January 25, 2014

Pettings (and bloggings).

And back to work (you can see I'm reading about Andrew Cuomo… in the upper right corner… working on this post):

"That man will twist your arm off at the shoulder and beat your head in with it."

Said a Southern Democrat about LBJ, back in the 60s, quoted in the David Remnick article about Obama in this week's New Yorker.
“Johnson was unique,” [LBJ biographer Robert Caro told Remnick]. “We have never had anyone like him, as a legislative genius. I’m working on his Presidency now. Wait till you see what he does to get Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act through....”
Obama is not so impressed with LBJ. He told Remnick:
“When he lost that historic majority, and the glow of that landslide victory faded, he had the same problems with Congress that most Presidents at one point or another have.... I say that not to suggest that I’m a master wheeler-dealer but, rather, to suggest that there are some structural institutional realities to our political system that don’t have much to do with schmoozing.”
The historian Robert Dallek told Remnick that Obama tries to get by on "sweet reason," but "Johnson could sit with Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, kneecap to kneecap, drinking bourbon and branch water, and Dirksen would mention that there was a fine young man in his state who would be a fine judge, and the deal would be cut. Nowadays, the media would know in an instant and rightly yell 'Corruption!'"

Let's review. Caro says LBJ was a unique genius, Dallek says times have changed and a President can't make the kind of deals that used to be made, and Obama says LBJ wasn't really all that special.

If only one thing could break through the popularity of Justin Bieber, it would be... Lou Ferrigno.

From the sidebar, just now, at The New York Daily News:

Lou says: "Young people today are looking for shortcuts... They always think there is a supplement out there to make them grow faster."

At the Hold-Onto-Your-Hat Café...

... tell me, baby, how your head feels under something like that.

"If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you..."

The first 2 lines of Rudyard Kipling's "If—" sprang to mind this morning as the wind kicked up in the trees outside the window behind my iMac screen. The younger trees — silver maple and ash — were waving around furiously and the deep-rooted ancient oak tree barely moved.

The "IF" sentiment reminded Meade of "White Rabbit" and he sang:
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "Off with her head!"
I was still reading "IF":
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
And I said — hold onto your hat, Madison liberals —  "This sounds like Scott Walker."

Meade, acting like he's still into "White Rabbit," sings "Go ask Alice, when she's 10 feet tall," then asks "Do you know who else is 10 feet tall?" The answer: Scott Walker!

Which  means it's time once again — you know all those other times — to sing "Stand with Governor Walker." Key line: "Now he's standing 10-feet tall from Ashland to Monroe."

"The stars are in alignment this morning, baby!"

I'd said it before, and I say it again as I finish the previous post and add: "Planet Waves!"

Then: "Planet Hillary Waves!"

If only I could photoshop as easily as I can write, you could photoshop those 2 images, and then do it again, adding, from that top link:

"I liked Senator Goldwater because he was a rugged individualist who swam against the political tide."

Reading the previous post out loud to Meade, I get to that quote, and he says "Bob Dylan!" And I say, "No! That's from Hillary Clinton's memoir!" The post is mostly about Hillary, but Bob Dylan is in there too. Meade thought it was something Dylan wrote in his memoir "Chronicles."

What Bob Dylan wrote was:
I had a primitive way of looking at things and I liked country fair politics. My favorite politician was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who reminded me of Tom Mix, and there wasn't any way to explain that to anybody. I wasn't comfortable with all the psycho polemic babble. It wasn't my particular feast of food. Even the current news made me nervous. I like the old news better.
I'd blogged about that when "Chronicles" came out and Meade's Hillary/Bob mixup got me looking for that old post. Searching my blog for "Dylan Goldwater," the first thing I found was this post from June 2008, about none other than Hillary Clinton.  She's everywhere! Just then, she was withdrawing from the presidential race. She gave a good speech, and I'd said: "Oh, Hillary, why weren't you like this all along?"

There's no mention of Bob Dylan in that June 2008 post. And, interestingly, the first commenter is Meade (a man I had not yet met). He quotes Hillary's "So today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes we can" and adds "Gag me." Despite Meade's tendency to bring up Bob Dylan, it wasn't Meade who dragged him in. It was a commenter named L. E. Lee who hijacked the thread to say:
"I was even more surprised that Bob Dylan said that he supports Barack Obama this past week. I do not remember Dylan ever endorsing a candidate for political office before."
Meade responded: "L.E.Lee, It's widely known that, like Hillary..., Bob Dylan was a supporter of Barry Goldwater in 1964." Lee demands evidence, Meade tells him to Google "Dylan Goldwater Chronicles," and I make a comment:
If you do that Google search for Dylan and Goldwater, I hope you find this old post of mine where -- as I elaborately blogged "Chronicles" -- I wrote:
Dylan's favorite politician: Barry Goldwater. P. 283.

Why: "[he] reminded me of Tom Mix."

Bob Dylan song that mentions Goldwater: "I Shall Be Free, No. 10."
I provided the relevant lyric:
Now, I'm liberal, but to a degree
I want ev'rybody to be free
But if you think that I'll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I'm crazy!
I wouldn't let him do it for all the farms in Cuba.
And that's what I said immediately this morning when Meade brought up Dylan and Goldwater: "But if you think that I'll let Barry Goldwater/Move in next door and marry my daughter/You must think I'm crazy!" Back in 2008, what I did was to go on to write another post, about Bob Dylan and Barack Obama, "What did Bob Dylan say about Barack Obama — and what did he mean?"

In the then-present, which was before dawn, I was reading the new post out loud to Meade, because I want his okay for the use of quotes from him, and the material you see above in this post seemed like it needed to go at the bottom of that post I was trying to finish. I was struggling to get to the end of the whole long string of Stringband-and-Dylan-and-Hillary-and-Althouse-and-Meade and "Fishes stop and ask me where I am bound"-sense-and-nonsense.

And Meade was piling on, saying things like:
The first President Barry was almost President Goldwater... Dreams from My Goldwater... Fishes swimming in the gold water....
By then, the sun was up, and the post was up, without the update, because the update itself would need another out-loud read, what with the additional Meade quotes. It was a new morning, and this is a new post.
Can’t you feel that sun a-shinin’?
Groundhog runnin’ by the country stream
This must be the day that all of my dreams come true
Are there fishes in the stream, wondering where you're bound? What does the groundhog say? And will the Dreams from My Goldwater ever come true?

"Layers are the onion. There is no core. And onions don't ache. And if they did..."

Meade reads aloud from last night's post about the NYT "Planet Hillary" article...

... which ends with a transmogrification of the planet image to an onion image, with "something" at the center of that globular object (Hillary), that is "aching" for the peeling away of layers. Meade puts stress on the word that was a typo.

I correct it and say, "Layers of the Onion, wasn't that an Incredible String Band album?"

Oh, yeah, it sure was. It's in my iTunes now, not that I don't have the vinyl record from back in the 1960s in the house, with that cover that wriggled when we gazed into it. You see the onion and, above it, the eye (also globular), and, above that, the planet, and above that the 2-faced, male-and-female head.

It's easier to download the album now, and I need to be able to click on relevant songs when phrases come up in conversation around here. The first song I click on is "Painting Box," and Meade picks out the line "Fishes stop and ask me where I am bound." Such a hippie image!

Did Hillary listen to the Incredible String Band when she was a young girl, back in the 1960s?

"'The Tea Party elites'? There aren't any Tea Party 'elites,' by definition."

"The elites are all found in both party establishments. Tea Party elites? He couldn't name one if he had to...."

Rush Limbaugh, yesterday, reacting to something Senator Chuck Schumer said, which was:
The underlying unrest that allowed the [Tea Party] movement to ascend can be found in economic as well as cultural and social forces that in combination have greatly unsettled the American psyche. The first and most important phenomena is a phenomena...
Note to Schumer: "phenomena" is the plural of "phenomenon."
... that Democrats have recently begun to address, the decline in middle class incomes. When the Tea Party elite came in and said, "Government is your problem," we didn't say, no, it's part of the solution. The American people became frustrated, sour, and angry, and the Tea Party elites, unchallenged, tapped into that anger with their pied piper solutions.
Rush says: "Senator Chuck-U, name one of these Tea Party elites. Name one! He can't."

It depends on what the meaning of "Tea Party elites" is. Even granting that the Tea Party movement was originally grassroots, there are certainly elite individuals who associate themselves with it, including Rush himself. Obviously, various candidates have run, unsuccessfully and successfully, by exploiting a connection to the Tea Party.

Wikipedia's discussion of Tea Party leadership begins:
An October 2010 Washington Post canvass of 647 local Tea Party organizers asked "which national figure best represents your groups?" and got the following responses: no one 34%, Sarah Palin 14%, Glenn Beck 7%, Jim DeMint 6%, Ron Paul 6%, Michele Bachmann 4%.
It says something that the big winner was "no one."

Wikipedia links to this New Yorker article that explores an indirect connection to the Koch Brothers and has some key quotes from spring 2009: NYT columnist Paul Krugman wrote that the tea parties are "AstroTurf (fake grassroots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects," specifically FreedomWorks, and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "It's astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class." But that says less about the "Tea Party elite" than the liberal elite.

It's not,  as Schumer put it, that "the Tea Party elite came in and said, 'Government is your problem,' [the liberal elite failed to] say, no, it's part of the solution. The American people became frustrated, sour, and angry, and the Tea Party elites, unchallenged, tapped into that anger with their pied piper solutions."

The elite that were around — in high places in government and media — were liberal, and they were challenging the tea partiers. Their key challenge was that these people must be fake, must be following some rich Pied Pipers who were tricking them — which is to say, the masses were following the wrong Pied Piper.

January 24, 2014

At the Brown Dog Café...

… yes, there's a place for you.

(If you're enjoying this blog, please consider going in to do your shopping through the Althouse Amazon Portal.)

ADDED: These pictures are the view from my position at my desk. I had those eyes looking up at me and got out the camera. The second picture is the dog's response when he saw he had my attention.

"Unlike Barack Obama, who will leave the White House with more or less the same handful of friends he came in with..."

"... the Clintons occupy their own unique and formidable and often exhausting place in American politics. Over the decades, they’ve operated like an Arkansas tumbleweed, collecting friends and devotees from Bill Clinton’s kindergarten class to Yale Law School to Little Rock to the White House to the Senate and beyond."

From the NYT Magazine article "Planet Hillary." The point about the Obamas' not making friends is also in that New Yorker article:
Obama’s favorite company is a small ensemble of Chicago friends—Valerie Jarrett, Marty Nesbitt and his wife, Anita Blanchard, an obstetrician, and Eric and Cheryl Whitaker, prominent doctors on the South Side. During the first Presidential campaign, the Obamas took a vow of “no new friends.”
Something else that caught my eye in the "Planet Hillary" article is the onion metaphor. (No, not onion rings. For that, go here.)
James Carville has compared the Clinton world, perhaps not so originally, to an onion (it’s safest, he has said, to exist in the third or fourth layer)....

Hillary Clinton’s truest challenge, it would seem, is not to make the country glimpse who she was 40 years ago; it’s to recognize that for all the layers that have been added to the onion, there’s still something at the center that’s aching for the rest to be peeled away.
I thought the whole point of the layers of the onion metaphor was that there is nothing inside. It's only layers. Layers aren't added to an onion. Layers are the onion. There is no core. And onions don't ache. And if they did, they wouldn't ache for all the layers to be peeled away. There'd be nothing left.

"Texas judge ruled on Friday that a Fort Worth hospital must remove the life support of a pregnant brain-dead woman..."

"... siding with the husband and family in a case that has drawn national attention."

At issue was a state statute barring doctors from from withdrawing or withholding “life-sustaining treatment” from a pregnant patient.

Here's our previous discussion of the case, from a couple weeks ago. In the comments there, I said:
Do we know that the doctors are on the other side from the family? Maybe they want the lawsuit attacking the statute so they can get back to practicing medicine as they see fit. I think all they are saying is we must follow this law. Someone asked why the woman is on a ventilator. Maybe it's to set up the attack on what is thought to be a bad statute. 
ADDED: More here, explaining that the decision was based on interpreting the statute not to requiring treatment of a dead person. The argument that the Texas legislature might have intended to protect the unborn, was rejected. The family's lawyer had argued that pregnant women "die every day," and "When they die, their fetus dies with them. That is the way it’s always been, and the way it should be."

The deadness of the woman was described by the husband in these terribly sad words:
When I bend down to kiss her forehead, her usual scent is gone, replaced instead with what I can only describe as the smell of death. As a paramedic, I am very familiar with this smell, and I now recognize it when I kiss my wife. In addition, Marlise’s hands no longer naturally grip mine for an embrace. Her limbs have become so stiff and rigid due to her deteriorating condition that now, when I move her hands, her bones crack, and her legs are nothing more than dead weight.

"A Kansas court ruled on Wednesday that a sperm donor must pay child support for his offspring..."

"... because he and the mother did not conduct their transaction through a state-approved channel."

"Given the limited life expectancy of someone my age, is it justified to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to extend a nonagenarian’s life a little longer?"

"That is a question needing more discussion than I can undertake here. I would hardly be an unbiased voice, since it was my life that was at stake, and I was very glad it was saved. Of course, in our health system, charges may have little relation to true costs, making such a discussion still more difficult to pursue."

From an article in The New York Review of Books titled "On Breaking One’s Neck," written by a doctor who fell down the stairs. ("I can remember only a few details, but recall being taken for a CT scan and other X-ray studies. But very quickly after that, I became short of breath and started to choke. I was told later that I exclaimed, 'I need to be intubated'....")

"Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Obama administration will 'very soon' issue some regulations that would make it easier for commercial banks to do business with legal marijuana operations..."

So begins the article at The Nation, which uses the misnomer "legal marijuana operations." Selling marijuana is a criminal offense under federal law.
“You don’t want just huge amounts of cash in these places. They want to be able to use the banking system,” [Holder] said. “There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash, substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited, is something that would worry me, just from a law enforcement perspective.”
This is the problem we discussed last week, here.

"Perhaps because poverty strips people of happiness in the short term, it forces them to take the long view..."

"... to focus on the relationships they have with their children, their gods, and their friends, which become more meaningful over time."

From a piece in The New Yorker titled "Do the Poor Have More Meaningful Lives?" The phrase "long view" resonated with something in that much-talked-about New Yorker piece about Barack Obama. "The Long View" is the title of section 2 of the 10-part article:
While we were waiting for Obama to speak to the group, I asked [Valerie] Jarrett whether the health-care rollout had been the worst political fiasco Obama had confronted so far.

“I really don’t think so,” she said. Like all Obama advisers, she was convinced that the problems would get “fixed”—just as Social Security was fixed after a balky start, in 1937—and the memory of the botched rollout would recede. That was the hope and that was the spin. And then she said something that I’ve come to think of as the Administration’s mantra: “The President always takes the long view.”

That appeal to patience and historical reckoning, an appeal that risks a maddening high-mindedness, is something that everyone around Obama trots out to combat the hysterias of any given moment. “He has learned through those vicissitudes that every day is Election Day in Washington and everyone is writing history in ten-minute intervals,” Axelrod told me. “But the truth is that history is written over a long period of time—and he will be judged in the long term.”
What I'm hearing in the resonance between the 2 articles is: Settle down and stop expecting anything anytime soon. It's really not important that you be satisfied now, with your life or with the leaders who you might imagine should be helping you with your immediate problems. It's all for the best. Trust me. It will all make sense in the end.

"Inequality is the greatest crisis facing America today... Once you get that, everything else flows... Most Democratic politicians are afraid to even speak about economic inequality."

Said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at a big lefty rally in midtown Manhattan last night. 
Schneiderman... suggest[ed that] they were terrified of “being labeled a Sandinista" (as De Blasio was tagged in a Times profile last year) "or an eyeliner-wearer" (Cuomo has apparently been asking people if Schneiderman wears the stuff).
Eyeliner?! The Cuomo remark was reported in the NYT last week in an article with a helpful photograph of the 2 men. You decide if Schneiderman is wearing eyeliner. Me, I care nothing about Schneiderman. It's Cuomo who might run for President, so I gazed at him... and ended up thinking about whether he'd look better with eyeliner. AKA "guyliner."

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself if you are a guy considering wearing eyeliner. I'm just going to answer them for Andrew Cuomo:

At the Black-and-Chocolate Café...

... throw us some scraps.

"'Claudine must have lost her bearings.' Althouse said."

"'Chase must have stayed with her about 30 hours. He was barking to try and attract attention, and if it wouldn’t have been for him, they might not have found her for weeks. She rescued him, and then he tried to rescue her. And now he is without a home.'"

"The U.S. has created a Big Brother system."

And Edward Snowden "will not be sent out of Russia," according to Aleksei K. Pushkov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of Parliamen, quoted in the NYT, which also calls him "Mr. Pushkin."

Pushkov... Pushkin... what's the difference?

(Alexander Pushkin was one of the great Russian writers.)

Facebook post by Democratic legislator during Scott Walker's SOTSA: "OMG... this speech is so full of (expletive). Wish I could get up and walk out."

Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, has since apologized for writing a dirty word, but has expressly refused to apologize for the rest of the sentiment or for the questionable etiquette of Facebooking negatively from the legislative chamber during the Governor's address.
"I will not apologize for my remark, but I will apologize for swearing.... As a Democrat I can no longer sit back and allow the majority party to silence my voice."
It's not as though she yelled out "You lie!"

Walker, asked for his response, noted that in-state Democratic Party politicians never say anything supportive to him but that he himself tries to be respectful to Democrats personally and to concentrate on talking about policy.
"You notice, when I'm at the White House — contrary to that approach — I say nothing [but] positive things about meeting with the president. He is the president, whether I agree with him all the time or not."
(The bracketed word replaces "about," which I take to be a mistranscription of what Walker said.)

So Walker seems to take the "civility" notion seriously, at least as a code of personal conduct. Obviously, he doesn't — and can't — believe his opponents will show him civility.

The phrase "the Color Line."

The NYT has an opinion piece titled "Cousins, Across the Color Line," about present-day Americans of different races who trace their ancestry to the same white person, for example, those who see themselves as descendants of Thomas Jefferson.
At one point, Gayle [who is black and considers herself a descendant of Jefferson] asked me [a white woman who also considers herself a Jefferson descendant] if I was looking for absolution for what my family did, and we both agreed the word was imperfect. I think instead we are both looking for some present-tense reconciliation. We acknowledge our desire to feel connected to our shared history, and appreciate the fact that we can sit together, looking at the mystery of the past and trying to articulate what it means....

There is something radical in knowing Gayle....
The author, Tess Taylor, doesn't use the term "color line" in her text, though she does mention  reaching "across racial lines." The word "line" is also used in the essay to refer to ancestral lines, but put that to the side. I want to examine the inference, in the headline, that if a black and a white person today are connecting, they are crossing something called "the color line."

Is the prosecution of Dinesh d'Souza politically motivated?

"It is not clear from the court documents what led investigators to Mr. D’Souza in a fund-raising case involving relatively small donations, in a race that ended in a blowout win for Ms. Gillibrand. Ms. Long raised about $785,000 in the race."

Well, he made that movie attacking Obama, but when I read what his lawyer is saying....
"Mr. D’Souza did not act with any corrupt or criminal intent whatsoever.... He and the candidate have been friends since their college days, and at most, this was an act of misguided friendship by D’Souza."
... I think it looks pretty much like a confession that D'Souza committed the criminal acts. What's the defense? That he's a good person who meant well and enjoyed camaraderie with the beneficiary of his illegal acts? I don't think campaign finance laws work that way, but maybe I'm wrong. Personally, I avoid campaign finance because I think the law is set up to snag people on all sorts of weird details. I'm troubled by that, because it means that you can't run for office unless you have plenty of legal advice, so how do you begin to run for office? It's really oppressive. But if there's going to be oppression like that, it can't be an out that you didn't mean to violate any law, can it?

Since the legal minefield intimidates most of us out of engaging in fund-raising at all, those who do venture forth should be blown away by every infraction, don't you think? Being a famous movie-maker who looks like he's on an enemies list shouldn't save you.

(We saw D'Souza's movie, and I blogged about it here and here.)

ADDED: Thanks to Instapundit for linking to this post and for expanding on the reasons for suspecting that the answer to the question in my post title is yes. I can see in his comments section (and perhaps also in mine) that some readers are having trouble understanding my point, which is similar to what I say about legalizing marijuana. Laws need to be enforced neutrally, across the board, or we need to be free of them. When the executive authority spares its friends or, worse, targets its enemies, what is revealed is the insufficient or fake commitment to rules that bind everyone and that deter rule-followers (like me) from engaging in activities we might want to engage in. I want to smoke out this insufficient or fake commitment to campaign finance law by challenging government to prosecute all violators. If that challenge is unmet, we deserve different laws.

AND: It's really quite unfair, when some candidates spent lots of money carefully avoiding violations of the law and forgo contributions that would violate the law, for another candidate to get away with violations. But it doesn't undo the unfairness to prosecute some and not others. It only breeds more disrespect for the law. When government is churning out a lot of rules — especially in an area that burdens political and free-speech rights — it has a special obligation to commit to equal and predictable enforcement of the law. Otherwise it looks like these laws exist for the purpose of deterring political participation and to punish political enemies.

Written strangely early in the morning.

A post title that's also a tag here at Althouse.

Am I the only one up at 4 a.m.? When is Daylight Saving Time coming back? I'm pre-adapted to it, a bit ridiculously.

Here's a video Meade took of me skiing down what subjectively feels like a dangerously precipitous decline. The video makes me laugh because — again subjectively, as a viewer of a video — I can barely see that there's any decline at all.

It's surprisingly lovely to get old.

Yesterday, Meade — driving me home after a class that ended at 5:30 — asked me if it was perhaps the 5-year anniversary of our first meeting. I wasn't sure. Why mention anniversaries of things you don't remember the date of? I didn't remember what day it was either, but I was pretty sure it was earlier than January 23rd. The date I remember is February 13th, the second time we met, which was not just a more powerful meeting, but an easier date to remember, it being the day before Valentine's Day. When we got back to the house, I researched the date of the first meeting by searching my blog for "The Wrestler," because that was the movie we saw, and I knew I'd blogged it. I found "10 thoughts about 'The Wrestler,'" none of which have anything to do with Meade, though the post is updated to say: "This post memorializes my first date with Meade, on January 17, 2009."

I should be able to remember that. January 17th was the birthday of my father's father, the grandfather we called Pop.

Ah! Now, I hear Meade walking around on the floor above my work spot. I'm not the only one up anymore.

January 23, 2014

At the Tea Glass Café...

... release your inner robot.

"If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so, but we’re also a nation of laws."

Said Obama, quoted in David Remnick's New Yorker article. That caught my ear — I was listening to the podcast — because 2 days into Spring semester, I've taught one class in each of 2 courses, and both courses begin with Marbury v. Madison.

Obama's statement resonated with a very familiar passage in the 1803 Supreme Court case:
The Government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men.
Compare the quotes. Key word variation: "also" versus "not."

"Bieber's entourage blocked off local streets to create a drag strip for him...."

"A police report described at least four black Cadillac SUV's blocking roads in front and behind two sports cars, causing backed up traffic."
"He basically didn’t want to comply with none of the officers on the scene, questioning every order that they gave him. He wouldn’t take his hands out of his pockets. He was very uncooperative with the officers at the scene, using profanity."
Justin Bieber is 19 and a Canadian citizen. The linked article quotes a defense lawyer (not his lawyer) saying that with the combination of DUI, resisting arrest, and speed exhibition there is "avery real possibility of jail time":
"The message prosecutors will want to send is that he can’t go barnstorming around the country, renting exotic cars and drag racing in the streets, putting other lives at risk. That’s not conduct the courts are going to just allow to happen... As far as immigration, there’s very little chance he’d be deported over this. These aren’t considered crimes of moral turpitude. This isn’t burglary, murder or grand theft. Typically, this isn’t something that would get you deported."
Wait! It says he caused backed up traffic. That's Chris Christie level moral turpitude!

"Planet Hillary."

NYT Magazine cover, revealed via Twitter.

What a thing to do to a woman's face! It made me think of the famous image in the old Georges Méliès film "A Trip to the Moon."

AND: Come on, parachute — parasol — onto Planet Hillary:

Watch out for the Tea Partiers! You'll know them by their phony-baloney "grassroots" costumes and Hillary fights them with her parasol. And it's under the sea in the world of the feminist mermaids. Watch out for Bill Clinton and his dress-staining emanations at 3:29.

And you know you're never sure
But you're sure you could be right
If you held yourself up to the light
And the embers never fade in your city by the lake
The place where you were born

Ardor for water.

I missed "The Life and Death of a Drop," the lecture by University of Chicago physics professor Sidney Nagel that I promoted on the blog yesterday. It conflicted with Scott Walker's State of the State Address, which I did watch live, but that's not why I didn't attend. I easily could have time-shifted my experience with Scott's SOTSA using the DVR. I was just being lazy and cold-averse.

Anyway, here's a report of the lecture about drops:
“Each step of a drop’s life arouses astonishment,” he said. “Nature is subtle, but we have tools to decipher her code.... I’m trying to tell you why this is important physics to know, but I’m showing this movie for another reason. This is an uncommonly beautiful thing to watch... It’s that aesthetic sense which has just as much compelled me to study this as the importance of the science itself. I really believe that this is a perfectly good reason to study this behavior.”
That reminded me of that interview with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that we were talking about the other day, here. Remember, she was asked how to get girls to go into STEM majors, rather than the "helping professions," and Gillibrand's idea was to leverage the (supposed) female desire to help people by explaining to young girls that science and technology do ultimately benefit people.

That quote from Nagel suggests another approach. Appeal to the love of beauty, reveal the aesthetic aspects of science, and let the girls — not to mention boys — know that it's just fine to pursue what you feel compelled to look at because it is beautiful. That makes science more like other things you instinctively feel drawn to put your time into when you are young.

Make the study of science intrinsically rewarding instead of portraying it as a means to an end, where the scientist supposedly loves other people, but instead of working with people, closes herself up in a lab and pays attention to things other than people, urge herself onward by imagining the people out there who will benefit.

It's better to love exactly what you are doing. Have the object of your study be the beautiful thing that you love, as Professor Nagel loves his drop of water.

"As a candidate for Governor, I announced an aggressive jobs goal," said Scott Walker in his State of the State Address last night.

PDF text here. That aggressive goal is unmet — and Walker's opponents love, above all, to point to that unmet goal — but Walker talked about it, a lot, and spoke the number, 250,000.
When I spoke about our jobs goal more than four years ago, I also made a pledge to help the people of Wisconsin create 10,000 new businesses by 2015. Tonight, I am proud to announce we exceeded that goal with nearly 13,000 new businesses created so far.

This is a great sign for the future as thousands of new employers bring the potential of even more jobs. Think about it, if each of these new ventures grew by 15 employees or more by next year, we would more than exceed our 250,000 jobs goal.
So he spoke openly about the numbers, presenting them in a manner that might instill confidence in his continued leadership. For example:

"Shifting blame to our dead ambassador is wrong on the facts."

"I know — I was there."

"But many of the neurons in the brains of the sedentary rats had sprouted far more new tentacle-like arms known as branches."

"Branches connect healthy neurons into the nervous system. But these neurons now had more branches than normal neurons would have, making them more sensitive to stimuli and apt to zap scattershot messages into the nervous system."

Yes, but the rats were not watching television.

"I can imagine some proponents of religion saying that the true believer, doing anything God requires, feels free and joyful."

"God may seem to be saying what old-school parents say to children: You're going to do it and you're going to like it."

That's just something I said at the end of a long update to yesterday's post about marriage. I wanted to start a new post on this new day because I imagine readers only seeing the posts with today's date and because there are already 99 comments on that and they all predate the update, which I thought could use a fresh comments thread.

January 22, 2014

"The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice."

"The husband's part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else."

IN THE COMMENTS: Dr Weevil said (and Instapundit quoted this):
This couple could very easily get all the lefties to stop criticizing and even to admire them. All they have to do is keep the Biblical quotations to themselves and just tell people they're really into BDSM, she's the M and he's the S, she really likes to be disciplined, he really enjoys disciplining her, and who are you to judge? They can be totally traditional in the privacy of their own home and totally transgressive in public. Win-win!
Now, that's funny — and Instapundit twists the humor by saying if the public display of religion were Muslim (rather than Christian), the lefties would refrain from criticizing. I see the humor, but I'm going to take the underlying concepts seriously.

1. Are the lefties criticizing? The linked article is the lefty (politely lefty) website Talking Points Memo (which links to a WaPo article). I see "This post has been updated," so maybe it was nastier before, but I see a pretty neutral account of the beliefs of Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), with verbatim quotes from his memoir and from his spokesman who says that The Washington Post misread the book, which in fact shows that "Pearce believes the phrase 'submission' is widely misunderstood in society and criticizes those who distort the bible to justify male dominance." TPM quotes a passage of the book that the spokesperson said shows what Pearce really thinks:
"I reasoned that surely Jesus did not in any way teach the idea of a chauvinistic male-centered marriage.... We are all created in God’s image, I reasoned, so it could not be that the man is in some way superior or the wife inferior."
That's TPM, and that post was updated, so maybe there are lefties somewhere criticizing, but if that's the way you think, aren't you displaying the very close-mindedness of which you'd like to accuse those terrible lefties?

Here's the underlying WaPo piece, which has an update appended to the text of its original article. WaPo quotes the Bible passage ("the book of Ephesians says wives should 'submit to their husbands in everything'"), recounts the Pearce's struggle to make sense of it, rather than to ignore it as "[m]any of their friends" did, and quotes Pearce's opinion that it is not a basis for husbands to "bully their wives and families" or to claim "authoritarian control."

WaPo notes that "Democrats in recent years have repeatedly attacked Republicans for their views on and comments about women's issues," and that "Since that election, GOP leaders have sought to coach their members on how to be more sensitive when talking about women's issues." That is, WaPo refers to the potential for Pearce's words to be used against him, the propensity of Democrats to do exactly that, and the way GOP leaders worry about candidates that give Democrats any raw material. That's pretty damned balanced. I guess you can say that WaPo made the Democrats look like lefties who pounce on anything to push the old war-on-women theme, but let some Democrats step forward then and trash Pearce for reading the Bible and trying to understand it in the context of a loving, equality-minded couple. What Pearce is saying is the typical stuff of modern American church sermons, and liberals have heard and absorbed these sermons too.

2. Sexual behavior of the domination-and-submission variety has to do with individuals discovering what amuses them on a purely physical level. I don't see anyone of any prominence in America recommending submissive sexuality as a matter of principle or as something to be imposed on women who don't independently and enthusiastically enjoy it. Quite the opposite. I see some men wanting the submissive role. And some women needing encouragement — because it seems politically incorrect — to go ahead and enjoy submission if that's what they find sexually exciting. But I'm not seeing any conspicuous talk of imposing sexual submission on nonvolunteers. That behavior occurs, and when it does, in this country, we call it a crime. When's the last time you heard an American take the position that within a marriage rape is impossible?

3. What's "totally traditional" is to put devotion to religion above one's immediate sexual pleasures. If you go public flaunting your enjoyment of domination and submission, you're conveying a message that is completely the opposite of what is traditional and that has no power to persuade others to do anything because of religion or because of tradition. Your only message is: Whatever turns you on. 

Now, it might turn you on to pretend to believe that God requires you to submit to your sexual partner. And in traditional societies where people believe God requires submission, women may adapt by eroticizing subordination. But what religion gives you extra credit for finding the fulfillment of sexual requirements sexy?

The answer to that question is actually not obvious, and feel free — it's a free country — to explore the nuance. I can imagine some proponents of religion saying that the true believer, doing anything God requires, feels free and joyful. God may seem to be saying what old-school parents say to children: You're going to do it and you're going to like it. As they say in The Book of Common Prayer: "O God... whose service is perfect freedom...."

ADDED: I started a new thread for commenting all the added material.

"Frogs singing in Malaysian swamp at dusk judged to be 'most beautiful sound in the world.'"

"The most amazing, rich recording of just life — teeming life... And listening to it you really get the sense of nature at its fullest, and most abundant and most exciting."

The visualization of bird flight.

"Dennis Hlynsky captured video of starlings congregating at Massachusetts' Seekonk Speedway and then digitally drew in their flight paths."

"What Famous Person Should You Get High With?"

I got Jennifer Lawrence.

At the Workspace Café...


... it's Day 2 of what we call Spring Semester.

This isn't about me, this is about me being you....

A journey into the mind of Wendy Davis, who thinks people have a lot of nerve to look into her life story, which after all is only a story that exists to be a story about everybody:
The story of my life is also the story of millions of single mothers... millions of young dreamers ... millions of families.... Your stories are why I’m running....
It's the old "I'm you" routine. I remember it from election year 2010. Cue the tinkling pianos:

"Last Wednesday, Scott Gottlieb and I debated Jonathan Chait and Douglas Kamerow on this proposition: 'Resolved: Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue.'"

"I was feeling a little trepid, for three reasons: First, I’ve never done any formal debate; second, the resolution gave the 'for' side a built-in handicap, as the 'against' side just had to prove that Obamacare might not be completely beyond rescue; and third, we were debating on the Upper West Side. Now, I grew up on the Upper West Side and love it dearly. But for this particular resolution, it’s about the unfriendliest territory this side of Pyongyang."

Writes Megan McArdle. I almost got fervid over the unfairness of the absolutism of the proposition she had to defend, but that's how to keep the affair from being tepid, so let me instead talk about the fascinating word choice, trepid.

We know "trepidation." Is "trepid" a word? The (unlinkable) OED says yes. It's officially rare, but why not revive the spiffy, short word that ought to romp and play in the living language if the clunky "trepidation" lumbers around like it's helping anybody with anything? "Trepid" means "Trembling; agitated; fearful," and it's traced back to 1650 and was notably used by Thackeray in 1859: "The poor little trepid creature, panting and helpless under the great eyes."

I'm sure McArdle was not panting and helpless under the great eyes of Jonathan Chait...

... but go to the link to read her account. And here's Chait's account.

"As a librarian my reactions are 1. That must be sooooo noisy, 2. How do people who can't use stairs get books..."

"... and 3. That space is crap for preserving books! How you gonna keep the heat and humidity at standard levels with those big windows?"

Also: "I like to think the interior of the MicroSD card in my Nook looks sort of like this."

This, meaning:

"Physicist to give lecture... on the fate of a water drop."

Professor Sidney Nagel will give a lecture called "The Life and Death of a Drop," tonight at Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery — free and open to the public.

"The Supreme Court Case That Could Clobber Public-Sector Unions."

Garrett Epps looks at yesterday's oral argument.
[The National Right to Work Committee argues] that permitting the [public-sector] unions to collect fees for representing non-members—the so-called “agency fee”—violates the First Amendment....

Since public employees work for government, everything they bargain about is political. Higher wages, better benefits, new work rules—all affect the state budget. Assessing fees from non-members thus requires them to pay for political speech.

All the expenses, in other words, are non-chargeable.

Scalia appeared skeptical of that argument, but it went over with three of the other four conservatives.
So liberal hopes hang on Scalia of all people. Epps extracts some quotes.


If you're enjoying this blog, consider using the Althouse Amazon Portal when you've got some on-line shopping to do. You can make a contribution to this blog without paying anything extra for whatever it is you need.

Maybe, for example, you need some skijoring supplies.

"American society's aestheticization of hairless female genitalia apparently came at the cost of a veritable epidemic of grooming-related injuries."

The New Republic reports, pointing to data based on the percentage increase in emergency room visits. There's a fivefold increase (between 2002 and 2010), but I'm seeing no reference to the actual numbers (and no discussion of whether the tendency to avail oneself of emergency room services has changed), so I have no idea whether this assertion that there's "a veritable epidemic" of shaving accidents out there is true.

I do suspect that TNR is in the anti-hair-removal propaganda business. The article begins:
The Brazilian wax has been on its way out for a while. But what may be its final death throe comes, according to the Atlantic Wire, in the form of unshaved mannequins on display at American Apparel.
They missed what I would have thought should be the de rigueur reference, last Sunday's new episode of "Girls," where a door was suddenly flung open, and there was the new girl, played by Gaby Hoffmann, naked from the waist down. Hoffman is interviewed:

Exclusion of gay individuals from the jury requires an explanation, a 9th Circuit panel rules.

The issue here is peremptory challenges, which ordinarily do not require explanation, but there is Supreme Court case law requiring explanation when these challenges seem to be based on race or sex. That is, the opposing lawyer can require the lawyer who challenged the would-be juror to give some reason other than race or sex for wanting to exclude this person. Should sexual orientation be treated the same way?

Unlike race and sex, a person's sexual orientation isn't openly visible unless you use stereotypes and inference, but in this case, the challenged individual had answered some questions that elicited answers about his "partner" that included the pronoun "he."
“The record persuasively demonstrates that” the juror “was struck because of his sexual orientation,” [Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel]. “Permitting a strike based on sexual orientation would send the false message that gays and lesbians could not be trusted to reason fairly on issues of great import to the community or the nation,” he added....
How will this work in future cases? Will lawyers accuse lawyers of excluding someone because he is or seems gay? Someone called in for jury duty will be subjected to lawyers arguing over whether he is perceived as gay?

Anyway, the 9th Circuit panel determined that the Supreme Court's DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, required heightened scrutiny for discrimination based on sexual orientation:
"We have analyzed the Supreme Court precedent... by considering what the court actually did, rather than by dissecting isolated pieces of text."
That's a useful prod. The Supreme Court — if it's going to have a system of levels of scrutiny — ought to tell us outright what level it's on. 

"An anti-suicide smock, Ferguson, turtle suit, or suicide gown is a tear-resistant single-piece outer garment..."

"... that is generally used to prevent a hospitalized, incarcerated, or otherwise detained individual from forming a noose with the garment to commit suicide. The smock is typically a simple, sturdily quilted, collarless, sleeveless, gown with adjustable openings at the shoulders and down the front that are closed with nylon hook-and-loop or similar fasteners. The thickness of the garment makes it impossible to roll or fold the garment so it can be used as a noose. It is not a restraint and provides modesty and warmth while not impeding the mobility of the wearer."

From the Wikipedia article "Anti-suicide smock," found after reading the NYT article "A Movie Date, a Text Message and a Fatal Shot," which contained the sentence: "The shooting and Mr. Reeves’ appearance in court, looking dazed in his dark green antisuicide smock, shocked those who know him and describe him as generous and friendly."

(Photo of Curtis J. Reeves Jr. in the green sleeveless garment.)

"If I showed you a vignette of this, without any indication of where I am, you could have guessed Turkey, yes, maybe, but also Syria in better times..."

"... or Lebanon or any other country that is so close to where I am that the habits of the people surely don't change just because some years ago a border was drawn between one group and the next."

(Scroll down for the photo of the 2 guys preparing some flatbread concoction.)

I see that the Washington Post has decided to start doing headlines in the Upworthy/Buzzfeed form.

"This Google Glass user went to the movies. Then he got interrogated for about four hours."

"These guys are often described as libertarians; I think it's the gay and torture things."

Lefty blogger Roy Edroso, seeing that "the Washington Post has formed some kind of alliance with The Volokh Conspiracy," picks through his archives to find the most terrible (to his lefty readers) things various VC bloggers have written over the years.

Roy has made it his thing to monitor "right-wing" bloggers for the amusement and horror of lefty readers, so you'd think he'd be able to cherry-pick more horrifying material, and he lacks the grace to say you know, these guys pretty much are libertarians.

That makes you the hack, Roy.

January 21, 2014

Volokh Conspiracy relocates...

... to the Washington Post.

ADDED: I should have linked to the particular post where Eugene Volokh explains the move: here. When I put up this post last night, it was too late for me to spot the relevant post title, which is very funny to me early in the morning: "In Brazil, you can always find the Amazon — in America, the Amazon finds you." The post makes no mention of Jeff Bezos.

That post was also useful in pointing me to the method for getting free access to the whole WaPo site which you can do if you have a .edu and .gov email address. (More important to me than that is whether I can get my readers over the paywall when I link. That's true at the NYT, where I pay for my own access.)

Communal toilets...

... for the Sochi Olympics.

"Although the chair also comes in 'white woman,' we can't help but be filled with anger and frustration over the onslaught of negative imagery...."

For the annals of mitigating factors.

"My paraplegic opponent... 'hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.'"

There's a gaffe for the ages.

What's Wonkblog without Ezra? And what's Ezra without Wonkblog?

Ezra Klein asked for more than The Washington Post was willing to give him. And now he'll take his name, but WaPo keeps Wonkblog, where Klein wrote with the assistance of 8 staffers, and had 4 million page views a month.

Previous discussion here on the Althouse blog: "Does Ezra Klein really have a following, the way Nate Silver had a following?" (January 3, 2014).

"I am now 'solitary and alone,' having no companion in the house with me."

"I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection."

"Why the secrecy, especially for an event involving so many well-known people?"

"Maybe the Obamas just wanted a little privacy for an important occasion in the first lady's life...."
... although having 500 guests, including some of the most famous people on the planet, is perhaps not the best way to achieve that goal. Or maybe, since the president has announced he is devoting the rest of his time in office to an "inequality agenda," the White House felt photos of a champagne-soaked, star-studded party would be somewhat off-message....
Maybe they just wanted to find out which, if any, of their 500 best friends they can't trust. Or maybe pretending it's all very secret is the only way left to to make jaded ultra-insiders feel the old thrill of insideriness that they felt when they got in for the very first time. Ooh!... Feels so good inside... When you hold me, and your heart beats, next to mine... Yeah, you made me feel... shiny and new!

"I’ve known what communism is and when the people depend on government, that’s wrong; then the government has control over you."

Says Maria Conchita Alonso, explaining her support for Tim Donnelly, who's seeking the GOP nomination in the California gubernatorial race, which got her ousted from a San Francisco production of "The Vagina Monologues." She portrays her departure as non-involuntary:
"I said, ‘Well, you know the ... production doesn’t need to be hurt by me,... I told them, ‘Listen, it’s the best for everybody.’ ”
She also doesn't like being accused of doing a Latina stereotype in that Donnelly ad, especially the focus on the Chihuahua:
“I’m like, ‘Oh my God!... I rescued her from a shelter three years ago. I named her Tequila because we went to the shelter and I was kind of drunk. I was tequila-ed out. That’s the true story.”

"If low-wage men don’t present women with much of a good deal, why not double, or triple, or quadruple them up?"

"Pool resources, boost household income, and promote family values at the same time?" writes Judith Warner at Time Magazine, quoted at Weekly Standard under the headline "Time Magazine Endorses 'Polyandry.'"

Well, Warner is employing humor to critique the conservative argument that marriage is the solution to poverty and to highlight the problem of low wages. I guess her use of the word "seriously" threw some readers off. Noting something Barbara Ehrenreich said that made an audience laugh, Warner wrote: "But I think we should take Ehrenreich seriously." Like you never heard a comedian, upon getting one laugh, set up the next joke with "But seriously...."

I know, it's difficult to perceive humor coming from women. You don't expect it, and then it's a little subtle sometimes. Maybe if a woman has multiple husbands, at least one of them will get each of her jokes. I'm serious.

Whose leg felt that thrill?

The NYT book review of Gabriel Sherman’s biography of Roger Ailes, "The Loudest Voice in the Room," is written by Janet Maslin, who trashes the book, but not because she likes Ailes. It's that Sherman failed to get the goods on Ailes.

I just want to focus on one sentence:
The second half of “The Loudest Voice in the Room” is mostly devoted to recent and familiar news, beginning with the moment Fox began getting thrills up its leg over Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky debacle. 
Come on. MSNBC owns the expression "thrill up my leg." Even though the Bill-and-Monica story had lots of sex and Fox News may have been eager to cover it, the eagerness didn't arise out of a vector of thrill going toward the groin. The journalistic enthusiasm described as a "thrill up my leg" came from Chris Matthews and he was titillated not by anybody's sexual activities but by the speechifying of Barack Obama.

That's on the list of nominees for most ridiculous, embarrassing thing ever said on a TV news show, and we're never going to forget it. Have at Fox News, perhaps by mocking some schoolboy furtively masturbatory outburst if you can, but if you talk of thrills up a leg, that leg is attached to MSNBC.

Etymological sidenote: The original meaning of "debacle" — used above in the phrase "getting thrills up its leg over Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky debacle" — was, according to the (unlinkable) OED "A breaking up of ice in a river; in Geol. a sudden deluge or violent rush of water, which breaks down opposing barriers, and carries before it blocks of stone and other debris." The figurative meaning is: "A sudden breaking up or downfall; a confused rush or rout, a stampede." Yes, it's a dead metaphor, but it goes nicely with blowjobs, don't you think? Not that Bill ever was icy.

Under the headline "Richard Sherman Is Better At Life Than You," Ta-Nehisi Coates says watching football is, for him, "sort of like seeing your ex-wife for coffee."

I'm interested in the Richard Sherman story. I blogged about it yesterday — here (including in the comments) — and I was relatively sympathetic to Sherman, and that was before I heard anyone saying anything in his favor or what Sherman himself wrote the next day.

What I want to talk about is Coates forefronting his ex-wife like that. He begins:
I sat down and watched two football games yesterday for the first time in a couple of years. It was sort of like seeing your ex-wife for coffee. 
Your ex-wife. I didn't take that to mean his ex-wife. He said "your," not "my," and I took the "your" to refer vaguely to the reader's experience. I didn't even stop — as I did in my younger years — to rankle at the presumption that the reader is male. (If I did stop to think about presumptions these days I'd have to concede that the writer might also have pictured female readers who had been married to other females and, despite the recency of gay marriage, had divorced.)

After quoting Sherman saying "I'm intelligent enough and capable enough to understand that you are an ignorant, pompous, egotistical cretin....I am going to crush you on here in front of everybody because I am tired of hearing about it," Coates concludes his column:
Anyway, it was good to see the ex-wife again. It was also good to remember why I left.
That last link goes to an article about football injuries, so what are we to think? Why the gratuitous reference to a woman? Was Coates actually married to someone who, he's implying, cruelly insulted him and threatened violence? Or is this just a stereotype of the ex-wife as a crazy bitch? Coates has his problem with football — whatever you might think about that — but why drag women into the story? Why use the ex-wife as your analogy? 

By the way, the phrase "better at life than you" is Sherman's, and you can hear him say it (and that "cretin" business) in this video from last March:

ADDED: Coates's deployment of the ex-wife stereotype reminded me of Rush Limbaugh — something he famously said about Hillary Clinton in 2006. I looked it up to get the precise text:
But when -- when she's genuine, she sounds like a screeching ex-wife. And -- and -- and I don't say that -- there's nothing against ex-wives or women. I'm just trying to be descriptive here for you. Men will know what I mean by this. 
That was actually more sensitive — more aware of stereotyping and apologetic for resorting to it — than what Coates did.  And Coates, unlike Rush, is someone who's main theme is spotlighting offhand/semi-conscious/unconscious racism. I'm calling him out for offhand/semi-conscious/unconscious sexism.

"The most basic, most rudimentary spiritual need of the Russian people is the need for suffering, ever-present and unquenchable, everywhere and in everything."

Said the Russian father of a NYT op-ed writer trying to explain why Russians don't get the American answer to the question "How are you?" The father was rejecting her offer of an explanation which was that the Soviets had "devalued 'fine'" with propaganda pushing you as "a citizen of a Communist utopia... to feel fine all the time (never mind the time you spent squabbling over the communal stove or waiting in a two-hour line to buy toilet paper)."

Is the American culture of answering "fine" pervasive? Are there not regional pockets of answering "Not dead yet" or some such thing? Certainly, there are numerous American eccentrics who take the question seriously and frankly tell you about travails and ailments. And there are others who take the relationship seriously and come up with something distinctive to make the social interaction come alive. Some of us are scrupulously honest and find it hard to say the ritualistic "fine." We may feel that we're displaying some humanity simply through using a few more words, like: "I'm doing very well, thanks."

The op-ed writer — Alina Simone — says the American-style "fine" "makes Russians think that Americans have no soul." I've known some subgroups of American culture where people look down on other Americans because of their rituals of pleasantry upon first or short meeting. There's something off about imagining that other people have no soul. Anyone who thinks that must regard himself as deep and the other as shallow. Is that not shallow?

Does this blog have an unstated theme?

John says:
I think there is an unstated theme: saying what isn't said. Let's look at what people are saying. Let's stop and think about what they're notably not saying out loud. And let's take it upon ourselves to say it out loud. That's what I call "saying what isn't said," and that's what has always distinguished the Althouse blog from other blogs that are merely effective at saying the right things to please their audience. It's easy to look at what others are saying, pick the statements that appeal to us, and repeat them. We all do that sometimes. But those who do only that are missing something.

January 20, 2014

"4 Ways Martin Luther King Was More Radical Than You Thought."

At Think Progress, where "more radical than you thought" implies and that's a good thing.

The French First lady said "she wanted to weather the storm with him in the fashion of Hillary Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal."

... when Valerie Trierweiler first heard about President François Hollande’s secret affair the young actress Julie Gayet.

But then she changed her mind. The First Lady is now "in negotiations, including legal ones" to end her relationship with Hollande, but she will not be getting a divorce. Do you know why?

At the Ski Dog Café...

... there's mush room.

"Oh! Sorry! Dior! You asked me..."

"... and all I could talk about is armpit vaginas."

The charming Jennifer Lawrence at the SAG Awards.

"The ceruse or white Lead, wherewith women use to paint themselves was, without doubt, brought in use by the divell, the capitall enemie of nature..."

"... therwith to transforme humane creatures, of fair, making them ugly, enormious and abominable... a man might easily cut off a curd or cheese-cake from either of their cheeks."

Wrote Thomas Tuke in "A treatise against Painting and Tincturing of Men and Women," in 1616.

Found on this page about make-up in Elizabethan times, which I was looking up in an effort to gain insight into some lines of Shakespearean sonnet that someone quoted the other day:
When forty winters have besieged thy brow
And dug deep trenches in thy beauty's field...
That was quoted a propos of a discussion I started about the use of the word "winters" in place of "years," which I'd seen reading "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle." I was reading that because I was reading about the "Harrying of the North," because I was researching the origin of the term (and tactic) "scorched earth," which I got to  wondering about only because an entomologist named Schorsch read (and commented on) my post "Flesh! and calenture," to respond to my question whether insects have flesh, which came up as a consequence of another commenter pointing out a health-and-virtue food product made from "cricket flesh" on a post about the history of Velveeta, which I'd only noticed because I was reading about some Japanese scientists visualizing cultivating human organs inside the living bodies of pigs. 

Where have your idle thoughts taken you lately and in winters past?

"Many soldiers enjoyed WW1. If they were lucky they would avoid a big offensive..."

"... and much of the time, conditions might be better than at home. For the British there was meat every day - a rare luxury back home - cigarettes, tea and rum, part of a daily diet of over 4,000 calories. Absentee rates due to sickness, an important barometer of a unit's morale were, remarkably, hardly above peacetime rates. Many young men enjoyed the guaranteed pay, the intense comradeship, the responsibility and a much greater sexual freedom than in peacetime Britain."

#10 ("Everyone hated it") from a list at BBC.com of myths about WWI.

"TAR-JAY shoppers Targeted... by KAR-TOE-SHA."

Have you heard about the potato/kaptoxa?

Drudge: "Pot Bowl."

What is Drudge saying? Nothing about the Super Bowl teams or their quarterbacks. The link goes to an article that predates yesterday's games, an article at Fox Sports, saying that a Super Bowl between the Broncos and the Seahawks would be the "first ever Marijuana Bowl," because Denver and Seattle are the major cities "the only states that have legalized recreational marijuana."
Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that if this ends up being the matchup for the Super Bowl, it will be featuring "the two most pro-cannabis-legalization cities in the US." He joked that the game should be renamed "The Super Oobie Doobie Bowl."
Should these legalize-pot people — with their third-rate efforts at humor — be able to seize the spotlight football has created through the spectacle that is football? I'll give Fox credit for switching from quoting St. Pierre to referring generally to "lobbyists." Marijuana "lobbyists" are saying pot might help players deal with their concussions. And they're trying to make something of the beer ads that sponsor football on TV:
Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the pro legalization Marijuana Policy Project in Denver said "Hopefully there will be a break in the beer commercials for some discussion about marijuana laws." 
Commercials are the break. The break in the football game people are trying to watch. We get to watch for free because there are sponsors. There are no breaks from the breaks for discussions of policy questions. Why not a break from the car ads for a discussion about how we should be riding bicycles or a break from the junk for ads for some contemplation of dieting?

Should the Super Bowl be an occasion to focus on the legalization of marijuana?
pollcode.com free polls 

ADDED: A second poll:

If you think marijuana should be legal, do you think there should be marijuana commercials during the Super Bowl?
pollcode.com free polls 

"Like a modern-day Eddie Haskell, the Seahawks corner offered his hand to Crabtree. For some, it would have been a classy move of respect."

"For Sherman, it was the ultimate in postgame taunting on the biggest stage in sports. Sherman promptly got shoved in the face, just like he deserved. Lest anyone doubt the motive behind Sherman’s handshake...."

Video at the link.

Somebody explain to me why the guy who got shoved is the villain. Yes, he was bizarre in the video, but who can imagine how Richard Sherman felt at that moment? Nothing like that will ever happen to you.

Obama said: "if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it."

We're all reading David Remnick's interview with Obama in The New Yorker. I just want to comment on Obama's use — twice — of the expression "hair on it." First, he's talking about depictions of the President in pop culture, and he homes in on the recent movie "Lincoln." Lincoln, his role model,   had the "capacity to speak to and move the country without simplifying."
The real politics resonated with me, because I have yet to see something that we’ve done, or any President has done, that was really important and good, that did not involve some mess and some strong-arming and some shading of how it was initially talked about to a particular member of the legislature who you needed a vote from. Because, if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it — there’s going to be some aspects of it that aren’t clean and neat and immediately elicit applause from everybody.
Later, he's talking about marijuana. He expresses the stock opinions that it's not "more dangerous than alcohol" and that criminal punishments fall more heavily on "African-American kids and Latino kids," and then — perhaps to stave off the question So why not ask Congress to end the prohibition? — he ambles over to the other side of the debate:
Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.... I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?
Hair on it — whether some or a lot of — has become, in the President's mind, a way to visualize the messiness of real-world problems. Now, you can't shave the real world to make it less messy.

Googling, I figured out that this phrase — which I'd never noticed before — came from the realm of business deals. From a 2010 Globe and Mail article defining mergers & acquisitions buzzwords:

"Hair" on a deal is often used to describe a business that has some negative aspects. For example, if you're trying to sell your company and you have one customer that generates 50 per cent of your revenue, you're being sued by a former employee and your customer records are spread in three disparate databases, buyers (or their advisers) may say your company has "a lot of hair on it."
So it came from The World of Those Terrible One-Percenters. It's got nothing to do with the rough and tumble of that experience, long ago, when we smoked pot and wanted a head with hair, long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, down to there, hair.

January 19, 2014

Those who are pushing outrage over ousting Maria Conchita Alonso from "The Vagina Monologues"...

… remember "Veterans Boycotting 'The Butler' Over Jane Fonda's Portrayal Of Nancy Reagan."

Don't be hypocritical!

"On a scale of 1-10, 1 being no damage and 10 being permanent long range damage, how much has the IRS and tax administration been damaged by the current IRS scandal?"

Question asked of a panel of tax law experts at a symposium on tax reform.

Calling "The Vagina Monologues" "claptrap," can I claim to have intended a (tasteless) pun?

All right, there's a lot of discussion of the Maria Conchita Alonso incident in the comments to my post here, including my own participation, and I'm not sure if people are understanding my point, which is heavily premised on my long-held opinion that "The Vagina Monologues" is a terrible play. Those who put it on are engaging in expressive activity, and the additional expressive activity of excluding an actress because she's perceived as right-wing (assuming that's what happened) is part of their overall expression, and thus part of their freedom. It's all more speech in the marketplace of ideas, and I hope the speech influences people to decline to buy tickets to see "The Vagina Monologues" — ever, anywhere.

A commenter, fivewheels, had written:
Well, almost everyone agrees that they "can" do this -- retaliate against Alonso because of her opinions. The tricky part is whether they "should," and whether free speech values should be (shall we say) foremost, especially for artists.
First, thanks for the "foremost." Here's what I said over there:

"The show was shot all over San Francisco, and if the city gave HBO some tax credits, it should sue to get them back."

"The lighting is more fit for a horror film. The interior scenes are wretched; the exterior scenes make San Francisco look grubby. Even the downtrodden parts of Baltimore looked better on HBO’s 'The Wire.'"

The show is "Looking," AKA "'Girls' for Gay Guys," in case you think gay guys need girls.

And it seems to me San Francisco should be made to look grubby. It is grubby, isn't it? But even if it's not, you can't be edgy and HBO-level-arty if everything's idealized.

Wait. Here's a pithier piece on "Looking." Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker:
“Looking”... feature[s a] diffident hero[, a] young m[an] who regard[s] retro gay culture with a sense of bemused incredulity.... “Looking” establishes this generational theme in its first scene, in which Paddy goes cruising, very briefly. He gets a truncated hand job—“Cold hands!” he complains—but it’s less a sex act than a prank. “The guy who gave it to me was very hairy,” he marvels to his friends. “Not hipster hairy. Like, gym-teacher hairy.” (The scene reminded me of the old Onion headline “Ironic Porn Purchase Leads to Unironic Ejaculation.”)

That mock-cruising moment feels a bit blunt, like a thesis statement: this is not your father’s homosexuality. A few other early elements are similarly on the nose....
On the nose... They really don't treasure word editing at The New Yorker anymore. Cut all the clichés, especially the ones that are an obvious straight line for a wisecrack.

"U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy has tweeted her concern at the 'inhumaneness' of a Wakayama Prefecture village’s traditional dolphin hunt."

The tradition: "Every year the fishermen of Taiji corral hundreds of dolphins in a secluded bay, select a few dozen for sale to aquariums and marine parks and then stab the rest to death for meat."

How "traditional" can something about aquariums and marine parks be?

I mean aquariums large enough for dolphins (presuming that there is such a thing).

Also... should an ambassador tweet? And if the ambassador tweets about dolphins, what should we say if she uses social media to express concern about something the Japanese are doing do birds? I think tweet : bird :: click : dolphin, so — being a fan of parallelism, I'd like to see it said that she's clicking her concern about birds.

On Chatter. 

ADDED: What's wrong with eating dolphin meat?

"I don't know why, but if the diamond is blue, and the deceased also had blue eyes..."

"... I hear almost every time that the diamond had the same color as the eyes of the deceased."

For the annals of Emotional Science. 

"The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature."

Maybe so... but in any case: nice headline — even though I got distracted (delighted?) wondering whether it was right [AKA: correct!] to count parentheses as one; a pedant might count each parenthesis separately.

"Madonna Learns She Can't Use the N-Word."

Either that or the press hasn't learned that she learned long ago how to keep you talking about her.