August 17, 2013

At the Iowa State Capitol...

... in Des Moines:


Looking up into the dome:


The Civil War looms large:

Scenes from the drive from Lincoln, Nebraska to Madison, Wisconsin.

1. On 2 overpasses to I-80, there were groups of protesters with signs calling attention to the Obama scandals: Benghazi, IRS, Fast & Furious. I saw at least one Gadsden flag.

2. "The corn and soybean crops looked really good. I didn't see any poor crops at all." So says Meade when I ask him about the highlights of the drive. Some people driving from Nebraska to Madison might say "Ugh, corn. Too much corn. When will we get past all this corn?" But Meade is not one of those people. His father was in the popcorn seed business.

3. Mostly looking for coffee, we got off the interstate in Williamsburg, Iowa, where there's a big outlet store shopping center. Meade wanted to go into Lids to get some baseball hats, so I went into the Coach store and was checking out with a book bag and at the next cash register, there was a woman who was quickly replaced by a man who said she didn't speak English. The older woman behind the counter plied him with cheerful questions including "Where are you from?" He said "Iraq," but he said it in his Iraqi accent, which is nothing like eye-RACK or even eee-ROCK. It was more eee-RAHqqq. The woman said she wasn't familiar with that country, and the man repeated the name, perhaps wondering whether this woman had not heard of the events of the last 10 years. I didn't want to intrude. I cast a glance at her and then at him, as they kept going back and forth, and it was obvious she was never going to hear the word he was saying as "Iraq." Finally, I said to her, "He's saying  eee-ROCK," and of course, she knew Iraq. To him, I said, sympathetically, "It was the way you said it."

4. Meade's team the Cincinnati Reds were playing the Milwaukee Brewers, so Meade listened to the whole game on the satellite radio as he drove, and Meade didn't see that I'd put in the earbuds and was listening to an audiobook (which happened to be "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim"). I laughed and he said "I wonder if they cooked up sushi?" because he thought I'd laughed at the baseball announcer who'd just said that the people coming to the Miller Park were tailgating and "cooking up every kind of food imaginable." Apparently, my laugh was perfectly synchronized. Meade's reference to sushi harked back to lunch, wherein I ate this:


Where we were when we were not in Madison.


We were in Lincoln, Nebraska.


For the National Amputee Golf Open Championship, cheering on the Meade family member who comments on this blog as "The Elder" (previously highlighted in this 2010 post).


Lincoln is a fine American city, like Madison, a capital city, and though we are big fans of the state capitol buildings, we skipped that building this time, because we were there in January 2012. Remember those pictures? Instead we got our fix of state capitolosity as we drove home today, via I-80, stopping in Des Moines, Iowa. I have some nice Iowa Capitol pictures, but I'm going to put them in a separate post.

"Excommunicated from the clown community."

"'Excommunicated' is our word, but there really is a 'clown community,'" writes James Taranto, who's apparently a community unto himself, judging by his use of the first person plural.
Judy Quest, author of a op-ed titled "A Real Clown Wouldn't Mock Obama"... informs us of the existence of "international clown organizations," a "strict code of ethics" governing "the craft" of clowning, and "clown journals," for which Quest, who's been a clown for 32 years, "writes regularly."
But does the Clown Code of Ethics forbid dressing up as a particular President of the United States and appearing to have your life threatened? Taranto says:
[N]one of the Clown Commandments forbid political humor, so that it would appear to be permissible to pantomime truth to power. 
Yes, but do clown ethics forbid making comedy out of a physical threat to the President? What truth is spoken by saying Wouldn't it be funny if the President's life were in danger?

If you've wondered why I hadn't previously blogged about the rodeo clown, these questions reflect my reasons for avoiding what might seem like such a tempting story. I favor free speech, and I'm sorry this guy lost his job. He shouldn't have received so much attention, which is why I'd refrained from giving him more. But an employer is justified controlling the speech of employees. The speech expressed by the rodeo is the speech of the business that is the rodeo. It's not the individual speech of any particular performer. But I suspect the guy got scapegoated. Did the employer approve of this kind of performance before the nation's spotlight fell on this one clown?

"I’ve wanted to be in porn since middle school, when I understood that performers made each other and audiences feel good for money."

"It seemed like an honest use of time; plus, all the popular kids thought it was cool."
When I was old enough to do it, I waited for over a decade, thinking about my reasons for wanting to participate before I actually decided I was ready.

All the women in porn I know have similar stories. More representative than Lovelace are contemporary and prolific performers like Sovereign Syre. “Every step of the way was a conscious transition,” she told me. Her “erotic journey” began when, after leaving grad school to write a novel, she started appearing on an online modeling site and progressed to porn slowly and thoughtfully from there.
From an article in Slate titled "Linda Lovelace Is Not a Porn Star/The real world of porn has nothing to do with her experience in Deep Throat."

August 16, 2013

Crooked numbers and frozen rope.

Terms from the glossary of baseball. I found this (huge) list fun to quiz Meade on during a long car trip the other day.

"It is almost impossible to find an establishment Republican in town who’s not downright morose about the 2013 that has been and is about to be."

"Most dance around it in public, but they see this year as a disaster in the making, even if most elected Republicans don’t know it or admit it."

Who are these morose, ineffectual, in-town, establishment characters?

Has John Oliver been better than Jon Stewart...

... on "The Daily Show"?

("Daily Show" haters need not respond. )

The problem of big babies.

Literal big babies.

It's a serious medical issue.

Figurative big babies are another matter. A cultural issue.

Questions, questions.

I was amused to find myself amongst the miscellaneous items at the end of "The Best of the Web" today. That stuff at the end is definitely not the best of the web. It's more of a grab bag of things that can be made funny by putting it under a funny heading.
Questions Nobody Is Asking

" 'Why Don't You Ask Me Next Time Before Writing That I'm Either Malicious or Dumb?'" --headline,, Aug. 14

"Why Is Samantha Power Speaking to Invisible Children?"--headline,, Aug. 14

Answers to Questions Nobody Is Asking

"Michelle Obama: 'No,' I Will Never Run for President"--headline,, Aug. 15

"What are these new ways of wearing lipstick?"

"According to many makeup artists, the key is to layer, layer, layer. (First rule of lipstick: any two colors mixed together look snazzier than one alone.) And then, after all that varnishing, strategically undo what you’ve done: engage in some artful blotting. It’s this final step that renders the lips stained, not shellacked."

Blotting. In the 1950s and early 60s, lipstick application always ended with putting a tissue between your lips and pressing them together, leaving a lip-shaped lipstick mark. You'd put it on, then take some of it off. Was that an unnecessary ritual or something you needed to do because lipstick wasn't as good back then as it is today? It was dry and it looked darker on than in the tube. It got darker over the course of the day too. In the 60s, things changed as young women wore frosted, light colors, including white, and then we switched to completely clear "lip gloss." Everything else looked old. It's funny to read an elaborate article today about how to make lipstick "new" again, especially seeing something that is, to me, the epitome of old: blotting.

ADDED: "Blot" is a funny word, which can mean to add spots of staining material like ink (which leads to the figurative use when we speak of dirtying a reputation ("Theres a good mother, boy, that blots thy father!" wrote Shakespeare)). It also refers to erasing and wiping away. The OED has these very old examples:
1611   Bible (A.V.) Acts iii. 19   Repent yee therefore..that your sins may be blotted out.
1667   Milton Paradise Lost xi. 891   Not to blot out mankind.
1593   Shakespeare Venus & Adonis sig. Biiijv,   Like mistie vapors when they blot the skie.

August 15, 2013

"Russell Simmons apologizes for Harriet Tubman 'sex tape.'"

"The clip features an actress portraying Tubman having sex with her white slave master as someone films it so the abolitionist can bribe her boss.... The 55-year-old Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, writes Thursday that he 'can now understand why so many people are upset.' He said he removed the video after a call from the NAACP."

Video at the link.

That book about celibacy is "slim, chic and humorless, that is, a sophisticated bagatelle of a volume..."

"... filled with detours to exotic locales: the Sahara, Goa in India, the Greek island of Hydra. It’s also gauzy and episodic and not particularly well written, yet it drifts along on a kind of existential bearnaise of its own secreting."

From the NYT review of "The Art of Sleeping Alone," which we were just talking about here.  The review makes the author's celibacy seem like a reaction to negative sexual experiences, not a positive pursuit (which is the aspect of celibacy that interests me).

"The Passive House: Sealed for Freshness."

Quite aside from the environmentalism and the long-term cost savings, I love the promise of quiet:
Look out the living room windows and you can see a gardener wielding one of those ear-piercing leaf blowers in the yard, but you would never know it inside.

There is no furnace or air-conditioner clicking on or off, no whir of forced air, and yet the climate is a perfect 72 degrees, despite the chilly air outside....In one of the most humid cities in the country, you aren’t sticky or irritable....

"For any non-Clinton Democrat, exploring the 2016 election is something of an exercise in perceived futility, at least for the moment."

"She looms larger over the primary landscape than any undeclared candidate since perhaps Dwight Eisenhower, and the drop-off in prominence between her and the next tier of Democrats makes it all but impossible for any less famous politician to win consideration as a credible alternative."

Writes Politico under the headline "Non-Clinton Dems ask: Why not me?"

Isn't this the key to answering that question everyone was asking yesterday about why the NYT published that exposé "Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions"? No one else has a shot at positioning himself/herself for the Democratic nomination as long as the behemoth Clinton stands. Now's the time to be lining up support, and if Hillary is going to topple, she needs to topple at the right point on the time line for the Democratic Party.

"The stories of young men sexually assaulting young women seem never to stop... and there are times when I find myself darkly wondering if there’s some ineradicable predatory streak in the male subset of our species."

Writes Frank Bruni, beginning his NYT column, which proceeds to tell us about a psychology professor who blames the culture and is in the business of fixing the culture. The military uses him to teach and advise on the prevention of sexual violence, so it's in his economic interest to promote the theory that it's the culture and not the innate biology. On the other hand, even if a tendency toward violence is inborn, we demand that people overcome destructive urges and channel their energy in a positive way.

Reading the line quoted above, what I found myself wondering — darkly wondering? — is whether Bruni should have noted that he is gay and thus not susceptible to the "ineradicable predatory streak" that he imagines leads to the sexual assault of young women. Is it wrong to write something like that about men and not address his own exclusion from the category he's derogating? Maybe. There's added authority in running down one's own kind.

A more serious omission here, however, is that sexual assault in the military happens to men even more than to women. If homosexual encounters are a big part of the problem, then Bruni is protecting his own kind, and the eclipsing of his exclusion from the heterosexual group he insults becomes much more problematic.

Electrical engineering man doesn't get the poem his English major girlfriend gave him in parchment-and-calligraphy form...

... and — what the hell kind of electrical engineering guy writes to an advice columnist? — the advice columnist he writes to doesn't even know enough to tell him to watch "Hannah and Her Sisters." He's all:
It's by e.e. cummings... Sarah told me it's her favorite poem of all time. I didn't even understand the title, so I kept my mouth shut. Then she said she feels that the last line, which goes "Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands," is the most beautiful sentence written by an American in the past 100 years. 
Aw, come on. There's an entire sequence in "Hannah and Her Sisters" — watch the 4-minute clip here —  that begins with a big white-on-black intertitle inviting laughter over the line "Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands." This man — if he really is an electrical engineer (e.e. = electrical engineer) — instead of finding a way to laugh with this girl confesses to the advice columnist that he has "no idea what that sentence means."

"We have reached a state of harder polarization and more dangerous division, with the social fabric in danger of tearing, because violence only begets violence."

"The beneficiaries of what happened today are the preachers of violence and terrorism, the most extremist groups," said Egypt's interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei, resigning. ElBaradei is a Nobel Prize laureate.

Another Nobel Prize laureate is United States President Barack Obama, whom we heard from through a spokesman named — seriously, I'm not joking — Josh Earnest.
He said the United States condemned the renewal of the emergency law and urged respect for basic rights like the freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstrations. But he stopped short of writing off the interim government, saying the United States would continue to remind Egypt’s leaders of their promises and urge them “to get back on track.”
Get back on track after a day in which the military killed more than 500 people in what the NYT called "scorched-earth assault by security forces to raze two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo." (The U.S. gives $1.5 billion to Egypt every year, mostly to the military.)
Analysts said the attack was the clearest sign yet that the Egyptian police state was re-emerging in full force, overriding liberal cabinet officials like Mr. ElBaradei and ignoring Western diplomatic pressure and talk of cutting financial aid.

“This is the beginning of a systematic crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, other Islamists and other opponents of a military coup,” said Emad Shahin, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo. “In the end,” he added, “the West will back the winning side.”
The "winning side" is the military and we're already backing it, right?

"President Obama’s increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency."

"Desperation fuels arrogance as, barely 200 days into the 1,462 days of his second term, his pantry of excuses for failure is bare, his domestic agenda is nonexistent and his foreign policy of empty rhetorical deadlines and red lines is floundering. And at last week’s news conference he offered inconvenience as a justification for illegality."

So begins George Will's column today, which is headlined "Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s."

August 14, 2013

The view from Blue Mounds.




"Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish."

I just bought the Kindle and the audiobook versions of David Rakoff's new book. I bought both because I love his vocal performance and I also like to see words. Both preferences are especially true with respect to poetry, and this is a novel in verse.

Doctors Without Borders gives up on Somalia.

"We have reached the point where I just don’t see the recognition of the value of impartial humanitarian assistance in Somalia anymore... We’re not therefore able to put our staff in places where they can work. The risks and the compromises that we must make are too high.... I want to reiterate that the kidnapping was simply the latest in a series of incidents since we have been present in Somalia, but yes, it was the last straw."

"I’m sorry I hurt people. I’m sorry that I hurt the United States."

"I’m apologizing for the unintended consequences of my actions. I believed I was going to help people, not hurt people."

Personal watermelon.


"What caused NBC’s Meet the Press to fall behind Face the Nation and This Week?"

Jennifer Rubin tries to answer the question. She's got a list of 8 things, and I especially like:
2. Bob Schieffer has gotten feisty. He zings administration guests, asks probing questions, and gives snappy commentary. Given the choice between a Schieffer and a Gregory interview, I’d watch the former every time.
I agree! I think Schieffer got angry about Susan Rice lying on all the talk shows about Benghazi. He's been on fire since then. He's so old, so I was assuming he was coasting, but he woke up.

Something Rubin doesn't have on her list is: David Gregory is too concerned about being nice. He's always smiling and getting along with the guests. That is not what Tim Russert did. Russert intimidated the guests. He cornered them, often using a brilliant sequence of quotes displayed on screen. Very entertaining! Russert seemed to be directing the show toward us, the audience. Gregory seems more to be letting us watch while he socializes with his Washington friends.

"Can you start a post and thread on the adverse economic and environmental impact of pets?"

Asked Phaedrus in the comments to "If you really care about global warming, stop all unnecessary travel."
The same tree huggers that yammer on and on about the environment allow their pets to use everyone else property, public and private as a restroom for their animal. Human waste has to be treated under all kinds of regulatory requirements. Pets are allowed to deposit equivalent waste at will wherever as if they are wild animals which they aren't. And don't get me started on what it takes to feed them, the grain, meat etc. You could feed a lot of starving people using the grain that goes into pet food.
Consider this that post. And let me also call attention to my 2010 post "If you really believed in global warming, you would turn off your air conditioning," which had an addendum with a list of 6 more things people should do to demonstrate actual belief in the coming calamity:

"Is the New York Times being guest edited by Rush Limbaugh? Today it runs with a fascinating takedown of the Clinton Foundation..."

"... that vast vanity project that conservatives are wary of criticising for being seen to attack a body that tries to do good. But the liberal NYT has no such scruples. The killer quote is this:"
For all of its successes, the Clinton Foundation had become a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.

"And here we are... waiting for the sunset."

(Yesterday, on Lake Wingra.)

If you really care about global warming, stop all unnecessary travel.

Via Instapundit, Megan McArdle asks: "Why does air travel get left out of the mix when we’re talking about reducing our carbon footprint?" She considers the class politics:
And although many car trips are hard to avoid, given 60 years of infrastructure development, a lot of the air travel is unnecessary -- and concentrated among the so-called one percent. Only about half the country takes as much as one flight a year; I’m willing to bet that virtually every U.S. citizen gets in a passenger car at least once per annum. And while most of those car trips are the business of everyday life -- getting to work, procuring food, etc. -- most of those flights are either vacations, or elite workers flitting to conferences and business meetings....

Giving up air travel and overnight delivery is much more personally costly for the public intellectuals who write about this stuff than giving up a big SUV....

If we’re going to get serious about greenhouse gasses, we need to get serious about air travel. Going to a distant conference should attract the kind of scorn among the chattering classes that is currently reserved for buying a Hummer.
I have a number of arguments against travel, so it's easy for me to adopt one more. I have thought about — but thus far resisted — gibing about global warming when the topic of travel comes up in conversation. I sometimes imagine dialogues in which someone asks me — as people so often do — if I've got travel plans for summer/winter/spring break and I claim to be doing my part in the fight against global warming, or someone goes on about their wonderful destinations and I puncture the  mood by inquiring about the morality of needless carbon emissions.

By the way, I love seeing McArdle use the word "flitting" — "elite workers flitting to conferences and business meetings." I used that word yesterday in my response to Elon Musk's "hyperloop":
I believe the truly modern technological solution is not to travel at all. Overcome the need to have the body go anywhere. That's the most efficient answer to our transportation problems. Musk's tube would supposedly get people back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Why? Pick a city. Stop this senseless flitting from one city to another.
In the comments at that post, mikee said:
A late 1970s anthology of short story Science Fiction included a story describing Althouse's ideal.

Instant video/audio/text/data communication between people and total availability of all information resources via something quite like a super duper internet led to the rich becoming isolationists in the extreme, to the point that a woman forced to travel finds herself flying over the Himalayas and sees nothing worth the effort of observing.

With great introversion comes great disassociation.
I said:
@mikee I think it's a limitation in the capacity to observe that makes people think they need to rove. If you really paid attention to your surroundings, you could be endlessly fascinated by your home town. It's similar to the value of a marriage compared to multiple sex partners.
And I say it's funny that the Himalayas came up in this context, because my favorite lines in my favorite movie — "My Dinner With Andre" — use a trip to Mount Everest to signify looking for meaning by going far afield instead of seeing it nearby:
Tell me: why do we require a trip to Mount Everest in order to be able to perceive one moment of reality? I mean...I mean: is Mount Everest more "real" than New York? I mean, isn't New York "real"? I mean, you see, I think if you could become fully aware of what existed in the cigar store next door to this restaurant, I think it would just blow your brains out! I mean... I mean, isn't there just as much "reality" to be perceived in the cigar store as there is on Mount Everest? I mean, what do you think? You see, I think that not only is there nothing more real about Mount Everest, I think there's nothing that different, in a certain way. I mean, because reality is uniform, in a way. So that if you're--if your perceptions--I mean, if your own mechanism is operating correctly, it would become irrelevant to go to Mount Everest, and sort of absurd! Because, I mean, it's just--I mean, of course, on some level, I mean, obviously it's very different from a cigar store on Seventh Avenue, but I mean...
I had just quoted that last month in a post called "What do you think the difference is between a tourist and a traveler?" where I had said "Most of our depth comes from the life we live at home, and if we were really observant we would never run out of things to perceive and contemplate at  home."

These ideas are not about fossil fuel and global warming, but about psychology and philosophy. But it is the elite class that pushes environmentalism and (hypocritically) flits all over the earth (sometimes to talk about environmentalism), and it is the elite class that ought to be delving into the psychology and philosophy of travel.

But what about you, Althouse, don't you travel? The truth is, I haven't left Madison — other than to go to a nearby state park — since last August.

"Let’s begin with a working (and provable) premise: Women, if allowed to be fully equal to men, will bring peace to the planet."

WaPo's Kathleen Parker says, arguing that the Hillary for President message should be: "She can save the world."

Even assuming women's equality is the key to world peace, what's the big connection between a female U.S. President and the condition of women around the world? Parker notices that gap in her argument:
What does this have to do with Hillary? Quite a bit.

Rewinding the tape to 1995 at the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, then-first lady Hillary Clinton empowered women as never before with just a few words: “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”...

At the time, it was a revolutionary statement and helps explain why Hillary is one of the most recognized and revered individuals in the world.
So she read a line in a speech that was an utterly standard proposition of feminism, and she did that because she was the wife of a political leader, and... voila!... recognized and revered... therefore... ????

"Why don't you ask me next time before writing that I'm either malicious or dumb?"

Asks Charles C. Johnson, the Daily Caller writer whose article I critiqued yesterday in a post titled "Young Cory Booker — groping women or appeasing women?"

Here's the point in the comments where Johnson shows up. I answer him, he responds to that, and I respond.

Just thought you might like to know about the action in the comments.

August 13, 2013

The D.C. Circuit Court rebukes Obama over Yucca Mountain.

"The president may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections...."

"I said: Self, you'll ruin your health/They say alcohol will cook the brain."

"I answered me: That well may be/But you know it sure works good to kill the pain..."

Hey, who's driving that car?


Come on! Both paws on the wheel!



I could go for a nice big glass of hornets... after a rough day of paddleboarding...


... on Lake Wingra.


General Clark and "general indignities."

Accusations of "general indignities" are made against his wife by General Wesley Clark, who is seeking divorce and having an affair with a woman who was born 16 years after his marriage began, 46 years ago.

"Properly worn with knee-length wool socks, which somewhat cancel the cooling effect, Bermuda shorts...

"... take on formality as a jacket or tie is added, still look best in the country..." says LIFE magazine in August 1953 — 60 years ago. The article is "Men Try Shorts For Town."

That was found by a reader who emails:
Greetings Ms. Althouse: Long time reader, so I'm aware of your distaste for men in shorts. One of my retirement activities has been reading every issue of LIFE magazine from its start in 1936. I'm up to 1953 and came across an article that may document the genesis of the short pants for men phenomenon. Lots of pictures I know you'll love (loathe).

By the way, I live in South Carolina and regardless of how ridiculous I may appear, summers here dictate comfort as a priority over fashion sense.
There's always an exception if the weather is hot enough, at least 80°, and outside of the air conditioning. I'm up here in Wisconsin, where guys break out the shorts when it's in the 40s!


... by floor details. I was surprised by the all-wood vent...


... and by the entry to the stairway, otherwise known as the gaping hole in the floor:


"Norway’s handsome PM poses as taxi driver to hear the wishes of the people."

(Via Bloggingheads.)

"Why Elon Musk's 'hyperloop' transport won't work."

"[T]raveling faster than a jet aircraft in a tube would be really, really difficult."
Sam Jaffe, writing on the Navigant Research blog, says... "The biggest concern with this plan has to do with temperature. The pod will be compressing air and expelling it downwards and backwards. All that air compression creates an enormous amount of heat, which can damage the pod and its machinery"....

Musk's idea isn't new. Ever since pneumatic tubes using negative air pressure to shoot capsules through tubes showed up decades ago -- department stores used them for transactions and newspapers used them to carry stories from the newsroom to operators that would produce metal type for the printing presses -- people have dreamed of traveling through cylinders at high speed.
I remember those pneumatic tubes in department stores...

Imagine traveling like that.

I believe the truly modern technological solution is not to travel at all. Overcome the need to have the body go anywhere. That's the most efficient answer to our transportation problems. Musk's tube would supposedly get people back and forth between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Why? Pick a city. Stop this senseless flitting from one city to another.

How clean did "male feminist" Hugo Schwyzer come?

The Daily Beast has an interview with the headline "Porn Professor Hugo Schwyzer Comes Clean About His Twitter Meltdown and Life as a Fraud." I suspect he's playing a longer game, and this is first class bullshit. We've all heard of this guy now, and I wonder what's his next move, now that he has our attention.

Let's review the facts thus far. He got his academic credentials in British and medieval history, and he is a tenured professor at Pasadena City College, who taught classes in Women's Studies. It emerged that he, a 46-year-old married man, had "sexted with a 27-year-old sex worker activist." Then, he tweeted a lot about what a fraud he was. Who cares?! Well, I guess it was dramatic for a professor to let loose with a spate of tweets ostensibly attacking himself.

"Brains Of Dying Rats Yield Clues About Near-Death Experiences."

 "Just after the rats' hearts stopped, there was a burst of brain activity. Their brain suddenly seemed to go into overdrive, showing all the hallmarks not only of consciousness but a kind of hyperconsciousness."
"We found continued and heightened activity... Measurable conscious activity is much, much higher after the heart stops — within the first 30 seconds.... That really just, just really blew our mind. ... That really is consistent with what patients report"....
I thought this was already well known, but I guess euthanizing rats and getting this data is new. Still, were the scientists' minds actually blown? Isn't this what they expected? Wouldn't it have been more mind-blowing if there hadn't been a brain activity burst — because that's what would support the supernatural interpretation of the near-death experiences reported by human beings?

IN THE COMMENTS: Hagar asks: "Why is euthanizing used as a euphemism for killing?" Yeah, euthanasia is killing to spare the animal pain. These rats were killed just to watch them die, like Johnny Cash and that man in Reno, except Johnny Cash didn't have electrodes implanted in the man's brain, nor did he seriously collect and analyze data or shake our beliefs in the existence of heaven and hell.

Young Cory Booker — groping women or appeasing women?

The Daily Caller, apparently hungry to make Cory Booker look bad, has an article with the headline "In college column, Cory Booker revealed time he groped friend, and she resisted." I think we're supposed to find it significant that when he was 15 and making out with a willing partner, on a bed, he put his hand on her breast and she rejected the move. This is nothing, of course, but it's something not because he "groped" a girl, but because he used the incident, years later, to score with women.

He was at Stanford, in peak feminist times — post-Anita Hill, pre-Monica Lewinsky — and the column was titled "So Much for Stealing Second." In the manner of the time, he told his "own personal story" to "make a point" and "make people think":
“When grandiose statements entrenched in politically correct terminology are made, many may listen but few will hear,” Booker continued. “When I hesitated in writing this column, I realized I was basking in hypocrisy. So instead I chose to write and risk.”
Booker the 15-year-old may have been awkward, but Booker the college student is slick, speaking to his female peers the way they wanted. Eschew abstractions and grandiosity. Confess your male transgressions. Within the 1992 feminist environment, getting personal — "risking" — was the inroad to favor. He expresses regret about his susceptibility to "messages that sex was a game, a competition," and he'd seen getting the hand onto the breast as reaching "second base." Ironically, he was still trying to score with women, this time the college women, and admitting that he thought of sex as a game was a way to compete in the new game.

The Daily Caller writer, Charles C. Johnson, was probably a child when Booker wrote that column. Johnson doesn't seem to understand the context at all. Or maybe he understands and he's just shamelessly appropriating this material to launch the rumor that Booker is a sex offender. Is Johnson dumb or malicious? The result is malicious, but I suspect Johnson is dumb, because look at this:
"After having my hand pushed away once, I reached my ‘mark,’” Booker wrote.

Booker didn’t elaborate on what his “mark” was, but whatever happened, it was enough to haunt him for years to come.
His "mark" was obviously the breast. The column is titled "So Much for Stealing Second." I know these kids today have relabeled the bases, but how can you not understand what "mark" means in that context? Or does Johnson understand but maliciously intend to insinuate that Booker reached some other part of the woman? Clue to Johnson: Third base was fondling the genitals, and to get the penis into the vagina was to reach home.

I got to Johnson's nonsense via Instapundit who teased it with "Reverse the sexes and there's no story here." But there is no story here! Instapundit quotes 2 sentences of Johnson's and repeats the words "groped" and "grabbed" to refer to what the 15-year-old did to the girl's breast. But Booker writes of a very slow and gentle move of a hand toward the breast of a female who had intruded on him with "an overwhelming kiss" when he'd offered her a hug at midnight on New Year's Eve. So actually, the sexes were reversed, and Instapundit — in the midst of his sarcasm about how we overlook female sexual aggression — overlooked female sexual aggression.

If anyone was assaulted, it was Booker: "As the ball dropped, I leaned over to hug a friend and she met me instead with an overwhelming kiss." Then: "As we fumbled upon the bed, I remember debating my next 'move' as if it were a chess game." He was 15, fumbling, and thinking about chess. How old was she? How did they get to that bed? Booker was using what he had to make his feminist points to Stanford women in 1992. He had nothing, but he made something out of nothing for rhetorical purposes to lecture college men about how they ought to behave toward women.

If he did anything wrong, it's that he sought so earnestly to please women, adapting to the preferences they seemed to express, first, by trying to perform appropriately for the woman who imposed "an overwhelming kiss" on him and, then, by trying to talk the talk of the college feminists.

"What the sex lives of female monkeys may tell us about women."

Front-page teaser for a WaPo article that — on clicking — is headlined "Lust, monkeys and the science of human desire."

Now, I'm not interested in monkey sex at all. The science I want to know about is the journalism of the web. Why was the front page, the page that invites you to click, all gendered up with "female monkeys" and "women," but the title at the site of the article is sex neutral, with "monkeys" and "human desire"? There are 2 other differences that suggest that the front page was intentionally skewed toward women: 1. Omission of the word "science," and 2. Substituting "sex lives" for "lust."

(What's stereotypically female about "sex lives" for "lust"? "Lust" is about the urge and it's also the name of the sin, whereas "sex lives" implies that one's whole existence comes into play. "Lust" is racy and emphasizes the motivation to seek release, but "sex lives" speaks of sex as an integrated element of personal well-being that permeates one's body, mind, and relationships with others.)

I suspect that different readers get different teasers on the front page and WaPo knows I'm female and is therefore serving me the female teaser. (Search for "monkeys" on the WaPo front page and let me know what title you get.) But the text of the article justifies the female-oriented headline, not the neutral one. It's about research that —"[l]ike lots of current research on human and animal sexuality" — upends the conventional notion that the male is the aggressor in sexual relations.

The author of the article, Daniel Bergner, says the conventional notion "may be soothing for society." I'd say that challenging that notion is also "soothing." In modern day America, over and over, I've seen a preference for reporting scientific research in a manner that promotes the female. So, if the conventional notion is that the male is dominant, vigorous, and successful in acquiring many sex partners, there is an eagerness to perceive that the opposite is true.

August 12, 2013

Color-strip test, late afternoon version.



Mid-morning version here.

Lefties who fear that Cory Booker is "a Manchurian candidate who, while running as a nominal Democrat, is and has been deeply entrenched with the vulture capitalists..."

"... and their disaster capitalism education 'reform,' grew up in and has never rejected the religious right (while selling himself as gay-friendly, he's cultivated the same extremist movement that has promoted homophobia in Uganda and benefited from their mythology of Newark's 'transformation'), is steeped in Wall Street money and philosophy and is deeply admired by the usual right-wing think tanks."

"If a person does not put across his views in the presence of children, no measures against him can be taken..."

"People of nontraditional sexual orientations can take part in the competitions and all other events at the [Olympic] Games unhindered, without any fear for their safety whatsoever."

What Eric Holder said about drugs.

I held up on blogging the advance publicity on the speech because I wanted to see the text, which is now available here.

"There are sixty-four foods available on a stick at this year's ongoing Iowa State Fair."

"Wisconsin's recently concluded state fair, however, had ninety-five, including country-fried bacon on a stick with gravy."

"The Entire History of the World — Really, All of It — Distilled Into a Single Gorgeous Chart."

"This 'Histomap,' created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931."
The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and folded into a green cover, which featured endorsements from historians and reviewers. The chart was advertised as “clear, vivid, and shorn of elaboration,” while at the same time capable of “holding you enthralled” by presenting "the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America."
Online and zoomable here.

A 13 year old says "Facebook is losing teens lately, and I think I know why."

"It wasn’t the Facebook it was when I was seven."
It got complicated — it was just kind of like, "We liked it the way it was. Why are you changing it?" it was just kind of like, "We liked it the way it was. Why are you changing it?"
Remember when "change" was the watchword of the young?

Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
Oh my god this is good but I just can't help chuckling at her repeated references to "a facebook." I think she and her grandmother have more common ground than she imagines.
And, quoting the teenager's last line (in italics):
I love Facebook, really I do. I hope they can make a comeback and appeal to my peers. I think it's a great idea for a website, and I wish Facebook the best of luck.

I know this wasn't necessarily meant as a big 'and to close, fuck you, Zuckerberg" but it sure is fun to read it that way.
Facebook's destiny is to be AOL. That is the ultimate end of all walled gardens.



ADDED: "'Dufnering' took on a whole new meaning on Sunday when laid-back Jason Dufner claimed the PGA Championship, transforming the 36-year-old cult figure into a major winner."

De-yellowifying the off-white.




We got a lot of advice from readers when we talked about paint to go on the walls of our newly floored room, and yesterday we got 4 samples and painted them on the wall in 2 places. The colors look very different at different times of day. They were chosen from a brochure with over 100 white/off-white swatches. All 4 that we have here are at the lightest 2 of 6 levels.

"It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds."

"I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag," said the Swiss sales clerk who incurred the wrath of Oprah.
"I wasn't sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection. I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do. She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag.

"I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags.... She looked around the store again but didn't say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes."
Now, I think this relationship got off on the wrong track when the sales clerk read the customer as best suited for the Jennifer Aniston collection. This would annoy me. You're steering me toward the Jennifer Aniston?! Why! But Oprah can't go to the press with that, because it doesn't say I was racially typecast. What does it say? You look like a middle class American. That's annoying, but not a topic for outrage. So Oprah points at the most out-of-reach item, figuring it's super-expensive, which it is.

Anthony Weiner is pleased with the sheer numerosity of his ideas...

2 books! 125 ideas!

"Look, powerful voices have made it clear from the very beginning, they didn't want me to win. But this isn't about what they want...." This is about what I want.

"Lindsay [Lohan] topless and looking uncomfortable, real life porn actor James Deen frontless and pantless and unable to perform (I mean act)..."

"... added up to a disaster of a film that shouldn’t have been made in the first place."

The movie "The Canyons” — directed by Paul Schrader directed and written by Bret Easton Ellis — makes only $30,100. That's quite a feat, making that little, with that many elements that might draw the curious. In the old days, something that bad would attract some so-bad-it's-good attention. I'm thinking that, these days, there's so much bad that we've become immune to the so-bad-it's-good effect. When's the last time anyone said "So bad it's good"?

My preliminary efforts to answer that question fixes on the February 10, 2011, the day "Friday," by Rebecca Black was uploaded to YouTube. You have to go to Rebecca Black's official YouTube page, here, and endure a commercial if you want to see the video that was originally uploaded and derided.

I suspect "So bad, it's good" isn't a viable concept anymore. I looked for the phrase in Wikipedia and got taken to a subsection of the article "Cult film." I note that the article at the first link to this blog posts says that IFC Films released the film, for which it paid "nothing," in the hope that it would become "a cult film." "So bad it's good" is one way films in the past have arrived at "cult" status. Wikipedia's analysis of the phenomenon reveals emergent skepticism:
Jacob deNobel states that films can be perceived as nonsensical or inept when audiences misunderstand avant-garde filmmaking or misinterpret parody. Films such as Rocky Horror can be misinterpreted as "weird for weirdness sake" by people unfamiliar with the cult films that it parodies. deNoble ultimately rejects the use of the label "so bad it's good" as mean-spirited and often misapplied. Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson has further argued that any film which succeeds in entertaining an audience is good regardless of irony. The rise of the Internet and on-demand films has led critics to question whether "so bad it's good" films have a future now that people have such diverse options in both availability and catalog, though fans eager to experience the worst films ever made can lead to lucrative showings for local theaters and merchandisers.
Maybe "So bad it's good" was never an accurate explanation of what was happening. Maybe somehow only the old "So bad it's good" stuff — like "Plan 9 From Outer Space" — is still amusing. But I do think it has something to do with all that crap on YouTube. There's so much bad that making it through badness is no longer a concept.

The trick now would be to make something actually good. But I suspect we've lost the knack for that too.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lauderdale Vet correctly notes that "So bad, it's good" was said frequently about last month's "Sharknado." My perception that the end had come was false. It's like that scene in a bad monster movie where you think the monster is dead, and — suddenly! — he attacks.

NYC stop-and-frisk practice violates rights, the federal judge rules, after a 2-month trial.

"Relying on a complex statistical analysis presented at trial, Judge Scheindlin found that the racial composition of a census tract played a role in predicting how many stops would occur."
She emphasized what she called the “human toll of unconstitutional stops,” noting that some of the plaintiffs testified that their encounters with the police left them feeling that they did not belong in certain areas of the cities. She characterized each stop as “a demeaning and humiliating experience.”...

While the [U.S.] Supreme Court has long recognized the right of police officers to briefly stop and investigate people who are behaving suspiciously, Judge Scheindlin found that the New York police had overstepped that authority. She found that officers were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop.

“Blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites,” she wrote.

August 11, 2013

"It was all bad, and it was bad because I lost the magic... You will never see it. No one will ever see it..."

"... because I am embarrassed at the poor work," said Jerry Lewis about his 1972 movie "The Day the Clown Cried," a drama about a clown forced to entertain children in a Nazi death camp. But there's a bit of video from it on YouTube now. Was it really so completely horrible? Even if it was in the end, a terrible idea — but wasn't it basically the idea in "Life Is Beautiful"? — can't we see it now, with the understanding that it was a mistake and extract the good and learn from the lesson about what badness is?
It ended with a notoriously cringe-inducing scene of cavorting clown Lewis leading the laughing kids into the gas chamber. Overcome by the grief of what he is being forced to do, he chooses to stay in the gas chamber with them as they are killed.
Let us see it. Of all the Nazi-related things to be ashamed of... maybe this excessive shame about bad art is shameful. Or is it the other way around... and more bad art should be destroyed before anyone can see it?

Who said...?

A series of quotes:
I never enjoyed working in a film.

In Europe, it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman - we make love with anyone we find attractive.

A country without bordellos is like a house without bathrooms.

The weak are more likely to make the strong weak than the strong are likely to make the weak strong.

If there is a supreme being, he's crazy.
Answer: here.

There's this one tree. It's really great....


"Yes, he admits again, he has a penchant for the morbid. But this does not mean that he bought the plot next to Oswald’s as a joke, or a piece of installation art, or anything of the kind. It’s personal. It’s about change. The fragility of life. Something."

"They're fast, they're quiet. They can disappear in an instant."

They = autistic children.
The tragic phenomenon goes by various names — wandering, elopement, bolting — and about half of autistic children are prone to it....

"Mother — crazy as she was — had an exquisite sensibility. She read nonstop."

"Loads of history, Russian and Chinese particularly, and art history. There was nothing else to do in that suckhole of a town."
You go outside, you run around, people throw dirt balls at you, you get your ass beat. But reading is socially accepted disassociation. You flip a switch and you’re not there anymore. It’s better than heroin. More effective and cheaper and legal.

People who didn’t live pre-Internet can’t grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. The only bookstores sold Bibles the size of coffee tables and dashboard Virgin Marys that glowed in the dark. I stopped in the middle of the SAT to memorize a poem, because I thought, This is a great work of art and I’ll never see it again.
That's a random excerpt from an interview with Mary Karr in The Paris Review, which I found via Andrew Sullivan who excerpts a completely different section about why and how Karr prays.

"For a refreshing summer escape, how about a place with five lakes whose names end in 'aaahh'?"

"Madison basks on an isthmus between two glacial lakes named Monona and Mendota. Three smaller lakes — Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa — ensure proximity to sparkling currents and refreshing breezes."
With August highs staying in the 70s most days, the town’s distinctive terraces are perfect for enjoying these liquid assets and Madison’s other open-air pleasures: local music, craft brews, farm-to-table food and outdoor art....
That's the beginning of a long article about Madison in the Dallas News.
At the hour when Texans dash from air-conditioned office to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned home, couples and children are twirling on Memorial Union Terrace’s lakefront promenade....
We've yet to leave town this summer and classes have been over since May 1st.