November 8, 2014

Keith and George thought Bob had a great idea.

Paul and Mick said no.
Ringo, Charlie and Bill were amicable to the idea as long as everyone else was interested. John didn't say a flat no, but he wasn't that interested.

What Glenn Beck might do with a butter knife.

I had to look up Nicholas Sparks. Which movies are Nicholas Sparks movies? Looking at that list of movies — none of which I've seen — I'm reminded of the horribleness of movies. I guess I have some empathy — me, being a woman — for males who endure this kind of stuff, presumably to please their woman, as Glenn Beck has 2 or 3 times. And maybe his wife finds this kind of after-the-show riffing hilarious or is at least comfortable...

... or not. Who am I to say?

Elsewhere on the web, winkies are calling this "transphobic."

This was going to be a comment on that post — one step down — about "Valerie," but it took on a life of its own.

Don't forget the old Monkees song, spelled a little differently: "Valleri."

According to Wikipedia, it was written because Don Kirshner thought the Monkees needed a "girl's name" song: "[Tommy] Boyce and [Bobby]Hart improvised 'Valleri' on their way to Kirshner's office, after pretending over the telephone that the song was already finished."

Lyrics here: "Valleri, I love my Valleri/There's a girl I know who makes me feel so good/And I wouldn't live without her, even if I could/They call her 'Valleri', I love my Valleri/Oh yeah, come on..."

Oh, yeah, come on, we're almost at Kirshner's! We need one more verse!

"She's the same little girl who used to hang around my door/But she sure looks different than the way she looked before...."

Oh, no! They went with the old too-young-girl-might-finally-be-old-enough theme. What do you expect two 29-year-old men under time pressure to write a girl's name song for a group of pseudo-teenage boys to sing about a teenage girl?

MEADE: "I just watched a movie called 'Valerie.' Starring Anita Ekberg. What rock star was she married to?"

ME: No. No. No. You're thinking of Britt Ekland.

MEADE: It had everything: betrayal, justice, frontier justice...

ME: The telephone rang, it would not stop, it was President Kennedy calling me up. He said, "My friend, Bob, what do we need to make the country grow?" I said, "My friend, John, Brigitte Bardot, Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren."

(I was quoting Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Free," and Meade knew it.)

ME: Britt Ekland was married to Rod Stewart.

MEADE: Yeah, so the movie is called "Valerie."

ME: Did you watch the whole thing? You never watch movies.

MEADE: It's only an hour long. The theme is: War on Women.

ME: Why did you start watching that?

MEADE: Because Valerie Jarrett.

(We'd both seen the Politico article "Fire Valerie Jarrett" and had talked about it, so I didn't need more info about how the search got started.)

MEADE: And on YouTube, I saw this movie "Valerie," and I just got drawn in. It's very cheesy, but it's also very good for its time. And then the other thing that got me is: It has Italian subtitles, and some of the Italian words were great. Like a guy says "yeah," and it's "sim," not "si." It also had a theme of xenophobia. It's a Hollywood movie made after World War II and a lot of people were still dealing with their fear of foreigners.

ME: Yeah, but what was War on Women about it?

MEADE: The husband was an evil man. He hits her, he tries to drug her, he rapes her on the wedding night, and when he finds out she's pregnant, he basically tries to cause an abortion by whipping the horses, and that doesn't work. He's a hard drinker. And he tortures her. He has this whole evil plan.... And there's a scene where he literally gives her the back of his hand. Remember when Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz said that about... who did she say that about?

ME: Scott Walker!

MEADE: So, anyway, there's a trial, and you get 3 testimonies.

ME: Like "Rashomon"!

MEADE: And the final testimony is Valerie's, so that's the true testimony. The truth is revealed. It ends very abruptly. 

"But 999 proteins were significantly more active in testicular tissue than anywhere else in the body."

"The cerebral cortex of the brain had 318, the liver 172 and smooth muscle zero."

IN THE COMMENTS:  Surfed reminds us of the old notion that men have 2 brains, and I said: "We always assume that the genital 'brain' is the lesser brain, but what if it's a genius compared to the brain brain?"

EDH said: "Vindication for those who thought Herman Cain's tax plan was 'the balls.' 999."

The ancient mating habits of whatever.

"Of course I want research, but I want to have research done in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever."

I want to do research into the psychology of Democrats slavering for a tidbit of Republican Saying Something Stupid.

"On a very drawn-out scale, I think I’m on the spectrum" — the autism spectrum — said Jerry Seinfeld.

"You know, never paying attention to the right things... Basic social engagement is really a struggle.... I’m very literal.... When people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying.... I don’t see it as dysfunctional.... I just think of it as an alternate mind-set."

Differently abled, but not so differently that he's out of the zone where you can take what's different about you and leap ahead of other people.

The president of the National Autism Association worries that statements like Seinfeld's might cause people to lose track of the seriousness of the disability at the "lower-functioning end of the spectrum." "Autism is not a designer diagnosis."

A commenter at the link says: "Jerry, I have a daughter with full-blown, low-functioning autism. It bugs me so much to see every socially awkward person and their brother diagnose themselves with autism or pressure their doctors to diagnose them with autism. You have no clue, Jerry. You have no clue."

What do you think of this tendency to identify with the autistic? The experts define autism as a spectrum, which seems to invite all of us to think about the extent to which we share characteristics with those who are elsewhere on the spectrum. Isn't it helpful for some successful people like Seinfeld to encourage people further along the spectrum to see their characteristics in a positive light?

But there are issues of channeling contributions to charities and funding government services, and these are matters that must rivet the attention of the president of the National Autism Association and the father of daughter with full-blown, low-functioning autism.

ADDED: If it's a spectrum, what's at the opposite extreme? Some people say it's Williams Syndrome.

"Fox News has cut ties with contributor Dr. Ben Carson..."

"... after learning that the neurosurgeon-turned-conservative commentator plans to air a 40-minute ad promoting his bid for the Republican presidential nomination."

I look forward to hearing the calm, sane voice of Dr. Carson, easing us into the new election cycle. 

"This is animal abuse to the highest degree and absolutely disgusting, and could kill the snake..."

"... an adult green anaconda cannot fit the width of an adult man's shoulders into its body."
"Regurgitating a meal is stressful to a snake’s internal system... Not only is the snake not receiving the nutrients from his food, but the regurgitation process also robs the snake of essential digestive acids from his stomach."
ADDED: I wonder if that anaconda considers itself "in the entertainment business"?

"I think people were scared of him. The one thing people did was move away from him like he was dangerous."

"There were a lot of blasé New Yorkers that looked — and then looked back at their iPhone as if he wasn’t even there."

Tinder "is a much better app when you don’t message anyone... because then it becomes a self-esteem boost."

"Anytime you open it, there’s a list of people who said they would have sex with you. It’s a little validating."
Since a lot of her matches don’t end up messaging her after an initial expression of mutual interest (swiping right on each other’s picture), it “makes me think others are using it the same way,” she said. “It’s fun to swipe people left or right and be in a powerful position without having to go on an actual date with them and get to know that they’re a disappointing person.”
Safe sex.  Really safe sex. You can't be too safe. Or maybe you can.

November 7, 2014

At Skippy's Café...


... there's place for you.

(A photograph of a photograph in the Stoughton Opera House. This is like "The Shining." But in Stoughton... where I get the feeling all the dogs were named Skippy... and everyone had Olson somewhere in their name... except Lilly... who had a panda... named Skippy.)

"A Malaysian appeals court on Friday struck down an Islamic law that banned men from dressing as women..."

"... in what lawyers described as a landmark case in the country’s stormy battle between secular and religious authorities."
“The words ‘human dignity’ were repeated many times in the judgment,” [said Ambiga Sreenevasan, a lawyer and the former head of the Malaysian Bar Council]. “It brings us back to fundamental liberties.”...

The lead judge, Mohamed Hishamudin Mohamed Yunus, made it clear that the court was not ruling on homosexuality, which is illegal in Malaysia, and that transgender people had a disorder....

Transgender people were traditionally accepted in the culture of Malaysia’s dominant Malay ethnic group and served in a variety of roles, including performers and advisers to the country’s sultans. But the influence of conservative Islamic politics over the past three decades has often left transgender people ostracized.

"I admire that you have a blog solely dedicated to Hillary Clinton — our next US President, and I'd like to follow your footsteps..."

Ridiculous email of the day.

"In a SEAL version of Rashomon, the ostensibly silent warriors of the special operations community..."

"... have been going after one another over what really happened that night in Abbottabad."

Friday evening surrealistic contagiousness.

All I can say is: Watch the whole thing.

Via Throwing Things.

IN THE COMMENTS: There have been some great comments on the blog today, like this one from Paul Zrimsek:
And the sour-faced machete guy (Josh Lowder) just glared at everyone a moment, then threw his things (Ken DeLozier's head, Ben Peck's right foot, Katie Adkins' left breast) down on the ground and left. And while everyone was just blinking, the little girl (Morgan Burch) primly picked up the robot toy (Smarf) she'd selected and walked up to the register and asked, "Can I get this, please?"

Man takes 6 weeks off to take care of his new baby, gets featured in the NYT.

"Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma" starts out enthusing about this guy who "learned how to lull the fitful baby to sleep on his chest and then to sit very still for an hour to avoid waking her" and "developed an elaborate system for freezing and thawing his wife’s pumped breast milk" and "handed over the baby" to her when she got home and then "collapsed on the couch." He did all this for 6 weeks. That's the opening anecdote, priming us for the generalities:
Social scientists who study families and work say that men like Mr. Bedrick, who take an early hands-on role in their children’s lives, are likely to be more involved for years to come and that their children will be healthier. Even their wives* could benefit, as women whose husbands take paternity leave have increased career earnings and have a decreased chance of depression in the nine months after childbirth. But researchers also have a more ominous message. Taking time off for family obligations, including paternity leave, could have long-term negative effects on a man’s career — like lower pay or being passed over for promotions.
He took 6 weeks off. And he did it because he worked for a firm that gave paid childcare leave, which I don't think his wife had in her teaching job. It was obviously in the family's economic interest. But, maybe, the daring Mr. Bedrick suffered some stigma, even as he's presented to NYT readers as some kind of hero.  Give me a break. Tell me about the man who takes years off to be a stay-at-home parent, who really shoulders the responsibility for the home-based side of a single-earner family and makes that work. For years. Not some paid 6-week gig. And spare me the absurdity — straight out of a Lucy-and-Ricky sitcom scenario — where the man, tasked with women's work, hands over the baby and collapses on the couch at the end of the day.

But I know why the NYT does it this way. It's because the liberal agenda is to change the workplace and make it "family-friendly," not to suggest that couples view the family as a single enterprise and give it the predominance in their life that children deserve.

* Heteronormativity alert! Come on, New York Times. Not good enough. Gay couples have children too. Stop the marginalization.

"Huffington's daughter, Christina, is a recovering cocaine addict who received treatment through a 12-step program..."

"... and several sources said Huffington objected to the portrayal of 12-step programs in the piece."

"The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy."

"But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal. … Instead, the majority sets up a false premise — that the question before us is 'who should decide?' — and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it. Because I reject the majority’s resolution of these questions based on its invocation of vox populi and its reverence for 'proceeding with caution' (otherwise known as the 'wait and see' approach), I dissent."

Wrote Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey in what Slate's Mark Joseph Stern calls "the Hilarious, Humane Dissent From the 6th Circuit’s Awful Gay Marriage Ruling."

Stern cannot fawn over Daughtrey enough:
Daughtrey’s opinion isn’t just blistering; it’s a scorching, bitterly funny, profoundly humane excoriation of Sutton’s sophistry. She opens with a witty jibe.... Daughtrey’s writing is searing, firm, and fiercely moral.... But if her logic is sound and satisfying, her parting shot is downright astonishing.... one of the more memorable gay rights opinions ever penned. 
Jeffrey Sutton, the author of the majority opinion, is guilty not only of "sophistry" (Daughtrey's word) but also — as Stern puts it — of writing a "craven, callous opinion" that amounts to a "timorous, waffling shrug" and an "ersatz submission to 'democracy,'" which "is the greatest sin a judge could commit."

That's laying it on awfully thick! I'd agree with Daughtrey's position on the merts, but the drama and attention-getting prose undermines what is the crucial foundation of judicial activism: that it's based on the judge's duty to do what the law requires.

Stern's pumping that prose up to a new level and insulting Sutton does Daughtrey no favors, but I'm sure it entertains the Slate crowd, and here I am linking to it, and I'm pretty sure that's a net gain for Stern and Slate, despite my criticism.

The Supreme Court just agreed to hear another Affordable Care Act case.

This is King v. Burwell, the case about "whether the program of tax credits applies only in the consumer marketplaces set up by sixteen states, and not at federally operated sites in thirty-four states." Announcing the decision on Friday afternoon was unusual, as Lyle Denniston explains at SCOTUSblog.
If it decides to limit the subsidies to the state-run “exchanges,” it is widely understood that that outcome would crash the ACA’s carefully balanced economic arrangements.... The fate of those subsidies apparently will now depend upon how the Court interprets four words in the Affordable Care Act. In setting up the subsidy scheme, Congress said it would apply to exchanges “established by the State.” The challengers to subsidies for those who shop for insurance on a federal exchanges have argued that those words limit the availability to the tax benefits solely to state-run exchanges....
AND: Also at SCOTUSblog, Nicholas Bagley: calls this granting of review "a significant setback for the Obama administration." The government had opposed review, noting the lack of a split in the circuit court decisions, but that's not what Bagley really finds "troubling," given the importance of the issue. He's bothered by the implication that at least 4 Justices — it take 4 votes to grant review — "think—or at least are inclined to think—that King was wrongly decided."

ADDED: This seems to be an occasion for dragging out that old and oft-quoted line: "th’ Supreme Coort follows th’ election returns."

How to buy a robot.

Via Metafilter:
A woman was the clerk at an electronics store, and two guys in her line were obviously a couple, the two of them holding hands and occasionally smooching. Behind them was a sour-faced woman, and behind them, another woman with a little girl. When the two guys got up to the clerk, they asked if the store had a wedding registry. "Oh, congratulations!" the clerk said. "We don't, but what my wife and I did was just write down all the product numbers and give them out..."

And the sour-faced woman interrupted them to say that she didn't have time for their "gay-pride parade," and they should hurry up and get out of her way.

"Prodigies have an intense drive to draw. They want to draw the minute they get up and the minute they get home from school."

"Said [Dr. Jennifer E. Drake, an assistant professor of psychology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.] 'They don’t care about showing their art.' One seven-year-old drew 'complicated transformers' in a highly realistic manner on a white board, and then simply erased it and started all over again, propelled by some internal drive. Drake’s recent research also found that the ability to draw hyper-realistically— created by children she calls precocious realists—is neither a function of IQ, age, gender, or training. As she describes it, precocious realists have the ability to immediately zone in on the details, as opposed to first sketching in the overall shapes. Drake sees a clear division between someone who is gifted and someone who is a prodigy. It turns out, unlike math, music, and chess prodigies, child art prodigies are the hardest to find, according to Dr. Joanne Ruthsatz, professor of psychology at Ohio State University and author of the forthcoming book, 'The Prodigy’s Cousin: One Psychologist’s Amazing Story of the Link Between Autism and Genius.' She tracks more than 30 prodigies, but has only five art prodigies in her group. While she can’t disclose who’s in the cohort, she can say Aelita is not—although she’s highly interested in meeting her."

From "What Makes a Child an Art Prodigy?/The paintings of seven-year-old Aelita Andre have sold for tens of thousands of dollars, raising the question of what separates true, precocious genius from mere youthful creativity with hype."

What were you wearing when you were catcalled?

A question answered. 

IN THE COMMENTS: FullMoon observes that the word "catcall" means: "1: a loud or raucous cry made especially to express disapproval (as at a sports event) 2: a derisive remark."

He continues:
Most of the verbal ejaculations in the original video were of a down to earth, complimentary vein.

"Nice ass" and "I could eat that all day and nighttime, too" are not derisive or expressions of disapproval. Quite the opposite, in my neighborhood.
Good point! That is how I remember the meaning of the word "catcall," now that you mentions it. I don't know what dictionary FullMoon looked at, but I go to the OED, where I see that originally a catcall was "A squeaking instrument, or kind of whistle, used esp. in play-houses to express impatience or disapprobation." (1660  S. Pepys Diary 7 Mar. (1970) I. 80,  "I..called on Adam Chard and bought a Catt-call there; it cost me two groats.") Then it became "The sound made by this instrument or an imitation with the voice; a shrill screaming whistle." (1817  M. Edgeworth Harrington & Ormond I. vii. 144  "Shrill catcalls in the gallery, had begun to contend with the music in the orchestra.")

But there's a "Draft addition" from December 2006:
orig. U.S. A whistle, cry, or suggestive comment intended to express sexual attraction or admiration (but usually regarded as an annoyance), typically made by a man to a female passer-by.
The examples go back to 1956:
1956   Charleroi (Pa.) Mail 4 Apr. 7/1   The catcalls and approving whistles brought her back to the present and she stood in the center aisle and gave them a gay smile.
1982   Chicago Sun-Times 25 Nov. 7/1   Karen Downs, an attractive woman who was sick of the catcalls she received every time she set foot outside her house.
1993   R. Shilts Conduct Unbecoming iv. xxxiii. 317   Women recruits found themselves the object of catcalls when they walked by the mens's barracks... ‘Hey babe, you want to get lucky?’ the male Marines called.
2001   R. Peffer Virgin Islands (Lonely Planet) 46/1   Women find themselves most vulnerable to harassment when they're working out. If you are jogging..along public thoroughfares, you must prepare yourself to get whistles, catcalls, clapping and the like from local men.
BONUS: Joseph Addison's essay No. 361 from The Spectator, dated Thursday, April 24, 1712. is all about the cat-call:

The man who got Mary Burke into that "plagiarism" trouble comes forward one with of the most ludicrous exercises in self-justification I have ever read.

Published in that venerable journal, The Atlantic, it's Eric Schnurer. He kept quiet during the campaign, after he got fired, which happened after he advised Burke's people that they should fire him, because, you know, they needed him for ideas, for that jobs plan and then for what to do when the jobs plan looked like a lame cut-and-paste job. And now he has this new idea to blame others for the blame he carried only exactly as long as there was a political stake in shifting the blame onto him. He's got a career to rebuild, after all. 

You can read the whole thing. I'm just highlighting what I struck me as ludicrous:
[Mary Burke's] opposition spent a good deal of time attacking her for not “having a plan” until she issued the obligatory document. It was to be expected, however, that whatever she released would be subjected to merciless and unfair attack, because that’s how we conduct campaigns nowadays. 
So, presumably, that's what you're doing now, since that's what we do nowadays. It's all always "merciless and unfair," according to you.
Burke faced the competing demands of putting together a “plan” as quickly as possible and making it as perfect as possible. That’s where I came in....
You, with your reputation for speed and approximate perfection. By the way, why was this person running for governor without a plan? Why did this emergency exist in the first place? 
Reading the subsequent coverage of what occurred, you’d get the impression that my staff and I lazily cut-and-pasted our way through the project. In fact, the Burke jobs plan went through at least a dozen drafts and near-endless rewrites.... This was no cut-and-paste job. The Burke jobs plan went through at least a dozen drafts....
But if they had only rewritten the verbatim material from other sources, there would never have been a Buzzfeed exposé.
We knew better than simply to mail in work we’d completed elsewhere, acutely aware of the kind of cheap shots a candidate would incur if we did. 
You didn't know better than to make the plan a target for a Buzzfeed journalist. It wasn't a "cheap shot" from Scott Walker. It was a journalist, Andrew Kaczynski, doing his job. And it wasn't "cheap." Hypocritically, you are taking a cheap shot.

"By virtue of the authority vested in me as mayor and police judge of the City of Medford, I hereby order and command all citizens of the City of Medford above the age of 10 years..."

"... to repair to Court Hall's ball grounds tomorrow afternoon, June 23, at 4 o'clock p.m. to witness the titanic struggle that will there take place between the Leans and the Fats. The Chief of Police is instructed to arrest anyone found violating this order. A minimum fine of the price of admission to the game will be imposed in all cases. The parade will start from the Natatorium at 4:15, headed by the band, which will play a funeral march."

When the Fats played the Leans in 1911.

Harvard uses secret surveillance cameras on its students...

... to study the crushingly mundane problem of classroom attendance.

Is that more evil than lame, more lame than evil, or an intoxicating, mystifying brew of evil + lame?

ADDED: With cameras and face recognition software, a school could set things up to take attendance, outsourcing an old-fashioned teacher task that I don't think many higher-ed teachers do anymore. Maybe we could forgo exams and just judge the students by whether they were there and paying attention. I hope I'm not throwing away a billion dollars by revealing this wonderful idea: Program the computer to recognize what the teacher was saying and whether the faces reveal that they pick up the message at an appropriate interval, and score the student for an entire semester of facially revealing understanding. A million data points, registered in real time, unfakable, and calculated to perfection. AND: This would not merely relieve the teacher of the work of grading papers and exams, it would rivet the students to the classroom experience and make it the real event for everyone. Result: excitement, efficiency, and intrinsic interest where it belongs.

"O’Malley had been not-subtly hoping to spin a vague impression that he did a decent job running Maryland into a position as the guy the Democratic Party will turn to..."

"... when or if Hillary Clinton self-immolates. The total shellacking of O’Malley’s lieutenant governor and direct party heir makes the M.O.M. 2016 pitch a non-starter."

Me: "New post alert. And I'm breaking my theme — it doesn't quote you."

Meade: "Then I'm not interested."

"I know where the money is. I know where to get it."

Said Nancy Pelosi.

She knows the Koch Brothers?

"Be careful, 'I'm ready to love Obama' sounds a lot like the last line of a novel, a certain novel. JK/LOL."

Says tim in vermont, in the comments thread of the first post today where I quoted Meade (without context) saying "I'm ready to love Obama."

Meade intended the allusion to "1984," which ends:
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
If the allusion was intended, it should make sense. Surely, Meade didn't mean that he's finally beaten down to the point were he submits to Obama-as-Big-Brother. And it's Obama that just got beaten down. The idea, it turns out, is that Obama has loomed over us for years as a kind of Big Brother figure, but now he's cut down to human size. He's not so big anymore. He's a real person who needs love and who becomes lovable, at long last, to those who have resisted the cult of personality.

Stray thought that came to me reading that last paragraph of "1984": Obama should grow a mustache!

"I am going to squeeze every last little bit of opportunity to help make this world a better place over these last two years."

Said Barack Obama, responding to one part of a 2-part question from CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta at a press conference yesterday. The part of the question he answered was: "Are you running out of time? How much time do you have left? And what do you make of the notion that you’re now a lame duck?" And he really didn't even answer that question. He turned it into the question: What are you going to do with the rest of your time?

The other part of the question, the first part, was: "your party rejected you in these midterms...  they did not want you out on the campaign trail in these key battleground states. How do you account for that?" Obama blabbed so long on the reframed second part of the question that, I guess, he hoped we wouldn't notice that he never got around to that. But what would he have said? Those loser Democrats have their loss to themselves, so don't smear their loserhood onto me. I am the one the American people embraced heartily twice. They love me.

We can only imagine what he might have said and what he really thinks. I pulled out the quote I put in the post title, because I found it appealing. I read it out loud to Meade, and he latched onto the word "squeeze": "I do not like him squeezing and getting into my life. He can try to get onto the track of making my life better, but that's not his job, to make my life better."

I always get Meade's approval before blogging a quote of his, and this time the quote-check triggered another quote that I couldn't get verbatim. I've got to paraphrase: Obama's policies were rejected in the election, what was rejected was the Democratic Party's excessive intervention into the lives of the people, so Obama needs to get back to the proper role of the President, Commander in Chief and executing the laws of the United States.

I find myself attracted to trifling stories this morning.

I got started with: "Cab company responsible for failed ride to airport, appeals court says."
Larry and Donna Peters... had sought damages of $5,225 for airline tickets, which had to be re-booked in a short time frame; $300 in ticket exchange fees; and $615 for hotel fees for the days they missed because of their late departure.
Small claims.  More smallness: "Hugh Jackman sliced the tip of his finger onstage during a preview of his Broadway show 'The River' Wednesday night":
A witness said the “Wolverine” star accidentally cut himself with a knife as he chopped a lemon around 30 minutes into the performance, and noticeably bled for an hour.
That caught my eye while I was reading the NY Post in an effort to learn exactly how the movie "The Social Network" hurt Mark Zuckerberg's feelings:
"They just kind of made up a bunch of stuff that I found really hurtful. They made up this whole plot line about how I somehow decided to create Facebook to attract girls."
And he'd never even heard of an appletini.

I also felt drawn into the details of this 1912 brothel menu. Interesting, what 50¢ bought back then and the language used to convey the differences between the various services.

I don't know. Maybe it's the after-effects of the election. Everything was so big the other day. It was a wave election. No! It was a tsunami!! (There are "About 15,700 results" for the Google news search "tsunami election.")

Oh, shut up, all you blowhard commentators and pollsters who didn't know what was going to happen before that gigantic thing happened. Your post-show is pointless. I watched none of that last night.

I taught my law school class — about Christmas decorations — had a glass of wine in a café with a friend, watched the most boring episode of "Survivor" ever with Meade, and went to sleep at 10. Had a dream about going to a bookstore and lugging along an entire bookcase full of one's own books, as if the owned books needed to socialize with the unbought books. Woke up at 5 and started reading the above-mentioned stories on my iPhone in bed. Got into a conversation about the election and its aftermath again. Meade said: "I'm ready to love Obama." But to explain that is to get past the topic of this post, the attraction of trifling things.

November 6, 2014

Taj Mahal in Wisconsin.

Isn't this a beautiful building?


No, it's not the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal was in Wisconsin last night, playing a solo concert in the Stoughton Opera House. The place was almost full, with people who were very warmly appreciative and as far as I could tell 100% white and old. Taj — who is 72 and whose real name is Henry Saint Clair Fredericks — had us all smiling and laughing and spent a good deal of time trying to teach us the proper way to sign the lines:
I had the blues so bad one time it put my face in a permanent frown
You know I'm feelin' so much better I could cakewalk into town
We were feeling so much better we could raindrive back to Madison.


But we were already feeling good, already happy. Arriving early, we'd walked on Main Street in Stoughton. We'd stopped to read the names on a Civil War Memorial plaque, and up came a very friendly woman who struck up a conversation. We said we'd been looking at whether all of the names were Norwegian, Stoughton being strongly associated with Norwegians, and she told us her name was completely German, but when she was growing up, Germans were not popular, and she did what she could to blend in with the Norwegians, and these days she makes lefse, the Norwegian pastry, in a "health food" form. Sweeties Lefse. Here, I found a video of her demonstrating her lefse technique:

Meade and I walked further on down the road to the Yahara River Grocery Coop and bought some Sweeties Lefse, which we stowed in the car and which I couldn't help thinking about during the concert, as many of Taj's songs are about food, beginning with the first song, "Fishin' Blues." "Put him in the pot, baby put him in the pan/Mama cook him till he nice an' brown/Get yourself a batch o' buttermilk, whole cakes mama/An' you put that sucker on the table and eat it on down." Whole cakes, eh? Anything like lefse?

When we got home it would be lefse I'd be putting on the pan. It was the very pan where we cooked pancakes when I was a little girl. In Delaware, we called that pan the "spider."

"The airstrikes from the coalition have been very helpful, and now the ISIS fighters are confused and don’t know where to go."

"They have also raised the spirits of the groups on the ground that are fighting ISIS."

Rush Limbaugh muffs his paean to Scott Walker.

From yesterday's show:
Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican Party has a genuine star. The Republican Party has a demonstrated, genuine hero and potential star in its ranks, and he is the governor of  Wisconsin. His name is Scott Walker. Scott Walker has won three out of four elections in the last five or six years, regular gubernatorial races and a couple of recalls....
He was supposed to say: Scott Walker has won 3 elections in 4 years, 2 regular gubernatorial races and one recall. That's 3 victories and no losses, within a shorter period, 4 years. If you want to declare someone a big star, get the evidence in his favor right!

That undercuts the value of what comes next. I don't feel that Rush has really been following the Scott Walker story, and this was one of those occasions when I felt that Rush was reading from a script. He tries to talk the same as when he's riffing, ad lib, with the same spontaneity and drama, but he always trips up a little, and when the tripping up comes in the form of misreading factual statements, and he doesn't notice the mistakes, it's really bad.

I'm reading the rest of the transcript — which I also heard as audio — and I'll just pull this out:
I watched his acceptance speech last night and I saw the epitome of class. I saw the epitome of dignity. I saw a guy who was genuinely happy and respectful, and not one shred of bitterness. No evidence of anger whatsoever. The entire Democrat Party power structure went into Wisconsin to take out Scott Walker three times in six years. 
Four years!
Scott Walker defeated his opponent, Mary Burke. Scott Walker defeated every national labor union. Scott Walker defeated Bill and Hillary Clinton. Scott Walker defeated Barack and Michelle Obama. In other words, Scott Walker defeated the A team, not once, not twice, but three times. And he did it with a conservative agenda. Scott Walker has been elected three times to stop Democrats in Wisconsin. You don't get much bluer as a state than Wisconsin used to be. University of Wisconsin is there, Madison. That's where Donna Shalala was the university president, where she came from. It is a blue state like Minnesota is a blue state, like New York is a blue state.
Not to get too fussily intra-Wisconsin, but Donna Shalala wasn't "the university president," she was the chancellor at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, which is a branch of the University of Wisconsin System, which contains 13 4-year universities, 13 freshman-sophomore college campuses, and a statewide extension program. The president has the less glamorous task of running this elaborate and less elite higher education program that is distributed around the state. That's not what Donna Shalala did. I don't think I'm being too picky with this correction, because it's an important distinction when you are talking about the politics and populism of the people of the state of Wisconsin.
What's happened in Wisconsin doesn't get very much chatter because it's Wisconsin. 
Ha. He's admitting he doesn't pay much attention to Wisconsin. I know! It shows!
It's the upper Midwest, no real stars there...
Paul Ryan? And, look, he's knocking not just Wisconsin but the whole "upper Midwest." Where the hell is his audience? I love the way he's implying that his own audience is boring people. He rails against coastal Americans, but he lets us see that he thinks they're the important people. He's paying attention to them. And we boring people of the Midwest are supposed to pay attention to him... as he talks about our governor and gets the basic facts wrong.

"As the cable shows signed off last night, it was dawning even on the most conventional pundits that the Republicans had not elected an escadrille of Republican archangels..."

"... to descend upon Capitol Hill. It was more like a murder of angry crows. Joni Ernst is not a moderate. David Perdue is not a moderate. Thom Tillis is not a moderate. Cory Gardner -- who spiced up his victory by calling himself 'the tip of the spear' -- is not a moderate. Tom Cotton is not a moderate. And these were the people who flipped the Senate to the Republicans. In the reliably Republican states, Ben Sasse in Nebraska is not a moderate.  James Lankford in Oklahoma is not a moderate. He's a red-haired fanatic who believes that welfare causes school shootings. Several of these people -- most notably, Sasse and Ernst -- won Republican primaries specifically as Tea Partiers, defeating establishment candidates. The Republicans did not defeat the Tea Party. The Tea Party's ideas animated what happened on Tuesday night. What the Republicans managed to do was to teach the Tea Party to wear shoes, mind its language, and use the proper knife while amputating the social safety net. They did nothing except send the Tea Party to finishing school."

Wrote Esquire's Charles P. Pierce, live-blogging the election results. I note that he called Scott Walker "the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin."

Yes, it's interesting to go back and relive Tuesday night from the perspective of someone who — we know in retrospect — is going to get deeply wounded.

A few stray observations about Pierce's style of humor:

1. Why is "red-haired" considered acceptable as an insult?

2. Why is it considered okay to call attention to what seems to be an eye disorder? Whether something is wrong with Scott Walker's eyes or not, the epithet "goggle-eyed" is disrespectful to all of the people who suffer from conditions like esotropia.

3. To speak of teaching the Tea Party "to wear shoes" is to try to be funny by evoking the stereotype of barefoot hillbillies. When will elite urban white people ever get the feeling that it's bigoted to mock rural white people? Oh, the answer is easy. You can find it in the book title "What's the matter with Kansas"? There's something wrong with these people as long as they fail to vote for Democrats.

(By the way, "escadrille" is how you say "squadron" or "small squadron" in French. I'll refrain from adding an anti-French kicker, given my attention to political correctness above.)

"Liberals like Obama... apply the 'wave the magic wand' school of policy analysis..."

"... as in 'If I could wave a magic wand, there would be no trade-offs in life. Child care would be plentiful, staffed by Ivy League graduates, convenient to everyone’s homes, and dirt-cheap. Moms would be able to work while their kids were young, and never feel a tug of regret. Or, they could choose to stay at home for a few years and return to the workforce without missing a step or a paycheck.' This is the sort of talk that liberals and progressives have been feeding eager audiences for decades. It glides past economic realities without so much as a backward glance. How, for example, are you going to get those highly educated college grads to work in day-care centers when they expect large returns for their very expensive educations? Is the pay going to start at $100,000? Where will the money come from?"

Writes Mona Charen in "Choices We Don’t Want Women to Make /President Obama is eager to free women from child-care responsibilities" (via Jaltcoh).

ADDED: To be fair to Obama and his ilk, I don't think they ever express a desire to put Ivy League graduates in day care jobs. The Ivy League graduates are all supposed to have brilliant careers, not simply the dignity of work and a "living" wage and nice benefits. Who are those hoards of women who are supposed to staff the day care facilities for the higher class of women who've gone to the finest schools, all right? Charen seems to want to make the magical thinking sound as absurd as possible. But in doing so, she's missing the class politics that is, I think, even more embarrassing to lefties. I remember once, years ago, back in the day when I attended "femcrit" sessions in Madison and Cambridge, bringing up this problem. I was not trying to be confrontational, only to talk plainly about who would do all this child-care work so the higher-achieving women could soar. There would be so many new jobs to draw women into the workplace. I got stone-cold stares. That was something no one wanted to talk about — plentiful low-status jobs for women.

Dogs are not committing suicide on the "The Dog Suicide Bridge of Dunbartonshire."

"Since the 1960s, some 50 dogs have perished after leaping from the same spot on the bridge. Hundreds more have jumped but lived, some even returning for a second leap onto the jagged rocks 50 feet below."

What's really going on? Hint: It sounds like the title of a Doris Day movie.

November 5, 2014

At the Sky-Over-Parking-Lot Café...


... expand your vistas. There's a larger world out there, beyond the petty distractions of the day.

Get the transcript. What did Obama say about the elections of 2014?

Here's the transcript. (Video too if you've got the patience.) Man, it's long! I'm reading the whole thing, but what you see below are excerpts with my immediate reactions:
Obviously, Republicans had a good night. And they deserve credit for running good campaigns....
Obama is in his element in campaign mode, and so he understands what happened in terms of the capacity to campaign.
Beyond that, I’ll leave it to all of you and the professional pundits to pick through yesterday’s results. What stands out to me, though, is that the American people sent a message, one that they’ve sent for several elections now. They expect the people they elect to work as hard as they do. They expect us to focus on their ambitions and not ours. They want us to get the job done. All of us in both parties have a responsibility to address that sentiment....
What job? Nothing is preferable to the wrong thing. Who believes that we want government to do something, anything?
... So, the fact is, I still believe in what I said when I was first elected six years ago last night. All the maps plastered across our TV screens today and for all the cynics who say otherwise, I continue to believe we are simply more than just a collection of red and blue states. We are the United States. 
Yeah, and then he said "I won" and rammed through his own party's agenda, without even the support of a majority of us voters.
We can and we will make progress if we do it together.
I'm uneasy at the word "progress." It assumes the existence of a road and knowledge of where it leads. I see no reason to believe in President Obama's idea of "progress." America rejected it yesterday.

Wait. I was wrong. I'm not reading the whole thing. The questions and answers go on forever, and I've got a life to live.

ADDED: Before the election, Obama said his policies were on the ballot. Which policies? And why won't he acknowledge that those policies were rejected? Because he was bullshitting when he said the polities were on the ballot? If his people had won, he'd have claimed we endorsed those policies, that he had a mandate. So when the reverse happens, how can he evade the reverse meaning?

"The killing, she said, was an act of mercy toward her son, who was autistic and did not speak."

"She testified that one ex-husband had threatened to kill her, and another ex-husband — whom she suspected of sadistically abusing the boy — would then gain custody. 'I didn’t see any way out of this situation,' she testified. 'I made a decision that I was going to end my life and Jude’s life.'... She said her son first described the abuse with a few partial words and gestures, but then, in a breakthrough three months later, learned to type on a laptop and gave a detailed account, naming several other people as well. Ms. Jordan’s lawyer, Allan L. Brenner, contended the threats from her first husband, coupled with her fear her son would again be abused, caused an emotional maelstrom. She saw a murder-suicide as the only path out of their predicament, he said. 'She did it because she loved Jude,' he told jurors in his summation last week."

 Gigi Jordan was convicted of manslaughter today in New York City.

Scott Walker says he wants to "build the economy from ground up that’s new and fresh and organic."

"The difference between Washington and Wisconsin—the folks in Washington like this top-down approach that’s old and artificial and outdated and says that government knows best."

A quote from last night's victory speech, featured in a Slate article subtitled "Why no one can beat Scott Walker."

I like "fresh and organic" as a way to refer to free enterprise. That's new. Also quoted in the article is the old-fashioned rhetoric: "First off, I want to thank God.... I want to thank God for his abundant grace and mercy.... Win or lose, it is more than sufficient for each and every one of us."

Meade — who apparently watches me when I'm watching Scott Walker on television — says "I don't remember ever seeing you look so thrilled at something on TV." I appreciate sincere modesty and moral values, whether they are based in religion or not. And I appreciate it when I feel that a politician is speaking on that level and from the heart. And I'm saying that as a law professor who has taught Religion and the Constitution for over a decade and who really believes deeply in the separation of religion and government.

"[A] psychologist at a state-run clinic in Iran says some gay people now end up being pushed towards surgery."

"Doctors are told to tell gay men and women that they are 'sick' and need treatment, she says."
They usually refer them to clerics who tell them to strengthen their faith by saying their daily prayers properly. But medical treatments are also offered. And because the authorities "do not know the difference between identity and sexuality"... doctors tell the patients they need to undergo gender reassignment.

In many countries this procedure involves psychotherapy, hormone treatment and sometimes major life-changing operations - a complex process that takes many years. That's not always the case in Iran.

"They show how easy it can be," Shabnam says. "They promise to give you legal documents and, even before the surgery, permission to walk in the street wearing whatever you like. They promise to give you a loan to pay for the surgery."

"We can now presume that all 7 Judges of the New York Court of Appeals, the top court in the state... will have been appointed by Cuomo by the end of his second term.""

"Right now, most of them are Republican appointees. The federal equivalent would be if all 9 Supreme Court Justices were appointed by President Obama."

My son John calls this the "Most underreported story of the night."

Ezra Klein has "9 takeaways from the 2014 election."

"1) The Democrats lost...."

I know Vox is about explaining things to people who are presumed to be newcomers in need of spoon-feeding, but come on!

And it's not as if the next 8 items get much more sophisticated. "2) The night had few bright spots for Democrats...."

"T]he average Senate poll conducted in the final three weeks of this year’s campaign overestimated the Democrat’s performance by 4 percentage points."

"The Democrats’ complaints may have been more sophisticated-seeming than the skewed polls' arguments made by Republicans in 2012. But in the end, they were just as wrong. The polls did have a strong bias this year — but it was toward Democrats and not against them...."

Says Nate Silver.

Now, he tells us. Isn't it his job to figure this sort of thing out before the elections?

Enervation... it's the new vibration.

Men with beards contemplate self-marginalization:

Clue that Paul Ryan will not seek the GOP presidential nomination.

"After winning re-election last night, Ryan said he would seek the chairmanship of the the House Ways and Means Committee. That post would make it exceedingly difficult for him to seek the presidency next year."

ADDED: Ryan might be thinking: 2016 is a good year for a Wisconsinite, but a bad year for a member of Congress to win the presidency. We need a governor....

"Berkeley election 2014: Voters pass historic soda tax..."

News from the left coast.

Manager of "a popular cafe featuring owls which may be handled by customers" charged with "operating an out-call 'delivery health' sex business."

News from Japan.

See? Not everything is about the American election. Unless you read this as some kind of perplexing metaphor….

I guess Mary Burke will enjoy her service on the school board now.

"It makes me want to fight ever more on a local level."

AND: Is "ever more" a typo for "even more"? I don't know...
And Scott Walker, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Walker, Governor — ever more!

Myth busted: It all depends on turnout.

"Highest turnout for mid-term in Wisconsin in at least 64 years."

This is not a metaphor.

"Lone Porcupine Skillfully Defends Himself Against 17 Hungry Lions."

Obama "doesn’t feel repudiated."

The spin from the White House.

When Mitt Romney lost to Obama in 2012, commentators said the Republican Party was dead or ... or doomed to minority status for the next generation.

I don't think I'm misremembering, but I guess we were all supposed to have forgotten that by now. I wonder what equivalent nonsense I might be wasting my time consuming this morning.

Rand Paul has the smartest post-election spin and the best social-media presentation of it.


Interestingly, Mary Burke was not one of "Hillary's losers." She had high-level surrogates here in Wisconsin, shoring up her losing battle against Scott Walker. Michelle Obama (twice), Barack Obama, and even that other Clinton, Bill. But not Hillary. I don't know what the thinking was there, but we didn't get Hillary, and thus Mary Burke didn't make Rand Paul's gallery of #HillarysLosers.

2 sides of what I say is the same post-election meme.

1. "Meet The Real Next Senate Majority Leader: Ted Cruz." Talking Post Memo.

2. "Republicans’ First Step Was to Handle Extremists in Party." New York Times.

November 4, 2014

Jon Stewart on why he didn't vote: "I just moved. I don't know where my thing is now."

"Thing" = polling place.

The epitome of apathy.

And this is the man who shows the young folks how to think!

"In America, we take a day off to celebrate the 4th of July, and not the 15th of April, because in America, we celebrate our independence from the government, not our dependence on it."

Scott Walker, in his victory speech just now.
I'm an optimist. I believe here in Wisconsin and in America, we want to be for something, not against something. But you know what? That's the difference between Washington and Wisconsin. They're all against something. We are for something. There's a reason why, in America — you know that dream we talked about? — it's not just Republican or Democrat, it's not just liberal or conservative, it is the American dream that talks about the dignity of work. And in America, we take a day off to celebrate the 4th of July, and not the 15th of April, because in America, we celebrate our independence from the government, not our dependence on it.
A view of the Wisconsin Capitol, photographed after we heard the Wisconsin race called:


No protesters. No revelers. Calm at the Capitol.

The quote above is the end of the speech. The beginning was: "Wow. First off, I want to thank God."

Settle in and watch the returns roll in...

... here.

Who needs TV? TV is just for company. But you can find company here, where we can talk to each other.

UPDATE 1: McConnell has already won, according to CNN, where everyone is talking freakily fast.

UPDATE 2: It's all about Ed.

UPDATE 3:  Looks like I've lost my pick-an-upset bet, and Meade is going to win. (I bet Scott Brown, and Meade picked Thom Tillis.) As for Scott Walker, the prime concern here in Wisconsin, it looks like he's well ahead, but how much of the Madison and Milwaukee votes are in?

UPDATE 4: Ed is slipping.

UPDATE 5: One more GOP pickup needed now to take the Senate, Cory Gardner having won Colorado.

UPDATE 6: The race is called in Wisconsin. "It's over. We will stand with Governor Walker," says Meade.

UPDATE 7: We got in the car and drove up to the Capitol to check out whether there were any protests or celebrations. All was calm. We drove around the square, and I had to restrain Meade, who wanted to do the "This is what democracy looks like" horn beeping.

UPDATE 8: The view of the Capitol just now. [PHOTO MOVED TO THE NEW POST, ABOVE.]

UPDATE 9: The GOP gubernatorial candidate won in Illinois. And it looks like Tillis did win in North Carolina.

UPDATE 10: Joni!

UPDATE 11: Scott Brown finally concedes at midnight. So I lost the pick-an-upset bet, and Meade won. Still not clear if Meade wins the bet on Scott Walker, who must win with at least 53%.

UPDATE 12: Let's call it a wave.

"When I’m bad... my father sticks a fork in my vagina."

"This is hard to share without alarm bells sounding. We’re taught to listen to little girls, particularly when they say things about being sodomized with cutlery. Also my father makes sexually explicit artwork so he’s probably already on the FBI’s fork-in-vagina radar. It’s a testament to his good nature that, after the British lady repeated my 'hilarious' story to a group of adults, he simply scooped me up and said, 'I think it’s someone’s bedtime.' It’s hard to grasp what my intent was here— we’re talking about a child who was fond of pretending a ghost was touching her nonbreasts against her will— but I guess the moral of this story is that my dad’s really nice, yet I’ve always had an imagination that could grasp, maybe even appreciate, the punitive."

Yes, I bought the Kindle version of Lena Dunham's "Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned'" and did a search on "vagina."

I mainly wanted to do a search on "vulva," for reasons stated here. The answer to that question is: 0.

"Feeling a strange, nervous equanimity. Yes, I care a lot about the outcome of the election..."

"... and I'm sitting here waiting for the news to come in, sampling the dribbled out exit polls, and fretting. But at the same time, I feel complete assurance that as soon as the outcome is known, I'll fully accept it... Despite all this political blogging, I'm not really all that political.... It is equanimity that flows through me. Time for a nice glass of win, a plate of pasta with Bolognese sauce, and a calm absorption of reality. UPDATE: 'A nice glass of win' — ah, so hope does live on! Time for a nice glass of wine and toast to hope! A glass to be refilled later, perhaps, in a quenching of sorrow!"

Said I, in my first election-night blogging, back on November 7, 2004.

What's missing from Lena Dunham's new statement about her account of what she did to her baby sister.

See if you notice:
First and foremost, I want to be very clear that I do not condone any kind of abuse under any circumstances.

Childhood sexual abuse is a life-shattering event for so many, and I have been vocal about the rights of survivors. If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry, as that was never my intention. I am also aware that the comic use of the term “sexual predator” was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well.

As for my sibling, Grace, she is my best friend, and anything I have written about her has been published with her approval.
Here's my discussion from this morning, "Within the speculum of things she did.," which ends:
And, since Lena too was a child, the contemplation centers on the mother — the "mother who didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina."
Neo-Neocon similarly focuses on the mother:
A seven-year-old child is very much under the influence of his/her parents... The child abusers [here] were the parents, although not in the technical, hard-core sense of rapists, but in the sense of a flagrant and deliberate flaunting of boundaries. In such an atmosphere, children often become both confused and hyper-sexualized. And I believe that’s what happened to Dunham.
Dunham's new statement does not mention her mother (or her father). It's possible that Dunham either intentionally or recklessly wrote her stories to wreak vengeance on her mother. In her memoir's voice, she can pose as the innocent child, recounting her memories such as they are, undefended, and it will be for readers to see and to process and, ultimately, to mete out whatever punishment and condemnation we decide her parents deserve.

At the Red Leaf café...


... look at things your way.

"Mommy blogger throws autistic son off bridge."

"'What gets me through the day & stops me from pulling a Thelma & Louise,' read the title of one of McCabe’s archived posts from April 2012. In the posting, the wife and stay-at-home mom describes several things that help 'get her through' life — including her husband, family and friends. She also lists simple things like dark chocolate, cardio and famous quotes which help her deal with her struggles, as well. 'When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on,' a Thomas Jefferson quote reads."

The boy was London McCabe.

ADDED: "Several family members said that she had tried to get mental-health help but couldn't find any from public and private providers."
"I'm losing it a lot but holding it together," she said in a YouTube video now removed from the site. "And I feel like I'm this caregiver and I don't feel like a whole person who can take this on."...

Andrew McCabe confirmed Tuesday that his sister-in-law had written an appeal on, a crowdfunding website. In it she described caring for her autistic son and her husband, Matt, who has been unable to work at his business doing e-mail campaigns since developing multiple sclerosis and a mass on his brain stem.

The appeal ended eight months ago, after raising $6,831 toward a goal of $50,000.

"The question for me is not 'will people be willing to take the risk,' but 'Will Virgin Galactic have enough paying customers to cover the cost?'"

"Not that many people have so much money that $250,000 dollars sounds affordable. Risk-taking propensity is strongest among young men — and unfortunately, wealth is highest among the old."

Says Instapundit.

Unlike Instapundit, I don't support space tourism, but that's not why I'm posting. I'm posting to speculate that there is a causal relationship between the risk-taking propensity in young men and the disproportionate wealth in the old. If young men didn't feel driven to take risks, who would be generating new wealth? And if young men already had wealth, would they be risk-takers, or would they opt for a life of ease and luxury?

So: Is the distribution of wealth unfortunate or fortunate? From the group perspective, it seems fortunate... both for the young men to be motivated by the need to acquire wealth and for the old people, beyond their most productive years, to have money to go about dumping on all manner of unnecessary things that young men (and women) can get rich selling, like some damned "space" ride.

I was voter #61 in Ward 61.

Ward 61, revisited. But just as we arrived, a little after 8 — polls opened at 7 — a city official was putting up a hand-markered sign saying that the usual door was now the handicap-access door and we had to walk around to the other side of the building. So we trudged around to the other side, past about 5 signs pointing at the door we couldn't get in — don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the door — and around to the other side of the building, where there was a flight of steps to the door, which we walked up, making it necessarily to walk down an extra flight of stairs to get into the church basement to cast our votes.

Yes, I vote in a church. And as the sign-changing city official told me, the church had asked the city to change the entrance. Change the entrance to the polling place after voting has started? That seemed pretty strange to me, given all the random anxieties about access to voting. And now a city official is saying this is what "the church" wants. Why wasn't the change made earlier? It's disconcerting to be walking up to the usual door and to get told this is not the right door all of a sudden. The man tells me it has to do with the children in day care and the church not wanting people walking down a particular hall. But what has changed since the last time we voted? What has changed since yesterday? Is there some new concern about the children?

Before you construct any conspiracy theory, know that 80.7% of Ward 61 voted against Scott Walker in the recall.

ADDED: Meade tells me I was voter #175, and that all the slips handed out at the beginning said "61." To this crushing disappointment, he adds: "Sorry, special pony."

Greg Orman explains the clown/clown car distinction to Bob Dole.

"I want to assure you that this is not true" — that Orman did not call the 91-year-old Kansan patriarch a clown — "and is not my opinion of you in any way, shape or form. My reference to a 'clown car' was commenting on the near-endless number of political supporters of Senator [Pat] Roberts who have piled out of Washington to support him, none of whom I think are clowns. I certainly wasn't calling you - or any of the others supporting Senator Roberts - a 'clown.'"

For some reason, this makes me want to show you this photo I took back in March 2011:


Originally blogged under the title: "Everybody wants to take a photo of a man wheeling the large pile of shit that has a 'Hello My Name Is Scott Walker' sign stuck in it." I'm thinking of saying something like: There, it's clear that the man means to say, Scott Walker is shit. He's not simply a man riding in on a shit wagon. He is a pile of shit, being wheeled around on a small vehicle that may or may not be specifically purposed as a shit wagon. And even if that were a shit wagon, it wouldn't mean that if any given person were to take a ride on the shit wagon, that would make him shit. When you take a hay ride on a hay wagon, that doesn't make you hay.

But then, who rides in a clown car other than clowns? And what makes a car a clown car aside from its being full of clowns? There's no specifically purposed vehicle known as a clown car. It's just a Volkswagen Beetle or some other such small car.

Now, I do get Orman's point. "Clown car" was a funny way to refer to a seemingly endless supply of surrogates that the GOP sent into Kansas to help Roberts, and there is something ludicrous about a candidate who depends too heavily on surrogates. So there's deniability. But, come on, Orman called Bob Dole a clown.  He handed Roberts a gift there, he knows it, and he had to walk it back. Ludicrously.

IN THE COMMENTS: CWJ said "Althouse, The candidate's name is Greg Orman not Gary." Corrected. Thanks. I must have confused him with Gary Oldman.

AND: Rejham said: "'Greg Orman, not Gary.' Ha! Gary Orman was great on Laugh-in though..." Oh, yeah. Gary Owens...

"I just bought a new TV.... The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it."

"You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy."
The amount of data this thing collects is staggering.... It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face.... The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV....
ADDED: "The telescreen struck fourteen.... Curiously, the chiming of the hour seemed to have put new heart into him. He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage. He went back to the table, dipped his pen, and wrote: 'To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone— to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink— greetings!' He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was only now, when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts, that he had taken the decisive step.... Now that he had recognised himself as a dead man it became important to stay alive as long as possible."

George Orwell, "1984."

Within the speculum of things she did.

Everyone's talking about this passage from Lena Dunham's memoir. I'm just trying to understand it:
Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked. My mother came running. ‘Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!’ My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.
Grace, Lena's sister, was (apparently) 1 year old when this happened, and Lena was 7. I can't picture this scene. Quite aside from whether Lena did something horrible that should be held against her today, the writing sacrifices clarity for some spirit of fun, as if she expected readers to laugh and trip along to the next anecdote. But... what the hell happened? Maybe Lena herself doesn't know, but I have trouble believing that a 1 year old "stuffed six or seven pebbles" into her "vagina." Do I have to buy the book and study the Dunham oeuvre to figure out if she's one of those people who says "vagina" when she means "vulva"?

Vagina or vulva, it's still mystifying. And we're asked to believe that the 1 year old had conceived of a prank and was capable of discerning the success of that prank, that a 1 year old could think about the minds of others and feel thrilled that something she planned had worked out. We're asked to believe that a 1 year old "cackled" and that she cackled while her mother was extracting 6 or 7 pebbles from her vagina. At the beginning of the paragraph, when the baby is "babbling and smiling," she doesn't "resist" as her older sister begins her probe. Are we supposed to think that Grace had a plan to freak out Lena and, having inserted pebbles, she acted like nothing special was happening, in order to make the prank work?

And I can't understand the phrase "I had opened Grace’s vagina." What does it mean to "open" someone's vagina? That sounds like something that would require a speculum. But the writer doesn't seem to anticipate that the reader will stop and think about that. But why not? Who says "I... opened [a baby's] vagina"? I know Dunham has won immense praise for going places other writer's avoid, but how could she be so unaware of how that phrase would hit some readers? At least say "vulva" and give us accuracy (if that's accurate). But why give us a clear picture of a baby's genitalia and speak the language of breaking in? In a cultural climate where we are asked to be very sensitive about what constitutes sexual violation even of adults, why would she present a baby's body like that?

Finally: "This was within the spectrum of things I did." We're invited to imagine other incidents. This one was just a sample — the cutest, funniest anecdote perhaps. But for readers who don't take things like this lightly, who don't laugh and move on to some other anecdote, on some other spectrum, this spectrum is a subject for contemplation. And, since Lena too was a child, the contemplation centers on the mother — the "mother who didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina."

I was surprised to see that this headline was for an article written by Thomas Frank.

"Righteous rage, impotent fury: Thomas Frank returns to Kansas to hunt the last days of Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts."

That makes Thomas Frank sound insane and menacing, like he's the one with righteous rage and impotent fury. How else can you read that? And then "hunt the last days"? That sounds like the kind of language that people were resolving to avoid after the Tucson massacre. 

November 3, 2014

Late afternoon, Dunn's Marsh.


Open thread. Write whatever you want.

And if you have any shopping to do, please use the Althouse Amazon portal.

Edward Snowden "doesn’t use Facebook because he hates Facebook."

"They’re one of the worst violators of privacy in history. Nobody should use Facebook."

"We refuse to withdraw our story or apologize for running it, because quoting a woman’s book does not constitute a 'false' story..."

"... even if she is a prominent actress and left-wing activist. Lena Dunham may not like our interpretation of her book, but unfortunately for her and her attorneys, she wrote that book – and the First Amendment covers a good deal of material she may not like."

Steven Pinker "fights pedantry with more pedantry."

"He doesn’t want to concede that the phrase 'very unique' makes no sense (things are either unique or not), so he mounts an odd defense."
Look at two snowflakes from far away, he says, and they no longer seem unique: “The concept ‘unique’ is meaningful only after you specify which qualities are of interest to you and which degree of resolution or grain size you’re applying.” If we did all that, we wouldn’t need the word.

At the Harvest Café...


... if you're rad, dish.

(Photo by Meade.)

Ridiculous "anti-rape" clothing that's getting crowdfunded.

"The creators hope to develop various styles of underwear, running shorts, and 'traveling shorts' that will be comfortable to wear — and virtually unnoticeable — under clothing and 'during normal activities.'"
They also note that the garments will ideally be “resistant to pulling, tearing and cutting”... but difficult for another person to remove — which is particularly important “in situations where the victim cannot resist because she has had too much to drink, was drugged, or is asleep.”
What kind of garment is difficult for another person to remove but would allow a person who "has had too much to drink" and "cannot resist" sex to take care of the "normal activity" of using the bathroom?

Of course, there are other criticisms of this product... this nonexistent, stupid product. But crowdfunding is crowdfunding. Check out this story of a woman getting people to pay for her high-priced Uber cabfare to get home from a party and "avoid drunk driving." One naysayer says:
Really… it’s her own fault for being too drunk to realize. Uber makes you type in what the current fare increase is so you’re aware that you’re requesting a ride during a price hike.

"There are very few cases I can ever think of where the Court has said the President can act contrary to a statute."

Said Justice Breyer, 3 years ago, in the oral argument of a case that has returned to the Supreme Court for oral argument today.
Ever since the founding of Israel in 1948, the U.S. has taken the position that no country has sovereignty over Jerusalem until its status is negotiated in a Middle East peace deal. Israel's supporters in Congress, however, have tried to force a different policy, passing legislation that would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and require the State Department to allow U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth on their passports.

The Bush administration and the Obama administration both refused to do so, contending that the passport mandate unconstitutionally infringes on the president's foreign policy powers.
There are very few cases where the President can act in opposition to a statute, but — as I suspect the Court will have to say — this is one of them.

"Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swastika" is only #9 on the list of "10 Most Ridiculous Comic Book Nazis."

What was I looking for when I found that?

You might guess that I'm going back to Saturday's topic: "Mary Burke's use of the swastika in her ad does the very thing defenders of the ad will say she's accusing her antagonist of doing."

But you would be wrong.

I just did a Google image search for "airplane as a cartoon villain" to try to find a funny picture for the Air-Force-One-as-Metaphor post. If you search only for "airplane as a cartoon character," you get a lot of smiley, nice airplanes. I guess people don't want kids to get the idea that planes are scary.

Unfair attack on Obama... by a metaphor.

Air Force One won't fly!

Remember when Air Force One eagerly stepped up to the demands of propaganda — even beyond the call of duty?

A civility matchup: Christie's "Sit down and shut up" versus Rand Paul's "The Republican brand sucks."

I greatly enjoyed Rand Paul's performance yesterday on "Face the Nation." At one point, I was moved to exclaim "He's very articulate," and Meade quipped, "And clean." Anyone other than Paul who's hoping to run for president better observe Paul carefully. He's setting a high standard in speaking skill. Now, Chris Christie also has his verbal ability, but it's different from Paul's, and Paul was invited to criticize the way Christie speaks, with that viral clip of Christie forcibly deflating a heckler:
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: There's been 23 months since then when all you have been doing is flapping your mouth and not doing anything. So, listen, you want to have the conversation later, I'm happy to have it, buddy. But until that time, sit down and shut up.
Now, when I hear that, I laugh and say something like "I love it!" But here's how Paul reacted, prompted by Bob Shieffer's question: "What do you think? Is that the right demeanor for somebody getting ready to run for president?" I'll boldface some notable word choices:
PAUL: I think this sort of bully demeanor may go over well in certain places. But I can't imagine that -- I grew up in the South. And we're, yes, ma'am, and, no, sir, and a little bit more polite. So, I don't think that -- I think people want someone to be bold. And there was a time when I thought, you know what? When he stands up and he says things boldly, that's kind of good. He's not taking any flak. But there can be [too] much of that too. We live in a world where we have so much cacophony of voices on TV sometimes of yelling back and forth. And I think there's a resurgence of people who want a little more civility and discourse.
Notice how subtle the critique is. We only need "a little" more politeness. He's not slamming Christie. He said the word "bully," but he didn't call Christie a bully. He referred to the "demeanor" as "sort of bully," and noted that in some regions of the country, it might not "go over well." He swapped out "bully" for "bold" as he continued, and he said that it was even "kind of good," but in the right dose, perhaps dispensed by someone with a better understanding of what the right dose is, which would, of course, be Dr. Paul. Paul deftly offers himself as the man with the good balance of boldness and politesse. He doesn't directly say that, but he's from the South, and the people in the South have more of a culture of polite speech.

And I love the form of his call for "civility," which is also indirect. He tells us that there are "people who want a little more civility." It's not that there's no civility now or that we need much more civility. We just need a little more civility. And, note, Paul doesn't even say that he likes or wants civility, only that he understands those people who want more civility. Best of all, he links "civility" with "discourse." It's not mere blandness that people want. They want the "cacophony" and "yelling" to give way to back-and-forth substantive conversation to make us more informed, thoughtful, and able to interact with those who have differing beliefs and preferences.

I'm carefully parsing this and am impressed with the detail and the balance to these remarks that just rolled out of the man. But when I listened to the interview the first time, I'd thought I'd heard a contradiction. I wrote down 2 words to find in the transcript for this blog post. The words are "hell" and "sucks." "Hell" actually doesn't appear in the transcript. Seconds after hearing Christie's "sit down and shut up," I'd remembered it as "sit the hell down and shut up" or "sit down and shut the hell up." But "sucks" is in there, and it's Rand Paul who said it. This was an earlier part of the interview which became relevant to me after I heard what he said about polite speech:
SCHIEFFER: You know, you had a somewhat surprising comment the other day. You said -- and this is your quote -- "The Republican brand sucks." That's a pretty unusual rallying cry in an election year. What do you mean by that?

PAUL: Well, you know, what I meant by that is that, if I were to go into a college campus today and I were to talk to a young person and say, hey, you want to be part of the Republican Party, or let's say I go and talk to a young African-American male or woman, do you want to be part of the Republican Party, the initial perception of our brand is, hmm. Like, for example, I had a meeting with some conservative African-Americans recently. And I said, let's try to get something moving nationally. And they said, well, yes, but we may not want to put the word Republican in it. So, that means essentially our brand is broken. I don't think what we stand for is bad. I believe in what the Republican Party values. But we have a wall or a barrier between us and African-American voters. So, I have spent last year trying to break down some of that wall and say, look, maybe what the Democrats have been doing for you or maybe you're being taken for granted. Maybe it's not working. Maybe we could look at some of these Republican proposals for poverty, for long-term unemployment.
That was a great answer on what was the real substance of the question: Why is "Republican" considered a bad brand? But he did say "sucks." If Christie shouldn't say "sit down and shut up," why is Paul saying "sucks"? One answer is that Paul wasn't in the South. He was in Detroit, speaking in what the newspaper called "a predominantly middle-class African-American neighborhood." He said:
"Remember Domino's Pizza? They admitted, 'Hey, our pizza crust sucks.' The Republican Party brand sucks, and so people don't want to be a Republican, and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans."
It's smart to talk about Domino's in southern Michigan, where the big brand got its start. And it's entertaining to remind us of the old campaign that featured Domino's haters insulting the brand: "Worst excuse for pizza I ever had," etc. I don't think the word "sucks" ever appeared in those ads, but "sucks" sums it up quickly and sharply, and those ads are the classic example of a "mea culpa ad campaign":
Domino's very public admission of its own awfulness might represent the most elaborate mea culpa ad in history. But it's hardly the first. Companies sometimes admit their flaws and faults in a bid for public empathy. The strategy usually has two parts. Part one: Fess up. Part two: Vow to do better. While Domino's never quite expresses remorse, the crusty comments in its commercial do set up the company's promise to improve, with better ingredients and a new pizza recipe.

Airlines such as United and JetBlue have prostrated themselves in public to mollify travelers enraged by scheduling snafus. Fast-food outfits have done it, too; Hardee's trashed the poor quality of its hamburgers in an ad campaign a few years ago. Domestic car manufacturers have practically made an art of acknowledging their shortcomings; General Motors went on an apology tour starting in late 2008 when it began lobbying for billions of dollars in federal bailout funds. Last summer, as it went through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, it flooded the airwaves with a commercial that acknowledged, "General Motors needs to start over in order to get stronger."
So Rand Paul seems to be doing some deep thinking about restoring the GOP brand. He's openly talking about it, inviting discourse on the subject. "Sucks" may be a bit strong. Even if it's not too strong for northerners — as Mitt Romney learned — whatever you say anywhere will be heard everywhere.

It's possible — and don't freak out, stay calm! — that Rand Paul is using the word "sucks" to create anxiety about the likely Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton. Do people want Bill Clinton back in the White House? I hasten to note that the "sucks" in phrases like "that sucks" does not have its etymology in blow jobs. That creates nice deniability if anyone ever corners Rand Paul about saying "sucks," but etymology isn't enough to keep people from thinking about blow jobs.