the gun made it happen. Suicide presents a similar challenge, and one way to fathom it is to say: It was the gun. Isn't it like saying the devil made him do it? The gun/the devil is a great go-to answer, freeing you from wracking your brain about the workings of the human mind.

"What sort of people were these? What were they talking about? What office did they belong to? K. was living in a free country, after all..."

"... everywhere was at peace, all laws were decent and were upheld, who was it who dared accost him in his own home?"

A Kafka quote begins Roger Kimball's op-ed "This Metamorphosis Will Require a Permit/Sandy wrecked our house, but bureaucrats are keeping it broken."

Kimball also quotes Hayek:
[T]he power which a multiple millionaire, who may be my neighbor and perhaps my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest functionnaire possesses who wields the coercive power of the state on whose discretion it depends whether and how I am to be allowed to live or to work.
And Tocqueville:
"[A] network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules"... reduces citizens "to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."
Franz Kafka, "The Trial"
F.A. Hayek, "The Road to Serfdom"
Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America"
Roger Kimball, "The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia"

"More NYU and Columbia female students or 'sugar babies' are seeking 'sugar daddies' to pay for rising school costs."

"SeekingArrangement.com says NYU was the top school for new sign ups — Columbia is the only Ivy league school to make site's Top 20."

If you'd like all the satisfaction of sending a daughter to college, without that pesky incest taboo, there is a solution for you.

"Angus was 21 years old and living in Michigan when she started noticing the effects of gigantism."

"Her svelte, 5-foot-8, 135-pound figure vanished, replaced by too-big hands and feet and tight pants. She shot up three inches, and even her head was growing."

"In all these cases, and many others, liberals take positions that make them look good and feel good..."

"... and show very little interest in the actual consequences for others, even when liberal policies are leaving havoc in their wake."

This is the tragic flaw of liberals. I have seen it so clearly living in Madison, Wisconsin all these years. I believe these are people who really do care about goodness: They want to be good. If I could get one idea through to them, it would be: Goodness requires vigilance against the pursuit of the feeling that you are good, complacency about the belief that you are good, and satisfaction with the goal of achieving your own personal goodness.

"Due to the intense interior lives that these animals have, you have to enrich their environment to stimulate them physically and psychologically...."

"The surprise was when they found that within a few days, Gina was not only using the remote control perfectly well, but that she also used to choose the porn channel for entertainment...."

"I was put off by all the breasts. The peekaboo-slit-neckline-breast-exposing dress. the breast-on-a-platter strapless dress."

Over at the WaPo slideshow of Golden Globes fashions, one commenter seems a tad breast-o-phobic.

But I'd just like to say that this approach to clothing breasts — inflicted on Jessica Chastain, chastising Chastain — is one of the worst fashion screw-ups I've ever seen. Why didn't anyone see the optical illusion and stop her from leaving the house in that thing?

Crazy NRA approach to school violence...

... is supported by 55% of Americans.

By "crazy," I mean that the elite media went all out to portray the suggestion as insane:
Here's the NYT editorial, which is entitled "The N.R.A. Crawls From Its Hidey Hole."
[W]e were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant.

Mr. LaPierre looked wild-eyed at times....

We cannot imagine trying to turn the principals and teachers who care for our children every day into an armed mob....
I wonder what the support for LaPierre's proposal would be if he'd been given a respectful hearing in the press?

"There are notes and notes, of course: notes to oneself and notes to others; notes taken, made, jotted, and passed."

"Mash, doctor's, suicide, and condolence notes. Field, class, and case notes; notes for general circulation; foot and head notes, notes of hand. But it's the bookish notes that academics care most about, the ones that intervene between the things we read and the things we write."

Geoffrey Nunberg has notes from his notes as a note-taker at a conference on notes.

For [Walter Benjamin], the rise of note-taking signaled the book's reduction into a purely transitional object, "an obsolete mediation between two different filing systems." Everything that matters, he said, could be found in the card boxes of the researcher who wrote it, which the scholar studying it had merely to incorporate in his own card index.
Ha ha. Brilliant. And archaic. Card boxes.

"The way I think she’d put it is that, when bad things happen, women brood — they’re cerebral, which can feed into the depression."

"Men are more inclined to act, to do something, plan, beat someone up, play basketball."

A colleague summarizes the work of Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, who died this month, at the age of 53. Many more women than men are diagnosed as depressed, and depression was associated with "rumination, the natural instinct to dwell on the sources of problems rather than their possible solutions."

She wrote that many women "are flooded with worries, thoughts and emotions that swirl out of control, sucking our emotions and energy down, down, down. We are suffering from an epidemic of overthinking.”

You might guess that someone who studied depression and died at age 53 succumbed to suicide, but that was not the case. She had a congenital heart problem and died after surgery.

Belgian doctors give suicide injections to 45-year-twins who were going blind.

Marc and Eddy Verbessem, who were deaf, decided they didn't want to live anymore, and the doctors fulfilled their death wish.
Euthanasia is legal under Belgian law if those making the decision can make their wishes clear and are suffering unbearable pain, according to a doctor's judgement....

Mr Dufour, the doctor who presided over the euthanasia, told RTL television news that the twins had taken the decision in 'full conscience.' He said they were 'very happy' and it had was a 'relief' to see the end of their suffering.

'They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and a rich conversation,' Mr Dufour said. 'Then the separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful. At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone.'
This is a shocking story. We're told the men were "terrified" of being institutionalized once they went blind. But they hadn't gone blind yet, and they hadn't attempted to learn how to live independently while blind and deaf. Why not at least wait until they actually became blind? Why advance-euthanize? And what kind of a society facilitates death for the disabled while scaring them with the loss of their freedom? When are the blind institutionalized?

Where was the "unbearable pain"? There was no physical pain, only mental anguish, accepted as pain. And the anguish seems to have been premised on a fear of institutionalization. Why were they threatened by that? If their fear was reasonable, something is wrong with the treatment of the disabled in Belgium. If their fear was unreasonable, their decision should not have been enough even in a system that authorizes physician assisted suicide.

IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo (who is a doctor) offers a passage from Robert Jay Lifton's book "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing And The Psychology Of Genocide."

January 14, 2013

Somehow the Google mind has arrived at a more appropriate portrait for me...

... when you search for my name.

For the longest time they had a photo I'd done with an exaggerated expression pretending to have time traveled into the future. It was for a post making fun of the idea that the time stamp on a digital photograph proves when the photo was taken. (I reset the camera's date far into the future.) I'd link to that old post, but I'm afraid of boosting it somehow in the mysterious mind of Google which operates who knows how. I like the new photograph (which is actually kind of old, maybe from 2004 or 2005).

I also like the info about who else people who search for me are also searching for. Is it odd for me to be in that set? I guess not!

Happy 9th...

... my super brilliant and trusting wife, and thanks for authorizing me to co-blog if only to push the Amazon Associates program. It's fun to see what anonymous readers shop for — from the mundane of toilet paper to the extravagance of high-end cameras, computers, and power tools. And it's very satisfying to track the earnings as a percentage of sales and view it as people's indirect and abiding appreciation of the blog.

When I started reading your blog in 2004, comments were not part of the experience. That was okay — I would occasionally send you a comment in a short email — from just… a guy… in Ohio… who reads and enjoys your blog and wants to encourage you to keep it up. I had dropped many of my subscriptions to newspapers and magazines because I'd begun to get everything I wanted off the internet.

So instead, I'd occasionally send you $10 through PayPal.  As encouragement.  And appreciation. I appreciated the quirky, ribald, and sometimes complex humor, the freewheeling way you would select topics and themes, your artist's eye, and your frequently unique perspectives on issues and insights into events.

Your bloggy writing style continually invites readers into your fascinating mind to join you in the process which you dive into with such self-confidence, grace, honesty, care, and verve — every day —constant as the loyalty of a good Labrador Retriever. It's infectious.

No Amazon link/push/shill/pimp tonight.

Congratulations to you and your readers on 9 great years. Here's to the next 9!

You rescue a Labrador Retriever, you name it Reagan, you campaign for governor...

... you win, and now, where is he?
"He was a rescue dog," [Gov. Rick] Scott said, "and he couldn't be around anybody that was carrying anything, and so he wouldn't get better."

Scott said Reagan never bit anyone but "scared the living daylights" out of people at the mansion. He said one kitchen employee threatened to quit and photographer Eric Tournay was frightened when the dog "barked like crazy" every time he saw him with a camera.

Sotomayor, the college years.

One slide in a long, narrated slideshow at NPR.com. I picked that one out because it's so different from the others and from every other photo I've ever seen of Sotomayor. NPR did the article to go with Justice Sotomayor's new autobiography, "My Beloved World."

"There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind, and as we drove away Tom was feeling the hot whips of panic."

There are different minds and different confusions, and perhaps each is unlike every other. That possibility is not excluded by the assertion that "There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind." All we know is that we are looking at the specific confusion that is the confusion of a simple mind, the unavoidable inference that Tom has a simple mind, and that the manifestation of this specific form of confusion feels like hot whips of panic.

This is our Gatsby sentence today. Do you identify with Tom? Do you panic when confused? Do you experience panic as hot whips? I think it's more likely that you don't identify with Tom. He's driving away from whatever is confusing him. (How about figuring things out, loser?) He's too simple to do anything but run and panic. And he's flogged absurdly by his own flaring inability to deal with anything at all challenging.

Yes, drive away, Tom, you pathetic little man.

"Must you always be out in that ghastly clown suit, running around annoying people?"

Says Pretty Alice to the Harlequin in Harlan Ellison's "Repent Harlequin!' Said The Ticktockman," which I read on the urging of commenter Icepick because of the way it reflected on the recent news stories about Aaron Swartz, David Gregory, and the Boston ban on drinking games.

I downloaded this Orson Scott Card collection — "Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century" — which included "Repent Harlequin," because I wanted to understand this harlequin/ticktockman distinction, and lo and behold here's the harlequin — actually, what do you expect? he's a harlequin — wearing a clown suit, when just 5 days ago, the bloggism of the day was clown suits. We were pimping clown suits.

It's weird how these themes seem to coagulate on their own.

"If he could smile and play and feel then despite his disabilities he deserved to enjoy whatever life he had left, no matter how short."

"Just because his life would be shorter or different, didn’t mean he didn’t deserve to experience it. As long as he was pain free I vowed to let him enjoy his life both while inside me and outside, no matter how long that be."

"The White House’s recent announcement they will use executive orders and executive actions to infringe on our constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms..."

"... is an unconstitutional and unconscionable attack on the very founding principles of this republic."
"I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment."

"The Arab navigator, Ahmad Bin Majid, visited Bahrain in 1489..."

"... and gave a contemporary account of the country that the first Portuguese would have seen:"
"In Awal (Bahrain) there are 360 villages and fresh water can be found in a number of places. A most wonderful al-Qasasir, where a man can dive into the salt sea with a skin and can fill it with fresh water while he is submerged in the salt water. Around Bahrain are pearl fisheries and a number of islands all of which have pearl fisheries and connected with this trade are 1,000 ships."
Today's "History of" country is Bahrain. 

"Now the South is becoming isolated again."

"Every demographic and political trend that helped to reëlect Barack Obama runs counter to the region’s self-definition.... The Solid South speaks less and less for America and more and more for itself alone."

Writes some guy from a region where they use umlauts.

After 7 years of not speaking during oral argument, Clarence Thomas spoke...

... and whatever he said was drowned out by the laughter of those in the room. 

Apparently, it was some kind of joke about what a Yale law degree connotes. We know how he feels about his law degree. Here's what I wrote back in 2007 when he gave an interview to "60 Minutes":
"I was never a liberal. I was radical," he says, talking about how difficult it was for him to go to work for a Republican after he graduated from Yale Law School. His Yale Law degree was worth almost nothing, he says. Though he graduated in the middle of his class, he couldn't get a job, and he was enraged to see that the degree meant one thing for whites and another for blacks. Everyone assumed he got into Yale because he was black, and not because he had grown up in severe hardship, and yet had always done well in every environment -- from all black to all white.
ADDED: According to the NYT, Thomas leaned over to the microphone and uttered a remark that the stenographer captured as "Well – he did not —." Laughter is noted. The topic at the time was the definition of constitutionally adequate counsel, and Justice Scalia had just noted that one lawyer had gone to Yale Law School and another to Harvard. Supposedly, according to some people who were in the courtroom, Thomas said something that meant that a law degree from Yale could be proof of incompetence.
[Thomas has] complained about the difficulty of getting a word in edgewise on an exceptionally voluble bench. The garbled transcript offers some support for that final rationale.
Indeed. On the other hand, the intense interest we're all showing now might encourage him. Say anything at all and it will be big news.