February 14, 2015

Bob Dylan says "I wasn’t dissing Merle, not the Merle I know. What I was talking about happened a long time ago, maybe in the late sixties."

"Merle had that song out called 'Fighting Side of Me' and I’d seen an interview with him where he was going on about hippies and Dylan and the counter culture, and it kind of stuck in my mind and hurt, lumping me in with everything he didn’t like. But of course times have changed and he’s changed too. If hippies were around today, he’d be on their side and he himself is part of the counter culture… so yeah, things change. I’ve toured with him and have the highest regard for him, his songs, his talent – I even wanted him to play fiddle on one of my records and his Jimmie Rodgers tribute album is one of my favorites that I never get tired of listening to. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. He’s serious and he’s funny. He’s a complete man and we’re friends these days. We have a lot in common. Back then, though, Buck and Merle were closely associated; two of a kind. They defined the Bakersfield sound. Buck reached out to me in those days, and lifted up my spirits when I was down, I mean really down – oppressed on all sides and down and that meant a lot, that Buck did that. I wasn’t dissing Merle at all, we were different people back then. Those were difficult times. It was more intense back then and things hit harder and hurt more."


"I read about some squirrely guy/Who claims, he just don't believe in fightin'/An' I wonder just how long/The rest of us can count on bein' free/They love our milk an' honey/But they preach about some other way of livin'/When they're runnin' down my country, hoss/They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me."

"What Makes a Celebrity Gaffe Stick?"

Gaffing tape?

Link to article with the title quoted above.

"Unlike the Washington journalists, who all but wore cufflinks inscribed with their I.Q.s..."

"... Carr never needed people to think that he was the smartest guy in the room. He could be self-deprecatingly funny."

From "Postscript: David Carr (1956-2015)," by Jelani Cobb (in The New Yorker).

... Washington journalists, who all but wore cufflinks inscribed with their I.Q.s...

Good lord! I'd love to know the details of the I.Q.-pride that Cobb witnessed. Cobb's short piece mourns the fallen media critic David Carr, and we are not told about that larger context within which Carr was an outlier. I want to hear what underlies that snarky cufflinks inscribed with their I.Q.s image. It's hard even to understand. If there were cufflinks inscribed with I.Q.s, there would be no point in displaying neediness about being regarded as the smartest guy in the room. We could check your cufflinks and see a number that everyone in a room with such cufflinks would regard as a statement of the actual fact.

I don't live and move amongst the journalists of Washington. I've been embedded in academia here in The North for 30 years. If anyone displayed neediness about seeming to be the smartest guy — only guys, Jelani? — in the room around here, he'd be regarded — I think — as a little embarrassing and less intelligent than the rest, and someone behaving in the Carr manner would be far more likely to be suspected of being the most intelligent. Self-deprecation seems perfectly normal in my habitat.

So tell me, Mr. Cobb, how insufferably obnoxious are these Washington assholes?

I mean, it is altogether fitting and proper that we should honor the humble and brilliant media critic who has departed, but it is for us the living to be dedicated here to the unfinished media criticism which he so nobly advanced.

ADDED: In the I.Q. cufflinks system, at what point on the I.Q. spectrum would it be wise to wear cufflinks displaying a lower I.Q. than your actual I.Q.? How much would people deviate from their actual, tested I.Q.s as they sought business, political, and social advantages? What would be the optimum I.Q. for getting along and getting ahead and how would it vary from Washington to NYC to Madison or wherever? I mean, let's say the best I.Q. for these purposes was found to be 120: How far below 120 could you be and still con people into believing you're a 120? How far above 120 could you go and still pull it off? This hypo is horribly complicated by our suspicions that I.Q. isn't a useful enough metric, but deal with it. In the hypo, people believe in the significance enough to wear I.Q. cufflinks. So the subjective judgments would have a very real effect even if the numbers were junk science.

Seriously, what science questions should we want our political candidates to answer?

Last night, we were talking about David Harsanyi's interesting push back to those who performed a freakout on the occasion of Scott Walker's "punting" when he was asked if he feels "comfortable" with evolution. Harsanyi's angle was the familiar conservative rhetoric of flipping: What if the media went after liberals in the same way they go after conservatives? The idea is that the reporter who queried Walker was looking to expose some ignorance, stupidity, or rigidity that could be used against him, and the media is loaded with reporters who are itching to be to him what Katie Couric was to Sarah Palin.

Everybody's trying to be his Katie, everybody's trying to be his Katie, everybody's trying to be his Katie, now.

Harsanyi's questions include ones about abortion, like: "Is a 20-week-old unborn child a human being?" To my mind, that isn't even a science question, it's a moral question, and it's a moral question that you can't get started on withou defining the term "human being." It's also, obviously, a stand-in for another question that isn't at all hidden: Is the killing of a 20-week-old fetus permissible? I say, if we want to claim to be asking science questions, frame the questions in science terms: Is a 20-week-old fetus capable of any conscious perception?

By the way, the evolution question asked of Scott Walker was not put in scientific terms. It was: "Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you believe in it? Do you accept it?" Walker's comfort with an idea is a separate matter from his understanding of the subject at the scientific level? Are you comfortable with the idea that cancerous tumors grow in the bodies of children? And, please, click on that link and watch the video of the British journalist asking that question. What a supercilious, obnoxious twit! Walker keeps his cool as the guy is trying to aggravate him. Walker said it was an inappropriate question: "That’s a question that a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another."

Clearly, there are some evolution-related questions that a political candidate should be expected to answer. I'd ask: Do you think that public school science classes should teach the theory of evolution without also covering other theories of the origin of species such as creationism and intelligent design? What, if anything, would you do to support religious parents who believe that to teach evolution to their children is to teach that their religion is not true? Does your answer reflect your understanding of the meaning of the Establishment Clause, or would you say the same thing even if there were no Establishment Clause? To what extent would you support a school voucher system to enable religious parents to send their children to a parochial school where they could be taught that their parents' religion is true? Would you require private religious schools to teach evolution in science classes and not to present the alternative, religious theories in that class?

But I don't consider those questions to be science questions! Those are legal questions combined with educational policy questions. I think my questions would show us a lot about how intelligent and thoughtful the candidate is, how much grounding he has in American constitutional values, and which way he leans on policy questions.

What are the science questions here? Would you ask the candidate to explain the theory of evolution? Harsanyi suggests "What is evolution?" as an alternative to the "inane" question "do you believe in evolution"? I think any decent candidate would and should punt on an invitation to launch into an impromptu science-teacher mini-lecture. That's not going to come out right. Here's my evolution-specific science question: Have you studied the theory of evolution at the college level?

I like that question in part because some Walker antagonists are linking his failure to talk about evolution to his lack of a college degree. For example, Howard Dean said:
"I think there are going to be a lot of people who worry about [Scott Walker's lack of a college degree].... I worry about people being President of the United States not knowing much about the world and not knowing much about science... [E]volution is a widely accepted scientific construct and people who don't believe in evolution either do it for hard-right religious reasons or because they don't know anything."
Scott Walker had 3 years of college. Hillary Clinton had 4 (plus law school). Both Walker and Clinton majored in political science. Did they take any non-social-science science courses? Walker has had plenty of political science life experience to compensate for the lack of that final year. Hillary did her senior year, closing out the requirements for her degree from Wellesley by completing her senior honors thesis in political science: "'There Is Only the Fight...': An Analysis of the Alinsky Model." Did that bring her any deeper understanding of scientific topics like evolution and fetal development and climate change?

Here's a special science question for Hillary: When you did your "Analysis of the Alinsky Model," were you engaged in a scientific study? And I have some non-scientific follow-ups: Would Alinsky have considered your study of him scientific? How would a follower of the Alinsky Model frame questions about science to be asked of politicians? Is your answer to this question the answer of someone following the Alinsky Model? If it were, would it even be possible to answer "yes"?

That last question is a science question if logic is science.

"A group of swingers, kinksters, polyamorists and nudists is taking over a Madison hotel... celebrating Valentine's Day weekend..."

"... with two days of what's billed as 'complete sexual freedom.' The event will draw as many as 275 'alternative sex' aficionados from all over Wisconsin, the United States as well as abroad says Melanie, a volunteer event organizer with Camp NCN, a 'sexual freedom' campground in Black River Falls, Wis."

Black River Falls, eh? When I hear "Black River Falls," I hear "Wisconsin Death Trip."
Wisconsin Death Trip is a 1973 non-fiction book by Michael Lesy, based on a collection of late 19th century photographs by Jackson County, Wisconsin photographer Charles Van Schaick – mostly taken in the city of Black River Falls – and local news reports from the same period. It emphasizes the harsh aspects of Midwestern rural life under the pressures of crime, disease, mental illness, and urbanization.

The book was adapted into a film in 1999.
But let's hear about this "complete sexual freedom" from Melanie:
Melanie agreed to be interviewed about the event on the condition that Isthmus not use her real name. 
There's complete freedom for you.
"There's a huge misconception about the swinging world," says the 48-year-old from western Wisconsin. "A lot of people look at swingers as people who are immoral, who are whorish, who jump from one person to another, but that's not necessarily the case. It's just another type of connection."
Well, complete sexual freedom includes prostitution, which is another type of connection.
The group rents out the entire hotel when they come to Madison, so there's no risk of children or other unsuspecting guests getting an unexpected eyeful (or earful). That also gives the group the freedom to set up a fetish dungeon, group "play rooms" with various sex apparatuses, an area with vendors selling sex toys and a dance floor with a DJ. The entire hotel is clothing-optional, with the exception of the front desk reception area.
Which hotel is this?
Though Camp NCN is LGBT-friendly, the hotel takeover events are open only to heterosexual couples and single females (who are referred to as "unicorns") as a way to ensure guests are comfortable, Melanie says. Single men are not allowed.
There's complete sexual freedom for you! Which hotel is involved in hosting a business that discriminates on the basis of sex and sexual orientation?
The location of the Madison hotel takeover site is kept secret... The Camp NCN website doesn't even provide the information on its registration page....
Smell the freedom!

"Happy Valentine's Day! Now Cut Your Losses."

Megan McArdle is pushing you to leave that guy who doesn't propose today.
I'm talking to you, 30-something woman who has been dating the same guy for a couple of years (or more)... who is anxious that her partner doesn't seem as eager as she is but is afraid to deliver an ultimatum for fear the answer will be "OK, bye."...

It's time to let go....  If you're in your 30s, both of you already pretty much know who you are. And after a couple of years, you also know whether this is someone you want to spend your life with. You're not going to get any new information by sticking around -- except "My God, I wasted five years on this man."

As you may guess from the prior paragraph, I speak from personal experience. I invested almost four years in an almost-great relationship that ended with me, shattered and tear-stained, deciding to pick up and move to Washington....

A sunk cost is, well, like a sunken ship: It's gone, and you cannot retrieve it, or you can only retrieve it at immense expense. The correct and rational way to deal with a sunk cost is to ignore it -- to make decisions without thinking about the money or time you've already invested....

I know, he's great, he's exactly what you wanted in a husband, breaking up a household and friend networks and the whole tidy life you've built as a couple is going to be shattering. And as someone who's been there, I agree: It will be shattering. All I can tell you is that it will be even worse if it happens two years from now.

February 13, 2015

"Here Are The ‘Science’ Questions Reporters Should Ask Politicians."

David Harsanyi has some questions that liberal politicians ought to have to answer.

"Oregon's new governor will be the first open bisexual to serve as a state's chief executive when Secretary of State Kate Brown steps in for resigning Gov. John Kitzhaber on Friday."

"Brown is married to a man but has made no secret about her sexual orientation – and has been embraced for it in one of America's bluest states whose largest city has adopted the slogan 'Keep Portland weird.'"

A woman is married to a man. Noted.

ADDED: Calling bisexuality "weird" is, ironically, demeaning.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the State of the Union: "And we sit there, stone faced, the sober judges... But we’re not, at least I was not, 100% sober."

The Justices had dinner together before the speech, and they drank wine.

I'd fall asleep too — wine or no wine. What a pain to have sit there and enact the old "sober as a judge" cliché while the rest of the audience — in Ginsburg's words "is awake because they’re bobbing up and down all the time."

She's being amusing and a bit critical of the SOTU routine. If you're reading this as a confession that she was drunk, I'm guessing you're an ideologue. There was one bottle of California wine and there were 6 Justices at this year's SOTU. That's a tiny glass apiece. Now, Justice Ginsburg is a tiny lady, and maybe a tiny glass would knock her out by 9 p.m. But, come on. It's a joke about falling asleep in a stuffy constrained setting, a joke that plays on the expression "sober as a judge."

On "The Katering Show": "We Quit Sugar."

"Madison feminists urge boycott of Fifty Shades of Grey."


Why should you have to boycott it? Isn't it better just not to want to see it?

IN THE COMMENTS: mccullough said:
I guess this means no "50 Shades of Gray" project like the "Gatsby" project on Althouse.
The "Gatsby" project was things like this. One sentence from the work, isolated for discussion in contextless isolation. I loved that project. Did you? Vote, and I just might do it.

Should I do a new series like the "Gatsby" project?

pollcode.com free polls

Best burglar ever: Michelle Phillips!

"Cass's house was the biggest mess I have ever seen a house be in my life. She never cleaned, never tidied up, never did the dishes, never made her bed. I remember going to her house in Stanley Hills before she moved to Woodrow Wilson. I got to her house and she wasn't home, so I decided to jimmy the window and get in. You know those huge, giant, industrial-size jars of mayonnaise? She had dropped one on the floor and just left it there. I cleaned up her entire kitchen, her entire house; it took me, like, three and a half hours. I just kept cleaning until it was spotless. Then I walked out the door, closed it, and never said a word to her."

"Bad acts may rise from good causes: faith may never be the enemy; fanaticism is always the enemy."

"But faith has always been the first seedbed of fanaticism. That’s why, when people commit acts of horrible cruelty for political purposes, we say that they’ve made a 'religion' out of their politics, or have succumbed to a mad ideological dogma. Fanaticism is the belief that a single faith or ideology contains all the truth of the world, and that others should at best be tolerated. Liberalism is the belief that toleration is not enough, that an active, affirmative pluralism is essential to social sanity. Pluralism is the essence of liberalism—including the possibility of self-reproach for things that liberalism has done badly. America is not responsible for My Lai only to the degree that America renounces the self-righteous 'exceptionalism' that put those murders in motion and then prevented those who caused them from being blamed. Excessive scruples—liberal guilt—are as sure a sign of sanity as excessive sanctimony is a sign of the opposite."

Writes Adam Gopnik, contemplating Obama's recent statement, at the National Prayer Breakfast, in the context of the recent ISIS atrocities: "During the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."

"My dining room looked out over Frank Zappa's duck pond, and once when my mother was visiting, three naked girls were floating around on a raft in the pond."

"My mother was horrified by my neighborhood. In the upper hills the Buffalo Springfield were playing, and in the afternoon there was just a cacophony of young bands rehearsing. At night it was quiet except for cats and mockingbirds. It had a smell of eucalyptus, and in the spring, which was the rainy season then, a lot of wildflowers would spring up. Laurel Canyon had a wonderful distinctive smell to it."

Joni Mitchell, quoted in "An Oral History of Laurel Canyon, the 60s and 70s Music Mecca."

She also said:
David Crosby and I were never a couple. We spent time together in Florida and he was off drugs and very enjoyable company at that time. We rode bicycles through Coconut Grove and went boating. But David's appetites were for young harem girls who would wait on him. I would not be a servant girl. I had a child-like quality that made me attractive to him and my talent made me attractive. But we weren't an item; I guess you could call it a brief summer romance in Florida.
And David Crosby said:
I wanted to be with a great number of women. I was very entranced with Joni when I was with her, but she had her own plans. Graham [Nash] was unquestionably the best thing that ever happened for her.
Many more quotes at the link. Please discuss the article and the music and culture of the 60s and the 70s in the comments. That is, do me a favor and don't mention Morgellons disease. Here's an old post from 2010 about that if you want a place to put a comment on that subject.

Have a nice Valentine's Day/Friday the 13th combo weekend.

I'd never noticed the collision of the 2 dreaded days before 2009:
Because it's a risky place out there. For example, I was out driving, hundreds of miles from home on Friday the 13th, and I blithely made a right turn and drove a half a block before I saw the oncoming traffic in my lane. I quickly made another right turn at the corner, and immediately saw the police car lights in my rear view mirror. The cop — with his beautiful blue eyes — was very handsome — very heart-of-the-heartland handsome. I effused "I'm so sorry." He asked us where we were going. I didn't wisecrack, "the wrong way, apparently."

We said where we were going, and afterward, I wondered what the hell difference did it make where we were going? Nosy cop. Nosy handsome cop. Nosy adorable cop with brilliant blue eyes. I'm theorizing that he asked because the thing is to ask anything to get the driver talking so that words might be slurred, incoherence demonstrated, or alcohol smelled. It's not a speeding ticket he'd like to give me, it's a DUI. And maybe the whole point of making that street 1-way is to net drunk drivers. Why was the cop right there? I bet every 10 minutes, somebody goes the wrong way at that turn, each one a potential DUI, and that was a net that I slithered through. But maybe Mr. Handsome Blue-Eyed Cop let me off because he liked the place we said we were going. And I got lucky that way on Friday the 13th.
No, that was not my first post about falling in love with Meade. This was. No, actually, this. Or was it "Record nails broken in car crash." No, it was "Althouse on the road":

Something very important happened here

In the comments, AJ Lynch said: "Althouse is...looking for love in all the wrong places. Heh. Be safe!" Yes, be very careful! You never know where your next wrong turn is or who might come tromping through the brush:

The comedy of orchiectomy.

Chuck Love, via Metafilter.

IN THE COMMENTS: Fritz said: "Women make pathos out of such events, where men seek comedy. If you can't do anything about it, you might as well laugh about it."

Women don't look for the comedy? What about this:

Or this:

The 4 a.m. screen shot puts everything into proportion.

Here's the Phys.org article that went up on Memeorandum at 5:55 ET on Tuesday morning, where it got my attention 5 45 minutes later as I checked my iPhone for the news before I got out of bed. I captured the screen shot and imagined that would make a good blog post. Is our world about to get shaken up? Will presidential candidates be asked if they are comfortable with a universe that's been around forever?

But the first blog post on Tuesday didn't go up until 7:56, and it was about a WaPo columnist's abstruse effort to support his assertion that it's "'trivial to compare' Roy Moore's trying to stop gay marriage in Alabama to George Wallace's blocking the door to racial integration at the University of Alabama." (The columnist thought what Roy Moore was doing is a much bigger deal.)

I'm seeing the old screen shot at 6 a.m. this morning because I plugged my iPhone into my computer just now. I'm remembering what I didn't blog on Tuesday and remembering what I saw on my iPhone this morning as I scanned the latest news from my supine position under the comforter. David Carr has died! He was only 58. He collapsed in the newsroom at the New York Times. Will I blog about his death when I did not blog the death of Bob Simon, reported on Memeorandum at 12:25 a.m. on February 10, whence it was read out loud from across the room by my husband Meade, causing me to ask: "Who's Bob Simon?"?

I had to be told he's one of the "60 Minutes" people. I don't watch "60 Minutes," but I do read the NYT, and I've read and enjoyed David Carr many times. Here's his 2008 article about his life as a crackhead:
To be an addict is to be something of a cognitive acrobat. You spread versions of yourself around, giving each person the truth he or she needs — you need, actually — to keep them at a remove. Let’s stipulate that I do not have a good memory, having recklessly sautéed my brain in fistfuls of pharmaceutical spices. Beyond impairment, there may be no more unreliable narrator than an addict. Recovered or not, I am someone who used my mouth to constantly create one more opportunity to get high.

Here is what I deserved: hepatitis C, federal prison time, H.I.V., a cold park bench, an early, addled death.

Here is what I got: the smart, pretty wife, the three lovely children, the job that impresses.
That's a journalist reporting on the mind of an addict: an addict spreads around versions on the truth depending on what you think anyone listening to you seems to need. And isn't that what we've come to feel the journalists seem to be doing? [Insert reference to Brian Williams.] And isn't that what we expect the politicians to do, for example, when they are asked, as Scott Walker was the other day, about whether they are comfortable with evolution?

At the Facebook post where we have a long thread about Scott Walker's response — saying he needed to "punt" on that question and that it's not the sort of thing politicians should have to talk about —Annie Gottlieb says:
Why do we say we "believe in" evolution? That gives away the fact that "science" is our modern religion, the thing we look to for an explanation of our existence and a hope of defeating death. (The third thing religion supplies, meaning, science is not so good at, although it does somewhat justify social Darwinism if that's your cup of tea.) What's funny about it is that science itself, without the scare quotes, is exposing the fact that we don't yet understand evolution very well at all.
And I say:
Yes, this is something I notice all the time. And people are pressured to believe because of the prevalence of believers -- their domination in positions of authority -- and not because we understand and see the reasoning of the science. So it's not just like religion. It's like authoritarian religion. By the way, some physicists are casting doubt on the Big Bang theory. Will they move into the position of authority at some point? Why does it even matter whether we agree or not? We can't check their work. We can't have an independent position. We're just called upon to be sheep for the Good Shepherd. Might as well go with Jesus. He's pretty good.

February 12, 2015

"Supporters of a Chicago Little League team that had its national title revoked over allegations of cheating accused the Little League organization Wednesday of racism."

"Little League International announced Wednesday morning that the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars had players in its lineup who lived outside the team's boundaries."
At an afternoon press conference, the Rev. Jesse Jackson asked, "Is this about boundaries or race?"

"This decision's untimely and inappropriate at this time," Jackson told reporters. "It should not take six months after a team has played a championship game to determine eligibility to play the game in the first place."

The league's decision came after teams from Illinois and Nevada complained that Jackie Robinson West's roster was rigged.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger called the complaints from the Illinois team "mean-spirited" and "personal."

"The official war for the Americans — the part of the war that you could go see — that’s over."

"It’s only the secret war that’s still going. But it’s going hard." Says an unnamed "former Afghan security official," quoted in a NYT piece titled "Data From Seized Computer Fuels a Surge in U.S. Raids on Al Qaeda."

"The Sickeningly Low Vaccination Rates at Silicon Valley Day Cares."

Wired reports.

How will the University of Wisconsin—Madison absorb something like $90 million in cuts from Scott Walker's new budget?

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank indicated that the cuts would come in the form of layoffs of adminstrative personnel:
Head shakes and whispers in many languages filled the auditorium as Blank delivered the news, which was translated simultaneously in Mandarin, Hmong and Tibetan, with a delayed translation in Spanish....

"We know there will be some cuts, so we will be starting to make and announce some budget cuts this spring. My guess (is that) in April there will be at least some preliminary announcement and early notification of layoffs going out. But how many and where, we do not know yet."...

Deans, directors and department heads will be responsible for making decisions on how budget cuts are allocated, but administrative units will take will take larger cuts in an effort to preserve educational functions, she said.
ADDED: Here's the UW's own press release:
“I know how much this university relies on the work you do, often unseen during the day, and I know how hard you work for the university and for the state,” Blank said....

“In this type of situation it is never fair if you are one of the people affected by budget cuts that you had no part in creating,” she said. “Some people will lose their jobs as part of this budget cut; that is unfortunately a fact.”...

Terry Fritter, an animal research technician and member of the Classified Staff Executive Committee, speaking for himself and not CSEC, said he hopes staff members and governance groups will be consulted on the potential for cost savings ahead of any layoffs. “Workers know where the savings can be found. We should be a part of both the savings and layoff process,” Fritter said.

"You know, I have, ever since I've been a little girl, felt the presence of God in my life. And it has been a gift of grace that has, for me, been incredibly sustaining."

"But, really, ever since I was a child, I have felt the enveloping support and love of God and I have had the experiences on many, many occasions where I felt like the holy spirit was there with me as I made a journey. It didn't have to be a hard time. You know, it could be taking a walk in the woods. It could be watching a sunset. You know, I am someone who has [been] talked a lot about my life. You know more about my life than you know about nearly anybody else's, about 60 books worth... some of which are, you know, frankly, a little bit off-base. But I don't think that I could have made my life's journey without being anchored in God's grace and without having that, you know, sense of forgiveness and unconditional love. And I am not going to point to one or another matter. I mean, some of my struggles and challenges have been extremely public. And I have talked about how I have been both guided and supported through those, trying to find my own way through, because, for me, my faith has given me the confidence to make decisions that were right for me, whether anybody else agreed with me or not. And it is just such a part of who I am and what I have lived through for so many years that trying to pull out and say, oh, I remember, I was sitting right there when I felt, you know, God's love embrace me, would be, I think, trivializing what has been an extraordinary sense of support and possibility that I have had with me my entire life."

Now, let's not laugh with too much uproarious contempt. She — and you know who we're talking about — was prodded with an invasive question:
Let's talk about your faith. And we warned people the questions tonight would be pretty personal. 
She is responsible for showing up at the Compassion Forum, "an evening with the Democratic presidential candidates to focus on the issues of faith and compassion and how a president's faith can affect us all."
So I want to ask you. You said in an interview last year that you believe in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. And you have actually felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on many occasions. Share some of those occasions with us.
Oh, holy hell, no! She couldn't say that, could she? And she'd dug her own hole by having already claimed to have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on many occasions. Was the Holy Ghost embracing her on this occasion?

The reason I'm resurrecting that old religiliciousness is that Hillary's possible 2016 opponent is getting kicked around for saying he would "punt" on some pushy question about religion (an effort to get him to misspeak about evolution). Scott Walker was in London, ostensibly to talk about foreign trade, and "asked... if he is comfortable with the idea of evolution," said "I'm going to punt on that one..." and: "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or another."

Imagine letting politicians decline to talk about religion! Imagine sparing them the need to show up at a "Compassion Forum" and blather about God's constant companionship. Imagine getting absolutely serious about the United States Constitution, Article VI, Clause 3:
[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
It's only the bullshitters and hypocrites who can nail these political probes into religious beliefs. That doesn't mean those who say they're "punting" — or it's "above my pay grade" — aren't bullshitting too. It's just that these really are questions a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or another.

Federal district judge Reed O'Connor rules that the federal Gun Control Act of 1968 violates the Second Amendment.

Notably, O'Connor applied strict scrutiny:
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which did not endorse any specific level of scrutiny for future Second Amendment cases, gun rights advocates have been urging the lower courts to practice strict scrutiny whenever appropriate.
Here's the PDF of the opinion, Mance v. Holder. Excerpt:

"If you care about your party and our country, you just do what you are asked.... If you care about yourself, you take your toys and go home."

What Jim Messina, co-chair of the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action, said to David Brock, quoted in a NYT piece titled "Emerging Hillary Clinton Team Shows Signs of Disquiet."

"He was very, very polite and very well dressed. I remember him in his three-piece suits... It was like teaching Alex P. Keaton."

Said a Marquette polisci professor, about Scott Walker, quoted in a Boston Globe article titled "Scott Walker’s political ambitions fostered at Marquette" (not to be confused with the Washington Post article about Scott Walker's college days, titled "As Scott Walker mulls White House bid, questions linger over college exit," blogged yesterday here).

So the professor likened young Scott Walker to the character on the 80s TV show "Family Ties," and — as we also saw in the WaPo article — another student called him "Niedermeyer," a character in the 1978 movie "Animal House."

Niedermeyer had lines like: "And most recently of all, a 'Roman Toga Party' was held from which we have received more than two dozen reports of individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here." And: "You're all worthless and weak! Now drop and give me twenty!"

Here's the whole script of "Animal House." The movie ends with freeze frames and a caption telling us what happened to each of the college boys in later life, and the final word on Douglas C. Niedermeyer is: "KILLED IN VIETNAM BY HIS OWN TROOPS." That got big laughter and applause in its day.

Why did fellow students call Scott Walker "Niedermeyer?

February 11, 2015

At the Deep Green Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

WaPo looks into Scott Walker's college days.

David A. Fahrenthold doesn't find anything new about why Scott Walker left Marquette without a degree — nothing beyond the official story that  he got a job. But there are interesting details about what young Walker was like:
On campus, Walker made a close group of friends, who gathered weekly to watch the iconic 1980s television drama “Thirtysomething” and cook dinner on Sunday nights. They remember Walker as fun, upbeat and cautious: If you were planning a prank, you knew not to even ask him to join in.

“Kind. He’s very kind,” said Mary Riordan, a friend who is now a speech pathologist. She could remember four medical emergencies in which Walker volunteered to drive her to the hospital.... “Scott carried me eight blocks to his car and drove me to the hospital,” Riordan said. “He became like my personal ambulance.”

But outside that group, Walker was known for something else: his political ambitions. If you met him, they were as plain as the photo of him with Ronald Reagan on his dorm-room desk. “He would comment that, you know, ‘I’m going to be president of the United States someday,’ ” said Patrick Tepe, a former dorm mate who is now a dentist....
A French teacher is quoted, saying that Walker would come to class late and make excuses without even putting them en français.  For some reason, this teacher says "I think I gave him a D-minus." Why would any teacher disclose a former student's grade to the press — even if he was sure he had it right? I thought that was not just unethical, but illegal.

Another teacher — of a course on the politics of the third world — drops  the opinion that Walker "seemed utterly bored," but reveals that he'd been hoping Walker would add drama to the class by getting into arguments with the liberals. Walker didn't perform that service, and the teacher dings him as disengaged. Is it fair to assume that this teacher is not currently a Walker supporter?  I can't imagine expressing disrespect for a former student of mine, and I would feel especially bound to circumspection if I wanted to see him fail in furthering his career!

There's some material in the article about Walker's campaign for student president. One of his antagonists says “We used to call him ‘Niedermeyer,’ ” and another mocks him for "talking about being an Eagle Scout." When Walker lost, [h]is friends say he handled it with grace, telling them the loss just meant that God had another plan."
“We are the real winners, because of the outstanding effort that we put in,” Walker wrote to Katie Cashman Flanagan, his campaign manager. Flanagan saved all three pages of the note in a scrapbook. “You have brought a great deal of good in my life.”...

“I thought that the guy was too nice to ever be successful in politics,” [Walker's roommate Stephen Satran] said.

"Whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University of Texas at Austin’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions decisions can be sustained under this Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin."

Abigail Noel Fisher after getting sent back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals attempts a return to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Is it ridiculous to think that Brian Williams "'conflated' the helicopter he rode in 12 years ago with a different helicopter he saw and reported about that day"?

You wouldn't think so if you have an informed and nuanced understanding of the human the human mind, says Bob Wright in The New Republic.
Kenneth Norman, a psychologist at Princeton, studies how memories get distorted via “interactions between medial temporal structures and [the] prefrontal cortex.”... Norman likes to tell students about the time he was recounting to a friend something that had happened to him when he realized that it actually hadn’t happened to him. How did he know? Because it had happened to the friend he was talking to.... The memory Norman had appropriated was of seeing a famous actor in a particular restaurant. It was a restaurant he had actually been in, and the actor was someone he had seen—just not in person. So the key visual elements for the false memory were in place, ready for a little dramatic tweaking....

[Brian Williams] knew there were other witnesses to the original story. And, since he’s not stupid, that probably means his fabrications weren’t conscious and intentional, but, rather, were an illustration of human memory working as human memory often works. 

Why would human brains be so fallible? The best guess is that, from the point of view of the brain’s creator, natural selection, unreliable memory is a feature, not a bug....

A response — from Romanians — to #RichKidsOfInstagram.

It's the very charming "Little Money, Big Fun."

"The way it’s packaged in the store, it’s so real, and it’s so fresh, and you don’t see chickens with their feathers and blood all over them, and their expression, with their tongue hanging out."

It = raccoon.
Inspectors from the LA County Health Department visited the Metro Supermarket in Temple City on Tuesday, after being informed that the market was selling raccoons as food.

Employees at the market declined to appear on camera, but did show entire raccoons, frozen, bagged, and selling for $9.99 per pound. The employees say raccoon is considered a delicacy in China.
Well, is that so terrible? Maybe we meat-eaters ought to have to see the "expression" on the face of the being whose death we find acceptable for our needs and pleasures. And why shouldn't the consumer take possession of the fur? Eat enough raccoon, and you could have a nice fur coat.

The blog-shaped object as an endangered species.

"There’s an increasingly common view... that old-fashioned conversational blogging is being killed by social media, because the big traffic is driven now by Facebook and Twitter, which can only trade in quick hits. Long conversations don’t go viral. Bloggers linking to each other can only ever be small scale,"  writes William Finnegan, in The New Yorker.
The Dish was a singularity, in that it was a freestanding business, basically selling just a distinctive, unedited voice—Sullivan’s. It’s not that there are no excellent political bloggers left. There are. But they tend to be attached to large publications, like Paul Krugman, at the Times (or John Cassidy, at this magazine). Bloggers with a particular expertise are thriving—in economics, notably. It’s the unaffiliated generalist who’s endangered. Sullivan says he loved shooting from the hip, reacting to the news as fast and as candidly as he could. Since he is given to intellectual drama, he often overreacted, and much of the entertainment of the Dish was watching him walk back his more outrageous arguments....
It’s the unaffiliated generalist who’s endangered. I take it that Finnegan means for us to read "endangered" in the sense of "endangered species," as if there was at time when Unaffiliated Generalist Bloggers reigned, and now these creatures are dying out. I don't feel endangered, because I am in control of how long this enterprise continues. But those of use who  like to read individualistic, endless writing from authentic bloggers may feel we are in danger of getting cut off by our suppliers. But I don't think there ever were all that many real blogs of the Andrew Sullivan kind. The supply was always short, and we readers of blogs always faced scarcity.

It may seem as though blogs were plentiful pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter, but Twitter and Facebook are essentially blogs. These are simply minor tweaks in the format. There's a big difference in where the money flows. Facebook and Twitter have successfully captured the money, not that blogs were ever very good at channeling money to the blogger. Facebook and Twitter may satisfy some writers by giving them the impression that they are in a big place, with an audience.

On a traditional blog, you can see (or ignore) whether you have traffic. When you know you have readers, it's an incentive to keep the old-school blog going, to keep the café open. But even with good traffic, you'll probably find — as I think Andrew Sullivan did — that the money isn't good enough to make sense of all this work.

And yet, I've always thought — from the first day 11 years ago — that it is the intrinsic value of the writing that sustains blogging. Without that, you don't have a blog. You have a blog-shaped object.

David Axelrod wants us to believe that he thinks we're terrible for only looking for juicy bits in his supposedly finely wrought meditation on politics called "Believer."

And if you can believe that, he's got a first-term Senator for President he can sell you. Or, well, we did believe him back then, he believes, so why won't we believe that this book of his is something more than what "modern media" is making of it?
“More than anything, this is what’s terrible about modern media and how these books roll out,” Axelrod says. “I was determined to write a book that wasn’t going to be characterized by some titillating nugget that had about a three-day half-life, but rather an entire story of my life and the conclusions that life has led me to. I wanted to write a book that people might want to read years from now and not just today’s publication because they wanted to find out who had been knifing who.”
But why would we believe that you have written a thoughtful tome of this sort? What in the entire story of your life could move us to believe that you'd produce a work of timeless literature or even solid personal memoir that tells the truth about what happened and reveals the actual "conclusions that life has led [you] to"?

Even now as you try to bullshit us into believing "Believer" is worth believing, you say things like:

Jon Stewart is leaving "The Daily Show" and Brian Williams is leaving "NBC Nightly News."

Williams is suspended for 6 months. I guess they want to see if we'll forget why he left and start wondering why he's gone, so they can bring him back. That's all very lame and pathetic, and I don't watch the nightly news, so there's a limit to my outrage about NBC's wan interest in the truth.

Stewart is gone for good, presumably, and by his own choice. 
Mr. Stewart, whose contract with Comedy Central ends in September, disclosed his plans during a taping of the program on Tuesday.

Saying that “in my heart, I know it is time for someone else” to have the opportunity he had, Mr. Stewart told his audience that he was still working out the details of his departure, which “might be December, might be July.”

“I don’t have any specific plans,” Mr. Stewart said, addressing the camera at the end of his show, at times seeming close to tears. “Got a lot of ideas. I got a lot of things in my head. I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people.”
Reading that, I feel a tad skeptical. The man is in contract negotiations! Comedy Central just lost Stephen Colbert, and Stewart must believe they really need continuity on "The Daily Show." Stewart has stayed in his place there for 16 years, while his subordinate comedians — Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver — have moved on to bigger things. They owe him. His departure might be December, might be July? Might be years from now! Throw more money at Mr. Stewart, Comedy Central, you cheap bastards! Show some respect! Show some gratitude!

He said he wants to spend more time with his family. That's code for: I didn't want to have to leave. Isn't it?

That reminds me of something from this Daily Beast article about David Axelrod and his new book that's going to be the basis of my next post:
["Believer: My Forty Years in Politics"] recounts... his parents’ divorce and his father’s subsequent suicide; and his guilty conscience over his own role as an often-absent parent, working on out-of-town campaigns while his wife, Susan, kept the family together as they confronted the challenge of raising a daughter seriously disabled by epileptic seizures.

“It was painful to write some of that,” Axelrod says, noting that he as he put together the family chapters, he sent them to his eldest son, Michael, as a cautionary note: “Don’t do to your kids what I did to you.”

February 10, 2015

"Charles Manson called off his wedding to his much younger fiancée after he learned she only wanted him for his body..."

"... once he was dead, that is."

ADDED: "Afton Elaine Burton... and a pal, Craig Hammond, planned to lay out Manson’s remains in a glass cryp... The pair figured their bizarre California version of Lenin’s Tomb would draw huge crowds and make big money."



That's not the best picture in the set. The last one is great. But you'll have to go through the whole sequence at The Puparazzo to fully experience it.

"I’m just not very good at bullshitting," Obama bullshitted to David Axelrod.

The specific subject that prompted Obama to disparage his own bullshitting skills was same sex marriage, which — to get elected in 2008 — Obama claimed to oppose based on religion.
Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even as Obama publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages. Axelrod also admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons. “Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union,’ ” Axelrod writes [in "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics"].
What Obama said was: "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman... Now, for me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix." I knew at the time he was lying, didn't you? I don't need an Axelrod book to say so. When Obama made that statement — at the Saddleback Presidential Forum, August 16, 2008 — I was live-blogging:
7:25: Define marriage. It's "the union of a man and a woman," and for him as a Christian, it's "sacred" and "God's in the mix." How about a constitutional amendment saying that? No. The tradition has been to leave this to state law. He admits that there is a concern about same-sex marriage, which he doesn't support, but he likes civil unions. He seems a little robotic intoning this position. I'm sure in his heart he supports full rights for gay people, but obviously, at this point, he can't say it.
And here's something I blogged right after the election in November 2008 (when some people were saying it wasn't fair that Obama's bullshit was used in robo-calls to prompt Californians to vote for Prop 8, which put the ban on gay marriage into the California constitution):
So Obama was instrumental in getting Prop 8 passed. What do you think of that? Some Obama supporters say it wasn't fair to use Obama like that. After all, Obama also said Prop 8 was "divisive and discriminatory." But that's absurd. Obama had to know that his words would be used by opponents of same-sex marriage. He himself is an opponent of same-sex marriage... except to the extent that he isn't, and I certainly think in his heart he's not, but that in his head he knew he had to say he was to get elected.

I don't blame him for this dishonesty. I think it's like the dishonesty of professing a belief in God if you don't have it. You're not going to get elected without that dishonesty, so we can just forget about all the good people who don't lie about such things. They're not going to make it to the presidency. Not in the near future anyway. But you can't have it both ways. You're responsible for the position you avow, and the Prop 8 proponents did nothing wrong using his voice like that. 

"A Dane County judge will allow a lawsuit over Madison teacher contracts to go forward in its entirety..."

"The lawsuit, brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty with conservative blogger David Blaska as plaintiff, seeks a declaration that teacher contracts for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years violate Act 10, the legislation that virtually eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public workers."

The Madison School District and Madison teachers union argued that Blaska lacked standing, but Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess said (correctly) that under Wisconsin law, to sue local government, "a taxpayer need only show that he has sustained, or will sustain, some pecuniary loss, however infinitesimal."

(Act 10 is the legislation that led to all the protests here in Wisconsin, back in 2011.)

The loss of a face.

Oh, no! Uma!

ADDED: It is so foolish to think this kind of work is good for an aging face. The moviemakers always have new talent flowing into the business. There are always more genuinely fresh, pretty, young faces. Why would anyone want to look at the unfresh faking of such a face? You were the young woman once, and you edged out older women in your time. Now, either withdraw gracefully, or find your way into roles that fit your place on the timeline of life. If you're not a good enough actress to claim those roles, that's a good sign that you got more than your share of roles because of your beauty when you were young. You should be grateful — grateful and graceful.

Does the word "inoculate" relate to words about the eye like "ocular"?

That's your language test for today. Did you get it right? The answer is yes! "Inoculate" is built on the root "oculus," meaning "eye." Understanding this will help you remember to spell the word right and not succumb to the urge to double the "n."

Do you see why "inoculate" has to do with the oculus? Think of the eye of a potato. The oldest meaning of "inoculate" is horticultural, the (unlinkable) OED tells us:
To set or insert (an ‘eye’, bud, or scion) in a plant for propagation; to subject (a plant) to the operation of budding; to propagate by inoculation; to bud (one plant) into, on, or upon (another).
Then we get the figurative use, the oldest example of which comes in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" (1604):
Vertue cannot so enoculat [1623 innocculate] our old stock, but we shall relish of it.
The use of "inoculate" in the context of fending off disease arrives in 1722, in the London Gazette: "The Experiment of inoculating the Small-Pox upon..Criminals."

Speaking of eyes and having — in the first post today — spoken of the 10 Commandments, I wanted to show you a photo I took last December, a closeup of the monument on the grounds of the Texas State House (the one the U.S. Supreme Court left standing):


What's up with the eye?


All the Supreme Court said about that eye was: "An eagle grasping the American flag, an eye inside of a pyramid, and two small tablets with what appears to be an ancient script are carved above the text of the Ten Commandments."

Here's the Wikipedia article on "The Eye of Providence (or the all-seeing eye of God)...."

"Ron Paul is making me see that the measles vaccine is a stalking horse."

"What is really going on is getting massive numbers of Americans to accept the government mandating health care and supplanting individual choice. We're being conditioned. We're getting inoculated against an anti-government reaction we'd have if other mandates came first."

Said I, reacting to a post over at Facebook that links to something Ron Paul said.

ADDED: At Facebook, Annie Gottlieb asks if I "feel differently about state and local mandates, as opposed to federal?" And I say:
What feelings are you attibuting to me, Annie? I didn't say I was opposed to mandating vaccines. I'm just saying I think mandating vaccines could be something that has jumped to the forefront politically because it works well to serve the purpose of denying us choice in all sorts of things, such as what foods we can eat and whether we must exercise and so forth. As for what level of government will be imposing this on us, I think the federal govt is more dangerous because you lose the ability to relocate to another state you might like better.

"Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers," says the Governor of Illinois.

"An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights — and something that, as governor, I am duty bound to correct."

Illinois has a new governor. Have you noticed? It's Bruce Rauner, a Republican, and Illinois is now having an experience something like what happened in Wisconsin 4 years ago.
“Bruce Rauner’s scheme to strip the rights of state workers and weaken their unions by executive order is a blatantly illegal abuse of power,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of Afscme Council 31. “Perhaps as a private equity C.E.O., Rauner was accustomed to ignoring legal and ethical standards, but Illinois is still a democracy and its laws have meaning. It is crystal clear by this action... that the governor’s supposed concern for balancing the state budget is a paper-thin excuse that can’t hide his real agenda: silencing working people and their unions who stand up for the middle class.”...

Some critics of the governor said it was clear why he had chosen to make an executive order rather than offer a legislative proposal. The state’s legislative chambers are controlled by Democrats, many of whom have received union support over the years. On Monday evening, the reaction from legislative leaders seemed surprisingly tempered.
Unlike Rauner, Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker, had a Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 (and now). The Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature erupted in outrage alongside the protesters who stormed and besieged the our capitol back then. Why are the Illinois Democrats so calm?
“Our legal staff is reviewing the governor’s executive order regarding fair share,” said the [Illinois] Senate president, John Cullerton, a Democrat. “At the same time, I look forward to hearing the governor’s budget as we search for common ground to address our fiscal challenges.”
Explain the calmness: 1. The Democrats have the majority, so they'll be in control and need to plot a careful response, 2. The Democrats feel vulnerable in the next election cycle, and Rauner is shining a light on what actually is something of a "corrupt bargain... crushing taxpayers," and an intemperate reaction would make them look guilty, 3. They know the budget needs hard work, and they rather appreciate Rauner's taking the front line against the unions, 4. All of the above/something else?

ADDED: The above-linked article (in the NYT) doesn't explain Rauner's legal move. Here's the Chicago Tribune. Rauner needs that First Amendment argument to overcome what is otherwise a statutory obligation to withhold money from non-union employees and to send it to the unions. Rauner is filing a lawsuit in federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment about whether free speech rights trump that statute. You might think this legal issue was settled long ago, and that resolution has been that the "fair share" extracted from the non-union employees covers the union's collective bargaining efforts that benefit all employees. The non-union workers are not charged for the portion of the union's activity that is political speech. But:

WaPo columnist says it's "trivial to compare" Roy Moore's trying to stop gay marriage in Alabama to George Wallace's blocking the door to racial integration at the University of Alabama.

But which way is it trivial? I couldn't believe the columnist Philip Bump could possibly say that what Moore is doing is a much bigger deal than what Wallace did, to the point where anyone just saying they are at the same level was being trivial, and Bump's convoluted verbosity makes it especially hard to see what one finds hard to believe. But I slogged through it, and I survived to report that Bump actually thinks Moore's resistance to the federal court requirement that Alabama immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is a far bigger deal that Wallace's resistance to integration.

Bump's hard-to-understand argument has to do with Obama's reelection in 2012 and the Republican victories in 2014.
Moore's move is very much in the "states' rights" vein of the 1960s, a 10th Amendment argument that's seen a renaissance in the era of a president who is deeply unpopular with Republicans. But it's hard to point to Moore's action as being simply Wallace redux when you consider the national picture. Boehner and McConnell are necessarily arguing for the primacy of local priorities, representing states and districts, not the whole country. In those places, Obama is so unpopular among their constituents that 66 percent of Republicans opposed working with Obama in the wake of last year's election; the response to his actions was similarly predictable. For the next two years, we have a Congress that was elected by Americans to be Republican and a president that was elected to be Democratic. Moore's battle is with the Supreme Court, hardly an arm of the Obama administration, but the political fervor he's likely to leverage echoes the strains in national politics.
Sorry to call attention to something so badly slapped together and so blatantly partisan in the bemoaning of partisanship, but I think the utter badness of the column deserves some attention.

I was surprised to see that Roy Moore was back on the Alabama Supreme Court. He got kicked out back in '03 over that 10 Commandments business. I hadn't noticed — or I'd forgotten — that he got elected to the position again in 2012. If it weren't for the reappearance of Moore, I would have passed by this topic — the same-sex topic of the week. There are so many of these states, falling one by one, to the seemingly inevitable consequences of earlier constitutional law decisions. I see the headlines, but, even though I've been blogging profusely about same-sex marriage since early 2004, I don't feel the call to blog every new state that finds itself subject to a judicial ruling. But Moore kicked up some resistance, and he's getting attention in the style that made him famous back in the simpler times, when passions swirled rather innocuously around 10 Commandments monuments, which no one gets heated up about anymore.

And I know this will bother some of you, but I think it's pretty obvious that in 10 years, we'll look back on the swirl of passion over same-sex marriage as something even more of the past than getting heated up over 10 Commandments monuments. People will be living their private lives, as they always have, and some of the people will be gay, as they always have been, and life will go on.

Meanwhile, "Clarence Thomas faults Supreme Court for refusing to block gay marriage in Alabama."
“This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question,” Thomas wrote in a dissent from the court’s order refusing to stay the weddings. “This is not the proper way to discharge our . . . responsibilities.”

He was joined by one other justice, Antonin Scalia, in saying the court should agree to postpone the weddings until the justices hear the same-sex-marriage case in April and rule by the end of their term in June.
Do we need any more "signal[s] of the Court’s intended resolution of that question"?

February 9, 2015

At the Deep Snow Café...


... everything is so thickly cushioned. It's hard to talk at all. But you can talk about anything you want here. Break that silence.

(And, please, if you've got some on-line shopping to do, enter Amazon through The Althouse Portal.)

"What happens when you fuse a waffle iron, a croissant, and '90s one-hit wonders Kris Kross?"

"The apocalypse. Also: IHOP's latest monstrosity, the puntastic Criss-Croissants, a name that the breakfast chain has trademarked. But there's no promise this breakfast mash-up will make you want to 'jump jump.'"


Did you know that the first job I ever had was waitress at the International House of Pancakes? Year: 1969. That year of years.

"Here’s The Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold."

Just some damned Gauguin for $300 million.

Whatever happened to those young girls? Are they even anybody... in the great scheme of artistic things?
To some, he is an artistic genius, the gifted post-Impressionist whose work inspired a generation of painters and sculptors including Picasso; to others he was a wife beater who became a despicable sex tourist, exploiting the Tahitian beauties he painted, before dying of syphilis and alcoholism....

"I’ve seen Prince in orange sequined pajamas. And I’ve seen the Golden Girls."

"But I’ve never seen Prince and ON the Golden Girls in orange sequined pajamas, and if there’s ANY way to describe this outfit, it’s That’s So Blanche."

"What It’s Like to Be a Really Hairy Woman."

"For hirsute women, the appearance of thick, dark hair on places not usually deemed 'feminine' kicks in during puberty, and it affects 5 to 10 percent of American females...."

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry asks Eric Holder to quack like a duck.

"You know, we call you ‘The Duck’ in nerdland... Would you quack for us?"

ADDED: Don't forget that Melissa Harris-Perry is "America's foremost public intellectual."

"The ego, faced with the prospect of its own dissolution, becomes hypervigilant, withdrawing its investment in the world and other people."

"It is striking that a single psychedelic experience — an intervention that [the neuuroscientist named Robin] Carhart-Harris calls 'shaking the snow globe' — should have the power to alter these patterns in a lasting way."

From "The Trip Treatment/Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results," by Michael Pollan. Great article. Read the whole thing.

I've been listening to the podcast version of the article, and the word "hypervigilant" is the one I remembered to search for the quote I wanted to blog. I was interested to see that The New Yorker has only ever used the word hypervigilant/hyper-vigilant 21 times.  (There was a time when The New Yorker was punctilious about consistency and would have stuck to one spelling of a word!) Here's an assortment:

MARCH 17, 2014: "The band, more New Wave than punk, hadn’t started yet, and the only thing to look at onstage was the opening band, whose members were packing up their equipment while hypervigilant girls in vampire makeup and torn fish-net stockings washed around them in a human tide that ebbed and flowed on the waves of music crashing through the speakers."

JUNE 17, 2013: "Caffeine prevents our focus from becoming too diffuse; it instead hones our attention in a hyper-vigilant fashion."

MARCH 29, 2013: "Following a first scare... some people... pay closer attention to how their body feels. Hypervigilance leads them to notice more symptoms—is that a new tingle?—and become more alarmed."

OCTOBER 24, 2011: "Carrie [Mathison, the character on 'Homeland'] lives by the cherished motto of the hypervigilant, 'Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not trying to kill you,' without suspecting for a moment that it’s excessive or the wrong way to look at things."

AUGUST 8, 2011: "'You can only be hyper-vigilant for so long,' the special-operations officer said. 'Did bin Laden go to sleep every night thinking, The next night they’re coming? Of course not. Maybe for the first year or two. But not now.'"

DECEMBER 13, 2010: "These symptoms he tells me in a matter-of-fact voice. In this way, the husband shifts to the wife the puzzle of what to make of such things, if anything; like certain emotions, too raw to be defined, this kind of information can be transferred only to another, the caring and hyper-vigilant spouse."

FEBRUARY 2, 2009: "Just as nervous fliers may think they can keep a plane in the air by being hypervigilant, many of us think we can keep Obama safe by watching him every second; in a way, it was reassuring not to see too much of him on the journey—it meant that he was O.K., that we didn’t have to worry about him."

"And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé and at this point, we tired of it."

"Because what happens is when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day. And they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place. Then they do this whole promotional event, that, you know, they’ll run the music over somebody’s speech, the artist, because they want a commercial advertising. Like no, we not playing with them no more. And by the way, I got my wife, I got my daughter, and I got my clothing line so I’m not going to do nothing to put my daughter at risk — but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything tonight. But y’all know what it meant when ‘Ye walked on the stage."

Kanye West at the Grammys, which I think is a reality show.

"With the wild success of 'The Lamentable Tragedie of Scott Walker' in the not-so-distant past and the controversial governor himself gearing up for a presidential bid..."

"... Broom Street Theater is once again staging a parody with Walker as its target. 'Greetings from Fitzwalkerstan' opens Friday, Feb. 13, at the small black box theater at 1119 Williamson St...."
Brian Leahy Doyle, a Wisconsin native who now lives out of state, said... "In 2011, I became aware of the Wisconsin Uprising, primarily through Facebook..."...

Most songs are original with a few parodies: "I Am Governor" is sung to the tune of "I Am Woman" — "I am governor, don'tcha know, from Baraboo to Peshtigo." A parody of "Rose's Turn" from "Gypsy" includes the refrain "everything's coming up cheese curds."...

"Lawmaker sorry for saying having child from rape is 'beautiful.'"

Pushback received by West Virginia state Rep. Brian Kurcaba, who favors a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for rape.
Kurcaba, a Republican from Monongalia, issued a statement Friday apologizing to "anyone who took my comments about the sanctity of human life to mean anything other than that all children are precious regardless of circumstances."
By the way, we are all descendants of rapists, aren't we? In the genetic line that led to each of us, there must be ancestors who were the product of a rape. How could it be otherwise?

ADDED: Let me front-page one of my own comments, which restates and elaborates on what I said above:
If every woman who was raped in all of human history and pre-history had had the ability to abort and had done so, not one single person who now lives on the face of the earth would exist. We all contain the inheritance of rape, and if life is beautiful, Kurcaba had a point. But it's a point they can kill you with in our aggressive American political discourse. That's the lesson here.
Imagine the completely different set of persons who would populate the earth instead of us if no rape-conceived child had every been born. What would they be like?!

Another perspective is: What are we like? What part of our cruelty and selfishness comes from this genetic inheritance?

A third thought experiment: If, beginning now, every woman would terminate every pregnancy caused by rape, how would humanity change?

"I was a young man back in the 1960's/Yes, you made your own amusements then...."

Lyrics to an old Incredible String Band song that played in my old mind as I read "The Best Decade Ever? The 1990s, Obviously":
Nostalgia for the era in which you were young is almost inevitable, so people born between 1970 and 1990 feel a natural fetishistic fondness for that decade. But even for the rest of us, the ’90s provoke a unique species of recherche du temps perdu, not mere bittersweet reveling in the passage of time. No, looking back at the final 10 years of the 20th century is grounds for genuine mourning: It was simply the happiest decade of our American lifetimes.
I'm skipping the part about politics and economics (even though Bill Clinton wants attention).
What is the most remarkably successful literary creation of the last several decades? The Harry Potter novels, the first three of which appeared in the ’90s. Supertalented literary youngsters appeared...And supertalented literary geezers...  produced some of their best and most successful work as well. The quality of television radically improved... In feature films, it was the decade of “Pulp Fiction” and the indie movement...
ADDED: The linked essayist, Kurt Anderson, never gets around to saying that 90s feel so good is the good feeling got cut off so harshly and abruptly on September 11, 2001. The closest he comes is:
Americans have never much liked paying attention to foreign countries and their problems (see Rwanda, 1994), so the decade between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the war on terror was very much our cup of tea.

When Paul McCartney, standing alone, enacted the old-time rock-concert spirit, and none of the rest of the music business bigwigs caught it.

At the Grammys, as Jeff Lynne and "what’s left of Electric Light Orchestra" played "Evil Woman” and “Mr. Blue Sky":

"Bigwigs" seemed like the best word for the job at hand. I didn't pick it in order to give Sia more prominence than she already has, but she did come to the Grammys looking like this. I guess that might look cool to people who don't remember Carol Channing:

February 8, 2015

"If a man and a woman are equally drunk, should he be found guilty of assaulting her because she was too intoxicated to agree to sex, even though he himself may have been too drunk to know that?"

A question asked by Judith Shulevitz in a NYT op-ed titled "The Best Way to Address Campus Rape."

I think there is something very wrong with that question, because — for all its effort at equality — it's got an unacknowledged double standard. Shulevitz doesn't even notice her failure to ask: If a man and a woman are equally drunk, should she be found guilty of assaulting him because he was too intoxicated to agree to sex, even though she herself may have been too drunk to know that?

On Fox News Sunday today, Ben Carson basically stated that he's running for President.

From the transcript:
CHRIS WALLACE: I want to talk, now surprisingly, some politics with you. You say that some people have been brainwashed that they think that only politicians can run for office and I wonder when you said that whether you were thinking about me, because as you know I've raised with you, we're friends, the questions about your prospects in running for president and I've got to say you have proven me wrong. We're going to put up two recent polls. The latest Fox News national poll, you are in fourth place behind Bush and Huckabee and Paul, but ahead of a whole lot of other people. Then let's look at Iowa, where you are in fourth place, but you are running ahead of Jeb Bush and a bunch of senators and governors. So, and I say this is a bit of a mea culpa, Dr. Carson, why are you connecting with voters?

"Classic typo," I say when Meade points out the now corrected "teh" in the previous post.

'"It's so classic that it's become..." he says, and I finish the sentence "...a meme."

"I bet there's a Wikipedia article on it," I say, and I'm right!

"Escaping notice need not be about complacent isolation, mindless conformity or humiliating anonymity."

"When circumstance confers invisibility upon us, perhaps it is something to appreciate and even welcome, as some iteration of the small imprint, low-impact living it makes sense to aspire to."

From a NYT op-ed title "How to Be Invisible," by Akiko Busch, author of the book “The Incidental Steward: Reflections on Citizen Science.”

"[T]he riddle to Detroit’s struggles is... easy to solve. This formerly advanced city is still clinging to work that America’s richest cities years ago waved goodbye to."

"Cities like New York thrive precisely because they don’t live in the past, while Detroit continues to implode precisely because it does."

Neil Armstrong was supposed to leave that purse on the moon.

But he brought it home and stowed it in the closet.
After Neil Armstrong's death, his widow, Carol, discovered a white cloth bag in a closet, containing what were obviously either flight or space related artifacts. She contacted Allan Needell, curator of the Apollo collection at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and provided photographs of the items. Needell, who immediately realized that the bag—known to the astronauts as the Purse - and its contents could be hardware from the Apollo 11 mission....

The conservative argument against Governor Scott Walker's education reforms.

From Peter Lawler, a professor of politics and political philosophy at at Berry College, here's a piece titled "What Gov. Scott Walker Misses About Higher Education/Most Republican leaders, including potential presidential candidate Scott Walker, don’t understand that focusing college solely on careers serves leftism."
You really do find in higher education a lot of complacent politically correctness, relativism, and partisan self-indulgence. “Civic engagement” for college credit seems often to mean enlightening the rubes in the local communities about their true interests, which are almost always in the direction of redistribution in the service of equality, green initiatives, insufficient liberation regarding “relational autonomy,” sensitivity to diversity, and so forth....

But if Walker had looked more closely, he would have seen that on most of our campuses political correctness and careerism now go hand in hand....
Rod Dreher at The American Conservative reads Lawler and concludes:
It really does fall to us conservatives who appreciate and support the humanities to stand up to people like Gov. Walker. They mean well, but what they don’t understand is that it is difficult to impossible to quantify the value of learning in the humanities. You can’t map virtue on a spreadsheet, and you can’t do a pie chart to demonstrate why it helps the bottom line to learn the best that humanity has thought, written, composed, painted, and so forth. As Lawler avers, the wisdom embedded in the humanities, as traditionally understood (read: not “Queering John Locke,” “Post-Colonial Narratives in Lady Gaga,” etc.), offer the only firm standpoint from which to defend the human person against the Leviathan of Washington, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley.
IN THE COMMENTS: traditionalguy said:
Berry College is the private north Georgia. Liberal arts school founded to extend college opportunity to poor mountain folks that had no chance at scholarships to big State Schools. Berry school is now the focal point for College scholarships for abandoned children that have been raised in foster families under a Foundation that donates the money for both. That money comes from one man who sells chicken....I mean Chik-Fil-A sandwiches.

I doubt this is directed against Walker. It may help him by making reform of education the issue.

100 years ago today: D.W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation" is released.

Wikipedia says:
The film is... credited [sic] as one of the events that inspired the formation of the "second era" Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in the same year. The Birth of a Nation was used as a recruiting tool for the KKK. Under Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, it was the first motion picture to be screened in the White House. Despite the film's controversial content, Griffith's innovative film techniques make it one of the most important and influential films in film history.
Here, you can watch the whole thing:

Arb turkeys.




Seen today in the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.

"People ask me sometimes, when — when do you think it will it be enough? When will there be enough women on the court?"

"And my answer is when there are nine," said Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Of course, her answer is rigorously, gloriously correct, and if you don't see exactly why, reveal your incomprehension in the comments, and I will explain, but for now, I'm going to trust in the lucidity of human intelligence and resist tedious pedantry.

"I'm utterly uninterested in the news that Williams is stepping away from his job for a few days."

I wrote that last night as a footnote to a subject that did interest me: Maureen Dowd's revelation that NBC executives knew Brian Williams had a problem of "constantly inflating his biography" and that it had become "a joke in the news division." Why was nothing done about it?

I was writing on my iPad last night, so it was too hard to elaborate, but now that I've got a keyboard, I wanted to say that there are 2 reasons why I'm not interested in the news that "Brian Williams is stepping away from NBC Nightly News for a number of days."

1. Williams should be fired. A voluntary (or coerced) hiatus is too piddling to matter.

2.  I never watch any nightly new shows. It's like a corruption scandal in a sport I don't watch.

I think in the whole time I've been writing this blog, I watched a nightly news show exactly once: to check out the debut of Katie Couric as a network news anchor: "Okay, I'm watching the Katie Couric show." ("It's so annoying to feel forced into it!...)

I do watch the Sunday morning talk shows — ugh, they'll probably blab too much about Brian Williams today — but that's because they are bloggable — more analysis of the news I've already read (and there are transcripts).

The nightly news shows — if I remember them correctly — present summaries of news stories that I already know about through reading. I guess I could blog about the slanting and distorting and the choice of stories, but I can't bring myself to care by the end of the day when I've already applied my bloggerly attention to the printed mainstream media like the NYT and the Washington Post. And there's no transcript.

The network news just doesn't seem important anymore. Good news for Brian Williams: There's a limit to the damage you've done. (I must say, I feel a little sorry for him — his lying seems pathological, the man appears to be mentally disordered — but he makes $10 million a year, so... no pity.)

It's those network executives who deserve our contempt. Their failure to do anything when they knew for so long about his problem shines a light into the abyss of their standards.