January 10, 2015

"I was strapped to a bed by my wrists and ankles and sedated.... I woke up in the recovery room with a port surgically placed in my chest. I was outraged and felt completely violated."

"How long is a person actually supposed to live, and why?... I care about the quality of my life, not just the quantity."

De Blasio's wife did not wear blue jeans to the slain policeman's funeral.

She wore degradé blue trousers, and the degradé effect looks like faded denim. There were lots of angry tweets about her disrespectful appearance, presumably from people who don't know enough about degradé, but approximately no one does. If appearance is what matters and no one can figure out that you're not wearing blue jeans, it's the same as wearing blue jeans.

At the 7-Christmas-Trees Café...


...  Meade will be serving fruit, nuts, and suet.

(Those are the 7 Christmas trees that were the solution to "A Meadhouse Mystery." The snow-covered mound under the trees is what you see in the 4th photo in this post from last November: "Meade mows the semicircular lawn next to the giant collection of leaves that will be next spring's mulch." As noted the previous November, Meade takes in leaves that various neighbors would otherwise put by the curb for the city to collect. This year, he dragged in various Christmas trees that neighbors had left out for collection. There's a mulch plan for the the trees and the leaves, but for now, the trees are providing shelter for some of our avian neighbors... with some added tasty nibbles.)

"Destroy that robot! Burn it to ash!"

Says Sigourney Weaver who is not a fan of the robot who — like all movie robots (and puppets) wants to be a real boy (or a robo-cop, I'm not sure):

Elsewhere in the robots-are-people news, the NYT Magazine has a piece titled "Death by Robot," by Robin Marantz Henigjan, who might be related to a HiFi amplifier.
Among the roboticists I spoke to, the favorite example of an ethical, autonomous robot is the driverless car.... Let’s say the only way the car can avoid a collision with another car is by hitting a pedestrian. “That’s an ethical decision of what you do there, and it will vary each time it happens,” he says. Is the pedestrian a child? Is the alternative to swerve away from the child and into an S.U.V.? What if the S.U.V. has just one occupant? What if it has six?...

Here’s the difficulty, and it is something unique to a driverless car: If the decision-making algorithm were to always choose the option in which the fewest people die, the car might avoid another car carrying two passengers by running off the road and risking killing just one passenger: its own. Or it might choose to hit a Volvo instead of a Mini Cooper because its occupants are more likely to survive a crash, which means choosing the vehicle that is more dangerous for its owner to plow into....

"When they arrived I saw the machine guns so I knew I had to do whatever they said. But they were never aggressive with me. They were always polite. They called me Monsieur."

Said Michel Catalano, held hostage by the Koachi brothers. Catalano had seen the men approaching with a rocket launcher and a Kalashnikov.
"I could immediately see there was a situation of danger. I told my employee [Lilian Lepere] to hide. I knew two of us couldn't hide. At that point I thought that was the end. They came in, they weren't aggressive. They said 'don't worry, we just want to come in.'... I didn't know where Lilian was hidden. I knew he was hidden but I had no idea where. I didn't want them to go to the end of the building... When I thought one of them was tense I said 'I can look after you.'

Suddenly, 10 things.

1. The blog has a theme today. This is something that happens sometimes, and at the point when I notice I use my "blog has a theme today" tag and — if I'm in the mood — I try to construct a 10-item list on that theme. As the post title indicates, the theme is: "sudden."

2. "Three gunmen, who have been hired to assassinate the President, hold a family hostage while waiting for their target. Interesting B film which focuses on psychopathic killer well-portrayed against type by Frank Sinatra." It's titled "Suddenly," and you can watch it in its hour-and-15-minute entirety here.

3. In the phrase "all of a sudden" (or "all of the sudden"), "sudden" is a noun. But we never use the noun in any other context. It's hard even to try to do that, even though it's obvious that the noun means something that is sudden. I challenge you! (By the way, I grew up around people who used the less common "all of the sudden," and it took me a long time to accept the dominance of "all of a sudden.")

4. Good writers should know that "suddenly" is a cheeseball word. One of Elmore Leonard's 10 rules of writing is "Never use the words 'suddenly' or 'all hell broke loose.'" I agree but would make an exception for intentional and delightful cheesiness, as in: "Why do birds suddenly appear/Every time you walk near?"

5. Hearing that, Meade suddenly says "Hey, don't forget, Bissage named his blog Suddenly Bissage." Bissage was a dearly beloved commenter on this blog who disappeared one day, when the uncooperative dear became uncooperative. I've tried to call him back: "Come back, Bissage. We're counting oranges again. Remember? 42. 42. 42..." To no avail.

6. Analyzing sentences in "The Great Gatsby" — the old "Gatsby project" — there was a day, a couple years ago, when we lit upon: "Through this twilight universe Daisy began to move again with the season, suddenly she was again keeping half a dozen dates a day with half a dozen men, and drowsing asleep at dawn with the beads and chiffon of an evening dress tangled among dying orchids on the floor beside her bed." About that "suddenly," I said: "This lone female is suddenly joined by numerous men. Though the unnamed men never get definition as individuals, they presumably get one-on-one dates with her, since the numbers match up: half a dozen dates a day with half a dozen men. This is the kind of 'dating' one associates with a prostitute." What would Elmore say about that? I'm inclined to justify anything in "The Great Gatsby" as exactly what it has to be, so I want to say that the "suddenly" is hilarious, but why? Perhaps because it's absurd — 6 men popping up in a sequence on each day within a season of days. Presumably, those men and more are always there, seeking dates with Daisy. It's her whimsical option — exercised suddenly — to accept the dates and put them in sequence, 6 per day, day after day. It's an endless flow, not sudden at all. The suddenness is in Daisy's waking up again in this twilight universe.

7. "Sudden death" — to refer to a method of tie-breaking — goes back to 1834, according to the OED, which found the quote: "‘Which’, said he, ‘is it to be—two out of three, as at Newmarket, or the first toss to decide?’ ‘Sudden death’, said I, ‘and there will soon be an end of it.’" Wikipedia has a page on the topic, with specific details on 16 different sports/games and: "Sudden death may instead be called sudden victory to avoid the mention of death, particularly in sports with a high risk of physical injury. This variant became one of announcer Curt Gowdy's idiosyncrasies in 1971 when the AFC divisional championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins went into overtime." Ha. That didn't catch on. If you're that anxious about someone getting hurt, why are you watching?

8. Meade laughs at something he wrote in the comments to "We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends": "I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes/And just for that one moment I could be you/Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes/You'd know what a drag it is to have vomit in your shoes." And my response to that — because I'm working on this list here — is to do a word search for "suddenly" at bobdylan.com. One of the great ones comes up — "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding":
You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you
9. Sudden infant death syndrome. To be distinguished — we hope! — from infanticide. "The misdiagnosis of infanticide as SIDS 'happens all over... A lot of doctors and police don't know how to handle it. They don't take it as seriously as they should.'" Said Jamie Talan, co-author of "The Death of Innocents: A True Story of Murder, Medicine and High-Stakes Science." That book is from 1997. That's a controversy that seems to have melted away.

10. This is a 10-point list so we must stop here. Did I miss something you were hoping for? "Suddenly Susan"? "Suddenly Seymour"? "Suddenly, Last Summer"?

"We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends."

Said the Dutch cartoonist Bernard Holtrop, AKA Willem, about all of Charlie Hebdo's "new friends."
"We have a lot of new friends, like the pope, Queen Elizabeth and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. It really makes me laugh.... Marine Le Pen is delighted when the Islamists start shooting all over the place.... We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends.... A few years ago, thousands of people took to the streets in Pakistan to demonstrate against Charlie Hebdo. They didn't know what it was. Now it's the opposite, but if people are protesting to defend freedom of speech, naturally that's a good thing."
Why is Holtrop still alive to vomit on the new friends of Charlie Hebdo? He doesn't like meetings:
"I never come to the editorial meetings because I don't like them. I guess that saved my life."

If you're going to run for the presidency from the Senate, you shouldn't rack up years of experience. You have to go early.

I had been thinking that it's ridiculous for Rand Paul and Ted Cruz to imagine that they're ready to run for President. They're first-term Senators, as was Barack Obama. But Barack Obama won, and suddenly, I'm thinking that wasn't a fluke. That is, in fact, what you must do if you're running as a Senator.

I'm thinking this as I'm reading Robert A. Caro's "The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV." Read this:

"Sudden Althouse."

I think rhhardin put his finger on something real yesterday, in that "proper focus is the truth" post, where the discussion turned to whether the Daily Caller writer Jim Treacher is "thin-skinned." A commenter named mr said:
Treacher can be witheringly funny, but he is also famously thin-skinned. He simply cannot allow anyone to say anything critical about him in a comment section without jumping in to insult the commenter.
And pm317 immediately added: "Althouse is famously thin-skinned." Then rhhardin — who's been commenting (enigmatically, interestingly, wisely, and weirdly) for at least 10 years — said:
There's also "sudden Althouse."

It's not thin-skinned exactly.

It appears as an out-of-the-blue defense in some thicket where the game is not apparent.
My sudden response to that was "You must enjoy being a spectator at this hard-to-see game, you weirdo." But the truth — to properly focus on the truth — is that he figured something out. I have an instinct — somewhat like the more conventional urge to defend the underdog — to make an out-of-the-blue defense in some thicket where the game is not apparent.

"The United States Supreme Court is hearing a lawsuit by the Sons of Confederate Veterans."

"It wants Texas to issue a specialty plate showing the Confederate battle flag, which a state panel rejected. The group argues that if Texas allows plates that express some opinions, it also must allow the battle flag, even if the symbol offends many people. Anything less, the group says, amounts to discrimination against its viewpoint, in violation of the First Amendment.... Texas rightly sought to avoid the perception that the state was speaking in a way that is contrary to constitutional values like equal protection under the law. It wanted to avoid even the risk of seeming complicit in official nostalgia for the institution of slavery."

A NYT op-ed by polisci prof Corey Brettschneider and lawprof Nelson Tebbe. There's a second case about North Carolina rejecting a pro-abortion-rights specialty place. The 2 professors struggle to say why North Carolina should lose but Texas should win. They recommend "a balancing approach," with Texas deemed to have a strong interest in any connection to slavery and North Carolina having only a "comparatively weak interest" in distancing itself from abortion rights. (North Carolina already has a "Choose Life" specialty plate.)

ADDED: Brettschneider has a good book, which is in my Kindle: "When the State Speaks, What Should It Say?: How Democracies Can Protect Expression and Promote Equality."

AND: I haven't thought deeply about these cases yet, but I will reveal that my sudden vocalized outburst as Meade proofread this post out loud was: "You know, if you can't take the heat, don't have specialty license plates." 

January 9, 2015

A warning about that "tidying up" book.

I recommended the book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing," by Marie Kondo, and I see that 40 or more of my readers bought the book. How are you liking it? My recommendation was based on the nicely motivating advice in the first third of the book. And I liked the clear sharp writing. Now that I've finished the book, I do feel that it's necessary to alert you to the weirdness that becomes quite pronounced toward the end.

On page 159, 79% of the way through the book, the author reveals: "I once worked as a Shinto shrine maiden for five years." Interesting use of the word "once"! 5 years is a long time period, not a one-time instance. A page later she talks about the effectiveness of Shinto charms. (They expire after one year, we are told.) On page 188, 92% of the way through, she tells us that when she goes to a client's home she "greet[s]" it by "kneel[ing] formally on the floor in the center of the house and address[ing] the house in my mind." She says: "I began this custom quite naturally based on the etiquette of worshipping at Shinto shrines."

"A full-lipped, cheek-chiselled man in Ancient Greece knew... that his beauty was a blessing... and that his perfect exterior hid an inner perfection."

"For the Greeks a beautiful body was considered direct evidence of a beautiful mind. They even had a word for it - kaloskagathos - which meant being gorgeous to look at, and hence being a good person."

"A Saudi Arabian blogger has been publicly flogged after being convicted of cybercrime and insulting Islam..."

"Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail, was flogged 50 times. The flogging will be carried out weekly....

Romney says: "Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run."

Politico reports.
Romney supporters have argued that there’s a clamor for people who would like to see someone emerge as a leader for the Republican Party during a particularly fractious time, and Romney recently began making clear to donors and supporters that such talk was affecting his thinking.

Bush’s decision to move quickly to draw a line in the sand was in part because of Romney’s overtures to donors. Bush allies had privately grown frustrated that Romney was freezing some donors who hoped he would launch a campaign of his own.

If I had to pick one, I'd pick...
pollcode.com free polls

"The operation in Dammartin is finished... The two suspects have been killed, and the hostage has been freed."

"The special counterterrorism forces located where the terrorists are and broke down the door. They took them by surprise. It lasted a matter of minutes."

Scott Walker, the presidential candidate.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Walker... said he was praying about whether to make a White House run. "Any major decision I've made in my life, politics or otherwise, I've tried to discern God's calling on, so this would be part of it," he told reporters Thursday...

On Thursday, Walker committed to appear on Jan. 24 at the Iowa Freedom Summit sponsored by Citizens United and Steve King, a congressman from western Iowa best known for conservative stands such as his criticism of illegal immigration. Walker said that forum would give him the opportunity to "share our vision, talk about what we've done in Wisconsin and see if that matches the interest of people in states like Iowa."...
[T]he governor is taking other steps... including hiring Rick Wiley to manage his potential presidential campaign. "I wanted someone who had an understanding on a national basis but who I had been familiar with from years ago in Wisconsin" to advise the campaign, Walker said....
Meanwhile, the Washington Post is on Scott Walker's case, with "Scott Walker has no college degree. That’s normal for an American, but not a president" and "Scott Walker just threw some amazing shade at Chris Christie over his Dallas Cowboy fandom":

"The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it..."

"... If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.... "

Writes David Brooks. 

ADDED: The terrorists want to be martyrs, but they made martyrs out of the satirists they reviled. 

"I'm sick and tired of hearing things/From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites/All I want is the truth/Just gimme some truth."

"I've had enough of reading things/By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians/All I want is the truth/Just gimme some truth...."

"The proper focus is the truth."

Said Jim Treacher in the comments to my post "What did the Charlie Hebdo terrorists say to Sigolène Vinson, the woman whose life they spared?," which is about his post "New York Times Reports On Muslim Proselytizing During Charlie Hebdo Attack, Then Deletes It."

My post calls attention to a third version of the NYT story, which lets us see that the first version was based on a quote from Vinson to the French radio website RFI, which Vinson now disowns. The Times did its own interview with Vinson and seems to have been trying to get the story straight. It doesn't say that RFI misquoted her, only that she disputes the quote and says something else now. Times readers are left to speculate on their own.

"Ex Miami Dolphin Player Falls Overboard, Swims 9 Miles to Shore."

Wow! I love stories like that.

And he was a Dolphin.

2 of my favorite topics — 2 of my oft-used tags — survival and metaphor.

What did the Charlie Hebdo terrorists say to Sigolène Vinson, the woman whose life they spared?

Jim Treacher, at The Daily Caller, has a piece titled "New York Times Reports On Muslim Proselytizing During Charlie Hebdo Attack, Then Deletes It." He notes that earlier the Times had quoted Vinson saying she was told "I’m not going to kill you because you’re a woman, we don’t kill women, but you must convert to Islam, read the Quran and cover yourself." And now the article only has her saying "Don’t be afraid, calm down, I won’t kill you... You are a woman. But think about what you’re doing. It’s not right."

I go over to the NYT site and search for the name Sigolène Vinson. It appears only in one article, apparently the same article that Treacher is talking about, "Recounting a Bustling Office at Charlie Hebdo, Then a ‘Vision of Horror.'" What it says now is:
Sigolène Vinson...  disputed a quotation attributed to her and carried on the website of the French radio service RFI stating that the gunman had told her she should convert to Islam, read the Quran and cover herself. Instead, she told The New York Times in an interview, the gunman told her: “Don’t be afraid, calm down, I won’t kill you.” He spoke in a steady voice, she said, with a calm look in his eyes, saying: “ ‘You are a woman. But think about what you’re doing. It’s not right.’ ” Then she said he turned to his partner, who was still shooting, and shouted: “We don’t shoot women! We don’t shoot women! We don’t shoot women!”
So is this a case of NYT censorship of something deemed unfit to print? In the current version, it certainly looks as though what happened was: 1. The NYT relied on the French radio report, 2. The NYT sought its own interview and deleted the disputed quote immediately while rewriting the paragraph, and 3. The NYT published an improved paragraph that included the French radio version, the fact that Vinson denies saying that, and the original reporting of a new attempt by Vinson to say what she was told.

Now, what do you do with that — criticize the NYT for suppressing the Islam-related material? I don't think that's the right focus, at least once the third version of the text has appeared. The proper focus is the mind of Sigolène Vinson, who went through an unfathomably traumatic experience, and who has been telling her story while the murderers she faced remain at large and while the terrorist mission — of unknown dimension and ferocity — rages on, without perceptible end. She must feel like a marked woman. I suspect — and the NYT gives me all the material I need to suspect — that the quote from the French radio was accurate, but that after seeing it made public, she got very scared and desperate to censor the part about religion. The new quote is stripped of references to Islam and to the subordination of women and refurbished into a quote stating the widely shared traditional value against killing women in a military operation.

Treacher's attack on the NYT is extremely harsh, by the way. He assumes he knows the motive of the editor who changed the text:
Because you’re one of America’s moral, ethical, and intellectual betters, and you don’t want it to be true. Your reporter hastily left that inconvenient truth in her story by accident, so you airbrushed it out, without any acknowledgment, to preserve the narrative. You turned it into, “Hey, maybe these guys aren’t so bad after all. They didn’t kill the women, right? Let’s not be too hasty.”

Because that’s your job.

The New York Times is garbage. 
UPDATE: Jim Treacher responds in the comments to this post and has a new post at The Daily Caller acknowledging the new version of the story in the NYT. This is too complicated to respond to in an update to this post, so I'm working on a new post.

ADDED: Here's the new post: "The proper focus is the truth."

"They said they wanted to die as martyrs. They are behaving like two determined terrorists who are certainly physically exhausted..."

"... but who want to escape with one last big show of force and heroic resistance. They feel trapped and know that their last hours have come."

They = Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the main suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre, who are now surrounded by police and in communication with them. The police are speaking in terms of negotiation and surrender. There is at least one hostage. How do you negotiate or try to capture the Kouachis alive when they have told you clearly that their mission requires them to go until they attain the end they call martyrdom? It would be good to deny them that satisfaction, and I hope the French police have some techniques that make it more likely that the hostage(s) will survive.

How can so much time have passed without stopping these men? In the United States, we would expect the police to stop them at least at the point when they emerged from the building where they carried out their massacre. We're told French President François Hollande looked "tense" as he conceded that "France is... shocked... that the perpetrators of these acts have not yet been arrested, and I am speaking before you as operations are ongoing."


I think "massacre" is the right word here, not "mass murder." It should be recognized as a military operation — France is under attack — not some individuals who lost their mind or their temper and transgressed into the everyday evil we call murder.

January 8, 2015

"Paris Terror Suspect Shown in 2005 Film."

"Chérif Kouachi, one of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, appeared in a 2005 investigative documentary about jihadism that aired on French television."

Hipster cannibalism.

"I made smoothies out of it for three weeks. I had a home birth, so my midwife and my doula took it and cut it up into 20 pieces and froze it, and every day, I put it in a blender with strawberries and blueberries and guava juice and a banana, and I drank that s**t up."

The actress Gaby Hoffman told People Magazine.

"Most authors indulge in little eccentricities when working, and, if the time should ever come that your name is brought before the public notice..."

"... it would be advisable to develop some whimsical habit so as to be prepared for the interviewer, who is sure to ask whether you have one. To push your pen through your hair during creative moments would be a good plan; it would reveal a line of baldness where you had furrowed the hair off, and afford ocular proof to all and sundry that you possessed a genuine eccentricity."

From "How to Write a Novel: A Practical Guide to the Art of Fiction" (1901).

"We’re not exactly thrilled that she added public thumb-sucking to the gotta-pee pose she’s know for..."

"... but we’re just happy to see her in something sophisticated and edgy and downtown...."

Through a YouTube interview with her grandson, Zach Rodham, Barbara Boxer announces that she won't run for reelection in 2016.

I'm not going to criticize the bad acting that fails to disguise the scriptedness of every word of this. I've only got one thing to say, and I think you know what it is.

Man in shorts! Why in the holy hell is this man — sitting across from his coiffed, bejeweled, and heavily made-up matriarch of a grandmother — wearing shorts? Why is this video framed to include his bulgy, hairy knees squarely in the middle of the long shot? It's winter, and there's a fire blazing in the fireplace.

Do me a favor? Could you put on some pants instead of shorts? It's just a thing. She worked so hard to become your grandmother, so I'd appreciate it. Yes, thank you.

"Non-americans of Reddit, what American customs seem outrageous/pointless to you?"

Over 37,000 comments.

The BBC tries to sum it up:

An American guy delivers the scripted response, which seems to miss some key Americanness. Notably, the #1 criticism is that the stated price of something doesn't include the sales tax:
Cool a .99 cent burger. I have exactly a dollar and I'm hungry.

Walk up to the cashier. ''One .99 burger please. ''

''That'll be $1.05''
The American response shouldn't be What's so hard about anticipating the tax that will be added?

It's: We like to keep an eye on the government. We like to be able to see the part that's private enterprise and the part exacted by the government for its own purposes. If you're annoyed to see the extra charged at the checkout, that's good. You should see it and think clearly about whether or not you like it. If you don't get what we're doing with this price/tax distinction, you should ask yourself what other schemes of big government are clouding your vision.

"It's not that expensive. We can afford it. In fact, we cannot NOT afford it."

"All these projects are a little touch and go. You'll have these critics say 'why spend all this money?' On the other hand I like trains, I like clean air... And I like to enjoy the comfort of trains. I like to get up and walk around and shake hands. You can't do that in your little car as you look in your rear view mirror."

Said Governor Jerry Brown at the ground-breaking ceremony for California's $68 billion high-speed rail system.

Yeah, how can you not not afford that?

Isn't it wonderful that after all these years, they're actually starting the darned thing?

And isn't if comforting to know that if it ever actually comes into existence, it will comfort Jerry Brown... if he's still among us and able to walk around and shake hands?

The 142-mile rail line will choo-choo crowds from L.A. north of Fresno to San Francisco south of Fresno. So Jerry has a decent chance at getting to shake hands in and around Fresno.

ADDED: Ultimately, the plan is for a 520-mile line that is supposed to get people from downtown L.A. to downtown San Francisco. We're told there's "hope" of getting that done by 2029 and also that "The authority needs to speed up the eminent domain process, since only 100 of the 500 land parcels needed for the rails and stations have been purchased." Which ones? Have they got all that downtown L.A. and San Francisco land yet?

My prediction is that these endpoints — without which no one would want this project — will never be reached by the line that's getting started now in Fresno. The only question is when people will freak out sufficiently to abandon the desperate throwing of good money after bad. I feel sorry for California, and I say that as someone who voted for Scott Walker in 2010 on the single issue of rejecting the lure of federal money to build a high-speed train.

It's not that I don't care about the environment. I do! I have a much better solution for California than its huge-carbon-footprint construction project. Stop traveling between San Francisco and L.A. Pick one! You know you prefer San Francisco or L.A. Just pick one and satisfy yourself with all the wonderful attractions and indulgences of San Francisco OR L.A. What are the arguments against that option? Please lay them out, because I would like to see them in writing so I can form an opinion of what kind of an environmentalist you really are.

The Kiss — a 10-item list.

1. After writing the last post — focusing on 2 magazine covers depicting a kiss — made me want to write a blog devoted to the kiss. It would be easy to keep a Google alert on the word "kiss" and blog every day on whatever miscellany relating to kissing happened to come up. I considered starting a new blog, but kiss.blogspot.com, kissblog.blogspot.com, and thekissblog.blogspot.com were all taken, so this post is a rough draft of what that blog would have been.

2. A Google news search on "kiss" brings up something I should already have blogged: Joe Biden, swearing in a Senator (Chris Coons) and wrangling various family members into good photo-op positions, got a little too cozy with a modest/nervous little girl and guessed wrong when he decided that a little cheek nuzzling would loosen her up. Reactions varied from "Holy Hell Would Be Unleashed On 'Handsy' Joe Biden If He Were Conservative" to "Awesome Little Girl Rejects Biden's Kiss At Senate Swearing-In." Hey, Joe, no means no... Mr. Violence Against Women Act.

3. Remember your first kiss? Kid Rock does — or is able to strain his voice Jack-and-Diane style in various assertions to that effect in this new video "First Kiss":

"And now these days when I drive through a small town/I turn my stereo up and roll my windows down/’Cause it reminds me of my first kiss/And those days that I always miss/Tom Petty on the radio." Tom Petty gets a big shout-out. Seems like John Cougar Mellencamp deserves a nod (or a peck on the cheek).

4. Kiss cam variations... including the deepest deep kiss:

5. "KISS frontman Gene Simmons... is as ubiquitous as ever with a reality-television show and a recent book on his business philosophy called 'Me Inc'" and a new restaurant in Oviedo called Rock and Brews. Quote: "You are alive, and you are supposed to keep moving... I'm 65, and, boy, do I look great."

6. "Tell me about the Root kiss. Was that a big gift for the fans?... Did you think it was a 'Goodbye forever' kiss, or a 'Shut up, I’ll be back' kiss?" Apparently, there's a TV show called "Person of Interest" and there was a kiss that made a big impression — "a much-anticipated kiss between the show’s electrifying women." What was so big about it? It can't just be that 2 women kissed on TV or even that 2 electrifying women kissed on TV. In the first nonplatonic 2-woman kiss the women were electrifying: Sharon Stone Mariel Hemingway and Rosanne Barr. "Television critic Frank Rich of The New York Times called 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' 'a small step forward for the stirring of homosexuals into the American melting pot' and a 'sophisticated half-hour [that] turned homophobia on its ear.'" The year was 1994.

7. The previous post — the post that got me started on this list — discussed a Charlie Hebdo cover showing 2 men kissing which I assumed was an intentional allusion to the famous New Yorker cover showing a Jewish man and a black woman kissing, and Meade said: "You know what else you should have included?" I said: "Brancusi's 'The Kiss'?"

No, he was thinking of the famous photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse: "V-J Day in Times Square" by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Scanning my Google image search results, I saw Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" and said: "As ubiquitous as Gene Simmons." No, I said: "How many dorm rooms have you seen this in?" And "There's also that Rodin."

8. For a less famous, less over-liked artwork called the kiss, consider Tino Sehgal's "The Kiss": "On the [Guggenheim Museum's] ground floor, a man and woman entwine in a changing, slow-motion amorous embrace.... As choreography it will hold no surprises for anyone familiar with contemporary dance. Taken as living sculpture, it has amusing moments: every so often, the performers strike erotic poses derived from Courbet, Rodin, Brancusi and Jeff Koons." I'd already thought of Rodin and Brancusi, but let's check out the Courbet and the Koons.

9. Hey, Koons (#8) and Coons (#2). It's like the stars are in alignment. Is there a constellation called The Kiss? No, but The Arctic Monkeys sang: "And her lips are like the galaxy's edge/And her kiss the color of a constellation falling into place."

10. "Kiss" is a very old word in English. The OED — giving the first meaning as "A touch or pressure given with the lips... in token of affection, greeting, or reverence; a salute or caress given with the lips" — has the oldest appearance of the word circa 1000:
Ælfric Homilies II. 32   Ic hine to minum cosse arærde.
I don't read English well enough to understand that, but the language becomes more recognizable by the 1380s, when a translated Bible had: "Kisse he me with the cos of his mowth." And here's a great poet: "Ah why refuse the blameless bliss? Can danger lurk within a kiss?"

What dishonor to the dead of Charlie Hebdo, a journal devoted to the opposite of repression!

"Their crime isn't explained by cartoons or religion. Plenty of people read Charlie Hebdo's cartoons and managed to avoid responding with mass murder," writes Ezra Klein. "As my colleague Max Fisher wrote about the magazine's wonderful cover, 'Love is Stronger Than Hate':
Part of Charlie Hebdo's point was that respecting these taboos strengthens their censorial power. Worse, allowing extremists to set the limits of conversation validates and entrenches the extremists' premises: that free speech and religion are inherently at odds (they are not), and that there is some civilizational conflict between Islam and the West (there isn't).
Here's the "Love Is Stronger Than Hate" cover, which is funny because it's selling love while still making a lot of people mad (and grossed out):

I'm grossed out, and I'm very pro-gay (as you know). Here's how Fisher interprets the cover (which ran after Charlie Hebdo had published some cartoons depicting Muhammad):
Yes, the slobbery kiss between two men is surely meant to get under the skin of any conservative Muslims who are also homophobic...
Oh, good Lord, you don't have to be conservative Muslim and homophobic or even conservative or Muslim or homophobic for that cover to bother you. In fact, the cover would be worse — by comic standards — if it only disturbed the conservative Muslims who are also homophobic. The graphic depiction of slobber makes the intent to unsettle everybody quite clear.

For comparison purposes, here's the great New Yorker cover by Art Spiegelman to which I assume the Charlie Hebdo cover deliberately alludes:

That cover — which relates to discord between black people and Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights in 1993 — came in for criticism at the time, though Spiegelman had presented it as the dream that "beyond the tragic complexities of modern life... it might really be true that 'All you need is love.'" Now, imagine the image with wide open mouths in a clench and outpourings of saliva. That would radically change the message, from one that gives benevolent, modern people a thrill of warmth and sparkles of inspiration to one that challenges just about everyone — swamping some with disbelief or outrage and reducing others to a puddle of hilarity.

Comics are complex! I don't think Ezra Klein and Max Fisher see that (or maybe they just don't want to admit it). "Complex" is a word that Ezra Klein uses in his last paragraph, which is a call to simplicity:
These murders can't be explained by a close read of an editorial product, and they needn't be condemned on free speech grounds. They can only be explained by the madness of the perpetrators, who did something horrible and evil that almost no human beings anywhere ever do, and the condemnation doesn't need to be any more complex than saying unprovoked mass slaughter is wrong.
So... murder is evil and murderers are crazy. Why should we not look any more closely at what happened? What is the basis for saying that only madness can explain the murders? I don't even understand the sense of saying that if only madness explains something, our response "doesn't need to be any more complex" than saying what was done was wrong. If it's only madness, where's the compassion for the mentally ill? Where are the plans for identifying and treating mental illness?

Ironically, Klein's recommendation that we only say murder is wrong reveals that he doesn't think it's only madness. It's something he feels compelled to repress.

What dishonor to the dead of Charlie Hebdo, a journal devoted to the opposite of repression!

January 7, 2015

"They are young and strong and fast, and the slope, receding into a steepening gully of shadow, snow, and rock, is as irresistible as it is serene."

"They have an inkling that this place, and this way of passing through it, might be very dangerous, but who at the age of nineteen really knows?"

"Unbelievable as it may sound, you only have to experience a state of perfect order once to be able to maintain it."

"All you need to do is take the time to sit down and examine each item you own, decide whether you want to keep or discard it, and then choose where to put what you keep...."

Advice — which I am in the process of following — from Marie Kondo, in "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing."

The struggle with clutter has been bothering me for a long time, and in the midst of a very harsh cold spell, I noticed this book was in the top 5 best sellers at Amazon. I watched this video...

... and decided to get the book and give it a go. The key is discarding, not storing. The promise is that you only need to go through the process once, and there will be no rebound — no need to continually de-clutter — because you've discarded all the items that do not "spark joy." ("[W]e should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.")

You start with all your clothes — everything from all parts of the house — and then you begin with the tops. Ladies, how many tops do you have? Perhaps hundreds! (Even if you, like me, periodically throw/give away some away.) You have to touch and handle each one and make a decision. Let's say you have a sweater that you ordered and paid good money for but never really enjoyed wearing. You honor it as you put it in the discard pile. It's served its purpose, which is to have given you the pleasure of feeling that you were getting something you liked and teaching you that you don't like it. Now, you are relieved of this item.

There's also — and I'm still on the tops here — the process of putting away what you decide to keep. This entails folding, and by folding things the right way:
The piece of clothing keeps its shape when stood on edge and feels just right when held in your hand. It’s like a sudden revelation — So this is how you always wanted to be folded! — a historical moment in which your mind and the piece of clothing connect.
UPDATE: I've finished the book, and I have a little warning.

"Boehner’s allies have thirsted for this kind of action from the speaker, saying he’s let people walk all over him for too long and is too nice to people who are eager to stab him in the back."

"The removal of Florida Reps. Daniel Webster and Richard Nugent from Rules was meant as a clear demonstration that what Boehner and other party leaders accepted during the previous Congress is no longer acceptable, not with the House’s biggest GOP majority in decades."

"What we have to figure out here is the perpetrators and whether they were self-radicalized..."

"... or whether they were individuals who fought in Syria and Iraq and came back, or whether they were actually directed by ISIS or al Qaeda."

"Masked gunmen opened fire in the offices of a French satirical newspaper on Wednesday in Paris... as many as 12 people... killed and 10 wounded."

The NYT conveys a police report.

Why attack a satirical newspaper? What was your first thought there?
[The satirical weekly] Charlie Hebdo has been attacked in the past for satirizing Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after publishing a cartoon of the prophet on its cover promising “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!”

The cover of the newspaper on Wednesday featured a caricature of Michel Houellebecq, a controversial novelist whose sixth novel, “Submission,” predicts a future France run by Muslims, in which women forsake Western dress and polygamy is introduced. On the cover, Mr. Houellebecq is depicted as a wizard and smoking a cigarette. “In 2022, I will do Ramandan,” he is shown saying.
"Ramandan" is a typo in The New York Times. Here's what the Charlie Hebdo cover looks like, with: "En 2022, je fais Ramadan!"
Charlie Hebdo, which prides itself on skewering a wide range of targets with garish cartoons and incendiary headlines, has long been vulnerable at its Right Bank headquarters, where it has weathered a firebombing, a lobby shoot-out and now a massacre.

The journal is part of a venerable tradition in France, deploying satire and insolence to take on politicians and the police, bankers and religions of all kinds, including this week a mock debate about whether Jesus existed or not.
Yes, you can see on that cover: "Jésus/A-t-il existé?" Maybe it was Christians with the Kalashnikovs.

ADDED: "[V]ideo, recorded by the French journalist Martin Boudot from a nearby rooftop as shots were fired — and the attackers shouted 'Allahu Akbar'... posted... by French state television":

What's wrong with that charming Italian PSA that tries to teach the good but obvious lesson men don't hit women?

This is viral, with over 7 million views in 3 days:

I got the link from Instapundit, who presents it like this:
JIM TREACHER: What Happens When You Try To Get A Bunch Of Little Boys To Slap A Little Girl In The Face? “SPOILER: They won’t do it. And if that surprises you for some reason, apparently you’re the target audience for this Italian PSA.”
Neither Treacher nor Instapundit (or, I think, any of their commenters) mentions what troubled me. Before these little boys are ordered by the unseen voice to slap the girl, they are directed to "caress" her, and they do. The girl never speaks. She's simply delivered to the presence of the boy for admiration, and the boys comply, which is easy enough, since a very pretty girl has been chosen for this performance. The girl is never asked: Do you want this little boy to caress you?

And I'm not only complaining about the silence of the girl, the absence of consent to the caress. I don't like the sexualization of the boys. Why is the boy expected to act like an adult — a stereotypical adult male heterosexual — and want to caress a female because she is beautiful? Why is the off-screen voice ordering a boy to do sexual things to a little girl?

Oh — you may want to say — but it's only a "caress." A mother might caress a baby. 

No. A boy finds himself on camera and is asked to step up to the role of an adult in the relations between the sexes. He is invited to do to a girl the things that a man does to a woman, and he draws the line at hitting. Good for him! Mere children know that this is wrong, so you grown men should be ashamed if you don't know any better. That's the message here.

By the way, Treacher and Instapundit seem to miss even that message. The ad-makers weren't trying to get the boys to hit the girl, nor did they mean to surprise us. The idea was: Everyone — even a child — knows this is wrong, so anyone who thinks this is what men do is way outside of the norm.

I'm thinking that Treacher and Instapundit were too quick to find another example of anti-male propaganda.

"For the last few years, it’s been clear we are the last remaining connection many Jews can relate to because their parents and grandparents came through the Lower East Side."

Creeping, relentless, engulfing hipsterism has — at long last — swallowed the matzo factory.

January 6, 2015

A Meadhouse mystery.


Why is the snow-covered front yard texturized this way?

IN THE COMMENTS: David Wharton said:
Christmas trees. I think that Meade is collecting them from neighbors for mulch. 
Meade has dragged 7 Christmas trees onto our lot. He says:
I'll lop the branches and use them as mulch over plants I want to protect from frost heaving in early spring. So the idea is to keep the cold in when the warm spring sun and thaw hit.

The tree stems will make good kindling for starting fires out on Picnic Point. Meanwhile, the dozen or so trees will make great cover for the intrepid birds who stay with us all winter long.
What is this strange charity of Meade's? Building campfires for neighbors and strangers... taking in their abandoned Christmas trees...

"Being up on the wall for over a week and the hard climbing Tommy and Kevin have done up until now adds an element of difficulty on top of the hard climbing they have to do."

"Imagine performing your very best after not walking for one week. I know Tommy has made an effort to try and do stretching, pushups, (and) yoga in the (hanging tent) hoping this might combat the unusual circumstances of living like veal between their climbing."

"The Nick Cave skateboard – and five other bizarre musical endorsements."

The weirdest one isn't Smokey Robinson's "the soul is in the bowl" seafood gumbo. It's the Rolling Stones' Rice Krispies:

5 things about the word "job."

1. The oldest usage is a verb, meaning to peck or poke or stab at. Early examples recorded in the OED: "The Tool will job into softer parts of the Stuff," "Mendoza jobbed his opponent in the throat, who fell, evincing great weakness." High-tone modern example from classy novelist Thomas Pynchon affecting an old-timey speech pattern: "If you dare to leave your lawful wife, tonight or ever, this’ waving the Fork, ‘gets jobb'd in your Guts, are we in Agreement’?"

2. The noun originally appears in the phrase "a job of work," so the word "job" functioned to refer to a subcategory of whatever the work was. From 1557/8: "Doinge certen Iobbes of woorke." Early on, criminals used the word to refer to individual crimes. From 1690: "She rode about seven-miles farther, and then a Stage Coach she did Rob; The Passengers all cry'd out Murther: but this was a Fifty-pound Iobb." (Read the whole thing here: "The Female Frollick: OR, An Account of a young Gentlewoman, who went upon the Road to rob in Man’s Cloaths, well mounted on a Mare, &c..")

3. The boring meaning to which we present-day Americans gravitate — as discussed in the previous post — is (OED): "A paid position of regular employment, a post, a situation; an occupation, a profession." This is the meaning in the common phrase "Get a job." The OED gives us this quote from "American Speech" in 1858: "But when he gets a good fat job For dat am all he cares." Hmm. They don't transliterate speech like that anymore. I rankled at the racism (that I can only guess is there).

4. I'm just going to say "blow job" and "boob job" so you don't feel you have to write a comment telling me about such things.

5. What I really want to talk about — and the whole reason I'm writing this post — is:
... and by the way the Lions got jobbed on that pass interference call.  I don't care what anyone says, the Lions got jobbed on that call. Yeah, the Cowboys still won, and the Lions didn't do enough to win.  I understand all that.  I'm not saying it's a conspiracy, but they got jobbed on that call, that pass interference call where they picked up the flag.
That's Rush Limbaugh, on his show yesterday. I read that out loud to Meade, and he laughed heartily the first time I said "jobbed," which made it especially funny to hear the word 2 more times. The Lions got jobbed. According to the Urban Dictionary, "jobbed" means:
To be the victim of a conspiracy; to lose a seemingly fair contest because of deceit; to be guaranteed to lose. The term derives from the professional wrestling term "jobber."

Brett Hart was jobbed in the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
The Seahawks got jobbed in Super Bowl XL.
I note the footballcentricism of those examples.

I added the link on "jobber," going to the Urban Dictionary meaning of "jobber" that explains the role of a willing loser in wrestling. And I almost got distracted into the Beatles lyric...
Out of college, money spent
See no future, pay no rent
All the money's gone, nowhere to go
Any jobber got the sack
Monday morning, turning back
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
... but I got back to where I once belonged — to point #1, above, and the OED — and felt a nice sense of closure — a blog post's worth of closure — seeing that the oldest meaning of "jobber" is a person (or thing) that pecks or pokes at something.

Graphic depictions of what "nonemployed" males and females do all day, hour by hour.

Colorful graphs, based on the American Time Use Survey. "Nonemployed" puts the "unemployed" together with all the other people who don't have jobs. Do men and women use their time differently? I don't know. It's self-reporting. Men portray themselves as sitting around in front of the television more, while women seem to spend a good deal of time "caring for others." If your children are napping or playing contently and you're sitting down in front of the TV, are you watching TV or caring for others? If you're casually putting things in order in the kitchen and toasting some sandwiches and the kids are wandering about and asking you easy questions occasionally and the TV is on, are you watching TV, caring for others, or doing housework? If one of the sandwiches is for you, is that the category "personal care"?

And I love this catch-all category "Leisure/entertainment":
Other leisure time can encompass a wide range of activities but most commonly consist of the categories known as relaxing/thinking, reading for pleasure and surfing the Internet.
Thinking, reading, and "surfing" the internet are leisure/entertainment? Are we really still saying "surfing" the internet? It seems to me that the internet is a medium for reading and writing and for looking at pictures and playing games. It hardly matters whether the movies and games you're playing are on the internet or the television or some other device. Anyway, I love the idea that there are some people who, keeping track of how the spent the hours of the day, allotted some time for simply thinking. (50 years ago, LBJ said: "The Great Society is a place where... leisure is a welcome chance to... reflect....")

I thought this was the most interesting failure to understand what people without jobs do:
A few of our nonworking people, somewhat confusingly, even reported spending a good amount of time working. These answers could mean that some people don’t think of informal work, such as babysitting or lawn-mowing, as employment. Or the answers could simply reflect the fact that large surveys typically contain a small number of unusual answers, because not everyone responds to a survey accurately.
The Times seems to be assuming that the word "work" means work for pay and thus "employment," even though "employment," broadly, includes anything a person does and "work," broadly, includes anything you do for the purpose of accomplishing something. The survey has a specific category for housework, so it's not hard to imagine non-house-related tasks people do. Yard work is an obvious example. The non-job work that women tend to do — housework and caring for others — has 2 specific categories. (Why not one, since you often do these 2 things together while in the home?) The things men tend to do get dropped into the puzzling category "work." There's yard work, working on cars and electronics and inventions, woodworking, volunteer working out in the community, and fussing over investments. There are also all the artists and musicians and writers — paging Nancy Pelosi — who might have an idea of selling something at some point but don't have jobs. In fact, I would think that one of the main reasons not to have a job is so that you can get a tremendous amount of your own work done.

Up before 6.


Morning in Madison, with new snow, and a temperature of -1°.

ADDED: Pre-dawn blogging:


January 5, 2015

30-year-old boy kills dad over a $200 cut in his allowance...

... allegedly.

50 years ago today: The debut of the hatchback.

The Renault 16:
... one of the first cars with a hatchback body style, that is, a car halfway between a saloon and an estate, and, before the term "hatchback" was coined, journalists struggled to describe it. A review in the English Motoring Illustrated in May 1965 stated: "The Renault Sixteen can thus be described as a large family car but one that is neither a four door saloon and nor is it quite an estate. But, importantly, it is a little different."
Saloon = sedan. Estate = station wagon.

"Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all?"

"And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good."

"In Wisconsin, we understand that true freedom and prosperity do not come from the mighty hand of the government."

"They come from empowering people to control their own lives and their own destinies through the dignity that is born from work."

Scott Walker, in his inauguration speech today, quoted in a NYT front-page piece with the headline "Scott Walker, Starting Second Term in Wisconsin, Steers Away From New Battle With Unions." The Times concentrates on Walker's potential as a 2016 presidential candidate and ends with:
“In contrast to the politicians along the Potomac, we get things done here in the Badger State,” Mr. Walker said. “There is a clear contrast between Washington and Wisconsin.”

"Next week, Scott Walker will go to the Packers' game, root for his state's team, & sit in the cheap seats & freeze with the common people."

Tweets Bill Kristol, right after "Chris Christie cavorting with Jerry Jones in the owner's box. Numbers plummeting in IA & NH. OTOH, will Jones write big Super PAC checks?"

Then: "And Rick Perry and Ted Cruz will go to Green Bay to root for Dallas, but will sit out in the cold with the voters rather than the donors," "What about Jeb? He doesn't watch football. He'll be at a polo match," "Huck will watch the game at a church-affiliated youth center in Des Moines," and "Rand Paul? Doesn't watch football. Doesn't approve of team sports."

"Make That 6."

James Taranto's headline for this pair of headlines:
“5 Worst Right-Wing Moments of the Week—Fox News Tells Women ‘How to Get a Husband’ ”—headline, Salon.com, Jan. 5

“How to Find a Feminist Boyfriend”—headline, Washington Post, Jan. 4
I've been ignoring that WaPo article for what seems like more than a day. The main thing the author seems to view as "feminist" is a woman asking a man out. Jeez, that's one of the most conventional women's magazine topics I've seen in my years of reading women's magazines, which is more than half a century (and includes a couple years where I had a job that included reading all the women's magazines — Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, McCall's, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Women's Day, Family Circle, Redbook, Glamour, Mademoiselle, etc.). The second-to-main thing the author seems to view as "feminist" is a man's ability to show his feelings. My reaction is the same: This is an old, old, old women's magazine topic. There's just nothing particularly feminist about it it all. The article might as well be titled "How to Find a Boyfriend." So I agree with Taranto, the WaPo article is as right-wing as any other article about advising women on how to catch a man.

"Eleven states do not require families to register with any school district or state agency that they are teaching their children at home..."

"... according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit group that is pushing for more accountability in home schooling."
Fourteen states do not specify any subjects that families must teach, and only nine states require that parents have at least a high school diploma or equivalent in order to teach their children. In half the states, children who are taught at home never have to take a standardized test or be subject to any sort of formal outside assessment....

“What we would like is for there to be a total hands-off policy,” said [Dewitt T. Black III, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association].

"Dozens of demonstrators today stormed restaurants and targeted white diners in New York and California as part of a 'Black Brunch' protest against alleged police violence."

"Carrying banners, the chanting protesters entered a number of venues in New York City that they identified as 'white spaces', including midtown eateries: Lallisse, Maialino and Pershing Square. Once inside, they 'disrupted' customers' meals by reading out the names of African-Americans killed by police, including Michael Brown, 17, who was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson last August. Addressing staff and patrons, they shouted: 'Every 28 hours, a black person in America is killed by the police. These are our brothers and sisters. Today and every day, we honor their lives.'"

Pink steam, at -7°.


In Madison, right now.

"He stopped writing and exclaimed: 'Is it five?' I replied with a guilty conscience: 'No, Bapu, it is one minute to five.'"

"'Well, Kanti,' he said, 'what is the use of keeping a wristwatch? You have no value of time…Again, you don't respect truth as you know it. Would it have cost more energy to say: It is one minute to five, than to say It is five o'clock?' Thus he went on rebuking me for about fifteen to twenty minutes till it was time for his evening meal."

He = Mahatma Gandhi.

"And while we're on the general subject, I saw the movie 'Big Eyes' yesterday, and before the film, the theater showed a commercial for Weight Watchers..."

"... which I found painfully funny as well as entertaining," said MisterBuddwing, commenting in last night's post about the "metabolic winter" theory.

Great commercial. I object to commercials in movie theaters, but if they're going to have them, it's good to be painfully funny and entertaining like that.

This topic and the movie title "Big Eyes" gave me a flashback to an old saying I haven't heard in a long while: "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach." I think that went out of fashion because it turned out the stomach was pretty good at adjusting its size.

That hilarious picture came up in a Google search on the old saying (on a blog, here).

There are many cartoon images for the old saying. Seems like everyone can think of this. Here's a better drawing of that. But stretch yourself, and you might get this. Try harder, and there's this.

Japan's killer rice cakes.

"Mochi – glutinous cakes of pounded rice – are traditionally eaten in vast quantities over the holidays. Several people die eating the starchy delicacy every January, but this year the number is particularly high. Local media reported that nine people had died over the holidays, while 13 others were in a serious condition in hospital."

"I believe the extremes of both ideologies are what created Skid Row."

"By that, I mean the extreme right believes in NIMBYism — not in my back yard. We'll shove all our problems into downtown LA and come down once a month and throw food and clothes at them and feel good about ourselves. And then the extreme left truly believes that because they're poor, black, Hispanic, whatever, because they're of poorer socioeconomic status, that we as law enforcement should just leave them alone. They really believe we should be hands off. And those two ideologies created what we're dealing with on Skid Row."

Said Deon Joseph, quoted in CNN's "On patrol with Skid Row's 'angel cop."

"You just have to stay in the moment and understand the game. It doesn't end after the first quarter, second quarter."

"You just have to keep calm. I've played enough games to understand that. Maybe I didn't do that as well when I was younger."

100 years ago: the birth of George Reeves.

It wasn't a bird or a plane, it was Superman:

George Reeves, born January 5, 1914.

I think there are 2 main topics associated with George Reeves: 1. Was he the greatest Superman, and 2. Did he really kill himself?

1. Was he the greatest Superman?
"Ranking the Supermen." ("Reeves didn’t differentiate too much between his portrayal of Superman and Clark Kent, which sort of hurt his ability to sell the two characters as individuals.")

"Men of Steel: 11 Actors Who Have Played Superman" ("George Reeves’ portrayal of Superman/Clark Kent turned the traditional dynamic on its ear. The ruggedly handsome Reeves, with his broad smile and lantern jaw, virtually turned Clark Kent into the central figure.... While Reeves wore a padded costume to accentuate Superman’s physical power, his deep voice and the easygoing authority he projected (no actor has yet matched Reeves’ looks of bored exasperation as some hoodlum empties his gun at Superman) made him the definitive Superman for a generation.")

"Celluloid Superman: Is George Reeves the Best Man of Steel?" ("The platform beneath Reeves is visible when Superman flies, and the footage is recycled again and again. Cuts between shots of bodies falling/landing and Superman demonstrating his super-powers (best rubber knife scene ever!) are just plain awkward and poorly executed.")
2. "Many people have refused to believe that George Reeves would kill himself and have pointed out that..."
... no gunpowder from the gun's discharge was found on the actor's skin, leading them to believe that the weapon would therefore have to have been held several inches away from his head when it was fired; however, forensic professionals say that gunpowder tattooing is left only when the weapon is not in contact with the skin, while Reeves' skull fracture pattern shows that it was a contact wound....

In the partially fictional Reeves biography Hollywood Kryptonite, Reeves is murdered by order of Toni Mannix as punishment for their breakup.... Toni Mannix suffered from Alzheimer's disease for years and died in 1983. In 1999, following the resurrection of the Reeves case by TV shows Unsolved Mysteries and Mysteries and Scandals, Los Angeles publicist Edward Lozzi claimed that Toni Mannix had confessed to a Catholic priest in Lozzi's presence that she was responsible for having George Reeves killed.... Lozzi also told of Tuesday night prayer sessions that Toni Mannix conducted with him and others at an altar shrine to George Reeves that she had built in her home. Lozzi stated, "During these prayer sessions she prayed loudly and trance-like to Reeves and God, and without confessing yet, asked them for forgiveness."

Reddit "OldSchoolCool" photograph titled "5 foot 5, 1973 Army. Girlfriend's step-father"...

... unleashes a discussion about about love and the short man.
That is a good-looking man right there....

As a decent looking guy who's 5'4" and fully secure in his sexuality and been doing online dating for over a year now, I can say that this is a good looking man. I can also say that according to approximately 95% of women on OKCupid and Tinder, this dude is undateable strictly based on numbers....

Using height as a shorthand for masculinity is a big mistake. The large majority of guys are more flight than fight. I'd say it's more of a social status thing than anything....

I am a 5 ft 3 1/2 inch female and would have fucked the everloving SHIT out of him....

Well he's pretty young in the picture so there's a chance you could still fuck him....

Problem is, I'm a cougar. EDIT: God, he was really beautifully proportioned, too. Nice legs, great shoulder line, that fucking jacket made of Epic Win, it's just godfuckingdamn.

January 4, 2015

The "Metabolic Winter" hypothesis.

"[O]besity is only in small part due to lack of exercise, and mostly due to a combination of chronic overnutrition and chronic warmth."
Seven million years of human evolution were dominated by two challenges: food scarcity and cold. “In the last 0.9 inches of our evolutionary mile,” they write, pointing to the fundamental lifestyle changes brought about by refrigeration and modern transportation, “we solved them both.” Other species don’t exhibit nearly as much obesity and chronic disease as we warm, overfed humans and our pets do. “Maybe our problem,” they continue, “is that winter never comes.”

"The Sitcom Code breaks down what needs to happen in each episode, by the minute."

"'Sitcoms, minus commercials, are typically 22 minutes long [with] a script of 25-40 pages. Every sitcom episode has a main plot (story A), as well as one or two subplots (stories B and C).' There are three main acts, divided by two commercial breaks (in most American TV), with 3-5 scenes per act. One of the distinguishing characteristics of sitcoms, as opposed to other forms of television, is that the main protagonist(s) barely change from one episode to the next, let alone from season to season (Maggie Simpson has been sucking on a pacifier for nearly thirty years). Therefore whatever happens in the episode, the situation must end largely where it began...."

From Noam Charney's "Cracking the Sitcom Code/After signing up to write a script for Croatian television, I learned that virtually all TV comedies, from Seinfeld to South Park, follow a simple formula. "

"Asked about Steve Scalise, Newt Gingrich invokes Jeremiah Wright."

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich defends House Majority Whip Steve Scalise after it was reported that Scalise once spoke before a white supremacist group."

"I don't care about being first. I care about being best."


Said Meade, about his early morning sidewalk shoveling.

"I don't walk in that wood during the day time... It's a mess."

"Can you imagine a seven-year-old losing her mother and sister and cousin in an aeroplane crash and then having to walk like she did from there to here?"

Sailor Gutzler walked a mile, through dense woods, at night, without shoes, in 40° temperature.


A word that came up in the LBJ "Great Society" post, which I ended with the question: "Was the prediction of leisure wrong, or is our present-day busyness something we've manufactured to camouflage leisure and thereby stave off boredom and restlessness... and — God forbid! — reflection?"

"Busyness" looks too cute. Is that even a real word (or just a labored avoidance of confusion with the indubitably real word "business")? It's certainly a very commonly used word. A Google "news" search gets over 8,000 hits, including a NYT piece from a few days ago titled "Add This to Your Busy Schedule: Time With Family and Friends." It begins:
If I ask, “How are you today?” I already have a good idea what you’ll say.


We’re all busy. It’s reached the point that many of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor. And what better way to measure our busyness than with lists and numbers.

Did the children learn a new skill they can put on a college application? Check. Did we make it to all the “must-see” exhibits in the museum? Check. How much less did we pay for our vacation than our neighbors? Check.
And Pope Francis recently put "the Martha complex of excessive busy-ness" as item #2 on his list of "diseases in our life in the Curia."
It is found in those who immerse themselves in work and inevitably neglect “the better part”: sitting at the feet of Jesus (cf. Lk 10:38-42). Jesus called his disciples to “rest a while” (cf. Mk 6:31) for a reason, because neglecting needed rest leads to stress and agitation. A time of rest, for those who have completed their work, is necessary, obligatory and should be taken seriously: by spending time with one’s family and respecting holidays as moments of spiritual and physical recharging. We need to learn from Qohelet that “for everything there is a season” (3:1-15).
The (unlinkable) OED has an entry for "busyness" — "The state or condition of being busy" — with historical example going all the way back to 1809 and a notable example from Henry David Thoreau:
1849   H. D. Thoreau Week Concord & Merrimack Rivers 380   Behind every man's busy-ness there should be a level of undisturbed serenity.

"I nearly died multiple times in the hospital. I lost my legs, I lost my spleen, I lost my kidney function."

"I lost the life that I knew. And going through so much in such a small amount of time and so quickly, for me it put my life into perspective. There were certain things I focused on — I focused on how grateful I was for the things I had versus things I lost. I got a second chance at life and I wanted to use it. I didn't want to waste it by dwelling on what happened or why it happened."

Said Amy Purdy,  a Paralympic snowboarding champion and contestant on "Dancing with the Stars," who lost her legs to bacterial meningitis at age of 19.

50 years ago today: Lyndon Johnson delivered his "Great Society" State of the Union Address.

"We worked for two centuries to climb this peak of prosperity. But we are only at the beginning of the road to the Great Society. Ahead now is a summit where freedom from the wants of the body can help fulfill the needs of the spirit.... The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed...."

Full text of speech here. Video of part of the speech here.

The State of the Union speech wasn't the first time LBJ used the term "Great Society." He'd introduced it in 1964 in 2 graduation speeches. This is from the University of Michigan speech:
Your imagination and your initiative and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning. The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.

But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor....

Many of you will live to see the day, perhaps 50 years from now, when there will be 400 million Americans -- four-fifths of them in urban areas. In the remainder of this century urban population will double, city land will double, and we will have to build homes and highways and facilities equal to all those built since this country was first settled. So in the next 40 years we must re-build the entire urban United States....
For the record, there are something like 318 million Americans, with something like 80.7% living in urban areas. So LBJ was right about the four-fifths. We failed to re-build the entire urban United States.

I was especially interested in the line about leisure. The Great Society is "a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness." I actually found the second clause hard to read and checked the audio to see if it was a mistake. I even thought it might be some southern rural parlance — "afeared [be]cause of boredom" — before I realized he was talking about something we rarely hear about anymore: the problem of too much leisure. People back then feared that leisure would cause boredom and restlessness. In the Great Society, we were supposed to use leisure to "build and reflect."

What happened? Was the prediction of leisure wrong, or is our present-day busyness something we've manufactured to camouflage leisure and thereby stave off boredom and restlessness... and — God forbid! — reflection?

"It’s very clear that between the Putin Kremlin and the Obama White House there is a very bad chemistry."

"It's not a question of simply distrust, it’s a question of intense dislike between the two leaders... The more [Secretary of State John] Kerry creates a perception he has a special relationship with [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, the more he puts Lavrov in a difficult position with officials in his own capital, starting with Putin... It’s clear that when Kerry deals with Lavrov and hopes that because they have overlapping interests, that would allow cooperation where useful, that is not a model of relationship that Putin is prepared to accept.”

Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest, quoted in a Bloomberg piece titled "Inside Obama’s Secret Outreach to Russia."

When is it okay to think it's cute that your kid stands on the dog to reach the counter?

Sarah Palin thought it was worth posting on Facebook, but why?

1. As she presented it — it showed her child Trig overcoming an obstacle — "a lazy dog blocking his way" — turned the negative into a positive, using the dog as "his stepping stone." Pure sweet inspiration, a boost for all of us.

2. She predicted she'd get criticized, and like clockwork, PETA was there: "It's odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo." And Palin fans love the action when some lefty organization takes a shot at Sarah ... or, better, Sarah and Trig.

3. She had an ace in the hole. When the predictable criticism rolled in, Palin played this Ellen DeGeneres Facebook post from last summer: