April 4, 2015

State Street in Madison.

The Badgers Café is open...


... talk about basketball...


... or the protest panty-liners that are all over town today... or anything else you want.

Go Badgers.

And go Spartans. You know I picked Michigan State and Wisconsin for the final game. I told you that on March 17th:
So I looked at the NYT interactive tool, and I made it so Wisconsin plays Michigan State in final game. I used some sophisticated ranking tools to make that happen.
UPDATE: Victory!

"These five barriers, or Five D’s if you will, are all substantial and unyielding."

"Taken together they may seem invincible. They are interrelated, but still distinct. Think of them as concentric circles around the citadel of the self, with distance as the first line of defense and identity as the final, innermost defense."
The anti-climate movement has been successful in triggering each of these barriers in its battle against climate science. But inadvertently, climate communicators have activated them, too, for instance by conveying climate facts through abstract graphs and long time lines, using framing that backfires, not linking risks to opportunities for action, relying on bad storytelling, and provoking self-protective and cultural cognition by unnecessary polarization....

"How Much Does Italy Owe Amanda Knox? A Lot."

A Vanity Fair article by Judy Bachrach. Excerpt:
Why charge two students with no history of violence? Absent any credible evidence everyone—judges, jurors, media—turned to a one-word answer: sex. Sex made Amanda do just about everything.

This obsession with the American girl’s sex life followed her into prison. Early on, prison authorities falsely informed her that she was H.I.V.-positive, at which point she plunged into despair. Back in her cell, Knox wrote up a list of her previous lovers—which in short order, was leaked to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and quoted extensively by an Italian author who came up with what would become a habitual media conclusion, one she confided to The Sunday Times: “It’s as if [she] were always hunting men.”

Thus Knox became every Italian mamma’s worst nightmare: the classic blonde, American manipulator of men. Luciferina with an angel’s face, an Italian newspaper called her. Luciferina was dutifully echoed in the courtroom: the girl was obviously involved in some kind of satanic rite....

"The state capitol reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has tracked Wisconsin political drama locally for a decade."

"But with Governor Scott Walker instituting sweeping policies and then navigating a presumed presidential campaign, [Jason] Stein has found that he is no longer just elbowing in-state competitors for scoops." A piece in the Columbia Journalism Review.
The incursion of national media doesn’t negate institutional knowledge local outlets have spent decades building, but it is forcing them to make clever use of minimal resources, as each makes its bid to be a national leader in Scott Walker coverage while still keeping up with the state’s everyday political news....

There have only been three serious presidential candidates from Wisconsin since 1924, so even veteran reporters in the state are on new ground....

"The most important invention is the washing machine. Any other technology comes second."

Said the 95-year-old German woman, who lived through the Nazi era and is doing an ask-me-anything on Reddit today.

And somebody says "So that TED talk was right after all!" and links to:
What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine.... Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading.
That made me think about the description of wash day in "The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I":

The Oscar Robertson Trophy is badly designed...

... I googled (after seeing the University of Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky posing with the award as the USBWA's national player of the year). The first hit was — in Sports Illustrated — "The Oscar Robertson Trophy is unfortunately shaped."

More bluntly stated — at a place called The Daily Dot — is: "Oscar Robertson's statue has a big rod going up his butt":
The 76-year-old Robertson is reportedly kind of a grouch these days — but no word yet on what he thinks of the ridiculous statue commissioned to honor Kaminsky's inside game.

Finally, some cake other than same-sex wedding cake is in the news...

... in this NYT interview with Senator Tom Cotton:
Do you have any guilty pleasures? I run a lot every morning.

That sounds neither guilty nor pleasurable. But I do it so I can indulge in the guilty pleasure of eating birthday cake.

Every day? Most days, with ice cream. Early on, when my wife and I were dating, we went to the grocery store, and I told her that sometimes I just buy birthday cakes, and I eat them. And she said: “Really? I do, too.”
IN THE COMMENTS: Ignorance is Bliss asks: "Is a cake a birthday cake if it wasn't bought for someone's birthday?"

I think the best answer to that is that Tom Cotton and his wife like to eat a kind of cake that they think of as "birthday cake." Either they like the idea of calling it "birthday cake" or they go stores where it is labeled birthday cake or has "Happy Birthday" written in the icing. What kind of people are they that they enjoy that kind of cake — light, spongy cake with thick, sugary white icing— or they get a kick out of a birthday feeling when it's not anyone's birthday?

I think of 2 things:

1. The Beatles "You say it's your birthday/It's my birthday too." When that song came out, it was generally understood — as I remember it — to refer to something other than one's actual birthday. Both Paul McCartney and John Lennon said later that they just set out to write a birthday song. Paul said it wasn't anyone's birthday, but birthday songs get played. And John said "It was a piece of garbage." If I remember correctly, we hippies of the time thought The Beatles were offering the theory that every day is your birthday or every day that you achieve heightened awareness of your existence is a birthday.

2. The idea of an "un-birthday" in the Humpty Dumpty chapter of Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass," which is combined with Carroll's Mad Hatter's Tea Party (from "Alice In Wonderland") in the Disney movie "Alice in Wonderland." In the movie, Alice arrives at the party as the Hatter and others are singing "A Very Merry Unbirthday to You." In the book, Humpty Dumpty explains that "there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents... And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!" Alice doesn't understand his use of the word "glory," which leads Humpty Dumpty to utter his most famous line (beloved of lawyers): "When I use a word... it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less." (In this view, "glory" means "a nice knock-down argument.") I'm thinking that when Tom Cotton eats cake, it's birthday cake if he chooses to think of it as birthday cake.

Is everything exploding at Salon?

I happened to stop by Salon yesterday because someone at Facebook had pointed me to "Jonathan Franzen is guilty of 'extreme intellectual dishonesty,' according to the Audubon Society/Franzen hit first, but the National Audubon Society hit harder." Notice all that hitting and the ugly words "extreme" and "guilty." Something terrible must be happening, right? No, Jonathan Franzen just had an article in The New Yorker saying that the Audubon Society is letting the big issue of climate change divert its attention from practical things that can be done now to conserve birds. I ended up blogging the New Yorker article, but I'd left open the tab to Salon "extreme intellectual dishonesty" article. Looking at that page this morning, I'm noticing the sidebar of "most read" articles, and I'm seeing way more emotion than makes any sense. I'll add boldface to make my point:
I called him pathetic, he accused me of ruining his life: What children did to our marriage...

Boomer parents destroyed us: I needed rules and boundaries, not parents who want to be friends...
These seem to be routine articles about the challenges of living in families, but somehow it's all ruination and destruction. Absurd!
The right's made-up God: How bigots invented a white supremacist Jesus

Republicans' "Hitler" idiocy: Why their hysterical Iran pushback exposes a secret

Why I left the GOP
That last one is calm. I'll just assume "I" left the GOP because the GOP is a bunch of hysterical, bigoted, delusional, pushy, racist idiots.
Yelp users hilariously revolt against Indiana pizza shop that refuses to cater same-sex weddings

Funny or Die skewers homophobic businesses in pitch-perfect Indiana spoof
Here, the metaphorical acts of violence — revolting and skewering — are presented as wonderful comedy because they punish citizens who deserve it for not achieving the right level of acceptance of gay people.
America's angriest white men: Up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy...

"They're human beings!": David Letterman blasts Indiana over anti-gay law...

Ted Cruz goes ballistic over "radical" idea that gay people should enjoy equality

Michelle Obama absolutely kills it in the "Evolution of Mom Dancing Part 2"
Apparently, everything is exploding. I guess Salon has its internal research showing this is what people click on. To me, it looks inane. I wish readers would develop resistance to this kind of manipulation. We should laugh at this desperation. Or — I don't know — look at Salon's evident belief that we slaver over violence and have a nuclear meltdown of outrage.

April 3, 2015

PolitFact fact-checks Scott Walker's claim that he bought a sweater for $1 at Kohl's.

PolitFact justifies paying attention to this trivia on 2 grounds: 1. It's hearing from readers who are saying it's impossible to believe, and 2. It's relevant to Walker's "major theme... that he is just an average guy."

It turns out that Walker made the claim about a "Chaps Twisted Button Mock Sweater" that could be found at Kohl's marked down from $70 to $7, and Walker said he'd used his "Kohl’s Cash," which is some kind of bonus system for regular customers: "Thus, he could have easily gotten one for $1 out-of-pocket. We rate the claim True."

The last of winter....


Meade took that picture of me taking a picture of the receding ice on Lake Mendota on March 30. The view is from Governor Nelson State Park, and we've returned there twice since that day. It's our go-to out-of-the-city walk. Here's what I was photographing — different camera, different blueness:


"It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away."

"Everyone told me it would happen one day but that's simply not something I wanted to hear, much less experience. Once again I didn't get things my way! That's been the story of my life all my life... I apologize for making sweet Bonnie wear No Frills jeans when she was little and for 'red-shirting' Scott in kindergarten. Apparently each of these things was humiliating to them but both were able to rise above their shame and become very successful adults. I'd also like to apologize to Mary Ann for tearing up her paper dolls and to Betsy for dating a guy she had a crush on.... So… I was born; I blinked; and it was over...."

From the obituary of Emily Phillips, written by Emily Phillips, who died at the age of 69, 29 days after learning that she had pancreatic cancer.

ADDED: The obituary made Neo-Neocon think of the play "Our Town" — "It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another" — and a couple other literary things.

"But climate change is seductive to organizations that want to be taken seriously."

"Besides being a ready-made meme, it’s usefully imponderable: while peer-reviewed scientific estimates put the annual American death toll of birds from collisions and from outdoor cats at more than three billion, no individual bird death can be definitively attributed to climate change (since local and short-term weather patterns have nonlinear causes). Although you could demonstrably save the lives of the birds now colliding with your windows or being killed by your cats, reducing your carbon footprint even to zero saves nothing. Declaring climate change bad for birds is therefore the opposite of controversial. To demand a ban on lead ammunition (lead poisoning is the foremost cause of California condor deaths) would alienate hunters. To take an aggressive stand against the overharvesting of horseshoe crabs (the real reason that the red knot, a shorebird, had to be put on the list of threatened U.S. species this winter) might embarrass the Obama Administration, whose director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, in announcing the listing, laid the blame for the red knot’s decline primarily on 'climate change,' a politically more palatable culprit. Climate change is everyone’s fault—in other words, no one’s. We can all feel good about deploring it."

Writes Jonathan Franzen in a New Yorker article titled "Carbon Capture/Has climate change made it harder for people to care about conservation?"

What the Democrats' fund-raising over the Indiana RFRA looks like:

Why those 3? It makes me wonder how Scott Walker handled it. On Charlie Sykes's radio show on Wednesday he said:
I just think this is people who are chronically looking for ways to be upset about things instead of really looking what it is. I believe in protecting religious freedoms. It’s inherent in our state’s constitution. Heck, it’s inherent in our U.S. Constitution, and again, Wisconsin, we’ve done it, and we’re stronger for it.

At the Garden Close-Up Café...


... you've got to get down to the right level.

"If you want to survive, come out! If you want to die, stay inside!"

"I knew those guys were lying," said Elosy Karimi, 23, one of the survivors, who stayed inside — inside the ceiling — for more than a day.

"Amazon’s new Dash Button... is not a joke."

"Many people assumed it was, mostly because the announcement came the day before April Fool’s, but also because the idea seemed to poke fun at Amazon’s omnipresence, making it visibly manifest with little plastic one-click shopping buttons adhered to surfaces all over your home," writes Ian Crouch in The New Yorker. "There was also something slightly off about the promotional video...."

"It is a form of soft discrimination that I fear might be all too familiar to all too many women..."

"... and often I find it hard to explain to my male friends and colleagues. Occasionally, I even find myself struggling to convince them that it is discrimination, and that it has consequences."

"Shortly after the accident, it became clear that PA had lost much of his memory; he didn't recognize his family..."

"... and the woman he'd been cheating with — whom he'd gone so far as to proclaim the 'love of [his] life' — was now a stranger to him, too. But more than that, it appeared he'd lost his own sense of self. He tended to 'cling to the identities of others,'his physicians write in the case report, by which they mean that he often believed he was whoever he happened to be around at the moment."

"Portland hipsters celebrating, mourning beloved airport carpet before its removal."

"News of the removal of the green, blue and pink geometric-patterned floor, set to be completed this fall, has triggered an overwhelming response from fans worldwide... There are over 42,000 photos of the flooring with the #pdxcarpet hashtag on Instagram alone."

"We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue."

A Facebook page devoted to ridding the Celoron, New York of the "frightening" statue of Lucille Ball.

We've talked about tearing down (or relocating) statues before, most recently in the context of communist propaganda, which might be good as sculpture per se but carries a message that the people of a particular place never wanted installed. Remember, you voted on it:

Now, the Lucy sculpture is different, because Lucy is not the symbol of a hated invader of Celoron, New York. She grew up there. They must love her. The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center is close by, and presumably they want Lucy lovers to make a pilgrimage. In that light, I think this statue is like the "Ecce Homo" painting in in the Sanctuary of Mercy church in Borja, Spain, the one no one came to see before it was rendered ludicrous by a well-meaning old lady:

It's a big tourist attraction these days, precisely because of its sublime badness. Perhaps this "We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue" campaign is just a trick to get the hilarious image out there so the next time you're barreling across I-80, you'll take that little detour and get that Instagram selfie you know you'll want. You'll look much better than that aging American couple who, subjects of a half-assed NYT travel article, posed happily with statues of Lenin and Stalin in Lithuania.

I know what you're thinking: But wasn't Lucille Ball a communist?
As she had in her sworn testimony before the [House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953], Lucy insisted she knew nothing of politics in 1936 and registered as a Communist only to please her grandfather, Fred Hunt, who was a zealous Socialist....

[Lucy's mother] Mrs. Desiree E. Ball and [Lucy's brother] Fred H. Ball... both testified they had registered to vote communist in 1936 as the actress did to please “Grandpa.”...

“We’re lucky this happened to us in America, where newspapermen ask the questions,” Desi said. “In other countries they shoot first and ask the questions later.”

"I have kind of flashes in my mind and I try to put them on paper. Thinking? No. That is too serious."

Says the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who does not go out:
I imagine the world from my window. I’m happy wherever I am. I’m very happy to be in the Mercer right now because I bring myself with me wherever I go, thank God. Traveling, I think it’s a nightmare today. The airports and things the people in the street with the selfies … I like to stay at home and read.

What are you reading?

I will not talk about that. I like to read biographies, history, philosophical things like this. But it’s for my private use, and not for making people say, Oh, how clever this stupid man is. I don’t make intellectual conversation. I’m very superficial. I’m just a fashion designer. Fashion designers look at fashion magazines, right?
I'm quite amused by his form of expression. Short sentences that tease. Is he brilliant or an idiot? It's one thing I loved about Andy Warhol. You should read the whole interview, especially if you're into cats. Lagerfeld is quite devoted to one cat. That made me wonder whether Andy Warhol was attached to cats, and I see he put out a limited-edition book called "25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy." 
[T]here is no text in the book. The calligraphy for the book was done by Julia Warhola, Warhol's mother.... Warhol's mother left the letter "d" off of the word "Name" in the title and Warhol kept the error in, as he liked the random imperfections which appeared in his creations resulting from the techniques he used. Both Warhol and his mother had a passion for cats and they were all named Sam except for one called Hester....
Anyway, I wanted to talk about Lagerfeld's statement "I’m happy wherever I am.... I bring myself with me wherever I go." It's a sunny variation of the old "Wherever you go, there you are." Here's an old-time-y web page devoted to it: "Where have you seen or heard the quote 'No matter where you go, there you are'?" The challenge is to find a source before the iteration in the movie "Buckaroo Banzai."

Some people think their own dad started it. Many others cite Confucius. Remember when everything used to be attributed to Confucius? I think that habit was broken when it became socially unacceptable to begin the attribution with "Confucius say" — that is, leaving the letter "s" off the word "say," not as a random imperfection in the manner of Andy's mother, but following a deeply embedded convention about how to represent Chinese in English.

Somebody finds it in the 15th century devotional work by Thomas a Kempis, "The Imitation of Christ":
"So, the cross is always ready and waits for you everywhere. You cannot escape it no matter where you run, for wherever you go you are burdened with yourself. Wherever you go, there you are."
Maybe "Imitation of Christ" one of those "philosophical things" Karl Lagerfeld is reading, cat Choupette on his lap, in the Mercer Hotel. Or is he, because he is a fashion designer, reading fashion magazines? Did you know Imitation of Christ is a fashion label?

Would it fit?

Cheap shot I'm taking so you don't have to, upon reading this Instapundit post:

Related: Could Chris Christie Appoint Himself To The U.S. Senate? Yes, He Can.
That's not really me making that joke. I disown it. It's just a joke that makes itself that I observed. I disapprove of it. For the record.

"I have 2 rules. One is you can’t criticize the families of the people who work here, and the other is you can't go after Fox."

Says Tucker Carlson about the (bad) news he owns, The Daily Caller.
The reason for the second rule, Carlson said, is... simply because he works there...

"That’s a conflicted situation, but I don’t know what to do about it... There is a conflict and I’m totally up front about it, I don’t lie at all, and you don’t criticize your employer, and that’s kind of 101."
He doesn't know what to do about it, but I do. I don't read The Daily Caller. Why would you?

"Here’s my perfect blog post. There’s a story in the news. People are interested. I know something other people don't..."

"... about this general area of law, and I can say it in a few paragraphs that I can just whip out. When a reader says, 'Huh, I hadn’t ever thought about that. I hadn’t seen this precedent. I hadn’t been aware of that legal doctrine. I hadn’t realized how this analogy would fit,' that makes me feel that I’ve done what I became an academic to do, which is to spread ideas."

Says Eugene Volokh, quoted in "Right Side of the Law: Eugene Volokh’s Global Influence/The wunderkind-turned-law professor is that L.A. anomaly: an influential conservative blogger."

The "wunderkind" part includes having his IQ tested at 206 when he was 12 and
— his words —  "socially inept" and "goofy," about which he says: "Kids who fit my profile have a difficult adolescence even in a normal junior high school and high school."

IN THE COMMENTS: Unknown says he thought that quote in the post title was about me, but it's clearly not my idea of the perfect blog post for myself. It's something I do sometimes, but it's not what I like to do or hope to do and it's not at all the energy behind this blog. The classic example of what I'm trying to do with this blog is the 2005 post "Tattoos remind you of death." I don't need a tattoo saying "'Tattoos remind you of death' reminds you how to blog" to remember that.

April 2, 2015

Cranky, fusty WaPo didn't appreciate Scott Walker's joke...

... yesterday.

But I did.

In case you've been wondering what Andres "Piss Christ" Serrano has been immersing himself in lately...

... the answer is extremely fuzzy, extremely passive bunny rabbits.
"It’s funny... I have this reputation of being a controversial artist, or a provocateur. For me, I would love to take pictures of cats and dogs — nice portraits of cats and dogs and children." He paused for a moment, and I imagined him imagining himself, photographing kittens and babies, maybe by a river somewhere, content and still as a rabbit. "But," he went on, "people expect something else of me."
 The life of a provocateur is not easy....

At the Tearing-Up-The-Street-In-Front-Of-Your-House Café...


... it's a little noisy in here.

"The co-pilot thought to have deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 had been trawling the Internet for ways to commit suicide..."

"... and had sought out information online about the safety mechanisms on cockpit doors, German prosecutors said Thursday."

How much of a Millennial are you? I'm 96%!

According to this Pew Research Center test "How Millennial Are You?"
Take our 14 item quiz and we’ll tell you how "Millennial" you are, on a scale from 0 to 100, by comparing your answers with those of respondents to a scientific nationwide survey.
I got there via this WaPo column titled "Your generational identity is a lie," by Philip Bump:
We obsess over our generations the way we obsess over our horoscopes, recognizing that it's a dumb approximation of who we are but mining every description for the details that we think are correct....

In its work, the Pew Research Center uses generational boundaries like "Millennial" (which it defines as those born between 1981 and 2000, a somewhat early end point compared to others). "They are somewhat arbitrary," said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew, of the generational descriptors. But generations as a concept can be "a worthwhile tool for storytelling, taking a lot of data and trying to put it into an interesting prism that speaks to people."
Yeah, that does sound like a horoscope.

"Russia could detonate nuclear weapons over Yellowstone supervolcano and San Andreas fault to completely annihilate America..."

... says this Kremlin military analyst named Konstantin Sivkov, according to The Daily Mail.

BUT: Turn on the TV right now. I heard that Obama was solving the Iran problem.

The Indiana RFRA "does not... authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of... sexual orientation [or] gender identity..."

According to the text of the amendment proposed by Indiana Republicans.

"For your master's degree: Name 5 conservative professors at UW-Madison."

Says David Blaska, linking to "The Closing of the Campus Mind" at The Weekly Standard.

I see that, in the comments, a couple people name me and that Larry Kaufmann says: "I'm not sure Ann Althouse qualifies." I agree with Larry. There's no way the University of Wisconsin deserves credit for having "conservatives" by having me. I support abortion rights and gay rights (and have for the entire 30 years I've been on campus). I've never denounced affirmative action. I've written articles in the feminist genre. What is supposed to be conservative about me other than that I have a blog where I take conservative arguments seriously and put them up for discussion and don't kick out the right wingers in the comments but only needle them with questions? To count me as a UW conservative would be to further acknowledge the dominance of the left: I irk them, so I must be what they don't like.

"We do, however, have a problem with the fact that those who are so quick to condemn Dunham say nothing about these men."

Writes Katie Halper — speaking for herself and her "Morning Jew" co-host Heather Gold — in a piece titled "9 comedy bits Lena Dunham critics need to call anti-semitic," pushing back the criticism of that Lena Dunham humor piece in the New Yorker, "Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz." Halper and Gold have the thesis that the criticism of Dunham comes from sexism, not any serious concern about anti-Semitism, and you can think about that. I'm just absolutely distracted by this sequence from Mel Brooks' "History of the World Part 1," which is a hell of a lot more than a "comedy bit":

I was in awe, saying out loud, several times: "Why have I never seen this before?" Why isn't that more famous? You endlessly hear — it's knee-jerk at the mention of the Spanish Inquisition — about Monty Python's "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." Why isn't that Mel Brooks song-and-dance more deeply engrained in the culture? Is it because he's Jewish?

Misunderstood word of the day: Yardy.

I was reading a Guardian article titled "Can Oregon's tiny houses be part of the solution to homelessness?"
The 30 dwellings at Opportunity Village[, in Eugene, are] made of prefab donated materials, cost “around $3,300 a unit.” The savings come from the fact that they are basically detached bedrooms, with no utilities or running water....

[And] Dignity Village, two hours’ drive north, on the outskirts of Portland... began in 2001 as a “tent city”, and a protest against the city’s harassment of homeless people... From 2003, the tents were replaced with tiny homes. Since then, the village has successfully offered housing on the communalist model that Opportunity Village is patterned on.
A commenter named RoughSleeper:
They look like sheds on allotments. In which case, can we have chickens and grow our own food? Will there be some kind of community policing to stop a yardy culture growing?
Chickens and growing your own food? I assumed "yardies" were something like "foodies" and filed away the new slang to use the next time Meade fantasizes about putting a chicken tractor and greenhouse in our backyard.

But that's not what RoughSleeper was talking about. Urban Dictionary says — I'll quote the more polite definition — "Yardy is another word for a Jamaican, specifically one from a difficult socio-economic area. The term stems from the slang name given to occupants of government yards in Trenchtown, a neighborhood in West Kingston, Jamaica. Trenchtown was originally built as a housing project following devastation caused by Hurricane Charlie. Each development was built around a central courtyard with communal cooking facilities. Due to the poverty endemic in the neighborhood, crime and gang violence became rife, leading the occupants of Trenchtown to be in part stigmatized by the term 'Yardie.'"

Al Franken: "Climate change? It's not real."

"Good stand-up comedy cannot be safe; it must shock or surprise an audience."

"Some comics can do it magnificently with insights about socks, but the best do it with bracing commentary about the stuff that really matters to us. Sex, race, politics and religion have been the source of some of the best comedy I’ve seen, but the process of figuring out how to talk about difficult issues is going to involve errors that are potentially painful for people in the audience."

Writes the comedian Guy Branum, trying to help Trevor Noah off the hook for all the non-PC stuff in his Twitter archive.

By the way, "insights about socks" is a reference to Jerry Seinfeld. Many, many comedians over the years have observed that socks get lost in the laundry. But this is how you do it "magnificently":

ADDED: By the way, if Trevor Noah can be brushed off and set aright, can we bring back Michael Richards?

"The Indiana he knew as a kid was completely homophobic. Take my word for it."

Said Meade, upon hearing Letterman's "David Letterman's Top Ten Guys Indiana Governor Mike Pence Looks Like" routine, which begins: "This is not the Indiana I remember as a kid. I lived there for 27 years, and folks were folks, and that’s all there was to it. We all breathed the same air, we were all carbon-based life forms. We didn’t care."

Meade was born in Indiana in 1954 and lived there until 1971. "I don't remember anyone, ever, saying it's okay to be gay or that you should treat gay people the same as anyone else. The only thing I ever heard was disparaging or it was joked about and behind the joking was pretty thinly veiled fear. There were no 'out' gays." Meade called Letterman "delusional" and repeats something I said the other day: "Stop otherizing Indiana."

I'm going to defend Letterman a bit, even though I'm sure Meade is right about  Hoosiers and homosexuality in the 1950s. One thing is, Letterman makes no effort to understand what RFRA actually says and how it is likely to work in practice: "Honestly, I don't know what [Mike Pence] is talking about." He's operating at a higher level of abstraction, where Hoosiers are stereotypically friendly and nice to everybody. That's what he remembers, and that is the Hoosier brand. Ironically, Mike Pence — in his disastrous turn on ABC's "This Week" — relied on the same branding:
Hoosier -- come on. Hoosiers don't believe in discrimination. I mean the way I was raised, in a small town in Southern Indiana, is you're -- you're kind and caring and respectful to everyone. Anybody that's been in Indiana for five minutes knows that Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan, it's a reality. People tell me when I travel around the country, gosh, I went -- I went to your state and people are so nice....
Yeah, you're the nice people... unlike those people in other states. Well, I just have 2 things to say about that: 1. You're otherizing the people of the other states who have to be less nice for it to be noticeable that your people are so nice, 2. Niceness is a superficial quality, and it's a quality that makes it hard to tell whether the seemingly nice person thinks ill of you or not. Those stereotypical Hoosiers might hate your kind. How would you know?

By the way, has David Letterman ever said disparaging things about gay people on his show? All the jokes in there over the years, going back to the "Tonight" show appearances? I think it would be extraordinary if he didn't. Mocking gay people was, of course, absolutely the norm for Johnny Carson, who expected and got endless laughs over men who are — his words — "light in [their] loafers."

AND: The "Guys Indiana Governor Mike Pence Looks Like" routine isn't consistent with an ethic of friendly kindness and equality. You put up a picture of a man and then throw 10 shots at him for the way he looks. Letterman made a point of not even attempting to understand what Pence was talking about. Let's just make fun of how he looks. Letterman was teaching us that it's just fine to have a gut reaction to a person, to reject the stage in human relations where you see things from the other person's point of view, and to mock him for superficial reasons that have no substance at all.

IN THE COMMENTS: Laslo Spatula came up with 2 answers to my question "By the way, has David Letterman ever said disparaging things about gay people on his show?"

1. In 2011, Letterman joked about Rosie O'Donnell: "The woman she is marrying, her fiancée, was driving... and her car broke down. And guess what happened? Rosie pulls up right behind her in her tow truck." Rosie wondered what motivated him and added: "I don't remember making fun of you when you had sex with all your interns, Dave. I didn't do that. I didn't make fun of your rampant, throbbing heterosexuality, did I Dave?"

2. In 2008, Letterman had a Top 10 list of "things Jim Carrey will always say 'yes' to" including "A Fan Asking for a Hug, Unless He's a Dude" and then a shot Carrey taking a bath with Larry King and Letterman saying "Those guys are so gay!"

April 1, 2015

"This case is garbage. It’s a garbage case. It’s a RICO case that means nothing."

Said one of the lawyers in the case against Atlanta teachers who were accused in a systematic scheme falsifying students' scores in at least 44 schools.
Eleven of the former educators were convicted of racketeering charges, The Associated Press said, in a decision announced [today] in a Georgia courtroom. Only one of the 12 educators on trial was acquitted of the racketeering charge; verdicts on the theft and false statements charges were mixed.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson sent the RFRA bill back to the legislature to be amended to look just like the longstanding federal RFRA.

"This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial. But these are not ordinary times," he said. He wants Arkansas to be known as "a place of tolerance."
“What is important from an Arkansas standpoint is one, we get the right balance,” he said, “and secondly, we make sure that we communicate we’re not going to be a state that fails to recognize the diversity of our workplace, our economy and our future.”...

Several businesses and tech companies, including the state’s largest employer, Walmart, as well as the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Municipal League and other civic groups have spoken out against the legislation.
Meanwhile, in Indiana, under time pressure from — of all things — basketball, the state legislature is working on amending the language in its RFRA.

At the Indiana-Rolls-Her-Own Café...


... come on in, there's CAKE for everybody.

Talk about whatever you like. Consider — if you must shop — using The Althouse Amazon Portal. And click there anyway, because Amazon went retro for April Fool's.

The photograph was taken at Paul's Books in Madison, where there are many delightful little things taped to the bookcases. What "Indiana/Intellectually She Rolls Her Own" means, you'll have to speculate.

"I could literally show you 20 charts, and 19 of them would show no relationship between the amount of parents’ time and children’s outcomes... Nada. Zippo."

Says Melissa Milkie, a sociologist co-author of "the first large-scale longitudinal study of parent time to be published in April in the Journal of Marriage and Family."
The study’s findings shook some parents, many of whom had built their lives around the idea that the more time with children, the better. They quit or cut back on work, downsized their houses or struggled to cram it all in....

Building relationships, seizing quality moments of connection, not quantity, Milkie said, is what emerging research is showing to be most important for both parent and child well-being. “The amount of time doesn’t matter, but these little pieces of time do,” she said. Her advice to parents? “Just don’t worry so much about time.”
What's missing from this analysis, I think, is that a single-earner household can be less stressful and complicated with a division of labor, so that it creates the space in life for those quality things — building relationships and seizing moments and so forth. If you say, I'll go off to work and I'll transport the kids in and out of day care and get everything done including some seized moments, how good will those moments be? I think the real issue here is whether a single earner brings in enough money for the family to live on. But I'm also perceiving the usual encouragement to women to get out there and make careers for themselves. Don't worry about it.

"One of our editors... found some Polaroids from 1977 that showed a large excavation project at The [Playboy] Mansion."

"We asked the new general manager at The Mansion about these photos. He said, very matter-of-factly, 'that’s probably when they built the tunnels in the 70s.'"
So, according this blueprint, tunnels were built to the homes of “Mr. J. Nicholson,” “Mr. W. Beatty,” “Mr. K. Douglas” and “Mr. J. Caan.” We’ll go ahead and assume they’re talking about Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Kirk Douglas and James Caan – all of whom lived near the Playboy Mansion during the late 1970s and early 1980s. There are no dates on the architectural schematics, but the dates on the Polaroids were from 1977.

Cass Sunstein on Friedrich Hayek on the effect of Harriet Taylor on John Stuart Mill.

An essay in The New York Review of Books. Excerpt:
[I]t is crucial to see that in contending that people may be restrained only to prevent “harm to others,” Mill was speaking of the effects of social norms and conventions, not merely of government. Much of his attack was on the oppressive quality of public opinion.... His particular case for liberty emphasized the immense importance of allowing “experiments of living.” In his view, “the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when any one thinks fit to try them. It is desirable, in short, that in things which do not primarily concern others, individuality should assert itself.”

And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the rock, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it.

The inventor of the Pet Rock has died. "Gary Dahl, the man behind that scheme — described variously as a marketing genius and a genial mountebank — died on March 23 at 78."

Shouldn't that be a genial genius and a marketing mountebank?
One night in the mid-’70s, he was having a drink in Los Gatos.... The bar talk turned to pets, and to the onus of feeding, walking and cleaning up after them.

His pet, Mr. Dahl announced in a flash of bibulous inspiration, caused him no such trouble. The reason?

“I have a pet rock,” he explained.

A pet rock, Mr. Dahl quickly realized, might just have legs.

“People are so damn bored, tired of all their problems,” he told People magazine in 1975. “This takes them on a fantasy trip — you might say we’ve packaged a sense of humor.”
Meade sent me that link along with a second link, which he thinks is good material for a bloggerly riff: "Scott Walker, Allergic to Dogs, May Run Against Political History."
Jeb Bush can lament how he lost a Labrador (named for his brother Marvin) to cancer. Marco Rubio has a Shih Tzu, with a name like a gift from heaven: Manna. Ted Cruz goes one better: His rescue mutt is called Snowflake. (“Dear Jesus, please, please, PLEASE bring us a puppy,” his daughters prayed, according to Mr. Cruz’s Facebook page.) And if Mr. Walker makes it to November, he could face Hillary Rodham Clinton and her toy poodle, Tally.

Mr. Walker, who gives a gloomy stump speech filled with “worry,” perhaps could use a four-legged image softener of his own. But he is allergic to dog dander, an aide confirmed.

And in that, he is running against the long sweep of United States political history. If the ritual for presidential candidates wooing American voters had a handbook, “must love dogs” would be somewhere near the front....
Meade thinks Scott Walker could get a Pet Rock and go all Nixon....

And you know, the kids, like all kids, loved the rock, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we are going to keep it.

Bo Ryan was the pinball wizard of Pennsylvania.

He was better than anyone at freezing the flippers, he says. But what's happening in that second video? Nigel Hayes says: "We care more about suckoffs than smash battles. We’re a super smash brothers team. FIFA’s taken a back seat to that, all we care about is suckoffs." Okay, I had to research that. I don't even know what FIFA is, let alone suckoffs. So I think FIFA is a soccer videogame. And I'm going to trust Reddit on "suckoffs":
Is he talking about blowjobs or am I outta the loop on something?

I imagine they are all bad at Smash, so matches are "suckoffs" because they are seeing who sucks the most? That's all I got.
ADDED: You know, there's a lot of pressure on the Badgers to be adorably weird.

"The Problem Isn’t That Trevor Noah Is Offensive. The Problem Is That He’s a Giant Dope."

Headline at Slate.
The problem is not that Trevor Noah tells offensive jokes. It’s not even that he routinely breaks The Daily Show's covenant of speaking truth to power in favor of speaking truth to fat chicks or Thai hookers or, as the Washington Post’s Wendy Todd points out, black Americans who give their kids names that Noah disapproves of. The problem is that Noah’s jokes are so annihilatingly stupid.
Jeez, they're swarming this poor man. A giant dope? Isn't that insult dopey? I read the article, and it seems that Noah's problem is he needs better joke-writers. I'd say: He's getting "The Daily Show"'s joke-writers, so the question is only how he looks, how he delivers the jokes, and how he manages the interviews. If you're not going to rest on the ground that his old jokes were so offensive that he can't be the face of the brand, what's the problem? He's a giant dope? That makes zero sense. It's as if the writer — Jessica Winter — doesn't know that there are writers. That's annihilatingly stupid.

Now, the Wendy Todd article (linked above) makes a much stronger point: It seems that "The Daily Show" may be installing Noah because he's been getting away with mocking black people. Todd, who is black, says:
[On "The Tonight Show"] Noah joked that black people are misidentified as African Americans. “They’re not African, but we’ll play along,” he said, adding, “Many of them really try to connect with Africa, you know? Some of them have these African names. They’ll be like, ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s my girl Wanda, yeah, yeah. Yeah that’s right, that’s Dashiqua, or dat’s Taniqua.” Noah emphasized all this “hilarity” by using stereotypical B-Boy hand gestures to drive it home — because this is how all black people communicate, obviously. Leno’s predominantly white audience ate it up....

Not only did Noah get away with these routines, now he’s being rewarded for them. And the sadder thing is that the next time we have this “there aren’t enough people of color in the late night arena” conversation, people will point to Noah and say, “See, we gave you another one.”

Have we just lost the last person who was alive in the 19th century?

Misao Okawa, born March 5, 1898, has died. She had the distinction of being the oldest person alive, but who is the oldest person now?

Japan identifies a 115-year-old woman as its new oldest person. She was born on March 15, 1900. Perhaps beyond Japan, there is someone older, but it may be that there is suddenly no one left from the 19th century.

IN THE COMMENTS: I am made to regret that I didn't title this post: Have we just lost the last person who was alive in the 1800s?

March 31, 2015

"The contents of the suitcase, an extraordinary collection of found materials that chronicled the adulterous relationship..."

"... between a businessman and his secretary in the late 1960s and 70s, are now on display for all to see at an art gallery in New York."
What makes a man document his affair so meticulously? Did he want to preserve the relationship to relive it later? Was this industrial businessman searching for a creative platform to express his love? Or merely the confirmation of his control over the situation, as he mastered the art of adultery?

The ice regresses on Lake Mendota.




Today, in Madison, where the temperature was 60°, the icy remnants of winter were locked in a struggle to the death with the puffy-clouded sky.

"Trevor Noah, From Progressive Icon to Villain in 24 Hours."

David Weigel looks at the uproar.

"It would be strange indeed to give a clause that makes federal law supreme a reading that limits Congress’s power to enforce that law..."

"... by imposing mandatory private enforcement — a limitation unheard — of with regard to state legislatures," wrote Justice Scalia in an opinion called Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, issued this morning.
To say that the Supremacy Clause does not confer a right of action is not to diminish the significant role that courts play in assuring the supremacy of federal law. For once a case or controversy properly comes before a court, judges are bound by federal law....

The dissent agrees with us that the Supremacy Clause does not provide an implied right of action, and that Congress may displace the equitable relief that is traditionally available to enforce federal law. It disagrees only with our conclusion that such displacement has occurred here.
The dissenting opinion is by Justice Sotomayor, who is joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Kagan.  The statute the 2 sides are interpreting is the Medicaid Act.

ADDED: In the comments, Smilin' Jack says: "WTF? Have they run out of those Easter-Bunny-Display-in-National-Park cases? At least those were funny."

Yes, let's get back to talking about cake. The important thing in America right now is cake. Why are we all hepped up to talk about RFRA (which had previously bored the bejeezus out of everyone)? Cake.

"Our city lost today because the mayor wouldn’t listen to the voices of moderation and pragmatism."

"This should be an issue of local control and, in the end, we are seeing Democrats and Republicans gang up on the city as we were unable to act over the course of months."

Said Madison mayoral candidate Scott Resnick, about a new and bipartisan bill in the Wisconsin legislature that would authorize companies like Uber to operate throughout the state and block local legislation imposing various limitations of the sort Resnick and his opponent Mayor Paul Soglin have been showing enthusiasm for in their campaigns. Soglin said:
"The point is, Uber has got a lot of muscle, they’ve got a lot of money, they have a lot of influence, they’ve done this around the rest of the country, and they have absolutely the best, most vulnerable legislature in the country in Wisconsin to use their campaign dollars to get the legislation they want which is not in the best interest of the riding public. The public needs essential cab service every day of the year, every hour of the day.”

"Auction houses, consignment stores and thrift shops are flooded with merchandise, much of it made of brown wood."

"Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it. Millennials don’t want brown furniture...."

"Millennials have stuff on discs and flash drives.... I don’t think my sons are going to want my walnut table, eight chairs and buffet."

The children of Baby Boomers don't want their shit.

"Jackie lied, Erdely lied, Rolling Stone lied, Teresa Sullivan — at best — went along with a lie. All should face more consequences than they have so far experienced."

Writes Instapundit in what might be the longest ever Instapundit post — with excerpts from Ashe Schow ("Why the Rolling Stone gang-rape story will never be labeled a hoax") and Cathy Young ("The UVA Case and Rape-Hoax Denial").

My question is: Why "more consequences" and not the usual and classic free-speech-loving remedy more speech? It seems as though more speech is working out well enough, or is the complaint that anti-rape activists are still going to use Rolling Stone story to maintain the feeling that something terrible is happening out there? That complaint is a concession of the weakness of your side of the debate. Improve your debate. Your more speech needs to be better. The grim call for consequences is chilling.

ALSO: This post was down for a short time, not because I intentionally took it down, but because I mishandled an open window.

AND: Instapundit responded to this, saying:
Yes, “more speech” is a remedy for opinions one doesn’t like. When speech falls into the category of actions — which false accusations certainly do — it calls for more than simple talk as a response. (But note that Jackie was smart enough not to file a police report, though that should have been a tip-off). And I should note that the fraternity in question was the victim of violent mob action that was ginned up in part by the University of Virginia itself. Is the only remedy for officially-inspired thuggery “more speech?” No. That’s one remedy, but it’s not the only remedy, nor should it be.
I strongly disagree with the proposition that if free-speech law permits negative consequences to be imposed that we ought to want these consequences. I am promoting the more speech approach where the First Amendment would permit negative consequences.

Instapundit quotes a commenter of mine who says "The proper remedy for slander is not 'more speech.' The proper remedy... are [sic]  'consequences.'"

Proper remedy? I'm not purporting to be the arbiter of propriety here. I'm saying what I think is the better policy and the better approach to this political discourse. I called for more and better speech and rejected the "grim call for consequences" as "chilling."

"Saying 'no' has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined."

"No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say 'no.' We are taught not to say 'no.' 'No”' is rude. 'No' is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. 'No' is for drugs and strangers with candy. Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say 'no?' A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: 'yes' makes less."

From "Creative People Say No."

"People often ask me what to teach girls or what they themselves can do to challenge sexism when they see it."

"In general, I'm loath to take the approach that girls should be responsible for the world's responses to them," writes Soraya L. Chemaly, who has come up with a specific and very practical answer: "I say to them, practice these words, every day...."

The words are 3 phrases. Perhaps you can guess before looking. What 3 phrases would do a lot of good for girls if they had an ingrained reflex to say them forthrightly at the appropriate time?

"Justice Dept. sues a university for firing a professor who switched gender."

WaPo reports.

"I’m jealous of the fun Wisconsin is having."

"I love this Wisconsin team so much that I hate them. I hate that they got to go to the Final Four last year, that it was so much fun that all the players who didn’t graduate came back, and that now they get to do it all over again. I hate that they’re taking Final Four selfies, messing with stenographers, adorably embarrassing themselves in press conferences, adorably embarrassing themselves in postgame interviews, growing out their mustaches, and wearing GoPros on their chests. I hate that they (almost) make Bo Ryan likable. I hate that their three most famous fans are a Florida alum (Andy North), a Cal alum (Aaron Rodgers), and an Oklahoma alum (Olivia Munn) who just can’t resist cheering for a team this fun. I hate that this is not only the best player on their team — he’s also the best player in the country.... I hate that all of this is happening with Wisconsin just because it’s not also happening to me. If Wisconsin held an auction in which the highest bidder got to ride mopeds, play FIFA, eat cheese curds, drink Spotted Cows, and do whatever else happens when you hang with the Buzzcuts for a week, I’d bid somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 billion."

Writes Mark Titus.

March 30, 2015

Andrew Sullivan says blogging — 7 hours a day, day after day — "was killing me."

And that's why he quit.

Quit if you need to, and I appreciate what you gave us over the years, Andrew, but 7 hours of work a day is just not that grueling.
"And inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul."

Sullivan said the job resulted in lost friendships and minimal contact with his family. He said his husband, whom Sullivan married in 2007, called himself a "blog widow."
There are 24 hours in a day. Work 7 hours and sleep 7 hours, and there are still 10 hours left. The numbers just don't add up.

Now, I can see how a writer can burn out. The energy needs to come from somewhere to make those words. It's not the same as using manual skills to make something or fix something or doing routine clerical work, which you can bang out for 7 hours a day whether you mind is a blank or a fuzz. You need the spirit, and if the spirit dies and you labor on, maybe you do feel that it's killing you. There might be something about taking on a staff that you need to pay and accepting subscription money that makes it all too obligatory and not intrinsically valuable. But if it is intrinsically valuable, I don't think 7 hours a day, even 7 days a week, is all that hard, and I don't see why it would leave your husband aggrieved. I don't see why it would leave you feeling that you are not spending time with any actual human being.

"This video makes me nervous. The only reason that you can be sure that the monkey doesn't just snap a puppy's neck for the hell of it..."

"... is because it's been widely shared as a 'cute' video. The owner had no way of knowing it wouldn't."

That prompts somebody else share his "monkey story":
When I was vacationing in Thailand about 20 years ago, I was in a busy restaurant that had a small monkey chained to a perch in the corner. I felt sorry for it and went over to give it some attention. I fed it a treat of some sort from my table and allowed it to perch on my shoulder. Then it shoved its fingers into my eye sockets, driving my lids deep into the space between my eyeballs and eyebrows. It wrapped it's legs around my neck and started humping the back of my head, coming before I was able to tear it off.

I came to realize that having a monkey for a pet would be as much fun as taking care of an incontinent, criminally insane person.

In Governor Nelson State Park today, the weather was ideal.

... 55° and gently overcast...


None of the burdens of excessive sun and warmth...


Taps were stuck in maple trees...


A fingertip gathers a drop. Taste it!

How Ted Cruz answers the no-executive-experience/aren't-you-just-like-Barack-Obama question.

"A Brooklyn city councilwoman wants to know why 'blocs' of Asians are living in two Fort Greene housing projects — and suggested it would be 'beneficial' to assign housing by ethnic group."

"'How is it that one specific ethnic group has had the opportunity to move into a development in large numbers?' Laurie Cumbo, who is black, said at a council hearing on public housing Thursday."
Cumbo issued an apology, saying she only wanted to know if the New York City Housing Authority “uses a cultural preference priority component” in picking tenants....

Still, Cumbo told The Post, “There could be some benefit to housing people by culture... I think it needs to be discussed.”
Yeesh. Reminds me of the trouble Jimmy Carter go into 40 years ago when he campaigned (in Indiana, of all places) saying that he wouldn't use the federal government to "circumvent the natural inclination of people to live in ethnically homogenous neighborhoods":
In making the point, he used unusually blunt language about social differences — about "black intrusion" into white neighborhoods, for example. He spoke of "alien groups" in communities, and of the bad effects of "injecting" a "diametrically opposite kind of person" into a neighborhood....

He said, "I have nothing against a community that's made up of people who are Polish or Czechoslovakian, or French-Canadian, or black, who are trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods."

At the Smart Pot Café...


... you can grow anything you want.

(And if you want to buy a Smart Pot like the one Meade is planting, you can buy them at Amazon, here. And please, if you want to buy anything at Amazon, go in here.)

"Two men dressed as women attempted to 'penetrate' the entry point with their vehicle when a shootout occurred...."

ABC reports on the incident at Fort Meade.

Instead of picking on Indiana, why don't we figure out if we want RFRA laws or not?

Here's Jonathan Adler's explanation of "What will the Indiana religious freedom law really do?"
RFRA laws are common, as shown by this map. Whether or not such laws are good policy, they are about accommodating religious belief, not authorizing discrimination....

The Indiana RFRA is not identical to every other RFRA, but the textual differences are not particularly material....

Are there any scenarios in which a state-level RFRA might result in an individual business owner denying service to a same-sex couple? Perhaps. The most likely scenario would be something like a religious wedding planner refusing to help plan a wedding that violates his or her religious beliefs. But even if such laws eventually allow this sort of thing, it is a far cry from... a general license to discriminate against one’s neighbors....
Indiana has focused attention on RFRA laws, but it's stupid to focus on Indiana. These laws are all over the place. Understand them. Understand how they apply in many different scenarios and how they are limited by courts in their application. Understand that if we're going to relieve religious believers of the burdens of generally applicable laws, courts are going to have to avoid preferring one religion over another. You can't accommodate the religions you agree with or think are sweet and fuzzy and say no to the ones who seem mean or ugly. We need to figure that out. If, in the end, you think the Indiana RFRA is a bad idea, check that map and see if your state has RFRA (or a RFRA-like state constitutional provision) and push for repeal in your state. And get after Congress. Congress started it. Unless you're Hoosier, leave Indiana alone. Stop otherizing Indiana.

AND: I had to wonder What does Garrett Epps think about this? Because Garrett Epps wrote a whole book about how terrible it was for the U.S. Supreme Court to deny special exceptions to religious believers, especially in that case where Native Americans wanted the freedom to use peyote. As I predicted, Epps is otherizing Indiana.

"For hundreds of years, women in the South Korean island province of Jeju have made their living harvesting seafood by hand from the ocean floor."

"Known as haenyeo, or sea women, they use no breathing equipment, although a typical dive might last around two minutes and take them as deep as ten metres underwater. Wearing old-fashioned headlight-shaped scuba masks, most dive with lead weights strapped around their waists to help them sink faster...."

Great photos by Hyung S. Kim.

Aaron Rodgers will pull for any team he wants.

"Rodgers... fired back at critics who questioned his fandom and his being on the court following Wisconsin’s Final Four-clinching victory over Arizona on Saturday night...."

Scott Walker's Wisconsin gloom mousse has a testy undertaste, a macho, testy undertaste!

At Yahoo Politics, Senior Political Correspondent Jon Ward has a piece titled "Scott Walker’s gloomy pitch for the presidency." Walker, we're told, once "used the word 'worry' or 'worried' 12 times in the space of 15 minutes":
“As a parent today, I’m worried. I’m worried for our country,” Walker told a few hundred conservative activists in a darkened amphitheater, standing in front of a red stage curtain. “I’m worried about my sons and your sons and daughters, my nieces and your nieces and nephews and grandsons and granddaughters, and I’m worried that we’re headed down that same path that worried me years ago in my own state.”
Ooh! The darkened amphitheater. The red stage curtain. Oh, no: Worry! 

Walker is telling us what's wrong with America. Why not what's right with America? The obvious answer is that if things are going swimmingly, then we should want another Democratic President.

Ward's writing fits squarely into the genre called They'll Tell You Who They're Afraid Of.  He proceeds to blabber about "an undertone of testiness in his stump speech, leavened with chest-swelling machismo fueled by his defeat of a recall effort in 2012 and his re-election in 2014."

Testiness and machismo seem like the opposite of gloom, but I guess gloom is the overtone and testiness is the undertone, while machismo is the leavening.

I won't accuse Ward of mixing metaphors. I think he's got a consistent food-prep metaphor going there.

It calls to mind that line from "Rosemary's Baby." Rosemary takes a nibble of the mousse that the devil-worshiping next-door neighbor has tainted with a knock-out drug and worries: "It has an under-taste. A chalky under-taste."

What's in this mousse anyway? "Mousse," in Wisconsin, we call it "mouse," because we are as naive-or-sinister as the Satanist next door. It's gloom mousse, but it has a testy undertaste, a macho, testy undertaste!

"The Daily Show" chooses Trevor Noah, a South African, to replace Jon Stewart.

The NYT observes that Noah is "nonwhite," but that there's a question "why the network did not choose a woman to crack the all-male club of late-night television hosts."
[Noah] grew up in Soweto, the son of a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss father, whose union was illegal during the apartheid era. “My mother had to be very clandestine about who my father was,” Mr. Noah said. “He couldn’t be on my birth certificate.”

By the time he started performing stand-up in his 20s, Mr. Noah said he had long been taught that “speaking freely about anything, as a person of color, was considered treason.”
According to the NYT, Michele Ganeless, president of Comedy Central, "said that Comedy Central... drew up 'a shortlist' of possible successors 'and Trevor checked off every box on that list and then some.'" That doesn't make sense. If the "list" is a list of "possible successors," how could one person on that list check off "every box on that list and then some"? Obviously, there's some other list. Presumably, it's a list of things Comedy Central thought would be plus factors. I guess being female wasn't one of them. Ganeless seems to have unwittingly stated that Comedy Central really wasn't hoping to put a woman in the anchor seat. Either that or gushy puffery about Noah caused her to say something she didn't mean to say.

Why is Ganeless president of Comedy Central? Perhaps she was promoted beyond her appropriate level.

Anyway, I'm not sold on Noah. I watched the clip of him that was linked at the beginning of the NYT article — I sat through the Coke-and-Pepsi commercial for "Mixify" — which shows him in a colloquy with Jon Stewart. Noah began with what seems to be the old joke "I just flew in and boy are my arms tired." When the predictable groans ensued, Noah held his arms up in the Ferguson hands-up-don't-shoot position and said:
"No, seriously, I've been holding my arms like this since I got here. I never thought I’d be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa. It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days, back home."
So, get ready for jokes against America told in a not-American accent. I guess, not American was on the Comedy Central checklist of plus factors that Noah checked off (and then some).  Yeah, I know, you don't have to get ready because you don't watch "The Daily Show." I don't either anymore. I used to watch every day. I still record every show, but I can't remember the last time I felt like clicking on the recording. Maybe I got tired of Jon Stewart's incessant yelling in disbelief. How could America be so awful? But does that mean I want to hear Noah's mellifluous murmuring about how awful America is?

I know, I'm old. The show is not intended for me. I saw the commercial for Mixify. Coke and Pepsi's effort to get people to "mix" their soda-drinking with nutritious food was, to me, a ludicrously transparent effort to fend off government regulation, not what they want you to think it is:
#Realtalk: Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi understand that balancing your mix of foods, drinks and physical activities can get a little tricky. And since our products can play a part in that equation, we’ve teamed up to help make it easier to find a balanced mix that feels oh so right. That’s where Mixify comes in. It’s like a balance wingman.

Bringing you new combinations to keep your mix fresh and your body right. Like mixing lazy days with something light, following sweaty workouts with whatever you’re craving, and crossing cats with dragons. Because at the end of the day, finding balance keeps you feeling snazzier than the emoji of the dancing lady in red. Balance what you eat and drink with what you do. That’s how you Mixify.
Hashtag Realtalk? A balance wingman? A little tricky? Actually, it's not tricky at all. Don't drink soda. It's not tricky to me, that is, but I take it Coke and Pepsi are trying to trick teach tricks to people who are not me. And maybe those kids will love Trevor Noah.

March 29, 2015



Right now. Seen from our deck.

"In 1998, the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers introduced the idea of 'the extended mind'..."

"... arguing that it makes no sense to define cognition as an activity bounded by the human skull. Humans are masters of mental outsourcing: we archive ideas on paper, we let Google Maps guide us home, and we enlist a spouse to remember where our wallet is," writes Daniel Zalewski in a New Yorker article about an artist, Lonni Sue Johnson, who has suffered from from amnesia ever since, in 2007, viral encephalitis "essentially obliterated her hippocampus."

Her "extended mind" includes: 1. a tote bag full of various notes and maps, and 2. her sister Aline (whose "account of her life [she trusts] as strongly as she used to trust her own memory"). Johnson has a terrible impairment, but reading about her impairments, we see things that are true about ourselves. We may feel that our mind is entirely inside our heads, but the people and things that surround us function enmeshed with our memory. I was especially struck by this paragraph:
Johnson was wearing a magenta turtleneck with black sweatpants and plastic Mardi Gras necklaces. (An amnesiac cannot be trusted with gold.) She had worn the same outfit to the Princeton lab. Some of her favorite clothes are growing threadbare, but it’s difficult to replace them, because she doesn’t accept new clothes as hers.
She doesn’t accept new clothes as hers... We're not that impaired. New things can become ours. But I know the feeling. It's something like what George Carlin was talking about in his delightful monologue "Stuff":

"That's all your house is - a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it." But that's your extended mind, too.

"Sometimes you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff, when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house." Well, of course, you're going to need your mind.

"You get over to your friend's house... and he gives you a little place to sleep, a little bed right next to his windowsill or something... You put your stuff up there. You got your Visine, you got your nail clippers, and you put everything up. It takes about an hour and a half, but after a while you finally feel okay, say, 'All right, I got my nail clippers, I must be okay.'"

What things (and people) do you accept as yours? How are they part of what makes feel okay... makes you remember who you are and what you are doing here?

People dancing in movies are all doing the same dance.

Except Cher. She's doing The Monkey.

Based on that set of clips the essential movie dance is: Face forward, plant your feet apart, elbows up and out sideways, punch one fists up and then the other in a way that causes movement in the rest of your body. No real footwork is involved. The actors in the movies in that video are not Fred Astaire.

Why am I avoiding this Indiana RFRA story?

I've got to examine my own soul! I see it — e.g., here —  and I know I'm avoiding it. There is something to examine. Why is Indiana getting into so much trouble over a type of law that used to be extremely popular? I guess it has something to do with Hobby Lobby and something to do with all that wedding cake business. There was a time when religionists had the ascendancy, and their pleas for relief from the burdens of generally applicable laws fell on the empathetic ears of conservatives and liberals alike.

Look at how pleased Bill Clinton was to sign what was then perceived as important civil rights legislation.

The tables have turned. And now all the liberals are remembering how much they love Antonin Scalia. I mean, not really, but to be consistent, those who are denouncing hapless Governor Mike Pence should be extolling Scalia who ushered in the era of "Religious Freedom" legislation when he wrote:
We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594-595 (1940):
Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities.
(Footnote omitted.) We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. "Laws," we said, are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.

Subsequent decisions have consistently held that the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).
Okay, I'm working my way through this resistance to the topic. What I see is: A different group is activated now and everything looks different. What I feel is: Exquisitely distanced amusement.

"Show me a party to which women are invited but that they overwhelmingly choose to avoid..."

"... and I'll show you a party to which I'd ask you to remember not to invite me."

Guess what the "party" is before clicking through.

"Anyone who saw Reid would say that he looked like he had been beaten up by a guy with a hard left, maybe using brass knuckles..."

"When a guy shows up at a Las Vegas emergency room on New Year’s Day with severe facial injuries and broken ribs, and gives as an explanation the functional equivalent of 'I walked into a doorknob,' it isn’t hard to guess that he ran afoul of mobsters. Yet the national press has studiously averted its eyes from Reid’s condition, and has refused to investigate the cause of his injuries. To my knowledge, every Washington reporter has at least pretended to believe Reid’s story, and none, as far as I can tell, has inquired further."
Writes John Hinderaker, who inquires further.
What happened to Reid is not just a matter of curiosity. Everyone knows that the Reid family has gotten rich, even though Reid has spent his entire career as a public employee. It is known that a considerable part of his fortune came from being cut in on sweetheart Las Vegas land deals that included at least one person associated with organized crime as a principal....

"Is today the day it's getting warm, or is today the ice pellets day?"

"Ice pellets," Meade answers.

"Jeb, or '45,' as he is already being called, hasn’t even announced, and we’re already trapped in the byzantine psyche of Bushworld."

Writes Maureen Dowd.
[H]e’s being yanked in a tug of war between his father’s side, which insists privately that Jeb is a realist who surely must have disapproved of the Iraq invasion, and his brother’s side, which publicly demands that Jeb go full-hawk, becoming the third Bush to use the military in Iraq....
Though Jeb is more apt to do his homework, he’s unformed on foreign policy, like his brother — except that his brother was elected before 9/11. Now the neocons who treated W. like a host body for their own agenda are swirling around Jeb, ready to inhabit another President Bush....