December 13, 2014

Fog in the woods.


Today, in Blue Mounds, we walked 7 miles on what is a mountain bike trail.



“I, as a New York City police officer, request that Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito refrain from attending my funeral services..."

"... in the event that I am killed in the line of duty... I believe that their attendance at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer’s memory and sacrifice."

"It's OK when SP makes fun of God, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc...."

"... but reference a rock star who blew his brains out 20 years ago and everyone goes crazy..."

"To you listeners, its another murder mystery, crime drama, another episode of CSI."

"You weren't there to see your mom crying every night, having a heartattck when she got the new that the body was found, and going to court almost everyday for a year seeing your mom weeping,crying and fainting. You don't know what we went through. Especially to those who are demanding our family response and having a meetup... you guys are disgusting. SHame on you. I pray that you don't have to go through what we went through and have your story blasted to 5mil listeners."

From "I am Hae's brother - Do not AMA."

Via "Serial nears its end, but the Reddit detectives keep working/Podcast’s runaway success has inspired online commenters to carry out their own investigations – a phenomenon which at last seems to have been acknowledged by the show."

"That reminds me of a joke about a young man, a whorehouse, a tree and a squirrel. You don't suppose the young man was Prince...."

"Anyway, I came here to use your Amazon portal for important stuff, and more time wasting..."

Said Tim in Vermont (in the previous post).

Thanks for using the Amazon Portal!

The Fruit Formerly Known As Apple.


AND: As Meade points out in the comments, the image from the Super Bowl is more apt:


Something about the directionality of the phallic extension.

How to sue Bill Cosby long after the statute of limitations has barred your claim for sexual assault.

Have him call you a liar for accusing him of sexual assault.
Former model Tamara Green... sued Cosby for defamation yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Springfield....

“It’s an innovative legal method to do this, and it’s perfectly proper under defamation law,” said Terry Gross, a defamation attorney not involved in the suit. “The fact that Cosby said she was lying gave her an opportunity to bring a suit that would normally be barred.”...

Cosby, of course, could turn around and countersue Green for defamation. But... “If Cosby was to bring a defamation suit against this woman, it would open him up to discovery about any other instance where it was alleged that he was involved in sexual abuse,” Gross said.

St. Patrick's Cathedral washed clean for the first time in decades.

"The venerable house of worship unveiled a brighter new pressure-washed Fifth Avenue facade on Friday — tearing down the scaffolding that masked it for more than two years."
The exterior was last cleaned in 1978 with a water solution — but the results were “not as dramatic” because it wasn’t pressure-washed, [Kate Monaghan, a spokeswoman for St. Pat’s].
After my first year of law school, I had a job in a law office in Rockefeller Center with windows at the level of the cathedral towers. Throughout the summer of 1979, I looked up from my work and gazed at the men on scaffolding washing the cathedral. How strange to see the before-and-after photographs in the news today! The "after" picture is just like the cathedral I saw back then.

And that new "before" picture? What a profound depiction of the passage of time in my life! It says: That's you, now. (And the "after" picture — years of grime removed — represents me at 28.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Paco Wové said: "Amazing how much cleaner the surrounding buildings got."

I said: "Good eye, Paco." And: "now I feel pretty!"

I'm skeptical (yet amused). [UPDATE: It's real!]

Texas state legislator files a bill prohibiting schools from punishing students who engage in pretend gun play.

"Rep. Ryan Guillen... said he filed the bill after a second- grader in suburban Maryland was suspended for two days in March 2013 for chewing his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun."
"Texas students shouldn't lose instruction time for holding gun-shaped Pop-Tart snacks at school," said Guillen. "This bill will fix this."
This bill will fix this. That's what they always say. This will fix that. There's a problem, so accept the solution I have right here. Don't look at my solution and imagine new problems. Just look at the problem, the terrible problem, the thing that happened that one time in Maryland...

When a house deserves the death penalty.

"The overwhelming response we got from the survey is just to have the land taken over by woodland... to raze the house and have nothing there."

Last sentence of "Newtown Weighs What to Do With Adam Lanza’s Home."

"There's another national anthem playing/Not the one you cheer/At the ball park."

"It's the other national anthem, saying/If you want to hear/It says, 'Bullshit!'"


A song lyric, from the musical we saw last night.

(2 more performances, tonight and tomorrow. Buy tickets here.)

ADDED: As I was playing the song at the link — "Another National Anthem" from "Assassins" — Meade said: "What is that, 'South Park'?" And he saw the play last night! I said, "Yeah, it does sound like 'South Park.' Now you know where 'South Park' gets its inspiration.'"

AND: From a review in yesterday's NYT of a production of "Assassins" in London:
Some are fired by political ideals, like the magnetic John Wilkes Booth... the naïve anarchist Leon Czolgosz... the Depression-era firebrand Giuseppe Zangara... and the failed Communist Lee Harvey Oswald... taunted into taking his fatal shots by the commanding ghost of Booth.

Others are narcotized by the cult of celebrity: the sniveling John Hinckley... clutching his tattered photo of Jodie Foster as if it were a religious relic, or the sweat-begrimed Samuel Byck... ranting with grim earnestness into the tape recorder hanging around his neck, composing an urgent bulletin for Leonard Bernstein. (A reeling snatch of “America,” from “West Side Story,” is heard.)

And then there are the lost souls like Charles Guiteau... outraged when he was denied a job at the White House of President James A. Garfield; Lynette Fromme, a.k.a. Squeaky, a frail flower child...  whose perorations on Charles Manson are delivered with the moist-eyed innocence of a teenager mooning over a boy-band member; and her companion in delusion, the much-married, dithery and unhinged Sara Jane Moore....

"We measure our breasts in cups. We pour ourselves into dresses. Men drink us in, tall glasses that we are."

"We spill our secrets and intoxicate with our wit. This parlance is often obtuse, but what it conveys is clear as crystal: whatever pockets of fluid and fatty tissue comprise the female body are liminal and liquid, and they are for others' consumption. Especially our jugs."

From "Myth Busts: The Enduring Legacy of Breast-Shaped Glassware/No, that glass probably wasn't modeled on Marie Antoinette's assets. But that doesn't mean the story doesn't matter.."

December 12, 2014

"Why is it OK for Sesame Street—a children's show, for goodness' sake—to make this kind of jest, but not Best Buy?"

"Well, even though Sesame Street is a business, it's also a nonprofit with plenty of accrued good faith and a long history of engaging in cultural commentary. Best Buy is a big company that sells electronics and exists to make money."

"A Designer’s Guide to Gift Giving."

"Identifying an unknown need requires curiosity and empathy — just like design research."
What do they value? Why? Look for patterns in the stuff they buy or own — what are they not getting for themselves? What will their experience be like once they have this gift? Can you imagine and feel how enriched their life will be once they have it?

"Charming guy charms reporter, later writes letter explaining he was trying to not be charming lest he be accused of trying to charm reporter."

A 1-sentence summary of the new episode of "Serial," which people seem to be getting tired of.

In a week that has resurfaced the Rolling Stone UVA story and condemnations of reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely who appeared to fudge her handling of sexual-assault allegations, [Sarah] Koenig shows us that she’s a journalist, first and foremost. A story can be sensational by nature, and can be a source of intrigue, but in the end, there are real costs. There are humans involved, with emotions and livelihoods and reputations. It's a journalist's frighteningly awesome job to collect these stories and tell them without bias, insofar as that’s possible. We're reminded that this sometimes means a story entails just plain, dry facts.

At the Let's Get Out of Here Café...


... it's long past lunchtime when you've been up since 4.

"Some leaders say consolidating four ethnic studies programs could save money..."

"... while others, including Political Science Professor Ben Marquez, the former Chican@ and Latin@ Studies chair, said it exemplified a greater pattern of marginalization...."
Marquez said he views consolidation as “a big push to just dump us into this ethnic studies trash can.... We’re always trying to make something out of nothing... We’ve been defunded, we’ve been neglected, we’ve been marginalized."

"I call on you to honor my three Osushi Groupon vouchers."

"I will argue that the City of Boston ought not renew such license to a restaurant that does not honor its contractual commitments."

That Harvard business professor, Ben Edelman, had another email exchange, one that hangs on the question whether a prix fixe constitutes an "offer" within the meaning of a Groupon deal that can't be used with other offers.

Maybe Edelman is in the middle of an elaborate project and in the end there will be a book in the tradition of "The Lazlo Letters."

At the Empty Wagon Café...


... you provide the content.

Predawn overblogging.

10 posts before 7 a.m.

"The girl’s family claimed she didn’t know about the arrangement her father made with her future husband..."

"If they told her, they feared, she would run away. A group of men from the tribe came to collect her and led her to a two-day ceremony in the village."

"Last week, Wikipedia’s highest court, the Arbitration Committee, composed of 12 elected volunteers who serve one- or two-year terms, handed down a decision in a controversial case..."

"... having to do with the site’s self-formed Gender Gap Task Force, the goal of which is to increase female participation on Wikipedia from its current 10 percent to 25 percent by the end of next year."

"It seems to me that men in France (if employed) are a content lot. I'm not saying that women are not."

"Why do I assign a higher level of contentedness to French men? Obviously not based on scientific data. But do, please look around you when you're in France.... Take this scene from breakfast: he told her stories with animation and passion the whole time I was at the cafe. She barely said a word. But she did nod and smile and give signs that she was listening and that she cared. For better or worse (in my opinion - probably worse), women still do appear to want to please men. They want to look good for them, for instance. You can tell (and literature confirms this). Whereas I can't really recall the last time I dressed with care for Ed's benefit. Women I know back home like to look good for themselves and not necessarily for some guy's approving glance."

Nina writes, from Paris, with a great photo take from behind the back of a man who is receiving the gaze of a beautiful woman who is sitting under a painting of a man with his back turned. Under the table, a dog gazes outward.

"The United States has 326 federally-recognized reservations, most in states that ban recreational marijuana."

"But whether reservations will become free zones for the drug depends on the decisions of tribal governments, many of which have struggled against drug and alcohol addiction within their borders."
The Hoopa Valley Tribe in California, for example, has enlisted the help of state police in ridding its ancestral lands of illegal pot grows for years. And the Yakama Nation of Washington, whose tribal lands cover 1.2 million acres, has actively fought statewide legalization, seeking to ban marijuana in all 10 counties of its ancestral lands — about a fifth of the state. As in California, tribal police have spent years chasing growers off of their reservation.

Not noticing the whole "Person of the Year" business.

I loathe Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" annual nonsense. Nevertheless, I'd always given it some thought as it approaches. Who will be Time's "Person of the Year"? I'd believed it was an irresistible question, best to confront, endure, and get past in preparation for the announcement. Then there's the announcement, and you briefly note and critique it and move on.

This morning — I don't know, something about waking up at 4 a.m. — it occurred to me to check who's considered to be in the running this year, and I was surprised to see the announcement had come a couple days ago.  I realized I'd seen pictures of the cover, but the image had not registered at a "Person of the Year" cover:

Who did the ebola fighters nudge out? The first runner-up seems to be "Ferguson Protesters, The Activists":
Protest is a performance that can make the unseen visible. In this angry epic, thousands found a role.... A black President who so often seems reluctant to talk about race was forced into the fray.... This outcry was better focused than Occupy, bigger than the one that followed the Trayvon Martin case.... But to many, it was hard to square the anger with the Molotov cocktails whistling through the night....
So... raise a Mazel Tov cocktail to the ebola fighters. How can that choice possibly cause complaint? The runner up who's an actual person — an individual — would have required too much of the patient, pedantic explanation that "Person of the Year" is not an endorsement.

Keep going with the uplift... and maybe I can finally actually, fully, and completely not notice Time's "Person of the Year."

"Get up, get up, get up, get up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up."

The photograph that sold for $6.5 Million.


Even as some people don't believe in phantoms, some don't believe in photography.

The Werner Herzog inspirational posters.

From Werner Herzog Inspirationals via Metafilter ("One of my favorite things is to do my own gloomy Herzog narrations about banal subjects. Only people who really like Werner Herzog understand how fun it is.").

"Avoid American themes."

From the Sony Powerpoint collection:

December 11, 2014

In Madison, a municipal courthouse wall is covered in excrement.

"So THIS was found in the courtroom this morning as we were trying to get ready for court! Someone has been in the courtroom, AGAIN, and defecated in the courtroom itself. When will SOMEONE do something about what is going on in this building???!!!"

"Hedgehog Inadvertently Plays a Respectable Measure of Jazz Just by Walking Atop Piano Keys."


"Thank you again and Molotov, Sincerely, Scott Walker."

Headslappingly stupid... or damn you, autocorrect?

The lassitude of white males.

Drudge sees what ails Hollywood:

At the Laughing Pumpkin Café...


... it's too late to cling to the past. Halloween was more than a month ago. And last Saturday was a conflagration ago


"One phrase that might work is 'red zone' — as in, 'Hey, we’re in a red zone,' or 'This is starting to feel too red zone.'"

"Descriptive and matter-of-fact, it would not implicitly assign aggressor and victim, but would flatly convey that danger — emotional, possibly legal — lay ahead."
Such a phrase could serve as a linguistic proxy for confronting or demanding, both options that can seem impossible in the moment. “We’re in a red zone” — the person who utters that is not a supplicant (“Please stop”); or an accuser (“I told you to stop!”). Many young women are uncomfortable in either of those roles; I know I was.

In an ideal world, clear consent will always precede sex... But in the imperfect world in which we live, new language....
New language ≈ Newspeak?

Do you know your Newspeak? A pop quiz: What were "goodsex" and "sexcrime"?

"There’s a home video of me at about age 5, where my mom asks if I want to sing a song. "

"I sing a couple verses of 'You Send Me.' Then I point out that it's really 'a grownup song.' Sam Cooke had clearly touched me from very early on. He had a light, warm, amiable quality that could appeal to a young child, while having the depth and maturity to appeal to adults. And he has a passion and feeling that’s allowed his music to endure for 50 years."

From my son John's post, a tribute to Sam Cooke, who died 50 years ago today. I've quoted the personal reminiscence part. The rest of the post analyzes the music, with 10 videos, including Cooke's moving response to the question "What is soul?" and... there's nothing better than this:

"He tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill and wound up being badly mauled by angry moles."

Said Bob Boyd, commenting in the thread about the Harvard professor's bizarre email exchange with the Chinese restaurateur.

And I said:
Why would moles get angry if you expressed the view that their hill was actually a mountain? I would think that they'd either feel chuffed or they'd feel neutral and simply agree that it's a mountain as far as they are concerned. What is a mountain to a mole? I say their molehill feels like a mountain and that which we call a mountain lies outside of the perception of a mole.
AND: Caved and made a tag for "moles." I'm delighted with the results of adding it retrospectively to old posts... because there are 2 kinds of moles. I'm allowing them to play together in what we might called a game of tag.

What's the larger number: dollars in the national debt or pieces of plastic floating in the ocean?

"Full scale of plastic in the world's oceans revealed for first time: Over five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans says most comprehensive study to date on plastic pollution around the world."

"The Outstanding Public Debt as of 11 Dec 2014 at 05:04:25 PM GMT is: $18,002,246,046,963.38."

There are 3.6 times as many dollars in the national debt as there are pieces of plastic floating in all of the oceans of the world — and most of those pieces of plastic are “micro plastics” measuring less than 5mm. For comparison purposes: all of the dollars measure 100¢.

"Long White Gloves for Bicycling."

"I love the speed, strength, and vitally you see in these young, mobile woman."

I love the sense of danger, the way their vision is obstructed to some unknown degree and the flowing drapery seems about to get caught in the chain.


... if you've got some on-line shopping to do, you can contribute to this blog by entering Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"You need to put the technology away, we're going outside. You're going to look at some trees."

Walking the land panoramas.

Blue Mounds panorama

Blue Mounds panorama

Yesterday, near Blue Mounds.

ADDED: Those are hard to see without clicking to enlarge. Here's a normal shot:

About that grouse.

"Before lawmakers could agree to a $1.1 trillion, last-minute deal to avoid shutting down the U.S. government, they first had to deal with a couple of birds. The result is a 1,603-page spending bill that includes a paragraph barring the Obama administration from approving endangered-species protections for two types of sage grouse, an imperiled, pheasant-like bird that is ruffling the petroleum industry’s feathers across the West by cohabiting on prime oil and gas land. Now environmentalists are squawking...."

Oklahoma boys training for rodeo make the New Yorker writer think about "a playground near my house in Brooklyn, in Park Slope."

"A couple of years ago, it was beautifully renovated by the city, with a rock-lined stream meandering through it and an old-fashioned pump that children could crank to set the water flowing. The stream was the delight of the neighborhood for a while, thronged with kids splashing through the shallows and floating sticks down the current. Yet some parents were appalled. The rocks were a menace, they declared. The edges were too sharp, the surfaces too slippery. A child could fall and crack her skull. 'I actually kept tapping them to check if they were really rocks,' one commenter wrote on the Park Slope Parents Web site. 'It seemed odd to me to have big rocks in a playground.' Within two weeks, a stonemason had been brought in to grind the edges down. The protests continued. One mother called a personal-injury lawyer about forcing the city to remove the rocks. Another suggested that something be done to 'soften' them. 'I am actually dreading the summer because of those rocks,' still another complained."

From "The Ride of Their Lives/Children prepare for the world’s most dangerous organized sport" by Burkhard Bilger.

"Here's Why Retailers Keep Sending You Catalogs."

Because they hate the environment?

According to NPR, it's because they help us dream.
"We look at them less as tools and more as magazines for our customers," says Felix Carbullido, chief marketing officer at Williams-Sonoma. "They've become more editorial. They've become more of a source book of ideas."...

That style you've seen portrayed in high-end catalogs is often a tableau: Maybe it's a couch, a bookcase, a couple of rugs, plants, sunlight streaming into a casually elegant room. Even if you're not buying, the retailers want you to keep dreaming. And that's one reason the catalogs keep coming.
Oh, that reminds me... here's the "The 2014 Hater's Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog":
In here, there is nothing but endless kitchen countertops, and meticulously arranged buffet spreads with pre-made bundt cakes (prep it a day early, and your party is a snap!) that have been drizzled just so with triple-butterscotch icing. There are fancy chocolates enrobed in other fancy chocolates. There are WHIMSICAL TINS (yes, the copy actually says that)...

Anyway, as a card-carrying white person, I have once again received this catalog in the mail....
White person! By the way, Williams-Sonoma isn't mentioned once in Stuff White People Like. I think the only catalog ever mentioned in Stuff White People Like is...

"The notion that the committee is trying to peddle that somehow the agency was operating on a rogue basis and that we weren't being told — that the president wasn't being told — is a flat-out lie.."

President Bush "knew everything he needed to know, and wanted to know... He knew the techniques... there was no effort on my part to keep it from him. He was fully informed."

Said Dick Cheney.

He also called the report "full of crap."

"What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?"

Sony Pictures chair Amy Pascal emailed Scott Rudin before some Jeffrey Katzenberg thing. (Katzenberg heads DreamWorks Animation, and Rudin is the producer behind "No Country for Old Men" and "Moneyball.") "Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Rudin: “12 YEARS.”

Is there much to learn from these leaked Sony emails? I linked to Buzzfeed, which calls Pascal "a major Democratic donor": "she gave $5,000 to Obama’s re-election campaign and cut a $30,800 check to the Democratic National Committee."

Elsewhere on Buzzfeed, we learn that Rudin calls Angelina Jolie "a minimally talented spoiled brat."

Is there something perversely pleasurable about seeing that these Hollywood people hate each other? Or was that always the presumption, and learning the details only taints you?

"Uber is growing so fast that safe hiring procedures can’t keep up with demand—so any and all potential drivers are recruited, even the creeps."

"In cities across the world, drivers have sexually harassed and even raped victims, as well as hit and killed children."
The crimes are egregious and indisputable. But the question remains, is Uber directly responsible for them? Its terms of service warns riders, “You expressly waive and release the company from any and all any liability… arising from or in any way related to the third party transportation provider.” That caveat hasn’t stopped victims from issuing lawsuits and entire countries banning the app entirely; however, the argument that the business has no connection with its employees’ abuses appears patently disingenuous.

Returning to the "Free Bread" café....

We were back out in Blue Mounds yesterday, walking the hills, and we decided to swing by the place where we'd shared a pizza last Saturday. My blog post only showed you this view:


Here's a shot I took indoors (with the camera accidentally on the "artistic" setting):


Yesterday, when we turned onto Division Street, we saw some police tape and a sign that said "Event Ahead." We pulled closer....


The Hazelnut Café burned up on Tuesday morning.

December 10, 2014

The president of Smith College apologizes for saying "all lives matter."

Why? Because the slogan is "black lives matter."
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, which first covered the story, quoted one Smith sophomore, Cecelia Lim, as saying, “it felt like she was invalidating the experience of black lives.”...

“I regret that I was unaware the phrase/hashtag 'all lives matter' has been used by some to draw attention away from the focus on institutional violence against Black people,” [Smith College president Kathleen McCartney wrote].... “It minimizes the anti-blackness of this the current situation; yes, all lives matter, but not all lives are being targeted for police brutality. The black students at this school deserve to have their specific struggles and pain recognized, not dissolved into the larger student body."

"The worse consequence of a partisan report can be seen in this disturbing fact: It contains no recommendations."

"This is perhaps the most significant missed opportunity, because no one would claim the program was perfect or without its problems. But equally, no one with real experience would claim it was the completely ineffective and superfluous effort this report alleges."

Writes Bob Kerrey, a Democrat who served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for 8 years. (Kerrey was also a Navy SEAL, and he won the Medal of Honor heroism in the Vietnam War.)

Dollree Mapp, the Mapp of Mapp v. Ohio.

An obituary for the woman who demanded a search warrant in 1957.
Ms. Mapp told the officers that she wanted to see a search warrant. They did not produce one. A few hours later, more officers arrived and forced their way into the house. Ms. Mapp called her lawyer and again asked to see a warrant. When one officer held up a piece of paper that he said was a warrant, Ms. Mapp snatched it and stuffed it into her blouse. The officer reached inside her clothing and snatched it back.

The officers handcuffed Ms. Mapp — they called her “belligerent” — and then searched her bedroom, where they paged through a photo album and personal papers. They also searched her young daughter’s room, the kitchen, a dining area and the basement.

They did not find the man they were looking for, but they did find what they said were sexually explicit materials — books and drawings that Ms. Mapp said had belonged to a previous boarder — and they arrested Ms. Mapp.
The 4th Amendment violation, applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment, required exclusion of the evidence, the Supreme Court said in 1961.

"A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment. The gifted item should not be owned by the recipient."

The first 2 sentences of the woefully brief Wikipedia entry for "Gift."

I guess the article could be expanded with more sentences about what a gift is not, but I wanted some elaboration of the history of gifts and gifts in different cultures. There is a list under the heading "Custom, on occasions (often celebrations) such as..." and this has some useful items like potlatch and lagniappe, but it ends (inappropriately, I'd say) with: "Ironically, gift giving also refers to an HIV negative person consensually receiving the HIV virus. See Bugchasing."

Anyway, in case you were wondering, it's not really a gift if the thing is already owned by the recipient. But who hasn't felt the urge find to wrap up something in the house and put it under the tree, to be opened by the the person who already owns it on Christmas Day? Works great for people who say they already have everything they want and people who have forgotten the value of the things they already have.

ADDED: One of the many definitions of "gift" in the Oxford English Dictionary is: "A white speck on the finger-nails, supposed to portend a gift." (1708   Brit. Apollo No. 17. 2/1   Q. What is the Cause of little white Spots, which sometimes grow under the Nails of the Fingers? And what is the reason they say they are Gifts? A. The reason of their being call'd Gifts is as Wise an one as that of Letters, Winding Sheets, &c. in a Candle.")

Accidental surrealism...

... via iPhone panorama photography.

"Some of the most disturbing, subtle, insidious, racist comments I’ve seen over the past few weeks have been from my white male Facebook friends."

"I know a lot of my friends are just mass defriending people, but I’m not quite there yet, because I’m (foolishly, naively) hoping I can reach some of you in a way that creates some kind of change."

There's a lot of mass defriending going on, but this one benevolent lady is willing to patiently explain what you need to do to save yourself.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven mass defriendment is at hand...

"Is it fair to say that you’re scared of having sex?"

One of many questions — serious questions — for the 58-year-old virgin. His answer:
I think so. I worry if I will be able to bring pleasure to my mate? Will I be a complete drag? I’m scared of getting rejected afterwards and also just not knowing what to do. I might not measure up to her expectations. I think there must be some sort of learning curve involved in it before it becomes fun. Any activity requires practice before you are really going to enjoy it.
"Do you think you have a fear of relationships as well?"
Yes. I’ve seen firsthand how bad marriage can be. So many people are just focused on their own needs. I consider myself damaged enough, emotionally, to never be able to function in a relationship. I think you need a certain amount of stability to cope with the dynamics.  I can’t handle criticism and lack the social skills to relate to another person intimately. I have such low self-esteem; I can’t take it when someone says something mean to me.
That's at New York Magazine, which prompts us to check out "related stories": "What It’s Like to Have a Micropenis" ("I don’t hate my poor little penis. It’s fine as far as I am concerned, but it’s not terribly good at getting on with the rest of the world") and "What It’s Like to Date a Horse" ("So, she chooses to come with me, and I leave her food and she puts her head on my chest and we snuggle and I whisper sweet nothings in her ear and rub her cheeks — what she likes.").

"I'll bring gifts, like you never saw/Priceless garments that you'll adore/Persian rugs to enhance your floor/For the pleasures of love..."

That's Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America 1959, in the 1965 Elvis movie "Harum Scarum." She has died at the age of 75.

"Harum Scarum" was filmed on the set Cecil B. DeMille used for the 1927 movie "The King of Kings" and uses some of the story from the 1921 Rudolph Valentino movie "The Sheik."  

"Harum Scarum" was the only Elvis movie I ever saw in the theater. This was 1965, a year after "Hard Day's Night," where money can't buy you love.

We were free, in the modern world, so what the hell was Elvis doing? He was so ridiculous. We went to the movie to laugh at him. We were like George Harrison, turning down the sound and saying rude things. We'd seen an ad in the teen magazines for "Harum Scarum" and had taken to saying "Harum Scarum" just to make each other laugh.

It seemed so funny that we thought it would be fun to watch the movie as a joke. But it was dreadfully boring. Anyway, the ad is still hilarious — the phallic symbols, the ethnic nonsense, the absurd image of 1950s Elvis blithely unaware — he thinks he's "swingin'" — as Elvis in a Sheik costume is about to poke him in the ass with a knife. As for Mary Ann, she's down there somewhere amongst the little people at his feet. If it's supposed to be a harem, they can't give one woman prominence. So stick her down there between 1950s Elvis's legs, and — because you can't have too many Elvises — put another Elvis down there. "It's Elvis" say the letters across the top, bigger than the movie title. And what was the point of misspelling "harem"? It's not as if matching "scarum" was the idea, "scarum" being a misspelling of "scare 'em." And "You won't believe it when you see it!" Why the hell not? What could possibly be hard to believe about a dumb Elvis movie. He's in a costume? There are a lot of "harem" girls for him? After seeing the damned thing, we said: "You won't believe it when you see it? You won't believe how boring it is."

But that was a half century ago, and so long, Mary Ann.

December 9, 2014

"Glib, thoughtless . . . uninformed . . . mean and insulting . . . uncalled for in any contest . . . demeaning . . . inexcusable arrogance.”

Gruber, describing himself.

Lesson 10.

We arrive at the last page of my notebook of instructions on how to draw/paint like Paul Klee — written at this 2002 exhibition. There are only 2 instructions, and I can only find an image for the second one. It's easy when there is a title, and in the case of the one without the title, kind of impossible.
• Incise lines of city-book/garden/book in thick impasto color patchwork.

• Slather white gesso on dark paper & write "Secret Letters" in charcoal.
Below is the scan of the page. I don't think the drawing at the bottom is a copy of anything, just an effort to practice the use of a horizontal lines to develop a form. The book continues with similar experiments, but no more written instructions.

"If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a Harvard Business School professor thinks a family-run Chinese restaurant screwed him out of $4..."

"... you’re about to find out."

IN THE COMMENTS: Meade writes: "I agree with the professor. He did the right thing. Most people wouldn't bother. He was doing the business owner a big favor and the owner blew it." And in person, he says: "You fell for click bait."

ALSO IN THE COMMENTS:  Robert Cook said:
I think the professor was right to question the price difference, and he should have accepted the offer of a $4.00 refund. That he insisted on a "3x" refund--$12.00--and kept escalating a minor matter in this way just shows him up as an entitled shit.
I responded:
If a business systematically overcharges everyone but give a refund and only a refund to any customer who: 1. Notices and 2. Confronts, there's no disincentive. This is why class actions were invented. You can make a lot of money taking small amounts from a lot of people. The remedy needs to be more than the small amount that gives back what you took from only one person.

I think this reality is hard to see because a Harvard professor is such a ripe target, and his tenaciousness in making his point is so unusual and so displayable on line.
The most interesting sentence in the correspondence between the professor and the restauranteur is: "The more you try to claim your restaurant was not at fault, the more determined I am to seek a greater sanction against you." 

ADDED: Even where the customer noticed and confronted, this restaurateur's first move was to say only that the website was "out of date for quite some time" and he'd "make sure to update it." I think many customers would simply back off and say something like "Thanks, I'm glad I could help you, and by the way, I really do love your restaurant." The professor teaches the law here, and there is a Massachusetts law that makes it "a serious violation to advertise one price and charge a different price." Do we believe in this kind of law or don't we? If we don't and we think the professor is a prick for being a stickler about it, then get rid of the law and stop burdening business owners with the appearance that there are rules that must be followed.

Have you been watching enough YouTube?

If so you'll get all the references:

If not, you can click on the links here and see what you missed that other people found so contagious.

No! Macadamia! Nuts! In a bag! EVERRRR!!!!

It's the Korean Air equivalent of No! Wire! Hangers!

IN THE COMMENTS: Balfegor said:
This is Korea! When the royal family of one of the Hanjin chaebol wants something done you do it without asking questions or you'll never work in this country again.

Or you can go protest, I suppose. But a Korean-style protest, where you're just protesting (even if violently), as opposed to American-style protesting, which is simultaneously an opportunity for idle performance artists to inflict their performance art on the public for the benefit of news crews, and for criminals to bash in store windows and steal whatever isn't locked down.

ALL THAT SAID -- I kind of agree with the princess's attitude here. Korean Air distinguishes itself with its high standard of customer service -- better than the international standard. This incident was in the first class cabin (which I have never flown -- I've only flown business and economy on KAL), but their cabin attendants are excellent even in economy class. It's a real asset for their brand, particularly given that Korea in general has a real problem with poor customer service. Even in luxury hotels, I've found that the attitude/competence of the staff are hugely variable. Despite the extraordinary attention paid to minute distinctions of rank and displays of deference, that culture of customer service towards the average customer just hasn't developed. Powerful people get excellent service in Korea, of course (which is why not getting top class service if you think you ought to be treated as a powerful person is like a double insult). But for the average consumer, the service is really more miss than hit in my experience. Chaebol punishing their peons when they fail to give good service to customers (i.e. us) is the kind of thing that needs to happen if Korea wants to distinguish itself in the service sector.

"In place of the WWII aviator who narrated the book, the film’s hero is a little girl in a headband, plagued by her math homework in the modern day."

"The core story of the book—which has the pilot wandering the desert for eight days with the Prince, basically hearing all about the ecosystem of his home asteroid and his love for a rose that grows there—is sent to her by an eccentric, lonely older neighbor. This new, modern spin emphasizes that these bits are magically realist—they are shot with what looks like computer-rendered Claymation—and develops a new emotional plot, which has a friendship unfolding between old man and young girl."


IN THE COMMENTS: Birches said: "I was prepared to hate the trailer. But I think it could work. Obviously, the movie is not Le Petit Prince. It's a movie about how reading Le Petit Prince can change your heart. Perhaps they should have named it The Prince and I."

The Prince and I? Isn't that this?

To President Taft!

Q: "If there are fewer elderly people, particularly poor elderly people, wouldn't that save a ton of money too?... And do you understand the dangerous implications of going down this path?"

A: I have no philosophy of abortion. I have no philosophy of end-of-life care.... My job as an economist is to deliver the empirical facts so that you all can make the necessary decisions."

Bob Dylan doesn't cover songs. He uncovers them.

"I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What [my band and I] are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day."

"The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogation of terrorists, prepared only by the Democratic majority staff, is a missed opportunity..."

"... to deliver a serious and balanced study of an important public policy question. The committee has given us instead a one-sided study marred by errors of fact and interpretation—essentially a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks," say former CIA Directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden (a retired Air Force general), and former CIA Deputy Directors John E. McLaughlin, Albert M. Calland (a retired Navy vice admiral) and Stephen R. Kappes.
First, its claim that the CIA’s interrogation program was ineffective in producing intelligence that helped us disrupt, capture, or kill terrorists is just not accurate....

The second significant problem with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is its claim that the CIA routinely went beyond the interrogation techniques as authorized by the Justice Department. That claim is wrong....

Third, the report’s argument that the CIA misled the Justice Department, the White House, Congress, and the American people is also flat-out wrong....

Fourth, the majority left out something critical to understanding the program: context....

"Put on your overshoes. There's manure out there."

Something Meade's maternal grandmother used to say. Quoted earlier this morning, in a conversation about life on the farm in the 1950s. Recalled now, after a morning of blogging.

"A decade of her feminist mom subverting the dominant paradigm, and she asks me this."

At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams handwrings over something her 10-year-old daughter said: "If Daddy made more money, you wouldn't work, right?"
What unnerves me is realizing that somehow, my own daughter has picked up on the idea that for a mother to not work is the optimum situation, the one that, if money were no object, of course one would choose. And what I resent is the prevailing public narrative that there are exactly three kinds of working mothers... the blindly ambitious... the poor, financially strapped mom... the rich dabbler....
Williams's job is writer, so I'm going to take her writing seriously.  She "resent[s] the prevailing public narrative that there are exactly three kinds of working mothers." Resentment is an awfully strong response to the existence of 3 — 3 and only 3 — categories in something as amorphous as "the prevailing public narrative." How can something that fluid have "exactly" anything?

"Maybe you should lay off this grieving widower because your need to reproduce with him before the 'other predatory females' get their claws in makes me shudder."

"If you’re friends with this man, you send a condolence note. Put out of your mind that you’re about to make a move, and stay friends and stay in touch. If he’s interested that will become clear when he’s ready. If you really have respect for this man, you will respect his loss and his grief."

You will respect his loss and grief and hope like hell that he doesn't read the advice column in Slate. (Or that he has a strong and somewhat perverted sense of humor.... but that wasn't really what you loved about him, was it?)

"But to suggest that this Senate report will really tip the scales when it comes to the United States’ enemies rallying support..."

"... you have to believe that the following exchange is happening somewhere in the Middle East."

Intro to a dialog between "Abdul" and "Ahmed," imagined by international politics prof Dan Drezner.

"The Rise and Fall of Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge, America’s Worst Gay Power Couple/Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge have always been entitled brats. And now the media has finally noticed."

Headline at The Daily Beast for an article by James Kirchick. I've been following the TNR shakeup, but I'd lost track of the notion that we were supposed to think of Chris Hughes as specifically gay (if I'd ever noticed that). I don't think I've ever noticed the name Sean Eldridge. What's going on here? The Daily Beast is a good love-me-I'm-a-liberal* publication.

What's up with fixating on a person's sexual orientation at the point when you've got a substantive complaint about them?

It seems to have something to do with the way they were presented in the media as a wonderful gay version of the power couple. That was a couple years ago, and it had to do with parties (a big wedding) and real estate (a $5 million SoHo loft) and parties in the real estate (fundraisers for Democratic Party candidates). I guess there was something cool about having it be a gay couple doing these otherwise utterly banal rich-person things.

As long as Hughes hews to the functions he's good for, he's good and in calling him good, good liberals loved to praise him not just as a man but as a gay man. So... when you don't like what he's doing, suddenly, he's not just bad, he's a bad gay

Kirchick calls him "a deeply insecure man" with "a heavy burden to prove his self, not to mention net, worth." Now, Kirchick is mainly talking about how Hughes just got lucky making all his millions at Facebook, because, you know, he couldn't really code. He handled the "social" side of the business, and the non-coding side of things is... what?... woman's work? Kirchick doesn't come out and say it. He doesn't specifically say that the part of the Facebook business that Hughes handled was effeminate and that the real men knew how to code and the social business is gay. He doesn't say that Hughes is deeply insecure about his manhood, only that Hughes is "a deeply insecure man."

Well, Kirchick, if that's not your insinuation, why talk about his sexual orientation at all?

Kirchick says they wouldn't have been fawned over if they were "heterosexual and conservative": "The prospect of a fresh-faced, conventionally liberal, gay couple hit every media sweet spot." But that's a critique of media. About Hughes (and Eldridge), he says:
They are little more than entitled brats who, like most fabulously wealthy arrivistes who attain their fortunes through sheer luck rather than hard work, are used to getting everything they want, when they want it, and throw temper tantrums when they don’t.
Temper tantrums? Is there a whiff of homophobia there? How is Hughes throwing a temper tantrum? The 11 editors who abruptly quit TNR seem more to be throwing a tantrum. Hughes is applying his vision to the magazine operation he bought. How does that count as acting "entitled" and not doing hard work? He used his money to buy something, and ownership IS entitlement. He possesses the title to property that he didn't steal, he bought. He's a brat? Well, I get it that Kirchick thinks he's a brat because he's not dispensing his wealth in the manner expected of a good little liberal, but that complaint has nothing to do with his gayness, unless a higher level of obedience is expected of gay people.

* Remember the great old Phil Ochs song "Love Me, I'm a Liberal"? Meade just reminded me that The New Republic is mentioned in that song:
I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the Democratic Party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
I'll send all the money you ask for.... There's where Chris Hughes went wrong.  Well, I hope he busts loose and does interesting things now that the Being Loved gig is over.

"How could an author and a publisher — ... of a self-described memoir, not a work of fiction — describe a supposed rape by a person..."

"... give a (relatively rare) first name and enough identifying details that readers could easily track the person down, and not even mention that 'Barry' wasn’t this person’s real name?" asks Eugene Volokh.
Say even that [Lena] Dunham had forgotten that there really was a prominent Oberlin conservative named Barry back then. Surely it was obviously possible that, if one makes up a first name, someone real, who matches the other easily Google-findable characteristics, might have that name. Given the gravity of the charge, how can one possibly rely on a statement on the copyright page as the only hint that this particular item in the memoir is inaccurate?
One answer to these questions is that Dunham wanted to hurt the real man named Barry and chose to take the risk that she might at some point lose a lawsuit. The risk could have seemed worth it because:

1. Real Man Named Barry would first have to expose himself and connect his real name to the nasty statements and assert that they are intended to be about him. He might shut up and endure the abuse (or even relax and enjoy it (Lena noticed me!)).

2. The defense is likely/somewhat likely to work: She didn't use the man's full name and she changed some details (like adding a mustache).

3. Free speech! The sympathy will go her way if she's actually sued. Memoirists should not have to worry about using first names and making things up. The best people will probably cluster around her. Who wants more defamation lawsuits in this age of free expression? This is America, baby!

4. Fame, glorious fame! Say my name! Spell it right: L-E-N-A-D-U-N-H-A-M. No such thing as bad publicity. With a news hook, everyone will always talk about MEEEEEEEEEE!

December 8, 2014

At the Free Bread Café...


... there's no free bread when the sign is in that position.

This is an open thread, so discuss anything you want. And if you've got some shopping to do, please consider entering Amazon through The Althouse Portal.

"On December 8, a great musical artist’s life tragically ended when he was not yet 40 years old..."

"... shot by a murderer who’s euphemistically referred to as 'a crazed fan.' A great guitarist and composer, who must have had plenty more great music to give to the world, although his legendary band for which he'll be best remembered had already broken up. I feel honored to have gotten the chance to see him live in concert. The world lost one of the greatest metal guitarists 10 years ago today."

A tribute to Dimebag Darrell.  Lots of music and musical analysis at the link, which goes to my son John's blog. (And by the way, I attended that Pantera concert of which he speaks).

AND: Here are my posts from 10 years ago: "Metal Massacre" and "The death of Darrell Abbott." I wrote the second post because reader had commented to say he was amazed that I'd gone to a Pantera concert.

"It seemed like a critical juncture in my young life: we were either going to sleep with John [Lennon] and his sidekick (whose name we never knew)..."

"... or we were going to throw them out. Lori threw them out. I was incredulous...."
“What’re we…crazy?” I shrieked to Lori. “Do you realize who we just forced to leave? John Lennon!”

Lori could have taught a Ph.D. course in one-night stands and kinky sex. Why did she decide to be so damn moral that night?

“His friend was a pig,” she said, and then suddenly started having misgivings....
Some year — it's the death date again — every last story about John Lennon will have dribbled out.

"Apparently, two male customers ordered their sandwiches with diced onions, but when the sandwiches were presented the onions were not diced."

"The argument escalated until one of the men reached into the pocket of his friend's jacket 'pulled out a snake and threw it behind the counter.'"

"The larger question of whether victims of rape should remain anonymous is a complicated one."

"The initial rationale for anonymity was to afford victims a measure of protection and prevent them from feeling more shame and self-loathing than they already felt. But as Joan Didion explained in 'Sentimental Journeys,' her essay about the Central Park jogger, this anonymity also had an element of the self-fulfilling, 'guiding the victim to define her assault as her protectors do.' In other words, if rape were defined as more shame-inducing than other crimes, then the victims would continue to experience it as more shameful."

Writes Hanna Rosin in "Trolls Are Outing UVA’s 'Jackie.' That’s Rolling Stone’s Fault Too."

"This is what you can expect from us until it stops."

From "Berkeley, Calif., protest gets violent for second night."
A roaming crowd of 300-400 protesters moved between the Oakland border on Telegraph Ave. and downtown Berkeley.... Groups of protesters set trash cans on fire and lobbed objects at storefronts, looting some. The Cal Student Store's window was cracked, two bank fronts were vandalized and two cell-phone carrier stores were damaged....

The protesters marched through downtown Berkeley to the heavily barricaded police station, holding their hands in the air. They then walked a few blocks to Berkeley Civic Center, where they crowded the steps and chanted, "the whole damn system is as guilty as hell."

"I choose to believe Jackie. I lose nothing by doing so..."

"... even if I’m later proven wrong – but at least I will still be able to sleep at night for having stood by a young woman who may have been through an awful trauma. No matter how the media story ends, or what we come to know, there is a reason that people believed and continue to believe Jackie: There are so many people – too many people – who report similar attacks."

Writes Jessica Valenti in this morning's Guardian.

I choose to believe because I lose nothing by doing so...

Kind of like Pascal's wager, no?

"'I'm getting coils over me,' the naturalist could be heard saying as his helmet camera captured the inside of the snake's jaws."

"'She's got my arms pinned. She knows there's nothing I can do.' He then exclaimed: 'Oh god,' prompting his concerned wife to ask: 'Paul, are you ok?' Several tense seconds later, Mr Rosolie replied: 'I'm ok', yet his heart rate had noticeably increased. 'Paul, your heart rate is getting pretty high and your breathing is really labored,' one of the team members could be heard telling him. He replied: 'I'm trying to stay calm.... Stand by guys, I'm starting to feel like she's consuming me.' The snake then opened its mouth and latched on to Mr Rosolie's head. Mr Rosolie exclaimed: 'Guys, my face is down,' before shouting: 'I'm calling it, I need help!' as he feels his arm starting to break under the anaconda's grip."

Eaten-alive-by-a-snake-guy bails out early.

"Law has nothing to do with science."

"It involves making and applying rules of conduct; the rules are based on legislative and other political decisions, common sense, societal values, judges’ personal preferences, intuition, rhetoric—not logical or scientific rigor."

Said Judge Richard Posner, answering the question "In what ways, if any, does it make sense to speak of the study of law as the study of legal science?"

Question: Do you think constitutional law should be taught in the first year? If so, why? If not, why not?

Posner:  Absolutely not. It’s a terrible field, dreadfully politicized.
Later: "Most published legal scholarship is ephemeral, especially in constitutional law, an analytically weak and excessively politicized field." And: "Law is an interesting and important field, but it is also a weak field, and this limits the potential of academic law." And:
Question: There seems to be no end to scholarship on originalism, be it of the liberal or conservative variety. Why do you suppose that is and what is your opinion on the matter?

Posner: It’s an aspect of the preoccupation of the legal academic community with the Supreme Court, for it is mainly in relation to constitutional provisions that the debate over originalism rages. The preoccupation has very little value, and originalism is largely a fake, concealing the political preferences that drive most constitutional adjudication, owing to the political stakes and the extreme vagueness of key constitutional provisions.
And Posner expresses regret that his own scholarship has been "[e]xcessively conservative, and insufficiently attentive to psychology and to the politicization of much of law."

"I didn’t buy the New Republic to be the conservator of a small print magazine whose long-term influence and survival were at risk."

"I came to protect the future of the New Republic by creating a sustainable business so that our journalism, values and voice — the things that make us singular — could survive. I’ve never bought into the Silicon Valley outlook that technological progress is pre-ordained or good for everyone...," writes Chris Hughes, defending himself after 11 of TNR's editors quit in solidarity with the ousting of Frank Foer and Leon Wieseltier.
At the heart of the conflict of the past few days is a divergent view on how the New Republic — and journalism more broadly — will survive. In one view, it is a “public trust” and not a business. It is something greater than a commercial enterprise, ineffable, an ideal that cannot be touched. Financially, it would be a charity....

Former editors and writers who claim in an open letter that the New Republic should not be a business would prefer an institution that looks backward more often than forward.... Unless we experiment now, today’s young people will not even recognize the New Republic’s name nor care about its voice when they arrive in the halls of power tomorrow....

If you really care about an institution and want to make it strong for the ages, you don’t walk out. You roll up your sleeves, you redouble your commitment to those ideals in a changing world, and you fight. This 100-year-old story is worth fighting for.
Eh. I'm not that sympathetic with the old guard, but Hughes sounds so hollow and childish. Today’s young people... arrive in the halls of power tomorrow.... Wouldn't you go out of your mind if your 100-year-old journal were taken over by a 30-year-old billionaire who talked to you like that? And to taunt them for not thinking TNR is worth fighting for when they sacrificed their livelihood for the principles they believed in! Even if their principles are elitist and entitled... they are fighting. Hughes, by contrast, is flailing.

ADDED: When I read what the writers who quit write, arguments for Hughes spring to mind and I lean toward his side. When I read what Hughes writes, arguments for the writers spring to mind, and I lean toward their side. That's kind of funny, considering that they are fighting over who should control a journal dedicated to persuasion.

Credulous journalist ponders why journalists are so credulous.

Well, this is rich. I'd never noticed the name Terrence McCoy until yesterday. A tweet of his — featuring a patently defective graph — was embedded at an Atlantic article titled "The Rolling Stone Fiasco Is Terrible News for Rape Survivors." His tweet said "Let's be clear about one thing. Fraudulent accusations of rape are extraordinarily rare. This graph proves it." I used that absurd kicker "This graph proves it" as the title for my post.

Later in the day, I see that the tweet doesn't display, so I go to Twitter, find Terrence McCoy's Twitter feed, and I say:
I'm surprised to see he's a Washington Post Foreign Affairs Reporter. He's got a new tweet that says: "Just read more into the Enliven graph. It was a misleading graph. I've since taken it down." He links to a January 2013 WaPo article about the graph "Patrick Pexton: A flawed image of rape on Wonkblog":
... On Jan. 7, an infographic citing rape statistics appeared on Wonkblog in a post written by Dylan Matthews, who came to The Post last year after graduating from Harvard....

The blog post generated a lot of Web hits for The Post and the Enliven Project. It stirred controversy and discussion of sexual violence. But it damaged Wonkblog’s credibility, and that of The Post, and harmed the legitimate issue of addressing violence against women.

Real reporting takes time, analysis, and inquiry. Post bloggers need to be more careful.
This morning, I look at The Washington Post, notice the latest coverage of the Rolling Stone story ("The epic Rolling Stone gang-rape fallout — and how major publications get it wrong"), and I'm amazed/amused to see the byline: Terrence McCoy!
Among the first to perceive cracks in the facade of Rolling Stone’s piece on campus gang rape was editor Richard Bradley. On Nov. 24, days before The Washington Post reported problems with the piece and Rolling Stone confessed its failings, Bradley said he smelled something fishy. “I’m not convinced that this gang rape actually happened,” he wrote. “Something about this story doesn’t feel right.”

He should know. He once edited Stephen Glass, the notorious fabulist who authored a series of made-up stories for the New Republic and other publications....

Journalists pride themselves on their skepticism. But this one, Bradley said, passed his smell-test because it exploited pre-existing biases...
Just like the way that Enliven graph was the slam-dunk shut-up-already proof that false accusations of rape are extraordinarily rare.
“Stephen wrote what he knew I was inclined to believe,” Bradley wrote on his blog. “And because I was inclined to believe it, I abandoned my critical judgement. I lowered my guard.”....

“One must be most critical about stories that play into existing biases,” he wrote. “And this story nourishes a lot of them: biases against fraternities, against men, against the South; biases about the naivete of young women, especially Southern women; pre-existing beliefs about the prevalence — indeed, the existence — of rape culture; extant suspicions about the hostility of university bureaucracies to sexual assault complaints that can produce unflattering publicity.”...

“The lesson I learned,” wrote the editor Bradley, is that “One must be most critical, in the best sense of that word, about what one is already inclined to believe.”
Not a word about McCoy's own embarrassment over yesterday's tweet.

The expression "fake but accurate" is really all we need to understand the problem, and it's pathetic that journalists at the WaPo level haven't fully internalized the lessons of these old scandals. Tweeting one day and cogitating over the general problem the next — it's so sloppy, so lazy, so stupid.

By the way, the phrase "fake but accurate" only comes up once in a search of the Washington Post archive, and it was not in the context of self-criticism. They were excoriating "This American Life." WaPo has done a fine job leading the way in dismantling the Rolling Stone's big story. But that was making click bait out of their competitor's click bait. I need to see self-criticism to believe I'm witnessing any commitment to journalistic ethics. McCoy's piece today only makes me feel more skeptical, because he's writing about journalism in the abstract and what other people have done wrong, and I saw what he did yesterday.

ADDED: I must stress that when McCoy took down his tweet, he shifted the blame away from himself, saying: "Just read more into the Enliven graph. It was a misleading graph. I've since taken it down." He didn't just take down the graph. He took down his own mistakenly self-assured statement: "Let's be clear about one thing. Fraudulent accusations of rape are extraordinarily rare. This graph proves it." It wasn't just "a misleading graph" by Enliven. It was a misleading assertion by a journalist. If he's done a mea culpa for that, I haven't seen it.

"If you don't live here and feel no responsibility for supporting the country, why would anyone care if you decide to renounce your citizenship?"

"There are plenty of people in the world who WANT to be Americans. Many of them come here, contribute to the country and want to become citizens. Those are the real Americans, not the folks who inherited the moniker but seem to think they have no responsibility for the contributing anything to the country."

That's the second-most-liked comment at a NYT op-ed by Jonathan Tepper, who's giving up his American citizenship because "the burden and cost of onerous financial reporting and tax filing requirements... are neither fair nor just." ("The I.R.S. doesn’t tax the first $97,600 of foreign earnings, and usually doesn’t double-tax the same income. So most expatriates owe no money to the I.R.S. each year — and yet many of us have to pay thousands of dollars to accountants because the rules are so hard to follow.")

December 7, 2014

Face in the rock.


1. Talk about anything you want in the comments.

2. If you need to shop, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.

If you have the widow on your show, you have to let her talk, whether it fits the theme you have planned or not.

Esaw Snipes-Garner, the widow of Eric Garner, was on "Meet the Press" today. The moderator, Chuck Todd, mostly just asked her how does she feel.
I feel that he was murdered unjustly. I really don't feel like it's a black and white thing. I feel like it's just something that he continued to do and the police knew. You know, they knew. It wasn't like it was a shock. They knew. You know? They knew him by name. They harassed us. They said things to us. We would go shopping. You know? "Hi Cigarette Man. Hey Cigarette Man Wife." You know? Stuff like that. And I would just say, "Eric, just keep walking. Don't say anything. Don't respond. You know? Don't give them a reason to do anything to you." And he just felt like, "But baby, they keep harassing me." And I said, "Just ignore them, Eric." And he said, "But how much can I ignore them?" And I would say, "Just stay away from the block. You know? Just find something else to do." And he's like, "What else can I do? I keep getting sick." He tried working with the Parks Department. But he had asthma. You know? He had issues. You know? Heavy guy. And he was very lazy. You know? He didn't like to do anything. He wasn't used to it, so.

How Hillary Clinton turns "a crashing banality" into something "highly controversial."

On Fox News Sunday this morning, reacting to Hillary's statement about "Showing respect even for one's enemies, trying to understand and insofar as psychologically possible empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems to determine the solutions":
George Will: The English language is not Hillary Clinton's close friend. She's just not a fluent speaker. And we're going to have a lot of experience with these — we've had it already, we're going to have a lot more going forward. She thinks — what she was saying was a crashing banality in the most artless way possible, she's saying we ought to try and understand the other guy, get inside his mind, understand his motivation. Fine, that's how you say it. Instead she had to talk about a kind of gaseous new-age rhetoric about respect and empathy and all of this. She was saying nothing particularly controversial, but she was saying it in an unfortunate way.

Brit Hume: She meant to say something uncontroversial and ended up saying something highly controversial, just as she did a few weeks ago when she said you know, don't let anybody tell you that it's businesses and corporations that create jobs....

At the Blue Mounds Café...


... take the long view.

"Police use tear gas on Berkeley protesters."

Last night.
At Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue about 7:30 p.m., the marchers were face-to-face with a line of about 100 police in riot gear who turned the crowd back toward downtown, more than a mile to the east.

“You’re f—ing cowards,” screamed one skateboard-carrying young man, his face hidden by a black bandanna. “You don’t represent us,” a woman shouted at police.

“This is supposed to be about stopping violence,” said Francesca Rivera of Berkeley, who was marching with the protesters. “There seem to be a number of very young people who don’t [know] how to channel their violence.”

"So what’s it like, this worst college? What criteria put it there?"

"The compiler [of the ranking], Ben Miller, a former senior policy advisor in the Department of Education, explained in the Washington Monthly that they were looking for colleges that ‘charge students large amounts of money to receive an education so terrible that most drop out before graduation.’ Actually, Shimer topped a list that was adjusted for race and income. So a truer description is that it’s the worst college in America that doesn’t have many students of color or low-income students."

From "Shimer College: the worst school in America?"

The author, Jon Ronson, visits the school, which turns out to be one of those "great books" programs:

"And the more they drank, the longer they lived...."

The more coffee they drank...

That article, in The Atlantic, led me to look up "coffee" in the OED. Among the coffee quotes, this, from Alexander Pope: "Coffee, (which makes the politician wise/And see through all things with his half-shut eyes)."

"Moments before she was to be executed, Mary asked if her ladies-in-waiting could remove her black dress."

"At first, the executioner demurred, but when she asked again he allowed it. Beneath her black dress, she was wearing all red: a crimson velvet petticoat, sleeves, and satin bodice, matching her auburn hair."

From "Seeing Red/How the color of passion, romance, and anger can influence behavior."

If Obama's "symptoms are consistent with soft tissue inflammation related to acid reflux and will be treated accordingly," does that mean he has acid reflux?

"Obama, 53, went to Walter Reed military hospital for a fiber optic exam of his throat and since swelling was detected, doctors decided to perform a CT scan as well... The CT scan was normal."

Am I right to think that the reason for the hospital trip was to exclude throat cancer? Does a normal CT scan mean there is no cancer? As someone with legal expertise, I see the weaseling in "consistent with soft tissue inflammation related to acid reflux." So I'm especially interested in comments from readers with medical expertise.

Don't tell Instapundit.

Look at the Word of the Day today at Urban Dictionary.

(Search results at Instapundit.)

"This graph proves it."

Let's be clear about one thing. Fraudulent accusations of rape are extraordinarily rare. This graph proves it.— Terrence McCoy (@terrence_mccoy) December 5, 2014

Image at the Atlantic article "The Rolling Stone Fiasco Is Terrible News for Rape Survivors/When sexual assault reports turn out to be inaccurate—even slightly so—nobody wins."

The chart is puzzling:
As the chart above, from The Enliven Project, shows, only about 2 to 8 percent of rape claims turn out to be fabricated, but those that are echo in the media and in public discourse for seemingly much longer than the true ones do.
The 2 figures down there in the lower right corner are necessarily within the category of persons who've been falsely accused. The light brown figures are all rapists who have not been accused of rape.* The unaccused individuals must be those against whom a true accusation of rape could be charged. Quite aside from the usual question about how one arrives at the number of those who could accurately be accused but were not, in order to visualize the proportion of falsely accused persons, we'd need another set of figures on the chart: those who would be falsely accused if the reporting of rape occurred often enough to include all of the light brown figures on the graph.

The graph-makers presume they know that the unaccused are really rapists, but no one is testing the veracity of their nonexistent accusers. It's built into the concept of the graph that we know the accusations against them are true. The 2 figures in the lower right corner are separated from the group in the upper right corner, the persons against whom accusations were made. The proportion looks much different if you put them there, where they belong. It's important to realize that we can only have a falsely accused person when a person is accused.

And what does it mean to say that "only about 2 to 8 percent of rape claims turn out to be fabricated"? In the United States, anyone accused of a crime has the presumption of innocence, and when a complaint is made but the accused doesn't end up in prison, we don't learn whether the complainant was lying, only that a decision was made not to charge, or the effort to force the accused into a plea bargain failed, or the evidence didn't convince the factfinder of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In some of those cases, perhaps the claim was "fabricated." Anyway, "fabricated" is a strong term, and it seems chosen to minimize the problem of possibly excessive reports of rape. "Fabricated" excludes complaints based on confusion and mistake, which might arise after intoxication or through a failure to understand the legal elements of rape.

"This graph proves it." That's either stupid or evil.

* Why are we counting "rapists" rather than rapes? Did the Enliven Project leap from a number for unreported rapes to a number of individual rapists? It's scary to have a graph covered in little figures of men, but if rapists don't commit multiple rapes, they're less scary, if you bother to think about it logically.

UPDATE: The original post embedded a tweet that became unavailable later in the day. I got the same graph from here, and I left the text of the tweet from the HTML code for the embed.

AND: Here's Terrence McCoy's Twitter feed. I'm surprised to see he's a Washington Post Foreign Affairs Reporter. He's got a new tweet that says: "Just read more into the Enliven graph. It was a misleading graph. I've since taken it down." He links to a January 2013 WaPo article about the graph "Patrick Pexton: A flawed image of rape on Wonkblog":
It’s a fact of journalistic life today that blog entries aren’t vetted as thoroughly as fully reported news stories are... On Jan. 7, an infographic citing rape statistics appeared on Wonkblog in a post written by Dylan Matthews, who came to The Post last year after graduating from Harvard.

The Enliven Project, a new nonprofit advocacy group that promotes more open discussion of sexual violence, produced the infographic... One reader wrote to me and Matthews, however, to say that it was distorted, misleading and a lie.... I read the studies that underlay the infographic and its critiques. Individually, some of the statistics that Enliven used do appear in the studies. But Enliven made assumptions and extrapolations in consolidating this information into one graphic, rendering it misleading....

The blog post generated a lot of Web hits for The Post and the Enliven Project. It stirred controversy and discussion of sexual violence. But it damaged Wonkblog’s credibility, and that of The Post, and harmed the legitimate issue of addressing violence against women.

Real reporting takes time, analysis, and inquiry. Post bloggers need to be more careful.
Post bloggers and Post tweeters.

What if guys dressed like social media websites?

They'd look like this.

Meanwhile, "What If Girls Were Internet Browsers?"

(Via Esquire.)