November 2, 2013

Your Saturday afternoon Meade-dog.

It's Ares, the German Shepherd puppy:

Goodbye to Ruth Garland-Dewson, the San Francisco milliner.

"Mrs. Dewson owned a celebrated shop on upper Fillmore Street called Mrs. Dewson's Hats for more than 37 years. Among her customers were former Mayor Willie Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Samuel L. Jackson, B.B. King and Sharon Stone. Brown called her "the milliner to high society." Mrs. Dewson designed a hat for him, which she called the Willie Brown Snap Brim. 'It fit my personality,' Brown wrote in his autobiography, 'Basic Brown."

When I was in San Francisco back in 2007, I had a chance encounter with her. I blogged this:
I was traipsing about San Francisco yesterday, and, snapping dozens of pictures, I made my way over to Fillmore Street for a little window shopping. I saw this...


.. and was struggling against the glare and reflections to frame my shot — and also, idiotically, talking on my iPhone — when a woman — who I now understand to be Ruth Garland-Dewson — swept out of the store and flung herself between me and the picture of Barack Obama.

"Are you trying to take a picture of my man?" she said dramatically.

But she wasn't what I for a second thought she was: one of those shopkeepers who are touchy about having their place photographed. She wanted to come out and talk — about Barack Obama and other things as well. I got off my phone conversation and complimented her on the great shop and asked if she had extra large hats. I love women's hats, but since I need a men's extra-large size, I can never find a woman's hat — aside from something stretchy — that fits. She found me what might have been her largest hat, and it almost fit. You know, I should have bought it! It was ocher-colored with a dark purple spiral — a felt hat with a large brim. I think I would have bought it if she'd tried to talk me into it (as so many sales people have nudged me beyond my initial resistance — it's not very hard).

But she wanted to talk about Barack Obama. Do I like him? Yes! I think he's a good man, and that he would be able to do a lot of good. I added, "But I kind of like Giuliani." That was okay with her, it seemed — so long as I don't like Hillary.
I'm sad to read that she's died, and I'm sorry I didn't buy that hat. She was so sociable and nice to me that day. She seemed like she was ready to launch into a conversation with me just because I was the one person who happened to be around just then.

Can you see the printed text in my photograph, above? That's her line, "I would say, 'Go, Obama, you're black enough for me,'" which ended a letter that she had printed in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 1, 2007, reacting to what was then a hot dispute: whether Obama was "black enough."

"[T]here is a growing sense within the Republican political intelligentsia that Christie and only Christie is positioned to solve the major problems that will face the party in 2016."

And: "Christie is increasingly seen as the one candidate who might be able to bridge the divide between the establishment and the tea party that is in the process of ripping the party apart."

Chris Cillizza says as he ranks Christie first among the GOP's possible candidates for 2016.

I interpret those 2 quoted sentences to mean the same thing, which is making 2 inferences:

1. "increasingly seen" = increasingly seen by the Republican political intelligentsia. (It's the intelligentsia that do all the seeing and sensing that matters to pundits like Cillizza.)

2. "the major problems that will face the party in 2016" = "the divide between the establishment and the tea party that is in the process of ripping the party apart." (The tea party is the problem from the perspective of the intelligentsia, right?)

(Also in the ranking: Wisconsin's Scott Walker comes in at #4, up from #7, and the other Wisconsinite, Paul Ryan has fallen from #4 to #9.)

At Bellina's Café...


... there's a place for you too.

Edward Manners the Australian Shepherd

"My Mother Is a Mommyblogger."

I'd like to read some blogs with that titles like that, and I don't want them to be blogs written by mommybloggers in the voice of the children they're writing about.

Mommyblogs have been around for a long time. Haven't some of these kids gotten old enough to acquire the skill and the desire to turn the tables?

If these things don't exist, why don't they exist? If it's because the mothers manage to prevent it, then do they concede that they should not have been writing about their children in the first place? If not, why not?

Mother's effort to prevent you from from countermommyblogging is one more topic to be addressed in the countermommyblogs I'm looking for.

Bill Scher does not accept that it was a lie to say "if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it."

IN THE COMMENTS, pm317 said: "If you like your plan Video montage from NYMag. What did that Scher guy say -- Obama didn't say it like it was some talking point and that he said it because he was asked about it? How dumb can he be?"

"I first heard Linda's record on the radio in Philadelphia, while riding in a limo with the Monkees."

"No one in the car believed I had written the song. Linda did more for that song than the Greenbriar Boys' version. She infused it with a different level of passion and sensuality. Coming from the perspective of a woman instead of a guy, the song had a new context. You sensed Linda had personally experienced the lyrics—that she needed to be free."

Everything you ever wanted to know about "Different Drum."

ADDED: Linda Ronstadt has gone public talking about her Parkinson's Disease:

10 least-impressive details in this NYT "Motherlode" piece by a man who's giving himself permission not to berate himself for being fat.

1. The name of the column is "Motherlode," but it's more Fatherload.

2. The man pauses, shirtless, in the middle of doing a diaper change, to gaze at himself in the mirror and contemplate his body.

3. The recipient of the diaper change is not only old enough to speak in full sentences, but is mature enough to notice his father's self-esteem issues and to boost his ego with a line — "You look great" — that's in the traditional category "Things men say to their wives" not "Things sons say to their fathers." (The latter category should not include any complete sentences delivered during diaper changes. "Things sons say to their fathers" during diaper changes should consist of little more than "da da.")

4. A grown man, who tells us he's not overweight, not only shames himself over his body, he shames himself for shaming himself and calls it "body bullying."

5. A grown man who's ashamed of his self-shaming attempts to counteract the shameful shaming by engaging in another, presumably better form of obsessing about his body which he labels "ironic 'fat talk.'"

6. It's not until the 10th paragraph that we learn he is not married to the mother of the diaper-using 2-year-old boy, and the way we find out is through one of the examples of his "ironic 'fat talk.'" He says he's "fond of asking my lady friend if clothing items are 'gripping my curves.'" Lady friend. You have a child, man. And you think banter with your girlfriend will amuse us? We're reading the "Motherlode" column, and we're still wondering about this poor boy and the effect on him. We don't enjoy this sudden appearance of the coyly named "lady friend"!

7. Finally, in paragraph 12, we get concern for the boy, which comes in the form of worrying about his inheriting the dad's physical and mental tendencies (putting on weight and self-shaming).  The concern about the contagion of bad personality traits almost immediately brings this man back to his own needs: "And at what point does being a good parent and setting a good example drain us of our personalities?"

8. His realization that he needs to refrain from self-shaming for the sake of his son immediately brings this man back to benefits for himself: "I’ll think more positively about my body and myself."

9. He's picked up that "my body, myself" duality that's been pandered to women since the 1970s. You are your body, mister. Deal with it.

10. The last 3 paragraphs don't even mention the boy. They're only about the man and his "lady friend."


Upworthy has some interesting pictures from a British department store catalog and the headline is "A Catalog That Believes Reality Can Sell Clothes Better Than Photoshop." But is this "reality" or is just another kind of sensationalism? The first picture makes a nice bigger-is-better argument, but that bigger lady is fabulously large and even she has one leg angled forward and a strategically placed sarong to improve the proportions. And why the amputee models? Because of reality?

Let's take a look at the news stories that have crowded Obama's woes off the front page.

At right now, there's a welter of stories on topics like the improved politeness of Russian service employees, a policy disagreement between Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill over how to handle claims of sexual assault in the military, and the YouTube Music Awards.  See the list after the jump, and then answer my poll.

November 1, 2013

At the Big Dog Café...


... you can talk all night.


"If you believe the healthy are entitled to keep the financial benefits of their good health, then you must also believe the sick must be denied medical care."

Writes Jonathan Chait in a New York Magazine piece titled "Why Letting Everyone Keep Their Health-Care Plan Is a Terrible Idea."

Chait concedes that Obama et al. lied when they promised that people could keep their plans if they like them, but wants us to look separately at whether those who had and wanted to keep their low-cost, low-coverage plans should feel that's it's unfair not to be able to have plans like that. Can you separate these 2 things? I have 2 problems with separating these 2 things.

Another Barry Blitt New Yorker cover about Obama.

"When I heard that the troubled Obamacare Web site was built by a Canadian company, of course I felt personally responsible," says Blitt (because he's from Canada). "I’ll be happy when the glitches are all worked out and everything’s running smoothly, so I can put this all behind me."

Nice drawing. The sentiment is rather stickily sweet for the circumstances, but it's The New Yorker, shoring up support for the once-beloved President.

"I got cut off, yelled at, screamed on. The moderator tried gently to intervene, to ask the brother to let me speak, to wait his turn."

"To model allyship. To listen. But to no avail. The brother kept on screaming about his commitment to women, about all he had 'done for us,' about how I wasn’t going to erase his contributions. Then he raised his over 6 foot tall, large brown body out of the chair, and deliberately slung a cup of water across my lap, leaving it to splash in my face, on the table, on my clothes, and on the gadgets I brought with me."

Wrote Rutgers professor Brittney Cooper, describing her experience on a panel at the Brecht Forum on the topic of "ally, privilege, and comrade," quoted by Mychal Denzel Smith in a column at The Nation titled "There Is Still Misogyny in Progressive Movements."

I don't know who the water-slinger was, and I don't mean to excuse aqua-violence, but I can't tell from Cooper's description that the man's anger arose from his misogyny. It sounds more like anger at being called a misogynist.

I've never believed the notion that left-wing politics and feminism overlap all that much, and anyone who thinks they do should brush up on the history. There's plenty of shallow feminism amongst lefties who know they're supposed to toe the line, and it's not surprising that they're dismayed to hear that they haven't done enough. Progressivism is about doing things, and there's always more to be done, so how could you possibly have done enough?

"Cooking with hay may be increasingly fashionable…"

"… but its origins are far from sophisticated and most likely date back to medieval England and France, where cooking 'au foin' (with hay) was a practical way to deal with dried grass."
Teddy Diggs, the executive chef at Ripple in Washington, D.C., smokes a handful of dishes with hay, but also utilizes it as an ingredient in a few notable entrees. His smoked goat casoncelli…. features hay-smoked goat as well as a hay reduction…. “For me,” Diggs says, “hay implements flavor and sets a back note, as well as the stage for everything to work around it.”

"I am neither a man nor a woman. I will remain the patchwork created by doctors, bruised and scarred."

Said the type of person who is the reason for the new law in Germany that allows parents to leave the "gender" line blank on birth certificates.

"Exploiting men for meals is tough. I have to put up with a lot of bad conversation..."

"... and to be honest for awhile there I didn’t think I was up for the challenge... Yes, I had some good food but was it really worth my time?"

Since you did it, it was worth it to you, and since they did it with you, it was worth it to them too. The market decided. Now, go forth and shop for what you want now.

"Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!"

"Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature."
He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air. Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life.

Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.
For reference: This isn't Lou, but is the 21 form:

"We are the go-to daily news and culture site for the Change Generation..."

"... bringing you up to speed on what happened in the last 24 hours and vaulting you ahead by previewing new people, places, ideas and trends in bite-sized original articles that are intelligent, compelling and stylish."

Don't know why I went there again. I'm not in the Change Generation, whatever that is. Can anyone bring me up to speed on that and vault me ahead to anything of any interest whatsoever... like a remedy for nausea?

"I have plenty of reservations about everything Obama’s doing now – I’m not so into domestic drones, I’m not so into spying."

Said the artist Shepard Fairey, whose advertisement for "HOPE" conned the world.

I did a Google images search on "hope" and Fairey's poster did not come up first. This did. It didn't even come up second. This bullshit did. It didn't even come up third. This treacle did. This dumb thing was fourth. And this insipidity came up fifth. Some lady's hands offering us "hope" written on a piece of paper is sixth. 7-13 are also not Fairey's Obama poster. 14 is a parody of the Obama poster:

I had to go all the way to the 18th hit to get to the Obama poster:

And here's the Wikipedia article on "Hope."
Hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or in the world at large....
What a bad idea for a political slogan. Obviously... now.

Obama's name comes up near the top of this article, right next to this diagram:

We're told of some book that examines "Dealers in Hope," including Obama (and Moses) and says that a leader can "Lead Change and Shape Culture" "by creating a hopescape and harnessing the hope system," and if you look again at the diagram, you'll see the "hope diamond" to be made from that lump of coal labeled "adversity." Just get some voice and promises vectors going into your imagination machine.

I'm having trouble reading Ana Marie Cox's "Dear Senate women: grow up and don't pass Hillary Clinton 'secret notes.'"

I don't know. Maybe it's because she's writing in The Guardian now. This could be some British way of writing that just can't make it into my American mind. Anyway, Cox — going on about a letter 17 female Senators wrote to Hillary Clinton urging her to run for President — is working with the premise that "male representatives are boys and women are the grown-ups." That premise is not the part I'm having trouble with. I understand it. I understand it as: Feminism-as-sexism is funny; come on, give us a little room to get in some harmless girly slaps after all the millennia of suffering.

But let's move on. Cox writes:
No one in the media has seen the letter, so I guess it's possible that it contains some kind of burn-book-level intel: Jeff Session (Alabama Republican senator) is a grotsy little byotch, Lindsay Graham (South Carolina Republican senator) made out with a hot dog, Ted Cruz (Tea Party Texan) is almost too conservative to be anything but a robot. 
"Grotsy" isn't even in Urban Dictionary, but I understand it. It's like "grotty," which was understandable as a variation of grotesque when the British comedian George Harrison said it in "Hard Day's Night." Grotsy is as understandable as ugsly.

(Maybe the "s" absconded from "Sessions," which she has as "Session.") [ADDED: Commenters say it should be "grotsky," and the phrase "grotsky little byotch" is from "Mean Girls."]

I understand the rest of those insults and why it's funny to just make up insults about Republicans to pad out a column and why — when you're talking about Republicans — it's okay to apply the mustard of homophobia. That's all well within the rules of American political humor.

The Obamacare website doesn't show which plans cover abortion.

NPR reports:
The issue came up Wednesday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified on Capitol Hill.

"If someone, a constituent of mine or someone in this country has strongly held pro-life views, can you commit to us to make sure that the federal exchanges that offer that is clearly identified and so people can understand if they're going to buy a policy that has abortion coverage or not?" asked Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. "Because right now, you cannot make that determination."

Sebelius appeared to be caught off guard by the question.

"I don't know," Sebelius replied. "I know exactly the issue you're talking about — I will check and make sure that is clearly identifiable."
So she knows the issue. She'd have to know that. She knows people care intensely about this. But she purports not to know whether the website discloses this information? Why didn't she attend to the responsibility to enable people to avoid policies that cover abortion? NPR reminds that that it was "part of the deal that got the law passed."

Let's remember that the law just barely passed. Go back in time and replace the assurance about this one point with the truth about what would happen, and would the law have passed? Continue this thought experiment, replace each point of encouragement — e.g., the $2,500 savings, the promise that you can keep what you have — with what we now understand to be true. This law only passed because of a profound violation of democratic principles. At this point, I'd say that the congressional Democrats and the President have a moral obligation to reopen the legislative process.

October 31, 2013

In the NYC stop-and-frisk case, the 2d Circuit said the district judge Shira Scheindlin created an "appearance of partiality."

It stayed her order and removed her from the case.

The appellate court's 2-page ruling cited this NYT article in a footnote to criticize Scheindlin for the way the related-case rule has directed stop-and-frisk cases against the police to her ever since 1999, when she was randomly assigned the case dealing with the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. The NYT had this (last May):

The Democratic Party's Halloween-themed email: the "Nightmare" of Ted Cruz as President.

Received this afternoon from, with the subject line "Senator President Cruz":

"Obama Officials In 2010: 93 Million Americans Will Be Unable To Keep Their Health Plans Under Obamacare."


Are Republicans following a "don't be mean" strategy, and — if so — is a good strategy?

Yesterday Rush Limbaugh was complaining about the Republicans in Congress not going after Kathleen Sebelius.
She was sent out there today to absorb every bit of damage... but I don't know that the Republicans did much damage.

It's like they're afraid to. It's like there's still a fear of going after Obama, or going after Sebelius, just from the consultant level of the party or whoever's running the Republican Party. There seems to be some instruction that's gone out from on high to back off. "Don't even get close to making it look like it's personal! Don't be mean!... don't be critical, 'cause this thing's imploding itself, and it'll go down"...
But isn't that a good strategy for the GOP? Stand back and let Obamacare topple on its own. Don't give the Democrats the opportunity to blame Republicans or to distract people with their old go-to strategy: Portraying Republicans as mean.

Rush would prefer Republicans getting aggressive. Sebelius is "clearly the punching bag." "She's a sponge. She's supposed to soak it up and smile and take it." Riiight. Punching the 65-year-old lady is the way to go. Seems to me that if they sent her out there to be a "punching bag" (or sponge!) they were hoping Republicans would take hard enough shots to make her sympathetic. Which she so far is not.

Obviously, though, avoiding anything that anyone can ever call mean is a hopelessly ineffectual approach to a competition. Interestingly enough, it's something that has traditionally impeded females. And it's not even a good way to avoid meanness, this fear of being perceived as mean.

Years ago, my sons and I overheard a young girl yelling — over and over to someone who must have called her mean — "I don't want to be mean!" For years, in our house, we'd use that line "I don't want to be mean!" for various humorous purposes. Why are some people so shaken up, so manipulated by the horrible possibility that they might be mean?

So what should the congressional Republicans be doing? How to be effectual without fueling the other side's "Republicans are mean" game?

"I want to dust mop the floor."/"The front paw makes me want to eat ramen noodles."

"Nice view of the roof of her mouth."/"Getting that camera angle really low."/"The hair and the grass go together."/"Jeez, this is relaxing."/"There's grass on her tongue."

Things I said on first viewing Meade's video titled "Josie & Zeus":

Facebook is looking to collect data on where your cursor hovers and clicks.

Says Facebook analytics chief Ken Rudin, whose face looks like this:

At least he can't track my eyes and read my mind as I look at him.

Record the closest approximation of your thoughts. free polls 

AND: You remember the past?

Poopy suits.

From the Navy's FAQ about submarines: Question #26 — out of 61 — "What clothes do you wear?"
When in port, crew members wear regular Navy uniforms. At sea, members wear one-piece blue coveralls called "poopy suits." They are very comfortable to wear and reduces the number of clothes the sailor has to bring to sea. Submarine crews usually wear sneakers or other soft bottomed shoes when at sea, as sound quieting and stealth are always foremost in a submariner's mind.

Huge oil discovery in Australia — more than in all of Iran, Iraq, Canada, or Venezuela...

... and about equal to Saudi Arabia.

ADDED: Link deleted based on comments about a sales pitch from the link.

The nightmare of flying just got a little more complicated.

"The Federal Aviation Administration will allow airlines to expand passengers' use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight, the agency announced today, but cell phone calls will still be prohibited," says a "Breaking News" email from CNN.

I'm guessing the cell phones are still prohibited because we really cannot tolerate a plane full of people yakking on their cell phones. And yet... flying on a plane is an ordeal in the toleration of other people. Those of us who are too sensitive to endure it are not on that plane, which means that if you are, you're there with a plane full of insensitive people.

"We use transgender as an umbrella term that includes people who are transsexual, cross-dressers or otherwise gender non-conforming."

A definition in the sidebar of an article titled "The Heart Wants What It Wants" — supertitled "We Are as We Are" and "Dating Trans?," which is teased on the front page of this new website Ozy under the heading "Tricky Topic: Dating a Transgender Person/Have attitudes about the fluidity of gender migrated much on the T in LGBT?"

For a website with a 3-letter name, that's an awful lot of titles, dragging us this way and that. What caught my eye — among the many things clamoring to catch eyes — was that side-bar definition that I used for the post title. That made me think: Who's not under that umbrella? Only people who are gender-conforming, which in my book — who wants to be a conformist, a gender stereotype? — is an insult.

October 30, 2013

WaPo Fact Checker gives 4 "Pinocchios" to Obama's promise that you can keep your health care plan.

Glenn Kessler rejects the excuses and weasling:
[A]s White House spokesman Jay Carney put it: “It’s correct that substandard plans... are no longer allowed — because the Affordable Care Act is built on the premise that health care is not a privilege, it’s a right, and there should be minimum standards for the plans available to Americans across the country.”

But such assertions do not really explain the president’s promise — or Jarrett’s tweet ["FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans."]. There may be a certain percentage of people who were happy with their “substandard” plan, presumably because it cost relatively little....

The president’s statements were sweeping and unequivocal — and made both before and after the bill became law. The White House now cites technicalities to avoid admitting that he went too far in his repeated pledge, which, after all, is one of the most famous statements of his presidency.

I added a couple of clues...

... to that Althouse blog test from a couple days ago.

At Marley's Café...


... we don't want the top post to be about cats.

Those Dell laptops that smell like cat urine? Don't worry.

"The smell is not related to cat urine or any other type of biological contaminant, nor is it a health hazard."

Link goes to a BBC news item that ends "News of the issue spread after a link to the thread was posted to discussion site Reddit," which links to a Reddit thread where the top-rated comment refers to the BBC link to the comments thread and comments like "Clearly BBC journalists like to keep their fingers on the pulse of what's happening. Commendable attitude" and "Or they're desperately scrabbling for a source that isn't 'Marge from St. Ives said so' and don't think people will look too carefully..."

Who's giving up now? Early warning signs.

1. "The Art of Lying Down: A Guide to Horizontal Living," a book by Bernd Brunner that is an "ode to lying down... ranging from the history of the mattress to the 'slow living movement." It "makes an eloquent case for the importance of lying down in a world that values ever greater levels of activity," and presents lying down as "a protest."

2. A New Republic piece by Ben Crair about protesting against excessive activity by staying in bed. "When you’re in bed, everything seems too far away, even the other rooms of your apartment—and I live in a studio. My water intake dropped to almost zero, which I never noticed until I went outside on some errand and found myself desperately thirsty after a few minutes of leisurely walking. One evening, returning home, I planted my right foot on a step in the hallway, and lifted my left foot assuming it would follow, but nope: It went back down exactly where it had started."

3. There's this new essay in The New Yorker by Evgeny Morozov called "Only Disconnect/Two cheers for boredom," that begins with a reverie about a 1903 essay called "The Metropolis and Mental Life," that says closing the shades and "surrendering oneself to one's boredom on the sofa" is good response for people who "are pushed deeper and deeper into the hustle and bustle until eventually they no longer know where their head is." You'll need a subscription to read the whole thing, but I can tell you that Morozov is reading some new books that resonate with that old surrender-to-boredom-and-inactivity theme.

"I am as frustrated and angry as anyone," claims Kathleen Sebelius, apologizing... stalling for time...

"You deserve better. I apologize. I am accountable to you for fixing these problems, and I’m committed to earning your confidence back by fixing the site.”

In the Washington Post account, it says: "She pledged that the glitches are 'fixable.'"

Did she say "glitches"? I'd like to know, because I think they need to move on to a new word. "Glitches" is so 3 weeks ago. It was intended, back then, in the early days of, to calm us... to palliate... and it just doesn't work that way any more.

Also old and increasingly intolerable: politicians claiming to be as or more emotional that the people they are hurting.

At least Sebelius toned it down a step from Obama's "no one is madder than me." It's possible to step it up and present oneself as the angriest person. Even Obama did not go there. He merely said no one is madder. So maybe some people are equally mad. Sebelius's rhetoric seems milder, but in fact, it too is a claim of matching the level of anger of the most angry person.

I know it's the old empathy routine, but I have no empathy for them and their empathy routine. For one thing, these people are actually pretty calm, and given the amount of time they had leading up to the opening of the website, it's not believable that they approached their task with great energy and passion. It seems to me that the timeline was set for political reasons, to skirt the 2012 elections and to make good-seeming things hit at the point when it would help most for the 2014 elections.

For another thing, would you really want the angriest person in the world working on your incredibly complicated technical problems? I know most people don't experience the images in language as concretely as I do, but in my mind, when the President of the United States says there is no one madder than he is, I picture a total lunatic in the White House.

Okay, now, you can pull Kathleen's head out of the teapot. She's joined the fellowship of politicos who assure us they're at the top level of madness.

Hey! Teapot. Nice image:
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked....

Alice had not gone much farther before she came in sight of the house...
The White House....
... it was so large a house that she did not like to go near till she had nibbled some more of the left-hand bit of mushroom.
Yeah, we're calling that "the blue pill." Obama said you're going to need it.
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it; a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep....

"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more."

"You mean you can't take less," said the Hatter; "it's very easy to take more than nothing."...

"At any rate, I'll never go there again!" said Alice, as she picked her way through the wood. "It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!"
So... find a better tea party.

"why do i hate the sound of a dog cleaning itself?"

A search that brought someone to my blog this morning. What makes a person ask that question? You find a licking sound disgusting, but that's not the end of it. You ask why. That could be the beginning of some young person's serious intellectual exploration of human psychology. Or it could be just the next random thing that was just interesting enough to somebody who already had his fingers on the keyboard to do a little Google search.

By the way, the blog post of mine that came up in this Google search is quite helpful, giving you a key word: misphonia.

Bonus: Dog tongue pic, by Meade:


Pianist Maria João Pires horrified, frozen, as the orchestra begins a Mozart concerto other than the Mozart concerto she prepared.

Watch her dismay, and watch the conductor, Riccardo Chailly, push her to go ahead and play the concerto she didn't expect to be playing that night. Watch her regain her composure and play.

And if you're in the mood for more emotion and music, here's a baby listening to her mother sing and displaying an unearthly profundity of response:

Judge reads the local newspaper, gets second thoughts.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
A Milwaukee County judge had permitted the rare use of Wisconsin's "Delayed Registration of Marriage" in allowing the man, George Poniewaz, to avoid a charge that he had committed benefits fraud by getting years of health insurance for someone who wasn't his wife. The judge's ruling was issued after the woman died.

But after he read Poniewaz's convoluted back story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Circuit Judge Kevin Martens, who signed the registration, expressed serious second thoughts....

October 29, 2013

"Law attracts some very bright people. But it is not profound. It is one of the simplest professional fields."

"... The young are analytically sharper than the old but lack experience. In an analytically weak field, experience may be essential to successful problem solving."

Writes Richard Posner, the 74-year-old judge, in his "Reflections on Judging."

AND: In line with this stress on real-world problem-solving is this proposal for law schools:
Law schools should require students who lack a technical background... to take a course in accounting and a course in statistics; a course that places a field or fields of law in its (or their) technological context; and at least one course, elsewhere in the university, of a purely scientific or technical character, such as applied math, statistics, economics (at the level at which it employs calculus and statistical analysis), physics, physiology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, some branch of engineering, or environmental or computer science.... If room needs to be made in the curriculum by cutting or shortening other courses, there is a good place to start: it is called constitutional law. Dominated as it is by the most political court in the land, constitutional law occupies far too large a role in legal education.

Hitchens, animated, contemplates death and the afterlife.

(Via Bloggingheads.)

Scott Walker 47%, Mary Burke 45% — in the Marquette poll for next year's race for Wisconsin Governor.

"That's within the poll's margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, making it 'essentially a tossup,' said the poll's director, Charles Franklin."
The poll indicated that 50% of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Walker and 46% had an unfavorable opinion of him. For Burke, 17% had a favorable view and 14% had an unfavorable view.
Obviously, people don't know much about Burke yet.

"How the Alger Hiss Case Explains the Tea Party."

By Cass Sunstein.
Most of those who have carefully studied the case, and who have explored evidence emerging long after the trial itself, have concluded that [Whittaker] Chambers was telling the truth and that Hiss did indeed perjure himself....

Chambers’ broader charge -- that liberalism was a species of socialism, “inching its ice cap over the nation” -- polarized the nation. His attack on the patriotism of the Ivy League elite reflected an important strand in American culture, and it helped to initiate suspicions that persist to this day.
Rush Limbaugh was just talking about Alger Hiss last month:
The Democrat Party and the left of the day loved Alger Hiss, and they hated Nixon for exposing him.  To this day, Nixon is hated for having exposed -- successfully exposed -- Alger Hiss as a communist spy working in the State Department.  He was at the high levels, and Nixon got him, and they hated Nixon for it....

At the Pink Spiked Café...


... we're out looking for trouble.

"Why China is turning to 'trial by television' in sensitive cases."

“This is a step backward for China.... This is law enforcement by political campaign; it is a political matter, not a legal one.”

"Chubby military personnel are getting liposuction to pass Pentagon's body fat test."

One plastic surgeon says "They come in panicked about being kicked out or getting a demerit that will hurt their chances at a promotion."

Another plastic surgeon says: "I've actually had commanders recommend it to their troops... They'll deny that if you ask them. But they know some people are in really good shape and unfortunately are just built wrong."

Sucking out some fat is a stopgap, desperate effort at approximating fitness. And yet the pressure is on to change the standards:
Fitness experts and doctors agree, and are calling for the military's fitness standards to be revamped, including the weight tables the Pentagon uses. They say the tables are outdated and do not reflect that Americans are bigger, though not necessarily less healthy.
Of course, Americans will lap up this expert opinion, along with every other item of comfort food on the plate.

The news from Madison, Wisconsin — as told in 3 headlines.

The Times of Israel: "Wisconsin man accused of beating Hebrew-speakers."

The Huffington Post: "Dumb American Accidentally Assaults Wrong Ethnic Group: Police Report."

Global Grind: "So This Happened: American Assaults 2 Hebrew-Speaking Men He Believed Were Speaking Spanish."

"That's an incredibly annoying song. Why are you playing that?"

I ask, and Meade says: "This is 'A Song To Play Every Time You See A Sexist, Racist, Or Homophobic Comment Online.'"

Me: "I would rather be called a 'fucking cunt' than have to listen to that song."

If you want to hear the chirpy irritatingness that I heard, you'll have to go — warning: it's Upworthy — here.

"Cleveland State Law Profs File Unfair Labor Practice Charge Alleging That 'Satanic' $666 Merit Pay Raise Was Retaliation for Union Activities."

"Faculty were placed in four merit raise bands — $5,000, $3,000, $666, and $0 — based on scholarship and scholarly influence (40%), teaching as measured by student evaluations (40%), and service (20%).... In a memo distributed to the central administration and copied to the entire faculty, one of the eight AAUP organizers alleges that:"
[The $666 figure] is a universally understood symbol of the Antichrist or Devil — one of our culture's most violent religious images. Implicitly, but unmistakably and obviously intentionally, [the Dean] used his powers to set faculty salaries as an occasion to brand his perceived opponents as the Antichrist.
What do you think of the $666 raise? free polls 

Judge Posner wrote a whole book and was, he says, surprised when everybody fixated on one sentence.

The "I plead guilty" one:
The sentence runs from the bottom of page 84 to the top of page 85, in a chapter entitled “The Challenge of Complexity.” The sentence reads in its entirety: “I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo ID—a type of law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” (The footnote provides the name and citation of the opinion: Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 472 F.3d 949 (7th Cir. 2007), affirmed, 553 U.S. 181 (2008).)
And now he has to write a whole article to explain to the damned cherry-pickers what it means in context. Of course, he can't be surprised that any sentence that can be used by people who already have things they want to say will be used, especially on a hot issue like voter ID. Anything you say in a book of law can and will be used against you.

A judge doesn't have to write a book revealing ways of thinking about the cases that don't show up in the written opinions. He has a right to refuse to write anything other than the required cases, clamped into the conventions of judicial opinion writing.

But Judge Posner obviously loves to write his books. Who puts out more outside-of-the-opinions writings about what's really going on in the opinions than Richard Posner? He must love even when people get things wrong. People are talking about his writings, and that creates an occasion for more writing, and then people will talk about that too, as we're doing now.

All the best to the great Judge Posner — understood or misunderstood — innocent or guilty. Thanks for all the books, including the new one, "Reflections on Judging," which I'm downloading so I can — I plead guilty! — rip sentences out of context and work my will on them, cranking out the verbiage in this grand fellowship of graphomania.

October 28, 2013

"Are Unmarried People Bad for the Economy?"

A Gallup-poll-instigated question.

When Obama said if you like your insurance, you can keep it, he knew millions would not be able to keep it.

Says NBC.

What if anti-bullying campaigns...

... encourage suicide?

"Any time I hear the wind blow..."

"... it will whisper the name Edna."

An Althouse blog test.

Here's a picture:

What does it mean?

ADDED: A starting point.

AND: "Meade, is that really you with the green pants? Cute, I love hipsters with skinny legs."

"Jodie Gummow, a 'senior fellow' at, takes a feminist cheap shot at America."

"The World Economic Forum released its annual Global Gender Gap Report for 2013 measuring gender disparity between men and women around the world . . . and disappointingly the United States didn't even make it in the top 20!"

Federal judge finds part of the new Texas abortion law unconstitutional.

"... Judge Lee Yeakel of United States District Court in Austin declared that 'the act’s admitting-privileges provision is without a rational basis and places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.'"
Texas was the 12th state to adopt a 20-week ban, which legal experts say is in conflict with Supreme Court decisions granting a right to abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at around 24 weeks. Courts have blocked such measures in the three states where they have been challenged, but they remain in effect in others.

At the Autumn Café...


... don't forget to look up. But watch out for the troll:


He might be taking pictures:

Banksy graffitis protest against the NYT for rejecting his op-ed mocking the new World Trade Center tower.

I got to his website from the NY Post, via Drudge, which takes at face value the statement "Today’s piece was going to be an op-ed column in the New York Times. But they declined to publish what I supplied. Which was this..."

Banksy's post says it was to be an op-ed, but it's not in the format of an op-ed. It's presented in the form of a front-page news story about the artist's opinion, not a column written by the artist, so I take it the mock-up of the NYT is just another artwork, a viral promo pointing to his graffiti (a photograph of which you can see at the first link, above).

But let's read the text anyway. Part of me resists artists who elbow me for attention, but that's not the part of me writing this blog post. We might ask: If this is in fact a rejected op-ed, why was it rejected? Well, obviously, it says "you've got to do something about the new World Trade Center," and that's too close to saying: Knock this one down too. It continues: "That building is a disaster," and how can you not think he's trying to do edgy comedy calling up memories of the disaster of September 11, 2001? The next line makes that obvious: "Well no, disasters are interesting."

Yeah, Artist Boy? Well, take your interestingness and go to hell.

That's my reaction after reading 2 paragraphs. But then I read on, and guess what? Artist Boy, self-professed lover of interestingness, goes on to natter out criticisms of the building that have all been aired extensively in the media as the reconstruction of the site has been debated over the years. Is Banksy familiar with any of that, or did he just wander over to America to start talking off the top of his head as if any of his thoughts are probably interesting?

I know. There seems to be a paradox: Why am I blogging about this if I don't find it interesting? It can't be interesting to say something is not interesting, can it? Yes, I'd say it is, if people are already acting as if it is interesting.

The plot to fit cars with devices to transmit your mileage to the government, so it can tax you based on miles driven.

Forget privacy. Privacy fails in the balance against the need to penalize you for getting a fuel-efficient car.

If you spend $1 million on your defense lawyer, how can you credibly claim you didn't even get the constitutional minimum, effective assistance of counsel?

Cynics will say, the way to do that is: 1. Get convicted because a well-paid lawyer wasn't able to persuade a jury to see reasonable doubt, and 2. Pay more money for more lawyers and persuade a judge of what you need to overturn the conviction. And super-cynics will add: 3. Be a Kennedy.

But just because you paid a million dollars doesn't mean your lawyer was any good. Michael Skakel picked a TV-talking-lawyer-head. And maybe that's exactly the screw-up a Kennedy would make — mistaking superficial appearance and fame and money for competence.

"The Lighter Side of Copyright Infringement."

Appropriating the panels Dave Berg drew for MAD and replacing the word balloons. (Via Metafilter.)

National Lampoon did it in 1971, and "'in 1991 or 1992,' Sam Henderson and some unnamed friends put together a zine titled The Lighter Side of Copyright Infringement, featuring Berg MAD art with rewritten, raunchy words in the balloons. (Henderson is proud that they found a font similar to MAD’s mechanical typography.)" And:

Thought experiment: To fix Obamacare, Obama should bring in Mitt Romney.

Yes, the arguments against this rush to mind:

1. Romney is a member of the opposition party... but that's also a plus: We could have a real show of bipartisanship and of genuinely wanting to make this legislation work for the benefit of the American people, not just to make it look good at the right times and in the right ways to bolster the power of the Democratic Party.

2. When he was running for President, Romney said he wanted to repeal Obamacare...  but he was working with the preferences of the GOP base and needed to win the nomination. He distanced himself from his history of making Romneycare work by saying he'd been Governor of Massachusetts, working with the preferences of the people of Massachusetts. This suggests that he's a practical, able man who understands the task he's been assigned and sincerely applies his expertise.

3. Romney wouldn't want to help Obama, who defeated him in the election... but Romney's image is of a public servant who wants to do good works for the benefit of all. He isn't — or at least shouldn't — want to seem like a guy with a grudge.

4. Romney should stand clear of the spectacular collapse of Obamacare. Really? Isn't this like his signature achievement, saving the Olympics? The magnitude of the disaster and the importance of avoiding it are exactly what should attract Romney. "He saved the Olympics and he saved Obamacare" — wouldn't he want that legacy?

5. Obama wouldn't want Romney showing up on the scene now as the savior. Obama is too narcissistic, too peevish to call out to the older man for help. Maybe. But Obama would be the President, and he could look very magnanimous and wise. He could finally seem to be doing what a lot of us thought he was about when we voted for him in 2008 — bringing us together.

6. Everyone, right and left, would cry out in horror or at least puzzlement. And what a distraction that would be.

"60 Minutes had an absolutely devastating report on the Obama administration’s failure to protect Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans in Benghazi."

Writes Professor Jacobson, observing that "the heart of the report is that there were clear and unequivocal warnings which were ignored, and the Obama administration lied about these warnings after the attack."

Here's the video:

From the transcript:
Andy Wood: I made it known in a country team meeting, "You are gonna get attacked. You are gonna get attacked in Benghazi. It's gonna happen. You need to change your security profile.... Shut down operations. Move out temporarily. Ch-- or change locations within the city. Do something to break up the profile because you are being targeted. They are-- they are-- they are watching you. The attack cycle is such that they're in the final planning stages."

Lara Logan: Wait a minute, you said, "They're in the final planning stages of an attack on the American mission in Benghazi"?

Andy Wood: It was apparent to me that that was the case. Reading, reading all these other, ah, attacks that were occurring, I could see what they were staging up to, it was, it was obvious. We have learned the U.S. already knew that this man, senior al Qaeda leader Abu Anas al-Libi was in Libya, tasked by the head of al Qaeda to establish a clandestine terrorist network inside the country. Al-Libi was already wanted for his role in bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa.

October 27, 2013

CBS doesn't know the difference between J. Edgar Hoover and Herbert Hoover.

Today's "Face the Nation" had host Bob Shieffer interviewing Philip Shenon, author of "A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination." At one point, Shenon was talking about a memo FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote to the Warren Commission. Check out the ludicrous graphic at 0:21:

That's not J. Edgar Hoover! That's President Herbert Hoover!

Oh, journalism! What has become of you?

"Lou Reed, a massively influential songwriter and guitarist who helped shape nearly fifty years of rock music, died today."

"The cause of his death has not yet been released, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May."

He was 71.

I'm so sad to hear this. He has meant a lot to me for more than 40 years.

At Eddie's Café...

Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland

... you can talk about anything you want.

Embarrassingly lame joke Jennifer Granholm had ready for her "Meet the Press" effort to buck up support for Obamacare.

"First of all, the President is so mad about about this that he himself with go down and supervise the writing of code if this is not fixed by the end of November."

That's not just lame, actually. It's enraging. Who cares how mad Obama is? It's not like his overflowing emotions are fixing anything. Is his anger supposed to work as a painkiller when what we want is a cure? I think of this:

Quite beyond the irritating palliative medicine of Obama's choler, there's the flaunting of rank incompetence. Obama supervising the writing of code?! He knows nothing about writing code. The notion that he'd select himself as the supervisor of an activity about which he lacks any expertise only heightens our suspicion that he's been selecting the wrong people all along.

"Ted Cruz goes pheasant hunting in Iowa and says government shutdown was good 'because it got people talking.'"

Because Iowa's where you go to hunt pheasants.

I was going to write "Because Iowa's where you go to hunt peasants pheasants," on the theory that "peasant" isn't really an insult. It just means rural folk, but I looked it up in the (unlinkable) OED and changed my mind. It's been a term of abuse since the 1500s. My favorite abusive and old quote from the OED is:
1612 J. Taylor Laugh & be Fat sig. D7, Thou ignoble horse-rubbing peasant,..being but a vilipendious mechanical Hostler.
Horse-rubbing! I think I know know what that means. But how about vilipendious? It means contemptible. I looked it up in the OED and the only example of its ever having been used was "Thou ignoble horse-rubbing peasant,..being but a vilipendious mechanical Hostler."

Anyway, that ignoble, vilipendious, horse-rubbing peasant Ted Cruz seems to be running for President.

"A beard is a celebration of nature that brings appearance closer to that of untamed human animals..."

"... a Rousseau-esque gesture that was crucial to the age of Aquarius, a time when long-established norms of behavior collapsed and made public life a clearer expression of formerly unspeakable private desires. By contrast, the shaven and crew-cut athlete suggests a martial fury that is joyless—a grim, self-denying efficiency that may work in war but is exactly the opposite of the essence of baseball, which, for all its competitive ardor, is playtime...."

Just be careful that beard doesn't obstruct anybody.

(Wow, in the GIF at that second link, Middlebrooks looks like he's dancing The Worm.)

ADDED: "Immediately after we got off the field into our locker room, we congratulated Jim and said, 'Great call.' It's out of the ordinary, but when it happens, and it's the World Series, you expect to get it right."

Did God prank-call Scott Walker?

Slate columnist David Weigel has a piece titled "Why Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Credits God for his Political Success." Weigel has Walker's new memoir, "Unintimidated," which has a bit in it about something we talked about back in February 2011 (during the big protests): A prankster pretending to be David Koch got through on the phone to Scott Walker, who talked to him for a while, even as he said things like "You gotta crush that union" to try to get Walker to blurt out something that would be used against him. From Weigel's summary:
[W]hen Murphy/Koch asked about the wisdom of “planting some troublemakers,” Walker said his team had “thought about that” but dismissed it.
Walker haters used that "planting some troublemakers" business as much as they could. (In March 2011, when Meade was physically attacked by protesters, a woman pointed and said "These are Walker plants.")

Back to Weigel, summarizing Walker:
The governor claims that he “hesitated” to take it, and “was upset that my staff had let the call get through to my office, making me look so silly.” He never actually “thought about” the fake troublemakers—he now writes that he “did not want to insult Mr. Koch by saying that we would never do something so stupid.”...

“Only later did I realize that God had a plan for me with that episode,” writes Walker. After his press conference, he picked up his daily devotional and saw the title for Feb. 23: The power of humility, the burden of pride.

“I looked up and said, ‘I hear you, Lord,’” writes Walker. “God was sending me a clear message to not do things for personal glory or fame. It was a turning point that helped me in future challenges, helped me stay focused on the people I was elected to serve, and reminded me of God’s abundant grace and the paramount need to stay humble.”
I can't really tell if Weigel (or the Slate headline writers) think Walker is getting too religion-y here and is claiming that God has special messages and plans for him. (Is Scott Walker a God plant?) I can't even tell if Walker is honestly describing his stages of processing the unpleasant incident. But I do think this account is conventional, mainstream religion. Something bad happens, and you realize that God had a plan. You extract a lesson that lightens the burden from the past and redirects you toward a future.

You don't even need God in the mix to indulge in this sort of positive thinking. What doesn't kill atheists makes them stronger — don't you know?

But Walker haters are going to want to use his religion talk against him. They use anything they can against him. I'm going to be looking out for this, because there's a tendency amongst the media elite to mock religion, to assume — like a governor assuming he's got true supporter on the phone — that everyone they're talking to thinks that anyone who feels God's presence in his life is weird, scary, and surely not to be trusted with the levers of power. They're quite wrong. Especially if they are writing on the internet, where everyone sees what they are saying.

And 90% of Americans believe in God — or as Gallup charmingly puts it "More Than 9 in 10 Americans Continue to Believe in God/Professed belief is lower among younger Americans, Easterners, and liberals." (I love the "Continue to," which implies: Come on, people, after all the evidence, what's your problem?!)