July 6, 2013

Rabbit, lettuce...

In the Meadhouse front yard, just now...

"Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin..."

"... only to realize it is almost over," writes Oliver Sacks.
At nearly 80, with a scattering of medical and surgical problems, none disabling, I feel glad to be alive — “I’m glad I’m not dead!” sometimes bursts out of me when the weather is perfect. (This is in contrast to a story I heard from a friend who, walking with Samuel Beckett in Paris on a perfect spring morning, said to him, “Doesn’t a day like this make you glad to be alive?” to which Beckett answered, “I wouldn’t go as far as that.”)

At the Profile Café...


... move along.

Naked Bob Dylan Robot has something to say about the meaning of "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat."

As channeled by betamax3000:
Well, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?

The Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat Represents the Stylish Repression of the Sexual Urges of the Hat-Wearing Woman -- the Hat is a "Pillbox", thus referencing both Birth Control and Containment --, and How those Urges Create a Corresponding Attraction in the Male, as the Leopard-Skin Pattern Stimulates Animal Urges. This Becomes More Obvious in the Following Lines, where the Titular Hat is Compared to A Mattress:

This is a post about the shade of meaning between "laconic" and "taciturn."

There really was a place called Laconia. It's where Sparta was. The OED says "laconic" means, first,  "Characteristic of the Laconians; Spartan-like" and quotes John Adams:

"The last time I had dinner with David, about six weeks before he died, he was so weak..."

"... that it was impossible to imagine him mustering the strength to work. But he was so close, he said. 'I need to finish it, and then I’ll be ready.'"

9 things Freeman Hunt said...

... in the comments at "If men did this to women..." (##1-5) and at "A somewhat dismissive response" (##6-9):

1. "When I was growing up, the prevailing sex ed was that you, male or female, were wholly responsible for your own birth control and that you should never assume or believe that the other person was taking care of it. That's not the prevailing wisdom anymore?"

2. "Maybe all those traditionally religious people don't hate sex--maybe they have all those prohibitions on sex outside marriage for some other reason... It's like there was a plan for all of this or something."

Tattooed lady at the next table gets acupressure, while I get "ass you" pressure.


Thanks to Assman for staying there long enough for me to feel justified getting my camera out and taking a shot.

"A somewhat dismissive response."

Instapundit says, somewhat dismissively. 

I suspect he wouldn't want to hear my truly dismissive response, but if you search the comments at my somewhat dismissive response... and over here... you can extrapolate what it would be. I'll cherry-pick some clues as to what I would say if I chose to go hard-core on this subject.

At the Underwater Egyptian Café...

Sister, lemme tell you about a vision I saw/You were drawing water for your husband, you were suffering under the law...

(Thanks to Chip Ahoy for rearranging me in that photograph by Meade.)

"Hardly a man takes a half-hour's nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, 'What's the news?' as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels."

"Some give directions to be waked every half-hour, doubtless for no other purpose; and then, to pay for it, they tell what they have dreamed. After a night's sleep the news is as indispensable as the breakfast. 'Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe' -- and he reads it over his coffee and rolls, that a man has had his eyes gouged out this morning on the Wachito River; never dreaming the while that he lives in the dark unfathomed mammoth cave of this world, and has but the rudiment of an eye himself."

An old quote that crosses my mind as I realize I have yet to check the news this morning.

Do you recognize that quote? It's from the oft-quoted "Walden," and I'm amused to see the next paragraph:
For my part, I could easily do without the post-office. I think that there are very few important communications made through it. 
Read in isolation, that sounds like Henry David Thoreau foresaw email and the internet, but, in fact, he's at the opposite end of the technology spectrum:
To speak critically, I never received more than one or two letters in my life... that were worth the postage. 
I have written 34,859 posts on Blogger — this is #34,860 — and they were surely worth the "postage," since I have paid $0.00 to write to you like this.
The penny-post is, commonly, an institution through which you seriously offer a man that penny for his thoughts which is so often safely offered in jest. And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper
Boldface added.
If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter -- we never need read of another. 
But a man on a vintage tractor was killed by a vintage firetruck in a 4th of July parade, and a cop shot the Rottweiler of a man he was arresting for photography the other day, and what's happening with those 17-year cicadas? Surely, these details from elsewhere need to be uploaded into our furiously grinding cogs of cognition.
One is enough. 
If you've read one dead dog story, you've read them all.
If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. 
In my defense, I am an old woman. I've had coffee, and have moved on to water. Are you a philosopher? The test is: Do you think all news is gossip?
Yet not a few are greedy after this gossip. There was such a rush, as I hear, the other day at one of the offices to learn the foreign news by the last arrival, that several large squares of plate glass belonging to the establishment were broken by the pressure -- news which I seriously think a ready wit might write a twelve-month, or twelve years, beforehand with sufficient accuracy. 
What news stories are you reading this morning that might just as well have been written a year ago?
As for Spain, for instance, if you know how to throw in Don Carlos and the Infanta, and Don Pedro and Seville and Granada, from time to time in the right proportions...
All these people that you mention/Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame/I had to rearrange their faces/And give them all another name...
.... they may have changed the names a little since I saw the papers -- and serve up a bull-fight when other entertainments fail, it will be true to the letter, and give us as good an idea of the exact state or ruin of things in Spain as the most succinct and lucid reports under this head in the newspapers: and as for England, almost the last significant scrap of news from that quarter was the revolution of 1649; and if you have learned the history of her crops for an average year, you never need attend to that thing again, unless your speculations are of a merely pecuniary character. If one may judge who rarely looks into the newspapers, nothing new does ever happen in foreign parts, a French revolution not excepted.
What's the news from Egypt?
What news! how much more important to know what that is which was never old! "Kieou-he-yu (great dignitary of the state of Wei) sent a man to Khoung-tseu to know his news."
All these Chinese names you mention... presumably, what's the news of how to spell them today?
"Khoung-tseu caused the messenger to be seated near him, and questioned him in these terms: What is your master doing? The messenger answered with respect: My master desires to diminish the number of his faults, but he cannot come to the end of them. The messenger being gone, the philosopher remarked: What a worthy messenger! What a worthy messenger!" The preacher, instead of vexing the ears of drowsy farmers on their day of rest at the end of the week -- for Sunday is the fit conclusion of an ill-spent week, and not the fresh and brave beginning of a new one -- with this one other draggle-tail of a sermon, should shout with thundering voice, "Pause! Avast! Why so seeming fast, but deadly slow?"
What is the fit conclusion to your ill-spent week?

"As a dogge that turneth aȝen to his spuyng, so is an vnprudent man that rehersith his fooli."

1. So said Wycliffe's Bible, in Middle English, around 1382, translating a proverb that can be more easily understood in the King James form, from 1611: "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." No need to get more modern than that.

2. "Returneth" is nice (and helpful to those who lisp). The double "returneth" may seem more poetic than "turneth... rehersith." But you've got to love "fooli" for "folly." The older form is more accessible. And "spuyng" for "vomit"... surely, we lost something there.

3. "Dog" is a very old word of unknown etymology, according to the (unlinkable) OED, which proceeds to explain this particular unknown at great length. Do you prefer the older form "dogge"? (Which I presume was pronounced "doggie.")

4. I'm rummaging around in the OED under "dog" after writing that first post of the day, about the dog vomit fungus, which was the first post today because it's something that came up on the front lawn overnight. (Some things come up in conversation, and other things come up on the front lawn.) The OED has no entry for the fungus, but I tumbled upon the old aphorism, and thought you might find some use for it.

5. I, of course, was returning to my old fooli, having blogged about dog vomit fungus in 2006, and, in fact, I was inclined to return to another old fooli: dog's breakfast, which sounds like something you could order at The Slime Mold Café, which could have been the name of that first post (since it fits the Althouse blog model of a "café" post, having a photograph and an open-ended invitation to talk).

6. The OED says:
dog's breakfast n. slang (orig. U.S.) a confused mess; = dog's dinner n.

1915   New Castle (Pa.) News 13 Feb. 2/5   They abandoned the plan, went ahead in their own way, and have gotten their side all messed up, like a dog's breakfast.
1959   Times 29 Apr. 10/4   He can't make head or tail of it... It's a complete dog's breakfast.
2004   Classic Rock Oct. 102/3   The 1974 record..is either the furthest-reaching concept album ever made, or the biggest dog's breakfast in the entire history of the state of California.
7. What 1974 record? Can you guess without Googling? I'll give you another excerpt:
Here, no longer held back by the leashes of a mere rock band, Ray wastes no time wading right into a carnival of jazz and samba, synth and rumba, rock-opera and boogie-woogie, all the while wearing golden Tutankhamun facepaint and global new-age influences on his sleeve.
8. Ray was not returning to his old fooli, but moving on to new fooli. How about you?

Your Morning Slime Mold.


1. Great title for a newspaper, don't you think?

2. What did you wake up to this morning?

3. We've discussed slime mold on this blog before, remember:
Oh, it's slime mold. Dog Vomit Fungus! Remember? I mentioned it here once, you know, that day when I deliberately vomit-blogged. But I've never seen it in my yard before, even though I have seen -- and photoblogged -- some pretty impressive fungus, fungus that makes you think not of vomiting, but of one of those other bodily activities.
4. Meade says he remembers and claims to have participated, and I said it was before his time. (If you click the first link at #3, you'll see it was 2006, 3 years before I met Meade.) He says: "In the comments." I look. "Ah, yes! You're the first commenter":
Meade said...

Is that fresh mulch? Might have come with that. Could be worse - you could have stinkhorn mushrooms... you know - Phallus impudicus.
5. "In Thomas Mann's novel The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg), the psychologist Dr. Krokowski gives a lecture on the phallus impudicus:"
And Dr. Krokowski had spoken about one fungus, famous since classical antiquity for its form and the powers ascribed to it -- a morel, its Latin name ending in the adjective impudicus, its form reminiscent of love, and its odor, of death. For the stench given off by the impudicus was strikingly like that of a decaying corpse, the odor coming from greenish, viscous slime that carried its spores and dripped from the bell-shaped cap. And even today, among the uneducated, this morel was thought to be an aphrodisiac.
6. What did you wake up to this morning? Are your spores dripping from your bell-shaped cap?

July 5, 2013

At the Ghost Flour Café...


... just give me some kind of sign.

"Interestingly, though, doctors often ask married men for their wife’s permission before they’ll perform a vasectomy."

Yeah, but I'm not talking about married men. Once you're married, you should be consulting with your wife. If you're not, you've got problems.

Anyway, if these doctors are asking because the law requires it, the men should win their legal challenge. But I suspect the doctors are asking because they're afraid of getting sued, in which case, the men need to establish their rights in court so they can out-scare the doctors.

"Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Friday requiring... women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds and... doctors providing [abortions] to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles."

"The law's critics call the ultrasound provision an unnecessary infringement on the doctor-patient relationship but do not plan to challenge it in court at this time."

"Muslim Brotherhood claims interim Egyptian president is Jewish."

"According to the [Washington] Post, the article falsely stated that [Adli] Mansour is 'considered to be a Seventh Day Adventist, which is a Jewish sect.'"

Related — to some unknown degree — from David Brooks: "It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients."

The Scream.

Did everyone hear what he/she wanted to hear?

Arguably, no one lied.

"Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has offered asylum to U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden..."

"... the state-run AVN news agency reported Friday, without offering details."

Says a CNN Breaking News email.

"If men did this to women, it would be considered a species of rape."

Instapundit weighs in on that lying-about-birth-control question we were talking about — a lot — yesterday.

He's mostly focused on sympathy for males who must pay child support, but I think society has chosen to put the burden on men to control where they put their sperm. Imagine endless factual disputes over whether the woman claimed to be infertile or on pills. The child is real and needs support, and anyone who expressed horror — as Instapundit did — at "The Life of Julia" should understand why we hold men responsible for the consequences they risk.

To save commenters the trouble of telling me again: I know, there was an underage boy one time who was the victim of statutory rape and made to pay child support. So craft a narrow exception for people like him. The general principle is a good one.

If you're thinking of bringing up the woman's right to choose to avoid a pregnancy, let me repeat that this is a decision that properly belongs to the woman. Pregnancy occurs inside the woman's body, where the man lost control of his sperm. He should have been more risk averse.

Now, here's a proposal, based on all the attention Obamacare has given to women's health. Let's require health insurance to cover vasectomies. Then there will be some surgery that men have a right to choose. How's that for a pro-equality policy? Men can freeze their sperm beforehand and thereafter have perfect control over when women get hold of their reproductive powers.

Dr. Bao... wow.

At the George Zimmerman trial:
[The Medical Examiner Dr.] Bao is reading his answers off personal notes. "I typed out potential answers to your potential questions." West asks to see the notes, but Bao replied "I'd rather you not." Judge Nelson tells him both sides' attorneys are entitled to view his notes.
The defense attorneys grin while reviewing Bao's notes. From the witness stand, the medical examiner asks "Is there something funny there?"
Bao looked very nervous to me. He protested that he'd written these notes by himself, on his own time, but after he referred to them while testifying, the defense lawyers now get to look at everything, perhaps including notes about the doctor's discussions with the prosecutor.

Bao was the state's last witness, this Friday afternoon, and now things seem quite chaotic.

Parkour, POV.

You decide if this guy's video is more thrilling than my crane-crossing-the-road:

Via Metafilter.

Why did the sandhill crane cross the street?

He forgot where he'd parked his car.


"Surrogate mom offered $10K to abort baby after parents discover she would be born with disabilities."

"Crystal Kelley, 29, ultimately refused the Connecticut couple’s demand that she terminate the pregnancy."
She fled to Michigan to have the baby and was able to find parents willing to adopt the girl, identified as Baby S., born with special needs.

Kelley, a single, unemployed mother, told CNN that she would have the abortion if the couple, who was not identified, would pay her more. She was also getting $22,000 to carry the child....
(This story is from last March, but I hadn't noticed it until just now.)

"There wasn't a thought of 'I'm gonna get in trouble' or 'Should I say something?'"

"It was more 'Holy cow this hot teacher is into me!'"
"She came to me first," he said. "She initiated it by telling me she had a dream, where in that dream we eventually kissed."

[Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst's former student Michael] Cooper said that he was "a hormonal 17-year-old" who saw an opportunity and "just went with it"....

"U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry — who spent the Fourth of July on sun-splashed Nantucket even as the chaos from a military takeover rocked Egypt..."

"... drew fire from Republican critics who said it’s a bad time for the nation’s top diplomat to be seen cavorting on an island getaway."
... Kerry, who owns a house and a yacht on the ritzy retreat, was seen yesterday strolling down Federal Street away from July Fourth festivities on Main Street in jeans and a light-colored polo shirt.  Later in the afternoon, Kerry was seen offloading bags from a single-person kayak to a boat in Nantucket Sound after launching from the beach behind his home at 5 Hulbert Ave....
Thanks for the address... I guess. Here:

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Kerry’s staff yesterday insisted he’s fully engaged and has been logging long hours and high miles, including a recent 12-day, 25,000-mile trip to the Middle East and Asia.
This reminds me of the way Hillary Clinton's people argued for her success as Secretary of State — all the many miles flown. I don't really care about the number of days spent traveling as opposed to the effectiveness handling specific matters in the right places and times.
Yesterday he dialed into a meeting with President Obama and members of his national security team in the Situation Room, according to the State Department. Kerry also called foreign dignitaries from Egypt, Israel, Norway, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
He phones it in. How's the cellphone service out in Nantucket Sound? What's it like phoning on a single-man kayak?
“Secretary Kerry has been working tirelessly around the clock since he returned from his 10-day trip and there has not been a moment where he has not been focused on doing everything possible to communicate with his team in Washington and in Egypt, within the administration and with his counterparts around the world,” Kerry spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the Herald last night.
Then he wasn't kayaking properly. Also, you see the message? He needs his vacation. He's earned it.  Not acceptable in a time of emergency in a position of high responsibility. We don't care how hard you worked or whether you're due for a rest. You shouldn't be in the job if you aren't ready to work nonstop. I wrote those sentences before reading this next part:
Former state Democratic Party chairman Phil Johnston said these days the secretary of state can effectively work out of anywhere in the world. “The man’s been working 24/7 for weeks to create peace in the Middle East — I think he’s entitled to a day on Nantucket,” said Johnston. “If there’s anything we know about John Kerry, it’s that he’s a very hard worker. The American people don’t need to worry about that.”
Entitled?  Hard worker? We don't need to worry? #!&* We're entitled to worry.

ADDED: I don't like "The man’s been working 24/7 for weeks to create peace in the Middle East" as a premise for the argument that Kerry's entitle to a vacation, but I could see using it to argue that his work is something we're better off without it.

AND: Meade asked what I meant by "#!&*." Rhymes with Nantucket.

8-year-old boy hero.

His father was trapped in their car that had "crashed through a guardrail and landed upside down on a sandbar in the middle of a river":
But his son, 8-year-old Joshua [Garcia], wriggled out the wreckage, waded through the rushing water, scaled an embankment, then walked more than half a mile home to alert his mother, who called 911.
I find this touching and inspiring, but on reflection, since the man and the boy were not in immediate danger, I think that perhaps staying together on the sandbar and yelling and waiting for help would have been better than what the boy did.

"Pope Francis clears John Paul II for sainthood, decides to canonize John XXIII without miracle."

"In a major demonstration of his papal authority, Francis decided to make John XXIII a saint even though the Vatican hasn’t confirmed a second miracle attributed to his intercession. The Vatican said Francis had the power to dispense with the normal saint-making procedures to canonize John on his own merits."

"Even the Third Amendment isn't safe."

"Henderson police arrested a family for refusing to let officers use their homes as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of their neighbors, the family claims in court...."
The Mitchell family’s claim includes Third Amendment violations, a rare claim in the United States. The Third Amendment prohibits quartering soldiers in citizens’ homes in times of peace without the consent of the owner.
Police lookout = quartered soldiers? There's also the question whether the 3d Amendment even applies to local government, but obviously there are other claims here and the mere reference to the 3d Amendment creates a sense of alarm about the intrusions.

Trayvon's mother testifies.

Starting now, video here.

ADDED: The mother, Sabryna Fulton, testified for about 15 minutes, mostly only to identify the voice on the 911 recording as her son's. The cross-examination was short, focusing on: 1. the circumstances under which she first heard the recording (the basis of an argument to be made, presumably, that she was influenced by others or that she didn't react quite the same the first time), and 2. that she must have hoped the voice was her son's, since if it was not, she would have had to deal with the necessary (or nearly necessary) inference that her son was at least in part responsible for his own death.

July 4, 2013

"I am out on the lake, I'll have you know..."

Today, on Lake Wingra.

"It really has to be, ‘Am I equipped to do the job?"

"I was so pleased that this year I couldn't see that I was slipping in any respect."

She's 80, and she can't see that she's slipping in any respect. And who would say otherwise about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Iced coffee...


... on the Wisconsin Capitol Square today.


Independence Day.

"What is happening in Egypt is the fall of what is known as political Islam."

"Anywhere in the world, whoever uses religion for political aims, or to benefit some and not others, will fall... You can't fool all the people all the time, let alone the Egyptian people who have a civilization that is thousands of years old, and who espouse clear, Arab nationalist thought."

Said Bashar Assad.

At the Zinnia Café...


... talk about something new.

"Shining blue and bright above a subterranean labyrinth of hollow shafts, a warehouse sits upon the abandoned remains of a coal mine that once defined this working-class English town."

"It is as bright as the mines are dark, as vast as the shafts are claustrophobic, as clean as they are filthy."
An Amazon fulfillment associate might have to walk as far as 15 miles in a single shift, endlessly looping back and forth between shelves in a warehouse the size of nine soccer fields. They do this in complete silence, except for the sound of their feet. The atmosphere is so quiet that workers can be fired for even talking to one another. And all the while, cardboard cutouts of happy Amazon workers look on, cartoon speech bubbles frozen above their heads: "This is the best job I ever had!"

"The workers at Rugeley are effectively human robots," [photographer Ben] Roberts says. "And the only reason Amazon doesn’t actually replace them with robots is they’ve yet to find a machine that can handle so many different sized packages."
Oh, noooo! It's spacious, clean, brightly lit, and — gasp! — quiet.

"If you’re viewing this item, you’ve nearly completed the celebration of the birth of Franz Kafka."

"Please bring your authorized certificate and completed form #1EZ to item #1 for final processing."

Too late! That door closed yesterday.

"For this reason, 'This Town' contains no index; bold-face Washingtonians can’t just find their pages, see how they’re depicted, and read no more."

WaPo doesn't seem to understand that in a world of ebooks and "search inside the book" Amazon pages, you don't need to look names up in an index to see whether and where they appear in a book.

I suspect that if there's no index in this book, it's to save printing expenses and because they wouldn't want anyone to assume that if a particular name isn't in the index, it isn't in the book. Now, you might say, but maybe Amazon won't have "search inside the book" for this particular book, and if people want to do a search within an ebook, they'll have to buy the ebook, so more books will be sold. But that assumes there are cheapskates — among the super-busy Washingtonians — who would go to a physical bookstore, find the actual paper version of this book, and look up names in an index. Anyone who cares that much would just download the damned Kindle edition from Amazon, which would take about 10 seconds. The search would be accomplished in well under a minute. Even if it's overpriced at $12.74, what is your time worth? And by "you," I mean some Washington entity who is important enough to imagine he'd get mentioned in a gossipy book by a NYT reporter, and yet not important enough not to care.

"I had decided that I would go to my grave never telling anyone what I had done."

"Recently, a friend became pregnant after a one-night stand. Everyone assumes that was an accident, but she confided in me that she had been seeking out sex with the purpose of getting pregnant. I was so relieved to meet someone else who planned an 'accidental' pregnancy that it made me wonder if I should open up about my secret."

From a letter to the advice columnist Prudie. I haven't yet read Prudie's answer. I just want to say that this woman imagines that she's found her counterpart in this other woman, but she hasn't. The letter-writer deceived a man with whom she had a serious relationship, letting him think she was still on contraceptive pills, and she's clung to her secret for many years, including from the man she married. She's kept the old boyfriend and the husband in the dark even as she's involved both of them in the upbringing of the child. That's years of hardcore deceit. This other lady is sleeping around with men she doesn't seem to care much about. And who knows what she told them about birth control? And she was apparently ready to blab about it as soon as the pregnancy happened. She's out and proud. It's way too late to emulate her. She's nothing like you.

Now I've read Prudie's answer. Excerpt: "There’s nothing to be gained by telling your husband and making him uneasy about your essential honesty." Essential honesty? The letter-writer's only indication of honesty (in everything but the central lie of her life) was "I'm mentally stable, and I have a pretty unremarkable suburban life." As if unremarkable suburbanites are honest.

"Ghosting — aka the Irish goodbye, the French exit, and any number of other vaguely ethnophobic terms..."

"... refers to leaving a social gathering without saying your farewells. One moment you’re at the bar, or the house party, or the Sunday morning wedding brunch. The next moment you’re gone. In the manner of a ghost. 'Where’d he go?' your friends might wonder. But — and this is key — they probably won’t even notice that you’ve left."

From an argument recommending ghosting over saying goodbye. Once you've read that much, the argument for ghosting over goodbyeing is obvious. Right?

"Wendy Davis is a trendsetter, like Carrie of ‘Sex and the City’ making Manolos a household name."

"This time, it’s Mizuno, and this time the shoe is for comfort, not sexiness."

Says the fashion editor. The shoe company's PR person says: "We love seeing our running shoes on all consumers, regardless of their political affiliation or beliefs."

Here's the shoe, Wave Rider 16 running shoe, now the #1-selling women's running shoe at Amazon.

For all the talk of Wendy Davis's pink shoes, the color is "Rouge Red."

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands..."

"... which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

Washington Monument

July 3, 2013

"Egyptian anti-sexual harassment groups confirmed that mobs sexually assaulted and in some cases raped at least 91 women in Tahrir Square..."

"... over four days of protests beginning on June 30, 2013, amid a climate of impunity."
One woman required surgery after being raped with a “sharp object,” volunteers with the [Egyptian group Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault] said. In other cases, women were beaten with metal chains, sticks, and chairs, and attacked with knives. In some cases they were assaulted for as long as 45 minutes before they were able to escape.

Prince doesn't have a cell phone.

“Are you serious?”
“Hell, no.” Mimicking a woman’s voice, Prince says, “Where is my phone? Can you call my phone? Oh, I can’t find it.”
Anyway... "Nobody really talks to me."
Pointing to his manager Julia Ramadan, Prince says, "I talk to her. She talks to you."
ADDED: Prince's assertion that he doesn't need a cell phone because no one really talks to him made me think of this from the David Sedaris book "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls":
I was in London, squinting out my kitchen window at a distant helicopter, when a sales rep phoned from some overseas call center. “Mr. Sedriz?” he asked. “Is that who I have the pleasure of addressing?”...

“I am hoping this morning to interest you in a cell phone,” he announced. “But not just any cell phone! This one takes pictures that you can send to your friends.”

“I’m sorry,” I told him. “But I don’t have any friends.”

He chuckled. “No, but seriously, Mr. Sedriz, this new camera phone is far superior to the one you already have.”

When I told him I didn’t already have one, he said, “All the better!”

“No,” I said, “I don’t want one. I don’t need it.”

“How can you not need a cell phone?”

“Because nobody ever calls me?”

“Well, how can they?” he argued.

Is Facebook instigating racial discord in anticipation of a Zimmerman acquittal?

Here's a screen grab showing links that have been up all day at Drudge:

If you click on those 2 Facebook links, you'll see those pages have been taken down, but I clicked on them at around 8 a.m. CT, and I was surprised to see how few "likes" they had, even after being linked from Drudge for about an hour. I remember seeing only 31 likes for one and something similar for the other. That is, this big effort at stirring people up wasn't working too well. So consider that Drudge is doing his thing. Which is what? Getting us to think of black people as dangerous and criminal? Ironically, that's the stereotype the prosecutor wants the jury to believe that Zimmerman believed.

Now, the other linked article — "Sanford Police Chief Fears “Violence” in Response to Zimmerman Verdict" — is still available. Excerpt:
“Our worst fear is that we will have people from outside of the community coming in and stirring up….violence in the community,” [Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith] told CNN’s David Mattingly.

Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett echoes Smith’s concerns, warning that just one person intent on violence could spark wider disorder and “a provocation of violence.”
Who are these "people"/"just one person"? Who are we talking about? We're seeing pre-calming, which is good, especially since — after seeing the trial thus far — it's hard to imagine anything but acquittal. But who is hoping for post-trial violence? I like seeing that people are not hot-headedly itching for a riot. I like to think people are fair-minded and rational. So let's keep a sharp eye out for whoever it is that is looking to foment disorder.

"In December 1968, however, he set the computing world on fire with a remarkable demonstration..."

"At the time, the only way those and other scientists interacted with computers, the mainframe machines of their day, was by submitting stacks of punch cards to them and waiting hours for a printout of answers.... For the event he sat on stage in front of a mouse, a keyboard and other controls and projected the computer display on a 22-foot-high video screen behind him. In little more than an hour he showed how a networked, interactive computing system would allow information to be shared rapidly among collaborating scientists. He demonstrated how a mouse, which he had invented just four years earlier, could be used to control a computer. He demonstrated text editing, video conferencing, hypertext and windowing. In contrast to the mainframes then in use, Dr. Engelbart had created a computerized system he called the 'oNLine System' or NLS, which allowed researchers to share information seamlessly and to create and retrieve documents in the form of a structured electronic library."

Douglas C. Engelbart died yesterday at the age of 88.

Scott Walker endorses path to citizenship.

"If people want to come here and work hard and benefit, I don’t care whether they come from Mexico or Ireland or Germany or Canada or South Africa or anywhere else... I want them here."
"Not only do they need to fix things for people already here, or find some way to do it, there’s got to be a larger way to fix the system in the first place... Because if it wasn’t so cumbersome, if there wasn’t such a long wait, if it wasn’t so difficult to get in, we wouldn’t have the other problems that we have (with people living here illegally)."

At Hazy Dave's Café...

... you can talk about anything you want, but this photo is from longtime commenter Hazy Dave, who was pleased by the painterly effect of the digital zoom on his cheap smartphone. (Click to enlarge and see the effect.)

I'm told this picture was taken "on the shortcut from New Glarus back to the Badger State Trail on Sunday - which was a mistake, by the way - big nasty hills instead of gentle railbed pedaling."

As a coup is underway in Egypt...

... an old Egyptian princess dies.
Princess Fawzia, a member of Egypt's last royal family and the first wife of Iran's later-deposed monarch, has died, Iranian opposition groups said... She was the daughter of Egyptian King Fuad I, who ruled until 1936. Her brother and nephew later rose to the throne before the monarchy was toppled in 1953.
In 1939, she married married Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, when she was 18 and he was 19. He became the Shah of Iran in 1941. They divorced a few years later.

But that was long ago. Here's some news of the coup they say is happening now.

"And finally we arrive at the Italian Charnel House. Mussolini had it built in 1938 to honor the fallen Italian soldiers from the awful war..."

"... (Kobarid was in these years under Italian rule). As if there would be no other war. As if Kobarid was heading toward a peaceful era, where one could look back and reflect on the horror of past aggressions. Mussolini had moved the remains of 7014 known and unknown Italian soldiers who lost their lives in the Soca Front — taking them from local military cemeteries and honoring them here, in this house of corpses. We walk slowly around the edifice, reading the names, understanding the pain that each death caused to those left behind, feeling the irony of this Mussolini gesture and the exclusive pride in the Italian sacrifice, ignoring the pain felt, too, by Slovenian people who lost lives as well, in addition to losing pasture lands, cattle, a livelihood that had been very much centered on the mountains towering over the Soca River."

Much more here, with photographs, from the mountains of Slovenia.

Terrible abortion rights illustration.

Here's a pro-abortion rights column from the Capital Times titled "Aggressive new abortion restrictions take hold in Wisconsin." Excerpt:
Wisconsin’s shift toward severely restricting women’s access to reproductive health care can’t be attributed to a swing in public opinion. Nor is it being driven by a call for change from the state’s medical community. Instead, it’s being driven by tea party politicians wielding their power at the state Capitol.
I just want to talk about the illustration, which you can see in full at the link. Here's a closeup:

How utterly numb (or mindbogglingly cruel) do you need to be to think this is an appropriate depiction of pregnancy when you are writing in support of access to abortion? The woman looks 9 months pregnant! She's apparently sad about her condition, but who thinks she should be able to have an abortion now? And what's that aimed at her belly? I can figure out that it's supposed to be a cartoon representation of the wind (as she's standing atop a weather vane, behind a big arrow labeled "SHIFTING RIGHT"), but the initial thought is: Scissors! Scissors, late-term abortion... One thinks of those descriptions of partial birth abortion ("...the surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull or into the foramen magnum. Having safely entered the skull, he spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening....")

Roving drunk dentistry in Wisconsin.

The LaCrosse Tribune has this story about a 9-year-old boy, who was sitting with this mother — according to the mother's report to the police — at an outdoor café, when up walked Curtis Baltz — a 36-year-old man whose alcohol level was later tested at 0.20. Baltz said "What’s wrong with your tooth?"
The child flashed his loose tooth and Baltz flicked it, according to reports. His mother rushed him inside when his mouth filled with blood....

Baltz told police he had permission to pull the tooth. He also said his father and grandfather were dentists, so he "knew what he was doing."
I've rarely read such a short story with so many unbelievable elements.

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Cass Sunstein explains Antonin Scalia.

In this new op-ed.
He seeks to increase predictability and to reduce the risks associated with judicial discretion. He favors general rules, not case-by-case judgments. In his view, such rules simplify life for ordinary people and the legal system as a whole. They also reduce the danger that political preferences will end up dominating judicial decisions....

One of the most vivid writers in the court's history, he knows how to deliver a punch. Sometimes he seems to think that people who don't see things his way aren't merely in error but are also foolish, unacceptably political, even lawless.

Those who disagree with Scalia are entitled to object to his votes and his tone. At the same time, they should understand that his broadest commitment is to the rule of law. They should honor that commitment, and they should respect his efforts to develop an approach to interpretation that is compatible with it.
Sunstein absolves Scalia of partisanship: He's committed to the rule of law and not to "any political ideology."

I offer this proposition for debate: Sunstein himself is a political ideologue playing a partisan game, and this absolution for Scalia is a clever gambit.

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds reckless homicide conviction of parents who prayed instead of seeking medical treatment.

Dale and Leilani Neumann's daughter Madeline died of diabetes 5 years ago. They were convicted in 2009, sentenced to 180 days in jail, but the sentences have not yet been served.
In the majority opinion, the justices noted the 1987 law that protects faith healing states that a person is not guilty of an offense because he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone.

But the justices agreed with the prosecutor that the treatment through prayer provision applies only to charges of criminal child abuse and does not create a blanket protection from criminal prosecution for a parent....
Here's the opinion, written by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Justice David T. Prosser Jr. dissented:
The Neumanns claim that the reckless homicide statute is too murky to give sufficient notice as to when parental choice of treatment through prayer becomes illegal.  Given the nature of Kara's illness, as well as the imprecision in the statutory language, I agree.  There is a due process problem here.  On the facts before us, the statutes are very difficult to understand and almost impossible to explain.  Indeed, the statutory scheme is so difficult to explain that if a prayer-treating parent were to consult an attorney on how he or she could prayer treat and stay within the bounds of the law, virtually any attorney would be at a loss to reasonably advise the client.  The concerns stated would not have been so pronounced if the Neumanns had been prosecuted under the child neglect statute....

"Egypt's army commander and Islamist President Mohamed Mursi each pledged to die for his cause..."

"... as a deadline neared on Wednesday that will trigger a military takeover backed by protesters."
In an emotional, rambling midnight television address, Mursi said he was democratically elected and would stay in office to uphold the constitutional order, declaring: "The price of preserving legitimacy is my life."

Liberal opponents said that showed he had "lost his mind."

"A 15-year-old Florida girl was arrested Monday afternoon for shooting and possessing a photo of another teen girl engaged in oral sex with a teen boy..."

"The two girls were friends, and one of them was dating the guy... They posed for the picture and remained friends for several months."
At one point, the girls had a falling out. The girl who took the photo started to show it to classmates and distribute it digitally, police said.

"More and more teenagers are sending pictures of themselves and each other in compromising poses," Officer Melanie Snow said. "We want children and parents to know that this is a felony. It's not just some silly thing that won't have a long-term effect on your life."
Are felony prosecutions targeting one foolish teenager the right way to send this message?

"[T]he Constitution’s term 'freedom of the press' means 'freedom to publish,' not 'freedom for the institutional Press.'"

"But Durbin’s a partisan ignoramus, so he can’t be expected to know this sort of thing. I mean, he’s only a Senator, and there’s no IQ test for that job."

It shouldn't take much intelligence to understand the term "freedom of the press," but intelligence has been applied to suppressing this simple truth.

"As the anti-apartheid icon fights for survival in a hospital, his family is clashing over where and how he is to be buried."

"The squabble is playing out in newspapers, online and on TV, angering a nation gripped with grief and praying collectively for their beloved 94-year-old former president to remain with them longer."

In microcosm, the tragic decline from one generation to the next.

"Canadians ask what 'inspired by Al Qaeda ideology' means."

As Mounties say they've uncovered a pressure-cooker bomb plot by John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody of Surrey, B.C., who were "self-radicalized" but "inspired by al-Qaeda ideology."

Nuttall and Korody are said to be "recovering drug addicts and recent converts to Islam." Obviously, other Muslims in Canada aren't pleased to look connected to them. Musa Ismail, president of the B.C. Muslim Association, says:
"We don't know these people, we've never seen these people.... We are proud citizens, we are proud Canadians. These two individuals have nothing to do with Islam, as far as we know."

And while the entire B.C. Muslim community is "absolutely delighted" that Mounties intervened to stop a "potentially huge disaster," Ismail said the RCMP's description of the Canadian-born duo as inspired by Al-Qaeda is an "ill-worded reference" that will focus undue attention on Muslims.

"These are just individuals who copied whatever happened in Boston," he said.

"Ah, whither love's ardor whose heat used to scorch her?/Now his mere face can assail her like torture..."

"And being alone with him renders her frantic/It makes her a hectoring shrew, a pedantic/Wet blanket, although it is also true, in her defense/That Nate can be maddeningly oafish and dense."
Who chips a mug without knowing it, or

Doesn't see that they've just spilt some milk on the floor?

And once pointed out, he goes all Lotus

Position-y, saying mildly, "Wow. I didn't notice."
It's the new book — sadly, posthumous — by David Rakoff. "Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel."

I exclaim "Oh, great!" out loud when I see that he's the narrator on the audiobook version. I'm so sorry that he died, but he had time to write a last book and time, even, to read it — act it — to us.

July 2, 2013

"There are prison-like elements, but it’s a really nice prison."

Michelle Obama said. "You can’t complain. There are confining elements."

"Mitt Romney Voted Against 2012 Run In Family Poll."

"Over the Christmas break of 2010, Mitt Romney and his family took an internal poll on whether he should run for president once more...."

"Mongolian neo-Nazis rebrand themselves as environmentalists."

"Tsagaan Khass, or White Swastika, whose leader has expressed reverence for Hitler, now says its main goal is to save nature."

"When five justices of the Supreme Court disabled the Voting Rights Act last Tuesday, they left it to Congress to find a new formula..."

"... to restore one of the great landmarks of equality and once again protect the nation’s most fundamental democratic right."
That is unlikely for the moment given Congressional dysfunction, as the justices certainly knew, but it is hardly impossible in the months and years to come.

"The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that it would delay for a year, until 2015, the Affordable Care Act mandate that employers provide coverage..."

"... or their workers or pay penalties, responding to business complaints and postponing the effective date beyond next year’s midterm elections."

"Elizabeth Mort never imagined that the last thing she ate before giving birth to her daughter - a poppy seed bagel - would lead to the loss of her newborn..."

"... but that is exactly what happened after the Jameson Health System failed to account for the possibility that her positive urine drug screen was due to her ingestion of poppy seeds...."

All those tags.

The other day, I was blogging about tags, and somebody asked what are all the tags. I considered adding a sidebar gadget that would show all the tags, but I saw that there were over 3,000 of them. For what its worth, I've copied and pasted the list of tags, which you can see after the jump.

The number in parens is the number of times I've used the tag. The list is in alphabetical order, with the top of the list being tags that were originally written with quotation marks. This is something the software no longer lets me do, so some of those tags reappear without quotation marks, and thus the numbers in parens for the tags with quotation marks are not accurate.

If you want to find the posts that have a particular tag, copy and paste the word(s) into the search box at the top left of this page, and when you find a post that has that tag, click on that tag. In other words, forgive me for not taking the time to make this list all hot links.

"We've got Johnny Depp with a taxidermied crow on top of his head and painted to the nth degree... and he looks like a gothic freak."

"There's no way you can look at this and not say it's odd, unusual, strange, arresting, startling... It's a major setback for the Native American image in the world because that's how millions of people will think American Indians are now."

ADDED: The link above goes to an NPR item — "Does Disney's Tonto Reinforce Stereotypes Or Overcome Them?" — and after posting, I decided to check out the reviews for "The Lone Ranger." They're terrible.
How/why/wherefore did it turn out this way? The evidence suggests a combination of hubris, errant revisionism, a misguided and perverse degree of violence, and a script that never worked in the first place.
ALSO: From the sidebar at NPR's "Tonto" article, from just a few days ago, "Can 'Devious Maids' Really Break Stereotypes About Latinas?" ("Thankfully, the maids themselves aren't stereotypes. But there are no Latina bosses here.") From yesterday: "How A Minority Biking Group Raises The Profile Of Cycling." ("It was very powerful to have a group, like 60 or 70 riders who were all black rolling through a predominately black community on a bike.") And, also from yesterday: "The Secret History Of The Word 'Cracker.'" ("For many Southern whites, though, cracker has remained uncomplicated, a source of cultural pride.")

NPR means well, I'm pretty sure, as it talks and talks about race from an upper-middle-class white perspective. That's how it looks to me, anyway. 

"Countercultural in these times means conservative."

"Fred is off the central planner’s grid; the antipode of the collective, an unroped stray escaped from the herd. Milverstedt is a freelance freedom fighter battling the steady encroachment of Bloomberg’s nanny state. From this remove, the man’s two major vices are power and speed. He expresses those vices through the language of two powerful machines: semi-automatic firearms and overpowered motorcycles. Who else would email JPEGs of his tight target grouping? Or extol the virtues of his AR-15?! That, my friends, is the difference between liberals and us conservatives. We brag on our vices; the progs apologize for theirs, then legislate reparations."

Excerpt from David Blaska's post about Fred Milverstedt, one of the co-founders of the Madison alternative newspapers, Isthmus, which I used to link to more than I do these days (now that Meade never comments there anymore). Milverstedt left Isthmus long ago, and one thing he's done since then is write a book: "One More Ride: Fred and the Craft of Motorcycle Meditations."

Sample book text:
If there ever was a time on the bike when I really thought I might need a gun, it was a day when Barbi and I were out on the Shadow on a high ridge in western Wisconsin overlooking a series of lesser hills rolling away to the south. We’d stopped, parked the bike on the shoulder and got off to admire the view.

We were on State 33, not an untraveled road but a good piece from the New York Thruway. On this stretch, there was no other traffic, no other people, no houses or barns except those dotting the valleys below.

Around the curve comes a pick-up truck, slowing as it moves into sight. It stops next to us, not on the shoulder but the middle of the road. There’s two young guys inside.

Seldom one to make snap judgments, give or take now and then, I make one here.

These guys are crackers....

"The legal profession is 'right-sizing,' and law schools should follow suit."

Argues David Lat, rejecting the alternative of keeping up the present incoming class size by lowering admissions standards. The shrinkage model is painful:
Last week, we heard reports of one law school basically axing its entire junior faculty. All of the untenured professors received notice that their contracts might not be renewed for the 2014-2015 academic year. Ouch.

"House painter gets $58M after vicious bar beating leaves him without half a skull."

"Antonio Lopez Chaj appeared at a news conference Monday... When he took off a baseball cap hiding his injuries, gasps could be heard from people present."

Click to see what they saw.

"For great writers, retirement is a fairly recent career option."

"There have always been writers, like Thomas Hardy and Saul Bellow, who kept at it until the very end, but there are many more, like Proust, Dickens and Balzac, who died prematurely, worn out by writing itself. Margaret Drabble may have started a trend when, in 2009, at the age of 69, she announced that she was calling it quits. [Alice] Munro said she was encouraged by the example of Philip Roth, who declared that he was done last fall, as he was getting ready to turn 80. 'I put great faith in Philip Roth,' she said, adding, 'He seems so happy now.'"

Should the 200+-year-old rockfish, caught near Alaska, have been thrown back?

It was reeled in from 900 feet below the surface.

Should the fish have been released?
pollcode.com free polls 

After answering, click for more...

Putin on Snowden: "If he wants to remain here... he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners..."

"... no matter how strange this may sound coming from me."

Admitting Ecuador made a 'mistake' in helping Snowden flee Hong Kong in the first place, [Ecuador's president Rafael Correa] appeared to backtrack on previous suggestions he was welcome, adding: "Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It's not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia."

Asked if he would like to meet the 30-year-old, he added: "Not particularly. He's a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr Snowden spied for some time."
And there's a statement purporting to be from Snowden that pretty much can't have been written by Snowden. Find the tell:
"For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum."
ADDED: The tell is "have," the use of the plural verb with United States. American don't slip into that usage, though it's strictly correct if you're following the rules of grammar. The irregular form is second-nature to Americans. So does that mean Snowden couldn't have written that? No. Meade — in conversation just now — suggested that Snowden might have deliberately adopted the form that a non-American would use. But think what that means: He wants not to be American. That runs counter to a desire to refute the accusation that he is a traitor, but it's consistent with other statements of his that stress the world as a whole, including the term "human right" in the very sentence quoted above.

AND: Let's look at the whole text of his statement, which appears at the link. Right after the above-quoted sentence, we read:
Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. 
He says "my country," but "the current government of," and the law he cites is transnational law. That sentence suggests that "the current government" is undeserving of loyalty and to be distinguished from "my country."

Snowden proceeds to call himself a "stateless person," because the current government has revoked his passport (and obstructed his "right to seek asylum"). He asserts that the current government is "afraid" of its own people:
It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.
Let me paraphrase: If the American people had the information — which I risked my life to set free — they would see the current government as illegitimate.

The sign-off is:
Edward Joseph Snowden
Monday 1st July 2013
I don't think it's too American to write the date like that. We tend to write: July 1, 2013. If you wanted to go all U.S. Constitution about it, you could write: First Day of July in the Year of our Lord two thousand and Thirteen. But "Monday 1st July 2013"? To my eye, that's either written by a non-American or an American affecting a transnational style.

"Bestiality brothels are spreading through Germany faster than ever thanks to a law that makes animal porn illegal..."

"... but sex with animals legal, a livestock protection officer has warned."
Last November German authorities said they were planning to reinstate an old law forbidding sex with animals after a sharp rise in incidents of bestiality along with websites promoting it....

Hans-Michael Goldmann, chairman of the agriculture committee, said the government aimed to forbid using an animal 'for individual sexual acts and to outlaw people 'pimping' creatures to others for sexual use.'

German 'zoophile' group ZETA has announced it will mount a legal challenge should a ban on bestiality become law. 'Mere concepts of morality have no business being law,' said ZETA chairman Michael Kiok.

July 1, 2013

At the Garlic Harvest Café...


... get to the root.

"Dumbbells, garden rakes used as weapons during massive fight... that involved as many as 75 people on Madison’s west side Friday night...."

"The officer arrived on scene and reported that dozens of people were fighting in the middle of the street with a variety of weapons from garden rakes to dumbbells.... people were using locks in their hands as brass knuckles and brandishing sticks."

Here's the location:

View Larger Map

"Why Conservatives Say No."

"Opposition to amnesty and same-sex marriage isn't bigotry, it's a fear of unintended consequences."

Lawsuits against Kevin Clash — the Elmo puppeteer — are dismissed as time barred.

The judge rejected the argument that the statute of limitations period should begin to run when they discovered the extent of the harm they suffered.
But U.S. District Judge John Koeltl [wrote:] "Congress provided an exception to the six year prohibition for plaintiffs under a legal disability and provided that such minors would have an additional three years to bring a claim after they turned eighteen.... This exception, combined with Congress’s failure to adopt a discovery rule in the face of statutes with explicit discovery rules and state sexual abuse statutes providing for application of a discovery rule, indicate that Congress did not provide for a discovery rule under Section 2255, and none should be implied."

"It had to be a perfect storm in order for this to happen."

Said Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward, "Their situational awareness and their training was at such a high level that it's unimaginable that this has even happened."

"Activists can and often do reveal the truth, but the primary objective remains winning the argument."

"That includes the argument about whether a reporter has to be politically and ideologically neutral to practice journalism."

The last 2 sentences in a NYT article by David Carr about the extent to which Glenn Greenwald should be regarded as a "journalist."

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"If you wanted to spend the first day of July watching a timelapse video of a Hippo enclosure being cleaned, filled & then dirtied again..."

"... you've come to the right place."

This is 3 days in the Milwaukee County Zoo hippo enclosure:

"Public Approval of Supreme Court Falls to All-Time Low."

A new Rasmussen Poll.
[J]ust 28% believe the Supreme Court is doing a good or an excellent job. At the same time, 30% rate its performance as poor. That’s the highest-ever poor rating. It’s also the first time ever that the poor ratings have topped the positive assessments. Thirty-nine percent (39%) give the court middling reviews and rate its performance as fair....

"How Much Injury Is Required Before Self-Defense is Justified?"

Andrew Branca analyzes the law and the evidence in the Zimmerman trial.
The very idea that the State is seeking to establish – that self-defense is conditional upon actually suffering serious injury – is, of course, ridiculous on its face. The purpose of the law of self-defense, particularly in the context of the use deadly defensive force, is to be able to protect yourself from an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm before that harm occurs, not to require that you actually experience death or grave bodily harm before you may act to protect yourself.
Also, Branca is following the trial live today here.

Drudge continues his Hillary-is-too-old-theme.

This is at the top right, below the headline, right now:

I flagged this Drudge agenda last Monday, and here it is Monday again.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are both 69 years old. Hillary is 65. They've all been through a lot.

Here's the linked story "Republicans Paint Clinton as Old News for 2016 Presidential Election."

"When you put a healthy option up there on an otherwise unhealthy menu, not only do we not pick it..."

"... but its presence on the menu leads us to swing over and pick something that’s worse for us than we normally would," explains Gavan J. Fitzsimons, a professor in consumer psychology at Duke University.

And economist Thomas C. Schelling wrote, in “Choice and Consequence”: “People behave sometimes as if they had two selves, one who wants clean lungs and long life and another who adores tobacco, or one who wants a lean body and another who wants dessert... The two are in continual contest for control.”

From a news analysis piece in the NYT called "Why Healthy Eaters Fall for Fries." What's the agenda? I suspect they want to deprive us of choice. We can't handle it.

"Google Reader dies today. Here’s why I’m not replacing it."

Says Ezra Klein:
There’s nothing wrong with RSS feeds, or with Twitter. But they both bias my information diet in the same ways: Toward quick reads rather than long ones, toward writers and outlets I know rather than ones I don’t, toward blogs rather than other kinds of articles, and toward information I curated rather than information that someone else curated.

Those biases are dangerous for me. After all, my job is to keep coming up with new and interesting things things to report and write about. The more I read the same things over and over, and the more I read the same things that other writers read, the worse I’ll be at my job.
Thanks for the confession.

The This Old House 2013 Best Curb Appeal Redo is in Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

Watch the video at the link. It's really inspiring. Incredible that the old man did all the work himself, beginning with ripping down all the vines that had become a "mouse highway" to all the various holes in the place. How much after-tax income would they have had to spend to hire others to do this work? On the other hand, how many people can do this kind of work for themselves?

Here's the local newspaper coverage, which got me looking for the first link.

"Wendy Davis: Surgically Constructed 'Human Barbie Doll'?"

"Most people — at least those without a plastic surgeon on retainer — do not become more good looking as they age from their late 20s to their early 50s...."
Now consider Texas state Senator Wendy R. Davis, who has recently been in the news being touted (however dubiously) as the Left’s technologically enhanced "feminist superhero." She is 50 years old.... If she has not found the Fountain of Youth, at minimum she has found very talented plastic surgeons and image consultants who have readied her for her closeup.
Remarkable! It's like she's aging backwards. I wouldn't criticize her for this, though. The blogger at the link says:
For someone who in the early 1990s was a feminist activist in law school, and who is currently posing as a champion of women’s rights, standing up to men who seek to dictate the way women should live, she seems to have devoted an unusual amount of attention to her physical appearance.
I assume the blogger is male. Maybe you are too and you need somebody to spell it out. The difference between the present-day pictures and the old Harvard Law School picture is attributable mostly to 2 things: hair and makeup. In the old photo, from 1991, she's wearing no (or almost no) makeup and natural hair. I remember 1991, and it was a real peak of feminist ideology. She fit her time. And she's fitting her time now.

Few American women today go on TV without makeup. It's not "Human Barbie Doll" to wear foundation and add definition to your eyes. It's distracting when a woman doesn't do that. Note that her eye makeup is far lighter than what has become the norm among TV news women, and she's doing that thing of emphasizing her eyes while leaving her lips almost natural — glossed, with no significant color. That's the well-known approach to toned-down makeup.

As for the hair, she's taken the simple and obvious steps of going blonde, straightening, and getting a somewhat competent cut. Blonde hair has a powerful effect, as many women have experienced. Who knows why it brings such glamor? The effect may be uncanny, but it's far simpler than a Fountain of Youth or plastic surgery, and it's available to anyone. You have to spend a little money to get it done with appropriate streaks, and so forth, but it's really not that big a deal. And for all I know, it's a wig Davis has got on.

Bottom line: Remarkable, but within the norm of reality.

"Classic Linda Greenhouse awfulness."

Opines Stephen Bainbridge:
First, there's the implicit claim that she is able to divine the inner workings of [Chief Justice] Roberts' decision making processes. She knows what's in his "head" and "heart," as if she were some psychic shrink....
Speculating about what's really going on behind the argle-bargle in the written opinions is something we must do to avoid falling for propaganda. I use the term "argle-bargle" to remind you of what Justice Scalia wrote in his dissenting opinion in the DOMA case, Windsor:
[T]he real rationale of today’s opinion, whatever disappearing trail of its legalistic argle-bargle one chooses to follow, is that DOMA is motivated by "'bare . . . desire to harm'" couples in same-sex marriages.
And that's just what Scalia feels is acceptable within the rigors of judicial opinion-writing. We must feel impelled to pull apart the judicial verbiage that we sometimes call the "decision" to try to see The Decision, which is to say, the mental processes that actually took place in the minds of the judges.

Of course, we can't really know. None of us, not even Linda Greenhouse, can divine the inner workings of anyone else's head. (Thank God! What a world this would be if we could!) But there is no more valuable inner working of your own head than to contemplate the inner workings of the heads of others. What fools we are if we take other people's words at face value! But — and here Professor Bainbridge is right — we are wrong if we present our speculation as the truth. If we posture as certain, those who don't like what we say can smack us down. You can't know that!

But I speculate that Linda Greenhouse — in the secret inner workings of the head that only she can access — knows her "The Real John Roberts Emerges" overstates what she knows about the inner workings of the mind of John Roberts. I presume that she has her reasons for writing like that. I presume, I don't know, but I could — if the inner workings of my mind cranked in this direction — write a blog post titled "The Real Linda Greenhouse Emerges." Or "The Real Stephen Bainbridge Emerges."

See if you can read my mind and tell why I don't think such cogitations need to be spelled out.

July... rhymes with coolly.

Suddenly, it's July, and I wonder if you're pronouncing the word correctly. The (unlinkable) OED says:
The word was usually stressed on the first syllable in the early modern period, as the form July-flower, due to folk etymology (see γ forms at gillyflower n.), implies. The orthoepists Peter Levins (1570) and Elisha Coles (late 17th cent.) both include the word among those which have unstressed -y, and Johnson (1755), W. Johnston Pronouncing & Spelling Dict. (1764), and J. Walker Dict. Answering Purposes of Rhyming (1775) all indicate stress on the first syllable (Johnston also marking the y as ‘long’). Both occurrences of the word in Shakespeare are so stressed, as are most metrical examples down to the late 18th cent..... Stress on the first syllable still occas. occurs in Scotland.
That's authoritative, even though the simplest Google detects an error. There are 3, not merely 2, occurrences of "July" in Shakespeare:
The Winter's Tale: "He makes a July's day short as December..."

Much Ado About Nothing: "The sixth of July: your loving friend, Benedick."

King Henry VIII: "And proofs as clear as founts in July when/We see each grain of gravel..."
We know these plays are written in iambic pentameter, so these lines prove the stress went on the first syllable. Who put the lie in July... and why? 

June 30, 2013

"[A] national cult of individualism and careerism threatened to turn America into a country of hypercompetitive loners ruled by tyrants."

Wrote Philip E. Slater in the 1970 book "The Pursuit of Loneliness," which sold half a million copies.
Having re-examined his life through the lens of his own book, Mr. Slater decided in 1971 to resign as the chairman of the sociology department at Brandeis University, where he had taught for 10 years, and take a different path. He took up acting, wrote novels and began culling his personal possessions down to the two boxes he left when he died at 86 on June 20 at his home in Santa Cruz, Calif....

He gave up his car, learned to live on one-fourth the income he was used to and began pursuing a life he would describe in a 1980 book, “Wealth Addiction,” as “voluntary simplicity."...

“The experience of losing everything and finding I was having a wonderful time,” he said, “opened me to experiences I otherwise would not have had. I would have protected myself from them if I had known.”
Sociology, circa 1970. I guess it couldn't last, this kind of sociology that made you not want to be a sociologist.

Gov. Walker vetoes the effort to kick Center for Investigative Journalism off the UW-Madison campus.

We talked about this provision in the budget bill back last week, here, noting the opposition from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

I'm glad to see that Scott Walker is vetoing this.
Instead, he will ask the Board of Regents to review its policy on housing organizations such as the center, which gets office space from the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Communications in exchange for paid student internships and guest lectures.

“It’s appropriate for (the Regents) to look at it,” Walker said in an interview Friday with the State Journal. “But it should be done in the context of a larger policy, not just specific to one organization.”
Right. Otherwise, he trips over the very principle he ought to want to promote: Don't discriminate based on political viewpoint.

Strange ideas of the paranormal.

My Google alert on "roadside memorial" turned up this item at examiner.com:

I've already blogged about the underlying story (as another in my long series of posts about makeshift death-site memorials). This post is about the mistake of putting the story under the already stupid "astrology & paranormal" tag. Did somebody at the Examiner think actual ghosts — to the extent that makes any sense — were involved? Like, maybe it was some college town variation on the old "Ghost Riders in the Sky" legend:
"(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend" is a country and cowboy-style song [that] tells a folk tale of a cowboy who has a vision of red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky, being chased by the spirits of damned cowboys. One warns him that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever "trying to catch the Devil's herd across these endless skies."
Here's Marty Robbins singing the song. Or if you prefer: Johnny Cash. Or here it is by the singer who possesses the voice that is the first singing voice that I ever heard and thought: This is the greatest voice ever. I must have been about 4 years old at the time, considering the year that the greatest recording ever — as I saw it — came out (1955).

But back to "Ghost Riders." Here are the lyrics. I'd love parody lyrics applicable to apparitions of college-town bike riders.

"12-Year-Old Girl Banned From School Football Team for 'Inciting Lust.'"

Another questionable WaPo headline. Why is "inciting lust" in quotes? First, we get something the mother of girl said:
"In the meeting with the CEO of the school, I was told that the reasons behind it were... that the boys were going to start lusting after her, and have impure thoughts about her," [Paige’s mother, Cassy Blythe] said. "And that locker room talk was not appropriate for a female to hear, even though she had a separate locker room from the boys."
So even in the mother's statement there's only a reference to what the boys "were going to" do — "start lusting" — not any accusation that the girl was "inciting." But the mother is paraphrasing what the CEO said, and we don't know how diplomatically he put his references to sex. Did he say "lust" — that 7 Deadly Sins word? The school is Strong Rock Christian, so readers are invited — incited! — to think that this is old-fashioned religion.

Then, the WaPo "social reader" writer Dan Carson opines:
I’m no philosopher, but when you ban preteen girls from being around boys while wearing shoulder pads, “inciting lust” sounds like a flimsy reason. After all, the rest of the girls on school grounds are wearing skirts and polos and aren’t covered in reeking hand-me-down padding.
If it sounds like a flimsy reason, consider that the mother — who wants her daughter on the team — had a motive to state the reason in terms that would sound flimsy. Carson ought to know about the meaning slippage that occurs in restatement, because — as you see there — he's the one that came up with "inciting." Carson's use of the quotes is defensible, but really confusing. It's not a quote of what anyone else said, but quotes used to indicate paraphrasing.

"Secret-court judges upset at portrayal of ‘collaboration’ with government."

You wouldn't think federal judges, especially those working on secret things, would go public with their emotions, especially their emotions about how they themselves are portrayed, but that's the headline at WaPo. From the article:
“In my view, that draft report contains major omissions, and some inaccuracies, regarding the actions I took as Presiding Judge of the FISC and my interactions with Executive Branch officials,” [U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,] said in a statement to The Post...

"'Crazy ants' invade Southern states, altering ecosystem."

"Also known to scientists as Nylanderia fulva, they're called crazy because of their unpredictable movements and swarming populations."
The bug is reddish-brown, about an eighth of an inch long and has a hankering for honey dew — with a side of electronics. The insects nest anywhere and are easily transported, but so far have mostly infested Texas and several Southern states after being inadvertently transported from South America by humans....

They cause about $146.5 million in electrical damage a year because millions of ants are electrocuted in small circuits or wires, where they seek warmth....