April 6, 2013

At the This Way Café...


... find your inner wolverine.

"Idle noodling."

Is that the best expression to explain your hypothetical about raping an unconscious woman — after the not-getting-the-concept-of-hypotheticals crowd goes ballistic on you?

"Plane Diverted After Family Complains In-Flight Movie Is Inappropriate for Kids."

"Apparently, the pilot decided that the family's complaint about the movie constituted 'grave danger to the aircraft.' Yet, according to the father..."

"I've always told Will: You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay."

"Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I'm here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that's not for me to do for him. Or vice versa."

"Getting a literature Ph.D. will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor."

This is scarcely news. This is something everyone I knew already knew 30 years ago, but this Slate article is very well written, with some nice references to Kafka, the subject of Rebecca Schuman's thesis. So good luck to Schuman in the life an independent writer.
There’s a little fable from Kafka, appropriately called “A Little Fable,” that speaks to why this was very stupid:
"Alas," said the mouse, "the world gets smaller every day. At first it was so wide that I ran along and was happy to see walls appearing to my right and left, but these high walls converged so quickly that I’m already in the last room, and there in the corner is the trap into which I must run."

"But you’ve only got to run the other way," said the cat, and ate it.
The mouse wasn’t going in the wrong direction so much as it was walking cat food the entire time. A graduate career is just like this, only worse, because “A Little Fable” lasts three sentences and is made up, while graduate school lasts at least six years and will ruin your life in a very real way. But, as in the fable, this ruin is predestined, and completely unrelated to how “right” you do things.
By the way, aren't we all Kafka's mouse, running toward certain death, with the only other option being a premature death?  

"Coming with me to clean up dog poop?"

Meade asks. I say, "That's not me... but can I blog about it?"

Meade, who's getting ready to go out for some dog park volunteer work, says okay, but only if I link to this comment on yesterday's "Obama’s insulting salary stunt" post:
garage mahal said...

He won't even feel his sacrifice. And if he does, he can ease his tiny pains with another deluxe vacation and a few more concerts at the White House performed by whichever pop stars his daughters are enthusing over this month.

Just like you didn't have to feel any real sacrifice from Act 10.

I doubt you ever rub elbows with the peons at the bottom of the food chain who did feel it.
IN THE COMMENTS: Phil 3:14 said:
OK Professor, help me understand, who are the "peons" in this analogy?

Or is this another of you word plays (i.e. pee)?

And think plants are at the bottom of the food chain.
Okay, I'll accept it as my job to pick up the metaphorical poop. I didn't call people "peons," and I didn't mix a metaphor of "peons" and "food chain." I don't even know why Meade imposed that condition on my use of his poop quote.

A "peon" — according to the (unlinkable) OED — is "An attendant, an orderly; a footman or messenger having subordinate authority over other staff. Also: a junior member of staff in an office."
1973 P. G. Wodehouse Bachelors Anonymous i. 8 ‘She treated me like one of those things they have in Mexico, not tamales, something that sounds like spoon.’ ‘Peon?’ ‘That's right.’
"Peon" actually used to be pronounced pyoon. The pronunciation "pee on," however, is better for punning.

Anyway, "peon" seems to be an unusually apt word to refer to public sector employees, who are the people affected by Act 10, the GOP's approach to budget balancing here in Wisconsin. We — I include myself — were required to make contributions to our pensions and health insurance. (Before the 2010 elections, we lost money via the Democratic plan, which imposed furloughs.)

Given the "pee on" pun, perhaps garage meant to evoke pity for the public workers and outrage at me and Meade for declining to condemn Act 10. 

A "food chain" is "A series of organisms, each of which is dependent on the next for food, esp. by direct consumption or predation." Where are the public sector employees in the metaphorical consumption and predation? Maybe taxpayers think they are at the bottom of the food chain? The public servants paid by tax money should hardly want to be seen as the predators at the top. But that makes more sense than perceiving the taxpayers as the predators.

"Rub elbows" — the OED tells us — means "to come into contact."  Examples:
1916   L. N. Parker Disraeli ii. 56   You would pass him in the street without the faintest idea you had rubbed elbows with one of the world's greatest powers!
1956   ‘B. Holiday’ & W. Dufty Lady sings Blues i. 16   A whorehouse was about the only place where black and white folks could meet in any natural way. They damn well couldn't rub elbows in the churches.
But you damn well could rub elbows with one of the world's greatest blog commenters at Poopstock '13.

The end of the Sears Portrait Studio.

How could it have survived even this long in the era of selfies and Instagrams? We all already know what everyone looks like. The ponderous, formal recording ourselves for posterity isn't a notion capable of ever crossing our minds again. It will be snapshots on the fly from here on out.

The end of Sears family portraits.
pollcode.com free polls 

"More than 50% of law school graduates from the 2011 class aren’t earning enough to buy a house..."

That's referring to new law school graduates, so you might think: What's the big deal? Since when do new graduates assume they can up and buy a house? On the other hand, they're assuming a house costs $100,000. I don't understand that. Where are these law grads practicing?

Trevor Morrison, the new NYU School of Law dean.


(NYU was my law school.)

"What would Madonna say?"

Asked Irene at the Hydrangea Café last night.

Yes, why, exactly, did Madonna say she absolutely loathes hydrangeas?
“Hydrangeas are very romantic, feminine and maybe a little demur[e],” suggested Eddie Zaratsian of tick-tock Couture Flowers based in Los Angeles, Calif., who has worked with corporate clients like Chanel, as well as an undisclosed list of celebrities. “Madonna is known for her strength and confidence and so it’s only natural she would gravitate towards a bolder flower.” The elephant in the room: hydrangeas are working-class flowers, aren’t they? Somehow partially responsible for current economic crisis? Make your pee smell bad?...

To Zaratsian, who believes every flower to be a “gift from God”... it is the overall experience of receiving flowers that helps one formulate a memory, and thus create an opinion or preference to hold over time. “What [do] they take from that connotation of that flower? What is that memory of that flower for them?” he explained. Perhaps the larger question is: what did these innocent flowers ever do to you, Madonna? 
Have you ever been wronged by a flower?  What flower is on your shit pee list?

ADDED: If you're wondering about the pee, I'd elided the part about tea. Don't you know about hydrangea tea?

Purchase of the day.

From the April 4, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
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"Let’s be clear, nobody looks like [Kamala] Harris at her age (48) without effort."

Instapundit says: "This sounds a bit catty, no?"

Well, yeah. "Effort" isn't saying much. It takes effort to get out of bed in the morning and drag a comb through your hair. But, let's be clear, the insinuation is serious effort, because otherwise, why say "let's be clear"?

I'm looking at pictures of Kamala Harris, and I don't assume she puts a lot of work into her looks. She wears a suit, a double string of pearls, light makeup, a simple hairdo. What's the big deal? She's healthy and has naturally good features.

Am I lacking in clarity?

Let's be clear, let's be clear can be an irritating phrase. It's closely allied to Obama's phrase "let me be clear." (And Elizabeth Warren's "I want to be clear. ") "Let's"— let us — is more inclusive, but in a coercive way. You're the one purporting to be clear. Quit demanding that I own your statements!

Hey, did you know that back in 2009, Harris said, about Obama, "He looks and he sounds like a million bucks"?

2 more thoughts (both via Meade):

1. Obama apologized to Harris, but Obama should apologize to his daughters.

2. Harris looks like Obama Girl.

April 5, 2013

At the Hydrangea Café...


... unfurl.

"A young filmmaker is believed to have frozen to death after spending a night sleeping rough..."

"... for a Channel 4 application in which he intended to explore what it was like to be homeless."
Lee Halpin, 26, had planned to spend a week living on the streets in his home city of Newcastle and eventually make a documentary about it.
There's video of this healthy-looking man saying:
"I hope you think this is a fearless approach to a story, it certainly feels like a brave thing to me, and has certainly caused a huge amount of trepidation amongst my family and friends who think it's a brave thing to do. ...."
There's an update at the link suggesting that the death may have been not from freezing but drugs.

("Sleeping rough" is British slang, referring to sleeping on the street.)

"At least my bracket's not busted."

"Adding the sound of birds was my idea. I had heard the Beatles' 'Yellow Submarine' and flipped."

"These guys had created a sound environment for their single. Ringo sang about a sub—and there were sub sounds. Eddie and his brother David were experts at effects and they whistled the bird sounds. When we were just about finished, Arif suggested adding a harmonica — to drive home the carefree, Sunday feel. But I can't remember who played it."

Groovin'... on a Sunday afternoon....

"Women today operate" in "two worlds": "the system of beauty, and the system of power."

Asserts Garace Franke-Ruta, in an effort to explain "Why Obama's 'Best-Looking Attorney General' Comment Was a Gaffe."
Beauty is a system of power, deeply rooted, preceding all others, richly rewarded....
I thought there were 2 systems, beauty and power. But beauty is a system of power. Franke-Ruta stumbles over her own jargon. The word "system" was already too much. What makes beauty or power a "system"? Back in the 1960s, we were always complaining about "the system." It's the system, man. So it's a word that sets off my bullshit detector. What does it mean to say "Beauty is a system of power, deeply rooted, preceding all others, richly rewarded"?

Beauty is beauty. We are human. We have eyes. Our eyes our rigged to our entire nervous system. That's a system, and I'd certainly agree that that system is deeply rooted and preceding all others. But I don't think Franke-Ruta is talking about the nervous system that tracks through our animal bodies and that we would never wish to eradicate or even numb. We are alive, sensual beings. The visual experience is real and vivid and fundamental.

But Franke-Ruta pictures an external system that "operates everywhere in the world" and consist of women as "a natural resource, a form of wealth that men can acquire." Beauty is valued and people want what they value. Is that a system? Those with the value can make an exchange, or as Franke-Ruta puts it "can choose the extent to which they wish to engage with this system of power." But women can also "choose to go to law or medical school or contend in any other way for standing and earning capacity in the world."
That is, they can enter the system of power. 
That is, the other system of power. Which is to say, women can trade only on their beauty or they can have a career. But then Franke-Ruta talks about women wanting or needing to be in both systems at the same time. And this is "why beautiful and extremely capable women are often valued above their less glamorous or less fit peers — they are triumphs in two systems of value, double-threats." But somehow everyone is supposed to know which "system" we're in on any given occasion. In this light, what Obama did wrong was to mix up which was the operable "system" as he spoke on a particular occasion.

Despite all the jargon and the many nods toward feminism, Franke-Ruta calls what Obama did a "gaffe." A little oopsie. Would a feminist unbound by Democratic Party partisanship let him off so easily?

ADDED: I can't help but be reminded of how easily all the supposed feminists let Bill Clinton evade serious criticism.

"Short video about latte portrait artist."

Much more relaxing and life-affirming than the latest meme from China in that last post.

"The latest meme to overtake the internet in China?"

"'Gou gou chuan siwa' (狗狗穿丝袜), or in English, 'Dogs wearing pantyhose.'"

"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel."

"This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as barrels."

From "Roger Ebert's 20 Most Epic Movie Pans."

"I don’t shudder when I see or hear 'This year’s spend is excessive' and 'Her book was a good read'..."

"... even though I can think of other, perhaps more elegant ways of saying these things. On the other hand, 'There is no undo for that' strikes me as infelicitous, and I am still not completely comfortable with the use of the noun 'disconnect' as a synonym for 'disparity' or 'discrepancy' — although it has been around since the 1980s."

Are you the sort of person who frets about the evolution of language, like this problem of verbs clamoring to become nouns?

I don't want to push you past your comfort zone, but... have you heard about gay marry?

"Self-publishing is the future — and great for writers."

Says Hugh Howey (who played the self-publishing game exceedingly well).
The old route for literary success looks stodgy and outdated by comparison....

With self-publishing, you learn your craft while producing material. You win over your fans directly. You own all of your rights, and your works stay fresh and available for your lifetime (and beyond). Nothing goes out of print.... My bestselling work was my eighth or ninth title. As soon as it took off, the rest of my material took off with it. To the reader, it was all brand-new.... My entire oeuvre will always be in print and always earning me something. Nothing is pulled and returned from the digital bookshelf.

"She had no clue, she said, that the piece — for sale in a box with a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll — was a real Renoir."

"She had no reason to think the painting could have been stolen art and subject to FBI forfeiture."

Is Marcia "Martha" Fuqua an "innocent owner" within the meaning of federal law?

"Friday’s disastrous employment report..."

"... which showed a gain of just 88,000 jobs, down from 236,000 last month, is a flashing red signal that the economy is again in serious danger."

"Ancient Greece is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of Western Civilization."

"Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. Ancient Greek civilization has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture of the modern world, particularly during the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and the Americas."

Today's "History of" country is Greece.

New "Gatsby" trailer.

Now, with even more anachronistic pop music, including Beyonce singing Amy Winehouse.

"Mr. Pickup Truck-Driving Everyman has a home in New Hampshire..."

"... in addition to his primary home and three rental condos in Massachusetts and the timeshare in Aruba. And since the Boston media market—where Brown, of course, has had a lot of coverage, since Boston is in Massachusetts, where he's been a state and United States senator—extends into New Hampshire, residents of the state are very familiar with him."

Carpetbagging alert from Kos.

"Montreal artist Jennifer Pawluck, 20, was arrested yesterday morning after posting a photo of a piece of anti-police street art..."

"'I was walking around the neighborhood. My friend told me to look and I took a photo of it,' Pawluck said. 'I never made any threat or anything, so I don't really regret it. They're the ones who freaked out.' But Montreal police doesn't take Instagram uploads lightly: 'All I can say is that a person has been arrested for making threats on the internet,' said police spokesperson Dany Richer."

MORE: Here.
The photo in question depicts a hand-drawn image of Ian Lafrenière with a gunshot wound to the head flanked by the words “Ian Lafrenière” and “ACAB” — a popular graffiti acronym that stands for “all cop[per]s are bastards.”

Target apologizes for calling the color of a plus-size dress "manatee gray"...

... where the same dress in smaller sizes was called "dark heather."

What are the chances that some devious Target color-namer intentionally insulted large women?

Well, the place is called — speaking of names — Target. Maybe they sit around thinking: Who can we target today?

This is a new pastime for the paranoid: Look for insults planted in product names. The shopkeepers actually hate you. They're saying it constantly, injuring you repeatedly, just below the level where you notice?. Wake up! Everybody is laughing at you!

"Obama’s insulting salary stunt."

WaPo's Richard Cohen writes:
I once had a boss who was independently rich, and when I asked him for a raise, he turned me down, adding that he, too, had forsaken a raise that year. A surge of anger, resentment and sheer hatred welled up in me, and were it not that I needed the job, I would have gone for his throat. His unthinking and unthinkable attempt to make common cause with me brought to mind Anatole France’s observation that “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” Now it brings to mind Barack Obama.
Okay. Yes. But: It's been noted many times, when rich people like Warren Buffet beg to be made to pay their fair share, that when you pay your taxes you can make a voluntary additional payment to the federal government. So why don't they just chip in some extra?

Obama's tossing in 5% is a way of saying, that's the additional amount that seems fair to ask. I can't change the tax law on my own and make all rich people pay 5% more, but I will voluntarily do what I think all should do. It's basically the golden rule. You can't make everyone do what you want them to do, but you can be the example of what you think all should do.

But Obama didn't portray his 5% contribution as an example for all rich people, a reminder, as we approach April 15th, that you can jack up your own tax payment because you see that's your fair share or just because you have plenty of money and you'd like to be generous and try to help with the many good and necessary things the government does.

No, Obama characterized his 5% as sharing the sacrifice that the sequester is forcing some public sector employees to make. It's just not the same kind of sacrifice. He won't even feel his sacrifice. And if he does, he can ease his tiny pains with another deluxe vacation and a few more concerts at the White House performed by whichever pop stars his daughters are enthusing over this month.

"You know, if I was living out on a farm in Iowa, I’d probably want a gun, too."

"When somebody just drives up into your driveway and you’re not home, you don’t know who these people are, you don’t know how long it’s going to take for the sheriffs to respond, I can see why you’d want some guns for protection."

Obama, quoting Michelle (or purporting to quote Michelle), showing some understanding of principles of federalism related to the way people have different needs and different policy perspectives in different parts of the country.

Rereading the quote, I said: Why Iowa — of all places where people might have a preference for guns? Why Iowa and not, say, Idaho? Vocalizing the question made me instantly see the answer: They had to go to Iowa to campaign. Iowa's the big early caucus state. They know Iowa, but they don't know Idaho. Why would they?

By the way, how long does it take the police to respond in Chicago? They know Chicago....

I assume Obama likes to graciously acknowledge that there are some parts of the country — unsophisticated places — where people cling to their guns because that's all they've been able to figure out so far in their limited little lives. Show a little respect for these rubes before you proceed further, to school them on the need for gun control. But drag in Chicago, and it gets complicated. Chicago is the very place where he thinks the gun control is needed, the very point that must be explained to the blinkered farmers.

If you concede that you might want a gun when somebody comes up to your door in Chicago, it's no longer clear what the sophisticated people are supposed to think.

"If there is ever a time in the 8 years when you would relax on the money and try to govern, it would be at this point."

"What he has done completely in contradiction to what he promised as a candidate in '08. He institutionalized the permanent campaign. He's out there raising money at the beginning of the second term when he ought to be here working on the budget, on sequester, and all these other issues. But now he is the essence of exactly the system that he denounced and he promised he would messianically redeem."

Mika Brzezinski on Obama's Kamala Harris remark: "It just divides people up to separate them by looks."

Longer quote as transcribed at HuffPo:
I'm sure he meant to pay her a compliment... but quite frankly, it just divides women and it just divides people up to separate them by looks and probably was a little hand-fisted. I just think the whole thing, the whole dynamic about women and their looks puts women under a lot of stress that they don't need. and they should be sort of talked about by their qualities at work, especially when he is introducing someone because she is the attorney general. I actually think, you know, he meant to do -- say something nice. I think he made a mistake.
Did she really say "hand-fisted"? The colloquialism is "ham-fisted." I tried to check, listening to the video at the link, but it went on and on, beginning with a commercial, which I put up with, proceeding through some David Letterman jokes about North Korea, on to introductions of a number of internet-focused male journalists, and then to a presentation of what Obama said about Harris, and I'm still waiting to hear the Mika quote that I can already read, but I actually still care about whether she said "hand-fisted" or "ham-fisted," and then Morning Joe turns to the insipid internet men and asks:
"What did you see on line yesterday?"
I'm all: What did you see on line yesterday? What did you see on line yesterday? What did you see on line yesterday? What the hell am I doing slogging through a video with some guys summarizing what was on line yesterday? Is TV like this now? They don't have commentators opining about what they think. They have little men who pick through Twitter and, essentially, retweet for... who is this for? People who can't find Twitter on their own and need Twitter summarized?! People who think the news is the way the news looked to the people who tweeted about the news the other day" And the only news underlying all of that news is that the President said a pretty lady is pretty?

But like a pretty lady's face, the President's remark has got our attention. (What are we not paying attention to?) And it's something we can all chat about. (What are we not talking about?) And if we don't have anyone to talk to, we can lull ourselves into utter oblivion by listening to Morning Joe's little men repeat the texts of tweets they saw on line yesterday.

That's what I have to say, and you are so far ahead of the Morning Joe-level folks, because you are seeing it on line today.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 4, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
Share Your Love With Me (2001 Digital Remaster)
The Band | Format: MP3 Music
The Althouse Amazon portal: the shame-free way to share your love.

"Judge Orders Morning-After Pill Available for All Ages."

Federal District Judge Edward R. Kormancalled the Obama administration’s restrictions “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
“The F.D.A. has engaged in intolerable delays in processing the petition. Indeed, it could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster.”...

Scientists, including those at the F.D.A., have been recommending unrestricted access for years, as have major medical groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2011, the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, issued a statement saying that after rigorous study the agency concluded it was safe to sell Plan B One-Step over the counter. But she was overruled by Ms. Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, the first time such a public countermanding had ever occurred.
Am I wrong to assume that Obama and Sebelius are secretly pleased to have the court impose this for them?

"SAC Capital insider trading charges: is a cursed Picasso painting to blame?"

"Ownership of the prestigious Le Reve, bought by Steve Cohen just two weeks ago, has proved problematic in the past."

You can resell your vinyl records, cassette tapes, and CDs, but you can't resell your digital music files.

The "first sale" doctrine doesn't apply.
ReDigi tried hard to live up to the spirit of copyright law. It created a system where the uploader of a "purchased" iTunes song would lose access to the music after the file was transferred to the new "buyer's" computer. Yeah, right, said the record company and the judge – there's no way to ensure that the "seller" wasn't keeping the song anyway.

"Rapper Lil Poopy’s dad cleared of abuse."

"Brockton police filed an abuse and neglect complaint against the 9-year-old rapper’s father, Luis Rivera, in February, saying that letting the fourth-grader rhyme about 
cocaine and risque themes amounted to abuse."

To get you up to speed on why this complaint was filed — perhaps you, like me, had never even heard of Lil Poopy — here's video and a time-stamped list of the worst things about it. Note that a much-repeated line is: "Coke ain't a bad word it's only soda."
0:44  Coke is a bad word. Maybe not like your more high-rent bad words, but 9-year-olds have little business drinking soda, much less rapping a whole song about it. What rhymes with flax seed? Also: Mayor Mike Bloomberg would probably, rightly, beg to differ with your assertion.

0:45  Ohhhh, you’re telling me people are saying the "coke" thing is a reference to cocaine? Well that's not good....

1:38  Again, you should not be drinking soda, Lil Poopy....

April 4, 2013

Michelle Obama calls herself a "busy single mother."

She corrects herself: "Sometimes when you've got the husband who's president, it can feel a little single, but he's there."

Obama said: "She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country."

Wow.  Yikes. Embarrassingly sexist.

And, hey, what about our guy, J.B. Van Hollen?

"We talk about how bendy her neck is."

"What We Talk About When We Talk About This Tiny Baby Giraffe."

"Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals..."

"... not having had time to acquire any new value for each other. We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that old musty cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post-office, and at the sociable, and about the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other's way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another. Certainly less frequency would suffice for all important and hearty communications. Consider the girls in a factory — never alone, hardly in their dreams. It would be better if there were but one inhabitant to a square mile, as where I live. The value of a man is not in his skin, that we should touch him."

Henry David Thoreau, "Walden."

ADDED: This passage cries out for a link to "Caring for Your Introvert":
Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping....

We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.

Roger Ebert has died.

"On Tuesday, Mr. Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December, and would be taking 'a leave of presence.' In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote 'I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.'"

Working on something he loved right up to the last minute, despite all adversity....

I'm sorry to see him go. I met him once at a bookstore event. I was with my son Chris — a big movie-lover — who was young and excited about meeting Ebert, so I waited in line. For some reason, the book we had in hand for signing was "Two Weeks In Midday Sun : A Cannes Notebook," which has not just writing by Ebert, but drawings — line drawings. As Chris was interacting with him, I said that I loved the drawings.

I was, at the time, immensely interested in travel sketchbooks, most notably Bill Griffith's "Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry." I, myself, traveled with a sketchbook and a fountain pen (and no camera) and made my trips all about drawings. So I was sincere in my enthusiasm for his drawing, and he immediately said that the drawings were very bad.

Oh, no, I love them, I said. They're very charming! Afterwards, I realized that it was absurd for me to encourage his drawings and baby him about their charm. Look at how he joyfully brutalized the bad films, even collecting the meanest reviews in books with titles like "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie." He was a critic, and I was being uncritical.

I must have sounded like a kindergarten teacher to him. I didn't have the time to talk about the Griffith tradition and my own adventures in Amsterdam. It was just a book signing encounter. Move along. No connection made.

There are many, many Roger Ebert books of course.

"'Girls' actor leaves show after realizing it is terrible."

Instapundit quotes the Daily Caller headline, which isn't supported by what the actor Christopher Abbott ("Charlie") actually said or supposedly said. The actor's spokesperson said "he’s working on numerous other projects" and "a source" said "Chris is at odds with Lena [Dunham]" and "He didn’t like the direction things are going in." That doesn't mean he thinks the show is terrible. At most he's arguing with Dunham or doesn't like what she's doing with his character. My guess is: He's negotiating his salary.

Note: The show is not terrible. It's just — as sitcoms go — a grim picture. People are young and they get naked and have sex on occasion, and yet it's not fun. It tends to be dismal and dark. You'd think conservatives would know how to take that. Are they dumb or just unwilling to watch the show they berate?

"Did the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Just Scare a U.S. Attorney Into Quitting a Major Case?"

Asks Josh Voorhees.

"44% of Likely U.S. Voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that the government will try to confiscate all privately owned guns..."

"... over the next generation or so, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty percent (50%) feel gun confiscation is unlikely. This includes 20% who think the government is Very Likely to make this move and 23% who say it’s Not At All Likely."

If you separate the respondents into "mainstream voters" and the more elite group that Rasmussen terms "the political class" (meaning people who "are more comfortable trusting that elite to rule the nation rather than trusting the collective wisdom of the American people"):
Fifty-five percent (55%) of Mainstream voters think the government is likely to try to confiscate all privately held guns, but 59% of the Political Class say that’s unlikely.
Confiscate all guns! That's such an extreme position.

Obama: "I am constrained... by a system that our Founders put in place."

“You hear some of these quotes: ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away,’ Obama said. “Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.”
As a lawprof, I read that to mean that he is not constrained. He's juggling a few ideas, but what he's getting at is: The Founders put into place a system that would be populated by elected officials, who are to act for the sake of the people and as the people want. If what the people want our government to do is control guns, then it is within the power of government to do it.

That's the constitutional argument he has in mind. It's an idea of constitutional government as a political system, within which rights are only another manifestation of what the people want. And, in the ultimate scary twist on the idea of rights: Government is not to be regarded as in need of limits, because the government is us. Anything we — the government — want to do is never tyranny, but freedom.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 3, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
When Pride Still Mattered: Lombardi [Paperback]
David Maraniss (Author)

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Euthanizing a guide dog to bury it in the coffin with its blind owner.

You can have animals you own euthanized if you want, but when should you want it? According to the dead woman's son, the dog, Toffee, "wandered aimlessly" after the woman died.
"I wouldn't say that's unusual for a dog to be in mourning, especially if a dog is really close to a person," said [the veterinary assistant].
The perception that the dog is "in mourning" is subjective, and the subjective perception is arrived at by the family that has the power to do what it would probably only do if it conceived of the matter as putting the dog out of its misery.

"Hackers apparently broke into at least two of North Korea's government-run online sites Thursday..."

"The North's Uriminzokkiri Twitter and Flickr accounts stopped sending out content typical of that posted by the regime in Pyongyang, such as photos of North's leader Kim Jong Un meeting with military officials. Instead, a picture posted Thursday on the North's Flickr site shows Kim's face with a pig-like snout and a drawing of Mickey Mouse on his chest.... Another posting says 'We are Anonymous' in white letters against a black background."

"Nice going, boyfriend. Jump out of the way. Don't protect your girl."

Man thoroughly emasculated.

The home run ball comes right at you. Some men would actually catch it or at least try to catch it. Hopping out of the way looks unmanly. But hopping out of the way and then it hits your girlfriend in the face? Ballsless.

A quick wrap-up of today's incipient "mask" theme.

Sometimes the blog acquires a theme, like today, when the first post of the day was about masks that the Hopis don't like to call "masks" — you call them masks, we call them friends — and the second was a metaphorical use of the word "mask," to refer to Ben Carson's current persona. But I would be bullshitting if I said that the third and fourth posts were on theme. Oh, I could do that bullshitting. But I'm not going to waste your time. As the title of this, the fifth post, says, quick wrap-up. So here's the news about masks:

1. "Vogue models 'ate tissues' to mask hunger: Revelations follow similar claims by fashion industry insiders."

2. "Hamas militants’ menacing mask of defiance: Hooded gangs patrol Gaza as Israel fires first attack in months breaking fragile truce."

3. "A man wearing an 'old man' mask robbed a Cleveland Chase Bank Wednesday morning, the FBI said." (Hints for bank robbers: Use sunglasses to keep the rubber mask in place and to provide additional masking.)

4. "Do North Korea’s threats mask power struggle behind the scenes?" ("Those who study the Hermit Kingdom have very serious doubts that any attack on the U.S. or allies South Korea and Japan is even being seriously considered. 'It could be there’s a whole other game going on,' said Stephen Long, a North Korea expert at the University of Richmond.")

5. The General Zod mask from "Man of Steel" has been identified as the Halloween costume item for 2013, but the images that were at this link — purportedly terrifying — have been "removed at the request of the studio." Here's a 2010-era General Zod action figure, decidedly unscary.

6. "Police are looking for a man who went into a Turkey Hill [store] in Palmyra early Sunday morning wearing nothing but a ski mask." ("The man is described as a white male, approximately 50 years old, standing 6 feet tall with a 'heavyset' build. He had no visible scars, marks, tattoos or body piercings, police said." An amusing twist on the old phrase "no visible scars." Usually it refers to scars other than on the face. Here, the face is where the scars could be.)

7. The gas mask Justin Bieber wore around town in London last month was just "a joke." (And he "know[s] who [he is]" and is "not gonna let negativity towards [him] bring [him] down.")

So put down the tissues and eat some real food. Don't let the negativity bring you down, baby. Take off the gloomy mask of tragedy. It's not your style.

"[O]ne Italian music critic argued that even if Verdi had not written the high C, 'it was a gift that the people had given to Verdi'..."

"... an assertion that sounds remarkably like democratic constitutionalism."

Lawprof Jack Balkin has been chewing on this analogy for 20 years.

"Scott Walker may stop filling Dane County judge vacancies after 2nd appointee loses."

"Walker told reporters it was 'unfortunate' that Dane County Circuit Judge Rebecca St. John lost Tuesday's election."
She was defeated by attorney Rhonda Lanford, who used the Walker connection to attack St. John during the campaign.

"The mayor, the (district attorney) and others said that St. John was a great candidate," Walker said. "Unfortunately I think that politics has trumped that."
Why give a good person the kiss of death?
"In the future it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to try and go through that appointment process and make someone who's a good judge — or a good lawyer — be in a position like that," Walker said. "It just doesn't make any sense to drag people through that."
This would mean leaving vacancies unfilled, which seems a bit punitive/dysfunctional, but how is Walker supposed to identify the right person? Who deserves the responsibility along with the burden of fighting against the horrible accusation that you were picked by Scott Walker?

Ben Carson "Wears the Mask."

A mask he put on quite recently, says Ta-Nehisi Coates.
In the late 1980s and early ’90s, he may have been the most celebrated figure in the black communities of Baltimore. Carson responded to that adulation by regularly giving his time to talk to young people, who needed to know that there was so much more beyond the streets.

I was one of those young people. I don’t doubt that Carson was a conservative even then. I knew plenty of black people who loved their community and hated welfare. But white conservatives were never interested in them, and they were never as interested in Ben Carson as they are right now. When the presidency was an unbroken string of white men, there were no calls for him to run for the White House. And then he put on the mask.
The use of the word "mask" here is inflammatory, and it will bring traffic to this NYT op-ed, but I think it's a big distraction from the point Coates is trying to make.

"The Hopis... regard the objects in the Paris sale, which they call Katsinam, or 'friends,' as imbued with divine spirits."

"They object to calling them 'masks' and say that outsiders who photograph, collect or sell them are committing sacrilege.... The Néret-Minet auction house... estimates that it will bring in $1 million. Many of the objects are more than 100 years old and carry estimates of $10,000 to $35,000.... 'Sacred items like this should not have a commercial value,' said Leigh J. Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office in Kykotsmovi, Ariz. 'The bottom line is we believe they were taken illegally.'"

April 3, 2013

George Will considers Wisconsin's Department of Public Propaganda.

Last week, I passed up this white wristband thing — this effort to make white kids more conscious of their "privilege" — but now that George Will is talking about it:
After criticism erupted, the DPI removed the flyer from its Web site and posted a dishonest statement claiming that the wristbands were a hoax perpetrated by conservatives. But, again, the flyer DPI posted explicitly advocated the wristbands. And Wisconsin’s taxpayer-funded indoctrination continues, funded by more than Wisconsin taxpayers.

"I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate, but you get all the benefits?"

"I just see so much abuse in this it’s unreal. I believe a husband and a wife should be a man and a woman, the benefits should be for a man and a woman. There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride."

Why is that problem any different from a man and a woman getting married when they're not actually interested in sleeping together in the same bed? Once government benefits are tied to marriage, benefits become part of the calculation when people decide to get married, and whether anyone actually feels like having sex is none of the government's business.

"Women are less willing than men to make the ethical compromises often required in business."

"Jessica Kennedy of Wharton and Laura Kray of Berkeley report on three studies in a paper forthcoming in Social Psychology and Personality Science."
In the first study, subjects read 14 vignettes describing ethical compromises in a business context. Values seen as sacred, such as honesty, loyalty, or the well-being of others, were traded off for the secular values of money or status. An executive secures a big bonus by using a cheap ingredient in a cancer drug, knowing it will kill some people. A project manager takes credit for the work of a subordinate who stayed late at the office. Subjects rated how objectionable the behavior was, and how much business sense it made. Compared with men, women found the acts more offensive, and said they made less business sense....
This calls to mind the old Supreme Court case Bradwell v. State (1872), upholding the exclusion of women from the legal profession:
The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life....

The humane movements of modern society, which have for their object the multiplication of avenues for woman's advancement, and of occupations adapted to her condition and sex, have my heartiest concurrence.... In the nature of things, it is not every citizen of every age, sex, and condition that is qualified for every calling and position....
Of course, the present-day study leads modern-day thinkers to propose ways to change the workplace so it will align better with the sensibilities of women:
Kennedy recommends that companies implement more ethical training, select people partially on the basis of ethics, and emphasize ethics as a core cultural value when recruiting. “If business organizations take a long-term view of success, they can allow people to value both ethics and achievement,” she says. “This would allow the people within organizations—both men and women—to be more fully human.”

"N. Korea army says it has final approval for nuclear attack on US."

"Lawyers and onlookers were stunned when videos were played in federal court here Tuesday that appeared to show..."

"... inmates in the Orleans Parish Prison using drugs, drinking beer and showing off a loaded pistol. The videos, which lawyers for the sheriff’s department said were filmed four years ago and had recently been found in a safe, were shown as part of a hearing to determine whether a federal consent decree is warranted to reform the city jail."

"Relax. It’s a f***ing NJOY.’"

Courtney Love's e-cig commercial:

"Congratulations, Mr. Starr!"

"As a result of your callous disregard for cherished constitutional rights, you may have succeeded in unmasking a sexual relationship between two consenting adults."

"Mark Sanford won over primary voters Tuesday night, but national Republicans aren’t celebrating..."

"... Many privately concede the former governor could hand a safe Republican seat to Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch."

Sanford is the former Governor of South Carolina, who resigned after disappearing and then reappearing as an adulterer with an Argentine girlfriend. That woman — Maria Belen Chapur — is now said to be his "fiancée," and she was at his side for his victory speech last night. I put "fiancée" in quotes because he's trying to get back in the public's good graces, so he should have actually married her by now.
Sanford will now face Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt in a May special election. She is the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert.

"37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not."

According to a PPP poll, which also found:
28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order....

Voters are split 44%-45% on whether Bush intentionally misled about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq....

15% of voters say the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals....

11% of voters believe the US government allowed 9/11 to happen....
So take that into account as you assess the significance of 37% of voters believing global warming is a hoax. On the other hand, the question uses the word "hoax," and that would require a "no" answer from people who disbelieve in global warming, but don't think anyone is deliberately tricking us. That is, if you think that existing science isn't good enough to predict what will happen to climate in the future or if you think the science is skewed by policy preferences or the politics of grant money, the word "hoax" doesn't express what you think. And obviously the whole poll is nudging you with the overarching question: Hey, are you some kind of conspiracy kook? If you understand questions by the company they keep, you get the idea that the answer to everything is "no."

"State Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack easily won a second term Tuesday, overcoming Marquette University law professor Ed Fallon."

For those of you who've been following the ongoing saga of the Wisconsin Supreme Court: It was  57%/43%.
Roggensack touted her experience in the race, noting she served seven years on the Court of Appeals and nearly 10 years on the Supreme Court. She had the backing of law enforcement and more than 100 judges, as well as the state Republican Party.

Fallone, who had the support of Democrats and unions, contended the high court has grown dysfunctional and said Roggensack needed to be replaced to start to improve sour relationships on the court.
What does this clear victory say about the recent struggles in Wisconsin — the protests and the "chokehold" incident? It's very hard to defeat an incumbent judge, but the liberals don't seem to have tried very hard this time. It looked like merely symbolic opposition — as if the race were more of an opportunity to criticize the court —  an inherently discordant message as Fallone both criticized and portrayed himself as somehow able to swoop in and make everyone behave better. How would he do that?

The answer — to my ear — seemed to be that the fix was to give the liberal side of the court a majority. That could never be openly articulated, however, because it's (officially) a nonpartisan election, and to put things politically is to antagonize voters who think judges should decide cases by a purely legal methodology, free from any political influence.

ADDED: It's very hard to defeat an incumbent judge, but:
An Ozaukee County judge [Tom Wolfgram] criticized by his spring election opponent for signing a petition to recall the governor has lost his seat on the bench after 19 years.
Dane County Judge Rebecca St. John, a Walker appointee, lost her re-election race, getting 47.4 percent of the vote against lawyer Rhonda Lanford’s 52.5 percent of the vote with 95 percent of the vote counted, according to unofficial results from the Dane County Clerk’s office.
Note that both losing incumbents looked political, especially Wolfgram. As for St. John, you have to imagine how being a Walker appointee smells in Madison, Wisconsin.

"If he's good enough to marry, he'll still be around when you're ready to make that leap."

Amanda Marcotte, quoted by James Taranto, who says:
Let's translate that from feminist-speak to English: If the romance fails, his inadequacy as a man is entirely to blame; you have no responsibility for making it work.

If you follow that advice, you're likely to end up alone. Marcotte seems to imagine it will be a consolation that you'll be resentful too.
Let me translate that back into feminism (this will be like "recursive translation"): You're free to absorb the risk that the right man at the wrong time will be in the wrong place when it's the right time.

ADDED: My translation reminds me of the analog of pregnancy and abortion as seen by feminism: You're free to end a healthy pregnancy that comes at the wrong time, but you take the risk that there will be no healthy pregnancy when it's the right time.

You're entitled to your freedom, but freedom can only be exercised in the real world with all its limitations — including nature and, in a free society, the freedom of other people.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 2, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
DR Strings NPB-45 Coated Nickel Hi-Def Pink Bass Guitar Strings, Medium
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April 2, 2013

"This morning's David Brooks column on same-sex marriage was one of the weirdest, most mean-spirited things I've ever seen in The New York Times."

"Entitled 'Freedom Loses One,' the article is a sarcastic broadside against... well, against something, though it's not clear exactly which of the many post-Sixties permissive-society hobgoblins Brooks hates is the real target here."

Says Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone.

"Every cloud has a silver lining, and one of the benefits of the exclusion of women from most professions..."

"... was that we had wonderful teachers, especially the women who today would probably be CEOs."

Justice Antonin Scalia, remembering his school days, in NYC, circa 1947.

He also talks about playing street hockey, camping in vacant lots, and sledding in a cemetery:
It was pretty much devise your own amusement. I’ve never been a parent to go to all the soccer games and all that, because my parents never came to my street-hockey or pickup softball games; they just said go out and play.
I grew up in the 50s and 60s in Delaware, and it was the same thing: You made your own amusement. The only difference, at least in my family, is that we weren't told to go out (or to play). If you wanted to stay in and if you wanted to work or do nothing, my parents wouldn't say you should do something else. I'm not sure why my parents refrained from pushing us out into the fresh air, and it's too late now to ask, but sifting through the evidence I have, I think that they didn't like being told what to do. I know my mother, as a young girl in the 1930s, was told not to read too much and she wanted to read. Maybe in my old age, I'm seeing my departed parents in a golden light, but what makes sense to me now is that they were staunchly libertarian.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 1, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
Bear Archery Youth Safetyglass Target Arrows (3 per card)
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The WSJ should not have allowed a high school senior to harm her future self...

... by publishing an op-ed attributing her college rejections to her nonpossession of diversity factors — says Kira Goldenberg in the Columbia Journalism Review.
Pity the well-off white girl who has not had to struggle with identity politics or face prejudice because of who she is (wait until she realizes the “real world” still has a glass ceiling). Blaming groups that lack the inherent privilege of caucasian heterosexuals for your own bad luck in a crapshoot is a gross distortion of affirmative action, which is imperfect but remains necessary, in some form, as long as historical inequities persist. And considering the Supreme Court was hearing gay marriage cases last week, persist they do.
Goldenberg purports to care about Suzy Lee Weiss's potentially regrettable "youthful contribution to her Google search results, one that eternally allows future employers and boyfriends to find her arguing against affirmative action and disdaining diversity." Goldenberg says the WSJ was "irresponsible" to allow this naive child to display herself on the internet as "bitter" and "egocentric."

Goldenberg is, ironically, also displaying herself on the internet, and I'd say she's displaying herself as overaggressive and unfair. I just read Weiss's op-ed and it's lighthearted and self-effacing — the opposite of egocentric. She's saying I'm an ordinary kid with nothing special to put on my application, and then she mocks herself for being "[a]n underachieving selfish teenager," chattering out a bunch of phony excuses, and she signs off saying that she needs to go watch TV.

I wouldn't be surprised if Weiss shares Goldenberg's attitude about diversity policies. It seems to me that Goldenberg flipped out at one line — "If it were up to me, I would've been any of the diversities" — and completely lost her capacity to perceive humor.

Talk about embarrassing yourself on the internet!

"French reality TV doctor kills himself after contestant dies."

The show is "Koh Lanta," the French equivalent of "Survivor," and a 25-year-old died of a heart attack during a tug of war challenge. The doctor wrote in his suicide note that he was "sure that I treated Gerald in a respectable manner, as a patient and not as a contestant" and that he could not bear "having to reconstruct [his] destroyed reputation."

"What we're dealing with is a very scared, very upset, very confused 20-year-old girl who has made some poor choices."

"This is the culmination of those choices."

"[I]t is troubling to me that rates of termination for pregnancies where Down syndrome is identified are extremely high."

Writes Alison Piepmeier, who has a 4-year-old child with Down syndrome and a book "on prenatal testing and reproductive decision-making."

Extremely high? What percentage do you imagine when you hear the rate is "extremely high"? I pictured something like 90%, but according to this article, it's something like 50%. I'd like to see a breakdown in the percentages, with separate numbers for the women who generally think abortion is morally wrong and women who think early abortion is merely ridding the body of an unwanted growth. It might be that these 2 groups are about equal in size, and the women in Group 1 have a 1% incidence of abortion when the unborn is known to have Down syndrome, and Group 2 has 99%. Together, the result is 50%.

But I don't think women divide neatly into 2 groups. It's more of a spectrum, and there are also women who haven't thought about the question in any depth. I can also imagine how a woman in Group 1 might arrive at the decision to have an abortion, and how a woman in Group 2 might decide not to. (In the first case, a woman facing a known challenge might abandon principles she'd previously embraced in the abstract. In the second case, a woman might think that destroying the unborn because of something about that individual is murderous in a way that is not like the generic rejection of a pregnancy happening at an inconvenient time.)

Back to the linked article:
[S]ome parents of children with Down syndrome are celebrating the news that North Dakota has become the first state to outlaw abortion for fetal conditions like Down syndrome. One parent wrote that “it felt like a small victory seeing that abortions based on Down syndrome were banned — like saying, see, individuals with Down syndrome are valued and protected."...
Piepmeier — who has interviewed women who chose to abort in this situation — opposes this kind of law. Unsurprisingly, these women described an "incredibly painful decision," focusing on the difficulties the child would face.

Noting that the North Dakota law won't stop abortions — these women will simply travel out of state — Piepmeier says if North Dakota really cared about the fate of children with Down syndrome, it would take the money that it will now need to be spent in litigation defending the law and spend it on making the state a more "welcoming place for people with disabilities."


Long-headed?! Meade questions my word use in a previous post. It came to mind because I was just law-professing the famous Supreme Court case Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, within which the long-headed lawprof-turned-justice Felix Frankfurter — explaining that the Constitution's Framers "were not inexperienced doctrinaires" — wrote:
These long-headed statesmen had no illusion that our people enjoyed biological or psychological or sociological immunities from the hazards of concentrated power. It is absurd to see a dictator in a representative product of the sturdy democratic traditions of the Mississippi Valley. The accretion of dangerous power does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly, from the generative force of unchecked disregard of the restrictions that fence in even the most disinterested assertion of authority.
The "representative product of the sturdy democratic traditions of the Mississippi Valley" was Harry Truman, who had accreted a little too much power.

The (unlinkable) OED defines "long-headed" — definition #2 — as "Of great discernment or foresight; discerning, shrewd, far-seeing." The historical examples include:
1711   R. Steele Spectator No. 52. ⁋3   Being a long-headed Gentlewoman, I am apt to imagine she has some further Design than you have yet penetrated....
1841   Dickens Old Curiosity Shop ii. lxvii. 178   Men of the world, long-headed customers, knowing dogs.
1864   J. R. Lowell McClellan or Lincoln? in Prose Wks. (1890) V. 173   Mr. Lincoln is a long-headed and long-purposed man.
Searching my own files, I see this in Henry David Thoreau's "Walden":
Or on a Sunday afternoon, if I chanced to be at home, I heard the cronching of the snow made by the step of a long-headed farmer, who from far through the woods sought my house, to have a social "crack"; one of the few of his vocation who are "men on their farms"; who donned a frock instead of a professor's gown, and is as ready to extract the moral out of church or state as to haul a load of manure from his barn-yard. We talked of rude and simple times, when men sat about large fires in cold, bracing weather, with clear heads; and when other dessert failed, we tried our teeth on many a nut which wise squirrels have long since abandoned, for those which have the thickest shells are commonly empty.
Now, don your frock, cronch on in to the comments section, and have a social crack with the long-headed squirrels of Althouse. Extract morals, haul a load of manure, talk of rude and simple times, or try your teeth on the toughest empty nuts. You know who they are!

"2013 Cool Science Image Contest Winners."

My favorite is the slime mold.

"Lean In, Dad/How Shared Diaper Duty Could Stimulate the Economy."

A NYT Magazine item — worth clicking through for the illustration alone, which is a graphically excellent riff on Rosie the Riveter.

What's the economic theory purveyed in the NYT?
New research suggests that, because it’s primarily women who take advantage of leave and part-time entitlements, work-life accommodations often paradoxically limit career trajectories. 
Ha. This is precisely the point made by critics of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Clinton Era legislation that was sold as an advancement for women. Senator Nancy Kassenbaum (R — Kansas) said: "Mandating leave will have a negative impact on [employment] opportunities for women... . Employers... will seek to hire workers with lower benefit costs, increasing the pressure to discriminate against women." (139 Cong. Rec. S985 (1993).)

The NYT wheels out a Harvard economist to make the point Kassenbaum made 20 years ago.
“In a regime where anyone can go part time, where it’s hard to get rid of people if they do, employers might sort on the front end and not hire people they think are likely to want to go part time, which usually means women,” said Lawrence F. Katz, an economist at Harvard. “There may be no way a woman can credibly commit to sticking around and not going part time.” The U.S., where these policies do not exist, has the smallest gap between women’s representation in the labor force and their representation in senior management positions.
Except that we do have the Family and Medical Leave Act, and it's hard to imagine getting rid of it. Once a benefit is in place, there are real-live beneficiaries who are going to yell if you try to take it away. Even if it's hurting women, threatening it will be called a war on women.

So what's the solution?
In order to prescribe policies that really allow female workers to “lean in” at work, social scientists are trying to find ones that recast social norms and encourage male workers to “lean in” at home. 
Just change how people think! That should be easy... in the fever dreams of a social scientist.
One area where there seems to be a lot of potential is paternity leave, which still has a stigma in both the United States and Europe. To remedy this bad rap, countries like Sweden and Norway have recently introduced a quota of paid parental leave available only to fathers. 
So! The prescription is outright sex discrimination! Affirmative action for men!
This might not sound like such a big deal...
Uh, yeah, actually it does. It's blatant sex discrimination against women, to be sold as helping women.
... but social scientists are coming around to the notion that a man spending a few weeks at home with his newborn can help recast expectations and gender roles, at work and home, for a long time. 
Oh, the good old social scientists... coming around... Not even a consensus. Just long-headed brooders maundering toward an idea that just might work. Absurd! 

"What Is The Internet Anyway?"

"And remember: If you're still in the market for a computer, make sure you tell your dealer that you're going to be using it to access the internet."

Seriously, what is the internet?

Here at Meadhouse, when we ask what is the internet, we sing this song:

Hey, I'm on a site!

The "thigh gap."

What girls want.

ADDED: Question from the journalist: "What does it symbolize if one has a thigh gap?"

[UPDATE: Pesky thigh video deleted. It was causing technical troubles. It's very good, so click over if you want to see it.]

AND: From the video:
Journalist: "Do you think boys look at a girl's thigh gap?"

Girls: "No! They don't even know what it is!"

Journalist: "So why do girls care?"

Girl: "It's a girl thing."
My home-based research gets different results. I asked my husband Meade if men knew or cared about the "thigh gap," and he said "hell, yeah!" He advised me to Google "Laura Petrie." Apparently, he's been thinking about the thigh gap for a long time. On further questioning, I was able to discern a difference between the thigh gap these teenage girls were waxing competitive about — a spacious dual arc at mid-thigh — and the thigh gap that Meade (purporting to represent the thinking of many men) was enthusing over — which is a hand-sized window of light at the top of the closed thighs.

"New York Times hit with sexism accusations after obit of scientist Yvonne Brill leads with her cooking ability."

"The backlash forced The Times to change the obit online Saturday and scrub a reference to Brill’s cooking ability in the lead paragraph. "
It was replaced with her professional accomplishment as a “brilliant rocket scientist.”

The obit initially began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children.”

April 1, 2013

One of "the most gruesome plays in televised sports history... did not occur on a football field, where we have come to expect the carnage of violent collisions."

It happened in basketball, and there wasn't even any touching.
[Kevin Ware] simply landed awkwardly... snapping the tibia and fibula of his right leg. One broken bone stuck through the skin of Ware’s lower leg.

“It’s a torsional injury,” said Craig H. Bennett, head orthopedic surgeon for the Maryland Terrapins, who has seen only one similar injury in the past decade. “It’s a rotational injury, and all the stress gets concentrated on one area.”

Normally, he said, knee or ankle ligaments would absorb the stress of Ware’s twisting leap, tearing if the forces were too great, or doing their job and sending him back to the game. But Ware landed in just the wrong way, Bennett believes. The result was an injury that is likely to be remembered for as long as the NCAA tournament is played.
AND: Speaking of painful basketball... "Took Obama 15 Tries To Sink A Basket On White House Court Monday."

At the Tablescape Café...


... what's the view from where your camera just happens to be sitting right now?

"Prosecutors said today they will seek the death penalty for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes."

"Holmes had offered to plead guilty and spend the rest of his life behind bars in exchange for avoiding the death penalty."
Holmes is accused of opening fire in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater on July 20, 2012, killing 12 people and injuring 58. By the time he had finished, a police officer has testified, there was so much blood the theater floor had become slippery. Bodies were left with horrific injuries and there was the eerie sound of cell phones ringing, over and over again....
Breaking news email from CNN.

The Supreme Court declines to resolve a difficult 1-person-1-vote question.

The Court denied cert. in Lepak v. City of Irving, which presented "the long-standing issue of which population basis should be used in deciding whether a redistricting plan violates the one-person, one-vote mandate."
The dispute is between using an area’s total population in equalizing districts, or using only the total of eligible voters. In a dispute over city elections in Irving, lower courts used total population, which meant that one district which had a larger number of non-citizen Hispanics would nevertheless have them included in its count.

Purchase of the day.

From the March 31, 2013 Amazon Associates Earnings Report:
Victor 0631 Out O'Sight Mole Trap
By using the Althouse portal, you can buy things you want, pay nothing extra, and make a contribution to this blog. We notice. We appreciate it. And only your hairdresser knows for sure.

The Althouse Amazon portal: where everything is alright, uptight, and clean Out O'Sight.

Reasons not to have a dog.

He doesn't understand when you suddenly do your Kirk Douglas impersonation.

ADDED: Kirk Dogless.

AND: The impersonation was based on the "Paths of Glory" clip in the previous post.

"We do find that apologies do make apologizers feel better..."

"... but the interesting thing is that refusals to apologize also make people feel better and, in fact, in some cases it makes them feel better than an apology would have.... When you refuse to apologize, it actually makes you feel more empowered.... That power and control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth."

When you think of not apologizing, what are your first 2 associations? Mine were:

"A generation ago, families could live better on one income than most of us live today on two incomes."

"Except for the very highest earners, life is just harder now than it was for our parents."

True or false?
pollcode.com free polls 

ADDED: Poll results:

"Paul Williams, a writer and critic who founded the alternative pop music magazine Crawdaddy,..."

"... one of the first outlets for serious writing about rock music, and whose critical support helped rescue the science fiction author Philip K. Dick from obscurity, died on Wednesday..."
Mr. Williams was a 17-year-old freshman at Swarthmore College when he started his magazine, in 1966. The first issue, mimeographed and stapled together, promised readers a level of critical insight into the emerging rock scene that it said was missing in fan magazines and trade publications. “Crawdaddy will feature neither pin-ups nor news-briefs; the specialty of this magazine is intelligent writing,” Mr. Williams wrote.
Williams was 64 when he died of "early onset dementia... triggered by a traumatic brain injury suffered in a bicycle accident in 1995."

Here's an old interview with Williams. Excerpt:
Pat Thomas:   How did you get the idea? This was really the first rock magazine or fanzine...

Paul Williams:   Well, there were two big influences on me. One was that I'd been a science fiction fan and was used to putting out magazines. When I was 14, I put out my first science fiction fanzine, and there was a whole community of people doing that, and I put that out for a couple years. You know, mimeograph stencils and writing your own magazine seemed normal to me coming out of that world. The other influence was, when I started Crawdaddy! I was at Swathmore College near Philadelphia, I'd grown up in Cambridge and the Boston suburbs, and there was a very active folk scene, and of course there were folk music magazines...

Pat Thomas:   Like Sing Out and Broadside...

Paul Williams:   In Boston there was one called Boston Broadside, which was really great and it came out every week, and that was really a model for me, too. When I turned from being a folk music fan, 'cause I'd been a real Club 47, you know, blues/folk fan, and the Rolling Stones converted me to rock 'n' roll--'cause it was kind of like a passageway from blues to rock. It's interesting, because after resisting the Beatles and kind of liking some of their songs, or even a couple Beach Boys songs, I was still not taking any of it seriously because I was a folk snob. Then I got really excited about Rolling Stones Now! and the single "The Last Time," and the Kinks's "You Really Got Me" and the Beatles's "Ticket to Ride."

1 in 5 school-age boys have ADHD.

That's the diagnosis anyway.
“Those are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.”

And even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D. to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. A.D.H.D. is described by most experts as resulting from abnormal chemical levels in the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attention skills.
Possible side effects from the drugs: "addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis."

Possible side effects from viewing youthful spirit as abnormal: ????

Possible side effects from skewing academic competition with performance-enhancing drugs: ????

March 31, 2013

"I don’t want to give them the iPads at the dinner table, but..."

"... if it keeps them occupied for an hour so we can eat in peace, and more importantly not disturb other people in the restaurant, I often just hand it over... Do you think it’s bad for them? I do worry that it is setting them up to think it’s O.K. to use electronics at the dinner table in the future."

EMS workers who post pictures of the sick, wounded, and dead on social media...

"... a twisted hobby of voyeurism that has been part of the emergency-worker culture for years."
“I saw one where this victim’s head and spinal column were completely removed from his body,” [said one former EMS worker]. "Lots of people have them — patients galore, all ripped apart and mangled... And it’s not just EMS. Fire has them, too, of burn victims, and police take them of people who get killed. It runs across the service. They have them on their phones and there are lot of hardcover books like photo albums."

A nurse on Staten Island complained about one EMT who got his kicks shocking health workers with images of bodies arranged into poses. One showed a woman’s corpse hanging from a noose with a cigarette in its lips. Another showed dismembered legs placed in a sexually suggestive position.

"There are abundant terms of endearment and appreciation for women and children, and far fewer for men..."

"... this says more about the nature of the appreciation than about the nature of those being appreciated. There are many words and expressions that present women as commodities; you can still read, for instance, about women being 'married off.' Men are sometimes forced into arranged marriages, but the language used of this is not dehumanizing. We also see gratuitous modifiers: someone is described as a ‘lady doctor’ or a ‘male nurse,’ implying norms (male doctors, female nurses) that are outmoded. Even apparently innocent terms such as girl and lady are more heavily sexualized than their male equivalents."

Henry Hitchings, "The Language Wars: A History of Proper English," pages 223-224.