March 16, 2013

At the Cubicle Globular Café...


... dive in.


Are you "wasting the most poignant moments of night and life"?

Well, then, come read this sentence from "The Great Gatsby" and talk to us about it — the sentence, the loneliness, the loitering, the solitary dinner:
At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others — poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner — young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.
Enchanted and haunting speak of bewitching and ghosts. The twilight — the dusk — is magical, the most poignant moments, and yet the poor young clerks throw this time away. It's now that they should be connecting with other people, but they loiter, merely waiting for it to be late enough to eat dinner. Our narrator is alone, and his loneliness is exacerbated by seeing this loneliness in other men.

But where is the pain? The word most expressive of pain is poignant, and it is the poignant part of night and life that the narrator and the ineffectual clerks do not enter. 

Rand Paul 25%, Marco Rubio 23%...

At the top of the CPAC straw poll.

Further back was Santorum in third place with 8%, then Christie at 7%, and then 2 Wisconsinites: Paul Ryan with 6% and Scott Walker with 5%.

Purchase of the day.

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by Amazon

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"If I had a St. Bernard, I'd get a home snow-maker, and all summer long..."

"... I'd make just that much snow out on the deck," said Meade this morning.


So I took this picture of Abby, the dog that is not our dog.

NYT's Gail Collins endeavors to take down Ted Cruz.

This is about Cruz's recent colloquy with Dianne Feinstein. Excerpts:
Later, Feinstein would tell CNN that she felt Cruz was being “somewhat arrogant,” which seemed like an understatement. Even in an age of political polarization, there apparently is still an unwritten rule against calling someone “a stupendously irritating twit” on national TV....

Do you think, people, that this [incessant self-reference] is a key to the stupendous impact the Tea Party continues to have on Congress, even now that it’s proved itself to be a loser when it comes to elections? If you combine a lack of a sense of humor with an absence of humility and then stir in a cup of self-righteousness, you are definitely not working on a recipe for cooperative achievement.
I want to make 5 points, briefly.

1. Somebody get Gail Collins a thesaurus. For "stupendous," try "astonishing." It's got that huffy, aghast tone you seem to be looking for. I know, "stupendous" is tempting because it gives the feeling that you're calling your target stupid, but when you find something "stupendous," you're actually confessing to stupor on your own part, and literally, if you are in a stupor, you are stupid.

2. This woman-defending-woman column ends with a recipe metaphor. Is that good gender politics? It resonates with what I think is Collins's effort to make us see this interplay between 2 U.S. Senators in terms of a man patronizing a woman.

3. Cruz's questions were about the security of our constitutional rights: Why did humor belong in that recipe?

4. Where was this "self-righteousness"? Collins's evidence is that Cruz used the phrases “My... point is," "in my opinion," “I would point out," and "In my view." This phobia about first-person-singular pronouns is silly. It's used against Obama all the time. What does Collins think of all those right-wing bloggers who will inform you about how many times Obama says "I" in a given speech? I'll bet she thinks it's... stupid. I certainly do.

5. Cruz also referred to his role as counsel in Heller (the Supreme Court's biggest 2d Amendment case) — another thing Collins considered self-referential and self-righteous. But Collins began her column building up Dianne Feinstein's stature because of her encounter with the fatally wounded Harvey Milk and George Moscone many years ago. Does personal experience lend weight to political opinion or not? Feinstein said: "I walked in, I saw people shot. I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode." That's at least as self-referential and self-righteous as Cruz's statement that he was not "unfamiliar" with Heller given that he worked on the case.

ADDED: "A recipe for cooperative achievement." Who ordered the cooperative achievement? At the gun control restaurant, Cruz folds the menu and sips his ice water.

LBJ wanted to show up at the 1968 Democratic Convention and ask for the nomination.

Newly declassified tapes reveal. This plan arose during the convention, while the big "whole world is watching" protests raged.
[LBJ] planned to leave Texas and fly into Chicago. He would then enter the convention and announce he was putting his name forward as a candidate for a second term....

[Chicago Mayor Richard] Daley assured him enough delegates would support his nomination but the plan was shelved after the Secret Service warned the president they could not guarantee his safety.
Also at that link, LBJ "orders the Nixon campaign to be placed under FBI surveillance and demands to know if Nixon is personally involved" in some dealings involving Vietnam peace talks.

"CIA begins sizing up Islamic extremists in Syria for drone strikes..."

"The strategy is part of the agency's secret contingency planning to protect the U.S. and its allies as the violence there grows."

Well, it's obviously not part of the secret contingency planning. Who knows what the secret part is? But: Get ready for the drones. We can and will take you out as you sleep in your bed at night. That's a message we're choosing to put out there.
CIA targeting officers normally assemble bits of intelligence — including agent reports, cellphone intercepts, video footage, public records, tips from foreign spy services — to create folders known as "targeting packages," for a variety of reasons....

Identifying possible threats in Syria would be "a logical step if the policy community sends a signal that, 'Hey, you guys might want to think about how you would respond to a possible request for plans about how you would thin the herd of the future insurgency,'" said a former CIA officer with experience in the Middle East.

Tourist with a Buddha tattoo barred from Sri Lanka.

Some Brit was deemed too disrespectful, not just because of the tattoo, but because when he was asked about it, he spoke "very disrespectfully."

Irrelevant factoid: As I typed the word "Buddha" just now, the word "Buddha" came up in the song I was listening to. There's Judy Garland taking Buddha by the hand.... Feel free to get a tattoo of that.

ADDED: More detail here.
"As soon as he saw it the chief officer went crazy. You could see it on his face, he looked really angry and said I would have to go back to London," [Antony] Ratcliffe told the BBC....

"I like the artwork in tattoos obviously and, due to my belief in Buddhist philosophy which I have followed for many years, I thought a quality tattoo of the Buddha was rather apt.... The whole experience has been a shock - it has been upsetting and a waste of my time. I'm not taking it further, but when I saw they had accused me of speaking disrespectfully about Buddhism, I had to put my side of the story"....

"Ultra-secret national security letters that come with a gag order on the recipient are an unconstitutional impingement on free speech..."

"... a federal judge in California ruled in a decision released Friday."
[An unnamed] telecommunications company received [an] ultra-secret demand letter in 2011 from the FBI seeking information about a customer or customers. The company took the extraordinary and rare step of challenging the underlying authority of the National Security Letter, as well as the legitimacy of the gag order that came with it....

After the telecom challenged the NSL, the Justice Department took its own extraordinary measure and sued the company, arguing in court documents that the company was violating the law by challenging its authority....

University of Colorado appoints a "Visiting scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy."

Is this a good thing?
While [Steven Hayward's] presence will provide some additional viewpoint diversity on the Colorado campus, it also smacks of the sort of tokenism many on the Right condemn.  Peter Lawler sees the appointment as “conservative affirmative action” and Max Boot fears this sort of thing will encourage the further academic ghettoization of conservative thought.... Half of the country may have right-of-center views, but a single token is supposed to constitute balance?  How sad is it that a major university would have to create a position like this to ensure a minimal range of viewpoint diversity on campus.  Through all this, Hayward is keeping things in perspective.

"The 9 Most Outraged FCC Complaints About Beyoncé At The Super Bowl."

"Remember when she 'showed her vaginal area' and 'simulated sex for 13 minutes'? These people do, and they are FURIOUS."

"Democrats Try And Fail To Catch Conservatives Cheering Ashley Judd's On-Screen Death."

"Judd supporters hoped her on-screen death would make for some viral video when played before the audience at annual conservative gathering, and promised BuzzFeed a recording of the event, however it came out..."

Incredibly lame, but "Democrats"... which "Democrats"?

But kudos to Buzzfeed for getting people to link to a story about nothing happening. Think of all the times various politicos are there, ready to catch things that can be used against the other side. All the gotchas should be massively diluted by all the times nothing happened. Let this one nothing stand as a reminder of all the nothings in the mix.

"Scott Walker opens up about White House ambitions."

Headline at Politico. Walker was pushed on the question because he visited Iowa. His response was: "I guess the only thing I’d say is I’m not ruling it out."

He's got to win a second term as governor first (in 2014). Do people hold that against a governor — the anticipation that he's going to go off running for President? Or do they kind of like it? Obviously, his opponents will use it against him. They'll use anything against him.
... Walker would begin the early jockeying of the 2016 race without the buzz of a Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or mega-fundraising base of a Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He’ll need to work the cattle call and TV talk show circuit hard to win support....
Politico observes that Walker is "a white male at a time when some Republicans think they’re all but doomed if they don’t add some diversity to their ticket in 2016." Walker's response:

March 15, 2013

"You never hear anyone say they used to support it, but have seen the light..."

"... and now realize it's the wrong thing to do."

"Hard to mock Santorum’s visibly emotional opening about his nephew’s illness and death."

"So I won’t."

Project Abby.



"How should I respond when svelte friends pat their (small or nonexistent) bellies and announce they’re dieting to get rid of their 'belly pooch'?"

Question for an advice columnist.

Come on. This one is easy. Hijack the conversation into the topic of the word "pooch" to refer to their belly. That's such a goofball, infantile way to talk — way more annoying than the fact that they are aggressively pursuing their ideal body image. The subject of language has a little substance to it. The life of the mind! That's the thing. Let them take care of their bodies on their own time. Time spent with you should tinge toward the intellectual.

Purchase of the day.

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Justified Season 4, Ep. 10 "Get Drew" (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $0.19)

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Did Romney say anything interesting at CPAC?

I really don't see how he could.

"The 16th-century French poet Jean Daurat is generally credited with (or: blamed for) the resurrection" of "the claque."

"He bought a bunch of tickets to his own plays, handing them out to people who promised to applaud at the end of the performances."
By the early 1820s, claques had become institutionalized, with an agency in Paris specializing in the distribution of the shills' services. (In Urban Government and the Rise of the French City, the historian William B. Cohen describes the intricate price lists these faux flatterers would hand out to would-be patrons: polite clapping would cost this many francs, enthusiastic applause would cost this many, heckles directed at a competitor would cost this many.)

The claque also became categorized: There were the rieurs ("laughers"), who would laugh loudly at the jokes; the pleureurs ("criers"), who'd feign tears in reaction to performances; the commissaires ("officers"), who would learn a play or a piece of music by heart and then call attention to its best parts; the chatouilleurs ("ticklers"), who'd keep the audience in a good mood, in the manner of later drink minimums; and the bisseurs ("encore-ers"), who'd request encore performances the first one having been, obviously, so delightful.

"Men Who Idealize Large Breasts Are More Likely Hostile Toward Women."

"... It's the first study to make these associations. Which is interesting, though the explanations Swami and Tovée posit are complex and hypothetical; a slurry of power, sexuality, and gender identity."

Nothing like a complex slurry to start a conversation. You go first. No. Wait. I'll go first. The men — all white Brits — were shown 5 female images, all the same except for breast size. The most common answer was to say that the one in the middle was the best. James Hamblin, the Atlantic's Health editor, takes that to mean that "The most-preferred breast size is 'medium.'" They were taking a science-y survey, so deference to authority and desire to be socially acceptable would be an influence along with real-world sexual preference. These same men were tested on:
Attitudes Toward Women Scale (sample prompt: ''Intoxication among women is worse than intoxication among men.'')
Hostility Towards Women Scale (sample prompt: ''I feel that many times women flirt with men just to tease them or hurt them.")
Benevolent Sexism subscale of the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory (sample prompt: "Women, as compared to men, tend to have a more refined sense of culture and good taste.")
The scientists found "men who more strongly endorsed benevolently sexist attitudes toward women, who more strongly objectified women, and who were more hostile toward women idealized a large female breast size." Were these men really the ones who "idealized a large female breast size," or were they simply the ones who didn't feel as strongly compelled to moderate their opinions to conform to the perceived demands of polite society?

Here's the study, ludicrously titled "Men’s Oppressive Beliefs Predict Their Breast Size Preferences in Women."

"Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody?"

How confident are you? Very confident? That's the highest one.

"I've got it: Nothing. It's about nothing."

We will make a film about nothing:

You see the significance?

Not to be confused with: "What's the show about?"/"It's about nothing." The "Seinfeld" episode "The Pitch" was originally broadcast in September 1992. Over 20 years ago. I know, old. But the film clip above, is from 1966. The movie is "After the Fox" (or "Caccia alla volpe"), with Peter Sellers as The Fox, a master of crime and disguise, who is pretending to be the film director Federico Fabrizi (presumably Federico Fellini). That's Victor Mature as the Marcello Mastroianni-type actor. The director is Vittorio De Sica, oddly enough, and Neil Simon wrote the screenplay.

I was really looking for another clip from "After the Fox," where Sellers is directing Mature in another scene in the criminal scheme he's convinced everyone is a real movie. It's a dream sequence, and Sellers is importuning Mature — in an Italian accent — with "You are running... running!"

I was thinking of that line because "You are running... running!" is my title for this little movie I just made. Check it out:

Commentary by photography, from Drudge.

Pithily visual:

Here are the links:
Emmitt Smith: New Safety Rule Means NFL Has 'Lost Its Mind'...
Rubio mocks: 'Take on tackler with chest? #c'monman'...
League Drug-Tests Redskins QB At Grandmother's Home...

"Psychiatric Help 5¢."

Chip Ahoy riffs on that "frank and candid exchange of ideas" photograph we were talking about yesterday.

The media see the Pope as "a Supreme Court justice that they can't turn."

"They see the pope as a Supreme Court justice they can't intimidate. The Supreme Court scares the heck out of the left because to them it's infallible. Now, they succeeded. Obama and the left somehow succeeded in turning John Roberts when it came to the constitutionality of Obamacare, but they can't turn the pope."

Said Rush Limbaugh, yesterday, after playing a hilarious audio montage of media characters — Chris Cuomo of CNN, Shannon Bream of Fox, Erin Burnett, Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN Español, Gwen Ifill, Allen Pizzey of CBS — reacting to the new Pope.
CUOMO: Where is Pope Francis on the issues that matter most, issues about contraception, women priests?

BREAM: Pope Francis is staunchly orthodox on the issues of abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage.

BURNETT: He opposed same-sex marriage in Argentina. He opposed free contraception.

LOPEZ: He follows a conservative line. He opposes, uh, same-sex marriages. He is conservative on birth control.

PIERS MORGAN: He is known to be, duh, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR: He has been against contraception. He's been against marriage equality.

PIZZEY: ...a conservative and opposes abortion!

IFILL: So this is not a pope or a papacy we were gonna see any kind of change when it comes to things like abortion or gay marriage.
They don't seem like they are clowning, though Piers Morgan has the wit to say "duh."

Rob Portman has "come to believe" in gay marriage now that he has a personal interest in that matter.

What's his personal interest? Here's what he says:
As a congressman, and more recently as a senator, I opposed marriage for same-sex couples. Then something happened that led me to think through my position in a much deeper way.

Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay....

At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.

I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God....
Now, I assume his actual personal interest is in his political career. Previously, he'd determined that the most advantageous position is to say marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman, but seeing the intensity of the younger generation's enthusiasm for same-sex marriage, he's getting out in front of the issue for 2016 election purposes.

I guess he can't just say that. That would be honest, but he needs to be deepin a much deeper way. Yet what is this deepness? He claims deepness because, before, gay marriage was only something that affected people outside his family, now it affects his own son. Why is that supposed to be deep? I consider it shallow — shallow in a way that ought to disqualify a person from representing the general populace.

Imagine if he announced as a general principle: When governmental policies affects close intimates of mine, I will reframe my positions so that their interests are served. 

Maybe you are about to say, hey, Althouse, you hypocrite, you have a gay son and you support gay marriage. I have supported same-sex marriage since I first heard about it, which was before I found out my younger son is gay, and I have written 355 posts on gay marriage. See if you can find one that exploits this personal fact about me. I don't think you can. It's an argument I avoid. It offends my principles.

But that doesn't mean it's not a persuasive argument. It shouldn't be persuasive, rationally, but it hits people emotionally, and that's what Rob Portman is trying to do. A presidential candidate needs to feel like a real and trustworthy human being, and this drama of struggling with religion and love of family is the sort of thing that works.

I would not be a good politician. You have to feel reasonably comfortable with bullshit. I'm not saying you need to be a big old liar. But you must take policy positions that will appeal to voters and to articulate reasons that feel right to them. That's all Rob Portman is doing here. He's in the politician zone, and we'll see how he does.  I wish him well.

ADDED: Imagine a politician switching from a pro-life to a pro-choice choice position and writing an op-ed saying that he saw things a different way after his own daughter got pregnant.

March 14, 2013

"Infants dislike, may want to harm those different from themselves: study."

"Using puppets, researchers found the babies’ 'friends' liked the same food. Enemies, meanwhile, were those puppets who liked a different food. A second puppet would then help, harm or act neutrally toward the original puppets. The babies 'far preferred' the puppets that harmed the puppets with different tastes than theirs."
“One baby even planted a kiss on the puppet she liked,” the Canadian news source reported.
The little devils!

"People like the idea of truth. That's one of the things that they believe, that they love truth."

"But they don't really love truth. It's not this unconditional love."

Ted Cruz vs. Dianne Feinstein.

Iditarod pics.


"Biden’s office forces reporter to delete photos."

"They apologized after the fact. The reporter should also apologize — for complying, instead of saying 'fuck off, I’m a reporter.'"

"The moment that hamster was handed off to a screaming girl in a harsh, frenzied environment was likely the moment it gazed at the short path to its doom."

Predicted doom met.

"I don't want to just say football players, but all young males — we're failing somewhere if they think this is the norm."

"And I'm not just blaming the boys, either. See, I think they have a sense of, nothing's going to happen, or no holds barred, 'We can do what we want.' "

In Steubenville, Ohio.

What a "very frank and candid exchange of ideas" actually looks like.

The quote is from Boehner, whom you can see in this twitpic from Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz:

Will they ever see eye to eye? Unlikely!

Pope Francis looks like...

... Ed Wynn!

A lovable face, I think. Something very sweet about it. Ed Wynn's real name was Isaiah Edwin Leopold. He made the middle name — we're told — into his whole name "to save his family the embarrassment of having a lowly comedian as a relative." You may remember him from the "Twilight Zone" episode "Ninety Years Without Slumbering" — about an old man who believed he would die if his clock stopped. Can you remember whether the clock stops and, if so, whether the man dies?

Getting the big picture.

That's "Today's featured picture" on Wikipedia's main page:
The Great Picture is a 32-by-111-foot (9.8 by 34 m) photograph on muslin taken to mark the end of 165 years of film/chemistry-based photography and the start of the age of digital photography. It was taken by converting an old hangar into a pinhole camera.
Nice choice of sublinks. Don't bother with "photography" or "film," but do take us to muslin and hangar and pinhole camera

"Michelle makes me tidy up, admits messy President Obama."

Actual headline at The NY Post for an article about how the First Lady is on the cover of Vogue again.
“I had this little bachelor apartment that Michelle refused to stay in because she thought it was a little, uh . . . you know, pizza boxes everywhere... When she came, I had to get her a hotel room.”
That's a very casual revelation that she would have slept overnight with him if only he'd had a nicer looking place. There's zero regard for the folks in this country (and world) who think you shouldn't have sex until you're married. And he's going out of his way to make her sound snooty. I had to get her a hotel room.
“And what Michelle has done is to remind me every day of the virtues of order,” the chief executive said. “Being on time. Hanging up your clothes. Being intentional about planning time with your kids.”
Why would a man say that about his wife? It makes it sound like they have a mother-and-son relationship. And what woman wants to be thought of as a stickler for order? It's not sexy, and it's not  respectful. Plus, from a political standpoint, it sounds fascist, and it prompts us to think about her efforts to tell us what we're allowed to eat. Does she care about our health, or is it — as the right-wingers like to say — all about control?
He added, “We’re very different people, and some of that’s temperamental, some of it is how we grew up. Michelle grew up in a model nuclear family: mom, dad, brother. I had this far-flung family — father left at a very young age, a stepfather who ended up passing away as well. My mother was this wonderful spirit, and she was adventurous but not always very well organized.”
So your wife is the mother you never had, and your mother sounds like the sex partner an adult male would want!
“Ninety percent of our conversation is about these girls: What are they doing? And who’s got what practice? And what birthday party is coming up? And did we get a gift for this person?” the first lady said.
90%? If true, that's terrible. Where is their relationship as adults? I have trouble believing it's true, since I assume Michelle has people to handle the girls' social schedule and gift-buying. Whether it's true or not, it's a choice to present us with this picture of their relationship, all about fussy household details, short on wide-ranging conversation, and utterly unsexy. It's in Vogue, so it must be what they think women want to hear. They must think women love the idea of a man tamed by his woman. Or maybe they are revealing how they think ordinary couples behave and they're posing as just like you.
President Obama admitted that he benefited politically coming into the public’s eye as a young parent. He and Michelle looked like any other husband and wife struggling to make ends meet:
“We had to figure out how to make a mortgage, payin’ the bills, goin’ to Target, and freakin’ out when . . . the woman who’s looking after your girls while Michelle’s working suddenly decides she’s quittin’.”
You've got to give him some credit for genuineness amid the fakery. He admits he's using this material for political benefit, and the pose is so exaggerated that only a nitwit would fail to see that it's posing. In that sense, we can see that he is an ordinary guy... if the ordinary guy is a self-advantaging faker. But is that what women want? A man who exploits his family life for careerist goals?

"Let's take a look at the prehistory of *cough*-style asterisking in comic strips..."

"... and the more recent usage as a form of 'cyberpragmatics.'"

"Pope Francis put his humility on display during his first day as pontiff Thursday, stopping by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself..."

Interesting phrase from the Associated Press: "put his humility on display." I was feeling warm-hearted about the Pope's going back to the hotel to get his luggage and pay the bill, but that phrase had a distancing effect. So he made a show of humility.

So how does the AP go about informing us that the Pope only has one lung? "Pope's 1 Lung Shouldn't Affect Duties." Is that casting skepticism on his capacity for the work — which AP tells us includes "daunting challenges ahead ranging from the church sex abuse scandal to reinvigorating the flock"?

By the way, just in terms of usage, what do you think of "Pope's 1 Lung Shouldn't Affect Duties." Isn't it the lack of lung #2 that's the problem? Suggested correction: Pope's 1-Lungedness Shouldn't Affect Duties.

March 13, 2013

At the Dog-Tired Café...


... you can flop anywhere you want.

And the new Pope is...


UPDATE: The first American Pope. The South American Bergoglio.

AND: Pope Francis... Wikipedia page established.
He consistently preaches a message of compassion towards the poor, but somewho? observers would like him to place a greater emphasis on issues of social justice. Rather than articulating positions on matters of political economy, Bergoglio prefers to emphasize spirituality and holiness, believing that this will naturally lead to greater concern for the suffering of the poor. He has, however, voiced support for social programs, and publicly challenged free-market policies.

"Our idea of stress — as a personal, internal problem — is a recent invention."

An interview with Dana Becker (whose new book is "One Nation Under Stress: The Trouble with Stress as an Idea"):
For instance... [t]here's a huge number of articles about working women's stress, and a lot of advice on what we should do. You know, we should eat more kale, we should do yoga, we should exercise, we should make more to-do lists. 
Sounds stressful!
So there's a primarily middle-class kind of solution or these solutions to what we see as the, quote, 'stress' problem today.

But unfortunately, that draws us into thinking more about how stress is going to affect, for instance, our health, or our psychological health, than it does to think about, say, the fact that family and medical leave is still unpaid, that the school day is shorter than the work day is, that we still are a society that essentially devalues care giving, that workplace policies haven't kept pace with dual-career families.
So she's saying the "stress" idea makes people think in terms of personal well-being and responsibility instead of agitating for social and political reforms? Sorry, but I think looking after yourself is less stressful than thinking the whole world needs changing.

But there is a lot of inanity around the idea of "stress" these days, especially when the solutions seem like new doses of the problem. Must scamper over to yoga class and take orders about what positions to put one's body in. Do this. Now, do that. Everything's organized. So many tasks. Whatever happened to leisure and unplanned playtime? These "stress" people seem so dull.

Purchase of the day.

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Thanks to everyone who made a purchase through the portal - for your safeness, effectiveness, humaneness, and for controlling your barkiness.

A forest year.

Samuel Orr made this from 40,000 photographs:
"The camera was set to snap a photo between once every 10 seconds and once every 10 minutes at certain key times of the year (snowfall, spring, fall colors)."

"The disproportionate power enjoyed in the Senate by small states is playing a growing role in the political dynamic..."

The equal representation of the states in the U.S. Senate is really old news, so what's this about? Large states have grown more than small states in recent years. And large states have become "more urban and liberal," with smaller states "remaining rural and conservative."
Frances E. Lee, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said the problem was as real as the solution elusive, adding that she and other scholars have tried without success to find a contemporary reason to exempt the Senate from the usual rules of granting citizens an equal voice in their government. “I can’t think of any way to justify it based on democratic principles,” Professor Lee said.

"For me, it took 15 years, a great love and a lot of travel to get rid of all the inessential things I had collected..."

"... and live a bigger, better, richer life with less."

"Why Aren’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality?"

Think Progress tells us it's something called "system justification":
[P]eople are “motivated to defend, bolster, and rationalize the social systems that affect them — to see the status quo as good, fair, legitimate, and desirable,” because it serves their own internal needs and desires as humans. It helps them “manage uncertainty and threat and smooth out social relationships,” and “enables people to cope with and feel better about the societal status quo and their place in it” ....

[T]here’s a powerful need in our own lives to reduce difficult feelings and anxieties when confronting the limitations of our social and economic order. 
It's true that people seek meaning in whatever exists. Everything happens for a reason. God has a plan. It's for the best. We want to like what we must deal with. It's a life skill. People who lack it are depressed. But we should also develop our critical thinking. That doesn't mean that if only we could think critically we'd get fired up about wealth inequality. Just because we're motivated to believe that the status quo is good doesn't mean the status quo isn't good. The fact that something currently exists is some evidence that it works better than untried, untested alternatives.
[C]hronically high system-justifiers, such as political conservatives, are happier (as measured in terms of subjective well-being) than are chronically low system-justifiers, such as liberals, leftists, and others who are more troubled by the degree of social and economic inequality in our society. 
Given that the left position is inherently depressive, it's interesting that showbiz folk have succeeded in making it feel good to be left-wing.

The Itch and How to Scratch It.

(Abby, the St. Bernard, just now.)

"The venomous swish of skirt" who occupies The Blue House

A sexist taunt from North Korea.

AND: "This is how Americans live today."

Breitbart wants to go after news outlets "that hide behind this patina of entertainment in order to promote a left-wing agenda."

Says Ben Shapiro, who's especially eager to "smack Politico across the face." Of course, exposing the bias in reporting that might be mistaken for neutral is what the internet is for. One must pick apart the rhetoric of others.

It can get tedious, however, to just be saying over and over that Politico or Buzzfeed leans left. Or, as they say at the right-leaning Breitbart promotes a left-wing agenda. Please. They are not that exciting. They are much more lame and flabby than that. Don't accidentally compliment them. Agenda! It sounds so officious.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "agenda" as "A campaign, programme, or plan of action arising from a set of underlying principles or motives. Hence: the underlying intentions or motives of a particular person or group."
1976   Newsweek 19 Apr. 23/1   Their hope is that the party..would opt for youth and freshness. ‘Those folks who have their own agenda for Hubert underestimate Jerry Brown’, says one California politician....
1991   C. Paglia Sex, Art, & Amer. Culture (1992) 73   That girl had her own agenda..trying to glom onto the Kennedy glamour!
That's not a reference to Marilyn Monroe, by the way. After making an appearance in post #1 of the day, Marilyn would seem magical is she popped up here too, but Camille Paglia was talking about the William Kennedy Smith rape trial.

And can you hide behind a "patina"? The OED defines "patina" as "A thin coating or layer; spec. an incrustation on the surface of metal or stone, usually as a result of an extended period of weathering or burial; a green or bluish-green film produced naturally or artificially by oxidation on the surface of bronze and copper, consisting mainly of basic copper sulphate."
1748 H. Walpole Let. 6 Oct. in Corr. (1974) XXXVII. 297, I wish you could see him making squibs.., and bronzed over with a patina of gunpowder.
One must pick apart the rhetoric of others.

And speaking of neutrality and smacking in the face... the Althouse blog agenda is cruel neutrality.

Sonia Sotomayor and Rita Moreno — on stage together for 90 minutes.

One's a 58-year-old Supreme Court Justice, the other's the 81-year-old actress who was in "West Side Story," but put them together and you've got 2 Latinas. It's a show! Maybe we can find some federal judge with Greek ancestry to do a show with George Chakiris....

He's dreamy. And only 78.

What do you ask them? George, how did you get your hair to look so great? Were you really one of the dancers in Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" routine? What did you and Marilyn gossip about?

Oh, but wait. That's not the show. The show is Sonia and Rita!
“I’m a raucous Puerto Rican!” she told the room. “I like to sing, I like to dance, I like to drink, I like to get buzzed.”
Guess which she? Hint: She had sex with Marlon Brando. 

March 12, 2013

The Alpha and the Omega.

The Abby and the Zeus. Abby is a 17-week-old St. Bernard, and Zeus is a 6-year-old Labrador Retriever. They come from different neighbors, and in our house, we try to apply the Principles of Dog, which — I'm told — do not include equality.

ADDED: Meade warns me that Abby might chew my shoes, and that may draw your attention to these UGG slippers and these Patagonia shoes.

"The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1471."

"He called it Formosa ('beautiful [isle]', a name later applied to Taiwan), but it quickly took on the name of its European discoverer, albeit spelt 'Fernando Po.' The islands of Fernando Po and Annobón were colonized by the Portuguese in 1474.... From 1827 to 1843, Britain established a base on the island to combat the slave trade."

In Equatorial Guinea, today's "History of" country.

"I remember stepping inside and being blown away by the birds."

"They were gorgeous! And the show itself—the people, the smell, the sounds, the camaraderie of the shows and the beauty of the birds—who knew there were so many varieties of chickens beyond what you think about when they’re on your dinner plate?"

"Blogress Ann Althouse, a driven woman who is no longer young, gets to the heart of the matter..."

Says James Taranto.

"While they remembered her sincere Christian beliefs, some wondered whether Victoria Jackson, Tea Partier, was some sort of Andy Kaufman-style performance art."

"'A lot of people in show business think I’ll pull off my mask and say, "Ha-ha! I tricked you! Of course I won’t be a stupid conservative Christian,"' says Jackson."
“She seems to take it seriously while not taking it that seriously,” says Sweeney Blum. “She clearly likes the laughs and she likes getting the laughs enough that she doesn’t mind being laughed at, while at the same time, she truly seems to like the things she’s saying. Every time I have an encounter with Victoria, I have so much thinking to do afterwards.”

A non-"Gatsby" sentence.

You know I have this "Gatsby" project where I blog a single sentence — out of context — from "The Great Gatsby" and we analyze it however we want — its narrative arc, its language, its weirdness, our own weirdness, whatever. I'm starting a new thing — we'll see what happens with this — where I give you a sentence from something else I'm reading. I'm not sure what kinds of sentence will make it into this project, but I'm going to start with this strikingly long sentence...

...from a writer I greatly admire, David Rakoff. The book is "Half Empty":
Should you happen to be possessed of a certain verbal acuity coupled with a relentless, hair-trigger humor and surface cheer spackling over a chronic melancholia and loneliness — a grotesquely caricatured version of your deepest Self which you trot out at the slightest provocation to endearing and glib comic effect, thus rendering you the kind of fellow who is beloved by all yet loved by none, all of it to distract, however fleetingly, from the cold and dead-faced truth that with each passing year you face the unavoidable certainty of a solitary future in which you will perish one day while vainly attempting the Heimlich maneuver on yourself over the back of a kitchen chair — then this confirmation that you have triumphed again and managed to gull yet another mark, except this time it was the one person you’d hoped might be immune to your ever-creakier, puddle-shallow, sideshow-barker variation on “adorable,” even though you’d been launching this campaign weekly with a single-minded concentration from day one… well, it conjures up feelings that are best described as mixed, to say the least.

Headline at a right-wing news site: "Feds Spend $1.5 Million to Study Why Lesbians Are Fat."

It's pretty obvious that they want you to think mean thoughts about lesbians and federal spending.

A quote from from "a description of the grant":
It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic.... In stark contrast, among men, heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males.
So it's also a study of why straight men are fat!

Do you oppose funding studies of why people get fat? It's obviously a big health problem that is going to cost the public billions/trillions of dollars in the future. If different subgroups of people have this problem in drastically different proportions, there's something to learn, is there not?

Or do you think you already know? What is your seat-of-the-pants folk wisdom on the subject — that those who want to be sexually appealing to males must deal with the way males sexuality is visually fixated?

We've been focusing on gay rights so much in recent years that we may tend to lump lesbians and gay men together. Once the legal rights are established — and Americans get used to that — the differences may become more apparent. These 2 groups may be more different from each other — in some respects — than they are from heterosexual males and females.

But maybe it will be politically incorrect to talk about that. If "lesbians are fat" is the beginning of this new conversation, I'm not picturing it going well at all. Let's see how you handle this in the comments. I'm predicting disaster. Prove me wrong!

AND: For those of you in the comments who are saying we already know why people are fat, they're eating too much — you'd better not be the same commenters who wrote the 218 comments pushing me back on my 2-months-ago post "Why are you fat?" Because that would be annoying.

Fictional characters with Wikipedia pages written almost like the pages of real people.

Here's an example:
Ethel Roberta Louise Mae Mertz (née Potter) is one of the four main fictional characters in the highly popular 1950s American television sitcom I Love Lucy, played by Vivian Vance....
Born around 1905 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where her father, Will Potter, owned a sweet shop and soda fountain with the slogan "You can lick our cones, but you can't beat our sodas!" Ethel has had a career in music and acting, yet got her start at Albuquerque's Little Theater, singing her signature number "Shortnin' Bread". A flapper in the 1920s, she met and married Fred Mertz either in 1933 (episode #2) or 1927 (episode #42)... Their wedding anniversary date is May 3rd (episode #121). After eloping (episode #113 - "Ethel's Hometown") Ethel worked in vaudeville with Fred before settling down and purchasing their own brownstone apartment building in New York City, containing the apartment they rent to Ricky and Lucy. ...
She has a fine soprano voice, among other artistic talents, but unlike Lucy is now unambitious and content as a housewife and landlady. Somewhat lonely, she is devoted to Lucy and her family. Despite her commonsense outlook, she is often fascinated by the possibilities for excitement opened up by Lucy's mad schemes. Although continually complaining about Fred's penny-pinching and other faults, she defers to him far more than Lucy does to Ricky....
Now, this article is is flagged with an exclamation mark and "This television-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style." Going to the link, I see:

"The neocons are paranoid. The neocons are paranoid because Rand Paul comes from his father's gene pool."

"This isolationist wing is worried about maybe there's something more going on here than simply opposing drone strikes. There's all kinds of ramifications. Well, they might think he's a kook, but they're worried that he's a kook that nobody thinks is a kook, and so they'll follow him. He's a stealth kook."

Purchase of the day.

From the March 11, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

"Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History", Updated and Expanded Edition [Hardcover] William Safire (Editor) (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $2.38)

... and 85 other items purchased — at no additional cost to the buyers — through the Althouse Amazon portal.

Hey, thanks for looking the blogger over and for clicking through her portal.

"It's like a videogame. I have such a competitive personality, so I'm going to beat these people today."

Says Carrie Mundy, "a stay-at-home mom and photographer in San Diego [who] bought her Fitbit in February."
She says she is regularly hitting 15,000 steps a day and has already lost 4½ pounds. To accumulate more steps, the 36-year-old says she walks down every aisle in the grocery store and makes extra trips back and forth when folding and putting away her laundry.

Ms. Mundy says her Fitbit also motivates her to get out and walk. "I'm constantly chasing these two people who I haven't caught up to," she says, referring to two friends whose total number of steps she can view on her device's display screen.
Is this good, because you can keep score and exploit the mental energy that comes from seeing something that you want to do as a game? Or is it bad, because natural life is replaced by game playing? Where's the joy? Should you be walking down every aisle in the store to rack up more steps on some electronic device? Do you lose the normal motivation for doing things? When is an electronic device cool and when is it making you weird in a way that would cause you to seek treatment if you did these things without the device?

ADDED: If you want this device, here it is.

"Every conclave... is a unique microculture, and you can’t predict what will happen within it simply by reading the pre-conclave tea leaves."

"Things happen inside conclaves, away from the world and the buzz, that can shape papal elections — and pontificates — in surprising ways."

New U.S. News rankings.

Read, emote, carp.

ADDED: From Above the Law:
For better or for worse, these rankings set the presumptions of law school effectiveness for the next year. Students will overwhelmingly go to the best school that they can get into on this list, regardless of region or cost. Students who don’t go to the best ranked school they can get into will expect generous scholarship packages from lower ranked schools, meaning that students with worse starting credentials will end up subsidizing students with better credentials.
This makes it painful if the school you picked because of its rank drops below the school you rejected. Of course, it's self-inflicted pain. No one made you rely on the rankings, and you knew the rankings would change every year. Imagine if you picked Stanford over Harvard. Suddenly, you should have picked Harvard over Stanford. (Stanford and Harvard are now tied at #2. Last year, Stanford had the 2 position and Harvard was 3.)

Here are the rankings by "peer reputation," which are preferred by those at schools who do better by this metric, which is based on a survey of "law school deans, deans of academic affairs, chairs of faculty appointments, and the most recently tenured faculty members [who] were asked to rate programs on a scale from marginal (1) to outstanding (5). Those individuals who did not know enough about a school to evaluate it fairly were asked to mark 'don't know.'" Think that's better than the hard variables like the LSATs and GPAs of the students?

March 11, 2013

At the Orange O Café...


... let me roll it.

"The mouth was wide open and ripped at the corners..."

"... as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long."

A garish image of death... in today's ripped-out-of-context sentence from "The Great Gatsby."

We picture the soul tearing out of the body. And the grisly, horrible corpse. Is it laughing at us?

"Although often thought of as the most prestigious beat in political journalism, the White House is increasingly seen as a newsless land of 'stenographers'..."

"... a dead end for young, ambitious reporters hoping to carve out a niche, and a constant target of criticism by the partisan public. Veteran members of the White House press corps bristle at the criticisms, even as they acknowledge the beat has lost some of its allure as the obstacles have increased."


Pedro de Alvarado "named the district for El Salvador ('The Savior') and was appointed its first governor..."

"... a position he held until his death in 1541. The area was under the authority of a short-lived Audiencia of Panama from 1538 to 1543, when most of Central America was placed under a new Audiencia of Guatemala.... In 1786, the Republic of El Salvador, which previously had been broken up into many corregimientos, was transformed into an intendancy, as part of the Bourbon Reforms..."

In El Salvador, today's "History of" country.

"OK, I’m an evil person — and my scheming has paid off."

Says Paul Krugman.

Rand Paul made being against the drones... cool.

Why Buddhism? Why truth? Why children?

I challenge Bob Wright about the way Westerners indulge in Buddhism and a few other things:

"See? He wants you to like him, people."

Elisabeth Hasselbeck unfired.

Or... particularly false story refuted.

And speaking of the problem of what city people are drinking...

"Chinese authorities said they found more than 3,300 dead pigs in a river that supplies water to Shanghai.... Authorities had little immediate explanation on how so many dead pigs ended up the river or what killed them. Pork is China's primary meat and China's around half a billion pigs often live in conditions ripe for spreading disease. One industry expert said the mass deaths indicated a disease outbreak, possibly on a single farm."

Bloomberg's ban on big sodas is "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences."

"The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole…. the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule."

Says the state court judge.

I love the fashion!

Great colors!

"Don't panic."

The Google doodle.

(Explained here.)

Grand Valley State University pays $40,000 to settle lawsuit over a student's emotional-support guinea pig.

Even though the university had allowed the student — because of her depression — to keep the rodent in the otherwise pet-free dorm, the restriction on bringing it to classes and into the food-service places was, she argued, a failure to make reasonable accommodations.

If you're trying to decide what to complain about here, the salient fact is that the university settled. 

As for the psychological benefits of carrying a rodent to school, I think about the young Keith Richards:
For companionship I kept pets. I had a cat and a mouse, Gladys. I would bring her to school and have a chat in the French lesson when it got boring. I'd feed her my dinner and lunch, and I'd come home with a pocketful of mouse shit. Mouse shit doesn't matter. It comes out in hardened pellets, there's no pong involved, it's not squidgy or anything like that. You just empty you pockets and out come these pellets. Gladys was true and trusted. She very rarely poked her head out of the pocket and exposed herself to instant death.

"Rand Paul's 2016 presidential chances are better than most people realize."

Harry J. Enten analyzes the odds:
Paul the elder never won a statewide popular vote in a primary or general election. Ron Paul has his base, but never could really reach beyond it. His son, Rand, is simply a better politician. The one thing that Ron did have was an organization set up to help him get votes in the early states. He got 21% of the vote in Iowa and 23% in New Hampshire in 2012.

Rand, in my opinion, will likely inherit much of his father's organization. Assume that can give him 21% of the vote in Iowa and 23% of the vote in New Hampshire. It's quite possible that only high 20s are needed to win both states. One has to think that given Rand's political abilities, which his father failed to posses, he can win that extra 5% of the vote in each state to put him over the top.

Rand Paul winning either Iowa or New Hampshire, let alone both, would make him a big time power player for the 2016 primary season. It might even put him in a position to, dare I say, win the nomination.
Of course, the GOP seems unable to resist handing the nomination to the next establishment candidate in line. But who would that person be in 2016? It would need to be someone who ran before and seems pretty bland and moderate. Is there anyone like that hanging around right now? Paul Ryan seems insufficiently old. Jeb Bush? Oh, my lord, the answer is Jeb Bush.

"It is a crime that officially does not exist, because it’s not on the books."

Said the Rev. Eugene Rivers of the Youth Violence Reduction Task Force.

"The Sunshine State, already home to man-eating sinkholes, invading Burmese pythons, swarming sharks, tropical storms and other disasters..."

"... can expect to see an explosion of shaggy-haired gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata), a type of giant mosquito...."
"It's about 20 times bigger than the sort of typical, Florida mosquito that you find... And it's mean, and it goes after people, and it bites, and it hurts."...

The term "gallinipper" isn't recognized by most entomologists, but over the past century, the word — and the insect — entered popular legend through Southern folktales, minstrel shows and blues songs....

The earliest description of the pest comes from 1897 by a writer who called the insect "the shyest, slyest, meanest and most venomous of them all."
"Gallinipper" is in the Oxford English Dictionary, meaning "A large mosquito." Three old examples are given:
1818 Sporting Mag. 1 261 Smaller flies from the gallinipper to the moschetto, began to muster in all directions.
1838 T. C. Haliburton Clockmaker 2nd Ser. iii, He jump'd up..a snappin' of his fingers, as if he wor bit by a galley-nipper.
1867 A. L. Adams Wanderings Naturalist India 59 That prince of gallynippers, the sandfly, whose bite produces a painful..swelling.
This reminds me... whatever happened to killer bees?

And if gallinippers are so horrible, why does Missouri have a Gallinipper Creek State Wildlife Area?

"Awful online comments hurt understanding of news, reports local news site filled with awful online comments."

Interview with the UW scientist whose report on the effect of nasty online comments got mocked in The A.V. Report.
I turned my conversation with [Dominique] Brossard to the digital Capital Times....

Her reaction to our plan to scrutinize comments for relevance and taste? “I’m so happy to hear you say this because I’ve been speaking with different people who (think) we should stop allowing comments. I say, look, it’s a great opportunity for us to engage, where well-meaning citizens may have something important to say and can add to the discussion.”
The trick is to figure out who is "well-meaning." Sharp criticism and biting satire should count as "well-meaning." The term we use monitoring comments on this blog — to the extent that we get into the comments, which is always an incomplete process — is "good faith." We get to apply our subjective judgment about that, but it keeps us from drawing the line over notions of "civility." A mainstream newspaper will have trouble being intuitive about the good faith of the very best creative and comical comments, and their monitoring is likely to slide into insipid enforcement of a civil tone, which makes the comments almost pointless. I say almost, because there is some point to the look and the feeling that comments are accepted.

Brossard's "well-meaning" might be the same thing as our "good faith." My commenting instructions  seen above the window where you compose your comments — say:
We value all comments made in good faith. I love different points of view and even edgy modes of expression. What we delete are bad faith comments, comments that we believe have the ulterior motive of destroying the conversation and driving people away from this forum.
Here's the post where I announced the "good faith" standard.
There might be a commenter who impresses us with a clever form of expression, even as he hurls insults. My orientation toward free speech has made me very tolerant of people like that, even when they attack me and the commenters here. I've gone very far defending edgy and harsh expression. That's part of why my new policy is about the good faith/bad faith distinction. That distinction depends on the writer's purpose, and purpose can be hard to discern, especially in clever writers.

Purchase of the day.

From the March 10, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

Apple TV MD199LL/A [NEWEST VERSION] (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $3.96)

... and 24 other items purchased — at no additional cost to the buyers — through the Althouse Amazon portal.

Thanks for your continuous wireless streaming of positive feedback to the blogger.

"North Korea said Monday that it had 'completely scrapped' the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War..."

"... following up on a threat made days earlier and increasing the likelihood of a strike against or a skirmish with the South, analysts said."

"Sequester is an ugly experience, but it could grow up to be a budget discipline swan."

"It could provide the planning discipline the services and the building have been missing since 2001.”"

The building = The Pentagon.

From a NYT article titled "Cuts Give Obama Path to Create Leaner Military."
[T]here may be an opening to argue for deep reductions in programs long in President Obama’s sights, and long resisted by Congress....

[I]nside the Pentagon, even some senior officers are saying that the reductions, if done smartly, could easily exceed those mandated by sequestration, as the cuts are called, and leave room for the areas where the administration believes more money will be required.

These include building drones, developing offensive and defensive cyberweapons and focusing on Special Operations forces.
The programs Obama has long longed to reduce are listed as: nuclear weapons, the military medical insurance, and next-generation warplanes (like the F-35).

ADDED: The corresponding article in The Washington Post is "F-35’s ability to evade budget cuts illustrates challenge of paring defense spending":
With an ear-ringing roar, the matte-gray fighter jet streaked down Runway 12 and sliced into a cloudless afternoon sky over the Florida Panhandle. To those watching on the ground, the sleek, bat-winged fuselage soon shrank into a speck, and then nothing at all, as Marine Capt. Brendan Walsh arced northward in America’s newest warplane, the F-35 Lightning II.
It streaked and sliced and — they must be thinking — if only it would shrink into nothing at all.
When the F-35 finishes testing, “there will be no yes-or-no, up-or-down decision point,” said Pierre Sprey, who was a chief architect of the Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon. “That’s totally deliberate. It was all in the name of ensuring it couldn’t be canceled.”
When... but we're not there yet.

March 10, 2013

At the Where's the Ball Café...

... keep looking.

Purchase of the day.

From the March 9, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:

Kalon Clothing Medium Weight Yoga Pants (Earnings to the Althouse blog = $1.72)

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

Thanks for all your serene purchasing which calms the blogger's mind and continually lifts her spirits.

"Does that happen a lot?"/"Not like that."

Via Metafilter. I didn't even know Whoopi Goldberg was ever connected to "Star Trek," but that isn't the important thing here.

In the comments, please stay on topic, which is this particular video clip. Don't bring up the usual grievances about Whoopi. That's been done many times. The larger topic, also legitimate here, is the effect of art on the individual.

"Cartoons were already my nemesis. I didn’t like them, although they were ubiquitous on TV...."

"Was that because I wasn’t interested? Or was it because I was repelled, or because I was particularly cartoon-challenged? Probably a combination of all three, because the phenomenon persisted into adulthood and involved even some cartoons whose content didn’t especially repel me....  Sometimes there’s too much going on visually in cartoons, too; I get distracted. I sometimes fail to get the joke in non-animated cartoon squares (like the ones in a magazine) because I focus on the wrong detail or misinterpret details in odd ways."

Ironically, I'm distracted by there being too much going on in this blog post. It combines the discussion of animated movies, single-panel New Yorker type cartoons, and comic strips. These are completely different to me.

The blogger (Neo-Neocon) has a special problem with the way panels in a comic strip tell a story. (She was once given a devilish IQ test that required putting scrambled panels in the right order.) It that is your issue, read "Understanding Comics."

And I don't like mixing up the topic of scoring on an IQ test with appreciating a type of art. The example of the IQ question at the first link is such an ugly example of a comic strip. In or out of order, it's repellent. It's like having to edit an atrocious sentence. What does it prove?

"And right then I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take."

Writes Ta-Nehisi Coates, in a column called "The Good, Racist People."

My question is: How did some people get to be considered the "good" people in the first place? It's that question that fires my antagonism to liberals. They think they are good.

At the Vape Café..

... you can e-everything you want.

(Screencatch from this.)

"A 4-minute video by the Air Force Research Laboratory on 'micro aerial vehicles' shows a futuristic bee-size drone flying in an open window..."

"... and taking out an enemy sniper with a miniature explosive payload. Since it was posted in 2009, it has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times and reposted all over the Web."

That's from the NYT article, "Visions of Drones Swarming U.S. Skies Hit Bipartisan Nerve."
[Rand] Paul’s soliloquy has tapped into a common anxiety on the left and the right about the dangers of unchecked government...
“It’s not merely the black helicopter crowd of the folks on the far right,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups. “What Rand Paul had to say about drones absolutely fired up conspiracy theorists on the left as well as the right.”

Human Rights Watch plans to join other groups next month in starting an effort called the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots....

In Washington, Code Pink, a leftist group of antiwar activists, showed up with flowers and chocolates at Mr. Paul’s Senate offices on Thursday to thank him for standing up against abuses of power. Known around Capitol Hill mainly for disrupting Congressional hearings, the group had found a new champion.

The President "got hazy... I told him this will never work without adult supervision from the White House."

"I don’t think he comprehends that this is part of getting something done.... He’s been under the view that if he gets involved, it poisons something. But no, we want presidential leadership...."

Said one of the Republican Senators who went to dinner with Obama on the night of the Rand Paul filibuster.

Underneath the appearance of racial equality...

... is something unrecognizable:

"Despite the hardships of waking early, plunging into the polluted river water and the relentless crush of the crowds..."

"... pilgrims from all over the world described feeling spiritually uplifted and amazed by the scale of the event."

120 million participate in the Kumbh Mela (a once-every-12-years event).

That link goes to a news story, but here's an inside look, with photos, from Eric Johnson (of Iowa, U.S.A.):
Hungry and tired, we arrive in Allahabad at 11 p.m. and search for the accommodations we've booked. At 2 a.m. we find our camp — two canvas tents walled in with corrugated metal sheets. Nine people share our tent. The cost is 500 rupees ($10) per person per night. For a patch of straw on the ground, it seems expensive....

We drift into and out of camps and meet oddly decorated babas (holy men) and a guru from Bangladesh. Two of the babas have white and red sailboats painted all over their bodies. The guru tells us:

"Stop the clock,

ban the bomb,

milk the cow,

remember Ram!"
If you were a Bangladeshi guru, and you encountered a man from Iowa, what would you say?

ADDED: It sounds like another verse to "All Together Now." You know:
Sail the ship
Chop the tree
Skip the rope
Look at me 
Can I have a little more? 

"What, exactly, does the Obama administration mean by 'engaged in combat'?"

That's the unanswered question underlying the question that Holder answered, which was "Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?"
The extraordinary secrecy of this White House makes the answer difficult to know....

If you put together the pieces of publicly available information, it seems that the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, has acted with an overly broad definition of what it means to be engaged in combat. Back in 2004, the Pentagon released a list of the types of people it was holding at Guantánamo Bay as “enemy combatants” — a list that included people who were “involved in terrorist financing.”...

In a 2010 Fox News interview... Hillary Rodham Clinton, said that “we have gotten closer because we have been able to kill a number of their trainers, their operational people, their financiers."...

[S]weeping financiers into the group of people who can be killed in armed conflict... is not the only stretch the Obama administration seems to have made. The administration still hasn’t disavowed its stance... that military-age males killed in a strike zone are counted as combatants absent explicit posthumous evidence proving otherwise.
ADDED: In what order do they make these decisions? Consider these 4 permutations.

1. They want to kill X.
2. They arrive at the decision that X is an enemy combatant.
3. They kill X.
1. They want to kill X.
2. They kill X.
3. They arrive at the decision that X is an enemy combatant.
1. They arrive at the decision that X is a enemy combatant.
2. They want to kill X.
3. They kill X.
1. They kill X.
2. They want to have wanted to kill X.
3. They arrive at the decision that X is a enemy combatant.

What do you think is happening? free polls 

Was that poll missing an option? free polls 

"On the upside, they’re politically immune from getting the John Yoo treatment."

Perhaps. But isn't it amusing to picture them — somewhere in the secret passageways of power — flop-sweating and frantic over the realization Oh, my God, we're John Yoo!?

"Climate changes and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara."

"Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society."

What would have happened in Egypt — today's "History of" country — and in the rest of the history of the world, if those early people had controlled their greedy grazing and not anthropogenerated the Sahara Desert?

IN THE COMMENTS: chickelit said:
Grass guzzlers caused the Sahara. Got it.

Daily Beast writers Harry Siegel and Allison Yarrow get the vapors over the possibility that conservative religion...

... might be the only viable solution to America's low birth rate problem. They get the vapors, they might be vapid, and Harry vapes.

Listen to the desperation as they sidetrack into the topic of whether the children of conservative religionists will veer into decently acceptable liberalism (and become... tattoo artists!). They never return to the issue of whether religion is needed to keep the population going into the future. If the offspring don't maintain the conservative values that caused their parents to have children, how do you get the next generation?

A closer look at trombone playing.

(Via io9.)