April 20, 2013

At the Yellower Café...


... don't be afraid.

Hollywood law: Double jeopardy.

Here's the assistant district attorney, addressing a woman who has committed a crime:
"You see, there is a law that no one may be tried twice for the same wrong. I think it's a good law. In a way, you've been tried once, Miss Kelton, and you sentenced yourself to a bitter memory that only time can erase."
That is, the accused own self-torment is the trial and punishment that speaks in favor of a decision not to prosecute (assuming the victim of the crime wants it that way). I won't put in any further spoilers, because I highly recommend the 1949 movie "Not Wanted" about a young woman who falls for a piano player and gets pregnant. If you want to think about the problem of unwed mothers in the historical context predating birth control, abortion, and the normalization of single motherhood, this is just the thing.

This is a very cheaply made film noir, with many scenes in which 2 actors emote at and around each other. Patterns of light and shadow take the place of set design. It's melodramatic, but there's complexity to the characters. The piano player — who has what I'm just guessing is the single most common name for a character in the movies ("Steve Ryan") — is played by Leo Penn, the father of Sean Penn. Leo Penn — who's great in this movie — was later blacklisted after refusing to name names before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The credits for "Not Wanted" display Elmer Clifton as the director, but he had a heart attack midway through the project and Ida Lupino, one of the screenwriters, took over. Lupino was an actress who — Wikipedia says — turned to directing when she was on suspension for refusing a role.

We watched "Not Wanted" via Amazon "instant video," streaming it with a Roku 3, which worked really well. The Roku 3 is great, by the way. It has an earphone plug in the remote control.

What's "fake" about 2 gay couples — where gay marriage is illegal — colluding to create 2 opposite-sex couples?

Here's this Daily Beast article titled "China’s Fake Gay Marriages":
In China, where homosexuality was classified as a mental illness until 2001 and a crime until 1997, gays and lesbians still face serious discrimination, [and] where the pressure to get married is strong and starts early, it has long been common for gays to marry straight spouses. Now, some are finding what they consider a better alternative. Known as “cooperative marriages,” or hunzuo hunyin, gay men and lesbian women are increasingly marrying each other — often aided by the Internet. (Such marriages are also known as “fake marriage” [jia jiehun] or “ritual marriage” [xingshi hunyin].)
This could be a structure for producing children — children who could then live with both biological parents. Obviously, a male and female can produce a child together, without ever having sex and without medical intervention. In China, this is being done in a way that deceives their family, and sometimes they're doing nothing together but having a wedding. So, depending on what the couple does, it could be fake. But what if, say, a female gay couple and a male gay couple were compatible friends, who pooled their resources to buy a big house and they really wanted to raise their children together responsibly and with both parents in the house. Would it be wrong for the males to marry the females? 

At the Black Dog Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want. Seriously. We're not judging you. Really.

Fill in the blank, Baby Boomer.

1. Kind of a ______________
2. 96 _____________
3. Tears of a ____________
4. Everybody loves a ____________
5. Everything is ___________
6. Jeremiah was ____________
7. You're my pride and joy ______________
8. All the sweet, green ______________
9. It's magic, when the music is ______________
10. His clothes are loud, but never ______________

(Fill in the blank, Baby Boomer. It's a 10-point quiz that's super-easy for Baby Boomers.)

Purchase of the day.

From the April 19, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
New Balance Men's MX623v2 Cross-Training Shoe
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 if you voluntarily show us 2 forms of ID, along with allowing us to measure your feet for ourselves, will we know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: dedicated to helping online shoppers achieve their goals with a portal designed not to fit an image, but to fit.

"He had lost a lot of blood. He was so weak that we were able to just go in and scoop him up."

Said the police, describing the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Said Lillian Campbell, the grandmother of the 29-year-old victim Krystle Campbell:
“He was a snake, wiggling through the ground, and I was afraid he got away... But now I can go on with my life. I just pray tonight everything works out OK because so many people got hurt. Not just Krystle. There’s so many more. There’s enough heartache.”
AND: "So lockdown is lifted because they can’t find the suspect…which allows boat guy to leave his house…and find the suspect."

"I came back here after the slaughter and I feel that the Lord has anointed me and appointed me to be the leader."

"I don't claim to be a prophet. I'm a teacher of righteousness, that's the only thing I claim.... The United States has to fall in order for the One World Order to be set up... Especially if there's war in the Middle East, that's when they're going to see Branch Davidians start scrambling to find out what the truth is, and where they need to be."

NPR reports on the remnants of Branch Davidians this morning. Why them? Why now? There was just a big explosion in Waco, and perhaps that naturally makes us think back to the assault on the Branch Davidians 20 years ago. I hope it's just that and not some burning need to make listeners refocus on the dangerous white male Christians of America instead of the darker-skinned Muslim Chechans accused of the bombings in Boston.

"Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?"

Asks NPR.

If you think the answer to that question is the genre is already there, it's called science fiction, then you are missing the key word literary.

The linked article talks about a new novel — "Odds Against Tomorrow" — and what "literary" means is conveyed by statements like this by the author Nathaniel Rich:
"I think we need a new type of novel to address a new type of reality.... which is that we're headed toward something terrifying and large and transformative. And it's the novelist's job to try to understand, what is that doing to us?"
"I don't think that the novelist necessarily has the responsibility to write about global warming or geopolitics or economic despair.... But I do feel that novelists should write about what these things do to the human heart — write about the modern condition, essentially."
Rich says "the novelist," but he means the literary novelist. This superior individual is the one who understands that it is his job to understand deeply what is happening deep inside. Those sci-fi genre writers might describe what happens to the exterior world, but the literary writer describes what that world does to us... to the heart... the human heart. What's the point of saying "human heart," by the way? Was it possible to to think we were talking about other beast's heart? Perhaps extra words seem literary.

"Odds Against Tomorrow" was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, which I just mentioned 3 days ago in a discussion about self-publishing that made a distinction between sci-fi and "high-end literary fiction." Sci-fi might do well self-published as an ebook...
But high-end literary fiction? Think you can attract the readers of that kind of material without a brand like Farrar Straus & Giroux attached? It's "high-end" and "literary" because high-end literary experts have done the filtering. Without that, all you have is pretension from an earnest soul who is self-publishing. How do you get that absurdly clunky vehicle going?
Speaking of extra words seeming literary, "high-end literary fiction" was not my phrase. It came from a literary agent. A high-end literary agent.

IN THE COMMENTS: betamax3000 has some great "Climate Change Fitzgerald" material, riffing on the old "Gatsby" project sentences. For example: "Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blue crêpe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering due to Climate Change."

This is a game we can all play. Here's mine, based on my favorite of all the old "Gatsby" sentences: "He went out of the room calling 'Ewing!' and returned in a few minutes accompanied by an embarrassed, extremely sweaty young man, with shell-rimmed glasses and scant hair scorched blond by the overbearing sun of Climate Change."

I don't know what to do with this story.

It makes me want to laugh. But it's wrong to laugh.

See yourself as other see you... guys too!

You've seen the oh-so-touching revelation — via Dove — to women of how others really see them. If not, catch up now:

Now, it's time for the men:

The original was always funny, of course.

ADDED: That pair of videos reminded me of the 2011 viral video "Manifesto for Conscious Men":

Which led to this parody:

Again, you didn't really need the parody. The original was already funny, but the parody is very useful if you find it hard to laugh at sensitive people, you beautiful person, you.

"At a minimum, on behalf of students and their families, I am asking legislative leaders to freeze tuition increases..."

"... for two years for the entire UW System during their deliberations on the budget," said Governor Scott Walker, seizing the political advantage after the revelation that the University of Wisconsin System has a $648 million cash reserve.

UW System President Kevin Reilly had just announced tuition would go up 2% in each of the next 2 years, which was supposed to sound like a break, since tuition had gone up 5.5% in each of the last 6 years, 5.5% being the maximum permitted by law.

"Many academics branded Bush a failure long before his presidency ended...

"... and not just fringe elements of the academy, such as Ward Churchill or Howard Zinn, but also scholars from the nation’s most prestigious universities."

Writes Professor Stephen F. Knott, noting some choice examples, including:
Historian Douglas Brinkley, author of a flattering election-year biography of 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry, declared in 2006 that “it’s safe to bet that Bush will be forever handcuffed to the bottom rungs of the presidential ladder” and that Bush purposely tried to “brutalize his opponents.”
Handcuffed to the bottom rungs? What a crappy writer Brinkley is! Picture someone handcuffed to the bottom rungs. Feet go on the rungs of a ladder, and handcuffs go on wrists. Is Bush trying to climb a ladder in the handstand position? Apparently, these elite historians would like to require any advancement by Bush to be done at a severe disadvantage.

"Across the country, the business of growing pot is fast becoming mainstream."

Says the Wall Street Journal:
But it turns out that trying to make a profit in this business is harder than expected. When grown and sold legally, marijuana can be an expensive proposition, with high startup costs, a host of operational headaches and state regulations that a beet farmer could never imagine. In Colorado, for example, managers must submit to background checks that include revealing tattoos. The state also requires cameras in every room that has plants; Mr. Klug relies on 48 of them....
When grown and sold legally?! Why is the Wall Street Journal writing that? You can't grow and sell marijuana legally. This is all a crime under federal law.
Prices for pot, meanwhile, have plummeted, in large part because of growing competition. And bank financing is out of the question: Federal law doesn't allow these businesses, and agents sometimes raid growers even in states where it is legal.
Doesn't allow? You mean: Makes it a felony. Growing marijuana is a criminal enterprise. And there are no "states where it is legal." It is illegal in all of the states under federal law. The states are in the United States — haven't you heard?!
... Pink House Blooms is a $3 million-a-year business, with 2,000 plants in a converted warehouse in an industrial part of Denver... To get started on this scale, [Elliott] Klug says he sank more than $3 million — some of it borrowed from family — into the operation. He says Pink House Blooms is profitable, with demand up 30% some months....

His advice for anyone who wants to become rich by legally dealing pot: "Start with lots of money."
Shouldn't that be: Start by not worrying about what "legally" means? This man is attracting attention, getting his name and these big numbers in print in the WSJ, which presumably loves to profile the risk-takers of business.
Last December, President Barack Obama said his administration had "bigger fish to fry" than going after recreational users. 
Nice for the recreational users to know they aren't big enough, but what solace is that for the man trying to become rich by dealing pot? He is trying to be the big fish. He's trying to get rich in a market that anyone who refuses to commit crimes cannot enter. What a terrible situation! And yet the prices are already plummeting, we're told, because of all the competition. Klug's hope of getting rich is premised on the illegality.

"Why would the Bronx High School of Science invest not in electron microscopes but in a museum of Jewish history when 62 percent of our kids are Asian?"

Winnie Hu in the NYT quotes Valerie J. Reidy, the principal of the Bronx High School of Science. The school, Hu notes, "started in 1938 as an all-boys school that served primarily Eastern European Jewish families in the Bronx, [but] its nearly 3,000 students today are more likely to be Asian and come from Queens and across the city."
While many schools teach Holocaust courses, few if any have assembled a trove of 900 artifacts, most of which were donated by alumni and local residents or bought at auctions over more than three decades. The 1,000-square-foot museum will include three exhibition galleries, an archive and a classroom. It is just steps away from the boys’ locker room that has been in the spotlight since three students on the boy’s track team were accused this winter of hazing a freshman teammate....

The Holocaust museum was inspired by the late Stuart Elenko, a teacher who brought an unusual level of passion to his course on the Holocaust. In 1978, Mr. Elenko started displaying Holocaust artifacts in a former microfilm room in the back of the school library....

“I think Mr. Elenko’s idea originally was to make history come alive for his students,” said Sophia Sapozhnikov, who currently teaches the Holocaust course. She noted that Mr. Elenko even held mock Nuremberg trials in his classroom to encourage students to explore the meaning of justice and moral responsibility.
Obviously, any high school — even if it specializes in science — must teach history, and having on site a significant historical archive — of any kind — can orient the school's history teaching toward methodologies that parallel or resemble the methodologies of science.

Is it a problem that the archive represents the alumni, rather than the current students? What is this concept of representation? In present-day education, we might tend to assume that each group is served by learning about itself, so that the black students deserve intense coverage of black history and so forth.

Perhaps the most scientific approach is to study things other than oneself, something new that requires exploration. But in that light, a problem might be that the subject of the Holocaust dictates such a strong point of view that students will fear that any sort of experimental attitude will be punished. Just last week, we saw a teacher in New York get into trouble over an assignment that required students to compose their own Nazi propaganda.

Presumably, the real purpose of the Holocaust archive is to teach "the meaning of justice and moral responsibility" — as the teachers of the Holocaust course have done over the years. That's something that public school teachers can do well, though they might do poorly. If I were teaching morality to very intelligent teenagers — which is what the students at the Bronx High School of Science are — I would want them to study problems that make it harder to tell what's right and wrong, that build up their powers of moral reasoning. I would avoid the material that lends itself to indoctrination. But I see the dangers there too. If everything is in the gray area, you're teaching that morality is a matter to be determined individually. Some things are unquestionably wrong, and that's a foundational lesson.

April 19, 2013

George Bush sent Laura "these very funny stick figure drawings of him in bed with Barney..."

"... 'Good night.'  Then, the active stick figure in the morning: 'Good morning.'"
I showed them to a friend who’s an artist here in Dallas and she thought they had a lot of creativity. George said, “Well, let’s find me an art instructor.” So my friend recommended someone who’s now George’s art instructor and he’s having a really wonderful time painting. George is very determined and he’s very, very disciplined. He paints for a lot of hours a day and it transports him. You know, he’ll go up to clean his brushes and then glance at his watch and he’s been up there for two hours.

The second Boston bomber is taken alive...

... and injured.
Two law enforcement officials said that the suspect, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, was found in a boat parked behind a house there....

A police officer at the scene said that the man was covered in blood when he was captured. An ambulance was already there. The Boston Police Department announced on Twitter: “Suspect in custody. Officers sweeping the area.” And Mayor Thomas M. Menino posted, “We got him.”

Creepy Boston lockdown.

The photo-op.

If you'd shown me those pictures a quarter century ago and told me that's what Boston will look like after a terrorist attack, I would have thought: Oh, my God! The neutron bomb!

"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

New policy announced today.

Gay adults are still excluded.

I note that "sexual orientation or preference" refers to a person's status or feelings, not behavior. And yet, I'm presuming the Boy Scouts reject all sexual acting out by youths, so that hasn't been the basis of discrimination.

At the April Snow Café...

... what do you think of that?

"How Much 'Star Wars' is Too Much 'Star Wars'?"

Hmm. I don't know. I stopped after 2. Long ago, in a ... whatever.

Kids playing "Humans Versus Zombies" with Nerf guns are criticized by the police for wasting "police resources"...

... after somebody called in to report an automatic weapon on campus. The police are informed in advance that the game is going on, and hundreds of students have had fun with this...
But with heightened suspicions after the Boston bombings, poison sent to the White House, and a concerning powder found at a Beloit health clinic, police will consider whether to allow "Humans Versus Zombies" to continue in the future, [Marc Lovicott, a UW Police spokesman said].

On campus, about a dozen students wearing orange bandannas played outside Sterling Hall on Thursday afternoon.

"I wouldn't think that any of the Nerf blasters would confuse anyone for a real weapon, because most of the new ones are bright yellow or blue," said Steven Brandt, a UW freshman on the zombie team.

"Most school shootings happen from people who are isolated and on their own," he said. "With 'Humans Versus Zombies,' I've made a whole bunch of friends -- it brings people together."
Yes, before you end "Humans Versus Zombies" based on a completely nonexistent threat, consider whether "Humans Versus Zombies" might be saving lives — drawing erstwhile loners into the group and transforming their aggressive ideation through play.

I was walking to school the other day and saw some teenage boys running along after each other wielding bright-colored plastic guns. I commented at the time, nostalgically, about how back in the 1950s there were always lots of kids running around the neighborhood shooting toy guns at each other. It was great to see something like that again. Our guns, back in the 1950s, were real metal and loaded with red paper rolls of caps.

Shutting down the whole game because of a couple stupid calls to the police? Ridiculous. As if all of life must be toned down so nobody ever "wastes" the police's time. This is Madison, Wisconsin, where the police are also intent on ending an early-May block party that's been a big tradition here since 1969... right about the time when terrorists bombed the above-mentioned Sterling Hall.

MEANWHILE, in Boston: Maybe no one is ever supposed to go outside again.

Wringing out a washcloth in space.

Think about what would happen. Then watch:

Did you predict that? Via Boingboing.

"Walker quietly tops list of GOP favorites for White House..."

"Gov. Scott Walker is the sleeping lion in a list of possible Republican candidates for president in 2016, surging to the top of some politicos’ lists who see his scandal-free past as a big boon. Mr. Walker stands above even 'first tier' Republican candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Christ Christie, political analyst Larry Sabato with the University of Virginia said, in a report from The Washington Examiner. That’s because he beat a concerted Democratic Party recall effort — and that sets him apart, and above, Mr. Sabato said."

Says the Madison rag The Capital Times, evincing a little too much devotion to Governor Christie.

"He's like a real-life Rupert Pupkin — he's gone from a cringe-maker who couldn't get noticed by the local Patch.com reporter..."

"... to an Interesting Person who'll surely be profiled by Esquire or the Awl someday in long form."

It's Paul Kevin Curtis, suspected of sending those ricin letters. This seems to be his YouTube channel. And here's his Prince imitation.

I don't know how he got into what appears to be a classroom or what those teenagers are thinking.

It's nice to be free to laugh at this one.

"World view: Islam/Personal priority: Career and money."

Screen shot 2013-04-19 at 10.24.06 AM

Via Dave Weigel.

On the subject of "A Child Called 'It.'"

The previous post refers to "A Child Called 'It'" — a questionable book that I've only ever read about.
There are no people in [Dave] Pelzer's book, only demons (his mother and grandmother), angels (Pelzer and a few foster parents), and incompetents. Psychological motivation scarcely interests him. He makes only a halfhearted effort to explain his mother's lunacy. The point is the suffering. As the trilogy progresses, Pelzer is forced to increase the dosage of wickedness to top what came before. (Iron law of sequels: They must be bloodier than the original.) His mother becomes more cartoonish, more Cruella De Vil. In the first book, she's horrible but erratic. By the third she is the incarnation of pure, calculating evil, saying things like, "You gave me no pleasure, so you were disposed of."
I just wanted to show you the passages in 2 of my favorite books that allude to "A Child Called 'It.'"

Bill Bryson's "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir" begins this way:
My kid days were pretty good ones, on the whole. My parents were patient and kind and approximately normal. They didn’t chain me in the cellar. They didn’t call me “It.” I was born a boy and allowed to stay that way. My mother, as you’ll see, sent me to school once in Capri pants, but otherwise there was little trauma in my upbringing.
And David Rakoff's "Half Empty" has an essay called "Shrimp" that begins:
Nothing assails the writer’s credibility more than the pleasant childhood. I freely admit to having had one myself. A happy fact reflected sadly in my book sales. And yet I’d sooner do most anything short of putting needles in my eyes than willingly remember what it was like to have been a child. Things were not terrible. I was neither beaten nor abused. No dank cellars or chilly garrets for me. Neither my trust nor my body were violated by a clergyman or a beloved family friend. I was safe and sound.

"It’s hard to grasp now just how intoxicating it was as a young girl to hear Gloria Steinem tell us we could be anything we wanted to be."

"Or to read, during freshman year at my surprisingly progressive all-girls Catholic school, Betty Friedan’s 'The Feminine Mystique,' eight years after it was published, saying we could find meaning outside the home."
All this seemed possible because the pill had just become widely available, and for the first time women had control over whether and when they had a child. (I will never forget finding that oddly shaped, Pez-like dispenser in my mother’s bedroom right after the birth of my youngest sister; my mother called her “That’s It” for weeks before giving her a name.)
From a long WaPo article by Elsa Walsh titled "Why women should embrace a ‘good enough’ life." The quoted part describes the author's mindset, which later changed. I chose to quote that because: 1. Her mother sounds so cold, calling an infant "That's It." (A child called "It"!) and 2. The author makes her college age self sound like a nitwit. She says she was 15 when Roe v. Wade came out, so I figure she was born in 1958. I was born in 1951, and I always thought the Gloria Steinem presentation of women's liberation was a women's magazine pep talk. Friedan's book begins as a rant about the bullshit in women's magazines. If you had a brain at the time, you didn't take this stuff at face value. I don't accept Walsh's assertion that oh, if you were only there back then in the 1970s, you'd have been thoroughly intoxicated.

There were other feminist writers back then, and there were plenty of readers interested in feminism who didn't like Steinem and who didn't bother going all the way back to Freidan. When I went to college (circa 1970), the new books young women get excited about where "Sexual Politics" and "The Female Eunuch," and the older book we went back to was "The Second Sex." These books had some critical edge and were not simply cheerleading women about having a conventional middle-class life modernized with the addition of a great career and planned, delayed reproduction.

Walsh is working off a false premise about what life was like back then. She has a book to promote, and I can understand the urge to write a book that acts like it's discovered something new. But, really, the problem with the idea that you can't really "have it all" has been well-known all along.

"[T]here are probably quite a few people in the Watertown area who wish they had a gun right about now."

Instapundit relays the opinion of several of his readers.

But let's be fair to the other side of the gun debate. There must also be a few guys in the area who look enough like the white-hat suspect that they're afraid some frightened/angry citizen will take them out.

Purchases of the day.

That's right – more than one.

From the April 18, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Lee Men's Big-Tall Belted Wyoming Cargo Short
Columbia Men's Battle Ridge Short
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 if you show us your knobby hairy knees will we know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: because it's springtime, you're rugged, and, hey, who doesn't want to be comfortable?

We get that. Really we do.

After all this talk of "dark-skinned" suspects, it seems the Boston bombers were Caucasian.


"When did the spiritual life become just another trapping of 'lifestyle' — an urgency not at the heart of the good life but of la dolce vita?"

"As one telling example, the protagonist of Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat, Pray, Love' — Julia Roberts in the 2010 movie — seeks fulfillment and happiness though prayer, yes, but amplified by world travel, pizza and a hot romance with a Brazilian businessman. It's spiritual quest as spa treatment for the soul."

The opening of a book review for "My Bright Abyss," by Christian Wiman, who, we're told, "does not fall for the sops he sometimes finds in contemporary Christianity, which too often promotes 'a grinning, self-aggrandizing, ironclad kind of happiness that has no truth in it.'"

So, okay, he doesn't "fall for the sops" he sees in people he insults, but does he fall for any sops?

What is a "sop" anyway? The OED tells us "sop" begins as "A piece of bread or the like dipped or steeped in water, wine, etc., before being eaten or cooked." Later, it becomes, as used above, "Something given to appease or pacify the recipient; a bribe." The etymology of the word connects it to "soup."

A "sop" can also be a person: "A dull or foolish fellow; a milksop" or "A person or thing thoroughly soaked or steeped in some way." The OED offers this quote from Shakespeare's "Richard III" : "Chop him into the malmsey But in the next roome... Oh excellent deuice, and make a sop of him."

A rich and sweet wine brought to England from Greece in the 16th century, Malmsey is now produced on the island of Madeira. Shakespeare writes about Malmsey in Love’s Labour’s Lost (5.2.240) and 2 Henry IV (2.1.36), but the most famous reference to Malmsey in all of literature can be found in Richard III, when Richard orders the execution of his brother, the Duke of Clarence. Richard’s hired assassins decide to drown Clarence in a large cask (butt) of the brew. When they arrive at the Tower of London to carry out the task, the unsuspecting Clarence asks for a cup of wine. The Second Murderer offers this ghastly retort: “You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon” (1.4.153).
So here's some wine to go with your pizza and hot romance, you inferior, grinning, self-aggrandizing, ironcladdedly happy religionists.

"The two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings led police on a wild and deadly chase through the suburbs..."

"... here early Friday morning that ended in the death of one of the suspects as well as a campus police officer; the other suspect remained at large while hundreds of police officers conduct a manhunt through Watertown, about five miles west of downtown Boston."
The surviving suspect was identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., a law enforcement official said. The suspect who was killed was identified as his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the law enforcement official said. Investigators believe that both of the suspects were Chechens.
ADDED: "Victim in iconic photo says he saw bomber... 'He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, "bag, saw the guy, looked right at me"'..."

April 18, 2013

"Some scholars opined that the coffee house was 'even worse than the wine room'..."

"... and the authorities noted how these places could easily become dens of sedition. However, all attempts at banning coffee failed, even though the death penalty was used during the reign of Murad IV (1623-40). The religious scholars eventually came to a sensible consensus that coffee was, in principle, permissible."

"What's wrong with being fat? Why is it so onerous to be fat?"

"I don't see anything wrong with fat."

At the Picture-in-Picture Café...


... reflect/distort.

"Although I would never ask her to take my name unless we were legally married..."

"... I am somewhat uncomfortable living a life together as a committed couple when she has another man’s name."

Unbelievably assholian question from a man in an unmarried relationship with a widow (who took her first husband's name and lived with him, under that name for 20 years, and has continued with the same name for the last 5 years).

Are your chairs and sofas too 3-dimensional...

... or are your paintings not 3-dimensional enough?

I went to that slideshow after looking at the slideshow that accompanied the NYT article "Making the Best of It at the Milan Furniture Fair," which — unrelated to what I've linked to above — happens to end like this:
Antonio Rossi, a taxi driver here, confirmed that business was slower than usual this year, though he admitted that even so, it was a great improvement over the weeks when the city was not hosting a fashion or design extravaganza. But no trade show, Mr. Rossi insisted, could provide the solution to his country’s economic woes. What Italy really needed, he said, was another leader like Mussolini.

Even though Mussolini was a Fascist?

“Everyone has problems,” he said.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 17, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Bruder Toys Jeep Wrangler Unlimited W. Horse Trailer Incl. 1 Horse
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 if you clue us in will we know it's you.

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Don't say "there is a piece of Boston in me" when orating about a bombing in Boston that put shrapnel in many victims.

Obama at the memorial today:
“Boston is your hometown but we claim it a little bit too,” he said, referring to his days as a student at Harvard Law School. “I know this because there is a piece of Boston in me.”
Given the context, that's one of the worst figures of speech ever.

It's also bad for Obama to make the disaster about himself and to bring up an aspect of his life that entails time spent not with ordinary Bostonians, but amongst the elite academics of Cambridge.

And I'm surprised at the photograph the NYT is running (at the link). It's got Michelle slouching down so that her legs are overextended in a too-casual manner, and the photographer has lined up those legs directly under Obama so that they seem, surrealistically, like his legs.

Senior Democratic senator sees the implementation of Obamacare as "a huge train wreck."

"'I just see a huge train wreck coming down,' Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., told Obama’s health care chief during a routine budget hearing that suddenly turned tense."
Baucus is the first top Democrat to publicly voice fears about the rollout of the new health care law.... Normally low-key and supportive, Baucus challenged Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Wednesday’s hearing.

He said he’s “very concerned” that new health insurance marketplaces for consumers and small businesses will not open on time in every state, and that if they do, they might just flop because residents don’t have the information they need to make choices.

“The administration’s public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade,” he told Sebelius. “You need to fix this.”...

At one point, as Sebelius tried to answer Baucus’ demand for facts and figures, the senator admonished: “You haven’t given me any data; you just give me concepts, frankly.”

ADDED: This must be the tip of an iceberg of anxiety among the Democrats, who are alone responsible for this law. For the first time, it crossed my mind that Democrats might decide to support repeal. It would be a huge admission of mistake — like denouncing a war you once supported — but at some point, going forward is even worse.

"The Boston Bombing Witch Hunt Bags Another Innocent Kid."

"Yesterday he caught wind that his name and social media profiles were being circulated online, and he did what any teenager would do: He panicked. He made his Facebook timeline private, and in one message now no longer visible, he announced he was going to clear his name. Going to the court rightnow!! Shit is real. But u will see guys I'm did not do anything."

Reminiscent of Richard Jewell and Atlanta Olympics bombing:
Early news reports lauded Jewell as a hero for helping to evacuate the area after he spotted the suspicious package. Three days later, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that the FBI was treating him as a possible suspect, based largely on a "lone bomber" criminal profile. For the next several weeks, the news media focused aggressively on him as the presumed culprit, labeling him with the ambiguous term "person of interest," sifting through his life to match a leaked "lone bomber" profile that the FBI had used. The media, to varying degrees, portrayed Jewell as a failed law enforcement officer who may have planted the bomb so he could find it and be a hero.

Two of the bombing victims filed lawsuits against Jewell on the basis of this reporting. In a reference to the Unabomber, Jay Leno called him the "Una-doofus." Other references include "Una-Bubba," and (of his mother) "Una-Mama." Jewell was never officially charged, but the FBI searched his home, questioned his associates, investigated his background, and maintained twenty-four hour surveillance of him. The pressure only began to ease after Jewell's attorneys hired an ex-FBI agent to administer a polygraph which Jewell reportedly passed....

A NYT exposé of the "boys' club" at the "Today" show — replete with "Operation Bambi" and what it really means when they say there's a lack of "chemistry."

A great NYT Magazine article, by Brian Stelter (who has an entire book coming out: "Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV"). Stelter explains why the morning shows are so important to the networks, and why being #1 matters so much. I just want to excerpt some of the imputations of sexism:

It's been a bad first quarter of first year of the second term for President Obama.

1. It's been so bad that the media dropped their erstwhile foible of talking about everything that happens in terms of what it means for Obama. And here it is, the first lap of his new term, when there's more reason than usual to talk about how things are working out for the President.

2. Obama made gun control his big issue leading into the new term. He tried so hard to deploy his speaking skills to channel the nation's emotion after the Sandy Hook massacre, and in the end he couldn't even wrangle all of the Democrats in the Senate, and he was reduced yesterday to surrounding himself with human vessels of tragedy and "a scowling Vice President Biden" and pronounce it "all in all...  a pretty shameful day for Washington." The media offered weak support by describing him as passionately angry, but I watched the video and found it surprising dull. I couldn't motivate myself to go over to my computer to blog about it last night. Obama knew he was going to lose. The theater of sympathy and outrage had gone on far too long, the show was a flop, and the leading man was obliged to take his curtain call.

3. North Korea apparently has a nuclear weapon and the nerve to use it (or to pose as if it does), and the new Secretary of State, the exceedingly dreary John Kerry, is sojourning in the general area nattering about global warming —  "the Foreign Minister and I agreed to raise the initiative above the level that it is today" — and meanwhile, back in the United States, it's really cold.

4. Obama's efforts to get some lightweight good press over basketball failed. His bracket was busted, and a cutesy photo-op produced an embarrassing video in which he went 2 for 22. That he could play basketball was an element of his legend, and now it's that video that comes to mind when we think of Obama and basketball. Does he even have another sport? Golf? Golf, unlike basketball, never worked as an element of the Obama legend.

5. He shut off White House tours, presumably on the theory that it would spark outrage at the sequester (and those terrible Republicans), but that gesture clashed with his own fun in the White House. Ordinary kids had their field trips canceled, while Obama's daughters got Justin Timberlake to come to the White House and perform right in front of them. It was another of the many parties. Wasn't Beyonce just there? And then she and Jay-Z went to Cuba, and, when criticized, Jay-Z put out a pissy rap tune that (I think) insulted Obama.

6. George Bush is making a comeback, with some charming new elements: He's a granddad and he paints pictures of dogs. The big library is opening. And then there's the new disaster in Waco, just 45 miles from his Crawford ranch, giving Bush reason to do a low-profile but touching trip to comfort the injured and the bereaved. So now does that mean Obama has to go to Texas? He's already going to Boston for a memorial service. How can he not go to Texas? But Texas is not comfortable territory for Obama.

7. Margaret Thatcher up and died. What rotten luck! What a platform for the promoters of the ideology in opposition to his! And then idiots take to the streets with all that "Ding, Dong the Witch Is Dead" childishness and disrespect, damaging the left-wing brand. Should Obama attend the funeral? Ah, at least send the Vice President. At least send somebody! No. He sends nobody.

8. What's the legislative agenda? Immigration reform? WaPo headlines: "Obama isn’t leading on immigration, and that’s a good thing." The media's attempts to help are getting really embarrassing. He's not leading, but, see, that's a good thing. Let us explain why: "Presidential leadership is a polarizing force...." Blah blah blah. What really matters are the 2014 elections. Just hang back and wait. Nothing but weakness and failure might just be a devious strategy for winning 565 days from now.

9. What's happening with Obamacare? That was the achievement of Obama's first term. If there's one thing he ought to do with this second term, it's make sure that thing gets implemented in a way that works with some degree of smoothness, at least enough that — when people finally notice what's been in the works for so long —  we don't freak out entirely. But: "A senior Democratic senator who helped write President Barack Obama’s health care law stunned administration officials Wednesday, saying openly he thinks it’s headed for a 'train wreck' because of bumbling implementation.'"

10. The trial of Kermit Gosnell is fogging up the clarity achieved in 2012 victory in the War on Women.

"A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in central Texas... more than 160 people wounded and killed an estimated 5 to 15 people..."

"... officials said, likely including firefighters who had been battling the blaze at the factory that triggered the explosion."
Images of the gargantuan fireball that devastated the tiny town of West, 20 miles north of Waco, were particularly jarring, coming just two days after a bombing that killed three people and injured scores of others at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
A different kind of explosion in a different part of the country.

Happening in Texas and involving fertilizer, it makes me think of the 1947 Texas City disaster, which killed "at least 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City fire department." (I grew up hearing about this disaster, because my parents had lived in the city at the time.)

April 17, 2013

12-year-old boy, injured in the bombing, waking up between surgeries, asks "Did mom finish?" the marathon.

We love this boy, Aaron Hern:

"Investigators believe they have identified a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings..."

"The breakthrough came from analysis of video from a department store near the site of the second explosion. Video from a Boston television station also contributed to the progress, said the source, who declined to be more specific but called it a significant development."

AND: "An official briefed on the Boston Marathon bombing investigation said today that authorities have an image of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant." 

OR: Not.

A fractured opinion about when the police can draw blood for a warrant after a drunk-driving arrest.

It's hard to know where to start in this new opinion, Missouri v. McNeely:
Sotomayor, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–A, II–B, and IV, in which Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Kagan, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II–C and III, in which Scalia, Ginsburg, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed an opinion concurring in part. Roberts, C. J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Breyer and Alito, JJ., joined. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
I start with Justice Thomas, who says the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood is always the "exigent circumstance" that avoids the warrant requirement.  He gives a clear rule.


Meade says. What?

"It means 'All together; entirely; without modification.'"

Is that some kind of official "Word of the Day"? No, just a word that came up on his screen-saver. So let it be our Word of the Day here. Try to use it today, please. And if you hear someone else use it, scream.

Unknown. Possibly of Ancient Greek origin, from ὅλος (“whole”) and βόλος (“a throw with a casting net”), or βῶλος (“lump”). May have been Latinized (i.e., -us ending as in masculine singular in Latin, as opposed to -os ending for masculine singular in Greek).
That reminds me: Lumpy died.

Also: the word "bolus" comes up a lot in Mary Roach's very entertaining book "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal":
Yes, men and women eat meals. But they also ingest nutrients. They grind and sculpt them into a moistened bolus that is delivered, via a stadium wave of sequential contractions, into a self-kneading sack of hydrochloric acid and then dumped into a tubular leach field, where it is converted into the most powerful taboo in human history. Lunch is an opening act.

I love the way June is just planted there and the other characters come in one by one: Wally delivers his lines, Beaver gets the biggest laugh, and then there's Ward. Ward was the TV dad I wanted for my father. He's jaunty, but always appropriately fatherly. And remarkably erudite. He makes a reference that I don't even get: "I think [Fred] has the idea that this party may make Lumpy the Lucius Beebe of Mayfield."

Lucius Beebe? Meade Googles to Wikipedia:
Lucius Morris Beebe (December 9, 1902 – February 4, 1966) was an American author, gourmand, photographer, railroad historian, journalist, and syndicated columnist....

A noted boulevardier, Beebe had an impressive and baroque wardrobe. Beebe's clothing included 40 suits, at least two mink-lined overcoats, numerous top hats and bowlers, a collection of doeskin gloves, walking sticks and a substantial gold nugget watch chain....

In 1940, Beebe met Charles Clegg while both were houseguests at the Washington, D.C. home of Evalyn Walsh McLean. The two soon developed a personal and professional relationship that continued for the rest of Beebe's life. By the standards of the era, the homosexual relationship Beebe and Clegg shared was relatively open and well-known....
So Ward was perhaps saying — for those in the know — that Lumpy was gay. Holus-bolus!

Purchase of the day.

From the April 16, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Scott's Cakes Boxed Cookies in a White Box
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 if you send us DNA evidence will know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: hand-made, hand-scooped, and holus-bolus baked to perfection.

"We thought it would be sitcom-style hard — not necessarily with a feel-good resolution at the end of every episode..."

"... but at least punctuated by those frequent moments of uplift indicating that, in spite of everything, life really is beautiful, isn't it?"
I'm pretty sure it's like that for some people, but for many of us, it's not. For many of us, it's not good hard, as in a "good hard workout"; it's bad hard, as in, it sometimes feels like something bad is happening to you.

But does anyone really remember this? I don't. I only know it's true because I remember saying it out loud, and because I wrote the previous paragraph almost three years ago, with Rosie sleeping at my side, in a typo-filled document titled "Before I Forget."

"[I]f the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist, white privilege will likely mean the attack is portrayed as just an isolated incident..."

"... one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates. Put another way, white privilege will work to not only insulate whites from collective blame, but also to insulate the political debate from any fallout from the attack."

Writes Salon's David Sirota:
It will probably be much different if the bomber ends up being a Muslim and/or a foreigner from the developing world. As we know from our own history, when those kind of individuals break laws in such a high-profile way, America often cites them as both proof that entire demographic groups must be targeted, and that therefore a more systemic response is warranted. At that point, it’s easy to imagine conservatives citing Boston as a reason to block immigration reform defense spending cuts and the Afghan War withdrawal and to further expand surveillance and other encroachments on civil liberties.
This is just about exactly the opposite of what Rush Limbaugh was saying yesterday.

If only I had these clothes, I could have this relationship.

Isn't that the implicit message when a clothing ad poses a man and a woman together? But then look at these 2 characters, in an emailed advertisement, received just now, from Lucky Brand:

I showed this picture to Meade, and he said "Lean in."

Is traditional publishing particularly bad for "high-end literary fiction"?

That's what's said by Sloan Harris, at the literary agency ICM, which is starting a self-publishing service.
For certain clients, Mr. Harris said, self-publishing “returns a degree of control to authors who have been frustrated about how their ideas for marketing and publicity fare at traditional publishers.” Both Mr. Harris and [David] Mamet said that the big publishers focused mostly on blockbuster books and fell short on other titles — by publishing too few copies, for instance, or limiting advertising to only a short period after a book was released.
Mamet, who's self-publishing his next book (a novella and 2 short stories "about war"), said:
“Basically I am doing this because I am a curmudgeon... and because publishing is like Hollywood — nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”
Traditional publishing may be bad, but that doesn't mean self-publishing will be better. Have you got some unpublished "high-end literary fiction" lying around? Do you have any idea how much of that sort of thing there is washing around on the hard drives of the world's self-appointed geniuses? What if it were all suddenly available on websites like Amazon?

You already know David Mamet. He got the NYT to write an article about the book he's self publishing next week. Here's a picture of him gesticulating (perhaps "about war"). It's got a caption telling us he's Pulitzer Prize-winning. He doesn't like the traditional publisher's marketing, and look how well he's doing his own marketing. I'm sure he'll do just fine.

And so will other people who can leverage publicity. And writers in popular genres like romance and sci-fi may succeed. But high-end literary fiction? Think you can attract the readers of that kind of material without a brand like Farrar Straus & Giroux attached? It's "high-end" and "literary" because high-end literary experts have done the filtering. Without that, all you have is pretension from an earnest soul who is self-publishing. How do you get that absurdly clunky vehicle going?

"Rest in peace SHAME!"

Only one mean image mixed in with the the BBB's otherwise lovely collection of pictures from the funeral of Baroness Thatcher.

ADDED: Here's the NYT article:
"This, at Lady Thatcher’s personal request, is a funeral service, not a memorial service with the customary eulogies. At such a time, the parson should not aspire to the judgments which are proper to the politician; instead this is a place for ordinary human compassion of the kind that is reconciling."...

There was no immediate sign of large-scale protests by anti-Thatcher demonstrators but the police kept watch on anyone who might seem suspicious....

At Ludgate Circus, close to St. Paul’s, a small group of protesters gathered, some with banners reading: “Now bury Thatcherism.” Some jeered and shouted, “good riddance.”
Which Americans are in attendance? 3 former Secretaries of State: Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, and James A. Baker 3d.

"President Obama did not send a senior serving member of his administration."

Abbottabad — the city where Osama bin Laden was killed — is building an amusement park.

I missed this story back in February. Noticing it now after Googling Abbottabad for the last post.
"This project has nothing to do with Osama bin Laden," [said Syed Aqil Shah, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's minister for tourism and sports], adding: "We are working to promote tourism and amusement facilities."
Imagine a bin Laden-themed amusement park. The mind reels.

"Terrorists want large, splashy attacks on specific sorts of targets that have high emotional resonance..."

"... for both the victims and the people on your side who you hope to recruit, or tap for money.  This helps explain why Al Qaeda was so obsessed with the Twin Towers, a place that — until they fell — most New Yorkers regarded as a rather ugly landmark containing some so-so office space.  To a terrorist group looking for publicity, on the other hand, it had immense symbolic value: the tallest building in America's biggest city, with the hubristic name of 'World Trade Center.' That's why we don't get high-frequency, low-intensity attacks on crowded spaces near some Texas town that no one in Abottabad [sic] has ever heard of.  When attacks on those places happen, they tend to be the provenance of local lunatics for whom the nearby mall, or primary school, has some immense symbolic emotional importance."

Says Megan McArdle. This reasoning suggests that if only we'd avoid prideful spectacles we could deflect the Qaeda crowd. But there will always be local lunatics, and it's impossible to avoid all the tiny targets like schools and shops that every town has....
Adam Lanza was bullied while he attended Sandy Hook Elementary and his mother Nancy considered suing the school for turning a blind eye to the abuse, an unnamed Lanza family member told the New York Daily News.

“Adam would come home with bruises all over his body,” the relative told the Daily News. “His mom would ask him what was wrong, and he wouldn’t say anything. He would just sit there.”
Know your local lunatics. And for God's sake don't torment them. Don't create them out of whatever raw material you find around. Here's a pressure cooker. What can we put in it?

Now, these local lunatics tend to show their faces. It's a showdown. They die or get captured quickly. We know who did it.

On 9/11, every building I saw seemed shockingly vulnerable. I wondered if all buildings would come down. How deceptively solid these things seem, but there are people in the world who would destroy everything anybody builds. And yet so many buildings have remained standing all these years. I didn't think it would work out this well. Terrorists in my town bombed a minor spectacle of a building 40 years ago, but since 9/11, the building have held up.

After 9/11, I obsessed about what the terrorists would do next and, naturally, I thought of the things that would hit me and the people I knew. I pictured a day when 100 suicide bombers, one by one, in 100 different college towns stepped into a crowded café or movie theater or sports event and blew up. But that never happened. McArdle's theory suggests why. That's local-lunatic level. Too lowly for the Qaeda-type brand.

But is a crowd waiting at the finish line of the Boston Marathon such a spectacle? Are crappy pressure-cooker bombs the mark of a prideful organization that once commandeered 4 jet planes and piloted 3 of them into major landmarks?

We don't yet know who the Boston bomber is or even whether it's bomber or bombers. Using McArdle's reasoning, one wonders who fixates on the Boston Marathon. Do the people in Abbottabad care about our lengthy footraces? And why target the spectators? Or was the first bomb, planted in the spectators, supposed to make the runners run toward the second bomb? That's an evil trick, but hardly anything that seen from the other side of the globe could look like glory.

"The Left Politicizes the Boston Bombing."

Rush Limbaugh illustrates his theory that "the left politicizes everything" with many quotes from the aftermath of the Boston bombing. Excerpt:
Peter Bergen, CNN, in a tweet said, "Right-Wing Groups Might Have Something to do with This." A blogger at the Huffing and Puffington Post, "We don't know anything yet, of course, but it is Tax Day, and my first thought was all these anti-government groups. But who knows." Well, yeah, it's Monday, too, when this happened....

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times: "Explosion in Boston is a reminder that the ATF needs a director. Shame on Senate Republicans for blocking the appointment." Well, how many of George W. Bush's cabinet appointees were held up because of the Florida aftermath? How many of Bush's cabinet appointees were held up? How many vacancies were there unfilled at the time 9/11 happened, at which point we could today blame the Democrats for 9/11, simply learning from the way Kristof is looking at what happened in Boston.

It's gotta be Republicans' fault because the ATF is vacant, doesn't have a leader, doesn't have a director. I tell you, it's sickly, sickly absurd....

April 16, 2013

At the Spring Ice Café...


... you don't need to make sense.

If race is to be taken into account, what kind of percentage of a particular race must an individual possess?

The oral argument in the Supreme Court today was about the federal Indian Child Welfare Act.
Under the state court's interpretation, said [Paul Clement, representing the guardian ad litem appointed by the state court to determine the child's best interest], ICWA moves the inquiry away from the child's best interests to focus instead on biology, the birth father and race — namely, that the child has 1 percent Indian blood.

I am reminded of the Court's pending affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas, in which there were some pointed questions at oral argument about the problem of taking race into account when the individual's racial percentage — always a sticky topic — is minimal and self-reported:

Back to today's case:
Pressed by the chief justice,  [Charles Rothfeld, representing the father] said that it doesn't matter how large or small a child's Indian heritage is because under ICWA, an adoption cannot go forward if a biological parent wants custody and is not a threat to the emotional or physical safety of the child.
Troubled by Rothfeld's contention, Justice Stephen Breyer noted that the father here appears to have "three Cherokee ancestors at the time of George Washington's father." And if you accept that view, said Breyer, "a woman who is a rape victim" could be at risk of having her child taken and given to the Indian father....
The court's decision in this case, [the adoptive parents' lawyer, Lisa Blatt] told the justices, is going to apply to other absentee Indian fathers who have impregnated non-Indian women. These women, she said, will be rendered "second-class citizens" with "inferior rights," and "you're basically relegating the child ... to a piece of property with a sign that says 'Indian, keep off, do not disturb.' "

FBI-trained forensics artist draws the same woman based on her description of herself...

... and the description of her by a random stranger who had just met her.

"Our self-perceptions are generally kind of harsh and unbecoming when really that's not how the world sees us."

This was very nice, and contained some truth, but it was produced to promote a product (Dove) and it expresses the product's message of self-esteem and self-acceptance. The film was edited, so I don't know if every example was shown. The subjects were chosen, perhaps to be self-critical. The strangers might have been selected for their kindness. And the artist might have framed his questions — consciously or unconsciously — to extract the critical descriptions from the subjects and gentler assessments from the stranger.

Purchase of the day.

From the April 15, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Everly 30023 Star Pik 12-pack .73mm Yellow
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 if you spit in a tube will know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: because, think about it - one of the only two things more embarrassing than accidentally dropping your pants on stage is accidentally dropping your pick during a solo and the only thing more embarrassing than accidentally dropping your pick during a solo is accidentally forgetting to use the Althouse Amazon portal.

"[P]rohibiting polygamy on 'feminist' grounds — that these marriages are inherently degrading to the women involved — is misguided."

"The case for polygamy is, in fact, a feminist one and shows women the respect we deserve."
Here’s the thing: As women, we really can make our own choices. We just might choose things people don’t like. If a woman wants to marry a man, that’s great. If she wants to marry another woman, that’s great too. If she wants to marry a hipster, well — I suppose that’s the price of freedom. And if she wants to marry a man with three other wives, that’s her damn choice...

The definition of marriage is plastic. Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less "correct" than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults. Though polygamists are a minority — a tiny minority, in fact — freedom has no value unless it extends to even the smallest and most marginalized groups among us. So let’s fight for marriage equality until it extends to every same-sex couple in the United States — and then let’s keep fighting. We’re not done yet.
I'm not endorsing this. Just anticipating that many readers will want to talk about it.

IN THE COMMENTS: Salamandyr said:
Am I right that her argument is that something is only bad if it hurts women?
Leo said:
@Salamandyr wasn't feminist grounds the example used in the supreme court when Sotomayor asked about this?
I'll answer that: Yes.

And for those who want to know my position: I note 2 completely different questions. 1. Should the state be able to criminalize the activities of more than 2 adults who engage in private rituals proclaiming that they are married and then claim to be married? and 2. Should the state recognize marriages with more than 2 adults for the purposes of tax laws and benefits programs? As to #1, I think this is a matter of individual autonomy, a combination of free speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion, and the state must leave these people alone. As to #2, I think the state can limit marriage to couples. Here, I think there can be a limit across the board: Everyone can have one spouse. You can combine #1 and #2 and have one legal marriage and additional members of the household that you can call whatever you want. It's none of the government's business.

Mitch H. said:
Polygamy is everywhere a marker for poverty, instability, and edemic social disorder. It encourages social inequality, and generally results in the trade of women like cattle, such that big men collect and stockpile wives as status symbols, while surplus and marginal men turn to violence and crime in order to "get theirs."
As a social ill, it's not worse than adultery and fornication. Some men get multiple women and some men are on the outs. Why should the people who believe in polygamy be denied their version of the same thing? If your answer has to do with how they think about what their relationships are — that they think in terms of "marriage" — that shows why there is a freedom of speech/association/religion problem.

"Feel free to rele­gate the majority’s decision to the furthest reaches of your mind..."

"... The situation it addresses should never again arise.”

"Can you think of any reason why the neck was severed if that baby was not born alive?"

The prosecutor takes a different perspective on what Kermit Gosnell's lawyer had asked the medical examiner: "Based on the totality of the evidence... you cannot testify to anyone that this fetus was born alive?"

Also: "Former employees testified last week that Dr. Gosnell gave different explanations for why he kept up to 30 specimen jars containing fetal feet." What were the explanations? Some special reason for keeping the feet? Fetus feet... feetus... a sick pun?

IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian said:
Serial killers often like to keep "trophies" from their victims.
Ruth Anne Adams said:
You must know that a strong pro-life symbol is the thing called "Precious Feet." I bet Gosnell knew that, too. 
Dr Weevil said:
Yes, a lot of prolifers wear lapel or dress pins depicting the soles of unborn babies' feet. The point is that they are utterly and obviously human even when the baby is only a few months along. The friend of a friend I first saw wearing this said that they're actual size, too, which is part of the point. (I forget what number of weeks they were actual size for: I'm sure anyone interested could find out.)

I'm sure Ruth Anne is right: Gosnell kept the feet of his victims rather than some other body part as a sick sick joke aimed at prolifers.

At the Crocus Café...


... speak up.

"In one particularly graphic photograph, Arredondo can be seen seemingly pinching shut the end of an artery..."

"... on the part-severed leg of a man being carried away in a wheelchair."
"I kept talking to him. I kept saying: 'Stay with me, stay with me,'" Arredondo told the newspaper Maine Today.
More here.

"You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you?"

"You say two houris await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?"

"At a time when racism and anti-Semitism are rampant throughout Europe, it's unacceptable..."

"... to let Galliano clothe a Eurovision representative, even if he's apologized for his past actions."

"Our retaliatory action will start without any notice from now."

"The supreme command of the Korean People's Army Tuesday issued an ultimatum to the South Korean puppet group."

"So the majority is the Court's left, with Justice Kennedy.... The dissent is per Kagan for the Court's left."

SCOTUSblog live-blogging 2 new Supreme Court cases this morning.

I was surprised at the blunt expression "the Court's left." Is that the way we talk now? In class, I take the trouble to apologize for resorting to using the expressions "the liberal side of the Court" and "the conservative side of the Court." It's inappropriate and inaccurate for some reasons, and I don't mean to say that "conservative" and "liberal" applied to the Court mean what they mean in the political context, but it does save time. One could save even more time with "the Court's left" and "the Court's right."

Should we say "the Court's left" and "the Court's right"?
pollcode.com free polls 

"Kristen Finch was a speech therapist who sometimes worked with kids with Asperger Syndrome..."

"... symptoms of which include emotional distance, inflexibility and missing social cues. Kristin and her co-workers often joked that all their husbands had Asperger's, since the symptoms overlap with stereotypically male personality traits. But then Kristen wondered—what if it was actually true for her husband Dave?"

Here's the quiz Dave Finch took. And here's the book he wrote: "The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband."

"Let me get this straight: The police department’s job is now dictating when I should have a party, and that’s OK?"

"This is what gets at the heart of the issue. It isn’t 'Mifflin concerns us,' it’s 'you guys shouldn’t party that weekend," writes University of Wisconsin student John Waters, denouncing the Madison Police Department's "condescending letter." ("Mifflin" is an annual Madison block party that dates back to 1969.)
For students only, and on this weekend only, the city thinks it is OK to turn downtown into a police state, where they will seek and destroy any attempt at having unsanctioned fun. Ridiculous.

Next: “If you look under 21 and have alcohol, you will be asked to provide proof of age.” It’s official, the Constitution is being thrown out that weekend. I’m 23, but people say I have a baby face, so go ahead, demand my ID — the Fourth Amendment is really more of a guideline anyway. Ridiculous.
The super-liberal Madison authorities go in for this show-your-papers business to thwart the freedom of individuals to associate with each other over music and beer, but let the GOP at the state level require IDs for voting and they'll say we've descended into a police state. I can just hear these "progressives" righteously lecturing about how requiring IDs for voting is really underhandedly a way to discriminate. But the police department's policy is openly discriminatory against the young (and — if you want to talk about what's really going on — I'd suggest that that it's underhandedly discriminatory against males).
I defend Mifflin more than any event we have, not out of some misplaced adolescent desire to get hammered, but because it represents everything about this school that makes me proud to wake up a Badger. Yes, our academics are awesome, but it is the social life here that sets UW apart for me. Mifflin happens to be the pinnacle of that life, and is, as it has always been, meant to be a celebration of everything it means to be a Badger.

Simply put, it’s just fun to get up early and party with your whole school after a winter of cold and two semesters of hard work at a top-notch university. To the powers that drove us to this point, I would ask that you pay attention to the entire reputation of this school, not just your idea of what that reputation should be.

"Why the Conspiracy Theorists Will Have a Tough Time With Boston."

"The attacks in Boston lack a number of the factors they need to concoct a really compelling conspiracy theory...."

Writes David Weigel, but is Weigel a man with the kind of imaginative, suspicious mind that is drawn into teasing out the limitations in an official story or is he the sort of complacent optimist who hopes there will be no more trouble? I don't know, but his list of 4 boldfaced "factors" doesn't particularly impress me. Show some respect for the conspiracy thinkers out there. And they are out there.

7.8 earthquake in Iran.

Epicenter near Khash, close to the border with Pakistan.

April 15, 2013


It looks like this close up:


And like this from a distance. That's the shoreline of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin today:


Though the temperature approached 60° and the lake water was melted, there were piles of distinctive looking ice in one place:


It tinkled like like a pile of glass fragments. Check out the texture:


It's called sharding.

2 explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line: "I saw people’s legs blown off. Horrific.... Runners were coming in and saw unspeakable horror."

"Eyewitnesses at the scene said there were two loud explosions about five seconds apart, and emergency vehicles crowded the scene. Up to 60 people have been reported injured, dozens of them seriously."

“People ask me, ‘What about the economy?’”

“My answer is, ‘Why don’t you go hire an economist? Or hire five economists and get 15 different opinions?’”

From: "As his presidential library debuts, George W. Bush prepares to return to public stage on his own terms."

Also: More paintings!

Purchase of the day.

From the April 14, 2013 Amazon Associates Report:
Japanese Hori Hori Garden Landscaping Digging Tool With Stainless Steel Blade & Sheath
by Nisaku
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 if you say it AND spray it will we know it's you.

The Althouse Amazon portal: widely known as the Swiss Army Knife of portals.

At the Morning Garden Café...


... there's new light.

"But, why wasn’t more written sooner?"

Asks Melinda Henneberger at The Washington Post.
One colleague viewed Gosnell’s alleged atrocities as a local crime story, though I can’t think of another mass murder, with hundreds of victims, that we ever saw that way. Another said it was just too lurid, though that didn’t keep us from covering Jeffrey Dahmer, or that aspiring cannibal at the NYPD.

Yet another said it’s because the rest of the country doesn’t care about Philadelphia — that one was especially creative, I thought....
That would explain covering the cannibal cop. It happened in New York. As they say: Only in New York! But who cared about Milwaukee?
I say we didn’t write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every single threat or perceived threat to abortion rights. 
Come on. Add the obvious: The media perceive the Gosnell story as a threat to abortion rights.

By the way, why are we calling what he did "abortion"? Just as a matter of clarity in the language. The grand jury report says that his method of ridding women of their unwanted late-term pregnancies was to induce labor and deliver the child. That's not abortion. That's childbirth. We're not even in the gray area where a strange term like "partial-birth abortion" could be used. It was complete birth, followed by murder. Why don't abortion rights proponents come down hard on that distinction? He wasn't an abortionist (in most of these instances), but an obstetrician-murderer. If abortion rights proponents don't want to talk about that, I'd like to hear exactly why they have a problem.