September 13, 2014

At the dog park today.


I took that one! Meade was photographing the same dog, so we'll see what he got later.

At the door...


... it's the plants.

"This might be the worst week in the history of the NFL, with another despicable act by a privileged player taking Roger Goodell’s league to an unfathomable low."

Writes Gary Meyers in The Daily News.
Goodell can begin to make up for his mishandling of the [Ray] Rice case by immediately suspending [Adrian] Peterson for the season and then throwing him out of the league....

The personal conduct policy does not require a conviction in order for Goodell to impose discipline. One of the circumstances that allows Goodell to punish Peterson is "conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety and well-being of another person."...

Peterson reportedly called the tree branch a “switch,” and the [4-year-old] boy suffered bruises to his back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum and defensive wounds to his hands... According to police reports, the child told authorities that “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face.” He also said he had been hit with a belt and “there are lots of belts in Daddy’s closet.”

The radio station reported that in an interview with police, Peterson appeared to believe he did nothing wrong. “Anytime I spank my kids, I talk to them before, let them know what they did, and of course after,” he said. Reportedly, Peterson regretted his son did not cry because he then would have known the switch had done more damage than intended.
The boy did not cry, and the boy calls his father "Daddy Peterson." Peterson smiles in the mug shot and claims to have experienced the same form of discipline when he was a child. The term "switch" — which Meyers treats as odd and deceptive — is traditional:
Switches are most efficient (i.e., painful and durable) if made of a strong but flexible type of wood, such as hazel... or hickory; as the use of their names for disciplinary implements...

Making a switch involves cutting it from the stem and removing twigs or directly attached leaves. For optimal flexibility, it is cut fresh shortly before use, rather than keeping it for re-use over time. Some parents decide to make the cutting of a switch an additional form of punishment for a child, by requiring the disobedient child to cut his/her own switch.
Here's Richard Pryor: "Anyone here remember them switches?"

And this was once the norm in school:
One of the most common punishments was getting a whipping with a hickory switch or a birch rod. Sometimes the strapping was so severe that students went home with red marks across their legs....

Are you too young to remember the ‘good old days’ when “Readin’ and writing’ and ‘rithmetic were taught to the tune of the hickory stick?”
That last line quotes the 1907 song "School Days" ("Dear old golden rule days...").

I'm not recommending or excusing disciplining children with switches or sticks, just observing that it is an old tradition. As a culture, we have abandoned that tradition, and it's hard to believe that Peterson hadn't noticed, but that's his story. It's a story that will be harder to sell coming immediately in the aftermath of the Ray Rice incident, and commentators like Gary Meyers are demanding that Peterson's punishment include punishment for what Ray Rice did.

Isn't it ironic that outrage at the unfair punishment inflicted by Adrian Peterson distorts thinking about how to punish him? Emotional overpunishment — it's the problem, not the solution.

"Call it hipster or call it art, rogue taxidermy’s popularity in New York and London is making its way to other urban locations in the United States..."

"... where young and creative people have taken to reinventing the centuries-old process of removing and rearranging the skin of a dead animal."

The Washington Post trend-spots.

No mention of the Dead Pals of Sam Sanfillippo. Madison, Wisconsin was so far out ahead of this hipsterism it isn't even funny.

September 12, 2014

I'm a male, in my mid-30s.

According to "Can We Guess Who You Are in Only 20 Questions?"

"The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex."

"It seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment. We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone."

Blushing jowls...


... of Reggie. More Reggie at Puparazzo.

This is an open thread, within the concept of this blog, that is: a photograph and minimal content. So: express yourself.

"Does she think she’s Marilyn Monroe?"

Somebody said to somebody else about Bristol Palin that night in Anchorage when the police came.
Thompson, who is 56 years old... noticed two girls wearing sunglasses walking with an unusual amount of confidence around the yard. He only noticed them because of the sunglasses. That was odd, because it was at night.
This is just a test of your mind. Perhaps you thought:
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

Whatever... you are old. Marilyn Monroe is beyond old. The Palins-are-trash meme is old.

What hope is there? For the future... I mean.

"Turtles all the way down."

A Wikipedia entry. 

Found, just now, by me, after using the expression in the comments to the voter ID post, just below this one.

The "See also" section of the Wikipedia entry is a source of delight: "Cartesian theater, Cosmological argument, Discworld, God of the gaps, Kurma, Matryoshka doll, Münchhausen trilemma, Primum Mobile." I clicked on Münchhausen trilemma, because it was the least familiar. I'll just show you the illustration:

7th Circuit reinstates Wisconsin voter ID law.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

After blogging this morning about the impending oral argument — here — I listened to it — here — all the way to the end where the state asks the court to reinstate the law today, and I look and see that, in fact, has already happened.

The MJS reports that the court issued an order allowing Wisconsin to enforce the law for the upcoming elections. The court noted the way the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision "reduces the likelihood of irreparable injury, and...  changes the balance of equities and thus the propriety of federal injunctive relief, and... the state's probability of success on the merits."

The judges on the panel were former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes along with Frank Easterbrook and John Tinder. At the oral argument today, they were quite skeptical of the power of the district judge to reject the importance of preventing in-person voter fraud.

In the 2008 case upholding the Indiana voter ID law, Crawford, the U.S. Supreme Court had accepted that the state had an important interest in preventing fraud and in promoting public confidence. In the current case, the district judge, Lynn Adelman, held a trial and listened to an expert witness who opined that it's unlikely that anyone would engage in this kind of fraud. Those who are challenging the Wisconsin law want the appeals court to defer to his factfinding, but Sykes and Easterbrook resisted the notion that hearing opinion witnesses could enable a trial judge to supersede the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"With Sam I wanted to be the fun girl, the one who didn’t care if a guy ever spoke to her again after one night."

Nice foreshadowing, early on in one of those NYT "Modern Love" essays. Later: "... I was able to get beyond my fake fun-girl persona."

Did Stuart Taylor Jr. misidentify his unnamed source for his article impugning the motives of the John Doe prosecutor?

Here's yesterday's post, "John Doe prosecutor John Chisholm objects to what Stuart Taylor Jr. said about his anti-Walker vendetta." Taylor called his source a "longtime Chisholm subordinate" and "former staff prosecutor in Chisholm’s office":
Stuart Taylor quotes his unnamed source as saying "it was surprising how almost hyper-partisan [Chisholm] became." And:
Chisholm “had almost like an anti-Walker cabal of people in his office who were just fanatical about union activities and unionizing. And a lot of them went up and protested. They hung those blue fists on their office walls [to show solidarity with union protestors] … At the same time, if you had some opposing viewpoints that you wished to express, it was absolutely not allowed.”
Now, we have the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice purporting to reveal Taylor's source as a former police officer and current criminal defense attorney, who worked as an "unpaid special prosecutor for 5 1/2 months in the county office in 2011 [and] spent most of his time filling out grant applications for the community prosecution program."

Cool eyes hallucinating at the constitutional lawprofs of war.

"Obama attacked from the left" is a tag of mine, and I'm applying it to this NYT op-ed by Yale conlawprof Bruce Ackerman: "Obama’s Betrayal of the Constitution." Dateline — ominously! — Berlin. Excerpt:
President Obama’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris....
That's a bold beginning, but it's actually weakened by seeming to open up a discussion of the need for a formal declaration of war, something that the United States hasn't had since WWII. But Ackerman proceeds to discuss the "authorization for the use of military force," which Congress gave to President Bush 3 days after the 9/11 attacks. That vote was practically unanimous.

Let me take a little detour of my own here. The "no" vote in 2001 was from Barbara Lee, who was called a "traitor" and a "communist" at the time, but whose words are strikingly prescient today.

Wisconsin voter ID law is up for oral argument in the 7th Circuit today.

The Cap Times reports:
[The federal district judge Lynn] Adelman found some 300,000 people in Wisconsin do not have IDs and wrote the voter ID law would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes." He ruled there was no rational basis for the law because voter impersonation — the only kind of fraud the voter ID law would curb — is nonexistent or virtually nonexistent....

Friday's oral arguments come less than two months after the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the voter ID law in a pair of cases. One was decided 5-2; the other 4-3.
Later today, we should be able to get to audio of the argument here by hitting the "Today" button. The argument is the first of the morning, and the judges are Easterbrook, Sykes, and Tinder.

"Some developers are launching rental buildings with high-end culinary amenities, aimed at younger residents who grew up with the foodie movement."

The Wall Street Journal reports, and the part about Madison jumped out at me:
In Madison, Wis., Otto Gebhardt said he took a risk developing the Constellation, a 218-unit apartment building in a "non-glamorous" stretch just east of the state capitol and the University of Wisconsin. But he gambled on the area because the building is just a short walk from the city's restaurant hub and the Dane County Farmers' Market, one of the largest in the country. To burnish the building's foodie credentials, he turned down high-paying commercial tenants in lieu of a local gourmet coffee shop and a craft cocktail bar, he said. In late August, Madison's best-known chef, Tory Miller, opened a 2,700-square-foot Asian restaurant, Sujeo, in the building.
Have you gone to Sujeo yet? And here's the website for the Constellation, where you can get a look at what the "non-glamorous" side of Madison.

"Such respect for state courts is admirable, and 'federalism' is our middle name. But..."

"... the appellate judges are underestimating the harm this probe is doing to the rights of those who've been targeted. Judge Peterson quashed the prosecution's subpoenas way back in February because there was no evidence of a crime, but Milwaukee Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm has appealed and the case is sitting, and sitting, and sitting at the Wisconsin Supreme Court."
The Wall Street Journal editors push the 7th Circuit court to side with Eric O'Keefe and the Club for Growth in their pursuit of a federal court remedy against the John Doe prosecutors.

[T]he targets sit in limbo, forced to spend money on lawyers to defend themselves rather than exercising their First Amendment right to advocate for causes. The Wisconsin Club for Growth's political fundraising has been shut down and it hasn't run a single ad in this election cycle. This is precisely why the Club and director Eric O'Keefe sought relief in federal court.

September 11, 2014

"People on the receiving end of an act of kindness were about 10 percent more likely than the average person to do something nice themselves later in the day."

"On the other hand, those who granted that kindness were slightly more likely than average (about 3 percent) to commit a small act of rudeness or dismissiveness later in the same day — granting themselves 'moral license' to do so."

From a report in the NYT about a study of the "micromorality" of everyday life.

"Watch Each of the Last Four U.S. Presidents Announce That We're Bombing Iraq."

It's deja vu all over again.

A lawsuit against the Madison School Board for making contracts with the teachers' union in violation of Act 10.

Act 10 is Scott Walker's signature legislation that sparked the protests of 2011, he's up for reelection, and his Democratic opponent is Mary Burke, a member of the Madison School Board. The case was filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of David Blaska, the well-known local conservative politico.
Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel of WILL, said the suit is over the district continuing to honor the contracts it has with MTI that include provisions not allowed under Act 10 now that the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court. He pointed to provisions regarding employer contributions to health care premiums and fair-share payments as examples.

"Petrov’s shift ended at 8 A.M. Usually, he stuck around to have coffee with the morning staff..."

"... but on September 11, 2001, he decided to go straight home. He went down to the parking lot in the basement to get his car, and, as he was driving out, the first plane hit the building. He saw debris but nothing else and thought little of it until he got home and turned on the news. He called his friends at the restaurant. It was the last time he spoke with them."

From "Take Picture," in The New Yorker, about the photography of the Estonian immigrant Konstantin Petrov, who worked the night shift at Windows on the World.

"The defence claimed Pistorius sounds like a woman when he screams."

Said the judge, finding that the prosecution had not proved that the Olympian committed premeditated murder when he shot through a door and killed his girlfriend.
The defence says Pistorius screamed when he realised Steenkamp was not in the bedroom. That has not been contradicted, the judge says, and it "makes sense."

This is crucial, as the evidence that Steenkamp was screaming was a major plank of the prosecution’s case for premeditation.

"Like a volatile despot, I felt the surge of glee that comes from knowing you have the power to scare the crap out of complete strangers."

"Suddenly it hit me. By dressing like an insane person, I was getting something I’d never had before: some respect."

"Unemployed, Miserable Man Still Remembers Teacher Who First Made Him Fall In Love With Writing."

My post yesterday about Stephen King teaching English to high schoolers reminded a reader of that headline from The Onion.

"An aide to Eric Holder, who thought he was calling Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings’ office for help on leaking documents to selected reporters..."

"... accidentally spilled the beans of the latest IRS spin job because he called House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s office instead."

Psychopaths... True Believers... and Sunni Pragmatists....

The 3 faces of ISIS.
[M]aniacal killers with more taste for grindhouse than for Islamic jurisprudence... the Psychopaths...

True Believers... drawn to the caliph himself... out of an inalterable sense of authentic religious obligation....

Sunni Pragmatists... a desire to win security and well-being... [some are] ex-Baathists... [some] tribal sheikhs, who occupy the large, sparsely populated western Iraqi province of Anbar... During the U.S. occupation, the Anbar sheikhs enjoyed vast amounts of CIA money, as well as trucking contracts, and (under the Sons of Iraq program) government funds for their tribal militias. But since the Americans left Iraq and began dealing only with the Maliki government, they have been shut out of politics and oil revenue.

The Russian billionaire's $300,000,000 yacht.

If you have the money, what will you spend it on? For an insanely expensive and huge object, it's nowhere nearly as hideous as you'd expect. It's actually rather beautiful...

... but so terribly wrong, for some reason. Other than it's contribution to global warming, I don't see what.

John Doe prosecutor John Chisholm objects to what Stuart Taylor Jr. said about his anti-Walker vendetta.

Taylor quoted an unnamed source, a former prosecutor, who claims to have heard Chisholm speak of having a "personal duty to stop" Governor Scott Walker:
[The] longtime Chisholm subordinate [says that] Chisholm told him and others that Chisholm’s wife, Colleen, a teacher’s union shop steward at St. Francis high school, a public school near Milwaukee... "frequently cried when discussing the topic of the union disbanding and the effect it would have on the people involved … She took it personally."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Chisholm "denied... that his two secret probes ... were motivated by a political vendetta arising out of his wife's profession as a public school teacher." I'm not seeing the text of Chisholm's denial — only the newspaper's paraphrase — but to say that the probes weren't "motivated by a political vendetta" (the Sentinel's words) is not to deny that he spoke of his wife's frequent crying and his concern for her in a way that made listener's feel that he had a personal and political mission.

One could talk about one's wife's feelings, express great concern for her pain, and still believe that you were capable of excluding your personal sentiments from your professional decision-making. Rightly or wrongly, you could think you were doing the compartmentalizing that ethics require. Rightly or wrongly, your co-workers might judge you to be failing to compartmentalize. What was true?

Chisholm's lawyer gave the newspaper text that it prints in its (presumably) original form:  "The suggestion that all of those measures were taken in furtherance of John Chisholm's (or his wife's) personal agenda is scurrilous, desperate and just plain cheap." That's just a passionate — some might say desperate — statement of outrage that asserts nothing factual. And note the word "all." That leaves the possibility that some of those measures were part of a personal agenda. Lawyers. You have to watch out for them, and when you have the advantage of seeing their original texts, you have a decent chance to see where they are hedging. The lawyer wants you to notice the very interesting words "scurrilous, desperate and just plain cheap." Refocus on "all," and you'll see how little the lawyer is saying.

Stuart Taylor quotes his unnamed source as saying "it was surprising how almost hyper-partisan [Chisholm] became." And:
Chisholm “had almost like an anti-Walker cabal of people in his office who were just fanatical about union activities and unionizing. And a lot of them went up and protested. They hung those blue fists on their office walls [to show solidarity with union protestors] … At the same time, if you had some opposing viewpoints that you wished to express, it was absolutely not allowed.”
Taylor got a response from Chisholm's lawyer. He called it "baseless character assault" and "inaccurate in a number of critical ways" — without, Taylor says, specifying what the inaccuracies were. He won't say it was nothing but lies. The hedging is obvious: "inaccurate in a number of critical ways." Which ways?! Were there blue fist signs hanging on the walls? Did people in Chisholm's office participate in the protests? Was there a fanatical, anti-Walker atmosphere in the office? Which part is inaccurate? Was it anti-Walker but not quite "fanatical"? Did some but not "a lot" protest? Were blue fists hung up in the office but not by so many people that it's fair to say "They"? I don't know, and given the pressure to be specific, the generic objection implies that there is something there.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes "an attorney with Democratic ties who defended clients caught up in the Doe probe" who says that "he saw no evidence of political bias or union support in their dealings with Chisholm and his office" and that "he didn't observe signs with a blue fist." Would the unnamed defense lawyer even have been in the part of the office where the unnamed former prosecutor saw the blue fists? That the prosecutors behaved in a professional manner in their dealings with the defense lawyers doesn't say much about how they behaved behind the scenes, which is what Taylor's source purports to tell us about. If there really was an anti-Walker vendetta, the prosecutors would have known they had to hide it.

The Sentinel quotes another defense attorney, one who allows his name to be used, who also says he didn't see the union signs, but "he might have missed them." And "I never saw any blue fists but I saw a lot of red faces," which is funny, but I'm not sure what it means. Was he saying that the prosecutors seemed unprofessionally inflamed by a mission?

Reading these 2 articles this morning, I'm thinking that Taylor raised suspicions that Chisholm and his lawyers and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have not adequately refuted. I want to see a specific statement from Chisholm that goes into the details, something more than expressions of outrage and denials that could be based on Chisholm's belief that he compartmentalized his prosecutorial decisionmaking and his personal political beliefs and husbandly tenderness.

Were there blue fist signs in the office and other expressions of support for unions and antagonism to Walker? What was the extent of participation in the protests? Did Chisholm speak openly about his wife's feelings in the context of the case? Taylor's article created a strong motivation to respond on that level, and neither Chisholm nor his lawyer provided that response.

UPDATE: The MJS purports to reveal the source, discussed in a new post.

13 years later.

What to say about 9/11?

ADDED: Obama's speech last night pushes us to think of the day in terms of an intensely active, present fight, rather than to look back on the time when we were caught unaware, when we were overtaken by the will of others and stunned as we went about what seemed to be another normal day.

September 10, 2014

"We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are."

Thank you, George Bush. I mean, Barack Obama.

"You can go on the Tumblr of any young person in the world and see people marketing themselves."

"Everyone my age is like that now. We’re all hyperaware of how we’re being seen."

Said Lorde, the big pop star, who's only 17, asked about "self-constructing her persona."

What do you think it would be like growing up with artist parents who were both focusing on female genitalia?

"[Lena] Dunham’s mother is the photographer Laurie Simmons, her father the painter Carroll Dunham. Simmons, who’s known for photographing miniature scenes she stages with dollhouses and other objects, took a lot of nude self-portraits when she was in her early 20s. Carroll Dunham’s oeuvre includes sexually explicit renderings of voluptuous, often cartoonish women with genitals that look like mouths. Dunham has often said that despite having many hang-ups, nudity isn’t among them. And while it may be reductive to link that fact directly to her parents’ explorations of the female form, her bond with them sometimes appears to have the qualities of an artistic collaboration as well as being a source of safety and security."

From the NYT Magazine article "Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing." I found the slide show at the link — of family photos, showing her sister and her parents — quite fascinating. I know lots of my readers will feel compelled to inform me that they dislike Lena Dunham, so since I already know that about you, try to humor me by saying something else. What did you think of those family photos?, for example. And what do you think it would be like growing up with artist parents who were both focusing on female genitalia? If you turned into an artist after all of that, what kind of artist do you think you would be?



Over here!

"Every time we’ve gone to one of his shows, it was clear we were seeing the result of one little obsession that’s been gnawing away at Thom Browne’s brain for the last 6 months..."

"... whether it’s nuns, Victorian dolls, or in this case, a twisted garden party."
And it’s clear he wouldn’t have been able to rest until he explored every weird angle of the subject and got it out of his system so he can move onto the next obsession. You’re not going to see these exact clothes on the rack, certainly. But you’ll see far more wearable versions playing on these same themes.
Tom and Lorenzo explain Thom Browne, and, more generally, fashion shows. I'm linking to this because of that, because the stuff is quite hilarious, and because: men in shorts.

(And yes, I know somebody somewhere wrote an essay about men in shorts recently. Please stop emailing me about it. Nothing amusing or interesting was said, I declare with my 10 years of experience denouncing — and otherwise judging — the men in their short pants.)

Searching for "average."

The software... the blurriness... which — no matter what you think of Claude Monet — is not what "artistic" means.

Johnny Carson learns the word "bustier" from Madonna, who presents herself "as a virgin" to him.

And here's Boy George's first time:

Why won't the Queen say: Please, Scotland, stay with us. We love you, Scotland. And by "we," I mean "I."?

 She chooses to remain mum.

AND: Mother holds her tongue, but dad speaks, and says if you walk out that door, you are never coming back.

"You paint a pretty bleak picture of teachers as professional writers. Teaching is, after all, a 'consumptive profession,' as a friend of mine puts it..."

"... and it can be a real challenge to find the juice for our own creative endeavors after a day at school. Do you still feel that teaching full time while pursuing the writing life is a doomed proposition?" Jessica Lahey asks Stephen King, who used to teach high school.

King answers: "Many writers have to teach in order to put bread on the table. But I have no doubt teaching sucks away the creative juices and slows production. 'Doomed proposition' is too strong..."

Lahey follows up with: "If your writing had not panned out, do you think you would have continued teaching?" Answer: "Yes, but I would have gotten a degree in elementary ed.... Here’s the flat, sad truth: By the time they get to high school, a lot of these kids have already closed their minds to what we love...."

Mary Burke — Scott Walker's opponent in the gubernatorial election — puzzles some people and I think I've solved the puzzle.

Daniel Bice, at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, under the headline "Mary Burke scrutinized for 2-year hiatus, 'snowboarding sabbatical,'" begins by calling Burke's "work history" "pretty straightforward." But here's the career path that he thinks makes sense on the face of it:
Georgetown University. Harvard University. Trek Bicycle. State Department of Commerce. Madison School Board.
To me that doesn't make obvious sense. Why would a Harvard MBA, after serving in her family's business and proceeding to the position of Secretary of Commerce in the state government, have as her next position nothing more than a seat on a municipal school board?

Anyway, Bice ignores that mystery. It's a nonmystery. Nothing to see there. It's "straightforward."

The Dalai Lama wants to be the last Dalai Lama.

"We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama.... If a weak Dalai Lama comes along, then it will just disgrace the Dalai Lama."

If he is the Dalai Lama because he's the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama, wouldn't the next Dalai Lama be him? Far be it from me to interpret his religion's dogma, but it's interesting to speculate about what he has in mind, as he worries about a weak Dalai Lama coming next.

Is he concerned that he himself, in his next incarnation, will be different in some ways and less successful? Does he think he'll be around but those who are looking for him will find someone else? Does he doubt the precepts about reincarnation? Does he believe that he will be reincarnated and that he will be properly located but not want to live his next life in the same kind of leadership role? He says:
"I hope and pray that I may return to this world as long as sentient beings' suffering remains. I mean not in the same body, but with the same spirit and the same soul."
That isn't even saying that he believes in reincarnation, only that he wants it (for the sake of others). He's good at putting words together in a way that can be calmly absorbed by a wide range of people. As he himself said: he's "very popular."

Also quoted in the article is Ganden Thurman, Executive Director of Tibet House US, who analyzes the statement in political terms. He thinks the Dalai Lama really is trying to move the Tibetan people away from the ancient autocracy and into a modern approach to government by the people, which could improve their relations with China.

And let me quote Christopher Hitchens, from "God Is Not Great" p. 345:
The Dalai Lama... is entirely and easily recognizable to a secularist. In exactly the same way as a medieval princeling, he makes the claim not just that Tibet should be independent of Chinese hegemony — a “perfectly good” demand, if I may render it into everyday English — but that he himself is a hereditary king appointed by heaven itself. How convenient!
Christopher Hitchens died on December 15, 2011. What if there's a 2-year-old reincarnation of Hitchens toddling around somewhere on the face of the earth? Would we ever notice and, if we did, what would we do? What would we say to him (or her)? I think the lag time between death and rebirth is supposed to be up to 49 days, so if you have a child born between December 15, 2011 and February 2, 2012, you might be living with old Hitch, reborn. How would you like that? One thing seems obvious to me: You wouldn't want to know. You wouldn't even want to think about your child in those terms. And if you did, you wouldn't want to convey those thoughts to the child.

So it makes fine sense to me — from a religious/moral/philosophical perspective — for the Dalai Lama to say, essentially, please stop looking for me. Let me live my next life beginning, unburdened, as a child. But, as Thurman says and as Christopher Hitchens would have said, it's almost certainly political. (Or maybe Hitchens wouldn't have said "almost.")

"For me the colander represents freedom, our freedom of religion, and to whatever religion we prefer or lack of religion."

Says a woman named Shawna Hammond, who insisted on wearing a spaghetti strainer on her head for her driver's license photograph in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety requires driver’s license photos to present a clear view of an individual’s face. Religious headpieces aren’t allowed to cast shadows on the face, or display logos or text. Hammond admits that the tag agent gave her a “funny look” when she presented the spaghetti strainer, but ended up taking the photo after the woman confirmed she was a Pastafarian....
I've watched the video at the link (to the Huffington Post), and that's a bad paraphrase of what Hammond said. That makes the agent seem resistant and in need of a statement about religion before something can be worn on the head, but it sounded more like any headgear could be worn as long as it has no writing on it and doesn't obstruct the view of the face. The article makes it sound as though the agent was passing on the proposition that The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is indeed a religion. Perhaps Hammond was hoping she wouldn't be allowed to wear the colander, but she was, and it sounds as though the tag agent was just being nice and making small talk. Instead of some angst and maybe litigation about government preferences for religion, Hammond is left to make a blandly chirpy statement:
“I’m glad I was able to do it. It’s hard living as a non-religious person in Oklahoma. It felt good to be recognized that we can all coexist and have those equal rights,” she said.

September 9, 2014

Atheist churches.

I found out about atheist church today. I was listening to the oral argument in the 7th Circuit in a case called Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Jacob Lew, about a federal income tax provision that lets religious ministers exclude their housing allowance. The case was mainly about standing, with the government's lawyer arguing that only someone who sought and was denied the exclusion could challenge it. Somehow that took a detour at one point into whether there are atheist churches, and the government's lawyer said there were, but couldn't name any.

I found this video about an atheist church called The Sunday Assembly:

"Scott Brown won his primary."

"Now he wants to be the first multi-state senator in 135 years."

A walk in the woods.


Lots of snakeroot.

The 7th Circuit panel seemed quite skeptical of the federal court's place interfering with the John Doe investigation.

I've listened to the oral argument, here, and here's Patrick Marley's report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"I don't understand why the federal courts at the micro-level would be brought in," said Diane Wood, chief judge of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Later, she expressed uncertainty about taking "an invitation to butt into a state criminal proceeding."
I predict the prosecutors will win in this case, but mainly because the John Doe investigation can and should be shut down by the state court judge.

Are you excited by "The Digital Crown"?

It's the Apple Watch.

ADDED: Up until about 30 years ago, I wore a watch all the time, except when sleeping or bathing. I liked a nice clunky big-faced watch that was easy to see the time on, and I also had — still have — one of those classic Tiffany "tank" watches. Then I got my first computer, a Macintosh, in 1985, and I started taking the watch off and leaving it on my desk most of the day, because I was using the keyboard all the time, with my forearms and wrists resting on the desk in a way that never happened when I typed on a typewriter, which I rarely did. Before that first Macintosh, I wrote with a fountain pen on legal pads and in spiral notebooks and in bound blank books and sketchbooks. When the iPhone finally came out, I bought one right away because I wanted to be able to get onto the internet wherever I went and because it was aesthetically pleasing, but a side advantage was, I had a clock. I never needed to wear a watch at all. And I'd really already transitioned to using a cell phone as my pocket watch. I was liberated from the thing strapped on my wrist.

So now, why would I want something on my wrist again, something that I'll want to take off whenever I type, which I do much of the day? I don't see it. And it's certainly not so aesthetically pleasing that I'd feel cool flaunting it as an accessory.

It's for men, isn't it?

Remember pocket protectors?

Caption contest!


"The voice of Janay Rice... was heard Tuesday morning."

Says the Washington Post, reprinting written remarks put up on Janay Rice's Instagram account.
She wrote:
I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific [sic]. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!
Sorry, but we don't hear writing. We see it. And I don't accept "She wrote" as a fact-checked statement. And even if I knew she wrote it, I wouldn't know why she wrote it and how accurately it reflects her state of mind. But let's say it is accurate. She feels like a victim, a victim of everyone other than her husband, and she wants the people who see her as a victim of her husband to know that they are victimizing her.

How much pressure was put on her to marry this man and to speak well of him now? So much is at stake for him. What deal, if any, was made with her? I don't see how it is even possible — even she were standing at a microphone and taking questions — to "hear" the "voice of Janay Rice."

"It is nothing less than a self-destructive war," said Emperor Hirohito on July 31, 1941.

According to the newly released official history of the Japanese emperor, who reigned during WWII and died in 1989.
The 12,000-page history... contains little that will surprise historians... The most controversial aspect appears to be the fact that it took the Imperial Household Agency almost a quarter of a century to release its official history of Hirohito....

The agency... explained the delay by saying it took time to put together the 61-volume history from 3,152 documents and records, some of them never previously made public.

"The cost to taxpayers for defending the state against lawsuits over an investigation into Gov. Scott Walker and his allies has quickly escalated to more than $672,000."

"With lawyers headed to Chicago for arguments in an appeal Tuesday, the cost is certain to climb. Already, the bills are nearly double the $350,000 that had been recorded as of June."

Tuesday = today. So, stay tuned for reports on the oral argument.

"Over the years, Mr. Roberts has developed a series of strategies for getting his wife out of bed earlier."

"He'll yank the pillow out from under her head, set a cup of freshly-brewed coffee on her nightstand, yell from the kitchen to ask if she wants chocolate chips in her pancakes and even tell their 4-year-old, 'Mommy really wants to be tickled right now.'"

From "Couples on Different Sleep Schedules Can Expect Conflict—and Adapt/Some Couples May Decide to Sleep Apart, But Discuss It First and Make Time for Intimacy."

Responding to a mother who's upset to find that her 13-year-old daughter is reading sexually explicit fan fiction about a popular boy band....

... Slate's advice columnist Emily Yoffe begins:
I remember the thrilling times at my friend Paula's house when I was about your daughter's age when Paula would abscond with her father's Playboy as soon as it hit the mail slot, surgically remove it from its plain brown wrapper, and we would gleefully laugh over every page. You may have put parental controls on her reading, but I assume she has friends, and will simply swallow these unexpurgated tales of male bonding at their houses.
Emily Yoffe was born in 1955, by the way. I was born in 1951. Playboy was born in 1953. Longtime readers of the blog, close readers anyway, know, when I was growing up, in a middle class suburban home in Delaware, the latest issue of Playboy was always available on the coffee table in the living room, and anyone could pick it up and read it or look at the pictures. Nothing was said about it one way or the other. I'm sure I looked at the pictures before I could read, and when I could read, I puzzled over what the words referred to. I remember disappointment at the cartoons. These were cartoons, like in the newspaper, except the words weren't funny and someone was always naked.

Was it better to leave the magazine out where it could be perused than to leave those the girls to sneak around, slipping it out and back into its brown paper wrapper? Whatever the answer to that question, a parent today has a different problem, pornography and the internet being what they are. You can't choose the 1950s Althouse family method. That's a lost world.

Looking in Wikipedia to get Playboy's birthdate, I was interested in this quote from Hugh Hefner, from 1967:
Consider the girl we made popular: the Playmate of the Month. She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have. She is a young, healthy, simple girl — the girl next door . . . we are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy. The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water, and she is happy.
A lost world.

September 8, 2014

Now that the video — Ray Rice within the confines of an elevator slugging his fiancée and dragging her out the door — has been seen by the public...

... the Baltimore Ravens are kicking him off the team. This happened back in February, and we're asked to believe that the video we're seeing for the first time today wasn't seen by the NFL at the time when it doled out a mere 2-game suspension for Rice.
"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator," NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello said. "That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today."
Do you believe that?

Here's the video at TMZ, where the video first appeared.

UPDATE: The NYT gets at Aiello's likely half-truth:
A league spokesman said “no one in our office has seen it until today,” but he did not respond to inquiries about whether any of the league’s investigators who do not work in the office had previously seen the video.
Boldface mine.

"We uphold the ideal of free speech on reddit as much as possible not because we are legally bound to, but because..."

"... we believe that you - the user - has the right to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and that it is your responsibility to do so. When you know something is right, you should choose to do it. But as much as possible, we will not force you to do it. You choose what to post. You choose what to read. You choose what kind of subreddit to create and what kind of rules you will enforce. We will try not to interfere - not because we don’t care, but because we care that you make your choices between right and wrong. Virtuous behavior is only virtuous if it is not arrived at by compulsion. This is a central idea of the community we are trying to create."

So writes Reddit CEO Yishan Wong in a blog post titled "Every Man Is Responsible For His Own Soul," a propos of the naked-celebrity-photos-leak incident. Via the NYT, "Reddit and 4chan Begin to Button Up."

The application of free-speech principles outside of the context of government restrictions has been a long-term interest of mine on this blog. Here's that long email debate I had with Bob Wright on the subject, which followed on a voluble Bloggingheads debate we had, which I highlight in a post called "When did the left turn against free speech?" Watch Bob start yelling at me — "Ann, come on, you're a constitutional law authority..." — 20 seconds into this clip:

"Levenson’s demise was beginning even as he was one of Sterling’s most ardent critics...."

"Bruce Levenson announced that he would be selling his interest in the Atlanta Hawks... after a three-month investigation into a 2012 e-mail he had written to Hawks executives about the racial makeup of fans at games."
It’s a well-written, thoughtful e-mail — the opposite of the coarse remarks that cost Donald Sterling his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers — but it’s no less offensive....

“My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base,” Levenson wrote in the e-mail that the Hawks were attracting an “overwhelming black audience” and noted that “there are few fathers and sons at the games.” He went on to compare the cities. “Even [Washington], D.C., with its affluent black community never has more than 15 pct black audience.”
Thoughtful, written analysis should count more than emotional spoken remarks, of course (contrary to the view of the linked WaPo writer). And Levenson was writing in the context of conducting the business of basketball, while Sterling was having an argument about his personal relationship. So Levenson really deserves to be in more trouble. On the other hand, the lesson taught by the Levenson case will be much more difficult to follow in practice. Can the economics of the spectator-sports business be discussed in terms of the race of the fans?

"So yes, according to the Senate, Scott Brown isn’t a 'lobbyist.' But I submit to anyone else in the world..."

"... a former Senator joining a 'law and lobbying firm' to help with Wall St’s 'business and governmental affairs' is to make him a lobbyist. Because to anyone else in the world, when you sell your influence to affect 'business and governmental affairs,' you are a lobbyist."

Professor Lessig stands by his use of the word "lobbyist" in response to a stern demand from Scott Brown's campaign manager that he retract his statement. 

Woman pictures herself — literally — as the woman in various men's lives.

The photographs of Dita Pepe.

You can be who you want to be, and that can be determined by who your mate is. It's intriguing to imagine all the possible yous, based on all the possible others.

Is it narcissistic or the opposite of narcissistic: self-effacing? Who would you be if you were somewhere else, with somebody else? Maybe nothing at all like the you you are now. Could you slip inside someone else's milieu and fit in, become redefined by that other person, redefined and comfortable and natural?

If you found out that, at heart, the real you was a chameleon, would you seek out, in sequence, distinctly different partners in their natural environments, to fulfill your potential?

File under: "Misandry."

New York Magazine has only one tag — "misandry" — for its story — picking up on a NYT article"A Ladies-Only Cab Service Is Launching in NYC."

A commenter says....
You're allowed as a cab driver to discriminate on the basis of sex? 

How about a car service limited to whites only?  
... and gets jumped on: "You are such a loser" and "Is that a fight you feel the need to pick?"

The Times article — which has no comment section — is giddy with enthusiasm for the project:
New Yorkers can already choose from yellow taxis, green cabs or black livery cars. They can tap a smartphone app for a ride, or simply stick out an arm. They can pay with cash or credit.

Now there is one more option: a female driver....

“Perfect idea,” declared Gretchen Britt, 51, a school clerk in Manhattan who uses cabs and livery cars three to four times a month, always driven by men. “You feel safer and more comfortable with a woman.”

NYT correction: "David Gregory... displayed a gun magazine on the air, not a loaded gun."

An embarrassing "editing error" in the TV critic's review of Chuck Todd's debut as host of "Meet the Press." Imagine thinking Gregory had waved a loaded gun!

That review is linked at Drudge for the observation that "TODD TURNS ORANGE ON 'MEET'..."

But the critic, Alessandra Stanley, wasn't mean enough to say "orange." She said:
Even though he lost weight and gained a tan for his debut on Sunday, Mr. Todd doesn’t look like other anchors. For one thing, he has a goatee and speaks in a direct, conversational manner, without punchy diction or pomposity.
Stanley doesn't mention that Todd called attention to the new beardsiness of the show at one point, as he switched a second time from the Obama interview to a panel discussion:
... Joe and Nia are back. John Stanton of Buzzfeed is here, because we didn't have enough goatees on the desk for the first time as well....

"Here’s a headline that just sounds awesome: 'Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female.'"

"A lot of people have sent us this link these past two days. It raised my 'Really?' flag, so I got the original source paper...."

"Well, let’s say, if I was a bully, he is a pussy. How about that? I think Johnson Britt has been hanging around too much with the wine and cheese crowd."

Said Joe Freeman Britt, the 79-year-old retired prosecutor who won the death penalty against Henry McCollum and Leon Brown in 1983. The 2 men have now been freed, and seemingly everyone but the elder Britt assumes they were innocent.

Johnson Britt is the current district attorney in Robeson County, North Carolina. (Joe and Johnson share a last name because they have a common great-grandfather/great-great-grandfather.)

The elder Britt was commenting on what the younger Britt had said about him:
“He is a bully, and that’s the way he ran this office... People were afraid of him. Lawyers were afraid of him. They were intimidated by his tactics. And he didn’t mind doing it that way... You treat people with dignity, and you can get a whole lot more done that way than you can by trying to run over people. And that’s part of his legacy, that he ran over people.”
The elder Britt thinks the new D.A. "just threw up his hands and capitulated, and the judge didn’t have any choice but to do what he did." And: "No question about it, absolutely [McCollum and Brown] are guilty."

"Congratulations & best wishes to the Earl & Countess of Strathearn."

Tweeted the Scottish prime minister, Alex Salmond, using the Scottish titles for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), who've just announced the expected birth of their second child. Salmond is in the process of campaigning for Scotland's independence.

Chuck Todd extracts the news that President Obama is sleepy.

On yesterday's "Meet the Press," Chuck Todd, enjoying his first day as the new host, hosted President Obama and asked him a few questions, including "Are you exhausted?" (He laid the foundation for the question by saying that people are saying that "He looks exhausted.")

President Obama said:
I actually feel energized about the opportunities that we've got. 
I think that's another way to say that he is exhausted by all the work. Obviously, he can't concede that he's exhausted, so Todd has simply handed him an opportunity to talk back to the people who say he looks exhausted. Why bother? There's zero hope of getting a serious, truthful answer. I'm not blaming Obama here. I'm blaming Todd.

Obama continues:
There are days when I'm not getting enough sleep because we've got a lot on our plate. When you're president of the United States...
Blah blah blah... insert references to problems he's dealing with and run out more time.

Todd ends the interview with: "Well, I think I need to pre-book you for next week, because I've got about another 35 questions." Ugh! Take out the comfy questions that do nothing but force him to bullshit and run out the clock!

Todd thanks Obama, who says: "I enjoyed it." I'll bet he did. And: "Great to see you." I'll bet it is.

Scott Walker's Act 10 leads to a "teacher marketplace" in Wisconsin.

Molly Beck reports in the Wisconsin State Journal:
[D]istricts are looking at paying competitive salaries to attract and retain teachers licensed in high-demand fields like technology....

[Monona Grove School Board member] Peter Sobol said though the law was billed as providing budget relief for school districts and local government, it could end up being harder on budgets as districts develop compensation models that combine their desire to reward good teachers and the need to keep them....

Monona Grove is developing a career ladder to replace its current salary schedule. The new model is still being drafted by a committee of district administrators, school board members and teachers, but its aim will be to reward “increased responsibility, leadership, ‘stretch assignments’ and other contributions to the district and school missions,’ ” according to the district....

The Sun Prairie School District... allows the district’s hiring manager to make “market adjustments” in salaries for teachers in hard-to-find fields like technology or agriculture, and gives stipends for teachers who have additional degrees.
No discussion of gender in the article, but I'm wondering if this will work in favor of gender equity by attracting more men into K-12 teaching and then also whether it will result in what may be perceived as gender inequity as males will look like they're paid on average X% more than the females (because they specialized in technology and responded to those "ladders").

September 7, 2014

257 words into his 393-word answer to Chuck Todd's question about delaying the executive action on immigration, President Obama says "and I'm being honest now."

Now, eh? That was telling!

From the transcript of the "Meet the Press" interview:
CHUCK TODD: I'm going to go to immigration. You made a decision to delay any executive action until after the election. What do you tell the person that's going to get deported before the election that this decision was essentially made in your hopes of saving a Democratic Senate?
Of course, you tell a lie, a political lie that everyone knows is a lie. Notice that Todd doesn't bother to ask: Aren't you going to have to lie? He's just asking exactly how will Obama phrase the lie.
PRES. OBAMA: Well, that's not the reason. A couple of things that I want to say about immigration. Number one...
He's got the talking points worked out, of course. He begins with "Number one."
I have been consistent about why this is important. The country's going to be better off if we have an immigration system that works. That has strong border security, that has streamlined our legal immigration system. So the best and the brightest who want to stay here and invest her[e] and create jobs here can do so. That families can be unified, and that a system where the millions of people who are here in many cases for a decade or more, who have American kids, who are neighbors, who oftentimes are our friends, that they have a path to get legal by paying taxes, and getting above board, paying a fine, learning English if they have to.
That was a statement of why Obama believes in the policy that he's threatened to impose by executive order. So, between the lines, his answer to the question asked is: I will overwhelm them with a clear, strong statement about why my immigration policy is the right one.

Obama segues into what, I assume, is the second talking point, that the House GOP won't adopt the policy and that's why he wants to resort to executive action, which is still not admitting that delaying the executive action is political:
So the good news is, we have bipartisan support for that. We have a Senate bill that would accomplish that. The House Republicans refuse to do it. And what I said to them was, "If you do not act on something that's so common sense that you've got labor, business, evangelicals, law enforcement, you've got folks across the board supporting it, then I'm going to look for all the legal authorities I have to act." I want to make sure we get it right. I want to make sure, number one, that all the T's are crossed.
Chuck Todd hears his initial — "T" — and interrupts:
CHUCK TODD: Looks like politics. I mean, it looks like election-year politics.
I can see why Todd was getting impatient, but Obama had not even addressed the question of delay and what to tell the person who faces imminent deportation and thinks Obama is putting the Democrats' success in the elections first.
PRES. OBAMA: Not only do I want to make sure that the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted, but here's the other thing, Chuck, and I'm being honest now, about the politics of it. 
There's the tell. Chuck interrupted him, and he immediately responded to Chuck's calling bullshit. Yeah, I know it's bullshit, and I know you want more straightforwardness.

That doesn't mean Obama proceeds to give straightforwardness, of course, anymore than Richard Nixon meant he was about to be perfectly clear when he said — it was his catchphrase — "Now let me be perfectly clear."

Obama proceeds to say:
This problem with unaccompanied children that we saw a couple weeks ago, where you had from Central America a surge of kids who are showing up at the border, got a lot of attention. And a lot of Americans started thinking, "We've got this immigration crisis on our hands." And what I want to do is when I take executive action, I want to make sure that it's sustainable. I want to make sure tha...
Todd interrupts again:
CHUCK TODD: But the public's not behind you.

PRES. OBAMA: No, no, no, no.

CHUCK TODD: Are you concerned the public wouldn't support what you did?
Is the "politics of it" that Obama purported to be "honest" that he realized people wouldn't like the policy he was about to impose? That seems to be Todd's theory. Or was it that the "crisis" created by the "surge" was a reason to go more slowly and be careful? Which is what Obama seemed to be trying to say. I note that Obama's version might fly. The policy to be imposed by executive action was or might have been an impetus for the surge, so it's not a good time to solve the existing problem of long-term residents.
PRES. OBAMA: What I'm saying is that I'm going to act because it's the right thing for the country. But it's going to be more sustainable and more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we've done on unaccompanied children, and why it's necessary.
So he comes to rest on the idea that people need to understand why his policy is correct and why he needs to act on his own and without Congress. That is political in a mild sense: A political leader ought to build public support for his actions. It's not political in the harsh sense that his critics are using against him — which is that he's delaying only to avoid affecting the elections.

Obama danced elegantly enough in the space provided for him by Todd's question.

Todd performed a little abrasion to maintain his journalistic credibility, but he never got back to the hypothetical character who was supposed to fixate our empathy, the poor immigrant who is deported in the period of the delay. And Todd retreated to a question that essentially adopted Obama's explanation for the delay. "But the public's not behind you" and "Are you concerned the public wouldn't support what you did?" are helpful, friendly questions that allow Obama to say that the delay is about the need to build public support, which is perfectly acceptable politics.

So by the end of all this talky-talk, we're distantly alienated from the accusation that Obama is making official decisions to coordinate with the struggles of the Democratic Party candidates in the fall elections.

"I told them to arrest these people, and I expect the chief justice will give them capital punishment."

"And by God’s willingness, we will implement it immediately," the president had said.

That's in Afghanistan. In the United States, the death penalty for rape is unconstitutional, no matter how young the victim and how brutal the rape. And:
Oddly, the court did not try them on rape charges, apparently to spare their victims the ordeal of forensic examinations and embarrassing testimony; instead, their convictions were for adultery and armed robbery, both of which are capital offenses in Afghanistan. The seven all received the death penalty, two or three times in each case on different charges...

"I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents."

The Joan Rivers funeral.

Also, here's Joan, back in 2011, advising her daughter to carry on after her mother's death, which, Joan anticipated, might come from surgery:

Joan uses words older individuals going into surgery often use to comfort their loved ones: "I've had a great life...."

I'm interested in a movie about Margaret Keane, whose husband Walter Keane presented himself as the painter of those horrid "Big Eyes" children.

I love the subject, the director Tim Burton is someone I've followed over the years, and the stars Amy Adams and Christopher Waltz are fine actors. But I'm put off by the still the studio has presented to represent the film:

The woman is the real painter, the husband the phony. Yet there's so much wrong with this image. First, you don't paint with the canvas in a frame. Second, a painter's palette is held with a thumb through the hole. I'm seeing a woman awkwardly posing as an artist, looking back after a first attempt as if to say "Like this?"

Anyway, here's a June 1986 article in People magazine about Margaret's lawsuit against her ex-husband:

Romney in 2016?

"My time has come and gone."

UPDATE: I wrote this post based on the squib at Talking Points Memo (where the link goes), but now I've watched the Romney interview (on "Fox News Sunday"), and I need to say that Romney clearly leaves the door open to a 2016 run. Chris Wallace tries to close the door by inviting him to make a "Shermanesque" statement, that is, to say that he would not run if nominated and would not serve if elected. I need to get the exact response from the transcript, but he absolutely does not accept the invitation.

ADDED: Wikipedia has an entry for "Shermanesque statement."

UPDATE: Now, I've got the transcript. So let's take a close look:

"Joan would have loved how much she is loved. I think she didn’t quite know..."

"... and yet in a way she must have: You don’t have strangers light up at the sight of you without knowing you have done something. But we should try to honor and celebrate the virtues and gifts of people while they’re alive, and can see it."

Writes Peggy Noonan
in a column that has a lot of interesting details in it, such as the fact that Joan Rivers was a big Reagan fan and that one time Peggy and Joan crash landed in a Steve Forbes hot-air balloon in a field in France and the farmer toasted them for what the Americans did on D-Day and that Joan preferred mob-run Las Vegas because they kept the hotel lobbies clear of men in shorts.

NPR cogitates lamely about football songs, and I have to wonder whatever happened to heroes and what was Olive Oyl's game?

An emailer wrote to NPR's Stephen Thompson ("the good listener") about the dearth of football songs: "While drafting our fantasy football teams last week, my friends and I were trying to brainstorm great songs about football — and mostly coming up empty." And Stephen Thompson experienced some emptiness of his own:
For some reason, most of the football-specific songs I've encountered have succumbed to at least one of three temptations: to pledge allegiance to a specific team, to mirror the speed and brutality of the game, or to use football as a mechanism for marketing a product. All three approaches stand in the way of a unifying anthem, especially now that the modified "All My Rowdy Friends" — with its immortal chorus of, "Are you ready for some football?!" — has been largely removed from popular circulation.
Why is "All My Rowdy Friends" out of circulation? According to Thompson: "ESPN pulled "All My Rowdy Friends" off its football telecasts back in 2011, due to some controversial statements [Hank Williams Jr.] had just made in an interview." What awful thing did Williams say? At the link, I see that he used hyperbole in a comic analogy: Obama playing golf with John Boehner would be "like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu." We've forgotten it now, but at the time, we just couldn't let it go, apparently. And now football has no song.

In the old days, everyone knew the song that even without the lyrics meant football. It was the 1933 song "You Gotta Be a Football Hero." Here it is by Ben Bernie & All The Lads. And here it is in the Popeye cartoon:

The NPR writer, who has the sads about "the speed and brutality of the game" and can only gesture at The Terrible Hitler Analogy of 2011, lamely gravitates to football song to about watching football on television. He thinks he has a good idea: Replace "All My Rowdy Friends," with its TV-watching theme, with "It's Time To Party," but with new lyrics "It's Time for Football." In the old days, you were pressured to play football yourself:
You got to be a football hero
To get along with the beautiful girls
You got to be a touchdown-getter, you bet
If you want to get somebody to pet
You — and the "you" meant you young men — were told to play football, not watch it on TV, and it was assumed that you were eager to get to "pet" "beautiful girls." Apparently, these days, you're just excited that a football game is on television and you have some male friends who will watch TV with you. That's your "rowdy" "party," sitting around with men, and watching other men play the game is the end in itself. And you write letters to a man at NPR to help you think of a song and he can't even think of that song from the time when the men not only needed to play football, but playing football was not the end in itself — there was a further end, the petting of beautiful girls.

But I suppose these "rowdy" TV-watching males still get their beautiful girls, and these girls go far beyond petting. Yes, yes, I know some of the girls — we don't say "girls" anymore (except when referring to that TV show "Girls") — some of the young woman put earnest effort into decrying the way these young males today grasp after sex, the speed and brutality of the game.

What happened to all the heroes? What happened to the demand for a hero? Are we even capable anymore of understanding a Popeye cartoon? Who the hell was Olive Oyl and why was she able to command heroics? It is a mystery long forgotten.