February 23, 2013

At the 9 Putts Café...

... sometimes everything falls into place.

Now that we're talking about the 1927 silent film "King of Kings," we must take note of Ayn Rand.

We were talking about "King of Kings," because we were talking about what Jesus wrote in the sand, because various blogs were talking about an Islamist Facebook page with a cartoon showing how to carry out a stoning. I started to wonder whether the first commenter who mentioned "King of Kings" was talking about the 1927 Cecil B. DeMille picture or the 1961 Nicholas Ray flick. So I'm over here on the King of Kings (1927 film) page at Wikipedia, and I see:
Sally Rand, before becoming notorious for her "fan dance" at the 1933 World's Fair, was an extra in the film.

Ayn Rand (no relation to Sally Rand) also was an extra in the film, and met her future husband Frank O'Connor on set.
I couldn't find a YouTube clip of Ayn Rand in "King of Kings," but I did find Sally Rand and her notorious World's Fair fan dance:

I also found this 2009 New Yorker article about Ayn Rand that covers the "King of Kings" phase:
Rand... left the U.S.S.R. for America.... Her vision of the U.S. had already been shaped by obsessive moviegoing.... Even before leaving the Soviet Union, she had published a pamphlet on the silent-film actress Pola Negri, and like a movie star herself she now refashioned “Rosenbaum” into her own new name. Heller and Burns both knock down the myth that a Remington-Rand typewriter inspired the rechristening.

There is a greater factual basis to the legend of Rand’s having met Cecil B. DeMille before she worked as an extra on his production of “The King of Kings” (1927). On the set, Rand persuaded a costume director to promote her from a crowd of beggars to a crowd of patricians, and DeMille had his story chief look at her film scenarios, which were soon judged over the top. Rand achieved steadier success working in the R.K.O. wardrobe department, and then had a writerly breakthrough with a courtroom murder drama called “Night of January 16th.” Thanks to a gimmick that allowed each night’s audience to serve as the jury and thereby choose the ending, the play made it to Broadway, where Rand railed against the producers’ subordination of its incidental messages about the beauty of unbridled individualism.

Settling in New York with her husband, Frank O’Connor (another “King of Kings” extra), Rand set seriously to work on the first of her two major novels, “The Fountainhead.”....
How do you feel about all those connections? The Soviet Union, the love of movies, immigration to the land of movies, name-changing, finding the love of your life on a movie set in Hollywood, strippers performing what is only the illusion of nakedness, and... Jesus.

"I feel like I just won the Academy Award. If an artist can offend so many people that he has to go to prison..."

"... to protect society, that's really saying something. Most shock artists dream of this kind of attention, without the prison part."

Ira Isaacs, sentenced last month by a federal judge — this is in the United States— for 4 years, for violating obscenity law. The Huffington Post — considered a liberal website, and, again, this is in the United States — began its article about the sentencing with a joke: "Looks like someone's career went down the toilet." (The movies included the simulated consumption of feces.)

There is no shame anymore. And yet there still are obscenity trials. Absurd.

I'm finding this story now because I happened across an account to the trial in an article published last March at Reason.com: "Porn So Icky That It Can't Be Obscene" (by Jacob Sullum), describing the argument made at trial, which describes the argument made by Isaacs's lawyer:
"My intent is to be a shock artist in the movies I made," [Isaacs] testified, "to challenge the viewer in thinking about art differently... to think about things they'd never thought about before." Similarly, [his lawyer Roger] Diamond argued that the films have political value as a protest against the government's arbitrary limits on expression, illustrating the "reality that we may not have the total freedom the rest of the world thinks we have."
Sullum wrote:
I will be impressed if Isaacs, who faces a possible penalty of 20 years in prison, can pull off this feat of legal jujitsu, transforming the very qualities that make his movies objectionable into their redeeming value — especially since at least some of the jurors... found the evidence against him literally unwatchable. But if the jurors want to blame someone for making them sit through this assault on their sensibilities, they should not blame Isaacs. They should blame the Justice Department, which initiated the case during the Bush administration, and the Supreme Court, which established the absurdly subjective test they are now supposed to apply. Will they take seriously Isaacs' references to Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Kiki Smith, and Piero Manzoni, or will they dismiss his artistic name dropping as a desperate attempt to give his masturbation aids a high-minded purpose?
But here's some up-to-date news from 2 days ago: Minutes before Isaacs was to turn himself in to the  federal Bureau of Prisons, Isaacs go a call from his lawyer saying "don't go." The judge had approved his motion for bail pending appeal.
Isaacs told XBIZ that today's events were so surreal he had felt like he was in an episode of the "Twilight Zone" or a Quentin Tarantino movie....
"Last night, I was thinking it would be my last night of freedom," he said. "I really thought that this would be it; that I would be sleeping in prison the following night... and that would continue for a very long time."
We'll see what happens in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and — if we're lucky — the Supreme Court.

Dead baby mice to be dropped, one by one, by hand, from U.S. military helicopters in Guam.

"U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior."
To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the [brown tree] snakes live and feed.
So, they spent more than a decade... doing what? Designing parachutes for dead mice? (Paging Senator Paul.)

"In the military they have $5.2 million they spent on goldfish — studying goldfish to see how democratic they were..."

"... and if we could learn about democracy from goldfish. I would give the president the authority to go ahead and cut all $5 million in goldfish studies."

Said Rand Paul, and Princeton professor Iain Couzin protests.

It's not goldfish, it's golden shiner fish. And: "Our work aims to understand the principles of collective control in animal groups and what this can inform us about collective robotics. It has nothing at all to do with human politics."
"If you think about it, schools of fish have been on the planet for much longer than we have and they’ve evolved to find solutions to problems. They can sense the environments in ways that we simply didn’t know how to do that.... From ant colonies to schooling fish, it’s not that complicated but the feats they can achieve are extraordinary. The collective of a whole can solve problems in ways individuals cannot."
I'm glad he mentioned the ants, because if there is one tag that I love to get the opportunity to use on a blog post, it's "insect politics." The tag is based on the 1986 movie "The Fly," in which a scientific experiment — which I doubt Rand Paul would vote to fund — merged a scientist with a fly. Toward the bitter end, the fly/scientist — played by Jeff Goldblum — started raving about insect politics:
Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but... I'm afraid, uh...
But now, apparently, the human politicians are funding not just insect politics but fish politics (and robots!). I'd love to see a movie called "The Fish," in which Jeff Goldblum does a science experiment that turns him into a crazy, raving Goldblum/Goldfish* and rants about fish politics.

Or... oh, wait!... was that already a movie with Don Knotts? "The Incredible Mr. Limpet"! Knotts is a little man who tries to enlist in the Navy in 1941. Rejected, he wanders down a pier, falls into the water, and turns into a fish. As a fish, he's able to join the Navy, and he helps locate and torpedo Nazi submarines. How do you like that, you doubter of science, Senator Paul?

Ah, but Mr. Limpet was a heroic individual superfish, and Professor Couzin is interested in fish because of the way they act in the collective. Typical left-wing elite university ideology. The value of studying fish is that they've evolved past individualism. They give us a way to look at how the collective of a whole can solve problems in ways individuals cannot. But this has nothing at all to do with human politics. This is about collective robotics. Nothing to worry about here. The collective. Robots. Nothing to do with humans.

*Yes, I know. It's not goldfish, it's golden shiner fish. That makes me think of a movie too.

Purchase of the day.

From the February 22, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

"If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans" [Hardcover] Ann Coulter (Author) (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $0.00)

Honorable mention:

Educational Products - SET Zimbabawe 10, 50, 100 Trillions Collection / Hyperinflation Money - (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $0.96)

... and 52 other items purchased through the Althouse Amazon portal.

Althouse portal users: brainy, frugal, value-smart.

Thank you all who read this blog.

The Obama administration's brief in the Supreme Court's DOMA case.

Lyle Denniston summarizes the briefs filed yesterday in United States v.Windsor — the case attacking the federal law that excludes same-sex couples, married under state law, from being treated as married for the purposes of federal benefits and tax laws.
The brief continued the efforts by the administration, begun two years ago tomorrow, to persuade the courts to adopt a rigorous test when they judged laws that discriminated against gays and lesbians.  Instead of the much more tolerant “rational basis” test, the government has been pressing for what is called “heightened scrutiny.”  And Friday’s brief defended that approach energetically.

Speaking of being called to a higher law and speaking of speaking....

In the previous post, we're talking about what Jesus wrote in the sand and what he said out loud, in the New Testament story where the scribes and Pharisees present Jesus with the question of what to do with a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. In the Gospel text, we're told Jesus that wrote on the ground, but not what he wrote, and we're told that he subsequently spoke and said "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

I'm putting up a separate post because I found the scene that sydney said he loved in the movie "The King of Kings." Made in 1927, it's a silent movie, so no one is saying anything out loud. We see what Jesus says written out on the intertitles, and we also see what he writes in the sand.

Beautiful filmmaking, particularly as the sand-words, not written in Roman letters, transform into our English words, naming the sins that the men in the crowd realize they've committed, and that's why they all turn and walk away.

That's not an accurate depiction of what happens in the biblical text though. The movie shows a mob on the verge of stoning the woman and Jesus intervenes and announces his rule about casting the first stone. Only thereafter, does he write the names of the sins in the sand. But in the Bible story, there is no angry mob with stones in hand. There are scribes and Pharisees demanding that Jesus deliver a legal opinion. Jesus bends down and writes on the ground instead of answering the question.  Only after they persist does he stand up and pronounce his new rule, which causes the scribes and Pharisees to walk away — "beginning with the older ones." The movie would have you see the members of the mob acknowledging their sins and their consequent lack of qualification to cast the first stone. But the text has intellectuals trying to box Jesus in on a question of law, and Jesus getting the better of a conversation he didn't want to have in the first place.

It's not surprising that a movie plays up the visible drama, and it's also not surprising that when I — a law professor — read the text, I see something akin to a law school class. The professors try to stump the student and the student transcends their tricky game. To me, the part where Jesus bends over and writes in the sand is like what happens in a law school class when the lawprof poses a difficult hypothetical and the students bend their heads down and go through motions of writing. They don't want to answer. It's not that they're writing something magically revelatory and startling. But if the lawprof keeps pushing and calls on someone, an answer will be spoken out loud.

I guess the law-professorly interpretation of the text isn't terribly cinematic. It's no wonder the movies present an angry mob with stones in hand and Jesus miraculously knowing and changing the hearts of the sinners. (And the adulteress is an actress evincing exactly the form of sexiness that was fashionable in the year the movie was made. I love the eyeliner!)

But to me the lawprof interpretation is thrilling and dramatic. The professors think they've got the upper hand. They know the legal text and it's tough. And then the brilliant student who will soon be the greatest professor of all gets on top of the dialogue and says something they must accept as correct: If you're going to have strict rules and severe mechanisms of enforcement, you must apply them equally to everyone. This is the structural safeguard of equal protection of the laws that is the necessary component of a democratic system. If there can't be exceptions and special treatment for preferred people, legislatures will resist imposing harsh rules and painful punishments.

In this context, let me give you my favorite Justice Scalia quote, which happens to include one of the key words of Christianity: "Our salvation is the Equal Protection Clause, which requires the democratic majority to accept for themselves and their loved ones what they impose on you and me."

What did Jesus write in the sand? (Or: things I should have learned in church that I figured out from the Althouse comments.)

Yesterday, when many blogs were talking about the Islamist Facebook page with a cartoon showing how to stone a person who had committed adultery, I added the New Testament story, from John 8, in which Jesus said: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." Jesus had just been teaching some people, and the scribes and the Pharisees, looking for a way to trip him up — they wanted to bring charges against him — present Jesus with a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery and remind him that the Law of Moses commanded that she should be stoned. "So what do you say?" Instead of answering, Jesus bends over and writes in the dirt. They keep pushing for an answer, and it's only then that he says: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

I didn't include the next few sentences, but the story was very familiar. After Jesus makes his brilliant remark — which finds a new way into the question — the crowd disperses and Jesus tells the woman to "go and... sin no more."

Some of the commenters focused on what it was that Jesus wrote on the ground. I'd always assumed that what Jesus was writing was irrelevant and that he was simply gesturing I'm not going to talk to you. He invoked his right to remain silent, as we say in the United States of America. He knew whatever he said would be used against him. Later, when he arrives at the New Testament doctrine — the higher law — he speaks up and articulates it pithily. He doesn't write it. Jesus isn't the put-it-in-writing type. The scribes are the bad guys here, and he's about talking to the people. The Word is spoken. (It's only written down later.)

But, reading the comments, I see interest in the subject of what Jesus wrote.

February 22, 2013

At the Circus Bear Café...

(Via Drawn.)

... it's not as if you can get back to nature.

"A woman reported receiving several texts with sexual content from an unknown person. She sent the person a text asking him to stop..."

"... but the person did not immediately stop, only ceasing later in the day. It was determined that the suspect was a friend of the woman’s friend. The suspect reported he thought he was texting his friend and agreed not to continue texting the woman."

That happened, in Montana. Also: "A man was caught urinating in a First Avenue East parking lot."

"A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: 'There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.'"

That's today's sentence from "The Great Gatsby," here in what we call the "Gatsby" project, where we look at a single sentence out of context and say whatever we want about. Let it beat in your ears for a while until you reach a sort of heady excitement, which is to say, you've got to work yourself into a bit of a mental frenzy wherein it seems really important to arrive at the conviction that there are exactly 4 kinds of people in the world: the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.

Animals are jerks.

I've had that tag for a long time. Glad to see Buzzfeed has caught up.

"In 1511, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar set out from Hispaniola to form the first Spanish settlement in Cuba..."

"... with orders from Spain to conquer the island. The settlement was at Baracoa, but the new settlers were to be greeted with stiff resistance from the local Taíno population. The Taínos were initially organized by cacique (chieftain) Hatuey, who had himself relocated from Hispaniola to escape the brutalities of Spanish rule on that island. After a prolonged guerrilla campaign, Hatuey and successive chieftains were captured and burnt alive, and within three years the Spanish had gained control of the island. In 1514, a settlement was founded in what was to become Havana."

In Cuba, today's "History of" country.


A documentary about Vito Russo, which you can pre-order or watch — as I just did — on HBO (on Demand). Very nicely done, though much of it is about Russo's wonderful movie "Celluloid Closet," which has been around for more than a decade.

"See Cartoon Instructions For How To Stone Adulterers."

"An Islamist Facebook page uploaded a cartoon explaining how to stone adulterers on Wednesday that is getting a decent reaction on the Web so far, garnering over 120 'likes' and 500 Facebook shares as well as 500 comments."



"The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?' This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.'"

Purchases of the day.

From the February 21, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

LEGO DUPLO My First Zoo 6136 (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $1.52)

TSL Take the High Road Snowshoes (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $10.58)

(2 pairs) Atlas Snowshoes Girls' Echo Snowshoes (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $8.96)

Mini 17 Snowshoe - Girls' by Atlas Snowshoe (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $3.36)

... and 66 other items purchased — at no additional cost to the buyers — through the Althouse Amazon portal.

Thank you all for supporting this blog.

"59% Think Most School Textbooks Put Political Correctness Ahead of Accuracy."

A Rassmussen poll.
It’s important to note that the question did not define the phrase "politically correct." The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated,” and it has come to be understood by many as prohibiting critical comments about politically sensitive topics and groups....

Conservative voters are nearly twice as likely as liberals to think most textbooks put more emphasis on political correctness than on accuracy. Military veterans are more skeptical of those textbooks than those who have not been in uniform....
Of course, everyone actually wants a certain type or amount of political correctness in schoolbooks. They just tend to think of the term "political correctness" when they picture their political opponents  inserting ideology that they think doesn't belong. Conservatives want the Founding Fathers to be presented in a favorable light, and they may want to soft-pedal the downside of industrialization and to stress individualism, optimism, and opportunity.

Anybody putting together a schoolbook has to think about inspiring children and building ideals and character. I'm saying that even though I lean strongly in the direction of straightforward, factual information, and I think that it's a serious moral wrong to use compulsory education to indoctrinate children.

"A shoeshine man has given a Pittsburgh children’s hospital a total of more than $200,000 in tips he’s collected over the last 30 years."

"Albert Lexie says he’s been shining shoes for $5 at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh since the early 1980s. He says most customers tip him $1 and some give him an extra $2."

"After we had a little time to process the shock and horror, we felt we couldn’t have written a more perfect script..."

"My sister said the only thing he didn’t do was fall into the casket."
The 94-year-old World War II veteran’s impromptu wake was held Saturday at the same eastern New York funeral home where his wife Gwen’s funeral was already scheduled. She was 89 when she died on Feb. 8. After Norman died just steps from the funeral home, the daughters decided their parents would be mourned together at the same time....

[The daughter] requested that her father’s body be put into a casket and placed in the viewing room with her mother’s cremated remains, which had been placed in an urn. Mourners who started arriving soon after for Gwen’s funeral were greeted by a note Merrilyne posted at the entrance: “Surprise — It’s a double header — Gwen and Norman Hendrickson — Feb. 16, 2013.”
Norman and Gwen Hendrickson had been married for 66 years.

Florida Man.

The world's worst superhero.

"When it came to loving..."

"He knew which Daisy to pick!"

More here.

"Manski with a Planski."

3 possible scenarios.

"A South African magistrate granted bail Friday to double amputee Olympian Oscar Pistorius..."

"... who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder in the death of Steenkamp."

CNN breaking news email.


If you were him now, wouldn't you attempt to flee?

ADDED: Think he's too recognizable because of his lack of feet? What about the 1-armed man on "The Fugitive"? He escaped notice for years.

Cheetos — "one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure."

Steven Witherly, author of "Why Humans Like Junk Food," "ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. 'It’s called vanishing caloric density... If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it . . . you can just keep eating it forever.'"

From a very long NYT Magazine article titled "The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food."

"Ron Johnson, Tammy Baldwin: No pair of senators are further apart."

"Johnson, a Republican, ranks to the right of roughly 95% of his Senate colleagues in two well-established nonpartisan rating systems.... Baldwin, a Democrat, ranked to the left of the vast majority of her House colleagues in the same rating systems before she arrived in the Senate last month."

From Wisconsin.    

To use the old travel-guide cliché: a land of contrasts

Report links Pope's resignation "to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom... were being blackmailed by outsiders."

The Guardian reports:
[The Italian newspaper] La Repubblica said the cardinals' report identified a series of meeting places in and around Rome. They included a villa outside the Italian capital, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlour in the centre, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop....

The Vatican does not condemn homosexuals. But it teaches that gay sex is "intrinsically disordered". Pope Benedict has barred sexually active gay men from studying for the priesthood.

Brilliant animation, beginning with the story of a boy getting the nickname "Pork Chop."

This is very fast-moving and will be especially cool if you don't know where it's going:

(Details about the video here.)

"We made an industry out of cigarettes, we made an industry out of alcohol and now we're creating an industry out of marijuana – frankly, it's surreal sometimes."

Says Mary Beth Susman, a member of Colorado's Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, which is about to report on a plan to regulate marijuana in Colorado (which is part of the United States, which criminalizes the production, sale, and possession of marijuana).
On one hand, the task force has considered new rules for what Colorado should do when it inevitably becomes a center of "pot tourism," it has debated whether smokers can use their backyard patios to light up, and it has considered how to deal with "marijuana clubs" that will appear....

How it converts a massive black market into what experts call "problematic adult commerce" on the fringes of society – akin to gambling, drinking, and go-go clubs – all amid lingering legal concerns, could provide a framework for other states to follow....

"The babies who nap in sub-zero temperatures."

"Nowadays most day-care centres in Sweden put children outside to rest. It's common to see rows of prams lined up in the snow at nap-time, with youngsters fast asleep inside."
"When the temperature drops to -15C (5F) we always cover the prams with blankets," says head teacher Brittmarie Carlzon.
Oh! Sub-zero centigrade. It's not that cold!
"Babies clearly slept longer outdoors than indoors," says Marjo Tourula. While indoor naps lasted between one and two hours, outdoor naps lasted from 1.5 to three hours.

"Probably the restriction of movements by clothing could increase the length of sleep, and a cold environment makes swaddling possible without overheating," she says.

World's cutest frog.

The desert rain frog.

February 21, 2013

Purchases of the days.

From the February 19 and 20, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

(13 copies) "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" [Kindle Edition] Susan Cain (Author) (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $11.06)

(11 copies) "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" [Kindle Edition] Susan Cain (Author) (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $10.19)

... and 164 other items purchased — at no additional cost to the buyers — all of which convey the quiet, contemplative, good-listener message to the blogger that... shhh... shhh... shhh...

Thank you.

Jane Austen stamps.

"So, placing the candle with great caution on a chair, she seized the key with a very tremulous hand and tried to turn it; but it resisted her utmost strength. Alarmed, but not discouraged, she tried it another way; a bolt flew, and she believed herself successful; but how strangely mysterious! The door was still immovable. She paused a moment in breathless wonder. The wind roared down the chimney, the rain beat in torrents against the windows, and everything seemed to speak the awfulness of her situation."

See the rest of the new stamps here.

"President Barack Obama expressed gratitude last week to former President Jimmy Carter's grandson..."

"... who had a role in leaking secretly-recorded video of Mitt Romney's infamous '47%' comments, James Carter said Thursday on CNN."

"It was sharply different from the West, where an evening was hurried from phase to phase toward its close..."

"... in a continually disappointed anticipation or else in sheer nervous dread of the moment itself."

And by "West," F. Scott Fitzgerald meant the Midwest. He meant Wisconsin, and I'm here in Wisconsin, hammering out the latest post in the "Gatsby" project (wherein we isolate and chew over one sentence from "The Great Gatsby" every day... more or less). And I'm feeling hurried and disappointed and sheer nervous dread. Should I be here, in this post, or off onto the next post, or am I already sorry about that one, but — yeesh — this thing right here is so... horrible?

"After many complaints, a Whole Foods store in New York City took down a sign..."

"... featuring an artist's depiction of President Obama selling whole organic chicken."
The drawing did not depict Obama actually eating chicken or holding any in his hand, but it did depict an open-mouthed Obama with a comic strip-style word-bubble telling customers the price per pound of the product.

"Croatian romantic nationalism emerged in mid-19th century to counteract the apparent Germanization and Magyarization of Croatia."

"The Illyrian movement attracted a number of influential figures from 1830s on, and produced some important advances in the Croatian language and culture. In the Revolutions of 1848 Croatia, driven by fear of Magyar nationalism, supported the Habsburg court against Hungarian revolutionary forces."

In Croatia, today's "History of" country (wherein we read the Wikipedia "history" pages of the world's 206 countries.)

"Since suicidal behavior often has an impulsive component, those who are more determined..."

"... can be saved if the method is made more difficult. This can be aided by reduced access to guns."

"Manski fired back, casting Mertz as a 'blogger and a critic,' not a leader."

Sarah Manski, who is following her husband as he pursues a PhD in sociology in California. Following. Not leading.

So we learn today, after a primary on Tuesday, in which Manski, along with Mertz, advanced over one other candidate for the school board here in Madison. She was so committed. Until she wasn't.

"What If You Couldn't Just Say 'Cheese'?"

Oh! These photographic subjects have facial nerve problems. I thought they were completely normal people who resisted the manipulations of a professional portrait photographer.

"A teenage snowboarder hangs from the side of a chairlift. He tries to swing his dangling feet atop the seat, to no avail."

"His grip starts slipping after about six minutes. Then his hand finally slides. Other riders watch the teen plummet some 50 feet past pine trees onto the snowy terrain."

"Let’s make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on the path to a good job."

"Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges."

New ad includes Laura Bush, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney expressing support for same-sex marriage.

Laura Bush didn't approve of the use of this video clip (which comes from a 2010 interview with Larry King) and she's voiced her objection to it:

Who knows what she secretly thinks, but officially, she's saying you shouldn't have used me without asking. Of course, the group that made the ad — the Respect for Marriage Coalition — has the right to appropriate this clip and use it in their political message. Imagine how hard it would be to make political ads if you couldn't use clips like this. I suspect that secretly she's happy to influence opinion this way — especially as she's able to hold herself at some distance from politics. She clearly likes to seem modest and completely unpushy, as you can see in the longer clip from the Larry King show:

What a terrible shame that the Republican Party didn't accommodate itself to this idea at least 10 years ago. Really, it's a shame they didn't buy in even earlier, 18 years ago, when Andrew Sullivan's "Virtually Normal" came out. At the time, the left-liberals I knew were antagonistic to the institution of marriage and viewed Sullivan's contribution as an unwelcome conservative intrusion on the gay rights movement, which they saw as belonging within a left-wing ideology that transcended traditional institutions. Back in the 90s, I sat through serious, lawyerly presentations aimed at stopping the marriage equality proponents from changing the focus of the movement. There was a wonderful opportunity then for conservatives to embrace the issue, and they missed it.

The Republican Party saw the advantage elsewhere, and now they're stuck with the result.

UPDATE: The Respect for Marriage Coalition withdraws the ad.

"Visually similar images..."

To my profile picture, according to Google.

Scott Walker proposes expanding the school voucher program beyond Milwaukee and Racine...

... to 9 new districts, including — gasp! — Madison.

Here's what Walker said last night in his budget speech:
For communities where some schools fail to meet expectations, we include an expansion of the parental choice program in this budget. Since wealthy families have a choice because they can pay to send their children to a private school, we give low income and middle class families an opportunity to also choose a viable alternative for their sons and daughters.

Interestingly, some communities have both high-performing schools, as well as some that fail to meet expectations. Green Bay is a good example. Keller Elementary in Green Bay is a school where more than 70 percent of students are economically disadvantaged, yet Keller Elementary exceeds expectations. In this budget, schools like this will be eligible for a performance reward. At the same time, in that same district, there are other schools that fail to meet expectations. Other districts like Madison, Beloit, Sheboygan, and West Allis/West Milwaukee have similar situations.
People in Madison like to think we have fabulous public schools, so it's rough seeing Madison grouped with those other places. And of course, people in Madison tend to loathe Governor Walker. Obviously, the liberal viewpoint is that if there's a problem with the public schools, more money should be given to those public schools, not diverted into private schools. Here's the discussion in the forum over at the Isthmus, where liberal Madisonians tend to talk amongst themselves (and where Meade injects a bit of the kind of diversity they don't celebrate). I love the way the separation-of-church-and-state topic is playing out. First:
Does it bother you that taxpayer money will be spent for sectarian religious instruction?
Someone else:
If my kid went to a school with overcrowded classrooms and wasn't getting the attention he or she needed for whatever reason, I wouldn't hesitate sending him to a Catholic school if I could for free. Would you? Would you put up with a crappy classroom just because you didn't want your kid to take a half-hour of Bible study each day? I don't know many parents who would in a similar situation....
A third person (boldface added):
I don't think anybody's really upset about vouchers to send kids to Catholic schools. The Catholic schools can't take many more kids, but they are run by local parishes and nuns with good intentions and without a profit motive. It's not foremost a constitutional issue but a quality one. We're upset about a bunch of profit-motive business types setting up private schools to make money for themselves by providing services that work poorly and exploit public funding the same way the University of Phoenix does with adult students. Why anybody thinks replacing so-called overpaid teachers with overpaid executives is an improvement beats me. And that's exactly what we'll get if we don't guard against it at every turn.
The lefties really hate business! Meade provides the comic pushback. Quoting "bunch of profit-motive business types":
But enough about the teachers' unions. School choice is coming to Madison. Choice is good.

"Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play/And I hope you can make my Bar Mitzvah day..."

(Via Metafilter, where the post just went up, so you can't tell yet whether people are going to trash this kid or love him.)

"Boys have historically been trained to think that they needn’t obey rules or work hard because..."

"... men used to be able to drop out of high school and still earn wages comparable to better-educated women, thanks to jobs in fields like manufacturing, construction and travel. That’s not the case anymore."

Time for everyone to recognize the great gift of the women's movement:  Everyone needs to buckle down, work hard, and follow rules. 

No wonder they had to drop the word "liberation" from "women's liberation movement." Who could have imagined, circa 1970, that what we'd end up with was grim drudgery for all?

Except the guys won't play along, will they? Consider the strategies. An obvious one is to scale down, never marry, never have children, and live a circumscribed life with a not-too-challenging job, and enjoy however much sex you want via online dating services. Meanwhile, the women can work for their entire lives as hard as they worked in school, just keep going and going, shoehorn in a couple children, work harder and harder to pay for everything they need, including childcare. Work work work.


If I were a young woman, I'd be tempted into exactly what I was tempted into when I was a young woman: a life that values beauty, love, and freedom over work. I'm thinking of the hippie movement and — a book I read in the 1970s — "Your Money Or Your Life" (which I see is "Revised and Updated for the 21st Century" — not sure what that means).

100 million page views.

A milestone approaches.

"I'm surprised. It is a miracle in a sense that I am 80, I am proud about it."

"Not everybody gets there."

How will you feel when you are 80, if you are ever 80? Or have you already hit that surprising point of pride?

"The Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution has been a disaster..."

What have we learned from this experiment — that can never work at all or that the Dutch did it wrong? 
The Dutch government hoped to play the role of the honourable pimp, taking its share in the proceeds of prostitution through taxation. But only 5 per cent of the women registered for tax, because no one wants to be known as a whore — however legal it may be. Illegality has simply taken a new form, with an increase in trafficking, unlicensed brothels and pimping; with policing completely out of the picture, it was easier to break the laws that remained. To pimp out women from non-EU countries, desperate for a new life, remains illegal. But it’s never been easier.

Legalisation has imposed brothels on areas all over Holland, whether they want them or not. Even if a city or town opposes establishing a brothel, it must allow at least one — not doing so is contrary to the basic federal right to work. To many Dutch, legality and decency have been irreconcilably divorced. It has been a social, legal and economic failure — and the madness, finally, is coming to an end.

The brothel boom is over. A third of Amsterdam’s bordellos have been closed due to the involvement of organised criminals and drug dealers and the increase in trafficking of women. Police now acknowledge that the red-light district has mutated into a global hub for human trafficking and money laundering. The streets have been infiltrated by grooming gangs seeking out young, vulnerable girls and marketing them to men as virgins who will do whatever they are told. Many of those involved in Amsterdam’s regular tourist trade — the museums and canals — fear that their visitors are vanishing along with the city’s reputation.
That reminds me: How's the marijuana legalization experiment going? Because that's the Dutch experiment that's catching on in the U.S. It's appealing to think that if we legalize something, we can regulate it and tax it, and the bad people will withdraw and cede the commerce to upstanding entrepreneurs who will abide by the regulations and pay their taxes punctiliously.

I got to that article via David Frum, who quotes Friedrich Hayek: "To say we cannot turn back the clock is to say that human beings cannot learn from experience."


... Fish.

Graphic murders... and the graphics they inspire.

The Pistorius case doesn't seem the least bit complicated, but check out the complexity of the graphics the newspapers act like we need to comprehend the miserable scene:

AND: Another article — with another graphic — has the headline: "Image shows dark side of Oscar Pistorius, who keeps a pistol within arm's reach of bed and applied for an arsenal of gun licenses only weeks before the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp." The graphic is a photograph that labels these items: TV remote, AC remote, designer watch, set of keys, handgun. That's a dark side?! Seems to me it's a pretty normal set of items. The message is: Be hysterical on the topic of guns, because somebody is a murderer. How about the detail of the bloody cricket bat? Seems like he was killing her with or without a gun, so this is a particularly gratuitous effort provoking irrationality about guns.

"Republican senator John McCain is still raising questions and hackles."

Hackles again! Can't get enough hackles in the big media... when the topic is Republicans.

A few days ago, the NYT lit into Ted Cruz: "Texas Senator Goes on Attack and Raises Bipartisan Hackles." And now, it's John McCain who's ruffling the feathers of big media, whose meme is The GOP died. So, whenever a Republican Senator is anything by docile and deferential, the Death-of-the-GOP meme must be swapped out long enough to discipline the outlier. The standard message is: Nobody likes you. Metaphor of choice: Hackles. You're raising hackles.

Here's my meme for that media discipline: When they say hackles, I say hacks.

February 20, 2013

At the Dreaming Dog Café...

... sigh.

"I remember the fur coats of the girls returning from Miss This-or-That’s..."

"... and the chatter of frozen breath and the hands waving overhead as we caught sight of old acquaintances, and the matchings of invitations: 'Are you going to the Ordways'? the Herseys'? the Schultzes'?' and the long green tickets clasped tight in our gloved hands."

That other sentence — "At the hookah bar, Jordan and Emily Wernet, a 25-year-old freelance illustrator of comics and tattoos, joked about the grotesqueness of a hand appearing inside a belly and about 'parasites,' 'popping one out,' and 'horrible little grubs' in the midst of more serious conversation about their fears of relinquishing sole ownership of one’s own body" —  made some readers feel that there was a "Gatsby" sentence gestating somewhere inside the womb of my Blogger account, so I thought I'd better pop out this post. I hope you don't find it grotesque, this string of words that F. Scott Fitzgerald, in full possession of the autonomy of authorship, determined to be, in fact, a sentence, worthy of a place in the pages of "The Great Gatsby."

And I hope it's not horrible that I ripped it out of his context and put it in my context as I, clasping tightly to my bloggerly autonomy, decided that this — this! — is a blog post. It is not for the professors, journalists, and literary critics to resolve the difficult question of when some quotes from this-or-that tossed together with some connective prose amount to a blog post. It's enough to say there's a divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question, and therefore it's up to me to decide what is worthy of publication here. My blog, my choice.

What's Billy Corgan doing these days?

"At the hookah bar, Jordan and Emily Wernet, a 25-year-old freelance illustrator of comics and tattoos, joked about the grotesqueness..."

"... of a hand appearing inside a belly and about 'parasites,' 'popping one out,' and 'horrible little grubs' in the midst of more serious conversation about their fears of relinquishing sole ownership of one’s own body."

That's quite a sentence. I present it for your analysis, both formal and substantive. Free free to click here and take in the full context, which is quite interesting (and recently pointed at by Instapundit).

I wonder if Emily has designed tattoos for women's bellies that depict the illusion of seeing through to a distended womb with something grotesque inside.

"Ethan was developmentally disabled, not a criminal."

"He was entranced by police and police departments and liked communicating with them to the extent that, if there was ever a complaint, it was that he’d call so they could come to the house so he could talk to them."

"The Silicon Valley aristocrats Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner have jointly established the most lucrative annual prize in the history of science..."

"... to reward research into curing diseases and extending human life. The newly created Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation on Wednesday announces the first 11 winners of an award intended to inject excitement into the sometimes lonely, underfunded quests to understand and combat cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and other maladies. Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook; Brin, who co-founded Google; and Milner, a venture capitalist, have dipped into their fortunes to sponsor awards worth $3m each, compared with a Nobel prize's monetary value of $1.1m."
"I had to sit down on the floor for a while. I thought it must be a practical joke or a Nigerian scam," said Cornelia Bargmann, 51, who has pioneered work on neural circuits and behaviour at the Rockefeller University. "The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences." Asked how she would spend the money she hesitated. "It's so far outside my normal planning I don't know. Get the car fixed?"...
Titia de Lange, 57, who researches cell biology, genetics and cancer at Rockefeller university, said the award felt surreal. "I'm not used to having a lot of money. I don't really have possessions." Two women from a list of 11 fairly reflected the percentage of women working at that level, she said. "One would like it to be higher of course."
Young women! Enter the sciences. Silicon Valley aristocrats are dying to give you $3 million. The gender balance must be achieved. No sooner is this wonderful, generous prize announced than the criticism rolls in, gently at first, but you know there is a problem. The aristocrats want the honor of handing out honor and they must comply with the ethical structure of the Silicon Valley culture where they reign. There must be women recipients. 11 prizes? 6 should go to women!

So, ladies, get on it. There's big money here! And yet, women are apparently not so motivated by money. Oh, I don't know, get the car fixed. Gotta sit down on the floor. I don't really have possessions....

So funny. It's men who are offering big money as an incentive. But what if monetary incentives are a male thing, working mostly on men? And yet you have to include the women, equally, because even if women don't care so much about actually getting the money, they care immensely about equality and fairness. And everyone's watching. The symbolism counts, not just the effect of motivating improvements in life for the rest of us. What do you want more — cures for diseases or the appearance of gender equity?

Warren Lee Hill was sentenced to death for bludgeoning Joseph Handspike with a nail-studded board.

Handspike, Hill's fellow inmate, had been sleeping and other prisoners begged Hill to stop. Hill "was already serving a life sentence for murder in the 1986 slaying of his girlfriend, Myra Wright, who had been shot 11 times."

The Handspike murder took place in 1990, 23 years ago, and just as Hill was being prepped for the lethal injection, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay, so that it may be determined, after all these years, whether Hill is — as his lawyer put it — "a person with mental retardation."
Hill has received support from various activists and from former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn.

"Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity," President Carter said in a statement....

Georgia passed a law in 1988 prohibiting the execution of mentally disabled death row inmates, and the U.S.Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of mentally disabled offenders is unconstitutional....

Before trial, Hill's family members described him as "the leader of the family" and "a father figure," the state notes. He was not in special education classes and served in the Navy, where he received promotions, the state said.

Feed the bears.

"Among Derocher's scenarios is using helicopters to airdrop food on polar bears as their icy habitat continues to melt — at a cost of $32,000 per day for the 'most accessible' bears."

"The Department of Health determined there was no biohazard threat with a body being inside the water tank."

The body of a woman last seen on January 31st at the Cecil Hotel was discovered yesterday in the hotel's rooftop water tank. Guests were complaining about low water pressure.

How is there "no biohazard threat"? Can anyone explain the science of the health department's assurance?

"What happened in our closed sessions is confidential... I’m not in a position to go back and replow that ground."

So said Madison School Board member Ed Hughes about what happened just before one of 2 finalists for superintendent withdrew.

There were 5 other semifinalists, and there was supposed to be a community forum between the 2 finalists, but Walter Milton Jr. dropped out after this closed session that Hughes doesn't want to talk about.

So we were deprived of the community forum, and the position was given to Chicago Public Schools administrator Jennifer Cheatham, who was at that point, the only finalist.

Now, Milton is expressing himself saying he "was told this wasn’t going to go well" and he ought to withdraw, which he did.

Why did Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife risk everything to buy such stupid stuff?

Spending $750,000 in campaign money on... what?! In with the Rolex watch and the furs, there's all this memorabilia: Michael Jackson memorabilia, Bruce Lee memorabilia, Martin Luther King Jr. memorabilia, Malcolm X memorabilia, Jimi Hendrix memorabilia, a football signed by American presidents. So embarrassing.

WaPo columnist  Michelle Singletary says:
Ironically, Jackson and his father in 1999 co-authored a book on personal finance, “It’s About the Money!: How You Can Get Out of Debt, Build Wealth, and Achieve Your Financial Dreams.” The Jacksons wrote: “Many of our churches breed material needs, as do many of our public schools, with peer pressure to buy expensive clothing.”

I was critical of the portions of the book in which the Jacksons found it necessary to chide blacks for what they characterize as shameless spending....

At least the Jacksons are showing remorse....

Before you pass judgment on the Jacksons, think about the mess you might have made of your finances or the financial follies of people you know. It might not be a crime to get what you want (not what you need), but acting as if you are rich without being able to afford it can ruin your life.
Hmm. Using debt to buy stuff is hugely different from diverting money that isn't yours to spend that way. But I guess we can look at Jackson's list of items and use it as an occasion to reflect on the idiotic crap we've felt tempted to buy. Get some distance. What if the newspapers published a list of the 100 stupidest things you've thrown your money away on over the course of a lifetime?

Look around. If you could snap your fingers and cause any item in your house to transform into the cash you spent on it (or even only half of what you spent), what percentage of your possessions would be left? The items suddenly turn into piles of dollar bills. Better gather them up quickly. How much have you got there? Now, bills disappear to eradicate your debts. What do you have left now in your hands and in your house? How do you feel?

And by the way, Singletary said she chided the Jesse Jacksons, Sr. and Jr., for chiding black people for spending too much money on stuff, but then she turned around and chided her readers for spending too much money on stuff. Isn't that a contradiction? Or is it a problem to speak specifically to black people? The Jacksons shouldn't write a book talking specifically to black people? What are the rules here?

February 19, 2013

"Yep. [The press corps] 'neared rebellion' not over OLC memos or drone strikes or FOIA tardiness or leak prosecutions..."

"... but over their inability to ask Obama questions — tough ones! penetrating ones!—before and after he hit the links. Sheesh."

"Photo of breast cancer survivor's tattooed chest is shared by thousands after Facebook's attempts to ban it."

The nudity rules don't bend for cancer or for art. What can you really expect? But, anyway, I'm no fan of tattoos but I love this adaptation to mastectomy.

Roggensack advances....

... along with Marquette lawprof Ed Fallone in today's primary. Wisconsin Supreme Court... in case you've been following things. There were 3 candidates and the top 2 advance. Roggensack was way out in front, so she's expected to win reelection in the April 2 election.

We almost forgot it was primary day, but we went back out into the icy darkness to perform our civic duty.

Meade amused me with his contribution to the Isthmus forum thread "Did you vote yet?"
Not yet. Where do I go? Who should I vote for? What time do the polls close? How long does it take? Do I have to show a photo ID? Or can I just show them my birth certificate? Do they take credit cards? Thanks in advance.

"The Supreme Court reentered the controversial field of campaign finance Tuesday, agreeing to consider a Republican challenge..."

"... to decades-old limits on the total amount a person can contribute to candidates, political parties and political action committees."

"Côte d'Ivoire officially became a French colony on March 10, 1893."

"French colonial policy incorporated concepts of assimilation and association. Assimilation presupposed the inherent superiority of French culture over all others, so that in practice the assimilation policy in the colonies meant extension of the French language, institutions, laws, and customs.... Under [the policy of association], the Africans in Ivory Coast were allowed to preserve their own customs insofar as they were compatible with French interests. An indigenous elite trained in French administrative practice formed an intermediary group between the French and the Africans.... As subjects of France they had no political rights. Moreover, they were drafted for work in mines, on plantations, as porters, and on public projects as part of their tax responsibility."

In Côte d'Ivoire – Ivory Coast — today's country in the "History of" project, wherein we read the Wikipedia "History of" page for each of the world's 206 countries, in alphabetical order. Next up? Here's a clue:

"I want to hear about the least plausible constitutional arguments that have ever been made."

Writes Orin Kerr. He's looking for the "weirdest, strangest constitutional arguments," saying "I’m sure most of them will be arguments that trial courts readily rejected, or even never bothered to analyze it on the merits."

I'd be more interested in the weirdest, strangest constitutional arguments that courts have accepted. It's harder to see them as weird when the authorities endorse them, and our whole concept of what is weird is affected by what we see respected figures accept. "I suspect that many of these claims will be made by pro se plaintiffs such as prisoners or tax protestors," says Kerr. Kooks will be kooks. Why assemble the ravings of madmen... unless the madmen are sitting on the courts?

Cass Sunstein reviews "Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism."

That's a book by Sarah Conly, published by Cambridge University Press. 206 pages, $95. $95! Fortunately, we cannot be coerced to buy that. I will exercise my autonomy and refrain from buying it. I'll just read Sunstein, for free, here.
[A] significant strand in American culture appears to endorse the central argument of John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty....
the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or mental, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right.
Sunstein refers to social science research that shows people actually aren't very good at making decisions for themselves. We have "present bias" (and don't pay enough attention to the future), we're bad at assessing probability, and we're "unrealistically optimistic."
Until now, we have lacked a serious philosophical discussion of whether and how recent behavioral findings undermine Mill’s harm principle and thus open the way toward paternalism. Sarah Conly’s illuminating book Against Autonomy provides such a discussion....

To Mill’s claim that individuals are uniquely well situated to know what is best for them, Conly objects that Mill failed to make a critical distinction between means and ends. True, people may know what their ends are, but sometimes they go wrong when they choose how to get them....

If the benefits justify the costs, she is willing to eliminate freedom of choice, not to prevent people from obtaining their own goals but to ensure that they do so....

A natural objection is that autonomy is an end in itself and not merely a means. On this view, people should be entitled to choose as they like, even if they end up choosing poorly. In a free society, people must be allowed to make their own mistakes, and to the extent possible learn from them, rather than facing correction and punishment from bureaucratic meddlers. Conly responds that when government makes (some) decisions for us, we gain not only in personal welfare but also in autonomy, if only because our time is freed up to deal with what most concerns us....
 As for Sunstein himself, he prefers a softer form of government manipulation, described in the article and in his book "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness."

"When my wife and I met in college, the attraction was immediate, and we quickly became inseparable."

"We had a number of things in common, we came from the same large metropolitan area, and we both wanted to return there after school, so everything was very natural between us. We married soon after graduation, moved back closer to our families, and had three children by the time we were 30. We were both born to lesbians, she to a couple, and me to a single woman."

You see where this is going? Blah blah blah... "I can't help but think 'This is my sister' every time I look at her now...."

Purchases of the day.

From the February 18, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Moist Wipes - 294 ct. (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $1.51)

(2) GE 12983-6 25 Watt Globe G25 Light Bulb, Crystal Clear, 6-Pack (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $3.12)

ch ching:

Leonard Bernstein - Young People's Concerts / New York Philharmonic (1961) Bernstein (Actor), New York Philharmonic (Actor) | Rated: NR | Format: DVD (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $26.84)

aden + anais Cozy 4-Layer Sleeping Bag-Star Light (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $3.60)

Hamilton Beach Stovetop Slow Cooker - Black/silver (6 Quart) (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $4.21)

Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $7.99)

... and 80 other items purchased — at no additional cost to the buyers — all of which convey the unmistakably soft cozy slow dreamy flushably warm harmonic message: Blog on, Wisconsin blogger. Blog on.

Thank you.

"There are some short transitory passages between the various sexual episodes..."

"... but, for the most part, they only set the scene and identify the participants for the next orgy, or make smutty reference and comparison to past episodes."

An amusing sentence from Justice Clark's dissenting opinion in the 1966 case Memoirs v. Massachusetts, attempting to explain what is in the text of "Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure," because he is "obliged to portray the book's contents, which causes me embarrassment." He avoids actual quotations from the book because it would "debase" the set of volumes that contain U.S. Supreme Court opinions. I was also amused by: "The pubic hair is often used for a background to the most vivid and precise descriptions of the response, condition, size, shape. and color of the sexual organs before, during and after orgasms."

Emma Watson has a problem with English guys and American guys.

"English guys are very well put together.... They dress really well and they are very well mannered. But they are also very restrained. Usually in the whole courting situation, I‘m used to being first of all, ignored for the first two months of the ritual. And then maybe they'll acknowledge my presence."

American guys are "like, 'I like you. You're great. Let's go on a date. Let's do it.' I'm like, 'I'm sorry, what just happened?' This is like a huge culture shock for me. They're very like open and very straight-forward—but they wear flip-flops and I don't know if I like that."

And I'm like, wow, poor Emma Watson. 

"I loved the D.C. Circuit... and I could've stayed there. But I think I got maneuvered into this job. And then I had a really bad interview."

Said Clarence Thomas in this wonderful hour-long conversation with Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. The Harvard law students give him a standing ovation as he arrives in the room, and he jokes "I should quit while I'm ahead."

In fact, he goes on to be warm, interesting, deep, smart, and there's just way too much good stuff in here for me to quote everything that jumps out, because, really, everything jumps out. If you skip over the long introduction and get to the first question, he talks about growing up among illiterate but good and loving people and then discovering reading at a segregated library in Savannah. The librarians introduced him to Dr. Seuss.

Minow and Thomas talk about their mutual love for a book about introversion called "Quiet," and Thomas characterizes himself as very introverted. He talks about working in all 3 branches of government and greatly preferring the judiciary because in the EEOC and in the legislature, though he loved the people, it was too political. "I don't understand politics.... It made my head hurt.... It was like new math."

ADDED: He says Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan are delightful. When Kagan arrived, he said to her: "You know, it's going to be a joy disagreeing with you for years to come."

AND: At oral arguments, Justice Breyer doodles stick figures. The 2 of them sit together at oral argument and share jokes and laugh. "You know, he's very smart, but he's sort of a moving around smart," he says, making a gesture as if he were moving Breyer's little stick figures around. "And I tend to be someone, I lock into something, I want to think it through for a long time, and he likes to move around, and I sort of rein him in. Every so often, what I'll is I'll say, 'What about this, Steve?' and he'll pop up and ask and a question." So that's how Clarence Thomas asks questions at oral argument. Thomas laughs because it's "just something I'm throwing out," and Breyer makes it into a question.

"Columbia professor strips down to underwear in bizarre lesson to help baffled students learn quantum mechanics."

"'In order to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start over again,' Prof. Emlyn Hughes said. Against a backdrop of 9/11 and Holocaust images, he remained in a fetal position as two people dressed as ninjas blindfolded stuffed animals."
"Um, nothing you’ve learned in your life up til now is in any way going to help prepare you for this.... I’ve been tasked with the impossible challenge of teaching you quantum mechanics in one hour."

The incredible Pistorius story.

Incredible in the literal sense — not credible:
Mr. Pistorius said he and Ms. Steenkamp had gone to bed early on Wednesday night, but in the middle of the night he heard a noise from the bathroom and went to investigate on his stumps, not his artificial legs.

He was nervous, he said, because the bathroom window did not have burglar bars and contractors who had been working there had left ladders behind. The room was dark, he said, and he did not realize that Ms. Steenkamp was not in bed. He felt vulnerable and fearful without his prosthetics and opened fire at the door, he said, calling to Ms. Steenkamp to telephone the police.

Only then did he realize that she was not in bed, he said. He put on his artificial legs and tried to kick down the door before breaking it open with a cricket bat to discover Ms. Steenkamp.

He carried her downstairs, he said, and “she died in my arms.”
Even the fact that he carried her downstairs makes the story unbelievable. She was shot in the head and still alive. You don't pick someone up and move her around in that circumstance if you want her to live.

February 18, 2013

"Let’s have universal protests about the stupidity of school instead of universal pre-K."

"Let’s enable lower-income kids to have the benefit of being told their time is too precious to sit in school all day."

"I don’t endorse the argument of the philosopher John Rawls that no one is entitled to a high income because..."

"... even characteristics that we think internal rather than external to a person, like IQ and leadership skills and athletic skills and energy and good health, are ultimately the product of luck. Therefore, Rawls argued, no one should be allowed to keep more of his earnings than necessary to 'incentivize' him to exert himself in a way that will maximize the social product."

So says Richard Posner. His objection is:
That treats people like the cells of an animal’s body, or the ants in an ant heap. Rather my point is that, to the extent reducing income inequality increases overall social welfare, there is a case for programs, financed by the well to do, that increase overall welfare by more than the cost of the programs. There is no reason to think that the cost would impose a crushing burden on the well to do, a result that would be objectionable quite apart from the costs in diminished incentives, and related costs such as tax avoidance and emigration.
Chew on that. I was distracted by "ant heap." Who says "ant heap" rather than "ant hill"?  I'm more the literary type than the economic. But speaking of departmentalization of each of us having our various skills and predilections, whether inborn or cultivated, my searching for the answer to my heap/hill question brought me quickly to this Robert Frost poem, "Departmental":

"When people think of Roy [Lichtenstein], they think of those cartoon images from the early ‘60s."

"But he had another close to 40 years after that working on other imagery," Said the late artist's second wife Dorothy, adding that Roy "was not a fan of comics and cartoons" which "seemed about as far away from the artistic image as you can get." It's because of the disconnect from art that he found it appealing to "transform" comics "into a formal painting."

You appropriate the stuff, and you disparage it. Is that right? It's an old debate about Lichtenstein, but there's a big new show at a museum, so you might want to talk about it.

What was the later work like? One thing he did was take an officially high art work like Van Gogh's bedroom at Arles and redo it:

He liked cranking something through his art-machine. Van Gogh/comics/whatever. Why trash the comics artists? It just seems peevish. Discourteous. Now, Roy's dead and the widow is speaking for him. Something icky about all that.

Watching the State of the Union with Scott Walker who "offers a Mystery Science Theater-style running commentary."

It's Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard, eating roast beef sandwiches and deviled eggs in the finished basement of the Wisconsin Governor's Mansion.
Obama: “Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America.” (Walker: “To pay your bills on time means you don’t spend more than you have.”)
Much more at the link.

"Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest..."

"... and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight."

Yesterday, I told you I'd heard myself mutter "ah, there's a great gatsby sentence," and I'd wondered if I'd said "a 'Great Gatsby' sentence" or "a great 'Gatsby' sentence." I told you it was a doozy... a daisy. And now, it's today, and that's the sentence. Isn't it quite something?

A spooky gray, ghastly, ash-gray, swarming, leaden, impenetrable, obscure thing happens. We see... that we can't see it. It's invisible, out of sight, obscure,  screened, clouded, and impenetrable. So much about unseen sights and the one — only one — sound, a ghastly creak. What's going on? It's an operation, done with shovels. An obscure operation.

Occasionally an Obscure Operation. You can use that for the title of your next novel.

"Ironically, for Maker’s Mark drinkers, the best outcome they can hope for..."

"... is that the bad press that surrounded the short-lived reduction in alcohol content will lead to a slump in demand for the product...."

Can you see why? Explanation at the link for why Beam, Inc. could not deal with increased demand by simply raising the price.

"The community feels that this art was given to us, for free, and it's now been taken away to be sold for huge profit. I'm very angry about the Banksy going - we want our Banksy back!"

"The street art was stencilled onto the side of a Poundland shop in Wood Green in 2012 but disappeared last week." The chunk of wall has now been removed and is up for auction where it's expected to sell for over half a million dollars.
Poundland say they are not behind the removal of the artwork, which was behind a protective perspex screen when it was taken. A spokesman said: 'We're not responsible for either selling or removing the Banksy mural. We're currently investigating.'

A Met Police spokesman said the removal has not been reported as a crime.
There's a legal and a moral issue here. I assume that it was a crime to put the art on the wall and that whoever owns the wall owns the graffiti and can sell it. If these works are worth so much money and it was my wall, I'd want to have it removed before somebody stole it or damaged it. You'd think other graffiti artists would be tempted to paint over it.

But if removing these things is frowned upon by the very people who love it and imbue it with value, then it's not worth so much. I could picture the artist seeing this kind of wrangling over the commerce and preservation to be part of the artwork and part of the publicity game around the artwork. No one item is of real value to him. It's about giving things away, and the artwork itself depicts a child engaged in slave labor. It's all about the art. The people's emotional attachment to it and their despair as they lose it are all part of the art.

Or so I presume. Sorry, I haven't really been following the Banksy thing. It's the sort of thing I would normally be interested in, but somehow I've averted my eyes from this character. Here's his Wikipedia page if you need to catch up on him or correct me on my mispresumptions.

"The city’s going after families who have pigs as companions."

"Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s daughter has a pig in Gracie Mansion and no one mentions it’s illegal."

The powerful think the rules don't apply to them. But that's not an argument in favor of pigs in the city. No pigs in the city!

"While Victor became a familiar face around town, jogging or walking the couple’s pet Labradors..."

"... Sharon became a cybergeek, staring day and night into the blue glow of her computer screen."

Purchases of the day.

From the February 17, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

Snyders Old Fashioned Pretzel Sticks 3 pounds 7 ounces (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $1.00)

(3) Jones Oboe Reed Medium (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $2.82)

ch ching:

Black & Decker SPCM1936 19-Inch 36-Volt Cordless Electric Self-Propelled Lawn Mower With Removable Battery (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $33.67)

... and 57 other items purchased — at no additional cost to the buyers — giving the blogger that warm, sweet, softly piercing, lush, straight untwisted feeling of being appreciated by some of the greatest blog readers of her generation.

Thank you.

"We have a machine with a robot fist that will be programmed to deliver a punch in the chest that inflicts exactly that amount of pain."

A hypo for the clueless.

New York's "rape is rape" bill.

The New York penal code only uses the word "rape" for forced vaginal penetration. Crimes involving anal and oral penetration are punished just as severely, but the statutory name for the crime is "sexual assault."  There's a current effort in the NY legislature to extend the term "rape" to all 3 forms of forced penetration. This effort arose out of a case involving a victim named Lydia Cuomo (who is not related to the NY governor, Andrew Cuomo).
Lydia Cuomo... said the difference in terminology can lead to a rape victim’s attacker being convicted of a crime other than rape — as happened in her case last year. She said such an outcome makes it harder for the victim to heal.
The word "rape" conveys more emotional meaning than "sexual assault," which is the supposedly modern terminology found in the Model Penal Code. It's like changing from "murder" to "homicide." But whether you prefer the old words that convey our culture's deep moral condemnation or the new bureaucratic style that organizes everything into a big catalog, pick one approach and stick to it. It's terrible to say to a woman who was raped 3 ways — as Cuomo was — that only the vaginal penetration is — for official purposes — called "rape." In Cuomo's case, the jury failed to convict on the rape charge but convicted on the sexual assault charges, conveyed the unintended but outrageous message that she was not raped.

Now that the problem is plainly exposed, you'd think the fix is simple:
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Queens) submitted the “rape is rape” bill...

Hours after Lydia Cuomo and Simotas held a press conference last week, a co-sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Catharine Young (R-Cattaraugus County), withdrew her support and filed an alternative measure. Young’s bill is backed by prosecutors across the state, who fear the change Lydia Cuomo is seeking could make it both harder to convict rapists and more difficult for judges to apply sentences consecutively, thereby maximizing prison time.
Young’s alternative would no longer require that penetration of any sort be proven for a rape conviction. Prosecutors instead would have to meet a less onerous standard of vaginal contact, which is the same threshold used for criminal sexual act.
The suddenly obvious need for one thing creates the momentum to try to get other things. The will to legislate is unleashed and the prosecutor's wish list pops out.

The answer to Freud's famous question "What does woman want?"

Give women what they ask for and when the demands end, the answer will be known.

ADDED: And then there's the less famous question: Why does this post have no link? If you really need a link for Freud's having said "What does woman want?" (or the alternate translations, "What do women want?"/"What does a woman want?"), feel free to Google it and get millions of search results. If you want a link for the statement, "Give women what they ask for and when the demands end, the answer will be known," that would be a link to this very post. It's my aphorism. If you want a link to what made me think about this, that's not how things work around here, where the conversation goes on and on, which is one of the many things women want. 

February 17, 2013

"President Obama on Sunday displayed the freedom that comes with not having another election ahead of him..."

"... golfing with Tiger Woods in an enclave of privilege here along Florida’s blustery Atlantic coast."

"[T]his is a president who is not afraid to use his power. He is not afraid to issue executive orders when he sees fit."

"I find it stunning, truly, that this president and the Democratic party continues to lay all the blame for their failure to achieve anything at the feet of the tea party or Ted Cruz or whoever the latest villain is. The truth is, this man is the President of the United States. He could get immigration reform, as one example, tomorrow. If he would step forward and say, 'I applaud and salute the gang of eight's proposal. Let's move forward and go beyond that...'"

Carly Fiorina was sharp and pithy on "Meet the Press" today.  

She was interrupted by Chris Matthews, who yammered a lot and was the opposite of sharp and pithy.

Also on the show, Fiorina's California rival Gavin Newsom, who was so noticeably dumber than she that I felt sorry for him, or I would have felt sorry for him if he didn't hold any power and didn't have the advantage of being a handsome bastard. He kept using inane food metaphors. Not just the old, oft-misused cliché "the proof's in the pudding," but also one I'd never heard and never want to hear again, "You wanna move the mouse, you gotta move the cheese," which he immediately rephrased as "We've got to change incentives in this country for good behavior, and not the kinda behavior we're seeing." He's calling the people mice? He wants to manipulate us with cheese? Is this related to that book "Who Moved My Cheese?" Or is this another Thomas Friedmanism? I see that back in 2011, Friedman was on NPR, pushing a book, and saying:
"Move the cheese; move the mouse. Don't move the cheese; mouse doesn't move... So right now, all the incentives of these two parties are to behave in really bad ways for the country. The only way to change that is to show them the [voter] — the cheese — is over here."

"A woman in a Third Avenue West apartment was reported trying to catch bugs that weren’t there...."

Time to get back to the old Inter Lake police blotter news:
An Appleway Drive boy reported his mother was drunk and trying to kick him out. She told officers she was kicking him out due to his drinking and drug activity....

An officer assisted a man crawling in the middle of East First Street....

The Columbia Falls Police Department received a report from a confused First Avenue West North resident who said a man tried to come into the house and give the resident a $1,000 ticket, but didn’t say what kind. The resident told the man “I’m not interested” and shut the door.