July 26, 2014

Why are daughters preferred to sons?

Apparently, based on "Why daughters might be better than sons," it's plain old self-interest — a prediction about who's more likely to take care of you.

The NYT finally gets around to those statements of Jonathan Gruber and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest cagily refrains from lying about lying.

I've updated my post from yesterday that criticized the NYT for not covering the statements the Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber had made about the consequences for citizens of states that failed to set up insurance exchanges. These statements were the talk of the internet yesterday because they ruined the spin on the purportedly nonsensical D.C. Circuit opinion in Halbig.
UPDATE: Searching for "Jonathan Gruber" at 9:42 a.m. Saturday morning — about 18 hours after I published this post — I see that the NYT put up an article "13 hours ago," dated  July 25, 2014, the same date as this post. The article, written by Robert Pear and Peter Baker is titled "Ex-Obama Aide’s Statements in 2012 Clash With Health Act Stance." Excerpt:
Mr. Gruber backed away from his comments on Friday. But the remarks embarrassed the White House and could help plaintiffs in court cases challenging the payment of subsidies in 36 states that rely on the federal exchange.

“I made a mistake in some 2012 speeches in describing the tax credits,” Mr. Gruber said in an email on Friday. “It is clear from all my writings and modeling that I did over this same time period that tax credits are assumed to be available in all states. This is the only sensible reading of the Affordable Care Act and is corroborated by every single person who helped craft the law.”...

The White House played down the video on Friday, saying that Mr. Gruber had made clear in friend-of-the-court briefs that he supports the administration’s interpretation.

“His views on this are pretty clear,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “I think that he described those remarks as a mistake. But I’d refer you to his explanation for why he said them. I think what is clear is that he, like Congress, intended for every eligible American to have access to tax credits that lower their health care costs, regardless of who is operating their marketplace.”
The inconsistency between what Gruber said in the friend-of-the-court briefs in the current litigation and what he said in 2012 doesn't persuade me that he "made a mistake" back then. In 2012, the effort was to pressure and frighten the politicians in the various states so that they would set up the exchanges. Now, after so many states resisted that pressure, the effort is to preserve the federal exchanges that were set up. At both points in time, Gruber said what served the goals of the program.

What's more likely, that he "made a mistake in some 2012 speeches" or that he's lying now?

The Press Secretary Earnest isn't lying, but if you look closely at each of his remarks, you can see that he seems to know he's making a series of technically true statements that avoid asserting that Gruber is telling the truth now when he calls the 2012 remarks "a mistake." 1. Gruber's "views... are pretty clear." Check. 2. Gruber called his remarks "a mistake." Absolutely true. That's exactly what Gruber said. 3. Gruber's overarching goal has been to get health insurance tax credits to people. Again, Earnest is correct —cagily correct — because lying now about making a mistake back then is exactly what serves that overarching goal, just as saying what he said in 2012 served that goal.

Lying is a means to an end, and one can steadfastly adhere to one's end while changing your statements as needed to serve that end. That's what liars do! To justify their behavior by pointing to their dedication to a single end is only to explain the motivation to lie. Yet that's what Josh Earnest expects us to swallow.

"Clinton still hasn’t unlocked the only thing that could really turn a campaign into a movement... authentic excitement among American women at her historic candidacy."

"There have been blips of real, viral enthusiasm... But for all the ersatz hashtags pushed by would-be grassroots support groups, it sure hasn’t happened yet," observes Ben Smith.
But... Clinton shouldn’t rely on inspiration for her candidacy. There is, after all, another way to win. Perhaps she can’t run a campaign modeled on the Obama 2008 movement. The alternative is Obama 2012 — a boring, grinding affair that sold a nascent economic recovery, scorched the Republican, and plodded to the White House.
I'm sick of inspiration and claims of historiosity. We should all be perfectly jaded by now. Inoculated. It's healthful and wholesome. And so what if watching the campaign day by day is "a boring, grinding affair"? That's a problem for Smith, running his buzz-dependent website, but it's a nonproblem for the rest of us. Think of the time you can save not reading the websites that try to make something out of the presidential campaign every damned day. What will you do with all that time? Instead of thinking about how what happened in the last hour might be history, you could, for example, read history. May I recommend the Amity Shlaes biography of Calvin Coolidge?

Coolidge was boring. Good boring. Let's be boring for a change.

I want a boring President. Stop trying to excite me.

Stop talking about my heart.

Does Buzzfeed have a rule about the frequency of appealing to our heart? I was curious, after writing the last post and highlighting a Buzzfeed post-with-plagiarism called "7 Miracle Babies To Warm Your Heart Today."

Searching the Buzzfeed site for "heartbreaking," I'm guessed there is a rule against more than one usage per day. How many times can reader be expected to jump at the promise of a metaphorical collapse of a most vital organ?

I happened to click on "28 Men With Eating Disorders Confess Their Heartbreaking Secrets" and was pleased to see the author's name was Althouse... Spencer Althouse. Anyway, there was really only one secret: These men were anorexic and male.

Is your heart broken because these males had the additional pain of a problem usually associated with females? Maybe men should feel some special pain when they stoop to using a metaphor associated with females. Eh, Mr. Althouse?

Searching Buzzfeed for "heartwarming," I can see more than one on a single day, e.g., "Get Ready To Wipe Your Tears After You Watch This Heartwarming Short Film." I refused to get ready. Or to watch the short film. Leave my heart alone. And leave my eyes alone.

Can we get a moratorium on heart metaphors? It's not just Buzzfeed. It's everywhere. In a single short article at the NYT this month, I'm seeing: "That scene where the black girls were all talking just like old times in the bunk was heartwarming... 'My Taystee girl, you break my heart'... It’s heartbreaking, but having finally realized that Vee can’t be her mommy, she also looks more sane...." That's not sane.

The news in plagiarism.

1. Buzzfeed apologizes for 41 incidents of plagiarism found in a review of 500 posts written by Benny Johnson. Johnson, we're told, was a "creative force," but he was apparently not creative enough to reword his source material sufficiently to keep his job at Buzzfeed, which seemed to be to collect material from elsewhere and to present it in listicles like "7 Miracle Babies To Warm Your Heart Today."

2. The NYT surprised some people by muckraking plagiarism from 7 years ago by a Democrat, John Walsh, a U.S. Senator from Montana who's running this fall to keep the seat he got by appointment. The Times has what WaPo's Fact Checker calls a "nifty graphic" showing how much Walsh ripped off in his final paper for his master's degree from the United States Army War College.  Is the NYT choosing its investigative targets in a nonpartisan way or is this an effort to preempt an attack by his GOP challenger? When Walsh got his appointment to the seat Max Baucus had suddenly vacated, the NYT called it "a move Democrats hope will improve their chances of retaining the seat in what is expected to be a fiercely fought election this November." Baucus had been central in the Obamacare legislative process, and Walsh was an unknown but he had military credentials... that don't look so good anymore. (The WaPo Fact Checker (Glenn Kessler) examines Walsh's lame excuse — unfamiliarity with citation form — and gives it 4 Pinocchios.)

3. The media is so hot to see young females excel in science that it pushed a little girl so far into the limelight that her game of presenting a study of lionfish as her own original research caught the attention of the scientist who actually did the study and he spoke up. The girl's dad — one D. Albrey Arrington — was a courtesy co-author on that published study. And now a father's support of his daughter's science ambition doesn't look as NPR-ready as it did when NPR murmured admiringly over the little girl. Listen to the audio at that link. I had to turn it off a few seconds after the girl began speaking, because of the insufferable tone of her scoffing at the dumb scientists who were looking in the wrong places: "So I was like, 'Well, hey guys, what about the river?''" Ugh.

4. The New Yorker had a nice long piece on Joe Biden — "The Biden Agenda/Reckoning with Ukraine and Iraq, and keeping an eye on 2016" by Evan Osnos — and amidst all the admiration, it had to dredge up the old plagiarism stories. When he was a law student, Biden "was caught lifting five pages of a law-review paper but told administrators it was ignorance, not malice. ('I hadn’t been to class enough to know how to do citations.')" I wonder if Senator Walsh got the idea for his lame excuse from Biden. Having gotten caught committing plagiarism in law school, Biden should have taken care never ever to plagiarize again, but Biden is not the careful type. In 1987, while running for President (and simultaneously chairing the Senate committee that wrecked Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination), Biden lapsed from quoting the British politician Neil Kinnock to speaking as if Kinnock's childhood had been his own, "talking of 'my ancestors who worked in the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after twelve hours.' There were no coal-mining ancestors.... He was getting a reputation as a pompous blowhard, and Congressional staffers circulated a spoof résumé with Biden’s picture and accomplishments, including 'inventor of polyurethane and the weedeater' and 'Member, Rockettes (1968).'"

July 25, 2014

Word watch: pallid.

All of the following occurrences appeared within the last few days:

"The stakes are too high, the disappointment in some quarters — and some Supreme Court chambers — over the pallid outcome of the Supreme Court’s Fisher case too deep, the issue too mobilizing for it to fade away." Linda Greenhouse writing about affirmative action in the NYT.

"The potato farmers of Idaho are, I’m reasonably certain, distressingly pallid in appearance but no one is going around insisting that the French fry industry is going to collapse unless diversity increases there." From a discussion of the lack of racial diversity in Silicon Valley enterprises

"Jamie Dornan (the guy who's playing Christian Grey because they couldn't get Beyoncé) tries to give the pallid prose some weight by pausing significantly before informing us that his tastes are … singular, or telling Anastasia Steele that he'd like … to know more about her." A discussion of the "50 Shades of Grey" trailer in The Atlantic.

"And in the leading roles of Will Shakespeare and his muse and lover, Viola De Lesseps, Tom Bateman and Lucy Briggs-Owen are so vibrantly engaging that they make Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie look like a pair of pallid milksops." From a Chicago Tribune review of a stage version of "Shakespeare in Love."

"Pallid dudes surrounded by dorm-room décor rhapsodize over their first console and the discovery of game-playing soul mates." A NYT article about a movie about the history of video games. 

"The whole your eyes have known, your pallid cheeks have shown; for oh! the swelling tide no bravest heart could hide, when your dear mother died." Catholic News reports on a riddle poem published pseudonymously by Pope Leo XIII in the 19th century. 

"How I hate the man who talks about the 'brute creation', with an ugly emphasis on brute. Only Christians are capable of it. As for me, I am proud of my close kinship with other animals. I take a jealous pride in my Simian ancestry, I like to think that I was once a magnificent hairy fellow living in the trees and that my frame has come down through geological times via sea jelly and worms and Amphioxus, Fish, Dinosaurs and Apes. Who would exchange these for the pallid couple in the Garden of Eden?" The U.K. Independent published that item from the 1910 diary of the naturalist WNP Barbellion.

"'The long days do wear on you,' says a pallid man named Stephen McMurray who is researching the population dynamics of sponges. He dips a spoon into a cup of instant noodles and looks through a window to the sea floor below." Undersea science at GulfNews.com.

As close as we get to Philippe Petit in Madison, Wisconsin.

Now, nobody else do that. You won't look as good, and your movie won't be as good, so there's really no point. Officially, I disapprove, but I disapprove more of the local media giving this thing air, especially if it means that in the end we get some stupid fencing or netting blocking the view.

Meanwhile, long ago...

Everybody's talking about Jonathan Gruber today, so let's see what The New York Times has.

"Mr. Gruber, 46, hates traveling without his wife and three children, so he is tracking the case from his home in Lexington, Mass. There he crunches numbers and advises other states on health care, in between headbanging at Van Halen concerts with his 15-year-old son and cuddling with the family’s eight parrots. (His wife, Andrea, volunteers at a bird rescue center.)"

Oh... that was back in March 2012, in a piece called "Academic Built Case for Mandate in Health Care Law" or as it comes up in the site search: "Jonathan Gruber, Health Care's Mr. Mandate."

So bang your head and cuddle your parrots... or go somewhere else to find out what's up with Gruber:

Studying summer flowers...

Image 1

... thinking about which ones to cut and bring inside.

ADDED: I like the way Meade framed the picture to include the tree tops, and it made me want to look up the old post where the 2 trees in front of the house got planted. That was back on November 20, 2009, the first fall Meade lived here with me:


The big one is a New Horizon elm, a disease-resistant cultivar created at the University of Wisconsin.

Also from back then: here's what one commenter called a "Nice picture of Meade doing manly outdoor work":


"For 123 years, our housing policy has been to house students by their anatomy..."

But the federal government's position says it's sex discrimination in violation of Title IX not to accede to the student's self-identification.
George Fox, a Quaker school southwest of Portland, asked the Department of Education for a religious exemption from Title IX....

“I think the fact that Jayce is choosing to stay at George Fox shows the university community has been supportive of him during his whole experience here,” [said Rob Felton, a university spokesman.] “We may have a difference of opinion on appropriate housing, but all indications are he has been treated well by his peers, professors and our student life staff.”...

“I want other transgender and L.G.B.T.Q. people to see that they can have a place in faith-based education,” [Jaycen] said. “The fact that I’m here is proof of that.”
So, one question is whether Title IX should determine what policy schools can have and another is whether there should be religion-based exemptions.

I miss Jill Abramson!

Is it just me, or has the NYT become boring since the departure of Jill Abramson?

No need to tell me that you've never liked the NYT. I'm trying to focus on the change since they ousted Abramson last May. Remember, just before she was fired last April, there was an incident, reported in Politico, in which she'd "called Dean Baquet into her office to complain" that the NYT "wasn’t 'buzzy' enough," she blamed Baquet, and "Baquet burst out of Abramson’s office, slammed his hand against a wall and stormed out of the newsroom."

In the ensuing power struggle, Baquet got Abramson's job as executive editor, and now we are seeing the results: Not buzzy enough!

I go to the NYT site every day, looking for things to read and, I hope, to blog. I'm finding myself skimming over the front page and then leaving. I can't pinpoint what was there before that pulled me in — perhaps it was overly skewed toward aging, affluent, white females like me — but I'm not going in and hanging around.

IN THE COMMENTS: Big Mike said:
BTW, if you keep owning up to 'aging' then we're gonna have to revoke your status as Baby Boomer. Keep this in mind: we never age!
Here's my take on that, from last year, when I was younger (and so were you):

A conservative who hates Ayn Rand — because he loves Christianity — gives 4 reasons — nice reasons — why other conservatives love her.

Eschewing the usual insults about the heartlessness and greed of Rand-lovers, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry lists:
1. It's a wish-fulfillment fantasy.... A figure like John Galt reaches into deep places inside yourself, and produces intense feelings....

2. It's possible to dissociate a book from its politics... as the conservative grows up and reads more (and better) conservative books, her politics hopefully separate a bit from Rand's extreme and insane Objectivism, even as she retains a great fondness for the books.

3. There are too few works of art in popular culture that have conservative values...

4. Rand's work does get at a crucial truth that almost everyone misses.... Free enterprise is key to human flourishing.... Most defenses of free market capitalism are typically made in a utilitarian lens.... The whole truth takes into account that part of our human nature is a deep drive to find meaning through work, productivity, and even creativity, and that the free enterprise system enables this.... This means that, much like democracy, capitalism is a deeply morally righteous system. This discourse is almost never heard in contemporary society, certainly not in the realm of culture... And I think this is a key reason why so many experience [Rand's] books as a revelation, despite all their shortcomings.

"So in the past I've been quite tempted by the idea that perhaps I'm not a woman after all."

"I mean, I'm masculine in all sorts of ways — I am ambitious, logical, aggressive, strong, and highly competitive. And I'm certainly not silly, frivolous, dainty, weak, or overly emotional ... Oh dear. That's where I run into a major problem, isn't it? When I start listing traits of mine that I'd call masculine, they're always positive. They're points of pride. Whereas when I list traits I lack that I'd call feminine, they're negatives. It seems I can't consider my own masculinity or lack of femininity without relying on some of the worst and most pernicious sex-based stereotypes. This suggests to me that the enterprise itself is suspect...."

From "Why I’m Still a Butch Lesbian," by Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart.

ADDED: Urquhart doesn't say use the word "transgender," but I think she's making an argument to young people who may be overeager to see themselves as transgender. Pay attention to the last 3 sentences of the linked essay. And look at this cartoon at her webcomic Tiny Butch Adventures.

IN THE COMMENTS: I'm frontpaging myself here:
Personally, I find it hard to believe that so many women waste so much time thinking about the extent to which they are feminine. What difference does it make? You are who you are. Isn't that valuable? Unless you have character flaws — and there are flaws that are stereotypically feminine — why should you care or seek to do anything about it? It's like paying attention to whether someone else is taller than you… except that there's room to fake it and to try to be what you are not.

I do think women can be manipulated and bamboozled by others who push them to be more "empathetic," and it's very important to learn how not to get played. But that's another reason to forget about trying to seem more aligned with the stereotype. You make yourself vulnerable to those who would exploit you by making you feel that you need to be kinder or more nurturing.

"Let's give Putin a clear choice: Either he can continue subventing and enabling the bloodletting in eastern Ukraine..."

"... or we can expose the enormous global network of offshore bank accounts, dummy companies, and real estate holdings that belong to him and his criminal elite. A mafia state should be treated as such. And information should once again be weaponized as it was during the Cold War. Moscow has already gotten a head start, by leaking compromised telephone calls between members of our State Department and between Eurocrats and NATO-allied state officials."

Writes Michael Weiss in Foreign Policy.

ADDED: There's also this from lawprof Ruth Wedgwood: "Russia’s operatives could be taken to the International Criminal Court for their role in the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine. Even ICC skeptics in America ought to be open to this approach." 

"Watch Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber Admit in 2012 That Subsidies Were Limited to State-Run Exchanges."

Peter Suderman shows and explains why the D.C. Circuit's opinion in Halbig makes sense (despite efforts of Obamacare supporters to portray it as nonsensical).

Here's what Gruber said (and there's video at the link):
What’s important to remember politically about this is if you're a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don't get their tax credits—but your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying [to] your citizens you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that that's a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges. But, you know, once again the politics can get ugly around this.
The whole point was to coerce the states to set up the exchanges, and the consequences were supposed to be dire. That was the point. Now, the courts are asked to read the statute not to result in those consequences because they're unthinkably harsh. Congress couldn't have meant that.

Fix it, courts.

(The illustration is "Fix it, Daddy," by Frank Kelly Freas, a cover for Astounding Science Fiction, October 1953.)

AND: Remember, the original ACA had the states losing all their Medicaid funding if they declined to participate in the Medicaid extension. The mindset was: Make them an offer they can't refuse. (In NFIB v. Sebelius, Chief Justice Roberts limited the incentive to the Medicaid extension so that it wouldn't be coercion, because if it's coercion it's not within the spending power. (Congress may attach conditions to money it offers the states, but the states must have a choice, and Congress lacks constitutional power to simply dictate that states carry out a federal program.))

Judge who had admittedly had an affair with the wife of a man in a child support case that was before his court...

... is protected from a lawsuit by the doctrine of judicial immunity.

From the 6th Circuit opinion (PDF):
The doctrine of judicial immunity exists “not for the protection or benefit of a malicious or corrupt judge” but for “the benefit of the public, whose interest it is that the judges should be at liberty to exercise their functions with independence and without fear of consequence.”
Judicial immunity doesn't apply to "nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the judge’s judicial capacity," but the acts that affected the man (Robert King) — things that happened in the child support case — were judicial.
On appeal, King argues that Judge McCree’s non-judicial acts deprived him of due process. Specifically, King argues that he was “personally and directly deprived of [the constitutional guarantee of due process] every time Judge [Wade] McCree and Mott engaged in any extrajudicial contact.” Appellant Br. 21. King also argues: “Plaintiff’s due process rights were violated when McCree and Mott had sex in chambers and elsewhere, when they spent time together outside the courtroom, discussed and decided how to sentence Plaintiff for his late child support payments.” Ibid. Before the district court, King identified other allegedly non-judicial acts by Judge McCree that deprived him of due process, including: flirting with Mott from the bench on May 21, engaging in ex parte communications with Mott, giving Mott his business card, having lunch with Mott, “hav[ing] sex repeatedly” with Mott, having sex with Mott in his chambers, giving Mott $6,000, secretly discussing with Mott using jail to loosen King’s “purse strings,” and instructing Mott not to disclose the affair in order to avoid “deep shit.” r. 20 n. 16. At oral argument, King’s counsel argued that the depth and number of these non-judicial acts, as well as the intimacy of Judge McCree’s personal relationship with Mott, makes this case exceptional....

These acts, though often reprehensible, did not directly involve King....

"Airbnb guest won’t leave, forcing condo owner to begin eviction proceedings."

"The guest who overstayed his welcome has renters’ protections under California law because he was in the unit for more than 30 days... New York state also protects renters who stay more than 30 days...."

July 24, 2014

"It’s unfortunate that an actor today would feel uncomfortable playing gay, especially on a program that has always put LGBT characters front and center."

"But Nelsan Ellis and Nathan Parsons are proof that Luke Grimes is not the norm. Grimes is the exception," said Stacy Lambe, Associate Editor of OUT Magazine.
... Larry Gross, a professor specializing in LGBT and TV issues at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism said that in today’s climate “refusing to play a bisexual role is not a good career move. It’s pretty clear Luke will suffer as a result. Hollywood will either say he was unprofessional or a phobe of some sort"...

Cool green.



"Yes, it is important for girls to present themselves in ways that don't spotlight their sexuality..."

"... but from a feminist perspective, it is equally important for young ladies to not see overt displays of sexuality as a sign of a deviant personality."

Interestingly the same and simultaneously different, from the same article: "Women can't get ahead no matter what they do, and this is a society where women who are sexual (or present themselves sexually) are judged. But on the flip side, women who don't take enough care in their appearance, who dress sloppily, who don't fit the required metric of how women should look, are also criticized."

I think this idea of not judging is overstated. It seems to me that anyone — male or female — who tries to look sexy in social media photographs is going to get mocked. Males, perhaps, even more than females.

If this mockery were somehow silenced — and, really, how could that happen? — I can't imagine how idiotic the photographs would get.

Linda Greenhouse predicts that the Supreme Court won't take the University of Texas Fisher case back...

... now that the 5th Circuit, on remand, has approved of the affirmative action program, because "unless the new appeal offers a plausible vehicle for getting rid of affirmative action... why would the justices bother?"
Justice Kennedy, whose vote would most likely decide the appeal’s fate, is already being pressed from the right to man up...

Note that I’m predicting only that the court will sidestep Fisher redux, not that the justices won’t deal again with affirmative action.... The stakes are too high, the disappointment in some quarters — and some Supreme Court chambers — over the pallid outcome of the Supreme Court’s Fisher case too deep, the issue too mobilizing for it to fade away.
ADDED: What do you think of Greenhouse's use of the phrase "man up"? Does it serve her cause of preserving affirmative action or does it undercut what she is saying by presenting support for affirmative action as unmanly? I suspect Greenhouse would say that she's attacking the righties who are pressuring Kennedy: They are the bullies who are taunting Kennedy by questioning his manliness.

Here's the post from a couple weeks ago where I discussed the phrase "man up."

AND: I wanted to add some discussion of whether the righties really did indulge in any insinuations about Kennedy's masculinity, but Greenhouse only cites a Wall Street Journal editorial and it's behind a pay wall. What the hell is the point of writing editorials — attempts to influence opinion — and making them hard to see? I mean, I know how to Google and get to the text, but it's so irritating.

Anyway, the WSJ said "Justice Kennedy blinked" in Fisher. Is blinking unmasculine?

Butt hackery in America.

Boy has 232 teeth removed.

"Ashik's malaise was diagnosed as a complex composite odontoma where a single gum forms lots of teeth."

The "50 Shades of Grey" trailer is ready to see you now.

I hope you find that suitably ludicrous. If not, if you got actual twinges of sexual feeling, you are not doing your part to prevent the downfall of civilization.

"It is not a coincidence... that judges appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents have divided along party lines in these cases."

"I do not believe this is because Republicans dislike Obamacare and Democrats like it. It is because Republican presidents now appoint judges who stick to textualism even when it leads to harsh results while Democratic presidents are more likely to choose judges who will look at the big picture and the human costs, when they’re parsing the words of a law."

Writes lawprof Richard L. Hasen.

My question for Hasen: But if a judge is going to look at the big picture and the human costs, won't that perception include his likes and dislikes?

I think the answer must be yes, and if so, I believe Hasen — wittingly or unwittingly — conceded that textualism does constrain a judge. Yes, this person — this Scaliaesque entity — will not save us from harsh results, but at the same time, this means that the textualist's idea of what results are, in fact, harsh never becomes part of the analysis.

ADDED: What, if anything, is wrong with Republican Presidents choosing textualists and Democratic Presidents choosing nontextualists? (Maybe that isn't what's happening, but we can assume it is, for the purpose of discussion.) Why isn't that what a liberal should like best (aside from preventing any Republican Presidents from ever appointing any judges)? What would the nontextualist conservative do with clearly written statutes that seem "harsh" to him or impose what he calculates as "human costs"? Does Professor Hasen really want this character's "big picture" trumping the words of legislatures?

AND: I'm trying to imagine what this out-and-proud conservative creative-rewriter of statutes would do. Imagine an arch-conservative President appointing stalwart conservatives with strong visions of the good who feel free to fix statutes to save us from harsh results and human costs. Obviously, Hasen would hate that, and yet it's so tempting to excoriate the textualist conservatives for their textualism, even when you know damned well you'd really hate their nontextualist work. But I think most laypersons think textualism is what a judge should do, and a judge who emerges from the cloak of textualism is much easier to criticize.

ALSO: A textualist may think he can discipline legislators into writing their statutes clearly, but what can such a project mean with a sprawling text like the Affordable Care Act? Did anyone even read it? Was any legislator in a position even to perceive the loose ends that needed tying up? The original act was intended to coerce the states by putting all of the Medicaid funding at risk. The Supreme Court saved Obamacare by rewriting the statute so that only the Medicaid extension would be lost, otherwise the spending power would not have supported the scheme.

A Scalia majority would have taken the entire statutory scheme down in 2012, and we wouldn't be talking about this new set of cases.

In the new cases, no one can find the text needed to make the federal exchange work, and it's no surprise that there's nothing in the text that addresses the remnant of the ACA that was left after the Supreme Court saved us from what Chief Justice Roberts — in his Republican-appointed nontextuality — might have considered a "harsh result."

The newest attack in the war on women: Men commenting on the food women eat.

Be careful, guys, women are taking notes and tweeting about your off-handed remarks about what they are eating, and what you might imagine is lighthearted and even charming, they are portraying as an effort to control their bodies.

"In my late 50s, at a time of life when most people are supposed to be drifting into a cautious conservatism..."

"...I am surprised to find myself moving steadily leftward," writes Thomas Ricks a Politico piece titled "Why Am I Moving Left?/I used to be right down the middle. But America’s changed, and so have I."

Is Ricks someone whose political shift matters, someone we shouldn't suspect of hacking out another essay desperate for links? He informs us that he's spent his journalistic career "covering the U.S. military, first for the Wall Street Journal and then for the Washington Post, and now for Foreign Policy magazine." He's "written five books about the Marines, the Army and our wars." And he actually refrained from voting, because he wanted to maintain a professional detachment from his subject matter. (I wonder how many reporters do that. I've actually toyed with the idea of not voting, but it was a way of conveying my commitment to what I call "cruel neutrality," and in the end, I care too much about participating in the ritual of going to the polls.)

"What is ridiculous is the Obama administration refusing to answer simple questions about whether this was dictated by politics and why the FAA is singling out Israel..."

"... while not focusing on other areas around the world... Was this politics from the White House? Or was this an airline safety decision? And I think the facts strongly suggest it was politics and an effort to strong arm the nation of Israel."

Said Ted Cruz.

July 23, 2014

I'm considering posting about...

... this article on procrastination, and I'm pondering exactly how to do it, and the whole time I'm distracted by this plan I formed 10 minutes ago to shut off the computer and go to bed.

"An Iranian judge sentenced a Christian man to have his lips burnt with a cigarette..."

"... for eating during the day in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan."

"The execution of a convicted murderer in Arizona lasted for nearly two hours on Wednesday..."

"... as witnesses said he gasped and snorted for much of that time before eventually dying."
“I’m telling you he was snoring,” Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for the Arizona attorney general’s office, said in an e-mail to The Washington Post. “There was no gasping or snorting. Nothing. He looked like he was asleep. This was my first execution and I have no reason to minimize this.”

Marco Rubio's social conservative manifesto.

Here's the full text. There's good, there's boilerplate, and there's the predictable effort at grappling with the discrimination against gay couples that some people feel sure belongs in the social-conservative platform:

NYT exposes the U.S. Senator from Montana who seems to have committed plagiarism on his dissertation.

And he's even a Democrat.

At the Green Café...


... I think I'm going to lie down right here and rest.

"In fact, this is nothing like breast implants. If breast implants got stuck under your tongue..."

"... and in the back of your throat when you were pleasuring your (hypothetical) woman, then you could say it's the same. Also, these are not so much complaints as they are common, first-hand reports on the sexual logistics associated with not grooming. We women (and men) are trying to give you [ungroomed] men a glimpse into our struggle. We just want to help, man, we just want to help."

Comment (by a female) at a Buzzfeed article (written by a man) called "Dear Men, Stop Shaving Your Pubes/Let’s end this once and for all." The article got huge pushback from females, and the comment I've quoted comes after a defensive male said:
Dear women, I don't groom for you. I groom for me. If you don't like it, we're obviously not sexually compatible, and I couldn't care less what you think. I say the same thing about breast implants, but that makes me a misogynist. Your complaints are no less superficial than that of people who hate "fatties" and "uggos"...
What's this world coming to? It seems that people don't like each other too much anymore.

"Births have slowed so sharply that researchers note that future economic growth could be stunted by a smaller labor pool."

"Immigration is often seen as a fix. But the downturn crimped supply lines for both babies and new foreign faces. The change was so dramatic that the Census Bureau in 2012 was forced to revise the 2050 U.S. population projection it made just four years earlier, dropping it by 9 percent, to just under 400 million."

Fewer people, slower economy... why isn't this exactly what those who worry about climate change ordinarily celebrate?

"Given the potential for chaos in the Obamacare scheme if the states decline to participate, it's surprising that Justices Breyer and Kagan went along with the Chief Justice's opinion on the spending power."

"The original legislation had the states locked in, because they'd lose all their Medicaid funding if they didn't participate. That was held to be coercive, and thus not supportable by the spending power, which requires that states be given a choice whether to run federal programs and accept various related conditions. Under the Court's ruling, the states only lose the funding for the expansion of Medicaid, which makes it possible for them to say no, as many seem to be doing. There's an elaborate set of moves in the future, and I wonder how far ahead the Chief Justice looked when he chose his position. Perhaps Obamacare is doomed by the seemingly modest, miminalist hit it took on the spending power issue. But wouldn't Breyer and Kagan have seen ahead too? Why did they join him? I'm not ready to give him genius points for skillful playing of the long game."

Just something I wrote on July 5, 2012 that should be useful in thinking about the new Court of Appeals cases.

Mountain biking as a school sport.

"It's unbelievable to watch these kids.... We take them to a green space, teach them how to get their weight back. Light hands, heavy feet. "

"A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that the Wisconsin governor’s race remains a dead heat..."

"... with Republican Gov. Scott Walker receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving 45 percent support...."
Among likely voters, i.e., those who say they are certain to vote in November’s election, Burke receives 47 percent and Walker 46 percent....

The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. For the sample of 549 likely voters, the margin of error is +/- 4.3 percentage points.

"I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained."


That's my photo, from 3 days ago. The post-title quote is from Zhou Dunyi, from a thousand years ago.

"Another professor showed me a large paper of instructions for discovering plots and conspiracies against the government."

"He advised great statesmen to examine into the diet of all suspected persons; their times of eating; upon which side they lay in bed; with which hand they wipe their posteriors; take a strict view of their excrements, and, from the colour, the odour, the taste, the consistence, the crudeness or maturity of digestion, form a judgment of their thoughts and designs; because men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool, which he found by frequent experiment; for, in such conjunctures, when he used, merely as a trial, to consider which was the best way of murdering the king, his ordure would have a tincture of green; but quite different, when he thought only of raising an insurrection, or burning the metropolis."

From Jonathan Swift, "Gulliver's Travels":

You don't know squat.

Last night, we were discussing that article in The Guardian about how everything in the bathroom is wrong, beginning — of course — with the toilet. The statement "our bodies were designed to squat" irked the commenters, beginning with Joe:
[Our] bodies weren't designed.
Some religionists may protest, and I got sidetracked into wondering if the Bible has anything to say about what sort of toilet we should be using. I found something in Deuteronomy (putting the doo in Deuteronomy):
"Choose a place outside the camp for a latrine. Include a spade among your equipment so that when you squat to relieve yourself, you can dig a hole and then cover your excrement. For the LORD your God is on the move within your camp to deliver you and to hand your enemies over to you. Therefore your camp must be holy so that he will not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you."
When you squat to relieve yourself... Aha! So God was picturing you squatting over a hole. If we are to believe Deuteronomy...

In a nonreligious mode, ken in sc said:
Only a person who has never tried to rise up from a squat on 60+ year-old knees would think our toilets are too high. They make adapters to make toilets even higher for semi-invalids.
This got me thinking that if the squatting position is better for many people, there's no need to install different toilets, just make some sort of stool that fits around the base of the toilets we already have to raise the feet to a higher position. I figured this must already exist, but I despaired at the prospect of Googling the word "stool" with "toilet," given the alternative meaning of "stool." I carefully constructed my search: footstool for toilet to make it more like a squat toilet.

Behold: The Squatty Potty.

And here's NPR nattering about squatting. Last paragraph:
For most people, the modern toilet doesn't cause any problems," [said Rebekah Kim, a colorectal surgeon at the Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders at Virginia Hospital Center]. But if you're to believe Slate's [Daniel] Lametti, squatting on top of the toilet could be a time-saver — he managed to drop his 10-minute routine down to a minute.
I was afraid to click on that last link. I really don't want to hear about some man's 10-minute routine. But I did, and I'm not sorry, because the illustration is so absurd — 2 men on side-by-side toilets, one much happier than the other. Lametti concludes that even though he "gained an hour over seven days," he still preferred the familiar chair-height toilet and doubted that squat toilets would be "the next back-to-nature craze—the new barefoot running shoe or caveman diet," mainly because "Americans, now fatter than ever, are having trouble standing up from a sit, never mind a squat." Lametti's a bit of an asshole, no?

"I firmly believe — and I don't say this as a criticism — that life is meaningless."

Said Woody Allen, in the context of promoting his newest movie "Magic in the Moonlight." It's not incongruous to mix comedy-movie promoting and a statement of the meaninglessness of life, of course. If there is no larger truth about life and you're on you own with the life that you have, you've got to find some things to do, and obviously, going to a comedy movie is one of those things. I remember the scene in the Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" where the Woody Allen character, confronted with the meaninglessness of life, sees the Marx Brothers movie "Duck Soup" and decides that life is nevertheless worth living.

The current quote continues:
"I'm not alone in thinking this... There have been many great minds far, far superior to mine that have come to that conclusion. Both early in life and after years of living and, unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it's not [meaningless,] I think it is. I think it is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. That's just the way I feel about it. I'm not saying one should opt to kill oneself, but the truth of the matter is when you think of it, every 100 years... there is a big flush and everybody in the world is gone, then there is a new group of people, then that gets flushed, then there is a new group of people and this goes on interminably for no particular end -- I don't want to upset you -- there's no end and no rhyme or reason. And the universe -- as you know from the best physicists -- is coming apart and eventually there will be nothing. Absolutely nothing. All the great works of Shakespeare and Beethoven and Da Vinci. All that will be gone. Now, not for a long time, but gone...."
As in "Hannah and Her Sisters," Woody's solution is to pay attention to the particular details of life:
"What I would recommend is the solution I've come up with -- distraction. That's all you can do. You get up. You can be distracted by your love life, by the baseball game, by the movies, by the nonsense: 'Can I get my kid in this private school?' 'Will this girl go out with me Saturday night?' 'Can I think of an ending for the third act of my play?' 'Am I going to get the promotion in my office?'"
But shouldn't it still matter what your details happen to be? Is distractingness the only standard? Woody plays into the hands of those who believe him to be an amoral monster. And he's not helping the atheist crowd, who perpetually strain to convince us that people can be good — if not better — when they don't believe there's a God who's put us here for a reason. Well... not perpetually... perpetually is wrong. Shakespeare and Beethoven and Da Vinci are gone and so is Christopher Hitchens, the best of atheists devoted to convincing us that atheists are good people.

From "God Is Not Great":

We [the atheists] are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books. Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and—since there is no other metaphor—also the soul. We do not believe in heaven or hell, yet no statistic will ever find that without these blandishments and threats we commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful. (In fact, if a proper statistical inquiry could ever be made, I am sure the evidence would be the other way.) We are reconciled to living only once, except through our children, for whom we are perfectly happy to notice that we must make way, and room. 
Hitchens may have been "perfectly happy" to make room, but Woody saw "a big flush" that only makes room for the next set of people headed for the great flushing.
We speculate that it is at least possible that, once people accepted the fact of their short and struggling lives, they might behave better toward each other and not worse. We believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion. And we know for a fact that the corollary holds true—that religion has caused innumerable people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow.  

Nothing to see here! Move along! That Obamacare case is nothing — nothing, I tell you!

At the top of Memeorandum — which collects trending news and opinion pieces — the flop sweat shows:

(Click to enlarge.)

ADDED: It's funny, these websites are obviously trying to draw traffic, so they are imagining a need and serving it. These writers — especially the headline writers — must think there are a lot of potential readers who are upset and in need of soothing. The writers themselves may not be experiencing any sort of panic or anxiety. They may simply be grinding out the next damn thing that one does in the daily enterprise of grabbing eyeballs. The shamefully dishonest!!!! enterprise of grabbing eyeballs.

July 22, 2014

"A few years ago, Mel and I got into an argument about the house. I told her it was embarrassing."

"I asked her what she did all day. 'It really can’t be that hard to keep the house clean,' I said."
We got into a huge fight. Mel told me that I needed to realize what she was up against. And then she told me something that really hit home. She said, “Sometimes it comes down between cleaning the house, and taking Tristan and Norah to the park. Or spending time having fun with them, or teaching them to read or write. Sometimes I can either do the dishes, or teach our son how to ride a bike, or our daughter how to walk. I’d rather do those things, frankly. I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”
How about spending time teaching Tristan and Norah how to help with the dishes? 

IN THE COMMENTS: Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:
Our daughter turned 3 a few months ago. So far this month she's done all of the following, most of them several times, and it's not an exhaustive list: picked up her books and toys; swept the kitchen floor; vacuumed her room (sort of); fed the cats every day; fed the dogs; rinsed dishes and placed them in the drainer (we wash by hand); set the table for supper several times; picked raspberries; made and baked cookies in her own toaster oven; cracked and scrambled her own breakfast eggs; hung clothes on the line; brushed out a shedding dog and put the fur in the trash; picked tomatoes; sliced cucumbers with a very sharp serrated knife (under close supervision); competently nailed in shoe moulding with her own 12 oz hammer; figured our which wire nuts I need or three different projects and handed me the right one; helped prune *roses*; cut zinnias and made a vase of them for Papa's office; handed me wrenches (usually the right one) as I have repaired farm equipment; and ... had a glorious good time with each and both of her parents as we go about the normal activities of our lives.

*None* of that has prevented her from beginning her basic reading, becoming fluent in two languages (beginning a third), going for walks with us, taking music lessons, spending hours creating kingdoms in her sandbox, or bringing us caterpillars she wants to watch become butterflies.

"My own childhood seems to have become illegal."

"I was the son of a single mother. During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, N.J., to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs. I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on. If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping."

From "Why are so many parents being arrested?/The communities that used to assist them are gone. So we call the cops instead."

"I always forbade everyone to clean my studios, dust them, not only for fear they would disturb my things, but especially because I always counted on the protection of dust."

"It’s my ally. I always let it settle where it likes. It’s like a layer of protection. When there’s dust missing here or there, it’s because someone has touched my things. I see immediately someone has been there. And it’s because I live constantly with dust, in dust, that I prefer to wear gray suits, the only color on which it leaves no trace."

Said Picasso.

"It is hard to find something that we actually got right in the modern bathroom."

"The toilet is too high (our bodies were designed to squat), the sink is too low and almost useless; the shower is a deathtrap (an American dies every day from bath or shower accidents). We fill this tiny, inadequately ventilated room with toxic chemicals ranging from nail polish to tile cleaners. We flush the toilet and send bacteria into the air, with our toothbrush in a cup a few feet away. We take millions of gallons of fresh water and contaminate it with toxic chemicals, human waste, antibiotics and birth control hormones in quantities large enough to change the gender of fish."

From "Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design/Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster." Via Metafilter, where somebody says:
Don't care won't care. That Guardian article is yet another attempt to put the blame for environmental problems on me the customer/individual when the system needs to change. I like my hot shower and want enough water and energy to run it, cleanly, not dither around pissing in straw buckets.

The hottest day of the year...


... that would be today, here in Madison, Wisconsin. Dare I go out? It's 83.3°F — feels like 89! It might hit 88.

The other Obamacare lawsuit: "A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Monday brought by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson...

"... and one of his aides attempting to force members of Congress and their staffs to stop getting subsidies for their health insurance under Obamacare."
Johnson, a Republican from Oshkosh, argued that members of Congress and their staffs were required to get insurance on their own under the Affordable Care Act, also widely known as Obamacare. But U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in Green Bay ruled Monday that Johnson and his aide, Brooke Ericson, didn't have legal standing to bring their case because they hadn't been injured.
Here's our discussion, begun earlier this morning, about the D.C. Circuit's Obamacare opinion, dealing with subsidies for people using the federal exchanges. There was a standing issue in that case too. There (PDF) court found standing because one of the plaintiffs had an injury in fact that would be remedied by the relief sought from the court:

A big new NIH survey finds only 1.6% of American adults say they are gay or lesbian.

And only 0.7% say bisexual.

Why are these numbers so low? Is it that people are hiding or in denial, or is the proportion of nonhetereosexuals really pretty much that low?

"All of us who do what Thomas Frank does — what I do — have failed. Our goal was to persuade the public to move in a liberal direction..."

"... and that didn't happen. In the end, we didn't persuade much of anyone. It's natural to want to avoid facing that humiliating truth, and equally natural to look for someone else to blame instead. That's human nature. So fine. Blame Obama if it makes you feel better. That's what we elect presidents for: to take the blame. But he only deserves his share. The rest of us, who were unable to take advantage of an epic financial collapse to get the public firmly in favor of pitchforks and universal health care, deserve most of it."

Writes Kevin Drum in Mother Jones (citing the same Thomas Frank article we were talking about here yesterday).

"Pitchforks" refers to Obama's claim to be "the only thing between you and the pitchforks." And "you" was investment bankers. Drum is saying the financial collapse was the opportunity for left-wingers to turn the American people into a pitchfork-waving mob, but they let that serious crisis go to waste (as they say).

Why a pitchfork? In pop culture, it's "standard equipment for any angry mob on a Witch Hunt."
The mob may be going after a witch, an evil wizard, a vampire, a Mad Scientist, a "perverted" person, or any other unpopular local figure. If the mob is after the villain, he most probably ends up being shamed by the mob. f they're coming after the good guys for one reason or another (like if our heroes are hiding a Reluctant Monster), their best defense is Shaming the Mob or an obstacle that will force them to go one by one, raising the question of Who Will Bell the Cat?
But Drum is pro-mob. He wants out-and-proud pitchforkery.

I'll take the cotton candy. And I won't let the opportunity of this post go to waste. This is my time to say that when I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I was not hoping for the United States to lurch way left. I was hoping for the very moderation that irks guys like Frank and Drum. Frank-n-Drum. Frankendrum!

A big defeat for Obamacare in the D.C. Court of Appeals.

"The 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia — not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov."
"Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states," wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith. "We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly."

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a "not-so-veiled attempt to gut" Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority "portends disastrous consequences." 
ADDED: Here's the PDF of the opinion,  Halbig v. Burwell. Excerpt:

What's so terrible about that Verizon "Inspire Her Mind" ad gently prodding parents to encourage intellectual development in girls?

Ironically, the ad milks emotions, with mawkish violins and the sad faces of young girls — every single one of whom is pretty. There's nothing scientific about this presentation.

And that's quite aside from the iffy statistics that Christina Hoff Sommers highlights in her critique, here (via Instapundit):

My favorite part of that critique is the part that begins at 4:00: The ad "conveys the message that science is masculine," and "conventional girl culture" is "shown as an obstacle to girls' science careers." It's as if what is feminine is inherently bad, and what's masculine is good, so shake off the feminine and be masculine. That's misogyny, precisely.

In this light, consider how we treat boys who feel drawn to girly things. I'm thinking of the "Go Carolina" chapter in the David Sedaris collection "Me Talk Pretty One Day." As a 5th-grader, he's one of the students chosen for speech therapy:
None of the therapy students were girls. They were all boys like me who kept movie star scrapbooks and made their own curtains. “You don’t want to be doing that,” the men in our families would say. “That’s a girl thing.” Baking scones and cupcakes for the school janitors, watching Guiding Light with our mothers, collecting rose petals for use in a fragrant potpourri: anything worth doing turned out to be a girl thing. In order to enjoy ourselves, we learned to be duplicitous. Our stacks of Cosmopolitan were topped with an unread issue of Boy’s Life or Sports Illustrated, and our decoupage projects were concealed beneath the sporting equipment we never asked for but always received. When asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, we hid the truth and listed who we wanted to sleep with when we grew up. “A policeman or a fireman or one of those guys who works with high-tension wires.” Symptoms were feigned, and our mothers wrote notes excusing our absences on the day of the intramural softball tournament. Brian had a stomach virus or Ted suffered from that twenty-four-hour bug.
Anything worth doing turned out to be a girl thing... Now, there's some material for an "Inspire Her Mind" ad we never see. Or for an "Inspire His Mind" ad....

"The full Biden plays better around the Mediterranean and in Latin America than in, say, England and Germany."

"A former British official who attended White House meetings with Biden said, 'He’s a bit like a spigot that you can turn on and can’t turn off.' He added, 'For all of the genuine charm, it is frustrating that you do feel as if he doesn’t leave enough oxygen in the room to get your points across, particularly for those who are polite and don’t interrupt.' He learned to leave extra room on the schedule to account for what colleagues called 'the Biden hour.' In Israel, Biden’s approach goes down better. On a visit in 2011, Biden quoted his father saying, 'There’s no sense dying on a small cross'—to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a larger step toward peace in the Middle East. Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., said, 'We’re in Jerusalem, we’ve got a Catholic Vice-President, we’ve got a Jewish Prime Minister, and he’s telling him, "There’s no sense dying on a small cross." The Prime Minister starting laughing, and, I have to tell you, it is the single most succinct understanding of Israeli political reality of any other statement that I’ve heard.'"

From "The Biden Agenda/Reckoning with Ukraine and Iraq, and keeping an eye on 2016," by Evan Osnos in The New Yorker.

If you have to ask...

... the answer is "no."

Leave John Koskinen alone!

He's trying to work!

Scientists struggle to determine whether you should sleep 8 hours...

... or only 7.

Lots of correlation/causation issues there. People sleeping lengthily may be trying to catch up, sleeping something off, or just plain ill. Why would they do well on brain tests?

And why assume that there is one right answer for human beings or even for one individual, year 'round, in different light conditions? I think it's amazing that our need to sleep fits with the day-to-night cycles of the earth. But then I lived through the great "biorhythms" pseudo-science outbreak of the 1970s:
Most biorhythm models use three cycles: a 23-day physical cycle, a 28-day emotional cycle, and a 33-day intellectual cycle. Although the 28-day cycle is the same length as the average woman's menstrual cycle and was originally described as a "female" cycle, the two are not necessarily in any particular synchronization. Each of these cycles varies between high and low extremes sinusoidally, with days where the cycle crosses the zero line described as "critical days" of greater risk or uncertainty.
Fortunately, that's total nonsense, and we are pretty well attuned to day and night. Night is for sleeping. How long? Why is that question even needed? I think it's because people are waking up to alarm clocks or other intrusive noises and jostlings. Too bad! I think you'd know how long you need to sleep if you'd just go to bed when you're tired and wake up when you wake up, but I guess that's some kind of luxury these days... or in any day. 

"With the BLACK ALBUM, we get to hear the boys write on adult life: marriage, fatherhood..."

"... sobriety, spiritual yearning, the emptiness of material success — 'Starting Over,' 'Maybe I’m Amazed,' 'Beautiful Boy,' 'The No No Song,' 'God' — and still they are keenly aware of this fact: Love does not last."

From the liner notes, by Ethan Hawke for the post-Beatles Beatles album constructed out of the solo effort of the post-boy boys. Scroll way down to see the 50 songs and the order in which they will be played.

Is "The No No Song" about "the emptiness of material success"? Just say "no" to... everything?

Nah, it's a sobriety song. And it was years before the "Just Say No" ad campaign that linked the word "no" to Nancy Reagan.
The phrase "Just Say No" first emerged when Nancy Reagan was visiting Longfellow Elementary School in Oakland, California, in 1982 and was asked by a schoolgirl what to do if she was offered drugs. The first lady responded by saying, "Just say no." Just Say No club organizations within schools and school-run anti-drug programs soon became common, in which young people make pacts not to experiment with drugs.
"No" was once a Ringo word, especially when repeated. But maybe you, like me, associate the repeated "no" with The Human Beinz. What were they "no"ing?

That "no" is about rejecting the capacity of others to turn in a superior performance of the shingaling and the boogaloo.

And, no no no, don't accuse me of failing to notice The Isley Brothers. Their original "Nobody But Me" did not include the repeated "no." The absurd non-negative "no"ing was the contribution of The Human Beinz:

"The recording's two 31-fold repetitions of the word 'no; fulfill Casey Kasem's 'Book of Records' category of most repetitive word or phrase in a Hot 100 top 10 hit, besting the 26-fold repetition of 'I know' in Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine.'"

"Know"/"No"... a telling homophone... as The Beatles knew:

July 21, 2014

"If you see her, tell her Dexter says hello."

Oh, I get it now. Took me a while.

Judge Alex Kozinski says the guillotine would be better than the lethal injection, but the firing squad is "the most promising."

Dissenting today from the denial of rehearing en banc in the lethal injection secrecy case of Joseph Wood:
Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful... But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.

The Burt of Burt's Bees.

He gestured to an apartment complex across Third Avenue, the Ruppert Yorkville Towers, and added, “And that used to be the Ruppert brewery. The workers could drink from taps on the walls, and, because of all the grain, a river of rats ran down the streets at night. It was a magic town. But, you know . . . ” He held a photograph he’d snapped of an elderly neighbor staring dourly out her window, framed by dingy curtains. “As soon as I took this shot, I knew that that would be me, ninety years old and unable to go outside, if I didn’t get the hell out. I borrowed a van from a former girlfriend, packed up everything I needed—my bed, what clothes I had, an orange crate of books—and disappeared into the declining sun.” When was that? “Possibly it was the sixties. If I get some peace and quiet, I can lay that on you.” (He left in 1970.)

"Fancy Upper West Side Building Will Have a Separate Door for Poor People."

Part of the "Inclusionary Housing Program, which gives developers tax credits and other perks in exchange for creating some affordable units alongside their less affordable ones":
... 40 Riverside will have 219 expensive, river-facing condos to sell to people who are in a position to buy them and 55 street-facing places to rent to sad sacks who earn 60 percent or less than the median income....

I've kind of been ignoring these new Weird Al things because I don't know the underlying music anymore...

... but here's his latest, "First World Problems:

And... it's apparent your grammar's errant:

ADDED: Did you know that Coolio apologized?
When I asked people what I should ask Coolio, the most common question I got, the thing most people seem to want to know: Do you still have beef with Weird Al?

Fuck no, man, I let that go so long ago. Let me say this: I apologized to Weird Al a long time ago and I was wrong. Y’all remember that, everybody out there who reads this shit. Real men and real people should be able to admit when they’re wrong and I was wrong, bro. Come on, who the fuck am I, bro? He did parodies of Michael Jackson, he did parodies of all kinds of people and I took offense to it because I was being cocky and shit and being stupid and I was wrong and I should’ve embraced that shit and went with it. I listened to it a couple years after that and it’s actually funny as shit. It’s one of those things where I made a wrong call and nobody stopped me. That’s one thing I’m still upset about—my management at the time. Somebody should’ve stopped me from making that statement because it was dumb. And I think it hurt me a little bit. It made me seem stupid.
In case you missed it, all those many years ago, here's Weird Al's "Amish Paradise," and here's Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise."

University of Wisconsin Chief Diversity Officer rejects insinuations that our diversity plan involves race/ethnicity-based grading.

Here's the new statement from Professor Patrick Sims, Chief Diversity Officer and interim vice provost for Diversity and Climate. (And here's my post from last Friday about the insinuations.)

Sims writes:
The concept of Inclusive Excellence allows institutions to engage diversity from a vantage poin [sic] of alignment with campus quality efforts, underscoring the educational benefits of diversity for all students, while emphasizing it as a central value of the institution. These laudable goals serve as the backbone for how institutions like UW-Madison, which have a long and rich tradition of academic rigor and excellence, can make excellence more inclusive, hence the term Inclusive Excellence.
That kind of bureaucratese is unlikely to stanch the rumors unless it convinces you that the whole plan is nothing but an incantation that sounds good to the people who like the sound of bureaucratese.

Anyway, as I said in my post last Friday, the "Inclusive Excellence" concept wasn't even part of the plan the faculty senate adopted, as Sims says toward the end of his statement. It did appear in another document, and even there, the "proportional and equitable distribution of grades" was intended to result not from race/ethnic-discrimination in grading but from — as Sims puts it — "fostering living and learning spaces that are inclusive."

I suspect that those who jumped to assume that there would be grade discrimination will say that they don't believe that inclusive "living and learning spaces" will achieve the goals. But that doesn't mean those who wrote and adopted the plan will resort to cheating.

On the other hand, here's a great article in The New Yorker about how the No Child Left Behind guidelines led a very good and admirable middle school teacher to participate in blatant cheating on test-scoring.



... seize it.

"These days the holy grail is an octopus or a dragon. I only know of three octopuses being found..."

"... and one was by me, in a cave in Challaborough, Devon. It's quite competitive. If you heard that your neighbour had found a green dragon, you'd want to go out and find one yourself."

"Weed never made me unproductive. In fact, it helped me work."

"I’d leave fun parties because, within moments of smoking, I had to rush home and produce something: record a song, write a story."

"When I fought in Vietnam, I used to look at the faces of the local population and the looks they gave us."

 "I’ll never forget it. It gave me clarity that we saw the situation in completely different ways," said John Kerry pushing Benjamin Netanyahu "to try to understand what life looks like from the Palestinian point of view."
“This isn’t Vietnam!” Netanyahu shouted. “No one understands Israel but Israel.”

Kerry tried explaining himself again: “No one is saying it’s Vietnam. But I’ve been coming here for thirty years, and I’m telling you, what’s building up in the Palestinians has only gotten worse. I’ve seen it. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong; it just is. It can’t be solved if you can’t see it how they see it.”

"[T]he almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds."

"Which leads us to the question of price and profit...."
A single ounce (28 grams) of almonds... contains six grams of protein (about an egg's worth), along with three grams of fiber (a medium banana) and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (half an avocado). According to its label, an eight-ounce serving of Califia almond milk offers just one gram each of protein and fiber, and five grams of fat. A bottle of Califia delivers six eight-ounce servings, meaning that a handful of almonds contains as much protein as the mighty jug of this hot-selling beverage....

Men in Shorts...

... alert!

I say "alert"... and yet... alluring.

From the comments:
You know, it’s rediculous clothes like these that turn strait guys off from fashion! They take one look, and it’s like “oh please” and go back to there jeans and t shirts.
Well now, I’m straight and I think these are great clothes. When I was young I was a first generation punk in 1976, people laughed at me in the street and shouted abuse just because of the way I looked. If lots of homophobic straight men prefer to stay in boring jeans and t-shirts then surely that’s their problem. And don’t forget, many straight fashion trends started out on the gay scene – tattoos, piercing and yes, even jeans and t-shirts have been resurrected by gays when they were out of fashion. Wearing interesting clothes just takes a little imagination!

"Perhaps John Yoo would've thought twice about the dubious legal cover he gave to Bush administration torture..."

"... or his judgment that there are circumstances in which the president could legally crush the testicles of a child to elicit information from his father, if he'd envisioned a future where tourists on the mall would see a statue of a bound, naked child, a masked man cranking a vise around his testicles, and a marble Yoo shrugging his shoulders as if to say, 'I'm not gonna stop you.' That may sound implausibly grisly for a monument...."

From "The Case for Subversive Monuments in Washington, D.C." by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.

"Tall and thin all his life, he was partly drawn to study obesity because it lent itself to the pursuit of 'beginner’s mind,' a Buddhist consciousness concept...."

From the NYT obituary for Dr. Albert J. Stunkard, who "was the first to identify binge eating as a medical disorder, one of the first to link obesity to socioeconomic factors, and the first scientist to show why so many obese people have about as much control over their body weight as they do over their parentage [and] also one of the first medical professionals to condemn the stigmatization of overweight people."

The NYT links here for the meaning of "beginner's mind," which extols the book "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" and quotes the first sentence — "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few" — but gives very little basis for understanding what drove the skinny Stunkard to study the stout.

Searching, I found such awful garbage — like "How to Live Life to the Max with Beginner’s Mind" — that I had to end this post right here so I could begin somewhere else.

On the topic of Obama's failure, Thomas "What's the Matter With Kansas?" Frank emits the purplest prose that ever...

...  included the word "shitty":
The task facing the makers of the Obama museum, however, will be pretty much exactly the opposite: how to document a time when America should have changed but didn’t. Its project will be to explain an age when every aspect of societal breakdown was out in the open and the old platitudes could no longer paper it over—when the meritocracy was clearly corrupt, when the financial system had devolved into organized thievery, when everyone knew that the politicians were bought and the worst criminals went unprosecuted and the middle class was in a state of collapse and the newspaper pundits were like street performers miming “seriousness” for an audience that had lost its taste for mime and seriousness both. It was a time when every thinking person could see that the reigning ideology had failed, that an epoch had ended, that the shitty consensus ideas of the 1980s had finally caved in—and when an unlikely champion arose from the mean streets of Chicago to keep the whole thing propped up nevertheless.

Mashable may be thinking "Thoughts That Etsy Models Are Having Right Now."

See if you can caption that better than Mashable did.

But what I'm thinking is: Time to revisit Randy Normal:

ADDED: Sorry the old "Randy Normal Jeans" video has gone private. I wouldn't have even put this post up if I'd known that would happen. I've swapped in a poorly filmed live version, and I can't even find a good screen shot of Randy Normal. Not only am I off to a terrible start on the first day of the work week, I realize that at least 7 old posts are now wrecked.

July 20, 2014

"Why does Daisy get hers first?

The fledgling robin.




I was able to get close to this little bird for a long time to get these pictures. He didn't seem to know the usual flying away routine.

Prairie flower...


... and a bee:


"While many of the creators of the internet bemoan how low their creature has fallen, their anger is misdirected."

"The fault is not with that amorphous entity but, first of all, with the absence of robust technology policy on the left – a policy that can counter the pro-innovation, pro-disruption, pro-privatisation agenda of Silicon Valley."
In its absence, all these emerging political communities will operate with their wings clipped. Whether the next Occupy Wall Street would be able to occupy anything in a truly smart city remains to be seen: most likely, they would be out-censored and out-droned....

Algorithmic regulation, whatever its immediate benefits, will give us a political regime where technology corporations and government bureaucrats call all the shots.

"He’s the most seductive character that we’ve seen in American politics in our lifetime. He just has this unbelievably resilient and seductive personality."

Said David Axelrod... about Bill Clinton, to Maureen Dowd, who's examining why Bill Clinton is so terribly popular these days.

Dowd also has this strange pairing of paragraphs:
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg center poll showed that Clinton was, by a long shot, the most admired president of the last quarter-century. A new YouGov poll finds that among the last eight elected presidents, Clinton is regarded as the most intelligent and W. the least.

(Clinton and W. both should have been more aggressive in catching Osama. But certainly, if Clinton had been president post-9/11, there would have been no phony invasion of Iraq, and Katrina would have elicited more empathy.)
To that parenthetical, I say:

1. What phony military invasions would Clinton have chosen as appropriate after 9/11?  (I've listed Clinton's actual military ventures below the jump.)

2. Would he bite his lip? Would he wipe away a tear?

The sexual interplay of marriage is so complicated these days.

"Man Uses Spreadsheet to List All the Times Wife Turned Down Sex; Wife Posts It on Reddit."

You can see the spreadsheet at that link, but not at the original Reddit post, where the image is removed and the discussion is now locked. I haven't read the 600+ comments over there, and I'm sure there are many things one could say about this couple's problems and what might help, but I'm just going to observe that if he thinks she's sexy when she thinks she's "gross" and needs a shower, she could see things from his point of view for a few minutes and then take a shower. I know that sounds a bit efficiency-expert-y, but why prioritize your negative body image when he likes you the way you are?