October 18, 2014

Saturday, mid-October.

A walk in the woods:


Ducks, observed from a footbridge:


Stopping for linner:


"For many, minibars have a forbidden quality to them. So seductive. So taboo. So expensive."

"I’m sometimes fearful if I even open the mini-fridge door I’ll get slapped with a fee. That’s why, when I read the Loews Regency now offers guests the opportunity to 'Milk the Minibar' and eat and drink everything in it, I knew I had to exorcise my demons. I had to consume an entire goddamn minibar."

What that was like.

"In your preparation for your examinations, if you don't do your revision properly, you know what will happen?"

"Ever notice how drunk the models for J. Crew are?"

A perfectly pitched critique.

I wish I could have figured out how to be this funny and pithy about the maddening lassitude of catalog models. It's not just J. Crew, but just about every women's fashion catalog I get in the mail. The models all look like they can barely stand up, like they're about to collapse or need to lean on something. Their mouths droop open and their eyes are glassy. They're the oppose of fierce (which is another fashion cliché, just not the one used in catalogs). Why does blithering weakness sell clothing?

Anyway, bundling this criticism into the simple notion that the models are drunk keeps it light and hilarious. I salute you Drunk J. Crew. (Via Daily Mail.)

Lakeside orange.



I took these 2 photos on Thursday, at just about the same place along Lake Mendota where I took this picture of what was "my favorite tree" back on September 30. The once-red "favorite tree" is now bare and everything that was green on September 30th had gone brilliant yellow-orange.

The "sniff parlor."

In Tokyo.

How Judge Randa got the new anti-John-Doe investigation case.

The Journal Sentinel explains:
Normally, federal judges are randomly assigned to cases. But when [Citizens for Responsible Government Advocates] filed its lawsuit, it said its case was related to two others that Randa already had. Doing that meant the case automatically went to Randa to determine if it should stay with him.

One of the cases that CRG contended was linked to its lawsuit was a challenge to an investigation of Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and groups allied with him. However, CRG filed its suit only after an appeals court had ruled that earlier case be dismissed.

"This was artful to the point of manipulative," said Jeremy Levinson, a Democratic attorney who specializes in campaign finance laws.

CRG attorney Andrew Grossman said in an email to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the two cases "involve some common legal issues and factual background. We followed the court's rules in disclosing related litigation, and any objection to that is ill-informed grousing."....

A Colorado town has a referendum on whether to end the breed-specific dog ban.

Is this the beginning of the end of anti-pitbullism?

If "yes means yes," the nonhuman animal never says yes.

So don't swim with dolphins and tickle their bellies. And quit petting those beasts you call "pets."

I want to connect the previous post about the dolphins to the post from a few days ago about emotional support animals. The latter post links to a New Yorker article that is very critical of people who weasel — I know, not fair to weasels — around rules against animals in restaurants, shops, museums, and public transport by presenting their pets as "emotional support animals." That's mostly about what an imposition on other human beings this is. But consider the animals themselves.

The author, Patricia Marx, says "No animals were harmed during the writing of this article," but she took a turkey into a crowded NYC deli, where he "lay immobile, on his side with his feet splayed as if he’d conked out on the sofa," and then his "head had turned purple," which signaled to his handlers that he was "too stressed" and needed to leave. And the alpaca in the museum began "intently humming a distress signal" and had to leave.

Nonhuman animals cannot talk. We look into their faces and see enough human likeness to stir up our thoughts of what they might be saying, and we tend to flatter ourselves and serve our own interests by imagining them projecting the thoughts we want them to have. There's a lot of talk these days about establishing a "yes means yes" standard for intelligent, verbal human adults on college campuses. The concern is that free citizens might go along with sexual activities and fail to convey their unwillingness in spoken words. Sexual intercourse, in this view, is so intimately and deeply invasive on the body that a spoken "yes" is a necessary step.

You might agree or disagree about the importance of hearing the affirmative spoken message of permission to become intimate with another human being's body, but I want to talk about what we do to the bodies of our pets who have no capacity to say "yes" or "no" and who are trapped in our space and cannot walk away but must submit to our self-serving petting.

Yes, the animal you're confining at home or controlling outdoors may seem to accept or enjoy your physical intrusions, but think how you would adapt if you were completely controlled and dependent like that. Then complicate that thought with the reality that as a human being, you have no way to know how the nonhuman mind works, what fears and confusion and gnawing needs roil inside that head with the eyes that give you the look that makes you feel you should be kind and give food.

"That evening, this woman was tickling Dusty’s tummy and it just looked so inviting...."

"Just after I got into the water, Dusty left the woman she was with and went ballistic – I found out afterwards that she’s very territorial when she is with somebody. Her tail was flapping wildly, and at first I thought it was a display, but then something twigged: maybe she’s angry. I knew I had to get out of the water, so I swam towards the pier, but within microseconds Dusty had ploughed into me with her snout. It was very powerful and painful, and the speed was amazing. I went hurtling forwards....."

People, can you just leave the dolphins alone? They don't want to swim with you, despite the "expression" you see on their faces. The love you think you are experiencing is nothing more than self-love. Stay home, save your money, and stare in a mirror until you get a deep, accurate assessment of how true your self-love is. Is there a fixed smile on your face? I hope not, but if there is, it's not because you share the spirit of the dolphin. The dolphin is "smiling" because nature played a dirty trick on him, drawing idiot humans into his domain. Get out. Leave the dolphin alone.

ADDED: I just read the last paragraph of the linked article:
After the man pulled me out of the water, Dusty swam away, but then she came back and was bobbing vertically next to me, looking at me. We locked eyes and I felt there was complete remorse in her. She was a totally different dolphin; the anger had gone. The people on the pier were in awe.
The people on the pier were fools. You felt there was complete remorse. Sheer nonsense. She was a totally different dolphin. But you were the same fool you have always been.

Tell me again about how people travel to broaden their minds and gain insight and understanding. And this is a travel story. That dolphin Dusty "starred in an Irish tourist board ad campaign." Oh, here is is:

Yeah, go to Ireland for the dolphins. And toss your tiny daughter in the water with a powerful, unpredictable beast. Because Ireland really wants a huge pile of your money, and what says Ireland more than dolphins? Good lord! Take your kids to a beach closer to home if you must inject excitement into their lives. I continue to believe that a soothing, calm environment is best for children. Give them a place to discover their own ways of having fun. That pleasant room where the girl in the ad sits in a chair and imagines where she could be is exactly where she belongs so she can imagine her own things, not some damned list dreamed up by the Irish tourist board.

"The Supreme Court in a pre-dawn ruling Saturday said that Texas could proceed with its strict voter ID law in next month’s election..."

"... despite a lower court’s ruling that it was unconstitutional."
The court gave no reasoning for its decision, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
This is the opposite of what the Court did a week and a half ago in the Wisconsin case, where Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissented. So the middle 3 Justices — Roberts, Kennedy, and Breyer — see some distinction. In both cases, the district court had issued a permanent injunction after a trial, and the Court of Appeals had stayed the injunction.

Perhaps the difference is that the Wisconsin ID requirement was completely new, but Texas only tightened up an ID requirement it already had. The Ginsburg opinionPDF — observes that "there is little risk that the District Court’s injunction will in fact disrupt Texas’ electoral processes," because "Texas need only reinstate the voter identification procedures it employed for ten years (from 2003 to 2013) and in five federal general elections."

UPDATE: Ginsburg has corrected an error in her opinion:
The dissent... listed a variety of photo ID forms not accepted for purposes of voting under the Texas law. Among those listed in the Ginsburg dissent as unacceptable was a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs photo ID.

Three days after the opinion was released, professor Richard Hasen of the University of California, Irvine said on his election law blog that the state does in fact accept the Veterans Affairs IDs. Upon confirmation of that fact by the Texas secretary of state's office, Ginsburg amended her opinion.

October 17, 2014

On our street today, steps from home.


The sky was relentlessly gray, but the oaks were layers of lusciousness.

"Are you under 50 years old, willing to make daily trips to Medford, and have regular bowel movements?"

"You, my friend, could be earning $40 a day—just for pooping."

Another Scott Walker/Mary Burke debate — BUMPED!

Tonight, at 7 Central, streaming here. Get ready. You have 3 hours and 20 minutes to get into the mood for a Wisconsin debate.

ADDED: I've moved this post up to the top of the blog, so you can watch and comment. I'm not going to live-blog, because that would be boring. For me. I'm going to lock in and watch straight through, maybe take some handwritten notes, and say whatever I have to say, about an hour from now.

POST-DEBATE UPDATE: A numbered list of observations, in no significant order:

1. The set is atrocious and endlessly distracting, with curving red-white-and-blue fabric behind them  that Meade said made them look like they were about to take off in hot-air balloons. And what was meant to evoke the American flag — as the minutes wore on — looked to me more like Confederate flags. The lecterns were strangely stumpy, making the candidates look absurdly short.

2. When the debate ended, the candidates walked away, and we could see that Mary Burke was wearing delicate high heels. These had made the candidates appear to be the same height, but poor Mary was stuck standing in those things for an hour, during which we never saw her feet. After the debate, she stalked off quickly, and I guessed it was to get out of those shoes. Scott Walker lingered and hung out with the panelists, remaining on camera, looking personable for a couple minutes while the jaunty dah-dah-DAH debate music played. We were a little giddy here at Meadhouse by then, and Meade was singing along with the pointless music.

3. My strongest overall observation is that Walker painted an optimistic, energetic picture, and Burke harped on negativity and kept telling us that what Walker has done is not good enough and we need to do better. This not-good-enough-need-to-do-better theme was repeated so often that we began to feel like kids getting chewed out by a teacher. Now, clearly, Burke is the one who must say a change is needed, but I don't think she gave change that lilt and lift it needs to not sound like scolding, and that left us primed to hear the good news from Walker. And Burke continually attacked Walker, telling him he hadn't done enough. He didn't return the attacks. He just launched into his version of how well things were going and how we need to keep up the good work.

4. The strongest distinction between the two came on drinking and driving. Wisconsin lets you off with just a ticket the first time you get caught, and Walker — while expressing his concern about drunk driving and his interest in punishing repeat offenders — made it clear that he'd keep all the Wisconsinites who haven't yet been caught in the golden zone of immunity where we only need to fear getting a ticket the first time we are stopped. If you want a misdemeanor charge for those who get stopped the first time, that's Mary Burke's position. I wouldn't vote for governor on this point alone, but Walker sent out the signal of leniency to the many, many Wisconsinites who've been going out drinking and making it home okay without incident.

5. On the question of a casino in Kenosha, the candidates were invited to open up about their moral feelings about gaming. Neither did.

6. There was one "fun" question, asking them what they'd do if they had to go a day without campaigning and would surely take to their preferred 2-wheeler, Burke on a Trek bike and Walker on a Harley. Where, exactly, would they go, and who would they go with? Walker gave the precise route, complete with route numbers and turns, and said he'd go with his usual "buddies" who motorcycle with him. Burke seemed nervous and said "um" a few times as she claimed she'd go back to her hometown and spend time with members of her family. Meade was heckling, saying that everyone knows that Mary Burke isn't much of a cyclist. Ah, but what was she supposed to do? The questioner imposed the assumption that if she had time off, of course, she'd bicycle. It would be awkward to refute that! Just because my family is in the bicycle business doesn't mean that when I get some time, what I want to do is bike. If her family were in the dairy business, would they assume that in her spare time, what she likes to do is drink milk?

7. They never talked about ebola! What the hell?!!

8. Some weird thing happened with the clock when Walker was answering his first question, suddenly lopping off a minute (or something). He had to spend time talking about that clock business. So: clockgate. Think about it.

October Orange.

Just now, in the neighborhood:




"This may be the worst race-baiting campaign ad since Willie Horton."

Says Salon's Luke Brinker about this new ad from the National Republican Campaign Committee:

Here's the famous Willie Horton ad for comparison:

Here's a New Yorker article from 2 years ago about Larry McCarthy, the man who created the Willie Horton ad. Excerpt:
McCarthy knew that showing Horton’s menacing face would make voters feel viscerally that Dukakis was soft on crime. Critics said that the ad stoked racial fears, presenting a little-known black man as an icon of American violence....

McCarthy has rarely spoken publicly about the ad. But in a sworn deposition, given in 1991 to the Federal Election Commission, he theorized that there were two subjects guaranteed to move voters: the economy and crime. “People, they take crime real seriously,” he explained. He later told a reporter that when he first saw Horton’s mug shot he said to himself, “God, this guy’s ugly.” He added, “This is every suburban mother’s greatest fear.”....

According to Floyd Brown, the conservative operative who hired McCarthy in 1988, the Horton ad “was incredibly effective.” Brown maintains that Dukakis’s lead over George H. W. Bush collapsed after the ad began airing. Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster and strategist who also worked on the Horton ad, argues that McCarthy was relatively restrained — there were no photographs of Horton’s victims, for example. And Brown says that the ad became a scapegoat after Dukakis lost. Both men use the word “brilliant” to describe McCarthy. “Larry is not just one of the best ad-makers these days,” Brown says. “He’s one of the best advertising minds this century. You go into a studio with Larry, and you’re watching art. It’s beautiful.”

Some French people object to that big sculpture in the Place Vendome...

... designed by an American and inspired by — they look so much alike — a Christmas tree and a sex toy.

The artist, Paul McCarthy, said:
« Bien sûr que cette œuvre est polémique, qu’elle joue sur l’ambiguïté entre un arbre de Noël et un plug : ce n’est ni une surprise ni un secret, poursuit-elle. Mais il n’y a aucune offense au public, et suffisamment d’ambiguïté pour ne pas troubler les enfants. Cette œuvre a d’ailleurs reçu toutes les autorisations nécessaires : de la Préfecture de police, de la Mairie de Paris et du ministère de la culture, en lien avec le Comité Vendôme, qui regroupe les commerçants de la place.. A quoi sert l’art si ce n’est de troubler, de poser des questions, de révéler des failles dans la société ? »

"Right off the bat, things went sour when they pulled up to the border crossing in Winkler, in the province of Manitoba, about 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon..."

"A guard scolded Patti for taking photos of the crossing with her cellphone, and at Lowell for not taking off his sunglasses...."

Wisconsin couple crossing over into Canada on a whim learns quite a lot about how the Canadians feel about handguns.

Six Degrees of Catahoula Cur.


It's Bacon, photographed by Meade.

Biden tested positive for cocaine.

Something was making the Vice President laugh inanely at the debate 2 years ago. I never could figure that out. But he's probably not too happy right now as another Biden — his son Hunter — is in the news for testing positive for cocaine and getting booted out of the Navy Reserve.

"What I find most disturbing is the implicit assumption in this article that women should have children."

"Even though the article is against egg freezing as a general practice, it makes no mention of the societal demand that women have children in the first place. Maybe if these women who decide to have children at 45 felt comfortable with their own desire to NOT have children, the practice would slowly become less popular."

A popular comment at a NYT op-ed titled "Don’t Depend on Those Frozen Eggs."

The "practice" that the commenter would like to see "slowly become less popular" is egg freezing, not — as one could easily misread — having children.

But the misreading is interesting, because the truth slips out. People tend to do what they want to do, and I think that egg-freezing, though promoted as a way to prolong life's window of fertility, is secretly a way to fulfill the desire not to have children at all, as the woman buys ease in the passage of time.

The longer she goes without finding a place in her life for a child, the clearer the picture becomes. She really doesn't want that child. And with that clarity, she finally sees her true and free choice, and she has been spared the old-fashioned anguish of the years of hearing the "ticking biological clock" that had, in the past, pressured women into having a baby as a bulwark against the regret that crystallizes after age wreaks infertility.

Why should Ron Klain be the Ebola czar?

Seriously, what are the qualifications for this job... and what exactly does the job consist of?
Klain is highly regarded at the White House as a good manager with excellent relationships both in the administration and on Capitol Hill. His supervision of the allocation of funds in the stimulus act -- at the time and incredible and complicated government undertaking -- is respected in Washington. He does not have any extensive background in health care but the job is regarded as a managerial challenge...

A former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and also to then-Vice President Al Gore, Klain is currently President of Case Holdings and General Counsel of Revolution, an investment group. He has clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and headed up Gore's effort during the 2000 Florida recount and was portrayed in the HBO movie Recount by Kevin Spacey.
Oh, well, then, that makes perfect sense. Which Supreme Court Justice did he clerk for? And why not hire Kevin Spacey? I'm sure he'd do a convincing job of assuring us that everything is under control. He was excellent delivering lines like "The plural of 'chad' is 'chad'?" and Chad — coincidence?! — is a country in Africa.

And by the way, I thought we'd stopped using the job title "czar." We're back to the retrograde messaging implicit in the title of a long-ago Russian autocrat?

ADDED: It seems that Klain is called a "czar" because Republicans were calling out for a "czar." From The Daily Kos a few days ago:
Thus McCain, as usual, follows in the footsteps of the House crazy person caucus, but now the Republicans demand that Obama institute an "Ebola czar" even after those selfsame Republicans were muttering about abuse of power and tyranny and impeachment over the "czars" the gubbermint already had has been catapulted into the Sunday show orbits of Serious Debate, by mere virtue of Sunday John saying it. We don't have enough czars. We demand more czars! Why isn't Obama leading by appointing czars?
And now, here comes Obama, leading by following, appointing a czar. Or a guy to do whatever it is Ron Klain is good at doing who will be titled "czar." What the hell does a czar do? We'll find out when we see what Klain does. He's certainly good for something, like the way he allocated the funds of the stimulus act. We'll find out how that kind of expertise and orientation plays out in the ebola context.

AND:  The (unlinkable) OED defines "czar" only as: 1. "The title of the autocrat or emperor of Russia; historically, borne also by Serbian rulers of the 14th c." and 2. "transf. A person having great authority or absolute power; a tyrant, 'boss.'’" But there is a "Draft addition," lingering in "draft" status since 2001: "orig. U.S. A person appointed by a government to recommend and coordinate policy in a particular area and to oversee its implementation." The oldest use is, interestingly enough, beer czar:
1933   S. Walker Night Club Era 167   There are several versions of why Mulrooney quit the job to become the state beer 'Czar.'
The most prominent use of "czar" — where the term really took off — was "Drug Czar," applied to Bill Bennett in early 1989, as George H.W. Bush was about to take over the presidency. But it wasn't Bush the Elder who created the position. Congress did that, over the objections of President Reagan. As for the choice of Bennett, the biggest critic, amusingly enough, was Joe Biden:
''What concerns me most is his total lack of background in law enforcement,'' said Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., a Delaware Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss says the Kevin we need to assure us that everything is under control, that all is well, is not Kevin Spacey but Kevin Bacon:

How racist is Newsweek's "Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola's Back Door to America"?

That Newsweek cover story is from last August, and so is this criticism of it, "The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place," which I saw this morning (I think) on the "Most Read" list in the sidebar at The Washington Post.

I see that the Newsweek cover also has the words "Post-Post Racial America" (referring to a different article) and the choice of a chimpanzee rather than a fruit bat (the creature most closely associated with the current outbreak), so Newsweek does seem to be trying to insinuate itself into the magazine-buyer's subconscious. Also: "back door." What's your first association? I asked Meade, and his was the same as mine, and I asked Google too, and it agreed, putting this as the top hit. The ape threatens rape... anal rape... fatal anal rape.

Now, let's read The Washington Post article. It's written by 2 assistant professors Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne, who study, respectively, "African politics, conflict, and development" and "identity, public opinion, political behavior, and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries." They review the history of depicting "Africans as hyper-sexualized savages" and they define and deploy the term "othering":
Newsweek’s use of a chimpanzee to represent a scientifically invalid story about an African disease is a classic case of othering. It suggests that African immigrants are to be feared, and that apes — and African immigrants who eat them — could bring a deadly disease to the pristine shores of the United States of America....

Newsweek’s piece is in the worst tradition of what journalist Howard French calls “Ooga-Booga” journalism, the practice of writing in exoticizing and dehumanizing ways about Africa....

The long history of associating immigrants and disease in America and the problematic impact that has on attitudes toward immigrants should make us sensitive to the impact of “othering” African immigrants to the United States in the midst of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Scare-mongering about infinitesimally small risks in one context serves no purpose to the greater good of trying to curb disease transmission and relieve people’s suffering in another context.

"This class is sh*tty."

"William O’Reilly Debated Jon Stewart On One Topic — White Privilege. Guess who won?"

Asked The Crack Emcee in the comments to yesterday's race-consciousness post, pointing to a "Daily Show" interview from a couple days ago, which I happened to have already watched. (I watched the show version. He links to the extended version, which I haven't seen.)

I answered (in the comments just now):
Yeah, I watched that yesterday. Thanks for reminding me about that. I thought Stewart acted like a jackass bully and O'Reilly kept his cool. Stewart had his whole audience braying their pleasure at the bullying of O'Reilly. To this home-viewer, O'Reilly won. He won by keeping his dignity, acknowledging all the factual and fair points about race in history, but rejecting the ideological term "white privilege."
As I just said, I did not watch the extended version. I'm going on what the show's people decided would be most amusing to their viewers, which I assume is what presents Jon Stewart as the winner and Bill O'Reilly as the bully who gets his comeuppance, overcome by the sheer force of superior intelligence, information, and virtue.

It's interesting to hear that the entire extended interview stays with the white-privilege topic, because that means:

1. They had a lot of raw footage from which to select the clips that fit the narrative they thought would be so gratifying to their audience of people who believe in their own superior intelligence, information, and virtue.

2. They never got around to the subject of the book O'Reilly had come on the show to pitch — "Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General" — another form of disrespect, which I suspect was deployed to antagonize O'Reilly and increase the likelihood that he'd say something stupid about race.

So, again: O'Reilly won. But what is this candy-ass bullshit about who won and lost a television interview? The name Patton has been invoked. Let's get some proportion and perspective about what winning means.

October 16, 2014

"Let's face it: Without rules..."

"... there's chaos."

"Here Are The Most Conservative And Liberal Names In America."

Doyle and Natasha.

And here's the tool to find out how conservative or liberal your name is. My name is a bit liberal. Meade's is superconservative if, in fact, that were his first name, which it's not. His first name tests out as, like mine, somewhat liberal.

"It looks like a puppet."

That Boxer named McQueen.

Further update, late afternoon lawnscape.



Looking west into the sunset:

Lawnscape update.


"Ebola now functions in popular discourse as a not-so-subtle, almost completely rhetorical stand-in for any combination of 'African-ness,' 'blackness,' 'foreign-ness' and 'infestation'..."

"... a nebulous but powerful threat, poised to ruin the perceived purity of western borders and bodies. Dead African bodies are the nameless placeholders for (unwarranted, racist) 'panic,' a conversation topic too heavy for the dinner table yet light enough for supermarket aisles."

ADDED: Whether you agree with the quoted analysis or not, you need to be aware that this is how some people are processing the news. The issue is swirling within our politics, and this is a separate phenomenon from the disease itself.

Time to read/reread the 1978 Susan Sontag essay "Disease as Political Metaphor."
In the sense of an infection that corrupts morally and debilitates physically, syphilis was to become a standard trope in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century anti-Semitic polemics. In 1933 Wilhelm Reich argued that “the irrational fear of syphilis was one of the major sources of National Socialism’s political views and its anti-Semitism.” But although he perceived sexual and political phobias being projected onto a disease in the grisly harping on syphilis in Mein Kampf, it never occurred to Reich how much was being projected in his own persistent use of cancer as a metaphor for the ills of the modern era.
You need to pay to get farther at that link. Here's a link for buying the book with that and more. (I've just bought it myself.)

"Over the past year, we have arrived at an odd cultural and lexicographical moment: To dress 'normal' is the height of chic, yet to call someone 'basic' is the chicest put-down..."

"Basic, according to the BuzzFeed quizzes and CollegeHumor videos that wrested the term from the hip-hop world and brought it into the realm of white-girl-on-white-girl insults, means someone who owns things like Uggs and North Face and leggings. She likes yogurt and fears carbs (there is an exception for brunch), and loves her friends, unless and until she secretly hates them. She finds peplum flattering and long (or at least shoulder-grazing) hair reliably attractive. She exercises in various non-bulk-building ways, some of which have inspired her to purchase special socks for the experience. She bought the Us Weekly with Lauren Conrad’s wedding on the cover. She Pins. She runs her gel-manicured hands up and down the spine of female-centric popular culture of the last 15 years, and is satisfied with what she feels. She doesn’t, apparently, long for more."

From "What Do You Really Mean When You Say 'Basic Bitch'?," in New York Magazine.

"Within an hour, the deputies realized just how common the sharing of nude pictures was at the school."

"'The boys kept telling us, "It’s nothing unusual. It happens all the time,"' Lowe recalls. Every time someone they were interviewing mentioned another kid who might have naked pictures on his or her phone, they had to call that kid in for an interview. After just a couple of days, the deputies had filled multiple evidence bins with phones, and they couldn’t see an end to it. Fears of a cabal got replaced by a more mundane concern: what to do with 'hundreds of damned phones. I told the deputies, "We got to draw the line somewhere or we’re going to end up talking to every teenager in the damned county!"'... Most of the girls... had sent a picture to their boyfriend, or to someone they wanted to be their boyfriend, and then he had sent it on to others. For the most part, they were embarrassed but not devastated, Lowe said. They felt betrayed, but few seemed all that surprised that their photos had been passed around. What seemed to mortify them most was having to talk about what they’d done with a 'police officer outside their age group.'... A handful of senior girls became indignant during the course of the interview. 'This is my life and my body and I can do whatever I want with it,' or, 'I don’t see any problem with it. I’m proud of my body'.... In the first couple of weeks of the investigation, Lowe’s characterization of the girls on Instagram morphed from 'victims' to 'I guess I’ll call them victims' to 'they just fell into this category where they victimized themselves.'"

From Hanna Rosin's "Why Kids Sext."

"I think the past is going to make a great comeback."

Things heard at Meadhouse.

Meade said it, in the midst of a conversational context which I will provide later. For now, over to you.

Domestic surveillance...

... of the intra-household kind.

"You Can Give — But Can’t Get — Ebola on a Bus."

A paraphrase of something CDC director Tom Frieden said yesterday.

As of 1978, there were only 3 presidential candidates — known to Theodore White — who had not succumbed to sexual adventures with women who were not their wives.

"In his 1978 memoir, Theodore White, the most prolific and influential chronicler of presidential politics in the last half of the twentieth century, made John Kennedy and most of the other candidates he’d known sound like the Rolling Stones gathering up groupies on a North American tour. 'What was later written about Kennedy and women bothered White but little,' he wrote. 'He knew that Kennedy loved his wife — but that Kennedy, the politician, exuded that musk odor of power which acts as an aphrodisiac to of the other candidates he’d known sound like the Rolling Stones gathering up groupies on a North American tour. White was reasonably sure that only three presidential candidates he had ever met had denied themselves the pleasures invited by that aphrodisiac — Harry Truman, George Romney and Jimmy Carter. He was reasonably sure that all the others he had met had, at one time or another, on the campaign trail, accepted casual partners.” (Yes, White wrote his memoir in the reportorial third-person voice, and he used terms like 'musk odor.' It was a different time.)"

From the new book by Matt Bai, "All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid." That book is about how reporting on presidential candidates changed in 1987, when, for various reasons, the reporters who followed the candidates suddenly broke their conspiracy of silence and destroyed Gary Hart.

Increasing the odds of an enduring marriage.

"You should date for three years before popping the question. Be wealthy, but don't be a gold-digger. Have a huge wedding, but make sure it's cheap. And whatever you do, don't skip the honeymoon." Also: be religious.

"The average strike zone size increased by 16 square inches in 2014 over 2013, growing the zone to a robust 40 square inches larger than just five seasons prior...."

"If you like low-scoring pitching duels, you probably love this type of change to the strike zone. The sentiment that I get, though, is that most people would prefer more offense in the game...."

Lots of numbers at the link. Obviously, everyone wants the games to be more exciting, and I would assume that if there's a consistent trend of enlarging the strike zone, it's because it's working to make games more exciting, not the other way around. The most boring thing may be long at bats, and if batters can wait for the pitch they like, while accumulating balls and accepting the second-best option of walking, that's more boring than a quick strike-out. And if the threat of striking out increases, the batters who survive will adapt and find ways to put the ball in play. I'm saying that as someone who finds home runs less interesting than all the other ways to score.

"I appear before you this evening as a thief and a robber."

"I stole this head, these limbs, this body from my master and ran off with them."

A Frederick Douglass quote that appears in a Ta-Nehesi Coates piece subtitled "Black people: America's premier outlaw class."

"The gender gap, which was exceptionally strong in the previous poll, has all but vanished in this poll."

"Among likely voters, men favor [Scott] Walker by a 48-46 percentage-point margin while women favor [Mary] Burke 48-47. Among all registered voters, men prefer Walker 49-43 and women are evenly split at 47 percent for each candidate. Since July, Walker’s advantage among men has varied between 11 and 28 percentage points, while Burke’s advantage among women has ranged from 6 to 18 percentage points."

The mystifying new Marquette poll in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race. Just 2 weeks ago Marquette had this:
A large gender gap is present in voting for both governor and attorney general. Among likely voters, Walker leads among men with 62 percent to 34 percent for Burke. Among women, Burke leads with 54 percent to Walker’s 40 percent. With registered voters, Walker leads among men 54-39 percent while Burke leads among women 50-40 percent.
What could account for that change? Among men and women viewed in one undifferentiated lump, Burke has gained ground and Walker lost in these 2 weeks. Now, both candidates have 47%, but 2 weeks ago, Walker had 50% and Burke 45%. That's a shift toward Burke, though entirely within the margin of error. (That's likely voters.) What could explain a huge gender gap turning into almost nothing?

There was that "plagiarism" business (about Burke's jobs plan containing material from Democratic candidates for governor in other states), which was peaking when the older poll was taken. Conceivably, more women empathized with the beleaguered candidate and more men reacted with starchy rectitude. I'm assuming issue has melted into the background as the newsfolk direct our thought to ebola and ISIS and other things that, unlike plagiarism, could kill us. Or maybe with more time to contemplate plagiarism, women were troubled while men warmed up to the take-good-ideas-wherever-you-find-them defense. 

There was also a debate last Friday, and not much happened except that Burke was able to stand next to the incumbent governor for an hour and seem reasonably equally weighted. But there was that moment when both candidates were asked to say something nice about the other. Walker easily expressed admiration for Burke's philanthropy, while Burke "began with a long 'uh' and a shake of the head." Maybe that's the kind of thing that attracts the men and alienates the women. Ha ha, she hates him versus If you can't say one thing nice about somebody, what does that say about you?

There's another debate tomorrow. Does anyone really watch these things live? I mean, I will, but I think these things are mainly raw footage for attack ads. Which would explain the dullness. Avoid mistakes. Anyway, I will watch, but I'm not going to question-by-question live-blog this time. I think I'll lock in, stare at the damned thing straight through, then give a summary of impressions, more like a normal person. 

October 15, 2014

Mid-October lawnscape.


Madison, Wisconsin.

An "extremely peculiar situation"...

... in Florida.

"'In Norway 'we have brats, child kings, and many of us suffer from hyper-parenting. We’re spoiling them....'"

"... explained the producer [of a documentary], a father of three. The French 'demand more of their kids, and this could be an inspiration to us.'"
I used to think that only Americans and Brits did helicopter parenting. In fact, it’s now a global trend. Middle-class Brazilians, Chileans, Germans, Poles, Israelis, Russians and others have adopted versions of it too. The guilt-ridden, sacrificial mother — fretting that she’s overdoing it, or not doing enough — has become a global icon. In “Parenting With Style,” a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the economists Matthias Doepke and Fabrizio Zilibotti say intensive parenting springs from rising inequality, because parents know there’s a bigger payoff for people with lots of education and skills. (France is a rare rich country where helicoptering isn’t the norm.)
(Here's the discussion we had about French parenting last month.)

"Cornell gives deer tubal ligations..."

"... everything goes wrong."

I want to root for the Royals, because they seem scrappy and heroic right now...

... but I am so adamantly opposed to players wearing the number 0 that I'm staying with the National League, even though all the National League teams I like have gone down (or are about to go down).
Numbers 0 and 00 are rarely worn. 0 is currently worn by Omar Quintanilla for the Mets, Adam Ottavino for the Rockies and Terrance Gore for the Royals. 00 is currently worn by Brennan Boesch for the Angels and Brian Wilson for the Dodgers. In total, 15 players have worn 0 and 20 players have worn 00 in their careers.
To me, it reads as nihilistic. I strongly object, Terrance Gore.  Zero is not an acceptable baseball number in my view. I see it all the time in basketball, and it's one of my (many) objections to basketball.

Do you agree?
pollcode.com free polls

Still, they look so happy now, the people of Kansas City, and I'd rather support them than the imperious San Francisco....

"Like many trans students, he chose a women’s college because it seemed safer physically and psychologically."

"From the start, Timothy introduced himself as 'masculine-of-center genderqueer.' He asked everyone at Wellesley to use male pronouns and the name Timothy, which he’d chosen for himself."

"So Vox’s position is that the unjust exercise of authority causes crime in black communities but prevents it on campus."

"It’s not logically impossible that this apparent contradiction has some basis in reality, but one can be forgiven for suspecting it is the product of pure prejudice."

Further on down the road...


That picture made me think of this old song...
When I think back, your love was like the sun
And I don't remember no cold days now
I just remember the warm warm sun
Further on down the road baby, you will accompany me...
It's on this fine album.

Now we know: It's time to panic.

"BREAKING: Obama postpones campaign trip to convene cabinet meeting on Ebola."

UPDATE: The link goes to the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and with the story no longer "breaking," you can find it, with the same title, is here.

"A la Carte Is the Worst Idea Anyone Has Ever Had/Your cable bill is basically socialism."

"... rest assured, if you want to pay for your cable channels individually, you will end up paying a ton more."

Via Metafilter, where somebody says:

"The goal must not be simply to go as far as possible in the direction of preventing anything that some might characterize as sexual harassment."

"The goal must instead be to fully address sexual harassment while at the same time protecting students against unfair and inappropriate discipline, honoring individual relationship autonomy, and maintaining the values of academic freedom. The law that the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have developed under Title IX and Title VII attempts to balance all these important interests. The university’s sexual harassment policy departs dramatically from these legal principles, jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials. We recognize that large amounts of federal funding may ultimately be at stake. But Harvard University is positioned as well as any academic institution in the country to stand up for principle in the face of funding threats. The issues at stake are vitally important to our students, faculties, and entire community."

A letter from 28 Harvard Law professors. Nicely done.

Interesting recognition of noblesse oblige, by the way.

Yesterday, I watched one episode of "The Daily Show" and one episode of "The Colbert Report," and immediately afterwards bought the new books of the 2 authors I'd seen interviewed.

That was weird, although I see the connection to my long-time habit of feeling the need to buy 2 things if I'm going to buy 1 thing. I don't have a problem buying nothing, but 1 seems to require 2.

Here's the video of Matt Bai on "The Daily Show," pushing "All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid."

Here's the video of Walter Isaacson on "The Colbert Report," pushing "The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution."

"People, young or old, who don't know the issues, budget battles, or the current state of regulations and policy should NOT vote."

"Ever. I don't care what Rock the Vote or anyone else says. It's not your 'civic duty' to be a dipshit voter. Stay home if you don't know what the hell you're voting for."

I'd put it a nicer way. Abstaining from voting is a kind of vote.* You are registering the opinion that the question asked is not sufficiently interesting to you to have a preference, but you stand in reserve, as one of the votes that will be activated if and when the difference between the 2 candidates does make a difference to you. It's notable that the nonvoters are generally presumed to represent votes that would be cast for the Democratic Party's candidate, but that presumption shows how the abstention means something. The nonvoter doesn't want to give affirmation to the Democratic Party's candidate. The nonvoter is saying I don't like any of you people. Or maybe he's saying something else. Who knows? But it's not as though we know exactly what the voter is saying when he votes for one candidate or another. It might be I love X. It might be X is slightly less bad than Y. I say all the votes — cast and uncast — count and have meaning.

* Think of the phrase "voting present."

"Egg Freezing as a Work Benefit? Some Women See Darker Message."

Great headline for a column at the NYT by Claire Cain Miller. I hadn't quite yet gotten around to blogging about this new work benefit, which we've just heard is getting under way at Apple and Facebook, and already "some women" have not only detected a "darker message," they've gotten their message out to the general public. "Some women" are always getting the jump on me. I had my perceptions — not dark, but optimistic — and I voiced them, within the confines of this house, and I can't believe that even as I blog so consistently and so earnestly and I'm ever-ready to catch new issues like this and put my opinions instantly right out there on the internet, that "some women" beat me to the punch... if one is allowed to use that expression in this woman-friendly world anymore.

Miller writes:
For women whose circumstances have made it unrealistic to have a baby and who are considering egg freezing, the new benefit is likely to be a highly welcome surprise — even if in some sense it may seem a logical extension of employee-sponsored health plans that already cover pregnancy, childbirth and some infertility treatments.

Yet workplaces could be seen as paying women to put off childbearing. 
Isn't that what the required coverage of birth control also does? Or is the coverage of birth control not really an incentive to put off childbearing, but a trick to ease women unwittingly into a life of childlessness? I hadn't thought so. And if women need to use the young part of their lives to get educated and to advance their careers without sidetracks and distractions, then egg-freezing is exactly the benefit that supports workplace equality.
Women who choose to have babies earlier could be stigmatized as uncommitted to their careers.  Just as tech company benefits like free food and dry cleaning serve to keep employees at the office longer, so could egg freezing, by delaying maternity leave and child-care responsibilities.
But this stigma is already there to the extent that it is, and birth control (not to mention abortion) empowers women to show their commitment to their career by putting off pregnancy. At least the egg-freezing preserves the woman's option to undertake maternity when it finally (if ever) suits her idea of how she wants to live, just like a man. (Cue readers to their favorite sidetrack: Men don't get to choose paternity on their own terms. Here's a clue: Get a vasectomy. Freeze some sperm first.)
Egg freezing is a two-week process involving hormone injections and extraction under sedation, and it takes another two weeks to feel back to normal.... A cycle usually costs $10,000 to $15,000, and many women are encouraged to do more than one cycle to harvest more eggs. Storage costs about $500 a year. Insurance very rarely covers it....
If only you were allowed to sell these eggs, as men can sell their sperm. It's a much bigger deal to extract female genetic material, and there's a big expense that's not there for the men at all. Those costs could be defrayed by allowing sales of some of the extracted eggs. The column goes on to complain about the "class and race divides in egg freezing," because you know "the kind of people who work at Facebook and Apple." This sounds like a set-up for Senate hearings on how egg-extraction, freezing, and storage ought to be included in Obamacare cost-free, like birth control, more spoils for the victors in the war on women.

So maybe conservatives need to get the jump on the Obamacarers and propose a free market in human eggs. With same-sex marriage on the upswing, this should be a seller's market. Everybody wins, no?

"Street Portraits Close Ups Only."

I like this Flickr group. (A Flickr group contains lots of different photographers' photos that fit a particular category.) I found that through this striking photo of a woman with a cat — the woman and the cat are striking in entirely different ways — taken here in Madison, featured as yesterday's photo-of-the-day at the Madison newspaper Isthmus.

Do not even think of getting a cat like that as your emotional-support animal.  That cat makes me think there should be a new category of animal you get to take everywhere. Not emotional-support animal. Emotional-[something else] animal. Excitement. Challenge. Tribulation. Chaos....

Scrolling through the "Street Portraits Close Ups Only" group, I almost randomly clicked on this woman who's wearing a priest's collar:
I saw this woman standing alone with the festive Pride Week crowd swirling around her. She looked relaxed but pensive. Because of the abundance of creative costumes, I assumed her religious outfit, contrasted by a satin sash, was costumery for the festivities. I couldn’t have been more wrong....

October 14, 2014

Country road...


... somewhere around Black Earth.

"'The guidelines were constantly changing' and 'there were no protocols' at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas as the hospital treated a patient with Ebola..."

"... the president of National Nurses United said in a statement on Tuesday. Protective gear nurses wore at first left their necks exposed, union co-president Deborah Burger said, citing information she said came from nurses at the hospital."

"To tell you the truth, when it comes to art, money is an unimportant detail. It just happens to be a huge one unimportant detail."

"But, a good LP is a being, it's not a product. It has a life-force, a personality, and a history, just like you and me. It can be your friend. Try explaining that to a weasel."

Hillary Clinton is laughing it up over latte foam designs — of pigs and possible marijuana — in coffee-and-marijuana-friendly Colorado.

And, frankly, she's quite adorable here, more than likable enough.

"I'm so excited about the pig!"

"I decided to go undercover as a person with an anxiety disorder (not a stretch) and run around town with five un-cuddly, non-nurturing animals for which I obtained E.S.A. credentials..."

Patricia Marx uncovers the rampant scam that is goes by the name emotional-support animal.
The first animal I test-drove was a fifteen-pound, thirteen-inch turtle. I tethered it to a rabbit leash, to which I had stapled a cloth E.S.A. badge (purchased on Amazon), and set off for the Frick Collection....

Here’s what happened at the Chanel boutique: “Hello. I’m looking for a pocketbook that will match my snake,” I said to a salesman. “Maybe something in reptile.”... he salesman handed me a smart, yellow python bag marked $9,000. “I think this would work the best. It’s one of our classics. I think yellow. Red makes the snake look too dull.”...

Henry was a Royal Palm [turkey]...

An alpaca... been granted permission to clomp through the premises of a national treasure that houses hundreds of priceless antiques...

I’m pleased to report that passing through security with a pig in your arms is easier than doing so without one....
Much more at the link.

"Arguing that the Ninth Circuit panel that ruled against the Nevada ban on same-sex marriage last week did not appear to have been selected by a neutral process..."

"... a private group in that state on Monday asked the full Ninth Circuit to reconsider that ruling to assure that the group got a fair hearing...."
The filing on Monday, citing an analysis done of gay rights cases in the Ninth Circuit since January 1, 2010, said that there have been eleven of those cases and that Judge Berzon sat on five and Judge Reinhardt on four. “Statistical analysis,” it said, “demonstrates that the improbability of such occurring randomly is not just significant but overwhelming.  Thus, the odds are 441-to-1 against what we observe with the relevant cases.” There are eighteen active judges on that court who have never been assigned to a gay rights case, the motion said....

Conceding that the Ninth Circuit does have “a neutral process” for assigning judges to panels, the motion contended that, “in this case, the appearance is unavoidable that those measures failed.”
That is, the group — the Coalition for Protection of Marriage — isn't saying that that something underhanded happened, only that it unavoidably looks that way, and appearance matters and is a reason for en banc review.

Here's the PDF of the motion, which uses a term for same-sex marriage that I have never noticed before: "genderless marriage."

"A week's worth of Wisconsin 2014 political ads, from best to worst."

There are 5 ads ranked (at Isthmus). I gravitate to the worst one:

That's from the AFL-CIO.

Second worst is one we already talked about in a post called "'What’s eleven dollars buy you in Wisconsin? Well, Scott Walker thinks eleven dollars buys your vote.'"

Isthmus rates one of Scott Walker's ads the second best of the week, but kicks it with "Everything Walker says here is a lie, but he says it very well."

The #1 best ad of the week is about how Scott Walker is poisoning children and wrecking the earthscape of northern Wisconsin.

How are you prepping for the "pastoral earthquake"?

"The relatio post disceptationem read aloud in the synod hall, while defending fundamental doctrine, calls for the church to build on positive values in unions that the church has always considered 'irregular,' including cohabitating couples, second marriages undertaken without annulments and even homosexual unions."

ADDED: The linked article above goes to Rod Dreher's analysis in The American Conservative. And here's Andrew Sullivan's take: "Yes, This Is A Pastoral Revolution."
I never thought I would live to read these words in a Vatican document. Gone are the cruel and wounding words of Benedict XVI to stigmatize us; instead we have the authentic witness of someone following Christ who came to minister to the broken and the hurt, and the strong, the people who had long been excluded from the feast – but now invited to join it as brothers and sisters – “a fraternal space” in the church. Notice too that the church is now emphasizing a pastoral “accepting and valuing” of homosexual orientation, yes, “valuing” the divine gift of our nature and our loves. Yes, the doctrine does not change. The sacrament of matrimony is intrinsically heterosexual – a position, by the way, I have long held as well...
Instead of defining us as living in sexual sin, the church is suddenly seeing all aspects of our relationships – the care for one another, the sacrifices of daily life, the mutual responsibilities for children, the love of our families, the dignity of our work, and all that makes up a commitment to one another. We are actually being seen as fully human, instead of uniquely crippled humans directed always and everywhere toward sin. And, yes, there is concern for our children as well – and their need for care and love and support.

50 years ago today: Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the age of 35, he got the phone call telling him he'd won the award:

(He's in bed, the article says, because he was having a "checkup" and getting "some rest" in a 2-day hospital stay.)

The prize was $54,000 back then, and King said he'd devote "every penny" to the civil rights movement. He said what he had done was not political: "I am a minister of the gospel, not a political leader." And: "I do not consider this merely as an honor to me personally, but a tribute to the disciplined, wise restraint and majestic courage of gallant Negro and white persons of goodwill who have followed a nonviolent course in seeking to establish a reign of justice and a rule of love across this nation of ours."

At page 14, there's a second article "Cheers and Scorn for Nobel Award/Rights Leaders Delighted — Perez Blames 'Reds.'" Eugene T. Connor ("Bull" Connor) the former police commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama said the Nobel Committee was "scraping the bottom of the barrel," and "He has caused more strife and trouble in this country than anyone I can think of." Virgil Stuart, St. Augustine, Florida police chief, went with the same strife-is-not-peace observation and called the prize "one of the biggest jokes of the year. How can you win the peace prize when you stir up all the trouble he did down here?" The "Perez" in the headline was a "prominent segregationist" named Leander H. Perez Sr., who said that the prize "only shows the Communist influence nationally and internationally. Shame on somebody."

Shame on somebody, indeed.

"She had no weapons and so she picked up a scythe and killed the commando.... She killed for hours and stole weapons from corpses."

"There were bodies everywhere. They hung from the trees. No man questioned her."

From "My Terrifying Night With Afghanistan's Only Female Warlord."

"Bad Lip Reading" is a specific brand.

And this video attack on Scott Walker is just bad "bad lip reading," not — as I was hoping when I clicked, throwing away a half minute of my precious time — an actual work of the brilliant enterprise called Bad Lip Reading.

"Former aides and senior Republicans say Romney appreciates the GOP masses crowing that he was right about issues such as Russia and health care."

"But what really intrigues him, they said, are the vulnerabilities among top-tier candidates in the Republican field. If Romney moves toward a race, it would be because he sees a path to victory. 'It’s the market pulling him,' said Kent Lucken, a longtime friend and adviser who accompanied Romney to Iowa. 'People look at Hillary as the likely Democratic nominee, and the party needs a strong leader who can stand up to her and who’s been through the process.'"

From a WaPo article titled "Can’t quit Mitt: Friends say Romney feels nudge to consider a 2016 presidential run."

October 13, 2014



2 days ago, in Wisconsin.

Nina Pham...

... only 26, is the nurse who caught ebola in Dallas and is — as I hear it — getting blamed for not following the protocol.

"You're the last person I will love/You're the last face I will recall/And best of all, I'm not gonna miss you."

Glen Campbell's final song expresses his graceful decline into Alzheimer's, finding comfort in his approaching inability to remember his wife, Kimberly Woollen, to whom he has been married since 1982. (Is it churlish to mention he had 3 wives before her?)

ADDED: The song, particularly the chords at the beginning, is reminiscent of the John Lennon song "Isolation."

IN THE COMMENTS: Many commenters express offense at my bringing up Campbell's life story as context for this song. One says: "Let the guy sing a song to his wife of 32 years and mind your own business about his prior personal life." I respond:
If he were singing it only to his wife, I would never have heard it. His people have made a video and are putting it out for us to consume. As such, opinions are invited, and it is our business.

They are seeking fame and wealth on a sentimental message, and it's entirely apt that the story of Campbell's marriages be attached to their enterprise.

Anyone who is dying deserves some sympathy, and it is interesting and sobering to contemplate a person losing all memory before dying and the effect this has on his loved ones.

But Campbell is a chance repository of this sympathy, and the things he did when he had his wits about him say more about the man who is now slipping away. If you care about humanity, you should care about who he really was, and not him as simply an exemplar of a disease.

"The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) — the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress..."

"... is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they — the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court — represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as 'the United States,' subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a 'national interest' represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media."

Howard Zinn, "A People's History of the United States," page 9.

Did you notice it's Columbus Day?

How to get the ebola-panic working for your side.

Here's an effort by the Agenda Project Action Fund (famous for "Granny Off the Cliff") attempting to crank up the fear and get it to go this way:

Meanwhile, other Democratic Party voices are saying calm down, we know how to control outbreaks, and fear is unhelpful, a problem in itself. The cynical among us assume that politicos tell us to fear when they think they can manipulate our fear to serve their interests. With this new ad, the Agenda Project shows it believes it can work fear effectively, so it invites panic. But it's stepping all over the dominant message from the President's party, which is anti-fear. This fear/don't fear message is confusing. It's like: Don't fear, but if you do fear, blame Republicans for whatever is scaring you. And yet, if confusing people were thought to be a good move, it would be made, would it not? The lofty voices in the party say don't fear, we know how to handle this, and we are diligently on duty, while the fringe groups crank out viral paranoia.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss said:
The Agenda Project Action Fund has received official IRS recognition of its tax exempt status under sections 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Good thing the IRS has been keeping a close eye on the tea party groups, otherwise a tax-exempt non-profit might engage in politics.

"That's a $500,000 vagina tax."

(Warning: Rubber penises that have kind of a sourdough smell are displayed and waggled about in this video.)

Reparations, baby. And we've got a number. None of this Ta-Nehisi Coates we-can-figure-out-the-number-later business. The number is $30 trillion. Pony up!

"I have a history with charismatic, attractive men who just wear me out."

Best Hillary Clinton quote ever. 

ADDED: Hillary couldn't have meant us to hear that as sexual, but how can you not? In my old mind, it resonated with Rod Stewart's "All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand/But you turned into a lover and/mother what a lover, you wore me out."

By the way, "'Maggie May' was more or less a true story, about the first woman I had sex with, at the 1961 Beaulieu Jazz Festival." "Maggie May" is such a brilliant story song. I wrote a paper about it in my college poetry class, where the assignment was to take some pop song and analyze it the way we'd been analyzing poetry.

"Accused College Rapists Have Rights, Too/The victims deserve justice. The men deserve due process."

Title and subtitle to an article in The New Republic by Judith Shulevitz.

I'm not bothering to read that article because the proposition that the accused have rights is so well-established in the law that it's like an article titled "The Sun Also Rises/Not to Mention the Moon." I don't need instruction on why I shouldn't think something I can't remember ever thinking.

I just want to talk about that title "Accused College Rapists Have Rights, Too/The victims deserve justice. The men deserve due process."

Note the egregious lack of parallelism between "The victims" and "The men." The word that should go with "victims" is "perpetrators" or "criminals" or "villains" or "rapists," and part of the due process that "The men deserve" is a presumption of innocence.

And why "men"? Crimes are defined in a gender-neutral fashion, and women too can commit sexual assaults, including rape, especially as rape is more expansively defined. Both the accused and the accuser enter a system bound by the requirements of process and equality.

The beginning of the title also undercuts the author's premise: "Accused College Rapists." Those accused of rape are not accurately termed "accused rapists." They are persons accused of rape. We don't yet know whether they are rapists. And it's not good shorthand. Notice that decently written articles about murders don't say "X is an accused murderer." They say "X is accused of murder." There's a difference!

"We're gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first class hanging" is a laugh line, and if we don't see why, we are truly lost.

ADDED: A passage from Mark Twain's "Roughing It":

After this high-level observation of a limitation in Kindle, maybe Amazon will finally help out people like me who do research like this.

The first paragraph of the review of "Gone Girl" in The New Yorker:
The word “marriage” occurs about a hundred times in Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl”; there are sixty instances of “husband.” “Wife” maxes out the Kindle search feature at a hundred instances in the first hundred and forty-seven pages—that’s just thirty-seven per cent of the book. If there is some way of searching the remaining sixty-three per cent, I haven’t figured it out. I feel certain that she’s there, this “wife,” many more times—but I can’t find her. As sometimes happens, the limitations of the medium amplify the message: wives are people who disappear.
The reviewer Elif Batuman — whose name is an anagram for Mutable Naif and Tubal Famine — turned Kindle's limitation into a neat, context-specific joke. But jokes like this get tired, and the need to count the occurrences of a word in an ebook rages on. Ebook is one of the few words, other than ebola, that begin with "ebo-," and all the others range around ebon — meaning blackebon, ebony, ebonies, ebonize, ebonized, ebonies, ebonics.

So, now, what? How are you hoping this blog post will unfold?

1. I wish it were over already.

2. I hope Althouse finishes reading Elif Batuman's review of "Gone Girl" and probes the intriguing concept "wives are people who disappear."

3. I want closure based on the post title, with a strong, clear message to Amazon that it needs to get its Kindle search tool working beyond 100 hits on a search word.

4. I'd like to see Althouse explore the racial concepts within and around words that begin "ebo-," including the fear of ebola as a fear of black people and this current issue about ebonics and "talking white."

5. I'd like to see Althouse drift into the etymology of "ebon" and use the Oxford English Dictionary to cherry-pick historical iterations like Shakespeare's "Deaths ebon dart" and Longfellow's "From out its ebon case his violin the minstrel drew." She could look for the earliest use of "ebonics" and find it in the NYT in 1973: "Professor Ernie Smith,  a linguistics professor from the University of California... suggested the study of 'ebonics,' which he said viewed the speech patterns of black Americans as they relate to Caribbean and African blacks rather than to white Americans." And she could find the first use of "ebola" and see that it too was in the NYT. The year was 1976, and it was only a brief notation — "The virus responsible for the recent epidemic of green monkey fever that claimed several hundred lives will be known as the Ebola Virus, after a river in the north [of Zaire]" — a virus-small thing next to a huge ad with a white lady laughing in a "cascading" silk gown as an off-frame hand pours champagne into her glass. Oh! The accidental incongruities... and how they seem to amplify the message.

For the annals of premeditated murder.

Steven Pratt served a 30-year prison sentence for murder and, upon release, within hours, police say, committed murder, inflicting "massive blunt head injuries" on his 64-year-old mother, Gwendolyn Pratt.

Steven Pratt is 46, which means he began that 30-year prison term when he was only 16. Gwendolyn Pratt was described by a neighbor as "very polite, very to herself," a woman who "kept a quiet home."

October 12, 2014

This is America.

The dog lives.

Susan Rice on "Meet the Press"... Does that sound right to you?

On "Meet the Press" this morning, Chuck Todd announced that he had an "exclusive interview with Susan Rice," and we were wondering if everyone had been clamoring for an interview with Susan Rice. Then, we kept talking over her and pausing to substitute translations, often, comically, involving a heinous and offensive video.
There has been no recommendation for... military commanders, either on the ground, nor here in Washington, that the United States put any ground combat forces into Iraq. That has not come up the chain to anybody at the White House. And I don't anticipate that it will, Chuck. I mean, let's be clear here....
So it's down somewhere in the chain, but it won't get up the chain?
The president has been very plain that this is not a campaign that requires or even would benefit from American ground troops in combat again. The Iraqi prime minister, the government of Iraq have said very plainly, they don't want American troops in combat. We are there to help build up the Iraqi capacity to sustain their territory and to hold their ground.... It's not going to happen overnight. But if it isn't achieved, nothing is going to be sustainable.... 
Strategy's very clear....
So the strategy's not clear, right? Or the strategy is clearly something else?
We'll do what we can from the air. We will support the Iraqi security forces, the Kurds, and ultimately over time, the moderate opposition in Syria to be able to control territory and take the fight to ISIL. We'll do our part from the air and in many other respects in terms of building up the capacity of the Iraqis and the Syrian opposition, the moderates.

But we are not going to be in a ground war again in Iraq. 
Oh! So we are going to be in a ground war in Iraq....
It's not what is required by the circumstances that we face and even if one were to take that step, which the president has made clear we're not going to do, it wouldn't be sustainable. We've got to do this in a sustainable way.
She keeps saying "sustainable," so I guess that means it's not sustainable.

Then, we watched "Face the Nation," and Bob Schieffer — who was one of the Sunday morning talk show moderators Susan Rice lied to about Benghazi — was talking with Leon Panetta and brought up what Susan Rice was saying on the other network's show:
BOB SCHIEFFER: The President's national security advisor Susan Rice was on television this morning and she said if I understand it there has been no recommendation from military commanders that the United States would combat troops in Iraq. Does that sound right to you?
We laughed because the tone of that Does that sound right to you? exactly expressed the dubiousness we'd just been expressing.

Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, talks about "the Supreme Court's back alley type Roe v. Wade decision" and the "guardrails" of nature.

On "Fox News Sunday" today, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, attempted to match wits on the subject of marriage equality with former Solicitor General Ted Olson. Early on, the moderator, Chris Wallace, asked Perkins about the Supreme Court's recent denial of review in seven same-sex marriage cases from different lower courts:
TONY PERKINS: ... I think the effect of this is the court did a back alley type Roe v. Wade decision by letting the lower courts do their evil bidding. 
So... back alley abortions... we know what those are. A "back alley decision"...  would be... hmmm... as if judges who are not Supreme Court judges are doing something shadowy and illicit? And leaving a case unreviewed is somehow — working backwards in time, I guess — getting the lower courts to do what the Supreme Court has bidden? This is pretty insulting to the vast majority of judges in this country, the judges who are not Supreme Court justices. These people are all following a duty — whether you like how they do it or not — to apply constitutional law in the cases within their jurisdiction. If all the lower courts agree on an issue, it's not sneaky or arrogant or evil for the Supreme Court to fill its docket with other cases.

Olson ignores the "back alley" smear and concentrates on the comparison of same-sex marriage to abortion. The better analogy is to interracial marriage, he says. Perkins says that's "apples and oranges." Why?

Leon Panetta says Obama needs to "get in the ring" and "fight."

ADDED: Transcript:
Bob, there are--you know, having been in this town close to fifty years, you know, I've seen Washington at its best and Washington at its worst.... And this country cannot tolerate another two and a half years of stalemate. The President can't tolerate it. If he wants to be able to get the things done that he wants done, and I respect him for-- for what he wants to get done, he has got to get into the ring. Everybody's got to get in and fight to make sure that we do the right thing for the country....
He almost yelled "fight," so I sensed some real frustration there.
You know... I don't mind Presidents who have the quality of- of a law professor in looking at the issues and determining just exactly, you know, what needs to be done. But Presidents need to also have the heart of a warrior. That's the way you get things done, is you-- you engage in the fight. And in this town, as difficult it is-- as it is, and it is difficult. I mean you've got Tea Party members in Congress who basically want to shut the government down and tear it down. He still has to have the ability to engage and to try to work with people up there who want to get things done in order to make sure that we just don't stalemate as a country

On the Table Bluff segment of the Ice Age Trail.

Yesterday, in Wisconsin: