November 9, 2013

"Since 2008, the financial industry has changed the way it does business. Can the S.E.C.’s Mary Jo White control it?"

A great article in The New Yorker by Nicholas Lemann. Excerpt:
Banks and hedge funds hire high-priced computer engineers to write algorithms that can predict minor, transitory movements in the markets—for example, by continuously comparing the prices of stocks and derivatives. Then they place orders on the electronic exchanges, hoping to make a small amount per share. They rarely hold a position for long. Because companies’ algorithms are written to behave similarly, the way to make money in high-frequency trading is to get the order to the exchange ahead of the competition’s, by microseconds, which are millionths of a second. An electronic signal is transmitted from Cage 06504 to Cage 06505 a few hundred microseconds faster than an electronic signal is sent from Manhattan. Recently, James Barksdale, the first C.E.O. of Netscape, started a company called Spread Networks, which built a fibre-optic cable from New York to Chicago, in order to offer its customers a three-millisecond advantage in the time it takes an order to travel from one city to the other.

Black widow spider in a container of grapes at a Milwaukee supermarket.

"I saw the legs moving frantically... I've seen bugs on fruit before, and I thought, 'That is a very big spider.' Nothing I'd ever seen before."
Black widow spiders, which build webs in grape vineyards to capture insects, have occasionally been found in supermarket grapes since the mid-1990s. That's when growers came under pressure to cut back on insecticide use because of high levels of pesticide residue on grapes...

Reports of black widow spiders on grapes have popped up in the past few months in Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota.

"To African Americans on the Dolphins, [Jonathan] Martin was a 6-foot-5, 312-pound oddball because his life experience was radically different from theirs."

"It’s an old story among African Americans. Too often, instead of celebrating what makes us different and learning from each other, we criticize more educated or affluent African Americans for not 'keeping it real.'"

A black WaPo columnist criticizes black football players for siding with their white teammate and not the black teammate (whose parents both went to Harvard, and whose father is a college dean and mother is a lawyer).

ADDED: The Daily News interviewed the Giants' Lawrence Taylor:
"Martin wouldn't be allowed back in my locker room... I understand Incognito may be a bad guy, but all that stuff should have stayed in the locker room. I don't know if I would let Incognito back in the locker room either, but he would be allowed back in my locker room before the other guy would. They are texting each other like two women. I don't understand that.... If you are that sensitive and weak-minded, then find another profession.... That's the way I feel about it. This is the NFL. This is football. This is not table tennis. This is not golf. I don't know how you bully a 350-pound player."...

"The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, historically referred to as the 'Big Blow,' the 'Freshwater Fury,' or the 'White Hurricane,' was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin..."

"... in the Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario from November 7 through November 10, 1913" — 100 years ago.
The deadliest and most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes, the Great Lakes Storm killed more than 250 people, destroyed 19 ships, and stranded 19 others....

From 8:00 p.m. to midnight [on November 9th], the storm became what modern meteorologists call a "weather bomb." Sustained hurricane-speed winds of more than 70 mph (110 km/h) ravaged the four western lakes....

In retrospect, weather forecasters of the time did not have enough data or understanding of atmospheric dynamics to predict or comprehend the events of Sunday, November 9. Frontal mechanisms, referred to then as "squall lines," were not yet understood.

"I am in trouble here. I am dying, I am dead."

Last words of a man who took a swig of liquid that turned out to be liquid meth and not the "fruit-based drink" that we're told it "appeared to be," in this Daily Mail article that's decorated — semi-irrelevantly — with images from the TV show "Breaking Bad."

Chuck Todd thinks Obama should do a town hall meeting, maybe with Bobby Jindal or Rick Perry.

This came up during a conservative radio show that followed the sedate interview Todd did with the President the other day:
I actually think he would benefit from just simply doing some town halls and not White House-screened town halls with supporters, but doing, you know, going back, essentially letting some folks vent, letting some folks vent, handling the vent a little bit....

Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich did that joint town hall back in ’96, in ’97 in New Hampshire. It was a big, it was a good moment, frankly, for both of them. At the time, it ended up helping Clinton more than helping Newt, but it was sort of, that’s another way you could do this.
Todd says Clinton wasn't "afraid" to do that kind of "political theater," but Obama? "It’s not that President Obama is, it’s just not, well, I mean, if you went to law school with him, you know." Ha. Todd has trouble finding his way out of that sentence so he throws it over to the radio host, Carol Platt Liebau, who'd earlier mentioned that she "was on the Harvard Law Review with him, and when criticized, he really did used to bristle a bit." And this awkward little dialogue happens:
CPL: Yeah.
CT: I mean, that’s not what he, that’s not his…
CPL: Comfort zone.
CT: …comfort zone. He’d rather be in a lecture hall.
And CPL moves on to the next topic.

White conservative male wins in an "overwhelmingly black" district after running a campaign that implied that he was black.

KHOU Houston reports:
His fliers were decorated with photographs of smiling African-American faces -- which he readily admits he just lifted off websites -- and captioned with the words "Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson."

One of his mailers said he was "Endorsed by Ron Wilson," which longtime Houston voters might easily interpret as a statement of support from a former state representative of the same name who's also African-American. Fine print beneath the headline says "Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins," a reference to one of Wilson's relatives living in Iowa.


A very sweet Lab, seen here with Meade:


Here's Meade's video clip:

Sunny is blind:


Terrier and Terror.

I, not Meade, am the videographer here:

After Twitter got so many people blogging short, Medium means to lure us back to blogging long.

A NYT article about Evan Williams, a Twitter co-founder, whose new project, Medium, is a return to old-school blogging, which some of us never left.
Mr. Williams... says he’s reaching back to the once-du jour notion of blogging because, in the frenzy to build social communications tools, something has been left behind: rationality....

"One subject that gets barely a mention in 'Double Down' — because it played virtually no role in the 2012 campaign — is race."

"In a book that aspires to be, and largely succeeds in being, the dispositive (or do I mean definitive?) account of the election, that may be the most remarkable fact of all," writes Michael Kinsley in a review of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's new book (which follows on their "Game Change," about the 2008 election).

Most of the review mocks their idiosyncratic writing style, which apparently inexplicably uses weird words — like "acuminate" and "coriaceous" — when normal words would do and distractingly substitutes nicknames — like "the Bay Stater" and "the Palmetto State" — when normal people would just say Romney, South Carolina, and so forth.

"Yet women are... 'fickle, quarrelsome, suspicious, weak, and fearful'... 'tirelessly lustful.'"

"Strong men may imperil their health by trying to fulfill their sexual demands. So, in order for life to proceed calmly, women must submit to men and, above all, be chaste... Those who do not obey their husbands should be beaten," writes Joan Acocella in The New Yorker, paraphrasing something a female character says in  Boccaccio's "Decameron."
In support of that view, Boccaccio ends his book with what has become the famous story of “patient Griselda.” Gualtieri, the Marquis of Saluzzo, has no wish to marry, but his subjects pressure him. So he takes, as a wife, a peasant girl, Griselda. In time, Griselda gives birth to a daughter and a son. Both babies are taken away from her, with the strong suggestion that they will be put to death. Griselda makes no protest. So Gualtieri tightens the screw. He declares that he needs a noble wife, not a peasant. Stoically, Griselda returns to her father’s house, leaving even her dresses behind, since she feels that they belong to her husband. Soon Gualtieri calls her back, saying that he needs her to oversee the preparations for the wedding. “Gualtieri’s words pierced Griselda’s heart like so many knives,” but she agrees. On the wedding day, a boy and a girl appear whom Griselda does not know. Gualtieri introduces the girl as his bride-to-be. Griselda praises her. Finally, Gualtieri can go on no longer. He tells Griselda that the boy and the girl are her children (he had them brought up by kinfolk in Bologna), and that he is taking Griselda back, more beloved now: “I wanted to teach you how to be a wife”—that is, submissive.
Much more at the link as Acocella reviews a new translation and compares it to other translations.

Also at the top link: much feistier women and much sexier stories. Read the one about the barrel.

If you think the NYT is inclined to explain the racial angle to all manner of stories...

... you should notice when it fails to do so, as here: "Era Fades for Helping Hand at the Washroom Sink."

The NYT readers did. One reader wrote:
I'm surprised that racism is not mentioned.... I have not seen many bathroom attendants, but I never saw a white man in the position and always felt that my tip was like a vote cast in favor of a miserable and humiliating caste system.
Ha. This is a reason not to tip?!

Another wrote:
In September I took my 14-year-old daughter to Manhattan and to our very special lunch in the City. More than the food or excitement of Balthazar's lively atmosphere, or the fantasy that she was in a Parisienne cafe, is her memory of the bathroom, and the bathroom attendant. She was astonished at the idea of a bathroom attendant even after I, her 70s disco clubbing worldly mom explained, even after our teachable moment about racism, economics, education, sexism, fine dining, NYC, etc. She thought it had to be the worst job ever -- cooped up in that tiny smelly space hoping someone would give you a dollar for a paper towel; how would a poor old lady have money to spend for a stranger's perfume? It looked like slavery to her, too. I have to agree; although I see the need for reliable sanitation throughout the workday it really is archaic and peculiar.
(I added the link to that last word.)

Teaching kids to be neuroscientists... or psychokillers... you decide.

At Metafilter:
After a TED Talk demonstration and a successful Kickstarter, Backyard Brains plans to release a kit instructing kids to strap a miniature backpack to cockroaches and insert electrodes into its brain, allowing the cockroach to be controlled by a smartphone app. Some scientists are less than pleased with the ethics of the project.

At the "less than pleased" link, BBC quotes a Backyard Brains spokeswoman, who says they're trying to get kids interested in the "woefully under-taught" subject of neuroscience, which is "crucially important... especially... when diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's take a heavier toll within society."

That "heavier toll" presumably refers to the aging Baby Boomers, who are going to be hard to handle as our brains fail, and wouldn't it be nice if insect-trained youngsters one day implant devices into our brain that can be used to keep us moving about — going to the bathroom, bathing, dressing, getting in and out of chairs and beds — on the force of whatever is left of our own atrophying muscles instead of needing to do the physical work themselves?

Everyone will be a winner, as we feel independent despite senility, and the younger folks can avoid having to touch us and listen to our nonsense. They can be in another room, feeling like they're playing a video game. And so what if they prank us? We'll imagine that we are sprightly, enlivened by impish silliness. Oh, I don't know what just got into me!

And of course, there's the old philosophical problem: How do you know that isn't already what life is, with some devil moving you this way and that, putting ideas into your head?

November 8, 2013

At the Dogs and Cranes Café...

... you can run but you can't hide fly.

"We envisage this space with community in mind – a surprint environment that is accessible to all..."

"... and inspires conversation about how everything is connected – shore birds, me, you, the sea, fog and much more."

What is the Google barge project?

A surprint environment??

"Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this story is the virtually unanimous support for the 'survivor' from anti-rape activists and their supporters."

"Letters published in The Post, from women and men alike, deplored the 'disheartening' skepticism about the 'poor woman's' claims and decried the pernicious sway of 'the rape culture.'" 
[A] class of 2013 alumnus... chided "misguided skeptics" for failing to realize that "it takes incredible courage for a woman to come forward and report a rape," since she subjects herself to "massive public scrutiny."...

"With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan may be the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in recorded history."

In the Philippines.

"So let it be written" — 5 million lines of code... and "a couple of hundred functional fixes" on the "punch list" they're "pretty aggressive" about getting to.

You know who Tony Trenkle is? No, of course not. You didn't know who he was and you didn't notice the other day when he was thrown under the bus to appease you. Some appeasement! That was supposed to distract us the other day, by happening at the same time as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was slated for more exposure:
She made her comments at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee hours after the Obama administration disclosed that the chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would retire. His office supervised the creation of the troubled website.

The official, Tony Trenkle, will step down on Nov. 15 “to take a position in the private sector,” according to an email circulated among agency employees. He has supervised the spending of $2 billion a year on information technology products and services, including the development of the website.
Okay, then. Trenkle down. Feel better yet? But let's look at Sebelius:
Ms. Sebelius said officials had a list of “a couple of hundred functional fixes” that had to be made so the website,, would work smoothly for most users by Nov. 30, a deadline set by the administration.

“We’re not where we need to be,” Ms. Sebelius said. “It’s a pretty aggressive schedule to get to the entire punch list by the end of November.”
Oh, the punch list! The list of a couple hundred things they've noted need fixing. They haven't fixed them yet. They've just noticed a couple hundred things, in there in that 5 million lines of code. Get on it, code-writing peons:

Or do you prefer "Look, Daddy! Paste it!"?

Thanks, Iran!

At least Iran is coming to distract us from the domestic clusterfuck.

Obama admits government — compared to the private sector — is far less capable of accomplishing anything on computers.

In yesterday's interview with Chuck Todd, Obama said:
You know, one of the lessons -- learned from this whole process on the website -- is that probably the biggest gap between the private sector and the federal government is when it comes to I.T. ...

Well, the reason is is that when it comes to my campaign, I'm not constrained by a bunch of federal procurement rules, right? 
That is, many have pointed out that his campaign website was really good, so why didn't that mean that he'd be good at setting up a health insurance website? The answer is that the government is bad because the government is hampered by... government!
And how we write -- specifications and -- and how the -- the whole things gets built out. So part of what I'm gonna be looking at is how do we across the board, across the federal government, leap into the 21st century.
I love the combination of: 1. Barely able to articulate what the hell happens inside these computer systems, and 2. Wanting to leap!
Because when it comes to medical records for veterans, it's still done in paper. Medicaid is still largely done on paper.

When we buy I.T. services generally, it is so bureaucratic and so cumbersome that a whole bunch of it doesn't work or it ends up being way over cost. 
This should have made him sympathetic to the way government burdens private enterprise, but he's focused on liberating government to take over more of what has been done privately. And yet there's no plan, no idea about what would suddenly enable government to displace private businesses competing to offer a product people want to buy.

Instead, we've been told we must buy a product, and things have been set up so we can only go through the government's market (the "exchange"), and the government has already demonstrated that its market doesn't work. But you can't walk away, you're forced to buy, and there's nowhere else to go. And yet, he wants us to feel bad about the cumbersome bureaucracy the government encountered trying to procure the wherewithal to set up the market it had already decided we would all need to use.

It's like a medieval torturer complaining to his victim about how difficult it is to use pilliwinks while the thumbscrews are on backorder.
And yeah, in some ways, I should have anticipated that just because this was important and I was saying this was my top priority. And I was meeting with folks once a month telling 'em, "Make sure this works."
He was meeting with his "folks" once a month. He was tellin' 'em "Make sure this works." Why didn't that work, that tellin' 'em? The tellin'-the-folks method. He is the President. I think it looked like this:

Why didn't that work? Who knew?!
There are gonna be some lessons learned....
Yeah, he had to learn that you can't just say This is important, I care — Obamacare — and so let it be done. Make sure this works.

From "Change" to "Exchange" — the deflation of Obama elation and how can old enthusiasts find comfort.

Surely, it must be happening, an emergent Obama nostalgia, to take the edge off the dreariness of what the Obama administration has become. There must be those who, seeking solace, are looking back to old comforts like Obama Girl:

Let's close in on that 4th verse:
You’re into border security
Let’s break this border between you and me
Universal healthcare reform
It makes me warm
You tell the truth unlike the right
You can love but you can fight
You can Barack me tonight
I’ve got a crush on Obama
Oh, it's so hard to keep nostalgia pure. Can you watch — and by "you," I mean only those who have loved Obama — and not talk back? Universal healthcare reform/It makes me warm. Yeah, "warm" as in: overheated with anger. You tell the truth unlike the right... Yeah, that's true if you read it the right way. It could mean that all politicians talk at us in a manner that is intended to be received as "truth-telling," that contains elements of truth, exaggeration, and falsehood, and that there are different ways to perform this necessary political activity, and the politicians on the right do it one way, and the way Obama does it is a different way.

November 7, 2013

At the Dog's Tongue...


... let it all hang out.

ADDED: Noticed much later that I'd left out the word "Café" in the post title, and now that I think about it, The Dog's Tongue does sound like a restaurant name. Here's an item in L.A. Weekly about the current restaurant name trend based on animals. There are many that don't have a "Café"-type editng. So for every BrewDog Pub, there's a The Fat Dog. For every Black Cat Bakery & Cafe, there's a The Black Cat...
The Thirsty Crow...Wolf & Crane...Wolf in Sheep's Clothing...The Fox and the Goat...The Raven and the Swan... The One-Eyed Doe, The Fat Cow...  Black Hogg... Pigg...  Flying Pig... The Blind Donkey...
But I have to concede that this trend doesn't include examples where the name is a part of the animal, like The Dog's Tongue. There's no Crow's Beak or Wolf's Tail or Goat's Head (try the soup!).

"Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned/Have died in battle or in vain/And you’re sick of all this/All of this repetition...."

Bob Dylan, last night, in Rome.

"Top 10 signs you've gone native in Spain."

"You've gone all touchy-feely...."
You've started yelling at waiters....

You've lost all political correctness....

You've stopped being so polite. Countless blank stares have made you realize that being excessively apologetic or thankful doesn't get you places in Spain. So no more "muchas gracias" (thank you very much) or "lo siento" (sorry) unless you really, really mean it.....

"Is the city of Madison great and/or the 'most racist' in the U.S.?"

Headline in our local alternative newspaper, Isthmus.

"I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me."

Says Obama, sounding distanced.

"November Sunset with Max and Cheyenne."

And Zeus!

Video and editing by Meade. (Music: "Lotus," from iMovie.)

3 Pinocchios for "The White House effort to blame insurance companies for lost plans."

From WaPo's Fact Checker Glenn Kessler, who, you may remember, gave 4 Pinocchios (the max) to Obama's "if you like your plan, you can keep it." Why did he back off a Pinocchio on this but not that? The official distinction between 3 and 4 is: 3 means "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions" and 4 is "Whoppers."

What Kessler says today about blaming the insurance companies is:
First of all, the administration wrote the rules that set the conditions under which plans lose their grandfathered status. But more important, the law has an effective date so far in the past that it virtually guaranteed that the vast majority of people currently in the individual market would end up with a notice saying they needed to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

The administration’s effort to pin the blame on insurance companies is a classic case of misdirection. Between 75 and 95 percent of the problem stems from the effective date, but the White House chooses to keep the focus elsewhere.

"Obamacare... will not be politically viable if it hurts more people than it helps, and probably not even if it helps a few more than it hurts."

"If that turns out to be the case, there will be hell to pay politically for the president and his fellow Democrats, likely for a very long time," writes Byron York, in a column titled "The simple question that will determine Obamacare's fate."

Is this right?

1. Don't conflate the continuation of the Obamacare program with the future political prospects of Democrats. We might very well be stuck in the Obamacare system whether people end up liking it or not. Punishing Democrats politically is something that can happen quite aside from whether Obamacare ever ends.

2. Many people opposed Obamacare in principle. We start with a base of about half the people who don't like it and might not even like it if they are substantially benefited. To this base, add the people who believed it would be good and are disappointed.

3. Many of us — whether we've been for or against Obamacare in the past — may believe that the promise was that we'd all be better off. It wasn't sold as: You have a good shot at being a winner. Or: there will be winners and losers, but overall, it's the greater good for the greater number. If this is what people believe they were told, it's not enough that 51% are better off and 49% are worse off or even that 60% are better off and 40% are worse off. Even 80/20 doesn't seem right. It was supposed to make the whole system better for everyone.

4. Mere marginal improvement overall even augmented by the luck of getting a personal benefit does not resonate with the feelings of altruism and idealism that have buoyed supporters of Obama and Obamacare over the years.

"I’m pro-choice... Sometimes in my darker moments, I’m anti-choice. I think abortion should be mandatory for about 30 years."

Said Dan Savage, when invited to express a "dangerous idea" that might "change the world for the better."

So, obviously, he's kidding, but what springs to a person's mind upon a particular prompting says something about that mind. You can't know exactly what, and, in fact, even when a person wants to be taken seriously and literally, you can't know that he's conveyed precisely what's in his mind.

We can only speculate what lies behind the outburst "abortion should be mandatory for about 30 years." I'd speculate that Savage isn't just pro-choice, he's pro-abortion. Not that he would require women to get abortions.

Mandatory abortions, of the sort done in China, are terrible impositions on a woman's bodily integrity. I doubt if Savage likes that idea  — although it's possible that he gets a kick out picturing a forced abortions performed on socially conservative women whose offspring are too likely to grow up to be socially conservative voters.

"Europeans are endlessly inventive when it comes to radiator design. Why are Americans lagging behind?"

Questions asked in a NYT article illustrated by 2 photographs: an atrocious, "creative" Euro design and a beautiful, classic American radiator.

A nice example of the misguided Europe-does-it-better meme.

And that atrocious Euro-radiators — "life-size animal sculptures... draped... in skins... a red deer, a ram and an arctic fox" — cost $7,700 to $11,600. And we're told they are electric, so it seems to me they correspond to what Americans would call a space heater. (If you're wondering about all that fur, I believe NYT is generally pro-fur, so this article may be an under-the-radar service to its fur advertisers.)

Also available from European designers are...
... dozens of conversation starters, radiators that resemble a forest grove, a paper clip, a garden hose that uncoils and snakes around a room, and even a wall-hung homage to an artistic masterpiece. Hotech, an Italian radiator company, has a collection with names like Chagall and Fabergé. Its David model is a beefy male torso.
Wall-hung. That's wall-hung. Don't let the the snaking hose and the beefy male torso cause you to misread. And we've all seen David naked, so form your own opinion.

Have I started a conversation yet? Well, do you have any "conversation starters" in the interior decoration of your house? What kind of conversations do they start? 

ADDED: There's also a slideshow, here, so you can see what the hose and the torso, etc. look like. I was using my imagination, and I'm sad to report that David has no discernible genitalia.

November 6, 2013

At Simon's Café...


... you can talk all night.

"The Republican Party would not mind at all if the takeaway in Virginia was it was a Terry McAuliffe landslide against the Tea Party."

"I'm not exaggerating," says Rush Limbaugh.

"Twice today I have been very moved to come across gloriously beautiful — dare I say transcendent — images..."

"... where the poignancy of the moment was movingly emphasized by the small unconscious movement of a single hand."

Student newspaper editor extensively explains decision to publish a letter questioning the existence of a "rape culture."

You have to try to imagine the criticism the editor (Katherine Krueger) must have heard. She goes on at such great length. On the blog yesterday, we talked about the letter, here. The newspaper is The Badger Herald, at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.

Krueger begins with the assumption that we are living in something that deserves to be called "rape culture":
The existence of ‘rape culture’ on college campuses — the social conditions that allow for the normalization of sexual assault and violence — leads to one in four college women being assaulted before they reach graduation.  For evidence that rape culture is alive, well and thriving on the University of Wisconsin campus, look no further than David Hookstead’s letter to the editor.
So Hookstead is not only a denialist; his denialism is proof of the existence of the culture. There should be a name for the culture where there are articles of faith so strong that if you say X is not true, you are viewed as reinforcing the proposition that X is true.

Krueger condemns her fellow student in language so strong that I had to go back and reread his letter to try to figure out what was so inflammatory. Krueger calls it "morally repugnant, patriarchal... offensive... the embodiment of rape culture... horrifically misguided... repellent... reprehensible... hateful... infuriating... ugly."

Isn't that a little over-the-top? Is no one allowed anymore to muse about the location of the line between bad sex and the crime of rape? Must one become a social pariah for questioning whether the activities of some criminals means their crime is our culture?
As ugly as Hookstead’s version of reality is, this is an actual view held by more than a few UW students. 
"More than a few"... but is that enough to make it our culture? Anyway, Krueger says condemning Hookstead's views is not enough:
If you’re disgusted and angry, this is your starting point. It’s only by opening the dialogue and banishing topics like sexual assault from our list of cultural taboos that we can begin to affect [sic?] a lasting change on campus.
So... does that mean students are supposed to talk about it or not talk about it? I suspect the message to those who have anything even mildly challenging to say is: Shut up or we will ruin you.

Krueger ends by expressing regret for her failure to put a "trigger warning" on Hookstead's letter. Now, there's: "Editor’s Note: trigger warning for sexual assault."

ADDED: I see Hookstead got attention in Jezebel last August, here.

AND: As MadisonMan in the comments tells me, I actually did blog that at the time.

ALSO: I'd just like to say there are so many issues here: 1. I'm not sure who, if anyone, I feel sorry for, but I know I don't feel sorry for any members of my own generation that may have made Ms. Krueger feel she had to talk like that. 2. Young people: Break loose, be free, say new things, dare! 3. What is the meaning of "culture"? How do you define that term? If you use it loosely, but someone else wants to use it narrowly, why are you — especially in a university — fighting instead of having an intellectual conversation about what "culture" is? 4. Who is being repressed and who is repressive, and why doesn't everyone care? 5. In what might be called a "culture of repression," is it any surprise that people are drinking too much and having bad sex? 6. Can we talk about whether we have a "culture of bad sex"? If so, why? 7. Isn't the real rape question: What should be reported to the police for prosecution? And if we put that in a separate category, would we be able to talk about what bad sex is and why we're having it? 8. What about love?

Why did New Yorkers decline — by a huge 61 to 39% margin — to end age discrimination against judges?

My answer: Because it wasn't phrased as an end to age discrimination. It was phrased at raising the retirement age to 80. It's currently 70. I think prompting people to think of judges as old as 80 brought on a skepticism that a kinder, gentler notion of not discriminating might have masked.

From the NYT article:
Proponents of the amendment argued that the age limit of 70 for judges, set in the State Constitution, was an anachronism passed just after the Civil War, before the era of antibiotics, heart surgery and hip replacements. People are living longer lives, proponents said, and judges often peak late in their careers.
Wouldn't that be a reason not to bother with an age limit back in the 1800s? Judges lingering in office would have been less of a problem back in the days when medical setbacks led more predictably and swiftly to death.

The chief judge of the state's highest court, Jonathan Lippman, said:
"I am disappointed... We were unable to get a consistent message across that people should be judged on their ability to do the job and not on some outdated conceptions of age."
What is outdated about thinking that older persons hang onto their jobs too long and fail to open positions to younger persons with new perspectives and experience with life as it is lived today? What is outdated about thinking that judges, cloistered and cosseted by the respect their office commands, lack accurate feedback about how well they are really doing? What is outdated about thinking that the judges, with their sharp and hardworking ghostwriters (AKA "clerks"), are unusually shielded from having their failing competence exposed?

Wisconsin couple was down to "eight pieces of bread, nine 15-ounce bottles of water, half a jar of that jelly and then eight packets of oatmeal."

So they wrote goodbye letters to friends and family — out there stranded in the snow, because they'd driven onto the Beartooth Highway, where "their GPS led" them, even though it's closed from October to April, because of the weather.

"People use me as a figurehead, and to me that misses the point and is blatantly offensive to thin women."

"Curves don't epitomize a woman."

The internet is less about cuteness than it used to be.

When's the last time anybody prodded anybody to look at or I Can Has Cheezburger?

In the business of trendspotting, it's hard to notice what we're not doing. Am I the first to notice the end of cuteness?

Here. Test yourself: Are you charmed to know that Gary Matthews, a 48-year-old "retired technology worker," "thinks he is a dog," and "wears a dog collar, eats dog food from a bowl — his favorite is Pedigree – and loves milk bones and dog cookies"?

Or do you think: Why are ABC and National Geographic giving air to mental disorders/lame entertainers? Is it to distract us from Obama's lies? And what's with "retiring" at age 48? Is that part of the economic downward spiral?

Althouse has spotted the end of the cuteness trend. free polls 

Minimizing the crimes of women (in a serious case about federalism).

Here's how WaPo's Robert Barnes begins his report about a case of attempted murder:
A melodramatic love triangle begat a ham-handed revenge poisoning. That led to what one Supreme Court justice called an “unimaginable” federal prosecution of the scorned wife under a law enacted to implement a global chemical weapons treaty.
As long as the victim didn't actually die, it's just some kind of joke?

Now, there is a problem with the feds taking over this prosecution, and that should be the focus of the story about this case. But you should see how outrageous it is to diminish the criminal behavior in this gendered fashion.
Carol Anne Bond, a Pennsylvania microbiologist... ordered a rare blend of chemicals, partly off the Internet, and over the next several months tried to poison [Myrlinda] Haynes 24 times by putting them on her doorknob, car and, critically, mailbox.
Just some nutty lady's bumbling parry in a cat fight?

Having voted to legalize marijuana, Coloradans now vote to tax it.


Well, of course. You legalize it so you can tax it. To repurpose an old Obama-and-marijuana quote: That was the point.

Obama's appearance arrives at 0:57, after which a commenter (Howard Fineman) opines: "One of the reasons Barack Obama is so popular, especially among younger people, is that he seems so real, he seems to acknowledge the reality of things. It's kind of almost like a dog whistle kind of thing. Older people can't hear it. Younger people hear it. And that's one of the things that they hear. He seems to be willing to be honest."

I need some medical marijuana for my hearing. I'm old. I was old back in 2006 when that clip came out. Yes, I voted for him, but not because I believed he was a new kind of honest. And now, in 2013, watching that, what I hear — on the sound wavelengths that penetrate my old head — is the word "seems," screeching out of Fineman's word montage: He seems so real... he seems to acknowledge... He seems to be willing to be honest.

"Seems" and "willing."

Willing... like: Okay, I'll go along with this looking-honest bullshit for you folks for a while. So follow me, little puppies. I've got a new kind of reality kind of thing to kind of like show you. Can you, like, you know, hear it, kids?

And I got a big laugh out of Kathleen Parker, at the very end saying, "The thing people can't stand is the lies." I then rewatched the clip and lingered over the part where they showed Bill Clinton saying he "experimented" with marijuana and "didn't like it" and "didn't inhale." I found that very refreshing.

That's the kind of honesty I like right now. It was a lie, and you knew it was a lie when he told it. There was none of this feeling of oh, wow, look at the reality, man. What felt real was: There's a politician that will smile and lie straight to our faces. He's a liar.

Those were the days.

November 5, 2013

At the Bare Tree Café...


... you can talk all night.

Christie wins big, de Blasio wins, and what's happening in Virginia?

"Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey won re-election by a crushing margin on Tuesday, a victory that vaulted him to the front rank of Republican presidential contenders and made him his party’s foremost proponent of pragmatism over ideology," says the NYT.

"Bill de Blasio poised to usher in new era of liberal governance in New York,"
says the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, in Virginia....

UPDATE: "Democrat Terry McAuliffe wins Va. governor's race, Fox News projects."

UPDATE 2: Looks like New Yorkers are happy with judges forced to retire at age 70.

"As a Jewish and Hindu couple with a 'HinJew' son... we’re raising him to be 100 percent both."

"For some, particularly adherents to Western religions, that math doesn’t add up. But faith, by definition, is not always logical or rational...."

"Smog blamed as girl, 8, becomes youngest lung cancer patient."

In China.

Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone!

Oh, no!

Are you still going to care about football? Or are you ready to move on until next year?

(Last night was brutal!)

Polls close in Virginia in 20 minutes.

And here are the 5 counties to watch.

While you're waiting, check out the Althouse blog polling.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz stumbles into the people-who-read-too-much mispronunciation of "misled."

Watch for it: myzzled.

Rand Paul takes action on plagiarism.

"What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers... We’re going to try to put out footnotes. We’re going to have them available. If people want to request the footnoted version, we’re going to have it available.”

"Kids React to Gay Marriage."

This video has gone viral.

Much as I support same-sex marriage and think these children are adorable, I have a few problems:

1. Using children to get out a political message. They're too young to consent, so it's an invasion of their privacy, and they're too young really to understand the issues, even if their out-of-the-mouths-of-babes opinions charm us (especially when we agree).

2. The video is edited, so we don't hear any "wrong" answers the videographers didn't want us to hear, and we don't hear the extent of the leading questions and promptings by the adults... which takes us back to point 1: using children. When you do things with children, that particular child's interests must be placed first.

3. These children — at least most of them — have probably already been indoctrinated. We're told they are "from California." What schools have they attended? What have they been told? Do they even know what sexual feeling is? Do they understand the issue basically in terms of being nice to other people and liking what you like?

At the Orange Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.


AND: Consider shopping through the Althouse Amazon portal.

The Supreme Court's religion and the Constitution cases "satisfy no one — including the Justices" who go on "fact-free intuitions about religion..."

"... which vary with their attitudes toward religion, which in turn derive from their religious beliefs and affiliations, or lack thereof." They "form confident views without any empirical basis."
Fact-free constitutional adjudication is abetted by constitutional lawyers (prominently including professors of constitutional law), who “know little about their proper subject matter— a complex of political, social, and economic phenomena. They know only cases. An exclusive diet of Supreme Court opinions is a recipe for intellectual malnutrition.”
Writes Judge Posner in "Reflections on Judging" (quoting himself in an earlier book). Here's his footnote summarizing the mess in the case law:

"The Badger Herald printed a letter from a political science junior titled, 'Rape Culture Does Not Exist.'"

And we're told, it's gone viral.
“When I was consulting with our managing editor and our opinion editors about whether or not to publish it, we knew there would be a pretty strong response from the campus,” said [the newspaper’s editor, Katherine Krueger]. “I think it’s important to stare something ugly in the face every once in a while to be reminded that there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Okay. Stare at "something ugly" and do some "work."

ADDED: Here's the student's letter, with comments. Please read it and try to understand why it is stirring people up so much.

ALSO: Here's the full text of Krueger's response. 

"Why do you think so many American Christians identify as political conservatives?"

The American Conservative asks the novelist Marilynne Robinson, who answers:
Well, what is a Christian, after all? Can we say that most of us are defined by the belief that Jesus Christ made the most gracious gift of his life and death for our redemption? Then what does he deserve from us? He said we are to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. Granted, these are difficult teachings. But does our most gracious Lord deserve to have his name associated with concealed weapons and stand-your-ground laws, things that fly in the face of his teaching and example? Does he say anywhere that we exist primarily to drive an economy and flourish in it? He says precisely the opposite. Surely we all know this. I suspect that the association of Christianity with positions that would not survive a glance at the Gospels or the Epistles is opportunistic, and that if the actual Christians raised these questions those whose real commitments are to money and hostility and potential violence would drop the pretense and walk away.

One way to defeat the surveillance state.

In China, there are cameras everywhere, but if you pick a smoggy day — which is pretty much every day — they won't see you.

McAuliffe or Cuccinelli — do you care?

They're voting in Virginia today. But do you care?

What's it to you? free polls 

"Back during the campaign they lied and said that Mitt Romney cut off a woman with cancer."

"Now they’re lying about the woman with cancer that they cut off. Fraudulent, indeed. But lashing out at critics won’t stop the rot."

"Rot" is a good word. Mitt Romney himself was on TV last Sunday saying: "And whether you like the model of Obamacare or not, the fact that the president sold it on a basis that was not true has undermined the foundation of his second term. I think it's rotting it away."

Meade and I have been catching up on the old TV series "Breaking Bad," and we're somewhere in Season 2. The main character has discovered dry rot in the wood floor of his house and — attempting to fix it himself — he opens up a hole in the floor and then he's down in the crawl space under the house, finding the whole foundation rotten. The oblivious wife and son live in that house that is contaminated and slowly collapsing, while dad is down there, underneath, replacing a timber here and there. At one point, he stumbles over to their breakfast table in his hazmat suit and pulls off his respirator to chomp down a little toast, and their dependence on care from their father figure is such that they never say anything like: "Uh, Dad, if you're wearing that, shouldn't we get the hell out of this house?" They just keep eating their breakfast, like this is home and Daddy will provide. 

It's funny to see the lefties in the mindset of conservatives, attempting to shore up a rotting structure, rebuilding at the same time people are forced to keep using it. This is where we are, and Daddy is fixing it. Meanwhile, the righties are the radicals, eager to rip down the whole house even if there's no new place in move-in condition.

November 4, 2013

The end of daylight saving.

For the first time (other than when I was a child), I completely failed to notice the clock shifting ritual. I didn't notice it yesterday, and I didn't notice it all day today, not until I left the law school building at the end of class at 5 p.m. and saw how dark it was.

All the clocks I use — my computers and my iPhone — self-adjusted, so I followed the correct time, but I never had the feeling of gaining an hour. That was strange! And risky, because I do sometimes go by the clock on the oven that needs to be hand cranked to the right time.

"Why didn’t Ellington consider his music jazz?"

Kathryn Jean Lopez asks Terry Teachout, who says:
His problem was specifically with the word “jazz,” which for his generation (he was born in 1899) still had strongly sexual connotations. Ellington believed that such ostensibly vulgar labels would prevent jazz from ever being taken seriously by artists, critics, and scholars, so he tried to come up with a different way of referring to the music. At one point, the label he preferred was “Negro folk music.” Needless to say, it never caught on.
Here's Teachout's new book "Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington," which contains the sentence — Teachout's second favorite of his sentences, he says — “He talked not to explain himself but to conceal himself.”

Leaf installation at Meadhouse.


A work in progress, I'm told, but looking out the 3rd-floor window this morning, I thought the stages of leaves looked especially pretty.

In other autumn news, here's a flower in full bloom, even now:


An update on women training for military combat.

Last month, 81 male and female Marines took the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course. 65 males passed. There were 4 women, all of whom failed.
Women began reporting to IOC on a voluntary basis last year. Counting the latest class, 10 women have attempted IOC, and none has passed. 
Meanwhile, in the Marines Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion:

Time to end Halloween.

Really this is the last straw. No, not Michelle Obama saying "Kids Will One Day Trick-or-Treat for Vegetables."

This lady, thinking she's got "the spirit of Halloween":

Oh, but the corporations! Those terrible corporations!

"Health care manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries will pay more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil investigations over allegations that they marketed three drugs for uses that were never approved, and that kickbacks were paid to physicians and to a long-term care pharmacy provider, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today in Washington."

A "Breaking News" email from CNN, received just now.

ADDED: Meanwhile, in the current pop culture, selling unapproved AIDS drugs, based on a true story: "Dallas Buyers Club."

Is Obama to Blame for Cancer Death?

Compare, contrast, endeavor to eradicate hypocrisy:

1. November 3, 2013, Wall Street Journal: "You Also Can't Keep Your Doctor I had great cancer doctors and health insurance. My plan was cancelled. Now I worry how long I'll live."

2. August 8, 2012, "Is Romney to Blame for Cancer Death?"

"Obama plans to 'make government cool again.'"

"Barack Obama addressed the wide distaste for government... 'Our campaign from the beginning has been about changing government,' he said, recalling some great accomplishments of American government: Civil rights legislation, the interstate highway system, and the National Park system. Obama would, he said, 'transform Washington' and 'make government cool again.'"

Ben Smith, writing in Politico, September 11, 2008.

"For Many Iranians, 'Death To America' Are Just Words."

NPR assures.

Just words?! Hey, don't tell me words don't matter!

It's just by chance that the old Obama "just words" speech came to mind there. Pure coincidence that it comes the day after all that talk about Rand Paul and plagiarism. But this was the speech where he lifted his best lines from Deval Patrick.

Just words!

"A collection of 1,500 artworks confiscated by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s has been found in the German city of Munich..."

"Some of the works were declared as degenerate by the Nazis, while others were stolen from or forcibly sold for a pittance by Jewish art collectors."

Rock-paper-scissors robot always wins... by cheating.

"Technically, the robot cheats because it reacts extremely quickly to what the human hand is doing rather than making a premeditated simultaneous action as the rules state. Taking just one millisecond (ms) - a thousandth of a second - to recognise what shape the human hand is making, it then chooses a winning move and reacts at high speed."


Is there some non-technical way in which the robot is not cheating? The robot is cheating! In the future, there will be more and more robots, and they will all be cheating. You won't be able to see it, because it will happen so fast. Sleight of robot hand. You will think these are our brilliant benefactors. You will love them. Get ready! Rock-paper-scissors is just the beginning.

No clemency for Snowden.

"'Mr Snowden violated US law. He should return to the US and face justice,' said White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer."

Lecturing "left-leaning political pundits in Madison" about how "beating Scott Walker is the primary thing."

It's Paul Fanlund at the Capital Times telling them to shut up and get behind Mary Burke.

Good lord, this is a long piece! It takes a lot of words to say shhhh. Fanlund bemoans the "parlor games around process seem to trump pragmatism." The notion of a primary to pick the candidate is dismissed as "inside baseball and petty minutiae." Fanlund would like you to focus on "Walker, backed by ever-compliant GOP toadies in the Legislature, has morphed Wisconsin into a place where politics faces backwards; it’s ugly, mean-spirited, anti-women and anti-intellectual."

I love that he's promoting pragmatism and denouncing anti-intellectuals at the same time.

"The world's deadliest spiders have been found on a bunch of bananas bought in a British supermarket."

"A family from London was forced to flee its home after discovering dozens of the poisonous Brazilian Wandering critters crawling over the fruit."
"I got halfway through the banana when I saw something white on the skin. I thought it was mold, but when I had a closer look I saw some funny looking spots... I had a closer look and was horrified to see they were spiders. They were hatching out on the table, scurrying around my carpet. I was so scared I cried"....

"An NYU student believed missing was actually trapped for up to 36 hours in a tiny gap between his dorm building and a neighboring structure..."

"... and was rescued only after his worried pals raised the alarm and rescue workers heard his moans."
A pal said he last saw [Asher] Vongtau early Saturday, after his friend left his dorm room. “I don’t want to elaborate on what we were doing in there"...

Cops said they believe Vongtau somehow fell into the gap, which fire officials said was six to 18 inches wide. It was not clear how far he fell. The dorm building is 18 stories high and the victim lives on the fifth floor.

Obama's newest famous quote is "I'm really good at killing people" — but what was the context?

The Daily Mail cherry-picked the quote out of the new book "Double Down: Game Change 2012." The book's not out for normal people until tomorrow. (Buy it here.) So I'm stuck wondering. DM says:
A Washington Post report makes passing reference to the anecdote, saying that while speaking with his aides about the drone program Obama bragged that he was 'really good at killing people.' The Obama Administration has not responded specifically to reports of the alleged boast from the President.
The Daily Mail is punctilious enough to say "alleged" but can't resist characterizing the words as a "boast." We're told he "bragged." The headline says "President Obama joked...." Let's assume for the purposes of discussion that Obama really did say those words in that order. But let's try to imagine why he might have said that.

Perhaps you're imagining a childish man, exclaiming "I'm really good at killing people" like a numbskull teenager playing a first-person-shooter video game. Or maybe you're picturing someone more like a movie super-villain in his vast underground lair, cackling to his fawning minions as he creepily caresses his "kill" button.

But it's possible to think of a context in which Obama would be sympathetic. I could imagine a serious discussion of the lack of genuine accomplishment in his administration.
O: What will history say we have done? Nothing! I was the embodiment of hope, and everything I have touched has turned to ashes.

AIDE: But, sir....

O: What are the accomplishments? Name the accomplish of the Obama administration! What will people say?!

AIDE: He killed bin Laden.

O: A pathetic, isolated idiot sitting in his hovel, watching bad porn. The SEALs blew him away. That was really amazing of me.

AIDE: [Names several significant terrorists who have been killed through the drone program.]

O [sadly, sarcastically]: I'm really good at killing people.
Intent on writing this little dialogue, I searched for a list of 4 or 5 good names for the aide to tick off in an effort to bolster the President's spirits. See if you can do that. I couldn't do it. I kept running into "A List Of Children Killed By Drone Strikes In Pakistan and Yemen." Go there. Scroll through those names (and ages) and think about that context and why Obama might have said I'm really good at killing people.

When you send Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel out to do your PR, you must be really desperate.

Did you see this character on "Fox News Sunday" yesterday? If not, you've got to watch this video. Here's the transcript, but you won't get the high anxiety feeling from the text alone. It must be experienced visually and aurally.

Now, I've watched this twice (and read the transcript), and I believe Zeke — older brother of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hollywood-based talent agent Ari Emanuel — is damned sharp and even honest and he's willing to argue and stand his ground and more. I appreciate that. There is something to be defended here — Obamacare — and so if they aren't willing to acknowledge the fraud and to resubmit healthcare reform to Congress — which I believe is the only morally correct response — then they'd better step up, take the hard questions, and give real answers. And that's what Ezekiel Emanuel is doing there. It's spectacular!

But this is not the kind of harsh, in-your-face talk America is used to! This is the kind of guy you expect to be working hard behind the scenes. A mellower, friendlier face is what we expect. Did you see Deval Patrick on "Meet the Press" yesterday? That's the norm. So soothing! Everything's going to be all right. Ezekiel Emanuel? That was so weird! That was not Everything's going to be all right. That was PANIC!!!!

"Obama unable to govern like he campaigns"... a painfully funny front-page teaser at the L.A. Times...

... takes us to a more-painful-because-they're-serious headline: "Why can't Obama run the government as smoothly as his campaign?" Subhead: "The president increasingly seems to be battling top-level management failures as much as policy or political problems, observers say."

Remember when Obama, running for President in 2008, was asked what executive experience he had and he said running his campaign was executive experience?
Well, you know, my understanding is, is that Governor Palin's town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We have got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So, I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute, I think, has been made clear over the last couple of years. And, certainly, in terms of the legislation that I passed just dealing with this issue post-Katrina of how we handle emergency management, the fact that many of my recommendations were adopted and are being put in place as we speak, I think, indicates the degree to which we can provide the kinds of support and good service that the American people expect.
Manage large systems... provide the kinds of support and good service that the American people expect.... 

Back to the L.A. Times:
As a candidate, he vowed to restore government competence to earn back trust, and to make a case for expanding the government's role in people's lives.

"We simply cannot afford to perpetuate a system in Washington where politicians and bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors, with little accountability for the consequences … and where outdated technology and information systems undermine efficiency, threaten our security and fail to serve an engaged citizenry," Obama said in 2009...

"It seems to be that this White House has no chain to the top, even just the conventional 'protect the boss' standard that ought to be in place everywhere," [said Bob Stone, project director of the Clinton-era government reform effort]. "When something is about to burst, you warn the boss. That's both a management issue and a political issue.... It's hard to see that the president has really had any interest in actually managing the government."

November 3, 2013

"If dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know it’d be a duel challenge."

Said Rand Paul referring to charges of plagiarism in his speeches.
"I think the spoken word shouldn’t be held to the same sort of standard that you have if you’re giving a scientific paper. I’ve written scientific papers, I know how to footnote things, but we’ve never footnoted speeches, and if that’s the standard I’m going to be held to, yes, we will change and we will footnote things.... If it’s required, I’ll do it, but I think I’m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters, and I’m just not going to put up with people casting aspersions on my character.”
Video at the link. Note that this is about speeches, and my post earlier today about Paul and plagiarism was about his book. I think he is being "targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters," but that is politics, so I'm not going along with "unfairly." He has a political future, so he has opponents, and they're going to use whatever he gives them.

Don't plagiarize. It will be used against you.

At the Golden Café...


... reflect.

"How long do big insurance companies continue to work w/Obama WH to improve #Obamacare while WH blames them for its problems?"

The Sebelius lie: "We didn't have the luxury of [more website testing] with the law that says, it's go time on October 1."

On "Fox News Sunday" today, Chris Wallace played a video clip:
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I think that there -- in an ideal world would have been a lot more testing. We didn't have the luxury of that with the law that says, it's go time on October 1.
He then said:
But it turns out, that is just not true. Take a look at this. "According to the law, the enrollment period shall be, "as determined by the secretary." Secretary Sebelius. Nothing about October 1. So, she decided to go ahead with this plan of October 1ST.
Incredible... not just that she would lie but that she'd lie about something so easily shown to be false. Just astounding.

The administration's refusal to give Congress access to the Benghazi witnesses.

On today's "Fox News Sunday," Lindsay Graham was talking about his threat of blocking all the President's nominees in the Senate until Congress is given access to the witnesses to the Benghazi attack.
CHRIS WALLACE: OK. So, when you and other senators -- because you're not along in this -- asked to talk to the survivors... or to read the interviews that the FBI conducted within hours after the attack... what does the administration say to you?

GRAHAM: They say it's an ongoing criminal investigation, which is stunning. Under that theory, we would not be able to look at 9/11 and to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was prosecuted. He's still not even going to trial....
Under that theory there would not have been Watergate hearings!
GRAHAM: Can you imagine if this was George W. Bush and he told the Congress after 9/11 -- you can't talk to anybody because there's a potential criminal investigation, we're not going to investigate how 9/11 became the failure that it was?

Mitt Romney says the foundation of Obama's second term is "rotting" away.

On today's "Meet the Press":
But the key, I think, that has really undermined the president's credibility in the hearts of the American people is that he went out, as a centerpiece of his campaign, and as a centerpiece of Obamacare over the last several years, saying time and time again that fundamental to his plan was the right people would have to keep their insurance plan. And he knew that was not the case....

And whether you like the model of Obamacare or not, the fact that the president sold it on a basis that was not true has undermined the foundation of his second term. I think it's rotting it away.

And I think the only way he can rebuild credibility is to work with Republicans and Democrats and try and rebuild a foundation. We've got to have a president. We've got to have a president that can lead. And right now, he's not able to do so.

Alternative academic professions — alt-ac — are "less a matter of where you work than how..."

"'... 'with the same intellectual curiosity that fueled the desire to go to graduate school in the first place and applying the same kinds of skills, such as close reading, historical inquiry or written argumentation, to the tasks at hand.'"
Ethan Watrall, a professor of anthropology at Michigan State University, runs the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative as part of Praxis. “I try to destigmatize this idea of not going on to a tenure-track job,” he said. “It doesn’t matter — who cares? If you’re happy and that’s what you want to do, that’s awesome.”

He believes the culture has begun to change, “mostly because of the sort of desperate need for it to change.”

George Bush's new art project: Portraits of 19 foreign leaders.

He's moved on from paintings of his own feet in the bathtub and dogs to the various presidents and prime ministers he encountered back in the days when he too was a world leader.

I like that he prepped for famous faces with dog heads and human feet. It suggests that his artistic vision is not about the grandeur of the world stage and the historic personages he walked amongst.


Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.....

On the occasion of the accusations of plagiarism against Rand Paul...

Let's go to the blog archives. It's nice to have a "plagiarism" tag that lets me pull out so many old conversations about plagiarism that were prompted by various things over the years. (The links are on the numbers.)

1. "The internet is changing the way students think about plagiarism... or — I would add — they way they lie about it."

2. "Confusion over sources or indifference to them can be a paradoxical strength; if we could tag the sources of all our knowledge, we would be overwhelmed with often irrelevant information."

3. "The real fault is not making it a point always to write sharp, distinctive prose. Prose like the stuff [Maureen] Dowd lifted called out for rewriting. She might not have known to think I can't use that because I didn't write it. But she should at least have thought I can't use that because it's dull."

4. "'[T]here is a big difference between being a plagiarist — at bottom, lazy or sloppy — and being a fabulist.' It's tougher to make things up than to copy, and yet it's Lehrer who's screwed himself more deeply."

5. "'To coin a phrase, in the spirit of the vice president-elect, you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need,' Alito said, an imperfect rendering of a Rolling Stones lyric. Then, he added, 'Did someone say that before?'"

6."My dear, it's called an allusion. The error isn't stealing, it's assuming people get it."

7. "Jerry Seinfeld's late-night rant about his wife's cookbook rival was no joke to the author's family."

8. "When you are discovered, I want you to claim — really sincerely — that you actually mistakenly believed that you remembered the incident as if it had happened to you. You can be all: 'I am chagrined and astonished that my mind could play such a trick on me.'"

9. "How is it possible for someone in [Fareed Zakaria's] position to make a mistake of that kind? The risk far outweighs any convenience in copying material like this. It can't be deliberate."

10. "Once you’ve been busted for making stuff up, you need to be sure that what you publish is reasonably accurate... though I suppose that passing on other people’s fabrications is arguably a modest improvement over creating his own."

11. "Should Coldplay be able to force Hoepfner to take down his accusatory video and apologize, or do we think it's a nice resolution of the controversy for Coldplay to escape unsued and for Hoepfner to have his viral video to leverage his band to whatever degree of fame it can get out of this amusing little artistic squabble?"

12. "'I think that’s the way Bob Dylan has always written songs.... It’s part of the folk process, even if you look from his first album until now.' Well, theft itself is a traditional 'process,' but it would still piss me off if someone robbed me, either with a six gun or a fountain pen. At least Dylan called an album 'Love and Theft,' and he's repeatedly presented himself as a thief in various lyrics. To have Bob Dylan steal some of your phrases and the Dylan fanatics ferret out the connection he declined to tell us about is to get publicity you never would have gotten otherwise."

13. "When you accuse a 6-year-old of plagiarism in an art contest, you'd better be ready to make a decision to disqualify her and stick to it. You've besmirched her, and you can't unbesmirch her. Oh, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service! You idiots!"

14. Rush Limbaugh appropriates my question, without attribution.

15. "And if our good opinion of him is based mainly on his speeches, then we have reason to examine why we're supporting him. But politics is full of stock phrases, contagious memes, and brainstormed messages."

16. "Obama defends his use of a couple lines given him by his associate Duval Patrick. 'This is where we start getting into the silly season in politics.'"

17. Ch-ch-ch-changes:

Should we bully Rand Paul about plagiarism for cutting and pasting 3 pages of Heritage Fund text into his book "Government Bullies"?

Buzzfeed uses the word "plagiarism," but there is an endnote to the Heritage Fund report and Heritage Fund itself is only saying "we like when people cite our work."

How bad is this? (Multiple answers allowed.) free polls