March 9, 2013

The lawyers who denounced Bush's claim of presidential war power were "uneasy" when it was their task to define Obama's war power.

Back in 2008, David Barron and Martin Lederman had published — in the Harvard Law Review — a "definitive denunciation" of President Bush's approach to war powers. Now, they were writing a secret memo in support of Obama's power:
It preliminarily concluded, based on the evidence available at the time, that [Anwar al-]Awlaki was a lawful target because he was participating in the war with Al Qaeda and also because he was a specific threat to the country....

But as months passed, Mr. Barron and Mr. Lederman grew uneasy. They told colleagues there were issues they had not adequately addressed, particularly after reading a legal blog that focused on a statute that bars Americans from killing other Americans overseas....

Their labors played out against the backdrop of how some of their predecessors under President George W. Bush had become defined by their once-secret memos....

Nearly three years later, a version of the legal analysis portions would become public in the “white paper”... Divorced from its original context... the free-floating reasoning would lead to widespread confusion....
Karma's a bitch!

"I love you, and I don’t love anyone... No, I don’t. I’m gonna kill all of us."

This carjacking story is the definition of harrowing.

At the Narrow Path Café...



... come back!

"One day, Meeno woke up in the middle of the night and asked me to kiss his forehead."

"His expression became tender after I did so, and he went back to sleep again. After repeating this gesture for almost half and hour, he suddenly began to purr loudly...."

#16 in a 20-photo slide show.

"The episode is a tragic reminder that even responsible gun owners can find themselves at the mercy of an unhinged gunman..."

The episode, it seems to me, is a nontragic reminder that even responsible gun owners may not get mercy from gunmen who become unhinged when you have sex with their wives.

Lesson: Be a responsible penis owner too. 

ADDED: This post is reacting to the way Think Progress goes for the anti-gun interpretation. I don't know exactly why the husband murdered the man he found with his wife. The two were not in flagrante.

"The chimney – a simple, skinny copper pipe – was installed by firefighters Saturday morning."

"It runs up the wall and out one of the chapel’s windows. The tiny smokestack on the roof is visible to tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square."

So now, not only are tourists who want to tromp through the White House thwarted, they can't get into the Sistine Chapel either.

"Thief steals woman's phone — then posts picture of himself smoking weed to HER Facebook page."

"The thief didn't know that her cell phone was linked to her Facebook account and set to automatically post pics."

"All well stated Professor, but your initial instincts are also correct."

Said William, in the comments to my post about closing the White House to tourists.

My response: "Yes, but sometimes it happens that you decide to do something for the wrong reason and it happens to be a good decision for other reasons."

Can you think of some good examples?

I was going to say that my observation is related to but different from the idea of unintended consequences. But it seems to be the first of the 3 types of unintended consequences:
A positive, unexpected benefit (usually referred to as luck, serendipity or a windfall).

A negative, unexpected detriment occurring in addition to the desired effect of the policy (e.g., while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne diseases that have devastating health effects, such as schistosomiasis).

A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse)

Inappropriate Holder.

I Googled "inappropriate holder" because I wanted to look deeply into Eric Holder's use of the word "inappropriate" instead of "unconstitutional" when he was questioned about drone strikes.

The top result was from Trip Advisor: "Hotel Am Muhlenteich Photo: Complimentary toiletries, inappropriate holder meant they fell off the holder all the time." LOL. Inappropriate Holder. Don't you hate the way new toothbrushes have these bulbous handles and won't fit in the slots of your old cemented-to-the-wall toothbrush rack?

If only our rights were so secure! Anyway, I'm not really trying to be funny here. I think "inappropriate" is a fascinating word. I see that back in 2011 "Holder Scolds Congress for ‘Inappropriate Rhetoric’ in Fast and Furious Investigation."

The Oxford English Dictionary (unlinkable, sorry) makes short work of "inappropriate," which has one line of definition — "Not appropriate; unsuitable to the particular case; unfitting, improper" — and only 3 historical examples:
1804   Ann. Rev. 2 19/2   A rambling inappropriate retrospect of Indian history.
1846   Dickens Dombey & Son (1848) ii. 9   [He] invaded the grave silence..with the singularly inappropriate air of ‘A Cobbler there was’.
1883   H. Drummond Nat. Law in Spiritual World (ed. 2) Pref. 13   Inappropriate Hybridism is checked by the Law of Sterility.
I resort to my second-favorite reference resource, my husband Meade. I ask: "What associations do you have with the word 'inappropriate'?"

Meade: "Miss Manners."


"What is the Physical Politic of Mr. Walter Bagehot but the tension of the Natural Law to the Political World? What is the Biological Sociology of Mr. Herbert Spencer, but the application of Natural Law to the Social World? Will it be charged that the splendid achievements of such thinkers are hybrids between things which Nature has meant to remain apart? Nature usually solves such problems for herself. Inappropriate Hybridism is checked by the Law of Sterility."

Canceling White House tours to deal with the sequester.

My first reaction to this was that Obama is trying to shape public opinion by cutting things that ordinary people will feel and get irritated about. But then I read this:
Administration officials say the decision was made by the Secret Service, which estimated that ending the tours for roughly 11,000 people a week would save $74,000 in weekly overtime costs. That adds up to about $2 million in savings through the end of the fiscal year in September, it said.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said another 37 officers are needed to secure the White House grounds during public tours. The agency is looking for ways to trim a mandatory $84 million from its budget without resorting to layoffs, he said.
Why are 11,000 people a week tromping through the White House? Look at it from the outside and move on. It's a residence and a round-the-clock workplace, not America's patriotism museum.
“The White House is our house! Please let us visit!” the students pleaded in a brief Facebook video, which was featured on ABC’s “World News Tonight” to dramatize the human costs of the political gridlock that has gripped Washington.

“There were a lot of groans, and then a lot of questions about why can’t they get it worked out,” said Karen Thalacker, whose son Malcolm Newell, 12, had his picture taken with Obama when he was campaigning in Iowa in 2007.

“They’re getting a lesson in advocacy,” Thalacker said of the students’ Internet activism, “and about how their government works.”
Here's my internet activism to you kids: Learn about government from reading and studying. Have you read the Constitution? Have you read The Federalist Papers? Have you read at least 10 of the most important Supreme Court cases? Develop your mind. You don't need to go running around inside a building where people have to work. Quit getting so jazzed up at meeting celebrities and gawking at mansions. That only makes you easier prey for power-seekers who would love you to feel awed.

End White House tours permanently.

And to you parents and teachers: Quit using children in politics. Teach them some useful things that will make them effective citizens some day. Don't teach idolatry. So your child got his picture taken with Obama. So the children groaned when they didn't get what you told them they should want. That's all evidence of how you've softened them up to be pathetic little subjects.

"[A]n apple and a thermos full of tea — the same sustenance Jimmy Stewart brought to the Senate floor in the movie 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.'"

What Senator Mark Kirk brought to Rand Paul in the 7th hour of the filibuster.

"I wanted everybody to know that our Constitution is precious and that no American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime."

A strange sentence... from Rand Paul's WaPo op-ed "My filibuster was just the beginning."

If you had asked me 5 years ago in what situation would an American Senator say that, I would have imagined a severe breakdown in our legal and political order.

Why would someone professing to care about the Constitution only want to know that an American has to be charged with a crime before he's blown away by something called a drone. Where's the right to counsel? Where's the proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial? And if the sentence is death, isn't it cruel and unusual to suddenly bomb a man out of existence?

The Senator sounds as though he is begging for the last shred of pretense that we have a Constitution.

Purchase of the day.

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"I could dance all f***ing day."

This is a nice trend. Young people finding very old grandmas adorable.

Of course, viewers of "The View" found Elisabeth Hasselbeck "too extreme and right wing."

"People did not watch the show because of Elisabeth. So they told her yesterday her contract would not be renewed."

If there are 3 or 4 liberal women dominating the show, then the one righty is going to be irritating to the people who actually watch the show. How could the one righty attract viewers who will put up with the 3 or 4 liberals? Obviously, Hasselbeck was only there to give the lefties something to bounce off of. I'm not surprised that viewers, when polled, would fail to credit her with performing a useful function. Ah, well, what does it matter? The viewers want a squishier, more comfortable conservative or no conservative at all. Women's TV... I don't watch it. Who does?

March 8, 2013

"Loosely based on Taoism, Dudeism aims to produce self-reliance and improve self-regard..."

"... so the congregational aspect of it isn't strongly emphasized anyway."
"The looser we keep it, the more 'Dude' it seems to be," Benjamin wrote. That may all change, though, when the Dudeist Social Network, a social media platform that will be pretty much exactly what it sounds like, goes live. "It'll be easier to disorganize some events without working too hard," he joked.
Benjamin is Oliver Benjamin, founder of the Church of the Latter-Day Dude and co-author of "The Abide Guide: Living Like Lebowski."

If you had to invent a religion based on a movie, what movie would you choose?

"I’ll be the man smoking two cigarettes.”

That's today's sentence from "The Great Gatsby," taken out of context, and it's a sentence that you can and should memorize. Next time you're planning to meet somebody somewhere and they want to know how they can recognize you, say: "I’ll be the man smoking two cigarettes."

It's especially appropriate if you're not a man

"As the Inca Civil War raged, in 1531 the Spanish landed in Ecuador."

"Led by Francisco Pizarro, the conquistadors learned that the conflict and disease were destroying the empire."
... Pizarro sent an embassy, led by Hernando de Soto with 15 horsemen and an interpreter; shortly thereafter he sent 20 more horsemen led by his brother Hernando Pizarro as reinforcements in case of an Inca attack. Atahualpa was in awe of these men dressed in full clothing, with long beards and riding horses (an animal he had never seen). In town Pizzaro set a trap for the Inca and the Battle of Cajamarca began....

During the next year Pizzaro held Atahualpa for ransom. The Incas filled the Ransom Room with gold and silver awaiting a release that would never happen. On August 29, 1533 Atahualpa was garroted.
In Ecuador, today's "History of" country.

We take advice.

Yesterday's Where's the Ball Café had video of Zeus the Labrador retriever losing the ball in deep snow. This morning, David Davenport commented:
Meade, here's a suggestion. While the snow lasts, train Zeus to look for the ball in a hole in otherwise untrodden snow. Don't throw the ball. Drop it so that it sinks into the snow. Then take Zeus by the collar and direct his view to the ball down in the hole. Repeat this several times until Zeus gets the idea."
Meade immediately took Zeus into the backyard, and, from the window, I shot this video:

"It’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”

McCain, referring to Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Justin Amash.

ADDED: It's actually McCain who's always getting the media megaphone, but maybe it takes one to know one.

"When Franco says the word 'prestidigitation' behind his stoner’s grin, it’s as if he’s uttering it for the first time in English class."

Apparently the new 3D Disney "Oz the Great and Powerful" is terrible and James Franco is "woefully miscast" as the Wizard of Oz.

Is anyone ever miscast and not woefully miscast? Woefully is to miscast as scantily is to clad. Sorry, but the reviewer (WaPo's Ann Hornaday) invited English class thoughts.
Starting with a woefully miscast James Franco in the title role, continuing through a lame story line that’s merely a warmed-over version of the 1939 movie adaptation, and extending to visual effects that never approach the dazzlement and wonder of its revolutionary forbearer, “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a big, over-processed misfire that with a little more care and ingenuity might have lived up to its name.
Okay. Tough luck for fans of 3D children's material for kids and adults. It's all the same to me. But back to English class. Do you know the difference between a "forbearer" and a "forbear" (or "forebear")?  Hornaday doesn't. A "forbearer" is someone who refrains from doing something. If anyone is not a forbearer, it's a revolutionary.

An ancestor/forefather/progenitor is called a "forbear" or "forebear." You may think "forbear" is only a verb, but "bear," the suffix, comes from "beer," which means "one who is or exists." Does that seem weird? Break it in half. It's be-er. So you see why you don't need the "-er" on "forbear"? It's there already, in the "-ar." Don't let the drink "beer" or the animal "bear" confuse you here. Your forefathers are your forbears, and if they were forbearers you would not be a beer.

The OED quotes a 1786 Robert Burns poem "The Death And Dying Words Of Poor Mailie, The Author's Only Pet Yowe" which isn't about a bear but a sheep (yowe = ewe):
An' may they never learn the gaets,
Of ither vile, wanrestfu' pets—
To slink thro' slaps, an' reave an' steal
At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' kail!
So may they, like their great forbears,
For mony a year come thro the shears:
So wives will gie them bits o' bread,
An' bairns greet for them when they're dead.

At the Go-and-Stop Café...


The upholstery is so comfy....


"Seems like a lot of twentysomething women, including me, have felt bad? strange? uncomfortable? guilty? childish? about wanting a boyfriend..."

"... but we hardly talk about it."

But if you did? talk? about it? would there be question marks? all over everything? you were saying? to each other?

The link goes to a Slate dialogue with lots of female participants, all much younger than I am. I'm not sure if any of them says exactly this, but it seems to me that the shame of admitting to wanting a boyfriend is the concession that you don't have a boyfriend. Pride leads you to act as though what you are doing you are doing intentionally. And if you really do want a boyfriend, you probably also think that revealing that you want what you don't have only makes it harder to get get what you want.

Maybe women are so good at standing proud that men have stopped believing women must really want men.

Late in the conversation, from a participant other than the one quoted above:
What strikes me as weird about this conversation, and why this shift in priorities doesn't seem like a complete feminist victory, is that it discounts the idea that a relationship can be an incredible source of support for career and life goals. Having someone who, say, helps with chores to give you more time to study or work, or who encourages you when you're discouraged, or works in a similar field and helps you with ideas, who backs you publicly, etc? All this stuff can make it much easier to work harder and in a more productive way or to work through difficult challenges. I'm not sure we should get psyched by the idea that young women don't want relationships but rather by the idea that women want more from their relationships or that we view relationships as part of a larger matrix of things that can work well together.
Jeez! It's all so much work. The point of love is so you can do even more work. The stereotypical traditional male works so that a woman would have him and he could have love. Love was the end, not the means. If, for the woman, love is the means and the end is career advancement... then what? And why?

Purchase of the day.

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"While the old guard of the Republican Party was out playing footsie with the president, the new kids in town were talking to the American people about liberty."

Let's get back to yesterday's Rush Limbaugh show. Here's my post about the interview with Rand Paul, noting Paul's accidental revelation that he's no follower of Rush Limbaugh. But before that happened, there was this opening monologue:
[T]he establishment decided to go out to dinner last night.  Obama took McCain and Lindsey Graham and some others, went out to dinner....

Obama, a 20-vehicle motorcade to go to a restaurant for dinner.  A 20-vehicle motorcade to go to a restaurant while the White House tours are shut down because of the sequester....

The establishment goes out, when they got back home they found all the furniture out on the front porch.  The kids had gone crazy.  The kids had thrown a giant party while the establishment was out doing whatever they were doing.  While the old guard of the Republican Party was out playing footsie with the president, the new kids in town were talking to the American people about liberty...

"He did a disservice, a disservice to a lot of Americans to make -- make them fear they're in danger from their government. They're not! They're not!" McCain said, quote, "American citizens have nothing to fear from their government."...

Now, I'll tell you what's happening here, folks, among many other things. McCain and some of these old guard guys are jealous.... Well, right now, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have captivated everybody, and these old guard guys -- these old bulls -- are getting jealous.....

"The reason why I am proud of my part in the punk movement is that I think it really did implant a message that was already there."

"The hippies told it to me, but punk made it something cool for people to stand up for, which is that we do not believe government, that we are against government."

Said Vivienne Westwood... who also says, about the First Lady, "It’s dreadful what she wears." Why does she say that? It's not terribly clear. Westwood seems very cranky (still channeling The Sex Pistols?). But it seems Ms. Obama is making the mistake of choosing clothes that make her "look more conservative." Clothes are supposed to make you "more glamorous." Back around 1970, you could put on "a pair of tight leopard-printed velvet trousers" and it would be amazing and rebellious, but that's not something that can happen anymore.

Westwood is only 71, by the way.

Clemson's disability awareness day criticized for feeding stereotypes and stirring pity.

The event — awkwardly titled Walk & Roll in My Shoes — was to have professors/administrators paired with disabled students and somehow simulating the disability. Put a person who doesn't need a wheelchair in a wheelchair and so forth.
“I think that a simulation event of any kind -- whether it’s try on poverty for a day, or try on race for a day, or try on a queer identity for a day -- raises problems,” said Jillian Weise, an assistant professor of English. “It assumes that a nondisabled participant can understand disabilities totally and completely by wearing goggles or by wearing headphones.”

Weise, who walks with a prosthetic leg, said the event negates the personal experiences of living with a disability, instead promoting a superficial understanding of disabilities through a kind of parody. Relegating students with disabilities to the role of “shadows” will also fail to raise awareness, Weise said.

“We need to be more visible, and ‘shadow’ implies a nonperson, a nonentity, and the word ‘shadow’ is related on a literary basis to ghost, to death,” Weise said. “At this moment, we need to see persons with disabilities being successful and in positions of power.”

Rand Paul goes on Rush Limbaugh's show and begins with a gaffe.

It's an attempted compliment:
RUSH: We welcome to the program this afternoon Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky. Senator, you got some sleep last night, I trust?

PAUL: Well, I did, but, you know, I was thinking of you when I was in the middle of this 13-hours. I got about five hours into it and I was like, "Well, Rush does four hours of this every day. Certainly I can do four more hours."
As anyone at all familiar with the Rush Limbaugh show would know, Rush does 3 hours. (If you subtract the commercials, it's less than 2 hours.) So right at the outset, Rush knows Paul doesn't pay much attention to the show.
RUSH: (chuckling) That's awfully nice of you to say, but I doubt that I was in your thoughts last night, although I appreciate the comment. 
This seems like a corresponding self-deprecating pleasantry, but listening to the podcast, I translated "I doubt that I was in your thoughts" to: I know you don't care about me.

"What makes these queen bees so effective and aggravating is..."

"... that they are able to exploit female vulnerabilities that men may not see, using tactics that their male counterparts might never even notice."
Like Jane's gossiping about Erin's personal life. Or when Kelly's boss would comment on her outfit: "Who are you trying to impress today?" Or not-so-gently condescend: "Did you take your smart pill today, sweetie?" Their assaults harm careers and leave no fingerprints.

That is one reason many victims never see such attacks coming—and are powerless to prevent them. In Kelly's case, she had assumed her female boss might want to help foster her growth out of some sense of female solidarity. Erin had specifically sought out working at the magazine because she admired Jane's writing and wanted to learn from her. Why wouldn't Jane be eager to teach? It is women, after all, who are hastening the table-pounding male bullies toward obsolescence.

March 7, 2013

At the Where's the Ball Café....

... where the hell is the ball?

Senators who find it hard to explain why they didn't stand with Rand.

HuffPo inquires:
"I don't know, there's a lot of debates I don't join that I agree -- I've got stuff to do and was doing a lot of other things," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told HuffPost when asked about his whereabouts the day before. "I think the question should be answered. I think [Sen.] Paul was generally right on it."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) [said] "I'm working right now on many, many, other issues... Presumably you go down on the floor because you believe in something"... though he argued that the method Paul used to raise his questions and his timing weren't "particularly constructive."

"The island of Timor was populated as part of the human migrations that have shaped Australasia more generally."

"It is believed that survivors from three waves of migration still live in the country. The first is described by anthropologists as people of the Veddo-Australoid type, who arrived from the north and west at least 42,000 years ago.... Around 3000 BC, a second migration brought Melanesians. The earlier Veddo-Australoid peoples withdrew at this time to the mountainous interior. Finally, proto-Malays arrived from south China and north Indochina...."

East Timor, today's "History of" country.

"Hugo Chavez’s body will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb at a military museum..."

"... not far from the presidential palace from which he ruled for 14 years, his successor announced Thursday in a Caribbean version of the treatment given Communist revolutionary leaders like Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh."

So reports the Associated Press. How they know what's going to happen forever is beyond me.

What I really mean to say is: The Associated Press should be ashamed of itself.

"The federal government may not use drones to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil if they do not represent an imminent threat."

"The Commander in Chief does, of course, have the power to protect Americans from imminent attack, and nothing in this legislation interferes with that power."

Cruz and Paul introduce a bill.

Meanwhile, Holder answers Paul's question:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney quoted from the letter that Holder sent to Paul today. “Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on an American soil?” Holder wrote, per Carney. “The answer is no.”
So then, all agree.

Or... I don't know. McCain and Graham seem to have suffered a narcissistic injury:
"So we've done a, I think, a disservice to a lot Americans by making them believe that somehow they're in danger from their government," McCain said. "They're not. But we are in danger. We are in danger from a dedicated, longstanding, easily replaceable leadership enemy that is hellbent on our destruction. And this leads us to having to do things that perhaps we haven't had to do in other more conventional wars."...

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [said] "Noncombatants under the law of war are protected, not subject to being killed randomly. So to suggest that the president won't answer that question somehow legitimizes that the drone program is going to result in being used against anybody in a room having a cup of coffee, to me, cheapens the debate."
It's so hard to see these young twerps getting attention. The elders should run the show.

Hey, remember when the NYT presented Obama as cool — with his "kill list"?

Paul flipped it.

"Entertain the possibility that you are the shallow one..."

"... and that you are a sexist pig."

"Alvin Lee, whose fire-fingered guitar playing drove the British blues-rock band Ten Years After to stardom in the 1960s and early ’70s..."

"... died on Wednesday in Spain. He was 68. He died 'after unforeseen complications following a routine surgical procedure'..."

That's the Woodstock performance of "I'm Going Home. "

Purchase of the day.

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A morning dog walk in sun and snow.

Abby is 16 weeks old:


She's pretty sweet:




Delving deeply into the question whether the Chinese have a word for "nerd."

You remember the discussion after NYT columnist David Brooks asserted that the Chinese don't have a word for "nerd." Victor Mair at Language Log has a lot to say on the subject:
First of all, we have to know what "nerd" itself means.  It doesn't just signify a bookish or pedantic person, but rather someone who is socially inept or square (try finding an exactly equivalent word for that in Chinese!), perhaps, but not necessarily, because of a consuming commitment to intellectual or technical pursuits....

I asked about thirty native speakers of various Sinitic languages and topolects how they would say "nerd" in Chinese.  Around half of them flat out said that you cannot say "nerd" in Chinese, but must borrow the English word.  Roughly another quarter mentioned shūdāizi ("bookworm"), or variants thereof, while another quarter listed all sorts of colorful terms meaning — more or less — "fool; blockhead; dolt; dunce; dullard; simpleton; numskull"; etc.), none of which are really comparable to "nerd".  I'll just list a few of the more interesting Chinese terms of the latter sort...
Much more at the link, including the awareness among native Chinese speakers of the nerd/geek distinction (and familiarity with this Venn diagram).

IN THE COMMENTS: Earnest Prole said:
For a subtler definition of nerd see this Venn diagram

"Dianna really loved her six-month month internship at Cat Haven."

Says her father, relying on the old "died doing what she loved" cliché.
Dianna Hanson was volunteering at Cat Haven sanctuary in Dunlap when she was tragically attacked after getting into the male lion's cage.
Is that the right use of "tragically"?

IN THE COMMENTS: ByondPolitics said:
You didn't provide a [sic] in your title.

It’s possible that the word "tragedy" stems from the ritual sacrifice of goats. However, there is also evidence that the word arose because the chorus sounded like the song of goats — much like a current internet meme that matches popular songs to bleating goats. However, people aren't goats (which is precisely why the internet meme is funny and your ham-fisted question is not) and lions aren't known to perform acts to large numbers of fellow lions in order elucidate concepts regarding emotion. Therefore, the action at issue is not a reversal of whom was sacrificed but rather whatever action of hers led to her death. The nature of that action is unknown.

In any case, Aristotle seems a fair place to assess whether the performance of a deed merits the adverb and the answer is yes. The deed was important. It was complete. It had great magnitude. It evoked pity and fear. There is also substantial evidence that she used her acts during the internship to effect, in a broad audience, a relief from those emotions.

Ah. The question is reminiscent of ones asked daily in Freshman Comp. Good Times. Good Times.

A more interesting question is why you repeatedly make frigidly flippant remarks immediately after the deaths of warm and valuable young people whom were striving to effect positive change: David Foster Wallace, Aaron Swartz, and now this woman. It's disturbing.
Why? I aim to disturb. Why do you think you shouldn't be disturbed? Also, "whom were striving" is bad English. And speaking of women and "warm... young people," why did the warm young persons David Foster Wallace (is 46 young?) and Aaron Swartz hang themselves in such a way that their wife/girlfriend would discover their hanged bodies? Why are they considered "warm" when they did that? Are you more disturbed now?

As for women who get their sentimental feelings stimulated by consorting with lions... these people are stupid. Swartz and Wallace were extremely smart. Responsibility varies. Face reality. To call what I'm saying "frigidly flippant" is to let yourself off easy. You want to talk about gender politics?! Listen to yourself. You think I'm being shallow. Entertain the possibility that you are the shallow one... and that you are a sexist pig.

But thanks for the heads-up on "month month." That's funny.

How did Rand Paul go 13 hours without a bathroom break?

"As he moved about the Senate floor, aides brought him glasses of water, which he barely touched. Senate rules say a senator has to remain on the floor to continue to hold it, even though he can yield to another senator for a question."

Continue to hold it is a good phrase, under the circumstances, but I assume he relied on Depends or something fancier (using his doctor skills).

Mystery at the Wisconsin Governor's Mansion: "the bullet passed cleanly through the eye of a decorative ghost."

This was back in October, and the much-protested Governor Walker was not at home. The ghost, part of a Halloween display, looked like this after the shooting:

A female Capitol Police officer lost her job for reporting that the shot was fired outside the mansion.
Tesch was stationed in the security office in a lower level of the mansion in Maple Bluff when her gun discharged, sending a slug through the eye of a cartoon ghost on the windowsill.

Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration, which oversees the Capitol police, initially said the shooting was accidental, but she acknowledged Wednesday that it is difficult to be certain exactly why the gun was fired.
Accidental... and right through the ghost's eye?

"I took the human being, at five feet eight and one-half inches tall, like myself, as the human scale."

"If I had been taller, the scale might have been different."

"Is Rand Paul still talking?"

That's was Google's first effort at completing the search request when I typed "is ra."

ADDED: Here's video of the entire 13-hour filibuster. 

AND: Here's a nice selection of highlights.  Here's the ending:

"The celebrated 'red coat girl' from Schindler's List, Polish actor Oliwia Dabrowska, has revealed she was left traumatised..."

"... after breaking a promise to director Steven Spielberg not to watch the film until she was 18."
"It was too horrible. I could not understand much, but I was sure that I didn't want to watch ever again in my life." She also said she "really regretted" not paying attention to the director's suggestion that she "grow up into the film", and not watch it until she was older.

"I was ashamed of being in the movie and really angry with my mother and father when they told anyone about my part," she said. But, having revisited the film as an 18-year-old, she said she realised "I had been part of something I could be proud of."
She was 3 when she made the film and 11 when she watched it for the first time. 

"I think I’ve done the right thing by being open and honest and a mother lioness..."

"... showing them what life’s about."

"Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to pre-emptive nuclear attack..."

"... against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest."

Said a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman.

And here's a little propaganda movie uploaded to the North Korean state website last month, appropriating the bad-enough-already tune "We Are the World" to go with images of nuking American cities:

Artist drops out of "Adventures of Superman" anthology because other artist in the project doesn't support same-sex marriage.

If Orson Scott Card is in, Chris Sprouse is out.
“It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I’ve decided to step back as the artist on this story. The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with.”...

An online petition calling for DC to remove [Card] from the book has more than 16,000 signers. Comics Alliance has a series of interviews with retailers, including one who will not offer the book when it becomes available in print and another who will donate proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign.
So Sprouse is caving to pressure.

More here, quoting Jono Jarett of gay fan group Geeks OUT:
Chris Sprouse is a talented artist and it's not surprising that he's chosen to distance himself from this radioactive project. It is, however, surprising that DC continues to stand by Card, whose very public bigotry and anti-gay activism remain at odds with the publisher's attempts to engage their fans in the LGBT community.
Fans' anger over Card's views are now threatening promotions of the filmed adaptation of his sci-fi novel Ender's Game, which hits theaters in November and will star Harrison Ford.
Get ready. This is the future, unfortunately. Anyone who doesn't adapt and embrace same-sex marriage will be treated as the equivalent of a racist. You can say: What about freedom of expression? But that is freedom of expression.

"A pair of concerned residents reported a possible cat hoarder on Fairmont Road...."

"A Panoramic Drive boy reported his iPod Touch was stolen a year ago, which he had just discovered...."

"The Whitefish Police Department received a report of two elderly women in a fist fight over a cookie while riding a bus on Baker Avenue."

March 6, 2013

Rand Paul filibusters.

Watch live here.

ADDED: "Paul began speaking just before noon Wednesday on the Senate floor in opposition to Brennan’s nomination, saying that he planned to speak 'for the next few hours' in a rare talking filibuster."
“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court."
Historic. Brilliant. Beautiful.

"I have a soft spot for Joe Biden. I like him. But he’s dumb as an ashtray."

Said Roger Ailes. He also said: "I like Marco Rubio.... But I don’t know about as a vice-presidential candidate. He’s a nice guy, and that role requires kicking the crap out of your opponents.

"Four Pinocchios for White House claim on Capitol janitors' overtime."

Glenn Kessler at WaPo.
First of all, we should note that the White House’s story kept evolving as we reported last week’s column. It’s almost as if the president’s aides had to scramble to come up with reasons why the president could be correct, without actually knowing the facts....
 AND: A round-up of sequester fact-checking.

Purchase of the day.

From the March 5, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

Wood Products 9910 Fatwood Box, 10 Pounds (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $1.38)

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"The Conservative Case Against More Prisons."

"Higher incarceration rates aren't making us safer — and there are better, smaller-government alternatives."

"Unfortunately the woman was mauled to death by the lion..."

"... but her boyfriend managed to escape naked."

"You are my wife!" exclaims Nicki Minaj in praise of a 19-year-old singer.

On "American Idol" last night. Nicki Minaj is a female. Whether we're talking same-sex marriage or not, however, proclaiming one of the contestants to be your partner in marriage is edgy for that family show.

Minaj is always coming up with new ways to say "I love you." (For example, last night, she also said "You are a little marshmallow that I want to eat.")

I appreciate the effort not to be boring, and it must be a great effort, when you listening to hundreds of song performances and then must say something. Imagine trying to think up something new to say that advances your image as a sexy, edgy pop star but isn't too dirty for a prime-time network show aimed at kids and the parents who watch TV with their kids. You can't say that you want to have sex with the contestant. You have to take it down a step.

ADDED: I just remembered that Minaj also said to one young female singer: "I love your boobs." To be fair, the singer was wearing a dress with a tight bodice that had high-contrast triangles marking the nipple location.

"My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately..."

"The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less.... I’m ready. Everybody fears the unknown. But I have a strong feeling there’s something bigger than us.... I don’t think all this exists because some rocks happened to collide. I’m at peace. When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm. I’ll miss life, though. Especially my family."

Said Roger Ailes the head of Fox News.  

I wonder what people of the left will say when he dies. Will we get the kind of "hell has a new resident" crude clichés we're hearing today from righties celebrating the departure of Hugo Chavez?

Man dies of "a result of a tragic car accident 30 years ago."

"Rob was never able to talk to us again. At all. He was not able to see. He was not able to eat. He was tube fed for all of those years...."
"Rob was in a total coma for a long, long time. About six years. Then he was in a state of some awareness but could not respond...."...

"The hospice has a music therapist who would come in and play her guitar and sing to Rob his favorite songs, Alabama songs. Right after he died, she came back and sat there until the funeral parlor came and picked up Rob. She sat there very quietly singing her songs to him"....
That's a sad story about a Wisconsin man. I guess "Alabama songs" refers to songs by the country rock band Alabama, which has been around since 1969.

I see Wikipedia has a page "List of songs about Alabama." It's a long list, including "Alabama Song," the Brecht/Weill song that The Doors covered. ("Show us the way to the next whisky bar... show us the way to the next pretty boy....") The most famous song about Alabama is probably "Sweet Home Alabama." Or is it "Stars Fell on Alabama" — which Billie Holiday sang so sweetly.

"Rescued teen praised for snow survival skills."

"Nicholas Joy... told his rescuers he learned how to build the shelter from watching a survival show on TV."
"I think the fact that he focused on just hunkering down, settling in and staying sheltered, regardless of whether he’s ever done it before, he was getting himself into a better situation. And maybe more important, he picked a project to work on that caused him not to basically wander further and farther off and freak out."
ADDED: I don't know what TV show he watched, but for future reference, here's how to build a quinzhee:

George Zimmerman opts out of "stand your ground" hearing.

Why? His lawyer claims there's too much time pressure preparing for the jury trial, but there must be a better reason.
University of Florida law professor Bob Dekle [thinks it's likely] that [Zimmerman's lawyer] O'Mara doesn't want to go through a bench mini-trial and possibly tip off the prosecution about its strategy should the "stand your ground" plea fail.
"If you're not 100 percent sure you're going to win the 'stand your ground' hearing, you just end up telling the state what your defense is and you've got nothing with which to surprise the state at trial," says Professor Dekle. "What you want to do at trial is catch the state with their britches down."

Several new developments suggest that Zimmerman's defense attorneys are having some success finding information that could raise doubts among jurors about the state's version of events. For one, the defense has been digging furiously, with the judge's permission, into Trayvon's social media history, which may present a more complex, edgier picture of the youth.

Also on Tuesday, a key witness for the prosecution was caught in a second apparent lie amid probing by the defense. A woman who says she was on the phone with Trayvon as Zimmerman pursued him originally gave her age as 16, though she was really 18. And she also said she missed Trayvon's funeral because of a hospital stay, which wasn't true.
And here's Jeralynn Merritt, noting that at the "stand your ground" hearing, Zimmerman would have the burden of proof (by a preponderance of the evidence), but at the trial, the prosecution has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Even though the defendant could lose at the "stand your ground" hearing and still go on to win at trial because of these different burdens, you can see why you might avoid the pre-trial hearing unless you were quite sure you'd win. And:
O'Mara can still file a motion to dismiss based on ["stand your ground"] immunity... at the close of the state's evidence and renew it at the close of his case, before it goes to the jury. The judge would determine the motion based on the evidence presented at trial. If denied, O'Mara can still argue self-defense, including self-defense based on the immunity/stand your ground statute, to the jury....

If the jury rejects self-defense, including that based on the immunity statute, Zimmerman can argue on appeal that the court erred in not dismissing the case based on the immunity statute before it went to the jury....
Much more at that second link.

"Chinese students come up to me and say, 'Wow, you know, what can we do? We had no idea...'"

"That's the story that's put out, [the elephants are] anesthetized, the tusks are taken out, and they're patted on the bottom and sent out to grow a new set."

"New York sex workers said to be avoiding condoms as they’re used more frequently as evidence of prostitution."

""Unfortunately, I can only carry one condom.... I can't carry more, because if I have bad luck and the police catch me, they could put me in jail because police can use them as proof."

A culture of sexual abuse at NYC's elite Bronx High School of Science.

Students against students in the under-supervised boys' locker room.
[E]mail from [he athletic director, Marion] Dietrich reveals that school officials have known about the behavior for at least three years and that bullying students had gotten so out of hand that Dietrich assigned coaches to patrol the boys’ locker room.
The "bullying" in question was serious sexual assault, which you can read about at the link.

"Star Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko admits acid attack."

"'I organized this attack,' Dmitrichenko, with dark circles under his eyes and looking slightly disheveled...
Before [the victim Sergei] Filin became the Bolshoi artistic director two years ago, responsible for choosing who danced what part and charting the direction of the company, he was ballet director at the smaller Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater.

There, he tried to hire a young ballerina named Anzhelina Vorontsova, who turned him down to dance at the Bolshoi. Her teacher and mentor at the Bolshoi was Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a dancer who reportedly wanted the Bolshoi job given to Filin and has been an outspoken critic of Bolshoi management.

When Filin joined the Bolshoi, he did not promote Vorontsova, according to the television report. In another twist, Dmitrichenko, who was known for his volatile temperament, was reportedly romantically involved with Vorontsova....

March 5, 2013

"In addition to striking himself with a rock... [Kyle] Wood also admitted..."

"...  that he struck his head on a mirror at his apartment and ran into a doorknob. He said he was the only one who knew that the attack was made up."

Obstruction charges filed against a Madison Republican campaign volunteer. Previously discussed here.

"Hulsey conducted the interview amiably in his half-darkened office, lighted by only a dim energy-saving bulb favored by the environmentalist Hulsey."

The best sentence in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article "State Rep. Brett Hulsey investigated for bringing box cutter to Capitol."

ADDED: More here:
An aide to state Rep. Brett Hulsey told police last month she feared for her safety because of the Madison Democrat's behavior, which included considering bringing a gun to the Capitol even though he doesn't have a concealed-weapons permit, taking a box cutter to the statehouse on another day and urging the aide to train for self-defense with him....

In an interview with the State Journal on Tuesday night, Hulsey, 53, said he brought the cutting tool for use in self-defense training, which he said was necessary because Capitol Police told lawmakers and staffers to punch protesters if they felt threatened. He said he planned to use the box cutter without the blade extended.

"I called up Chief (David) Erwin and said, ‘You’re telling our staff to start hitting people,’" Hulsey said. "I told him, ‘You should be giving them effective self-defense training.’"...

The aide told police that on Feb. 1, Hulsey asked her to call Erwin to reserve a training room with mats because he and Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller were going to train her in self-defense. She said she told him she did not want to be trained.
(Click on the Brett Hulsey tag for past stories on this blog about Hulsey. You may remember an incident at the beach involving horseplay with children and his presence in many of our old scenes from the protests.

At the Sidewalk Café...

... take some extra portions.

Drudge: "Bye Bye."

Irreverence at the death of Hugo Chavez.

"... my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs..."

I thought you'd enjoy this taken-out-of-context sentence from "The Great Gatsby":
The prolonged and tumultuous argument that ended by herding us into that room eludes me, though I have a sharp physical memory that, in the course of it, my underwear kept climbing like a damp snake around my legs and intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back.
I've got to run... out into the Wisconsin snow... which was the subject of another post about a "Gatsby" sentence weeks ago.  No time to venture my comments about the damp snake and all that. So have at it. I'll join you later. 

ADDED: Herding, eluding, climbing, racing. Very active, especially the underwear, which was so memorable compared to the substance of the argument. There was a big argument, but it eludes him now. The argument ran out of his memory even as the running, racing, sweat and the climbing snakelike underwear wormed their way in.

The snake is so entrancing that it seems wrong to get to the introduction-to-creative-writing purple-prose "intermittent beads of sweat raced cool across my back." What's the point of "intermittent"? Why tag the trite "beads of" onto "sweat"? And "cool" as an adverb seems so twee. Perhaps all that verbiage was necessary to make it okay to talk about his underwear and to say snake. Damp snake.

Purchase of the day.

From the March 4, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

Whirlpool W10295370 FILTER1 Refrigerator Water Filter (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $1.87)

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"[I]f the justices don’t rule in favor of gay marriage, it is the Court that will look bad."

Writes Nan Hunter in The Nation, "judging from the press coverage of the briefs."
This perception is an incredible achievement, a brilliant exercise in political framing by the lawyers and legal organizations behind the two cases, who mobilized the amicus show of force. The business brief and the Republican brief, especially, are clearly designed to provide political cover for the Court’s five conservative Justices.
"This perception" — refers, I think, to the way the Court will look in the future if it doesn't rule in favor of gay marriage. This conditional appearance of badness is "an incredible achievement," something that has already taken place. Whose achievement is it? Who is doing the perception? We, the people, presumably. But Hunter does not mean to say that those doing the perceiving have achieved This Perception. She must intend to give credit for the "incredible achievement" to those who have placed This Perception in the minds of the people.

Hunter seems to credit the lawyers who wrote the briefs, but how did the "brilliant exercise in political framing" leap from the briefs into the public's mind? It was the "press coverage of the briefs." The briefs were raw material for the journalists. It is the journalists who performed the "political framing" that created the incredible achievement of This Perception — the journalists, including Hunter, right here, telling you what to make of the raw material generated by lawyers on the anti-gay marriage side. She wants you to know their stuff is "political cover," even as she delights in the "political framing" accomplished by the lawyers on the side she likes. It's all political. Isn't that marvelous? Incredible! Brilliant!

But if it's all political, shouldn't the judiciary restrain itself and allow the political branches of government to go where they will? Implicit in Hunter's cries of delight is the belief that the Court longs for public approval and with The Perception in place — it's there, believe it, all the journalists say it's there — the Justices know there are 2 possible futures, the one where Court looks good and the one where the Court looks bad.


Aaron Swartz's "family and closest friends have tried to hone his story into a message, in order to direct the public sadness and anger aroused by his suicide to political purposes."

"They have done this because it is what he would have wanted, and because it is a way to extract some good from the event. They tell people that the experience of being prosecuted is annihilatingly brutal, and that prosecutors can pursue with terrible weapons defendants who have caused little harm. One of the corollaries of this message is that Swartz did not kill himself; he was murdered by the government. But this claim is for public consumption, and the people closest to him do not really believe it. They believe that he would not have killed himself without the prosecutors, but they feel that there is something missing from this account—some further fact, a key, that will make sense of what he did."

Larissa MacFarquhar — in The New Yorker — looks at the real complexities of the Aaron Swartz story. This is an extremely impressive piece. Read the whole thing. The passage above is the best abstract summary of what is in the piece, and I'll extract a few more things that are better examples of the kind of details that flesh out that abstraction:
He disliked all vegetables and refused to eat them except in extremely expensive restaurants, such as Thomas Keller restaurants. He had ulcerative colitis, a serious digestive disorder similar to Crohn’s disease; he also thought that he was a “supertaster,” experiencing sensations of taste more intensely than regular people. Partly for these reasons, he ate only foods that were white or yellow. He ate pasta, tofu, cheese, bread, rice, eggs, and cheese pizza. He was phobic about fruit and wouldn’t touch it. He rarely drank alcohol and was careful to stay hydrated. He went through four humidifiers in his apartment in Brooklyn. He said that he left San Francisco because the air-conditioning was bad....

He became a political activist.... But he never felt as strongly about any new idea as he had once felt about them. He would adopt a cause, only to become dissatisfied, deciding that it wasn’t important enough, or was too unlikely to succeed, and he would move on to something else....

He came to believe that the influence of money in American politics was so enormous a problem that possibly little else could be solved until that was. Then again, there were always other countries: in conversation with an Australian friend, he decided that it would be ridiculously easy to “take over Australia,” but that since the country had only twenty million people it wasn’t worth it.

"The Dow Jones industrial average... rose more than 120 points in morning trading on Tuesday, surpassing its previous record close..."

"... of 14,164.53, which it achieved nearly five and a half years ago, as well as its record intraday high, set around the same time, of 14,198.10."
“Central banks do matter. Central banks have always mattered,” said David Rosenberg, a chief economist at Gluskin Sheff and Associates, who started work as a Wall Street economist on the day of the 1987 stock market crash. “So long as the Fed is in an accommodative mode and the economy is out of recession, the odds are that you will have a bull market.”

That’s not to say that the Fed’s largess is the only reason stocks are up. Company profits, which theoretically provide the basis for investing in stocks, have also surged. “Corporate earnings have been doing very nicely, thank you,” said Alan S. Blinder, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. In aggregate, companies in the S.&P. 500 have not reported a decline in earnings since the third quarter of 2009.

The UW's new "Preferred Name Policy" — so "when the teacher is calling role you don’t have to out yourself."

Announced by the Associated Students of Madison Diversity Committee. Do you see what problem this is a solution to?
In the pilot program that will begin in August, students will be able to specify the name they would like to be identified by on class lists. The policy is geared toward groups such as international students that go by an English name and certain members of the LGBTQ community.

“If your name is legally Jane but you go by James, then on a class roster it would have your legal name, but then also your preferred name,” [Diversity Committee Secretary Madison] Tully said. “Then when the teacher is calling role you don’t have to out yourself.”
Actually, this is a helpful policy. I rely on the roster in class, and it can get complicated. I'm already putting the students on the spot by calling on them, and I don't want to embarrass anyone. I want to use the name that's the name they go by.

There have been times when I've called on a student who looks male with a name that's obviously female — e.g. Amy. But that was because I was using a seating chart and the student was sitting in Amy's seat. I repeated the "Amy" more than once, with the student giving me some very strange looks. But what could I do? Who am I to judge what an "Amy" should look like? What if that was Amy? How retrograde would I have seemed if I'd said "You can't be Amy"?

Is Chris Christie's "fix it!" rhetoric smart?

Or does this sound like your average guy watching the sequester debacle on TV?
“I don’t understand it, I don’t understand why they haven’t fixed it already. It seems to me that it should be pretty easy to fix. Real leadership would get this fixed. Get everybody in the room and you fix it and you don’t let them leave until you fix it,” said the Republican. “That’s what real leadership is; not calling a meeting two hours before the thing’s going to hit to have a photo-op in the driveway at the White House. That’s not real leadership. Fix it!”
Yeah, this should be pretty easy to fix. Get everybody in a room and yell fix it! at them and don't let them leave until it's fixed. That's what they oughta do.

Seriously, if that was your dad, what would you say to him?

ADDED: "Fix it!" reminds me of "Just do it!" (the old Nike slogan) and "Just say no" (the anti-drug slogan associated with Nancy Reagan). Which reminds me... Christie is grossly overweight. Why doesn't stop eating so much? Just do it. Just say no. Fix it! It should be pretty to easy to fix.

The Oberlin incident.

"Oberlin Cancels Classes After Figure in KKK Robes Spotted Near African Heritage House" — so read the headlines yesterday. The article referred also to "a string of hate-related incidents at Oberlin," such as graffiti on Black History Month posters crossing out the word "Black" and scrawling in the N-word.

But who's the culprit and what's the real motive? I avoided blogging this story when I saw it yesterday because I expected an update, and here it is:
According to a person with access to the faculty mailing list, faculty members had been told—"unofficially," (i.e., not through official channels)—that "the investigation into this incident was dropped when it was discovered that the person responsible was someone within the MRC [the Multicultural Resource Center], who would be disciplined internally"; according to conversations with other members of the Oberlin community, this appears to be a widespread, and widely-believed, rumor. (The same source, who asked to remain anonymous, claims that the MRC, whose former director, Eric Estes, is now the Dean of Students, has been criticized for the amount of student college money it receives, and that its leadership has "had trouble justifying how many campus coordinators they have on staff.")
When you don't know who has said/written/done something, don't take the expression at face value. Where the identity of the speaker/writer/actor is hidden, think about who has a motive, who has an interest.

How many class hours were taken from tuition-paying students (who also pay the fees that support, perhaps lavishly, things like the Multicultural Resource Center)? Impulsive, biased assumptions are made by the authorities and normal lesson plans give way to a teach-in about a problem that may not even be the problem. A university should model intelligence and reason.

Will we ever learn the real story? Do the students even care?

March 4, 2013

Judicial opinions are "poorly written, legalese-riddled," and "read like over-the-top Marx Brothers parodies of stiffness and hyperformality."

Says Bryan Garner, trying to figure out why lawyers write so badly.

The poor lawyers! They are trying to sound like the lawyers who were trying to sound like lawyers who were trying to sound like lawyers who were... etc.

The stakes are high and the desire to sound professional and learned overcomes a native speaker's capacity for natural speech.

But there's also the problem that the arguments judges and lawyers are putting together are full of gaps. Clear speech would make that obvious.

"David Brooks Wishfully, Wrongly Believes the Chinese Have No Word for ‘Nerd.'"

"Whenever you hear someone explain that a concept is so foreign to this or that culture that people cannot even use their language to describe it, it is safe to assume your passport has just been stamped for entry into the Land of Bullshit."

Purchase of the day.

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"Once your life is inside a federal investigation, there is no space outside of it."

"The only private thing is your thoughts, and even they don't feel safe anymore. Every word you speak or write can be used, manipulated, or played like a card against your future and the future of those you love. There are no neutral parties, no sources of unimpeachable wisdom and trust."

"Standard canned goods aren’t generally deemed age-worthy."

"Food technologists define shelf life not by how long it takes for food to become inedible, but how long it takes for a trained sensory panel to detect a 'just noticeable difference' between newly manufactured and stored cans. There’s no consideration of whether the difference might be pleasant in its own way or even an improvement — it’s a defect by definition."

Cert. grant for civpro buffs.

Just now... in Walden v. Fiore:
Issue: (1) Whether due process permits a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant whose sole “contact” with the forum state is his knowledge that the plaintiff has connections to that state; and (2) whether the judicial district where the plaintiff suffered injury is a district “in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred” for purposes of establishing venue under 28 U.S.C. §1391(b)(2) even if the defendant’s alleged acts and omissions all occurred in another district.

"But working your tail off to get the job done doesn’t have the same cachet here that it has in the United States."

"The first thing an American friend warned me upon moving to London was never to brag about pulling an all-nighter. 'People will think you’re insane,' she confided."

"I’m just going to come out and say it: I love horsemeat."

"It’s lean, yet tender, it is flavorful but not gamy; it’s delicious...."
I was first introduced to it in the Uzbek restaurants of Moscow, where they serve kazy, the horse sausage eaten across Central Asia, with translucently sliced onions and warm, naan-like bread. I was skeptical at first, but eating kazy is a conversion, that first moment of doubt melting away into a long “mmmmm” as you chew. But this was no mere staple of exotic Central Asia. By the time I got to Zurich, I was totally ready for the horse steak my hosts ordered for me. For the sake of comparison, we got one steak steak and one horse steak, and both slabs of raw meat came out on hot stones that sizzled and cooked the meat to the degree you wanted. And you know what? It wasn’t even a contest. Compared to the sweet richness of the horse, the cow tasted bland and dry. If I ever come across horse a menu again, I would order it: I still crave that horse steak.

"Obama pushing to diversify federal judiciary amid GOP delays."

Headline at The Washington Post — for article that has the top placement on the front page).
In Florida, President Obama has nominated the first openly gay black man to sit on a federal district court. In New York, he has nominated the first Asian American lesbian. And his pick for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit? The first South Asian.

Reelected with strong support from women, ethnic minorities and gays, Obama is moving quickly to change the face of the federal judiciary by the end of his second term, setting the stage for another series of drawn-out confrontations with Republicans in Congress.
This is such a ridiculous Obama puff piece. Obama pushing to diversify the federal judiciary? Like it's an Obama innovation?! I can't remember when Presidents didn't go out of their way pick federal judges from various minority groups.

WaPo is obviously using this diversity hook to criticize Republican resistance to liberal nominees. Does anyone in their right mind believe the GOP objects to these nominees because of their particular diversity factors.

"The first woman to be signed exclusively as a male model, ex-Olympian Casey Legler..."

"Legler is 6ft 2in, 35 years old... muscular and cheery, with the awkward swagger of a rock star."
Her voice is soft and earnest, and when she talks, she holds unblinking eye contact. In front of the camera, edges appear. Spikes. She juts her chin; she becomes a boy....

Emily Novak at Ford Models signed her to the men's board immediately. "She has an incredible presence and personality, and, most importantly, she is confident in who she is," Novak tells me. "Being the first woman on a men's board is the least-surprising bit to me – it's me," Legler laughs. "I walked in. It seems so obvious. I have the vocabulary."...

Geoffrey Finch, the creative director of London fashion label Antipodium, says one of his proudest moments was giving Peji´c his women's catwalk debut, but believes fashion has always celebrated difference. "It's all about playing with the ideal of beauty and normality. Perfectly pretty girls are rather dull, aren't they?" he says. "It's Cara Delevingne's strong brows that make her such a babe, likewise Saskia de Brauw's boyish features and iconic crop. Sartorially, women in slouchy suiting, or men in kilts, catch the eye: the 'off' element is the turn-on."
ADDED: Some pix.

"So while expansions in the wealth gap have become sport for the partisan and economically illiterate on both sides of the political divide..."

"... the real truth is that the sentient among us should cheer every time they read of rising inequality."
The sentient should cheer because it signals enterprise being rewarded, freedom to keep the fruits of one’s labor, and then for all of us not rich it signals that our lives are getting better and better; the lifestyle disparity between us and them (the rich) shrinking precisely because economic achievement is taking place.

March 3, 2013

"A 3-year-old girl who went missing from her home in a village in western Poland on Friday evening..."

"... has been found alive after her pet dog snuggled up to her overnight to help keep her warm in sub zero temperatures."

"Woman leaves in tears after getting injured on just her second kick..."

"... during try out to become the first female in pro-football."
As more than two dozen media, including E! Entertainment network, watched her every move, the 28-year-old [Lauren] Silberman was examined off to the side of the practice field. About 30 minutes later, while 36 other kickers continued their workouts, she called the scene 'surreal' and thanked the NFL for 'this tremendous opportunity.'

"Sperling Admits Obama Misled in Debate: The President Did Propose the Sequester."

"We put forth the design of' the sequestration, Sperling finally admits after a long back-and-forth."

Here's the whole "Meet the Press" transcript. Here's the part about Bob Woodward:

"Christopher Columbus reached the island of Hispaniola on his first voyage, in December 1492."

"On Columbus second voyage in 1493 the colony and Santo Domingo became the new capital, and remains the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the Americas."
Hundreds of thousands Tainos living on the island were enslaved to work in gold mines. As a consequence of oppression, forced labor, hunger, disease, and mass killings, by 1535, only 60,000 were still alive. In 1501, the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand I and Isabella, first granted permission to the colonists of the Caribbean to import African slaves, which began arriving to the island in 1503. These African importees have had the most dominant racial influence, and their rich and ancient culture has had an influence second only to that of Europe on the political and cultural character of the modern Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is today's "History of" country. (In the "History of" project, we're going through the 206 countries of the world in alphabetical order and reading their "History of" page in Wikipedia.)

Romney: "The hardest thing about losing is watching this critical moment — this golden moment — just slip away with politics."

On "Fox News Sunday" this morning, talking about what is happening with the sequester deal:
I look at this sequester and also the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as an almost once in generational opportunity for America to solve its fiscal problems.... I mean, I see this as this huge opportunity and it's being squandered by politics... by people who are more interested in a political victory than they are in doing what's right for the country. And it's very frustrating, I have to tell you.
Romney criticizes Obama for going "out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country, flying around the country and berating Republicans and blaming and pointing," which "causes the Republicans to retrench and then put up a wall and to fight back. It's a very natural human emotion." Maybe Romney would have been better at working out a deal, but Obama, being better at campaigning, won the election, and if what he is doing now is more campaigning... well, that's the downside of democracy, isn't it? We judge the campaigns. We don't know what expertise they'd bring to negotiating and reconciling differences.

One of the commentators in the second part of the show was Charles Lane of The Washington Post, who said:
Mitt Romney is a person with a lot of ability and a lot of energy — who still has got a lot to contribute, and, you know, his hometown of Detroit, right now, has just been put into state receivership or it's about to be. I wonder if there is no role for him in the restructuring of Detroit.  He'd be the perfect person to do it. He has got the expertise, he's a hometown guy, and he is a kind of a political free agent at this point. That is the kind of thing that he could, I think, contribute in the future.
That sounds like a great idea to me. Fix Detroit!

"Boehner defends Senate 'ass' jibe."

Politico front-page headline leads to: "Boehner on 'ass' comment: 'I speak English.'"

(He said the Senate needs to "get off their asses.")

ADDED: I've heard of the hand jibe.

Trying to picture the ass jibe.

AND: I do know the song is "jive," not "jibe," but I'm moved to check out the origins of the 2 words in the Oxford English Dictionary (which I can't link to).

"Jibe," originally spelled "iybe," goes back to 1573, and spelled "gibe," appears prominently in Shakespeare, in Hamlet's speech to the skull of the dead jester Yoricke: "Where be your gibes now?" It's a word "Of obscure origin: perhaps < Old French giber... as meaning to shake... ‘to handle roughly in sport’, ‘to use horseplay.’"

"Jive" is a much more recent word, going back only to 1928. It's U.S. slang, "Origin unknown." It means "Talk or conversation; spec. talk that is misleading, untrue, empty, or pretentious; hence, anything false, worthless, or unpleasant; vaguely, ‘stuff’; = jazz n. 2a."
1928   R. Fisher Walls of Jericho 301   Jive, pursuit in love or any device thereof. Usually flattery with intent to win.
It's also "Lively and uninhibited dancing to dance-music or jazz; spec. ‘jitterbugging,'" which is pretty clearly the meaning in the song.
1943   Dancing Times Dec. 117/1   The rhythm of the Jive is not an entirely new one.
1957   C. MacInnes City of Spades i. iv. 24   I'll teach you..bop steps, and jive, and all.
"Ass jive" would be a much more disparaging way to refer to Boehner's remark.

"The Harrad Experiment"/"The Herod Experiment."

That last post, about universal pre-school, led to an in-person conversation with Meade proposing such an extreme change from what we have now that, I said, it would have to be presented in the form of a novel — a utopian/dystopian scenario. People would need to ease into entertaining the idea.  It would have to be like "The Harrad Experiment," which was a novel that was based on a 1960 academic paper written by a couple of married sociologists, "outlining a program designed to achieve sexual sanity."
Essentially, our method consisted of teaching a new sexual ethic and moral code by conditioning and indoctrination throughout a four-year period to a select group of male and female college students of unusually sound character and high creative ability. The paper was the result of ten years of work in family and marriage counseling and years spent studying the sexual habits and mores of man throughout recorded history. My wife and I felt that, in order to survive, Western man must take the long step away from primitive emotions of hate and jealousy and learn the meaning of love and loving as a dynamic process. Such a program would counteract the decadence that is slowly infiltrating our society....

Obviously it would be too startling a change in sex and marriage behavior for the average person in our present culture. The point we made was that the time to begin is now. A start must be made somewhere. Too much is at stake to permit our basic social and family patterns to drift on the currents of haphazard marriage and distorted sex relations.

Our paper proposing a Premarital Living Program at the college level met with a great deal of unfavorable reaction....
So they hooked up with Robert H. Rimmer, who turned their proposal into a novel, and in novel form, people were able to engage with the professors' proposal. [UPDATE: I've now skimmed the book and  see that the sociologists are part of Rimmer's fictional story.]

Meade's idea was: Free and compulsory government schooling to begin at birth and to end at age 10. Meade jokes that his book would be "The Herod Experiment." Sounds gruesome!

The quotes above are from the introduction to the novel, which I just bought on Kindle. I had wanted to read a good summary, but Wikipedia only has a short article about the 1973 movie based on the book. I see Tippi Hedren and the young Don Johnson were in it. It looks amusingly cheesy from the trailer — watch out for the (hilarious) nudity:

Here's a more sedate trailer. No nudity, but I laughed out loud more than once (especially at the oh-so-professorial professor, played by James Whitmore, who "represents the past"):

"Do we really think it is fair to predetermine children’s chances for success in life based on what ZIP code they live in?"

"Doesn’t every child deserve as close to the same chance to develop her or his abilities as any other child?"
Universally available prekindergarten is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. Raising lifetime wages (and thereby tax revenues) and reducing the likelihood that children will drop out of school, get involved in crime, and become a burden on the justice system more than make up for the costs of early childhood education."

Other countries have realized this. China reportedly has set a goal of giving 70 percent of all children three years of prekindergarten education — far ahead of the modest one year proposed by President Obama — by the year 2020.
China is so far ahead of us... in setting goals. Come on, everybody, let's gets some more aggressive and expansive goals. Surprisingly, it's absolutely free, having goals. And in these goals, children stay in school, crime plummets, and taxes soar!

Some people criticize Obama for "moving the goal posts" about this or that, but look over there. It's the Chinese. They've got amazing goals. Okay, now you can look at Obama's goals. So modest!

ADDED: The quote in the post title is the most specious rhetoric I've seen in a long time. Who is doing the "predetermining"? We're supposed to feel that doing nothing is doing something, that our inaction is deliberate and wrongful.

"I apologize if this seems disrespectful, but if Bush is really never rescued, I'd prefer to imagine him as the hero of a Jules Verne novel..."

"... exploring the fantastical landscapes of Hollow Earth, fighting blind cave apes, and saving Theda Bara from the assassin priests of some subterranean cult."

I'd like to see the science fiction movie called "The Karst."

Where are you on the Karst map?

NPR's embarrassing headline: "In Voting Rights Arguments, Chief Justice Misconstrued Census Data."

The article is by Nina Totenberg, who presumably didn't write the headline, and it makes a somewhat abstruse point about the basis for a set of questions that the Chief Justice asked at oral argument.
Roberts' questions and conclusion appear to be taken from a census survey cited in a lower court dissent
"A lower court dissent" is a funny way to refer to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals case that is under review! Roberts pulled something out of the case that the Court is working on. Under the circumstances, it would be bizarre if the Solicitor General didn't get the reference. (Check the transcript PDF at page 32.) Tapping material in the lower court's opinion is predictable and perfectly mundane. Totenberg glosses over that to stress the data underlying the Court of Appeals judge's opinion, which, she tells us, comes from Census Bureau data that have such a wide margin of error that it doesn't really mean much. Well, if that's such an important point, why didn't the Solicitor General say that in the oral argument?! Here's what we got instead:
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: [D]o you know which State has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African American voter turnout? 


CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Massachusetts. Do you know what has the best, where African American turnout actually exceeds white turnout? Mississippi. 

GENERAL VERRILLI: Yes, Mr. Chief Justice. But Congress recognized that expressly in the findings when it reauthorized the act in 2006. It said that the first generation problems had been largely dealt with, but there persisted significant -­ 

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Which State has the greatest disparity in registration between white and African American? 

GENERAL VERRILLI: I do not know that. 

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Massachusetts. Third is Mississippi, where again the African American registration rate is higher than the white registration rate. 
Maybe saying "I do not know," Verrilli secretly meant that the Census data was so rough that no one could really "know" such facts, but the transcript shows a blank statement of lack of knowledge and an effort to shift away to the subject of what findings Congress relied on. If the statement in the dissenting opinion (written by Stephen F. Williams) was so unreliable, Verrilli should have shot it down neatly and quickly. 

He didn't. Totenberg is doing cleanup work. She went out and talked to "Census officials" who told her that "these numbers are simply not reliable for state-by-state comparisons because of the high margins of error in some states." That's useful to know, as the issue in the case has to do with how closely the Voting Right Act tracks the actual problem of voting rights violations in the states.

But "Chief Justice Misconstrued Census Data"?! Why doesn't NPR care about its reputation for journalism? What an embarrassing display of eagerness to discredit Roberts! Totenberg's article isn't about Roberts misconstruing anything. It's about the relatively low value of Census data that Judge Williams used in his dissenting opinion. If that material was so terrible, Verrilli fell short at oral argument.
ADDED: Pepperdine lawprof Derek T. Muller emails noting Totenberg's focus on 2010 census data, when the relevant data — in the Court of Appeals case and for the purposes of the 2006 reenactment — is the 2004 data: