September 21, 2013

"The only thing I ever walked out of was ‘Dr. Doolittle’ with Eddie Murphy. It’s remarkable what I’ll sit through — it really is."

Said David Sedaris, in this article that collects his comments on his favorite movies. One is "Planet of the Apes," about which he said (making me laugh out loud):
Charlton Heston has been in that pod for however many years — a long time — and he’s got a cigar stub in his mouth. They land on this new planet, and he lights this cigar stub. They’re walking through the desert, and it looks like the entire planet is going to be like this — a horrible desert. Someone calls to him, and says, “Quick, come here!” and he throws the cigar butt on the ground. And I thought: if that’s your last cigar — and he’s got like a good two inches left — are you really going to throw it out just because someone called your name? I got so hung up on that. I thought about it for the rest of the movie. I couldn’t believe anyone had let that pass. If someone had said, “Come here!” and they were holding a box of cigars, I could understand him throwing it down. But they weren’t.

"Some witnesses said the gunmen had told Muslims to leave and said non-Muslims would be targeted."

BBC reports on the massacre in the upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya:
"They came and said: 'If you are Muslim, stand up. We've come to rescue you," said Elijah Lamau.

He said the Muslims left with their hands up, and then the gunmen shot two people.

The correspondent in Nairobi for the Economist, Daniel Howden told the BBC he spoke to one man with a Christian first name but a Muslim-sounding surname who managed to escape the attackers by putting his thumb over his first name on his ID.

Fly like an eagle.

"Hail, Hail to Old Purdue!/All hail to our old gold and black!"

"Hail, Hail to Old Purdue!/Our friendship may she never lack/Ever grateful, ever true...."

On a beautiful fall Saturday morning, here in Madison, Wisconsin, the UW marching band can be heard practicing, which includes practicing the opposing team's fight song, and Meade — who grew up in West Lafayette — provides the lyrics, about gold and black and friendship and gratefulness.

I ask Meade if it's okay for me to blog that and he says, "I think you've already done it," which makes me think I'm being accused of posting first and asking permission later, but he really means I've already blogged — in some past year — about his singing along with the UW marching band playing the Purdue song. I go looking into the archives, and find, first, a post from April 2008, which can't be right, because I didn't meet Meade until January 2009, and the post in question shows New York City, where I was living at the time. The post, called "Morning fog update," shows what was my view of Manhattan. Meade arrives in the comments:
Simon said: "How much are you going to miss this view when your year's up?"

Meade said: "Yes, and how much we will miss these morning fog... updates!"

Ann Althouse said: "Great trees in NYC right now, and I'm about to get a new lens, so look out. Also remember that dead rat on the sidewalk in NY?"
There's a gap in the conversation where a commenter expunged her own comments, but apparently she said something that referred (possibly disparagingly) to things that could be photographed in Madison. And Meade says:
Yes! A marching band playing "Hail Purdue!"

And a dead rodent.

With fantasy fog...

...Where the Wabash spreads its valley,
Filled with joy our voices raise...
I find the old dead rat post — "Things that exploded in Brooklyn Heights recently" — where there's a discussion of how to buy a light bulb in NYC and a couple of commenters who never comment here anymore are advising me about shops in town, and there's Meade:
I hate to risk spoiling a New York hardware store bonding moment for you good folks but back where I come from we have universities, seats of great learning -- where women (and a few unnecessary men) go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- and with no more brains than you have.... But! They have one thing you might not have! A Google!
I resist my future husband:
Thanks, Meade, but I actually have this other really odd halogen bulb to replace. I don't want to mail order it. I want to show it to some hardware store guy who will give me the right bulb.
Meanwhile, Meade responds to a commenter who said "Yes but do you have swarthy olive skinned counterm[e]n to flirt with attractive visiting professors. Telling her how she would light up when the proper bulb is inserted in her socket. So to speak." With the metaphor in play now, Meade writes:
"Yes but do you have..."

Even better. We have links. Lots of links. Links pointing to pages and pages of swarthy olive-skinned counter[people], if that's what you're into.

Disease-free links. Unambiguously gendered links.
("Unambiguously gendered links" refers to another commenter's wisecrack that some NY hardware store employee is "AC/DC.")
Organic free-range links. Links that would never even THINK of stalking fair-haired Professoras and trying to put their bulbs into sockets in which they don't belong. And links that, frankly, just don't have the nerve to ask, "'ey, YOU! Are you clickin' on me?"

Shy unassuming links just busy doing their jobs and quiet[l]y living their linky lives.
The other commenter says: "Yeah, but [can] you get a link drunk and walk her home and talk your way into her main frame?" And Meade says:
No, but if you give a link a nice slow neck rub, draw the link a sudsy warm bath, and serve up some browned baby-back ribs with a glass of Merlot, she just might let you take a look at what's on her laptop.

So to speak.
And here's a post from August 2009, the month we got married, noticing Meade's comments in a July 2008 thread:
Gee, I'm single now, happily single, and thought I'd just remain that way.

But considering all the benefits, I guess I'd really be a fool not to take a close look if Althouse were to, just out of niceness, propose to pity-marry me.

What could I offer in return? Let's see - I could prune those redbuds, take out the garbage, trap squirrels....

I could fetch her newspaper, scrape snow and ice off her car, shovel the front walk. Draw her bath. Pick her up at the airport. Rinse and dry her wine glasses. Form a circle-of-safety to protect her from Hillary Clinton-type madwomen who randomly come up to innocent people on urban sidewalks and punch them in the back. I make excellent salads, grill superb steaks and vegetables. Play a piano sonata. Pick up dry cleaning. Wait patiently while she shops for shoes....
Fry up some bacon... provide the vocal track when the UW marching band plays the Purdue fight song....

ADDED: Meade reads this post and admires his selection — back in April 2008 — of the Purdue song lyric "Where the Wabash spreads its valley/Filled with joy our voices raise." Subtly erotic, he observes now. Less than a year later, I would meet him in that Wabash valley....

"A Florida woman who became famous for her uncontrollable hiccupping has been found guilty of first-degree murder."

"Under Florida law, someone who participates in a robbery that leads to a death can still be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole."
Earlier this week, the court heard a recording of the phone conversation she had with her mother hours after her arrest.

'I didn't kill nobody,' Mee said. '…I set everything up. It all went wrong, Mom. It [expletive] just went downhill after everything happened, Mom.'

September 20, 2013

When the US Air Force nearly nuked North Carolina.

This happened in 1961, according to a long-secret document published today:
[T]wo Mark 39 hydrogen bombs... fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York city – putting millions of lives at risk.
I'd never heard about that incident until just now. That happened when I was 10, and I lived in northern Delaware, within that fallout zone.

"Faced with rising student debt and declining applications to law schools, a task force of the American Bar Association is calling for sweeping changes in legal education..."

"... including training people without law degrees to provide limited legal services and opening the bar to those who have not completed four years of college and three years of law school."


If you've got some shopping to do and want to show some appreciation for this blog, please consider going into Amazon through the Althouse portal.

Here's something we just bought: a kettle that's especially good for making "pour over" coffee. And a Chemex pot, though I'm still devoted to the old AeroPress.

"A teetotalling Texan whose family thought he was addicted to booze was in fact suffering from a rare disease..."

"... where his stomach turns the food he eats into beer."
Too much brewer's yeast in the 61-year-old's gut meant that whenever he ate starch, it sparked a chemical reaction leading to fermentation....

"He would get drunk out of the blue," said Barbara Cordell, dean of nursing at Panola College in Texas. "On a Sunday morning after being at church, or really, just any time. His wife was so dismayed about it that she even bought a Breathalyzer."

"We've all heard the 'elections have consequences' adage many times, but let's be clear about what we're witnessing in 2013..."

"... Republicans are very clearly telling the country, 'No, actually, elections don't have consequences. We're still going to do as we please.'"

So writes Steve Benen at Maddow blog, and I just have to ask him how is it that these terrible Republicans are able to tell us these things? Seems to me they got elected.

Benen ends with a line that resonates with us the people of Wisconsin: "Democracies aren't supposed to work this way." Back in 2011, we had weeks of loud protests with chanting over a drumbeat: "This is what democracy looks like." And those were Democrats who'd lost the 2010 elections. They were making all the noise they could because they didn't have the votes in the legislature, and yet they still shouted all day and night that what they wanted was democracy. The idea — to the extent that it made any sense — was that the minority opinion also matters and free expression and dissent are part of the process, adding friction and restraint to the imposition of the will of the majority.

But in Congress, there are members who form a majority in one house and a sizable minority in the other. These people were elected, and we have a system of separated powers that was designed to slow things down, force deliberation, and prevent the abuse of power.

There was a time when Obama said "I won." It was arrogant back then, and in a democracy, that kind of arrogance invites comeuppance.

"Reality TV constructs its quite openly fake reality in order to elicit emotional responses in the audience..."

"... so what’s the point of watching crazy people melt down and then get shown the door? Especially when no one will have the nerve to say to him, 'I’m glad you’re leaving. You shouldn’t be here and you made things hell for the rest of us,' instead of the half-assed and completely unbelievable nicey-nice being made at the end?"

A montage of last moments.

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Isn't it odd that the most iconic last moment is the image of a fetus in "2001," from 1968? Like it's the ultimate profundity, 5 years before Roe v. Wade. How did that happen? A strange cultural convergence, possibly more mysterious than "2001." What was going on with that big baby? Wikipedia says:
Stanley Kubrick originally intended that when the film does its famous match-cut from prehistoric bone-weapon to orbiting satellite that the latter and the 3 additional satellites seen would be established as orbiting nuclear weapons by a voice-over narrator talking about nuclear stalemate. Further, Kubrick intended that the Star Child at the end of the film would detonate the weapons at the end of the film. Over time, Kubrick decided that this would create too many associations with his previous film Dr. Strangelove and he decided not to make it so obvious that they were “war machines.” 
That's news to me. I thought the big baby was supposed to be uplifting. That throws a different light on my abortion question!

Please don't let this issue overshadow the montage, which is excellent and worth watching for all sorts of interesting and interestingly similar shots.

"How I’ve wished, over the years, I’d never told anyone about that poke in the butt."

A sentence in "The Girl," the authorship of which is credited to Samantha Geimer, whom Roman Polanski raped in 1977, and Lawrence Silver, who is Geimer's lawyer, and someone named Judith Newman, to whom the NYT book reviewer Lisa Schwarzbaum attributes the book's "lively, pugnacious narrative voice."

Schwarzbaum says the book is "a feisty, almost jaunty you’re-not-the-boss-of-me account" and "autobiography as a feminist tactic for Geimer to own her sexuality," because — I guess — that's what the lawyer and the pugnacious-narrative-voice provider figured would be the best approach to selling a graphic tale of the poke in the butt anal rape of a child.

Unfathomably, Schwarzbaum goes for a comic tone: "And wasn’t that what second-wave feminists fought for: our butts, ourselves?"

"In Venezuela, 17 women have died in the past 12 months as a result of liquid silicone buttock injections."

"The procedure, which according to Jesus Pereira, the president of the Veneuzelan Plastic Surgeons Association, an estimated 30 percent of Venezuelan women aged 18 to 50 have undergone, attempts to achieve a figure thought to be more attractive to Venezuelan men...."
These injections are the latest in a long list of extreme beauty procedures in this beauty-obsessed country. Other extreme self-improvement methods include fasting pacts among friends, vomit-inducing syrup, and most recently the sewing of a plastic patch onto the tongue, which renders the consumption of solid food extremely painful....
Enough about the buttocks. Let's take a look at that tongue.
Launched in 2009 by Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Nikolas Chugay, the patch is secured to the tongue with six stitches in a $2,000 procedure that takes just ten minutes.
As one patient said: 'It hurt... I'm like, Christ it does work, I can't eat!"

You know, you could save yourself a lot of pain and $2,000 if you just went on a liquid diet, which you still have to do along with the pain and $2,000.

On the other hand, it's less of an intrusion and expenditure than the stomach surgery people submit to, so there's that. And how about those Venezuelan women and the things they do to be more attractive to Venezuelan men?

"I hope Sicari wins his case, but if he loses, I hope he dumps his day job and lets us hear all the lawyer jokes he's been keeping to himself..."

"... in his effort to avoid confusing the public and reflecting badly on the judiciary. If you're really good, Mr. Sicari, bust loose and confuse the hell out of us with all the bad reflections you've got."

Said I back in February. Today, I see that Vince Sicari has lost his case — he was a municipal judge and he lost at the state supreme court level — and he has quit.
Several justices questioned whether the public could separate Mr. Sicari’s position as a judge from roles he has played on the ABC hidden camera show “What Would You Do?” in which he has portrayed homophobic and racist characters. That quandary played a central role in the ruling on Thursday, as the justices noted that someone tuning into the show might not know that actors were used in the sketches. They applied the same standard for Mr. Sicari’s stand-up performances.

“In the course of his routines, Sicari has demeaned certain people based on national origin and religion and has revealed his political leanings,” according to the court’s opinion. “The court cannot ignore the distinct possibility that a person who has heard a routine founded on humor disparaging certain ethnic groups and religions will not be able to readily accept that the judge before whom he or she appears can maintain the objectivity and impartiality that must govern all municipal court proceedings.”
The judge was judged by judges who themselves have the burden of expectations that judges can never assume that their audience understands sarcasm and role playing and all the other wonderful dimensions of speech that remain open to people who are allowed to be free.

"House Republicans pushed through a stopgap spending bill Friday that would strip all funding for President Obama’s health care law..."

"... setting up another bitter fiscal showdown just 10 days before much of the federal government is set to run out of money."
The 230-to-189 vote set in motion a fiscal confrontation whose outcome is anything but clear....

Just one Republican crossed party lines to vote against the bill, Representative Scott Rigell of Virginia, who represents a very military dependent district and wants to end the sequestration spending cuts. The only Democrats to vote in favor were Representatives Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina.

"I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of 'female machismo,' because a woman has a different make-up than a man."

"But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo," said Pope Francis.
Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church.
This is guarded and abstruse. The key word seems to be "function," as if it's all about the usefulness of women. Obviously, he's not talking about formal equality. If he's a feminist, he's a difference feminist. A lot of deep thinking is needed about what women are for.

What is woman's place, her specific place in those places of the various areas?

"[K]ids who came to their maturity during the 'Age of Fail,' whose formative experience of American exceptionalism is that America is exceptionally crappy, are pissed..."

"... and are willing to work hard for politicians who are willing to do something about it." If we assume that — as The Nation's Rick Perlstein does in "Is Peter Beinart Right About a ‘New New Left’?" — then...
... another scenario looks like this: young citizens motivated by left-leaning passions run into a brick wall again and again and again trying to turn their convictions into power. The defining story of our next political era becomes not a New New Left but a corrosive disillusionment that drives the country into ever deeper sloughs of apathy.

What if, in other words, the harbinger election didn’t take place in New York...
Beinart had been talking about Bill de Blasio...
... but in Colorado—where a hyper-ideological, insurrectionist, corporate-money-soaked minority... recalled two progressive legislatures for daring to favor background checks for gun purchases even though Coloradans want background checks by a margin of 68 to 27 percent.

Beinart wants to think big. So let’s think big. Given a precedent like that, the result of our current trends might not be more socialism, but once more a stark showdown between socialism and barbarism. Apathy and social misery might make fertile ground for some charismatic demagogue, preaching scapegoating and a narrative of violent redemption…
You say you want a revolution... but what if the revolutionaries are on the other side?

"The Calling of St. Matthew" — the Caravaggio painting often contemplated by Pope Francis.

"That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew."

"It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff." Then the pope whispers in Latin: "I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance."


If I were recording one of those Bloggingheads diavlogs this morning, what would you like to hear me talk about?

The "utterly, terminally square" Jonathan Franzen called out "the cool kids" for their "vapidity and cowardice"...

... and they could "smell that kind of healthy self-doubt," and free of "the slightest fear that he will reply," attacked.
So what I think is that Franzen really ought to just come online and talk with everybody. Let some of us have it, too, if he thinks we deserve it. If he believes that Americans could be doing a better job politically, or as artists or intellectuals or students or teachers, the Internet is the place for making that case now. Yes, there are many bad things about the Internet, but serious criticism is alive and well there. Or here, rather. There are thousands upon thousands of passionate constituencies online—political, social, literary—many of them eager for the participation of as many principled, serious artists as care to come out and talk. Come on in, Mr. Franzen! The water’s fine. 
Actually, he is in. Everyone read that thing he wrote on the internet. He chose a position on the internet from which to speak. You're just saying that you want him to engage and get all interactive with the individuals who are punching up at him. That's their game. That's the position they chose.

Ironically, that come-on-join-the-internet piece I've quoted above is in The New Yorker.

I read it on the internet.

There. Or here, rather.

ACLU challenges the rejection of this ad by the Portland airport.

"The ACLU has no position on forest practices, but an important part of our mission is to prevent government censorship of expression... The Port of Portland refuses to allow advertising they conclude is too controversial or political and that is exactly the type of content-based restriction our constitutional free speech protections are designed to prevent."

"When the government is so clearly failing to act on climate change... it's not surprising that the level of doubt about climate change has risen."

A cogent insight — by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett — into a UK poll that shows disbelief in climate change has spiked 400% in the last 8 years.

Obviously, Bennett means to shame the government for failing to act on climate change, but the failure to act is evidence that the people rationally take into account. Failure to act like it's an emergency is circumstantial evidence that there is no emergency, and it can be more persuasive than assertions that there is an emergency.

If someone says that house is on fire but doesn't leave the house, we tend to doubt that the house is on fire and wonder why that person is trying to get us to leave the house. For years, people have looked at the disconnect between Al Gore's lectures about our profligate burning of fossil fuel and seen his extravagant indulgence in power consumption. What going on?

And yet, while Al Gore could institute a rigorous green policy for himself, governments can't do drastic things without strong support from people. There's a terrible bind. The less government does, the more people think that nothing needs to be done. After a while, it's not only the failure to act as evidence of that the alarmist doesn't believe his own alarm. It's also the unfolding of reality without having taken precautions.

"If you like shopping and coats go outside and yell yes right now. We will listen for you."

From "The 20 Best Tweets From the Burlington Coat Factory Weird Twitter Account," except that after New York Magazine published this, the Burlington Coat Factory issued a statement saying this was not actually their real Twitter account, even though this was the account they were linking at their website, and...
If it had been their real Twitter feed, it would have represented a tremendous step forward in avant-garde corporate #branding. Think about it, Burlington.
Let's all think about it. If it were avant-garde corporate #branding, would denial — once all the squares started looking — be an element? (And perhaps denial of the denial, since the link to Burlington's "clarification" takes you to a "Sorry, this page isn't available" at Facebook.)

Who knows what's real and what's fake anymore, but it is getting hot in here, so cool down with a new coat or jacket.

September 19, 2013

Public masturbation okay in Sweden as long as you're not looking at anybody in particular?

The TIME headline is pretty deceptive. The court threw out a "sexual assault" charge. It might still be "disorderly conduct."

WaPo's Fact Checker gives Obama 4 "Pinocchios."

For the statement, made yesterday: "You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt."

"The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."

Said Pope Francis.
The new pope’s words are likely to have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities. These teachings are “clear” to him as “a son of the church,” he said, but they have to be taught in a larger context. “The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives."...

In contrast to Benedict, who sometimes envisioned a smaller but purer church — a “faithful fragment” — Francis envisions the church as a big tent.

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” he said. “We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity.”
Interesting to picture the smallness as protecting not purity but mediocrity.

We also learn that the Pope's favorite movie is “La Strada.”

"There is a sharp, mildly enraging profile of clothing designer and retailer Eileen Fisher in the style issue of The New Yorker this week."

Notes DoubleX blogger Jessica Grose:
The writer Janet Malcolm, concealing a shiv in her “interestingly plain” Eileen Fisher duds, paints Fisher as frustratingly meek, and her business style as passive aggressive. What’s the mildly enraging part? Fisher refers to this business approach as “feminine,” as if women leaders can’t be straightforward about their demands....

Malcolm sits in on a meeting at Fisher Headquarters (in my hipsturbia hometown, Irvington, New York), where the exclusively female workers speak in incomprehensible code about “facilitating leaders” and “delegation with transparency.” Then the meeting ends with the ringing of a bronze bell. “I ring a bell to remind us of timelessness,” one woman says. Then a gourd is passed around and each woman says something when she gets her hands on it, like, “I feel humbled and honored.”
Grose emphasizes the gender stereotyping (which includes joking that the male employees are all in the warehouse, as if everyone forgot, because it's against men, that sex discrimination is illegal). In addition to that, I find the religionish rituals creepy. It's awful — or maybe for some it's great — to have a job that feels like you're in a cult.

This reminds me of some of the comments on yesterday's post about the "Lean In" circles. For example, Deirdre Mundy wrote (using some stereotypes that I am noting, not endorsing):
Actually, "women supporting other women" often just acts as a new iteration of the classic "gossipy office clique." It's why I prefer to work in mostly male environments. The men are happy if everyone does their job and goes home. The women want to make it all about supportive relationships and bonding and over-analyzing every social interaction.

So, if you're an introverted woman who just wants to do a good job and who has a life outside of work... these circles of 'leaning in' are positively Dante-esque.

"A Texas court has overturned the conviction of former House majority leader Tom DeLay in a money-laundering case...."

Insufficient evidence. 

Naked man stuck in the duct of a Milwaukee animal hospital.

This link was sent to me by a "a long-time reader and occasional commenter" whose wife works there.  He emails:
She doesn't appear in any news stories, but reports hearing odd thumps from the other side of the building, and eventually the faint "help, help, help" cries from the skinny bail-jumping "art student" who'd been blocking air flow for 10 or 11 hours.  Not a pretty sight when he was removed from his confinement, I am told.
You work all day in unusually bad building air, and then you find out that what little air you've had was filtered through naked man.

Any ideas?

A reader tells me she's getting a message — just in the last couple days — from Trend Micro OfficeScan saying my URL — — is "a potential security risk."
Trend Micro OfficeScan has blocked this URL in keeping with network security policy....
Risk Level:    Dangerous
Details:    Verified fraud page or threat source
What's that about? I haven't changed anything in the code to this blog recently, just the usual blogging in the usual Blogger software. Seems pretty innocuous!

UPDATE: Commenters helped me out showing me where to click to submit a reclassification request, which I did on September 19th, and on September 24th, I received notice that Trend Micro had changed my blog's "safety rating" from "Dangerous" to "Safe" and my "Content Type" from "Disease Vector" to "Government / Legal." I still don't know what made them flag this blog in the first place, but whatever... it's fixed now. Thanks to all who helped.

"Without the sign, without the context, I definitely look like someone who is a bit insane."

"That’s how I thought of it, before I clicked to look at the hundreds of replies; I figured people were probably wondering why I would bring my typewriter to a park."

"In celebration of the 100th anniversary of ecologist John T. Curtis' birth on Sept. 20, 1913..."

"... we share some moments from a recent early morning spent exploring Curtis Prairie at the UW-Madison Arboretum."

Today is the 19th, of course, but the idea of the linked photo essay is to inspire you to plan to visit Curtis Prairie tomorrow. (There's also this on Saturday.)

For old posts of mine featuring Curtis Prairie, see "A prairie walk" and "A prairie reverie."


"One of the first teams of heavily armed police to respond to Monday's shooting in Washington DC was ordered to stand down by superiors."

BBC reports.

McCain attacks Putin in Pravda.

But it's the wrong Pravda!mc

"The Financial Times Wrote a Tina Brown Puff Piece."

"We've Annotated It."

"A century of complaints about business jargon."

At the beginning of the 20th century, people complained about “stop in,” “deliver the goods,” “win out,” “the straight dope,” “make good,” “get away with it,” “put one over,” “show down,” “come across,” “get wise,” “on the level,” “bawl him out,” “got his number,” “get his goat,” “get warm around the collar,” “hit the ceiling,” “fall for it,” and “get busy.”

All that seems so disconnected from business these days as we carp about "impactful," "going forward," "low-hanging fruit," and "at the end of the day."

Why blame business people? Maybe because we just don't like them too much anyway.

"Prepare your Emmys haterade now, because nothing can kill an awards show's buzz faster than..."

"... a Don Cheadle self-congratulatory tribute to how well television covered the Kennedy assassination, followed by a Carrie Underwood tribute to the Beatles' performance on the Ed Sullivan Show having been fifty years ago (next year)."

"An average moose yields about 700 pounds of lean meat when recovered from a crash."

"Even if the crash is bloody and causes clotting, about 300-400 pounds of burger meat can be salvaged. Many churches, food banks and non-profits are on a call list. When a moose fatality is reported, they call folks on the list and are given an hour or so to harvest the meat. Folks consider it a privilege when it’s their turn on the list."


The tree farm...

... looks like carpet.

"Lehman Brothers failed 5 years ago, and the statute of limitations for most federal crimes is 5 years..."

"... so the retrospectives are full of recountings of the fact that no one important has been prosecuted over what happened...."
If you could convict Ken Lay over things his subordinates did and his own "we won't stop trying to save this company and I'm confident we will succeed" statements, it's pretty surprising that not a single banking CEO has faced a similar fate. 

But no jail time doesn't mean nothing... the government is looking to civil, rather than criminal penalties....

Inspired by Buddhist monks, a Brooklyn restaurant enforces total silence for a 90-minute organic, locavore dinner.

"Nicholas Nauman, Eat’s 28-year-old managing chef and events planner, said he was inspired to hosts the meals by silent breakfasts he enjoyed at a monastery in the Indian Buddhist pilgrimage city of Bodh Gaya."
Punishment for talking was having one’s plate... removed and placed on a bench outside, where loudmouths could finish their meals....

"Was Beethoven’s Metronome Wrong?"

It's long been suspected, based on his weird tempo markings.
[M]usic historian Peter Stadlen has actually located Beethoven’s metronome....

"Once there was a fight in the classroom, it was just you and that person who had a fight; now on social media, it’s 500,000 people looking at this fight."

"Why are you creating a unit to incriminate and criminalize what they’re doing and lock them up?"

A criticism — by the founder of an organization that works with teenagers — of the NYC police strategy dealing with gangs:
The strategy seeks to exploit the online postings of suspected members and their digital connections to build criminal conspiracy cases against whole groups that might otherwise take years of painstaking undercover work to penetrate. Facebook, officers like to say now, is the most reliable informer.

"In the morning I grab the clothes that smell cleanest out of the pile of 'clean' clothes on my floor to wear that day…"

"Would you say this is an acceptable way to approach fashion?"

Question asked in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" of fashion critic Robin Givhan. I consider it a rhetorical question, but she did answer it. No, of course, is the obviously right answer, but it's also obviously wrong, since to answer it is to misinterpret it. And yet, if you submit to "Ask Me Anything," aren't you implicitly offering to answer everything? A clever way out would be to say: I said you can ask me anything, but I don't believe you are asking me anything.

"The rhetorical question is... any question asked for a purpose other than to obtain the information the question asks."

Here's a nonrhetorical question: For what purpose did the above-quoted man ask his question?

September 18, 2013

Is this the "Most Depressing Brain Finding Ever"?

Ironically, the author of this article lets emotion distort his thinking on the subject of the way emotion distorts thinking. He's looking at an experiment where people were asked "to interpret a table of numbers." When the numbers related to an issue they had opinions about (gun control), they made more mistakes than when the subject was neutral. They tended to err in the direction of supporting the beliefs they already had.

But emotion is part of reasoning, and it's impossible to function in the real-world lives we live without jumping steps intuitively. When you think you already know the answer, you don't study the details so much. That makes it harder to get to people with new information or to readjust biases, but it's not depressing. It's the normal functioning of the mind, and it's exactly what one would expect. We don't rebuild our understanding from ground level every time we think about a familiar topic. We'd never get as far as we do putting ideas together if we had to stop and scrutinize and recheck every element of what we believe and what we think we know.

Of course, it's important also to be able to slow down and get critical, but we have individual autonomy about when to do that, and a study that tells people to do a particular math problem does not unleash the individual will. It's an imposition of authority from the outside, and it comes with no intrinsic reason to be precise. So people take the shortcuts they think they know, and they make mistakes.

For the annals of religion and violence: Did Buddhism inspire Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter?

WaPo has an article with the headline "Buddist community ponders apparent link between their faith and Navy Yard shooter." (Ponder that egregious spelling error.)
“As Buddhism has spread in the West, it has put forth and maintained an image of being a peaceful religion,” Buddhist ethicist Justin Whitaker, author of the American Buddhist Perspective blog, wrote Tuesday. “This is a myth.”

Buddhism can seem particularly appealing to “mentally unbalanced people seeking to right the ship of their lives, to self-medicate, to curb their impulses, or to give them a firmer grip on reality,” Clark Strand, a contributing editor to the Buddhist publication Tricycle magazine and a former Zen monk, said in an interview....

Are there particular issues for people who delve deeply into meditation but may not have a strong or well-developed connection to Buddhism’s history and theology?

“Meditation alone may have no effect whatsoever on one’s morals and hence overall life,” Whitaker wrote in the blog post. “And it might also, as many people find out early in the process, actually open up deeper layers of pain, anger, and guilt that have been effectively repressed.”
What Whitaker and Strand are not saying is that meditation could exacerbate the problems of someone with mental illness. We're talking about sitting silently within one's own mind, cutting off interaction with others and connections to the concrete world. If that meditating mind is irrational and disordered, why would the result be "a firmer grip on reality"?

"Is string theory right?/Is it just fantasy?/Caught in the landscape/Out of touch with reality..."

"Tim Blais, a physics graduate student at McGill University, performs an a-capella version of his masters thesis to the tune of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody."

"Imagine working in an office that looks like a spaceship, or perhaps one that’s part rainforest."

"Just think of the ideas you could come up with while lying in a bathtub filled with foam, staring at dreamy-looking fish tanks."

Politico writers offer suggestions for how Obama can "comfort himself" as he's beset by "the Washington echo chamber."

As if mainstream journalists have been so unfairly cruel to the man, they've got a list of "what’s still right with Obama."
• His personality

... His smile remains dazzling...

• His normality

... a healthy ego, but ... longstanding ability to coolly assess his circumstances and then adapt...

• His enemies

... Ted Cruz....

• His party

... Democrats...

• His luck

... As president, Obama overruled pragmatic advisers like his then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who urged him to hold off on a health care overhaul. “I feel lucky,” he said at the time. “I think we can get it done.”

Months later, with public poll ratings for his proposal in the cellar, Emanuel asked the president if he was still feeling lucky. “My name is Barack Hussein Obama and I’m sitting here,” he said. “So, yeah, I’m feeling pretty lucky.”
I wonder where Obama would be right now if he'd listened to Rahm Emanuel and not coasted on his luck, his normality, and his personality as he let his party play him into making his whole presidency about health insurance. But yeah, there's always how awful the GOP is. Talk about that. That fiend, Ted Cruz!

"Leaning in" evolves into coffee-sipping wishful supportiveness.

Here's an article in the Wisconsin State Journal about how some women in Madison are "forming 'Lean In' circles to offer career support":
Madison yoga therapist Natalie Buster invited female colleagues to gather one morning in July to form a "circle" of support.

She chose Lazy Jane’s on Williamson Street for the meet-up because the breakfast spot is owned by a woman — Jane Capito. "It evolved into something more than I thought possible," Buster said. "We really got lost in each others’ stories and lost in each others’ connections."
It's nice to have friends and to go out for coffee and get lost in each others' stories and connections, but how is this "leaning in"?!

Oh, well... it "evolved."

Did it evolve into the realization that you don't really want to lean in?

If you can bear to keep reading you'll see that there's a Lean In Foundation where you can register your "Lean In" circle and there are actually 7,000 registered circles. This is all very nice for the Chief Leaner In Sheryl Sandberg, she of the book "Lean In." It's her branding. You want to get her branding on you? That furthers her leaning in, but what does it do for you — you, over there in that circle in a coffee shop getting lost in the evolving cross-currents of mutual support?
For Buster, who spent a dozen years as an actress in New York City before coming back to Wisconsin, the meeting at Lazy Jane’s exceeded expectations. Women who might be in competition with each other professionally should be able to improve each other as well, Buster said.

“I really want mentorship to happen,” Buster said. “I want cross-advocation and support of each other.”
That sounds like the opposite of leaning in. You're openly expressing aversion to competitiveness. It's more like hanging back. 

Trashing contempt for women with contempt for men.

I tried to read this WaPo column by Alexandria Petri called "Why doesn’t work for women." It's about how the male founder of a website for women has "ample contempt for the very market he was aiming at." I think Petri, aiming for the market he has contempt for, aims contempt at him. But she quickly dives into generic contempt for men, on the theory that men don't read "books," and by "books," Petri means novels, and somehow the general failure of men generally to read novels feeds back into the topic of why Bryan Goldberg's Bustle sucks.

Reading is one of the few sure-fire ways to become better at being human. So it’s a problem when anyone doesn’t do it — and an especial problem recently, when boys are increasingly slipping behind, at least compared to their female counterparts.
As of 2009, boys lagged 39 points behind girls, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment. One of the suggested reasons that boys aren’t reading is that unlike girls, who are somehow fonts of empathy capable of leaping from one perspective to another at a single bound, reading books from male or female perspectives with equal vigor and ease, boys can only be summoned to respond to the stories of other boys.
Who suggested this reason? No one's name is stuck to that stereotype, it's just a "suggested reason." Boys can't read because "books" are those fictional stories told from a perspective that can only be understood if one possesses empathy and that's something boys lack or Goldberg lacks or who the hell knows? It's just a theory out there, not a theory Petri herself admits to embracing as she wanders about trying to aim at that man who takes aim at women.

September 17, 2013

"Slamming doors, banging walls, bellowing strangers and whistling neighbors were the bane of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s existence."

"But it was only in later middle age, after he had moved with his beloved poodle to the commercial hub of Frankfurt, that his sense of being tortured by loud, often superfluous blasts of sound ripened into a philosophical diatribe. Then, around 1850, Schopenhauer pronounced noise to be the supreme archenemy of any serious thinker."

Yeah, that poodle needs to simmer down. 

"Ooh! Interesting!"

What I said when I saw this collection of photographs of women in the post-op phase of plastic surgery.

You have to scroll to get to the 4th picture, which is NSFW, but that's the one that got me. Fascinating!

"I used to believe that public school open houses required little more than the obligatory clean shirt with buttons and a swipe of lip gloss."

Says Dahlia Lithwick in a piece titled "Parents Left Behind: How public school reforms are turning American parents into dummies."

That made me wonder: Did I miss a memo about buttons?

I get "clean," and obviously one's upper body must be clothed, but is there a thing about buttons? Do buttons mean something?!

Investigating "everyday sadists."

"In the study’s first experiment..."
Students who chose to be bug-killers were presented with three cups, each holding a live pill bug. To anthropomorphize the bugs, each was given a name: Muffin, Ike, or Tootsie. Bug-killers had to drop a bug into a modified coffee grinder, force the top down, and grind the bug up....

(... Though the machines emitted crunching sounds, the researchers said, “no bugs were harmed in the experiment.”)

During the execution of the assignment, some bug-killers quit after one or two. But some asked for more bugs....

"But no act of musical theft is quite as infamous as the one concerning Dave Van Ronk’s arrangement of 'House of the Rising Sun.'"

"Van Ronk, the inspiration behind the forthcoming Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewen Davis, took the grim and foreboding old weeper—about a young woman afraid she’ll spend the rest of her life in a whorehouse in New Orleans—and brilliantly made it his own."
Van Ronk recalled that after Bob Dylan had learned Dave’s version of “House of the Rising Sun,” Dylan approached him and asked if he could record it for his first album. Van Ronk replied, “I’d rather you not, I’m planning on recording it soon myself.” Dylan said “uh oh.” Van Ronk had to stop performing it because everyone accused him of getting it from Dylan. However, Dylan himself had to stop playing it when the Animals made a top hit out of it, and people accused him of getting it from them.
You can listen to Van Ronk's "House of the Rising Sun" at the link, and here's the big "Down In Washington Square" collection of Van Ronk's music that's coming out in conjunction with the movie.

Here's Dylan's version. And everyone knows the great Animals one.

"Naval Yard Gunman Is Said to Have Had Mental Ills for a Decade."

"[Aaron] Alexis, according to a report filed by an officer with the Newport Police Department in Rhode Island, was suffering from hallucinations so serious that he had called the police last month, a police official said."
Mr. Alexis told them that he had gotten into an argument with someone at an airport in Virginia. He said the person he had argued with “had sent three people to follow him and to keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations to his body” via a microwave machine, according to the police report.

Mr. Alexis had moved to three different hotels in a single night to elude strange voices and people he believed were sending the microwave vibrations. At a hotel at a nearby naval base, Mr. Alexis told the police that he had heard “voices speaking to him through the wall, flooring and ceiling,” Lt. Fitzgerald said.
ADDED: My God, can't we help these people? Even if only for the sake of their potential victims, we should help them, but aside from that: Help them!

Mystery photo of the day: Ann Arbor, 1956.

I'm 5 years old and delighted by an activity that my sister and that other girl don't seem to find all that exciting.

scrapbook 5_0034

What were we doing?

AND: Thanks for all the efforts at answering, but I'm not surprised no one could guess. There had been a storm and many big tree branches scattered about on the ground. To me, the 5 year old, this alone was an amazing new world. Somehow we got started stripping the bark off branches, and we marveled at the beauty of the bark-free branches. In the 5-year-old mind, this seemed like an important project that would be celebrated all over the world. We would be famous and beloved for our fabulous transformation of the branches!

"It's just chitchat, nonsense, nothing to discuss... They picked it out of their noses and smeared it on their pieces of paper."

How Vladimir Putin answer the question: "Some newspapers have reported that you are the wealthiest man in Europe. If that is so, what are the sources of your wealth?"

That question was asked in 2008, and I read it today in a new article, at Bloomberg, titled "Vladimir Putin, the Richest Man on Earth."

Putin's answer continued this way:
"I am the wealthiest man not just in Europe but in the whole world. I collect emotions, I am wealthy in that the people of Russia have twice entrusted me with the leadership of a great nation such as Russia -- I believe that is my greatest wealth."
I collect emotions... wow, he sounds dangerous.

When Vladimir Putin found his threel on Blueberry Heel...

... it was pretty surreal...

... and Goldie Hawn loved it.

Via Bloggingheads. That was uploaded to YouTube in 2010. Some fundraiser. When? I don't know. Maybe you can figure it out from the shiny happy faces of the various Hollywoodland creatures.

The camera fixes on Kevin Costner, chewing gum and head-bobbing, so... along with the centrality of Goldie, I'd guess 1996. But Putin didn't become president of Russia until 2000, so I'll say 2000.

By the way, do you know what singer put out the first recorded version of "Blueberry Hill"? It wasn't Fats Domino, whose hit came out in 1956. The original version is from 1940.

"Community organizers like President Barack Obama make great husbands."

Begins a Margaret Carlson column.
They listen before making decisions, never insist that it’s their way or the highway, and won’t leave the cap off the toothpaste tube. They consult on the big life stuff such as where to live, and they rarely draw red lines. When they do, they agonize over whether sending the children to bed without dessert sends the right message.

This must make Michelle Obama very happy; Americans, less and less. The president’s community-organizing skills don’t so much make him lead from behind as they make him lead this way and that (let’s bomb Syria; oh, dear, let’s not). He wants to please everyone, but in the real world, only one faction can be satisfied at a time, leaving everyone else very unsatisfied....
Is this Obama's problem, wanting to please everyone, wanting to give everyone their say?

And has it ever been established that the community organizer phase of Obama's life represented his true core, the real structure of his character, where his most basic attributes had the best fit?

Milwaukee Public Schools get rid of letter grades and stop giving credit for good behavior, extra assignments, and handing things in on time.

One parent says "I think (district administrators) want letter grades to go away because they want to blur the line of failing students," but:
Administrators say the changes capture a more nuanced picture of a student's academic progress.

"She has a bong in the shape of a penis."

"It was a birthday present, and is one of a few clues to her interior decor; the others being that she keeps fish and cockroaches ("Why u do not [sic] have any pet at home?")...."

#4 on a list of 10 things learned about Madonna via her "Ask Me Anything" stint on Reddit.

"It looks like Harvard women got the last laugh on Larry Summers."

"When Summers was president of Harvard, he got in trouble for suggesting that women like Liz Warren might be innately deficient in science and math. But I guess she has Larry’s number, because she just made her first kill. And it’s Larry. She may be only a fresh-faced senator, while he’s the genius economist and hugely powerful former Clinton Treasury secretary who was supposed to be Obama’s pick as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. But Liz objected, and took him out, making way for the Fed to promote current Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen, a girl. We hear Yellen is pretty good at math, too. Oh, it’s all too delicious for words. But it gets even better for Liz...."

Boys against girls... she just made her first kill.

Laughing and killing...

"No money for anything now - not even for women.... The day of Casanova is over."

"One woman only - and that's already too expensive."

"The good time's finished.... I'm an ex-Casanova."

Downsizing in Italy.

September 16, 2013

Mystery photo of the day.

scrapbook 5_0033

ADDED: This picture is from 1956, and I'm surprised commenters aren't finding it easy to tell which one is me. (Here's another picture from that day.)

Something In The Water (Does Not Compute).

That's a Prince song title.

It came to mind today in the context of the Chinese blogger, confessing his computer sins on government TV, including a blog post that wondered whether there were contraceptives in the water.

Meanwhile, in America, First Lady Michelle Obama has a new health campaign with the message "When you drink water, you Drink Up," encouraging people to drink "even just one more glass a day," even though there is no medical reason for pushing people to drink more water. (Drinking too much water could kill you, and normally, drinking in response to whatever thirst you have is all you're supposed to do, though the advice to drink water instead of other things is good for those who want to lose weight.)

And who can forget that the 2012 presidential campaign was — at least some of the time — seemingly all about getting free birth control coverage into Obamacare.

Must be something in the water they drink/It's been the same with every girl I've had/Must be something in the water they drink/Cuz why else would a woman wanna treat a man so bad?

If I were a blogger in China, this post would be a crime, but only if it were deemed a rumor and it was also viewed more than 5,000 or reposted more than 500 times. I could get a 3-year prison sentence, not because of what I wrote, but because of what other people did with it after I wrote it — reading it, retweeting it, and construing it.

One must take care either: 1. not to become too popular or viral, or 2. to write in a manner that deters the construction that this is a rumor.

I'll do anything 4 U, anything/Why don't U talk 2 me?/Tell me who U are/Don't do this 2 me....

"Walter Riedl...figured the only way to keep his wife safe was to give the gunman the keys to his truck and volunteer to become his hostage."

"The 69-year-old Riedl told Linda, his sweetheart since high school, not to cry, that everything was going to be OK...."
Driving Riedl’s 2004 GMC 2500HD pickup truck — a cattle trailer still attached with a cow inside of it — [James] Kruger drove erratically and acted irrationally as he sought to elude police, Riedl said. Opportunities to escape eluded him.

As they approached Dodgeville on Highway 18, he knew the city’s two traffic lights would give him a chance to jump out.

“First time in my life we got two green lights,” Riedl said.

Still, he never panicked...

"A Texas Christian University professor reached out in an e-mail to a group of students he deemed to be 'of color' to help them succeed in his class."

"But the move backfired with at least one student, who was insulted at being included for her perceived ethnicity."
The student said she doesn’t strongly identify as Hispanic, although her last name is of Hispanic origin and she is one-quarter Hispanic.... The student said she wondered what her friends would think, and posted it on Facebook, with the tag: “I straight up just got segregated by my own teacher. I'm 75 [percent] white.”

One friend said: "Wait is this a joke? Your professor is trying to have a study session for 'students of color' only?"... Yet another wrote: "But what if ur Hispanic yet u have a white sounding last name. U get left out?" The student responded: "yeah that's kind of my point. he just judged me by my last name."...
The teacher subsequently emailed that it was his policy to "participate in and contribute to the [university's] mission by being available to all students." He says he has "always been open to having review sessions with an entire class or with smaller groups of students without excluding others" and: "I do like to offer myself as a resource to students (particularly those of color) who may face challenges and become discouraged..."

"Chinese state television on Sunday broadcast a startling video of a famous blogger in handcuffs, renouncing his Web posts..."

"... and saying how dangerous the Internet would be if left uncontrolled by the government."
“At first, I was careful and I didn’t write many posts,” [said Charles Xue — a Chinese American businessman and one of China’s most popular bloggers]. “But later, I posted more than 80 every day. . . . In the beginning, I verified every post. But later on, I no longer did that. All of a sudden you draw so much attention...How do you describe the feeling? Gorgeous.”...

In one [blog post], he wondered whether China’s water, whose quality is always in question, contained contraceptives.

“First of all, I didn’t double-check my facts,” Xue said. “Secondly, I didn’t raise constructive suggestions to solve the problem. Instead, I just simply spread these ideas emotionally.”...

[Under China's new laws, t]hose whose posts are deemed rumors and that have been viewed by more than 5,000 Internet users or reposted more than 500 times will be subject to prosecution and face a possible three-year prison sentence.

Xue praised the new laws Sunday. “It is very necessary to release these laws and regulations today,” he said in the video. “Without regulation, there’s no punishment for spreading the rumors.”...
Xue said that as his online following grew, so did his ego. He received invitations from universities and entrepreneurs. He felt like the “emperor of the Internet.” But, he said, in what may have been his biggest mistake, he felt that even leaders of China’s ruling Communist Party were not as powerful as he was. It’s not right for [popular bloggers] to behave higher than the law,” he said in a chastened tone. “If there is no moral standard or cost for slander, you can’t manage the Internet. And there are no limits. It becomes a big problem.”
This is important not only because of the suppression of free speech in China, but because of the light it sheds on our own ideas about controlling free speech. Xue is apparently under pressure, so anyone with any sense knows not to take these statements at face value but to read between the lines.

And yet taken literally, these statements sound like things many Americans say with sincerity, even though they are under no pressure at all and live in a culture with a tradition of free speech.

Notice the idea that writing on the internet is an addiction, a mental problem that ought to be disparaged. The blogger is an egotist, who pours out verbiage to further inflate his own grandiosity. This isn't normal speech, but bad speech, and there's so much of it that what once might have been thought of as a "marketplace of ideas" is flooded with so much tainted merchandise that the government acts wisely to step in with consumer protection measures.

Pay attention to the arguments Americans make that lend themselves to the retort: You sound like Charles Xue on Chinese state television.

"A good hacker can get full access to in a couple of days with the ability to do almost whatever he wants..."

"... such as push an announcement that Facebook shares have dropped 90% (which) could cause havoc on the stock exchange.... It is quite frightening when you think about it. I discovered these vulnerabilities in just 10 minutes with a Firefox browser without any special tools or software."

Let's talk about Drudge's depiction of Obama coming after us sexually.

The underlying story is about how the government is requiring all doctors to routinely ask patients: "Are you sexually active? If so, with one partner, multiple partners or same-sex partners?" They want complete records on these things, and I suppose they're hoping most people don't care about their privacy anymore.

But quite aside from that policy, what's with that picture of Obama? Is Drudge trying to make Obama look like a sexual predator? Are people accusing Drudge of racism yet? Maybe he's just trying to portray the Obama as desperately, insanely hungry for all your information. He's grasping at it with his clawing hand.

Back up a bit and look at the whole 3 columns. The other hand in view is Putin's, gently adjusting his mirrored sunglasses. We can see Obama's weird eyes — spying eyes — as he clumsily grabs for his own people's secrets, but Putin's eyes are hidden behind mirrored sunglasses, and he seems skillful and analytical as he peers into America's secrets.

Meanwhile, it's a "WOMAN'S WORLD: YELLEN SET TO CHAIR FED..." Yellen is looking more Putinesque, exhibiting a stern seriousness.

Look at the series of headlines under her. Surely subliminal messages are intended. Note: "END OF THE PUMP?" That goes to a story about the Fed's quantitative easing policy, but there's a sexual theme across the top of the 3 columns this morning, and with Putin intimidating us, Obama flailing and spying on us, and the dour Yellen leading us into a "Woman's World," the "end of the pump" inspires dread.

The end of sex... it's coming to get you.

"At least 10 people have been shot at the Washington Navy Yard and an active shooter is still on the base grounds in Southeast D.C."

"The Navy Yard is on lockdown and a 'shelter in place' order has been issued, the Navy says. About 3,000 people work in the building, the Navy says."

September 15, 2013

"I am as troubled by the use of the word 'woman' to describe the 18-year-old object, briefly, of a 53-year-old’s affections..."

"... as I am by the use of the word 'lover' to describe my 18-year-old self, in the context of that relationship."

Writes the 59-year-old Joyce Maynard on the occasion of a documentary movie about the now-dead J.D. Salinger.

IN THE COMMENTS: T J Sawyer said:
"His was a seduction played out with words and ideas..."

Sounds like Maynard is making a strong case for withdrawing the voting privilege from 18-year-olds. Or at least the distaff portion.

(Do I need to explicitly mention 2008 and 2012?)

"Matthew Shepard's murder in 1998 became a symbol of hate crime that helped to drive anti-hate crime legislation.'

"But 'what if nearly everything you thought you knew about Matthew Shepard’s murder was wrong?'"

IN THE COMMENTS: n.n linked to an item from 2004, "New Details Emerge in Matthew Shepard Murder," which was about an episode of "20/20," which I see that I blogged about this material at the time and said:
Justice demands that we think clearly about criminal responsibility and not let our minds be clouded by evocative stories that mesh with our assumptions about the world and our social policy aspirations. I believe the cause of gay rights is a very good one, and I also think that if the cause is good, truth should serve it. If you think your cause is so important that you must put it ahead of the truth, you are deeply confused.
Then I watched the episode "20/20" and thought it was a murky collection of "interviews with people who had plenty of reason to lie."
Now that the public's strong reaction to the original "gay panic" story is known, the two murderers have every motivation to say it wasn't like that at all. And the people of Laramie can't appreciate having their town associated with bigotry, so they too have a motivation to retell the story. I have no idea what is true here. Since the men weren't convicted of a "hate crime" and, in any event, they pleaded guilty, their convictions are sound whether their motivation was robbery or bigotry.
I haven't looked into the new articles enough to know how much more there is, but Andrew Sullivan is interviewing the author of what is a new book, "The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard."

Mystery photo of the day.

scrapbook 2_0007

IN THE COMMENTS: David looks ahead to the next photo in the series.

scrapbook 2_0006 - Version 2

ADDED: The top picture is November 1951, my parents' failed attempt to make a photograph that could be used in a Christmas card. (I've tweaked the very dark original to make the image reasonably visible.) The second picture is September 1951, at Niagara Falls. For reference: I was born in January 1951. The other child is my older sister.

"I don’t want to go to the cinema. Nothing would give me less pleasure.”

A quote from Peter Ackroyd, from the article we were talking about yesterday, which I saved for this separate post, because there was already too much going on in that other post, which concentrated on incredibly prolific writing and staunch aversion to travel. I'm delighted to read about someone who has such extreme versions of tendencies I have in what I'm forced to see as moderation.

As for movies, I've written about my resistance to going to the movies:

"Researchers long viewed infanticide and similar acts of maternal skulduggery as pathological, a result of the mother's being under extreme stress..."

".... it made little genetic sense for a mother to destroy her young, and maternal nurturing was assumed to be a hard-wired affair. More recently, scientists have accrued abundant evidence that 'bad' mothering is common in nature and that it is often a centerpiece of the reproductive game plan... [P]andas, for example, often practice  'a postnatal form of family planning, giving birth to what may be thought of as an heir and a spare, and then, when the heir fares well, walking away from the spare with nary a fare-thee-well.'"

From a CSM article titled "Baby elephant cries for 5 hours. Is Mom rejection unusual?"

"Obama plays 27 holes."

"After morning briefings on the crisis in Syria...."

6 ideas for Obama supporters on how to spin this:

1. Impressive to work on a Saturday, when most ordinary golfers head straight for the course.

2. 27! Wow! Most golfers poop out after 18 holes.

3. A round and a half. A circle followed by an elegant a semi-circle. Creative! Who but Obama thinks of such things? Brilliant!

4. Oh, how much new is there really on any given day about Syria? What difference at this point does it make?

5. Why do you think they call them "briefings"? They're brief.

6. You don't want to get into the weeds — in briefings as in golf. NOTE: You've got to be careful with the "weed" imagery. The mind drifts here, but the point is: Jimmy Carter micromanaged, and Obama is not like Carter.

"Women have sexualised themselves and made great art, which they may get flak for, but it's powerful."

"But if you sexualise yourself and you're not making art, you are just sexualising yourself. Everyone's embarrassed. It's not very good, is it? You're just pooping on yourself."

Said Tori Amos, somewhere into the answer to The Guardian's question "Do men age more easily?" and right after saying "I won't talk about Miley Cyrus at the VMAs."

It's an interesting chain of thought, no? Here's how I visualize the thoughts of Tori Amos, in 11 steps:

1. To ask "Do men age more easily?" is to ask whether aging is more difficult for women.

2. Miley Cyrus — who's very young, but used to be younger and who's trying to gain credibility as woman and not a kid anymore — showed some awful awkwardness with that sexy dressing and dancing.

3. Sexuality can work, since obviously I've used sexuality well in my artistic performances.

4. I'm not going to get sidetracked into talking about Miley like everybody else, the topic here should be me, and when I think of self-sexualizing, I want the subject to be me, and this interview is PR from my artistic work product.

5. The most graceful way to retrack onto me and my excellent use of sexuality is to speak in the abstract.

6. Women have sexualized themselves and made great art which they may get flak for, but it's powerful.

7. The key is to unleash the power of self-sexualizing only when you can arrive at great art, which is what I have done and Miley has failed at.

8. All these artists, including me, have a powerful effect on young girls, who want to be like us, and this is a problem that I have a responsibility to solve.

9. If your self-sexualizing doesn't produce art, then the product is you — your body out there in the real world.

10. The self-sexualized woman out there in the world — not on the stage within the trappings of art — is bad... is shit.

11. Oh, my dear fans, do not poop on yourselves!