October 5, 2013

At the River Sunset Café...


... talk all you want as the night falls.

"[T]he simultaneous attacks are bound to fuel accusations that the administration was eager for a showy victory."

Says the NYT, reporting on the U.S. military operations in Libya and Somalia today.
Officials said the timing of the two raids was coincidental...

But at a moment when President Obama’s popularity is flagging under the weight of his standoff with Congressional Republicans and his leadership criticized for his reversal in Syria, the simultaneous attacks are bound to fuel accusations that the administration was eager for a showy victory.

Indo Board/Yonanas.

Things we bought recently:

1. Indo Board Balance Trainer.
2. Dutch oven.
3. Yonanas.
4. Nano.

All links go to Amazon, where, by using those links, you can (without paying more) make a contribution to this blog. We like all those things, and here's the all-purpose portal to Amazon that supports this blog.

"The professorial dictum has always been to write what you know, but I say write what you don’t know and find something out."

Says T.C. Boyle, with this specific example of his approach to story writing. He'd heard of about an incident in which a man and his wife came home drunk after a party, and the man "crept back out, dressed all in black and donning a black ski mask... climb[ed] up the side of a cabin belonging to a single woman and peep[ed] through the second-story window."
Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for me) he was discovered and unmasked and the repercussions began to play themselves out. Now, I don’t know the people involved in that incident and I don’t want to know them. All I want, from that story or any other, is to hear a single resonant bar of truth or mystery or what-if-ness so I can hum it back and play a riff on it.
Key line: I don’t want to know them.

"You need to help me make the bed."/"You need to take me to the ball."

Did you like that? You need to answer in your king's voice.

The Pinocchio Lizard lives!

Once thought extinct, the Anolis proboscis was seen recently in Ecuador.

P-22, the cougar of Hollywood.

"By night, he cruises the chaparral-covered canyons, dining on mule deer, raccoon and coyote. By day, while tots ride the Travel Town train and hikers hit the trails, he hunkers down amid dense vegetation."

ADDED: This made me think of that "Six Feet Under" intro scene:

That startles me even when I know what's going to happen.

"An undercover NYPD detective, afraid of blowing his cover, watched a frothing motorcycle mob terrorize a defenseless Manhattan dad..."

"The off-duty officer was one of two detectives riding Sunday with the two-wheeled thugs who yanked Alexian Lien from his Range Rover and inflicted a beatdown near W. 178th St. in front of the driver’s family...."

"Superstitious rituals can really work..."

"... but it’s not magic, it’s psychology."

"'What happened today was not credible,' were the stunned and wooden words of Tom Clancy..."

A line on page 4 of the Martin Amis book "The Second Plane/September 11: Terror and Boredom," which I began rereading last night.

Tom Clancy died last Tuesday, and I did not blog about it, because I don't blog every obituary and because I've never read (or felt motivated to read) a Tom Clancy book. It doesn't mean anything — of course, I'm not superstitious — that I'd never taken an interest in Clancy and then I run into his name on the second page of the first essay in a book I happened to take down from the shelf for no apparent reason — was it on Tuesday?

I took the book off the shelf and immediately saw something I'd written inside the back cover. I didn't remember getting this idea, but I could recognize it as my own thinking and knew that something in the book had inspired me to think that. Because my graphomania extends to marginalia — as the first post on this blog attests — I'm able to find the place in the text that inspired the back-of-the-book notes.
"The lack of titles for the posts is strange. You should try doing that for a day or two now and see if it upsets anyone. You know, like the old studies of people walking around with blamk protest signs."

"Genepeeks... digitally combines the DNA of a client and a sperm donor to gauge the odds that a future baby would have various genetic disorders."

"Donors whose 'virtual children' consistently have a higher risk of inherited disorders will be removed so the prospective mother is left with the best matches — at least from a genetics standpoint."

What is wrong with that, as long as the service doesn't claim to be able to do anything more than it can do, which is, apparently, reducing some of the risk of heritable defects?

The usual bio-ethicists and other quasi-philosophers and busybodies weigh in and say things like: "It amounts to shopping for designer donors in an effort to produce designer babies... We believe the patent office made a serious mistake in allowing a patent that includes drop-down menus for which to choose a future child's traits. A project like this would also be ethically and socially treacherous."

They say things like that even though they would not say that female reproductive choice is generally an ethically and socially treacherous project. If women have the freedom and power to reject any partners they don't want and to use birth control and abortion to avert any pregnancy that doesn't align with their personal conception of what is worth doing, then we have an amazing new world, we've yet to perceive what it will be like over time, and we have no way to go back if the results of this "project" turn out badly.

Not all of us have committed to female reproductive autonomy, but it is, for the most part, the law and the dominant culture here in the United States. What is the basis for depriving women of these technological tools?

If women were truly free to select the genetic material to which to devote their reproductive efforts, we might end up, after a few generations, with a population of gangly giants, as all the ladies choose "tall" and "thin" on their drop-down menus. I do worry about that sometimes. 

How will this shutdown end?

A stalemate in a game that cannot end.

"Once the government reopens and we get the debt ceiling settled, we’ll be happy to talk to them about anything they want to talk about." (Reid.)

"This isn’t some damn game. All we want is to sit down and have a discussion." (Boehner.)

Okay, so it's not a game. But "game" is at least an apt metaphor. Or, no, it's not, because in games, where there is a true stalemate, a rule ends the game, and the players can stop playing. They don't continue to sit at the chessboard until someone concedes.

Talking and having a discussion is also a metaphor. The 2 parties in Congress are not a couple on a date that's turned into a staring contest. Or maybe Boehner is the woman endlessly imploring her man to talk about their relationship, and Reid is the taciturn man who's waiting for her to give up and do what the junior partner in a marriage is supposed to do: what he says.

Alternatively, Boehner is the man who relentlessly pursues his ex-girlfriend asking only for a chance to talk to her, and the woman — Reid — curtly informs him that there's nothing to talk about.

We instinctively turn away. And yet, the 2 sides are, it seems, waiting for Us the People to assign blame to one side or another. We're supposed to decide, and when we've conveyed our feelings, the party that anticipates losing in future elections will cave so our loathing for it doesn't grow any deeper.

But are we still watching? They need us to watch. It's their only way out. They're trying to make it interesting, with war monuments and children dying of cancer, but... look: gigantic hornets are killing the Chinese and Sandra Bullock is floating in outer space!

October 4, 2013

"In my mid-adolescence... I became obsessed with William F. Buckley."

"This makes more sense when you realize that we were living in Bible Belt farming country miles from civilization," said Malcolm Gladwell.
Buckley seemed impossibly exotic. We used to go into Toronto and prowl the used-book stores on Queen Street looking for rare first editions of “The Unmaking of a Mayor” and “God and Man at Yale.” To this day I know all the great Buckley lines. Upon coming to Canada for a speech, for example, he is asked at the border for the purpose of his visit:
Buckley: “I have come to rid Canada of the scourge of socialism.”

Guard: “How long do you intend to stay?”

Buckley: “24 hours.”
In southern Ontario farming country when I was growing up, we considered that kind of thing deeply hilarious.
Gladwell is doing an interview in the NYT, and the question was "Who was your literary hero [when you were young]?" I take it he told the truth when he said William F. Buckley, and then, thinking of the NYT reader, he quickly acknowledged how hard that would be to understand and went into that you-have-to-understand-this-was-Canada riff.

Alex Rodriguez sues Major League Baseball for "tortious interference" with his contracts and business dealings.

Rodriguez, facing a 211-game suspension, accuses MLB of buying the cooperation of Anthony Bosch (the head of the clinic in the doping scandal).

Today, at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, the law school presents a lecture by John Dean about Watergate, criminal law, and ethics.

That's later this afternoon. Meanwhile, here's a local media interview with Dean that engages him in some of the issues of the day. The interviewer Paul Fanlund invites Dean to attack today's Republicans with the prompt: "You wrote that book a few years ago and focused on politicians such as then-Vice President Cheney. But now the GOP looks ever more radical."

Dean says that 30% of Americans have a "personality trait" that some social psychologist he's talked to labels "authoritarianism," and that's now "the dominant force" driving Republican politics, which is why he and his friends — Dean lives in Beverly Hills — aren't Republicans anymore and also why Republicans are stuck with only 30% of the electorate. But Dean wonders "if the authoritarian people will ever get up to the 51 percent number because that would make a very different United States."

Unsuprisingly, Fanlund doesn't follow up with any questions about whether authoritarianism ever manifests itself in Democratic Party politics or whether some people with the authoritarian personality trait ever feel drawn into the hopes and dreams of left-liberal projects.

Fanlund's next question is a model of fawning and imprecision, the very opposite of what I'd want from a journalist: "You’ve done so much scholarship and have your first-hand experience. What do you think the future holds?"

Cory Booker surprised by the need to fight for that New Jersey Senate seat.

Politico observes, noting there's a debate today:
For Booker, it’s a chance to show he is engaged in the race, and not the celebrity candidate who’s off giving speeches at colleges, as Booker has, during the waning days of the campaign...

Working in Booker’s favor is the fact that the debate is on a Friday, in the middle of the day. It won’t be widely broadcast, meaning most voters will learn about it from the media. It minimizes the potential impact of any gaffe or slip-up....

The face of the cop, in the aftermath of the suicide by cop.

The cop looks into the death scene, into the car named — too aptly — Infiniti. In his arms is the baby of the woman the police shot. We are shielded by pixelation from having to see the expression on the baby's face.

"It's a shame. He took over management in 2008 and he turned the team around, getting into the playoffs..."

"... but they just can't win in the playoffs. That's very important. That's baseball. They say that about all kinds of things, but when a team does not advance, then it's management. I'm sad for Dusty, because I think this will be the end of his career. He had that heart attack last season, and he's 65 or 64, and now, if you'll excuse me, I have things I need to know, like 5 things I need to know about Jodie Foster's new girlfriend."

That's what Meade said when I requested a quote on the occasion of the Cincinnati Reds firing Dusty Baker. Meade, who moved to Madison from Cincinnati, has been a Reds fan since 1972, when the Reds were in the World Series and — Meade starts talking again — "they were just an exciting team. That was the beginning of The Big Red Machine. Probably what really drew me to them in 1972 was Pete Rose. I kind of hated him, but I was fascinated by him."

"So have you learned anything about Jodie Foster's new girlfriend?"

"Yeah, she's Ellen DeGeneres's old girlfriend...."

"Anything else?"

"She's tall, dark, and handsome."

"That might offend people. Is that in the article?"

"Yeah. No."

Living in compressed time with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"We live in an era of time compression," said Justice Kennedy. And "It’s simply stunning to me to see the changes in attitudes." He was talking about attitudes about sexual orientation.

At the same time — compressed time, presumably — he said that, in a "functioning democracy," courts should not be "resolv[ing] the most serious issues of the day."
"I just don’t think that a democracy is responsible if it doesn’t have a political, rational, respectful, decent discourse so it can solve these problems before they come to the court."
Attitudes are changing rapidly, and in a democracy, serious issues should be resolved outside of the courts. And yet he wrote the decision that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Why not wait for the democratic process to play out?

Maybe — in the mind of Anthony Kennedy — they did wait. DOMA was passed in 1996. They waited 17 years.

In compressed time, that's what? Half a century?

October 3, 2013


Do you enjoy the Althouse blog? Consider expressing your opinion by doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal. (If you start there and click around and don't leave before completing any purchase(s), you will be making a cost-free contribution to this blog, and I will notice and appreciate your gesture. Thanks in advance.)

ADDED: Consider this:
With Kevo, your Smartphone is now your key. No more fumbling for your keys. Keep your phone in your pocket or purse and just touch the lock to open.
I was locked out of my house yesterday!

"I am made of literature; I am nothing else and cannot be anything else."

"My penchant for portraying my dreamlike inner life has rendered everything else inconsequential; my life has atrophied terribly, and does not stop atrophying."

"Twitter pulled back the curtain on its $1 billion initial public offering, revealing that the social network is still unprofitable."

"In its first public financial statement, Twitter said it lost $79.4 million on $316.9 million in sales in 2012. The company is on track for an even steeper loss in 2013, but sales are also rapidly increasing."

Email from CNN.

I wonder whether Twitter is on the upswing or decline. Decline, apparently, if you look at losses. But what is happening with readers? I feel like there are a lot of people talking, but not necessarily because they have anything to say, and fewer people are really reading. I used to do Twitter, and occasionally I participate there, but I think it's mostly a place for celebrities to be followed, for journalists to be forced to show their faces, and for some interesting things relating to politics in places that are not the United States.

"After she ran him down, she gunned it, and she just went screaming down Pennsylvania Avenue."

"They were busy calling on their phones, on the radios. It was like poking a hornet nest. There were guys everywhere. I didn’t see anyone with their guns out, but they were sure busy."

What was this all about? The woman is dead. Will we never know?
A young child was found in the car, the authorities said. It was not clear whether the woman was armed when the authorities fired on her.

“We have no information that this is related to terrorism or is anything other than an isolated incident,” Chief Dine said.
Here's what I thought when I heard about it: There's all this heated rhetoric around the shutdown. That's American politics, and we have freedom of speech. But there are always human beings out of balance. They hear what they hear and who knows how it sounds to them? It feels like a war or like existential desperation. We can't shut up just because there are people out there with distorted thinking, but let's contemplate what it takes for those of us who are sane to behave with good character.

ADDED: To those in power, here's a word: demagoguery. Stop it. Let's see some maturity. 

At the Asphalt Chalk Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

(Your comment will not go up instantly. I need to approve comments, but free speech is encouraged in café posts. I would turn off the moderation function if I knew that the people I've specifically told never to comment again would refrain, but since I happen to know that they won't, this is how we must live now. Sorry to all who miss the old freedoms. I do too!)

ACTUALLY: I'm going to try non-moderation for a little while, starting now and only on today's posts. Let's see if this can work. Obviously, it's an invitation to the haters to drive this thing back into moderation, but if that happens, then the people who've been begging to get back to non-moderation will have had a chance to see what I'm dealing with here. Of course, that chance to see will be transitory, because the people I need to delete will be deleted soon enough.

"I like intelligent women. When you go out, it shouldn't be a staring contest."

Said Frank Sinatra. I found that quote because I was Googling to try to find out how intelligent Frank Sinatra was, a propos of yesterday's PR from the Farrow family that it's possible that Ronan Farrow came into existence because Mia Farrow continued — during her long relationship with Woody Allen — to have sex with the love of her life, her ex-husband, Frank Sinatra.

Ronan Farrow seems to be a young man of very high intelligence (since he started attending Yale Law School at age 15), so one naturally wonders about the relative intelligence of the 2 possible fathers.

What's Woody Allen's IQ? He once said "I've got a 150, 160 IQ," but that was as a character in a movie. "To Rome With Love." One might only guess that it's actually Woody Allen's IQ, but we know that he wrote the dialogue, and he was smart enough to write the dialogue, which had Judy Davis coming back with: "You're figuring it in Euros. In dollars, it's much less."

Chris Christie smiling.

This post is the first in a series, premised on my observation that the candidate with the best smile wins the presidency. I'm not certain that's true, at least not all the time, but it explains a lot, as long as you start in 1976, when a man won the presidency almost entirely because of a gigantic, toothy smile.

So what I'm doing is a Google image search on a presidential candidate's name along with the word "smiling," then picking the least smiley photograph that comes up. I'm starting with Chris Christie because the results made me laugh, and I had a hard time choosing between the photo above and this one:

A question for Democrats who are complaining about GOP obstructionists in Congress.

MadisonMan, in the comments here, says:
People in WI who supported the Capitol Disruptions back when Act 10 was passed should be reminded of that when they object to Republican instransigence on ACA. I don't see how the two points of view are any different.

This is what Democracy Looks Like, indeed.

I would love a Journolist to ask a Democratic Politician this very question when they complain about Republicans: Back in [2011], when Wisconsin Governor Walker passed anti-Union legislation, Democrats did everything they could to slow implementation. Did you think that was a good idea?
"This is what democracy looks like" was the most prominent of the chants chanted by the Wisconsin protesters in 2011, as they tried to stop the GOP agenda. In the 2010 elections in Wisconsin, the Democrats had not only lost the governorship, they'd lost both houses of the legislature. That is, they didn't even have the power base of one legislative chamber — as the GOP today has in Congress — and yet they believed that their cause was founded in democratic principles and they were willing to do everything they could to prevent the state government from proceeding to implement policies of the party that had decisively won the elections.

Bill de Blasio — with a 50 point lead in the polls — addresses that motorcycle mob attack.

I'd said that the attack would hurt the campaign of the Democrats' left-wing candidate for NYC mayor, so I'm interested in how the seemingly soft-on-crime de Blasio addresses the incident.

He said:
“We I believe are seeing a phenomenon with some of these motorcycle groups deciding to take over certain streets so they can perform their stunts, and disrupt traffic, slow traffic in the process, and it’s dangerous. It’s really dangerous... This confrontation is a byproduct of that, so we have to crack down on this. It’s not legal to disrupt traffic in a group, it’s not legal, obviously to take the law into their own hands as they appear to have done... This is simply not acceptable behavior."
But what are you going to do about it? It's easy to say "This is simply not acceptable behavior" about all manner of crimes, but then what. "Crack down." How?

As we're talking about Wisconsin politics and the politics of veterans memorials...

... Meade remembers the time I engaged in veterans memorial politics in Wisconsin.

AND: I remember Meade's defense of the Civil War monument which someone had defaced with the slogan "Workers of the World Unite."

"Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker isn’t having any of it."

Shutdown drama.

The feds leaned on Wisconsin to shut down state parks, including Devil's Lake! Walker said no, and evinced bipartisanship, blame-wise:
"I think blame can go around for everybody," Walker said. "The best way to resolve it? Look at what we did in Wisconsin. We had a $3.6 billion deficit; we now have more than a half-a-billion-dollar surplus. Every Wednesday — I did it this morning, before I came over here — I sit down with the legislative leaders and, you know, we figure out a way to solve the problems that face our state. We have an effective line of communication, and we get things done. I think not just in Wisconsin but in states across the country there's a lot of governors and lawmakers in both parties who wish the folks in Washington in both parties would act more like the states and less like our nation's capital."
Blame Washington. Don't get caught up in the game of shifting all the blame onto one party or another. That's a good position for anyone to take. (It's the way I feel.) It's also the right position for a  governor running for President, and it's especially effective here because it's backed up with specific accomplishments.

Of course, Wisconsin Democrats are outraged that Walker can portray himself as bipartisan, considering the uproar here in 2011, when the Democrats in the state senate fled to Illinois and holed up there for 3 weeks rather than lend their numbers to a quorum for the GOP majority.

"You lay one damn hand on one of those World War II vets at that memorial and I’ll bring half a million people to that damn memorial!"

"You got that?! I’m sitting here stewing thinking about this – playing these damn games? You’ll ignite a movement in this country like you’ve never seen before! The biker patriot army – veterans from all over the country, every single war and battle in this country, Republican, Democrat, Independent, whatever!"

Mark Levin gets attention flaunting a power to call down a biker army on Washington.

Oh! They came for the dogs! This is going to hurt.

First, they came for the WWII veterans.

Now, they've come for the dogs.
From Therapy Dogs To New Patients, Federal Shutdown Hits NIH.

[P]atients were told therapy dogs will no longer be able to come to visit them.

October 2, 2013

Eye contact might not work.

A study.
The students who looked at the speakers' eyes changed their attitudes less than the people who looked at the speakers' mouths. They also said they were less interested in hearing more about the views presented.

"Possibly" Mia Farrow's son by Woody Allen is actually the biological offspring of Frank Sinatra.

That's the late-breaking scoop in Vanity Fair.

Scroll down for a photo of the son, now called Ronan Farrow. He looks a lot like Mia, but does he look at all like either Frank Sinatra or Woody Allen? He's got blue eyes...
No DNA tests have been done. When Orth asks Nancy Sinatra Jr. about Ronan’s being treated as if he were a member of her family, Sinatra answers in an e-mail, “He is a big part of us, and we are blessed to have him in our lives.”
Why have no DNA tests been done? It's easier, in this case, to think of reasons why there would be denial of DNA tests that were done. Considering the severity of Ronan and Mia's rejection of Woody Allen, you'd think they'd love to be able to say, as a scientific fact, that Ronan is not Woody's son. And what delight in being about to claim Frank Sinatra as one's father!

I smell hooey.

UPDATE: "Listen, we’re all *possibly* Frank Sinatra’s son." And: "It’s an unusual thing to do with one’s mother..."

ADDED: I indulge in much more analysis here

The unintended "absurdity" theme.

After posting that last post, I saw I'd done 2 posts in a row with "absurdity" in the title. That more or less determines that I will at least do a Google "news" search on the word in an effort to make some sense of the coincidence. Perhaps everything is coming together today over absurdity.

I see there are over 3000 current news articles on congressional absurdity, and I decline to click on things like "The Double Absurdity of Ted Cruz's 'Filibuster.'" I also don't care about "The love for fantastic absurdity at the [Boston Symphony Orchestra]" or "The Sheer Absurdity of Favoring Eli Manning Over Peyton Manning."

But I'm motivated to click on "The absurdity of education" in the Saudi Gazette (comparing a British girls' school with 2 teachers and 8 students to a Saudi girls' school with 600 students and 50 teachers and no working bathrooms).

And then there's "2013 Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate absurdity and science," including:
Safety/Engineering Prize: The late Gustano Pizzo, for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers. The system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to Earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival. US Patent #3811643, Gustano A. Pizzo, anti-hijacking system for aircraft, May 1972.
Peace Prize: Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, and to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding. The audience was asked not to applaud and were given a demonstration of one-handed clapping.

"Like most artists, I paint because I have to; the paintings are lined up inside my head demanding to be realized."

"... My painting is informed by the nostalgia and even absurdity of the moment - the consciousness that all existence is flux."
"Consciousness in Flux, with Siamese Cat,"
also available in Tabby or Manx

Looking for "something original to say about the absurdity" of the budget standoff, Andrew Sullivan accuses Republicans of racism.

Racism isn't the only thing he accuses the GOP of in his effort at originality. He also says there's an effort to "nullify" the American system of government, the presidency, and the results of the last 2 elections:
Except this time, of course, we cannot deny that race too is an added factor to the fathomless sense of entitlement felt among the GOP far right. 
Cannot deny... fathomless... I find it hard to consume these overstated certainties. I would be amenable to a discussion of the idea that the emotional process of human thought inevitably includes a racial element. But by saying "this time" and pinning the racial "factor" only on Republicans, Sullivan shows that he doesn't want any subtle understanding of race. He's doing polemic. So I'm only going to shine a light on his accusation that the Republicans are racist:

I quit, because my boss only cared about quantity, not quality, and now this video has 8,532,328 views in 4 days.

Videographer dances her parting words to her boss, Via Metafilter, where people don't all appreciate the humor of her going after virality when she resented the boss's pursuit of virality. And:
I don't get it. I love a viral video as much as the next person, but neither the original nor the response was amusing or cute or interesting. She didn't do anything fantastically rebellious, or dish dirt, or anything. She just danced around the office a little -- we've all done that.
There's also the problem of appropriating someone else's music. And someone complains about her title for the video — "An Interpretive Dance For My Boss Set To Kanye West's Gone" — when "that is not interpretive dance/that is just bopping around."

Here's the above-referenced response from the company.

(Actually, the whole thing seems like a "subversive"-type ad for the company. Is it really that cute? And what's Kanye West going to do about it?)

ADDED: I've removed the embedded video, partly out of respect for Kanye West, but also because I've become convinced of what I was previously merely skeptical was the case: This is viral advertising.

"The Hawai'i Girls Court is one of the first courts in the United States built on a full range of gender-specific and strength-based programming with a caseload targeting female juvenile offenders."

"Its all-female (Presiding Judge, Probation Officers, Program Coordinator, Therapist, etc.) staff is a uniquely powerful aspect of the program."
Gender-specific programming seeks to recognize the fundamental differences between male and female juvenile offenders as well as their different pathways to delinquency and, in doing so, act efficiently, creatively, and innovatively to stem the quickly rising tide of female delinquency.

It is our intention that empowering and building on our girls’ strengths now will also stop them from becoming involved in the criminal justice system as adult women, appearing as victims in domestic abuse cases and restraining order proceedings, or as mother’s [sic] in child protective services later in their lives.

The Hawai'i Girls Court Program is proud to be a model for gender-responsive programming while also advancing a vision of appropriate and gender-responsive services for all of Hawai'i. The explicit goal of this laboratory court is to promote the empowerment of girls involved in the Hawai'i juvenile justice system as well as to pilot programs that may be of relevance to the wider community of girls in the islands. By catalyzing a change in values, collaborating and building coalitions, the Hawai'i Girls Court is successfully inspiring others to share a gender-responsive vision and commit to youth programs that work with the critical and underserved population of juvenile female offenders. The Hawai'i Girls Court works for Hawai'i’s girls.
That link was sent to me by a former student who notes that it sounds like one of the hypotheticals I use in class when I teach the VMI case. It's not the separateness of the treatment of girls that's the main problem here. It's whether what is done for the boys is equally good.

How "gender-responsive" — to use the much-repeated term — can government be? Can government properly "recognize... fundamental differences" between males and females? Notice that "Girls Court" is presented as a "model" for other programs and the state is claiming to have a "vision" and a "mission."

"What kind of uncultured cretin puts ice in scotch? Do you people all live in trailer parks?"

I am asked at last night's "Hand-Carved-Ice Café."

I answer: "This is actually a mixed drink with the ironic name 'Expensive Scotch'... so, I have to say that you are the one not keeping up with the culture. The concoction is an intentional and comical performance."


What the Republicans need is "a real conservative with a great personality, and those people are hard to come by."

So said Bernard Goldberg, perhaps not intending to insult Republicans (as people with a personality problem). Context:
Nobody articulates conservatism as clearly and passionately as Rush Limbaugh. He'd be the first to acknowledge that he couldn't win a national election. The true blue real conservative Republicans need to understand is that, despite what they think, most Americans don't think the way they do. They'll never elect a Dennis Kucinich on the left, and I don't believe they're gonna elect a Ted Cruz on the right. The only reason Barack Obama, who's more liberal than all of them, got elected, wasn't because of his politics, but because he created a cult of personality, and that's what the Republicans need, a real conservative with a great personality, and those people are hard to come by.
That's a very high standard of great personality: the Barack Obama standard. A personality upon which you can build a cult of personality. But the point is: America wants moderates, and they only deviate when bamboozled by someone with an over-the-top great personality. Such folk are hard to find, and it's a good thing too.

That was quoted on Rush Limbaugh's radio show yesterday — unsurprisingly. (Rush loves to play clips that call out his name._ Rush takes Goldberg to be saying Republicans — including and especially Rush — have off-putting personalities. Rush believes himself to have a great personality, and he also thinks — one of his most often-stated beliefs — that Americans do want a true conservative.
The reason I couldn't win is that I've been demonized. My reputation has been demonized and assaulted for 25 years.  And even had I chosen on each occasion to respond to it and to try to defend it, it wouldn't have mattered, because I woulda still been a lone wolf.  The truth of the matter here is, it's not conservatism that can't win.  It is that conservatism has been so ogre-ized and so demonized by an alliance of the Democrat Party and the media.

Jellyfish shut down the largest boiling-water nuclear reactor in the world.

In Sweden.

You'd think jellyfish would avoid boiling water, but they went in the cooling water intake pipes, and they would probably be killed by the filtration system. The spokesman said: "There will be no dinner of boiled jellyfish."

October 1, 2013

At the Hand-Carved-Ice Café...


... you can talk about anything you want. (But you have to wait for me to moderate your comments in, because that's the kind of place this has become.)

Somebody's crying for attention.

"The conservative activist who gained fame during the 2012 election for 'unskewing' polls favorable to Barack Obama explained this weekend his newest revelation: the president is 'actually' gay."

"The Supreme Court, returning from its summer recess, on Tuesday granted review of 8 new cases..."

SCOTUSblog reports. One case is a copyright dispute over the screenplay for Raging Bull (which came out in 1980).

For a moment there, I thought I'd failed to notice that the first Monday in October had come up again. (Why were there not a bunch of Supreme Court preview stories?) But it's not Monday. It's Tuesday, and the first day in October, so the first Monday is next Monday. The court is just back, amusingly enough on the first day of the federal government shutdown, which is all very abstruse.

"New York City Used To Be A Terrifying Place."

A photo essay, from last August about NYC in they pre-Giuliani years, which I ran across this afternoon as I was thinking about the electoral prospects of the left-Democrat mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio in the aftermath of Alexian Lien's motorpsycho nightmare.

Scroll down at the first link to find: "Bernhard Goetz, who shot four youths in a subway train in 1984, became a symbol for the paranoia New Yorkers felt about getting robbed or attacked."

Lien got me thinking about Goetz. Similarities and differences. Goetz had a gun and overreacted out of fear; Lien had a car and underreacted (at first). Arguably. Those are the differences.

The similarity is: A man embodies the plight of an ordinary citizen in a city gone wild. And mayors are held accountable.

Where are the calls for scissors, bottle, and bicycle-pump control?

"An emotionally disturbed man wielding scissors stabbed or slashed at least five people, including a father and his toddler, in a park along the Hudson River on Manhattan’s Upper West Side early Tuesday, according to the police."

Meanwhile, last Friday, in another Upper West Side park, "a man approached [a] woman as she was pushing her 8-month-old baby in a stroller. The attacker had a broken bottle and grabbed the woman but she fought back and hit him several times with a bicycle air pump, the police said. The mother and her child escaped unharmed. There has been no arrest in the case."

If you are a gun-control advocate, I know your response to my snark: No one died in either of these incidents. If the emotionally disturbed man had had a gun, the 5 victims might be dead, and if the mother with the stroller had had a gun the broken-bottle man might have died or if broken-bottle man had had a gun then she and the baby might have died.

Isn't this the city of your dreams — a kinder, gentler place where everyone is armed only with household objects, objects with manifold peaceful uses, and not those terrible guns, objects designed only to kill?

"One Video Encapsulates Everything Wrong With NYC Street Culture."

"Two banes of New York City streets — aggressive dirt bikers using the road as a personal racetrack, and SUV drivers using their vehicles as weapons — collide in this horrific video making the rounds today."
Yesterday at about 1:30 p.m., Alexian Lien, 33, was driving a Range Rover north on the West Side Highway near 125th Street with his wife and 5-month old daughter as passengers, according to reports in the Post and Daily News. About 20 seconds into the video, group of motorcycle and dirt bike riders surround the SUV in the center lane, and a motorbike rider appears to hit the brakes and get into a fender-bender with Lien’s vehicle.
You've seen the video. (Or if not, check it out.) We watched it here at Meadhouse this morning — my son Chris along with Meade and me — and we had some different interpretations of what we saw. I'm linking to StreetsBlog, above, but there are obviously more mainstream articles (like this in the NYT). My choice of link is based on my desire to get some perspective on what these bikers are doing. (I thought they had an intent to rob the guy in the expensive car, and they deliberately cut him off, and Meade saw it as bikers out for a big group ride who felt righteous and lost their minds to road rage after what was an accident.)

There are 77 comments at StreetsBlog, which seems to be a bicycle-oriented site where people are concerned about sharing the road. I'll cherry-pick some comments. Each paragraph break is a new commenter:

"While women from his own, white middle-class background, often saw him as an overawing presence, he was just another guy to African-American women and this was refreshing to him."

From a 2001 article about Bob Dylan's 6-month marriage to Carolyn Dennis, who bore him a child, his 6th child, named Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan. I got to that article after seeing this very unfairly titled Daily News article "Like a complete unknown — Unlikely that Bob Dylan will attend his daughter's wedding."

It's one of those same-sex marriages you've heard so much about. Desiree's partner is named Kayla Sampson.

How's that healthcare.gov website working out for you?

I heard it was hinky, but it looks great from here, not that I need to use it. I've had excellent health-care insurance for decades. (The relevant promise for me is: If you like what you have, you get to keep it.) But I went over to healthcare.gov to see if it's up and running, to click on various headings, and run a bunch of searches, and it looked great. The front page came up instantly, and every link I clicked and every search I ran went through instantly. There was nothing slow or unfinished-looking about it.

But Drudge's top headline right now is "OBAMACRASH":

That links to a Twitchy article with the headline "Surprise! Obamacare health insurance exchange websites don’t work; HealthCare.gov a total mess." At that top of that Twitchy page is this blackly comical banner:

The real nightmare for the anti-Obamacare crowd will be if Obamacare works well enough and people are reasonably satisfied. Myself, I'm tired of the drama.

ADDED: "In Debut, Affordable Care Web Site Baffles Many Users," according to the NYT.

"I have awakened to a shut-down government. Will I notice?"

A question from Big Mike this morning in last night's "café" post, which is still the top post on the blog as I drag myself in here muttering "Am I supposed to talk about the government shutdown?"

MadisonMan says he notices...
... because I work with noaa.gov people, and even have a noaa.gov email account. I'd check it to see if I have email, but that's apparently against the law today, or something.

I think the training I have scheduled for Thursday will likely be cancelled. I'm kinda curious how my big meeting next week will go if the shutdown is persistent.
I sense a shutdown vibe. They shutdown. We shutdown.

September 30, 2013

At the Dessert Café...



... dig in!

"49% of all people in the poll say that Obama is acting like a responsible adult in this budget battle, with 47% describing him as a spoiled child."

CNN did a poll and asked a question in this form: "Do you think Barack Obama has acted mostly like a responsible adult or mostly like a spoiled child during the recent debate over the federal budget?"
Responsible adult 49% Spoiled child 47% No opinion 5%
Same question, asked about Republicans in Congress:
Responsible adults 25% Spoiled children 69% No opinion 6%
Same question, asked about Democrats in Congress:
Responsible adults 35% Spoiled children 58% No opinion 7% 
Headline for the article reporting the poll: "CNN Poll: GOP would bear the brunt of shutdown blame."

What surprises me is how nearly everyone was willing to accept the push of the responsible adult/spoiled child dichotomy. And I wonder whether Democrats or Republicans were more likely to accept the invitation to think in those terms.

"Mrs. Hazan embraced simplicity, precision and balance in her cooking."

"She abhorred the overuse of garlic in much of what passed for Italian food in the United States, and would not suffer fools afraid of salt or the effort it took to find quality ingredients."
Her tomato sauce, enriched with only an onion, butter and salt, embodies her approach, but she has legions of devotees to other recipes, among them her classic Bolognese, pork braised in milk and her minestrone.
That sentence happens to name 4 of my favorite recipes in "The Classic Italian Cook Book," my favorite cookbook. Well-used since the 70s, that book lost its cover the 1990s, and in old age, it obligingly splays open to pages festively splattered with the sauces of suppers past.

Goodbye to Marcella Hazan. She was 89.

Charles Ferguson bails out of the planned documentary on on Hillary Clinton because "nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film."

"Not Democrats, not Republicans -- and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration."
Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away. I even sensed potential difficulty in licensing archival footage from CBN (Pat Robertson) and from Fox. After approaching well over a hundred people, only two persons who had ever dealt with Mrs. Clinton would agree to an on-camera interview, and I suspected that even they would back out.
The most stunning passage in Ferguson's essay is his description of a private conversation with Bill Clinton:
I asked him about the financial crisis. He paused and then became even more soulful, thoughtful, passionate, and articulate. And then he proceeded to tell me the most amazing lies I've heard in quite a while....
Read the whole thing, but let me summarize: Ferguson pegs the Clintons as wealthy folks protecting their financial interests and nostalgizes about the 1990s, when the Clintons "attempted courageous reforms: allowing gays to serve in the military, a carbon tax, health care reform."

I can see where Ferguson wanted to go with his documentary — Good Clintons/Bad Clintons — and it's clear why neither Republicans nor Democrats trusted him to lay down the storyline in the run-up to the 2016 election. The Republicans were averse to Hillary hagiography. The Democrats were afraid of framing Hillary as good when she's skews left and bad when she's supportive of business and finance.

Ferguson was pleased with the full control and final cut authority he had over his film. He must understand that the Clintons don't want to cede any of their control over Hillary's campaign.

"To Fix Education Look to the Past."

That's the headline at #1 on the Wall Street Journal's "Popular Now" list, and I guess those words are working better to win clicks than the actual title on the essay from last Saturday "Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results," which is framed around the story of a hardcore teacher from the 1960s, "a fierce Ukrainian immigrant named Jerry Kupchynsky."
Today, he'd be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated...
The teaser on the sidebar "Popular" list got me to click, but my hopes are dashed. It's nice to look at the past for sighs and nostalgia and exclamations of "You can't do that today," but you can't look to this past and see how to fix education.

The essay writer, Joanne Lipman, does try to extract some lessons — "A little pain is good for you," rote learning works, etc., — but she begins with predictable disclaimers:
Now I'm not calling for abuse; I'd be the first to complain if a teacher called my kids names. But the latest evidence backs up my modest proposal. 
(We're using "modest proposal" unsarcastically now?)

Lipman assures us that "Studies have now shown" that something she calls "conventional wisdom" — nurturing self-esteem and a joy in discovery of knowledge — is wrong.

Kupchynsky was a music teacher, and I don't know what went on in Ukraine that led to his ferocity and his relocation to a northern New Jersey high school, but he was off the norm even then. (I happen to be an authority on high school in northern New Jersey in the 1960s. I had 4 years of direct personal experience.)

Anyway, Lipman has a book to sell, about Kupchynsky, and maybe it will fire up the same crowd that got excited about "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" a couple years ago. Remember that? It was also about drilling youngsters into proficiency playing classical music.

But most of what kids need to learn isn't music performance, and those who get carried away thinking about strict music education ought to demonstrate their love of strictness by being stricter with themselves as they contemplate the effectiveness of different approaches to educating children. Consider whether there's something self-indulgent, sentimental, and even perverse in your dreams of fixing education by getting tough with children.

Did you instinctively resist my suggestion? Ah, you just took my tough test of whether you are serious about toughness.

And you failed!

Joe Biden emails me with the subject line: "Ann."

Man, this gets my "Big Government sounds like a creepy stalker" tag:

He just emailed me yesterday. Back off, Government Man!

And don't make me the bogus subject of your communication. This is not about me, but you think I'm so doggedly self-interested that I get jazzed up by email purporting to be about me?

"If you've been watching what's been happening here in Washington over the past couple of weeks..."

Well, I haven't. I've been averting my eyes.

"... and you still think you need more reasons to support Democrats over Republicans, I'm not sure what to tell you."

Yesterday's email was about how Biden "can't understand" what Republicans are doing, and today's email is about how Biden doesn't know what to say to anyone who doesn't already agree with him.

I must be on the Democratic Party's special email list of Perpetually Puzzled People, and somehow it's been decided that the best name to slap on the "From" line in email to the PPP is Joe Biden.

September 29, 2013

"Mrs. Perry I want to be sure that you didn’t just inadvertently make news."

"Are you saying that you believe that abortion is a woman’s right — to make that choice?"

"Leather jogging pants are a legit fashion thing right now."

"Kanye is talking fashion world which is why it sounds strange to non-fashion people," says a commenter in this Metafilter discussion of the Kanye West/Jimmy Kimmel feud.

The commenter links to: "In Kanye's Defense: 11 Musicians Who Own Leather Jogging Pants: Jimmy Kimmel might not believe that leather jogging pants are a trend, but here are 15 photos of celebs who could vouch for Kanye on that one."

ADDED: "Jogging pants" is a just nicer way to say sweat pants.

And the issue isn't whether you're going to exercise in leather pants, it's whether you want your leather pants tight or loose. Everyone loves tight pants and everyone loves loose pants, but for different reasons. The question is which of your pant-loves are you going to be with today. Is it a loose pants day? If so, with leather jogging pants, you can still say yes to leather.

Joe Biden is emailing me, "Do you understand this?"

He addresses me — "Ann" — and informs me that "One senator is running the show in the Republican Party right now."
He's not my senator. And he's not your senator.
I guess Joe checked before emailing that I'm not from Texas. Regular readers of this blog know that if life begins at conception, I am from Texas, but that wouldn't make Ted Cruz my Senator.

Joe continues:
But for some reason I can't understand, the Republican Party is letting Ted Cruz lead their charge against Obamacare....
They're letting him? Seems to me the Party tried to rein him in but couldn't. Why try to "understand" things that aren't true? Why is the moon made of green cheese?

"Utterly unqualified partisan politicians will look at what utterly unqualified citizens have said..."

Begins a criticism of [guess what] that could work pretty much across the board as a criticism of representative democracy.

Comedy = tragedy + time.

Yesterday, this blog was devoted to the topic of comedy and tragedy, with particular emphasis on the aphorism "Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel," which might be the most famous + insightful thing ever said about comedy and tragedy. The competition is that Mel Brooks quote I was redoing the other day — "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die" — and the one you see above in the title to this post — "Comedy is tragedy plus time."

That aphorism invites criticism. One is that it should be phrased "tragedy plus time allows comedy" — because you still have to say something funny about the old tragedy. Another is that it may be that we feel free to make light of old-enough tragedies, but that's something pretty disgusting about us, as is extremely well explained by the comedian David Mitchell here:

"I am not in graduate school to learn how to encourage poor souls in their sexual experimentation..."

"... nor am I receiving generous stipends of taxpayer monies from the good people of the Great State of Wisconsin to play along with fantasies or accommodate public cross-dressing."
To all and sundry alike I explicate, as best I can, such things as the clash between the Taira and the Minamoto, the rise of the Kamakura shogunate, and the decline of the imperial house in twelfth-century Japan. Everyone is welcome in my classroom, but, whether directly or indirectly, I will not implicate myself in my students’ fetishes, whatever those might be. What they do on their own time is their business; I will not be a party to it. I am exercising my right here to say, “Enough is enough.” One grows used to being thought a snarling racist–after all, others’ opinions are not my affair–but one draws the line at assisting students in their private proclivities. That is a bridge too far, and one that I, at least, will not cross.

"How Edith Windsor fell in love, got married, and won a landmark case for gay marriage."

A great article by Ariel Levy. Worth subscribing to The New Yorker to get access. I had The New Yorker in audio podcast form, and this article inspired me to subscribe to the print edition. It begins:
"Fuck the Supreme Court!” Edith Windsor said, one hideously hot morning in June, when she’d had just about enough. Then she sighed and mumbled, “Oh, I don’t mean that.” What she really meant was that she was hot, she was tired of waiting, and, most of all, she was tired of being told what to do. “I’m feeling very manhandled!” she said.

It was Windsor’s eighty-fourth birthday, and she was spending it staring at a laptop screen as information from scotusblog.com flashed by in a typeface too small for her to read comfortably. Four years earlier, Windsor’s partner of more than forty years, Thea Spyer, died, leaving Windsor her sole heir. The two were legally married in Canada, in 2007, but, because of the Defense of Marriage Act, Windsor was not eligible for the exemption on estate tax that applies to husbands and wives. She had to pay $363,053 in taxes to the federal government, and $275,528 to New York State, and she did not think that was fair.
There's some excellent material about lawyering, including getting the right plaintiff as the face of the issue. One "experienced movement attorney" explains that "Women are better than men" and "post-sexual is better than young." Windsor was not just female and presumably "aged out of carnality," but, we're told, didn't "look gay."
Her pink lipstick and pearls would make it easier, [her lawyer Roberta] Kaplan knew, for people across the country to feel that they understood her, that she embodied values they could relate to.
Some movement lawyer types thought Windsor was the wrong plaintiff because she was too rich, and her legal problem was a problem of a rich person. Who owes $600,000 in taxes? What kind of civil rights movement forefronts suffering of that kind?
"There were these calls," Kaplan said. "These people from Lambda were like, 'We really think that bankruptcy is the perfect venue to challenge DOMA,' because they had a bankruptcy case they wanted to bring. Finally, I couldn't stand it. I said, 'Really?  I don't want to be disrespectful or classist, but do you really think that people who couldn't pay their personal debts are the best people to bring the claim?"...

Kaplan was convinced that Americans dislike taxes even more than they dislike the rich...