July 12, 2014

"I’d been playing in a lot of bands, and often I’d feel like improvising not on the chords but on the melody or the rhythm or just the mood of a song."

"But I couldn’t. The other musicians didn’t know what I was doing, they got thrown off," said the great jazz bassist Charlie Haden, speaking about a time in the 1950s, before he found Ornette Coleman, who was having a similar problem with other musicians. Here's "The Shape of Jazz to Come," the first album they made together and one of 4 albums that made "1959 The Year that Changed Jazz."

Haden died yesterday, at the age of 76. 

ADDED: Let me embed that "Year That Changed Jazz" video. You'll see Haden, speaking beginning at 7:57, talking about Miles Davis (during the part about the first of the 4 albums, which is "Kind of Blue" ("It makes you feel life so deeply that you could almost cry")).

AND: Start the video at 28:05 to concentrate on the Ornette Coleman material and to hear Haden discuss his connection to Coleman. "This guy started to play — it was like the heavens opened up to me, because I saw and I heard something that I'd been feeling."

The last Ramone...

... Tommy Ramone, dead now, at 62.
Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, and known professionally as Tom or T. Erdelyi, Ramone played [drums] on the first three epoch-making Ramones albums....

Joey Ramone died of lymphoma in 2001; Dee Dee succumbed to a drug overdose in 2002; and Johnny expired from prostate cancer in 2004.
Tommy died of bile duct cancer. Here's a clip of Tommy Ramone from 2012, talking about NYC songs, including The Ramones' "Rockaway Beach" (which he does in acoustic form):

I'm playing that and Meade — from the next room — says: "Boring. Sounds like a guy just making up stuff on State Street."

Here's how it's supposed to sound.

ADDED: Here's the NYT obituary. Excerpt:
“We started auditioning drummers, but they just couldn’t grasp the concept of the band — the speed and simplicity,” Mr. Erdelyi said in a 2011 interview with the website Noisecreep. “So I’d sit down and show them what we were looking for and the guys just finally said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ So I gave it a try and that’s when the sound of the band sort of solidified.”...

Official songwriting credits were shared by the full band. But Mr. Erdelyi was the primary author of several of the Ramones’ early classics, including “Blitzkrieg Bop,” which opens their first album with the chant “Hey ho, let’s go!” and features lyrics that boil teenage angst down to its most basic and kinetic:

What they want, I don’t know

They’re all revved up and ready to g

The place of secrecy within "Wisconsin's Tradition of Clean and Open Government."

If you're following the John Doe investigation in Wisconsin, you may be interested in this new development in the state court challenge to the investigation (there's also a federal court challenge):
A Waukesha County judge on Thursday issued an order allowing the state Government Accountability Board to black out parts of its response to a lawsuit filed against it by the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth. The ruling means the public won't be able to fully analyze the election and ethics board's legal arguments as it defends itself against the suit.

With assistance from the accountability board, prosecutors looked into whether the club and other conservative groups violated campaign finance laws in helping [Governor Scott] Walker and other Republicans in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Prosecutors conducted the probe as a secret John Doe investigation in which targets and witnesses can be required to give testimony and produce documents but are barred from talking to the public about it....

The accountability board wants to keep its filing confidential because under state law board members and their staff can face criminal penalties if they disclose information about their investigations.
Meanwhile, in federal court, hundreds of pages of documents have been released. Thousands of pages remain secret.

The secrecy requirements, as I understand it, were devised to protect those who are under investigation, but I can see how those doing the investigation could exploit the requirement to shield their work from public scrutiny. With secrecy enforced by criminal sanctions, it's hard to fault the Board for demanding secrecy, but that's an absurd way to preserve "Wisconsin's Tradition of Clean and Open Government" — to quote the mission the Government Accountability Board proudly trumpets.

What the framers of the First Amendment had to say about hats.

On August 15, 1789, in the House of Representatives, the subject was "the right of the people peaceably to assemble and consult for their common good," which ultimately became "the right of the people peaceably to assemble," and Theodore Sedgwick, a Federalist from Massachusetts, expressed concern about getting too specific in enumerating rights. The text had "freedom of speech," which already implies the right to assemble to exercise that right, and he rejected the assertion that it should be listed among the rights simply because it is a right:
[I]f the committee were governed by that general principle, they might have gone into a very lengthy enumeration of rights; they might have declared that a man should have a right to wear his hat if he pleased; that he might get up when he pleased, and go to bed when he thought proper; but he would ask the gentleman whether he thought it necessary to enter these trifles in a declaration of rights, in a Government where none of them were intended to be infringed.

"The old Professor-Peter-Peckinpah-all-purpose-anti-personnel-Peckinpah-pocket-pistol-under-the-toupee trick."

Do you remember all the old tricks?

I didn't ever remember that the "old [blank] trick" format as an old joke-making trick was an old "Get Smart" trick, but I got brought up to speed when I made an "old [blank] trick" joke just now. It had gone generic in my head, and I'm glad to drag it back to a proper know-your-meme level of consciousness.

July 11, 2014

"When chemotherapy left me too exhausted to even get out of bed, I would find myself picking up the Bible..."

"... if that’s what happened to be on my nightstand, and reading a favorite verse or two. But if there happened to be a copy of The Hunger Games there instead, a couple of chapters of that would also do the trick."
God is our strength, we read in Psalm 18, and as powerless as I felt during those agonizing months, I discovered courage in His wisdom when it was within arm’s reach, just as I did with Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and David Baldacci’s thriller Stone Cold.

Throughout my life, in fact, the Bible or some other reading material has been there when I needed it most. When I lost my job and worried about how I was going to scrape together next month’s rent in the middle of a brutal recession, I often relied on the Bible, A Tale Of Two Cities, In Cold Blood, The Audacity Of Hope, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Seabiscuit, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a pocket road atlas of the Great Lakes region, The Oxford Companion To Ships And The Sea, or Fodor’s Montréal And Québec City 2009....

"I care deeply about federal judicial transparency, I don’t see much of that and if I quit [blogging] there would be even less of it..."

"... and none of it from federal district judges. The implicit assumption of the thoughtful lawyer who wrote me is that mystery and mythology are better for the legal profession and the judiciary than transparency, particularly when the transparency revealed is raw. I profoundly disagree."

Writes Federal District Judge Richard Kopf, who has decided to reject the advice that he stop blogging.

We talked his contemplation of quitting here — which came, you may remember, after he blogged that the Supreme Court should "stfu" — and the new post links to that post of mine, which he characterized as "critical."

Why are they calling Obama "The Bear"? "Isn't Russia associated with the Bear?"

Asks LuAnn Zieman, commenting on the post "Bears, beer and horse heads: What exactly is going on with the leader of the free world?," which identifies "Bear" as a nickname for Obama that his "top staffers" are pushing as he roams about the nation doing campaign-style photo ops.

Why "Bear"? Zieman wonders whether the idea is intentionally to associate Obama with Russia: "Maybe this is his Putin moment because, after all, Putin's been making him look bad for quite awhile."

Russia is my association too, partly because this old Ronald Reagan ad is deeply lodged in my brain:

There's a bear in the woods

Twitchy is irked by the "Bear" moniker.

And look, Obama talking about himself arrives at a meeting and says "The Bear is loose." Ridiculous, but before you anti-Obamites run with this, remember that Sarah Palin has long been calling herself a "Mama Grizzly" ("If you thought pit bulls were tough, you don't want to mess with mama grizzlies").

"A memorable name like Purple Haze or Maui Waui can resonate for decades."

"It can also make the difference in today's crowded field of expertly grown pot, where one high is often as good as another."
All marijuana is derived from two parent strains: indica, which is associated with a sleepy body high, and sativa, which is believed to make users more energetic. Hundreds of hybrids now exist, including Orenstein's Super Strawberry.

"If people associate a good experience with a particular strain, they'll talk about it and look for it by name," said Cy Scott, co-founder of Leafly.com, a directory of dispensaries and cannabis reviews."The more clever the name, the more interest."...

"Feels like I'm falling backwards even when I'm sitting still," read a Leafly user review of Charlie Sheen OG.
Imagine selling liquor based not on the flavor but on the particular feeling of intoxication you're supposed to get! It's quite absurd, but people are suggestible. One problem with this name-branding: You can't register a trademark.
The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office briefly allowed people to register cannabis in 2010 before abruptly halting the practice and saying it was a mistake.

More pressing to the industry than trademarking is the lack of laws that require labeling and testing of marijuana in California. That means no one can be certain whether they're actually buying a container of White Widow or Super Silver Haze — or if it's another strain entirely.
We need a specific brand of marijuana that erases your uncertainty about whether you are consuming a specific brand of marijuana... to go along with that sensation that your body is in motion even when you're just sitting around.

Publicly mocked obese, sleeping Yankee fan sues over the public mockery...

... and is publicly mocked for the lawsuit.

When is it better to laugh at yourself when you are laughed at and when is it better to stand your that's-not-funny ground and seek millions of dollars for your pain?

The filing of the lawsuit got me to watch the much-watched video clip, which I hadn't bothered with before. I'm surprised how gentle the ESPN announcers are. There's no conceivable basis for a lawsuit here.

By the way, the man, Andrew Rector, is a used car salesman. You'd think he'd have better skills at taking what seems to be bad and flipping it into the good. He's recognizable. He's famous now. Be the fat, sleeping baseball guy. It's branding. Now, you're the petulant, humorless, litigious guy.
Rector shut his business for a while after the embarrassing incident, telling staff at Auto World NYC to take the next few days off. He also gave away his season tickets to Yankee home games.

ADDED: Wait. I had a Nixon theme going this morning....

Nixon: "Let me say something before we get off the gay thing. I don’t want my views misunderstood."

"I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop. They have a problem. They’re born that way. You know that. That’s all. I think they are."
Anyway, my point is, though, when I say they’re born that way, the tendency is there. [But] my point is that Boy Scout leaders, YMCA leaders, and others bring them in that direction, and teachers. And if you look over the history of societies, you will find, of course, that some of the highly intelligent people . . . Oscar Wilde, Aristotle, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, were all homosexuals. Nero, of course, was, in a public way, in with a boy in Rome.

Haldeman: There’s a whole bunch of Roman emperors. . . .

Nixon: But the point is, look at that, once a society moves in that direction, the vitality goes out of that society. Now, isn’t that right, Henry?

"Bears, beer and horse heads: What exactly is going on with the leader of the free world?"

What exactly is going on with the leader of the free press? That's the first line of a Washington Post story that is the top item on the site's home page. Has WaPo turned against Obama? I'm going to guess no and that this article is actually supportive, but let's check it out:
On a single day this week in Denver, President Obama scarfed down pizza and drinks with strangers, shot pool with Colorado’s governor and shook hands with a guy on the street wearing a horse mask. His top staffers are promoting these stops on Twitter with the hashtag #TheBearIsLoose — a term one of Obama’s aides coined in 2008 when the candidate would defy his schedule....
So... this is easy: Obama is campaigning. It's what he does well, and he wants to be seen in a good light. He wants these photo ops to be used as WaPo mostly uses them: To revive old love and to make journalists decry gridlock in Washington.

But can the Obama-for-President routine play when we've got that children-crossing-the-border crisis? Obama is traveling about, doing political theater, and when he was questioned about his avoidance of the scene near the border, he said: "This is not theater." That is, it's a problem to be solved in a serious way, and that to visit the detention camps would be theater. He's right about that. It's not the kind of theater he wants. He's not denying that pizza-scarfing and horse-mask-guy greeting are theater. So the showman chooses what show to mount. 
The president... seems genuinely impatient with the limitations of his office.
We have limited government. Love it or don't serve in it, conlawprof.
He has started walking around D.C. for short stints, referring to himself in the third person as “the bear” as he walks across Lafayette Park or heads to a nearby Starbucks....
Maybe one morning he'll awaken before 4 a.m and wander down to the Lincoln Memorial to talk with the young people. His chief of staff might write in his diary "I am concerned about his condition" and call it "the weirdest day so far." The President might dictate notes to be shared with "anyone else who may have raised questions": "Even when I'm tired, I do not talk about nonsensical things," and talking with the young people was an effort "to lift them a bit out of the miserable intellectual wasteland in which they now wander."
I hope that (your) hatred of the [what's going on these days], which I could well understand, would not turn into a bitter hatred of our whole system, our country and everything that it stood for. I said that I know probably most of you think I'm an SOB. But I want you to know that I understand just how you feel.
Nah. That was Nixon. The young people don't think Obama's an SOB, and Obama has never had to entertain the slightest notion that the young people think he's an SOB.

July 10, 2014

At the Day-and-Night Café...



... you can hang around as long as you want.

At Althouse, "café" = open thread. And I'll take advantage of the openness to thank everyone who's shopped through my Amazon portal.

"Things you can do at #hobbylobby #keepyourrosariesoffmyovaries #prochoice."

Instagramming in-store activism protesting the Hobby Lobby decision:

More at "Crafty activists are trolling Hobby Lobby by rearranging in-store craft displays to spell ‘pro-choice’" in The Washington Post.
Shea’s fans — actress Wendi McLendon-Covey and columnist Dan Savage among them — have lauded the stunt as a clever, light-hearted way to draw attention to women’s health and the Hobby Lobby case. Her critics, meanwhile, have dismissed it as childish and misguided, less sticking it to “the man” and more inconveniencing a bunch of frazzled, innocent store employees....

In either case, what Shea terms a “protest” or a “prank” is almost indistinguishable from trolling — provoking annoyance and fury, merely to infuriate and annoy. That’s not a criticism, but it’s certainly an intriguing commentary on the state of political discourse these days. We have reached a point where the end-game, perhaps necessarily, isn’t to convert hearts and minds — it’s just to make some noise.
I'm torn. Making some noise = free speech. Yeah, speech doesn't necessarily persuade, but that's a good thing. I wouldn't say it's just noise. Speech is valuable precisely because it is not coercive. Sometimes we call speech "compelling," but it depends on what you say... and how you say it.

The form of expression matters. Here, the speaker appropriates the store's merchandise (and employee labor) as a medium. And the medium is (part of) the message. This prankery strikes me as sort of fun-loving, a way to vent frustration, but I'm distracted by 2 things:

1.  "Pro-choice" is the wrong word in the context where the business owners resisted being denied the choice about covering birth control and where that resistance is premised on their religion which they have the right to choose. Those who don't like the choices the business owners have made have the choice to shop elsewhere.

2. The pranksters are taunting those who have taken a strong stand based on religion. Are we really going to taunt people about religion? If you're inclined to say yes, do you really mean it, across the board for all religions, or is this a special willingness to taunt Christians? If it's special for Christians, why is that? Is it because you think it's okay to taunt what you think is the dominant group? If Christians like the ones your protesting against really were dominant, we shouldn't, in a democracy, end up with laws forcing them to do things against their conscience, so I'd say, the existence of the birth control mandate is evidence that they are not the dominant group, in which case, you're harassing a minority. Why would you do that? Is it that you feel safe picking on Christians?

ADDED: Have you ever moved merchandise around in a store as a way to make a political example? I'm trying to remember if I've ever done something like that. Moving books in a bookstore is the most common protest of this sort, like Code Pink's "Move Cheney's Book to the Crime Section of Bookstores!"

I'm seeing a list of 500 fun things to do at WalMart that I'm not going to link to. #1 is "Take shopping carts for the express purpose of filling them and stranding them at strategic locations." I didn't read the whole list, but it made me think of the "Shopping for Others" scene in the movie "Pecker."

What's the difference between a "structured" and an "unstructured" reality show?

These are new categories in the Emmys, and separate from competition reality shows like "Project Runway" and "The Amazing Race." A competition seems like the main reality show structure, but that's not the concept here. Reality competition is a third category.

The announcement of the nominations just came out, and I could not figure out, from reading those 2 sets of nominations, what "structured" and "unstructured" was supposed to mean. Here's WaPo's attempt to explain the distinction: Structured reality shows have "something of a routine, such as MTV’s 'Catfish,' Discovery’s 'MythBusters' and History’s 'Pawn Stars.'" And unstructured reality shows "are the ones that just follow wacky people around and see what happens: Think A&E’s 'Duck Dynasty,' E!’s 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' and Bravo’s 'The Real Housewives of New York City.'"

Only one of the shows named in the preceding paragraph appears on the actual list of nominees, and that's "Mythbusters." I have no idea why.

"Moneyballing" relationships.

"[I]t's all about finding undervalued traits and assets in the dating market. And, just like with baseball, it starts with trying to ignore the superficial indices of value — attractiveness, wealth — in favor of hidden attributes with a stronger correlation to long-term relationship success."
With married couples... "liking declines at a rate of 3 percent a year, whereas lust declines at a rate of 8 percent per year," so the smarter, long-term investment is finding someone you genuinely like. Plus... studies also suggest that agreeable partners are in fact "better in bed" and less likely to cheat over the long haul.

"I didn't realize Ann had tagged so many posts with 'bodily fluids.'"

Said John Borell in the comments to the 7:16 a.m. post "Once I made my husband take a photo of me lying on the bed with a snot-wet tissue squeezed in my fist, my eyes red as a rabbit’s."

And I said:
There are 137 posts.

What if all of the fluid referred to in all of the 137 posts were contained in a single vessel? What would be the size of that vessel?

Do you have an issue with ESPN's "body issue"?

The cover is a photo of Prince Fielder naked. Fielder is a 275-pound baseball player.

From the WaPo write-up:
ESPN’s Body Issue is... a visual testament to unforgiving training regimens, sacrifice, passion and commitment... Not everyone need look like an Adonis to perform physical feats most of us would find impossible....

[T]he Body Issue serves to disprove the notion that you must look a certain way to reach the apex of your sport...
Via Metafilter where somebody says: "Crazy, Fielder has a basically identical body shape to mine, except he weighs 75 pounds more than me at the same height (!). That is some dense-ass muscle."

"Ass" is intended as an intensifier not a reference to the body part that is fully visible in the cover photo. (The topic of "ass" as an intensifier was well aired on here on the blog last summer.)

You know, just because an athlete is successful doesn't mean he wouldn't do even better if he were less fat. But performance is a mystery. Babe Ruth was fat. Yet Babe Ruth didn't pose naked, at least, I don't think he did. I Googled "Babe Ruth naked" and got "The Sultan Of Twat: Babe Ruth's Swinging First Few Years With The Yankees." Sample:
Fred Lieb said Ruth was obsessed with the penis and not merely because he was famously well-endowed. His speech was peppered with phallic allusions, such as "I can knock the penis off any ball that ever was pitched." A large stack of mail was "as big as my penis." When he aged he confided to Lieb, "The worst of this is that I no longer can see my penis when I stand up."...

Ruth and Bob Meusel often shared hotel suites on the road. One time Ruth brought home a woman, and they shared noisy relations, after which the Babe came out to the common room to smoke a cigar. The next day, Meusel asked how often Ruth had laid the girl. "Count the cigars," replied Ruth. According to Long Bob, there were seven butts in the ashtray.
"Naked" comes up in the context of a husband "waving a revolver" at "a near-naked Babe."

But things were different then. These days, the possibly obese professional athlete is purveyed to boost the self-esteem of magazine readers who feel good indulging in the mythology of You can be fat and fit.

"Once I made my husband take a photo of me lying on the bed with a snot-wet tissue squeezed in my fist, my eyes red as a rabbit’s."

"'This is what a honeymoon is really like,' I imagined saying to anyone who asked to see the photos."

"Two Important Lessons From Crumbled Crumbs Bake Shop."

"1 – Don’t believe in the myth of passion when it comes to business..."
Rather than investing your resources into something that fulfills people’s needs, you are likely to invest in your passion until you burn through all your resources....
"2 – Trends really do matter..."
Cupcakes were a hot product for a while....

Remember Mrs. Field’s cookies? In the 1980s... It seemed nobody could get enough of those chocolate chip cookies....
Hey, I remember the Chipwich. It was the summer of 1982, and it seemed that the ultimate street-snack splurge had been discovered: an ice cream sandwich with chocolate chip cookies as the "bread." I went looking for a contemporaneous article displaying the enthusiasm of the era, and I found this intro paragraph to a July 1, 1982 NYT article informing us that "the akita is the New York dog of the moment, and to have one is to be exceptionally modish":
If fads are not always born in New York, it is indeed here that they fly and eventually fall, only to be replaced by new ones. Down coats and spinach salads, high-tech sofas and sauces nouvelles, Rubik's Cube and the Chipwich, cats and Donkey Kong, Izod shirts and sequined head antennae, sesame noodles and the resurgent miniskirt - all have burst upon us sporadically.
Sequined head antennae... Weren't those called...

"That American religion is involved in business and obsessed with sex is not news."

"What is surprising is that those who object to this kind of religion continue to hold on to a faith in the idea that religious freedom means protection only for the kind of religion they like, the private, individualized, progressive kind."

From a long post called "The impossibility of religious freedom," by Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, who is a professor of Religious Studies and law at Indiana University Bloomington, via Samuel Goldman, at The American Conservative.

It's hard to fathom why a movie about Rathergate — with Robert Redford as Dan Rather — is being made.

Years ago, Redford played the role of another newsman, Bob Woodward, in "All the President's Men," the story of 2 dogged journalists who were wildly successful. They brought down a President and sparked an American love affair with "investigative journalism." What's become of that today? Maybe this new movie will seriously address what has happened to the profession that Bob Woodward (and his partner Carl Bernstein) made us see as heroic and centered on truth-seeking. In Rathergate, a once-illustrious network, centered on ruining a presidential candidate, faked a document.

The movie will be called "Truth." Ironically? I doubt it. "Truth" is a shortened form of "Truth And Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power," the memoir written by Mary Mapes, the CBS producer who lost her job over Rathergate. From the Amazon reviews of the book (to which I've added an explanatory link):
If the liars behind this failed attempt to get Kerry elected had just used an old typewriter it would have worked and the press may have been able to steal an election. Just think about that. Now there's going to be a movie based on this book?
Well, now... think about it. Mapes is going to be played by a great actress, Cate Blanchette. Conceivably, the Shakespearean complexities of the role will emerge. I'm picturing a grand, slow, torturous descent. Tragedy!

A typewriter! a typewriter! my network for a typewriter!

That's unlikely. And should there be a whole big motion picture made from this story when the ultimate motion picture of Rathergate has already been made? It is the tiniest possible picture in motion:

July 9, 2014

"A Manassas City teenager accused of 'sexting' a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant..."

"... in which Manassas City police and Prince William County prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis, possibly forcing the teen to become erect by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said....
[The lawyer] said Detective Abbott told her that after obtaining photos of the teen’s erect penis he would "use special software to compare pictures of this penis to this penis. Who does this? It’s just crazy."

Photographing dogs in the last light of a July day.



"Operation Wisconsin Dawn will be the largest and most sophisticated emergency response exercise in the state’s history.”

"At around 7:00 a.m. [July 17th] an explosive sound effect will be heard in Camp Randall Stadium.  Emergency vehicles will respond in real-time with lights and sirens – neighbors can expect the lights and sirens to cease by 10 a.m.  Nearby residents should also expect to see smoke, and acting victims with fake blood and injuries...."

Glad I — one of the nearby residents — noticed that.

"I pledge to him, not to receive a photo of the potato salad, but because I love the idea of pledging to a potato salad."

"It makes me happy when people are not dead serious about everything."

So, yeah, I just have one thing I'd like to say about potato salad guy. I was irked — irked I tell you — for, like, 10 seconds. Because here's this guy who's raised over $70,000 on Kickstarter just for planning to make potato salad. And I was all: That was my idea! And I only got $200!

But then I got hold of myself. He's talking about potato salad. My idea was egg salad.

"Strange, my left breast 'vibrates' every so often, sort of like a cell phone that's on vibrate! For the last three days my left breast has this strange vibration."

"At first I thought I was imagining it but it continues! It doesn't hurt… just feels weird. Could it be a symptom of breast cancer?"

"I know this sounds silly...but it's really happening. The last few days, several times a day, my right breast feels like it's vibrating."
Usually when I'm at home or in the car with the music turned up loud, I can't hear my cell phone ring, so I switch it to vibrate and clip it to the inside of my bra on the left side so I won't miss a call or text.  The vibrating I'm feeling in my right breast feels exactly like it feels when my cell phone vibrates. I have not clipped my cell phone to my bra since this started happening. Does anyone have any idea what this is all about?
What causes buzzing/vibration in right breast?
It is about every 10 seconds, not painful. I'd appreciate insight from anyone with similar symptom.
Recently, I've noticed a slight buzzing/vibration sensation inside my right breast. 
It's brief (about a second) and comes irregularly. I have slightly large breasts (D-sized) and I wear an underwire bra. The sensation is near the nipple/top of the breast. It's a very weird sensation - not pleasurable and not uncomfortable. I'm at a loss for an explanation. I don't have anything medically wrong with me (that I know of). I'm 24. Does anyone have any idea?
"Hey, I know this thread is old but I wanted to report that over the weekend this started happening to me as well."
I've never had it happen before and after a day or so I suddenly remembered reading this thread. So, if anyone is still wondering about this I'd like some additional info too. The description above pretty much fits my sensation to a T, although I am feeling it in my left breast. I'm 27, have never had kids, and am not on any BC or anything. My boobs are not as large as ANON's.

"It's a mistake to imagine that the gathering popularity of the 'tiny house movement' over the past several years is some sort of sign of an actual mass trend."

"That would be akin to imagining that the gathering popularity of tiny hedgehog videos is a sign that hedgehogs are set to overtake cats and dogs as popular pets. The tiny house craze is best understood as a reaction against what is the actual trend in American housing: bigger houses, as big as possible...."

"A version of Britney Spears’ new single, 'Alien,' without Auto-Tune has been leaked online. And… Wow."

"William Orbit, who produced the track, said that leaking the track was 'unkind.'"

"Imperial Japan taught its soldiers that death was preferable to surrender. The tea party’s code is similar..."

"Stand firm, regardless of the odds of success or the consequences of failure. I’ve argued before that the struggle between the Republican establishment and the tea party is no longer about ideology — establishment figures have mostly co-opted tea party views — but about temperament."

Dana Milbank compares Chris McDaniel (the tea party candidate who lost a GOP primary to Senator Cochran) to Hiroo Onoda, the last of the WWII holdouts, who kept up his fight until 1974.


... to everyone who's been supporting this blog by using my Amazon portal. (The link is always up in the blog banner, and there's a search box at the top of the sidebar.) It's really nice of you, and I genuinely do find it encouraging.

"Several major gay rights groups withdrew support Tuesday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bolster gay and transgender rights in the workplace..."

"... saying they fear that broad religious exemptions included in the current bill might compel private companies to begin citing objections similar to those that prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court case last week."
Rea Carey, [National Gay and Lesbian Task Force]'s executive director, said in an interview that “If a private company can take its own religious beliefs and say you can't have access to certain health care, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to an interpretation that a private company could have religious beliefs that LGBT people are not equal or somehow go against their beliefs and therefore fire them. We disagree with that trend. The implications of Hobby Lobby are becoming clear. We do not take this move lightly.... We've been pushing for this bill for 20 years."...

A new, separate push to rewrite ENDA may serve as a useful political tool for gay rights organizations that have used previous election cycles to pressure Democrats to take up legislation important to their concerns. The threat of withholding campaign donations during the 2010 campaign cycle helped push Obama and congressional Democrats to push for repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And Obama's decision to announce his support for same-sex marriage before his reelection in 2012 also was seen as a nod to the gay community, a reliable and leading source of campaign donations to Democratic candidates....

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), a lead sponsor of ENDA and the Senate’s first openly lesbian member, said Tuesday that she was reviewing the decision of groups to withdraw support for the bill. She noted that the bill’s religious exemption language had been tweaked last year to secure more support from Democrats and Republicans, “and there was clearly discomfort expressed at that point” by gay rights groups concerned that the changes might make it easier for employers to seek religious exemptions.
Well, this is great news for people who want to see politics get more vigorously contentious on the social issues, but it's very unpleasant for people in the middle — like me — who care about both gay rights and religious freedom.

After the Supreme Court issued its Hobby Lobby opinion, I blogged about the difference between a religious exemption from covering contraceptives for employees and a religious exemption from a ban on employment discrimination. That's about how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) might apply, and Congress has the power to exclude ENDA from RFRA. Senator Baldwin is talking about an exemption (in addition to RFRA) that is written into ENDA itself. You can read the ENDA exemption here. I don't read that as applying to businesses like Hobby Lobby, but it shows congressional intent to accommodate religion, so it would be hard to read that as excluding the applicability of RFRA.

So I can see why the gay rights groups want explicit language saying RFRA does not apply, unless they want to show some empathy for the religious needs of those who feel compelled to discriminate against gay people. Why would they?! (Answer: To help the Democratic Party.) Clearly, some of them have chosen to take a stand and make this conflict an issue right now. I think it's good that there are special interest groups like this that are not simply fully allied with the political interests of Democrats (or Republicans). That's healthy. And painful.

"Heirs of the late movie legend John Wayne are suing Duke University for the right to use the actor's iconic nickname to promote their alcoholic beverages."

"Wayne's family wants to sell products featuring the Hollywood star's nickname and image, but the North Carolina university says it doesn't want anyone to think it sponsors the booze."

Who would get confused into thinking that a university was marketing its own brand of alcohol? If that were at all something that could be happening, there would already be Motion W Beer.

ADDED: Clearly, Duke the movie star is much more likely to come to mind when you see a bottle of booze. In fact, if you drink enough booze, you may find it particularly easy to pull off your John Wayne imitation:

"It's gettin' t' be ri-goddamn-diculous. If you guys don't start thinking as men, we're gonna have a lousy country."

ISIS militants slegehammer the tomb of the prophet Jonah.

Even though Jonah is revered in the Muslim tradition (as well as to the Jewish and Christian tradition), the ISIS extremists oppose the veneration of tombs and relics.

"A fisherman is credited with rescuing a man officials say was intoxicated and trying to swim across Lake Mendota."

"University of Wisconsin-Madison police say firefighters, paramedics and divers responded to the lake near Porter boathouse about 7 p.m. Monday on a report of a man in the water calling for help."

(Here's a map of Lake Mendota with a pin at the Porter Boathouse to give you an idea of the length of the planned swim.)

"There's a gray area of rape, and I call it 'grape.'"

Amy Schumer explained to NPR a couple weeks ago.
Most women I know that I'm close to have had a sexual experience that they were really uncomfortable [with]. If it wasn't completely rape, it was something very similar to rape. And so I say it's not all black and white.
Hence her portmanteau word combining "gray" and "rape" — "grape."
It's the guy you went home with in college, and you said, 'No,' and then he still did it, or maybe you woke up and it was someone you were dating. ...

"There's just so many different things that can happen, so it's not always this, 'Well, you're going to jail and that's it.' There's other stuff where it's like, 'Wow, it would be so much work, and it would be such a life-changer for me to ... press charges or take any action against this person.' But every girl I know has had some experience that is kind of like 'grape.' "
I noticed that this morning, through this Ozy piece that caught my eye: "The Only Kind of Rape Jokes That Work." What kind of rape jokes are those, you may ask? Well, first of all, I thought George Carlin already answered that with: "Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd." (From a great "I believe you can joke about anything" rant.) But Ozy's not talking about George Carlin. Ozy's talking about a female comedian named Ever Mainard, who has a "Here’s Your Rape" routine that I attempted to watch. I didn't get to the funny part. We were invited to inhabit the lead-up to the funny part by identifying with the experience of being a woman, walking alone, late at night. I get the picture, but I'm not having fun yet. Anyway, that did cause me to remember an old Elaine Boosler routine:
I'm walking in New York with my boyfriend, and he says, 'Gee, it's a beautiful night, let's go down by the river.' I said, 'What are you, nuts? I'm not going down by the river! It's midnight, I'm wearing jewelry, I'm carrying money, I have a vagina with me...
Googling to get the exact wording, I discover lots of writing on the theme of that Ozy article, how to tell a rape joke, explained from what we're assured is a feminist perspective. I didn't want to read them. The Ozy article has (at the moment) exactly one comment, from "Johnson Lancaster · Works at Progressive Emporium & Education Center" — now, that's funny! — and he says: "This is very disturbing. I do not think joking about rape is beneficial in any way at all." Good working theory, Johnson, especially while working at the Progressive Emporium.

The Ozy article also has a red banner under the title that begins "Why you should care," which is the standard format at Ozy.

For example, "Why you should care" about "Miami's Hottest Chef Cooks Up 'Stoner Food' for the Masses" is: "Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli isn’t afraid to get experimental and inventive with his cooking — or his attitude." Hmm. I should care, because he's not afraid, and he's experimental and inventive and has attitude. I should care... but I don't.

And Ozy tells me I should care about "The Only Kind of Rape Jokes That Work" because: "Is it OK to laugh at rape jokes? Is it OK to even make them? Yes, but proceed carefully."

The truth is "Why you should care" is just Ozy-speak for "here's our subtitle, in case our title hasn't hooked you." 

July 8, 2014

At the Lakeside Café...


... sure, this counts as a sunny day. Moments later:


Things worried about in 1895: Women getting "bicycle face."

"Over-exertion, the upright position on the wheel, and the unconscious effort to maintain one's balance tend to produce a wearied and exhausted 'bicycle face'... usually flushed, but sometimes pale, often with lips more or less drawn, and the beginning of dark shadows under the eyes, and always with an expression of weariness... characterized by a hard, clenched jaw and bulging eyes."

"An all-out epidemic of lice so severe, they say the bugs can be seen crawling down the faces of the children."

That is video of a reporter, Todd Starnes, describing the condition of children who have illegally entered the United States and are currently housed at an Air Force base in Oklahoma Texas. We see no photographs of children in this condition, but I am reminded of how disturbed Americans have been seeing photographs of starving children in Africa too weak to brush away flies. Why are we not seeing photographs of these children plagued by insects? How different would our response to the crisis be if we saw what is described in this post's title?

ADDED: The text at the YouTube video says "Oklahoma," but the video says "Texas," which I believe is correct. Thanks to the commenter who called attention to that. Also, many commenters responded that we are not seeing photographs because the administration does not want us to see them. That is, if photographs would serve the administration's interests, we would be seeing photographs. That causes me to infer that the word "children" creates a more sympathetic picture than seeing the actual individuals, who, I suspect, are teenagers. I note this news story: "Violent MS-13 Gang Members Leave Graffiti on Bathroom Walls of Nogales Border Patrol Processing Center."

"There's a good lesson in Justice Sonia Sotomayor's heated dissent from a Thursday order in the case of Wheaton College v. Burwell..."

"When making an argument, you should be cautious about imputing bad faith to your adversaries — not only because civility has intrinsic value but also because such aggression magnifies the embarrassment if you turn out to be mistaken."

Warns James Taranto, succinctly delineating the mistake: "In order to disprove the government's contention that the mandate is the least restrictive alternative, it is sufficient to establish that there is a less restrictive alternative.... But for the accommodation to withstand a RFRA challenge, the government would have to prove that it is the least restrictive alternative."


"The extraordinary and original Ivor Cutler..."

I ran into that quite by chance, and I don't know why I'd never heard of this man, though I must have seen him, since Wikipedia says he was in The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" — he was Buster Bloodvessel — and of course, I've seen "Magical Mystery Tour." And:
Cutler was a noted eccentric, dressing in a distinctive style including plus-fours and hats adorned with many badges, travelling mainly by bicycle and often communicating by means of sticky labels printed with "Cutlerisms," one of which, "never knowingly understood" came to be applied by supporters and detractors alike. Others included "Kindly disregard," reserved for official correspondence, and "to remove this label take it off." The reception room of his home contained some pieces of ivory cutlery, intended as a pun on his name.

"And as I sit here with the dogs on July 4th, I think was it really that important to add one more book review to his CV or to do one more tenure letter as a favor for someone he never met?"

"I'm glad his peers all loved him for the reliable genius that he was, and I don't know how he feels wherever he is now, but I am very, very bitter."
[T]he price for all that frenzied output was me, and there's a part of me that will never forgive him for it, because he died right after he promised to slow down and enjoy life itself more.

So think about it, members of the "academy." All that talk about US News rankings and SSRN citations. Do you REALLY think stuff like that is life and death to your loved ones? I think most of them would sacrifice one more line on your resume for one more day of quality time with you. I know I would. But it's a bargain I can't make any more.

"Well, I try my best to be just like I am/But everybody wants you to be just like them."

A line from an old Bob Dylan song, overheard at the coffeehouse today, declaimed by a garrulous, grizzled old guy, somewhere near the end of a long philosophizing conversation that rattled on 2 tables away.





Photos by me. Just because it's dogs doesn't mean it's by Meade. If you want dog photos by Meade today, go to The Puparazzo. New, over there: "Beasley and Professor Chaos" and "The beauty of Brook" (a beagle, an Irish Terrier, and a red Lab, respectively). My dogs, above are both Labs — a chocolate named Gus and the black Lab that almost seems to be our dog, but is not, Zeus.

Having blogged that the Supreme Court should "stfu," federal district judge Richard Kopf blogs a letter from a trusted colleague telling him to shut the blog up.

Kopf says he's "going to give this letter serious consideration," and: "Blogging will be light while I figure this out."

From the letter he received:
I think blogging by judges harms our system significantly. I thought that you had decided some time ago to stop posting to Hercules and the Umpire. It is my sincere belief that you should.

As you know... the delivery of justice is a complicated, mysterious undertaking... But... it is my inescapable conclusion that an important element, perhaps the most indispensible [sic] one... is public trust in judges... [Y]our “the SCOTUS should STFU” post seems to agree with this premise with the words “…all of us know from experience that appearances matter to the public’s acceptance of the law.”)

Rush Limbaugh saying "Pajama Boy types having sex, sex, sex/That's what it's all about" made me realize something about the political division over Obamacare and birth control.

It really is about sex. It's not about women. You may think women are getting a benefit, and we hear a lot of "War on Women" politics, but the real division is not between men and women. There are men and women on both sides of a line that is determined by sexual behavior and sexual attitudes.

First, here's the Rush monologue that got me thinking in these terms:
... I, and I assume a lot of you folks, too, we're from the old school where you provide for yourself.  We were raised that whatever you want or need, you go out and get a job and earn enough to buy it. If you can't afford it, then you put it off until you can.  But the last thing you do is ask somebody else.... But the thing I have learned is that men are totally supportive.  Today's young men are totally supportive of somebody else buying women their birth control pills. Make sure the women are taking them, 'cause sex is what it's all about.

Pajama Boy types having sex, sex, sex. That's what it's all about. Everybody wants it and whatever it takes to make it safe. And if it takes the taxpayers buying women birth control, the men are for it, too.  It's cheap insurance, and if this is what women want before they'll have sex, then fine.  So this is the change that you and I were slow to arrive to because we were brought up with the idea that sex has consequences and that it's somewhat special, and that if you want something you provide it yourself.  You don't ask somebody else....
See how revealing that is? There's this basic idea that people should earn their own money and pay for their own stuff. You're free to choose to do what you want — which might be to have sex — but you need to cover your own expenses. You can see that this is a moral precept, because it takes no account of the costs to all of us when children are born to women who are economically and emotionally unprepared and who do not have a stable household. To me, thinking pragmatically, paying for other people to use birth control seems like a way for society as a whole to save money, because I'm picturing planned pregnancies leading to better behaved, more educable children.

"Is Paul Ryan Breaking Up With His Wonk Buddies?"

"The coming fight among conservative intellectuals."

The British version of questions to ask to determine if you have a drinking problem.

"'How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?' and 'as a result of your drinking or drug use, did anything happen in the last year that you wish didn’t happen?' are the two enquiries a GP could make to detect hidden alcohol abuse...."

6 or more! Stop at 5 and you can fly right under that GP radar. That and a no-regrets attitude and your secret is safe.

"Blogger hired to defend Redskins tweets his resignation."

"Without being specific, he said “political attacks” against him since he took the job had turned personal and that he didn’t want to be a 'distraction to the team.'"
[Ben] Tribbett, 34, is a Virginia political aide by profession. He got his start in Virginia politics by working on the 2001 House of Delegates campaign for Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), one of the legislators behind the recently formed “Redskins Pride” caucus. Tribbett also wrote the progressive political blog “Not Larry Sabato.”

He broke the story of Redskins executive Bruce Allen’s brother, former Virgina senator George Allen, referring to a volunteer for the campaign of his opponent as a “macaca” in 2006. The slur helped lead to Allen’s defeat.
Fascinating! The progressive politico who wrecked George Allen — who used to be big — by catching him using (what seemed to be) a racial slur took a job defending (what seems to be) a racial slur and then.... well, exactly what happened? More details, please.

"This doesn’t surprise me at all. Passed over the BW and hired a WW./Mixed emotions as Jezebel gets new editor."

Tweets Angry Black Lady about "Mixed emotions as Jezebel gets new editor."

"Journalism Enrollments Fell Two Years in a Row. Is it the Start of a Downward Trend?"

Writes Michael King in the American Journalism Review.
The overall decline found in the study masks steeper drops found at some schools... Stanford University — 40.9 percent decrease/New York University — 45.6 percent decrease... University of Washington — 69.2 percent decrease...

Among those showing significant increases from 2008 to 2012 were... University of Wisconsin-Madison with 30 percent growth....

"There are a few things I have witnessed becoming obsolete in the past few years, the first being autographs."

"I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento 'kids these days' want is a selfie...."

From the Wall Street Journal piece on the future of the music industry by pop star Taylor Swift.

Also: "In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online."

And: "There continues to be a bad girl vs. good girl/clean-cut vs. sexy debate, and for as long as those labels exist, I just hope there will be contenders on both sides. Everyone needs someone to relate to."

Classifying the states as "tight" and "loose" — based on the strength of the enforcement of social norms.

An article in Mother Jones: "Forget Red State, Blue State: Is Your State 'Tight' or "'Loose'?/A new theory about the cultures of different regions could go a long way toward explaining why the United States is so polarized."

Questions: Is this really any different from conservative and liberal? If it is, is it a useful way of looking at the United States? If it is, have these researchers — psychologists Jesse R. Harrington and Michele J. Gelfand — identified the right elements of tightness and looseness, determined the correct data, and fed it into a proper formula to do the calculation?
The 10 tightest states? Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The 10 loosest, meanwhile, are California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Vermont. (Notice a pattern here?)
Yeah, I did notice a pattern there. A lefty magazine is always on the lookout for a new way to sneer at the South.

Putting the hard in Harding: "The Letters That Warren G. Harding’s Family Didn’t Want You to See."

"Honestly, I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief untilI take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips and then bury my face on your pillowing breasts."
Oh, Carrie! I want the solace you only can give. It is awful to hunger so and be so wholly denied. . . . Wouldn’t you like to hear me ask if we only dared and answer, 'We dare,' while souls rejoicing sang the sweetest of choruses in the music room? Wouldn’t you like to get sopping wet out on Superior — not the lake — for the joy of fevered fondling and melting kisses? Wouldn’t you like to make the suspected occupant of the next room jealous of the joys he could not know, as we did in morning communion at Richmond?
ADDED: What do you make of "sopping wet out on Superior — not the lake"? I was entertaining the theory that "Superior" was his name for his penis (like John Thomas in "Lady Chatterley's Lover").

July 7, 2014

Dogs, "dogs," and dogs we met in Colorado.

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


Less than 3,000° Celsius is considered "extremely, extremely cold" for a star.

UW-Milwaukee astronomer David Kaplan has detected this invisible star, a "white dwarf" or dying star, and "they realized, the star was so cold that the carbon making it up would have crystallized, effectively making it into an Earth-sized diamond."

Police in Longmont, Colorado tell citizens to quit calling them about their neighbors' smoking marijuana.

Colorado has legalized marijuana, but some folks can't seem to process the information and keep calling the police demanding that they do something about the pot smoke they smell coming from their neighbors' homes. There's nothing the police can do, and this is wasting the dispatchers' time.

But... smoke! You shouldn't be forced to inhale other people's smoke, right? That's not police business, not in Longmont, anyway. In Boulder, by contrast, there's a noxious-odors ordinance.

We were just in Boulder, by the way, but I'm plagued by anosmia, so I don't know about the odors. But I can report that Colorado civilization does not appear to have collapsed. Things look about the same as they did before.

"Hobby Lobby makes clear that all persons — human and corporate, citizen and foreigner, resident and alien — enjoy the special religious free exercise protections of the RFRA."

Write lawyers for Guantanamo detainees who want to be able to meet in groups for communal prayer in observance of Ramadan.

Assuming the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to the detainees, the question is whether being deprived of communal prayer is a substantial burden on religion and, if so, whether the government has a compelling interest that cannot be served by a less restrictive means.

The linked article makes it seem as though the government is using access to communal prayer as a positive incentive to get prisoners to give up their hunger strike and not because of security needs. If that's so, then it should be easy to posit less restrictive means of deterring hunger striking. Think of incentives that have nothing to do with religion — any punishment or privilege that isn't related to a religious need might suffice.

2 problems with that argument: 1. Maybe access to communal prayer is the only incentive that will work on these particular individuals, who are, after all, far into a process of physically punishing themselves by refusing to eat, and 2. Maybe these individuals see everything in terms of religion, so that any punishment or privilege the government could come up with would also burden their religion.

"I’m not in your bedroom... Obama’s in your bedroom."

Said Michael Potter, founder and CEO of Eden Foods, straining to try to stave off the bad press and threats of boycott in a phone call with a Salon reporter (Irin Carmon) who had reported on his company's Hobby Lobby-type lawsuit about contraception coverage.
Did he worry about the impact on his bottom line? “Oh my god,” he said, “from what we’ve seen the last couple of days, it’s a big deal.”

But he isn’t prepared to back off. “I worked my ass off at figuring out what to do on it. I worked hard on it and I made a decision,” he said. “The federal government has no right to do what they’ve done. No constitutional right, no standing.” Apparently, his apology only goes so far.
That "apology" business refers to the fact that Potter began the phone call with an apology for not responding to Carmon's request for a comment when she was working on the first article — "Organic Eden Foods’ quiet right-wing agenda/A crunchy, natural food company marketed to liberals discreetly sues to stop covering employees' contraception."

If your business is all about massaging minds with concepts like "organic" and the notion that good old cow's milk should give way to something milked from a bean, you need to know your customers. These are folks with manipulable minds... womanipulable minds.

"The House GOP Should Man Up Instead of Resorting to Political Theater in the Courts."

Writes Erick Erickson at Red State, and I don't have to read beyond that headline to know I want to blog this. I too think the lawsuit is political theater — bad political theater — but I think I'd forgo the masculinity disparagement (which continues with "I realize John Boehner and the House Republicans may lack the testicular fortitude to fight President Obama...").

You might remember that we were just talking about the phrase "man up," in a post titled "Is America's dominant 'man up' ethos a hypermasculine cultural construct, a tenet rooted in biological gender difference or something in between?" The post title isn't something I wrote, but something some NPR guy said. I questioned whether America had a "dominant 'man up' ethos," and in the comments, I wrote about the origins of the phrase "man up":
For what it's worth: The Oxford English Dictionary finds this as the earliest use of "man up" (to mean "To demonstrate manliness, toughness, or courage when faced with a difficult situation"):

1996 Palm Beach (Florida) Post 2 Mar. c1/2 He made a commitment, and to his credit, he manned up to it.
And I quoted from Ben Zimmer's "The Meaning of ‘Man Up'":
"One notable forerunner of man up as we know it today is cowboy up, a phrase that has been used in rodeo circles for decades.... Cowboy up wasn’t much known outside of rodeo country until 2003, when it became the rallying cry for the Boston Red Sox.... Man up owes its early popularization to another American sport: football, where it originally had a more technical meaning relating to man-to-man pass defense...."
Note that the earlier meaning of "man up" was not act like a man, but (to quote the OED again) "To supply with the full number of workers required" — that is, to get all the men you need on the the job, which actually would fit the idea Erickson presses on Boehner better than the "testicular fortitude"/masculinity notion.

By the way, the OED, on that older meaning of "man up," quotes some British writer in 1947 complaining about the unnecessary "up":
Must industries be fully ‘manned up’ rather than ‘manned’? Must the strong, simple transitive verb..become as obsolete in England as it appears to be in America?
We Americans do like adding "up" to verbs that might do without it. We don't just fill the glass, we fill the glass up, and we don't just drink the drink, we drink it up. We don't just build our self-esteem, we build it up. I'm calling that optimism, but maybe it's more of the phallocracy that dominates the ethos around here.

Is depicting the "Obama Presidential Library" as an outhouse racist?

This miniature outrage arrives from Norfolk, Nebraska. A float in a 4th of July Parade had a fake outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library" and, standing outside it, a mannequin of a dark-skinned man wearing overalls.

Clearly, this is disrespectful, but there's nothing violent happening, so it doesn't implicate the concerns about presidential safety that bothered me during the 2013 mini-outrage over the rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask.

It's important to be able to express disrespect for the President, and race shouldn't immunize the President from criticism, though it's easy to see the temptation, for at least some Obama supporters, to push back critics by scaring them with accusations of racism.

Yes, it's a bad float, inappropriate for the 4th of July, but the only reason to pay any attention to this — what other bad floats appeared in local parades on the 4th? — is that the accusation of racism has been leveled.

What is racial about an outhouse? Outhouses are associated with poverty, and while there are correlations between poverty and race, the outhouse as a marker of poverty is associated with poor, rural white people. I think of the original iconography of Mountain Dew:
John Brichetto drew the first sketches of the original Mountain Dew bottle labels in 1948, depicting a character known as Willy the Hillbilly shooting at a revenuer fleeing an outhouse with a pig sitting in the corner. Below the illustration is the phrase “by Barney and Ollie”—as in FILLED by Barney and Ollie, a nod to the way a homemade jug of moonshine might be hand filled by the moonshiner. This labeling quirk was carried on until Pepsi Cola entered the picture many years later.
I think of Li'l Abner, the cartoon character:
A priceless rube, Abner was so gullible that he could be tricked by a small child. The loutish Abner typically had no visible means of support, but sometimes earned his livelihood as a "crescent cutter" for the Little Wonder privy company, (later changed to "mattress tester" for the Stunned Ox mattress company.)
Now, let's move on to the overalls. What does it mean that the figure of the President is dressed in overalls? The association is to rural poverty (or rural work), but is it racial?

Thinking about race and overalls, I heard the line "You wear overalls!" What was that? Some recording from the 60s... Ah! I was thinking of Carla Thomas, singing with Otis Redding, in the 1967 song "Tramp." At 0:37, you hear:
You know what, Otis?
You're country.
That's all right.
You're straight from the Georgia woods.
That's good.
You know what? You wear overalls, and big old brogan shoes, and you need a haircut, Tramp.
And, again, as the song is fading out, at 2:42, Thomas harps on those overalls:
You a tramp, Otis. You just a tramp.
That's all right.
You wear overalls. You need a haircut, Baby. Cut off some of that hair off your head. You think you're a lover?
There is zero chance that Thomas's problem with Redding is racial. She's rejecting him because he's country. His retort: That's good.

So I think the float used the iconography of poverty to express the point of view that Obama is utterly lacking in achievement worthy of a presidential library. Maybe you could build an argument that because so many black people have been poor, any depiction of a black person as poor is intended to associate him with black people in general, and that is enough to warrant an accusation of racism. But I think this float belongs in the innocuous category of traditional American disrespect for authority figures.

Looking at it that way, I suddenly see how it might be exactly what is appropriate for the 4th of July:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States....

July 6, 2014

"She was talking to a man at a cocktail party when he asked her what she did. She replied that she wrote books..."

"... and she described her most recent one, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. The man interrupted her soon after she said the word Muybridge and asked, 'And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?' He then waxed on, based on his reading of a review of the book, not even the book itself, until finally, a friend said, 'That's her book.' He ignored that friend (also a woman) and she had to say it more than three times before 'he went ashen' and walked away. If you are not a woman, ask any woman you know what this is like, because it is not fun and happens to all of us."

From "10 Words Every Girl Should Learn/Socialized male speech dominance is a significant issue, not just in school," by Soraya Chemaly. (Via Metafilter.)

The gender politics of the Iowa rest stop.

I haven't driven through every state, but I do tend to judge states by the quality of their rest stops. On this standard, I shamed Oklahoma in 2007 and, in 2010, gave presumptive first place to Iowa. Today, once again, we drove through Iowa, and though I am unshakable in my praise for the Iowa rest stop, I want to call attention to some strange doings in Council Bluffs.

Now, first, if you, like me, are rest-stop judgmental, your chances of stopping at the Council Bluffs rest stop are very high. It's the last stop in Iowa before Nebraska, if you're traveling west, and the first stop in Iowa after Nebraska, if you are traveling east. You see my point. I will not transgress into the delicate territory of private bodily needs that cycle through the mind of the driver and passenger hurtling over the concrete that is I-80. One must stop and... rest. Preferably in Iowa. Land of the Best Rest Stops.

Do you know why Council Bluffs is called Council Bluffs and not Kanesville? Kanesville was the name in 1848, after Thomas L. Kane, who helped the Mormons on their exodus to Utah, getting them permission to camp for the winter on what was Indian land. Later, in 1852, the place was renamed Council Bluffs, the "council" being something that had taken place long before the Mormons dug in for the winter: In 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition held a council with the Indians of the Otoe Tribe.


A sign (which didn't make a photograph worth displaying) indicated Iowa's agenda using art to "educate travelers" about things "cultural, historical, social, or natural." In that light, consider the entry into the women's bathroom:


Iowa, what are you trying to teach us? I'm feeling a little uneasy. A tad... disrespected. And:


Women/Fox Squirrel. Yes, I see it now.

Destination: Madison.

We've arrived home, after a road trip, once again, to Colorado, where we got married, not quite yet 5 years ago.


Some flowers have popped and some are yet to pop. The grass is a bit overgrown, and as I'm unpacking — and finally discovering where in my bag I packed those swim goggles — Meade's first thing is to mow the lawn. Or, second thing... the first thing is to go get Zeus the Dog, to whom it probably never occurred that we were away, but who's happy to trot back over here, even as we are delighted to have returned.

At the Cultiva Café.


Seriously, I am at the Cultiva Café. It's on 11th Street between G and H in Lincoln, Nebraska. But don't come running over here to try to catch a glimpse of your humble blogger — in the corner under a large painting that I think of as titled "Picnic Point on LSD" — because my 2d coffee, to go, is up, and we are not lingering, but on the road, the road they call 80.

"Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World..."

"... travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."

"Women’s bodies are used as the defining and unifying issue to bring together people — men — to get them to behave in ways that are disadvantageous to women but prop up rulers."

A quote from Hillary Clinton. The topic was Hobby Lobby, but I'm fascinated by this sentence as a great generality and because it connects to that quote of mine, which I foisted upon you yesterday morning: "I believe there is no more profound subject in human civilization than the female body. It is the central focus."