June 8, 2013

"Did doctors in a country that bans abortion under any circumstances manage to terminate the pregnancy without violating the law?"

Yes, because there was a delivery through Caesarean section, and even though the baby died soon after, the motivation of the doctors was to save the woman's life, not to kill the baby.
Sidney Blanco, one of the high court judges who ruled against Beatriz, said that “if they intervene and only Beatriz survives” because the fetus could not be saved, then it could be that her doctors “were not committing any crime.”...

Beatriz said her doctors would have terminated her pregnancy regardless of what the [Salvadoran] high court ruled, expressing a confidence that they would value her life over that of an unviable fetus.
This is a very old moral principle. I've seen it in the context of discussions of doctor-assisted suicide, where the idea is that the doctor — though ethically prohibited from killing the patient — may give pain relief, even where the consequence of the medication will be that the patient dies, because the point is to relieve the pain and not to end the life.

Ah, yes, here it is:
The principle of double effect; also known as the rule of double effect; the doctrine of double effect, often abbreviated as DDE or PDE, double-effect reasoning; or simply double effect, is a set of ethical criteria which Christians, and some others, use for evaluating the permissibility of acting when one's otherwise legitimate act (for example, relieving a terminally ill patient's pain) will also cause an effect one would normally be obliged to avoid (for example, the patient's death). Double-effect originates in Thomas Aquinas's treatment of homicidal self-defense, in his work Summa Theologiae.

At the What's-a-Dog-For Café...


... pause a moment.

"Male train drivers in Stockholm have circumvented a ban on wearing shorts in the summer by coming to work in skirts."

"Uniform regulations by the train company Arriva state that skirts or long trousers are acceptable.
At a meeting last year, drivers were told that shorts were not allowed."

They have given their blessing to the men wearing skirts however.< "To say anything else would be discrimination," Thomas Hedenius, the communications head, told the local Mitti newspaper, cited by the Local website. He added that the regulations were in place so staff looked presentable and tidy, adding that shorts appeared "more relaxed" than a skirt.

"PRISM Stopped Najibullah Zazi From Blowing Up Backpacks in the Subway."

New York Magazine reports:
But amid all the uproar yesterday and today, a report from CBS's John Miller — formerly of the FBI and a fairly plugged-in guy — went largely unnoticed.
"If you look at the Najibullah Zazi case, you have a classic example there. So on September 6, 2009, around dawn, an e-mail comes from an IP address to another IP address. One of them is nothing we're paying attention to. The other is one that has been flagged as an al Qaeda mail drop that is rarely used."

"And so when that bell rings, they say, 'Hey, they hardly ever use this account, but it's associated with Rashid Rauf, who is al Qaeda's master bomb maker, behind the plot to blow up all the airplanes, 'Who's he talking to?' And when they find out the other IP address on the other end resolves to Aurora, Colo., outside Denver, it connects them to Zazi, it takes them to the plot to blow up the New York subways, it's all prevented. That's how a program like this is supposed to work."...
Do you want that or not?

ADDED: Here's an article that questions whether PRISM is what caught Zazi. (Via Instapundit.) I'd seen that kind of questioning before I put up this post, but the New York Magazine piece says:
For what it's worth, the Telegraph has previously reported that Scotland Yard intercepted the e-mail, however, the U.K. reportedly also has access to PRISM.
Of course, opponents of PRISM have reason to want to deny that it's working to fight terrorism, even as its defenders are going to want to claim that it is. I'm not a proponent or an opponent at this point. I don't know enough, and — like Obama the President as opposed to Obama the Candidate/Senator — I believe it to be a complicated balance.

The best-written TV series...

... a well-selected top 25, chosen by the writers.

About those picnic tabletops...

... and the young women of the Memorial Union Terrace....

Chip Ahoy has animated his commentary into my photograph.

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"If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges..."

"... to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process, and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here," Obama said.

Lawprof Steve Shiffrin (at the Religious Left Law blog) says:
The problem is that federal judges ran away from the Constitution years ago on this very issue, and the President’s characterization of this program as a “modest encroachment” on privacy shows that he either lacks integrity or he has an impoverished conception of privacy....
The notion that we should trust federal judges to uphold the Fourth Amendment is impossible to take seriously.  As the Supreme Court stated in United States v. Miller, “This Court has held repeatedly that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the obtaining of information revealed to a third party and conveyed by him to Government authorities, even if the information is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence placed in the third party will not be betrayed.” This third party principle permits the Federal Government without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion and without any notice to you: to get all of your bank records, a record of who you have sent mail to and received mail from, and who you have phoned and who phoned you...  The claim is that we have no reasonable expectation of privacy in material we have exposed to a third party like a bank, a post office, or an internet provider.  This line of reasoning is worthy of a totalitarian state.....
Another way of putting that is to say we might be able to trust the judges to follow the existing legal doctrine, but the 4th Amendment doctrine doesn't protect us as much as you might think.

"The doctors told a story of a married man who got a transplant, and whose wife had a parrot."

"They told them the parrot had to go. The wife refused. The guy caught an avian infection and died after going home. I don't know if that was premeditated or not, but the story sent home the message. So, I had all my bird stuff taken down and cleaned up, and I avoided gardening and playing in my pond for a while...."

Also: "While we are on the subject of grossity and contact with it, I have a suggestion for dog owners...."

AND: Thanks to bagoh20 for the parrot story. Click on the link for the whole thing.

The new Woody Allen movie seems kind of like "A Streetcar Named Desire"...

... with Andrew Dice Clay as Marlon Brando:

"'Back when your sister had all that money she wanted nuttin' to do with you; now that she's broke, she's movin' in,' says Andrew Dice Clay, proving that a guy from Brooklyn can handle the cadence of Woody Allen dialogue just fine."
He has less (and much grayer) hair and has put on a few pounds, but the 55-year-old is still unmistakably the guy who once upon a time sold out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row – the only comedian to date to ever do so.
It's great to see Andrew Dice Clay make a comeback. Do you remember how he was destroyed? Interesting to think about how Woody Allen might empathize with a man's destruction, but what happened to ADC is nothing like the problems Allen had. I remember the first time I saw Andrew Dice Clay — on TV, doing his typical routine — and I thought it was obviously a spoof of exaggerated masculinity. Later, I found out that right-thinking women were supposed to assume the "that's not funny" position.

"Anybody who is a Republican who goes into politics and thinks they're going to get a fair shake from the mainstream media is obviously missing some IQ points."

"You go into it knowing you're going to have a tough road with the media and if you're not willing to deal with that, don't get into the race."

"Americans Think Officials Knew About IRS Political Targeting/Majority disapproves of the way Obama has handled the matter."

A new Gallup poll.
Americans generally see the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS as a serious problem, and they don't believe it was merely a function of rogue behavior at the local IRS branch responsible for processing the applications, but something top-ranking officials at the IRS or within the Obama administration were aware of. Importantly, independents join Republicans in expressing these concerns.

How damaging this will be for President Obama is still unclear, however. On the one hand, his overall job approval rating continues to register well above his rating on the IRS matter, suggesting that other issues matter more to Americans....
Or people just insist on liking Obama.

"Obama says federal judges can be trusted to keep data mining/PRISM programs honest."

"Why? When his administration got one, meaning a judge, to sign the Rosen one."

"Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant..."

"... according to people briefed on the negotiations," writes Claire Cain Miller in the NYT.
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions....

While handing over data in response to a legitimate FISA request is a legal requirement, making it easier for the government to get the information is not, which is why Twitter could decline to do so....

[I]nstead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said....
Read the whole thing. I found it telling that the NYT threw in — amidst all the legal and technical things — this paragraph:
Even as the White House scrambled to defend its online surveillance, President Obama was mingling with donors at the Silicon Valley home of Mike McCue, Flipboard’s chief, eating dinner at the opulent home of Vinod Khosla, the venture capitalist, and cracking jokes about Mr. Khosla’s big, shaggy dogs.
And with that, I feel the mainstream tide turning against Obama. The meaning of the famous smile has changed.

"It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation..."

"Yes, we can."

"... We're gonna change it, and rearrange it, we're gonna change the world..."

"The heckler wrote: 'After years of these lonely, isolating and dehumanizing experiences...'"

"'... I’ve only recently been able to find the strength to advocate for myself and millions of others.'"
So basically she waited until laws were changed, the political battles were fought, and even TV commercials and marketing ads contain openly gay themes in people presented as normal Americans. Then, when gay marriage and family life is normalizing legally and socially, she comes out of the closet as an aggressive, rude activist.

Sounds like she waited until it was safe, and now she is jumping on the wagon after it's left the barn, trying to be loud and attract attention to her false pretense of bravery.
Top-rated comment on the WaPo column "Why I confronted the first lady."

June 7, 2013

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Vornado 660 Whole Room Air Circulator, 4 Speeds

"The headteacher of a Cambridge sixth form has defended an exam question which gave teenagers a raunchy description of sexual intercourse."

"Cambridge exam board OCR asked AS-level Latin candidates about Ovid’s Amores, in which the poet tells his mistress she can sleep with other men."

The students are 16 or 17 years old. Here's the controversial passage, translated:
“...slip off your chemise without a blush and let him get his thigh well over yours. And let him thrust his tongue as far as it will go into your coral mouth and let passion prompt you to all manner of pretty devices. Talk lovingly. Say all sorts of naughty things, and let the bed creak and groan as you writhe with pleasure. But as soon as you have got your things on again, look the nice demure little lady you ought to be, and let your modesty belie your wantonness. Bamboozle society, bamboozle me; but don’t let me know it, that’s all; and let me go on living in my fool’s paradise.”

"How The Human Face Might Look In 100,000 Years."

Key word: "might."

Obama: "I welcome this debate and I think it's healthy for our democracy. I think it's a sign of maturity..."

"... because probably five years ago, six years ago we might not have been having this debate. And I think it's interesting that there are some folks on the left but also some folks on the right who are now worried about it, who weren't very worried about it when it was a Republican president."

I watched the video at the link 3 times because I was fascinated by the hesitations and the facial expressions. I can't tell when/whether he's lying, but I can tell when he's pleased with himself.

Death on death row... by natural causes.

Night comes for the Night Stalker.

Lakeside — at last a sunny day.

At the Memorial Terrace, on the shore of Lake Mendota, young women took to the tabletops for sunning and slumbering:


Meanwhile, in the neighborhood...


... Abby meets 2 adorable Shelties:


"The top intelligence official in the United States condemned as 'reprehensible' leaks revealing a secret program to collect information from leading Internet companies..."

"... and said a separate disclosure about an effort to sweep up records of telephone calls threatens 'irreversible harm' to the nation’s national security."
The comments by James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence,... raise the specter of broad, new investigations into the leaks of secret and classified government documents at a time that Mr. Obama’s administration is already under fire in Washington for aggressively pursuing unauthorized leaks of information by monitoring the activities of journalists.

Questions began about how the documents — marked TOP “SECRET//SI//NOFORN” — emerged even as lawmakers, civil liberties activists, technology executives and members of the public reacted to the scope of the surveillance efforts.

Google's official blog: "What the ...?"

"You may be aware of press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers...."
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday....
Hey! They sound like Obama... found out when they heard about it in the news, just like you....

AND: Here's Mark Zuckerman's official response at Facebook:
Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday.
I was contemplating the possibility that PRISM is a fake, a decoy of some kind, but I see that government officials — in the opinion of the NYT — have admitted it exists:
Government officials defended the two surveillance initiatives as authorized under law, known to Congress and necessary to guard the country against terrorist threats...

In confirming its existence, officials said that the program, called Prism, is authorized under a foreign intelligence law that was recently renewed by Congress....

"You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience."

"You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society."

"'My remarks are not sitting here,' the President declared awkwardly."

"I’m uhhh….people….oh goodness….uhhhh...folks are sweating back there right now."

Oh, no. I hope he's not trying to make us feel sorry for him.

Here's how Drudge graphically depicts the story (using a photo from some other event (video of the actual event at the first link, complete with stumbling aide)):

Wait. Now, I am freaked out.

I hate PowerPoint! Are we supposed to consume this? I feel sorry for everyone who has to get through meetings were information is inflicted on you in that form.

AND: Beyond the horror of PowerPoint, why does no one seem to be outraged that a secret national security program is getting leaked and exposed?

The NSA data collection program separates the partisans from the ideologues...

... now that the President is a Democrat.

Where are you?
pollcode.com free polls 

"I didn't want to be pope."

Said Pope Francis after a little girl asked him if he wanted to be pope. He also said — speaking with a bunch of children — that "he's living in the Vatican hotel for his 'psychiatric' health."

IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said:
"...he's living in the Vatican hotel for his 'psychiatric' health."

The name's Francis..., but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me Francis, and I'll kill you.

"The New York Times editorial board has quietly changed the language in the most widely cited line from Thursday's scathing editorial..."

"The line — 'The administration has now lost all credibility' — was changed Thursday night to read, 'The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue.' No correction or explanatory note was appended."

The NYT should indicate the correction, but the explanation is obvious. They assumed "The administration has now lost all credibility" would be read to refer to the issue under discussion (anti-terrorism surveillance) and not to everything the government does. But the line was so deliciously juicy that Obama antagonists everywhere wanted to quote it. Adding the plodding "on this issue" was a way to say back off, idiots, you know what we meant.

But as I said, they needed to note the correction. In not doing so, they've given Obama antagonists one more thing to slaver over.

"I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war."

"He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work."

He = Glenn Greenwald. The quote, from Andrew Sullivan, appears at the end of a NYT profile of Glenn Greenwald, the man who received and publicized the leaked secret court order about the NSA acquisition of phone records.

Selecting that Andrew Sullivan quote for this post, I didn't think about the fact that it's one gay man commenting on another gay man, but I'm thinking about it now, as I read the linked article more carefully and see this quote from Greenwald:
“I do think political posture is driven by your personality, your relationship with authority, how comfortable are you in your life,” he said. “When you grow up gay, you are not part of the system, it forces you to evaluate: ‘Is it me, or is the system bad?’ ”
By the way, I believe there's a deep connection between a person's individual psychology and his political positions. It's a central topic of mine on this blog, as you may have noticed (or not, depending on the kind of person you are). Whenever I encounter someone who insists that he's purely reasoning about the issues and deciding everything rationally, I always wonder what's going on in his psyche that's given rise to his need to be seen that way.

And now, here's Greenwald, inviting us to analyze his politics based on his homosexuality. "When you grow up gay...." One might say, when you grow up gay, you might have an exaggerated fear of surveillance by the authorities. Or when you grow up gay, you're critical of others who grow up gay and are too pure and lacking in sophistication....

But I doubt if Greenwald really wants other people analyzing him that way. He only wanted to leverage his specialness into a super-power to see when the system is bad

"Thank You for Data-Mining: The NSA's 'metadata' surveillance is legal and necessary."

Say the editors of the Wall Street Journal.
Someone leaked a classified three-page order from the special court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian newspaper, who is a committed anti-antiterror partisan....
I suspect it was someone who wanted to distract us from the IRS scandal (and other scandals) so that the scandal of the moment would be one that's about Bush. I supported Bush's war on terror and resisted the "committed anti-antiterror partisan[s]." It became very important to fight terrorism after 9/11, and one reason I decided to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 was that I thought it would be helpful for Democrats to be put in a position where they would need to endorse things Bush chose to do to protect us from terrorist attacks. This is what we are seeing now. It's also important not to violate constitutional rights, but questions of rights and national security need to be analyzed. Don't assume Glenn Greenwald has it right. He's an advocate for one side of a difficult argument.

Back to the WSJ:
The outrage this time seems to stem from the fact that the government is widely collecting call records, not merely those associated with a particular suspect or group. But this fear misunderstands how the program works. From what we know, the NSA runs algorithms over the call log database, searching for suspicious patterns over time.
Here's where the other Obama scandals come in. How do we know the government is dutifully concentrating on national security — fighting terrorists and not political enemies? That kind of mistrust matters, but it's not specific to the NSA program. It undermines everything government does. What would you like government to stop doing now that you can't trust it with anything?
If the NSA's version of a computer science department operates like the rest of FISA, the government is cautious to ensure that its searches are narrowly tailored and specific protocols are reviewed by FISA judges.
If... That's an important if, but that's not the focus of the criticism by people like Greenwald.
The real danger from this leak is the potential political overreaction....

"Ramos was tied up at the woman's funeral. Mourners threw him into the open grave..."

"...  placed the woman's coffin in it and filled the grave with earth."

June 6, 2013

At the Blue Iris Café...


... you can't be that blue.


... this is kind of why I voted for Obama!

"Do you want to be near people or away from people?"

The restauranteur asked Governor Deval Patrick, the day after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 
"I said, ‘As far away as I can.’ So she put in the corner, me and my book on my iPad, and she starts bringing me things. Some of them edible. In fact all the food was edible. She starts bringing me things to drink as a celebration. And by the end of the meal, I was actually quite drunk, by myself.”

"Pretzels and free will."

That's the title of a blog post of mine from June 11, 2004. I just feel like reprinting it:
As I was grading bluebooks in the café at Borders today, two little girls sat down at the next table. Each had a glass of water and a package of pretzels.
GIRL A: Tell me a story.

What was so wonderful about Esther Williams?

She was a swimming movie star. She died today at the age of 91, and I didn't think I had anything to say. Here's what Pauline Kael had to say: "Esther Williams had one contribution to make to movies — her magnificent athletic body... And for over 10 years MGM made the most of it, keeping her in clinging, wet bathing suits and hoping the audience would shiver." That all seems so pointless and buried — submerged — in the past. But I found this YouTube montage, and I can understand what people must have found so mesmerizingly sexy:

There's something sexy about water, and she makes us feel that sexiness in such a wholesome and sublime way. Yes, it's perfectly silly too.

Prove you're not a photograph.

If I were to get the "wrinkle your forehead" test, I could not do it. And not just because I have bangs. I cannot make that horizontal lines thing happen.

"Frankly, whenever I see a complaint alleging racism these days, I assume it’s a political hatchet job by political hacks."

"That assumption is generally borne out," says Instapundit, linking to this (of mine) and to Above The Law's "A Tale of Sound & Fury (But No Transcript): In Defense of Judge Edith Jones."

My post — "Character assassination attempted on 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones" — encouraged people who actually attended Jones's talk at the University of Pennsylvania Law School to write to me. I'm still hoping someone made a recording, but I did get this response from someone who attended (and who gave me permission to reprint this):

President Reagan, on June 6, 1984, commemorating the 40th anniversary invasion of the Normandy Invasion.

"Meet Jeff Chiesa."

"Governor Christie’s U.S. Senate Appointee Has Spent More Than A Decade Fighting For And Defending The People Of New Jersey."

A press release received just now in the email:

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"Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters" [Kindle Edition]
Helen Smith (Author)

"My husband and I both date other partners, and we've been doing so since before we were married."

"It was our first choice of approach for the relationship (not a fallback position). Initially we both dated relatively casually outside of our marriage, although I started seeing someone about a year ago with whom I unexpectedly fell in love. These days I am only seeing my two lovers, while my husband continues to date other people causally."

From a Slate article by Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins titled "How Do You Maintain Desire in a Long-Term Relationship? Date Outside the Marriage." Jenkins and her husband are both — she says — "professional philosophers."

Some people stay single because they love dating. Some people get married and think finally, no more of the ordeal that is dating. And then there are the "philosophers"....

ADDED: Jenkins writes that her "husband continues to date other people causally." Philosophers are careful with language, I think, so I take that to have something to do with the processes of cause and effect. We are talking about relationships. And the expression "causal relationship" is common. But it's possible that Jenkins got careless, like that time she "unexpectedly fell in love," and maybe she meant that her husband "continues to date other people casually," which is nice for her, since that crazy thing called love is annoying when your spouse does it with someone else when you are dating "Accidentally... Without design or previous intention; as it happens or happened; by mere chance" — (to use the OED definition of "casually").
1828 C. Lamb Poor Relations in Elia 2nd Ser. 149 He casually looketh in about dinner time.

"The National Security Agency’s seizure and surveillance of virtually all of Verizon’s phone customers is an astounding assault on the Constitution."

Says Senator Rand Paul in a press release, received just now in the email:
After revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted political dissidents and the Department of Justice seized reporters’ phone records, it would appear that this Administration has now sunk to a new low.

When Sen. Mike Lee and I offered an amendment that would attach Fourth Amendment protections to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act last year, it was defeated, and FISA was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Senate. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked that FISA was “necessary to protect us from the evil in this world.”

The Bill of Rights was designed to protect us from evil, too, particularly that which always correlates with concentrated government power, and particularly Executive power. If the President and Congress would obey the Fourth Amendment we all swore to uphold, this new shocking revelation that the government is now spying on citizens’ phone data en masse would never have happened.
I don't know why you'd need to "attach Fourth Amendment protections" to a statute. I'll just observe that Senator Paul is a very active participant in the debate about what rights are. So is President Obama (and so was President Bush in his time). I think the legal questions are complicated, but if people do not find these things "astounding" and "shocking," the President is likely to win.

UPDATE: Another press release from Paul: "Sen. Rand Paul today announced he will introduce the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013, which ensures the Constitutional protections of the Fourth Amendment are not violated by any government entity."
“The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. I have long argued that Congress must do more to restrict the Executive’s expansive law enforcement powers to seize private records of law-abiding Americans that are held by a third-party,” Sen. Paul said. “When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act, which would provide exactly the kind of protections that, if enacted, could have prevented these abuses and stopped these increasingly frequent violations of every American’s constitutional rights.

“The bill restores our Constitutional rights and declares that the Fourth Amendment shall not be construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause.” 

Ellen Sturtz, the 56-year-old lesbian activist, who heckled Michelle Obama and says she was "taken aback" when Michelle "came right down in my face."

As discussed in this earlier post today, Michelle Obama said "Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving," and now Sturtz would like us to know that "she told Obama she was happy to take the microphone to plead her case," which — she claims — "appeared to fluster the first lady."
“I said I want your husband to sign the executive order,” Sturtz said. “Her husband could sign this order tonight and protect 22 percent of the work force in this country.”

Sturtz said she paid $500 to attend the fundraiser, part of a protest cooked up by the gay rights group GetEqual, which gained notice in Obama’s first term for hectoring him during speeches and demanding more action on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
I get a whiff of sexism from the use of the word "fluster." That's a word that people have traditionally used — this is my observation — to portray a woman as incapable of standing her ground and dealing with emotional turmoil.

The (unlinkable) OED defines the transitive verb "to fluster" to mean "To flurry, confuse":
1785   A. Murphy Way to keep Him (new ed.) i. 26   Ma'am, if I was as you, I would not fluster myself about it.
1816   Scott Antiquary III. v. 112   The aged housekeeper was no less flustered and hurried in obeying the numerous..commands of her mistress.
I find it arrogant and annoying for this protester to claim to have flustered the First Lady. The First Lady was angered (and justifiably).

"I'm a little concerned that things have gotten a little out of whack."

For the annals of great quotes from the Obama administration.


... rage.

"I just got a haircut, and it's short enough that I can no longer play with my hair."

"What can I do instead?"

You might think this is an opportunity to how to avoid nervous, compulsive behavior, but here is someone trying to get new ideas for fidgeting.
Temporary fixes I've used in the past include playing with hair elastics worn around a wrist and squeezing small plushies/stuffed animals, but these tend to loose their appeal quickly with me. Knitting also quells this urge, but it's not really an option during my work day. Chewing gum is also out due to TMJ.

"Blue Is the Warmest Color" — that movie about lesbians that won the grand prize at Cannes — is hated by...

... the lesbian who wrote the graphic novel upon which the movie was based. And by "graphic novel," I don't mean that it has detailed descriptions of the sexual act. (The movie, however, has a 10-minute sex sequence that the author calls pornographic.) What I mean is what the NYT is referring to as a "comic book-novel" to avoid the ambiguity that appears in my first sentence.

Here's the Wikipedia article for "graphic novel":
The term "graphic novel" was first used in 1964; it was popularized within the comics community after the publication of Will Eisner's A Contract with God in 1978, and became familiar with the public in the late 1980s after the commercial successes of the first volume of Spiegelman's Maus, Moore and Gibbons's Watchmen, and Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Book Industry Study Group added "graphic novel" as a category in book stores.
Oh, but the author-artist of "Le Bleu Est une Couleur Chaude," Julie Maroh, will be stuck with the less respectful terminology as the topic under discussion is porn. Her book has sensitive images like this:

And the movie doesn't capture what she meant to convey.
Noting that the director and actresses are “all straight, unless proven otherwise,” she said that with few exceptions, the film struck her as “a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn.”

Even worse, she said, “everyone was giggling.”

Heterosexual viewers “laugh-ed because they don’t understand it and find the scene ridiculous.

“The gay and queer people laughed because it’s not convincing, and find it ridiculous,” she continued. “And among the only people we didn’t hear giggling were” the “guys too busy feasting their eyes on an incarnation of their fantasies on screen.”
But what do you expect when a commercial movie is made from a book? The story is much less about the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters, and what's on the screen are superficial images, particularly beautiful faces and bodies, and the audience is invited to gaze and feel whatever they feel. The movie director,  Abdellatif Kechiche, said:
“What I was trying to do when we were shooting these scenes was to film what I found beautiful,” he said. “So we shot them like paintings, like sculptures. We spent a lot of time lighting them to ensure they would look beautiful; after, the innate choreography of the loving bodies took care of the rest, very naturally.”
So, like many, many movies — perhaps nearly all movies — this movie is about how beautiful women are. Meanwhile, we learn that the actresses were not as naked as they look. "We were wearing prostheses," one says, mysteriously.

"The Cronut – the US pastry sensation that must cross the Atlantic."

Big American trends that I'm only hearing about because of a foreign news report.

Wait 'til they hear about deep-fried Twinkies.

UPDATE: Kringle.

"Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama."

The Guardian reports:
The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

June 5, 2013

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Character assassination attempted on 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones.

This is truly scurrilous. I'm embarrassed for these organizations — so-called civil rights groups — who filed this complaint.

I said it first: Chris Christie may run for President in 2016 as a Democrat.

Here's my post from June 3rd:
I assume Christie wants to run for President in 2016. If so, he can't reinforce the suspicion that he's really a Democrat (unless he wants to do that Lincoln Chafee thing and become a Democrat).
Here's Rush Limbaugh on his show today:
I will not be surprised... I'm not predicting it officially here, but I will not be surprised, if when 2016 rolls around and Governor Christie is seeking the presidency, I won't surprised if he seeks the Democrat Party nomination...

"Should Sebelius step in and do something? No. She doesn’t have all the facts."

"... said New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan. Acting under pressure from a media savvy family 'or the noisiest person in line' is bad policy, he added."

One year ago today: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won his recall election.

Here's the old live-blog from that night. The #1 thing I remember from that night was the news shows all saying it was too close to call, when that was completely wrong, as I intuited:
8:31: I get the feeling the TV shows are being theatrical with their "too close to call" announcements. Looking at the HuffPo "Election Dashboard," linked in the previous update, which is an actual vote count, we've got 58.3% for Walker and 41.1% for Barrett, with 7.4% reporting...

8:35: Intrade has Walker at 93.7%. I guess nobody believes the TV exit polls.
The "too close to call" charade went on for the first hour, and as soon at the clock struck 9, they switched to calling it, which really messed with the minds of the Walker haters:
9:00: "NBC is full of shit!!! Dane County and Milwaukee haven't reported their results yet, and NBC called it for Walker?!?!" The outrage at Democratic Underground.
And here's a hilarious McIver Institute video showing the post-recall disbelief and denial:

"10 things you might not know..."

"... about India."

"The onslaught of litigation brought by 'patent trolls'..."

"... who typically buy up a slew of patents, then sue anyone and everyone who might be using or selling the claimed inventions — has slowed the development of new products, increased costs for businesses and consumers, and clogged our judicial system...."
Because they don’t manufacture products, they need not fear a counterclaim for infringing some other patent. They need not be concerned with reputation in the marketplace or with their employees being distracted from business, since litigation is their business.
AND: Here's an excellent episode of "This American Life" about patent "trolls":

At the Dog Walk Café...

... it's touch and go.

ADDED: Here's video of walking Abby in the same place on April 25th. The same stone wall appears, so you can judge the change in dog size.

AND: In both videos, Abby considers going up the unpaved path, I encourage her, and she declines. In the older video, I say "it's fun." In the newer video, I say it's "cinematic."

"If states are using DNA to verify paternity on births to underage women..."

"... why not use it to verify paternity on all births?"

"Conservatives are nearly extinct in Dane County government. Those who do remain face a bleak future with no likelihood of regaining power."

Headline and subtitle in my local newspaper this morning.

Here's the article.
Former Supervisor David Blaska (brother of former board chair Michael) remembers thinking the county was making a permanent turn to the right in 1994, when he was first elected. Conservatives had a three-seat majority on the board, Dane County was represented by Republican Congressman Scott Klug and that November, then-Gov. Tommy Thompson would carry Dane County (along with 70 of the other 71 counties) in a landslide re-election....

What does the firm progressive control mean for Dane County residents? The major difference is that county government will be free to spend on capital projects to improve services and stimulate the economy....

However, progressive power won’t bring nearly the changes it might have in the pre-Walker era. The property tax limits that Republicans have put in place limit the ability of local governments to engage in ambitious spending programs.
So, with the check on taxing imposed from the state level, we feel free to indulge our liberal fantasies as we vote locally. Is that what happened?

Susan Rice as the new National Security Advisor.

And Samantha Power as the new U.N. ambassador.

ADDED: Rand Paul: "I can’t imagine... keeping Ambassador Rice in any significant position, much less promoting her to an important position." (Video at link.)

"Are women who want to join the military now more afraid of being raped by their brothers in arms than dying for their country?"

Asks Maureen Dowd, reacting to this quote from John McCain:
"Just last night a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military, and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so. I could not."
I don't think John McCain was talking about fear. I would presume that for McCain, the courage of those in the military is understood. The question is equal opportunity in one's career, and a capable, ambitious woman choosing a career path should take account of the obstacles ahead. If one line of work is notorious for hounding women for sex and even forcing it on them and that those in charge were failing to take the problem seriously, you might decide to do something else with your life.

The Dowd column goes on to discuss the legal question of how sexual assaults should be prosecuted — inside or outside the military:
Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, told me the arguments of the brass “boiled down to an almost mystical notion of the commanders’ responsibility. Why can’t we cut the strings to the British system we inherited from George III? The British are baffled by us. They gave control over major crimes to professional prosecutors years ago. It’s an institutional structure that has outlived its utility and credibility.”
Does Fidell want us to copy the British or to stop copying the British? We're copying the old British approach and failing to change it to what the British do now. Imagine applying that legal argument across the board. Forget all the legal principles inherited from the British at the time of this country's founding and switch to what the British have devolved into over the years. I have no idea what the right answer is about prosecuting serious crimes, but I hate the general argument about giving up our legal inheritance from the British because the British themselves have tossed it out.

Dowd continues:
As Sarah Plummer, a beautiful ex-Marine who served in Iraq and says she was raped by a fellow Marine who was never prosecuted, explained to NBC News’s Jim Miklaszewski: “Having someone within your direct chain of command handling the case” is like “your brother raping you and having your dad decide the case.”
Why specify that she's "beautiful"? I get the impression it's supposed to boost her credibility. Or do you think it's a random detail? And dad deciding the case between sister and brother is a vivid and memorable analogy, but it's not completely apt. There's an issue here to be decided — how to deal with sex assaults and sexual harassment in the military — and it should be decided with sober rationality, not iffy analogies, deference to Brits, or emotional manipulation.

Michelle Obama — unlike Barack — will not be interrupted.

Everyone's paying attention to the way Michelle Obama insisted that everyone pay attention to her or she's leaving. When some lady yelled about gay rights during a fundraising speech, the First Lady said "One of the things I don’t do well is this" and that the heckler could "listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving" and "You all decide. You have one choice."

The "you" is the heckler when she says "you can take the mic." But the "you" in "You all decide" and "You have one choice" is probably the whole audience. "You all" is a way to indicate the larger group, and she says that after the crowd, we're told, applauds loudly. She doesn't order the throng to throttle the heckler, but she's essentially saying you need to shut this woman up, because obviously, no one there wants Michelle Obama to walk out.

10 days earlier, Barack Obama was famously interrupted, also by a female heckler. He was talking about his military policies, and she was anti-war. Obama — amazing many people — went off script, engaged with her criticism, and even said she — or at least her "voice" — was "worth paying attention to"
Obama departed from his prepared script by responding: "Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike. I'm willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack because it's worth being passionate about. Is this who we are? Is that something our founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave our children? Our sense of justice is stronger than that."...

After she was led out of the auditorium, Obama was applauded when he said: "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to.... Obviously, I do not agree with much of what she said, and obviously she wasn't listening to me in much of what I said. But these are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong."
Obama had his reasons for engaging with his protester. In fact, it could have been planned political theater. It might have made him look good, though it's also easy to mock him for it (or, more aptly, to mock the entire speech for going this way and that, evasively). There's no way the heckler made Michelle Obama look good, especially in contrast to her husband's recent performance. It's all too easy to portray her as arrogant and unconcerned about the interests of everyone who came to the event.

But let's be a little sympathetic. She began with self-deprecation: "One of the things I don’t do well is this." And I hear in that a reference to Barack: He does do these things well. You just saw him make vivid political theater out of engaging with a woman who yelled at him. I can't do that. I can't risk that. 

Even the statements she did make are getting critiqued! She attends these events, gives a dramatic reading of the lines in a competent, actorly fashion, and that's her public role. She can't ad lib policy on the topic of some random person's choice. (In this case, it was some executive order about federal contractors discriminating against gay people.) She only wanted to say: The planners of this event are responsible for keeping perfect decorum, and my appearance is conditional on their meeting this responsibility. They've already failed me, and they need to step up and get it right immediately.

On the spot, she found a way to say that in simple language that did not involve smacking down the heckler or ordering any minions around. She used the language of choice when addressing others and spoke of her own choice as if she were a simple and powerless person who could either continue to speak or stop.

Considering the alternatives, she did pretty well.

June 4, 2013

Most gay-friendly country in the world?


"The Paranoid Style in Bicycle Politics: A Bicoastal Freak-Out."

"When Dorothy Rabinowitz implied that New York's bikeshare program is totalitarian, she was channeling rhetoric heard on the West Coast, too."
If the critics were merely expressing their personal displeasure at the prospect of cities better suited to bike travel (or doubts about the efficacy of a particular policy aimed at making cities more bike friendly) that would be fine. Instead they co-opt the language of freedom and oppression, as if orienting cities toward automobiles is natural and libertarian, while bike shares and bike lanes are harbingers of tyranny. 

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"American singer Bob Dylan has been decorated by France's Légion d'honneur..."

"... a spokesman for the historic French order said Monday, a move that raised hackles among some of the French elite."
The Légion honors foreign luminaries by granting them honorary titles within the order. They aren't considered full members of the order, which includes the likes of 19th-century French writer Alexis de Tocqueville....

The Légion was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte as a civil and military order that was open to members of society outside European nobility....

Well, Shakespeare, he’s in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells
Speaking to some French girl
Who says she knows me well...

"I am not here as a serf or vassal. I am not begging my lords for mercy."

"I’m a born free American woman, wife, mother and citizen. And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place. It’s not your responsibility to look out for my well-being, and to monitor my speech. It’s not your right to assert an agenda. Your post, the post that you occupy, exists to preserve American liberty. You’ve sworn to perform that duty. And you have faltered."

Becky Gerritson of the Wetumpka Tea Party, testifying today before the House Ways and Means Committee about abuse by the IRS.

More shaming of the "fat-shaming" professor Geoffrey Miller.

We're already talking about him in this 8 am post. But I'll start a new one for this Inside Higher Education piece (pointed out by TaxProf).

One way to respond is humor:
A new blog was launched Monday in response to the furor. The blog is called Fuck Yeah! Fat Ph.D.s and features those proud of being "fatlicious in academia."
Or you can be super-solemn. This is University of New Mexico psychology chair, Jane Ellen Smith:

According to Smith, Miller claimed his tweets were part of a research project:
"We are looking into the validity of this assertion, and will take appropriate measures. As members of the UNM community, we are all responsible for demonstrating good judgment when exercising our academic freedoms regardless of the format”....

On Twitter, Atlantic correspondent and physician Ford Vox called the validity of Miller’s apology into question, given an essay the professor wrote about Chinese eugenics....

Miller’s essay was published in Edge this year followed up by an interview with Vice, in which he argued that the Chinese government has a long history of eugenics, and he suggested that Western countries should be making greater efforts to pursue genetic research.
There are a bunch of issues colliding here: 1. Saying flippant things about the fat and hurting feelings,  2. Making students worry that they might be discriminated against, 3. The need to prevent actual discrimination against students based on their physical characteristics, 4. Holding professors responsible for things they say in social media, 5. The professor's academic freedom, 6. The taboo against talking about eugenics, 7. What we might want to say and study about eugenics if it weren't taboo.

"I think we ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax where the average American can fill out taxes on postcard."

"Put down how much you earn, put down a deduction for charitable contributions, home mortgage and how much you owe. It ought to be a simple one-page postcard, and take the agents, the bureaucracy out of Washington and limit the power of government."

Said Ted Cruz, puzzlingly preserving the charitable deduction, which would require that somebody keeps making those determinations about which organizations count as charities for tax deduction purposes.

"Cleansing reduction" — the new trend of bathing only once a week.

The idea is to preserve the skin's natural oils. And the environment. Plus: lazy.

Should New York abandon mandatory retirement for judges aged 70?

70 for the highest court, 76 for some lower courts. There's a proposal to change this:
Some within the state’s judicial ranks have questioned [the] bill, saying it unfairly favors the high-level judges on the State Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Others counter that forced retirement encourages diversity, as older, white judges retire and are replaced by younger ones from minority groups....

Assemblywoman Weinstein pointed to a case where a “very vibrant” jurist was forced off the bench: Judith S. Kaye, longtime chief judge of the Court of Appeals, who stepped down in 2008 after turning 70.

In an interview, Ms. Kaye said she agreed that the retirement requirement should be changed. “When the age was fixed at 70, we were at a time when it was really old,” Ms. Kaye said. “Today, people are still very sharp and able — they are not statutorily decrepit.”
It was sad to see Judge Kaye needing to retire, but there's something to be said for moving judges along and bringing new people in. Here's the U.S. Supreme Court opinion that interpreted the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act not to cover state judges. The Court — composed, of course, of judges who themselves could not be forced to retire — noted the rational basis for age discrimination against judges:

Picturing Antarctica.

From the Tumblr Maps on the Web (via Business Insider)...

Antarctica without all the ice:

Antarctica and the U.S.A.:

Lou Reed gets a liver transplant.

His wife Laurie Anderson said: "It’s as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don’t get it for fun."
She described the operation as “a big surgery which went very well”, adding: “You send out two planes – one for the donor, one for the recipient – at the same time. You bring the donor in live, you take him off life support. It’s a technological feat. I was completely awestruck. I find certain things about technology truly, deeply inspiring.”
The linked article, in the UK Telegraph, brings up this old quote of Reeds':
"I take drugs just because, in the 20th century, in a technological age living in the city, there are certain drugs you have to take just to keep yourself normal like a caveman, just to bring yourself up or down. But to attain equilibrium you need to take certain drugs. They don’t get you high even, they just get you normal."
That made me think of the old Velvet Underground song "Train Round the Bend":
I'm sick of the trees
Take me to the city...
Hey, I am just a city boy
And really not the country kind
Oh, I need the city streets and the neon light
To see the train comin' round the bend...
Yes, I've heard about that light you see coming.

"The first liberal Democratic president took office exactly 100 years ago this spring."

"So why aren’t contemporary liberals bestowing the same praise on Woodrow Wilson as they lavish on Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson?"

"Wisconsin's leather community finds brotherhood and kink at International Mr. Leather 2013."

It took me way too long to figure out whether this Isthmus article was about an actual beauty pageant or a fictional theater piece about a pageant — like "Smile" or "Miss Firecracker" or "Little Miss Sunshine."

It drives me crazy — this journalism style of withholding the who-what-when so we can ease into the story with quotes and anecdotes. Is the assumption that we want to read it before we know what it's about or that we wouldn't want to read it if we knew what it was about?

"If DNA sampling was actually like fingerprinting, [the Supreme Court's] argument might be convincing."

"But of course it isn’t. Fingerprints are a phenotype that reveals nothing except a random pattern that no two individuals share. DNA, however, is your genotype: the blueprint for your entire physical person. If the government has my fingerprints, it’s like they have my randomly assigned Social Security number. If it has my DNA, it’s like they have the entire operating system."

Harvard lawprof Noah Feldman says in "Court’s DNA Ruling Brings U.S. a Step Closer to 'Gattaca.'"

Like many, Feldman bestows admiration on the oft-scorned Scalia, who dissented. Feldman — despite the admiration — refers to the Scalia opinion as "his pungent dissent." I guess he wanted a less-common adjective to tack onto the word "dissent." What are the usual words? Stinging, sharp, pointed, biting...

"In the time it would have taken him to go get a teacher, could that kid’s throat have been slit?"

"She said yes, but that’s beside the point. That we 'don’t condone heroics in this school.'"

Via Instapundit, who says:
IF YOU WANT TO RAISE MEN WITHOUT CHESTS, YOU HAVE TO START EARLY... This sort of behavior by “educators” needs to be stigmatized and punished, with names named. But bear in mind that “Sir John A. Macdonald junior high school does not ‘condone heroics,’” and that its principal’s name is Michael Bester, from whom we can be fairly certain to expect nothing in the least bit heroic, ever.
The school seems to hold the belief — often seen amongst strict gun control advocates — that the traditional role of self-defense and the defense of others ought to be relocated in government personnel. The police might not arrive the minute you need them, and yet it still seems best to train people to stand down and shelter in place. If only everyone were nonviolent, wouldn't that be nice?

IN THE COMMENTS: Mitchell the Bat said:
This is nothing new. When I was in grade school, anybody who got into a fight got punished. Period. That was the 1960's. Some students saw the policy as a convenient justification for pussing out. That was probably the whole idea, all along. That and the teachers and school principal didn't have to make any adjudicatory decisions that might get them criticized. That was probably the whole idea, all along, as well. 
Suddenly, I'm seeing this as the cause of the bullying problem. Everyone knows that the way to stop the bully is to hit him. To forbid self-defense is to empower the bully. The bully knows you pussies will keep doing what you're supposed to do.

"The deleted tweet that sent NYU Professor Geoffrey Miller into virtual hiding on Sunday and through Monday..."

"... read, in full, 'Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.'" 
Then came the rest of Twitter. Responding to one critic who called the message "judgmental," Miller wrote that finishing a dissertation is "about willpower/conscientiousness, not just smarts." Within a few hours, however, facing the rebuke of his NYU colleagues and Twitter's active academic community, Miller deleted both tweets and replaced them with two new, apologetic ones....
But it was too late: by the time Miller apologized, people had organized an email campaign directed at NYU's administration, accused him of endorsing eugenics, and dug up other incideniary [sic] tweets that he had deleted a month ago....
The author of this item at The Atlantic, J.K. Trotter, proceeds to go after Miller:
Here is a tenured, credentialed professor of psychology who appears to harbor an active disdain for those he deems genetically or physically inferior, and trades on that disdain with Twitter jokes. (Who except a snotty teenager ridicules fat people for no apparent reason?) 
Judging from the photograph of Miller, I'd say — perhaps sounding (to Trotter!) like a snotty teenager — he has a personal struggle with weight control. He's quite handsome, but there's something about the shape of his features that suggests there's a fat man inside waiting to bust loose. I suspect that's the energy behind his tweeting about willpower and shunning carbs, and I wish him well. But back to Trotter and Twitter:
On Twitter, it seems, the only thing worse than throwing around a repugnant idea is lying about whether you believe it.

Miller's continued silence hasn't helped his case, either. He did not respond to emails....
Oh, Trotter! I haven't seen pictures of you and don't know if you're chubby, but if you are, with a name like Trotter, try Prancercise.

Transgendered SEAL.

"Brother, I am with you ... being a SEAL is hard, this looks harder. Peace."

The New Yorker's George Packer takes aim at Andrew Breitbart.

Some of this is interesting, but watch out for distortion:
It was fun! Telling the truth was fun, having the American people behind him was fun, fucking with the heads of nervous journalists and helping the mainstream media commit suicide was fun. Breitbart went on Real Time With Bill Maher and stood up for himself and Rush to the politically correct hometown mob of an audience, and it was an incredibly committed moment in his life. He found himself the leader of a loose band of patriotic malcontents, and right in front of him was the same opportunity that the Founding Fathers had had—to fight a revolution against the complex.

And if he happened to get an Agriculture Department official named Shirley Sherrod fired by releasing a deceptively edited video that seemed to show her making anti-white comments when in fact she was doing just the opposite—fuck it, did the other side play fair? Anyway, Old Media’s rules about truth and objectivity were dead. What mattered was getting maximum bang from a story, changing the narrative. That was why Breitbart was winning, with ample help from his media enemies, and why he must have been at least semi-sober during his college classes on moral relativism.
Just the opposite? Packer answers the question he attributes to Breitbart: did the other side play fair? Obviously not. Packer's side is playing and is playing unfairly.

ADDED: George Packer has been unfair to me (discussed here and here).

AND: Professor Jacobson details what's so wrong about Packer's "deceptively edited video."

Via Instapundit, who says: "Sorry comrade, but what you’re offering is mere bourgeois truth, concerned with tedious facts. The higher truth is 'revolutionary truth,' which is any narrative that advances the revolution."

June 3, 2013

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"Replacing Lautenberg poses several problems for Christie."

"State law allows Christie to appoint a replacement, and maybe to hold a special election later this year. (It's possible, Politico explains, that because it's too late for a primary, an election might have to wait till 2014.)"
... "Rumors have abounded for months that Christie was considering appointing Cory Booker," Politico's Maggie Habermann and Ginger Gibson write. "However, sources close to both men have insisted this scenario makes no sense for either of them."

So, if Christie appoints a right-winger, he angers the Democrats he needs to be reelected. If he appoints a Democrat, which he probably won't, he infuriates the Republican base he would need in the 2016 Republican primary. But splitting the difference won't work, either. Salon's Steve Kornacki points out that appointing a non-controversial old Republican as a caretaker for the seat is not without risk.
Give Christie some advice.

I assume he wants to run for President in 2016. If so, he can't reinforce the suspicion that he's really a Democrat (unless he wants to do that Lincoln Chafee thing and become a Democrat). After hanging out at the shore with Obama a bit too much, he needs to send the message he's conservative, I would think.

"We’ve been a pretty youth-oriented generation."

"We haven’t idealized growing up and getting mature in the same way that other cohorts have."

Efforts to explain why Baby Boomers are killing themselves at what is supposedly "an alarming rate."
“There was an illusion of choice — where people thought they’d be able to re-create themselves again and again,” [said Barry Jacobs, director of behavioral sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Pennsylvania]. “These people feel a greater sense of disappointment because their expectations of leading glorious lives didn’t come to fruition.”...

Baby boomers... have struggled more with existential questions of purpose and meaning. Growing up in a post-Freudian society, they were raised with a new vocabulary of emotional awareness and an emphasis on self-actualization. But that did not necessarily translate into an increased ability to cope with difficult emotions — especially among men.

"Is it fair for me to dump on a fourteen-year-old kid like this? In this context, it is."

"We’re not talking about people taking a hands-off approach to Chelsea Clinton or the Obama girls when they just happen to be the President’s daughters."
Will Smith is using his clout to make a $130 million movie for his son to star in, and he’s throwing him to the wolves.

In this sense, “After Earth” is no better than Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video. It’s a bought-and-paid-for vanity piece for a spoiled teenager who probably doesn’t know any better. The only difference is that Rebecca Black’s family did theirs for a limited audience before it went viral. Will Smith is actually trying to make Jaden Smith a bona fide movie star.
If Smith is "throwing [Jaden] to the wolves," why then it's fair to be a wolf, no?

"Mississippi lawmakers have embarked on a controversial campaign to discourage older men from having sex with teenagers."

"Starting in July, doctors and midwives in the state will be required by law to collect samples of umbilical cord blood from babies born to some women under the age of 16. Officials will analyze the samples and try to identify the fathers through matches in the state's DNA database."

NPR reports today... the same day we hear the Supreme Court's ruling that allows police to routinely collect DNA from anyone who's been arrested.
... Matthew Steffey, a constitutional law professor at the Mississippi College law school in Jackson, said the measure could raise a "hornet's nest" of legal problems. "It is not at all clear that the legislature can deputize health care workers to collect evidence without a warrant," he said.
Here's a news report on today's Supreme Court case:
The police may take DNA samples from people arrested in connection with serious crimes, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 5-to-4 decision.

The federal government and 28 states authorize the practice, and law enforcement officials say it is a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes....

Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the swabbing procedure was a search under the Fourth Amendment, meaning it had to be justified as reasonable. It was, he said, given “the need for law enforcement officers in a safe and accurate way to process and identify the persons and possessions they must take into custody.”
To identify the persons and put tham into the machine that will match them up with unsolved crimes where DNA has been collected, like all those cases where underage women have given birth.

Shouldn't the states also be collecting some clumps of cells from all the various abortions performed on underaged women? 

At the Lily Ghost Café...


... you don't stand a chance.

The Sebelius Shakedown... the Pigford scandal....

There's such a dense pack of scandals that some of them have already passed beyond notice. As for the rest of them... people are getting tired....

Is that how it works? Something else that might happen is a swirling amorphous feeling that there are scandals everywhere, the administration is scandal-plagued, and everything about government falls into disrepute. There's nothing to expose or solve anymore. Everyone becomes cynical and dismissive and won't even listen to the explanations or pay attention to any specific facts and answers that might emerge.

Ah! They're all a bunch of crooks!

Of course, Republicans are hoping people will end up with the opinion The Democrats are all a bunch of crooks!

Beyond banning large cups for Cokes... ban large bottles for Tylenol.

That's the suggestion in "A Simple Way to Reduce Suicides."
We need to make it harder to buy pills in bottles of 50 or 100 that can be easily dumped out and swallowed. We should not be selling big bottles of Tylenol and other drugs that are typically implicated in overdoses, like prescription painkillers and Valium-type drugs, called benzodiazepines. Pills should be packaged in blister packs of 16 or 25. Anyone who wanted 50 would have to buy numerous blister packages and sit down and push out the pills one by one. Turns out you really, really have to want to commit suicide to push out 50 pills. And most people are not that committed.... 
Why haven’t we seen more blister packages? One reason is money. Manufacturers would have to redesign packaging, and the blister packaging would cost more compared with loose pills in a bottle. The other main reason is that some consumers — notably people with arthritis — might find it challenging to open the packages.
But if we could save one life... the life of the insufficiently committed... suicidal but too lazy to poke enough pills out of the blister packs...

You know the type. For them, life is not worth the trouble. And then suddenly killing yourself is also a lot of trouble. What's more trouble? Living or these damned blister packs?

The NYT revisits the Tawana Brawley rape hoax scandal — and Al Sharpton's role.

Here's the video:

Here's the print article, which begins:
The news reports at the time, in the late 1980s, were horrific. Tawana Brawley, a 15-year-old African-American girl from the New York City area, was said to have been abducted and repeatedly raped by six white men. She was found with “KKK” written across her chest, a racial epithet on her stomach and her hair smeared with feces. She was so traumatized, according to reports, that at the hospital she answered yes-or-no questions by blinking her eyes. Making the crime even more vile, if that were possible, she and her lawyers later claimed that two of the rapists were law enforcement officials.
Key line: "A Sharpton associate told the news media at the time that Ms. Brawley’s lawyers, C. Vernon Mason and Alton H. Maddox Jr., and Mr. Sharpton were 'frauds from the beginning.'"

ADDED: At The Daily Beast, Stuart Stevens writes:
If you are an NBC exec and have kids, sit down with them and watch the Times documentary on Tawana Brawley. And when your kids ask why your colleague Al Sharpton is working for NBC, you can explain to them why everything you’ve tried to teach them about honesty, fair play, and decency is wrong and Al Sharpton is right.

Justice Scalia writes a dissent — in a 4th Amendment case — joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

The case, Maryland v. King (PDF), just released, is about taking a cheek swab for DNA purposes, as a routine part of booking a person the police have arrested. The dissenting opinion begins:
The Fourth Amendment forbids searching a person for evidence of a crime when there is no basis for believing the person is guilty of the crime or is in possession of incriminating evidence. That prohibition is categorical and without exception; it lies at the very heart of the Fourth Amendment. Whenever this Court has allowed a suspicionless search, it has insisted upon a justifying motive apart from the investigation of crime.

It is obvious that no such noninvestigative motive exists in this case. The Court’s assertion that DNA is being taken, not to solve crimes, but to identify those in the State’s custody, taxes the credulity of the credulous. And the Court’s comparison of Maryland’s DNA searches to other techniques, such as fingerprinting, can seem apt only to those who know no more than today’s opinion has chosen to tell them about how those DNA searches actually work.
ADDED: Orin Kerr notes that "Justice Scalia has been on the defense side of every non-unanimous Fourth Amendment case this term:"
King (today’s case in which he wrote the dissent), Bailey (in which he joined the 6-3 majority), Jardines (in which he wrote the majority), and McNeely (in which he joined the Sotomayor plurality/majority opinion). In contrast, Justice Breyer has been on the government’s side in each of the Term’s non-unanimous Fourth Amendment cases: King (in which he joined Kennedy’s majority), Bailey (in which he wrote the dissent), Jardines (in which he joined the dissent) and McNeely (in which he joined the more government-friendly Roberts concurrence/dissent with Alito).

Frank Lautenberg — the 89-year-old Senator who said he wouldn't seek reelection in 2014 — has died.

Email from CNN says that the "New Jersey Democrat who had served five terms in the U.S. Senate since 1982 and was the chamber's last surviving World War II veteran, died Monday of viral pneumonia."

Another U.S. Senate seat that must be filled before next year's elections.

ADDED: "Gov. Chris Christie will appoint his temporary replacement and schedule a special election; Cory Booker has not been shy about his intention to run for the seat." 

"Monona parents whose children repeatedly bully others can now be ticketed by police and fined in municipal court."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
Monona Police Chief Wally Ostrenga... thinks the parent-liability clause will be used sparingly, if at all, and only in cases where parents are obstructive or uncooperative. He hopes the mere threat of a ticket will be enough....
The broader ordinance prohibits any person age 12 or older from engaging in bullying, subject to similar municipal fines. The ordinance defines bullying as “an intentional course of conduct which is reasonably likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander, threaten or intimidate another person and which serves no legitimate purpose.”
Ironic that bullying is defined to include threats and the police plan to use the ordinance to make threats. But the ordinance refers to threats that serve no legitimate purpose. But is there a legitimate purpose to threatening to make parents pay $114 if they don't take action to control the teenagers who express themselves in a manner that the authorities have decided is too hurtful?
“Sometimes you’ll knock on someone’s door and they won’t want to talk to you — their kids are perfect, they could never do anything wrong,” Ostrenga said. “This is for those times when we get the door slammed in our faces.”
So the purpose is, admittedly, to pressure parents to talk to the police. The people who have been declining to speak with the police will now have to pay for the privilege.
Parents who are making a good-faith effort to address a child’s behavior would not be ticketed, he said.

City Attorney William S. Cole called the tactic “a tool of last resort” and said he believes it would withstand a court challenge.
I guess there is such "a court" here in Dane County — where Monona, like Madison, is located — and I would feel much more intimidated, emotionally abused, and threatened if I didn't believe — speaking of beliefs — that court would be reversed on appeal.

June 2, 2013

At the Omorika Café...


... you can talk all night.

"The moment he realized he was now the middle child."


Via Reddit.

Are you a middle child? I am. My husband is. I don't remember anything like this. But it must have happened.

"There are infinite number of ways to live richly and well, but it's about applying a lot of creativity to this whole process."

I was motivated to look up Amy Dacyczyn by the discussion we're having in the comments at the post titled "How not to show respect for the stay-at-home spouse."

I was a big fan of "The Tightwad Gazette" back in the 1990s. Here's "The Complete Tightwad Gazette."

Why do you give your life to an employer and to the taxman? Use your brains and your creativity to give what you can to the people you love.

"Study finds Facebook helps users 'Like' themselves better.... but reduces their ambition to excel."

"The University of Wisconsin-Madison study that unearthed these social-media phenomena seemingly employed a controversial cognitive test to arrive at its findings, and also discovered the Facebook-borne ego boost lead to diminished ambition, or the desire to excel on subsequent cognitive evaluations."

Is the correlation between self-esteem and lack of ambition special to Facebook? Is there a Facebook-induced type of self-esteem or is reduced ambition the general consequence of self-esteem boosted by things other than actual achievement?