October 19, 2013

"Visit Tatooine, before it's swallowed by the Sahara."

"Ever since they finished the part of the movie shot in 2003, sand dunes have surrounded the film set from every side. They should not have allowed this to happen," says Tahar Karya, who used to drive George Lucas around the dunes.
"Tunisia is a very beautiful and safe country.... I advise the whole world to come visit Tunisia. Tunisia is a country of security, comfort, and stability ... Besides, in Tunisia there are more than 300 days of sunlight. This is a country where life is good!"

"Microagressions, particularly those of a racialized nature, are... 'the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities, and denigrating messages..."

"... sent to (visible minorities) by well-intentioned (members of an ethnic majority in a society) who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated."
They include, in Japan’s case, verbal cues (such as “You speak such good Japanese!” — after saying only a sentence or two — or “How long will you be in Japan?” regardless of whether a non-Japanese (NJ) might have lived the preponderance of their life here), nonverbal cues (people espying NJ and clutching their purse more tightly, or leaving the only empty train seat next to them), or environmental cues (media caricatures of NJ with exaggerated noses or excessive skin coloration, McDonald’s “Mr. James” mascot....).

"I felt as if my presence had been rejected....I wanted to erase my life."

Said Kazushi Suganum, who is working to help those who are, as he was, hikikomori.

"If I was editor, I would get people after Obama. I voted for the guy, but he’s a disaster as a president."

"And a disaster most through his Justice Department and muzzling the press. Succeeding. And nobody’s — there’s no [Harrison] Salisbury, [David] Halberstam to bust ass in Washington anymore. That Washington bureau is a wimpy place right now and has been since Obama’s election, or since 9/11 actually."

Says Gay Talese, who was a NYT reporter in the 1960s and who wrote "The Kingdom and the Power: Behind the Scenes at The New York Times: The Institution That Influences the World."

At the Tibetan Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

"Mystery - a blonde angel without an identity."

"Greece riveted" by the "blonde angel" found amongst the (non-blond) Roma.

"Texas is not America... It’s in America, but it’s not America."

"National polls don’t mean anything. Democrats haven’t won a statewide office in Texas since 1994. There are no Peter Kings in Texas."

Quote from Matt Mackowiak whom the NYT identifies as "a Republican political consultant in Austin and the former spokesman for... Kay Bailey Hutchison," in an article titled "Texans Stick With Cruz Despite Defeat in Washington."

Matt Mackowiak is most likely...
pollcode.com free polls 

You think: "What a good-hearted, mellow person I am," I think: "Inside the Madison cocoon."



"There should be a packaged microwavable snack for women called Hot Handbags."

I said in the comments to the post about the lady named Joy who collects expensive handbags and doesn't know what to say to her "good friend" who "wears" "fake" — i.e., knockoff — bags. I was responding to rhhardin who said "Pockets would be simpler."

To flesh out your understanding, here's Jim Gaffingan, explaining Hot Pockets:

Googling "hot pockets," I came up with a Hollywood report from 3 days ago: "Kate Upton and Snoop Dogg's New Hot Pockets Video Arrives Fully Baked (Video)." Who knew "hot pockets" was something new and trendy? Ever stumble into some weird accidental fashionableness like that?

"I love to buy designer handbags. Every time I do, a good friend shows up wearing a new fake bag."

"She tells me she bought it in another state or some other crazy story. She is lying to my face and insulting my intelligence. What should I say?," a woman named Joy asks the NYT etiquette columnist Philip Galanes.

Here's my answer, written before reading what the Times guy said:

What should you say? Try speaking like a human being. One doesn't wear a bag, one carries a bag. She's not wearing her new fake bag any more than she's wearing her old fake friend, which is you, Joy, you fake old bag. Think about what makes less sense, her calling her bag Louis Vuitton, or you calling yourself Joy.

And here's what Galanes said:
I’d go with “Nice bag!” But I tend to feel sorry for people who tell (harmless) whoppers. If she felt better about herself, she probably wouldn’t need status items to prop herself up. (Not that there’s anything wrong with your bag collection.) If she really is a good friend, conspiring in a silly lie seems like a lesser evil than dueling over her insult to your intelligence. Or you could give her one of your authentic bags, so she learns the difference.
Who gave the better answer to Joy?
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Racial fashion... deaf fashion... blind fashion... deaf music....

As long as I've started on the topic of fashion this morning, here are Tom & Lorenzo on last Thursday's finale on "Project Runway," where [SPOILER ALERT] finally, after 12 seasons, a black person has won. Here's how Tom & Lorenzo dealt with the racial element:
Anyway, major congratulations to Dom, not just for winning, but for being the first black winner in the show’s 12-season history. The reason this is notable is because typically, the fashion world has a distinct problem recognizing black (and especially African-American) designers and styles. We’re gonna leave that there, though. Dom doesn’t deserve to be designated a standard-bearer by us or anyone else. It’s enough for us to note it, but the deeper congratulations are for a job well done....
And — because, I guess "enough" is never enough:

Wearing evening gowns on the street, in daytime...

... because you have no evening affairs to attend — who does? — and you like the clothes.

A trend, spotted by Bill Cunningham, in Paris. It's not Parisians who are doing it. It's people from China and Russia who are busting loose.

October 18, 2013

The iconic foods of the states — one per state — ranked in order of greatness.

From #1 — Illinois (Chicago-style pizza) to #52 — Ohio (Cincinnati-style chili).

52?! It's coming in after #51, "Being hit by a car."
Whatever virtue this bad-tasting Z-grade atrocity once contained derived from its exemplification of a set of certain cherished American fables—immigrant ingenuity, the cultural melting pot, old things combining into new things—and has now been totally swamped and consumed by different and infinitely uglier American realities: the commodification of culture; the transmutation of authentic artifacts of human life into hollow corporate brand divisions; the willingness of Americans to slop any horrible goddamn thing into their fucking mouths if it claims to contain some byproduct of a cow and comes buried beneath a pyramid of shredded, waxy, safety-cone-orange "cheese."
Hey! I had some, back in '09. See:


Via Throwing Things, to which I also owe thanks for sending me to this page where you're asked to vote to rank "Pennsylvania's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts," including the wig of Thaddeus Stevens.

What are law students doing to protect themselves from the horror of a law school exam that lawprofs could easily write following the advice I am giving in this post?

Do law professors realize how much law students are relying on Wikipedia for summaries and insights into the cases we are assigning? In the old days, students spent a lot of money on commercial outlines, stuff like this. I've never looked at any of those books, not as a student and not as a teacher, though over the years, I've had many students ask me to recommend one.

"Even When the GOP Loses, It Wins/Think the Senate deal is a resounding defeat for Republicans? Think again."

 That is the headline of an editorial in The Nation.
[I]n the war of ideas, the Senate deal is but a stalemate, one made almost entirely on conservative terms. The GOP now goes into budget talks with sequestration as the new baseline, primed to demand longer-term cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And they still hold the gun of a US default to the nation’s head in the next debt ceiling showdown.

Surrender? Any more “victories” like this and Democrats will end up paying tribute into the GOP’s coffers.
I'm surprised to read this, because I thought what I was observing — to the extent that I did not avert my eyes — was the liberal media doing the Democratic Party's work of declaring victory.* I'm interested in seeing The Nation peel off from that strategy. It's all propaganda of one kind or another, but the strategies of propaganda interest me. It's boring when they all do the same thing, which is the  main reason I had my own personal shutdown during the shutdown.

Key line: "The GOP may be bearing the brunt of the public’s rage, but anger is also directed at Washington and government generally." The Democratic Party and its supporters in the media mostly had the strategy of blaming the GOP. Get people mad and then: Be mad at those guys. But stirring up anger is a problem:

1. There are a lot of people like me who turn away and refuse to listen when someone is directing us to be angry. Those ugly people over there are going to solve their problem whether I monitor their argument or not.

2. Then you have the kind of people who actually do take direction to the point where they become inflamed with anger. Do these hotheaded folks pay attention to the details of why these nasty people as opposed to those nasty people were more responsible for the thing they were induced to feel angry about?

Examine that key line again: "The GOP may be bearing the brunt of the public’s rage, but anger is also directed at Washington and government generally." There are 2 clauses, and if the second clause is the stronger proposition — which is likely — then the GOP came out ahead.

* Yesterday, I almost ended my personal shutdown to do a post based on the old saying "Declare victory and get out." Do you know the origin of that phrase?

"Introducing Half-Chewed Cole Haan Wingtip by the emerging canine artist, Jack."

"This unique presentation of a meticulously destroyed dress shoe is the first of its kind by Jack."
The piece features absent toe and vamp portions of the shoe, removed through a secret chewing process, known only by the artist, with razor-like precision but requiring brute strength. The shoe has been severed painstakingly from the upper fine-grain leather through the inner lining to the bottom sole. Half-Chewed exhibits only the finest craftsmanship, as is characteristic of works by Jack. For the performance aspect of the piece, the artist ingested the dissected portion of the shoe. In a post-modern twist on interdisciplinary performance art, there was no audience for his act of passion.

The work has been interpreted by contemporary art critics as a statement on class in the wake of the American recession, a painful and complex subject for the modern American dog. Due to the nature of the artist's process, the collector who places the winning bid will no doubt hear gasps of "How in the hell?," "Oh my God," and "Was he using a chainsaw?" upon displaying the piece.
An eBay offering that sold for $378, brought to my attention by lemondog in yesterday's Blue Collar Café.

"The people of Iowa are a whole lot like the people of Montana. And, of course, New Hampshire’s a lot like Montana."

"We don’t have a sales tax. 'Live Free or Die' — we understand that notion in Montana."

Thinking out loud about running for President.

That thought, expressed by Brian Schweitzer — ever heard of him? — reminds me of the discussion we were having last month about "national psychology" — "the (real or alleged) distinctive psychological make-up of particular nations, ethnic groups or peoples, and... the comparative study of those characteristics in social psychology, sociology, political science and anthropology."
The assumption of national psychology is that different ethnic groups, or the people living in a national territory, are characterized by a distinctive "mix" of human attitudes, values, emotions, motivation and abilities which is culturally reinforced by language, the family, schooling, the state and the media.
It's out of fashion:
Politically and morally... it is conducive to racist generalisations about people... [and] may lead directly to ascriptive discrimination against foreigners, meaning that one's own people are regarded as naturally superior....

Scientifically, because... [even if] generalizations and distinctions drawn are valid, they may be too general, or require too many qualifications, to be useful. There is an intrinsic difficulty involved in verifying national-psychological characteristics scientifically in any positivistic sense.... 
But when we step down a level of generality and talk about the psychology of the people of the various states of the United States, we somehow lose the sense that we're doing something wrong. Why?

1. Because this is a type of thinking that springs quite naturally to the human mind, and so much of it is forbidden. What little access to the relief of spewing such notions remains is so valuable to people that they self-protectively inure themselves to the problem.

2. Because even consciously thinking about it now, stereotypes about people from particular states don't seem too harmful. We're fortunate as Americans to have inherited these strange internal borderlines with charming names like Iowa and Montana, and our various thoughts about the people in these places gives texture and dimension to our concept of the people of America. It's not one big mass, it's We the People of the united STATES of America. It's a helpful visualization, even if it's pretty dumb — a map, with farmers standing on Iowa and so forth.

3. ???

October 17, 2013

At the Blue Collar Café...


... come on in and talk about what you want.

"One of the first questions they ask you [at the Ayn-Rand-fan dating website] is about your appearance."

"I'm not sure what the difference is between 'cuddly' and 'very cuddly.' Seems like some kind of code word for fat. I picked 'very cuddly,' as I figured Objectivists are looking for a man who likes to cuddle after they get home from a long day managing a train factory or whatever."
After an interminable, seemingly random series of invasive questions about my personal proclivities, I finished my profile. I almost quit when it asked me if I was interested in the "cashflow game," which I thought was some kind of hip-hop reference, but I persevered like John Galt would have.

Can I look again?

I had my own personal shutdown for the shutdown. I was unwilling to consume the propaganda — they're losing, they're losers, they're committing suicide — and I'm still afraid to look because I don't want to read the predictable post-mortemsthey died, they're dead, they killed themselves. 

I'm just going to add my "civility bullshit" tag to this post, and let it stand in for the blah blah blah I might otherwise scribble here. 

"The last thing Universal wants is another actor to emerge as its 'Fifty Shades' protagonist only to waffle."

The last guy quit because:

1. Fans of the books didn't think he properly embodied sadistic billionairitude and their hostility freaked out the poor guy, or...

2. The script sucks, and the actor's effort to participate in rewriting it went too far, and the studio drew the line, or...

3. It's a really dumb role, and whoever plays it will be ruined. As it says at the link: "the virgin-turned-sexpert Anastasia Steele... has greater dimension than the [Christian] Grey character." A 5-page booklet has greater dimension than a single sheet of paper. She gets to go from virgin to sexpert. (Is there a cornier word than "sexpert"?)

4. No one wants to be laughed at while performing sex, especially the sort of eroticism that depends so heavily on being taken seriously. If people start laughing in the theaters, which you know they will, this is a disaster. There's a reason stories like this get popular in print form.

5. Why can't I just eat my waffle?

What does Ronan Farrow think is: 1. "an annoyance," and 2. "empowering"?

1. Your interest in whether his father is Frank Sinatra or Woody Allen.

2. His new MSNBC TV show.

(Need more details? Here's the whole article.)

ADDED: Here, you can judge his speaking style and small-screen appeal:

"I did a lot of stuff in my Hammer Pants."

AND: Watching that clip, I could only think of one word: jejune.

"In all the years since the shooting, I have never come face-to-face with Franklin."

"I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me. But, I do not want to kill him, nor do I want to see him die...."

Great shakes.

The previous post talks about the 1960s dance called "the shake," which The Supremes were instructed to do with their "buttocks under" rather than "protruding." I wanted to see some video of what this old dance really looked like, a search that was complicated by the YouTube era meme the Harlem Shake... not to be confused with the actual dance called the Harlem Shake, which goes back to 1981 and is also not the 1960s shake I'm looking for.

I amend my search to "1960s dance  the shake," and I get this old TV commercial:

Both Meade and I felt a big nostalgic twinge of recognition at the point where the pyramid-shaped packets of powder are dumped out of the plastic shaker.

And speaking of pyramids, the inventor of the dance the Harlem Shake, Al B says:
It's a drunken shake anyway, it's an alcoholic shake, but it's fantastic, everybody loves it and everybody appreciates it. And it's glowing with glory. And it's respected. But if we could mystify it, and become historian, about this Egyptian jazz... Pharaohs invented this thing, with spears, and hats, and gowns. And so, it becomes a subject of being communicative to the system and to realization. If you get my drift.... It was a drunken dance, you know, from the mummies, in the tombs. That's what the mummies used to do. They was all wrapped up and taped up. So they couldn't really move, all they could do was shake...
Yes, but how about the 1960s dance? I see "'Shake!!' - RJ & The Del Guapos - (60's dances)," but the dancers are obviously doing the twist and the pony, so this is not an authoritative depiction. And here's a video with the Sam Cooke song "Shake" — "a new dance that's going around" — but, again, somebody just threw together clips of 60s people dancing a jumble of 60s dances. But I did immensely enjoy the appearance of  the word "shake" clipped from the Great Shakes TV commercial!

So... finally, here's The Supremes, singing and dancing "The Shake" on the British TV show "Ready Steady Go" in 1965. That's kind of bad. This is much better, also on "Ready Steady Go." The year is 1966:

BONUS: The Who do a Great Shakes commercial. But those of us who followed The Who back then — I was a member of The Who Fan Club before they released their first album in the U.S. — know that The Who sold out early. It looked like this:

The woman who taught the Motown stars to behave in a manner that read as "class."

It's Maxine Powell, who died on Monday at the age of 98.
“Mrs. Powell was always a lady of grace, elegance and style, and we did our best to emulate her,” Martha Reeves, the former lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “I don’t think I would have been successful at all without her training.... Every asset of my personality has been by her influence... Even to the end, she was making sure that I was standing with posture and exuberant grace.”
She scolded the Supremes about how they were dancing the shake. “You are protruding the buttocks... Whenever you do a naughty step like the shake, add some class to it. Instead of shaking and acting tough, you should roll your buttocks under and keep smiling all the time.” She showed them how to do it and: "They were shocked that I could do it and at how much better it looked my way."

Maybe you're thinking: Why aren't there any Maxine Powells around anymore to class up the pop stars of today? But there must be. They're simply classing them up to suit the taste of our time, which is to say putting them somewhere near the edge of what is acceptable to the big majority. More is acceptable today because of what went on in those earlier years. Dancing the shake at all — rolling the buttocks — was near the edge of acceptability in the 1960s. So that Powells' modification — smile when you roll those buttocks — shaped how people felt about such things and was part of a process that got us where we find ourselves today.

The NYT obituary — at the link — doesn't mention the topic of race (other than to say that Powell founded a finishing and modeling school "which placed the first black models" (was it only for black women?)). But it's hard to ignore that Motown succeeded in making black performers popular with white Americans, who might not have liked them so much if they hadn't been remade in the way Powell taught. What does it say about American racism? It was Powell's idea of what white people wanted and didn't want.

It worked, so who can say what would have happened if some other approach had been used?

"'Sparrow Face' Is The New Duck Face."

Please work on the new facial expression. It's from Japan. It's newer and subtler, but be prepared for cranks to say it's still duck face. No, it is not Duck Face. It's Sparrow Face.
To achieve the coveted “sparrow” look, open your eyes wide and part your mouth slightly, “like you’re a baby bird waiting” for a tasty worm.

October 16, 2013

Ted Cruz would like to disagree with the premise of your question.

It was "a remarkable victory... a profile of courage."

"I come from 7 suicides, perhaps more."

Said Mariel Hemingway, who's in a new documentary called "Running From Crazy," the trailer for which I've embedded below:
The granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, Mariel has had to contend with a lot during her life. While millions celebrate her father as one of the all-time greatest writers, Mariel has struggled with the history of mental illness in her family.
Note the headslappingly bad error in that passage, which is in USA Today, where they seem to be running from editing.

There's some New Age-y spirituality in that, but it seems to be mostly about a wholesome experience in the mountains and earnest* physical exercise. What would you do if substance abuse, depression, and suicide seemed to "curse" your family? Just to call it a "curse," which MH does, is to give it a spiritual quality, as if one — like Scalia — believed in the Devil. If you think something is engrained in your genetic structure, it might be preferable to conceive of that thing as a separate entity that you could fight.

At the Friends Forever Café...


... share.

"[T]he old posters touted Communist values, the new ones largely replace them with pre-Communist Chinese traditions..."

"... drawing on traditional folk art like paper cutouts, woodblock prints, and clay figurines to illustrate their message."
This is a redefinition of the state’s vision from a Marxist utopia to a Confucian, family-centric nation, defined by a quiet life of respecting the elderly and saving for the future....

Almost all the art used in the posters, with its depictions of traditional dress and poses, used to be derided by the Party as belonging to China’s backward, pre-Communist past; now, these aesthetic traditions are a bulwark used to legitimize the Party as a guardian and creator of the country’s hopes and aspirations.
You can see all the "China Dream" posters here, and there are plenty of examples at the first link, with translated slogans, stuff like: "Ah China/My dream/A truly fragrant dream," "Young people are strong; China is strong," "The China Dream is ahead/What do you see?/I see my dream!," and "Honesty and consideration handed down generation by generation; poems and books (or alternately The Book of Poems and The Book of History) last forever."

Mostly, there's no mention of Communism, but one — which you can see here — says "Communists on the road to fulfilling the dream," and it has a poem that's translated as:
Feet shackled, hands cuffed
sturdy grass withstands strong winds
the Communist Party members on the road
the mountains can shake, their will is unshakeable
hot blood and spring flowers will write today's history.

"I used to believe that negotiating was insulting... Americans believe it's cheap to haggle."

"Rather than feeling shame, I'm learning that seeking a fair, ethical price might actually feel good."

When Nina Totenberg is calling affirmative action "racial preferences," affirmative action is in trouble.

Here's her report — at the NPR website — on yesterday's oral argument in a case she doesn't mention the name of but which I happen to know is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. This is the case where the people of Michigan — after the Supreme Court approved of the University of Michigan Law School's use of race in admissions — amended their constitution to require that the state "not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin." Another way to put that is to say: The state constitution bans affirmative action.

Under U.S. Supreme Court case law, affirmative action in university admissions does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution when it is done in a way that is narrowly tailored to the compelling interest in the benefits of classroom diversity. In Schuette, the question is not whether the university can choose not to have a policy of affirmative action, but whether the policy against affirmative action can be put in the state constitution — where, as a political matter, it becomes difficult to change. The idea is: 1. The political process has been restructured along racial lines, and 2. That restructuring violates Equal Protection.

It's a difficult argument to make, since it sounds like choosing equality imposes inequality, but there are a couple old cases upon which to build. I just want to focus here on Totenberg's (perhaps) careless adoption of the state's characterization of affirmative action as "racial preferences." Boldface added:
Students seeking to enact or get rid of other preferences can lobby the regents, [the ACLU's Mark] Rosenbaum observed. But racial minorities cannot lobby for reinstatement of consideration of race in college and university admissions decisions. Moreover, he said, to get back their preferences, minority students would have to embark on a difficult and multimillion-dollar campaign to re-amend the state constitution in a state that is more than three-quarters white.

Also arguing against the referendum was lawyer Shanta Driver. Justice Stephen Breyer posed this hypothetical to her: Most cities have "a vast number of administrators" of all kinds of programs. Suppose an administrator of one project decides to adopt a racial preference, for a good reason, but then the city council votes to abolish that preference. Would that be unlawful?

"No," replied Driver. Breyer pressed on, asking "Where's the line?" How do you avoid giving every individual administrator the power "to decide on his own whether to use racial preferences without a possibility of a higher-up veto?"
So there's Justice Breyer saying it too. Perhaps Totenberg picked up the cue from him. It seems to me, if you want affirmative action to be accepted as important, good, and — as we say in legal doctrine — compelling, you don't want to encourage the habit of thinking of it as preferences, which seem to be special benefits that some people get because of their race. You want people to think in terms of taking into account all of the many factors that play a role in the university's practicing of a subtle art of composing a student body with a marvelously fine-textured, beneficial-to-all diversity.

If that way of thinking is lost, affirmative action is doomed.

"I get mail twice a day, once from the mailman and once from the neighbors putting mail in the right boxes."

A wisecrack by rhhardin in such perfect one-liner-joke form that I had to Google to see if it was an old joke, even though it's not believable that rh would copy and paste some comedian's old joke.

But if it were some old comedian's old joke, which old comedian would it be?
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"'It’s very, very serious,' warned Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona."

“Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

You have been warned... and warned again.

Are you taking this seriously?
pollcode.com free polls 

October 15, 2013

At the Late-Night Dog Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Amazon workers shipping goods from inside P&G."

"Amazon (AMZN) has ensconced its workers in seven Procter & Gamble (PG) warehouses, where they ship consumer staples such as Pampers diapers and Bounty paper towels directly to consumers."

Hmm. Seems fine to me, as an Amazon Associate, who wishes that any time you need to buy diapers or paper towels you enter through the Althouse Amazon Portal... without worrying about where Amazon really is. It's not nefarious (is it?). It's just diapers and paper towels.

"72-year-old man survives 19 days, eating lizards, squirrels."

"He still had his hunting rifle, but... he didn't have the strength to hunt a deer... Instead, [Gene] Penaflor focused on small game, foraged for algae in a stream and drank water from a creek. To stay dry, he crouched under a fallen tree, and to keep warm, he made a fire and packed dry leaves and grass around his body."

He was in Mendocino National Forest, where temperatures dropped into the 20s and it snowed several times.

"This is the average American male in his 30s. He doesn't look too bad, right?"

Uh... wrong.

"I am a product of infidelity. Both of my parents cheated on each other, and as a kid it damaged me."

"I then grew up, fell in love with a married man, and caused even more damage. I believe history often repeats itself if you do not take responsibility and change it. Infidelity is wrong. It hurts people. It hurt me and then I in turn also hurt people. It is a chain of pain."

Says Rielle Hunter, just when no one wants to ever talk about John Edwards again, but the lady has a book to sell. 

"The affirmative-action case liberals deserve to lose."

By Emily Bazelon, who is a liberal, at Slate, which is liberal (so this isn't some conservative fakely "helping" liberals see the light, in the style of articles like "Do Yourselves a Favor, Republican/Raise the debt limit high enough that we don't have to debate it again until after your primaries," a teaser on the front page of Slate right now).

I'm very interested to hear about this morning's argument in the case Bazelon is previewing, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The argument against the Michigan constitution's ban on affirmative action in education is so abstruse that no article aimed at laypersons can explain it. Bazelon does a creditable job — at paragraphs 4-6 at the link — but I've repeatedly read (and taught) the strange cases that the argument is based on, and I've seen year after year of law students struggling just to see what the Court was saying in those cases, which must be further extended to reject the Michigan ban. If the Supreme Court embraces that argument, people won't understand why, and it will help conservatives in 2014 and 2016.

Which is why I read Bazelon's "liberals deserve to lose" as "liberals should want to lose."

At the Neat and Sloppy Café...

... huh? Oh.

"When I was 19 or 20 I found myself in this position, being pressurised into wearing more and more revealing outfits."

"The lines that I had spun at me again and again - generally by middle-aged men - were: 'You look great, you've got a great body, why not show it off?' Or: 'Don't worry, it will look classy, it will look artistic.' I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing, but I was often reminded by record label executives just whose money was being spent."

Said Charlotte Church.

"Right now they're just trying to adjust Jenny's performance on the show so that she comes off as more appealing, but that's an uphill battle."

Jenny = Jenny McCarthy. The show = "The View."
"ABC has begun doing deep research on Jenny's work on the show and the initial findings are that viewers want to tune out the second she opens her mouth!" a production source told Radar.

Aw, look! It's Fukuppy!

A cute little egg guy who'd like to interest you in buying a freezer.

Come on, the company is already called Fukushima. I don't believe they just didn't notice how "fuk" looks to English-speaking folk.

I call viral advertising.

Wisconsin's $760 million surplus — $89 million more that projected when the 2013-15 budget was passed last summer.

"When we took office two years ago, we said we would be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, and this report shows we’re on the right track," said Governor Scott Walker.

There's  $100 million of property tax relief in the works, and unlike some other GOP efforts, the Democrats in the state legislature are not opposing it (though they are irked at the timing, which coincides with the announcement by Mary Burke that she will run against Walker in the 2014 governor's race).

"A Fox Is Living on the White House Grounds and No One Can Catch It Because of the Shutdown."


Oh? Well, if they can't catch it because of the shutdown, maybe they could at least interview it about the shutdown. From what I heard, the fox has something to say.

The yellow-duct-tape beam-of-light.

"'Fos' is the name of the first ephemeral installation by Eleni Karpatsi, Susana Piquer and Julio Calvo, a multidisciplinary team based in Madrid and Barcelona. Using yellow duct tape, paint, found furniture and pineapples, the team created a brilliant visual illusion that simulates a beam of light coming from the lamp above the door of a vegan restaurant in Madrid. The name 'Fos' means 'light' in the Greek language, and 'melted' in Catalan."

More here.

"Maybe you don't think you'd get much out of it, but if it's not prohibitively expensive..."

"... maybe it's worth a try just to get commenters to stop harassing you about travel," says the jackal, commenting on my disinclination to endure 8+ hours crammed in a metal tube to see how I feel when the tube poops me out somewhere other than here. That vaunted amalgam of arrogance and humiliation that is travel — I could blog about it.

My response, at the link, ends with the phrase "readers would need to pony up something like $20,000."

"I'm interested in the fakeness of all those colorful photographs of the universe that we've been looking at all these years."

I said, in the course of contemplating what Maureen Dowd said about Robert Redford's hair and after reading that "There are no 'natural color' cameras aboard the Hubble and never have been. The optical cameras on board have all been digital CCD cameras, which take images as grayscale pixels." I also tweaked "the atheist Christopher Hitchens" for "burbling about 'the color and depth and majesty' of the Hubble photographs as he urges us to see the revelations of science as more awe-inspiring than the old stories told by religions." I exclaimed: "But the color is fake! The purveyors of science, like religionists, can scam us too."

Reader Gabriel Hanna emails:
To say that something is a scam [is] to say it is dishonest and done for financial gain.  
Now, technically, I did not say the color in the Hubble photographs is a scam. I said it was fake, and then, in a separate sentence, I stated a generality — "The purveyors of science, like religionists, can scam us too" — which is my standard warning to pay attention and be skeptical.
Astronomers, it is true, are largely taxpayer-supported, they are using the Hubble images to convince people to pay for astronomy. But the other element of a scam is dishonesty, and I do not agree that the Hubble images are dishonest — or if they are, they are no more dishonest than any photography.

Notes on success from 2 Scotts — Adams and Fitzgerald — and one Bob.

"In hindsight, it looks as if the projects that I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, my passion level moved with my success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success."

Writes Scott Adams, who followed his passion and invested in a restaurant that failed, then started drawing a comic strip — "Dilbert" — as "just one of many get-rich schemes I was willing to try" and became passionate about cartooning as it began to make him rich.

So Adams advises us not to take the advice "Follow your passion." Then he moves on to rejecting the advice that one ought to have goals. What you need is a system.

That's a pretty amusing column at the link, and I see it's adapted from a book that's coming out next week — "How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big."


There are only 2 Bob Dylan songs that use the word "success" and they are both on the same album which is probably the album that made the deepest impression on my mind when I was a malleable teenager, "Bringing It All Back Home":

1. "She knows there’s no success like failure/And that failure’s no success at all."

2. "Get dressed, get blessed/Try to be a success/Please her, please him, buy gifts/Don’t steal, don’t lift/Twenty years of schoolin’/And they put you on the day shift...."

Naturally, after 12 years of schoolin', I went to art school. After 16 years of schoolin' and 5 years unschooling, I went to law school. There's a "Bringing It All Back Home" "Highway 61" song with the word "lawyers":
You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You’ve been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
You’re very well read
It’s well known...
After 19 years of schoolin', it took 20 years of professing — looks liked or not — to get to blogging, which included, inter alia, The Gatsby Project, which never officially ended, so here's another sentence:
If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.

October 14, 2013

At Bucky the Badger-Dog Café...


... you can talk about a dog that looks like Bucky Badger or anything else.


Drudge, linking to this Washington Post revelation.

AND: In the longer view, we see an artistic parallelism in the President and his wife. Note the facial expression and the hands:

There are 3 headlines under the First Lady:
Squirrels go nuts for First Lady's garden in shutdown...
...tomatoes are rotting

Your evening infusion of Meade-dog.

Revel in it, humans. Little do you know what Dog World feels like, but the Mediator Meade is revealing a few secrets.

"Do you even know what URL means?"

Obama makes a...

... sandwich.

"Menstrual Man."

Via NPR.

"Top 10 horror movies... Ten Exceptionally Well-Written Horror Films, Top Ten Horror-Sci-Fi Films: A Primer And Pseudo-History, The 12 Weirdest Vampire Movies Ever Made..."

"... The Top Grossing Scary Movies Of All-Time, and, perhaps most importantly of all: The 25 best horror films on netflix instant."

"Our generation wants to know what is going on, but we want it to be fun.... We think people get virality all wrong..."

"The reason people share things are not just because they are shiny and cute and crazy and fun, but because it is about something they are deeply passionate about. It can be about putting your best aspirational self forward."

Says Peter Koechley, on of the founders of Upworthy, interviewed in the NYT.
They began thinking about a site focused on what they considered noble causes, but it took until 2011, when [Chris Hughes, an early founder of Facebook] gave them $500,000 in seed capital, for both to start working on it full-time....

Upworthy produces none of its own content. Instead, it employs roughly 20 “curators” who find obscure video and graphics (but not text) in topic areas — like sexuality, civil rights or economics — that they feel are meaningful, but being passed over. The site repackages the freely available content with snappy headlines and content teases....
Disclosure: Koechley was one of the editors of a Madison high school humor zine, who used to meet at my house back in the 1990s.

Related fact: If only I'd taken my first husband's name, it would be more obvious — on the internet — that I am the author of a non-existent book titled "Post-Divorce, Pre-Death."

"Mars Needs Women."

Movie title invoked by me in the context of critiquing philosophy departments. That's participating in my own comments thread section, where I also say something I'd like to reprint here:

Tales of gender difference, the Socratic Method, and the hostile environment that is philosophy.

The story of one female University of Wisconsin-Madison student and the undergraduate club the Socratic Society:
“People were yelling and banging on the table to make their points,” [Macy Salzberger] says. “It was basically a free-for-all... The environment felt hostile, and often I was the only girl in the room”...

“I told women that I understood the problem, but that it was possible to balance out the combative tone if more of us came. The women who started coming were intentional, as well. They shared that goal.”...
“Macy has been an outstanding leader,” says Philosophy Department Chair Russ Shafer-Landau. “It’s absolutely vital that we enfranchise all who want to participate in philosophical discussion, and Macy’s efforts have been exemplary in this regard.”
Can we get some Socratic dialogue on what "enfranchise" means here? And nice as it is to feature some hard work by a UW student, do you really believe that if only more women came in at the intake level and "shared" a "goal" of inclusiveness, then some "tone" you view as exclusionary would be "balanced out"? What do you think women are? Are we some bland ingredient to be added to an over-spiced stew to make it more palatable for everyone?

"Woah, Ann, all this time I thought when women show appreciation for the beauty of other women it's because they appreciate the beauty of other women."

"I still have that conceit. Pretty women clearly tend to enjoy each other more than they enjoy less attractive women. I see it all the time but I'm reminded specifically of a time when I worked third shift, and most people on our shift were dreary slobs, and there was only one woman whom I would have called pretty. Then a new girl was hired and the pretty girl confided in me, 'It's nice to have another pretty girl.'"

A new comment, by Mark Trade, from a post from several days ago about attitudes about beauty, to which I've got to say: Key word: another.

Why did he write "Woah, Ann"? (I'd have spelled it "whoa" and prefer to be called "Althouse," so "Whoa, Althouse" would have been better, in my book, but it's frontpaged anyway.) He was reacting to something I'd written in the comments:
When women show their appreciation for how other women look, I think they are doing some or all of these things:

1. Communicating friendliness and being sociable.

2. Sublimating envy.

3. Thinking about things they could do to look better (like get a dress like that or a haircut like that), so it's like shopping for ideas to be used on themselves.

4. Expressing hostility in [a] weird way. ("You look great" = you look bad on other occasions.)
How would I diagnose Mark's workplace confidante? First, you've got to notice that the person he calls "the pretty girl" was not showing appreciation to that other woman, she was speaking in confidence to the man who regarded her as the only pretty girl.

So what was she really doing? Worrying about her own status as the pretty one and fishing for a response like "Oh, you are much prettier"? Bolstering her relationship with the male who has noticed her prettiness to make it harder for the "new girl" to challenge her status? Expressing her long-term anxiety that she has been looking unattractive in the context of a workplace that appears to be somewhere only "dreary slobs" would work?

Her taking Mark aside for this mini-drama of self-esteem-boosting and relationship-building apparently worked, because Mark remembers her fondly as "the pretty girl" who was magnanimous toward other "pretty girls." She worked his vanity and male pride successfully, and it wasn't even very hard. Despite years of reflection and prodding from my 4-point list, he still puts a rosy interpretation on the scene.

The naivete. The world runs on the lubrication of this naivete!

AND: And by "this naivete," I mean Mark's naivete. I though that was obvious until I started reading comments.

"Raising kids of color by white parents... requires a racial consciousness that is common in families of color, but rarely developed in white families."

Writes Frank Ligtvoet, the founder of Adoptive Families With Children of African Heritage and Their Friends. He's white, with 2 black children.
The National Association of Black Social Workers declared in a resolution in 1972 that transracial adoption was cultural genocide. The wording was, and is, cruel, but it is hard not to see its deeper truth: a Korean or black kid raised in a white world has lost his or her culture.

Black (or Guatemalan or Chinese) kids in transracial families belong to that family and also to the black (or Guatemalan or Chinese) community. Even if the white parents don’t like that idea — and there are too many who don’t — they will be confronted with it anyway.

Our daughter once threw a tantrum on a crowded street on the way to school, and the only way to move forward involved dragging. It was not a pretty sight, and a black woman who had witnessed the scene came up and, bypassing my partner, who was doing the dragging, addressed our child: “Is this your father? Is this your father?” She was claiming our daughter as part of the black community.
(None of my existing tags fit the race theme of this article. Racial politics, racial profiling, racial humor, racists, race and law, race and education, race and intelligence, race and pop culture. I resist creating new tags, but I had to do it here.)

October 13, 2013

2 things about "Project Runway" that were changed to suit Tim Gunn.

"First, he insisted that the designers make their own clothes (the original plan had been for a roomful of seamstresses to sew the competitors’ patterns), and second, he argued that the workroom should close every night so as not to become a competition of endurance rather than talent. (It was planned as a 24-hour work space.) 'Some people can survive on four hours of sleep like Martha Stewart, and others are frail flowers who need nine,' he argued. (The change also gave the added tension of a clock ticking away, as the hour that the workroom had to close increasingly neared each night.)"


"Lonnie Johnson is the only male snuggler. He's previously held 9-to-5 jobs..."

"... but he said he wanted to answer the call so that he could help people."
"I was thinking to myself, 'man that is such a good idea,'" said Johnson. "Whether they admit to it or not, every human being needs love, needs to be cared about, needs physical contact as well."

Is the old Obama campaign slideshow "Life of Julia" anywhere to be found on the web?

Back in May 2012, everyone was talking about that graphic depiction of the benefits of various government programs. Remember?
Barack Obama has a new composite girlfriend, and her name is Julia. Her story is told in an interactive feature titled "The Life of Julia" on the Obama campaign website. Julia, who has no face, is depicted at various ages from 3 through 67, enjoying the benefits of various Obama-backed welfare-state programs.
I have something I'd like to say about it, but I can't find it anywhere on the web. It's not at the link everyone linked to when everyone was talking about it, which was at the Obama campaign website. The campaign is over, so I guess there's no obligation to continue to host it, but this was an important historical document, and it shouldn't fall down the memory hole.

"The Life of Julia" has come to be cited — somewhat humorously — for the proposition that the government has lured women away from men, into a dependent relationship with the government, and this has had various ill effects. But I want to take a new look at why the graphic used a female character. Using a female screened out the reality that males rely on government programs too.

I'm annoyed not to be able to find the actual slideshow. (It's less annoying than the way the Obamacare website doesn't work. Is Obama ashamed of "The Life of Julia" or just unable to do internet?)

Afternoon at the dog park.



"Veterans Remove Barricades From Memorials And Take Them To White House."

Are you surprised to learn that I do not approve of this?

Those who visit veterans monuments — even if they too are vets — ought to show respect for the monument, not perform political theater, especially when it's about another topic entirely (like the budget or healthcare policy). An antiwar protest at a veterans monument would make more sense, but even then, it should honor those who have served.

Quite aside from respect for war monuments, I don't accept protesters screwing with government property. These barricades are not theirs to move around for the purpose of making statements. Use your own signs, your own words and gestures if you've got something to say.

Obviously, these people think they're pretty cute, and they're getting egged on by anti-Obama media (like Breitbart and Instapundit). But all protesters who actually care about their objectives need to think really hard about how their hijinks look to people who are not already on their side. I saw the same problem with the Wisconsin protesters in 2011. They were so inside their own enterprise that they couldn't perceive how it would look to those standing away at some distance.

I'm on neither side in the current shutdown. I'm sick of all of them. That's the distance from which I am observing this. And I do not like the moving of the barricades.

"Our traditions are such that I cannot even step out of the house... Who will earn money to feed me and my son?"

Asks the wife of the rapist-murderer.
In the village where [Punita] Devi lives in eastern Bihar state with her husband's family, women are kept veiled and largely secluded. They can't leave home without a male relative. Ms. Devi must wait until dark simply to go into the field behind her house to defecate.

"A woman going out for work is not in our tradition," says Vinay Singh, Mr. Singh's older brother. Ms. Devi's mother-in-law, Malati Devi, is blunter. "In our family, women die at home. They never venture outside," she says.

"A Roman bathhouse still in use after 2,000 years."

In Algeria.

"Questions over Kim Jong-un's 'fuzzy legs.'"

A headline.

My own private shutdown.

I'm not blogging about the shutdown.

UPDATE, OCTOBER 17, 2013: Can I look?

UPDATE, OCTOBER 18, 2013: A more detailed explanation of why I shut down.

Your morning Meade-dog.




"In some ways, writing about sex seems more easily accepted in the contemporary literary world than writing about being a person of faith."

"What has been your experience in trying to explain why you believed for so long?" an interviewer asks Nicole Hardy, author of "Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin." She answers:
The sex part is difficult to write about. The verbs are terrible, and the nouns are worse. But the emotional act of writing about faith is difficult, more exposing. Anyone who has had a positive experience in any religion understands the ways that faith can be a buoy and a comfort and a joy. But it is sometimes hard to explain the exact feelings you have when you’re having a sexual experience.
I was surprised by Hardy's answer, which wasn't at all what the questioner was trying to elicit. The truth is it is hard to write about sex. The verbs are terrible, and the nouns are worse. 

Ha ha. Have you ever tried to write about sex, like actually describe a sexual experience in detail? It's hard. The adjectives too, as well as nouns and verbs. That's why there's that annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award, where they embarrass writers of prestigious novels for writing things like "Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her."

"Outside, I watched a farmer plow his field with yaks. The sky was a deep blue and there was a full moon."

"I'm on Mars, I thought for the umpteenth time. But Michael Jackson's 'Heal the World' was wafting over the speakers. No I realized, this was weirder than Mars. I searched for an off button. Surely, we, the four of us inside this small compartment, could agree that Michael Jackson's 'Heal the World' was unacceptable music for a journey over the Tibetan Plateau. I finally found the off button and switched it off, raising my eyebrows, expecting to be praised for this quick communal resolution to an irritation. The man across from me turned it back on. Oh, my friend, I thought. We are going to have issues. And so to the sound of 'Beat It' we rumbled across Tibet."

J. Maarten Troost, "Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation."

"Back at the market, I muse how the photos that I take invariably bring out what I think of as local and therefore interesting."

"You're not likely to find me taking a picture of the Polish guy who was standing on the street with hand extended asking for a few coins. Or of the stores along the main drag -- they have a ubiquitous face to them that could appear anywhere at all: places of cheap clothing, a few tattoo parlors, many barbers and butchers too. I like walking up one, peering into another, but my camera waits."

Weekending somewhere obscure in Ireland, Nina reveals her approach to censorship by photographic framing.

And this says something about why I don't — like Nina — put great effort into traveling to distant places. If I were in that Irish market with my camera, I would frame the discontinuities and weird juxtapositions. I'd be drawn to what would disappoint the traveler who's looking for the old world where things are authentic and true to that particular locality.

Nina's phrase is "local and therefore interesting," but what would seem interesting to me would be the inevitable intrusions of the non-local, the very things that spoil the trip for those who formed their  idea of what they would find if they expend great effort going somewhere from photographs framed as Nina has done.

There are many photographs at the link. It's all very romantic and beautiful in the photographs. Enjoy them. They are probably more enjoyable than taking the trip yourself. But for Nina, I believe that the trip is enjoyable in large part because she is searching for photographs like that, and it's a difficult search that requires a thought and skill. It's exciting and interesting because of the effort it takes to exclude what would not be pleasant to see. I suspect that just outside each frame is something jarring, like a Nike T-shirt or a Miley Cyrus magazine cover.

Think about that before you succumb to the fantasy that travel will be beautiful. These photographs are the lure but also the set-up for disappointment when you see that it's not like that at all, even if it is some non-touristy spot like Ballina by the Lough Derg or Limerick or wherever Nina has alighted.

Failin' Phailin.


"DoD relies on millions of devices to bring network access and functionality to its users."

"Rigorously vetting software and firmware in each and every one of them is beyond our present capabilities, and the perception that this problem is simply unapproachable is widespread."

(Via Instapundit.)

"It is precisely in the area of medical treatments that the science-pseudoscience divide is most critical..."

"... and where the role of philosophers in clarifying things may be most relevant," write Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry.
Philosophers nowadays recognize that there is no sharp line dividing sense from nonsense, and moreover that doctrines starting out in one camp may over time evolve into the other....

The borderlines between genuine science and pseudoscience may be fuzzy, but this should be even more of a call for careful distinctions, based on systematic facts and sound reasoning. To try a modicum of turtle blood here and a little aspirin there is not the hallmark of wisdom and even-mindedness. It is a dangerous gateway to superstition and irrationality.
This seems so patently obvious to me — and, I'm guessing, to you — so why the longish column in the NYT? One thing is that the Times already ran a column on "The Enigma of Chinese Medicine" that said "that some traditional Chinese remedies (like drinking fresh turtle blood to alleviate cold symptoms) may in fact work, and therefore should not be dismissed as pseudoscience." And take a look at the comments by NYT readers. For example:
This article could easily have been written one hundred years ago. It's full of adverse assumptions about various therapeutic methodologies. It lumps the clearly dubious, like astrology, with demonstrably useful modalities, like acupuncture or TCM ((Traditional Chinese Medicine). It implicitly condemns qi as an unverifiable methodology, which it is not. It assumes that telepathy is in the dubious category, which, at this late date, it is certainly not. The overall problem, and irritant, in this article, is the authors' revealed ignorance of the extensive respectable literature on the validity of the modalities, methodologies, and phenomena they disparage....
I'm feeling an irritant and it's not the authors' revealed ignorance of the extensive respectable literature.

"Have you saddled your child with a name that needs constant spelling-out?"

Asks Elizabeth Scalia, and I wonder what name does not need constant spelling out? My older son is named John, a very common name, and yet earnest educated people never assume it's not Jon, and some even expand the name to Jonathan, which feels like a rebuke — as if we should have chosen something fancier.

And you'd be surprised how often younger folks would spell John "Jhon." I assumed that was a combination of 3 things that they did know: 1. "John" contains an H, 2. There are very few English words with an HN combination, 3. Many common English words begin with a consonant followed by an H (e.g., the, she, child, ghost, phone, rhyme, who).

And, look, it's Jhonny Peralta, playing for the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series. What's that Jh about? Is that the way to keep the Spanish last name from causing people to pronounce "John" as "Hone"?
"It's weird, I know," Peralta said. "My father spelled it that way in the Dominican (Republic). A lot of people actually spell the name that way in the Dominican. When I first came up to the Indians, fans would shout, 'Hey, JAY-honny!' It's not a problem. It's OK however people say it."
That's a relaxed attitude, and who's to say where that relaxed attitude came from? Perhaps having a name that needs constant spelling out causes a person to grow in patience and understanding over the years.

And I say that as a woman with the simplest common girl's name that must constantly be spelled out.